Three Drops from a Cauldron: Beltane 2016

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Three Drops from a Cauldron

Beltane 2016

Three Drops from a Cauldron Beltane 2016

Edited by Kate Garrett

●Three Drops Press● April 2016

First published in 2016 by Three Drops Press Poems copyright © individual authors 2016 Anthology copyright © Kate Garrett 2016 All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal. Kate Garrett has asserted her right to be identified as the editor of this book in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988. Three Drops Press Sheffield, United Kingdom ISBN 978-1-326-61616-8 Cover image is ‘Midsummer Eve’ by Edward Hughes, used under the terms of the CC0 Public Domain license. Book and cover design © Kate Garrett 2016

For Meg Kingston, from all of us – with many thanks and lots of love.

Editor’s Note


Snow King








Persephone Returning


The Barefoot Bride


Woodland Wedding


I watched you sleeping




Bird’s Eggs


Myth Wife


Lament of the Spring Faerie


The Bridge


The Disappearance of Merlin


Charity Jump



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Venus Flower Basket


Love at Beltane


Mother said


The Missing Merry Maiden




The Silver Birch


The Horned God


Fire Festival


Iona Fairy Mound


Galileo discusses Spring with Marina


How Poets Cope with Heartbreak


Tricked by Fairies


Riddle of the Green Man


Red Sky




Recipe for Summer


The Giant and the Strawberry Pickers



Tri Milchi Monath







Editor’s Note It’s that time of year again – spring! – when we welcome you to our Three Drops from a Cauldron Beltane 2016 special. Within these pages you’ll find poems about flowers and poems about faeries, but you’ll also stumble into the darker sides of the green, fertile myths and folktales of Spring. Underneath the new growth are the dead leaves and mulch of autumn and winter. Speaking of new growth, I also want to take this opportunity to welcome the Three Drops editorial team, who joined me in January, and thank them for reading and giving their views on submissions. Becca Goodin, Amy Kinsman, and Grant Tarbard – this anthology is better for your input. Happy reading, love and sunshine, until the Lughnasadh harvest... Kate Garrett Sheffield, England April 2016



Snow King Rex Davies Whatever happened to the Snow King? It’s clear that the Queen got rid of him. In a Narnian pre-nup she seized the performing rights to Winter And sent a shaft of warm budding spring into his cold heart. I think that somewhere he sits Amongst swelling greenery and birdsong Stabbing at pieces of Turkish Delight With his silver fork.


Moment Clint Wastling Walking up the hill from Little Salkeld with two generations of our family plus one developing. Enjoying the warm sun we felt impelled to climb the road, looking for signs, hoping this stone circle would live up to expectations. Long Meg and Her Daughters’ crystalline contours are silent witnesses in the affirmation of spring, praising all that’s feminine. Energy in sound, smell, colour, allow every living thing to focus on the moment When the breath of new life ripples through boughs, twisting the remnants of prayer’s atonement. Long Meg has waited millennia as matriarch of this ring, I have waited just one season for our birth this spring.


Blodeuwedd Gareth Writer-Davies In trim winter hedges leaves have dashed to the long corners. The pen of flowers where men lonely unto themselves with drink wake in the night imagine a woman of candytuft and gorse not mortal (the women of the village nowt but corporeal) the net of desire wide, leaving nothing in its wake. No shame now in being a bastard son but without a name how can a woman give herself to a two up two down a dish upon the slates mates who want her as well. In dreams, Gods slake an itch slay, rape and a woman of flowers must have the raking thorn bad medicine the bud of desire, furbished shorn like a sheep she sweats between the sheets a coupled two backed beast 15

skinned in pennyroyal and beyond moral when with too many tales of violation he tosses and turns teased by a box of tricks. The wanting paradigm old like a clearing in the trees when night the maid of Gwydion is strewing flowers at his feet.


Wail Karen Jane Cannon I wince as she twists your wrist, pops a tiny vein, while you writhe and wail your newborn lung-wail. All around new mothers leak at this primal sound.


Persephone Returning Alison Stone I was no stolen child. I chose to grab the hundred-blossomed flower, to pull until earth opened like a woman and the moss became my bridal veil. My body swelled. Pluto split the bloody fruit and fed me sweetness. We wove our bones together on the clammy ground. Now at my step the cold earth blooms and sex commands its dance. Returned, I skip among the buds. Mother takes me in her leafy arms. But the animals know – beneath my girlish face, a queen who dipped her feet into the lake of death. I am both deserting daughter and abandoned mother holding back the rain. Mine are the dark mysteries, mine, too, the secret of the grain.


The Barefoot Bride Alexandra Carr-Malcolm The barefoot bride in her yellowing gown runs to meet her groom, veil on her head, bouquet nearly dead, as they promise each other the moon. She’s ripped off her wings, thrown them to the winds, bottled her spirit and cast it to sea; and all that she has, she gives it away, wrapped up with a bow of bliss. The last flush of youth, as she reels at the truth, was ‘guised as a banquet of love. The wine tasted sour and she rued every hour; her beauty was slipping away. She yearned for her flight on a star ridden night, as she dreamed of her home, where the comets once shone, she longed to be free and fly to the seas, but her wings and her spirit were gone. He’s cast her aside, the barefoot bride, just a titmouse to his offspring. On a yellow moon night, he woos the wood sprite, as the nymph and the satyr dance on. He gives not a thought to the bride that he caught, she is aged and full of decay, lamenting a love, such as never there was, he has tossed her soft heart away. She waits for the morn, her tears dew on the lawn, sobbing ‘til she has no breath, hair covers her face showing every trace, of betrayal, deceit, and distress; and every night, she is spurned by his plight, to another young love he does troth. As he lives to love life, she dies for his love, and never the twain shall paths cross. Amidst all the tears, aeons marked out in years, her body becomes a gnarled trunk,


she grieves in her pillow, the old weeping willow, her tears and her hair ever flow. Barefoot she stands in a pool of salt tears, now the birds come to roost in her hair, the barefoot bride wails through a willowy veil, and laments her deceased love affair.


Woodland Wedding Sarah L. Dixon The Oxford Post reports a suicide in Wytham woods. Leaves out the details. Missing the fact this was an offering up, a marrying of flesh and leaves, bones and flowers. She had gone to the woods intending to stay. She had nakedly trodden on Beech branches, had taken the rough advances of firs. Then she lay and waited. She slept a while bracken-patterned at dusk. The red squirrels patiently feed her jonquils, to begin a slow yellow death. The wood-chucks are first. Starting at her wrists they remove her skin slowly with beaks and claws. Red admirals shadow the raw flesh, until woolly bears undulate in exploration and her butterfly clothing takes to the air.


I watched you sleeping Carole Bromley Curious how I felt like the intruder though it was my bed you slept in, your cheek cupped in your open hand like a child, trusting. I have never known you better, all talk silenced, all defenses down. I eavesdropped on dreams that wrote themselves across your eyelids. And yet, it was that night I saw I didn’t know you at all, that I never would. You were a stranger and your lips, though lovely, would always keep their words. Watching you wake, I thought of Actaeon studying Diana that day in the wood, poised to fly if he was spotted, not knowing his own hounds would tear him apart.


Gwen Ness Owen (After the Anglesey Folk tale Ifan Gruffydd’s Daughter) To move forward we must sometimes look back I remember only names trapped on my tongue faces behind my eyes a year passed knowingly for everyone but me. I did not look for them why did they choose me? For your mother’s face the village whispers it is not a gift to mirror the dead. I saw them immersed in music lightness, laughter, love too close they drew me in away from my father’s side. Never stopping he visited the thief’s field, night till dawn with the promise of a sight. Go, the elders told him, to the wise man of Maenaddwyn he knows the fair people well. Four fearless men and the strongest rope will get your daughter back. New friends beside him same date and hour 23

they waited for the circle to return. Before them in the dew-rain light bodies, exquisite music me amongst the greenery with rope around his skeleton waist, hawk-grip and unearthed strength they broke the circle and pulled me back. Seasons pass purposefully. I’m home but they look through me they talk in corners scatter salt where I have stepped fear for sons and daughters blame me for poor harvests more invisible than before still my father’s daughter.


Bird’s Eggs David J. Costello He collected bird’s eggs. Used a pin to perforate each one then pressed his lips against the shell and blew the contents out. He kept them bright by wrapping them in nests of cotton wool in old shoe boxes sealed against the light. No one ever saw his wife, but if they asked he’d fetch a pretty box of photographs so they could see exactly how she used to be.


Myth Wife Barbara O’Donnell Recreating the teenage years they never had; stumbling round in graveyards after midnight. He steals cigarettes, kisses, mounts a soft, sustained, tactile campaign; her hands, her wrist, her waist. Over supper he sings to her, afterwards they read in his quiet, sparse room. The wind and rain are more October than July. Sprawled on the couch; he is Oisin, King of Tir Na N’Og. It might be an invitation. Too cryptic, so she keeps reading aloud. If his lips touched hers, the night would end, but their kiss would be timeless. She wishes for Beatrice to his Dante, not Wendy to his Peter Pan.


Lament of the Spring Faerie Liz Ferrets Young dewy-eyed and innocent twisted leafless trees bend towards me and I draw buds light green life from within Opening fresh and new purple crocus bluebell snow drop daffodil bloom and make me smile Until young lovers in their clumsy self absorbed embrace tumble on the woodland floor and trace a path that crushes under tangled limbs— my flowers!


The Bridge Jane Røken We’ll meet on the bridge, the old sun-eaten plank where it all began: couch grass, thorny trails and the tall trees, their shafts of light, pillars of light: alive, pulsing. And the banks of the stream will be covered in mists, veils and whirlyjigs where firedrakes, golden salamanders are living, laughing and lusting: alive, pulsing. Ah yes, we’ll meet there down by the stream; and with hands like flowers we will touch, with the eyes of wanderers we will touch – the trail ahead lies open: alive, pulsing.


The Disappearance of Merlin Linda Ann Suddarth In Memory of Daniel Noel You gave me a gift then disappeared; I’m left holding the wand the coned hat the stars swirling. You said to name the baby, “The Song of Nature in the Dance with the Imagining Psyche”. In my soul I knew it was right, the music flows interweaving the invisibles with matter. The fairies danced and chirped “Choose me, choose me! We’re ready to come out of hiding.” The stage was set the adventure to begin “I turned to share the transport…”* but where are you? “The song of nature called me,” you said. “I could not resist. But I am in the stone the woods, the streams, the everlasting sea you will always find me.” 29

Now I wander in the woodlands flitting from tree to tree stirring the silence of the trickling stream. I still hear the music the giggle of dolphins but feel the vast horizon of sea and sky. Ah, trickster magician all is turned around. You see, I am the one caught and held in space and time.

*‘Surprised by Joy, Impatient as the Wind’ William Wordsworth


Charity Jump Sally Spedding Queen of the sky, her eyes ignite at the space of space that tears her breath as she leaps to float newborn and cradled down to earth over Ffos-y-Ffin and the muffled sea facing the land that made her. Spreadeagled, splints along her thighs, she rides the kites that lurch from the Saturday hill. Still mute with joy she sees her house, her lover, child. Both arms embrace the drift of sheep on shapely green before Brigantia’s breath - a sudden roar, sweeps her north and listing on the mercy of emptiness. This is not the plan. A martyr’s tear drags from her eye, her burden locked, unbillowing. Falling past ancient trees, log cabins with retirement teas and news east of the hills. A place of strangers, sheltered host of cries lost to the foreign breeze. Its layered humus, after centuries shivers to this breech death. Welcome to the silence of a myriad small things. The couple from Todmorden make their way on unworked ankles; knotted fingers clinging to a life endured as the forest fills their shoes.


‘Happen it were a bird,’ he says, his tired eyes already in the Otherworld. His stick divining in the Sidh for gold, while above, the palaver of rooks is stilled for the Greater Queen's whispering note. And they sing as if this was the only voice. Their lullaby.


Persephone Rachel Bower I Persephone. A woman of black and yellow words. Tall as an elm, she was strong, she was quick, she was clever. We held hands in class, but it could not last. We sat naked in her mother’s garden on clover and wild grass breathing buddleia and dog violet planted by Demeter close to the traffic. We licked rosemary and salt from our palms. She taught me to hold a seed so tightly that it sprouted through my fist seeking water and soil. Butterflies stained her legs like glass, crimson and saffron. But it could not last. She gave me a living necklace of ladybirds. Bees settled on her lips and she spoke vibrating words yellow and black. She spoke of a time when we will not hurt each other when the weeds will take it all back. II One day she leant to touch a daffodil so bright it stung her eyes. A narcissus light amidst iris and hyacinth and as she touched the petal the ground split beneath her.


an almighty crack, a black wound opened in the grass, and Hades took her. Persephone! Come back. But she couldn’t. I was not strong enough to hold her above the earth. III Hades took her and made her his ‘bride’ but she will never be a bride – she belongs to the bees and the traffic and the flowers and it will not last. IV The daffodil became rank, sunflower slime pooled and ants gathered. Demeter her mother sat in Black. We took her cherry jam but it remained sealed in gleaming jars. She did not leave the house. The garden choked, the leaves crumpled and deep below the earth the daughter became thin as a


w i s p Dried husks of bees fell on petals of dust and paper ladybirds and I remembered her black and yellow words and we fought and we shouted for her freedom. V Hades and Zeus made a ‘deal’. She could come back. But before her release they gave her pomegranate seeds. Four rubies, glistening beneath the earth red in the dark. And she ate them. Persephone. Come back. And she came. But it could not last. She was bound by those seeds to return. VI We held hands again and we kissed. We beat the dust from her braids scrubbed the soil from her lips wiped the muck from her eyes. We watched a cloud of pigeons in the sky. We flew to an island of glittering rock a place without softness with no underbelly of earth to split and suck her down. But we could not live on sparkling crystal – no seed can sprout there. We entered a prism of orange glass and danced to the beat of the night kitchen with faces close and moving hips we laughed and moved and kissed.


But we could not stay in tangerine glass – no seed can sprout there. But it was sweet: her butterflies drank molasses and we touched sticky lips and lemonade tongues her bees drank cola and hummed and made the dark honey of the city. But it could not last. This time I knew it was coming. When the horse fly switched from nectar to blood I knew he was coming. The mosquitoes drank from rotting fruit and the treacle started to stick and make me sick from the stomach. And the tarmac, that was flapjack, became hot tar again. It stuck in clods to her shoes Clotting in lumps til she could barely lift her feet then the earth cracked and she plunged, feet-first, again to Hades. I saw black holes in her face. Persephone. Come back. But she couldn’t. I was not strong enough to hold her above the earth. VII And now when she returns we fly and we touch sweet tongues but we know the earth will split again each year. VIII It. will. not. last. One day we will be strong enough to hold her: we will unite and hold her above the earth and the seasons will not follow her abduction or her temporary reprieve


but will be anchored by our wombs we will hold her and her wounds and never again will she be abducted and abused trafficked and used. We will hold her, and we will hold each other and we will bleed into the earth and the bees will return and Persephone will speak vibrating words. Those black and yellow words of freedom and of justice. Black and yellow words and the weeds will take it all back.


Venus Flower Basket Phoebe Nicholson The Venus Flower Basket, or Euplectella aspergillum is a sponge inhabiting the deep ocean. In traditional Asian cultures, this particular sponge (in a dead, dry state) was given as a wedding gift because the sponge when alive houses two shrimp, who mate and live out their lives inside the sponge. Each spring, bees appear in the grass. The warm wakes them and the clockwork queens tick up and set off. They dodge my ankles in the dash to find a nest to fatten with family. Gulping pollen, gulping earth, she pulls the wax into eggs, into the gumming clack of grubs fed endlessly, to grow work, to grow an army in the thin air. A warm noise thickens the nest and lungs thick with sugar, nectar-heavy, a cramp of drones and daughters fresh from the foxgloves, thistles, knapweeds, picnics where they licked the stick from spoons. The nest, rattling. Frantic. Fur bristling. Feet working. High summer, and then, just as quickly, hibernation.


And the long swell of silence surviving the winter. The queen bled out, a crisped shell in the chill impossibly poised on a still wing on the floor of the hive. Some days I cannot think to live like that. Some days I would rather fold up underwater, boom to the bottom of the ocean to crawl with the ant-sand and pricklecrabs of tiny lights and spikes and eyeless. My fierce gods, my sting paling – the whales washing overhead.


Love at Beltane Maggie Mackay May Day Eve. Ash Moon surrenders to midnight’s utter brilliance, companion bats and an owl. Jack the Lad lights the beacon; it spire-spits onto the glassed loch. A stramash of limbs topple towards the belfire kindle on the hilltop ridge. Blood men spin, eyes dilated, rimmed with kohl, like red skittles mouthing vows, striking cymbals. Their tongued incantations rain the air. Hail, Hail, Green Man, good fortune be ours. Protect us from ill. The world splits, from the highest heaven to the middle of the earth, in one cacophony. Blue-skinned Celts dance with abandon, curve-jump singing flames. Sweet summer campion, daisies, willow herb, garland the May Queen’s brow; she circles morning dew, spike-blades of green shoots. Finale. Sun sweeps in on a crescendo, a pulse-palette over the glen.


Mother said Vicki Morley Mother untied me today from my hessian dress. She cut the laces, I saw lice escaping into the mud. My hair braided, I jump into dirty water after my brother. Free from winter, we scream round the garden, disturbing the pig feeding on sorrel. The grass is licking my feet as I tread the green pelt, holding tight to my yellow ribbon. Remembering to go over red and under the blue as we weave colours of the first May morning. Goody Archer’s head juts from her window, prays for angels to protect us from evil, dancing round the May pole. The squire is arriving for the feast. Mother is certain I will be May Queen but who will be king?


The Missing Merry Maiden Andie Berryman She is presented onto the village green, dressed in ribbons, the children dance around her like the grass, buttercups and ivy, once did. The children giggle as they dance about; she catches a sniff of carnal scent coming from the bushes, if she had a mouth she’d smile. If she had a hand she’d brush it down a lover's shoulder. She’d cheated the curse to became stone like her sisters and opted to be wood, at least she could be burnt and return to the earth but she wanted to be buried and pressed so hard, that eventually she’d be a diamond. She hoped May the First was on a Sunday and this year, she will get her wish.

*This is based on the myth of the merry maidens from Cornwall who were turned to stone for dancing on Mayday on a Sunday. 42

Koru Rebecca Gethin I am the newborn the flickering spring tender in my unravelling – I revel in the spiral of my slow uncoil.

* The koru is used in Maori art as a symbol of creation because of its fluid circular shape, both backwards and forwards. 43

The Silver Birch Caroline Hardaker One March, in my youth, I looked into the bark of the ancient birch and I saw a pale face there, eyelids down, drooped, misted around with silver hair. This languid form was slender, thin, and bent each way the wind would sway her. Her skin was stone – encrusted with the close of Winter’s frosts, her hair entwined with the browning ends of dying ivy, her frail arms raised to sky, alone, hailing something in. I would visit her every night that Spring waiting for the sun to set. What a thing I’d see. Every twilight, the cold spring air awoke her hair and it would ripple with hundreds of glittering beetles like stars or the skims of the moon on the sea. And then she’d smile, knowing she would not be defeated by Winter and would care for her birds again.


The Horned God Amy Kinsman Where do lambs go? Is all they ever know the thin summer rain that sweetens each blade of grass trodden so carelessly beneath hooves? Sons grow thick with August and ewes forget them, come the autumn. (He was a lamb, once, the same who had commanded storm clouds over oceans lay in the barn, slick with the womb his mother lovingly licked from newborn wool – her first, but not the last she’d bear the man with the staff that laid down his cloak and slept in their midst, waiting for wolves). Where do chicks go? Perhaps stories of the dead fox nailed over the doorway were not enough to stay curiosity. But do vixens pray to that same deity as beasts of field and feather to save their child from what hunts them? (All names are his. He of the bramble and the briar who presides over vermin Dweller deep, Lord of fish and frogs Swiftest, among horses and Silence over owls


First among the pack, Last of all the flock, Watcher ‘til the great wake.) Where do dead things go? The parts not fit for eating, the bones, the gristle? Earthworms will wind their way around it, nothing gone to waste but interred into the earth where all things return. (And the horned god? He sits in the lorry’s corner as it speeds along the A1, hands tangled in the unshorn wool of last spring’s lambs.)


Fire Festival Mary Franklin Don’t even whisper it, my father says, those dark days are past, though I know that Druids offered the fairest maidens to their god, Bel, when their cromlech growled at Beltane. I plait my blonde hair, bind it with a leather cord, wrap it round my crown as the full hare moon gazes down from its celestial throne. Father’s too deep in mead to spy me making eyes at the Celtic lads. Then I see one of the Druids watching me, not with lust or longing but in a way I do not know. My leather skirt swirls as I unfasten my hair and let it unfurl like a golden halo around my head dancing, dancing always southways.


Iona Fairy Mound Seth Crook The fairies only come to dance in Spring. From where, we cannot say. Rude to interrupt them on the hill or count the cost of tiny dance marks. They do not love us. They do not care. They do not hate us. They do not care. No more to them than white horses racing in the bay. We live for thirty weeks as they count things. They saw our great-great grandmas gaze.


Galileo discusses Spring with Marina Angi Holden Don’t talk to me of snowdrops, of primroses and aconites. Don’t talk to me of blossom, bud or bloom. Don’t talk to me of calf or lamb, or suckling pig. This is mathematics, the path of planets encircling the sun. This is gravity, the arc of orbit, the elliptic path. This is equator, this is Cancer and Capricorn. Yes dear, she replies, lifting his hand, placing it on her belly. The swell is almost imperceptible, a matter of alignment, This one a boy, a golden son to run rings around the girls.


How Poets Cope with Heartbreak Margaryta Golovchenko I want to do to you what Madagascar moths do with bird tears: swallow you whole without digesting, no bones to choke on. Translation: Dear Psyche with my feather in her hair, the sun feels lukewarm since you’re gone; Proserpina’s been expecting you over for tea and gossip about her brute. Remember uncle Chronos screaming at us hitchhikers, polluting the Milky Way with saliva? Orpheus asks you to pass along a hello to his agapi. Buds are blooming, my mistress calls after a winter of undead hands clinging to her skin. She doesn’t gush love like you did, like puss coming out. Nor does she blindly grab for the ribs to ensure her amethyst is spotless still. Mother, well mother’s glad, better for spring’s hormones to rage than birds to be born wingless.


Tricked by Fairies Dennis Trujillo On my walk to the train station I pass a stand of twisted pines and spot two middle school students, a boy and girl in their blue-gray uniforms, hiding beneath the branches. They’re sharing a cigarette and a carton of strawberry milk, her hand cupping his elbow. Bright and cute, their faces shine through the morning mist like polished wooden dolls. Say something, my inner voice demands, It’s your duty as a teacher. I glance back, but they’ve vanished, leaving a scent of primrose. Around the trees empty streets and a badminton court—no place to hide. Baffled, I turn away then laughter, taunting and playful, drifts down like soft dew from high in the tangled branches.


Riddle of the Green Man Rose Cook Here, I have head, but not heart, yet of life, I am life. You may wander for years and not see me. I am spirit, whip o’ will, the colour of life. I take no wife of my own, but all wives will know me. I have many names: Jack jumping to startle. I am here to remind; you are limited, you humans. Small enough to destroy, you must know that you need me. I am juice. I am berry. I am sap. I am merry. I can thrust through a floor, touch the sky, turn the world back to balance. Airborne, I am sound. I am precious gift offered. Listen, don’t lose me.


Red Sky Sue Kindon Fanning flames, you might think, to raise the field-glass one bleary morning and see this age old offering of smoke rising from the dark side of the hill, where it won’t let go the almanac. All day, ashen air nags at the nostrils, quarantines our questions about origins. Pent up centuries of hearsay singe the Boar’s Back; bristle-trees fester. A red meniscus puts off nightfall. Fitful sirens wake, stoking primitive dreams: limbs twitch, blue lights wink. Next morning, no mention. Acrid mist.


Mayday Rachel McGladdery The season grinds, the century turns moss turf springs beneath the tender kidney of her foot they’re ducking under branching shadows on both skin and skirt, a darker white he presses home she sees the undersides of leaves feels birch knots in her back his fingers’ fervour cramming small sharp fruit he’s feeding her with scent later dazed by back-lit clouds she totters up creased and stained and stiff the back of her good dress.


Recipe for Summer Oz Hardwick Passion comes from Latin, the purple fruit of agony, subtropical and easy, its vines suffering – the perfect example of acquiescence to God’s wishes. First, though some writers begin the story as early as summer, vines may lose leaves in cool winters, so cut the meat lengthways. As petals and sepals represent the apostles, season with smoked rock salt, stigmas figuring nails driven through soft flesh, spilling some of the juice, gloopy and warm. Despite initial, and very human, reluctance and fear, you must strain the pulp and seeds through the crown of thorns, yielding wounds, gently warmed, set to music, used in drama and as subjects for glass and statues. Crush the anthers and filaments, fragrant flavours of details, contexts and meanings of historical events, as vine's tendrils equate with coiling whips. Ultimately, avoid fruit that feels light for its size, avoid injustice, doubt, fear, pain or degrading death. Instead, scatter leaves, and serve cold indoors; for roots resprout, even if the top is killed, and need protection, each specimen requiring resurrection.


The Giant and the Strawberry Pickers Joanne Key In the early hours, the scent of strawberries wafts through her windows. She’s stuck inside, stacking the shelves of a dream with jars stuffed to the brim with boys – tiny figures trapped like wasps in a honey pot. She wakes as stings begin to poke through the polka dots of the waxed lids, feeling their way, seeking the soft pads of her fingers. She brushes them off like specks of dust, dresses quickly, finds her gloves. The pickers will be out early to avoid the heat. They like to harvest in the coolest part of the day. She watches the boys as they race each other for the pick of the crop. They use their hands to outline what they want to find, painting the perfect shape against the skyline, the backdrop of first light. They cut the air with penknives, sweep the sunrise into cupped hands to show each other their perfect visions of hourglass figures. The boys compare colours of berries: a scarlet woman goes all the way to dull urban rose. They discuss all the hints 56

of skin and tints of lipstick, every possible shade of blush and kiss. But they don’t have colours or shapes for the likes of her – a giant girl, with big feet and only two crooked teeth, a giant girl who loves everything sweet. The boys laugh and chatter about ugly fruit – the ones they throw away between beds. When they’re done picking the best, they lie down on picnic blankets in the shadow of the girl’s boot and fall asleep under her heel. She imagines what it would feel like to squish them, tread them like little grapes, squeezing them until they burst, ripe bodies oozing juice. Instead, she plucks them while they snooze, stuffs them into her pockets and carries them away to her dreamhouse where she dips their heads into vats of jam, holds them to her lips like lollipops.


Tri Milchi Monath Margaret Holbrook With bonfires lit, we watch winter die in flames as summer is received. And in the early morning dew a maiden will wash her face and hope to be a queen. Jack in the green will strut, if there are chimney-sweeps to dress. And in the church, a green man may smile down. Hobby Horses will dance and at the Maypole, innocence entwine. Men, faces blackened or not, will make steps in time. And the hawthorn, our talisman, shall bring forth May.


Midsummer Tim Dwyer Hudson Valley Behind our houses a stone wall meanders, forgotten for over fifty years, surrounded by the returning trees. I’m passing from the land of one dead farmer to another. Branches of elm and oak commingle, the stone wall opens to a rolling pasture – I could be looking at the Irish Midlands. I am searching for the great trees spared from centuries of field clearing, conquest and violent stormstrees that were boundaries of settlers' farms, or places of ceremony where Wappinger and Mohican or Ulaidh and Connachta made the peace. I want to find the lost cairn now covered by bramble where travelers tossed small stones to honor ancestors and spirits who were one and the same. I come across a mysterya small circular mirror nailed to a massive oak. How long has it been here, who looked in it before me – what did they see?


If encounters remain as lingering traces in this world, what will the mirror show me, what will be my trace? Wishing for a book of leaves to reveal a hidden language in these trees.


Writers Andie Berryman campaigns against the patriarchal construct of fairytales in all their capitalist forms (especially Disney). Andie writes reviews, and sometimes, stories and poems. Rachel Bower is an Artist in Residence at Bank St Arts in Sheffield and a Cultural Research Fellow at the University of Leeds. She runs Verse Matters, a feminist arts event in Sheffield, and performs her poetry across the region. Carole Bromley is a teacher from York. She has two pamphlets and a collection from Smith/Doorstop and a second book, The Stonegate Devil, was published in October 2015. Carole is the Stanza rep for York, blogs at and from October 2015 has been running poetry surgeries in York for the Poetry Society. Website Karen Jane Cannon’s poems have appeared in a variety of print and online journals, including Acumen, Orbis, Obsessed with Pipework, The Interpreter’s House and Ink, Sweat & Tears, as well as anthologies such as Rewiring History and The Sea. She was commended for The Flambard Poetry Prize 2014 and has an MA in Creative writing from Bath Spa University. Alexandra Carr-Malcolm, a British Sign Language Interpreter, lives in Yorkshire. Featured in five collaborative anthologies, her first anthology Tipping Sheep (the right way) was released in 2013, and her second, Counting Magpies was released in 2015. Her 61

poetry focuses on the human predicament, featuring word play, cadence and hidden meaning. David J. Costello lives in Wallasey, Merseyside, England. He is a member of Chester Poets. David has been widely published on-line and in print including Prole, The Penny Dreadful, Shooter, Magma and Envoi. David is a previous winner of the Welsh International Poetry Competition and received a special commendation in the year’s competition. His debut pamphlet, Human Engineering, was published by Thynks Publishing in October 2013. A second pamphlet will appear in September 2016 from Red Squirrel Press. Rex Davies is a poet in the autumn of his years. But that was always his favourite season. Careful what you wish for... Tim Dwyer’s recent book is: Smithy Of Our Longings: Poems From The Irish Diaspora (Lapwing Publications, 2015). His poems have appeared in journals including Boyne Berries, Cork Literary Review, The Stinging Fly and Stony Thursday Book. His parents were from East Galway and he currently lives in Stamford, Connecticut. Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor. Her collection A Handful of Water was published by Cinnamon Press (2013), who also published her two novels. She is a gardener, a children’s book seller and runs poetry workshops in Devon. She has a website:, and her Facebook page is: Gareth Writer-Davies was Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition in 2015, shortlisted for the 62

Bridport Prize and the Erbacce Prize in 2014, Highly Commended, Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize in 2013 and 2012. His pamphlet Bodies was published in 2015, and is now available through Indigo Dreams. Joanne Key lives in Cheshire where she writes poetry and short fiction. She won 2nd prize in the 2014 National Poetry Competition and has previously been shortlisted for Poetry for Performance, The Bridport Prize, Mslexia Poetry Competition and The Plough Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared both on line and in print. Completely in love with poetry, she writes every day and her work is often inspired by elements of fairytale and folklore. Maggie Mackay has published in Still Me… (, winner of the Writers’ Circle Anthology Award 2014, with work in various publications including Open Mouse, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Bare Fiction, The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed with Pipework, Prole, I am not a Silent Poet, The Screech Owl and Three Drops from a Cauldron, and forthcoming in The Linnet’s Wings. She is a second year MA student at Manchester Metropolitan University, and a co-editor of Word Bohemia ( Rat keeper. Light sleeper. In the evening she's a singer with the band. Liz Ferrets battles her demons in a quiet Sheffield backstreet. You can catch Liz showcasing her work on the Sheffield Spoken Word open mic circuit and lift her words from the page and screen from both the Three Drops and I Am Not a Silent Poet webzines/anthologies. Liz holds a degree in 63

Communication Studies (qualification for jack-shit – but interesting) and having only started writing seriously last year, does not have a background in literature or writing … She writes from the heart about things that make her think … and hopes that it makes other people think too... Clint Wastling is a writer based in the East Riding of Yorkshire. He’s had stories published in “The Weekly News” and online at His stories have appeared in anthologies in the USA and UK. Calico Blue is available on kindle. His first novel, The Geology of Desire, was published recently by Stairwell Books. Amy Kinsman is a poet and playwright living in Sheffield, England. In her spare time, she is an editorial assistant at Three Drops from a Cauldron. Her work has previously appeared, or is forthcoming, in After the Pause, Glass Octopus, Pankhearst (Slim Volume; America is not the World), Rust + Moth and Up the Staircase Quarterly. Find her online at Margaret Holbrook grew up in Cheshire where she still lives. She writes poetry, plays and fiction. Her work has appeared in several anthologies and her poetry has appeared in magazines including, Orbis, The Journal, SLQ and The Dawntreader, and the ezine, Napalm and Novocain. Sarah L Dixon has toured a ten minutes x ten poets Arts-Council funded format in 2014 and 2015 as The Quiet Compere. Sarah has been published in The Interpreter’s House, Stare’s Nest, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Loose Muse, BOMP 3, YorkMix and Rain Dog among 64

others. Site here: or @quietcomperemcr on Twitter. Ness Owen lives on an island where she writes poetry and plays. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry Wales, Red Poets and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Phoebe Nicholson is a poet and trainee lexicographer usually based in Oxford but temporarily living in the windswept Belgian coastal town of Ostend. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines and e-zines, including The Fractured Nuance, The Interpreter’s House, and Words Dance. She also edits the Catweazle Magazine, a quarterly arts magazine currently in its third year, inspired by the long-running Oxford performance night ( Linda Ann Suddarth has been writing poetry and drawing/painting for more than thirty years. She has recently published poems in Parabola, Silver Birch Press, Anima, and Red River Review. Linda has a BFA in painting, an interdisciplinary MA in Aesthetic Studies, and a PhD in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. She teaches English, Art, and Humanities at the College level. Linda’s blog is Vicki Morley is a strange hybrid, having worked in intelligence at GCHQ at Cheltenham and been head teacher of two comprehensives, took early retirement. Some of her short stories she read at Falmouth’s Telltales, a local writers’ group. This was a useful antidote to removing slugs from vegetable beds. Then she moved to the town of Penzance which is relatively slug free and she writes poems. In 2014 she read a selection at Penzance’s Golowan Festival and The Literary Festival. Her ambition is to keep the local 65

independent bookshop open and she is currently buying from their poetry selection. Mary Franklin has had poems published in print and online in Iota, The Open Mouse, Ink Sweat and Tears, London Grip, Message in a Bottle, The Stare’s Nest, Three Drops from a Cauldron and in anthologies by Ragged Raven Press and Three Drops Press. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Seth Crook taught philosophy at various universities before moving to the Hebrides. He does not like cod philosophy in poetry, though he likes cod, poetry and philosophy. His poems have appeared in such places as Gutter, New Writing Scotland, Northwords Now, Southlight, Causeway, The Interpreter's House, Orbis, The Rialto, Magma, Envoi, and Antiphon. One of his poems was selected as one of the Best Scottish Poems of 2014. Angi Holden is a freelance writer, whose work includes prize winning adult & children’s poetry, short stories & flash fictions, published in online and print anthologies. She brings a wide range of personal experience to her writing, alongside a passion for lifelong learning, Her family are central to her life and her research into family history is a significant influence on her work. Jane Røken lives in Denmark, on the boggy interface between hedgerows and barley fields. She is fond of old tractors, garden sheds, scarecrows and other stuff that's on the way to change into something else. Her writings have been sighted in many different places, mostly online. Oz Hardwick is a poet, photographer, academic, and music journalist, with delusions of musical competence. He lives in York with his wife and cat, has written and 66

edited many books, and has won numerous prizes – one or two of which were for writing. Sally Spedding was born by the sea in Porthcawl, Wales, and her poetry has been widely published and won/ been shortlisted in several international competitions including the Aesthetica Poetry Award, the Bridport Prize and the Anglo-Welsh Poetry Competition twice. She is also a reviewer, adjudicator and speaker at literary events. Like her crime novels and short stories, her poetry explores what lies hidden in people and places. Margaryta Golovchenko is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, Canada, and serves as the editor for the journals Half Mystic and The Spectatorial. Her work has appeared in publications such as Luna Luna Magazine, [parenthetical], and The Teacup Trail, and her debut poetry chapbook Miso mermaid is forthcoming this fall from words(on)pages press. When not maneuvering around her mountain of to-be-read books, she can be found sharing her (mis)adventures on Twitter @Margaryta505. Sue Kindon's poems have appeared in a variety of magazines, and have achieved some success in competitions. She lives and writes in the French Pyrenees. Caroline Hardaker is a poet, artist, and amateur cryptozoologist who lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne with her husband, a forest of houseplants, a betta fish and a couple of snails with attitude. Her poetry and wordsmithery has appeared in print and online around the world, including Allegro, Neon Magazine, Pankhearst, and I am not a Silent Poet. You can explore her words at, and her artwork at 67

Dennis Trujillo from Pueblo, Colorado, is a former US Army soldier and middle/high school math teacher who happens to love poetry. He now resides in Korea and is employed at Shinhan University in the city of Dongducheon. He runs and does yoga each morning for grounding and focus and for the sheer joy of it. Rose Cook has been published by HappenStance with Everyday Festival (2009) and by Oversteps Books, Taking Flight (2009). Her latest collection is Notes From a Bright Field published by Cultured Llama. Barbara O'Donnell is from West Cork and currently lives in London. She runs two operating theatres at a major teaching hospital and writes in her spare time. Barbara's poetry has been published at Black Sheep Journal, The Screech Owl and Ink, Sweat and Tears. She has also had non-fiction, reviews and interviews published, and blogs at Rachel McGladdery is a poet living in rural Lancashire with her 4 children and assorted animals. Rachel won the inaugural John Lennon Performance Poetry prize in 2010 which was awarded by the poet laureate C.A.Duffy. She is published in magazines, on-line journals and anthologies but is yet to produce her own collection. Rachel writes in a confessional, intimate and sometimes political style. She dislikes talking about herself in the third person. Alison Stone’s latest collection, Ordinary Magic, is forthcoming from NYQ Books in 2016. She is also the author of Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), Borrowed Logic (Dancing Girl Press 2014), From the Fool to the World: Poems in the Voices of the Major Arcana of the Tarot (Parallel Press 2012) and They Sing at 68

Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award and was published by Many Mountains Moving Press. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, and a variety of other journals and anthologies. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin award. She is also a painter and the creator of The Stone Tarot. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack. She is currently editing an anthology of poems on the Persephone/Demeter myth.


Previous Publication Credits ‘Midsummer’ by Tim Dwyer was first published in Smithy of Our Longings: Poems from the Irish Diaspora (Lapwing Press, 2014). ‘Love at Beltane’ by Maggie Mackay was first published on the Royal Philharmonic Society website (2014). ‘Blodeuwedd’ by Gareth Writer-Davies was first published in Les Cabinets des Polytheistes. ‘Snow King’ by Rex Davies was first published in Work is the Curse of the Drinking Classes (Bizlike Books, 2013). ‘Tri Milchi Monath’ by Margaret Holbrook was first published in The Dawntreader. ‘Venus Flower Basket’ by Phoebe Nicholson first appeared on Words Dance. ‘Persephone Returning’ by Alison Stone was previously published in Poetry, and They Sing at Midnight (Many Mountains Moving Press, 2003).


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Constellations by Susan Castillo Street Later in 2016 Full Moon & Foxglove: An Anthology of Witches and Witchcraft edited by Kate Garrett Tailfins & Sealskins: An Anthology of Water Lore edited by Kate Garrett & Amy Kinsman Three Drops from a Cauldron: Lughnasadh 2016 Three Drops from a Cauldron: Samhain 2016 Under-hedge Dapple by Janet Philo Back to Yesterday by Zoe Broome There is an island by Johnny Giles Follow the Stag and Learn to Fly by Anna Percy The Unicornskin Drum by Stella Bahin A Sprig of Rowan by Rebecca Gethin The Darkling Child and Other Stories by Catherine Blackfeather Among the White Roots by Bethany W Pope The First Greek Tragedy by Cora Greenhill Lykke and the Nightbird by A.B. Cooper