Three Drops from a Cauldron: Issue Eight


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Welcome to Issue Eight of Three Drops from a Cauldron!

It’s beginning to look a lot like… winter around here lately. We’ve got quite a few icy poems this issue, plus wolves, fairies, fairy tales, witches, unlucky rabbits, and even unluckier guinea pigs (in a much different way). Continue reading

Three Drops from a Cauldron: Issue Seven


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Hello readers!

It’s been a bit of a week at the Cauldron this week, so I apologise for the two-day delay on Issue Seven. This is, however, a brilliant issue and hopefully you’ll agree it’s still worth the wait. Continue reading

Three Drops from a Cauldron: Issue Six


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Welcome to Issue Six!

This spookier-than-average pre-Halloween/Samhain issue features work by Anne Marie Butler, Diana Sanchez, Stella Bahin, Spangle McQueen, Prerna Bakshi, Rev. John Gordon, Colin Crewdson, Hannah Malhotra, Nico Solheim-Davidson, and Lynda Turbet. Continue reading

Three Drops from a Cauldron: Samhain 2016 (online version)


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Welcome to the e-version of our Samhain 2016 special!

This year’s Samhain special was edited/selected by Kate Garrett, Amy Kinsman & Grant Tarbard, and features work by:

Nico Solheim-Davidson, Harry Gallagher, Charles G Lauder Jr, Christine Vial, Maurice Devitt, Julie Irigaray, Jade Kennedy, Sarah Doyle, Gareth Writer-Davies, Matthew Munson, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Susan Castillo Street, Lizanne Henderson, Andie Berryman, Kitty Coles, Math Jones, Jane Røken, P. Edda, Jordan Altman, Marc Woodward, Maggie Mackay, Keira James, Phil Wood, Alison Lock, Susan Taylor, Caroline Raggett, Alice Tarbuck, Ray Garner, Cathleen Allyn Conway, Jane Frank, Patrick J. Dorrian, Sue Kindon, Margaret Holbrook, and Oz Hardwick.

(Click through to read or download on Issuu.)

Book Review: Nan Hardwicke Turns into a Hare by Wendy Pratt


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A Three Drops Review

Nan Hardwicke Turns into a Hare by Wendy Pratt

[Reviewed by Caroline Hardaker]

Wendy Pratt’s pamphlet is a bewitching collection, linking together witchcraft and the natural world with the emotional processing involved in losing of an unborn child. It’s such an unusual collection, and quite an abstract way of dealing with such a serious theme. It’s quite a short collection made up of 14 poems, and this works well in that it’s easier to feel the intrinsic links between the pieces.

The poems in the collection have a real mix of contexts, but Pratt’s accessible but thoughtful use of language ties them all together seamlessly. The context of the poems fluctuate between the mundane everyday and the mythical, creating the feel of a colourful multi-layered world. The first poem ‘How to Find Spaces to Lose Things in’ reveals gradually this sense of loss, and is revealed when we see the examining of maternity clothes and scan photos. Similarly, in ‘Bag’, the narrator’s emotions keep flicking back to her feeling of loss and increased loneliness; ‘Don’t leave me now, for imaginings of flight’. In ‘In the Bathroom’, loss is also couple with a sense of foreboding, and fate:

‘Out of the dark to sit, tiny and significant,
a faint pink line, too slow
in my palm. She was always too tiny
and too slow. I’m glad we didn’t know it then.’

Through the collection, we see Nan Hardwicke being chased and hunted. In the poem of the title name she literally becomes the hare, rooting herself in its belly and stretching out limbs to inhabit its body: ‘I slipped/ into the hare like a nude foot/ into a glorious slipper’. Perhaps then, a potential overarching theme of the collection is of ‘inhabiting’. As Nan stretches out into the hare, she uncurls from its core, reaching out into the legs, the skull, so the skin is worn like a glove. Given the theme of the loss of an unborn child, Nan’s inhabiting of the hare mirrors the carrying of an unborn child, and how that child (though curled in the womb) reaches out to the mother she carries a child in every part of herself. Furthermore, as Nan seemingly takes over the hare, perhaps Pratt is suggesting that a mother-to-be’s actions are often driven by her child within her. Conversely, the wonderful line:

‘to hold another’s soul in the mouth like an egg’

suggests that as Nan inhabits the hare, the hare is also an integral part of Nan. The hare itself is free, fast, and very much a creature of the physical world, much like a mother would be. Conversely, hares have often been linked to witchcraft and witches in general. In folklore, hares are the familiars of witches. I’m sure this isn’t a coincidence. Pratt has chosen a creature which is wild and free and also tethered to the unknown.

So who could Nan be? I suppose this is left to interpretation. From my reading, Nan seems to stand for the unborn, the mythical, the not-quite-in-existence, but the very much real. Nan can act in ways we mortals can’t, she’s the ethereal, the dark, the deep, the dream. Nan is a free-er version of us. She’s portrayed as very much human and displays great depth of emotion and resilience – but she’s also more than human, and less than human. Throughout the pamphlet we’re never quite able to grab Nan or pin her down; she whips around the pages like a wild being. She’s a wisp, and her existence provides a neat balance for the reality of the narrator’s heavy loss.

This collection is quite an unusual one. The way completely different worlds are combined to explore the theme of loss has been delivered remarkably. Though much of the pamphlet is based in folkloric happenings, it feels believable, organic, and physically very real – a world ‘of gorse and grass’. Pratt’s ‘Nan Hardwicke Turns into a Hare’ is definitely a pamphlet to be read, read, and read again. And then afterwards, discuss at length.

To buy Nan Hardwicke Turns into a Hare (published by Prolebooks) please contact the author directly via her Facebook page: Wendy Pratt Writer.

Three Drops from a Cauldron: Issue Five


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Welcome to Issue Five of Three Drops from a Cauldron.

This issue feels pretty special to me for a few reasons. One, we’re well into October now, which means the days are getting shorter and the nights feel darker – and so, by extension, does the poetry I’ve selected for publication. The other reason I’m excited about this issue is that alongside the widely published and the prize-winning writers, we are bringing you work from folks who are just getting started.

We have more witches than you shake a broom at (not advised anyway), a cheeky nod to Lovecraft, and an unsettlingly modern urban take on Leda and the Swan, amongst others.

I hope you find something to enjoy in the ten poems that follow, which were written by: Grant Tarbard, Spangle McQueen, John W. Sexton, Maureen Hall, DJ Tyrer, Rachael Smart, Dennis Robillard, Colette Colfer, Nico Solheim-Davidson, and Derek Coyle.

Grant Tarbard

A womb of smoke whispers through my thin lips,
venting from the retching distance of lights.
The darkness is etched into the scarred trees,
staggering onto the stage of evening.
I move through myself, paunch full of cinders,
warming the rags of my flophouse body
with the noisy intimacy of Scotch,
a taste of soot about it, connected
to the mechanics of death’s moving parts.
I bury my trinkets in the crawling
earth; a sucked thumb, a piece of birthday cake,
a stale tongue, the fire which I surrender.
I glimpse veiled a carnival of witches
amongst the forest of slender birches.


Grant Tarbard is the author of the newly released Loneliness is the Machine that Drives this World (Platypus Press). Follow him on Twitter at @GrantTarbard.

Spangle McQueen

Gatecrasher One was gutted by flames and now
a river’s rushing towards Wicker Arches.
A half-submerged ambulance’s lights
still flash crazy-blue and she thinks there’s a disco.
Ecstasy-fuelled she discards her white fluffy boots
and wades into the chilling waves.
A piece of shit floats by.
She sees the swan and she thinks that if she’s Barbarella then
this must be Pygar. She strokes his glistening throbbing throat,
in awe at his elegant form, safe in the knowledge:
An angel doesn’t make love. An angel is love.
His yolk-yellow beak bites at her nipples and swollen,
unfurled wings ensure his rapture, her rape.
Her mother sits at home and watches it all on BBC News 24.
‘Oh Leda,’ she sobs, ‘Oh Leda, my child.’ She watches it all as
her daughter washes away the slime and swims off to await the hatching,
clutching a torn-off feather.


Spangle McQueen is a happy grandma and a hopeful poet, living in Sheffield.

In Her Clothes of Self Destruction
John W. Sexton

She asked for a ream
from the torn grey sky
so she’d make a dress
of weather; so cold the moon
would stand its ground
and she could bleed forever.
No boy or girl would she
conceive: just fret and fever.
And she asked of me
three yards of the sea,
so she could sew a raincoat.
Her hands in its pockets
would be wet with despair,
so she might cough forever.
And when she was dressed
she ordered some shoes,
and I cut them from shadows
deeper. Her feet snuggled in,
and she trod the grave
and her hair was as green
as copper. A horse as grey
as a dead man’s flesh
stood at the gate of slaughter.
And men brought meat
and severed heads, and
offered them for barter.
She said she’d swap her heart
for some; she said she’d swap
her sorrow. And that is when
I saw her last, the day before
tomorrow. The birds came
down and sang a song
that chilled me to the marrow.
And that is when I saw her last,
the day before tomorrow.


John W. Sexton was born on the moon to Irish parents in 1958. His most recent poetry collection is The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry, 2013). His sixth collection, Futures Pass, is also forthcoming from Salmon. Under the ironic pseudonym of Sex W. Johnston he has recorded an album with legendary Stranglers frontman, Hugh Cornwell, entitled Sons Of Shiva, which has been released on Track Records.

Song of the Green Witch
Maureen Hall

There is magic all around us
In the woods and in the vale,
And even where the traffic flows
In Man’s endless travail.
But few there are who find it,
And fewer still who know
That deep within the forest’s heart
The magic thrives and grows.

For the summer rain is soft,
And the winter rain is sharp,
But the magic’s still there growing,
Deep within the forest’s heart.

I have feverfew for headaches
Apple Cider for the gout,
And if you need a lover’s spell
There are rose petals about.
But the magic goes much deeper
Than the root and leaf and flower,
For it’s only in the heart of man
You can release its power.

The eyes of man are darkened now,
His heart is cold as stone.
He thinks the gifts of Mother Earth
For his sole use alone.
But the Wise Ones know the secret,
That sun and moon and stars,
And all that runs and all that grows
Is not for Man – it’s Ours.

And Wolf, and Bear, and Wild Boar
As well as Fox and Deer,
Are sheltered in the dark green shade
Where there’s no Man to fear.
For what I take, I leave a gift,
To balance out the scales
And thank the Gods for what is here,
Or else the magic fails.

And when human kind has vanished,
And the Earth lies quiet and cold,
The Old Ones will be free again
To weave their threads of gold.
Then, although it may be different,
Yet again it all will Be,
And the Magic spread through fire and air
To beast, fish, fowl and tree.

For the summer rain so soft,
And the winter rain so sharp,
Will keep all things a-growing
Deep within the forest’s heart.

Virgil’s Ongoing Researches
DJ Tyrer

The wizard Virgil
Long having abandoned poetry
For more arcane pursuits
Successfully completed the occult formulae
Necessary to achieve a research grant
To fund his studies
Into the secrets of Quantum Gravity
At the Innsmouth Institute
An annex of Miskatonic U.
Where he achieved a quantum success
That unleashed the Old Ones
In a flurry of febrile tentacles
That allowed no quantum of solace.

(Originally published in The Supplement and subsequently republished in Worlds of the Unknown.)


DJ Tyrer is the person behind Atlantean Publishing, was placed second in the 2015 Data Dump Award for Genre Poetry, and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines around the world, in issues of Cyaegha, Carillon, Frostfire Worlds, Handshake, Illumen, The Pen, Scifaikuest, Sirens Call, Tigershark and Anthology 29, and online at Makata, Staxtes English Wednesdays, Poetry Bulawayo, Poetry Pacific, Scarlet Leaf Review and The Muse, as well as releasing several chapbooks, including the critically acclaimed Our Story. DJ Tyrer’s website is at The Atlantean Publishing website is at

Red in the Woods
Rachael Smart

Sugared smiles and cotton string legs are so bijou,
a hooded anorak takes the nip out a crepe black night
hides curves from wolves that sulk,
not many girls can carry vintage off like that
a basket and gingham-lined, too.

The hub of the forest hides
inside wicker plaiting –
red as an apple, shiny;
stubby tree-branch aortas
fat undergrowth chambers.

Mother’s heart:
see how it’s still jerking.


Rachael Smart is a writer from Nottingham with a thing about words. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in LITRO, Ink Sweat and Tears, Prole and other places. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Nottingham. Rachael is addicted to the writer’s website where she goes wild about poetry and is also Associate Editor at the literary e-zine Cease, Cows.

The Witches of Albay
Dennis Robillard

The witches have returned.
Up in Albay her brother saw the noise
Walking across the street
Like a fat pig strolling in the morning.
Then the unexpected sound of a thud on the roof
Another broken spirit hitting the TV antenna awake
She once spotted a half body
coming home from a dance
Waiting in the bushes.
The quack doctor told her to put a salt shaker near the bed
To sprinkle it on half the frame
So the witch will feel it, then wither off and die.
When she was still pregnant for her daughter.
At Rachel’s house in Manila
she made a mixture of holy water, garlic and lemon
Placed it at the bed side table to ward off evil.
To guard against miscarriages and wretched witch wings
carrying off her baby’s body.
The neighbors came to visit her during her sickness.
Kept silent vigil with their own holy water
sprinkled near her dead father’s coffin
You never leave the dead body alone she once told me.
The devil is waiting to swoop the soul of the
Diseased away from you.


Dennis Robillard is a published poet from Windsor, Canada.

Colette Colfer

Take pieces from your rag-bag of fabrics
with scenes, shadows and worn out holes.
Sew them together with bright cotton thread
and honeysuckle stems strung on needles of bone.

Collect aluminium cans and tin pots
for armour. Melt or hammer them flat
and use molten stitches from a weld pool
for strength when it’s cool.

Cut bits of leather from old shoes and bags,
stitch with thorns from a blackthorn bush
threaded with tendons. Tack odd arms and backs
of knobbly jumpers with hair in a holly needle.

Take pieces of cloth, metal, wool and leather,
stitch a patchwork cloak, embroider with silk
from dead pupae and solder on stories.
Whisper tunes and strew rose petals into the seams.

This cloak is an all-over second skin
which once crafted gives the maker protection.
Stud it with quartz stones and circles of mirrors,
then choose your new lover before luring him in.

Nico Solheim-Davidson

Bonnie Isobel
Of Gaelic blood
By Hecate’s grace
And Liltih’s hand
Black arts she claimed
From woman to hare
Under night’s veil
She would go
With sorrow and care
‘Til home she came again


Nico Solheim-Davidson resides on the coast of East Yorkshire. He works as a care assistant in a nursing home just outside Bridlington. Nico is an avid lover of mythology, cats, tea and poetry, as well as history, corned beef and music.

The Tiger of Annam (strolls through the Chelsea Hotel)
Derek Coyle

It was like
he had crawled out of
La Guernica, the Black Tiger
who strolled through the lobby
one fine Monday afternoon
that summer. Mr Normal,
the Midget Man, didn’t notice,
distracted by Mr Zolt
humming a gypsy song
about love lost. Mr Zimmerman
missed him too, his vision
of Johanna leaking through
broken gas pipes,
and crawling across
the roofs of hazy
sunlit apartments, sultry,
captivating, and lost,
distracted him. Mr Warhol
was too busy filming
a woman weeping quietly,
curling her hair,
lost in her looking glass,
to notice a black tiger
staring intently in the corner.

If the Black Tiger knew
how to express dismay
he would. He wanders
up the stairs,
out the fire escape,
across Chelsea, down
by the waterfront,
and the last he was seen
was this morning
walking down by Woodie’s,
Costa Coffee, Tesco, heading
toward the Barrow river,
in search of water
and a truer North.


Derek Coyle grew up in the shadow of the Hill of Allen on the plains of Kildare and Fionn MacCumhaill and Bran, Na Fianna and Cu Cuchulainn belonged to his imagination as much as Michael Jackson, John F. Kennedy and Mother Theresa. Derek has published poems and reviews in the U.S., Britain and Ireland. He has been shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Award, the Bradshaw Prize, and he has been a chosen poet for the Poetry Ireland ‘Introductions Series’. Most recently he has had a selection of poems published in Assaracus in the U.S.  He is a member of the Carlow Writers’ Co-Operative.

Thanks for reading, and we will see you again at the end of the month!

Three Drops from a Cauldron: Issue Four


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Welcome to Issue Four of Three Drops from a Cauldron!

Featuring new writing from Larry D. Thacker, Louise Larchbourne, Jude Roy, Jane Frank, Daniel Roy Connelly, Lesley Burt, Mary Percy-Burns, Enodia Black, David J. Costello, and Bethany W Pope. Continue reading

Three Drops from a Cauldron: Issue Three


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Welcome to Issue Three! Featuring wonderful work by:

Sarah Miles, Rebecca Gethin, Noah Mendez, Stephanie Marcellus, Louisa Campbell, Stella Wulf, Daniel Roy Connelly, Rachael Smart, Orla Fay, and Andy Brown.

Enjoy! Continue reading

Book Review: Alchemy by Jade Kennedy


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A Three Drops Review

Alchemy by Jade Kennedy

[Reviewed by Michelle Anderson]

Jade Kennedy’s Alchemy is a collection of flash fiction interspersed with poetry that reflects ethereal transformation often reflected by the changing of the seasons, surrealism and magic. Continue reading