Three Drops from a Cauldron: Issue One









Welcome to our new format web journal! Issues will be released fortnightly on Fridays, and include ten poems and/or flash fictions each, on our familiar themes of folklore, mythology, legends, and fairy tales.

Happy reading… and since we won’t see you before, have a wonderful Summer (or Winter, if you’re one of our friends in the Southern Hemisphere) Solstice next week!

This issue includes poetry by Simon Williams, Maggie Mackay, Suzanne Langlois, Lisa Kelly, Sarah Doyle, Amoret BriarRose, Chris Hemingway, Gareth Writer-Davies, and  C.E. Hyun.

Sir Gawain’s Girdle
Simon Williams

Yes, I did accept her girdle;
didn’t want to be rude.
It’s fabulous smallclothes;
exquisite embroidery, nothing
to touch it from Florence to Assisi.
Thread so fine it could be spider silk.

I was worried, though, the good
Lord Bertilak would get the wrong idea.
I thought I got away with the kisses
after yesterday’s feast.
I like to think they were more
man-hug than proposition.

Turns out he knew I’d got
her swathe of cloth, nicked me
in our New Year contretemps,
but I could hardly blame him.
Now, you Table lads will have your jests,
but none of your girdles betters mine.

Simon Williams has written poetry for 35 years. It ranges widely, from quirky pieces often derived from news items or science and technology, to biographical themes, to the occasional Clerihew. He has five published collections, the latest being A Place Where Odd Animals Stand (Oversteps Books, 2012) and Wastrels  (Paper Dart Press, 2015). Simon has a website at, was The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded The Broadsheet ( He makes a living as a journalist.

Maggie Mackay

Plaided in grey-white, the Hag drops
rock-mountains before my foot-stumble.
I pay no heed, climb through my black dog mist
into the spit of tight-jawed spectres.
On the valley floor
doors swing ajar.
Hisses and jibes lurch in cloud hems.

On a second winter-wilderness day
her hammer pounds stepping stones,
her staff freezes the ground.

Love is a needle threaded with pain
and secret vows, blunted
in the flash of an instant.
My map is weathered, peppered with holes.

I crawl
++++into gaps
++++++++between boulders.

The Winter Queen battles rebirth,
invokes sleet storms, hunts songbirds and hedgerow.
I slip through green spring and maple autumn,
nurse my heart into middle March.

In summer Moor scatters
bloodless heather, spread tight, white on grey rock,
as pure as Malvina’s tears on her wedding day.
Mine were tears of joy, the growing up sense of it all
but love has broken away,
one wing of the raptor gone.

I turn towards the river’s shimmer,
its current a moving smile as light intensifies.

Maggie Mackay has work in various publications including Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed with Pipework, Prole, I am not a Silent Poet, The Screech Owl, Three Drops in a Cauldron and The Linnet’s Wings. She is a second year MA student at Manchester Metropolitan University, and a co-editor of Word Bohemia (

The Ball
Suzanne Langlois

The dwarves dance in a circle,
hooting and smacking one another.
They sing along when they know the lyrics
and also when they don’t.

Cinderella’s step-sisters preen at a table near the door,
taking duck-faced selfies and trying to look like something worth defiling.
They glare at Cinderella as she grinds with Hansel,
who drops tens and twenties on the bar top to buy her rum drinks
until she can’t remember her way home.

Little Red Riding Hood hands the bartender a fake ID.
He barely glances at it before pushing it back across the bar
and mixing her a dirty Shirley Temple.
It’s what all the underage girls ask for.
They like to tie knots in the cherry stems with their tongues.

Snow White slurs her way through the sad story of her dead mother,
her tongue thickening with each drink.
Prince Charming’s eyes glaze over as he pretends to listen.
He wonders if she’ll shut up if he kisses her hard enough.

Sleeping Beauty is passed out in a bathroom stall,
a thin line of bile trailing from the corner of her mouth
like a yolk from a cracked egg.
The wolf lurks outside the ladies’ room.
He can smell an opportunity a mile away,
and knows she’ll be too charmed
by his big smile to notice his big teeth.

Gretel sits alone at the end of the bar,
cramming handfuls of stale popcorn into her mouth.
Dropped kernels litter the floor around her bar stool.
Later, she’ll stick her finger down her throat,
hoping to banish the loneliness.

The evil queen glances at her reflection in the mirror on the wall
and adjusts her cleavage before approaching the group of dwarves.
She has her eye on Bashful, but really, any one of them will do.

There is a vacant space around the frog prince.
Girls’ eyes slip over him as though he were greased.
He pretends not to notice Cinderella and Hansel
groping one another a few feet away.
He can’t remember the last time someone kissed him.

At 2:00 am, Rumplestiltskin kicks the stragglers out,
flips the barstools onto the tables,
and sweeps up the popcorn kernels,
leaning against the broom handle for a moment
as he realizes, not one person called him by name all night.

On the street, Cinderella carries her shoes by their straps,
giggling and leaning against Hansel
while Snow White snivels. Prince Charming abandoned her
and is getting into a cab with one of the step-sisters,
which seems unfair to her—anyone can see they’re ugly.
Two Dwarves carry Sleeping Beauty between them.
Tomorrow, she will wake up not knowing where she is, again.

The Goose Girl unlocks her 3rd floor efficiency after her late shift.
Below her window, a crowd of revelers call
to one another as they stumble home.
She listens wistfully until she can no longer hear them—
she thinks she’s the only one alone tonight.

Suzanne Langlois’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Off the Coast, Rattle Poets Respond, Yellow Chair Review, Menacing Hedge, and English Journal, as well as in the anthologies Passion and Pride: Poets in Support of Equality, Be Wilder, and Hysteria. She lives in Portland, Maine where she teaches High School English.

What’s the Time Mr Wolf?
Lisa Kelly

Not 12 o’clock. Not yet
that midi l’aperitif moment
nibbles and absinthe sips
the green fairy hovering
as we play in the magic wood

But think
+++ think about the twelve steps
+++ think about
+++ think about
what happens when you binge
too unsteady to dodge
the woodcutter’s axe, the vet’s syringe

+++ Think Mr Wolf
Can you sit at the table with your tail
between your legs? Cock
a delicate claw as you hold a china cup
sip (never quaff) smoky Lapsang Souchong
while I in time-honoured tradition cry
Oh! What big

+++ pause

Mr Wolf!
Time to take stock, stand stock-still. And
+++ think
Look at the muddy path
Look at my off-white skirt hem, already trailing…
(Red is so last season)

Look at you Mr Wolf. Or rather smell you
The hot stink of fox has nothing on you

Keep your back turned
Hide your dinner-plate eyes

Lisa Kelly‘s pamphlet Bloodhound is published by Hearing Eye. She is a regular host of poetry evenings at the Torriano Meeting House, London and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. She is a Magma board member and co-edited issue 63.

Song of the Siren
Sarah Doyle

As sharp as pins, as slick as thieves,
our sweetly wheedling singing weaves
a heady spell around the hearts
of sailors, heedless of our arts.

A dulcet-spun, seductive line
is cast upon the rolling brine.
Each fragile note, each wondrous bar
reels in an unsuspecting tar.

With ancient female enterprise,
we croon, we soothe with lullabies,
to penetrate the heart and head
with eerie tunes and earthly dread.

On razor’d rocks as cruel as teeth,
ships split like straws – and deep beneath
the waves, drowned crew find lasting sleep,
their ebbing souls all ours to keep.

Each life we claim is truly earned,
the craft of patience long-since learned –
perfected over centuries
of scanning endless, empty seas.

Come to us, all men who sail:
submit and let our song prevail.
Surrender to the brackish bliss
of drowning in a Siren’s kiss.

Sarah Doyle is the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Poet-in-Residence.  She has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, and placed in many competitions.  Sarah reads regularly at poetry events in and around London, and co-hosts Rhyme & Rhythm Jazz-Poetry Club at Enfield’s Dugdale Theatre. She is currently studying for a Creative Writing MA at University of London’s Royal Holloway College. More at:

Unsolicited Advice

Amoret BriarRose

As you crack my crystal crown
on your way to pulsing power
remember, little Princess:
Queens must be evil
iron shoes fit every foot
and there will always be another
fairer, even than you.


Gwion finds gainful employment
Amoret BriarRose

I show up
pot provided
herbs being added
by Her nimble hands
just stir
just stir
just stir
for it feels like forever
being made in the brew
and this moment, too
just this moment being made
by the fire and the water
and her naked need
and my tired arms
stars wheeling through the night
just stirring
just stirring
just stirring.

Amoret BriarRose is an initiate of both Reclaiming and Anderson Feri witchcraft traditions and has been actively engaging with mystery since 2000. Poetry, divination, silence and good coffee – Amoret loves the little magics of the every day. It is her calling and privilege to help others step into wonder and reverence. Find more from Amoret at

When the Fountain Was Taken From the Mall
Chris Hemingway

Like lipstick traces
sketched in rust.
Now the wishing coins are gone.

Like tea leaves stretched
across a river bed.
Has your future diminished ?
Now the wishing coins are gone.

Bronze and silver
crossed the palms.
Now the coins are gone,
they’ll just dig deeper.

Blasts rock the secret caverns.
Stripping wishes
from buried lamps.

(first published in the Gloucester Echo)

Chris Hemingway is a poet and singer-songwriter from Cheltenham. He has a self-published a collection of lyrics and poetry “Cigarettes and Daffodils” and has assisted/ read/ sung at Cheltenham Poetry Festival, GlosInk and New Bohemians Charlton Kings events. He also has recently read for the Ekphrasis Group at the Ashmolean Museum.

Gareth Writer-Davies

you worry
about your (untouched) looks

there is no decay
in the face that might have launched ships

if you had been arsed
to get out of bed

the long epic of immortality
that took

one lover
then another

whilst you lived on
un-changing like the fox that got the goose

I buckle my hands round your waist

the wet fur of your pelt

new ways to kill you

Gareth Writer-Davies was Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition in 2015, Specially Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition and Highly Commended in the Sherborne Open Poetry Competition. Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Erbacce Prize in 2014. His pamphlet Bodies, was published in 2015 through Indigo Dreams.

Bottle Pirates
C.E. Hyun

She finds, while burying gold,

a ship in a bottle,
an ocean contained.

She peeks. Pirates wave.

C.E. Hyun’s poetry has appeared in The Offing and 2015 Dwarf Stars Anthology. Her fiction has appeared in Joyland, Failbetter, New South, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. Find her at and on Twitter @ce_hyun.

Thanks for reading! Issue Two will be out on Friday 1 July. See you then…


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