MICHAEL STEPHENSON‘s poems have appeared in a number of publications including New Writing ScotlandGutter, The Herald and, most recently404 Ink’s The F Word. He lives in Bathgate.

LUCAS CHIB lives in New York. His poetry has recently appeared in Brittle Paper. He has poetry forthcoming FronteraLit Journal (Barcelona).



In the beginning
the screen shows nothing
but the arc of a wiper clearing snow.
Then the shifting shadows coalesce
and an image slips
then stays –
and I see our son for the first time.

Our wee yin-yang man
white curved against the black,
his glinting spine like a strip of lights
in that deep internal dark.
The butterfly flicker of his heart
sets mine racing to keep up
and for all my sudden love
I can only stammer
is everything alright?

Everything’s fine, the sonographer says
as she touches the keys
and changes position
to show us the view from above:
the wee arms out to either side
like a tightrope walker
making miraculous progress
millimetre by millimetre
across the dizzying void.

We can’t look down.
We stretch our arms, our hearts,
over the edge to gather him in.


Alan Kurdi
from the photographs by Nilufer Demir

Evening has come in with the tide.
Darkness settles as the water draws back
from the cold sand where the boy’s body lies.

The shoes that have seen him from Syria
to this ragged edge of Europe have stayed on even now –
only a single velcro strap has come undone.
The blue shorts and red t shirt his parents
put on him are plastered to his skin, soaked and whipped
by the saltwater that fills his lungs.
His arms are by his sides, palms up,
his wee fingers curled around nothing.

We all know this image,
the scream of his silent body.

We lean on the doorframes of darkened bedrooms
and see him in our sleeping children.
We imagine turning his face from the water
and seeing our child, feeling
that intimate recognition,
the responsibility for another life
which is the weight of being human.

In the next photograph, the young man
in the uniform has picked up Alan Kurdi’s body.
He is carrying him in his arms like a father
across the beach towards us.

                                                         Michael Stephenson



hand of the cloud

how the hand of the cloud descended
slowly, fist closed, defying gravity, hanging over them, circling
& encircling them, how the fist
of that cloud opened slowly, how
they ate from the hand of the cloud, how
they ate and ate from the hand of the cloud

                                                                               Lucas Chib


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The Glasgow Review of Books (ISSN 2053-0560) is an online journal which publishes critical reviews, essays and interviews as well as writing on translation. We accept work in any of the languages of Scotland – English, Gàidhlig and Scots.

We aim to be an accessible, non-partisan community platform for writers from Glasgow and elsewhere. We are interested in many different kinds of writing, though we tend to lean towards more marginal, peripheral or neglected writers and their work. 

Though, our main focus is to fill the gap for careful, considered critical writing, we also publish original creative work, mostly short fiction, poetry and hybrid/visual forms. 

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