ELIZABETH RIMMER is a poet, and poetry editor for Red Squirrel Press. She has published three collections of poetry with Red Squirrel Press, Wherever We Live Now, in 2011, The Territory of Rain, in September 2015, and, Haggards (2018) which deals with herbs, wild landscapes, and ways of knowing as a response to personal grief and social upheaval. She has also published a translation of the Anglo-Saxon Charm of Nine Herbs and is currently working on a new collection. Her website is

THOMAS STEWART is a writer. ’empire of dirt’, his debut poetry pamphlet, was published by Red Squirrel Press this year. His work has been featured at And Other Poems, Oh Comely, Litro, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Stockholm Review, among others. He is based in Edinburgh where he works as an English language teacher. He can be found at @ThomasStewart08. 

MICHAEL EGAN is poet based in Liverpool. A pamphlet, The River Swam, was published in 2005 and a second, Folklores, in 2010.  He has been published widely a number of anthologies (Adventures in Form, Best British Poetry, Forward Book of Poetry etc) as well as having a collection, Steak and Stations, published by Penned in the Margins (2010).

Spelling the Rainbow
Elizabeth Rimmer

Dragons Blood
Somewhere between the colours
of flame and blood, the resin that drips
from cut stems of exotic plants
brings power and healing,
ferocity and magic.
Red is too pale a word for this ink.
It is the colour of pulsing life,
revival like a phoenix, new birth.

The red glow of nasturtium petals comes
from a golden layer within. Green leaves
which mark deep stains on hands and clothes
shine with their cache of bottled sun.
Steep them in water, simmer gently
for long hours and the bright hue will fade.
Your wool will take its disappointing hue
from chlorophyll, which isn’t ‘yellow’,
but ‘bright’, ‘fresh’, ‘glowing’, ‘alive’.

The year is parched and fading
falling into the quiet of mud and mulch
in softened hollows under hedges.
The forest’s tattered roof has gaps
and the life of colour has drained
from the bleached carpet of leaf-fall.
What is left is aging, wrinkled, sere
crumpled as an old man’s face.

There are people for whom the sky is green,
not blue, its opening freshness
unclouded and without fear, the colour
of bud-burst, of the cool delight
of cucumber’s thirst-quenching taste.

Grey is not ‘grey’, not slate,
not seagull-back, not cloud.
It shifts between green
and blue and hazel, adapts
to light and life and movement
is sparkling and clear. Grey
is the colour of wit, invention,
stratagem and guile, the colour
of the eyes of Athena, the exact
representation of wisdom.

On sunny days the sea sways gently
like a flower on its stem and its scent
freshens the air, like the flower dear
to Aphrodite, sweet-breathed goddess –
elusive, its rich purple sinking into
green depths of leaves, water-like.

The sea has dark and threatening moods,
tinted with lowering cloud, its full
waves gathered before breaking
like ripely swollen berries,
like a calyx about to burst with bloom,
a child with a birthday cake, a minute
before the explosion of tears,
like an angry choleric face.

The colour of bruises and the tart
skins of brambles and damsons,
the sea when clouds threaten,
the hill wrapped in storm, ‘blue’
is not the colour of summer sky.
Blue is poison, revenge and death.


Road to Perdition
Thomas Stewart

the father has a father
has a father has a father,

has his own issues,
grudges anger crap

ghosts play bells
rain tingles falls, chimes

bullet snaps light
men fall, like sacks

piano kicks in,
vastly shudders

the father is going to kill
the grandfather, father, son,

glad it’s you, he says,
the son picks up the gun

so simple necessary, boom
killing that piece of you


a shipment arrives at Garston docks
Michael Egan

she is held tight in the morning and at night she is safe on these waters    brackish, briny, deep as any swam    she is asleep, it’s okay, she’s here with me even if you’re there without her    it’s not as bad as the night when she was four and fire was in her, every ounce of her, fire    you’re just restless, that’s all    you’re just a bear, only a bear and I don’t write about you enough    instead, at that time, summer 2015, I wrote about the girl who came from nowhere and the boy wrestling a bear in the Irish Sea, drowning it, unzipping it    saying you’re a man, just a man    I wilted, I was cut at a point where new shoots could grow but by spring I was all barbs and my fruit was so bitter I choked on what I had been, who I’d lost, but there was a road and a cathedral I remember sitting in a bar looking down through monastic windows, across cobbles and the glass of rain to where the cathedral rose, grew, melted, and thinking about how there are always gaps and what we have gained, its beauty, and the sway of time how it seems now to be eventide and glee    just that, just that and nothing more.


broken apples
Michael Egan

we are men and so we can only hurt    I am a father and I am not a father     breaking my fast I ate yoghurt and honey and oats and with the curtains still drawn it was as if the dawn was only mimicking a lamp lowly lit    stay night, cease morrow and stop when an apple is peeled it only reveals more of an apple, there’s no point continuing to cut through the layers    flesh is all there is and a wasted core    beside the school ran a stream of harsh water, swirling, partitioned by railings    in summer we would watch boys from another school playing cricket and wonder at their world     visitors here, they would watch us too and when the ball rolled towards the fence the stream would be separation enough    I once saw a crow struggling to pull itself from beneath a shopping trolley black oil swirling and life mingling as if in a dance, a hollow finality but when I do eventually go back I will do what the others did   I will take a fence that isn’t mine    I will take a door that isn’t mine    I will take a home that isn’t mine and I will burn them upon the cricket field until the field becomes a scar and the air is ash.


All works published by the Glasgow Review of Books are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and the journal reserves the right to be named as place of first publication in any citation. Copyright remains with the poet.


Leave a Reply


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. 

Find us on: