HCE received a lot of high-quality submissions for The Green Issue – sadly, too many to fit inside the magazine! So we offered some writers and artists who’d sent in work the chance to be published here on the website. Keep an eye on our social media for more great work like this, in the run-up to the release of The Green Issue


Sal Higgs
Lethal Greens


History lingers in the Poison Garden
below sullen stone walls stamped on parchment sky.
Herbalists, healers and wise women whisper
warnings of wormwood, monkshood, strychnine berries,
blistering, burning ragwort, rue, bitter yew
and laurel filling killing jars for children.
Hemlock heads nod sunbursts on slim, green spindles
near verdigris spheres of narcotic poppies.
Wolfsbane and mourning widow, sunk in shadow,
sulphurous laburnum skeins hang down over
reeking black henbane, spindrifting giddiness
while mistled fox glove throats feed and swallow bees.
Victim spirits still murmur in the garden
among the sunlit methods of their murder.


“When not working, I’m a mature student of the Writers’ Greenhouse in Oxford. This poem was prompted by a visit to the Poison Garden at Blarney Castle, Cork (Ireland).”