Pumpkin pie – Cath Barton

 

In the dark street the window of the sweetshop shone out. Maisie, aged nine and three-quarters, had taken a detour on her way home from school. She pressed her nose up against the shop window; there were meringues iced to look like ghosts, witches’ hats made of chocolate and little marzipan pumpkins. Maisie pushed her hands deep into the pockets of her coat as she continued to stare at the sweets. In the right-hand pocket her hand closed on something unexpected and she pulled it out. It looked like a small, hard, shiny nut. She held it in the palm of her right hand and touched it, very gently, with her left index finger. Would a fairy appear in a puff of smoke and offer her three wishes, or at least her pick from the sweets? Nothing happened. She touched it again, said one of her own magic spells under her breath and waited. Still nothing happened. She put the nut back in her pocket and turned, reluctantly, from the bright window.

When she arrived home her mother was in the kitchen, looking flustered as she always seemed to be these days.

“Tea’s nearly ready,” she said. “I wondered where on earth you’d got to, Maisie. Wash your hands quickly now.”

They had bread and butter and jam for tea, as usual. Maisie had a cup of milk and her mother drank tea, weak tea. The two of them sat in silence, each lost in her own thoughts, but after a while the warmth from the food and the one-bar gas fire made them easier with one another.

“I’ve got a surprise,” the woman said, and the girl looked up, uncertain whether to ask what it was. Her mother was unpredictable, and Maisie didn’t understand what made her upset.

“It’s a pumpkin. Your dad brought it round. I’m going to make a pie.” She smiled at her daughter in an entreating way.

Maisie found it difficult thinking about her dad, so she thought about the marzipan pumpkins in the sweetshop window instead. She had never eaten pumpkin pie, but she had had marzipan on Christmas cake and she knew she liked that. She managed a wobbly smile

“Tomorrow,” said her mother, “We’ll have it tomorrow. It’ll be a treat.”

That night, when she knelt by her bed to say her prayers, Maisie held the shiny nut between her hands.

“I’m giving you a third chance,” she said, and then, surprising herself with her boldness.

“And just so as you know, this isn’t for me. I want you to make things better for my mum and dad.”

Next day Maisie stopped at the sweetshop window again on her way home from school. The marzipan pumpkins seemed to be winking at her. When she put her hand on the nut in her pocket it felt different. She pulled it out and gasped: it had turned into a coin, as bright and shiny as the shop window. Maisie pushed open the shop door, a bell tinkled and a little old man appeared from a back room.

She ran home with her bag of sweets. At the door she hesitated, hearing voices in the kitchen, but there were no shouts, no tears. Just soft talking.

They had tea together, Maisie and her mother and father. Pumpkin pie. Which, actually, the girl did not like. But she didn’t say so, just smiled. As they all did. Later, Maisie looked in the bag for a marzipan pumpkin. But the bag was empty, apart from a small, hard, empty nutshell.

 

 

Author pic.CathBarton.smallCath Barton is an English writer who lives in Wales. She won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella 2017 for The Plankton Collector, now published by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. Cath was awarded a place on the 2018 Literature Wales Enhanced Mentoring Scheme to complete a collection of short stories inspired by the work of the sixteenth century Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch. Active in the online flash fiction community, she is also a regular contributor to the online critical hub Wales Arts Review. She tweets @CathBarton1. Find out more at https://cathbarton.com.

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Over – Spangle McQueen

 

He is explaining

supernumerary

rainbows to me –

 

how it’s all about

raindrop size

distribution.

 

‘Sunlight reflects

not only from inside

the falling droplets

 

but interferes with

wave phenomena.

It’s similar to ripples

 

when someone

throws a stone in

a pond,’ he says.

 

And I am impressed

with his knowledge

of atmospheric optics

 

but I’d only asked

how there could ever be

too many rainbows.

 

 

20171019_233122-1Spangle McQueen is a happy grandma and hopeful poet living in Sheffield.

What the wind said – Rebecca Gethin

 

I followed a drystone wall down the hill in a mist

wind pattering in my ears like a pony

 

on dry turf and snaking through gorse and reeds.

I caught a moaning, a voice lamenting

 

on just one note with breathy inhalations,

its instrument a welded gate

 

played on as though it were an organ pipe.

I pressed my fingers to the holes

 

and nothing stopped or changed the note,

air finding what it needed for an utterance

 

of sorrow, the little Os its mouthpiece

calling out from among the silent stones.

 

unnamed 1Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor in Devon. In 2017 two pamphlets were published: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press who published an earlier collection called A Handful of Water and two novels. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow. In 2018 she jointly won the Coast to Coast Pamphlet competition and has been awarded a writing residency at Brisons Veor. Find more at www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com.

Fox – Paul Waring

 

Out on a night

like this

you swagger

aloof

star on stage

under diffused

orange spotlight.

I see you sashay

soft brush tail

lithe limbs

quiet as a whisper

across grass

as I close

my fourth floor window.

You look up

as if you know me

bat-ear surveillance

and dark adapted eyes

aimed like arrows

into mine.

 

 

IMG_6036Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in Liverpool bands. He is a 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee whose poems have been published in Foxglove Journal, Prole, Amaryllis, High Window, Atrium, Algebra of Owls, Clear Poetry, Ofi Press, Marble Poetry, The Lampeter Review and others. Find more at https://waringwords.wordpress.com.

Death in Spring – Ben Banyard

 

She took her last breath as we put the clocks on.

Lambs, daffodils, Easter eggs, cheerful optimism,

but a funeral to attend and relatives to console.

 

We’ll Google the church’s car park,

agree to work around that afternoon with bosses and clients.

Follow the coffin in, glance at riotous banks of grape hyacinth.

 

There will be hymns.

All Things Bright and Beautiful no doubt,

The Old Rugged Cross, perhaps.

Choke back a lump in the throat at the eulogies,

smile with damp eyes at anecdotes.

 

What will move us most are the details of her youth,

how she played nicely with her sister sometimes,

what her parents did for a living;

Spring details, when her life was beginning.

 

 

ImageBen Banyard lives in Portishead, near Bristol, UK. He’s the author of a pamphlet, Communing (Indigo Dreams, 2016) and a full collection, We Are All Lucky (Indigo Dreams, 2018). He blogs and posts mixtapes at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com.

Seven sleeper/thruddle-crump/hazel mouse – Rebecca Gethin

 

Under leaves a furry apple of a one-ounce-mouse

sleeps fast in a cup woven with honeysuckle bark.

gaps darned with moss and grass blades.

 

Before sleep it gorges on rosehips, hawthorn

and blackberries, or hazel nuts, leaving little round holes

in the shells. Before seven months of sleep it must be fat.

 

With cold growing thicker, its metabolism slows to a tick over

inside its core. The furred tail is a scarf wound across its face,

as it curls itself into the pips of its heartbeat.

 

 

unnamed 1Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor in Devon. In 2017 two pamphlets were published: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press who published an earlier collection called A Handful of Water and two novels. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow. In 2018 she jointly won the Coast to Coast Pamphlet competition and has been awarded a writing residency at Brisons Veor. Find more at www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com.

I wish I’d studied palaeontology – Spangle McQueen

 

They used to teach that colour would never be detected in fossils.

But now it’s someone’s job to reveal the complexions

of dinosaurs, to unravel the hints about hues,

examining melanosomes and spherical organelles,

to conclude that, ‘You don’t have an orange and white tail

for nothing’. It’s someone’s job to pore over fossilised

forearms looking for the trace of quill knobs

or to separate spiral twists of fibres to analyse Jurassic

dandruff and to tell us with authority that these creatures

shed their skin in flakes. I wish I’d studied palaeontology

instead of forensic psychology. Primitive plumage

interests me more than psychopathy and the science

of empathy ever could.

 

 

20171019_233122-1Spangle McQueen is a happy grandma and hopeful poet living in Sheffield.

supernatural – Paul Robert Mullen

 

supernatural paul robert mullen

 

bd2be44c-8549-4936-b696-4ff45fb3bfd0Paul Robert Mullen is a poet, musician and sociable loner from Southport, near Liverpool, UK. He is a keen traveller, having lived and worked in China and Australia, and has scaled the entirety of Asia. He also enjoys Leonard Cohen, bass guitar riffs, porridge, paperback books with broken spines, and all things minimalist.

Concentration – Ben Banyard

 

It’s hard, here in orbit,

not to be able to hear

the simultaneous hum

of all those minds at work.

 

But it’s far harder to imagine

that this orb contains

all of the love and fear

for as far as eyes can see.

 

 

ImageBen Banyard lives in Portishead, near Bristol, UK. He’s the author of a pamphlet, Communing (Indigo Dreams, 2016) and a full collection, We Are All Lucky (Indigo Dreams, 2018). He blogs and posts mixtapes at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com.

Old sludge beds – Mark Totterdell

 

The former sewage settlement lagoons,

a wasteland wedged between the river’s curves

and an elbow of equivalent canal,

have been recolonised by sedges,

by bulrushes releasing feathered seeds,

by tall blond reeds in broad stands, rustling

with unseen life, suspicious scurryings.

 

From leafless trees, the great tits and song thrushes

are cleanly piping out, respectively,

their simple and their complex repetitions.

Close your eyes and you can almost see

the sounds as clear distinctive prints

cutting into the greyish sludge that spreads

everywhere from the traffic on the bridge.

 

 

This one DSC00795-herefordMark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are ‘This Patter of Traces’ (Oversteps Books, 2014) and ‘Mapping’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).

Fox Cubs – Oak Ayling

 

Fox cubs squabble and yip

Unseen beyond the barns

Beneath the quiet cloak of night

Siblings sifting through the scraps

And I lay soft upon an unmade bed

Unwinding curls in my hair

Alone, attempting to remember my features

Wondering if I look like my mother.

 

 

IMG_20181005_083822_391Oak Ayling is a young woman quietly stitching poetry into the blurry windswept border between Cornwall and Devon, England. Highly commended by Indigo Press in the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize 2018, her work can be found in Anti Heroin Chic Magazine, the fast growing lit mag From Whispers to Roars and forthcoming charitable anthology ‘Shorthand’ by author Helen Cox in support of UK homeless charity Streetlink.

The Strawberry Gel – Raine Geoghegan

 

On warm summer nights they lay on thick blankets looking up at the stars. The door of the vardo left slightly open in case the chavies woke. They would whisper about the time they first met in the strawberry fields. He remembered the blue dress she used to wear, how her hair was braided on top of her head, her sovereign ear rings unlike any he’d ever seen. She would tell him how she was taken by his honest brown eyes and the way he took her hand and said, ‘Shall we go for a stroll Amy?’ He had picked a strawberry for her and it was the sweetest thing she had ever tasted. It was kushti bok that both he and their gel had strawberry marks on their backs. They laughed at how she could never get enough of the fruit. They called her the strawberry gel. Their Phylly, with the corn coloured hair. He yawns loudly. ‘Shush, go t’sleep Alf.’ They both settle down, his hand resting on her hip, her hand on his chest.

 

Romani words: Vardo – wagon; Chavies – children; Kushti Bok – Good Luck

 

 

2017-07-17 18.15.26Raine Geoghegan, MA lives in West Sussex, UK. She is half Romany with Welsh and Irish ancestry. Her poems and short prose have been widely published and her debut pamphlet, ‘Apple Water – Povel Panni’ is due to be published by Hedgehog Press in November 2018. It was previewed at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in July. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net 2018. Her poems were also featured in the film ‘Stories from the Hop Yards’ as part of the Herefordshire Life through a Lens Project and one of the poems was made into a film by the Wellington Primary School. Find out more at rainegeoghegan.co.uk.

Stormy Weather – Deborah Guzzi

 

the day—storm charged glowers

a bruised sky shutters over a shedding

maple forests bleeding maroons and

citrus hues

 

I worry a nail. Rain begins to pelt

the windshield—wind-loosened

butterscotch bits hopscotch across the

tarmac

 

the scene an impressionist dream

a watercolor wash of leaving—too soon

the mountain will be monochrome

a scratch board

 

though pine and spruce will punctuate

with pricks of blue-blackish green

no longer will I walk barefoot

on the lawn

 

 

debbie 3aDeborah Guzzi writes full time. Her third book, The Hurricane, is available through Prolific Press. Her poetry appears in Allegro, Artificium, Shooter, Amethyst Review and Foxglove Journal in the UK, Existere, The Ekphrastic Review, Scarlet Leaf Review and Subterranean Blue Poetry, Canada – Tincture, Australia – mgv2>publishing, France – Cha: Asian Review, China – Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Australia – The Scarlet Leaf Review – Greece, Ribbons, pioneertown, Sounding Review, Bacopa Literary Review, The Aurorean, Liquid Imagination, The Tishman Review, Page & Spine and others in the USA.

Argonaut – Mark Totterdell

 

Small paper nautilus,

cockleshell octopus,

two of her tentacles

soft wands for conjuring

calcium carbonate

into her miracle

shell, light and delicate,

white ribbed and tuberculed

elegant watercraft,

henceforth and constantly

hers for the captaincy.

 

 

This one DSC00795-herefordMark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are ‘This Patter of Traces’ (Oversteps Books, 2014) and ‘Mapping’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).

Rumble Rumble – Joe Albanese

 

I thought I lost a thousand years,

turns out I was just blinking

What I thought a ruptured volcano

is just what I’ve missed in aching

 

Hanging out the window sill –

is even half of me worth saving?

I never made it to the church,

but held my faith in breaking

 

Why rebuild this house when it’s the land that’s cursed?

I hear it, I hear it, I hear it

 

I got nowhere by acting low –

even my shadow overheated

What’s a rhapsody within myself

when all I did was stay seated?

 

Forge anything and hope it grows

to shed a weight only Atlas knew

I calculate I’m nothing special

because entropy does what we already do

 

There’s a wave so big I can’t see its crest

But I feel it, I feel it, I feel it…

 

 

JoeAlbanese_photoJoe Albanese is a writer from New Jersey. His work can be found in publications across the U.S. and in ten other countries. Joe’s novel, Caina (Mockingbird Lane Press), and his novella, Smash and Grab (Books to Go Now), were both published in 2018.