Another life – Nigel F. Ford

 

Time: twenty two hours, five minutes and forty-eight seconds.

Red is seated on a stool working on a mobile phone, occasionally looking up at Grey, who is seated on an opposite stool and talking incessantly.

Observer is caught looking at Red, who looks up from the phone and catches Observer’s eye.

Observer looks away quickly, and Red drops their gaze back down to the phone simultaneously.

Observer watches Red eating small dishes of food, in quick succession: fried aubergine, grilled sardines, chicken croquettes, octopus rings, a stick of grilled prawns, etcetera.

While Grey sips at a small beer and talks incessantly.

Red drinks blood red wine and is now almost at the bottom of glass number three.

Red looks up and the eyes of Observer and Red meet and hold for three seconds.

Red now seems to have finished eating and drinking. Grey has finished their beer. Grey dismounts from their stool and pays at the bar.

As they leave, Red looks back at Observer and their eyes meet and hold for an eternal flash of time.

Grey and Red disappear into the whirling crowd of evening strollers in the street of the warm, black night.

In another life, Observer tells self, smiles a small self-conscious smile.

Time: Twenty two hours, twenty five minutes and twenty four seconds.

 

 

Photo on 18-12-15 at 13.02Born in 1944, Nigel F. Ford wrote his first radio play aged 14 (refused). Jobs include reporter for The Daily Times, Lagos, Nigeria, travel writer for Sun Publishing, London, English teacher for Berlitz, Hamburg, copy writer for Ted Bates, Stockholm. Had a hand in starting the Brighton Fringe in 1967. He started painting etc. in 1983 and has regularly exhibited in Sweden and on the Internet in various publication. In addition, several magazines in UK and US have been kind enough to publish his writing. Such as Nexus, Outposts, Encounter, New Spokes, Inkshed, The Crazy Oik, Weyfarers, Acumen, Critical Quarterly, Staple, T.O.P.S, The North, Foolscap, Iota, Poetry Nottingham, Tears in the Fence etc. He is now trying to produce & direct one of his stage plays.

Advertisements

Bees make honey – Cath Barton

 

Three jars of honey glistened on the window sill – golden and translucent. Outside a bee hovered. Lucy raised a finger tip to the glass and the bee came close as if to kiss it. Then, propelled by some unseen force, one of the jars tipped and smashed on the flagstones. Lucy watched, frozen and impotent, as the bee repeatedly flung itself at the glass in distress.

At breakfast Lucy’s hands trembled in her lap. Mark, sitting opposite her and reading the paper, noticed nothing.

“I’m going down to the hives this morning,” she said.

“Okay,” said Mark, through a mouthful of toast. “New honey’s great, by the way,” he added, looking up and grinning at her. “Tell your bees.”

“Cheer up,” he said, when she didn’t respond. “It might never happen. Got to run.”

He kissed the top of her head and ruffled her hair as he got up from the table, scattering crumbs.

Hearing the car leaving minutes later, Lucy put her hands onto the table-top to steady herself. She felt as if the bees had stung her, though they hadn’t, never had, never would, she knew.

She went upstairs, switched on her laptop and looked at her e-mails. Six new messages, all from him. Expressing undying love in six different ways. Their sweetness was cloying. She deleted them all. Immediately another pinged into the in-box.

“You all right??”

“I’m fine,” she wrote back. “Just tired.”

“Tell me you love me,” said the next message. She stared at the words on the screen. Then pressed delete. Her finger trembled as she did so. She didn’t feel fine.

She pulled on her bee suit and wellington boots and walked through the long grass to the hives. Out in the fresh air she felt better. She checked the hives.

“Sorry about the broken jar,” she said, in a whisper. “I’ll be more careful in future.”

The bees circled her head as if telling her not to worry. Lucy knew that bees understood things no humans ever did. She’d like to come back as a bee. She’d said that once to Mark, who’d laughed. That was the trouble with Mark, always laughing, never taking things seriously.

She hadn’t meant to look for someone else. Why would she, with a happy home, everything she could want. Except.

“I think the bees are like your children,” Mark had said.

He’d laughed as he said it of course. It was like a physical blow but she hadn’t let him see that. He hadn’t meant anything bad. She knew she should talk to him about it. But she’d left it too long.

They’d met in the library. Changing their books. They talked and got shushed by the librarian. Out on the street they talked more, gone for coffee. People do that. No harm, she’d thought. But she should have told Mark. Not let it become secret. Not let it become anything.

It had become too much.

Back in the house she made coffee, sat at the computer again. Just one new e-mail from him, reasonable, reasoned. She replied, agreed to meet.

She took him a jar of honey. Gave it to him with trembling hands. Told him that she and Mark were moving. They wouldn’t have bees in the new place.

“No room,” she said, looking down at her hands in her lap, still now.

He cried and it was unbearable. She left without looking back.

The e-mails continued for a bit. She deleted them all, unread.

She did think of getting rid of the bees. But they needed her. And they were a comfort.

 

 

Cath BartonCath Barton is an English writer and photographer who lives in Wales. She won the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella for The Plankton Collector, which will be published in 2018 by New Welsh Review under their Rarebyte imprint. Read more about her writing at https://cathbarton.com.

Bird watching – J V Birch

 

I watch a pair of lorikeets gorge on overripe peaches. They hook the ample flesh with their beaks chattering between mouthfuls, their green the green of the leaves so only the vivid blue of their heads is visible, with an occasional blaze of breast. I think of the women at the café in Brighton. Every Sunday they sit at a window table slurping tea and cream cakes, heads bent in gossip, oblivious to their surrounds and smeared lips. At that time, in their world, it’s just them. I note the silence, feel watched, look up to find the parrots staring at me, a couple of plump sunsets untouched at their feet.

 

J V Birch website photoJ V Birch lives in Adelaide. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, journals and magazines across Australia, the UK, Canada and the US. She has two collections – Smashed glass at midnight and What the water & moon gave me – published by Ginninderra Press, and is currently working on her third. She blogs at www.jvbirch.com.

Power Out, Summer – Mark Danowsky

 

I’m usually not big on lights

while working, unless reading

 

Headlights I want on

Fans I want on

 

Windows I prefer closed, mostly

Doors shut at night

 

Laundry done, an empty sink

A full fridge, and quiet

 

Leading up to bedtime

to keep heart and mind from racing

 

Mark Danowsky bioMark Danowsky is a poet from Philadelphia. His poems have appeared in About Place, Cordite, Gargoyle, Gravel, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Subprimal, and elsewhere. Mark is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and Founder of the poetry coaching and editing service VRS CRFT.

Vacation Is Beginning – James G. Piatt

 

Vacation is beginning.

The dim glow of the early morning sun is

Crawling through the cracks in a rustic

Rented cabin showering the rooms with

A soft tempo of light. The night crickets

Have stopped chirping and the frogs

Have finished their nightly chorus, of

Croaking chords.

 

The dew is melting on the grass, and

The faces of the wild Lilies in the leas

Are opening up to view the rays of the

Sun. The coyotes have escaped to their

Day lairs, and the deer are hiding deep

In the bushes.

 

The children are waking late in the

Morning to the aroma of pancakes; and

Eggs and bacon in the kitchen, for

School buses and learning have

Departed for the summer.

 

The dawn’s early sun is beginning its

Daily tour of the cabin’s garden and the

Raspberry vines in the old orchard; and

An old stripped cat is sneaking into the

Field to find its morning mouse.

 

Bio pic 2James, a retired professor and octogenarian, is a Pushcart and Best of Web nominee, and his poems were selected for inclusion in The 100 Best Poems of 2016, 2015 & 2014 Anthologies, and the 2017 Poet’s Showcase and Yearbook. He has published 3 collections of poetry, “The Silent Pond” (2012), “Ancient Rhythms” (2014), and “LIGHT” (2016), and 1000 poems, in such magazines as Miller’s Pond, American Aesthetic, Gold Dust Poetry, Scarlet Leaf, The Linnet’s Wings and over 120 others. His fourth collection of poetry will be released this year. He earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, and his doctorate from BYU.

Tomatoes – Natalie Crick

 

Plump tomatoes roll

Beautifully, with

Silken skin that puckers

And splits. In my hands,

They have a pulse.

Each one curious, childlike

As a heart thumping in wonder.

 

Natalie Crick PhotoNatalie Crick, from the UK, has poetry published or forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including Interpreters House, Ink In Thirds, The Penwood Review, The Chiron Review and Rust and Moth. Her work also features or is forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections 13. This year her poem ‘Sunday School’ was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Bali – John Grey

 

Sea water laps against the docks,

the bright, inclusive restaurants,

their gaily painted menus

selling their show

to passing tongues.

 

The air is good enough to eat,

lawa, babi guling,

cascading smells of soy and chili.

 

Night-clubs

soundtrack the breeze.

Some places, its one guy strumming a guitar.

another, the tuneful choral chimes of gamelan.

 

A myna bird rocks on a branch,

converses with the deep loll of a gong.

 

An old woman perches against

the post office wall,

tenun woven cloths spread before her

 

Old men,

their brown faces weathered like figs,

look out at the few moored boats

that appear and disappear

in swaying dock lights.

 

Signposts lead to pleasures great and small.

Sounds or sights, food or drink.

it’s a sorry night

when everyone’s not inebriated with something.

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. His work has recently been published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, and is upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Mushrooms and Onions – Jon Bennett

 

When I first got a kitchen

I baked salmon

and decided, from then on

fish every day!

I only made it once

I’m too impatient for ovens

and still eat from the bag and can

although I do fry up

mushrooms and onions

with my eggs in the morning

I feel this kitchen

has saved my life

although maybe

it’s the soft bed

that came along with it.

 

jon bennettJon Bennett is a writer and musician living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. You can find more of his stuff on Pandora and iTunes. For booking contact jonbennett14@hotmail.com. Most recently his work has appeared in Degenerate Literature, Your One Phone Call and In Between Hangovers.

Unfinished breakfast – Roma Havers

 

Cold burnt toast waits in dawn light

for a kettle shriek,

porridge stains hob-tops,

stiff boils emerge into oaty alps,

a lung faints above clouds

as her tongue lolls onto stone tiles;

last kiss into dirt and breadcrumbs,

A rib cracks in a gust of air,

lets out a tire hiss;

 

the cat flap swings in spring air

and paws tread prints into her snow-flesh,

veins mark snakes and ladders under claws,

purring, its soft head dings at a dead arm

and licks a line from ear to throat,

the wet skin does not move

 

like a pond where freeze takes hold

and goldfish hang

mouths open, in the glass,

the cat scrapes at the surface,

starved for fish.

One last tear melts down her,

red with life,

and the kettle sings mourning blues.

 

roma-haversRoma Havers is a Manchester-based poet, currently in her third year of an Drama and English degree at The University of Manchester where she is the Books Editor for The Mancunion and Chair of the Creative Writing Society. She performs regularly at spoken word nights, and events such as Reclaim the Night and UniPresents.

Winning the tombola – Maria Sledmere

 

She turned the package over in her fingers. Silken, purple, properly gift-wrapped. The thought of what might lie inside glazed over her mind like the sweetening glow of a bar of milk chocolate, crunched alone on a cold evening.

She had a full hour to herself, before they returned. This kitchen, the room of her life, seemed transformed before her. The bread bin was open, the fridge was bursting with its hoard of treasures. She didn’t need to touch anything, though it was seductive, to think of the carrots neatly lined up like pens in a stationer’s, the orange juice, the dark bitter rye bread, the drawers chockfull of hazelnuts and brazils and the luxurious sugared lemons they’d bought for the festive season.

Earlier, he’d pinned her against the mahogany wardrobe.

“Do it like this,” he whispered. She remembers such words like a litany.

There were seven words to be said for the lottery. The old women tittered at the sight of her skirt, the hole in her tights. It was an unfair judgment; she had done nothing but turn up, as was her right. Seven words to be said. The music was harsh and synthy; dissonant, like the music they play in a mall, only slowed down to a creepy, molluscan crawl.

He poured dark muscovado sugar on her tongue, lovingly. He put his finger in her mouth, swirled it around, till the coarse stuff got sticky and wet and dissolved. It was as if he had drained the juice of her blood and here she was, dried and rasping. Come.

He used to scrunch her hair in his palms, and later it would lie a certain way against her neck, limp and curled, the filaments crushed.

He had been a jazz musician once. He had played the saxophone in her sleep, the shrill buzz of those notes swivelling through the staves of her veins, twisting her organs to a new truth.

The old women drew papers from a golden box. The one with an amethyst scarf waved a number, triumphantly, as if declaring the birth of an age.

“That’s me!” she had shrieked, leaping from her seat. Their eyes had been upon her, and maybe for a moment she had felt ashamed. Still, it didn’t last. The parcel was duly handed over; she treated herself to a taxi home.

What was the use in waiting? She had dallied long enough.

The ribbons fell apart in her fingers. Her heart backflipped, a ballerina. So this was the promise?

What she saw made her vomit.

 

author-pic-maria-s

Maria Sledmere is currently studying for an MLitt in Modernities at the University of Glasgow, and is otherwise an assistant editor for SPAMzine and part-time restaurant supervisor, a job which provides her with many ideas for strange stories. She regularly writes music reviews for RaveChild Glasgow and has had work recently accepted by publications including From Glasgow to Saturn, DataBleed, Robida and Germ Magazine.  When not obsessing over the literature of Tom McCarthy she may be found painting, making mixtapes or writing about everything from Dark Ecology, Derrida to Lana Del Rey at http://musingsbymaria.wordpress.com.

Picture this – Katie Lewington

 

Restaurant shouts from the kitchen waiter answers the phone to takeaway or to collect boss greets guest my name is Ming, yes as in the vase laughs empty tables frosted glass window waiters hover attentive to needs


love is his wine glass
on my side of the table
and his thigh where I drape my leg
and in my lap –
wine glass
and his fork in my noodles
and I am finishing his dish of beef
and he is reading over my shoulder
and I am using his shoulder as tissue –

small pocket of reality shops shut cold night air dusts red faces pubs grow louder full of celebrators crowds of people forming community which team do you support last orders creep to bed
dream.

 

kl-picKatie Lewington is a UK-based writer and has been drafting, editing and rewriting her bio since she started submitting to literary magazines and journals two years ago. It isn’t as if she doesn’t know who she is, she just isn’t sure what is relevant. Her creative writing can be read at https://katiecreativewriterblog.wordpress.com. She can be contacted through Twitter @idontwearahat.