Yellow Ribbons – Pene Morley

 

The newspaper did nothing to stop the cold seeping from the wooden bench into Steve’s bones. He hugged his anorak tighter around his shoulders and tucked his hands under his armpits. Swapping that old blanket for a tin of baked beans had been a bad idea.

Shoppers, muffled up in coats and scarves and hats, trudged to and fro in front of him. Most ignored him, but some watched him out of the tail of an eye as they passed him. He wanted to grab them and tell them, ‘I was like you once, before I went to fight your bloody war’, but he knew they wouldn’t believe him; they never did.

A woman hurled a half-eaten burger into the bin at his elbow, and he eyed it for a moment before snatching it up. Then he noticed the girl staring at him, knock-kneed, gripping a plait in each hand as though she thought her hair was going to fly off.

‘It’s for my dog,’ he said, nodding to where the lurcher was curled up among the carrier bags at his feet.

The dog raised its shaggy head at the sound of his voice, and he tossed the burger between its paws. It snapped it up.

‘What’s his name?’ the girl said, edging closer.

‘I don’t know. I call him Bob but he’s not really my dog; he just follows me around.’

‘Can I stroke him?’

Steve nodded. The girl bounced down on to the ground at his feet with a grin, and the lurcher stretched out his neck to sniff her mouth, his tail thumping the pavement.

‘My dog’s called Scruffy,’ she said, giggling and squirming as Bob licked her face. ‘I got him when my daddy died but nobody can see him; he’s invisible.’

Steve crumpled up the burger bag and chucked it into the bin. Not having a dad must be tough on the kid, but you wouldn’t know it looking at her now. She was holding Bob’s ears up like butterfly wings and chatting to him about everything and nothing. Steve was about to ask her about her dad, when a slip of a woman rushed up and grabbed her by the shoulders.

‘How many times have I told you not to run off like that, Anna?’ she said, pulling the girl on to her feet.

Anna twisted in her grip. ‘I just wanted to see that man; I thought he was daddy.’

The woman’s body slumped, like a puppet no longer in play. She glanced over at Steve, exasperated, and for an instant he thought her tired eyes were pleading with him for help.

Then she tugged at Anna’s arm. ‘Come on, I don’t want you bothering him.’

‘But he’s got a dog,’ Anna said, digging in her heels, ‘and it’s real.’

‘I don’t care.’

‘And he’s got no laces.’

‘What..?’

Her mother stopped pulling her arm and turned to Steve. She studied his cracked, unlaced army boots and then looked back at Anna, frowning.

‘Remember when Daddy’s laces broke and he used my ribbons to tie his trainers,’ Anna said. She smiled at Steve. ‘Would you like my ribbons for your boots?’ She knelt at his feet. ‘I think they’ll look ever so pretty,’ she said, threading her ribbons through the lace holes.

Her mother gazed at Steve as if to say, ‘I’m sorry, about her’. He grinned at her, and she reached down to stroke Bob and hide the flush of colour that had appeared in her cheeks.

 

 

PM bio picPene Morley lives in the south of Germany with her husband, teenage son and two Labradors. She discovered very short stories on Twitter over a year ago and now tries daily to do one of the writing prompts. Since then she has also started writing flash fiction and is writing a novel which she hopes to have finished soon. You can follow her on Twitter @PeneMorley.

Silver Fox, Sweden, 2010 – Gordon Meade

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded.

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded

in capturing my best side.

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded

in capturing my best side,

my stoic pose, beyond the bars.

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded

in capturing my best side,

my stoic pose. Beyond the bars

of my cage, the night air bristles.

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded

in capturing my best side,

my stoic pose. Beyond the bars

of my cage, the night air bristles

but I am no longer party to that.

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded

in capturing my best side,

my stoic pose. Beyond the bars

of my cage, the night air bristles

but I am no longer party to that.

My gaze remains turned inward.

 

I think you have, as far

as is possible, given the present

circumstances, definitely succeeded

in capturing my best side,

my stoic pose. Beyond the bars

of my cage, the night air bristles

but I am no longer party to that.

My gaze remains turned inward.

My eyes have seen too much.

 

 

IMG_20180410_165525Gordon Meade is a Scottish poet based in the East Neuk of Fife. He divides his time between his own writing and developing creative writing courses for vulnerable people in a variety of settings. He is also a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow working, at the moment, on their Bridge Project in Scottish schools. His ninth collection of poems, The Year of the Crab, a poetic exploration of a diagnosis and early treatment of cancer, was published in 2017 by Cultured Llama Publishing.

Coy – JD DeHart

 

Small faces peeking

over the fence, mask

of a raccoon, furtive

glance of a squirrel

 

The gaze of a deer,

pale eye of a fish, sky-

born gleam of a hawk,

even a possum’s glare

 

These are the faces

that adorn my childhood,

my eyes returning

all those countless looks.

 

 

Bio pic 10JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His poems have recently appeared at Cacti Fur and Strange Poetry. DeHart blogs at jddehartfeaturepoems.blogspot.com.

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.

Over the fence – John Grey

 

I watched the boy

struggle to climb a fence.

I don’t know whether his intent

was escape

or if he was merely retrieving a lost ball.

 

It was a tall, wooden stockade barrier

and progress could be measured

in the merest of inches

but failure was all the way back down.

 

I didn’t volunteer my help.

He was a kid

and that would have been an insult.

But he did catch my gaze

once or twice.

He must have thought my height

was unfair.

 

He could have much more easily

exited through his front gate

but that lacked the derring-do of a real option.

The fence was Mt. Everest or an opposing army

or a thick jungle or a rampaging animal.

Or maybe it was even me.

 

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.