Hearts – Rhianne Celia

 

I got to thinking about hearts.

How they seem to be everywhere – hearts.

a heart fritter;

a bitter heart;

a heart-shaped spoon;

 

an up-for-grabs heart;

a not-in-service heart;

a hammock-lolling-in-the-breeze heart;

 

a slap-on-the-wrist heart,

a deep-water-flunking heart;

 

a heart with pins

and needles;

a light-blockade migraine heart;

 

a heart of gold, an at-best-bronze heart;

a slit of heart;

a bottomless heart

 

The rail of bleeding-heart

fuchsias in my sister’s garden

heart.

 

An I-couldn’t-believe-they-were-called-that

heart.

 

The ____ of the storm

The wind-swept ____

 

Writing from the ____

 

A searching heart, angling itself to catch

the height of the sun.

 

 

FGBorn and raised in Manchester, UK, Rhianne has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Manchester. She has loved words (and arranging them) since she could put fluffy pen to paper (that’s a lot of fluff, and a lot of paper!). She explores human relationships in all of their wonderful complexity in her work and writes a lot about mental health, a subject close to her heart. You can find more of her poetry and general musings over at rhianne-writes.tumblr.com.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Crepuscular – Rebecca Gethin

 

At the wooded creek, a sheen

on hexagons of damp basalt

water like charcoal silk

where a pied cormorant has settled on a branch

and a catbird yowls nearby

till kookaburra unswallows

the songs of day –

 

we hold a breath, nudge each other

when the surface puckers, ripples

but it isn’t the platypus.

 

The moon is in two places

stars speckle the water

we can still just see enough

with the surface shine

but it isn’t the platypus.

 

We shift, feeling it’s time to give up.

As the darkness tightens

a thread of droplets needles the water

and air clusters with presence –

cloak-winged flying foxes

queue to swoop-drink

first one way, then the other

but not the platypus.

 

 

unnamed 2Rebecca 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.

Eva – Spangle McQueen

 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – Emily Dickinson

 

If I left you a feather

preserved

in Burmese amber

would you treasure

 

this coelurosaur’s gift

wrapped in semi-

translucent resin?

Would you release

 

the ferrous

traces of my blood –

hopeful of

cloning?

 

Or would you reject

this humble

hollow-tailed thing –

ignore me – in favour of

an angel’s token?

 

 

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

Freshers – Ben Banyard

 

Dotted about, they cling to one another

like survivors from a shipwreck,

shiny and new as the morning.

 

Shaky from first attempts at ironing

their independence is eggshell frail.

 

Early evenings, watch them snake

the pavements on route-march pub crawls,

terrified of that one indiscretion

which earns them a nickname or

tattoos a campus anecdote.

 

Studies will prove peripheral

for three or four years of this cakewalk.

They choke back their homesickness,

fledge into themselves day by day.

 

 

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.

A Stone – Oak Ayling

 

Do you think

A stone taken up from the ground

Forgets where it is from?

Erased of place, of memory?

 

Do you think it remembers

The rough kiss

The tender current

The air, the ocean

The chatter of falcons nesting?

 

Does it still think fondly

Of the year you were born?

 

 

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.