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.

Advertisements

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.

Unwavering – Susan Richardson

 

Each day, as I reluctantly get out of bed,

to face the sunlight and blindness,

I ask you to hold my hand so I

won’t feel afraid of standing still.

You wrap my fluttering pulse in threads

of warmth that traverse your palms,

dulling the edges of my anxiety.

You teach me to shake off rage

and laugh at the act of coming unglued.

How quickly I learned to seek your

voice in the clamor of being alive,

rely on the steady cadence of your heart

to quiet the noises that breathe in darkness.

You stand unwavering in the center of

our life together, a beacon that always finds me.

Feeling your fingers against mine,

I stand beside you, content to close my eyes

and let the sun shine on my face.

 

 

IMG_0069Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Los Angeles. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called, Stories from the Edge of Blindness. Her work has been published in Foxglove Journal, Amaryllis, The Writing Disorder and Eunoia Review, among others. She was awarded the Sheila-Na-Gig 2017 Winter Poetry Prize, featured in the Literary Juice Q&A Series, and chosen as the Ink Sweat & Tears March 2018 Poet of the Month. She also writes for the Arts and Lit Collective, Morality Park.

Honest Hands – Susan Richardson

 

If he is the rain, then I am gravel,

parched under the embers of shame,

longing for the relief of him.

He washes the soot of loneliness

from my skin and offers me comfort.

 

Irish blood and bones, he is

the son of verdant landscapes,

shared pints of stout and fierce loyalty.

He navigates life vigorously

and laughs with his whole body.

 

His voice carries the tones of Autumn,

rich with the luster of unravelling gold.

I sink into the warmth of his words as

he helps stitch my broken limbs

with threads offered from his heart.

 

I remember so clearly the night

he wrapped his arms willingly

around my imperfections.

It was the first time I was

touched by honest hands.

 

 

IMG_0069Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Hollywood. She was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 2002 and much of her work focuses on her relationship to the world as a partially sighted woman. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”. Her work has been published in: Stepping Stones Magazine, Wildflower Muse, The Furious Gazelle, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Foxglove Journal, Literary Juice and Sick Lit Magazine, with pieces forthcoming in Amaryllis. She was also awarded the Sheila-Na-Gig Winter Poetry Prize.

Morning Song – Susan Richardson

 

Mornings begin with the scratch

and rattle of claws against wood,

chaos seeping with fervor

into the void of night.

He plants his feet reluctantly

onto a floor bathed in the chill

of a disappearing moon,

tails sweeping in and out of

precarious spaces between his ankles.

It is a long walk to the kitchen,

where the hiss of an opening

can awakens a cacophony of hunger,

mingled with chords of impatience.

A spoon clanking against glass sets

the rhythm for notes of anticipation.

He fills the bowls and places

them on the branches of the tree.

Quiet settles into plump warm fullness.

 

 

IMG_0069Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Hollywood. She was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 2002 and much of her work focuses on her relationship to the world as a partially sighted woman. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called “Stories from the Edge of Blindness”. Her work has been published in: Stepping Stones Magazine, Wildflower Muse, The Furious Gazelle, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Foxglove Journal, Literary Juice and Sick Lit Magazine, with pieces forthcoming in Amaryllis. She was also awarded the Sheila-Na-Gig Winter Poetry Prize.

Newt – Lynn White

 

I can understand

why

on a hot, hot day,

Lawrence’s snake appeared thirstily

at his water trough.

And why his lizard ran out

onto a rock

to flaunt himself in the sunshine.

But why

on a wet, wet day,

a newt should leave

her splendidly moist habitat

and venture hazardously

into the dry warmth of my kitchen,

that

I cannot understand.

And, of course she couldn’t explain.

 

 

Lynn...Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem ‘A Rose For Gaza’ was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition 2014. This and many other poems, have been widely published, in recent anthologies such as – ‘Alice In Wonderland’ by Silver Birch Press, ‘The Border Crossed Us’ and ‘Rise’ from Vagabond Press and journals such as Apogee, Firewords Quarterly, Indie Soleil, Light and Snapdragon as well as many other online and print publications.

Postcard from Fiesole – Diana Devlin

 

Far away,

I see you best:

fresh as a blood orange

when I close my eyes.

Your breath on my neck,

as warm as toasted walnuts,

trickles through olive trees.

I sit in the shade

and sip the ruby elixir

of you.

 

 

IMG_4511Diana Devlin is a Scottish-Italian poet living near Loch Lomond. A former translator, lexicographer and teacher, Diana now writes full time and shares her life with a husband, two daughters, a Jack Russell and two eccentric cats. Her work has been published both online and in print and she is working towards her first collection. She is a member of several writing groups and enjoys sharing her poetry at public events.

Hooked – Kristin Garth

 

I swim around your boat for days before

I catch your eye. On deck, the sun so bright

it blocks your face just long enough to lure

my head around these blinding rays and right

into your pirate heart. My tail begins

to flip against the waves, and I cannot

pretend I don’t belong to you. The end

for me is not a hook or net. You caught

me with a look. My trembling hands descend,

before my captain now. Your hook overcomes

exposes half a girl. My piscine end

on board transformed, subdued. The sun

so warm against us while we rock and float.

New legs you touch first, always on this boat.

 

 

unnamed (1)Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola. Her poetry has been featured in Anti-Heroin Chic, Fourth & Sycamore, Mookychick, Moonchild Magazine, Occulum, Faded Out and many other publications. Follow her on Twitter: @lolaandjolie and her website: kristingarth.wordpress.com.

Verona – Andrew Nowell

 

I wasn’t expecting you to fall in love again

With me, that day I rang with tickets to Verona.

It’s just I knew you loved the opera:

So did I, and the festival

Was far too good an opportunity to pass.

 

We fenced a courtly distance through piazzas,

The streets with gliding intimacy, the stone

So warm and honey tan.

Your eyes averted from the balcony

Where Juliet lamented to a spice-filled night.

 

Looking back, it probably wasn’t my greatest-ever notion

To take you to see the obsessed lover

Double-cross the letters,

Fill with cruel bullets,

His straw man, the artist, a poor painter of scenes.

 

But I just wanted you to hear when background music

Set up to depict the world has to give way,

A silver thread of sound,

A clarinet sentinel,

Gently parts the veil to climb to dreams and rapture.

 

So, at midnight, the performance finally over,

We walked to old hotels through star-bathed lanes,

Our hands a set distance apart

Like the conductor daring not to twitch

Or breathe, in case the music runs from his control.

 

 

IMG_20170903_165005Andrew Nowell studied English literature at University College London where he completed an MA in Shakespeare and the Renaissance. Now a journalist working for a local newspaper, he is also looking to break into creative writing and poetry. He lives in Wigan.

Weekend – Jonathan Butcher

 

Hapless at weekends, yet still with that

contrived joy; in the beer gardens and car

parks, where perfume and aftershave still

smell fresh against fake fur and denim.

 

The hiss of music from the outside speakers,

that threaten to fall, but never damage conversation.

The bottles strewn across badly mounted tables

and tree torn, cracked pavements.

 

The warmth of this room blocks out winter, yet

its shell remains fragile, like rusted gates that

no longer retain the strength to block out the

weakest of imposters.

 

And again we glide without protest, our voices

placed only where needed, our feet as nimble

as ever; tripping over curbs now an art form,

that at last we have finally mastered.

 

Foxglove submissionJonathan Butcher is a poet based in Sheffield, England. He has had poetry appear in various print and online journals including Ink, Sweat and Tears, Elbow Room, Your One Phone Call, Mad Swirl, The Transnational and others. His second chapbook ‘Broken Slates’ was published by Flutter Press.

Scarves – Joan McNerney

 

I want to make scarves from the sky.

Since I’m not much of a seamstress,

here’s hoping it won’t be too hard.

 

To start I’ll just pick up a fleecy

white cloud to cover my neck.

 

Maybe create a dove grey scarf

and cut out pale blue ones too.

Make entire closets full of them.

 

At sunset I will fashion boas

of bright ruby and tangerine.

 

My midnight shawl will be long

gleaming ebony covering my

shoulders keeping me warm.

 

If lucky I’ll find some rainbows…

kaleidoscopes to wrap up in.

 

I will list them on eBay and Craig’s,

hang pictures on my Facebook wall.

 

Imagine, everybody will want them!

Would you like one too?

Better put your order in now.

 

VivitarJoan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Camel Saloon, Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, Halcyon Days. Her work has been included in many Bright Hills Press , Kind of A Hurricane Press and Poppy Road Review anthologies and has been nominated four times for Best of the Net.

Warmest Tangerine – Richard King Perkins II

 

The sun’s

resurrection—

 

it’s always been

alive

 

somewhere

 

smashing into air

and interstellar

plasma

 

but we see it

as warmest tangerine

 

earliest dust

 

across rooftops

and far-reaching

leaves

 

held captive

in uppermost vibrissae

 

waiting for months

to descend

 

into crisp piles

where we stroll

and caracole

 

through shed

fragments;

 

dead—

 

but living in a way

which we

cannot imagine.

 

rkpiiRichard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.