• Sleeping with the Classics

    I cannot sleep.

    I’m thinking of sleeping with the Classics.

    Where should I start?
    With the vulnerable Pound?
    The clumsy Thomas?
    The mystical Rainer?
    Blake? I certainly loved his technique.
    Maybe Bukowski could be somewhere in the middle…
    I bet he’d last an entire five minutes.

    Perhaps I could finish with
    Sade Marquis.
    It could be my punishment-
    for all of the sinful fornication,
    the moral blasphemous
    of such casual carnage–
    each lash of the whip a bit
    of forgiveness.

    Yes, yes, yes!
    I will go out not with a bang

    but a whimper.

    Sarah Hardin
  • Captive

    I want to keep you captive
    Like a book upon my shelf
    That I will not lend to anyone
    And won’t read for myself

    Luke Norton
  • The Last Lemon

    ‘This is it, you know.’
    ‘Is that so?’
    Flo holds up a dull tin, the label warped and peeling. Smoothing the paper, she reads:
    ‘Sausages and-’
    Flic joins her. ‘Beans. Best til last.’ She sniffs the metal with exaggerated relish.
    ‘Well then.’
    ‘Shall I?’
    A pause.
    ‘Yes, you do the honours Flic.’
    ‘Are you sure? Come with me.’
    ‘Wait… Let’s cook this first.’
    Flo walks to where a low sun casts through the glass. It reflects off a loch, red with algae. With arthritic hands, she turns the gears of the can-opener. Slow.
    ‘I’ll get the knife.’
    ‘Warm the pan too. We can spare the gas, after all.’
    ‘Get it piping.’
    Flo chuckles. It is always hot now.
    While the flame burns, blue on black, Flic goes over to the other window. On the deep stone sill sits a stunted lemon tree. She spits on a cuff and polishes its crisp leaves. A broken residue comes away on her sleeve.
    ‘To think Flo. We grew it.’
    ‘From just a pip.’
    Flo prises the can’s lid with a knife, scrapes congealed innards onto the heat. She joins Flic, looking out over the raw dark hills.
    ‘What’re the odds?’
    ‘Not good. But it lived, alright.’
    Breath held, Flic pulls the lone lemon from its branch. In the palm of her hand, she eases through the soft pith with blunted blade. Zest. Flo leans forward, inhales for them both.
    ‘I’ll get the bottles.’
    Fast on stiff hips, Flo makes for the cupboard. The tonic lets off the barest hiss and the gin cap is almost rusted stiff.
    ‘Glasses, Flic.’
    One. Two. Yellowed liquor slipped in both. Flo throws the remaining dram to the flagstones.
    ‘For the dead,’ she laughs. Flic smiles with her, eyes rheumy in the acid air.
    Flic cuts over the glass, but the dry fruit does not drip. Three slices and a hard navel each.
    ‘Pull that pan.’
    ‘No need.’ Flo holds up their spoons, passes the least bent one over. She stirs, prising charred meat from the pan bottom. Takes a bite.
    ‘Well then, Flic.’
    The two friends lock eyes, cheers.
    ‘To health.’
    ‘To health.’

    Eleanor Matthews
  • To Kit, who I haven’t seen for years, on the day I went to get an abortion

    You’d lap this right up, Kitten.

    I can picture you performing torture
    – all wringing hands and wrenching hair,
    poetry and punches –
    in the waiting room.

    Oh, you’d luxuriate in all this:
    the tragedy, the loss, the unloved life
    (and that was meant to say unlived,
    funny what phones’ll make you admit).
    Yep, you’d lap it up
    like cool cream, warm milk, thick blood
    pouring round the basin
    and down the drain.

    Why I’m thinking of you, I don’t know.
    You’re just something to think about, I suppose,
    while I sit on this bloody train to nowhere
    I want to go.

    Laura Powell
  • infinity commutes

    like knots on a diseased oak,
    we huddle together
    not like rotten planks
    of a fallen floor
    but rather
    like something alive;
    apples in a farmer’s market
    or flowers
    gasping from a pavement crack,
    reaching towards God
    and grasping the crossbar,
    eyes dodging from faces
    or staring at them openly,
    minds on work
    or the press
    or some drifting zephr memory;
    a million infinities
    touching eachother uncomfortably,
    as many as there are fish in the sea,
    and all on their way to somewhere,
    and all with something unshareable in their heart

    DS Maolalai
  • A room of one’s own

    One is afforded the luxury
    of a jumper and no pants;
    sitting on my feet
    with a bare bum
    makes me feel like a child.
    I like to wriggle my toes and
    relish the rare innocence
    of a naked body;
    to curl up foetal around
    soft folds of tummy
    and nestle down to sleep
    in the gap between two pillows.

    Poppy Turner
  • The drawing I’d draw if I could draw

    It would be a pencil drawing.

    It would be a cartoon of a man doing a head stand on a surfboard on a wave. It would be sunny. He’d be skinny, wearing shorts and with oversized hands and feet. His feet would be facing the sky, but drawn at enough of an angle that you could read what was written on them.

    It would say Soul Tan because the bottom of the man’s feet would be getting a tan; and because surfing and the sun and being upside down are good for your soul; and because Boots (the chemist) used to make suntan lotion called Soltan and that’s what my memories of family holidays on the beach smell like.

  • Britain’s Greatest Living Composer

    In London there’s a man, a composer for the broadway stage, who gets every one of his diaries professionally bound. At home, with his wife, he has whole walled bookshelves, deep mahogany, touching the ceiling of his study. And during the day he’ll be writing down the poached eggs he had for breakfast, and the clouds moving through the city, just outside his window, when his wife comes in.

    “10am: Dorothy enters. Asks what my plans are (Ha!), she pauses.”

    Clicking away in his study all day, you’d think he’d write about interesting things, all the people he’s met. ‘Britain’s greatest living composer’ the newspapers say. But opening any of his books, you can see he barely notices a thing.

    Dorelia J. Evans
  • i want to buy you lunch poem

    sometimes i feel sad and i look
    at your Facebook and then i feel
    a strange combination of happy
    and sad. i crack a grolsch and its
    taste is one of melancholy and promise.

    i think back to the times
    i’d meet you after dark and the excitement that charged
    my drunken heart. i think
    of rolling down hills
    in hyde park and thinking
    you were the mould
    i’d force my life to fill.
    i think of all the times
    i’d insist on getting wine you’d correctly never touch, and passing out fused and content.

    all i wanted was to cook for you,
    to call you
    in the faint jaundiced murmur of the barely morning and hear you say “maybe lunch?”

    Django Wylie
  • Spilt sugar

    Licked my finger
    and dabbed at the spilt sugar
    to avoid watching your mouth move.

    Bitter sweet stuck in my teeth it’s odd,
    how I still want to kiss it.
    Even when it’s full
    of broken promises
    and empty excuses
    and endless apologies.
    You stop. And I look up at your lips.
    I bet it seemed easier just to lie.

    Charlotte Josephine
  • Litany

    A blessing on October days,
    kaleidoscope of trees,
    crunch of spent leaves,
    withered conkers crooked shapes.

    A blessing on spiders’ tiaras,
    dew blanketing the ground,
    mists snuggling round valleys,
    berries shining in hedgerows,
    pumpkins plump like cushions.

    A blessing on Autumn.

    Sally Long
  • On Ownership

    You bought me food I’d never tasted before
    So that I cultivated tastes I’d miss
    You bought me a website
    So that all my work was filtered through you
    You bought me sheets
    So I’d sleep in you
    You bought me pillows
    So I couldn’t even rest my head without your help
    You bought me notebooks and pens
    So I couldn’t even have autonomy in words
    You bought me a Netflix account
    So when I was watching something, you could watch me
    You bought me a trip to France
    So I could see worlds owned by you
    I think you would have eventually bought me a ring
    And the worst thing is
    I would have let you

    Sara McCallum
  • Cloverleaf Plaza

    The man beside me reminds me
    of Rain Man, or

    the character
    Dustin Hoffman played, he who
    could count hundreds of matches while they fell to

    the ground but could not tie his

    own shoe,
    here at The Cloverleaf Plaza
    an entire day can go by

    without a single sin:
    This day of wanted-signs,

    lipstick samples and red onions (that are really purple)
    husks of the corn islands

    that scream we are alone

    While most of us are born beneath
    Fluorescent lights: screaming,


    he sits in his spot
    the sun with each bend of his

    Sarah Hardin
  • How does it look?

    A man’s jacket, left at the bar.
    She tries it on for size,
    pats down the shoulders,
    runs fingers along its tweed.

    She sweeps back her hair,
    makes the composed face
    people use in dressing rooms;
    a visual grammar,
    the language of mirrors.

    She looks at herself,
    watches me watching her.
    How does it look?
    You make it work.

    Hazem Tagiuri
  • Empty

    She hadn’t had a great thought for months. No matter how many cafés she went to for inspiration, how many pencils she held thoughtfully to chin, how many freak-show passerbys she tried to furiously encapsulate in iambic pentameter, she was left with nothing but a notebook of lifeless clichés and a head full of empty.

    And so, as she continued to hold pencil thoughtfully to chin, she decided to stop being a writer and get into advertising.

    Go fig.

    Mahsuda Snaith
  • Woke up a little too late to get into school on time. 16/11/2012

    Thought it would be easier to just not turn up and stay in bed.
    As I laid there, festering in my pit I remembered one of the reasons Sissy gave me as to why she was leaving, “you’re lazy and have no hope, whatsoever”. I couldn’t let her to be right, so I crawled out of from my bed. Clean Versace jeans. Clean t-shirt with a screen print of two rag dolls covering the front.

    The cycle to school doesn’t take too long, around fifteen minutes. Ten minutes into the cycle and a coach full of spastics or tourists knocked me off my bike sending me over the bonnet of a small family car. As I laid on the beautiful tarmac road with the screeching sound of a Ford motor car’s breaks approaching my cantaloupe of a head I curled into a ball. The Ford drove around me and the coach left. Leaving only a pair of swollen knees, headache and a small cut on left palm.

    School had started. I walked in late. Apologised to my tutor, he said I didn’t mean it and he was right. I didn’t tell him about being knocked off my bike, all I needed was to sit down. After an hour of the tutor talking and making gestures with his hands, all the pupils were asked to leave the school because another tutor had died of a heart attack in front of his class. His wife also worked at the school. In a quiet and orderly fashion all the students left the building. It started raining. My knees were still too sore to cycle home, so I began to walk.
    Thought it would be easier to just not turn up and stay in bed.

    Barry Everest.
  • Entropy [1]

    When we were children, we built sandcastles on the coast of Cork.
    We would raise them high, making them increasingly elaborate.
    There would be a moat, and trench walls, and spilled, wet sand to make detailed patterns on the more solid structures created with buckets. We would strive to make them both fortress-like and palatial.
    We would be proud, and happy.
    The tide would start to move in, slowly.
    It would fill the moats, and we would feel vindicated,
    It would rise to the castle, and we would be triumphantly yelling at the tide’s powerlessness.
    It would wet and weaken our castles.
    The waves would flow through them.
    The castles would collapse into the waves.
    Anonymous sand again.

    The next day, we would go down after lunch and build new castles.

    [1] (Entropy is a principle whereby any system of order is bound to degrade into chaos and instability

    En/topy isaa prinnciole whud3,ebanysysytem o ordebou n d//,,dgr inatcaosasabil;ityyh)

    Rory McCarthy
  • Simple Things

    The glow fades slowly, shrinking..
    as the summer solar sphere dolefully droops under the horizon line,

    An unfathomable mass of heat.

    As the breeze tentatively sweeps through the tree, against which he rests his back, the leaves flutter playfully like string-less puppets.

    Remarkable invisible master.

    I place my head softly against his chest and feel the methodical pulse, a beat, repeat, repeat..

    Fantastically functional inner machine.

    Gazing emptily into the distance, I think, I thank, I speak… Only to say, it’s all about the simple things.

    Francois Cote
  • Not a sad poem

    Pity the Cyclops
    he can’t sleep
    with one eye open.

    And what about the magical unicorn?
    Being so majestic
    makes it hard to horse around.

    Pity the beautiful princess
    whose intentions are cruel and vile.

    And then there’s the poor old dragon
    with his destructive breath
    who only burns himself.

    Joanne McLaughlin
  • Hole

    I rarely win things,
    apart from hearts,
    of which I have way too many,
    apart from my own one,
    which got ripped out of my tiny chest a while ago,
    which is why I have this hole in my rib cage.

    Debora Domass
  • Wednesday at Midnight.

    Another pub,
    calls last orders.
    Or does
    the night last longer?
    Get drunk alone again,
    Those groaning men,
    flock to your ex.
    Looking for her online presence.
    Less sense, senselessness.
    Text message the next ex,
    Half expect sex.
    Get nothing,
    give nothing,

    Barry Everest.
  • Ice Record

    Goodnight, by The Beatles. It was just a song you played me once,
    with the blinds up so we could see the moon like a penny over the
    cold sea. I took the record; made a mould of every bump and groove,
    then filled the mould with water and froze it. The ice record was
    perfect. I dropped the needle and ghosts hummed out across the
    decades. But like you, it was gone before I was ready for-

    Wendy Chard
  • The grey portrait

    Billie is sitting on a navy blue wood-chipped bench and tea is dribbling from her mouth, little by little the entire contents of her forest green paper cup is falling into her lap and there is now a puddle of saliva infested tea soaking through her grey trousers. Her head is raised, poised in the air, watching the old man with the colour grey painted between his wrinkles. Billies eyes bore into his, following Point A to Point B of the sunken yellow valley below his eyes. There are sprinkles and sprinkles of tiny grey hairs resting above his lips; Billie does not know if it is the remnants of a moustache or if it has fallen from his nose.

    Billie now stares at all of the man she can see in front her, looking beyond the grey portrait and drilling her eyes into his past life, the life that is living behind every orange white patch of skin, the life that his hidden behind his freckled forehead, behind his tired eyes. Billie closes her eyes for a long moment and creates a moving picture of his life: a man and a woman kissing, tongues drenched spit clinging to each other tightly. The woman is sighing, squeezing his back repeatedly and waiting for his arms to embrace her body – he does not and instead remains rooted to the ground, hands glued to his sides, only tongue moving.

    The old man stands, he waits for only a moment and walks away from the navy blue wood-chipped bench. Billie sees the loneliness painted on the grey portrait and sighs, the old man’s past life still tiptoeing across her mind. She wonders who he is and who the girl was, she wonders if he ever did fully embrace her, fully move with her body, fully love her, fully kiss her. She wonders too much for a person who does not know the old man’s name. The forest green paper cup falls carelessly to floor and Billie begins to dab at the puddle of tea soaking through her grey trousers.

    Oyinda Yemi-Omowumi
  • Slapstick Homelife

    Where is my self respect?
    Where is my aftershave?
    Where is my gel douche?
    Where is my happy day?

    I wish I had spent all my pointless time doing pointless things on YouTube

    I’m hungry I am
    I’m tired I am
    I’m old enough to know better I am
    I’m young enough to still have to try

    I wish I had spent all my pointless time doing pointless things on YouTube

    Say what you will, Alex Zane has a fan base
    I measure my impact in layers of dust
    I’m gonna bookend all my falls with adverts
    Let my humiliations earn my crust

    I wish I had spent all my pointless time doing pointless things on YouTube

    All those wasted years tripping over off camera
    Next time my heart sinks please God let my bank balance rise
    All those wasted years living off one way shit karma
    Now it’s twenty pence a click every time a little something inside me dies

    I wish I had put all my pointless time into doing pointless things on YouTube

    Got to make my failures pay

    W Henry
  • Untitled (political)

    “Check this out”

    Steven wasn’t concentrating on the class work they’d been set.

    “Ben, check this out”

    Now Ben wasn’t concentrating, he hadn’t really been able to concentrate since the shuffle around in 6Bs seating plan. Miss Boronsko had made the switch from alphabetical to a more culturally diverse spreading of age order within the year six class. “No more Mohammed’s in the middle” was the chant, Miss B was actually a bit nervous at the racist-sounding-ness of the slogan but persevered nonetheless. Although I mean she hadn’t even said it out loud but you know, ‘NSA’ etc.

    Whipping out his new Casio FX-115MS-SC-UH and handing it to Ben, Steven began;

    “So you take the number of potential puns about UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s name made on the internet and World of Warcraft.”

    “Right.” Ben tapped away.

    “Divided by the number of closeted dick jokes ready to go to print by DMG media.”

    “Wait, is this going to be political?”

    Stephen assured him it was.

    Ben continued tapping.

    “Add 5″


    “Now, multiply by the current levels of radiation at the geographical centre, ground zero if you will, of the Chernobyl disaster and add the first number.”

    “OK, is this going to carry on much long…” Ben’s voice trailed off has he hit enter.

    He’d never expected this, this was big.

    The answer? 80085.

    Joshua T Howell
  • Eternal Bindings

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  • Avion Paris

    Ce matin, tu as dû te réveiller tôt.

    J’étais encore dans ton lit
    tournée vers le mur
    roulée en boule sous ta couette,

    j’avais chaud même si j’étais nue.

    Tu t’es allongé contre moi
    ton bras frais m’enveloppait.
    La peau de mon corps
    qui était découverte,
    a eu des frissons.

    On était triste de se quitter,

    Je me suis levée,
    tu m’as serré fort dans tes bras,

    Je n’ai pas réalisé que c’était la fin.

    Charlotte Beltzung

    I followed you down, Regent Street
    Admiring, assessing, head to feet

    Well contoured curves, shiny hair
    Tailored skirt, straining buttock pair

    Moving level. A firm, tight breast
    Careful jewellery, skin sun-blessed

    Raised my eyes, nervous, shock
    For you my love were a BOBFOC

    Jerry Turner