• Willow

    The willow danced, her moves did not care about the crowd, they drew circles in the air, like caterpillars falling down from apples, they crossed over unseen faces, caressing their every pore, she twirled embracing human bodies only she could see, and the room was dark, and still, and the light was red, in the Theater-Podium bar, and only the little black cat in the corner watched and whispered through her purrs to the trees in the forest in which she thought she was, she said, look, although there is no river, and no human to cry next to her, here’s a willow with a female face, with long dark-red hair that falls onto stones like branches, a woman who forgot to dream but became a dream herself, forsaken by male touch and baby hugs, look, the cat said, there’s a woman almost taking off and leaving ground, rooting her hands deep into the clouds, but the cat was just a cat, and the forest did not listen, because there was no forest, and there was no ground, and the music stopped, and the willow was now asleep, with a little black blind kitten curled up at her feet, and the next performance, and the audience, they were nowhere to be found, and the willow’s voice was dreaming of a time when she used to sing each night, it was either opera or jazz, and the willow was young and voluptuous back then, she was nothing like a willow at all, and the willow’s voice fell asleep too, deep in her stomach, away from human sounds, behind the curtains, and never again was it to be found.

    Diana Radovan
  • Amen

    my mother says that god is not female nor male.
    i am not female nor male.
    so, in some ways, that makes me god.
    i realized that i do not need to look to the sky for god, but only to my genitals.
    and i pray.
    let us pray.

    True Lyons
  • The Unreliable Narrator

    The unreliable narrator turned up late.

    “You know what I’m like,” he said, by way of excuse.

    We nodded our heads unconfidently. Of course, no one actually did know what he was like.

    Mansour Chow
  • Kern

    I want to be shot by Kern
    his style – the less pornographic
    girls with their tits, in panties
    at home or outdoors
    on roller skates, brushing their teeth
    letting white foam spit, dribble, drip
    from tongues lips to sink, floor
    He could photograph my feet for
    fetish magazines,
    they are dainty I would offer ideas
    for series – girls with towels over
    their heads drying their hair
    girls eating cake. Icing, cream,
    jam, sprinkles elbows deep in
    the mess of it all

    Kat Franceska
  • The Cat Is Gone

    The cat is gone. One day already.
    The night is grim, the forest dark.
    I lean against a spruce’s bark,
    Afar I see the lights unsteady.

    The cat is gone. It’s all my fault.
    I thought that it would do him good
    To check out a new neighbourhood
    Now nature keeps the cat enthralled.

    The cat is gone. But I have hope
    That he will soon come back to me.
    His not returning home would be
    Disastrous. No, I couldn’t cope.

    The cat is back. I am delighted.
    He didn’t tell, where he has been,
    I didn’t want to make a scene.
    My state is happy, but benighted.

    Sabine Magnet
  • love awry

    never judge a book by its cover
    but do judge a lover
    by their books

    Luke Lewis
  • Myself and the Sad Clown

    When you’re drilling your mind for a little more gold,
    Ideas spilling from tangled-web old
    Memories catch the tails of today.
    The endless to-do’s, and making hay
    In case the sun shines on,
    Well hold on
    Just a little longer.

    Sad clown twitches sharp jokes that ached,
    Fragile nights, the ideas were half-baked
    Of a self-deprecating manner,
    That concealed all things and all manner
    Of sins.
    He dug within,
    So they could laugh a while.
    Clocked up mile upon mile
    Of the ties that are cut with righteousness of youth.
    It’s a long, twisted journey, the pursuit of truth.

    And freedom is only a state of mind,
    Stick with me here, don’t think me unkind
    When I say we spend a lifetime settling into a skin
    Get to know yourself, it’s all buried within.

    Myself and the sad clown tonight walk along
    A dark twisted road, the night is long.
    And we laugh to the aching and to the breaking,
    And sing to the spirit yet in the making.

    Kirstin Maguire
  • The Cucumber Plot

    I have a large knife in my hand
    and I’m not afraid
    to skin this mother
    to sliver away at the
    stiff upper lip of a
    toughened epidermis
    banish wrinkles, dents and prickly bits
    and behold it
    cleansed, stripped, unveiled…
    If you ask me again
    I will plainly chop
    the thing in two
    while I wonder what I could be

    This repast, the fourth of the day
    mentally diarised between
    broken blinds and fresh air
    changing light bulbs and toilet bleach
    interrupted by
    pencil shavings
    polka dancing
    a stubbed toe for you and an ice pack for me
    will be ready when it’s ready…
    If you ask me again
    I might lose my thread
    While I wonder what I am

    The uses of a cucumber?
    Well, it’s staggering
    With a whole one
    brought to room temperature
    there’s no guilty sniff of an affair
    grate it for tzatziki
    slice it into Pimms
    twist a piece to garnish
    baton lengths to dip
    pickle in a jar or two
    refresh tired eyes
    pack on shine
    pack on an allergic reaction
    like mine

    This repast, the fourth of the day
    mentally diarised between
    identity cravings and learning to share
    bathroom scum lines and out of reach
    interrupted by
    dead batteries
    a melody for you, a harmony for me
    will be ready, when its ready…
    I have a large knife in my hand
    and I’m not afraid
    to dice this mother
    expose jellied innards
    vital organs
    while I wonder what I was

    And when you’re ready
    I’ll see waves of laundry
    finally dry up
    breakfast and supper
    mute on Sunday
    the last marmite stain
    wiped from the wall
    that secret bogie stash cemented
    to your bedroom shelf
    I’ll post off to your house
    cucumber cool
    with a note that says, touché

    Anna Ghislena
  • Train to Cornwall

    Sailing on the thrum and steel,
    westward the silver, sure line eases.
    Each boxcar at a smooth delay,
    as voices in a choral round.

    In sliding frames fit for St.Ives
    a landscape airs its carousel:
    brushstrokes of woodland, gold-leaf sea,
    the sudden, muffled shock of tunnels
    with explosive horizon each end.

    Flying true, as pen to rule,
    surely we ride the veins of England;
    surely all other is reduced now to blots;
    surely all other is but busy-ness bleeding,
    bruising such moments as this.

    Joe Hedinger
  • Black Beach

    A Rachmaninoff whirl
    the wind and the waves
    and black puffins and a black beach
    and nothing between us and
    the south pole
    but this swirling soup.

    Let’s stay here
    and live in a cave
    and at night light a big fire
    and remind the rocks
    of where they came from.

    We can fish with the birds
    and roam with the horse
    and sing to the sea
    and wash in waterfalls.

    Feel the warmth of Basalt
    absorbing the sun
    Listen for ancestors in the wind
    and keep on the right side of trolls
    and never throw a stone.

    Joanne McLaughlin
  • 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