Time for the Garden

by Lesley Burt, edited by Hannah Clarke

place on a sunlit stone pedestal

bang in the middle of lawns clipped to velvet


bewitch with scents of Belle de Crecy

dazzle with poppies, hollyhocks, dahlias


soothe with bees and birdsong surround

with warm walls against the winds


imagine time really is this shadow

that dials a series of markers at 2πr


nightfall releases it anyway to swallow

another whole day

Dune Heath

by Frances Wilde, edited by Hannah Clarke

Huge rodent skulls litter the landscape,

Turned, nose up,

Against the wind,

Scorning the waves,

With fungal growths feasting on

Their bodies.


Rustling crustily in the gelid wind,

The rattling bones

Stand for the padded past, yet

Sentiments of nostalgia

Will be covered

By the oncoming Dunes.


by Charlotte Baker, edited by Chandler Yang

Mr Hammond raps his fingers on the table. His nails have not been cut and make an irritating scratching noise on the plastic. A magistrate with a grey-flecked brown bob sits opposite, looking over the top of her glasses into Mr Hammond’s tired eyes. Two council members, an Environmental Safety Officer and neighbour Sarah Griffiths, 56, sit alongside. He states his case in well-pronounced but painfully slow speech.

‘The parrots emit what can only be described as primeval squawks,’ Sarah states, cutting off Mr Hammond mid-line and shaking her head. ‘At random intervals. It’s not fair on the rest of us.’

‘Would you describe them as joyful squawks, or sorrowful squawks?’ a council member questions Sarah, smiling at her from the end of the table.

‘I wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t say joyful, there are so many of them in there.’

‘We hear five hundred.’

Mr Hammond tries to clarify that the number is less than a quarter of that figure. Tabloid photos of Mr Hammond stood sullen, parrot in hand, outside the cottage he had called a home since he was first married flick through his head. He holds Rita, his prized Slender Billed Cockatoo, who rests on his bedside table at night and watches as he sleeps. The inflammatory taglines they had written underneath make his molars press together. But it could never get him too worked up, inventing lines like that used to be his living.

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by Sarah Sutton, edited by Betty Doyle


I guess it’s out of the blue

For you

But, for me, it was there

Inside  –

Biding its time, that


That something was wrong.


You were the extremity,

Held in the air

For too long.

The feeling had gone –

That’s what happens

When you don’t respond

Until the tingle is gone.  



Tears once fell,

Like autumn leaves,

For time to rake away.  

Now, there is nothing;

No tears,

Just numbness –

like frost-bitten fingers

that have lost their grip.



Like a post-it removed

after time, the glue

between me and you

lost cohesion. 

We shared stories,

but after time,

what would be left

to link us?


Perhaps memories,

these are mostly good;

how you made me

feel full of light,

like summer, but

coloured like a photo in the sun

once bright, they fade

and are replaced by what?

Reproductions are fake.


It was wrong of me

to try this –

We aren’t Lego


we just don’t click.


Maybe for a while,

but it is not enough.

What do we share now?


Beyond superficiality?



I don’t think I have a good enough answer.

The Weight of Deeds

by Warren Mortimer, edited by Rebecca Parkinson


I’ll tell you where I was on 9/11:

washed-up on the Great South Bay.

The ocean phlegmed back

famished wisps of tobacco,

like tarred seaweed.

The tin was absent

from my denim pocket.


Much later, I saw the towers faint,

bowing at the knees,

revived by television screens.

Heaving salt-water

from my stomach,

I lamented the loss

of my keys and wallet.


This place of yours, it resonates

with the New York suite

of childhood. A cityscape

of precedents: pre-teen, pre-terror.

I’d deride my mother’s name,

then wish her dead

for absolving me of cigarettes.


I turn to Kavanagh’s Epic;

To the fall of man,

from a sundered office in the heavens;

To the molars scattered on the concrete

like beads from an opal bracelet;

To the slug-trail of nerves

salivating from a cageless brain;

To the portrait viewed too often,

to allow revulsion.

Return of the Stranger

by Laura Saunders, edited by Betty Doyle


The moment I see him is like a slap in the face. I literally flinch back. I can’t take it in. This isn’t real; none of it can possibly be real. My mind is playing some cruel trick and someone greater out there is laughing. He doesn’t see me, immersed in a crowd of people in bright evening wear. The Great hall is vast in size but still feels overcrowded. Elaborate paintings cover the grand walls. An enormous delicate glass chandelier dangling from the high ceiling flashes reflections of faces in every direction. It gives the impression of even more lavishly dressed guests than the hall could probably contain. In a flash he could disappear in the sea of faces. An extensive amount of silver-service splattered tables creates a maze.   The scene around me becomes overwhelming at the best of times. So many people, so little in common. But every face becomes a blur in that moment of spotting such a familiar face. It’s like we are connected, drawn to each other in a time-transcending moment, linking the past and the present.

There’s chatter and laughter all around me but I can’t take anything in. It’s like in those films when something terrible is about to happen and everything slows down, voices deepen and then fade out and then BANG! Someone gets shot! I swear the shock of seeing him stood there is like a bullet straight through my heart, bouncing against my spine, lurching through my chest and suffocating my lungs.

I’ve thought I’d seen him before, lots of times. They say that’s what happens when you suddenly lose someone you love. Randomers in the street start to look like that person. A flash of brown shaggy hair and grey eyes and it could have been him. So many times I’d followed a guy across town, thinking it was Rupert,  and every time the pain of the realisation that it was just a look-alike gets stronger. I’d  stopped looking.

Yet this is not some similar-looking tall guy with Rupert’s shaggy hair and grey eyes. It can’t be but… That’s my Rupert. He’s too far away across the room, doesn’t seem to see me. I realise I haven’t even moved since my eyes fixed on him. Daniel turns to whisper in my ear but Rupert takes charge of my attention. I’m afraid to look away.  Five years and he’s hardly changed. What am I saying? Five years! He is visibly older, his hair is slightly shorter, soft laughter lines shape his cheeks but it’s still him. Five years! He should be dead! He was dead! Bloody hell, I buried him. Up until last year I visited his grave almost daily…..

“Elle, can you see Charlotte over there? Supposed to be on diet she says but I don’t see her holding back on those scones…”  Daniel sniggers and tucks  my hair behind my ear, stroking the side of my cheekbone. My face warms, bringing me out of my thoughts. I keep my eyes fixed on Rupert’s ghost, afraid that if I turn away, he’ll fade.

I force a muffled giggle in response, turning my head in Daniel’s direction but still keeping my eyes on the figure from my past.

‘Elle, love, you look gormless. Are you feeling ok?’ Daniel’s gentle touch turns my cheek so that I’m forced to gaze back at him.

‘I thought I saw someone I…used to know,’

Daniel, bless him, doesn’t understand the significance of this…why would he?

‘Why don’t we go and say hello then?’ He lowers his voice,

‘I’m getting sick of hearing about Marvin’s latest sports car deal.’

A sudden eruption of laughter comes from our left where Marvin and some other blokes are exchanging the posh man’s ‘manly story’. I look back behind me, scanning the many made-up faces, searching for a glimpse of shaggy hair again. A few seconds and then I catch him – yes it is still definitely him – my heart falters. Alive? How is this even possible? He looks apologetic as he excuses himself from conversation with an elderly lady, probably the Dowager of some other great fancy estate, who gushes and jokes in response, though I can’t hear any of what he has said. And he subtly makes his exit.

‘I need to pee actually Dan,’ I turn back to Daniel and squeeze his arm, smiling with as much honesty as I can muster. Daniel pulls a face.

‘Have fun powdering your nose then. He’ll have sold me a Porsche by the time you get back.’ He winks and I giggle before pulling myself away and attempting to wage through the many backless dresses and black tie tuxedos as discreetly as possible, palms sweaty with anticipation.

In the grand corridor, I catch a glimpse of myself in the gold framed, diamond encrusted, nonsensely-priced   mirror. Wine and nibbles, in fancy estates, small talk…really not my thing. I’m always afraid of slipping up in front of these people. Sooner or later,  Lady Hampston will work out that I have absolutely no aristocratic background whatsoever. I’m sure she’ll have something to say to Daniel then.  But this isn’t really Daniel’s thing either,  to be honest. He just fell into a high maintenance social circle at Oxford – who are not a bad bunch really – but host some awful parties. I’ve often thought that Charlotte and Marvin could do with a few cheap beers down them to knock the edge off.

Anyway, momentarily distracted by my I-am-obviously-not-rich-enough-for-this-type-of-party-appearance, I pull at my fake-silk skirt, rub away some slightly blotched mascara from the corner of my eye and take a deep breath, exhaling my fears.

There are plenty of doors along the corridor but they all lead to private parts of the house. A tall, muscular, clean shaven bloke stands at one end of the corridor like some kind of upper-class bouncer, guarding the rooms. I head for the only exit not prohibited – the balcony.

The large balcony overlooks a monster of a lake at Hampston Estate. I think it’s the only feature of the estate that actually looks pleasing. I’m not one for fuss but the view from the balcony is breath-taking. On the rare occasions where Daniel is allowed a ‘plus one’ to attend one of Lady Hampston’s get-togethers, I’ve often escaped to this spot to get away from all the etiquette. Sometimes Daniel and I both need the break from small talk. It was against this background of the sun settling behind the mountains – the last gasp of its orange rays breathing on the pink mirrored lake below – where Daniel first told me he loved me. Yes, we were at Hampston Estate of all places, but maybe that was the beauty of it. It was almost too natural that we would be sniggering about how stressed the butler had looked when Charlotte had scolded him for offering her a cocktail sausage when didn’t he know she had become a vegetarian and was very sensitive and vulnerable at the time. But yeah, it was this balcony and it was Daniel. ‘I love you’ – so real and natural, it fell out among his giggling.

As I stand here now, I wonder if the significance of this balcony will change tonight, if, alive as he so clearly seems to be, Rupert might step back into my life again. A draft of cold air suddenly clings to my skin and an all too familiar voice breathes,

‘Hello Elle.’

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Sex Lives of the Potato Men

by Walker Zupp, edited by Rebecca Parkinson


‘I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time,’

I said half-soaked outside the pub. This time

It was true but truth being what it is,

It came at the end of a day

When workers roam in their weak-kneed way

And there is nothing more good to say

To anything, anyone; hers or his,


Mine or theirs: a halfhearted reception

To any feeling made flesh; collections

Of people who all feel second to none,

Making things up as they go. Lies

Tell so well; fact paralyzed

Undoubtedly, it all flies

When they pull the blanket over the sun.


And inevitably amongst laughter

There is anger and hate, moments after

I shut the fuck up – not at my money

Or the hatred I have for twats

In hats or anything like that,

But at the hopeless end, all sat

Inside rooms. Nothing remotely funny


At all – paper in the bin.

That photograph on the wall.