by Jessie Carbutt

Nervous flickering, wavering chance

blow and leave it, or leave to dance.

Carefully sigh; tempt more flames to catch.

Or snap it all out, let them go black.



You could use it- burn old photographs,

or light up from dark, memories past.

And with those old smiles, fade them to ash,

or use that soft light, lead their words back.



Without thought you’ll burn those you love,

but hold the heat close, you’ll warm them up.

Ignite each birthday on candle tips

or swiftly steal a breath, step back,

to seal a wish within the wax.



Smother the ash from your cigarette

Force their voice down into hopeless gloom

choked and smothered within smoke fumes.

Or flick your wrist in this black construct,

lift them in light of matches you struck.



Kiss the fire, and stamp it out,

Leave them cold, to deal without.

You kindle flames that rip them apart

plunging the demons blind in the dark.

Sweet Dreams

by Claire Jefferson

IMG_1468From the ruck of her moonstuck raft
she  d a b b l e s  in fantasy,
conjures her folded-desires into
the unbound wings of dreamers.

Not for her the breathy s i g h of angels,
hers are rebel wings } { wings to ruffle feathers
to fly in the face of the common place,
the  jam-on-Sunday-stale-bread  pace.

to  s o a r  over land-locked-and-keyed lubbers,
steal the silver light from the lover’s  m o o n.

She’s in cahoots with plume-hushed owls,
plunders bliss with plum-soft nightjars,
until the night begins to roil and foam –
she stirs the stars with a frozen spoon.

In the thick of it comes the wake-up call,
the stalling beat of the Icarus fall –

she’s pitched like a pit into thick-set day.




by Walker Zupp

I’m looking at seagulls from my room picking at dead things
On the ground.
I see dogs licking their arse, the farmer’s car coming around

The corner. He’s going home for a good shag. I doubt
He’s got joint
Problems. Clouds – I can’t see anything else. I think that’s the point

Nothing here, in a blink or a look – a casual glance at
The voters
And their convergence on silence by wet fields and nooks. Notice

Their failures; that’s what weighs them down; ever – present earmarks
Which put wise
And pitch dreams back. At first, you can’t see then;highways, sheepish cries

For help block the bleak view. You look around – perhaps being
Alone is
Worth more than happiness. It fogs the thickened window; blocking

That picket fence but bloating common sense, somehow: A sense
We all know
But are too afraid to try when we find ourselves without friends

Or mirrors.

The madness of Valentines Day lies in the vanity
Of love in
The making; all those smiles on crutches, which tumble in

To the dead of night like rain. That is where we live – in a
State or sound,
Hoping that warm hands will wait for us – not the other way ’round.

What weighs me down?

Empire State of Love

by Cristina Marongiu

One drop of truth on a peak of symbols and virtues,

that’s how she saw from afar the biggest building,

in the big city of flashes and promises.


She, a well of emotional intents, a wet poem and a scarf in her hand,

valued it differently, while rushing in her own movie

to meet reality – him, or thirty years of awaiting destiny,

nothing to equal such feeling,

she was protecting with all her being,

running, pacing, waiting, reaching out towards a spot

his veracity to unfurl,

felt once somewhere in another fate,

a magic she was trying to comprehend

on that platform of lights

like a big screen of romance,

and the sensuous silence would define

the ritual of hearts.


“Reality is not made of dreams until you make them real”,

she kept remembering a quote

yet, always positive, like a relentless soldier of love,

sometimes tired of solving the world

with only a few values of gold.

“A long time ago..”, she started in whispers,

with delicate smiles and dewy eyes,

a story unveiled before

about a vision and a little girl

of the same scene she was just living,

déjà vu made out of truth and sheer significances,

bejewelled with moments of awe and beauty,

kept secret for decades, shared only with him,

with an enthusiasm of genuine pulses,

which she kept taming

not to spoil the maturity of such innocent revealing.


“Let’s go, it’s getting dark. You don’t want to miss the Central Park”,

the only Happy End he could append

to a story with no end,

where a rhapsodic scene was honed by prosaic accessories,

needed to keep a balance with reality.


They left from the top of the glow

to descend in the mundane flow

which was more simple to behold,

his hand holding on tight a wet poem, a scarf and a gentle life,

from now on in his path

to cherish and never let go

of what was made for him with unconditional faith;

she, happy and confused, followed his steps

on long streets with no name,

where chocolate mingled with mangos and caramel,

on broad avenues of glimmering stars,

where fame and passers-by swarmed for wonders to find.


It was only late at night,

while she was conceiving dreams to better find the sun,

that he scribbled down on a scrap of paper in her bag

And he hid it with the hope

that she would find it years afterwards

only to confirm in facts

the essence of what they have always been about

from the moment of their “hi” to the depths of their sighs

shared heart to heart

to patch cracks of haunting past or present in rush,

no matter the people, regardless the seasons,

they had been and still remain

a one-of-a-kind braid entwined with precious details,

or just one drop of truth

out of a peak of symbols and virtues.


Bed Time Story

by Rebecca Freeman

I’m surrounded by shelves of books in the library. In my desk drawer though, just underneath some of my folders, is where I keep my favourite book ‘The Wizard of Oz’. It doesn’t belong to this silent building, it was given to me as a birthday present when I was three, and my dad read it to me most nights before I went to sleep. It was my favourite film too, and still is. Each night, he’d bring me a glass of milk, tuck me up in my 101 Dalmatians quilt cover, make sure that my little pink bear that he won for me was tucked in next to me, then he’d sit at the edge of the bed, open the book, and begin to read. He pronounced every word with so much emphasis; he could’ve made a TV guide sound interesting. It was just us, and as busy as he always was, he’d always make time for a bed time story.

I’m pretty sure that over the years, he’d learned the story by heart- I noticed how sometimes he’d say paragraphs without actually reading them. I’d glance at the pictures on the page, visualised myself dancing along that yellow brick road with Dorothy, the Tin man, Scarecrow and Lion, wearing those sparkling ruby slippers. Then, dad would kiss me on my forehead, say ‘sweet dreams Lucy’ and then ‘don’t let the bed bugs bite.’ He’d place the book on my bedside cabinet. Just before he left my bedroom, he’d close my curtains, hiding the purpled-dusk sky and soon I’d fall asleep. As time flew I kept telling him that I’d grown too old for stories, so- thus ‘The Wizard of Oz’ collected dust on my bookshelf- it almost got thrown out with some Disney books that we’d given away to charity, but that book reminded me of dad and how he used to be- so I kept it.

It’s the end of my shift now, I leave the library and I get into my car, the book sleeps on one of the back seats as I drive to visit dad. As I step into the entrance of the home, a nurse directs me to his room where he is sat at his table reading todays paper, with a plate of chocolate digestive biscuits and a tea next to him. ‘Your story tellers here’ one of the nurses is smiling. She has a chair ready for me to sit on, like she always does. I sit beside him. He looks at me and gives me an absent-eyed look through those worn-out eyes of his.

‘Hello, I’m Lucy’ I say,

‘Oh hi, I’m George’ he replies.

He gives me the smile he used to give me when I got all of my spellings right at school. He then asks ‘so what book is it?’

I hold it up.

‘I think I’ve heard of that one’ he tells me, and then asks ‘would you like a biscuit?’

I nod, pick one up and bite into it. He smiles at me as I open the first page of the book, he listens intently as I read our favourite story.



by Rebecca Freeman

The lemon-soaked sun is peering through the frothy clouds. Rachel and I are eating vegetable soup in the garden, just outside our sweet little tower. Rachel is in her favourite peach-coloured sundress; her head is covered with thick golden locks of unscathed hair. ‘Oh, please take me to the Lake’ she begs, as she sips some of our freshly squeezed lemonade, she wants to go there for her eighteenth birthday. ‘For the last time…no’ I reply, ‘I’m sorry sweetie, but the world outside our sweet little cottage is dreadful. Stay here and be happy.’ I keep us hidden here, away from the ugliness of the woods and people. She doesn’t know what lingers out there, but I do.

Rachel, who is in a strop because I won’t take her to see the Lanterns (or, ‘Stars’ as she calls them) slams her spoon in her soup bowl, picks up her rag-doll and runs back into the tower, probably to play with the doll’s house I made her last year.

Moonlight Lake was once a beautiful place when I was little. It was decorated with old-fashioned straw-roofed cottages, beautiful meadows of flowers, and at midnight, once a week, they set off lanterns into the sky to light up the village; auburn glimmers rose into the atmosphere. I once kissed a boy there in my teens.  I’m gazing into the woodland of gloomy trees beyond me, hands pressed against my head, attempting to get rid of the memories. But they won’t vanish.

I was so stupid- I fell in-love. We’d keep meeting at the lake, went for picnics, sat in the treehouse when it rained, slept in lantern-lit tents, we stripped to just skin. His vine-green eyes and his stubble turned me crazy, we argued, we made up, he made me teary-eyed, we broke up, needed our own space, got back together, but I then caught him lip-locked with a girl in red. Moonlight Lake’s sky turned indigo with dusk, I took him to the woods, blinded him with thorns, and left his unmoving-bones to rot with the others. He tainted me. I keep telling my darling Rachel never to leave here, the tire-swing, the hop-scotch, and the fairy-tales I read her at night. ‘Stay a child’ I keep saying to her. It’s better this way.




A Father and Son

by Sam Heslop-George

The scene was thus: a hot sun upon a Porsche as it raced down a road. At the helm, a man, wearing black jeans and black shirt. On his wrist, a leather band; across his face, sunglasses. This man was a writer of acclaim, and in his past few days of writing, he had drunk enough whisky to stun a horse. He intended to do so again that night.

He had been like this for two decades, or more. He was a hedonist, and thus believed life’s questions and troubles could be ignored, hidden beneath revelry; naturally, one did not have to confront harshness if one was drunk, or stoned, or in the front seat of a Porsche.

Ingrained in the psyche of most men and women was an image: a male; independent, impulsive; sleek of looks, powerful of build… A God. A God amongst mortals. With one hand holding the wheel and the other resting outside nonchalantly, here was a man becoming of such an image.

To be such a man! As he drove, he reached his hand from outside the car to his breast pocket, for his smokes. He took out the packet, slipped out a single cigarette, and placed the packet back into his pocket.

This small feat… legendary. In his mouth he put the cigarette, lit, and blew out a cloud – quickly whipped by the wind, aside and away. All this he did with single hand on the wheel and firm eyes on the distance. The distance was hot and concrete, and the God pushed toward it.

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