Tobi Alfier




Some Neighbors Refuse to Become Words

Old Smoky came home last night.
We hadn’t seen her in days.
Standing in our front window,
we could watch their big screen TV
across the street—pretty sure
that porn at 65 inches wouldn’t lure
no one home for nothin’.

But there she finally was.
Her dime store perfume
cutting through the odor
of sticky-floored bookstore bullshit,
liars getting rolls of quarters, and tissues, for 15 seconds
of dirty feet and eyes rolling toward heaven,
her husband getting it all at home.

Bitterness fights a soldier’s war with beauty.
We know she knows if she stays,
she’s going down with the ship.
We see her, but we don’t know her,
we can hear the click of her metallic Zippo lighter
but we can’t hear her beg for anyone’s mercy.

He drinks himself into an early sleep.
She puts on a ball game and a peignoir
the violet of the vanishing sky.
The sadness of her wanderer’s face is clear,
just before the curtains fall. We feel
voyeuristic, dirty, and very very lucky.



Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee.  Current chapbooks are The Coincidence of Castles from Glass Lyre Press, Romance and Rust from Blue Horse Press, and Down Anstruther Way (Scotland poems) from FutureCycle Press. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (

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Thomas McColl



Look at That!

‘Look at that!
a top hat on a tea pot,’
you shout,
as we stop just a little too close
to a china display in the shop
and, with a swipe of your hand,
you make a fat pot-headed Victorian gentleman
involuntarily doff his hat,
and a second later,
you realise why he doesn’t do that –
even though he’s Victorian
and you’re a lady
(albeit a little madam) –
when his hat
(which, foolishly,
he’d had made
out of posh china
rather than plush silk)
smashes into pieces on the floor.

And while you sob and sulk at the realisation,
I pay the bill for the damage,
while keeping an eye out,
as I’m carrying you,
that you don’t knock any
of the many
ornate objects
crowded round the till,
but instead your damned dinky destructive digit
starts prodding the top of my face,
and my invisible top hat
(which, foolishly,
I’d had made out of frayed nerves
rather than woven silk)
is once more pushed to the edge,
and once more
(just about)
remains in place.


Thomas McColl lives in London, and has had poems published in Envoi, Iota, Prole, Incubator Journal and previously in IS&T. His first full collection, Being With Me Will Help You Learn, is available from Listen Softly London Press.

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Judi Walsh for National Flash Fiction Day



All Events Must Have Rules


There are birds nesting in the roof of the porch. I don’t know what type of birds they are but they judge us for being young and inexperienced. Today I am not here for an official visit, and the officials would haul me in if they knew. On Sundays we sit in lines, reciting lines. On Sundays there are only two ways to look- ahead or down. But every other day we run in circles, playing kiss-chase. Some of us run straight over the graves without caring, but some of us jump at the last minute. Some of us are playing, but we are never really part of the game.





Judi Walsh started writing short fiction in 2012. Her work has been listed for several awards, including the Salt Flash Fiction Prize 2012, National Flash Fiction Micro Competition 2016 and the Bath Flash Fiction and Novella-In-Flash awards 2017.


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Sharon Phillips




Imagine that you’re sitting
on the edge of your bed.
Perhaps you’re shaving your legs.
And you see that the floor
is covered with dust.

Wherever you look there’s dust
and the longer you look
the more dust there is
but you do not fetch
the hoover or dustpan

because your father has just died
so you sit on the edge of your bed
look at the floor and think
that you might stay there
counting the motes of dust.

Imagine that you’re sitting
on the edge of your bed.
You remember your father’s arms
brown against the white sheets,
the dry scrape of his breath

and you are lost
in the uncountable
spaces of grief



Sharon Phillips retired from a career in education in 2015 and started to write poems and short stories again, after a break of forty years. She lives in Dorset with her husband, two cats and two dogs and is currently doing an MA in creative writing.  Sharon’s poems have been published in Snakeskin and Three Drops from the Cauldron, and on Algebra of Owls and Amaryllis.

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Peter Eustace





These words, little more than trinkets, piffle,
Trade in counterfeits with the soul
(Should there be one).
They stack loose change in separate piles
Hoping they might add up one day
To sums almost enough to pay
A bigger bill. A shambles, bric-à-brac,
Surreptitiously changing meanings

As time plunders and loots along
Its gaudy way, hooting from start to finish.
They strut, preposterously, gasp, grunt
And grapple with approximations
Stuffed into boxes that are too small
Or wallow in shallow waters
Or clatter against the bars of mindless cages.
Simpletons, yet our only hope.

An occasional monument mutters and natters
In memory’s swamps. Words are alligators,
Prowling semi-submerged among
Neurons’ mangrove roots, dense, impenetrable,
Repetitive, tarnished, unclear.
Some creatures learn their way around
Among the gaps, the misunderstandings,
Throwing words at the page

Hoping someone will catch the re-bound
And pass them on and even help them
Come home again with a new suit of clothes,
Walking sticks, walking frames, wheelchairs,
Provided the sparkle still glimmers there.
I tinker with the search engine.
It cranks up sometimes, spluttering, coughing.
It takes me places, like somewhere and nowhere.

Peter Eustace has published two books of poems in English and Italian (Vistas, 2006, and Weathering, 2010) and an English-only pamphlet (Brink, 2009) with erbacce press, Liverpool. He has been a guest at the Valpolicella, Verona, Monte Baldo and Nogara festivals (Italy), as well as the Small Press Day/10th anniversary of the UNESCO World Academy of Poetry, Verona. He was the featured poet in issue 45 of erbacce magazine (June 2016). Other poems have appeared on-line and in print (Ink, Sweat and Tears and Equinox). Two of his poems opened the Carrillon Ten Forward anthology. He will be one of the selected 6 invited poets in issue 50 of erbacce.

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Julie Sampson




As we climbed the slope

we’ve followed the route of the old stone wall
dappled light’s playing tricks of blue on bells
then shaping and sharing our way
as it shades upwards over cobbled-path’s
curves; a scatter of white flowers
lines the path, as shattered bone.

Just right of the lych-gate
at  the summit of long Pilgrim’s Avenue
below the site of Okehampton’s Saxon church,
there’s the black-hole of a badger’s set
and its over-stitched white garlic spread.
We’ve stumbled on a place of crossings.
Family labyrinths are running beneath and across
this graveyard’s Styx. Badger is Charon,
grave plunderer, under-
ground ferryman.

Other lives, signs of roots’ growth rituals
spread, like lichen
on our Harris slab.
Stones have toppled; one
is ours; she’s covered with
pretty stitchwort, pennywort,
creeping moss.

In the undergrowth beside the set
where badger cubs sleep
the genetic threads of family
weave with the thriving microbial community –
skeletons’ hosting
moles, earthworms –
delicate the little-springtail.

i.m. Richard Harris & Jane Harris-Sprague


Julie Sampson‘s poetry has been widely published and placed in competitions. Edited Mary Lady Chudleigh; Selected Poems (Shearsman, 2009); collection, Tessitura (Shearsman, 2014). Both from Amazon. Non-fiction MS., ‘Women Writers in the Devon Landscape’, shortlisted for The Impress Prize, 2015.

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