Laura Rimmer




My First-Born

When my first-born was formed in my womb,
she called up to me for seven long weeks
but I didn’t listen

’til the tiredness brought me down.
Four tests I took, unseeing each pair of parallel lines,
’til I was eating wine gums

for breakfast, dinner, and tea.
She danced a jig for my birthday,
and when I was building her cot –

eight months gone – she cheered me on,
even as I struggled to keep it together.
We watched Doctors

curled up in the sun, settling into each other,
so much so she extended her stay by twelve days.
She was sucked out of me, this limpet,

blue-lipped from the tightly-wound cord,
and the paediatrician said, ‘You were lucky.’
She studied my face,

her velvet head bloodied and smelling of home,
and I studied her face for the first time.
My stomach was slack

and I felt like I’d lost her, but here she was, winking at me.
So I took her home to watch Doctors,
and then we curled up in the sun.



Laura Rimmer was born in Liverpool but now lives in rural Scotland where she works as a writer, editor, and women’s sector volunteer. She has a Master’s in scriptwriting. She is published in the forthcoming Southlight magazine. She tweets @laurarimmer.

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John Grey




Looking in on a Six Year Old

It’s that time again.
The time to look into the room.
The door’s cracked open slightly
but I nudge the entrance slightly wider,
make width enough for my eyes.

The bed is dark.
Wallpaper pixies are darker still.
A night light makes a little of that blackness, yellow –
where hair meets pillow,
where cheeks burrow down for the night.

I’ve been learning that face for six years
but her sleep is a different lesson,
followed by a test
in how I handle
this early preview of my letting go.

I do well enough to return the door
to its original position.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and Roanoke Review.

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Helen Rye on National Flash-Fiction Day



Flat Pack

He lays the pieces out on the rug in Euclidian point order.  She spreads the instructions flat among toast crumbs. Stray curls of butter slick the paper down.
He fixes A to B to C to D, fourteen-and-three-quarter Allen key revolutions each one – not too tight, not too loose. She locates locking pin E in cylinder nut F, by hand, to assemble the corner pieces, times four.
He readjusts the corner pieces, times four, by two-and-one-eighth millimetres. Attaches plate G with a spigot wrench.
She sets the thing upright. It pivots sideways with arboreal grace.

They regard bracket H.

He searches for it in the diagram. She turns the bracket upside down, holds it up and gazes through it at the thing, which has come to rest on the rug in a broadly rhomboid shape.
He takes it and applies the principles of Newtonian mechanics with a claw hammer.
She quotes Nietzsche, obliquely, and mostly to herself.
He constructs rivets from bits of old jewellery and sundry other items it would be ridiculous to keep, arc-welds the top splint to the side-brace using the bracket as a splice grip.
She turns the thing to the light. It is crippled, and limps like a spavined horse. She says, ‘It would be kinder to kill it.’

He consults quantum mechanics, adjusting the thing’s relative relativity with harmonics, saws the molecular weight of an angel dancing on a point of semantics off the end of each leg, abrading the angles with a pipe laser. Forces it to stand, though anyone, anyone could see it would be better to let it fall.
She pours a six-stanza poem into the dust. Gets up by herself and steps to the edge of them, and he tries to catch her, though anyone, anyone could see it would be better to let her go.



Helen Rye lives in Norwich, UK. She has won the Bath Flash Fiction Award, the Reflex Fiction contest and third place in the 2018 Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have been nominated for Best Small Fictions and the Pushcart Prize, and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. She is a submissions editor for SmokeLong Quarterly and a prose editor for Lighthouse Literary Journal, and she helps out from time to time at Ellipsis Zine and TSS Publishing.  Website twitter: @helenrye



Note: Earlier versions of this flash were shortlisted for the Bridport Flash prize and  longlisted for last year’s Mslexia Flash Competition.

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Melanie Branton





Death lives on a hillside
with a dirty virgin
an angel with her face smashed in
a baby who is “safe with Jesus”
an anchor wrapped in a chain
as if Hope would escape if it wasn’t bolted down
overhead the woods
where you can get lost
the ivy-coloured woods
the breakneck stony-pathed woods



Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from North Somerset with two published collections: Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017). Her work has appeared in journals including Ink, Sweat & Tears, Bare Fiction, The Frogmore Papers, Atrium and London Grip. Blog:


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Luigi Coppola




Some Streets

Some streets have doors that don’t open
Some streets have curbs waiting to be bitten
Some streets have curtains to hide the inside
Some streets have cars with scratches on every side
Some streets have houses that cast no shadows
Some streets have faces lined with sorrows
Some streets have streetlights that don’t work for miles
Some streets have faces that can’t seem to smile
Some streets have corners for every prostitute
Some streets have benches for beds for the destitute
Some streets have potholes that will break both your feet
Some streets have nowhere for people to meet
Some streets have bus stops without the right timetables
Some streets have shoes tangled in cables
Some streets have chimneys without any smoke
Some streets have stumps where their used to be oaks
Some streets have drains too mucky to be flowing
Some streets have bins that are always overflowing
Some streets have engines revving all night
Some streets have balloons popping mid-flight
Some streets have gutters filled to the brim
Some streets have fences with spikes round the rim
Some streets have posh ends where the grass is greener
Some streets have poor ends where the grass smells stronger
Some streets have graffiti telling me ‘Paul’s a wanker’
Some streets have fly tipping that couldn’t be ranker
Some streets have blind people listening to TV
Some streets have deaf people watching TV
Some streets have old men waving at school girls
Some streets have swine that have swallowed the pearls
Some streets have screaming at 2am in the morning
Some streets have clubs that are so so boring
Some streets have reports that put them on someone’s list
Some streets have neighbours that seem really really nice but are really really racist
Some streets have screens reflecting on dry eyes
Some streets have suns that set but never rise
Some streets have moons that are always half full
Some streets have pubs with hardly anyone in them all
Some streets have parks with signs that say ‘Keep Off’
Some streets have Vladivar bottles instead Smirnoff
Some streets have White Lightning instead of Magner’s
Some streets have Wiggles songs instead of Wagner’s
Some streets have cafés with hygiene ratings of one
Some streets have gunshots to duck or run from
Some streets have closed signs on the local bar
Some streets have pigeon shits on every car
Some streets have dog shit everywhere and dog’s always barking
Some streets have cat shit everywhere and cat’s always screeching
Some streets have fox shit everywhere and fox’s always fucking
Some streets have shoeless feet covered in sores
Some streets have diseases without any cures
Some streets have children up against doors
Some streets have husbands settling scores
Some streets have the fallen holding onto floors
Some streets have trails of sweat leaking from pores
Some streets have breakings of hundreds of laws
Some streets have houses fighting endless, pointless, no-win wars
That’s some streets – now tell me about yours



Luigi Coppola (  teaches and writes in London, England. Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize twice, he appeared in the Worple Press anthology The Tree Line and publications include Acumen, The Frogmore Papers, Iota, Magma, Orbis, Neon, Rattle, The Rialto, THE SHOp and Snakeskin.

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Ahab Hamza




Number Systems

I use numbers
and a yes/no system to entertain myself
it is not nice
although I’m not really looking for approval
Ones to fours need not apply
a five will need a visa
sixes have the right to work
sevens have residency
eights, nines and tens highly skilled
says penis at the border
It’s retarded,
leading nowhere, it does a lot more harm than good.
Does it really?
My imagination is no concern of yours



Ahab Hamza was born in Birkenhead on 27th November 1993. He has been featured in several publications the most notable of which was The Recusant‘s The Robin Hood Book anthology. He was also shortlisted for the 2012 erbacce prize for poetry. He currently resides in South London where he is now a mathematics teacher.



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Sarah Davies




 European Medieval History

Looking up, it seemed
every fear was given great stone wings

I told someone once, this was a spacecraft
in the gothic style,

I told someone else it was a haunted house,
in the best sense – spooked , frequented

by artists, craftsmen, worshippers,
the middlemen in dress, the watchers through the camera,

even that girl with rucksack,  anchoring her mother,
diehard nonbeliever, with a small prayer, candle

History confuses us with flammable thinking,
strange old gossip, flickering philosophy,
everything obscure and in bird latin

What’s the form for a church on fire?
How do you petition the owner for rain?



Sarah Davies was raised in Merseyside and has lived in Scotland and Bedfordshire. She has been published in magazines such as Magma, The Rialto, Iota, Obsessed with Pipework, Stride and Blue Nib, among others. Currently working on her first pamphlet.

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