Vote for Your IS&T Pick of the Month for June 2019

This month our shortlist embraces everything from Death to DIY. Melanie Branton exposes the underbelly in ‘Cemetery’ while the Hell that is flat pack furniture has made its way into Helen Rye‘s excellent and beautifully constructed (!) short story – published on National Flash Fiction Day – and Arji Manuelpillai‘s fine and melancholy poem. On the way we meet Sally Michaelson‘s heartbreaking ‘Night Raider’ and experience an exhilarating journey or two with Tom Bennett ‘Travelling Light’ and Colin Crewdson on ‘The Road to Kars’!

All six works have been chosen by Helen or Kate or received the most attention on social media. They can be found below or by clicking on ‘Vote for your June 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting is now closed. The winner will be announced at 6pm on Friday 19th July.

The winner each month will be sent a £10 book giftcard or, if preferred, a donation of the same amount will be made to a chosen charity. In the event of the winner being from outside the UK mainland, we will make every effort to provide a reasonable alternative. All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. (‘Frequency Violet’ by Kate Edwards was a Pick of the Month for November 2017 and was Highly Commended by the 2018 judges. It features in The Forward Book of Poetry 2019.)

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Colin Crewdson




The Road to Kars

Mevlana, or Rumi, Sufi poet and mystic, 1207-1273 spent much of his life in Turkey,
where his tomb is still revered. Mevlana’s poems are also set to music.

We’ve tried every trick.
Gathered around the guts, black tubing,
glistening containers of mystery:
the engine won’t run, won’t

pull its busload of passengers
up the pass any further.
Choked, grit in its fuel
dust in its filters, fatigue in its heart.

There is no wind,
no movement, one voice.
in the solitude of emptiness, in the quiet
of eternity…

The air is eviscerated,
too weak to hold life:
the mountains are folded corpses, bent
and yellow, racked up

towards a plain blue sepulchre.
The sun, fat with heat in the lowlands,
is thin as a blade in these heights,
sharpening  the linocut shadows.

The portly singer in his white shirt
croons, beseeches, commands,
ends with a flourish of prayer beads:
he is the Seeker and the Sought, the Beginning and the Destination…

We slump back into our sweat-damp seats.
The bus roars off
on its way up to Kars,
Mevlana’s joy in its pistons.




Colin Crewdson (mostly retired)  lives in Devon, England. He spends most of his waking hours trying to keep a puppy from wrecking the vegetable garden.

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Sally Michaelson





Night Raider

Creeping down at night
to pillage the larder
I am my own ghost on the stairs

searching  for Digestive biscuits,
pungent oranges, hard cheese

so I can sink in my teeth,
leave a trail of crumbs,
a waft of citrus.

Mum will find stigmata of me eating
but  she will never see me eat.

Her cauldron of chicken soup
on the stone slab
makes me retch,

the skating-rink of fat
will take an hour to melt

when she heats it up
for Shabbos dinner

my skeleton as centerpiece.




Sally Michaelson is a recently retired Conference Interpreter living in Brussels. Her poems have been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Lighthouse, Algebra of Owls, The Bangor Literary Journal, Squawk Back, Amethyst, and The Lake.


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Arji Manuelpillai




an IKEA flat pack shelving unit

I am following you   up the aisle   along the checkout
beside you as you drive    it’s in the back     bubble wrapped
I’m tearing the box     popping bags of nuts and bolts    but
really i am admiring the neighbour’s washing line      you
finger the instructions     sort the wood by size    I’m knee
bound looking for a screw below the fridge   you’re building
I’m carrying things    putting things down   you’re building
till we argue    I say ‘I don’t care anyway’ and storm off    it
leans like a man about to jump to his death      afterwards we
watch a film    as the sex scene creeps in     we fall to library
silence   your eyes look anywhere but at me   like I’m your
dog    shitting    we cannot find the position our fingers used
to fit    so I compliment our IKEA shelving unit    my eyes
skirt beyond the slanting base    that night I dream we are
standing in the pouring rain    pretending not to get wet


Arji Manuelpillai: I’m a poet and educator in London. Some people like my poems those people include Rialto, Prole,  Lighthouse Journal and Cannon’s Mouth. I have also been shortlisted for Live Canon Prize and The Robert Graves Prize and finally i am a Jerwood Arvon mentee currently.


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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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Tom Bennett




Travelling Light

A balloon scuds through the train
an ‘L’ it is or is it a ‘7’? Evasive
though its wake is empty of pursuit
and the door gives way courteously.

In the second carriage a class
of children who gorge hard on toffee,
their waddle the product of a tight-laced boot
their flannel shorts a competition of kites.

In the third two entangled amours
soak themselves in saccharine red wines,
and remark upon the odd anatomy of the other’s ear:
the buy alprazolam pills online softness where the cartilage should be.

A sharp halt rocks these realities,
leaving bags topsy-turvy and a glass in smithereens,
awakening a wizened conductor
clutching the one string of a balloon shaped ‘0’.

Tom Bennett (23) studied English at Durham University for his undergraduate, before doing an MPhil in American Literature at Cambridge. He is currently teaching English in Spain and will start a PhD on Women and Maximalism in American literature this October.

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