Jinny Fisher




The Scarf

This is the scarf
Miranda makes.
It is the scarf
that she knits
and knits
and knits
in strips
of colours
she picks
from the current
of wool
in the hospice
and that flows
from the chest
at the end
of her bed
down the stairs
through the hall
to the couch
in the lounge
where she sits
with her cat
by her side.
This is the scarf
that she stores
in a ball
that each year
she unrolls
over and
over and
over along
the landing
to measure
and log
her persistence
in knitting
in knitting.





Jinny Fisher is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist who began writing poems a few years ago. She lives in Somerset and is a member of Juncture 25 and Wells Fountain Poets. Magazine publications include The Interpreter’s House, Under the Radar, and Prole.

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Paul Smith




The Mattress Conspiracy


None of us saw it coming.  It was slow and subtle.  First, a lot of small stores went out of business.  We wouldn’t miss them.  They were tiny – nail salons, currency exchanges, party stores, boutiques, all of them located in strip malls.  Then the stores were vacant for a while.  Soon after that other stores popped up with names resembling each other – American Mattress, Mattress Firm, Sleepy’s, the Bedding Experts.  One by one, they populated our neighborhoods.  Then we noticed they were run by people we had never seen before.  They looked foreign, with narrow faces and eyes that converged on their noses like a pair of tight ends.  We couldn’t tell what country they came from, maybe somewhere in Southern Europe or Central Asia, where their countries’ names were hard to pronounce.  And we noticed that all the owners seemed to know each other.  We suspected they were looking for more real estate.

But we were wrong.

They had all the real estate they wanted.  It wasn’t about mattresses at all.

It was all about box springs.

The prices of box springs soared.  The mattresses were loss leaders.  Soon, mattresses were going for around a penny each, but these intruders had cornered the box spring market.  Box springs were being sold for thousands of dollars.  This is the way conspiracies start, with something simple that transmogrifies into another thing of complexity and popetus.

Who were these people?  Some said they were the computer hackers from China and Russia, a cabal of revolutionaries from one of those Asian countries people had forgotten, the heirs of the Romanov dynasty, friends of Archduke Ferdinand, the caliphate, hedge fund managers from offshore banks.  They started to gobble up everything.  And they did not stop at box springs, either.  Pretty soon they owned all the boxes and all the springs.  You couldn’t package anything unless you wanted to pay hundreds of dollars for a box.  Springs?  Forget it.  They owned all the springs that got made, including mainsprings on clocks and watches.  Now they controlled time itself, because nobody could tell time without a timepiece with a mainspring.

That is what finally did them in.  Without timepieces, nobody knew what time it was.  We all walked around dazed, wondering if we should go to bed and sleep.  We fell asleep everywhere, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, outside in parks, on the sidewalk.  We saw the folly of owning mattresses and box springs because it became comfortable and fashionable to sleep anywhere we felt like sleeping.  The conspiracy got crushed under its own weight.  The foreigners evaporated.  Nail salons came back.  Mattress prices stabilized.  So did the price for box springs.  The government, eager to show us it had control of the situation, established price controls on the mattresses and springs.  And anyone selling them had to be licensed by the Bureau of Sleep.   Along with price controls, the Bureau of Sleep mandated strict sleep hours, so that we now all get eight hours of sleep every night or we can be fined.

The government tried locating the conspirators, sending agents overseas to search the Caucasus, the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, and the Far East.  No one was ever found.

Since no one was found, the government told us the Mattress Conspiracy never really existed.  We didn’t believe it at first, but we grew to accept it, and finally it became law.

Then we went to sleep.


Paul Smith lives near Chicago with his wife Flavia, belongs to the Rockford Writers Guild and writes fiction & poetry.  He likes the bus and drinks Newcastle Brown Ale.  If you see him, buy him one.

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Patri Wright


It Starts with Her Awkward Hairline

the bit behind her ear, along the bone,
I accidentally on purpose stroke
as the comb starts to move freely. Her head
between my knees, a kiss on her lobe —
something she wouldn’t get in a salon —
and fingers that look for further lugs.
The part along her neck too, the transition
of neck and scalp, like beach and sea
where hairs grow upward. Once she
hid it from view, calling herself simian;
and now it’s a zone, one she says I made
for her, that wasn’t there before.
I kiss this too, following the teeth
and say: ‘Repeat: “I am beautiful.”’
She says: ‘You are beautiful.’ Still that’s
better than it was, as I work on her
one stage at a time. All that’s left now
is the style, and I start back with the comb,
fan out a fringe as she watches TV.
The filaments are the days we’ve got left.
Roots of silver I cover with cosmic blue.
And here an echo, almost unheard.
I did this for another. I was smaller.
We had an electric fire. She wore
rollers. And it was far from a chore,
rather utmost pleasure, untangling
strands until they flowed like rivers.
I still seem to know how much pressure
to apply, not to hurt a single nerve.


Patri Wright has been shortlisted for the 2015 Bridport Prize, and poems from his pamphlet Nullaby have been published in several magazines, including Agenda and Brittle Star. He is a Lecturer at The Open University and teaches Creative Writing.  Website: www.patrickiwright.co.uk

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M. G. Stephens



Missing Silverware

Phantoms annoy my memory palace
Late at night into early morning light,
Streeling through the halls like banshee, they sing
Dissonantly and claim to be me
Or my siblings or old friends and lovers,
Even to aping our gestures, taking
Our old dramas and monologues, twisting
Them around into new provocations.

In other venues in the memory
Palace, antique butlers and maids are dimmed
By senility, recalling nothing
Of past events in the ancient dining
Hall, claiming to have no memory of
The rococo world inside of these rooms.




M. G. Stephens is the author of nineteen books, most recently short poems in Occam’s Razor (2015). His works include the novel The Brooklyn Book of the Dead; the memoir Lost in Seoul; and the essay collection Green Dreams. The Brooklyn Rail is currently serializing his boxing novel Kid Coole over the next year.

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Emily Oldham





Love speaks in a manna-song,
one that God might try on

prophets. Don’t guess and tell,
it says. You stumble down and

through the gaping cave, giddy
with self-consciousness and

breathless ephemera. Don’t
ask, says Love. Don’t assume.

So you take nothing from the dark
when you flee, except your voice.




Emily Oldham is a 19 year-old poet from Wolverhampton. She is currently studying English at the University of Oxford. Her work has previously appeared in several literary magazines including Bare Fiction and Myths of the Near Future.

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Robin Houghton




Tying the bowline

Slipped back on itself through the first loop, the rope
forms a round window. You’re halfway in. Slick
as a snake charmer you guide your needle point

to pierce the eye, that tooth-shaped space, as words
unravel me until nothing is real: half-hitch, hangman,
hammock knot, and your unflinching fingers spread

to show your workings. Then comes the twist – like this,
then that, your shape-shift hands have me tongue-tied
to the end and again, and again I miss how you do it.





Robin Houghton has been widely published in magazines. She won the 2013 Hamish Canham Prize and the 2014 Stanza Competition. Pamphlet:  The Great Vowel Shift (Telltale Press, 2014). Blog: http://robinhoughtonpoetry.co.uk/ Twitter: @robinhoughton

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