It comes around so quickly, this voting business. But it really is a very nice way to recognise some of our writers and poets and we appreciate you coming back to the voting booth again and again.
We’ve a largely softer tone this time, appropriate for the month of Love and we’ve even included Nik Perring’s flash fiction from Valentine’s Day. So revisit his story and have a look at the poems from Roz Goddard, Ian Heffernan, Moray Sanders, Akeredolu Tope and Miranda Yates. These shortlisted works can be found below (or see the ‘Vote for your Pick of the Month for February 2017’ in the Categories list to your right on the screen)
They have been chosen by Helen and Kate or received the most attention on social media.
Voting is now closed.
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.Read More
Steady My Emotion
Steady my emotion
Like the ocean on a stary night
Like a tattered kite
In the breeze
Steady my emotion
Let me be led into
empty space filled with love
Let ocean of white blood snake out from my
Chest through cupid pierced holes
Steady my emotion with fest
hoisted by Hector on the sea to troy
and let even his gaze fix me to my voyage
Steady my emotion
With the sonorous vocal of my minstrel
Let the villes and hills answer his call
The meadows to their heels to heed
Steady my emotion as the spring
Effortlessly galloping down willing cracks and creeks
Steady my emotion like the sun ignoring man’s plea
Rolling out ages and seasons
Let us run not against the sun
For no man prevails at its expense
Akeredolu Tope obtained his bachelor’s degree in English department for Adekunle Ajasin university Akungba Akoko Ondo state. He is an English language instructor and a socio literary critic.Read More
The damp that squats in gritstone hearts of two-bed terraces.
The stumble of rooftops polished dark as funeral brogues.
The promiscuity of green, having its way with every crack
and hole, every startled moss that punks from rock and stump.
And the mushrooms, stained and freckled uglies
sacking off school to lurk in woodland, to squat on tree trunks;
and the river’s soft bloat; a run off of the great original swell
for adventure, for deep zephyr-lunged and salty elsewhere.
Then the clods and clumps and thickets in racing, office and tea,
sap and dogged hunter, pale myrtle and spotty verdigris.
The rotten luck that sets in for good, the fool’s errands
through the dank and drear; the endless lessons in renewal.
And the lichens that attach themselves to lonely places,
unworldly vagrants born of thin air and exposure.
The let-down of kindling giving like Jaffa cakes.
as you kick up the wet leaves of the calendar, dog in tow.
Now look, there’s me in my middle-twenties,
on the long walk home in the rain after closing.
The streetlamps are doffing their concrete caps
as if the elements had ever taken a blind bit of notice.
Miranda Yates lives in Manchester where she is a primary teacher. She has published poetry in Poetry Review, The Rialto, Magma and the North. She was chosen as one of the Poetry Trust’s Aldeburgh Eight poets in 2015.Read More
Two Attempts at a Theory of History
All I want to say
Is that perhaps history
Means the striking of a match
In a doorway to protect the flame
From half-hearted sleet or mizzling rain.
Or, seen another way,
What history represents
Is a choir of the mute
Singing to a deaf audience
Under the chaos of the stars.
Ian Heffernan was born in 1965 and grew up just outside London, where he still lives. He studied at University College London and the School of Oriental & African Studies. He works with the homeless.Read More
Goldfish on the Coast
How close we came to leaving each other
on the hard shoulder, walking in different
directions, following the line of fields
for lonely miles then hitching a lift –
me toward the sea, you with a spirit
level back to the midlands.
It would have been dark by the time
you put your key in the lock,
let yourself in to the cool hush;
prayer plants folded, landing light blown
and the dog staring into the night
expecting me to sing his name.
I’d have steadied myself on the coast,
bought a two-slot toaster, ruined a few heels
on the cobbles of the old town swaying home.
There would have been other men, a goldfish,
gulls screaming overhead, but no cause
for concern, none whatsoever.
Roz Goddard is a poet and short fiction writer. She has published four collections of poetry. She is currently part of a team at based at Birmingham University exploring how reading and poetry can be integrated in gaming for use in primary schools. Twitter: @rozgoddardRead More
Cupid and Me
The day Cupid lost his arrows Dan never walked over to Paula on reception and asked her to the cinema, so they never kissed on the back row and that, in turn, meant that he never asked her to marry him that night at the fair, in front of the candy floss stand and all those people clapping for them in gloves.
When Cupid lost his arrows it meant that that night, instead of saying Hi, and accepting that drink, Jenny never found out how much she and Mike had in common. It meant that, two weeks later, she never said, ‘I didn’t realise I’d spent my whole life looking for you until you mentioned Elvis and bird watching in the same sentence.’ Instead, Jenny walked by, eyes straight ahead and chest out, and she ended up meeting Tony who bought her shots and who, in eighteen months, won’t deal as well with her cancer as Mike would have. Because Cupid lost his arrows, Jenny will die alone and with bruises.
The day Cupid lost his arrows I didn’t have the nerve to ask you to the party. I know you’d have enjoyed it.
And I wish I’d been more forgiving. If I had then maybe I’d have helped him when I found him on his hands and knees in the alley. He was drunk, and I was too, and when he asked me to help him look for something behind the bins I told him no. He started shouting his mouth off then, said stuff about you, and I lost it. I grabbed him by his collar and sent him to the wall and I hit him hard in his fat face.
The police came when you called and they threw us in a cell together and when we sobered up, we talked. And that’s when he told me about it all, about everything that had been lost. He said he was sorry. When he mentioned you, that time, I cried.
I’ve asked him about second chances and he’s said no. Said what’s done is done, that those moments have all gone.
I’ll help him look for those arrows when we get out. I’ve promised him that. It’s the least I can do. I think we’re friends now, Cupid and me. One day, we’ll go for a beer. And I guess that’s something. It’s just that something doesn’t seem enough.
Nik Perring is the author of five books including the short story collection, Not So Perfect (Roastbooks 2010); he’s the co-author of Freaks! (The Friday Project/HarperCollins, 2012) and his latest, Beautiful Trees is out now. His online home is www.nikperring.com and he’s on Twitter too @nikperring
Note: This short has been previously published in Downtown and DriftwoodRead More
In my father’s pocket
Feel that square of paper
in your jacket pocket
next to your heart.
Hold it out if you need to.
“This is my father.
He is loved,
Please bring him home and
when you have read this,
put the paper back
in his pocket
where he can feel it
next to his heart.
He is loved.
Moray Sanders has written prose with the support of Creative Future for some years. Through Creative Future she won a mentoring opportunity with New Writing South. She is working with Vanessa Gebbie, who is encouraging her to write poetry. This was her first poem, and her first open submission.Read More