Rachel J Fenton




weren’t my idea of oven, more like top loader weshing machine, but were all art college ‘ad. inside: an asbestos lined cylinder, seven shelves, each level ‘eld by a joggle, pizza-esque. my work were first to go in: anthers amplified in excess of natural size; stigma and stamen, didynamous pairs; extruded clay wrought ‘uman like but for pollen grains tweezed on outside. i’d transferred for welshman i loved; white rose had gone for a leek. gran said peg’d tecken prop for a toddle. i were young, din’t think in relief, believed Schrödinger was name of some psychic cat purrin a box for laugh. i weren’t present when they lifted lid. occupying bottom shelf were to prove my undoing. i ‘an’t wedged clay reight; it’s fatal if an air bubble gets in. best part of a year’s work blown to smithereens. first in, blast out. walking into kiln room, i’ll nivver forget; a stormy neet. i went home to find all weshing off line, covered in muck in neighbours’ gardens. prop, fallen in long grass.



Rachel J Fenton was born in South Yorkshire and currently lives in Auckland. Finalist in the 2014 Dundee International Book Prize, she won the University of Plymouth’s seventh annual Short Fiction Competition. She blogs here, and tweets as @RaeJFenton

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Bethany Rivers




Without Goodbyes
(for Karen)

An eternal white corridor;
my mother retreating,
leaving me with a too-large bed
with medical-mint bed-spread.

She blurs to a Lowry figure.
The corridor cuts and incises
then magnifies her stiletto sounds
to a music I still hear.



Bethany Rivers has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Cardiff University.  She has previously been published by Cinnamon Press, Bare Fiction and Scintilla (USA).  She is currently working on her first full collection of poetry, and teaches creative writing.

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Linda M. Crate




foolish man

“ich bin zufrieden,” i murmured
you looked at me
as if i had lost my mind and asked me,
“you are what?”
“happy. it means i am happy.”
mostly i ignore braggarts,
but when you insisted your sister spoke
german the little voice with the horns
in my head told me to show you up
so i did;
it seemed to take you by surprise—
you can always learn,
but you cannot call your words back or the way
you’ve made people feel;
always you make me feel so small and inconsequential
maybe in the grand scheme of things
i am,
but no one likes feeling that way—
once you called me a hobbit,
but the old man in line looked up at me and shook
his head insisting i was too tall which made
me smile;
no one likes to be belittled
you always seem so ready to share everything you know
there is no mystery and intrigue only
a constant monotony
which eventually gives me a headache whilst i smile
politely trying not to envision myself
hitting you over the head repeatedly with the turbo oven
because you’re nice and all
just socially awkward without the capacity to see
when one ought to hold their tongue.



Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. Her fantasy novel Blood & Magic is forthcoming from Ravenswood Publishing. You can follow her here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Linda-M-Crate

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A Brief Analysis of Soup and Soup Making

I invite you to consider
this pot of broth.
Neither meal nor beverage,
it side-steps categorization
with a gentle, but jaunty slop.
Mistress of disguises,
it can sometimes be
stew, chilli, gravy.

Good soup is not made.
It evolves
slowly, lovingly
after multiple simmerings and stirrings,
plus surgical removals of the skin.
Tasted, sampled, consumed,
re-heated and augmented,
absorbing equally
the old and the fresh,
the abandoned and the rediscovered.

Soup can last a lifetime,
granting hope
to cast-aside dinners,
rejected repasts,
the forgotten vegetable hiding
at the bottom of fridge or freezer,
unnamed, unadorned animal parts
your grandmother knew intimately.

Tended, it is a flavour
that keeps on giving, a heritage
of choices and second chances,
bubbling with life
and hidden secrets
and of such potential longevity
it is almost
primeval, eternal soup.
Who knows what
it may become next?



J.S.Watts is a UK writer. She has published three books: two poetry, Cats and Other Myths and Songs of Steelyard Sue and a novel, A Darker Moon. Her second novel, Witchlight is due out in Spring 2015. See http://www.jswatts.co.uk/  or  www.facebook.com/J.S.Watts.page   

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Imogen Cassels





I’d like a knife, small enough
to pocket. If you could find
a pretty one I’d appreciate it.
Shallowness I prize most of all.

Sorry if this is dark. I’m not good
at being profound, but I’m quite good
at silence and mood-killing. I suppose
I’ll be even better at that soon.

Bring a knife with a steel blade,
bring a knife that’s light in hand,
bring a knife with an edge I can’t see –
I think that will make it easier.

So this is just so you know.
I’m reducing myself – the cut
in the crook of my arm is a seam.
I wish I’d learnt to sew.
I suppose it isn’t too late.

Late Autumn and the light’s
taking me with it. I might
be back by early Spring,
in those early buds blessed
suddenly by frost. I am a clutch
of ghosts, waiting to happen.



Imogen Cassels is from Sheffield, and currently studies English at university. She was a Foyle Young Poet of the Year in 2013, and Commended in 2011/2012. Her work features in the Cadaverine Collection, Black & BLUE, Far Off Places and Cadaverine.

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Bear Gebhardt




A Million to One

“Why do movies always have bad people in them?”
Morey Bernstein wasn’t old enough yet to be sitting in the front seat, so his question came floating up from the back. Maureen looked into the rear view mirror to study her little guy.
“Was it a scary  movie, honey?”
“Not really. I was just wondering.”
Maureen turned her eyes back to the road. And then, after a long pause, she said, “That’s a good question. I guess they want to make it more exciting. Maybe we should ask grandpa.”
Harriet Lansing had picked up the other four boys after the Saturday Matinee, but Maureen’s father, Bennie, had just come home from the hospital the previous Thursday and now they were all having an early dinner together to celebrate his recovery.
“Was this movie as good as the last one?” Maureen asked, again checking Morey in the rear view mirror.
“Yea, I guess. Maybe not. Yea probably,” Morey said, obviously not sure how he felt about Space  Rangers 4: Revenge of the Trojans.
Morey was grateful to be simply watching the ordinary street scenes pass outside. Buildings that were not tumbling down in flames. Windows that were not breaking. People walking on the sidewalk, or waiting on benches for the bus.  The people outside the car window people were not being blasted away or flying around or running for their lives.  He liked the gray clouds and the people in their coats. He hoped it would snow, so the world would go even slower.
“Okay, here we are,” Maureen said, ten minutes later, pulling to the curb in front of a small frame house with neatly trimmed bushes that was tucked between two larger, more modern but less well-kept homes. “Be sure to give your grandpa a big hug. He’s missed you. And hasn’t been feeling good.”
“I know,” Morey said, unbuckling his seat belt. He waited for his mother to come around and open his door.
“Hey there, young sir,” Grandpa Bennie said, opening the glass screen door as Maureen and Morey walked onto the porch. He had obvuiously been waiting and watching for them.
“Hey dad, should you be up?” Maureen asked.
“Hi grandpa,” Morey said.
“Sure. I’m fine. I’m fine. Come in, come in,” Grandpa Bennie said, holding the screen door wide.
As Morey went by his grandpa patted him on the head and Morey briefly patted him on the hip. Maureen kissed him on the cheek.
“Good to see you up and about,” she said.
“Yea, yea, your mother has been taking good care of me. I’m fine.”
When they were in the house, door closed, taking of their coats, giving them to Grandpa Bennie, he asked, “So how was the movie?”
“Pretty good,” Morey said.
“As good as the other ones?” Bennie asked.
“No, not really,” Morey said, apparently having decided.
“Oh that’s too bad,” Grandpa Bennie said, hanging up the coats.
“Hey look who’s here,” Grandma Louise said, coming out of the kitchen drying her hands on a dish towel.
After dinner, when the ladies were in the kitchen doing dishes, Morey put down the old I-Pad they kept for him and looked at his grandpa, reading the newspaper.
“Grandpa, why are there always bad people in the movies?”
Grandpa Bennie looked up from the newspaper. He looked at Morey for a long while, nodding his head slightly, thinking about it. They watched each other.
“Because movies are make-believe,” he finally said.
“Are there bad guys in real life?”
Again, Grandpa Bennie nodded his head, thinking about it a long while. “There’s mostly good guys,” he said. “Not like the movies. In the movies it’s one to one or even five bad guys to one of the good guys. In real life, it’s a hundred good guys, or even a thousand good guys, maybe ten thousand good guys, to every bad guy.
Morey studied him and thought about this. “Might there be maybe even a million good guys to one bad guy? Morey asked.
“Yes, yes, I think you’re right. A million good guys, in real life, to every bad guy.  Maybe even two million, in real life.”
“That’s good,” Morey said, looking back at his I-pad. “I like that much better.”



Bear Gebhardt  lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, USA. His two most recent books  are the “Potless Pot High: How to Get High, Clear and Spunky without Weed,”  and “How to Stop Smoking in Fifteen Easy Years: A Slacker’s Guide.”  Website: beargebhardt.com




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Stephanie Green




First Long Walk after Convalescence
(Fair Isle)

The blue cross on the Sumburgh plane
is stretched in the wind.
Skylarks are drilling holes in the sky.

An irritation of midges
and the hazy static of bog-cotton
blur the Dunlins Sink.

The Burn of Fursie is shrunk
to a slit in the bog, pock-marked
by water-beetles balanced on prongs.

Hovering, like a brown mote
in the corner of an eye: the bonxie -
a dislocated shadow.

The valley opens in a shock
of raw light, cumulae billowing,
the ack ack of gulls.

At each step, a further juddering view:
the Peerie, the Muckle,
the Mid Heads o’Yesness.

But no views of geos, or caves.
The Wirvie: nothing but sheep turds,
rabbit droppings, scrag heather.

No spectacular blow-hole spoutings.
No churning voices
from the Kirn o’Skroo.

Only the yellow algae on Golden Water
shining a fools’ blessing.
Ahead, the North Lighthouse -

and below, O Stack,
Peerie O Stack,
the jagged fins of the Slithers.



Stephanie Green has an MPhil in C/W from Glasgow University (2004).  This poem appears in Flout, her pamphlet inspired by Shetland landscape, folklore and culture,  published by HappenStance, 2015 and launched at StAnza.  Originally London-based, she moved, via Wales, to Edinburgh in 2000.  http://sites.google.com/site/stephgreen1/

Note: Bonxie (Shetlandic) – Great skua

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