Degna Stone has some advice on unwanted advice

How to Avoid Giving Unwanted Advice

Hold your tongue still with your teeth.
Feel the sharp white line press down
until it threatens to draw blood.

Slip into the silences
until your head is submerged—
resist the urge to surface for air.

Place your advice in a room of mirrors,
consider it from all angles
as it puts on the finishing touches.

Swallow rhetorical questions whole.
Dissolve in stomach acid without reply
and even then, don’t wait for a pause

wait to be asked.

* Degna Stone visited Newcastle in the summer of 1999 and never went home. Essentially, she's a Midlander in self-imposed exile…

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Justin Hyde learns Lesson #27

lesson #27

not really choking
just cutting off
like this
she shows me
how to hold
the red bungee
just so.
she's on
her knees
in front of
a full length mirror.
i'm on
my knees
behind her.
hell of a reach
getting my hand
around her gut
down to
the coin slot.
her eyes
are closed.
feels like
i'm an iroquois
skinning a bear.
or like
i'm trying to
an old
vacuum cleaner.
she croaks.
my bicep
beads of sweat
sprint down my forehead
into my eyes
as her face
goes squid.
then she goes limp
before erupting
like mount vesuvius
~ ~ ~
your turn
she smiles
grabbing the bungee
waving it
like the
holy cross.

* Justin Hyde lives in Iowa.

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WN Herbert is caught in the night rain

Night Rain in Emprosneros

For once the mountains that peer down through the vine at us
like giant scientists, sheer aunts with pine-pocked octopus skin,
vanished before nightfall behind a mat of tufting grey cloud
we reassured ourselves could not mean rain.

But rain it did, in darkness, hesitantly, as if unsure of protocol,
and scattershot, so that you could hold your hand out
and not feel a drop, while beside you the little flame of the oil lamp
was precisely sizzled out. And start and stoppingly, so that

you couldn't tell whether the towels needed taking in or not
and went and stood beneath the separated-out rain, gauging it.
Then furiously, for five minutes or so, or so the vine leaves claimed,
though that could just have been their patter. Glancing up

between the unripe grapes you saw the white belly of the rat
who visits here by dusk, then moved the white plastic chairs
beneath the plaster eaves, and draped them with the towels,
and filled your lungs with the scent of the astonished earth,

that freshness compacted of dirt and leaf and air, delicious
as chilled fruit, then watched the jasmine flowers being struck
over and over, as though the stars were being stung, then lay down
and listened to the passage of the clouds throughout the night.

*Bill Herbert (WN Herbert)  is from Dundee, lives in an old lighthouse in North Shields and teaches Creative Writing at Newcastle University. He is mostly published by Bloodaxe and is finishing a book of poems and an anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry. 

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C. Albert’s ‘The Meaning of Roundling’


A poem (with image) from our artist/poet in residence C. Albert. 


Flora the Poet



The Meaning of Roundling


With the edges
of our eyes, we catch glimpses
of roundlings peeking through windows.
Gentle creatures, ready to bolt,
fragile with dark traumas
passed onto them.


Best not to talk
in x,y,z. A whisper,
 “why didn’t you” or “you should”
is an attack of syntax, a barbed construction
that shatters them. They will run
with the thought,
“It is not safe.”


Once they flee,
the void aches with absence
of oval tenderness.


Sometimes they can be enticed
with soft fruits and scents of fresh
lemon, orange or tangerine.
Round stones
will please.


Feed them colors,
speak in fluted ragas,
offer acceptance.


The Meaning of Roundling was first published in Mannequin Envy.

* C.Albert is based in Seattle, Washington and we will be featuring more of her work in the coming months.  She can be contacted through


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Angus Sinclair's Memory Plates

Memory Plates

Memory plates glide over one another.
Like two facing windows, a hall of mirrors:

slow, shifting images          – your infant self
                                    sat in a cafeteria waiting
                                            for something
gently corroded
by changes in the light.    

As layers form, new maps are made;    an office block
becomes translucent,    weighs less
than a photograph of itself.

Fluorescent strips in a shopping centre    
  light up the derelict swimming pool
                   on the other side of the city.

You stand on the high-board: look down,
feet half-over the edge, watching the drift.

* Angus Sinclair won the 2010 Cafe Writers Norfolk Commission.  He is a photographer, professional wrestler, and studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.    Memory Plates
relates indirectly to his photographic work in the Locus exhibition at the Stew Gallery in Norwich.

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Fiona Sinclair is looking under the counter

Under the Counter

Stroking fake furs convincing as clever
impressionists, my hand is pricked by
the pine needle pelt of genuine mink.
The coat is no peroxide starlet but a
hooded, calf length defence against
proper winters. Petting it, I recall when
‘a mink for the wife’ was on every husband’s
pools win list. Their cast iron glamour
outliving owners to be willed to daughters.
Now young women clearing great aunt’s
attic strike Marilyn poses before mirrors
fearful of parading them in public, but
knowing their value to less squeamish
tourists, bring them to this sanctuary.
The proprietor beckons me to a white
fox fur jacket, slipped from Bianca Jagger’s
shoulders in Studio 54 now tethered in
a cupboard. We ogle the skin like seedy
punters in a back street sex shop.

* Fiona Sinclair has had work published in numerous reputable magazines. Her
first chapbook Dirty Laundry was published by Koo Press in
February 2010.

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Claire Trevien is listening to Charles Ives

Listening to Charles Ives

The street vainly imitates a theatre,
dropped pennies and reflectors footlight my walk
the rumble of a crowd gathers and storms.

Beats rain down and hide in the gutter,
rivulets form around the clutter
of the pavement’s percussion orchestra.


Sticky leather sky.

The air vibrates still
through drum-buildings.

I think of us listening to Charles Ives.
You heard cacophony, I heard the silence
after the tempest, when the bells

had ceased, but their ripples
reached to our seats like
the promise of a tomorrow.

* Claire Trevien is a 25 year old PhD student. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of magazines including Poetry Salzburg Review, The Warwick Review, Nth Position and Fuselit. She is the editor of Sabotage (

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