Mark Pajak




The Brain

It’s single hub split like a coffee bean
two fists of squid fabric,
a canopy of cauliflower branches
a dense cap of squirming coral.
It’s aroma glows sulphur
like a box of matches doused in sunlight.
Lick it’s gunk and your tongue will hum
as though pressed to a battery.
This bouquet of gristle,
this fungus sprouted from the spine’s root
into the head’s hollow, is your casing.
As wires dream in sparks, so you
are just static bristling in the brain’s crevices,
a chemical paint by numbers
washed over the knuckles of it’s jigsaw,
every grain of you packed like salt
into the ball and socket of the synaptic gap,
all these words, what they mean,
just a network of glands
like railway signals turning on and off
along the wicker-work of skull pulp.



Mark Pajak was born on the Wirral. He is a graduate of LJMU and also the Liverpool Playhouse Young Writer’s Programme. His work has appeared in Askew, Myths of the Near Future, Smoke and Spilt Milk Magazines, among others.

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Andy S. Barritt




What A Soul Is …

One night I killed a dove the cat had maimed,
pressed its pitted breath from peach-soft feathers
until my hands wouldn’t unclench for days,

then buried it in a tea towel beneath the hedge
where tongues of poisoner’s rose would grow,
pushing aside the brick I’d left to keep foxes away

Andy S. Barritt is an East Midlands based poet interested in describing bright instants just slightly widdershins of the everyday. He has had pieces published in various journals, both nationally (3:AM, Antiphon, Ink Sweat & Tears) and internationally (Shotglass Journal, The Prose-Poem Project), and was shortlisted in the 2013 Nottingham Festival of Words Flash Fiction Competition.  This is his website.




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Dan Bowan



Trick or treat

Throw the dice as to
Whether it’s wet leaves or dog shit
It all looks in the same under
The orange lights

You see the squared hedge first
The smooth slate path and
Treated black metal spikes on the front railing
Doing a good job of keeping out the riff raff

Cross the threshold
Half expecting intruder alert floodlights to
Bathe you…
Hounds to be released

And then approach the drawbridge
Press the bell
Wait for the silhouettes to appear
On the other side of the leaded church glass

It’s always expensive glass
Not the frosted shit with wire running through it
And the head shapes appear
Sounds of contentment appear

And Light warms your face
While a Log fire
And too-early-in-the-year mulling spices
Are inhaled

They offer a bucket of homemade candy treats
Tied up with string
And they smile and hug and take a family portrait

Or something like that anyway

Then the door closes and the penniless November night
Taps you on the shoulder
It points back over to the shining green-brown pile by the kerb;

‘Don’t slip on that.’





Dan Bowan lives in South East London and writes prose/poetry and short stories. He has been writing for over 15 years been published in various independent magazines and art papers.  See more at:

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Charles G Lauder Jr… on World Poetry Day




How It Works

What I throw out into the world
I gather first as checkerboards
of sunlight scribbled on my arms.

I gather them as nourishment
like a man drinking from a well
he’s crawled miles to reach.

What I throw out into the world
has pooled and swirled between cupped palms
wishing into its tide the dirt

and sweat of creviced skin   molecules
of blood eked from a paper cut.
Here stirs a universe in the making

stellar gases congealing into orbits
admired like an adolescent
enamoured with his own peach fuzz.

Is it foolishness or inevitable
that it can’t be hoarded up a sleeve
without seeping through nor compressed

between palms without going super-
nova if I don’t willingly
throw my hands into the air?



Charles G Lauder Jr grew up in the heart of Texas and now lives in the East Midlands. His poems have appeared internationally and his pamphlet, Bleeds, was published in 2012 by Crystal Clear Creators

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Stacey Faulkner





Julian knows the secret to fear. It’s legs. He’s secretly smug about figuring this out even though he’s only seven.

‘More people are scared of dogs than other people. More people are scared of bees and wasps than dogs and people are even more scared of spiders than insects. Each time legs are added creatures get scarier,’ he explains to his cousin, Mike.

That’s why his dog Tripod is so special. Tripod had to have a leg amputated as a puppy making the blonde whippet less scary than other dogs but still scarier than people. Julian feels safe at night when Tripod jumps onto his bed.

Julian’s awareness of this is why he isn’t bullied at school like his cousin Mike. ‘They’ve got two legs, the same as us,’ Julian shrugs.

Mike is scared of things in a strange order; he’s afraid of Tripod but collects spiders in jam jars even though they have all those legs. Mike says it’s because Tripod has bigger teeth. But Julian can’t see why that’s important since Tripod has never bitten anyone.

‘But you’re more scared of, like, a snake than a centipede and they’ve got a hundred legs,’ Mike says as the boys set up their uncle’s old train set.

‘It’s weirder to have no legs. Besides I didn’t make it up I just noticed it.’

‘Well, you’re scared of Grandpa and he’s only got one leg now because of that thing he has.’

‘Diabetes,’ Julian sighs. ‘I’m not scared of Grandpa. I just stay out the way because Grandma says he’s worried about other people now.’


‘Everyone else has twice the amount legs he does.’

Mike stops snapping pieces of the track together to consider this for a moment and Julian knows he has won him over.



Stacey Faulkner is a teacher and writer living in West Sussex, her short stories and flash fiction have been published in print and online, including ‘Greif Group’ in ‘Sunday Snaps: The Stories’.

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Danny D Ford




The Bookcase

The bookcase
has been replaced with
another bookcase

The new thing is made in Sweden
and assembled
in the wet dreams of code breakers
and psychiatrists

I try
all the bits are there
I thumb tiny pieces of metal
into crude wooden holes
the ‘designated ports of joinery’ I believe they’re called

Before we know it
we have a coffin shaped box
in the middle of the floor

The inevitable heated exchange ensues
planning ideas are slung back and forth
with the girlfriend
she’s flustered and gorgeous
I’m half erect and inappropriate
– which is more than can be said about the cheap furniture

and then I pause

look at us all grown up
we’ve made it
we’re finally fighting
about things
that don’t matter



Danny D Ford a.k.a The Unfolding Head is from Bristol (most charming city in the UK) but is currently based in Bergamo, Italy (relatively unheard of destination that cheap airlines refer to as Milan, which it isn’t). He is regularly involved with spoken word events and has had poetry, illustration and photography published in various niche titles. Since April 2012 he has exhibited works from the three mediums mentioned and is part of the team behind Bergamo’s first open-mic night ‘Dust Your Broom’.

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Claire Walker





Lips part and we see the dark

whole of your mouth, empty

and ivory framed.

Vacant-sign eyes , cogs lie static

behind your sugar skull.

Yet we try like children

on a pier, to hook a prize

with our claws.


Stripping flesh from your bones

we pin it to ourselves, sew

your nerves to our sleeves.

Hunt your scent then mask

our bodies with it.



Claire Walker‘s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in various print and online publications including Ink Sweat and Tears, Hearing Voices, Kumquat Poetry and Emerge Literary Journal.  In June 2013 she won third place in the 2013/2014 Worcestershire Poet Laureate Competition.

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