Tania Hershman




Hold the Baby

They said she had to hold the baby so she held the baby even though she had no notion why she held it, him or her. They said she couldn’t look to see so in her mind she thought of it as both, a Jenny and a James, and she knew it wasn’t right but there was nothing more to say.  They said they’d run some tests while she was holding it, experiments of a sort, but she was not so clear on what sort. Perhaps they measured angles, how she held it, how it sat there. Maybe they counted breaths, hers and its, or maybe blood flow or pressure, with machines she couldn’t see. Maybe they wired up her brain and knew what she was thinking, feeling. Some time had passed, maybe minutes, and then she wanted to drop the baby. Not hard, not on the floor, just to not hold it any more.




Tania Hershman is the author of two story collections: My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions (Tangent Books, 2012), and The White Road and Other Stories (Salt, 2008; commended, 2009 Orange Award for New Writers). Her poems and stories have been published in print and online and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4. Tania is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University exploring the intersection between creative writing and particle physics. She is co-writer and editor of Writing Short Stories: A Writers’ & Artists’ Companion (Bloomsbury, Dec 2014). www.taniahershman.com

Note: Hold the Baby was first published in Butcher’s Dog

Read More

Stephanie Arsoska



Tinkering Among the Machines

I wonder what kind of game
you thought you were playing
with all those bodies. Just another

part of a machine to be tinkered
with, moved around,  broken
and not repaired. What a scrapyard

of ghosts you made,
what a massacre of dignity.
All those girls marked for life,

just because you felt like it
All those snapped apart souls
trying not to spill their damage

across the years ahead.  And
somewhere you, in a bed,
with just another thing

you won’t hesitate to break.



Stephanie Arsoska lives in  Kirriemuir, Scotland.  Her work been published by The Emma Press, Prole, Iron Press, Mother’s Milk Books and Magma.  This is her blog http://stephaniearsoska.co.uk/

Read More

Rebecca Gethin




We try to fettle the spaces
around us –  the pile of books
on a bedside table; the chronology
of an artist’s work in a gallery;
the lay-out of fields and roads,
hedged and fenced, across wild land.

Here the middle of the field is a shore,
A road bridge over a pool connects
two more pools.  Floodwaters
pour into the gaps,  choppy as a sea –
a semaphore of tree tops and gates
poking through –  a language no one can speak.

Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor, Devon. Cinnamon Press published her second poetry collection, A Handful of Water, in 2013, as well as her second novel What the horses heard, in 2014. Her website is www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com

Read More

Ross Wilson



Nursing Games

The nurses took position
for the hundred metre hurdle,
each focusing on the patient
bedded at the end of their lane.

The call bell was the signal
that sent them running,
leaping cold metal filing cabinets,
racing towards the buzzing lights.

The first to reach her patient
was the loser. The winner
had stopped to shuffle papers,
tick sheets, file forms.

But I won, the first across the line,
protested. No, you did not,
she was told, for if it wasn’t written,
it wasn’t done.




Ross Wilson’s pamphlet, The Heavy Bag, was published by Calder Wood Press.  His poems have appeared in many magazines. He also contributed to the script of The Happy Lands, a feature film in which he was credited as an actor.

Read More

Jessica Johannesson Gaitán



Profile Piece

In the film even you have a tidy hairline. An interviewer could skip along it, selecting driftwood and precious stones that only peck at the skin when thrown across deep water.

Both the watcher and the watched bent by the tools of observation. ‘All this technology is beyond me.’ You look to the sky line: ‘beyond me’. It comes into being after you’re done.

If the camera was a deity it would be worshipped through mirrors. If it liked you it would never tell, and when beauty bites your rival’s shoulder it’s because of her, not the teeth.




Jessica Johannesson Gaitán grew up in Sweden and Colombia and currently lives in Edinburgh. Her poems and stories have appeared in Gutter and The Stinging Fly among other publications. She writes about translations at therookeryinthebookery.org

Read More

Jeff Streeby




Late Hunt

On a day this cold, you don’t even need the shotgun. They’re easy to spot, too, those beautiful birds dying in the tumbled stubble of harvest. Find their long tail feathers riffling prairie wind and you can take them alive out of little pockets in the snow. When you lift them from fencerows at the edge of empty pastures, from beside trees in abandoned orchards, withered fruit clattering overhead, from fallow ground where they shelter under shining plow-cut rubble of clods, they look up at you unmoved, eyes empty mirrors, odd ice in morning’s raw glare.

Tonight, below the Interstate, a cold familiar wind scours river ice six feet thick. New snowbanks build high under the bridge. Pearl is deserted, its few streetlights haloed in soot and old snow that spill in blizzards from downtown rooftops. That fine, chill powder when it dusts your face, melts and streaks down like tears. In front of Eagle Pawn Shop, where ragged spikes of rust-stained ice depend from eaves, tall, bistered drifts find hard shapes, slope knee-deep into the street. A plow, yellow lights flashing, growls across the intersection headed up Sixth. Rising over the vague skyline, the moon, oddly distinct, bright with an orient luster, counterfeits a silver coin in a deep pocket, an empty locket, a salver for a vanished chalice.

Along snow-choked back streets all across town, lights glow behind curtains in cozy rooms. And all you’ve got is a narrow bed in another cheap hotel. All you’ve got is a place where you can close your eyes while out here in the dark the world freezes over. All you’ve got is an accidental nest where like a winter-worn bird you can wait unmoved as what hunts you again tonight approaches through the cold.

Winter moon.
Trees in silhouette.
Gaunt wolves eat snow.


Jeff Streeby‘s poetry has appeared in Ginosko, Southwest American Literature, Los Angeles Review, Rattle, Haibun Today, Contemporary Haibun Online, and many others. He is a Senior Lecturer in English at Assumption University in Bangkok, Thailand.

Note: Suisun Valley Review published a version of “Late Hunt” in Edition #26 (May, 2009).

Read More

Sally Long




Spring, 1942

from a letter by R.S. Thomas

Morning glittering with April light,
warblers sing in the wood,
untroubled by the shadow
that sullies my spirit.

Then your gift arrives.
A violin concerto, its notes
wrapped with kindness,
heal my heart.

I reply with a poem,
a speck of hope
in these desolate days.
The shadow will pass.

Sally Long has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East London and is about to start a PhD at Exeter. She has had poems published in magazines including Agenda, Haiku Journal, Ink, Sweat and Tears, London Grip, Prole and Snakeskin. Sally edits Allegro Poetry Magazine http://allegropoetry.org

Read More