Mice ate Steve’s words. Shredding his manuscript into lettered litter they nested in hard-won phrases, and copulated in the ruins.
Lauren, sick of rustling and scampering, and cruel with sleep-deprivation, set traps in the attic.
In the morning, they climbed the loft ladder together. Eight furry bodies, fattened on his self-diagnosed-genius, lay limp in snapped traps, snarling a bloody-toothed snarl. Lauren dug a hole in the garden.
As the mice and the manuscript rotted, Steve’s head filled with sentences. During the day they murmured in his ears; at night he tossed and muttered as they scrolled across the screen of his dreaming. Lauren receded; the sentences advanced.
Sick of his broken-backed sanity, and cruel with sleep-deprivation, Lauren let them win. He didn’t notice her leaving. He was trying to capture the cold-war-whispering in a notebook, stabbing words into paper with a razor sharpened pencil.
Lesley Mace is the winner of the 2015 CWA, Margery Allingham Short Story prize. Published in Writers’ Forum, Bewildering Stories and The Boston Literary Magazine. She is an Escalator Award winner, and has received Arts Council funding for her writing.
At the edge of the sky, a dirty pink
scratches at the permagreen –
it isn’t dawn, it isn’t sundown,
it’s late in the daylight, later
in the season of blame.
If life were a featureless plain,
the courier would come galloping
with news from the cities,
at an hour like this
frozen on the clock-face.
Would have already come,
and the tea brewed, and the leaves read,
and the greenjacket crawling,
up the closed window.
Terence Dooley‘s poems and translations from Spanish have been published or accepted in the last year by Ambit, Agenda, Acumen, Poetry London, POEM, The London Magazine, Brittle Star, Long Poem Magazine, Envoi, Dream Catcher, and MPT.Read More
Reader, I can’t pretend to know you,
but listen intently enough, as though I do
in the concrete jungle they call
a glass of wine later
and a pint of Hobgoblin
as the conversation meanders like exhaust
fumes through lanes of traffic,
bus routes, tram lines
and the unsuspecting mass of bodies,
between city streets,
through and towards what we already know:
hard to imagine the years of care
amounted to this, no holding hands,
no linking of arms, not a kiss,
only the well ordered yawns
of a first and last face to face encounter.
Who could’ve known
that in that parade of flesh
we found ourselves caught up in,
only the dead one would come
to bare teeth
at our lonely conversation,
our conversation about being alone?
No use to lie, no need to sharpen the blade.
Just what has been rejected here –
but the idea of our future selves as giants
traversing landscapes, moor lands
and hill tops, pleasure bound creatures
hell bent on self discovery?
So we annihilate each others dreams,
speaking of mutability
as though our own flesh were indestructible
with all the hubris of solitary bees.
Mark A. Murphy’s first full length collection, Night-watch Man & Muse was published in November 2013 from Salmon Poetry (Eire). Murphy’s poems have been published in over 100 magazines and ezines in 17 different countries world wide.
spasmodic second hand of the clock
on the wall of the doctor’s
walking along the beach
my sore feet–
the moon wrapped in gauze
another email from
what does she want now?
Wayne F. Burke‘s haiku and/or tanka have appeared in American Tanka and High Coupe. His two published books of poetry, Words that Burn (2013) and Dickhead (2015) are published by Bareback Press.
When I walked the moors
Of the South Tyne Valley
Not knowing anyone
Within 150 miles
I hugged the very call
Of the curlew.
I watched them lift together
From fields by the banks
Of the river.
Once I peered over a drystone wall
And saw one right there
Flying on my bike
Over bumping tarmac
Down the hill into Beltingham
They were burbling there, in the air.
The first time I heard them
Was on Coombs moss
I wasn’t so alone then
And hindsight makes those calls
Sound like a portent.
Neil Campbell has two collections of short stories, Broken Doll, and Pictures from Hopper, published by Salt, and two poetry chapbooks, Birds, and Bugsworth Diary, published by Knives, Forks and Spoons. Recent stories in Short Fiction and Tears in the Fence. Other stories in the anthologies, Murmurations, and Best British Short Stories 2012. Has a chapbook of short fiction, Ekphrasis, with Knives, Forks and Spoons.Read More
A Happy Ending For Petrologists
A pebble sat upon a beach and thought, as would a stone,
Of whether in the Universe it was a soul alone.
For it could see no evidence to otherwise disprove
That rocks had not the wherewithal to think or talk or move.
And there with countless coloured stones, all smooth and weatherworn,
Suppressed its angst, lay motionless, stayed quiet and forlorn.
Through summers and through winters, it endured its solitude,
In pebbly reflection, existentially it stewed.
And as its hopes diminished with each wave that crashed the shore,
It worried that it might be quite alone forever more
Until one day this sad and strange affair came to an end;
A fellow pebble turned and smiled and asked to be its friend.
Jonathan Humble is a deputy head teacher in Cumbria. His poetry has appeared in The Big Issue In The North, Poems For Freedom, The Caterpillar Magazine, Lighten Up Online and on BBC Radio 4 and Radio Cumbria. Through TMB Books, he has published a collection of his stuff entitled My Camel’s Name Is Brian. Blog: northernjim.blogspot.co.uk
It is only a few acres
Sun choked and thirsty grass
Our house is scab brown, flaky
Pickup truck red offsets the dirt like a fresh heart
We made a deal to live our lives in slower motion
To pack our thoughts away in beer coolers to freeze
Dusk comes and we move as if underwater
Subterranean muscles have we
Sundays are for God
The rest of the week are for America
We keep our blessings in a box in the gun cabinet
Shiny and hard like so many bullets
Aimée Keeble was born in London but raised in America. Once graduating from high school, she moved back to London to pursue a career as an actress. She has been writing short stories and poems since she was a child. Her work has been recently published by the Lighthouse journal. Her greatest inspiration has been her great uncle Alexander Trocchi, a beat writer who produced a handful of novels and began a prose and poetry publication called Merlin, before he died. She hopes to follow in his footsteps and have a literary publication of her own one day.Read More