Jessica Mookherjee

 

 

 

Scars

He was out of his skull when he said
Let’s be lovers, licked my cheek like
sea-lapping the shore. He walked me
home from school

down that secret path past the cliffs
where no one was supposed to go.
He pulled me inside a cave shaped like a fist,
and gave me my first cigarette.

His eyes were like teeth,
said we should elope, steal a car,
run away to Porthcawl and I took my first
drag as the chemical taste bit and

he watched as I wretched, said
it’s a skill, and held my hair back
as I spat in the rock-pool.
He blew smoke rings as I choked.

As I heard gulls screaming
like children I shivered,
I saw waves sneak in through
the cracks and fissures.

I don’t know why I giggled
when he told me men brought girls here
and we kissed as I touched
scars carved on the cave wall.

 

 

 

 

Jessica Mookherjee is a poet  originally from Wales now living in Kent. She has poems published in Ink,Sweat and Tears, Antiphon, Agenda, Prole, Interpreter’s House, Obsessed With Pipework and Tears in the Fence. Her pamphlet, The Swell – was published in October by Telltale Press.

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Jonathan Humble

 

 

 

Blanket

I was the designated person. I’d seen it before and I am hard.
All over in a few seconds; a slow movement across two

graduations, then an increased flow to a final stop at empty.
Clear eyes to opaque in an efficient procedure performed by

this calm and sympathetic professional; the dog, supporting
his own weight one moment, to being a dead-weight slumped

in my arms on a vinyl covered veterinary table the next. Be
aware, she said, now the body is relaxed, it is likely his bladder

will evacuate in your car. I stood in the car park and placed his
body, wrapped and limp in his old dog blanket, on a large

plastic sheet in the boot and sobbed like a child.

 

 

 

 

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, Obsessed With Pipework and on BBC Radio.

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William Doreski

 

 

 

 
Hedge Maze

Hedge maze a quarter mile square.
Everyone who enters it
terminates in screams. Even cops,
determined to rescue someone,
lose themselves for lack of clues
and fail to exit. You’re braver
than me, and walk in alone,
leaving prints in fluffy new snow
I’m bound by habit to follow.

Tracking you into the dusk,
I feel pressure build as if I dove
toward the bottom of the sea.
Misty figures loom and dissolve.
Weak hands pluck at my coat.
I can’t help anyone, but follow
your trail despite the failing light
and vapors dense enough to snuff
the nuances of my breathing.

At last the center of the maze.
The passage that has led me here
closes behind me, rustling stems
too thick and brambly to penetrate.
The sky drapes over my shoulders
with a post-orgasmic sigh.
Your footprints terminate before
a marble plinth on which a crystal
of the clearest quartz reclines.

I realize I’ve been screaming
for a while now, already tired
of my noise. I can’t stop even
as I peer into and then step inside
the shimmer of the crystal and feed
whatever lives inside it;
and I realize you lured me here
to dissolve in prismatic colors
that have threatened all my life.

 

William Doreski recently retired after years of teaching at Keene State College in New Hampshire (USA). His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors.  His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.

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Miki Byrne

 

 

Tea-time in Sand Bay

The bare beach rolls away
windswept, smooth,
as much space as can fill two eyes,
and the desire to feel the wind.
Mercury-bright channels
gouge snaking paths to the sea
that sucks them into its vastness.
A shaggy line of weed,
like bed-head hair
edges toffee-coloured sand.
Chill takes small bites
from ears and noses
as if invisible spirits live on the breeze
and zoom in for snacks.
On the shore road,
a bright flag snaps whip-like,
cracks the air gunshot sharp.
The tea shop huddles, solitary,
windows sparking a flash of colour
amidst closed grey houses
where residents stay warm
and puzzle over out-of-season loonies
who risk hypothermia on the tideline.
The cafe offers haven; warm, quaint,
fragrant with cooking.
We settle at table, peel scarves away,
pet the dog to lie quietly.
Tea mugs are bliss for those
who braved the outdoors.
Like a head banged against a wall,
it’s great when it stops.

 

 

 

Miki Byrne has three poetry collections and work included in over 170 poetry magazines and anthologies. She runs a poetry writing group and began performing in a bikers club in Birmingham. Miki is disabled and lives in Gloucestershire.

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Tobi Alfier

 

 

 

Some Neighbors Refuse to Become Words

Old Smoky came home last night.
We hadn’t seen her in days.
Standing in our front window,
we could watch their big screen TV
across the street—pretty sure
that porn at 65 inches wouldn’t lure
no one home for nothin’.

But there she finally was.
Her dime store perfume
cutting through the odor
of sticky-floored bookstore bullshit,
liars getting rolls of quarters, and tissues, for 15 seconds
of dirty feet and eyes rolling toward heaven,
her husband getting it all at home.

Bitterness fights a soldier’s war with beauty.
We know she knows if she stays,
she’s going down with the ship.
We see her, but we don’t know her,
we can hear the click of her metallic Zippo lighter
but we can’t hear her beg for anyone’s mercy.

He drinks himself into an early sleep.
She puts on a ball game and a peignoir
the violet of the vanishing sky.
The sadness of her wanderer’s face is clear,
just before the curtains fall. We feel
voyeuristic, dirty, and very very lucky.

 

 

Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee.  Current chapbooks are The Coincidence of Castles from Glass Lyre Press, Romance and Rust from Blue Horse Press, and Down Anstruther Way (Scotland poems) from FutureCycle Press. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).

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Thomas McColl

 

 

Look at That!

‘Look at that!
a top hat on a tea pot,’
you shout,
as we stop just a little too close
to a china display in the shop
and, with a swipe of your hand,
you make a fat pot-headed Victorian gentleman
involuntarily doff his hat,
and a second later,
you realise why he doesn’t do that –
even though he’s Victorian
and you’re a lady
(albeit a little madam) –
when his hat
(which, foolishly,
he’d had made
out of posh china
rather than plush silk)
smashes into pieces on the floor.

And while you sob and sulk at the realisation,
I pay the bill for the damage,
while keeping an eye out,
as I’m carrying you,
that you don’t knock any
of the many
ornate objects
crowded round the till,
but instead your damned dinky destructive digit
starts prodding the top of my face,
and my invisible top hat
(which, foolishly,
I’d had made out of frayed nerves
rather than woven silk)
is once more pushed to the edge,
and once more
(just about)
remains in place.

 

Thomas McColl lives in London, and has had poems published in Envoi, Iota, Prole, Incubator Journal and previously in IS&T. His first full collection, Being With Me Will Help You Learn, is available from Listen Softly London Press. https://thomasmccoll.wordpress.com/

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Judi Walsh for National Flash Fiction Day

 

 

All Events Must Have Rules

 

There are birds nesting in the roof of the porch. I don’t know what type of birds they are but they judge us for being young and inexperienced. Today I am not here for an official visit, and the officials would haul me in if they knew. On Sundays we sit in lines, reciting lines. On Sundays there are only two ways to look- ahead or down. But every other day we run in circles, playing kiss-chase. Some of us run straight over the graves without caring, but some of us jump at the last minute. Some of us are playing, but we are never really part of the game.

 

 

 

 

Judi Walsh started writing short fiction in 2012. Her work has been listed for several awards, including the Salt Flash Fiction Prize 2012, National Flash Fiction Micro Competition 2016 and the Bath Flash Fiction and Novella-In-Flash awards 2017.

 

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