Tony Vowles




The Day I Fired Alan Sugar

I said look big guy, enough’s enough.  When it comes to the intricacies of macroeconomics and the bell curve, let’s face it, you’re not lord of the manor are you? Despite his rough, tough demeanor he was a pussy cat and sank like a pound coin down the sofa: his life was in tatters, please just one more chance, blah blah.  When he calmed down he said his real love was playing Big Bill Broonzy on an old acoustic guitar.  Would I like to hear something?  Ever the entrepreneur he whipped the instrument from the small of his pocket and launched into ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out’.  I was stunned.  In all my years in business I’d never heard such talent, pure as a silk kimono.  Of course, that was a long time ago, but I know he’s still doing well. Last night for instance, he graced the QVC channel, demonstrating the latest range in George Foreman’s ‘Lean Mean Grilling Machine.’



Tony Vowles‘ poetry has previously appeared in Magma, Smiths Knoll, Agenda, The Interpreters House, Tears in the Fence, Dawntreader, Nutshell, Prole, Fourteen, Under The Radar and Ink, Sweat & Tears.  He is completing MA Writing at Sheffield Hallam University.

Read More

Grant Tarbard




a life bereft, this
is a shut-in’s effigy
burning on the wood

pile of everything
I used to be, my dancing
shoes are gathering

dust in a moth’s light
I’m laughing in my filthy
drunk alley insides




Grant Tarbard has worked as a computer games journalist, a contributor to football fanzines, an editor, a reviewer and an interviewer. He is editor of The Screech Owl. His work can be seen in such magazines as The Rialto, The Journal, Southlight, Sarasvati, Earth Love, Mood Swing, Puff Puff Prose Poetry & Prose, Postcards Poetry and Prose, Playerist 2, Lake City Lights, The Open Mouse, Miracle, Poetry Cornwall, I-70, South Florida Review, Zymbol and Decanto.

Read More

Alana Tomlin




The head of the table


During a dinner-time discussion about inter-faith ministers, I consider spilling the bottle of red wine over your shirt.

‘Imagine a mountain, with many different paths leading to the top. Some of the paths are so far apart, on opposite faces of the mountain, they forget that the other exists.’

In an attempt to respond to this statement, I choke on a piece of spaghetti. I pull it from my throat –

you look at me and frown. ‘Yet all of the paths lead to the same place, the same goal.’



I test the blocks with my little finger. The tower sways each time we exhale from the tension of the game. I decide to go for the middle block, on the second layer to the top. You try to put me off by poking my armpit and you laugh, showing your too-small teeth. I have never liked your teeth.

After three more turns, the tower falls.

We sit in separate armchairs, me by the window and you by the bookcase. Above you is a photograph of your father, speaking. He was a healer, and in his office at the bottom of the garden he kept a monkey who cleaned his shoes and told him when it had been too long since he had spent time with his children.




Alana Tomlin recently graduated from the English with Creative Writing BA at the University of Birmingham and now works in theatre. Her writing has appeared in Nine Arches Press, Under the Radar, Sabotage Reviews and in several University publications. Twitter: @alanatomlin.

Read More

David Callin




A Mobile for Katie

When you were little, before you had a room
of your own, in which to grow
cynical, and smart, and sometimes biting,
despite the heavy doses we applied
of Beatrix Potter, and a whole
menagerie of anthropomorphic
animals who behaved rather well,
however trying they found their circumstances,
your cot was in our room, and we suspended
a musical mobile above it: rabbits
that we would set a-running if you woke.
Sometimes I’d stir, and see your mother
at your side, in the chiaroscuro
of the nightlight, like a Leonardo
in muted crayon, smoky pinks and greens:
Madonna, child and quattrocento bunnies.




David Callin lives, if not quite at the back of beyond, certainly within hailing distance of it, in the Celtic archipelago. He has had poems in several magazines, including Other Poetry, Orbis and Envoi, and online in Snakeskin and Antiphon.

Read More

Janet Rogerson





Tooth taped to a note
re-negotiating the fee
PS are you real?


The new knives and forks
large and heavy in our hands
soon we won’t notice.


Warm spot on the couch
the dog’s uncharacteristic reserve
will give him away.


Summer evening
a perfume two decades old
has found me again.


Early evening
neon twenty-four hour sign
begins to flicker.


My son concentrates
face illuminated by
Nintendo DS.



Janet Rogerson‘s pamphlet A Bad Influence Girl is published by The Rialto. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Manchester.

Read More