Monday, July 28


by Josh Seigal

The stars fall from the sky at night.

Gérard walks the streets.

He hears no one’s name in God’s

cascade of judgment;

he measures his progress

by joining up the dustbins.

I once saw him pick up a

cup of coffee and drain

it on a street corner.

The trees extend their skeleton limbs,

as Gérard walks the streets.

Someone once loved him but

no one can remember her name.

He finds joy in the contours

of the faces of passing strangers.

He sits at the world’s breakfast

table each morning.

The sun paints its pastel

smudge across night’s canvas,

as Gérard walks the streets.

Josh Seigal studies philosophy at Univeristy College London.

Saturday, July 26

Fishy Story

by Bob Clay

It was still alive!

Startled I took the paper bag from under my arm and gripped it like a golf club, but the fish wriggled again, so hard it made me jump. I'm all for a fresh fish for dinner, but this fresh?

The paper fell away and I gripped harder. I'd swear the fish looked at me, a look of desperation and fear. Then something incredible happened, from it's sides, small hands emerged, tiny dark fingers that wrapped around mine as if trying to free itself from my death-grip. This was not a fish from some exotic ocean on the far side of the world. This was something from somewhere much, much further away.

Its eyes rolled toward me again and as well as the fear, I saw something else, something like pleading. I could feel the slender little fingers weakening, and its struggling becoming weaker.

I started running, down through alleyways, across an old allotment to burst out on the tow-path of a canal. I swung hard and high and threw the fish into the water. For a moment it lay on its side, and I felt a sudden deep sadness, but then it levelled up. From its head a large silvery red mane rose up, followed by a great feathery swirl that ran bright scarlet along the length of its back. I'm sure it looked at me for a second, then disappeared into the depths, a brilliant silvery red flash in the murky water.

Well my little friend, I don't know what you are, where you came from, or how you'll fare in the canal system of an industrial city. But it has to be better than a fishmonger's slab, or a paper bag under my arm.

Good luck.

Bob Clay lives in Cornwall, and claims there is an element of truth to this story....

Tuesday, July 22

Point of Balance

by Fiona Sinclair

Locked in a day of institutional order,
language reduced to acronym and cant,
we closed our circle against the frenzy of conspicuous
activity and planted nostalgia around that shabby table.

Time and place and understanding were aligned

again like a gymnastics display team.
Exhaustion was democratising, even the shyest
contributed to the blackboard humour.

Understanding that our actual absence
would rupture the school time table,
We holidayed on alternative afternoons,
giving ourselves a second wind for the last lesson.

Inevitably our point of balance teetered.
Even then some were planning their escape.
The ambitious slowly peeled off their disguise.
Politicians clustered like toadstools.

The rest of us succumbed to institutional moaning,
our banter was replaced by recreational slander.
The incorruptible went to earth,
encountered only at meetings or in corridors.

Our table was turned over to model teachers
who worked through lunch.

Saturday, July 19

The power to decide

by Avis Hickman

I am standing here at the window of this dismal sickroom, looking down at the children playing in the garden. The sounds of their laughter float up into this overheated bedroom – intrusive, jarring; full of life.

I don’t know how long I’ve been standing here – minutes yes, but not hours; there aren’t enough of those left. I ache to slow down time - extend these moments indefinitely. But I don’t want any more suffering.

I’ll have to tell them to be quiet, again; they have no concept of what is going on up here, and maybe that’s for the best. The harsh sound of laboured breathing competes with their laughter from below. It’s an uneasy amalgam, which adds to the sense of dread, bubbling just below the surface. Concentrating on practicalities, I’ve made sure the pain is arrested and soothed. In the end, this is the most important. The only thing left I can do.

Now, there seems not enough time left to say goodbye; I wish there were more. As the breathing slows and quietens, I feel a sudden surge of panic and want to call back my actions. I don’t want to be left bereft - an orphan. Turning my head, I watch as the seconds tick away, and I become the oldest generation.

I am still standing at the window, hypodermic in hand, when there is finally only the children’s laughter to be heard.

Avis Hickman-Gibb is a newly established writer, living in rural Suffolk, England with her husband, one son and two cats. She’s had stories published in Every Day Fiction, Twisted Tongue, The Pygmy Giant and Shine! You can find links to more of her writing here.

Tuesday, July 15

She walks in beauty of the night before

by Louise Halvardsson

She walks in beauty of the night before
wearing winter on the first day of spring
Straight out of bed with an aching head
wrapped his coat around her dress
and stuck her hands in gloves too big

She walks in beauty of the night before
unwashed hair slaps her face
distant traffic tickles her ears
It wasn't for him to take
it wasn't for him
did he even take it?

She walks in beauty of the night before
stops and checks her knickers in a public toilet
drops his coats and gloves too big
But him who made her smell
is left in bed and in her head

She walks in beauty of pleasure to come
shares an ice-cream with the sea gulls
but she can't eat away the taste
It wasn't for him to take
it wasn't for him
it didn't even hurt

She walks in beauty of something lost
carrying the memory of the night
her head is getting light
it wasn't for him to take
but he was there
and someone had to be the first.

Louise Halvardsson was born in Sweden in 1982 but moved to England in 2001 because she fell in love with Brighton.

Thursday, July 10

Glencoe Stone

by Gordon Christie

I picked up a stone, just a few inches across, which must have lain for millenia in the cold, clear (I've never seen clearer outdoors) burn which alternately flows and tumbles from
the falls at the head of Glencoe in Western Scotland, down towards the lochan. Until yesterday I had never been near that burn. Like most people I had stopped at the car parks and gazed in awe. Yesterday I walked the jumbled scree, tough grass, heather and occasional thistle patch that jostle for life, warmth and space there.

How the stone got there, one among millions, whether it has been moved by the force of water when the burn was in spate during stormy weather, whether it was part of a larger boulder split down and cracked by Nature, will never be told. It's entirely possible that it was deposited by a glacier during the last Ice Age.

What has it witnessed this humble stone? Has blood flowed over it in this, the Valley of Death? Did it "see" innocent families die from violence or cold when the Massacre took place? Like the glen itself, it tells no story. It is silent and in its own way, I think, majestic.

A tiny mountain.

I can't describe its colours adequately and the photo which I took doesn't really show them.

I thought I would keep it but it does not seem to "belong" here on Scotland's east coast, where I live. It is as much a part of Glencoe as the mountains themselves. It belongs in the fractured west where the bare bones of the Earth give scant sustenance to the sheep - descendants no doubt of those that were brought to this country a couple of hundred years ago, displacing the people during the "Highland Clearances". Descendants of those people are now scattered across the globe but when they see pictures of this ancient land of Scotland, many of them are still "called".

They may not return here, but this stone will return to where I found it.

I will take it there and think of the millions of other stones all over the world that have silently witnessed, and continue to witness, human cruelty.

Gordon Christie lives and works near Edinburgh, and writes because some people say that he can!

Sunday, July 6

All Solitude

by Sean Hewitt

Tonight it didn’t take much drink

Before the world started spinning.

Along with a pulsing headache

Came out words before time to think,

An uncontrollable grinning

At some blundering, drink-fuelled mistake

And out of the bar on the wet

Pavement, more come falling out

Of wide, dark, bouncer-guarded doors

All running just in time to get

The last train home, back about

Familiar rooms and messy floors.

On a building are words, bony

Above stark posters for strip-clubs

6.9 million people live

Alone in Britain. Are you lonely?

And as more come out of the pubs

Arm in arm, leaning in to give

One last goodnight kiss to new friends,

My eyes focus, the carousel

Stops. Those graffitied, scarring words

Have chiselled some self-blunted ends,

Shocked me into sobriety,

Left me stumbling across the curbs.

Sean Hewitt is a 17 year old poet from Cheshire who is currently studying A-Levels with aspirations to become a full-time writer post-university.