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6 HOW TO BE A CHINESE LANTERN Poem by S.A. Leavesley Illustration by Daria Skyrbchenko

8 THE WHITE FOX Short story by L P Lee Illustration by Vector That Fox

13 A SMALL WORLD Poem by Steven Pelcman

18 NEW LAND Short story by James Hatton Illustration by Bren Luke

24 VERNAL EQUILIBRIUM Poem by Steve Harrison Illustration by Thomas Pullin

26 THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF JANET CLARK Short story by C S Mee Illustration by Mirko Cresta

14 24 WEEKS Poem by Nicholas McGaughey Illustration by Aurélie Garnier

31 LUMINESCENT Poem by A.M. Kennedy

16 A COMMON MESSAGE Flash fiction by Ch ồ n L ườ i Illustration by Daniel Garcia

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Poem by Oeil Jumratsilpa Illustration by Jai Kamat

Short story by Hannah Thompson Illustration by Ashley Floréal



Short story by Rhys Timson Illustration by Nick Taylor


40 THE SHORTEST DAY Short story by Andrew Hanson Illustration by Burcin Pervin

Short story by Ethan Chapman Illustration by Jude Labuca

58 NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY Poem by Laboni Islam Illustration by Guillermo Ortego

60 LOST IN TRANSLATION Poem by Bria Purdy Illustration by Fabio Delvo

46 I KEEP A LITTLE LIGHT Poem by Jeremy Punter Illustration by Joe Gough

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L I G HT | Illu stration by Me neese Wall

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HOW TO BE A CHINESE LANTERN Poe m by S.A . Le ave sle y Illu stration by Dar ia Sk yrbche nko

Don’t wait for strangers’ hands to strike a flame from flinted stone. Let your own warmth fill life’s frame of flimsy paper. Carry soreness with a light heart through dark skies. Against cold nights, one bright star. Before that glow dies, spark another and another until those around you rise too, lifted upwards, onwards this lit flotilla of lanterns floating stronger, higher, freer.


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THE WHITE FOX Shor t stor y by L P L ee Illu stration by Vec tor That Fox

Five days have passed since I was a prisoner in those red brick walls, but every night I return there. In my night-time terrors I am back in the squalor of that cell, surrounded by anguished people, so cramped that you can barely sit comfortably, let alone lie down to sleep. Cells without heat in the harsh Seoul winters, or cool relief in the sweltering summers; breeding grounds for exhaustion, frostbite and death. During the night in these mountains, my spirit rises from my body hidden in the undergrowth, and floats back to Seodaemun prison to review its structure. Here is where the workshop is, where we produce clothes and paper. Here is the poplar, a mournful tree beside the execution hall, which prisoners cling to in their last haunted moments, weeping for a country lost. And here is a dark, long tunnel, leading out of the compound, along which the spent bodies are deported. Here is the cell, no larger than a standing coffin, where we are kept in isolation. And here is the box with spikes nailed into its sides, where we are forced to crouch, gasping as they kick and shake it. My cell mates say that hardship faced by the body is painful, but it’s preferable to the hardship of sharing names, facts and locations. That will only cause a deeper kind of damage; the kind that wears away bodies from the inside out. Here in the undergrowth I’m changing back into a human from an animal. In the secret enclosures of the mountains, my battered pelt turns back into human flesh, and my stooped back straightens. Awakening from dreams of Seodaemun, I push onwards on my way down south. Pine leaves crackle delicately beneath my feet, and the moon above is bright and fat. I’m heading south to Jeju island, to look for my baby sister. I haven’t seen her for two years. When a neighbour informed my family that our names were blacklisted, we made plans to escape to Jeju. We had distant relatives that would take us in and hide us. But the police arrived in the night, when we were sleeping, and rounded us all up. Everyone except for my sister. She knew how to hide when visitors arrived, how to curl up and not make a noise, until I would come to find her, to coax her out. She’ll be four years old now. Up ahead, through the trees, the moon casts its light over a running creature. A small, snow-white mammal, darting through the undergrowth. I glimpse it for only a moment, and it looks to me like a fox. Then it disappears. A golden glow seeps through the foliage. I follow it to find a hanok, nestled in the mountains. There’s a stone wall surrounding it, and a large wooden gate. Beside the gate is a stone lantern, an orange flame ablaze, and small statues of mythical creatures — a 8

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VERNAL EQUILIBRIUM Poem by Ste ve Har r ison Illu stration by Thoma s P ullin

It’s only a tilt a nudge on an axis the pendulum’s annual sway when this shire blends the floral spectrum from snowdrop white to daffodil yellow. It’s only a matter of degrees Mason marked in pagan precision awaiting the sunbeams to breach the carved calendars in slotted awakening. It’s only an increment of light to wake the north from hibernation into incubated growth. Redwing and fieldfare migrate aim for the changing Sun leaving space for swallow and house martin to keep the equilibrium and stop the planet toppling in this precarious exchange balancing their eggs new life.


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HALO Poe m by Oe il Jumratsilpa Illu stration by Jai Kamat

You see the halo when they come: Yellow, laced with dark magic, Their beauty a little crooked, A deer ready to leap, a lioness, her teeth bare. You see their hair: Long grass, creeping vines in an abandoned house, Or flames and smoke, a dance in the wind. They will smile, their laugh will fill your lungs, Their mind a galaxy, whirling ink and achingly bright, Captured and jigsawed: a modern fairy tale. Out of them pour notes, rich as butter, Splashes and strokes, a dream you’ve forgotten, Or a waking bell: words, like honey and thorn — And you’ll itch and your ribs will ache, your throat a screw. Some will find a spotlight their home, Some will come into your life, stay or go, Their halo, yellow and dark magic, Imprinted, You’ll know.


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I KEEP A LIT TLE LIGHT Poe m by Je re my P unte r Illu stration by Joe Gough

I keep a little light beneath the place where tears run dry, where ribs ache stiff with heaved breaths, where no has roots like cancer and the depths of a heart are an ocean’s. I keep a little light in the tingle of skin when touched, behind the white of a rolled-eye look, or in the gnaw of an idle lip, the nub of the bones that frame. I keep a little light. It’s love, burning your name.


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SHULA AND THE SUN Shor t stor y by Hannah Thompson Illu stration by A shle y Floréal

The sky was stormy that night as Shula walked towards the cliff path for the first time. The brambles surrounding the muddy track grew taller than her head and tore at her hands. The thistles caught on her dress and she trod in every puddle with her slippered feet. She was two when her parents died and she was sent to live with her withered aunt and brittle uncle. They had not been blessed with children and it grew inside them like weeds. Shula was too talkative, too curious and far too beautiful. But she belonged to them. She arrived in the moonlight, wrapped in blankets, with a warning; ‘Shula should not be in the sun. It does strange things to her.’ So she spent her days and years behind heavy curtains, cooking and cleaning as soon as she was tall enough to reach the stove. Her nights were spent sneaking out to play with imaginary pixies in the starlit garden. As she grew, so did her discontentment. She had no real friends and no company aside from her ageing aunt and uncle who grew more demanding by the day. She spent hours plotting how she could leave, but she had nothing and no idea what lay beyond the locked gates and high fences. When she peered from the upstairs windows, all she could see were fields and beyond that, cliffs, the grey sea and the old lighthouse. But one dark autumn night, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, the wind began to change. As she swept the front path and dreamt of escape, a piece of bright white paper caught her eye against the dark wood stain of the heavy gate. She twisted it from its hiding place below a hinge and balked when she saw her name written in block capitals. Her aunt had taught her to read so she could ‘make herself useful’ and write the household letters. She glanced behind her at the house. It was still. She tucked the note into her apron pocket and hurried back up the path to the shelter of the porch. She placed the broom carefully against the wall and pulled the note out. The paper was thick, slightly rough to the touch. The ink was jewel black and the writing wild. She gently unfolded the note. I’ve admired you from afar. That was all it said. No name or clue who had sent it. Shula turned it over in her hands as her mind raced. Who could have written it? She knew no one but her aunt and uncle, and had never been allowed to leave their house or garden. Was it even meant for her? She climbed into her cold bed that night and didn’t sleep a wink, the note clutched in her hand and her dark eyes wide. After that, the notes came once a week, telling her how lovely her long dark hair was, how they had never seen anyone like her. One day, the letter-writer asked her to write back. Shula didn’t sleep for days as she lay awake, clutching the notes and wondering what to do. It was a bitter night in January when she decided to sneak downstairs and steal the blue pen from her aunt’s bureau. She scrawled Who are you? at the bottom of the paper, then crept down the frozen path to the gate and wedged the note back in the gate. The next evening it was gone. 48

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LOST IN TRANSLATION Poe m by Br ia P urdy Illu stration by Fabio Delvo

Through the glass sit the kids struck dumb by the fluorescent light of late night TV repeats. They’ve seen this one, they’re sure, recognise the nameless nothingness of every frame played at the speed of a slow motion car chase. No-one’s winning. No-one moves to change the channel. They mash their rusty gums and don’t notice the moths nibbling on wispy gossip, threaded through straws meant for sharing. They sit alone, together in their numbness, toes wiggling in holey socks, flesh stretching like fresh water salmon. On the floor, backs curve in mimics of plastic spoons, the kids struck dumber by the flashing light of their lives.


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Popshot issue18 sample  

Our eighteenth issue comprises illustrated short stories, flash fiction and poetry celebrating illuminating experiences and enlightened idea...

Popshot issue18 sample  

Our eighteenth issue comprises illustrated short stories, flash fiction and poetry celebrating illuminating experiences and enlightened idea...