Riggwelter #12

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RIGGWELTER #12 AUGUST 2018 ed. Amy Kinsman

The following works are copyrighted to their listed authors Š2018. Riggwelter Press is copyrighted to Amy Kinsman Š2017.

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Foreword Cornfield, Lighthouse, Man Round Men, Slim Men Marriage After Sappho This Morning Paul McVeigh Liked Two of my Tweets Sanctuary Mirror Freedom of Movement Ancient Herstory Dystopia Things That Slip Through The Baleen Bound from the cave to the sea Temptation Arrives At Last In The Wolf’s Mouth White is the colour of something Anatomical Heart Pack Breccia Northern Lites Autophagia Lost Archive William Faulkner’s Cannibal Holocaust Skeleton Staff Astronaut she had worn the starmark since childhood Special Relativity The Bat and the Cactus Chalk Nature, Run Hometown cuckoos Contributors Acknowledgements

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Dear Readers, welcome to our twelfth issue. That’s right, you’ve had one entire year of Riggwelter – I hope it’s been a great ride for you. It’s certainly changed my life. Wonderfully enough, this issue is all about journeys: setting out, coming to an end and all of the weird and wonderful bits in the middle. These are not just geographical journeys but psychological and emotional ones too. What we find along the way is anyone’s guess. Some thankyous, as per usual, before we commence with the great work we have for you this August. Thank you to Maryam Hessavi and Deirdre Hines for joining our reviews team – please give them a very warm welcome to our community. They’re already doing some excellent work. Thank you to everyone who has helped Riggwelter on this year long journey: to everyone that encouraged me in setting this journal up; to everyone that has helped promote us on social media; to everyone that has submitted work or encouraged others to do so; to everyone that has read Riggwelter or recommended us to another; to everyone that nominated and voted for us at the Saboteur Awards; to Jack Little and S.A. Leavesley for coming aboard our reviews team; to everyone that’s given me advice or a second opinion; to Kate Garrett for giving me the editing bug over at Three Drops From A Cauldron. And as always, our sincerest thanks to you. It’s been one heck of a voyage and we’re not done. This is going to be the contemporary Odyssey. Buckle up. Here’s to an entire year of Riggwelter past – and here’s to the next year.

Amy Kinsman (Founding Editor)


Cornfield, Lighthouse, Man

Somewhere in the soul of Iowa there is a cornfield that sways on and on like a slow ocean, and in the middle of that field, in the breaths before a storm, a man who builds a stone lighthouse. His neighbors the farm over say he went crazy the day his wife left him ten years ago during a lightning storm. It matters little now the how or why it happened. She could have just as easily died from a heart attack coming home from the grocery store. A man with no purpose, a man with no spring, no planting, no water, no empty autumn husks, a man adrift without a tether. He stands out in the freezing mist, a keeper of corn and rain, and rock by rock, he builds a beacon to the sky, a lantern in the fog for coming back. Aden Thomas


Round Men, Slim Men

His hand didn’t sit right in hers. Or so she thought. Palms far too big and sweaty. Anxious to be held. So much so he’d crush hers when he did. Cumbersome fingers trying to cradle an egg shell. “I’m just trying to hold your hand,” he’d say. “Well you hold it too tight,” she’d say back. His body was too round for hers too. That was her conclusion. Not a brute of a man, but weighty nonetheless. When he held her she could feel all of him. All that he’d eaten in his thick stomach. Pressing against her like a pot of jelly, springing back with every jab and prod. “Don’t you want me to hold you?” he’d mumble, spread out on the linen. “No. Not if you hold me like that,” she’d bite back, rolling to her side. He was a Wednesday child, that was the problem. She’d heard it when she was little. Born on a Wednesday. Full of woe. Pain and misfortune trailing behind like a mangy dog. He carried it with him like a badge of honour. On his brow, in his shoulders, at the tip ends of his downturned lips. Burden so heavy, it curved his spine. Gave him bow legs. She was a Friday child. Opposite to all the melancholy that consumed him. Where he sighed, she laughed. Where he took, she gave. That’s what she understood. “Why do you believe in these tales?” he’d moan. “Well, why don’t you?” she’d snap. His brother fit her though. For an hour, maybe less, on a sticky Thursday afternoon in room 17 at Planation Inn off US-90. Bodies sweating into the sheets, skin caked in the Louisiana sun. He didn’t have a round stomach, or heavy hands. He was lean, fit. His


fingers slipped into her. And out. With honed practice. Deft, not cumbersome. Wouldn’t crack an egg shell. He didn’t hold her hand. Or her body after. He didn’t ask if he could. He existed around her. Left as quick as he came. She’d thought of it since the day she met him. At her own wedding. The Tuesday child in the corner. But it happened only once. Once being enough to consume her with enough guilt to prevent it from happening again. There’s no currency in perceived compatibility. No concrete slab of lasting pleasure. Of that she was sure. “Good day at work?” he asked, when she returned home. “Not really,” she replied, nauseous, aiming for the bathroom. Scrub at her flesh. His hand sat right in hers that night. Comforting and strong. Atoning for her own mistake. Unknown to him. It sat right on her cheek too, thumb stroking along her jaw, calluses scratching at the tan skin. She curled into his round body. Enveloped herself in its thickness, moulding to the jelly tight. Imprinting herself onto him. “I read into that fortune song you like today,” he said into her hair. “Oh,” she replied. “Turns out that the Wednesday child and Friday child used to be the other way around. Friday took the woe, Wednesday gave the love. Hope for me yet,” he told her, nose poking into her crown. She kissed at his neck. He held her tighter.

Emily Harrison


Marriage Maura Yzmore


After Sappho / fragment from last night I have never met an Adonis before, I am not sure where to put my hands, like the poses they made us do for school pictures. Longing for you, sister to put your hands around my waist as I wear your hand-me-down cardigan. I am becoming aware. My neck is not an open invitation waiting for a it is a blank page with crease marks from holding my head in unflattering positions. I am not flustered, I am angry at you for thinking “she wants to resurrect me� – I favour the boar. How dare you presume I am here to rend my dress and beat my breast you presume to rend my dress and beat my breast I am not sure where to put my hands. Katie Smart


This Morning Paul McVeigh Liked Two of my Tweets

It’s pointless trying to explain the craft of writing to someone who takes people’s kids away for a living. So I told Sarah that – maybe – she should concentrate on her job while I concentrate on mine. Oddly, my writing was what made me attractive to her in the first place. “I’ve bagged myself an author,” she purred, as I stroked her rib cage the morning after our first date. I was thinking at the time that it – or to be more precise she – might be too skinny for my tastes. But Sarah has many other qualities. Think I’ll try one of those Three Ginger drinks she bought. Might as well stay healthy. ***** At my desk, hot ginger steaming, imbibing Night at the Opera.

I'm in love with my car. Gotta feel for my automobile… Still in shock that Paul McVeigh just Liked two of my Tweets! Obviously texted Sarah with the news, but she claims to be “too busy” to read messages during “the working day”. A passive aggressive way of saying I should do more writing. Sarah has been slightly weird lately. One evening last week, having got back home, she asked how many words I’d written. That day. Obviously, I hadn’t counted. So what was I working on? Like I’d tell her that. Writers forever make that mistake. Regaling people with their current projects, then losing the will to finish them. “Can you give me a ballpark genre?” she asked. “Flash fiction.” “Like 300 words? I can write that in 15 minutes if I’m under the cosh.” *****


Immediately afterwards, I tweeted – “Paul McVeigh just Liked two of my Tweets” (imagining that might elicit numero three). Then it struck me, he might think I’m taking the piss. So I deleted it. Of course, he’ll know I mentioned him in a conversation and won’t be able to find it. There’s a lesson here somewhere. God knows what. ***** Apropos of nothing, just spent 20 minutes reading about the Duchess of Cambridge appearing on the cover of Vogue. The fantastic thing about being a writer. Everything you do is research. My life is my research. Tell that to Sarah! She’s obsessed by this mother and her daughters on the verge of becoming homeless. She told me that her team wants mum to keep her children (“always the plan”). Complete bollocks! The more kids they confiscate, the better their stats. “Spare me the details!” I said. “They’re confidential.” ***** One Tweet that Paul McVeigh Liked was about my new musical. Called Queen but won’t feature their songs – how cool is that? It’s early doors (Gary’s writing the music – don’t hold your breath!). It’s high concept… Paul McVeigh got so much acclaim for his novel (I downloaded a sample on my Kindle but didn’t make it past the third paragraph – not my thing). A Like from him is a nod through the crowded street from one writer to another. Two Likes is acceptance into the hallowed inner circle, a tacit admission that where he goes I follow. Talking of followers, he’s got twelve and a half thousand! One or two must be looking for a high concept musical about a legendary rock band. Just messaged


@paul_mc_veigh directly saying that Tweet was worth an RT, surely! Nothing yet, watch this space. ***** Last night Sarah objected to my booking onto an Exciting Treatments workshop, because: Saturday is one of two days we spend together each week (to which I replied, “what about Sunday?” (to which she replied, “I included that!”)); In order for a course on treatments to be vaguely useful, I have to be working on a film to write a treatment about. “You so don’t understand the writer’s mise-en-scène,” I said. “You start with a logline, before moving to an outline, which then becomes a treatment. Only then can you write the movie! The treatment is the Chrysalis before the butterfly…” To which she replied that she wished I’d turn into a butterfly. Then at least she could let me out the window. Where to begin with that? She’s got an issue with supporting us both on her salary. And about the news –

our news – which she told me two weeks ago. I keep forgetting about it and she keeps reminding me, saying that’s why she’s feeling “extra tired”, etc (yawn!). So I strategically cancelled my place on Exciting Treatments (got a full refund) and booked onto

Networking with Agents instead. ***** Haven’t written for three days. Bit of a porn fest. Sarah’s taken A/L and is being pampered by her mother in Hastings. I phoned last night and said Paul McVeigh’s a serious published writer, winning awards left right and centre. His two Likes bode well for my career.


“What career?” she said? “You’re not engaging with any real issues. You haven’t got an original thought in your body.” “Whoa!” I said. “I’m teeming with original thoughts.” “Alright, name one.” “Okay… I’ve got this theory that the lyrics of Freddie Mercury have been subtly shaping my personality for years. My love of bicycle races – opera, fast cars. Even my taste in women! A drip, drip effect.” “You’re a fucking drip,” she said. “And I’m leaving you.” “Great. So I won’t have to listen to you banging on about ruining people’s lives. At least I’m doing something important here.” ***** The networking event was amazing. Did well to get there, all things considered. Met this young agent, Alice Penhaligon – ‘up and coming’ – said she’d love to read my novel. “Hold fire for a couple of months,” I said. I didn’t mention that it’s in outline form – one line more than outline if I’m honest. “Surely, I’ll wait” Alice replied. Lovely soft Irish accent. Things really have reached a pretty pass. Sarah running off with my unborn child (how could she say I don’t have feelings about that? – she is so irrational!). Got to say, though, meeting Alice P might just be the kick up the proverbial I needed.

James Woolf


Sanctuary Mirror

There’s a mirror perched in the corner, an innocent looking glass: one I should have watched for, but haven’t for the best part of my life. Bless whoever placed her here, catching me so unaware in her oval, compact gleam. The self-squares of mosaic set around her border – fanciful. She makes up what’s in front of her – pearly light, the shell-like pinkness of the setting, trails of foliage and on the pool’s pine-cladding – a curvy mermaid figurine of clay. I gasp at someone else she’s caught there, naked from the water, in a net of solitude – gleaming as if come down from the moon. How can she be so? Beautiful – the utter roundness of breasts and belly, the dark contrast of her wet wave of hair.


Expanse of back and shoulders turns towards this cameo, turning into me; a moment caught as mermaid emerging out of some dark cave. Susan Taylor


Freedom of Movement

The recumbent bicycle mounted on the wall of the museum’s fifth floor is not behind glass. Neither for that matter am I, though I’m not at liberty. From here I see the newfangled thing out of the corner of my eye: Charles Mochet’s Velo-Velocar invented Paris, 1932. Obviously, I don’t turn my head, but I hear things, see things, I, Bodhisattva Weituo, protector. Palms pressed together, high on my plinth, I look down through the central atrium to the balcony of the floor below, where the café is. I watch over the comings and goings, listen in on conversations. People talk about the exhibits less than you might think, but now and again they do. I like it best when they talk about the Velo-Velocar. A wonderful machine. Useful. According to the sign attached to my plinth, bodhisattvas are beings who have chosen compassionately to remain on this earth, guiding others toward enlightenment. Which is about as easy as it sounds. I watch from up here as people reach unwisely for each other’s hands across the café’s tables, or utter quiet words that land like fists. I watch as keys are lost amongst the clutter of discarded cups and napkins, as food is left unfinished. Unappreciated. This morning I saw a young woman answer her phone, listen for a moment then flee, leaving half a slice of lemon drizzle cake uneaten on her plate. She didn’t even finish the icing. I see it all. I can’t help. I’m tired. Every morning the baker arrives at six. I don’t remember now why I first noticed her, how she came to stand out from the rest. But she did. She does. She has a way of crossing the floor first thing, not fast but purposeful, taking her coat off as she goes. Just before opening time she reappears with flour on her apron and dots of pink on her cheeks, to


arrange cakes and biscuits in rows behind the counter. Sometimes she exchanges a word or two with one of the café staff. I like it when she does this. I like to see her laugh. She has a lover. A lover. Even the word sets something vibrating in my bowels, my spine a plucked string. The lover is an ordinary-looking Polish man who works Wednesday to Sunday in the café. Sometimes they manage to synchronise their breaks. Then they stand together with their hands on the railing, looking down into the atrium – that great emptiness – her lately saying you can’t leave and him saying, perhaps I must. Her saying you’ve been here years they can’t make you and him saying, yes, they can. Her saying where would you even go, both your parents dead, no house to live in, no work there, him giving that shrug not angry only bewildered. I see it all. I can’t help. Truth is I’ve had enough. I’ve been here since lunch time, wondering what to do, hands pressed together and the usual smile playing round my lips. Now the museum is closed. I watch the security guard make his final round and listen for the click of the side door as he leaves, then I blink, wiggle my fingers, and slowly climb down off my plinth. Everything about me aches. I’m so stiff I almost topple over as I go along the balcony past typewriters and other engines, past a giant thermometer, past collections of shells, corals and sponges. My arms feel funny, hanging by my sides. I let them swing. The movement seems extravagant, like showing off, though there’s no one here to see. And here’s the Velo-Velocar, high on the wall. It doesn’t look comfortable, hard leather seat and wheels made of wood, no give in them, but that’s just part of the fun.


Luckily, I’m tall: so tall, in fact, that back in China they built a special kiln to fire me in. I lift the thing down easily under one arm, hoik up my robes and step on. In my day it was horses, which stay upright on their own, so I’m not used to this careening from side to side. Wobbling all over the place I narrowly miss a glass case full of transit theodolites as I swing round the end of the gallery and start back up the other side. Exhibits flash past: Asklepios, Greek god of medicine; Clarity; Hercules; a citizen of Oxyrhynchus in his toga; John Logie Baird; Vishnu; a Heavenly Beauty (nameless); various Buddhas. I’m getting the hang of it now, skidding past the toothy big cat skeletons at the far end and back towards my starting place. There’s an ancient wooden door going nowhere, rare crystals from the slopes of Vesuvius, and an empty plinth: mine. I keep going, faster and faster. Typewriters again. Shells. Transit. Clarity. Beauty. Skeleton. Door. Circumambulating really. Or whatever you call circumambulating when you do it on a bicycle. The world expands. Centuries blur. Air rushes past my face. I could do anything. Go anywhere.

The baker arrives at six. Brings the cold morning with her, in her clothes and hair. Buses rumble past. Shoes tap. She crosses the floor, taking off her coat. My palms are pressed together. Usual smile. Calf muscles a pleasant ache. Just before opening time, she’s back. Apron. Flour. Lover. He’s here early. They stand together looking into nothing: the atrium. Her saying don’t leave. Him saying, I must.


You’d have to call it love. They go on, round and round. There isn’t any answer, or if there is they haven’t found it. I, Bodhisattva Weituo, protector, watch from my plinth. The café’s empty tables are before me, the Velo-Velocar returned to the corner of my eye. I see it all. I can’t help. Far below, on the ground floor, the museum’s doors open. Unenlightened beings pour in from the sunlit street, shining.

Sarah Whiteside


Ancient Herstory

Once I built a city on a hillside, a city that turned into an empire for you. Overtaken by your eyes, burning like Rome, our walls began to break, foundation reluctant fodder— seedlings, neo-nations. We recall our past empires for their crests but too often their denouements, the legacies they leave. On the remains of a hillside where I built a city that turned into an empire, a desiccated sundial calculates the altitude and azimuth of our tourniquet sun: and I am nothing. Matthew Laverty


Dystopia Pauline McCarthy


Things That Slip Through The Baleen

Krill, of course, minute shrimps and plankton, fry by the shoalful, small crustaceans. Micro beads from body scrubs, toothpaste, facial washes, flushed into drains, rivers, out through estuaries. The polythene straps from four packs, PVC shrink wrap, strips from polyethylene carrier bags. Fishing line, lures, floats, the bits of nets that break in the struggle, in their squares and hexagons. Parts of cars, specifically an engine cover, which might have been swallowed by a sperm whale, rather than sucked into the stomach of a baleen whale – but must we split hairs? Yoghurt pots, express coffee lids, snack bar wrappers, the sole of a shoe. The parts of us we’re finished with: nail clippings cut hair, hard skin from our heels, polyps from our tongues. It’s like my body, piece by piece, and all the pieces of all the bodies of all the people who eat. We don’t mean to, we don’t want to fill whales’ stomachs, to filter through their combs, to hamper their digestion, to stop them living, but we are, we do, we slip another fragment through. We like things clean, hermetically sealed, to slit as we open to see the contents, the contents, like we took the blubber and the oil, now we’re giving up replacements,


filling their body parts with longer lasting food, with bottles from our water. Tears everywhere. Simon Williams



They leaned on the seawall, gentle Seto Inland Sea waves lapping the little strip of island shore below. It was only about six feet from the waterline to the wall, the sand about that far down. Tim broke their reverie: “Look, there’s a naked girl down there. I think she’s dead.” Monica, accustomed to Tim’s pareidolia, said, “Where?” and began scanning the sand for deathly configurations. “Right down there,” Tim said, pointing. “Just above where the waves are reaching. Her arms are tied behind her back. She probably drowned, but maybe somebody killed her and heaved her off the bridge into the sea. Or maybe she was half dead and then drowned.” “That’s sick, why are you saying that?” “Really, look. I think she’s bleeding from her mouth, and she’s covered in sores. Probably bedsores from being held captive in some basement dungeon for months, violated over and over.” “Okay, stop,” Monica said, “I mean it. Wait, that? I think I see it. What is it, anyway? A shell and some rocks with seaweed wrapped around it?” “It’s a dead girl, I’m telling you. Look.” She looked away. “I really don’t like the way your mind works sometimes. That’s a sick image.” She looked back. “It really does look like a woman’s body, though, curled up into the fetal position and half buried in the sand. Maybe it’s one of those little action figures, those anime thingies you get in the little plastic bubbles from vending machines.”


“Maybe our perception is skewed and the sand is really half a mile down.” “It’s your imagination is what it is. I don’t like it.” “Let’s go see what it is.” There were concrete steps leading down to the water. They took off their shoes and made their way down, standing for a minute on the bottom step in inch-deep water. Then they stepped to the right and down onto the sand. It formed a hard, salted crust that angled sharply up out of the sea. The tide was coming in, or maybe it was just the petered wake of a passing ship, but the line of washed up detritus in which Tim had first perceived the dead girl was now threatened by a tiny swash. He quickened his pace, walking ahead of Monica, thinking he probably had constructed the bound girl with his mind. He saw faces and figures, human and otherwise, in everything, all the time, but didn’t that make it all the more important to find her? What if this fresh assault from the sea obliterated her? Anything—nudge to a shell, twist of a strand of seaweed—could do it. Even this new angle, this shifted perspective, threatened her. Up the beach, a plastic bottle sporting a blue fez rolled in the weak surf, like it was trying to get comfortable in an unfamiliar bed, it’s label half peeled and flapping on the sand, like it couldn’t decide if it was hot or cold. He knew if he reached the bottle without seeing the girl, he’d gone too far. A rock and a clump of seaweed formed an eye-patched pirate; two stones and a red bottle cap, a clown. Then he came upon what had to be her. He stopped and looked closer. Then he bent at the waist and really looked. It was a plastic model of a naked girl in a classic kinbaku pose—on her side, knees drawn, toes of one foot pointed, jute rope crisscrossed tightly around ludicrously


large, distended breasts, up and around her neck, across her arms, and finally securing her wrists behind her back. It wasn’t blood around her mouth, but a garish smear of lipstick. Her eyes lidded, she was probably not meant to be dead, but rather exhausted from her ordeal, passed out on the tatami, head resting on a thick spray of glossy black hair. Somehow, she’d made it here, dropped on the sand or tossed from the seawall. More likely she’d floated across the sea to wash up on this little beach after being tossed from a fishing boat, ferry, or tug, or dropped by a motorist, cyclist, pedestrian off one of the many high bridges traversing the sea from Onomichi to Imabari, island to island to island. He picked her up and plucked off a strand of seaweed encircling her neck like a noose. Patches of skin were rubbed raw, discolored, from the sand and the surf and the sun, browned like bedsores or bruises, splotched like some kind of biblical pox. He showed the figurine to Monica. “It’s a naked girl, all tied up Japanese bondage style.” “So you did see it,” she said. “That’s sick you saw that.” “Why is that sick? I just saw it.” “But you knew exactly what it was. From up there. You saw it.” “That just means I’m observant.” “Whatever you want to think, but you saw it. You knew what it was.” “I thought—I didn’t know.” “Don’t get any ideas.” “I don’t want to tie you up. I want to set you free. I freed her. I’d cut these ropes off her if they weren’t just molded, painted plastic.”


Tim put the bound, naked girl in the water, swished her around, washed off the remaining seaweed and sand. “Are you taking it?” Monica asked him. “I guess I am,” he said. “Why?” “What are you going to do with it?” “I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t just leave her here, though.” “Put her in that cigar box back home with the pornographic playing cards and the bamboo naked lady earwax cleaner? How free is that?” He cupped the bound girl in his palm, cradling her close to his thigh, away from Monica. They stood in the gentle surf and looked out at the sea. They didn’t speak for a long time. The sun was setting, the sky turning red. Tim reached for Monica’s hand. “I know,” he said. “It’s just that there’s so much plastic trash in the sea.”

Jeff Nazzaro


from the cave to the sea Andrea Robinson


Temptation Arrives At Last

Her fingers caressed the new born walls while he slid her skin off, Silk stockings lie on the floor like snake skin, Church bells chimed, the picture of this children remained standing. The emerald-eyed serpent spoke. Eat the fruit, Sit in Satan’s lap and stay as long as you like. God is watching. Christina Kosch


In The Wolf’s Mouth

It holds me by the scruff, quite tenderly, its lips stretched over its teeth to keep from breaking the soft skin of my neck. It will not taste blood as its hauls me, lumberingly, to its dark den and sets me down within. And now I curl by its flank and feel its heat emerge progressively through the mottled fur, touching my spine so that the hairs lie flat. I bask and blossom under its lurid eyes and my nostrils are stretched by the scent of carrion. The smooth pile of bones in the corner is lustrous by moonlight. Kitty Coles


White is the colour of something

We step out as dusk falls. It is my fault we are late. We check the perimeters of our land daily. My fingers brush the dogs’ collars in my pocket. I couldn’t throw them away and you haven’t found them. The ground crunches with skeletons of leaves. I have Achromatopsia and my world is black, white and grey. You say that white is not a colour, whilst marvelling at a molten sky, a turquoise dawn. Once I would have told you that sunlight looks white but it’s all the colours. Visible only as a rainbow when coerced to bend. The things that reveal themselves when forced! The farm was your idea. It caught me. We don’t need anyone, you said. I wanted to feel it too, thinking I loved you. You disclosed your true self slowly. I should have seen it coming. First the electricity went. The aquarium stopped working and the fish died. You threw peanuts in your mouth, watching. Better than TV, you said. Then the petrol pumps ran dry. We haven’t driven in a while. The water company switched us off. Torrent to trickle. Our personal supply dwindled until you slaughtered the cattle. Survival is about priorities, I know. I can’t forget. There isn’t room for sympathy or sorrow. You no longer have to pretend to feel. We are knotted together, jostling for space and competing for light. I tried to stop the dogs from starving. Fed them food in secret. You slung them up by their hind legs from the outbuilding ceiling and pressed the knife into my hands. They nibbled my ears with the kisses I had taught them. I dragged the teeth of the knife (you could have made it quicker, made it sharper) across their skin. I’m sorry. You pinned their eyelids open. They watched me, a monster in the pale oval of their eyes. Indistinguishable in the dark pools of betrayal. I decided.


I am alone in the forest now. You wanted to try a different route. You’d catch up. We are the perfect survivors. You the prepper and me the adapter. But food is scarce. Water too. I sense the way you look at me like prey. It’s about priorities. I know you. I’m good at adapting. I’ve been changing. I’ve siphoned petrol and water but you haven’t noticed. You haven’t truly seen me for a while, if you ever did. My eyes strengthen as the light dips. Along with many things, you don’t know this. I am full of surprises. A twig snaps and the silence loads you in it. When one sense diminishes another deepens. Without torchlight you’ll struggle. My eyes pick out the details of the branches and the leaves etched against the silver sky. An owl watches. My fingers find the blunted knife. I wait. You move, a fatal miscalculation. I am faster than you’d imagine. Preparation has made me stronger. The colour of your teeth as you struggle. Your eyes as they widen.

Hannah Persaud


Anatomical Heart Marija Smits



Undomesticated goddesses, we dictate the ebb and flow of rhythms that beat against barred premises. This month a discord of clouds obliterates stars as we congregate, a self-selected coven. No familiars for us: no magic mirror to affirm our adolescent glory, no magic boots to extend our native beauty. No need for stealth. Flashing amber lights reflect our own, a glint of warning in the darkness. Packed together we prowl, strength in numbers against our victims. Padding pavements, we empower ourselves in gaggles and shrieks along happy hour mile. We will leap to our own defence. Nikki Fine



Charita acclimatised quickly to lying awake at night, staring at the stars Orion plastered on their low stippled ceiling. There's less time in the day to think, so much is spent on wondering if she'd closed the fridge or trying to escape that dull, constant headache. Gurdeep breathed deeply, every exhalation celebrating she'd made it through another day. This breathing was fake, too even and not enough hairy gargle. "I've decided not to tell them", she said. "Hmmm, risky. " He rolled over to lean his head on her good shoulder. "My cousin Manny texted, he'll be on the grading-panel. We let them know, it'll be all over Birmingham in minutes, we'll be knee-deep in aunties and rajma." "I like rajma." "Ok, think about when I told them I was marrying a grumpy Sikh." He grunted and shook his head. "You want the drama again? But with home-made remedies? You hate turmeric milk." Gurdeep rubbed his wide forehead against the tense muscles in her neck. She blew into his ear to extract his rumbly chuckle. "I can do one thing at a time right now. Black-belt first, then everything else. Third time lucky, right?" "Let's just sleep now." Orion placed those stars his first year of primary school, in newly discovered triangles and rectangles and one wobbly circle. Some fell down, some stopped shining. But the imperfections didn't detract from the effort.


At Rednal community centre, sleekly-bobbed Sharon tied on her red-striped brown belt as Charita burst through the changing-room door. They'd met on their first day at Butterfly nursery and supported each other with Wispas and samosas through three weddings, five managers and now, frontal lobe glioblastoma. "Hey! I didn't expect you to be here tonight." Sharon leaned forward, Charita waved her left-hand, still retrieving her breath. "Let me get you some water." Between sips, Charita said, "Grading's next week. Need the practice." "But your operation's this month. You can grade next year." Charita held the cool plastic cup against her thin cheek. "What if there's no next year?" They sat amongst rumpled clothes and grubby wooden lockers. Charita stared at a pencilled line of graffiti explaining Gala Bingo sucked. Sharon said softly, "You're going to ace it."

On grading day, Charita went back into their terracotta-brick terraced house three times. Once for her phone, one for a hair tie, once to lean her sweaty forehead against the cool back-garden window as the nausea receded. Orion parked his green bicycle on their strip of patio, Opal abandoned her Paw Patrol scooter under the peach tree. The runner beans flowered, the orange gerber daisies quivered in a lurking breeze. Invisible forces could destroy at any time. Faint shrieks drifted from the kid's bedroom where Gurdeep's willowy cousin Jasminder let the children win at Uno. These things she would miss. Careful hands rubbed at the recurrent knot under her right shoulder-blade. "Rednal Hill instead?" "I want to do it, Gurdeep. I just... need a minute."


"We get there through the hills then, the scenic route?" Rednal Hill, layers of volcanic grit, clay and breccia, broken rock reformed stronger. As she pushed back against the sturdy support, her left-side muscles responded vigorously, the right-side lagged. "The scenic route sounds great."

Longridge Dojo, twice the size of Rednal community centre, wooden-floored, yellow brick walls, clean-smelling. She paid the ÂŁ50 for grading in cash. The leader of the panel, the bald-headed big-shot from Northampton, smirked and said, "I like a woman who's prepared." Four nervous hopefuls spread along the room, like mustard seeds popping on a hot pan. No-one made eye-contact as they stretched tight limbs or practised snatches of their favourite kata.

Charita waved at wiry, mahogany-skinned Pete from the

Wolverhampton Dojo, trekked over to where Sharon laid out her gumshield and red mitts next to her purple gym-bag. They exchanged half-smiles, murmured good wishes. The rest of the panel sat in their chairs, big-armed, squinting Manny and square-faced, fidgety Vera. A pile of plastic-wrapped, desperately-craved black-belts at their feet. BigShot Sensei Dave Perry called, "Line-up!" in a two-packs-a-day rumble, and they journeyed to their places across a widening floor. Pete stood to the left, going for his second dan, the rest aligned to the right. The panel rose and the aspirants bowed. Sensei Perry shouted, "Get ready!" They prepared for the first round, the basics. In the Shotokan style, inward and outward calmness is key. He commanded 'low block', they dropped into front stance, straight back leg, front leg bent over the toes. It should be solid, unmoveable. Clay and grit, layers of rock


reformed stronger. She ground her feet into the floor, wobbly right leg straightened by force of will. She marched with the group, blocked and punched. Her left arm thrust through the air, her right arm see-sawed. In grading, the next move was the most important. She forced the mis-steps away. Two rounds left. Sharon and Charita were partnered for ippon kumite, sparring. Sharon's designated attacker first, stepping forward with a powerful straight punch, something they'd practised in class until it was automatic. Charita usually countered with a potent rising block, dropping into front stance then sweeping into a left reverse strike. Today, she side-stepped, circling her right-hand in a gentler motion. Inside-out block, redirecting rather than meeting force with force. Something she'd learnt. Sharon raised spiky eye-brows, moved back for her next panel-decided attack. Ippon flowed over her in a flurry of punches and blocks. One round left. She'd dreaded kata most, patterns of half-remembered movements, as many as the panel demanded. Sensei Perry called "Heian Shodan,� she circled her arms to ready herself, moved into a lower block to the left. A pebble of metallic bile surfaced under her ribs, she focused on breathing, staying upright. On Rednal Hill, an aubergine-skin haze floated over the city, the air was perfumed by scrubby, hard-working grass. Fresh and clean, so different from the disinfectant-soaked hospital waiting-rooms, those fake linocovered chairs that had no comfortable angles. The group shouted kiai, the spirit shout, and the grading finished.

In the pre-assessment clinic, waiting for the pre-op tests, Charita returned to this moment. Captive, trembling, focused on one thing. They called out Pete's name on her left, then Claire's on her right. She'd sunk into acrid disappointment, remembered they


called names alphabetically and she still had a chance. Sensei Perry stood in front of her, a lump of solid tissue. "We look for spirit in the sparring, you don't have to win. You've definitely got that."

She waited for them to call her name.

Anita Goveas


Northern Lites

Evelyn took hold of the event horizon and shook it until she had loosened the moon enough to throw it on the bonfire. It sizzled for a bit before turning the colour of a toffee apple. She stuck that onto the sky as a fridge magnet then listened as the galaxy complained while the night filled with the scent of burnt sugar. Soon all the stars leant over for a better look. Put it down before you break it, her mum yelled. Now, please. Don't make

me come out there. She hung bright in the frame of the bedroom window and blew out a stream of smoke before launching the dead cigarette in a glowing arc that was both gorgeous and desperate. Al McClimens



He was a lone man, propped at a bar, implying journeys done, journeys to come. You know, the way these short stories often start. He had gambled. And as sure as the sun, his predictions were looking good until they weren’t. If he wasn’t already well aware, this droll predicament would have let him know he was definitely, unquestionably in one of those such stories. He began his waiting patiently for the action to start, as it always did. A mysterious woman may enter, sheltering from an unexpected rain storm, or the mysterious woman may be the sole member of the bar staff and there isn’t a rain storm at all. The woman-prompted storyline was preferable to our hero; a guy’s-guy, but not a

guy’s-guy, if you know what I mean. But if a man entered with malicious intent, either thinly or thickly disguised, he could deal with that. Deals, dealing and dealers. It’s all slapped on like dollar store concealer over a scar. Full of superstition and other necessary hang-ups, he touched wood and called for a little service around here. “GNARGNARGNARGNARGNARGNARGNAR.” He couldn’t see the source of the unsettling sound. Enough to put anyone on edge, and a man in a story like this to touch his gun. Still there, pointing in the same direction as his gonads. “GNAR. GNAR. GNAR.” With great inevitability she appeared, expectedly unexpected. A troubling scene of a human. Where there was once, in all probability, a left arm was nothing; it was hard even


to see where it had made a union with torso in the first place. More absence could be quickly noted. She walked over the varied selection of bourbons and took a bite from the first bottle using the one half of face she had left, shards spewing out the empty side but seemingly never hitting the floor. The liquor, merely a puddle of light, hovered a while, thinning out as if controlled by a 90s photo editing package. “You’re curious.” “You noticed.” “I’m perceptive like GNARGNARGNAR.” And so she sets to work on the other arm, while still crunching remaining glass shards. Ravenous. “Does it, you know, hur...” “Of course not. This is not flesh and bone. This is the story.” “Right... What’s with the noises?” “You mean GNARGNARGNARGNARGNARGNARGNAR?” “The very same.” “When a story eats itself, it’s a little bit like Choose Your Own Adventure, only the only thing you get to choose is the sound effects. Realism is not compulsory. But you know this.” “So why am I not involved?” “You are eating your own arm, sir.” “So I am. ARJARJARJARJARJ.” “Oh, that’s a new one.”


“Yeah, it seems like I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life, yet it’s all so familiARJARJARJARJARJ.” In the midst of chowing down on the sense of reality he had been written into, he remembered where he was and what it was all about. He always remembers eventually. The delay is part of the fun; you hang in there waiting for it happen, for that one cliché that tips it back into the void, the practical madness of the feast. The suspense used to last, what? The entrance of the second lone wo/man maybe? But now it hardly waits at all. “You’ve been away too long. These stories don’t get published as often as they used to, but the lonely boys, they still love the set-up. Classic. GNAR. GNAR. GNAR. We used to be characters but now we’re in the GNARARRAARARAGNAR recycling business. Saves storage space.” “ARJARJ. The internet is only so ARJARJARJ big I suppose. We gotta ARJARJARJARJ streamline the whole industry.” “Tastes of GNARGNAR day-old water, I find.” “ARJARJARJARJARJARJ.” “NGNARGNARoble, I’m sure. You never were a gNARGNAGNARourmet.” The dialogue disappeared just there. Their retreating mouths, now a pathetic parody of biological matter, still hoovering up vocabulary, tired concepts and bits of dusty scenery surprisingly efficiently. Silences tend not to be uncomfortably worn in these stories, so it’s really no loss to speak of.


The story hung on as long as it could against the onslaught. It took the pair around 12 minutes to eat the room, themselves, the lingering sense they had ever been there. Until next time.

Gary W. Hartley


Lost Archive Fabio Sassi


William Faulkner’s Cannibal Holocaust

June 1933 Faulkner was already three drinks in by ten. It didn’t matter; he could write under any influence. Especially the swill they were paying him to write. Dialogue polishes. None of them were any good, except Hecht; that bastard was alright, but he couldn’t hold his liquor for a damn. Faulkner hit the carriage return on his typewriter and examined the last few sentences. Pure Goddamned trash. He ripped the page from the teeth of the machine, crumpled it into a ball, and flung it toward the waste paper bin in the corner of the room. He suddenly felt as if his trailer was too small. The walls seemed to close in on him. Outside, the lot was bustling with all manner of people. A troupe decked out in Roman era garb was due to murder Caesar after lunch, but before that would enjoy each other’s company while eating ten cent burgers in the commissary. Secretaries scuttled around with the latest script notes, and Pages sprinted to deliver messages. Producers smoked fine cigars and milled around for the latest starlets or pages to bed. Faulkner lit a cigarette and sat at the table just outside of his trailer. “I need the money.” It was his mantra. Every time the walls closed in, every time he read the notes from his executive contact, every time his agent called. They had him working on a b-picture, though they wouldn’t call it that. “It’s in The South,” Hubbard, the producer, would say “That’s your bag.” Faulkner killed his drink.


Yes. The South was his. He shook the memory from his mind and freshened his drink. Inside, he sat back down at the typewriter, but his eyes wandered around the room until it settled on a stack of paperback books he’d brought with him. On the top was his dogeared copy of “Heart of Darkness.” A Masterpiece. That’s what he should be writing.

“You want to do what?” Faulkner imagined his agent had almost choked on the tip of his cigarette holder. “I want off this picture.” “We’ve been over this.” “I don’t care what it takes.” His agent sighed. This was a conversation they’d had frequently. Faulkner would want to quit, and his agent would provide all of the reasons for him not to do so. A role call of Dead Presidents. Finally, Faulkner would acquiesce and go back to writing. “Fine, what would you do if I could get you off the picture?” Faulkner paused. This was new. “Uh, well,” he stammered, “I’d want to adapt ‘Heart of Darkness.’” The receiver went silent in Faulkner’s ear. He didn’t know whether his agent was covering the mouth piece with his hand and hurling obscenities against his office wall, or if he was crying. Faulkner felt like a child who’d broken so many rules he’d finally pushed a parent past the breaking point. Eventually, his agent came back on the line.


“I’ll see what I can do.” The dial tone answered Faulkner’s next question. He hung up the phone and stared at it like it was a wretched thing. The bottle of whiskey was emptied within the next few minutes and all of Faulkner’s guilt and rage dissolved. He didn’t know how much time had elapsed when he awoke. He was still in his chair. His recollections were hazy, but he remembered a dream in which he and his dog were hunting an ancient bear. He scribbled down some notes, when the phone rang. “I had to call in every marker, but you can do it.” “Do what?” Faulkner didn’t know what his agent was talking about. “Do me a favor, lay off the booze for a little; you need to dry out. I got you off the picture and on to ‘Heart of Darkness.’” Faulkner’s chest felt like it was in a vice. “Thank you,” was all he managed. “Just write it.”


That’s as far as Faulkner had gotten. The fear didn’t take hold, at least, not right away. He stared at those words for hours. He mouthed them while his fingers rested on the keys. Reaching for his glass, he didn’t realize it contained no whiskey until he’d sucked at the rim and tilted it until it was almost vertical. The sound of it breaking against the wall did little to enhance his mood.


Faulkner rummaged through the shelves, in the closet, anywhere, until he found a bottle still possessing the elixir. He took it to the bathroom, uncorked it, and climbed into the tub.


The words haunted him. Toyed with him. Taunted him. He made anagrams of them. Misshaped Tusk. Aphids Muskets. Shakiest Dumps. Head Kiss Stumps. Shamed Skit Pus. Death Skips Sum.

INT. - BATHROOM William Faulkner sits in a bathtub trying to adapt Heart of Darkness... William Faulkner sits in a bathtub trying to adapt Heart of Darkness... William Faulkner sits in a bathtub trying to adapt Heart of Darkness... William Faulkner sits in a bathtub trying to adapt Heart of Darkness...

He typed the words “William Faulkner’s Cannibal Holocaust.” He could picture the natives in his mind, just on the outskirts of coming into focus on the page. He could almost hear the voice of Marlowe calling for help. Then it was gone. Faulkner picked up the phone. The shakes made him bang the receiver like he was delivering Morse code. When I get out of here, he thought, no more boozing while writing; save it for a reward at the end. His agent’s secretary had him patched through in a matter of moments. “I can’t do it; get me back on, I’ll do whatever they want.”


There was another long pause, but no ire. “I’ll see what I can do.” Faulkner hung up the phone. He would stay in The South.

1943 “Is that true?” Williams asked. He couldn’t believe he’d never heard the story about Faulkner before. “Far as I know,” Audrey said. “Stick with what you know.” She stared back at him from across her desk; a praying mantis with her hands folded at the wrists in her dainty but decidedly deadly way. Williams sat back in the chair in her office. He clutched the worn manuscript in his hands. “Trust me, you’ll run into the same problems,” She offered. Williams slowly exhaled and thought about it. “OK, so what do you think?” “Well, for one thing, get rid of the chainsaw.” “Oh, come on.” Williams stood up and flung the manuscript to the floor. “Please darling,” Audrey said, “No one is going to come to see a play called ‘Chainsaw Massacre.” Williams stood facing away from her pouting like a child who’s been told he can’t have dessert until he’s finished his vegetables. “Next you’ll tell me to lose the cannibalism too.” “Well,” she began. “Then what’s the point?”


She stared at him and felt his will dissolve under her gaze. He found himself back in the guest chair resting his forehead on his fist like Rodin’s Thinker. “It’s about family, Tommy,” she said, “Focus on them.” He thought about it. Without the violence, cannibalism, preying on hitchhikers, digging up graves, hanging from meat hooks, and yes, the goddamned chainsaw, there was just the dysfunction. “Then it’s just about MY family.” “So make it about them. Get rid of that Leather fellow.” Audrey shuddered. Williams knew, deep down, she was right. She always had been. “Fine,” he said, and stood up. “What should I call this masterpiece?” “Why don’t you name it after those figurines the sister is always playing with?” “The Glass Menagerie?” “Sounds good to me.” Williams nodded and turned to the door. He paused for a second. “What if the lead character has bone problems? I read about something, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, where his bones are extremely brittle. It could be called “The Unbreakable Glass Mena--” “Stay with the family,” Audrey said. Williams was going to argue, but again, he knew she was right.

Andrew Davie


Skeleton Staff (Cover Image) Sharon Larkin



Distance gives him no perspective. Wherever he goes, there he is, watching continents drift and lying to himself, seeing things as other than they are – the Himalayan snow caps as frost-feathers, the Grand Canyon as keloid electrocution scar, the chirruping Reef as neon blue birdsong. It started in school, when he first went into orbit –

The sun is this basketball, the earth this marble, Now, walk to the other side of the playground. He rolls the earth between his finger and thumb, his body remembering gravity’s safe embrace, the ground meeting him halfway, a faithful spouse, the weight of sleeping daughters. Only humans could get so far apart, he thinks, the Dead Sea surging in his cabin, buoying the improbable sacs of his limbs. Without him, it hangs there, the glass eye of storms. Kirsten Luckins


she had worn the starmark since childhood Andrea Robinson


Special Relativity

What The Math Teaches (1):

As I move away from the Earth, time accelerates. The now of the little clock on my weightless wrist ticks faster than the one I leave behind on my daughter’s nightstand. The greater my proximity to mass, the more time slows. Perhaps this is why I am always seeking mountains.

What The Buddha Teaches:

This teacup is already broken and so I should rejoice.

What The Math Teaches (2):

Time is bound to motion. Time bends as we move. Move away, move forward from sufficient distance and I arc the trajectory of my now toward your past or your future. Simultaneous is only for us, together, in this room. I cannot know the content of this clicking carousel, so I must beware, the sleepless nights of turning over what is not my now, the Kodachrome vortex of memory.

What The Mountain Teaches: Over time even mountains fold.

What Fatherhood Teaches:

I should have tried to harder to remember more math: she was born and in the next second I had to show her the division of fractions. Time is bound to motion.


Months can last for decades. Decades can wash past like a paper boat. Also, she is a teacup. She may already be broken. Ryan Warren


The Bat and the Cactus

You have never been able to keep a plant alive. Your excitement about moving in with her lasts until your grand tour reaches the spare room, which acts as a miniature greenhouse. You delegate the care of the cacti to yourself, laughing about your inability while you feed each other vegetable spring rolls cross-legged on the stripped wooden floor. She teases you back, dimples flashing. Reassures you that everything - you and the house and the cacti will be fine. The two of you host a barbecue with ironic cocktail platters of fuchsia umbrellas and giant hot dogs in buns. Her friends make crude jokes as she places her sausage deep in the bun, side-eyeing you. When they leave you lean over to her, wrap yourself around her and inhale acrid, oniony smoke. She shrugs you off. Rises and starts piling up ketchup-tainted napkins, then shudders as she finds a long, dark hair on one of them. You offer to shave your head and she scoffs, she doesn’t want to be seen as one of those couples. You tell her ‘I thought you liked my hair’ and pull at a cluster of strands, flicking at the split ends. She is silent, back turned, already attacking the recycling. Trying to make her kitchen clean again. Trying to erase your mess. Chinks of discontent flicker through the house but she brushes off your pining. No it’s not a problem - you live here too now. It’s just I usually stack the dishwasher this way, I use the washing powder first then add the fabric conditioner, these towels are for hands and these are for dishes but, no. Whatever, it’s not a problem, just ignore me. I’m adjusting. You adjust yourself. You laugh louder, snore quieter but still she wakes, bleary eyed and irritable. Soon you are relegated to the spare room, to dwell beneath the plants. At night you pull your covers, trying not to knock over ferns, spider plants or the cacti.


When she is asleep - early - you tiptoe to her room. Peek at the flashing notifications on her phone and wonder who she is messaging this time. One time, she wakes to you hovering over her bed. After she finally calms down she does hold you. Tells you again it is fine. She’s just tired. She’s always lived by herself and she didn’t realise how it would be. But still you are sent back to the plants. At night it is hot and so you leave the window open. You dream of winds, of seas, of sailboats. You wake to flapping and a light squeal. A bat has flown into the window and is stuck on the miniature Sphera arrangement. You freeze. It struggles and squirms but it cannot escape. You hold a pillow to your face, press it close with your knees and use your free hands to cover your ears. You have always been a coward in the face of pain. You think of it suffering, it’s soft, exploratory wings skewered on the defensive spikes, and you cannot get back to sleep. At first light you pack your things into two small suitcases. She is asleep. You leave your keys by her phone on the bedside table, along with the cactus - the dead bat still impaled on it.

Gaynor Jones



The chalk rolls with a rising cadence, an itching scramble across the desktop; it picks up speed, launches itself, smashes in a tiny detonation of dust, splits on contact, a debris of frosted rubble. I remember your porcelain skin: flawless, powdered like sugared marshmallows, the plump cushions of your cheeks sinking into unaccustomed hollows, a bruise of fear beneath your eyes. I lit a candle for you in Sacre Coeur. I tried, in that city you loved - surrounded by blue and gold icons, white stone like alabaster, flawless - to conjure your face from the crowds of faces, but my feelings strayed. But now, for a second, you're there - in the flakes of teacher's chalk - and I stumble on a sudden sob I have to change to a cough, remembering how you split, cracking on the instant of impact against your own dust and dreams. Louise Wilford


Nature, Run

for J.C. I existed from the droppings of another, & you knew that. After all, they said you were a botanist, or a scientist, or another –ist, maybe. Or, perhaps, I was right, & you were the Messiah! or a journeyman with a fancy for greens & good timing, stumbling forward through this sea of nettles dusted in late October. But, oh, our memory will make like cattails & d a n c e often, yet— long after cold cuts in, long after the soft of my neck peels away like November death & skitters with the wind. But, today, we’ll carve your initials into my bark & lie together, so we don’t soon forget,


so passers-by know what happened here was sacred & true. Benjamin Rozzi


Hometown cuckoos

I do wonder how it would be, if we stayed settled into the corner of an old nest. Patch it holes with dry mosses picked in the long arms of an afternoon westerly bound. Or would our bad luck be a rain dove calling in to its own ghosts of happiness. Finding us there, where her fledglings warmed, learned silhouettes when eyes blind closed. We’ll tell her ‘a feather is a feather’ and sit there in the light where she mothered into, and hope she’ll fly away. What would we dream of, up in the high in our quiet brittle orchard line. Spying for darker outlines on the star map scatter. I’ll ask should we be afraid? And then you’ll say to me again

It was never the shadows. It was the moonlight that chased us from home. Christopher Hopkins


Contributors Kitty Coles' poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies. She was one of the two winners of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2016 and her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife, was published in 2017. www.kittyrcoles.com Andrew Davie received an MFA in creative writing from Adelphi University. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant. Currently, he teaches in Virginia. His work can be read in Bartleby Snopes, Necessary Fiction, The South Dakota Review, and FLAPPERHOUSE, among others. His website: asdavie.wordpress.com Nikki Fine is a former teacher who rediscovered the joy of writing on a Creative Writing Diploma at Oxford. She has had poems published in the Oxford Magazine and The Interpreter’s House, in addition to self-publishing a fictional autobiography of Michelangelo, Moses in Chains. When not pondering the next best word, she is involved with a local choral group, both singing and directing Anita Goveas is British-Asian, based in London, and fuelled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She lurks in libraries and her local independent bookshop, Bookseller Crow. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently in Moonchild Magazine, Riggwelter Press, Anti-Heroin Chic, former cactus mag and Litro. She tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer A young writer from North Yorkshire, Emily Harrison has recently discovered that she actually likes creative writing, despite everything she may have previously said. She can be found on Twitter @emily__harrison and apologises in advance for her tweets. Gary W. Hartley is from Leeds but has voluntarily exiled himself to Athens for the time being. He used to co-edit The Alarmist magazine and has a book of poems out on Listen Softly London Press. He communicates into the digital void via Twitter: @garyfromleeds Christopher Hopkins is a Welsh poet who currently resides in the Canterbury area of Kent with his wife and daughter. His debut chapbook Take Your Journeys Home (Clare Songbirds Publishing House) has been nominated for the IPPY book award for poetry. He has also received two Pushcart Prize nominations. His second chapbook The Last Time We Saw Strangers is due out in Spring 2018. He has been widely published including in

The Morning Star. Gaynor Jones is a writer of micro, flash and short stories from Manchester. She has work in Ellipsis, MoonPark Review and formercactus among others. She organises the Story For Daniel flash fiction competition to raise awareness of blood stem cell donation and childhood cancer support.


Christina Maria Kosch is a junior at Washington and Jefferson College where she studies English and Psychology. She has been published in Corvus Review and Down in the Dirt. She is passionate about social equality and Jeopardy. Sharon Larkin’s poetry has been published in anthologies, magazines and e-zines. She jointly runs Cheltenham Poetry Café - Refreshed, is Chair of Cheltenham's Arts Council and Poetry Society, and is founder/editor of the Good Dadhood on-line Poetry project. She has an MA in Creative Writing and a passion for Welsh language, literature and history. Website: https://sharonlarkinjones.com/ Kirsten Luckins is a poet for both page and stage. She has two collections with Burning Eye/Bx3 books and has toured two spoken word theatre shows. She blogs at kirstenluckins.wordpress.com and is currently running a digital storytelling project with filmmaker Laura Degnan, which can be found at celebratingchange.blog Matthew Laverty earned a BLA from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell where he studied creative writing under award winning poet Maggie Dietz and critically acclaimed author Andre Dubus III. Pauline McCarthy is a self-taught artist/poet from Middlesbrough. As member of Cleveland Art Society, she has taken part in several local exhibitions, including The Heritage Gallery, Saabat Gallery and Stokesley Town Hall. She has poems and paintings in Message in a bottle poetry magazine and her painting of Middlesbrough Transporter bridge can be seen hanging up in the Transporters visitors centre, Middlesbrough. Al McClimens is an unemployed waster and serial open mic botherer. An ASBO would be appropriate, if the A stood for ‘Al’, the S for stop, the B for ‘bothering’ and the O for ‘open mic’. He recently had a pamphlet published Keats on the Moon (Mews Press, 2017) and nobody’s allowed to forget it. It was well reviewed in Orbis but what do they know? Jeff Nazzaro grew up in New England, lived in Japan for twelve years, and now makes his home in Southern California. He teaches English at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he also serves as copy editor for Tsehai Publishers. His short fiction has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Dogzplot, The Fiction Pool, Café Aphra, and Flash: The International Short-short Story Magazine. Hannah Persaud has been writing fiction for three years and has won, been runner up in or placed in numerous publications and competitions. She is currently editing her first novel and is represented by Laura Macdougall of United Agents. Her second novel idea is loosely based on this piece of short fiction, White is the colour of something.


Andrea Robinson is a visual artist, writer and printmaker. Andrea’s work is inspired by found text, photographs, artefacts and family histories - birds often appear. She has exhibited at venues throughout the UK, and in Dublin, Berlin and Luxembourg. Her prints and artist books are held in private collections in the UK and in the archives of Scarborough Art Gallery and Museum and the V&A. Benjamin Rozzi earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Washington & Jefferson College, where he was mentored by Dr. George David Clark, Editor of 32 Poems. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in a handful of publications, most recently Moonchild Magazine ("Stars are Words We've Yet to Say"). He is the Managing Editor of 1932 Quarterly, and lives south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Marija Smits is the pen name of Dr Teika Bellamy, a UK-based mother-of-two, exscientist and editor whose writing has appeared in various publications, including Mslexia, Brittle Star, Strix, Literary Mama, Picaroon Poetry and LossLit. When she’s not busy with her children, or writing or painting, she’s running the indie press, Mother’s Milk Books. She is continually delighted by the fact that Teika means ‘fairy tale’ in Latvian. Fabio Sassi makes photos and acrylics using tiny objects and what is considered to have no worth by the mainstream. Fabio lives and works in Bologna, Italy and his work can be viewed at www.fabiosassi.foliohd.com Katie Smart has an MA in English Literature from the University of Sheffield. She previously worked on the poetry editorial team for the University’s creative writing journal, Route 57. Katie has had work published by Three Drops from a Cauldron. Her work often explores identity, gender and sexuality. Susan Taylor, one-time shepherd, is now working on a new poetry show about the benefit of wolves. She has seven published collections and a new pamphlet, The Weather House, written in collaboration with Simon Williams and published by Indigo Dreams. This sequence of poems comes out of a collaborative poetry performance. Aden Thomas grew up in central Wyoming. Previously, his work has been featured in The Inflectionist Review, Turtle Island, and Up The Staircase Quarterly. His first collection of poems, What Those Light Years Carry was published by Kelsay Books in 2017. More at: www.adenthomas.com. Ryan Warren lives in the Pacific Northwestern U.S. and was founding director of the Coastside Poetry reading series in Half Moon Bay, CA. He is a 2017 Forward Prize for Poetry nominee, a 2016 Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, and his poetry has previously appeared in numerous journals including Amaryllis, California Quarterly,

Firefly Magazine, Page & Spine, Poetry Breakfast, Wilderness House Literary Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, and the anthology, Carry the Light.


Sarah Whiteside’s stories have previously appeared in New Writing Scotland, Northwords Now and Pushing Out the Boat. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of St Andrews. When she’s not writing she teaches cello and piano. She lives in Edinburgh with her partner and young son. Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford is an English teacher and examiner. She has had around 50 poems and short stories published in magazines including Popshots, Pushing Out The Boat and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions. She is currently writing a children's fantasy novel. Simon Williams has seven published collections. He latest pamphlet, Spotting Capybaras in the Work of Marc Chagall, and his latest full collection, Inti, were both published in 2016. He has a new co-authored pamphlet with Susan Taylor, The Weather House, published by Indigo Dreams. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet. James Woolf has had three stories published in Ambit, most recently in July 2018. He has been shortlisted for the Bridport short story prize, the Exeter short story prize and was highly commended in the London short story prize. Various other stories have been published or short-listed including in Disclaimer Magazine, Cafe Aphra and The Village Square Journal. He is currently working on his second novel, having written his first in 2017. His plays have been produced in the theatre and broadcast on radio. You can read more about his writing on http://woolf.biz/ By day, Maura Yzmore writes research papers with a lot of math and waves dry-erase markers in front of bewildered undergraduates. By night, she draws and writes short fiction. This is her first visual art submission. Find out more at https://maurayzmore.com or come say hi @MauraYzmore on Twitter.


Acknowledgements 'Freedom of Movement' by Sarah Whiteside was the prose winner of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling’s Writing & Riding Competition in August, 2017.