Riggwelter #13

Page 1


RIGGWELTER #13 SEPTEMBER 2018 ed. Amy Kinsman

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

riggwelterpress.wordpress.com riggwelterpress.tumblr.com facebook.com/riggwelterpress twitter.com/riggwelterpress

Foreword What am I doing here? Physical Drill With Arms Nor’easter Redux December Bella Letting Go Catalytic Exteriorization Phenomena While on the bus to Melbourne A Regifted Child Poem to My Childhood Discoveries Ode to Spring and Summer The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter All was sweet Cave Dance In the Natural History Museum look! Riley’s Wolf Gulliver visits the Yorkshire Sculpture Park The Doors Germany Unsaid Self-Portrait With & Without Joyless The Trap Giblet Three Days Revival the devil’s in the detail Illumination The Migraine The Engineer No More Heroes 1.9 Cars Per Every 1.8 People Red Car Reclaim the street Ignition Contributors Acknowledgements

4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 19 20 23 24 25 27 28 29 30 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 45 46 47 53 54 55 58 59 60 61 62 67



Dear readers, welcome to our thirteenth issue (a most fortuitous occasion, in my own personal belief). With our first year of issues complete, we embark on our second. Due to the overwhelming amount of excellent submissions we receive, and that I as an editor cannot pass up, all issues from this point onwards will contain an additional five pieces of work (thirty-five in total). Thank you for allowing Riggwelter to have such a wonderful problem. Issue #12 was all about journeys, physical and of the mind. Issue #13 is all about changes, so in a way these two issues are siblings. Change isn’t just something we personally make, it can happen to us and around us involuntarily, and while it can be a joyous cause for celebration, it can also be a time of mourning. These are pieces of nostalgia but also of alienation and of loss. As L.P. Hartley said, “the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there” and we couldn’t agree more, but if that is the case then the future is as well and we are forever crossing the border. With that in mind, this issue is dedicated to our past selves and to our future selves, with love from our present self in between. We offer our sincerest thanks to the Riggwelter reviews team and their tireless work; to all of our readers, submitters and supporters and to everyone out there changing the world for the better. May we keep on moving forward.

Amy Kinsman (Founding Editor)


What am I doing here?

It began with the fire: Mom heaving the German Shepard out the porch door before smashing our window to save the turtle: crisped, before the rescue was complete. Dad sprinting in his underwear across the grass then spread-eagling, passed out on the lawn. Brother crying, crying. Neighbours rushing to stare and whisper until a call comes for me from across the ocean:

You must leave now, go. There is nothing left for you here anymore. Christina Thatcher


Physical Drill With Arms

when the moon stood before the sun / how light rippled through the air I remember the time / 11:15 am / when the moon stood before the sun I remember the time / 11:15 am / how light rippled through the air dew settled on the grass / moons were formed in the trees shadow it became cold / birds stopped singing / dew settled on the grass it became cold / birds stopped singing / moons were formed in the trees shadow streetlamps turned themselves on / the moon stood before the sun it’s surreal I said to the woman next to me / streetlamps turned themselves on it’s surreal I said to the woman next to me / the moon stood before the sun her body is cold / her eyes are sodden / I want to come home with you / my son what mother was doing here I don’t know / her body is cold / her eyes are sodden what mother was doing here I don’t know / I want to come home with you / my son Rodney Wood


Nor’easter Redux Jeffrey Toney


December Bella

For my beautiful dog, lost a few weeks after this poem, kept with me always A train horn whines in the freezing air As I stand beside my dying dog In a yard once green, since shrivelled, So that every footstep makes a crunch That sends tarantulas up my torpid spine. To know whether the train is coming or going Is to diagnose nothingness: The stories behind stories before time— For even if those horns did not disperse As tempestuous wings out of shells birth, Or sound like they were traipsing Up and down the lawless stairways of the wind, It’s far too dark out here for me to see If trains are passing by (black frost intensifies). I guide my dog back to carpet land Where she munches kibble, nose scrunches much. Just wants salami, ham, those human choices. In her back half my dog is nothing but bones, Burning rubber they say. Static-stuck to hooks, her furs will die soon As sure as I’m alive. So the droning train echoes in my skull As I can’t for the life of me Decide: Am I coming or going. Tomasz Wiszniewski


Letting Go

When they were kids, they dropped Parachute Action Man from the balcony on the eighth floor of the block, Andy’s arms and T-shirt stained with rust and flaked red paint where he’d leant over as far as he could on the railing before he let go. Next came the race downstairs, trying to get to the bottom before Action Man, but he was always there first, lying on the grass, his plastic chute spread like a dead jellyfish above his head. A slow trudge back up. Plans on how to win next time. “What we’ll do is,” Andy said, “I’ll be on the balcony, you be at the top of the stairs. I’ll give you a “5,4,3,2,1!” before I drop him. The minute you hear ‘1’, you go for it.” “But isn’t that cheating?” Liam asked. “We should have to start from the same point.” “Naw, ‘cause he’s got a direct path down, see? We’ve got stairs and corners and doors and dogs and toddlers and prams to get in the way, so we should get a head start. Even things up a bit.” But Liam never did think it was fair and he’d slow down when he got to the last flight. He never told Andy, never fessed up to sabotaging the plan, so Action Man always won, his firm jaw and unflappable hair set in eternal victory. It never occurred to Andy to take a turn at running. Running was Liam’s thing. Andy’s thing was thinking. Too late to confess now. When Andy jumped from the roof of the tower block, the soles of his bare feet stained with rust and flaked red paint where they’d clawed onto the railing, he didn’t have a parachute or a pal waiting to race him. Liam wondered


if he’d shouted, “5,4,3,2,1!” as he launched himself into the air. He hoped he had. He hoped he’d at least given himself that. Liam didn’t go to the pub for the purvey after the funeral – wasn’t sure he’d be welcome after so many years out of contact. He shook the hands that had to be shook and headed for the train station. He’d bought an old Parachute Action Man online, had the mad idea of dropping it into Andy’s grave as he said goodbye, but changed his mind in case it made the family disapprove of him even more. He threw the Action Man in the first bin he passed, turned his collar up against a chill only he could feel, and put his hands in his pockets. His fingers wrapped around the plastic parachute, still not ready to let go.

Karen Jones


Catalytic Exteriorization Phenomena

for Ruby i gave you my favorite dress the one i wore when i was a girl red with white flowers it was your birthday the day there was a turning over of the wheel that show me pictures of you through time you told me when i was grown we would marry you have been young longer than me i found a way to sit on a singularity the infinite curvature of space-time you are pubescent younger than that we are learning to communicate when i touch your hand through filmy pages of light it is so hot there your hand is mine i am traversable a human einstein-rosen bridge a photon information or imprints you can decipher if i ever become old i believe in catalytic exteriorization phenomena i don’t have to know exactly what you look like string theory can teach us that matter is dissolvable i see you in your room without your mother you listen out for my footsteps behind your door you are eating soup in your bed why do you always read in the kitchen your mother liked to believe you were alone we need to be efficient i’m not going to waste my time solving equations to open doors i found a way to manipulate gravity so our fingertips intersect through matter one day i tried on the dress i was relieved you died you told me our marriage was full of sad poetry i realized that children are too immature to navigate rockets to land on the moon i will give up getting sucked into spaces without light i can make the whore spin through walls i will let you see her in morse code i will give you the saint cut up in narrow and wide strips like binary i have found a way to love my mother i’m jumping out of this train and into the event horizon in image form my moral code is as hotly spun as nazis who search me like a jew the pixels of my face emit and make the picture of a fox then a city of blocks i move to the left and fly up i discover there is a way i can travel through time i can smoothen these walls into hair fold up paper into tunnels which know how to suck up infancy my childhood home your paintings have added another dimension when i blow hard enough fragments of rooms slide like cut up mirrors


you look up at me but you are a boy when you stand up in your bed you are a man you tell me i need to be less than light you give me back my dress the preserved molecules of flowers my guilt emitted as radiation converted into womanhood you tell me you can’t marry me because i’m still a ghost and you have been watching me all our life Annie Blake


While on the bus to Melbourne Pauline McCarthy


A Regifted Child

In the box was a baby. Amy slapped on her best grateful smile, trained it on her husband, and said, ‘Thanks, babe, I love it.’ It was a boy, about three months old, with brown hair and big dark eyes. It was fresh from Tot Shop, the world’s most successful baby boutique. Selling cloned babies in stores and online had been controversial at first, but when the sheer demand became apparent - and cash had quietly changed hands between retailers and lawmakers - regulations were soon relaxed. Buying a lab-created infant, designed not to need the yucky businesses of changing or feeding, was so much easier than childbirth, which was time-consuming and messy. Now people often picked one up while out shopping on a Saturday. A pair of jeans, a new phone, a baby, then maybe a latte and a sandwich before heading home. ‘No probs, honey,’ said Darren, kissing her cheek. ‘Happy birthday! Oh, hang on, I left the cake in the kitchen. Let me grab it.’ When he left the room, Amy’s face fell. She’d wanted a blonde one.


Three months later, Darren found the baby stuffed in a drawer in the spare room. He carried it downstairs to the lounge, where Amy was practicing her yoga. ‘Honey,’ he said. ‘Do you not really like the baby?’


Amy untangled her right leg from the back of her neck, sighed through her teeth and said, ‘Not really. Sorry, babe. You see these things advertised and you want one, then you get one and you don’t bother with it. Like that foot spa you bought me for Christmas. Besides, it’s hair is brown. You know I hate brown.’ Darren bit back his annoyance. He knew he should have just got perfume. ‘That’s okay,’ he said. ‘Maybe someone else would get some use out of it?’


Amy’s niece, Harriet, yanked off the Manchester United wrapping paper and opened the box. ‘Happy birthday, H,’ said Amy. Harriet frowned. She’d expected football boots. ‘It’s a baby,’ she said. ‘That’s right,’ said Amy. ‘This one’s new. Well, new-ish.’ The baby reached out with its chubby little arms. Harriet blocked a grimace from spreading across her face, then put the box on the floor and shoved it under the sofa with her foot. ‘Thanks, Auntie,’ she said. ‘You don’t like it?’ ‘Oh, I do. It’s just that I said I’d go and meet Becca and Lily. We’re going ice skating. I’ll take a look at it later, promise.’


Six more months passed. Harriet’s Mum found the baby, now rather too large for its box, at the bottom of Harriet’s wardrobe.


‘Harriet, sweetheart,’ she called to her daughter, who was busy with her Xbox. Digitised soldiers swarmed over the TV screen, heads exploding in an eruption of colourful gore. ‘Don’t you want this baby? Your Auntie got it specially.’ Harriet turned for a second, shrugged, said, ‘Not really,’ and returned her attention to the game. Her mum rolled her eyes and put the baby in a bag of unwanted belongings she was preparing for the charity shop. She briefly thought about selling it on eBay, but these things didn’t hold their value for more than five minutes. Her mate Zoe had flogged one last week, but it went for less than ten pounds and she’d ended up spending almost that just on postage. It wasn’t worth the effort.


‘Mummy, mummy, can I have a baby?’ Little Violet scanned the selection with eager eyes. There were seven or eight babies on the shelves of the charity shop, ranging from about nine months to just over a year old. They all had price tags. Four pounds apiece. Her mum, Sandra, clicked her tongue. ‘Darling, you’ve got enough to play with.’ She gestured to the racks of books. ‘Maybe something to read?’ ‘Pleeeeeeeeeease, Mummy!’ ‘Oh, okay. It’s your birthday next week, after all. Which one do you want?


Violet reached up, grabbed a brown-haired boy and pulled her mother towards the till. Sandra handed four pound coins to the man behind the counter. They left, Violet cooing over her new plaything and running her fingers through his hair. ‘Look at his beautiful eyes, Mummy,’ the shopkeeper heard her say as they left. ‘I shall call him Tucker.’ What a stupid name, he thought. He cast his eyes over at the babies remaining on the shelf. A red-headed boy. A blonde boy. A brown-haired girl. But people brought them in faster than he could get them out the door. New ones arrived in the big shops and suddenly the old ones were obsolete and ended up clogging his shelves. That one was the first he’d shifted in days and he had three or four others out the back. He reached a decision and took a black pen from his pocket. He walked over to the shelves, then crossed out the ‘four’ on the price tags and replaced it with ‘two’. The bell on the door tinkled and he returned to the counter to serve his customer. It was a woman, clutching a hefty bag. ‘Will you take a few babies?’ she asked.


Six months later, at the local waste management centre, a skip was loaded onto the back of a truck to have its contents taken to landfill. Environmental groups had protested this practice, but the government had deemed it the only way to deal with the increasing numbers of unwanted children.


The skip was too full. A teetering tower of tots wobbled precariously as the driver started the engine. Two employees, Bert and Bill, watched on. ‘You’d think they’d be recyclable, wouldn’t you?’ said Bert. As the truck moved slowly towards the exit door, a baby toppled from pinnacle, rolled down the mountain of its fellow infants, off the back of the vehicle and onto the floor. Its name was scrawled on its vest in a childish hand. Bill picked it up. ‘Tucker,’ he read. ‘What a stupid name,’ said Bert. Bill shrugged and tossed the baby into another skip.

David Cook


Poem to My Childhood

Friend, we will cocoon ourselves into beasthood and become two javelinas snout-snorkelling across oceans clustered with snails. The maternal humpback waves her ragged fin goodbye, blue squid drift in jelly dreams, eels wag like tails, the sun globes over laughing gulls and we squeal hoofing the sea as marlins smile. Grunt with me in the warmth of truffle islands, the toucan’s banana beak. Let hippos unhinge jaws to swallow adulthood forever. Our presence erupts with newts in oinking heaven. Growing, I found that Earth is not the best possible world with turtles crumpled by plastic rings. The rhino and tiger go extinct, frogs melt into toxic sludge and polar bears shipwreck to seafloor vents where molten crabs loiter. There is no death, only you my wumpus bear, abundant in toads, your wool-plush breath so close I have never left you. While the world burns, I am with you, dancing. Eric Fisher Stone



“Have you seen a baby alligator?” Rachelle asked, laboring to breathe. Laughter erupted from Ella’s lungs. “A what?” “It’s my pet. Please help me find it.” As Rachelle stood there, eager to find her “pet,” her look of concern and big, brown eyes warmed Ella and drew her in. Ella’s own eyes then wandered to the scars on Rachelle’s legs, scars the shape and size of alligator teeth. Ella got up and prepared to abandon her once-secluded spot near the springs, where she had been reading poetry and sunbathing. She put on her shorts, tank top, and shoes. “I don’t know what you expect me to do. I’m not the type who catches wild animals.” “You can learn on the fly,” Rachelle said. By now, her breathing was more measured and controlled. Dimples on her cheeks formed in reaction to her smile, and her curly black hair dangled at her shoulders. “Follow me.” They left the springs and jogged across a meadow graced with white and yellow wildflowers and grass with pinkish-purple plumes that appeared to laugh and dance in the wind. They stopped in front of an endless line of trees that marked the entrance to miles of deep, dark woods. Leaves high above them trembled as gusts of wind swept across branches. Frogs were croaking at a fevered pitch. Insects and birds had joined this peculiar chorus, and a few grunts of larger animals emerged from hidden places. The woods smelled earthy and swampy, with hints of citrus and jasmine, and somewhere in the distance a rattlesnake played its warning song. Ella was dizzy with excitement.


“How will we ever find it?” Ella asked. “Trust me,” Rachelle said. They walked quickly along a trail that became thinner and thinner with each passing minute. Underbrush encroached on the trail and soon swallowed it entirely. They waded through grass and plants that tickled their ankles. They weaved through dense clusters of palmetto bushes that towered over their heads, leaped over sprawling patches of fat mushrooms, and clambered over fallen trees. At one point, a beam of sunlight entered through the canopy and meandered down Rachelle’s arms and legs, leafy shadows flitting across her skin. “Homosexuals go to Hell,” Ella’s mother once said, while cutting a peach in half. She said this with the earnestness of a meteorologist warning the public of an imminent hurricane. Ella placed her half of the peach near her lips, closed her eyes, and softy tongued the center, where the pit had been. Up and down, up and down. A soft, ecstatic moan. Her mother stormed out of the kitchen. “There,” Rachelle said, grabbing Ella’s hand. A bolt of electricity shot down Ella’s spine. With her other hand, Rachelle was pointing to a clearance. They walked out from under the trees and onto the bank of a pond. The sun was at its zenith. Twin circles of light glowed in the sky and the blackish water. The edges of the pond reflected in near-perfect detail the nearby trees, their jagged contours and deep-green leaves tinged with gold. Rachelle let go of Ella’s hand and whispered, “Quiet.” They walked along the bank of the pond, their footfalls as light as their breaths and their breaths as airy as the two or three patches of clouds suspended in brilliant blue. Rachelle stopped. Heeding this cue, Ella froze, awaiting a sign.


Rachelle removed from her pocket a wooden, cylindrical device. She blew into it, creating a low, crackling grunt. After she did this several times, pausing for a while between each sound, she received a response: high-pitched, staccato squeaks. Rachelle moved stealthily as Ella shadowed her. When they reached their destination—a cluster of waist-high sawgrass near the water—Rachelle turned and flashed her right palm, gesturing for Ella to remain still. Rachelle crouched down low and vanished into the sawgrass. Ella stood there for what seemed like minutes, detecting no movement, no noise, only the thuds of her own heartbeat reverberating in her ears. Ella cannot recall what came first: the flock of birds bursting upwards and scattering into the sky, or Rachelle springing up in a fit of laughter with a baby alligator in her arms. But what happened next remains clear: Rachelle walked closer, with the sun gleaming on her caramel skin and one of her hands wrapped tightly around the creature’s mouth, and Ella’s fingers began to tremble, electricity crackled inside of her, and she sensed a great change approaching, a disruption, a beginning.

Mason Binkley


Ode to Spring and Summer

Brink of mating season, March’s warm gaze and cold hands. Spring is a tease. These nights will grow teeth. April’s sigh, warm as human breath. The sun hangs like a lightbulb on a wire. Saline mornings, the earth still covered in nightmare sweat. Baby green underbrush laced like fingers. Cherry blossom petals on windshields, May’s pink and white insides splattered like roadkill. Sapphic bumblebees buzzing like power lines, ivy holding a tree like a lover—parasitic. The sunlight trickles, fickle, dancing on the dirt as if underwater. Trick of the light, trick of the wind, June trips over its own feet running from me. The woods grow dark and matted, poison ivy tangled with phlox. July burns like a paper in my hand, but slower. The fireflies are lighthouse beams in miniature—they speak in their tired Morse code about the way the sky becomes a mirror at night. August sun works its way into your blood like whiskey. My body feels like overripe fruit. It’s wearying, like love. God whispers to us in windsong, it’s a language we can’t understand but can feel. The storms are an apology. Rebecca Kokitus


The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter (Cover Image) Clare Lindley


All was sweet

Sweeping left to right the telegraph wires headed south as far as I remember and the lane to the remainder of the village curved left to right too as the setting sun dropped to cast this weird orange glow that daubs the grey facade of the house that is the kind of house a child will draw— one chimney at each gabled end with its two pairs of windows to each side of a central porched door the facade fronted by a low brick wall that stirs itself only to run either side of a gravelled drive to reach the height of two low pillars or posts on the furthest of which you sit waiting for me to retrace the few yards I’ve stepped back to take the picture— I don’t recall how you got there whether I lifted you mock-gallant perhaps or more likely you essayed your tom-boyish walk along the wall then an independent heave and twist and there you sat hands clasped between denim thighs your pale round face with its ever-expectant look though it’s hard to see you clearly because my desire to frame the curve of the road with the sweep of wires above your grandfather’s symmetrical house has set you at such a distance


though the curve of your back suggests impatience your face shows no larger your glance is no more legible than the vanishing head of the pin on which for six sweet months you set angels dancing Martyn Crucefix


Cave Dance

Leopards shrug their spots. Turtles unshell. Lizards peel cool skins. Pelts pile up – mink, fox, ermine, ocelot. A python unslithers her scales. Lions shed rough gold coats, sheep unfleece, cattle shake free from honey-coloured hide. Here come parakeets in verdant green, toucan, puffin, peacock, wren. An Arctic tern scimitar sleek in black and white. A blizzard of rainbow feathers falls, interleaved with drab. Dragonflies lose their filigree wings. Polar bears slough fur which folds in heaps like soft-spun glass. Horses clatter stone, release from grey, roan, chestnut, black. Enamel-bright casings in shimmering drifts. Motes of butterfly colours cloud the air. A blur of souls carousels. I creep inside, unskin, join the dance. Jenny Donnison


In the Natural History Museum

there is a large display case full of tiny stuffed humming birds perching on little branches and twigs their wings wide open to admiration. The vibrant colours lost over the years, it’s all still beautiful in a faded Victorian way, and I fancy I can hear the song of the thirst for knowledge lingering faintly in the background, while down the corridor in the space exploration section a piece of Moon rock is silent, giving out a strange light. Renata Connors


look! Stephanie Chang


Riley’s Wolf

“At least we wear our obscenities on our sleeves.” My dad was trimming his face in the mirror. “Other people hide them behind closed doors. They disguise insecurities with fine clothes and face-paint, and make up for their grey personalities with small talk and slanderous gossip.” “We on the other hand, are afforded no such luxury. The gods have made our freakish nature plain as day, which gives us the ability to be as happy as a pig in the mud.” I had asked him after a particularly ghastly show if we had any self-respect, to be parading ourselves around like an attraction seemed a bit lowly. And this empty, rehearsed line was his only reply. The gasps, stares, and murmuring were one thing when people were paying to see us. Though even then, seeing the undersides of noses that considered themselves above us made my neck burn. But walking the street was different. No one masked their feelings at a set of hairy faces walking through the streets. Shrieks, overly dramatic faints and whispered prayers were just the noises of nature for me. Once, whole cloves of garlic were thrown at me when I entered a shop, coupled with an old man shouting for his wife to “Get the silver knife from the cabinet”. I was fairly certain that was vampires, but what do I know, I’ve yet to see one. Yet every day when people came to our tent to see us in our cage and put pennies in our pot, my father thanked them. It was his role. Mr. Riley would work the crowd, spinning the tale of our expulsion from hell. My father, according to the tale, sold his soul to a witch for the gift of speech. My younger brother and I were not as


fortunate. Our job was to shake the cage, bare our fake fangs, and howl, spit, and claw at anything that looked at us. And here was my father, actually thanking them for the opportunity to be made into an animal. As if they were doing him a service. It disgusted me. He disgusted me. As if we were here to just…sit in a cage, the low-life-less-than-human things that we were. For what? Hair on our faces? The Crucified Canines they called us. I feel no pull from the moon. I don’t even like dogs all that much. I don’t like the taste of venison any more than the average person, but here I am, pretending to fiend over raw meat from the straw-floored crate that is our stage. Depending on the town, Mr. Riley would ask us to play up the “demonization”. “Unknown town here, give them a good scare this time, will you friends?” He’d say with a wink and a tap of his hat. Loosely using that word, friends. Next to the eight-foot woman and the teenager who can lift an anchor with one arm, we are simply the stars of Riley’s traveling freak show. Loosely using that word as well, stars. Late one day, before the last show a girl snuck into our tent. My father and brother were out getting food and I was occupying myself with some marbles, I didn’t see her come in. When she touched the bars of the crate, I nearly did howl — my first genuine act in this show. She saw how much she had startled me and giggled a sound that the angels in heaven could not replicate. I stammered a bit asking if she’d like to play, and she had a shooter in her hand before the words found their way out. I had never seen a girl this close before, at least one whose face wasn’t contorted with fear. While she was stealing my marbles with every turn, I was stealing glances. I


studied every feature, memorized every golden hair on her head, watched every place the pink dress kissed her soft skin. The way her eyes met with mine. Not my freakish hair, tattered clothes, garish fangs or my otherwise toothless smile, but my eyes. The way she looked at me made me realize I had never been seen before. She finally missed. As I lined up a shot, she cleared her throat. “Don’t you hate it here, being treated like an animal?” “I really do…but I love my family, and there is not much work out there for a wolf-boy”. I gave an exaggerated howl and pretended to scratch my ear with my foot. She giggled again, shaking the stars and toppling me over sideways. I was suddenly very aware of my appearance. I pulled straw from my hair, and wiped my face and clothes clear of a couple layers of dust. My eyes darted back to hers, hoping against all hope that she hadn’t noticed my sorry grooming ritual. She seemed to be very interested in a particular spot on her hand at the moment, but when I stopped moving, her gaze jumped right back up to meet mine. For a moment, swimming the span of her iris, I forgot the marbles in my hand. Forgot everything, really. I had never dared to kiss anyone but mother, and even that was years ago, yet somehow, I felt this urge, this draw towards her lips. As if they wanted me to…actually wanted me to. She looked down and smoothed her dress. The straw under her feet shifted as she stepped closer to the cage. She closed her eyes, and her smile faded into this gentle, wonderful, terrifying pout. I couldn’t feel it at first, but I was leaning in to oblige my racing heart.


Just then, a group for the next show burst in with a shattering sound. The pink dress shook as the girl started; then, instinctively, those pursed lips spat out. “Ah! Freak, don’t dare!” The crowd exploded. Could I think a girl of any normal capacity was interested in me? As the girl backed away through the raucous crowd, I met her final, furtive glance. And I felt for her. Even through my salty tears and self-pitying rage I felt for her. I leave my cage. My family and I go home, we take off the ridiculous false fangs Mr. Riley makes us wear. We share food and music and laughs and none of the expectation that others have for us. It made me wonder who was the one in the cage all that time. Was I, here in my iron-barred square the world’s only free inhabitant? At least, as my father says, we wear our obscenities on our sleeves.

Jon Johnson


Gulliver visits the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Ten gargantuan spectators are seated in the dress circle for the best view of the lake below them. They have no heads; layered swathes of cedars float between their absent eyes and the muddy slope. The stage is set near the Lower Park but the crew’s gone home, leaving a hybrid Brobdingnag, whose human hands direct the line of vision offstage into coniferous wings. Her hare head discloses fear, in backward streaming ears. She has fallen on strange times, as cogs and locks and kitchen implements have ossified her womanly limbs. A mulch of autumn leaves softens the ground beneath her knees. Huge, also, the hedge of evergreens in the dingy orangery, where nothing is in reach except one raspberry-ripple camellia bloom. The eternity fountain’s liquid light plays on for no audience; its trickle dies beneath the motor’s noise. These other worlds unwelcome their small visitors, proclaiming

This door should remain closed at all times. Hannah Stone


The Doors

I had this dream where I was riding a motorcycle with my brother. Through a rainstorm. A flat, bludgeoning downpour. Lightning scarring its way across the vapid black canvas stretched 360 degrees about us. We passed a ramshackle garage, wooden slats curling outward like peeling paint, the whole façade arthritic. We reached a trailer home, an aged, off-white color, dented in the rear, diminutive in the vastness of what could have been Wyoming or just a plains-scape in any old unfilled-in dream. We dismounted. We went inside. We were greeted by a rugged middle-aged couple. I told my brother that I’d forgotten something. That I knew it was at the garage we’d passed. That we needed to go back and get it. He volunteered to go alone. Back out into the storm. The lightning frenzy. The couple warned against it. He went anyway. I heard the muted roar of the motorcycle, the soft puttering of its engine as it receded into the depths. The couple offered me fried chicken, cold, from a take-out bucket in the fridge. It was the only appliance in the one-room trailer. We sat at a rickety folding table. I ate a piece of chicken. We heard lightning. I ate another piece of chicken. We heard more lightning. We waited. They told me my brother died. They told me whatever he had gone to get would not be coming back since he would not be coming back. I asked for another piece of chicken. I’m not sure if I ate it but I had it in my right hand before I woke up. When I rolled over, wondered at the trade that had taken place. Wondered if I was supposed to go pad down the hall in my Spiderman pajamas, rap softly on my brother’s door, if only to hear the reassurance in a sleep-quaking “go away.” If only to think that it was him sending me out into the night, the dark, the lightning. To feel a stab, a shock of light, a rapture. Before going under. Before coming up. Before rising with an irreplaceable swiftness. Before returning to bed, fearful of a recurrence. Before wondering if my door and the door to the trailer in my dream weren’t actually the same door. That to close one was to close both. Michael Prihoda


Germany Judith R. Robinson



You began to measure cups in teaspoons of sugar place them all in a line along the windowsill. You did this hour after hour. Your neighbour asked if you needed help. You said yes – more sugar more cups. She went to the local supermarket, brought you white sugar with blue and white striped mugs. When you’d completed one row you started another. When you ran out of deep Victorian windowsills in the kitchen, bathroom, ballroom upstairs toilet, downstairs toilet, conservatory, guest bedroom, swimming pool, music room, you started a row on the floor in front of the window and just kept going. More neighbours came – you asked for more sugar more cups. They brought you caster sugar brown sugar white cups black cups. You kept filling them up, one teaspoon at a time. Your husband knows better than to interfere. Your children are away at university counting pints of lager and packets of crisps tins of beans and cans of tuna and which pieces of bread are still edible despite the mould. They are counting words in essays, deleting them, putting them back in. Not phoning you for countless days. When they do phone they count the minutes till they are free again. They count hours till seminars are over. They count condoms till they can get to the chemist again. Your husband counts stocks and shares. You count sugar. Bethany Rivers


Self-Portrait With & Without With soy milk. With a latte drunk each morning in the dark kitchen. Without the lights on because you slept on the couch again and I don’t want to wake you. With dinner with friends, everything fine. Without conversation during the car ride back. With negotiations as to who walks the dog when we get home. With you in front of the computer when I go to bed. Without the weight of you beside me. Without my rings on when I sleep because my fingers swell. With them on the next day, newly cleaned and brilliant. With the sun prisming off the diamonds as I drive to work. With me spinning them around as I fly, my fingers puffy by the time I land. Without them on when I shower away the day’s grime. With my hands bare as I open the door and let him in. With my hands on him. Without a word said. Courtney LeBlanc



This home is not what it was made to be. In the heat between our birthplaces, you discover the sound of skin breaking and watch it muscle into flesh, eroding tissue. Imagine shadow poised to kill upon the night’s keen tongue in a world where sacrifice is understood for what it’s worth. And because I know what it means when girls howl into god’s closed mouth, when fires scorch bone into plumes of black remembrance, when boy becomes boy before greater body unyielding, I take no one home but my own body still a stranger, still twitching with the ghost of it, and press my lips to what’s left of your own, arms stunted with a final jerk of motion. Nikki Velletri


The Trap Lauren Walsburg



A sparrow hawk has pinned a starling on its back, wings spread on my soft lawn. The starling is alive and strains its head to watch the hawk tear out feathers, skin, heart and lungs on a string. I do not interfere. We are superior to a hawk. When we do the same we know what we are doing. Chris Hardy


Three Days

When the monk woke, there was still mist on the bog and the sky was pale with coming morning. The air was cool and clammy. Fiacre stepped out of his hut towards the well, his brown cloak drinking in the shining dew as he brushed past the tall heather. A rough circle of stones marked the well hole and that morning, on the largest lichen-blasted stone, he found a fleshless skull. Then he remembered the dream. The night before, Fiacre had felt an unusual barrenness as he recited his final prayers. It was a relief to him when he fell asleep quickly afterwards. But as he slept, he saw skulls. Showers of white bony skulls of all kinds, some thick and robust, others small and brittle as eggshells. They poured through his mind with shivering clarity. Then he heard a voice. The voice told him that he would see three skulls on three successive days: a fox’s skull first, followed by a sparrow’s, and finally a sheep’s skull. The voice told him that he must kill and consume a fox on the first day, a sparrow on the second, and a sheep on the third day. The voice told him that then he would be at peace. The voice, Fiacre knew, was God’s voice. That day, Fiacre walked down from the moors into the valley. He walked through the oak woods until he found a black hole burrowed into an earthen bank veined with twisted roots. He waited there until dusk, crouched among the weeds and the deadfall. When the fox appeared, he pounced and strangled it with one hand. He carried the dead fox back to his hut and when he had finished eating he placed the severed uncooked head beside the naked fox’s skull he had found that morning.


The next day, he found a sparrow’s skull by the well, small and round and smooth as a sea-stone. He sprinkled breadcrumbs by the entrance of his hut and waited. When a sparrow came, he struck it dead with his walking stick. He went to bed hungry that night but slept without stirring. On the third day, when he went to the well, he found a sheep’s skull as he had expected. It was crawling with fuzzy tendrils of moss. The fox’s head was beginning to smell. The bright fur was speckled with black flies. The sparrow’s little head was gone, carried away by crows perhaps. Fiacre went down to the valley again this day, but this time towards the little fields where men lived. He held a bundle of rope in his left hand. He tied the rope around the neck of the first sheep he saw and began to drag it back towards the hills. A tall, lean farmer in rags came after him with a club. Fiacre explained that he must, for God, take this sheep and the man turned back, screaming. He ate well that night. He devoured slab after slab of mutton until he felt ill. Eventually, he walked out into the bog beneath the stars and cast the leftover meat on a pile of old ruinous stones, hoping the wolves would take it. Then he put the sheep’s head out by the well. He tried to pray that night but without avail. It was the third night running. He settled to sleep, cold beneath his thin blanket, and hoped the morning would bring something new.


That night he did not dream at all. When he woke, it was late but the day was dark. Clouds as black as burnt wood roofed the silent moors. Gusts of wind pushed slowly over the fields of heather, paling distant hillsides as they passed. Fiacre made for the well. A pair of grouse were startled by his approach and whirred away to safety. The stones about the well had been cleared, but, in place of those animal remains, on the fourth day, Fiacre found a human skull, shattered and jawless. And then he knew that God had broken his promise.

Dermot O’Sullivan



When the man said pray we all knelt even though I knew he was not a preacher of any sort Robert Beveridge


the devil’s in the detail Gillian Rule



Nigel peered into the brass-framed mirror and adjusted his fuchsia-pink turban. He rubbed a thick finger under one eye. It had been a mistake to wear eyeliner. It looked like he had taken a punch at one of the frequent brawls at the Ship on a Saturday night. His ear lobes stung from the grip of his clip-on earrings that swung like saucers, clinking whenever he moved his head. Damn you Fred, he muttered, not for the first time that day. It had seemed like a good idea two nights ago, with three pints inside him, his wallet empty and the rent falling due on Monday. Fred, the usual occupant of the fortune teller’s booth, was having to take off to Southport because his mum was ill. “Easy money my friend,” Fred (or ‘The Great Frederico’, to use his professional name) had assured him. “I’ve paid upfront for that spot, no point it going to waste on the holiday weekend.” He’d clapped Nigel on the shoulder. “All you need is the gift of the gab. I’ll give you some pointers. You’ll be fine.” Well, so much for easy money. Since he’d opened up he’d spent most of the time playing a form of patience with the tarot cards and getting a headache from the incense. His only visitor had been someone wanting to know what time the aquarium opened. Nigel’s stomach was starting to rumble. The smell of fried donuts was wafting in from outside. He could hear the squeals of youngsters on the pier rides. Someone had started to play a barrel organ – ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.’ That was it. Time to take off this stupid get-up and nip to the Ship for a liquid lunch. Whether he’d return, he couldn’t say. He had half a mind to pack the whole thing


in. He scrabbled on the floor for the sign that read ‘back in 5 mins,’ swearing when he hit his head on the corner of the velvet-covered table. A change in the light, and a faint breeze coming through the open curtain made him aware that someone was standing in the doorway. He looked up. The newcomer had very dark skin, tightly curled black hair, and despite the warm day he wore a dirty, grey jacket and long trousers that did not quite reach his ankles. His feet, Nigel noticed, were bare inside his worn leather shoes. Not the kind of customer he’d expected. Or wanted. “Sorry, I’m just closing for lunch,” Nigel said. The man’s shoulders slumped and his head bowed as he turned to leave. “Wait. What is it you’re after? I could do a quick palm read.” “How much?” His voice was quiet, heavily accented. Nigel thought. “A fiver.” The man’s jaw worked as if he were debating with himself. Then he pulled out a note and stared at it before handing it over. I should have asked for eight, Nigel thought, as his new customer lowered himself onto the stool opposite. The man placed his hand, palm upwards, on the low table in front of him. The bones stuck out of his wrist. A dusty-looking knee poked through a worn patch in his trousers. “Down for the day then are you?” asked Nigel. Fred had said it was important to ask questions before offering predictions of the future. The man shook his head. “I live here. Two months.” He named an area of the town that Nigel had heard of. He’d seen it on the local news, and on leaflets put through the door.


He was one of those. Asylum seekers. He glanced around the hut. No valuables to speak of, unless you counted the phone and wallet in his pocket. Well if he tried anything, Nigel was pretty sure he could take him on. Nigel flicked his eyes downwards. The man’s fingers were long, the pink pallor of his palm an odd contrast with the rest of him. Come to think of it, he didn’t smell too good. Better make it quick. “Er, right.” What did you say to one of these people? He thought for a few moments. Then speaking slowly, in a deep voice, he said, “I see a long journey.” That was an obvious one. “A strange place. Lots of people. Some are friends, some are enemies.” There’d been protests outside the council buildings, graffiti sprayed at bus stops. Scroungers fuck off. “Watch out for someone close, whom you cannot trust.” He bent closer over the man’s palm. “Something you have wanted for a long time is about to happen.” He glanced up. The man seemed to be listening. Nigel continued in his sonorous tone, “You have been waiting to make a difficult decision but the time will come when you must choose. Someone is jealous of you.” He thought back to some of the phrases Fred had given him. “You have a secret admirer but they are too shy to tell you. A family matter will soon be resolved.” He looked to see what effect his words were having. “A family matter?” the man repeated. Perhaps this had struck a chord. “Do not let your in-laws upset you.” The man was frowning.


Nigel continued on a different tack. “I see a woman.” The man gave a start. “She is… beautiful.” This was better. “I also see a child…” the man was leaning forward, “A boy… and girl. Yes, a boy and girl. With, er, dark hair.” There was a sudden draught from the doorway and a shaft of light entered the hut, illuminating the curls of smoke rising from the incense. “You will soon find…” Nigel stopped as he realised the man was trying to speak. “Sorry, what?” “Where are they?” repeated the man, emphasising each word. “Er, they are… on a journey. A long journey.” Nigel looked up. The man was staring at him, his eyes glistening and bloodshot. “But where? Are they safe?” “Safe?” “Yes. Alive. Are they alive? Tell me.” This was getting a bit heavy. “Trust in fate. All things happen for a reason which may not be clear at first.” The man’s face was frozen in an expression that looked like pain. Outside, the noise of the barrel organ had stopped. Nigel was starting to feel uncomfortable. The tent was rather small, and the two of them were in close proximity. Better wrap up. He made a show of examining the stranger’s palm once more, then leaned back in his chair. “That’s it. Nothing further is revealed to me.” The man’s features loosened. “Nothing?” His voice was stricken. “You don’t know… what happened to them?” There was a pause. Nigel shrugged. “They’re on a journey…” he began again, but his voice petered out. Fred’s phrases seemed to have left his head.


Eventually, the man stood, his shoulders hanging as if all the life had gone out of them. He gave Nigel an indecipherable look. Nigel rose too, confirming the session was over. He could see a lump in the stranger’s throat moving up and down. Suddenly, the man’s arms shot out and he seized Nigel’s shoulders. The stool clattered to the ground. “Hey, hey!” Nigel shoved at his chest, but he could already feel the man’s grip slackening. A rare sense of restraint stopped him pushing him to the ground. For a second they stood opposite each other, locked in a strange embrace. Then the man’s arms dropped. Without speaking, he turned to the door, brushing one hand against his cheek. Nigel watched his bent back disappear through the drapes. He was alone in the dimness once more. His arms tingled where the man’s fingers had pressed into his flesh. His wallet was digging into his thigh, the man’s fiver stowed within. He now wished he didn’t have it. Wished the guy had never come in. Where are they, he had said. It had been months since Nigel had seen his own daughter. She was growing so fast. When are you coming back to live with us, Daddy? she’d asked last time, through a mouthful of ice cream. There had been real desperation in his eyes. He’d never seen anything like it. Outside, a seagull cried, breaking the thick silence of the booth. The guy was looking for his family. Was there something he could do? What if he offered to help him make some calls, or use the internet? Short of that, maybe just a cup of tea and something to eat…


Without taking off his turban, he pushed his way through the curtain and out of the booth. The daylight hurt his eyes. Squinting, he surveyed the crowds moving along the Blackpool promenade. The beach was packed. Children squealed and waved from the Ferris wheel. He looked this way and that, craning his neck while his heart thudded in his chest. Then, almost lost in the throng, he saw a bowed head, moving away. With his earrings swinging madly, Nigel started after him.

Angelita Bradney


The Migraine

Out of phase, lagging in time, out of touch— the finger misses itself in the mirror. He studies himself, rubbing the soft flesh of his belly. He considers the unstylish but not unruly hair, fresh from the bed. The morning too bright— his head wears a cascading kippah of sensation. The claw-like nerve scratching deep groves into his consciousness, reptilian emotion oozing like puss. The eye that turns back— the searing shard pushing through the retina to the brain. Confused by sunlight, by brightness, a gong echoes in the skull. Popping pills. Blood pressure rising. Heart palpitating. Like a slug in the sun, he melts, melts back into the earth— Daryl Muranaka


The Engineer

I once thought he blew out the wind, as I saw plumes from those giant tumblers, a make-up of spray, forests of pipework. He made us a house from gas, holidays from puffs of smoke. Like a genie he appeared back home, tired - and full of equations. He drove us to the refinery at night, where the lights made magic cities against cobalt cloud. I thought he must be a wizard, saw him sit inside the cooling tower, a storm in a giant's cup, with concentration, burn perforated computer paper, into ash and fire. Lit gigantic incense sticks to make such a plume. He must be powerful, I wondered, from the car windows, as powerful as the moon. His arcane mathematics scribbled in spider writing, he let me try on his hard hat, which never saved him from being blown down. All that fire and water, all that oil, burned him when the spell was exhausted and they shut the plant down. Jessica Mookherjee


No More Heroes

The big breakthrough came when Dominic least expected it. He had been experimenting with the cloning technology when he inadvertently leaned on the 3D printer. And the big breakthrough broke through. Calculating how best to capitalise on it, he decided that in these troubled times, what people wanted, what people needed, were heroes. And so BecomeYourOwnHero.com was born. The sole proviso was that the hero must be alive, and the client must have a good quality image of them to upload. Dominic didn’t want people turning into a blurred Mahatma Gandhi, or Cleopatra as portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor. There were forms to fill in, that the client would not enter into any contracts or carry out any transactions as their hero, but that was merely to indemnify Dominic: he didn’t give a damn what they did once they had paid him. Some results were predictable. Nobody wanted to be Theresa May, not even Theresa May. She turned herself into Rihanna, and satisfied her predilection for high hems and low necklines. Andy Murray wanted to be Andy Murray and began winning again. There were an awful lot of footballers. Other results less so. Dominic’s impetus was entirely commercial, but he had envisaged that most people’s heroes would be relatively good role models, such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes, minus much of his fingers but still with a remarkable can-do attitude; Meghan Markle, glamour and incipient royalty with a social conscience; Pope Francis, tootling around in his Renault 4; Iceland’s new lady prime minister who combined impeccable green credentials with a deep knowledge of crime fiction. Dominic himself


chose to be the Dalai Lama, because he thought saffron and maroon went with his colouring, although he ended up having to keep on a sweatshirt. Wakefield was perishing. If he had thought that people might do something wacky, it would have been along the lines of filling in the census as Jedi knights, using the Force to help those in need. What he didn’t count on was the hundreds of thousands of customers, male and female, who for reasons of political stance, irony, or possibly mental health issues, chose to be Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and Kim Jong Un. These individuals had no actual power, but they proved deeply unpleasant neighbours and colleagues. The Trumps tweeted offensive messages, the Putins stuck pins in people and claimed they were nerve agents, and the Kims dropped things on people’s heads and said they were nuclear missiles. In the end, the victims found it easier to change job or move house. Dominic tried to find someone who had taken on the role of UN SecretaryGeneral António Guterres, but nobody had, and the real one had stopped taking calls. Dominic’s wife, who had initially thought of becoming Darcey Bussell, but at the last minute changed to Kim Kardashian, was no use. If she had any trouble from anyone, she said, she simply sat on them. But Dominic was finding himself increasingly influenced by the Dalai Lama’s outlook, and felt that sitting on people with a view to subjugating them was wrong. But there was enough of Dominic left in his psyche to prevent him adopting the Dalai Lama’s phlegmatic enlightenment. And there was enough of Dominic left to make him feel guilty at having unleashed this new wave of suffering on the world in


the interests of lining his own pockets, pockets he no longer had, given the saffron and maroon robes. He went back to his experiments, and eventually the solution presented itself. He bottled the solution and placed it by the 3D printer. Then he went to the bedroom to find his wife who was taking her hundredth selfie of the day in front of the mirrored wardrobes. He had never liked Kim Kardashian, but he still had a vestige of affection for the woman his wife had been. He gave her a kiss, and a pat on her immoveable rump. At least she would be happy during the process, and might even manage a few more selfies en route to oblivion. He returned to the printer, and poured the solution into it. The sensation began at his feet and slowly worked its way up. It wasn’t unpleasant, merely a numbing heaviness, and the others who had become their own heroes wouldn’t understand the implications. Only Dominic knew that they were all gradually turning into cardboard. When the process was complete, they would be able to be folded up and put in the recycling bin. The only people left in the world would be those who had no heroes and that, Dominic reflected, was no bad thing.

Olga Wojtas


1.9 Cars Per Every 1.8 People

The news triumphantly blares:

Cars have finally overtaken Population. The vehicles I’ve owned outright or shared jointly with boyfriends and husbands constitute a politically incorrect, unpatriotic assemblage. There was the Volkswagen (common folks buggy) from post post-war that rolled, didn’t maim, let me climb out through its crunched sunroof. Somehow, I’m still here. There were the Saabs 99 and Turbo from Sweden, one free-wheeling precursor of automatic, the other fuel-injected-ice-grabbing. The 99, my bridal carriage to second marriage. Both sickened at high altitudes where we happened to live. Peugeots (2) from France with their stinky fuel and backward engines. Poor kids strapped in, hauled frantically in search of diesel. Chief Cherokee (one native American that snuck in, this model’s name a slur) always drunk on gasoline. We paid a hit man to send Chief to the great bone yard. The Japanese contingent: Mitsubishi, Toyota, Subaru which could fast 20,000 miles between oil changes, which were pronounced Totaled by insurance. Scoffing at this prognosis, one had to be euthanized. BMW, post-Berlin wall, which my husband gave me after he had his way with it. Arrested me on Hwy 17 at the canyon’s edge when I ricocheted off the divider (so glad it was there). The list is as cracked as our freeways. Useless as the carpool lane. One driver per car purring along. Cathryn Shea


Red Car Ana Prundaru


Reclaim the street

They objected to that metal lamp post. They, the posh house opposite, complained to planners, whinging on about dark skies. I like its stencilled number, black on yellow, 114S7, grey zinc brontosaurus neck, all-seeing orange eye. I like the fact the message of their ball-top gateposts, Flemish bond and Cotswold gravel isn’t what it used to be. No us and them now private chippings meet with public tarmac; we all bathe in nanny neon, surfaces democratised at night.

Kathy Gee



The moon bright, I stood outside my car staring over the canyon waiting for epiphany. She sat in the passenger’s seat and waited for me to finish my cigarette. The wind warmed my cheeks. I threw the cigarette and crushed it into Earth. Another full breath of mountain air and a glance back at the giant silver dollar in the sky. I opened the door and sat. She looked into me. “Where are we headed?” She asked. “West.” “It’s always ‘west’,” she said. “What’s wrong with that?” I said. “Where does ‘west’ end?” “It doesn’t.” I turned the key.

Jake Zawlacki



Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in The Nixes Mate Review, Violet Rising, and The Road Less Travelled, among others. Mason Binkley lives and works as an attorney in Tampa, Florida. His writing has appeared in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Maudlin House, Jellyfish Review, Ellipsis Zine, and other places. His Twitter home is @mason_binkley. Annie Blake is an Australian writer, thinker and researcher. She is a wife and mother of five children. Her main interests include psychoanalysis, metaphysics and metacognition. She is currently interested in arthouse writing which explores the surreal nature and symbolic meanings of unconscious material through nocturnal and diurnal dreams and fantasies. Her writing is a dialogue between unconscious material and conscious thoughts and synchronicity. You can visit her on annieblakethegatherer.blogspot.co.uk Angelita Bradney is the winner of the 2017 National Memory Day short story prize, and she has also been shortlisted in other competitions including the Fish Prize. Her fiction has been published online and in print, and performed by Liars' League. She lives in London, in a house overlooked by a large walnut tree and lots of squirrels. Twitter: @AngelBradn. Stephanie Chang is a high school sophomore from Western Canada. She is a National Gold Medalist for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and a Best New Poets 2018 nominee. Renata Connors is a poet and songwriter based in Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear. Her poems were published in webzines Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Fat Damsel, Rat's Ass Review and in the Kind of a Hurricane press journal Napalm and Novocaine. She has performed her poetry and songs at many different venues around the North East. Some of her song lyrics can be found here: http://renataandtrevlyricsarchive.bitballoon.com/ David Cook’s stories have been published in the National Flash Fiction Anthology, Riggwelter Press, Flash Fiction Magazine, Spelk and more. You can find more of his work at www.davewritesfiction.wordpress.com and say hello on Twitter @davidcook100. He lives in Bridgend, Wales, with his wife and daughter, who wasn’t bought from a shop.


Martyn Crucefix’s most recent publications are The Lovely Disciplines (Seren, 2017) and two chapbooks: O. at the Edge of the Gorge (Guillemot Press, 2017) and A Convoy (If a Leaf Falls Press, 2017). He has also translated the poetry of Rilke and more recently the Daodejing – a new version in English (Enitharmon, 2016). He blogs regularly on many aspects of poetry, translation and teaching: http://www.martyncrucefix.com Jenny Donnison completed an MA in English Literature and Creative Writing at Sheffield University (2012). She is now studying for a PhD, a creative exploration of the representation of animals in contemporary poetry. Her poems have appeared in Now Then, Route 57, The Sheffield Anthology, Zoomorphic and online. Eric Fisher Stone is a poet, originally from Fort Worth, Texas, USA, who now lives in Ames, Iowa. He is currently a graduate student at Iowa State University in creative writing and the environment. His poetry has appeared in over a dozen literary journals, including, The Lyric, The Hopper, Eunoia Review, among others. His first full length poetry collection, titled The Providence of Grass is forthcoming from Chatter House Press this year. He loves animals. Kathy Gee’s career is in heritage and leadership coaching and she only started writing poetry in 2011. Widely published online and on paper, in 2016 a collection, Book of Bones, was published by V. Press and she wrote the spoken word elements for a contemporary choral piece - http://suiteforthefallensoldier.com/ Chris Hardy’s poems have been widely published in magazines, anthologies and online. He is a musician, in LiTTLe MACHiNe performing settings of well-known poems. Chris’s fourth collection Sunshine at the end of the world was published August 2017 by Indigo Dreams Publishing. “A guitarist as well as a poet Chris Hardy consistently hits the right note, never hits a false note" - Roger McGough. For more information, poems and links see: http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/chrishardypage.shtml For the most part, Jon Johnson has no clue what is going on. Time not spent scratching his head is typically spent writing, eating, and trying to figure himself out. Jon enjoys creation and expression in all forms. His work has been published in Memoir Mixtapes and the book Reflections and Illuminations from Braburn Publishing. Check out Jon’s other adventures, on social @jonneeringo, or visit him in Mallorca. Karen Jones is a prose writer from Glasgow with a preference for flash and short fiction. She has been successful in various writing competitions including Mslexia, Flash 500, Words With Jam, New Writer, Writers’ Forum, Writers’ Bureau and Ad Hoc Fiction. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, ezines and print anthologies. In 2014 she published a short story collection, The Upside-Down Jesus and other stories.


Rebecca Kokitus lives in Media, PA just outside Philadelphia. She is an aspiring poet and is currently an undergraduate in the writing program at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She has been previously published by Philosophical Idiot and has forthcoming work in Moonchild Magazine and Lemon Star Magazine. She tweets at @rxbxcca_anna. Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press) and is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Public Pool, Rising Phoenix Review, The Legendary, Germ Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Brain Mill Press, Haunted Waters Press, and others. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. www.wordperv.com, @wordperv, www.facebook.com/poetry.CourtneyLeBlanc. Clare Lindley is an artist based in rural North Yorkshire, her work is created by handcutting paper, in many layers and colours, ending up with a finished piece. Nature is a strong influence, but it is depicted with imagination and more than a little artistic license. Animals or the human figure are always present. She has just had her first illustrated children’s book published, a collaboration with writer Peter Lynas. 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 Transporter visitors centre, Middlesbrough. Jessica Mookherjee is of Bengali origin and was raised in Wales. She is widely published, including Agenda, The North, Rialto, Under the Radar. Her pamphlets are The Swell (TellTale Press, 2016) and Joyride (Black Light Engine Room Press). She had a poem highly commended in the Forward Prize 2017 for best single poem. Her first collection, Flood, will be published by Cultured Llama in Spring 2018. She is co-editor of

Against the Grain Poetry Press. Daryl Muranaka lives in the Boston area with his wife and two children. He enjoys aikido and taijiquan and exploring his children’s dual heritages. His poems have appeared in By&By Poetry, the Roanoke Review, and Spry Literary Review. He has published one collection and a chapbook. Dermot O'Sullivan is from Dublin, Ireland. He studied English Literature in Trinity College, Dublin. His work has been published in various journals including The Honest Ulsterman, Causeway/Cabhsair, The Incubator and Fence. He currently lives in Brazil, where he recently had his first full-length play produced.


Michael Prihoda is a teacher, writer, and editor living in Indianapolis, IN. He is the editor of After the Pause, a literary magazine and nonprofit small press. He is the author of two chapbooks and five poetry collections, the most recent of which is The First Breath You Take After You Give Up (Weasel Press, 2016). Ana Prundaru lives in Zurich, Switzerland. Recent work appears in Aerogramme Writers’ Studio, Indefinite Space, Storm Cellar and more. Her latest poetry book is Anima, by Dancing Girl Press. Bethany Rivers' pamphlet, Off the wall was published by Indigo Dreams (2016). Previous publications include: Envoi, Cinnamon Press, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Obsessed

with Pipework, The Ofi Press, Clear Poetry, Picaroon Poetry, I am not a silent poet, Bare Fiction, The Lake, Tears in the fence and The Lampeter Review. She teaches and mentors the writing of memoir, novels and poetry: www.writingyourvoice.org.uk Judith R. Robinson is a visual artist, editor, fiction writer and poet. A 1980 summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, she is listed in the Directory of American Poets and Writers. She has published 75+ poems, five poetry collections, one fiction collection; one novel; edited or co-edited eleven poetry collections. Teacher: Osher at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Her newest collection, Carousel, was published in January, 2017, Lummox Press. Gillian Rule is an Irish artist based in Donegal. Gillian takes her inspiration for her paintings from her coastal surroundings, rural landscapes, angels and her great love of animals. More of her work can be seen on her Facebook page Gillian Rule Art. Do check her page out. Cathryn Shea’s recent chapbooks are My Heart is a Salt Mirror Like Salar de Uyuni (a micro-chapbook with Rinky Dink Press, 2018) and It’s Raining Lullabies (Dancing Girl Press, 2017). Her poetry was nominated for Best of the Net 2017 and recently appears in Tar River Poetry, Permafrost, and Tinderbox, among others. See www.cathrynshea.com and @cathy_shea on Twitter. Hannah Stone has two collections in print - Lodestone (Stairwell Books, 2016) and Missing Miles (Indigo Dreams Publishing 2017). She convenes the poets/composers forum for Leeds Lieder Festival and was a co-editor of the poetry ezine Algebra of Owls. Christina Thatcher is a part-time teacher and PhD student at Cardiff University where she studies how creative writing can impact the lives of people bereaved by addiction. Christina is the Poetry Editor for The Cardiff Review and a freelance workshop facilitator and festival coordinator. Her first collection, More than you were, was shortlisted in Bare Fiction's Debut Poetry Collection Competition in 2015 and published by Parthian Books in April 2017. christinathatcher.com @writetoempower.


Dr. Jeffrey Toney has published scientific peer-reviewed articles, news media opinion pieces as well as short fiction stories in Sick Lit Magazine, O-Dark-Thirty, the literary journal of The Veterans Writing Project, The East Coast Literary Review and in 2 Elizabeths. Recently, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He serves as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Kean University. Nikki Velletri is a high school junior from Massachusetts. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and it is published or forthcoming in Words Dance, Eunoia Review, and Kingdoms in the Wild, among others. Lauren Walsburg is an Australian writer, editor, and artist. She has been published in Skive Magazine, Positive Words, Cauldron Anthology and The Mystic Blue Review. Her debut poetry collection Ink Stained Heart was released in April 2017. She is the Fiction Editor of Cauldron Anthology. For more information visit https://laurenwalsburg.com. Tomasz Wiszniewski hopes to stimulate human connection through often surreal but vividly relatable stories. He recently finished his first collection of poetry, and is brainstorming for his first novel. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in OCCULUM, be about it zine, Figroot Press, Ghost City Review, and Corvus Review, among others. He is on twitter @tomxwinters Olga Wojtas is a writer in Edinburgh. She won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2015, and has had more than 30 short stories published in literary magazines and anthologies. Her debut novel, Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar, an affectionate homage to Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, was published in January. Rodney Wood lives in Farnborough His poems have recently appeared in Magma, Envoi, the Lake and Morphrog. A pamphlet Dante Called You Beatrice was published by the Red Ceiling Press in 2017. He also runs a Spoken Word night in Aldershot. Jake Zawlacki currently lives in the Kyrgyz Republic where he studies the health impact of traditional cradle board techniques. He has been published in 101words, zeroflash, Romance Magazine, Aphelion, and Litro. You can follow his research and read about his strange and exciting life at jzawlacki.com.



`Gulliver visits the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’ by Hannah Stone was previously published on leadstoleeds.com (February 2016)