Fumble mouth

The longer he had not been with a girl, the more nervous he found himself when chatting to them.

He would say “Anyone told you how attributive you are”.

He wished he could summon up the witty banter his circle of friends texted each other.

Out of his mouth came ‘Can I buy a pretzel girl like you a drink’, or ‘You doing anything latex tonight’.

The problem worsened. In the end a psychoanalyst told him he had developed predictive talking.

Julian Baker

Cynthia’s great disappointment.

Cynthia lived in a lighthouse.
The bulb had gone.
So it was just a house.

J A Allison

Cigarette Girl

I took a drag from a tab
then you floated out.
Like slow motion smoke
you hung in the space
in front of my eyes
for a few seconds, smiled,
and faded into the night –
as if the air sucked you into its lungs
with no intention of blowing you out.

Yet, still that image stirs sensors,
in a section of my brain
that deals with senses.
And that snapshot of December has me remembering
how the cold felt,
and how the air smelled of Marlboro reds,
and how we met at the bar later on,
and how now,
I breathe you in
and you dissolve into me.

John Baker

Stolen phone on George’s Street

Swimming upstream
Against the lunch crowd
coming down
Two mangy otters
high on river junk
have opportunity
in their eyes

Strike, a quick swoop
a long skinny arm
goes in for the lucky dip
and pulls out a fancy phone

Everybody swims on
over the man on the ground
holding on, red faced, full of instinct
But too weak against the strength
of a junky on a mission

The glee in his eyes
The smile on his face
The speed in his
body as he gets away.

Away off up the road
to god knows where
Dissolving into Camden street
with the Galaxy in his hand.

Joanne McLaughlin


She is made from freshly squeezed oranges
Bio ewes milk yoghurt
Organic nuts & apricots from Syria
Oolong tea & Tofu spread oatcakes
Moroccan Olives washed with sparkling dry wine
in the evenings while she listens to her favourite
Elgars Cello concerto.
He is made from strong milky tea
2 sugars please
fried egg sandwiches on the hop
burnt toast under beans & chips
sugary doughnuts pork pies and iced fingers
Golden Virginia & cans of Stella
in the evenings while he watches his favourite
A Touch of Frost episode.
Their rendezvous – in the privacy of their laptops
She gave him a vapour image; a surface smile
He said: ‘I like your style’
And gave her bland beige statistics in return.
She declared she wanted only a plutonic relationship,
Intimacy without sex,
someone to share events, experiences, to have fun with,
Nothing serious. Nothing more.
He said ‘Yeah….me too’
And shifted uncomfortably to change tactics
Music, favourite songs, favourite memories
Worst experiences, embarrassing tales,
boring dialogues about work
all shared feverishly every night
Till eventually
One night….
In an outburst of unguarded passion
Drinking one can of Stella too many;
Desire bred on his fingers
His lips, the root of his penis
And he declared;
Silence logged her out
The next morning, after a night of wrestling fantasies
She logged back on to find he’d sent her
The You Tube link
Of Frank & Nancy Sinatra
Singing ‘Something Stupid”
She would marry that sausage egg & chip man
As soon as he came back online….

Charlie Right

A Moment’s Harm in the Graveyard

Say hello to Hendon for me, I said.
Did you make it to the Olympics? she replied.

We met in a coffee house in Golders Green,
sat and watched the parade of Jewish families,
shalom, hello, moving between bakeries,
cafés and restaurants, halal.
Everything made you laugh; my northern accent,
all of its foibles, and the names of tube-stops,
especially and always Cockfosters.
I did visit the Olympic village; she returned
to London one summer,
and walked Traf.Square,
St.Pauls, Pal Mal – went as far out as Windsor.

There was a garden once, I remind her in email,
deep in the heart of Farringdon,
in the grounds of a church, where we sat
for the first time alone and kissed.
You were all jostle and frisk, but
a true English Gent must push to resist.
Pulling towards dusk, in august, amongst
the gravestones, we kissed, kissed
and kissed.

Christy Hall