White blossom

In the gutter
white blossom

In dark skies
clouds burst
with menace.

In a dream
faces merge
with yours.

In a church
voices echo,
they echo.

Mark O'Loughlin

Button, Inevitable

She was an engineer and physicist with an interest in cosmology, an historical discipline forever looking into the past, which is itself forever. Over time and in secret she invented this thing: a device, a button. The kind that you pressed. The button was housed within a box that contained two half-lived and particular isotopes separated by a brittle crystal oriented to the vertical.

The mechanics of operation were simple: depression bore the column down upon the upper isotope, crushing the crystal and bringing it into contact with its lower counterpart. Some might have described the process as brutal but this was refuted by the fragility of the crystal: a slivered boundary; the difference between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.

The physics of the mechanism were more complex. Certain calculations based on the properties of the isotopes – as well as those of the crystal – had been made and processed via particularly imaginative formulae, resulting in a number of different hypotheses, all of which arrived at the same conclusion, albeit one that remained untested (1).

The box comprised a lead-lined inner cube and an outer aluminium shell, with four plastic nubbins on the base. The button was made of danger-red rubber and it was protected from accidental activation by a transparent lid that could be locked with a key. It was no bigger than a child’s picture cube and only a touch more weighty (2).

If the existence of the button became known it would be referred to as something grand and destructive, or omniscient and all-powerful (3), but she believed it to be both more and also less than that. The button – like all good solutions – was simple and elegant and it wasn’t so much a question of would she or wouldn’t she, but when, because once such a button has been created how can it not be pushed?

(1) Obviously

(2) Early plans incorporated a factory reset option, but given the button’s function…

(3) ‘The Doomsday Button’; ‘The ‘Atropos Box’, etc.

JL Bogenschneider


Språngbrädor – ‘stepping stones’ (Swedish)

Some people slither around the corners of our lives
They emerge from the silence of shadows
to slip across the patterns of our roads
and then quickly sidestep the narratives
That pass as pavements and verbs
They are simply stepping stones, as we are to them.
Crossing lanes on motorways, jostling down highstreets,
bumping shopping trolleys
Like Tesco Trojans Asda Amazonians
These close encounters count for Lidl else…
We are gallous ghosts
We shake rattle and roll our change
as vampirical iridescent loaves of light
I love scruffiness and the secret smells of dusty books
Their words coiled in tea stains and vintage promises
I love the dishevelled ambiguity of discarded t shirts
and stepping around the toes of worn shoes
Criss-crossing the crumbs of croissants, I love the absence of Sky
Replaced by skies
And when bastilled by bees
I count amongst my number
the alchemy of landscapes corralled within discordant colours
ensconced in charity shops.

Sharon Wilkie-Jones


That film was on last night. That film I only ever see in hotels. That film I watched for the hundredth time because the reception was poor on every other channel. I thought about reading. I thought about that paperback, that slim paperback I keep in my suitcase just in case I forget to bring anything else. I thought about reading, or just going down to the bar, or just having a wank and going to sleep. I thought about those things but I watched the film instead. I watched it for the hundredth time. I watched the film, for the hundredth time, and wished again that they’d given that actress a bigger part. Wishing again that the one part I associate with that actress was more than just a walk on part with a few empty lines. I watched the film again with the same actress wishing they had given her a bigger part and thinking again how much she looks like her. No, thinking again how much she reminds me of her except she’s taller, she’s blonde, and never plays any parts which remind me of her. Thinking again how much this actress reminds me of her because I saw her interviewed once on a talk show, and something in her mannerisms and sense of humour, something in the way she looked at the interviewer, reminded me of her. So I watch the film for the hundredth time, wishing they had given that actress a bigger part, and reminding myself that the next time I talk to her I’ll tell her about the actress who reminds me of her. but I know I’ll never tell her about that actress who reminds me of her. So I watch the film for the hundredth time, turn off the television when the credits roll, have a wank thinking about her or the actress who reminds me of her, and go to sleep, and wait until the next time I’m staying in a hotel to see the same film, and have the same thoughts again.

Colm O'Shea

The Gatekeeper

“Are you a Muslim?”

Implosion on impact.


The man’s shallow gaze pierces my open eyes
In this chasm my silence echoes
Through the chambers of my soul

There she lies, beyond that gate
Her state and fate of late, it brings me to my knees
It brings me to her shores
Just beyond my fingertips

“Sir, could you please answer the question?” he asks.

She lies in wait
Does her heart still beat?
Her lips still whisper
For the truth

Will I outlive her everlasting love?
For I shall die if I do not hold her breath
One last time
Yet she would never cheat death
How could I cheat mine?

“Sir, your refusal…”

The words fall to my feet
Before they reach my ears
Is this my time?
To proclaim my undying love
Standing on the plinth of truth?

For what is left in these mortal coils
Without faith in more than myself?
She gave me that.
Let me save her
Save for her, here

My lips part
Between them, one word
My one heart, no longer in retirement
Therein my verdict lies
I shall see her again
I shall live forever
I choose immortality