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


Weird it was
(disgusting too)
That fresh day
When quietly
Walking to Sunday
Market the
Three of us
Showered by
The discarded
Falling remnants
Of a
Hurled from some
Overhanging balcony
Florence in her
New acrylic jumper
All of us
Unsure what to
Feel or think
Being touched all over
By the dry rain
Of somebody else’s

S. Andrus

The Tea

I make some tea and we sit down.
He sips and looks at me.
We talk and laugh, I look at him,
He sits and sips his tea.

He sits, just where you used to sit,
Right across from me.
I look at him, he looks at me
And sits and sips his tea.

If he was you, I’d touch him now,
But since he’s not I don’t.
I feel inside I hate him now,
For the things you did he won’t.

His look is not the same as yours,
Nor is his smile, his touch.
I know it’s mean, he’s not to blame,
It’s you I miss so much.

The room, the tea, the chair, the night,
All how it used to be.

The only the thing that feels so wrong:
It’s not you who looks at me.

Louisa Lorenz


Imagine pergatory’s a gameshow,
And Dale Winton is the host,
And he decides who goes to heaven,
By whose basket’s worth the most.

Floe Collins

Under the Weather

He looked up. The cloud which had been following him for several days was beginning to leak. He sighed; this was the last thing he needed. He would turn up to his date soaked to the skin and she would peer at the clear blue sky and wonder why she had agreed to meet such a dripping weirdo.
He had woken up one morning and discovered the cloud balancing above him, bobbing and white. Half asleep, he had made a playful swipe at its middle and felt the moist fluffiness beneath his fingertips. The cloud soon got embarrassing, however, following him all the way to work and into his office. A few of his colleagues had thought it endearing until it dimmed and unfettered a small thunderstorm over his desk. His spreadsheets were ruined and his laptop was scorched.
He began to run everywhere he went, in the hope of losing the perfectly rounded cloud. But it clung to the place above his head persistently; he could not lose it. And now it was about to shower over his date. He screwed his eyes shut in despair.
In the black distance he heard a chuckle. Just as he arrived at the cafe, a rogue ray of sunshine had hit his little cloud. Over their heads arched a perfect rainbow, and the woman was clasping her hands in delight. No-one’s ever brought me a rainbow before, she said. He could only smile and pat his damp burden happily.

Xenobe Purvis


A saccharine sensation, sticky and wet,
the morning on the tip of my tongue,
the night layered across my teeth.

Blue slithers of my eyes water themselves,
from between heavy lids, drip into waking
and find themselves regretful of their venture.

Hair plays at monkey games on my jungled face,
swinging from nose to ear to sky,
and i?
I remain unable to be swayed from the swaying.

Mercedes Dawson

Fan Fiction

When it comes to men in books
Everything’s about sex

They want

Mr Darcy in the drawing room

Heathcliff on the moors

Rochester and his great big


I don’t know
If I ever met Dorian Gray, I’d probably just ask him to tea.

Marjolein Heemskerk

London’s backwaters


In my hideout away from London in N1, I can hear birdsong and smell the sweet burnt coal from the boats. City noises evaporate and nature resounds.

High-pitched whistles and tweets from the birds push away the heights of crowded buildings, and the clouds are visible once more.

All I dream of is here, in amongst the concrete mass, yet so far removed. Urban sprawl conquered by nature’s sprawl. Lapping water carrying cares downstream.

And in the summer here, it is heaven. Only clouded by the thought of a full turn of the clock.

13:00 and London returns.

Alix Land

Sick Day

Discreetly sneezing into an elbow
(always your own)
in accordance with the latest advice
You are the master of cold and flu etiquette
Until, feeling bolder, you remove your cardigan
You forgot about the sodden tissues
stowed in sleeves
now raining to the ground
Your colleagues pretend not to notice
the two-ply chemical weapons you’ve just unleashed
Later they’ll say
She should have stayed at home.

Fiona Nelson

Blue Bicycle

you drop it right there
your blue bicycle
in the almost-grass of april
and it sinks in
just a little bit
like a tired dinosaur
the blue kind
i don’t know all the kinds
you talk about them a lot
but i always forget

David Luetke


i watch them
splayed fat across the sky.

we are the same,
pulled from within
towards the warmth of our mothers’ bellies.

suffocating from cold
we scream –
‘let us be free from this place’.

they, freed by flight
squeal and shout;
‘join us!’
and then they are gone,
smudged into the horizon.

i am left.
in the autumn leaves.

Lilly Warren

The Girl and the Tree


She first saw the tree when she climbed to the top of the Mount. She put down her satchel and caressed his skin; she pressed her cheek against his body and felt his strength. He sighed.

“Why were you born a tree while I was born a girl?” she asked him, gazing up to where his fingers touched the sky.

She visited the tree every day. In the summer months, the tree’s hair was green. She would strip off all her clothes and press her hot body against the tree’s cool flanks. In the autumn the tree’s hair turned reddy brown. She spent more and more time with the tree and spent less time in her home.

“You and I are just the same,” she’d say.

One evening, just as Autumn was becoming Winter, she ran away from home and went to see the tree.

“I wish I could stay here with you for ever,” she said.

She saw that much of the tree’s hair had fallen to the ground and lost its color. She felt so much tenderness that she wanted to scoop it up. She sat down, her back against him. The sun went down. When she thought about home, she knew that she would never go back. She would have to make her way up to the city. It would mean leaving the tree behind.

“Don’t you wonder what it would be like to be able to move around?” she asked him, wishing she could know what it was like to be so still.

That night, she told the tree all of the stories of her life. How she had never had anyone just be there for her before, or see her as she really was. She moved as close to his body as she could. She closed her eyes. She sensed the tree digging deep into the earth and growing into the air. She felt herself being drawn along with the Winter’s night inside the tree, melting out of her girl form and becoming part of him, held under his skin, an injection of love, mixing with his juices and flowing around his veins, pumped around all night by his mighty tree heart.

In the morning, the word ‘Goodbye’ fell from her lips as softly as the drops of dew that fell from her clothes.

Pippa Anais Gaubert


Just a quick note to say
hi I hope you’re ok
because I am
I have a new girlfriend
she has tattoos
she is more adventurous
than you you know
I didn’t want to become
that couple who chat
on the phone at lunch
because they can’t at home
but we did remember the time
we couldn’t go on holiday
because you had to work
fuck that was romantic

sent from my iPhone

Robin Boothroyd


Let me tell you only two things from my youth. When I was five years old, my father told me a sci-fi story every night. The protagonist was a five-year-old boy whose parents had perished with everyone else on earth. I alone had been saved by an alien species, who called themselves “the golden men”. Even though they cared for me, I escaped every night to look for my real parents. One of my friends was an enormous ant who lived on the moon and had built a time machine which allowed me to go all over the place. I had many adventures this way though I also felt quite sad often. I wasn’t sure if I was entitled to be sad: after all I had been spared! This went on for several years. Much later when I was grown up, at least I’d begun to feel that way, my parents’ house was not the right place to fool around. I used to go to a park with my girl friends at night. It was a special park though since it belonged to an enormous open cemetery. We felt there could not possibly be any chance of discovery: a cemetery! (It wasn’t a creepy place at all, just empty and lush, the gravestones well hidden in the shrubbery.) I often had the impression we were being watched but I was never sure and in any case, we were beautifully busy. If there were voyeurs they were very discreet and cautious not to be seen. I suppose if there were voyeurs then we’d have a bunch of shared memories now. It’s fun to reminisce. It doesn’t hurt anyone to go back in time, perambulate the past, cull clover leaves.

Marcus Speh