Unaccompanied by Rachael Smart

I took his hat home to wash in the kitchen sink, got the kettle red hot, the wool spawned blood, his, theirs too, a mess of ruby muddied see-through to maroon solvent stains not stubborn like those he’d seen back home. I pictured his mother’s hands hutch – brown in their crochet of care for this hat, this hat that my fingers now worried over, the finest of stitches, a wool that gave up the weight of silence: of thunder gun fear and sawn rifle breath, of fire as far as the sky goes, of brothers rotting, of some official saying make it something easy to say like Dave or D and the soap powder kept on cleansing it out, the skin cells from way back, the screams, and then what went on last night until it was nearly blue again and still in the shape of his head when it was whole.


Rachael Smart has a thing about words. Her short fiction and poetry has been published online, in literary journals and placed in competitions. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Nottingham. She writes best when the pencil loses its point.

Left and Right Wings by Antony Owen

Imagine if a dove was your country soaring into thunder clouds and it started to tear itself bare. Imagine this, red from bleeding and bruised blue both wings stopped moving and left the squall to go it alone into the storm. Pummelled by harsh winds of change the heart of the dove was strong but had forgotten what made it navigate through savage storms. The left and right wing had forgotten that they were an extension of the heart and were there to serve the body of the dove and it’s vital organs shaped like counties. The Dove had forgotten that it’s songs began in the blood and ended at the beak where ballads of Calais and Dunkirk and places like India were written by bloodied quills. When the wings move together the Dove can stop falling but this does not mean it will arrive safely. This is down to the nature of the bird and its nature is dictated by its wings. It’s heart is fuelled by occasional rushes of blood and prone to moments of unexplainable behaviour that can be brave or stupid. The dove is not pure white but made up of many colours and this helps it to soar and makes it stand out from many other birds. There are many fat cuckoos and crows throwing beautiful eggs from boats of birch twigs and mud. These eggs are overlooked by all of the birds because they believe it will break the huge branches and overcrowd the boughs These birds are not allowed to roost because they are not from Elm or Oak despite looking the same bar a shade darker or lighter. The branches are the same colour as the feathers in the dove including the right and left wings of the dove. Four strange crows with ruffled black feathers are squawking at each other arguing over the spoils of burning trees and smashed eggs. The dark clouds are getting thicker, the wind against the dove and the departing squall is picking up speed, they need to start flying so they can avoid the storm. An Eagle starts ripping its feathers out next to a budgerigar admiring itself in a cage of broken mirrors. All the peacocks steal the food from the common birds. The sky is starved of song. The world is trying to juggle four winds to carry the birds as long it can. The birds start believing they are gods and act like them. The birds have forgotten how to sing. The left and the right wing move in opposite directions and the bird helter-skelters into the dark clouds making no noise at all as if consigned to its fate. The feathers on the bird glimmer like a kaleidoscope and the dove just does not realise how special it is. There is still time, the dove is heading into the bowel of Icarus, there is still time.

If All Of Us Were A Football Team by Antony Owen

If Ali was a football side who would support him as he defended his right to wave a new flag coz his old one had faded? If Ali was sent off in the first minute for being cut down would we share the replay and agree he should not be banned or is it just too upsetting and not in vogue to discuss? If a foul was committed against Basra United would we all shout “ah come on ref” or just wait for something more meaningful to shout and sing about. There is no Basra United, there is only United and United and some forms of United make us cheer or not cheer. Imagine if Spurs or Barcelona never turned up because the game was just too hard, can you picture the outpouring of passion and anger? Imagine if the game on Gaza beach next to jumpers on goal posts took place on a day when fifty-one people cheered for something more than football it would be everything about football and life I’d truly wanna see. Can you imagine how some would be enraged at people cheering for their side and their side? Imagine if they’d kicked the ball over the wall like I did as a kid and asked my neighbour if I could have my ball back and they sent back “no” in bombs or soldiers. If all of us were football teams I’d be supporting all of them as one team so none of them could lose. If all of us were football teams we could all play together and hold aloft the silverware with all our names on it. We’d all meet down the boozer where they’d use beer kegs as drums and all of us would get drunk on being together as one massive city we all could support. Nobody would goad each other, a man would not have his tyre slashed because of the wrong kit colour, a few good men and women too tired to carry on would be helped over the finishing line and be told that even the boring goals matter in this long game we’re all trying to win. If all of us were football teams I’d be hugging you way before the final whistle and extra time would be given to the massive bench where sixty million substitutes wait looking for a new home. They want to feel supported, their form of escapism is different. They all want to play, all of us could win.

We Ate the Finest Steak at a Restaurant in Yemen by Antony Owen

To get a poem on the Yemen massacre published I wrote a poem about the good times when we ate the finest steak in a five-star restaurant in Yemen. We never ate in such a restaurant but to get a poem published for the statues of walking ash let’s just say we did for the sake of it all. So, we ate the scorched remains of meat floating in a bloody bowl that begged to be appreciated and consumed. We talked about the influence King Leopold the twelfth had on the mass production of silk purses in post regency Francais. To get the poem published I could mention the conversations we had about how influential Lars von Trier is in contemporary cinema like the scene in Anti-Christ when the white baby falls with white snowflakes as his parents made love in white cotton and of the darkness and irony of the metaphorical irony of it all. But metaphorical irony doesn’t make sense but that’s okay because I’m talking about Lars von Trier and like David Lynch is ever so artsy to display a sense of ambiguity now back to my poem or prose or whatever the fuck it is or isn’t. We never ate the finest steak in a restaurant in Yemen because the only time I went there was a news article where words bombed into my eyes that Great Britain shook hands and sold their arms there. The arms I saw were strewn in what was a five-star restaurant where human steak was served up in white cotton totally unlike a Lars von Trier scene where parents made love soft as white snowflakes. These off-white bodies were red as steaks in Park Lane restaurants where deals were done and deals were done and deals were done. The hands I saw that were shaking were held up to Gods like begging bowls of blood, this steak is all that matters it is too well done and everyone is sick to the stomach of it. If this steak was served in newspapers like tragedies of white meat, then they’d ask for more of it and like the queues in ‘eat as much as you can’ buffets they’d all get fat on it and we’d finally see what they were really made of.

Historical Boomerangs by Carolyn Srygley-Moore

We conjure atoms. Power over unenforceable formidable atoms because. We are afraid. Hiroshima saved many lives reports western history books…well. Tell that to. I am thinking of. A woman still angered over the heat. The radioactive earth and flesh. Why’s she still pissed people would ask as they ask about childhood’s ravage. I did nothing I wasn’t entitled to do. Said the security officer unbuckling uniforms over his daughter. Fear is. What it is. A boomerang. An industry built upon toy handcuffs sadomasochism. An industry. How many lives they say. Say. Epidermal peeling people molting. Chameleons. Say.

That movie i saw when i was a kid by Carolyn Srygley-Moore

in the movie, tenderness ended with this: a circle of children cast stones at a bird, a bird already injured, & when the girl did not join, thrust a stone into her hand, chanting, throw it, throw it! today, wondering when the sweetness left, when the Sunday teacher stopped saying he was a sweet boy; when the brother first said “hey, did you know our little sister is a bitch?” i see, someone says, a gap in foundation, a furrowing of landscape, where we place the pit bull. you see, via the pit bull, a lack of negation, a holocaust through action & hope inverted. well. it is not a neutral conversation, he says, but it must be had. be had. i changed my bedroom walls pink to yellow at a young age; no shams, pillows without cases, curtains torn like human membrane at the window — to remember, that’s all, & aghast, how circuitous it seems, how the Camps return in variant forms, how the immaculate conception becomes unholy, degraded, shit upon. in the movie, the girl’s braids change blond to grey — she casts that stone forced, & as the bird dies, in twitches & failed flutters, she holds it, cold, colder.

Figures by Dominic Albanese

OK I think I got it figured out…..bear (ursus) with me here….you change yr “profile” picture…right an ya wanna wear fake diamonds n pearls galore ya get em st the five and ten sent store an ya wanna look like Za Za Gabor…..ok…so in the bowels of some cubicle warren…either in California or India…where ever…there are these…..(bots real people algorithms or magic fingers)who swap yr photo right?,,,,,,so there is no “private” expressed or implied right?…and I all of a sudden imagine my self in that job…here it comes……….after 93 dick pics 436 slather posts…..763 begging on bend knee “baby baby please come back” bored to tears…..I start to swap em like dealing cards…hahahahah the ace of bayshore blvd becomes the queen of Rochester and of course my own profile pic is Robert Mitch-um or Sam Elliot….and just this morning my buddy was posing a theory bout my luck with women…case direct quote….”you sure never placed in a Robert Redford look alike have ya?”…….ahhh Face Book where yr just a mouse click away form “”””””””top o the world ma” the stuff dreams are made of……poof…now I look like Betty Grable..or Rocky…poof…..I am so easy t amuse

The Little Gold Moth That Died in the Palm of My Hand by Julie Kim Shavin

In that rotunda of mirrors in upscale store, communal dressing room of no doors but to enter and exit – and with all those women, consider the adolescent, pimple-pocked girl, feckless, silent-screaming to flee the indecent tenth ring of near-naked all around: the stripped, those faces, those hips and other places. Scrawny body among the ungowned endowed, groomed and adorned divas, the pathetic skin, bones and just-budding breasts of teendom, and telling her no, please no, not like this. No skinny stick of girl at this training bar, sic, among the others in their battalion bras and translucent panties thorough which swam their wanton womanhood….mortification of endless mirror, mirror mirror on the wall, who is the barest, wariest of all? how it takes a village to raise an outcast, agoraphobe, introvert, paranoiac. Take my eyes from the future this store is selling. Down to the jaw of heart went a lump of throat with all sides reflected to infinity, closet wishes, forever to be close to the mother but not in this wicked river, not this multiplication, division of horror. All those clothes, promising personas lying in stacks like large and weary schoolbooks, like some perseveration of junkies high on sobriety and sales, a shrinking before the monsterhood of prime of life, poster child, closet optimist gone rogue – shame of childbody in its circus of loser selves, pleading the mind to focus upon third world anywheres with no tents of reflections, and upon escape: gutters, sewers, non-existent windows, ropes, gods, flood – who wants an infinity of this type life anyway? With no thought of malice, no injury to be noted, catalogued or charted, mirror reflects, deflects, inflects, you, you are not one of them, and furthermore, shall be! …..until finally it is over, and out we sail with our incarnations to come, to the leaves and their sun, after which, half a century, amnesiac, passes away…. And then one night, in a land of mountain and strange moon hanging sideways and too little air, a little gold moth becomes stuck in the sink disposal, a creature that by instinct goes for the light, or so it was said all of our lives,– and the labor after labor to save it, all the maneuvers, all the oddities, the physics involved in keeping open the flaps, keeping off the water, getting light down there as lure and without burning it, how to coax, and finally, hours later, the little lives-but-a day-moth is on a finger the weight of nothing, with now a chance, safe on a fleshy palm on a midmorning mid of night where there it flutters, flutters again and then is gone. The dead, a flat thing, minuscule open book, tiny two leaves, twin papery wings as nothing now, there in the kitchen beneath a blind skylight steeped in tears of sleet in the very late night or stillborn morning, littlest of wannabe butterflies, finally to mourn, on a night black with hope, humiliation and starshine.

Cardboard Biographies by Debra Roberts

This is a story. It is not pulp fiction, written to wring momentary empathy from us so that we can feel good about ourselves — our station, our comforts, our meager charity. This is a cold reality I see regularly, and have seen regularly for the past seven years.
Nebraska and Kansas are magnets, mid-trek stopping points for the long migration coast to coast — not only for migratory birds, but for human beings, too. These two states are center plate of the big melting pot, the Bible belt, the Bread Basket of the world; and I witness the unfolding of a hundred sad stories, as semi-annually, many make their trek from east to west and west to east, each and all chasing friendlier climates.
I watch as a reality show flickers upon the screen of an unkind truth. Again, today, I witness the brutality of disparity – yes, even here in the Bible belt, where pioneers understood the tenuousness of life and were greatly dependent upon the charity of others for survival; where settlers knew the necessity of “sticking by” one’s neighbor meant more than just watching for the smoke to rise from their sod huts. But here, now, this comfortable – and even, affluent – culture, smack dab in the middle of the world’s bread basket, and yet so far removed from those very virtues which made it possible to inhabit — the Have’s are scared and the Have-not’s are depressed and desperate.
A woman waits at the Walmart corner lot, as if firmly staked down. Both she and the sign she bears are as drab as the brown grass under her feet, and turbulent as the wind-whipped air on that stretch of road, on that hill at the top of town.
This is where “they” line up, taking turns by pre-designated (?) days, as if they must cast lots for each turn at the post known for handouts of a meal, of coffee and coin — whose turn for the slim pickings this day, for the other six?
I imagine her, all big-dreamed, now reduced to shy supplication; once-grand ideas diminished to stark print reality, scrawled across a cardboard sign, pleading:
Fallen on hard times
Please help
God Bless!
The sun beats down a promise of sweet charity. My car, others, stop, look, a window rolled down to openness & a kind gesture. “‘Tis better to give than receive.” How much I’ve been given. Even having ‘worked for it’ – “it” is a gift, the result of the gift “to work.” And so the kind-hearted stop and give. The good-hearted andwise thinking, “this could be me.”
Down the road, another day, she thinks: A ticket out, if just enough; a bus to take her far away, a train, a ride to anywhere but Here.
This is her Ground Zero. It’s always Ground Zero. But here, the tinkling coins paraphrase a cache, collecting all she can of help beyond the spot of notoriety, unwanted, singling out.
I know there’s a difference between she and I. It was only a break in the weather; the one which brought me fairer winds, the other passing her over and by.
You can’t judge a book by its cover. Some biographies are written on paper, some on gilded leather,while others glare back from the cheap cardboard refuse littering the landscape behind one outpost representing one of the richest families in the world!
The end of this story is yet to be decided. The true measure of the heroine or hero:
How one lands when one falls.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Suit by Antony Owen

“Put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem”
David Cameron

Maybe I should wear a proper suit and act properly in Savile Row as they make the tender cuts. Maybe they could measure me by red tape from groin to collar and suggest I go for the slightly soiled blue suit on offer modelled by the faceless dummy far removed from limbless mannequins shoved to the back where no one will see. Maybe I should go to Oxfam in Mayfair and buy a decent blazer yellowed under the arms from a decent fellow nervous as he passed a swarm of probable migrants looking for their country in alleyways and skinny dog lick puddles selling voodoo and big issue.

Maybe I should do my black tie into a knot for the black hat Doctor Akbar wore on graduation day whose smile is in a cardboard box as her old joy sickens her and there is nothing she can prescribe for it. Maybe I will buy a blue tie and fasten it to the neck of a chopped down tree for another Supermarket with a smiling slave in a fleece sewed by slaves with a label in Comic Sans saying “Hi I’m Wendy and I’m here to help you or more importantly “I’m here” until I stopped smiling.

Maybe I should sing the national anthem in a job centre where people vanish from England and as I hold my head up high my broken nose shall leave a red carpet for a doctor to stitch me back together again. Maybe the worst is over when the bruise is no longer blue, maybe I’ll go for that Corbyn look and wear red again and speak with reverence about my Mother who once turned red when she left a crease in my suit for my first ever interview as a slave selling posh holidays in the stone cheap suit of Cov where buskers in ripped jeans sang real fuckin anthems in dirty jeans with mouths that cleansed the shit from Westminster to the arse end of Hertford Street.

Syrian Children Sleeping in your Newsfeed by Lucy Furlong

The last day to register to vote: make sure you still have a voice for a bit of bargain Friday fun. Animal photos of 2015 risk revealed in free live webinar, the few fleeing journalists who get the project, can stop diy butter where Syrian children are sleeping.

Teargas is being sold well, worth supporting. My water cannon video is now live. The gun not there, a guilty shit captain, the baby elephant emptied his rifle into a schoolgirl. People, who act like a puppy would never wear dentures, approve genetically modified salmon for carer’s food today, stuck between your throat where Syrian children are sleeping.

Sinking stomach, hit by surprise premature ageing – is he pregnant or just old-fashioned? Did you get a feeling something like entirely typical weather? Every time you share this picture of a homophobic person, make sure it isn’t you! This Friday 1.9 million trans people could lose their vote in a men’s prison, where Syrian children are sleeping.

Judge in landmark ruling on the smell of rosewater, should be allowed to drown. Seafront venue creates salt and pepper mill lifejackets. I do must-see design for your taste in junkies. Contemporary refugees relocate into your tribal neighbourhood. Works on paper, pay to breathe, pretend it’s a holiday; no comment on where Syrian children are sleeping.

We cover bomb attacks too – thousands less interested people are planning to visit this time of year. Working gunmen reading poems become a new host, earn extra foreign money this autumn. Policy doesn’t seem to be working – is the new name so hard to understand where Syrian children are sleeping.


Lucy Furlong’s writing has been widely published. Her poetry map, Amniotic City, was featured in The Guardian, and her second map, Over the Fields, was published in September. A collection of her poems,clew, is available from Hesterglock Press. http://www.lucyfurlong.com
web site: http://www.lucyfurlong.com