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Wilfred by Jennie Farley

On my kitchen dresser stands a duck with an orange beak and orange bow tie. Someone, I can’t remember who, told me his name is Wilfred. Wilfred is my right-hand man. He is always ready with my shopping-list, reminds me when my bed needs changing. Sometimes he does the washing-up. He was lovely to me when I had a bad cold, plying me with hankies and cough mixture, rubbing my chest with Vicks Vaporub so I turn a blind eye when I find him on his back, orange webbed feet waving in the air. I pretend not to notice the empty gin bottle. Every morning at breakfast while I eat my toast he entertains me with a croaky rendition of Shenandoah. --- Jennie Farley  is a published poet, teacher and workshop leader living in Cheltenham. Her work has featured in many poetry magazines and been performed at Festivals. Her first  collection is  My Grandmother Skating (Indigo Dreams Publishing 2016)  followed by  Hex (IDP 2018).  She founded and runs  NewBohemians@CharltonKings,  a popular arts club provid
Recent posts

Telling A Friend Your Good News by Attracta Fahy

When I finally tell her I have been published; she turns her eyes, struggles to hide  as she squeezes out in a high pitched tone through pursed lips, ‘Fantastic!’ We both pretend, placate, slowly  withdraw, just as we’ve been taught. I too have read Clive James’ poem,  know what envy can do, when one feels  their stomach is never full.  I know how friends respond, projecting  to others what’s really their own, saying the opposite of what they feel.  I have learned to read language  on many levels, to appease,  grapple with my own inner hell. Why should I always be the one to name  what’s really going on? We sit at the table, one red apple  placed in a bowl. Two awful witches  only in fairytales, eating innocent young girls. I feel that claw again, my heart sinks  into what feels like a pit, guilt,  hers already in grief, rage best left alone, the apple tempting me to take the first bite.  Behind us, a dark shadow looms  over the green wall, consumes the air,  things we’ve neglected ret

Echo Chamber by Maurice Devitt

She slams the door as she leaves, sound cracking through the house.  He stands motionless in the kitchen, dish-cloth in hand, her parting words swirling wildly in his head, wonders what to do next: slip the car-keys from the metal hook and follow her, or carelessly drop the plate he is holding –  bone china from her favourite set –  on the tiled floor, room pulsating into a guilty silence? --- A past winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland and Poems for Patience competitions, Maurice Devitt published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press in 2018. His poems have been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes and his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site.

Falling, and How do you leave someone who won’t even look you in the eye? by Amber Louise Horne

Falling  Icarus fell for the sea, found that waxed wings were too heavy, winced at blisters formed on his shoulder blades.  Icarus tried to carve shavings off the ends, pluck white faux feathers from divine intervention. Icarus didn’t  even like flying. He loved to fall. Icarus knew he was a candle in waiting. When the sun called him up with brightness and warmth, Icarus saw a way out. The sun  beckoned and melted and freed Icarus to the sea. Salt can sting and soothe all at once but it is cleansing. The  sea caught him in its vast arms and cooled his singed head and kissed away the burns on his back. Icarus fell asleep in the sweet push and pull of the midday tide. He would never see land again and he was happy. Salt coated his eyelashes and lips. The sea fished his heart out.  --- How do you leave someone who won’t even look you in the eye? Sometimes I think Eurydice had forgotten  how to feel lonely. She’d forgotten how  to miss Spring. She’d forgotten how to  miss the kiss of a bo

His Wife Was An Electrician by Gareth Culshaw

He wore slippers made of duck feathers, drove a skoda through the snow, but a lada in the months of summer. I never knew if he liked oranges or apples as he ate both at the same time. His wife was an electrician fed the house light bulbs through pringle tubes. She had wired him up for years and when he walked you saw him leaning on a lamppost as if running out of battery. They were married for the length of my childhood. He made scones on a Tuesday, and bread on a Wednesday. Brought them to the local school. We spread butter with our ironed palms, used lego teeth to change the shape of the food in our mouths. He walked his dog every day with a brown belt for a lead. His flat cap fizzed with electrodes that his wife planted in there before he left. If our ball landed in the garden we knocked with our feet hoped the rubber soles kept us alive. He answered through the letterbox, talked out of a tuba mouth. His wife watched us from the living room window as we hovered above the lawn. Daffo

Dear Reader's future

  Charley and Talis are actively looking for ways to make Dear Reader better, for readers and writers like. Since the start of 2021, we've put out themed calls for submissions and we've also updated (albeit on an ad hoc basis) our inspiration page, with pictures and music for stumped authors to use as prompts. While throwing ideas around this week, we made a drastic decision that we nevertheless feel is a sensible move for the site. So, following the final Wednesday in July, when two amazing  poems will be published, Dear Reader will be closing down entirely. For a month.  During this month, Charley and Talis are going to be editing and tweaking the site a lot . Rest assured, though, that if you're already published with us then your work will remain published . If you're hoping to be published with us, you are still encouraged to submit work during this month period , but note that Charley and Talis may be a little slower than usual with replies.  After this month - on

Flash: Empty Bedrooms by Talis Johnson

Bram disappeared on a clear summer evening some weeks ago. I missed his brown warmth pressed against my calves as I made coffee in the morning. Missed the steady thump of his ever-wagging tail as he traipsed the hallways looking for someone to fall into. I even missed the low whine in the mornings, wet nose snuffling at my bedroom door begging to be let in.  Eventually, however, you move on. The silence becomes welcoming rather than a reminder of the noise that once filled the house. Autumn was starting to drop leaves on the front porch when Bram finally came home. I heard the familiar rhythm of his tail hitting the wall as he padded down the corridor.  When he whined at my bedroom door it was a welcome sound, and I rushed to open it. When I reached it, however, he was already gone, tail whacking on the stairs behind me.  Later, in the kitchen, I felt him pressed against the back of my legs as I stood at the window, staring out over the empty garden. The rusted swing set looked lonely