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Samos Boat Trip by Sarah L Dixon

Shock of salt water in a mouth that opened too soon.
The balm of cucumber
The buoyancy of swimming  in open ocean
A wedge of watermelon saturated in sweetness.
The sensation of being nowhere on your back where all is sky. 
Aniseed warmth of Ouzo adds to the August heat of the Aegean Sea
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Sarah L Dixon lives in Linthwaite. Adding wax patterns to Wednesday was released by Three Drops Press in 2018. Her first book, The sky is cracked, was released by Half Moon Press in 2017. Sarah’s inspiration comes from being in and by water and adventures with her son, Frank. More information can be found at: http://thequietcompere.co.uk/

Sorting by Clint Wastling

When I walk by The White Horse and Griffin on Whitby’s old Church Street  I remember trinkets found when mum downsized to a retirement flat. She snatched the box from me.  You can’t throw that! This will give you some idea of our task: place card holders, a receipt for grandparent’s honeymoon  dated 1935, confetti, a tarnished lapel pin.

Throwing away the past can be cleansing, can be painful, always a little loss and if we are preservers of the past then I am growing toward mother’s view: let others decide,  let the future obliterate. Letters read again, photos seen, all the love there was evidenced in all the love there’s been, spent in a million kisses

a hundred thousand wishes preserving all that’s gone before. Names from this box of trinkets. Now when I walk by The White Horse and Griffin On Whitby’s old Church Street, I remember that hotel bill and pause-- my grandparents walked through these doors

I know who he is but do not know him by Gareth Culshaw

I watch him walk in the fag ash wind.
He smiles with his eyebrows at a neighbour,
then talks with a brie tongue.
He has a woodpecker stance
holds his hands in his pockets to keep
them safe from the fruit machines in pubs.
He once had a wife and two kids but lost them
in a game of poker. I know he drives
a bin wagon each morning before the school
gates open. In the morning I hear him cough out
toothpaste in the garden, then watch him clean
his ears with the beak of a sparrow he catches
in a net. He rolls a newspaper on the garden wall,
paints a cigarette between his lips, swigs a can of cola.
His burp is a tenon saw on wood.
He taps the neighbour on the shoulder and walks
away with plumb bob straightness.

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Gareth lives in Wales. He has two collections by FutureCycle called The Miner & A Bard's View. He has been Nominated for Best of the Net and won his first poetry competition at the RS Thomas Festival 2019. More information on Gareth and his work can be found here: gcwculsh…

The Telephone Call by Maurice Devitt

I was alone in the house when a phone started to ring.
I thought it was strange; no landline and my mobile
sitting silent on the table. The ringing stopped
and a voice picked up. I listened for a minute
and realised the voice was yours, so I wondered
had you slipped into the house unannounced. I ran
upstairs, chasing your voice from room to room
but still no sign. I listened more intently.
The conversation was light and frothy at first,
and, loving the timbre of your voice, I grabbed a coffee
and settled in. Like listening to a familiar podcast,
I nodded instinctively to everything you said and even
thought to anticipate what might be next. The start
of a familiar story prompted me to re-check the house,
tip-toeing self-consciously into every room, the sound
seeming to ghost just ahead of me. I stopped when
I heard a fresh intimacy in your voice, the volume
dropping to a whisper, as though you knew you were
being overheard. My heart was pumping and, when I froze
every muscle, I could just about hear wha…

Standstill by D. Parker

We’re in the middle of the pandemic,
When people quarantine with what seems
Like infinite amounts of pasta and toilet roll,
Make contingency plans for not leaving their homes

For weeks, maybe months, when strategies are concocted
Behind closed doors, perhaps I too should be thinking
Of toilet roll and pasta, of canned goods and cat food;
When my thoughts should be focused on the art of stockpiling,

A different kind of inventory anchors my mind and I count
Goosebumps, kisses, glances, sharp
Breaths taken and released when we were in unison;
Cups of tea, ideas, drawings, poems, tokens we swapped

Particularly for times like these, when a ten minute drive
Seems impossible and out of reach. As I add another
Item to the online shopping list and steal glances at the date,
The time, the hours seem to have come to a halt

And never has life reached such a standstill.

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D. Parker spends most of her days surrounded by books both at work and at home. In her free time she reads and occasionally lets words form on …

In The Age Before Beige by Paul Waring

we spend icebox winters and oven summers 
in plug-ugly bedsits; sip halves in pubs, scrape 
deposits for a semi in well-dressed suburbs,
before the devil curses bathrooms in uncool 
cerise, chocolate and avocado, eggs us to lash 
artex icing-thick onto walls, stone-clad chimney
breasts and screw up stag handlebar antlers.

Kitchens harbour party-purchase Tupperware,
dinner plates pass through hatches, lap-tops 
play host to Vesta beef curry or chow mein,
scoffed sideways on bobbled sofas, glued 
to Z-cars and Corrie on snowy teles, titbits 
snaffled by shagpile carpet, while yuccas 
stand starved in corners.

Light nights we entertain double-glazing reps
on doorsteps, hear bus stop and back fence 
gloats about Costa Brava packages, crazy
paving and extensions. All this before rooms
strip, go minimal and neutral in the nineties –
the age we soon discover, beige is boring.

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Paul Waring is a retired clinical psychologist from Wirral, UK. He was awarded second place in the 2019 Yaffle Prize and commended and…

Smoking and Swearing by Ian Manson

He’s stood outside, he’s on his break.
He’s unsure whether to be smoking or swearing.
He decides on both.

Inhale. Fuuuck!
Inhale. Fuuuck!

A person, a visitor, or a patient.
Heading to the hospital,
sees his scrubs and scowls.

It’s not very professional for a nurse to be smoking and swearing.

But he doesn’t care.
He’s already done his good deed for the morning
and by midnight he’ll have done a dozen more.

Yesterday was a paltry four.
Tomorrow’s shift will be five or two
or maybe eight,
and another night of finishing late.

Inhale.
Fuuuck!

He breathes a cloud of smoke.
Watches it swirling, ascending,
a spirit en-route to heaven.

The person’s saintly sanctimony means nothing
to him.
Because he’s on his break.
And he’s smoking, and he’s swearing.

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Originally from Scotland, Ian has lived and worked in Worcestershire for the last 11 years. He can normally be found performing his poetry and prose at events on the Worcester spoken word scene