Intermission (1963) and Mockingbird by Ross Thompson

  Intermission (1963) after Edward Hopper I love this tranquil moment: the intake of breath before the house lamps dim and the projectionist pulls off a conjuring trick by coaxing an illusion of light, shadow and sound  from a locked box and discs of concave glass. The whole theater is embroidered, making us moths in the warm glow of a triple lantern, our rich lives soon to be shortened  by the birth of the multiplex. We will  all be forgotten eventually,  gone like the duchess whose ghost still reclines in her love seat, waiting for the first strains of The Birds , Charade or The Great Escape ,  content as a cumulus in blue-tinged  dress, ankle idly scratching the other to placate an itch that will not desist. Before we are eclipsed by the darkness that fills The Saturn, we are precious pearls. --- Mockingbird i.m. Philip Seymour Hoffman When the music stops, some of us, the blessed ones, find warm, outstretched hands, kind eyes to smile back to meet our own, palms to press against

Four Bottles by John Short

So suddenly she’s gone: one more dead friend I don’t delete from Facebook out of respect. She changed her name thus, Kirsten became Christina, said there were twelve people living inside her and she’d grown fat from the medication. Her daughter, a homeless punk who befriended refugees; her husband unhinged and violent. She quizzed about my poetry and if it was evolving. Asked if four bottles of wine a day was too much. --- John Short lives near Ormskirk in Lancashire after years in southern Europe. He has a diploma in creative writing from Liverpool University Centre for Continuing Education and is a regular reader at Liver Bards and Dead Good Poets. His pamphlet Unknown Territory was published by Black Light Engine Room Press in 2020 and his full collection Those Ghosts appeared from Beaten Track Publishing in January 2021.

The Distance by Ross Thompson

  In the dream you are tearing up the beach at full steam, scampering hell for leather  towards some magical spot that has caught your eye. You have forgotten your parents and the leash you were in charge of holding.  The dog, emboldened by newfound freedom,  tries to bolt but I grab hold of her nape before she can escape. You, however,  have become a sun-blurred whirr of motion, rattling pell-mell, your outline turned golden and fuzzy, indistinct. I foolishly  think that you will soon turn and wave and shout, “Daddy, keep up!” but your legs have become a pinwheel of bare skin, your arms churning, your determined fists punching through air, clouds  and the stratosphere towards Rainbow Road,  Columbia, Endor and Solitude.  The universe is yours to grab and hold with both hands. Never come back down to land. --- Ross Thompson is a writer from Bangor, Northern Ireland. His debut poetry collection  Threading The Light  is published by Dedalus Press. His

Where We Fight by John Grey

These are the options.  Volunteer for another mission with real desert and real snipers and real roadside bombs or stay in his room, turn down the lights, guzzle beer after beer. Of course, he could always date cheerleaders. He was friendly with one or two before he signed up. Pretty blondes in short skirts doing backflips in the end-zone. But he’s lost their numbers.  He’s also lost the kid that scribbled them down. Why not get a job? He had one stacking shelves in school vacations. He could pick up where he left off, stacking coup cans  one atop the other, constructing the first Heinz skyscraper  in all of creation. But the damn thing toppled, crashed to the floor, made a noise louder than a rear-ender.  And he was fired. So that wouldn’t work. But he could always move back with his folks. They’d take him in for sure. At least, they would if it was ten years ago.  But now, the choice is a nursing home or a cemetery.  So it’s sign up again or stay put.  Seek out the enemy in the compa

Judy's Hand by Jennie Farley

It was a wooden hand poking out from a box of rags in the sale room on viewing day that made her pause.  She lifted a rag and saw a painted doll with bold blue eyes which seemed to follow her around as she paused to admire pretty brooches, pictures, a silver vase. Drawn back to the box for another look, this time she saw a face she knew from childhood summers on Filey beach - that florid-faced creature  inside the striped pink kiosk,  his hooked red nose, chin sharp as a knife. --- 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 providing poetry, performance and music throughout the year. You can find out more information about Jennie's work on her website: jenniefarleypoetry.wordpress.

Box by Andrew Shields

Our food is in a triple-layered box that we can't open. Each layer has a hole for things to fall through, while the sides have slits that we can put our fingers in, or sticks we've stripped the bark from with our teeth. We poke at carrots or at apples left inside, to slide them to the holes so they will fall and fall and fall into our waiting hands. And so we live on fruit and vegetables and bark, until the box is finally empty. Later, it's full again, and we begin our fingering and poking work once more. --- Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His collection of poems "Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong" was published by Eyewear in 2015. His band Human Shields released the album "Somebody's Hometown" in 2015 and the EP "Défense de jouer" in 2016.

Disappearing Act by Sue Finch

Your disappearing act is staged for the time when clouds of cow breath  rise above early Autumn mists. It begins beneath seven geese  flying a low ‘v’. That breath  and those birds  are your conjurors. What they puff and drop will take hold in you, carry you to the coast where your edge waits where lonely people stand to send out their cries. What is shallow now in your lungs can be flung wide above the sea, made small between water and air. --- Sue Finch lives with her wife in North Wales. Her first published poem appeared in  A New Manchester Alphabet  in 2015 whilst studying for her MA with Manchester Metropolitan University. Her work has also appeared in a number of online magazines including:  The Interpreter’s House ,  Ink, Sweat and Tears, Dear Reader  and  One Hand Clapping . Her debut collection, ‘ Magnifying Glass’ , was published in October 2020 with  Black Eyes Publishing UK .