A Gap of my Own Making and Soak

A Gap of my Own Making.

Gap toothed, bare knuckled, ugly out there emotion,
Stop gap, heart attack, silent killer hidden emotion.

Every word that has passed between us has been superficial, letters that don’t know any better,

Polite & light & speaking without saying any one thing mean or meant.

Except for a Guinness lip loosened attempt at letting me know you missed me, & it made you sad.

“Why do you never call round anymore?”

You were asking “What did I do?” & even Dutch courage couldn’t inspire in me an answer either of us could understand.

There was the bolt from the blue phone call that left me breathless in a Morrisons’ at 2 in the afternoon, with a boy who was leaving my life left with no choice but to offer me half-hearted comfort. I felt homesick, homeless. & then you said “Just come home. We need you here.” & for the first time in a very long time I needed you too. Home is where the heart is, & I hadn’t realised how big a piece of my heart you still held, & I hadn’t realised how little of my heart I still clung to.

So I returned, I came home, where two halves of a whole were returned to the earth, where grief hung heavy round our necks & under our eyes. Where we cried, as family, for the first time that I can recall. & we laughed, as friends, because that much time has passed now! & you thanked my friends for being my friends & I thanked, someone, something, for all the love that I had left.



He says, “I feel like a bath for you sometimes, when you need a good soak.”

She says, “I’m sorry that lately I’ve left the tap running, been too much for you to hold. Lain too long and let things grow cold between us.

A bath is somewhere to relax after a hard day. It’s not a place to hide for weeks, or days even. It’s a short term tool to ease worry and soothe aching muscles. It doesn’t fix anything, nor is it supposed to.

So in future I need to remember that it’s good to feel your warmth, to close my eyes and let the day slip away. But once that’s done I need to dry off, get dressed and use the serenity you’ve gifted me with to make more concrete steps to feeling better, to fixing myself.

I need to get out while there’s still warmth in the water.”


Jamye Drohan is Irish born, Edinburgh based. By day she serves tasty coffees and runs a café, and when she’s off the clock she writes as a type of therapy in a constant quest to figure out how her anxiety operates, and show her workings.
Blog: jamyedrohan.wordpress.com

Only Cable Car in Ireland

Only Cable Car in Ireland

Harry had come to Ireland. Iris had loved him, married him and left him. It was all over a misunderstanding, but like most misunderstandings it led to greater revelations and an irresolvable rupture, leaving a gaping hole torn into the fabric of being where happiness had once lived. Ireland was to be a forgetful journey: a tour to forget.

He flew into Dublin, hired a car and drove as far as he could in one day, stopping only when he reached the south western tip of the Beara Peninsula down the wild Atlantic way. Here he could go no further by car. Off the tip of the peninsula lay the Isle of Dursey, population of eight. Between the island and the mainland lay a thousand metres of wild churning, foaming surf and spray, hundreds of metres below the cliffs on which he stood: the Atlantic continuing its ancient and endless dance of loving violent erosion with the rocks and stone of the land.
High above the churn, operating most days except when the winds reached gale force eight, the only cable car in Ireland swung in stretched suspension across the abyss. The small passenger cabin dangling from the wires midway across looked ancient and decrepit, but not in comparison to the model it had superseded, the latter now serving as a chicken coop in the cable car operator’s back yard, behind the office hut. The sign in the window advised the hut was closed until 3:00pm, and if he cared to wait it would cost him six euros to cross, and a further six to return.

Harry lit a cigarette and stood as close to the cliff edge as he would trust himself. The wind was up, (though not, he hoped to gale force). The day was relatively mild by local standards for mid-December and the afternoon winter sun hung low in the sky, peering around clouds and shooting rays of light that suggested God was at home, but not entertaining visitors this day.
The cable car ground into motion, the large winch wheels drawing the cable and the cabin towards the mainland in anticipation of as yet unannounced passengers. As it reached its berth outside the hut, an old Citroën pulled up to park and an even older man eased himself out of the driver’s side and slowly opened the back of the car to unload his load of carriage. The cable car operator appeared from nowhere, as though he had been hiding behind a rock all this time, and hustled to help the old man. They exchanged greetings and familiarities of men who had known each other for years but knew nothing of each other, other than years of familiar greetings and exchanges. The two carried the goods and loaded them into the cable car: bags of burning coal; bags of groceries, food, wine and household supplies; cans of paint, lengths of timber and all manner of small hardware and DIY necessities and fittings. They must have made a half a dozen trips each, each time passing Harry with no acknowledgement as if he were a ghost made of no more than the constant winds whirling up off the ocean below.

Finally, when the cabin was laden with the weight of the load and the old man had taken his seat inside, the operator turned and acknowledged Harry with all the charm of the Irish, as though he had just arrived. Selling him a return ticket to ride, the operator directed Harry to hustle inside, as he was just about to send the cabin on its way.

As he climbed into the cabin, Harry felt it swing away under his weight, like stepping into a dinghy from a jetty. Taking his seat he took note of the sign that warned of a maximum weight of six passengers for safety. He and the old man were the only passengers but Harry wondered at the weight of the freight, spread and piled across the floor at their feet. The rusty wheels turned and the corroded wire reversed in direction, and the decrepit cabin began its journey out into suspension, exchanging the relatively short drop to the ground below for the certain death plummet into the angry churn of water raging through the passage. As they passed through the first tower, from close range he could see that this structure too was also rusted and corroded from the salt air and the ages. Now the old man turned to Harry, and acknowledged him for the first with a weathered but sincere smile. He wore protruded dentures that made for an over bite in a false white that was belied by the yellow of his original teeth. Without invitation, the old man introduced Harry to his wife.

She was beautiful when they met 40 winters ago and she had aged into a still beautiful woman of her years. Her blonde hair of youth had changed to silver of grace. Her figure remained, if not as curved and defined, but still lithe. Her smile had changed with his over the years as they shared the same dentist, but her eyes had kept that brilliant sparkle that had transfixed him at first sight, and outshone the waters on the Mediterranean beach where they first met. She married him immediately and they never spent a night apart for as long as they had been together. They travelled cities and countries like the average people do bus stops, as they made their living and lives together wherever the opportunity of adventure beckoned. They were citizens of the world, with allegiance to no one but each other. They needed nothing as long as they were together and feared only being apart from each other’s heart.

At middle age, they had decided to put down roots. They had lived in the most exciting cities of the world, but had no interest or need of others. For them the adventure would be to find a home as far away from the world as possible and live their lives as they were meant to: together. They had bought an old run down shepherd’s cottage on the far side of the island, with no neighbour but one of the world’s most ferocious oceans. For years they visited every chance they could, slowly renovating by hand and turning the cottage into their dream, finally settling there for good. Once every few weeks they would take the cable car across to the peninsula and go into the nearest village to stock up on supplies. That was the reason for his goods today, he explained. The cost of living in the face of such elements was the constant need for maintenance and repairs, but it was a labour of love. The joy she had felt when they had finished the cottage made him vow to keep it in the same condition for as long as his body would allow.

As the cable car passed through the island side tower, the old man fell silent, a smile on his lips and sadness in his eyes that stretched back through the decades of his memory. Where was she now inquired Harry, taking advantage of the silence to speak for the first time. Was she on the island waiting for him at the cottage? Surprised, the old man turned to him. Oh no, he replied, she left me long ago. It was a simple misunderstanding, but…

The two of them sat there in silence as the cable car docked at the island end of the journey. Opening the door, Harry helped the old man carry his goods, load by load, and load them into a rusty old flatbed truck. This was the old man’s island vehicle that knew no journeys other than the track from the cable car up and over to the cottage on the far side of the island, and back. In between it sat silent, rusting, waiting, like a loyal dog, waiting for its master to return and need its company once more. Without a word or a nod, the old man climbed into the truck and trundled away along the muddy track.

Harry climbed back into the cable car carriage and pressing the button to signal the operator on the far side, he began his journey back to the peninsula. It was time to go home, back to Glasgow.






Rob Doran has been writing, teaching and directing theatre in Queensland, Australia for over 20 years. His most recent productions include: Spirit of the Lore (ACPA / QPAC / Brisbane Festival 2013), Battle Scarred Phallic Wounds (The Actors Workshop 2014), Orion’s Way (The Actors Workshop 2014), Agender (The Actors Workshop 2014), Assumptions (The Actors Workshop 2015), Mortality (Make Theatre 2016), Polity (Make Theatre 2016), and Hunting Phia (The Actors Workshop 2016). Rob trained with Australian master teacher Lyn Kidd, to teach and direct her acting process, the Psychology of Character, from 1994 to 1996. He then developed Lyn’s teaching program into the Advanced Diploma of Film, Television and Theatre Acting, accredited under the Australian Qualifications Framework, and continued teaching for her vocational college, The Actors Workshop Australia, for the next 20 years until moving to Scotland in 2016. During this time Rob also managed other vocational colleges across the creative industries, including his roles as Head of Vocational Education and Training for QANTM College (digital media, video production, animation and games design), Head of Vocational Education and Training for SAE Australia (music performance, recording and production), Deputy Director of the Australian Dance Performance Institute (ballet, commercial dance and musical theatre) and Training and Artistic Director of the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (music, dance and acting). Rob’s areas of teaching expertise include acting technique, improvisation, script writing, acting for film and television, and acting for theatre.

Internet poem

They seek exits from their flesh:
and the internet is compressed text
each hyperlink blue-slurpee sweet,
that fact a hook-duck, this poll
tipped by bowling at the coconut
shie. Win information! Roll home
with a rumour! By hitting the button,
bright lights, rubber hammer.

‘Make me the next
like Robocop’ one whispers to the sugar night.
The Ringmaster flickers:
eyes now LCD screens,
levels of light pass through
to the second substrate, scatter
when he blinks. Narrow visor nobly set
on the woman at the kissing booth,
who does not look at him.

Swaggers into each full tent like
sturdy corruption malware, spits
razor sharp letter-shards, causes crowds
to spill their drinks. Malfunctions, briefly
opens his mouth to mete out justice, screams:

He sits, ogles
the flickering sentient bot that pours the last
dregs from the raw text tap and sings for tips.
Staggers, pixelated, out to where
the kissing booth is closed. No fear.
He’ll locate her later, after hours
her quiet tent, his virtual firearm
glistening in the soft lights overhead
or else what is endless lonely chaos good for?

Under his breath he starts to sing:
How did we do?
Enter your feedback here to win
what may or may not occur:
Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law.
Humouring him in his metal suit, Ringmaster says:
‘Nice shooting son, what is your name?’ so quiet
it sounds like the bump of bumper cars
the hiss of the Ferris wheel heard from the edge
where the fair-lights do not reach.





Alice Tarbuck is a writer living in Edinburgh. Most recently, she has been shortlisted for the Jupiter Artland Poetry Prize, and work is forthcoming from Zarf, 3elements Review and Antiphon. She is part of Edinburgh based writing collective, content work produce form.

Jam today and Have half sleep

Jam today

Red light giant cyclops watches unblinking over
Still snake skin of steel
Which winds up and down so far in the distance
Before your eye gives up
And returns to your half read book,
Too tired to comprehend the little dancing shapes,
Been here too long,
What started as grey counterfeit light has
Transformed into winter’s black
Submerged lagoon,
Small flash of yellow wink, turns into emerald smile,
Move once, move twice,
Feel sensation of rush, of deliverance,
Then yellow smile, Red stare,
Shudder to halt, the old alcohol men complain,
The tin-pot warm, the damp smells,
Eyes flutter up and down and chins bury into compliant shoulders
Tries once more in face of jade jaw taunt
To push past metal hoard and break,
Into open stream
We hold our breath
We count it down
And release ourselves into the sweeping road




Have half sleep

In one of the moments that comes before sleep
when dream and wake gently try and pull you aside
And laugh and dreams laughing plant unsteady memories,
When the picture on the internal screen become warmly fuzzy
Light a black and white picture in front of a friendly fire
You wish to give it all
To the embrace
Started the moment your washed back to childhood head
Trusted tousled pillows and body craved cushioned covers
Then smooth vibration
At first
Tap taps against table top wood
Then shrill screech of tinny tortured tone
Takes over from mesmeric hum
Mingles in shallow dream, tangles amongst picture
Like black tentacles of ivy
Silently strangling sepia scene until
Gasps and shaking
You reach through your half-remembered world
and grab the silence





Darren Sempie lives and works in Glasgow.  He studied English at the University of Stirling.  He has performed stand up comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe and had poetry published in various publications and websites.



Even before police
developed the first prototypes
of the stinger strip,
Mr Gysin and Mr Burroughs
developed the cut-up.

And seeing the gas-guzzling car of the great American novel,
with its tyres of tradition,
careering out of control before them,
Mr Burroughs threw the long jumbled sentence of a cut-up
across the road,
causing the car to come to a grinding halt.

And I guess you’d have to say it was Mr Burroughs’ fault –
though of course he wasn’t to know
how explosive the cut-up was
when it came into contact with tyres of tradition –
but the car blew up,
producing a fireball so huge,
it was even seen by Mr Calder in Britain.

But it wasn’t a fuck up,
it was a cut-up,
and Mr Burroughs stuck around
long enough for the fire to die down
and, from the burnt out wreckage,
he pulled out the blackened corpse of the novel,
and with the help of his greatest character, Dr Benway
(who was armed only with a sink plunger
and a rusty pair of pliers),
the great American novel was somehow reanimated
and sent on its way, albeit undead
(though at least it no longer had to pander to conservatives
but simply feed on their putrid brains instead).




Thomas McColl lives in London, and has had stories and poetry published in magazines such as Bare Fiction, Prole, Fictive Dream, Oblong and Iota. His first full collection of flash fiction and poetry, Being With Me Will Help You Learn,is published by Listen Softly London Press.

New work by Patrick Williams


Gauge and plate,
Invariably malleable,
    but still unbeaten,
our tubes twist out
    and torch up. Why we
haven’t had to deal
    is we were built
to never negotiate. When we
    affix, we’re solid.
When it’s cold, that’s when
    we break.

(source text: Automobile dealer and repairer, a practical journal exclusively for these interests, volume 27-28, 1919-1920)




The Light Running Fox

Send me work that will
not soil my hands.

Bronze, light, and speedy.

Fast escapement takes carriage.
Imitation interchangeable.

Bearing beautiful appearance,
automatically feeding.

Write today. Supply three
variations so equipped.

Everyone likes a reminder. You will
quickly learn why.

(source text: The American Stationer And Office Outfitter, volume 91, 1922)




Resist the Smashing Impact of Truck Traffic

An easy matter.
 A splendid one.

The lower photo shows
 our magnificent structure,

standing as a monument.
 No bridge is of any value

unless there are good roads
 on either end of it.

(source text: North Carolina Highway Bulletin volume 2 issue 11, 1922)






Patrick Williams is a poet and academic librarian living in Central New York. His recent work appears in publications including Noble/Gas Qtrly, Posit, Glittermobs, and Heavy Feather Review. His chapbook Hygiene in Reading (Publishing Genius, 2016) was awarded the 2015 Chris Toll Memorial Prize. He edits Really System, a journal of poetry and extensible poetics. Find him at patrickwilliamsintext.com and on Twitter @activitystory.

A Sunday haiku

For C.B.

as I cycle
in the morning mist
along the path –
a Guide



Marine Houtmann is a masters student at the Université de Lille. Her research focuses on the intersections between lyrics, voice and performance with regard to Patti Smith’s representation of gender.



Three poems by David Marshall


I wanted to get lost, drunk on sap.
Assume an identity of leaves and drink
the run-off. Friends warned they’d find
me but I hid, lived off soil and worm,
doffed mascara, grew twigs for sinew.
Soon seeds I’d rooted sprouted under
floors. Rooms smelt pine-soft. I rained
long on suburbia. In winter, scribbled my
studies on ice. Feral forgot the old ways,
remembered pigeons and stem-cells,
grew warm in the bus stop. Slept.




After Bill Viola’s Tiny Deaths

  Flock of flags in prayer
        runs the imagined edge
            of a brick-backed
                Portobello council flat.

  In colour faded by wind and rain
        spelling out a story
            of grass and granite,
                beach and the spring

  of salt-water spray,
        the thin line between
            earth and rock.
                No I shall not

  call that music; it is more
        the cry of a foghorn,
            the nights when the
                rain is a mist of wet air.

  The keenings and the darkness.
        When the figures come,
            their bodies just visible
                before stepping into light.

  I am blinded by what
        I saw. Shadows moving
            on a wall of
  and a car passing by.



Your Thumbs All Over It

In the absence of girls, select PlayStation®
Fit sticky fingers to pads
Grasp dark lowered antlers
Let blue lights ebb across iris.

In the morning you’ll find symbols seared onto skin:
Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square.




David Marshall is a relatively youthful looking poet and teacher, who has nevertheless racked up numerous years of life experience, from which he draws words and weaves poetry. He has been published infrequently on the margins of the mainstream in journals and online zines such as Ghost House Review, Miracle and Ink, Sweat & Tears. He currently lives in China and is a co-founder of the bilingual zine IHOP (International House of Poets).

Twitter: @marshalldavi

2 poems by Marine Houtmann


smell of sap & juice in the vineyard
where the grape is roaming
like a myriad of marbles
theatre for the visionaries & the mavericks
beguiled beguiled
by the syncopation
of the flute & the drums

come & eat the glistening swollen button
come & kneel by the blade of fermentation
all the creatures are decked out
with the leather of your frightening words
whirlpools of your strange liquor
in Venice Beach or in the Latin Quarter
give me your night of lust
a trust in your might

you created a cult of clashing mystery
as immortality dripped
along my legs & the glass



Poetry of the Road

down with the already seen
I say down with the already seen
the infected blade tearing off the hairs of my pussy the trace of injection on my bruised arm
I want to unveil the bridge of sighs & bloom in the splinters of new spontaneous adventures

I have laid down on the floor of a myriad of dirty train stations
I have seen the carnival of city lights turning on & off as I was waiting slumped on an outcast bench
I have yearned to fall in love on the counter of a beautiful brewery bar
& I can’t say that I wasn’t scared once
oh I’m fucking terrified with this bearded face of mine to howl at every possible stranger
but you look at me in the eyes & recognise the broke travelling child
here come the rascals the merchants the scholars the thieves the gamblers the suffering old man in a checkered coat with a trilby hat
gobbling up his second bottle of wine
counting the rings on the tree
ain’t go no money ain’t got no home ain’t got no woman ain’t got nothing to make his days bright on & roaring
but a theatrical asymetrical hysterical damned lyrical voice that resonates and will resonate in the railway night you wouldn’t believe
you wouldn’t believe there is art in it as there is art in the dizziness in the back alley to shake our steps in architecture in my legs & in the architecture of my legs
I want to be penetrated by the lanes the coloured seafront houses the excentric shops the open markets the stolen hobo-like hooded top whose wool resembles the skin of an exotic snake

now when I look at my muddy hiking boots I’m convinced that I am a warrior, a volcano on the rise, a woman with urges
the kind that shreds her clothes & cries on the pieces of the undiscovered belt of joy & drinks up to the last drop & tries her luck turning maps upside down
it’s me wishing it was us & the pavement, the holy heartbeat of the pavement on a sunny late afternoon
the whole world is too vast, the whole world is too narrow, the whole world is two
all I know is my head is an aquarium of dopamine when she and the road are naked
all I know is I am literature for the uninvited





Marine Houtmann is a masters student at the Université de Lille. Her research focuses on the intersections between lyrics, voice and performance with regard to Patti Smith’s representation of gender.

Poem for John Shade

Note on the submission: The following poem (some trivial corrections excepted) was given to me by the proprietor of an Appalachian motel, in the hope that I could publish it, both for its own value and ‘the clever ser’; a “distinguished” patron who orphaned the verse behind a nightstand some years ago along with a ping pong paddle and a few blank index cards.

Oh to the shadow of that dear slain Shade
Laid out by the mind’s drear poet, arrayed
Eternal between sweet incense of Popes
And pale fires; dim pyres that frayed waxing hopes;
Wilting boyish columns that our emblems held
Erect, sublime. Fair crime penned worlds, dispelled
Sovereign charms. Alas your harpy-muse sings
Triumphant, mantled in the cloaks of kings.
Until lyre’s tongue, in rerum of baser sort,
Discharged, premature, the magic we sought
In tallow lanterns for a royal parade




James Lythgoe is an aspiring dilettante and strong evidence for the Victorian belief that too many novels rot the brain. He makes, steals or borrows words for the Undead Poets’ Society, so they can be subjected to inhumane violins: