Dyspnea by Salvatore Difalco

I had thin arms as a boy. When I was about 11, I started doing biceps
curls with a wooden beam in my father’s workshop. It weighed maybe ten
or so pounds. I did hundreds of curls with that beam, hundreds. I did
so many curls with the beam it became too light to give me a pump. So
I added some weight to the beam, in the form of two stout salamis that
my mother was curing in the cantina. They weighed a couple of pounds
each and I tied them to opposite ends of the beam for balance. This
worked. The added weight guaranteed that I got a pump when I did my
curls. This was before barbells became a commonplace. Eventually, two
salamis added to the beam were not enough. I had to add two more. My
skinny, weakling arms were filling out and hardening into serious
pipes. I started wearing tank tops and my little friends made comments
about my arms. Look at his arms, would ya! They’re like Steve Reeves’!
They’re like Popeye’s! Of course Popeye had huge forearms, but his
biceps never featured promi…

A fragment of Memoir: Jemima by Barnard Browne

Jemima occupied a box in my father’s study. It had once contained an Xpelair fan. The cardboard was quite thick with copper staples to keep it together. The texture set my teeth on edge. Perhaps that’s how they made cardboard in 1962. Jemima terrified me. She was about twenty years old compared to my five but I was taller. She walked at night. I could see her through the bed clothes that I drew up around my head for protection.  Her method of locomotion was necessarily unconventional. She had been decapitated and buried with a few pots of Roman provenance by the side of the ancient trackway that passed the front of our house.  Her skull was found between her knees, as if she was looking for her missing feet. In my imagination she walked with her skull perched directly on her pelvis.  Close by is the church of St Michael and all Angels, its name and unusual north-south alignment hinting at a pre-Christian foundation. The church was in the care of my father, the Rector. Stone hand axes were…

Fishing for Compliments by Ellie Sparks

Your rod hung
In lonely air, Extending further and Further. A seagull flew into it; Snapped it straight in Half. I thought you'd pursue Another hobby.  You sat upon freezing Pebbles, Weeping salt water.

by Ellie Sparks

Bookmark by Bryan van Scoyk

The bookmark is the part that I keep coming back to, perhaps because I think that it is the thing about the whole incident that says the most about me, the only thing that means anything. The exact placement of the bookmark, the way that I precisely, if quickly, wedged it into the book so that the bottom edge cleanly revealed a line of text and its top edge protruded out of the book at its customary surplus of about 1.5 inches.

I was reading in the park, engrossed in a world very far from my own, but one in which I was reading a highly coincidental passage about a car accident. I’m sure that it means nothing that I was reading about an accident, but when I heard the bang of the collision, it was a shock to my mind as much as my ears. It was as though the life of the pages were playing out before me, and as I looked quickly up at the car accident coming to a stop only yards from the bench, I became very confused.

I was already in action of course, as the papers went to great lengths…

Afternoon Tea by Kiira Rhosair

Summer, and Priya was visiting Uncle and Aunt in rural Jainampore. It was her favourite time of day, late afternoon, when they migrated to the rooftops to catch the southeasterly breezes. They perched on the ledges, clutching glass tumblers filled withcardamom chai. Their view, the nine mile stretch of Trunk Road with its cluster of smart middle class residences on each side thinning to slums at the far end.      A scooter trundled by. Two men with lustrous moustaches were crouching on it, a flat screen TV between them.      ‘See the struggle of common man,’ Uncle said.       About five minutes later, a khaki-clad policeman approached on a rusty bicycle. If the scooter was leisurely, this vehicle was a shade speedier than stationary.       He gave them a salute. ‘I am hot on the heels of burglars. They’ve stolen Mr Sharma’s TV. Did you see which way they went?’      ‘Down Trunk Road... but you’ll never catch them on that,’ Priya said, an eye on Uncle’s Jeep at the gates.      ‘Yes, quicker …

Phoenix by Gemma Johnston

Flames whisper;
           “You deserve this.”
A quiet burn. Tasting soul's flesh, searing the mind Into silence.
Like fire pulsing In dark veins underground, It burns for years. Feeding  On fossilised memories Of bygone eras.
But time wins,  As it always does. Flames become embers, Glowing with promise  Of release.
In the cool ash  Of the past, There is nothing left to burn. The future forms- Amongst the grey motes, The future forms- And it bursts forth,  Soaring            Into the sky                               With purpose.

by Gemma Johnston

Crushed Garlic by Joy Manne

Cherry laid out vegetables in order of cooking on the black marble surface.

Golden summer garlic, pale sweet onions, leeks, carrots, green pea pods. Fragrance and freshness. It was a safe kind of chore—making soup.

Two cloves of garlic on the old wooden chopping board.

The wide body of their Japanese cooking knife, bought in Kyoto where they’d celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

She still had strength to crush garlic…

He would be crushed.

She’d kept their last summer together joyful, organising excursions to visit places they’d been happy before; walking once again their easier walks – all the cliché things their older friends had done. Why do people despise cliché, she wondered.

It was a slow-growing cancer, inoperable. If she wished, her doctors would give her radio and chemo, but the statistics weren’t promising. She reassured them, feeling sorry for the young men who had to give her the news––once her husband’s students, then colleagues––ethically bound not to t…