Jester & King by Salia Jansen

The jester mocks and tells his jokes,
Whereas the king, he hears his word,
And both they laugh ‘bout funny folks,
Of braveries that they have heard.

And while the king is entertained, The jester smiles and shakes his head,
For he’s a jester, friend and saint,
Forerunners told him who are dead.
The king is lost, they start to sing,
They swap the crown for hat with bell,
Who jester is and who is king,
The servants ask, they cannot tell.

by Salia Jansen

Jumping to Conclusions by Becca Leathlean

Polly, the housing support worker, drove Naomi crazy. Fat lot of support she gave her. Today she was asking about her boyfriend. ‘You are being careful, aren’t you?’ she’d said, in that fake worried tone of hers.
Polly was a podgy blonde of around 35. She’d been perched right on the edge of Naomi’s second-hand sofa, like she was scared she would catch something from it, as if she was ‘being careful’ herself.
Naomi - or Nai, as Hannah used to call her - had just turned 19. She wore tight Lycra leggings and a skinny top, her shimmery crochet cardi open at the front and accentuating rather than concealing her long cleavage and curves. “A right prima donna,” Polly’s colleagues had warned. “She’ll say she can’t see you because she’s painting her nails.” Polly stole a look. Naomi’s long talons were indeed impressive: today coated in dark varnish and topped off with glittering silver swirls.
When Polly had asked if she was being careful, Naomi hadn’t answered. Nosy cow. And then Polly had start…

UXO by Emily Keverne

There's been a UXO sighting in the green scrub of Laos -
One sleek aged cylinder, otherwordly,
Ghostling low where the birds hop,
Tickling pinkie toes and feet
Clean off their hinges.

Though they sky-fell a million years ago
They patiently wait to beam up children,
Offer their gamble to the farmer's crop,
And lop, and lop, and lop.

And they say "take care" because they know Their world of fractured soil,
Where your life could become ashes - still - After every other soul's gone home.

by Emily Keverne

Hannah at the Launderette by Laura Scoble

Hannah came from a nice part of Surrey where people gave their dirty clothes to a young man at the back door who brought them back a few days later, clean and ironed.

Once married to handsome Jerry, however, Hannah forfeited back doors and all that came through them. But her sweet-talking husband did buy her a washing machine and steam iron with some of their wedding money. He even taught her how to use them.
Jerry, meanwhile, got on with betting on dead certs at various horse races around the country.
Sympathy for Jerry’s rotten luck survived intact through three wedding anniversaries, the loss of Hannah’s heated rollers, camera, the best of their furniture and even some of her jewellery. Only when her washing machine was sold to pay the bookie who’d popped round for a chat late one night, did she begin to suspect that gorgeous Jerry was completely useless at backing the winning horse.
Hannah had never used a launderette before.
She arrived with her dirty clothes neatly folded in a suitca…

Remembrance Day by Robert Beveridge

In this world we all have silver eyes

hunched in an alley at night in a dark
overcoat and a floppy hat bottle
of cheap liquor next to me like
a prayer candle that went out hours ago

the beginning of a scene that has played
itself out a thousand times before
all we need to do is wait for the lights/
camera/action/enter stage left the guy

with the blue shirt and the badge

and his hand grabs my shoulder and my
knife goes into his gut and I stand up
and whisper in his ear “regards from my
brother” and once I finish drawing the T
on his body it’s only a short jaunt
to the river to wash off and send the clothes
on their way to the ocean

Snowy Down by Judith Goldsmith

She left from the gathering around the grave, leaving behind the kindness that couldn't reach her. She ignored the concerned calls and drifted deeper among the heavy granite slabs. She had no direction beyond 'away'.

She saw the stark red, harsh against the snow, before she saw the tiny corpse. A sparrow, plucked from the air by winter's call and shredded by a passing cat, perhaps. She looked, but didn’t register this other, lesser, death.

Even so, she reached unsteadily down towards a fluffy, furled feather lying in the glistening snow. She touched it gently. It had so little substance that her skin could not believe there was anything there - but then her finger tips no longer knew how to notice touch. It was one of those unexpected changes that had come on her with age. The drying skin, turning to paper; the muffled hearing; the clouding eyes. They had laughed together at it.

Carefully, clinging for support to a nearby stone, she knelt in the crisp moisture and picke…

Closing up shop...

Indeed, we're sad to say that Cafe Aphra is closing its doors from the end of December 2018, at least for a temporary period during Spring 2019 and possibly longer. This is so that the three of us who currently run the blog can have some time to concentrate on other life and writing projects that we have going on. 

We will therefore not be accepting any more submissions from now on.

We'd like to thank all our lovely contributors for sharing their wonderful work with us and for giving us and so many others so much reading pleasure over the years. It's been a fabulous experience!

We hope that we've provided a safe and welcoming online environment for aspiring and established writers to air their work in public, sometimes for the first time.

With all our thanks, yours as ever,

Sara, Barbara and Charlotte - current baristas on duty

... and, of course, all the other Cafe Aphra baristas who have helped us keep this place open over the years! Chad, Yvonne, Dianne, Zoe, and everyone…