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…

Dust by Paul Taylor-McCartney

As it settles

The brilliant darkness

Of your passing

Masks each particle,

Point sharp, end of a needle,

Spliced in half, small.

As if weightless

Through time

I hurtle, hearing

Whispers, stammered breaths,

That dreadful, collective

Mournful slide into silence.

As once removed,

The whole world

Comes at me through fog,

Opaque forms shimmering,

Fizzing, dissolving, retreating,

As was often your way.

And the dust

Of that final touch,

Marks the moment

When all passed from dark to light,

Caught on tips of fingers, lips,

Crown, heart and proof of life.

As if in six months,

April Fool’s Day

Trick of the mind,

I can bring your

Songs, stories, smiles

Back from mere chalk and have them become

Clay in my hands.

by Paul Taylor-McCartney

Night Skating by Alyson Rhodes

Me and Joe were inseparable as boys. “You could be twins,” me Mum used to say smiling. She’d pack us both brown bags filled with squashed sarnies and an apple each, before ushering us out for the day. Watch less, parent less, we’d explore for hours. In old quarries, up meadows and in the bombed out ruins. Joe’s Mum never packed him a lunch. She struggled to feed the triplets let alone Joe, her eldest child. The triplets had been an “unwanted leaving present from the G. I’s,”I’d heard Mum telling Mrs Jakes, the next door neighbour. There was no holding Joe back. He climbed, ran, jumped the highest, fastest and furthest of us kids at St Edmunds. He’d have been head boy too or so said popular opinion, if it hadn’t been for his family ‘background.’ It was night-times when we had our greatest adventures. After midnight, while our families slept, we’d climb out of our bedroom windows and meet up by Beckett’s Pond. In summer we’d build a tree house in the woods. But winter was our favourite se…

Outside Clapham Junction, After Work

Outside the cornershop a dog had died. 
The heat had accentuated the stench bleeding off the carcass. Some number of flies had made it their new water cooler. Discussing filth, presumably. Across the road, in between the impatient footsteps of city-ridden mental illness, I saw two pigeons. One slightly larger than the other, with a lighter hue of that bluish grey they possess. He looked well-fed; well, as much as a city pigeon could. 
In Bournemouth, in the gardens of the house to some Victorian eccentric expatriates, styled with old stone, vines and exotic flowers to look like a narcissian stage, a certain pigeon had once paraded the lush koi pond, adorned by gentle fountain faucets and hydrated foliage. He was a royal-looking pigeon, their Prince on his travels, a young Siddhartha but with vanity and less commendable intentions. 
The pigeon on the London road that day could have had this beauty; he was lucky to only have the few scars. Behind him was a smaller one, jet black and le…

The Sprite at the Stage Door by Anna Barbarella

The bulbs of the Empire, a proscenium preserved in aspic, flashed out the name of my first show. Some would say it was not ‘my’ show, that I was just the scriptwriter, but authors are tyrants and I knew it was all me, me. I walked round to stage door with a feeling that, although everyone down here on the city streets didn’t know I’d written the Empire’s newest musical, if they hadknown they’d have revered me very much, and this lent me the power of a dormant volcano.
I entered stage door and – OH! – what a sight. At the desk sat a short hairy man who harrumphed and curtly asked me my name. He was a sprite. Standing near, three or four bored ushers who were clearly waiting for Cassandra Fleming-King or Walter Godolphin, to harass my beautiful actors with flattery.
‘Molly Mead,’ I said. The sprite scribbled it down.
‘You’re the writer, yes? You know you don’t need to come backstage, you can just take your seat for the…’
‘I’d prefer to have a word with Cass and Walter first,’ I said, c…

Kiss me sweet by Gideon Cecil

She kissed me like a tender
touch of
the rainy wind and vanished like
the moon behind a dark
curtain of clouds
her love was just a dream
like the dying sunset
kissing the evening skies
then she vanished like the wind
romancing the sea waves in the
immaculate beauty of the
romantic night.
Her love is just like the moonbeam
kissing the elegant
sea waves smiling from a distance
as the seagulls sing a new anthem of
love from eternity to eternity.

by Gideon Cecil

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…