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Showing posts from 2018

UXO by Emily Keverne

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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

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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

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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...

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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