Showing posts from December, 2013

Cafe Aphra closed for the holidays

Just to let everyone know that Cafe Aphra will be closed for the holidays and will be re-opening its doors on Monday 6th January.  From all of us here, we'd like to wish our readers and contributors a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR and say THANK YOU for making 2013 such a great one. May 2014 be full of joy, fun, magic and, of course, writing!! With love, Tha Cafe Aphra Baristas

Un Petit Christmas Ditty

Alternative Title :'The Thought-Fox, Revisited by a Drunk Woman' I sit, fingers poised above keys, shivering in my conservatory freeze Un petit Christmas ditty, please, would end my struggles, creative pleas And ploys. Despite the lack of fuss or noise – the house is quiet of voice and boys The words just do not want to come.   Unpressed, keys don’t know joy or fun Don’t make you laugh or make you think or make you feel or make you drink. Drink. Aha, the very thing.   Perhaps un petit verre de quelque chose May tease out words, make them flow like harmonies across staves from treble to bass. ( SCRABBLE TO BACK OF DRINKS CUPBOARD, FOLLOWED BY DASH TO CAKE TIN IN KITCHEN, RETURN TO ORTHOPAEDIC COMPUTER CHAIR, CLIMB BACK ON ) I sit, fingers poised above keys, shivering less, crumbs on my knees Sod the computer, let’s get a pen.   It might work better.   I’ll try again. Unstraddle heights off computer chair.   Straighten my knees, then prepare For ins

Christmas dinner

“I wish he’d have told me she was vegetarian,” hissed Cynthia as she hacked at the turkey. “It’s bad enough him bringing her so soon after the divorce.” Awful pompous little man. Nathan sighed. “Darling- ” “I mean, have you seen her?” Have I ever. “Darling, remember what we said.” “What did we say? That your brother’s a- ” Damn sight luckier than me, that’s for sure. “I agree it would have been thoughtful if Mark had told us, but she says she’s fine with a bit of stuffing.” Cynthia swigged at her wine. I’ll bet she is. Apparently she’s got a PhD. I wouldn’t for the life of me have thought she had a brain under all that hair. “Well she can’t have stuffing.” “Why not?” “It’s got meat in it.” “Just veg then! But do try to be nice dear, hm?” Nathan whisked her glass and the bottle away as she turned around.    First Trudy, now Samantha. She must be a double D if she’s a day. Why does my brother get all the luck? “Thank you so much for b


I was out shopping the other day. It was cold and grey, and I’d slogged my way to the market with a heavy heart. The bus was packed as ever - I was wedged into a pack of cold, unyielding south London bodies and the air was thick with tuts and sighs, toothsucking and general disgruntlement, until it tipped us all out in front of Brixton tube.   So there I was, walking down Granville Arcade, past the fruit and veg, the African snails, the yam and plantain and green bananas, and all at once I was reading a sign above a pile of nice, juicy fruits that said:   Lady, lady, please don’t squeeze up, squeeze up me mango!   I felt myself shrinking, softly. It was not an unpleasant feeling – as I got smaller I got warmer, sinking comfortably into myself. My innermost core started to glow, the warmth spreading into my skin.   As I shrank, the feelings of London angst began to melt away. I could feel my bones relaxing and my skin smoothing out – oils starting to trickle throughout


The best days start slow. Dawn light leaking past curtains, weakening as the year turns to face Winter. The best days pull me behind  two dachshunds into the world. Always a wonder, frosted silver, dripping rain, fragrant with old leaves, new flowers, spit snowflakes or warmed with birdsong. The best days begin with perfect coffee, dark roast, chocolate shaken in, one, two, a couple packets of sweetener, cinnamon dashed, a drop of cream. Scent of it drags the dogs and me up the stairs, into the house. They anticipate their breakfast. Sometimes I mix the ratio wrong. Magical potion imbalances, and the day follows suit. The best days catch up correspondence on my tablet in bed, dogs laid like logs between my legs, cat in the window daring the sun for warmth. The best days start with stories, I am still the child who asks for a story before bed. Stories, poetry, a necessity like air or water or food. No other cup of coffee matters like that first

The Softest Hour

My little brother didn’t cry like other babies.  He bleated, like a cleaved pig.  I clapped my palms against my ears - it never helped. “… a son… to carry on our name… and toss the ball around.”  Our walls were thin.  “…tea parties and dolls… not my thing.”  And dad’s voice carried.  “We love you so much honey,” ma stroked my arm while she lied, “that’s why we want another.” I cried into my pillow and dreamt I was a boy. Pa moved my cups and saucers to the den and made Danny a bed in my garden playhouse.  Come nap time, ma laid him in it, shut the doors – midnight blue – and tiptoed backwards.  As she inched by, she’d press a chubby finger to her lips, tousle my hair and scratch Burke’s floppy ears.   “Shhhh - it’s the soft hour,” she’d say.  Her winks made me warm. I never used my tea set again. It was a crisp autumn morn.  Upstairs, the vacuum hummed and sucked but below, Danny’s shrieks rang out like a bludgeoned porpoise - and split the soft hour. Our daschund pan


Apolonia the midwife took me to a hovel roofed with yagua, the base of the palm frond. A squat woman nodded Yes, I could meet her children. They lay splayed on long benches: one deaf-mute, another blind and crippled, the last spinning a coconut. His head bobbed up and down, his smile never changing as he watched the coconut wobble to a stop, then spun it again on endless repeat. I tried to speak to him. “These are the fruits of this tree,” said Apolonia, tugging me gently away. “You mistake movement for intelligence.” “You might as well talk to a palm,” Apolonia shook her graying head. “Its fronds wave in the same wind whether you’re speaking or silent.” Jan Steckel