Showing posts from 2018

Flower Shop Crush by Mikolaj Czerbak

I saw you arranging Bouquets for a wedding And two funerals Lighting up the room yourself For all the plants to grow Despite a north facing window I saw you cutting thorns Off a rose So nobody who loves it Gets hurt So I want to ask Where I should plant my roots So I can grow Am I a potted Or a free-growing plant How much sun I need And how often should someone Stop by t o water me And trim my branches I want to bloom someday And lose all my thorns I know You’re used to flowers And I think of myself As a weed by Mikolaj Czerbak

132 Odd Socks by Helen Fielden

She gazes in a kind of mystical awe at the myriad of socks laid out over the king size bed. Ankle socks, trainer socks, walking socks, Christmas socks, poodle socks (remember those?), long socks, posh socks, socks with holes in, even a special ballet sock. The most extraordinary feature of this collection is the fact that not one, not even the limited edition sock that has a personalized image of Gareth Bale printed on it, is a match. In the school staff room, she recounts this discovery to the amusement (mainly) of her colleagues. One is, however, looking genuinely puzzled. “How?” the neat, tidy and super organized teacher asks in bewilderment, “How does that happen?” “How does it not happen?” replies the Sock Queen. “How, how does anyone keep socks in pairs?” Super organized teacher suggests gently that Sock Queen pairs the socks before they go in the washing machine. “I’ll try,” promises Sock Queen as the bell goes to mark end of break. She leaves the staff room, now litter

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

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 n

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 a

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, Dia

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

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 b

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 s

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

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 ha

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