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Fragile Cloud

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June was an unpredictable month of little storms. At three o’clock, a pale Caribbean sun came into view and the girls begged Beatrice to drive them to the sea for an afternoon dip. They missed the salty heat of coral beaches and the iridescent waves.

When they arrived at the deserted beach, the ocean was a cloudy colour. Seagulls sailed in the wind that carried the pitiless odor of seaweed. The girls sighed at the brown sea, and vented to their mother. After ten minutes of lying beneath an overcast sky, everyone retreated to the car and brushed the sand off their feet.
Secretly, Beatrice was glad for the rain. A change in climate was auspicious for a dry island lashed by the long rays of a mercurial sun. But the rain also consoled her. It helped her sleep. Most nights, she would toss and turn on the bed and it was only the clamor of the rain on the galvanized tin roof that could soothe her. 
Tonight, she lay awake waiting. There was no need for a fan. The trade winds blew through the pal…

Reaching Through Tin

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Your image before me
has traveled through time intact, yet your eyes see me here, in my now, your future yet to be.
You are speaking to me with a stare telescoping beyond eons, and I hear you, your thoughts, hopes, ideals, genius and sorrow fully blown.
Reach out your hand, reach through the film that separates us, touch your barrier to  dissipate my radius, and our frontier will be inhabited and haunted all at once.

by Charlotte Ozment



















A note on the image: This is the oldest known intentional photographic self-portrait of a person (Robert Cornelius, 1839) and the photograph that inspired this poem.

Six Questions For... Cafe Aphra

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Greetings all,

If you enjoy hanging out in Cafe Aphra, you may like to check out this recent interview with the current editor, Sara Roberts:

Six Questions For...

Writer Jim Harrington has set up this excellent blog with a series of interviews called 'Six Questions For...' with editors of various literary magazines and journals.

It's a really fantastic resource, with an incredible number of magazines listed, and well worth following for all those of us who are interested in submitting work for publication.

Thanks Jim!



When I Called in Dead

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The boss was angry when I called in dead again. I could tell by the way he didn't respond, gave nothing but a frustrated huff and clattered the phone back to its cradle. Still, there was too much undone to take the day off, so I went to the office as usual.

First stop, coffee, but no one would serve me. Not even Yolanda who knew my usual. She didn't even smile, in fact yelled NEXT to my face and beamed at the fellow behind me. He pushed me out of line.
Nearly missed the bus. It didn't help that the driver practically shut the door with me in it. She was upset, probably because I'd forgotten my pass, but she didn't need to gun the bus forward when I hadn't even found a grab-rail. No one bothered to help me up off the floor.
The only thing I can figure is the boss sent an email. What else explains the reason for the entire office to snub me? Karen, on the front desk, who for years showed me photos of cats, didn't even speak. My office mate didn't look up as …

The Dandelion

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I can’t stop looking at the vase. I was silly to get it out this year. Its loud emptiness is worse than not seeing it at all.

If I’d known last year, I wouldn’t have been so casual about throwing away the flowers. I would have pressed them on to card, covered them with cellophane, sealed them forever.
The breeze blows the curtains and they tickle my arms. I turn my face to the window, the sun hot through the glass. 
I worried about this house being too secluded once, too remote. But he was a country boy, convinced me it was a good idea. He was right. We have been happy. And at least I don’t have to worry about the neighbours judging him now. 
My eyes fill with tears as I watch him out there. Completely naked, rolling down the grassy slope in the garden, shrieking like a little boy. I’m worried he is going to break something, but he never seems too. His mind thinks he is young so his body agrees, I guess.
My heart is a stone in my chest, my throat contracting. I want to scream at him to ‘St…

Sara in Her Father's Arms

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Cell by cell the baby made herself, the cells Made cells. That is to say The baby is made largely of milk. Lying in her father's arms, the little seed eyes Moving, trying to see, smiling for us To see, she will make a household To her need of these rooms - Sara, little seed, Little violent, diligent seed. Come let us look at the world Glittering: this seed will speak, Max, words! There will be no other words in the world But those our children speak. What will she make of a world Do you suppose, Max, of which she is made.

by George Oppen




(Poem taken from this article about U.S. poet Nick Flynn.) 
I particularly enjoy this quote by Flynn on writing prose and poetry:
“The way I write I don’t see much distinction between the two, although prose seems more suited to daylight, and poetry to night. I try to cook both down to something essential—by the end hopefully some balance between mystery and clarity remains.”

Axel's Flight

Overhead, they swoop and soar, chirp and chatter, but Axel doesn’t seem to hear. His defences strong, resolve weakened, he protests his plight in that way of teenagers. His old head on young shoulders says he was destined to be caged.

My heart breaks to see him, happy in his own skin, with eyes black as the crows, but never to be free as the birds. 
I told him, ‘Accept nothing, Axel; challenge everything.’
He slants his eyes at me as if to say, ‘Don’t be ridiculous; it’s the way it’s always been.’ 
His chair squeaks with each slow wheel rotation but when he’s in a playful mood he’ll make it whir like a rotor that might lift him up to swoop and soar in the blue sky and billowing clouds. 
‘I figure it’d be pretty cool up there but I guess I wouldn’t last long,’ he says. 
‘Probably,’ I reply. I don’t want him to tell me he’d prefer to be up there. He’ll be there soon enough. 
I cannot imagine my life without him, empty of his squeaking and whirring, but I swallow, smile and open the door. He pr…