Pushcart Prize Nominations

We are delighted to reveal our chosen nominations for this year’s Pushcart Prize, selected from our magazine and this year’s Big Book, Heart/h . Our deepest thanks to each of our authors and poets for entrusting us with your work – you make this possible!

For Poetry

Holly Magill for Dad Teaches Me to Light Matches7th April 2021

Kayleigh Campbell for Lunar Eclipse28th April 2021

Clive Donovan for Buttons26 May 2021

For Short Stories

Mikki Aronoff for ‘Nature/Nurture‘ in Heart/h

Sean Burke for ‘A Silver Maple‘ in Heart/h

Kelly Kaur for ‘The Kitchen is her Home‘ in Heart/h

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Pushcart Prize?

The Pushcart Prize is a time-honoured literary project in the United States. Founded in 1976, it recognises the best small presses in the world by publishing the winning pieces in a yearly anthology.

Why didn’t you choose my piece?

We are deeply passionate about all our authors’ work – that’s why we published you! We’re only allowed six nominations, though, so we went for those pieces which had especially stuck with us this past year.

Can I nominate my own work?

The Pushcart Prize only accepts nominations from publishers, not from individuals.

‘The Compliment’ by Daniel Schulz

The whistle of his lips reverberated down the corridor, following her lonely steps toward the platform we were leaving.

“Hey, you know the subway is running late tonight, right?” I shouted back at her, trying to warn her about the twenty minute delay. No reaction. “Did you really have to do that?” I asked.

“Calm down. It’s a compliment,” Tom answered, deflecting my discontent. This was exactly the problem I always had with him. I took a deep breath and kept still. I didn’t want an argument. We had both had this conversation once before. This wasn’t the time to have it again.

It was ten o’clock that evening. We had just returned from work, when the subway home had announced a delay of about twenty minutes. That’s when we walked down the corridor, when we saw her walking up toward the platform, when we were on our way to the bus station out front, looking for an alternative way home. Looking at the schedule I realised it made no difference – that the subway was still my fastest ride home. Tom looked at me. He still was the man who appreciated women in every way but the one they wanted to be appreciated in.

“Are you going back to the platform?”, he asked. Of course I was. And deep inside I hoped I wouldn’t see her again, avoid an awkward situation. “See you, tomorrow,” Tom said, leaving for the bus. And while I watched him get in the bus that was just driving up, I secretly hoped she wouldn’t remember who I was, if I saw her at the platform that is. But, of course, I wasn’t quite as lucky as that.

There was a nervous kind of silence. An uneasy ignorance of my presence, displayed with purpose. As if to hope that nothing bad would happen if she just ignored me. It was the kind of body language I recognised from myself when I used my body to speak – the kind of language I employed when I was out partying on the weekends, trying to avoid the anger of drunk men and strangers passing by. Trying to avoid the violence that some people’s stares or comments toward me promised.

Like a stranger whistling behind me, telling me I have a great ass.

I proceeded to the other end of the platform, putting as much distance between us as possible, trying to be thoughtful of her, when, looking back, I caught her staring at me in angst, a glance of recognition. She remembered who I was. She remembered the sound of someone whistling after her. Or maybe it was the way I was clothed: I was wearing black pants and a leather jacket on my body, and black smears on my face from work, unwashed traces from the factory. Standing there underneath the neon light, I must have seemed like a shadow casting itself toward her, leering at her from underneath the abyss that was my face. Seeing her fear, it seemed impossible to disarm it, as it was me that was her angst.

The thought of apologising to her crossed my mind. But even speaking to her would perhaps make her flinch, even if I apologised for his behavior. Maybe even apologising to her would make her feel uncomfortable, giving the impression I wanted something from her. Better not do anything. Better leave her alone. There was no way to untie the knot in her stomach.

Twenty minutes is a long time to wait.

Staring out into the night and onto the platform across from us, I let my thoughts wander away, hoping somehow that it would put her at ease that the shadow standing here, underneath these lights, displayed no interest in her. This is what Tom never understood about what he was doing, the unease that it caused for others. Glancing back for a second, I saw a man in uniform approach the woman he had disturbed. Her face expressed a sigh of relief, as the subway slowly rolled in. Twenty minutes is a long time to wait. Lucky enough, the cars we entered were separate.

While the landscape outside slowly increased speed, my thoughts remained still in reminiscence of the fear that had shown on her face. Twenty minutes is a long time to be afraid, out there in the dark. I could feel the unease on her face spread throughout my body. There was a desire to break away from the world that surrounded me, an urgent need to separate myself from the passengers sitting all around me – an urgent need to isolate myself in panic, realising that the expression of her fear reflected who I was.

About the Author

Daniel Schulz is a U.S.-German author based in Cologne. He is best known for his short story collection Schrei (Formidabel 2016) and his work as curator of the Kathy Acker Reading Room at the University of Cologne. In 2019 he co-organized and curated an exhibition for the Goethe Institute in Seattle for which he edited the book Kathy Acker in Seattle (Misfit Lit 2020). He also worked as co-editor of Gender Forum‘s special edition Kathy Acker: Portrait of an Eye/I (2019). His works have appeared in the journals Der Federkiel, Luftruinen, Die Novelle, The Transnational, Electronic Book Review, Mirage #5, Gender Forum, Fragmented Voices, Divanova, Kunst-Kultur-Literatur Magazin, Versification, Salut L‘absurde, Café Irreal and Cacti Fur as well as the anthologies Tin Soldier (Sarturia 2020), Corona -Schnee (Salon29 2021), Jahrbuch der Poesie 2021 (AG Literatur 2021) and Heart/h (Fragmented Voices 2021).  Instagram: @danielschulzpoet

‘Returning to the Shack in the Wood’ by Helen Kay

I draw a screwdriver from my handbag. 
Four screws, sunk to their necks,
pin the tarred door to its splintered frame.

We gave up padlocks last year: 
too many lost keys, and metal hearts, 
worn openly, tempt straying hands. 

The tin roof has new chapters of rust.
We dread chewed wires, mothy towels, 
the selves we left, now mould-spotted.  

The Philips glances off worn grooves,
but finally the timber grinds its hinge hips;
lost air sucks up the green light of oaks. 

A glissando of duct tape releases boxes;
we uncurl the tent’s skins and peg out
our drey amidst a hug of oaks.  

About the Author

Helen’s work has appeared in various magazines. In 2021 she was a finalist for the Brotherton Prize. She curates dyslexiapoetry.co.uk . Her pamphlet, This Lexia & Other Languages (v. press) was published in 2020. She has a sidekick hen puppet diva called Nigella.

‘Granda Tot’ by Tom Kelly

Jarrow born writer, Tom Kelly, tries to discover the life and hard times of his maternal grandfather, almost fifty years after his death. He follows him from a boy on the training ship, ‘The Wellesley,’ moored off North Shields, through two world wars. And still asks, “do I know my grandfather?”

Photographs of Granda in a sailor suit with his mother.

In this rare photograph, taken one hundred and twenty years ago, we see an unsmiling mother and child. No smiles for the camera. No wonder. Margaret Henderson, his mother, my great grandmother, would have been thirty-years-old. 

My grandfather, James Robert Henderson, was born in Jarrow on March 14th 1889 and died August 18th, 1972. The bald facts. What do they hide, what do they tell us? How much do I really know about him? Take away photographs and family stories and what is left? 

Just weeks after his birth, on March 31st, 1889, the Eiffel Tower was unveiled for the Paris Exhibition. The Tower, at the time, was the World’s tallest structure. It is seen as one of the masterpieces of nineteenth century architecture. In sharp contrast, my grandfather’s birth would have been met with a sense of foreboding. No fanfare for James Robert Henderson. His mother, Margaret, was a single mother. He was illegitimate. The mark of Cain was on his head. His father was killed in a pit accident at Hebburn Colliery months before his birth.

Granda was born into a world where the stigma of being illegitimate was difficult to overcome. His mother needed to work. She did not have family support and she placed her son initially in Green’s Boys Home, South Shields and at twelve-year-old on the ‘The Wellesley’, an Industrial School ship, moored off Liddell Street Quays, North Shields. ‘The Wellesley’ was initiated in 1868 to take care of boys who, “through poverty, parental neglect or being orphans may be in contamination with vice and crime”. There were 300 hundred boys on the ship.  The boys could have visitors once they had been onboard for two months and provided the visitors were not drunk!

Life onboard ‘The Wellesley’ was harsh. At half-past four in the summer, or five in the winter, they would wash, have breakfast and scrub the decks.

He was fifteen when he left the training ship and signed on a sailing ship that left the Tyne for the Black Sea in 1904. Incidentally ‘The Wellesley’ was burnt off the Tyne on March 11th, 1914. I suspect Granda did not shed many tears at its demise.

However, ‘The Wellesley’ developed a number of skills he used all his life, his dexterity with rope always amazed me as did his prowess at darning, knitting and sewing. He was also a strong swimmer, which was encouraged and developed on the ship. It is said he saved a man’s life in the Tyne, that led him to being awarded a lifesaving medal, which was pawned when money was in short supply in the 1920’s and 30’s.

After returning from sea, he worked in the shipyards on the Tyne. 

He used the sailing skills learnt upon ‘The Wellesley’ and became a Rigger.

He told me he would stand outside the shipyard gates and if you had paid the foreman a bribe you would get a start, perhaps a day or two’s work.

This bribe, in the form of a half-a crown, would be placed in a matchbox and slid along the counter to the Foreman, often in Jarrow’s ‘Long Bar’.

During this time Granda met Margaret Cumiskey, my grandmother. Her father, my great grandfather, was Thomas Cumiskey an Irishman from Clonbur, in Galway. Bridget Lydon, his wife and my great grandmother was born in Jarrow in 1865 and Thomas in Clonbur a year later in 1866. Thomas came from Ireland to work in Jarrow’s Palmers Shipyard.

When Granny brought Granda to meet her father, for the first time, and told him that Granda was not a Catholic she was told, “Don’t bring that man in this house again”. Reason, eventually, prevailed. Granda ‘turned’ and became a Catholic and they married at St Bede’s Church, Monkton Road, Jarrow, on February 21st 1914. 

With the First World War looming Granda joined the East Yorkshire regiment and became, Private James Henderson 16985, which is stamped on his three medals in a case on my desk. The medals were presented to each surviving serviceman at the end of the war and were nicknamed ‘Bubble, Squeak and Wilfred’ by the servicemen of the day. 

War was declared on August 4th 1914 and he saw action in Italy, France, and Salonika.  In an article in the Gazette in February 1964, celebrating their Golden Wedding Granda said, “I was there at the beginning and at the end”. And that is why among his medals is the ‘1914-1915 Star’, which were given to those who saw service between August 1914 and December 31st 1915.

He fought in Gallipoli from April 1915 to December 1915. The conditions that the troops at Gallipoli had to endure were horrendous, bad sanitation led to a dysentery epidemic. Granda, along with thousands of others, contracted dysentery, which stayed with him all the way home through France. He also suffered frostbite and on his return to England was treated for several months at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, in Buckinghamshire before he was able to return home to Tyneside.

After his recuperation he returned to working in the shipyards of the Tyne.  It was while working in the yards he gained his nickname ‘Tot’, as he was a small man. However, he always preferred his full name, James Robert Henderson, which he would say slowly and with pride.

His mother, Margaret, known as ‘Polly’ died in 1937 and now the Second World War was on the horizon and his sons fought in Borneo and South Africa. 

He continued to work in the yards throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s and when he retired from the shipyards took a part-time job on the building of Jarrow shopping centre in the 1960’s and later at a bakery on the Simonside Industrial Trading Estate. His wife, my grandmother, died at home, in 1969.  Grandfather died not long after being told of the birth of my sister Maureen’s son, Stephen. Granda was 83.

There they are the bald facts I have gleaned over the years. Do I know him any better? I can still hear his voice: deep, slow and resonant but recall little of what he said or not enough. I want to know more, but now it’s too late to ask.

‘Fog Warning’ by Liz Young

It is dangerous to attempt to retrieve anything from fog/ the name of your sister’s dog/ the right door/ evaporates/ will not heed when you call/ no recall in dense///

fog/// go slow/// put your hazards on/ let others know you are dealing with fog to maintain the correct distance/ but if or when/ then/ keep expectations low/ strangers will flash articulation/ synaptic claps blind/ your dim road/ path/ trail// footprints// track/// go back/// iron out the one sentence you have/ fix it straight/ repeat/ write it down for posterity

do not imagine/think/ fog will last/// forever//// the current forecast anticipates one hour before dissipation// it may feel like several days/// ablur in brume /// singing each verse of a theme tune to perfection//astonished that a mist though familiar settles in a room you have entered///expectant as hunger that your hand will find what you came for//or was that yesterday// or before

when fog shifts your lost words will return/ migrating kittiwakes drop your syllables/ wayward eggs/ into the right nest too late for your unfathomed tongue// left unsaid 

when your fog lifts 

there may be rainbows

About the Author

Liz Young is a non-fiction writer living in Sunderland, North-East England. She has a background in illustrated book publishing and is a former co-editor of Kindred Spirit magazine. Her poems have appeared in Magma, South Bank Poetry, 14 and The Alchemy Spoon.

A Peruvian Autumn – Part 3


 by Filonilo Catalina

who are broken
are always trying to fix ourselves
either with a glass of wine in our hand
or with a syringe in our arms.
we always try to mend ourselves
in church with our hair neatly combed
or with a partner by the hand.
who are broken
walk until our shoes are worn out
we stand in long lines in the pews
and with sad smiles we wait well seated.
who are broken
say good morning without thinking
and without remedy 
we leave this world 
with our suits on and our hair in a ponytail.

Until the last song

by Lourdes Aparicion

In memory of Evelyn Rondinelli, my Blue Orbital

I have searched for you under the rocks
who have been sleeping since you resigned from Ayacucho
your shadow was a blue bird
I was walking the glory
shaggy heads
and the adobe houses
where we lived when you were meat
you used to hide
under that river that led us
and dance to the last song
in dis-crazy parties,
You expected that every night
tear themselves apart before your eyes
with your smile
a blue rainbow
a serene and blue sky
a calm blue river
a blue rain
and this heart that
I know
rips apart

Hymn to Seeing

by Valeria Chauvel

I’ve seen nature, infinite, boundless
The life I see around is countless
There is hope with us, I may prove
I’ve seen them breathe and move.

I’ve seen the night white colours
In between its dark hues
I’ve seen the light undercover
Behind the clouds, it diffuse.

I’ve stopped to walk and talk
To learn, to see and hear
In the space, timeless clock
The beauty and sounds in here.

The New Life

by Willy Gómez

We were leaving in your car and we had an open moon chasing us. 
On your body grew other shores of high meadows, 
and in my hands your photos, my glasses, your citrus cologne and my cigarettes.

We were driving at 120 km/h listening to the radio Tragedies of Priam, 
astonished because of the alum stains on the track 
that darkened the road towards a horizon of frightened lights.  

A protagonist of the escape was going with us to the Lima carnival. 
I was saving for the arrival of its bridges and its gardens, 
the waltzes of the old neighborhood, the adobo recipe and the modern dance.

Until the narcissus came to us wanting to fight, 
after the desire to go further 
while the cars slowed down one after the other
and slid over the real landscape of wires and poles of the Costa Verde. 

That starless night we were caught in a double collision between machines. 

But we could still hear the sea breaking the waves.

About the Authors 

Lourdes Aparicion (Apurímac, 1993). Lourdes Apari Moscoso, also Lourdes Aparicion. Migrant, activist, psychologist and community cultural manager. She lives in Paracas (Pisco, Ica), where she is the co-founder of the Emergentes del Mar Cultural Group. She is the author of the “Warmi” plaquette. Likewise, she has been invited to participate in different literary events, national and international, and some of her texts make up various literary exhibitions in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Mexico. In 2020, she obtained the first honorable mention in the XI El Poeta Joven del Perú Contest with a first version of her book entitled Apacheta.

Filonilo Catalina: He is a cultural manager. He won the COPÉ prize for poetry in 2005 with his book El Monstruo de los Cerros and, in 2015, he obtained the first place for poetry in the “El País de Ofelia” award in Spain with the book Arquitectura de Pájaros. He has published seven books of poetry. In his youth he was a member of the Box team from Arequipa. Nowadays he is currently dedicated to make musical compositions. He directs the label “Rupestre” with which he disseminates the poetry of his country.

Valeria Chauvel Moscoso (1998, Lima, Perú). Studies philosophy at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, and is as passionate about poetry and visual arts as she is about her career. She has participated in a collective publication with the FCE in the poetry book “Versos desde el encierro” and in the recital of La Huaca es Poesía, “De las voces del Perú y Latinoamérica para el mundo” (From the voices of Peru and Latin America to the world). She is currently part of the organization La Huaca es Poesía. Also, she is about to finish her first collection of poems, where the search for meaning, existential emptiness and the absurd are the themes that prompted the creation of this first book of verses.

Willy Gómez Migliaro was born in Lima-Peru on August 13, 1968. Winner of the Latin American poetry prize Festival de la Lira 2015. He has directed the poetry magazines Polvo enamorado (1990-1992) and Tokapus (1993-1996). He has also published the books of poetry Etérea (2002), Nada como los campos (2003) and La breve eternidad de Raymundo Nóvak (2005), all under the Hipocampo Editores label; Moridor (Pakarina Ediciones, 2010), Construcción Civil (Paracaídas Editores, 2013), Nuevas Batallas (Arteidea Editores, 2013), Pintura roja (Paracaidas Editores, 2016) Lírico puro (Hipocampo Editores, 2017), Among the research books it has been compiler of the book OPEMPE, relatos orales asháninka y nomatsiguenga (Editorial AndesBook, 2009) y Cholos, 13 poetas peruanos nacidos entre el 70 y el 90  (Catafixia, 2014). His poems have appeared in major Spanish-American and European magazines. He has been published in different national and international poetry anthologies. He is currently a professor of literature, creative writing, and literary consultant.

‘Counterpoints’ by Anita Goveas

Jayanti burrows into the lavender-scented pillows on the carved walnut bed, surrounded by an orchestra. The mice scrabble in the red-tiled roof again, the percussion. A rhythmical chorus of April raindrops dribble down, plucked like a swaggering violin. Her stomach gurgles, an oboe. She should eat, but there’s no need yet, and no-one would notice if she doesn’t.  She should get up to finish her unpacking, but she’s safe here. Nested. 

The door rattles, claves or a hand-drum. There’s enough percussion, so she ignores it. If it’s the whistling postman with another letter from the lawyers, it can wait. The cymbal chime of the letterbox flapping, a fluting voice says ‘I’ll just leave this vinegar cake on your porch, dear.” Not a good start with the neighbours, but Jayanti is waiting for the crescendo, the sign to begin the day. That’s been harder to pinpoint lately.

The fluting doesn’t stop, transforms into a background pipe of choop, choop, choop. The eaves outside her window flutter, the barest suggestion of frantic wings. She rolls across the plump mattress, peers down from the latticed window. The piping is in the middle of a lavender bush, a jarring note. She glances into the guttering of her aunt’s cottage, it doesn’t feel like her cottage yet, spots a clump of apparent pebbles pale against the silvery, damp-streaked slate walls and a glimpse of beak.

Rain runs down her neck, a drop travelling to her armpit, as she edges outside. The chooping becomes a chord, several notes at once. Jayanti runs back inside, emerges ripping the tag off a checkered tea towel. Reaching into the lavender, drenching her wrists with scent that lingers for days, she cradles a bedraggled baby swallow. Inches into the kitchen, finds the box that contained the kettle, layers it with more cloths. Makes a cup of tea and munches soggy, fluffy, fruity cake while she works out what to do with this unexpected guest. No-one has needed her, not for a while.


Outside May’s door, small children march to school, tramp, tramp, tramp. She marks the splash of discovered puddles, the airy giggles, the squeal of drenched ankles. She knows every sound of her snug kitchen, in the enforced silence.  Conversation can be found, in the slowness of the post-office or the bustle of the fish-mongers. No-one’s crossed her threshold though, not for a while.

The wide pale oak table squeaks as she scrubs it, stacking up the splattered utensils from making a cake for her new neighbour. On your birthday you should bake a cake, May always has done before, when there were people to gorge themselves. She returns the apple cider vinegar, the currants, the caster sugar to their places, slowly closing the whining cupboard. The ancient Aga grumbles as it settles down from working unexpectedly. She often eats her meals straight from the tin now.

The loudest noise is the silence of the black plastic telephone, layering over the familiar ones.  Her stomach gurgles, she should eat, but no-one would notice if she didn’t.  The hum of the kettle echoes. The flutter of the cuckoo clock chimes in, an artificial chord to cross off another hour. It almost drowns out the whistle of the postman, his fluting “Morning, May”, the slap of paper on her rubber doormat. 

She bends to retrieve it, an ivory envelope covered in daisies, and the swallows in her neighbours’ eaves cheep as if to announce it. It’s wedged between the mat and the skirting-board, she opens the door to rescue it. The new girl is driving off in a tiny car, May waves on an impulse, unsure she’ll be seen. The girl smiles, waves back forcefully. May props the half-flattened, half-streaked birthday card from her daughter on the cluttered pine dresser, pops some granary bread in the toaster, rattles all the jars as she looks for the good marmalade.  


The whistle of the kettle startles Craig today, although it’s part of his routine. Coffee at 9.15am, one thickly buttered crumpet, take the round pill. Something isn’t right, he’s missed the footsteps of the postman walking past his door. He takes low, slow breaths, hands pressed under his diaphragm, centring himself in time to the rattle of the fridge, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm. Nothing can hurt him here, he’s safe. 

He should eat, his stomach gurgles in agreement, but there’s no need just yet.  Sometimes it’s good to test his limits. He’ll wash up as he goes, an old way of pleasing people although he knows he doesn’t have to do that now. 9.20am, he could take the butter out of the fridge anyway. He stares out of the rain-streaked window at the carefully pruned, butter-coloured Noisette roses instead. 

Something flutters at his front door, there’s a shadow blocking the left-side of the window. Craig knows it’s the postman, but he opens the door a sliver, to be sure. A pony-tailed woman shivers on his door, holding up a box full of tea-towels. She mumbles something, squeaking like a flute, Jayantinewneighbour, help me please? She stumbles over the threshold, 9.21 am, the box chirps at him. He leads the way to the kitchen. The kettle will need boiling again.

She drinks his syrupy coffee, he talks about nestlings and fledglings, and how the mother will come back. The fledgling swallow pipes in, now and again, a note of enthusiasm in the quiet room. 9.38am, Craig carries a ladder over to her cottage, holds it while Jayanti edges the box into a beech tree next to where the swallows have retuned again to nest. She thanks him brightly, offers to make the coffee next time, says she has to buy some more cups and a new tea-towel. He looks at the cottage across the road as he walks back, where his best friend from school’s mother lives. He could go and say hello, 9.45am, check if she needs anything. It’s been a while.

About the Author

Anita Goveas is British-Asian, London-based, and fueled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently in Little Fiction and Gone Lawn. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, an editor at Mythic Picnic’s Twitter zine, and tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer Her debut flash collection, ‘Families and other natural disasters’, is available from Reflex Press, and links to her stories are at https://coffeeandpaneer.wordpress.com 

Emily Cooke – ‘I’d like the lightness’

of grasshoppers,
of soda water with lemon,
or tumbleweed,
or cooking magazines, the ones
I leaf through to take in
brightly lit pictures
of things I will never make

I’d like the lightness 
of the sort of digital clock
you get free in the Readers Digest,
that         flickers with regret after
barely     weeks in-situ
but carries on ticking 

I’d like the lightness
of you as you watch             and immediately forget 
the news,
it’s gone 
and it’s just time to take the pink pill
and then the green one
according to the note
on the microwave

About the Author

Emily Cooke is a Boltonian poet who has spent most of the last year in bed. Luckily this left plenty of time for writing and she has just started to send her work out into the wider world. Find her on instagram @emily_c_cooke

Last Dance by Elodie Barnes

If he were to paint this story, he’d use the room as a frame: sturdy whitewashed wood, like driftwood, washed up by the tide and bleached by the wind, grooves and grains carrying a million years of salt and water. His canvas would be the light, shining burnt umber in the late afternoon. The window and the view beyond – blue skies, scrubby cliffs, the dancing yellow of the mimosa trees – would not be visible. He still believes that some things are best left to the imagination. 

If he were to paint this story, he would project the outline of a man and an easel onto the light, and gradually fill them in until they became dull and opaque against the shimmering background. The man would wear a paint-splashed shirt, an apron, a beret, the full cliché. In his hand would be a palette of muted colours, colours like the landscape on a cloudy day. The easel in front of him would hold a canvas, and on the canvas the shape of a woman would be recognisable but not yet formed. A half-being, caught forever at the moment of becoming. Terracotta and ochre would colour her dress in a swirl of silk and laughter as she dances, alone, in a driftwood room against burnished light. 

If he were to paint this story, he would add a stack of paintings into the scene: on the floor, propped up against the wall. If the viewer could look through them – carefully, one by one, so as not to upset the stack – they would find them all the same. A woman, alone, dancing in a driftwood room in burnished light, her terracotta dress flaring in the sunshine. 

But he won’t paint this story, not again. He’s found that there are some things that colour and shape and brush technique can’t capture. The sound of the laughter that he refuses to forget. The music that only she could hear, and the distant waves and gull cries that accompanied it. The sweet scent of the mimosa and the sickly fragrance of morphine; it was supposed to be odourless but he could smell it, tangy and pervasive. The soft beat of her heels on the floor. After all, she’d said, what else is there to do before dying other than dance? Dance with me. 

On the wall, both in this driftwood room and in the painting – for there is no difference between them – a clock ticks, time trapped behind the glass face, waiting to be set free. 

About the Author

Elodie Barnes is a writer and editor. Her work has been recently published / is forthcoming in Gone Lawn, Wild Roof Journal, and Past Ten, and she is Books & Creative Writing Editor at Lucy Writers Platform. When not travelling, she lives on the edge of a wood in northern England and complains incessantly about the weather. 

tropical house by Martin Potter

tepid lapping a concrete lip
the koi concealed until they rise
ripple the water’s viscous skin

where you could sit on the smooth ledge
or a piously provided bench
back from the basin’s retaining wall

lily pad leather patches the pool
while heavy foliage arched above
screens off the structure of glass sky

you first learned a banana leaf
caught in the humid comfort heat
the minah birds’ voices drift

across from nextdoor climate zone
it’s an iron-girded universe

About the Author

Martin Potter (https://martinpotterpoet.home.blog) is a British-Colombian poet and academic, based in Manchester, and his poems have appeared in AcumenThe French Literary ReviewEborakonScintillaInk Sweat & TearsThe Poetry Village, andother journals. His pamphlet In the Particular was published by Eyewear in December, 2017.