Salt Lake

Very pleased to have been long listed in the winter Reflex flash fiction competition. You can read my story Salt Lake here. The story will be included in an anthology of long listed submissions later in the year.


Bitten by the rainy city

Dancing in the dark she feels
the strings of her heart

          We were animals/seduced by urban nitrate

He catches his reflection in the puddles on Oxford Road. Easier to look down. He used to daydream. Used to look back too. Back to years when Da took a leave from absence and they learnt to love those pigeons. Learnt so much that just like Da he flew South. To find himself.

          Desperately seeking further education/ red brick
          factory skylines/ home comforts and a phone line
          to mother/ three hundred long miles

Couldn’t keep the McJob. Couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Couldn’t even keep a squat in Hulme. Got scooped up by the local dogcatchers. Groomed. Rehomed. Dignity blown away in a storm of powder nights. Kick a man while he’s down, why don’t you. He rubs the recent bruising, strategic and under his ribs. He’s been a bad boy.

alive with the strobes on the ceiling

          only really rising as dusk falls/ her halogen
          shines on in our flawless skin/ hypnotized

For the punters only. He’s been told a punch of times. But what do they expect. Standing on the edge, of pavements, the hustle, from late till the end of the night. He’s not a bloody automaton. Got to rub something on the gums. Keep him able to sell anything gift wrapped in a Rizla. Have some fun kids. Look where it got me.

          Called to the boom and the jungle/ shoe gazing
          the jumping off point/ unpackaged
          this is living/ forget about/ everything

alive with this beautiful feeling

Wondering if the manager of The Firkin will let him sink a dram. An exchange for stacking empties. A little pot wash too. His lilt and the tall tales remind the old man of Derry, his own. He needs a little fire on this Baltic night of frosty eyes and pork pie legs. He thinks about the lasses on the game huddled under the bridges on Whitworth Street West. Wannabe mothers the lot of them, always a kind word for the lost boys like him.

the first to unbottle this genie

          A warehouse flirtation/ rough round the edges
          until dawn/ we become book-ends
          wear badges/with honour

He steers well clear. Always want something, women. Nearly at the nightclub door, he scours the line for the half-cut in need of a pick-yer-up or a bright light. Pockets notes, palms punters off with wraps of dash and be happy. Keeps a couple. Even the undead need to kick-back with a pipe and pretend they’re living.

violets and auroral green
these northern dreams

Daisy. Beagle Ballerina

An orchestra of whiskers frisson in anticipation as dusk washes across the hushed meadow. A distant church tower intones the hour; the ballet begins. The cohort whisper through embroidered curtains and take their place centre stage. With a hop, a skip and a clutch of cowslip they entertain until a glimmer of snowy tail and a twitch of white stocking thigh are all that remain in the dark. In deep sleep a little down the lane, the memory of rabbit haunts the charcoal nose of a beagle and with a mere wriggle of toes she too is dancing with them.


Sent as an email to a Beagle living on the other side of the world. A bedtime tail.


Generation. Gap

Her bile writhes between false teeth and tongue, a feral response to the union of her son to a shop floor harlot who caught him in her web of false lashes and uncouth urban charms. Uncontained disgust lurks like penny lemon drops, acidic in the sheen on her bone china top lip as her fingers whiten their grip on the starched antimacassar that Nana insisted adorn every chair. A well-mannered woman who spared her words and not the cane. Edith practices her rictus grin as she waits for the centre of her world to usher the bride to be in.


I really hate taking a bath. The walls groan as they strain to break free from their confinement and plunge their thirsty tubers into my soapy water. I sooth my damp palms across parched flaky grain, uncomfortably mesmerised. It’s almost watering time.

We were among the first to move into Hambledown. An entire estate crafted from genetically engineered timber. The unique output of a ground-breaking programme that grafted stem cells to saplings in an attempt to reduce the cost of wood production by tripling the rate of tree growth. When scientists observed infinitesimal signs of sentience, the whole forest was swiftly razed to the ground. What better way to hide that costly calamity than in plain sight?

It was only over time that the residents here began to realise our mistake. But by then we were tethered. We assume that the research team were unaware that their modifications had enhanced the telekinetic ability of the trees. Or that incredible regenerative powers meant that even varnished timber could re-root successfully.

I spend my days tending to the many needs of my home. My nights are filled with autumn leaves scudding on the breeze, dank velveteen soil and the caress of worms as they wrap seductively around my limbs. Occasionally I squint through the grooves on my decking to watch the roots beneath playfully squirming and stretching. In a few years the whole suburb will be ready to move on.