Issue 72 – Scoundrels

Bold selfish villain…
Aggregate Humanity,
a scoundrel defined.

By David Edwards

honour among thieves?
ask them to watch your treasure…
too soon it is gone!

By DJ Tyrer

merry Robin Hood
relieves you of your burden
bag of heavy gold

By Aeronwy Dafies


Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the Royal Forests
By Cardinal Cox

Foris – outside, as in laws of the land
And I am placed, by royal will, in charge
Mine then is the appointed heavy hand
That directs the lowly yeomen at large

Yet I am defied by rogues and outlaws
Who lurk and ambush amongst Sherwood’s trees
Claiming they busy steal for they are so poor
If I catch them they will no more be free

Nottingham Castle and a short rough rope
Awaits the whole unkempt and motley gang
There will be no mercy for them, no hope
Remorse? Regrets? I will feel no such pang

The Hood? No one will remember his name
As liege to the crown I deserve the fame


Nighttime Excursion
By K. A. Williams

Candles alight the hallways
Shadows dance on walls
Grand rooms await my presence

Flasks lay beside sleeping guards
Secret gifts from me
Witch’s potion worth the price

Glittering jewelry calls
Swag wrapped up in sheet
I slip out the castle doors

By DJ Tyrer

Magical horns are worth a fortune, which is why we’d braved the hordes of rabid goblins and savage elves, plus customs agents, to bring back our quarry, to the city, alive.

Here,” I said, unveiling the beast.

That’s not a unicorn,” said the Dwarven ambassador, “that’s a rhino. Kill them!”



Auto Graveyard
By Mark Hudson

I’m thinking about parking in the dark,
I’m thinking about cars from loan sharks.
I’m thinking about the used car salesman,
he is telling a lot of tall tales, man.
I’m thinking about the upholsteries,
I’m thinking about the ghost of these.
I’m seeing an auto graveyard,
I’m trying to be a brave heart.
The used car salesman is glowing,
the car he’s selling is towing.
Smoke is coming out of his ears,
his red face does not have cheer.
he says, “buy this car, now!”
but his offer I will not allow.
Headed for the streets, I walk,
I’m tired of the car salesman’s talk.
He dances over the river Styx,
and I’m not falling for his tricks.


Dashing smuggler ally/friend
Hides you in cargo
Sells you to some aliens

By DS Davidson

The Obnoxious Adventures of Skepp “Too Easy” Grafflin
By Harris Coverley

I stole a rocket
Just yesterday
From orphans who
Were in my way

I split Phobos
As I ran
Meteor storm?
Don’t give a damn!

Smashed a dam on Mars
And then I fled
Flooded canals
Across the Great Red

Robbed a Martian bank
With a laser gat —
I iced three clerks
And stomped a cat

Disguised myself
As a man of creed
Got on a shuttle
To Ganymede

A frozen swamp
I had to leave —
Hijacked a starship
To the Pleiades

Dumped the cargo
On far Pluto
The crew on Styx
Their oxygen low

The cosmic ballet —
A life of crime
Up freedom alley

Too Easy” yeah
That’s the name —
And if you were me
You’d live the same!

Try to catch me
If you bastards can
System to system —
High on the lam!


on ev’ry planet
same old story reoccurs
human treachery

By DJ Tyrer

Issue 69 – Rifts

We travel in Time and Space.
Find rift between them…
journey anywhere and when.

By David Edwards

Portal between worlds
Momentary opening
Fissure then closes
What went through – both ways – now trapped
Unable to return home

By Aeronwy Dafies


By K. A. Williams

One second here,
next second there.
A brand new place,
out of thin air.

It all looks strange,
the grass is blue.
How I got here,
I have no clue.

I can’t go back,
the rift has shut.
And then I see
a light grey mutt.

It walks my way
and talks to me.
“You don’t fit in,
who might you be?”

I say, “I’m Chris.
How do you do?”
“Oh, I’m all right.
My name is Drew.”

He changes form,
becomes a man.
“Well, that’s a first,”
I say deadpan.

“Can I return
to where I was?”
He shook his head.
“I know this ’cause,

I’ve tried before,
I can’t get back.
I sure do miss
my own wolf pack.”

“You can shape-shift.”
He nods. “That’s true.
Can you believe
I’m from Earth too.”

“We can escape,
I see a light.”
I say to him,
“I know I’m right.”

We step back through,
to where we were.
The wolf runs fast
till he’s a blur.


Gate between two worlds
Strange things pass through unnoticed
Carry home a snack

By DJ Tyrer

DJ Tyrer’s website is at


Portal to Purgatorio
By Mark Hudson

Let’s go to Purgatorio
through a narrow door.
We’ll eat an Oreo,
we’ll cook a S’more.

We’ll commit a vice,
and call it a virtue.
We’ll do it twice,
and claim it’s new.

We’ll read an allegory,
guided by Virgil.
Beatrice tells the story,
and Winston Churchill.

We’ll go to the Island Shore,
and we’ll see Gilligan.
The skipper is on tour,
he looks like a gorilla man.

Down to the Casella,
to the north of Tiber.
Who sings about Stella?
Maybe Justin Bieber.

The troubadour of Sordello,
is from Mantua.
He is in bordellos,
with vices gargantuan.

Free will is discussed,
with Marco Lombardo.
Lucille Ball fussed
over Ricky Ricardo.

We go through the terraces
of the seven deadly sins.
Nothing embarrasses,
but you leave with a grin.

After going through the portals,
you arrive Monday morning.
Back to work as a mortal,
and nothing is more boring.

The paradise was lost,
but you won’t find it here.
The closest you’ll get,
is a case full of beer.


By DJ Tyrer

Not your standard, stable
Back-of-a-wardrobe portal
Linking two worlds like a bridge
But, a sudden, violent rip
Tearing a rift from one to another
Two times, places, dimensions, states
Bemused travellers step through
Lost in a world not their own
Monsters surge through, hungry
To cause chaos, kill
Magic leaks, or strange matter penetrates
Only for it to close
As if it never were

By Harris Coverley

breaking into hell
tentacles burning in light
blue-blue-green-green Earth —
not at all suitable for
ninth dimensional beings

Issue 67 – Fantastic Weather

By Harris Coverley

skies bronze—thick and dense
an arenose alloy world
foundries in the clouds
drizzling down sharp flakes of death
upon luckless astronauts


There are ghosts within that wind:
shouts through distant trees;
the siren screams of phone wires;
object disrespect –
children’s toys and neighbour’s tools;
upon our own porch
unoccupied chair rocking…
window pane whispers…
the unhinged door opening,
then closing behind,
some guests you’ve not invited.

By David Edwards

Snow Queen
By Aeronwy Dafies

Frozen beauty, heart
Mistress of the icy north
Hidden by snowfall
Wishes only to be loved
Ever thwarted by herself


Fairy Tale
By Ken Poyner

The clouds are painted, but the moon polished. As the clouds keep drifting away, the painters tape off another section of sky. They consult on the particular hue for this tranche – are they depicting a seamless day of invincible uniformity, or portraying change, the beginning of darker or lighter or more entertaining days? There is no question with the moon. The moon circles unchanging. The phases come of big brother Earth stealing the moon’s sun. Polish it once, occasionally inspect for touch-up. The girl bonds to this work with energy to waste. It profits me: I have slept with her.



The Truck in Oz
By K. A. Williams

The whirlwind lifted up me and my truck and sailed us through the air. I ain’t never been so sick to my stomach.

When the wind finally set us down, the truck bumped over something and took off. I heard yelling and looked in the rear view mirror at a bunch of midgets shaking their little fists. Something white and sparkly glittered on the road behind me. That must have been what I’d landed on. Wonder what it was?

Nothing seemed familiar. I didn’t think I was in my hometown anymore. Was that a scarecrow hanging up in a cornfield? Yep it was. And it turned its head to look at me as I passed. Creepy.

If I hadn’t been staring at the tin man standing in front of a tree with his axe frozen in mid-air, I might not have hit the lion that ran out into the road in front of me. But honestly I couldn’t stop the truck in time.

SMACK! I got out and checked the beast. Dead. I examined the road I’d been on. First time I ever seen one made out of yellow bricks. I drug the lion into the woods and covered it with leaves and some twigs.

I was fixing to get back in my truck when I noticed something in the sky. Was that a witch coming toward me on a broom? Yep. Ugliest woman I done ever seen. Just my type. I took off my cowboy hat when she landed in front of me. “Howdy ma’am.”

“Are you the one that killed my sister?”

Uh-oh. “Did she have on a sparkly white dress?”


“Why ma’am it were an accident. My truck and me got picked up by a whirlwind that just sat us down where it pleased. I’m awful sorry.”

She smiled. It were a gruesome sight, my heart pounded in excitement.

“Don’t be sorry, I never liked her.”

“Is that right? How about giving me a reward then?”

“What kind of reward?”

“A kiss. That’s all I want. For now, anyway.” I winked.

She smiled again. “Well, what are you waiting on?”

I moved closer and kissed her. What we done after that ain’t nobody else’s business.

The End


Weather Report
By Ken Poyner

The clouds kept coming down, kissing our ground. At first, the clouds simply touched down. Then they began to compact. They grew dense and it became hard to move about in them. It was as though trudging through water thigh deep, with the mist of clouds above. Finally, the tops of the clouds passed below eye level, and there was the sun. The clouds, still compacting, settled so low and hard that we could lift our feet out and walk on a macadam made of cloud alone. Nothing blocked the sun and we thought fearfully of the coming rainy season.



Tornado From Oz
By DJ Tyrer

In reverse scenario
Twister spirals over the rainbow
Depositing a bemused witch
And a dozen irritating Munchkins
Atop a bland Kansas-dwelling farmer
Resulting in lawsuits, insurance claims
But – no quests, nor murder
Just a great deal of confusion
And, unending asylum claims


By Mark Hudson

The tornado was haemorrhaging
Over dim skies and towns
Thinning out the herd

Cutting through, reaping
Damaged nation, nothing new
Soon it will be old news

Houses demolished
An entire town laid flat
People sucked out of mobile homes

A jail in Kentucky affected
But nobody was able to escape
Not fair to the prisoners

Blonde haired blue eyed girl
Found abandoned in a field
Returned to her parents

Why do we question mortality?
We laugh at death
Till it’s our turn to go…

Issue 65 – Heroic Quests

The most Heroic
Quest of them all… seeking the
Next World from this One.

By David Edwards

Hero and Villain
By Harris Coverley

it is time to shout—
it is time to raise a sword—
it is time to march
into the bleaker regions
and fell that darkened tower

I can hear your shout
and I can hear your sword clink—
how silly it is
to think you can vanquish me!
this serpent’s tail awaits you


In the slipstream of twilight
a sailor adrift the silent seas
his eyes are set on muted lands
the imperceptible realm
behind the water’s skies.

By Goran Lowie


Healing Flower
By K. A. Williams

“Here’s your brother’s sword.
Be careful around the elves,
they do not like us.”

I followed the path,
and met an elf warrior.
“A puny human.”

I said, “Let me pass!
I seek the healing flower,
my brother is sick.”

“I care not for him,
do not trespass on our land.”
I unsheathed my sword.

“You do show spirit.
Perhaps I have misjudged you,
proceed with your quest.”

I sheathed my sword then.
“I don’t suppose you could help?”
The elf pointed left.

“Thank you very much.”
There were a lot of flowers;
a white bunch stood out.

I knelt and grabbed one.
The elf nodded as I passed.
I hurried back home.

“I’ve got the flower!”
Mother prepared the potion;
my brother survived.

Discover K. A Williams on Facebook


Quest’s End
By DJ Tyrer

Holding in their hand
Salvation or destruction
Make the decision

Discover DJ Tyrer on Facebook

Issue 63 – Space Cruise

Space Cruise
By DS Davidson

Going where no man has gone before
In such luxurious accommodation
Discovering strange new worlds
Filled with tourist traps
Roaming the galaxy
Without danger or daring
Bringing home crates
Of tacky souvenirs

Ex-X Prize Experience
By Cardinal Cox

There’s only ten thousand things to go wrong
Tons of high explosive fuel underneath
Earth far below will cue the caged bird’s song
Grip your jaw to stop chattering teeth

Then you’re too busy to think about fear
On flame you climb into vacuum of space
If you go up to orbit twice a year
Still think about wreckage scattered round place

That mere moments ago you were launched from
Once you’re up and passengers get their thrills
You have to turn around this flying bomb
Re-entry scrabbling to add to its kills

At any time you’re one inch from dying
Yet fools are queuing up to go flying


Squawking Goose
By K. A. Williams

Did you hear the rumours that there are space pirates in this sector?” the woman with the sparkling diamond necklace asked me in the dining room while I was filling my plate with choice items from the buffet table.

I’m sure the captain and crew know how to deal with space pirates. This isn’t their first cruise; they travel this area all the time,” I said just before the ship rocked and we heard a loud boom.

This is the captain,” said a voice on the intercom. “Everything is fine. But it might be better if everyone would go to their rooms and stay for just a little while.”

Belay that order, me fine passengers,” said a different voice. “This is Captain Tanbeard. I humbly request ye presence in the dining room for a wee chat.”

The woman with the diamond necklace took it off quickly and hid it under the coffee pot. Other people started hiding their jewelry out of sight as well.

Captain Tanbeard swept into the room and bowed to the ladies. He was dressed like pirates of olden days, sword and all. I laughed until he pointed his sword at me. “If you don’t find me some treasure lad, I’ll be taking ye with me as a cabin boy, even if you’re a bit too old.”

I didn’t need any more persuasion and quickly pointed out all the jewelry that the women and men had hidden.

Much obliged,” he said to me while the other passengers glared.


A week later the Squawking Goose docked at the space station. I was glad to get off the ship. Everyone blamed me for the loss of their jewelry, but I knew the items were insured because I’d overheard some of them talking about it.

The bar closest to the docks had rough customers that stared at me when I entered but only for a second before they turned back to their conversations.

A hand clapped my shoulder and I turned to see Captain Tanbeard, sans pirate disguise. He handed me my share and a ticket. “See you in two weeks, son.”

The End


The Neptune Adventure
By DJ Tyrer

Spaceship in Neptunian orbit
Capsized by solar storm
Flipped upside down
Thanks to artificial gravity
Nobody notices nor cares

Originally published on Grievous Angel


Planetary Unsanitary
By Mark Hudson

From Dawn till Dusk,
climb aboard with Elon Musk.
Play a little backgammon,
with James Cameron.

Come aboard with William Shatner,
in search of the ghost of Gilda Radner.
We might even find John Belushi,
sitting on Mars eating some Sushi.

It’s your intergalactic celebrity cruise,
All you have to do is pay your dues.
Do it before you get too old,
outer space never been so cold!

Are you enjoying shuffleboard?
Oh wait, passenger overboard!
Your wife just slipped away into space!
We got tired of seeing her face!

We are starting to go into orbit,
reading books by Scott Corbett.
We get attacked by asteroids,
the captain has bad hemorrhoids.

We might not make it back to earth,
we won’t be pulling into our berth.
Hope you can hold on for a minute,
you are going into space infinite!

Issue 62 – So long and thanks for all the turkeys!

Patuxet Thanksgiving
By Cardinal Cox

Sickness and slavery was all they brought
These strange pale men from the depths of the sea
When we saw their wives and children we thought
They might be peaceable, was not to be

They took the fertile fields of those who’d died
They would argue and kill each other too
And they would gift death to any who tried
To help by showing medicines that grew

In forests or field. The spirits have left
And the newcomers are empty of soul
Land itself becomes hollow and bereft
As though beneath us is a gaping hole

Annual Thanksgiving of ash and bone
Our homes are remembered by ghosts alone

Thanksgiving Roads
By Mark Hudson

This town,
is nothing but a noun.
This suburb,
is nothing but a verb.

Gonna go to Grandma’s house,
for Thanksgiving.
Gonna celebrate the fact,
that she’s still living.

Over the river and through the woods,
to grandma’s house we go.
We’ll have some turkey that’s good,
we’re going to eat some doe.

With the uncle who hunts the meal,
Thanksgiving a gigantic feast.
Thanksgiving roads by the wheel,
Chevrolet taking us East.

Watching leaves fall from the trees,
autumn closing behind its curtain.
A chill is felt in the breeze,
winter is coming, its coming for certain.

We gather in Grandma’s barn,
and eat ourselves some pecan pie.
Grandpa tells a corny old yarn,
with a crazy gleam in his eye.

Dinner is served-all have arrived,
the cousins, the kids-the aunts.
Uncle Bob and Adam who is five,
and the unfamiliar guest Jeff Krantz.

As we dig into the turkey and stuffing,
don’t tell me you’re grateful for nothing!
Because if you say that, you must be bluffing!


Thanksgiving Re-enactment
By Kimberly Y. Choi

“I think I’ve got this.” My brother squinted one eye at the wild turkey and twitched the rifle back and forth. “Or, I don’t know.”

“Want me to do it?” My own hands were sweating, though, without even holding a gun.

“No, no.”

As he was kneeling on the ground, focused on his aim, his pose looked ripe for a picture. I snapped a photo and flicked it into our historical re-enactment club’s folder. It was true to what they would’ve done in the 2020s; taking overabundances of photos and posting them on the early internet was a major part of youth culture.

While bracing myself to be startled by the sound of gunfire, I examined the photo. My brother’s costume, as did mine, looked so much like the people in the stereotypical old pictures, just with the trivial inaccuracy that the sleeves and pants were short. Back then, they would’ve had to dress warmly in November. We’d done our best.

Yet as perfect as he looked, he still wouldn’t shoot. How long did we have to stay here?

“He– he’s walking away.” There was resignation in his whisper.

“Well, what do you think? Follow him.”

“He’s going into the bushes though.”

I sighed. “Here, give me that.”

He handed me the gun. I stood, but now that the power was in my hands, this physical weight, I didn’t know what to do.

“Holding this thing makes me feel pretty ‘cool,’” I joked, uneasy.

“I don’t think that’s exactly how ‘cool’ was used.” He chuckled. “Or maybe it is. I’m not sure.”

I crept a couple steps forwards. I was supposed to walk as soundlessly as possible, I knew. But I half-wished the bird would hear me and escape. The woods felt so unconcerned in that moment, the sound of wind and insects proceeding without hesitation.

I said, “It’s weird how they did this almost every day, isn’t it? Eat animals.”

“Yes, yes, it is.” My brother watched the turkey peck at the ground so springily as though nothing was wrong. “I’m not even morally against it, you know. It’s just weird.”


I lowered the rifle.

“Bill’s going to be disappointed,” I said. “He told me he spent hours going through old recipes looking for the best one.”

As we headed towards the gates of our towering city without the meat, the turkey raised his intricately striped wings and fled from us. We stayed silent. All this to honor a past method of honoring the past! And all to impress upon us just how much we were people of our own time.


Turkey’s Hideout
By K. A. Williams

It was cold this morning; I fluffed up my feathers. I warmed my feet by scratching around for breakfast and dug up some tasty grubs and worms which I gobbled whole.

“Your ma will be so proud of you when you shoot a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.”

The voice scared me and I squeezed myself into a thicket before the man who spoke could see me.

“She’d probably rather cook one from the grocery store that didn’t have to be prepared. Last year Ma spent an hour just getting all the feathers out,” said a second voice.

Then the speakers came into view – a tall male human and a short male human. Both of them carried shotguns. I stayed still and hoped I was well hidden.

They went past me on down the path but I could still hear them talking. “I knew you’d like the rifle I bought you for your birthday. You did great on the shooting range, you won’t have any trouble getting us a turkey and some other game as well.”

Their voices faded down the path. I hadn’t finished my breakfast and was still hungry. I’d grown big and had barely fit myself into the space I was now in. There was no room for me to forage. If I moved, the thicket would rustle and I would be discovered.

I hoped my family had been able to conceal themselves as well. My dear mother had disappeared at this time last year, now I knew what had happened to her. I could hear gunfire in the distance while I stayed hidden.


“Your ma will be disappointed that we didn’t bag any game this time. I’m sorry you missed all those wild ducks that flew by. I was sure you’d get one of them, there were so many. I wouldn’t have missed that bobwhite if you hadn’t stumbled and bumped against me. It’s lunchtime, let’s give up and go home. I can’t believe we didn’t see a single turkey this morning.” The tall human headed down the path, away from me.

The short human stopped in front of the thicket where I was hiding. “Me too, Pa, I wonder where they’ve all gone.” He looked directly at me and waved, before following the other male.

The End

By DJ Tyrer

The alien invasion
Came as quite a surprise
Not the form folk expected
Raided the turkey farms
The woods, anywhere with the birds
Tractor beamed them aboard saucers
Too swift for retaliation
Flew away and radioed back
A farewell, saying
So long and thanks for all the turkeys!

Issue 49 – Prophecy

Prophetic the voice
of thunder… to attention
the umbrella snaps

By David Edwards

Seeking the future
Unprepared for what will be
Ignorance is bliss

By Aeronwy Dafies

Do They Really Want To Know
By K. A. Williams

In just a few days
I would meet a handsome man
We would fall in love
But soon he would cheat on me
In a rage, I would stab him


Sibyl’s Tongue
Harris Coverley

Searching through the dark veil to see
The smoke of empires burning bright
Reading stars in the purple night
The doom awaits—a prophecy!

The crumbling of the cities be
The deadening of earth and air
Eternal is Mankind’s nadir
Our doom awaits in prophecy

Death is King—or so he decrees
Those stars once read are blinking out
The signs were true—there is no doubt
This doom is sure in prophecy

Thirsty Earth
By Clive Donovan

One dismal day I will sink into
This thirsty earth which will dismantle
These accumulated atoms
Of my body. Or

A family of flames will gather,
Breeding on my fat;
Abandoning my cindered relics
To the deeping dust. Or

A sucking wave will take me off
Some tongue of a beach
Where no kind friends are
And as each, in struggle, takes the other,
Each, wave and I, shall die.

This dire planet, this speck of a place,
Richly buried with seed;
This apple, serenely floating in space;
God’s little mote and cruel ball of life
We call Earth and think there must surely be more of
But whose secret shocking name is Planet Love;
A world cast-away, just one devised and lonely made…

This thirsty Earth will one day drink of Time itself
And all the clocks, and tentative yearnings
And longings of all those who wish so dear
To be melted to coalescence
Of earthly flesh, with bellies en-fired
And in strong holy waters steeped, refreshed,

Shall cease, unwind and will end and stop.

By David Edwards

Prophesy only
certain things: sunrise
and sunset, and shadows that
rise near objects in their wake,
and the horizon’s
sure infinity.


Some Quatrains of Nostradmus
(with commentary)

Translated by Cardinal Cox

Baa, baa, black sheep
Hast thou any wool
Aye sir, aye sir
Three bags full

This clearly represents William Gladstone and the Home Rule Bill (commentary 1886).
This clearly represents Bill Gladhome and Stone Rule Willy (commentary 1968)

Jack and Jill ascend the hill
To fetch a flask of water
Jack slipped down and bust his crown
And Jill came rolling after

This clearly represents recent American politics from the assassination of the John F. Kennedy to the Watergate scandal (commentary 1972)

Little Bo Peep misplaced her sheep
And can’t work out where to find them
Leave them alone and they’ll walk home
Dragging their tails behind them

This clearly relates to the Crimean War (commentary 1873)
This clearly relates to the Vietnam War (commentary 1973)

Incy-Wincy spider
Crawled up the water spout
Then came the rain
And washed poor Incy out

This clearly relates to Napoleon (commentary 1825)
This clearly relates to Putin (commentary 2025)

Hanging from the lamp-posts
All the Government men
Dancing in the ruins
We will start again

This clearly relates to the fall of Prime Minister Johnson (commentary 2050)
This clearly relates to the fall of President Xandu (commentary 2150)


As Though The Seer
By Clive Donovan

It was as though my eyeballs slipped
And swivelled right around to sights
Where normal eyes were out of bounds:

My left eyelid floated up serene
To a vision of women, seated;
Engaged in creaming up stuffs in oil
And possets in bowls, murmuring to cats,
Sewing bits of ribbons to hats,
Wondering where their silver spoons
Had drifted off to and the crew
Who used to toil and croon
And fix things for them
And cosset them.

My right eye groaned open
To a male display standing
About on the draughty threshold;
Some rough covenant or plan
Being hatched, eyes darting,
Looking for some source or sense of discipline
Or inspiration to catch.

My third eye had meanwhile
Crept its way to my occipital zone
Where it stole open and witnessed
Both sexes recklessly embracing
In the ointment of their
Amorous intent;
The wax of their embalmment melting;
Hospitalization over;
Segregated armies meeting;
Not quite yet in peace – but meeting.

By now I’d seen enough, they said.
The hood came back down and to the spring
Below my tree they had me led,


Many prophecies
Still life goes on unchanging.
But then the world ends
Sudden meteor impact.
Well, someone had to be right!

By DJ Tyrer

Issue 40 – Battle at the North Pole

Beneath Northern Lights
Elves turn toys into weapons
Repel Goblin raid
Summon polar bears, snowmen
Await goblins’ next assault

By DJ Tyrer


Santa Flips Out
By DS Davidson

Should’ve noted warning signs, so many
Drinking whiskey and vodka instead of sherry
Downing bottle after bottle, hoarding ammo
Surfing the net for extremist sites
Building bombs, bullets, guns instead of toys
Waiting for his moment, taking Elves by surprise
Launching his attack, breaking free from Yuletide slavery


Santa vs. Satan
By Mark Hudson

Who is that devil who is stealing all the souls?
Well, now he is loose at the North Pole.
Sacrificing elves in the middle of the snow,
he should have just stayed in his home down below!

Like the Grinch, Satan is here, alive and living,
he wants to disrupt this season of giving!
Will Santa be able to deliver toys on time?
Satan is at war. it’s a terrible crime!

The elves workshop infected with Acapulco gold,
suddenly the elves are working so slow!
The devil has got the elves hooked on weed,
they can’t meet the deadline for children in need!

Santa raided the factory and did a drug search,
and made all the elves go back to church!
Now they are cranking out the toys fast,
and the devil’s attacks will surely not last!

The devil, the proud spirit, can’t bear any mocking,
so the elves produce special gifts for stocking.
The devil tries to sabotage the sleigh,
but Santa tells Satan, “Devil, go away!”

The devil is furious, and out come his horns,
But Santa says, “Once, a child was born!
I’m making a list, checking it twice,
get out of here, you anti-Christ!”

So for one more year, Christmas was rescued,
and Santa was able to win in the feud.
Santa says, “Merry Christmas! Ho, ho, ho!
Don’t sell your soul to the devil below!”


Hoist That Rag!
By Harris Coverley

Our orders came through—we were to take the Ridge!

We had finally managed to push the Russians out of Franz Josef Land, Svalbard fully secured, and we had forced a contingent of Americans to surrender at Ellesmere (the fools had had no idea what they were doing). To push on to the Geographic North Pole, with the Beaufort Plate ours and ours alone, would be both a strategic and symbolic victory—and that meant taking Amundsen’s Ridge.

The Russians of course controlled the Northern Sea route, running from their bases at Severnaya Zemlya along to the New Siberian Isles, and that would not be rectified for a long time yet, so a push northwards was the only way.

It was early spring, and the ice shelf was as thick as it was going to get—subterranean attacks by sub were unlikely, if not impossible. Besides: why would they potentially break up the sheet when they themselves were trying to keep it?

We made our trek, two thousand of us, on five great sledges built down in Dortmund, at fifty miles an hour, gliding between the ice dunes, avoiding drops and shallow plates.

Even in my thermal uniform the eternal winds were gnawing at me through the gaps in the hull. Overhead I could hear the helicopters trailing above us in attack formation, ready always for combat, as were we, our rifles, drenched in antifreeze, clenched in our stiff hands.

After a day’s continuous sledding we came to a sudden halt—the Russians were ahead of us, before the Ridge! They were hidden against an ice face, but we had detected their heat signature.

There was a pause—and then the helicopters launched their first volley!

They took out two tanks, but their infantry moved fast down the slope towards us. There was a wave of rockets and the blaze of flamethrowers, but our squad leader ordered us out onto the snow—he knew, as did his superiors, that we could beat them back and reach our target.

We poured out of the doors, ran to the bottom of the slope, and dropped, our rifles pointed up.

We waited for the order—it came: “FIRE AT WILL!”

I’m please to say I immediately dropped a flamethrowing Russian not thirty feet away—he fell into the flurry and his flame was forever thus extinguished.

Me and my comrades edged up the slope on elbows and bellies—crawl, FIRE, crawl, FIRE!

The Russian infantry parted, and we drew back to the sledges—one had been destroyed, two helicopters too, but we dragged what wounded we could back to our sledge, and we took off at top speed.

Yes, we had to leave some men behind—by God, they were heroes, are heroes still…but we needed to take the Ridge! It was vital!

Within mere minutes we could see it, and rode up the edge—it was to be ours!

But again, another sudden stop—the Russians were hiding before us once more! The cowardly pigs!

A volley of rockets hit our side, men blown onto the deck, limbs torn—my own ear was singed! (You can see that now still.) But it was the adrenalin that was really burning, and I felt nothing until hours after.

We filed out again, dropped, and fired!

The Russian formation on the Ridge was small and weak compared to the previous one—they were not meant to have engaged us in combat, only to have sat on the Ridge for emblematic reasons while the latter were to mop us up, which of course, they had not. As such, they proved no match for us!

They fell back, unable to counter our fire, their rockets spent, not a flamethrower among them…

By God, we got them!

They retreated down the Ridge, dropping like drunks, and were but dots in the distance as we raised our rifles in triumph—and counted our dead.

Of the two thousand we had begun as, just over half remained. With a burnt ear, and a bullet scraping my right upper arm, I had been one of the lucky ones.

Heroes, heroes I say, now and forever.

But we could not help but celebrate!

Hoist that rag!” an old boy cheerfully cried.

At the top of the Ridge the mast was set, the Bolshevik flag kicked into the chasm below.

The North Pole was ours, the Swastika flying high!

Ein Thule, ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!



Coup de’ Noel
By David Edwards

“Twas the last night before Christmas
when some two dozen Laplanders,
all traditional reindeer herders,
and now simultaneous observers
of unscheduled and curious
aurora borealis
with, wonder of wonders,
concurrent thunder,
stood in hushed awe.
At the exact same time,
early in his annual flight,
Santa’s sleigh disappeared from radar sight.
On next giftless Christmas morn
the joint Swedish-Norwegian-Finnish Air Force
retraced his well-known course.
Between the rivers Tana and Torne they found
scattered across a nearly 400 hectare snowfield:
thousands of broken presents on the ground;
parts of dismembered reindeer (thirteen legs, six
heads, seven torsos, countless antler fragments) all around;
shards of shattered sleigh; and,
face-down in a snowbank near the Torne,
lifeless hands still clutching the reins of his craft,
Father Christmas… Old Saint Nick… Kris Kringle…
the jolly Fat Man Himself… Santa Claus, his scalp fatally shorn.
As the world began to mourn
Interpol– so that criminal proceedings could initiate–
began to investigate, inspect, and interrogate.
The blast’s cause was quickly found:
a jack-in-the-box barometric bomb.
Then various newspapers received, via email,
a nefarious responsibility claim from
the Elf Liberation Front.
Among their strident, diminutive pleadings:
“Emancipation from forced labor… Right to emigration…
and an independent, temperate, homeland nation”.

Krampus Attack
By Aeronwy Dafies

Father Christmas’s dark alter ego
Emerges from his forest-dark lair
Stalks northward into ice and snow
Towards the sacred northern pole
Where his light-side sibling dwells
Amongst gifts and high-piled toys
Launches a vicious attack
Claws and fangs against jingling bells
Festive suit staining a deeper red
His cries summon Elves
A titanic battle erupts, scattering presents
Using tinsel ropes, they restrain Krampus
Halt the attack, apply first aid
Father Christmas is still alive
But, are the festivities saved?


Unwelcome Visitors
By K. A. Williams

“I don’t see any dwellings,” I said to my copilot, Tizwot.

He checked the scanner. “They’re underground.”

“Let’s land and find a way in.”


We melted the hidden door with our ray guns.

I climbed down the ladder first. “There’s probably another entrance but I’m too cold to look for it.”

We followed the light from our headlamps through a twisting tunnel that led to a heavy door. I opened it and we stepped inside a warm room.

There were tiny people on ladders, decorating a tall tree. We hadn’t been spotted yet. “They’re smaller than they looked in those broadcasts we saw. We should be able to conquer them easily,” I whispered to Tizwot.

The little people stopped working when a big man with a long white beard entered the room. He had on a red outfit and noticed us right away.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?” he asked.

Tizwot and I had learned this language earlier from their broadcasts.

“We’re invaders from the planet Muvwap. Submit to our rule immediately or prepare for war,” I said.

He laughed merrily and the tiny people joined in. This was annoying. Tizwot and I pointed our ray guns at the jolly man.

He said, “Elves, you know what to do.”

Before we could shoot anyone, the little people had whirled around us so quickly, their figures looked blurred. When they stopped moving, Tizwot and I were wrapped up tightly in colorful paper with bows all over us, and our weapons were on the floor.

The fat man laughed again and said, “My elves will escort you outside. If you ever come here again, I’ll sic my reindeer on you.”

“What’s a reindeer?” Tizwot asked me.

“I have no idea.”

We were carried out another entrance and all the way back to our ship. They set us down and cut us free.

After we left the planet, Tizwot said, “I’m telling everyone that Earth is a hostile place full of mighty warriors and should be left alone.”

“Me too.”

The End


North Polar Battle
By DJ Tyrer

Special Forces advance through the snow towards a red-and-white striped pole, determined to wrest control of the Arctic from Santa before the Big Guy can sign a treaty with Putin.

Suddenly, Elves open fire from concealed positions. Special Forces scatter, return fire, call in an airstrike. The battle has begun…

Blood, red on the snow
Amidst reindeer carcasses
Santa makes last stand


Issue 38 – Space Opera


Treasure Hunter
By K. A. Williams

Derelict spacecraft
Searching for treasure inside
Then I heard something


Space Opera
By DJ Tyrer

Galactic warfare
Missiles sent through hyperspace
Worlds become debris
Larger-than-life heroes
Victory in a moment


Propulsion Method
By Harris Coverley

nanotised spirits
star to star – faster than light
tachyon bullets


By DS Davidson

To boldly go
Seeking alien life
Learning all about them
Especially weaknesses…


Attacked By Pirates
By K. A. Williams

Out among the stars
Pirates attack my small ship
Not a gun runner
Transporting deadly toxins
Seven less space pirates now


Consider Fleabag
By DJ Tyrer

Alien fleet pauses
A long hush
In their glacial genocidal war
To review transmissions
Received from distant star system
Televisual records
Archived in deep space
Assess whether worth conquering
Consider carefully each one
Until finally a decision is made
Not worth it
Not even as a rerun


Issue 31 – Goblin Market

Disorderly piles
Filth, refuse, treasures galore
Goblin marketplace

By DS Davidson


Gobble it up!
By Mark Hudson

Look at this hobgoblin market,
everything looking like a bargain.
Goblins hocking wares, Bark it!
Selling just like textbook jargon.

Want an E.T movie poster?
Want a Goonies Lunch Box?
Want a Gremlins drink coaster?
Want a goblin grandfather clock?

It’s all here at this strange bazaar,
buy a monstrous rock guitar.
You’ll never figure out the chords,
or take a look at the sharp swords.

Got pests in your house? Is it your spouse?
Get this fool-proof vampire mouse!
She will be climbing on top of a stool,
or do you wish to be more cruel?

Goblins offering goblin food,
be forewarned; it’s a bit crude!
Taste the goblin fish and chips,
get a massage with chains and whips.

You can go to the dungeon below,
the stakes are high; but the prices are low!
Buy some illegal goblin beer,
wear an eye-patch and belch with a sneer!

If you want to drag the kids along,
be careful to watch who they’re among!
And if they got lost at the bazaar,
that’s less passengers in your car!

Remember to find what suits you the most,
you might even be followed home by a ghost!
Returning home, might bring you despair,
your wallet is empty, the true thing that scares!

Goblins For Sale
By K. A. Williams

“So you want to buy a goblin, eh?”
“Yes, unless you’re giving them away.”

The seller made them stand in line for me.
Ugliest creatures I ever did see.

Short with green skin, long noses, and big ears.
Lots of jagged teeth that grow sharper with years.

I studied each creature, both young and old,
picked out the right one, and paid with some gold.

“I’ll take him off the group chain. Are you sure?
He’s mean, and their bites are hard to cure.”

“Don’t worry, I’m a wizard, I’ll be okay.”
“What do you want with a goblin, by the way?”

“I’m also an artist, I’m painting him.”
The goblin growled and I thought he was dim.

“I’m going to paint your picture, not you.”
“Then you don’t need to fear me, if that’s true.
But a model should be paid. Set me free.”
“When I’m done with my painting. Certainly.”

The goblin and I left the market right then,
and he gave his seller an evil grin.


Hobnobblin’ with the Goblin
By Harris Coverley

I saw the goblin at the end of the bar in my local, refusing the stool and instead the blue-green claws of his legs grasping the handle running along the outside—he looked like a novelty light fixture. I sidled up him and asked, “So, is the goblin market back in town already?” And he replied, “You know you’re the third arsehole who’s asked me that.” I pacified him with a fresh drink, and he got to talking about his everlasting hunt for gold, his kidnapping and ransoming of maiden’s children, and his campaign of spoiling villager’s crops. And I talked about my graft in the insurance game—it wasn’t too dissimilar. The trouble came when he began to scrape through the flat white hairs on his scalp and pick out blood red fleas to snack on. The barmaid came up to us and barked, “No outside food!” And this caused a row so nasty it ended with him throwing his pint glass to the floor and slouching off out. I followed after him, but there was nothing in the street, not even a shadow of the sprite, except for something in the gutter that snatched my eye—a small flyposter, pink set, water-faded, emblazoned with its subject in tall and slim gothic lettering: GOBLIN MARKET 2021—1st to 15th August—Rossetti Square—ONLY SERIOUS TRADERS AND BUYERS ADMITTED—

at the bar’s far end
hobnobblin’ with the goblin
Jägerbombs on him

Midnight Market
By Cardinal Cox

Hacked CCTV to repeat images from a previous night
Hulking steroid-ripe ogres standing as
Bouncers – taking bribes from traders for pitches
A wall of cardboard scraps requesting crash space
For displaced folks from flooded fens
And family feuds; or information;
Or small-ads; or offering services
Flyers for gigs in front rooms
To raise the week’s rent
Zine peddler swap meet on blankets
Open bags – curling corners – crinkled covers
Book dealers on trestle tables – actual books!
Richard Allen – William Burroughs
Sven Hassel – Lydia Lunch
Each of the market’s four corners has
Music stalls with crackly CD players
Blaring vintage skipping disks
Cassette tapes for amulets hung round neck
Fragrant clouds from vegan fajitas & root stew
Laddeled into mugs, bowls or old containers
Punters pull from prepared packs
Techttoos of smart ink sigils
Sewn into proffered nervous skin
Engineers armed with soldering irons
And volt metres upgrading old
Handsets and headsets and holosets
Neural inputs flushed – cleaned – re-bored
Widened for greater bandwidth
Pharmacologist/shaman with herbs
And fungi switching on illumination
For the confused – the cursed – the possessed
Fibre optic torques for those with aspirations
Pick-pockets and secret police
Retired ravers and righteous Rastafarians
Tourists and ’tween fare taxi drivers
Sipping bitter black acorn coffee
Badges of forgotten bands – Destructors
Black Marias – Evil Macaroni – The Now
Medals from the Relief of Euston
The siege of Sizewell – Battle of Stonehenge
Some veterans legacy pawned for food
Sounds of seventy languages
Slang – cant – machine code
Two urban foxes with their limited
Vocabulary – cognitive enhancing
Chemical having entered the food chain
Wise salmon in distant rivers
Rat towns aggressively occupying London
Underground – and the foxes – mangey
Begging scraps from drunkards
Cobblers repairing boots beside the bar
While customers wince a home-brew beer
Graffiti artists co-operating on a mural
Of the market’s legendary founder – Buddha-fat
Sadhu-hirsute – third-eye blazing
Wide upon his forehead – collage crew
Ready to add Dadaist headlines
Seamsters repurposing scavenged clothes
With needle and filament wire
Mats for break-dancers spinning for coins
Street poets and rappers battling
With insults and invective – dumping
Fly-tipped verbal garbage on each
Others boasts worthy of flyting skalds
Everywhere the range of humans
Overseen by Neander-DNA expressing
Goblinz – there’s a satyr with horns
Amongst their hair – djinn gang boss
With rakshasa bodyguard gifted
Personal space – people augmented with
Hardware – software – greyware – pinkware
Smart drugs – gene spliced
And everywhere the call
Come buy! Come buy! Come Buy!


Goblin Hoard
By DJ Tyrer

Treasures piled high
Sold low
Coins scattered beneath
Goblin feet of
Scurrying salesmen
Seeking a quick profit
Eye for a sale
Keen to be gone
Before owner returns
Blazing dragon flame

Dragon Egg
By K. A. Williams

Dragon egg for sale
Price is negotiated
Excited buyer waits
Baby ostrich hatches