A Spin Through Time by Judy Darley

Uncle Webster gave me the formula
for the time machine, where x = the growl
of a strawberry-eating bear, and y, the dust
found in pockets of winter coats that
have been under the bed all summer.

I built the base from an old crate
painted scarlet, with bicycle wheels fitted
for extra velocity. It’s a blustery day,
leaves blowing every which way,
when I persuade the bear to crouch in the bow
and utter his sky-juddering growl.

A scatter of dust and we’re off,
blizzarding between eons
like a double pennant gale warning.

My aim? To visit Hadrian’s Wall at its beginning;
I have an essay due on Monday about the Roman Empire.
But spelling was never my strongest subject.
A typo sends us spiralling to the Hadean era
– more than a billion years prior
to the first multi-cellular life on Earth.

I hold my breath; the bear lets loose a howl.
Past travesties and calamities we spin,
to the end of all things and back again.

Homework forgotten, one goal remains.
We pause briefly in the 21st century,
collecting two new passengers,
Theresa and Donald.
They huddle on the bear’s warm lap,
eyes and lips streaming with fright.

Backside to the Hadean era we soar,
and on to the Devonian at the very moment
when the first clammy amphibians appear.
And there we leave them to evolve, or expire,
hoping for a brighter future for us all.

Judy Darley writes fiction, poetry and journalism. Her words have been published in literary magazines and anthologies. She’s read her short fiction on BBC radio, in cafés, caves, an artist’s studio and a disused church. Judy blogs about art and other things here.



That Time Travel Paradox Thing by Simon Williams

It’s the rich who travel forward in time
and note the Euro-Millions results,
before returning to place their bets.

It’s only through a big win like this
they can afford a time machine.

Simon Williams has six published collections. He latest pamphlet, Spotting Capybaras in the Work of Mac Chagall, launched in April and his next full collection, Inti, will be out later this year. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet. He makes a living as a journalist.


Worry by Meg Barton

What if
You were teleported
Into Ancient Greece, or Ancient Babylon,
Or the court of King Alfred
Appearing at their fireside like
A vision
And you told them you came from the future
And they said
“Tell us something to help us
Something our minds haven’t conceived of”
And the teleporter voice said
“You’ve got two minutes left”
What on earth would you say?
What would you tell them?
And if you said
“My mind’s gone blank”
And they said
“OK tell us, at least tell us
A joke that we haven’t heard before”
And you couldn’t even think of that
Not a single one.
Your big chance to save the world
Or alter the course of history
And you messed up.
How embarrassing would that be?
Sometimes I worry about this.

Meg Barton lives in Oxford, and has been published in a few magazines including The Interpreter’s House and Lighten Up Online.