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.



I’m Getting Out Of Dodge by David O’Neill

Boar's head erased (scottish heraldry)


Brexit stage right, pursued by a bear

I’m getting out
Of getting out;
There’s no doubt
It will be a rout
So I’m getting out of

Everyone’s now obfuscating;
Boris, Mike and Nige are waiting
Our plan.
Who’s got it?

Messages on big red buses
Now elicit oaths and cusses—
All the world expecting something
From the hollow soundbites of the
Bullingdons; oh, Bullingdon,
What have your ox-brained old boys done?

I’m getting out of Dodge—
Going down the lodge—
I’ve got more things to
Go and bodge
I’m getting out of

Everyone’s confabulating;
Merkel, Jean and Nic are waiting
Our man.
Who’ll cop it?

Promises of wads of Rheingold,
Pups and PPI were missold—
All the world expecting something
From the nibelung ‘un of the
Camerons; oh, Cameron,
You’ve gone and göt a dämmerung.

I’m getting out of Dodge—
Off to make a splodge—
The caput apri
Mocks my todge
I’m getting out of


David O’Neill is a frustrated mathematician who has journeyed through a predominantly life-science-based medical landscape for most of his mortgage-paying professional life, eventually finding salvation in the Open University, too close to the end for practical application but sufficiently early for peace of mind and poetic inspiration.