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Showcase: Alone + What Did They Take From You? + Speed Demon + Speaker For The Dead + Corpse In The Chard

Edited by Jilly Henderson-Long

Hi, I’m Jilly and I’d like to welcome you to my third March Showcase. Tomorrow is World Poetry day and, as a published poet, I’m keen to showcase some beautiful writing from our submissions folder, exploring how poetry works when compared to other styles of writing. After all, what is writing other than a means to convey what matters to us – often a beginning of one thing and the ending of another?

I’d like to start with a poem from Alex Mayberry. It shows how beginning and endings can sometimes happen simultaneously.


How many doors exist unopened, for
5, 10, 20  years or more?
Abandoned buildings, structures.
decorated by squatting spiders
no longer under the bed,
whose taste for home furnishing
predates the sheen of the modern web.
Each door, once closed,
contains a scene where death and life had met,
the end of a chapter, or a dream,
a livelihood, or a regret.
And once shut, how long
before they would know the feel
of breathing fresh air again,
to matter, be somebody’s real
instead of being left to deteriorate
in a forgotten, neglected state. Alone.
How many people, ultimately,
live to share their fate?

© Alex Mayberry, 2024


Next, some flash fiction from Write On! regular Thomas Nixon. Flash fiction usually means a story of up to 1000 words, although there are competitions where the word count is only up to 50 words and that can really be challenging! It’s so good to see stories like these complete with a beginning, a middle and an ending, which ties in neatly with this month’s theme – as well as showing that, sometimes, fewer words can have greater impact!

What Did They Take From You?

It started as an impulse, an irate method to vent the rage they all shared. Chalked in cheap spray paint, the words were soon taken directly, an oppressed resentment unshackled with every glance.

Our jobs it declared, the paint acrid, homemade, tattooed against the derelict building.

Our homes it screamed, printed on the water tower for all to see.

Our dignity the store mannequins proclaimed; the words stitched crudely against their breasts.

Our children their gravestones whispered.

Our future a voice said, attracting the glances of others. As footsteps ceased around them, they simply asked: “What will we take from them?”

© Thomas Nixon, 2024

Speed Demon

Fast cars and high risks. It’s what he was all about. Skidding the Lambo over the bend, its tyres squealed in ecstasy, rubber lacerating over hot tarmac. That’s when he jacked the stick, throwing it up the mountain like a rock from a sling.

He never saw the herd crossing. He never heard the shepherd’s bell. Eighty became 100, just as a sheen of red hit the windshield, flesh-strewn fur splattering over sun-kissed glass. One hundred became 120 as the road fell away, his world spinning inexorably towards a rapid descent.

Fast cars and high risks. It’s what he was all about.

© Thomas Nixon, 2024

Thomas’ last piece carries a great deal of weight. I have chosen it because it doesn’t say whether the protagonist is male or female, the narrative being one of raw emotion, which can apply to both genders. It also begs the question: is the traumatic ending actually the start of the protagonist’s new life without the person he or she has been awaiting news of ?

Speaker For The Dead

Every night, the newsman read out the names of the dead.
Every night, I sat and listened.
Every night, I begged to hear your name, so I wouldn’t have to suffer any more.
And every night, there were so many. The young and the old buried together with a sigh
from the newsreader’s lips. Never to be spoken of again.
And every night, I cried.
And every night, I prayed.
Then one night, the war ended. And the dead were laid to rest for the last time.
And on that night, I screamed and screamed and screamed,
because I knew you were still alive.

© Thomas Nixon, 2024

You can connect with Thomas on X: @Tnixon98


My next piece is an extract from a full-length novel. Anna A Armstrong’s Corpse In The Chard is a detective story featuring a middle-aged granny with a penchant for solving mysteries. Clearly another strong female character here – or two, if you count her granddaughter Amelia! Here’s the start of it.

Corpse In The Chard (Extract)


Amelia, at nineteen, had mastered the art of vocal horror. Red-haired and petite, she was currently a Goth with cascades of curls that tumbled down her shoulders to her black laced corset. She crossed her arms and tapped her Doc Martin-clad toe with such vigour that it made her stiff tutu rustle.

Dee sighed; she could guess what her granddaughter’s next comment would be.

“Mummy isn’t going to like this!”

Yes! There it is! A statement both true and full of foreboding.

Dee swallowed. “No, dear.” She raised her eyebrows and looked hopefully at Amelia.

“Perhaps it could just be our little secret.”

“Granny! How can you keep a corpse in your lettuce patch a secret?”

“Chard, dear.”


“He’s lying on my patch of chard.” Dee gestured across the immaculate rows of vegetables, all neatly kept and punctuated by willow wigwams for the peas and beans. “The lettuce is over there – it’s not ready yet.”

Amelia rolled her eyes and said, “The point isn’t the type of veg, it’s that you have a dead body in your garden. It’s not the sort of thing you can ignore.”

Dee nodded. “Well obviously, we’ll need to tell the police. I just thought, perhaps we don’t need to tell your mother. After all it is only a small corpse!”

“Granny! The size of the corpse is not really the issue, any more than whether it’s amongst the chard or the lettuce!” Amelia’s green eyes flashed and her curls quivered with fury.

“I suppose not,” Dee murmured sadly as she surveyed the scene. “Such a shame, the chard was nearly ready to pick and I do so like it fresh. Now it’s all squashed.”

Together they regarded the flattened early leafy veg; compressed by a corpse, it was already wilting in the sunshine.

Their mediations on the perils of combining spring salad with stiffs, were rudely interrupted by an appalled cry of “Mother! How could you?”

© Anna A Armstrong, 2024

To find out more, find your own copy or discover other books in the series, connect with Anna through instagram: @thecotswoldwriter or her website:


A lovely poem to finish off with comes from our Editor, Madeleine. This poem straddles genres, in as much as it was written as promotional piece for a magazine: Nina-Iraq,  for and by Iraqi women everywhere. To me, this piece, conveying the beginning of a project, sits beautifully in our women’s history month as well as showing the power of poetry to showcase ideas that matter.


Nina is timeless and placeless
But holds also the heart of Iraq,
A place for the woman who’s faceless
To discover that the world has her back.
A place for the woman who’s nameless
To discover that things she has done
Support the growth of a nation…
Part of a global web being spun.

By reflecting this voice in her pages
And valuing truth above all
Nina’s strength is the story of ages
With hope as a clarion call.
The voice of a nation united, that reflects both new and old ways
By lighting a path for tomorrow, Nina connects our todays.
I look forward to sharing more wonderful pieces with you next week!

© Madeleine White, 2014


If you’d like to see your writing appear in the Write On! Showcase, please submit your short stories, poetry or novel extracts to:

Issue 19 of Write On! is out now and you can read it online here. Find it in libraries and other outlets and see previous editions of our magazines here

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