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Showcase: Death In The Afternoon + No You Can’t + Her Fear Of Water + Solar Return

Edited by Niema Bohrayba

Welcome to the third of my February Showcases. The theme of  ‘Beginnings And Endings’ is  mirrored in the natural world around us through the moon, one of our cosmic timers. As we head into the weekend, the upcoming full moon that awaits us symbolises fruition and culmination. Beyond this point, our moon will enter its waning phase and so, with the advent of next month’s new moon, commence on another cycle .

Our first piece this week is a poem by Allan G Lochhead. Death In The Afternoon speaks to the sense of loss that can be experienced when a role at work changes or comes to an end. The poem captures the surgical nature that can accompany workplace reorganisations and the lack of empathy that can be part of such experiences.

 Death In The Afternoon

Management incompetence brought it on
Arrogance and pomp, his downfall
A creeping fate all of us felt months ago
But would not speak of, as though to say, it would make it happen the more so.
Fateful day, two o’clock
White envelopes with surgical edges
Waiting to dispense their deadly cut.
Routed workers plunge headlong, into their tasks;
Hiding forlornly, hopelessly among the projects.
Wounds mopped up by words of healing:
Relocation, merging, outplacement.
A cheap antiseptic, no substitute for sutures.
The other department unscathed, gloating, smiling at our fate.
Like laughing policemen’s heads at fairs,
Grey people with no arteries or veins.

(c) Allan G Lochhead, 2024


Next, we have a fabulous short story by Jilly Henderson-Long. In NO, YOU CAN’T (yes, I bloody well can!), Jilly shares with us the interaction that led to the commencement of her writing journey. I particularly enjoyed the insight provided by this piece, as it serves as a powerful reminder that our creative journeys can begin in the most unexpected ways.

NO, YOU CAN’T (yes, I bloody well can!)

Picture the scene.  A small side office at a secondary school, 1972.  Today is the career teacher’s visit.  It’s her job to help a motley group of  14-year-olds decide what they want to do when they leave school so they can take the most suitable exams. This is how my interview went:

Teacher – Hello, Jilly.  What are your plans for when you leave school?
Jilly – I’m going to be a writer.
(Startled pause)
T – What sort of writer?
J – A book writer.
T – A book writer?  You mean like an author?
J – Yes.
(T hesitates for a moment)
T – But what will you do to earn money?
J – Write.
T – But Jilly ‘being a writer’ is not a realistic goal to set.  You have to go out and earn some money.  Then you can write as a
hobby. What else do you think you’d like?
J – Nothing.
T – Office work?
J – No.
T – Factory work?
J – Definitely not.
T – What about in a shop?
J – No
T – So how will you earn money?
J – Through writing.
T – You mean like a journalist?  You could go to college for that.
J – No.
T – Why not?
J – I can’t afford to go to college.
(Awkward pause)
T – How about a teacher?  You’d make a great teacher.
J – I don’t want to be a teacher.
T – Well, what do you want?
J – To be a writer.

Sadly, I think she more or less gave up on me then.  She went on to explain (in adult tones) that Writing was not a viable career path, that the profession was overcrowded, there was no wage structure and that no unknown writer can have a successful future. I probably yawned a few times, then she hit on the right note.

T – I know what would suit you.  Nursery work.  Just think!  You’d be able to make up stories for the children.

And that is how I became a writer.  True story.

(c) Jilly Henderson-Long, 2024

You can connect with Jilly on X: @Jilly52144833


Our third piece this week comes from Viv Fogel, taken from her collection, Imperfect Beginnings. I was drawn to how vividly it portrays the grip of emotion.

Her Fear Of Water

In the cyclone of lost years that spiral down
she is caught by an abrupt shift of mood
a flash a glint a subtle turn warm then
cold unpredictable like a freak storm at sea
She rides the waves a child cradled.
with ambivalence rocked by virgin blue
where terror lurks in the downward pull
of pre-verbal-fear to the almost-death/
in the letting down/and the letting go/
she eases her breath/at last/allowing
the Darkness to carry her

(c) Viv Fogel, 2023

You can connect with Viv through her publisher website:


Our last piece this week is by me, and it continues my reflections on cosmic timers.

Solar Return

With a birthday around the corner, I pay a bit more attention to the position of the sun in the sky. You see, the position of the sun is associated with our birthdays.

You may have come across the phrase, Many happy returns on greeting cards, or maybe someone has said this to you as you celebrated a new birthday.

It is said that the phrase has its origins in the phenomena of the sun ‘returning’ to the same spot it occupied in the sky as the day we were born.

The earth’s orbit around the sun creates the impression that the sun changes positions over the course of the year, thus ‘returning’ to the same spot approximately every 365 days.

I think this sprinkles a little bit of extra sparkle on our birthdays! A solar return feels much more of a personal new year than the one that starts in January and it’s the perfect opportunity to reset your goals and plan for the beginning of your personal new year.

(c) Niema Bohrayba, 2024


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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