Dream Big You Said To Me by Mark McConville

Mark McConville

Dream Big You Said To Me.


You write with elegance

And dance through the hallway when the poetry flows

And astounds, and makes you quiver,

It’s your medication.


I observe you nailing unwanted notes

On a wall coloured in red

That’s where the rejection letters hang

It’s a shrine of war and blood, sweat and tears.


Some days you don’t wash

Other days you’re as high as a plane

Flurrying through the sky

And headed to a dreamland.


You drink your optimism away

From a glass the size of an enlarged heart

Power was your strength,

You now seem stuck in between

Normality and hazardous thoughts.


The city was your playground

You’re cooped up and writing plotlines

That aren’t structured or compelling

They’re mediocre.


Art has succumbed to procrastination

As you sit and scream annihilation

And your bones shake and your skin tightens

This is a breakdown.


You throw expensive vases at the walls

You cut yourself on splinters

Begging to sleep, praying to wake up a new writer,

Of engrossing fiction, of well-rounded characters,

And a queen of those allusive plot-lines.


And dream big you said to me

As I hung onto your coattails

When you drank to wash away the taste of failure


I’ve observed too much…

Interesting Times by Ian Lewis Copestick

I suppose this
it what it must
have been like
to have lived
during the war,
or the depression.
With shortages
and rationing,
worry and fear.
For me, it’s the
first time that
I’ve ever been to
shops and seen
the shelves mostly
empty, and I’ll tell
you what, it’s weird,
it’s really fucking
weird. What can you
do? We’re all on a
lockdown, we’re
all imprisoned,
against our will.
It’s like living in
a horror film, or
a Stephen King
novel. I vaguely
remember an
old Chinese curse.
” May you live in
interesting times. ”
Well, that is
we’re all going

Drunken Charade by Mark McConville

Drunken Charade.

Choose your path

One that illuminates

One that takes you through events

And neon lit alleyways where alcohol tinged

Human beings populate and tell their tales.


You’ve been waiting for this moment

When all shackles are cut

When freedom feels euphoric

It all feels manic too

In these testing times where hearts pulsate

For cleaner blood

And more storage to contain worries.


You share a bottle of grade c whiskey

With the leader of this drunken charade

She’s scarred and shaky

Unpredictable and marginalised

Broken skin touches your skin

She might be diseased but you couldn’t care less

As you deter suicide.


Drunk now

You’re sitting on a sheet of cardboard

Blasphemy orders another drink

You see blurred lines

There’s no sense or diplomatic virtues

The world is a damaging place

And you’re only realising this isn’t a time of clarity.


You want to sober up

So you can walk back into isolation

You were safer in a room filled with books

And cigarettes, and challenging jigsaws,

Where normality excelled.


These people aren’t friends

They’re enemies

And you’re edging close to sinking straight

Into a bottle or even worse a dangerous sleep.


Bright lights and sirens

Are seen and heard

They scatter

You’re slumped and looted of faith and possessions


You’ve been saved.

Mark McConville

Pomegranate by Ian Lewis Copestick

I think, cringing
of when I was at school,
early teens,
thinking I was the
next Joe Strummer.
A few short years later
wishing I was
” On The Road ”
really, I was barely able
to cross it.
Next, a virginal
Henry Miller fan.
Well, I guess I wasn’t the
first one of those.
Such people don’t
arrive many times in
a lifetime, so when they do
you make the
best of it you can.
Just try not to
take them too seriously.
Pick out the
bits you need
and throw the rest away.


Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One by Paul D. Brazill

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One

Ginger Ronny had told Burkey about the murder towards the bitter end of one of their occasional raucous Tuesday night drinking sessions, as the dawn had desperately begun to grasp for life and Malcolm Duffy was grumpily getting ready to close up Le Duffy. But it wasn’t until the cusp of Wednesday evening – as Burkey struggled out of bed to start his night shift at the slaughterhouse – that the reality of the situation finally melted into his consciousness, like ice cubes in a glass of Jack Daniels.

‘Jude Walker,’ he groaned, as he sat on the stained and wobbly toilet. ‘Jude friggin’ Walker.’

He put his head in his hands as he pebble-dashed the inside of the toilet bowl with the residue of the previous night’s boozing session and tried to force a tear or two with the same passion that he’d shat. But he couldn’t. Despite all Jude had done for Burkey over the years, the man had been a nasty twat who’d had payback coming to him for donkeys.

Burkey showered, dressed and left his flat, a hovel that was above a closed down dirty book store and had been advertised as being a ‘loft-style apartment’. He started to have a nagging feeling tugging at him as he limped down the stairs, and it wasn’t just the need for a little eye opener before he started work.

As he shuffled into Le Duffy’s dimly lit bar, adjusting his eyes as he negotiated his way through the closely stacked tables, he realised what the problem was. Ronny had confided in him. Burkey. Or Gimpy, as he usually called him. Of all of Ronny’s dodgy cronies and neo-incestuous family members he’d confessed a murder to Burkey.

Although they occasionally got drunk together, Ronny and Burkey had never been friends, as such. Ronny had even regularly taken great pleasure in taking the piss out of Burkey’s limp. Even back in school he had been worse than most of the other kids when it came to cruel jibes. They were bound together by a love of the booze, though, which wasn’t everything but it was a lot.

Malcolm served Burkey his usual pre-work shot of peppermint schnapps. He hated the taste but it didn’t smell of booze, they said. He sat at the bar, knocked it back and ordered another. This Ronny situation was a quandary and a conundrum, as his old granddad used to say. What the hell was Ronny up to?

He ordered another drink and tried to piece together what Ronny had actually told him about killing Jude.

It went like this: Ronny was sat in his Ford Granada in the car park outside The Bongo Club getting a blow job from Skinny Minnie, one of the club’s barmaids, who gave extras when it came close to her rent day. She was dressed as a schoolgirl since, although she was forty if she was a day, she had the skinny, petit body of an anorexic teen which boosted her earning capacity.

After she eventually swallowed his load, Ronny loosened his grip and allowed her to come up for air. He pulled a wad of notes from his Wranglers and peeled a few off. Most of the cash he used to pay her was counterfeit but there was so much of it in the town these days that it was becoming accepted currency.

He sat and smoked a joint while Minnie cleaned him up with baby wipes and there was a knock on the window. Well, more of a bang. Ronny wound down the window to see the massive form of Jude Walker shouting and screaming about something or other. Ronny had no idea what he was on about. Not that it mattered since Jude had a tendency to completely lose the plot over any old thing when he was snorting the crap coke that was produced by the same Russians that made the fake cash.

Ronny knew that there was nothing he could do to placate Jude and began to wind up the window when Jude stuffed a massive hand through the gap and grabbed Minnie by the throat. Well, Ronny, ever the gentleman, couldn’t allow that to happen so he pushed open the car door sending Jude sprawling backwards until he crashed his head against the breeze-block wall that everyone used to piss against when then went outside the club for a cigarette. Ronny walked over and saw that Jude was out for the count. And then, before he could do anything about it, Minnie turned up with a brick and proceeded to smash the shite out of the unconscious Jude’s big fat head.

Ronny apparently grabbed the brick from Minnie and slapped her till she calmed down. Then he started to hyperventilate. They were so far in shit creek an outboard motor wouldn’t help, let alone a paddle. Jude Walker was an old school-friend, for sure, but he was also the off-white sheep in a very dark family. A very loyal family indeed.

Burkey looked up at the cracked triangular clock that hung behind the bar and realised that he was going to be late for work if he didn’t get a move on. Fuck it, he thought. This was serious stuff. He ordered another drink. A proper one this time. A double Jack D.

The bar had started to fill out without him realising it and he was in his pots, singing along to the Pina Colada song when someone tapped him on his shoulder. He could almost taste the sour breath.

‘Burkey, I need you,’ Ronny whispered in his ear. Burkey turned and saw Ginger Ronny, high as a kite, wearing a cagoule and covered in all sorts of mud and shit.

‘What do you … want?’ said Burkey.

‘I need you to help me bury him.’


‘Get a friggin’ move on Gimpy,’ said Ronny, as it started pissing down.

A big grin crawled across his flushed face like a caterpillar. Burkey assumed Ronny thought that using his old school nickname would motivate him. Far from it. He was starting to realise that Ronnie was just manipulating him. Using him to do his dirty work.

Burkey forced a smile. He was getting soaked to the skin in a vandalised cemetery, after spending the last half hour digging a grave and Ronnie was going on and on at him like fingers down a blackboard.

Burkey stopped, the pain in his bad knee getting worse and worse in the cold and wet weather.

‘Give me a minute or two,’ he said.

‘Oh, for fucks sake, Gimpy, I friggin’ told you …’

Burkey swung the shovel without thinking about it and it smacked Ronnie square on in the head. Ronnie just stood there, an unlit cigarette in his hand. A blank expression on his face that reminded Burkey of a cartoon character.

So Burkey twatted him again and he fell forward into the open grave. There was a flash of lightning, followed by a rumble of thunder as Burkey managed to drag himself out of the grave. He paused to catch his breath and got down to covering up the bodies with renewed enthusiasm, safe in the knowledge that he’d make it back to Le Duffy in time for last orders. But he’d keep himself to himself tonight, that was for sure.

Paul D Brazill was born in England and lives in Poland. His writing has been translated into Polish, Italian, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including three editions of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST BRITISH CRIME. 


A Magical Time by Ian Lewis Copestick

I’m sitting here and thinking
of when I wrote my first few
poems. It was a magical time.  It was a cold, cold winter
and I was working nine and
a half hour night shifts in a cardboard box factory.
It took me over an
hour to get there, and the
same to get back.
After clocking off at six
a.m. I would reach home,
frozen stiff at about 7:30.
At the time I was a pretty
heavy drinker, and every
,night before I went to
work, I made sure that
I had a couple of bottles
of the cheapest sherry
to drink when I got home
to get me to sleep.
I would get in bed, roll
a cigarette, pour a drink.
Drink it, smoke it and
repeat. Drink, smoke
repeat. Drink, smoke ….
Until I had
thawed out,  which
usually took me
about half a bottle,
then grab a pen
and a cheap
notepad, and all of
my tiredness, my
bitterness and pain
would pour itself onto
the page. I had no
control over it, or that’s
how it felt. The first
few times I did it, I
was so exhilarated that
if I hadn’t been so
exhausted from work
I doubt I would have
slept at all. There was
the proof, I was a poet !
No one could take that
away from me.
Although it took me
almost 16 years to
get them published,
I still feel as proud
today as I did all of
those years ago.


Weather, Or Not by Ian Lewis Copestick

It’s a grim,
grey rainy night
water running
in the gutters.
At six p.m., it’s
starting to go
dark and the
day is winding
down. I can’t
wait for a couple
of months to go
by, and for the
nights to become
lighter and for the
sun to begin to
shine. Anyone
who says that
the weather, or
has nothing to
do with a person’s
mood or mental
health is either a
fool or a liar.
I wrote a poem
a few years ago
saying that I’d
prefer to
live in England,
with it’s four
seasons than to
live in L.A. with
it’s continual
sunshine. God
knows, I must
have been out
of my mind.
When nine months
out of twelve
are painful to
live in, you must
be a fool to stay
there, if you
have the money
to leave.

Yesterday’s Wine by Paul D. Brazill

Pauline Williams really hadn’t wanted to talk to her brother. Not for a while, anyway. She’d been giving him the cold shoulder recently. She’d had more than enough of Billy’s shenanigans over the years, so she started to ignore his text messages and calls. She’d even unfriended him on Facebook. But when she found out he’d been in an accident, her resolve soon wilted. Family was family, after all. 

The bus arrived just after she got to the bus stop. It was almost empty, as usual, since most of the people that lived in the area didn’t take buses. They were doctors, lawyers, teachers, social workers, and they drove expensive cars or took taxis. The bus was really only there to take their kids to the swanky private school at the other side of the town.  Pauline flashed her monthly travel pass to the sleepy bus driver, who paid it scant attention. She walked to the back of the bus and sat down heavily. Her joints ached. She was feeling her forty years of working as a cleaner more and more each day.  She was on the verge of drifting off to sleep when she heard a familiar voice. 

“The glory days are far behind us now, eh Pauline?” said George Morrison, as he sat down next to her. 

Pauline opened her eyes and smiled.  George’s glory days were certainly behind him. He used to cut a fine figure, even when they’d been at school together. He used to be a mod in those days, always sharply dressed. He was the lead singer in a couple of bands, too. One of them, The Blue Beats, had a Friday night residency at The Band In The Wall in Manchester and had supported The Small Faces on one of their tours.

The lasses used to be all over George. They used to say he had more tarts than Mr Kipling. He looked as rough as toast now, though. Hair like straw, face like a blackcurrant crumble, wearing a shabby grey shell-suit. The booze and the divorces had certainly taken their toll on George. 

“Oh, I don’t mind growing old, so much,” said Pauline. “Anyway, there’s not a lot I can do about it, is there?” 

“Yeah, and it certainly beats the alternative,” said George.

He chuckled, and started a coughing fit. 

“True enough,” said Pauline. 

She looked out of the window. Another church had been turned into a pub. 

“Are you off home, then?” said George. 

“Naw, I’m off to the hospital to see our Billy,” said Pauline.

George frowned. 

“What’s he been up to?” 

“Broke his arm falling out of a window, apparently.” 

“Has he been out on the burgle again?” 

“Yeah, I think so. Daft bugger.” 

“At his age, eh?” said George, grinning. 

Pauline tutted. 

“Mind you, we’re none of us spring chickens, eh?” said George. “Are you still doing Doctor Moody’s house?” 

“Oh, yes. Every Monday and Friday. Come rain or shine. Not that there’s much to do since he went bed bound. He’s got a home help that does most of it. I’ve said I’ll pack it in but I think he needs the company more than anything. That home help that comes is a nice lass, but she speaks funny English.”

“Where’s she from?” 

“Czechoslovakia or somewhere. How’s your Andy?” 

“Not good. Not bad.”

Pauline patted his wrist. She gazed out of the bus window and was silent until they pulled up outside the old people’s home. George got up.  “

See you around,” said George. 

“Tara,” said Pauline.


Billy was sat up in bed nattering away with a young Indian nurse when Pauline walked into his room. He had a bandage on his head and an arm in a sling. He was in a private room, of course. No second bests for Billy. She wouldn’t ask where he’d got the money to pay for it. She’d given up on those sort of questions a long time ago.

‘Oh, Enter The Dragon!’ said Billy, when he saw Pauline.

The nurse was confused.

‘I don’t understand,’ she said.

‘Sorry Jyoti,’ said Billy. ‘Just a little family humour. I reckon Bruce Lee was a bit before your time.’

Jyoti smiled.

‘I’ll leave you to it,’ she said, and left.

Pauline sat in an armchair that was by the window. The room was stiflingly hot. Hailstones pelted the window pane. There was a plasma screen television pinned to the wall. It was showing a Tom and Jerry cartoon. The sound was turned down.

‘This is a swanky place, Billy,’ she said.

‘Nothing but the best for Billy The Cat. You know that,’ he said.

‘Oh, that I do know. So, what the hell happened to you?’

‘You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.’

‘Probably not but tell me anyway.  Are the coppers involved?’ said Pauline.

She took off her shoes and massaged her feet.

‘Well, yes and no. Sort of indirectly they are.’

Pauline groaned.

‘Are they going to charge you with breaking and entering?’ she said.

‘No. There’s no chance of that,’ said Billy.

He smirked. Looked full of himself.

Pauline leaned over to the bedside table and took a bottle of Lucozade and a plastic cup. She poured herself a drink.

‘Go on then,’ she said. ‘Spill the beans.’

Billy sat himself upright with a struggle. He took a Polo mint from a half open packet and popped it in his mouth. Crunched.

‘Do remember Vic Napper?’ he said.

‘That bent copper that used to sniff around you when you were in the Quality Street gang?’ said Pauline.

‘The self-same,’ said Billy. ‘Although I think you’ll find there was never any evidence of my association with that particular criminal fraternity.’

‘Oh, I do apologise for my allegation. I wouldn’t want to sully your good name. So, go on. What’s he got to do with it? I thought he’d pissed off to Spain or something?’

‘Well, he had. But it turns out he had enemies.’

‘A copper so bent you could use him as a pipe cleaner? That is a surprise,’ said Pauline. She chuckled.

‘Yeah, well it turns out one of those enemies caught up with him.’

‘Croaked him?’

‘Yeah. Looks that way, though the official report says that it was an accident, though.’

Pauline grimaced.

‘How did he go?’

‘Drowned in a swimming pool.’

‘So what’s that got to do with you?’

‘Well, Napper had a diary. A little black book. With names, dates and places.’

‘And some of these names …’

‘Felt vulnerable. And wanted me to get the book for them from his old flat.’

‘And did you get it?

‘No. It wasn’t even there. I looked everywhere.

Pauline switched on the radio. It was The BlueBeats, the local band who’d almost made it big.

Billy smiled.

‘Those were the days, eh?’ he said.

‘They were good. If it hadn’t been for George Morrison’s dad …’

Billy held up a hand.

‘Bygones,’ he said.

‘Yeah, the past is the past,’ said Pauline. ‘Nothing we can do about it now. So, what you going to do about Nappers little black book?’ she said.

‘Nowt I can do,’ said Billy. ‘He probably had it stashed away somewhere but who knows where.’

‘Wasn’t he supposed to be shagging a lass from round here?’ said Pauline.

‘Yeah, they said he was knocking off some married bint.’

‘Well, maybe he left it with her.’

Maybe but no one ever found out who she was. He was a right dark horse that Vic Napper.’

‘Well, that probably helped keep him alive as long it did,’ said Pauline.

‘True enough.’

It was getting dark outside and the streetlights were coming on.

‘So, when are you getting out of here?’ said Pauline.

‘They say I could go home in a couple of days, to be honest. But I think I’ll milk by client’s financial hospitality a little longer,’ said Billy.

Pauline stood and groaned with pain.

‘I could do with a little break myself,’ she said.  ‘But …’

‘No peace for the wicked,’ said Billy, winking.


Pauline was glad to be back home. She took off her shoes, put on her slippers and made a cup of tea. She put a few custard creams on a saucer and sat down in front of the telly.

She was a bit sad about what had happened to Napper but it wasn’t a great shock. He’d always been an arsehole albeit a bloody good looking arsehole. Much better looking than her husband Lenny had been, that was for sure.  

She was adrift on a sea of bittersweet memories when she heard an ice cream van’s chimes. ‘That’s Amore.’ She sighed. She should have known it wouldn’t have been long before Alberto came sniffing around.

There was a loud bang on the front door.

‘Come on in, it’s open,’ she shouted.

The Monolith, Alberto’s minder, walked into the living room first. He was wearing a long leather coat and wrap around shades, as usual.  Behind him, was Alberto Amerigo, a tiny little man with dyed black hair and a pencil moustache. He wore a shiny white linen jacket with a pink carnation in the lapel. He looked like a spiv but he used to be a barber, then an ice cream man and now he was a loan shark. He had the cold, dead eyes of a shark, too.

‘Evening, Pauline. Long time, no see,’ said Alberto.

‘Evening, Al. What can I do you for?’ said Pauline.

Alberto sat on the arm of the sofa.

‘I hear you’ve been to see your Billy in the hospital,’ he said.

Pauline took her feet out of her slippers and wriggled her toes.

‘I have. Family duty and all that,’ she said.

‘Yes. Family is important. How’s the old rogue keeping?’

‘Not too bad, to be honest. They say he should be out in a few days.’

‘That’s good to know. Did he happen to say anything about the whereabouts of a certain little black book?’ said Alberto.

He leant forward and glared at Pauline. The Monolith cracked his knuckles.

‘Not to me he didn’t,’ said Pauline.

Alberto nodded slowly.

‘Well, if he does, you will let me know, alright?’ he said.

‘Of course, Al. You can rely on me.’

‘Magnifico bonny lass,’ he said with a wink.

He nodded to The Monolith and they both left the room.

Pauline heard the front door slam. She sighed and put her slippers back on.

It was probably time to dig Vic Napper’s little black book from its hidey-hole in the cupboard under the stairs. She stood up but then her knees started to ache and she sat straight back down. She picked up the remote control and switched on the television.

After all this time, it could probably wait until after Downtown Abbey.

BIO: Paul D. Brazill’s books include Last Year’s Man, Man Of The World, Gumshoe Blues, and Kill Me Quick. He was born in England and lives in Poland. His writing has been translated into Italian, Finnish, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime


paul d brazill noir

This grey/green landscape by Ian Lewis Copestick

I look out through

dusty white nets
at this grey/green landscape
that I have seen
for nearly every
day of my entire bloody life.
At 2:46 this march,
in pastel colours,
afternoon it’s beautiful, bathed
washed in a pale
spring sunlight.
I remember a scouse dealer telling me
that he thought
where I lived was a beautiful place, and that
it was where
he wanted to move to. At the time I laughed,
now I can see
exactly what he meant to say.


True Crimes by Ian Lewis Copestick

Every night we watch true crime
programmes on T.V. Tonight the
inevitable happened, one crime slid
into another. My wife asked  “Do you
get this ? Why did he kill him ?”
I said
” Well, obviously it was the ten grand. ”
” No, Ian that was the last programme.
The one that was on before. ” She was
right, after seeing about 10,000 crimes,
I’d finally lost the plot.