Diamond in the Dark – a Poem by Freyja Erickson-Rohrer



Stop trying.

It’s not worth your crying.

Save your tears for joy,

Or for the loss of those who brought you joy.

Snip away the vines that have crawled around your neck

And hold you back from light.

Hack the heartstrings that claw to stay attached,

That drip in poison and blind your inner sight.

Wash it away

If you are to use your tears for want of good,

Wash clean the pain.

And yearn to feel

Yearn to heal.

But never ignore the scar. Ignore the knife.

For, these diamonds can never truly be destroyed.

No matter the grit of the rock that hammers.

Stop defending thoughtless acts.

Thoughtless attacks.


What diamond can shine when it still resides in darkness?



Poem & Illustration by Freyja Erickson-Rohrer


The Eulogy of the Name Collector – A Short Story by Róisín Doherty

It began in the days of milk teeth and pink custard. The days when the world still seemed so big and full of adventures. The day you arrived, the teacher brought you up in front of the class and asked you to introduce yourself. You didn’t speak English very well yet, but that didn’t matter. You were the shiny, new toy, enamouring every five-year-old in the room, including me. But I wasn’t brave enough to approach you, not that it would’ve mattered; it seemed like you never had a moment to yourself. Everyone wanted a piece of you. Fascinated. Mystified. I never said a word.

I think it angered me, that you never had any time for me. That’s why I did it. The day you fell asleep in the sandbox, during lunchtime. I sneaked over, and buried you in the sand. You woke up crying, and had to go home early because there were ants crawling all over you. Even years later, I never told that it was me who buried you. I might die with that secret.

We were friends after that. Not best friends, by any means. But almost. I never let myself get too close; even then I saw through your game. You had a new best friend each day of the week, each of our classmates vying to bask in the light of your attention. I didn’t want to be a best friend for a day, though. When it came to my turn, I would show you how much better I am than the rest. I would prove that you should be my Best Friend Forever.

You invited me to sleep over at your house. I wasn’t your first choice, but I was just happy to be asked. We were older now, but the title of Best Friend held the same weight. You were mine, but I was not yours. The politics of this were very serious, of course. That night, we talked about the future – not realising how wrong we would be. I said that I would be an artist when I was grown up, that I would live in a penthouse in New York. You said you would be a model, if it killed you, and that you would marry a footballer. I told you, with sincerity, that you were so beautiful that you could be whatever you wanted.


That was the night I found the book. Long after you had gone to asleep, I was wide awake, snooping around your room. I wanted to know whatever I could about you, and see how I could convince you to be my Best Friend. At the back of your bottom drawer, underneath the pairs of mismatched socks, I found a small pocket book, bound in red leather. I assumed immediately that it was a diary, and greedily flipped through the pages to read your secrets. This was not your diary, I came to find out. Inside the book, was a list of names, inscribed by your hand. The first few pages were Chinese names, but before long I found the names of some of our classmates, both from nursery and primary school. I scanned through the list, searching for my own name. I read the whole book three times, but my name was nowhere to be found.  I was confused, but somewhat offended.

I worked up the courage to confront you about it, weeks later, but you denied everything. You screamed at me, calling me a liar and a sneak. You said you would never speak to me again, and you were almost true to your word.

We went on to different secondary schools. Your parents sent you to a private school, while I went to the local comprehensive. I was sure that that would be the last I would see of you. I even forgot about you for a while, and your little red book. We went on with our lives, treading slowly into the days of braces and pimple popping. Not that you ever had either of those problems.

The year we started GCSEs, you can imagine my surprise when you were introduced to me as the girlfriend of my best friend. The memories came flooding back once I saw your face again. I remember blushing bright red as you giggled, informing Jamie that we had, in fact, already met. You pulled me into a tight, dizzying hug. I remember how your hair smelt of vanilla.

A few years later, you were dating another friend of mine: Thomas. We saw each other regularly then. A big group of us would meet for lunch before class. You knew everyone’s name, but I was too shy to ask. I accompanied you on a trip to the bathroom once, holding your bag while you were in the cubicle. And I don’t know what possessed me to look; but I did.

Hidden inside a zip pocket, was the red leather-bound book. It was much older now, and many, many more pages were filled with names, but it was clearly well taken care of. I flicked it open to the latest page, where Thomas’ name was written in red ink. Hearing the toilet flush, I quickly put the book back, and worked on not looking too guilty when you came out. You didn’t suspect a thing.

You and Thomas broke up a month later. I only knew because he cried down the phone to me, wondering what he had done wrong. You seemed to act like nothing had happened. People called you a bitch. A heartless slut. I always defended you though. I would love to say that I did it to fight against misogyny, or because you were my friend, but that’s not true.

You hosted a party, after we had all finished our A-Levels. Everyone came, even the people who called you a whore behind your back and swore blind how much they hated you. I think you were used to that though, people always coming back for more.

I decided that this would be the night I would come clean. I found you on the roof alone, drinking peach schnapps straight from the bottle. We talked about the future, once again. You chastised me for not applying to go to university, but I hushed you quickly. I told you I’d been in love with you for as long as I could remember. That during those times I didn’t always like you but you always found a way to draw me back in. I said that I wanted to be the next name written in your little red book. I kissed you.

Or at least I tried. You pushed me away violently, screaming obscenities. You said you weren’t a filthy rug muncher and told me to fuck off. I fell against the wall, busting my lip. You reached to help me, but I smacked your hand away, mortified. I ran back home, as quickly as I could, but not before stealing into your bedroom once more, and stealing the book.

Once I was safely home, I studied it carefully. I slowly ran my finger across each name, trying to make sense of your odd habit. I anguished over each moniker, searching for a pattern. Max Allen. Francesca Sharpe. Elliott Marsden. Thomas Lucas. Eve Manning. Ruby Wyatt.  Nothing. Anthony Parsons. Lily Wheeler. Cameron Stokes. Amelia Rodgers. Alex Parker. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. I read all night. I read until my eyes hurt. Nothing.

I woke up at three in the afternoon, to a long text message from you. You apologised profusely for the previous night, and awkwardly asked if I brought home something that belonged to you. I didn’t reply. In fact, I booked my plane ticket that day.

It had always been a dream of mine to move to New York, but San Francisco seemed cool too. I left seven days later, finding myself a flat above a pizza delivery place. It was cheap, and dingy,  and there was a ruckus at four in the morning every night of the week. But it was far away from you, so I adored it. And, yes, I brought the book with me. In spite of myself, you were never far from my thoughts. I got a job at the pizza place, taking the night shift. I worked all night, and slept all day, finding time to paint in the hours in between. I painted you more often than I wanted to admit.

Finally, after a few months, I reached out to Thomas, and asked how you were. The reply was worrying. During the day, you had become completely drawn into yourself, only speaking when spoken too. The light in your eyes had died, and you rarely smile. At night, you were wild. An instinct driven party animal with needle point veins and a patchwork tongue. Your rarer lucid moments were bleak, leaving you a stuttering, paranoid wreck. But the most worrying part was your absence. You had been missing for a week. No one, not one even your parents had heard from you in the last eight days. Swallowing hard, I thanked Thomas for the update, and tried to get on with my life, only dwelling on yours when your memory caught up to me. What good could I do across the Atlantic?

One year after your disappearance, I sold my first painting, for sixty dollars. I was at a gallery, where my art was being showcased as a part of a group. The crowd was unenthusiastic, but rather wealthy. I knew I could do worse than to pique their interests.

That’s when I found you. You stood in your own world, staring at a painting I had done of you. No, not staring. Glaring at it. I watched you from afar, taking in the view. It was the first time I had seen you since the party. Despite the reports of your addiction and hedonistic lifestyle, I thought you had never looked more beautiful.

Working up my nerves, I approached you. I always said that you could be a model, and in that moment, I realised that I had inadvertently made your childhood dreams come true. You didn’t seem at all surprised to see me there. You asked if you were my muse. I said nothing. You asked if I was a real artist now. I said… yes. You said you loved artists. I promised you that I still had art in me yet. You came back to my flat. And as many questions as I wanted to ask you, I fulfilled your childhood dreams once more, and afterwards you made my adolescent dreams a reality.

The next morning, you were gone. I woke with a start, unsure if the previous night had really happened. But the pillow still smelt like your perfume, which I admit to inhaling deeply. Then a thought struck me. I cut across the room, to the desk where I kept the book. Gone. Just like you. I felt as though a blade of ice punctured my heart. I felt stupid, and used. After that, each memory of you was tinged with shame. In fact, I made a conscious effort not to think of you, or your little red book at all. That’s why it was such a shock to receive a call from your mother.


That’s when I found out you died.  A heroin over-dose. I booked on the quickest plane back home for the funeral. After seeing you laying in the coffin, all I could think about is how all my previous affection had vanished. Not that I didn’t feel sad, but I certainly wasn’t consumed with grief for a lost love, taken too soon. Everyone spoke of you highly, but I couldn’t help but feel that I was the only one of these people who really knew you.

That’s what inspired me to write my own eulogy. Not that anyone else will ever read this. In fact, I wrote it in your book, right under your last entry: my name.


Images from collages by Danielle Jade Oldham

Opening Chapter by Ward Eli Butt

This is the opening chapter of a currently unnamed story by Ward. Any feedback would be much appreciated! 

“Welcome Johnny,” came a metallic and dark voice. The bag over Johnny’s head was removed and a sickly man with a face a mother couldn’t recognize was revealed. Blood seeped down from his mouth, nose and brow. The gashes wore down on his eyes as he struggled to look around at where he was. The room was dark. One light shone upon his face from above him –  it looked like a damp cellar of some old house that he was in. The walls were a dark lime colour with old paintings of lords and mayors hanging from them. That was all he could make out.

The two men beside him were big from what he could tell, stocky and tall. The man in the suit ahead of him, cast in the darkness, was square jawed. Handsome even. He didn’t look as though he belonged but Johnny knew him. He was in charge of the two mugs beside him. Edward Lester was his name. He stood there, black gloves raised up in a welcoming posture towards Johnny.

“Nice night. Warm it is. Nice to be down here in a cool cellar. Could freeze down here in the winter I reckon though,” said Edward. “Now Johnny, what on earth happened? Did you forget who I was? Well here I am to remind you.”

He crept forward like a snake slithering on the surface, and a shade, a darkness, came forth into the light.  Infected it. He took shape and held out his hand to take a knife from a box held out by one of his lackeys. He lent forward and pressed the knife to Johnny’s neck.

“You remember me now? Good old Ed? You forgot your place Johnny. You stole from me. But don’t you worry. I ain’t going to kill you. No. No. Just gonna take an ear so I can whisper into it when I need your services again. Because I will need it again.”

Johnny sat there trying to find the words, he stuttered and shook. He was scared. “Eddie, mate. I was gonna give it back I swear, I just needed the money a little longer, this investment I-I got it all figured, I just…”

Edward hushed Johnny. “Need more time? Well unfortunately, you miss a deadline, you pay the price mate. We don’t want the money anymore, too little too late.” He swept the knife carefully across the skin, going at a slow pace. It made Johnny quiver in fear. “You will lose your ear. And you will go out and skulk around hunting for someone who wronged my father. His life for yours. But obviously, the catch being you lose a limb.”  He grabbed Johnny’s head suddenly, and violently. “Now hold still.”

Johnny moaned and yelled, “No!” He made noises he didn’t think were remotely possible from his lungs. He screamed like a tragic widow losing her husband. He cried and took bites at his own tongue in agony writhing around like a worm. Until a strange, silky noise echoed throughout the cellar. It had echoed for only a fraction of a second, but that made it ever more haunting. Johnny was now crying, Edward’s black gloves stained in a juicy thick red, and he was holding the ear in his hand. “Now Johnny, venture out into the world, I’ve got me a walkie-talkie now to speak to you if I need anything else. Have a nice day.”  Edward said. Johnny was still crying and writhing on the ground kicking and screaming like a newborn babe.


The Last Man by Neil James Jones

You’ll want a real man

Who is gentle, wise and caring

When desires make demands

He is rough, base and daring


But all men are pigs

Right down to the last

Try to find yourself a gent’

As they’re selling out fast


It’s a question of numbers

Just supply and demand

Enough time in the desert

And you’ll drink the sand


You’ll sit there and listen

What else can you do?

As he whispers sweet nothings

And delivers them too


All the good men are gone

No replacements, a dearth

Now you’ll have to make do,

Since I’m the last man on Earth.


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 Just Another Anxiety Poem by Stephanie Love

This will not be another poem

About how depression is like drowning

Or how anxiety is like a rollercoaster

Because I fucking love rollercoasters

And I fucking hate anxiety

I promise there will be no tired similes

Or metaphors that will bore

This is not a step by step guide

The demons that live inside

Are not demons at all

Just some brain chemicals

That aren’t mixed right

I don’t mean to belittle your fight

It’s just that anxiety can have a funny side

Have you ever gotten off a bus and sprinted home

Convinced there’s something shady about that man walking on his own

Or waited outside a pub pretending to be on the phone

Because your friends are late and god forbid you sit alone

Have you ever had a panic attack at the ASDA checkout

Because your mum dropped a jar, Dolmio sauce spilled out

As the glass smashed and an assistant comes across

And you’re crying over pasta sauce

One time a phone rang in an office I was cleaning

I ran down six flights of stairs screaming

I didn’t know if I should answer or ignore

Got overwhelmed and headed for the door

But that doesn’t compare to the anxiety I get when I feel overdressed

Nothing in the world causes me more stress

I remember spending my 18th birthday

Hyperventilating outside TGI Fridays

Because I wore make up and put on heels

Everyone else was dressed for a casual meal

Looking back, in a better place, I can laugh

Although I’m not cured I can see I was daft

You don’t always recognise when you’re know you’re being irrational

When you suffer from anxiety it’s understandable

To react in a way that others find funny

So why not share the joke, even if it’s at your expense

Because having anxiety is shitty and learning to laugh is the only defence.



No Place in Your Life by Sam Moulton

Less of a necessity
more of an accessory
been left out to dry
and for you to forget about me
I’m not needed anymore
you’ve got new friends you can bore
I would die to be there but
you don’t want me around because I make your head sore
with my moaning and groaning and constant complaining
the world sucks and I feel like I’m in training
for the day I’m gonna die
and it’s so draining
to not be needed
by anyone and I even pleaded
for a place in your life
but you never conceded
so I stepped up on the bridge, real nice and high
all that’s left to do now is to fall and die
the cars are zooming past and not one of them can see
my body as it tumbles and I say my last goodbye.