Bradford Middleton


It was a simple update on a social media site suggesting that, after years of trying, he was, at last, finally, making his escape back to the big bad smoke of London, the newly-announced international city, from whence he had came some ten years earlier.  He was through with this ‘no-good town’ and the torrent of old friends welcoming him back ‘home’ on the other side of the argument came silence.  And that is how it remained on their collective part anyway until finally Jack just gave up on explaining what he’d really intended.  He had planned to tell all of them, well the bar-staff would miss him, that woman who always seemed to serve him in the supermarket and the old grunger girl who worked in the 24 hour place which was always ripe for a late-night booze raid.  Then again none of them were going to cry over his leaving and with the way people had treated him generally in this adopted home it would take some time to acclimatise to the pace of London life.  He always chuckled whenever cars would allow you to cross in front of them in Brighton, in London he imagined them speeding up when they saw some fresh road-kill available but somehow it was this city he dreamed of returning too.

The simple problem came when he began looking at places to live.  He couldn’t afford anywhere it seemed; in his time away it appeared that rents had not only doubled but trebled and in some cases quadrupled and had, as someone on the bottom rung of the housing ladder, priced Jack out of his simple request to go home, just like Judy Garland.
‘There’s no place like home’ his mind played over as he poured through thousands of rooms, studios, flats, garages for a laugh, and he suddenly realised that his only option was to buy a car and buy a parking space.  Then he realised what a ridiculous idea that was and he had to announce that his last comment was not a statement of fact, it was merely a dream he had to one day return to his hometown.  He would have to stay here, dreaming of London, dreading every shift at the only shit job he could get in this town and living like a derelict in a ramshackle rooming house direct on the seafront.   It was a lose-lose situation; he wanted out but couldn’t afford it and all the time he stayed the determination to just get out grew and grew until one day it became clear that he would lose his mind once and for all if he didn’t simply make that escape.  The next day though everything was to change for Jack, everything was suddenly better when a simple email dropped in his inbox.  Susan had left Brighton some eighteen months before and Jack had missed her terribly but now she was writing to say that she was considering coming back.  Could it be real?  Could Jack’s dream of finally finding someone be on the verge of reality, he damn well hoped so.  He hurriedly replied, telling her all the things she wanted to hear.

She had read that he was contemplating leaving and stated that it wouldn’t be the same without him if she did indeed come back and he knew.  He knew this time, she’d got him good, and there was no way he could even think of leaving, not now, not even if there was the slightest possibility of her returning.    She had raved about how much she’d missed him, their nights of crazy drinking and the antics they enjoyed but then came silence.  It was that long stony now familiar silence that often came immediately after Jack had put his heart on the line and the black cloud returned and slowly plans were being hatched about a plan B, a new place to escape too, a place very far away from here.  He poured through a veritable odyssey of websites, getting information and making plans and slowly a plausible plan was in place but was it really a life he could live.  It was something that needed a lot of contemplation, a lot of thought, a mountain of information to ponder.  He slumped on his sofa, set some music up to help him in to a good place in his mind and proceeded to smoke a joint of not inconsiderable strength to help stimulate any unusual insights.  His mind raced; what would happen if he did leave?  Would he be giving up on the idea of ever finding love or was staying here stealing him of a life that could make him happier; it was this duality upon which the argument swung and he knew it was this that needed answering.   He needed to work out what was more realistic; happiness in a new life, far from here and forever alone, or with a woman who could love him without inflicting the usual round of heartbreak, insanity and loneliness that had come after every other woman he’d loved.  It was a tough call and it took some time but the romantic won out and a few weeks later, and just in time for Christmas, his dream came true with her return.  She looked even more beautiful, with her now blonde hair tight in a ball on the top of her head, a flowing dress that showed off her curves in all the right places and, most tempting of all for Jack a pair of fishnet stocking clad legs, that hinted at a night of wild passion.  That first night he held her tight knowing he never wanted to let go, not in this lifetime.


Bradford Middleton was born in south-east London in the summer of 1971 and this is his second appearance at the Cavalcade of Stars.  When he’s not writing stories about Christmas he writes poetry and fiction on a lot of other subjects.  His debut novel ‘Dive’ was published last year by New Pulp Press and his debut poetry chapbook ‘Drink Drank Drunk’ came though Crisis Chronicles Press and will shortly be followed by a new one entitled ‘A Life Like This Ain’t For The Faint-Hearted’ through Holy & Intoxicated.  If you wish to stalk him on Twitter try @beatnikbraduk

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The Moment

The Moment

By Laura Zucca-Scott

The truce finally came

“Now this is the moment:

Good or Bad, I don’t know”

Watching the sunset

Embraced by a faint rainbow

Not far from our temporary home

We waited in silence for a while

Mom looked in the distance

I remember when

Dad refused to cut the apricot tree

“Give it more time,” he said

“Just give it more time.”

And one summer day

After he was long gone

We marveled at the fruits

So abundant and delicate

Under the new rain

We waited for a long time

It was never good again

Not the way we envisioned

Missing someone so much

Never feeling whole

But in time we learned to love again

And hope for a future


By war

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Sayantan Dasgupta Debuts


Halfway across a sea where the waves desire to touch the intangible sky,

My love awakes with those valiant upsurges.

Early in a winter’s morning when the parched branches buried deep into the snow,

My love awaits with the upcoming spring.

My enshrined love would leap from the soil and vanish into the air of adherence.

It would infiltrate through hollowness till it reaches your consecrated heart.

My love flies on the wings of a butterfly and turns into nectar within a flower.

It would embrace the scarlet sky and free the wind with its aromatic invasion.

Miles into a desert where an incapacitated flower wearied by the impetuous wind,

My love approaches with the faraway clouds.

Deep into a forest where a slender river lost its way through the shrubs,

My love pleads with the roar of an ocean.

My resonating love would impart from the Sun and diminish with a liquescent candle.

It would spread the horizon, until the stupendous sky falls down and submerges into you.

My susceptible love would travel through the ruins of empires and infiniteness of the space.

It would gather all the souvenirs of time and turn the galaxy into your dwelling place.

Sayantan Dasgupta is a 23 year old boy from Kolkata, West Bengal, India. He holds a Bachelors degree in English Literature from the University of Calcutta. He persuaded his Masters degree in Linguistics from the same university. His poem was previously published in The Commonline Journal. He writes poems, essays and short stories in both his mothertounge Bengali and English.

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Bobbie Troy

Flower Child Again

By Bobbie Troy

the lines
around my eyes
have become furrows
big enough to plant
vegetables or flowers
I choose flowers
so I can peek at them daily
and remember the sixties
when I was a flower child

Discovery (in the Sixties)
By Bobbie Troy

we thought we were
discovering ourselves
in our college years
when we drank red rose tea
and cheap chianti
smoked plenty of pot
provoked our professors
marched against the vietnam war
made love, love, love
‘til we dropped
read ginsberg and plath
levertov and patch
listened to dylan and baez
collins, hendrix, and joplin
and popped pills to keep in the groove

but what we discovered
was really an illusion
that could not be sustained
when we “grew up”
and mommy and daddy
weren’t payin’ the bills any more

If Sex Is on the Menu
By Bobbie Troy

if sex is on the menu
let’s have it for dessert
we’ll have a nice long dinner
and relearn how to flirt

we are not too old
to want
but mature enough
to wait

so if sex is on the menu
let’s have it for dessert

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A.J. Huffman Returns

I Am Crystal

ball.  Clear orb
of glass.  See into me.
See through me.  I am not
what you think.  I am smoke,
mirrored parlor trick, but still
the future you seek.

Treasured Island

Trapped inside lagoon,
green vs. blue,
but the wind wins,
raises the point
of imperfection, until color
becomes suitable
enough to counter current’s flow.
My Mother Covered My Bed

with junk food.  Bags of chips,
nachos, pretzels, candy and cookies—
all leftovers from the Easter baskets.
She said the top of the stove—
their previous home—was getting too hot,
and she didn’t want to continue
to leave them up there.  Despite the fact
there were multiple rooms to choose from,
mine seemed the most logical place.
I watched them lying
against my unmade comforter and shook
my head in frustrated disgust.
Of course it had to be my room, I was
the one currently on a diet.


A.J. Huffman has published twelve solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses.  Her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press), A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing), Butchery of the Innocent (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink) and A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press) are now available from their respective publishers and  She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2400 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

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Troy Cabida Debuts


Yes I know
she loves me

but frankly I lack
the legs formed to be a woman’s throne
for her to perch on when she wants a random kiss
during a summer night out with her friends,
the arms that are also her eagle’s wings
folded in front of her when danger springs;
my body was only ever used to being built for one,

containing muscles that connect me into one
only intact when it comes to heartless cash cow chores,
but like a desert makahiya in a throbbing storm
my humanity will crumble at her presence, a thousand year old war
proved too strong for the wall surrounding it,
it’s simply ran out of white flags to give.

But her eyes continue to whisper to me memories of summer sunrises,
sparkling effervescence, the June warmth she resonates
is simultaneously familiar and brand new,
her thoughts and words married as one,
she is a spirit synonymous only to myths others can’t believe
and she is not at all ashamed of her golden truth,

a light ten times brighter
almost to the point of blinding
compared to the double opinions
that I have of my own two feet, unable to keep still
when standing in front of her

Troy Cabida (b. 1995) is a Manila-born writer currently based in London. Some of his recent poems have appeared on WORK, Pinched, We Are A Website, Walking Is Still Honest and The Ofi Press, where his poem was translated into Spanish. He writes for Migreat and has edited for Siblíní Journal, Thought Notebook and 30 Days Dry by Robert Eric Shoemaker. He has a self-published poetry ebook, Lost in London, released in 2015. Catch him blogging at

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Joseph Grant

One Last Dance By Joseph Grant At the Shady Oaks Hospice, most of the nursing personnel had gone home for the holidays and the convalescent center was unusually light-staffed. Tonight Estelle Harri…

Source: Joseph Grant

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