We ventured outside of the usual parameters with our latest theme of ‘Hope’ so that we can use these stories as part of the Shaftesbury Arts Centre open day on Saturday 3rd September. Do come along and hear us read if you’re around in town- we will be reading between 3pm and 4pm.

Hopes, by Monica D’Amico

Hopes used to be my breakfast,

My habit, my defence.

They woke me up in mornings

And take me ‘round for days.

Hopes used to be my supper,

My shield, my love, my nurse.

They carried me to bed

And stayed as dreams at night.

Hope used to be so natural

to my devoted heart:

hopes lifted up my soul

without any surprise.

Hopes used to be my style

No projects, plans or guides,

Just wishing for tomorrow

And waiting for the stars.

Hope was my long way home,

Dear friend, my goodnight tale.

The sound of thousands lives,

I’d never met before.

Hopes were my unknown journey,

The smell of fresh new paint

They led me to stories,

To landscapes, to new lands.

Hope was a breath of freedom,

A childish walk through clouds,

Hopes made any reality

Impossible to find.

I used to be a dreamer,

A lost soul in the sky.

Now hope, to me, you see,

Has the bitter taste of lies.


Would You Dance, by Becky Bye

“Would you dance with me?”

Those words caught in my throat, ragged, unnatural. I coughed a little, swallowed hard in an attempt to moisten my dry mouth.

I extended my upturned palm, slightly clammy, and hoped that she didn’t notice the tremble of my fingertips.

If she was at all nervous, she didn’t show it.

She smiled sweetly, the corners of that beautiful mouth curving upwards into a genuine smile, revealing perfect teeth and igniting a flash of mischief in her eyes.

Her fingers met mine and I felt my pulse quicken, unnatural heat rising to my face, scalding my cheeks.

She squeezed my hand more tightly and led me to the dance floor where we blended into the crowd.

As she placed her head on my shoulder, we became entwined together and suddenly became the only two people in the room.

Her perfume was intoxicating, lingering in her wake as we graced the floor, sweet and flowery, radiating from her pale skin. It made my head spin and my stomach twist.

I felt her hand slip around my waist and pull me closer, our fluttering hearts pressed together.

“Can I keep you?” I whispered, my lips pressed close to her ear.

She raised her head so that our eyes were locked and I noticed for the first time the splashes of gold hidden within the smooth brown.

She brought her lips to my cheek, delicately planting a secret there. Her skin felt cool against mine as she whispered the three words that sealed our fate.

“I hope so.”


I Hope To Write A Garden, by Richard Foreman

I hope to write a garden. I hope to know its secrets – its rough, intriguing stonework features that hide in clustered grasses; its shrouded walls where dense ivy gives way to clambering clematis and honeysuckle hoards; its winding footways, its nooks and crescents, its shadows and sunlight rippled clearings. I hope to roam into its depths, where purple cones of bright buddleia are cocked on twigs; crimson and many toned azaleas dazzle the eye; and sunflowers – proud of their packed bulk – stand tall above all. I hope to write gazebos, elegantly latticed; enclosed sculptures of wild green men and weathered, sessile buddhas; sudden fountains of clear, cold water.

I hope to write my way into this peace and seclusion, this haven of mild breezes, buzzing bees, and darting damselflies. I hope to write its subtle scents, vying in the warm air for contact with the cilia and damp, inner skin of my nostrils. That jasmine tinge, that florid efflux with its shifts and tints that overwhelm and disappear as if at whim. I hope to write sparrows, thrushes and linnets, warblers and finches, all flitting through my bright, bushy maze, with their songs of cadenced chirrup, jabber and high pitched rill. To see them flash from cover, gather in groups, peck, preen and suddenly scatter as if by an unseen signal.

To plant for my pleasure with no wish to reap, simply to sow and watch as seedling stretches to stem and branch, to leaf and flower and fruit; as seasons work their passage and weather takes its many turns. To watch from unseen vantage, as yellow caterpillar squirms, green shield bug struts and striated snail slowly slides to extend its glistening trail.

I hope to write all this and more, as I stare from my window at a small rectangle of patchy lawn and a straight stretch of stone paving with a scattering of scrawny weeds that grow through the cracks. I look down at the unforgiving fencing that encloses this arid scrap from the rectangles of my neighbours’ gardens. At the over-sized plastic waste bins that I have nowhere else to store. At the bin bags of clippings that I have yet to take to the dump; the corner bed where I do my best to preserve what’s left of some other gardener’s plantings or what the wind blows in to grow. And as I look my vision fades, my words become meaningless marks on the page.

I hope to write a garden, to type its mass of species, to dig beds and seed them with but a biro in my hands. To make terraces of A4 reams, raised beds of notebooks, dictionaries and volumes of reference. To make archways of essays, pillars of poems, ponds of prose and the twisting footpaths of storylines.

I hope to write a garden.