Poetry

good to be back

by Siddiq Islam turn off the george and there he is,that clumsy git with his smiling gob,and i can’t help mirror my smile to his, the satellite arms of that doughnut duffer,come on mate, don’t be a knob,i bury my hug in his pembroke puffer, and a textless, snapless, three-month vacmelts away. a two-tick job.and […]

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Poetry

On Returning to a Poem Written Several Years Ago

by Joe Lever I find the words in some way different nowTo how I left them – changed, as if one nightA room once known had been rewrought somehow,Familiar but altered. No, not quite: Home stayed as it was left – and I had changedBy increments and instants, now estrangedFrom words I know but do […]

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Creative Writing, Prose

The Cottage Looked Over the Graveyard

by Samuel Skuse I. Long drive home. Roads blur into hours. I pull over twice for coffee but I’m not really tired, just bored. Roads blur into hours. I said that already.  A name comes sharply into focus on an approaching road sign. A warmly smiling face in the crowd, the only face that makes […]

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Culture, Prose, Reviews

Returning to Battles Past

by M. Davies (College Porter) Postponed due to the pandemic from the 7th to the 31st of October, a new play, Into Battle, is to make its first stage appearance at the Greenwich Theatre, London. Written by Hugh Salmon, Into Battle tells the true story of a student feud that took place within Balliol College, […]

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Artwork, Cartoon, Poetry

A New Uniform for the Year

by Monim Wains My adventure began with wet October days.A cap and gown in hand, walking around in a daze. What was I to do at this new place, with all it masses of tradition?After years of hard work, the result of unhealthy ambition? But no, this was mine, to take, to make my own.Off […]

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Poetry

The Blue Flowerpot

by Samuel Skuse A stranger lives in the house I grew up in.I don’t know why I didn’t expect thatBut I didn’t. Just like I didn’t expect them to have redecorated,Remodelled,Removed everything I remembered. Except a blue flowerpot,Perched on the windowsill like a patient catWaiting for its owner to come home. I remember my mum […]

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Poetry

Worms

by Siddiq Islam Caught on the end of the fisherman’s line,Wriggling and tensing and flailing around,Pecked at and flaked by the sharp sharks who dine,Shredding away in the hunting ground, Drying in the sun on the grey, gravel road,Washed from the earth in the heavy storm’s rains,Hearing Death’s calls as the strict heat unloads,Awaiting relief […]

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Poetry

dreaming spires

by Anonymous the sunset yawns its golden arching fingertipsacross the sandstone, and my heart achesfor the sound of church bells in the morning, as the plosive clattering of rush-hour ignitesinto symphony, hubbub, life in the centre of Oxford.the tolls of the bells, spires conspiring, spiralling upwards,the tolls of the bells, in this city of chapels,bird-calls […]

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Prose

Every Beginning Has an End

by Michael Angerer Every end is a new beginning, they say. I have always found that a little ominous – as if there was something not quite right about accepting an ending for what it is, as if we imperatively had to hasten on to the next chapter with no space for pause or respite. […]

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Poetry

Kheturus’ Orchards

by Siddiq Islam Each Sunday, in the heat of August,Baba lets me off the farm,So up the hill I disappear.The parching sunbeams keep me calmAnd make the town below look gorgeous. We meet outside Kheturus’ orchards,Climb the wall and ramble through.Everything’s so real, so clear,On August Sundays, there with you.We lock our arms and wander […]

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Poetry

Footsteps

by David A. Light-footed wanderer treading the faint path Of times uncertain, moments force through you  Impatiently like a half-hearted laugh Passing before the poor punchline is due. Determined traveller walking to no end  Left-right left-Right, uneven pulsing steps,  Withdrawing precious hours ahead to spend Then stumbling all too soon on thorny debts. Brave warrior, […]

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Creative Writing, Prose

Out of the Jungle

by Monim Wains Weeds and vines caught  his ankles as he trudged through the undergrowth. He needed to stay quiet, unseen and unheard, but it was too difficult to slow his breathing. He panted and grunted through every step, drowning in the heat. The air had baked his lips dry and hard, but his skin […]

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Poetry

Restriction

by Siddiq Islam Inside the trunk of every tree,Within each rock and each closed shell,Behind the foreheads that I see,Are chambers where I cannot dwell. No skyward path can I sustain,– but neither can I breach the floor.I’m grounded to this surface plane.I’m bounded in by Nature’s law, And in the homestead, bounded still.Built walls, […]

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Poetry

Relocated

by Anonymous I was carried away in a green and grey chariotfaster than lightning at the break of dawn, fasterthan the years that were to age us.  [motorising distance into something fluid, two hundred miles was mobile, a mere matterof eight hours or so with stops in-between, it seemsthat we lost and shed our smog soaked […]

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Comment, Prose

The Optimisation Mindset

by Martin Yip Which do you prefer: apples or oranges? Suppose you had two pounds to spend on oranges and apples, eache priced at 40p. What would you do, assuming the money cannot be saved for later? Microeconomics studies, among other things, this sort of question that concerns consumer behaviour. It models consumption as an […]

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Poetry

President of the Month

by Siddiq Islam Apparently, I was insensitive.The people shout – they wholly disapprove!A head cannot be representativeOf body parts that will not with it move, And I have been decapitated hence.Detached, disclaimed, denounced, denied and shut.I quit my quarters, only stares to senseUpon the head which has become the butt.

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Poetry

A Broadcast from Earth

by Monim Wains Hello, dear traveller!I come in peace, rest assured,Can you hear me? Can you see me?I have a message for you onboard… We know what it looks like,All the division and despair,Our humble blue marblein a climate of disrepair. Our streets are hauntingly quiet,A pandemic is left unbound,All the questions have no answers;There […]

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College, Prose

Cometh the Moment

by M. Davies (College Porter) The 7th of March 1949 is when it happened. See the photos and the man of the moment: Mr. Percy G. Sheppard – Oriel’s Head Porter from 1927 until he retired due to ill health in 1956.  If the room in the photos doesn’t look familiar to you, sadly at […]

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Poetry

The Butterflies

by Siddiq Islam Close your tired eyes.Listen to the butterfliesTantrumming about. Their great cymbal wingsCrash upon your worryings.Time to let them out. Unscrew your top and see them flitter,Seething, teeming, hateful, bitter.They flounce and fluctuate. But now inhale and watch them pale.They start to fret, and flare and flail.And when you let your held breath […]

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Poetry

Pressure

by Anonymous Tick, tock. Tick, tock.Three hours till the deadline. (It’s not really a deadline – you know your tutor won’t look at your sputterings until at least tomorrow morning,but it’s an arbitrary point in time by which you need An unattainable coherenceWith original sophisticationAnd a whole heap of formatting to prove Your fumes aren’t just the thoughts […]

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Poetry

Three Births

by Kate Whittington She was born in September, attractedButterflies at the end of a damp summer.Could not tolerate drought. The doctor saidThat her bones were radically arranged.This meant stethoscope, or cutting very gently. Without women, bloodWas a ring of ecstasy. The fatherLaboured to black markThe arm, wet the dark scalp, putCold cloth between the legs. […]

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Poetry, Prose

The Itch

by Monim Wains There is a fingernail scratching. Sharp edges carving lines in the back of your skull. Screeching chalk on a blackboard until you press your eyes shut. Not so quick, as it picks and picks at the wound. The scab has been itching from the womb. It is a birthmark, cruel and latching. […]

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Poetry

Your Virus

by Siddiq Islam all packaged inlike loo rolls on shop shelvesawaiting the death tollsto die out themselvesrunning the streetsis a wild bloodhound viciousto whom human neverdid taste more delicious all packaged inand all packaged outamazon cannotdeliver me nowfrom thirsty impatiencefrom growingly direand blatant desire– i am so desirous all packaged inand too long without youin […]

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Artwork, College, Prose

Double Standards, Doubled

by M. Davies (College Porter) Oriel clearly had a part in this story, as did my grandfather: Reverend Reginald Trevor Davies, now best known for being a college Don with various published historical works and twice voted into the role of University Senior Proctor. He was called Rex by his friends and family. Mary Davies […]

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Poetry

To Lie in the Dirt and To Slowly Decay

by Siddiq Islam To lie in the dirt and to slowly decay!A prospect more noble than all other things.The righteous career of corroding away,A subject of earthworms, the Underground Kings. I see your grand temples, with such great potentialTo topple and crumble to dust when they fall,But hanker for something more experiential –I too should […]

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Comment, Prose

Minimalism: A Remedy for Chaos

by Martin Yip Life can be chaotic. It certainly has been in the past year, not least due to COVID-19. Students and workers alike have faced greater challenges to their mental health as they grapple with the new realities and rules that the virus has necessitated, in addition to their ordinary sources of stress and […]

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Creative Writing, Prose

The Mission

by Monim Wains [CW: mild offensive language] There was a red hatchback on the motorway, almost standing still. It was sticky-hot in the driver’s seat. I had turned on the fan, but there isn’t much that it can do when the air it blows in is even hotter. The traffic wasn’t helping, inching along bit […]

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Poetry

Shadows of the Evening

by David A Before the numberless starry orbs up highLooked on me, silent prisoner of the hour,Unblinking as if sleep should hold no powerPatiently shielding me from morning nighThe sky was bright, too warm a burning smile,And in that grave minute when the deep blue Gave way to ashen frowns, I wish I knewWhat moved across […]

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Poetry

An Invitation to Abandon

by Siddiq Islam I Upon my door a little knock.I hardly even hear it, yetSome people whom I’ve barely metAre asking if I’ll join their flock,Accompany their mutual travelsTo where their night unwinds and ravels. But each new tale and anecdoteReminds me of the soft deceaseOf memories I must release,And each fresh lady I devoteSacred […]

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Creative Writing, Prose

The Man in the Hat

by Monim Wains I looked up across the carriage at the man in the hat, swaying from side to side with the travel of the train. The rolling rumble of the wheels on the tracks screeched beneath the city. There was a breeze through the window, but it was stale. Dust and darkness carried through […]

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Poetry

It Has To Do With Silver Nitrate

bi Lily Parmar It began from a notion of object impermanence; it has to do With silver nitrate. It has to do with exposure: A sheet waits quietly in the dark and for becoming Vulnerable for a split second, less—It says it can keep what I saw.  As a machine, it exists solelyOn impermanence.  I took a photo of […]

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Comment, Prose

Familiar Strangers

by Martin Yip Strangers come in many types. The usual understanding of ‘stranger’ refers to people with whom you’ve never interacted. People whose existence don’t matter much to you. There is another type: people whose paths barely have crossed yours, like two straight lines which intersect at one point and go on their separate paths, […]

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Comment, Poetry, Prose

Pondering an Ending Spring

by ‘Siddiq Islam’ Maybe the golden peal of summer flowers,The friends of God and earth, are formed to fall,A fire in some great coming spring of snow. Your dream was but a passionate loneliness,Broken as the sweet noon of morning light.Your fate is closed in a wrathThat flowers upon the fervour of the night. Transcending […]

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Comment, Prose

A Word from the Editors: Strangers

by Monim Wains What is life but a string of fibres tied from you to some stranger, perhaps momentarily intertwined? What is life but the tangling of those threads into the tapestry of your memories? Were we not all strangers to this world on the day when we were born? From that day on, we […]

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College, Prose

Our Name

by M. Davies (‘Oriel’ Lodge Porter) If you look at how we got our name, nowhere does it mention the Porters. We all lose from that if the Porters play an important part in the story. After all, non-academic staff are all part of this institution too. Official college literature says our name “Oriel” (now […]

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Poetry

Insides Torn

by A. M. Wains There is a dissonance in me, A ringing, deep and beating,A bell that sings in my head, clangingloud and overwhelming,Vibrations throbbing through my skull –vision blurred –mind rattled – In the silence. In the quiet calm alone of the dark,In the witching hour before my sleep I am awake. In the […]

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