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COVER IMAGE “LYNDHURST” SHINWOOK KIM
ALLITERATI ISSUE 8
We’ve had a busy summer here at HQ. Our editors have spent the past few months wandering all around the UK, Europe and New Zealand. Literary Editor, Sarah Skinner, and Art Director, Paul Johnson, both graduated over the summer and have moved on to new projects. We’re very sad to see them go, but wish them the best of luck on their new adventures! Each quarter we receive so many amazing submissions, it gets harder and harder to choose which ones to include. One of the most rewarding aspects of our work here at Alliterati is the variety of pieces we receive from all over the world and all walks of life. This time around we feature work from India to New Jersey, Cardiff to Korea, and all the many places in between. We have professors, students, previously published and new on the scene, and each one offering a unique glimpse into the world and experiences of the artist. We’d like to thank all of our contributors, readers and supporters for helping Alliterati continue to grow. If you haven’t yet, be sure to find us on Facebook, Twitter and read more about our editors and contributors on the Alliterati webpage.
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CONTENTS LITERATURE 7 INTERMEZZO ALLISON DAVIES
46 DROWNING IN REVERSE LAUREN PIFER
10 I HEAR STEVE KLEPETAR
48 SECRET FEAR NO 1 W. M. LEWIS
12 UNFOLDING INTO ART SALLY GRADLE
51 THE PSYCHIC DRAFTS OF THE TELEPHONE DIRECTORY JON STEINHAGEN
18 REVELATIONS RENEE PICKUP 24 AMPHIGOURI PATRIOTIQUE VITTORIA PRINCI 30 THE CHAVYWOCKY ADAM BUTLER 32 A NEAR SLEEP EXPERIENCE DWIJAL MEHT 40 THE PEACH STONE JESSICA WRIGHT 42 TO US - SYNTHESIA KAT ZUFELT
56 THERE ARE ALWAYS ALTERNATIVES LILI LEADER 58 THE WATCHMAKER’S LOVER LAUREN PIFER 63 HOW YOU LOOK AT IT OLGA WOJTAS 67 MISS THING KYLE HEMMINGS 74 THERE’S A KIND HEART ADAM BUTLER
CONTENTS ART 6 WORK NO 14 TIMOTHY ALEXANDER FORSTER
50 PWLL MAWR JACKIE SHACKSON
11 OGMORE HANNAH MORRIS
54 WATCH WITH FATHER ANNA SEBASTIAN
14 EDEN MATT PICKERING
55 YOU COULD MAKE AN EFFORT AT BEING CIVIL ANNA SEBASTIAN
16 ROATH PARK CONSERVATORY HANNAH ELLIS 28 SLEEPER SERIES SARAH-LOUISE WILKINSON 36 LETHARGY I JADE GABB 37 LETHARGY II JADE GABB 38 BRILLIANTLY DESPAIRING NEIL CRAVER 44 LIMITS OF REPRESENTATION NEIL CRAVER 49 DOOR NO 2 & 3 MINJI KIM
60 MID OFF PAUL CARPENTER 62 ICELAND KEITH MOUL 66 THE DEAD SEA ALICE JONES 71 ACCEPTABLE IN THE 80’S MOHAMED KAHOUADJI 72 UNTITLED 2 KYUNGMIN LEE 73 PIECE 3 ZOE MOLLOY
WORK NO 14 ď Ž Timothy
INTERMEZZO 1 Allison Davies
I’m desperate for a piss. Pressure’s building but I know it won’t come. Bladder’s locked up tight, sphincter clenched like an angry fist, like that woman’s mouth, the one behind the counter. Cat’s arse face. Should have been home now, safe, bathwater running, bubbles building, wiping steam off the mirror so it won’t dry streaky. Should have been there behind three inches of solid oak, all five bolts locked and loaded, not wedged into a corner of the seventh circle, knees drawn up, steaming brown swill untouched on the grease ridden table in front of me. It’s the cup see. Dirty where she touched the rim. Varnish all chipped on her nails and that mouth; a dry, sucking, smudged red hole in her face. But the coffee buys me a place out of the rain. Pure cold needles it is out there and not a taxi in sight. I’m shrinking every inch of my six foot four down into the seat, trying not to be noticed. Wouldn’t want anyone to remember me, later. There’s a gang of lads by the counter, wearing shorts and Union Jack t-shirts. Stag do. One of them’s dressed as a giant pink rabbit, or the ghost of one. He’s got the head under his arm. Sir Walter Rabbit. Who goes out on the piss in their gym kit? They’re chatting up Cat’s Arse, laughing, talking too loud. She’s leaning over, flashing her cleavage. Skin’s leathery, dry as bats’ wings, stretched across pneumatic tits. Got to be falsies, bouncing away at the bottom of that long white neck. Underneath the table my fingers twitch. I imagine laying them gently, one by one around her neck and squeezing, squeezing tight until the veins in her face bulge and her throat snaps like a winter branch in my hands. She’d put up a good fight, this one. Strong. Some of them do, but there’s always that moment when they know, when we’re staring into each other’s eyes, and the fight goes out of them. It’s like they’re giving me permission. 7
My bladder’s bursting. I’m going to have to brave the bogs in a minute. It’ll be foul – a yellow streaked trough and a knackered condom machine hanging off the wall. Sod it. I’ll piss in the street if I have to. It’ll be cleaner out there. I’ve left my wipes on the train so I can’t even clean my hands properly. Bon Iver’s noodling away to himself on a shitty sound system – too much middle, not enough bass and the CD’s scratched so every now and then it skips and bonny lad Bon’s stuck in a loop. Sink of blood. Sink of blood. Sink of blood. The lads have parked themselves at the next table, still laughing, swearing, the usual banter. I can smell them, sweat, beer and above it all like a Faure descant a high pitched, thready note. Testosterone, and now my balls ache for a different reason, because even in this filthy, hideous shit-hole, he’s beautiful, a comet tracking overhead through jet blue darkness on an August night. I lick my lips and imagine how he might taste, the feel of his skin moving on mine. Shoulders stiffen and he turns round. Lapis eyes set deep in pale skin, nose bent slightly to one side like it’s been broken and not set right. He turns back to his mates and I catch the tail end of a sentence, ‘...sad old bender.’ Snorts of laughter. ‘You’ve pulled there Robbo.’ from Walter Rabbit. Ah, but I could show them a thing or two, even now. Dirty windows are wet both sides; steam and rain and the world beyond is a blur. The door nearly jumps off its hinges and a hen party tumbles in, pink tutus, perma-tans, the bride wearing L plates, though she’ll know it all; how to slice and where to put the blade. Sharp, cutting things, women. But I know how to blunt them. I’m an old hand. Can pick and choose. Should I? Tonight? It’s good in the rain. Softer. Desperate for a piss first though. Desperate.
I HEAR 1 Steve Klepetar
I hear that ropes, coiled neatly in their dark garage, have grown eyes, and even snakes have learned to fear these frozen tubes of earth. I hear that winter has failed and the man stuck wearing his porkpie hat looks ridiculous on stilts. I hear that he has fallen in with a bad crowd, that his nose was broken twice by a woman with fringes on her leather coat. I hear that he has turned off the heat and sleeps fitfully in snow, rubbing his nose when dry skin cries out for more. I hear that eagles live in the belfry of that church just south of downtown, that their prayers disturb the neighbors and the cats no longer play their snarling games along the fence. I hear our town has lost its name, has been DE sanctified, that its sidewalks no longer count as relics or substitutes for magic bones. I hear that often in my dreams, that awful silence, that turning back. I hear the mayor has climbed a ladder and will not come down, I hear his wife has left for Tampa Bay and will not return until the sun burns red behind her garden plot. I hear that bread baked and bathed in a full moon stops a finger bleeding, can heal a blister or a pinched nerve, can cause the arms to fly apart and make the greedy mouths of love behave. 10
OGMORE ď Ž Hannah
UNFOLDING INTO ART 1 Sally Gradle
Artistic activity is neither slavish imitation nor arbitrary feeling; rather, it is free Gestalt formation. -Conrad Fiedler
I once heard a bird imitate the sound of a chain saw, then a cameraâ€™s click, followed by the raucous copy of its nearest neighbor. The bird made his own stage, a hill of dirt, where he fanned his tail and unfurled his perfect performance. All the other birds were amazed. They cocked their heads, wondered at the sound. Yet what happens when this song on the hill is over? No longer mimicking others, what does this artist sing? Is there anything else he can fling at the sky with equal intensity? And what if he does? Will a flood of feeling make it art? At the end of an outpour will he ask the age-old question, Is that all there is? Will he experience loss then, bereft like a faded season? 12
Or is the end of imitation just an opening? What if his sudden silence, his standing alone on a makeshift hill was the opening for art? How might it happen here for anyone who carefully unfolds feathers and a small sound. It could be like this. Art could be here among us.
EDEN ď Ž Matt
ROATH PARK Hannah
REVELATIONS 1 Renee Pickup
Aaron was a beautiful man. Hard lines cut through his soft cheeks. His eyes were dark shots of espresso beneath black brows. When he smiled, his whole face lit up like sun breaking through clouds. Even when we were teenagers, I couldn’t help but smile in response. Those smiles were more precious now. Rare. They never touched his eyes anymore. I loved him like an apocalypse. I had never known a man so heartbroken. It broke mine. When I looked at him and those sad, terrible eyes, my stomach shrivelled inside of me. It hardened into a small rock that shoved up against my diaphragm and pushed a ball of helplessness into my throat. He didn’t love me. I knew that. I knew because he was incapable of love. He hated himself. He hated the world. He had only ever loved one woman, and most of him died when she did. I understood that.
This love was a freight train wreck. Burning acid flowing out of the cracks. The tracks melting and warping.
We had grown up together, playing in the grassy hills behind his parents’ home while our fathers talked business inside. Passing our favourite books back and forth with the dirty parts dog-eared. As we grew older, we applied to colleges together. I was terrified by the idea I would have to decide what to do with my life. He was terrified of taking over his father’s company. My father smoked his father’s smuggled Cuban cigars. His father laughed, poured another drink. Aaron led me up to the attic to get away from the show. Even then, the air went out of the room anytime we were together and didn’t start filtering back in until his eyes met mine. But it was 18
just lust. A schoolgirl crush. He wouldn’t have ever wanted me, anyway, the way the other girls fawned over his good looks and his family’s money. Now, we sat in his kitchen. Always his kitchen. Bare except the small table and the two chairs we sat in. I touched his face and he looked away, but pushed his cheek into my palm. His shoulders sagged under a blue chambray shirt. He sighed, and one corner of his mouth twitched. He only let me do it because even a man who has lost his heart needs a warm touch every now and then. But I did it because I had to. If I couldn’t take him by the shoulders and shake him until he came out of this trance state— If I couldn’t scream into his face that I loved him and all I wanted from life was to know that he loved me— If I couldn’t have that, I had to settle for comforting him.
Love grew, a cancer in my belly. Mutating, taking over. Love like chemotherapy. Kill the cancer. Weaken the host.
Every time I touched him I had to force a smile through the downward push of forty-two muscles trying to frown. He looked back to me. When those eyes met mine, all the breath went out of me. My ribs closed tight around my lungs, crushing them. Threatening to suffocate me in my own emotion. Sometimes, he let me kiss him. He leaned against the counter and I sat at that kitchen table, tapping my foot against the light blue tile floor. I went to him. I put my arms around him and rested my head on his shoulder. He put his hands on my back, fingers splayed, and held me close. For a moment, our lips touched. It should have been perfect, but he was crying. 19
An atom bomb. A mushroom cloud on repeat. Exploding in my chest Ruining my insides.
The smell of upturned dirt and fresh rain filled my nose. A priest stood over the open hole talking of redemption. I tried to listen, but I was watching Aaron, leaning weakly on a cane, weeping openly. The priest was talking about Hell now. I remembered Aaron at twenty-one, standing next to his mother in front of an open grave much like this. When they lowered his father, his mother held a handkerchief to her mouth in a shaking hand. Aaron stood with straight shoulders and his mouth in a tight line. Watching his wife go down on ropes, into her grave, tears flowed freely from his eyes, his cane wobbled and I worried he might fall. A hard sob wracked his body. He winced and clutched at the still fresh burns under his dress shirt. I wrung my handkerchief in my hands, seeing only him. I wanted to go to him. I wanted to hold him. I wanted to lie to him and tell him that everything was going to be okay. He only grew more withdrawn. He didn’t speak to his mother or the men at his father’s company—his company. But he would call me, sometimes drunk, and ask me to come over for coffee. He would come walking up the brick path to my house with a bottle of white wine and sit on my front porch to cry.
A murder of crows living inside of me Cawing in cacophony Flapping their wings hard. Fighting to come up through my throat all at once.
Clenched fists so tight I could feel my heart beat between the first and second knuckle. They were clenched the day it all changed.
They were clenched the day it all changed. I had been hauling boxes of books from the attic, into the back of my truck. Some were my father’s, some were mine. They were all covered in dust. Sweat ran down my face, my hair half out of a ponytail. I was wearing a battered old Minor Threat tee shirt that hung off of my body. I turned to see him coming up the walkway to my house. The box of books dropped from my hands, knocking over a planter of petunias, spilling dirt all over my white wooden porch. He stood on the bottom step. He was wearing a button down shirt so white it glowed in the afternoon sun, untucked, sleeves rolled up. He was carrying a bouquet of roses the same pure white. He was smiling. The last time I saw him his eyes were dark, staring into someplace I couldn’t see. The lids drooped, drawing his face down. Aging him. That day, standing on the bottom step of my porch, his eyes were bright, focused. The three days’ growth of stubble I had grown accustomed to had been shaved. His skin was smooth. The lines that had been driven into his cheeks from his constant sullen expression had disappeared, replaced by smile lines that should have been much deeper. My nails sank into my palms. Ten crescent shaped red marks telling me to give a friendly smile.
Ignore the crows. Ignore their claws in my insides. Ignore their black cloud of screams.
I focused on the heartbeat in my fists instead of the mushroom cloud pushing up through my throat, stinging eyes that wanted nothing more than to cry big, hot tears. ‘I brought you flowers.’ He extended the bouquet to me, his smile not faltering. I forced my fingers to unfold and reached out for them. ‘Why?’ I put on a smile. He looked down at his feet, hunching his shoulders up, a small smile still playing on his lips. I couldn’t resist my need to touch him. I reached out and put my free hand on his shoulder, his eyes trailed my
arm up to my face, our eyes met. ‘I love you like it is going to kill me,’ I said. His smile fell. I pulled my arm back, hand to my mouth, wishing that maybe, if I could cover the stupid, stupid lips that said those words, the words wouldn’t matter. He let out a long breath, and stepped onto the middle step. We were almost eye-to-eye. ‘I don’t know how,’ he whispered. I wanted to say something, anything, but my hand was still over my mouth, not hiding the way my face contorted, squeezing hot tears down my face. ‘I don’t know how,’ he repeated, ‘to love you while I still love her.’ A flower wilting in stop motion. Folding in on itself. Crumpling. Turning brown. I was frozen but for the tears running down my face and over my hand. I swallowed hard, and forced my hand from my mouth. ‘I know.’ He smiled again, not wide, just enough that his smile lines touched where crow’s feet would be some day, ‘But you love me anyway.’ ‘Like it’s the end of the world and we’re the only people left.’ He put his hand on my face. This time it was my mouth that twitched up in a self-conscious half smile, and my eyes that couldn’t bear to meet his. He stepped up, level with me, and put his mouth on my tweaked up lips. The roses fell down the white wood steps. I put my hand on the back of his head and kissed him.
I kissed him, a tidal wave crashing into a seaside town. A forest fire consuming everything it touched. A tornado tearing through an abandoned playground. 22
When he pulled his lips away, I held his head still. Afraid to let him go. Afraid of the train. Afraid of the apocalypse inside of me. Afraid that if he walked away now the fire would consume me from the inside out, leaving nothing but ashes. The storm that had been raging in him seemed calm. The one inside of me was blowing out of control. ‘Let’s go inside,’ he kissed me again, his lips soft and forgiving on mine. His hair was warm from the sun and tickled between my fingers.
The tumour was shrinking. The atom bomb had failed. The crows had shut up.
We walked into my foyer, the front door swinging lazily behind him. He unbuttoned his white shirt, letting it fall to the terra cotta tile. I reached my hand out and touched the puckered, welted skin. I swallowed my tears and looked into his eyes. The fog that had covered them for so long was gone, but I could see the pain in them. He didn’t speak. I didn’t have words. His shame across his abdomen. The reminder of the stupid mistake that had taken his wife and almost killed him. I hadn’t seen him without a shirt since he was in the hospital, sedated and covered in bandages, the day after the house fire. I ran my hands over the scars. He let me. I touched the place where his belly button had been before the skin grafts, the marbled, rough terrain that was his pectoral. I looked back to his eyes and he kissed my forehead. My heart caved in on itself. The support systems went out. A body tired of being strong, a heart letting it all crash in and take me.
A waterfall trickling into a quiet brook. Sunlight bursting through thick trees.
My hand rested over his heart, the soft beat registering on my palm. He put his hand over mine and squeezed, ‘I can learn.’
AMPHIGOURI PATRIOTIQUE 1 Vittoria Princi
She had a swollen belly and waxen skin almost transparent over the ribs, under the shirt and stays and the fleurs de lis she used to pin across her bosom. The smiles she flashed were as white as her pearl necklace and the uniform of my regiment. It wasn’t until you got in at a kissing distance that the foul smell took your breath away; but by then you had your breeches undone, and it was too late to worry about anything else but that part every man must do. She would scream to my ears: sabre sans pitié!, and my ears would keep ringing once we were dressed again and taking a stroll in the gardens, or come the cold, sit by the fireplace and resume our games of chess. It was at Versailles that she gambled, not with me. I was too poor and too honest and we had a deal that no game was to be had between us but one, until a revolt and a war broke out in America where she told me to go. She gave me a medallion with her miniature portrait, for me to always wear. It bore a long-rifle ball that would have gotten my heart and left a bruise the colour of blackcurrant or gangrene. That spread all over my chest, even if my skin turned its usual pale pink in a couple of days. When I came back to her with the rest of Rochambeau’s corps, she said to me there was something in my eyes that made her fear I had fallen sick with some exotic fever at sea. She looked sicker than me, truth to be told. No amount of powder could hide hollow cheeks. Her arms were as dry as broomsticks, the fingers like spider legs with shiny rings. But we still took our strolls together in the gardens, come the fair weather. In winter, she retched from the cold, curled up like an infant. ‘This – this won’t last any longer,’ one day she said. There had to be a cahier de doléance for it too, I replied. She bared her teeth. Greyish, some missing. She picked a habit of having me read her gazettes, snippets from 24
patriots I had met in America, verses from papers that circulated in the coffee-houses. They made her laugh and laughing made her cough hoarser: I hated to hear her mezzosoprano mellow voice croak in that undignified manner, but she would not have me stop. ‘Louis,’ she said one day in ‘89, ‘has become such a hassle. I need fresh air.’ She crawled out of the bed and called for her servants. I was shoved behind a folding screen and stared at the painted decorations – Joan of Arc amidst a line of knights, her sword raised heavenwards, the blade red – till she was dressed up and ready to beckon me. Dear God, her dress… A peasant dress. Gone the hoops, nothing but a white bonnet on her unkempt hair, her feet bare. She looked even hungrier and even sicker. She said, ‘Will you be coming?’ I managed a stammer and couldn’t just look away from her horrible appearance. There was that light which hunger and madness spark in the eyes of people who are about to die, in her own gunpowder-black eyes. ‘So? You won’t?’ ‘Where?’ ‘To France, where else!’ I begged her not to be absurd. When she left, she left without me. I was too awestruck to even go look at her departure from the window. She visited the deputies at the tennis court in Saint-Louis first, I was told by eyewitnesses. Then to Versailles, for the first – and last – time since she’d visited the King and the Queen and the little Dauphin’s deathbed. She was always to be found by the National Assembly every day from then on. I didn’t see her again at night, either: but people said it was her who sang those songs you could hear in the streets, warbling like a fife on a distant battlefield. She was the battlefield. I was ordered with my regiment to stand ready for the Lord knew what. Rabbles everywhere. Someone threw a stone at one of my ensigns, the boy fell off his horse and I don’t know whether he survived. I tossed away my coat and my cockaded hat and rode to the Bastille. I knew I’d find her there, even if the sole thought was enough to tear my stomach inside out like not even the foulest exhalation from the Seine in August. 25
She was there. In the crowd that hauled me down from the saddle and to her feet, kicking me in the loins and taking away my sword and my pistol. Pain left me half-blinded and breathless and I remember I wanted to beg her please let my horse go, don’t let them harm him. She wore the same bonnet over her wild dark curls, her cheeks were plump and reddened, one hand streaked with gunpowder on her hip, sweatdrops shining on her skin. She gave me the most wicked smile I had ever seen, her teeth glinting white and whiter still next to the black powder that dotted her face too. ‘Monsieur is late to the ball.’ There was a roar of laughter all around me and more kicks. When I could see again through the tears that veiled my sight, I met her stare, so close to my face I didn’t even see the mob all around nor the walls of the Bastille looming. ‘You came to stay with me then?’ She had her answer. I had a stab to my heart, and then several more. I was trampled underfoot, dragged in an alley, rummaged through and stripped of all the tatters my clothes had been reduced to. Mangy dogs were the first to take notice of my abandoned body. Until the earth shoveled over me blocked the sunlight, I harboured a hope to see her again. Perhaps smiling. If not to me, to the patriots I share the eternal rest with. Mais rien au monde n’est plus impitoyable que l’amour de la France.
THE CHAVYWOCKY 1 Adam Butler
‘Twas brilliant, and with slutty clothes Did desire and dribble for the babe; All flimsy were beasty hoes And roam hands out to outrage. “Beware the Chavywock, my son! The cause of blight, the spores they hatch! Beware the Essex bird, and shun Her diseased mouth and her snatch!” He took his mortal sword in hand: Long time the mephedrone foe he fought - So staggered he ‘til impotence free, And buzzed around post-snort. And as in dopish thought he stood, The Chavywock, with eyes of all glazed, Came whiffing at his bulgy wood, And gurgled as he came! In, out! In, out! And though and though His mortal blade went spitter-splat! He left her spent and with her scent He went triumphing back. “And hast thou lain the Chavywock? Wash your hands, my squeamish boy! O Saturady! Horrah! Hooray!”
A NEAR SLEEP EXPERIENCE 1 Dwijal Meht
My name is Ritika. And I’m an insomniac. Except for Tuesday, when they play silent movies on the radio. But mostly, I’m an insomniac. The life of the insomniac is different from the ‘sleep-abled’ in that, there is no sleep involved whatsoever. Some insomniacs have been known to sleep privately at parties; influenced by the bad company of other sleepers, they are urged and tempted. ‘Just a little nap,’ a golden-toothed party-goer might say. ‘Care to make this a bit more comfortable,’ a skinny young girl might say as she dims the lights and eyeballs you to a 1000-count Egyptian bedspread. But these are the wayward souls. It is fashionable these days to be seen resting in mixed company. One can only hope that they ‘Wake up and smell the coffee’ in that they ‘Stay up and drink it’. But there are the good insomniacs, or ‘sommies’ as no one likes to call them, who have each, dedicated themselves to the cause. As Vice President of the Bombay Chapter of Humans Against Sleep (HAS), I myself have pledged to stay puffy-eyed and dazed for my people. Every day, a young red-eyed kid walks in asking to join the organization. ‘I’m everything you need!’ he’ll say, ‘I come from a family of non-sleepers. My grandfather was awake for most of the mid-40s!’ Full of enthusiasm, these kids thought they knew it all. They’d do everything to emulate their heroes. But did they know what their ancestors had to do to bring them socially to where they are today? Did they know the torment and the abuse they had to take to bring freedom to their people? No, these kids just walked in with their big ideas. Things were much different only a decade ago. One could not stay awake respectfully as one may now. There had to be pretence and lies. Men would lay awake in bed for hours, waiting for their ceilings to flake off so they’d have something exciting to look at. Wives lied to husbands, tossing and turning each night, yawning falsely. Most of them 32
didn’t even know how to yawn properly. They’d simply open their mouths and make a loud sound. ‘You must be really sleepy, honey!’ their husbands would croon. Children would get caught by their fathers. ‘I’m sorry, daddy! I’ll try to be a normal boy’ Aversion therapy was a popular practice. Eye-masks were sold! But there came a time for our people, as it does for all who have been suppressed for too long, to fight back. Young men and women congregated at underground meetings on the fifth floor; our people devised plans and executed them. They’d have lunch every night and supper in the afternoon. Breakfast was taken in the mornings so as not to cause a stir among the ‘sleepers’. The issue of Tea-Time however, was highly controversial. The insomniacs separated over the issue. The right wing Sommies felt that it must be taken at about five in the evenings and the leftists felt this was subservient behaviour feeding into the oppression of the dominant. Young boys of 16 and 17 were seen snacking at hours as bold as 2 and 3pm. Needless to say; the media had a riot over the whole thing. There were several movements conducted around the issue. Marches were held in protest. Although, this didn’t do very much for their morale as walking was tiresome and they lost many of their men to exhaustion and their untimely sleep. General Wakesperson covered every last soldier in blankets while the band played ‘Rock-a-Bye Baby’. The General was quoted saying, ‘For every man they put to his sad temporary rest, we will wake up three!’ In fact, ‘Three for One’ became the people’s slogan. T-shirts, mugs, mouse pads, key chains and street graffiti was illustrating ‘Three for One’. Things took a turn for the worse as the battle for civil rights went out on the streets. Parents got worried for their children. There was talk of creating a ‘special facility’ on the outskirts of the city for ‘Wakeys’. That’s what they’d call us. ‘Wakeys’; always rounding the ‘w’ emphatically. The newspapers started rumour-mongering. ‘Wakey seen handing teenager espresso in broad daylight. Alarm companies miffed’ The truth about that story was quite different. That girl was well over eighteen and the espresso had a dash of milk in it. But the media 33
loves a good story. Times were hard for the insomniacs back then. They were ostracized, treated like animals! Insensitive goons would toilet-paper Sommie neighbourhoods with messages like, ‘Go to Sleep!’, ‘God hates Wakeys’ or ‘It’s hardly healthy. Ask your doctor today!’. They’d hammer pillows and cotton shorts to the homes. In my personal experience I have even heard of a little boy who had a Swiss Documentary on war dumped into his bag by cruel classmates. The boy had to be cured through hypnosis, which without the ‘you are feeling sleepy’ is quite a conundrum. We lost General Wakesperson to corruption and money-laundering. The whole system was defunct overnight. We had lost all hope. Cleverly, the Government took this opportunity to draw up papers. The deal they offered was a minimum of 5 hours of sleep every week and each ‘Wakey’ would get his basic rights and protection. They still wouldn’t be allowed to drive or operate heavy machinery but their vote was important to them. Our people were defeated. There was no hope, no future in endless struggle and losing our women and children to Sleeper men who would lure them with Victoria’s Secret lingerie and cuddly Teddy Bears. So the news broke across media. The revolution was over. I am sure, dear readers, that you all must have heard ‘All great wars involve great sums of money’. Such was the case with the war against sleep as well. And it was just that, a war against sleep as a given; without option, without consent. It was never a war against Sleepers. We liked the sleepers. Roads have less traffic at night, we’re zipping along everywhere, it’s fabulous! So a couple of the men and women from the old revolution decided to take matters into their own hands. Their leader was an old, haggard man, too tired to fight for their full rights and would sign the Governments treaty. And after all, it was only a treaty. If any of the clauses were broken, the time taken by the required paperwork before action would put the best of them to sleep. So if it was money that won the support of the people. It was money they would have. 34
Now, you must understand, readers, that time of the revolution was also the time that Infomercials were raring to break into the market. John Infomercial had a dream: to sell useless things in the middle of the night. And his inheritance passed down from the Infomercials’ of Yore provided him with the cash to make that dream come true. Thus, the revolutionaries set up a meeting on a cold May morning. J. Infomercial was thoroughly impressed by their business proposal and taken aback by their dedication. Promptly, he phoned the head of State and expressed his desire to do business on night-time Television. Smelling money, the Government was on. The treaty signing was stalled and within the next three months, it was legal to be an insomniac. The social scenario of course, took years to gradually change. With help of liberal novelists, film-makers and thinkers, the image of the insomniac began to evolve. Ottis Ramchandani’s legendary documentary film, ‘While you were Sleeping’ captures the lives of ten insomniac families from 10 states, and films their everyday lives for ten weeks. The movie reveals how similar the Sommies are to regular folk. This movie, followed by many other fictionalized versions (‘De-caff for my Hubby’ and ‘Watching her sleep’) sensitized people to Sommie culture and even promoted mixed marriages. We have come a long way, from dark beginnings. And I am proud to have been a part of the movement. So every time a smug teenager asking to change the system comes into my office, all I say is this: You lay awake today, because others did before you!
LETHARGY I Jade
BRILLIANTLY DISPAIRING Neil
THE PEACH STONE 1 Jessica Wright
like a persimmon instead of a peach she rolled into herself and found no stone.
she was saddened by this, for she wanted a stone, winking eye-Ââ€?shaped in her indigo centre, creased with gullies and mountainous pathways into which her thoughts might wander carrying antiquated compasses and lead pencils. in a hot parking lot where the cars were melting and people lapped at glass windows she found it, a stone left behind from a peach that someone forgot. she picked it up hurriedly (nobody saw her) and nobody saw as she pressed that peach stone deep deep into her own skin.
TO US - SYNTHESIA 1 Kat Zufelt i. every sound excites a burst of color; an exploding firework, dancing and twirling.
ii. your voice tastes of mangoes; sticky and sweet, caressing my senses. your flavor is personal. iii. the letters all become a different personality. “T” is crabby and “I” worries. “J” is strong and mighty.
iv. closer and farther away; each number becomes its own plane and point in space; perfect details. v. all the numbers form lines becoming an army of curvy rows, swirling round and round. a perfect pattern. vi. letters take on colors, each and every one a different hue, a different shade, forming rainbows of words.
LIMITS OF REPRESENTATION Neil
DROWNING IN REVERSE 1 Lauren Pifer
vii. I still have your phone.
vi. The boardwalk carnival was shut down a few months later, roped off and boarded up like a condemnation of joy. The Ferris wheel rose high above the skyline, towering in silent reminder. I had to look at it every day on the ride to school. But it still hurt a little less than the pitying glances cast my way when no one thought I was looking. v. The funeral was on a beautiful, balmy, sunny day and somehow that made it all the worse. The wind would pick up a little and ruffle your goldspun hair and I could hope, just for a moment, that you were still here. That the hollow thumping in my chest would be solid again. That we could still have a future, a family, a wire terrier puppy with an oversized backyard to play in, that we could have all those things. Together. iv. It was a cold, white room. I don’t know why hospitals are so cold. Or maybe it was just me - maybe it was just me trying to siphon out all of my warmth and channel it into you. iii. The TV was too loud. That’s what I would remember later. The TV was too loud but the lobby was too quiet as I waited with your parents in the lobby for news. ii. I didn’t see the crowd that left the boardwalk and gathered on the beach. I barely registered the flash of red and blue lights - I only saw you, skin pale as the stretcher they were loading you on to, blue shirt stained black like a death sigil. i. Someone was drowning. You cast an arm out pointing - there was someone out there in the dark water drifting further and further from shore.
You asked me to hold your cell phone.
SECRET FEAR NO 1 1 W. M. Lewis
They will use poetry as a weapon against me one day. And my words will become ancient friends who crossed me, the slights magnified by time. I wonâ€™t be able to look them in the eyes or be in the same room or relax in their company. And each word will then age us incrementally, rather than save us. As they should.
DOOR NO 2 & 3 Minji
PWLL MAWR Jackie
THE PSYCHIC DRAFTS OF THE TELEPHONE DIRECTORY 1 Jon Steinhagen
We live in an era where everything that was always possible but thought to be impossible because of limits is now possible because there are no limits to what can now be extracted from the ether. Among the new possibilities is one tiny thing now being explored with trepidation and scholarly dubiety: the concept of the â€œpsychic draft.â€? A psychic draft is an unwritten origin, the thought process preceding the mechanical act of committing thoughts to paper. Psychic drafts are how everyone who ever was who ever thought how everyone dreamed up everything and anything in the first place before writing it down or typing it out. Yes, it is all out there and up there and has been since the dawning of articulate thought and it is now up to us, if we choose, to net them. In this era of culpability and compendium, it is in this manner that we may now reach beyond the documented origins of every great, near-great and not-so-great concept of our or any other time. We may now explore the undocumented beginnings of everything and the bonus is that it is all absolutely free. For us, the initial startled gallop to the psychic drafts of Shakespeare, Curie, Dante, Sophocles, Dickinson, Wordsworth, Lincoln, Hawking, Jobs and Einstein is preempted by a desire to discover and understand, if possible, the many voices of the conspirators of the grandest work of literature known to mankind. The telephone directory. Here it begins. To corral. To collect. To include. To engulf. This means it will be biased. Not biased no it will be initially biased and it will be exclusionary it will be exclusive at first it will be elite to begin with. Elite in that to be included one must have a telephone. No. Having a telephone implies having a telephone number and that does not always follow. One may own a 51
telephone and not have a telephone number, but that is akin to having a faucet and not having any water. The thought now is that as everyone needs waters everyone will eventually need a telephone and everyone who needs a telephone will naturally need a telephone number. There is no regulatory use of water, there is no law stating that water must be used in a daily or otherwise fashion and there is no regulatory use of the telephone. Why is this. Water is a necessity. Water. Water was here before us and will be here after us or not and perhaps while it may or may not be here after us it is certainly in part responsible for us being here in the first place. When we speak of the telephone we can use water terms we can say channels and currents and rivers and oceans because it will it is bound to be a necessity, an everywhere. For whom are we writing this book of telephoning and what does it say. We are writing this to inspire people now and people eventually. We are writing this book to this tome this volume of telephoners for now and later and now it is exclusive if we know anything about growth and expansion and competition and conforming and necessity it will be inclusive ergo we are writing it for everyone. A book for everyone. A book of everyone. A book by everyone. Are we will we be writers or transcribers. Are we in it. Are we part of it. Are we essential to it. Everyone is a part of it. There is no part of it there is a whole an entirety that is there will be. How wonderful then a work of Art a piece of Literature appealing to everyone. How wonderful a work of Art collecting ultimately everyone. How wonderful all are captured and known yet that is important everyone will be known and found and located and yes this is a work of Art a capturer of everyone but only for a limited time. Yes it is Time then that will be that is the grand unseen author of this eternal ongoing thing this book this far-reaching complete work of Art appealing to and including all. Yes how wonderful to let Time reshape and revise its content for it is known is foreseen that one who has a number will not always have a number for one who is now who is here at present will at some future point perhaps as early as tomorrow one who is here now will someday no longer be. We must prepare for or think about the perpetuity of our numbers. The thought now is and this is a random yet basic example is one now is number 12345 then when
this one is no longer then 12345 will go to another one or perhaps and this will occasionally be the case 12345 will go to the one who is a relative of that one who is no longer but this is not a certainty. Yes we inherit names we can inherit numbers. Yes what occurs now is the certainty that numbers are stronger than us. They are hardier. Is this because there are so few and being so few they are rare and being so rare they are unique. They are they are 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 and there is nothing more that can be said about them other than in this way they are not like us but in combination they are inexhaustible and perhaps in that way they are indeed like us. The thought then is that this wonderful work of Art we are about to create with the assistance nay supervision of Time and Necessity and the natural progress of things meaning us meaning existing and not existing meaning three actual stages meaning first not existing then existing then not existing again only with a slight difference from the first not existing in that with the second not existing a mark has been left, a remembrance. The thought now is that this wonderful all-inclusive global galaxial evolving revising adapting expanding popular work of Art is the wedding of us and numbers meaning the final transient uniting of two unique entities meaning unique when combined in endless combinations. The unification of us the finite and numbers the finite. The bringing together of us regardless of everything separating us. A way for us to be out there, to be found, to be known, to be open. Oh yes how wonderful now that this will happen and go on happening and now all of us can be discovered as long as we want. How wonderful.
WATCH WITH FATHER Anna
YOU COULD MAKE AN EFFORT AT BEING CIVIL Anna Sebastian
THERE ARE ALWAYS ALTERNATIVES
1 Lili Leader
I looked up the synonyms pang, throb, anguish, misery none quite adequate affliction is closer, better defined providing shape to the problem psychologists don’t want to solve because, as popular opinion holds, grief is precious, makes us human and we can’t dull it away can’t forget to mark the movement of planets in a universe lacking pertinence, can’t smash all the clocks to avoid that truculent ticking no, the psychologists say, we must suffer through it must bear the herculean weight with neither pills nor promise of relief
so we seek comfort in Johnny or Jack or JosĂŠ, sometimes a Captain named Morgan we substitute addiction for attachment and defy any to rectify the error and when it comes again thereâ€™s the thesaurus to offer alternative avenues of address for the deep and abiding ache.
THE WATCHMAKERâ€™S LOVER 1 Lauren Pifer
Your clockwork appendages were cold to the touch. The industrial complex you called your mind was grating gear against gear where the unoiled works kept clacking away; your atrium was a tick-tocking machine that counted the hours while the rust settled in. The mainspring spiraled round your mechanical heart tensed so tightly it showed in your face, in your quivering hands, your troubled eyes; the unlubricated escapement never released, oxidized into place from the ages of neglect. The joints of your fingers corroded with arthritis and green rust curled around curls of ebauched neophytes uncalibrated to your pendulum swing. Your flinted eyes filed flaws away, groomed for the fluxing process.
Oscillating gears locked into place, before your backlash recoil forced the dual mechanism apart with shallow breaths emerging from beneath tangled sheets until dawn glances from the window and your mainspring rewinds itself, annealed, awaiting the next uncoiled night.
MID OFF Paul
HOW YOU LOOK AT IT 1 Olga Wojtas
So what I’ve got here is something like a template, an outline of a picture. We don’t yet know what this picture is about, but we’re going to find out when we add colour. The outline is of a young woman, as she throws her head back with an expression of – but we don’t know yet, do we? Colour will lead us to the meaning. And down here, see, at the bottom, there’s something else. A little – well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves by trying to impose an interpretation on it at this stage. Let’s wait and see. First colour. Green. Good. See how that changes things right away? Green is the fairy colour. This must have something to do with fairyland. Look more closely. It’s Janet, heroine of an old ballad. She goes out one day and encounters the elfin knight Tam Lin. He gives her three options. She can give him her gold ring, her green cloak or – what do you think the third option might be? He’s young, he’s gorgeous, think Orlando Bloom. And check out that bottom section I mentioned. Could that be a baby? Now we know what her decision was. He explains he used to be human, but the fairy queen abducted him. If Janet wants him, it’s not going to be easy – the fairy queen will turn him into all sorts of foul and deadly things to make her let go of him. But Janet doesn’t want any other man bringing up their kid. She hangs on, for as long as it takes. And what she’s finally left with is Tam Lin returned to human form. An ecstasy of passion? No, I don’t think that’s likely, do you? She’s already got a child. No, do you see, everything in her body language, it’s her response to the fairy queen. She’s saying: ‘I’m young, I’m gorgeous, he fancied me from the first moment he saw me, I didn’t have to abduct him. You may be a queen, but I’ve got your guy.’ Blue. The deep blue sea. Venezuela, in the middle of its War of Independence. Maria Catalina, daughter of a Spanish grandee, is aboard a fishing vessel, bound for a safe haven in another country. The fishermen, like fishermen everywhere, don’t like having a woman on board, but they’ve been bribed into acceptance.
They’re savvy, they know what they’re doing, they’ve never had a problem yet. And then a storm comes out of nowhere, lightning splitting the black sky, the darkened sea churning round them. The fragile craft veers and yaws. The crewmen are in no doubt of the source of the misfortune. They’ve been paid well, but what use is money if they’re all going to die? They don’t even need to discuss it – looks and gestures are enough. In moments, poor Maria Catalina is dragged from below deck and thrown overboard. They’ll worry about what to tell her father later. What we see here is Maria Catalina going down for the third time, closing her eyes as she says her final prayers. But remember the bottom section? Now that it’s underwater, what can we see there? That’s right, a dolphin. It came from the depths and rescued Maria Catalina and carried her to that safe haven. And the fishing boat sank with the loss of all hands. Beige. No. God, no. No no no no no. That so doesn’t work. You want a beige story, go somewhere else. Red. Yes? Sounds as though there’s a lot of agreement about this one. You’re getting a definite feeling with the black outline and the red, but you think something’s missing. More red. Another slash of red, just across her throat? Here? And the bottom section – you want the figure in red? Okay. No, it’s not Venice. I think some of you are confusing this with Don’t Look Now. This is Antoinette, a dancer in one of the less refined establishments in Pigalle during the fin de siècle years. There’s nothing subtle about the dancing or the decor, hence the black and red costumes, including the scarlet chokers. It’s unlikely that many of the patrons ever think of Stendhal. I’m afraid in those less enlightened times, the management also presents what it believes is an amusing display of persons of restricted growth. The bottom section shows Henri who suffers from dwarfism because of a genetic problem, and has bow legs and curvature of the spine, which the management considers makes him move in a very comical manner. They give him and the other dwarves little red coats to make sure they’re seen when they do their routine. 64
Antoinette and Henri, both used to being gaped at and sniggered at, become close friends, and after the last performance of the night always go to a bar and drink absinthe. They talk about their childhoods, swap recipes for cheap, filling meals, and Henri sometimes tells jokes. In the image here, Antoinette is laughing out loud at one of Henri’s jokes. But it involves a pun and doesn’t translate well from the French. Yellow. Sunshine. A glorious summer day. A glorious bright summer day. Very bright. Yes, the yellow has virtually obliterated the outline, and it’s tricky to distinguish between it and the white background. But I can tell you that this is Jennifer Spencer, who’s just completed a PhD in neuroscience and has got a coveted post in a prestigious university. She’s just starting out, but she’s confident that she’s going to make a significant contribution to research into the way the brain functions, and she wants to forge links with electrical engineers and computer scientists. She’s not obsessive, though, and today’s a day off. She’s out strolling in the bright sunshine before meeting her boyfriend for lunch, when she’s going to persuade him to take a train to the coast and go paddling. The section at the bottom – any ideas? You can’t make it out? Too difficult to see? Absolutely. Strolling in the sunshine, Jennifer Spencer will never know how it happens that her very fine brain is destroyed.
THE DEAD SEA Alice
MISS THING 1 Kyle Hemmings The Origins of Miss tHing
When I was young enough not to remember, I constructed a cardboard robot. Called her Miss tHing. Now I had the power to control by remote. As in Come In. Do this. Was I dreaming or selling lemonade to relatives? Then, as in Now, children, Mrs. C introduced the new girl in class. Her name was Micheline, which was close enough to sound like Miss tHing. We became friends looking out at the world through bicycle spokes. When it rained, we were in separate shopping bags. We traded peanut butter sandwiches for cream cheese, as if any of it were only a matter of degree. I revealed to Miss tHing that she was my robot, that I built her with specific purposes in mind. Over the years, she referred to me as her bubble, something she could float inside of, yet somehow, feel safe. I commanded her to say things that would make me feel important. When she didn’t, or when she spoke of sharing room inside a bubble, I invented the notion of a flat tire. The teacher reminded us to put on our galoshes. High School Me: Can you turn into a vampire with your chemistry set? Her: No, but I can do something worse. I can make you fall in love. They say it only takes a whiff of Paris. Me: If you bit me, what would I taste like? Her: Green apples. But give me more time to think about it. Me: You mean you’d spit me out. Her: Undoubtedly. Hard on the teeth. And you were never good for my stomach. Me: Taste my blood. You’ll love it. 67
Her: I have strong teeth. I might go through bone. Me: Meaning? Her: Meaning you’ll never forget me. In College She writes me. She writes me that she’s doing fine. Or that she might send me a book: Hula Hoops for Dummies. Because I can’t dance with my hips. I read in between the lines: She shares Russian tea with a professor of Comparative literature. She inspects his hands for warts. In bed, they both hear the voice of the desert, of desert monsters. Or they drown in themselves. A matter of degree. She has a thousand guys promising her star magnolias. Sitting on a chaise lounge, on the porch of some converted farm house in Upper Pennsylvania, she sips ice tea and considers the beautiful futility of love. A friend tells her: Glide on the surface of things. There are wide open vistas. Don’t fall in. I drive up in a beat up box on wheels and visit Miss tHing every 7th or 10th weekend. She tells me that one of her friends, a pretty girl with high cheekbones and dangerous curves, had committed suicide. She had an affair with a professor of Comparative Lit. One of them couldn’t let go until they had to. You mean the same professor? I ask. She says she doesn’t know what I’m talking about. Outside, it’s autumn. We add up colors or subtract them from ourselves. I treat her to a breakfast of eggs over, rye toast with jam, double order of hash browns. She burps and I say Excuse me. Mechanistic Theory I don’t tell Miss tHing, who is now married to an android passing himself off as a businessman, that I still love her. At brunch, we talk about machines, how they sputter, grind, fall apart, dream of router-less love, or compose poems based on recent advances in fiber optics. This is what we are, I contend, my head jammed
with so many useless phone numbers. I never have enough time. I never call the right people. In bed, we fall apart. I tell her it’s just a simple matter of getting oiled. A lube job, machine grease, she says. You are so poetic, I say. They’re your words, she says. We try again, she, the lovable robot from a thousand 50s flicks, and I, the inventor without goggles. The bubble bursts. Three square miles from her house, I say Good-bye, wishing surge protection against separation anxiety. She mentions the words-discreet and maybe. I turn and ask her if she still eats Cheerios for lunch. She’s gone. In city traffic, I float away from the lights. I can’t think of anyone to call. Phone Conversation at 2:00a.m. Me: I don’t believe in love. Her: I believe that what goes up will come down in varying degrees of velocity. Me: We are broken. Her: We are priceless. Me: Does that mean no price tags? She Wants Me Even in my Old Apple Skin Tonight, Miss tHing said Yes because maybe she believes she’s too old to say anything else. Or maybe from the months of back-burner malaise that has left stubborn brown streaks on her kitchen ceiling, has ruined her Teflon selves. As a child, she must have seen the little taxmen 69
bringing their wives moth sex, fresh from a take out menu with the caveat: Fly at your own risk. As for me, I’m tired of dying at traffic stops, reading pulp fictions where the only good guys are the gangsters who start a war over a dumb bookie and a horse with a bum leg, named Slow Wheeze. I’ve been waiting on 5th story ledges, hung up on the 11th hour ghosts of 42nd Street B girls, who died in cubicles, customer-less. I have been writing myself my own parking tickets that I never pay on time. Tonight, I’m going to get into Miss tHing’s sublime panties that will stretch and snap at my grossly un-sexy imperatives. Later, we’ll sit in the park like two clowns, stupidly happy in their love. So under the skin, you know? Miss tHing and I were meant for a gorgeous death, our new DNR life together, cookies and jokes for breakfast, white birds under our rumpled sheets, dreaming of twigs falling from the sky, and we keep the names of old collectors under our unevenly clipped nails. Fin I turn to Miss tHing and say Let’s destroy old robots. Or maybe she’s grown use to the sound of little mechanical feet, badly in need of oiling. It’s no use. She’s asleep inside her bubble. The bubble floats across miles of distant cranium sky. Mine, hers. Her name almost rhymes with Micheline. Or maybe, I’ve been asleep all these years.
ACCEPTABLE IN THE 80’S Mohamed
UNTITLED 2 Kyungmin
PIECE 3 Zoe
THERE’S A KIND HEART 1 Adam Butler
There’s a kind heart in me But I drown it in whisky and wine And choke it in cigarette smoke There’s a kind heart in me But I speak over its rapturous drumming With passages of Bukowski and Byron There’s a kind heart in me But I mask it with sardonic remarks Self-deprecation and coarse language There’s a kind heart in me But I smother it in the company of Fiends and scoundrels Rogues and misanthropes There’s a kind heart in me But I instruct it to fight others’ battles And warmly welcome suitors better than I For the people that I love And I skulk bitterly through The house parties and the gigs And the bars and the pubs And the dance floors of the clubs In a blindness of alcohol and worse And I trudge home alone into the non-judgemental arms Of internet pornography and literature
Thereâ€™s a kind heart in me But I reject its advances My tongue probes the anonymous chain-smokers To sap their nicotine high (I eskimo-kiss coke-heads for the same reason) But I suppress their names The girl I fucked on the park bench The boy I kissed in the alleyway Because to name them is to know them And the finality of that is an overwhelming hammerblow Of post-coital treachery and Their faded illusions of my own grandeur And vice versa
SENIOR EDITORS firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on Aug 31, 2012
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