Issue 2 November 2010
4 IF YOU LOVE ME LET ME GO VICCY ADAMS
28 CULTURE CULTURE HANNIE CLAYTOR
8 TAKEN FOR A RIDE TRACEY ICETON
29 CLASS ROWAN MCCABE
10 ORADOUR SUR GLANE SHELLEY DAY SCLATER
30 PEGGY’S BRAMBLES SARAH SKINNER
12 WHAT LIES BENEATH LAURA BANKS
32 L’UNE EMMA DOUTY
16 FACING PROBLEMS TRACEY ICETON
34 LOSS LIZZIE PURVIS
18 ONE LAST DRINK TOM WARD
35 A NOTE ON THE EMPTY PROMISE OF SUMMER HANNAH CLAYTOR
20 PERMANENT INK TRACEY ICETON 22 LINGERING POPPY GARDNER 24 BITTER ALOE ROWAN MCCABE 25 HELIOS SARAH CURRIE 26 YALE BETHANY ROGERS
36 SYNCOPATION ANTONY YOUNG 37 SOMEWHERE. MISSING. WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN. NATALIE CRICK 38 CROWDS ROWAN MCCABE 39 THE UGLY MERMAID OTTILIE RATCLIFF
If You Love Me Let Me Go Viccy Adams
Mind yourself as you come through there, please, the newspaper on the floor hasn’t been changed since yesterday. We had some flooding earlier in the week, and it’s still a bit slippery. That’s just one of the problems with these old outbuildings I can assure you; the only bits that don’t leak water are the bits that leak wind. Built below sea level, they must be. Still, we’re replacing them as fast as we can, as and when we can. I put in yesterday for planning permission for the West field, to extend the new block; we’re very proud of that, naturally. Got a grant last year to finish the roofing. I think it looks simply fantastic, everyone always comments on how vivid a shade of red it is. So striking, impossible not to gaze in admiration I always say. You didn’t? Did you come in from the north of town then? Well, that explains it. Never mind, we’ll pass that way later. So, you haven’t been to visit us here before then? That’s right, I remember you saying on the phone. Now, you called earlier in the week, yes? Monday or Tuesday wasn’t it? Of course. Tuesday morning. I was doing paperwork in the office and, I can admit to you freely, my mind had completely wandered off into a day-dream. When the phone rang it gave me such a start I’m sure I didn’t know where I was or what I was supposed to be doing. Your sister took one of our little darlings last autumn. A fine, big specimen, bit of the Irish about him. Rufus. I remember his lovely big brown eyes. How’s she finding him? Good. I thought they’d suit. We’re very particular about things like that, won’t let you just walk out the door with the first one to take your fancy. And I explained on the phone, I think, about the welfare checks – the home assessment – and the recommended vaccination programme. Goodness me, if you only knew the number of jokes I’ve heard about neutering! Oh my. That’s a good one though, one of my favourites. Do let me know if you have any questions about our administrative charges or procedures. That’s right, the follow-up visit is about a month after re-homing. Of course, we have to do a home check before you’re allowed to take any of our little darlings home. A formality, I’m sure, but you’d be disgusted to see where some people think it’s acceptable to keep them. Oh yes, student hovels with no yard for exercise, and nothing but pot noodles to eat. Or beautiful designer houses where they’ll be left alone all day, and of course you can’t expect a sofa not to suffer from that, even if it is Louis Quinze. We generally recommend a course of behavioural training classes too, unless you’ve a lot of positive experiences to draw on. The training is for both of you, not that I wish to imply anything by that. I’m sure you’re perfectly lovely and easy to get on with. We think our fee is very reasonable, of course, compared to other places. It’s transferable if the re-housing doesn’t work out during the first month. No refunds, I’m afraid, just exchanges. Any more questions at this stage? No? Well, let me introduce you to some of these little darlings. I’m sorry about the noise, they’re all perfect sweethearts generally and good as gold, but visitors tend to make them a little excitable. Meet Bruce, isn’t he gorgeous? He’s very sociable, plays well with others. Actually, plays a little too well with others on occasion, if you know what I mean. That’s how he ended up in here. It all got too much, appar4 ently; too much energy, too few outlets. So she brought him to us.
Artwork by Diana Afanador Vargas
Lachlan here is a Scottie, very popular breed. Only one previous family; a quiet little old lady. She took very good care of him. He needs a fairly quiet home; they didn’t get out much. He was utterly devoted to her, seems to have been a bit lost since she died last year. I can assure you he’s a perfect sweetheart, so attentive, beautiful table manners. Yes, she was his mother. I didn’t like to say, some people can be a bit funny about that. Not quite what you’re after? Well, never mind. Let’s move on. We don’t have much history on this chap, I’m afraid. He was abandoned by his previous family. It happens an awful lot. People know to bring them in if they find them, but they’re generally in a terrible state by the time they arrive. This one had awful digestive trouble – seemed to have been living off takeaways – and hadn’t been washed for weeks. He scrubs up quite nicely though, and we’ve almost eliminated the wind problem. He’s a bit needy – they tend to be, the abandoned ones – but with some care and attention we’re certain he’d grow out of it. Of course you can, feel free to have a look round and see if anyone takes your fancy. Actually, I could do with popping out for a moment, check if the team has arrived to sort out the drainage problems in the exercise yard. It has been such a bother, not being able to let them out for a good run, but you do have to worry about the state of the little darlings feet. Please don’t slip them anything through the bars while I’m gone. In fact, I’d avoid getting too close. Some of them have issues which only seem to come up around certain types of women, and I’m afraid our insurance doesn’t extend to visitors who don’t pay due care and attention to the warning signs. The background details we have on them are on those forms by the pen- how they ended up with us, previous attempts at re-housing, health issues, age, condition of teeth, et cetera, et cetera. Have a good ruffle through and I’ll be back in just a sec. Sure you’re alright if I leave you? I don’t mean to fuss, but we have had the odd problem in the past. Never mind, I can see you’re far too sensible to do anything ridiculous. Never mind. Won’t be long. Toodlepip. *** So, so sorry about that, got caught up in a discussion on silage and couldn’t break away without seeming terribly rude, and one of the contractors has an aunt on the council. You know what it’s like. How’re you getting on here? Oh, Lyle. Now that’s a very sad story. You read his notes? Pity, isn’t it, such a handsome fellow under all the scarring. Do you like playing games? Pity. He needs an awful lot of attention, and if he doesn’t get them he becomes an awful nuisance. Have you seen Toby over here? Don’t be fooled by appearances, he really is lovely. People do get terribly put off by the skin disease though. No? Well, I can understand that. He does shed, unfortunately. Shall we move across to the new enclosure? It’s where we keep our older little darlings. Perhaps someone a little older might suit you, dear. Bit more stability, quieter, less likely to run away. They need fewer toys, too; these young ones can work out awful dear; we suggest you buy them an XBox360 to help them settle in and keep them from going outside for the first few weeks. *** Well, didn’t I say so before? I chose the colour myself. I know red is supposed to be a warning sign, but to me it’s the colour of love. You can feel the difference in the temperature between here and the old building, can’t you? It’s a disgrace, really, but what can we do? It always comes down to money. And there are so many more little darlings needing a home than we have space for, but it tears my heart in two to say no to anyone. 6See anyone you like in here?
Oh please, do sit down. Are you going to faint? No? Let me pass you the tissues. How very, very unfortunate. No, it hasn’t happened before, not here anyway. I’ve often wondered if it might. How long has it been since you’ve seen each other? Five years. Oh, you poor little darling. I can see he remembers you, look how he’s wagging away. Would you consider… Of course not. How insensitive of me to even bring it up. Yes, here are his notes. His wife brought him in about six months ago. So, she kept him on for quite a while, despite finding out about the pair of you. Not that it’s for me to judge, oh no. Each to their own. I’m just happy when any of my little darlings finds love and stability. You can offer one of my little darlings stability, can’t you? Please stop crying, I’m sure it can’t hurt that much after five years. Have I given you one of our leaflets about vaccination programmes yet? If you’re sure. No, that’s not a problem. We’re open five days a week, and at weekends by special appointment, such as today. Usually I have the weekends off, apart from the feeding and the mucking out. But I’m always happy to accommodate people. Take another tissue with you dear. Well, thank you too, for coming in. One more thing, before you go; we have a sister institution over the road and they keep a few places reserved for emergency cases. Just something to think about.
Taken For A Ride Tracey Iceton
I fell in love with Dan instantly; the broad shoulders, the dark eyes, the glistening chrome, the throaty rumble of his exhaust. My mother wasn’t so keen. “It’s not safe,” she insisted. “It’s not the bike you hate, it’s Dan,” I accused, grabbing my leather jacket and rushing out into the delicate spring warmth where my knight was waiting on his trusty steed. My mother, trapped inside, watched helplessly as I swung my leg defiantly over the seat and wrapped my arms around his leather-skinned back, pressing my body against his. Long summer days were spent in ecstatic flights of pleasure. We swept into bends and launched down straights, flying through our dreams together. I wanted to ride forever… “Dan’s here,” my mother called up. I pulled on an extra jumper and wrapped a scarf around my neck to keep back the nibbling teeth of autumn. When I went down my mother was smiling. I opened the door and looked out. Dan was there. Alone. “I sold it,” he said, “and bought this.” He held out a small red box. The diamond inside winked knowingly at me. I shook my head. The ride was over.
Artwork by Lauren Matthews
Oradour sur Glane Shelley Day Sclater
In the wall there’s a hole and you can’t see through it and you can’t see past it and if you look into it all you see is dark and it’s hardly the size of an eye. 1944 They were huddled in small groups, huddled together, even though there was plenty of room. Some had backed up and stood pressed against the wall. Thirty feet up, June sunlight slid through stained glass windows and settled in coloured slices where mothers hugged small heads into their skirts. Children breathed the power of the mothers, felt the strength that stiffens a mother’s arm. The mothers could be wearing aprons; they have interrupted their work, and it’s into those white aprons that the faces of the children are now pressed. Women’s callused fingers mingle with children’s hair, policing what comes and goes. But there are some things a mother cannot stop, some things even she cannot hold. Some things those children among the knowing holding women, the careful holding women whose starched white aprons absorb the fresh damp breathing, some things those children who stand held still and clinging, there are some things they will never know. In the still, a small hand reaches into the deep pocket of an apron, a small hand whose fingers find a thin metal object and clasp it till it hurts; a paring knife, fresh from cutting vegetables, warmed by the mother’s body. The child’s body. The mother’s body. The warm metal in the pocket of the starched white apron. The hot metal that flies, that makes holes in the wall. 2004 I walk alone on a silent street. Already the dark of evening is closing in. Among the rubble, some ordinary things that survived the furnace; a sewing machine, the frame of a bed, some pots and pans. Ordinary things that, sixty years later, make history stop, make memory clamp shut, make nonsense of words. This road is as straight as they come. An icy wind blasts along it uninterrupted, like the roar of fire. A thick black cloud must have thrust itself into the air; flame crumbling stone, twisting metal, boiling blood. Who breathed the smell of burning? The man who lit the first match, did he have a wife, children, a mother. Was he ordinary, like we tourists who now tread on history, house after gaping house of it, then go home to sleep. In the wall of the church there’s a hole. You can’t see through it and you can’t see past it and if you look into it all you see is dark and it’s hardly the size of an eye.
Artwork by Jo Turner
Artwork by Elise Danks
What Lies Beneath Laura Banks
The earth shifted. Mounds of rocky silt capsized and flooded the underground prison, soiling every orifice. The stench of decay rotted the air, stale and punishing. Beneath the surface, the groans were barely audible. Muffled by a lungful of mulching debris, they went unheard by all. The girlâ€™s presence in the unmarked grave was noted only by creeping beetles and the worms that slivered against her prickling skin. The girl had lost track of the days she had been there, trapped. Waiting. She did not know what she was waiting for, or how she had come to be imprisoned in such an unforgiving environment. She had no memories, not of her life before, not of anything. She knew only of the hell that surrounded her. The earth was cold and filled with strange fragments that tore at her flesh. And it moved, as if it were alive. Breathing. Sometimes patiently, other times in guttural rasps, but all the time waiting. Just as she waited. Her own breaths grew laboured as mud infiltrated her throat, her nose. Her lungs. She could not cry for help. Not that anyone could have heard. The last of the air became thick and pungent as her weakened body lost control of its functions. The girl shivered as something snaked and writhed beneath her thigh. She looked for it instinctively, though the sheer darkness of the tomb shielded her from the sight of the creeping invader. She strained to recall something beyond this existence, some reason, some explanation, but she was at a loss. Her mind could not form words, only pictures. Hideous images. But eventually, she knew, even the longest time must pass. And soon, it was time. She had already waited too long and now it was her turn to make her escape. Newfound resolution filled her with power and she knew then that this prison could no longer hold her. Strength reverberated throughout her entire being as she pushed up, up. Nails scratched at walls of stony mud clusters. Calves and thighs tensed as she began the ascent to freedom. Poised fingers stretched towards the surface, until they poked through and touched the clean air. She clawed herself away from the grave, away from death. She was reborn. Standing upon the surface, she surveyed her new surroundings. A steady rain began to fall, cleansing her body of all evidence of her grisly beginnings, of the earth that had encased her like a womb. Her bare skin was now bleached and unblemished, contrasting with an ebony mane that spread across her back and spilt upon the delicate contours of her face. Her purpose hit her suddenly in a blinding image, branding her cheeks with a fiery hue. She licked her lips, igniting them with crimson heat. Eyes with darkened lashes blazed amber, casting a light of their own. She gazed down at her body for the first time, noting that it was strong, supple. Attractive. She smiled, causing her eyes to glow with even more fervour. This was going to be easy. There was no victim quite like a willing victim. Something crawled inside her in agreement. Moving across the wasteland, she heard the distant bustle of activity; a motorway. Her smile intensified. Someone was bound to stop for her. They would have no idea of course, but some lucky person was about to make her very satisfied. Not that they would live long enough to know it. Discretion was vital. It had been too long, imprisoned for countless centuries beneath the hallowed ground. Fortunately for her though, the binds of the old religion had lost their grip, and had all but diminished. There would be no going back there now. She was free, at liberty to do as she pleased. Maim, kill, eat, fornicate. All without consequence. Life was good. 13
She reached the motorway and immediately, a silver Audi was pulling over to rescue her. The window lowered and the ruddy complexion of a young man emerged. He made no attempt to disguise his excitement as his eyes roved her body and became hazy with desire. When she immediately accepted his offer of a lift, it was apparent that he could not believe his luck. He offered her a drink, which she snatched up appreciatively. It was her first drink in countless years and she drank the bottle dry. The man watched her the whole time, a smug grin plastered across his face. She too was excited now, sensing that the kill would come soon. The flushed man grinned back at her, seemingly happy that he had pleased her. He twisted the key in the ignition and the vehicle roared into life, turning the world into a blur of motion. All she had to do now, was wait for her moment and then request a pit stop at some remote location. She sank into her chair and sighed. Closing her eyes, she allowed herself to indulge in the moment, and let herself drift. The woman awoke with a start. Her eyes darted in confusion, but she saw nothing. Darkness pressed against her, suffocating. She was no longer in the car. That had been warm, comforting. Her mind felt strange, clouded, and her whole body was limp. She was lying down and something was covering her. With effort, she managed to shift and painful lumps dug into her back. She gulped, not wishing to think the worst. Tried to ignore the crawling shiver that trailed her spine. She took a deep breath. Too deep. She choked as fresh soil attacked her airways. She could smell it now, the familiar, awful scent of damp earth and rot. She could barely believe it. Another unmarked grave. She sighed and for the first time ever, found herself cursing the descent of humankind, which all those years ago she had embraced with open arms. She closed her eyes and relaxed. It was going to be a long wait.
Facing Problems Tracey Iceton
Matthew has been in another fight. He can’t understand that people don’t just talk with words. It’s his condition. His problem. “Why?” he demands. My problem is that I can’t answer his questions. “Just because. O.K. Let’s try another.” I frown. “Angry,” he guesses. I raise both eyebrows. He shrugs. “Alright,” I say, “surprised, like when you won that competition.” He writes it down. I raise just my left eyebrow. He stares at me then bangs his small fist on the table. “It means confused, puzzled, something you don’t understand.” “Then people should just say, ‘I don’t get it,’. It’s stupid!” he yells. He slams my door on the way out. Too many of our sessions end like this. I count twenty, open the door to check he’s gone then slam it myself. Better. Later, more trouble. A broken nose this time. Not Matthew’s. He’s sent to me. He’s my problem but I’m not the solution. He refuses to speak. The next day I see he has found his own solution – a blank above each eye where something has been deleted. “I’m not talking to you today,” he says. His eyebrowless face is calm. I smile. Happy.
Artwork by Lauren Matthews
Photo by Charlotte Mountford
One Last Drink Tom Ward
He was leaving Antigua today. He had loved its picturesque streets and lazy sunny days, and to leave now seemed too soon, but he had to move on. He was having one last drink in the hostel bar. He needed it. He had spoken to her on the phone that morning. Things were going great. She was having fun. What business was it of his if she was out with guys? They weren’t together anymore. She’d said she was tired of talking about how perfect it’d be when he returned. When he’d first left to come here the pain had been a constant pounding. The tears came uncontrollably, his eyes overflowing like buckets under a leaky ceiling during a thunderstorm. Now the pounding was just a sad throb in his chest. His Mojito was good. He remembered another Mojito, with her, in another bar, thousands of miles away. Now she was in bars thousands of miles away with guys that were thousands of miles away from him. He’d had faith that things could be perfect again, but lately, before he went to sleep each night, a part of him had begun to wonder if things could ever be the same again. The bus driver came in and called him. He was early. He hadn’t finished his drink. ‘Soy solamente yo hoy?’ He asked the driver. ‘Si, hoy solamente es usted.’ As the bus set off through the sunny streets, he looked through the window and said goodbye forever.
Permanent Ink Tracey Iceton
I wanted a tattoo. Something wordlessly proving to the world that I wasn’t who it thought I was. Scarlet Valentino had a pouting red rose resting provocatively on her hip. Lucy Wang had an exotic Chinese character, all black swirls and loops, at the nape of her swan-like neck. She refused to reveal its translation. I imagined an ethereal purple butterfly, fluttering delicately around my ankle; a symbol of beauty and elegance. My father didn’t look up from his newspaper. “You’re eighteen,” he said, “do whatever you want,” in a familiar tone of defeat. “Don’t,” my mother said, acid stinging through her words. “You’ll regret it when you’re older.” Her infuriated expression caused my desire to set hard like concrete. My grandfather sat in grim silence, as usual, through this latest conflict. I glared at him, wished for once he’d say something, either support or defend. Take a side and fight for it. He rolled up his sleeve and revealed the faded blue-green serial number etched on his arm. I heard the distant cries of those queued up for death. I smelt the acrid burning. I felt the cold wave of fear. The tattoo refused to fade. I decided not to bother.
20 Artwork by Lauren Matthews
Lingering Poppy Gardner
If he wanted it enough, he’d find me here. This is what she thought as she sat alone on a numbingly cold day in April. The sky was that kind of pewter shade that promises snow, and the moss covered bench she sat on was slowly numbing her thighs. She took another drag on her cigarette. She didn’t know why she was smoking. She felt that it was probably because she only smoked when she was with him, and she expected him to arrive. Somehow she felt that if this whole thing were fated that he would work it out, his senses would direct him. She felt this despite the fact that she claimed not to believe in fate. Her name was Deanna Stevens, and she was pretty in the kind of way that only showed itself in certain lights or when she inclined her head a certain way. She had thick, angular eyebrows, and fierce golden eyes surrounded by lustrous dark eyelashes. Her hair was chestnut but in the summer months lightened to a warm auburn, and when she was nervous she had a habit of twirling it round and round her index finger, as she was doing now. This was her favourite place. It was also her secret place. It was the place that she had always thought that if there was ever a point in her life where it would be poignant to go and sit alone enigmatically, awaiting someone, a lover perhaps, it would be here. The blossom was falling softly and soundlessly and creating petal piles at her feet, and the concrete paths were slowly becoming obscured by pale pink ovals. As all this happened, she sat, and waited. It was where she had come for walks as a child, but it was, after all, a cemetery. She adored the irony of it being the most beautiful place she could think of, yet being so full of death. She was filled with a quiet respect for the past, and the millions of lives that had been led, just like hers, as she sat there re-living them. As her watch caught a ray of sunlight, the glare from the face caught her unawares and she found herself noticing the time. Three o’clock. Three is the magic number. Third time lucky. Thrice as nice. Would this be the hour that he arrived to take her away from everything? She exhaled, watching her breath hesitate in the air, then disappear to nothingness. She began to wonder if she had overestimated his importance in her life. He was this quixotic figure to her, and to let her down here, now, at the most cinematic of moments would mean the end, the end of everything. A lonely lover, alone in a cemetery, waiting for a happening. She stood up. Her hands were red raw with the cold. She almost left, but couldn’t. She had to wait, she knew she had to wait. At that moment, Deanna Stevens looked at herself, and realised she wasn’t a strong enough person to leave now and never know the consequences. Everything is timing, her father used to say. So surely if one gives oneself all the time in the world, it’s impossible to miss an opportunity. But timing is not individual, of course. Everyone’s own sense of time runs on parallel lines, and occasionally distort so that they intersect, or most surprisingly, crash right into each other. She closed her eyes and waited for the crash that she so desired. Instead, she felt two familiar palms across her folded eyes, and heard a voice she knew too well to describe. “I could not love you. I should not love you. I must not love you. I had not loved you. I love you.” 22
Illustration by Lucinda Wherrett
Bitter Aloe Rowan McCabe
This juice from the corner shop is ‘ethical’. It’s more well mannered than the last one I got and more so than me. Still it has drenched my house with a tidal wave ten stories and the leftover debris includes: Shards of paper, broken thoughts and three orchard workers from the Eastern Cape. Huddled around the radiator our teeth are the wings of a hummingbird, our legs are leaves of aloe ferox in the desert breeze; we are tied by ropes of history woven with strands of guilt and unimaginable cruelty. We attempt to clear the wreckage as I make a quiet decision to drink juice less.
Artwork by Elizabeth Bracegirdle
I watch you walk up the path towards me. A soporific sunflower swinging from your hand. The sun sets through cracked glass your chiffon dress stains, A yolk-like hue, in refracted light. It is impossible to articulate to myself in that moment just how beautiful you are. To admit how much I want you. The last crescendo of the dying sun escapes you and shines white light, a ray for each eye. I am temporarily blinded and feel like running from how scared I am. How scared I am of you. To blemish your heart Would kill me.
Yale. A slice of metal as cool as an upside-down pillow. That means I’m coming in, going out. It is Shiny! Reflective entirely unlike a mirror, its long arm full of prongs and crevasses like the face of a chemical engineer, who’s too old to care about protective suits. An arm reaching into a sleeve, gropes around and looks for nooks and crannies. And with a series of clicks like some ancient machine, David can move Goliath. And here we are met by an audience of shoes and stairs, (a sanguine sight to see). And reaching in once more, Yale conducts An Orchestra of Mechanisms, a Symphony of gentle clicks and clacks, So that I can ascend safe in the knowledge that I’ll not be robbed tonight.
Artwork by Rebecca Yeh
Culture Vulture Hannah Claytor
She sits in café’s, Drinking cappuccinos and bickering With the lawyer on her speed dial. Watches the world go by As she consumes her daily dose of politics From the shiny music maker in her pocket. It fits smugly in, Presses against her pale skin, Which smothered and trapped cries out To feel sweet air upon it’s pores. She glides carelessly (or so she seems) Between the glaring buildings. Head in the clouds, She longs to be like the skyscrapers that dominate The green parks. The weeping willows weep Longer and harder, craving the sun. They long to see the golden glow of anything but her hair dye. She’ll stare at works of art, And puzzle at their meaning, Wait until it’s time for the cinema screening. Empty time will pass as she checks her designer watch, ‘Oh’ she thinks, ‘It’s nice to be cultured’.
“It’s class when you get pissed with your mates and there’s none of those lot, standing around, taking up space that should be ours. You know what I mean? It’s wicked as fuck When you take one look at what their wearing and you push them because you wouldn’t even breathe the same air as someone who talks like that. And I don’t care! It’s class. And I wouldn’t even look at them eye to eye, or stand with them toe to toe, or fight with them hand in hand against any bollocks that matters.”
Peggyâ€™s Brambles Sarah Skinner
Gladly they grew and twisted Through the years I knew them, Their ripped ropes stained As the pin pricks fondled The frayed hem of my shorts I cut from jeans When winter was done. And it was nothing like the inside, With the wax dripping dolefully Slipping down the candles to The Virgin and the Cross, Asking why I ever stopped believing in angels. Filled the whole year round With the smell of over-brewed camomile, Picking through the perfume Of too many women And the muffled off-key notes Of a piano nearly never played. The kind, cracked walls boasted five smiling faces, A young boy swimming in sepia Impersonating my father. Like her china bell, who had no purpose, But to draw attention from the broken clock. Iâ€™d escape to the red roses that grew each summer And the moss that was never sent away. Beyond the sprawling clothes line of rusty poles I once conquered the end of that garden, And the building bonfire of brambles.
We picked those roses the day she died. For a while the leaves lived on Around the bud, Veins to a sunset-purple sea Which still pulsed in the light. A heart – blood and dusty Those petals dried with a sweet smell, Far more bitter than before. And The Old Rhyme, That used to bounce from my Grandma’s knees, Caves in like the bramble den I made that summer, Drops and echoes like the last notes Of her funeral’s final hymn.
Artwork by Katy Lawson
The silence of the night envelopes me And a warm darkness embraces. Far away, but in proud visibility The fresh moon glows, barely illuminating the Soft contours of her subservient subjects, who rest On Earth. Whilst such subjects – Gentle flora and creatures both, others too Are harnessed with utmost power By Luna’s greatest companion, Gravity; Strapped, trapped, and rooted to the ground – She, in all elegance and grace Floats high above, with such grandeur, Her milky, majestic face looks down Over her beloved subjects With evident concern and delight. The moon, whose effervescent quality Is gloriously emphasized by the stark Darkness of untouchable emptiness, Drains colour from her kingdom, But still allows for vibrancy, with her inescapable Luminosity; exhibiting her power, and her right To be Queen of the Night. And her guardians, the coruscating stars Defend her majesty in good faith And complete loyalty. They are the watchers; they glimmer, they shine, They command Earth to adore the night To acknowledge its power, and To worship the moon.
Artwork by Poppy Gardner
It was a sort of relief when she died, We saw her just, sort of, slip away, We knew what the future held then And I knew neither of us were afraid. Because we had faced our biggest fear already, Watching her die in her bed, An there was noting for us left to worry about Except, of course, how to live now she was dead.
34 Artwork by Harriet Rollit
A Note on the Empty Promise of Summer Hannah Claytor
That bright day in June surprised me when it started raining. I saw you even though the sun stung my eyes. Undercover, we ordered that sweet nectar we love so much, It was nice to watch the rainbow for a while. Our glass was half full of all that sweet stuff And that the other half was empty didn’t matter, We could only taste nectar, you see. Emptiness doesn’t have any flavour. When the rain eventually ran dry in August I couldn’t see the rainbow anymore. And when the sun began to set, You became a shadow.
Artwork by Tess Dennison
Syncopation Antony Young
Syncopation later, cycling to the airfield where the windsock slides and lifts, thoughts of yourself in silk: blossom laden in the wind. But now before breakfast, I prefer sitting and pulling this waist into proximity, to stand you towering indulgently. Returning through hours of darkness, to undressing which is not the quick exact science of dressing, but has humour: light fingers unbuckle a broad belt and when leaning, your hair falls forward, I`m subdued on the brink of a waterfalll where it is difficult to hear. Sheltered between sheets, veiled thoughts to tenderly craft a passion, biting fingertips, as the sea seethes between stones. Your collaboration is unfaltering, guiless in submarine silence, and deeply absorbed. While a white sail hangs in blue fathoming depths, you reciprocate: easing a knee upwards. And we strain as two close-hauled to heel hard with gaff sails taut, and only metres between boards, cleaving blue.
Somewhere. Missing. Whereabouts Unknown. Natalie Crick
Snow was falling all around and because I kept the blood from Halloween the day was right from the start. Sky fell down, pink apples bled and because I was not at school I felt alone. My camera, my shoes. The hill was steep with mould and leaves and blood drips behind: ink blot. My camera swings with every step And my hands are fat and pink with blood. Still of footsteps. Delete. The trees are thin, the grass is long. And because I rush through the reeds (injured reindeer, mentally ill) I am screaming and my keys are gone and I am all by myself. Dirty snow. Bad girl.
Broken bits of glitter on the floor, tiptoeing around omnipresent white boxes, hanging from grey towers, surveying the ground. Luminous jackets with oversized heads, wooden sticks silver rings and blind eyes. Windows of plastic statuettes forever looking back in time. Shuffling around I’m cattle herded into another corner of the everyday, while it pushes too hard against my face. It’s the best money can buy. Fingerless gloves sitting on corners next to invisible hopes of “not tonight” not tonight While all the time: ties (nooses) buses and shines shoes, tired handhelds going home: “not tonight” not tonight.
The Ugly Mermaid Ottilie Ratcliff
A sad siren sitting on the rocks Singing for sailors; screaming over the seagulls. Matted blonde hair stained green and knotted With seaweed; encrusted with barnacles and salt. The skin of her bare breasts so smooth itâ€™s almost Slimy. So pale she is translucent, almost lifeless. Like sun bleached driftwood. Her lips cracked, Her fingernails ragged, her eyes the colour of oily sand. Her scale-worn tail a shade of sickly jade. An ugly maiden mutant of the cruel sea. A distant boat. Bearded men eat shipâ€™s biscuits The stamp of boots on deck, shouting from the mast At last, she opens her mouth to call to them Bearing rows of broken brown teeth. Craggy bearded faces leaning over starboard. They cast a black net of rigging over the side Entangle her in it and drag her aboard. She lays strangled on the splintered wooden boards And looks into jeering faces, hard, mocking eyes They poke her with nets, with broom handles They tell her that she reeks of rotten fish. They roar with laughter when she feebly flips her tail Then throw her with a splash back into the cold sea. She drags herself to her rock, her hands scratched, Her tears raining on a crab that scuttles sideways Away from her, this ungainly creature, this beast.
39 Artwork by Lucinda Wherrett
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