Editorâ€™s Note Dear readers, The process of putting together Alliterati Issue 19 has been notable for many reasons. Our recent themes of Politics and The Body worked out better than we could ever have hoped but we felt it was time to open submissions up to our contributors, giving them the chance to send in work which more closely represents their personal interests. The variety of art, video, poetry and prose we received ensured this was an extremely pleasurable issue to edit and the standard of submissions was, predictably, consistently high. This is also the first time we have created the magazine with our new team on board. Hannah Bullimore and Emily Owens joined as Literature Editors just in time to assist with the issue and itâ€™s only right to thank them for adapting so quickly to the hectic routine we seem to have in place here.
We must also say a temporary goodbye to Art Editors Anna Skulczuk and Hazel Soper who are dashing off to Munich to continue their art studies. Thankfully we’ll have them back in the summer; they are the main reason the magazine continues to look so good at present. A big thank you to Anna who has been glued to her laptop for a couple of weeks now, ensuring the magazine looks as professional as possible. Finally we must thank the writers and artists, in particular those who are being published for the first time. Brooke Miramontes’ short story ‘Orlando Graham The Music Man’ is a remarkably tender and original prose piece, while the borderline Imagist style of A.M. Yeager is refreshingly crisp. On the subject of art, Linda Bernard’s collages are fast becoming a common feature in our magazines and we’re proud to be associated with her. Space dictates that only a handful of writers and artists can be mentioned here but rest assured, we hold every creative piece we receive in equally high regard. We hope to receive more work from all of our artists and writers in the near future. Best wishes, Adam Thompson (Senior Editor)
Contents ART 7. Petra Szeman / A Place Beyond Belief 12. Linda Bernhard / Exit 28 14. Linda Bernhard / We Dream 21. Cloe Sparrow / Untitled 23. Cloe Sparrow / Untitled 24. Joseph Huggins / Adam and Mowgli in Bed 26. Linda Bernard / Voile 28. Valeria Siretanu / Lies from the Light 31. Alice Leach / Fine Fine Tights 32. Cloe Sparrow / Untitled 33. Cloe Sparrow / Untitled 35. Charlotte Cook / A Small World(s) 36. Rachael Eden / So Embarrassing 41. Linda Bernhard / Harbourship 42. Alice Leach / Throwaway Tights 45. Rachael Eden / Queen B
LITERATURE 6. A.M. Yeager / Paperback 8. Brooke Miramontes / Orlando Graham the Music Man 13. CJS Williams / Convalescence 15. Emma Swan / LDN 16. Ceinwen Cariad Haydon / Gone 22. Darren Zastruga / Passing Through Terminals 25. Katy Bentham / The Romace of a Landscape Painter - a Case Study 27. W.M. Lewis / The Tears They Carry 29. A.M. Yeager / Coffee Date 30. Christopher Kudyahakudadirwe / Unknown Destination 34. WM Lewis / Thank You Plucky Youngster 37. Anne Goodwin / What Time it Sunset? 43. Keith Moul / Baseball 44. Shoshanna Beale / A Night Walk
Was it you who left the book on the couch folded over dog-eared pages marking each sentence and paragraph that sent chills of amusement or thought through your wondering mind? And was it you who left your clothes scattered and abandoned on the wooden floor only to occupy the empty king-size bed so that you could feel satin sheets against your warm skin and paperback spine?
A Place Beyond Belief
Orlando Graham the Music Man The only thing I’ve ever known for sure about life is that there will be another one. Everyone reincarnates but I’m the only one who remembers. You only get Seven, you see. Seven lives. Seven times to make it count. Seven chances to get it right. Most people spend their Seven chasing the unattainable: money, fame, excess. But for me, it’s only ever been about one thing. The same thing lifetime after lifetime. Love. Her. Lucy. And fighting – desperately fighting – to make her remember me. * * * It was October when I started to feel it: The Pull. It was a familiar feeling, and one I not only remembered but craved. It meant She was getting close. Sometimes it happened suddenly. Sometimes early and once, much too late. But The Pull always felt the same. It was a tugging at my heart, an inexplicable urge to do things I’d never done before. In my Fifth life, I was working in a sleepy Colorado town in my music shop when I suddenly needed coffee. Black, no sugar. I’d never before had a cup of the stuff, but I hurried across the street in an April rain anyway. The bones in my knees, sore from all the running I’d done in that life, had ground against each other as I dashed through the spring shower. I’d just reached the door of the coffee shop when I felt an absence in my pocket. Realizing I’d forgotten my wallet, I whipped around and ran right into Her. The contents of her bag spilled onto the wet pavement below us but all we could do was hold each other’s gaze. She and I were always relatively the same. I’d never known Her to be anything but blonde and her eyes were never anything but the brightest of emerald. In some lives She was a little bit older, in others a little bit younger. Sometimes her hair was down to her waist and in others it grazed her shoulders. But, slight differences aside, I could always tell. My Lucy. In the First life, She was Lucille Jean Crawford. Since then, she’d been a Hannah and an Elizabeth and an Elsa, among many others but I never thought of her as anything but Lucy. I got out of bed on the morning of October 27 in the year 2015. My Seventh – and last – life. I stretched, curling my toes and taming my messy, coal-black hair with my fingers as I wandered into my kitchen. It wasn’t a long walk. The studio apartment was small but it didn’t matter much. A man like me didn’t require a lot of space, and I’d have lived in a shoebox so long as it was attached to a shop. Over my lifetimes I’d discovered that, apart from her outward appearance and the fact that she smelled perpetually of daisies, there was one thing that remained the same about Lucy: She always played the harp. I met her far too late in the Second life and since then, I found a way to combat The Pull or rather, I found a way to make it work in my favour. After the Second, I became Orlando Graham the Music Man. I stocked my shops in each life with sheet music, 8
trumpets, pianos, violins, cellos (after all, I had to make my livings somehow), but I always prided my shops on having the largest harp selections for miles. A guaranteed way to get Lucy through the door. After picking at a boiled egg and having a shower, I dressed. Black shirt, black blazer, dark jeans and oil-black shoes. In this lifetime, there seemed no better color. At nine o’clock, I descended the stairs of my studio apartment and walked into the shadowed shop, the faint scent of rosin welcoming me to the crypt-like domain where I spent my days, waiting for my Lucy. I turned on lights as I made my way to the front door where I flipped the sign and turned the lock just as I had every other morning in other lifetimes. And then, I sat. I closed my eyes and waited behind the counter, hoping to feel something, anything. Longing for The Pull to take me, to lead me out the door someplace I’d never been before. To Her. But nothing happened. The day went like all the others in all the lifetimes before. I helped customers, none of them Lucy, rented a trombone to a little boy just starting lessons, sold a cello and counted my register at a quarter to six. At 6:04 I was writing down the numbers for the day in my ledger when the bells tied to the shop door jingled. “We’re closed,” I announced without looking up. “I’m sorry. I’ve been traveling all day. Could you make an exception?” At the sound of Her voice, my insides buzzed so hard my bones felt electric. I dropped my pen and tore my gaze from my ledger. I looked up. Lucy. After lifetimes of loving her, I thought I understood it. But I didn’t. Not really. Because the heat of that moment, the roar of blood in my ears… It was something different than ever before. There was a current humming between her and I that seemed so real I swore I could reach out and touch it. My breaths came in small huffs from the back of my throat as I stared ahead, afraid to believe she was really there. Finally, I came to my senses, licking my dry lips and inhaling a lungful of air before I straightened myself out. I trembled as I stood taller than I had all my life and sauntered with a false confidence through the dark shop towards her. Her hair was shorter than mine, still a pretty, honey blonde and her green eyes beamed at me through the black of the shop. Her face was free from the wrinkles I’d seen in lives before and her nose was still dainty and up-turned. Her lips were as full and lovely as ever and as I remembered what they tasted like, a pang of heartache echoed through me. She was beautiful, devastatingly so, and she looked like the rest of my life. “I can always make an exception for a harp player,” I said. “How’d you know?” she asked. As I reached past her and flipped on the light switch near the door, her flowery scent wafted over me. “Lucky guess.” I turned and started walking away from her toward the back of the shop, the fluorescents flickering on just a heartbeat ahead of my footsteps. “Follow me,” I said. 9
I could hear her shoes behind me, clicking gently against the wood floor as I took her past a row of pianos and a spinning display of sheet music. I flipped on a light in the back room and heard her gasp as the twenty-one harps were illuminated. “I’ve never seen so many at once,” she said, walking past me as though she were drawn to them. Lucy had a Pull of her own. “Largest selection in the state,” I said, feigning pride. “How long have you played?” “All my life,” she smiled as her fingertips caressed a harp, the sound of it chiming from them. All of your seven lives, I thought. I watched as she meandered through the harps, gently touching each one. I’d been in this same moment five times before but it never got old, watching her move from instrument to instrument, studying her long fingers and the way the corners of her mouth would twitch as she tried to keep from smiling. Her cheeks were a bitten pink, and I couldn’t be certain if it was the cold of the autumn night or the way the light played off her crimson coat. As she touched the final harp, she paused. You don’t have what I’m looking for. “You don’t have what I’m looking for, I’m afraid,” she admitted. “And what would that be, Miss?” An Ayoama. “An Ayoama. A pedal harp.” I let out a low whistle just as I had in lives gone by. “Which model?” I asked. “47 D.” I watched her deflate a little as she sighed. “I’ve come such a long way,” she mumbled. “How far?” I asked. “Nearly four hours,” she said, touching her palm to a harp listlessly. “Surely you’re not driving all the way home tonight?” “No. I think I’ll get a hotel for the night. There’s supposed to be rain.” “There’s a Days Inn not even a mile up the road. Did you see the park when you drove into town?” She nodded. “It’s right across the street. And, another thing,” I paused, “I have a friend at Clive Morley. I can get you a harp, but it might take a few days.” This, of course, was a blatant lie, but I had to have some way of biding my time. I needed to keep her close until she remembered me. Until she remembered Us. “Really?” her eyes lit up. “Come with me,” I smiled as I led her to the front of the shop. “Do you ordinarily drive so far in search of harps, Miss?” “Oh, no,” she laughed. “It’s just that, I’ve checked with every other shop in Utah. Ordinarily I call but I couldn’t find a phone number or an email for you. You really ought to fix that, you know,” she scolded. Purposeful. How else was I supposed to get you in here? “Noted,” I said. I stepped behind the counter and slid a piece of scrap paper across the glass to her. “Write down your name and number. I’m sure I can reach my friend by tomorrow. In the meantime,” I said, jotting down some information of my own, “head to this address. It’s straight up the road. Tell them I sent you and the room’s free.” I handed her the paper and plucked a business card with my name 10
and number and watched her take it between her slender fingers. “Alright,” she paused, reading my card, “Orlando Graham the Music Man.” I glanced down at the paper she nudged toward me and read her name. “I’ll call you tomorrow, Rebecca Arthy.” She reached for my hand and shook it, just as she had before. “Thank you,” she smiled, and I felt my heart thumping wildly at her touch. “Have a good night, Miss Arthy.” I watched from the counter as she left and pulled away from the curb in a black Volkswagen. I heaved a great sigh as tears stung the corners of my eyes and I walked to the shop door, locking it and leaning up against the cool glass. My hands trembled, my breath quivered, and my heart bumped against my chest like a bee against a window. It didn’t matter how many times it happened. Finding her was like finding myself all over again.
For Albert S. And so I ask again, where do I belong among the scrabble players and the painters… the tea drinkers and the toast and jam eaters… the penny counting woman and the man who walks in circles in the hallway until he slows his pace to a stop and must be escorted to bed… the rapper outside, the screamers and the draggers, the grave diggers and the children snatchers… where do I fit in? Where do I sit? I disagree, Walt. People on earth are the greatest poetry of all. In our reckless abandon, we crash into each other in hopes of finding something to stick to like salmon roe on the banks of a stream or a child’s alphabet magnets on the side of a refrigerator… What names do we spell? What phrases do we create? Pushed together to make words, sentences, paragraphs, pages and books, to tell a story or summarize a theory, to spread lies or hypothesize. The atoms that form us are like letters of the alphabet, creating an infinite stream of… of… of… us. We. Al, if you are here then I am not. So I ask again, where do I sit? What happens when a per.iod or a question mark is misplace?d Or when an incorrect comma,s put into the awkward position of being wrong, or a wrd is misspelled? Some people think an editor comes and replaces us. Erasers, whiteout, the blinking cursor on his computer screen going I I I I comes in to correct if we are errors. And the word is no longer whole. The sentence is ruined, the paragraph nonsense, the page useless, the book unfinished. But is it true? What is a misprint if not an evolutionary advantage — a variance in the common genetic diversity of words that brings around vital and meaningful change? What is the storyteller trying to say? What is the story we are born to be a part of? Is it a dragon fighting a man on a mountaintop, or a prodigal son returned to his father? Is it the tale of a woman who steals to feed herself, or a man who gives away everything to help others? Or is it something written in a language that we will not only never understand, but cannot hope to comprehend the meaning of, lost forever to a failure of translation. Maybe it’s important to know. I don’t think it is. All I can tell you is that we are not the story. We are lucky to be a letter. We are a modicum of ink, with the opportunity to be soaked into the page, irreplaceable and part of the whole. Tiny and unnoticed if there, impossible to ignore if not. Find your spot on the paper. Sit wherever you please. You will change the story, small or big. And that is the most comforting thing I know.
Emma Swan LDN WOW, magical city. Alive with tubes and al fresco cafés. Market streets, with zingy fruit, weaves among leaves and the 9 to 5 beat. Ten second trains, young hearts crawling out after eight for a cider and a funny flavoured sandwich in the street. Buildings and trees, dotted together like a Piccaso. People make prints on the page, blending into one pop art piece. They say it’s a rat race, and that’s okay ‘coz a smile on the Piccadily Line can catch and travel from face to face. Heading Hoxton, via Northern Line a busker called Cherry plays Red Red Wine. And as the tube darts above ground, the orange evening air borders the black,
Ceinwen Cariad Haydon Gone RESPONSIBILITY The teenager, alone with her mother, felt her panic rising. Might her dreams be realized and then she’d know how bad she truly was. Years before mother said, ‘One day, you’ll be the death of me, or make me kill you. What have I done to deserve you?’ Repeated untold times in the years since, as the child raised her arms to deflect blows that rained from her mother’s love. In the daytime the child practiced a sort of obedience, more or less. But her night times lent her vengeance as her anger boiled; in her dreams her hands sought her mother’s neck to silence her. Today, dad had said,’ I have to go away for a few days, family matters in Wales. Stay with your mum, she hates to stay in the house alone, you know that.’ The teenager trembled for fear of her own strength and what might happen between them in the dark. She could not stand another acrid curse on her young life. The girl picked up the phone, whilst daylight protected her mother in the garden. Her friend said, ‘Great, come over, stay at mine, we’ll have a night out together.’ Her greatest defiance yet, she left her mother alone to face her own night terrors, so that they both might live to face the days ahead whenever their mother-daughter paths might cross. MEETING The smoke-filled folk club was packed. Her friend led her right towards the front where a knot of young men stood, clutching their acoustic guitars. One looked up as they approached, he had clear, pale blue eyes and fine blond hair that brushed his shoulders. She liked his smile, and her friend introduced them. He played a couple of songs that night. His voice was tuneful but thin and reedy. His plec work was elaborate and inventive and she was impressed. After the club closed he asked her back to his place and she went. Her friend had gone quiet when she explained and apologized for the change in her plans, she didn’t know until later that her friend fancied him too.
They talked into the night and as dawn broke they lay down together on his single bed. His midnight blue nylon polo neck smelled of stale sweat and cheap deodorant, she wouldn’t let that spoil things. He said, ‘You’re the first intelligent female I’ve met since coming down from Oxford. It’s a relief, I can tell you.’ She glowed in the dark, unused to compliments of any sort. Their lovemaking was elaborate and inventive, pleased as he was by his own skill. She had nothing to compare it with but she thought it was a nice start. DIDSBURY She went to Belle View to see the wrestling. An odd occupation for a student, fresh at university, in a new town far away from home. Her dad held no truck with it, boxing was the only honourable fight. Gerry knew all about it, had followed it for years, dragging his own callipered leg to many venues. Gerry was her new boyfriend’s mate, from her home town. She’d been pleased that he’d come north for the weekend, though he’d come alone. At least they could talk about their mutual friend, and her horizons were widened RITE OF PASSAGE Sunday afternoon and the sun shone through the rain clouds across the top of the double-decker bus, making dicky-dancers of dust motes that floated in the warm autumn air. She was alone up there and her thoughts tingled with delicious possibilities of growing up. Growing up and having someone to love, at last. She slipped her hand under her black cord midi skirt, bypassed her knickers and slid a couple of digits inside her own moistness. She shut her eyes tight and prayed. She pulled her hand back out and saw clear, viscous trails on her fingers: no blood, none at all. She smelled the scent and smiled. Her hope increased with every hour that passed. She was now three days and ten hours late. As the bell rang below for the next stop, she saw refracted sunlight and a rainbow beyond. DROPOUT The hired van contained all she had. They crossed the Pennines on a lonely road. Snow fell, shyly at first, then full force as blizzard winds whipped around the bone-shaker, rented for the home journey at low cost. She glanced across at his face, creased with concentration. He was older than her by four years, but he’d never driven in conditions like these.
THE CLASSIFIEDS On Monday he went to work. She spent the day making his bedsit homely. She washed, scrubbed, aired and plumped the pillows. In the late afternoon she went to the nearby shops and bought a bunch of anemones and crusty bread and Red Leicester cheese for their tea. He came in from the cold at 6pm. He said very little, except that he liked the cheese. After she’d cleared up, he gave her the Leicester Mercury to look for somewhere where she might live, alone. CHRISTMAS He was going home for Christmas. He said his folks would love to meet her, that she should just be herself, no special effort was required. They’d like her better that way. She wanted to please him. So she put on her jeans and her jumper and combed her hair and they travelled by bus from Leicester to Birmingham, well, Solihull actually, the posh part. His mother opened the door and the two women looked at each other. His mother’s smile was delayed by a fraction of a second. At lunch his father quizzed her but concluded that she was of little interest. He told stories of his son’s more romantic interludes with other women. She smiled politely, not wanting to be childish. When she was alone with her boyfriend she said, ‘I should have made more of an effort.’ ‘Not at all,’ he said, ‘they must learn to respect who I am. I will not kow tow to their shallow, suburban prejudices.’ His parents never did like her. HAPPY BIRTHDAY They’d married six weeks ago, in one of the coldest winters for years. Her birthday celebrations had always been hostage to the weather. This February the lights had gone out, and the country had ground to a halt. But she hoped he’d remember, he’d seen the cards that came for her yesterday. He was late coming home; she grinned, anticipating a treat. Her first birthday as a married woman, in the summer she’d be a mother. He came in at last, smelling of beer and cigarettes. He glanced at the cards arranged on the bookshelf, ‘Shit, I forgot your birthday.’
‘It doesn’t matter, really. I’m just glad you’re home. Shall we go out for an Indian? It’ll be nice in the candlelight.’ ‘Whatever, but I’m out of cash.’ ‘I’ll use the ten bob that Granny sent, if you’d like?’ ‘Yes, sure. Good idea, let’s go.’ THE HAT The maroon hat was on the bargain counter at C&A: knitted, floppy with a wide brim. She tried it on and it suited her. It framed her serious, hopeful face and her long, brown curly hair. ‘Yes please, I’ll have this one. Could you take the ticket off? I’ll wear it now.’ He was waiting for her in the pub, ‘Do you like it?’ ‘I do, I really do. I had this girlfriend at Oxford, she had one like that, gorgeous creature. Yes, it’s a nice hat, great times, it takes me right back.’ THE MOVE Another van, this one big enough to carry all their joint possessions, and the weather was kind. She heaved herself up onto the seat beside him, and looked across at him, ‘Aren’t you excited? Our first home together?’ she said. ‘It’ll be interesting,’ he said. ‘Did I tell you, I’d planned to quit the job at Marconi and be in Rome this summer?’ REUNION The husband’s twin brother had been in America for two years. Now he was home and he wanted to meet his new sister-in-law, who was seven months pregnant, and see his brother’s new house. He was coming tonight; she was told at 2.30 in the afternoon. She was temping at a solicitor’s office in the town at the time; when she got back to their house she panicked slightly. What would they eat? Then she thought the potatoes in the garden would be good and she bought a frozen beef and onion pie from the village shop, with ice cream as an afterthought. Their first meal, all together, was burnt meat pie and inedible seed potatoes with cold tinned peas. The ice cream was OK. The brother was disappointed; he’d have to agree with his parents.
RAINDROPS She wriggled her toes in her red wellingtons patterned with daisies. Her eyes darted from left to right, impatient and joyful. Then she saw it, the bestest ever. A tiny stream trickled down through a channel in the earth bank at the side of the path and made a ginormous puddle that spread across the uneven paving stones. This was her puddle and she trembled with excitement for several seconds before she leapt into it. Splashed water flew into the air and magical droplets caught the last of the sun’s rays before they cascaded back down to the muddy ground. She jumped and jumped again, drenching her coat, her woollen mittens and her leggings. Her face was mobile with waves of happiness and liberty, her soft brown eyes gleamed with limitlessness and she sang out loud to her own secret tune, ‘Wet, wet, wet, water everywhere, whoosh wellies, whoosh wellies, wet, wet, wet, water everywhere.’ Then her daddy caught up with her and she ran and hugged his leg, nearly tripping over the pushchair. ‘Easy Maisie, be careful,’ he said and she felt the delicious madness drain out of her. ‘Yes, daddy,’ she said. In the next instant Boblet opened his mouth and yelled. ‘Thanks Maisie,’ said dad, ‘I’d only just got Robert off to sleep. You’re a very noisy little girl.’ ‘Sorry, daddy,’ said Maisie. The sky darkened and the rain pulsed down, cold and relentless. She held onto the pram handle and walked in a quick little march to try to stay warm, but her toes in her red wellies with white daisies turned to ice. Boblet nodded off again. In twenty minutes or so they were back home. The backyard gate had swollen in the rain storms and daddy had to kick it hard to get it to open. He said a bad word that made mummy cross, although she said it too when daddy came home late from work. Mummy didn’t hear him today and the kitchen was dark. Daddy searched in his coat pocket for his house keys while rain dripped off the gutters down their necks. Maisie wanted to cry but she didn’t want to annoy daddy. Once they were inside daddy told Maisie to get her wet things off while he lit a fire. She pulled off her damp mittens and unbuttoned her coat; Mrs Brown at nursery said she was the best girl in the class at getting dressed and undressed, even for PE. Then she heard daddy make a funny noise in his throat. She turned around and saw him reading a note. His face was pale and his bushy eyebrows made a single, dark line. Something was wrong and Maisie’s tummy started to hurt.
Passing Through Terminals
I had just unwrapped my turkey sandwich when a woman informed me a man had had a heart attack. I twisted in my seat to look over my shoulder at the paramedics huddled over a gurney, blocking gate H4. On the gurney lay an unconscious elderly fat man in khaki pants and a Tommy Bahama shirt. So that was why they had changed my flight to gate H3. I bit into the sandwich as I watched the paramedics work. The paramedics calmly but quickly performed an intubation. Then they set in place an automatic CPR machine that pumped down on his chest in perfect rhythm. Each pump into his chest bulged his great belly out in a wave down to the waist of his pants, where it reversed back to his chest. I watched wave after wave crush his ribcage. I watched that big belly bounce back and forth as the man lay unconscious, and I resolved to take good care of myself as long as I lived in the hope that I could avoid collapsing in front of an audience. I glanced around at the other passengers seated around the terminal. A new year had begun the day before, and the terminal was packed with people waiting for their next flight. Some hadn’t noticed, or preferred not to. Others watched with grim expressions. The man and the paramedics working to save him were on the other side of a glass wall that separated the gate entry from the rest of the terminal. The ones in the seats closest to him stared through the glass like it was a hospital show on TV. No one else ate while they watched the man on the verge of dying. I wondered what that said about me. I finished the first half of the sandwich and picked up the second. The paramedics strapped the man’s limp arms to the CPR machine. Now it appeared at quick glance as though the man held this machine over himself as it crushed his rib cage and distended his abdomen every other second. Another man in a track jacket stood by, talking to one of the paramedics. Even from this far away, I could tell his hand was shaking. I wondered what relation to the dying man he was--brother, son, nephew? Or maybe he was just a colleague and the pair had returned from some conference or golf retreat together, which would explain the light clothing in the Minneapolis airport. It was impossible to tell how the two were connected, which nagged at me. “I think they’re going to harvest his organs,” the woman surmised to her husband, as he had just returned from the restroom. The last bites of the sandwich sparked revulsion in my stomach, perhaps due to the image of organs the woman had foisted on my imagination. But no, my sense of empathy had returned and watching someone die interrupted my appetite. I found that comforting; I was human after all, it seemed. But I had been more comfortable in the detached observer role.
They secured him to the gurney and wheeled him across the terminal to a side area, probably to wait for an ambulance. Or maybe they just wanted to get him away from all the eyes. The CPR machine still hammered into his chest in perfectly timed intervals, but now I wondered if he would have a chance to wake up and feel as though an elephant had been stomping on him. Perhaps the machine only served, at this point, to keep his organs alive for someone whose time hadnâ€™t come yet, who hadnâ€™t yet had a chance to take vacations to tropical locales. Now that he was out of sight, the waiting travellers turned their attention to books, magazines, phones, or CNN while they waited to return home and begin another year. As the man died, life continued to swirl around him.
Adam and Mowgli in Bed
Joseph Huggins 24
Katy Bentham The Romace of a Landscape Painter - A Case Study Part 1 I am currently enamoured with the presenter of a recent BBC Art documentary series. The programme’s predictable melodrama and bizarre editing is inexplicably fascinating. Chris Kraus once said of bad art that it offers a transparency into the hopes and desires of the person who made it. The presenter is an artist of moderate success. I find his paintings deplorably dull. Part 2 I have come to the conclusion that the director shares my infatuation. Betrayed by one too many close-ups of a mouth, of soft lashes; slender hands that busily sketch an ocean scene. Or did he arouse it in me? As simple as a panoramic landscape draped in a stirring soundtrack. I will be stalking his twitter feed later. Part 3 Yesterday I had a tutorial with a new member of the department. He took the conversation outside in order to smoke a fag and grab a coffee. He commented on Art History’s privileging of the ocular Then commented twice on how intelligent I was. Part 4 As we approach the climax, transparency becomes fully clear. I am getting tired of the name-dropping; the bias, the selectivity and embellishment. He arranges the pieces to fit his own narrative. But he fumbled as early as ‘60s Fluxus and I need him to pay attention. Decidedly quiet when the interviews stop giving him the answers he wants. So he sketches alone on an empty beach, holding down pages against the wind, and dreams of Classical ruins. … “History is built on shifting sands.” I offered. “Well said.” He replied. Then takes a drag.
WM Lewis The Tears They Carry
I didn’t know you recited quietly the words to Field Commander Cohen to help you sleep, those nights when the stars reach down and drench your mind in the tears they carry from far away tragedies and joys. I have my own confession: It’s the bass that gets me every time, swashbuckling like Errol Flynn on a bender, the verses some dames it met in a forgotten-name bar. From now on, if I can’t sleep, I’ll grow a tiny moustache, swagger to the bar, and ask for tears sans ice. And I’ll hum something we both recognize.
Lies from the Light Valeria Siretanu
The Wi-Fi in this place didnâ€™t work. Your name. She wrote with finger tips and espresso drips on a glass table surface.
Christopher Kudyahakudadirwe Unknown Destination Telephone poles flash by Counting down the distance To an unknown destination, A place where my ancestors Never had been before. My nose mists the panel pane Making it translucent to the eye As I try to peer through it To remember nameless mountains That follow from a distance. My stomach speaks A language of discontent Accusing me of negligence. I must run far from my liberator Who has turned oppressor.
Alice Leach Fine Fine Tights 30
WM Lewis Thank You Plucky Youngster
Thank you plucky youngster for helping save the farm Your hope flies straight and true like those ducks (bosom friends the lot of â€˜em) at the handsome pond Your hair in allegorical braids make me feel myself once more I pretend they are bell ropes in a quaint church, that I am religious, and like a teasing acolyte, I pull them toward me in ecstasy There will be a place for you always in here, girl, in the heart that furls and unfurls with your love (the prettiest piece of business I ever saw) That is the home I carry with me : it is the farm entire, and the orphans they are wanted and welcome there after all
Charlotte Cook A Small World(s)
Video available at: https://vimeo.com/156250537
What Time it Sunset?
It is the rattle of the teacup in its saucer that wakes you. Your father stands beside your bed, dressed for work. “Bad news, poppet. Emergency at the hospital. Victoria is going to have to take you to the airport.” The rage sets your throat ablaze and you flounder around for some cold words to douse the flames. “I don’t drink tea,” you say. “You of all people should know how caffeine buggers up your system.” But you take the cup from him and let him kiss your cheek. Tonight you’ll be back in your own room with Marilyn Manson watching over you from the posters on the black-emulsioned walls. Victoria snatches your ticket and thrusts it at the check-in steward. “Could she have a window seat, please?” “An aisle seat,” you insist. “I like to stretch my legs.” Hasn’t she noticed how tall you’ve grown this past year? How you still don’t know where to put all that extra body? Probably not: too busy pushing her tongue down your father’s throat. She gives you a mournful look. “Don’t you want a window seat? The view would help pass the time.” “Yeah. Eleven hours of staring at clouds. What fun!” Undaunted, she offers to buy you things: a giant Toblerone, a cheery pink paperback, a T-shirt embroidered with a dancing dragon. “Put your purse away,” you say. “It’ll be half the price at the duty-free.” “Come to the café, then. There’s loads of time till your flight.” “Not if I’ve to queue for an hour at Security. Just in case someone’s trying to smuggle a lethal nail file onboard.” That gets her off your back. Victoria wouldn’t want to stymie a security check. “I’d better say goodbye, then.” At least she knows better than to try to kiss you. “Bye.” You walk to the barrier. “Have a good flight. See you next summer.” You show your boarding pass. You don’t look back. You were right about the queue for Security. People shuffle along, sliding their overweight hand-luggage ahead of them. An airport official ushers a couple of children to the front: Unaccompanied Minors. A brother and sister, probably; they remind you of you, years ago, in the days before Victoria. Buoyed up by the special attention, terrified lest a link in the chain of minders should come loose, and you’d be abandoned at the next gate. You blink hard so as not to mess your eyeliner, and fill your mind with memories of Victoria’s pathetic attempts to befriend you over the holiday, memories that cool your throat as smoothly as a vanilla milk-shake. The window seat is occupied by a bearded man in a white crochet skullcap and a grey tunic that covers his legs. The shy smile he flashes you as you dump your backpack on the seat reignites the furnace in your throat. 37
You open the overhead locker and fumble about for somewhere to put your backpack. He puts down his book and gets up. “I help you.” But the stewardess beats him to it, and he shrugs and sits back down. “The flight’s not full today,” says the stewardess as she closes the locker. “You can move seats if you like after takeoff. Plenty of space at the back.” You glare at her. “I’m perfectly comfortable here, thank you very much.” She blushes and scurries away. It feels good until you realise you’re stuck with the bearded guy in the dress all the way to Heathrow. During takeoff he stares out the window, checking his watch as if to ensure things are going to plan. He has all the makings of a terrorist. Not that you care: it would be an appropriate ending to a disastrous holiday for you to be blown to pieces over the Himalayas. Once you’re airborne, you tear your headphones from their wrapper and fiddle with the controls on your armrest until you find the least nerdy channel. You settle down with a Sudoku. There’s something deadly about a long-haul flight. You don’t fear for your safety, the way Victoria does; indeed, a whiff of danger would spice it up a bit. It’s the in-betweenness that does you, that feeling of being nowhere at all. Your senses defeated by the interminable drone of the engine, the artificial light, the sour air, the miniscule meals that taste of plastic. The only way to handle it is to give up all pretence of control. Let the emptiness engulf you. Once you allow yourself to slip into the void, it isn’t so bad. All the injustice that has fed the fire in your throat fades away. You don’t have to fight any more. It’s like the anaesthetic they gave you when they took your appendix out last year. You’ve just lowered your table ready for lunch when he decides he wants out. You step into the aisle and he pushes past, a striped towel in his hand. You think perhaps he doesn’t know there’ll be a whole stack of paper towels in the toilet cubicle. You wonder if paper towels are one of the many things his religion forbids. He doesn’t return until you’re halfway through dessert: a doll’s-house portion of lemon mousse reminiscent of washing-up suds. “Excuse please.” It’s easy to show him how inconvenient it is for you to interrupt your meal and let him through. “Sorry, sorry,” as he squeezes past, the words a soothing balm to your throat. You see now he’s much younger than you thought: twenty, maybe. Not much older than you. It was the long beard that deceived you. You wonder if he was ever an Unaccompanied Minor. You pretend not to watch as he folds away his towel in the holdall under his seat. You feel bad now that you didn’t collect his meal tray for him earlier. You offer him your salad in its hermetically sealed packet, along with the little sachet of French dressing. He smiles and shakes his head. You notice the gap between his two front teeth.
After lunch they dim the lights for the movie. You’ve seen it before, but it’s in the nature of air travel to be bored out of your head, so you flip the switch on your armrest to channel 2 and watch it again. He doesn’t watch though. He turns on his reading light and studies his book. It’s one of those books you read from back to front like Manga, only without pictures and a text like curly mirror-writing. You decide it’s rather cool to be sitting beside someone who can decipher those squiggles. The movie’s building up to its climax when he’s agitating to be out again. “Excuse please. Sorry, sorry.” His rolled-up towel in hand. You could pretend to be so engrossed in the fate of Leonardo DiCaprio that you haven’t noticed your neighbour has a bladder problem. You doubt he has enough English to insist. But it gives you some satisfaction to stand in the aisle, blocking the view of the screen for the people in the row behind. “Thank you. Sorry.” You’re readjusting your headset when you realise he’s got a point. The queue for the toilet is always shortest while people are watching the movie. You decide to join him. You squeeze your feet into your trainers and saunter down the aisle. There’s only an elderly woman waiting at the toilet door. You can’t see him. He must be inside, drying his hands on his stripy towel. A man and a woman come and queue behind you, holding hands. The toilet door opens. It’s not him, just a little boy over-dressed in jacket and tie. Your neighbour must have taken a walk to one of the other toilets. Stretching his legs to ward off thrombosis. No, he hasn’t. He’s there by the emergency exit, kneeling on his towel and rocking forward till his forehead kisses the floor. The people in the seats nearby stare at the screen, self-consciously ignoring his salaaming. You must have shared a long-haul flight with hundreds of Muslims over the years since your father discovered his mission to tend the sick in countries as far away from you and Mum as he could get. Strange how you’ve never before come across one of them praying. Even though everybody knows Muslims have to pray a zillion times a day. The woman behind taps you on the shoulder. “It’s free now.” You squeeze into the toilet cubicle and reapply your black eyeliner. As usual, the tedium gets to you sometime around the middle of the second movie. Still too many hassles till you’re home: the final meal; the landing; the long wait at the luggage carousel; the drive from the airport with Mum contorting herself to ask about the holiday without ever mentioning your father or his paramour. The fire of your throat has subsided, leaving a dull ache and that deadly fatigue that comes from an absence of all the things that make you feel like a person: good music, texting your friends, somewhere to go beyond the toilet. Your Muslim also seems unsettled. He raises the blind and peeps out into the clouds. He consults his watch. You hope it won’t be long before he detonates his bomb and puts an end to all this. 39
He catches you watching him. “Please, what time it sunset?” You laugh. Of course you’ve noticed how, towards the end of the second movie, the clouds are gradually suffused with pink and the sky turns from light to dark. But to label such a phenomenon sunset, and to try to pin it down to a specific time, up here in this no-man’s-land where there is nothing but sky, seems to you ridiculous. Sunset and time make sense only down on the earth’s surface: your father’s cue for a first G&T, Mum’s for the evening news. You can’t have a sunset unless you are somewhere. Your Muslim looks hurt. But determined. You admire that. “You know or you not know?” “I not know. I mean, I don’t know.” “I ask stewardess.” You feel strangely protective. “She’ll think you’re a nutter. Just look out the window and watch. You can’t time it exactly.” “I must exactly.” “Tough titties! You don’t get everything you want in this life. Time’s been suspended here. We know what time we set off and we know what time we’ll land, but for the bit in the middle, who can say what time it is?” You’re not sure if he’s following you. “Why’s it matter to you so much, anyway?” He raises the blind. A pale light floats in. He lowers the blind abruptly. “I must pray. Before sunset.” You unclip your seatbelt, ready to move yet again to let him out. “Then go. Who’s stopping you?” He stays in his seat. “Before sunset. But not too before.” You swallow your laughter. “That’s tricky.” How would you survive the deadness of air travel if you still had to stick to your on-the-earth routines? There’s a certain freedom in giving yourself up to nothingness. You’re not sure how you’d manage a flight if you couldn’t let go. “How do you usually judge it?” He shakes his head. “It first time I flight.” You feel your throat hotting up again. Then you remember those two children in the care of the airport official at Security. They’d never manage to negotiate their way from one world to another without someone to show them the way. You lean across him and push up the blind. There’s a faint tinge of pink in the distance. “If we both keep watch, we might manage it.” He smiles. “Thank you.” “What’s your name?” “Yusuf,” he says. “What your?”
First published August 2012 on the e-zine Metazine (now defunct)
Keith Moul Baseball Many of us like the games. I admire the workings: seasons spring to fall disfigure fields and so, the crew must do its work or the umpire must call “unplayable”; delays under lights; bees, or June bugs seeking eyes and ears; youngsters bonked by liners in opposite stands-foul balls; peanut, beer, and popcorn vendors, games at their backs, ones, fives, tens, and twenties finger-close at their fronts heralding last call, even with extra innings. Summer outs scar the innings, yet grease the workings, totaling runs, hits and errors until the winning is done, winners’ joys caught in the throat of winning’s thrill. Gamble on the tally, if you must, but load the weight with the pitcher’s grinding will: a man on third with less than two away, in the eighth, or in the ninth, numbers exploding game-time like flesh in an ever-festering wound; the dice tumble…and stop, bright ivory, black holes, green envy, red face, yellow down the back: what’s a screaming liner to third, fierce colliding spikes, blood on leather to the best of winter friends?
Throwaway Tights Alice Leach 43
Shoshama Beale A Night Walk Low-hanging clouds glow a dusky pink, reflect the sun sunk so long ago while night surrounds me like a fog, a dream; and I wonder if I’ll ever sleep again— The horizon gleams a dusky pink like a bushfire blazes in the distance, like the fire smouldering in my heart, while two stars like eyes espy my walk and I remember too late to make a wish but stop—for there’s no one to hear, but me and I found out far too late the only one I can save is me. Clouds split apart, frame a moon, bitten, but still beaming; silver falls upon a solitary rose drooping with the possibility of loss not to be uttered— and I wonder if I even want to sleep, for what dreams will come?
Biographies ART Rachael Eden was born in Whitley Bay and graduated from the University of Brighton in 2015 with a BA Hons in Fine Art Painting. She works within her own sci-fi universe, weaving a narrative with seemingly disparate images. She finds her imagery instinctively, leafing through books and magazines until an image or story grabs her. Eden’s work can be read in many different ways, with each viewer projecting their own ideas and narratives onto it. Visit her website at: www.rachaeleden.weebly.com Petra Szemán is an art student in her third at Newcastle University.. Her work is mainly concerned with the tension between fiction and ‘reality’, including fictional selves fake memories, and memory as an unreliable narrative device. She mainly works with animation, collage and drawing but is fascinated by comics as well. Her website is found at petraszeman.tumblr.com Linda Bernhard is a Swiss artist based in Worthing, West Sussex, UK. She received her BA in Sculpture from Northbrook College Sussex and her MFA degree from the University of Chichester, UK. Linda works from her studio at Worthing Art Studios. You can see her portfolio at: www.lindabernhard.ch Charlotte Cook centres her work on moments of dislocation and queerness/otherness. She works with a variety of media, allowing her work to manifest accordingly. Charlotte studies Fine Art at Newcastle University and is working on a number of scenes/moments stemming from the idea of the mirror and the double-edged sword. Visit www.vimeo.com/littlemissnoface or www.littlemissnoface.tumblr.com/tagged/littlemissnoface for more info.
English artist, printmaker and visual poet Alice Leach discovered fine arts at the progressive Dartington Hall School in Devon. She trained in London, first at Chelsea College of Arts and then at City and Guilds of London Art School, leaving with a 1st and the Executive Committee Prize for Outstanding Work. Her work is in numerous private collections including Jean Muir and Andrew Motion | http://www.aliceleach.com/ | http:// aliceleach-artist.blogspot.co.uk/ | https://www.facebook.com/Alice-Leach-Artist-360415881814/ Cloe Sparrow is fascinated with the ambiguous image and the effect ambiguity in art, has on the viewer. She uses sculpture, painting and photography, to create an experience, in which the audience is unsure of what they are observing but feel inclined to look closer. In regards to painting, Cloe perceives painting as a way of child-like expression and enjoys using paint in unusual and playful ways, often involving sculptural elements. For more info, see: http://www.facebook.com/cloesparrowartist Joseph Huggins loves painting on small MDF boards, embellishing the surface with thick juicy colours applied with a loaded brush. He has recently been inspired by combat footage seen in magazines or on online image boards. The way tracer fire and distant explosions look on film is of particular interest. He likes to deal with heavy subject matter as well as more trivial subjects such as conversations with people online. He enjoys playing with the idea of a beautiful painting of a terrible thing. More of Josephâ€™s work can be found at http://joseph-huggins.weebly.com/ and www.instagram.com/joseph_huggins/ Valeria Siretanu was born in Moldova, Eastern Europe, a part of the world with a rich heritage in documentary and probably the reason for her photography aspirations. She is now working on combining some real life, visual-photography on the one hand and literary characters on the other.
LITERATURE Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, is scheduled for May 2017. Anne is also a book blogger and author of over 60 published short stories. Catch up on her website, annethology or on Twitter @Annecdotist. Anne will be speaking about her debut novel, which is primarily set in Newcastle, at the City Library on 5th May 2016. Christopher Kudyahakudadirwe is a Zimbabwean freelance writer, poet and English teacher living and working in South Africa. He holds a Masters of Arts and Creative Writing from the University of the Western Cape. His first poems appeared in a magazine called Tsotsoin the 90s which was published by the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe. His first short story was published in 2013 in an e-book entitled Ghost-Eater and Other Stories. Two of his poems were published in an anthology entitled Best “New” African Poets 2015. His novel You Are Not Alone earned him a cum laude in his MA studies. Darren Zastruga is a 35-year-old Federal government regulatory compliance bureaucrat in Washington, DC with too much imagination for his job. He spends much of his time wondering what it means to be an ethical bureaucrat and where decisions and free-will intermix. He offsets the left-brain demands of his job by letting his right brain take over his computer at night. Soaking up new knowledge keeps him happy even if it doesn’t let him sit still. In the rest of his spare time, Russian history, neuroscience, literature, squirrel social dynamics, data analysis, and behavioral psychology make his brain fire on all neurons. Keith Moul’s poems and photos are published widely. Finishing Line Press released his latest chap, called The Future as a Picnic Lunch in November, 2015. 48
W.M. Lewis is an Australian poet and writer. His poetry has appeared in Alliterati Magazine, Best Australian Poems 2011, Cordite Poetry Review, Eclecticism, Multiverses, PoV Magazine, Railroad Poetry Project, street cake magazine, The Night Light and Tincture Journal. You can find him on Twitter at @ mindintoword or at whatevertheysing.wordpress.com/ Katy Bentham is a Fine Art student at Newcastle University currently working in a variety of mediums including video, text, sound and live performance. This reflects an ongoing interest in gender, women loving men and the nature of fan obsession. Born in London in 1993, C.J.S. Williams has since traveled to and lived on most continents. He settled for the longest time in New York, on the Eastern coast of the United States, where he spent his school years before coming to finish his education at Goldsmiths College, where he studies English Literature and Creative Writing. He has been published several times before, including Electric Readâ€™s 25 Writers Under 25. Ceinwen Cariad Haydon has always considered writing important. As a Probation Officer/Social Worker she used language to ensure clients had an authentic voice in reports that concerned them â€“ to capture their stories in order to advocate fairly on their behalf. Over the last few years she has started to write creatively. Her work is mainly short fiction and free verse poetry, although she is experimenting with different forms. Eventually, she hopes to facilitate creative writing projects with underprivileged groups. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. Brooke Miramontes is a writer, Jane Austen fanatic and college dropout. Originally from Utah, she now lives in Germany with her real-life Mr. Darcy and their young son. She is currently working on her first novel. Her twitter handle is @brookamontes. 49
Editors Senior and Literature Editor
Art and Format Editors
Literature Editors Hazel Soper