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Issue 3: Location January 2018


Contents

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L’Accalmie ( Baie Saint -Paul ) Glyn Edwards

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Love and Video Games Chelsea Vaught

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Finessing the Winter Winston Plowes

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Lost in the Moonlit Market Mandy Huggins

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Climb a Mountain Claire Allinson

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Cover Image: Timon Klauser (Unsplash)

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Fallout Michael Carter

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Steady On Susmita Bhattacharya

Otzi of the Ancient Mountains Ann Colcord

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Horizintally, with Opera in the Background Christina Dalcher 28

Belonging Diane E. Tatlock

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Taf Judy Darley

Throat Singing In Paris Thea Pueschel

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Field Notes of a 24 Black Woman in Sicily Tiffany Sciacca

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Homeware Samantha White

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If I Hadn’t Visited Turkey Ion Corcos

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From Above Liz Falkingham Temple

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Empty Shoes John Herbert

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Mahabaleshwar in Winter Munira Sayyid

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We Rule Lisette R. Auton

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Listen to the Silence David McVey

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Editor’s Note

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efore curating this issue, for me the word adventure was synonymous with glamorous locations and the kind of stunts only seen in bad action movies. Adventures are exciting or unusual experiences – we checked and there’s no qualifying list demanding explosions, car chases or death-defying stunts. They can happen to anyone, anywhere at anytime. At DNA Magazine UK, we celebrate the memories and moments of ordinary lives. In this issue we’ll also explore the places which form the backdrops of our writer’s experiences. We’ll take you throat singing in a wine cellar in Paris with Thea Pueschel, seek out absolute silence in the Scottish Highlands with David McVey, peer into the face of our prehistoric ancestors with Ann Colcord and survive the fallout of the end of the world with Michael Carter. The Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Civilisation, as we think of it, is around 6,000 years old. Looking at the marks we’ve made and are making on the landscape – the good and the bad – it’s easy to forget how insignificant the time we exist for is. Our lives are just pieces of flash creative non-fiction in the history of this planet. I can’t help but wonder if, one day, our descendants will look at our skyscrapers in the same way that we look at the pyramids.

Katie Marsden

With thanks to: Alexander Jones Eliza Burmistre Gary Clarke South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology

dnamag.co.uk hello@dnamag.co.uk

© 2018 DNA Magazine UK. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission—please respect the

@DNAMagazineUK

rights of our contributors.

Image (next page): ©Jerome Theriault

Editor-in-Chief


L’Accalmie ( Baie Saint -Paul ) Glyn Edwards

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he bleached hull, sunk now into a white-washed shore, moored at marram grass bollards drifts on tides of sleep, currents of age. Restharrow and sandwort knot it to the drydock, only through cataract wheelhouse windows, does a visiting sea silver near. At dusk, while distant Montreal becomes campfire coals, this beached boat trembles again its sinewy rigging, checks thinned charts and maps a motionless voyage. Soon, Cassiopiea dusts a rusty mast in diamond, the Little Fox stalks nebula towards neglected nets, and Cygnus hurries a shoal of stars onto the deck. The sky, a saturate of swimming light, The boat lulled into life by night.

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Love and Vid Chelsea Vaught

idden in an upper level of a shopping centre near Tottenham Court Road station is an arcade, and in that arcade there is a red neon-lit room filled with screens connected to buttons, all programmed to play only one Japanese street fighting video game. This is where my first real boyfriend took me for the first half of our real dates together. Afterwards he would treat me to a meal deal at Wetherspoon’s, including a pint, but first I had to sit on a cheaply upholstered stool in this room and watch his favourite character fight. We’d travel in from New Cross, requiring two buses (one a bendy bus so we could hop on in the middle without tapping our Oyster cards), and slowly criss-cross our way up the elevators to the top floor of the shopping centre. Our room was in the back of the arcade, and we walked over cosmic bowling carpeted floors past video shooting games and basketball hoops to get there. Just before we went in my boyfriend would check through the door to make sure there was space for him. He always found a free machine. I never wanted to waste my own pound coins on a game, and he never offered his. Instead I watched the rows of screens. They played the same background animation over and over again while Japanese phrases repeated from the speakers. Each pixelated character demonstrated their signature move in saturated colour. If you leaned in close enough to get a static electricity shock, every pixel stood out on its own. After an hour, usually, he’d decide he’d spent enough time and money and it was time to go. We’d zig-zag back down to street level, walk to the oversized Wetherspoon’s in a former theatre lobby, and slide into a booth. ‘Your limit is eight quid,’ he’d tell me. I was in love.

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Image: Ben Neale (Unsplash)

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deo Games

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Finessing the Winter Winston Plowes Finessing: the jockeying for position and feigning of attacks occurring near the end of a race, usually between a small group of breakaway riders.

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n the four days from 24th to 27th December 2013, poet and cyclist Winston Plowes cycled a total of 505 km (312 m) as part of the Rapha Festive 500 challenge. Based in York, UK, his journeys took him to the North West coastline, the exposed North Yorkshire Moors and across the flat lands of the Vale of York. He rode in blinding sunshine, freezing fog, gale force winds and the loneliness of total darkness. It was a battle between the weather and a cyclist’s resolve. He chose extra kilometres over extra Christmas pudding and was victorious. Finessing the Winter documents this adventure in a contemporary take on the Japanese Haiga form combining short poems with digitally altered images taken from the saddle exploring the interaction between a cyclist, his path, nature and the elements.

man in front made a keyhole in the mist. Big enough for me to squeeze through.

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Images: ŠWinston Plowes

The


The wind of hate blew like the blades

of reckless

scissors. Snipping off the corners of

everything that moved.

A double whisper crushed in the dusk.

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Images: ŠWinston Plowes

Two tyres cross a bracken sprig.


The night wiped his memory.

Rewound his ambition back to the quick.

Ahead the light, the road and the thin white line.

Behind -

Images: ŠWinston Plowes

Nothing exists or ever can.

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Freezing the green from the grass, and blending it with sky.

Room 31: filled with the scent of rubber, oil and

victory

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Images: ŠWinston Plowes

Diluting the landscape to nothing, scouring the day to the bone.


Lost in the Moonlit Market Mandy Huggins

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e are lost. Hopelessly lost in Chandni Chowk, in a sensory overload of night-time noise and colour. We arrive at Delhi’s moonlit market in the hot dusty afternoon. Shopkeepers sit in the languid shade of their doorways, sipping chilled lassi with their neighbours. Customers are scarce, waiting for the cooler evening, and screeching macaques chase across the rooftops. In the textile kucha steep wooden steps lead to a cornucopia of saris and fabrics in every colour and pattern. Bolts of jewel bright silk are unrolled across the floor. They billow like parachutes, before settling in flowing rivers of emerald and cerise. Mr Rajdeep sends his son for cups of sweet milky chai, and we allow him to woo us with soft cashmere shawls and artful flattery. When we descend to the street, dusk is turning to night. We retrace our steps along narrow lanes and alleyways, now crammed with shoppers and hawkers. There are silversmiths, falooda stalls, and tiny shops selling marbled paper. Electrical shops flash brightly with strings of garish lights, and the streets become a confusing swirl of bangles, sandals and spices. In the dark and bustle it is easy to lose any sense of direction. As we pass the same book shop for the third time, I admit defeat. The syrup-sweet aroma of the jalebi stall merges with the pungent smell of rotting vegetables and the smoky scent of incense. A discordant symphony of horns competes with music blaring through tinny speakers. As I dodge a

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Image: Pratham Gupta (Unsplash)

relentless stream of handcarts and porters with swaying loads, I hear a call to prayer, and quickly say my own. At the corner a gangly teenager stops me. ‘Rickshaw, ladies?’ Vishal promises that his bicycle is nearby, and leads us quickly through the alleys, turning left, right and left again, winding skillfully between shoppers and sauntering cows. In our haste to keep up I don’t notice for a moment that he has led us down a tiny unlit lane. I pause, unsure, my heart lurching. He turns and beckons. I keep going, on blind trust, my sandal squelching in a pile of something soft. Within minutes we are outside the market and balanced precariously on the narrow rickshaw seat. We grip our flimsy carrier bags of bounty, as Vishal struggles gamely with his bulky cargo, swerving between buses, lorries and smoke-spuming tuk tuks. Then, without warning, he stops at a huge junction and refuses to go any further. He explains, with an emphatic nod and a crooked smile, that he is not allowed to ride into New Delhi and he must drop us here. Diving across sixteen lanes of traffic we find a restaurant on the corner. A bowl of tarka daal, two cold beers, and we step back out into the street clutching our map. We walk to the corner and turn to each other with a shrug. Unfortunately, for a map to work, you have to know your starting point. We are still hopelessly lost.

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Climb A Mountain Claire Allinson

ach day I face my Everest. My front door is an impenetrable wall of ice and stone separating me from the world outside. Some days I ascend, my confidence swelling with each step until I reach my summit, dizzy with euphoria, planting a flag of victory in my front garden as I join the world. Other days I don’t. The wall is just too slippery to climb and the strength to conquer it deserts me. Today, like many before, I stand at my doorstep basecamp and face the slope. The glass on my door shining as the sunlight creeps through like a glacier on a sun-drenched day. Knowing that if I could climb to the top there are riches beyond my wildest dreams – fresh air, companionship, normality, life. Like the promise of a win on the lottery on the condition you simply buy a ticket. ‘It’s that easy,’ I tell myself. ‘Just turn the handle and climb. Don’t think, just do.’ But an inner voice stops me – warning me of the avalanche of dangers ahead, the likelihood that I will slip. Fall. Fail. ‘I’m a headline addict, searching out stories to fuel the fear within. Knowledge equals control and I crave [it] like an addict craves their fix. But the more knowledge I have, the less control it gives me. I fear the story of Pandora and her box – worried that I too may unleash unknown terrors with the simple action of opening something. Channelling my rage and bitterness, I dare myself to peer out of the small, hazy glazed oblong. What does it veil? What horrors, what delights lurk beyond? It’s impossible to tell through the glass.’ Next time I reach for the handle maybe I will find the hope that Pandora left behind. Tomorrow I will climb my Everest and I will be on top of the world.

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Image: Heimstraße by Javier Arce (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Image: ŠMichael Carter


Fallout Michael Carter

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wo hundred and fifty miles from Ground Zero. Children laughed and raced through an obstacle course made of hula hoops, hockey sticks, and frisbees. A game of lawn darts was underway. Mother picked strawberries. The barbecue’s glowing coals crisped hot dog skins to perfection. It was bright and sunny when the front of grey clouds began their approach. Not to worry, the adults told us, the storm is far away. It won’t ruin our backyard party with family and friends. We carried on, but the front kept coming, the menacing grey wall steadily pressing forward. Heads twitched and turned nervously towards the advance. Fingers pointed to the sky. ‘The clouds are coming too fast,’ a voice finally shouted. ‘It can’t be a storm.’ Our laughter subsided. Chatter around the barbecue dwindled to whispers. Everyone froze, as if trapped in a photograph, trapped in time. We all stood, motionless, facing the approaching darkness. A swing seat rocked to a halt on its chains. The dog tucked his tail and scurried to the kennel. Birds fluttered in the Ponderosa Pines and chirped sporadically. Nervous jabber erupted amongst the adults. ‘The Soviets are coming!’ Someone screamed. The adults frantically gathered the food and corralled us inside as day turned to night. We peered out the windows as a blanket of grey coated the ground, like snow. Is this how it would end? Would we die from a nuclear explosion? Or would we live through the attack but later succumb to radiation? Fire trucks arrived in the neighborhood to hand out gas masks. The adults went to work shovelling and hosing down the driveways and cars in case we had to flee our homes. 57 people were incinerated or died from the blast, ashes circled the world, and the disaster left an indelible imprint on a little boy that any day could be his last. It was May 18, 1980, the day Mount Saint Helens erupted.

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Ozti of the Ancient Mountain Ann Colcord

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Image: Š South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/Ochsenreiter

ff trail hikers found old Otzi frozen flat, down in a mountain ravine, not the hapless skier they presumed but a relic from the copper age. Otzi stares back at us a face of 5000 years, permanent curl fixed on his stiff upper lip, flattened nose after eons lying face down, eyes sunken deeply, but eyes nevertheless, astonishing that Otzi has a face at all after so long pressed against glacial time, his look seems one of tired wisdom as if he had glimpsed time complete, lying there on that hard bed of ice, mortal arrow tip planted in his shoulder, mind holding on in an icy purgatory, then letting go of his claimed place those mountains, those times, the rising ice, the falling waters. Otzi’s face stares like a strange statue collected from some remote moonscape, set on display where future aliens poke and prod, run their scans, their carbon dating, comparing his copper cares to our digital ones, at last turning to meet Otzi’s stare with sudden uneasy recognition.

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Belonging Diane E. Tatlock

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Image: Brass bed in Danboro by Rachel Pasch (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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he excitement. I remember the excitement. Something different Something new, untried. Like being on the edge. Going through an open door. So I didn’t feel anxious about it, just unfamiliar. Not true, of course. I’d known it all my life – the house. But all I’d ever been before was a visitor, going to see Gran and Granpa. Now it was to become my home. The place where I would wake up in the morning; where I would come home from school to; where I would go to sleep each night. Getting the hang of that might be difficult. The two rooms we’d lived in – my Mum, Dad, brother and me – were comfortable and comforting, close and warm. Sleeping together in one room felt good. Mum and Dad in one bed, me and my brother in the other. ‘It’s not right now you’re 11,’ Mum had said. ‘We’ll move across town to Gran’s.’ But it had always felt right before. It was safe and we all fitted in. Today was the day. Anticipation. Eagerness even. But also a flutter of fear. Of the unknown. Of change. Of Gran. I worried about not being able to hear Mum, Dad and George breathe in the night if we weren’t all in the same bedroom. I’d never been allowed upstairs before. We poked our heads round the door of one room and saw just a double bed and, crammed into a corner, a cupboard. Mum and Dad in here then. Next door we inspected a small, thin room. A single bed. George in here. No room for me. Downstairs again Gran stood in an open doorway, arms folded. Guarding rather than inviting in. A double bed, smelling of bodies, took up most of the space. A huge mirrored wardrobe stood in one alcove. A thin camp bed in the other, cold metal legs stretched tight into the fireplace, the only meagre space for its child-sized length. It looked squeezed in. At the last moment. An afterthought. ‘This is for you,’ Gran said. I stared, folded in on myself. An unnecessary addition. I was unwanted. I turned away, cried quietly inside. I want to go home. I didn’t belong.

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Throat Singing in Paris Thea Pueschel

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n a tunnel of white tiles, I waited patiently for the metro. Full, sardines in a can. People pressed against windows. I waited for the next. Full, again. It was rush hour in Paris and I was to meet my friend at a restaurant ten stops down the line. The third train arrived, I stood solitary for a brief moment in the middle of the car. The next stop, we were packed like sardines again. I had the armpits of strangers in my face, the damnation of being short. I cast my eyes down; I saw a sweet young Parisian woman give me a look of sympathy and a slight smile. I smiled back and laughed at my fortune. I stepped out somewhere along Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the trees wore beautiful fall colours. I had been wandering my friend’s hometown, and she had invited me to a Tibetan Singing Circle. I joined her on the restaurant patio; we enjoyed wine and conversation as her friends arrived. A dishevelled young man in a trenchcoat, a stylish scarf and a Shruti box under his arm joined us. His sandy blonde hair fell into his eyes, he brushed it away with flair and lit a cigarette. He greeted everyone in French. My friend let him know I didn’t speak French. He looked at me with a gleam in his eye and exhaling smoke, ‘Then English, yes? You speak?’ ‘Yes, I am sorry I don’t speak French.’

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Image: Helena Lopes (Pexels)

He clutched his heart. ‘An accent, yes? An American accent. I love American accents they are so sexy. I am afraid; bah, I don’t speak good English.’ ‘Your English is way better than my French,’ I replied. ‘Pfff,’ he smiled. Moments later, we walked down a narrow dimly lit staircase to a basement. My friend turned back to me and said, ‘The old wine cellars have better acoustics, good for all types of singing rehearsal.’ We sat at the end of a long table. An attractive man sat next to me and began to speak. I smiled, ‘I’m sorry I don’t speak French.’ ‘Bah!’ He said, then slowly smiled and continued in French towards me. Men of various ages started to sit next to me, offering to translate. It felt otherworldly; I wore men’s slacks, chucks, a long-sleeved tee and messy raven hair, I wasn’t a slobby American, I was exotic. I had to laugh. The teacher instructed us to sing from our throats. He tutted, tsked, pfft, bof’d and bah’d. He’d strike a note on the Shruti, and make a secret wish. He’d touch his throat and chin, then instruct the placement of the tongue and what tonality should emerge. He sang in overtones; everyone tried so hard. Eventually, the room burst with guttural sounds. I was throat singing in Paris.

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Field Notes

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of a Black woman in Sicily Tiffany Sciacca

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have trained myself to count cobblestones. Elbows in, dark toes covered. To walk quick or risk the glare of a local man, recoil of a pig-tailed girl as she eats the best gelato in town. I have trained myself to sense the soft spots, landmarks, I am my own map. The cashier at the supermercato who always says, thank you even when I say grazie. Who takes the time to count out my change in English as the old woman behind bumps her cart into my side. I cross the piazza, quick now!

Image: Tommy Rau (Pixabay)

To the sisters at the kiosk who always say, prego! Who serve sweet drinks, with a kiss on each cheek, dismaying a tourist from the South. Down another block—further on I reach the centrepiece of town. Through iron gates, trees older than the local grudge, blue sea, fishing boats. Nooks full of flowers and shade where one can hide in a good book, watch your girl play alone, dread the long walk home.

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Image: Floods by Ashwan Lewis (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Steady On Susmita Bhattacharya

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hey reach the corner and stop. The filth is bobbing around their waist. A rat swims past. A sanitary pad floats up to her. She turns and retches. ‘Look what you’ve done,’ he shouts. And now around them, bubbling like stew, her breakfast. They move on, slowly, dragging their feet. They mustn’t fall into an open manhole. She’s sobbing. The rain washes her salty tears away. Her eyes sting and she cannot see very far. She wants to throw these clothes away. She wants to peel her skin off. She holds on to his shoulder as he tests each footfall. There are others, like them, balancing in the water. Lurching. Slipping. Clutching to one another for support. The sharp pain hits the side of her belly. She screams. He holds her up and comforts her. They can do it. They must do it. There are helping hands along the way. She stays focussed. Ignore the pain and keep moving, is his mantra. Today of all days, she curses under her breath. Try to hold back, he urges her. But no, there is no way out. She shuts her eyes and immediately a picture of her Gods and Goddesses with garlands round their necks springs to mind. She wades, comforted by their image. The filthy flood water swishes around like a whirlpool, threatening to swallow her whole. But she perseveres. They reach the fluorescent lobby of the hospital. A starched white nurse reaches out for her. Her waters break. (Published in Flash - The International Short-Short Story magazine 2013)

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Horizontally, Christina Dalcher

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ommunication in the summer of ’87 came in three flavours: air mail, surface mail, and Western Union telegram, a panic-inducing trifecta for me, the girl flying solo on her way to a surprise non-Roman holiday in what a Let’s Go travel guide dubbed ‘the armpit of Italy’—the industrial port city of Genoa. I forked over ten bucks and sent a cryptic message to the handsome (but penniless) pianist I’d met in Vienna last year: Arrivo a Malpensa 0800 21 Marzo was the best Italian I could come up with. Then I chain-smoked my way across the Atlantic on Pan Am and set down south of the Alps, 100 miles from the address tucked in my purse. The pianist, tall and blonde and lean, met me outside customs, scooped me in his arms, and a romantic moment worthy of Love Actually ensued. Passengers whistled, stony faces of immigration officers cracked their first smiles, and I melted into Roberto as an airport busker squeezed out O Sole Mio on his accordion. I made that part up. What really happened: I roamed Malpensa International for an hour until a janitor with three fingers on his left hand asked if I was lost, called Roberto the AWOL pianist, and got me on a bus that took me to a train that took me to another train. Three hours later, my non-rolling suitcase and I stood in Genoa’s sooty main terminus.

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Image: FotoshopTofs (Pixabay)

With Opera in the Background This time, there was kissing. Travel, I think, is a lot like labour pains. Hell while you’re going through it; forgettable once the ordeal ends. My foggy memories of that hour in the Milan arrivals hall were burnt away by the events of the next week, which consisted of: sex, opera, trips to the conservatory, sex, dubbed Clint Eastwood movies on a black and white portable television, sex, morning coffee and bread left by Roberto’s grandmother, Roberto playing Tchaikovsky and Chopin and Kern and Porter, sunset walks along the seaside promenade, sex, and a growing conviction that once I lost thirty pounds and grew boobs the size of cantaloupes, I was, in fact, destined to be the next Sophia Loren. I saw Roberto once more when I was a year older, a year less starry-eyed, and no longer romanced by nightly readings of Schopenhauer and the entire Germanic canon of philosophical pessimism. We parted ways on track nine of the rail station with melodrama that would make Madam Butterfly envious. There was no kissing. But tears, yeah. Some decades later I realized I was in love with a country, not a man. My breath still catches whenever my non-smoking, non-Pan Am flight touches down in the land of Puccini and puttanesca sauce. I owe Roberto, though. He taught me how to speak his language in the oddest of ways: horizontally, with the windows open, and with opera playing in the background.

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Taf Judy Darley

From here the Taf Estuary is a curl of wet sand, its blue and green a bruise on mottled skin. A beauty impossible to capture in paint. My own skill, lacking, reduces me to mud. I picture a stretch of shining land, hollows where crab corpses desiccate. And you wading through the cloud-shadowed band between safety and surety into a space where each step sucks and all that keeps you upright is your will.

Image: © Judy Darley

The curlew keeps calling its glass-rimmed cry, reminding me of how you used to pause, urge me to listen with nostalgia in your eyes. You walked me once through Laugharne to Milk Wood, stride in stride with Dylan’s creaking ghost, sharing jokes about priested herons and heroned priests. Now you’re the one haunting your own shore, the river in the estuary weaving memories where you stood.

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Empty Shoes John Herbert

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Image: Shoes on the Danube by Nikodem Nijaki (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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hey sit at the side of the river, 20 feet above the water, lined up higgledy, the site, perhaps, of an impromptu swim, a mass response to a hot day, perhaps. But they are not new shoes, are weathered, wrinkled by exposure, the detritus of twigs and leaves gathered within them. Beneath their sombre colours, there is a glint of brass where the paint has faded, shoes left here by an artist: sculptures. You search for a sign, look down the river bank before you see it, past old men sat in good coats, smoking cigars at a riverside café, who watch you. You find a plaque that tells, first in Hungarian, then in English, about the rounding up and shooting, how they made the owners step out of their shoes when they assembled them here by the river. You recall other travels, the cramped house by another waterway, in Amsterdam, a city of diamonds and learning. You imagine the ring of jackboots on cobbles, now home to the shuffle of stoned students’ feet, imagine the averted gazes and angry, impotent stares of the locals when the trucks roared through those narrow streets, searching. You hear the terror and the shouts as the owners of these shoes were brought to the edge, marched in wailing clumps, made to step out of them and stand on the flagstones, the cold and grit striking stockinged feet. You saw the names lined up at the Pinkas Synagogue where, 200 yards from the main square in Prague, past the gilded perfumeries and boutiques, past the throng of the weekend party crowd, the buildings become drab, the litter clusters in the gutters and the mood turns sombre. Here, you saw another monument, stark in red and black, the name of every Jew transported from Bohemia cover the synagogue walls, the scale of their suffering reduced to stark columns of text, so small you feared getting too close to read the names lest you touch the walls, make an unintended mark. You remember too a room of shoes like these, a landslide of them, cut off from you by a glass panel and decades, shoes whose leather was withered by time, wrinkled like the skin of bog men exhumed, the cold whip of the wind through exposed walkways afterward as you walked away, an easy escape. You were silent in the coach back and think of the beer you drank that night in Krakow’s only Irish bar, washing away the image. You sit now at a table, a cold beer before you, the Danube and the old men at your back, writing. You think of your wife and girls back in your adopted city and of a young girl in her home city, trapped in a cramped attic, writing too, waiting for the knock. You know that only by some accident of birth and time those are not your shoes or these old men’s, know too that to write is to walk in others’ shoes.

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We Rule Lisette R. Auton

e were four until my mother made us five with a soft-gummed sobbing sister, too young to understand our world of battle lines and sun-drunk imaginings. Braille teeth prints in the soft pine bunk marked our passing years as new canines grew from fairy’s money under pillows steeped in the green warmth of summer days laid to rest. We ruled the Triangle: Bogey Crash where Tom lost a tooth and had to remake his mark, our Tree Stump steeped in nettles where sandalled feet feared to tread and the Honey Monster’s cottage where birthday power balls were lost to twitching curtain stares and tales of children eaten for lunch. Gravel drew our boundaries. Main roads watched by ten wide eyes for tales to tell of kidnappers, rock stars and ice cream vans leading to another place, another triangle, where four children in hand-me-down knitted jumpers with scuffed chins and grazed knees wind their own multi-coloured strands.

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Image: Pezibear (Pxhere)

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Image: Kmart Reynoldsburg, OH 2 by Mike Kalasnik (CCC BY-SA 2.0)

Homeware Samantha White

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t’s almost midnight and I’m standing in the homewares department. I’ve just come off evening shift and I can’t make myself go home. My eyes still burn from the overlit lab, and the stench of latex and formaldehyde is lodged in the back of my throat. Kmart is warm and empty and open. The house will be dark and cold, toys scattered over the kitchen floor, dishes soaking in the sink, no goodnight note left on the bench. In the discount trolley, they have this bag of assorted toffees for three dollars. I’ve bought them before. All the flavours are good except the liquorice, which tastes like potting mix. But just like I find myself chewing the heel of my hand until it bleeds, I can’t stop eating those liquorice toffees. The aisles seem wider without customers, flowing through and around the displays, pushing you along and pulling you back. The homewares are bright and cheap peacock-feathered candles scented with citronella, sequinned and beaded and fake-fur cushions, blocks of wood that sing LOVE and JOY in rustic cursive script. When I was ten, I tidied the living room as a surprise for my mother. I’d done the Shake n’ Vac to put the freshness back in our old floral carpet, and the furniture shone with Mr Sheen. I’d put Mum’s Enya cassette on the stereo, and opened the patio doors so the net curtains billowed in the breeze. Oh, she said when she saw it, I’d have rather you washed the dishes. There’s a girl stacking the shelves in the book department, her feet turned out like a ballerina, her long, purple nails clacking as she checks the shelf tags. We’re closing in 10 minutes, she says, not looking at me. I pick up a desk organiser that I know I will return unopened. It’s raining outside. By the time I find the keys, my hair is stuck to my cheeks, the hole in my boot slowly filling with water. There are no unread messages on my phone. I sit in the car with the doors locked and the heater blasting my feet, chewing liquorice toffees until my jaw cramps. Rolling their loamy bulk around my mouth, I remember pouring cold tea over my Granny’s cactus garden while she stands behind me saying not too much, hen, that’s the way.

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If I Hadn't Visited Turkey Ion Corcos

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f I hadn’t visited Turkey I wouldn’t know about the Armenian genocide, the ruins of old Greek villages, that Ataturk was born in Thessaloniki. I wouldn’t know about the whirling dervishes, that Rumi lived in Konya, that Christians once hid underground, the peace of a call to prayer.

Image: Fabio Santaniello Bruun (Unsplash)

That I prefer Turkish moussaka, honey-steeped Greek baklava, that I like both Turkish and Greek coffee, that we share many words, that Greek generosity is also Turkish. I wouldn’t know that there are Kurds who don’t identify, who fight for their own land; that in some places I have to talk about this, quietly. If I hadn’t visited Turkey I would not know how Turkish I look, how close Turkey is to Greece, that I can tell a Turk I am from Greece, and he calls me brother.

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From Above Liz Falkingham Temple

ne curtain is pulled back, so she sees the moon sail from left to right across a sky soaking up night’s indigo bleed. Shadows festoon the trembling canopies of the three trees framed in the oblong slice. Later, a stiff breeze will stir the dipping branches so that bats are shaken free, like moths from skirts hung too long in a closet. Her bed is a barge on sleep’s winding tributaries, and on the banks she hears a tawny owl huff cold notes in passing. The lawn is a silvered sea where shrubs roll like breakers on the faded decking, and seats stretch empty with only the stars for passengers. At the trees’ base, brambles mass and send out their hedgehog troops on trundling missions. She watches from above, a secret general for these night manoeuvres, and there’s no one now to say, come back to bed, love, or pass her on the landing to the bathroom. Overhead, satellites and space stations glide in silence, unblinking eyes cast down on a blue-marbled planet where men are grains of sand. She thinks of his face caught on some unheeding camera far above, one man among millions. How it would always be held in some place, rendered into pixels, cells within cells, as he would not be held here, at least not by her. Once, a fox came with the moonlight. His copper coat was made mink in the monochrome light and she watched him pause by the horse chestnut as though lost in thought. She’d hunted as a child and seen his kin streak like fireworks across green horizons, far out of reach. Now he seemed in touching distance. Then he lifted his head and acknowledged her, some creature framed in brickwork and held behind glass, before trotting on, at ease in his night territory. She waits for his return, stands vigil with the trees.

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Image: © Liz Falkingham

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(Author’s Note: The piece comes from a time after the break up of a long term relationship, when I was struggling with insomnia and felt very lost; what had been a familiar location – our home – felt alien. The animals I saw at night were very much at home, and it was me who felt displaced.)

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Mahabaleshwar in Winter Munira Sayyid

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rom the Konkan Coast to the Western Ghats, we travel in flocks with battered wings and rusted plumes, carrying the sun on our backs. The journey is long, serpentine roads dizzying in its curves and tricks. Like a lady demanding a gentle hand and an appreciative glance of the valley below, lush with hues of green and monkeys grooming each other. We welcome the chill in the air, eager to discard the city and become one with the townfolk. As children, we braved the steps of Pratapgad Fort, and declared ourselves king of all that we could see. On horses, we trotted on Panchgani’s plateau, played tug of war with monkeys over food and drink. We sailed on Venna Lake, tiny boats turning into ships in search of exotic land. Wilson Point never saw us on time for its transcendent sunrise or sunset. We forgot about the Deccan Trapps, disappointed that Elephant Point had no elephants stomping about. And the market found us gnawing at roasted corn cobs sprinkled with lemon juice and red chili powder, slurping on fist sized icicles bathed in candied water, gulping spoonfuls of layers of fresh strawberries, cream and strawberry ice cream, pleading our parents for more money to spend on street games, rarely winning

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Image: Tarun Singh (Unsplash)

prizes like a pack of biscuits or a chocolate bar. Now the tourist spots are no longer exciting to us adults with jobs and college degrees. So we take it upon ourselves to turn the house on the hill station into a home. We fill the rooms with silly banter and laughter, fight over carrom and monopoly, lose shuttlecocks to the roof during badminton and end the night with a game of bingo – our parents, aunts and uncles staying awake past their bedtime with the hope of winning the prize money. Here we are winter beings, waking up to the sound of birds and pet dogs, sleeping to the sound of crickets and frogs. Here we do not curse the sun but welcome it with open arms and a kiss upon its cheek. Here we revitalize, strengthen and heal

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Listen to the Silence David McVey

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o appreciate the importance of listening, you need to know silence. But silence – the complete absence of sound – isn’t easy to find. I last tracked it down in June 1995. On a Friday night, just after midsummer, my wife dropped me at the south end of Loch Lubnaig, just over the Highland Line, beyond the town of Callander. I was climbing Ben Ledi, a 2882ft peak on the Highland edge, in order to see the sunrise. I did see the sunrise, but that’s another sense, another kind of memory that has stayed with me. I climbed briskly through the forest to reach the open hill before the light failed. Soon I was following a faint path on steep slopes above the trees. Even after midnight, full darkness never really came. Eventually I reached the top of a ridge and made for the shore of the glinting silver eye of Lochan nan Corp. In daylight this tiny lochan, over 2000ft up, is one of my favourite wild places, somewhere to linger on a sunny day. Though set on a grassy ridge it is rock-girt. It gets its sombre name from the coffin road that used this pass to reach St Bride’s burial ground by Loch Lubnaig. The story goes that a burial party once came to grief on the Lochan in winter when the ice broke underneath them.

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Image: Jonathan Bean (Unsplash)

I lingered there as a new moon rose. I was now shielded from the sounds of the sparse traffic down below on the A84, and at times the silence was complete. At 2am I found myself tossing in pebbles from sheer fascination at the stillness of the waters. But I stopped; the tiny plink of the pebble as it was swallowed by the silky waters seemed like a minor atrocity. Even a slight scraping of my boot on the gravelly shore was a raucous intrusion. I sat on, listening to the silence. Any sound that came, came from me. Had there been the slightest breath of wind, the troubling of the grass and heather would have been clearly audible, but there was none. About half-past two I decided to make for the summit of Ledi, and walked through the silence, but breaching it with my footsteps and the rustling of my clothes. I reached the summit in the grey pre-dawn, and spent 90 minutes there. Watching the sun’s golden disc slipping above the north-eastern hills, it was easy to understand how the sight moved our ancestors to something between worship and wonder. Yet I was still possessed by a deeper awe of the hill’s powerful night-silence.

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Contributors Glyn Edwards, one of the ‘most exciting young voices in Welsh poetry’, will have his first collection published by The Lonely Press in late 2018. He’s a teacher in North Wales, an MA student at MMU and the Co-Editor of Cheval.

Michael Carter is a Cold War and volcanic eruption survivor. When he drives east from his hometown of Spokane, Washington, he can still see ash deposits from Mount Saint Helens, now 37 years later. (michaelcarter.ink )

Chelsea Vaught is an artist and writer living in Seattle. Originally from Chicago, she spent her 20s in London before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. She loves all cats, unusual superstitions and watercolor painting.

Ann Colcord writes in Boulder County, Colorado, where she’s lived since 1978. Her poetry seeks connection between commonalities in nature, human and non-human, land and culture at a deeper existential level.

Winston Plowes lives aboard his floating home in Calderdale, England. He teaches creative writing in schools and to local groups. His collection of surrealist poetry Telephones, Love Hearts & Jellyfish was published in 2016. (winstonplowes.co.uk)

Diane E. Tatlock spent her working life in the world of PE. After retiring, a love of words led to an interest in writing short stories and flash fiction. She now enjoys entering competitions for fun. She lives in Wiltshire with her husband.

Mandy Huggins’ work has been widely published in anthologies, newspapers and magazines, and both her fiction and travel writing have won several awards. Her first collection, Brightly Coloured Horses, will be published in 2018 by Chapeltown.

Thea Pueschel is the third of four girls, the black sheep and a curious sort. The world fascinates her, she approaches each day with child-like wonderment. Every experience is a story. She’s been writing and creating art since childhood.

Claire Allinson always wanted to write but it took almost forty years to stop procrastinating and do it. She’s a relative newbie to this but have one successful piece of flash fiction about to be published.

Tiffany Sciacca recently moved to Sicily from the Midwest. When she is not tripping over new words or dodging curious stares, she reads horror anthologies, watches Nordic Noir and writes poetry.


Susmita Bhattacharya was born in Mumbai. Her debut novel, The Normal State of Mind, was published in 2015 by Parthian Books. Her work has been published in the UK and internationally. She lives in Winchester. (@Susmitatweets)

Originally from Derbyshire, Samantha White now lives in rural Australia with her husband and two children. She ditched working nights at a hospital pathology lab to work on an MA in creative writing. (samanthawhitewriter.com)

Christina Dalcher is a linguist from the Land of Styron and Barbecue, where she writes, teaches, and channels Shirley Jackson. Her work appears in (b)OINK, Split Lip Magazine, and New South Journal, among others. (christinadalcher.com | @CVDalcher)

Liz Falkingham Temple comes from a farming family near Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. She works as a freelance rural and equestrian journalist. She was long listed for the 2016 Mslexia short story award and has also won a number of flash competitions.

Judy Darley writes poetry, fiction and journalism. Her work appears in magazines, anthologies and in her collection Remember Me To The Bees. She’s read aloud on BBC Radio and at several literature festivals. (skylightrain.com | @JudyDarley)

Ion Corcos has been published in Every Writer, Grey Sparrow Journal, and other journals. He’s a Pushcart Prize nominee and his work centres on life, nature and spirit. He is currently travelling indefinitely with his partner, Lisa. (ioncorcos.wordpress.com)

John Herbert is an teacher from Brighton and a New Writing South Creative Writing Programme alumnus. He made the Brighton Prize longlist and is an AdHoc and Microcosms Fiction winner. His fiction is forthcoming in The Forge.

Munira Sayyid thinks she’ll be visiting Mahabaleshwar till she’s too old to travel. She likes watching movies, listening to music and taking in stray kittens. Her flash fiction and poetry can be found in various online literary journals and magazines.

Lisette R. Auton lives in North-East England. She has a degree in Theatre Acting which taught her how to be a tree. An MSc followed which did not further her tree-based education. She is currently writing her first novel.

David McVey has published over 120 short stories and also writes nonfiction articles. The latest short story, My Memories of Seal Clubbing, appeared in the 2017 New Writing Scotland. He lectures at New College Lanarkshire.


DNA MAGAZINE UK is a quarterly micromagazine celebrating creative non-fiction, flash memoir and autobiographical writing. www.dnamag.co.uk Š 2018 All Rights Reserved

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Profile for DNA Magazine UK

DNA Magazine UK Issue 3  

Issue 3 take readers on adventures in everyday places

DNA Magazine UK Issue 3  

Issue 3 take readers on adventures in everyday places

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