Twice-yearly magazine of Literature & the Arts
Issue 27 â€“ June 2015
Welcome to our summer issue! This has been a year of tremendous personal crisis for our little team, with death and divorce pointing their vicious daggers our way. Through it all we have managed to keep Gold Dust magazine going, by jumping into one anotherâ€™s roles and offering each other support. In fact, being able to focus on the magazine and the continual flow of creativity it sends our way, has offered a welcome focus to bridge this difficult time and a ray of optimism for the future. So I am extra proud to be still here introducing our 27th issue! Gold Dust magazine is a team effort, made up of volunteers who give up their time to read literally hundreds of short stories and poems, or to produce artwork to help bring those stories and poems to life. David Gardiner has been with me on the magazine almost from the beginning and has helped it grow, as well as being instrumental in organising our live events. Adele has been a wonderful addition to the team for over a year now and always selects stunning and intriguing poetry. Also crucial to the magazine are Eleanor, our award-winning photographer, and Slavko, our acclaimed illustrator. In this issue, An African Safari by Frank Scozzari (p4), was selected for our Best Prose award, while Rubbing The Stingers Off Of Hornets by Elijah Dov Santner (p9) was chosen as Best Poem.
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(GD magazine founder)
Gold Dust team
Cover illustration Slavko Mali
Prose Editor & Cover Designer David Gardiner Poetry Editor Adele C Geraghty Photographer Eleanor L Bennett
Cover design David Gardiner Photographs Eleanor L Bennett (except where indicated) Illustrations Slavko Mali (except where indicated)
Illustrator Slavko Mali Webmaster, DTP & Founder Omma Velada
Circulation Online (www.issuu.com/golddust): ca. 3,000 PDF (www.lulu.com/golddustmagazine): ca. 500
Gold Dust magazine Founded in 2004 Bringing you the best poetry & prose
Editorial by GD founder Omma Velada
Contributors Our writersâ€™ bios in all their glory
The Back Page Gold Dust news
Staring by Terry Sanville (p28)
Features & Reviews
The Stray American by Wendy Brandmark Reviewed by David Gardiner
Things Will Never Be The Same by Howard Waldrop Reviewed by David Gardiner
Skein Island by Aliya Whiteley Reviewed by David Gardiner
The Why and How of Submitting Tips for poets by Adele Geraghty
We All Reach The Earth By Falling by Bauke Kamstra Reviewed by Lorraine C Brooks
BEST POEM Rubbing The Stingers Off Of Hornets by Elijah Dov Santner (p9)
An African Safari by Frank Scozzari BEST PROSE
An Ending by Kate Lumsden
Bear by Nathalie Dibsdale
From The Train by Paul B Cohen
Staring by Terry Sanville
Plain Vanilla by Caroline Taylor
Flash fiction (<1,000 words)
It Could Have Been Lust by Aviva Derenowski
Bugsy and Wally by Michael Thomas
Taking Your Chances by Dan Melvin
My Way by Slavko Mali
WHEN by Janet McCann
As Fast As I Can by Lorraine C Brooks
Rubbing The Stingers Off Of Hornets by Elijah Dov Santner BEST POEM
Paperweights by Ray Miller
Alchemy by Janna Kupper
Myrtle Beach, SC by Danny P Barbare
Full Stop by Kate Jones
Less is More A selection of short poems by various poets
First Class Male by Tess Adams
BEST PROSE An African Safari by Frank Scozzari (p4)
An African Safari
by Frank Scozzari Six fiendish animals fought over a single gazelle carcass...
isgusting animal, the hyena! But everyone knew that, Nick thought. Still, seeing them live, in person, up close and active at their handiwork, put a whole new light on the subject. He gazed out through the protective glass of the Land Cruiser, bedazzled by it all. Six fiendish animals fought over a single gazelle carcass; their faces red in blood, red down the length of their thick necks like a scarlet bandana; their hind quarters, slopping freakishly, messed in their own defecation. It was not a vision he expected to see when signing up for this eco-friendly, photographic safari. It was a vision that would stick in his head for a long time. Seeing it in a brochure was one thing, quite another to see it in grizzly detail, disemboweled intestines being dragged out of a freshly opened cavity and covetously devoured – the sound of powerful jaws crunching down on flesh and bone, greedily, as if there was not enough meat to go around. “I have no use for them,” he said flatly. “I’d add them to the list.” The young blonde woman sitting next to him turned and asked, “The list?” “Yeah, along with flies and mosquitoes.” The woman looked at him curiously. “The list for extermination,” he said bluntly. “Come on now, every creature has its place on this earth. As do we…” “They shouldn’t.” The young blonde gazed out at the hyenas. “It’s very horrible to watch, I know. But it’s nature's work.” “Well, it’s a part of nature I 4
can live without, and my future children can live without, and my grandchildren can live without. Exterminate them, I say. That’s my vote.” The blonde continued to watch the hyenas, as did Nick. It is an animal without empathy, Nick thought. An animal without remorse. “Remember, it is all part of the circle,” she said. Nick frowned. “They serve a purpose, you know. Without them who will clean up the mess left by the lions, and the weak, and the old?” “I don't care. Let them decompose in the sun. Anything beats this visual.” A few vultures hopped along the ground nearby, wanting to get in on the action, but the hyenas wheeled their teeth at them, keeping them at a distance. “Can we go now?” Nick asked the driver. Kikanae, the dark Kenyan behind the wheel, turned back and looked at Nick. He smiled with a set of very white teeth. Beside him was their guide, Bernard Wambui. Bernard was not his real name of course. He was as black and Kenyan as Kikanae, but spoke English as well as any Englishman, having been raised in a British orphanage. Bernard was his English name, assumed because he liked how it sounded, and because his Kenyan name was too difficult for the tourists to pronounce. “It is part of the tour,” Bernard said. “You are lucky to see it. It is Africa as it really is. It is big money safari.” “What?” “It is what your rich Americans like best, the corporate types
and Hollywood celebrities – to see the real Africa. They pay big money for it, and give big tips for a show like this. Really, you are lucky to see it.” “These places never look like the brochures,” Nick grumbled. There were two other tourists in the vehicle, an elderly couple from England, who were likewise appalled by
Illustration: Slavko Mali
the spectacle. They sat in shocked silence in the back seat. “It is one thing to know about the wild, quite another to see it,” the woman said at last, in an elegant accent. “They are a well-evolved animal,” Bernard said, “known for their
An African Safari by Frank Scozzari thievery; known to be very thorough with their kill; known to prey upon themselves. And they are the boldest of thieves, even to steal from lions, even to take meat from an animal still breathing.” “That’s nice to know,” Nick said. “He is a hungry one,” Bernard said to his driver, chuckling, and he pointed at one of the hyenas whose head was completely buried in the body cavity of the gazelle. When the head came out, it had a long line of intestines attached to its mouth. The other hyenas tried to take it from him and he snarled back at them. Bernard took something from the dashboard, opened his
Bernard’s hand remained on it, as if ready to pull it free, until the animal turned its attention back to the other hyenas who were trying to steal the meat from its mouth. “Yeah, that one, he’s a hungry one,” Kikanae said. “Do you know how Maasai rid themselves of hyenas?” Bernard asked the group. “They shoot one with a barbed-tipped arrow, not to kill but to lame, lame enough to make it bleed and take off running and yelping, with enough blood trailing behind for his pals to get a whiff. What happens next is comical. A frenzied chase follows, his bloodthirsty pals eager to sink their teeth into what now, for them, is only a
window, and threw it at the animal, hitting it in its hind quarters. The hyena turned sharply, snapping wildly into the air. Finally it locked its eyes on Bernard and snarled at him. Nick watched as Bernard’s hand reach for the shotgun he kept clamped on the inside door panel.
wounded piece of meat… an easy kill. “Once I shot an antelope and a pack of hyenas came out of the bush for it. Even though I stood there with a rifle on them, they were determined to take it from me. They were not afraid, even after I fired a
warning shot. And it’s not as if these animals don’t know what a rifle can do. They do know. Trust me, they do.” “What did you do?” asked the English woman. Bernard paused. He looked over at Kikanae. There was a moment of silence. “I let them keep the antelope,” he said, letting out a chuckle. He returned his attention to the feeding hyenas. “They did not kill this animal,” he said, referring to the butchered gazelle carcass. “I am sure of it. They stole it from a lion.” They all remained in the Land Cruiser, witnessing the ‘way of Africa.’ After ten more minutes, there was little left of the gazelle, and little left to see. Nature’s work had been completed. What was left for the buzzards was merely a bloodstain on the African earth. The Land Cruiser started up, moved forward, and wound its way down the dirt road, which was not much more than a faint pair of tire tracks. Nobody spoke. The thoroughness of the hyenas had taken the conversation out of Nick, and the young blonde, and the English couple in the back. After fifteen minutes, they came to a place where the savannah was indented by a small gorge. In low gear the vehicle negotiated it down to the bottom. Here there was a dry creek bed filled with rocks and surrounded by flat-topped acacia trees. The vehicle rolled slowly over large boulders before lulling its way back up the opposite rim. Ahead now were the last of the acacia trees, beyond which was open range, and just as the Land Cruiser was about to push out onto it, there was movement on the road ahead. Three men appeared from behind the trees and stood in the middle of the road, blocking the path of the Land Cruiser. They all held rifles in their hands and pointed them directly at Kikanae. “Nje! Nje!” the large one
An African Safari by Frank Scozzari shouted. “Get out!” He was a stout, dark Kikuyu, who stood a step in front of and in between the other two. Kikanae promptly placed the vehicle in park, turned off the ignition, and held his hands high where they could see them. Bernard did the same, cautiously, showing his white palms through the windshield. “Be calm,” Bernard whispered to the group. “Be patient.” Bernard and Kikanae slowly opened their doors and stepped out, keeping their hands high, using the opened doors to shield their bodies. “Sawa! Starehe!” Bernard said to the large one. “Stay calm.” The large one said something in Swahili, and then motioned to the passengers, waving them to exit the vehicle. “Leave them,” Bernard said in Swahili. “They are tourists. They have no weapons. They carry only cameras.” The large one shouted again in Swahili, motioning with the barrel of his rifle for them to get out. “We can give you whatever you want,” Bernard said calmly. “We have money, and ammunition, and food, and supplies. The tourists, they’re our responsibility. They need to stay in the vehicle…” Nick watched from behind the seat as Bernard continued to speak. He saw Bernard reach for the shotgun on the door panel and slowly pull it from the bracket and glance at Kikanae as his finger
found the trigger. In a flash Bernard’s shotgun was at the top of the door and in the same instant Kikanae’s rifle came up too. The bright steel of the gun barrels flashed in the sunlight as the shotgun sounded first. Bam! And in rapid succession both weapons spoke: Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! So sudden was it that Nick did not fully comprehend what had just happened. When he finally raised his head and looked through the windshield he saw the three men lying on the road, Bernard and Kikanae approaching them with their guns extended. He could not believe what he had just witnessed. It seemed surreal. Three men, who were alive and standing in one moment, were now dead on the ground. He had never seen men killed before, and could hardly believe how simple and finite a task it was. He felt a chill vibrating through his body. He looked around at the others, who were likewise shocked by the spectacle. “My God,” the British woman said. “Stay in the jeep!” Bernard shouted back without turning his head. There was a moment when nothing happened. There was complete silence in the Land Cruiser. Bernard knelt down beside the large Kikuyu and rummaged through his pockets, taking some papers which he tucked into his waist belt, and he found some trinkets which he exPhoto: Slavko Mali
amined and discarded on the roadside. Kikanae did the same with the others. Then they dragged the bodies to the side of the road and piled them on top of one another. Their weapons were gathered up and deposited in the back of the Land Cruiser. Then Bernard and Kikanae climbed back into the Land Cruiser. Bernard looked over at Kikanae. Kikanae turned on the ignition. The four of them; the blonde, the British couple, and Nick remained silent as the vehicle began to move. Bernard looked back at them over the seat. “It has been a problem… robberies. They are thieves, no different than the hyenas; thugs preying on the tourists and the guide services. It has been a big problem, having an impact on the safari industry as a whole. Sorry you had to witness this, but it is Africa as it really is.” As the Land Cruiser began to move ahead, Nick thought of the three men left dead on the roadside. He turned back and looked. He could barely make them out, hidden in the shadows of the acacia trees, and as the Land Cruiser continued to accelerate away, they blended in with the earth. Now they were part of the indelible Kenyan landscape, he thought. And through the descending sunlight he saw them coming, the pack of hyenas, out from the underbrush and down the hillside in quick flashes of grey; their glitzy eyes caught in the angling light. As did all the good animals of Africa, they were returning for the carrion; to replenish from the dead, strength back to the living. Nick turned, stared forward, and said nothing. There was nothing to say, he thought. It was nature at work, the way of Africa; Africa as it really is. Life was given back to the savannah as it had been given back over many generations.
Gold Dust 6
WHEN when did the season go bad here turn from sultry to murderous most of the trees are dead but we wonâ€™t know until late spring what happened to open windows screen doors, distant tinny music of ice cream man, who never turned out to be a rapist, a molester but was always willy wonka with sweet rewards. why does heat rise from the pavement which burns unwary child feet? where are parasols, Parcheesi? can we do something, go to Alaska, flee to the mountains? will the plague not find us there too? who are you anyway, to slip into my space like that, smell my sweat? When did summer go south?
Janet McCann Photo: Eleanor Bennett
As Fast As I Can Your curly hair is starting to fall out from the way you pull it when you get nervous. You’re there, resting your head against your pillow, you’re in your bed tonight with a novel resting on the bedside table and a leather bound notebook filled with scribbled fragments, of prose and poems and pain You’re a writer, just like me. Out there somewhere gazing at the ceiling, hoping to make it in this world. Your parents tell you to choose a different path and you think maybe you should listen but you don’t. You’re not cut out for life in a monkey suit surrounded by small-minded people who sip their non-fat soy mocha lattés with their porcelain pinkies raised high. No, you’re a writer, a change maker, a modern-day reformer. You want to question and be questioned and you want to learn and grow and shape future generations with your words. Dampened, you press your palms against your eyelids You’re waiting for me, but I’m coming as fast as I can. You’ll take me on a date to Central Park and we’ll fall madly in love with the city and promise ourselves that one day we’ll come back here to start a life together. We’ll spend our nights eating microwave popcorn because it’s college and we’re broke but somehow we’ll get by and make it in the big city.
I’ll become a lifestyle journalist penning fluff pieces on contemporary culture and writing my own poetry on the side and you’ll be out doing God knows what but it brings home the money and brings you home to me at night.
We’ll raise chickens and children and watch the sun go down from our studio apartment after college, drinking burnt coffee from Stewarts and watching How I Met Your Mother reruns. You’d tell me I’m beautiful and I’d tell you the same, but we’d rather have tickle fights and debates than waste our breath on vain conceit. I’m coming as fast as I can. We’ll have a ceremony in the park on a cool April evening. You’ll say I do and I’ll say it back because we love each other with a passion that no demon in hell can douse. Burning eternally like a candle without any wind. You’ll hold my hand and teach me everything you know about Chinese folkart and I’ll try to prove you wrong every chance I get because you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Your head rests against your plaid pillowcase. You think of me and who I’ll be when we meetTonight, I’m doing the same. I’m on my way; I’m coming as fast as I can.
Photo: Eleanor Bennett
Rubbing The Stingers Off Of Hornets You spat on your hand and clapped it on my cheek, like a huckleberry handshake of a kiss, so that I would know that it was honest. We were feeling like dogs off the leash and watching as the Hudson River maple leaves changed colors like algae blooming in the shallow puddles of gas station parking lots. Wiping the spit on my face onto the coarse plaid of your shirt, I smiled at you side long from the shoulder, making eye contact with the cavity in your ear, meandering like that secret mineshaft in the back woods of the Colorado wasteland that we had run away to, where we had hid underneath smoky juniper trees eating prickly pears “Just like rubbing the stingers off of hornets” You said with a cactus pressed between two flat stones And we felt a breeze coming, and you said it smelled like old coal and maybe a diamond or two, So we followed your nose and found A crack in the ground that you stuck Your head in and said, “I swear to somebody this will take us somewhere.” So we got ropes from our bags, and we duct taped flashlights to the brims of our hats, and we called out our names into the pit of the earth, and you made up a prayer and screamed it down into god’s guts, and I think it might still be echoing there.
Photo: Eleanor Bennett
There weren’t any diamonds then and I doubt there are any now, but you and I will be content with the shapes we draw in the sand, and you can tell me how every angle in the world fits perfectly together, and that if you were to sort it out all in the right way it would make some kind of a jigsaw, but you would need to stand very far away to see what it was, and I will dance around you and sing that I would rather have an angel than an angle, and you will say you don’t know why I have to choose just one.
Elijah Dov Santner
June 2015 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk
An Ending by Katie Lumsden We kiss quickly, awkwardly...
e kiss quickly, awkwardly, when we meet. We step back from each other, smiling not the broad grins of the last five years but the forced smiles of the last six months. Maybe they have been there for longer than that. I hardly know what length of time we have been pretending for. We elapse into silence. His eyes search for mine, and when I look away he glances around the café, his gaze moving from the graffitied tables to the vacant chairs to the frosted windows. The only sound is the soft guitar music whispering out of the CD player behind the counter. Beside that the teenage waitress is on her phone. There’s no one else here but an old man in one corner getting up to go. And then there’s us, me standing awkward, hands in my jean pockets, hair in loose bunches, looking much younger than my twenty-three years. He doesn’t look like he fits here, not in his suit, shirt and tie; he’s too neat, too straightbacked, too professional. The scratch marks on the window show up in the glint of sunlight. I shiver as the door opens to let the old man out and cold air rushes in. Spring is still a long way off. “So,” he says, “why the Strangers’ Café?” I say nothing. He knows why. We take our coats off in silence and drape them on the back of our chairs. Neither of us offer to pay for the drinks. We each buy a cup of tea, not a pot to share, and then sit down, not quite looking at one another, giving quick smiles to cover 10
up our frowns He says, “how was work?” “Good.” “How’s the hospital?” “Good.” I pull the sleeves of my jumper down to cover my hands. “How’s the job?” “Good. Yeah, great. Brilliant. I love it. I told you that.” “Yes.” “Yes.” I say, “And now Paris.” “Yeah.” “Further away than Birmingham.” “Well yes.” “But you’re going?” “Well, they’ve asked me to. It’s a great opportunity. And, you know, Paris.” “Yes.” “That they’ve asked me to go is – well, they like my work.” A quiver of a real smile lights his lips. “They said – you’ll like this – they said I was a ‘strong team-player’ and ‘just what the company needs’. I was so pleased, you couldn’t have believed it.” “Well, good.” The smile is gone. His whole body seems to stiffen. “I knew you were angry.” “I’m not angry.” “Yes you are.” “No,” I say, and sip my tea. Moments pass. He does not speak. “How long are you going for?” “Indefinitely. The contract’s for two years, but I imagine I’ll stay longer.” “You’ve signed?” “Yes.” Silence falls again. We avoid each other’s eyes – or at least, I’m
avoiding his, and I bet he’s doing the same. He says, “Jen, come with me. Please, I mean it.” “Oh really, how can I?” “Why can’t you? What’s keeping you here in this backwater? You can be a nurse anywhere if that’s what you’re worried about. This isn’t the only hospital in the world, you know. And your parents would understand. It’s not like many of our old friends are still here. There’s practically no one but Ellie and Martin. And Paris isn’t Timbuktu – everyone could visit. It’s not the ends of the Earth. Besides, you did French at GCSE – you’d pick it up again in no time. There’s crash courses and all sorts.” I tug at my jumper. “It’s not a backwater here.” He has no reply to that. He drinks his tea, and then looks at me. His jaw relaxes, his face seeming to soften. His fingers flex. Maybe he’s going to reach for my hand. No. He changes his mind. “I miss you,” he says, and his voice is so quiet that it is but a murmur. I look down. “I miss you too.” “Then come with me.” “Charlie, I can’t.” “Why not?” “Because I – I don’t want to.” He flinches, his shoulders jolting like he’s been struck. “You mean you – you don’t want to go with me? You mean–” “I mean I don’t want to go to Paris.” “Why not?” I glance down at the red mug in my hand, too bright for me. I look at the names penned onto the table. I stare down at my con-
An Ending by Katie Lumsden verses. I look at everything and anything except his face. “You know why.” “No – no I don’t. That’s why I’m asking.” “Then that’s another reason too. Oh, I–” I break off and give up. I drink my tea. “But Jen, wouldn’t you like to live in Paris? The most beautiful city on Earth, right? I know you liked it when we went before. Imagine, you could wake up every morning and go eat crêpes within sight of the Eiffel Tower – doesn’t that sound like Heaven?” “Crêparies aren’t the Stranger’s Café. The Eiffel Tower isn’t the lighthouse.” He sighs. “Look, places aren’t important.” “Well that’s not true. Otherwise you’d have stayed here.” “I knew you were angry,” he says, still in that same subdued tone. Neither of us raise our voices. “I’m not. You are.” “Well of course I am. Jen, do you care at all?” “About what?” “About people. About me.” “Of course.”
“Then…” “Then what?” “Then why? I mean, Jen, really, it – it’s just a place.” “But it’s not about a place,” I say. “It’s not about a sunset or a beach, not about sand or pebbles. It’s not about a café or a hospital. It’s not about tacky shops or rundown arcades. It’s not about streets you know versus streets you don’t. It’s not about jobs or families or people. It’s just – it’s just home, you know.” He breaths in sharply. He is exasperated. I’ve known him long enough to see that look tearing through his face. He says, “But a home can be anywhere.” “Not for me.” “Why not?” “I wouldn’t expect you to understand. You’re always moving. You lived here for two years in sixth form and in a dozen places before that. You weren’t born here. But Charlie, I’ve never lived anywhere else. The furthest I’ve got is Brighton for training college.” “Then be brave.” “What?” “Move. Come to Paris. Take a
Illustration: Slavko Mali
risk, Jen. Please.” “But it’s not about being brave.” “Jenny–” “I’m not afraid. I just – I just don’t want to.” He drinks his tea in an attempt to steady his anger. I am quite calm. “So what? You’ll just – just live in this dying town all your life?” “I hope so.” “Why?” “I told you – you wouldn’t understand.” “Try me.” “You see Charlie, if every single person here got sucked up into London, if the Strangers’ Café shut down, if every house I knew was deserted and every face I’ve known all my life disappeared, I’d still sit on the beach and watch the ocean sway and I’d be alright. That’s all.” “What’s so wonderful about this town?” “Oh nothing. It’s a complete dive. Apparently it got voted the dullest town on the Sussex coast. I reckon it’s one of the ugliest too.” “So why–?” “Well it’s mine.” “You’re so stubborn.” “I don’t see you offering to move back here.” “You are angry.” “I’m not angry. I’m just–” “Just what?” “Just – I don’t know.” We find ourselves once more at a loss of what to say. We have reached an impasse. We can’t look at one another. I’m thinking that the last five years have sunk into nothing. He will be thinking the same, and thinking that I have sunk them. Perhaps I have. I drink my cold tea. He asks, “How did we get here?” “I don’t know.” “What do we do?” “You’ll be living in Paris for two years, if not more. I’m staying here. We both know the last few years of
An Ending by Katie Lumsden going back and forth from here to Birmingham haven’t been easy. So what can we do?” “I don’t know. I suppose–” “Well yes.” “Yeah. I mean–” “Yes.” “It’s just–” “I know.” “Yes, I know.” Silence. He opens his mouth for a moment, then closes it again. He breathes slowly, loudly, as if trying to stifle something between fury and sorrow. At last he says, “So, that’s it then.” I stare at the table. “I suppose so.” There is a long, long pause. I’m waiting for him to speak, to pour out his thoughts, his anger, what-
Illustration: Slavko Mali
ever muddle of emotions are directed towards me – but he just doesn’t. Instead he says, “Don’t you have anything to say?” “Not really.” “Jenny–” “What can I say?” “You could say you’d come with me.” “But you see, Charlie, that’s just it. I can’t.” “But then we–” “Well yes.” We sit in silence for a few minutes, him battling with frustration. My numbness breaks, and I find myself choking back tears he will never even know existed. He says, “I should go.” “Maybe.” He rises. “Well – goodbye, I guess…”
“Yes.” I do not look up. I stare at my empty cup of tea. “Jenny.” “Yes?” A pause. “Nothing.” His footsteps pace away from me, and there’s the clink of the door, the rush of the wind as it opens – and then the still awful calm it brings when it shuts. I turn now, but Charlie is gone. He’s slipped out of the café, just as he will soon slip out of the town, the country, my life. I lean my arms on the table and let my head fall onto them. In shivering silence I hide my eyes from the Strangers’ Café.
The Stray American
by Wendy Brandmark Holland Park Press, 2014 Paperback £12.99, Kindle £3.60 Reviewed by David Gardiner
’m always intrigued to hear of a book written by a woman from a man’s point of view or vice versa. To what extent can we imagine ourselves into the psyche of someone of the opposite gender? Disillusioned with the American legal system, successful Boston lawyer Larry Greenberg crosses the Atlantic to teach in a seedy American college near Waterloo Station, run by a disgraced former Head of Physics from a ‘genuine’ British university. The emotional and physical landscapes through which he drifts are equally squalid. One of the things Brandmark seems to be exploring through the bleak life of her stray male American is the difference between American and British cultural attitudes, especially in the realm of dating and mating. There is little about dear old Blighty or its inhabitants that Brandmark’s hero admires. The college is a corrupt diploma factory for under-achieving American High School students, and an entry point to Britain for dubious young foreign nationals. Forever pining for the comfortable familiarity of America and American women, including one with whom he had a semi-serious relationship at the time of his leaving, Larry has a series of deeply unsatisfying onenight-stands with British women, finding them callous and (it seems Issue 27
to me) remarkably male in their attitudes to sex and personal relationships. Larry, by his own account, is a kind of sex machine in bed and gives these women an amazing time, after which they invariably ask him to leave before the morning. I find this surprising. In my own limited and now distant experience of such things it’s usually men who are attracted to the ‘wham, bam, thank you Ma’am’ scenario, whereas women tend to be looking for something a bit more committed, but maybe times have changed. Eventually he meets a woman who doesn’t want him to leave in the morning, but she is also borderline anorexic, which he finds physically unattractive, and troubled by many demons of her own. As well as this she has a taste for bondage and sex in public places which Larry finds embarrassing and unappealing, rendering him impotent. In fact this novel contains some of the most anti-erotic sex scenes that I have come across. Fundamentally we begin to feel that Larry doesn’t greatly like women, or at least British women, of whom he says at one point: ‘They’re like another species. They may look like us, even talk like us, but inside beats the heart of a reptile.’ Larry is a needy person, and as we read on we begin to wonder if this might be what his one-nightstand women are in reality picking up from him, and the extent to which he is deluding himself in many areas, beginning perhaps with his claimed sexual prowess. Not only is he needy, but very un-
clear as to what it is that he needs, what it was that he was looking for when he first came to England. I think that once we become aware of how limited Larry’s self knowledge actually is a great deal of what has gone before falls into place. Towards the end of the book, after an uncharacteristic (and, I have to say, slightly unconvincing) outburst of physical aggression at losing out in the game of love, Larry contemplates returning to Boston, but finding himself incapable of taking this radical step, seeks out instead his now less crazy and less anorexic former British girlfriend with whom he goes off for a family visit. The novel is at heart a character study of its drifting and self-centred ‘fish-out-of-water’ protagonist, and by the end we have come to believe in him almost fully, even if we don’t find him particularly likeable. It’s an interesting attempt by a woman to understand a man of a particular kind, and doesn’t fall much short of complete success. What was missing for me was the large visual element in sexual attraction for men, and the seeming absence of joy in all Larry’s sexual activities. I wondered why he even bothered. Nevertheless, it develops into a much more subtle and intelligent novel than it might seem from the early chapters, and worth reading for the prose alone, which is very accomplished. I hope you’ll read it yourself and make your own mind up as to whether Brandmark achieves what she sets out to do.
Gold Dust 13
Paperweights You have managed to shrink the planet and absorb it in the empire you created, without moving from behind mahogany desks where you surmise, inscrutable and hard. You discovered and colonised the strange, exotic lands and called them names. You instilled the medical model at the barrel of a needle and left each country barren when you finally withdrew. Once the world was full of lunatics and fools, vagabonds and sturdy beggars. You had them sterilised and sent to Schizophrenia, Bipolar and Social Anxiety Disorder. You drained away their colour, stuffed them in museums and filed them in to columns underneath you. I miss their expansive soliloquies and sighs that must make me an incurable romantic.
Photo: Eleanor Bennett
Alchemy When she exchanged water for fire, The tides stopped. The rivers ran dry. Wet mud turned to cracked clay, Left me panting in her radiance It was then with sunburned shoulders, Sneezing at the dry grass and dust That I contemplated the war within me. Between heart and mind. Between men and women. The truth, I knew, Lay in living memories. Could I really deny who I am? Even if it means years without the rain?
Photo: Eleanor Bennett
by Nathalie Dibsdale
She unlocked her closet and removed her fatherâ€™s rifle from its mount...
llen stood on the solid snow, cigarette in her mouth, praying on her last match, she struck, it fizzed limply to flame, and went out as she drew it to her mouth. She dropped it on the snow and Boog, who had been snuffling and dancing around her, approached the match, sniffing. Ellen's jaw tensed, she closed her eyes and dropped the cigarette. Boog sniffed on that too and took a tentative few chews on the tobacco. She exhaled, clouds of breath plumed before her. The sky above them was starless. The moon shone on her and the wandering Boog, and on her family's cabin, dark within. She was about to return to Photo: Open Source
the cabin when Boog began to bark, surging forward into the thick pines that surrounded the cabin. Ellen followed, there was nothing else to do. Boog trotted and halted, sniffing and gruffling against trees and on the snow, more powdery in the shelter of the forest. Pine resin struck a sharp note in the cold air, and Ellen's nostrils stung. Boog was growling under her breath, but stopped to let out a howl before darting swiftly through the canopies. Ellen followed, pushing the spiky fronds away with bare hands until she saw what agitated Boog. A trail of black blood, a wound on the white snow. She heard the groans, which grew
louder as she pushed through the pines. It gurgled in pain and its dark eyes rolled to fall on her. Brown matted fur was drenched in blood, and paws flailed powerlessly. The snow surrounding the bear was a luxurious, dark ruby. It smelled like a latrine on a hot day. Boog circled it, barking and barking and barking in joy and fear and excitement, too scared to approach too closely, desperate to stick her nose in its wound. Its neck was torn open, though there didn't seem to be any evidence of wolves nearby. None of their distinctive smell, or howls. It bellowed deep and tunelessly. Its eyes glittered with pain, illuminated by a shaft of moonlight on its face.
Bear by Nathalie Dibsdale Ellen caught hold of Boog, rescuing her from a weak swipe from the bear, and dragged her back through the forest, to the cabin. She unlocked her closet and removed her father's rifle from its mount. She locked a hysterical Boog in the bedroom and ventured back into the woods with a flashlight. The bear was quieter, less agitated, barely moved, but eyeballed her. Ellen watched the face, in a grimace of agony. She loaded the rifle with unshaking hands, aimed and shot between the eyes. The bear sank into the frozen red snow. She stooped to touch a warm pool of blood with her fingers. Ellen walked back through the pines, feeling lighter. She swung the rifle on her back and felt the metal cool the back of her neck. Her mouth was dry when she returned to the cabin. Her stomach rumbled, empty. She drank a glass of water, tied up her hair and washed her face, not looking in the burnished bathroom mirror. She gave Boog a can of food, which Boog ate vociferously. Boog was oblivious, excited beyond excitement by her find. She looked up at Ellen so proud, and so pleased to have eaten so much food in so little time. Boog was wonderfully uncomplicated. She fell asleep on Ellen's bed instantly and Ellen ran her hands absentmindedly through Boog's curly fur. The guys at the general store would not stop laughing at Boog, when Ellen arrived a few weeks before. They said they hadn't seen a spaniel in these parts sure enough as never. And a cocker too. They were bent double with tear in their eyes. Boog was jumping all over the store, showing off. Ellen bought toilet paper and a carton of cigarettes and left, having to yank Boog away from her audi-
ence. This made the guys laugh harder. She tried to go there as infrequently as possible. Ellen undressed and regarded her naked belly, lined with burning red stretch marks on her empty, flabby stomach. She rubbed in an oil her doctor had given her. He told her how to do exercises to tighten her up again. She'd done it all, to the letter, brown eyes glassy and unblinking. Boog woke before her and started barking at herself in the mirror. Ellen woke, fixed coffee, pulled up her hair, put on yesterday's clothes, and went outside to fetch the sleigh. She pulled it out of the back of the shed, creaking and snapping as it came, and attached the harness to her torso. She let Boog follow her through the pines. Lifting the bear onto the sleigh was a sweaty, backbreaking task and she did it. Its body was slick with blood and melting snow, it's fur impossible to grip, slipping from her hands. She pulled half of its body on the sleigh and it slithered off again. She pushed with her shoulder against its cold, wet haunches. Its body gradually shifted on. With minute footsteps that at first seemed not to move the sleigh at all she heaved the sleigh to her cabin with teeth gritted and staring eyes watering. Boog stood atop the carcass as she pulled the sleigh back. Her spoils. A car was parked outside the cabin. A Volvo. A man stepped out of it. Ellen unfastened the harness and stepped out of it. Boog approached. "Ma'am." "Sheriff." "Say, what you got there?" "As you see. She was injured." "Put her out of her misery, huh?" Ellen shrugged. He came closer and removed his hat.
"Say, she's a beauty. Look at the size of that thing. You drag her far?" "Mile or so." "How much you want for her?" "What?" "How much you want for the beast?" "She ain't for sale." "I'll give you a good price." "She ain't for sale Sheriff." "Well, that's a crying shame." "Sure is." "Maybe might be more of a shame if you got caught poaching in the forests." "She was injured, Sheriff. It weren't poaching." "Sure would be a shame to fine a lady such as yourself. Be a shame to have to take you down to the station." "Sheriff, I..." "Yes ma'am?" "Nothing." "I'll come by later with my truck." He winked and put his hat back on. Ellen took a bath, put on a dress and brushed her hair. It dried in waves. She walked, shivering, to the shed and found the canister of gasoline and found a pack of matches nestled between cans of paint. She carried the canister to the front of the cabin and poured the lot over the bear's carcass on the sleigh. She struck a fresh match, let the flame rise, and dropped it. The bear exploded into flame. She lit a cigarette on a spat out ember and watched the Sheriff's truck turn up her drive. She saw his eyes shine in the firelight and saw him turn sharply back, wheels crunching on the frozen snow underfoot. Boog barked at the retreating truck. It began to snow again.
Gold Dust 17
From The Train
by Paul B Cohen The woman was unashamedly naked to the world...
e were just leaving Raymond Street Station when I saw her. The train I took on Thursdays was moving leisurely enough for me to spot a woman at a first floor window. Her movement snared me. I spurned my newspaper, and looked across suburban rooftops to a house whose window frames had been painted pink. The woman was unashamedly naked to the world, and her arms were raised, as if she were holding up an offering to unseen gods. Later, as I walked to work, I thought of what I had witnessed. I wondered who the woman was, and why she had been displaying her body. I felt guilty relishing images of a stranger. It was not something I could share with Isabel, my partner of three years. At the office, colleagues stretched over their workspaces, absorbed in proofs and measurements. I expelled the vision of the woman at the window. There was much to do, and, as usual, I ate a sandwich at my drafting table. I reconsidered the drawings that gave birth to angular buildings, and immersed myself in drafts. I am lucky that I enjoy my work. In bed that night, Isabel pressed her small breasts into my back. This was often a prelude to our lovemaking, but, for once, I did not turn to her. We said each other’s names, but our limbs did not interlock. I took the train the following Thursday. I had papers to read for the afternoon, and I am diligent about 18
keeping up to date. Even so, when we were departing Raymond Street, I cast my gaze to where I had seen the woman at the window. At first, I thought the upstairs room was empty. The train idled, affording me a few extra seconds. Suddenly, I caught sight of her, and I gasped – enough for the old lady across from me look down her nose. Again, the woman was nude, extending her arms as if chastising, or imploring, the heavens. Once again, I struggled to banish the provocative memory of the woman on the second floor from my thoughts. I left our city centre office the next day around eleven and boarded my usual train. I had to discover the meaning – any meaning – for these displays. I alighted at Raymond Street, and headed in the direction of the woman’s house. Tracing the curves of the roads, I arrived on an avenue that was well kept, with wheelie bins lined up as if on parade, and postage stamp sized front lawns that were verdant and orderly. My phone beeped. I glanced at the screen. There was a text from Isabel. I didn’t open it; instead, I surveyed the houses before me. I found it hard to recognise the building I sought until it became apparent that the woman’s bedroom window must be at the back, because by now the railway line was off to my right. This disorientated me. Assuming I had found the correct road – named Primrose Lane – I focussed on two houses in the middle of the terrace. These were
numbers 22 and 24. I sauntered up the steps to 22 and rang the doorbell. There was no answer. I rang again. I did not know what I was after, only that I was there, succumbing to something you might call infatuation. The door opened to present an elderly man wearing a powerblue cardigan with beige diamonds on it. He looked me up and down, mumbling something about not wanting to buy anything. I offered apologies and turned away. There was no reply next door, but I was not to be deterred. I knew it could mean I still had the wrong house, that the woman was out, or that she was not opening up. I set aside any doubts and knocked again. There was a framed watercolour hanging on the porch wall. I guessed it was of the Great Pyramid at Giza. The door swung open. I felt a frisson: this was the woman I sought. She was wearing a cerise blouse, jeans, and canvas shoes. Her manner of dress suggested she lived in a hot climate, rather than an English one. Her lipstick matched her blouse, but her eye shadow was azure. Her hair was dark, but she had allowed a few grey streaks to appear. “Yes?” the woman asked, thrusting her head at me. “I’m here,” I said, intimidated by her manner. “Here? Who are you?” she asked. “I saw you from the train,” I replied. “What’s that?” Perhaps I should have brought flowers, I mused. “You
From The Train by Paul B Cohen were wearing a mask yesterday.” “Don’t bother me,” she snapped, and pushed the door in my face. I lingered on her doorstep, like a spurned salesman. I realised, as if it mattered, that the woman’s accent suggested she was Spanish. I considered knocking again, but words deserted me. I told myself I was a fool, that she had done the right thing by repelling me, and so I retreated. Even so, I suspected I would return, although I could not say what I wanted. That night, when Isabel pressed herself against me, I responded in kind, but there were visions of another in my head. I was in Brussels the following week and did not catch the train. I pondered the Spanish woman, as I had come to think of her. After all, what did I want? Was I being driven
by lust? Was I that shallow to be enticed by the flesh of a middleaged stranger? Did I want to put my relationship in jeopardy? Was going to this woman’s house a tangible step towards infidelity? Back in England, and travelling to the office, my eye drifted beyond the train carriage, and I looked for the house once more. It was a dazzling day and I squinted in the glare. The woman I had met was in the upstairs room, wearing the mask again. Despite what she’d told me, I believed she was putting on a show for me. I rose from my seat but realised I was too late. I had missed Raymond Street. Maybe that was a good thing, I concluded. I am a weak man, however, and the following day I made my way to the Spanish woman’s house. Passing a florist and hesi-
tated. What would it mean if I brought flowers? After all, I was not after romance, was I? Instead, I entered a shabby corner shop. I did not want to buy a card, even though women love them. Whimsically, I headed for the plastic toys in one corner. Rummaging in the anarchic pile, I found a child’s purple facemask, with glitter that came off in your palm, and bought it. I carry a leather suitcase and put the mask in there. I arrived at 24 Primrose Lane within minutes. I was nervous but was not about to let that stop me. I had to see this woman. How absurd is our desire, and how overpowering! She was wearing a burgundy dress. Her hair was tied back, as if she were a schoolmistress. This time, she had red eye shadow on, and her cheeks were rouged. From her ears dangled outlandish purple
Illustration: Slavko Mali
From The Train by Paul B Cohen earrings. Her feet were bare. “You come to read the gas meter?” she asked. No smile. “You know I haven’t,” I answered. I was watching myself acting out this scene. “What’s your name?” she asked. “Murphy. What’s yours?” “Never mind,” she answered. “But I’d really like to know it,” I said. “Then you can like,” she answered, folding her arms across her chest. I put a hand on the door. “Can I come in?” “You are bold. How do I know it is safe?” It was a reasonable question. I didn’t know how to answer. “My father was a police officer,” I said. “How do I know that’s the truth?” “I can show you his badge one day, if you like.” “Come in,” she hissed. “I phone him if there is trouble.” She allowed me into the narrow hallway. The walls were a dark hue, enlivened by framed pictures. “Are these yours?” “The whole house is mine,” she snapped. “I meant the pictures – the paintings.” “My husband did them, but he’s gone.” I wondered whether she meant he was dead, or simply out of her life. “Well?” I said, lamely. She led me into the kitchen. I didn’t want to be in the kitchen, looking at her kettle and a clatter of pans in the sink. “I’ve got something for you,” I said, offering her the mask. At this, she laughed. “I have many masks,” she said, pushing out her strong white teeth, as if an animal warning off predators. “You haven’t told me your name,” I said. 20
“You got a wife?” she asked, picking up breadcrumbs from the counter and dropping them like tiny bombs into the sink. “A girlfriend.” “Does she know you’re here?” The question annoyed me. “Of course not.” The woman tutted. “Come.” I did not move. “You scared?” she taunted. “No,” I lied. “Are you?” “I can defend myself,” she said. The woman held out her hand. It was warm and robust. She pulled me upstairs. This is what I had been thinking about, but now I wasn’t sure. But I allowed myself to be led, anyway. We did not enter the bedroom, as I had feared. Instead, she took me to the room with the rectangular window. There was some kind of cheap tiling on the floor. A desk had been pushed into the corner, and it had a pile of books on it. An ethereal vase on a shelf held some carnations. On the wall, I observed a portrait of a delicate girl, perhaps about eight years old. She pointed to a wooden chair in the corner and I meekly sat down. “Put your mask on,” she ordered. “Why is the mask important?” I asked, even though I had brought it. “You don’t talk,” she said, walking over to the CD player and turning on some South American album, all high-pitched pipes and strumming guitars. “Is there something about faces you don’t like?” “I don’t want to know your emotions,” she said. I digested this answer. I found it extraordinary. If this was a show, then I was an uneasy spectator, but certainly I wanted to look at the woman. I watched as she moved, as she
thrust her arms out to me, as if imploring the gods for rain, or fertility. I watched as she let her hands rove over her body. I watched her rid herself of her clothes, whilst I sat immobile in the chair. I was not aroused, but I was alert. I saw that she was proud of her body. She liked to cup her breasts. She had a scar on her abdomen. Her hair was thick. I did not move from my position, while she danced in front of me. I’m not sure how long we were in that room, but when it was time to leave, the afternoon was fiercely hot, as if Spain had landed on England. On her doorstop, I turned to her. I still wanted to know her name. “It’s Nina,” she said. “Hello, Nina,” I said. She ran her tongue along her top lip. “Don’t say hello. Say goodbye. Go away and never come back.” “But –” “But nothing.” I touched her arm; that was a mistake. “Why do you do this?” “I want to be seen, but not known,” was her answer. “Now, go. Don’t look for me from that train when you travel next, or knock on my door. You never think of me, only of your girlfriend now. Revere her.” “But what if I do want to see you again?” I pressed. “I told you,” she replied, and closed the door on me. I stood there foolishly, until I had no option but to walk back along Primrose Lane. From the train the following week, I looked for Nina’s window, half out of my seat. The curtains, stiff and formal, were closed.
It Could Have Been Lust
by Aviva Derenowski
If someone looks too good to be single, he probably ain’t...
gaze at my lace panties, while sorting out the closet,. They once hugged my youthful bottom, now a thin reminder of love gone. I stroke them lightly, and relive their story. John had bought them on Valentine's Day, 1977. I'd blushed when I caressed the lace. He'd blushed when he saw them on me. I was twenty. He was twenty-five. An older man. We'd met in a bar. I know. You can't trust a man you meet in a bar, but he'd offered me a drink. His smile implied intimacy and fun between the sheets. We waltzed to my place after he ran out of cash. I know. You don't take a man home on the first date. But his scent of Fabergé's Brut, was all over me. I couldn't let go. He stepped into my tiny flat, viewed it slowly, his right hand resting on my behind. Astrology books and the I Ching next to the record player. A shelf crammed with books about writing. He scanned the walls covered with peacenik posters: “Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came,” “Come Together for World Peace Now,” “Make Love
Not War.” His black t-shirt hugged his torso, and the jeans were tight enough to follow the landscape of his lower body. John's hair was long and wavy, his eyes fired stars in my direction. “You live here, huh?” He stroked my hair, as if to calm us down. “Yeah.Like?” “Yeah. That your bed?” He pointed at the twin. “Yep, join me.” Those were our last intelligible words for some time. We groaned, moaned and laughed. I felt his skin on my skin, his eyes on my eyes, kisses that set me on fire. When the heat lulled, I was rubbing lazy circles on his back. His fragrance filled me. Chestnuts. I'd steal for chestnuts. He left, but not before we decided to meet the next day, Valentine's Day. John arrived five minutes early. He handed me a red rose in a pink bag printed with ‘Victoria's Secret’. I rushed to put the panties on, and felt sexy in my dark pink, second skin satin bikini. John drooled.
Photo: Eleanor Bennett
When he went to the bathroom, I recalled my mom saying, “If someone looks too good to be single, he probably ain't.” I searched his pockets, opened his wallet, mom was right. John entered the room, and saw me holding a picture of a woman and two kids. His smile vanished. His mouth opened and closed. He looked confused. “Who are they?” Could be his cousins, his beloved sister and nephews. “My wife and kids.” I heard the nails pounding into our love coffin. “When did you plan to tell me?” In my mind I heard 'This is not happening'. “Never. It sounds crazy, but I thought I could pull it off. They live in Copenhagen.” I felt calmer, as if it was okay to have sex with a married man if his family lived in Copenhagen. We sat next to each other, held hands, stared down at the carpet. Our fingers started to relate again. My pinky and his ring finger, his thumb. They climbed from elbow to shoulder, from neck to nape. Without a sound we found ourselves wrapped in each other. It felt right, natural, our bodies streamed with joy. It could have been lust... John returned to his family six months later. I was left with the pink lace panties. I don't have any other Victoria’s Secret items, but when I pass their store on Broadway, I smile.
Gold Dust Issue 27
Myrtle Beach, SC The heavy salty air. The bleached white sand. The white capping water and singing of sea gulls. The sun so lovely and beating down. Far from the foothills. Shells clattering in the surf. The alien jelly fish poked at with a stick. Driftwood and palm trees tough and fibrous. Sea oats rustling with the forever wind. Nights of lit up piers and cool ghostly open moonlit ocean. Hotel lights shimmering in the distance, golf carts racing up and down the waterfront. Ferris wheels and roller coasters downtown, cotton candy and corn dogs. Restaurants at Murrells Inlet, late night oyster boats. Shrimp boats cruising the starry skies. Happy chattering voices all dark. Girls and boys, college kids, and women and men. Drunken laughs and sober joy. Putt Putt courses, and water slides. Fire ants and pine trees. The board walk and lake. Swans and mallards, dipping and upside down. Pelicans plunging. Fighter jets and airliners. Helicopter rides. Single engines and banners. Sunglasses and tan lotion and screen. Muscles and bikinis. Dreading going home, shells and shark teeth as souvenirs. A long sleepy drive from the beach. Stopping at historical Charles Town Landing, a galleon, floating in the port. A park. And beautiful Cypress Gardens. Spanish moss and statues. Swampy black water and sneaky eyed alligators with blackest of marble eyes and rippling water. Along homeward bound to the foothills of the Upstate.
Danny P Barbare
Photo: Jerry P Maldonado
They say nobody really knows the story behind a relationship. Our life together appeared in soft-focus but the negatives tell another story. This self-imposed crown of thorns you took to wearing weighed us both down sent us hurtling towards a conclusion like a full stop placed in the middle of a sentence. Abrupt. Stop. End. Period.
Photo: Eleanor Bennett
Bugsy and Wally
by Michael Thomas
I heard it at night, smelt it curling under my bedroom door...
named them Bugsy and Wally, and they owed their life to a miracle. They lived beyond my uncle’s farmhouse in Laurencetown, County Limerick. A tree-thickened drive swept round to a road-gate that hadn’t been opened for as long as anyone could remember. To the right was an embankment. If you scrambled up it and looked over, you saw slurry, a lake of grey-brown in the corner of the field my uncle rented from Willy McCarthy. Bugsy and Wally lurked there, keeping themselves tucked out of sight. Or so it seemed to a seveneight-nine-year-old with his head full of space travel and jungle adventures, the stuff of comics and films in the early sixties. My home life was among flaring chimneys, the only acreage I knew was a wilderness of roofs. Summers at Laurencetown were something else. Every inch of the farm had a story to tell, and I set about telling them. Milk churns became toppling rocks in the Badlands. Uncle Mick’s trap became a sky-chariot whose triumphs would shortly eclipse Sputnik, wipe the smile off Yuri Gagarin’s face. Uncle Mick himself was either the Lone Ranger or Ming the Merciless, depending on his mood. Inevitably, Bugsy and Wally stepped into my story-book. To any outsider, they’d have just been pink pigs. But that was where the miracle came in. Nobody knew about them, I was sure. They never ventured into Uncle Mick’s farmyard. No-one seemed to feed them, though they were hefty enough. Summer after summer, there they 24
were, protected by their magical slurry. Some instinct told me never to mention them to the adults. By that age, I knew the business of farms well enough, and I sensed that any betrayal of them would stop Uncle Mick in the middle of whatever he was doing: ‘Jays, I clean forgot that pair,’ I could hear him say, before rooting out his special knife, calling to one of the farmboys that he had need of strong, steady hands. Besides, the grownups had their own fun. I heard it at night, smelt it curling under my bedroom door: smoke-language in the scent of Kensitas or the woefully mis-named Sweet Afton. Whisper-words from those who, in the day’s hard sun, took on the world full-throatedly. Names from the land they unfolded like oil-cloth and stepped into once I’d been bundled upstairs—names of gods, I guessed, so reverently did they handle them, my irreverent family. Hammarskjold. Rainier. DiMaggio, shadowed by a woman, possibly Marion or Marlene, usually defined as ‘a glory girl’. Churchill—always a pause after that one. An Irish pause. ‘One man in his time plays many parts,’ says Shakespeare. Bugsy and Wally had one man, any man, entirely defeated. They were my sidekicks in Precinct 49. Together, we tracked down Scarface You-name-him and his hoods. Once the latest case was closed, we’d stand thoughtfully by the slurry, contemplating the streets of Everytown and our mission to make them safer for the honest folk. They were my boffins when we wrested the planet from mos-
quitoes big as blimps—my guides when we set out to find the Lost Valley of the Emperors, oddly disguised as McCarthy’s stream. This last was the pigs’ finest hour. Noiselessly I crossed the field’s treacherous sands, past palms, through mirages. Not so noiselessly, Bugsy and Wally followed in a roundabout amble, their special tracking method. After many days, after battles with rabies, Yellow Jack, German measles, we found the Lost Valley, routed the evil spirits that had enslaved it and restored peace to the Emperors (all of whom were conveniently alive at the same time, which allowed my trackers and me a good old bask—‘Gentlemen, don’t mention it... Hey, you take her easy…’). I should perhaps have lived out the rest of my life with the Emperors. Turning from the stream, I saw that the field was full of cows and horses. Had Bugsy and Wally’s shenanigans drawn them in? Were they possessed by the Lost Valley’s evil spirits (which now had to go wherever the work was)? The cows and horses circled, thundered. Shedding my explorer’s mantle, I was again a nine-year-old boy, confused about which would be worse, mom’s black-veil rhetoric or a doomsday turn from Uncle Mick. Ingloriously I shot through the chaos, diving into the embankment just as Uncle Mick strode through the gate and the air was filled with godlessness. I hid among the grasses listening while, with cries of Get out of all that!, he emptied the field. At some point, Bugsy and Wally ambled back, unconcerned
Bugsy and Wally by Michael Thomas
Illustration: Slavko Mali
as ever. New York streets, blimpish mosquitoes, wreaking animal chaos—all the same to them. As Joe Friday had it, ‘Just doing the job, ma’am.’ I was dispatched to Issue 27
bed at an irrational hour; the smoke-words came curling early. The following summer, there they were, gone. I tried mounting new space missions, taking on the streets of Los Angeles. I even
thought I’d drop in on the Lost Valley. But it wasn’t the same. You can’t hatch a plan or josh about with thin air. You can’t save the world with ghosts.
Gold Dust 25
Taking Your Chances
by Dan Melvin
Charlie removes from his ring finger his wedding ring...
n the betting-shop Charlie reads the headline on the front page: RBS Reports Record Loss. He ignores the article and turns to the racing pages, reaches inside his jacket pocket for the cigarettes he promised Lizzie he’d given up smoking and considers stepping outside. Instead, though, Charlie stands, checks for his wallet and, once reassured, removes from his ring finger his wedding ring which he stuffs inside it. A man seated in front of Charlie fists the table and shouts, ‘Result.’ Charlie knows him – It’s Dougie, mate, come to me if you need some bunce – and watches him collect his winnings at the counter. Charlie acknowledges Dougie with a nod. Dougie has a tattoo all the way across the back of one of his hands, a woman’s name. He doesn’t return Charlie’s nod. Charlie imagines needle on bone. Lizzie once complimented Charlie for having piano player’s fingers. The TV monitor shows men and women in long white overcoats walking dogs towards the traps. A dog in a red jacket struggles on its leash outside trap number one. Charlie finds the name he is looking for and writes out, Romford, 2.40pm, Beautiful Feeling, £__ to win. He moves to the counter and gives the girl at the desk money from his wallet. Lizzie bought him the wallet as a birthday present before they were married, from Aspinal of London, and had it personalised with his initials. The bell sounds, the hare is released and in a minute’s time the TV announces the result. The com26
mentator speaks in a neutral tone. Dougie pushes back his chair and walks over to the counter. Charlie stays in his seat. He touches his ring finger, forgetting. Dougie closes his fist around a wad of notes. A dog in a black jacket is being paraded around the track on the TV monitor. Dougie looks sharply across at Charlie. He has hard level eyes and a narrow stare. He is a big man. Dougie has other tattoos: up from the one on his hand, on his forearm, there are the straight lines and curved ‘S’ of the US Dollar; on his bicep, a black axe. Charlie looks away. He doesn’t have the money. Charlie finds a pile of unopened letters on the table when he gets back. He can hear Lizzie making a noise upstairs. Fred, their black Scottie, runs over from the fire, whines, and licks at his shoe. Fred The Shred, Lizzie called him last week, when he chewed up her slippers. He hasn’t been for his walk yet. Charlie pours himself a glass of scotch. It is four o’clock. He can hear his wife upstairs. He takes his drink into the conservatory. He removes from his wallet his wedding ring and replaces the ring on his ring finger. He lights a cigarette. ‘Darling, is that you?’ Charlie sits back in one of the large wicker chairs in the conservatory and looks through the French windows at a raven picking over a worm in the rain. Its black beak jabs at the worm’s pink body, cutting it into two writhing lumps of flesh. ‘Darling, did you get Fred his dog food and sort things out with
the bank?’ Charlie sips his scotch and makes no reply. ‘Darling…’ ‘Yes, yes, I’m back now. I didn’t manage to get to the bank, no.’ He hears her steps on the stairs, finishes his drink and puts his glass on the floor behind the chair. ‘Oh, you’re in here.’ She is wearing an old T-shirt of his and has been dusting. ‘Yes. I ran into Dougie while I was out.’ ‘Has he paid you back that money yet?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Good. I hope you won’t go lending that man any money again, darling. We’ve got to…’ ‘Yes, Lizzie, yes, I know.’ The raven has a piece of worm between its beak. It flies a short distance to the tree at the back of the garden and feeds the severed worm to another bird that is making a noise there. The ravens sharing the worm in the rain irritate Charlie. Lizzie sits down opposite Charlie on one of the wicker chairs. ‘Darling, I wished you wouldn’t…’ Charlie gets up and walks back into the house. He takes his time pouring himself another scotch. ‘Charlie, what are you doing out there?’ He drinks it down and pours himself another. It burns in his throat. When he comes back Lizzie is standing by the conservatory windows, facing him. ‘Can you tell me how much
Taking Your Chances by Dan Melvin Dougie still owes you?’ The raven reappears and pecks at the remains of the worm. Charlie can feel his heart beat inside of his shirt. ‘I’ve got most of it.’ Charlie turns and turns again the gold band on his ring finger. ‘How much is most of it?’ Just then Fred comes into the
conservatory wagging his tail. He jumps up onto the chair opposite Charlie and barks. ‘Fred! Get down from there!’ Lizzie shouts, crossing the room. Charlie stands up. ‘He needs his walk, Lizzie. I think I’ll go out with him now. Come on, Fred. Walkies!’ Fred barks again and Charlie
goes inside to find his leash. ‘Charlie! You can’t take him now. I want to talk to you.’ ‘I won’t be long, I promise.’ ‘But Charlie, it’s raining.’ ‘I think I’ll take my chances.’ Charlie closes the front door and steps outside into the rain.
Illustration: Slavko Mali
by Terry Sanville
She looked different from the other nuns...
ustin parked his Volvo two blocks from the school, under a flowering eucalyptus. He walked along the sidewalk shaded by a solid canopy. The trees had been saplings when he’d attended Saint Agnes Elementary. Ducking under a chain stretched across a driveway, he walked to the center of the ruined schoolyard. The fractured asphalt resembled an alligator’s hide with weeds growing through the cracks. Only a couple of rusted tetherball poles remained. All the painted markings had faded away. Traffic roared by on the surrounding streets, past condos and professional offices that had replaced the old homes. He crossed the rain-slick pavement to where the school building once stood and stepped up onto its broken foundation. The demo crew had filled the basement with dirt. A sign posted along the street announced “Future Home of Windermere – A Senior Living Community.” I guess it’s come full circle, Justin thought and smiled. After more than fifty years Saint Agnes grads can move back to spend their last days. A car shot past, streaming music from an open window. He followed the sound down the street to the Catholic Church, attended now by old women in shawls and headscarves. It hadn’t always been that way. He remembered spring Fridays, when the school’s entire student body marched to mass. He thought about seventh grade and Sister Louise. His smile broadened. In December 1958, a fire at a 28
Catholic elementary school in Chicago killed more than 90 children and three nuns. In Santa Barbara, the Principal of St. Agnes vowed that all her students would complete a novena of masses – nine services held on consecutive Fridays before Easter – to pray for the souls of the dead. Justin liked those masses. Not the praying part, nor the standing and kneeling ritual, but carefully positioning himself in back and to the left of Sister Louise. If he got the right spot in the pew, he could stare at her without her noticing. She looked different from the other nuns: she actually had a waist, and a smooth pale face with blue eyes that burned right through him. While her habit covered nearly everything, he could tell from her eyebrows that she had blonde hair. Freckles dusted her cheeks and her lips were full and naturally pink. He sat in the dark church that smelled of incense and burning candles and wondered why such a pretty woman would give herself to God and not to a man…not that he knew much about what men and women gave each other. Once she’d caught him staring at her in class and looked ready to scold him. But she’d sucked in a deep breath, sighed, and continued to diagram a sentence on the chalkboard. He hated English, but loved sitting up front and being near her. “You’re so obvious,” Becky Donovan told him one day after class. “I see you watching her. That’s so creepy.” “What are you talking about? I’m not doing anything.”
“Come on. You follow her around like she’s the pied piper. You’ve got a crush on her.” “How would you know?” “Girls can tell.” Justin knew Becky since kindergarten and spent time staring at her too, especially after she’d showed up for seventh grade with her uniform pushed out in front. Somehow over the summer she’d grown boobs, which made her popular with boys bold enough to talk with her. Justin had tried a few times. But when he got nervous, his voice cracked…and it did that a lot. After Becky’s remarks, he’d steal quick glances at Sister Louise. He wondered how she could endure wearing her heavy black habit on hot days. He studied her hands as she wrote on the board – pearl-white fingers with nails carefully filed. Sometimes he’d offer to clean her chalkboards after school. He’d wipe them down with a wet cloth and sneak quick looks while she graded papers or wrote in the dog-eared attendance log. On a Friday, three weeks before Easter, his class walked back from mass. Sister Louise pulled him out of the line. “Justin, I left my missal in church. Could you get it for me, please?” His throat tightened as the nun gazed at him. “Y-yes, Sister.” “Just bring it to the classroom before you go to lunch.” He nodded and ran down the street. He knew exactly where to look in the empty church. Back at school, he found her in their sec-
Staring by Terry Sanville ond floor classroom, grading English essays, her hand holding the dreaded red pen, poised over an offending treatise. They’d been assigned to write a minimum of five hundred words on the importance of industry in America. He’d struggled to submit his 502-word attempt. Walking toward her desk, he cleared his throat. Sister Louise looked up. “Ah, there it is. Thank you, Justin.” She reached for the thick prayer book. Their fingers brushed and an electric jolt shot through him. “It’s just static electricity,” she said and glanced at the wall clock. “Sit down. I want to talk to you for a few minutes.” “Yes, Sister. Did I do something wrong?” The back of his neck turned cold and he shuddered. A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “You can relax. You didn’t do anything wrong. But I’ve noticed that your work hasn’t been as good as it can be…and you’re not paying, ah, proper attention in
class.” He felt his face burn and lowered his head. “Sorry, Sister. I’ll try harder.” “Maybe if you concentrate on the lesson and not on staring at me, you’ll improve.” He shot a quick glance at the nun. “I don’t mean anything by it. It’s just…you make it hard to think about schoolwork.” She laughed softly. “Look, you’re not the only boy that’s been staring at me. Besides, I grew up with three brothers and had a life before I took my vows. I know how boys and girls feel.” “So why’d you become a nun? You’re way too pretty.” He clapped a hand over his mouth and groaned. “That’s a long story…and thank you for the compliment. I’m your teacher. But I can’t teach you anything when you’re daydreaming about God knows what. And if it’s what I think it is, you’d better go to confession.” “Yes, Sister. I will, I will. Can I go now?” “Yes.”
He tore out of the classroom and ran down the stairs and along the hallway. Hitting the outside door, he burst onto the windy playground. Becky and her girlfriends huddled on a bench underneath the fire escape. “What’s the hurry, Justin?” she called. “Your girlfriend give ya a scare?” Her friends laughed. He ran toward the far end of the yard where the older boys sat on splintery benches and talked about the new Los Angeles Dodgers, about stealing cigarettes, and about girls. The following Friday, the students broke for recess before forming lines to march off to mass. Justin hurried down the polished corridor, heading for the lavatory crowded with screaming little boys. On his way back, he approached the auditorium’s double doors. One of them stood opened slightly. As he passed, a voice hissed at him from the darkness. “Justin, in here.” He stopped, his heart pounding. “Who…who is it?” “It’s Becky.”
Illustration: Slavko Mali
Staring by Terry Sanville He slipped sideways through the door, closed it behind him, and stood trembling. “W-what do you want?” “What do ya think?” She wrapped her arms around his neck and straining upward, kissed him on the lips, lightly at first, then with more force. “Do you like that, Justin?” “Don’t stop.” They continued kissing. Her lips tasted salty, like she’d been eating crackers, and their teeth kept banging together. She took one of his hands and placed it on her chest. His breathing quickened. “Wait, I’ll open my blouse.” Her skin felt warm, the nipples stiff. He ran the palms of his hands across them and she moaned. The auditorium door flew open. They stood in a square of light, as if onstage. Sister Louise stared at them, her mouth gaping, her blazing eyes taking it all in. Justin dropped his hands. Becky pulled her blouse shut. “Just what do you think you’re doing?” Sister Louise asked. “No, don’t answer that.” “I-I’m sorry, Sister.” “It’s my fault,” Becky said. “He’s just so, ya know, cute and–” “I know,” the nun snapped. “I have a good memory.” Becky clutched his hand. He waited for the feared order to report Photo: Eleanor Bennett
to the Principal’s Office. Sister Louise shook her head then raked her fingers down her cheeks. “You…you two go to confession before mass. And Justin, you’ve got more sins to confess than before.” “Yes, Sister,” he and Becky said in unison and hurried away. Justin completed the novena of masses and struggled through the rest of the school year. He tried to stop staring at Sister Louise and slipped instead into a daydream of the flash of Becky’s nakedness in the musty auditorium. The following year Sister Louise was gone. Rumor had it that she’d volunteered for missionary work in some tropical country, to teach English to the natives. Four years passed. He stood bagging groceries at Safeway and shooting the breeze with La Rue, a pretty checker from Georgia with a sweet southern accent. A young mother with a little girl rolled her cart into the checkout stand. She stared at him for a moment and shook her head. The woman wore a simple housedress and flats, with platinum hair cascading onto her shoulders, her face without makeup. “Justin, I hardly recognized you. You look so…so grown up.” “Sister Louise? I don’t know
what to–” “It’s just Louise now,” she said and smiled, “and this is my daughter, Linda.” The tiny girl looked up at him then buried her face in her mother’s dress. He struggled to find something to say. La Rue cut her eyes at him and grinned. He felt his face grow hot. “You must be about ready to graduate,” Louise said. “Yeah, another month, then off to college after summer. I’m going back east on a scholarship.” “What are you going to study?” He dropped his head and murmured, “English.” Her full-throated laughter echoed down the supermarket’s aisles. La Rue glared at her. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m not making fun of you,” Louise said. “No, I get it. But ya know, I was doing more than staring, back then.” “Good for you…and I was doing more than teaching and praying.” “Good for you.” They both laughed. The clang of church bells and a cacophony of traffic sounds yanked him from his daydreams. Justin kicked at the edge of the school’s foundation and noticed remnants of gang graffiti, as foreign to him as the Catholic mass had become. He turned and walked across the derelict schoolyard and up the street to his car. His knees and hips ached from the damp cold. But he felt excited, had an idea for writing a short story. He would share it with his class, a break from the tedium of teaching creative writing to sophomores. It might help shield him from all the lovely college coeds who stared with wide young eyes.
Gold Dust 30
Less is More Grief In The Middle
"A Simple Love Nonet"
Grief in the middle planted upon a dream dragon's eye and breath exhales fire fuses dream into glass fire melting into dark soil glass, glittering a million pierces blue-wrought darkness from green; reflections crinkle and crack, in a flower haven.
Youâ€™re wearing your musky dusty shirt I grab at your crusty stubble Your odor intoxicates Through this I see nothing Dirty, filthy lover You are my bane My hazy Grubby Love
Assurance Remember in the spiral down, That you can always talk to me, And even though you really are crazy, I'm the voice in your head, Thatâ€™s rooting you on. Kenneth John Wortendyke Jr
You are just a tiny pinpointing dot But you can pin an end onto Anything, anybody, even the entire cosmos From the strongest statement In the most powerful discourse To the weakest form Of the representation of life Yuan Changming
Damn Dog Died Damn Dog Died. Twelve years eating and walking together. Morning and evening brushing against each other. Silent glances speaking of needs. Dance partners fading in grace. Damn Dog Died Ed Ahern
Photo: Susanne Dyby
Plain Vanilla by Caroline Taylor Kitty ignored all the warning signs...
hat did Kitty see in you? Why, the opposite. You weren’t into stock car racing. You had a college degree. You played the guitar. You were kind and sympathetic, not judgmental and sarcastic. You weren’t Nicholas. I warned her. I told her she had to realize that your middle name, writ large, was REBOUND. Kitty ignored all the warning signs, swearing you were exactly her type – not only the opposite of the reviled Nicholas, but the possessor of qualities she valued highly. All the signs were there, including meeting you at that youth fellowship outing. Kitty wasn’t a member of our church. I only dragged her to the event because I’d had it with the endless pity party. Yes, she was still nursing wounds from a divorce that she had asked for—a blameless, nearly painless way out of a disastrous marriage that, luckily for her, had only lasted one year. And, okay. Probably her ego was bruised, her sense of selfworth in shreds, and her heart desperately seeking to love again. There wasn’t a damn thing I could do but watch, helplessly, as she homed in on you like a heat-seeking missile. And who could blame her? For all I know, you may be bald and fat now, but back then your open, square-jawed face with those mesmerizing deep gray eyes, curly black hair, and warm baritone voice made you the answer to many a girl’s prayers. This girl, for sure. Kitty also played the guitar— or, more accurately, strummed a 32
few chords while channeling Joan Baez or Judy Collins. People liked it, though. Her hair wasn’t blond. Or straight. She wore eyeglasses. Other than that, she had the Judy Collins look down pretty well. (The minute she could afford it, Kitty got contacts—blue, of course.) I’m probably one of a very few people who witnessed the daily ritual of her ironing her nearly waist-length hair to make it straight. I’m only telling you this as a way of showing you how insecure she was, how determined to look like somebody she wasn’t. In your case, it worked remarkably well. After she started singing along with you at that youth fellowship outing, you were a goner. I curse the day... How can I be so sure you were Mr. Rebound? To begin with, Kitty had been saying for months that Wichita—especially after the divorce—was becoming much too small for her. “Everywhere I go, Ann, it seems I run into that shit Nicholas and his latest bimbo.” “So?” “Don’t you see how painful that is? The minute I see him— them—I start imagining what they’re going to do afterwards when they’re alone together.” “But you’re the one who—” “―I know that. It doesn’t seem to help.” I suppose you don’t care about this kind of detail, but I think you need to hear it. The gist of it is that Kitty felt Nicholas was ruining any chance she had of meeting somebody as good-looking and sexy as he was. Basically, she didn’t want to be married to him, but
she also didn’t want him to be having such a good time with the United Airlines flight attendant he’d hooked up with way too soon after their split-up. I don’t think it ever occurred to her that Nicholas and the stew might have been an item while he was still married to Kitty. Not that it matters. Before you met Kitty, the two of us had been talking about heading out to San Francisco, flowers in our hair. It was 1968, and San Francisco was the happening place. You were too much of a newcomer to the area to know that I worked in the law firm two floors down from Kitty’s. Wichita back then seemed so small that we all ran in the same social circles— young, single, respectable but not wealthy. Even I could sense those circles shrinking the more time passed. It was inevitable that Kitty and I would wind up dating the same guys (excluding Nicholas) and going to the same parties. A town that had at one time seemed exciting because it was so much bigger than Salina was losing its allure. That should have been your first clue: If meeting you didn’t prevent Kitty from going through with our plans to head to California, what did that say about her? Armed with stellar recommendations from the law firms where we worked, the two of us hit the road in her Mustang late in August. Earlier that summer, again before she’d met you, but another sign of her growing restlessness, Kitty had applied to join the Civil Service as a secretary but had heard nothing. I
Plain Vanilla by Caroline Taylor think she had her eyes on a job at the Air Force Academy in Colorado where she could meet all kinds of interesting young men. Not cadets. They were too young. “What if they offer you something at McConnell or Leavenworth?” I asked her, knowing her lip would curl in disgust, which it did. “I don’t have to take the first job that’s offered.” Not that she’d heard a word from Washington. I figured that meant Uncle Sam wasn’t interested, but Kitty told me she was still going to let them know about her change of address. “There might be something in San Francisco,” she added. In San Francisco, we found an apartment in the Mission District and were both hired within a week—me working at a staid, conservative law firm where all the lawyers were called Mr. Atherton or
Mr. Rowley and secretaries were addressed as Miss Randolph or Miss Jones. Kitty landed at the far more hip law firm of Melvin Belli where Friday afternoon parties featured marijuana-laced brownies and stoned lawyers ogling miniskirted secretaries as they climbed the open-work spiral staircase to the upper floor. When Kitty announced that you had also moved to California— Los Angeles, not San Fran—I figured you either didn’t like your job in Wichita or you were missing her far too much for your own good. She said you’d found a job teaching history and coaching football at a school near the Burbank airport. She spent nearly all her money flying down and back on Pacific Southwest Airlines with its amazingly affordable round-trip coach fare of $26. Every weekend. I’d drop her at the airport on Friday af-
ternoon, and you’d meet her in Burbank in time to drive to that night’s football game. With you being a teacher and her broke, I gather your weekends were spent mostly in bed—or at least that’s what she’d tell me when she got back home on Sunday afternoons. I don’t suppose you realized Kitty was hedging her bets even then. Sometime later on that fall, she sent a change of address to Washington. I was catty enough to ask her if she’d told you about it, but Kitty just laughed. “You’re just saying that because you’ve always been in love with Bill.” I denied it, but I was lying. Do you even remember me? I was the skinny redhead, covered in freckles, who usually wound up lurking at the outer edge of your circle of admirers, always offering to clean up after the youth fellowship meetings in hopes you would notice me.
Photo: Eleanor Bennett
Plain Vanilla by Caroline Taylor
Illustration: David Gardiner
That was before Kitty. Soon enough, it became obvious—although mostly unspoken— that the two of you were headed for marriage, although I have no recollection of Kitty wearing any kind of engagement ring. You probably couldn’t afford it. Later on—years later, in fact— she confessed to me that she’d said yes, mostly because here was a good-hearted, educated man who loved her. Did she reciprocate that affection to the fullest? Need I even ask? “You don’t understand, she’d told me. “It turns out there were all kinds of things I just could-
n’t ignore.” I was crass enough to suggest that the biggest was probably money. “Oh, that didn’t bother me a bit,” she’d replied. “Although . . . it might explain why Bill lived in that depressing one-bedroom apartment in Glendale. You should have seen it, Ann. Picture the usual white-washed stucco walls, the scraggly palm in the courtyard, the swimming pool with cracks in the cement. All the rooms in the apartment were painted a dingy beige, and the carpets were the color of vomit. Really. It was a film noir sort
of place—you know, the kind where the detective finds the murdered man’s body? Anyway, I just couldn’t picture myself cooking up delicious meals for two in that ancient kitchen.” Like Kitty had ever cooked. The second thing was you yourself. This will hurt, but you need to know exactly what she really thought of you. Kitty was revolted by your body hair. She said it was thick and black and covered not just your chest but also your shoulders and back. Suffice to say, you might have been “just right” for her, but she did not find you sexy.
Plain Vanilla by Caroline Taylor The third problem, she told me, was trying to imagine herself commuting to work at a Century City law firm on a bus system used mostly by Hispanic maids and day laborers—or, provided the two of you could afford a second car, driving to and from work on those wild and crazy freeways. Despite all this—and really, what was Kitty thinking? – when you proposed, she accepted. She resigned from the Belli firm, loaded up your car with her belongings, and squared things with me. You spent the whole time out on the street, guarding the car from would-be thieves, so I didn’t have a chance to warn you that this was a BIG MISTAKE. The ready-made “wedding dress” she’d bought at Macy’s on Union Square was the last thing she loaded into your car, and then the two of you were gone. Later, Kitty confessed that, the closer she got to LA, the colder her feet grew. What was she doing? She didn’t like LA nearly as much as San Francisco. She had no job prospects there, either. She didn’t want to live in Glendale, nor did she relish the idea of setting up house in that gloomy apartment. You were such a sweet man, so understanding and kind, always willing to go along with her ideas of what to do with no money and lots of free time. But she suddenly realized that you were – and this will also hurt – a bore. According to her, you basically lacked a sense of humor, or at least the sense of humor, caustic though it might have been, that she’d enjoyed in Nicholas and in other, earlier boyfriends. Oh, God. You, Bill Smith, were just like your name: plain vanilla. Kitty didn’t even want to accompany you to get the wedding license. To be fair, she did tell me that it made her wonder what that said about the depth of her feelings for you. But she’d already bought the dress. What a waste that would
be if she backed out. Besides, she’d already said yes, made you drive all that distance to get her, committed herself to you. It was too late to back down. By early Sunday morning, though, she’d made her decision and told you she couldn’t go through with it, that she just wasn’t ready for marriage. You poor thing. You must have felt cheated, robbed, blindsided. Kitty didn’t have to tell me that you kept your temper. That’s the kind of guy you are. You didn’t berate her for making you drive to San Francisco and back before she changed her mind. You simply asked her to give it some further thought. But Kitty’s mind was already made up. It would never work. You had to realize that, even if you didn’t know how she felt about having sex with you. Look at it from her perspective: If she was already inwardly cringing at intimacy with you, surely that feeling could only grow stronger and would certainly reach a point where she couldn’t hide her true feelings. And then what would you do? It all boils down to Kitty realizing, far too late than she should have, that she was probably going to be as miserable, or possibly more so, as she’d been in her marriage to Nicholas. To go through with things would be dishonest, cowardly, and cruel. So there she was, back on my doorstep – with you, again, standing by the car while she carried her belongings into our apartment. I invited you in for a coke, but you said you had to head straight back. Kitty didn’t get her old job back with Belli, but she was soon hired by another law firm, working for a newly minted associate who was heir to a vast fortune and who – as Kitty reported it – looked like Peter O’Toole’s younger brother. He was single, too, but she figured quite possibly also gay.
Over the ensuing months, Kitty talked to you nearly every week, hinting she was still mulling things over while I knew she was just feeling relieved. I hated the deception, and I wanted desperately to call you and let you know the real story. Kitty was never going to change her mind. She just lacked the guts to tell you. Then one day the telephone rang. It was somebody from the Office of Personnel Management in Washington, asking for Kitty. When she put the phone down, she was smiling. “I might not be here too much longer,” she said. “There’s an opening at the U.S. Justice Department.” The salary wasn’t quite as high, but Kitty clearly wanted out. So she left. I got a letter from her later on that year. She’d been to a “black tie” affair at the National Gallery of Art. In the picture she enclosed with the letter, she’s wearing that wedding dress she bought at Macy’s. I recognized it, even though it had been dyed a pale blue. Instead of three-quarterlength sleeves, it had thin satin spaghetti straps, and there was a darker blue satin sash around her waist. I could see she’d stopped ironing her hair, too. She mentioned that you kept writing, telling her how much you missed her, wondering if you could ever be a couple again. Why didn’t you give her up when she left California? Well, I guess I know the answer. You were blinded by love. Plus, you’re just too nice. At any rate, Kitty told me your letters finally shamed her into sending you a long overdue Dear John. Wherever you are, Bill, I hope you are enjoying a happy marriage with someone far more worthy than Kitty—someone like me, who has always loved plain vanilla.
Gold Dust 35
Things Will Never Be The Same
by Howard Waldrop Small Beer Press, 2014 Paperback £7.92, Kindle £7.52 Reviewed by David Gardiner
ssue 11 of Gold Dust (summer 2007) had a science fiction theme and contained articles on the genre, in which we pointed out that its heyday was further back than most people realise, between about the end of World War II and the early 1960s, and that many of the blockbuster sci fi films and TV series of the late 20th and early 21st centuries were directly based on books and short stories written back then by people whose names we still know and link with the genre. A name from that era that I must admit I had forgotten was Howard Waldrop. He was a short story man, contributing work to all the sci fi magazines of my youth, like Nebula, Astounding, Galaxy, Amazing, If and half a dozen others, but I knew of nothing that he had written more recently. If asked about him I would have ventured the opinion that he was probably dead. I was surprised therefore to find a newly-written Waldrop tale in a collection edited by singer/songwriter Janis Ian, and to learn that a new book of his short stories was to be published just before Christmas of last year, to be followed by a further one due about the same time this year. I was even more surprised to learn from the author notes that he is in fact one year younger than me! The stories reprinted in this collection span the years 1980 to 2005, and with the specialist sci fi magazines largely defunct Waldrop is now publishing his work in mainstream American journals like the New
York Times and the Washington Post, but has brought out no recent collections, which explains his disappearance from the radar on this side of the Atlantic. There are sixteen stories in this one, and their average length is considerable, giving an overall page count in excess of three hundred. What makes the stories noteworthy, at least for me, is that they are so readable and solidly entertaining. They aren’t cutting edge science fiction, far from it; though never predictable or repetitive, they contain little that is profound or challenging, but are essentially old-fashioned and comfortable in their feel to those of us who lived through, and were delighted by, the pulp sci fi era of the 1960s. Waldrop has a tongue-in-cheek style that is completely his own, almost a fully-fledged separate subgenre. His settings are practically all small-town Texas, which is where he came from and to which he later returned. The stories revolve around larger-than-life local characters – drunken Sheriffs, shotgun totin’ farmers, bums, used-car dealers and stony-faced school ma’ams who are likely to be out telling aliens that they ain’t welcome in these here parts and best be movin’ on. The science element in the stories is often vanishingly small, and you wonder why he works within the confines of the sci fi genre at all, until he explains it to you in one of his slightly self-indulgent notes at the end of each story: he has a track record in the area, science fiction editors and readers have heard of him and are willing to publish and read his work. Waldrop may set his stories in a comic book American West that you shouldn’t and can’t take very seriously, but there isn’t a dull paragraph in this entire book and some of it is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. This is rip-roarin’ red-neck all-American wild and weird loosely scientific nonsense that you won’t be able to put down. What more do you want for your £7.52?
by Aliya Whiteley Dog Horn Publishing, 2015 Paperback £8.40 Reviewed by David Gardiner
old Dust has followed Aliya Whiteley’s career since its beginning – and this is her best book yet. Highly entertaining and as quirky as ever, this one is highly intelligent as well – as much a work of philosophical fiction as of horror or adventure. In ancient Greece, as we see in Greek theatre, the modern concept of people controlling their own destinies was barely there at all. In its place was the idea of fate. We still have the term ‘in the lap of the gods’ for things that we can’t control, but back then it wasn’t just a metaphor or a literary image, it was a factual belief. The affairs of mankind were pre-determined by the gods and there was little anyone could do to change things. Human agency was a mere illusion. Thousands of years later Gloucester in King Lear (Act 4, scene 1) tells us that: ‘As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods, They kill us for their sport.’ But this view is rare in Shakespeare’s work. He was a thoroughly modern playwright. The notion of people’s responsibility for their actions and for the outcomes of those actions underlies all of his plots. Through the lips of Cassius in Julius Caesar (Act 1, Scene 2) he tells us that "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves”, and this is still a very good summary of how most of us see things. That said, the ancient view has also had a subtle revival: He couldn’t help it, he’s not to blame, it was his bad genes, his bad upbringing, a chemical imbalance, the corrupt society all around him – anything but him. Whiteley wants us to consider the possibility that
June 2015 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk
the ancient explanation might contain a measure of literal truth – that entities might indeed exist powerful enough to control our personalities, the kind of roles we play, the characters we develop. Or if this is too much for a modern reader to accept we might instead choose to view the book as an extended metaphor, telling us that all the roles that human males play, their stock patterns of behaviour both good and bad, are at root conditioned by their need either to gain the approval of women or to dominate them. Like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Skein Island gives us cause to reflect on the kind of creatures we are. The story itself concerns a fictional island retreat twelve miles off the coast of Devon, purchased shortly after the Second World War by the wealthy Lady Amelia Worthington, who established on it an all-female community at which women who needed somewhere to take stock of their lives could, by invitation, spend a relaxed and luxurious one-week holiday free of charge. It was after one of these holidays that the mother of the book’s female protagonist decided never to return to her husband and daughter, so naturally when she in turn receives a similar invitation, ostensibly from the same but now dead Lady Amelia, and in the wake of a highly traumatic event in her own life, she makes an impulsive decision to take up the offer. Skein Island indeed changes the lives of the people who go there, but in ways and for reasons that only emerge as the novel unfolds. The story enters slowly into full-blown Stephen King territory, but for a long time it’s possible to rationalise and reject the evidence for the supernatural, which is what many of the characters do. This adds to the reality of the situation, but eventually it’s no longer possible for them or us to cling to the universe of the familiar. This is a book that I can’t recommend highly enough. A journey into the thinking person’s Twilight Zone, and a compelling page-turner.
Gold Dust 37
My Way by Slavko Mali A slim hand with unusually long, yellow fingers pulled the curtain aside...
y footsteps down the sidewalk of the colorful city made a uniform monotonous rhythm. There were yellow remains of dried mud on my ugly cardboard shoes. The alley of horse chestnuts that had just lost their leaves looked like a regiment lined up to honour a muddy general. Opposite them, a row of small shops caught my eye with the great variety of their contrasting windows. My attention fell on the exhibits of a small antique shop. Among the orderly lined up antiques, in the very middle of the horizontally laid down display, as though thrown there from some other world, was the blue cover of a record. The uncommon design drew my attention. It showed a group of hairy men in broad-legged blue jeans, their bodies weirdly double twisted, as in a distorting mirror. The words on the cover read: “The Other Way”. This title confused me even more, and like one hypnotized, I stepped into shop. “Where are you going with those shoes?” I heard a severe voice from behind a desk. It was a tall, slim, hook-nosed man in a blue working coat with a pencil protruding from the upper right pocket. “I just wanted…” “I don’t care what you wanted, I’ve just cleaned the floor. Go home, clean your shoes, and then 38
come back for what you wanted.” He said it in a commanding tone, and then disappeared through the stockroom door. I stood confused in the middle of the room staring at my shoes, and then I heard cathedral bells. The unusual vibration seemed to rip the air inside my head (God, is there air in a head…?) and drove tears from my eyes. “Mister, please…!” I cried, but there was no answer. My tears grew more forceful, and I heard a deep, velvety voice: “Do you remember the day when we met in an old town, surrounded by the crumbling walls of a cathedral, lighted by candles, bound together by music…?” My eyes blurred with the tears, I stared at the crimson curtain over the entrance to the stockroom. A real spring rainstorm was pouring from my eyes, falling straight to the floor. At that moment a slim hand with unusually long, yellow fingers pulled the curtain aside. They belonged to the strange man from a few minutes ago, and in one he was holding now a blue record. “I can see that you obeyed me,” he said quietly. “While I was waiting I tested the record on our gramophone.” I looked at my feet. My shoes were clean. “There is the OTHER WAY to get this record,” said the skinny hooked-nosed man, smiling.
“What does it cost?” I asked, confused. “Nothing. Just the OTHER WAY.” “What do you mean…?” “Come here, behind.” He held back the curtain on the stockroom entrance, letting me in first, and quietly followed me, releasing it. The room was bathed in a muted red light. He put the record on and started to dance, enthralled. Dancing slowly, he came close to me and put his hands around my waist. Suddenly, he nuzzled his wet sticky mouth to mine. I recoiled from his nasty hug and looked at him, disgusted. “Well, that’s the OTHER WAY to get this rare record, which is actually the only one in the world.” He was smiling grotesquely. His eyes bulged with unrestrained lust. Leaving the shop, I merrily greeted the trees by the road, playing with the two wet balls in my hands, while the music from The Other Way record drifted from the shop. I was as happy as a little child. I had succeeded in the FIRST WAY to get this most rare, unique pair of eyes in the whole world. The Record had been the perfect bait. The queer antique salesman will listen to it forever now, in eternal darkness. It was such a good feeling!
My Way by Slavko Mali
Illustration: Slavko Mali
The Why and How of Submitting By Adele Geraghty Tips for poets wishing to see their work published in literary magazines
think the greatest pleasure I derive from being Poetry Editor of Gold Dust is having the privilege to read submissions from emerging writers. The work styles vary in all aspects but all contain elements of fine writing. Every month I receive work which is fresh, innovative, compelling, evocative, beautifully conventional and challengingly experimental. I have the great fortune of reading fine works first and knowing that some of the writers, who tentatively submit to me, will no doubt go on to greater literary achievements. This is what makes my job exciting. It always amazes me though, just how many truly gifted writers I meet, who never submit their work for publication. They join writers’ groups, attend literary classes, perform at open mic venues but, they simply cannot bring themselves to take the plunge and actually submit. Sadly, a latent fear of rejection keeps some of the best writers unknown and the most promising writing never shared. I can honestly say that fear of rejection is experienced by all writers and, though some more arrogant among us may not admit to it, in reality it is as common as breathing. But no writer should fear rejection so greatly as to deprive themselves the opportunity of publication. So, I decided to share some successful suggestions for submitting, the use of which may actually culminate in being published. And if not? Well then, the first step in overcoming your fear is not to care! Believe this, if you believe nothing else; not everyone will like your work. That is a fact, just as everyone will not like you. You can't please everyone. But, that doesn't mean someone else won’t enjoy your work and will publish it. This is the risk you take and you must be able to accept it. In fact, it is unrealistic to see it any other way. Once you've got this firmly established, you can move on to the following suggestions. These tips may be better for newcomers but more established scribes may want to have a look as well, if only to pass this on to new writers who engage their help. 1) Do Your Research: Don't submit blindly. Use the internet and hard copy 40
journals and magazines. Read them. Get to know what they want and will or won’t publish. 2) Look for Themed Issues: Mags and anthologies with specific themes are good ways to begin. Check your own work. Do you have something in your archives which fits the theme? Submit. You are more likely to be published in a themed edition than a random one. Review your own work. Don't hesitate to write something new; just know that there is less stress if you already have something handy, which you feel is ready to share. 3) Look For Inaugural Issues: First issue publications are eager and hopefully rising. Don't think they aren't good enough for your work. Most will want to make a good name for themselves and attract talented new writers, as well as established ones and many of them do! They are also open minded enough to know that today's novice writers are often tomorrow's famous ones. You stand a very good chance of being published in new publications. 4) Look For Welcome Publications: Like Gold Dust, many journals and magazines welcome work from new writers. Scout them out and familiarise yourself with the work they publish. If you have a question which isn't covered in their guidelines, write to them and ask. Questions are good. Better to submit knowing all you can, rather than lose out because of an oversight or misunderstanding. You stand a very high chance of having your submission being accepted by publications which welcome new writers. 5) Don't Skip The Fine Print: Read submission guidelines carefully. Refer to them again before submitting. Make certain you've done everything exactly as stated. If an editor claims that, your work will be immediately rejected without reading if you do not follow the guidelines, you can trust that they aren't saying this to be witty. Follow The Guidelines!
The Why and How of Submitting by Adele Geraghty 6) Keep It in The Here and Now: One sure way of having your work ignored, is to submit rhyming verse anywhere except where it is called for. Whereas prose writers may delve into times past and use semantics of those times to their advantage, when it comes to poetry, classic rhyming verse is rarely sought today. But though it isn't as celebrated as it once was, there are still some publications in which it is favoured. The fact is that it takes great skill to write exceptionally good rhyme and unless you possess that skill, it is best to try your hand at other, more publishable styles. 7) The Plain Truth About Cover Letters & Bios: This should be the easiest thing to do and somehow, it always manages to become a complete mess! Your work may never reach the reading stage if you don't master this. Editors are busy. They read hundreds and thousands of submissions on a regular basis and still need to find time for lives of their own. So be sure to consider the following information before you submit. i) Cover Letters: Make your cover letter short, sweet and professional. Editors are not impressed by cover letters which comprise several paragraphs of introduction before finally moving on to a two page bio! Neither do they appreciate being addressed as one's life-long buddy. Friendliness is fine but, over-familiarity wonâ€™t make them any more inclined to accept your work and it will make you look either arrogant or needy. On the other hand, a one liner such as 'Here is my poem...Thanks', doesn't exactly put your best foot forward. Ask yourself this; Why would anyone want to publish work by someone who can't even write a simple letter? In further correspondence, you may take your cue from the editor's response to you but to begin, it is always best to keep it traditional. Here is an example of a cover letter that works. Dear Editor, Enclosed please find a poem for possible inclusion in Yadda-Yadda Lit. Mag., Issue 9. I have enclosed a brief bio, in case it is needed. Thank you for your consideration. Regards, I. M. Hopeful ii) Bios: Always write your bio in the third person. It makes for more fluid reading and is definitely more professional. One day you may be asked to give an interview and then, you can relate all in the first person but for bios, it is always in the third. Issue 27
Never send a bio with your submission if the guidelines indicate not to do so! If there is no indication as such, feel free to send one and that, stating as the example letter shows, you are doing so in case it is needed. That isn't pushy. In fact, some editors appreciate having it so they don't have to track you down later to get a copy (I'm one of them). Remember, you are not writing a bio for the rear cover of your first novel. This is a 'brief' bio, not a curriculum vitae/resume. It isn't necessary to include schools you attended, your favourite teacher's name, the titles of every publication your work has appeared in, your dogâ€™s loyalty, etc. Seriously though, some editors will bin a submission with bio's of that kind, not just perceiving it as conceit but, as sheer disregard for the editor's time and effort. A brief bio usually consists of 50 to 100 words and that includes your name. You don't have space to include your loved ones or endless educational credits. You will want something about your work to stand out above all else so, choose one or two of your best former publications and perhaps an award. And that is 50 to 100 words. If you have never been published before, it is fine to state this and include any literary pursuits; classes, open mic presentations, etc., which you have engaged in. Moderately longer bios can be used when called for and those ones which include absolutely everything may be saved for your first book!
8) Don't Let It Get You Down: Never take a rejection personally. If you work is rejected it doesn't mean that it isn't good. What it does mean is that one person did not care for your work. Or it could mean that the particular piece you sent was not what they needed at that time. Or, they may like your style but not that particular item. Or they may like the piece but feel that it needs a bit of editing. There are countless reasons why you may have your work rejected. Just remember, you stand just as good a chance to have your work published if you find the right publisher. There are always situations which call for moderation of these suggestions to a greater or lesser degree but, some of them stand firm, no matter what the personal circumstance. These are tried and true methods which work but, you'll never know unless you try!
Gold Dust 41
We All Reach the Earth by Bauke Kamstra by Falling Vine Leaves Press, 2014 REVIEW
Kindle £2.95 Reviewed by Lorraine C Brooks can as well, as in Congruencies, where we can throw our heads back and be gently kissed on the neck while hearing “This poem is just my inked tongue and your paper ear.”
Find out more Bauke Kamstra has been a visual artist for much of his life. He now paints the world and the beauty around him with a different brush: words. He resides in Nova Scotia where each morning he can be found writing poetry usually in a natural setting, wherever he can listen to silence.
The imagery of Germination is halting – the inception of a poem as an insemination with words. Simple, straightforward procreation in 8 words – “This poem is in my bed getting pregnant.” One wonders what will be borne of this union. I suspect that may be the moment the seed was planted for this wonderful collection of words. In We All Reach the Earth by Falling, Bauke Kamstra manages to do what is nearly impossible. To express the soul and essence of an event or feeling in a few well-chosen, torpedo-like words. Indeed, like a torpedo, he strikes the heart and causes an explosive reaction – just the opposite of what one might expect from a minimalist word style. In Exercising Judgment, he speaks of betrayal and revenge by likening these thoughts to laundry. “The men’s shirts flapped on the line like chickens until she came back and wrung their necks.” And it is not all about the darker side of emotions. Mum’s Accordion reminds us of a mother’s touch, and a child’s pleasure at watching her hands nimbly play a musical instrument. “My mother’s accordion played so many old hymns but the ecstacy was all hers.” The sensuality continues throughout. We learn, in Mouth, that “Your flesh teaches me the mouths that lie hidden in my hands.” If hands can kiss, then words 42
His work has been published in Poetry Nook, Vine Leaves Literary Journal and Shot Glass Journal. His book We All Reach the Earth by Falling was released in October 2014. Kamstra’s artwork can be viewed at: fineartamerica.com/profiles/bauke-kamstra.html Kamstra’s poetry can be read at: www.versewrights.com/bauke-kamstra.html Sensuality aside, Kamstra addresses the mundane and familiar in ways that make us less afraid. The Old Man walking with a cane is less scary if we can imagine that “…where stick struck earth briars of roses followed him.” This is easy reading, but do not for one moment think that means it is not provocative and thoughtful, and well done. I read through the whole volume in less than 15 minutes the first time – then I went back to read each poem separately, to absorb the strength of the words. I suggest readers do the same. Savor each one separately – circling it in your head like a fine wine in the mouth. Allow the taste to come through and enjoy each layer of flavor in every word. You will not be disappointed.
First Class Male Furrows as deep as trenches his stamp licked from a life enveloped in strife sealed with first class love I’m posting his form to the universe a pallet of solid gold wrapped up with the utmost priority just pray he arrives in the fold No chance of a recorded delivery? No? Nay, flat as a fleet o hearses, theres no filling an ounce of the void no return to sender …but hush now is that the postie tapping on my door? auch sure it’s just a noisy cloud floating by - well, he always was a vociferous bugger!
Photo: Open Source
June 2015 www.golddustmagazine.co.uk
Contributors Every issue, we receive around 200 short story and poetry submissions from all around the world.
Prose Frank Scozzari Frank Scozzari’s fiction has previously appeared in various literary magazines, including The Worcester Review, The Kenyon Review, War Literature & the Arts, Tampa Review, Pacific Review, The Nassau Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, The Bitter Oleander, Ellipsis Magazine, The Emerson Review, South Dakota Review, Minetta Review, Roanoke Review, Reed Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, and The MacGuffin. Writing awards include Winner of the National Writer’s Association Short Story Contest and four Pushcart Prize nominations. Slavko Mali Slavko Mali moved from the life of a physical worker to designer and journalist. He is devoted to drawing and painting, comics, cartoons, graphic design, illustration, mail art, and writing short stories and poems. He lives in Nish (Serbia) as a freelance artist and a tenant. Since a car ran over his dog he has begun to wander looking for the killer, but he understands that the murderers are all around us. He does not like art, but it's his destiny. He likes to listen to the radio. Katie Lumsden Katie Lumsden is a student between her undergraduate degree in History and English Literature at Durham University, and her upcoming MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa. She has work published in magazines such as Brittle Star and Litro. Nathalie Dibsdale Natalie Dibsdale is a writer and theatre producer living and working in London. She is originally from Wales and studied at Oxford University and City University, London. In her spare time she is a writing mentor/Story Minister at the Ministry of Stories in Hoxton, east London, an organisation that encourages local children to release their creativity and enjoy writing. Paul B Cohen Born and raised in Manchester, Paul B Cohen read English at Leeds University, and holds graduate degrees from Vanderbilt University and the University of Southern California. His Vanderbilt thesis on director Peter Brook was published in New Theatre Quarterly. He lived in Los Angeles from 1990-2000 and wrote over 300 theatre reviews for the LA Village View and The LA Weekly. He was also a member of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle and the Playwrights Voice Ensemble. His plays have been seen or given staged readings in London, Los Angeles, Miami, Detroit, Silver Spring, Orlando, and New York City. Since returning to Britain, he has concentrated on writing fiction. Recent short stories have appeared in Poetica, Conclave, and Spelk. His story ‘Lecha Dodi’ won first place in the 2014 Moment-Karma Foundation Short Story Contest and was published in Moment magazine in December 2014. Website: www.paulbcohen.com Michael Thomas Michael Thomas’s latest novel is Pilgrims at the White Horizon. His recent poetry collections include Batman’s Hill, South Staffs and The Girl from Midfoxfields. A new collection, Come to Pass,
is forthcoming in 2014 from Oversteps Books. His poetry and prose have appeared in The Antioch Review, Critical Survey, Irish University Review, The London Magazine and the TLS. He is currently working on Nowherian, the memoirs of Grenadian traveller, Henderson Bray. Michael gives readings and runs workshops in the UK and abroad, most recently in Sweden and Finland, as well as at the 2014 Ledbury Poetry Festival. His website is at www.michaelwthomas.co.uk Dan Melvin Dan Melvin is an English teacher in Farnborough, Hampshire, and Gold Dust magazine has previously published his poetry. Caroline Taylor Caroline Taylor’s short stories have appeared in the Avalon Literary Review, the Dan River Anthology, the First Line, the Greensilk Journal, Notes Magazine, the Storyteller, and numerous other online and print magazines. She is the author of two mysteries and one nonfiction book. Terry Sanville Terry Sanville lives in San Luis Obispo, California with his artistpoet wife (his in-house editor) and one plump cat (his in-house critic). He writes full time, producing short stories, essays, poems, and novels. Since 2005, his short stories have been accepted by more than 190 literary and commercial journals, magazines, and anthologies including The Potomac Review, The Bitter Oleander, Shenandoah, and Conclave: A Journal of Character. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for his story “The Sweeper.” Terry is a retired urban planner and an accomplished jazz and blues guitarist – who once played with a symphony orchestra backing up jazz legend George Shearing. Aviva Derenowski Aviva Derenowski lives in New York City in an Intentional Community called Ganas. She is married to Alex and works as a cleaner in her community. She enjoys working for people she cares for. She has been a member of Writer's Village University for about two years, and takes great joy in writing.
Poems Angela Arzu Angela Arzu is a seventeen-year-old high school senior. She is the Editor of her school's literary magazine and has been previously published in Chronogram Magazine and Stone Canoe Journal of the Arts. Angela lives in upstate New York. Elijah Dov Santner Elijah Dov Santner is a seventeen-year-old located in New York’s Hudson Valley. Feeling out of place at home, he spent his summers and winters traveling throughout America with other writers and artists. This is his first time being published. Ray Miller Ray Miller, ex-psychiatric nurse, has been published in many magazines, including Antiphon, Prole and The British Journal of Psychiatry.
Contributors Janna Kupper Janna Kupper grew up in a small community in New Hampshire. According to Janna, "I read too much and now look where I’ve ended up. A writer, surprise, surprise. I guess the most important thing to remember about me is that writing is my voice. I use it when I don’t have means to say what needs to be said." Danny P Barbare Danny P Barbare resides in the foothills of the Carolinas in the southern United States. He has been writing poetry on and off for 33 years. His poetry has recently appeared in Doxa, Blood and Thunder, The Santa Clara Review, Watershed, The Round, Dewpoint, and Clare Literary Magazine. He has twice won the Jim Gitting’s Award at Greenville Technical College. Kate Jones Kate Jones was born and bred in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England, where she lives with her husband Jon and daughters Eleanor and Holly. Following the sale of her family business, she has dedicated her time to writing. She has had articles published in both local and online magazines, as well as a recent anthology for life writing about her home city and, has previously published two poems with Gold Dust magazine. Kate is currently working towards a BA (Hons) in English Literature through the Open University. Susanne Dyby Susanne Dyby has been a developmental biologist and now works with dogs. She is currently between countries, but plans to live at a small farmstead in Brittany, France. She is also an avid photographer. Melissa Davis Melissa Davis is a writer and teacher living in Miami, Florida, USA. She has had poetry, fiction, and nonfiction published in outlets such as Leaves of Ink, Fiction on the Web, and The Commonline Journal. She can be found online at www.melissadavisauthor.com. Yuan Changming Yuan Changming, an 8-time Pushcart nominee, grew up in rural China, started to learn English at 19 and published several monographs on translation, before moving to Canada. Currently co-editing Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver, Yuan has poetry appearing in 1009 literary publications across 32 countries, including Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, London Magazine and Threepenny Review. Kenneth John Wortendyke Jr Kenneth John Wortendyke Jr, known as KJ, is a graduate from Indiana University-Bloomington. While there, he obtained a degree in English, Informatics and a minor in Geological Sciences. His work has been published in Punchnels, The Los Angeles Review of Los Angeles and The Stray Branch. Ed Ahern Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He has his original wife, but advises that after forty-seven years they are both out of warranty. Ed has had over fifty short stories published thus far. Tess Adams Tess Adams grew up in a remote fishing village in the exquisite county of Donegal, Ireland. Here, she learnt to view the ‘uni-verse’ as ‘one big furry poem”. Together with her husband, she bought a piece of land housing a dilapidated store left over from the war.
They deconstructed the store and built a stunning barn in its place, experimenting with old timbers, tiles and bricks. Tess carries this skill into some of her poetry: she deconstructs words and experiments with old and new combinations of language, to dish up the fragments as a new substance. Tess is working on her first collection which will be published later this year.
Features, Reviews & Photography David Gardiner Ageing hippy, former teacher, later many things, including mental health care worker, living in London with partner Jean; adopted daughter Cherelle is now living in New Zealand with her Kiwi husband. Four published works, SIRAT (science fiction novel), The Rainbow Man and Other Stories (short story collection), The Other End of the Rainbow (short story collection) and Engineering Paradise (novel), which he is hoping to turn into a stage musical with several collaborators, as well as many anthology entries and competition successes. Interested in science, philosophy, psychology, scuba diving, travel, wildlife, cooking, IT, alternative lifestyles and communal living. Large, rambling home page at www.davidgardiner.net. Adele Geraghty Adele is a native New Yorker who claims dual citizenship, having been naturalised in the UK in 2012. Beside a lifetime dedication to the written word, she is also an illustrator and graphic designer. She is the recipient of the US National Women's History Award for Poetry and Essay and author of 'Skywriting in the Minor Key: Women, Words, Wings', a poetry collection. Adele is a member of the New York ensemble 'The Arts Soire', a collective of presentational artists of varying genre, 'The Patched Fools Ballads', presentational poets based in Newcastle and the writing site UKAuthors.com. She is Co-Founder, Publisher and Editor of BTS Books (Between These Shores), which specialises, but is not limited to promoting emerging women writers. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies, including 'Not A Muse: The Inner Lives of Women' (Haven Press) and 'Cradle Songs' (Quill & Parchment Press). Her work may also be found in journals and magazines such as Sein und Werden, Long Poem Magazine and The Dawntreader. Her current work in progress is 'Searching for Jennie Harbour', a biography of the enigmatic Deco era Illustrator. https://www.facebook.com/BTSBOOKS. Lorraine C Brooks Lorraine C Brooks is a native of New York where she resides and where she holds a BA in Communication Arts and a Masters in Public Health. She is a founding member of ‘Red Round Group’, a collaborative of poets and artists producing documentary and art films and videos. Her current film in progress is Passion – Inside the Hearts of Women. Lorraine is a performance poet whose work has appeared in the UK anthology And Again Last Night by Indigo Dreams Publishing. She is resident poet of the radio show ‘Diabetes Latenight’, producing and performing poetry of interest to diabetics. Her NY appearances include ‘Inspiration-121 Poets’ at State University of NY, Micky Mo’s, Ellis Bar and ‘New Poets Reading’ at City University of NY. Lorraine is the author of Riding the Wave, a poetry collection (BTS Books, 2010). Jerry P. Maldonado Jerry P. Maldonado is a native New Yorker, now residing in Youngstown, Ohio. His photograph, 'Shadow of the Fair' appearing in Gold Dust Issue 27, is from his Americana Graphic collection; encompassing both realism and surrealism through vignettes of American life and landscape. He may be reached through BTSBooks2007@aol.com.
The Back Page
Watch this space...
Second Gold Dust Prose Anthology In 2009, after five years of continuous publication, the Gold Dust team brought out its first 'best of' prose anthology entitled Solid Gold. The book (still available to buy from Lulu.com) contained twenty-three short stories, including the best from all previous issues of the magazine, some specially commissioned work and some stories from members of the Gold Dust team. Now we have decided to publish another 'best of' anthology entitled More Nuggets From Gold Dust, in time for this Christmas. We will be writing to those past contributors whose stories we would like to republish and we will accept new submissions specially for the anthology, but please bear in mind that the bar for acceptance will be set very high!
Gold Dust anthologies Gold Dust has published 2 poetry anthologies and 1 prose anthology:
To submit to Gold Dust magazine Our (short) submission guidelines can be found at: www.golddustmagazine.co.uk/Writers
Twice yearly magazine of literature and the arts. In this issue: 6 short stories, 4 flash fiction stories, 13 poems and 4 reviews. We also h...
Published on May 26, 2015
Twice yearly magazine of literature and the arts. In this issue: 6 short stories, 4 flash fiction stories, 13 poems and 4 reviews. We also h...