Gold Dust magazine - Issue 30

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Twice-yearly magazine of literature & the arts

Issue 30 winter 2016

A Message From Adele This season the Gold Dust team has undergone

many changes, not the least of which has been taking on new roles and responsibilities. That is how it came to pass that with no prior experience, I've managed with a great deal of help from David Gardiner to accomplish creating the layout for Issue 30. So when you get your copy, if it looks like it could use a tweak here or there, just think of it as our version of the 'Inverted Jenny' (the 1918 US stamp, sporting an upside down airplane). If we're lucky, one day Issue 30 may be as collectable as that stamp. For now, just know that Gold Dust is growing in leaps and bounds and we continue to receive submissions in the hundreds. When I first joined Gold Dust, we were producing no more than seven to ten poems per issue. Our current issue features the work of twenty-one poets from all over the world, as well as seven authors of wonderfully diverse short stories. The world is becoming a very uncertain place these days and now more than ever, we need the peace of mind produced by creative expression. Gold Dust remains a haven for authors from all nations, all walks of life and all levels of experience. Here's wishing all of our readers and writers a New Year of peace, health and creative unity! Poetry Editor

A Message From David Omma Velada, who founded Gold Dust some

14 years ago, is no longer able to lend a hand due to the pressure of work in her new job. We wish her every possible success and hope that she will look in from time to time and let us know if we’re making a decent job of things. This issue has been put together by Adele Geraghty our Poetry Editor, who as well as selecting the poems and managing the poetry section did all of the internal layout and many other necessary odd jobs as well, and myself, David. I tried to look after the prose and the cover design, using the amazing artwork of Slavko Mali. The creation of the interviews and features we shared. With the loss of Omma we’re really under-staffed at Gold Dust, and if you have any talent or skill that you think we might be able to use do please get in touch! Prose Editor

Gold Dust team Founder: Omma Velada Prose Editor & Cover Designer: David Gardiner Poetry Editor: Adele C Geraghty Photographer: Eleanor L Bennett Illustrations: Slavko Mali Layout: (This issue) Adele Geraghty

Issue 30 ~ winter 2016

YouTube: Facebook: MySpace: Approximate Circulation Online: ( 3,000 PDF: ( 500 Founded 2004 We select solely on merit, regardless of the age, gender, reputation or prior publication history of the writer


Contents Short Stories

8 High Noon Heather Walker Page 18


1 46

Editorials from Adele Geraghty & David Gardiner Contributors Our writers’ bios

12 18 21 27

Flight to Freedom BEST by Steve Smith PROSE Oye by Jean Duggleby High Noon by Heather Walker Footsteps by Kennith Hickey The Ministration of Loss by Lindsay Boyd


Head Music by Noel King


Waiting for the Sun to Shine by Jane Seaford


Working Hypothesis by Paul Borownsey

The Color of Raspberries Daniel David Page 45

Features & Reviews

4 25

Posting Your Work On the Internet Interview by David Gardiner He Runs the Moon by Wendy Brandmark reviewed by Adele Geraghty Waiting for the Sun to Shine Jane Seaford Page 35



7 11 11 15 15 16

Poems (contd.)

A Silent Messiah BEST by David Olsen POEM


Preliminary Sketch for a Red Admiral by Al McClimens


Woman in a Garden by Kathleen M Quinlan

26 30

Brief Meditation by Steve Carter

October Again by David J Lewis How to Walk a Tightrope by James Bell I Promise by Jana M King Project Day by Luigi Cappola Less is More Short poems by Ed Ahern, Jessica Mookherjee,

Wit, Whimsy and Satire Poems by Craig Kurtz, James Osborne, Luigi Cappola, Al McClimens & Lee Todd Lacks


Brothers by David Olsen


Unusual Shiver in Winter Days by Sonner Mondal


Coming home from the hospital by Jane Frank


Faithless by Jane Frank


Calendar by Yvonne Green

19 19 20

Like pita bread by David J Lewis

20 24


The Color of Raspberries by Daniel David

The Gift by Kathleen M Quinlan Leaving Her Seat by Bonny Macrae Trick of the Light by Nicholas Rooney Night Out by Kate Lewington The Ministration of Loss Lindsay Boyd Page 27

Issue 30 ~ winter 2016

Frankenstein’s Android 3 A J Huffman Page 17

Posting Your Work on the Internet dies and is reborn by David Gardiner This is an account of a recent three-way email conversation between myself and the two cofounders of the writers’ website which has recently metamorphosed into a completely new site,, or WABD for short. Andrea Lowne has always been the person running the site day-to-day, which is still her role at WABD, while Richard Harris has also retained his role of web administrator and technical guru. David: When I started posting stories on the Internet, some time in the late bronze age, the only writers’ sites I knew of were (mainly fantasy stories and artwork) and, the big faceless American short story site with a zillion members but no social aspect to its activities whatsoever. Then ABCtales started up, which had a forum, but one inhabited largely by trolls of one kind or another, and what comments on stories it contained were often more vitriolic than analytic. There was still no easy or routine way to leave feedback on individual stories – to do that you had to start a forum thread about that specific story, and few people saw it or bothered to reply. When began in 2001 what it brought to the scene, at least for me, was a far more feedback-and-friendship oriented format: member pages where you could find information about the contributors and a feedback form under each story for leaving comments, as well as the large resources section for people seeking outlets for their work or trying to navigate the writing field generally. This was what I had been waiting for – a site where people who cared about their writing could help one another to improve, and where I could find feedback and discussion. seemed to be the first workshop site for people who wanted to learn and improve. From then on it became the main (almost the only) writers site to which I submitted my work. It was also midwife to the birth of Gold Dust – it was where all the magazine’s original creators met one another and made contact with the people who b ecame our early contributors and helpers. Was that how you saw the role of the site yourselves when you were starting out? Andrea: I can only speak for myself, but yes, pretty much. In fact it was Richard who first built/started UKA, albeit in a very different format. There were several editors then, who each handled the particular genre they wrote in: Humour (that was me) Sci-fi, Crime, Fantasy and so forth. Eventually, however, all the other editors left for various reasons and I sort of muscled in and took over :) David: And now has come to the end of its life and has been replaced by a new site called


Write And Be Damned (, or WABD for short. How did that come about? Andrea: The short answer is, that we had to keep up with the times or die. Richard can explain more, being far more technically-minded than I am, but basically the old UKA (which is archived, but still readable, by the way) was built using a very old version of PHP Nuke (since we're a very old site :)), which was so tweaked to suit the UKA needs that it could no longer be repaired, and only updated and added to with great difficulty. Also, it was not fully compatible with phones and tablets, meaning we were losing many members, since phones and tablets seem to be the way of doing things these days, rather than the far more cumbersome desktop. In short we needed a new, dynamic, up-to-date, fresh website that was easy to use and navigate, if we were to survive. I'm sure Richard can explain it far better than I can, though... Richard: WABD IS UKA! We just needed to do a MAJOR spring clean! Our original build had been tweaked and hacked (by me) for 10 years until it got to the point where it couldn’t cope any longer with the

modern browsers and mobile gadgets. So we finally decided to do what we’ve been putting off for years and dumped the scripts and back-end engine for Word press. This is probably one of the best content management systems (CMS) available and it has strong support, regular updates and loads of flexibility. Also, it is VERY secure. Now you can read WABD on any mobile device in comfort. The name change was simply because we thought that the ‘UK’ in UKA didn’t reflect the international reach and global community that UKA (now WABD) encompasses. ‘Write and Be Damned’ is a clever and memorable paraphrase on a well know quote which we robbed from The Duke of Wellington.

David: Since I seldom visit other writers’ sites I can’t be certain, but there seems to have been a steep rise in the number of writers’ sites a few years ago followed by an even steeper decline in more recent times. What do you think is causing that?

gies to the many great posts I have no doubt forgotten to mention!

Richard: The internet is by its nature quick and instantaneous and ‘most’ of its users are… younger. The modern attention span is drastically reduced which is why sites like Twitter and Snapchat are so popular. Adrea: The nature of the Internet and changes in the way people are using it. Many well-established writing Most haven't the time or inclination to sit and muse over a 1500 word MSS when they strive for instant sites have closed. Writelink and BeWrite spring to gratification and adulation from their online readers. mind and there are many more. Sadly, ABCTales is Have a look at Emmerdale Farm from the ‘70s (on probably going to close its doors at the end of this YouTube). Notice that the first half is in Ma’s Kitchen year too. Many more people are using blogs and sites and the second half is in the Woolpack. Two scenes. like Smashwords to publish their work easily and Now look at Emmerdale (not farm) now! Each scene quickly. Nothing wrong with that, it gives us a run for is about 2-3 mins and the whole 27 min episode has our money. The trouble is, there's rarely any editorial dozens of scenes because the writers know that the input and little constructive criticism, meaning anyone modern audience’s attention span won't hold for any can publish anything and call themselves a writer. longer than that. It’s an instant world we live in now! That, really, is the value of sites like BeWrite, UKA and WABD as you say in your intro. Feedback, conDavid: Were you as surprised as I was to see that structive crit and community. out of UKAuthors’ 3,000 plus membership only (at Richard: Indeed, the rise in sites for writers was prolif- time of writing) 123 have re-registered with the new site? ic in the early days when the internet was new, fresh and offered individuals the opportunity to reach out to fellow writers. Most have stagnated and not moved with the digital times and they naturally fall by the wayside when new, young and energetic startups… startup! Money for promotion, money for innovation, money for investment… so money is a big factor in who grows and thrives and who sinks and dies.

Andrea: It's early days yet, we've only been live a couple of months! And we always knew that the 3,000 figure was unrealistic. It's always the case that, on the vast majority of sites, the number of members doesn't reflect the number of active members. People come and go (for example many of the members of WABD are returnees, some of whom hadn't been on UKA for years), people register and don't post, people move, David: That sounds like a trend that will be difficult to people get ill, people stop writing, people lose interest. reverse, but let’s hope that at least some sites with I know I am registered on many websites which I no higher standards will be able to hold out. Something longer use, or only go back to occasionally. It's the else I have noticed is a big general decline in the subnature of the beast. Give it time and I'm confident mission of short stories to both writing sites and maga- many of our 'old' members will return. zines like Gold Dust, accompanied by a corresponding rise in the submission of poems. I have Richard: 3000 members sounds a lot, but over the my own cynical theory course of UKA’s lifetime it’s a very small number. And about this, which is that as Andrea has pointed out, people register and after a it’s a lot less effort to short while they move on to another website that perwrite a bad poem than haps better suits their needs/requirements. I’d much even a bad short story, rather have 120 active members than 3000 dormant so some people will ones. rattle something off and send it in just for David: gave birth to a small press the sake of keeping publishing house (UKA Press) which is still functiontheir names visible. ing and seemingly doing well. Do you have any plans Genuine poets, I think, to re-launch this enterprise or change it in any way? are no more numerous than they ever were – or do you think I’m being a little Andrea: UKA Press has also had a makeover, unkind? thanks to the hard-working and brilliant WABD/UKA techie, Richard. I think you'll agree it's a vast improveAndrea: No, sadly I think you're right. It takes me ment. I've actually scaled down the work I do on UKA about 2 weeks to write a bad short story. And double Press (I'm not getting any younger, you know!) and that to write a decent one. But I can knock out a half- some of the titles have, in fact, been de-listed. I simdecent piece of doggerel in about half an hour :) Hav- ply needed to lighten the workload. Of course we are ing said that, we have some fantastic poets on still publishing the work of renowned film historian WBAD/UKA who are meticulous in honing their work Kevin Brownlow as well as the late cameraman, filmto pretty-near perfection. Belcanto, Stormwolf, Gothic- maker and direc- tor Peter Hopkinson but unfortunateman, Macjoyce and Coolhermit spring to mind. Apolo- ly we are not currently open for new submissions. Issue 30 ~ winter 2016


Richard: UKAPress is now also using Wordpress! It’s the way forward ya know! David: This is a very general question but I think an interesting one and one that you are in a good position to answer. Do you think the digital revolution has changed not just the way literature, music and indeed most art forms are published and distributed but also the actual nature of those art forms? It could be argued for example that popular music has become dominated by ‘sounds’ generated by clever software, film by CGI special effects and even ancient forms

(with money and marketing skills) get our work read by potentially huge audiences. The negative to this is that there is a lot of ‘chaff’ to wade through in order to find the nuggets (mixed metaphor there I know!). Hence the digital slushpile. Fifty Shades would probably never have seen the light of day if it had been sent out ‘on spec’ yet millions of online readers showed the bricks-and-mortar publishers what they were missing. David: As a final question that perhaps both of you could answer, looking back on the years, how would you sum them up, and what are your ambitions for the new site, both short and longer term? Richard: I’m proud that UKAuthors has managed to weather the digital storm and is still standing and relatively popular. It’s an achievement in its own right to be able to say we’re 15 years old - that really is ancient in Internet years! Now that we have the new back-end platform working pretty good, and now that we can keep the website updated and running more efficiently, I would hope that we’ll be around for another 15 years and in that time we can strive to give guys like Wattpad a run for their money!

Andrea: Sum them up? A helluva lot of work! But very enjoyable, and I've made many very good friends over the years, quite a few of whom have visited me UK Authors ‘Best of the Web’ anthology, published yearly here in Amsterdam, and others whom I've met at the and featuring the works of UKA members. annual do. Others I've never met at all, but we have like theatre and dance forced into shapes suited to regular email exchanges. As for the new site, we broadcasting and ‘streaming’ by the cable TV compa- could do worse than follow on in the tradition of the nies. How do you think that revolution has affected old one. Finally, one of the things I'm really chuffed the nature of writing itself? about, is the friendships that have sprung up between many of our members. Friendships that, were it not Andrea: Oh dear, I'm afraid I'm very old-fashioned in for WABD/UKA, would never have materialised. Now that respect, as my son never tires of telling me. Mind that really is satisfying... you, he has very eclectic taste, especially in music, and we'll often watch, for example, an old Stones concert together, during which, more often than not, we'll turn to each other and exclaim 'No synthesizer rubbish!' Well, I say 'rubbish' to be polite... As for movies, give me a plot driven thriller/drama any day, and you can keep the car crashes, cop chases and muscled blokes doing patently impossible stunts. I'm not sure, though, that the digital revolution has affected the nature of writing itself much. You still, after all, need a gripping plot and it has to be grammatically correct and punctuated so as to be unambiguous and hold interest. You can't just stick a couple of stunts in the middle and hope for the best... Richard: The internet has become the writers’ digital slushpile! Which is both good and bad. The good part is that now we can all gain an audience for our writing and are no longer up against editors/publishers/agents subjective opinion as to the merit and saleability of our writing. We can pretty much instantly publish to the web or to Amazon or a multitude of instant publishing platforms and we can


Lasting friendships: Andrea Lowne (facing/center rear) with UK Authors, between presentations at the UKAlive event in London, 2007.


A Silent Messiah by David Olsen BEST POEM To see the pattern in the grain of the shapely maple back and neck, the breathing belly of singing spruce, and the scroll’s Fibonacci curl is to imagine pizzicato raindrops falling on a legato river of light. The shimmering finish on exquisitely crafted wood, lifted to its highest purpose by minerals and varnish, promised an alchemy of burnished tone. Yet this fingerboard will never sense Perlman’s caress, nor the strings feel Benedetti’s bow. This instrument is ever stilled by terms of the will that brought it here. Voiceless as a portrait in oils, it remains a bequest of silence.

Issue 30 ~ winter 2016


Flight to Freedom by Steve Smith Best Story BEST STORY The two African teenagers leant back on the wire fence panting, sweating from the exertion of running the inside of the airfield perimeter under the mid afternoon sun. As they stared into each other’s eyes, Mpenza and Malouli knew they had reached the tipping point. The big white metal bird stood elegantly on the tarmac one hundred feet away from them, for that moment unattended by airline workers. “It’s now or never Malu my brother.” Mpenza gasped for air. “This is what we dreamt of, all the talkin’ and the plans and the cryin’ well now we are here, a new life, freedom!” Mpenza raised his fist in solidarity. Malouli’s heart skipped a beat before he returned the salute, inside his stomach tumbled to a new unimagined depth. “We in this together my friend, no more hidin’ and runnin‘… England, that’s where we goin’ brother, England, both of us, or none of us”. Mpenza put his hand out to grip Malouli’s wrist as a symbol of their lifelong brotherhood. Then with sweat burning his eyes Mpenza moved forward slowly, crouching low and waving Malouli to follow. “Go!” Now he pumped his legs hard and aimed straight at the wheel base of the giant aircraft. Leaping up onto the paired wheels he grasped the struts above to haul himself up into the wheel well, over the mechanism and into the gloomy shallow confines surrounded by metal armature. Breathing heavily but stifling as much noise as he could Mpenza inched his angular body into the pockets of space left around him until he was perched like a bird with a firm grip on some hydraulic tubing and a comfortable resting place for his feet. His torso relaxed a fraction and his


breathing eased and for the first time he allowed himself to consider the whereabouts of Malouli. The plan was for both men to hide in the undercarriage of the plane, holding on for dear life as the giant bird took off and the wheels folded up as they must have watched a hundred times from outside the perimeter fence. They knew legendary stories told of heroic Africans who had made this perilous journey by the same escape route. Ten hours of freezing darkness to rest and pray to God that the light would come and welcome them to the green fields of England. The doors would finally open and such a light would flood their eyes and blind them momentarily but then, a better life, a safe life; a flight to freedom. Mpenza stared down and saw nothing but the gritty grey tarmac beneath. His lifelong blood brother was not behind him, Malouli did not follow him. He expected any second to see him appear suddenly and clamber up the apparatus just as he had done, swearing and sweating. But Malouli didn’t come. Mpenza wanted to scream his name but dare not attract attention. He heard the sound of African-English voices as ground workers began milling around the aircraft and at that moment Mpenza’s heart was broken. He was alone and he stifled a cry that shook his shoulders so violently that he almost lost his grip. The voices became radio chatter forcing him to focus on his own survival, he tried visualising where the retracting wheelbase would fit in the space around him when it folded in. The turning engines produced a depth of sound that penetrated Mpenza’s whole being until it became part of his own circulation, like the blood coursing

through his veins. Fluids gushed, electrics whined, every sound a forbearance of something sinister. The taste in his mouth was metallic, somehow mimicking the great bird machine that he had become entwined with, as if he were part of its internal organ structure. Finally he felt a lurching movement, unmistakable forward motion. He watched the wheels on the ground rolling followed by a brief stop. Then the groaning engines and the vibration intensified and the nature of speed projected his whole existence forwards, the ground a racing grey blur beneath. He was physically sick with fear but then quickly felt the calm of the fatalist, as if he had completely spent all anxiety. He briefly felt the lift and saw the earth backing away before closing his eyes and gripping as hard as he could. Mpenza prayed at speed and found comfort in repetition. He was interrupted by the heightened sound of hydraulics and the wheels mechanically folding back into the aircraft body. He froze as the big wheels came towards him and the light that was around him went out. With a thump the wheels were up and the bay door closed, he was alive in the darkness. A pungent oily smell dominated the dark space, the droning frequency of the engines soon settled into the background. Relaxing his body a little in the closeted space he realised how tensely he had been holding on. As the aircraft reached towards its cruising height Mpenza tried to think about his new life, he closed his eyes prayed hard and began to feel sleepy. This was not to be a normal sleep, but a deep sleep of hypoxia and hypothermia. The temperature around him was falling rapidly and he began finding it difficult to breathe. His consciousness drifted in and out such that he didn’t fully realise what was happening, finally he lost all awareness as the elements overtook his senses, six miles into the sky.

the African mystery man. The story captured headlines for a few days but was short on detail. As the shock thawed and the selfless care he received from the hospital staff softened him he began to feel safe enough and brave enough to talk. One particularly importunate journalist managed to assemble Mpenza’s story and get it to the dailies; his background in Africa, his motivation for escaping and risking his life, and the events that unfolded on his journey. Frozen stiff and unconscious Mpenza’s body probably fell between one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet into the reservoir after the wheel bay doors of the aircraft had opened approaching London. His body most likely skimmed the water’s surface one or two times before settling towards the edge of the reservoirs containing wall. He couldn’t have fallen immediately the doors opened but must have remained frozen in his perch until his hold loosened at precisely the right moment, whether through serendipity or divine guidance. Even the wind was blowing in the right direction so that he aced the small watery target at just the right angle of descent. It was truly a miracle that he was alive; however amputation of one leg and severe spinal injury were the ultimate price Mpenza paid for his bravery. Mpenza, by now a minor celebrity, was granted asylum and given assisted living for a flat in London. Over time he found a way to be mobile using frames and walking sticks, and claim a place in a new society. Despite everything strange to him about living in England, complicated by his physical disability, he managed to blend into the local way of life. Twenty years of peace passed him by. He took a job in a newsagent stall servicing the local railway terminal. Any bitterness he felt about his physical condition he tempered with thoughts of how life might have been for him back in Africa. Persecution, torture and execution were all common outcomes for young men such The next time Mpenza opened his eyes he was staras he was in the religious and political hotbed of his ing at a blank white ceiling in a predominantly blank homeland. The daily cliffhanging panic and helplesswhite room. All was quiet and still. He felt sure he ness that he felt now fully quenched by the grey Lonwasn’t in the homeland any longer, and guessed he don sky, persistently foraging pigeons and the sound was either a dead man or a free man, but everything in between was unclear. Sensing an inability to move, of buses changing gears on the streets. Choices are made, paths are followed, consequences are acceptincapacity settled his mind to resignation. Many strange and exotic faces appeared in front of his pros- ed. trate body, photographs were taken frequently and there were many questions and physical examinations. It was December and a wet film of the previous night’s rain glittered under the early morning street Mpenza’s recollections of the early months spent in lights. Mpenza rubbed his hands together to keep various wards of a West London hospital were a collection of snapshots and video clips disordered in time. warm, occasionally lifting himself out of his seat in the newspaper hut to stimulate the circulation in his leg. Most of the time he was lying flat, acute pain periodiHuman traffic streamed out of the rail terminal exit. cally jangling his nerves and he cried profusely for Some of the good humoured customers let him keep reasons he could not fathom. The national evening the change when they bought their paper; he put the news broke the story of a security worker at a resercoins into a tin by his side and rattled it with the saluvoir close to the airport finding a floating body in the water, face up and nudging against the wall perimeter. tation “Thank you Boss!” He also had a retinue of regThe man was alive but the medics found him in a state ulars who would hail the ‘African Birdman’ and stop to ask after his health. of hypothermic shock and with multiple fractures all A group of men in expensive looking suits over his body. emerged from the exit onto the cold street and made Mpenza revealed nothing about his ordeal while still in physical shock. Doctors, detectives and report- their way towards Mpenza. The tallest man in the ers all took their turn to try to prise open the secrets of group wore shoes that clicked loudly as he walked; Issue 30 ~ winter 2016


he had a perfectly manicured thin beard around a shapely full face. Mpenza watched as the men stopped twenty feet from the news stand and began pointing all around in animated conversation. The tall man began walking directly toward Mpenza calling out over his shoulder. “This is so antiquated, street corner selling, we want new vibrant shopping with multi ethnic themes.” The man thrust out his hand with the singularly worded demand, “Newspaper.“ Mpenza looked into the man’s eyes and at that moment time was suspended for both of them. Both men instinctively knew the other despite the intervening years and the physical transformation both had gone through; despite the fact they should be thousands of miles apart, there was no doubt. Shivering nervously, Mpenza was first to speak.

for your air ticket to fly here, in a soft chair with a cool drink, sleeping like a baby?“ When Malouli found no reply Mpenza’s voice began to rise. “Did you think about it Malu, did you think that your blood brother, or another of your brothers could have been on that same flight as you, but instead of sitting in a comfortable chair next to you they could be gripping the wheel of the plane freezing to death, prepared to give their life to escape what your new friends in government are doing to them?” Mpenza coughed with the effort of getting the words out. “I flew here too, remember Malu…? I lost my leg, I am a cripple. You were supposed to come with me. What happened Malu, tell me what happened? I want to know!” Mpenza leant behind and picked up a yellowed newspaper showing a faded picture of him smiling in a hospital bed on the cover, he waved it towards his friend who took it shaking his head. “Look Penzi I don’t have so much time, take my business card, call me, we can talk about old times, OK?” Mpenza stared at his friend in disbelief. “What evil is wrong with you man. You sold out. How much they pay you Malu?“ Malouli swivelled on his toes looking around for his colleagues who had almost marched out of sight without him. “Penzi I felt guilty for years. I froze. I was frightened, I couldn’t admit that to myself. For a while I fooled myself that you made it, made it to the green fields of England. I wished it so much, but then I heard such stories of how it was impossible for a man to survive that journey, I thought you must be dead and I felt guilty that I didn’t stop you.” “Stop me? You were supposed to be my blood brother, we were in this together, we planned it, night after night man. What are you Malouli, a government minister? You know what they call me? ‘The African Kieth Simon Birdman‘. Yes I only have one leg but I truly flew here Malu, truly like a bird. I am respected!” “Listen to me Penzi I have a home here in England, I come here a few times a year, call me, I can explain everything about what’s happening in the homeland. I have financial interests here, we are redeKieth Simon veloping this area, you may have to move your stall, “It cannot be, it can not be. By the Lord’s grace, what foolery is this?” He spoke slowly and deliberate- the owner may have to sell. Let me help you Penzi, call me. I can help financially. We can talk about the ly. “But it is you, I know it… and you know I know it.” old days. My number is on the card.” “Mpenzi, can it really be you? …I thought you Malouli, unsettled and worried what his new colwere surely dead, surely dead. My God this is truly leagues were thinking of him, buttoned up his jacket something like a miracle… How did you survive? How and turned on his heels walking briskly in the direction did this happen?” his they had taken. Suspended time slowly sprang “But how can you be here young Malu? Dressed back for Mpenza as he turned to look into the eyes of like that, looking like that – did you fly to London?” his next customer. He sold three more magazines beMalouli began furtively looking for his colleagues fore looking down into his hands at the business card. whilst trying to find the words to cover the underlying Malouli Akabusi / Government Minister, High embarrassment he began to feel at being associated Commission with this newspaper-selling cripple in front of his powHe considered the words for a moment, then erful business friends. crumpled the card, tossing it into the waste can inside “Yes, yes I am a minister, I am in government, his stall. back in the homeland Penzi, I went to school, studied politics in Europe…” “A minister? In government?“ Mpenza struggled furiously with this mental picture. “You mean you GOLD DUST joined the regime, the enemy, and you let them pay


How to Walk a Tightrope by James Bell

October Again by David J. Lewis

Walking away from Oldway House head as heavy as a train. Take the shortcut through the factory floor, where lichen licks metal, and puddles are an orange Tanzanian sunset. I thought I heard you shout after me in your government , echoing through the iron rafters. But it was just an empty plastic bottle, ironically branded like Santa, playing Ker-Plunk with my nerves, thanks to a careless pigeon who was unaware how fragile and brittle this giant had become.

The base point for a sense of balance is to connect fully with gravity and stand firmly on the ground. Tightropes determine a questionable existence so most walkers carry a long pole to even out their chances of being overcome by vertigo. There is no safety net in extreme cases where tension is not only on the rope but also in the beginning middle and end. It takes a lot to stand on air and not much else besides - most prefer to observe instead of stepping out into uncertainty and take note like any other model citizen of the fine line they will never tread unless the earth splits open by chance.

Jerry P Maldonado

Issue 30 ~ winter 2016


Oye by Jean Duggleby artists and shes from Switzerland. I learnt about Switzerland at school and they live on mountains and have goats and yodel. My favourite lesson at school is Maths. My dad says hes good at Maths too and that’s why hes a wages clark, cleark, clerk at the Elekriticy Board. My Mum’s a dinner lady at my school and she says that’s good cos we get the same holidays. Last Saturday we got the train from Crouch Hill to Southend. We always have a plan on the train and this is our plan. We try to find an empty carridge carriage and then when the train stops at a station all us kids crowd around the window with our buckets and spades and fishing nets. So My Mummy and Daddy have bought this no-one else gets in. It usually works and great big house and I have my very own we have the carriage to ourselves instead bedroom, though I’ll have to share it with my baby sister when she gets bigger. My of about 6 other people. This time it was a lovely sunny day and brother is 6 and hes 2 years younger than we found a bit of the beach that’s sandy me but he’ll always have his very own and then we had an adventure. We saw a room cos he’s the only boy. man and lady digging in the sand and they We don’t have to use the tin bath didn’t have any kids and Mum said, “Thats any more as we have a proper bath with taps. It’s in the kitchen and when we’re not funny”. They told us that theyd just got enusing it we put a wooden bawd, bawed gaged and the lady had lost her engageover it. We have a garden too with pink roses ment ring on the beach then she started crying. We all started digging and guess and I’m allowed my own bit to grow flowwhat. I found it and she cuddled me. Then ers. In the old house we could see Finsbury Park the other side of the railway line they went off and came back with an enormus block of ice-cream. We had to eat it if we looked out of the window. We don’t see the railway line any more cos we live quickly before it melted and we did. It was a bit further away from the park. Finsbury a lovely day. Park. We don’t share a toylet toilet with In the new house there’s another room any other families eether. that’s called a bed-sitter and daddy put a Finsbury Park is in London, England, notice in the Newsagent saying, “Room to the World, the Universe. Let for Young Lady.” Mummy and daddy have to pay the Yesterday there was a knock on the maugidge, morgidge so they’ve let the updoor and it was someone for the room, but stairs flat and a nice couple have moved it was a man and he was BLACK. He in and they’re newly marrid and they’re 12

came in and he was huge and his head nearly touched the top of the kitchen door frame. He spoke English and he was a bit posh. Mummy and daddy were frightened to tell him to go away so they said he could have the room. Hes moving in today. Weve never spoke to a black man before. No black people live arownd around here. Mum and dad showed me how to wedge a chair under the door nob so noone can get in my room. My brother’s going to sleep with me tonite tonight and dad and mum are going to do the same thing in their bedroom. Our lodjer’s been here for a month now and his name is Acambi Oyedoken Assissi Illaka but he says to call him Oye. He told us that on his first night in our house he wedjed wedged his chair against the door nob too cos he was frytend frigtend frightened of us. He has stripy scars on his cheeks and that means hes the son of a chief. Hes from Nigeria and has a son there who’s my brothers age and a wife and he showed us a photo and says he hasnt seen them for 3 years and misses them. Hes a student of Ekonomiks. All the naybers, neghbers, nighbors love him cos he carries their shopping for them. They say to my mum, “Your lodjers a real gentleman,” and my mum says “and hes educated and is getting a PHD.” No-one knows what a PHD is but they know it means he’s clever. Sometimes for special okashuns ockations occasions he wears his robes and everyone says how hansome he looks. Dad likes him cos he pays the rent in cash and is never late. Mum likes him but she doesnt like cleaning his cooker cos its covered in oringe splashes from his food. My little sister sits on his lap and tries to rub off the black and he larfs and larfs. His toungue and the inside of his mouth is pink and his teeth are very white and the parms of his hands are pink as well which I think is funny. His hair is very curly and Issue 30 ~ winter 2016

my sister strokes it and says, “Soft, soft.” If I was yunger younger I would stroke it. One day I was so embarist embarised cos when I went in the kitchin kitchen Oye was just getting out of the barf. Luckily he had his back to me and I didnt see his most rude bit but I did see his bottom. He was all wet and shiny and I ran out very quickly. I told my mum and she kept saying sorry, sorry and I had to say sorry and Oye said sorry cos he hadnt bolted the door proply. Then when my dad came home he said sorry, sorry and I had to say sorry again and Oye said dont menshun mention it and I think that’s a good idea. He has a lady friend and when she comes I go to his room to be shaperown, chaparown cos hes respectable and his wife knows all about it. Sometimes he cooks fish and chips speshally for me but


other times I eat his food and I like it. He says that I’m speshal cos I try new things. When it was nearly Guy Fawkes Night me and my brother made a Guy and put it in my sisters pushchair. We stand by the bus-stop and say, “Penny for the Guy,” and people give us money for our fireworks. One day we were clekting money and we saw a dog run out in the road and it got hit by a car. After that only its front legs worked and it ran dragging its back legs behind it. My brother cried and I had to take him home and we didnt get any more money that day. My brothers a cry baby spechailly about animals. When we go to Saturday morning pictures, a horse falls off the edge of the cliff at the end of the seeriall serial my brother cries and worrys all week. I say its going to be alright and when we go the next Saturday the horse gets up and walks and is alright so I’m right. Back at home I heard Oye come in and had an idea to cheer my brother up. I put on the Guy Fawkes mask and we went in the passage and I shouted, Oooooooooooooooow,” in a creepy voice. Oye was frytend frightened, really frightened and squashed himself into a corner. My mum came and told us off and made Oye a cup of tea in the kitchin. When he was drinking the tea he was shaking so much that the cup rattled on the sorsa sorcer saucer. My brother and I couldnt help getting the giggles and my mum stood behind his chair and had a cross face and pointed to the door and we knew that meant, ‘leave the kitchen’ so we went to my bedroom and rolled about on my bed larfin. Fancy a grown man being frighted of a mask. Mum and dad and Oye came to see me in the Nativity Play and I’m the servant to the black King and we had to have black stuff on our faces. Oye larfed out loud though it 14

was spost spossed supposed to be serious. It’s February 6th, 1952 and we heard on the radio that our King George VI has died. They say he was young but he was 56 which I think is very old but the new Queen is 25. Her name is Elizabeth and at the moment she’s in Africa in Kenya. A telegram came the same day for Oye who went to his room. We wondered if it was about the King but he says that his wife has died and she wasnt much older than the new Queen. He has to go back home for the foonral funeral but it’s a long way from where the new Queen is. It’s Lagos which is the capital of Nigeria. We thought that hed be very sad and he says that he is but also the Yoruba’s which is his tribe beeleeve believe in the afterlife and that his wife has gone to a better place. He has to get there early to help with preparashuns and one thing is that everyone has ware clothes made of the same material so he has to get his

Keith Simon

clothes made. Hell be away for a month as they’ll be a lot of feasting and dancing and singing and drumming. The ladies have to cook food for all the village. The funeral has to be in the village where his wife was born. His wife will be buried cos hes also a Christian. Dad says that he can just pay half rent while hes away and Oye says, “Thats very deecent of you and youre a real gentleman.” But I know that it was Mum’s idea cos I heard them arguing about it. Oye’s home now and he bort bought us a present. It’s a white statue of a lady and she’s thin and curved and I thought it was very pretty and a lovely present. But Mum says that it’s made of ivory which is the tusk of a dead elephant so now I feel very sad when I look at it.

bridesmaid and my brother has a matching shirt and he’s the pageboy. Oyes going to marry his lady friend and says “Lifes too short to waste time morning, mourning. His dad is annoyed cos hes spost supposed to go back to live in Nigeria but he’s going to live in his lady friends house and bring his little boy over and we can all be friends. I say, “He can be the black king in the school play.” And evrywun everyone larfs, laughs. My skirt is sirqualar serkooler circular and when I turn round you can see my frilly petticoat. My job is to hold the bowkay when there signing the register and I have matching flowers in my hair. Everyone says that Im the Bell of the Ball. I hope our next lodger is from Nigeria too.

I’ve got a lovely blue satin dress and shiny shoes cos, guess what: I’m going to be a


Project Day



by Jana M.King

I promised to write a poem Just for you. Didn't know how to start it, What to say, What to do. So I took pen in hand And started to write Every thought, Every emotion, Fast fleeting in flight. I'm in control again, I've got hold of the reigns And I promise To write this poem over again.

Issue 30 ~ winter 2016

Luigi Cappola

The garden boasted a row of chrysanthemums Sprinkled a dandelion’s fire across its cheek And combed stiff branches into a parting Pointing at a darting mole The fence was an older face Brittle posts for bones, stained wood for skin And as the creosote seeps into its dry sap A rat chews on yesterday’s scraps But now the dirt jitters, the dust rushes through The blades can spy the shovels and spades The ramble of wheels and metal bring a mixer - the squirrel stares at next door’s nuts


Less is More Whale

The Storm Walker

Container of meat, matter and milk moving ocean, licking salt made from super giants. Loyal as a dog to the things that sing in the rush of your covered limbs. You are that first crash that banged into us. We glimpse you in dark parts. Your fluke could take us apart. We are Jonah in your warm blood. Like Ahab, with our telescopes, fathoming your cartilage with maps and charts.

There is a man, at least, I think a man Who walks our storms in darkness. On sleepless nights I see him striding All wrapped in sheets of summer lightning Or flushed with the sodden rain of fall. The gentle nights are spent without him Who rouses for wind howl and snow That consume his passage. I think to join him in his trek But fear that he will tell me Of why he stands witness to this violence Or worse, of whom he seeks. Ed Ahern

Vixen Red, out foxed those posh boys, watches the woman bathed in piss coloured street lights, smoking outside shops, holding her leopard skin tight. Smells salt on her skin, milk in her breasts, gin on her breath. Pads over to the bins, hides in graffiti. Tastes the air for wasted meat, wary of strange men in cars. Somewhere her cubs are warm, their hearts beat like nails and barking dogs, willing her return. Jessica Mookherjee

Out Among the Trees To my lover to be, if he be out among the trees To express a hollow stomach A longing for a time, even a short time, when I will not Have sunken cravings of lack of fulfilment Hands that desire to touch and to hold How life moves so It tends to be quite forgetful You who may not be out among the trees

Wylie Strout The Poet's Cold Snap As if I were in Buffalo I’m digging out of the snow. I hate being stuck in one place. And I need the food. Oh, how I long for the melting sun. I feel half froze. As if I can pick up pen and paper feed my mouth and warm my fingers and toes. Danny P.Barnare

Eleanor Bennett



Unusual Shiver in Winter Days

by Jane Frank

by Sonnet Mondal She was a creeping winter, coiling and settling into the wardrobe of my lined collectionsof cassettes and clothes Suits arranged by brands fragranced by sensuous nights brought by you molded me into a gentleman below uncombed hairs and unwashed hands. I was into lessons to be clean while I was feeding on my love. From a scrappy life beside a pond abound with weeping cranes she was the only fish in front of my hungry beak.

Vivaldi never made it to the sub-tropics where there is only wet and dry. The wattle is still out and the storms have come but otherwise the gums are stubborn, not like the autumn Narnia trees in the photo you sent where the lustre is more vivid than poster paint, leaves fused into bright tapestries hanging from forest walls, in flaming heaps around your feet. Here the grass is straw under relentless Prussian blue that blunts mid afternoon before it brutalises and bruises. The convicts spurned God, this place had ambled out of earshot, Christmas the cruellest time of all when the sun guts the spirit, any chance for redemption cooked.

Short-lived and destructive as most pleasures are I am wedged back back into an untidy shiver from an act worthy of no mercy.

P. Sidebottom P. Sidebottom

Issue 30 ~ winter 2016


High Noon by Heather Walker Dave said it was an in and out job, no problem as I long as I did it right and stuck to the rules. Ah, you see that’s where I’ve come unstuck. I’m not a rules type of guy. Dave didn’t know that, but perhaps he should have guessed. When you mix with the people I do, lying and breaking the rules becomes second nature. And now I can’t think. There’s too much going on. Dave is having a hissy fit over my accessory, pulling at my arm. I push him off. Seems like I will have to take charge of the situation. ‘Just get the money,’ I say as I wave the handgun over the heads of the shopkeeper and his wife who are whimpering and cowering behind the counter. I tell them to shut up. There’s a small girl and her mother standing over by the chiller cabinet. ‘You two, get over here.’ They move slowly and Dave is jabbering in my ear again, stressing over the gun and whether it’s loaded. ‘Course it’s bloody loaded. Just hurry up and we can be outta here.’ My scalp is itching under the balaclava. Nicole said I looked sexy with my hair close-cropped, but right now it’s driving me mad. I’m itchy and want to be gone. Dave has given us navy boiler suits to wear and mine hangs off me like I am some kind of underfed orphan. I don’t know why Dave’s in such a state because he told me he’d done this kind of thing before. I should never’ve listened to him. I hardly know the guy. Should’ve stuck to what I know, a spot of fraud, bit of protection, a few knocked-off goods. But I needed a new kind of buzz. I guess you’re wondering about the gun. I took it off some guy on the estate when he couldn’t pay his debts. I didn’t know much about guns but I knew a man who did. And I knew it would come in useful sometime, but I was having serious doubts now 18

about this job. I feared it wouldn’t end well, not with Dave acting like a wuss. Dave lunges over the counter and finally gets the till open but is dropping money onto the floor in his hurry. ‘Pick it up,’ I shout. He attempts to jump the counter. ‘Not you, them!’ I wave the gun again. ‘Stop waving that thing around,’ Dave says. ‘Oh for Christ’s sake!’ ‘Well it’s making me nervous.’ I sigh. I am beginning to lose it. He’s the robber, not me. This is what he does. At least that’s what he told me. Now wasn’t the time to have a nervous breakdown or a moment of conscience about my bringing along my little persuader. And I wish he’d stop talking. The more he says the more likely it is that he’ll let something vital slip and then we’ll both be in the shit. His mobile goes off and he stops filling the bag. He moves his hand towards the pocket of the boiler suit. ‘Don’t you dare answer that phone!’ I shout. ‘It might be important.’ Dave says. I look at him in disbelief. His eyes are wild between the slits of his balaclava. He’s pulling his bulk up over the counter, putting distance between us. ‘We’re right in the middle of a robbery,’ I say, keeping my voice calm and steady, as if I am talking to a child. ‘What in the world could be more important than this?’ I can feel myself tightening up. I can feel my finger putting pressure on the trigger. Dave and I are locked into some sort of other world. I hear a sound and out of the corner of my eye I try to see if anyone has moved. The phone continues ringing. We’re two cowboys in a face off in some western. I can almost taste the grit in my mouth, the sun on my back. I move slightly because the sun is indeed on my back as it shines through the closed door.

Dave makes his move and I scramble up onto the counter, banging my knee. Dave stops as I grunt to stand upright. As he slides his hand into the pocket I kick out at him. He falls backwards into the alcohol shelf, sliding down as bottles rattle then tumble down over him, smash and roll across the floor. At the same time the Waitrose plastic bag he was holding in one hand flies up into the air and as it falls, the money drops like confetti in slow motion. The shopkeeper is shouting and his wife is screaming. I turn to the mother and daughter who stare bug-eyed, but I’ve lost my footing and stumble, feeling my feet skide on the counter top. My finger slips on the trigger and the gun goes off, shoving me backwards with such force that I fall off the counter into the card spinner display behind me. The bullet has lodged in the white ceiling tiles and a spray of dust cascades into the air. I hear sirens in the distance. I begin crawling towards the door, leaving the gun tangled in the wire display. ‘Not so fast,’ a voice says. I look up. The shopkeeper’s pudgy hands are holding the long pole he uses to pull down the outside awning. If he moves too quickly he’ll knock every damn item off the shelves. In fact I have serious doubts whether he’ll be able to manoeuvre it. Should I take the chance? I can hear Dave scrabbling about behind the counter. I have no idea if he’s picking up the money or picking glass out of his goddamn hands. I actually don’t care anymore.

Like pita bread by David J. Lewis wrapped up tight in the folds of my coat on a cold February in the soft rain then suddenly snowflakes in your ponytail and starlight in your eyes when you said you loved me made me cry but you followed it up with a jumble of words about leaving so I tuned out and missed the reason

The Gift by Kathleen M. Quinlan She pads out on velvet-quiet feet, bearing yesterday’s potato peels, tea leaves, bread crusts already mouldering in the bottom of the bin. The smell of midnight’s rain dampens the blanket of chestnut scent, heavy along the path to the bottom of the garden.

The little girl drops her bag of sweets and tugs her hand from her mother’s to pick them up. She looks across at me with what looks like pity on her face. ‘Would you like one?’ she asks. Dave’s mobile has finally stopped ringing.

She raises the bin, tips it deliberately into the compost heap, watches fragments scatter as she returns wastes not wanted – her gift of fertility to tomorrow’s garden, to the daughter asleep in the downstairs room.

GOLD DUST Issue 30 ~ winter 2016


Leaving Her Seat

Trick of the Light

by Bonnie Macrae

Stone Tiger by

Nicholas Rooney Her fingers grip the soft cushion beneath her thighs, Deformed by her years of life. They curl, Grasp and push for stability. Rocking, Rocking building momentum. Watching, I fear her building too much. Arms straighten, Now brittle bone and withered muscle, Sallow and stained skin. Her bottom lifts from the unadvisedly low seat, Her curved back visibly cushioned by the mass of age. Now stood as an inverted L, Paused perhaps to remain forever With hands on knees to give the final erection. There is a moment, A lilt, She wavers between toppling forward Or falling back into her seat. Then in a splice of a second she is stood. An exhale of relief. Until the next time.

They made a statue of me In the gardens where I played. It was polished marble, Smooth as silk, And just as cold. They made a memorial of me, A monument to their war. They packed me off to Dachau With a radio and a stiff upper lip. They made a stone of me. So now I stare, unseeing, A curiosity for passers-by Under grey and brooding clouds Which cover up the sky. "LibertĂŠ" engraved on my base, The final word I ever said; A silent, pointless affirmation In honour of the dead. They turned a princess Into a tiger, And then the tiger into stone, And left her stood in London, In a garden on her own.

Eleanor Bennett

Eleanor Bennett


Footsteps by Kenneth Hickey In the darkness nine slow footsteps are heard. A long silence follows. The man sits in a large high backed leather chair. Nothing moves in the ancient house. Nothing creaks. He is dressed in the surviving pinstriped trousers from the suit he was married in. He wears a dark threadbare cardigan over a grey shirt, dull from too many washings. His faded brown boots are worn and broken. Beside him the ornate wooden box sits on a small table. It is etched with a language no one can read. Secret syllables gouged in the hard wood. He stares straight ahead in the long silence, seeing nothing. At last he speaks. Is that you? The girl prefers the shadows. She too wears a dark cardigan over her grey shapeless dress. Her clothes are dog-eared and thin. There are ladders in her woollen tights. Her lifeless black boots are scuffed and splitting. She stares straight ahead. She will not look at him. After another long silence he speaks again. The words echo against the mountains of debris which surrounds them. Is that you? She waits a long time to answer. Who else would it be? I thought it was you. I recognised the footsteps. Were you expecting someone else? No. He pauses, painfully aware of the implications before he offers his invitation. Please take a seat. She will not make it that simple. I’d prefer to stand. But he must continue with the ritual. The sacrament must not change. Can I offer you anything to drink? He remembers other meetings in other cities. Lost to his youth and fading memory. What had they drunk on those pale evenings he thought would last to eternity? Chardonnay? No. There had been sacred breakfasts too. Mornings where the sun fell in dappled waves across young bodies. Issue 30 ~ winter 2016

Earl Grey maybe? No. Water? No thank you. I’d prefer to begin. Always so keen to get on with it. Such haste. Time had granted him much opportunity to repent unhurriedly. There was no need to rush anymore. Begin then. From where? Anywhere. Just begin. The girl reaches for the box. Peeling back the lid marked with words no one speaks. Releasing the secrets from within. She takes a postcard from inside waiting for the furies to reach their pre-ordained positions before beginning to read. ‘Paris amazes me. You should see the streets here. The way the sun …’ He interrupts. ‘No, too early. Go to later. Much later.’ She replaces the postcard in the box, caressing the worn edges of the others with her fingertips before allowing fate to choose. She begins to read. ‘I miss you so much when you are away. The days drift …’ Again he interrupts. ‘Later again.’ This angers her. ‘Maybe you should pick. No you’re doing fine.’ The girl replaces the postcard in the box before taking a third. There is a faded picture of a country cottage on the back. Once more she begins to read. ‘I finally realise it’s over now. And for all the wrong reasons.’ A sad smile crosses the man’s face. Memory softly glimmering in his milky eyes. ‘This is what I want. Continue.’ She reads, reluctant and stammering. ‘They say that love should be enough. But now I know they’re wrong. Some things, bigger things can get in the way. Things that shouldn’t get in the way.’


Lowering the card she stops reading. The girl looks up at his face, bathed in the reverence of remembrance. ‘Are you sure about this one? It’s not like the others.’ His eyes remain fixed on the past. He does not meet her inquiring stare. ‘Very sure.’ The girl draws a breath before reading, anxious for the hour to be over. Anxious to be freed from the room. ‘They said that things might change. Might come around. That things might resolve them-

selves in their own good time. What will be will be. But I don’t believe that.’ ‘Neither of us did.’ His voice is low and rattling, barely audible against the silence of the night. Again she looks up from the untidy handwriting, hesitant with fresh doubt. ‘I really don’t think …’ But he doesn’t want to stop. ‘No. Go on.’ He draws a breath. ‘Please. Go on.’ She turns back to reading the unexplained words. The man listens with his head to one side, eyes softly closed against the night’s shadows. ‘They say to forget about you. To move on. To look forward to the future. New beginnings. I don’t want new beginnings. It’s all endings now. Nothing else.’ ‘The end is important in all things.’ His words slide softly into the emptiness of the room. The girl is disturbed but she continues. ‘As I said, wrong reasons. Too many wrong reasons.’ 22

Suddenly he shudders and the spell is gone. Like a bird taking flight before a ravenous carnivore. ‘That’s enough. Pick another. A different one.’ Moving her hand quickly to the box the girl replaces one postcard for another. One missal for the next. In the interlude the man tries conversation. He has attempted it before with little success. ‘How long have you been coming to read now?’ She despises such inquiry. ‘Long enough.’ ‘But how long has it been?’ ‘I’m to read, not answer questions. That was the arrangement.’ Again he has tried. Again he has failed. It is a thing of little matter. He will try again and fail again. ‘Read then.’ The girl begins to recite. ‘It’s the coldness that’s strange. You were never like this before. You were angry but never cold. My letters unanswered. I wish it could be changed.’ ‘Nothing changed.’ ‘There are times when I can’t believe it’s happening. Not this way. How could it come to this? Surely it can’t come to this. I know there must be someway to fight. To cut my own path regardless of circumstance. The path I want.’ She senses the man’s impatience before he can frame the sentence. His eyes twitch uneasily. ‘It’s dragging a bit. Move on a few lines.’ ‘The next paragraph?’ ‘See if it makes any more sense.’ A clock strikes the half hour. They pause before the girl begins again. ‘We’ll find a way I’m sure.’ The man sighs heavily. ‘Better.’ He sinks deeper into the ancient leather of his chair. ‘We are too entwined for this to be broken. We’ll just refuse to accept what they put before us. We’ll just refuse. We’ll make sure it’s done our way.’ ‘Big words for a small voice.’ The girl glances from the card to his face but the man is no longer there, no longer in the

room. The past has snared him. He converses with ghosts as she reads the next line. ‘The way it should have been done at the start.’ Suddenly he shifts and stirs, uncomfortable with memories which do not change with time. ‘Enough, enough, enough.’ He is eager for something different. Something unusual. But none of the words are new. Archaic, ancient, obsolete. Scribbled on parchment. ‘Pick a different one.’ The girl replaces the card in the box. In the half light the etched words seem to mean something, dancing just beyond comprehension. She takes another from inside. There is a picture of a schooner on the back. In the recess between remembrances the man again reaches for connection. ‘Do you hate me?’ She answers reluctantly. ‘Hate you? Why?’ ‘For my weakness.’ ‘Most men are weak.’ He hears bitterness behind her words. He hears truth. ‘You don’t hate me then?’ ‘Let me read. I don’t like questions.’ The man nods slowly and she begins. ‘I never thought I could feel this way.’ ‘Good. Good.’ ‘I never thought I could be so much in love with you. I didn’t think it was real what they said. I didn’t think it was possible.’ ‘Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough.’ She recognises the quote from a different shadowy room at night. In a time before the one at hand. For her all of this has happened before, and will happen again. She turns her eyes slowly back to the words before her. ‘Everything else seems brighter because of it. The sun seems to shine more. Am I being foolish?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘I don’t know. I suppose I am. But it feels that way. Like there’s more colour to the day. Everything just feels brighter.’ ‘Brightness fades.’ The girl’s anger escapes her. Phantoms push the violent words from her mouth. ‘Will you stop interrupting.’ Issue 30 ~ winter 2016

The man senses the fracture, fearful it cannot be repaired. ‘Please continue.’ Her rage still has a way to travel before rippling to peace. ‘First questions. Now interruptions.’ He answers in a meek voice. ‘Just read.’ Seething, she stares at him. He will never stare back. She lets the seconds die slowly on the threadbare rug before the fire. The girl clears her throat. She reads. ‘We can never be broken apart. Nothing will come between us. This love is too strong. Too strong. I don’t care what they try to do. It won’t work. We’re unbreakable.’ ‘Did I ever really believe that?’ The girl hears memories scratching between the words but will not stop to question, will not stoop to inquire. ‘I long to be back with you again. Waiting for the minutes to pass …’ Again he hears enough. Again he wishes for release. ‘Put it away. It’s only descending into romance now. Put it away.’ Slowly the girl replaces the card in the wooden box snapping the lid closed. She will not read again. ‘And what now?’ ‘Talk to me.’ ‘There was to be no talking.’ This much they had agreed. But he is old and it is late. ‘Tell me something new.’ ‘Your time is nearly up.’ She has kept a close watch on the dying minutes. One after the one before. ‘It can’t be that late.’ ‘It is.’ The lateness of the hour cannot be questioned. She moves closer standing above him. The girl’s shadow covers the man, bathing him in darkness. He senses her movement but does not see. ‘Tell me your name.’ She picks up the box, tracing her fingers over the etched letters, opening the lid slowly to runs her fingertips over the archaic postcards. ‘I will never tell you my name.’ Turning the box slowly in her hand she pours the cards over him. They fall like the first


snowflakes of winter, like leaves in October, circling to perish on the autumnal breeze. Reaching towards his treasure he falls to the floor, trying to catch the cards as they spill beyond his reach. ‘Stop, stop, you’re making a mess.’ There is no authority to his words. He is too old, too tired, too blind. When the box is empty she allows it to tumble from her hands to the floor and stands watching the man as he struggles to gather up the cards. For each his twisted fingers find, another evades his desperate searching. ‘Why do you get me to do this?’ He stops, head bowed, beaten. ‘I like the sound of your voice.’ ‘Do I remind you of her?’ ‘Not really. She had more patience than you.’ She has heard enough. Witnessed too much of his broken past. ‘I’m leaving now.’ The girl turns towards the door, hidden in the darkness.

‘Will you come back tomorrow as arranged?’ There is terror in his voice. A fear of being abandoned. The fear of ceasing to exist. She turns back to him and watches his stillness. A Rodin sculpture. ‘Why didn’t you post any of them?’ ‘Would it have changed anything?’ ‘Why go to the trouble of writing them all and then not sending them?’ She waits for an answer. ‘Will you come back tomorrow?’ The air grows heavier. His voice echoes once more. ‘As arranged?’ Time stops. Time ceases. ‘Yes.’ The girl turns and leaves his presence. He remains motionless. Turned to stone by the Gorgon’s smile. In the darkness nine slow footsteps are heard. A long silence follows.


Night Out by Kate Lewington

Can’t see my feet Just the lamplit street Washing my hair in the wind Music playing through my headphones At a perfect volume Shadows of autumn leaves Skip alongside me There’s an open door somewhere for me And I cannot get there quick enough. The process Pouring myself into my poetry I do not pause to reflect I have become a robot Until the edit The typing Then the relentless submitting To literary magazines The scab fully formed A complete piece I am hoping for good results.

Jerry P. Maldonado


Book Review:

He Runs the Moon by Wendy Brandmark Adele Geraghty Those who relish the treasure of the short story will do well to savour 'He Runs The Moon', an intriguing gem by Wendy Brandmark, (Holland Park Press, 2016) Brandmark's collection comprises three sets of stories, taking place in the United States, during three time periods. With an almost psychological acuteness, she introduces us to a series of personal vignettes; each character presenting a snippet of life, almost always in transit. Her characters are astonishingly believable, even when swathed in a surreal ambience. Among others, we meet University students with looming theses and endless unrequited love, a palm reader with a social conscience, a University instructor who manipulates his students into his bed and a feared and misunderstood holocaust survivor. Loss, in diverse guises, winds its way throughout these tapestries like a tarnished thread. And there is a delicious six degrees of separation between the characters that also flows between and beyond all the stories. There are no beginnings and no true endings; yet no matter how they turn out, each and every one leaves the reader wanting more. We wonder how he faced himself, how she found the strength, where they went together? There are always questions and like life itself, there really are no simple answers, just time and change and resolve and acceptance. One only has today, this moment. Tomorrow is another page, perhaps another story, or maybe not. Probably the most searing rendering for me was in Brandmark's characterisation of the Holocaust survivor and the local residents of the Jewish community of New York during the 1950's and 60's. This is beautifully, woundingly and compellingly portrayed. She places us there for a moment in time, on the streets of New York with characters who are still living beneath and surrounded by the loss of family and old-world community, while clinging to time honoured traditions in a new land, enshrouded by the memory of unthinkable violation. And yet, they still move forward, wearing death camp tattoos like wounds which never heal. (As a result of everything she had endured, Anna's Grandmother has been hospitalised with a mental condition. Her new friend, Doris Wasserman (a holocaust survivor) is caring for Anna, while her parents visit her grandmother. While Anna learns about her grandmother, she discovers Doris' tattoo, which Doris tries to hide from the child):

Issue 30 ~ winter 2016

‘What’s the matter with her?’ ‘In the old days they would say another soul entered her, making her do strange things, but now they say she’s unhappy. You see? She’s very, very sad and sometimes when old people are sad they need to rest.’ Doris put an end to her words by getting up from the table. Anna’s stomach was churning. She did not want to talk anymore about Tamar but there was something she did not know, something she could not get at, like a splinter gone deep under her skin. Anna brought her empty glass and plate into the narrow little kitchen. Doris stood at the sink, her back to Anna, her sleeves rolled up, her hands moving under the running water. On Doris’ pale soft arm Anna saw dark marks like figures from a book. She moved closer, reached out to touch them. Doris turned and tried to pull down the sleeve but Anna had already seen the numbers. ‘Go. Go away.’ Anna ran from the hot room, from the smell of cabbage, gas, the perfumed sweat which rose from Doris’ body. She ran because what was inside her could no longer be held back, and at the entrance to the bathroom she vomited a heavy liquid." Brandmark's style is rich, smooth and heady with the allure of classic story telling at its finest. There is a wonderful, sensual undertone, even in the most mundane situations. " The skirt falls in waves from the fitted low-cut bodice which makes me look full. I turn and turn again trying to see myself from all sides. It is as if the dress were made for me, even to the length. It just touches my heels, its soft velvet like the hands of a fairy godmother........The dress hangs like a woman in a swoon over my arm. " Brandmark's gift is in connecting the fleeting minutes of a moment in time with the thread of eternal question and endurance. She merges the bare and raw with the secret and yearning. 'He Runs The Moon' is a bitter-sweet delight which can be purchased for £10.00 from Amazon.


Preliminary Sketch for a Red Admiral by Al McClimens

The pencil sharpener was bolted to the side of the teacher's desk and curls of wafered wood collected in its tray; broken butterfly wings streaked with tortoiseshell yellows and reds from the pencil barrels that slid like bullets into its chamber. Today I can't even remember the last time I used a pencil to write or draw with or held a sharpener in my hand. But when I see the lilies' dropped petals lying round the vase like stricken fritillaries I wish for an eraser, anything that could tidy the mess I'm making of the page with this pen, something to take me back to school, to rub this out and start over again.

Woman in a Garden By

Kathleen M. Quinlan Poised on the indecisive edge of a glade where darkened trees reflect no sunshine, a solitary figure in long blue dress, bustle, and parasol pauses on the path. She contemplates a confusion of flowers that blur to a plot of colour: cloud-white corsages, virgin’s blush, vermilion kisses, a hint of borrowed sky, a ring of gold. A shadow – like doubt – in the foreground. Ahead, receding into obscurity, a path promising forever.


Brief Meditation by Steve Carter no place to hide even in dreams if I don't confront myself soon my self will confront me don't wait until the Bardo you've already had several chances with the light bring it all out in the open now what would you do if you were alive again?

The Ministration of Loss by

Lindsay Boyd Such joy, such heartache. Sometimes the two, like ungainly fraternal twins united only by the shared moment of their birth, arrived hard on each other’s heels. Lakshmi occasionally believed the first made up for the second. Something as elementary as a smile or a gurgled laugh from one of the children could vanquish sorrow in an instant. If only she could have kept their innocent laughter, held on to it like a genie in a bottle, a bottle she could have unstopped – a kind of antidote – on the days when bad news was afoot. Of course such tidings, when they visited, did not just impact the children or their hard-pressed families, who formed the crux of the little community of Samya. Not long ago a young couple, dear friends of both Lakshmi and her husband Ravi, avid supporters of the community since its inception, were given the devastating news that she had breast cancer and he colon cancer. The pair of diagnoses were made within the space of days. Lakshmi asked herself how the couple, parents of two young girls, would cope with the disaster. How would they pay for the medical treatment? What would happen to the children, both of whom were too young to truly understand, if one or both parents died? The incident spurred her to thoughts of bigger questions too. They were questions she preferred not to ask because they transported her into territory she wasn’t comfortable in Issue 30 ~ winter 2016

venturing into, fearful of what she might discover, or not discover, once there. She mostly avoided them throughout her forty years, the greater part of which she'd dedicated to caring for poor unfortunates whom most others passed by. It was Sandhaya's smile, encountered exactly a week after her and her husband's worlds were thrown into disarray, that stayed Lakshmi in this instance. “It's just a hand we've been dealt. And we'll deal with it.” Hearing her utter words bereft of anger or self-pity, tears welled in Lakshmi's eyes. She put her arms around her, thinking that

Sandhaya was comforting her as much as she was comforting Sandhaya. She learnt as much from this experience as she had from many other less inherently tragic ones combined. She determined to take a leaf out of the young couple's book, and try to accept everything that happened around her, events at home and far from home, as inherent to God's lila, or play. It wasn't for her to seek the rationale.


But not even her friend's predicament pre- sure she heard correctly. She was about to pared her for the call she took early one morn- ask Sashikala to repeat herself when she did ing this last Pongal. They had been run off of her own accord. their feet preparing for the big day, which they “… my son is gone …” celebrated the equal of any of those that ocLakshmi moved to a quieter part of curred throughout the year – Holy Week, the the balcony on to which she had strolled. Festival of Colours, Diwali. Their second, not She could better hear Sashikala now. She long since opened, house bore the name UT- could hear her crying as she repeated the SAV, meaning festival or celebration. The same four words over and over. Everyone name underlined their resolve to fete life with connected with the community knew the all who came through Samya's doors, regard- cook had two sons. The elder, severely disaless of their level of ability or dis-ability. bled Apu, lived a life full of hardship and pain, The last thing she expected when she as much in his emotional as his physical exgathered her mobile phone and pressed the istence. By contrast the younger son, Surya, 'accept' button was alarming news. “Hello. was born healthy and whole. He represented This is Lakshmi.” hope for his mother. He was her pillar. But The sky around the eastern horizon Sashikala loved both impartially. She looked was showing blue-yellow. The muezzin in the at each with open eyes and loved them deartower of the mosque across the street had ly for the individuals they were. announced his first call of the day and in do“God has ended his pain,” Lakshmi ing so wrenched hundreds in the neighboursaid, voicing her instantaneous response to hood out of sleep. But there was not yet the news. sufficient light in the day for her to read clearly “He's lying on his bed … peacefully.” the display of her phone. She stepped out of “God will never challenge anyone the bedroom, closed the door on sleeping more than he or she can bear,” Lakshmi said, Ravi, switched on a light and looked again. It clinging to thoughts or fancies of the better was Sashikala amma calling her. place the afflicted Apu would have gone to. “Amma, good morning. Is everything Sashikala seemed not to hear. Tears okay?” distorted her words. “My son … Surya.” Lakshmi ably masked her concern, Lakshmi froze. No, this could not be. even when she uttered her question, a quesThe body lying like discarded raiment … tion that allowed the possibility that everything Surya's? In her confusion she mouthed monmight not be okay. The strikingly early hour osyllables. She could find nothing consolatowas the main reason for her worry. It wasn't ry to say to the distraught mother. Why this? as if Sashikala amma's calling her was odd in Why this pain and suffering? Surya had been itself. But that she was ringing at such a time the able-bodied, fortunate one, a young man … That did not portend so well. with much to offer. Truly his mother's beacon. She was the community's beloved Yet God had taken him away from her, leavcook and had been so from the very begining untouched the one for whom death might ning ten years ago. They were just a handful have been viewed as a release. then, a sprinkling who convened daily for several hours in the one house. The ever smiling, Lakshmi's questioning, her vague despair, matronly woman demonstrated as much love went on for days. She was not her usual irreand dedication in preparing the daily meal pressible self, neither at home nor in the then as she would in later years when the houses. Contrary to her former custom, she numbers swelled. She would arrive around spoke seldom. Her disabled little ones – she the same time everyone else did and leave always considered them her little ones whom following the afternoon cleanup, walking the God cared for through her – missed her enfew minutes back to her place in the Bangacouragement, the words and gestures that lore slum the original house abutted, there left no doubt she would walk with them the rejoining her other family. whole way, that not a single one would be “My son is gone …” The words were overlooked. spoken softly, so softly that Lakshmi was un28

Through the days and again lying in bed at night she recast the same questions. She browbeat the Divine Mother. Why? Why blight Sashikala and her family with this misery? But no answers were forthcoming. Least not answers she could make sense of. A part of Lakshmi dreaded the thought of facing the cook upon her inevitable return to the fold. “Take as much time as you need,” she had told her, half hoping Sashikala would stay away until time had begun its healing, as she knew it would. But she returned within days. And Lakshmi beheld in Amma everything she feared seeing. The emptiness surrounding her, marking every move she made in and around the kitchen. Her moist eyes. “I find peace when I cook for you all,” she assured Lakshmi, gamely smiling. But the teary eyes, as of a woman caught up in a mystery irresolvable in the here and now, belied the smile. It was the same mystery Lakshmi unsuccessfully tried to plumb in her shock and dismay.

“I hope eventually you'll be peaceful with Surya's loss,” she said. Old, reliable time performed its work of succouring surprisingly quickly, given the circumstances. Amma took Lakshmi aside at lunchtime in the third week after Surya's death. “Nothing will fill his absence,” she said. “But I think what you said … about God's not challenging anyone more than they can bear … is true.” She paused a moment and then gazed at Lakshmi with no residue of sadness. “I also think She never takes away without giving something in return. She takes away … people and possessions, things dear to us…so we can look, instead, within. All is for good but nothing is permanent in this world. Yet we can, we must, make the best of every moment.” Moved, Lakshmi bowed her head fractionally and squeezed Sashikala's strong, plump hands. GOLD DUST

Eleanor Bennett

Issue 30 ~ winter 2016


Wit, Whimsy and Satire

Your Painting

Midnight Wedding Bring on the dancing bears and the flaming hula-hoops; This function is phantasmagoric, orbiting a hallowed sideshow. If I get married again make it a midnight wedding with a honeymoon on the moon. Invite my former lovers so they may all roll their eyes when they hear me say my vows. Invite the next-door neighbors whom I’ve never met before and let them raise a glass with indifference that’s on the house. And this time the clergyman shall get a check that will not bounce; For that was not good luck last time and I’ll need no money on the moon. If I submit to nuptials again make the fête a bellicose concern with cakes and ale, and constables. Invite my previous step-parents, so mutually discredited, to pay the bill, or make my bail. Invite someone to be the bride, an abecedarian ingénue, who will serve in my magic act and deign to smile while sawed in half. Please have the guest reception glib, no bathos, angst, nor magniloquence; The bride may light the fuse to shoot the groom from cannon’s mouth to moon. Bring on the blackjack tables and accelerate the carousel; This tradition is perforce litigious and the horse race is ambiguous.

. It's true, I do. It should have been just an hour or so. But I had nothing better to do all day. you cried at noon.

I thought you were joking. I was sitting behind you that day, and you never looked back. But I've just seen your painting of you painting the painting. Might I say You've captured the texture of my empty basket And caught my likeness very well. But you shouldn't have brought me along at all If you knew I'd be as bored as hell. James Osborne

That Apple Baked by wife Left on father's table A short, sharp tart retort

Craig Kurtz

Luigi Coppola


Forest Folk Trees Standing On a ridge Or in a valley Or anywhere with other trees Are in the company of their forest family Are just the same as the lonesome ones in the car parks and the playgrounds but with more friends Are able to hear all the talk of the forest folk. The playground trees get little news. Only what other Trees near the Playground Hear. James Osborne

The Unexamined Life She called everyone at meetings. Quoted Marx, spouted feminism. Made a virtue of reading Socrates. Vegan – natch. Lived simply, preached action not words. 'Re-use and Recycle' embroidered in reclaimed yarn onto her bag for life. And when she died she was cremated and her ashes scattered on the co-owned allotment. Organic – obvs. The new treasurer called an emergency meeting. Seems she’d only been embezzling funds from the local kids’ club. All the neighbours voted to burn her (again) in effigy at a street party. The council, bless, tried to ban it on public safety grounds. But the locals had learned from the master and undaunted they torched her. It’s what she would have wanted. Al McClimens

A MOTHER'S BLESSING Nancy had nine grown daughters, as naughty as they were fair. She knit them matching bloomers with a plea upon each pair: "Should this willful bride incite you to lay her bottom bare, please think it through before you do, and paddle her with care." Lee Todd Lacks

Issue 30 ~ winter 2016


Head Music by Noel King In my daughter’s i-pod a song is heading to its fade. I am watching the road, careful not to miss the correct exit from the roundabout. I am whistling softly. It’s not that we have nothing to say to each other. The first ten or eleven minutes from the airport I was all talk, questions, and she full of replies, long replies, giving me plenty information. She’s slipped the headphones in her ears to relax and sleep a bit, switched off her mobile phone too. I glance at her when I can, the little freckles either side of her nose like my sister had, the chin of my mother and the fair hair of all of my family. Still and all, sometimes I look at her and I see her mother that first day in college nineteen years ago this September. In the silence questions build up in my head: what sort of music is she into this year? When she was twelve last summer she liked Rhianna and Pink, had the clothes to match. This year it’s shorter shirts, a little makeup, black denim jacket. Her suitcase is massive, she’s packed plenty – more than she needs, just like her mother. Her mother should know I’ll spoil our daughter, will take her to TK Maxx and anywhere else she wants, spoil her on my credit card. My partner will treat her too, will do her washing, hoover her room, only accept help with the cooking if it is offered. In return my daughter will help keep the boys amused; her half-brothers aged five and seven. They adore the idea of a big sister. We are stuck behind a cattle lorry so I’ve slowed down. I glance at her, almost a young woman now, her head is bent towards the window, she is sleeping gently, any bit of a jerk could wake her. I want to turn on the sports results but fear disturbing her. Her


Eleanor Bennett

mother doesn’t seem to have disturbed her either – her mind I mean – thank God. Sometimes I dream of her mother, but only in those spring days when we were in love, before we’d even made love. I am ashamed of these dreams, I have a new woman now, a new life. I should be content. Sons are just sons, but a daughter is special. I’m taking the week off from the office to be around her. I won’t push her into a barrage of activity, we will just take things as they come. Last year she enjoyed fishing with me, I bought her waders which are still under

our stairs, but will they still fit her? Will she still want to fish? Will she show an interest in local boys in my town? Will she – God forbid – want to go to a teen disco, will I stay up, doze on the couch, a nervous wreck, until the time comes to drive to collect her? Will she still find her half-brothers cute and amusing. They will be all shy with each other for an hour or two, but after that they will get along like a house on fire. House on fire, that’s what it was like with me and my daughter’s mother. It was as well we broke up. She seems to love her mother though, they appear to have a close bond, she’s allowed some bit of freedom as long as she studies, gets good grades, keeps up the music lessons I pay for. Her mother is partnerless… My daughter wakes with a big sneeze and an apology. “Ah, the pollen this time of year does my head in,” she says, in her soft, posh London accent. It’s a very adult kind of comment, like something her mother would say. “The country air will do you good,” I say, then think what a stupid thing that was to say. “Dad, you’re getting a spot of grey, there, at the temples.” I laugh, shrug. “It only seems like yesterday you were born – BASTARDS” – I shout at a throbbing car of heavy metal music overtaking us. “Sorry, love, these lads shouldn’t be left behind a wheel, did you catch the number plate?” She shakes her head. At the Topaz station I need to take a crap. I am mortified when I come out and she’s waiting to use the convenience too. The smell! Oh God, the smell, I have to just ignore it though. I ask her if she’d like an ice cream. Back in the car we eat 99s, then I drive on. “Do you still play Chess, Dad.” “Yeah, the club meets Tuesdays, but only in the winter.” “Oh, pity, I’d like to have gone this time.” “I thought you found it boring.” “No, I love it now, the strategies and that. Good for the mind. There’s no one much to play with at home, most of my mates won’t waste their brains on it. There was one boy… but his Dad lost his job, so he had to go to Comprehensive school instead.” “That’s a shame.” “Yeah, he can be clever. We keep in touch by email and he’s on Facebook too. Issue 30 ~ winter 2016

We’re trying to figure out a way of playing online, but at school you only get so much Internet time, and at home Mum doesn’t like me to be longer than thirty minutes in front of the screen – at a time, that is.” There is silence, it’s the first time she’s ever said even the slightest critical thing against her mother. I don’t know if she has been warned, or if its instinct. I am happy for now that my daughter likes me, don’t know if she loves me; but she is happy to be here, on this visit. I think she knows I love her. It always breaks my heart when she leaves. I might be able to tell her that someday, that I wish things were different, that I wish she could have been the eldest child of my new relationship, a full sister to the two boys, that she could live with us all the time. But I can't say things like that, can’t say too much, until… well, whatever comes out when she’s older. I see her this summer week, for New Years’, every second Easter and of course any time the company send me to London, even on a stopover, I try to see my child. I never see her mother though, that would not be right. I flip down the sun visor and she spots my CDs in a little slipcase I keep there. “Oh that’s new, what’ve you been listening to?” “Oh the usual stuff, the same bands as ever, I do like Amy Winehouse though, more so since she… since she passed away and that girl... what’s her name, Adele, fine albums those two, reminds me a bit of Dusty Springfield.” “Who?” “Dear God, I’ll play you something later on…” The sun is hotter now, I open my window slightly, she opens hers right down, puts her elbow on the door. I remember her mother in that very position, the wind blowing her hair. She has her mother’s hair. All too soon we arrive at my driveway, and for the next seven days I will share my precious one with my partner, with my sons; maybe late at night we can play chess together. We will listen to music, talk, laugh, shop, eat, drink, watch tv, have fun; but until the return drive to the airport we will not be totally alone together again.


Brothers by

David Olsen

I stand in silence among thousands of round-shouldered brothers – uniform slabs of cream-coloured Portland stone. Ordered ranks stretch all around, as if arrayed for roll call on a parade ground. In cultivated earth at my base, blue flowers state their will to live. Many of us bear no name, just an inscribed cross and

Among those we honour here are the eternal missing: the men lost in no man’s land, found without metal dog tags, or drowned in mud. We give the nameless a lasting presence, aware they cannot be restored, save in the memories of those who come to this place of peace, green grass and standing stones.


Waiting for the Sun to Shine by Jane Seaford The boys were playing football on the beach as if their lives hadn’t changed. Sitting on the edge of the dilapidated deck, Nancy reached for her packet of cigarettes and pulled one out. She lit it, drawing the smoke into her lungs, exhaled and took another deep drag. Wrong. Bad for her health; bad example for her sons. And Rick hated cigarettes. That was part of why she was now up to twenty a day. Nearer thirty if she was honest. Punishing him. Illogical that feeling of revenge as she smoked. Better than crying. ‘Mum,’ Rob, her eight-year-old called out. ‘Alan’s being mean to me.’ He ran up and stood in front of her, angry, pouting, near to tears. Once she’d have laughed and reached for him, called out to Alan to stop teasing his little brother. Rob would have wriggled in her arms and said it wasn’t fair and that she should be crosser with Alan. Now she just took a final pull on her cigarette and stubbed it out in the butt-filled saucer. ‘Mum,’ Rob yelled and stamped his foot. ‘Leave her alone,’ Greg called out. He sounded weary, like an old man. Weary and sad. It wasn’t true that the boys were acting as if their lives hadn’t changed. Since they’d arrived here at this old cottage, a place they had all loved when it had been a holiday house and not their main home, Greg had been moody, often silent and distracted, sometimes bossy with his brothers, as if he felt that he, the eldest at twelve, should be in charge. Alan hardly spoke to her and Rob had huge, weeping, despairing tantrums that left both him and Nancy exhausted. ‘I want my dad,’ he yelled now and ran into the house. Slowly Nancy stood up and followed him. He was curled up on his bed, shaking with sobs. ‘Go away. I hate you,’ he called out when she put her hand on his head. Nancy stood, hopeless, drained, unable to comfort her son, unable to do much at all. She went back outside, Issue 30 ~ winter 2016

sat on the deck, fished another cigarette from the packet and watched Greg and Alan kicking their ball pretending everything was fine. Anger at Rick gripped her. She closed her eyes tight and felt hatred for her husband tensing all her muscles. She tried to relax, telling herself it wasn’t his fault that his business had failed so catastrophically. But in her heart she felt that it was. When she’d met him, he was already making money. Money wasn't something that she had even considered because he was so sure that he would be successful and that he’d always be able to look after her. She


pulled on her cigarette. He should have talked to her about the collapse of his company, instead of doing what he’d done. Nancy banged her fist on the deck and realised she’d knocked the filter tip off her cigarette. It made her even angrier. Five months earlier, Nancy had seen the yellow dress in the window of a small local boutique. She sometimes went in and looked at the clothes, occasionally tried them on, but never bought anything. Everything was so expensive. The dress was sleeveless, tight-waisted, full-skirted, perfect for a young girl, not a woman in her thirties. But. The colour was perfect. She pushed through the door and asked about the dress, nervous, the saleswoman would tell her it was not quite her … style. But no, the woman smiled and asked if she’d like to try it. They had it in different sizes and colours. ‘It’s the yellow. The yellow that I want,’ Nancy said. The saleswoman nodded. ‘Quite,’ she said looking at Nancy. In the changing room Nancy slipped the dress over her head and pulled up the side zip. She stepped out and stood in front of the mirror, feeling the soft cotton against her skin. The dress was perfect. She would wear it for their anniversary, remind Rick of the first time they’d met when he’d stared and stared. The yellow of this dress was the same yellow as the one she’d worn then. That dress had been shorter, a sheath, showing off her twenty-year old body. Now Nancy ran her hands down the skirt and turned to look at herself sideways in the mirror. ‘Yes,’ said the saleswoman. ‘Just right for you.’ ‘How much?’ Nancy asked and held her breath. Recently Rick had been worrying about money. Last week he’d said they needed to budget. ‘But…’ Nancy had said. Even before their marriage, he’d been building up his IT business. He prided himself on producing quality products and, as the company grew, on treating his employees well. They’d bought their beautiful big home when she was pregnant with Rob, and Rick had encouraged her to spend money on the house, on herself.

get better. Still when the saleswoman named the price Nancy winced. The saleswoman noticed. ‘It is a designer dress and the material… so beautiful, so much of it in the full skirt.’ ‘A discount? A small discount?’ Nancy asked, her voice soft, looking down. ‘Well… yes.’ As she left the shop Nancy felt both elated and guilty. Back home she booked a table at their favourite restaurant for their anniversary dinner and arranged a baby sitter. Now, Rob was still howling; the older boys were no longer kicking the ball. Greg was standing by the edge of the sea and Alan was sitting on the beach, running sand though his hand. Nancy looked at her watch. Long past lunch time. She sighed, stood up and went into the kitchen. There were enough eggs for a big omelette and she’d make toast. Later she’d have to shop. When the food was ready she leant out of the window and called Greg and Alan to come and eat. In the boys’ bedroom she sat by Rob and rubbed his back. He had stopped crying but now and again he gave a shuddering sob. Finally he turned and let her hold him. ‘I want my dad,’ he said after she’d lifted him and carried him into the kitchen. ‘Dad doesn’t want us,’ Greg hissed. ‘That’s not true.’ Nancy stared at him. ’Where did you get that idea?’ Greg shrugged. He was hunched over his plate, shovelling food into his mouth. Of all of boys he was the one most affected by Rick’s absence… By his failure and then by his betrayal.

It was the evening of the day when she’d bought the yellow dress. ‘Cancel it,’ Rick said when, as they were getting ready for bed, Nancy told him about the arrangements for their anniversary. ‘But Rick… We always… do something. It’s fifteen years, worth celebrating.’ ‘We can’t afford it.’ ‘One evening. That’s all.’ Nancy thought of the yellow dress in the back of the wardrobe. Hoped Rick wouldn’t check the Visa bill. ‘No buts, Nancy, Things are changing. The ‘I don’t want to go out.’ economy’s changing. I’m making redundancies. ‘Fine. I’ll cook something special instead.’ Taking a cut in salary.’ ‘If you must… I’m going to sleep in the spare This was different. This dress would delight room.’ him. Yellow. For her – for him, too – it was the ‘Rick…’ But he’d gone. Nancy sat down and the colour of love. And the colour of hope and luck and tears came. This would pass, this strange time, she change. All the things she’d felt in those heady told herself. After a while she pulled on her nightdays between meeting Rick and marrying him. dress and crept softly across the landing and went She’d carried yellow roses at their wedding and into the spare room. The bedside light was on and had bought a yellow bikini for their honeymoon. Seeing this dress was a sign. Things were going to Rick was lying on his back, staring up. 36

‘Come back and talk about …what’s bothering you,’ Nancy whispered. ‘I need to be on my own, to… work things out.’ ‘We can do it together.’ ‘No. My business. Leave me alone.’ Nancy considered taking the yellow dress back to the boutique and asking for the return of her money. She imagined the saleswoman looking at her, pity and disdain in her face as she refused. In any case… when he saw her in it, Rick would… melt… come back to her…. tell her he loved her. She couldn’t remember the last time he’d done that. She’d organised the boys early. Fed them and settled them in the snug with DVDs and a big bowl of popcorn. She’d told them that she and Dad were having a special meal and once the DVDs had finished they were to clean their teeth and go to bed. In the kitchen she made sure everything was ready. She laid the dining room table, a vase of yellow roses in the middle, candles on either side, ready to be lit, bubbles in an ice bucket on the sideboard. The best of the cheap fizzy wine, not the champagne she would once have bought. She showered and sat in front of her dressing table, preparing her face and hair. Although it was Saturday Rick had gone to work, ‘You’ll be back for dinner? You know… it’s…’ ‘Yes, yes,’ he’d said. He’d not wished her happy anniversary. He looked at her and she thought he was about to cry. ‘Rick,’ she said, reaching out. He came to her and held her tightly. Just for a moment. Now she looked at her watch and thought about ringing him. But. When she’d done this lately he’d told her to back off. Mostly, though, he didn’t even answer. Nancy pulled the yellow dress over her head, zipped it up and looked in the mirror. It was quite lovely. She put a thin gold necklace around her neck – the one Rick had given her this time last year – and slipped her feet into soft gold shoes. As she was going downstairs she heard her cell ringing. By the time she got to it, it had stopped. Oh. She was trembling. The landline started and she rushed to answer it. ‘Nancy?’ It was one of Rick’s employees. Issue 30 ~ winter 2016

‘Yes?’ ‘You… Rick… They’re taking him to hospital. You should go.’ ‘What’s happened?’ ‘He’s OK. Just…he took a lot of pills. Lucky I came over … I popped in because there was something I needed to check on. He’s OK. He’ll be OK.’ ‘He tried to kill himself?’ Nancy could hear that her voice was high and thin. This could not be happening. This could not be real. She was still wearing the yellow dress as she sat by him: one neighbour had driven her there, another was looking after the boys. Rick’s eyes were closed. There were machines about his bed connected to him by tubes. Finally he stirred, moving his head and looked at her it was as if he couldn’t see her. ‘Rick. It’s me. Nancy.’ He smiled, said something incomprehensible and closed his eyes again. She fell asleep. As if in a dream she heard Rick saying her name. She woke and he was staring at her. ‘Nancy,’ he said over and over. Then he laughed and it didn’t sound right. He sat up and she reached for him. He struggled, trying to push her away. When he vomited she rang the bell for the nurse and sat, covered in his sick, and crying. She cleaned herself up as best she could and when she got home she put the dress in the rubbish bin. The end, she told herself. The end of love and luck, of hope and change. She put on track pants and an old tee-shirt, trembling as she did so, with both anger and misery. Out in the garden she walked as far as she could from the house, opened her mouth and screamed. She thought of when she had first met Rick, both of them from poor families, both of them wanting better lives, and she screamed again. Months later, Nancy watched Greg demolishing his meal as if scared it might disappear. She reached for her cigarettes, wanting to say it wasn’t his Dad’s fault, that he’d had too much stress and had become ill. ‘Ah…’ she started and couldn’t go on. She couldn’t, yet, talk kindly of Rick. She blew out smoke and gazed through the window wondering


when she would feel able to take care of her sons ‘She’s got a big red mouth,’ Alan said. ‘She’s again, take care of herself. gross.’ While Rick was in hospital she had visited him, He could have come back after the business but had not taken the boys, in case their father failure, after the attempt to kill himself. Instead he would scare them. Sometimes he was incoherent, had, not long after leaving hospital, found another other times silent. She was exhausted from trying woman. Julia: the final betrayal. to sort out his finances and, although desperate to ‘Please boys,’ Nancy said. save their home, she was unable to. There was no She couldn’t face clearing away the dishes, money. Worse, there were debts. His company couldn’t face shopping. But she needed cigarettes. was in liquidation. And food. ‘I have failed,’ he said to her one evening. He On Sunday morning, Rick phoned as he’d was sitting by his hospital bed, thin and pale. taken to doing, and spoke to the boys. ‘No. Not you. Just the business,’ Nancy said. ‘Are you coming to see them?’ Nancy asked ‘I am the business.’ His mouth was a tight line, when it was her turn to talk. his eyes hard. ‘Soon.’ ‘That’s not true,’ Nancy said, but thought ‘Right.’ She put the phone down. She maybe it was. The idea confused her. shimmered with anger, went onto the deck and ‘I have needs, too,’ she screamed at him a few opened her mouth in a silent scream. nights later when he refused to talk to her, turning That evening when the boys should have been his head away when he saw her walking towards asleep, Greg crept into the living room. his bed. ‘Mum.’ Greg finished eating. ‘Dad didn’t come home ‘What is it?’ after he was sick,’ he said. ‘He could have.’ ‘They need you. Rob and Alan… They need ‘Yes,’ Nancy said. you to be their mum.’ His voice was hoarse, He ‘So…’ Greg was frowning. turned and went back into the bedroom. ‘So it doesn’t mean he didn’t want us.’ Yes, thought Nancy and wondered if she was Greg stood up, banging his chair, and left the able. After she’d cried for a while she went to bed room, banging the door. and slept the whole night through. Early morning light was shining into her room. Earlier that year, Nancy had tried to understand She stood and went to the window. Today she why Rick didn’t move back into their home after he would try. It might not work but she would try. left hospital. He came to visit once or twice a week, Walking home after the supermarket shopping took the boys out, sat and drank tea with her while she saw a yellow dress in a second-hand clothes they talked quietly about his new job or the sale of shop. She stood and looked at it, then went in, the house. They did not discuss the now defunct tried it on and bought it. It cost next to nothing. Just business nor his suicide attempt and subsequent a dress, she told herself, not a symbol of hope or illness: breakdown the doctors called it. anything else, but when she hung it in her ‘Were will we live?’ Nancy asked. wardrobe she smiled. ‘I thought you were going to move to the She started in the living room, tidying, dusting, holiday home,’ he said, vacuuming. Next the two bedrooms, the hallway, ‘Just for a while… Just until…’ She couldn’t say the bathroom, finally the kitchen. She made green what she wanted to say. tea and took it outside. She sat, looking at the sea. ‘I can’t…’ Rick said. ‘I’m sorry…. I…’ Once she had loved this place. Maybe she could ‘Is our love affair over?’ Nancy was shaking. love it again. She picked up her mug and the Rick shook his head, and then he nodded. ‘It’s packet of cigarettes that had been lying on the gone. The… you… me…’ desk. She tossed the packet into the rubbish, ‘The money’s not important,’ she said. changed her mind and reached for it, changed her ‘Isn’t it?’ he asked, aggressive. Nancy looked mind again and let it drop back into the bin. After down. Maybe he was right. Maybe their she had showered and washed her hair, she pulled relationship had only worked because they were on the cheap yellow dress. wealthy. it was a horrible thought. When the boys came home from school she He patted her hand when she started to cry but was in the kitchen cutting vegetables for a stir-fry left soon after. that was to be part of their evening meal. ‘You look like the sun,’ Rob said, and Nancy Now, months later, Greg came banging back into twirled around and laughed. the kitchen: trembling, angry. ‘He doesn’t want us, Mum. He just wants Julia,’ he shouted. GOLD DUST ‘I don’t like Julia,’ Rob said. 38

Coming home from the hospital by Jane Frank

Fig leaves dark, each shape a polished stone to be passed beneath, river mocking at the street end with its last rays refracted on lead, the talk in other cars deafening, drowning headlines, swallowed in the end by the airless garden, poinciana petals fallen like blood, the Christmas tree a blemish through the doorway, wet sheets moving on the line beside his pyjamas.

Issue 30 ~ winter 2016


Calendar by Yvonne Green In January at we blessed a hundred fruits that counted children a Chinese half dollar was the who heard then sent servants with relatives and friends, who tipped them in their turn, so the festival would sweeten their hands. For we missed school to bake for where in Hebrew, English and for Granny , we’d remember the first exodus, “ ?” we were asked, ,” we would answer, “ ,” “ Dad would begin, as we played at walnuts, on a slanted board, kept the ones that hit the floor, Dad blessed the wine we drank in order, his Wife, his Mum; then age or prominence governed. When our turn came, we kissed his hand, drank and were each blessed. Our ate with while Ashkenazi homes made blintzes. heard with flashlights in the darkened synaSad gogue, set cushions on the floor, wore slippers, to mourn the Temple’s destruction, Rabbi Akiva’s torture. gift baskets of flowers. Houses became gardens where we made with honey, pomegranates, a fish head and wore new clothes. came after headless chickens ran around our yard, we wore white to go to ; our took us to Garden Park, when the day felt too long; “No Dogs and Chinese Allowed”, until we broke our fast on cheese . At the harvest moon shone through our , showed us our place in nature. On our thirty scrolls in gold, ivory, silver, velvet, danced around our (which faced West), with our men in tails tops hats, tuxedos, saying aleph bet backward, while we at candies; and tapped our Grandparents with celery stalks saying “ ”. On Chinese New Year we gave in red evelopes and said, heard the claque of ivories, the snap of firecrackers, saw lion dancers, as a year also governed by the moon, began for our hosts and servants, who shared so much of what made us; respect for ancesters, education, hard work and never judged us ill as punctuated the lives we lived during our sojourn.


Working Hypothesis by Paul Brownsey Of course, I shall do something when I retire, I always said. Something to do with helping others. Something voluntary, in other words. The Help Centre looks as if it needs help itself, just a dingy old shop in a run-down side street, so I’d probably get accepted there. A few people are standing around outside. They're smoking, making worse whatever problems they want help with. Between puffs a skinny man in glasses and a mauve zip-up jacket that looks like a woman's keeps giving cheerful smiles to no-one in particular. He has a dotted line tattooed around his neck with the words CUT HERE. Through the shop window, you see people on hard chairs, like they're in a doctor’s waitingroom with one wall removed for a TV reality show. The waiting-room is always so crowded, they must be short of advisers. Not even Pamela Wishart herself could afford to turn me down. It would be just my luck if she took early retirement and turned up managing this place because she couldn't live without her fix of bossing people around. She'd be strutting about as usual in her black trouser-suit with the trousers straining against the rolls of stomach fat, absolutely cocksure she could manage this place and anywhere else, too. In one of her nagging e-mails she once told everyone at work: Management is an objective skill, so not personally acquainted with skills/actions of staff on the ground is a positive plus point moving forward. She’d be up to her old tricks. There would be Your Self-Assessment Opportunity for every worker every three months: forms to fill in, boxes for ticking, a grilling, a Statement of Aspiration and Intent that she draws up for you. But once every three months wouldn't be enough for her, oh no. There’d be, as well, a Personal Monthly Conference (PMC) to allow her to criticise and jab at you even more in that awful husky 'supportive' voice. "PMC really just stands for Pam's Monthly Chat." Issue 30 ~ winter 2016

She'll laugh roguishly as she adds, "Or Pam's Monthly Crisis!” But things would be different at the Help Centre, for I'd be working without pay. Very, very different. I answer the 'phone in a nice cheery voice: "Help Centre." Ostensibly, she's just watering a dying-looking pot-plant but I feel her cold managing eyes upon me. Afterwards she wobbles across to me on her high heels, her pudgy little mouth doing a token smile. "Dennis, we have an official brand-identifying way of answering the ‘phone." She opens her plastic folder, underscores with an artificial fingernail. "We say, Good morning or Good afternoon, then, Welcome to the People's Help Centre, Dennis speaking, how may I help you " When I was working and I tried to question anything, she'd move her head from side to side in sorrow and put on her we'reall-in-this-together voice and just say, "It's a management decision." I was not paid to think about things like that, she meant. But now I'm not paid. That can alter the habits of a lifetime. I say, "I’m not introducing myself by my Christian name. Forename.” "Dennis, it comes under Values Expressed Towards Clients: Compassion, Respect, Dignity, Friendliness." The fingernail taps each one. "It’s important for clients to feel they have found a friend in their perceived problems.” "I’m not their friend. I’m a well-meaning stranger who is trying to help someone in a pickle. So I'm Mr Begg to them." I wonder whether to ask her, too, to address me as Mr Begg, but in offices these days you are all on first-name terms, except with very senior people, who like to seem friendly but would regard you using their first name as impertinent. They never wonder whether you regard it as impertinent when they do it. "Anyway," I go on, "names at this point are irrelevant and clog up the caller's ears, and so does


Eleanor Bennett

How may I help you? The callers just want to know they’ve got through to the right place, not waste money listening to all that guff." She won't want to back down, not Pamela Wishart, but she won’t want to get too heavy right at the start, especially given the difficulty of getting volunteers. So she pretends to make a joke of it. "Right Bolshie we have here!" She says it as if to an audience, though we are alone, and laughs like someone laughing delightedly. "We’ll sort it out at your PMC, Dennis.” You'll have noticed that she's one of those people who use your forename even when there's noone else around to distinguish you from. At the Help Centre she's even worse than she used to be at work, even more bouncy and domineering. Looser supervision from above, perhaps. Or maybe it's something to do with having got married in the meantime. I've heard she cradlesnatched some management trainee twenty years her junior called Carl Lavery. Probably asked the poor guy if he agreed with the Aims and Objectives of the Work Synergy Seminar, and he dutifully said I do before he realised what was going on. Previously her general bulldozing of everyone around her felt like a sad substitute for a sex life. Now it feels more like a spill-over of lust, her frizzy yellow hair crackling with the energy to dominate. "A tie, Dennis?" she coos, just as I'm about to see a client in one of the consultation rooms. She sounds positively flirtatious. "It's professional, Dennis. It comes under Professional Standards." "I'm not a professional. I'm a volunteer." I laugh like I'm joking. 42

"It gives authority to what you say." I'm about to say I prefer authority to arise from expertise, not a flap of cloth, but then the client comes through and Pamela has to retreat for the moment. Later, when I'm advising on the ‘phone, she’s listening in from another room, doing her Random Monitoring, i.e. she doesn't tell us when she's going to do it. The client, of course, thinks they’re talking to you alone. I tell the client exactly what to do, in the imperative mood: Do this, then do that, then do the other. "Dennis," says Pamela Wishart afterwards, "we offer non-directive advice. We don’t tell people what to do. We lay out the options and leave people to make their choice. It’s all about client autonomy, Dennis. Choice.” When I was working you had to dress up disagreement in mimsy-mamsy ways, pretending you were at fault: I'm sorry, I've probably missed the point, but I can't quite see... Now I just say straight out, "Choice is no good to these people. They’re in a mess and they’ve got into it because of the choices they’ve made. They’re desperate. They want to be told what to do. I tell them." I take in strength from cards of appreciation I've received that just happen to be lying on the desk where she can see them but will pretend not to. The underscoring finger is at it again in her plastic folder. "What does this say, Dennis? Under Mission Statement?" She reads: " ' create a client empowering environment where the client is affirmed as the best judge of their own interests and all information is presented to achieve maximisation of client autonomy and choice.' " I expect she wrote it. Each of the six last words gets a separate tap. "Choice, choice, choice," I reply. I deliberately raise the temperature through an ascending scale of what they call "strong language" on DVD cases. "Blasted Tories and choice. Bloody New Labour and choice. Doesn’t it occur to any of the bastards that what people want is a good local hospital or school, not to have to spend nights trying to choose one without a fucking clue how to decide? Just presenting options to the losers and incompetent wankers we have to deal with here is actually

refusing to accept any cunting responsibility toShe switches to brisk. "I confirm the matter is closed." wards them." She's backed down! Ah, I couldn't talk like that when I was working! I say, "Well, you aren't confirming it, because "I have no alternative but to suspend you with immediate notice!" she cries. She adds, "Dennis." you haven't already told me it would probably be closed, and you can't confirm what hasn't been And then, "It comes under Inappropriate and Abuprovisionally intimated before. Still, thanks." sive Behaviour/Speech in the Workplace." She stumps away on her high heels, then pops So that’s it? My chosen field of voluntary work her head round the door to add, "I think you could closed to me because I won't knuckle under to silly benefit from a wee team-building exercise, Dennis." management dictates and stupid jargon? Am I "Oh no, not that." Involuntarily, I've let the cat even some oik with issues about co-operating with out of the bag and she smiles a wicked smile at other people? Can't I swallow my pride for the sake of the people we're supposed to be helping? having sussed my stomach-sinking horror at the idea. Actually, if I do nothing, she'll climb down. I She gets us all together in the shabby office, mean, it hardly reflects well on her, that she alienamong the piles of papers and box files and folders, ates a willing worker like me, one who gets cards and distributes a glossy brochure from Schiltron of appreciation. Also, I could draw the Governing Teambuild Solutions. She knows she can't force a Board's attention to this bit of her Annual Report: team-building weekend on us volunteers, so she I have instituted a revised iteration record sysdresses it up as a treat, a reward for all our hard tem which potentialises case access under differwork. We are to have fun. There’s to be bridgeent headings, not only by client name, as before, building, canoeing and paint-balling, quizzes and however this was too limiting, but also type of iskaraoke and prizes, luxury pine cabins and threesue, organization/person complained against, if course meals. any, source referred to and result achieved, with Shall I just refuse to go? multi-issue accessing also possible when issues That'll look mean, negative, uncooperative. come under different headings, i.e. addiction isShall I invent an ailing dependant whom I can't sues, debt and homelessness issues in same probleave? lem trajectory, leading to increased acceleration in I won't lie. I'm doing voluntary work, for fuck's client service. sake! Ah, yes, she instituted. Anyway, just getting out of it wouldn't be I had the idea. She said, "Sounds good, Denenough. nis." I did the work. While she talks, I'm ostentatiously studying the But I don’t rely just on all that. Never underesti- brochure. It says that huge increases in mate the malice of a management professional. I 'motivation' and productivity and profits will bless e-mail her as follows: any organization that hires the firm's services. We Dear Pamela, build your team because we build the essential (The modern style would be to begin without bonds of shared motivation, shared enjoyment, the Dear.) shared achievement. It contains photos of smiling I am sorry about this afternoon's incident. people swinging from ropes and (not in the same Could we start afresh? I realise the needs of the photos) sitting all eager-beaver at boring pointless organization and of the people it serves must come meetings. Their smiles say that these are events first and that this requires one sometimes to defer of the deepest personal significance and fulfilment, to others’ judgement and not insist on one’s own precisely what they've been put on earth to do. way. I sense awkwardness around me at my head Yours, being so pointedly down in the brochure. EventualYou'll have noticed that the first sentence isn't ly Pamela Wishart stops her spiel and says, necessarily apologising, because I'll say, "I'm sorry" "Something puzzling you, Dennis?" if you say your father's died. And "one" could refer "I have a problem - " just as much to her as to me, though she won't see "Every problem is an opportunity, Dennis." that. But someone who refused to take my mes"I have a problem about how much this is going sage as an admission that I'm at fault, though it's to cost." I'm putting on a show of naive concern. not actually that, would look small-minded and vin- "Can we really afford it? We don't seem to be able dictive and just plain silly in front of the Governing to afford paint, new computers, first-class stamps, Board. or a new hot water system at the sink." "I got your e-mail, Dennis," she says with delib"It's a Governing Board decision," is all she erate tonelessness meant to keep me wondering, says. In view of what's to come, note that she didn't though as a volunteer what have I got to be anxsay that Schiltron Teambuild Solutions is giving its ious about? Issue 30 ~ winter 2016


I have a mental image of naked frizzy-haired Pamela Wishart driven like Eve out of her managerial Eden by an angel with a fiery sword and facial features rather like mine. But I've sensed the mood of the room turning against me. It's a strange fact that people don't like someone who, no matter how justified, makes a fuss and calls villainy to account. The poor fools are starting to look upon Pamela Wishart as a victim, for fuck's sake, of nasty behaviour by Dennis. So for now, leaving Carl Lavery's name hanging in the air, I just walk out in a dignified way. Later I will inform the Governing Board that Pamela Wishart is channelling the Help Centre's resources to her toy-boy husband and so to herself. "Mr Begg." Outside, the skinny smoker whose neck says CUT HERE lifts a plastic bag up and services free, which she would have done if they down and opens it for me to see inside. I see a big had been. lump of raw meat with no other wrapping. He says, I continue: "What's paint-balling, then? Don't "It's for you. Best point of rump." "I can't quite..." fancy being sploshed by balloons of paint. Too "My deposit," he cries, not looking at me and messy." smiling in various directions. "You got it back for How she laughs, in front of us all. "What you need, Dennis, is to be dragged out of your comfort me." He punches the air. "You're a legend." I remember I wrote a letter for him trying to get a thievzone." ing landlord to repay him his tenancy deposit of That's what all the bastards want, to drag you £300 after he left. I imagine him picking up the out of your comfort zone. "So do you, Pamela, so do you," I say in a tone word "legend" by hanging around on the fringes of groups in pubs. of quiet menace copied from films. It probably doesn't bear asking how honestly She begins to suspect. the meat was come by, but I accept it anyway. I muse aloud: "What these people want to do Gifts from clients come under Standards and Ethis to remould me. Insert new 'motivation' in me. ics. I can just hear her. Rape my psyche. Stick their fingers in my soul As I walk on, I think about the consequences of and fiddle around. You know, this brochure" - I reporting Pamela Wishart's racket to the Governflick its pages - "has the same sort of fascinating ing Board. There are rows and ructions. As manhorribleness as a book I read as a boy. I read it ager she's on a salary, so maybe she could go to time and again, about the horrors of Nazi Germany an industrial tribunal if she's sacked. There could and the Jewish Holocaust - " be prosecution, a trial. You can see the newspa"That's a racist remark. It comes under Diversipers: HELP CENTRE HELPERS HELP THEMty in the Workplace." That she should say this, SELVES TO LUXURY WEEKEND. Supporters and without my forename, shows she's rattled as are alienated, grants withdrawn. The place closes my killer revelation comes closer. down, the waiting-room you see into from the I ignore her. "At the bottom of both there's con- street is empty, there's no-one to get the CUT tempt for human beings." Pause. "The directors HERE man's deposit back for him. of Schiltron Teambuild Solutions look such nice I am not paid not to think about things like that. guys in the photos. You can’t imagine the thought My image of Pamela Wishart's naked expulever crossed their minds that they’re basically rip- sion from Eden is beyond recovery, even when I off merchants seducing hapless organizations into tell myself she can be wearing her high heels. Inwasting money on tiresome nonsense." stead, my hands feel in advance the splintery Note, again, that she doesn't say they're giving roughness of timbers I'm trying to tie together in a their services free. feeble contribution to building a bridge across a I hold out to the other advisers the page with muddy stream, after which Pamela Wishart, inviolathe directors' photos. "Oh yes, grinning in your ble in her black trouser-suit, completes my humiliaopen-necked shirts you look warm-hearted lads tion by dragging me up for a karaoke duet of who'll be the life and soul of the party but also eve- You're the One that I Want. ryone's staunch, caring best friend. That's you, Martin Goff...Colin Whitemoor..." Dramatic pause. GOLD DUST "Carl Lavery." 44

The Color of Raspberries by Daniel David I am roused from a book, An afternoon easy-chair, Inexplicably drawn to a window, To the snow, a lumbering white Impasto scumbled across a canvas Of woods, fields, thickets, To a brilliant, inscrutable hue.

But no, not quite, this light Isn’t Boucher or berries really, Just plucked from warm, summer briar, But the juice at the bottom of the pail After sugar sits on their plump, Rococo bellies a while.

At dusk, an ephemeral light Emerges, perfect in its formation, Illuminating from opposite horizons, The moon, rising from frigid, Atlantic waters and dim cathedrals, The sun, looking toward insignificant, Pacific islands and golden stupas, Nodding to the other across the expanse. There, washed across the landscape, Is the color of raspberries, An unequivocal red-violet – certainly not pink! , In oil pigments, , , Pulled across the palette and blended, A color Boucher or Watteau would Brush into flying cherub flesh.

And still, not quite, (Pardon my obsession to get it right.) This light is the color of raspberry dregs Mixed with sugar and the remains Of fresh, pale, Holstein cream After the fruit is gobbled up. There. {stanza break} In-between, there is only the moon, Moonlight, black, elongated shadows, Bitter purples of elderberry and nightshade. At dawn, an ephemeral light, The color of raspberries, Emerges again, perfect in its formation, A blend of moon and sun, Illuminations from opposite horizons.

Eleanor Bennett

Issue 30 ~ winter 2016


Every issue we receive around two hundred poetry and prose submissions from all over the world


on Israilevich Lipkin, was the Poetry Book Scoiety's ‘Translations Choice’ for Winter in 2011.

David Olsen (Best Poem in this issue, ‘A Silent Messiah’) is a playwright and poet with a BA in chemistry from University of California–Berkeley and an MA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. He was formerly an energy economist, management consultant, and performing arts critic. He has lived in Oxford since 2002. David is a regular contributor to Gold Dust.

Bonnie Macrae is currently living and working in Italy and London with her partner. She studied History of Art at the Barber Institute in Birmingham and went on to work in various commercial art businesses in London. Now 31, she is building her own business with her partner. Bonnie enjoys writing prose and poetry in her spare time. Her poems describe moments in her life that strike or move her.

Al McClimens is a (very) mature student on the MA Creative Writing programme at Sheffield Hallam University. He is currently wrestling with Don Paterson for the crown of sonnet maker to the masses. The Don just doesn't know it yet. When not writing Al has a respectable job which he uses as a front for his covert writing activities.

Daniel David is a writer, artist and professor living along the southern shore of Lake Erie in North America. His poems have appeared widely in a number of venues across the United States, in Canada and the United Kingdom. His publications also include articles in the Journal of Creative Behavior; chapbooks Close to Home and Two Buddha, and his novel, Flying Over Erie.

David J. Lewis is from Pontypridd, South Wales. He has always lived in Wales except for a year in Kenya. He has been a newspaper columnist, written sports stories for the BBC, runs several websites including Publish & Print and has been published in numerous magazines all over the world. In 2007 he set up and launched the Welsh Poetry Competition, aimed at discovering new writing talent in Wales. The contest is now in it’s 10th year. He published his first poetry collection, Layer Cake, in March 2009. He has published eleven books to date, including three successful crime thrillers. For more info. visit his website:

James Bell has published two poetry collections the just vanished place (2008) and fishing for beginners (2010), both from tall-lighthouse. He lives in Brittany where he contributes articles and photography to an English language journal and continues to publish poems nationally and internationally with recent print appearances in Tears In The Fence, Elbow Room, The Journal, Shearsman, The Stony Thursday Book, Under the Radar and Upstairs at Du Roc.

Sonnet Mondal is the founder of The Enchanting Verses Literary Review. He has authored eight books of poetry and has represented India at Struga Poetry Evenings, Macedonia in 2014 & Uskudar International Poetry Festival, Istanbul in 2015. Most recently he has been invited to read at The International Poetry Festival of Granada in 2016.

Jane Frank’s poems have appeared in Australian Poetry Journal, Westerly, Writ, Uneven Floor, Yellow Chair Review, Antiphon, The Lake, Snakeskin, Streetcake, Eunoia Review and elsewhere. Jane teaches in the School of Humanities at Griffith University in south east Queensland, Australia. She has just completed a PhD examining the rise of the global Book Town Movement.

Steve Carter is a writer and jazz guitarist. He taught music and English at Berklee College of Music. His first book of poems, Intermodulations, was recently published by Maat Publishing ( His poetry has appeared in many magazines, including Hanging Loose, Carolina Review, Stand, and Clackamas Literary Review.

Katie Lewington lives in Hertfordshire and is currently studying Maths and English at college. She has previously been published in the online magazine/journal After the pause and will be published in a forthcoming edition of Message in a Bottle poetry magazine. Her work will also be seen on ‘The Casket of Fictional Delights’ website.

Yvonne Green who lives in Hendon and Herzilia was born in London in 1957. Her first collection, Boukhara, won the 2007 Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition. Her second collection, The Assay, won translation funds from Lord Gavron and Celia Atkin and was published in Hebrew by Am Oved as Hanisu Yi. Her third collection, After Semy-

Kathleen M. Quinlan’s full-length collection, Moorings (forthcoming 2016), and pamphlet, From We to I (2015), are published by Cinnamon Press. Her poetry has appeared on both sides of the Atlantic, including in Acumen, Envoi, Gargoyle, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review and Prole. She is currently editing a book, How Higher Education Feels: Commentar-


James Osborne has written six short stories and a few small poems. One of his stories was published in 2015 as part of the anthology Buzzwords with other members of the Harrow Green Community Library Creative Writing Group (available on He also wrote for the student newspaper while at University. He writes mainly in the fantasy Luigi Coppola is a teacher and poet living in London. His poems appear in: Anon, Equinox, Fourteen, genre and lives in East London. The Frogmore Papers, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Iota, Jana M. King is an art teacher with more than 30 Lighten Up, Magma, Orbis, Other Poetry, Pennine years experience and is currently the CoPlatform, Poetry Digest, The Rialto, The Shop and ordinator/Lead Teacher for an Arts Integrated ProSouth. He has a website at gram in Prince George’s County, Maryland’s Public with some of his published poetry. Schools, incorporating the arts into the K-12 curriculum. She is the owner of graphic design company, ‘I Nicholas Rooney was born and grew up in LiverGo Logo’. pool. He read History at Durham University and is deeply interested in all things historical, especially Chinese and ancient history. He is always been pro- Lee Todd Lacks is a mixed-media artist, music foundly interested in poetry and has been particular- therapist and clinical counsellor, whose work tends to be informed by his experience of living with signifly inspired by the work of Emily Dickinson, Philip Larkin and the Roman poet, Catullus. He is current- icant vision and hearing deficits. His writing has been published in Bop Dead City, Tincture Journal, ly studying for a postgraduate law diploma in ManLiquid Imagination, Crack The Spine, and elsechester. where. His poem, ‘Durgin-Park’ won the Bop Dead City Beginnings Contest for Issue 12. Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He's had ninety poems and stories published thus far, and two books. Ed is also a regular contributor to Gold Dust. Steve Smith (Best Story in this issue ‘Flight to Freeies on Poems that Illuminate the Experiences of Teaching and Learning, forthcoming from Sense Publishers in 2016. An American, she teaches at the University of Oxford and is a member of Back Room Poets.


dom’) began writing articles for trade journals twenty years ago, his electronics background and technical knowledge providing most of the source material. Later, as his vocation propelled him around the world, he used any spare time for writing short story fiction and a novel, fusing these technical themes with more humane and existential narratives. This mesh between humanity and science is where most of his writing resides, laced with a vein Jessica Mookherjee is a poet based in Kent. She of drama and mystery. He has a set of short stories has a background in biological anthropology and now out for consideration with magazines to discovhas been recently published in Agenda, The Interer if his kind of writing has any wider appeal. preters House, Prole, The Journal and Antiphon. Steve's work is still taking him around the world but his anchor is living in the vibrancy of Bristol and the Wylie Strout is a California based writer who enjoys cultural aspects of the arts and music found there. art, film, theater and music. She enjoys writing fiction including short stories and film screenplays. Jean Duggleby has lived in Walthamstow since She is a practicing attorney. Other work includes 1989 and has always lived in East/North London, the as yet unproduced feature film With a Child’s except for three years in Hong Kong as a young Heart and the published short story Petunia, Under woman. She has retired from primary school teachThe Sun. ing, a field in which she eventually specialised in teaching deaf children. Her interest in writing short Craig Kurtz has vexed aesthetic circles since the stories began very recently as a result of going 1981 release of The Philosophic Collage. Recent along to a Creative Writing class, initially to make work appears in Aerie Literary Journal, The the tea at break time(!) where she discovered a Criterion: An International Journal in English, Danse passion for writing and became instantly prolific. Macabre, Penumbra, Poetry Quarterly, Red Fez, Jean ‘mines’ her own life experiences for ideas, as The Road Not Taken: A Journal of Formal Poetry, do we all, but would like to point out that her actual TMJ Magazine and Xanadu. plots are highly fictionalised. She likes walking, Danny P. Barbare resides in the southern USA. His poetry has recently appeared in Hartskill Review and The Remembered Arts Journal. He attended Greenville Technical College, and has been writing poetry off and on for 35 years. He lives with his wife, family, and small dog Miley in the Upstate of the Carolinas.

Issue 30 ~ winter 2016


gardening, travel, cinema and is a teacher of circle dancing. Heather Walker writes flash fiction, short stories and poetry. She has been published in a number of magazines as well as online. She was second prize winner in The New Writer Prose & Poetry Competition 2013 (single poem category) and shortlisted for Eyelands 16th International Short Story Competition 2016. She lives on the outskirts of London and is currently tackling a novel. Lindsay Boyd, originally from Melbourne, Australia, is a writer, personal carer and traveller who has rubbed shoulders with marginalised people of all stripes in multiple intentional communities around the world. A globetrotting veteran of more than sixty countries, he has resided for longer periods and / or worked in many of them. Home is wherever he lays his running cap. Noel King was born and lives in Tralee, Co Kerry. In this his 50th year, he has reached his 1000th publication of a poem, haiku or short story in magazines and journals in thirty-eight countries. His poetry collections are published by Salmon: Prophesying the Past, (2010), The Stern Wave (2013) and Sons (2015). He has edited more than fifty books of work by others for Doghouse Books (2003 – 2013) and was poetry editor of Revival Literary Journal (Limerick Writers’ Centre) in 2012/13. A short story collection, The Key Signature & Other Stories, will be published by Liberties Press in 2017. Jane Seaford’s novel Archie’s Daughter was epublished by Really Blue Books (nothing to do with porn) in 2012. It has received excellent reviews. Several of her short stories have been placed, highly commended or short listed in international competitions. Many have appeared in anthologies or magazines. Others have been broadcast on Radio New Zealand. As a freelance journalist she had a column in a magazine called Bonjour and sold pieces to the Guardian, the Independent and other British publications. She is currently publishing a novel called The Insides of Banana Skins and a collection of stories, Dead is Dead and Other Stories. She is the assistant fiction editor for Takahe, a New Zealand literary magazine. Her web-site is:


Paul Brownsey has been a newspaper reporter on a local newspaper and a philosophy lecturer at Glasgow University. He has published over 70 short stories in the UK, Ireland and North America. His first book, His Steadfast Love and Other Stories, was published by Lethe Press, New Jersey, USA, in 2015 and gained a starred review in Publishers Weekly as well as being a finalist in the Lambda Literary Awards.

Features and Reviews Poetry Editor: Adele C. Geraghty Adele claims dual citizenship in the US and UK. 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. She is co-founder, editor and publisher of BTS Books (Between These Shores). Her work has been published in numerous anthologies, magazines and literary journals, and performed on radio in both her countries. Prose Editor: David Gardiner Child of the 1960’s, retired electronic engineer, teacher and other things, living in East London with partner Jean. Gold Dust’s prose editor since its inception. Works in print include: The Rainbow Man and Other Stories and The Other End of the Rainbow (short story collections), Sirat and Engineering Paradise (novels). Many stories in anthologies, magazines & newspapers. Presently turning part of Engineering Paradise into a stage musical as an ‘Open Source Project’: Interests include science, ecology, travel, philosophy, folk music, scuba, cooking, communes and alternative lifetyles. Email: Gold Dust Founder: Omma Velada Omma Velada lives in London with her two children. Her short stories and poems have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She came second in the UK Author’s 2004 Short-Story Competition and was elected writer of the month at EDITRED. She has three published novels, The Mackerby Scandal (UKA Press 2004), Sun, Sea and Pilots (Lulu 2014) and How to Steal a Goat (from a Witch) (Lulu 2014), all available from Amazon.