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Gold Dust

issue 33 summer 2018


49

Gold Dust

issue 33 summer 2018


Twice-yearly magazine of literature & the arts Issue 33 summer 2018

golddustmagazine.co.uk

Guest Editorial Dear Readers, I was given a great honour to write this editorial for Issue 33 of Gold Dust Magazine. This wonderful adventure travelling along with Golden Dust started for me in 2012. I was a sub-tenant in a big city, with my little grey cat. Snow fell outside. The windows were frozen. Me and my cat were lying under a hillside of blankets and imagining that warm ‘golden dust’ was falling over us. I had to leave him outside in the snow. Quite small and trembling. Does it seem cruel? But in my small town to which I had to return, my two sons and a woman were frozen. I had to get a bag of coal for them. Then I realized that what matters in life is story, poetry ... When I came home, I sat down with a computer and sent my drawings to the addresses of several magazines. An email came from the dear people of Gold Dust, who had a wide open heart. Since then, I am a member of their golden team. Omma, David, Dave T and Eleanor accepted me as their associate, colleague and best friend ... Thanks to them all for that. Unfortunately, Dave T got sick, and was replaced as the editor of poetry by our dear Adele, an expert in poetry and graphic design. From the last issue of Gold Dust magazine, our team was joined by four new members: Nansy Grill, Stascia Lyne, Megan Chapman and Abigall Wright, whom we already presented in Issue 32. We give them the warmest welcome to our house of Gold Dust. And as always this issue of our and your magazine brings selected pearls of poetry, short stories, art and graphic design. And let me not forget the end. In the spring my cat came to my door. Just to let me see him. And then he left forever. Life is just a story, a poem ... Slavko Mali Serbia.

Gold Dust Team

Gold Dust Online

Founder: Omma Velada

http://golddustmagazine.co.uk/

Prose Editor & DTP: David Gardiner

YouTube: youtube.com/user/golddustmagazine

Poetry Editor: Adele C Geraghty Photographer: Eleanor L Bennett (all photographs unless otherwise stated)

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/golddust Twitter: https://twitter.com/GoldDustMaga

Illustrations: Slavko Mali Co-Features Editors: Nansy Grill & Stascia Lynne Contributing Artist: Slavko Mali (all drawings unless otherwise stated) Social Media & Marketing: Megan Chapman & Abigail Wright

Issuu: https://issuu.com/golddust Founded 2004 We select solely on merit, regardless of the age, gender, reputation or prior publication history of the writer


Contents

Regulars

Features & Reviews

7 10

My Life With Eva by Alex Barr reviewed by David Gardiner Winners of the Write2-A-Life children’s writing competition organised by Forest Radio & Borough of Waltham Forest

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This Noiseless Dominion by Willian Bitters reviewed by Stascia Lynne

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The White Crucifiction by Michael Dean reviewed by Catherine Edmunds

Short Story Writing 36 On by David Gardiner

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Birds the Shapes and Colours of Leaves reviewed by I.W. Smythe

1 Guest Editorial Important Announcement 45 for Gold Dust Poets 46 About the authors


Short Stories The Architect’s Shoes by Mel Fawcett

4 Uninvited Guest 13 The by Jean Duggleby and the General Now 18 Noman by Jim Meirose Start 22 AbyFresh Lynn Braybrooke Teeth BEST 30 The PROSE by Salvatore Difalco

Poems

8 Less is More In an Offshore Breeze 16 by William Doreski 20

Two Poems by J.D. De Hart Oppositional Defiance by Shirley Jones-Luke

21 26 Wit,Whimsy & Satire Assemblage 28 by Kersten Christianson 28

Reflection by Mark Jermy

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images may be upsetting by Gerard Sarnat

40

The 1% Man by James G. Piatt

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The Lost Poet by James G. Piatt

the Setting Sun 42 Towards by Muhammad Nasrullah Khan BEST POEM

Flash Fiction Recognition by Wayne Dean-Richards

17 24

Two Flash Fiction Pieces by Matthew Twigg

39

Patient No. 2 by Slavko Mali


RT Y O SH TOR S

The Architect's Shoes by Mel Fawcett

Richard balanced the receiver awkwardly in the crook of his neck while hurriedly searching his designs on the computer screen. His hands were shaking. ‘How much longer d’you expect me to hang on?’ Fletcher asked. ‘I won’t be a minute. I just want to see if I can find an easy solution.’ ‘There isn’t one,’ Fletcher said. ‘Anyway, I told you right at the beginning, changes cost money. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve had a hard day. Anything else can be discussed on site tomorrow.’ The line went dead. ‘Bastard,’ Richard muttered as he replaced the receiver. It was gone eight o’clock and dark outside.

needed to unwind before going home; he didn’t want Ellen to see him in such a state. He couldn’t remember being so tightly wound in all his life; even as he entered the near-empty pub, he was having an internal argument with Fletcher. He was telling him that he was tired of being pushed around. He said he wasn’t going to tolerate any more of his bully-boy tactics. He told him who was in charge of the project and... ‘I’m buying,’ said a stranger standing along the bar when Richard had ordered a pint. ‘That’s very kind of you but…' The man banged a handful of coins onto the bar. Richard tried to indicate to the barman to refuse the payment, but he picked up the money and turned his back to put it in the till. ‘All right, thanks,’ Richard said. ‘But I’ve only looked in for a quick one.’ ‘That’s nice. The minute someone buys you a drink, you talk about leaving.’ ‘Well, to be fair, I didn’t ask you to buy me one,’ Richard said, smiling nervously. ‘I’m happy to refund you the money if…' ‘Are you being funny?’ ‘No, of course not. It’s just that…' ‘I reckon you’ve said enough, don’t you?’ Richard shrugged and took a sip of his beer. He would have preferred to have moved away from the bar and sat by himself, but he thought it prudent to wait a while. ‘The name’s Roy,’ the man said, lurching towards him and putting out a huge grubby hand that Richard had to steel myself to take. ‘Nice to meet you. I’m Richard.’ The man’s grip seemed unnecessarily hard. ‘Richard, eh? I bet everyone calls you Dick, don’t they?’ ‘No, they don’t, actually. I prefer Richard.’ ‘Yeah? Well, guess what I’m gonna call you?’ Richard tried to smile. ‘So what d’you do, Dick?’ ‘I’m an architect.’ ‘Is that right? An architect, eh? Can’t say I’ve ever had much time for architects. A lot of prissy little twats most of them, aren’t they?’ ‘If you say so. What do you do?’ ‘Me? I get by.’

He turned to look at the cardboard model of the apartment and felt an urge to put his fist through it. This was only his second commission since going freelance and some of his ideas hadn’t worked out too well. Don Fletcher, the builder, was refusing to make changes without charging an exorbitant amount, and the client was refusing to pay for extras. Richard felt as though he wasn’t standing up for himself enough, but he didn’t know what to do. All he really wanted to do was to go home to Ellen, his wife. It brought tears to his eyes to think how much faith she had in him, how sure she was of his future success, and how she always made him wear a freshly-ironed shirt each morning so that he would impress the important client that she was convinced would walk into his office that very day. Recently, she had even taken to polishing his shoes. He couldn’t help feeling that he was letting her down. He worked for another half-hour – or rather he stared at the computer screen and seethed over Fletcher’s intransigence for another halfhour – before admitting to himself that he was wasting his time. ‘Fuck it!’ he said, shutting down the computer. On leaving his office, Richard crossed the street to the big Victorian pub on the corner. He wasn't much of a drinker – he had only been to the pub once in the three months since he’d been in the neighbourhood – but he Gold Dust

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‘I’m glad to hear it. Well,’ he said, gulping down the beer much faster than he would have liked, ‘it was nice talking to you.’ ‘Eh?’ ‘I told you I was only having a quick one.’ ‘Hang about. Do I have to friggin' well tell you how this works?’ ‘I’m sorry?’ ‘So you friggin' should be. You don’t just drink up and piss off when someone’s bought you a drink.’ The man was almost shouting. Some of the other customers in the pub turned to see what was going on. ‘Who the fuck d’you think you are?’ the man continued. ‘You come in here as though you own the friggin' place, get a free drink, and then try to bugger off!’ ‘All right, all right,’ Richard said, holding up a hand to placate him, ‘as you wish.’ While the man shook his head and mumbled expletives to himself, Richard ordered and paid for another pint. ‘There you go.’ ‘You haven’t got yourself one.’ ‘No, I have got to go.’ ‘What? Wait a minute. Let’s get something straight, should we? When you came in, I was willing to stand here with you so you wouldn’t have to drink alone, wasn’t I? I didn’t start blathering on about having to go, did I?’ ‘I didn’t ask you to join me,’ Richard said. ‘And I did tell you I wasn’t staying.’ The man stared at him for a long moment. ‘Come on, don’t piss about, Dick. You have that one and get me another.’ ‘No, no, that’s for you. I’ve got to go.’ ‘Jesus Christ, you do go on, Dick! You are seriously beginning to piss me off. Where’ve you got to go? What’s so important that you’re in such a friggin' hurry?’ “My wife is waiting for me.’ ‘My wife is waiting for me,’ he mimicked.

The barman sniggered. ‘That’s right,’ Richard said, blushing. ‘And she’s gonna leave you if you’re late, is she? Your wife’s gonna jump in bed with the guy next door, is she?’ ‘No, of course not.’ ‘Exactly! So buy me a friggin' drink. Jesus Christ, Dick, I’ve never known anyone so bloody shy of buying a round.’ Richard felt slightly sick from having drunk his first pint too fast and he didn’t want another. He looked to the barman for support, but he obviously had no intention of getting involved – at least, not on Richard’s behalf. ‘Well, go on,’ Roy said. Richard bought another beer. ‘That’s better. Now drink your drink, Dick, and don’t piss me about any more.’ For the sake of a quiet life, Richard did as he was told. ‘You see, it’s not difficult to be polite, is it,

Dick?’ ‘No, of course not; it isn’t difficult at all.’ Richard blamed Don Fletcher for putting him in this predicament. If Fletcher hadn’t stressed him out he wouldn’t have had to have come into the pub. There again, why did he allow such people to intimidate him? The drunken Roy leaned closer. ‘Don’t look so worried, Dick, I’m not gonna hurt you. When I’ve finished this, I’m off to a boozer down the road that’s got some gor5

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geous strippers. Tits on ‘em like cows at milking time.’ ‘Really? That’s nice.’ ‘Yeah. And to show there’s no hard feelings, I’m gonna take you with me.’ ‘Oh but…' ‘Dick! I’m warning you...be careful. I’ve been very forgiving until now. You don’t wanna piss me off again.’ ‘No, of course not. I’d…I’d love to come with you. It’s just that I have to go for a pee first,’ he said. And as he said it, he realised that that was his escape. He could go to the gents and slip out the other door. ‘You do that, Dick. You do that,’ Roy said, slumping over the bar. Simply by walking away from him, Richard felt better, lighter, less oppressed. He was even able to smile and shake his head at finding himself in such a ridiculous situation. He was thinking that perhaps he’d over-reacted; he was so wound up over work that every little thing seemed threatening. After all, the man was only being friendly in a drunken way. But no sooner was he standing at the long metal trough of the urinal than the door banged open and Roy stumbled in. ‘All right, Dick?’ He came and stood uncomfortably close to him. Richard found it impossible to do anything with him standing there. ‘What’s up, Dick, a bit shy?’ Roy was having no problem; Richard was put in mind of the proverbial cart horse. ‘I don’t like being crowded,’ he said, even though he knew that by talking he was making it more difficult for himself; so difficult that he gave up and zipped his fly. ‘Whassat you say?’ Roy turned to talk to him, and as he did so he urinated over Richard’s shoes. Incensed, Richard shoved him away with both hands causing him to stagger backwards until he hit the tiled wall, at which point he lost his footing and slithered down onto the floor. Richard was shaking with rage. He watched as Roy put a hand on the urinesoaked floor and tried in vain to get up. He felt an urge to kick him – he wanted to hear the crunching sound of breaking ribs as he rammed his shoe into his side; he wanted to inflict pain, to damage this drunken oaf who epitomized everything that he hated and to Gold Dust

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teach all bloody bastard bullies like Don Fletcher a lesson they would never forget. But, of course, he didn’t. He wasn’t a brawler; there was no point in pretending otherwise. No matter how much he wanted to kick someone senseless, it just wasn’t in him to do it. ‘Oh, get out of the way,’ he said, stepping over the prostrate drunk. As he was about to exit the pub, Richard glanced back at the barman and considered shouting some sarcastic remark about how he should go join his favourite customer on the pisshouse floor. But then he stopped. Something prevented him from leaving it like that. He turned and walked back into the men’s lavatory. Roy was still on the floor. Richard looked at him for a moment, wondering how he could be intimidated by such people. ‘Here,’ he said, extending a hand to help him up. ‘Eh? Thanks, Dick. I don’t know what happened there, I couldn’t get up.’ Richard washed and dried his hands. Roy was waiting for him. ‘Come on, Dick. Let’s geranother drink before going to that stripper’s pub I was telling you about.’ Richard walked straight past him. ‘Hey, what’s the matter, Dick? Where’re you going?’ Outside, it was pouring with rain. Richard would normally have run from the shelter of one building to another to avoid getting wet, but now he walked slowly, deliberately stepping in puddles to wash his shoes and enjoying the feel of the rain as it trickled down his face. He didn’t know how he was going to rectify his mistakes on the project, but the thought of dealing with Don Fletcher no longer bothered him. He was sure now that he would cope. By the time he reached the bus-stop, his hair and suit jacket were soaked through, and even his feet were wet, but he didn’t mind he felt better than he had all day.

GOLD DUST


My Life With Eva by Alex Barr - reviewed by David Gardiner

B RE OOK VI EW

Parthian Books 2017 174 pages £8.99 Not Adolf Hitler's intimate diary but a collection of short stories whose unifying theme, in so far as one can be identified, is ‘that tide in the affairs of men that taken at the flood leads on to fortune'. Most of them take the format of an inner monologue in which the protagonist looks back on a moment of decision that, seen in retrospect, determined the course of everything that came after. But while the ‘tide' metaphor suggests something big and unmistakable, often the moment in question is at the time marked by no more than a ripple. My favourite in the collection is the title story, in which the elderly male protagonist looks back on his decision to break off a ‘safe' relationship with a sweet but very conventional small-town girl with whom he felt he could have had a life of pleasant contentment and instead take a chance on a far less certain future with Eva, the ‘free spirit' with whom he has in fact lived a life of adventure and challenge that has allowed all of his potential to blossom. It is a fundamentally celebratory piece, the narrator has nothing to regret, no disappointment about missed opportunities or wasted years or things that might have been. Like most of the stories in the collection it teaches the lesson that all tragedy is at base the tragedy of wasted opportunity and unfulfilled potential. Practically all of Barr's stories begin with extended descriptions of locations, a format seldom recommended and one that can at times test the patience of the reader, but its function here is to establish the atmosphere of the piece and the setting from which the narrator surveys his or her life in the rear-view mirror. The stories are mostly heartfelt confessions delivered in a mood of tranquillity and contemplation. You will be disappointed if you want car chases, explosions or alien abductions. These are in fact stories for thoughtful grown-ups, from a writer whose previous published prose was aimed entirely at a childhood audience. It took me a little time to ‘tune in' to Barr’s style, but when I did I found the offerings richly

rewarding and often worthy of a second reading to extract all of their juices. In the last few stories, where he tries to be more experimental, his writing in my opinion becomes less sure-footed. There is a fantasy about God encouraging Adam to find names for things in the Garden of Eden whose point frankly eludes me, and a tongue-in-cheek variation on the old notion of monkeys rewriting the works of Shakespeare by entirely random strokes on keyboards, which again falls far short of similar spoof science fiction by the likes of Douglas Adams and Robert Sheckley. There are I think only two examples in which Barr takes the role of omniscient author and writes in the third person. The Fan concerns the aftermath of an affair between a minor composer and and a theatre costume designer, and in my opinion stands in need of an edit for length and is less involving than his first-person narratives. Another, in which he writes in the voice of an unconvincingly knowing child didn’t appeal to me a great deal either. But while Barr remains within his comfort zone as a writer his stories can stand comparison with the absolute best.

GOLD DUST

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So Long, Baby by Phil Huffy An author wrote a poem but apparently could not contain the excess number of the verses she had jot It comprised a dozen pages, there was nothing left to say Any editor who reads it will find much to snip away

The Night of February 12th by Gianna Sannipoli You allow my tears to swim along your chest in a hotel room with heavy air where I replace the ghost of an unforgotten woman you cannot feel in me. Outside, the river’s moving slower than us. I can hear it as you breathe in your providence, brazen vehemence into the night. I was a new chance waiting to be taken

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The Waiting Area by Alyssa Trivett They say his name, Tony. He casually steps up, like a call for his last at-bat, before retiring; only it turns into America's Funniest Home Videos, he circus tumbles over his own oversized shoes, and heckles himself under his breath, flails his arms and continues on. As we all should.

In Retreat by Phil Huffy She spent three weeks in parts unknown and found herself there, quite alone

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’S EN R G ILD IN CH RIT W

Children’s Work winners of the Write2-A-Life competition

Winning entries in the Write2-A-Life children’s writing competition organised by Forest Radio & the London Borough of Waltham Forest for which I was asked to serve as a judge. D.G.

Sixpence by Louise Bygrave

age 14

‘Where’s Mummy and Daddy?’ she wailed. The giant ruby engine pulled out of the countryside station and we began the journey My eyes scanned the crowds but I didn’t see them either. Parents and children slowly back home. The train was filled with chatter, dispersed, as did the train. As they did, they everyone excited to see their parents once revealed the black ‘Liverpool Street’ which was again. Soon, the quaint little terminal had emblazoned on white. Soon, the only person completely disappeared from view and the left, apart from us, was Mrs Wilkie. beautiful fields ran away from us. As I stared I walked up to her, and I told her about our out of the mud-spattered window, a train of parents. ‘Heidi, come join us over here for a happy thoughts drove around my brain in a second please,’ she called over to my younger whirlwind. sister. She obeyed, and ‘Yay! We’re going her little Mary Jane home! We’re going scuttled along the home!’ My seven year concrete towards me. ‘It old sister Heidi was looks as though your kicking her legs against parents aren’t coming to the underneath of the collect you. Until we find seat like a hyperactive them you can stay with baby. The journey was me.’ At this news I felt long and tedious, and Heidi cling on to me like a every so often, Mrs limpet. Wilkie, the teacher who ‘Hey, Heidi, how went down with us, about we go into the café. would check how we I have sixpence for iced were. buns.’ Immediately, and When the train was a couple of minutes away from the London almost like magic, her face brightened. We station, I heard a resounding BOOM. The walked down the platform to the little station unmistakeable sound of a bomb. I jumped in café. As we stepped inside, the little bell tinkled shock, I thought the Blitz was over. I tried not to merrily over head. Heidi and Mrs Wilkie took a think about the fact that that’s at least one life seat and I walked to the counter to order the buns. Despite the half-dozen diners, the café lost. ‘Joyce! We’re home again!’ Heidi was was in complete silence. I walked over to the jumping up and down in her seat. The train table, bearing the delicacies in my hands. We pulled in and the doors opened simultaneously. all ate hungrily. In no time at all, jam and glacé I helped Heidi down. She grabbed my hand and icing had surrounded Heidi’s little pink lips. All of a sudden, I had a brainwave. ‘Mrs dragged me forward. We peered around Wilkie! Did you hear the bomb noise when we expectantly like meerkats. I didn’t see our mother and father anywhere, were on the train?’ I saw the realisation smack which was strange. In their last letter to me they her in the face and she stood up in a flash. She had promised to be here. I wasn’t exactly glanced at Heidi and we met in the middle. How surprised when I heard a muffled sob. I turned were we going to tell her? ‘Can we go home Joyce? Please, I want to abruptly and saw silver tears rolling down see Mummy!’ That was my cue. I nodded at Mrs Heidi’s round, rosy face. Wilkie, and she took charge.

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‘Ok, let’s go dear.’ Mrs Wilkie and I stood up, and I wiped the crumbs from Heidi’s face. I grabbed her hand and we strode along the London roads, my head in a panic. My brown coat was done up tightly but I soon shook it off. My case was getting increasingly heavier, and sweat was soaking through my curly brown hair. I felt an arm run round my shoulders and it steered me to the left. When I next looked up I gasped in shock and both Heidi and I burst into a chorus of tears. My previous abode was shrouded in a misty curtain of misery. Rubble and dust was strewn everywhere. ‘Joyce! Joyce!’ Heidi yelled through thick tears. She was pointing at a hand in the rubble. A smooth, freckled hand that bore a familiar ring. My mother’s hand. Suddenly, there was a big rush of debris and a dirtier version of our father stumbled out. ‘Dad!’ we both ran towards him and he wrapped his arms around us. I momentarily remembered Mrs Wilkie, but when I turned my head, she had gone. ‘Mummy!’ Heidi screamed shrilly. She made to go forward but father pushed her back. ‘Honey, leave her in peace, yeah?’ father whispered comfortingly in her ear. I was gazing around at the devastation on the side of the road when something shining caught my eye. I looked down and I saw, in

complete contrast to the dusty pavement, a small, silver sixpence. ‘Hey, girls, what should we do now? I know you’ve got your cases, but I don’t have anything left.’ Father was speaking to us, but my brain was going fuzzy. I just couldn’t comprehend the fact that Mother was gone, and that I would no longer give her a hug, or hear her voice. ‘Wait, Daddy, isn’t that your wallet? And Mother’s purse?’ I knelt down on the road and handed them to Father. We walked to the telephone box to call about our house. I gave Father a silver coin, and Heidi and I waited outside. She put her head on my shoulder, and we stood in silence. A few seconds later the door to the box opened again and Father re-joined us. ‘They said just to leave it. Some builders are going to come to see what they can do. They said for now to go back to the countryside. They’ll contact us there.’ Five minutes later, Father, Heidi and I were standing on the platform waiting for the next train. It drew in, and as I stepped on, I looked up to the sky. ‘I love you Mother,’ the sun kissed my cheek and I felt her perfume tickle my nose. At that moment, I knew she would always be there.

Courage by Keira Summersgill

age 12

“Courage is being yourself In a world that tells you to be someone else” We’re here, we’re queer and we wanna shout In a society that might hurt us if we come out. Some of us are lucky – we can make it every day Just being ourselves and knowing that’s okay Still, there are others living constantly in fear If they let on who they are, they’ll lose all they hold dear You’ve got some privileges with you being straight The least we’re asking of you is that you don’t hate Because too many people have lost their voice Being bullied for something that isn’t their choice.

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Invisible Children by by Ayjan Jorayeva

age 14

We ‘children’ are invisible Our voices go unheard Our objections and declarations get brushed away with excuses of ‘too young’ This is what democracy has come to: Orange skin men high up in their towers Enforcing rules that encourage hate Women and men filing into the ballot station because of those ‘pesky foreigners’ Brexit, Trump, both words we hear on a daily basis, words that define Our future. This is what hate is: Riots in the streets for basic rights and silent crimes that Go unnoticed, unheard But willing deaf ears. Women and girls shouted at in the street For covering their faces and hair. People denied the right to identify Themselves Even though it should be their choice. Our choice. I’m no longer a child You would not believe what I could tell you about these ‘children’ Where those scars on their wrists came from, and how they cry Where you can’t see. How that girl next door who sits next to me tells her friends not to walk home alone at night, Not to go near large groups because she knows. She knows. You see, the fact of the matter is We are the ones who will pay for your mistakes (And oh, what mistakes you have made) We are the ones to inherit this earth, Once so pure and now riddled with disease and destruction, That your generation has shaped, made. You thrust this weight upon our shoulders and Tell us that we do not have a say In what happens next. We children are not as young as you think. We know more than you would expect. And yet we are invisible to you all.

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The Uninvited Guest by Jean Duggleby

SH ST ORT OR Y

tio is at the far end of my garden and so is theirs with a bit of broken trellis above a low fence so it’s easy to see each other. I was sitting on my patio and they were having a barbeque with some friends so kindly invited me in. They were having a lot of fun joking about but I didn't really get some of the jokes. I laughed and pretended that I did. They also used some long words and talked about people that I'd never heard of. They must be studying literature, or philosophy or that sort of thing. I never did very well in exams so never went to University. My brother and sister did and used to tease me. Thursday, June 7th They passed their eleven plus but I didn't. I made a good start this morning. An old lady a few doors along couldn't start her car because the Tuesday, June 12th handbrake was on too tight so I helped her. We I popped along to the old couple's house today had a good chat and I told her about myself. Old to borrow a gardening book. I knocked on the door people are often lonely so I can befriend her and and rang the bell but they didn't answer. I thought I keep her company sometimes. I expect she'd like could hear some movement in the house but maysome visits. be it was a dog or cat. Or maybe they're deaf. I saw the old man working in the front garden Saturday, June 9th later that day. It's so nice as they have a little I saw the old lady go into her house this mornbench there so I sat next to him and we had a long ing so I quickly bought a cake from the Pound Shop and took it along and suggested that we eat chat. It’s more than a bench really as it has a back it with a cup of tea. She invited me in and we sat in and they put cushions on it. I told him all about mythe garden. She has a beautiful garden and knows self. His name is Terry and his wife is Kathleen and they don't have any children. I joked that I could be a lot about plants. I said that my new garden is a their adopted daughter and he laughed. I started mess and I would like her advice some time and she said that she loves to talk about gardening and telling him about how horrible they were to me in my old job, then Kathleen came out and said there has lots of books that I could borrow. A man walked in who apparently was her hus- was a phone call for him. I asked why didn't she join me on the bench and have a chat but she said band. I was surprised as I'd somehow imagined that she was in the middle of cleaning the kitchen that she lived on her own. He looked very upright cupboards. I offered to help but she said no. Some and strong and though he's retired still does little old people like to be very independent. I asked Terjobs as a handyman. I said that there were plenty ry when he could come round and do some of my of jobs that her husband could do in my house. I jobs and I’d pay him. He said that he’d let me know. wanted to change the cupboard door knobs and I forgot to get the gardening book so I could get rid of the cat flap and put some tiles around the have popped back tomorrow, but they put it sink and... He said "Hold, on. Hold on. One thing through my letter box. Wasn't that kind? at a time. I'll fit you in when I can." But it's good to know that there's someone to call on if I have a problem. I stayed a couple of hours and they said Sunday, June 17th that it was time for their lunch. I thought they could The students were all sunning themselves in have invited me as I'd given them a cake but they their garden, but as I already said we can see each didn't. other and talk really easily, so I told them all about I stayed a little bit longer telling them how horri- my last street and how unfriendly everyone was ble they'd been to me at my last job but they said and how nice it was here, what with their barbecue, that they had to go out straight after lunch and and Kathleen and Terry. I told them all about the maybe it was time for me to go home – I can take horrible things that people did to me in the last a hint so I left. street, throwing litter in my garden, and the next door children making a noise and letting their balls Sunday, June 10th and shuttlecocks come into my garden. I never I've met my next door neighbours. They are a gave them back – that taught them a lesson. And house of students, two boys and two girls. My pa- the cats would mess up my garden, and the people Monday, June 4th Dear Dairy I've moved to this street because I've heard that it's very friendly. Mind you, they said that about my last street and it wasn't true. I'm also starting a new job. They picked on me in the last one, didn't invite me to the pub on Friday nights. They were very cliquey. Anyway, now it's a fresh start, the sun's shining and I have a nice little flat.

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on the other side didn't look after their garden at all and let the bindweed grow into mine. They said how interesting that was but they would have to go indoors to study so I invited them to dinner and we decided on Wednesday and a good time would be 7.30 pm. I forgot to ask them what they eat, as students are often vegetarian, so I decided on a vegetable and potato pie with cheese topping and then a lovely sherry trifle. I got all sorts of lovely and unusual vegetables from the market. Tuesday, June 19th I saw the young man and reminded him about the meal and he said that he was looking forward to it. I prepared the vegetables and made the trifle so there won’t be much to do tomorrow. Wednesday, June 20th He knocked on the door and said that there was a visiting professor and a very important lecture was scheduled for that evening and it would look very bad if they missed it, so sorry but could they come another day. I said no trouble, I'll invite someone else, and when would they like to come, so he said that they'd let me know. I asked if they were vegetarian and he said that they all eat anything, so that's good. I can make a nice lamb and apricot casserole – they'll love that. I popped along to Terry and Kathleen to tell them what had happened and would they like to join me for dinner. Luckily they were free and we had a lovely evening. They asked me about boyfriends and I said that I was between boyfriends at present. I had to admit that, though I'd had plenty of dates (I'd used the internet though I didn't tell them that) nothing seemed to last long. Maybe I was too fussy but the men always talked about themselves. They said that they were sure that Mr. Right was just around the corner. We had a lovely, lovely evening and Terry promised to come and do some of my little jobs soon. They had to leave quite early as they had to feed the cats belonging to the lady who lives at number 33. Wednesday, June 27th I saw the lady at number 33 and we talked about her cats. She lives alone like me but has 7 cats. They phone from the refuge and when they ask her to take another one she can’t bring herself to say no. I said that I could feed them if she was away and she asked if I was a cat lover. I’m not actually, but couldn’t really say no, so she asked me in for a cup of tea and to meet the cats. It’s all a bit smelly and my black skirt got covered in white hairs but apart from that we got on fine. I call her the ‘cat lady’ in my head.

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She’s going away next weekend, as it happens, so instructed me about what to do and gave me her door key. I must say that I didn’t fancy cleaning out their litter trays but that’s what friendship is all about. Friday, July 27th The students finally gave me a date when they were free but as it was the holidays they said that it might not be all of them. I made that lovely stew and though I say it myself it smelt and tasted delicious. It was lamb and apricot, as I love the combination of meat and fruit. I made a lovely pudding too with raspberries, cream, sherry and almond nuts. I gave the flat a good clean and made some new cushion covers. As it turned out only one of them came. His name is Malcolm and he's quite good looking. He brought some vodka and orange cordial to mix with it. I must say that I'm not much of a drinker and you can't really taste vodka much so can't tell how much you're drinking. I started confiding in him and saying how much I wanted a boyfriend and how all my school chums were married with kids by now. He said that I was very attractive and I said that I was too fat. When we’d finished the meal and were drinking coffee, he came and stood at the back of my chair and started to massage my neck and shoulders. It was really nice, and then suddenly he shot his hand inside my bra and started pummelling my breasts. I screamed ‘Stop it.’ And he said, ‘Come on, you’re a grown woman.’ ‘What are you doing?’ I said and pushed him away. It was horrible. He just shouted at me, "You’ve been coming on to me all evening. No wonder you haven't got a boyfriend," and left. Saturday, July 28th I’ve been feeling pretty fed up about last night. I suppose that I’d drunk too much and I’m not used to it. Also there’s a load of the stew left, so I thought that I’d go and ask the ‘cat lady’ if she wanted to come for dinner and she did. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise that she’s a vegetarian, in fact, a vegan. She says that as an animal lover she couldn’t possibly be anything else. I didn’t know what to do so she ended up with Ryvita and marmite. She couldn’t eat the pudding either as it had cream in it and also didn’t drink alcohol. Luckily I had some raspberries left over so she ate them. Anyway, she said that it was a nice evening and I’d have to have a meal with her some time. Sunday, July 15th I haven’t dared go into my garden since the Malcolm incident but I thought, what the heck? It wasn’t my fault. In fact, he should be the one to be

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embarrassed. I hoped that he hadn't told the others. I could hear them all laughing at the end of the garden and it was a beautiful sunny day so I didn’t want to be cooped up indoors any more. I put on a nice cotton dress and went to the end of my garden with a parasol, a book and a cool drink ready to just be normal. When I got there they’d put something up where the gap in the trellis used to be. They were tall and thick; some sort of bamboo I think, so I couldn’t see them at all, but at least they couldn’t see me. I settled down with my book but couldn’t really concentrate for all the noise they were making. Later that afternoon I was feeling a bit lonely so I thought I’d pop along to the ‘cat lady.’ I couldn’t get an answer and thought that maybe she might be ill, so let myself in with the key she'd given me. I couldn’t see her anywhere, so as it was still warm I thought that she might be in the garden. She was, but she was sunbathing in the nude. I was so embarrassed and kept apologising. She was annoyed too, but apparently it wasn’t about me seeing her nude but about me letting myself in uninvited. She said that she wanted her key back.

Sunday, Sep. 23rd I walked past Terry and Kathleen’s house again and saw Terry sitting on a plastic chair. I asked him what had happened to the bench and he said that they always put it away for the winter. I wouldn’t really call it winter yet. Saturday, December 1st I can’t believe that I’ve been here for 6 months already. I must say that I’m a bit disappointed, as everyone had told me what a friendly street it was. Anyway, people are putting up their decorations and lights. Some are decorating their front gardens too. It looks really pretty. Some are even displaying the cards on the shelves. I must get some cards to send to people. Tuesday, December 25th I walked around looking in people’s windows. Of course some were dark, as I suppose they’d gone away. You could see others playing games and eating, children with presents, and people in new clothes. I got 5 cards and one was from my M.P. and one from the Building Society. I wonder if the tube runs on Boxing Day.

Sunday, Sep. 9th I was passing Terry and Kathleen’s house and they were sitting on their bench having a cup of tea. It’s so nice, as they get the morning sun there and can talk to people as they pass by. There was just enough room for me too so I squeezed in and we had a nice long chat.

Guardian – all your local news. January 3rd On December 26th a young woman was seen to jump in front of an underground train. The body hasn’t been identified yet and the police said that no-one answering her description has been reported missing. The driver is being treated for shock.

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In an Offshore Breeze by William Doreski When we eloped into dark the color of your birthday we hadn’t considered the rasp of green tree frogs relevant, hadn’t braced ourselves against the groans of ancestral graveyards several continents away. Fireflies still amazed us. My work at the tire store still amused me. Dogs smothered us with kisses. And when you opened a salon catering to women planning to go extinct, your fortune swelled like the public ego.

takes revenge and devours you. To earn a living in your absence without snuffing myself in grief I sift the longish afternoons of April with both hands steady despite the growth in the drain— that feathery mold unfolding volumes and volumes of backlash. I sift the finest particles and fill glass vials to peddle to those who believe that light is matter weighted and flavored to ingest and pickle our innards and snuff forever the cramping and nausea mistaken for love.

Now burdened with piles of books, your psyche blistered by smog and religion boiling your brain, you reject the history we brokered, and shop so aggressively in such upscale markets your food

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Recognition by Wayne Dean-Richards

F FI LAS CT H IO N

The story came from watching Imagine: Alice Neel: Dr Jekyll and Mrs Hyde, a programme detailing the life and work of the American painter, directed by her grandson. Neel was estranged from her second daughter, Isabetta born 1928. They saw each other only three times after 1930, Neel painting a naked portrait of her on one occasion. Isabetta committed suicide in 1982, two years before the death of her mother. “Alice Neel!” when the lights dim she steps into I’m first to arrive; sit at the front and observe the spotlight with practiced ease and I study carefully without seeming to, am sure I’d feel the theatre fill even if my eyes were shut tight, her shadow then her voice, can tell she’s feel my gut clench and tell myself to, “Hold on, excited despite that her words slip past me like strangers. Isabetta!” As she shows what the Guggenheim called Introduced by a renowned professor, ‘glorious depictions of humanity’ I wonder if she’s selected the childhood portrait of me and if she has what she’ll say about it. What am I to make of that she doesn’t show me to me? Breathing heavily to the accompaniment of slides clicking by and her excited voice I shouldn’t resent her happiness but do, each second an hour, each minute a day until, shockingly, it’s over: no more slides, no more talk, only sustained applause from all but one. When the lights are raised the audience returns to lives lived, leaving behind her only daughter, still, as if for a new portrait. The professor’s speaking to her and smiling and she’s nodding and smiling back at him. I want the happiness that sprouts from his approbation, wonder if I burst from my seat and took to the stage I could wrench it from her and hold it tightly, precious, in my hand. An act of will brings me to my feet, this singular movement what catches her eye. It’s been years, but surely she can’t evade the accusing glare of her own younger features. I’m about to speak when, with no hint of recognition, her eyes lift and, with the professor at her side, she steps out of my life once again. Silence descends and questions circle like buzzards as I whisper, “Let go...” and tightly close my eyes. ‘Isabetta’ by Alice Neel (second version,1935)

GOLD Michael DUST Ralph

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RT Y O SH TOR S

Noman and the General Now by Jim Meirose

As in anything you do in life, you need to check things before you do them. You need to check there’s a gangplank present when you step off of a dock. You need to check no cars are coming before you cross the street, and you know, by the way, Noman learned that the hard way as a boy walking the sidewalk up the hill after school, idly bouncing a little ball, thinking to the blue sky of everything in the world besides where he was, but; the ball abruptly bounced weirdly off a sidewalk crack and shot into the road. Noman dashed into the road without looking and grabbed it, but stumbled and fell on his big ass in the road, skinning both knees raw but more importantly here came a big black Dodge to nail him, but; it stopped dead slapping the big wide chrome plated word Dodge right in his face and on back into his mind for all forever as something you should do to get out of the way of any evil event ever rushing up to kill him, forever; something about it kind of tattooed it someplace inside his pitchblack skullcap to ensure that he would never forget. He got Dodge in his mind forever, as in Dodge! Dodge! Dodge, and plus it being a special Dodge that would be a valuable collectible classic today, but—way back today, urp, Noman was grown into a quite tall man, and a much larger soldier. He stood dressed smartly in the pouring sun, with his cap pertly tipped and his trousers creased, one of a mass of clean-washed dressed-up military men on parade way back now, in his military costume with his military weapon empty of bullets and thus, harmless, held straight in a vast expanse of straighter weapons held higher still, and the sun was up in its proper compartment, and the great single-star general-man in size great baggy pants came toward him one man at a time down the formed up line, to inspect each soldier’s hygiene and more. The general came at last before Noman, took his weapon, and spun it as a propeller in his spindly liver-spotted hands, then thrust it back to Noman. Know not Dodge hidden way back when, Noman. Yes, now, the thing is this nearly senile silly and sloppy here-and-now man of a general. Soldier, your uniform’s a little ragged. When was this jacket issued to you, soldier? Gold Dust

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Sir! A while back, sir! I don’t know how to measure when exactly, sir! Maybe not yet, maybe years from now, or maybe way back in the past, sir! You know, like yesterday, last week, or years ago, from now—maybe even not yet really at all! Sir! From really at all, what! barked the general. From really at all, sir! spat Noman. You mean, from the now, when the bowling alley is just a plan on the drawing board? What bowling alley are you referring to, sir! The one you’re headed toward. Where your personal Dodge awaits. Personal Dodge, sir? Yes. Personal Dodge. As in with tits and ass. Are you afraid of tits and ass, soldier? No sir! You have tits and ass, soldier! What are the possible other parts you may fear? Any that you or I might have, soldier? Any that you or I might have? No, sir! Nothing you and I might have! All right soldier! But remember; the bowling alley is just part of some spark in some architect’s head, and part in some architect’s pen, and part on some architect’s paper. And that is just, first draft! Many years will come and go until once more, the moment of truth slams down! So, you see son. You’ve years yet to worry, son. So, come on, get loose. Loosen up. Slack off a little, you know? Have a mushroom or two. After all, it’s nearly the sixties. Yes, sir! Now, you know, soldier—your uniform must be perfect! So, let’s see— Several days passed, until at last the General stuck his face in Noman’s again. What are you afraid of soldier? Noman woke, blinked his eyes, and said, Nothing, sir! No tits and ass? No, sir! Good! Next, your boots must be properly polished—here, let me see— The General stooped. Days passed. Day/Night/Day/Night cycles passed about him. The rest of the men undressed, got onto sleeping bags, slept, got out of the sleeping bags, dressed, and like that around and around and 18


with your face. And no male anatomy bulging inappropriately against the cloth, to spoil the effect, if you know what I mean! Let me look! The General’s blind hand looked, as Noman thought; days, yes, I know there will be days—days like this, yes, days— It is not flawless, soldier! It is not! Why is it not? I-I don’t know, sir! Buck up, soldier! Sociological research has shown that standing tall and looking confident, even if you are not confident, is a good way to become confident. Did you know that truth, son? No sir! I did not know that! Oh no? Really. Then I guess you were not listening in class! So, how many other great truths you should know by now, have you let fall in the passing dirt beneath but a second, then gone? So, I suppose you don’t know either, that by behaving like a soldier, you affirm your self-identity that you are a soldier, and will therefore act like one. Do you not remember that? Noman tried to speak, but it came back off his tight lips and made a silent burp, mixed with the taste of bile— sick feeling yes sick, must chew ten Rolaids, then chug a large water kind of sick, yes that kind that will just sicken and sicken and sicken, but into his face was barked and re-barked and barked again more and more sickening every single time— Do you not remember that either, soldier? Do you not? Do you, do you not soldier—Do you not remember? Where are your eyes! Dare not close your eyes to me when I am speaking! The word speaking came in Noman’s ears Good—next there have to be no loose threads, dirt, marks, ruffles or abnormalities on and said speak, yes, go—try and see what happens, and he did—but just bile surged in a any of your kit, or on your body that’s all hidwave followed by a hotter thicker multicolored den because it’s improper to be nude! There substance mixed in morass of large and small has to be a straight vertical line from the midfragments no spoken words none at all not a dle of your heels, up to your trouser zip and button, through your shirt buttons and aligned one and it came up in Noman and do you over and under and here and then and day after day after—all for one pair of boots one pair—of fucking boots! You know, I; never mind. Continue. The General’s face came up out forward out of the boiling blue of Noman’s dark uniform. I heard that, soldier! I heard that! What are you afraid of? Noman woke, blinked his eyes, and said, Nothing, sir! No tits and ass? No, sir! Good! Now, all your creases have to be perfectly sharp! Here let me look— Again, Noman stood still, did not age, did not dare speak, for nearly ten days. The General’s head bobbed up. Again, he asked the question, and Noman said, Nothing sir!

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know soldier so you not sailor do you know marine do you not either what the fuck, what the fuck, as a full hose of filth came flooding straight at the chest of the General—the floodgush shouting Dodge all Dodge—driving him back like fire hoses do demonstrators hurling rocks after dark with fires burning in steel drums that bums stand all around as the cold settles and the snow falls, and flying gas missiles shot from the police deep inside Noman fighting off scores of enemies; these enemies stood in the guise of this old General, stricken back multicolored with vomit, of every possible kind and size and stench of chunk mixed in colors all mixed up in dense liquid, and he fell back, his silly little one star helmet blown off and back, down out full length, the back of his skull shattering on impact with the concrete of the parade-ground, on which no expense was spared to construct to remain hard as granite for all eternity. Arms gripped Noman, as his knees buckled—the stress and strain of the months of training and struggling and straining and striving to be the perfect soldier had slowly been building a large hairy blister of gross resentment in him as the fetus of a devil grows, is stressed and stressed some more, until this at last happens, meaning many things; Dodge; that Noman should never have been a soldier;

Dodge Dodge; that the aged General should have retired when he got his first sad consolation star, too late to ever get enough done before being senile to ever possibly get another; and this was the start of Noman’s last story. The Army spat him out dishonorably the very next day. Dodge. As he was driven to the gates of the Garrison at twilight, under heavily armed guard, wearing only the ill-fitting clothing he had worn down to the recruitment station seven years ago, and only having the three crumpled dollar bills that had been in the pocket of the baggy black pants from the day he entered the Army base to the day they forced him drugged and screaming back into the pants to kick him the fuck out for killing the General with the world’s largest gushing puke one man had ever shot-gunned out any kind of maw, Dodge or no Dodge and no ball bouncing away no not any more, clearing the way empty for the memory to smartly step him back into his present-day job in this great big oily freightership he’s sailing in on the way to Shanghai China! And there’s something very significant about the approximate date he’d get to Shanghai, oh yah there is yah yah, but that is for another time, and better yet yes-for another farther out space. GOLD DUST

Two Poems by J.D. De Hart Account

Passing Impressions

Like the time I saved the world from the falling bomb that was the politician's tirade.

Sometimes they like you, sometimes they don’t. I find it all to be pretty arbitrary.

Like the time I stopped a razor blade with a muttered word. Imagine had I shouted.

Greatest ever, or not so much. A promise or a could have been.

Like the time I delivered the perfect I like the way you, you really lesson, all the children were connected the dots on, my goodness enthralled, a master waving his baton. how you. You're welcome. All of this is screwy nonsense as I sit on the couch, sip cold coffee, and tap away at poems where I'm the hero the world is the villain, I have all the right answers, and everyone agrees.

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Active, passive, quiet, loud, kind, unkind, it’s all a passing impression. Five stars, four stars, what's a star, anyway? A lump of stones and chemicals pretending illumination.

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Oppositional Defiance by Shirley Jones-Luke We are not the same, we are split coins, flipped by a society that sees us as one, we are not one, my world view takes a turn from the everyday to admire the inner layers of a tulip and the thorn on a rose, you look at the sky and see only blue, I look at the sky and see the ocean, waves and surf, we are not the same. You grouse that life is so hard, walking paths unknown I cajole you to see things from a new perspective, crossing those paths with a strident gait, you wait at the end for me to accompany you, but my road, said Frost, is less traveled. I walk carefully, counting my steps, looking at the cracks in the asphalt, not wanting to leave my footprint on the crooked surface, you run to catch me, anxious, wanting to go where I go, wanting to know what I know, but my knowledge is personal. With that knowing, you become undone.

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T OR SH ORY ST

A Fresh Start by Lynn Braybrooke

The assignment had gone well. The man was dead, and he was dead because I’d killed him. He hadn't seen me coming, I look pretty ordinary as assassins go, you wouldn’t see me coming either. l pretended to bump into him as he walked towards his car, and what he thought was a punch in the chest, was actually a knife through the heart. l didn’t even break pace, just kept right on walking. Job done. The thing is, I don‘t really need to do this any more. l have enough money to live a comfortable life but it’s one of the few things I'm good at. And Her Majesty’s Service has paid me to do this since l left the army fifteen years ago. l go where l’m sent, identify the target, and do what l do. In all of those fifteen years, l have never encountered a problem, either practically or morally. l use different methods to dispatch my targets depending on what the situation allows. And I never ask why. There was a time about eight years ago that I garrotted a man in Albania, and when I returned home l wondered who he might be. l don’t know why l wanted to know but I searched for information and did not tell my superiors what l was doing, I had the distinct feeling they would not have approved. Anyway, it transpired he was a drug baron of great wealth, a very bad man indeed, l took from this the conviction that l had done a good thing, and assumed that all my assignments were on the side of the angels. l never questioned the “why” again, until now. I wasn’t sure where my recent unease came from. I mean apart from the obvious reason, which is that murdering people is not right. I have long since reasoned that murdering soldiers in battle and under orders is OK. My country paid me then and it pays me now, but we are no longer at war. Yet I trust the people who send me out on these assignments to be right in their reasoning, I am a soldier after all, I follow orders. I assume this period of disaffection will pass, all things do. I have no family of my own, I never married and my parents are dead. No brothers or sisters to clutter my life, I am I realise, very much like a machine. The thought does not intimidate me, I simply accept that what I do is a continuation of what I have always done. The army is my family. Still at my age, I am going to be forty, next birthday, perhaps all of us become a bit introspective. Gold Dust

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While in this reflective mood, I boarded the N train in Queens 39"‘ Street, headed towards Manhattan 34"“Street Herald Square where my hotel was located. I had very little to pack and I expected to make the night flight from J.F.K. to Heathrow and be back in London by tomorrow. There was a young woman sitting opposite me on the subway. For some reason, she drew my attention, not just because she was pretty, I am not oblivious to a pretty face, but there was something about her. Her face held a kind of wisdom and I think humour. I don’t know how I knew all this but I felt she was special. Anyway she left the train a stop before me and went on her way. She was dressed simply in a jersey dress with a scarf, all blues and greys. She had what I thought was an expensive bag, she was quietly classy and she had great legs. She made me wonder what life might have been like if I'd married and had a regular job. And there it was again. In between assignments I used my time maintaining and decorating my house. It’s an old Edwardian house and was pretty much derelict when I bought it. Over the years I had slowly transformed the place a room at a time. And in doing the work myself l didn’t have to have strangers in my home. I could re-wire a house or run an explosive device to blow it up. I am a man of many talents I fitted my own kitchen and bathroom and felt good when it was done. I found it satisfying to be useful between assignments. The army taught me many practical things, and as I sat on the subway between Queens and Manhattan I thought I might do something with the loft when I got back. I might even stop doing what I do and become a small time business man who fits kitchens and bathrooms. I could change my life if I really wanted to it was my life. And I think in that moment I decided I would change; I was sick of killing. It was late afternoon, I wouldn’t have a very long wait to leave for the airport. but I did have about two hours. Two hours in a hotel room mid October meant the light would be gone soon and it occurred to me to have a look in Central Park. Take a stroll and chill, I have a fondness for Autumn. And I was in this funny reflective mood that needed to be gone by the time I hit London or I would indeed turn into a plumber or an electrician. Still see-sawing between my life-changing options. I wandered into the park, past horse

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drawn carriages all offering to take me for a ride. I had no doubt at all that they would definitely do that, they could smell a tourist from twenty paces I walked and walked, this was a big park, I was impressed. It was a lonely walk I didn’t see anyone after I left the main pathway and headed towards some trees. The tree‘s looked ancient and dark and I marvelled at them. Something caught my eye, a flash of colour drifted across my peripheral vision and I heard some kind of mewing sound. I stood still and listened and knew there was something wrong. I

no longer looked at the tall trees, but focused my gaze closer to the damp earth. The light was fading fast, and there was an uncomfortable feeling in the stillness of nature. Nature was usually noisy. Even small animals made scampering sounds, and birds – well don’t get me started on birds. It seemed like everything was waiting for the next movement to break the spell. I stood still and let my eyes become accustomed to the dark of the forestry and somehow my soldier’s instinct told me that I was being watched. A light breeze brought the smell of perfume and then another harsher smell: ether. I had no weapon, I had left the knife in the man I had killed. I did not carry a gun, not in New York City. Getting on and off planes made that so impossible that I hardly used fire arms any more. I heard a whimper, so faint was the sound that I might have imagined it. Then a scuffle and a scream, and I had direction, I knew where the enemy was. And the enemy was

close, he broke through the trees and came at me like a bad dream. I let him come and saw he had a knife. I also saw there was blood on that knife. I kicked the knife out of his had and turning full circle, drove my elbow into his kidney. He went down and I kicked him in the head so I knew he wouldn’t be getting up any time soon. I wondered if he was with gang members or alone. I went to find the screamer, whoever that might be. She was on the floor of the forest, her clothes in shreds and knife wounds bled profuse-

ly. She was the girl on the train, and she was only half conscious. l could see she would bleed out if she didn’t get to hospital very soon. And then I saw the spade. He had partly dug a hole to bury this girl when he’d finished with her. l couldn’t tell what had been done to her apart from the knife wounds. l did know one thing, she would never be the same open smiling wholesome woman she had been an hour ago. I didn’t know if she would make it or not, but l knew he wouldn’t. She was still alive when l put him in the ground he had intended for her. l called nineone-one and left the scene. It hadn’t taken long. As I exited the park I could hear sirens and hoped they would be in time to save her. So much for my fresh start.

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F FI LA CT S IO H N

Two Flash Fiction Pieces

by Matthew Twigg

The Clockmaker’s Wife Once upon a time, there was a horologist – a clockmaker to you and me – and he made the most beautiful hourglasses, carved with burnished wood and filled with the whitest sand from the beach. People would come from all around to see his pieces, for these were very fine items indeed and did not go cheap. Now, this clockmaker had a son, an eager and inquisitive little fellow. And one day his son asked him: Father, why do all these people want to buy our sand? There is plenty on the beach for everyone, yet they always come looking for ours. Strange, don’t you think? The clockmaker smiled at the precocious child: My dear boy, it is not the sand that interests them, but rather what the sand represents. You see my workshop, filled with all manner of

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tools and machines? It is not the sand that I must manufacture, but time. For you see, my boy, time must be made. As the years passed, the clockmaker grew old and died, and his son inherited the family business. And because he was handsome and wealthy, the young clockmaker married the most enchanting of all the town’s girls, and together they had a child of their own. He loved his wife and child very much and missed them terribly as he worked, collecting the sand and blowing the glass and carving the wood. But the clockmaker had learned his craft well and orders arrived from all over the country as word spread of his skill. So when his wife said to him one day: Clockmaker, let’s take a walk on the beach, you and I and our child, it will be ever so peaceful to be together, all three of us; the clockmaker could only reply: I am too busy to stroll with you, on this day or any other. Can’t you see how tremendously wealthy we have become thanks to my successes? No, I shall remain in my workshop, night and day if I must, for how else shall I provide for my family? As the years passed, the clockmaker’s wife grew despairing of her husband and his work, for he would not accept assistance and the demand for his artistry would not cease. And although she was dressed in the finest clothes and ate the finest foods, she could not say that she was happy. For when she looked at the clockmaker, she saw his hair had greyed and his eyes had become sunken and worn. And while their child too had advanced in years, it barely recognised its father, so hard at work as he was. Then one day, the clockmaker’s wife decided enough was enough; she and the child were to leave and never return. The clockmaker was hunched over and busy with a particularly ornate piece and did not hear her words, but when he looked up she was gone. When the clockmaker realised what had happened, he remembered his father’s words, that time is made, and he thought to himself that there is nobody more important to make time for than those that we love.

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Rough Sleeping at the Pu lic Libra Thank my lucky stars for Pu lic Libra. No need to thank my unlucky stars, of course – they’re the reason I need Pu lic Libra to protect me now. In fact, thanks to Pu lic Libra, I never have to look at my unlucky stars ever again; never have to watch them stretched out in their callous twinkling grin; never have to curse them for landing me in this wretched condition. Things were different in the desert. I used to love stargazing with the boys. We’d make up names for the constellations – Orion the Munter; The Big Shitter. Things like that. Not especially inspiring, I know, but it seemed funny at the time. You try stargazing when you’re not allowed a drink. Then there was Private Johnson – he used to say that the stars were holes in the sky from all the bullets; the cosmos bleeds light, he said one time. He could be a depressing bastard. But then, with a name like “Private Johnson”, you’re never gonna be a barrel of laughs; a double-barrelled dick, maybe. But it’s not like that anymore, now that we’re back. Stargazing’s no fun when it’s enforced, like a party you’re told you can’t leave – like North Korea, or heaven. Besides, you can’t see them here anyway – the stars get dissolved in the city’s glow. And then what are we left with? Darkness? A yawning, indifferent void? How does that poem go? Looking up at the stars, I know quite well

That for all they care, I can go to hell. Don’t I just know it. ‘That’s no way to treat our heroes,’ you hear people say in the news. ‘Oooooh, doesn’t it make your blood boil,’ they crow. You don’t need to tell me – it’s a right fucking jip. So why do you walk past me like I’m not there, like you haven’t noticed me? I’ve noticed you notice me, and I’ve noticed you pretending like you haven’t. But don’t worry, I know the score. I know you’d change things if you could. I mean, we’re all such worthy causes, it’s unfair to privilege just one. Right? And hey, you don’t know me from Adam. I could be an arsehole; a ‘gutter prick’ as one colourful fellow informed me. And I look comfortable enough, don’t I? I probably chose to live like this; prefer it, even. Yeah, that must be it. But Pu lic Libra can’t protect me forever – he’s falling apart as it is. People don’t care about him either. And now he’s got another screw loose – the one connecting him to U. He’s already lost his B, his R, and his Y. But I don’t need letters like that. Do they B-U-R-Y people like me, anyway? Or do they just chuck us in the canal with the disused shopping trolleys and traffic cones?

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The New Work by Glen Armstrong There is nothing inside. The new work. But traces of the old work. Everyone checks their phones. As if checking wristwatches. Polite applause is still. A movement or two away. There is nothing in what I say. But the same old words. In a different order.

Two Poems from Phil Huffy In Retreat

A border guard with an autoharp. Watches dragonflies dart. Back and forth. Between two warring countries. Moonlight falls on the soon. To be harvested pumpkins. Like white hats. There is nothing inside. The old work. That cannot be made new.

She spent three weeks in parts unknown and found herself there, quite alone

So Long, Baby An author wrote a poem but apparently could not contain the excess number of the verses she had jot It comprised a dozen pages, there was nothing left to say Any editor who reads it will find much to snip away

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INSTRUCTIONS RE PUSHING PEOPLE DOWN THE STAIRS By John Grey Sure, there’s a buzz when you do it. Nothing like two palms flush against someone’s back followed by a hard shove. Some of them bounce like rubber balls, thumping into every riser on their descent. Others seem to float for a moment, like ski jumpers, before gravity steps in, sends them hurtling toward the bottom rail. Tripping is also cool as long as you don’t lose your own footing and join your victim in that unfortunate tumble. A straight flight of stairs is best. Momentum can slow on a spiral staircase. And, as for giving people in wheelchairs a nudge from the landing, that’s like shooting fish in a barrel* and should only be indulged in if no able body quarry is available. Now what if the victim survives. Should you just finish them off with a hammer or drag them back up the staircase and begin the process over? This depends on your schedule. Lumping a dazed body up twelve or more steps is hard work and time-consuming. But a quick blow or two to the skull can feel like cheating. Now if the victim not only survives but threatens to toss you down the stairs, I recommend making this tract available to them. That way my audience numbers won’t dip. *Refer to ‘Instructions Re Shooting Fish And Other Creatures In A Barrel

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ST BE M E PO

Assemblage

Reflection

by Kersten Christianson

by Mark Jermy

Garish in color and scope, I nest my creating space with ephemera, foraged and thieved. Women

This is my face in the mirror. Held close in its chromiumed breadth Where far objects are held nearer.

and ravens take flight from their stretched canvas perch either in wing or spirit.

Windows open to sun and green. A room stirs with gumrhythmic breath At the sight of something not seen

Gathered in empty candleholders, dusty stones (amethyst, orange calcite, tree agate)

Quite like this before but once when ‘Let’s get this over with,’ you said: ‘Where do I begin?’ A sudden

emit their moonlight charge, blush pale luminosity in wan afternoon sun. Feather

Glimpse of the shaved pits of your arms As you raise your slippedover dress. The distant windowsill of plants

of a grey jay, blue sheen radiates twinkle light glimmer. Mugs stolen from Tim Hortons

Props skies of orange magenta While a perfume smokes from your neck, While your bra strap makes an indent.

house beads (Czech, lamp work, crackle, evil eye). Tumbled driftwood, ocean smooth, dry. Tiny

You utter ‘But I could never Bring a life to an end.’ Yet left Is this decision whether

carved owls wonder wide-eyed from high shelves, ponder the branch they’ve never

To bother with explanations, Catching sight of the correctness Of our separate reflections,

known, placed among books birthed by trees once embraced by a sky-reaching forest.

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Like the water of unknown seas. In this mirror blind and depthless Your body trembles for release.

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This Noiseless Dominion by William Bitters reviewed by Stascia Lynne

B RE OOK VI EW

Intoxication This whiskey burns my tongue but not the way that you do Not the way like you kiss Biting hard on my mouth Tearing the breath out of me.

William Bitters This Noiseless Dominion can be purchased on www.blurb.com William Bitters serves up a luscious treat of tasty metaphors in his poetry collection This Noiseless Dominion. The reader will be drawn in by his eloquent manner of expressing deep and intimate emotions with such intensity that you feel like you not only know the writer, but can feel the emotions he expresses as surely he felt them in the memories he is describing. He weaves you in and out of love and heartache and gains and losses, entwining you so keenly into this intricate tale that you cannot tear yourself away. He more than satiates any desire you have to feel, and entices you to feel so deeply so that you want to burst with the outpouring you are experiencing. And he can deliver it in such few words, it’s seems almost incomprehensible to contain so much with so little. Here’s a little bite:

Reading this collection allows the reader to be able to define moments they have experienced, that previously may have seemed difficult to comprehend, but his manner of illustrating them linguistically allows the reader to categorize and embrace past experiences of William Bitters their own, to finally taste that moment. Some are bitter, others sour, even a few spicy ones, and a serving of sweet, but all are a luscious surprise, leaving you full at the end.

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T OR Y H S OR ST

The Teeth by Salvatore Difalco

B PR EST OS E

Arto awoke to discover that his upper two front He quickly dressed, pocketed the wrapped teeth had fallen out during the night. His tongue teeth, and stopped in the hall to use the bathroom flicked through the fresh gap, touching the torn shared with the other two residents on his floor, gum. He could taste blood. He sat up in his bed, Max the ex-junky, a shell of a man, and Luther, a shaking off the cobwebs. He felt the gap with his middle-aged masturbator, whose perverse habit fingers. What the fuck? He searched around for had cost him his job as a stock broker. Neither the teeth, turning aside the sheets and flipping seemed a likely suspect. over his pillow. There they were, under the pillow, And neither men had yet attended to their resting in little blots of blood, his two front teeth. morning evacuations. The bathroom exuded a nice He shut his eyes to gather his senses. Could Mr. Clean freshness that in a small way mollified this be happening? Was he still asleep? His Arto. That is, until he saw his gap-toothed visage in tongue probed the fleshy gap in his smile line. It the bathroom mirror. His knees buckled and he felt real enough. He slapped his thigh sharply. The gripped the edges of the sink to keep from falling stinging skin confirmed he was awake. You can’t to the floor. He shut his eyes and drew deep slap yourself in your sleep and feel that. breaths. Who could have done this to me? he Two questions immediately came to Arto’s thought. Who would want me to look like this? mind. One, who did this to him? And two, why did He turned the tap, drank some water and they place the teeth under the pillow? Was it some swished it around his mouth. He spit it out along kind of joke? You know, the bizarro Tooth Fairy with little clots of blood. Fucking butchers, he had come? thought. His eyes darted round the room. The closet He staggered down the stairs to the first floor. door was ajar. He jumped from his bed and swung The kitchen, or mess hall, as some residents called it open. Nothing but clothes on hangers and shoe- it, was located in the back, with a patio opening out boxes. He froze and listened. He could hear shuffling upstairs, but that was just Old Man Winks. He was always moving around up there. Dementia. For a moment Arto wondered if Old Man Winks had committed this indecency, but recalling how the guy could barely tie his shoes, he likely lacked the manual dexterity to yank teeth. Arto returned to the bed and reluctantly picked up the teeth. He tried not to look at them, but couldn’t help himself. Solid, but badly stained from all the coffee, blood still reddened their roots. How had he not awakened during the extraction? Had he been drugged? He felt no chemical after effects. Very strange. Why would someone do this fucked up thing to him? Why? He wrapped the teeth in a paper tissue, wondering if a dentist could somehow reinsert them. They had techniques these days, technologies. It would cost a bundle, for certain. But he didn’t have a bundle. Living in a rooming house as Arto did evidenced a degree of penury, if not complete degeneration. You don’t wind up in a rooming house because things are going peachy for you. Up until now, Arto had not felt fear, just confusion, and perhaps anger. But when he started thinking about how monstrous this act was, how vile, and also how peculiar— cold fingers of fear gripped his neck.

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to an ugly rock garden. Someone was usually in there making coffee or munching on cereal or toast. A cook from the ministry prepared lunches and dinners. But for breakfast the men were on their own; and since most of them rose late, mornings never saw the kitchen crowded. Hank, an obese ex-cop with Elvis sideburns and a suicidal gambling addiction, sat in the kitchen on this morning—granny-glasses perched on his bulbous nose—studying pink racing forms. A white mug with the logo 'Monkey Monkey' steamed at his elbow; a plate with several oatmeal cookies rested by the forms. Hank had once explained to Arto that in gambling, Monkey Monkey is the nickname for picture cards. The original word was Monarchy, referring to face cards—kings, queens and knaves—but Monarchy morphed into Monkey. “Good morning,” Hank said without looking up from his forms. “Hank, Hank, you gotta help me,” Arto said, rushing to his side. Hank looked up from his forms and studied Arto over the frames of his glasses. “What the hell happened to you?” “You won’t believe this. Someone pulled out my two front teeth!” He peeled back his upper lip. Hank reared his head and raised his plump hand, appalled. “Jesus, man. Looks like you stopped a hockey puck.” “You gotta help me, Hank. Someone did this. I have no idea who or why.” Hank smiled. His incisors were gold, an affectation that never ceased to annoy Arto. Whenever Hank smiled the room seemed to tilt a little. “You in deep with a loan shark?” Hank quipped, familiar with the terrain. “I’d know about that, wouldn’t I? Whoever did this must have drugged me because I felt nothing.” Hank nodded. “That’s some fucked up shit, brother.” “Wanna come and inspect the crime scene?” “Now why the fuck would I do that?” “You’re an ex-cop, Hank.” “What is about the ‘ex’ you’re not getting?” “I’m just saying. I feel stupid calling the real cops for something like this. What do I say, that someone came in the night and yanked my two front teeth without me noticing? Don’t look at me like that, Hank. I haven’t touched anything for 369 days and eight hours, you know that. Fuck, you were at the meeting last week when they gave me my plaque.” “Yeah, they gave you a plaque. They gave me one, too.” “But Hank, no one pulled out your fucking teeth.” “You’re gonn'a have to call Spencer about this.” “Fuck Spencer, he’ll think I’ve been using.” “Demand a blood test.”

“Blood test! I’m clean, man. You’ve been here as long as I have. Not once, not once have I stepped out of line.” Hank smiled, his incisors reflecting sunlight shining in through the kitchen window. Arto felt a buzzing in is ears, as of bees. “Arto, buddy. You’re getting all bent out of shape. Now let me tell you something, and don’t take it the wrong way. But, frankly, you’re mistaken if you think for a second that I keep tabs on or give a rat’s ass what you or anyone else does in this shit-hole.” “That’s harsh, Hank.” “Call Spencer, or better yet, call the Director.” “Come on, man.” Hank wasn’t taking this seriously. He selected a cookie from the plate, slid it entirely into his mouth, and returned to the racing forms, blubbery jowls fluttering. Arto removed the tissue from his pocket, unwrapped his teeth and thrust them under Hank’s nose. Hank let out a guttural grunt and fell back so hard his chair tipped over and the great bulk of him landed upended on the floor still firmly lodged in the chair. “Help me,” he groaned. Arto stood up reflexively to help the big man, but froze at the least second . “Help me, you sonofabitch.” “What are you gonn'a do if I don’t, punch my teeth out?” “Help me up!” “Call Spencer, or better yet, the Director.” Arto snatched his teeth and left. He regretted approaching Hank with this problem. Now he had to formulate a game plan. He considered canvassing the rooming house residents to ask if they’d seen anything untoward during the night. Of course, some of the younger residents weren’t beyond shenanigans. Yogi, the redheaded junky came to mind, or his pal Felix, a known child molester. They were quite capable of terrible doings. But Arto’s dealings with them had been issueless. He’d given them no motive for such a heinous act. Arto exited the rooming house with no clear plan in mind. He considered visiting the police, but they’d surely laugh him off once they knew his history, and where he resided. Men inhabiting such places often fell victim to bizarre and violent acts. Madmen, addicts, subversives, pederasts, what do you expect from the dregs of society? A few inexplicably missing teeth was comical. He’d lighten the officers’ day with his tale, bring smiles to their faces. He decided that a walk-in dental clinic was his best recourse, though he’d never dealt with one and didn’t know how he’d pay for such a thing. He had a hundred dollars to his name, if that, and wouldn’t have a penny more until month’s end. His social benefits card allowed for some dental cover-

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age, but not this. The teeth had been unrooted. He could still taste blood. As he walked to the plaza on the other side of the apartment complex flanking the rooming house, the cold October air punched his palate, the pain so excruciating he held a hand to his mouth. When he reached the plaza he thought he’d faint from the pain. He located a dental clinic next to a bargain shoe shop. The place was packed. He wondered for a moment if everyone had been assaulted by a demented Tooth Fairy during the night. It would have given him some relief to know he’d not been the only victim. He approached the reception desk and the angular, ear-phoned receptionist, held up a finger while she dealt with a client on the telephone. “Yes, Mr. Mercer, we can clean your teeth, but only if you pay cash. That’s right, cash only. Your last cheque bounced, Mr. Mercer. Insufficient funds. It’s just company policy. Yes. That’s right, Mr. Mercer. You have a good day now.” The receptionist cued Arto to tell his story. He opened his hand, flattened out his palm, and revealed the teeth. The receptionist recoiled. “It’s not what you think,” he said. “I wasn’t in a fight or anything. I woke up and the teeth – someone pulled them out during the night. I found them under my pillow.” The receptionist unplugged her head-set and rushed off to the back, likely to summon security, Arto thought, if they had such a thing in this clinic – but she returned moments later with a tall silverhaired man in dentist’s whites. “I’m Dr. Fennel,” he said. “How can we help you today?” “Well, like I told her, I lost my two front teeth during the night . . .” “You’ll have to schedule an appointment with our denturist to discuss replacements.” “But I have the teeth with me.” Arto opened his hand. “Uh, yes well. There’s nothing we can do with them now.” “You can’t, like, try to put them back in?” “As I said, sir, you’d best talk to the denturist about that, and Ms. Bellows here can schedule a consultation for you.” “Should I put them in milk or something till I do?” “Talk to the denturist. And by the way, our rates are posted on the wall there. Study them closely.” Arto glanced over the tables and figures. They made no sense to him. He suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia. He felt crushed. He walked out of the crowded clinic without booking the consultation. He held his hand to his mouth as he rushed back to the rooming house. Once there, he went into the kitchen and poured himself a glass of milk. He put his teeth in

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the milk. He’d read somewhere that putting teeth in milk preserves them. Hockey players often resorted to that trick. He covered the glass with a square of aluminum foil and put the glass in the fridge behind the condiments. He thought of affixing tape to it with his name written on, but figured no one would bother with a covered glass set so far back in the fridge. He ran into Hank in the hall. He thought Hank might do something violent and was prepared to kick him in the nuts the moment he tried anything. “I’m pissed at you,” Hank said, hobbling. “First you freak me out, then you abandon me.” “Sorry Hank, I was out of my head.” “Better now?” “Not much. It’s gonna cost me thousands to get the teeth fixed.” “That sucks. That really sucks. Almost broke my hip.” “You want me to feel guilty ‘cause you freaked over teeth? What kinda cop were you anyway?” Hank smiled. The room tilted eastward. Disgusted, Arto went up the stairs to his room. He sat at his desk and took out a notebook. He wanted to draw up a list of possible suspects and motives for the act. But after jotting a few names, he grew bored with the exercise. He had enemies, sure, everyone has enemies, but he found it impossible to believe that someone hated him enough to come in the night and by some weird stealth pull out his front teeth. It made no sense. Would it ever? His tongue felt the flap of flesh where his teeth had been rooted. He could still taste blood. Maybe a salt rinse would help. Salt always helps with this shit. And the teeth were in milk, safe for now. He had to come up with a plan to get enough cash to put back the teeth in his mouth or have them replaced altogether with implants. But this was altogether unrealistic. Arto wept. He seldom wept. He’d wept when he went off the opioids. He thought he might die. But he got through it. He chewed a lot of gum and drank barrels of coffee, but he got through it. He had been clean for 369 and a half days. An achievement. He had a plaque. He wept full-bodied now. He’d never thought, a few years back, when he was working and making money, happy with his girlfriend, happy with life, and doing his drugs without getting into trouble, that he’d wind up in a rooming house, broke and fucking toothless, but here he was. He crawled into bed and cried himself to sleep, something he hadn’t done since he was a child. He slept through dinner and slept through the night. His sleep was heavy and dreamless. It may have been the most restful sleep he ever had. He awoke to the trilling of birds and a lovely spring buzz in the air. For a moment he considered that it

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had all been a crazy dream, losing the teeth. And that even Hank and the rooming house had been a dream. But when his tongue jabbed forward and felt the fleshy gap, his heart sank doubly. This was his room. This was his reality. There was no escaping it. He dressed and hit the bathroom. It smelled peculiar, fleshy. Arto did his business and washed up, avoiding his reflection. He didn’t need to be reminded. Then he heard a commotion coming from downstairs. He dried off and headed out. Max the ex-junky happened by, moving like a zombie. “What’s going on?” Arto asked him. “Dunno,” Max drawled, eyes closing and opening. “Going down to check.” Old Man Winks was already shuffling down the stairs, his long white hair trailing behind him like a veil. Voices issued below. One of them sounded like Hank. He could holler pretty good. Arto followed Old Man Winks and Max downstairs and back into the kitchen. Hank and Yogi huddled around someone on the floor. Arto caught a glimpse of the Nike Jokers and knew it was Felix.

“What happened?” he cried. “Something in his windpipe,” Hank said. “He’s, like, choking to death,” Yogi said. “Get him up and do the Heimlich,” Old Man Winks said. “We tried,” Hank said. “We fucking tried.” “I think Hank broke his ribs,” Yogi said. “Aw, he’s dying guys,” Hank bawled “He’s dying.” “Call 911,” Yogi said. No one moved. Arto spotted a glass on the counter. No, he thought, not possible. His eyes searched for the aluminum foil and when he didn’t see it he gasped with relief. As Hank and Yogi tried to perform CPR on Felix, Arto went to the fridge and opened it. He pushed aside the condiments and stopped. The glass was missing. Arto glanced at the floor and when he saw the glitter of aluminum foil his heart jumped. Felix, that fucking idiot, had drank the milk in Arto’s glass, and was probably choking to death on his teeth. He looked over at Felix, convulsing on the floor. While Hank massaged his heart, Yogi stood by counting down like a boxing referee. Arto lunged. “What’re you doing?” Hank cried. Yogi straightened up. “He’s got my teeth!’ cried Arto, grabbing Felix by the throat. “He’s got my fucking teeth!” If Felix wasn’t dead when Arto put hands to him, he certainly was when Arto let go—his throat and chest clawed open as though a wild horned animal had gored him. The others grabbed Arto, screaming at the top of his lungs, an action made grotesque by the missing teeth. They waited for the cops and the ambulance. Hank used his bulk to restrain Arto, while the others tied him to a chair. He continued crying, “He’s got my fucking teeth! He’s got my fucking teeth!” Finally they stuffed a cloth in his mouth to silence him. And no one but Hank knew what the hell Arto was raving about. The teeth, the teeth, the fucking teeth. One fucking stooge had put them in the milk. And another stooge had swallowed them. Hysterical. What were the fucking odds of that? You couldn’t make this shit up, Hank thought. He also thought it best to keep mum on the subject. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

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OK W O B IE V RE

The White Crucifixion by Michael Dean reviewed by Catherine Edmunds

Holland Park Books ~ 2018 Paperback 256 Pages £10.99 Dean prefaces the novel with a quote from Chagall’s friend, the poet Blaise Cendrars: “The first virtue of a novelist is to be a liar.” There’s his get-out clause in a nutshell. Does he need it? Partly. The novel concentrates on the early part of Chagall’s life, the periods in Vitebsk and Paris, yet misses out his studies with Bakst in St Petersburg, which both chronologically and culturally should have been there. Despite this, I have the impression of impeccable research, with little doubt of the factual accuracy of the locations and incidents. As to conversations and thoughts, these naturally must be fictitious as they would in a drama-documentary, but that’s simply the art of the novelist. The opening of the text is both engaging and intriguing: “On a highly auspicious day, the seventh day of the seventh month, I was born dead”. This puts the reader at their ease and gives confidence that the text will not read like a reference book. The ending is superbly written and deeply moving and will stay for me for a long time. There is no easy way to write about the Holocaust, but Dean has found a way that works perfectly for the story he has to tell. The strength of the ending temporarily made me forget about the problems I had encountered within the main body of the text. First and foremost is the jumping about of tenses, sometimes even within paragraphs. They may be an argument for describing the paintings themselves in the present tense, because they still exist, whereas the painting of them happened in the past, but even this ‘rule’ is not followed to the letter, and many of the tense jumps feel illogical. There are other style points that irritate, such as addressing the reader directly – not quite “Reader, I married him,” but not far off. The timeline doesn’t always quite work. Chagall has foreknowledge of the later value of a painting at one point early on, which he can’t have had. This is the sort of thing that yanks the reader

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out of the fictive dream and should have been spotted at the editing stage. On the plus side, there are many vividly drawn characters, particularly Modigliani and Soutine, but unfortunately Chagall himself is not as distinctive as he should. The main problems occur when he describes his own paintings as matter-of-fact lists of objects and people. I really wanted to be shown the artworks through his eyes, not be told about them as if I were an idiot viewer who needs to have what I’m seeing explained in basic terms. I have always adored Chagall’s paintings; they have inspired and informed much of my own artwork, but no real sense of his art beyond the superficial ever appears in the book, and that’s a huge loss. And yet I reach the end of the book and I am moved, because I lose myself in the skilful writing of those last few chapters, particularly the way the device of the prophet and the visions is used. I immediately re-read from cover to cover, with enjoyment. For anyone who is not an artist, this book can be recommended with very few reservations. But if you are an artist, you may end up saying, “Yes, okay, but where is the Marc Chagall I love?” GOLD DUST

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images may be upsetting by Gerard Sarnat yo, remembered past -imagined future, virtual reality and altered time space states’re made of basically the same stuff. I sure love expanding bodies of evidence — it's amazing such corpuses grow, even if memories are chimerical thusly unreliable yardsticks. in truth you were too afraid to experiment with anything other than weed or alcohol, too busy trying to stay afloat moneywise for happy days-off. How I managed that’s impressive like Oliver Sacks’ earlier life. Now drugs interfere with what's left of my consciousness plus they tend to annoy me in a pedestrian way. Don't know why—we’re just talking about opiates here. Both divorced wives decided to do mushrooms, acid, X, peyote instead of putting up with moi’s unvirtous neuroses.

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UR T A FE

E

On Short Story Writing by David Gardiner

Having said that I would try to write a feature for this edition I found myself wracking my brain as to what I knew enough about to be able to do this. After a lot of soul searching I came to the conclusion that the only area in which I have laboured long enough to have something to say is writing short stories. To write short stories, two things I believe are absolutely necessary. The first is practice, because it is as much a craft as it is an art, and the second is obtaining feedback, because we are all blind to our own weaknesses. But let's start at the beginning. The most frequent question a writer of any kind is asked has to be: 'Where do you get your ideas'. It's become such a clichĂŠ that we tend to shrug it off and see it as a non-question. But I think it's a perfectly legitimate and very important one. The answer is 'everywhere'. You develop a mind-set in which every experience, everything you see or read, every conversation you overhear on a bus, every situation in which you find yourself as you go through life is something to be considered, or as I call it, 'mined' for its short story potential. I don't mean that you should tell things the way they happened, that your stories should be in any literal sense true. Actuality, truth, the way things really are, is your raw material. What you do with it is your art. You should have a large framed piece of calligraphic art over your desk saying: 'THE TRUTH DOESN'T MATTER'. Because it doesn't. What you do with it is what matters. And if I may be permitted a philosophical moment, in ignoring literal truth good literature aspires to a higher truth, Gold Dust

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the creation of narratives that are true of the human condition. Back to earth. You come across a newspaper article about a man on Death Row who got married in prison a few days before he was executed. Your nose twitches, telling you, 'Here is a potential story'. Next, you need to decide whose story you are going to tell. The man himself, the woman who marries him, a member of his family, a member of his victim's family, the executioner, the priest who gives him the Last Rites, the TV commentator covering the event? Or who? On what basis can you decide? I think the main criterion for making this decision is, whose story is going to carry the greatest emotional weight? Because what you are always trying to do as a writer of what we might loosely call literary fiction is mess with the emotions of your reader. Bring a tear to their eye or a smile to their face. If your story does neither in my opinion it has failed. I think it's fairly clear that in this instance the person carrying the greatest emotional load is the condemned man himself. Interestingly, his position isn't entirely bleak and pitiable. He believes that he has earned the love of a kind and beautiful woman. He wants to believe that he has a wonderful future to look forward to in her company. He is in a great position to indulge in self-delusion. So let him be thoroughly and wilfully self deluded. My short story Lilac Wedding takes the form of a longish letter from my protagonist to his bride-to-be explaining that he comes from a poor and marginalised black family in the state of Georgia, and has gone through some rough times and got into some bad company and made many mistakes, but how now that his sweetheart has agreed to 36


marriage he is determined to make himself worthy of her love and trust. He will reform totally, work hard, study to become an engineer, and, learning from all the mistakes of his own drunken father, become a model parent to their children. He will never lay a finger on a child of theirs, he will give them the finest, most loving upbringing she could possibly imagine, they will have a long idyllic married life and grow old together in perfect love and contentment. It is only when he signs his letter and adds beneath his signature his address: 'Death Row, San Quentin' that we realise his vision of the future is a total fantasy. As well as deciding whose story you are going to tell you will need to decide how you are going to tell it. This is a more complex decision than you might at first think. Generally speaking, you want your reader to become as involved with the characters and the story as possible. You want them to see it from the inside. This is the exact opposite to the format normally used for 'telling a story'. Imagine how an adult would go about the re-telling of Cinderella: 'Once upon a time there was a little girl named Cinderella. Her daddy was a nobleman who had fallen on hard times, and her mother had died...' This is an example of a story being told from the outside. The narrator is said to be 'omniscient' (all-seeing). He or she oversees the whole thing like a god up in the sky. Nothing is hidden from this divine presence; past and present are known simultaneously, as are events that are geographically distanced and the innermost thoughts of the characters. The person listening (or reading) is as distanced from the characters and their thoughts and feelings as it's possible to be. What difference would it make if we were to tell the story this way: 'My name is Ella. I've just turned sixteen and I live with my father, his new wife and her two daughters. My mother died a year ago and I miss her very much. My stepmother and her daughters make me work all day long. I sleep down in the cellar where they store the cinders from the fire before they are thrown out. They give off a little bit of heat, which is why I sleep there. The other cellars are freezing cold this time of year. Because I sleep among the cinders the two sisters have christened me "Cinderella"...'

Suddenly the young girl has become a real human being and we care about her and her predicament. That is the effect of writing in the first person (taking on the identity of your central character). First person narration, while it has its limitations and its pitfalls, is the most intimate and involving format of all. Half way between those two comes third person narration from the point of view of a particular character. You tell the story from Cinderella's point of view, but you aren't inside her head looking out from behind her eyes. So if first person narration is so intimate and involving, why should we ever write in any other format? An important reason is that it limits you to the experiences and observations of that particular character. You can't be aware of anything that she isn't aware of. As third person narrator if you stick strictly to the point of view of one character the same would apply, but you don't have to stick to it quite so rigidly, so it can be a good compromise, allowing you to make the occasional slide into a more 'omniscient' mode. Another reason for not using first person narration is that you don't necessarily want to reveal everything about your protagonist all the way through the unfolding of the narrative. She might have a hidden motive or a secret that she is concealing right along until it jumps out in a burst of high drama somewhere near the end. Beginnings and endings are the two hardest parts of a story to get right. The beginning needs to draw you into the story and make you want to continue reading, and the ending should leave you feeling satisfied that there has been a resolution of some kind and the story has about it a feeling of unity and completion. Also that it has given you something to think about for a long time after closing the last page. I don't think the techniques for achieving that can be explained in a couple of sentences. It's a matter of judgement, and it comes from many trials and experiments, and again lots of constructive feedback. A notion that is talked about a lot in writing circles is 'show' versus 'tell'. It's a little bit like the 'omniscient author' versus the other two formats, but also subtly different. 'Tell' is where I recite a series of incidents one after the other, possibly accompanied by explanations as to why they happened or comments

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of other kinds about them. It's similar to the format of a business or technical report, but applied to a short story. 'Show' is where I use words to let the events play out in front of you, as if you were a 'fly on the wall', and allow you to interpret them in your own way. The reader becomes a participant in the creation of the story and one reader's interpretation may be quite different to another's. Again, the more the reader participates the more they become involved in the story and the better their experience. A final aspect worth a moment's thought is subtext. Readers derive a particular pleasure from understanding more than is actually spelled out in the words on the page. There is a clever little mantra that has been attributed to many different writers and phrased in slightly different ways, supposed to be the shortest short story in existence. It goes: 'For sale. New-born baby clothes. Unused.' The beauty of it is the fact that the story is contained entirely in the subtext, and it's quite a sad one, with lots of room for reader interpretation. What is the difference between a short story and a chapter from a novel? There need not be one, some novel chapters can stand alone as short stories (e.g. the many self-contained episodes that make up Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting) but generally speaking a short story aims to be far more economical in its word count, and anything that doesn't move the story forward is excluded. It's a much more concentrated literary form than the novel, and in my opinion more difficult to write well. Some believe that ultra-short stories (flash fiction) are easier to write than longer ones, but noth-

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ing could be further than the truth if quality is a consideration. There are technical aspects a-plenty to consider, but I would imagine that if you're reading this you would be pretty aware of them already. Tense, for example (past historic, past, present and future), and the danger of slipping unconsciously from one into another. Spelling and grammar – yes, they matter, but if you read a lot you will normally absorb such things subconsciously. But if the occasional spelling or grammatical slip were the only thing wrong with a story I for one would let it pass and fix the errors myself. Commas seem to be a unique source of bafflement. I am no expert but my own rule is very simple – put a comma where there is a natural pause in a sentence. Don't put one where there isn't. Job done. Finally, writing of any kind is at least 90% rewriting. The first draft is merely the beginning. When it's done put it away for as long as possible and return to it with fresh eyes. You'll be amazed how big an improvement you can make to a script you once considered perfectly okay. To sum up, a good short story will have at least one character that the reader cares about, there will be a feeling of involvement in the story, of watching it develop rather than being told what's going on in the manner of a report, it will affect the reader emotionally in some way, and when it's finished there will be a feeling of completion, as well as lots of matters arising to go on thinking about. There now – that's not asking too much, is it?

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GOLD DUST


Patient No. 2

by Slavko Mali

F FI LAS CT H IO N

Patient No. 2 was brought by the ambulance. By Next day, Patient no. 2 wasn't in his room. people in white coats. He was scared of them. When they found him he was outside sitting on a He was scared of everything white. He was shak- bench covered in ravens' droppings from the ing. They dressed him in a white shirt with crossed sleeves, tied at the back, and gave him an injection of sedatives. -I love everything black – said Patient No. 1 from the bed next to his. And everything is black in my head. A black raven is constantly cawing in my head. I tell him: You are my brother! But he can fly and I can't, because they tied me to this bed. I hate everything that's white: beds, sheets, straitjackets, walls... When it got dark Patient No. 1 tore the safety straps and jumped through the fourth floor window. He just yelled: Here I come, brother! and he vanished. In the morning they discovered him on the pavement. Around his head was a pool of black blood reflecting a mirror image of doctors in white coats. Strange, said the psychiatrist. I thought he could fly! Patient No. 2 remained in his room. Doctors came to visit. That's when he spoke for the first time: -I'm a raven, he said. - OK, we know that. This is a cage for ravens. - Do you love someone? the doctors asked him. -I love my brother raven. -OK, OK, great... that's how it should be, you're getting better. Give him the injection.

tree above.

Who are you? asked the psychiatrist. I'm human, he answered. During the night someone quietly came to no.2's That's not good, mumbled the psychiatrist, while room and untied his straitjacket. But he didn't stroking his ginger beard. Take him to the black leave the bed. room and give him the snowmen to play with.

Next morning doctors came again. -Why are you naked? they asked. I'm not a flying raven, said Patient No. 2. -Interesting, interesting, said the doctors. No need for the injection. He’s cured. They walked away, having a quiet consultation.

The following morning in the black room, they found the raven and the man. Who are you? asked the psychiatrist. -We are Patient No. 2 – they answered simultaneously. GOLD DUST

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The 1% Man by James G. Piatt He piled his Wall Street desires atop the tombs of lost bull months and double Gin and Tonics as he stumbled under the last of the August pomegranate sun, blaring through a window, covering his barren mind, in a dark bar in New York. He harvested excessive toxic fruits from the orchards of scattered delights, as he pushed his shiny red colored Porsche wheelbarrow filled with tanks, missiles, hip-clothes from Dior, and skinny shoes from Gucci down the alley of Nowhere. He suffered no pangs of atonement for his Dionysian activities born of abandoned passions and soaked linen metaphors, never mentioning sleeping in an alley of unconscious expectations, under a mist of blue smoke from a fag. He strained with a Champagne cocktail in hand to accumulate golden strokes, and beautiful partners in his silken bed as he strolled among the drugged naked, forgetting art to enjoy, not purchase for pleasure in a swank overpriced brothel. He heaved himself on Ayn Rand’s rusted machinery of Objectivism, as he popped red pills to bring him down, after white pills brought him up…up…up. He glimpsed at his solipsist existence as he hobbled down his narcissistic existence, feeling nothing. He leapt into a white Limo joining Kierkegaard’s humping humpback harlots, seeking a lift downtown where he could taste the non-reality of visionary Mexicans painting graffiti on the cosmos. He ate flames, and digested insane visions of aberrations as he sat teetering on the outside of a icy whispering windowsill on the 13th floor of his $3,000 a night plush suite covered with disgorged memories, wondering what the life was all about… way too late.

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The Lost Poet by James G. Piatt Imaginary paragraphs, elbow through his Mind exposing jagged similes and Vague structures of shapeless meaning, Causing space, and metaphrast matter To mix obscure poetic form into broken Unintelligible sentences: Egg scrambled poems, grumbling in The haze of the never-land of my being, Dark splintered verses written in the Dark of the night on fire lit walls Of his saddened soul, become Mere ephemeral perceptions: Images of dead poets’ words become Blurred in his dream-world, Disturbing his tranquility: As he sits in the Eroding reflections of his troubled soul, He perceives dim blurry poems in the Obscure tangles of his mind: he visualizes Paragraphs of dark allegories where Words implode into iambic ruins, and he Becomes entangled in the midst of Vanishing thoughts. His fears while he Sits in the burning rubble of shattered rhymes Are that he will someday be awakened by acts Of seething morality, and be forced to become Aware of the harsh reality of the obscene hours, Thereby, being compelled to take up his wounded Crimson pen against an ocean of chaos in the World, and in doing so, crush what Gentleness there is left in his tenuous Being: As the memories of long dead poets And, ancient poems flood his soul, his Anxiety increases. He searches frantically For brilliant poems in his mind to ease the pain, However, they seem to be forever gone. On the other hand, perhaps they never existed.

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T OR Y H S OR ST

Towards the Setting Sun by Muhammad Nasrullah Khan

In the morning I caught a bus to my village and watched the city disappearing into a blur of grey. I arrived as rays of sunset light shimmered on the river, like those impressionist paintings that capture nature’s moods in dots of colours. Everything had changed except the river. I didn’t recognize anything. I walked the dimly lit streets lined with small stone cottages on either side, stumbling around in the darkness, hoping to find the village square to orient myself, or encounter a villager. As I went to knock on the red door of a random cottage I saw a man entering the village with a herd of goats and cows. Even though it had started to drizzle I could feel the peace and calm with which he walked. As he drew closer, I recognized that he was my grandfather. Since retiring from teaching he spent most of his time taking care of his animals. Soon the 'baas' of his flock overwhelmed every other sound. A few minutes later, we were face to face. My heart warmed as his grey beard danced in the wind. I relaxed into his embrace. ‘You’re finally here, I see,’ he said. ‘Yes ,Grandpa, The trip took its toll on me.’ I fell into step alongside him. ‘How is your life in the city? I read your article in the paper last week. I loved your words. I found them amusing.’ ‘Fine, Grandpa. My life is fast paced. It’s hard to keep up with at times, but I think the tradeoff is fair. I make good money and don’t want for anything.’ He wrapped one arm around my shoulders. His heavy shawl protected me from the rain as we made our way to his home. ‘Do you still like this weather?’ I asked. ‘If I love anything in the world, it’s the rain. Even now, when I’m old and it’s too cold, I still answer its call. There’s sweetness in its scent and an energy that infects me. A sense of consciousness washes over me, time slows down. I feel it coursing through my veins. Sometimes I wonder if I only like the rain so as to be different from all the people who hate it.’ He shrugged his shoulders as his eyebrows lifted toward his hairline. ‘Maybe I’m just out of my mind. I love the sound of the thunder rolling through the house. I also know my garden is getting a good watering.’ The drizzle grew to a steady downpour, so we quickened our pace. I found myself in a cramped but tidy room. A log burned in the fire place. Grandpa led me to a chair as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, taking care

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to let me know that it was normally his. Upon sitting, I found that I didn’t want to turn my head away from the warmth of the fire. A pleasant grogginess came over me. ‘Grandpa, when was the last time you went to the city?’ ‘Fifteen years ago. Your father took me. No more than a week passed before I determined that I was not able to live there. Nature called to me every morning. I had to come home.’ ‘What did Nature say to persuade you to come back?’ I asked as I inhaled the steam from the bowl he set in front of me. ‘She told me she missed me,’ he chuckled. ‘Do you remember when you were a child and how much you loved being outdoors?’ I winced as he shoveled a spoonful of the hot stew into his mouth. ‘When you were a child, you fell in love with summer, mostly because you didn’t like wearing shoes. When it rained, you played as if there was no tomorrow, not caring that you were getting your shorts wet. I remember you telling me how good the mud felt between your toes. Your grandma would always get mad at me because she had to clean up your little footprints every day.’ The memories were a springboard for others that ran through my mind. I remembered being fascinated with the chickens he kept in the back yard. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t seem to catch one, though he made it look easy. ‘What do you think about coming to live with me in the city? You’re getting older and you need someone to help take care of you. I’m just concerned about you being alone, Grandpa.’ ‘Oh, but I’m not. I am with the Earth.’ His bowl hid his face as he drank what remained of his stew. He leaned back in his chair and rubbed his belly, a smile spreading across his lips. ‘I think we should sleep now.’ The next morning, I woke up to Grandpa’s usual complaints about my sleeping too late. Breakfast was waiting when I entered the kitchen. It was my favourite: fresh butter on whole-wheat toasted biscuits that were, of course, homemade. After breakfast, we walked to the pasture. I was amazed that his horses and cattle moved to the fields without any guidance. From the oak tree we sat under, it looked as if they were following the wind. The smell of freshly cut grass wafted into my nose. I stretched my legs over it. As I laid next to him, it wasn’t hard to understand why his feelings for the Earth were as passionate as they were. It had been his muse since the beginning of his life. I relaxed more with each

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breath, the ground moulding to the shape of my body. ‘It feels good being in touch with the Earth like this, Grandpa.’ ‘You are feeling its love. We are made from this. The same love the Creator has for the Earth, he has for us, because we are one and the same. This,’ he placed some soil in my hand ‘is where we come from and we must always remember that.’ His eyes peeled open. He motioned for me to stay where I was. He asked me if I knew why my father had died. I couldn’t answer because his death was a mystery. ‘Your father, the oldest of my children, started his life as a child of the Earth. He was much like you. He loved playing in the garden, making tracks and roads for his toy vehicles, keeping to himself most of the time. His downfall began when he moved to the city. It wasn’t long before he lost his connection with the Earth. That is the reason your father died so young.’ I retreated into my mind as I remembered how lonely my dad had been. He spent most of his final days alone in his room. My mother and I found him dead in his chair. He lived and died in silence. It made sense that he died from not living his truth. ‘I want to know more about your connection to the Earth, Grandpa, as well as your childhood.’ ‘I’ll tell you about my favourite tree. When I was a boy, it was my escape from the world. It was reaching the heat of the day, the air stale, and the temperature smouldering. The grass, brown from lack of water, crunched under my feet with each step. Despite the heat dulling my senses, I could still hear a song in the breeze. The shaking leaves acted as a tambourine, the crickets resembled a quartet of strings. The humming wind brought it all together, creating the perfect symphony.’ Grandpa’s nose whistled as he inhaled. When his chest expanded as far as it could, he slowly released the air through the small gap between his lips. His shoulders dropped a bit more with each breath, his spine becoming straighter. I closed my eyes and matched his breath. The rhythm soon matched the rhythm of the music in

the air. When he was completely relaxed he continued his story. ‘I found refuge under the shade of an old pine tree. I used to climb into it, resting on the branches. Though I was small, I was strong, but I was bolder than I was strong. The neighbours called me a wild child. I never quite figured out why, though it could have been because I dared to cross the scorching gravel driveways in my bare feet.’ ‘And I thought you were a good boy,’ I teased. ‘I was a good boy…most of the time.’ He told me how he thought of climbing trees as a challenge, hearing the branches taunting him about not being tall enough to reach them. ‘On the days I didn’t have the energy to climb, I would dance in circles, the animals my audience and the shade my stage.’ Though his memory was foggy on the rest of his childhood, the tree and his adventures with it were vivid. To him, it was more than a tree. It was his life. Evening was encroaching when Grandpa called his dog to him. The dog’s deep barks intermingled with the herd’s steps, adding to the day’s song. ‘Look at the setting sun,’ Grandpa instructed. I flashed my gaze in the direction he pointed. I wasn’t paying much attention, my mind lost in my own vision of flying. ‘Look again. If you only take a quick look you won’t see everything that is there. Most people never learn how to see with their heart. The eyes only allow one to see what is on the surface. True sight takes practice. It starts with trusting your inner feelings.’ That night was the last night I spent with Grandpa. The next day he walked with me to the bus stop. He was silent. When the bus showed up, he kissed my head and said, ‘We love each other, but we have to go separate ways. Goodbye.' When the bus moved off, I waved at him but he had turned towards the setting sun. I could see both Grandpa and the sun sinking into an unknown world. GOLD DUST

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OK BO IEW V RE

Birds the Colours and Shapes of Leaves by Bob Toynton ~ reviewed by I.W. Smythe first collection, 'Birds the Colours and Shapes of Leaves', (Hammerin Books, 2018), containing 34 poems and including the brilliant ‘Jasmine for Mother’s Day’, excerpted here: 'I wanted to bring you a delicate wisp of the outside world; Sounds like liquid trickling metal beads; half mercury, half amber, Shaped from the air of my garden by the goldfinches You could never see. I wanted to bring you the light that had passed unaltered Through the perfect crystal on my hallway shelf Only to be startled into colour by a bubble of water Trapped in its heart.’……

Hammerinn Books – 2018 68 pages Paperback: £9.95 Kindle: £3.50

Toynton's breath-taking debut collection, though a lifetime in coming, presents with skilful force; each sentence a fine, aged bouquet of life in all its shadows and clarities. His range from classic to free-style, personal to societal, is sweetly caustic while maintaining a superb vulnerability. Love, ranging from the altruistic to the romantic, dips like a pendulum between all his poems. In ‘The Prodigal’, his painful portrayal of confrontation and familial homophobia is exquisitely crushing:

It's always grand to watch the path of an emerging poet, works moving from strength to strength while leaving readers wanting more with each new publication. But the greater thrill is in reading the work of a poet who emerges on the scene with almost no prior history, yet whose work grips the reader with the force of a seasoned author.

….”While those who kept slaves did not sin in your eyes Abomination, abhorrent were the words you called me You said that my kind should die for their love What could I do but take that personally”…. ~ ….”Those times are so distant, those thoughts now so old. Bob Toynton first emerged on the literary The world has moved forward. The language scene in Gold Dust Magazine, Issue 29 - June evolved. 2016 with his poem ‘Jasmine for Mother’s Day’, You cannot now blame me for what I once said. which was chosen 'Best Poem' of that issue. A Time changes all things including my words”…. wonderfully evocative piece, it was a prelude ~ of things to come and there was only a brief ….”But you have not disowned them. Cast interlude before the appearance of Toynton's them aside. Gold Dust

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Passively I will gather it in And let it fuse layer upon layer A new outer shell of rock and steel Hard against the world outside. Don’t be scared by the silence now, The unexpected emptiness. Beneath the carapace it is cosy Toynton never waivers, never loses focus. Eve- Come and join me in my sleep. Let us call the warmth, love. ry delivery is a testament of literary bravery. Let us call this new space home. Each verse is bourn from a depth of feeling which he never restrains. Note the caring inti- Let us bring the cat tomorrow night macy and tenderness of ‘Loving the Man with And settle in. PTSD’ ; Bob Toynton’s strength and decisiveness of description is told by a full and flowing literary ”I want to walk into your nightmare. voice of experience, garnered through travel, To join you in the geography I have learned. love, observation and memory. He layers his By joining the dots delivery with arch innuendo and heartbreaking Of your murmurs and cries. care, because nothing is not essential to this There in the vortex I will stand, man; every moment and action is a gift to Fears like sharp grit blasting against me, share. Indulge yourself in this fine new gem The metal blades of your memories and spread the word; Bob Toynton has arrived. Whirling and scything the air. But they are your fears, your memories. They strike but cannot harm me. Like a small human planet GOLD DUST I will let the debris of your past accrete. They give succour to those who would injure and kill For words can be sharpened and wielded like knives By those who still love you. Or so they would claim”……

Important Notice for Gold Dust Poets It makes me quite happy to share with you that Gold Dust has received more poetry submissions in the past eight months than at any time since I've been editor, and the quality of our submissions, from both established and emerging poets, remains world class. I must tell you though, that because of the immense increase in submissions arriving outside our submissions time, we are already two issues filled in advance. We especially don't want to close submissions temporarily, but we do need to control the times we accept your work so no one will lose an opportunity for publication. With that in mind we must ask that you submit only during our submission windows, which may be found on the Gold Dust web-site. Thanks again for your continued support of Gold Dust. I'm looking forward with continued pleasure to reading your wonderfully diverse submissions! Adele C. Geraghty Poetry Editor

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About the Contributors 50th college reunion Dylan symposium; the Harvard Advocate accepted a second plus Oberlin/Brown/Columbia published concurrent pieces. Mount Analogue selected KADDISH Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English FOR THE COUNTRY for pamphlet distribution from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst on Inauguration Day for the DC and nationand teaches writing at Oakland University in wide Women’s Marches. For HuffPo/other reRochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal views, visit GerardSarnat.com. called Cruel Garters and has three recent Harvard/Stanford educated, Gerry’s worked in chapbooks: Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) In Stone jails, built/staffed clinics for the marginalized, and The Most Awkward Silence of All (both been a healthcare CEO and Stanford profesCruel Garters Press). His work has appeared sor. in Poetry Northwest, Conduit and Cloudbank.

Poetry

James G. Piatt, a retired professor, is the author of two poetry books, The Silent Pond (2012) and Ancient Rhythms (2014). His third poetry book will be released in 2015. He has had over 575 poems, published in over 75 different magazines, anthologies and books throughout the Phil Huffy is a dormant lawyer from Rochester, world. His poem The Night Frog was nominatNew York. His inclination to poetry began with ed for ‘best of web’ 2013, and his poem In The Meadow was selected as one of the 100 best a hobby of songwriting and musical performpoems of 2014. His books are available from ance and with the hope of finding an additional Amazon and Barnes and Noble. audience without much driving. Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New moon-gazing, Alaskan. When not exploring the Hampshire, in a small house in the woods. He summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon, taught at Keene State College for many years, she lives in Sitka. She holds an MFA in Creabut has now retired to feed the deer and wild tive Writing/Poetry (University of Alaska Anturkeys. He has published three critical studies, chorage) and recently published her first including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His collection of poetry Something Yet to Be essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have apNamed (Aldrich Press, 2017 – Address: 105 peared in many journals and several smallGibson Place, Sitka, AL., 00935) press books. His forthcoming book of poetry is John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Shirley Jones-Luke is a poet and a writer from Boston, Mass (USA). Ms. Luke has an MFA from Emerson College. Her work has been published in journals and magazines. In 2016, Shirley was a Poetry Fellow at The Watering Hole Poetry Retreat. Gerard Sarnat MD, who is Pushcart-nominated, authored HOMELESS CHRONICLES (2010), Disputes, 17s, Melting The Ice King (2016) and has been published in Gargoyle, Margie, OCHO, New Delta Review, New Verse News, Main St. Rag, etc. “Amber Of Memory” is the single poem chosen for my Gold Dust

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The Last Concert (Salmon Press). Gianna Sannipoli, a native of California, is a student of English Creative Writing at Texas State University. She has also spent time studying abroad at the University of Bologna in Italy. Through poetry, she strives to write narratives in which readers can find their own meaning. Mark Jermy lives in Northamptonshire and works in Adult Social Care for Oxfordshire County Council. He continues to study writing at local education classes and his favourite poets include Robert Graves and Philip Larkin. 46


He also likes many different styles of music and enjoys gardening and cycling.

lives with her partner in east London and has a married daughter and baby granddaughter in New Zealand. She has lived in east or north London all of her life except for three years in Hong Kong as a young woman. She likes reading, walking, gardening, travel and cinema, and teaches Circle Dancing.

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. He blogs about books and authors at: dehartreadingandlitresources.blogspot.com and publishes poems at: onpossibilitypoems.blogspot.com. DeHart has a published volume of poetry, The Wayne Dean-Richards has had over a hunTruth About Snails, published by Red dred stories published in magaziines, in antholDashboard, and a second collection on the ogies – including Gold Dust's own – and in two way from Dreaming Big Publications. His work collections, one of which – Cuts – is still availhas appeared at Bluepepper, Medusa’s able as an ebook from Amazon. He says that Kitchen, and many other sites and journals. like Charles Bukowski, the words he writes keep him sane. Wayne’s homepage is at Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul from the www.waynedeanrichards.com. U.S. When not working two jobs, she listens to music and scrawls lines on the back of gas Slavko Mali: For seven years, the covers and station receipts. Her work has recently appages of Gold Dust Magazine have been privipeared on VerseWrights, Punch Drunk Press, leged to display the iconic art of Slavko Mali. and Spillwords. She has fifteen poems in a Mali's art runs the gamut from mystical to horpoetry anthology entitled Ambrosia, soon to be rific. There are no grey areas or half measures released by OWS Ink, LLC. All proceeds from with this artist. The beauty of Mali's work is in the anthology are being donated to the Ameri- its serious mystique. His images are a convocan Foundation for Suicide Prevention luted cross-hatch of madness and divine inspi(afsd.org). More information can be seen here: ration. Imagine a hybrid of these styles; http://ourwriteside.com/ambrosia-ows-ink-poet- Salvator Dali, Robert Crumb, Hieronymus ry-anthology/ Bosch, and a touch of American Gothic and Eastern European Folk Art. Even the most light-hearted of his illustrations harbour a dark nuance, an underlying flip-side of monsters in wait. Magnetic, evocative and disturbing, his alternative cartoons and captivating illustraLynn Braybrooke was born and educated in tions are nothing if not irresistible and thorLeyton, east London. As far back as she can oughly unforgettable. remember she has loved stories. All the jobs (From 'The Iconic Art of Slavko Mali' by Adele she has done, from machining garments to C. Geraghty, BTS Annual Issue 1) shipping cargo, have been a way of earning money while her children grew up and the Salvatore Difalco is the author of four books, mortgage got paid. Along the way she went including The Mountie At Niagara Falls, an back to school for O and A level English illustrated collection of flash fiction. He splits his time between Toronto and Sicily. because what she really wanted to do was write. She loves to cook and swim, and has a strong creative streak that propels her to make Matthew Twigg lives in Oxford where he works as an Editor for an academic publisher. things. But the story is the thing. One way or In his spare time he enjoys reading, football, another, she must be working on a story. countryside, food, and reading again. He works mostly on short fiction, but is also in the Jean Duggleby is a retired primary teacher process of writing his first novel. who eventually specialised in teaching deaf children, and started writing short stories only Jim Meirose's short work has appeared in about three years ago after becoming inspired numerous venues. His published books inat a Creative Writing course which she attend- clude Understanding Franklin Thompson (JEF pubs (2018)), Sunday Dinner With Father Dwed originally in order to make the tea (!). She

Prose

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yer (Adelaide Books (2018)), and Le Overgiv- Adele C Geraghty claims dual citizenship in both the US and the UK. Beside a lifetime dediers au Club de laRésurrection (Adelaide Books (2018)). His work has twice been nomi- cation to the written word, she is also an illustrator and graphic designer. She is the recipient of nated for the Pushcart Prize and has been the 'US National Women's History Award for Poshort-listed for the O.Henry Awards.Info: etry and Essay' and author of 'Skywriting in the www.jimmeirose.com. Minor Key', a poetry collection. Adele is a memMel Fawcett lives in London. His stories have ber of the New York ensemble 'The Arts Soire' and the writing site UKAuthors.com. She is Pubappeared in various print and online magazines, including Storgy, Stand, Smokebox, Li- lisher and Editor of BTS Books and creator of 'Between These Shores Literary & Arts Annual'. tro, Momaya Review, Gemini and The True Adele's work has been published in numerous Story. He can also be seen reading one of his anthologies, magazines and journals, and perstories on Youtube at the launch of a Solid formed on radio in both her countries. Gold Anthology. facebook.com/BTSBOOKS I. W. Smythe has been writing international literary and music reviews since 2002.

David Gardiner – ageing hippy, former teacher, now retired, living in London with partner Jean. As well as stories in magazines, anthologies and Muhammad Nasrullah Khan is a fiction writer newspapers he has four longer published works, from Pakistan, currently living in Saudi Arabia SIRAT (a science fiction novel), The Rainbow where he is lecturer in English at Taif Man and Other Stories (short story collection), University. He is known for weaving Asian The Other End of the Rainbow (short story collecculture into creative evocative settings and tion) and Engineering Paradise (novel). The latter has been used as the basis for a stage memorable characters. In a profile of musical whose creation was described in the last Nasrullah’s work titled ‘A Man Who Was issue of Gold Dust. Interests include science, Donkey’, The Gawanus Book called it philosophy, psychology, scuba diving, travel, ‘stunning.’ This short story was selected wildlife, cooking, IT, alternative lifestyles and among the Notable Online Short Stories of communal living. Large, rambling homepage at 2003. His short story ‘In Search of God’ was included in Silverfish Book’s Twenty-Two New davidgardiner.net. Asian Short Stories, published in 2016. He has been published in Evergreen Review, Indiana Nansy Grill is Co-Features Editor for Gold Dust. Voice Journal, Newtopia Magazine, Gowanus As a freelancer, she writes short stories, book reviews, and interviews. Nansy is a traveler tourBooks, Offcourse Literary Journal, The Raven ing nearly half of the US states and five foreign Chronicles, and many others. His debut story countries. She lives in Tennessee, USA with her collection, In Search of God can be purchased two Pomeranians, Buddy and Jazzi. from https://www.feedaread.com/

Gold Dust Team Omma Velada read languages at London University, followed by an MA in translation at Westminster University. Her short stories and poems have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. In 2004 she founded Gold Dust magazine. She is a member of the writing group Storyshed and her first novel, The Mackerby Scandal (UKA Press, 2004), received critical acclaim. She has also published a short-story anthology, The Republic of Joy (Lulu Press, 2006).

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Stascia Lynne is a visual artist residing in New York City. Her poetry can be found in The Colors of Life 2001, Scarlet Literary Magazine 2010 and Gold Dust Magazine 2014; her short stories have appeared in Joe Relativity Magazine 2011. Megan Chapman is a 27 year old junior in college studying creative writing and film. She writes primarily fantasy and is also creator and co-writer of the fictional podcast The Aftermath which will be premiering in January 2018. Abigail E. Wright’s work has appeared in World Book of Poems(I):Humanity anthology, included in the 2017 Poetry Circus Event and Seedpod Publishing. Her first mini-chapbook, Just After Sunset is forthcoming and she lives in Jamaica.

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Gold Dust 33 ~ Summer 2018  

Issue 33 of Gold Dust, the twice yearly magazine of literature and the arts. The magazine is also available in two printed formats and as a...

Gold Dust 33 ~ Summer 2018  

Issue 33 of Gold Dust, the twice yearly magazine of literature and the arts. The magazine is also available in two printed formats and as a...

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