An online magazine of poetry and short fiction www.harkmagazine.co.uk MANAGING EDITORS Matthew Apperley and Owen Vince ASSISTANT EDITORS Diana Kurakina and Dimitris Tsomokos All rights reserved. Work published remains under the ownership of its respective author. Hark reserves all reproduction rights. 2014
Contents 1 Editorial 3 Keith Hutson Three Poems 6 Jake Campbell Two Poems 8 Amelia Williams Elvis 12 Linda Ashok The blue whale in his body becomes snow 13 Richard Skinner Two Poems 15 Colin Honnor The Magus 16 P B Hughes Last Place 17 Beri Allen-Miller Spree-Stung 19 Jasmin Kirkbride Dear Versailles
25 Andrew Wells Two Poems 27 Richie McCaffery Three Poems 30 Roisin Kelly Dreaming in metaphors 32 Kayla Pongrac Antoinette Among Them
33 Charlotte Stevens Your Poem - Travellers 35 Contributors
Editorial Welcome to Issue Three! When we started HARK in February of this year we had no idea that we would have had made such an impact so early on. The last nine months have been a whirlwind of submissions and hard, rewarding work. Writers from across the globe have sent us their words and we have been humbled by the reception the magazine has thus far received. We are thrilled to bring you our third issue. As ever, our contributors have shown the insight that art achieves through its keen sense of detail. As with both Issue One and Two, the attention paid to the worlds of language, to the exposition of perception through a keen focus on structure, sound and sight is key. We couldn’t be happier with their efforts. Issue Three brings HARK's first year to a close. Having said that, it gives us great pleasure to announce that, from 2015, we will be going into print. With the addition of two assistant editors, we now have a team that can push HARK to the next stage. On that note, we would like to officially announce Diana Kurakina and Dimitris Tsomokos. Diana and Dimitris bring a wealth of knowledge both creative and technical. Dimitris has enabled us to undergo a reworking of the site, which should improve reader experience (please email us with feedback). Diana, given her artistic background has been able to secure professional artwork for Issue Four and to begin work on the design of the magazine. In regards to print, we are shortly going to announce our subscription packages. We have been working hard with printing options to bring you the best value whilst maintaining the high level of quality readers have become accustomed to when reading HARK. More on this to follow in the coming days and weeks. Rest assured that digital content will still be available – in fact, we'll be expanding our online presence significantly. As with Issue Two, both our HARKview and Afterword Essay will feature separately on the site. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to interview poet and novelist, Richard Skinner. His insightful answers cover both the intricate details of his own work and a lively focus on the nature of writing. Keen readers will also notice that Issue Three features a reprint of Charlotte Stevens’ poem, Your Poem - Travellers originally published in Issue Two. Unfortunately, an error occurred in the production of Issue Two, leaving a section of her poem cut off. We offer
our unreserved apologies to Charlotte and hope that readers will enjoy the full version published here.
Yours in letters, Matthew and Owen
Coal Tar Soap Keith Hutson Stink with zing, this bitter little blister by the sink, but every working sunset since the work began, you’ll find me sunk, up to the elbows, in the stuff. I’ve come to love this twilight scrub – carbolic lather sending heavy sessions down the drain; drudgery and me decanted to the stark nirvana of a straight-backed seat, no company, a book of poems interrupted only by a spot of splinter-picking through tobacco smoke, the quasi-comfort of familiar aches and pains: by-products of a life that, like the soap, has never changed.
The gloves are off Keith Hutson Do not be fooled: they’re looking like a proper pair of loafers on the bench, but never do they fully disengage. The cheeky left may loll, skew-whiff, across the napping hammer of the right, but these are bruisers, built to stay in shape, perpetually flexed, ready to fly, put on a show, and elevate a scrap to craft. No one’s watching: slip the rascals on, and feel them float your hands up to your head, like helium. Now you’ll bend a bit, perform a fidget-jig, call it your Ali-shuffle, laugh out loud, then try a jab accompanied by the customary hmmnph! and swagger. That’s the way! Get in! You just can’t help yourself! Soon you’ll want a skipping rope, a heavy bag, a chin.
No Return Keith Hutson He was the future once, and shone with policy-unsullied promise, young as the mums he overwhelmed on walkabout: love on the knock. But now heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s yellow as the leisure centre lights, and dying live upon a civic slab, lined up and least among the sweating set, his jaw locked in a loserâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grin, best suit a body-bag, the badly-buttoned jacket splattered with a blown rosette. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only politics, but even faux-fatalities add up, take their toll; carry us quicker to the final speech, the ultimate defeat.
Hintertuxer Gletscher Jake Campbell Every year, they return to the top of sound trusting their bodies to pods of steel; fluorescent gondolas lithe beneath cables. How the silent heave of wire round bullwheel pulls them through zones of pressure to summits chained together like graphs of heart rates. Above sandbags of cirrus they balance on the brim of slopes, attune to the glacierâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pulse, and before pushing off for the valley below, gorge on that moment of freshness, that silence.
Bootle Organ Jake Campbell Let the sun stub out the day, darkness grab us in its vice. Put a spark to the pyre, lads; the dance of flame on creosote. Cut the cable to the city, lads; wear the night like a cloak. Make yourself a Natterjack, lads; belly to the dunes. Luftwaffe tear through paper dusk; embers glow in eyes of toads. Let this replica city rush and rise to meet them, lads. The lick of bindweed burning; the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pulse in your throat. Stay low, lads, stay starfished; stay silent and wait. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be gone as the Bootle Organs go up like sirens.
Elvis Amelia Williams Elvis sits on his cot and wipes the blood from his face. He has just killed a small boy with long arms who was trying to escape. He pulls his jacket off like a series of scabs and leaves it on the floor. I am sitting on my own cot staring at the letter I am supposed to write for my girlfriend. She wrote to me about the colours she sees when the sun sets and those odd moments when she can’t live with me not being able to watch them with her. I took her virginity before I left and I suppose I should ask how’s school or if she’s pregnant or just sad. Elvis shucks his boots off and clears his throat. Jack’s snoring already. Eddie’s got tower duty. I think Russell was reassigned but maybe he just left. “Percy.” “Huh?” “Who are you named after?” Elvis rolls on his side. He still has a bloody stripe on his cheek. He leaves it sometimes, leaves it on for days. “I don’t know. My dad liked the name. Nobody else had it.” “Huh.” I look back at the paper. I don’t want to ask my girlfriend how she is. She is probably sewing something or asking for more milk in her tea. I can’t remember what milk tastes like. “Are you named after—“ “No.” “No?” Elvis props his large, pale head up with an arm and chuckles. “No. Well maybe. Not like my parents listened to him or anything. I guess they just heard it in passing and it stuck.” I look at Elvis under his starchy army pants and blood. He’s no king. His hair is the kind of blonde that’s the colour of pale skin and he has really small, colourless eyes. He’s taller but I’m stronger. The blood still hasn’t dried. On other boys it might cake and blend with the dirt and scum we can’t avoid, but not Elvis. He always looks as if everything has
only just happened to him; nothing has sunk in. The bunker will never get to him. Elvis stands up to duck outside. The paper is growing into a vile, white creature. It fills up my pillow and turns it to dust. It’s crawling up my arm, edges slicing the skin. I taste pine trees. “Elvis?” “Hmm?” He’s just outside the bungalow, holding the door open. His white head is even whiter as the light comes in behind it, distorted in smoke. He is an angry smoker. “Who was the boy from this morning? The one you caught under the fence?” “I don’t know,” he shrugs. He shrugs a lot. “But don’t you have to make note of it, or something?” “I don’t know. Does anyone?” He turns to finish his cigarette but the paper is leaking into my teeth in pieces, destroying my mouth. “Elvis!” “Perce, if you’re gonna talk come outside.” Outside is the yard. We have been here for almost six weeks. The kids are kept in the hottest corner where there isn’t any shade. All around are barbed fences and big sheets of metal. No one has a key to the gate. Elvis and I and all the other boys live in the second best corner, but not as good as the general’s. His is surrounded by trees. It kind of reminds me of the triangles I used to ding in middle school. At least that’s what we were told it looks like from the sky. A triangle full of good men and bad kids. I don’t see them much because I’m good with wires and machines so I stay inside and do artillery. Some of them get brought in to watch me work, like training. I don’t know what we’re supposed to be training them for. Elvis looks at them behind his sunglasses and sun-bleached uniform and baton. He doesn’t know any kid’s name, he told me, so he can’t talk to them. The kids are all boys, all under twelve years old. They look like they’re made of clothes hangers and clips. I know why they’re here, but I don’t see it. They all look like us. They’re all hungry and wearing strangers’ clothes and don’t understand what they are doing here. We were debriefed
about them. It’s in their blood. Their blood is just worse, less than, impractical. I’m not much into science so I can’t really argue. I am standing next to Elvis on the side without the blood. He looks very young. His earlobe still hasn’t healed and it looks green. He slices it every time he kills a kid. Or he burns himself. He hasn’t taken a drag in a while. “Elvis?” “Jesus Perce.” “What?” “You never get tired of starting conversations?” “Well. No. Can I ask you something?” Elvis laughs at this, but his laugh is more like the wheezing of a dog. He scratches his neck puts a finger to his bloody cheek. He holds it up to his cigarette and the blood is still wet. He’s good about the blood. It hasn’t diseased him yet, I think. “Sure.” “What’s it feel like?” “What’s it feel like?” I stare at my shoes. They are dusty and cold but I haven’t stained them yet. “Well, Percy. I guess, I guess it’s like when you’re walking. And you decide, maybe you don’t want to go your usual way, because you feel like walking and crushing bugs under your shoe and counting all the times gangsters throw their expensive sneakers on the telephone wires and find a different smell. So you turn down some alley you’ve passed up a hundred times. And it turns out it’s great. It’s so different. You hear all these funny conversations out the windows and all the buildings are brick and the stores sell something you want. And you keep walking, and you can see your house and then you’re at the end. And as you’re crossing the street and there’s a dog on the other side of the street.” Elvis kneels in the dirt. He puts his cigarette out and begins drawing circles and lines at my feet. He’s drawing stick figures. “And it’s the greatest dog you ever laid eyes on. It’s big and black and it’s got a crazy tail and big blue eyes. And it sees you. And you want it so bad. It hasn’t got a collar, no one’s around so you know it’s okay. And then the dog starts running towards you and
it’s in the middle of the street and a truck comes up and rips in half. And its bones get thrown in your face. You’re covered in intestine shit and muscle. You’re just kneeling like you were expecting your wildest desire and all you get is guts. So you go home. And you can’t feel your bed because now everything feels like the stomach and pelvis of that dog. It’s like that.” Elvis stands up and sighs. I realize I’ve cried just a little bit. He throws the butt of his smoke towards the kids’ tents. He’s drawn four stick figures in the ground. “I’ve never had sex before you know, Perce. And neither will they.” Elvis walks into the dark. He does this a lot, I think because he likes knowing no one can find him when he’s quiet. He’s a ghost and then he’s gone. I go back inside. Russell must’ve switched with Kurt because he’s reclined, reading. He likes books a lot, he says, even more than before he enlisted. “Hey Perce.” “Hey. What’s the read?” “Oh, well nothing classic. It’s about a girl lost in the woods.” “Hmm.” “And, well she’s terrified but the loneliness, I don’t know it eats at her. So she’s, just, hollow. She doesn’t care anymore. So the book’s not really that good. I’m only half through and I know how it ends.” “How?” “She kills herself.” Russell goes back to his pages. The paper is still on the cot, crinkled over my pillow. I smooth it out. I’ve bit through my lip but the blood’s not so bad. I kiss the paper and it leaves a mark that looks like lipstick or a small flower. I fold the paper back again and slip it under my pillow. I sleep. In the morning Elvis is back in his cot, hiding under his jacket and hissing as he breathes.
The blue whale in his body becomes snow Linda Ashok My father has a strange habit of burning colours till they smell black; sweet and rich, contaminating my sinuses. His strange obsession with the eyes of insects and planets in the orbital broke our roof into rain in winter Festering in the old bruises Of my mother who is not a poet When he opened his mouth To the dentist, his inner reflexes Stretched and pulled Something of the likes Of a sea mammal, had started to break its breath His body at once consolidated Into rolls of answers, my mom Looked up for questions to feel them This matter of last study break When I had come to New Zealand And dreamt of him filling his throat Like an ice-can devoured blocks of snow
Corsican Ramâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Skull Richard Skinner The two halves of the skull stitched together like hems taken up. Edges of eye sockets delicate frills of milk teeth, an eelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tiny incisors. Whirls of starburst nebulae deep in the cochlear. Hairline cracks run like river deltas across the blanched bone. Horns like bark, growth lines a moraine incrementally ascending a high col. Nose and jaw bones, extended fronds, gape open in a frozen baa.
The Summer of Red Mercedes Richard Skinner Your chestnut hair flared in the sun, an oil spill in the ocean. Beta-amyloids flushed our spines, a mass of crill surfaced, pink-gold. Legs pinned back like wings, our bodies systems of pulleys and fulcrums. Your pubic bone lifted, a swanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s head, and after, we cleaved apart, like slate.
The Magus Colin Honnor Where you must arrive, there you will become it is not as you have thought, for though changed you are also changed, seeking your miracle the mages, the masked allotropes, the bitter paths all descend to white marble, dazzling sands. This gnarled stick, worms its way through shingle to sprout to green in the badlands of your thought five white flowers become five white birds perching in heavenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s branch and cawing their chant worms, grubs, maggots; maggots worms grubs Where you must arrive, there you will become it is not as you have thought, for though changed you are also changed, seeking your miracle the mages, the masked allotropes, the bitter paths all descend to white marble, dazzling sands.
Last Place P B Hughes She came to be weightless for the first time, clear in her mind it was not a test of endurance or a race There at the end of an unmade track in a body she was required to hate. She stepped into a skirt by the bathersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; steps a cloud like a shadow overhead the surface of the pond shredded by rain the sepia water a second skin When the guard called time other swimmers got out Night rose from the water cooled folded up
Spree-Stung Beri Allen-Miller Is it wrong to wish on lambs skin? Honey, I am not like Audrey Horne Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not dripping dew and money, a model of maudlin. My womb is full with old blooms, the coarse gold squeaks of gates gives me tooth ache. I tip my head presenting where sound is spat into silence a basket for pills, ethanol, fingers and footsteps my eyes close holding my hieroglyphs close burnt foil petals enclose a harming pip with scars so darling I lick the walls with this bloody tongue pretending I know how to button a shirt I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to be on my back - Letting Camus blow me out on my hands and knees head back from the pressure of the oncoming traffic jam of howls Before we begin, I want to make it very clear my senses have no limits. I can hear countries, swarms and pulse after pulse beneath my head or beneath my feet or beneath foundations of worlds I can hear it all. I dream about your betrayals and the ills of distant men
pyramids of truth - reflecting only defective self portraits the wrinkles of paths, I feel Enclosing throat-lanes that choke on your future meals and I judge you with an acrid pink in the eye. A bookend: our princedom by the sea never should have been a repeat, the four posts peering through the withdrawing windows stabbing the feet of fat grey skies the first train ticket isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t to be found buried under wishes itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d never been.
Dear Versailles Jasmin Kirkbride 12th June 2006 Dear Versailles, Once I thought we would never leave. You were the heart of us all, holding us together by one thread to make us look like family. Yet, today we drove away, disparate in four separate cars, parts of a whole that wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t function without you. Around the front lawn of moss and daisies, pansies have begun to bloom and the trees have leafed into life again, a green and dappled haven, fortress to your sturdy walls. The gate latched with that familiar swing-thwuck, my feet resting on the first bar from the ground as I rode it closed for the last time. Driving away, my mother gave two beeps on the horn as we rounded the fast-corner, keeping tradition as we broke away. We are trying to say goodbye to the empty house and the inhabitant who no longer lives there without forming the words, pretending weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be back. A hard lie to swallow: documents have been signed to confirm that you are not ours. Nor ever were. Nor ever will be again. Yours so faithfully, Arianne
3rd December 2007 Dear Versailles, Last night I sat at table with my parents. There was something in a half-raised hand, a flicker of eye-light, which made me think of you, as if the veil of arguments had been lifted briefly over and left a taste, bittersweet, like a life not taken. Later, in the dark, I had a dream that was mostly memory, of the first and last time I saw my parents dancing, under the watchful eyes of the worn beams, in that room which
was the heart of you. My mother wore a black and white skirt, full when my father spun her, his body lean with youth. I hoped then that we might be mended, like a long-forgotten heirloom taken from the top shelf of the kitchen to the clocksmith. If the thread of family you tied around us had not torn, I think I would still believe these things were possible, but in the world without your safety net, we are not one object anymore, but three or sometimes two. A rare dinner. Distinct and disconnected things, momentarily undisturbed by the cuckoos from your garden which haunt us still. Such was our meeting last night, when my mother looked to my father with eyes like the sea. If we had been within the warmth of your walls, that tear would have split, the years of unspoken feeling released. As it is, my father wanders back out into the night on a lame white horse, a ghost of himself, unmoored like the rest of us in the your wake. The full repercussions of your death are, as yet, unquantified, but it feels like in your absence something sacred is dying. Yours in all faith, Arianne
29th October 2008 Dear Versailles, When the wood-pigeons sing in chorus, I am back in your gardens. Even if they are rejoicing in the shower of a late-autumn storm, I feel the heat of summer. Just the same, certain shades of dappled sunlight hurt the mind that refuses to forget. Not that amnesia is desirable, of course, it is better to have known, so they sayâ&#x20AC;Ś The hearth continues to burn lower. Mother misses you dreadfully, even still. Having known your corridors longer, she feels the loss more keenly. In protest, she has made herself stuck fast in an unmade bed, a screen casting out fruitless stories in an attempt to distract her thoughts from themselves. When the stories are over, she searches for houses
in that blue-white glow, slowly ticking off the boxes of similarity, but none of them are you. Meanwhile, my life has made me hard and grey, a distant relative to everyone, something lost and hauling itself through the past as if the present were not there and the future no more than a weight to bear. I do keep meaning to visit. Yours faithfully, Arianne
17th July 2010 Dear Versailles, They say in the town that your residents will not stick, that you have been infected with transience. They say the sleepers within your walls wake to find their beds rattling a foot away from the wall. Some say that the ghosts of previous tenants are riled by our being so unjustly removed. Others say that our abandonment was a curse, leaving you a sad and empty beast. I am sorry if that is true. They say, too, that the Lord who owns your bones and mortar has felled the trees and torn away the climbing roses. Somebody said the pool, once so proudly emblazoned with our family crest, is gone, drowned in cement and the movement of time. And so, though I visit the graves at the half-mile church and lay flowers on them beneath the chimes of the church tower, I cannot bring myself to come to you. A grave is a hidden thing, easy to see. But you decay above ground, an honest corpse, hard to look upon. Yours faithfully, as ever, Arianne
5th December 2011 Dear Versailles, It is near to Christmas and I miss the tower of green fir we used to assemble. Holy times, sacred to The Clan, when we would all gather and uncle would play records while my parents had their first and last dance. And our matriarch, wreathed in blankets upon the couch, the dying queen of the last homey house in all the world, her consort Wolf lain across her lap, conforming with her failing body in limb and paw. Wolf died last month. Where he lies, I do not know. Uncle, who was taking care of him, cried like a child behind closed walls. We remember you softly, Versailles, over whispered cups of tea, drunk in the haven of family, and as we talk, it is as if you were torn from us only yesterday and Motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eyes turn again. Mostly, Mother has remembered how to rise from her unstuck bed, but still she looks for the house that is you and at the same time something new. I can see it in her face, the weight of not having made a life in your likeness. So the burden passes to me. But how can I build a world as you were? How could I hold that strength in my palms and not let it slip, even for a moment? Yours faithfully now and always, Arianne
23rd July 2012 Dear Versailles, A still summer rain falls from the sky, flattening the world to a series of translucent cards and the sound of droplets on roof tiles. You can hear that sound most clearly at this time of year, unharmed by the winds of the other unripe seasons. I open my window and listen. Another death has visited, bringing with it another distancing from you. Great Grandmother had a bear that she hugged to her until they shared a size. A shrunken
thing she was in the end, spat out by the ages, made child again by fluff and stuffing, made gone and cold by morphine. Yet the bear remains. By will and a gentle shrugging of duty he came from others to our doorstep. He sits now on a couch, wrapped in Great Grandmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s old blanket, staring out of the window as he always has, empty without her arms to guide him. Bears were never taboo in our household. I have bears still. Many years ago, when mother was ill, she gave me her bear for hugs. I suppose now, though it occurred to me only peripherally at the time, that she was bestowing upon me a keepsake in case she died. Of course, she did not die, but the bear became an observer to the intimate life we lead, mother and child out on an island of terraced houses. He was a trustee of our past. Just as you were. We buried Great Grandmother in the half-mile churchyard. I still did not walk down the road to visit you. Yours as faithfully as ever, Arianne
29th October 2013 Dear Versailles, I found myself in your gardens today, quite by accident. I was driving past, by need and chance, and noticed there were building works underway. The builders had left for the day and I walked through the drive, where the five-bar gate was wedged rotting open. The grass was brown and long unkempt, the walls bare and flaking. My trees, those great gods I would climb and sit in for hours, were gone entirely. Stolen glances through the windows revealed that the old tiles had been torn up; the Aga, the very heart of things, removed. There was nothing left of us in you anymore. We have not grown into any other house the way we grew into you: no handprints in the cement, no windows through the walls. The yellow caricatures of visitors long past are no
longer pasted over the doorframes. And yet these things have now been torn out, covered and replaced by others. The realisation came, as I ambled your wilding gardens, that you were always a shell and nothing more. It was us - we - our clan and blood and fire that made you who you were. Her blood, our native queen who wasted on the couch that last Christmas and who met her end in part by trying to hold your great weight together. She held us all, and for us all it is she we miss, not the cave we called our home. We abandoned you not because we had to at the last, but because you were nothing without her, a sad canvas. The pool was covered by a great sheet of plastic, weighed down by fair-blowing leaves. So they had not filled it in. Tugging at the cover, pulling upwards, I tried to tear a hole back into the past. A great ripping noise and series of guttural pops shouted across the still fields as the steel rods holding it down came loose. Beneath, the water was greenish, settling into its winter murk, and for a while I stood, waiting for my eyes to see. Still at the bottom, as if nibbled away by tiny fish, was the glowering white outline of the crest, painted by my grandfather, the ancestral hub of us, our clansmanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s banner. It thrummed with life, speaking just to me, a thing that was ours, and even yours for a time. It was the last legacy of our being there. Like you, a desolate thing on its own. Yet unlike you, somehow powerful still despite these great changes, stapled round my signet finger, grafted deeper onto soul and sinew. I heard you, the way you were, the warmth of your once-upon-a-star singing so loud inside. Missing and longing burned helpless out of my eyes, scorching cheeks and singeing grass, until the great emptiness was reborn. A remembered fullness, from a time long passed, that was taught to me by those before and taught to them by ancestors from other lands, an essence of clan, from my bear-hugging great grandmother to the failing matriarch, to my own mother and then at last to me. I saw then that I never needed to dwell inside your empty walls the way I have. It is safe to shake off your transience, Versailles. And as you do, so I will shake off mine. With love, Arianne
The Water Mother's Song Andrew Wells It is an autumn evening. I have been walking on my blood. I am a kind and dutiful daughter, yet every morning for six years I have been beaten. She forbade me buy water from the carriers, now I journey as far as the mountain village where there is a ring-stone well, so that my child can drink. My child has the fever, and she will have died by the time I make it back. And all that will be left is morning after morning of the whip-crack. The well is dark and quiet and deep, I wonder how I would not feel when water over has me sleep. It is an autumn night. I have been walking on my blood.
By a wall in the forest Andrew Wells I held shards of darkness in my palms, and swallowed them. all I can see, a petal drifting over the wall after itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d hung in the moonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s splendour. even that wall diminishes; night-film spreads over my eyes. veins thinned and black, pulling bone out frosted twigs laid flat.
Over the moon Richie McCaffery On a hill-path, mica winks like a spiv, I’m reminded of the year your mother left and you joined us, the geeks, at school. You began to collect rocks, fossils at first then to trump us all, your paper-boy wage blown on a speck of mooted moon-rock as big and impressive as a desiccated fly – you might as well have been to the moon yourself for all of the pride you showed. It’s only now I can see you needed someone to go the distance, to go out of this world for you if only they would vow to return.
Logie kirkyard Richie McCaffery The gates to Logie kirkyard locked, yet I lean in, to the warm balm of eucalyptus breathing heavily â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the scent reminds me of the grease I used on the cork of my clarinet when I was young and I recall my embouchure, steeling a shaky lip, blowing deeper than my voice.
Aithrey loch Richie McCaffery I walk all the way around the loch like a fly skirting a pint of beer and I see lovers on benches, joggers, pram-pushers and duck-feeders. The berries are out in all their shame and I think that in all of this it took just one rogue-red drupe to fall, and that was your death from a clot.
Dreaming in Metaphors Roisin Kelly I have dreamt my own nakedness and that of other women tumbling in sea shallows and forest pools.
My fists are blood-slick. Dirt lies below the fingernails. You pressed the gun into my hand when I asked you
and lead me now to a field where you tell me I will not be disturbedâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; you understand my penance.
I cross the field beneath June stars. A string band plays by a river bend.
I find my way to the monkey puzzle tree sit cross-legged in the soft dry dirt.
What does it mean? The trigger-pull, a last scrap of consciousness, the smell of grass at night.
Antoinette Among Them Kayla Pongrac My friend Kirby asked me to transport his collection of marionettes from one state to another. He was concerned they would be dismembered in the U-Haul. He came over to help load them into my car; the puppets were carefully laid shoulder to shoulder across my backseat. Now I’m driving north on I-65 and I swear that I can hear them: their arms and legs flailing, their strings threatening to snap, their control bars rattling like tambourines. And Antoinette! I can see her so clearly through my rearview mirror; her mouth is moving, and I think she is screaming. I want to call Kirby but like the true puppeteer he is, he’s in hiding. I keep driving. Suddenly I can feel the sensation of half a dozen strange attachments clinging to my skin —their strings become my strings, their movements become my movements, and slowly I begin to take my hands off the wheel.
Your Poem â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Travellers Charlotte Stevens Suppose it is always historical, This long-shore drift, this new world, and the ways In which, sedimented, we come to it. When our crates came pouring off the ships and Our axes struck them open on the sand, Our once bare feet, hands, bare-arses scrambled Up the scree, squiff limbs and joints Clattering over the foreshore shingle. Then from behind the beyond crackle-thorns, Dune settlements, our rudimentary Battlements, our peeping faces saw, there, Our shoreline change and an exchange of sorts Took place on this down-drifting patch of beach. A baseline fort and harbour; in our hands A few sum of seeds and stones, nothing more With wealth being the rush of river water, Wealth being the sand upon which fish land, Wealth being those things slipped through our cupped hands. Stone by stone, in a patchwork of deaf-blind Languages in which all meaning was lost Yet was ceaselessly becoming, flowing, Stone by stone, this sound fort, by us, was built, Asymmetries abounding in its forms. Then there were signposts, paths, rights of way, roads, And he is walking on them, my lovely man,
Feeling every crack beneath his too thin soles, Feeling the sun heavy on his un-sunned arms. In searching for shaded space, we find this Common ground: collaboration, you, me, Proffering such cosmopolitan ideals Of fairness, justice, rights as accretion, As negotiation. Fingers picking At cracks between stones, we cross lines, find brinks. The sea beyond us, the cool green mountains, Probing the boundaries of the possible, Offer the luxury of things pending, Complicated things held in abeyance By our consent for now. At least for now. And behind him, as he turns to look at me Camera cupped, picture caught instantly, The blue sky, whose beauty vast and promise of Enduring peace is, now, near enough for him, In it birds lifting, vaulting up, spiralling.
Contributors Beri Allen-Miller is a writer/photographer living in North Hertfordshire with two dogs. She was born in Manchester and is a product of alternative education. Writing in many different ways for many different reasons has allowed her the means to communicate where and what she felt unable to before. Linda Ashok is a poet from Hyderabad, India. She tweets @thebluelimit Jake Campbell lives and works in Chester. His debut pamphlet of poetry, Definitions of Distance, was published by Red Squirrel Press in 2012. A recipient of New Writing North's Andrew Waterhouse award, he is a founding co-editor of the poetry magazine, Butcher's Dog. Colin Honnor appears regularly on the Web and on paper. A former editor of Poetry and Audience, he runs a fine arts press in the Cotswolds. P B Hughes writes poems and stories. Her work has been collected in anthologies published by Faber and Shorts Books. She lives in London and is working on a novel. Find her on twitter @pbhughes Keith Hutson lives in West Yorkshire, runs horticulture clubs for schools, and campaigns for sports opportunities for all. Having written for many years, he has recently begun performing and submitting his work. Roisin Kelly was born in Northern Ireland in 1990 but has mostly lived south of the border. After completing her MA in Writing at the National University of Ireland, Galway, she moved to Cork City where she continues to write both poetry and fiction. Previous and upcoming publications in which her work is featured include the Bohemyth, Abridged 0-37, Aesthetica Magazine and the Raving Beauties Anthology (Bloodaxe 2015).
Jasmin Kirkbride writes long and short literary and science fiction. She has had work featured on the cover of Open Pen Magazine and recently won Third Place in the Kilburn Literary Festival Flash Fiction Competition. She lives in London and has an MA in Ancient History. You can find her on Twitter @jasminkirkbride Richie McCaffery lives in Stirling and has just submitted his PhD thesis on the Scottish poets of World War Two at the University of Glasgow. He is the author of two poetry pamphlets - Spinning Plates (HappenStance Press, 2012), Ballast Flint (2013) and the booklength collection Cairn (Nine Arches Press, 2014). Kayla Pongrac is an avid writer, reader, tea drinker, and record spinner. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Vinyl Poetry, Split Lip Magazine, Oblong, HOOT, Right Hand Pointing, and Nat. Brut, among others. When she's not writing creatively, she's writing professionallyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;for two newspapers and a few magazines in her hometown of Johnstown, PA. To read more of Kayla's work, visit www.kaylapongrac.com or follow her on Twitter @KP_the_Promisee. Richard Skinner has published three novels, all with Faber & Faber, and several poems in various print and online magazines. "Parma Violets" was longlisted for the 2013 National Poetry Competition. His poetry collection, 'the light user scheme', is published by Smokestack.' He is on twitter @RichardNSkinner and his personal website is http://richardskinner.weebly.com/ Charlotte Stevens is a London-based lawyer by day and aspiring poet by night, or whenever she gets the chance. You can follow her on twitter @CEGStevens. Andrew Wells, born 20th November 1996, is currently a student of English Literature, Philosophy & Ethics, English Language, and Creative Writing at the Howard of Effingham Sixth Form in Surrey, UK. He has been published by, or is forthcoming in, magazines which include Dagda Publishing, The Brasilia Review, and Map Points. He takes his coffee
black, with no sugar. Amelia Williams is a San Francisco, CA native currently assimilating to Canadian culture. She is definitely one of those annoying vegans. She owes much of her success to her family and compulsion for reading. She would one day like to live in Mexico. Orange is her favourite colour.