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the online magazine of the Lampeter Creative Writing Centre

issue 4/ JANUARY 2012

www.lampeter-review.com/

Jacob Polley • David Vann • Anna Crowe • Thomas Chapman • Margery Kivel • Lindsay Zier-Vogel • John Glenday • Rachel Trezise • Sarah Hudis • Keith Morris • Ian Elliot • Matthew Mensley • Emma Baines • Janette Ayachi • Samuel Brenton • Helen Calcutt • J a m e s L u c h t e • A m i t C h a u d h u r i • St e v e n B e r k o f f


THE LAMPETER REVIEW

The online magazine of the Lampeter Creative Writing Centre www.lampeter-review.com | info@lampeter-review.com EDITED by: Tom Chapman EDITORIAL BOARD: Dik Edwards, John Lavin, Ros Hudis, Chris Cornwell DESIGNED by: Constantinos Andronis (www.c-andronis.gr, constantinos.alpha@gmail.com) COVER PAGE ARTWORK: Constantinos Andronis (www.c-andronis.gr, constantinos.alpha@gmail.com) Š Respective authors


Chris Bendon In issue 2 of The Lampeter Review we published some poetry by Chris Bendon. Last November Chris passed away. Chris was an extraordinary man and poet. He lived alone and almost deferentially in Lampeter and yet had acquired an international reputation. His most recent work (3 volumes) was published by The Saltsburg University Press. His work is held in very high regard; among accolades was the winning of the WWF/ Guardian Prize which was judged by Ted Hughes and Peter Redgrove and The Hugh MacDiarmid Memorial Trophy. He will be greatly missed by those who love exciting and challenging writing.


Table of Contents 6

EDITORIAL - Thomas Chapman

8

The Sewing Basket - Jacob Polley

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Transmission - David Vann

16

The Prevailing Wind / My Mother, Cooking - Anna Crowe

19

The Green Beret - Thomas Chapman

44

Laundry / Constructs - Margery Kivel

47

Sixteen Kilometers from Neudorf, Saskatchewan - indsay Zier-Vogel

51

Mussels in Brine / Ill Will - John Glenday

53

Telephones - Rachel Trezise

55

Tea / Forever Young - Sarah Hudis

57

Landscape Photography - Keith Morris / Ian Elliot / Matthew Mensley

68

Relics - Emma Baines

70

The Dog and Bone - Billy Roche 4

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75

Room in Glasgow - Janette Ayachi

77

Town by the Harbour - Samuel Brenton

81

Wind / Morning Chorus - Helen Calcutt

84

Dawn - James Luchte

86

The Key of Dreams - Amit Chaudhuri

89

Uprising - Steven Berkoff

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Editorial Thomas Chapman

‘Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.’ - W.H. Auden. It is a beautiful moment when you encounter literature which succeeds in being both acutely aware, and also effortlessly authentic. Writings such as these rarely originate from the swagger of an ego, but rather, they are an irrepressible exploration of life, inviting the reader into a moment so rich and vibrant that all else fades. This idea of literary authenticity was a key consideration when compiling this issue of The Lampeter Review and thankfully we were fortunate to receive submissions from a number of writers capable of writing in such a captivating, evocative way. I believe a key to this magazine’s success has been not only its dedication to the quality of writing, but also its willingness to be flexible in its parameters and to never shy away from challenging or provocative material. Indeed, literature’s crowning glory must surely be its very ability to provoke, invoke, challenge and expand the outlook of its readership. A factor in being able to achieve this goal has been the beautifully varied demographic of our contributors, with work coming in from all over the world and bringing with it some quite striking contrasts of cultural influence. For example, we are delighted to announce the inclusion of Transmission, a gentle, reflective short story written by the award winning Alaskan writer David Vann, author of international bestseller Legend of a Suicide. We also welcome to the magazine, Scottish poet, John Glenday, whose striking poetry is as memorable as it is tender. From New England we have Margery Kivel, whose poems explore the human condition with an uncommon wisdom and humility. And then from the valleys of South Wales, we have a poignant short story from the award winning Welsh writer, Rachel Trezise as well as the vibrant, authentic piece, The Dog and Bone, written by the highly talented Irish playwright and actor, Billy Roche. And then in a new move for the review we are publishing an essay written by the internationally acclaimed writer and Indian classical musician, Amit Chaudhuri. In keeping with the diversity which typifies this issue, we decided to include some landscape photography, featuring, among others, the work of the well-respected, Welsh based photographer Keith Morris.

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In addition to the range of geographical and cultural differences, we also have a quite striking variety of styles and themes; from the wistfully sensitive poem The Sewing Basket, by award winning English poet, Jacob Polley, to the challenging, epic memorial poem, Uprising, by internationally renowned actor, writer and director, Steven Berkoff. This poem plunges us headlong into the brutal, hellish reality of 1943 Warsaw, which was the eventual scene of a heroic uprising against the Nazis. The inclusion of this piece serves as an excellent continuation of the previous issue’s exploration of poetic form, especially that of the long poem, which arguably facilitates deeper levels of immersion and identification with subject matter. Of course, hidden among these remarkable pieces of literature, you will also discover some hidden gems from lesser known writers, whom we are equally delighted to present. For among today’s unknown writers, must inevitably lie tomorrow’s literary greats. To accommodate the breadth and variety of contributions in this issue, we have extended the normal length. This is not a departure from previous issues, but rather a continuation of the magazine’s dedication to publishing excellent, challenging and diverse material, while always maintaining a balance between the work of well-known writers and that of fledgling talent. Thomas Chapman - Guest Editor

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The Sewing Basket Jacob Polley

It was a silk-lined drum with a braided lid like a saucepan’s that gave a rope’s creak when I lifted it to look for the tape measure my mother would send me to fetch, darling can you please, from the sewing basket I loved for making the spare, odd and offcut treasure. Last night I would have asked her if I could where the sewing basket had gone. Yes, if I could have called my mother up in the dark I would have asked what was left of those chewed-looking nuggets of brass and silver, snipped from jacket cuffs and army coats; for the unexpectedness of the basket’s weight in my hands had come back to me, its base like a place mat, concentrically ridged, and a little less than rigid, and the sheer heft of its containing strange buttons, cotton reels, loose needles and pins: so many small and losable things.

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Transmission David Vann

When I was twenty-six, I drove a Jeep pickup, out of deference to my grandfather, who never stopped driving his, even after it had died and become permanently parked on the front lawn. He’d still go out and sit in it, fiddle around in the glove compartment as if he’d lost something out there. The pickup was plain brown, I don’t know what year, but old, with long scratches down its sides from hunting on narrow fire roads lined by brush and dead branches. He had it parked facing the street and, beyond that, the lake he’d lived on all his life. He’d wave at the neighbors as they passed by on their evening walks. I was staying with him and my grandmother for the summer. Between teaching jobs—like many others on the fringes of the public school system, I had no idea if or where I would be hired back in the fall—I needed a place to stay. When my grandparents offered me the small apartment above their garage, I accepted. I cleaned out the debris of over sixty years, the accumulated important forgotten but saved remnants of eleven lives, all told. Included somehow was the collection of hexagon-barreled rifles my great grandfather had been storing once upon a time for his uncle. Great-aunt Bertha had photos of high school sweethearts preserved in mothballs as well as a favorite pair of boots, her first math test, a homemade sling-shot, and a huge wad of bee’s wax. None of these heirlooms and relics of my many relatives made any sense to me. All the garbage of a life doesn’t make a life. So I spent more than three days wading through all these precious crap piles with the intention of sorting, of elimination, before I realized none of it could ever be thrown away. I cleared a space in the garage below by piling tools and trinkets perilously high, then simply moved everything down in boxes. All ten by twelve feet of the apartment, in addition to the closet, sink, and toilet, would be mine. As I was carting boxes down to the garage, however, I noticed my grandfather heading out for the second time that day to his pickup. I noticed also that all the movements he made were exact replicas of the ones he had made on his first trip. After opening the kitchen screen door slowly and nudging the doormat out of the way with his boot (he wore hunting boots, though the temperature was in the high eighties), he straightened up on the porch, halfway between 9

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myself and the pickup, not looking at either of us, his large belly and thin face in profile, and stared down at the cracked pavement of the driveway. I don’t think the pavement concerned him, however. He looked absentmindedly at one of the buttons on his thick flannel shirt (the same button each time, third from the top), rubbed at his ears for a while with his left hand, pulled out his hankie with his right, folded it and put it back, then turned suddenly to face the pickup, his head back a little, as if he were having to sight it from far off. Then he took a quick glance all around, missed me apparently, and walked slowly down the driveway, left hand in his pocket. His right hand was dangling, ready, because when he reached the pickup where it sat parked on the front lawn, facing the street, he reached up and gave a tug at the rear corner of the tailgate, just to be sure it was locked and wasn’t going to flop down. Hand on the gate, resting there now, he surveyed the lake for fifteen or twenty minutes, which made me put down the box I was holding. He waved at several folks walking or driving by, always with that right hand in a single sideways motion, and returned it to the gate. Another quick glance all around and he moved tentatively toward the door on the driver’s side. Once the door was open, he was in, one leg at a time, using the door for support. “Well that’s interesting,” I said to myself. So I went and joined him. I tapped on the passenger window and he motioned with a flick upward of his hand for me to come in. He wasn’t wearing his seat belt, same as all the years he had actually driven. “Lake’s pretty high this year,” he said. “Lot of rain?” I asked. He nodded. “Used to be the lake was clear. Clear Lake. That’s its name, you know, and there was a time it was actually clear.” He looked at me to see if I was getting the joke. I smiled. “Were there many powerboats back then?” I asked. He sat back stiffly against the seat and folded his arms. “No. Not many powerboats. Just a few of us trying to waterski behind fifteen-horse fishing motors.” He checked his side mirror, gazing at the garage, perhaps, or at my grandmother in the kitchen window. We relaxed a little, settled in, listened to the thick mats of algae clogging up the powerboats. 10

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“Used boards to ski on. Just plain old boards that we’d whittled up a bit.” “Did that work?” I asked. “Did that work,” he said, repeating those words aloud for all to hear. Then he chuckled.

He looked over at me and I smiled again. Then it was time to drive. My grandfather put his left hand up on the steering wheel and fiddled with the ignition key with his right. Somehow he never actually turned it. “Well,” he said. “That was some trip. That last opening weekend, when Gary came down and Doug Lampson and his boy. I don’t think there was a legal buck on that entire mountain.” “Pretty scarce, all right,” I said. I had been the only one to fire a shot that weekend, and I was only shooting at trees, pretending there was a buck, five shots fired on the run, exciting and relatively harmless. “Except, of course, the one you got a few shots at. But still, that’s only one.” I wondered whether he suspected the truth. None of the others were shooting at deer anymore, either; they just hadn’t admitted it to each other yet. I knew for a fact that Doug Lampson’s boy had let a three point pass within fifty yards that trip and not even put a shell in the chamber. “Next year, I hear we’re going to get even more in the way of rain.” “That’s a lot of rain,” I said. “Say, how’s your mom doing these days? You know, the first time I met her, she was going to school with your dad, there, and they had come to visit.” I waited, but it seemed that was it for the story. “Sounds nice,” I finally said. “Yeah, by gosh, she didn’t like that fishing much.” “No, she didn’t. I remember a picture of her holding a king crab by its claws up on Adak. I wasn’t born yet then, of course, but she certainly did not look pleased.” 11

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My grandfather chuckled and rubbed at his ear. I began to feel a little tense, because at this point we had exhausted all our familiar topics. If I focused on the dust on the windshield, I could almost imagine there was not a cyclone fence on the other side of the road, impairing our view of the lake. Dust like thin haze, a California summer, and my father and grandfather would have taken only a few steps past the hedge to cross what was then a dirt road. They slipped through bright green tules not yet covered in foam and slime and descended into clear water. Red-winged blackbirds swung on those tules, mockingbirds up high—ancient mockingbirds, different than the ones now—ducks in close, deer and even children come down to drink at the water’s edge, lap, lap, lapping with their bright red tongues. “The lake must have looked pretty different before,” I said. “Yeah, I imagine so,” he said. “How different, would you say?” “Oh, not that different, I suppose.” Years earlier, my grandfather dipping the newborn babe, my father, up to its armpits in the still-clear waters. My grandfather a dentist, feeling qualified in the other medical professions as well. A trip for mudcats much warned against by obstetricians but taken. “Do you remember your father on the lake?” I asked. “What’s that?” “I’m sorry. I was just wondering whether my great-grandfather liked fishing on the lake, too.” “He fished a little,” my grandfather said. “He liked to sit out here on the porch.” Out here on the porch. A photo of my great-grandfather and me when I’m five and he’s ninety-five. I’m sitting on his knee, here on the porch. He’s very tall. Two Roys. One coming in, one going out. Though you can’t tell in the photo, he’s had a sinus operation recently, and I will have one twenty years down the road. A bond that transcends time. 12

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“Mudcats?” I ask. “A few mudcats,” my grandfather admits. “The lantern at night on the pier? Mudcats then?” “I suppose we went out late a few times. That’s when they bite best, you know. A few worms and maybe a full moon; you can still get the occasional mudcat that way. We went out a few times ourselves, didn’t we?” “I remember,” I said. “That was fun.” “Yeah, by gosh.” Time to drive again. The hand fiddling at the keys, other hand sliding across the upper rim of an unmoving wheel, describing the arc. And what went first? U-joint? Valves? Transmission? “There was one year, there,” my grandfather began, “the lake came all the way up. It made it clear to the second step of the porch and flooded the driveway.” “Wow,” I said. “That’s incredible. I can’t imagine that.” “It came down pretty good.” I adjusted my side mirror until I could see my grandmother. She was staring out at us, or perhaps the lake. The fingers of one hand were pressed gently against her lips, her thumb hooked beneath her several chins: her contemplative pose. And what was she thinking? She was one unit and over sixty years short of a BA in History at Fresno State. She read Michener’s books now, all of them, and practiced being uncomplaining in her complaints. A family joke, that bit about ‘uncomplaining in her complaints,’ and not a very nice one, at that. But the truth is I knew very little about her. A kind of crime, it felt like, not to know my own grandparents, but when exactly was the opportunity to know them, when did conversation ever slip enough to let us say something? “I see Grandma in the window,” I said. My grandfather nodded and wiped his hand over his face. He looked out at the lake. 13

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“Yep,” he said. “Looking out at the lake, I suppose.” “How did you meet her?” I asked. This was a question all offspring and offspring of offspring were allowed to ask, I realized. I simply hadn’t thought of it before. “We had some mutual friends at school, and we decided to get married after a while.” “Mutual friends?” I asked. “Yeah, she had some of the same friends I had. We were both in the church there, in Fresno.” “What did your future look like then?” I asked. My grandfather stared at me. “I’m sorry,” I said. “That sounds strange, I know, and I don’t mean to ask too much, but what did you see then, what did you imagine when you thought about marrying Grandma? Did you see this house, here, and the lake?” “Is this a question you ask your students?” I laughed. “No, but I guess it sounds like that, doesn’t it?” “Every occupation has its hazards,” he said and chuckled. Then he adjusted his side mirror. “Well, I don’t know,” he said. “I may have to think about that one.” “I’m sorry,” I said. “I guess I’m just wondering for myself.” “What about your job? Do you know yet where you’ll be schoolteaching?” “No.” My grandfather nodded. I stretched my legs a little and he took off his cap and looked at it resting there on his knee. His head was nearly bald, and shapeless as a potato, the same as my own would be very soon. 14

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My grandfather alone in Fresno, searching the pleasant bland faces at a church social, not daring to hope, and yet suddenly my grandmother appears. She’s lit up like Christmas, outlined in possibility, holding a small paper plate of deviled-ham finger sandwiches. She removes the waxed paper and, in successive outlines, blazing, my grandfather’s future, and her future, the house, the lake, kids, the Jeep, radios, boats all clear, finally, obvious and real. And what was her vision? “Well,” my grandfather said. “I don’t know what kind of a future I thought about then. I can’t remember.” He fiddled with the brim of his cap, looked at the inside, rubbing one thumb over the material, then looked at the top, sighed, and put it back on. “I do remember a spot of vanilla ice cream on the counter. This was right after I asked your grandma to marry me; we went out for ice cream. And I remember staring at this one spot, right in front of me. It was dried out a little, like freezer burn, and I have no idea what I was thinking. That’s always been my clearest memory.” “Huh,” I said. I was holding my breath, waiting for more, not wanting him to stop. The whole thing was seeming a lot less far-fetched. My grandfather was starting to seem like a real person, a guy who was staring at nothing and panicking, just like me. But my grandfather did stop, of course. That was it. He pulled the handle and stepped out, one leg at a time, while I stared at the whiskers on the back of his neck. They were white and gray. He didn’t swing the door, but pressed it shut until the lock clicked. I was out and following. “I do that, too,” I said. “I remember turning the corner of our street at ten, the way the cracks looked in the sidewalk. ‘I’m ten,’ I thought, ‘and I’ll remember this forever.’ And that’s all I have left of ten.” “Huh,” he said, and he took his cap off and went inside.

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The Prevailing Wind Anna Crowe

Sickness or weather has kept them within doors for weeks, but today we are taking them out. Each brings their peculiar atmosphere of cider and stale St Bruno, or hair-spray and l’Air du Temps, that fill the car. The hay is baled, drums colouring the fields with their own shadows; and steaming ploughland furrows mirror the clouds’ soft corrugations. Behind us, like an unkindness of ravens, my parents occupy their corners in a cage of their own silence. In the streets of Urumqi or Dunhuang, old men sit astride benches in the shade to play mah-jong or chess, the leaves above their heads trembling with song: they have brought their caged birds with them to give them a change of air, hanging them from the branches of acacias and pines, while they move pieces or tiles, laugh and test the Prevailing Wind. Come now, sir, madam, honourable parents there at our backs, will you not try to croak some kindness at the last before the wind turns round, the autumn sun goes down and we take you home?

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My Mother, Cooking

after Velázquez: An Old Woman Cooking Eggs Anna Crowe

How often have I entered the flat and found you thus, tranced, fish-slice or wooden spoon in hand, hunched over a pan of haddock or courgettes frying? Seated upon your perching-stool— on loan from Social Services— you gaze across another kitchen where life was once as smooth as milk that simply waits to be poured from each day’s sturdy jug.

My sister’s basket hangs with coat and scarf from a hook on the door; it’s her your eyes peer after in the gloom. Her death has crossed your life like the shadow of that knife that slides like a lizard into the bowl. On the table the onions gleam in their skins like breathless girls in purple taffeta; and a spoon winks, conspiratorial, as though it knew that life was this quick spurt of flame like a cat’s tongue darting out to lick the underside of the dish. Then ash.

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I have tiptoed in to bring you my day carefully tied with string, but I stand, saying nothing. We stare and stare at the pan as though, if we stared hard enough, never blinking, we could bring it all back, before the whites of the eggs coalesce.

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The Green Beret A short screenplay Thomas Chapman

EXT. HOSPITAL GROUNDS - DUSK It is black. ZOOMING OUT, the blackness becomes a blackbird perched on a branch, it is SINGING. Sound of a LIGHT BREEZE MOVING THROUGH LEAVES. ZOOMING OUT, there is a Horse Chestnut tree with a large hospital building beyond. Out of focus, in the distance is a girl beside a tree. ZOOM IN to the window on the fifth floor of the hospital.

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - DUSK MATT, a young man in his late teens is lying on his back unconscious in bed with a bandage around his head. A bedside lamp illuminates one side of his face and casts a shadow over the other. Matt’s eyes twitch beneath his eye lids, which open and then close drowsily.

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MONTAGE - FLASHES OF SILENT BLACK AND WHITE MEMORIES ALTERNATING WITH SHOTS OF MATT’S EYES OPENING AND CLOSING IN HOSPITAL -- TONY, AN ANGULAR, 40 YEAR OLD MAN WITH A LEATHER JACKET WALKS THROUGH A SCRUFFY FRONT GARDEN IN A ROUGH LOOKING COUNCIL ESTATE. -- CLOSE-UP OF MATT’S EYES OPENING AND CLOSING IN HOSPITAL. -- MATT ON HIS MOBILE PHONE LAUGHING IN A DIRTY KITCHEN. -- CLOSE-UP OF MATT’S EYES OPENING AND CLOSING IN HOSPITAL. -- A BEAUTIFUL YOUNG GIRL, ABOUT 7, WEARING A BERET. SHE LOOKS DIRECTLY AT CAMERA THEN VERY FAINTLY SMILES. -- CLOSE-UP OF MATT’S EYES OPENING AND CLOSING IN HOSPITAL. -- CLOSE-UP OF A TEENAGE GIRL’S FACE, EYES WIDE WITH TERROR, NOSE BLEEDING AND FACE WET WITH SNOT AND TEARS. SHE IS SCREAMING BUT THE SOUND COMING OUT IS THAT OF AN ALARM WHICH CONTINUES RINGING THROUGH TO THE NEXT SCENE. -- MONTAGE ENDS

INT. MATT’S BEDROOM - AUTUMN AFTERNOON An ALARM RINGS (CONT’D) Matt’s eyelids open. Drowsy, he sits up and turns off the alarm on his phone. He rubs his face. The phone shows two missed calls. The time is 3:11pm. Matt picks up a half smoked joint from an ashtray beside the mattress, lights it and stares into space. The bedroom is messy, a blanket hangs over the window instead of a curtain and there is no sheet on his tatty mattress.

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A DOOR SLAMS downstairs. Matt is jolted from his reverie. He looks out of the window and sees Tony walking through the neglected front garden, cluttered with car parts and a sodden sofa. Tony exits onto a rough council estate. Matt smiles and turns some MUSIC on which plays as the TITLES BEGIN. Matt struggles to dress while trying to dance simultaneously.

INT. TONY AND MATT’S KITCHEN - AFTERNOON MUSIC (CONT’D) plays upstairs. Matt nods and dances. He then points an imaginary gun at the toaster, shooting as the toast pops up. The kitchen is littered with unwashed pans and drug paraphernalia. A BMX bike rests against the table. Matt spreads Marmite on his toast then bites into it. Matt’s mobile rings; he answers, still chewing. MATT Hey up... Yeah not bad... Only just woken up... Haha yeah whatever... What you after? Alright, be there in ten... That’s what she said!... Yeah, okay mate. Later. Matt leaves the toast and puts on his jacket and trainers. He rummages in a kitchen drawer, retrieves a few small plastic bags of different sizes and places them into the lining of his jacket. Matt unlocks various locks and bolts on the back door and exits with his bike. 21

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EXT. ST. ANN’S ESTATE - AFTERNOON The council estate is viewed from above and is illuminated by late autumn sunshine. Matt rides his bike through the streets. There is the sound of RUSHING WIND, DISTANT TRAFFIC and a DISTANT AMBULANCE SIREN.

EXT. OUTSIDE HUNTER’S HOUSE - AFTERNOON Matt is outside a large Edwardian house in a leafy, affluent area. There is BIRDSONG. He rests his bike against the garden wall, goes to the front door and knocks. Hanging in the bay window are large dark velvet curtains, they open an inch to reveal a single eye. It disappears. Moments later the front door opens an inch and the same eye appears. A chain is removed and the door is opened to reveal HUNTER; a man in his 30’s, wearing a deerstalker hat, a large winter coat, scarf and pyjama bottoms tucked into black leather boots. HUNTER (Nodding sagely) You were right. MATT What? HUNTER Marmite with scrambled eggs. MATT (Amused) So you tried it. HUNTER Yes, well. Wasn’t sure whether to believe you. 22

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MATT Why would I lie about that? HUNTER (Intensely) Some people are strange... Hunter stares at Matt as if expecting him to say something. HUNTER (CONT’D) Well anyway, come in. Matt enters. Hunter pokes his head back out of the front door, makes sure no one else is there and then closes it behind them.

INT. HUNTER’S HALLWAY - AFTERNOON Hunter and Matt stand side by side in a large, dimly lit hallway. There is the flashing light of a television in an adjoining room. HUNTER Wasn’t sure you were still… ya know... working.

Yeah.

MATT

Hunter glances furtively from side to side and then leans in towards Matt. HUNTER (Whispering) I heard you’d stopped the funny business. 23

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MATT (Forlornly) I had. But Tony… Yeah, Tony. HUNTER (Suddenly jovial, laughing) You should never be deterred young man, you’re doing society a favour. The wise get high! Hunter draws two imaginary guns from imaginary holsters and pretends to shoot Matt. HUNTER (CONT’D) Ain’t that right, cowboy? Hunter slaps Matt on the back exuberantly. HUNTER (CONT’D) Yeeee Haaa! Hunter bends his legs and arms and begins to dance in little circles. HUNTER (CONT’D) (Singing in a bad American Accent) Keep movin’, movin’, movin’. Though they’re disapproving’. Keep those doggies movin’. Rawhide! Don’t try an’ understand ‘em. Just rope, throw and brand ‘em. Soon we’ll be living high and wide. Hunter nods expectantly. Matt laughs nervously, reaches into the lining of his jacket and hands over a small bag. Hunter inspects it then stows it away in his sock. Hunter pulls out a large jar of Nescafe coffee from his coat pocket and hands it to Matt. 24

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HUNTER (CONT’D) (Nodding knowingly) Perhaps you would like this in exchange? MATT Wow, thanks... HUNTER Think nothing of it. MATT But you know Tony; only takes cold, hard cash. HUNTER (Affronted) Well, maybe I have had a few cups out of it but so what? It’s mostly full. Stole it from the petrol station especially for you. MATT Oh, cheers, but... HUNTER (Interrupting) And that’s not easy with that eagle eyed bint working there.

Who?

MATT

HUNTER The new woman that works there… the fat one with a skin condition.

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MATT Oh her. HUNTER The counter’s always covered with big flakes of her skin. Like she’s been eating puff pastry off it. Matt grimaces. HUNTER (CONT’D) Anyway, what I was saying is that she’s a nightmare to steal from. She has some sixth sense for theft or something. I’ve seen her catch two people already. She’s got some sorta voodoo mind reading thing going on. MATT She’s just doin’ her job. Hunter thrusts his hand round Matt’s throat, pinning him against the wall, throttling him. Hunter’s face is taut with spitting fury. HUNTER Are you one of them? Don’t tell me you’re one of them. I swear I will kill you if you’re one of them. Matt’s face goes red as he struggles to breathe. MATT (Choking) No… I’m not.

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The sound of the cartoon ‘THE MOOMINS’ comes from the television and Hunter slowly turns his head to listen. He smiles, releases Matt and goes into the living room. Matt gasps and holds his throat in pain. The TELEVISION GETS LOUDER and Hunter returns. HUNTER (Cheerful) It’s springtime in Moomin Valley. Holding his throat with one hand, Matt hands the coffee back with the other. Hunter receives it like a mother receiving a newborn child. HUNTER (CONT’D) (Nodding toward the living room) The Moomins. I got the box set.

Oh.

MATT

There’s silence between the two men. Hunter looks at Matt eagerly, as if nothing has happened. Matt holds his throat, avoiding all eye contact

.

HUNTER The Moomins are wonderful. I get nostalgic recalling pre-high-times.

Yeah.

MATT

HUNTER Look. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding, buddy. Hunter pats Matt on the back. 27

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HUNTER (CONT’D) (Singing) They love the laughter and they love the living, The Moomins. Hunter hands over a few crumpled bank notes. Matt stuffs them into his pocket MATT I better go. HUNTER (With heartfelt sincerity) Okay, buddy. You take care yeah? And remember: anyone gives you shit, you know where to come, yeah?

Yeah.

MATT

Hunter pats him once more on the shoulder, Matt flinches. Hunter shuffles off into the living room. HUNTER (O.S.) Ah Snufkin, my hero. Matt lets himself out.

EXT. OUTSIDE HUNTER’S HOUSE - LATE AFTERNOON Dusk is descending. A BLACKBIRD SINGS. Matt walks back down the garden path, sweating. His phone RINGS, he switches it off. On the pavement is a LITTLE GIRL looking at Matt’s bike. She is about seven years old, innocent, beautiful, wearing a black duffle coat and a green beret. 28

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LITTLE GIRL I like your bike MATT Thanks. They look at one another for a few moments in silence. LITTLE GIRL You look unhappy. Matt opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. LITTLE GIRL (CONT’D) Is this your home? MATT (Hesitant) No. No it’s not. LITTLE GIRL (Thoughtful) What are you doing here then? MATT (Sheepish) I... well, I was visiting a friend. LITTLE GIRL Oh that’s nice. I have a friend. We like to go to the park to collect conkers. MATT I used to collect conkers.

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LITTLE GIRL You don’t anymore?

No.

MATT

LITTLE GIRL Why not? MATT I don’t know. Just grew out of it I guess. LITTLE GIRL (Thoughtful) Oh. If I grew out of collecting conkers I think I would be unhappy too. The girl reaches into her pocket and hands Matt a shiny conker. LITTLE GIRL (CONT’D) I have to go now. Bye bye. MATT (Bemused) Bye. The girl smiles and starts walking away. MATT (CONT’D) Wait. What’s your name? At a distance the girl turns and smiles, then turns away and disappears down a side road. Matt looks at Hunter’s house reproachfully and rubs his neck. He sits on the garden step and stares at his feet. Eventually looking up he sees the girl’s hat is lying on the pavement. 30

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Matt grabs his bike, picks up the hat and rides off after the girl. But when he gets to the road she went down it is empty. He puts the beret in his coat pocket. EXT. PARK - DUSK Matt slowly pushes his bike along a tree-lined path in a grassy park. There is the sound of BIRDSONG and DISTANT TRAFFIC. Matt approaches the park exit where KAREN, a gaunt woman stands. She is wearing a short leather skirt, high heels and a red puffer jacket. She has her arms wrapped around herself to keep warm. KAREN Hey up Matt. MATT

Hey up.

KAREN What’s up darlin’? Why the long face? MATT Nothing. KAREN You can tell me. MATT Nothing. It doesn’t matter KAREN Yeah it does. What’s up? MATT Just leave it, I’m fine. 31

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KAREN Is it Tony? MATT No. It’s me. KAREN There’s no’t wrong wi’ you Matt. You’re one o’ the good ones. Has someone said somethin’? MATT I guess.

Who?

KAREN

MATT Just some girl. KAREN One of Tony’s? MATT No. A little girl. KAREN Oh right. What she say? MATT It’s not what she said. She just reminded me of someone. (pause) Of my little sister. KAREN Oh. The one that…

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MATT (Interrupting) …Yeah Karen places a reassuring hand on Matt’s shoulder. KAREN You alright? MATT Just made me think. Matt stares into space. KAREN Look, Matt, can you do me a favour? Like… if you could just give me a wrap on credit… Just ‘til I get some business?

No.

MATT

KAREN Don’t be tight. MATT I’m not doing that anymore. Matt starts to walk away.

Wait.

KAREN

Matt stops and turns to face her.

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KAREN (CONT’D) Look. How about I pay you another way? Like, in trade? MATT I told you, I’m not doing it anymore. Not for money and definitely not for sex.

Karen stares at Matt for a few moments. She then strides up to him, leans in and points in his face. KAREN You think you’re above me don’t you? You might not be sellin’ your body, but you’re part of the same game. We’re both bein’ played. Actually, you’re worse. If it

weren’t for scum like you I wouldn’t be doing what I do. Yeah I’m a skag head, but you know what? I’m still human. I still die inside every time some perv gets his way with me.

Karen slaps Matt and strides off, her heels CLICKING on the pavement. Matt stands alone in the fading light as a gentle rain begins to fall. MATT (Shouting after her) Karen. Karen stops, turns and looks at Matt. MATT (CONT’D) (Sincere) I’m sorry. 34

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Yeah.

KAREN

Matt watches Karen walk off into the rainy distance. A car slows and she bends down to talk to the driver. Matt turns and walks away.

INT. KITCHEN TONY AND MATT’S HOUSE - DUSK The back door opens, Matt enters, throws his bike onto the floor and slumps onto a kitchen chair. He holds his head in his hands and runs his fingers through his hair. There’s BANGING upstairs; Matt looks up at the ceiling. There’s MUFFLED VOICES. Matt slowly gets to his feet and cautiously leaves the kitchen.

INT. STAIRS IN TONY AND MATT’S HOUSE - DUSK Matt’s MEASURED BREATHING can be heard as he moves up the stairs. There are MALE AND FEMALE VOICES coming from Tony’s bedroom and the door is ajar. As Matt approaches, the MUFFLED VOICES become decipherable. Matt looks through the gap but can only see part of the room; a wardrobe, a table and clothes on the floor. TONY (O.S.) You know. I’m quite a gentleman compared to some men. GIRL (O.S.) (Sobbing) I don’t care. TONY (O.S.) I know Baby, I know. (Pause) But you do care about your mum don’t you? 35

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GIRL (O.S.) Shut up! TONY (O.S.) Come on, Baby. GIRL (O.S.) (Sorrowful) Please… I don’t understand. TONY (O.S.) Well let me spell it out for you, Baby. Mummy-dear has certain… pharmaceutical needs. And being a man, well I have needs of my own. We struck a deal. You were part of it. GIRL (O.S.) But it’s got nothing to do with me. TONY (O.S.) That’s not what Mummy said. GIRL (O.S.) Leave me alone. TONY (O.S.) I don’t like being ripped off. GIRL (O.S.) Please, it’s not fair.

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GIRL (O.S.) Get off me. The girl shuffles backwards on her bottom and into view. She backs up against the wall, sits holding her legs close to her body. She looks about seventeen and is wearing a t-shirt, knickers and white socks. Her face is wet with tears and she has blood smeared around her nose and top lip. Matt ducks back out of sight. TONY (O.S.) Do you like music? I just love Dylan. Such a raw quality to his work; touches you deep inside, you know? Real deep. So deep you can’t tell whether it’s pleasure or pain. Matt slowly leans forward to look into the room again. The girl sits silent and still, staring at her feet. TONY (O.S.) (CONT’D) Ah, here it is. The MUSIC starts to play; Just Like A Woman by Bob Dylan. Tony comes into view, wearing black socks and underpants. He mimes the lyrics into a pretend microphone with heartfelt tenderness. TONY (CONT’D) (Mimes words to the song) ‘Nobody feels any pain, tonight as I stand inside the rain. Everybody knows that Baby’s got new clothes.’ Tony gets down on one knee, leaning in and tenderly stroking the girl’s hair back from her face, wiping tears away.

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TONY (CONT’D) (Mimes words, remorsefully) ‘But lately I see her ribbons and her bows have fallen from her curls.’ Tony continues to mime the words as he grabs the girl’s feet and drags her away from the wall. She kicks her legs back and forth, screaming and pleading. Eventually she is back out of sight. The song continues: (SONG V.O.) ‘She takes just like a woman, yes, she does. She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does and she aches just like a woman. But she breaks just like a little girl.’ On the last word of the verse the bedroom door is kicked shut.

INT. ON THE LANDING - DUSK Matt jumps back from the door. There are MUFFLED SOUNDS of the girl pleading. Matt reaches out, touches the doorknob, takes a few deep breaths and closes his eyes. He opens his eyes, removes his hand and backs away from the door then descends the stairs as quietly as he can.

EXT. BACK GARDEN - DUSK

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It is raining heavily. The back door opens pouring a wedge of light over the scruffy garden. Matt walks out into the centre of the lawn. Matt looks up to the sky and rain hits his face and he closes his eyes. Eventually Matt opens his eyes, bends down and picks up a cricket bat. Soaking wet, he re-enters the house, leaving the back door open. THE LAMPETER REVIEW - Issue 4 - January 2012


INT. ON THE LANDING - DUSK It is difficult to make Matt out in the gloaming as he CREAKS up the stairs. The white cricket bat looks as if it is floating up the stairs by itself. Matt stops at the door, puts his hand on the doorknob, turns the handle and slowly opens the door. As he enters the song finishes and another Dylan song starts (All Along the Watchtower).

INT. TONY’S BEDROOM - DUSK Matt edges tentatively into the room with the bat held aloft. The girl still has her t-shirt and knickers on. Tony has her pinned down on her back and is licking tears and blood from her face. GIRL (Sobbing) Please… please TONY That’s it. Good girl. GIRL Just let me go. Matt’s eyes widen. The bat trembles above his head as he approaches until he is stood behind Tony. The girl sees Matt over Tony’s shoulder. GIRL (CONT’D) (To Matt) Help me! Tony freezes mid-lick. He slowly retracts his tongue and turns his head to face Matt.

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MATT Get off her. TONY Hello Matt. The girl squirms out from underneath Tony, picks up her clothes and runs from the room. TONY (CONT’D)

(To the girl) I’m not finished with you. MATT You are. TONY What’s the matter Matt? You want first go on her? Is that it? MATT I’m not like you. Matt raises the bat further above his head. TONY Put it down Matt. MATT You make me sick. TONY After everything I’ve done for you? You’d still be eating out of bins if it wasn’t for me. The two men stare at one another as Matt edges back towards the door. 40

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TONY (CONT’D) (Sneering) Strays like you don’t know what loyalty is. MATT

You’re not in control anymore, Tony. TONY (Laughing) You’ll always be weak, Matt. It’s in your blood… it’s the reason your slag of a mother killed herself. Matt’s nostrils flare, his jaw tenses and he kicks Tony hard in the face. They are silent. Tony’s tongue feels around its

mouth. Blood trickles down his chin. Staring fiercely at Matt, he reaches inside his own mouth and groans as he pulls out a tooth. Tony lunges forward, blocking the bat with his arm before sinking his teeth into Matt’s leg. Matt screams and drops the bat which lands in the doorway. The girl is still stood in the doorway watching. Tony grabs Matt’s ankles and Matt tumbles backwards. On the way down Matt cracks his head on the corner of a table. FADE TO: BLACK FADE IN:

INT. HOSPITAL - MORNING There is a blurry close-up of the green beret coming gradually into focus. It is resting on a table beside the hospital bed that Matt is lying on. ZOOM-IN quickly to the beret. 41

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MONTAGE - SHORT STACCATO FLASHES OF MATT’S MEMORIES ACCOMPANIED BY SCREECHING INHARMONIOUS MUSIC AND A POUNDING BEAT -- A BLACK AND WHITE AERIAL SHOT OF MATT DANCING LANGUIDLY IN THE KITCHEN -- A BLACK AND WHITE CLOSE-UP OF MATT’S SWEATING FACE AS HE RIDES HIS BIKE

-- A BLACK AND WHITE SHOT OF HUNTER STOOD IN HIS DOORWAY, SMILING MANICALLY. HIS PUPILS ARE MASSIVE AND HE HAS NO IRIS. -- A BLACK AND WHITE CLOSE-UP OF HUNTER’S LIVID FACE IN THE HALLWAY AS HE THROTTLES MATT. HIS PUPILS MASSIVE AND HE HAS NO IRIS. -- ALL IS GREEN, THE MUSIC STOPS AND IS REPLACED BY THE SOUND OF A BREEZE RUNNING THROUGH LEAVES. SLOWLY ZOOMING OUT AND UPWARDS THE GREEN BECOMES THE BERET UPON THE LITTLE GIRL’S HEAD. EVERYTHING IS BLACK AND WHITE APART FROM THE BERET AND THE GIRL’S BEAUTIFUL GREEN EYES. SHE IS LOOKING DIRECTLY INTO CAMERA WITH A KNOWING EXPRESSION. WITH A HINT OF A SMILE SHE VERY SUBTLY NODS. THEN SUDDENLY ZOOM-IN QUICKLY TO THE GREEN BERET. THE INHARMONIOUS MUSIC BEGINS. -- A BLACK AND WHITE SHOT OF THE PROSTITUTE’S FACE WITH MASSIVE PUPILS AND NO IRIS. ZOOM-OUT TO SEE SHE IS ON THE BACK SEAT OF A CAR WITH A MAN ON TOP OF HER. SHE LOOKS SULLEN. -- A BLACK AND WHITE CLOSE-UP OF THE TEENAGE GIRL’S PETRIFIED FACE CALLING FOR HELP IN TONY’S ROOM -- A BLACK AND WHITE CLOSE-UP OF TONY’S FACE WITH NO IRIS. HE IS GLARING LUSTILY WITH SALIVA GATHERED IN THE CORNERS OF HIS MOUTH. ZOOM-IN TO ONE OF HIS PUPILS. ALL IS BLACK. THERE IS SILENCE. 42

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FADE IN:

INT. HOSPITAL - MORNING There is the blurry image of the bedside table. There is nothing on the table. The window in the room is open, a breeze comes in. Matt reaches out and touches the bedside table. Distressed, he sits up and looks all around but the beret is not there. Beside the bed is Matt’s coat on the back of a chair. Matt checks one pocket, finds nothing, checks the other pocket and pauses. He takes a deep breath and pulls his hand out and opens it to reveal a conker. He holds it up to the light. Beyond the conker, the open window is throwing sunshine into the room. He eases himself out of bed and goes to the window. Matt sees sunshine pouring over the hospital grounds. There are many horse chestnut trees. Matt holds the conker tight in his hand, closes his eyes and subtly nods.

EXT. HOSPITAL GROUNDS - MORNING The hospital room is viewed in the distance from beside a tree. Matt is stood in the window with his eyes closed. A BLACKBIRD SINGS. ZOOM-IN to the branches where the blackbird is. The leaves flutter and there is the sound of the BREEZE. ZOOM-IN to a single leaf until all is green. FADE OUT. THE END

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Laundry Margery Kivel

There is a gauzy film where word remnants hang among fabric slubs and tufts of cotton minutia. The cloth holds misplaced conversations that move in the breeze of memory’s song. Musical phrases become morse code dots and dashes, partial blips of notes suspended in a curtain

that stretches through universes and time lines, waiting for retrieval, like dogs that wait outside grocery stores for their owners return. One good washing and it will all reduce to unformed

emotions packaged as lint, trying to grab onto stray socks for one more ride. 44

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Constructs Margery Kivel

This last phase resembles Lego with its sticks and wheels jutting from the center in odd directions as they follow divergent interests. In retrospect the need for pruning this leggy tree of dreams becomes apparent, and so I start to trim the obvious shorter ones first. These side shoots will not be realized, will not bear fruit in the time at hand. Choices must be made on what I wish to grow and how to give it life. It has taken all this time to recognize the inherent desire that was set aside for the many diversions sampled from creation’s table of delights.

*****

Landscape and shoes are the same as when I came this way before or so it seems in turning to eye tiny wisps of yellow flowers

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that bloom with the hope and expectancy of sunflowers turning upwards towards sun’s golden rays with confidence. “Root here,” I say to myself. Nourishment and growth patterns are self contained, no need for packet directions. I cup my ears to catch the notes of confirmation in the wind knowing that it was and is always there by agreement.

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Sixteen Kilometers from Neudorf, Saskatchewan Lindsay Zier-Vogel

i “The most interesting room is the kitchen,” she says. And she means the room most full of stories. The muffin tins and cookie sheets, the roasting pan, the red thermos, the pot that is the perfect size for poaching an egg. It’s easy enough to imagine ghosts and scare yourself witless, back to the pickup truck that is hidden by the eyebrow-high grass, but there aren’t any ghosts, not yet – these hands stirring muffin batter and voices arguing about how to hang the wallpaper, matching the pattern up at the crease, or whose turn it is to set the table are still too young to be ghosts.

Now, the table is set with bird shit and fine plaster dust that’s settled over everything, moved into piles by whatever happens to come in through the broken window. The glass, jagged and sharp, has shredded the bottom edge of the curtain into ribbons – the edge of a ballet costume, a long ago recital. The window keeps nothing out, especially not the rain when it happens, the snow, the animals that tear through the living room and ignore the shelf of Readers’ Digests, the box of old tax receipts, the crocheted dish cloth that hangs off a bent nail. Animals that ignore the table, where there are still salt and pepper shakers, the table where there used to be homework spread before dinner, and arguments over another ear piercing, that sleep-over where there’d be no parents, the scratch on the car’s bumper. The arguments that circled and circled, chairs tipped backwards, “How many times do I have to tell you, the legs’ll snap.” 47

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When the stories are old enough, there will be teenaged ghosts who flounce out of rooms and slam doors and refuse to empty the dishwasher. But for now, “Meatloaf again?” and “May I please be excused from the table?” and “Finish your milk first,” have been replaced by birds divebombing anyone who dares to get close to the plaster-dusted chairs. They’ve built their nest in the corner above the stove, and sing, furious, their wings like blades, terrified their nest will be found out. And who can blame them? This is their house, though they do not know the word house. It is their kitchen, though they also do not need the word kitchen. They have replaced the cobwebs with thread-thin twigs carried in one by one, wings deftly avoiding the window’s sharp edges.

They do not need muffin tins, or roasting pans, or thermoses, or wallpaper. All they need is the corner above the stove and for the stories to leave them alone. ii She is not sure if the stairs are sound, and takes them carefully, as if slowing down might keep them from rotting any further. One hand on the wall, she tests her boots on each step, trying to hear the difference between a creaking stair and a creaking stair that will refuse her weight. At the top of the stairs, the light is strange, and the day falls where it’s not supposed to – against the piles in old corners, and against the door of the crawl space, too-bright and unbidden. It is confusing, this shard of January sky where the ceiling opens up. But more confusing is this sun-warm floor made uncertain by rain and melted snow, the floor that could so easily collapse in on itself, taking her and the sun warm patch down to the living room, where the bleached out Cabbage Patch box sits upturned where the piano used to be. Instead of tracing last names, and passed down middle names, she should follow pianos, she thinks, at the top of the stairs that continue to hold her, the sun still insistent. The pianos that travelled first by boat, then train, travelling across the long stretch of flat, under endless skies – longer journeys than most everyone around here would have gone on. The pianos passed down from great-great-grandmothers, the middle Cs worn by practicing thumbs, the keys yellowing under the scales picked out after dinner, the endless rounds of Chopsticks and Heart and Soul and eventually Bach and Mozart and the murky blur of Debussy. 48

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She has seen what happens to the pianos that don’t get passed down, uprights left in fields, or on porches, wood lightened with sun and snow and pedals rusting. She is relieved there is no piano in the room below this puddle of light, relieved there are not animals living between strings, and hammers, that her fingers won’t be tempted to pick out something she only half remembers. iii Though it’s sure to get colder in the next month or so, it’s the coldest day she’s known in a long time, the day she decides to slip underneath the kitchen, the living room, the room that would have held the piano. The basement door is around back and wedged half open by a snowdrift. The stairs she didn’t trust in the summer have been made safe by the cold, the steps slippery underneath her boots. She doesn’t trust the railing though, and uses the cement wall instead, her mittened hand trailing. It smells like winter down here, where everything is entirely still, held exactly in place – a tipped over can of paint, the pile of rusty horseshoes under a thick layer of ice. It’s hard not to feel like an archaeologist, but instead of T-Rex thighbones, there’s a furnace, a new one, though not new anymore and shovels from before this house was made – great-great-grandfather shovels. And next to the shovels, a plastic bin of Lego, the reds yellows blues muted by the frozen layers. In the opposite corner, the cement wall crumbles into sky, and lets in the afternoon – a strange light that is too bright and blue against the ice. Down here, it’s hard to believe that there’s a house waiting above – the broken glass windows, the muffin tins and red thermoses, the curtain shredded into ribbons, the stairs that aren’t sound, even when they are frozen. Down here, it’s hard to believe there was ever a family that piled things in corners and played with Lego and made up stories about basement boogie monsters. Down here, it’s hard to believe the basement ever thaws. Generations of stuff forever held tight, held still. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to imagine it any other way, but when the light that enters in through the crumbling corner is warm once again, the ice melts, and the basement floods, feet of water creating their own currents. Except nothing can swim, save for the occasional 49

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yogurt container that bobs like a buoy until it fills and joins the horseshoes and coffee tins of rusted nails that never had any hope of floating. That’s when the mould creeps up the walls in blues and greys and browns, like topographical maps that reach from floor to ceiling, and stretch the length of the house. The mould that stinks like rotting. She wonders what would happen if the basement of the house she lives in now flooded, then froze. The washing machine set forever at Perm. Press, the banker’s boxes of old university notes she has never read again frozen shut, and the clothes that don’t go in the dryer caught on the metal Ikea rack, waiting forever to dry.

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Mussels in Brine John Glenday

Their ten-a-penny cunts drift in formalin; the labia slackened, fading to olive drab. I imagine them weary of being mouthed, pickled on tedium, flaccid and tired. They reek of estuary dirt tinged with salt and brackish wine. Lord, wash away this guiltlessness, let their valves be opened to me; let all things preserved be consumed all but that single grain of sand gritting between the teeth; flinty, neglected, enduring as regret, reminding me of you.

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Ill Will John Glenday

First night of the filling moon I took me to that spoiled oak, skewed on its fold of hill above my father’s farm. This left hand hefting his pigman’s maul and under my tongue an old King’s penny vague with spending. Watched while the sparling moon kicked free from a trawl of cloud, swam on. Then hammered the penny to its rim in the faulted grain and wished down the worst on him by three times wishing it: ‘Tree, by your own dead hand,’ says I, ‘wither that blown onion in him no one calls a heart’. All the path home the stink of night in the yarrow and dwarf butterbur. Shriek of the hen-owl restless in her nothing.

Stranger, I swear, something he couldn’t rage against whittled him to a skelf, laid him all white and quiet like, grew him a stone. All this in the month that wears my name. Meanwhile I followed the rooting iron through his fields. Whistled in the old mare’s wake. Tasted coin.

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Telephones Rachel Trezise

My mother had a thing about telephones. She collected them. There was a box at the bottom of the wardrobe containing every telephone she’d ever owned; an avocado-coloured rotary phone with hunks of dust trapped under the plastic fingerboard, a phone with implausibly large buttons designed for the partially-sighted, a salmon pink heart-shaped phone designed for a teenagers bedroom, countless, cordless grey handsets, their batteries run down. All her life she rejected face-to-face conversations in favour of telephone calls. Dialogue, she hated. Small-talk, gossip, repetition; you couldn’t stop her. All her life, talking; all the while saying nothing. In my childhood memories she sits on the padded stool in the hall, the receiver stuck to her face as if it has taken root, as if it is part of her bone structure. Once she spent two hours on the phone to one neighbour, insulting another neighbour, unaware that the object of her criticism was sitting out on the patio listening to every word through the open sash window. She used the 1471 last call return service to accuse my school friend’s mother of ringing her at

ungodly hours, trying to initiate an affair with her husband. When customers ringing the Chinese takeaway got through to her by mistake, (their numbers were similar), she’d pretend to take their food order. ‘Be with you in half an hour, love,’ she’d say. After I’d moved out she never came to visit me at my house. Instead she rang me three times a day, relaying her lengthy, empty news. ‘Well I tried to watch Emmerdale but the Ty Hafan fella came knocking and I missed the last ten minutes. I’ve sliced what’s left of the pork from Sunday for dinner but it’s not the same with instant gravy. The dog’s not very well, she’s been sick on my sheep-skin rug.’ I started doing what my brother had been doing for years; gently placing the receiver down on the sill mid-conversation and getting on with my own life. When I went back to it forty-five minutes later, she’d still be there, talking, oblivious to the lapse in our exchange; a rolling news channel, a social network incarnate. 53

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As she laid dying in her bed at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, I sat holding her papery hand, fingering her rings, waiting for her to say something; something real, before her voice tuned out forever. ‘You smell nice,’ she said after a while. ‘New perfume?’ After she died I refused to answer the phone. I knew it wouldn’t be her. Then, two days after the funeral I came home to a message on my answer machine. ‘Alright?’ Just one word, her voice slightly tart, as if she was trying to make some point, lost on me. I listened to it four-hundred-and-sixty-two times, my skin goosy. I’d heard of clocks stopping, power tripping, never of a poltergeist picking the damn phone up. Deus ex machine.

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Tea

Sarah Hudis

The kettle boiled twice, the switch clicks unnoticed, and outside the sky darkens. The kitchen has no curtains, the light is grey, and it bathes us, caught here in each-other’s vision, pressed together almost painfully, sweetly, the tiled floor slipping beneath our sock-clothed feet. I reach up to you, we mutter nonsensically about milk. Tea. Yes, tea..

and then forget, and remain lost for another long heartbeat our caffeine growing cold.

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Forever Young Sarah Hudis

If we fuck up, let’s do it hand in hand. Sweat clamouring between our palms, as we duck and run and skid on the sand. Lose ourselves together, dance half-baked around this fire, and share the last drops of intoxication, propped against each-other’s pride. If we fall down,

then let’s just lie there, beating heart to pounding head, and breathe in the dryness, die in the lightness. Forever young, and forever blessed.

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The Beach Keith Morris

An exploration and celebration of the beach, that liminal space between the land and the sea; a linear canvas wiped clean by the tides twice a day, where the private becomes public, a place to see and be seen

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Ian Elliot Photography

Bryn Copa mines, Cwmystwyth, on the mountain road from Devil’s Bridge to Rhayader

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Bryn Copa mines, Cwmystwyth, on the mountain road from Devil’s Bridge to Rhayader

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Elan Valley, near Rhayader. This valley was flooded to provide a reservoir for Birmingham. The inhabitants of one Welsh-speaking village were forcibly evicted in the process.

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Matthew Mensley Photography

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Relics

(After the Chevron oil refinery explosion, June 2011) Emma Baines

Two days have passed And a population scavenges The labyrinth of pipe-work, A knot of empty arms in the wake Of scattered bodies, shattered lives, Scratching at something to hold. Chimneys and vessels,

Wrench in a clenched fist Flattened to the pages of a newspaperMere objects of industry; Not the nuts and bolts of real life Boxed in the vaults of blood and memory. Once you were a guitar, Festival t-shirt: odour more tangible than thread-count. But life says people are not like things And tidied you away on a promise Your contents would be safe.

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But Thursday, I thanked god For your return, caught In the blaze of abstraction That tore across all process Knowing only fate And the shape of you. Now, cooled by connections, Hydrants and hoses, The distance of news and a weekendMy loss is as subtle as the indentation In our mattress When you leave for work in the morning. Yet still, my fingers busy themselves Along the contours of your arms, shoulders, Up and down your vertebrae; Committing the bones of you to something More urgent than memorySomething not godly, but safely in hand: Home.

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The Dog and Bone Billy Roche

He’s gone for good this time I think. I don’t know why I say that, but…I just have this terrible feeling, that’s all. My sister Doris warned me about him of course, she said I’d rue the day and I do, I rue the day. I know what that means now. He’s been gone for nearly a week at this stage. He’s done this before, although never for this long. Normally it’s only a night or two. Usually he’d stay out all night and come back in the morning. He’s a gambler: casinos and card games and that. Needless to say, I’m not supposed to question him about it. Oh no, he gets all humpy if you ask him where he’s been. What he gets up to is his own business, nothing to do with me. Although he needs to know everything about me, mind you, everything I do, everywhere I go, not that I ever go anywhere or do anything worth talking about anymore, because I don’t. But he needs to know- what I’m doing and thinking and feeling.

One time, the last time- now that I think of it - he was gone for nearly three days. Maybe

he’s been working his way up to this, eh? - going for good I mean. He came back that time in an awful state- unshaved and unwashed and his clothes all crumpled, rent money and everything gone. I could smell her off him too- some East End bitch. I got it all out of him eventually, it all came out. They can’t wait to tell you half the time. He kept telling me it was all my fault, that I drove him to it with my constant yakking. He worked his fingers like a talking dog as he said it. Yeah, he’s only over here a wet day and already he does all that… cockney crap. Doris says I should learn to keep my mouth shut, to just grin and bear it, but what she’s forgetting is that I gave up everything for him- a house and a home back in Ireland, a husband and a child and everything. Yes, a child. Ramey Savage! That’s his name. That’s right: Savage. ‘You should have read the tin,’ my sister Doris said to me on the phone the other day here. I should have fired the tin against the wall is what I should have done. When my husband Tommy found out about the affair he nearly did his nut. 70

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‘Of all the dirty lousers you could have picked,’ Tommy said. ‘Ramey Savage,’ and then he cursed. He very rarely swears or curses but he did curse that day. Some part of him was mortally offended because- and I think it’s safe to say this- Ramey is widely regarded as a goodfor-nothing. I met Ramey at a dance. Yeah. The Pigeon.. Fanciers.. Ball or something. Tommy was up at the bar with his pals, talking about their birds and their lofts and their god-only-knows-what else and Ramey just waltzed on over and asked me up. Tommy never even noticed as Ramey swept me away – hand in hand- to the dance floor. ‘I didn’t expect this tonight,’ he whispered in my ear as we danced. I mean what did that mean? He didn’t expect this tonight? He didn’t expect what tonight. Me? Holding me? What? I mean the cheek of him when I think of it! And the way he treated me, manhandled me. Not just that night, all the time. Pulling me into him, shoving me away, turning me round. He’s rough, rough and ready. I hit him once and he hit me back, told me he’d break my neck if I ever tried that again. And even that- the way he lashed out at me like that… Well, it said it all really! Tommy would never do that. Even when he found out about the affair he didn’t do it. You’d think he’d‘ve done something, put his hand through a window or something but no, he didn’t. He sort of bit into his folded fist and held it all in. He said he was going to kill Ramey but he didn’t do that either. He didn’t even go down after him. I suppose I should have been grateful for that at the time, but I wasn’t. Frankly, I was disappointed. The first time Tommy found out about it all I promised him faithfully that I’d call it a day, swore on the child’s life I’d never see Ramey Savage again, and I really meant it at the time. I did! But of course I didn’t stop seeing him. No, I met him on the sly: street corners and dimly-lit laneways and little out-of-the-way pubs. Or else we’d go to the city- to Dublin, book into a small hotel for the afternoon. On the train he’d sit in a different compartment until we were well out of town and then he’d slip up and sit at the table beside me. We’d do the reverse on the way back. But we were seen. The man selling the tea and coffee knew us, the other passengers saw what was going on. And the old biddy selling the newspapers outside the station twigged it too.

‘Hello Missus Shannon,’ she’d slyly yodel as I’d try to sidle by her in the rain.

Tommy was waiting on the station platform for me when I got back one evening.

‘I know you were with him,’ he said, darkly scanning the crowd. ‘I know where you’ve been.’

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I just turned and ran, ran to Ramey’s place and stayed there the night with him. The next day I drew out all my savings from the Credit Union and we took the mail boat to Fishguard the following morning and came down here to London and that was that. ^^^^^ I thought I heard footsteps coming up the stairs earlier on and I went out to see if it was Ramey, but it wasn’t. It was the lady from upstairs, who has the look of a fortune teller about her. Polish she is. Not very friendly. Keeps to herself. Looks away when you pass her on the landing. But then again, who am I to talk? I live like I’m living a double life here myself, peering out windows and drawing down the blinds. I mean what am I supposed to be hiding from exactly, what am I supposed to be ashamed of? I know- plenty, right? If you want to know the truth, I’m racked- with guilt and shame and some other terrible thing I have no name for yet. I try to keep busy. I work in the bar across the street- The Dog and Bone. A few hours a day- lunches, making them and serving them and then cleaning up after them when everyone is gone. They offered me a job in the bar at night too but I didn’t take it. Ramey didn’t want me to. He said he don’t like the idea of me waiting on people like that. He’s refused point blank to get a steady job himself, said he didn’t need one, that he’d make do. I don’t know what he gets up to half the time. He’s always ducking and diving. End up in jail if he’s not careful. Or worse!

He’s after taking my jewellery. Did I tell you that? Yeah, he took the lot this time.

He normally only takes a few things and pawns them, buys them back then -or redeems them or whatever you call it- whenever he wins a few bob. Not this time though, this time he’s cleaned me out. He’s found my savings too and took it all. What does that tell you? That he’s not coming back, right, that he’s gone for good. Doris said that this was bound to happen sooner or later, that he’d leave me here in squalor and that’s what he’s done, he’s left me in squalor. ^^^^^ Someone’s been looking for me. Yeah: a man. He came into The Dog and Bone last night and asked about me. Gene- behind the counter- confirmed to him that I did work there on and off alright, lunchtimes mostly she told him. But she didn’t tell him where I live, that I live right across the street, she never told him that. She said she wanted to check with me first and so she did, she gave me a call. It’s Tommy. He’s looking for me to go back I’d say. This is not the first time he came after me. When we lived in Paddington that time he was seen too- hanging around the station and the bus stops. Ramey got wind that Tommy was in some Irish Pub- The Shamrock 72

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Shore or somewhere - asking after us and we just upped and moved. Ramey’s brilliant that way, he’d find another place just like that, no bother. Never pays anyone of course. One of these days he’ll come a cropper. For all I know maybe he already has. And I know you probably think it’s romantic, Tommy coming after me and all, but it’s not. I’m his property and he wants me back, that’s all it is. And I’m not saying he’s all bad or anything now, because he’s not. He’s fairly kind and considerate and reliable and if he says he’ll do something he usually does it, he keeps his word. But he’s too set in his ways altogether, Tommyfor his own good. He’s too careful. People don’t like that, women don’t like it. He’s mad about the child mind you, I’ll give him that, he idolises her! The Young One he calls her. ‘Whatever she wants whenever she wants it,’ he used to say. And look, before you go canonising him now, there’s something else you should know, and I only found this out recently. I don’t think I told you this yet - or maybe I did- he’s seeing someone else himself. Doris told me she heard something about it and we get the local paper here too with all the news from home - in that corner shop on the…corner there. Tommy was in the paper a few weeks ago- a picture of him in the newspaper with this one at some dinner dance. (Yeah, it’s that time of year again!) Angie Something-orother. I know her. She used to go out with one of Tommy’s mates- Jimmy Brennan- until Jimmy died suddenly and now she’s after taking up with Tommy. A real spitfire she is! So, nine months and he’s already got a bit on the side. Yeah, missing me like crazy he is! ^^^^^ Margaret is the child’s name. After Tommy’s mother. And yeah, I have pictures of her, of course I do. I just don’t put them up, that’s all. I don’t know why. It doesn’t seem right somehow, to have pictures of her up all over the place after what I done. But I do harbour notions of her coming over here someday- to visit, or to stay here permanently if she wanted to- when she’s older that is. I’d like to have a nice place then though, a proper place. Ramey might get a handy job somewhere. There was a chance of a job in a casino once as a croupier- he’d be good at that I’d say- but it never came to pass for some reason. Tommy would have a field day with that last remark – the job that never came to pass for a fellow who wouldn’t work in a fit. Oho, I can just see Tommy’s face at that one! I could take her from him, you know- the child, if I wanted to. Nine times out of ten the judge’ll side with the mother, right? Yeah, if I wanted to hurt him, like really hurt him, that’s the way to do it. I might threaten him with that actually if he doesn’t leave me alone. Serve him right really. ^^^^^ 73

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I’ve just been talking to the landlord down in the hall below- or his son rather. A Greek, he is. He wants us out. He says he don’t care about the money we owe him, it’s not worth it, he says. We’re not worth having were the exact words he used. He wants us out by tomorrow morning, tomorrow evening at the latest, he said. He has someone else coming round to look at the place. I don’t know what to do. I’ve hardly any money left and it looks like Ramey’s not coming back now. Diana is right: I’ve been abandoned. Tommy came out of the coffee shop next door and went over to The Dog and Bone while I was down in the hall. I could see him through the frosted glass in the front door, a blurred version of him dodging the traffic as he crossed the busy street. He’s over there now, waiting for me, as if he knew. The Polish lady came down the stairs and said good afternoon to me, called me by my name. I didn’t even think she knew my name. A raw city breeze scraped against my face when she opened and shut the door. A big double decker bus pulled up right outside the building but once again Ramey failed to get off. I may go up now and put on my coat and go over and see Tommy, get it over and done with for once and for all. And I know what you’re thinking, that I’ll probably end up going back with him now but I won’t. No, that’s one thing, I can assure you, that’s not going to happen. I mean, come on, how can I? I couldn’t, I can’t. No. …No way, Jose. No chance, mate! ENDS.

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Room in Glasgow Janette Ayachi

From my window I watch you step over avenues. You are blotted into the background of a Melville watercolour, the muted palette of the gardens behind umber drops of flowers, apricot verbena, gaudy Arabia roses, barely visible, a dotted apparition. The city’s lunar basalt breath on my skin traffic vociferates, exhausts grunt, sirens chorus. I dress for the night, she is hungry for me.   This room is stifled with your scent our reaction to each other lifts like steam

condensing walls as pheromones infiltrate the air, light stutters and absence becomes void, something tells me you will not be back still I wait, somewhere time stirs, and it palpitates. I ignite a candle, position objects on a table as if preparing a séance, circling the seats and calling you back from the dead of nocturne. My escape routes are hedged with thorns, the fire exits open to a twenty foot drop and my wings are clipped to cartilage.  

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You are propped in the dip of dark at the nearest bar, your glass refills itself like a wishful illusion, a magic trick. I feel like when you left you took the stairs with you and I am trapped in this room in Glasgow, in a cloud, in this memory of you, and even though we have occupied this room for days you are still one of the vagabond phantoms that no one else remembers.

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Town by the Harbour Samuel Brenton

To describe an order in which money is the route of all examination, where labour is sunk one way in the pit and the other over the brow to the tower & intellect may penetrate the map under the map and say:

“Go without hope of expression & in merest happy chatter follow, slung packs about the shoulder,

here to our next set of relations [we exhort] where we, gagged, sat across in a circle think about how difficult it is for you, and you may then return to the condom factory with chocolate in your pocket, our restored and grateful proletariat, blindfolds now slipped from your eyes to your mouth & wait for us to write again our jumbled injunctions upon them in broken German.� Her father was a heroin dealer on Moss Side in Manchester (and supplied John Cooper Clarke). 77

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He knocked his head and thereafter confused his left and right, sat at the table once as a flap of skin peeled off and hung as also their wallpaper peeled and hung and revealed the bone of his skull and he would not let them move, wife & children at the table, their forks and knives set correctly in reverse. Across all axes the same, to fire blind will & hope & thought toward some deeper veracity: the possibility of insight and the thing uncovered, the seed and cold point of the explosion, despite. It moves, that impetus, in behind our daily relations as we encircle it, glance inward along the radius as we talk (the shrouded line) about this or that likewise lit endeavour on screens or paper, in red shifting procession to reveal its shape and pivot around it, whether or not there was anything in the centre when we first talked about it, like a story that begins with your mother and father making love, looking out along the shrouded line at everyone they conceive and they have conceived of everyone.

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(Bees render the hexagon mystical, as a fulcrum for social purpose, built in.) In the harbour the oil black sea licks gold upon the stones that stack up and fold around to cradle it. It is not my town by the gentle sea, but a project in living and documenting lives, town of a particular world: loaves and commerce, small secrets & birds and the scatty geometries of rooftops, a tide of swelling business as fish leap the harbour walls into cars and restaurant kitchens, as pulling out beneath, then bobbing and drifting away to the vast blue plate at the middle of the world, fifty something million floating hearts, spent fuel for land vehicles to charge a generation or two. She had a lesbian dream where a woman in her room was the devil with a barbed tail 79

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which she came around, fire in her belly. Her windows were black, open and hollow & howled in things impossible for living. You will die young, torn out in your windows, & she did, fire in her bones and belly. Forget it (allegiance), sling it in the pit and go on without it, a commensurate little betrayal in memoriam and kind. Fly off, memory, wing to the sky. (Yet I keep it under the wing.) Look out along the shrouded line & compare the dreams of your mother and father with the things you think and say & what things you do for money and learn to put away.

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Wind Helen Calcutt

The wind cannot suffer itself. It is suffer itself. An unguarded throm of the very lowest pitch, tingling over grass thumbs. Wind cannot hide. It is an open mouth, gorging on flies and broken moth particles. The wind cannot worry openly. It is an inward cry bloating from the throat like a water-scream parting wetly over the red. The wind cannot feel. Its skin hangs by two ropes some way, over the dark moon. Only the wind can breathe, truly only the moon can touch the wind, and breathe and colour her womanly.

We look to the wind to carry our voices. Like bells over the hillside, clanging their rust; looking for a ghost to betoken light, to silence us. Wind is the cradle of our minds. When we stand in deepening dark, and the day’s severed cord, hangs in human tatters, like a stroke of human fingers, over the blue. 81

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Wind is our touch leading us through the gate, into the dying green filled with yellow faces. Wind is the sound of the door, closing at the back of us. Always recognised like a person you see, throwing one foot forward, always recognised like a person you hear wind is the sack of your mind. Carried through places out of place, through half-dreams Half-going somewhere definite. Wind is the sudden light in rain, dropped in weird spaces chasing lightness, like rain wind is touch-tender and heated. Wind is the closing mind, of our closing minds. Wind is the shape of our voice, finding eyes when at last we see, when at last we look through; wind is the shape of our absence.

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Morning Chorus Helen Calcutt

On steel earth and dog heat The dogs wept. Not silence. Not even the silence of the cage After it breaks, from the dull river of your breathing And the river of your bloodstream. And the wet crackling of your mouth. Not the silence of the trees Nor the whispered hush from nightwalls escaping; Only the amplification of a rat’s heart. The dumb dust road’s expression. Leaves being picked up, And with a sigh let down. The slow walking vagrant determined To beat our silences by walking. And now, in animal red From a tree of bones The murmuring convicts Start singing…

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Dawn James Luchte

Where the Hesperides lovely nymphs of the evening dance this joyous play - light, darkness on the street, the coxswain beats his drum beginning... ending – cockcrow... deathknell transition - inexorable faces of indefinite-ness –

Dawn is the beginning of the day ... journey to the end of the night – Dawn is war peace, disease health, hate love... Evening is the beginning of night, the end of days. Day passes over into night, night into day. Dawn is one of the Twilights Twilight precedes dawn, evening, betwixt day night, night day – Twilight descends into night, ascends toward dawn. The sun rises – it also sets. Ascends descends. Day is the place, event, happening of light – Night is the place, event, happening of darkness Day night, dawn evening, indefinite return, spiral of light darkness – 84

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The inexorable day night, place, light darkness, dawn evening. (Being becoming, One Many, Aletheia) There is no pure light or pure darkness in the play of light darkness. Twilight is the place of - between light darkness. Twilight – in - between ascension descension of sun, light darkness. Play of light darkness - with day, light rules - with night, darkness rules. (The ‘grammar’ of light and darkness, the ‘game’ with inexorable ‘rules’).

Without darkness, light would not birth relief, perspective, space, body, place In the Open, lightning needs a dark sky. The Open is the place of day night, light darkness. Darkness does not need light, but is never free of light – Darkness surrounds, engulfs the light. (There is only pure darkness for us in the deepest caves, concealed from the light of day night). The moon, stars inhabit a sky of darkness light, night day. With the descent of the sun, eclipse of light, evil returns in his recension to the eclipse. Dawn, day nearly precedes the rise of the sun, Beckons this return of light into the Open, (although darkness is always there). Evening, night is the eclipse of the sun, return of moon and stars – return - disclosure of darkness into the Open – (We see the moon, stars during the day, though they are eclipsed in obscurity). The ‘West’ does not exist.

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The Key of Dreams Amit Chaudhuri

About seven years ago, I noticed a longish review in the pages of the Times Literary Supplement. What drew my attention to it was not its subject, an obscure French writer called Raymond Roussel, but the author of the book under review, the English poet Mark Ford, whom I knew slightly. Relieved it was a positive review, I was, however, bemused by Roussel, a writer of whom not only I, but, it seemed, many others were not aware. Roussel appeared to be another one of Ford’s eccentric, subterranean, un-English preoccupations; for Ford was a devotee of the American poet John Ashbery, whose ironic ludic-plangent style was more of a minority taste in Britain than falafel or the nouveau roman. And yet Roussel’s reputation had been growing. Born in 1877 into luxury and to a fairly odd mother (who carried a coffin with her on her travels in case she died in transit), more a curiosity who occasionally attracted lavish praise from famous writers than ever the famous writer he himself longed to be, Roussel was taken up, unsurprisingly, as a minor cult by the Surrealists, whose project he, on his part, was not overly taken with. Unsurprising, because there’s an intransigent note of numinous solemnity to the bizarrely playful methods Roussel used in his composition – bizarre especially to contemporary French critics – just as his life seems to be a mixture of comic punctiliousness and mysterious unfulfilment. The tranquil poise of impossible juxtapositions: this might be one of the goals of Roussel’s life and his writing, as well as the subject of many of the photographs he left behind, starting with the picture of the three-year-old Roussel upon a swan, hands innocently encircling its slender neck, or, a little older, in Turkish costume, ‘pretending to smoke,’ as Ford’s caption reads, ‘a pipe.’ Roussel’s writing depended, as he put it in How I Wrote Certain Of My Books, on a ‘very special method’. The French word translated here as method is procédé, and it’s a term that, by now, has come to be associated in certain circles with Roussel’s comical-mystical endeavour. ‘At the heart of the procédé lies the pun,’ says Ford. The early stories ‘begin and end with phrases that are identical except for a single letter, but where each major word is used in a different 86

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sense.’ The procédé probably came to Roussel with two sentences, ‘Les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du vieux billard’, and the near-identical ‘les lettres du blanc sur les bandes du vieux pillard.’ Roussel decided, or, as it were, was directed to, begin a story with the first sentence, which means, ‘the letters [of the alphabet] in white chalk on the cushions of the old billiard table’, and conclude it with the second, which, with the ‘b’ in the last word transmogrified into a ‘p’, means, ‘the letters sent by the white man about the hordes of the old plunderer’. One can see why the surrealists would have liked the procédé, emerging straight-faced as it does from the scientism of the nineteenth century, with its complete investment in order and logic, while also undermining that scientism somewhat disreputably. Exactly the same thing, I suppose, could be said about psychoanalysis, its own procédé or method, and its relationship to the recognised sciences.

One’s also struck by the difference between the Rousselian, even the Surrealist, ‘game’ or ‘method’, and the narrative play of much of post-modern writing, which seldom loses its moorings in the histories of the New World and of colonialism. For the Surrealists, the great tension, as in their experiments with ‘automatic writing’, is between bourgeois artifice and predictability on the one hand, and chance, or even fate, on the other: there’s a notable faith in the unknown that the future will inexorably throw up. For Roussel and the Surrealists, chance is the great begetter, and it’s to chance – fate’s mundane but nevertheless pregnant incarnation – they must attend, and to its disruption of the inevitability that socialisation visits upon us: this is, for instance, what Magritte’s painting, The Key of Dreams, is ‘about’. The one Indian writer in English I can think of who dabbled intriguingly in a sort of procédé in his early work is the bilingual Arun Kolatkar. A sui generis song Kolatkar composed in the early Seventies (before he’d embarked on the poem-sequence Jejuri, and when he still entertained hopes of being a rock musician) begins with a line which he lifted from a typed message being distributed by an educated beggar on a train: ‘I am a poor man from a poor land’. This line clearly suggested to Kolatkar an opening on to a domain whose meaning was quite distinct from the line’s original intention: for his song is at once a parody of a Baul devotional, and a sales pitch for Indian rock music to a transcontinental record producer. Then there are the ‘Marathi’ poems in which Kolatkar began to experiment with Bombay Hindi, often using, as Arvind Krishna Mehrotra pointed out to me, what Marcel Duchamp called ‘readymades’ or ‘found objects’. The line in the beggar’s message is a ‘found object’; so is the last line of the poem Kolatkar himself translated as ‘Biograph’, ‘Can’t you see where you going you motherfucker?’, whose original (‘Dikhta nahin maderchod dikhta nahin?’) Kolatkar must have heard many times, as I have, from the mouths of Bombay’s taxi and bus drivers. ‘Biograph’ is about an unfortunate everyman, ‘Mr Nene’; and, at some point, Kolatkar realised that ‘Dikhta nahin maderchod…’ is an unforgiving philosophical pun, containing both an invective and a vision of existence, and 87

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that it could be used both as a summation of a life and the conclusion of a poem: in other words, as a procédé. The procédé, then, is superficially akin to, but significantly unlike, the Jamesian doneé, which, for the novelist, was a banal instant or stimulus that suddenly provided him with an opportunity to explore imaginary narrative terrain. The procédé is somewhat different, in that it hints not only at imaginative possibility, but toward a formal one; for Roussel and Kolatkar, the procédé, or self-imposed ‘method’, leads not only to the birth of a new story or poem, but to the necessity of fresh formal construction. My own interest in Roussel has grown surreptitiously, because, really, I was charmed by the titles of his books, especially Impressions of Africa and New Impressions of Africa. What

held me, in particular, was the fact that Roussel had never been to equatorial Africa, the setting of that first ‘novel’; this was instructive, but in what way, I couldn’t pinpoint. It reminded me of my late uncle’s enthusiasm for Chander Pahar; his contradictory satisfaction at the fact that Bibhutibhusan Bandyopadhyay had never seen Africa. Roussel travelled, of course; he even went to Egypt and came to India; but, like the procédé, his travels are about the bathos of the idea of onward movement. The staged photographs of Roussel in exotic locations are like Surrealist forerunners of the tourist’s experience of foreignness, where people make a studio, a microcosm, of wherever they happen to be, turning a scene into a backdrop for their figures. Often, Roussel visited these places in a roulette, a luxurious, caravan-like vehicle, in which he was accompanied and attended to by his staff, and from which he hardly emerged. Roussel came back to me during my recent trip to the Paris Book Fair; not just because he was from Paris, but because the visit was oddly Rousselian. By the time it ended, it occurred to me that, in Paris after eleven years, I had seen almost nothing of the city. There was the hotel room; then the coach from the hotel to the aerodrome-like building that hosted the Fair; then back to the hotel again: all this punctuated by lunches, readings, gossip, dinner. Soon, I realised that there were other writers who’d habituated themselves to, and probably profited from, this peculiar notion of travel. The historian Mushirul Hasan told me he was having a wonderful time in Paris. ‘What do you do?’ I asked. ‘I stay in my hotel room and dictate my new chapter,’ he said. In the coach, the Eiffel Tower often followed us about, augmenting the sense of interiority; reduced and reproduced infinitely, it has become a piece of furniture. ‘Who is it who said,’ observed Ananthamurthy suddenly from the seat in front of me, ‘that to escape the Eiffel Tower you have to go inside it?’ He ruminated for a few moments, as the lighted geometric shape waited patiently. ‘I think it was Barthes,’ he said finally, with his sweet sage-like smile.

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Uprising

A Memorial to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on the Sixtieth Anniversary, April 19th, 1943 Steven Berkoff

Warsaw, Poland, nineteen forty-three, April the nineteenth… just to be precise, When Jewish rebels spewed into the street Their hatred for the murdering Nazi lice. The few machine guns they had costly bought Chatted their deadly song into the brutes

Who screeching, fled, leaving many a corpse… ’How could they do this to us, they’re only Jews!’ Just lice, vermin, scum, untouchables, So preached philosophers of the Nazi race, While yelling in dissonant, German, guttural tones, ’Heil Hitler!’ and shoved their arm up by their face. How could the German nation salute this beast? A nation that spawned Beethoven, Goethe, Bach, They heard his racists’ filth, got on their knees And cried out ‘Mein Führer’ from their deepest hearts.

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German or Nazi, ah now, that’s the rub. The Nazi mask conceals the inner man, Those murderers were not Germans, no, not us! The ‘Nazis’ did it… Decent Germans ran! The nation loved him with one mighty mouth, He built the motorways, made people work, In Bierkeller or in the Kaffeehaus, Hitler was sung while dirty yids were cursed. Their rotten books were piled high in a pyre, The thoughts of man confused their addled brains, They hurled their words into a giant fire All over Europe spread the Nazi stain. And now the tidal scum reached Poland’s shores, Two million Hebrews lived in harmony, Amongst the Polish Christians, obeyed the law, Built theatres, wrote books and played in symphonies. The poorer lived and worked, sweated and bred, Some lived in ghettoes, such as they were called, Four hundred thousand yids faced certain death As bricklayers built the Warsaw Ghetto’s walls. Warsaw was the capitol of the Jewish world, Zionists and Bundists, capitalists and socialists, Doctors and surgeons, carpenters and dentists, Teachers and tailors, hear the warning bell! And so we wait to hear from the Nazi thugs, September first in thirty-nine they came… Jackboots, and helmets like dead cold skulls, In one week they stood at the Warsaw gates. How they bombed Warsaw day and fearful night, In twenty bloody corpse-filled days it fell, A mere fifty thousand dead, man, wife and child, And thus began the first glimpse inside hell. 90

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The German Nazis carry their hell within, Transporting their filth to where they set their feet, Their breath was acid, they farted poison gas, Their sweat dissolved the plants, on blood they feast. And now they sniff the warmer Jewish blood… Bloodhounds well-trained by their master, the maddest Hun, Salivate as they sink their yellow teeth Into a Semite throat, the chosen ones. Chosen to be Treblinka’s honoured guests, Sixty miles away the ovens burn, The chimneys daily pour their filthy smoke, And belch from gorging too much kosher flesh. Their heads were shorn, why waste the precious stuff, It fills a mattress, cushion, swells a chair, You may be sitting on Sarah’s precious curls, So don’t be sentimental, it’s only hair! But first you work, you lazy parasites! Forced labour for your kindly Nazi hosts, Long hours, no pay, we’ll squeeze the greasy kikes, For those too old, we’ll turn them into ghosts. For once, Moishe will taste some honest graft, You can’t exploit the Aryan or the goy, But ‘cause we know the Shylock race is smart… You’ll run the entire ghetto for us… Jew boy! 1940 And now a ring was formed around its throat On November sixteenth, the ghetto sealed, Four hundred thousand souls were swiftly crushed As the weaker died, their space was quickly filled.

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From every town and village the race was torn, Leaving behind the memories of long years, Mothers, husbands, young wives with child unborn Were crushed into the ghetto with their tears. Rumours of deportations now are rife, It’s mid July in nineteen forty-two, Czerniakow, the ghetto’s leader, commits suicide, He cannot get the Nazi quota filled. Pity those poor Catholics caught in the net, Who long ago shed off their Hebrew kin, But Nuremberg laws did say the smell persists Of their ancient brother’s loathsome skin. But now the Nazi machine is well in place, It’s time now folks to say the last farewell, Drag your suitcases to the Umschlagplatz And take a one-way ticket, first class to Hell! Treblinka, your foul name will never fade, But shall outlast the very universe, While cities, empires and dynasties decay, Your name will be an everlasting curse. But drag your rubbish to the Umschlagplatz To make believe you’ll need your precious clothes, A change of underwear, spare shoes and reading glass, ’Excuse me, here, you’ll not need those.’ First, ‘Transports’ take the orphans, they’re no use, Can’t make them work in factories and mines, Their teacher Janusz Korczak knew the truth, But held their hands until the end of time! (He held their hands until the end of time!)

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First, take the old and weakest, they’re no use, You have no papers? Then you’re next, my friend. It’s just a formality since the Nazi brutes Have busy ovens, whose hunger never ends. The canisters of gas they dropped within, And watched the writhing bodies scream and gasp, Clawing their way into a human pyramid, The nearest to the top, they died the last. (Breathe deeply, children, and soon it will be past.) ‘Fight back!’ survivors cried, ‘What’s wrong with us? Jewish resistance, that will never be. When four hundred thousand were alive We marched to death with neat efficiency!’ But now with only fifty thousand left There was determination to ‘resist’… Three hundred and fifty thousand souls wiped out Within three months by those who deal in death. July until September, forty-two, Civilisation ceases to exist As transport after transport turned the Jews Into crushed bones in rancid smoking pits. A great achievement for the master race, Which got the tardy trains to run on time, Inflation cured and euthanasia For retards and the homosexual swine. But most of all, you German Nazi dogs, You did the utter indescribable, Murdered children, yes even God was shocked, While your wives ate Sacher Torte and read the Bible.

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So now, oh yes, oh now we will begin, For now, yes now, this truly is the last, The last time we will pack our suitcases, And like dumb cattle, walk to railway cars. No more, no more, the vulture’s drunk enough, An ocean of blood won’t slake the monster’s thirst, So now resist those filthy vampire bats, Our slogan: We will die like humans first! (We will die like humans first!) Fighting, striking, attacking the Nazi curse, Mordecai will lead the rebel troops, A Joshua has risen from the earth, But first we kill those compromising Jews! To save their frightened skins they aid the beasts. Such scum has no continuance on this earth, We must stamp out this vermin with our feet, Even if we share the self same blood? These Judases who’d sell their brothers’ flesh, They swooned into the devil’s wretched arms, Descendants of great Moses who then smashed The tablets, seeing them lick the golden calf. On January ninth, nineteen forty-three, Nazi chief Himmler visits the ghetto, Desiring an opportunity to gloat At dying remnants and thin walking shadows. Crawling along the bloodstained ghetto walls, Freezing on the heartless naked streets, Just fifty thousand humans left to kill, ’I want eight thousand more to go this week.’ Himmler might be ordering sausages, But living human sausages at that… Snap your fingers for Herr Ober… ‘Ja,’ ’Acht tausend Juden, bitte…’ but no fat! 94

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But Mordecai Anielewicz, rebel lord, Said, ‘No one goes… This is no more, No more, no more, and now this is the law.’ The empty streets were silent when the Nazis came. Yes, suddenly the rebel guns barked out… And shattered ancient myths of Nazi might, They fled like screaming chickens, shitting pants, Jawohl! The Nazi cowards were put to flight. Jawohl, jawohl, jawohl, ja fucking wohl! Brave heroes you are, defenceless girls you rape… What guts, to drag old women from their homes, So brave to tear a mother from her babe! So now eat, homemade steel, pig swine and cry… How dare the Yiddish bastards dare not die… How dare they, dare they, dare they, dare they try… To live like human beings, refuse to die?! The rebels’ action lasted just three days… But now the end is marked, our days are short, But the rebels’ armed resistance is here to stay, Outnumbered, that’s the way, we always fought. The weeks they passed, the deportations ceased, The coward Nazis licked their wounds and watched, For once the ghetto rebels rejoiced with glee, For German blood now stained its ancient streets! The rebels’ fighting organisation watched, And waited eighty-seven days, alert. Himmler allowed three days to clear the ‘rot’… It took a month and Nazis tasted dirt. April the nineteenth, the Jews’ Passover feast, When death passed over the Israelite slaves, The blood of the lamb on the doorposts was a sign, For God’s dark angel, who would pass them by. 95

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So on this night we celebrate the flight, And eat unleavened bread flavoured with tears, Remembering the time when mothers gathered mites, And walked into the desert for forty years. So on this night we must remember this, April nineteenth in nineteen forty-three, The uprising began and rebel fists Threw hand grenades and slew the enemy! When Jewish fists were clenched, clenched hard and tight, Not held up in the air like frightened slaves Gathered up and marching, a mournful sight, As listlessly they stumbled to their graves. But not tonight, not this night, never more. Now, set this down into the holy scroll, April nineteenth in nineteen forty-three, And remember it with heart and soul! It first began on January eighteen, We heard the Nazi orchestra begin, Shouts and gunfire, and trucks and screams, As Nazis ordered… ‘Get out in the streets!’ ‘Get out! Get out! Be at the assembly point, A bullet in your head if you don’t speed, I’ll bash you black and blue until your joints Are broken, cracked, and then I’ll watch you bleed…’ But Mordecai Anielewicz prepared, A dozen fighters pistol’d up and brave, They planned to join the frightened marching herd, Who tramped down solemn streets like abject slaves. They had their guns concealed and at a cue, They stepped out of the line of stumbling Jews, And turned their weapons on their charming hosts, Their orders… ‘Take the German nearest you!’ 96

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The Nazis for the first time were attacked, Inside the ghetto, their favourite slaughterhouse! The victims ran, dissolved into the cracks. The cat was swallowed by the tiny mouse. Oh joy, oh God, what wonders do we see, The S.S. killed and wounded, others fled Leaving their caps and weapons as they flee, Alas, there were so many rebels dead. Let’s praise dear Yitzhak Zuckerman and his small group, Fighting with much courage in Zamenhov Street, The Nazis burst in hungry for those Jews, Now rats would celebrate the German feast! The Jewish fighting organisation, so named, They sprang out from the shadows, just appeared, They freed those being led to the deathly trains, Knowing their time was short, they had no fear. The Nazis whined with fury, sick with rage, And seized the old, the weak and those infirm, Not face the strong, the young, they were afraid, Alas, six thousand more were dragged away. Mass slaughter of the innocent on that fourth day, In the ghetto’s bloody streets one thousand souls Were murdered for their gall and so they paid For not trotting respectfully to their graves! The January action left the S.S. dazed, The ghetto now was quiet, not a face, The Germans hesitate, how could these slaves Dare to attack the devil’s master race? The devil stunk inside his loathsome hide, The Jew’s example might inspire the Poles, As news of the resistance spread far and wide, The Nazis cogitated, there was a lull. 97

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Now the cautious ones in jubilation cheered. Who once believed resistance would tighten the knot Of the hangman’s noose that sits around their throat, They wracked themselves ‘tween doubt and new found hope. And what a sad success it really was, Symbolic, a gobspit in the Nazi eye, Although we scratched the loathsome Hitler beast, We could not stop those led away to die. Yet we were mistaken, there was no plan To exterminate the ghetto to the last man… Slave labour was still needed by the Hun, ’More uniforms!’ as Nazis died in tons… But the Warsaw ghetto now must be destroyed, Erased from off old Poland’s scar-lined face, For the Nazis were afraid Der Untermensch, Would persuade the Polish criminals to be brave. ‘Oh no!’ the German factory owner shrieked, Since Yiddish blood was turned to German gold, ’We must not lose the labour that’s so cheap, The Wehrmacht must be fed and product sold!’ There was a bitter conflict for Jew flesh, The ovens of Treblinka must be filled, But the Wehrmacht needs the labour, needs their sweat, But the S.S. orders are ‘Take out and kill!’ Five thousand heads a day were put on trains, From Warsaw to Treblinka, ran on time, The factories of death through sun and rain, Producing nothing but an everlasting stain. A stain that never ever can be erased, Though centuries will heap their heavy years, The rancid smell will always dribble through, Treblinka soil is sodden with blood and tears. 98

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But now in conflict are the wretched Huns, For their efficiency in killing Jews, Depleted factory workers making guns, ’Our soldiers die without their killing tools!’ TRANSFER Friedrich Wilhelm Krüger, S.S. general: ’There are advantages and disadvantages, ’Though Himmler wishes all the Jews expelled, They are the best mechanics and we pay no wages! ‘The lazy Poles cannot do the job as well, The Reichführer Himmler must then change his mind Before we consign Yiddish scum to Hell, Suck out the fruit and throw away the rind.’ Walter Többens, factory owner begs, ’Please, Jews, come to our lovely new location, Leave the ghetto with its criminal dregs, We’ll teach your children, learn a new vocation.’ But inexplicably, the Jews did doubt The promises of the German entrepreneur… Of thirty-six hundred workers, thirty turned out… The rebels had warned them, ‘Do not volunteer!’ Shelters, tunnels and cellars were fortified, The smell of resistance electrified the air, The destruction of the Ghetto was in sight, This time they’d fight like tigers in their lair. Furiously they dug their holes at night, A warren of bunkers deep beneath the earth, Their work was done with skill for the heart was light, We would see the Jewish rebellion’s birth!

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Everything was thought of, nothing rushed… Even sanitary arrangements made, There must be water and fresh air, food stuff. Our experts even wired electric cables. The siege may last for ever, so we need Doctors, medicines, bandages and yes, cyanide. And now there was a bunker for us all, And so we wait, barbarians, make your strike! The ghetto was a city that was split, Houses above the ground, tunnels below, An army of worker ants, they daily teemed, The Nazis prepared to make their final blow. PAST Now we few were the last, the very last, Three hundred thousand others turned to smoke, And this is just from Warsaw, the die was cast To crush us in one final brutal stroke. Between July and September forty-two, The Nazis siphoned up the pliant Jews ’Out of your house, right now, or you’ll be shot! Juden, move! Take your belongings, take your rot! ‘Take your stinking children, take your bags, You must have a number, move faster, scum, March in line! You skeletons in rags, Faster! March! You shit, move quicker, run! ‘We have whips and bayonets for you… Some will be selected, ja! the special few, They’ll be allowed to be our slaves, you Jews Have all the luck, let’s see if it’s you!

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‘March along the line, no permit, no? Then head off to the Umschlagplatz… Go!…Go! What’s that under your coat, a baby’s cry? A bayonet thrust will save the kid a ride!’ So some did work and some did swiftly die, And from Treblinka they flew to paradise, Yet some escaped and lived to tell their tale, David Nowodworski describes Hell: ‘Even at death’s door the Nazis schemed, To make believe you have a future life, ”Go to the bathhouse, shower and get cleaned, We will rid you of your crawling lice.”’ Met at the station by a welcoming crew, Alsatian dogs and guns and stinging whips, So kind of you to greet your fellow Jews, Our brethren police were executing Yids! They saw their brethren, dressed in uniform, Fulfil their roles with added zeal, Your Jewish brother sheds his brother’s gore? The S.S. forced them, kill or you’ll be killed. ‘If you do not give us five heads a day, The quota in the ghetto, never fail, Your wives and children will make up your pay.’ The tears of angels fell like heavy hail. But now this is the last, the very last… The ghetto fighters now were unified, The final struggle will shortly come to pass, And Nazis too will join the funeral pyre. We wait, we wait, so patiently for the time, Why can’t those German Nazis leave us alone? Always ordering with their shrieking tones, They want to strip our flesh right to the bone. 101

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It is their cause, the maniacs’ contract, It focuses their minds beyond themselves, Their vacant souls become a tomb for rats, And scapegoats make the Nazi bums feel swell. The enemy must decide the final date, Which marks for all of us the end of time, A thousand years in Poland we have made Our home, and now upon our corpses Fritz will dine. We did all the things that people like to do, Sat in cafés and argued about Karl Marx, Went to the movies, held each other’s hands, Walked on Sunday, fed ducks in the park. Now huddled in bunkers we talked and analysed, Ate our basic food, black bread and jam, Sometimes some soup, a blessing to have rice, But priority, to arm each precious man. Of fighting groups there now were twenty-two, The Dror, Hashomer Hatzaír and the Bund, The Communists had four trained fighting troops, Akiva, Godonia, Po’alei and Hazion. The Ghetto was divided in three states, The central, where the wretched poor exist, The workshop area, home for all the slaves, The brushmakers for the human two-pronged sticks. Mordecai Anielewicz rules the central state, Entrenched like Joshua, waiting for his time, Israel Kanal had eight brave fighting squads, Commander Yitzhak Zuckerman had nine. What can we do but fight with heart and soul, What military experience have we, none? No hand to hand battles in the street or squares, Their crushing force will blow us to kingdom come. 102

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What chance against these well-fed, well-armed thugs, Who leave their warm barracks to kill thin Jews? At night they shave and shower off our blood, While we sip slowly on our watery stew. But like gazelles we’ll leap from roof to roof, From many places surprise the sleeping beast, From alleyways and crevices we’ll shoot, Wait until they follow, then let your bullets feast! Sometimes in darkened alley we’ll appear, Or else behind a broken chimney pot, And then our sweet grenades will swiftly tear Their hearts out, and then we’ll see them drop. There is no plan for withdrawal, none, Since this is where we fight and where we die. ’We want to save the honour of mankind, And rip out of their throats the wicked lie. That never did we fight back, defend ourselves, Like frightened sleepwalkers we marched to die, But now brave friends we fought, and fought back well, While others gaped, their limp hands by their sides. Landings, alcoves, basements, corners, roofs, From all directions fire and never cease, Ration your precious bullets, only shoot When you can see the eye of the Nazi beast! Passover April nineteenth, nineteen forty-three, We celebrate Passover, even here, But tonight be vigilant, do not sleep, For Pharaoh will rise again, beware!

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But then did Moses have the ear of God, And did he not come forth with miracles? So we pray this night, ‘Strike with thy rod, Do not be deaf to the cries of Israel!’ ‘The Germans are coming this night, prepare defence, Now listen to your standing orders, Jews, ”Jan – Warsaw” is the magic word, good friends, The password for this night and God save you.’ Get down into the bunkers, block the streets! Use everything to halt the Nazis’ path! Old furniture in doorways, cupboards, seats! Your wardrobe, tables, chests and broken glass! Marek Edelman, commander, the Ghetto’s brushmaking section, Reports: ‘Information reached them at two a.m. The Germans are advancing, prepare for action, Tonight we fight, take your positions, men!’ Oberführer von Sammern-Frankenegg, Was not expecting too much opposition, ’Ja, a little maybe, from these dregs, The Yids don’t fight, it’s not their disposition.’ Yet Himmler had small confidence in him, So sent his S.S. general Jürgen Stroop… Against uprisings Stroop knew how to win, There was no depth to which he would not stoop. His murder expedition was to earn The Nazi devil the Iron Cross first class, Awarded by Field Marshall General Keital For valour against the helpless human dross. Two thousand German soldiers, fighting fit, Machine guns numbering one hundred and thirty-five, A cannon, flame throwers, thirteen heavy guns, Twelve hundred rifles and three armoured cars. 104

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Ukrainians and camp guards to go in first, To take the bullets if they start to fly, No, this action will not take too long, We’ll smoke them out and, ja, we’ll watch them die. The Jewish fighting force was just in name, Of military training barely none, Seven-fifty young combatants and brave, Desperate to fight and each man had a gun. Revolvers of various calibres and makes, Ammunition, ten to fifteen rounds… Four hand grenades for each, mostly handmade, And Molotov cocktails make a lovely sound. A couple of machine guns that they earned In the January rebellion when they slew Some Nazis, now their spouting mouths would turn Upon the enemy when once they spat on Jews. April the nineteenth at four a.m. they came, Entering the ghetto’s now deserted streets, The fighters in the bunkers did await The growing sound of Nazis’ marching feet. It sounds like thousands, marching without end! A march of death and we would die like flies, They moved as if to war they’re being sent, How weak we felt against this armoured tide. But others had a different point of view, Tuvia Borzykowski recorded this: ’At six a.m. the siege surrounded us few, We had them in our sights, we could not miss! ‘We did not wait for them to slaughter us, From each and every post we showered them With hails of bullets, hand grenades and bombs, Our homemade efforts fell with great aplomb!’ 105

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Exploded as they should, we were relieved, The Warsaw Ghetto’s uprising has begun! Their wounded and their dead lay in the streets, We scurried out and swiftly took their guns. Oh, how they fled, the frightened Nazi scum, No longer marching in neat, pompous ranks, But scattered into groups, to walls they clung, Or hid like frightened beasts behind their tanks. Like fruit being tossed from heavy-laden branches

Whose limbs swung back and forth in heaving winds, So hand grenades were hurled from every vantage, And death pursued them in the screaming din. The German Nazis were amazed and stunned, ’Juden haben waffen! Juden haben waffen!’ they shout, The Jews have arms! And how they swiftly run, And bloody Nazi corpses lay round about. I, Haim Frymer, stationed at the corner of Zamenhof, Stood on the balcony, my Mauser cocked, I fired upon the smoking, shrill compost Of yelling Nazis, burning tanks and dust. The air was full of wails and wounded screams, The Nazi killers were totally unprepared, This was beyond our wildest, wildest dreams, Now from Jews the Krauts were running scared! Diving for cover, pissing in their pants, They turned around and ran, withdrew, Then from a house in Muranowski Street, A rebel flag arose in white and blue. Not just once the Germans fled but twice! Mordecai Anielewicz in his journal wrote, For forty minutes one company faced their might, The second for six hours stayed at their post. 106

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Nearby, our German ‘Schmeisser’ fiercely barked, Our submarine gun that was costly bought, No sweeter music filled our pounding hearts, Like Joshua’s warriors, our survivors fought. Please God, come to our aid and fill our cup, As when the sacred oil on Chanukah Burned brightly for eight days and then eight nights, Until the enemy was put to flight. But now the Polish underground must rise, Strike! my friends, and give us your support, Our strength is limited, you must see our plight, We must not say, that all alone we fought. Don’t watch us from your windows and your doors, Admiring from a distance as we die… But cast yourselves among us, help destroy The enemy, while chaos and confusion fly. Anielewicz wrote to Yitzhak Zuckerman, Our representative on the Aryan side, ’We need grenades, explosives, machine guns,’ But the desperately needed weapons never arrived. Zuckerman begged the Polish underground, ’The time, my friends, is swiftly running out,’ They answered, ‘Wait until the Russians strike The Nazis, that’s the time to stage a rout.’ The Nazis in disorder and in shame Withdrew their badly wounded and their dead, Screaming accusations, who’s to blame? The S.S. General Stroop becomes their head. A Nazi tank burst into furious flames. Two armoured cars by our homemade grenades, Were halted in their tracks, their driver slain, Twelve dead and many wounded, God blessed this day! 107

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Oh, how the Nazis whined and how they blamed… Von Sammern’s soldiers simply ran away, Jawohl, the military defeat would be a stain Upon the proud and mighty S.S. name! Von Sammern was dismissed, Stroop took command, He would show Himmler how to kill the pests, With heavy arms he would destroy the yids, Then watch them die inside their burning nests. And so they hoped, but this was not to be, Not yet a while as fighters returned fire, But the rebels’ bullets sadly could not now reach The Nazis and their stronger fighting power. But still they fought, machine guns now were used By comrades fighting in the central Ghetto, Again the Nazi raiders were confused, As bullets round the burning buildings echo’d. The Nazis slowly moved just step by step, Penetrating houses, climbing stairs, Seeking out the killers in their nest, But when they found it the birds had disappeared. Swiftly charging, through attics, underground, Hiding in bunkers, in the sewage tunnels’ stew, Leaping, darting, swiftly while bullets pound, Refilling rifles and shooting as they flew. The Nazis were inflamed, their violence grew, They scoured the sewers, found five hundred Jews, These were unarmed and helpless and with children too, They wanted many thousands more but ‘Ach! They’ll do!’ As there were not enough to cram the train, More practical to shoot them on the spot, Or torch their stinking hovels, burn them alive, There were no limits on Earth to German wrath. 108

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As if we were in medieval times, When Jews were burnt in London and in York, Accused of killing little Christian babes, Stretching the innocent to make them talk. Confess to crimes that were insane, obscene, So they could free themselves of heavy debts, The Jews were money lenders to the king… So why not slaughter those bloodsucking pests? Twentieth April, nineteen forty-three, A strange calm fell upon the streets that night, The ghettos’ creatures wandered out and spoke Of such wondrous and amazing sights, The day the Nazi murderers were smote! This day will surely mark the end of time, And from this day the seeds will then be sown, Fed with the martyrs’ blood, upon this day We’ll reap the fruit that we can call our own. The morning came again as German plagues Advanced and stormed those houses, bearing flags, Machine guns and light cannon sprayed Their venom and rebel leader Leon Rodal fell. But factory owner Többens squealed, ‘Please wait, And save our valuable machinery,’ He begged the General Stroop to relocate The assets to a safer territory. ‘Then, turn the ghetto into one mass grave!’ Stroop thought this was far more sensible. ’We’ll kill the terrorists, some scum we’ll save, To be slaves in our vital industry.’

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Three German officers at three p.m., White handkerchiefs attached to their lapels, Called for ceasefire, just an interim, To persuade shop-workers, come and make a deal. ‘Deportation’s really not so bad, Your lives you’ll save, your families’ as well, These terrorists are criminals, raving mad, Trust us, you can believe the lies we tell!’ In spite of this fine offer, few came out, It seems the Jews could not believe the Hun, Arbeit macht frei is what they always spout, But after work? Treblinka’s not much fun. So Stroop begins, the ancient ghettos fall, And centuries of history will turn to dust, Blowing up the soul of the Hebrew nation, Since mass murder is not quite enough. The Warsaw Daily, the city’s underground sheet, Reported the events amid some pride, ’The war of despair continues in the streets, Through overwhelming courage, Nazis died. ‘Yesterday the Germans celebrated The day when Satan’s evil spawn came forth, The monster Hitler was born on such a day, On such a day don’t celebrate, but mourn! ‘This could be a day for amnesty, A ritual seen throughout the enlightened world, When heads of state on birthdays decide to free Some poor souls from their prison’d misery. ‘But here mass slaughter is the birthday treat, To honour Hitler with this unique gift, Dead women and children for your special feast, And thousands rotting in mass graves and pits. 110

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‘This heroic struggle has no chance, The Nazi hangmen are a hundredfold, More stronger as each day the hordes advance, We must salute the Jewish guts and soul.’ The Daily Warsaw reports on what it sees, ’In two wars in many battles have I been, But none as deeply moving as yesterday, As rebels fought on through stinking smoke and flames.’ Facing field cannon and anti-armour fire, They throw their precious homemade hand grenades, The enemy actually turn back and retire, As from rooftops, rattling machine guns spray! Appeals were posted yesterday on the streets, On houses bordering the ghetto walls. ’Poles, please help! Alone do not let us fall! Long live free Poland… Free Poland for all!’ The Germans shouted through their megaphones, ’Appear, six-thirty at the Umschlagplatz!’ Of course dear Nazis we’re as mad as you, The Nazis waited but no guests turned up. These women are heroines, stalwart, fierce and mean, Pouring sulphuric acid on the enemy, Setting their trucks on fire with gasoline, An army of Deborahs via villainy! You know this is the second Jewish war, The first was pitted against the Roman might, We need a Josephus Flavius to describe The horrors taking place, such moving sights. The Jewish war writ down by Josephus Lives on throughout two thousand bitter years, Capturing with his pen the very pulse Of Jerusalem before it sank in tears. 111

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A Jew bearing an automatic rifle Is wounded, next moment, a woman is by his side, Takes over his weapon like a blushing bride, Swiftly refills the rifle and bullets fly! Tanks have been destroyed and prisoners taken, Can you believe that this has come to pass? The prisoners sweat in fear, their faces ashen, They released the soldiers but held the S.S. fast. The city was amazed, astounded, drunk With joy to see their enemy well kicked By Yids right up its Nazi arse, it hurt The bastards, how it made Herr Himmler sick! It did not fade the second day, no way, That’s what the Nazis hoped - fat chance, - like this Was just a one-off, just a last display, Before we humbly raise our hands and walk away. The campaign now encompassed every ghetto Jew, The enemy realised this and moved more tanks, Eliezer Geller waited with his group, At Leszno Street and warmly gave them thanks!

No way!

A tank was hit and then began to burn, Into the houses the Nazi forces burst, Enraged and mad to taste the rebels’ blood, They hacked and shot till they had quenched their thirst. But now, as if in solidarity, A Polish rebel group did try to mine The ghetto wall to let escaping Jews Get through, but they were hampered by a line… Of curious spectators, staring bug-eyed, Like this was just a piece of theatre, While most in Warsaw continued with their lives, Went shopping, sat in cafés and sympathised… 112

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They watched from windows, rooftops, what a show! As deep inside the walls a nation died, A wretched drama was unfolding slow, But from their blood a new race will arise! The Nazi units caught five hundred Jews… Those fit for work would stay alive – for now, The rest would go to fill the transport queue For ‘Canada’, slang word for ‘gas chamber’, to you. Oh, how bravely they fought that second day, Jacob Rakower – Jewish porter broke through, The siege with ten men to the other side Carrying Commander Leon Rodal, who sadly died. Oh, strongly fight, oh you most valiant few, But when the battle’s clearly lost, don’t die, Escape and save yourselves, flee to the woods! Some did but were betrayed by Polish spies. But on day four the battle plan had changed, The fighting had been conducted from fixed posts, Now they used positions as a base, From which to leap and then dissolve. Like hornets we will launch surprise attacks With smaller mobile groups to pounce and catch The bastards when they smoke a fag or crap, Then fly as bullets whistle past our backs. The bunkers wind like snakes into the earth, Weaving, twisting, linking the fighters chain, Providing outlets to the sewer’s dirt, Our sanctuary, where we nurse our sick and maimed. Now the purveyors of death, the S.S. troops, Decide with fire that they should burn us out, The stinking smoke of hell became our day, And tongues of flame scorched up the sky at night. 113

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We have no burning desire to be burned alive, The Nazis lit infernos on every side, The only chance we have, take one long breath And run, run, run, escape with all your might! Tracing through the raging, dancing flames The fighting units file out one by one, From passageway to passageway and house to house, To the central ghetto we must run! There was a narrow opening in the wall, But guarded by Ukrainians and armoured police, Our shoes were wrapped in rags to dull their fall, Oh miracle, we make it to the street! Now a shout, and then a light snaps on, Romanowicz blinds it with a well-aimed shot, The units make it, not losing anyone, We greet our comrades, whispering ‘Thank God’. Evacuation Többens, factory owner, gives guarantee, ’The workshop workers are safe, don’t join the mob! It’s true we’re safe, they need our industry, Why die in glory, when in time, we may be free?’ Többens grins hard, ‘Your permit makes you safe, That means you’re vital for the war machine, Those without permits will of course be shot, Come to the Umschlagplatz, Arbeit macht frei!’ Five thousand workers duly assembled there, We have some concentration camps to choose, Majdanek, Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Buchenwald, Which one do you think will have the better view?

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But now the S.S. had complete control, The factory owners had lost their cherished prize, The workers would be daily worked and flogged, And at the end, death marches for exercise. The fourth day of this fierce unequal struggle, The Nazis now strengthened their vicious grip, Flame throwers scorched the hideouts of the rebels, They jumped from windows and fell like broken twigs. Whole families sometimes wrapped themselves in sheets, Tied strongly, they descend the burning pyre, But in the shadows, the emissaries from hell, Were waiting to fulfil their heart’s desire. Yet the rebel fighters defend the older Jews, Huddled together in their stinking bunkers, In Milna Street, the desperate hundred flew Into their saviour arms, rescued from hunters. The bunkers now were useless, choked with smoke, As hundreds, thousands, sought a place to hide, Wandering desperately in the sleepless night, With their few possessions by their side. Breath Daniel Anielewicz wrote these words so stark: ’Most of us will die sooner or later, In bunkers thousands are hiding in the dark, No air or water, surviving just on hate. ‘The bunkers became like ovens, roasting flesh, The houses above burnt down to their foundations, And searing hell-like heat spread everywhere, No window, light or water, no salvation.

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‘I sweat and think of nothing but fresh air, How simple pleasures become the most divine, We sit with open mouths within our mine, Even a candle’s tongue we cannot spare. ‘We cannot talk, we cannot breathe or eat, The food supplies are rotted by the mould, Which ruins the bread and destroys our precious meat, They say it’ll cool down soon, I don’t think so. ‘Two days ago this house burnt to the ground, Yet the heat increases every single hour, We lie there, silent ears alert for sounds, Of Nazis poking, while beneath we cower. ‘Near naked now but now, nobody cares, Oh God, some water, please, and a little breeze, Let’s dream of walking in the fresh spring air, And sitting in cafés and drinking teas… ‘Some wretch went crazy, dehydrated, insane, Crawled to the entrance, moved the hidden cover, Gulped down the air just like it was champagne, This could be our suicide, my brother.’ The entire ghetto now was set ablaze, Oh, how much more, how much more can we take? Thousands near physical and mental collapse, We are deserted even by the rats! When a bunker was by chance discovered, And the Nazis shout out to surrender, We say farewell to our friends and lovers And give the swines some bullets to remember.

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Death April twenty-third, the uprising’s fifth day, General Stroop, convinced the end’s in sight, Mission must be accomplished by sixteen hundred hours. But the Jews won’t surrender, those parasites! Still hiding in bunkers, in the sewers’ shit, Crawling through broken pipes, sleeping in pits, Hiding under corpses for the cemetery, Oh life, how desperately we cling to thee… April twenty-fifth, it was the seventh day, ’Set fire to the bunkers! Roast them alive! Blow the damn things up, force them from their sties, Break! Smash! Kill! Burn! Yes! This is our way!’ Sixteen hundred and ninety Jews captured today, Two hundred and seventy-four shot, others died in the flames, Till sundown the Nazis worked with utmost zeal, Mein Gott! They really earn their bloody pay! April 26th For days we rot in darkness, thirst and heat, Hearing only sounds above our heads Of Nazi shouts and heavy stamping feet, We cannot move, and slowly wait for death. We sit and dream of mothers, brothers, girls, Of life before this nightmare came, Before the raging sickness of the world Descended upon us, turning all insane. If only we had just some minutes more, We know the Russian army would be here… They’d sink their teeth into these beasts, These aliens from another sphere. 117

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Not human beings but something dead and cold, Vicious, unfeeling, lacking any soul, Barbarians, stupid, such a Philistine breed, Why, in Germany, did the devil drop his seed?! Not yet, not yet, we are not dead, not yet, From blown-up bunkers we’re too weak to crawl, So shoot us in our pleasant unmarked graves, We cannot even stand, but we can pray. Like Midas, Stroop counts his killed and captured prey, Now nearly thirty thousand and many more today, Some throw themselves from windows, shouting out their curse, ’I shit on Hitler, you bastard!’ then their skulls burst. Mila Five Scene of bitter struggle at Mila Five, Germans surround the house, demand we leave, No answer, so they bomb the house to flames, The devils wish to see us burned alive. Germans on one side, the other a sea of flames, We dash into the courtyard, our fighters gather there, ’Please God, they’ll find a way, these young and brave, Please listen to us carefully, don’t despair…’ The only solution, must dash through the flames, While shooting at the enemy, okay? ’We’ll go first’… The bullets flew like rain, We reached the other side, the Nazis didn’t stay! Unwilling to do combat, the Krauts had fled. They dare not fight, with those who would risk all! Flames licked our heads as through the flames we dashed, Singed faces, hair and clothes, we’re through the wall!

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Leszno. Six ten a.m. with tanks taking the lead, The hearty singing of soldiers march along, Accompanied by a band can you believe, Puffed with pride they strut to the military song. But from Leszno Street another song was heard, The beat of Molotov cocktails and grenades, Now the soldiers danced to a different tune, As Germans fell, they waltzed into their graves! Survivor Felix Olar verifies: ‘We sent a hail of bullets and grenades, The street echo’d with shouts and shrieks and moans, Our side fought in every possible way, The girls replaced grenades we threw like stones. ‘Like stones upon a riverbank we’d play, ”See who can hit that distant bottle first”, That’s how we used to waste a summer’s day, By throwing stones, but now the Nazis cursed! ‘Brave girls, they showed no fear, they looked so calm, Ready to die honourably on the spot, They came and went, no sound, no tears, Their soothing presence was to us a balm.’ Young rebel fighter, Dorka Goldkorn writes, ’I was in the Smocza sector at the time, We jumped for joy, we saw the tank in flames, The most beautiful moment of our lives! From a window, two men and a woman lean, Dishevelled, faces blackened, their clothes on fire, Laughing Germans photograph the ‘scene’, The victims hurl themselves to Earth, and slowly expire. 119

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No-one offers assistance to quench the flames, Just the mocking laughter of spectators, The smell of blood intoxicates their brains, Sated at last, they march off singing, elated. Mordecai Anielewicz to the Aryan side Have you sent food packages? (Read: weapons) Don’t forget our eggs, (homemade grenades) The kids would love some candy (send some bullets) And don’t forget salami (we need revolvers). Michalek, alias Henjek Kleinweiss, Ghetto product and abandoned child, He lived by selling lemonade in the street, A soul spawned in the slums and running wild. Joined the rebels, courageous, intelligent and agile, Quickly mastered the use of arms, his skills Were needed, escort a woman to the other side, But they were captured to be deported or killed. Shrewd Michalek told the officers, ‘Hey, wait, I know about some bunkers right nearby, You want to make a deal, I’ll give you Jews,’ His captors followed eagerly the lie. On entering a passageway he pounced, With lightning speed he snatched the Nazi’s gun, And shot him swiftly dead… and then he flew. The other Nazis were amazed and stunned. Before they could recover, Michalek reappears, Slays two more Germans and then speeds off again, Michalek’s cunning cost the Germans dear, In battle the young hero met his end.

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Ghettograd! April the twenty-seventh: it’s now nine days! The Jewish fighting organisation survives, As one limb dies, new branches take their place, It strikes the enemy each and every way. Partisan tactics comrades, not just defence, We hunt the hunters now and make our kill, The Polish people clap and are impressed, We need your help, my friends, not just good will. They like to call the ghetto ‘Ghettograd’, In honour of the famous Russian siege, But they had armies racing to their help, Who helps us as we helplessly bleed?! No supporters from the outside world To rescue the dying Ghetto, only words, People in England and the U.S. cannot see, For if you did, your eyes would not believe. Such horrible crimes beyond your comprehension, Yes, people are dying in this filthy war, But not like this, against wild beasts of prey, Whose poisoned minds obey no moral law! Yes, you have armies, brave soldiers who die, But we here die in different ways, Unarmed women and children burned alive, By laughing hyenas, relishing the slain. The ghetto must not vanish without a trace, For all that is courageous would vanish too, The smoke clouds over the ghetto are a disgrace, If all you can do is watch and sit and wait!

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‘Poles, stop informing on the Warsaw Jews! Put an end to this practice which defiles our name, Stop handing them over to our enemy! Christians, remember, Christ did not die in vain!’ Wladyslaw Sikorski, the Polish leader writes, ’The greatest crime in history is taking place, Assist the tortured Jews, much as you can, I beg you, show our friends a human face.’ Lest they believe the entire world had died, For who can watch this crime and not shout out, ’Stop your criminal act of genocide, You are less than humans, less than dogs!’ Stop it! You race of murderers, Satan’s spawn, Stop it! For you will never again be a nation, Stop it! Your children will wish never to have been born, Than admit ‘My parents were of that generation!’ ‘I’m sorry, we sympathise, not much we can do, Collaboration is impossible, I’m afraid, We have to choose the right moment to move, Not be driven by emotion on the day.’ ‘We watch from our balconies, a frightful sight! Yes, we do eat, not a shortage of food, Those thunderous echoes keep us awake at night. But we must keep silent or they’ll come for us too!’ The wall has two sides ‘Wherever there is a war come the hyenas, Sniffing to exploit the helpless Jew, Our pathetic friends who are in hiding, These evil ones are fortunately the few.’

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The Polish race is moral, upright and Christian, Charitable and decent in their lives, But others in the Polish police are vicious, Corrupt, they merge themselves with Nazi slime. Sunday, April twenty-fifth was Eastertime, Holidaymakers dress in gay attire, The carousel turned and Polish spirits were light, As a loathsome pall rose in the Warsaw sky. There were hawkers of sweets and even cigarettes, And music filled the square and cannon boomed, Such a beautiful Sunday, flowers in girls’ hair, As burning victims painfully expired. Behind the wall the carousel is heard, A child is cradled in her mother’s arms, Do you ask, dear mother, why you are in hell, While other children are dancing free from harm? Stiffening corpses scattered in the broken streets, Stared at by Ukrainian volunteers, Stockings torn, shoes still on your feet, You might be resting, dreaming away your fears. Who knew your name? You led a full life once, You had a purse with house keys and small change, Bought cat food, and made delicious potato cakes, Put plasters on your daughter when she fell. Who knew your name? You led a full life once, Laughed at Charlie Chaplin, wasn’t he funny? Stared in shop windows, Fridays washed your hair, And picnicked by the river on a Sunday. Who knew your name? You led a full life once, The breakfast cooked and ready at eight a.m., Sat and cut the cloth, lapels so finely stitched, Returned at six and did homework for the kids. 123

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Who knew your name? You led a full life once, Each night your pretty daughter practised scales, You got on buses, wrote letters to aunts, Each Friday morning bought a chicken without fail. ‘Stand the bunker captives against a wall, Reveal where other bunkers are, you Jews. A bullet through your head or clemency, You choose, they gave us many bunkers more. ‘Okay, Jew, speak in Yiddish to your friends, Tell them be smart and leave now in one mass, Or else we’ll blow the bunker to little shreds, No answer? What about a taste of gas? ‘Oh, watch them stagger out, sick, choking, blind… My God, like smoking out some dirty rats, You should have come out, Jews, when we were kind, Now drag your carcass to the Umschlagplatz.’ ‘A splendid catch today’, the general writes, Each day of course he keeps detailed reports, Sixteen hundred and fifty-five Jews were caught, One hundred and ten shot, the rest… Transport! May First The stupid Yids won’t leave without brute force, So now we bomb the bloody sewage canals, One fifty Jews escaped to the Aryan side, Shot on the spot by police, with hunters’ eyes. May the third, the fight continues on, Five hundred soldiers purge and search the ruins, Each day our numbers are reduced as we succumb To bombs, explosives, guard dogs and gas fumes.

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We leave our burrows with its air so foul, We stumble blinded by the sudden light, We hear jackbooted soldiers shouting, ‘Raus! Raus!’ We see the broken streets, our eyes are down. We cannot lift our heads to see… We collapse outside the bunkers wearily, A woman gently holds her husband’s face, We now must wait for what will be our fate. May third, thirty Franciskanska Street, Seventeen-year-old Shanan Lent was killed, At twenty-three, Zippora Lehrer fell, And half the Jewish fighters’ blood was spilled. Mila Eighteen A new sanctuary is found, Mila Eighteen, Three hundred hunted Jews found haven there, A well constructed bunker made by thieves, This was the criminals’ and smugglers’ lair. Now rebel commanders, Zionists, communists too, Link up with gangsters and society’s rogues, Since blood links us to every single Jew, Now all are allies ‘gainst the common foe. The bunker was enormous, three long blocks, Dug deep into the earth like mythic beasts, Lived there with creatures of the underworld, But now we hear the tread of Nazi feet. Always scrabbling in the burning embers, Digging out starved or lifeless, dying Jews, Why can’t you maniacs leave us now in peace? Go fight your losing war instead, leave us our few!

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Shmuel Asher was the king of Mila Eighteen, From the bowels of the earth he rules, Smuggling bread and liquor through the sewers’ lanes, ’Your subjects would go through fire and water for you.’ They were our guides by day and smoking night, Like supple cats they’d crawl and jump the ruins, So we could keep an eye on the German might, Who from our hate are not so quite immune. Not any more, we pick and choose to strike, We scratch the gruesome monster here and there, Had we a sharpened, deep and long steel knife, We’d cut its jugular inside its lair. Alas, on May the eighth the Nazis came, ’Everyone outside!’ the familiar shriek, As they surrounded the bunker, Mila Eighteen, The rogues obeyed, but the fighters clenched their teeth. The Germans injected gas, threw hand grenades, The fighters gasping, still returned the fire, Soon the rebels began to suffocate, ’Is it not better to die when we desire?’ ‘Let us give our lives back to our Lord, Believe me, this is the noblest way to go. By our own hands, than falling into theirs, We fought a brave fight,’ they answered, ‘Let it be so.’ Let it be so and yes, let it be so, As in Masada so it shall be here, Each one took the gun for their own head, Mila Eighteen became a memorial for the dead. Thus ended the lives of a brave heroic group Of courage, determination without fear, Who inspired the Ghetto Jews to strike, rebel, We will remember you till the end of years. 126

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The lights are going out all over Europe, Soon there will be darkness, cold and death, Wherever these Barbarians tread, the hope For humanity is sucked out with its breath. But still, even now the battle does not end, As bunkers are destroyed, we hide in holes, As holes blown up in sewers, so the dregs Of humankind still dare to live and hope. Hope that the world outside must see this crime, Beyond all crimes in bloodstained human history, Beyond imagination, beyond belief, To rip an ancient race from off the earth. Non-combatants, civilians, women, children, Innocent, unprepared, old people, sick… Pregnant women and even babes in arms Snatched from their nursing mother’s teats. May the twelfth, thirty more bunkers found. Six hundred sixty-three more wretched Jews, Sent to Treblinka where time always stops, But those who couldn’t make the train were shot. May sixteenth, to celebrate the end Of this victorious and murdering spree, Stroop blows up the ancient synagogue To emulate his Roman ancestry. When Romans destroyed Jerusalem’s holy temple, For that the seeds of their downfall were sown, Stroop too will have his monument in time, A dangling corpse, at the end of the gallow’s rope! Shmuel Zygelbojm, an activist Exiled in London, friends nearly all dead, Each day he cried for western action, To the American military he passionately begs… 127

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‘Save the Warsaw Jews!’ ‘We don’t have time!’ Each day, each minute, another person dies, Each word I speak, another life is shed, Each breath I take they suck a human life, Each heartbeat stops another’s heartbeat dead. ‘To save the Jews, we really don’t have time, You see the allied war machine is set, I know the principle is really fine, But our plans are made, we cannot change the text.’ Zygelbojm knew the ghetto was dying fast, So he chose to die a fighter with his friends, On May thirteenth, before the British parliament, He set himself alight and said, ‘Amen’. ‘For these evil acts the blame does lie On all mankind who turned their face away, No real effort was made to stop this crime… A hand extended would have saved much pain. ‘I cannot be silent for my murdered race, With their weapons in their hands my dear friends fell, I cannot die with them I am sad to say, But throw my ashes please, in their mass grave.’ The accountant Scroop takes up his month’s account, Seven thousand Jews were wiped out on the spot, Six thousand nine hundred transported to Treblinka, A handsome profit for a tiny loss. Six hundred thirty-one bunkers were destroyed, And that filthy ghetto burnt to the ground, Even the synagogue exists no more, But anyway, they’d have no customers now!

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But the ghetto’s light has not been quite snuffed out, Something’s moving in the broken earth, The heart still beats and creatures stir at night, No German dares enter until the morning light. As if the Golem has awoken here, The monster created by the Jews of Prague To take revenge against the enemy, And protect the old community from harm. Stirrings in the tunnels of the earth, The blood pours through, the heart still beats, The hands still clench, the mouth still eats, The eyes still see, the head still thinks. Hundreds are still left alive who fight, Taut faces, sucked-in cheeks, half-crazed, The ghetto now belongs to us, We still have plenty of those hand grenades. May 26th Survivor Arieh Neiberg’s diary says, ’Women and children were lying in pools of blood, We stare at the tangle of arms and legs, Just minutes earlier these were living flesh. ‘We stand in grief, cannot hold back our tears, A corpse begins to move, to come to life, A child no more than seven, blindfolded, cries, ”Jews, please find us water, have no fear…” ‘Another child she gathers up from off the ground, Also alive, not even wounded, maybe five, They quench their thirst, the words they tumble out, ”I’m Irka Rubenstein, she’s Halinka Eisenstadt.”

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‘The Germans took us from the bunker, ”Take off your clothes,” they said, a search was made, All afternoon we stood there, cold and naked, By night we would be killed unless we betray… ‘Our families in the bunkers, we were afraid, So someone volunteered, was led away, The rest of us were killed and then we fell Upon the ground, and there I lay quite still. ‘“When you hear the shooting,” my mother said, ”Fall quickly on the ground and do not move.” I tried not to breathe when I was kicked, So they’d believe that I was really dead. ‘Then they left and marched off loudly singing, My mother’s body protected me from them, Since her warm blood on top of me was flowing, And so she saved me even in her death. ‘By chance I stepped on Halinka’s little foot, It moved! I felt her pulse, the heart still beats! We heard some voices, the killers returned I thought, We lay there frozen, for the guns retort. ‘But then we heard your voices in our tongue, Oh what relief, it’s safe, these men have gone, My mother’s dead, I kissed her cheek goodbye, Why do they do these things, please, tell me, why?’ June We cannot do the things that people do, We cannot wash our clothes or brush our teeth, We cannot shave our beards or cut our hair, We cannot walk and breathe the sweet fresh air.

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We cannot make some tea or boil an egg, We cannot eat some fruit or even bread, We cannot sleep inside a warm, soft bed, We cannot call a friend, our friends are dead! One day decided to collect the rain, Put out a series of broken pots to claim The precious fall of heaven’s liquid silk, We’d never know again thirst’s awful pain! September 25th, 1943 Of forty-five that made our special group, Just four remained alive or only just, Starvation bloats poor Zamsz’s lovely wife, Shorshan prays each day to God, he must. ‘There’s nothing else inside his life but faith, My body’s swelling too, let’s go to the wall! Let’s go to the Polish side, escape we must, And if we fail, a bullet will solve all.’ Bricks, April 19th, 1944 And now thousands of Polish working men Collect the bricks each day, millions of them, Brick by brick they shift and heave and sweat, And cart our world away in trucks! Bricks, bricks, millions of ancient bricks… Bricks that were our silent bedroom walls, Bricks that heard our lovemaking and cries, Bricks that carry the memories of our lives. Twenty-two and a half million bricks! Thus the Ghetto exists now in the mind, Or reconfigured to another place, In houses, office blocks or factories. 131

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Put your ear to that piece of grimy brick, That nice extension to your garden wall, Just as the sea whispers to you in shells, Do you hear the sobbing cries from Hell? But now the shreds and shards of Jewish life That still somehow exist, a shattered urn, We must escape into the Polish side, Can we put the splinters back again? Eliezer Geller made good his bold flight, Along with all his desperate brave comrades, The fighter Aaron Carmi also made The tunnel journey to the Aryan side. ‘We made a plan, informed our Polish allies, One by one we squirmed the tunnel’s length, Then helped each other ascend into the night, We expected Polish rebels, well-armed men… ‘A truck to take us to the forest, Oh, smell that air and feed our starving guts! But surfacing into the misty night, We found not a bloody soul in sight!’ So back and forth and always back and forth The fighters went, the guide returned to fetch Remaining Jews who crawled through the sewer’s stench, Dreaming of life after living so long with death. So tiring, dangerous and difficult to find, The tunnel rose and fell, split up, which way? One tunnel leads out to the outer world, The others, ancient sewers lead to dismay. Alas, too late the rescue mission starts, A day too late for Mila Eighteen’s guests, For they themselves had made their peace with God, But we must save the fighters that are left. 132

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So now again within the stifling tunnel, More desperate bodies clawed and groped their way, But now the sun is rising, informer’s eyes Are watching, hoping to nail some Jews this day! At last the rebels found the tunnel’s end, Breathed deep, replaced the cover on the wound, A Polish passer-by would see black faces, Emerging like demons from the bowels of Hell. But now the realisation struck them hard, That fifteen people had been left behind, Go back, go back, too late, the German guard Now eagerly watched, and just bided his time. Watched for the lid to move just like A hungry cat will stalk the mouse’s hole, Waiting with sharpened claws to make its strike, Alas, no one survived, no, not a soul. So from Warsaw’s four hundred thousand Jews, Twenty thousand are still alive and hiding, Honourable Poles help and risk their lives, God blesses you for every soul surviving… Joseph Goebbels was indeed amazed, ’These ghetto Jews rebelled, with arms attacked! Even issue daily military bulletins! This emphasises what you can expect… ‘From Jews when they have weapons in their hands. God knows,’ he said, ‘how they obtained these arms.’ Thus spoke the ‘voice’ of the Nazi nation’s man, For ‘God’ did know only too well the plan. As God would see the serpent’s wagging tongue, Stilled two years hence with all his rotten seed, Poisoned by his own venom, the crippled beast Was torched, but even fire resisted the doubtful feast. 133

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The Warsaw governor, Dr Ludwig Fischer, How came he by that doctorate we ask? Did he tear it from a suckling babe, Or rip it from the stomach of an ape? How can a Nazi dog bear such a title When preaching murder, violence and hate? Inspiring the Polish population to kill Any Jew they see who has escaped. Obergruppenführer Dr Kaltenbrunner, In Krakow May thirty-first, nineteen forty-three, Asks, ‘Why this preoccupation with the Jews? The foreign press believe that Nazis stink! ‘Is this a noble attribute you think, That the German nation is seen as cruel, Killing innocent people because they think In a different way to us in school?’ But the ghetto’s uprising uprose the hearts And minds of men and women everywhere, Survivors, prisoners, those in concentration camps, In east and west became one fighting band. Treblinka next, the German slaughterhouse, The factory of death, its proudest mark, Run with grim Deutschland efficiency, The gas chambers, your bloodstained coat of arms! But now inspired, Jews rose against their killers, Destroyed the camp, and wrecked their damned machines, No more the image of the passive Jew, Now the transformation shall begin, anew! No more, no more the passive pious one… Since evil breeds where it can feel no fear, And preys on those who turn the other cheek, So die a hero’s death, not of the meek! 134

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Resist, always resist, defend your lives, For there will always be insane regimes, Where morality and justice fly, And murder ensures a place in paradise. For all those who fell, the many millions dead, For all those brutally slaughtered in cold blood, The heroes who tragically died so we may live, We bless your souls, and each hair on your heads. We bless you with everything we have, Our tears, our blood, our prayers, our hearts, For you showed us the way to be a human, Brave, courageous, honourable and ever a part‌ Of history’s great legends, when the few Did stand firm as a rock, cower no more, So Warsaw heroes rest in blessed peace, Your stars shine bright for ever and for ever more! When the war was over, nobody could recognise even one street in the ghetto, but a hole was indeed found where Mila 18 once stood; they took a great black stone and placed it in the space where there was once the house. In three languages was written: Here on May 8th, 1943, Mordecai Anielewicz, commander of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, together with dozens of his fighters fell in the campaign against the Nazi enemy. He was 24.

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Contributors

Janette Ayachi graduated with a combined honors degree in Literature and Film from Stirling University (2004) then a Masters in Creative Writing from Edinburgh University (2006).  She has been published in various literary journals such as The Edinburgh Review, Velvet, The Red Wheelbarrow, Poetry Salzburg Review and Gutter. In the current editions of Drey and New Writing Scotland #29, The French Literary Review and The Istanbul Review.  Then upcoming in Orbis #157 and The New Writer.  Two of her poems were shortlisted simultaneously in the Mslexia poetry competition of 2009 and this year she has been nominated for a PK poetry award. Red Squirrel press are set to publish her pamphlet A Choir of Ghosts this Autumn and her first full-length collection in January 2013.  She has a current obsession with Lost Girl, green olives and red wine. Emma Baines has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at Trinity St. David. She has been published in four anthologies; the last of which she co-edited. She has won a flash fiction competition and is a regular contributor at Poems and Pints at the Queen’s Hotel, Carmarthen. Earlier this year she travelled to Ireland as part of the CORACLE Literature Exchange programme and most recently read at an Up For Arts open-air event Steven Berkoff was born in Stepney, London. After studying drama and mime in London and Paris, he entered a series of repertory companies and in 1968 formed the London Theatre Group. His plays and adaptations have been performed in many countries and in many languages. Among the many adaptations Berkoff has created for the stage, 136

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directed and toured, are Kafka’s Metamorphosis and The Trial, Agamemnon after Aeschylus, and Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. As a playwright his long list of award-winning plays includes “Sink The Belgrano!” “Brighton Beach Scumbags,” “West” and “East.” Samuel Brenton has had pamphlets published by several small publishers, and his debut full length collection, Situation Songs, was published in 2011, with his next collection, World Heart, to be published by EUOI Press in early 2012. A non-fiction book, Shooting People, was published by Verso. He also produces sonic performance pieces, contributes poetic elements to art installations, and is currently working on animating 3D figures for digital poetry performance. Read/hear/see more at www.samuelbrenton.net. Helen Calcutt is a poet, dancer and teacher working with children and young adults to increase access to writing of all genres. She holds a BA (Hons) in Philosophy and Professional Writing, and has 10+ years training in contemporary dance and theatre. In October 2010 she was selected for the Black Swans C.P. training programme, graduating in June 2011. Her poems have appeared in Under the Radar, the anthology BUGGED, Danse Macabre, Dreams are the Genus, The Dawntreader, the Sarasvati Review and other journals. All poems here are from the working collection The animal wire Thomas Chapman was born in Nottingham and is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Creative and Script Writing at the University of Wales, Trinity St. David. It was on a pilgrimage across Spain in 2007 that Thomas fully realised his passion for writing. Inspired by the friends he made along the way and the focusing of the mind that comes with a simple day-to-day existence, he started keeping a notebook and began to realise the important role writing could have in his life. During his time at the university he has had both poetry and prose published and is currently writing a feature length screenplay. Thomas is co-editor of issue 4 of The Lampeter Review. Amit Chaudhuri, is the author of five novels, the latest of which is The Immortals. Among the many prizes he has won for his fiction are the Commonwealth Literature Prize, 137

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the Betty Trask award, the Encore Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and was a judge of the Man Booker International Prize. He is Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia, and is also an acclaimed critic and musician. Anna Crowe was born in Plymouth in 1945. She spent part of her childhood in France, and read French and Spanish at the University of St Andrews. Married with three grown-up children, she now lives and works in St Andrews. She started writing in the early eighties, encouraged first by Cynthia Fuller and Jon Silkin in Newcastle, by Anne Stevenson, and later by Douglas Dunn in St Andrews. She was a runner-up in the National Poetry Competition in 1986 and winner of the Peterloo Poetry Competition in 1993 and 1997. She has been published in a wide variety of journals. Two collections have been published by Peterloo: Skating out of the House (1997) and Punk with Dulcimer (2006). She has also had two pamphlet collections published by Mariscat Press: A Secret History of Rhubarb (2004) and Figure in a Landscape (2010; Poetry Book Society pamphlet choice). Her work has been translated into Catalan and Spanish. Ian Elliott leased his soul to a corporation for years before coming to Lampeter as a postgraduate student and support worker. Having regained his soul, he indulges in more creative pursuits such as photography, screenplay editing, and prose writing. He enjoys photographing abandoned and derelict places, following the urban explorers’ motto: “take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints”. John Glenday’s first collection, The Apple Ghost won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and his second, Undark, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. His most recent collection, Grain (Picador, 2009) is also a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and was shortlisted for both the Ted Hughes Award and the Griffin Poetry Prize. He is a judge for the 2011 National Poetry Competition. In 1990/91 he was appointed Scottish/ Canadian Exchange Fellow, based at the University of Alberta. He is Board member of the Scottish Poetry Library and currently lives near Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.

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Sarah Hudis lives in Bontnewydd, a rural hamlet near Tregaron. She has won several poetry competitions in Wales, including the R.S Thomas prize, the World Book Day competition at Ceredigion museum and prizes in Tregaron Eisteddfod. She is bilingual and writes poetry in both Welsh and English Margery Kivel - My life has been a long journey back to self. The first expressions were through my artwork. Then in 1998 I was ordained and served as the pastor of a church for 5 years. Once I learned to trust myself, it became an incredible experience of painting with words. Marriage took me to the east side of the state, but the spiritual work continued and my husband and I worked the platform together, he from the left side of the brain and I from the right side. My husband’s death in January of 2009 ended everything. It felt like I had been shot from a cannon, and left as puffed rice in a bowl. In the early hours of the morning I started writing poetry. That became the focus of my journey and the means of my healing. Every day is a new revelation and a new vision as I continue to write and find myself. My hope is that someone will find a tidbit in one of my poems to chew upon, a connection of experience. James Luchte is Lecturer of Philosophy and Programme coordinator of the MA in European Philosophy at the University of Wales, Trinity St. David. His other publications include Early Greek Thought: Before the Dawn, The Peacock and the Buffalo: The Poetry of Nietzsche (translator), Pythagoras and the Doctrine of Transmigration, Heidegger’s Early Philosophy: The Phenomenology of Ecstatic Temporality, Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra: before Sunrise (editor), Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: A Reader’s Guide (all Continuum). He has also published numerous articles on various topics in European Philosophy. Matthew Mensley – I was born in Leicester and I now live in Munich. I go for nice walks and take photographs when I remember to. Sometimes they work out well enough to appear in publications such as this. Well that’s just fine by me! I hope everybody enjoys looking at them as much as I did taking them. 139

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Keith Morris - Born in Aberystwyth in 1958, Keith Morris studied Geography, Economics and Urban Planning at university before becoming a freelance photographer in the early 1980’s. Apart from his time in education and a brief flirtation with life in California in the mid 80’s he has spent all his life in Aberystwyth, living in the house once owned by his grandfather. He has worked for a wide range of cultural and social organisations in Wales over the last thirty or so years, covering music, theatre, film, television, journalism, portraiture, public relations and weddings. He is a regular contributor to television and radio programmes in Wales, in Welsh and English, commenting on and reviewing photography and theatre. His own personal work includes a project to photograph all of his namesakes in Wales and the lifelong mission to document his life, and that of his family, in Aberystwyth. He is a regular contributor to many photography agencies and libraries in the UK, Europe and the USA, specialising in Welsh and Wales-related environmental, social and political subjects. The transformation of photography by the digital revolution has made it possible for him to continue to live and work in his home town while being able to get his images bought by users all around the globe. Jacob Polley was born in Carlisle, in 1975. Picador published his first book of poetry, The Brink, in 2003 and his second, Little Gods, in 2006. His first novel with Picador, Talk of the Town, came out in 2009 and won the 2010 Somerset Maugham Award. As well as poems, Jacob also wrote the short film Flickerman and the Ivory-skinned Woman with the director, Ian Fenton. Billy Roche is an acclaimed playwright whose works include The Wexford Trilogy, Amphibians, The Cavalcaders, On Such As We and Lay Me Down Softly. He is also the author of a novel, Tumbling Down, and Tales from Rainwater Pond, a collection of short stories. Billy has been Writer-In-Residence at the Bush Theatre and WriterIn-Association at Druid and the Abbey Theatre. He wrote the screenplay for Trojan 140

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Eddie, which was directed by Gillies MacKinnon and won the Best Film Award at The San Sebastian Film Festival in 1996. The Eclipse, a film that was co-written with Conor McPherson won IFTA awards for Best Screenplay and Best Film, directed by Conor McPherson. Billy Roche is a member of Aosdana. Rachel Trezise was born in the Rhondda valley in 1978. She is the author of In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl, Fresh Apples and Dial M for Merthyr. Her current novel is Sixteen Shades of Crazy. She is currently working on a novel and a second collection of short stories. David Vann was born in the Aleutian Islands and spent his childhood in Ketchikan, Alaska. For 12 years, no agent would send out his first book, Legend of a Suicide, so he went to sea and became a captain and boat builder. Legend of a Suicide has now won 10 prizes, including the Prix Medicis Etranger in France for best foreign novel, the Premi Llibreter in Spain for best foreign novel, the Grace Paley Prize, a California Book Award, and the L’Express readers’ prize (France). Translated into 17 languages, Legend of a Suicide is an international bestseller and has also been on 40 Best Books of the Year lists worldwide, been selected by the New Yorker Book Club and the Times Book Club, read in full on North German radio, and will be made into a film. David has also been listed for the Sunday Times Short Story Award, the Story Prize, and others.

Lindsay Zier-Vogel is a Toronto-based writer, arts educator and bookmaker. She is currently working on her second novel titled The Opposite of Drowning. Lindsay teaches writing and book making workshops and is the creator of The Love Lettering Project, a one-of-a-kind community-based love letter art project that was recently featured on CBC Television’s The National and deemed one of the top 50 reasons to love Toronto in Toronto Life magazine. Website: www.lindsayziervogel.com

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