tLR The Lampeter Review
ISSN 2054-8257 (Print)â€¨/ ISSN 2054-8265 (Online) JOURNAL OF THE LAMPETER CREATIVE WRITING CENTRE www.lampeter-review.com
ISSUE 15/ DECEMBER 2017
LANA BELLA ANNE MARIE BUTLER CHARLES BYRD MARIA CHIAPPETTA ABIGAIL CONKLIN DEE DRAPER RHIAN ELIZABETH JOHN EVANS-PRITCHARD SHAUNA GILLIGAN FRANCES HAY SUSAN IOANNOU R.G. JODAH MATTHEW KOK KATHY MILES LEE NASH MICHEL ONFRAY JARED PEARCE GARY RAYMOND CELINA SILVA GAIL TYSON EMMA VENABLES ANDY VERBOOM PAUL WARING HILARY WATSON HELEN MAY WILLIAMS JENI WILLIAMS
THE LAMPETER REVIEW The online magazine of the Lampeter Creative Writing Centre Trinity St. David’s Creative Writing Centre at Lampeter www.lampeter-review.com | email@example.com
MANAGING EDITOR: Dic Edwards ISSUE EDITOR: Tony Kendrew ASSOCIATE EDITORS: Rosalind Hudis Kathy Miles DESIGN: Constantinos Andronis (c-andronis.gr) COVER PAGE IMAGE: Canton, a Winter Scene: Charles Byrd The Lampeter Review acknowledges with appreciation the continued support of Professor Medwin Hughes, Vice Chancellor of University of Wales, Trinity Saint David. © Respective authors. All rights reserved. None of the material published here may be used elsewhere without the written permission of the author. You may print one copy of any material on this website for your own personal, non-commercial use.
CREATIVE WRITING UNDERGRADUATE COURSES AT TSD Based on the Lampeter Campus, the Creative Writing BAs build on a fifteen year tradition of teaching Creative Writing at this location. The courses offer modules in all the creative genres and are underpinned by an element of English Literature. MA CREATIVE WRITING & MA CREATIVE & SCRIPT WRITING The Creative Writing Degree offers two pathways - one with scriptwriting, one without. It can be taken as a one year taught course with a further writing-up year, or part-time over four years. Modules are offered in all creative genres. BA and MA courses are taught by a staff of prominent, internationally renowned writers and lecturers, including poet Samantha Wynne-Rydderch, poet and playwright Dic Edwards and poet, author and critic, Jeni Williams. PhD IN CREATIVE WRITING Trinity St David’s Creative Writing PhD has built up a reputation as one of Wales’ most successful doctoral programmes. The course supervisors are all published creative writers with expertise in most areas of prose, poetry, fiction, children’s fiction, narrative nonfiction and script writing. The PhD in Creative Writing combines a proposed manuscript (fiction, poems or playscript) with an element of supporting or contextualising research. The proposed manuscript will be volume length (the natural length of a book, whether poetry or story collection, novel, or playscript). The supporting research will be roughly 25% of the 100,000 word submission. Applications to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Table of Contents
-9Editorial / Tony Kendrew -12Charleston / Lana Bella -14The Legend of Brunette Coleman / Anne Marie Butler -15Princes, Taint Tea / Maria Chiappetta -16letâ€™s kill all the lawyers
/ Dee Draper
-25Seasons / Abigail Conklin -27Two Poems / Rhian Elizabeth -30Days Till Death / John Evans-Pritchard -36Mercedes Benz Building / Susan Ioannou
-37Across a Square / R.G. Jodah -39Rats/ Shauna Gilligan -42Two Poems / Matthew Kok -45Cracks / Kathy Miles -47The Art of Charles Byrd / Charles Byrd and Jeni Williams -56A gap in the crowd / Lee Nash -58Soaring / Jared Pearce -59The Witches of Cardiff / Frances Hay -61Revolution / Gary Raymond -67Ben / Celina Silva -68Jiveshake on the Subway / Gail Tyson -71Of the Building of Cities / Andy Verboom -79this friday afternoon
/ Paul Waring
-80Unknown Woman, 1945 / Emma Venables
-85Tail Feathers / Hilary Watson -87Before Silence: a yearâ€™s haiku / Helen Williams and Michel Onfray -92Contributors
This issue of The Lampeter Review invited submissions on the theme city. The cover and eight paintings which form the centerpiece are the work of Cardiffbased painter Charles Byrd. They capture the essentials of life in a city, making them fitting illustrations for all the other submissions: prose, poetry and play script. The nine cityscapes were painted around the middle of the last century, but the content seems timeless and familiar. We see man-made structures, closepacked, bricks and mortar and a thin strip of sky. And there are people, at work and at play, of many shapes and sizes and colors. Charles Byrdâ€™s paintings give us the basics of city life, things that have remained the same for thousands of years: frequent interactions with people, evidence of their activity at every turn, access to goods and services and entertainment, the hazards of dense living, the paucity of natural recreation. It may come as a surprise to realize how little city life has changed in the last seventy years: transportation, negligibly; entertainment, not that much; fashion, somewhat; architecture, here and there; communications, quite a bit; efforts to bring nature into the city, hardly at all.
I have just moved from the country to live in a New World city. I’d forgotten about 24-hour shopping, trash collection, the chirp of crosswalks, wail of police cars, though mine is not a city of treeless streets, corner shops and plastic bags blowing in the wind. In California we call just about anywhere with a shopping mall a city, though I still get seduced by that word - something to do with cathedrals and the monarchy, which retain some nostalgic but little ceremonial leverage in the States, where a town becomes a city when it elects a mayor. Yes, we have San Francisco and LA, with their echoing downtowns and late night buses, but Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Napa are also cities, and three blocks from city hall people tend their trumpet vines, hybrid cars slide into free parking spaces, and trees shade cafés and the lawns of low-slung apartment buildings. Perhaps there is not enough space in the Old World for cities of this kind. And perhaps we should expect this New World openness to spawn a genre of writing free of ennui, of cynicism, of lemming-speak. I will not search for an answer in a comparison of x from Vancouver and y from Cardiff, but leave it for you to judge if any trends can be found in this tiny sample. New World or Old, each piece selected throws us fresh insights, but I will mention a few that struck me as pushing the city theme where it has rarely gone before. Andy Verboom’s Of the Building of Cities. Whether or not we take the author’s footnote into account it is a bold and witty experiment, full of delicious fantasies and neologisms. Maria Chiappetta’s Princes, Taint Tea – with its charming repetition and unexpected but perfectly fitting last line. Emma Venables’ Unknown Woman, 1945, a stunning prose portrait of the aftermath of war. R.G. Jodah’s Across a Square, in which the author looks out over a city waking up and coming to life, and takes us there. And Hilary Watson’s Tail Feathers drops us clear-seeing and wistful into the middle of a city love affair. Matthew Kok’s Nickels on Pavement you Pass By also uses images of city life to set the stage for a masterly love poem. [ 10 ]
It has been a pleasure and a privilege midwifing this issue of The Lampeter Review. When the window opens for the next issue, please send us more of your riches - hard-fought or straight from the pen, wild or tamed, always greatly appreciated. We are grateful to Charles Byrd, now a year into his second century, for permission to publish his paintings, and to Cardiff Council for their generosity in providing us with the images.
Tony Kendrew, Issue Editor
[ 11 ]
Charleston Lana Bella
In Charleston, South Carolina, there is a word that means the rending from inertia into the unbodied acreages of an indigo past where ancient feet take to running, as the hills warm with red and the westerly dust thrusts under the Carolinians’ lament. One could always feel the idle precision of the heavy lidded eyes of the townsfolk, like a trail of cigarette smokes filling their grapevine with words they could only whisper behind cupped hands. An affluent town like this one, thickly dank in vanity and domed sight-line, doesn’t always have a freight train cutting through the bustling miles of history. Still, time hangs over, new prospects hum with the dichotomy of all the old obsolescence. Tonight, the dead wake to roam without their bleached white
[ 12 ]
bones, in a world where the dark is consumed by lark sparrows and Brewer’s blackbirds fighting for space, with the operatic passion of Porgy and Bess draped like damp laundry over the raised wall of Folly Beach, while the moon pours more wine over the earth and sings low James Taylor’s Carolina in My Mind.
[ 13 ]
The Legend of Brunette Coleman Anne Marie Butler
Kingston upon Hull was a stranger on paper outcast by abbreviation years before, the newcomer less impressive, but Hull was Hull, like it or leave it. He was a city man at best, bridged by the town and a dread of death. Whatever he wrote was worth writing though the big blue skies and yellow fields revealed nothing to him. Whatever he heard was worth hearing though sobriety swivelled straight from a tartâ€™s bar stool onto a beer-drenched floor. He was attracted to a plethora of Bass-fuelled vaginas, he drew chalk circles around any solid relationships. Shame. It happened when the sea went slack the sheer force of it against his high windows it was insensitive, tough and unsparing. It doesnâ€™t matter now. He is nowhere and everywhere, a touch of theatre and a few spots of rain. Hull is Hull speaking from the heart, forever the same. (Notes on Philip Larkin, whose pseudonym was Brunette Coleman.)
[ 14 ]
Princes, Taint Tea Maria Chiappetta
Saw this man today who looked like a Disney prince. He ordered the gentlest of teas. That man looks like a Disney prince and orders the gentlest of teas. A Disney prince came in today and ordered a gentle tea. Disney princes are stoic, drink dainty tea. What’s the tee, tell me what’s the tee? Prince drank taint tea through a brass funnel — it’s how he got into the right headspace for songwriting. I learned this fact from a temporary friend I met at the bar the other night. She bought me a parting shot and went on about Michael Jackson and Prince conspiracy theories which I gladly indulged while sipping an Old Fashioned. Today a man with a thick head of blonde wavy hair came into the shop and got a chamomile for here, drank the whole pot. I’d like him to drink me up too.
[ 15 ]
letâ€™s kill all the lawyers
a comedic play
[ 16 ]
Hardy Graft - (aka Grafton Hardballs) – Solicitor, 40s Anna Loveable - late 20s Malcolm Vellian - Anna’s fiancée and husband. (Known as MAC), mid 30s Barry Behan - Partner of MAC in the Big Lemon Surf designer store (BAZ), mid 30s (Irish) Sabina Lovesit - A mechanical – a working student, 20s (Anna and Sabina could be played by the same actress)
The set - A desk and chairs
[ 17 ]
ACT ONE Scene one: GRAFT, SABINA GRAFT’S office Stately, plump, HARDY GRAFT is sitting at desk facing the audience. He is almost bald. He is studying a photograph in a frame. He picks frame up and holds it as if it’s a mirror and plays with the few hairs left on his head. He grunts. There is a knock. GRAFT:
GRAFT: Come in. He puts photo down but still holds it SABINA, comes on and stands before desk GRAFT looks up distraught She pauses He realises she’s querying the photo/mirror etc GRAFT:
The horror of baldness cannot be imagined by those who are not threatened by it. It takes away one’s youth, confidence and looks – all those things the haired fall back on to get them through the rocky pages of ageing.
It makes me feel guilty for being a woman. Is that Ken’s photo?
GRAFT: Yes. What do you want? SABINA: I am sympathetic. Truly. I watched my father go through it. His suffering was a breech in my puberty. GRAFT: That’s a strange way of saying it. A breech in my puberty Sounds…sexual. [ 18 ]
What I meant was…
GRAFT: It doesn’t matter. But always. Say things with clarity. No matter how deep the thesis. Have you come for a tutorial? You look on edge. SABINA: No. Well. Perhaps. I’m a little. Overcome. I’m. I’ve just had some very bad news. Bad news for me. GRAFT:
Ok. Sit down.
SABINA sits SABINA:
I have a friend. Anna Loveable. O, she’s more than a friend. I’ve mentioned her to you. We’ve always been close. I mean as close as could be. Since we were in school. We made a pact then, in school, that because you can’t trust men, neither of us would get married without first going through a rigorous consultation process with the other. She texted me asking me to meet her. We met in that new bar Malcolm Vellian is opening in the Marina.
What does he look like, this Vellian? Does he have hair?
SABINA: I’m sorry Mr. Graft, but you’re not taking me seriously. You know who he is! He’s a prominent city politician! Big in the politics of this corrupt city. (Pause) As it happens he has a full head. Anna, my friend, tells me he’s going to stand for Mayor. He’s going to stand for Mayor on a Labour ticket. A Labour ticket. He’ll be guaranteed a landslide! He’s no more a socialist than Donald Trump! GRAFT:
What difference does it make! You said the City is corrupt so whoever is Mayor will fleece the people!
SABINA: Well worse than all that she says she’s going to marry him! That’s the difference! GRAFT:
She’s marrying him for his hair! Just hope he goes bald then she’ll be gone. From the moment I found those first tangled [ 19 ]
hairs in my comb, I knew I was doomed. It’s a hell women can never understand. It’s irreversible! It’s wearing me down. This Vellian by contrast he is on the opposite journey. His hair gives him strength. His full head will be his boon! While for me…well even now, as we speak, I feel a force of fate moving against me. And it’s getting worse! SABINA:
I have a proposal.
GRAFT: I’ve tried every lotion and pomade and I even read online that there was a direct relationship between the growth of hair and the harvesting cycles! SABINA:
Please, Mr. Graft! Hear me out!
GRAFT: I was always more confident when Ken (waves the photo at her) was alive. I found a hairdresser in the old docks who only worked when the moon was in the first quarter. A while ago now. He tried different things and I believed we were getting somewhere. But it was discovered that he was wanted for raping young nuns in Bristol and was hauled off. SABINA:
Shall I continue?
GRAFT: Yes. No, I’m bored. I feel quite indifferent to the whole thing. To everything. SABINA: That’s what boredom does! Do you know how serious boredom is? Boredom can drive even the mildest man to murder. Boredom can cause revolutions! Personally I would rather suffer all the depredations known than be bored. GRAFT: I considered that thing of growing the hair long on one side and combing it all right across. It was Ken who stopped me. Ken was good for me. He knew the business. Ken Fulsome. Always fulsome in his praise for me. Always fulsome with his advice and help. A fulsome man. A fulsome friend! His name was so apposite! His death, the nature of his death was not deserved.
[ 20 ]
SABINA: He was on the phone. While driving! The arm holding the phone was partially outside the car and a truck took the arm off! Please Mr. Graft can we return to what I was talking about?! GRAFT: But he was not on the phone to me! Who was he on the phone to? Silence SABINA: Vellian will destroy her! He will breed from her a new generation of greedy, arrogant and anti-social people. And she’ll let him! Because, I can tell she has a passion for him while his passion is not for her but for acquisition. She will be his acquisition. Something he can de-acquire whenever it suits him. GRAFT:
So you want to stop the marriage! Is that your proposal?
SABINA: I want us to stop him on every front! Vellian is despicable. You talk about the outside of his head but if you want to know what his mind is like go into the bar. Done out in a horrible puce as if not to make it too obvious that the theme is the sea. Vulgar and degrading. All that’s missing are the chalk ducks on the wall. He is so disgustingly transparent! We must stop him! GRAFT:
No! We can get him!
What’s this we?
SABINA: She told me he is already massively in debt and she doesn’t believe he can survive without some drastic action! Corrupt and criminal action I believe. Here’s my idea: they lost their solicitor... GRAFT: Another one? They’re dropping like flies! It’s open season on lawyers! [ 21 ]
It was Ken!
Ken?! I didn’t know that.
SABINA: I think you should become their solicitor. I can recommend you to her. GRAFT:
That’s absurd! What do you think we can do?
Do? We’re lawyers! We can do anything because ultimately everything depends on us! We do everything: we are the pillars holding up the establishment! The entablature: the architrave, the frieze, the cornice the whole shebang! If we refused to be there it would all collapse! Without our contractual expertise enterprises can’t be realised; without our professionalism divorce would fall apart; without our guile guilds can’t be formed, clubs would desist, without our machinations governments would collapse. Consider the whole thing: Lawyers will sell your house, empty your bins, design your roads, officiate over parking matters and even effect the fine when parking is infringed! Lawyers are barriers to the wicked: we can sue pastors and presidents, educators and fornicators, athletes and aesthetes. We are omniscient and omnipotent. We are in our own way as effective as gods. What do you mean what can we do? We can do anything! But first you’ll have to stop this nonsense about your hair or, rather, the hair that’s not there!
Steady! It may seem whimsical to you. But to me it couldn’t be more serious! You think hair doesn’t matter? I am a public person. If I’m not happy about the way I look that affects my work!
I’m sorry Mr. Graft, this is becoming so tedious!
SABINA gets up and walks to a hat stand where there is a hat. She takes it and puts it on GRAFT’S head. GRAFT:
(Suddenly erupting) Every morning I cry for my hairy youth; for the hirsute dandy that was me. When Ken was [ 22 ]
alive everything was fine. He was also bald and we were like brothers. A brace of bald brothers. Now I’m quite alone in a world where every other man flaunts the fecundity of his head by shaving back his hair. They even mock themselves with their despicable self-confidence often leaving only a brush atop the pate. Young men imitate brooms while in my day I was favoured like mink! I was the envy of the coiffured classes now I mimic a suede with a tonsure adrift on a costermonger’s apron! Short pause He admires himself with the hat on in the photograph SABINA: If you won’t do it, I will. GRAFT:
Do you understand you would be interfering with the democratic process?
So is he! He will lie to the electorate!
Lying to the electorate is not considered criminal in matters of electoral process. Anyway, you haven’t completed your LPC yet!
As SABINA speaks, GRAFT continues to look in photo/mirror admiring himself.
But I do have a training certificate with you! This is a great opportunity. I just know the man is a rat and is going to try something. I don’t know, some kind of fraud and if I’m there I can get him. As far as I’m concerned I’m going into the law and that means I have a moral responsibility. A responsibility to stop wickedness. Just as you, perhaps, feel you have a responsibility for stopping your balding. For the greater good. To be a confident, useful lawyer. And, who knows, I may be able to show Anna what he’s really like! And maybe stop a marriage that will destroy her!
[ 23 ]
(With a self-appreciating smile) You know, I counted the number of lotions and treatments I’ve tried. Well actually I kept a record. One hundred and thirty six! I tried one hundred and thirty six different remedies! (Short pause) You’re presenting a case but it’s not clear to me. Perhaps you will make specific arguments later but to be honest I don’t have much confidence. You’re too unpractised. I’ll do it. And if he seems at all reluctant to indulge in his corruptions, I’ll give him a little shove!
[ 24 ]
Seasons Abigail Conklin
When I have almost convinced myself that April isn’t coming, I imagine holes opening in the Earth, and filling them with water. Watching it soak away, and wondering at the cupping, loam palms, how they take faster than I can give. A relentless season of their own. Maybe there’s been a drought in the underworld. Persephone, waiting for her season of cold stone and murk to give way and return her to the surface of the world. A deep thirst at the back of her throat for a sip of something of life. It’s been argued she loved him the god who stole her down a hole, trapped, bribed. Damned her to a half-life in the land of the dead by the seed-pearl pulp of fruit seeds. But I imagine her, each spring, crouched below the openings in the Earth with palms upturned in faith that spring will come. Thaw will streak the marble skin [ 25 ]
of exhausted ice overhead. Life will return, come pouring in to salve the drought of her winter. And she will open her eyes and be home
[ 26 ]
Two Poems Rhian Elizabeth
on leaving the valleys and moving to the city suburb even the pigeons here are different sort of regal their feathers are groomed and smart and their flights are more purposeful somehow. they live in the woods only visiting this affluent northern suburb of the city to survey the skies and the rich people below not like the pigeons of the valleys who only see the world on the rare occasion. they are not free they live in run down sheds in the back gardens of old men who tie rubber rings around their ankles and on those rare occasions they let them out of wicker baskets for racing hoping they will return to the safeness of the shed and the valleys. i am a pigeon. but iâ€™m one of the shed ones that somehow got out and now i fly around these streets in this northern suburb of the city with a rubber ring around my ankle. i wear it around my tongue too
[ 27 ]
and itâ€™s like a tourniquet slowly compressing my valleys accent but one day i will return.
[ 28 ]
the baby in the apartment i moved to the city for love but when i got there love had vacated the apartment and left behind a note and a box of out of date cookies – those things had mould instead of chocolate chips. but nevertheless i stayed quickly learning that the baby in the apartment upstairs cries all day long and you hear no adult voices in return. i think about going up there one of these days but if i cry all day long no one answers me so i don’t see why the baby should get any special treatment. my phone is in three pieces across the newly laid carpet – the battery the casing and the sim card – because nobody calls it anymore. it does not beep with text messages containing declarations of deep and precious love or with any wild and jealous accusations either. and because i’m hungry but too deep in an agoraphobic sulk to go out and get some food for the fridge and because the note said – enjoy the cookies.
[ 29 ]
Days Till Death John Evans-Pritchard
I looked across to the letter rack where we always placed any post for Amy, so that she could open it when she got back from college. Would she notice that the manila envelope had been steamed open and then sealed again? Did it matter? It was addressed to me and Rachel, Amy’s parents, but this was really a letter for Amy. How could it be anything else? Across the bottom of the envelope, stamped in ominous prophetic words, were the bold, black Verdana letters – Denzil and Tyler Diagnostic. I remember! God! How clearly! When my diagnostic arrived. But I was already twenty-one years old, not seventeen. Our generation had been allowed to reach adulthood in ignorance. The Denzil and Tyler Diagnostic, or DTD, was developed after two genetics scientists, who were quickly awarded the status of Nobel Laureates, started to probe beneath what is now known to be the simplistic interpretation of the human genome. What they discovered was a substructure of DNA, one that had no lower structures and one that could not be manipulated in the way in which the scientists of the 21 century thought that basic DNA could be manipulated. They called it the “Nadir structure” or simply, the “Nadir”. st
Out of the window went the endless progression of the clever solutions of DNA replacements: cures for inherited diseases, and the possibility of infinite improvements in what medical science could achieve. It had been established that the study of the basic structure of DNA could reduce the possibility of congenital illnesses and in many cases that was proved to be right. But then it hit the Nadir,
[ 30 ]
an impenetrable barrier to further medical intervention which meant some congenital illnesses could never be cured. But Denzil and Tyler found something far more profound and indeed lifechanging. They found that the Nadir contained data that gave an accurate prediction of how long a person would live, give or take a few months. This defined a person’s lifespan assuming no accidents, suicide or unexpected pandemics. It is true that the research also identified what was to become a cocktail of pills, tailored to the individual’s Nadir, which extended a person’s life to the optimum. These were pills to be taken every day of one’s life from the age of seventeenand-a-half. This was the age at which the data in the Nadir structure could be definitely mapped, after the changes that the body experiences through adolescence. It was the point at which the regime of drugs could be effectively established, and the predicted day of death, within a month or two, could be stated with a certainty of 99.99995%; a 5-sigma certainty. It did not take long before big business jumped on the bandwagon. First came the pharmaceutical companies, fighting tooth and nail to get the patents for the diagnostic, and for the cocktail of drugs. That was before the World Health Organisation insisted on UN ownership and control. Within a year, all details of the diagnostic and the cocktail of drugs were made available to whichever company wanted to offer them. Both became a cheap and standard option, available for all people in the world. Then the insurance companies and pension providers realised the staggering implications of the diagnostic. They refused cover to anyone who would not voluntarily supply the results of their diagnostics when they applied for any form of insurance, or negotiated the level of contributions into their pension funds. And, of course, the media had a field day. From the extreme religious publications came the pronouncements that this was God’s ultimate judgement on man’s pride, pride which could dare to imagine that humanity could challenge God’s own design for the lifespan of a man. And, from the tabloid press, came the almost inevitable change in the meaning of the DTD acronym from the “Denzil and Tyler Diagnostic” to “Days Till Death”. With the media, the insurance and the pension companies and even prospective life partners demanding to know how long an individual would live, the idea that anyone could keep the results of their diagnostic secret was essentially swept aside by society. So today, Amy would know her future.
[ 31 ]
I already know when I will die. I am fifty-eight years old and last month I opened my new packet of pills. The packaging had changed from cream to mauve to indicate ten years to prepare for death. Sixty-eight years sounded so everlasting when I was twenty-one, but then I have a congenital condition that could have meant that I would have died in my twenties or thirties. With my diagnostic telling me that I would live to sixty-eight, it did not even seem to matter too much that average life expectancy with the pills was raised from seventy-five years for the average person to close to one-hundred-and-thirteen years. But the latter is the expectancy one should pass on to one’s children. When the diagnostic had passed all the clinical trials I was twenty-one, but already everyone had started to assess everyone else and not just for pensions, life insurance and jobs. Perhaps the most extreme assessment came in terms of people’s personal relationships. Will he/she be here as we grow old? Could one say that real love would conquer all? Sometimes yes but, generally, pragmatism ruled. Individuals gravitated to those with similar predicted life spans. Do you really want to go on living when your life-partner has gone? So, perhaps inevitably, Rachel and I were drawn to one another. I was diagnosed with a form of Deletion Syndrome (DS) when I was in my late teens and, at that time, my father was warned I might even die in my twenties. DS is hereditary and there is no cure. It was my mother who carried the gene and she died when I was only ten, a hard loss for a child of that age to absorb. When DTD was made available to all, my father and I agreed to take the clinical tests on the same day. When the results came back (they are always posted) we opened our envelopes together. His results showed that he would die at the age of ninety-nine, possibly making one hundred. My results showed that I would live to the ripe old age of sixty-eight, and just outlive him. For us both it was a reflective moment of measured celebration. However, knowledge of the day of your death brings with it considerations about life that a person would not have thought of until that limitation was revealed. For myself I slowly realised that, with an average life expectancy of one-hundred-and-thirteen years, finding a life-partner was still a prospect that needed deep thought. How could I “love and protect until death do us part”, if I was to die so comparatively young?
[ 32 ]
Rachel is beautiful, thoughtful and compassionate. I could not have found anyone more perfect. We met at university and fell in love. Our lives would have been together, I believe, whatever, but sometimes fate conspires to seal what the soul feels. The Denzil and Tyler Diagnostic was, understandably, a topic on the minds and lips of nearly everyone. And in our university halls, as we talked to each other about it, she told me that she also had a form of DS. Rachelâ€™s DTD came through two weeks after my fatherâ€™s and mine. Her Nadir diagnostics showed that we would die within one year of each other, Rachel suffering the grief. For myself, and indeed for both of us, I believe love would have conquered all, but fate made that challenge irrelevant. We would live together through a good lifespan and move on to wherever followed, with little separation. Being a genetic disorder, DS can be passed to oneâ€™s children. For that reason, Rachel and I decided never to have children. And we lived completely contentedly for more than ten years with our deep love for one another and our accepted fate. But then Christophe sowed a seed of hope. Christophe was a friend from Kobenhavn, studying medicine and genetics at Aarhus University. Both Rachel and I knew that the diagnostic also predicted that the chances of a parent, with our form of DS, passing it on to their children was about one in eight. We had also assumed that, because we both had the same form of DS, the odds would rise significantly. What Christophe told us, on a late, sunlit evening as we punted down the Cherwell in Oxford, undid our resolve. Maybe it was the bottles of wine chilling in the river, filling our glasses at regular intervals that fermented the hope, but in our hearts we knew that it had always been there, the unspoken longing that we had always had, to have a family. He told us about the latest research into how thymidine reacts with the Nadir. Thymidine is significant because of its involvement in the biosynthesis of DNA and in the preservation and transference of genetic information. Christophe explained that, because every person has a unique Nadir, thymidine could enhance or block the transfer of inherited genetic disorders when parents had the same DS. Like most people, we had put our Nadir mappings on an open database, so that anyone concerned, insurance companies, pension funds, etc, could check [ 33 ]
them. They were, therefore, also available for Christophe to access as part of his research at Aarhus University, and that is what he had done. Running the mapping data for our individual Nadirs against our combined personal presentations of DS and the predicted effects of thymidine, he had found that thymidine would act as a block to the transfer of our genetic disorder to a child. The effect would be that the chance of a child of ours inheriting our disease was lessened, from one in eight to one in twenty-one. Of course we did extensive research. Everything that Christophe had said was confirmed, 5-sigma. But the odds remained. I cannot blame Rachel, even though I know how much she wanted a child. That would be hypocritical because I also wanted that, someone to make our existence complete, so that we could be a whole family. And we decided. Twenty out of twenty-one children born from partners with our DS and our Nadir profiles would be normal, healthy children who would live, on average, to one-hundred-and-thirteen years of age. Amy knew from a young age that we had DS. One of the questions raised and discussed in primary school is “When does the Diagnostic say your parents will die?” and, then, “How should you cope with this?” Amy coped well, a feisty attractive and popular girl all the way through her years at school and at college. But she also understood our relatively reduced life spans, and accepted our preparations for her life continuing without us. I looked across to the letter rack again. Would she, could she, understand the gamble that we had taken? Was it for her, a beloved life brought into the world? A life adored. Was it for us? Was it for me? The DTD is not uncertain. I wish it was. And, if the odds are against us with our genetic conditions and the curse of the Nadir, what could we wish for Amy? A twenty-in-twenty-one chance of escaping the disease? Well, the manila envelope says we, and Amy, have lost. The DTD confirms that Amy has DS. But it does more. When I was eighteen, my parents were warned that I might die in my early twenties. Extreme DS can do that. Both Rachel and I have accepted that we will lose each other fairly soon, and that we will die within the next ten and eleven years.
[ 34 ]
But how can I explain to my beautiful adorable daughter that she will die in nine yearsâ€™ time, when she is only twenty-six? Because of our selfish gamble. God forgive me!
[ 35 ]
Mercedes Benz Building Susan Ioannou
Mirror by bronzed mirror, across its glowing facade amber cars and buses glide soundless in a parallel world. Behind them, from across the road, orange apartments stand unmoved reflecting on themselves and us watching them watch us
[ 36 ]
Across a Square R. G. Jodah
Nine flights up, above the sunrise on a sixties roof, a parapet skirts the edge, thigh high. You take a cold breath of the sleeping world exhale a cupful into your hands. Back to the tomb of a chipped paint air condenser, an ugly bouquet of satellite dishes, a little space and time to watch as dawn drags the day out of hiding. See what the black-shift sweepers have left. To the warming east, where the old road bleeds into the heart of this aching body, waiting on the scaffold the tarpaulin flaps like roosting bats. A sudden dislocation when the static of the open channel stops, drops you out into the cool quiet, where the sodium radiance rolls a thin sunset stain on brushed wet slabs. In the waiting, the sky dilutes to a white translucence, mother-of-pearl at this orphan hour, fading stars, his face on the bill-board washes out into yesterday. A yard below, colder than the street, six cylinders turn over into life and birds, just in from the country, take brief, indignant, flight. Flushed, settle down to a sullen slumber.
[ 37 ]
The reluctant day continues to break and the city pours out through the cracks. A slow start, gathering momentum. Shivering, a dull van yawns, showing its teeth, bleary uniforms put up barriers. Later, compressed to widescreen, they’ll run this part of the morning in fast forward. A last century vt, with shrill side scrolling text, repeating the obvious, claiming it’s news. Aerial view of an incoming tide. A skip-frame jitter, rock pools over flow, fjord, lagoon. A confluence of tributaries carrying all before them. Slow to real time. Wire brushed words rise, harsher than intended, too much amplification, too few speakers, sentences fall to pieces, buffeted on waves of placards; which from this side, are blank. Just within earshot, near the new Grand Hotel, a swell, a noise like your schoolmaster coughing – remember, decorum. A fog writhes, caresses, the crowd bends beneath its weight. Banners flagging in the heat. Across the distance of a square, borne aloft, discarded, what sounds like love, or lost, or leave, arrive out of context, meaning less. Waters drain with the hours. Rubble from a monument’s demolition, what remains of today, carried out on the backs of stragglers scuffing through the dusk in the gutters. Distant rarefied heights, poor quarter oil and spices compete with technology among the hollows, the sharp echoes. Behind tightly clenched curtains the black-shift are abandoning their dreams.
[ 38 ]
Rats Shauna Gilligan
My husband is like the cat; he stretches and spreads himself across the sofa, makes patterns with his feet. My lover is like the dog; faithful, loyal, and as eager to please as to play. And I. What am I like? The rat in the cage, too clever to be caught escaping, too sharp to bite. It’s a Saturday and I’m standing on the bridge. I’ve nestled myself among the cute couples as they snap shut their locks – with pink hearts drawn in newly purchased Sharpies – onto the rails that were put up to stop the suicides. I too have brought something sentimental. My dead mother’s locket. I find a gap in the rows of Chubb locks and loop the chain around and around. I’m aware of the council worker with his over-sized cutters, making his way – so slowly! – across the bridge, snipping at the locks. The next time I come here, I think triumphantly, the locket will be gone. There’ll be nothing to push me back into that space of despair. I skip and move on. “Hey! “You don’t want to add that to this pile of junk now do you?” Despite myself, I turn to see him unlooping the chain from the rails. They say that your heart plummets but I think that’s the wrong word. It stutters, and if it could speak it would spit. So with my stuttering, spitting heart, I answer him. “Oh that’s just an old locket. From someone I once loved.” Suddenly I feel acutely single. He stands with his high-viz jacket snug around his paunch, his fat fingers fiddling with the clasp. “Honestly.” I’m shouting now. I’m not going to be the one to move. He’s still fiddling, and he looks up at me, frowning. “A little help here?” “I don’t want it.” But I find myself moving towards him, stretching out my hand for the locket. “There’s a catch to it.” “Boom, boom.” He chuckles loudly. “I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
[ 39 ]
He scratches beneath his white hard hat. “Seems a bit ridiculous to have to wear a hard hat cutting locks from a bridge.” He shrugs again. “Part of the uniform.” I notice his nice eyes. Open. Friendly. I almost blush. “So, are you going to show me the catch or not?” And I show him how it works. “You just slip your thumbnail into the little groove like this.” I glance up at him. He’s looking back down the length of the bridge he’d just covered. “Christ, there are more of them. Can you believe it?” “See?” He nods. “It’s my fingers. They’re too big.” “And then you just flick it, look, flick it open.” Our heads touch as we peer at the picture. A baby. Black and white and tiny. Its head turned away from the camera. Naked but for a nappy. Towelling. That’s how I know it’s not me. I was a Pampers baby. Disposable. “Cute baby.” “All babies are cute.” “I guess. Like small animals.” “Even baby rats are cute.” “You like vermin?” I shrug. “My mother always had two in the house. Pets. Like other people had cats.” “This bloody hat, it feels like I’ve got nits or something,” he says, taking it off, flinging it to the ground. He scratches his head with both hands. “Never liked cats myself,” he continues. “Always a dog person.” I look up and down the length of the bridge. “So. Is this what you do? Cut locks off the bridge. These beautiful symbols of everlasting love.” He laughs. “Beautiful symbols of everlasting love,” he repeats. “I like it. You’ve just given me a new job title. Cutter of Beautiful Symbols of Everlasting Love. Big letters.” Suddenly I pity him, how he seems over-sized for his own body. “Sometimes I get the bridge,” he says, “and other days they put me on the sewers.” He looks at me. “With the rats.” I nod and stare at the locket. “I guess I could hang it on a hook in the toilet.” “Better than rusting here.” He gestures to the rails. “Or in the dump.” He rattles his green plastic bin full of broken locks. “I cut them down, and within a day or two, there are hundreds back up again. There’s that many couples in this city.” “A plague.” He laughs. “You’re on the money there. A fucking plague.” He pauses. [ 40 ]
“Sorry. Pardon the language.” “That’s okay. Remember, I’m a rat. I’m used to the dirt.” “You’re a rat who kept rats.” He picks up his hard hat from the ground. “I’d better put this thing on,” he says, shaking his head, “they suspended someone for a day, docked their pay, for not wearing the full uniform.” “Christ.” There’s a pause. I tell myself to move on. There’s a husband and a lover and there shouldn’t be another. “Lovely talking to you.” My tone is brisk. I watch his face colour. “Glad I could save the locket.” And then I find myself embracing him, and thanking him, and telling him that he did a good deed today. And I step back and realise that sweat isn’t always rank, that large isn’t always ugly. That love, or even tenderness comes sometimes when things are saved from destruction.
[ 41 ]
Two Poems Matthew Kok
Nickels on Pavement you Pass By I. Iâ€”What would really change if you were here? You would rest your head on my stomach, your breath would take me, pull along my legs, their soreness, into your open-mouth river. You would be here. I could feel your chest expand as the air slides down you to fill the swell of flesh on your hips, the way you arch. II. The rain comes, darkens the pavement under me. People crash their bent spokes together under designer umbrellas. Look, the trash now made soggy, now made to dissolve into each other pieces, scattered without intention. At my bus stop the strangers lean into each other underneath shelter.
[ 42 ]
The newspaper on the ground is a sick paste, illegible, unable now to hold, being reduced this way. III. I spend each night naked in bed trying to fill both sides. The new task by the hour of gauging the cold on the other side, chasing it away with a draped leg. Were you what I was on that bench outside 7/11â€”something about never, or ever long, did you know you were going to bring the rain, Iâ€”
[ 43 ]
Traveling at Night Half-waking, shaken by the darkened bus, being launched lonesome state to lonesome state, you may mistake a gas station for a temple, a raven for a lark. Say it is good to be in darkness, it is good to have a gradient of darkness to light, absence of bodies under lampposts. As if each eighteen-wheeler parade float we pass, floats. A willow tree where the plateau stood mid-day, you see I admit to meandering, but I do it with care. At random, but with specific intention, which is also obscured by darkness, which is good.
[ 44 ]
Cracks Kathy Miles
And sometimes on these still September nights when sleep unfastens from the season’s hold I dream of home. Walking with you on a Sunday morning, gulls speaking in tongues across the estuary, as we pass the ruins of St. Luke’s head down towards the Mersey. Already there’s sand in our pockets, cold as loose change. A bluster of rain gusting the pier, drawing the story of this city in all its weathers, in the dust and pouches of its history, cargos of lost ships, forgotten docks. I remember ferries straining at the capstans, a fugue of sirens echoing to Seaforth and New Brighton. A promise of ferris wheel and helter-skelter as we swayed on the tilt of the landing stage to board the Royal Iris or Egremont. Dockers flocking to work on Monday mornings, all fags and hipflasks and bellied swagger, unloading freight in Canning Dock, below the frail steel spine of the railway overhead.
[ 45 ]
And in the suburbs, crows’ nests in ancient oaks observing lovers, flȃneurs, casual walkers, children sagging school and weary mothers playing hookey in Sefton Park, away from houses with the nets tight drawn. Gardens and wilded spaces, where the city re-enchants itself and breeze busks on the corner under louche lamplight. But walking with you then, I only saw pale tongues of sand, flocks of teal and lapwing, sun silvering the shore when the tide came home. And I’d jump the cracks in the pavement, leave my patrin on tree and asphalt signed in hollow corridors of wind the silent symphony of river.
[ 46 ]
The Art of Charles Byrd The Disappearance of Magic?
Byrdâ€™s work demonstrates a sophisticated sense of structure. He claims he learnt his art mainly by looking at reproductions and, considering that such reproductions were usually in black and white, it is not surprising that his own work should be so highly patterned. His training as an engineer probably heightened his sensitivity to the architectural ordering of space in the first place. His are paintings that commemorate the layered spaces of Cardiff Docklands, each one presenting a still, enclosed world with very little sky and the odd individual figure momentarily suspended in loving impasto. He responded to a comment about the lack of sky in his paintings by admitting he was more interested in the arrangement of space. Charles Byrdâ€™s work adds to the repertoire of our visual images, rooted deeply in an industrial workplace and in the degeneration and anxiety that has attended its decline. Byrdâ€™s work not only documents our experience in Wales but is part of its making. ~ Jeni Williams, reprinted with permission from Planet, www.planetmagazine.org.uk
[ 47 ]
[ 48 ]
The Oval Mirror
[ 49 ]
Backyard in Canton
[ 50 ]
[ 51 ]
The Weir, Llandaff
[ 52 ]
The Brewery and Paper Mill, Ely
[ 53 ]
Figure Study, Trinity Street
[ 54 ]
[ 55 ]
A gap in the crowd Lee Nash
wolf whistle on my way to work small starling a man waiting by a pile of fresh tar spring morning city sounds plough horsesâ€™ hooves on tarmacadam all the clock hands set at ten past ten her immaculate smile white magnolia beside the conservatoire blue notes dying cyclamenâ€¨ in a plastic windowboxâ€¨ S.A.D. an ambulance in the driveway firefly in the rain
[ 56 ]
dusk in the public garden doves in a sculpture the homeless call him back to the bowl dog in the cold trees around a house the whir of an electric gate
[ 57 ]
Soaring Jared Pearce
The seagulls hurting Their cries in the dark Morning are just at My height, Here in downtown Chicago, Alone, thinking some light Could slip through the steel And concrete, the mirrored Glass and tired lake. When growing up, down At the seaâ€™s crown, on the bluff, Theyâ€™d hover, Silent, still, on pace with the planet Rotating slowly beneath them.
[ 58 ]
The Witches of Cardiff Frances Hay
At any one time, there are always exactly twenty witches in Cardiff. They blend in like chameleons. Indeed, Cardiff witches employ live chameleons as their familiars, because Cardiff is a shape-changing city of shifting winds and watery colours and thin mists that creep in from the steep and flat islands and drift across the city toward the low, round hills. A witch striding through the Cardiff arcades with her chameleon on her shoulder can duck into a doorway, merge into the background of the floral landscapes of the retro fabrics in the vintage shops. She can hide among the dusty stacks of ever-so-long-playing and long-played Spillers records. Her true colours fade away into the dark shadows of the market. At any one time, at least one of the Cardiff witches is a man. He is not a chameleon. It is safe for a male witch to stand up straight, to sing a song, to shout and carry on in structured ways, at the Senedd or outside the pubs on St Mary’s Street. It had once been rumoured that at one time Rhodri Morgan was the male witch, but that allegation has never been confirmed. It is not necessary to serve as a witch for life, though most Cardiff witches have active retirements. Even when they have drawn their pensions, they still have special jobs to do — scaring small children who venture too close to their gardens, living up to the stereotype of the mad hags who haunt the villages in the Vale and the stony hamlets across the mountains. These old pensioners in their cottages guard the secrets of the active Cardiff witches, who have no need of cat or cauldron. Rather, the twenty working witches rely on their chameleons to remain invisible and free to do their dangerous work — free to cast the spells that feed the salmon on the Taff, that keep the stone guardians’ glass eyes gleaming on the Castle wall, that hold the dark magic of this city bound within the hills, twined round the willow wands that line the river, preserved in the ancient stones of the friary and the Roman wall, buried in the green grass graves of the plague pits of
[ 59 ]
Nant Fawr. The witchesâ€™ magic is hidden from view. But it will endure even after the last shop in the supermall locks its door, the last car park crumbles into dust. And when that happens, as it surely will, there will still be twenty witches of Cardiff with chameleons on their shoulders, bleached of colour against the white sky, flying with the gulls above and beyond the barrage, but always circling round and round, hovering over their brave, doomed city.
[ 60 ]
Revolution Gary Raymond
I. I took with me Baudelaire to Kolkata I took him for the gold leaf of his spine The delicate persuasion of his voice I took him because you told me he had never been As I drank coffee at the steamed-wet window The rain hitting hard the Oxford pavements And the gold leaf of the spine was tuned To a withering frequency – you said the book Could not have been conceived had he not avoided India, and here in my hands I held the publisher’s redaction. Quite the comeback, I said. He made them millionaires, of course, although he remained unbearable his entire life. What would Calcutta have done to him? What is this thing with Baudelaire, anyway; Don’t you find his self-pity ultimately overwhelming I mean I thought – I even hoped – The new century would nudge him out of favour. I suppose the first thing was that he didn’t look like a poet As in he looked an unlikely one. That headshot His author’s photo – he looks like an American
[ 61 ]
Civil War general – Sherman or Grant, One of the heavy drinkers, their minds corrupted By their own soul-tied professions. You think love was Baudelaire’s battlefield Some people are consumed by what is in front of them; That is their disposition, to be both glutton and devoured, And we tend to offer them grandeur for it, as if it is salvation. With this in mind, Baudelaire would have made an awful travel companion. Beyond the oriental sheen of his spine He was in sway to his love for doomed women Tigresses, if you will And his drinking would have plucked the catgut Of his steadfast belief in elation and oblivion.
II. I took with me Baudelaire to Kolkata Because he had never been. He disembarked in Mauritius At Mauritius Somewhere near Mauritius Yet another defiant gesture to his military step-father Who had thrown him on the ship at his own wits-end With Baudelaire’s spiraling bohemian tantrums; He was a tearaway, a disappointment, embarrassment, All these things and more. By now it was the age-old fear, For his own health, his own light growing dimmer. Oxford has a distinguished tradition of men like Baudelaire, Throwing away the privilege on offer to seek a deeper truth. His step-father might have thought of the English way of things, But he cast his eye to the sub-continent – he knew something. [ 62 ]
“Death to General Aupick!” Baudelaire was heard to cry In the throws of a revolutionary thrust, his mother’s husband’s Name stopping many in their tracks.
“That kid has issues,” said Fourier. “There is a line one should not cross,” said Proudhon. There is more to this than mere poetic sensibility, Joining in a revolution and letting Freud slip out.
Every revolution is Freudian, isn’t it? So, this is the mark in Baudelaire’s life Where he was exiled in an attempt To purify his choleric extremities. His step-father may have been expecting The heat to dry him out, or to make supple Those bones made rigid by life and anti-life. But more likely he knew Calcutta As the city of the drawn gaze The city of the saviours of thought He knew it as the Paris of the ever-thinkers. Calcutta would have stopped the Frenchman In his spiral, the city of a thousand silent Footsteps, the city of the pliant warriors. What had happened to Paris was that all the great thinkers had lost themselves in causes and they held muskets as often as they held the pen, mass endeavour, and nobody was answering Enlightenment questions any more. In Paris was the birth of everything is politics everything is politics everything is politics. In Calcutta thinkers still thought and there was room for thinking and long drawn out silences as the golden mist of the mornings rose from the farm fields and the flaking gravel of the dirt roads that cough their dust from under foot and the fig trees and cannonball palms and the watchful fibrillous calm of the livestock. From rooftop verandas Aupick must have known his step-son would find peace in Calcutta, which means he must have sympathised, must have loved. It was love put Calcutta in his thoughts, and love that pushed Baudelaire to the boat.
[ 63 ]
Didnâ€™t Gandhi nearly starve himself to death Fasting on a rooftop on a bed of rotting petals Begging for the rioters in the cavities of Partition To uncup their hands from the idols of the dagger and mace? Calcutta shows its teeth Calcutta plays hard Calcutta had the Black Hole Maybe Aupick sensed a slow and painful death For Baudelaire out here in the mix of it?
III. I took with me Baudelaire to Kolkata Because he never made it to the shores But his Fleurs du Mal was written And, in its golden spine, I guess It made it in his place. The golden spine sat upon the brown desk. Calcutta has the bluest skies, my love Calcutta has the slowest walks The saunter, the dusted boots in the sand Air, the brittle pavements, the crumbling stone, The fading wireless signal of the past Hissing from the arches and colonnades, From the slow verandas, the slow afternoons, The scuttle of the street life, The watchers on the sidelines.
IV. What do you think Baudelaire was afraid of? Do you think he looked across the ocean from that sad deck, A poet amongst so many raggedy seafolk, And imagined the jewels of India to be poisoned beads? [ 64 ]
I think he feared Aupick might be right. I think he feared being corrected. Some people hold on to the comfort of their pain. They think it is all they have. They think beyond it is inertia. So, in 1841 Charles Baudelaire disembarked early Satisfied with Mauritian sand between his toes That he had halted the straightening of his crook No – I prefer to think he jumped ship Buoyed by blinding gin – dove into the ocean A dart in black and silver night And swam through moon’s reflection to the closest coast The one he felt would save him And he crawled into the sand And found the eyes and nakedness Of his woman of Mirabar Again, I ask you – what could he have done Had he made it to Calcutta? Fleurs du Mal flutters up the flagpole And we all have our ideas of Baudelaire. He reads well here. Baudelaire was the omen, the harbinger, And Calcutta may have rewarded him with another twenty years. There must have been some moments of silence At Mirabar, a paradise of grasses and soft earth. The Revolution came. Ruptured earth. Tease out those influences. Fleurs du Mal is the invisible ink Beneath the pamphlets that fluttered Across the bodies in the streets. The silences.
[ 65 ]
In Kolkata I see Baudelaire on street corners I see him in the temples His white shirt open to the waist His boots decried with dust Hands on hips He finds the Belur Math Fifty years yet to be built In Calcutta he lives to a hundred and fifty His golden spine on a brown desk The soft whirr of the white blades Rotating overhead The noise of the streets The silence of the streets.
[ 66 ]
Ben Celina Silva
August, and the little dry patch of grass in front of Grandpa Ben’s North Van house shifts, sizzles, crackles in the gentle wind. I hate him. Dad says he loves his Pop. This is your blood he says, cracks open a Bud. Flicks his cigarette. We walk up to the door, a little booze cruise to family hour. Hockey Night in Canada Scores! Uncle Ken and Uncle Larry hoot & scan Ava and I. Hi strangers, Uncle Ken says, Dad has 12 siblings, their kids have kids, my kids, Dad says to the family, don’t even know your names. I can’t be sure, it’s true, Mom says Ben beat Dad. Dad says Mom lies. Mom says Dad beats her. Dad says Mom is manipulative. Dad says Grandpa Ben is Squamish First Nations, everyone tells me I am too afraid of him, he pays me a dollar for a cheek-kiss, says I’m a Silva, like that means everything. I don’t want to tell him my secret last name is “Cat” and I blink, hard, fast 1-2, 1-2 blinks, hard, hard. There is something wrong with you, Dad says, everything is too sensitive. This is your blood. But everyone in this family knows Ben beat Dad and Dad beat Mom, and soon Mom will save us. And I will too 1-2, 1-2 blink, blink, turn into the Kootenay night, forever look back.
[ 67 ]
Jiveshake on the Subway Gail Tyson
Spichernstrasse. Every morning you descend the grimy steps of this station; today a G.I. waits in your usual place on the platform. The soldier’s face is walnutbrown, bark against his lichen-mottled camouflage. You both board, and he stands alone, faced by two rows of Caucasians. On this August morning in 1980, the U-Bahn plummets southwest into West Berlin’s American sector. No one would guess you’re an American, a Weisswurst tucked in among the sauerkraut of Germans. You’re practiced at blending in, although you haven’t adopted their peevish expressions and monogrammed briefcases. Appearances rule here, even in transit; last week a man zipped immaculate blue overalls over a suit as he neared his stop, a suit that presumably hid his occupation from his neighbors. When this train reaches your thatched-roof station, Dahlem Dorf, you will walk down the leafy arcade of Fabeckstrasse to the U.S. Army Hospital. As civilian personnel director, you oversee hiring and manage employment of a “local national” workforce — Turkish dentists, Italian cooks — who work side by side with military staff. This job provides a haven from the work of finding your place in every German sentence, in this divided city, in your disjointed marriage. Hohenzollernplatz. You married John and moved here so he could write his dissertation on the German playwright, Bertolt Brecht. John is fluent in German and the culture’s pedantic precision. Used to California casual, you’ve experienced German customs — and, more and more, your husband — as quite formal. Take greetings: Address everyone by the formal Sie until invited to use the more intimate Du; the older or higher-ranking person must extend this invitation. Upon meeting, shake hands (Hände schüttein), but a woman must first offer her hand to a man. In a group everyone shakes hands, but crossing someone else’s hand during all this gripping is inappropriate.
[ 68 ]
Fehrbellinerplatz. You observe the soldier, a fellow citizen in the state of temporary postings. Your time here, like that of most military, will span three years. Fernweh, or farsickness — what Germans call a yearning to travel — lured you here, but you’ve spent two years in a small, sublet apartment, sleeping in the strangers’ bed. Is that why this period has always felt like an interlude between your former lives as graduate students/live-in lovers and real married life, when John will teach, and you can own furniture, even a home? Is it why your spoken German is still halting and your longings hidden, some of them from yourself? Heidelberger Platz. Every morning you leave him hunched over his desk, blockaded by pillars of notes. Saturdays, you lace up your boots and flee the apartment, which teems with his anxiety, to walk trails in the Grunewald. Some days you pass groups striding toward lunch at the old hunting lodge in the woods, startled by women gamely keeping pace in high heels. Mostly, you thread your way alone through copses of wiry white beeches, pace the pathway along the lake, ride the ferry to Peacock Island, where the birds’ unnerving shrieks stifle your loneliness. As your first anniversary approaches, John sits you down and says he had not written a word. Night after night you came back to the apartment, and he never said a word. Rudesheimer Platz. Three transit Kontrolleurs board — a random check of fare cards — and a student by the door jumps out just before the doors close. After you moved here, John traveled around West Germany for three months, interviewing Brecht’s protégées. Some weeks the only person you would greet was the grocery clerk, who scowled as you fumbled still-foreign coins. One night you huddled in a phone booth while the receiver in your parents’ house, 4,000 miles away, keened 20 times. Desperate for work and companionship, you teetered on the brink of bolting back to the States. Before you got your job, you would ride to the end of this U-Bahn line to walk yourself to exhaustion around the steely waters of Krumme Lanke. On rainy days, you’d get off at Dahlem Dorf and visit the museum. You go back, again and again, to stand before the Roman funerary stela: A dead woman, seated, faces the husband who stands before her; a child clings to her draped leg, and a little dog crouches behind her chair. They all wear standard half-smiles, their posture is impeccable. The couple’s hands clasp, the gesture formal, yet the touch lays flesh on flesh, silent, intimate.
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Breitenbackplatz. A brisk rapping on your apartment door one evening startles you. Two men — one tall and stony-faced, the other short and genial — flash identification. Yes, I work at the hospital, you say. Yes, I’m registered with the city legally as John’s wife. Yes, I kept my maiden name. “Butzi” and “Burli” gawk. Convinced you are working illegally, they cannot seem to comprehend a couple with different surnames. John explains again. “Burli” shakes his head. “This is very irregular. In Germany, a wife always takes her husband’s name. It would be a lot better for our records if you would change yours.” Podbielskiallee. Another G.I., espresso-dark, boards through the middle doors and spies his fellow soldier. Wide grins split their faces as the second man strides toward the first, snaring everyone’s attention. Germans gawk as the two clutch the base of each other’s thumb, lean in to bump first one shoulder, then the other, and snap their fingers, polishing off the jiveshake with a fist-pound flourish; you cheer them in silence. Effervescent as a goblet of Berliner Weisse mit Schuss, the tart beer sweetened with bright green woodruff syrup — your first taste of the city, when you were still hopeful — the moment scalds your throat.
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Of the Building of Cities Andy Verboom
I. The Toys to Have Even in the beginning, we despise London and light backgrounds or the palace. Cheerless horses and football players burn for the example. And after one example, others are easy. The thatched roof insists. It ups the hands. We marching, swashbuckling piggys parade the privilege. It is obscure. It is only emperors or a little hole there is in the human will. It is human. This is a hole. We set out for its mess of arms a lady+ with flat body, presumably only sheets and veins. We set out to not build the temple. Only the most maligned are knocked over, wistfully at the time, never nearer ones. They have toy drawers, rich people. Buildings belong to them. Buildings have lived, may vote, a kind of offspring that quarters the owners. In front of their toys, we disfranchised have hundreds, houses, the right of public opinion in quiet corners. But these are times the ceilings have our floors. A general allegory of the inevitable,
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by the mere love of the schoolroom, gives us bare walls we hopelessly book up. They are how we use careful students. When the term is over, one’s citizens have exaggeration, a solitary book upon witless merits and no thought of primogeniture. Here comes the museum, the privilege of the gloved gentlemen and lonely elephant, his four or five jointed legs knocking. Daddy, said one armour. Daddy, said one more nothing. You will kill elephants to the joy of glove-fingers. Bequests are because of museum. We illustrate some of it with a faint. So having that elephant saves the museum. The elephant escapes these sacks, a toy whose pieces of the stripping tell of grotesque regrettes. It is extremely grown up and scientific this type of raid upon that temple, whirlpool between Easter eggs and pursuit of a surface. The game comes out of white foam, which somehow dazzles. Of course, the game is obscure, too. We wander the game into the rifleman’s untouched house. We never had a drop of rifle. Toys sold and sharply recalled, they have scattered in uniforms and rearranged in the best parent’s pay. The joy and home work of spaces remove the seams of happiness. Devise a harbour game. Stand next to of course I wilderness merchant. Out there are the best palaces of wooden bricks incompatible to rooms and buildings. Such poor deserve jollies in the bricks.
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II. The Game of the Wonderful Islands Islands arranged in the palace. The marble ships in pursuit of this agreeable place sail on any occasion, the jetty a precarious exorcising of skimpy sickly creatures. You can draw? You can use ships to write the number of your inheritance on silver paper. You can convert the whole thing into a great book about the thing. You can make very much water between the temples of this guide-book, make of half-Easter an island and eat happy in the scheme. Stand huts on flamboyant energy, soul with cross. What reconstructs civilization on a half rock? Let me take one island as illustrategy: here are species about the moment in their rude canoes made by hand like the London County Council never quite sufficiently at anchor. Note too their unfortified beach. Decent stories are heavy guns, a gentleman, a romantic shell. What’s settled counts more, castles illustrating the old harbour. An allegory guide-book says Hoist paper flags to the little nest. Make the ordinary Good Garden. Out of a little wood garden farm, we begin minds. Of the metallic pillar, we very carefully tell these landlords they belong to us. What is this island? Oblong object distinguished by the small blue circle. Rocks’ remarkable myriads of thickness. The good garden’s dwarf idols. [ 73 ]
Not to close a census or anything but the garden is chiefly the adult populated by marching children. We even have regretful familitarism. If such exceptional physique is mere species, what is in the kiwi? In things called platypus who have tried duck-billery? This is a sea upon our minds. This is a sea on which to draw a red cake of platypus in the cherry tree, a little nest. Such fresh game there executed by those previewing its head. The littlement of human invaders halts. We always have tried out all sorts of explore and still have northern islands unhappily rare. We make telligence of scientificent storical asides, our plans out of boxes. Out of drawers and bread. Out of ordinary brown islands, skeletons insisting travel. Sunlight is an island leaving to tell. What will sailors manufacture of duty? A shady zoological garden, and a jetty. Costumes of wood belong to exploratifying. Instinctive making is present in our existinctive distribution. Islands cease us. We make islands. III. Of the Building of Cities We had escaped the zoo. Had for boys who see trees have the attractiveness of sea in them but the terrific sombre woods is made of admirable citizens performing visitor. That nice pattern is a tropical toy, craneous pouring out upon the reader on the left. It is the readerâ€™s right to note the plain. [ 74 ]
This is the bodyâ€™s administrative area. It is railway lines running inland their rude, American path across the plains, dolloping down towns half-innumerable. We like surface, those we could be flattening in a prostrated condition. Tell of this on horseback. Treading on Indians are ferocious, stray horsemen of tomorrow who ride on gray horses to engine, skilfully, these houses. Footnote: we begin the best men, march out, begin mining big boxes of similar fragile things out of a rocky wild. We thing up and up the mountain side â€” from slush to such snow. Entire malignant winter goes into desirable magnificent beings until spring when we descend upon the cake of the other very badly. Whose cake is our present destiny? Some day, savagery of artillery turned up against the probabilities of the cathedral, we will kill and eat god. We like small doors, cities that temporarily fit into towns. In a quiet corner, we make what will tell later this isnâ€™t a mountain: two photographs of the hill, white foam on stiff paper. The game goes without saying. We play totems, a coterie of wooden Indians. Our photographing ways stand up objecting Home of them; the warders in the magnificent home form letters; the ward of the name is as it were its Olympian; the bare name is a half-good Uncle. Salvation to judge by the railway [ 75 ]
is a flat roof in a state of intoxication. You know toy engines will create days. Are times an allegiance? Rails allegiance? Further into photographs, passengers may vote for passengers. Switches determine who wears epaulettes from their own station back to their own station, already arriving. How used to the coursing trainâ€™s considerable possessive common we are. Let it be a forest at least, this many billboards surveyed. What is a lady for example? Was I built in an extremely debased Gothic style, a little artificientleman? I do not get nothing! The railway bookshelves. Rails in the trees are sweet to me now as already-zoological gardens. IV. Funiculars, Marble Towers, Castles and War Games, but Very Little of War Games We want civilization, tamed additions, tigers in the wiselier forest. Even the garden dies. We send it back upon the silver, return the garden to country. There are always inside-out flower-gardens. They have been extremely described. If you have some private hour, dismantle outer things, pile things inside. We laid dialects, somebody hoots. There is a kind of lark we call Funiculus. We have beefeaters who have been cows, pigs riflemen, other permutations. Virtuous dogs who can do with two legs. Zoological emperors perforated by these boats upon the river. The Tower of Red End, wilted cavalry [ 76 ]
and moats â€” they are fine. The city do the infinitude of its dock on the bay, do note a lightest exemplary brown. Citizens continue to be found in big churches or cars. They want a sort of guinea pig-like table elephant or a cabbage with quiet scorn. Incompatibility is half the game. The cars will make a mark out of dwarf elephant on the occasion of his comparison with the line. Wander through the great nuggets of what we have built. The skilfully divided car points towards the clockwork mouses. Before the Plasticene, other days had a convenient artist who set malignant possessives round cities of imaginary commodities. Found out everything a pattern of aggression. Made luminous improvement in a thousand progresses short of happiness. Could get nothing of hillside and sea upon the silly sheet in imitation. We have done with that kind of savage and the cartridge part of the camera. I am going down on the Encyclopedia Britannica, on the advertisement-writer, the next gen artist. It is time I set out building game freedom, at least, pile articular cardboard turrets. It is injured, this time, and very badly. Guide-books return, stir up allegory in a thousand periods. Gardens return, despise those creatures in them. We are building a shop of water. Habits pour out upon silver people, to the trees, [ 77 ]
make the sea upon the homes and bridges knocked out. We must sail on our silly little nests of Plasticene at Lasticene. The best all live as if only just averted, archipelagos flowering animaterial. We often do not unlight on Fridays. Such a larger exception, I have never nearly exercised. May soon. Author’s Note: The poem takes its title from the third section of H.G. Wells’s eccentric quasi-children’s book Floor Games. The poem is, in short, a numerological cut-up of that text. Specifically, the main text of Floor Games (containing 30576 non-space characters) was processed through a probabilistic text resequencing algorithm in four different iterations, with each iteration’s textual output limited to 7644 characters (which is the average character count for each of the four sections in Floor Games), and again in sixteen different iterations, with output limited to 1911 characters (which is one-fourth of 7644 and, incidentally, the publication year of Floor Games). The output of all twenty iterations was edited down to a total character count of 7644 characters, with each of the four sections limited to 1911 characters.
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this friday afternoon Paul Waring
three young ladies in AMY’S HEN PARTY LIVERPOOL t-shirts and big curlers pull trolley cases towards a hotel in Castle Street that used to have only banks and offices now there are smells and sounds from the many cafés and restaurants and there is laughter from outdoor tables nearby on the top step of the old Bank of England someone is lying in a sleeping bag seagulls guffaw above one stands on a bin eats discarded chips the Atlantic wind still bites but being here for the first time in years so much seems new a group of Japanese tourists point at John Paul George and Ringo above Hard Day’s Night Hotel and a man in a pork-pie hat asks a passer-by to take a photo of him and his lady outside the Cavern Club I pass several homeless people on the floor outside shops begging with dogs curled up close on Church Street a young woman belts out an Adele song and a well-dressed man offers me a ‘what does the bible really teach us?’ leaflet a head-scarfed old lady plays the accordion there are several vans on the corner selling burgers hot dogs and street vendors shout over each other now there is not just wind but the whole city in my face
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Unknown Woman, 1945 Emma Venables
I walk like I’ve had too much vodka, I know. Perhaps I have. I have recollections, although somewhat vague, of liquid searing my broken skin, of liquid slipping between my closed lips, my clamped-shut eyelids; of liquid, definitely not vodka, dripping from between my legs. But you don’t want to know about that. You smile. I can see it despite the apparatus you hold against your face. You smile at the black and purple bouquets on my face and the chewed remnants of my lips. I would smile back, but that’d be facetious. Arrogant, even. For you are victory personified: a man with a camera, a clean uniform, a full belly, and I shouldn’t smile, shouldn’t try and make friends. I should keep my eyes on the bomb-cratered ground before me. You stand steady amongst the ruins. I stumble over the hem of the trousers I wear; the trousers I stole. Yes, I am a thief, but you don’t worry as long as they’re not stolen from the dead legs of a hero. They’re not a shade you recognize, and so I pass you by. Truth is, yes I can tell the truth, I stole them from the wardrobe, which stood intact amongst the rubble. They probably belonged to a father, a son, an uncle, who may or may not have still been lying, dead or alive, beneath the remains of the house I scrambled across to find these hallowed trousers in that hallowed wardrobe and slide them up my hollow legs. Yes, I am hollow. For what kind of woman but an empty one steals from her own countrymen? You may come closer if you like. You seem to be following me anyway. Do you want a closer look at my chest? Do you want to see if there’s a pinprick? It’s what you all look for: that tiny hole our souls seep through. The pinprick might as well be a bomb crater and you might as well be sat in it, prodding and examining like the doctor you perhaps wish you once had been, seeking a chemical imbalance or some other concrete proof that simple insanity sent millions of people leaping into his arms. I do not have to say his name. I won’t. I am guilty by birthright, by the tiny pinprick in the top I wear. This top is not even mine. But the pinprick was there on my own clothes, I do not need to tell you, piercing all the dresses and blouses in my wardrobe.
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I wish I could say it was a gift, but I poked the pin through my Sunday bests and my winter coats. I signed my name, got my number, gripped the badge when times got tough and twirled it when the sun shone. I stood proudly next to my husband, who did not just don a pinprick in his lapel, but an entire uniform. I waved him off from a station platform in 1940. Dust motes obscure his face now. But if I really scrunch my eyelids shut I can see the right corner of his mouth, still livid at the hot coffee he gulped down during breakfast. That was the last part of him I touched before he stepped onto the train and the steam took him away. You lose your balance on a broken brick, but right yourself like you’ve spent your entire life scrambling over bombsites. I put my hands to my face, concerned for your fall, but perhaps you think it’s because I want to cry, or perhaps you think I want to show off my war wounds, to show the world I am also in pain; to point out that I can barely see through my left eye and, yes, I’m afraid I might never be able to again. Perhaps you think I want you following me, but I don’t. I would like to be alone. I have not been alone, properly alone, since the start of the war. War knits people together in basements, in sadness, in fear, in fruitless queues, in darkness. And now you have woven yourself to me, your silence clicking and clacking in my already throbbing ears. I want to tell you to stop, that you can have one parting shot as I hobble away, but I don’t know your words and doubt you know mine. Nein. Danke. Bitte. Your camera almost kisses my cheek. If my husband were here now, he’d tell you to step back and let us have a shred of dignity. He’d speak in your tongue. You would no doubt drop your camera slightly, so that only my chest were in frame and we could see your eyes. I imagine your eyes to be brown, muddied by your grief. For we’re all grieving, aren’t we? Perhaps your sweetheart was buried beneath the rubble of a London townhouse, or the collapsed rainbow of an Anderson shelter. Perhaps she died writing you a letter, kissing your empty pyjamas goodnight, or while lighting the gas under another lonely supper. My husband’s death was not lonely. I know that much. His death was a collective shriek, a blending of vital organs and sinews, a sizzling together of fabrics. I like to imagine that he said my name before he was shrouded in earth: Kristina. Yes, if he were here he would say let us, let Kristina, keep an inkling of her dignity. You would drop your camera a fraction, so my chest was filling up the frame, and show us your brown eyes. You would tell us there is no dignity in war, or defeat. Indeed, as with all the men occupying our ruins, you do not care about the pride of a woman who loved a man: a man who happened to tap the bottom right-hand corner of the Führer’s portrait whenever he left the apartment. There, I said his name, if only in my own thoughts. You stare as if you can see the guilt seeping from me like blood through broken skin. I try to keep my eyes down, watching the street move beneath my feet: uprooted tramlines, cracked cobbles, shattered crockery.
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You walk ahead of me now, backwards with the arrogance of a man who cannot be scared. Are you not afraid of what lurks in these piles of rubble? Or the people tightrope walking across the few remaining floorboards above? Of the friends and neighbours piled together in basements? Can you even remember what fear feels like? I am still scared. Last night I fell asleep to the sound of a woman crying out for sons who must be long dead, and then when they did not manifest she began to scream one word over and over again. Vati. Vati. Vati. But the ghost of men long gone could not save her from the weight of the victor ploughing his way into her. She fell silent eventually, and I heard her rapist grunt to climax. In the stillness, I tried to recall the last time I cried out for my father. Was I ten, or fifteen? Or was I twenty-three and holding his cold hand? My father had been sat beside me, but he remembered a poem he wanted me to read. I begged him to recite it from heart, to leave it for later, but my father was a stubborn man. Too old for war, too obstinate to join the legions of men his age clearing up the bombed-out streets. Instead he read poetry and novels, and feigned a limp whenever the Blockwart appeared on our threshold. So my father walked away, conveniently remembering his limp as he went past the Blockwart. Then our street received a direct hit from one of your bombs. I heard the buildings roar as they broke apart. I felt the earth move as if it were a cradle, but it offered no comfort. Yes, that night, my father was foolish, and he did not return. I think I cried. I stood and moved towards the door. The Blockwart pushed his hand against my chest, pointed to the corner. Back. When I got out I found my father. He’d been blown into the street by the blast and impaled on the jagged remnants of a streetlamp. I turn the corner, and still you follow me. I don’t know where I’m going. You know that, don’t you? Every street in this city looks the same. Rubble. Churned-up roads. Shattered glass. Barefoot children. Mothers rummage in the bellies of dead horses, or run home with blood dripping down their forearms, their hands full of entrails. Success. Dogs piss. Rats run. Dust rests on anything and everything. Is your camera lens clear? I run a finger across my face, smearing the city into my pores, as if we weren’t intimate enough. I hear the click of your shutter button. Once. Twice. Three times. Am I ashamed? Despondent? Unapologetic? You will decide in a darkroom, in the safety of barracks, or a townhouse, sometime down the line. The street ends. I find myself at a crossroads. I probably knew this intersection, the streets surrounding it, off by heart in another life. Did I cross this road everyday on my way to the office? If so, there was an apartment building right there, and every morning in the summertime children used to hang from the third-floor balcony while their mother tried to scrub their hands and faces. Then one day the building was gone. No more children. No more mother armed with a flannel. Just piles of rubble, and a doll on the pavement with its limbs at sixes and
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sevens. I took the doll. We’ve already established that I’m a thief. I spent some time righting her limbs so she lay flat. A moment of logic in the chaos before I put her in my handbag, carried her to the office, typed up notes about bomb damage and lives lost, walked home as the air raid siren wailed, and took her straight down to the basement of my own apartment building where we sat for half the night. When dawn came I put her on the mantelpiece. I don’t know why. She’s buried under rubble somewhere now, like her original owner, like my father, like my husband, like the Führer. I look left to right, and then straight ahead. I think the ruins of my apartment are nearby, but then I’ve thought that for a while now. I’m not sure why I feel I should go back. No one waits for me there. No one has written their names in chalk for me. My mother? Dead, too. Resistance. You probably didn’t see that one coming did you, as you stare at this bloodied woman with the stolen clothes and the party badge buried in the earth by moonlight. 1943. Snow on the ground. My mother’s winter coat on the hook and her spot on the settee empty. We, my father and I, were questioned. Bright lights and angry footsteps. Did we write pamphlets too? Did we slot them into mailboxes at night while the respectable citizens cowered underground? The fact I’m still alive tells you all you need to know. Do I wish I had? Perhaps. I do wish I’d kissed her cheek before they took her away. I only see a bullet through the back of her neck when I think of her now. A kiss would have softened that somehow, I think. You’ve stepped away from me, but your mechanical eye still watches. You can’t catch guilt, but I do have lice and God knows what else. I sit down. The chipped kerb digs into my backside, and I acknowledge all my aches. There’s a damp patch on the back of my shirt that I hadn’t felt before. I run my fingers over it, and they come back crimson. Victors like to put out their cigarettes in the ashtrays of the Reich. I wipe my hands over the trousers. I put my elbows on my thighs and lean forward. I can hear the scuff of your boots against the ground. I experience an overwhelming thirst. I almost turn to you and mimic glugging down a glass of water, but decide against it. I will let you have this shot of an unknown woman, a loser, a citizen of a conquered country, with her head between her knees and a blood-stained shirt billowing softly in the breeze. When I do turn to you, you’re further away, framed by two gnarled tram carriages, with the camera still concealing your face. You rub one hand on your neck, as if swatting away a fly. I wonder if you can catch guilt, after all. Aren’t we all guilty? I’m guilty of keeping my eyes on the Führer while they dragged my mother away; of listening just long enough to hear her bare feet failing to grip the snow-streaked stairs; of closing the apartment door, turning the wireless up, and pouring my father a coffee; of peeling potatoes as if nothing had gone awry. Yes, I’m guilty of putting my head between my knees and examining only the rubble beneath my feet, and you, you’re guilty of watching from afar, and of turning
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away as you do now. I watch you walk, camera hanging by your side, boots kicking stones. I watch you until you slap the back of one of your friends. I massage the back of my neck, look in the opposite direction to you, and focus on a street across the way. A woman sits on a broken wall. She wipes a babyâ€™s face with the hem of her skirt. The infant cries. Was that woman my neighbour? Did that pile of rubble once belong to me?
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Tail Feathers Hilary Watson
Last summer, I saw a poodle pluck a pheasant gently out of flight. I know how to touch a woman just as softly â€“ tracing crop circles across her goosefleshed skin. But you are still unsure of me, though you unriddle the nouns on the tip of my tongue. Out of the cold, we avoid one another, instead searching for couples ambling about the streets below, guess which men will enter the strip club through the arch of white and lavender balloons.
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You point out the only window that still opens enough to jump. Now you’re wrapped in a cardigan, I remember why we kissed and why we don’t speak of it. You slap a tea-light off the window ledge when we think no one is passing. A street cleaner’s clatter cuts through shrieks of women gazelled by stilettos, rushing for cover from the rain.
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A Selection of Haiku from Michel Onfray’s Before Silence: a year’s haiku translated by Helen May Williams
The French original is printed with permission of the author and the publisher, Editions Galilée
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123 Invisible In the shower Tears. Sunday, 20th October, 1.05 p.m. Caen 124 Another time Another place Same pain. Tuesday, 22nd October, 3.30 p.m. Los Angeles 125 Big chunk of bread On it six pigeons Who gets it? A sparrow. Saturday, 26th October, 11.20 a.m. San Francisco, “Il Caffe,” Union Square 126 Yellow devils trumpet Bees hover murmur From city distant hum. Ibid. 1
The choice of English translations for ‘daturas jaunes’ in this haiku is overwhelming: ‘moonflowers,’ ‘Jimsonweed,’ ‘devil’s weed,’ ‘hell’s bells,’ ‘thorn-apple,’ or mistakenly ‘angel’s trumpet.’ 1
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123 Invisibles Sous la douche Les larmes. Dimanche 20 octobre, 13h 05 Caen 124 Autre temps Autre espace Même peine. Mardi 22 octobre, 15h 30 Los Angeles 125 Un gros morceau de pain Six pigeons dessus Un moineau l’emporte. Samedi 26 octobre, 11 h 20 San Francisco, « Il caffe », Union Square 126 Trompes des daturas jaunes Abeilles en suspension Rumeurs lointaines de la ville. Idem
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127 All Saints Day As many tears As rain-drops on the tomb. Friday, 1st November, 6.30 p.m. Caen 128 Chestnuts roasting on the hearth The last time The night my father died. Saturday, 23rd November, 11.30 p.m. Chambois 129 Cleaved through concrete Like parsley through rock Sheer will-power. Tuesday, 3rd December, 7.50 p.m. In a street in Caen 11 130 Winter solstice lights Little candle-flames Longest night looms. Thursday, 5th December, 5.30 p.m. In the streets of Brussels 111
For this haiku to make sense, it helps to know that the original etymology for ‘parsley’ (French ‘persil’) derives from the Greek words meaning ‘rock celery.’ 11
In the Western Christian tradition, a day towards the end of the Advent season marks the longest night of the year. On this day, some churches hold a church service that honours people that have lost loved ones during that year. In Brussels, a Christmas Sound and Light Show takes place annually during Advent. This haiku could also reference the French tradition of burning a Yule-log and keeping its ashes under the bed to protect the house against thunder and lightning. 111
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127 Jour de Toussaint Autant de larmes Que de pluie sur la tombe. Vendredi 1” novembre, 18h30 Caen 128 Châtaignes grillées dans la cheminée La dernière fois Le soir de la mort de mon père Samedi 23 novembre, 23h30 Chambois 129 Sorti du béton Comme un persil Volonté de puissance. Mardi 3 décembre, 19 h 50 Dans une rue de Caen 130 Lumières de Noël Petits feux des solstices Nuits les plus longues. Jeudi 5 décembre, 17 h 30 Dans les rues de Bruxelles
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LANA BELLA is a three-time Pushcart Prize & Bettering American Poetry nominee, an author of three chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016), Adagio (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming), and Dear Suki: Letters (Platypus 2412 Mini Chapbook Series, 2016), has had poetry and fiction featured with over 380 journals, 2River, Acentos Review, Comstock Review, Expound, Grey Sparrow Journal, Ilanot Review, Notre Dame Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, San Pedro River Review, and Waccamaw, among others. ANNE MARIE BUTLER was born and educated in Cardiff. She is self employed and lives in a rural village in Ceredigion West Wales. Her written work has appeared in various webzines and anthologies. She was published in the Forward Book of Poetry Summer of Sport Anthology in 2012 and is currently working on her debut poetry collection. In June 2017, Annie was invited by Three Throated Press to participate in a pamphlet project. CHARLES BYRD was born in 1916 in Pontypridd, Wales, and has lived and worked in Cardiff most of his life. He held a variety of jobs from photographer to aircraft fitter and in 1948 started attending evening classes at Cardiff School of Art, becoming a full-time artist in 1950. Two television documentaries have been made about his sculptures and kinetic art, which were on display at the Old Library in Cardiff from 1989 to 1996 with the title Museum of Magical Machines. In 2008 his work was featured as the National Eisteddfod of Wales Visual Arts Exhibition. MARIA CHIAPPETTA is a writer living in Chicago. Her work can be found in the pages of several unlined notebooks. She posts works, subject to change, to a password protected conceptual blog called Blood Meal. mariachiappetta.tumblr.
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com. The password at the moment is woofer2, and changes when she is feeling less-than. ABIGAIL KIRBY CONKLIN‘s poetry has been featured by Indolent Books’ online series What Rough Beast, the blog Bonus Cut, and the writers’ community The Bridge. She lives in New York City, where she works in education and curriculum development. DEE DRAPER was born in Springfield, Illinois where he spent his formative years and wrote his early pieces. He has written many plays – always under pseudonyms – he has said: self promotion has always made me feel sick. He now lives with his six dogs in Eureka, California. This is his first publication in the UK. RHIAN ELIZABETH was born in 1988 in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales, and now lives in Cardiff. Her novel, Six Pounds Eight Ounces (Seren, 2014), was shortlisted for The International Rubery Book Award. She has previously been a winner of The Terry Hetherington Young Writers Award and her poetry was shortlisted for The Bangor Poetry Prize (Northern Ireland). Her debut poetry collection will be published by Parthian in Spring 2018. She is a Hay Festival Writer at Work. JOHN EVANS-PRITCHARD is an author of a number of academic books in Economics and Business Studies. He has one published novel, The Pursuit of the Chaemira and has had short stories published in various magazine such as The Oxford Review. He is currently working on a trilogy of crime/mystery novels. SHAUNA GILLIGAN lives in Kildare, Ireland with her family and a black and white cat called Lucky. She writes short and long stories and is interested in the depiction of historical events in fiction, and creative processes. She holds a PhD in Writing from the University of South Wales. She is currently writing about 1940s northern Spain. www.shaunaswriting.com FRANCES HAY is an American writer living in Cardiff whose stories have appeared in Persimmon Tree, damselfly press, Cafe Aphra and in Secondary Characters and Other Stories, Opening Chapter Press. Her first novel The Night Fogs will be published by Holland House Books in 2018. SUSAN IOANNOU is a Canadian writer who has published stories, literary essays, novels for young people, and several poetry collections. Her most recent
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books of poems are Looking Through Stone: Poems about the Earth (Your Scrivener Press) and Looking for Light (Hidden Brook Press). Her full Literary CV is online at www3.sympatico.ca/susanio/sioancv.html. R.G. JODAH lives in London enjoying metropolitan anonymity. MATTHEW KOK lives and works on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, or Vancouver, BC. He sits on the editorial boards for both poetry and prose at PRISM International. He has work available in The Scrivener Creative Review, and an interview he held with Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib is available on nineteenquestions.com. He would love it if you emailed him, at mattkok95@gmail. com. KATHY MILES is a poet and short story writer living in West Wales. Her third collection of poetry, Gardening With Deer, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2016. Her work has appeared in many anthologies and magazines, and she has been placed in several major competitions, winning the Welsh Poetry Competition in 2014, the Bridport Poetry Prize in 2015, and the PENfro Poetry Competition in 2016. She recently obtained an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and is currently working on a fourth poetry collection. LEE NASH lives in France and freelances as an editor and proofreader. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the UK, the US and France including Ambit, Angle, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Mezzo Cammin, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Presence, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Interpreter’s House, The Lake and The World Haiku Review. You can find a selection of Lee’s poems on her website: leenashpoetry.com MICHEL ONFRAY is a French philosopher who deconstructs religious, philosophical, social and political myths that generate illusions. Author of around fifty books, translated in thirty countries, he founded the free Popular University of Caen in 2002. He recently launched his independent, online TV channel: http:// michelonfray.com/. JARED PEARCE’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Panoplyzine, Pilcrow & Dagger, DIAGRAM, Marathon, Poetic Diversity, Peacock, and Pirene’s Fountain. He lives in Iowa.
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GARY RAYMOND is a novelist, critic, poet, and editor of Wales Arts Review. His second novel, The Golden Orphans, is to be published by Parthian Books in the Spring of 2018. His first, For Those Who Come After, was published in 2015. Raymond is a regular commentator on Welsh arts and culture for BBC Wales television and radio, and has written on a diverse range of subjects for a wide selection of publications. He is also co-presenter of the Random Album Radio Show for EnergiZe Radio and hosts the Wales Arts Review OffScript podcast series. CELINA SILVA is a fifth year Poetry and English Double Major at the University of Victoria. She has a Liberal Arts Diploma in Peace Studies from Selkirk College, and is originally from Nelson BC. She is the current Poetry Board Intern at The Malahat Review. GAIL TYSON publishes poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. A two-time alumna of the Dylan Thomas Summer School, she fine-tuned Jiveshake at the 2017 session. Recent and upcoming work appears in Adanna, Appalachian Heritage, Art Ascent, Big Muddy, Cloudbank, EcoTheo Review, Presence, San Pedro River Review, Still Point Arts Quarterly, The Citron Review, and the anthology, Unbroken Circle: Stories of Diversity in the South. EMMA VENABLES recently completed her PhD in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is currently seeking representation for her first novel, which explores the experiences of German women in Nazi Germany. Her work has previously featured in The Gull and Litro Online. ANDY VERBOOM is from subrural Nova Scotia and currently lives in London, Ontario, where he organizes Couplets, a collaborative poetry reading series. His poetry has won Frog Hollow Press’s Chapbook Contest and Descant’s Winston Collins Prize for Best Canadian Poem; has been shortlisted for Arc Poetry Magazine’s Poem of the Year; and has appeared in numerous Canadian journals. His poetry chapbooks are Tower, Full Mondegreens, and Orthric Sonnets. PAUL WARING is a retired clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in several Liverpool bands. His published poems can be found in/on various journals and sites such as Reach Poetry, Eunoia Review, The Open Mouse, Clear Poetry, Wildflower Muse, Foxglove Journal and, soon, on Amaryllis. His blog is https://waringwords.wordpress.com.
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HILARY WATSON is a young poet living in Cardiff, where she frequently reads and workshops poetry with fellow poets from across South East Wales. She was a Jerwood/Arvon poetry mentee 2015/16 under the guidance of Caroline Bird and has been working on her first collection of poetry. She also studied English and Creative Writing BA and Writing MA at the University of Warwick, under the guidance of poet David Morley. HELEN MAY WILLIAMS is an Associate Fellow at the University of Warwick and has written extensively on 20 -century poetry and American literature. She runs the Poetry Societyâ€™s Carmarthen-based Stanza group. Her poetry book, The Princess of Vix, is published by Three Drops Press. th
JENI WILLIAMS is Senior Lecturer in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David. As a cultural critic she responds to issues of marginality, employing postcolonial, psychoanalytic and gendered critiques to literature and fine art. She has been published widely in journals and last year was shortlisted for the Live Canon International Poetry Prize and longlisted for the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellorâ€™s International Poetry Prize. She has also published a range of articles on art, theatre and literature and was contributing editor of Sideways Glances: Five Off-Centre Artists in Wales (Parthian 2005). Her first collection of poetry, Being the Famous Ones, appeared in 2009 with Parthian Books. She is currently completing her second collection, Without.
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The Lampeter Review has developed out of the Creative Writing Centre based at Lampeter, Trinity St David, University of Wales.
Published on Dec 6, 2017
The Lampeter Review has developed out of the Creative Writing Centre based at Lampeter, Trinity St David, University of Wales.