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the online magazine of the Lampeter Creative Writing Centre

issue 2/ january 2011

SAMUEL BRENTON • GEMMA JONES • TORBEN BETTS • Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch • ALAN PERRY • DANIEL KING • GARY GEDDES • ALISON GREIG • AVRIl JACQUES • JAMES LUCHTE • SUE MOULES • MAX DUNBAR • AL VEREY • CHRIS BENDON • MAGGI WILLIAMS • JUDITH ARNOPP • JENI WILLIAMS • CHARLOTTE SYMONS • CHRIS CORNWELL


THE LAMPETER REVIEW

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


Table of Contents 5

Introduction

7

To Michael - SAMUEL BRENTON

15

Sarah - GEMMA JONES

23

Broken - TORBEN BETTS

39

Back to Back - Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch

41

Photo at Llansteffan, April ‘08 (for Jean and Aida) - ALAN PERRY

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Dying to be with you - DANIEL KING

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Sandra Lee Scheuer - GARY GEDDES

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Enchanted Wales in Feathers - ALISON GREIG

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The Rope - AVRIL JACQUES

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Damascus - JAMES LUCHTE

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In the green seascape - sue moules

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Oh my days - MAX DUNBAR


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The new rustic - AL VEREY

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Summer Lightening - CHRIS BENDON

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The day Democracy died - MAGGI WILLIAMS

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“No other than will his” - JUDITH ARNOPP

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A sketch of empty air - JENI WILLIAMS

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White Rabbit - charlotte symons

99

Your Skin - chris corNwEll

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THE LAMPETER REVIEW - Issue 2 - January 2011


Introduction Gillian Eaton

Following the success of the inaugural issue of the Lampeter Review, we are proud to present our special second issue. Inside, you will find new and fascinating work by published and unpublished authors. Exclusive pieces from Gemma Jones, Samuel Brenton, Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, Gary Geddes and Torben Betts grace these pages. Scattered through this issue you will also find images of street signs made by artists playing with words on American streets. These undercover artists, known as TrustoCorp, make timely and sarcastic street signs poking fun at pretension and greed. Their signs have sprung up where and when a little common sense is needed and have been seen in front of CITI BANK’S New York sky scraper, at Ground Zero in Manhattan, in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Detroit and Miami…and they’re spreading fast. The American cultural critic and theorist Neil Postman has long warned us that “We have no way of protecting ourselves from information disseminated by corporate America….battles for liberty must be fought on different terrains.” Please enjoy the work in these cyber pages, and take a browse through the images too. Thanks to all the contributors for committing your work to us and for helping build the web presence of The Lampeter Review. And thank you for choosing to read and write and be alert to the world.

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To Michael Samuel Brenton

A man cannot live on wheat alone, He needs a little sweetness, some raisins in the mix. That is how Michael explained why he hadn’t been in touch. He’d been seeking the company of women, and hoped I understood, his eyes wet and yellow and thick with green coagulate. These are the effects of sleep, weeping, neglect and poverty And sodium valproate, in a nest of streets beneath The hill that runs down from Thornton Heath To Crystal Palace Football Club. The corner shop is plated With grills, and still its windows are cracked or smashed And you are unwelcome there, while I buy you eggs and milk. Outside you rub your thumb against your fingertips For flavour of expression: a little sweetness…

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And I imagine the raisins in your wheat: memories of your mother, Who you never speak of but whose aphorisms Of propriety and domestic wisdom you report from When you are between lands, sitting suddenly prim And magically feminine: “Speak the truth and speak it ever, Cost it what it will / For he who hides the wrong he did Does the wrong ‘ting still”; echoes of your squabbling, Stricken sisters who I suspect are gone or dead Though you talk about them in the present (letters About a will, a bad boyfriend, police and hospital); The kindness of a woman from the church who let you Clean her windows for bits of money and peace of mind, Cups of tea and admonishments: Michael Gladstone, Don’t you dare let yourself down like that. You wanted me to say the same thing if you started To let yourself down with me, and you did an impression Of her voice. She sounded like a nice lady. I asked you: Is there a church nearby that you can go to? Yes, there’s one around the corner. Do you go there ever? I used to, but I’m barred and we howled and rocked with laughter, in your flat, among your jumble of foraged trinkets:

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An old sink, folds of embroidered fabric, wooden Ducks, an empty fish tank, other peoples’ Christmas cards, Dozens of hats and baseball caps from the ‘swop shop’, Bucolic prints on old ceramic, a bedstead, spilled bundles of cutlery, A box of badges, a boat manual, tin and shiny things, things with beads, Bits of things with graphics and logos from the flotsam Of recently forgotten culture, blank and comic like a private riposte. And the molding jars, urine-soaked socks in wastepaper baskets, Ash, butt, roach and stain, the torn bills, unread appointment forms, And other cosmetic indicators of struggle, and the true Sign of labour at this address in the unfinished packets of pills, The thrice daily task to be your own keeper and protector. And slips from your social worker that you’d hear clunk and flutter To the mat as you sat choosing or having chosen for the day Whether to dampen and sedate or to navigate and drift away (‘We called but You…’, blame being the heart of cowardice). We’d sit on the sofa, open the windows and turn down the radio, And talk for an hour or two, before I went off to the football. I want you to have this hat, It will suit you down to the ground. The cat was scared of it so I kept it in the shed. Should I move to Guildford? How do you think are the people there? How do you stay out of trouble?

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You have to keep away from the things that will harm you and the people who will hurt you. Sam, This house welcomes you, God’s light will shine on you – I’ve done terrible things and have no one to speak to – I went there but they didn’t let me in – We will have a feast: chicken and rice and real cigarettes – These pictures are my pride and joy but I have to keep them locked away because They come from a country that no longer exists, Of homily, state labour and maritime migration Into which your parents stepped and whose era Grows more innocent the further it recedes, Its beatings, bilious attacks and cultural segregation Forgotten in flashes of long days out, street parties, Familial humour and bright Sunday silk and cotton, And a time when attention was undivided and because now they shriek and castigate, carrying the scorn of marauding time and the sadness of your story from before you were born. Michael Gladstone, stop waving at people. Michael Gladstone, don’t sing in the street. Michael Gladstone, put your clothes on to answer the door. Michael Gladstone, take your medication. Michael Gladstone, do not smoke drugs in front of me. 10

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Michael Gladstone, I will not give you any money. Michael Gladstone, you are a large man and my wife is scared of you. Michael Gladstone, do not visit my house. Tormented by old women who shout at you in the night and say they know you are gay and a child abuser and who are not real, Michael, by your itinerant search of the FM airwaves to find a station with people who do not tell you what to do, by the pictures on the wall and on the plates you scavenge for that transmit lists of everything that you have done wrong, and by the ghost of your father drinking rum in his chair until I swear he became it, that chair. Through tears you look at me, beset upon and as young as a child can be and say I suffer, I Suffer.

*

I bumped into you on a local high street, One of those surprises that turns events 11

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Into a story that you feel is given. Big coat and big bag, clear skin, eyes Amused and literate, only a shimmer Of the other side. We were two gentlemen With shopping, pleased to see each other One afternoon on a day of leisure. I told you my news, and you cried. It was all right. You gave me a purse With rainbow beads, which we still have, And a Mutant Ninja Turtles badge Which I pinned to my new overcoat, We embraced and ambled off, you down Into the wilds of Croydon, and I Up the hill to the railway station. In my home, a few months earlier: I will not indulge you in your attempt To assuage your liberal conscience. I threw my wedding ring on the floor at that, and soon took it off for good, moved away from South London, its intemperance and proud miserablism, and when I moved I left you, possibly alone. There grows conscience, between postcodes and in the dead line of a discarded mobile phone: speak the truth to make it better / Phone is down so write a letter. 12

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That wasn’t the last time I saw you Though memory tries to make it so. There was an interregnum between localities When I came with Natasha who talked well with you (and said: he has schizophrenia). Finally, there was a Czech girl staying with you With an impenetrable story of bitterness and paperwork And no doubt illness, too. I thought That she spoke over you, and did not think That this was the sweetness you were hoping for, And did not find you well. I wanted to transmit A question without speech, a message or an aphorism, But lacked the means and the wit, Fixed, in my sanity, within a certain kind of prism. We used to howl and rock with laughter. Michael Gladstone, I will miss you is what I meant to say. I hope that someone is looking after you, and that you are safe In the arms of the coalition government.

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Sarah Gemma Jones

The cottage lay like a beached whale, a dark shape in the black night, nestled against the hillside. Only a pinprick of light could be seen from an upstairs window. There was no noise except for the breeze in the reeds and the occasional squeak from the garden gate as it swung intermittently on its one remaining hinge. In the spartan upstairs room the girl sat hunched at the table with a faded shawl draped around her shoulders. The glow from the lamp spread thinly across the page of the exercise book. The wick was turned down low and a draft from the small, leaded pane window moved the flame and flickered the shadow of her writing hand. My name is Sarah Sarah Hanes I live at the cottage Sarah is my name and I live at the cottage

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She wrote slowly, laboriously, in a spindly script; her pen scratching on the thin paper. The table was set against the window; the table that usually held the jug and cruet for washing. The lamp was now set on the table; a brass base with a flowered enamel bowl below the thin glass funnel that illuminated a pot of dark ink and the ruled school exercise book. There were no curtains at the window, which was set in a deep stone shelf revealing the depths of the walls and the thickness of the glass. It was dark outside. No moon; no stars to lighten the sky. No clouds could be seen, just a blackness as black as the ink with which she wrote: My name is Sarah I am fourteen years of age Sarah was now the eldest in a family of six children. She had had an elder brother but he had died. Her younger brother was at the grammar school and lodged with a family in town. The two little ones were at home and the baby was fostered in the next village. Her father had been killed in a drunken accident before the baby was born. Indeed, the time of his death did not suit the arrival of the child and had only served to fuel the gossip that was already abounding as to the morals of her mother and the ‘goings on’ at the cottage. Her mother was weak, weak willed and sickly. She spent a lot of time lying on her bed and if anybody bothered to ask she was usually ‘under the weather’ or ‘poorly’. She managed to find a lift to town most weeks for market and often was not returned until the following day, when she would come back smelling of drink and unknown squalor, empty handed and sore headed. 16

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Sarah mothered the little ones. She held them at night when they were frightened and fed them with what she could. She looked after the chickens and drew the water and washed the clothes and laid the fire. She darned and sewed and scrubbed and cleaned, was up with the bird song and to bed at nightfall. She did not go to school. Only William, her brother, the clever one, went to school. The preacher had taught him and told the Squire and now he went to the Grammar and they only saw him in the summer holidays when he came back for haymaking. But she did go to chapel and she went with the little ones to Sunday school. At Sunday school they taught her to write; and one night, in the spring of her fifteenth year, she sat at the table in the lamplight burning the precious oil. The little ones lay asleep, sniffling and fitfully breathing in the bed beside her, and she held her shawl closely round her thin shoulders and wrote: My name is Sarah I am fourteen years old As the weather got warmer and the days longer, the children would gather by the millpond and play. They would play together; engrossing, concentrated, secretive games of intrigue and whispering and dare and laughter Sometimes Sarah would take the little ones and sit by the fallen tree and watch. She never joined in and was never asked to. ‘Dirty’, they were and ‘no good’ and ‘not for the likes of us’. But she would sit and watch and ignore the jibes and smile at who knows what; observe the little ones playing in the dirt and pick the primroses on the way home. She wasn’t a pretty child. In fact, she didn’t look like a child. She looked old before her time. Her skin was sallow and her hair lank. In winter, her nose ran and her hands chapped and she got chilblains on her feet. The spring and summer never seemed long and warm enough to thaw the sadness in her. But she smiled her secretive smile and she had very green eyes and they watched and they saw.

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In the spring of her fifteenth year she fell in love. She saw a boy who moved her. He was a big lad from the farm who was rough and uncouth, ‘the leader of the gang’. He would stand in a group by the pond and swagger and taunt and throw stones at the geese to make them angry. One day he ran behind them so that they rushed towards where she sat on the tree with their wings spread and their necks stretched shrieking towards her and she loved him. One early morning, just as the grey light was coming across the fields and the mist was moving in furls close to the wet ground, she got out of bed and went to the table. Gently lifting the jug onto the floors as not to waken the little ones, she slipped the exercise book from under the mattress, opened the pot of ink and, dipping the pen nib into the murky fluid, she wrote: Johnny Barnes Johnny Barnes I love Johnny Barnes.

And there was a smile on her face for the entire world as if he loved her too. In the summer there was more food. There was fruit to be picked and berries and roots and the chickens laid. There was extra work on the farm helping with the teas for shearing and the little ones stopped coughing and got roses in their cheeks. Her mother was gone for days on end and William came home for the harvest. He slept at home but that was about it. He was out and about from dawn to dusk and he was grown strong and rugged; he bragged and told her of books and things. She cleaned the house for him and polished his boots and washed his shirts and filled the tub for his bath and she was full of pride of him. He gave her scant attention. 18

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But her heart was set on Johnny Barnes. Her breasts filled out and her waist thickened and her lips were moist and pink and her eyes shone. She took the luncheon baskets out to the fields at haymaking and she carried the pitchers back and forth to the farm. She watched her love with his shirt tied round his waist and his cap on back to front, the sweat trickling down between his shoulder blades. At night, in bed, she put her hand between her thighs and held it there, just held it warm and moist between her thighs and she loved him. William went back to school and left a void in their home. Her Mother took to her bed and her pain and her moaning and the wind began to grow chill at night. There wasn’t enough wood for the fire but Sarah was warmed from within. She smiled in chapel. ‘She’s put on weight,’ they said. Babies, Babies, Babies She wrote in her exercise book and slid it under the mattress where only she knew where it was. It was approaching her fifteenth birthday and winter was coming on. She went up to the farm to clean the churns in return for milk for the little ones. She would leave the house at crack of dawn and be back before they woke. Sometimes Johnny Barnes came into the shed with the cows and once he spat towards her; a great glob of glistening spittle fell between her and the milking stools and still she loved him. ‘They do say she be having a baby’, they said. Indeed she did seem to be getting bigger but then she wore more layers against the cold and she was becoming a woman now. Her hips were spreading out.

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Then, one frosty morning, a policeman came to the door. Her mother had been found in an alley behind the public house. It was the cold that had got her as much as the drink and she was dead as a doornail. The funeral was a damp and bleak affair. There were few people there; a couple of elderly people from the village who had known her mother in happier times and a cousin from the other side of town who Sarah had never met. They stood by the grave in the rain and the little ones clung to Sarah’s skirts and wept; less from the loss of their Mother than the general gloom of the occasion. Sarah didn’t cry. She stood with her hands on her rounded belly and tried, in vain, to think of God. The vicar’s wife visited with a pie and cheese and some quince jelly in a cloth covered basket. She didn’t stay long. On her return to the vicarage she said to her husband ‘I’m sure that girl is with child’. But that was it. Nobody did anything about it and in December the temperature dropped and it snowed. Heavy flakes blew against the window as she dressed and against her eyelids as she walked to the farm. By morning a thin white carpet lay across the fields and she walked back home leaving a neat print of her boot mark behind her. That night there was a moon and the snow stopped falling. She looked out of the window at the still, cold moonscape and at bedtime she tiptoed down the stairs and out into a white world, lifting the latch slowly and quietly behind her. There was no breeze and no noise except for the crisp crunch of her footfall in the snow. The track from the cottage led down to the main street and on to the other end of the village. The snow had covered the road and the fields and the gaps between the houses so that they were all as one. She felt as if she was walking on a lake. A very faint glow shone from the window of the chapel house and the moon cast the shadow of the cypress trees like giant tombstones in her path. 20

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She walked on to the farm, through the open gate and into the yard to the great barn beyond. Even the dogs slept. She slid herself through the gap in the barn door and found herself in a dark void, the light only dimly cutting through the chinks in the slatted walls. The winter food was piled high and the upended plough oiled and ready. In one corner of the barn a niche had been cut out in the hay. As she leant back against it she could smell the deep pungent smell of it and see her warm breath escaping in little pants of anticipation. She knew that the time had come and she put her hands on her rounded belly underneath her cloak and waited. Johnny Barnes, Johnny Barnes, My heart is with Johnny Barnes. She knew he wouldn’t come but she waited. Her time was nigh and he must come now or never; but he wouldn’t come. And she smiled. She dropped her cape to the floor and she unravelled her shawl. She drew her pinafore over her head and her woollen vest. She dropped first one petticoat and then another to her feet and stood in her camisole and knickerbockers and wool stockings. Her stomach was round and her breasts were full. As she began to unwind the cummerbund of serge from around her waist she smiled to herself. Her eyes filled with tears and she unwound layer upon layer of warm blanketing fabric fro around her waist until she stood with her stomach flat as a girls, her hips narrow as a virgin and her small, tight breasts with nipples erect and cold in the dark. She knew he wouldn’t come. She clawed a hole in the sodden earth and left her cloth behind her and walked back through the chill night air with the tears falling silently down her cheeks and let herself back into the sleeping cottage. She slid into the bed beside the little ones and she wasn’t smiling. She turned on her side, drew her knees up to her chest and enfolded herself in 21

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her thin arms. As she did so her hand brushed her breast and a tiny drop of thin, clear, arid liquid escaped from her nipple to leave a milky stain on her nightshirt.

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Broken

- the first scene of a play by Torben Betts

Scene 1 Canned laughter everywhere. It dies slowly away. GRETA and ADAM. He looks away and clutches something in his hand. GRETA: I just want the truth: did you or did you not punch my grandmother in the face? He does not reply. I’m asking you a question. He does not reply. She is lying in the next room, slumped against the door, holding her bleeding nose. She says you punched her. She is almost eighty years old, Adam! She says you also kicked her walking stick from under her. Don’t you know it’s Christmas Eve? The season of good will to all men? I can’t believe it. You, who have never harmed a soul in your life. And what have you got in your hand? ADAM: Men are murdering each other and laughing, laughing. Men are murdering each other and laughing. GRETA: Did you punch my granny? 23

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ADAM: It’s not true to say I have never harmed a soul. During the war I was a sniper. GRETA: I know but… ADAM: I put bullets through the brains of many young men. GRETA: This is not about the war. It’s about my grandmother. ADAM: I would say I personally killed over a hundred. GRETA: Adam… ADAM: Am I not then a mass murderer? GRETA: You are not a murderer, Adam. You are a national hero. ADAM: I walk down the streets anonymous, unnoticed. GRETA: It’s just a horrible war and… ADAM: Five million people murdered. Thousands of our own young ‘fallen’, as the Government terms it. GRETA: Can we please talk about my granny’s bleeding nose? ADAM: All those people don’t just murder themselves, do they? GRETA: No, and eighty-year-old women don’t just punch themselves in the face either. ADAM: I was a gentle boy, my mother always told me. Kindly. Docile. I liked being small. I liked playing with my toys. Not with wooden soldiers like my friends but with building blocks. I preferred to create things. While they fought with sticks or lobbed stones at each other as if they were hand grenades I would learn the names of the flowers. Yes, I liked animals, wildlife. Bird watching. But I’m the one who killed all those men. Those boys, should I say. Boys like me. They all had names. They all had mothers, fathers, sweethearts at home. I killed them all and no-one else did. What made me do it though?

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GRETA: Sometimes a man must… ADAM: I merely followed orders from my commanding officer. But who was he obeying? Who gave the orders to him who gave me the orders? GRETA: Oh, Adam, if our marriage is to survive… ADAM: And whose voice was it that was whispering into the ear of our Commander-in- Chief? GRETA: If our marriage is to survive… ADAM: Was it perhaps the voice of God? GRETA: … we must try and be honest with each other. I know you have suffered. I understand the pain you are in but we have to do all we can to rebuild our lives. To just be…ordinary once again. ADAM: How can we ever be ordinary again? GRETA: I love you, Adam. And with God’s help…

He walks away from her.

It so breaks my heart that you have lost your faith.

ADAM: God sat back and just…watched it all unfold. GRETA: He watches, yes. But he also weeps. He gave us free will and now he despairs at how we use it to… ADAM: Much like a woman who buys a canary, imprisons it in a cage and then tortures it because it doesn’t sing sweetly enough for her. GRETA: What do you mean? ADAM: And yet you were so proud of me going. I had my doubts remember but you gave me the courage. 25

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GRETA: I did but… ADAM: You waved your flag in that September rain. GRETA: I admit that I did. ADAM: You all sang your Christian anthems. GRETA: I know, I know… ADAM: So you must also accept that my incapacity is simply a result of… GRETA: How many times? I do accept your…incapacity. I love you. You know well how many of my friends are now widows, whose children are now fatherless. ADAM: Oh, this life… GRETA: So I know that we are the fortunate ones. ADAM: Greta, you are shivering. GRETA: It is so cold. ADAM: We need more coal. GRETA: I need a fur coat. ADAM: This winter is making you ill. GRETA: What is that in your hand, Adam?

ADAM reveals a dead canary.

Is that not my grandmother’s…?

ADAM: I was lying on my bed, trying to sleep the afternoon away. I heard these sounds from the next room. Sounds like I’ve never heard before. I’ve heard men screaming with 26

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their legs and arms gone, their severed limbs hanging above them from the branches of trees or on the wire, or with their guts spooling out of their stomachs like coils of bloody rope. I’ve heard men moaning, as they slowly die in the mud, whimpering for their mothers. I’ve heard shells and gunfire and explosions like you couldn’t imagine. But the sound of this one little bird’s pain and terror. Oh, it was hideous. Its innocence violated in such a way. The old hag was standing there, stooped over the open cage, a knitting needle skewering the bird’s tiny eyeball, bright red blood dripping down its beak, onto its soft yellow feathers, down her withered old hand and onto the carpet. She said the bird’s song was losing its sweetness. She said she no longer had any pleasure in life apart from listening to it singing. Someone told her that blind birds sing more beautifully than sighted ones. I was incensed. I felt like killing her. Not just knocking her to the ground. No, I wanted to rip her ugly old head from her shoulders. Look at it, Greta. This is something that has truly never caused any harm. And I watched it die slowly in the palm of my hand. And the look… the look in its bleeding, dying eyes as its breathing slowed and eventually ceased. A look of fear, of bewilderment and of anger even. The injustice of it. There was such accusation in the look of that bird…in the look of that bird as it died in my palm.

He stares sadly at it..

Poor little creature, poor little thing… GRETA: I need to go and see my nan. ADAM: I can’t live under the same roof any longer. GRETA: We have no choice. ADAM: We need a place of our own. GRETA: But until we can afford it… ADAM: How do we live on the pension they give me? GRETA: I will ask for more hours. ADAM: And I will go back to the factory.

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GRETA: Baby, you are not ready. You are suffering still. ADAM: You are a beautiful, young woman. You are in the prime of your life. You should be flourishing. Living, loving. Starting a family. GRETA: One day… ADAM: Not mopping the floor in a public urinal for ten hours a day. GRETA: One day we… ADAM: What do you mean ‘one day’? We will never have children now. I will never be a father. GRETA: We can adopt. There are plenty of orphans now both here and abroad… ADAM: But to have our own child, our own flesh and blood… GRETA: It is yes a cause of great sadness but, Adam, at least we are alive. At least we are both breathing this god-given air. At least we have each other. ADAM: But before…before this war… you and I… Oh, those daylong bouts in the bedroom. GRETA: Don’t… ADAM: You don’t remember? GRETA: Of course but… ADAM: I am embarrassing you? GRETA: Not at all but… ADAM: You don’t know how I cling to the memory of those times… GRETA: My baby…

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ADAM: How can a man and a woman… without ever…? GRETA: We can. We will. I promise you that. ADAM: I look at you now and I know you are so beautiful, Greta, I could cry. Cry at beholding such a work of art. Nothing in nature is finer than a beautiful young woman like you. But now I just don’t feel that same desire. I used to want to do it with you every time you walked into the room. The smell of you, the sound of your voice, the way your body moved when you walked, your hips swaying, your perfect thighs, your remarkable arse… GRETA: Adam! ADAM: I was hungry. Like an animal. We’d both stagger back from the tedium of the working day and tear off each other’s clothes, almost before we’d got inside the flat. The thought of bed with you was what got me through the hideous hours at the factory. But now, now all I want to do is bury my face in your chest and sob like a child. Have you comfort me, Greta. Have you mother me. And what kind of man is that? What kind of man have I become?

He despairs. She comforts him.

PAUL enters, covered in snow, wine bottle in hand, drunk.. PAUL: Fucking carol singers. Everywhere fucking carol singers. I hate fucking carol singers and I hate fucking carols. All that stale repetition. All that unthinking comfort-giving, all that banal optimism. Fuck that, what we need is a revolution. We need a fundamental change to the way society is structured, not fucking sing-songs. GRETA: If you’re going to curse like that, then you’re not welcome here. PAUL: And the fuckers can never actually sing, can they? It’s all so tentative and out of tune. They actually go to the effort to huddle there in their corners, learning their lines and no doubt fucking rehearsing it all for weeks on end and then, at the end of the day, the fuckers, they can’t even sing. ADAM: Paul! PAUL: I’d ban it. To be honest. Christmas. Drop of this anyone? I’d ban it like some 29

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seventeenth-century puritan. GRETA: You’re not serious. PAUL: Every year they scuttle out of their churches, don’t they, and they shuffle together out there outside the shops in their obedient lines, big smiles and snow settling on the end of their snouts. Daft red Santa hats on, yodelling their Ding Dong Merrilies and their Come all Ye Faithfuls and there are people starving everywhere. The homeless on the streets, the mentally ill out there begging for scraps. We’re all in debt up to our eyeballs. The nation’s on its knees to pay for this evil little war and they’re singing carols. Makes me sick. See I’ve walked into a merry old scene here then? ADAM: You know full well Greta is a believer so please don’t talk in this way. PAUL: I don’t mean to offend anyone it just really gets on my tits. Great, you got your fire on. Don’t mind if I warm myself up a bit, do you? GRETA: Help yourself. PAUL: Run in with the management again. At the factory. They sacked a man cos he was late in one morning. Tuesday this was. Said he’d had two warnings about his punctuality. His kid’s got brain cancer or something. His wife’s depressed. They know this and still they’re sacking him. The waiting list for jobs at the factory is six months so they’ve got us by the bollocks.

ADAM flinches.

Did I say something wrong, old soldier? You flinched just then like a wasp had stung you.

ADAM: It’s nothing. PAUL: So I’m organising a walkout in the new year. This is a young man, a good worker, with a family. With a dying kid. And it’s Christmas. The management, though, they love all these Yuletide shenanigans, don’t they? They’re the ones always to be seen at church in their Sunday best. Even clocked the managing director’s wife out there chanting away about the holly and the fucking ivy.

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ADAM: I’m going to have to ask you to go now, Paul. PAUL: Fancy a drop to keep out the cold? ADAM: Did you hear? PAUL: What’s that then? ADAM: A dead canary. PAUL: We’re all hungry, mate, but that’s a bit extreme. ADAM: Paul, we are friends, but why do you come here so often? Your coal ration is as good as ours. PAUL: Not much meat on that though, by the look of it.

PAUL continues to warm himself on the fire for a while.

God, life’s shit, isn’t it?

GRETA: Don’t say that. PAUL: The working man: he’s no better off than the beasts in the field, is he? In fact he’s worse off. At least the pig and the cow get fattened up before they’re taken to the slaughterhouse. GRETA: We must turn our thoughts to Christ and to the life to come.

PAUL laughs.

It’s all we have. To see this life as nothing. To know that what comes afterwards is all that matters. If we live well. If we are kind. PAUL: The Christ I understand was a radical. He wanted to topple the Romans. He wanted them out of his country. GRETA: Through love, not hatred. 31

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PAUL: You think if we love the arms-dealers, the bankers, the politicians, that they’re suddenly going to take their boots from off our necks? GRETA: All I’m saying is… PAUL: Look at you both standing there, shivering in the cold, half-frozen. Skinny as a pair of scarecrows. When was the last time you had a decent meal? You having a nice juicy turkey this Christmas, are you? Well, I can tell you the names of a few fat cunts that are. Listen, if we don’t change this situation ourselves it will go on forever and ever and… GRETA: Paul: I have believed in a just God all my life and no-one can take that away from me. PAUL: Can’t you see religion’s just an invention designed to keep people like us in… ADAM: I can’t stand to see you shivering. PAUL: Are you listening? GRETA: Where are you going? ADAM: I’m going to get you a fur coat and something to eat. GRETA: How? You’ve no money. ADAM: No, but I’ve got this.

ADAM holds up his service medal.

GRETA: No!

ADAM leaves.

He keeps threatening to pawn it. PAUL: He was lied to. They’re all being lied to. 32

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GRETA: Just leave me alone. PAUL: As you wish, madam.

PAUL makes to go.

GRETA: Wait a minute…

PAUL stops.

PAUL: You don’t want me to go then? GRETA: Yes, I do.

They do not speak.

Why do you keep coming here?

PAUL: You know why. GRETA: You and Adam don’t seem close any more. PAUL: You ever wondered why the politicians of this land send people like Adam far across the seas to die in some foreign field but prefer to send their own sons to university? GRETA: Every time we speak you ask me this question. PAUL: You were all of you taken for fools. GRETA: Anyway he needed the pay.

They do not speak and warm themselves by the fire. He drinks.

Are you lonely, Paul?

PAUL: Christ, I need my drink. 33

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GRETA: Isn’t that why you keep coming here?

They do not speak and warm themselves by the fire.

PAUL: Alcohol? GRETA: No? PAUL: All we got left, men like me. Booze, sport and stand-up comedy. GRETA: What about girls? PAUL: Things that fool us into believing all is well in the world. GRETA: You do alright for girls, so I hear. PAUL: We are all of us born with at least one talent. GRETA: Don’t you ever want to settle down? PAUL: And get trapped like some bird in a cage? We’re wild creatures, Greta. Our nature is untamed, nomadic, adventurous. We weren’t born to settle for anything. GRETA: What about love? PAUL: A biological conjuring trick. It’s what lures people into this soul-deadening desire to settle. To take on responsibility, to create another generation of slaves. It leads always to the salary, to the pension. We need to shatter all these… GRETA: Oh, Paul: the things you say. PAUL: What? GRETA: It’s all such childish… PAUL: It’s not childish…

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GRETA: I don’t know why I seem to…

She breaks off.

PAUL: Why you seem to what? GRETA: The way you look at me sometimes. PAUL: The way you look at me.

They do not speak and warm themselves by the fire.

GRETA begins to cry.

What’s the matter?

GRETA: It’s all so awful. So unfair. PAUL: What is? GRETA: And I do feel lonely. I feel…cut off. I hate my work… PAUL: Mopping up piss ain’t no job for a lady. GRETA: We have no money and no future and no… PAUL: Come on now… GRETA: I feel the need to tell someone but… PAUL: You can tell me. GRETA: But you must promise not to tell a soul. PAUL: I promise, I promise… GRETA: It’s about his injury.

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PAUL: His shellshock? GRETA: Yes but more than that. His actual injury. PAUL: I thought he lost his marbles out there? GRETA: He lost more than his marbles. PAUL: Then what? GRETA: The shrapnel from the explosion: it killed three of his friends. Killed them outright. But Adam… I mean, down below… He was… You know. Down below. The shrapnel sliced off his… PAUL: What exactly are you saying? GRETA: But you must promise not to… PAUL: You’re not telling me he’s had his bollocks blown off?

GRETA sobs.

PAUL lets out a laugh.

Canned laughter in the air.

GRETA stops sobbing.

GRETA: How can you stand there and laugh? Warming yourself on his coal, flirting with his wife and just laugh like that? PAUL: Who says I was flirting? GRETA: That injury happened while he was defending your freedoms. PAUL: I never asked him to go. GRETA: He sacrificed himself for… 36

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PAUL: No reason at all. GRETA: Just get out of my sight! PAUL: Look, I’m really sorry for laughing but… GRETA: Leave me alone, Paul! PAUL: As you wish, madam.

PAUL makes to go, turns.

Explains a lot, though.

GRETA: What does it explain? PAUL: It explains why you look at me in that way that you do. GRETA: And how exactly do I look at you? PAUL: Like you want me to rip your clothes clean from your body, ram you against that wall, and do some terrible, indescribable things to you… GRETA: Go away! PAUL: And I would of course at any time be happy to oblige. GRETA: Get out! Get out! Get out!

PAUL leaves.

Alone GRETA despairs.

May God forgive my wickedness.

She crosses herself.

The sound of canned laughter comes in again.

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Back to Back Samantha Wynne Rhydderch

To hold a slice of brass tight in a vice at the top of his house, to file it down to an arrow to fit the face of a clock long in its case by a loom, was to capture a century in the grip of back to backs stacked over the north of England, yet all Mr Levy saw across the courtyard was Miss Roth soothing iron locks with cloth, each escutcheon catching its teeth in her dress. Next door the walnut chiffonier’s claw feet clutched the floor where Miss Oldfield drilled holes into pearl buttons, alone. Downstairs

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Mr Taylor picked out a pair of glass eyes flecked to heal dogs on wheels or stoats stiff above spinets or men who’d missed their footing in a mill or the lacquerers, japanners, rope twine travellers, bell hangers, shoulder to shoulder holding back the spoon in their tea, coughing in the night until the day Mrs Rose left the munitions factory for dinner, thinking of Jacob, her son in France. Slitting the telegram she saw her mouth open in the knife’s tip.

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Photo at Llansteffan, April ‘08 (for Jean and Aida) Alan Perry

As somewhere the tide turns away from where I wander on ahead (dreaming of the miniscule living and the towering dead) diminishing your two dark figures: faceless and formless from here, inching across the Estuary and the April sun’s chill anvil, lost in thought, maybe or nattering on about who knows what…

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until, later in the shadow of my room through the laptop’s all-discerning eye, zoom and zoom right in on you – enhancing, out-sizing each stark head against sky and sea the high-and-dry cloud the river-sparkle the miles-away cauldron of Bryn Ceridwen and see through the day’s strange pixilation the mirage of your smiles stretching across the sands from 0 to infinity.

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Dying to be with you Daniel King

David placed the bottle of apple juice beside the hospital bed, and waited for his presence to register with Rita. Absently, he found himself staring at the juice itself. Realising suddenly that it was the colour of Rita’s skin, he felt shocked. Rita had been on the waiting list for a liver transplant for so long - it was almost as though she were a part of the hospital now - that he sometimes forgot how sick she was.

“David. . . ?” She slowly opened her eyes, made weak attempts to sit up.

Hurriedly, David moved to prop an extra pillow behind her head.

“It’s all right, my dear. I just thought you might like a cooling drink. It’s juice from

the apple tree in the garden - I found a way of sheltering it from the harsh sea air. If you can’t manage it, it doesn’t matter.”

“You’re so kind to me. I hate being a burden to you.”

David bit his lip, moved. He wondered if Rita was aware of how close to death she was. At her request she had been given full details of her state, but the liver cancer had spread throughout her body now, and eventually it would reach her brain. He remembered the first time he had dissected a cancerous cadaver, and shuddered. “You could never be a burden. Remember I know just what you’re going through and how distressing it must be. And you’re my dear wife.” He looked away, trying to stifle the hot smarting sensation (it didn’t quite amount to tears) in the corner of his eyes. 43

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“Because you were a doctor, you mean?” She sighed. “You could have been

anything you wanted. What was it you said that time? A computer scientist. Then you were employed by that chemical drug company, weren’t you.... And I know it was only a pastime but I always liked those stories you wrote. You were so ingenious sometimes. I remember in one the mere position of quotation marks changed the whole meaning of the story - what was real and what was fiction.”

“Yes, I know the one you mean. With that story, though, I got confused and

eventually forgot to put the quotation marks in.” He laughed. “But there’s no money in writing.” He straightened the seam of his plum-coloured suit and then went to the curtains, adjusted them so that a little more light fell on to the bed. In the distance the playing field of a recreation centre was like a green postage stamp.

“In any case, it’s very nice of you to visit every day.”

He leant against the pane, trying to think of something cheerful to say, something that would distract her from her situation.

“It’s interesting you should mention writing, because I recently thought I might

take it up again.”

“Well, why not? It might stop you dwelling on me all the time. Let’s face it, David,

I don’t have long, while you have years ahead of you.”

“Empty years!” David threw up his arms. “Life without you would be

inconceivable. In fact, the reason I thought of taking up writing again was that I thought I might write something about you, something that might help keep you with me always, so to speak.”

Rita took a sip of juice straight from the bottle, swallowed with difficulty. Then

she forced a smile, the lines on her face retreating to the sides of her face much as the folds in the curtains had done. “That’s sweet.” The smile changed to an expression of weariness; she was hardly ever awake now.

“Well, I have to do something,” David replied distractedly. “Who knows, writing

down my feelings and impressions may have other advantages as well.” He turned slightly and stared out at the playing field. “You mentioned computer science.... The 44

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functionalist philosophers of artificial intelligence say that intelligence and personality are just the result of the program that a machine runs. A program that turns inputs into outputs.” He leaned forwards and took her hand, trying not to notice its skin, which was like that of a thawed chicken. “So when I write down all your ‘inputs’ and ‘outputs’, all the phenomenal things you’ve done to my life, perhaps you’ll live again, in a way. The same way you’re already living in my mind, but more permanently, given that one day I’ll die myself.”

She had taken his hand now. “Whatever you think is right.” 2

David sat at his computer, wishing it were his old typewriter, the one that Rita had bought him for their paper wedding anniversary. He wondered what had become of the old machine. Surely he wouldn’t have thrown away one of her presents? And yet he couldn’t rule out the possibility. Difficult as it was to believe now, there had been times when he had felt rather distant from Rita, times when she hadn’t meant as much to him as she did at present.

And that, of course, raised a problem: what period in Rita and his life should he

try to capture in his story? Certainly not the early days in Wales, when they had just a nodding acquaintance: too much of her personality was unknown to him then. And certainly not those periods when he had felt rather distant from her. How embarrassed he was to reflect on them now! The conclusion was plain. He would have to write about his and Rita’s relationship as it was just after they were engaged. There were a great many photographs and letters from that period, so he would have plenty of source material to draw on. Moreover, from such a temporal perspective a solution to the problem of how to cope with her impending death might present itself to him.

Deciding that he would first set down details of Rita’s appearance - build a living

picture from the dead bones of written words, as it were - he tried to form in his mind an 45

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image of her face as it was when she was twenty. Then he began to type.

“A pretty woman, at twenty Rita had distinguishing features that would remain

constant all her life. Her skin was almost unnaturally fair. Her eyebrows, of fine down, were gently curved, like two distant seabirds; and her hair, full and rich and the colour of beach sand, fell in long, graceful waves almost to the collar of her favourite, white blouse with the lace edging. David couldn’t remember having seen her hair in any other style. This constancy in her appearance mirrored her constancy of temperament, he thought, her invariable tendency to put others before herself, to consider their feelings first. He had never even known her to snap.” He sat back, wondering if what he had written was sentimental. He quickly told himself it wasn’t: the information he had related was perfectly true. In fact, sometimes Rita’s self-effacement had actually annoyed him. Immediately, he suppressed this memory. He didn’t want a single negative detail to spoil the picture he was building up of his wife. It would be a picture of unchanging perfection, a picture that he could keep in his mind for ever. And it was already unbelievably vivid. 3

“Dr Maybery? Can you come to the hospital - it’s your wife. She’s fallen out of

bed and is calling for you.” David realised that he was holding his mobile so tightly he was creating spectral impressions on its screen. “Oh God - she is all right?”

“We’re doing what we can. It’s best that you come round and see for yourself,

though.”

“I’ll be right there.”

Breaking the connection, he left the house, got into his grey Accord and drove

to the hospital almost without thinking. Or rather, his thoughts alternated between an anxious though partly resigned sorrow, reflections on his wife’s state, and - he felt ashamed to admit it - thoughts of her as she would appear in his story. 46

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His passage through the carpark, up the stairs to the fourth floor of the hospital

and then to Room 9 of Nightingale Ward was similarly dreamlike. Apprehensively, he put his head around the door - and saw an assemblage of people bustling about the bed. Dr Kerr, the head physician, caught sight of him and straight away shepherded him to one side. “David – bad news, I have to say.” He glanced behind himself, where the sheets and uniforms against the white wall seemed to form a bizarre cocoon for Rita’s body. “Now you’re a medical man, so you’ll understand that there’s no easy way to say this....”

David closed his eyes. “How long does she have?”

Dr Kerr stroked his white goatee and adopted a sympathetic expression, one no doubt made perfect by countless repetitions. “Two days, perhaps three. . . She received a serious subcortical trauma when she fell out of bed. That, on top of her existing weakness. . . Well, you don’t need me to spell it out.” 4

“Rita, having finished her course at Secretarial College, decided that until she

obtained paid employment she would do some voluntary charity work. But she soon found that she wanted to devote her whole life to charity; and before long she was running a shelter for We Care Australia. The first shelter was in” - David stopped typing. He couldn’t remember where Rita’s first shelter was! He bit his lip, concerned. Knowing the location of the shelter was an important detail, a crucial part of the picture he was constructing of Rita’s character. He had to have the information. He sat back in his chair, wondering how he could find out. Rita herself would be unable to answer the question reliably - apart from anything else falling out of bed had affected her ability to talk.

Sue Fields - she’d know. She had been Rita’s best friend for years and was with

her right at the start of the charity work. He went to the phone (he didn’t have Sue’s number on his mobile) and dialled. 47

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“Sue? David Maybery here. How are things in Queensland? Yes, I’m well;

thanks. Listen, there’s been news of Rita. She’s had a bad fall, and I’m sad to say she may not recover.”

There was a pause broken only by line noise, and then Sue replied: “David, this

must be absolute hell for you. Poor Rita. As I’ve said before, you’re welcome to stay with Mark and me for support for however long you like. Or even just a couple of days - obviously you want to be close to Rita. But you also have to think of yourself; some time away, perhaps engaged in some recreational activity, will make it easier for you to accept the situation, rather than bottle everything up, a captive in that house. Just throw some clothes into a suitcase and catch a taxi to the airport.”

“Thanks, Sue - I knew I could count on you. You’re a legend, as they say.”

Realising that his voice sounded inappropriately bright - and he was both puzzled and ashamed as to why this should be so - he adopted a resigned tone. “Actually, there is a way you can help. I’m preparing a little tribute to Rita, just in case - you know. Anyway, can you remember the location of the first shelter she ran?”

“The hostel was in Darkan, David. 20 Thorburn Road, from memory - or was that

somewhere else? But definitely Darkan. Now you remember what I said. Just give us a call. I’m always here.”

“I’ll remember, Sue. Thank you.” He hung up. 5

As David entered Room 9 of Nightingale Ward he paused, thinking that some

other patient had been moved into his wife’s room. He quickly checked the number on the door again. But the patient was indeed Rita. He felt a stabbing sorrow as he contemplated the shock of brittle white hair and the gnarled claws with their fecal spatterwork of age spots. This isn’t Rita, he thought. Astonished by his own reaction, he tried to work out why he was feeling the way he was. He soon had an answer. His writing, even though he had barely started it, had thrown his wife’s present state - her 48

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appearance, her mind - into sharp contrast with what it used to be. At some time over the last forty years, without his noticing (the process had been too gradual), his wife had decayed into a living cadaver. He felt an infinite dismay. He went closer. Aware of the weight of the camera in his pocket he wondered whether there was any point now in taking a last picture or two of her. But he couldn’t think of anything else to do. And her eyes were just the same as they had always been: perfect blue circles. Perhaps a photographic record of them would be handy.

“Rita - this is just a flying visit. But I want to take some photos of you. I’m just

incorrigibly sentimental, I guess.” Quickly, he withdrew the camera, took a succession of snaps. Then, hating all of creation, he hastily blew a kiss to his wife and hurried from the room. 6

“It was not long before Rita’s charity work began to bring her nationwide

recognition.

“’Do you think we should move to Victoria, David?” she asked, making as if to

steeple her fingers and then apparently thinking better of it, as she always did when she was unsure of something. “That’s where the real need is - particularly the poor areas, during winter. And I’ve had several begging letters to go over and lend a hand. De Way’s clinic. . . .’

“David turned from the Malevich reproduction on their lounge wall that he had

been contemplating and looked at her with real pride. ‘If I were selfish I’d say I have my practice to think of. But how could I stand in the way of such commitment? Besides, I’m a competent doctor and could easily get a post with one of the important hospitals in Victoria.’

“’Oh no, now you’re making me feel selfish!” Rita gently touched his hand and

moved to the edge of their lounge, where the standard lamp with the Rennie Mackintosh panels cast red bars on to the white carpet. ‘I couldn’t possibly cause you distress over 49

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your practice. I’ll just have to be patient - your work’s more important.’

“’I beg to differ.’ He laughed. ‘What we need is some way of weighing up just

how much good each of us is doing, and then let that good have priority. That’s what the philosopher Mill would suggest anyway. But the idea’s not practical, although I can’t remember the arguments why not.’

“’So what do we do?’

“’What exactly is the nature of the work they have in mind?’”

“’I just mentioned De Way’s. . . . But also working with the homeless, helping

them to deal with all the emotional baggage.’

“’Look, I happen to know that the team at Saint Mark’s - that’s in the same district

- is looking for a physician with my background. Getting the position would be a breeze. What do you say?’ He rubbed his hands together, pleased at having found a solution. Rita was also pleased, for she was giving him the widest smile he’d ever seen.” 7

“Sue? It’s David again. I wonder if you could be an angel” -

- “You’ve decided to take up my offer, David?” Sue’s voice was all relief. “Oh,

good. When are you coming over? I’ve already made up a bed for you.”

“It will be soon - this week - everything’s packed except my laptop. Before I

come, though, I was wondering whether you could email me those pictures you took of Rita and me in Cooktown. I know Rita has them on her laptop but that’s at the hospital and I can’t get in to see her for a while.” 8

“Rita was standing in the hall next to their suitcases, wearing the long, old-

fashioned skirt that David jokingly called ‘the bustle’. She looked up as David emerged from the passage. 50

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“Well, that’s everything checked.” He withdrew from his suit a knot of keys. “We’ll

drop these off at Sue’s flat on the way. It’s very nice of her to look after the place for us - especially as we don’t know when we’ll be over again. I’ve invited her to pay us a visit whenever she likes - I hope that’s all right. Maybe we could even pay her air fare.” He leaned forward and kissed Rita’s left temple; he was reluctant to kiss her lips in case any of her favourite, liver-coloured lipstick adhered to him. Then he stood back, looked her up and down, and laughed. “I wouldn’t mill abut so near the cases if I were you - you might find yourself put in with the baggage by mistake.’

“’Ever ready with the comeback, aren’t you?’ She smiled, and then sighed. ‘I do

hope we’re doing the right thing. I feel quite downcast about leaving this house, but at least it’s still ours. And yes, it’s nice of Sue to move in - although she gains too, now that she no longer has to live in that guesthouse. I wouldn’t be surprised if she marries the eccentric guy she’s seeing, by the way. Mark I think his name is. I’m certainly glad that “secret” infatuation she had for you has cooled.’ Her eyes swept around the room. ‘When we’re finished in Victoria, if we ever are, we can move back here, I suppose. It would be nice to retire by the sea.’

“’It’s a shame we can’t have children.’

“’Just as long as we can be with one another I’ll be content. Events will converge.

You’ll see.’

“David checked the time. It was four. ‘The taxi should be here soon, assuming

there’s no traffic snarl.’ Idly he began to wind his watch. The divisions marking the hours were heavily accentuated; they reminded him of a naval mine with its spines turned inwards.

“’Yes, I’ll open the door in case it doesn’t hoot. Some drivers get crabby if you’re

not prompt and will just drive off.’ So saying, she drew open the heavy wooden door; a pillow of cool air stirred the luggage tags. She inhaled deeply, and turned slightly towards him. ‘I’ll miss the sea as well - the breeze is really starting to blow now! Although nothing will grow in the garden because of the sea air.’ 51

“David nodded. The sacrifice will be for a noble cause.’ He joined Rita in looking THE LAMPETER REVIEW - Issue 2 - January 2011


at the sea. It was a blue rectangle, like a piece of litmus paper in a basic solution. He shook his head, wondering why he felt suddenly so clinical about his environment. He had, after all, lived here with Rita ever since they left Wales, and that was ten years ago. He glanced at Rita, and had his answer. She was his life; nothing else was important. ‘And as you say, as long as we’re with one another, it doesn’t matter.’

“’The taxi’s here!’ Rita scuttled on to the porch, waving an arm; the flapping

white cotton was like a windsock. ‘Suddenly I’m excited - although I know I shouldn’t be! Charity work is a responsibility.’

“’You’re not excited; you’re enthusiastic - there’s a difference.’ He stood out of

the way so that she might pass, and then absently tapped the cases with his toe. ‘And I’m enthusiastic as well. I have the feeling - I don’t know about you - that this is the most important moment in our lives. If only we could make it last for ever!’

“’You already have my love. In God’s eyes, everything is eternal. Nothing can be

changed now.’ David paused, and then moved to draw up the cases, suddenly deep in thought. For a few seconds, his mind tried to picture how things would be in a few years or even decades - but he told himself that there was no point. It was not true that everything was eternal: only the present was real. All else was fiction. He made his way towards the taxi, already imagining life in another state.

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Sandra Lee Scheuer

(Killed at Kent State University, May 4, 1970 by the Ohio National Guard) Gary Geddes

窶郎ou might have met her on a Saturday night, cutting precise circles, clockwise, at the Moon-Glo Roller Rink, or walking with quick step between the campus and a green two-storey house, where the room was always tidy, the bed made, the books in confraternity on the shelves. She did not throw stones, major in philosophy or set fire to buildings, though acquaintances say she hated war, had heard of Cambodia. In truth she wore a modicum of make-up, a brassiere, and could no doubt more easily have married a guardsman than cursed or put a flower in his rifle barrel.

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While the armouries burned, she studied, bent low over notes, speech therapy books, pages open at sections on impairment, physiology. And while they milled and shouted on the commons, she helped a boy named Billy with his lisp, saying Hiss, Billy, like a snake. That’s it, SSSSSSSS, tongue well up and back behind your teeth. Now buzz, Billy, like a bee. Feel the air vibrating in my windpipe as I breathe? As she walked in sunlight through the parking-lot at noon, feeling the world a passing lovely place, a young guardsman, who had his sights on her, was going down on one knee, as if he might propose. His declaration, unmistakable, articulate, flowered within her, passed through her neck, severed her trachea, taking her breath away. Now who will burn the midnight oil for Billy, ensure the perilous freedom of his speech; and who will see her skating at the Moon-Glo Roller Rink, the eight small wooden wheels making their countless revolutions on the floor? From: The Acid Test, 1980 55

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Enchanted Wales In Feathers Alison Greig

The feathers tell the winged story: Birds wheeling, hovering, diving, swooping, hopping, singing, twittering, hooting, and cawing. For each sacred site a winged guardian: A wren shoots out from within the Tinkinswood dolmen, Ray of light from a dark ancestral past; Doves and swallows fly among the skeletal ribs of Tintern Abbey, Messengers of hope in the decay of age; Gulls cry above St. Non’s holy well, A sweet reminder of life’s salty waters; A downy hawk feather hidden by the druid’s cave to cradle a sleeping seer, While a Merlin soars over a seashore shell-like vault Hidden dolmen of the wavesFor the sea mother loves her children, and brings them all back under When life grows too long above; Crows guard the fort of Dinas Bran, a place to see the truth and speak it, While ravens rise up in the wind over Anglesey Island, last refuge of the druids; 56

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Sky larks hover ecstatic over Mitchell’s Fold stone circle, In, out and through the grey clouds, where a mandorla frames the sun. The mythic eagle of Snowdonia, sun glinting off his wings, We see him not, but find him in the Mabinogi tales. Feathers bring the stories home, Dropped in a miraculous moment Discovered in a instant Of flight, wind and sight. We learn the language of the birds and don our feathered capes That we may whisper through their plumes once more, And preen and stroke, feeling the filaments of their wind-borne dreams. Alison Greig 2010

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The Rope Avri Jacques

I’ll never forget the look on Joe’s face that night. It was full of a kind of tender-

ness as he gazed at us, almost like a mother might look at her brood of children who had got out of hand, but loves them anyway. We couldn’t afford much of a spread. The landlord had given us a choice of menu, so we chose the fish – it being a Friday night and all. The bread was a bit stale but we solved that by dipping it in the cheap plonk that came with the food.

I remember Pete being so excited. “This is just the beginning”, he said. Pete

always liked to show off. It wouldn’t have surprised me if he’d stood on a chair to make his big speech. He didn’t, but he stood up anyway. I can still see him with his broad bearded face, gesturing with those huge hands of his. “This is only the beginning – it’s all uphill from here”. God knows what he thought we were going to do, but his enthusiasm was catching and we stamped and clapped as if he’d said something really clever and true. We were a bit wild that night. It had been such a great week with that ride into the City. God! What a reception. The people really loved Joe, I could see that. He’s going to be the next President, I thought.

I was so certain that night, so sure we were winners, so sure that the hours, days

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had given it to us. John was quiet though – didn’t say much; just chewed his way through the meal with that shy way of his, not talking, but smiling quietly. The way he looked at Joe nearly broke my heart. Dammed near worshipped him, he did. Thought of Joe as the big elder brother he’d never had, I suppose. I don’t know what job we could have given John. He wasn’t any good with the finances; that was my job. He was too shy for PR. and not tough enough for security. Always a dreamer, John, loved his books and writing. Andy now, he was a man’s man and could hold his drink with the best of them. Everybody liked him. There was a kind of innocence about him that disarmed you. Even when you’d been rough with him, he’d turn that baby smile of his on you and say “thank you”. Thank you? God! Didn’t he understand anything?

I can see Andy now, as he was that night, beaming round at everyone as if he’d

just won some big goddamn prize. It makes me sick just to think of it. The brothers, I remember, always sat together, like two peas, their own Mother couldn’t tell them apart. Well, that’s if she’d lived. I suppose if you’d lost your mother as young as they did, you just hang on to each other for a bit of security.

Securities, that’s Matt’s forte. He knows every which way around the tax laws;

sharp as a needle and ruthless with it. We’d have been rich, rich with him working for us. Al Capone, eat your heart out! Except we’d never have ended up in the slammer, Matt’s too clever for that.

I often wondered if Joe knew what Matt was up to. Jo was so trusting; he’d

believe anything you told him. He always saw the best in everyone. That’s why people loved him, I guess. It was as if when he looked at you, all the good things you’d meant to do and wished you’d done in your life became real, as if you’d done them all. And you felt so good it made you want to shout and laugh and play, like when you were a kid, before life came up and kicked you in the teeth.

(I can’t get these damned knots out; rope’s too wet. Can’t get any more now;

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him so proud of us.

I can remember his toast. He didn’t stand up, like Peter; just said in that quiet

voice of his that you couldn’t help taking notice of. Just said, (God my eyes are running so much I can’t see the damned rope) He said, “Every time you have a get together, lads, think about me and I’ll be right there with you”.

We thought he’d always be there with us anyway so we didn’t catch on to what

he was telling us, not then, not till later; not till that bloody Eyetalian git wouldn’t stand up for him, washed his hands of him, like he was dirty, not the only decent man in the Country. He wasn’t good enough to wipe Joe’s shoes and he sold him down the river. He let those self-serving bastard lawyers and preachers get their teeth into him and –(ah! knot’s out now) You’ll be wondering where I was in all of this.

I believed in him. I believed what he used to tell us about peace and loving ev-

erybody. I thought his time had come and all I had to do was engineer a little confrontation with those self-righteous bastards. He didn’t say a word, though, just let them put the cuffs on and lead him out – like a bloody lamb to the slaughter.

I didn’t mean for it to happen like that. I wanted - I thought - what did I think?

That he was going to perform a miracle and fly out of their reach. I thought the people would demand justice for him. Justice! That’s a laugh. Where’d you get justice in this godforsaken country? Crime, prostitution, corruption, terrorism, yes! – Justice? No!

Anyway, I’m going after Joe. Wherever he’s gone, I’m going after him. I’m not

hanging around here to see the rest of the lads lose heart, get crushed or be ‘eliminated’, one by one. Ready now – careful Jude old lad, don’t bungle this one. Noose’s ready, over you go, knot’s tight, kick the table away. Here we go, one two, three -

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Damascus James Luchte

I thought it would be different a police state, definitely, with defeated souls wandering with dower, abject eyes, trained & disciplined to the dirt. The propaganda had done its work on me, built the limits of my knowledge, not to mention the auxiliary websites, which spoke of the tortures of the regime. I was expecting the worst It is just that I was so ignorant and so late in the game… & the lacerated meanness of my soul, manipulated by propaganda [the truth regime (family, private property, state) breeding & discipline – natality - though some heritages & legacies must not be honoured], had heard too long the lies that breathe out of ‘our’ dark mouths. I had overcome such horizons of distortion and lies before, but, why was this so difficult, different….

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Looking back, I look into myself… I wonder if it could possibly be some type of residual racism – subliminal fear of the ‘ragheads’, ’spics’ & ‘wetbacks’ of my father’s diatribes, ‘nigger toes’ for Brazil nuts… ‘Martin Luther King was an uppity nigger’ and ‘Ted Kennedy is a communist’….. ? ‘Peace is nuclear blackmail’…. ‘If you go to college, they will turn you into a hophead’ – his adulation of Israeli military prowess against the ‘sand niggers’…. ? But, does any of this old news really matter any longer… Could it not ’simply’ be a sense of guilt in the anticipated face of the other outside of the cradle of Europe & its playground in the new world anxiety in the face of an imminent reversal of facelessness, turning on & tuning into these anonymous howls and cries of otherness – myriad calls of conscience scream from countless unmarked graves of rape, murder & genocide… Or, is it something else besides…. ? (I never told anyone I was (’originally’) ‘American’… (a complicated emotion)… but let each assume as he wished from my European passport… my own cowardice… and treason…) As I am moved along the winding river of the jungle, I feel the winds of difference, new horizons beckoning, new rules, new customs — even if in Europe itself, ‘unity’ does not simply mean ‘conformity’ – ‘Unity’? ….. Lies, propaganda, throw this twisted scaffolding down… I had an argument with my love’s mother about illusions that swirl about us like a tornado illusory except that I could not sleep 63

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(no fault to her) with her daughter in the night… I finally understand the expression, ‘Fordidden fruit’… An irony, perhaps a Muslim irony…. Hammadia market, this frenzied arcade of voices, bodies, styles, and joy – children spill their ice creams amid the plethora of faces, swirling arms, eyes… Belly dancing customes & masques…. Winnie the Pooh pajamas & spices, Pocket qurans with a little boy collecting money, giving change. Swirling in a circle in the grand mosque, falling – disoriented – into the women’s prayer section, seeing sacred things I should not see. Sufis guide me to my feet, spin me away & around & around… Children run around this open space & chaotically dance betwixt these pillars… They hold hands & twirl around, around… On the streets, an (un-armed) police officer smokes & gives directions to passerbys…. smokes & gives directions to passerbys…. smokes & gives directions to passerbys…. A woman with a short mini-skirt with a visible thong walks hand in hand with a woman who is ‘covered’, pushing along a pram in which a baby smiles…. Two young men hold hands on the bus to Aleppo… It is Thursday night & we dine at 64

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Bashar’s favourite place, right across the street from a Greek Orthodox church that shares this starlight with a Muslim minaret We drink our wine as a blizzard of food descends upon us from all sides, Arabic cuisine…. We wish to run into the night – yet, ‘custom’ enacts myriad layers of pleasure… in the hot air, underneath flights of bats, we have coffee – then a tray of watermelon – then plates of wonderful Syrian sweets – Night, the fate of gods, calls to us, & we grab a cab back to Cora Assad. The cab driver names a price in Arabic & the host of voices explode, haggling, negotiating, bartering from 1000 to 400…. Everything is negotiable, every price is contingent…. like the ‘free market’ of the fairy tales – But, in a (Baathist) ’socialist’ state??? Pan-Arab, secular, but with an executive symbology of Islam – emergency government since the coup in 1963… it is a parliamentary government, except that – due to the state of emergency – the executive is controlled by a member of the Baathist party and must be a Muslim. Ten sanctioned parties sit on a consultative council. This current hegemony of one party – and one religion – is being questioned by philosophers, poets, artists and film-makers in Syria. 65

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Nizar Qabbani whispers that every word and act from the government is a lie, is a lie – Qabbani, it should be remembered, wished to be buried in Syria, the womb of his creativity under the Jasmin trees Will Adonis (who, I think, has the wrong ‘friends’) return to Damascus to help her be born into maturity? It is the haunting war with Israel that is the major, determining factor in Syrian domestic and foreign policy research and strategy. Most resources are either placed in projects which are designed to prepare for the next invasion, or are diverted to other countries, such as electricity to Jordan, as a means and manner of maintaining and growing, the ‘unity’ of ‘Arab’ states…. It is Thursday night…. the sublime night in the Arab and Muslim worlds — the night before a day of prayer…. as with the night of the fast, in which pleasure abounds, Thursday night in Damascus is a night of celebration… Across the myriad parks in the night families dance, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters – grandparents, uncles and aunts, friends… so many people that the green grass disappears amid this flux of humanity…. smiling faces, shisha pipes, lovely food & drink…. Little children running under the stars & moon amid the night of the world, families have their picnics, 66

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smoke shisha, and dance – all past the witching hour… There are little shops on the streets selling anything you could want (vodka, wine, beer, cigarettes, food, sweets, etc.) until three o’clock in the morning — That’s better than London, at least…. One would be a criminal if he were to eat, dance and smoke shisha (or even be there) in Hyde Park in the night……. No one ever wants to go into Central Park or Prospect Park at night… But, that is only due to propaganda – ‘if you go to X, then you will be raped & murdered… is this a threat, perhaps, with the subwhisper, ‘We certainly don’t want them hippies to set up their communes again – or, anybody else to have the space to create chaos in the Night!’…. It is all a fear compaign – I used to go there at night, sometimes with a dog I had, and sit, think, smoke & drink – sometimes a homeless guy would pass nearby, carrying a trashbag… A sublime space, one that is perhaps thankfully neglected… We sit with dear friends at an open air cafe, imbibing the local beer – three different colored bottles, three colors of beer – but it was the same brand televisions set at the edge of each table… Arab music videos vibrate the space as a girl & boy smile upon us from a Coke™ ad that spans the entire side of a building… Who would have expected it? Just from the standpoint of freedom of movement, I felt freer in Syria 67

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(cascading small motorcycles & taxis – the unbounded eruption of Damascus, much too ecstatic to control with force) than in London or Paris, & in some parts of New York – we need free spaces, a place for this, a place to be, to exist… Why don’t lots of people go to Central Park or Hyde Park or Tiergarten in Berlin– AT NIGHT ALL AT ONCE throw unannounced ecstatic night festivals with musicians, poets, artists, philosophers, film-makers & political and cultural activists – and – god forbid, ‘real’, ‘actual’ people….. wine et al., smoke, lovely flesh, music & dance – a Dionysian festival of resistance…? A Saturnalia in December? Why not take advantage of this space – for which – at night – there is no demand….. it is free & it is free & it is free…. Perhaps a little risk is involved, at first… But, if you persist, maybe, in a little while, you can be as free as the Syrians! Just think! As free as the Syrians!!!

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In the green seascape Sue Moules

Poet, they are telling your story in my green town. Cameras are out, cranes lift up lights and rain machines. The old court room is cordoned off. My neighbour asks if I’ve heard about the film, and for once I know the story, can tell her of Vera and William Killick, of the bullet through the walls of Majoda where you lived Dylan with your family. I dreamt of buying that bungalow near New Quay when it went up for auction, of living in a poet’s house. where once local writers planted a cherry tree to celebrate your life.

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That was long ago, before the pottery plaques of your face that greets us as we venture where you once trod. That court case made the London papers. Today it seems that the whole town is here on Lampeter high street, one lady tells me she was here in 1945 to see the famous poet, a cigarette drooping from his mouth as he crossed the road to the pub. We gaze at the transformed flower shop now a tobacconist and confectioners, ‘closed even for Old Holborn’. What would you have made of this as you looked out to sea wrote and wrote in that green time, walking into New Quay and back again around the curve of the shore where words spin in the wind.

From “In The Green Seascape” published by Lapwing

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Oh my days Max Dunbar

The day started well from a business point of view. When he awoke his Motorola had charged. He found the Thirst Emergency business card on which he’d scrawled Lisa Duke’s number. He texted her: thanks for the other night, let’s go out sometime. Then he checked his wallet – three hundred, too much to carry around. Two hundred was stashed between a couple of pages of an OHCM he had found on Dr Felix’s IKEA bookshelf.

By nine he was logged on at Chorlton library. Lucky to get a computer, whole

bank was rammed with pensioners and layabouts. There was a big guy in a combat jacket swearing at MySpace in an antipodean accent. The library guy had to come over, tell him to keep the noise down.

Anderson set up a dummy gmail account and began trawling the commercial job

sites, firing off a false CV in a false name. In one hour he made about forty applications. When his time ran out he hung around the library for a while. Libraries made you feel safe and happy. Because silence is expensive. Noise is cheap. Then he went back to Dr Felix’s and got his stash and headed up to Moss Side. For some reason the junkies were choosy today. The old man with the loaf moved past with a vacant forward stare like someone stepping over a transient. The girl hanging around outside FAHEEM NEWS blanked him completely. Midday and still no sale. What’s wrong with these people? Don’t they know there’s a recession on? 72

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Then: a brown Staatleder appearing from Roxholme Drive, skidding to a halt in

the middle of an empty road, the guy inside beckoning him to come, and like a fool Anderson went. A door clicked behind him and arms around his waist so tight and fast they knocked the breath from his body. He saw the doctor’s bag hit the pavement, ampoules spilling. The stash collected and whisked out of sight by fast, clever hands.

Anderson felt himself bent double and the arms reaching out from the driver’s

seat and pushed into the passenger seat now, a kick to the back of his head and he ducked to avoid it and was forced into the passenger’s rest, cracked in a lopsided L. Heavy heels on the ridge of his spine, as if he’d been stuffed and used as a footstool. Then the car tore off.

Breathing dust and fluff, Anderson endeavoured to think through the fear. Clearly

he’d been getting in on someone’s action, and here were the consequences. Criminals never seemed to see the benefit of free enterprise. A schoolboy mistake, a fucking med school error. And possibly his last.

They drove on. Anderson did slow breathing exercises to fight off the colossal

panic attack that threatened to overwhelm him. He tried to identify from the sounds of traffic outside where they were going. No real major roads. Conversation above but he could make out few reference points. Someone was smoking. One of the voices he had heard before, but where? His memory was more visual than aural. His back killed by the time the car took a halt. Anderson was hauled out into the air and light. A big youngish man with startling silver hair looked at him. ‘In there,’ he nodded. ‘Don’t run or shout, son.’ That turned out to be the silver-haired man’s only contribution to the meeting.

Anderson tried to get his bearings and almost overbalanced. He was glad to see

they were in urban surroundings – rough and almost empty, but still town, with homes and shops. Surely any murder would be carried out in the fields. The silver fox led him into a busy garage. Inside Slade Lane Autos were maybe fifteen or twenty cars’ worth of splayed metal. Place stank of sweat and oil. None of the workers gave Anderson a second glance, though a couple nodded to the man behind him. 73

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He was led into a small office at the back of the garage. When he turned, he rec-

ognised the bouncer from Jabez. ‘Small world.’

‘Certainly is, pal.’ Martin smiled with half his head. ‘Coffee?’

The coffee arrived in a cafetiere with the silver fox, who handed out mugs, poured and departed.

‘Yeah, sorry about the shit we put you through, getting you here.’ Martin turned

over an ampoule in one hand. ‘Gotta be done – keep up appearances and that. But you can stop shaking – you’re not gonna be hurt. The lads are really just curious about where this shit came from.’

‘I got it from the MRI. I used to be a doctor, I have a swipecard.’

‘Yeah?’ There was curiosity in Martin’s voice. ‘That’s a good angle. Obviously

you can’t be selling it on the streets. We spent a long time building up this market, and bouncing don’t pay the rent in these troubled economic times. You’re obviously new in town –‘

‘I was born here. I’ve been away, though.’

Martin shrugged. ‘Whatever. You weren’t to know. But you can sell to us. What

kind of work you done?’

It took a beat for Anderson to understand. ‘Credit card fraud, y’know, ID stuff.

Nothing big really.’

‘Time?’

‘No.’

‘Okay then, Dr Brian Coverdale. That’s you, is it?’

‘Yep.’ It was, at least, the name on Anderson’s fake NHS pass, which he’d had a

besotted Hammersmith medical secretary run off on the hospital machine. Martin handed it to him, along with a card. It was professionally done, with raised lettering and a mild, pleasant resistance to the material. A sophisticated European font displayed Martin’s name and mobile phone number. 74

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‘Give us a call if you want work. I’ll let you know if anything good comes along.

What’s your number, Doc?’

Anderson rapped it out – he could always replace the phone. ‘Where are we, by

the way?’

‘Up in Longsight. Where’d you need to be?’

‘Erm, Fallowfield.’

‘I’ll lift you as far as the Kingsway.’

‘Great. Thanks.’

On the drive back they chatted about bar work and the feasibility of the SIA licence. Near Stockport Road they came to a council sign decorated with happy crayon pictures, obviously drawn by local primary school children. ‘Welcome to Longsight!’ the sign said. ‘Something for Everyone!’ Martin started laughing. ‘Something for everyone! Longsight!’ The lights lowered down to green. ‘Cracks me up every time. Something for everyone! Oh, my days!’ Shaken by the encounter, Anderson decided on a drink to settle his spirits. The gunmetal Motorola went off just as he was about to hit the Fallowfield Bar and Grill. He didn’t recognise the number, which made him hesitate. To him, contact meant bad news. No post, no calls, no text no email was good news. Lisa’s voice was like her breath in his ear. Something fizzled and burst at the end of his cock.

‘Hey sexy, I got you an interview. Thursday at nine, by the airport.’

‘Thanks. Text us the address.’

‘Shall do. Laters, honey.’

She clicked off. Some good news. And an excuse is as good as a celebration.

He hit the Bar and Grill. Darkside didn’t seem to be around. The place did well for a Tuesday afternoon, the students beginning to ebb back into South Manchester. His Irving book got the attention of a bunch of twentyish poets and editors. Last orders and heading to a gig at the Dancehouse in town. A poet warmed up the crowd by reading 75

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from his new ‘chapbook’; a thin stapled pamphlet published by something called the Garden Shed Press. Copies of this chapbook, the poet said, were available for purchase at the door. The poems consisted of snatches from advertising billboards and municipal signs, assembled into a collage and passed off as original work.

Anderson liked the band. The singer reminded him of the Groove Armada girl. He

bought a CD off the bassist. Every spoken word and band night you go there’s someone waving a tin in your face: underground art is a form of panhandling. Still if they were playing the Dancehouse they could turn out to be heavy hitters. Then putting in for a shisha pipe at Saki in Rushholme. Long, intense chats with a well-built and scissorlegged girl called Mogwai who turned out to be the singer in the group. She’d been slinging drinks at the Scholar and selling books on Deansgate before Waterstone’s made her redundant and she’d set up the band. These days every third guy’s in a band, but Mogwai seemed to believe in it, and love it; she was certainly a fine vocalist.

It was at the Deaf Institute that the visions came. If you’re fond of sand dunes

and salty lakes… More and more often over the last five years drinking sent Anderson into a suicidal reverie. He looked over the second-floor Trof balcony onto what looked like a crash net below, the dim shapes of bottles and boxes below it, and he knew the thing would have to be done properly, not like the bedblockers who used to down ten paracetamol or slash themselves and then immediately call an ambulance. Why? Anderson himself would go out like the guys who went into the forest at darkness, leaving no note – he was halfway down the cycle path now, crossing the bridge between thought and action, looking for the little silver god of the secret city. Quaint little vill-lla-ges heeerrre and theeerre…

At Dr Felix’s he took his razor from the bathroom and looked at it for a while be-

fore finishing the wine and passing out.

By morning Anderson’s visions had departed, leaving an intense, pulverising de-

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It took a grinding psychic effort to shower and dress. He counted down the hours

until six and opened a fresh bottle of wine. There was nothing in his interior darkness but an atavism that flared when he heard the clatter of the post or footsteps from the flat across. He tried to find some kind of stimulus, something that would comfort him. Television was a scary prospect so he fired up his Dell and put on Mogwai’s CD. Acoustic chill-dance stuff with Mogwai’s voice echoing compassion in the stillness. Exactly what you need.

He logged on to some of the mental health blogs. The first-hand accounts could

be terrible in their candour and content, but there was a sense of love in the comment threads. A community of isolated lights in the darkness like town from a hilltop. Next morning he was left with nothing but the habitual regret. Plus the questions that visited him when he was coming out of the dark. Will I ever be loved? Will I ever be caught? They say suicide has to be in you, but Anderson had seen plenty of cases where suicide wasn’t in the patient and the patient still went for it, like the A and E casualties, just following the wrong impulse at the wrong time. All you need. Take it easy on the drink.

Another early start and he followed the Kingsway line down to Mauldeth Road.

In the dawn he saw a freight train rattle by overhead, carriages all shacks of wood and tarpaulin, the names things like CHORLTON SHEETING and LINK BODYWORK and making him think of the semi-mythical jump trains of America, sleeping hobos curled into straw, travellers passing a half of rum around through the long Midwestern night.

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The new rustic Al Verey

Spend your first days cutting thyme and mint. Stay near your house. Bind roses and remove stones from the vegetable plot. Ear-mark a stream. Learn bird-song. The second month should mostly be spent indoors now that you have quelled the excitement. Lay carpets and polish windows you’ll want to see the storms. In case of neighbours brush a path, in case of loneliness befriend the moon. Only after the first five months should you worry about the dying wood at your gate and cold animals thrown over your fence. 78

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Summer Lightening Chris Bendon

a boy’s joyful gloom. At breakfast, any excess scraped off with the several forms of recorded Death:this or that risk (not yet classified in upper case) balancing out dogs chased over winter ice. The many heads and tales of al-Qaeda

Sinbad!

I reached, with awed warm hands, her marveling breasts. The Globe, markedly unequal Market for – like a habit you kick comes bouncing back… Bless these twittering birds, Txt Msgrs, bloggers saving forests, whose ciphers (be they never so cryptic) will be out there “forever”! Are jellyfish Venusian? (I don’t break Windows – only the odd spot of wind.) LOL is part of the Rosetta Stone. But to call the Sheikh (of The WW Caliphate) a lone lunatic is most dangerous! 79

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Now the bubble in which we live and breathe ‘s something preciously blown by an infant. Her nipples seemed to speak; we firmed up the deal. We are intoxicated with some genius:The terrible freshness of a Kindergarten. The sense the lower orders feel of something beyond their control of something going on, and on … Which you don’t wish to admit: oh, to hear the heavy weather made by Bach works for kbd played on a Grand Piano – is to be on the Titanic, in mid-Atlantic. Toccata? Registered Christ; patent rainbow. Distant rumble. Getting close; closer; warmer; hotter.

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The day Democracy died Maggi Williams

This is a story of fiction incorporating real events and people. In order to protect the innocent, no names have been changed. He is excited; as if he had finally found a solution for an impossible puzzle: “It was an insurance job, I’m telling you.” Ken and I’m sitting in a little café across the road from the Chinese supermarket in Brighton. There’s an old man in the corner; mumbling at the blond dreadlocked waitress, but apart from that we are alone. I look at him, I really want to believe him, to be able to put it into some context I can accept, understand. No, how could you understand something like that. I mean that the whole event was due to one mans greediness. Yes maybe it really was what I wanted; to be 81

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able to say that I understood, that somehow it made sense, was acceptable. Ken seeing my resolve soften continues: “Look, he is a Zionist Jew – don’t look at me like that!.” “Well, why do you mention he is a Jew” I ask. He sighs: “It’s relevant.” I had already known the answer; Ken a long time editor of The Independent, would never give you any bits of a story that wasn’t relevant. I was as annoyed with myself as he was. Ken continues albeit, slightly annoyed: “If it hadn’t been for one of his buddies another Zionist, he would not have been able to buy the lease in the first place; his offer was 50 million short of the other bidder’s”. Ken’s tells the story about the well-connected financier who had managed to secure the ninety-nine year lease on the largest office complex in the United States only to go on to collect 3.6 billion dollars 9 weeks later from the insurance companies. Ken goes on; “He even tried to double that by saying that it was two counts of terrorist attacks, can you believe it?” Somehow it is a relief to hear Ken’s explanation, it almost seems believable that some82

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one would arrange the destruction of their property in order to collect the insurance money, even if that someone was already very wealthy like Silverstein. The Thomas Crown affair and Steve McQueen’s face as he was pondering his next chess move against the beautiful insurance detective flashes through my mind. But that was before 9 11, before fear and suspicion became a constant in our lives. I remember the day it happened; my eldest was two at the time and despite his age a whiz with the TV and VHS. He had just finished watching Ivor the engine and decided to play with his airplane on the floor for a while, the sound on the TV was down, I was tidying and out of the corner of my eye I saw a building explode, then collapse. Some American looking commentator came on, ticker tape spelling out the news running below the picture like you often see in American films. I remember thinking it probably was a new Bruce Willis film; Die Hard 4 or something. I went to the kitchen, came back again, I was about to turn the TV off when the phone rang: “Beth!” It was my husband. My eyes instinctively went to the TV screen “Hi baby; its not for real is it?” His voice was soft: “You’ve seen it? It’s real.” I felt like I was free falling; this was bad really bad. I felt like gathering up my children and running somewhere, but where? Where could we go? It was obviously happening in America; if it could happen in America it could happen anywhere. I mean we were not safe. My youngest was only four months old. What had I done, bringing them in to this crazy world, how could I be so selfish. I heard myself speak: “I thought it was a new film out” Andy hesitated: “Several of the guys has spoken to friends in the states; it is for real. But it’s not an airplane.” My husband a commercial pilot was at the airport with his friends many of them airline 83

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pilots, a few ex-military, a couple of engineers and one or two instructors; I knew they knew what they had seen. “What do you think it is then?” My mind was split in two; one was racing ahead calculating the consequences of what was happening, realizing it wasn’t an accident. Would it be war? How quickly would it escalate? Who was involved? I only realized how safe I had felt the instant it was taken away from me. The other fought to hold on to the world that had been, refusing to acknowledge the new. I said the only thing that would come out: “Are you OK Andy?” I wanted him to come home; to hold me and the boys - to tell me it wasn’t real. That’s what I wanted to say: “Come home, and hold us” But I knew it was real; I knew it in my bones, and I knew he couldn’t change it, that he couldn’t protect us, it was best he stayed where he was with his friends. I swallow hard at the memory and look Ken in the eye: “No, I don’t believe it, and neither do you. How can you?. You know it’s not the full story. Yes, it was a Silverstein who gained money, but it was the American government who had the biggest payout: The Iraqi oil fields and the added bonus of people willing to give up their civil rights without a struggle; laws where changed from a system where you needed a court order to tap a phone line, to any government agency being able to pick anyone off the streets and hold them in prison indefinitely without a charge – All this over night, in one go.” I was fired up now and couldn’t hold back: “Id implants; -within four years they were carrying out Id implants in humans without their consent!. Despite concerns about cancer the target is to implant 45 million Americans to start, they already have hospitals equipped with the scanners and the Nexus cards with RFID that can be read from a distance of 20 feet, it’s a question of people control, you know that.” I pause to draw breath and wait for his reaction, my face is flushed and my palms are wet with the adrenalin pumping through me. 84

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Ken folds and re-folds his paper serviette, he drinks from his empty cup, and brushes invisible hairs away from his face, he looks towards the old man in the corner, sitting there, staring into empty space. He starts to speak, but I know what is coming and speak first: “Don’t you dare say that word!” I start to gather my things; I stand up. I am furious at his attempt to explain it all away so neatly, I am angry at his reaction to my reasoning, angry… I realized that he is only doing what I so badly want to be able to do myself, but can’t. The feeling of doom I had that day in September has driven me on to find the truth. I watched Loose Change and Zeitgist; documentaries produced by people as shattered as myself. They were hard to digest and I did my own research and observations feeling the cold in my stomach grow and harden. Ken grabs my hand: “Sit down please; we are only talking. I am not dismissing what you are saying, only giving you another angle.” He had lets go of my hand, I am embarrassed; we were only talking and I had interrupted him, nearly taking his head off in fact. The old man is gone now; I didn’t see him leave. I sit down. “Sorry Ken, you know I’m….. Sorry, please finish what you were saying”. Ken orders us another cup of coffee; lattes and continued telling me what he has found: ” Kroll Associates alone were in charge of the security of the World Trade Centre; they are a subsidiary of AIG, but worst of all…” He takes a sip of his coffee and wiped his mouth with the crumbled paper serviette, he is making sure my mind isn’t racing ahead, but stays right there with him; taking it all in. “Worst of all – have you heard of Ptech?” Yes, I had; a small Massachusetts-based software company, its software was loaded onto all the main government networks such as FAA, the US Air Force, the US NAVY and NORAD, even the Secret Service, FBI, the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration were and still are as far as I know using it. A couple of the girls from the tattoo parlor next door, walks past us, hoarse grating 85

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voices; they smell of smoke and ink. Ken gives them a quick glance and decides the girls won’t be the slightest interested in our conversation; he continues calmly: ”That’s right, that software, all of it, has a super user access which was employed on 9 11 to thwart military responses to the attack; both FAA and NEADS computer systems failed at the same time!. Ptech is headed by Michael Goff a Zionist.” I feel annoyance rise within me; can’t help it, try to keep my voice down: ” You said it was an insurance job, why are you so damn fixated on the Zionist element? How about the fact that every one of these people are Freemasons? Bush’s family are high-level hardcore Freemasons, all the main people are Freemasons. Have you thought about that?.” I have to pick the boys up; I get up: “I’ve gotta go”. I watch Ken’s face; he looks at me and I can see the domino effect in his mind as he put it all together, as he reaches the part where during world war I, Lusitania the cruise liner that along with its 1200 passengers (mostly women and children, many Americans) was sacrificed to provide and excuse for America to enter the war, I know he has arrived at the same conclusion as me. ”Really?” he said. “Really.” I confirm and kiss my brother on the cheek before leaving him with the spreading cold in his stomach. N.B. Zionism is a political movement; membership not automatic but by choice.

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“No other will than his” Judith Arnopp

‘The queen is dead!’ The knife slipped from the orange and sunk deep into my

hand. There was no pain, not then, just a sharp shock and a string of rubies. I watched the red beads grow into a flood but although tears welled, my tongue was paralysed, my chest tight.

My aunt had her hands to her face and uncle paced the floor, raging against his

king. It was sometime before they noticed the scarlet stain spreading across my skirts and I was whisked away to the stillroom to have the wound dressed by a weeping servant. It was then that the pain began.

I remember watching Queen Anne dance, her golden gown was peppered with

seed pearls and tiny scarlet rubies that leapt and shimmered in the light of the torches. She did not know me, an obscure child from the country but I always remembered that first sight of my cousin. I never forgot her elegance, the quick-witted spark that was to capture a king and disempower a pope. Although I was just a girl I wished so much to be like her. It was impossible to imagine her vitality quenched and I thought of her often, as I think of her now that I am a woman. How did she keep from running mad cooped up in the Tower waiting, day in, day out, for a reprieve? They say that she died well, offering comfort to her ladies, ascending the scaffold steps with decorum and even called down a blessing upon the king before rewarding the executioner in hopes of a swift end. How had she felt, kneeling in her brother’s congealing blood, waiting for the darkness? Did the slicing blade hurt when it fell? 88

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I saw a pig slaughtered in the farmyard once. The butcher struck the sow on the

head before hoisting its prone body up on a rope. He took his knife and slit its throat, the crimson blood pouring forth into a bowl. The blade sliced through the thick rubbery skin like it was butter and when the body was empty, the wound gaped open like a little screaming mouth. The butcher took his cleaver and turned the corpse into chops and sausages but Queen Anne’s body was hastily squeezed into an old arrow chest, her intelligent head tucked beneath her arm. So much for cleverness.

I am not clever and I am not beautiful but I have a way about me, a challenging

manner that turns men into fools. My ladies and I used to laugh as my suitors whipped themselves into a passion of wanting and laid down their lives to possess that which was forbidden. I have not had as many lovers as people claim but I was young and bored. The impotence of my old, sick husband was an embarrassment and I used other men to soothe his lack, although I soon wearied of them and sent them away. There was only one man that I wanted to stay, only one I ever loved … and still love. How we laughed, Tom and I, how innocent our time together and yet how wicked. I longed to be always in his company and could not give him up, even when it became impossible to go on. Poor Tom, he is past both pain and pleasure now. His young body is twisted and broken, lying in an unmarked grave while his head is impaled high upon London Bridge. Does he burn now in hell as the priests assure me? They tell me that if I do not recant I will follow his path to Hades but if I am to die, I do not care that I be in hell so long as Tom is there.

My screaming has stopped now and I am calm. A sound at the door. My confes-

sor comes to lead me to my death. I stand up and we pray together, he marks a cross upon my brow and there are tears balancing on his lashes.

After the dark the February sky is bright. Ravens clamour in the treetops and

I hold up a hand to shield my eyes. People drag off their caps as I pass but I keep my head lowered, watching the priest’s feet flick from beneath his cassock. He is my guide whom I will follow until death. 89

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The scaffold steps are not very steep but I cannot climb them and strong arms steady my trembling and bear me to the top. I stand amazed and look, without seeing, across the sea of strangers that wait on Tower Green. I am not really here. The block is an island in a sea of straw. My ladies are weeping. I clasp their hands to offer comfort but their tears fall all the harder so I turn away. Someone ushers me forward, faces gape upward. They do not know the woman who has come to die, she is just another queen succumbing to King Henry’s will. The people of London are saddened, sickened by more bloodshed. I take a breath, one of my last, and clear my throat.

‘Good people …’ I begin but I cannot think what else to say so I mumble some-

thing about a ‘just and worthy punishment’ and push a bag of coin into the hands of the masked man.

Why did I lie? There has never been anything in my life that is either ‘just’ or

‘worthy.’ I turn to address the crowd again, to rectify some wrongs but hands are pushing me downward and I am on my knees in the straw. It smells of piss and feels slimy beneath my hands. Wetness soaks my petticoats. My hair is pulled back and cold fingers fumble with the blindfold. My world turns dark, the sun slips behind a cloud, making me shiver. I grope for the block, the wood rough and splintered; my mouth gaping, breath rasping, hands shaking …I lower my head … God have mercy, God have mercy! Katherine Howard, 13 February 154

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A sketch of empty air The dance of Tanja RÇťman Jeni Williams

And, finally, all cleaves to a rhythm: the body bends, curves; arms stretch, coil, the eyes unfocused, not here. The sea hushes the dark and all around the sea, again, washes and washes in. . A black box and a gauze screen to frame, hold, dissolve, hold the layered selves, graduated self on self, Kali unpicks singularity, dissolves to nothing. Music like the choked thrusts of a motor. Heartbeats stutter. Movement, a gasp of dark: phosphorescent light slices through the black, fierce busts of light and the absence of light. This dance is not about the body’s weight 91

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or struggle with gravity, not about perfect harmonies of perfect lovers. Here the body becomes graphic, becomes coloured lines, nervous marks left on a screen, musical score captured in a midnight or a blizzard of scratches on black ice. An arm, or a neck, a face in profile – each leaping from the staccato scribble. A leg, turning on a second of time. Faultless, weightless movement, arms decisive in the sweet rounding apple of the air. The body disembodied behind gauze. Stillness. Fixity. Then movement. Again. A Japanese moment of abstraction. Solitary. The brief grace of gesture captures the fleeting motion and repeats ‌ repeats. Stored moments leap through air and through more air, till the body is absorbed by pattern white on black, black on white: estrangement from breath, from flesh. The squeak of the toe in a turn. The model and the artist: body or the outline of body. The hand at rest is what is real, a sketch of empty air, The clean outline of dancer, dance and light. 92

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Finally all must cleave to a rhythm. The sea hushes the dark and all around the sea washes and washes slowly in. In clarity, in distance, the body reappears:

remember me

remember breath

retrace

rewind

remember

not blood but light

not touch but line

balance,

beauty

words

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White Rabbit Charlotte Symons

The insistent panic of the alarm sounds, an aural plumb-line into the depths of my sleep. I groan, wait for Graham to turn it off, then remember he’s gone to Amsterdam and won’t be back till Friday. I move across the bed, hit the snooze button and sink back. The sheets are cool where he has not slept. I close my eyes, will sleep to return for a precious few more minutes. Ridiculous, the way I feel so tired in the mornings. The alarm again. I must have dropped off. This time, after hitting the button, I obey its summons, putting on my slippers and heading for the bathroom. In the harshness of the over-basin light, I confront myself in the mirror. The face that stares back is pale, older than the self I recognise. I go through the usual morning routine – brush my teeth watching my suddenly unfamiliar reflection distrustfully. I dress quickly, absently, mind still lost in the vagaries of sleep. Stirrings in the other room tell me that the quiet won’t last long. Oliver bursts in as I’m pulling on my trousers. He beams at me triumphantly. “I saw your pants, Mummy.” “Yes darling. You shouldn’t really burst into people’s rooms like that,” I say, then wish I hadn’t. The last thing I want is to make him self-conscious, let him lose that impulsive innocence. And I see how his face falls at my words. “It doesn’t matter, dearest,” I say, and lift him into a hug. He is heavy, his weight both a burden and a reassurance, solid in my arms. I rest my mouth against his hair, breathe in the familiar loved smell. His grip around my neck begins to grow painful. I put him down. 94

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Rosie’s bedroom is lit with a subdued gold from the night light: a contained warmth, safe against the grey dawn that snatches at the curtains. As usual, she is still asleep, one hand under the pillow, a strand of hair across her face. I go to wake her, then stop. I have a sudden wish just to sit down on her bed, never to have to leave this soft peace. But we are already late, and at the thought of the battle that still lies ahead, the moment of tenderness is lost. I shake her awake, drag back the curtains with a harsh rattle. She is grumpy to be woken and I respond with an artificial briskness. Together we labour through the process of rising, trying to shave vital minutes from the clock that measures our lives. Oliver has got distracted and is mulling over a book. I chivvy him, dismayed even while I speak at the shrill note in my voice. Marshalling them both, I chase them before me down to the kitchen, juggling in my arms bags, homework and P.E. kit. Breakfast, and the usual conflict of will over which cereal, Rosie determining that the only one which will do is the one we haven’t got. In a window of munching, I manage to down an espresso. The potted geranium on the work-top by the sink has grown tall and leggy from lack of light. Its leaves are yellowing. Etiolated, I think. It has grown etiolated. I feel a perverse pleasure at having been able to put a name to it. “Come on then,” I say, noting the time. They clatter behind me to the front door, where I stuff Rosie into her coat. I look up to check that Oliver is putting his anorak on, and see him heading down the corridor. “Oliver, come on, we’ll be late,” I call after him. “But we haven’t said goodbye to Snowy, Mummy.” “He won’t mind,” I say quickly. “He’s probably still in bed. I don’t think he gets up very early.” “Still asleep?” he echoes uncertainly. “Yes,” I assure him. “I’ll look at him later.” In the car, I put on the radio, let its relentless cheerfulness smother thought. The streets are grey, the colours of the cars, aberrations. I concentrate on finding the way, remembering which turning is which. They all look the same, these city streets, even after three years. Then, the search for the holy grail of a parking space. When I finally have 95

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delivered them both to the school gate and am back in the car, I lie back against the head-rest and close my eyes. If only I didn’t feel, all the time, as if I was moving through a grey fog. My eyes prick with sudden, hot tears, even as I despise my own self-pity. Stupid, I know, when I have what so many would envy. Number one, a husband. Who loves me, I add automatically, trying not to think too long about that one. So much of his time is eaten up by work. But there will come a time, won’t there, when things will be different? When the children are older, when the mortgage is paid off. Two, my beautiful children – surely all anyone could want. Healthy, happy, no more trouble than anyone else’s, by all accounts. One of each, as well. Perfect. And our house, and our life. How many people would give anything to have what we have? Tears run down the side of my nose. I stare out of the window. The car in front is black. It is starting to rain. The fine specks multiply, starring the wind-screen. There is a dandelion growing in the crack between the pavement and the garden wall. A branch of a shrub hangs over the wall, its berries bright as blood. I should get back. There is washing to do. I rummage in my hand-bag for a tissue, dry my face. Automatically, I check myself in the mirror, though why I don’t know. It’s not as though anyone can see me, as if anyone cares. I start the engine, manoeuvre the car out of its space. But once on the road, instead of heading for home, on a whim I turn left and drive to the park. The rain has failed to come to anything, anyway. I find a space to leave the car under the big sycamore tree. When I climb out, there it is, reaching high, skeletal and huge. I lock up, begin to walk towards the wrought-iron gates. It feels strange to be there without the children, as though some familiar encumbrance has dropped away. A sense of freedom, but oddly purposeless. I walk on. The sky above is grey, vast and empty. I feel exposed beneath it – as if there were several layers of skin I forgot to put on when I got up. I hug my cardigan around me, wish I’d bothered to bring a coat. The wind is cold. In front of me is a man walking a dog. The dog has a limp. They are walking very slowly. I don’t want to catch them up, have them watch me as I go past. I sit down on the bench. It is wrought-iron and draws the 96

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warmth from my body like some dead thing, hungry for life. This world is not mine. I am not strong enough. I should go on. Sitting here will solve nothing. The duck-pond, that’s where we go when I’m with the children. I don’t know what else there is here. I get up, take the sandy path that winds between banks of shrubbery. You can tell when you’re getting near. Scraps of feathers litter the ground beneath the bushes, tired snowflakes left beyond their time. Today I can hear an excited gabble of quacks. Someone must be feeding them. It’s an old lady in a too-big coat, a supermarket carrier dangling from her wrist. She reaches in to her bag, flings out handfuls of old crusts like a fairy-tale queen giving largesse to the peasants. Instead of a crown, a crochet hat that looks like she made it out of a lifetime’s worth of left-over wool scraps. She mutters to herself, though I can’t hear what she says. If I had the children with me, I would have steered them away. As it is, I lean near her on the railings that surround the pool, stare at the dirty water, flecked with feathers. The ducks circle, quacking with excitement, throwing themselves after each scattered handful. The rhythm is interrupted. I look over. She has reached the end of the bag, roots around now for the last scraps. She shakes it out, showering the ducks with crumbs, then turns to me with a beaming smile. Oh, God, she’s going to speak to me. Too late, our eyes have met. “Lovely day,” she croaks. My face cracks into an automatic smile. “Yes, isn’t it?” And then she is gone, hobbling off towards the cafe. For a mad moment, I even consider following, buying us an ice-cream. But I retrace my steps, heading back to the car. The day seems to have settled – the sky is lightening – the wind, less cold. I get home, shut the door behind me. The house is quiet. I listen to the silence, draw in a deep breath. One of Oliver’s wellingtons has toppled over. I pick it up, putting it neatly beside its twin. Then I remember, I’d promised to check his rabbit. I go downstairs, open the door to the utility room, rechristened, since his arrival, as Snowy’s room. He doesn’t 97

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need food, at least. A good helping of organic munchy rabbit mix is still in his bowl. He must be asleep, and I smile, remembering our conversation of earlier. I open the cage, lift the lid on his little house, see his white body lying in the straw. Only when I touch him, do I realise. I lift him, hold him limp in my arms.

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Your skin Chris Cornwall

Your Skin, oh God your skin. I would wish but nothing for to gorge ‘pon the sight. Oh! Your skin. To drip you with oil. To see that soused gloss bead onto you and your feet, To rub them with oil And watch the arms slide dewy ‘cross the torso, Drizzled with light aureate tacking As alone the air melts the butter of your skin, Whilst in all it bakes the sun-softened hay of your head. The flesh the bread, and hot. Slicked in a room damp with dark, Fumed and pricked with yellow light. Or more to lick this clean. Or more to sit and stare.

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But oh still for your skin to sit dry, Pressed over and firm through the slight and curve of your chest. All in the company of dry sun, bright and chalky ‘gainst the water and vibrance of flowers and forna. Lashings of blood. Your skin wrapped tighter in the light of day, Over your recumbent body lying in parted grasses, Spun about with colours and bending with heavy of the memory of the morning’s dew. All the vibrance of the grass that frays your outline holds no distraction for my eye, For your skin and its milky pastures hold lakes of tenderness for my tired body to lean to for soak, Your skin warm and sweet, Against my ears and cheek. White and lashings of blood.

Your eye will remain lost in’tween the soft bristlings of green; From the dust bridging sharply onto you nose and ground turned cheek and poking, with fondness and marvel, at your beauty. And at the middle. That small twine of skin, that dent of peel, that coil of flesh was tapped lightly to the centre of the warm belly; encircled by tender and balmy film that was the perfect skin. Your skin, Oh God your skin! The crushed blades under your back should writhe and tickle With awe at you, skin. And with your eye the lips of tulips And poppies should grow sticky and sweet to compare. 100

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And miles above the trees, the leaf whorl’n air should swoop to below Or under the boughs of cherry So as that the birds may watch at you and sing; “For you are so fair in blood and bone.” All the afterglow of your sun soaked skin drew pale blue one evening As the twilight drew dusk from under the shadows Of your dusty hairs And the dusk drew night from the moonlight bruising That would will frost upon you body . I did then wish to stare at you until, then through the dawn and the light, I thought, would kiss rosy ‘pon your legs and thighs and your skin. And blushes on the wall of a cave. Light trickles out and in. But that perfect skin would be rendered leathered by not ship-wreck, Not war And death cannot grope it. Not made less radiant or resplendent by the bitterness in hate from man or beast. Never would it be deplete of beauty in the face of any void. I love it. And all that I can explore. Mother skin. Your skin, Oh God your skin. The very truth of skin.

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The Authors

Judith Arnopp graduated from the University of Wales, Lampeter with a BA in English Literature and a Masters degree in Medieval Studies; she now combines those skills to write historical novels. Her first novel, Peaceweaver, was published in November 2009 and her second, The Forest Dwellers, will be available soon. For more information: http:// www.juditharnopp.com Chris Bendon was born in 1950. He lives in Lampeter. He is a widely published poet whose most recent work (3 volumes) is published by Saltsburg University Press. He is the winner of the WWF/Guardian Prize – judged by Ted Hughes and Peter Redgrove and The Hugh MacDiaramid memorial Trophy. Torben Betts is an award-winning English playwright. Works include: The Unconquered, Best New Play 2007 Critics Award for Theatre in Scotland (Tron/Traverse/Arcola/Britsoff-Broadway); A Listening Heaven, nominated for Best New Play at the 2001 TMA Awards (Edinburgh Royal Lyceum); Lie of the Land, nominated for Edinburgh Fringe First Award 2008 (Edinburgh Pleasance/Arcola); Clockwatching (Orange Tree Theatre); The Company Man (Orange Tree Theatre); The Biggleswades (Southwark Playhouse); Five Visions of the Faithful (Edinburgh Festival); The Lunatic Queen (Riverside Studios); 102

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The Error of Their Ways (HERE Arts Center New York); The Swing of Things (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough) Samuel Brenton is a poet and performer who lives in London. He is Author of ‘The Honky’s Guide to Wet Dreams’ (Barque Press), Telephone Voices (Cambridge Poetical Histories), co-author of the book ‘Shooting People: Adventures in Reality TV’ (Verso), and has published his poems in various publications. Audio recordings of his poetry and other sonic performance pieces can be found on his website at www.samuelbrenton.net. Chris Cornwell I am a poet whose focus for the last few years has been on the inscape of apophatic phenomena and attempting to enrich the philosophical project that is present in the poetic landscape. Max Dunbar was born in London in 1981. He recently finished a full-length novel and his short fiction has appeared in various print and web journals. He also writes criticism for 3:AM and Butterflies and Wheels. He blogs at http://maxdunbar.wordpress.com/.Max Dunbar lives in Manchester and can be contacted on max.dunbar@gmail.com. Gary Geddes has written and edited more than 35 books of poetry, fiction, drama, nonfiction, criticism, translation and anthologies and won a dozen national and international literary awards, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, Americas Region, the National Poetry Prize, the Poetry Book Society Recommendation, the Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence, and the Gabriela Mistral Prize from Chile, awarded simultaneously to Vaclav Havel, Octavio Paz, Rafael Alberti, Ernesto Cardenal and Mario Benedetti. His most recent books are Swimming Ginger, Falsework, Skaldance and Kingdom of Ten Thousand Things: An Impossible Journey from Kabul to Chiapas. He lives on a small island on the west coast of Canada.

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Alison Greig is a New Zealander living in Austria, and studying for an MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology (MACAA) via distance learning at the Sophia Centre, University of Wales Trinity St. David. Alison has visited pilgrimage sites around the world, due to her interest in spirituality and sacred geography. Her recent visit to Wales inspired this poem. She wrote her first poem at 7 years of age and hopes to write that well again with practice. Avril Jacques read English at Reading University and obtained her PGCE in Drama Teaching and Humanities. She worked for many years in Secondary Schools and Theatre in Education before moving into teaching in Adult Community Colleges. She is currently in her second year of the MA in Creative Writing at Trinity St David’s. Gemma Jones is a highly respected and popular actress both on stage and screen. She first came to prominence in the 1970’s BBC television drama ‘The Duchess of Duke Street’ but is probably best known for her role as Bridget’s Mother in the films 0f ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’. Some of Gemma’s short stories have been heard on BBC radio in the series ‘Unpublished Shorts’. Gemma lives in London but shares a family home in Mid Wales where her Grandfather was a lead miner. Daniel King’s poetry and prose has appeared in various publications around the world, such as The London Magazine, FourW, and Poetry Salzburg Review. His collection of stories, Memento Mori, won the most recent “IPPicks” prize run by Queensland’s Interactive Publications; see http://ipoz.biz/Titles/MM.htm. His next book will be a magical realist detective novel, Datura Highway. He lives in Western Australia. James Luchte is Lecturer of Philosophy and Programme Coordinator of the MA in European Philosophy at the University of Wales, Trinity St. David, in Wales. His other publications include Early Greek Thought: Before the Dawn, The Peacock and the Buffalo: The Poetry of Nietzsche (translator), Pythagoras and the Doctrine 104

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of Transmigration, Heidegger’s Early Philosophy: The Phenomenology of Ecstatic Temporality, Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra: Before Sunrise (editor), Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason: A Reader’s Guide (all Continuum). He has also published numerous articles on various topics in European Philosophy. Sue Moules - A graduate in English (1979) from St David’s University College, Lampeter. Her poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies including Poetry Wales, New Welsh Review and Planet.Her most recent poetry collections are The Earth Singing (Lapwing) 2010, In The Green Seascape (Lapwing) 2009,and Mirror Image (Headland),a joint collection with Norma E.Jones . Alan Perry is a poet, painter and short story writer living in Swansea. His two most recent books are Dreaming from North to South: New and Selected Poems (2006) and Days of the Comet: New and Selected Stories (2007), both published by Moonstone Press. His poems currently feature in the Library of Wales anthology Poetry 1900-2000: One hundred poets from Wales. In a recent review Herbert Williams referred to him as “an underrated Welsh treasure.” Charlotte Symons is in her third year of a BA in English with Creative Writing at the University of Wales, Lampeter. She started writing in 2001 and has since written a novel which she intends to try and get published when she feels sufficiently brave to cope with all the rejection slips. She is trying to maintain momentum on her second, but Leonard Cohen and a nice cup of tea are good distractions. TrustoCorp: If you want to keep up with these folks go to www.trustocorp.com or check out more images at: http://www.flickr.com/groups/trustocorp/pool/ Al Verey is a Lampeter graduate now reading for a PhD in Creative Writing at Aberystwyth. He’s been published in the Spectator and various university outfits. He 105

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wrote his MA dissertation on Charles Bukowski but is currently in love with Tomaz Salamun. Jeni Williams teaches literature and creative writing in Trinity Saint David. Her poetry has appeared in magazines including New Welsh Review, Agenda, New Writing, The London Magazine, Poetry Wales, Orbis and Planet. Her first full collection Being The Famous Ones was published last year by Parthian. In addition to writing poetry, Jeni is a cultural critic writing on a wide range of subjects from dialectology to contemporary art. Her published work includes Sideways Glances, a groundbreaking book on Welsh art and she was the contributing editor of Fragments from the Dark: Women Writing Home and Self in Wales (Hafan). Maggi Williams was born in Copenhagen in 1965, she became a apprentice Art Director with Leo Burnett at the age of sixteen and three years later moved to Madrid where she worked with agencies such as JWT, Young and Rubicam, Saatchi and Saatchi and many others; producing specialized, film, illustrations and photography for advertising and presentations. Ten years later she moved to Brighton where she studied Law and met her husband and had two children and moved to a mountain in Wales. At this moment in time she is working on a radio play and a screen play (both fiction) and is doing her final dissertation for an MA in Creative and Script Writing at Lampeter University. Other subjects she writes about include, but are not limited to Nutritional Medicine, and Law. Her aspiration is to teach. Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch has published two collections of poems, the second of which (‘Not in These Shoes’, Picador 2008) was shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2009. She is currently working on her third collection and teaches one day a week at UW Trinity Saint David.

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The Lampeter Review - Issue 2