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Vaaho-vaaho

Website: http://miracleezine.wix.com/miracle-e-zine E-mail: miracle.ezine@yahoo.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Miracle.ezine Twitter: https://twitter.com/Miracleezine

Editor Poetry Editor

Marketing Manager

Guntaj Arora Kieran Rundle Steven Fortune Ria Abbott Christie Suyanto Bruno Cooke Elizabeth Gibson Olga Kolesnikova Natasha Pasch Genny Rushton Givens Julie Stanley

Cover Art Designer

Emilie Bedard Guntaj Arora

Fiction Editor Assistant Editors

Disclaimer: Matter published in ‗Miracle ‗Magazine is the work of individual writers who guarantee it to be their own work. No matter of this magazine should be reproduced without the permission of the editor.

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―The myth must be kept alive. The people who keep it alive are the artists of some or the other kind‖ -Joseph Campbell

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& an Ancient cage. 4


The birds have been freed, the lights have consumed the darkness of the dungeons and the age old language has painted the pillars with their night stories. Welcome to the Cage issue everyone! It gives me great pleasure to announce that Miracle has completed TWO GIANT YEARS! We all have had two wonderful years filled with love of literature and art and I‘m glad, that I have been able to share my journey with you all. Miracle has grown so much since its initial issues and the magazine is being distributed all around the world today! I want to take this moment and thank all the contributors, readers and admirers of Miracle for making it what it is today. We had a beautiful birthday this year with a lot of new stuff happening. We launched the Miracle blog which is exclusively being introduced for our past contributors. In the coming months, we will be having a lot of fun activities on the blog and we all will be working together to promote literature. Also, we have the ―Celebration‖ themed anthology contest open for submissions right now and you can find more information on it inside the magazine. The cage issue is filled with a lot of cage based poetry and stories and I‘m happy the way this issue has turned out. We always love going through themed based works and this time, we received a lot of them. We have also interviewed the talented spoken word artist , Joelle Taylor, and I hope you will be inspired by her. Well, it is time for you to see it for yourself. Go inside and decipher the stories of the cage. It‘s all yours!

guntajarora@ymail.com twitter: @guntajarora 5


The Open Cage

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F F

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Poetry By: Nate Maxson, Grant Tarbard, Betty Doyle, Emily Webb, Dane Cobain, Glen Armstrong, Emeniano Acain Somoza. Jr., Kaye Linden, Gabriel Desmar, Niloufar-Lily Soltani, Barrett Sites, Katie Allen, Christopher Barnes, Fabiyas M V, Lauren Ebanks, Jonny Wiles, Kate Tattersfield, Steve Klepetar, Ernest Slyman, Cheryl A. Van Beek, David Flynn, Harvey O‘Leary, Phillip Larrea. Jeff Bell, Fern G. Z. Carr, John Casquarelli, Colin Honnor, Shelby Stephenson, Sneha Sundaram, Morgan Downie, Katie Hibner, Philip O‘Neil, Laura Stamps, Genny Rushton-Givens, Vinita Agarwal, B.T. Joy, LeAnn Bjerken, Anne Tammel, Shloka Shankar, Sheree Mack, Daniel Bowman, Mary Carroll Hackett, Olga Kolesnikova, Steven Fortune

Short Fiction By: Ho Cheung Lee (Peter), Kate Tattersfield, Marie H. Mittmann, Kaye Linden, Andrew Pei

Art By: Roger Leege, Chiang Pinnkey, Sheri Wright

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M MYTH #25

In a spinning sea of pitch waves lit only by strange glowing fish On a tiny little island turning round and round There lived A woman and a man They didn‘t know how they got there A spider ran across the floor It didn‘t bite either one of them Because it knew

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Richard Fond of this toning you begin to get the favours, muscle stick grand and

The showmanship of the Holy Roman Empire to back the Fox on its live liberties, Putting on a dazzling spectacle is easy once you believe Like magic in a piffling amount of among you smoke, of lighting effects; poof! He is resurrected. On the near aid from somewhere about the lowlands where the screech owl keeps mindful Watch, he said "let it be done" and there was a whole maze to hack, there was A lion undone at the city of Jerusalem, what's there to be done? Freaks in heavy armour Circling civilian would-be corpses; it won't be long now. They won't be resurrected.

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Z Salute Mortem 1. There is no art without risk, the safe dogs are unholy howling about their business in the lemon linoleum corridors of these jilted brain waves that form a knitting pattern herd, leaving the meat 2. The poet is a wolf with all senses attuned to the static charge Making out a song in these unsteady ripples, a chord progression 3. If there's something to find within a flock of sheep it'll take a wolf to claim it and root through the entrails

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G

Last Night I Dreamt That Someone (Maybe You) Loved Me

G G

Kiss me under a join-the-dots sky, under cracks and spy-holes

In the roof, until the sands of the desert grow cold; with a gritty Northern mouth, poetry softly spoken in the creases of those lips – Kick me in a corner when you‘re done. Sweat drips like dying stars, darkness rolls in a sweet tide that promises to wipe out all the hurt, rub us new like polished glass. Darkness comes with a bang, it claps out my senses, it helps me sleep at last. There‘s something dangerous, poisonous Hidden in the folds of a leather jacket, tucked in the deep shadows of a sleepless night – Sagging pouches under the eyes and a cigarette rasp of a real man – That drags girls from their beds and into another, onto a different lover. There‘s something there I don‘t want to put my finger on, Like a spindle, a pin prick: it splinters quick, It leaves me young and unknown, dancing in a dreamland, a sleepy Heaven with a prince. It leaves me with a high fever, gasping for that fear, that rush of nuclear-white electricity sparking up my fingertips, arcing through my spine. I fell out of bed three times when I was thinking of you; As we ran through the docks and over train tracks, slipping through the double rainbow gasoline puddles. You held my hand in secret – at least, I think you did, Behind your back with your fingers crossed.

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Q P

An anchor You drew an I ♼U on my trouser leg. You linked the letters so it looked more like a Popeye tattoo. I let you because these trousers are old and, as you say, it‘ll probably come out in the wash.

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o

Anxiety is yellow

P As if a MasterChef is training in your chest, coagulating salted caramel peanut brittle , and you glued to the TV watching it dry. Crystals erupt into sugar-lava you know would eventually kill you. The sofa exercises its uncanny gravitational pull. You feel volcanic. The salt cellar‘s popped its top and bittered the mixture, pulling sea-sweet tides through your lungs until you cannot breathe. Slowly it cools as you calm, solidifying fatty round your heart. The nutty shards nestle in their little bayonets. You hope the chef will light the gas beneath and melt the whole lot back into your camouflaging blood where it mostly flows unnoticed.

Q P

But instead he follows the recipe. You refrigerate in the living room on a timer, waiting for a sweettoothed saviour to cut you open and crunch your heart right up, shaking from the rush.

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Data Loss

M y

ou want to drive a man crazy, format his hard drive – we are all one and this datum surrounds and defines us, we are one hive mind that bows to insane demands, destroy every shred of evidence a man ever lived and he is truly gone forever. Never trust writers who burn journals because books are sure to follow and men follow books and gods follow men and I am all for music and love and rock and roll and all my friends are friendly, the generation pouring more data in to the world every two days than was created until 2008. We define our own futures. This is only the beginning.

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Destroyer Once you‘ve been labeled a destroyer, you just sort of let the shadows‘ denser gravity welcome you. There‘s a bathrobe and a small bed and a book that makes destroying seem like more of a process, as predictable in its way as sharpening pencils. Many of us started life as clusters of stars or children whose pants didn‘t fit. Our parents had limited resources. We were the ones who never spoke; everyone was a stranger. We banged our heads against the summer breeze, the contents of each empty box. In between episodes of annihilation we picked at the skin around our fingernails. We tried to make eye contact.

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No one expected an apology, but they needed to see us squirm. We were broken, lonely gods and had to acknowledge those we‘d remade, those we‘d torn apart to camouflage our cage.

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Z Language of Sharp Objects

Languishing in desuetude Scintilla of smooth, or youth, dulling. Are you still right-handed? Because I can make the onion fall to the right‌ There are shopping carts Whisked away in corners Among stubborn standees, Shelf-talkers. These marketing geniuses Tongue-tied, stunned By their own expectations

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Theme Column

The Body 18


E

dna was imprisoned—she had been all her life. It was a simple condition of existence itself, and the other prisoners around her seemed not to question the fact that they too were confined inescapable cells. It had always troubled Edna, the way her cell kept her from other human beings. The closest she‘d ever come to another person was when the walls of their cells touched. She could only see out of hers through two tiny, round little points, and she could only hear anything of the outside world through two holes on opposite sides of her prison. She felt deprived and alone. Anything she did was done with the acute awareness that she was trapped within this perfectly personal and specifically catered cell. The others may have been conditioned to accept their prisons, but Edna‘s sole form of defiance was to remember—constantly remember—that she was trapped within a body. Edna could not have imagined a worse prison. This one was so small, it took every inch of it just to contain her. She had tried, at first, to push past it and beyond it, hoping that if she grew faster than it could contain her, the body would burst and set her free. Instead, it grew with her. She‘d made an admirable effort at first, doubling in size in just three years‘ time, but her resolve weakened and her stamina gave out. Twenty years after she had initially been locked in it, Edna forfeited the notion of growing out of it. All she had to show for her efforts were some stretch marks on the body‘s thighs—battle scars from the war it had won. Any other cage would have been preferable. If she had been trapped behind bars or within bricks she could have at least attempted file away or tunnel out. Within her body, she could affect no means of escape without using the body itself. Yet, even if she had been in a prison that was impenetrable, she could have thrown herself against the wall, rattled the bars, or pounded on the ground in an act of defiance. This was not possible within the body, as any time it experienced aggression, it made Edna suffer for it—even if she was not at fault. Edna was not even allowed the dignity of wallowing in her prison. She had been locked in the body with the responsibility of caring for it. It was someone‘s twisted sort of humor, she thought, that had placed her in cage that would decay dangerously around her if she did not tend to it herself. She did not know what she was being punished for, but her imprisonment was laborious in itself. She had dedicated most of her life

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just to preserving her prison so that it would not collapse in on her. Eight hours of every day she had to lie it down, and during that time her mind hardly seemed like her own, although she did appreciate being able to see and hear things aside from what the body showed her. She could speak, too, without the help of the body‘s lips, and do most everything she wanted to do. When the body was lying down, Edna almost felt free. Inevitably, this part of its maintenance would end though. She could pretend as though it was in its lying down state and keep it physically in that position well after the maintenance had ended, but of course she was fully aware of the body once again. In time, it would force her into action, demanding that she fill it up or empty it out in someway. She was always filling it up or emptying it out; the whole process seemed so utterly futile, as if designed to mock her. If Edna wanted any evidence for how evil the body was, all she had to do was look at the nice sweet and lovely things it demanded she procure for it, and what it turned those things into. Oh, the body rewarded her for her efforts, true…but it was a paltry excuse for kindness. It let her experience flavor, but only after she had gone to all the effort to give it sustenance. And, as often as not, it demanded nutrients found in foods that were repulsive to Edna. The fleeting sensation she knew as deliciousness was a disproportionately small aspect of life within the body. It was a leaky prison as well. It seemed that all of the body was always too dry or too moist. The skin of the hands withered like unpainted wood, and the mouth routinely welled up with saliva like a house out in the swamp, constantly flooded by the marsh. Edna resented how often she had to swallow just to keep the body‘s mouth from leaking. Then, of course, there was the way in which its nose would drip like a faulty facet any time she came too close to fur-covered bodies of cats. Her eyes did the exact same thing, only when she herself was under emotional duress or near onions…a combination which Edna had never been able to make sense of. There was very little the body was capable of besides the basic functions it needed to take care of itself. It wasn‘t any fun at all. What little fun there was to be reaped from the body always came at a price. Edna had found out that any part of her body that was remotely interesting usually ended up bleeding profusely. This was a lesson she had learned in childhood after the body‘s feet discovered roller-skates and the body‘s knees discovered asphalt, but it had been further exemplified by experiences later in her life as well.

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Edna felt as though she was living in a house of cards. She could not so much as breathe without feeling the walls of her prison expand and contract around her. The slightest accident could totally dismantle the whole thing, and leave her buried under the rubble of it. Edna fought hard, but there was no hope for it. Her hunger strikes went well, until the body forced its hunger on her consciousness. She tried to deprive it of sleep, but eventually the body overpowered her, willing itself into unconsciousness. There was no battle against it that she could win. She had learned, from other prisoners, that to cut any part of the body it would inflict pain on her, or otherwise regenerate effortlessly. She alternated between hacking away at all its hair and nails, and leaving them to grow. She did not know which, if either, would be seen as the defiant act that it was meant to be. No, the only substitutive way to rebel against the body was to mortally wound it, but if she had embarked on that siege, the victory would have been purely Pyrrhic. Realizing the futility of defiance, she painted the long nails that grew over the tender tips of the body‘s fingers and tried to make it feel like home. She didn‘t like it though, and she suspected she would only loathe it more as it aged and decayed. Yet, she was stuck in it. What was an identity for so many others, would never seem anything more than a cage to the consciousness that knew itself as Edna.

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Q P

100 word quibble in B Flat A prose poem

Rain saturates my B flat mood. I face the corkboard, rip ―post- its‖ until white paper sticks to my body like colorless candy floss. ―A waste of time,‖ I whisper to the wall and wonder what I should write on my tombstone. ―The dog died first and didn‘t care whether he walked the extra mile.‖ In the Rapture our poems will fly away, talent vanished… I am a mad woman, shredding papers, rewriting, fat waistline sugared and plumped. The thrill is gone— the thrill of the write, the hunt for the thrill. My tombstone might read: ―the thrill is gone, but my laundry‘s finally done.‖

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Sea lions and dogs Sitting on a concrete bench square In a small town, the kind with sea Receipt by the green waters the sea breeze, That brings extensive flavorings seas and foams. The sound of the waves is heard crisp on the sand, An eternal dialogue waters long beaches, As seagulls pluck water, In a routine repeated since who knows when. Dogs swimming in the sea run through the sand, Bark at the sea lions swimming very mint them Dogs are admitted with their feet in the waves, And the sea lions are close, almost swimming in the sand.

P

Q

Curious viewed from two different worlds, And their strange encounters repeated day after day, Just to look, without exceeding its limits, And return time and other time, only to find. Late afternoon with ocher on the horizon, Birds pass over me with his wings motionless, And everything starts to go off on this big stage, By the sea, sand, these sea lions and the dogs.

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J Knocking at your Door Someone is knocking at your door. A woman, She has lived in two centuries. She carries a heavy knapsack, full of papers, notebooks, and stories her hip scarf, her dance shoes, and her make-up kit, She polishes her toes peach, And her lipstick is nude- pink. Many years ago, She escaped the death, Prison, buried her son, never feared the storms, and the gunshots around her. It‘s been a long time since those days. She now lives in peace, dances to Abdul Halim, keeps her house warm, Works hard, and buys green sheets and yellow tulips to feel life Nature, And searches for a city where her heart can belong She is knocking at your door She is thirsty and needs water, and she knocks at no door but yours. You can water her with your poems,

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color her world with your art, and make her dance with your music, and revitalize her with your touch. She is knocking at your door She is tired. Her sky is cloudy. She has come a long way to reach you, and she needs no shelter, but yours. She is knocking at your door. You look out your window. and hesitate to open the door. She looks tired, and you think she will make your sky more cloudy You don‘t realize, She is only tired She is only tired. You look around, Wonder what to do, look in to the mirror, no one is knocking at the door. You open the door, And no one is there anymore.

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Statement From The State Department All is well. Please remain calm. American Armed Forces only occupy (insert foreign countries here) in order to preserve American interests, and let it be known here & now that we ain't interested in nothin' that ain't American. The State Department is interested in the United States of America and, what's more, the State Department is interested in the State of the Union in the United States of America. That's why we're called the State Department. (Insert foreign countries here) be damned, the State Department has repeatedly stated and restated that the State of the Union in the United States of America is united by units unifying in unison and unity with stately statements of station and status. No statue of statuesque stature can state that the State Department does not unify and unite the State of the Union in the United States of America to this day. Moreover, we in the State Department have solemnly stated and restated that the State of the Union in the United States of America is just fine as it is right now and we don't want anybody fucking it up. All is well. Please remain calm. It need not be stated, restated, instated, and certainly not reinstated by the State Department that the State of the Union in the United States of America is just fine right now thank you. The subject is making us uncomfortable. We want you to leave now. Please depart State Department. That is all.

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G G

Boredom

G

Flashing glimmers of inspiration,

Soon enough transforming into pessimistic procrastination! Sudden mediocre doldrums, dull to the point of exasperation Brink towards brain-dead madness, weary introspective perspective Should really play detective, inspecting the essential Necessary credentials, aforementioned and questionable. Vacant stare, daydreaming but feeling unsettled Prickled nettles inside, lurch in my stomach urging to exert Actually want to experience pins and needles, extra energy pushed Catalyst to catapult, exalt dormant passions Talents dimly lit, adrift sifting through possibilities Yes, and ultimately avoiding responsibility! Hate that I'm not utilizing my absolute potential Creating antidote anecdotes, secreting secrets Stunted emotional capacity, famished ravenous yet not feasting upon Woeful writer's block, wordsmith wordplay- so take stock drink that barrel No surround sound, alone crying with boredom in this crowd Close to thinking aloud, lost ideas instead found jeers Disappearances, vanishing occupied mentality. 27


Virus In Transit Yerokhin‘s petulant, sniffing, Stalwart, aching since ditching Snailham‘s B&B. “Health tourism suggests that some visits to the UK Are motivated by a free stay in hospital” Tobacco-pouch hustles. An ordered meal, faintly prodded. “Sightseeing and holiday snaps In waiting rooms” Forehand clots goad nausea. “Potential policies that are being discussed” Bed-socks, no snores to drowse. “Despite the wide-ranging figures” Tussling the sick-list till sun-up. Writing. “Concerns on public health grounds” * Adult Day Saver METRO Start Date: 01 August 13 Time: 8.30 From: West Jesmond Price: £3.50 01 Aug 13 A&B 86663 This Side Up. Not Transferable. QUOTES: Mona Chalabi

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Midnight M

y name is Carol Kim. I am ten and I like dolls and things in pink. This is my first trip to Europe. I like this hotel, it‘s spacious and old. The carpet has an ancient Roman tiling pattern and I enjoy the creak from the wooden boards when people walk. It is like going back in time. I was with my parents but they must‘ve had some urgent matters to attend to and they drove to town. They would be back before midnight, they said. This hotel isn‘t called ―Kreep‖ for nothing (though of course I know it was named after Roger K. Kreep, the man who built it in the last century). This place always arouses people‘s imaginations. There has been a story going on that, sixty years or so ago, a family from Malaysia stayed here for a week. There were three people, the parents and the child. People can‘t recall the name of the child. All they are saying is that the child, who I assumed was a boy, tricked his parents by hiding himself and the parents thought he was lost in the hotel. They searched the entire hotel for him and searched all over the city. But he was nowhere to be found. Some say that he just ran away. I don‘t know. But some say that they still see him around, wearing his white pajamas, and a pale white face, bloodshot eyes, muddy fingers and so on. People just imagine too much. And these days, some even come up with pranks to remind people of this old tale, as if they really have nothing better to do. My goodness! For the last few days I have seen a group of men and women doing something on the seventh floor, very close to my room. This is what they did: they put some Halloween make-up on a boy, with bruises and stuff, and put him in the middle of the long corridor. The other people hid themselves in a corner where the emergency exit was. The boy just put on a zombie look and stood like a wrecking tree,

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waiting for a passerby (a victim, to be precise) to turn around the corner or simply pass by. I wanted to laugh every time when I saw the expressions of the passersby. What on earth were those adults thinking? Were they paid to do it? I don‘t know. I just know that those being scared were not paid to give out that profound expression of shock. God bless them. A middle-aged couple appeared around the corner. They turned and saw the ghostly boy. The wife jumped and the husband leapt three steps forward before the woman ran after him. And there was another woman passing by. She saw the boy‘s look and screamed out from top of her throat. She immediately stepped back. Good gracious! The boy went into hiding in the other corner, so that when the lady took another peek, all she saw was a deserted corridor. What could be worse than to see a ghost in the place where you are staying? But the most frightening one was an old man, wearing a suit and a decent blue silk tie. He walked around the corner and saw the boy standing. The man hesitated for a moment, but he showed no sign of fear. He just stood there, staring at the weird figure who eyed him back with a soulless look. The man then smiled, as if he recognized him. He waved at the child and did the gesture of a cross in the air. Then, coolly, he walked away. The frightening thing was that he must have been comfortable in the belief that this hotel is haunted, and he did not question whether it was all fake. In my opinion, he really had seen him before. Those people played the same prank for three days, for one hour each day, all starting at midnight. I overheard their conversations as they rehearsed or set things up. It was rumoured among them that the missing Malaysian child had been staying on this floor. They said the police later found his body in the bathroom. Whether he was drowned or strangled or killed in some other way was uncertain. But definitely he did not hide himself from his mum and dad. Or, he tried to do so but failed. These people‘s version of the story was that he was beaten up by his very cruel, monstrous mum and dad, for some unknown reason. But no matter what that reason was, it may have been better to have died than to live with those who would murder their own child. I saw the group of people leave with the boy on a Friday. I met them in the lobby. They seemed to be carrying boxes and machines of some kind. At some point, the boy looked back and saw me. I just gave him a somewhat insulted look for what he had been doing to people. He quickly turned away and grabbed the woman‘s sleeve, as if telling

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her that I had done something to him. I dodged out of sight at once. On second thoughts, it was the adults‘ fault, not his. Anyway, I don‘t think we will meet again. And now I am here, back in this cold corridor, trapping the smell from the last century. I am standing where that boy stood. In the distance there is a wall with a flowery China plate sitting on a wellcrafted wooden table. People may pass by any second. Many people have. I am still clutching the grayish doll I was given by my mother. My pink dress has faded in colour, still dripping wet. My bare feet seem too numb to feel the new carpet. I always have the dream of the deep water. I slipped and hit my head against the tap so hard that I was muted. I got pulled down into the bottomless tub. Every time when I wake up from the bath of water, I come out here, standing at this spot where I last saw my parents. Why did they leave me? They promised to come back before midnight. And I listen for them. I wait right here every night at this hour. Waiting. I just want to go home. I miss Malaysia.

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Kallu’s Delivery

Q P

Q

She has never been exposed to the expensive tests of the hypocritical hospitals. She chooses the underneath of a mango tree. Bright rays fall downas though from the lamp in a delivery roomthrough the gaps in the canopy of leaves. Kallu, my mom‘s pet goat lies on the dry sand. Her neck stretches till the South Pole. And her back legs bend like the bows. Murmur of leaves is heard instead of a midwife‘s whisper. A soft bleat rises now like the shoot of life. Kallu‘s tongue vacuums all the stains of an old sin. Broken umbilical cord hangs like a symbol of separation. Finally, a lump of inner dirt gushes out and peace enters in.

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Paper Butterfly This soul is tarnished. This mind is marked. Silver wings dipped in boiling water and turned to paper. How does paper last so long? How does something so weak stay strong when it has been torn and used? Strength, it seems, is not measured by lack of wounds. Paper butterflies are thrown by the wind and bruised. Shattered, cracked, melted, burnt; scarred like an aged warrior from a long lost world. But these scars are invisible beneath the ink that litters the crinkled surface. Paper butterflies are guides for the minds of the weak. They lead the dishevelled and broken ones like lights glinting in a graveyard. Their wide eyes search for the soft glints in the dark. Each rescued spirit leaves a word. A winding line of glistening rainbow ink draping in arches. A signature, a sign of love. A symbol of the lives she touches, a mark of affection. The wounded paper wings are not feeble. They are a bridge. They are an escape rope. They are a letter to the world. A warning. Delicate and agile, soft and reassuring. But they can slice like the sharpest blade.

P

Q P

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Z Apples, Poems Yes, I am guilty of writing poems that are not finished, as I am guilty of seeing a fat red apple hanging oh so heavy on its bough and I snatch at it and CHOMP and it is bitter. But the half a second or thereabouts (who cares really) between the first fine feel of its skin and the lock-and-load click of my teeth against its unripe coreYes, well, that is very much

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G G

Id

G

I have a sort of condition of the kind that makes me look at things and say good god or well isnâ€&#x;t that something, and then I catch myself; elseesque, as with a painted parasol or a gun or different hair. And I stop moving, and I have fallen smack in the middle of the arse-end of something else.

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At Ca d‘Zan

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YF J

Stasis Framed faces Make judgements With two black discerning eyes Spots of black matter Poised above the thousands Who meander And trudge through Life‘s pithy matter Austere poised brow Furrowed by light years of reasoning And intellectual play Is honed in And preserved by Acute chemical combinations of Old and new A culmination Of experience bears down Upon transient witnesses Burdening them momentarily With the guilt accumulated Across a centuries of policy Plotting Protest And cracked pursed lips reveal the subplot

Spilling secrets across the page

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Poetry Contests

101

The thought of putting my work out in the world to be read by people who knew more about writing than I do really daunted me once, and despite shyly posting half-finished poems on Facebook Notes and Wattpad, the thought of submitting to an actual magazine or contest was way too intimidating. My English teacher would explain to me two years later how these contests work and how they can help writers, and soon enough, the nerves went down and I found myself clicking the send button for six of my poems for the 2013 Foyles Young Poet Competition. Even though I didn‘t make it to the Top 100 that year (or the year after that), the whole process of writing, redrafting and submitting to editors and judges introduced me to a whole new area of the writing world,

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which gave me the starting knowledge that I need to become a more experienced competitor. Why should I join a poetry contest? Joining writing contests can be a challenging but rewarding activity for any writer out there. It can help you explore different writing styles or further develop the styles that you already feel confident in. These contests are formed out of pure appreciation for the craft and for the intention of creating better writers. You won‘t be stepping into an uncharted place where your work will be torn to pieces. Instead, you will be working with people who are also in love with writing, and are there on the other end of the line to help guide you along. Winning or even being commended in a poetry contest can give your writing credentials a boost. When future readers (or publishers!) read your biography, they will see that you are a confident writer and will make you look good and experienced. And even if your submission gets rejected, it‘ll be okay. That doesn‘t mean you‘re a terrible writer, it just means that you could either be one more revision session closer to reaching your work‘s perfect form or that it‘s not particularly what they are looking for, so, either way, poetry contests can always offer you something helpful and beneficial of your time and effort. Which poetry contests should I submit to? As soon my English teacher (Hi Naz!) introduced me to The Poetry Society

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(http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/) and subsequently the Young Poets Network (http://www.youngpoetsnetwork.org.uk/), I have constantly been getting useful and usually entertaining information about the world of poetry and what current opportunities are out there. The Poetry Opportunities page on the Young Poets Network‘s network is usually a great place to start looking, as they advertise contests made by people who are just as enamoured by language as you are. There are also several poetry e-zines and literary websites that offer poetry contests of all kinds (Miracle usually has a few going on all the time!). Along with contests, you can also search for magazine opportunities for writing submissions, writing groups or even other opportunities such as becoming part of the magazine or contest‘s staff, so be sure to check as much as you can so you don‘t miss anything you might like! Which poetry contests should I not submit to? If you encounter an ad for submitting to a poetry contest and your instincts tell you that there might be something wrong, then it‘s really worth not to entertain it than risking your work. It‘s better to be safe than sorry. Here are a few pointers to look out for to tell whether a poetry contest is a scam:  If they offer a huge prize for winning (I read an article once where the prize for ―winning‖ was around a thousand dollars).  Receiving too much praise for your work; if part of winning means instant recognition or representation by agents, beware.  If there is no way to find if the contest has any past winners or candidates who have been specially commended. Which of my poems should I submit? Most poetry contests out there will ask for a specific theme and they‘ll ask potential submitters to give in work that deals with that theme. If that‘s the case, carefully read the poems that you have chosen. The message of your poem doesn‘t have to traditionally follow the theme, but maybe challenge or question it; if the theme of the contest is

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romantic love, you can enter a poem that talks about the heartache found after a romantic affair, or the how the poet sees romance found in someone else‘s relationship. If the rules allow you to submit work of any theme and style, then choose the poems how you want. Personally, I would choose the poems that would easily translate to the reader my different writing styles, specific themes that I want readers to familiarise my name with, and the poems that you feel are strong in terms of language and structure. Am I good enough to join a poetry contest? Joining contests shouldn‘t be a stressful ‗chore‘, but a fun experience that you go through to grow as an artist. Think of it as having a reason to polish up your old poetry! You‘ll get to update your old work and finally delete that verse that you once thought was really good. Always remember to take baby steps, too. Study the atmosphere of each contest and enter where you feel most comfortable in first. There‘s no need to rush. I remember something a Filipino singer named Karylle once stated, and that to her, the songs that she writes are her babies, and that it‘s her job as an artist to make sure these songs reach the ears of their listeners through any form, or, to further extend the metaphor, make sure her babies soon ―go to college‖. I tend to use that mentality when it comes to my poetry, since I believe that we write for a reason, and that is to communicate and to share our message to others. As long as you are prepared to work hard, face rejection, acceptance and generally love writing, all you need now is luck, timing and an optimistic outlook. Best of luck!

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Thursday Songs

M I

n this photograph you disappear into your smile as if you didn‘t like our earth like one determined to tunnel her way to another world one full of geysers, hot breath and clouds of burning gas of strange new animals stretched on stilt-like legs through purple trees a world of cabbages grown to enormous size and become the wombs of frogs. Even standing still, you seem to hear the Thursday songs, plaintive in late afternoon, with coffee and chocolates and nothing to wait for but dinner and long shadows bleeding into night.

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Advice To Young Writers To write well,

let your thoughts race gleefully across the keys, humming the blues, breathe deeply, watch out for verbs riding red ponies around in a circle, and adjectives with feathers in their caps, and pronouns with long trousers, wearing expensive italian shoes, shoving sleepy adverbs off high balconies.

S T Z 43


Experience The Pea With each green pea you eat it's a new day, you're more awake, erudite, a little risquĂŠ, socially aware and alert to exciting new shenanigans. What do you want from a legume, anyway?

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Rescue At the shelter, tufts of black fur brush my fingers between the cage‘s chrome bars. Copper marbles sink into me-his eyes gleam with hope like pennies shining in a wishing well. Years later, sprawled on our dining room chair, he pokes through wooden spindles to tap me with his paw. His wishing well eyes widen still shining with hope-for the crackle of his treat bag

F F F F F F F F F

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YJF U The Dust Between Us

T

he boy had bronze eyes that radiated beatific command. They were brown in the darkness of a shadow, and aflame when set against the glare of the winter sun. A clarity and mania was at play in those eyes, and shards of sensuality and disobedience percolated his gaze: the kind of gaze that reached into far corners. A kaleidoscopic haiku captured in a three second stare. It was a poetry that made him light-footed that morning as he half skipped down Avenue D, clipboard in hand in this new, but distorted pastoral. Giddily he went, head empty of any conscious thought, the beatific brown eyes unstitching, absorbing and radiating the beauty of the icicles that adorned the lines of automobiles. One step misplaced was all it took for discord to envelop and choke his joyous spirit. As if from nowhere, the Christmas lights blinked sarcastically in garish, condescending colour. They mocked him, jeered, and determined to ruin his day. Then, resolute as a domino, he plunged towards the door of number 22. That‘s when I saw him through the window, the filthy window that gave his face that airbrushed quality- the cloudy, dreamy effect seen in black and white films from the past. An ostentatious face. ‗How dare such a thing exist?‘ I told myself. I could smell petals that ached to be crushed, already rootless 46


and dying. Violences pushed forth through my veins and pores, and that‘s how I knew there was still life inside. As if in limbo, I stood still, motionless against the old oak door, so close that I could smell the resin. My eye, now aligned with the spy hole, examined the foreign creature with the bright bronze irises. I had him at arm‘s length. I could survey, calculate, and devise my next step with an innocuous eye, guarded by the thick set glass that plugged the hole; the one that hadn‘t seen a familiar face in years. Somewhere in the tight space between thought and action, the hole was at once aflame with crimson. The red which threatened to creep back in was there once again, in all its garish glory. I opened the door and there it lay: the young body in monochrome, shrouded in the December mist and drenched in its own life. A few metres behind him stood a figure, a sexless mannequin with a weapon of some kind, poised on the periphery of the freeze frame.

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Z Two Seasons Old cheese on a brown plate for this night, then a frigid bed, as you are not dead, but still think of death as a far runner. Lift one foot from the cold floor to the cold sheets. Stop. Touch your ice head with ice fingers. For inside your skull uncoils the snake that moves only for the old.

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G G G

Car on a Train It's all the same to me, everyday and everywar, special sessions, news flashes, planes, and natural disasters. I'm fan to nothing, carried like a car on a train. One hundred and one, one hundred and two. Yawn. My crystal ball lies in the attic covered with dust like Oklahoma. Screw, carpenter, you'll reconstruct the South. I am quick but uninterested. And when I'm old I'll die. Poor Methuselah, stuck like a thumb in a bowling ball. He was right to try for the record, but forgot how long it'd been. Past: Poor Methuselah, useless as a flood, couldn't remember which were his children. Present: The sound of their chewing gum. Future: I wish I had died at the senior prom. Bear with me awhile: (optional) Mirroragainstmirror,infinitycreated,longhallsthatwerearehavebeenh erebutgonethenforever.Timeismasterasmasterisslavetomasteredsla 49


veandinthemidst,wee,iswe,tonedeaf,unflylikeasonecanfleeasships canjumpthesea.Therearewindsthatcutandshapethecanyonsofthe mindorrouteandspeedthevesselsofthespirit.Thereareminionsmadef oroneandmanymirroredsoulswhospeakandhowlonwindycanyonw allsandfleefromrunningrapidsinaboatthathasnosail.Restisthegoalfor therestofthevoicelessshadesofhellwhositandstandinsyncopationtot hetwelvetonesoftheuniverse. Still: I am running like colors from the night. Hurting like a broken arm broken again. Scraped and bleeding like a bad diver. Some people have never died. When I die, let it be on television.

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The Triumph of Toes (A Dialogue) I Not much capital I suppose In poetry that refers to toes. They‘re quite expressionless; they‘re bland, While fingers, on the other hand, Can point, can clasp, can scratch, can poke, Can change a life with just a stroke. Toes, sadly, show no such facility. They are beyond the pale of poetry. II You contradict what you propose By having written verse on toes. Fingers, it‘s true, can multi-task But of poor toes we do not ask That they do much – help kick a ball Or on their tips makes some feel tall: Nothing that is remotely poetic. Yet, in one respect, they are symbolic. They represent, being nearly redundant, Something in us that is resistant. As we are refined by evolution Toes stand up for the stubbornly human.

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Q

Miscarriage Crippled horseless kings Richard and Roosevelt. Crooked a deformity that stiffens the spine lends steel to resolve.

P

Motorized caroche rolls in procession past catafalques dragging the ruined along. Hyde Park Roosevelt prepares his radio address: There is nothing to fear. We have locked the sons of our Fathers in the Tower kept company only by Fear itself.

Q 52


Dead Things

P

Being told that you are loved and given all the

words in the world, these words can only be as beautiful, as a house, a car, or holiday. Because no matter how heartfelt their delivery, they're meaningless, once known to be spoken by someone....who's more in love with dead things.

Q P

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F F F F F F FF F F F

Joelle Taylor Author Interview

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FF F FFFF F FFF


About Joelle Taylor: Joelle Taylor is a British spoken word artist, slam poet, award-winning playwright, workshop facilitator and novelist. She is the founder and artistic director of SLAMbassadorsUK, a national slam poetry competition for youth aged 12-18. Taylor is also the curator of MotherFoucault, a spoken word cabaret show performed at various London venues. She was the co-founder and artistic director of Spin/Stir Women‘s Physical Theatre collective. A busy performer, she has graced the stages of various venues, including the Glastonbury Festival and Buckingham Palace and appeared on many television and radio shows. She hosts National Poetry Day every year live at the Royal Festival Hall. She was also a member of Atomic Lip, a pop-poetry spoken word group. Taylor is currently the poet-in-residence at Kingsmead School in Hackney and she has taught adult poetry courses for the Arvon Foundation and Holloway Prison. Her plays are Naming, Whorror Stories I and II, Abigail‘s Play Party and Lucid Johnson. Her books are Domestic Violence (Scarlet Press 1995), Lesbians Talk Violent Relationships (co-written with Tracey Chandler in 1995), Acts of Passion (Routledge 1998), (w)horror Stories, Brand (2009), Intwasa (Ama 2008) and Ska Tissue in 2011 by MotherFoucault Press. Her upcoming poetry collection The Woman Who Was Not There (Burning Eye Books) will be available October 14 this year. 1. What is your favourite subject to write about? I write about whatever forces itself into my face - anything from life in the cemetery of tower blocks, to women who eat themselves or girls who tap dance in gilded cages. I have different themes depending on whenever the work is to be performed or published. 2. Where do you usually find inspiration for your poetry? I find inspiration wherever I can: in an overheard conversation, or the unspoken glance from a child, or the way the street keeps moving further away. To be a poet or writer is to be a kind of private investigator. We read the clues written all around us, reconstruct scenes, imagine lives. 3. Was it always your dream to be a poet and how did you find out that you were meant to be a poet? I began my writing career by disfiguring my parents' horror and sci fi books, and this soon led on to rewriting song lyrics and finally poetry. I always wanted to be a writer but becoming a poet began by being in a punk band in the 80's and

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focusing on lyric writing. Soon, I dispensed with the music and dedicated myself to standing on stage with a microphone as a best friend. All writers want to be all kinds of writers. To be a poet is to have a way of seeing, and the need to condense a novel into 12 lines. 4. How do you get into the mind of a different person when writing poems that are not your own perspective? I have always been able to step into the ill fitting skin of the characters I write from/ about. It's playing. It's the playground brought into the library. It's also a release, to be able to consider the world from another's perspective. You can learn a lot by being a different person. To get into the mind set, just follow your pen - it generally knows where you are going. Start by writing down a name, a place of birth, a piece of clothing and build up from there. I play games using buttons as the starting point to develop characters, or watch strangers and try to build up an idea of how they came to be as they appear, how their body learned to fold that way [when] they walk. The body is an archive and it is easy to read where a person came from and who they might be from the way they hold themselves and move. 5. Did you face any challenges writing your poetry collection The Woman Who Was Not There? The major challenge was in letting go. As a performer I constantly make last minute decisions on stage about what piece I will perform and how it will be delivered, basing these decisions on immediate audience reaction, with The Woman Who Was Not There I wrote most of it without an audience. That's a challenge, to create something that blends both page and performance poetry. It's also a collection rather than a concept book. That's the next book. 6. Why do you think spoken word is more effective than written poetry? Spoken word is immediate. It is loud even when it's quiet. It's a form that is about a conversation between performer and audience rather than something passive that the audience can choose to listen to or not. The spoken word artist speaks with and not to. 7. How do you deal with writer’s block? Ha! Yes indeed, how? The last time I suffered a long bout of writers block I wrote a story about a writer with writer's block that became the final chapter of my novel (w)horror Stories. Page fright is as real as stage fright so I deal with it similarly: with courage and a kind of dumb single mindedness. I face the page like I would a hostile audience. Smile.

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8. What’s the most challenging thing about being a spoken word poet? Keeping fresh and current. Creating a texture in the performance so that the gig has as much flow as a music album. I find this extremely difficult these days as I don't want to create a set that is cynical: that has a sad piece, an angry piece, a funny piece, the finale barn stormer. The most difficult thing for any artist is to be themselves, to be true and not focus constantly on how others will perceive me. 9. Why is spoken word poetry more focused on civil rights and social issues than written poetry? Spoken word can be more focused on civil rights than page poetry because of the medium: it's direct and uncompromising which lends itself to political debate. It's also a democratic form in that no one in the audience cares whether you've written a sestina or a villanelle, or whether your grammar is correct. This means that it's the perfect form for all people to use, regardless of education, and this attracts people with something immediate and important to say. It is to a large extent still a working class form. 10. Do you have any advice for young poets who want to pursue performance poetry? The best advice I can give to a young spoken word artist is to write. Then once you have done that, write some more. When you are not writing, read. Writing is a form that teaches itself, the more you write the more you will learn. There is a simple formula which all spoken word artists should adhere to: write, rehearse, perform. Keep doing gigs and tighten your stage craft. Perform at open mics, charity events, in schools, whenever you can. But listen carefully to what the audience is telling you. If you get polite applause try the piece a couple more times and if it doesn't improve, ditch the poem. Polite applause is the sound of nails going into coffins.

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G G G G

Lion on the Street Dedicated to the animals that perished in Zanesville OH

Magnificent beast – regal ragged mane tawny physique muscles rippling tail switching fierce jaws opened wide baring golden yellow spikes menacing menaced released from your ramshackle chain link faux zoo – a home-grown excuse for an exotic animal preserve an accidental abdication your massive paws unable to cloak the click-clack of claws on concrete your amber eyes

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not wild for the gazelles and wildebeest of the Serengeti but wild at the sight of speeding metal and rubber wild at the sight of your own blood and guts stripped of your majesty stripped of your life royalty relinquished – just a lion on the street

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J Lavender sometimes I imagine little misunderstandings like wounded seagulls crying for lost auroras over 10 miles of salt water beauty and is it really regret if the last thing I remember is laughing at how often I would stumble over your glances how they seem to search for resolutions but this is not an ending just a new question one that doesn‘t understand distance or rain because so much can change in autumn when we allow the extraordinary to be common to refuse whisper setting sunlight before evening song and I still wish I could believe in forever or at least something that resembled tomorrow

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On Translating Montale Cape Breton and Finisterre engrave And inflame these tern-waved crags The Atlantic thunders, whistles its Angelus through blowholes The long limbed golden skinned girls Saunter as though honey had run Filling a mould. Their blue eyes exist Where seascapes cactus kale and gorse Spleenwort and horned poppy Named for herbals his grandmother Forgot in age and now manure And sepia officialinis glistens Reflect from Hornton-stone skins Horn wrack, rock samphire, salads Yellow and sepia. Gulls squawk Trampling cuttlefish bones, Ossi di seppia, belemnite,for which none have Any equivalent; sea campion is Always itself, native transplant.

S T N

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Artwork by

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Of A Time

Those years are gone forever, Sweet, Socked, soaked, gone for ever! We look in glass − Nothing comes back; But the hands fumbling, buttery, a path, To stifle Love‘s blunt quiver. The road we opened up nearby, Shoulders, littered debris; But we yet yearn, Lean toward return, Like ghosts miming times we shared, memories, Hopes and tears, one big, veiled sea, To vent Love‘s skimming spray.

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Reflections upon an unmade bed

Again the morning finds the heart knotting In the throat, between the ears, on the tongue I used to wake up next to you – face beaming With secret sacred joys; night‘s velvet Cloak still heating the hearth in your bosom Before jealous sun could wipe off Moonshine, stardust, dreambeam Left of visitations by undeclared Storied past each one seeking Civil punctuation, truces to outlast All longings as cooing of doves On the window sill, messengers Of a summer long gone… Well the heart nudges me on now Another morning, what remains To unravel of a stubborn winter See this? I think sailors have no name for it yet

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The Moor Look at me now, Those gates, no walls. You are walking In the green heather moor, Me outside These heathen bracken bushes. But can you not hear my breath? Tell me you don‘t feel The weight of my breath on your nape, Heavier than this autumn air? Wistful wisps of longing Like soap air bubbles my lips made Kissing it gently Like I did before. Did I hear another silent gasp? Almost escaping the disquiet? The hushed calm is just like you, As you lay next to me. Drawing prayers and butterflies On my bare back and mind With your tongue, Saying more So much more Than the wind, That despite all its strengths, Whooshes and bangs, Says nothing.

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The Scarecrow P

Q P

having no fear

of loneliness these bright bounds are me alone, my body encompasses the whole of it and this straw stuffed head is only a means to speak to you. why move, when i have a thousand eyes, a thousand legs to walk on? there is no number to the stories told by the creatures that flight and buzz and bite within me. you alone, walking creature, hemmed in by your many horizons, you alone cannot see what lies under your trudging feet. pass by pass by

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Fish as Fish BaiT You know I dreamt about you as a bobber

charted not in a sea but a pool, filed with all the other bobbers, sneaking out to play rummy with an apple I once fingered. I‘m your worm of course. You could drown me in an icebox, or my father‘s Styrofoam kitty-litter package shelled-out for fish for fish bait; their tails coagulating like lattice-work plastering the panels, the inner walls.

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―It‘s not all about daisies and school dances‖-

Interview of

Sarah Fletcher 68


Sarah Fletcher is a young and gifted poet who only at the age of nineteen has achieved many awards for her outstanding poetry writing. Incredibly, at the age of fourteen Sarah was unexpectedly published as a result of her mother encouraging her to submit a poem for The London Magazine. “I was accepted by the magazine and asked to read at The Institution of Contemporary Arts for the launch”. Through this experience Sarah witnessed other poets read their work which was an act of motivation and inspiration for her to pursue this field with such a passion. Since this experience, Sarah has been published in numerous places such as The Adroit Journal, The Cadaverine, YM Poetry Network and has also had her work displayed in various places. Her excitement of reading her poems to others is forever present since day one. From as young as a child, Sarah remembers being attracted to the pen and paper and experimenting with different writing styles to only discover she was a poet. Growing up, Sarah`s family exposed her to story-telling and literature. Her great, great grandfather was known for his creative writing. “My great, great grandfather was Spanish and was known as a „man of letters‟; he‟d be commissioned by other people in his community to write poetic love notes or persuasive propositions”. An interesting story Sarah mentioned in this interview, was her mum telling her that an angel came to her while she was pregnant and told her, her baby would be creative with words. Although Sarah doesn´t believe that people are predisposed to particular crafts, those words have always been an encouragement to Sarah throughout her poetic journey and as a result, Sarah has received various awards in competitions. In 2012, she won first place in The Christopher Tower Poetry Competition which boosted her desire to take poetry more seriously and since that moment the zeal for writing poetry has continuously flamed on. ―I‟d loved writing and had the small affirmations of being published in some magazines, but winning first in such a competitive competition judged by two poetry idols of mine, Don Paterson and Christopher Reid, was a game-changer.”

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Sarah`s poetry is a blend of gender politics, religion and power dynamics in relationships. Although these are her particular interests, she doesn´t define them as her genre and generally tries to keep her personal life outside her writing. “I consider most of my work dramatizations of reality or completely unhinged from reality, and I do not use my writing as a diary or as any sort of catharsis”. Sarah`s upcoming pamphlet (written along with Flora de Falbe) has a strong emphasis on gender roles within the Bible and also looks at the topic of masculinity in contemporary society. Sarah`s work also encompasses the topic of femininity depicting an example of poetry that is not all about, ―daisies and school dances‖. Sarah´s poem called the ‗Kraut Girl‘ is one of her best examples of how she views the role of women in history. “It‟s a dramatic monologue from a woman married to nazi for safety during WWII.‖ During a tour in Amsterdam she discovered the term ―Kraut Girl‖ which initiated the idea for her poem and enkindled the desire to speak up on behalf of these women and give them storyline through her verses. “I wanted to give these voiceless women in the photographs a back story. When these women returned to their home countries after the war, they were treated as traitors and their heads were shaved to embarrass them. I wanted to make them less one dimensional and hopefully allow them to garner sympathy or allow someone to understand their actions.” For Sarah, poetry is a perfect form of an expressive language where every word is important to the writer. It is the words, the auditory, visual and physical experience of reading a poem that can move a reader emotionally and bring them to a place where they find a connection with the poem and that poem can impact them forever. “It can give the emotional impact of a long novel in less than a page”.

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Throughout her poetic venture, Sarah has been inspired and influenced by some well known poets including, Kathryn Maris, Ted Hughes as well as Robert Lowell whose poetry expresses an abstract form of violent actions which are incorporated into a form of sonnet. “I love juxtapositions like that and hope I incorporate those in my work.” When writing poems, Sarah is apprehensive about making sure they release waves of rhythms as this is very important aspect of a poem and is what can make it memorable to a reader. “I always read my poems aloud when writing them for that reason — to be conscious of their musicality. I doubt poems like „The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock‟ would be as prolific today if it wasn‟t for its memorable rhythm, the tentative rhymes like „ices‟ and „crisis‟.” Her poetry is generally ignited by a word or phrase matching a visual image that may come to her mind, which are also spontaneous. ―Most of my poems happen spontaneously. I‟ve written poems on the back of my hand in buses, on my cellphone. I‟ve had friends remember phrases or words for me if no paper or pen or technology was available. In an ideal situation, I‟ll have a blank notebook ready.” To wind up this interview, Sarah is reminded by a saying from Helen Mort who once said in an interview ―the best poems seem to write themselves.‖ This is a gentle reminder that poetry is like a beautiful flower that blossoms on it´s own. For more information on Sarah‘s poems visit http://www.towerpoetry.org.uk/prize/winning-poems/556-winners-2013second-prize

Interviewed By Catherine Schythe 71


Locked in a cage of no Tears I went to a funeral and lied In junk and drink, no grief, Just cowardice and pride. Fear of losing you by my side Losing you to the other side. Fear that shook with the gloved murderer's hide Stuck in a cage which buries me from sighs.

M

I went to my funeral and shied I didn't want to sleep or hide I just held your bloodless, jaundiced face I couldn't help but feel a fake As two sets of opache eyes Did not pass a tear and cry. Just the shivering hands that stopped your last sighs I went to a funeral, wore a mask, and lied I drank and stood in black and could not cry, I strung words and made some ineloquent speech Loved and held but held love out of reach Spoke in riddles, played hide and seek With a congregation of perjured freaks. I laughed at their blindness where my guilt sits. 72


Last night in our death bed where I slept Dry-eyed like your cataract eyes Dumb mouth fish gape In the old flat, my eyes, dry, dry eyes. I didn't hear the trains last night I couldn't hear grief's knock at all There was no knock, There was no wake or ball, just Your bloodless gape and jaundice face Shining yellow plumbed and spent Sucked leech-mouthed, dumb, Your cataract eyes, Under clumsy-ashed mascara lids A shy pass in some gothic flick A tetany spasm, no shock or awe. You looked up at me and saw nothing at all. I share some dead shark surprise; Opache, tearless rolled-up eyes And I lay gibbering at your side And laughed and hated your passion and cries King over requiem and bride Healer, dealer, hood and pride Addicting storm and flushed aside. This morning I went to a funeral and lied I could not spill one tear from these witness eyes That watched the hands suffocate your traumatic sighs I went to a funeral and lied Conducted proceedings with the murdering hands‘ whys I wanted the last of you, my bride. 73


Z The Last Person I Ever Expected To See Is standing in front of me. ―I‘ve come back,‖ he says. ―Will you have me?‖ I just stare at him. This can‘t be happening. ―You were gone for over a year,‖ I say. Blood howls in my veins, peddling toward my heart, hostile, furious, more than furious. ―You left me. You know you did.‖ A year ago I had said, ―Don‘t dump me again. It‘ll be the last time. My heart can‘t bear it.‖ He frowned like I‘d misunderstood. ―I never dumped you,‖ he said. ―I was just regrouping.‖ I still can‘t believe he called it that. ―It was never your fault,‖ he said. ―It wasn‘t you. It was always me.‖ He‘d left me three times by then. He promised he‘d never leave again. But he did. And my heart splintered into a thousand bloodsoaked shards, just like I told him it would. ―Forget it,‖ I say. ―I‘m not interested.‖ And that‘s the truth. I don‘t care if he‘s

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come back. I don‘t care if I once loved him with every ounce of my essence. More than that. More than life. More. ―I don‘t trust you,‖ I say. ―How can I?‖ I‘m not the same chick he left four times last year. I‘ve changed. I found a way to bury the pain in the underground of my soul. I found a way to wake up happy every day. No gray clouds hang over my head like tattered shawls. No man worries. Nothing. Why would I sacrifice that to allow any man into my life? Who needs that kind of stress? Who needs the heartache? Not me. Not even for pleasure. That‘s what fingers are for. I‘m good with my fingers. ―I don‘t need you,‖ I say. ―Go away. I‘m finished with men. Good riddance.‖ He stares at me like I‘m speaking in tongues, like this can‘t be happening. ―You may not need me,‖ he says, ―but I need you.‖ Even so, I hoped he would leave. He didn‘t. Instead, he waited for days, weeks, months. And all those feelings, the ones I thought I‘d buried forever in the deepest darkest corners, came trickling back to me like grains of sand through the narrow neck of an hourglass. I gave him a fifth chance. I don‘t know why. Maybe I needed to believe in him one more time. Maybe. But I do know this: there‘ll be no sixth.

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J Night Cashier I‘ve been reduced to this Dark short pale figure, Floating around the grocery store In the middle of the night. I haunt the customers as I hover Over my podium, Quietly turning the pages of a newspaper Like the sound of a speedy blade; Angry, searching. I am the money lady of the night, handling your crisp bills while the other cashiers sleep. Counting nickels and sheep While I am drowsily awake, Living this pointless lie in an empty gaudy building. Thursday is the day the flyer changes and the least lonely, Friday is the busiest, Saturday the customers are the rudest, And Sunday is the quietest and the loneliest. And you‘re never too happy to be there with me. Sometimes you‘re bubbling with rage. The beautiful men I admire see me as the enemy, Or at least the obstacle. And who could blame you? It‘s zero dark thirty,

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You‘re paying inflated prices And you‘re out of your element, Forced to use a self-checkout... But enough vinegar words and you have me gagging. Enough coldness and I‘m frozen where I stand. I don‘t use as much expression in my words anymore. I suppose it‘s my final shield To go with my final sword; an X-Acto knife. Sometimes it overwhelms me; The tears pour out As I lean over the black conveyor belt, Shining bright, glistening with fresh hot soapy water, Like a night sky covered with a blanket of stars. I could go for a blanket just about now. As I walk between the registers and scrub, scrub, scrub, I catch glimpses of a miniature hallway museum. Beach bodies captured in unflattering poses, A display of the many varieties of candy, chocolate and gum, Archie and soap operas, Glossy women on the covers of fashion magazines. They are strange creatures without blemishes, cellulite or feelings; Something not quite human about them. But I try not to stare; It would be rude. Autopsies, divorces, scandals, pregnancies, Lies, lies, lies!, Written in the ink of grinning, proud dishonesty, Printed in the biggest font so that they can be grabbed by the saddest and dumbest of all the sheep. The stockers go about their business And leave me to mine; A few scattered conversations Over spans of months.

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They are always there, in the aisles, But I am always alone. Skulking through the store With an ear cocked for the robotic woman‘s voice, The beep That I now hear whether it‘s really there or not. Where does it go? The box of cookies, the bag of oranges, the bundle of toilet paper, the apple pie, the melatonin pills. 4 am, solemnly rolling the constant shopping cart; Always looking, bringing the items back to their homes. How I long for home. As I pass through the automatic door And breathe in the fresh morning air, The sky is just as I left it, Dark and menacing. But sometimes it leaves me a gift, A reward for my sweat and loneliness; A bright red sunset, Sometimes bright pink. It fills me with joy To see something beautiful again. Some mornings as I sit by the window after work I beg the sun to wait a few more hours to rise. I turn off the lights And face my glowing laptop. The darkness is intoxicating when it surrounds me.

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U A X J Butterfly Dust

I

t was an icy, star-lit night when the butterflies appeared. They floated past the window on glittering wings; pink and purple, orange and blue. The tracery on the frosted pane framed them for a moment before they vanished in the dark. With a soft chink, Felix touched his fingers to the glass. ―What are you?‖ he whispered. It was too cold for butterflies. Whatever they were, they were something different; something different just like him. Felix' features were almost those of a human child, yet they were made of porcelain. Burnt clay formed his spine, his ribs and his skull, and twisted copper wire held his body together. He had been created to replace a lost son; that was all he knew. When he glanced down he could see through the gaps in the metal coils into his body where a light flutter lived. Another butterfly drifted past in the glow of the streetlights. Never before had Felix left the house. The woman who had created him and whose son he was meant to be had died in the last days of fall, together with the fallen leaves, but still he hadn't dared to go outside. You don't belong there, she had said. Everyone except for me will only be afraid of you. Now, cold wind whipped past Felix as he stepped out of the door. Snowflakes blew into his face and settled on the porcelain. They clung to him, slipping inside between the wire of his arms and legs below his shorts and T-shirt. The copper grew hard and stiff in the cold. Every step seemed to take forever, but this late at night, the streets were empty and the snow swallowed all sounds including the clank-clank of his footsteps on the asphalt. A red butterfly circled once around his head and then flew off. Felix struggled on, wondering what would happen if some of the wires snapped from the strain. He couldn't go much faster, and not much further, either, yet the butterfly seemed to beckon him on. It never vanished out of view; a signal for him to follow through the unknown city streets. The flutter inside his own chest wanted to fly with it, beating against Felix' ribs. Where was he going? He was certain he would not even be able to find the way back.

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Just then, he turned a corner and found himself at the side of a main road. A car swerved past, and the driver was so busy gaping at Felix that he almost ran over the hill-shaped roundabout in front of him. Again, his would-be mother's words echoed through Felix head, and the temperature inside him seemed to drop twenty more degrees. I should have stayed home like she wanted me to. On top of the roundabout, though, stood someone else. It was a girl so pale she seemed to glow in the streetlights, and except for the plaid skirt flapping around her knees she stood so still Felix had not even noticed her at first. Her right hand was raised high towards the nights sky, holding a jar with delicate fingers. The flutter inside Felix shimmied against his ribs and drew him closer even as his mind told him to turn around and leave the girl alone. ―What are you doing?‖ Felix heard himself asking. Even when hushed his voice still sounded metallic and he flinched at the sound, but the girl didn't react. The red butterfly had settled on the edge of her jar. From this close, Felix could see that its wings were almost as translucent as the glass. It opened and closed them slowly as if it couldn't decide whether to stay or fly away. With a clink the girl brought down the lid of the jar. One of the red wings got caught in between and tore, and the butterfly twitched helplessly inside its seethrough prison. The girl turned around and looked at Felix. ―I'm catching dreams,‖ she whispered. She was perhaps thirteen, but short and skinny for her age. Her eyes were the pales shade of gray Felix had ever seen, even though his only comparison came from the TV. He couldn't read anything from her expression. Wasn't she surprised at all that he didn't look human? Didn't he scare her? Felix stared back at her, amazed by the human talking to him. ―Dreams?‖ he repeated. Something rose to the surface behind her eyes. Her lips pressed together in a tight line. ―Look at it,‖ she hissed. She shoved the jar towards Felix so quickly he stumbled back, and her eyes were ablaze. ―Look!” The red butterfly weakly beat its remaining wing. Particles of red-gold dust flaked off and gathered at the bottom of the jar where they turned gray. The butterfly dissolved and died. ―That's all I have left.‖ The girl's hand shook as she glanced down at the remnants of the butterfly. There was such pain on her face that Felix almost felt it, too. ―Stolen, dying dreams.‖ She turned on her heel and ran down the roundabout hill, across the street and into the shadows of an alley. They butterfly jar was pressed close to her chest. ―Wait!‖ Felix shouted, but she didn't seem to hear. The image of the girl running reminded him of something, though he couldn't quite recall what. He hurried after her without thinking; through the snow that

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was falling more heavily now and through more unknown streets. Something snapped in his left knee, but he was so cold he hardly felt it. ―Wait!‖ he called again, and again he was ignored. The girl turned a corner and was gone, and all he could do was drag himself on with his damaged leg, and all the time something inside him screamed at him that he had to hurry. That expression on her face. The dying dream. Left and right of the street loomed houses set back into large yards, yet most of them looked empty. The windows were dark and the paint was peeling off the walls. Only the girl's footprints in the snow told Felix where to go. By then, his body was so cold it seemed to be burning. The flutter inside his chest squirmed desperately – pulling him forwards to follow the girl, and at the same time urging him to turn back; to go home, somewhere warm … A flickering light shone from the front porch of an ancient house. The garden sloped up gently towards it; shrubs and trees so gnarled it showed even through the layers of snow. Blind windows stared down at Felix. A fire? Felix wondered. His joints creaked as he climbed the steps to the porch and peered into the lit window. There was not just one big fire. Countless candles burned in every corner of the room. They were stashed on dusty shelves and an old table; on window sills and even on the floor. In between, glass jars reflected the glow of the flames, magnifying it a hundred times. Some of the jars were empty, but most of them held at least one dead butterfly or its dust. I shouldn't be here. Yet whatever had urged him to follow the dream-butterfly had taken a hold of him again. It tugged and pulled, and forced him onwards. When he pushed open the door, a smell of wax and mildew enveloped him, and the shadows performed a dance on the walls. Felix stepped into the field of burning candles and towards the table, reaching out for one of the butterfly jars in the quivering light. His fingers shone like fire themselves; the copper lit up in all shades of red and orange. He could feel the heat of the candles run through the icy wire and if he had been able to he would have cried with relief. Very carefully, he lifted one of the jars and held it up in front of his eyes. ―Put it down,‖ said the girl. ―Put it down and leave me alone.‖ He turned around to face her as she stood in the doorway that led deeper into the house. ―Give it back,‖ the girl said between clenched teeth. Both her hands were curled into fists so tightly the knuckles had turned white, and she was shaking. ―Go away,‖ she breathed. ―Just go away.‖ Suddenly, there were tears in her eyes. With a shout, she hauled herself at Felix before he could bring himself to react. He stumbled into the table and the jar slipped from his fingers. Splinters of glass and butterfly dust flew up around them while the girl screamed. ―Give back my dreams!‖

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He couldn't tell whether she wanted to shove him to the floor or grab him to drag him out of the room, but he ducked and again half a dozen jars and candles went down with him. The shattering of glass and the hissing of flames filled the room, and still the girl was screaming. She fell down on her knees and clutched at what remained of the butterflies between the dust and glass, but the moment she touched them their wings fell apart in her hands. She was sobbing, wailing, now without words, and tears streaked down her bone-white cheeks. ―My dreams … my beautiful dreams ...‖ ―I – I'm sorry,‖ Felix stuttered, backing away towards the door. The girl looked up at him with a hint of the former blaze in her eyes, yet as a gust of wind swept in and carried away the butterfly fragments from her hands, that anger died as well. ―You don't even know,‖ she whispered. ―You don't even remember ...‖ ―Remember what?‖ She shook her head. ―Everyone needs dreams,‖ she said and her voice cracked. ―Without dreams, you can be alive but at the same time you're not. She needed dreams to make you come to life, and … and she took mine.‖ Felix stopped dead in his retreat. I went through a lot of trouble to make you, he heard his creator's voice inside his head. How? He'd asked, yet she had never really answered. Instead, she'd told him again and again that he had to stay with her and not go out – because if he had, he might have found out. ―She stole my dreams,‖ the girl repeated. ―All of them, every single one, and the ability to dream up more. Everyone else has so man … I can lure them some to me and their owners don't even notice, but once I catch them they all die.‖ Her hand slid down to her sides, palms covered in gray dust. ―Caged dreams all die.‖ Felix felt the flutter inside him and shuddered. Butterfly wings? Around them, the remaining candles flickered and were quenched by the cold wind from the open door until the room lay in utter darkness. Only their faces were still visible, pale orbs in the dark. Would I die without her dream? It was perfectly quiet, inside the house and out. The girl's breath was the only thing that could be heard. The shadows seemed to contract around them until there was nothing left of the world but the two of them. Without all the candles, the cold was creeping back – inside the room and inside him, too. He could feel his limbs grow stiff again. You don't belong to that outside world. But he had something that belonged there, hadn't he? Felix touched his chest, and even through his shirt and the wire he could feel the soft flutter of the dream. It wasn't his, but it was all he had, too. He was scared – scared of freeing the dream and of keeping it, because after all it was

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caged inside him, too, and what if it died? He was afraid of not finding his way back home, and of getting back to his creator's house with the knowledge that the dream catcher girl was desperately scraping butterfly dust off the floorboards here ‌ Felix dug his fingers into the gaps between the wires of his chest. Icy crystals crunched between his fingers as he closed them around the coils. It was cold; so cold. He tightened his grip, and pulled. Wires broke in his hands, but the coils of his chest hardly moved. Still, the captured dream behind them bounced in excitement, and a light green glow made his copper hands shine. Felix didn't have the strength to twist the metal coils apart, but the dream slid past them nonetheless. It hadn't been the physical barrier that had held it back. The green butterfly rose into the air between Felix and the dream catcher girl. Flakes of dust drifted down as the shining wings dissolved, yet it didn't turn gray. It rained down on their upturned faces like an emerald rain for a moment, and when it was gone, there was only darkness. He could feel the girl smile at him even though he did not see it, and a shared dream danced inside them both.

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The Bottom In blazing bars and hard-rock theaters that disturb nervous nuns and close at daybreak, in playing card houses and paperback art shows that advertise rebels and abandon their sulking heroes, in Reader's Guides and Burger King libraries in whorehouse basements panting on bedroom floors and sleeping on 84


couches the end exists and eats three meals a day, works in mills and plays in foldout wet dreams, counting people and flashing asphalt smiles, trying at crash diets and reading television shows, praying for infinity, aping jealous godheads, and giving fingers to mirrors until the bottom.

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Call Me Love Tonight

P

Not the caressing kind that makes glazed pebbles out of

rough rocks But the raw kind; ridged and mutilated like a mature tree bark With channels of phloem peeping through jagged scales of the periderm Brown and thick with holding out against rain, heat, winds and enemies Forests tell me that growing takes nothing but time Time as in eternity, not hours and minutes frivolously playing with rain or sunshine

Q

But cambium rings of time, that can be canned in a box like a film Where the heartwood captures every layer of soil making food for the tree Likewise love into which eons have poured themselves in Made pillars out of stems, chemicals out of longings, wild beasts out of tame emotions Love that is alive not dead, composite not hollow, hungry not satiated Its every cross section ginned with the delirium of uniting at last

P

Call me that sort of Love tonight When you've got it right, I'll match my palms with yours Absorb the ache in your fingertips, circumambulate its whorls with my eyes I'll bring you bring home

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Christian Tennessee Awakening H

Q

ere‘s an example of a garage kid/old man elliptical:

Chicken-fried preacher knighted me on the last limb of the Amtrak so I retired into a smuggled seal. I could only peek-a-boo in violet vines, only swallow sheeny, airbrushed fish feed. I adapted till he Super-Mario-hopped onto my head, impounding it into a crab— I nettled my pincers and finally gave a chlorine-reddened, Super 8 motel-shot look to God.

P

Yet timers stretched to match his leaking belts; he starched the freshwater sacks by the drumful. Too much, and again the machine outruns its wear.

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O

Fire Agate

O

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The Body Is A Collector

Of small scented objects that leave Sadness to scar in pained smiles Old letter, found pen, bookmarker, last shirt Remains of what happened here, there Such as unrests in places mostly unaccounted for Because forgotten as most sacred, secret passages and rooms Your eyes, for instance, I see hands marinating In the acid of rivers forgetting ocean A dreamer hunted by dreams undead By necessity a tax evader by day Unwanted historian by night

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booksinbrief Julie Stanley

B

ehind every family is a closet of secrets. Of all the family thrillers that unearth these buried secrets come from one of the most notorious of authors, V. C. Andrews. Her famed Cutler series consists of five novels: Dawn, Secrets of Morning, Twilight‘s Child, Midnight Whispers and ends with Darkest Hour. As with most of Andrews‘ series, they are addictive as well as morbidly fascinating. Once you step foot inside the disturbing world of secrets, lies, betrayals, murders, and intrigue you are at the mercy of schadenfreude. What always kept my attention is the vain hope that the characters will somehow overcome-that there would be some glimmering possibility to overcome. The series begins with Dawn, a fourteen-year-old girl who learns she was abducted as a child by a destitute family. After reuniting with her ‗real‘ family, she learns the haunting reason her existence was a stain upon the Cutler family who owns one of the most prestigious resorts in the Virginias. The perspective in the series subsequently shifts to Dawn‘s daughter, Christie who was fathered by a famed opera singer, Michael Sutton in an illicit affair while Dawn was in New York. Through her, the reader learns more of the dark secrets of the Cutler family. The series ends through the eyes of one of the most hated characters within the series, which came as quite the surprise. Honestly, I think the last book is one of my favorites because Andrews depicts the villainess in three-dimensional form. Haunting, brutal, savage, and heartbreaking- immersed with elements of hope, courage, true love, and strength: The Cutler series is one that will keep you up at late hours until you devour every word.

O

riginating as a novel before hitting audiences in its striking onscreen adaptation, Arthur Golden‘s Memoirs of a Geisha (Vintage; Vintage Contemporaries Ed Edition, January 10, 1999) is a one that moved me to tears and clung to my soul in beauty and grace. Set in a pre-WWII Japan, the reader follows Sayuri on her way to

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becoming a geisha. Golden‘s knowledge of Japanese history is breathtaking and the writing fully immerses the reader in the intricate details of a social structure that held a hypnotic mystique in pre-WWII. One cannot help but feel reminiscence as he describes the aftermath of the culture and the mesmerizing world of the geisha after the war. As I read, I felt a loss as Sayuri and the other geisha had over the loss of their culture. I felt aghast as the pieces that were picked up after the war bore barely a resemblance to the lifestyle they once lived. I was overcome by the romanticism and longing that Sayuri felt for her beloved chairman and how every choice she made within her life and the unfortunate circumstances she found herself within, she resigned to her inner strength and desire for her Chairman to carry on. This book is an unspeakable work of art and worth a thousand reads. It is not one you just check out of the library, it is one you must own.

O

nce upon a time, Barry Eisler‘s critically acclaimed New York Times Bestselling novel ‗A Clean Kill in Tokyo‘ (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, March 26, 2013) hit the bookstands and became a national sensation within the literary world under the title ‗Rain Fall‘. Eisler republished his John Rain series independently under the titles he originally thought befitting and has since, expanded upon the characters within them-notably the notorious assassin, John Rain. Rain is a Japanese-American former soldier in the elite Special Forces, haunted by his past, and begrudged his own heritage and the idyllic anti-hero. After Vietnam, he began using his skills in the fine art of assassination through ‗natural causes‘. He maintains his mystery and paranoid, secretive lifestyle until he encounters Midori Kawamura, a jazz pianist, whom he winds up falling in love with despite his code of ethics to maintain a considerable amount of distance. Ironically enough, his paramour is the daughter of his latest hit. Brilliant and dark, thrilling and sensual, this novel will create an obsession for John Rain and the intriguing novels that follow within the series.

K

nitting together a yarn of supreme intricacy and universal awareness of how society can metaphorically become is none other than Lois Lowry‘s ‗The Giver‘ (Ember; Reissue edition, January 24, 2006). The future seems all too perfect; no crime, no war, no unemployment, and no poverty-everyone seems to live an idyllic, utopian life. The lives of everyone within this story embrace a strict

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routine until twelve-year-old Jonas was made the Receiver of Memories. You see, everyone was given a job upon their twelfth birthday under the premise that what is chosen for them is befitting of the inherent characteristics of their personality. Some are given the role of birthing children while others were aptly suited to caring for the elderly until such a time when the old ones are ‗released‘. The Giver describes the gentleman in charge of the memories of the past. Through the course of the training, Jonas learned more about the world in which they lived and what was sacrificed for this dark paradise. Darkly sinister in its moral ramifications, The Giver is a literary masterpiece that kept my attention through to the very end. It is a quick read, but probably one of the most powerful modern classics and one that should be read by everyone.

S

ublimely surreal and surreptitiously sinister, Max Barry‘s thrilling novel, ‗Jennifer Government‘ (Doubleday; 1st edition, January 21, 2003) is truly one of my favorites. I‘ve always been a fan of satires and this dystopian thriller is certainly up there on my list of favorites. Why do I consider it dystopian? Well, taxes are pretty much non-existent. Relative to the corporate conglomerates that hold a significant amount of power in the world we know-the government in this story is privatized. Curiously, the employees of every company in the world Barry creates take on the surname of the businesses they work for. Think George McDonalds, Amy Burger King, Frank Home Depot, etc. These are not specific examples from the book, per say, but you catch my drift. Jennifer Government is the equivalent to a Doberman at the gates for corporations and works, as you may guess, for the government. Twistedly funny and horrifyingly realistic, this novel will not only entertain you but make you really ponder how much power corporate America has in this world and how viciously cut-throat marketing can be. In this novel, it‘s enough to initiate bloodshed.

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G G G

Old Women, Old Dogs

T

he old lady‘s thin gray eyelashes flutter over dim blue irises, one eye squinting in evening light. The fireplace flickers with the hint of an ash or two that sparks to where the old dog naps and burns such a tiny hole in her coat that he just yawns. He whistles and snores like her husband once did. She places slippered feet on the worn velvet sofa and invites the dog up, pushing her largeness away just a little so her feet have room. Rain drips from gutters and pounds the roof like the mighty Colorado in springtime and she‘s a girl again listening to that rushing river of lost souls, grounded once more in the Rockies as the river races and pulses. ―I forgot to close the damper,‖ she says to the dog. ―I‘ll get it in the morning.‖ Tea tonight tastes too much like cinnamon for a tongue sterile with age, but she drinks it anyway remembering sweetened milk chai savored on the streets of Bombay a few lifetimes ago…perhaps she should add more cream next time and white sugar instead of brown. Sounds of croaking frogs and the snoring dog weave her thoughts together with the red and blue birds of paradise on the Oriental rug, their eyes turned to where the empty tea cup now stands. She traces frail fingers across her chin and over the soft downy hair that needed plucking last week but today she can‘t see to do a basic trim. She reads at arm‘s length shifting her feet this way and that till the dog

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jumps off the couch and drools on Hemingway‘s "Farewell to Arms". She picks up the empty cup and recalls a time when it used to be full. With a groan and a push off the sofa, she shuffles to the stove and boils the water in the teakettle, letting her face absorb the steaming warmth. The fireplace hisses a little and quiets down, fading out for the night. With a smile and a nod to the past, she meanders to the fireplace, bends down and closes the damper.

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Z Inspiration We brace, but from a height we fall into it. The last wave bucks against the side and the dinghy turns. And this is not a metaphor but a memory. From some June in early childhood when any submergence may have been a drowning. The toss and tumble of shining stones. Roar of collisions and eruptions. The sound of miles of water pounding on the drum of the inner ear. Yeats once called the modern poet a fish left at low tide to gasp away on shore. And all at once the memory, is a metaphor. I‘m still there I think. Cloudiness and coastal rain. Or the way sand grains clung like a mother to every inch of me. And yet each flap of silver gill reminds us what the ocean does to land.

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Slide of cartilage. Fall and rise of salt water. The shine of yellow scales that mimic the beaches as they dry between each rhythmic arrival of the sea. Breathe into me. Tidal wash, your breath in my mouth. Drown me. Fill my lungs with your husky shell-song. How all these fleets and crafts of time travel through such a small muscle. Or all the world‘s deepness through a single body left waterless now, and gasping on the strand.

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On Rice You have rice in your beard and I have hair in my rice It could be cat fur but I blame you because you cooked It must be the hint of Irish that gives you such fire red stubble in spite of your Nordic roots I don‘t know why I love your hair Come to think of it I‘ve probably eaten whole spoonfuls by now Four years into this dish I wonder if it‘s possible to swallow enough of you to be haunted with your essence build myself into a voodoo doll from the inside out share your joys and feel your pain as small red beans on white

F F F F F F F F F F

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U A X J Lao Fang and Xiao Fang What now? The exit tunnel in LAX looks deserted. In the past hour, Lao Fang has been peeking at every woman about twenty years of age. He has even followed a few of them, earning himself angry glares and biting remarks like ―Are you crazy‖. The accusation is not groundless: he is there to pick up his daughter Xiao Fang, without knowing what she looks like. Fourteen years ago when he decided to leave, she was still shy of five. Ever since then, he has kept moving from place to place in order to make a living. Only three years ago did he finally settle down in southern California and start his own remodel business. For seven days a week, he rises and retires with the sun. It‘s been a tenuous work, but his wallet is getting fuller, prompting him to bring his daughter over. He knows nothing about American school system, nor does he care too much. It is his longing to see her that makes his eyes glow. According to a Chinese saying, a girl changes eighteen times while growing up. It is beyond his imagination what time has turned Xiao Fang into after such a long absence. In his memory, she was a tiny girl with big speaking eyes, a pair of pigtails, and a tear-smeared face when scared. Their dialogue one day before his departure sticks vividly with him as if it happened only yesterday. Xiao Fang: Daddy, where are you going? 98


Lao Fang: America. Xiao Fang: Is it far? Lao Fang: Very far, across the ocean. Xiao Fang: When will you come back? Lao Fang: Before you grow up. I will bring you a lot of gifts. Xiao Fang: Wonderful. How can I grow up faster? Before he said goodbye the next day, he brushed her face with his stubbles. No sooner had he turned to go than she let out an ear-piercing wail. A stream of gem-like tears flooded her chubby cheeks. So many years have passed, but his memory seems to have frozen to that moment. Having failed to keep his word, he is now willing to do anything to redeem himself. How he wishes that when they meet her sparkling eyes would say: Daddy, don‘t blame yourself; I have yet to grow up. From the tunnel the wheels of a luggage cart are heard rolling. With his heart jumped into the throat, he is strongly tempted to step over the yellow line and dash down the ramp. However, his legs have suddenly turned wobbling. When a small figure shows up sheepishly from around the corner, his pounding heart almost stops beating. He feels paralyzed at the sight of a young face, a face that is instantly flooded with a stream of gem-like tears.

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Experience The Pea With each green pea you eat it's a new day, you're more awake, erudite, a little risquĂŠ, socially aware and alert to exciting new shenanigans. What do you want from a legume, anyway?

M

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Minoan Islands Its rocks jut out to sea; forgotten blend of land, dark salt, and the bones of those forgotten washed ashore—
 their egos like the minions that rush to rocks then recede, short lived, so vibrant, so transitory. I wonder on this small jut of an island, its rocky bit of land
 that reaches out to an endless sea, why I was called. This end
 of the world— of a place, where one
 could so easily be dismissed, their own life a minion or minnow, sad swimming fish with one tail lost sight of its pack; the tourists swim in Speedos. They hike with backpacks, wonder as they pass at the fateful symmetry of those tortured isles:
 they search for wood, dark currants, lost ore. They ask: will the gods awaken—spit stones like Talos, cast bronze and fire in all directions? Those tourists march further up that hill, swim in sun, sunbathe on flat rocks, board boats to island shacks, share beer, fresh
 fish reeled wildly from those seas on rusted wires; the beer, the fish, the seas—it is all transparent, those swimming waters

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that buried so many. The tourists laugh; they swim back home, hear mystical Minoan chimes at night, they think volcanic ash. They taste it on their lips in dreams. They dream at times of being fish—those scattered minnows washed ashore— their scintillating fins splash ruefully as water turns. I sit as sun rushes down, wonder as water rushes toward my ankles:
 Why was I called? Asking only for air, amassed in layers of clouded memories, I ask again, why must I return to watch those bronze cascading stones?

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Mixed Signals

He could recite

the architectonics of her soul almost by rote, like a song he had learned as a child, taking him back to that happy place however briefly, intermittently. That feeling of oneness in him which knotted his heart up, churning in her pain, deferentially, almost

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deferentially, almost.

Jagrat

.

P

Q In spite of little errors-

Q

slopping coffee on the wet pavement and standing for an instant and a half too long hoping to reverse time -we are all to agree on the Real while awake.

P 104


Sister, Wood and Rain

Q

She was a young woman in the woods weeping, weeping where acorns green in the wind, weeping where the liquid part of trees unwind.

P

She always said if the worst came she‘d welcome the dirt in her fall. De Oliveira came to town. How dark, how sweet, painting over the cracks. Bridal veil, lilies, rosehip, sap. There was no hiding place in those wet woods. Leaves whispered songs, bird notes rich and clear.

Q

She said hold this mottled memory close. And learn how to make a shelter for fear. 105


The Personal Narrative Of A Woman Who Lived Her Death In Silence Let me tell you a story: one day, one day, I‘m lying in my painted coffin, all uncomfortable wrapped up tight, and I mean tight. Layers and layers of plastered linen shaped, moulded around my dead body. And I‘m livid. I‘m lying there in a huff as my short-lived, cut short, full of possibilities life is not happening. This is death, death but not as we know it. I‘m not lying at rest, I‘m lying trapped. Locked in, locked in wood, locked in a bodily world of silence. But this one day, say afternoon, things start to unravel and things start to move. I start to feel a tugging of my feet, not gentle either. More like a pull. And I‘m thinking at last, I‘m transcending into paradise, into the afterlife. At long last, I am being recognised by the spirit world. At long last, I will be able to live again, as this is death, death but not as I planned it. I‘ve been working on my face. Composing it for when I meet my ancestors. They‘ll take one look at me, judge me to be worthy and good then welcome me back to me. During this pulling of feet, I get a whiff of outside. I start imagining tall green trees

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stretching into a perfect blue sky. A sky packed with fresh air, open airy spaces like floating fluffy clouds. I‘m waiting to exhale. But something‘s not right. I‘ve been looking at the same ridge of grain moving back and forth for maybe the hundredth time. This is still death death from head to foot. I hear myself crack with the effort. Hear myself cry inside with pain. I get the feeling, I‘m stuck, stuck in limbo never to see my lovely mother again. Then slowly at first, then faster and faster, my feet, my exposed feet, thighs and belly are pushed back, exposed no more. All that dangles outside my coffin is a length of linen. Well I‘m either passing over into the afterlife or not. I‘m either alive or dead. Dead in a windowless cage of my life with no tongue to tell my tale, to tell my name, to be recognised. What then? What then, I‘ll tell you. One evening I‘m back into the world of my childhood and I‘m running. I‘m running through the desert with Boo, my dog, and I see the stars blinking overhead extra bright and passing through. And as far as I know this is the place of my presence: in the night, in the stars,

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J (A Tanka)

I wistfully wait for another year to pass me by... clipped wings shudder at the thought of flight

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F

Writing Workshop Prompts & ideas

F

By Marie Lightman Hello everyone. I like a lot of people remember when I bought my first album, it was ABBA which I still quite like. I don't often turn on music to write too however I find it evocative and I often find images and ideas popping in to my head when I am listening to music, especially classical. My first prompt I tried at The Writers' Cafe on a lovely spring evening, when the light was just starting to go low. I had come with a CD for us to listen to and write too, however when I opened it, It was missing so we we listened to what ever was being played in the cafe at that moment. The randomness is important. Sit in a room with just the radio and tune into some random music, not too busy. Free write. Then retune and free write again. Do this 3 more times. Take emotions and colours and maybe characters from the music. We all have our favorite bands or songs. Make a list of say 10- 15 of these song titles and make a poem from them. Thirdly this is one I am doing tomorrow , which is sort of related. The BBC have a fabulous sound archive online. Download different soundscapes like slugs sliding across a cave and sci-fi robot noises and free write. Happy writing! 109


Bedside Book of Escapists We say the magic words. Presto-chango. Houdini is kissing her neck and rubbing his silky cape upon her breasts. The slow drip of the faucet. Steady gas flame under the teapot. Reproduction of a print by Picasso. Open bag of licorice cough drops . . . The red bird escapes the yellow bird. Ah, the art of redirection. We watch each other‘s hands where once we were each other‘s gloves. She opens my hollow tooth with her tongue. To find a key to my heart. And the handcuffs.

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The wind blows our bedroom curtains up over our naked bodies. We strike a pose beneath them as if to prove for certain that we are no longer up our sleeves . . . The art of climax. The art of escape. At the heart of all magic is sacrifice. She lights what‘s left of a candle and its flickering flame reveals the door concealed behind the bedroom door‘s concealed door.

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“The young may go, but the old must go” ‘Manx is a doomed language – an iceberg floating into southern latitudes.’ William Gill, 1859.

Eyes always closed now, thin lids fluttering like a moth, trapped in a gas lamp. Eyes that taught me to wink. Who knew if he‘d been listening? He had stopped speaking and he never wrote anything down. He doesn‘t want to be here and really he isn‘t. He‘s on the Manx Steam Railway, part way up Snae Fell. Hop-tu-Naa Hop-tu-Naa Ginny the witch went over the house To fetch some sticks to lather the mouse Hop-tu-Naa

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Hop-tu-Naa Holidays in Laxey fraught with long-tailed fellas. Friendly noises, words, spoken in such high spirits. Slaynt as shee Aseashdyvea As maynrys Son dy bra He and uncle round the Christmas table, I learnt the words but guessed the spellings. He never wrote anything down. Drinking, smiling. They have a word: Brabbag, for warming legs up by the fire. He‘d embarrass my gran: ‗Did I tell you, lad, when I met Barbara?‘ ‗Eric give over!‘ ‗We were working on the lights at Huddersfield Tech and your gran walks past with her trolley. Show ‗em how you were walking, love.‘ I smirk and he winks at me. My gran jabs him with a smile and a shake of the head for making her feel nineteen again. To health And peace And length of life

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And happiness forever. But loud now. Culnahenya! Competing voices. The closed eyes. The clag baase. ‗You‘re like me, lad, you don‘t like noise. You don‘t like arguing.‘ We‘d play with his trains. ‗They‘re not toys, they‘re models‘. I know PWM, CTC, signals, cranes, lights, horns, all NMRA compliant. Now I‘m a right Gandy Dancer. Now we have our own language too. Gollsheedylhergy He‘s heading out, but out means west. The Manx line lies decommissioned. Clearboard up and feeder inactive Deadhead trains run down the spur. He went without a word. NY AEGID MYR GOLL, AGH NY SHENN SHEGIN GOLL. I spoke at his funeral. The words I found written in block capitals on a square of homosote the same colour as his face.

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Without Her Feet

J

they found her, buried, without her feet, in an Iron Age grave, this Iron

Age woman, without her feet, just down the hill from the Manor House Bed & Breakfast, where today Marney O'Connell makes beds and cinnamon scones for the guests who come in from the city, winding A350, the trunk road, for a weekend away from what's hard, from what works them. This woman, buried without her feet, barely in her thirties, interred just a stone's throw from The Cider House Tourist Shoppe, where Marney's brother Tom who quit the water company job to open a shop, to sell miniatures and paperbacks and maps to the countryside, 16 th century farmhouses, genteel roll of field and farm, carefully quaint, a quaint and quiet trip back in time for those same travelers who want to pretend, for a day, a gentler way, a kinder time, and so they follow the maps in their new boots, bought for the country, bought for holiday, bought to take them back, but not so far back, that they know, or even wonder, about the woman, the Iron Age woman, who was, at some point 3000 years ago, held down by hands that meant her harm, held down in the Wiltshire dirt, while they cut off her feet, and buried first her, then her feet three meters away, as if, it seems, perhaps to bind her to that place, that she might always be there, buried there, without her feet, unable to walk, to run, to ever from that place escape.

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Z The Oracles of the Centralia Mine-Fire

Once disconnected from the formerly necessary intravenous drip of the future With chalk help-wanted/help-us signs pointing in failed satellites towards a black-hole (No doubt, the Midwest has been called that before) Here‘s an interesting story to chew on next time you see dusts at the edge of vision In 1962 the firemen burned the trash at the dump like always in the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania But this fire, like a virus, caught on to the coal veins below It‘s been burning ever since We didn‘t come till far after that, after the ground had begun to stretch and distort Roads buckled in mobius strip patterns We came out of the forest, thin and aching for something beyond hunger Beyond ember or camera-flash or the taste of beer Towards the moment of fracture, origin point of Albino footsteps Pulling all the world towards it, oh so slow the next town over will catch The whole nation gurgling away towards a lethargic center drainplug Like a terrible opera, somebody‘s got to be there to tickle the tumor And like most things here in the land of the free, home of the deal

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How many of us do you think there are? With childhood medicines trailing from wounds made in deals with salesmen to be jusst like them Clothed in ghost-town rags and drawing latitudes in the sawdust Was it a match, a cow kicking a lantern or a dirty word that conflagrated the underground? In the let-go country Serpentinely melodic steam released for 60 years, cookin up something goood (Better be) For we do not burn The grey far buildings that point toothy in the north, they burn Lingering in the atmosphere taunting forever to happen already But beneath our sandals is only a smoldering A shaking of smoke twisting pines and airplanes through the heartland Echo of old conspiratorial dancehalls: I have seen the white-room Listened to its walls sound shotglasses popping cheap like fireworks over the stove Use your fingers to keep track The future is a narcotic I was promised dependence on Harvested vaporous and long-armed We drink in the toxic of what will be Oblations to Appalachian Cassandras who rode waves of rock and mountain til they leveled off Here, where the wild dogs laugh at thin children: it‘s OUR meat now I promise you don‘t want to even glimpse my oracle She breaths industrial seashell foams Enough to strip the enamel from your false teeth What? I bet you thought my microwave grimace was authentic too! As the letters peeled off billboards We‘re digging her out of the milky sky as the dirt rains black on my tattooed shoulders Allegations of crocodiles in the soda-fountains surfacing, these boys Peaking yellow, they look at tarnished pocketwatches And disappear bloop, my radar hand Let go Like a gunfighter dreaming the day he finally breaks

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Demands: All you passing English-teachers best turn over your corkscrews and car keys peaceably now My Trojan oracle, that illiterate bastard rioted the city before we could Too late for a warning shot to help We see him after-the-fact in a plague passing through but learning the history is a fugue In the temples and in the garages I dreamed something blue trying to open my ear And now we wait, we always wait Legs spread over the entrance to the underworld with a chant on the fingertips For the mainstreet to widen, give us more For the audience to suckle back into uncandled balconies Where their pets waller arias harder than I can push back They put it in my ham sandwiches reeking secret And I gather mist from froze open eyelids in shallow television screens of open source sesame A dose of tease ripped nervous into headlines of lottery tickets to have the privilege of guzzling tropical storms Gasman, the old fashioned scheme And after 5 it‘s all-you-can-eat We are both without and withheld They‘re not going to listen, even though there are more tides than just the lunar Not trapped but returning Carbon monoxide detectors long swallowed with the polluted sap of Maple trees bleeding out in green and winter From all the gone cities, sunken cars and painted lips pressing questions like dollars into my palm Fortune teller: I‘ll give it to you if you agree to just touch this guitar that I taught the songs of Chernobyl Imbibing the pressurization of your future from a forgotten rock mechanism Waking pangs of stripped contingencies We are thirsty And yes, as you may have guessed from the rambling in my center We are many

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Infinity One Inside this wild unpolished skull I am alone and deaf. Watch the sound of the fireworks in awful ringing silence. And yet there is one thing I hear.

M

Two Beautiful holds up a fragile globe, cracked and glowing red like a Christmas bauble, raw and sticky inside, ready to implode. She says 'time is running out'. But I am trapped in this charred cage! She says 'love me, love me before you crack'. But I am a woman now, Beautiful; I cannot love! She says 'look at me'. Her eyes are two spinning globes. Three I am aflame and I must burn to ashes. I am afraid that here is not enough air to feed the fire. Who will euthanize me then? I have three eyes: with one I'm looking out of two. Four

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Death by desire, bullet or fire, poison, water, rope or knife. I'll die from desire for death. But oh this unbroken silence... We'll crawl on all fours just to hide from it. Five What is your favourite season? Life, Decay, Death, Resurrection? If I weren't so uncouth, I'd say I like spring. I like May. Nearly summer. Flowers. Sun. Soft earth. Six I dreamt the skull was a hexagon back to my dear nightmares. My old pyramids were burned, the glass needles broken, and the sea of boiling gold turned to concrete. I was a dry little mummy in the withered shape that stopped shifting. Seven I was never lucky. First of all, I was forced into existence, and became a parasite. Now I have to be good and die and go to paradise. Tough luck. Eight One night I saw a spider. We looked at each other and, for a moment, swapped places.

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I was never more afraid of human faces. Nine The first time I died was when I was conceived, for the certainty of death had killed me. When I was thirteen I looked in the mirror and my reflection ate itself from the inside. But my great great great grandmother was a cat. Zero Go to the beach and chant a strange song that you find under your pillow. I did once. A mermaid came out of the water. I asked, 'How many corpses are there in the sea?' She swam away and brought them to me. 'None'.

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(Poem) "I have been studying how I may compare This prison where I live unto the world; And for because the world is populous, And here is not a creature but myself, I cannot do it. Yet I'll hammer it out." -Shakespeare, Richard II, Act V.I The world I fathom rhetorically orbits around the whirr of a dust-peppered triad of turbine limbs inbreeding infinitely as electricity's treaty permits into a smorgasbord whirl of processed plastic white A remedial sun I compose to counter outside's oven bulb in the world I do not fathom Heat's sniper of humidity is not lost on me with no canonized sense even to establish it with And even my own remedial sun restricts a reality-knighting touch with its ozone cage pried open in unseen haste - a victim of college's fugitive waltz encased in the jazz fusion dance hall of the world I cannot fathom Is there a dual left-footed interpretive dance of a carbon dimension outside of reality's steaming kitchen to fathom me?

F F F F F F F F F

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1939 must have been a leap-year Call me a coward if you think I‘m being altogether too LOUD, If you think it will help drive some sense into me Go complain to the neighborhood association, or to human resources or to the landlord or the police Tell them to knock on my door and tell me to turn my music down Tell them about all my shouting and spitting and unpleasantness About this problem I am sorry to have to do this After all, you‘re only out here trying to enjoy your smoke break and text a friend But you know what I‘m talking about, so don‘t be obtuse please We aren‘t characters in a French film now are we? All I‘m saying is: Maybe the smoke we‘re making is just camouflage For burning factories, or they‘re perfectly healthy Just doing what they do, burning I don‘t know And I really don‘t mean to be rude about it But they‘re putting our names on their lists again, The wallpaper around here is quite thin, easy to listen through And I saw your name too, yes I did Right there whispered in blue ink, Your name I suppose that to them it must be like breaking in an old pair of shoes, Only worn briefly and so really still Good as new The men in gray suits are checking all the junk mail to make sure nobody is planning An escape

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And even though my wound has yet to finish healing itself And, as you are so fond of saying: If I have nothing to hide then why should I be mad or care at all? Well, to speak plainly: I have been So very busy Washing the melted wax from the candlesticks while the lightbulb on a string flickers and hums, Making sure my nails are just the right length, my beard just a shade And around my neck, a tie the color of the sea if you squint just right Convincingly professional in preparation for the end of the charade I wrote my name in chalk on a suitcase And I do hope to find it when I arrive I must be getting close to the north The children are shoveling snow in the street They‘re getting ready And so should you For when you see the smiling man in the corner You should think of me, as he opens his mouth Exhaling all of it Think of me with my pockets stuffed with fireplace ashes The enemy is planning something You DO know who The enemy are? Don‘t you? That‘s what I thought… So if I am a rat then let me be a rat, let me be Please, listen just to one more thing I have to say Before you decide what to do Your supermen, your ubermensch, your wal street playboys and fraternity brothers on the covers of People Magazine in the supermarket I am not of them And I dream with the tender shame of a young man lying in silk sheets for the first time Of burning them, right to the roots of their great tree I will be kind though, demanding only an eye for this blindness so they can still see But you know, it‘s funny (that‘s why we still chuckle, because it‘s funny) And the laughing man in the corner He came to me like a dancer

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Just as I come to you, ridiculous And he opened me up With the hands Wide from ears to belly And before he closed me back up with silver thread that only shows in moonlight He took four words, the size of a large dose of aspirin And he left them inside me Sweet orchid breath of the defectors, ―Darling, Naptime is over‖

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Come join us in our second birthday party! Submissions for our ―Celebration‖ themed anthology are currently open in poetry, fiction, art and photography. Send us in your work by 3oth September at miracle.ezine@yahoo.com.

See you at the celebration!

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Theme: Travel The theme can be interpreted in any way and we’d like you to give your imagination a wild direction. Your artworks and literary pieces can be any topic while we would love to read theme based works. Check our website later for more details. Thank you.

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Issue 9  

The Cage Edition.

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