RIGGWELTER 2020 ed. Jonathan Kinsman
The following works are copyrighted to their listed authors ÂŠ2020. Riggwelter Press is copyrighted to Jonathan Kinsman ÂŠ2017.
riggwelterpress.wordpress.com riggwelterpress.tumblr.com facebook.com/riggwelterpress twitter.com/riggwelterpress
Foreword Ice Bright in the Harbor Under the Skin Home Help Caliban to Miranda Bomb Scare We are watching out for you My Body is a Barrelhouse Ringed and Tracked Fly Away Home In Search of Basho The weed Calverley Woods after hours Instructions for a Home Florist Buzzing by Your body is a house â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Part three Fisher Murmuration Remains of a Broken Plate Footnotes to a scientific paper concerning the possible detection of a sub-atomic particle Craniofacial Prosthesis The Tip At the Pond shame visits with orpheus Et son visage danse avec tout le reste Late Night at the Sonic Drive-In Troy Take the argument outside The pretentious food/A nervous poem holding hands Kiss Once, Wash Twice The Tattoo Artist Speaks What Is Remembered III Exactly like her Brown Blossom Teaching Ballet to Children on Zoom during a Pandemic Contributors
4 5 6 10 11 12 17 18 19 20 21 22 27 28 29 31 32 34 35 36 37 38 40 41 44 45 46 48 49 50 51 53 54 55 56 60 61 62
Happy National Poetry Day! (Well, here in the UK, at least). We hope today that you write something, read something and listen to something excellent that gives you something to chew on for the month ahead. During the pandemic, the arts scene in particular has suffered financially with the cancellation of many events and many artists being self-employed and lacking proper government support. If you’re in the market for a book or a CD today, please consider supporting a poet – the best way to do so is to buy directly from the artist or through their publisher – many publishers and artists have special offers and sales on to celebrate the day. If you don’t have anything in particular in mind yet, have a look at the contributor biographies at the end of this issue – many of our contributors have books of their own or have works in anthologies you might want to take a look at. With that in mind, this issue is all about presence and absence. We’re all feeling this keenly in the current environment and a few of the works here directly concern the effects of the current pandemic. These works concern loss, grief, bitterness, paranoia, love, secrets, beauty, art and nature – how they wax and wane in our lives like the moon. We hope you enjoy this issue and likewise, we hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well. This too will pass.
Jonathan Kinsman (Founding Editor)
Ice Bright in the Harbor
Ice bright in the harbor heals into a flat field. It complains underfoot, gnawing its stony scars as if scrapping a bone clean against the teeth on the edge of the world. Sometimes nobody is around to hear this. The ice simply speaks to the wind. There have been times I’ve heard this hidden shout, snapped like a branch, held like a snarl, emanating from somewhere deep within where two sheaves can’t help but cease holding together. A deep tear lets in no light. But a crack, which forms like a tear, is an opening able to be closed again. Sometimes it’s not surprising when a window of sky opens on the surface like a wound. Dane Hamann
Under the Skin
The knife scored the underside of his skin. Originally confined to Neil’s belly, and then his chest, more recently it had taken to travelling down his arms. It would start in one spot and then it would move and, if there was opportunity to centre himself, to breathe and Be for one solitary moment, he would concentrate on its path as it sawed through flesh and sinew. Just blunt enough right now not to break through. “It itches, you say?” Dr Ogilvy asked. Neil guessed he must be a pipe smoker, the way he chewed on his glasses. A pipe, Neil thought, might be a good look for the new job. The look of a man who could be trusted. Comfortable enough in his own skin. “It itches like hell,” Neil told him, before apologising for any offence caused. “And it’s on the inside?” the doctor asked, reaching out with a finger to give Neil’s exposed stomach a good poke. “Yeah,” Neil said, “underneath.” He planned to wear the waistcoat for the interview next week. The one he’d split up the back to better disguise the strain on the teddy bear buttons. Dr Ogilvy wrote something on his pad. “Underneath?” Neil nodded. “From below,” he said. The fountain pen scratched across the surface of the paper. “As if…” Neil waited for the writing to stop and for the doctor’s eyes to come up under the bushy canopy of his eyebrows. “Look, I know this is going to sound crazy.” Neil’s eyes flicked over to the computer screen beside him, pleased that the information there would never appear on his CV; worried about how much he had to keep from the panel every time he put himself through an interview. “But it’s like…it’s like it’s a message.”
The inhibited applause told Neil that this crowd were going to defer any indication of approval until he had finished the presentation. He couldn’t blame them. If he had seen the sweating, red-faced figure at the podium, shuffling his index cards and unsteadily decanting his second glass of water, he would have held back, too. It had got worse since Dr Ogilvy had given his not-even-a-diagnosis. “It’s just how your body is now, Neil. We all of us have these…peculiarities. Most often, they don’t mean anything. Certainly nothing sinister. If every chest wall twinge was a heart attack, we wouldn’t have a spare A and E bed in the country.”
Most often they don’t mean anything. Once again, Ogilvy had entirely failed to get the point. As the audience in today’s cheap Best Western conference room also failed to get the point. Which was sort of ironic, Neil determined, attempting to look at it from outside himself, because his insides really were getting the point – the knife continuing its non-linear progress, tightening into calligraphic curlicues of searing heat. Under the skin. Once the talk was over, Neil found the nearest toilet, threw up, tried to breathe, and ripped off jacket, shirt and tie to see what had not been there for Dr Ogilvy, had not been there for all those months before in the desperate meetings where he’d pretended at indigestion or even, on one occasion, an attack of lumbago. Neil searched the skin for the source of the tearing sensation that ripped its way from armpit to wrist. He turned his arm and kneaded the flab and cursed it loud enough for someone in the cubicle across the way to tell him where to go. He searched the skin. He cursed the absence of any outward sign.
He found an outward sign. He watched the words form.
The interview was on the Friday afternoon. The sensation by now was as much permanent as it was insistent and, although the marks could be covered with shirt, tie and carefully applied bandage beneath, it was harder not to give away the effect here than it had been in the meetings and the presentations and the consultations with Dr Ogilvy. In the end, mid-way through explaining his passion for the business and lying about what he would do if they considered him a serious candidate for the role, the gouging from within, below, inside became too much for Neil and he had to ask the panel to stop. He had to explain. He had to tear open his sleeve and unroll the bandage and present the arm to them and accept whatever they’d think. Neil didn’t recognise the quotation written in blood. Perhaps they did.
“Then he has bowed as low to knaves and fools as to the honest dignity of virtue .” There. The proof of what was trying to get out. What he had been trying to contain. Written in blood. Written in ink. Written across stomach and chest and arms in red biro. Over and over and over until ink and blood were one. Until it could not be denied. By Neil himself. Or by anyone else. The chair of the interview panel looked at his fellows and there was a moment, and then another, before the nods commenced and the smiles broadened and the hands extended and Neil heard what he heard every time.
“We think you’ll fit in very well here. Congratulations, Mr Burrows. Welcome to the team.” And Neil stood, as he always did, stripped to the waist in the cubicle afterwards and he pressed the nib into his flesh until he could cope with what could never be said, and what he could never show. Even when it was right there, so very close, under the skin.
She polishes her face into the table never the same one twice. The cells of her brain keep changing. The metal cylinder squirts its usual white-mess. She wonders how it turns water to air, how it makes the knots and wrinkles smile; isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t smiling everything. She worries about bills and school holidays and landfill and how the table was a tree once, how she had leaves once. Helen Kay
Caliban to Miranda
I'm not your daddy no I'm Caliban. My mama considered a witch by your daddy a foreign man. Pass me the bottle of liquor. I never met my daddy, but I showed you and yours my native land. You washed ashore shipwrecked, you and your daddy, and polluted my earth with magic and lies. You wanna call me daddy? Another surprise, so let's go to the beach dissect cuttlefish fill our tums name the constellations & I'll teach you my tongue. Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gonna weep, your daddy, when you birth my son and I reclaim whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mine. Gaetano Britt
When I was five, I would wonder discontentedly why I couldn’t have been born a princess. What blind chance landed me in a middle-class family in Toronto when I could as easily have been born a few thousand kilometres away in England, to Princess Diana? I’d have made an agreeable and genteel sister to Prince William. When his mother was killed in that horrible car accident, maybe I would have regretted the switch. Strangely, I didn’t think of my childish wish at the time. I was only reminded of it in the leadup to the Iraq War. No longer wondering why I was unfortunate enough to be a commoner; my anguished disbelief now focused on the fact that I lived comfortably in a peaceful country while so many other individuals around the world, through equally blind chance, were born into a life of dirt, hunger, and disease. Or worse yet, bombs being dropped on their heads. This last seemed the most intolerable: an act of deliberate suffering inflicted by the privileged on those who already enough problems to deal with. When I learned of the plan to bomb Iraq, I was at that impressionable age when it sickens you to sit back comfortably and watch faraway events play out.
The day of the protest stretched before me like a fresh round of a video game. Perilous situations would test my agility. Intimidating aggressors with unsuspected powers could leap out, ending my game. As I stood on the subway platform, my backpack set squarely on my shoulders, anxiety gnawed at my mind. Jeans would blend into the crowd, but faced with a choice between white or red running shoes, I superstitiously chose red for victory, a decision which now seemed foolish. “Have you seen a girl with red shoes?’ ‘All we know for sure is that she was wearing red shoes.”
People were being drawn to the U.S. Embassy from all directions, like metal shavings to a magnet. University Avenue’s wide lanes were emptied of traffic. A helicopter hovered like an inquisitive mosquito. A reporter stood atop a CTV News van, clutching her microphone as she stared down the lens. It looked so silly when you could see what was happening beyond the frame. Police on the fringes were fit as athletes, flexing their muscles at the starting line. Some hung out the doors of police SUVs, legs splayed. They talked without looking at each other, eyes scanning for disturbance. I wondered how they’d square it with themselves that evening, the fact that they’d spent their working day defending the oppressors. “Brothers and sisters,” boomed the voice of a union leader. Placards swayed, flags undulated above the crowd. So many anti-war sub-categories: Communists, Marxist-Leninists, environmentalists, pacifists, Raëlians, human rights campaigners, LGBT activists, the Free Palestine movement, Socialists, New Democrats, liberal intellectuals, union members, artists, writers, rappers. Posters and banners decorated with images of Guernica and Che Guevara, which appear on the same page of The
Canadian Oxford Dictionary as
guerrilla n. 1 a person taking part in an irregular war waged by small bands operating independently, often against a stronger, more organised force, with surprise attacks, etc. 2
informal an activist using controversial or sensational means to support a cause.
“We don’t want you in our country!” one of the speakers bawled at the white building where a single striped flag hung placidly in folds. A few people clapped uneasily. There had been an editorial cartoon in the paper that morning depicting a pathetic, doe-eyed little girl, wringing her teddy bear’s arm and calling for peace. What about those little boys in the US government, itching to play with their drones and rocket launchers? Why are they cast as sage pragmatists who know just how many lives can reasonably be sacrificed? “When I say ‘peace’, you say ‘now’! Peace!” “Now!” “Peace!” “Now!” “No blood for oil!” Did these people really believe their protest would make a difference? I separated myself from the crowd and headed for a quiet side street south of the embassy. My mind fixed on my destination: the AGO, sanctuary of beauty and ideals. The art gallery would be the last place they’d look. I hoped to sneak back to the safety of home once things had calmed down. I slowed at the embassy’s side gate, which was blocked by a half dozen officers. The back wall, hopefully unguarded, would be the same height. Eight feet didn’t sound like a lot, but contemplating it from this angle, the weight of my backpack on my shoulders, I recalled pitiful high school efforts to lob even a football: I never achieved much height or distance. Today, I’d been counting on adrenaline, but the knot that had formed in my stomach sapped the strength from my
limbs. Taking a few deep breaths to steel myself, I couldn’t help listening in on a conversation between two officers. “What’re you doing tonight?” “Going to see that new movie, Bend it Like Beckham.” “I’ve heard it’s amazing. Which theatre are you going to?” “Varsity. I’m meeting one of my buddies there, and his girlfriend’s bringing along one of her friends.” “Maybe some romance on the cards?” The officer standing casually beside her bike put one hand on her waist and cocked her head. The sun flashed on the silver wire of her glasses. The other officer laughed, leaning forward on the handlebars of his bike, balancing with one foot on the pavement. “We’ll see.” An embarrassed smile creased the smooth flesh of his cheek. A couple of joggers bounced past. If I started to run, I would overtake them instantly. My rage was a Roman candle: by its nature, destined for harmless release. I began to move away from the embassy, plotting a new anticlimactic path: go down to the lake, toss the backpack in the water, and sprint off that fury that had failed to find its target. I could almost hear the hollow beat of my feet pounding the wooden planks. “Just a minute.” A large hand landed on my shoulder. I looked up at a pock-marked face, a moustache hanging like a caterpillar above a hard mouth. I tried to control my own features, which started to tremble. “Mind if I have a look at your bag?”
I rifled through my memory in a helpless panic for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There wasn’t any sub-section about the right to carry suspiciously large bags, but surely there was something against random searches. “Ma’am? Would you mind showing us your bag?” Straps slid from my shoulders. The sound of zippers pulled firmly open. I sank to my knees on the sidewalk, head bowed. Unseen hands grabbed my arms, pulling me roughly to my feet. I was shoved into the back of a police car where, absurdly, I tried the door. Like a child-proof lock, it only opened from the outside.
We are watching out for you Zoe Cassandra
My Body is a Barrelhouse
of shattered glass and wasted wine, dartboards of missed shots hung proud upon her iron walls. She houses weary feet that punch her varnished floor with puddles of fresh rainwater, runaways from the garden of the earth under the pull of her skinâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;how they dance to jukeboxes of blues and ragtime into the night. I extort electric virgins before the spirits. The fun is done, wavering, seeking, walking in and out of a world of clandestine exchanges on swinging trestles; she closes for the day. My body is a mother in herself, but on afternoons that lack enough sun, curls up in a soft bed, reminded of tiny, fetal remains dissolving in her bones as she dreams of life. Take your mind off the screen, let's talk. The somatic substances in her symposium of breathing breasts, alight from the equilibrium flowing through her surplus veins, she has attuned herself to a mediocre state of yarn, tissue, skin and clusters of dendritic designs all the way to her static heart. Being me is limiting. Who plumbed hollow holes through the heavy hinges of her studded doors as she rested, rain-dust lining her cheeks in silhouettes of tears by the fireside? Her appendages stretch out like piers to the sea. She runs her naked tongue over ectomorphic configurations of my troubled mind. I am falling asleep by the hearth, brandy in hand. Watch the fire dance in shapes I am built of. Anannya Uberoi
Ringed and Tracked
Wings held firm with tender care as the webbed leg receives its bracelet , released to follow earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s magnetic lines, northwards from the wintering grounds knowing when to lead, when to slipstream through the tunnels of the gales, descend to forage with diligence and caution, feed oil and preen, rise with the flock, locked within the freedom of the air. Frank McMahon
One leg extended, mute acceptance of the fitted clasp, encoded signals checked, rules and strictures read and signed, released, reporting as directed to plod from zero hours to zero. Inhale, the lesson says, deeply when stress surrounds, choke the forming curse, be at night where you should be. Not quite a brand on forehead or an arm but the prison of time prescribed, the steps counted until the crime is walked away.
Fly Away Home Before they had beaks, Amy cradled them in her hands, skin to shell. Nestled them in silk scarves in an old dresser drawer. Bathed them in golden light while the speckled calcium arced over their wetdark heads. Waited for their beaks to harden. Counted thousands of blind nods against the pale. Every time the local game warden whisked off his shiny aviators, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d eye the badges on his biceps instead: which one said he could handle goslings barehanded, wield a pair of nail clippers, grab a soft wing & snip? I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t blame Amy for slamming the bathroom door & locking it fast while the fluffy goslings slipped out of the metal popcorn bowl. Flocked about her bare ankles. Tiny palmate talons clicking on the ceramic tiles. Every wing intact except one. Jessica Hudson
In Search of Basho
The air smells of orange blossom, and I suddenly realise that I have never seen an orange tree in blossom, and am unlikely to do so at the back end of a Yorkshire winter, climate change or no climate change. So, I follow it as if it was a sound: not a voice calling, but maybe an ice cream van in a back alley; or a radio in an overgrown garden, playing a song that’s familiar, though you can’t remember who it’s by. I follow it through car parks and retail parks, where foxes hold domain over everything we no longer want, and I follow it across rocks and beaches, where plastic licks the ocean like the back of a stamp. When I get to the source, it is nearly dark, and night birds are trying out their wings amidst inconsequential chatter. I ask them about the orange trees, and who imagined them so far from Seville, but they’re busy checking maps and weather gauges, readying themselves for the scented dark. Oz Hardwick
It is quiet on their back porch. They overlook a small patch of grass butted against a red desert. Mountains in the distance and small developments creep in from all directions. Before long it won’t be so peaceful. Small families moving in mean small children. Small children mean noise. Now it's just coyotes and windsound. Sometimes rain and with it thunder. Those nights are their favorites. The crash and excitement against their solitude. At the edge of the grass, before their world slopes down into another, a tall grey weed sways. Neither of them remember it being there the day before. Just beyond it are cactus and sage and bright flowers of the desert. “If we’re not careful,” he says. “That weed’ll take over our whole yard. It’ll get into the foundation.” She smiles and nods. “They grow so damn fast,” He says. “A constant battle,” She agrees. “I better get it before it turns to seed,” He says and stands. “It’s nearly midnight,” She says. He sits back down for half a breath and gets up again. “It won’t take me but a minute.” He grabs his gloves; old cracked leather, formed to his hands. He grabs his tool. A makeshift thing he made himself for battle. An old, white-oak shovel handle, wrapped at one end with cloth and twine for grip, and at the other, a two-pronged metal blade. Perfect for weeding, he says, or hunting seals, he jokes. He makes his way across their patch of grass and plucks up three dandelions as practice. Expertly. Masterly. The
prongs strike at either side of the stem and he pulls up the bastardly things from their roots. He holds the bunch above his head and yells to his wife, “A feast!” She watches him from above in her rocking chair and rocks back and forth. A hand rolled cigarette in one hand and a mason jar of wine the other. She ashes her cigarette and stands to tell him he looks like a fool. He howls into the night air in response. She adjusts the dial on the radio. Classical music. To her it sounds like it's playing at half speed. All he can hear are the live cannons. Boom - Boom. He winces and carries on. She is wearing a flowing dress and dancing. Very slowly. Each movement seems to start in her right foot then work its way up. Her knee swivels, hips stutter, torso, breasts, neck, head—her hair and dress move together. She inhales smoke and sips her wine. She’s on her toes now. From left to right, she slides around the deck. The moonlight catches her and her shadow is her partner. In the corner, cast across the house, it moves one step behind her and comes down on her from above. She fills her drink and ashes her cigarette. That buffoon, she thinks and half says. That silly man. Had he just left it, I'm sure the weed wouldn't even last the night. Besides, she thinks, from up here it's almost beautiful. Looks a bit like a flower I used to know.
The weed arches over him. Black thistles and green veins make up its slender arms. Its leaves curl and grip one another as if to keep warm. A bulbous purple flower makes up its head with yellow filaments stretching out from its center. It watches his every movement. You goddamn bastard, he says. I’m not afraid of you, not afraid of you or any goddamns.
He looks over his shoulder to assure his wife that he won’t be long. To tell her that this weed is no match for him, in fact, he probably doesn’t even need his tool, could pull it out of the ground with one hand, he thinks. But she has gone to sleep. Her dancing partner, her shadow, is all that’s left—the porch, the grass, the world are covered in its blackness. A coldness settles in. He is filled with dread and considers turning back or yelling for his wife. He sits down to think and catch his breath. It’s my yard, my home, he thinks. Nothing out here can kill me, nothing out here is new. It has been here since the beginning of time. This weed and I. He presses his face against its stem. It is colder than expected. He holds his weapon above his head and stands toe-to-toe with his enemy. It no longer flutters in the wind—this evil thing that stands above him, that rises with the moon and stretches its limbs as if human. He arches his back and swings his weapon at its face. A gash across its meaty brow. He swings again, this time the weapon bounces back and he is uprooted. Spun around. Dizziness. He falls and laughs and is on his feet again. Devil, he cries out and stabs the prongs toward its roots. But the thing is too well set. From the porch and even from their small patch of grass the weed looked so much smaller. He is ill equipped. To the shed. The small shed is warmed by a wood burning stove. He feeds it absentmindedly and the room is sweltering. He sits at his workbench. Ancient tools hang above him, aesthetic things whose purpose is long forgotten. Jagged and orange-rusted saws whose shapes serve no purpose hang from small hooks and levers made of stone. His hands are older now, covered in new pink scars. Each knuckle is swollen. White calloused tissue
connects the brightfull veins. He sharpens his axe. It was his father’s axe and his father’s father’s axe. He is meticulous and the blade shines, reflects the light of the fire.
She reaches across the bed for him and feels the cold of the sheets. She had been dreaming of her old house. The one with the arched doorway and the yellow brick facade. Her father and mother had built it. Will last until the end of time, her mother had said. Her dream is always the same. A scanning of each room. Floating. Things undisturbed. The old books and old carpets all unmoving—settled and permanent. In the kitchen there is a warmth and the sounds of her mother and brother laughing, but they are nowhere to be found. It makes her sad. It happens often. She stands on the porch and looks into the darkness. The weed seems to have grown. Its grisled body, all bloodied and chipped, stretches into the night. Its dark appendages cast moving shadows all across her face. Beyond the weed the sky is empty except the moon—fullish and pinkish and glowing. She makes her way across the frosted grass. The fool, she thinks. Could've left it until morning. And now—where is he? Lost again. Out here in the cold. The frigid awful midnight. She reaches out and touches the weed, surprised by its warmth. There must be some furnace, some engine in its guts. She can hear a noise within it, a kind of ticking. She presses her ear against its green flesh, just above where her husband had stabbed it. The warmth overtakes her, she can feel it in her chest and through her feet. Steam pours off her and its skin. Her cheeks flush and she begins to sweat. The ticking is louder now. Perhaps a bird, she says aloud. She moves around the weed and examines its every pore. Searching for a hollow, somewhere for a bird to nest and make its ticking sound.
Below one of its many arms she finds an opening and peers in. It is bright inside the weed. There are no shadows, only open spaces, a roundness in all directions. The ticking though is not a ticking—a dragging of stone across steel, a sharpening. She turns and steps away just as the ax splits the weed down its center. Its inner workings spill out. The sky and earth are red. They are both covered. Husband and wife, standing just before the desert. He swings again and again. He looks to sever the roots of the demon weed from their earth. The dirt and the force of the blows dull his weapon. The calluses on his hands have opened. The ax handle breaks and he collapses. “I didn’t think there’d be so much blood,” she says.
The weed is at their feet, curled in the shape of death, dried and ashen-white. She fills his coffee as the sun comes up.
Calverley Woods Zoe Cassandra
...are when the faces buckle into cheekbones & her ankles gasp above the surface, reaching for the ceiling. when she puts on my late mother’s opal necklace from Wildwood, circa 1976, when the car park dries like a dead road while the hectic light from her bedroom window compromises so much, & promises so much… when the thighs open & close like doors to a plush abyss, or crumbs of a ship presented to a clueless actor, or the poem posted to the burglar & not the boyfriend. I scrub yearning against her chest, pull her waist, carry her shin, push the lips open so her teeth claw at me like a request, & she is a massaged dandelion, waiting for the blow. when the room is suffused with the projectile glow erupting from her mouth, when she is cross-eyed, underarms dripping with heinous glue, the nape of her neck gazing upside-down like a letter of appeal…& when I say it is over, the blackest blood of her hair will drape over my ribs like threads of a memoir: her skin lying open like a desperate question, the body gently decorated with pieces of a hibiscus. Aneska Tan
Instructions for a Home Florist
i. clothing When gathering blooms for a bouquet you must be barefoot, toes toadslick with dew. Always wear a white dress or skirt. Pants will work only if worn under a robe with a hem long enough to harvest grass clippings and mud. To make the strongest impression, try a straw hat with a silk strap. Tie it in a bow below your chin to show your effort. Leave it tilted because you’re a hippie chick at heart. Snip more buds than you think you’ll need, to affirm your belief in abundance.
ii. demeanor Cut flowers in the afterdamp of a storm pulling below the horizon. Stand with your back to the clouds for extra contrast, before you twirl with the stalks in your fist. When the petals fall, laugh with your head slung back then toss the rest into the air. Start over with a wicker basket. Hang it jauntily from your elbow. Work your way up to skipping and the occasional shimmy as you clip. Let your hips bumble through the coneflowers. When the neighbors point, wave to them from inside the debris cloud of pollen and bees. As you gain confidence, hold the cut stems like you know what you’re doing. Roll them between your fingers. Always keep them at arms-length. It says you have aging eyes. It says you’re carefree, working in the garden without your glasses.
iii. arrangement Before company arrives, choose an earthenware crock. Prop the lupine in the center. The peony is too large. Cast it aside. Sprinkle in bergamot, yarrow and larkspur. Listen to the fernfall thundering over the rim. Devote at least two hours to achieve a thrown-together look. Lorrie Ness
Buzzing by Rachael Alonzo
Your body is a house – Part three
Your body is a terrace house in a nice area. Let’s call the area: Gender Expectations. Gender Expectations has a long-standing reputation in the wider community of the world, and the reputation needs to be upheld by everyone who lives in the area. Because of that, the front of your terrace is sometimes criticised by others for not quite being in-keeping with the aesthetic of the street. These others – the ones with neat front gardens and walls painted in appropriate colours – will advise you on how to make your front-facing exterior more suitable. A good start, they tell you, is to pick either pink or blue flowers, and adorn your land with them as clearly as possible. It isn’t entirely inappropriate to plant yellow, but these flowers should be limited to a select few, rather than being something that might dominate the landscape. Once these flowers are planted and in full bloom, passers-by will get a better sense of who your house is as a person. You also have the option of painting the house itself. Either side of you there are blue/pink houses is varying shades of pastel through to neon. The others, they tell you that you can choose whatever gradient you like, and they look at you with some suspicion when you ask for something like beige – or even a pale butter, maybe custard. But you all agree beige would be for the best.
Neighbours ask you how many rooms your house has. What they really mean to ask is whether thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s space for a human within you, human; can you make your body a home? You consider asking them why youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d let someone else live in this space. Why, when you struggle to find the heart of the home, why, when you struggle to love the papered walls and the exposed beams, why, you would erect another house on a street full of demolition workers. You huff and puff and blow your own house down. You leave behind blue bricks and pink rafters. They all wonder why you were so desperate to move out.
Hidden under a shade as the heat peels layer after layer of mesh, pins in their clothes, needles in their legs. Arms thick of bones and boards, attaches a loop into their chest in tension and twine pulled taught, pokes in a dowl made of teeth and fixed sharp with points and ends with a slip knot and a terrific silence. They pull off the Larkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s head and stop the song caught in the hitch. Jessica Mookherjee
murmurā’tion n murmuring; a doubtful word for a flock
of starlings. I ask you what you mean by God: you say he is breath you say silence is holy. You like silences, they don’t chide as you part their skin — you want a god you can worship but break with a whisper sometimes, you even hide in the linen closet saying his name again and again a sanctity, a lack. If silence were God you would chew him up and spit out starlings, rising as a gossamer hallelujah — but I guess one day you turned your back now a hush fills your games, friend you stray from me, curl a cat’s cradle around your frame and as you gutter in the spindled breeze, I am learning to hold my breath. The only quiet that is holy is hospital silence, God marked only by what he takes. Nick Newman
Remains of a Broken Plate Ishaq Adekunle
Footnotes to a scientific paper concerning the possible detection of a sub-atomic particle1
An invisible partner to sunlight, a secret sharer of daytime.
Can a particle be said to haunt the lab equipment? I imagined the green line on the
screen flickering upwards, the meter’s needle trembling away from zero, the chambered mist condensing into a track. But I was kidding myself. 3
I was as invisible to the particle as it was to me. In its frame of reference I was
nothing more than interference. 4
My ongoing failure a cause of deep anxiety for me, only alleviated by reading
Pontecorvo’s papers. 5
I met him once. A crowded bar where activists were known to gather, their wine
casting red shadows, and a man who could explain to me how the particle is capable of changing identity. 6
I still have these diagrams he drew on scraps of paper. Diagrams of the sun and
processes hidden deep in its core. If the particle has enough mass, he told me, then it can flip from one state to another, dodging the apparatus set up to capture it. 7
For me Pontecorvo was a bringer of hope. His theory a reason to renew my searches
and plan more experiments. In the chatter of the bar I had to lean towards him to detect what he was saying. 8
According to the authorities, his meeting with me was the last one before he dropped
out of sight. Hidden for many years until he made a re-appearance in the Soviet Union. 9
Spotted in photos of the May Day parades behind the tanks and the rockets, and
standing near Brezhnev. Just one face amongst many, but when the authorities showed me these photos I recognised him, because I am trained to look for all the patterns that light can make. 10
This ambulance-blue flash, this link between the particle and nuclear activity
submerged deep in bunkers – the authorities made me aware of it. I was naïve, I’ll admit. 11
Pontecorvo’s announcement to the entire world he is not a spy, just committed to his
ideology. And that his name is no longer Pontecorvo. 12
When I feel anxious I make a bowl of my hands, I breathe deeply and evenly. It helps
to shut my eyes and look at the darkness within. Examine it for signs. 13
Work on experiments will be resumed in the near future, assuming the technical
(and psychological) problems can be overcome. Pippa Goldschmidt
I thought of you today when I found the glass marble at the back of the drawer, you who had taught me the art of seeing the craters of the moon, the line between darkness and light, where the sun rises or sets giving the longest and most dramatic mountain and crater shadows. The eye is the jewel of the body; doubly so for you; left eye bloodshot, gray-blue, right eye an ocular prosthesis. The ancients, in times of unrest, would rush their almost priceless glass eyes along to the public treasury for safekeeping. In the days of the Ptolemys, Egyptians made artificial eyes from gold, silver and ivory. These days they’re not glass but acrylic, with realistically painted irises and pupils, made by ocularists and costing an arm and a leg. Eyes can be bought on online; human, bird, mammal, fish, reptile, doll and teddy bear eyes; all sparkling on the screen like irresistible sweets. Cancer of the eye seemed like an unfair trick of nature, after your three heart attacks. ‘You get used to it,’ you would say and would pop your eye quickly in and out of its socket to amaze and astound your small grandson
before the secondary liver cancer you could not see coming caught much more than your eye. You, who taught me to see Deimos and Phobos, Marsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; twin moons, through your homemade telescope, demonstrated that people with glass eyes can cry. And I howled at the night skyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vast black indifference. Pauline May
Host a funeral for the lampshade, fern cuttings and broken wardrobe. I wonder where the men in orange uniforms will burn their bodies. The man with the Captain America tattoo pours piles of Zoo into the skip next to mine. Fills the container with half naked women. Pray for them too. In the van, my father shakes his fist at the Driver in front. Teaches me how to puncture sky. The lines on the road are thin as we ride past the scrap metal lads screaming eulogies at the Dawn chorus. Maybe they can reincarnate The bike skeleton on the front lawn. Sophie Sparham
At the Pond
“Come on, let’s go down to the pond.” Out in the garden again, because it’s Sunday, because none of us has any work to do, no errands to run, the house is in order, and the sun is out. The sun is out, and to waste it is unthinkable. Or – at least – unspeakable. Admitting that the sun is much, much too hot, that the brilliant azure sky is too bright, that it’s making everything seem unreal, like a dream but far too intense, that it’s making you ill, that the siestas on the continent aren’t lazy but necessary, that the yellowing dead grass on the lawn is proof that nature agrees with you, that, in fact, you’re simply bored of the sun – none of this can ever be said aloud. And those longing glances toward the shade of the lounge must be fleeting, and stealthy. “Let’s go.” We trot down the garden to the pond, the whole family, all six of us, because, miraculously, none of the kids are off on a play date, or swallowed up by some screen. All six of us plus Jim and Susan from next door; the only two we’ve let in on the secret. Strange – we’ve never talked about why it should be a secret, but all of us, implicitly, agree that it must be. So on we go, single file and watching for nettles, past the vegetable patch, the compost bin and the dried-out water butt, through the hole in the privet which cuts off one part of the garden from the next, fairly pointlessly really, on through the orchard – just three old pear trees, but it’s nice to call it an orchard – on through the knee-high grass, which isn’t laziness, it’s re-wilding – and down to the pond.
Just being near the pond cools you down. The shining droplets of water which cling to the surface; the undulations in the ice, the sharp lines formed in it like runes; you can feel it, just by looking at it – the slipperiness, the intoxicating coldness. And underneath – the little bubbles of trapped air, globules of white in the murk; and the five or six faint smudges of orange and yellow. The fish haven’t moved an inch in ten years. Who knows if they’re still alive? Perhaps they’d lurch back into action, given the chance, even after all that time suspended. The kids go straight for the very edge, kneel down with practised care. Our warnings would ring in their ears whether we uttered them or not, but we have to say it. “Be careful – mind you don’t fall in.” None of us knows for sure how thick the ice is. The outlines of the fish are blurred, so it’s probably thick – an inch, at least. But we’re all terrified of it cracking. We don’t say it, but we are. We don’t caution the children for their own sakes. If they fell in we’d pull them out in an instant, they’d be fine. They’d love it, they’d clamour to go straight back in. No; we’re simply afraid of something terribly fragile being lost. In the winter we almost forget about the pond, tucked away here down at the bottom of the garden, where we seldom have reason to go. It’s just a pond. And every spring we wait, bracing ourselves, for it to become just a pond again. So far we’ve been lucky. It’s become the unspoken centre of each of our lives.
The kids run their hands over the ice and I feel the cold vicariously through them. The littlest one stumbles up to me, lifts her hand up to my cheek and smears it with icy water. She laughs, delighted, as I pull away in mock alarm, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just what I needed. The cold only stays there a minute or two, before the sun takes it back.
shame visits with orpheus oh, dear, widowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d in the spring blossoms, a tragedy that whimpers in the ripeness of summer. let me shadow your heart and ask, why have you not yet broken the glass case keeping the passage fare to the river? orpheus, dear, did you ever love eurydice? or is it easier to wail your song of despair than it is to pass the gates of death to her scent? Ash Miranda
Et son visage danse avec tout le reste GeneviĂ¨ve Dumas
Late Night at the Sonic Drive-In
In Christian college, parked in front of a brick wall, my best friend Randi wipes burger grease with the back of her hand. She knows I walk the city at three a.m. and sometimes lie in the street in front of the Episcopal church with the swing set and orchestra and hope the night birds will feast on my anxiety-wasted body–– that they might mistake me for dead. After a sip of soda, she asks if I fantasize about women, but I haven’t since eighth grade. And I remember her name was Katherine, and I always fantasized of blow jobs, never of her body. I never dreamt of her. I loved a woman once and wept for days when we broke up after nine months, her body running like a yolk. All I wanted when I was telling her I loved her was her friend’s dense, hairy body. And I got it. We fucked in his office at Christian college, which I never told anyone about. Not even Randi. Not even now. Maybe the truth looks like a sparrow flying down I-85 with the flow of traffic then up to its nest to roost. Maybe it means I could finally dream of the moon and not wish to die in its beams on the mountain road.
Freedom and the truth look like his hands wrapped around my bird-boned body, ripping feathers from my skin, crushing me against the brick wall of his office, like the sparrow I once destroyed against my windshield, on the main road across from the church. Andrew Hahn
Troy Proto-twink, frozen at twenty, he can take an entire fleet. Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been summering in Paris and Greece, pleading for everyone to just stop fighting whilst whispering youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re the only one for me. When men escape, like strippers from a birthday cake, he falls to his knees.
Take the argument outside Sarah-Jane Crowson
The pretentious food/A nervous poem
Ingredients/Pieces Flour - 2 tbsps/Plant symbolism - 2 stanzas Butter - 3 tbsps/ pipe dream quotient - 2 words (affixes disguised as cane) Ground black pepper and salt - to taste/Red ink - as per your taste (sssh, don't call it blood) Half cream - 1 cup/ cotton candy - 1 sticky roll White sugar - 1 tsp./ crystals - 1 chunk Chicken broth - 5 cups/ flesh - 5 morsels Diced parsley - 1/2 cup/ grassroots - 1/2 chaffs Chopped mint - 1/2 cup/artificial scents - 1/2 sprays (Note/Don't: You/let can/me replace/replace basil/you with/with watercress/words) Finely cut green onions - 1 cup/shadows around the bulb - lunar eclipse Chopped spinach - 1 cup/raw lobes - A quarter of bile Assembly/Exhibition Gather all the ingredients/Invite all the guests. Place/Hold butter/dreams in the/in your/large saucepan/belly-button/ to begin/a little casket/ with the soup/ to close in.
Preparation/Bondage Let butter melt/Don't cry. Fry onions until they get tender/ Let your ashes write a story. Add basil, mint and spinach./Saddle up the cinders. Let them simmer for at least 10 minutes./ Breathe in. Put sugar and let it simmer for half an hour./Make booze out of your tears. Slowly blend in the cream./You no longer fit into the mix of matter. Now take out a separate pan and melt 2 tablespoons of butter./Take out a book and write 'the word funny means a roar of suicidal man'. Add flour and stir unless flour releases raw smell./On the last empty pages of the book. Blend in the hot soup and the flour mixture together unless they turn smooth./ Don't open the glossary page. Stir constantly and bring it to a boil./Find words that you don't know the meaning of. Garnish it with salt and pepper and serve it to your guests./Fit them into context and come out to your parents. Fizza Abbas
The first time it happened, Al and Alex were at the pictures and the girls they were seeing had not shown up. Having already bought the tickets, they saw the film anyway. Neither of them could ever recall what it had been about, all they remembered was the feeling of sparks every time their elbows accidentally brushed. Neither of them planned it, but they soon fell into a pattern. The cinema. The theatre. They orbited each other until, every now and again, their elbows would crash together in darkened rooms. Al had a soft spot for romances. Alex would always tease him about that. He preferred horrors because it gave him an excuse to jump and press his whole arm against Al's shoulder. For years, their elbows continued this dance of flickering lights and static charge. Meanwhile, Al met a girl called Alison who became his wife. Alex, on the other hand, never found anyone else who made his elbow tingle like Al. Sometimes, they would all go to the pictures together. Al would sit between Alison and Alex and it felt like every inch of his skin was sparking. More years. More films. More elbows. When Al died, Alex and Alison both spoke at the funeral. Alex spoke about how much Al had loved romance films. How he had always loved happy endings. How happy he was that Al and Alison had found that happy ending. Alex managed to stop himself from crying. He was afraid of how it would look.
Later, in the cinema, his arm brushed against the person sitting next to him. The strobing light of the film glistened on his face.
Kiss Once, Wash Twice
I have to go you say. I turn to the sink, wash the empty. Hands grab my belt and spin fingers dig into soft-belly flesh rough stubble from collarbone to neck lips smash our bodies together. We kiss like weâ&#x20AC;&#x2DC;re drowning in the dark and I think of endings. I drink coffee, smoke cigarettes look at the sink. I want to be a brittle woman
with spots on her hands and clouds in her eyes. Later I stand by the quiet bed, pick up a scrap of paper and read my 7 years old handwriting: I love you Granny and I will always do the washing up. I think I should kiss you, but you've shrunk and you're cold and your eyes are closed. I leave your door open, walk to the kitchen and start on the washing up. Myriam San Marco
The Tattoo Artist Speaks
Here’s a fully-rigged ship, all sail aloft – for a sailor who’s now homeward bound with a little blue birdy as well – a sort of a swallow – both on their way to the porch and a welcoming home. Oh and roses, yes roses – some of those with a heart, as if carved in the bark but now it’s your breast, your belly, your back, your anywhere. Blue for the bird and the sky. And red for the roses and freshly pierced heart as well as for blood – drops from the wound – the point of an arrow, a dagger, a sword thrust through a skull. As you can tell, not all sentimental – you can scare or be scared, if that’s what you like. We’ve devils and monsters, pythons and vipers, lions, tigers and dragons, panthers and raptors especially eagles with ready-spread claws, snorting horses and bulls, the occasional tarantula and cobwebs of course – they’re popular. How about cross-bones, complete with a skull or even a fully-grown, clean skeleton? Plus flesh? Round hips, soft bosoms, swollen and full like those well-bellied sails, trembling and tense – she might be a mermaid, she can be an angel – you’ll want to name her – she’s yours, your very own who’ll stay close to you, long as you live and wherever you go. So, names, words and phrases – Set Fair, Hold Fast, You Are Mine, Please Stay True or just Love, plain and simple. Or ornate. Like I’ve been saying – you’ve only to choose. One way or another, we’re all homeward bound sailors on the long journey home. Richard Westcott
What Is Remembered III Edward Lee
Exactly like her
In the steel reflection of an espresso machine, I think I see the woman who sliced my arm open at jury duty fifteen years ago. My mouth is full of salad and seeds when I see her. We’re sitting next to each other at a cafe bar. I finish my bite of salad and take another. I think about her while chewing. The courthouse was busy that morning but I managed to find a secluded bench at the dead-end of a hallway. She sat down next to me without asking and smiled politely, as if I’d just told a joke that fell flat. She offered her hand for a shake, “I’m Judy.” We shook. “Max. It’s nice to meet you.” She rummaged in her bag for a moment before pulling out a small blue plastic box. Something rattled inside. She looked quickly over both shoulders, then huddled closer to me and said, “Is this weird? I forgot I had a bunch of X-acto blades and the metal detector didn’t pick them up.” For weeks after getting my summons, I’d imagined wearing something professional to the courthouse. But that morning, I realized my only nice pants pinched at the waist and my button up shirt had a stain on it from a catering gig I’d done months before. I gave up and put on jeans and a wool sweater with moth-eaten armpits. Sitting with Judy, I felt a small romance spreading across the back of my mind. Meeting a woman with contraband at my first ever jury duty appearance. This could be a story we tell people someday. She opened the box and looked at me. I nodded at the silver blades inside.
“Why do you have them?” I asked. “Do I need a reason?” She plucked a blade from the box. “They were only five dollars.” I shrugged and she pulled a business card out of her bag. Holding the card conspiratorially low, she sliced a thin sliver that fell to the ground. When she looked up, her eyes said, see how sharp?
*** I study her reflection in the espresso machine. She glances up and catches my reflection looking at hers. “Is he yours?” She asks. “Is who what?” “This little guy!” She pretends there’s a dog sitting at our feet and strokes the air by her shins. “Is he yours?” I look at the empty floor around our stools. “Oh, yes! That’s Tex. You’re actually the first person to ever notice him.” “Aww,” she laughs and tussles Tex’s imaginary fur. “He’s actually a service dog, so…” “Oh how rude, I’ll let him get back to work.” “Thanks.” I lean a polite inch in her direction. “Sorry, are you who I think you are?” The cafe’s murmur of voices and clinking dishes sink into the pit of my stomach. The woman I think is Judy looks at me as if a stranger just walked into her living room. ***
In the courthouse hallway, Judy told me that she had a knack for naming inanimate objects, that she worked at a health food store, and that she had once pushed her car into a ravine for the insurance money. Then she handed me one of the X-acto blades. While cradling the blade in my palm, I wondered how I could hide it if I needed to. What would it feel like if I closed my fist around it? My heart fluttered. When our juror numbers were called, we realized that we’d been assigned a courtroom together. I told Judy, “see you in court” and then walked to the bathroom where I dropped her blade in a trash can. I found Judy sitting on a bench amongst all the other potential jurors. She met my eyes like she’d been looking for me. When I sat down next to her she slid an inch in my direction. I could feel the warmth of her breath when she whispered, “Do you still have it? The X-acto? You left before I could....” She paused, as if searching for the right words. Before she finished her thought, the jury selection questions began and I could only wonder what she’d been about to say. I looked at her and raised my eyebrows. She raised hers back. Eventually I turned away from her and I listened to jurors being interviewed. I imagined them calling my number and asking me, would you ever bring a weapon into a courthouse? And then it felt as if someone opened a window right next to me. An unexpected gust of air on my forearm. Nowhere else on my body registered the breeze, just a sliver skin.
I looked down and saw a red line that went almost all the way from my elbow to the top of my wrist. Narrow at the top, wide at the bottom, a thick bulb of blood pooling at the end. I looked to my left. The seat on the wooden bench beside me was empty. Then I looked down. The swelling blood droplet on my elbow was still unbroken. I grasped it. The blood dropped in globs onto the white marble floor. I clutched my arm and stood up, drawing everyone’s attention but unable to speak because courtrooms are stifling. Speechless and dripping blood, I stumbled toward the bailiff near the entrance. His hand briefly brushed over his gun. Then I fell at his feet and muttered, “I think she’s got a blade.” *** She places a rolled up paper napkin on top of her empty coffee cup. It looks vaguely like a chubby face wearing a toupee. “His name is Connor Cupsworth. And yes, you’re the first person to notice him.” I look at this woman who I think is Judy and from somewhere between sincerity and restlessness, I begin to ask, “so then you are…” “Probably not who you think I am,” she finishes my thought. “I’m from out of state, just visiting some friends for the summer.”
Egg cracks. Tubular body squirms. Microscopic fangs first, she drags her temporary form through the dirt then, suckling on decay, prepares for fossilising. Her flourishing will be welcomed like brown blossom in a world of candyfloss lovers. This is no Andersen fairy-tale transformation – this is maggot to bluebottle. They’ll never call her beautiful but she’ll have eyes like flashing lava and armour the colour of peacock feathers. Emilie Lauren Jones
Teaching Ballet to Children on Zoom during a Pandemic
First, you wait. You wait while you watch the ceiling fan of Namyla’s living room. From somewhere, you hear a woman’s voice trying to get her daughter’s spindled legs into a pair of too-small pink tights finally found in the clothes hamper beside a single ballet shoe. She’s ready, you hear, as Namyla’s left side only comes in the frame. You observe the miniature portrait gallery of limber, loose limbs ready to spring, catch hold of a ceiling-fan blade, and fly from four walls and away. I ask all to press their hands to mine on the screen at the same time. Can you feel me? they ask. Yes, I say.
Yes I can. Ellis Elliot
Fizza Abbas is a Freelance Content Writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. She is fond of poetry and music. Her works have been published on quite a few platforms including Poetry Village and Poetry Pacific. Ishaq Adekunle is a Nigerian Writer and photographer. His poetry and photographs are concerned with the wellbeing of African children and have appeared in EyeEm photography NYC, New Creatives Horizon, GetlitNaija, Angst Zine and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @Ishaq_adekunle Rachael Alonzo has always had a creative mind. She loves drawing whimsical, sometimes wacky illustrations. You can view some of them on her Twitter @Art71Rachael. She doesn’t do it professionally, but because she loves to draw. Sometimes she will raffle her pieces for charity through her dog Rupert’s Twitter @weatherdog3 Who has a lot more followers than she does! Rachael also loves writing and is currently working on a children’s book Rupert’s Tails, which will include her illustrations. Charley Barnes is an author and academic from the West Midlands. She lectures in Creative Writing and English at Newman University. Charley’s most recently poetry pamphlet, A Hierarchy of Needs: A Retelling, was a work she co-authored with fellow poet, Claire Walker. Charley’s most recent novel, Play, was published in April 2020 and her fourth novel is due for publication in early 2021. She is currently working on her fifth novel. Gaetano Britt’s debut poetry collection It’s All Gone Don Juan (erbacce-press 2020) is set to be released in the coming months. He has taught English in China, Spain and Vietnam. His librettos have been performed at the Leeds Lieder Festival and at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation. Currently, Gaetano is based in Kent. Zoe Cassandra is a photographer, model, artist, musician and eldritch horror based in Yorkshire. She likes neon lights and dark holes, the movement of water and the texture of ruin. Sarah-Jane Crowson lives in Herefordshire. Her poetry can be read in various journals, including Muddy River Poetry Review and the Wales Haiku Journal. She has been shortlisted for the Haiku Foundation’s Touchstone award and the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year award. Sarah-Jane works as an educator at Hereford College of Arts and is also a postgraduate researcher at BCU. She likes to write on long dark nights, with plenty of coffee
Geneviève Dumas is a Montreal based printmaker artist behind the brand Goldengen. She's using collage and screen printing to build up momentum and stories. Ellis Elliott has been published in Literary Mama and Neologism Poetry Journal and participated in the Palm Beach Poetry Festival 2015 Workshop with poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Rhodes College and is currently enrolled in the MFA program of Queens University. For more than thirty years, she taught dance and owned a dance studio. She has also studied and taught yoga for the past ten years. Michael Farfel lives and writes out of Salt Lake City, Utah. His work can be found online in a few wonderful Literary journals and on his website MichaelFarfel.com. Jason Fox lives in California. His first published work appeared in Xray Magazine in early 2020. Originally from Toronto, Alison Frank lives in London. Her published short stories include 'Stop Staring' in the Bohemyth, 'Meet Me at Cafe Bambi' in Confingo, and 'A Present to Herself' in So to Speak. She is also the author of Reframing Reality, a book about surrealism in French and Czech cinema. You can follow her on Twitter @alisonfrank Pippa Goldschmidt (she/her) is a writer based in Edinburgh and Frankfurt. She’s the author of the novel The Falling Sky and the short story collection The Need for Better Regulation of Outer Space. Uncanny Bodies, an anthology of literature and essays inspired by Freud, cyborgs and the history of Edinburgh, which she co-edited with Gill Haddow and Fadhila Mazanderani, has been published by Luna Press in Edinburgh. Pippa’s work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in a variety of places including Litro, Mslexia and the Times Literary Supplement, as well as in anthologies. Please visit at pippagoldschmidt.co.uk Andrew Hahn received his MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the author of the poetry chapbook God’s Boy (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019). His work is featured in
Aquifer: The Florida Review Online, Barren Magazine, Lunch, Pithead Chapel, Crab Creek Review, Crab Fat Magazine, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Rappahannock Review among others. He is a Best of the Net nominee and was listed in Yes, Poetry's Best and Faves of 2019. Dane Hamann works as an editor for a textbook publisher in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Northwestern University, after which he served as the poetry editor of TriQuarterly for over five years. His chapbook Q&A was published by Sutra Press.
Oz Hardwick is a European poet, photographer, occasional musician, and accidental academic. His prose poetry chapbook Learning to Have Lost (Canberra: IPSI, 2018) won the 2019 Rubery International Book Award for poetry, and his most recent publication is the prose poetry sequence Wolf Planet (Clevedon: Hedgehog, 2020). Oz is Professor of English at Leeds Trinity University, where he leads the postgraduate Creative Writing programmes. ozhardwick.co.uk Mike Hickman (@MikeHic13940507) is a writer from York, England. He has written for Off the Rock Productions (stage and audio), including a 2018 play about Groucho Marx. He has recently been published in the Blake-Jones Review, Bitchin’ Kitsch, the Cabinet of Heed, the Potato Soup Journal, and the Trouvaille Review. Jessica Hudson is a graduate teaching assistant working on her Creative Writing MFA at Northern Michigan University. She is an associate editor for Passages North. Her work has been published in The Pinch, Dovecote, and perhappened mag, among others. Emilie Lauren Jones’ work has been widely published in places such as Here Comes Everyone, I am not a silent poet and Under the Radar. Anthology credits include: Half Moon Books, Beautiful Dragons Collaborations and One World Publications. Emilie was one of the artists commissioned by UK City of Culture and is part of the current Nine Arches Press Dynamo Scheme. She also runs the #WeSpeakPoetry YouTube series. emilielaurenjones.co.uk Social Media: @emilielaurenxx Helen Kay’s poems crop up in various magazines. Her pamphlet, This Lexia & Other Languages was published in July 2020 by v.press. She curates a project called Poetry, Dyslexia, and Imagination, fb page: Dyslexia and Poetry. She has a hen puppet sidekick called Nigella. Edward Lee is an artist and writer from Ireland. His paintings and photography have been exhibited widely, while his poetry, short stories, non-fiction have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America. He is currently working on two photography collections: Lying Down With The Dead and There Is A Beauty In Broken Things. He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Lewis Milne, Orson Carroll, Blinded Architect, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy. His blog/website can be found at edwardmlee.wordpress.com Pauline May lives in Sunderland and has worked extensively in education. She enjoys performing at spoken word events across the north east and beyond. She has had poems published in The Blue Nib, Celebrating Change, Not Your Mother’s Breast Milk, Orbis, Panning For Poems, Inkslinger’s Observance and Ogham Stone. She has been shortlisted and commended in several competitions and in June 2019 won a Mslexia Mini Max competition, judged by Helen Mort.
Frank McMahon is a retired social work professional. His poems have been published online and in prin. His first volume of poems, At the Storm’s Edge, was published in January 2020 by Palewell Press. He has also written and directed two plays for local radio in Cirencester, as well as four full-length plays, several short stories and fulllength novel for children. Ash Miranda is a Latinx poet from Chicago. Their work has been previously featured by Cotton Xenomorph, Memoir Mixtapes, Witch Craft Mag, MAKE magazine and other publications. You can get a copy of their recent chapbook, dolores in spanish is pain, dolores in lolita is a girl, from Glass Poetry Press. Ash tweets far too much and would love to be your friend on Twitter (@dustwhispers). Jessica Mookherjee is a poet of Bengali origin. She grew up in Wales and now lives in Kent. She has been published in many print and online journals and anthologies including Agenda, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The North, Rialto, Under the Radar, Poetry Wales and Staying Human from Bloodaxe. She was highly commended for best single poem in the Forward Prize 2017. She has published two collections Flood (2018, Cultured Llama) and Tigress (2019, Nine Arches Press). She is co-editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press. Lorrie Ness is an emerging poet working in Virginia. Her work can be found at Palette Poetry, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Typishly and various other journals. In 2019 she was nominated for a Best of the Net Award by Sky Island Journal. Nick Newman grew up in China and Scotland, and studies English Lit at the Uni of Leeds. His work appears in Marías at Sampaguitas, FEED and Stone of Madness Press, and you can find him procrastinating on twitter @_NickNewman. Myriam San Marco is a poet, promoter and creative writing facilitator. Many years ago, she truanted school to go to libraries, read all the books, drink all the drinks, take all the drugs, party in all the fields and from time to time, write poetry. She feels burdened to tell stories that would break the existing narrative, like a small pebble in your shoe which would cause you to stop walking to hunt it down. Her debut collection Sakura was published by Burning Eye in June 2018. Sophie Sparham is a writer from Derby. She has written commissions for BBC Radio 4, The V&A and The People’s History Museum. Sophie co-hosts the poetry night Word Wise which won Best Spoken Word Night at the 2019 Saboteur Awards. Last year she became the first poet to perform at the metal festival Bloodstock Open Air. Aneska Tan is a student from Singapore who likes to write when she is not fighting her way through academia. She hopes to own a writing hut someday (much like Mark Twain’s!) and in the afterhours you’ll usually find her wallowing in her inability to leave the house.
Anannya Uberoi (she/her) is a full-time software engineer and part-time tea connoisseur based in Madrid. She is currently poetry editor at The Bookends Review and columnist at The Remnant Archive. The winner of the 6th Singapore Poetry Contest and a Best of Net nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Birmingham Arts Journal, The Bangalore Review, The Loch Raven Review, and Tipton Poetry Journal. anannyauberoi.com Mark Ward is the author of the chapbooks, Circumference (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and Carcass (Seven Kitchens Press, 2020) and a collection, Nightlight (Salmon Poetry, 2022). He was the Poet Laureate for Glitterwolf and his poems have been featured in The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, Banshee, Boyne Berries, Softblow and many more. In 2020 he was shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Prize and selected for Poetry Ireland’s Introductions series. He has read his poetry on Irish National Broadcaster RTÉ’s Radio 1 and Lyric FM stations. He is the founding editor of Impossible Archetype, an international journal of LGBTQ+ poetry. James Webster is a writer of fiction and poetry who loves socialism, feminism and dragons (and socialist feminist dragons). He's been published in Beyond Books, Verse Kraken and Penning Perfumes, and his first short fiction collection, Heroine Chic, is out with indie press Inspired Quill. In a very out-of-character move, his story 'holding hands' contains no mythical creatures whatsoever. Richard Westcott, for a long time a happy NHS doctor, has been pleasantly surprised to meet success in various competitions. His poems have appeared on buses, a university wall and the Pitt Rivers Museum - as well as in more conventional places... even books. His well-received pamphlet is published by Indigo Dreams, he owns and is owned by a Jack Russell and blogs at richardwestcottspoetry.com Jonathan Willmer lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, where he works as a postman. He records music, with bands as well as alone, and writes stories in his spare time. In all his creative work, he is interested in exploring how narrow the boundary is between the mundane and the extraordinary.
ISSUE #31 COMING NOVEMBER 2020