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RIGGWELTER #9 MAY 2018 ed. Amy Kinsman

The following works are copyrighted to their listed authors Š2018. Riggwelter Press is copyrighted to Amy Kinsman Š2017.

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Foreword

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Baptismal

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You’re the first person to ask me how I got here

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Nothings

9

A Murmuration is Seen Above the City

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Looking

11

My Favorite Color

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cold turkey

15

drive to breakdown

16

Soda Niter

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A Completely True History of Harker, Washington

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Threads

23

Hillbilly, Regular Leaf

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The Human Touch

25

Touching Air

26

Wintear

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Time Travel

31

Your Ashes

32

Anxiety

33

Cabinets of OFSTED inspection

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Sophia

38

Autumn Years

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Vulnerability

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Ghosting for Beginners

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Rough and Weepy

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Possibilities of Identity in a Winter Portrait

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College

49

Fucking Space Whales, Man

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Vest

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Recreation – A Mixed Blessing

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The Sheep

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Contributors

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Acknowledgements

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Foreword

Welcome to the ninth issue of Riggwelter! Some exciting things have been happening for us this month. We gained two new team members: S.A. Leavesley and Jack Little join our new, dedicated reviews team and we are very pleased to have them. We were also short-listed for a Saboteur Award for Best Magazine. The winners will be announced on May 19th, but in the meantime, you can vote for us here: https://www.saboteurawards.org/ (voting closes on May 9th). Thank you very much to everyone that voted for us in the first round. It means a great deal to us that Riggwelter has come so very far in its nine months of existence. This issue is all about struggle: class struggle, relationship struggle, (mental)health struggle, but first and foremost the struggle of being that affects each and every one of us. The outcome may as yet be undecided, but we continue our fight with ourselves and the world around us every day of our lives. As such, this issue is dedicated to anyone going through a rough patch. You can do this. We’re all cheering for you. As per, some thankyous are in order before we commence: thank you very much to S.A. Leavesley and Jack Little for joining our team. We look forward to working with you. Thank you to everyone that nominated us for a Saboteur Award and has voted for us in the second round. On a personal note, thank you to Ronnie Goodyer, Dawn Bauling, Chrys Salt, Chris Hardy, Anna Saunders and all those that attended the IDP showcase in Cheltenham for making me feel so very welcome. Thank you to the Riggwelter community: those that submit, those that read and those that promote. This would not be possible without you and we are so very, very grateful.

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So, without further ado, lets get stuck in to Riggwelter #9. I hope you enjoy reading it. I most certainly have enjoyed putting it together.

Amy Kinsman (Founding Editor)

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Baptismal

The lobsterman, still in the fluted skyline of December, where a broken body lies limp. Engraved in the cavities of the skyline are our steeliest confessions, my fingers, plummed on the salient plane of forgiveness. I speak in whispers of rivulets, not shudders of floods. When you tell me the water’s sinews birth white petals and woven prayers, I, too, speak your language. The shoreline offers curious ribbons of light to my unblooming rawness, a split peach in the cluttered landscape. My stand-still body, elevated in the stews of Neptune, cradled beneath the strident, the everlasting ceiling. The sky gasps in a narrow ark, kissing the pale of your cheeks, absolution shelled in the overhead. I take you in, our mouths all salt and chiffon. Miles away, the thunder of a flood oncoming, two bodies intertwined and noiseless. Hush, let them speak. Jennifer Boyd

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You’re the first person to ask me how I got here

Me Mam had all these little phrases, like ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’. She never did tell me where it came from, like. She just always managed to have it. One minute she’d be scrabbling about for coppers, next there’d be notes in her purse. As I got older I didn’t really sleep, just pretended. I heard her going out in the night. Next day she’d have it and say I could buy whatever I wanted from the paper shop. She’d muck up my hair and say, ‘I’ll never let you go without.’ She’d smile, but only with her mouth. When Mam left the house for the last time, she was carried out in a black bag. I wanted to keep her room exactly as it was, with her bottle of holy water by the bed and her hooks covered in all her necklaces and bits. But they made me move out. I found where she kept it, her money. In a Chinese carved box under the bed, with some weird things that made my belly feel hot. Lingerie stuff made of net and beads that wouldn’t cover anything. It didn’t take long for that cash to go. I needed more, but I trusted Mam. She started talking to me, telling me which cash points to stand by and which lasses would give me their withdrawals if I asked them a certain way. Later, I met Jase. I knew it were Mam’s doing. He made me realise money did grow on trees. You just needed the right plants and a special light to control the temperature. We had it down pat. Business was booming. I had everything. Women, cars, wads of fifties, top places to stay. But that was yonks ago, now. I don’t miss it, to be honest. I like it here. It took me a while to find the right spot and get the lads to trust me, but now all I need is this doorway and this cup. I’ll never

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move. Mam’s sorted me out. Even you dropped your money in. And you felt good, didn’t you? She was right and wrong, me Mam. It might not grow on trees, but whenever I look down there’s always enough in my pot so I never go without.

Janelle Hardacre

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Nothings Soft and salty

crusted with soot,

Once bitten, the butter-drenched In flaky forests

holes became trees

with trunks that flexed

And God knows what

the stuff on the top was,

Brazed like black lead

on the range. Because

We’d been dropped off, he’d cough,

then offer us beans

Or pikelets. We’d pretend

we’d passed on breakfast,

But we knew that he knew

and he knew that we knew.

Soft and salty,

sulphur encrusted,

A surface like the moon,

a skin satsuma’d

With Woodbines and work

and weariness and dust

And God only knows

why he chose to marry

Her; dismissed out of kissing range

she reeked like a fish

Defiled by Fisherman’s

Friends and Humbugs,

Watched funerals for fun,

feasted on lollies

And never did a day’s

work. The Devil

Might have tried

to make idle hands work

And God knows there was sod all Her tartan tin

to do but oddly,

full of alopecia and hairpins,

Plus remembered tastes All salty and soft,

of tree-trunks and holes, sulphured on your teeth,

Deflected us from diabolical

thoughts and deeds.

Inspired by nothing,

the innocuous blankness

Instinctively hinted

at winters of more,

While staring at soot holes God only knows

sickening the washing. the corrosive effect

On holes-in-the-heart,

inhaled and swallowed,

All soft and salty,

consumed with nothing.

Expelled outside

by a spiteful TV

That seemed to be stuck

with Stars on Sunday,

A cooker that couldn't,

and death-bed curtains,

We kicked baked bean

tins of burning time

Up and down

and round while cloud

And smoke suggested Was limited,

that something here

like lemonade or Radio 1.

At Whitsuntide he died By then. Heroes On the walls, pimpled

but I’d moved on with holes in, hung by wishful woodchip.

Jimmy Andrex

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A Murmuration is Seen Above the City

Black spots, iron filings, broken particles, dark smudges, inked finger prints pin-prick flurries, smoke plumes a black scarf painted in pointillist style a pixelated kaleidoscope a wave made of dust motes, arching. Not starlings but politicians this fluid mass with one mind.

Cabinet Ministers morphing and merging, writhing in the air wishing that in that in life they had acted differently but airborne, and dead, it is too late. We look up from Food Banks to watch the sky teem. The sky is bruised with the bloated bodies of Cabinet Ministers fat from stolen fruit, they eclipse the sun. We shiver, as we watch them wheel and turn, our bones almost through our skin. Anna Saunders

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Looking Jason Jackson

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My Favorite Color

I could smell the IPA from where I stood. Both my eyes and my mouth started watering. It was a hoppy Colorado brew, smooth and coppery like only an IPA could be. It had only been two weeks since I’d chosen to get sober. I still struggle with that decision on most days, and that was nearly two years ago. But standing in that bar, smelling and seeing, even hearing, the alcohol flowing, was my first big test. I was alone, an hour from home, at the little jazz club where my son was playing with his high school band. We’d arrived early and the hostess said my son could go join his friends. She gently let me know the showroom was currently closed to seating and innocently grasped my elbow, turning me around to face the bar. “Why don’t you have a drink while you wait, sir?” she said with a gentle nudge.

Sir I thought. When did I become a sir? She was maybe twenty, twenty-one and beautiful. Less than half my age. How could someone so young and pretty and inexperienced in the world make me feel like such shit? It would be so easy. Just one drink. Well, probably two since the show would be long and I’d be okay to drive after a while. It really couldn’t be that bad, could it? My son didn’t know I’d quit yet and my wife wasn’t there. No one needed to know. I stumbled back from the bar. It felt like a whirlpool trying to draw me in. And down. The sharp smell of liquor filled my head, the tinkling of the glasses and ice poured into my ears. I could taste the bitterness on my tongue from across the room as if I’d taken a nice long pull. Even the air in bar was cool, as if to keep the liquor cold. The

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hairs on my arms stood up. The tiny bubbles whispered to me. The amber color of the ale gave me tunnel vision.

That’s my favorite color I thought to myself. That beautiful golden color. Have you ever really looked at a bar? The mirrored wall behind the bottles. The customized tap handles for each of the breweries. Those little square napkins stacked in a swirl pattern. It’s all shiny and glittery, and for some of us it falsely promises an escape. I probably stared at that bar from the entryway for three minutes. The hostess looked up once at me from her station, but how could she know what I was thinking. Finally, I shuffled outside into the warm Denver night and tried to breathe deep. Tried to ignore the flashing lights of the liquor store across the street. I thought I might pass out. Part of me hoped I would. I wept silently on the street corner.

I can’t let them down - my wife, my kids. I can’t fail in this. Mostly for myself. I cannot fail. I said it in my head like a mantra. It almost made a difference. I called my wife, just like I was supposed to do. Or at least that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I’d gone cold turkey, with no guidance and no counselling. Just woke up at 2:30 one morning and poured it all out. Months later my doctor would complain at me about that and explain that I could have had seizures or died or something. I’m not sure - I wasn’t really listening. Anyway, I called my wife and she was great, as usual. Reminded me that this was a good thing for me and that it would get easier. That I was up there for my son and not to forget that. To go in the club and enjoy the music. That she loved me.

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When it was time for the show, I went back inside and journeyed passed that bar. My boots thumped across the worn wooden floor, each step informing my sickness that I would not be defeated. At least not that day. The music was great and my son played really well, but I’ve never forgotten how the alcohol attacked every one of my senses. I still haven’t had counselling or much guidance from the so-called experts. I have a few friends that know my shame and sometimes they remember to say something encouraging. My wife reminds me every Monday morning that I’m doing great. Mostly I just stare down the beast alone. The nightmares are gone and the pain has receded. And yet sometimes I can still feel the beer dance across my tongue.

Damon Garn

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cold turkey

John is rolling on the bare floor//an apartment he rented during the making of The White Album//he's trying to kick the heroin thing//Yoko is kneeling next to him//wiping his forehead with a wet cloth//mommy's here, she keeps saying//she's dressed in velvet mini-skirt/ dark glasses/ lace collar//he keeps telling her he wants to die//Paul calls & says things are looking up//they're going to upgrade to eight-track at Trident studio//wonderful she says//but he can't come to the phone right now//crouching over John she tries to contain his shaking//his head rises then hits the floor//a dozen times//she tries to call the maharishi in Rishikesh so he can talk to John//she can't reach him//not even telepathically//john continues to shiver to curl himself// as if a roll of tightly wound tape//as in four-track//as if this could be the final mix//he keeps asking for more sugar//he becomes inaudible then strangely coherent//then the body tremors again//he pleads with Yoko to kill him//do it for love he keeps repeating//i can't she says//don't be selfish, he screams//she tries to sing to him//she wants to paint the sea with her voice a calm sea//he keeps pleading until he screams to kill him she knows where the syringes are //she cries//she wants to fly away & return when John will be quiet still & they can be virgins again//to calm him she agrees to shoot him up//he imagines himself smaller than the eye of the needle// her hands shake like baby birds//do it repeats John do it because you love me//she blows a vein//no, this one is good//his body goes slack//his lips release a long-held tension//he has a vision of walking along an almost empty shore//he comes upon an ocean child with seashell eyes of bottomless blue//they stare at each other// familiar strangers in another dream//i need to be saved he says//follow me she says//he wades behind her into the ocean//the waves are thinning out are kind/ receptive//they walk until submerged//there are tiny fish of rainbow colors//there are octopi with a hundred hidden eyes//there are sting rays & red/yellow jellyfish//he follows her because he believes in her//he doesn't need to breathe

Kyle Hemmings

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drive to breakdown

car drives up the ice age hill smelling of diesel and despair chasing demons and devils and heather burns purple on the roadside and heavy squalls are coming from dark thunder sky outside of dublin outside of skin flesh and bone grip steering wheel wishing fucking wings to apparition and angels are real in the glinty eyes of this flesh and bone damnation it parks and takes a carbine killing rifle from the bullet laden boot and starts shooting all the deer slumping deadwards with white tails blushing red up in the hills now pray for all the sinners and the zeros and the noughts and the minus numbers and the irrational numbers and the unreal numbers and the flesh and bone driving back down to the dublin city place all cartographies flap their wings and leave as the car returns leave as the car departs leave the car returns Brendan McCormack

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Soda Niter

She’d started building the contraption when spring got dry enough to set. Each day she worked, back and forth from the site hauling bags of cans, rods, straw. When she slowed, it waited, and some seasons worth of ice and tornado steam eroded the integrity of joint. Integrity. There’s a word thrown constantly then like a ball. It was supposed to mean something, to stick. But Dad went gray in district court. At 3 AM fevered, and wild: Mama held an animal and thought it was me. I watched her moving in that grass. Renewed, hard through the meadow, past the deer lick, white salt broken teeth in moss. I was green, months of summer in the ball field busking the mound. The young man who shared her bed as a housecat planned to leave in the night to get North. He couldn’t hack her obsession, the greasy machine.

She says it’s for cloudbusting, he’d told us. We couldn’t help. We thought him a pretty blip on the human map, a smudge of a man. But, truth be told, we feared her too. Who could blame him for his running, for falling to pieces like a cake. He saw wasps in the bent barn eating her cars. When she died her farm sold as pieces to burning new scientists chasing the sky. The attempts at translation, the tracings of notes. They dripped and stung at the station in sliced cloaks. Obscene and brilliant at the spring. They gaped at starbodies, ate pancakes in our town. Yellow owls circled the pharmacy at noon. Linda Wojtowick

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A Completely True History of Harker, Washington

If you’ll allow me to start with an anecdote: there’s a cliché about the spiders in the old Harker mines. Most people say it’s an ancient one, although I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s not. The mines closed in the 70’s, and the spiders and their distinctive webbing only came afterwards. But still, by the time the last factory in a 60-mile radius of town closed in 1986, we all toed the line. The saying went like this: “Webs that are yet still unmade Will rest upon the summer shade.” I know, I know. Real John Updike stuff. But that’s no concern, because it’s catchy and memorable and in the end, that’s what really matters. We were trying to market spiderwebs, not appoint the poet laureate. Maybe it was all wasted effort though, because National Geographic did all the work for us when they did a feature on the mines in 1988. America tuned in to see a tall, roughly featured British man with an accent that sounded like liquid decadence tell an entire country’s worth of suckers that the “Gossamer, silk-like sheets of spider webbing” in the Harker mines were “one of the

great, undiscovered natural wonders of the world.” We just joked that it looked like cheesecloth, but we didn’t complain; for a brief, glorious year, there was tourist money.

Big tourist money. Sure, we laughed at Nat Geo for how they oversold a simple oddity in a dying town, but deep inside, we knew who buttered our bread and we were grateful for them. Gratefuller still for the interest they ignited in the mines, because if there’d been none, we might not have found the corpse.

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Yes, the corpse; in August of 1989 during a dry spell for tourism, a bored tour guide found him lying in a ditch off the side of the main sump. This one was no dusty proprietor skeleton that rode here on covered wagon, no sir, he was comparatively fresh at 2 years young at time of discovery and partially preserved by the air of the mine. It gets weirder: he was a communist, or at least wore a Russian colonel’s uniform according to our Soviet military historian. Not just any colonel’s uniform, either; he was Lieutenant-Colonel -General of the Strategic Rocket Force of the USSR. The men in charge of the nuclear bombs. (Or, as we called them, “The Soviet A-bomb A-holes.”). So obviously there was an FBI - no, CIA - no, Interpol investigation of the whole affair? Black helicopters flying overhead while Russian FSB traded pal-mals with British SAS? Of course not! Not a peep out of the State governor in Olympia, much less the spooks in DC. Perhaps they thought that if they ignored us, they’d be able to ostracize us from mainstream attention. Alas, on that they were correct; despite our best efforts to convince them otherwise, every major news outlet in America thought it was just an elaborate hoax. I suppose I can understands their reasoning. Why listen to a hick-town in the middle of nowhere? But on my mother’s grave, I swear it’s true. You can even see the corpse in the town museum, just $2 an entrant to see him. You know, according to police reports, the Chens were planning on seeing the exhibit before they disappeared. Oh, the Chens? Yes, it was like they were taken by Rapture in the middle of their afternoon routine; the curtains were still pulled neatly over the windows, and the home still smelled of freshly cut ginger and star anise. A newspaper was left half-opened on the couch. Suspicions of foul play arose.

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Search parties were sent to the woods. In endless waves of single-file lines, townsfolk imbibed the warm, summer humidity and combed over pine needles for the smallest trace of the missing Chens. But it was all for naught. Our hunt for the truth turned up nothing except dead leaves and lost dolls. Nancy Grace was there, you know. She wanted to do a show on us, even interviewed a few of the searchers. But for reasons unknown to me, the episode never aired. Suppose it just didn’t make good TV. In the meantime, the case went cold and eventually closed in 2009. The town bought the house when no-one else did; we keep it as a museum now, a testament to that awful time when no answers seemed forthcoming. For upkeep, they charge about $2.50 per visit. If you want to go, they’re always open. They were good, hardworking people. The last miners to stay in Harker, actually. All the rest all died of heart attacks or strokes. There’s one more story to tell of the mines, actually. One more tale to tell. Summer of 2003. Cable was king and Iraq was on everyone’s mind. Not many people travelled by air in 2003, and as such business at the mines was low. For antsy teenagers smothered by the zeitgeist, that meant exploration. July 4, 2003, the day when fireworks were in the sky and Hussein was on the run. Three local teenagers (calling themselves the “Joneses,” like “Indiana Jones”) set out to explore the Harker mines without a map. Off the main shaft, there were dozens of offshoots that spread throughout the mountains like the legs from the body of a spider. The Joneses, not realizing what they were doing (and ignoring multiple “CAUTION: DO NOT ENTER” signs), went down the deepest, darkest and most dangerous tunnel of them all.

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Black rock scraped against rusty metal. It really was a miracle it didn’t cave in. Down, down, deeper into the bowels of the mountain they went, until, at the nadir of their mines, they realized they were hopelessly lost. Of course, the usual ensued: Arguments, fist-fights, cannibalism. But even after they worked out their venom, they were still stuck in the mine. So, left with nothing else, they prayed. For five minutes straight, they sang words of praise to God and the heavens and wouldn’t you know it? They saw a light! A guiding torch in the endless night, a shooting star to lead them from the desert of infernal terror. They expected to find themselves outdoors. What they found instead was much more momentous. Suddenly ejected from the rocky walls where no spider dared venture, the Joneses stumbled on a circular room with concrete pillars and a steel dome high above. A Pantheon built in the mountain, capped with an oculus that admitted light only through a thin sliver between its lids. The potent smell of mildew had rooted in the rain-soaked walls, and years of moisture had turned the once immaculate interior an earthy brown colour. Light dancing from on high drew the Joneses’ eyes to the

Piece de Resistance of the whole affair: an iron finger pointed squarely, accusingly towards the heavens. Yessiree, they found a missile silo with a bona-fide Minuteman-II still inside. They located an exit soon afterwards, and this time, when they reported their finding to the police, the government did respond. They sent the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the NNSA, the DIA, the DLA, and hell, why not the DEA for good measure? For two months, trucks filled with armored me rolled by in the dozens, carrying away iron shelling and military equipment and bringing in sacks of concrete and buckets of paint. Doctors came like ghosts in the night and examined our throats for swelling;

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when they found none, they disappeared back into the mist with their stethoscopes and Geiger counters in tow. With the doctors eventually went the helicopters, the jeeps, the army-men, and all evidence that the silo was ever a silo. Oh yes, Uncle Sam was cunning; he’d stripped the walls of its insignia and signage and slathered it in concrete and fresh coats of paint until it wasn’t a top-secret launch site anymore but a spitting copy of an old, disused mining shaft. They spared no expense; they even bored large holes in the walls to simulate branching tunnels, complete with false designations like “Shaft B-3” or “Level 2 Adit.” This little ruse is why you’ve never heard of a secret missile silo in a southern Washington mining settlement, but take my word for it: this town once housed one of the deadliest weapon known to man. This town was once the powerhouse and vanguard of a nation. Make no mistake, this town once endured. (You can still go to see the site: $12.99 for adults, $10.99 for those 12 and under or 65+. Ain’t that a steal?)

Ryan Wu

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Threads Marichit Garcia

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Hillbilly, Regular Leaf

So anyway, about the wind. It comes from the new county line, redrawn in recent years. What went on over there wasn’t clear. We heard storiesspores in the dry oil beds. Guns and ice in quiet barns. Salamanders ate toys and rags on the bonney banks. I’m here because, I don’t know, I can’t set it down. You, the fields, the stupid moon. The insurmountable hour back then between our towns. Maybe I need a continuation, a serve. Maybe I’m dead. Maybe the bones push more each year through your skin. It doesn’t matter. Anyhow there’s only bleak news from the front. Come to my house down the failing road. You’ll know the pigtooth trees and softening porch. As always, I know you’ll come fortified. Come clean. For five minutes, we’ll cry and sing like champions. Wild axe, always ripping. Taking hair and nerves and bread. All night my head pedals, grinds down. Everything, everywhere, on fire. Linda Wojtowick

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The Human Touch

While playing chess, the girl decides to start her own country. Homeless guys who sleep in church courtyards perform the baptisms. Your mother loves everyone equally. A thousand exquisitely painful poems are found boxed in the deceased’s closet. Devouring eyes of a runaway husband haunt the child’s face. The last step is self-immolation. When that joint comes around the plantation graveyard, take a drag, and please don’t Bogart. Military police surround a museum wearing suicide vests. Shadows shape like burning nooses swinging on weeping trees. Neighbors claim Indians sprout up in their lawns at night. On the driveway, next to a teenage corpse, Cowboy Bob waits to quickdraw again. Settlers scalped more than and before them Injuns ever did. Supreme Being(s) seem unlikely to trade their leisure for a stake in this world. Do the math: Mississippi does not envy our progress. Your father forsakes everyone equally. This then explains beauty buying a gun. This is us being mischievous molecules. This then explains Bobby Fischer’s dying words. Michael Dwayne Smith

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Touching Air

I lie almost naked, face down, a towel covering the lower part of my body. The very act of lying like this, in this place, releases tiredness, tells me where I ache, where I’m stiff or sore, and relieves me of the feeling that I have to do anything. So my body literally aches to be touched, but today it will not be. Millie’s hands contain rare knowledge. They probe with sensitivity and insight. They know that skin, sinew and muscle are simply metaphors for the human spirit. If I weep, as sometimes happens, she rests one hand on my sacrum and another on the crown of my head. With gratitude I allow the warmth I feel from her palms to absorb my sorrow, to make darkness light. The neck that has hardened while craning towards a computer, or away from peripheral threats, slowly yields some of its armour. The throat tightened by unspoken anger can begin to swallow more freely, can channel frustration-dissolving sighs into the still, aromatic air. I come here, to this small suburban house, not regularly, in fact mostly later than my body would prefer. It’s only when the knots in my spine, the demons that lift my shoulders, and a growing traction of heartache beg for help from another, that I realise I can no longer refuse them. And that other is Millie, whose knuckles are swollen, who herself walks stiffly, and who recently reduced her practice to two days in the week. ‘I mostly do Reiki now,’ she tells me today, when we sit together as she takes notes before the session begins. She has never mentioned this before, and I notice she looks paler than usual. ‘Did you have to train for that?’ I ask.

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‘I did,’ she said, ‘but I found I could do it almost immediately.’ ‘I’m sure you did,’ I say. What course, after all, could teach such a person how to heal? ‘Would you like to try it?’ she asks. ‘I wouldn’t actually be touching you, or hardly, but the effect can be quite powerful.’ This takes me by surprise and immediately I feel reluctant. Her touch is a given quantity, a guarantee of solace, but there is something in her voice that makes me hesitate to refuse. And my eye falls on those swollen knuckles holding a pen and notebook. ‘Yes, thanks Millie,’ I say. After all, given all the years I have been coming to see her, who am I to deny her my trust? She puts aside her notebook. I have long thought that the habit of taking notes is simply an act of humility on her part. Her hands, I’m sure, have never needed notes. ‘You don’t have to undress for Reiki, unless you would prefer to,’ she says. ‘I think I would, Millie,’ I reply. The shedding of clothes is part of the ritual, a letting go of the person I must be outside, perhaps even a gesture towards an innocence obscured over time but still longed for. ‘I’ll join you in a couple of minutes, then.’ she says. She leaves the room. I remove my clothes and fold them carefully onto the chair near her desk. I walk across to her massage table in only my underwear and lie down. I close my eyes in preparation. I hear Millie enter again, and await the warm towel that she always lays, like a caress, across my lower back, smoothing it down to cover even the soles of my feet.

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My body has learned to treat this as a signal. Absorbing the gift of heat it becomes receptive, even compliant. It welcomes what is to follow. But what is to follow? I find I am very aware of Millie’s presence, strangely more so than when she is giving massage. There is something in her touch that allows me to forget its source, even much of what I normally consider to be myself, as layers of the person who normally meets the world are gently kneaded away. Now though, I sense only that she is standing somewhere above my head, and that the room is utterly silent. I am not threatened by this, but I am curious: I’m aware that my mind remains active, anticipating. Then the curiosity begins to melt, because gradually it feels as though thoughts are being extracted, lifted slowly but insistently away from me. This continues for what seems a long time, until whatever is left feels quiet and distilled, a space made free for clarity, a depth of stillness never previously attained. Eventually I hear the sound of Millie’s feet on the carpet, perhaps moving alongside, and I begin to feel heat in my lower spine. The heat is internal, somehow from a source within me. It grows more intense until the lumber area of my back can no longer contain it, and it floods upwards towards my neck and outwards into the muscles beneath my shoulder blades, then down into my lungs. For a moment I am breathing fire; a hot, cleansing oxygen. And then I am breathing light: light which is cool and spreading beyond the boundaries of my body, until I have no sense of where my physical self ends and the atmosphere surrounding it starts. For the first time in my life I feel completely alone, wonderfully solitary, exultant. I am allowed to know a part of myself that is beyond description or definition, that has never before been accessible, but which is now available and at the very centre

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of who I am. And then I see a figure, small, frail and transcendent, stepping away into light. When I wake I have no sense of how long I have been lying like this. I become aware that my back and shoulders are now also covered, and then that Millie is sitting quietly at her desk. And slowly I realise that she is not moving, or breathing.

Mike Fox

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Wintear Seth Crook

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Time Travel

Foy’s Anne Boleyn kneels, Shivering grey velvet. Twists towards kind words,

girasole.

Voice-echo overlaps the bladeswing. Her ladies bear the roughspun coffin. Eight hands clutch

handles, one

Swaddling her neck stump In a linen square. The wood must

be so heavy.

Thin shoulders, The wood must Their pale,

clavicles straining against the skin.

be chafing away their skin, too-soft

skin.

It took six men to lift my father, In a coffin covered with a photograph Of the hillside

where he flew plywood aeroplanes

Over fields, Running,

I’d taken

Downs,

our old black dog,

running,

to follow its shadow.

Joanna Nissel

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Your Ashes We opened our share of your ashes in the hotel room before we spread them the next morning The ashes were in a plastic bag in a cardboard box They were much clumpier than I thought they’d be and there was a small silver button buttoned and I wondered if it was from your hospital gown We climbed the mountainside just outside of Tucson And we each took turns spreading your remnants and this being our first time no one had prepared any written statements so we all said something meaningful but not memorable I told you that I loved you and always would And I remember making sure that all of your ashes were shaken out of the creases of the plastic bag because I thought it would be terrible if part of you ended up in the garbage can in the parking lot Jason Fisk

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Anxiety (Cover Image) Mariah Cowsert

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Cabinets of OFSTED inspection

Nobody liked the stepmother that came into their lives, quite unexpectedly, one Saturday in the third week of June. It might have even been raining, certainly nothing like a downpour but if you were going outside, which people often do in June, one would probably have wanted a light anorak or coat. An umbrella would have been too much, you might have thought it umbrella weather if you were standing inside and looking out at the rain, but once you got outside, where the rain was, you would realise that all you needed was a jacket. It was difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when they acquired a stepmother, these things often are, but suddenly she was very present, bordering on a ‘hyper-presentness’, of which there has been no documented cases since the early nineties. She had no immediate desires to leave, which was unfortunate as everybody would have preferred, rather permanently, if she did. The stepmother even had one of those smaller versions of herself which followed her around and did similar things of annoyance on a lesser scale because it was reduced in size. Or actually, it could that it was more concentrated, in the sense that the annoyance was larger because of the ratio of height, weight and irritation it managed to cause. Either way the stepmother and her sidecar were not welcome but were welcomed anyway, becoming a fixture and fitting in a house they did not belong or add considerable merit to. If they were to be judged, as people or institutions sometimes are, they would have been awarded ‘requires improvement’ or dare I say, which may cause some offence: inadequate.

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It wasn’t that they were averse to the concept of there being a stepmother, life can be a long and lonely chore at the best of times, it’s just that if they had bought her at a shop, where items are bought, bargained and sold, they would have asked for a full refund and perhaps complained to a standards commission. It’s not that there hadn’t been others, there had been many, several in fact, on the periphery and hidden in dressers and drawers. The good thing about drawers is that you can put stuff in them, sometimes even lock it, and then pretend it isn’t there. This stepmother, who didn’t believe in keys or filing systems, wouldn’t allow herself to put in a dresser, let alone close the drawer, she was a real stickler for being there and people hated her for that. There was a local urban legend, surely every town has one or two (perhaps even more), that said a man had died from being shut in a cupboard for too long. They claimed he climbed in of his own accord, but there was evidence to suggest he was coerced into the space for ulterior motives. I’m not saying that these two events are linked, but I’m also not saying they are completely unrelated. My stepmother, yes, I guess she is everyone’s stepmother now, including yours, always said she mistrusted selfcontained venues that had the option of a front door. It was then, perhaps just a little before (surely it couldn’t have been thenceforth), I had suspicions that everything was not as it seemed. Our house, which was her house now, was dusty and untidy and not in a passable condition to visit; the holidays being no exception or adjournment. A deadbolt was placed on the conchiglioni meadow we used to play in, the one in which we once ran free. It goes without saying, the deadbolt was not one that was visible to the naked eye. Neither did the conchiglioni meadow benefit from its usual nutmeg infusion, she saw to rid our lives of patriarchy, love and spices. We decided, I had a brother who hated her just as much (if not a dash more), there was a real possibility we

35


might have to cause her serious harm for the longevity of future meadow running generations. I know this is cruel but I wouldn’t give her a blade of grass, not even if she was on fire. If she was on fire, I’d probably just give her more fire. For the record we can’t choose family but we can choose violence to relieve us of our problems. I’ve asked at least three history teachers and they say it’s so true it can’t be anything other than a fact. I like sticking to facts more than anything else. They are more adhesive than fiction but not as effective as memoir, telling your life something like back to front or slightly reversed. Lies are for invading other countries and badger sets that aren’t yours to begin with. My stepmother was not a badger and she knew it, we reminded her of it every time she came with her claws that were of a shape utterly different to ours. Earthworms and wills aside, it can be difficult to think of death without money and burrowing lizards, legless in a pursuit of decay; her hands were not touching our skin or anything that was subject to decomposition. Not that she’d done a hard day’s work in her life, despite wrongly believing she ‘affected so many’ with her oeuvre of moving through the decades as a lacklustre sourpuss with no discernible talent or friends. You think me cruel and I am, somewhat. It was easy enough, homicide often is, when your back’s against the wall and your inheritance is on a metallic pole. I lured the sidecar to an open cupboard by waggling a freshly deboned fillet of salmon, it hadn’t been marinated as extras don’t tend to like or choose decadence. The sidecar was talking about a dolphin den, whatever one of those were, and had horrible eye makeup on. It looked as it had been attacked by a blender and not in a good way. I threw the salmon, which on retrospect may have had a bone or two near the foot, tail or head and shouted: ‘Here kitty kitty

36


sidecar, it’s time you go in to the garage for an MOT.’ Of course the sidecar, having underperformed at Key Stage three across the board, listened and dutifully obeyed my instructions. I locked the cupboard with no fuss or exhaust fumes and exited stage left from all subsequent culpability or blame. The sidecar was never found and I did not expect it to be, we quickly forgot about addition or the idea that individuals came with excessive baggage. The stepmother began to wilt as my brother and I chipped away at her resolve hourly, we used gardening gloves and words to make her appear unreasonable and out of season. Sometimes we made jokes about bagels and put drain cleaner in her tea. We convinced her of an affair that was more than likely taking place, one year instead of sexy underwear or a bread maker she bought a gun. She pulled the trigger in the third weekend of June, eight rotations to the day she afflicted us with her presence, a presence that shooed the sun, fun and light away, bringing only mild to moderate rain. I’d like to think we were grateful of her sacrifice but the time for niceties had longer since expired. It was a mercy for the world struck down in it’s prime by a grumblepadlock with a masters in fault-finding and misery. Our conchiglioni meadow was where we buried her, right at the back with no tombstone, but underneath a pear tree which never born any fruit. We got another stepmother soon after and fell in love with her kindness, patience and the fact she wasn’t a failure of a human being. After not much discussion, we decided to keep this one alive but, showed her one afternoon where the previous stepmother had been lain to rest. She said it was the ugliest tree she had ever seen and we didn’t disagree.

Liam Sutherland

37


Sophia

Missing since: May 15, 1970 from Chicago, Illinois Age: 62 years old Clothing/jewelry: A cocktail dress and jewelry

She tries the dress on carefully; Smooths the fabric with careful fingers, Twists and turns before the glass. “I like it” she says And lifts the room with a quiet, shy smile. “I’ll take it, please. Just wrap it for me here.” The dress is blue: A scattering of cornflowers marks the neck and hem. The colour of her eyes. I tell her this and watch her smile again. “My favourite flower” she says. ‘My husband buys them for our anniversary.” I wrap the dress. Hide matching gloves inside the heavy folds. She lifts the package, smiles, and walks away. Anne McMaster

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Autumn Years

Unspooled dreams snake underfoot. My cassette case is crushed by your heavy, slippered feet. I creep across the yard and bin the sharp remains. Back indoors, I pack tight angry words, learnt by heart into a note. Handwritten. I prop it on the mantlepiece behind your carriage clock – the gift that marked the end of work, that standstill stall of time. I draw the sticky, iron bolt – turn the deadlock, oiled by your dominant right hand Then I hum a tune and call, ‘You sod. Catch me if you can.’ Ceinwen Haydon

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Vulnerability Mariah Cowsert

40


Ghosting for Beginners

Having only the suggestion of fingers, ghosts are unable to embrace the internet. The impotent deceased instead resort to rustling papers, slamming doors photo bombing family portraits, haloing the living with a nebulous haze. You, however have all the tools to hand. There’s no need to hang around graveyards with malevolent intent or hex the air with an ominous waft. Simply disappear from her twitter feed, become invisible on her wall, leave vast gaps between texts. Imagine how the ghouls will envy you when you become a spectre on social media. You can imagine why they are irked, absence is their Calling Card. Oh gauzy digits hovering over the keys, unable to make impression. Oh ethereal fingers unable to click in 'un-friend'. Anna Saunders

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Rough and Weepy

“Weepy” Will Oh, nicknamed by his eye-rolling siblings, imagined that nobody could feel things more deeply or string more adjectives together to qualify a single noun than him. Having meatloaf for dinner would propel Weepy into a soliloquy about the mesmerizing blend of aromas, dancing inside his receptive flaring nostrils like lacey seafoam in a gentle breeze atop playful aquamarine waves. He would take a bite of the meatloaf, only to effuse about how the sweet paprika was emboldened by the spicy black pepper, and how together they enriched the delicate ground flesh to produce a succulent, savory, nutritious delicacy. Weepy would tell you that he felt—truly, deeply, viscerally felt, with all his heart and in both his soul and his gut, although he would allow that his love for meatloaf might have something to do with the latter—that he was destined for greatness in the realm of literary fiction. He envisioned he would publish critically acclaimed evocative pieces in the vein of famous wordsmiths who have obfuscated their way into the stratospheric echelons of modern literature.

***

“Rough” N. Tumble would love to kick you in the head if you called her by her given name, Natalie. She thought Natalie was a stupid name and she hated her stupid parents for giving it to her, although she actually adored them and would admit to it without a scowl. Rough would tell you that she was great at rollerblading, skateboarding,

42


kickboxing, as well as writing adrenaline-packed speculative fiction, mainly horror and thrillers. Rough believed that adverbs were evil and referred to adjectives as sneaky little shits: if you weren't careful, they would obscure your plot, slow down your action, make you focus on your stupid impressions and feelings, and bore everyone to death. All a writer needed was a large vocabulary of nouns and verbs, preferably action verbs. And the adjective stupid.

***

English 327 Instructor: Professor Ophelia Rosencrantz-Guildenstern

Week 3 Writing Prompt: CONFLICT

It was a balmy Sunday afternoon of the Indian summer. I was sitting by the street window in Spill the Beans, a gorgeous little coffee shop next to the student commons. The passers-by laughed and talked with the joy of those oblivious to all the world’s ills. A mesmerizing blend of aromas of Ethiopian, Colombian, and Peruvian coffees danced inside my receptive flaring nostrils like lacey seafoam in a gentle breeze atop playful aquamarine waves. I was taking notes in a notebook with a silhouette of a seagull against a sunset on the cover. The handsomest woman of my acquaintance entered the coffee shop and her eyes locked onto mine. I sat there, petrified, as she forced herself upon my soul that lay

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bare on the paper, and she deemed me and my words worthless. She cut me open and left me bleeding, and then she left, unfeeling.

Over the weekend, I went to a coffee shop and ran into one of my classmates, W. He was working on a writing assignment, jotting down his thoughts in a notebook instead of typing them up, which I thought was both stupid and adorable (the notebook had a seagull and an ocean sunset on the cover). He would not let me see what he’d written, so I pried the notebook from his hands (not my proudest moment). I read the first couple of pages. He’s observant, but takes himself far too seriously: cumbersome sentences; the plot smothered by needless descriptions and strained metaphors. When I told him what I thought, he got defensive and sneered. “Oh, you obviously don’t appreciate the literary style. Let me guess: you like genre fiction? Thrillers? Horror?” I told him that good writing took many forms, that he should be so lucky to write as lucidly as the best genre novelists, and that he should read broadly instead of being a snob. I’m used to people putting down genre fiction, but I still got so upset that I started to tear up, so I left.

***

Week 4 Writing Prompt: KINDNESS

The Angel of Darkness, who had crushed my soul just a few days ago, showed up bearing an armful of gifts: words, millions of words in hardcovers so shiny they nearly blinded me, words waiting to insert themselves into the crevices of my brain. I wanted

44


to flee, to hide, but I felt lightheaded, unable to move. Her eyes, dark, with a golden flame, pierced my soul and stirred my deepest, best hidden fear... That I would never achieve what I desire most—to connect with others, to express how I feel, to reveal the depths to which light and sound and smell touch me… The Angel of Darkness burned me raw with the golden flame of her midnight eyes. The truth about my art lay illuminated. The Angel of Darkness never smiles. She terrifies me, but I cannot look away. With her ebony tresses, she visits me in my dreams every night; I cannot wait to fall asleep.

I met with W at the coffee shop and brought him three of my favorite genre novels. I think he’s scared of me. I told him I liked his writing, but that he needed to take it down a notch. Not every ray of light or flap of birds’ wings or smell that tickles his nostrils needs to be described in such great detail—people cannot process so much information. He should try and put himself in the readers’ shoes, give them enough so they can feel like they are there with him, hungry for more, but let them imagine the rest by themselves—that’s more fun! He relaxed and asked if he could read some of my writing or bring me some of his own favorite novels. I thought those were both great ideas. I’m looking forward to seeing him next week and to reading more of his material. He glows when we talk about books. When he looks at me, I feel giddy. I know it’s stupid, but it’s true.

***

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Week 8 Writing Prompt: GROWTH

The Angel of Darkness and I sit together; our flames, in unison, illuminate us both. She had been lost in the darkness, always moving, trying to feel her way out. There was nothing to see or hear or smell. When she found me, my flame hurt her eyes and her ears and her nose, for she had never known what it would be like out of the darkness. Together, the Angel of Darkness and I read the words written by the dead and the living, by the wise and the foolish. We write and read our own words, beautiful as they move, for she helps them move with her flame, and beautiful as they stand still, for I help them stand still with mine. The Angel of Darkness smiles now, and when she does, the gold in her midnight eyes becomes red, and I lose my breath and all of my dearest words.

I have been spending a lot of time with W. He dutifully reads the books I bring him, and has, in turn, brought me some of his favorites. I feel like I’m witnessing W’s real voice emerge... More clear, with real insight and emotion. In turn, I have come to appreciate the importance of pausing to spend some time with my characters or to take in a setting, instead of having everyone run and jump and chase monsters throughout.

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He has me comment on most of his material, but there are some pieces he won’t let me touch. I guess they’re about me. I wouldn’t let him read what I’ve written about him, either.

***

Week 12 Writing Prompt: DELIGHT

The Angel of Darkness enveloped me with her wings, as I drank her fire and she drank mine. She is my Angel of Darkness and I am hers.

Yesterday, at the coffee shop, I caught myself looking at the outline of W’s jaw and the stray hairs on his forehead. I tried to put into words how I felt, but I didn’t know what to say. So I got up and went around the table to where W sat. He put away his pen and notebook, turned his whole body toward me, and looked at me, puzzled. “What?” I took his head into my hands and kissed him. For a split second, I wondered if this had been a mistake, but W embraced me tightly, sat me down on his lap, and kissed me back with such hunger, that I realized he’d been wanting this as much as I had. I have no recollection of how much time had passed before a Spill the Beans barista came to warn us to behave and teased us to get a room. As we disentangled, W pushed a strand of hair off my face, smiled, and whispered, “My Angel of Darkness.” It made me really happy. I know it’s stupid, but it’s true.

Maura Yzmore

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Possibilities of Identity in a Winter Portrait

I paint rain into the picture, drop Rachmaninoff behind the scene, heard just over the edges (ÉlÊgie in E-flat minor), or I plant begonias, orange and white, observe sway-branch breeze wipe the scent beneath his nose, or I open his mouth to taste eucalyptus bark, scrape his tongue, or maybe flicker his 8-mm childhood slightly behind the silhouette of his head, or perhaps when he moves a finger, eyes it wilfully to touch his own skin, goose pimple light in his eyes, mindless alive, and rises to his feet, I sit back, outside of the downpour, and watch him run off behind a few trees, leaves heavy and bent with raindrops, as the piano drowns in the encroaching silence of my closing eyes, a rest, a weightlessness, a color something like diffusion, or a far voice. Michael Dwayne Smith

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College

I’m trying to sleep and watching a movie at the same time. Go figure. On right now is a cheap slasher movie from the 80’s. A group of teenagers are throwing a frat party in the movie; right now, a blonde guy is talking on his phone with his girlfriend, and here in my bedroom, it’s 2 in the morning and I can’t fall asleep. With a lazy turn of my head, I look out my window and see Slashy peering at me from the depths of night. He wears an off-white, expressionless mask that sort of looks like a porcelain doll (but then, all slasher masks look like porcelain dolls). His eyes are the colour of pitch, and a line of drool hangs from the corner of his cracked, chinaware lips. Rusted nails, driven at haphazard angles into his forehead, are a poor imitation of hair. Slashy has a bowie knife and wants to come in. “Sure,” I say, and I open the window. My chair’s a little small for him considering that he’s 8’6”, but he takes it anyways and is polite about the whole thing. Today, he’s wearing a pair of filthencrusted worker’s coveralls and electrician boots. Each step he takes leaves clumps of pungent earth stuck to the hardwood floor. Their odour mixes uneasily with the smell of stale iron, and I have to hold my hand to my nose. The first kill of the movie is coming up. There’s a girl standing a bit too close to a darkened window, a window that - as the camera lights slowly reveal - Slashy is standing behind, his very presence interminable and overpowering. If my friends were here, we’d all be laughing right now, with handfuls of buttered popcorn clenched in our fists and a chorus of “Look behind you!” and “He’s right there!” running past our lips. And then, when all was said and done, we’d all laugh together

49


and slap each other’s backs. Right now, I just give a familiar chuckle. More of a choke, really.

Smash! Slashy’s hands reach past the broken glass and grabs the victim by her waist. This was the 22nd time I watched this death scene. The first time I watched it (I was 12), it gave me nightmares for a week. I never wanted to look at a car engine again. “Y’know,” I say, and Slashy turns his head at me. If we’re being honest, I forgot he was there, but I continue, “I think that actress went to our school.” It’s true. Judy Engram went to Lawson High in California before going on to USC to become an actress. Here, she’s one year out of graduation and absolutely terrified. Maybe a million thoughts are going through her, but all of them pulling her to two extremes of horror: “Is this the rest of my life?” and “Is this the best part of my life?” Suddenly, I don’t want to watch anymore. I ask Slashy if I can turn it off and maybe catch some sleep, but he pretends not to hear me. He’s taken the bowl of popcorn for himself though, and he seems to be enjoying it. It’s the car engine, I think. I can’t stop thinking about the car engine. --Staring up at the ceiling. It’s 2:30 in the morning. A guy gets an axe to the face. He’s the dumb one that could only think about booze and disco, and my friends loved him for it. The first girl made us shout “Look behind you!” This guy just made us laugh and have a good time. Actually, I think I saw a picture once of the actor when he was our age (he’s 26 in the film), and he looked just like my friend Dave. The same quasi-bowl haircut, the

50


same patch of acne running along his cheek. Spitting image, really. Only problem were the names were a bit different; hell, he even dressed like him, with a fondness for collared shirts and flat-top glasses. Weird to think of Dave. In the movie, Slashy is hacking away at a very dead body. Thirty minutes later, when the final survivor finally wises up to what’s going, Slashy will throw the body through a window to scare her. There’ll be a closeup of her face, and she’ll scream, “CHET [Dave], WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?” I need to catch some sleep. Maybe I can ask Slashy to turn down the volume, but I doubt he will. --It’s 3 in the morning but I still can’t sleep. I’ve made progress though; instead of staring at the ceiling, I’m staring at the wall. But now, I can’t help but look at the TV. In the movie, suspicion and worry is starting to mingle in the final survivor’s face. She cradles a phone to her cheek, crooning into it: “Hello? Hello?” At this point, I’m practically singing along to the lines; as she backs out of the room in horror, I shout in a sailor’s tenor, “I need to get out of here!” With a high-pitched vibrato I shriek, “What’s going on?” And as she wanders through the halls, I sing in my best choir voice, “Chet [Dave]? Chet [Dave]?” A scream. Yes, she’s found the bodies. We always loved this part of a slasher movie, my friends and I. It’s the most heightened part of the film; all the skewed angles and fish-eyed lenses a cinematographer can muster, sudden dramatic reveals of rotting corpses combined with stabbing, discordant synthesizer tones. This was the part when we all threw popcorn at the TV and shouted, “He’s coming to get you!”

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The last body she finds is Chet’s, as it’s thrown through the kitchen window. It’s filmed in slow motion: first, his back smashes against the glass, crushing his vertebra into dust. Then the camera insists on showing all the different grotesque details of Chet’s mutilation as he flies across the room; Chet with his face caught in a hailstorm of broken glass, Chet as he tumbles along the floor. I feel sick. Two spotlights shine from behind now, illuminating the scene like the headlights from a car. At the force of impact, his neck snaps, and he stops feeling the indignities that the collision piles on his body. At least, that’s what the doctor told us after we heard about the crash. Dave, not Chet. “Jesus, I don’t want to watch this anymore.” Slashy doesn’t speak, just gestures at the bowl of popcorn I forgot about.

Ryan Wu

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Fucking Space Whales, Man Sam Grudgings

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Vest

I pray to the god of blue-green He pulls my arms behind my back and feeds me salt-water Oh my dreams, the laurel flowers fall from my hair dead And moist I am prey to the god of green-blue Hunted like a white deer beyond the shimmer lights My movements become static and static shift/shift The mechanics of my muscles experience a failure Fingers meet, because I am The goddess of purple-cyan, of bruises and milky eyes We cannot meld our constellations have reformed Break and broken, drawing lines between our knuckles Our fractured ball-joints Beat out the dust with cries to prey, to pray Static/static We are sexless and removed, I scratch the deep red from his Blue-green I am prey and pray and prey and pray Continue on, stationary. Does anyone pray/prey anymore. I have vomited up my salt-water sacrificial lamb.

Ryn Weil

54


Recreation – A Mixed Blessing

At dusk we drove home after a day of fishing, relishing our angling skills and patience toward the catching of small bream, those wee hungry sunfish swarming the water under our yellow corn-baited #8 hooks: those unknowing additions to our dinner table, where we will exclaim over the sweetness of their flesh and how beautiful they were so alive and splendid in their realm. Dennis Herrell

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The Sheep

The sheep have escaped again. Lying Elysian under the tree on that grassy bank beside the stream we drive past resignedly on the daily crawl. A teasing, tranquil scene. Yet someone will call. Rounding them back up to the farm, until once more, sensing a moment amiss, they abscond back to this same spot, where, again, passing by, we can only wonder staring back at their indifference: wheel after wheel slow-turning, always delaying our destination. Peter Burrows

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Contributors

Without a clue what he's doing, Jimmy Andrex performs his poetry all over the UK either with or without music. He has been Black Horse Poet of the Year on two occasions, published two collections, along with three albums and a play, 3 Characters. He collaborated with RCM composer Amy Bryce at the Leeds Lieder Festival, where their piece The Green Children of Woolfit did untold damage to an expensive grand piano. Jimmy is co-founder (with John Irving Clarke) of Red Shed Readings, compere of Hot Banana Open Mic and an occasional presenter on elfm’s Love the Word. He is currently working on Town, a piece of poetry theatre to premiere in March 2018 Jennifer Boyd is a high school senior from Hull, Massachusetts. Her poetry and essays have appeared in several publications, including Poetry Quarterly, Alexandria

Quarterly, Tower Journal, and The Critical Pass Review. She is the recipient of the 2017 Easterday National Poetry Prize. Most recently, Jennifer published her first chapbook,

Stretto (2017). Peter Burrows is a Librarian in the North West of England. His poems have appeared in The North, The Interpreter’s House, The Frogmore Papers, The Cannon’s

Mouth, South, Cake, Southlight, Orbis, Reach Poetry and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Mariah Cowsert is a writer, collage, and embroidery artist in Grand Rapids, MI. She previously had work featured at Cerasus Studio for a duo show last winter with Hailey Lamb, How We Talk To Others: A Visual Diary, Process: Fiber for Art. Downtown 2017,

UNPACKING: a solo show at Cerasus Studio, and most recently created art for the music venues for Lamp Light Music Festival this fall. She is an entirely self-taught artist which comes with its own trial, errors, and celebrations. She utilizes sustainability in her work through excess fabric for natural dye studies, using homemade natural dyes, and found materials. Seth Crook loves puffins, has taught philosophy at various universities and lives on the Isle of Mull. His poems appear in such places as The Rialto, Magma, Envoi, The

Interpreter's House, Gutter, Northwords Now, Poetry Scotland, The Journal, Southlight, Antiphon, Snakeskin and various anthologies from Three Drops Press. His photographs have appeared in the Scottish Islands Explorer and The Projectionist's Playground.

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Jason Fisk is a husband to one, a father to three, and a teacher to many. He currently lives and writes in the suburbs of Chicago. His long list of employment before becoming a teacher includes working as a mental health professional in a psychiatric unit, working as a line worker in a kitchen cabinet making factory, and mixing cement for a bricklayer. www.jasonfisk.com Mike Fox’s stories have appeared in The London Journal of Fiction, Popshot, Confingo,

Into the Void, Fictive Dream, The Nottingham Review, Structo, Prole, Fairlight Books and Footnote. His story The Homing Instinct, first published in Confingo, has been selected to appear in the Best British Short Stories 2018 (Salt). Another story, The Violet Eye, will shortly be published by Nightjar Publications as a limited-edition chapbook. Contact Mike at: www.polyscribe.co.uk Marichit Garcia is an artist and writer who went through two decades of corporate work before burning out. From the proverbial ashes the artist and writer emerged from forgotten childhood dreams. Her work focuses on the exploration and creation of The

Impossible Garden & The Wildforest - worlds that are born one art piece and one story at a time. Her main medium are watercolour and inks on paper. Damon Garn lives in Colorado Springs, CO with his wife and two children. He enjoys hiking, writing and annoying his neighbors with mediocre guitar playing. He writes in the fantasy/sci-fi realm experimenting in flash fiction, short stories and a novel. Follow on Twitter: dmgwrites or at dmgwrites.wordpress.com Sam Grudgings is a shabbily dressed, painter, poet and storyteller from Bristol. He works strictly in acrylic and other mediums, but never in larges. He sexts in comic sans and everything he says is a fucking lie. Dangerously nude. Fashionably late. Sam's work has been displayed in some places and banned in others. Janelle Hardacre lives in Manchester and writes short fiction when she’s not working in communications or singing. Her work is published in Ellipsis Zine, Pygmy

Giant, Spelk, FlashFlood Journal and Reflex Fiction. Her story Late appears in William Faulkner’s Typewriter, an anthology by students from Comma Press’ short story course. She blogs at janellehardacre.co.uk and tweets @jhardacre1. Ceinwen E. Cariad Haydon lives in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and writes short stories and poetry. She has been published on the internet and in print. She recently completed her MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

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Dennis Herrell’s work life began as a teacher, then a sporting goods wholesaler, a gift/card wholesaler, and finally an antique dealer. He is now retired. In the year 2000, he started seriously submitting his poetry, with about 500 poems published in various U.S, Canada, British, Austria, Australian magazines, plus three poetry books. Kyle Hemmings has been published in Horror Zine, Sonic Boom, Blaze Vox, and elsewhere. He loves street photography, French Impressionism, and 60s garage bands who never found mainstream success. Jason Jackson has been taking photographs for just over a year now. He also writes short fiction and poetry. In a busy life, he hopes to get better at all three of these. Jason tweets @jj_fiction Brendan McCormack is a poet/writer living in West Cork, Ireland. His first collection,

Selling Heaven, was published in 2013 by Burning Apple Press, NJ, USA. A former lecturer in English Literature and Performing Arts, Anne McMaster now works as a freelance playwright, poet, theatre director and creative facilitator. She lives in the rural north west of Northern Ireland and has grand plans for the much-loved old farm she calls home. Joanna Nissel is an MA student at Bath Spa University. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Irisi, Amaryllis, Clear Poetry, DNA, Glove and Eye Flash magazines. She is also the social media editor for Tears in the Fence. Anna Saunders is the author of Communion (Wild Conversations Press), Struck (Pindrop Press), Kissing the She Bear (Wild Conversations Press), Burne

Jones and the Fox (Indigo Dreams) and the forthcoming Ghosting for Beginners (Indigo Dreams, Spring 2018). Anna has had poems published in journals and anthologies, which include Ambit, The North, New Walk Magazine, Amaryllis, Iota, Caduceus, Envoi,

The Wenlock Anthology, Eyeflash, Ink Sweat and Tears, Critical Quarterly and The Museum of Light. She is also the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. Michael Dwayne Smith lives near a Mojave Desert ghost town with his family and rescued animals. His most recent book is Roadside Epiphanies (Cholla Needles Press, 2017). Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, recipient of both the Hinderaker Award for poetry and Polonsky Prize for fiction, his work haunts many literary houses-including The Cortland Review, New World Writing, Skidrow Penthouse, Word Riot,

Heron Tree - and has been widely anthologized. When not writing or teaching, MDS is editor of Mojave River Press & Review.

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Liam Sutherland is a Bristol writer who has completed a BA honours and MA in English Literature. He is interested in Great Danes, Max Ernst and Camembert cheese. Ryn Weil is a hermit who lives with bees. She was previously published in Occulum and Moonchild Magazine. Linda Wojtowick grew up in Montana. She now lives in Portland, Oregon, where she can easily indulge her cinematic obsessions without restraint. Linda is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and her work has most recently appeared in Noble/Gas

Quarterly, Visitant, Calamus Journal, Sooth Swarm, Abramelin, and Occulum. Ryan Wu is a 17-year-old high school junior currently attending school in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Maura Yzmore gets paid to be a nerd and writes short stories so she wouldn't drive everyone around her crazy. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The

Fiction Pool, Ellipsis Zine, Jellyfish Review, Gone Lawn, and elsewhere. Find her at https://maurayzmore.com or come say 'hi' on Twitter @MauraYzmore

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Acknowledgements

`A Murmuration is Seen Above the City’ and `Ghosting for Beginners’ by Anna Saunders both appear in her pamphlet Ghosting for Beginners (Indigo Dreams, 2018)

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ISSUE #10 COMING JUNE 1st 2018

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Riggwelter #9  

Welcome to the ninth issue! Riggwelter keeps rolling on. This issue contains poetry, short fiction, visual art and experimental media by: Ji...

Riggwelter #9  

Welcome to the ninth issue! Riggwelter keeps rolling on. This issue contains poetry, short fiction, visual art and experimental media by: Ji...

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