WHAT’S INSIDE? Leftovers Pauline Masurel Koala Andrew Terhune Sterile Promontory Jonathan Taylor Autumn in Florence Dee Sunshine July John Challis Halfway Poems W. F. Roby Gaul and wormwood Hannah Walker Horse Sam Peczek Cavity Kaddy Benyon Pisces Jen Campbell The Fog Simon Hood Skinplcity/Skinplex Jane Roberts Sometimes K L Gillespie Donkey/Sheep/Goat Tantra Bensko Symphony Sarah Chapman Three Years Neddal W Ayad
When my ex moved out he left behind all manner of strange ingredients. I lived for weeks on casseroles of cast offs, fashioned tasty stir frys from odd sports socks and well-used squash balls. I diced his broadband connection and boiled it up with a Swiss Army knife. I peeled the leaves out of a 1985 diary and toasted them lightly, except for the last page which contained phone numbers for all his old girlfriends. That one I decided to flambée. His DVD of The Wicker Man went in the liquidiser, together with a stray SIM card. Then I folded in the papier-mâché pulp of his school reports, porn mags and several books of cheque stubs. The fricassée I made from his matchbox model of a Ferrari Testarossa was served with a garnish of small change and washed down with fermented Airfix glue. For almost a week I dined exclusively on the photographic evidence of every trip abroad that we ever took together. Each of these meals was generously seasoned with my own bile. When all shelves and cupboards were clear of any trace of him, I swept beneath the kitchen table. There I found a dusty chunk of his heart that I’d carved off years ago and discarded. I ate it raw.
I would take you –
tiny fierce creature – shrink you down to a smaller size
and keep you in my pocket,
if I could.
But you wouldn’t have that,
And in the cadence of rebellion,
I see you smiling, dancing
I’ll come down to you
needing me less and less.
if you let us teach each other:
I’m just a child myself, seeing you see everything for the first time.
this is new.
I only know the beginning of heartbreak.
Sterile Promontory, July 1982
Ankle-deep in New Brighton beach, yellow kagools greyed by drizzle, ears shrill-sopranoed by the coloratura westerly, reminded – as if we needed reminding, coming from where we came from – that childhood is not one long summer, but one long preparation for something colder, greyer, drizzlier, sinking into a mini-spit of squelchy sand, corrugated, cobbled, by northern waves, we worry round and round hundreds of white crabs – in limp lieu of Blackpool’s arcade games, or Southport’s
spiky grass wars – until their legs fall off, trying and failing to reanimate them with driftwood, but this beach is the opposite of a crustacean Revelations, as salt puddle graves suck back their dead,
whilst my crabby father keeps hearing (in his head) the Last Trump, which is the station tannoy announcing the Last Train. He’s been as worried as the crabs about the train back since we got the train here, look-look-looking at his watch over and over and over,
in case we get too engrossed with crab corpses, and miss the train, miss home, miss everything.
We’re here at the end
of a fourteen-day rover ticket: fourteen days out, but we’ve run out of Blackpools, Southports, Holyheads, even Morecambes, and are reduced to this, a northern charlatan for something better we’ve never seen, which looks older than the older original – Martin Parr’s Last Resort.
But looking through his photos, I remember none of it: not the ice-cream drizzled faces, nor the fish-and-chip melée, nor the concrete sand-castles. All else is unremembered,
and for me, New Brighton has shrunk to this crabby promontory of eroding sand-mud memory,
surrounded by incoming tides and the miniature, eddying dead.
Autumn In Florence
She wears her hair like a halo, a James Joyce madonna, her Irish eyes spitting fire. Sat opposite is her nemesis, a perverse shadow-form of the self made manifest, tempting in her darkness, in her reading of the runes from chalk scrawls on the wall.
We are sitting in our grape garden: a walled backyard, a trellis overhead, heavy with intoxicating, bulbous black fruit; and I am reminded momentarily of Seamus Heaney, his fingers dripping with summerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s blood, but more, I think of Hughes, his Crow mocking us, in our tenuous paradise.
In the bar, wrinkled, walnut-brown men play cards, the smell of cigars and liqueurs float through to this backyard, carried on the back of their sing-song, liquid voices; a sallow contentment settles, even upon us, even within our discontented Northern bellies.
In the still, hot air thunderclouds gather. The dark one is mesmerised: an electrified Durga, she stares into me with her dark eyes, strokes her fake satin, static skirt;
shimmering with small crimson flowers, it rides up her legs. She giggles, as if at a private joke...
And my head dissolves in black, pubic curls of smoke. I can think of nothing, except of lying expired, between these too-revealed, summer-browned legs. The blonde one glares, like she can read my mind... and she can! She knows me inside out: I am transparent stuff to her good catholic mind. I am a nest of vipers, a perfidious prod, a slack-knickered whore laid out on the altar of some abominable pagan god. She stabs her chest four times: north, south, east and west; she implores the holy virgin to rescue her from all temptation. Meantime, the sun burns mercilessly down, even through this canopy, and black birds with black beaks tear viciously at the vine, raining down upon the three of us, black grapes from a black heaven.
In Plaza Santa Spirito I strip off my sweat stained clothes and dunk myself, half-naked, in the lukewarm water of the fountain. The sacred spirit doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t enter me, but nor do I enter her. I am restrained, if not exactly washed clean of all my dark desires.
I’m in the moment, on a page
sniffing lacquer, greasy fingers
dishwasher steam and guitar solos.
Ash flicked carpets pool cue lungs,
all granny red floors and butterfly stalls. It’s the eve of the
smoking ban and
I don’t even smoke, but here we are
puffing away like
pigeons on factory roofs. We’re all Godard, Van Sant, Laurence of Arabia,
swinging left with hooks and breath like Braille.
We’re shooting eight balls with army cadets. One a mechanic,
the other a guard,
both underage drinkers, a female, an a male.
They’re licking air like
sugar, and sucking fag ends
like tomorrows come an gone.
Kissing the tips of their fingers with hands in air shouting, “I am ready,”
“I’m ready for war.” But it’s time past closing
and they keep on serving,
determined not to let the light
in undisturbed by what it sees come morning.
We pile out come two,
ready for water and bed.
But thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a place inside me, back in that pub.
Swallowing knives and nails with my arm around them, wishing soldiers,
goodnight and god-bless.
W. F. ROBY
My roommate tells me remember, evil thoughts are free and free thoughts are evil. His drug is methamphetamine, he says it turns the clock back so he can pretend today is already yesterday. He knows timeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s game, knows her stutter, knows how her neck smells up close. The ceiling is a door, an alley, a garden. If I stretch hard I can touch it with my toes.
No more etcetera, only ephemera -- or glossy catalogs locked to brims with weighty sweater-vests to hide the donut-shape. And street vendors whose placards keep others from knowing the name of your shrink. Here: take blue and roll it into snakes and O-shapes between your palms until the moons of your fingernails wear, mine are bitten raw to rims and tire. Every time I bite a nail the lines line up by name at the alphabetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s beggings. They want to be the digits others make their snores by. Meanwhile, inside a board of plank ash pulled as gently from its cord as you would whisk a new egg from a nest -- three white wriggling worms sit bright as a recent crime and sting the eye. Just below a molding siltstone, stuck moss-wise to a pebble -- the gristly nest of a subterranean spider.
A photo’s flash burns your eyes on the outside first and you pose real pretty. The best poem is the one that runs away comes back with a suitcase full of your own words like trained birds doing the nest-thing; all of your artifacts -- human hair, luggage tags -- in heaven you get them back wrapped in butcher’s paper and thyme leaves. Behind my typewriter, the wall bounces in its frame singing the best poem when humans won’t be around to sing it -- the wreckage, the tilt -- a slow cooked poem, a neat thing to rumple, to swap under the bed sheets, a trick to tighten sheets so you cannot get from the bed, she said and my eyes will be red from reading it.
A social worker sits sits tight-ankled in the corner darning something. In her eyes, you can see -- the younger sister’s role, the one she set herself – to wear what limp fabrics’ worth of washings were worn by her older sister, once when the prints were pretty. As trees become lumber which becomes a house’s frame and then a doghouse, then firewood, and shallow breath of ash and smoke. As pearls used to call themselves “grains” or nothing at all, and now line the left sleeve of a grandmother’s robe. Or like her raincoat, a faded red, draws thin as lips between the belting breaths of liquors, or as the clouds lick around a warming sun, or brittle bone skips on an x-ray, so will the sun tonight attempt a gentle set.
Gaul and wormwood
Gritty gaul and nictotine were what kept my grandmother from hanging herself with her wedding dress,
she watched the rocking chair seethe itself to sloth with thousands of wood worm,
she stopped cutting off her split ends made a market for herself in bitterness and took to taking lemon in her tea.
Every time we drive past the field mother says something about the horse. It’s not
a very good field; small, on a slope, swallowed up in thistles. No space to do much more than watch the cars go by. Mother says the horse is starving, skeletal, ne-
glected. She talks about phoning the RSPCA. Someone else beats her to it; a week later, the horse is no more.
Back home, mother notices that my sister doesn’t feed her fish and so talks about
how you really should feed them, probably every day. When my sister is out moth-
er sneaks into her room to tip some food into their tank. The fish wait to die when everyone else is away from the house and I have to extract them using a net, taking
care not to look at their ever-open eyes, and deposit them in a hole in the garden. My sister thinks it’s wrong to flush them. Not that she’d know if I did, or didn’t.
Not long after the horse disappears, we find ourselves driving past the empty field once more. Today there is a new horse. Mother is not pleased; she talks about this horse now instead. Every time she talks about the horse and every time I say nothing.
Sometimes we drive past the field, mother and I. Sometimes there is a horse. Sometimes the field is empty. Mother drives very slowly whenever a horse is in residence, drinking in every detail. The horse is a living car wreck, a child abuse
advert you can toss apples at. At some point I head south, to a city, leaving mother in the house, in the town, with the fields and the sheep and the horses.
Time shuffles by. In the Spring Mother tells me about the dog and I come back
home. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hold her close because of all the misplaced fur that I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to misplace itself onto my new shirt. When the parents remove the kennel we discov-
er that there is a missing paving slab underneath, a patch of dirt suddenly exposed. Whilst father and mother take the bits of kennel away I look for something to cover the square, settle for an empty pot.
Later there is talk of a composter, but nothing ever comes of it.
Gullivered on a childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sunken bed the crooks of my arms fixed by my sonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chortling knees, his sister rears inky fingers and lolly sticks to extract crumbling, impacted treasures.
I wonder if Atlantis might harbour this wreck as I scan a curled edge of map tacked above my tethered head already filled with make-shift instruments cross bones, fantasies of leaving.
The heavy-nappied nurse mocks a captive without escape, kneads dry, unhappy breasts, growls dissatisfied, lands a flat-palmed slap on the plundered cave of his making.
At her command, he perches on my chest, a golden-haired Silver, my face wedged in pudgy digits.
She fists my fringe and I am forced to swallow a bitter swill of Listerine.
Upon this plank I am pinned, a giant marooned in a sweet, tiny world. If it wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t for the drill and scrape of them, I could slip away toward a watery muse who aches for wisdom.
Meri holds tea parties on the bottom of her parents’ swimming pool. She puts weights in the china and sticks magnets to the table to make sure everything sinks.
She’s trained her eyes to adjust to the chlorine, pouring water from a
teapot, into water, into a cup and passes the heavy drinks round to each side of the square. There are not many people with her today, but she doesn’t mind. She blows bubbles for them. She has been known to tie her legs together with string.
She wants a diving bell for her fourteenth birthday and has found a
website that does them in a variety of different colours. She wants hers to be blue, so that she’ll be able to walk across the mosaic floor without the water noticing.
She wears white to the parties she holds because she likes the way that
the long gowns stretch out behind her and, when she eventually comes up for air, she likes to think she is a wave breaking.
If she lets her body feel as though it no longer belongs to her, Meri can
hold her breath for four minutes. At the end of the day, when she has been in the water so long that her skin shrivels, she examines her arms for cross-hatching and makes believe they’re scales.
Nobody knew who he was. Sometime over the last year he had become a part of the group. Nobody knew how he had managed to infiltrate us. Each assumed that someone else had brought him into the circle. Individual ignorance bred collective acceptance. His gradual integration was aided by his bland appearance. Beyond a pallid complexion and a slightly beaky nose, he was unremarkable. His features were even and strangely malleable. When speaking to others, his face would disconcertingly mimic theirs. Not only in tic and in gesture, but seemingly also in structure. He had a chameleon face. A spy’s face.
We used to meet in the upstairs room of The Salutation. The sort of at-
mospheric, vaguely Masonic space which could only be part of a Sam Smith’s pub – all wood panelling and pre-ban wisps of smoke. He used to enter the room as he had entered the group, unannounced and unnoticed. Arrival by osmosis. I think I was the only one ever to see him come in, and I only ever managed this once. On that occasion, he opened the door and was shocked by what he saw; my eyes looking evenly back at his. His disappointment was palpable, as if he had failed a secret mission. He glowered, lowered his eyes and silently apologised into the room. He never let me catch him again. Nobody ever once saw him leave.
He rarely spoke, and never at great length. When he did, his voice came
out in halting, rasping, gaseous bursts. An extraordinary sound; an eighty-aday consumptive gargling cat litter. Claire used to say that he was embarrassed
by his voice so used it sparingly. I didn’t agree. I think that, for him, time spent talking was time wasted. Time better spent listening, impersonating, assimilating.
When he wasn’t present, we would talk guardedly about him. He be-
came universally known as The Fog. It seemed to fit his pale, shifting features and his ability to arrive and leave undetected. This ability caught us out once. Once was enough. On that fateful evening, we had been discussing him at great length. A discourse, at first tentative, becoming more raucous, on how he had become accepted into the group, where he came from, what his intentions were. All questions we were unable to ask him directly due to the uncanny hold he held over us. Claire was leading the discussion in a measured yet ardent fashion. She was talking in that distinctive way of hers, her chin resting on an outstretched forefinger, elegant and assured. She was holding court about how uneasy he made her feel, how she would do anything to force him out of the group. Suddenly, she stopped dead, all colour drained from her face. We followed her terrified gaze to see that he was sitting directly opposite her, white face resting on outstretched finger in a ghostly parody, limpid eyes mirroring hers. He didn’t speak but let out a short, ghastly, betrayed hiss. Nobody had any idea how long he had been sitting there, nor had anyone seen him arrive. Rattled and coated in cold sweat, I swiftly changed the subject. A semblance of normality gradually returned. At some point over the following half hour, he slipped away unseen. We didn’t see him for two months.
The group continued its weekly meets. As each week went by, we began
to think we would never see him again, his disappearance as unexplained as his arrival. We had rallied as a unit over time, laughing off and explaining away
his whole existence. Until, abruptly, he was back with us. Naturally, nobody had seen him enter, but we were aware as a group from early on in the meeting that he was amongst us. His reintegration went as well as it could have done, he listened attentively and spoke lightly as usual and betrayed no sign of any festering resentment. The meeting passed quickly, in a good spirit. We were about to draw matters to a close when a collective gasp belied our sudden realisation that his chair was empty. Claireâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s too.
Like a hard green tomato, my mother puts me out in the sun to gain some colour, loosen up my flesh; she wants to ripen me into adulthood, into social acceptability. My skin is the colour of a lily. In two words: highly unfashionable. “No boy’s ever going to take a shine to you. Not when you look like that”, she said.
She’s a beautician, not a proper one. Would it make a difference if she were? She could charge more, I suppose. I get her services for free.
Her favourite activity is basking in the warmth of the sun – sometimes all day in the summer; cancels clients to soak up the rays on the sun lounger in the back yard. It’s hardly Barbados, but I don’t think she opens her eyes to see the rusty dustbins, and the general detritus of family and work life - mainly plastic beauty bottles, now corroded by exposure to the elements - strewn about the yard. Until it pisses down and she has to come back indoors. She’s like a witch though, a potion for everything - even sun-kissed skin when the weather turns bad.
The bath water washes it out - the fake tan. My mother dyes me. To make me the perfect tone. Her perfect tone. She’s got a fabulous colour on her, my mother. Rich. Unctuous. Glowing. They’re all words she uses herself. I’m a bit pasty
by comparison. Spotty. Patchy. Uneven. Those are the words she uses for me. I let her down in public. She hasn’t ever said that to me. She doesn’t need to. I can see it in her eyes, feel it in the way she lets go of my hand. But even she can’t take the credit for all of her “best bits”, as she calls them. Makes her hair blonde when it’s naturally dark and conversely makes her skin darker than is natural. She’s 25 percent bottle blonde and 75 percent bottle brown: No.19 “Golden Honey” up top and St Tropez everywhere else. She’s as much of an enigma to me as I am to her.
One day I just got sick of pretending, sick of being a mummy’s girl, and I locked myself in the bathroom, submerged my body in water for four buttock-numbing hours until I knew it was safe to get out. So I’m back to being me now. My natural colour is nothing to my mother. I am invisible to her. I don’t register on her colour spectrum of skin tone. In the same way her cancer is invisible to her and to everyone else.
K. L. GILLESPIE
Sometimes I lose my mind.
Last week I left it on the bus and my husband had to go to the depot and pick it up for me. He didn’t want to, said he was too embarrassed but he was hungry and I couldn’t remember how to cook dinner without it.
Luckily someone had handed it in and he brought it home in a brown paper bag. I was waiting for him in the hall, eager to be reunited with myself and I think, or at least I think I think that’s where it started to go wrong.
I was sure I noticed some teeth marks in it, nothing obvious, just a little nibble here and there but Harry, that’s the husband, had slotted it back in place before I had a chance to have a closer look.
It wasn’t until the next day when I set off for work and couldn’t remember where the bus stop was that I started to wonder.
Then I noticed other things had gone missing too - my age, the children’s names, my best friends phone number and I couldn’t remember anything at all from 1993.
It was a bit strange for a few days but I was just beginning to get used to it when I noticed a mouse on the bus watching me and it had a familiar look in its eye, as if it was remembering back to a particularly good holiday it once had twelve years ago.
I saw the same mouse in the canteen at lunchtime and again on the way home.
Then it hit me.
When no-one was looking I ate the mouse and without thinking I phoned my best friend to tell her all about it.
That’s it for now, a bit frozen around the edges, but the donkey is waiting, waiting for the spring. We feel it thawing, on the edges of our land, hear the strangled honking cackle of its voice as it pushes itself into the dreams of the women, pushing us over sideways. We sit on stools and milk our dreams and tell the oddest frenzied nightmares of gigantic donkey parts. The bird nest of a home we all live in is so roundly pleasant, we let the dreams go, and wait for spring ourselves before looking for the donkey again. It gets too feisty when we pet its mother, and it bites its mother, and we don’t encourage that these days. We let the frost take care of its own. The hooting and hollering squallering is so far away now, we let the donkey out of our stream of dreams. Until it comes back, and we all dream it the same night. We make patterns in the cloth we paint together more and more like donkeys each time, the pieces of the patter come together towards the center of the big cloth we want to hang from our ceiling. We speak words that link together, and sound more like the distant longing of that beast as we intertwine. But what of the men? I’m the only woman who tells my man about the dreams. So the women’s eyes glitter like obsidian when they look at me, and as our patter comes together towards the center as we paint the cloth, as the frost thaws, as the donkey dreams intensifies, the sounds on the edges of the land growing louder and more intense, they flash. They flash their false eyes at me. They slide their hands along their hips. The approach more closely. They bray and buck. The cloth comes together at the center, and we all
sigh, we all soften, we all understand our men. We say nothing. Except for me. And no one knows it, but you.
It’s never time to go down to the well, to go into the well, but today, and today, and today is the time. So we go, at last, and take the goat milk we have squeezed from the tethered teets into the well, and dangle it to keep it cold. The little round stone edged spring is getting too full to keep the all the daily milk as the goat grows large. The largeness of the goat becomes a shape we find we love, as if someone, somewhere, is taking care of us. As if we can now relax. We can now go down into the well and see the sparkling water take all the hurry away from life, and we can feel it dance into our skulls, and merriment makes sense again. As we go into the well, we find the skull makes drawings of its own, as we dangle milk, but also feet, and also hair, and also bossoms, and also the rest of our lives. The skull’s drawings are lazy, melodic, something we wish we could have seen all these years, but only now is it time to look. If we had looked before, we would have told someone. Keeping secrets is not our wish. It is our command. But we tell them to each other. We feel we are riding on a boat in the well. That is our secret. We aren’t. We know we aren’t. But the parts of us that feel the most, that tell the secrets to each other in the darkest featherings of daylight onto the dusk, feel the movement forward, the passing of the scenery, the waves slightly washing over our delights, the wandering fishes and the desire to slide forward into some adventure we don’t understand as yet, until we get there. But we are simply where we are. The goat nudges us from above. The hairs on its chin muffle its muttering, and its skin is moist, laughable, and
itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s big. Bigger all the time, almost shapeless, casting a shadow of something being alright, always, no matter where we go, or if we go only in reflections of the water on the well, into the shadow of its body, bigger, wider, matronly, and smiling with its tummy.
The sheep run ridiculously fast to keep up with the donkeys. Always. That is their lives, and they know it, and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care. If you feed them out of buckets, they will push their heads into the buckets, and find them stuck, and they will then be white bodies with white bucket heads angled up into the air, moving slowly, roundly, under the moonlight. If you pet them on the head, they will back up, back, back, back, tuck their heads underneath, and run at you. They will knock you over, stand there, nuzzle you, and wait.
Until the donkeys
walk away, and the sheep go running. They stand underneath them once there is stillness. And they chew. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all there is. If there was anything more, I would tell you.
Two suits are standing on the platform at Liverpool Street Station.
4 minutes till the next train. Guy suit edges towards girl suit, whose toes are tipping over the platform edge.
He carries a copy of the Metro with him. They turn into each other, he opens the newspaper in her face, wrapping different pages of the paper round her neck.
He rubs the paper onto her face and her neck, ‘F’s’ and ‘D’s’ all over her like bruises.
With that, he gets on the train. I watch her pining face as she fades further and further from the platform.
NEDDAL W. AYAD
I’ll cut off your ring finger in the twilight under white lights that’s what I remember and she’s everywhere and I’m nowhere near the sea but I found a pigeon’s wing Last time I was on this bus, the #9 going north. There was a girl with red hair. She was tall and thin and had freckles on her chest. Her toenails were painted silver. Her hair was cut short.
Twenty years? Grubby and worn looking. Yellowing around the windows. Dreary carpeting on the walls and ceiling. Red faded curtains, dull blue seats. I hope your heart is not heavy and that when his hand is on your chest you mean what you say. I’ll bring you roses and lilies and cover you w/red veined leaves and lay you under a willow tree.
All those nights on trains w/you whispering in my ear and her cold hand on my shoulder. I thought about her scarred lips and your sacred lips. Bloody willows and black water. Hold your breath while I feel out your collar bones and open your rib cage.
She stumbles in at four a.m. Trips over her boots Tells you to fuck off and falls into bed. I’m in an alley watching her dance in circles w/a orange flower in her hair. 4:30-odd p.m. On the 501, heading to Queen + Bathrust. Long brown hair, brown eyes, red coast. She’s off at Augusta.
You pull your dress over your head. Hell is your pretty face.
The wedding ring, yes? I could ride south and find me a blue-eyed girl w/black hair. Young, 18-23, when they’re too self-possessed to ask questions or to really care.
Starlings are thick here. And there are two rusty razor blades on the ground.
I know his voice always made you cry. I couldn’t beat that. I’d stumble and fuck up and always drop that last note.
She brought me Gypsy music. I brought her empty lots. And left her to the stick thin wolves in summer dresses.
She is pretty, but not beautiful and she knows this. She said c’mon babe, liquor me up.
and I’ll crawl right under your thumb. and I’ll dye my black hair blonde for you. and I’ll fuck you right here on the floor. and we can smoke a pack of reds.
It’s difficult when people see themselves in everything you do This city brings it out. There is no poetry in this I can walk away
OUR LOVELY CONTRIBUTORS
Neddal W. Ayad is not married. He can be reached at knifeplease AT gmail DOT com
Tantra Bensko is offering a class in Experimental Fiction Writing through UCLA Extension Writers Program. See her website resource for experimental writing. She is visited by goats, sheep, and donkeys in rural Alabama, and lives in honesty with her fiancé and her elderly father whose bed is a boat. Her short story collection, Lucid Windows is forthcoming. Very forthcoming. Kaddy Benyon used to write scripts for Hollyoaks and Grange Hill. She is now studying for an MA in Creative Writing. Cavity is her first published poem.
Jen Campbell is 23. Her work has appeared in /The Times, Flash/ and she came second in the Arts Council’s short fiction competition miniWORDS at the end of last year. Jen is currently writing her first short story collection, /The Aeroplane Girl and Other Stories/, the writing of which she talks about monthly on BBC Radio Scotland.
John Challis is a poet, musician and rain maker. He’s one half of theatre construction team ‘Bubble and Squeek’, and a fellow ‘Trashed Organ’ cohort. Catch the surreal ramblings here: http://keyholesurgery.blogspot.com Sarah Chapman has been 21 years on this earth and has no stamina when writing prose. This frustration results in confused spurts of short short fiction and antipoems. She thinks she might have an obsession with writing about the contrast of the starkness of real life and the possible magic and surrealism that might be out there. It could be why she is so lost right now.
K L Gillespie writes about masturbating surrealists, blind fantacists, sadomasochists - life, death, sex - lost minds, lost love and lost ways... She is a regular contributor to the Erotic Review and TANK magazine and her eagerly anticipated anthology, ‘Panopticon’ is out later this year.
Simon Hood is cycling round the UK following a poor football team. He is writing as he pedals and has the audacity to call it work. http://www.bicyclekicks.co.uk
Pauline Masurel writes short (and even shorter) fictions. These have been published online, in books, performed live and broadcast on radio. She is a regular reviewer for The Short Review website and founder of the Company of Writers writing group in Bath. She is also a member of the Bristol-based Heads & Tales storytelling collective and has recently been commissioned by them to write an audio story set in South Gloucestershire. More about her tiny tales and other writing can
be found on her website at unfurling.net. Pauline Masurel wishes to make it clear that she is happily married and has no cannibalistic tendencies. Sam Peczek is biding her sweet, sweet time.
Jane Roberts has been published in a variety magazines and two anthologies “Subtext” (2009) and “100 Stories for Haiti” (2010). She likes pseudonyms and dunking dark chocolate digestives in herbal tea. W.F. Roby is a poet and playwright from Texas. His poems have appeared at Stirring, Blue Fifth Review, anti-, Karawane, and this magazine when it was known as blue-eyed boy bait He is writer-in-residence at Teacup teacup.mutatingthesignature.org and wishes you a wonderful afternoon.
Dee Sunshine is the author of four poetry collections - The Bad Seed (Stride, 1998), Dropping Ecstasy With The Angels (Bluechrome, 2004), Visions Of The Drowning Man (Obooko e-book, 2009) and Red Dreams And Razorblades: Collected Poems 1980-2005 (Obooko e-book, 2009) - and one novel, Stealing Heaven From The Lips Of God (Bluechrome, 2004). He edited the charity poetry anthology, The Book Of Hopes And Dreams (Bluechrome, 2006). He also edits The AA Independent Press Guide, a free online directory of magazines and publishers, hosted on his website at www.thunderburst.co.uk, alongside a host of useful writers’ resources, as well as a port-folio of his art and a selection of his poetry. Jonathan Taylor is the author of the memoir Take Me Home: Parkinson’s, My Father, Myself (Granta Books, 2007), and is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at De Montfort University.
Andrew Terhune is the author of the chapbooks Helen Mirren Picks Out My Clothes (2009, the greying ghost press) and Handle This Bludgeon and Run Me Through (2008, Tilt Press). He lives in Savannah, GA with his wife and two daughters.
Hannah Walker is a poet and projects co-ordinator. She was recently awarded a place on Escalator, a professional development scheme funded by Arts Council East, through which she is writing her first solo spoken word show, ‘This is just to say’. A show investigating apology and its relationship to ego and cultural identity. Her work has been likened to a poetry party in your cerebral cortex. She is working towards a collection called ‘You interrupt my brain sweetheart’. She is based in Norwich and she likes it.
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We would like to thank all of the lovely writers who have kindly permitted us to publish their words. All work is copyright of the author who spawned it.
Cover image courtesay of the boy from meridimus.com Other images came from Sam
Published online in April 2010 ISSN 2044-0111