Issue 01 Dec 2013
Word Bohemia Theme:Winter
STAFF Editors Sharon Woodcock Michelle Dunbar email@example.com IIllustrator Amanda Fullwood www.amandafullwood.wordpress.com
Copyright This publication should not be reproduced (in whole or in part) without the written consent of Word Bohemia or the authors. The written pieces remain the copyright of the individual authors. All rights reserved.
All illustrations are copyright of ÂŠ 2013 Amanda Fullwood. The use of any illustration from this publication is prohibited, unless prior written permission is obtained from the artist. All rights reserved.
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CONTRIBUTORS Elwira Danak Michele Brenton Kate Garrett Jerard Fagerberg Helen Braid Kathleen Jones Elizabeth Stott David Coldwell Debbie Warren Green Maureen Curran Sam Andruski Annie Carter Richard Kefford Roisin Peddle Ursula Jane Brown Stuart Snelson Simon Morgan Maggie Mackay Stephanie Aroska Loren Kleinman
Editorial If you thought winter was only about glitter, fairies and snowflakes then think again, for contained within these pages lurks a murderer, ghostly happenings and themes of a far more sinister nature. Word Bohemia was borne from a love of writing, and the journal from desire to create something special, and unique. We would like to offer our thanks to the authors and poets who have submitted work to us, for trusting their new and unpublished work to a relatively unknown publisher, and to Amanda, whose illustrations capture the essence of the stories and poems within. Showcasing a remarkable array of author talent, Word Bohemia invites you, the reader, to settle yourself in front of the fire (or radiator), hot chocolate or tipple at the ready, and enjoy our foray into digital publication. A happy winter to all, from the editors of Word Bohemia.
For more information on the artist, Amanda Fullwood, who created our stunning illustrations, here is her biography: Amanda Fullwood is a painter/artist who first trained as a theatre designer fifteen years ago. Since then she has painted murals and canvases, produced illustrations as well as scenic design and dabbled in writing. She is currently studying for a Masters degree in Design for Film, Television and Events specialising in production design and concept art for film and television. www.amandafullwood.wordpress.com www.spiralmoonfantasy.com www.facebook.com/spiralmoonart www.facebook.com/darkforgenarratives
The typefaces we have used for this publication were LiSong Pro, Parisish and Parisienne. Without them, all these words wouldn't have been possible.
Word Bohemia Quarterly Journal Issue No.1 December 2013 Theme: Winter
CONTENTS 08 Elwira Danak Hansel & Gretel 1986 10 Michele Brenton The Tree 12 Kate Garrett The Turn of the Seasons 14 Jerard Fagerberg Being Eleven & Immortal 16 Helen Braid The Ship Inn 18 Elwira Danak Halley VI Base Station, Antartic 20 Kathleen Jones The Rainmaker's Wife 22 Elizabeth Stott Burning the Snowmen 24 David Coldwell Poles Apart 26 Kate Garrett Remember, Remember 28 Debbie Warren Green Christmas Fairy 31 Maureen Curran Slow Progress 32 Elizabeth Stott Before the Snow Comes 34 Helen Braid Late Seas 36 Sam Andruski Winter Sonnet
CONTENTS 38 Annie Carter Living Sculptures 40 Snow Richard Kefford 44 Kathleen Jones The Shape of the Wind 46 Roisin Peddle Mr Winters' Appointment 49 Kathleen Jones How to Roast Chestnuts 50 Debbie Warren Green Winter 52 Helen Braid The Castle 54 Ursula Jane Brown Fragile 56 Stuart Snelson Snow Globe Shadows 59 Simon Morgan Winter 60 Maggie Mackay Crystal Strokes 62 Roisin Peddle The Globe 65 Loren Kleinman Winter Song 66 Stephanie Arsoska Snow Angel 68 Elizabeth Stott Winter Rose
Hansel & Gretel 1986 by Elwira Danak First snow tastes of that first kiss a slushy promise planted on her lips
one winter morning. A child's play, snow frogs sprawling and towing self-made sleighs.
Blue lipped with frozen cherry cheeks, a boy tossed an icy comet and she, flat breasted, coy,
stopped its course with her nose. One solid tear later, they shook hands, he apologised. They disappeared
behind shrubs in that local park, and snow stifled some scraggy crow's lecture about harm
not intended. Betrayed by sloppy sleet she stumbled home. Lost mittens and a hat; never to be found.
Silver snow turned into slush and mud. She left a trail behind. Crimson petals. Or was it blood?
The Tree by Michele Brenton Ugly stumps of splintered agony the once tall shivering glorious tree lies in clumps of needled green as I recall our history. How the wind howled through those branches! casting shadows on my walls as I muttered nursery rhymes of rockabyes and babies' falls. Grasping dry boughs reaching for me, scratched my window panes at night, as I sat awake and shuddering praying for the morning light. Now the tree is old and dead, I am old now too and still its decadent and rotting wood frosts me with a dreadful chill. I loathe that tree and all its cones its needles and its twigs and bark and though it's felled I'm still compelled to fear its scratching in the dark. I hear the wind blow through the tree and know it waits out there for me.
The Turn of the Seasons by Kate Garrett
Everything was too grey. We could see that much; even the snow wasn't white enough. But his eyes were two aquamarine crystals from a fortune teller's table. He'd been in the snow too long: when we found him, his hands had swollen to red, frostbitten stumps. Was he simply too tired of layers and fires, and the smell of woodsmoke on ice? Was he bored with slush and steel skies? We were. There was nothing left for us at the beginning of dreary February but finding his cold caramel skin, his fair hair like hay bales, reminding us of the first August harvest. A bright sacrifice to the New Year, he'd dropped down to the mottled ground, wearing half a suit, shirt undone. Purification through freezing, cloth soaked into the mud where his body heat melded him to the turn of the seasons. We lifted him up like a saviour. He made us feel. He was our young sun god at Candlemas, his death heralding the spring we thought might never come. Weeks later, after they tamped down the dirt on his grave, the sun came out. The thaw had started; the white gave way to forgotten colours and the sky brightened to blue. The first snowdrops sprouted near the plain wooden cross: gentle, living shoots of green.
Being Eleven and Immortal by Jerard Fagerberg Every winter, the farmers flooded the bogs. None of us knew why, but when the early-morning frost made the water a mirror thick enough to skate on, the mystery was lost. Dad told the story of a boy who'd slid cross the Charles in a Styrofoam cooler back when he was a kid. There was a groan, and the ice opened like jaws full of black water. A fisherman found his mittens that spring. But we took caution as dare. With every press of a skate, we carved teeth and baited the bog to swallow us down to where the cranberries lay dormant and purple, and make fables of us. But our challenge was met with no more than scraped palms and knee bruises.
The Ship Inn by Helen Braid ...
Painted white and opposite the harbour wall, sits The Ship Inn. The sort of place you've been before, heaving in summer and - of an evening - packed out the door. Where tables remain first come first serve. Where you'll always find fish on the menu. Where lanterns hang from beams and stone walls are a gallery of memorabilia to the sea. Where holiday makers drink wine and talk of relocating to the beach. Where wood is scored and floorboards worn under feet. Where each Friday night, live music carries the length of the street. Where out of season mostly locals frequent, from the houses on the cliff and the cottages to rent. Where coat stands drip with jackets caught in hail. Where - those who know it - say that Jack comes with the rain...
Shanty They say he wakes, batters narrow painted door and rattles window pane, whips up water, raises chill and blows in draught again. They say he walks, dripping wet cross wooden boards, bound for bar and pint of ale, companion long forgot. Boxed and slated freshest catch for kitchen hand to gut. And murmurs out of sight, trick of light to catch the eye, big and bulky shadow sat in window bay to right. Choppy water, lost at sea, story handed down the years, woollen bunnet, leather boots and cod and chips for tea. Jack they say can listen in to every word you speak. Can taste the fish, mushy peas and salted chips, glass of wine or thirsty pint to wet your wind cracked lips. Warmest welcome, fire on, cosy nook from wild storm, laminated menu propped on varnished table top. Sudden hush and sudden still, Under crowd and over din, hold your breath and wait for sense of sea or something else... Jack they say can tap a foot and whistle shanty verse.
Halley VI Base Station, Antarctic by Elwira Danak It has been two months in a pitch dark base house where blackness sips through, that tar gets everywhere: clothes, notes and logical thoughts. Crude home, ancient etching, carved into a rock. On floating sea shelf, a team of 13 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; one woman, the rest men, battle their way towards an arctic tongue to measure the marring of our future. They dig in dark, solid blocks of recycled air between them. Done, another battle won; they celebrate with tinkling metal mugs that brand their palms. Silver sheen of a laptop screen guides them to their families. They gather like moths around flickering lights, saving crumbs of births, deaths and burst pipes for later - when brutal winter strangles their minds and gulls cry them to sleep. Look, a scientist (leather-faced glaciologist) space-walks across acres of snow. He stops to marvel at a snowflake. It flutters on the tip of his nose.
The Rainmaker's Wife by Kathleen Jones Naked in the dry hull of our marriage bed, we hold to our separate weather. He is the element of water, I of fire. The old paradox. I am ungentle, sudden, electric, a lightning bolt, a super nova in the darkness of far space. He spends time in the garden measuring precipitation and talking to clouds. Not in favour of ritual dancing or invocations, he prefers dry ice, and crystals of silver iodide and salt. Seeding the sky to make tadpoles of electric rain wriggle across the window pane. I love the rhythm the rain makes on the roof when I wake in the night, and every green thing it brings. But not its cold drench, the shivering misery of the damp, the hiss and suck of the north sea in January. There is something disturbing about the blind surface of deep water, the drag of its tides and currents. I refuse to go down into it like a diver frog-legged, breathing gas. But when he touches my skin, with a cool hand our fatal chemistry could vaporise an ocean. We are each other's counterpoint, both there at the beginning, the light shining on dark water, and in the dark he moves inside me, rowing gently, towards the light.
Burning the Snowmen by Elizabeth Stott When we were children didn't we have lots of snow? Deep drifts in the garden and happy, coal-eyed snowmen. The soot from our fires fell in black, black, flakes but Father Christmas was never, ever, late. He came down the chimney dropping soot in the grate. Oh, what a lot of presents we had then. And the factories go on making them. The soot from their fires falls in black, black, flakes. Oh, what a lot of presents they make. This winter, the North Pole is melting so Father Christmas has gone online instead. We'll still have our presents â&#x20AC;&#x201C; no need to fret! We'll put the snowmen on the fire, set their coal eyes burning.
Poles Apart by David Coldwell You, the North Star or Polaris; always present, pinhole light that inspired generations - anchored without weight, mysteriously staying and resisting the urge to jump free from your moorings. You question infinity and rule over concepts. We share your secret that by some fluke of time and space coupled with the span of a monkey, you are nothing but names. Invented. Me, I work in the shadows out of sight. Barely visible to the naked eye, the South Star or Sigma Octantis to people I'm likely to meet just the once. Sometimes I might try to impress by telling lies or ruining the plot. Mostly I'm ordinary, wearing suits too big and watching the glitter of everyone's life circle around me.
Remember, Remember by Kate Garrett It's a mug, he said, so I should go ahead and use it. It's not a shrine, after all. Spiced merlot steams inside as I blow over the red rim, and six thin scarlet spirals glow on wheat-painted porcelain. The sky explodes, celebrating a revolution we haven't joined. We never open our invitations. My warm breath mingles with the smoke in the air, drinking in the silhouettes forged by bonfire flames. The whistle of a Catherine wheel repeats her name, above paper poppies, specks of crimson in the dark. I imagine blood on my hands, like a robin in the snow. Some people read palms. I read the scars on his knuckles from long before I knew him. He once lit matches just to watch them burn. He had it all to come; in a fast forward you can only see by looking behind â&#x20AC;&#x201C; those last desperate weeks, and the phone call: 'She's gone.' The heat glows through my gloves from this mug bequeathed to me by bad timing. I sip the hot wine, and watch rockets reflect in his eyes. The bangs and pops keep the rhythm for a silent rhyme that propels us towards winter. Remember, remember, every year dies in December. It's a kindness so often forgot.
Christmas Fairy by Debbie Warren Green Maisie loved Christmas. She loved the lights, the tinsel, the glitter, the baubles. But most of all she loved the fairy on top of the Christmas tree. Every year Maisie would wait excitedly while her mother got the box of Christmas decorations down from the attic. On top, wrapped in silver tissue paper, would be the fairy. Maisie would carefully unwrap it, fluff up its squashed ivory gauze skirt, and straighten its crumpled wings. 'I wish I could be a fairy,' Maisie sighed. One year, the school was performing the pantomime Sleeping Beauty and Maisie was cast as the Good Fairy. Maisie was delighted and her mother set to work making the costume. Together they scoured the local charity shops for anything that could be adapted into a fairy costume. For Maisie's mother it was a labour of love, and she wove her love into every stitch until the costume was the most beautiful and beloved costume ever. It fitted Maisie perfectly and as she gazed at herself in the mirror, the love in the costume infused her with an intangible glow. The day of the dress rehearsal arrived, it reached the point where the wicked fairy had cursed the baby princess and Maisie was due on stage. Feeling like she really was flying, Maisie ran on stage, on tiptoes as she had been taught. But before she could say her lines, there was a shout of laughter. She stopped and frowned. Before long all the children were laughing, and even the teachers were stifling sniggers behind their hands. Maisie stared about her in bewilderment. Whatever were they laughing at? 'That's my grandma's old nightie!' shouted one child. 'And that's my grandad's dressing gown!' 'And that's my mum's satin knickers! Ha-ha-ha!' 'And two old wire coat hangers for wings! Ha-ha-ha-ha!' Soon the whole hall was falling about laughing. Maisie was mortified and dissolved into tears.
Luckily her mother was watching in the wings. She rushed on to the stage, wrapped Maisie in her big comforting coat, and took her home. Maisie was inconsolable. Not only was her costume a laughing stock, but it was likely that someone else had already been substituted for her as the Good Fairy. Maisie's mother enveloped her in love, and said, 'Don't worry, darling. You are still a beautiful fairy. Look!' She stood Maisie in front of the mirror. There, reflected, stood a shimmering fairy with gossamer wings and stars in her hair, holding a sparkling silver wand. 'I am a fairy,' breathed Maisie, hardly daring to believe her eyes. 'I'm just like the fairy on the Christmas tree.' Her mother smiled. 'Yes, darling. You will always be my little fairy on top of the Christmas tree.' That year, when Christmas was over, and all the decorations were packed in their box, it was Maisie that was wrapped carefully in silver tissue paper and placed lovingly on top. 'See you next December,' whispered Maisie's mother as she closed the attic hatch.
Slow Progress by Maureen Curran I carve figures of children from the ice all around, create an army. In two rooms I fill draughty silences with fire for company. This winter of ill friends I write, stitch image to image in dancing colour. Radio on low all day, I travel back in time with song to where it is safer. I am a feathered creature scratching my wings on the ice that is holding me captive, or together.
Before the Snow Comes by Elizabeth Stott They say the roads down your way are still passable with care. If you go now you will get home before the snow gets here. Go now before you would need to stay the night; maybe longer if the forecast is right. You'd be in the spare room with me awake next door, wondering if you'll snore, or talk in your sleep. Maybe say her name. You would breakfast at my table like a husband, wishing you were at home. You should call her and say you'll not be late. Go now, before the snow comes.
Late Seas by Helen Braid Your pitch changes, come this time of year, rise and wail and chasing tail and whistle up the beach. Overhead and screech, shades of grey and driven rain and new found height and reach. Of gulls soar and tip and skew the world, dive and call and heady fall in sudden, sodden roar. To chill, collar, teeth and hair to whip, cut in half and sand storm wrath and woollen hood and mitt. How I love the depth and tone and language of your script. Of late sea and salt and darker days, wild ocean, wild horses, wild wicked spray. Roar and call of bitter seas, tear and screech and race the beach, winter wind and tide flung in to shingle, shore and me.
Winter Sonnet by Sam Andruski The city streets, prosaic straights, in frost; How glaciered now, how halted and how held! A behemoth in blasting ice is lost And in the harbour, hawsered down and felled. Each twisting flake, each curling drop of snow Descended slow from greying haze, from plumes Of rolling dark, through beaming church-light low, And re-infused as slate, this form assumes. Beneath these creaking plates that circumvent The heartless and authoritative brick, Under the graces' caps of gentle white, The limestone roars; this changing firmament Has breathed her cue: 'I whisper, young ones, quick! While I still grasp the bell tower, take flight!'
Living Sculptures by Annie Carter Trees like living sculptures, natural works of art Designs crafted an age before, bound up in seeds of unique DNA Preserved through changing seasons, revealing shades of green, boughs of brown A feast for the eyes on this An ordinary day, inhaling oxygen Seeping unseen from leaves and branches here since Generations before as wind moves audibly through Swaying, majestic arms Longing, welcoming those in appreciation of their constant Steadfast presence Watching over streams of visitors Passing beneath their shifting shadows Now winter white descends Transforming landscape, views reborn Icicles hanging, frozen webs, frosty twigs A covering of snow delighting senses Misty air lingers between branches Stillness disturbed only by crunching of ice and snow beneath feet Freezing cold resists the usual visitors An eerie quiet embraces me Like a shroud of mystery Oh the wonder of nature, the salience of seasons Where worlds collide Metamorphosis overnight
Snow by Richard Kefford 'Daddy… daddy… DADDY.’ 'Yes, Gorgeous Daughter, why are you shouting at me?’ 'Cos you were ignoring me, Mummy never ignores me.’ 'I was busy doing something so I didn't hear you.’ 'Mummy always hears me, even when she is doing two things at the same time.’ 'OK, Miss Andry, that's enough of your aggressive feminism, eight is too young for that. How can I help you?’ 'Is it true what my best friend Fiona says?’ 'What does Fiona say?’ 'She says that her daddy says he knows everything. Do you know everything?’ 'I know as much of everything as Fiona's daddy, in fact more because he's a muppet.’ 'What's a muppet?’ 'Never mind, Gorgeous Daughter, what were you going to ask me?’ 'Why is snow white?’
'Well I guess it is because she is tired from looking after seven dwarves.’ 'No silly, I mean why is snow white when rain isn't?’ 'Oh, that's an easy question. The fairies paint each snow flake white on its way down from the sky.’ 'Where do they get the paint from?’ 'Same as we do, from B & Q of course.’ 'I've never seen any fairies when we've been shopping for paint.’ 'That is because B & Q only run their fairy price promise on Thursday mornings and we usually go on Friday evening or Saturday morning.’ 'Oh, OK.’ 'Daddy.’ 'Yes, Gorgeous Daughter.’ 'If each snow flake is painted white by the fairies, why isn't there a lot of white paint left on the garden when the snow melts?’ 'That's a very good question.’ 'When you say that it usually means you don't know the answer.’ 'Of course I know the answer, I told you, your daddy knows everything.’ 'So what's the answer then?’ 'Well, err, it's…' 'You don't know do you. Wait 'till I tell Fiona. She'll tell her muppet daddy.’
'Of course I know the answer, I was just teasing you. Don't tell Fiona that I called her daddy a muppet will you?’’ 'OK. Well, what is it then?’ 'If you stop stamping your feet, I'll tell you. The white paint dissolves into the earth so you don't see it.’ 'What does dissolve mean?’ 'When you have a cup of tea, you put a spoonful of sugar in it don't you?’ 'Yes, so?’ 'The sugar is white, just like snow flakes but when you have finished drinking your tea, you don't see the sugar at the bottom of the cup do you? It is just the same with the white paint.’ 'Oh. OK.’
The Shape of the Wind by Kathleen Jones The wind has no colour but the things it moves, no shape but the gaps: a tree fallen and the rib-cage of a roof picked bare. The wind has no voice but the tuning prongs of chimneys and wires and walls and masts, singing their frequencies - their true notes and under-notes; a howling orchestra of silent things, the whole sky an up-turned bell ringing and ringing in an ocean of air.
Mr Winters' Appointment by Roisin Peddle 'Mr Winters, the doctor will see you now.' The receptionist shuddered as a tall, thin man nodded and walked through the door marked 'surgery'. She pulled her cardigan closer. Doctor Kennedy guided his new patient into his neat consultation room, indicated to a chair and sat behind his desk. 'What can I do for you, Mr Winters?' he asked, reaching for his stethoscope. He felt strange suddenly, weak and worried. He was a good doctor, and he tried to be understanding and patient with all who came to him. But he couldn't wait to get this man out of his surgery. There was something weirdly familiar about him, something unsettling. And yet, if a detective asked him to describe the man sitting opposite him, Dr Kennedy would have struggled. Apart from tall and thin, nothing came to mind. His eyes were grey, his hair too. He could have been a very old thirty-five or a very young seventy. The word was featureless. 'This is the best time of year, don't you think?' Mr Winters gazed over the doctor's shoulders at the window behind. Outside the
November day, short and sunless, was hurtling to its end. Doctor Kennedy hated days like this. 'Well, Christmas is on the way.' 'Christmas is for children and fools,' Mr Winters said. 'I love the dark. I love the cold. I love the death of the year. The skeletons of trees, the end of light. Doctorr Kennedy's stethoscope was suddenly icy, as if it had spent hours in the freezer. 'Do you have a medical issue, Mr Winters?' 'Lots of people with flu out there.' He smiled the eternal grin of a skull. The doctor shivered. 'A lot of people, and they're passing it around everywhere they go. Some of them will die.' Dr Kennedy stood up. 'Mr Winters, this is a busy practice and I can't allow you to waste my time like this.' The patient did not rise. He fixed the doctor with a cold eye. 'Get yourself checked out, Dr Kennedy. There is something there. You feel it. You're tired. A flu might end you.' He rose. 'And you know who I am. I like doctors. I like hospitals. They keep me busy.' He left the room without a backwards glance. The temperature rose. The storage heater, surely? Shaking, light-headed, Dr Kennedy sank back into his chair. His heart drummed, not a steady backbeat, but the crazed solo of someone who doesn't know the rhythm. Mr Winters was right. And he did remember him. Twenty years ago. A junior doctor on the ward, his very first death. An old woman. They'd called her sons, told them to say goodbye. Three arrived ('Funny,' the Sister had said, 'I swore she only had two.') Two held her hand and kissed her and wiped back tears. The third stood back, never said a word, but wore a sardonic grin on a featureless face. Tall and thin, his eyes were the colour of winter graveyards.
How To Roast Chestnuts by Kathleen Jones Split the porcupine case and shell them from their bed of white pith, unblemished - discarding those already bored by worm. Keep dry. A roaring fire of wood, or charcoal. Sprinkle salt till it turns blue and sparks like Roman Candles. Place the chestnuts in a cast-iron pan with holes to let in flames and scorch until the skin blackens and curls back from the wrinkled cerebellum and they smell of ice fairs, hallowe'en the street corners of a foreign town, all our northern childhoods.
Winter by Debbie Warren Green Winter A time of coats Of scarves and woolly hats Wrapped against the bitter weather Ice cold. Winter A time of fires Bonfires, hearth fires, gas fires Glowing deep down in our bodies Warm toes Winter A time of cakes Fruit cake, pudding, mince pies Enticing smells from the kitchen Baking Winter A time of spice Nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon Laced with orange for mulling wine Heart warm. Winter A time to spend Presents, family, friends Shops full of seductive delights Hot buy Winter A time to count The cost of Christmas time How to pay the credit card bills Gone cold.
The Castle by Helen Braid We watch them all day long. We are not in a hurry, indeed we have no other place to go. We have our chairs, and although it is busy, people do not take our place. Our seats remain our own. Cord wraps across and fastens to the wall. This does not bother us, when we sit we do not notice it at all. And we are not cold. Although others often pass us wearing scarves and boots and coats. Some carry bags. It is seldom, almost never, we should attract a glance. They busy themselves and drag their restless children by the hand. Sometimes one may catch our eye. We leave our chairs then, wander a little, or follow alongside - only for a while as we must never go outside. We like our corner of the tower. We have a narrow window and if we stand on tiptoe we see the green of the mound. The sea begins beyond â&#x20AC;&#x201C; beach and long grass and fine pale sand. We do not go there now. Some days the dunes blow in. Ours is a breezy room, sand is whirled into corners and we may claim if for our own. We see all ages come and go. We see youth - flushed and vibrant and new. It fills the air around us and sometimes it can tease us to its view. We step close to youth, we admire its merry hue.
We see tones matured, we see depth and sometimes we see colour watered down. When close to a mother, we see the opaque silvery thread which connects her to her child. Long and weightless and slight. Sometimes we see lights - around all ages and all types. They too have glittering silvery lines. We know not about the lights. We see that near a mother they will always glow most bright. We see paper skin, we see those who climb our winding stair with wooden sticks. We whisper to invite them to our chairs. They do not come, we are certain they do not realise we are there. Most days we race the hall. We like it best when there are not so many to avoid. But we are learning if we will it so, the visitors do not hinder us at all. Sometimes we reach to hold a hand. On one occasion we made a mother cry. We did not mean to cause a fright, we did not follow her outside. We returned to our chairs and stayed there side by side. We are always together, we wish not to be apart. We make stories of the others, and we stay close should it grow dark. We are excited for the wind to blow. From off the shore it climbs our spiral staircase and scuttles over stone. We join hands and glimpse right through one another to the distance beyond. We leave our chairs for that. We lean from the windows of our castle and whistle for a draft.
Fragile by Ursula Jane Brown Drifting, fluttering the serenity of snowflakes fall from grace. A biting breeze brawls where dark streets freeze. In the underpass a chill rolls across poor souls. Spirits of the lost silver spoon Tumble, stumble and fumble in the land of shadows, They stagger where chaos is written. The sombre winter wheel will be turned, By fragile frozen hands nervously nail bitten.
Snow Globe Shadows by Stuart Snelson She had bought the snow globe at a car boot sale. Haggling, she had given it only a cursory glance. The specifics no longer mattered; she bought them anyway. At home, it took its place among hundreds of others. Unshaken, synthetic snow lay settled on shelves. Though she had never left the country, she had snow globes from all over the world, landmarks forever one shake away from winter. Her calm kingdoms were defenceless, bluster and flurries summoned at her whim. Initially family and companions had boosted her collection; friendships grown frosty, she now sourced her own. In markets and charity shops, she rounded up her kitsch acquisitions. She treasured the spoils of other people's holidays. Her collection snowballed. From the mantelpiece they advanced to shelf and cabinet, colonised every flat surface before a spare room became an ornamental shrine. In her devotional, at a switch's flick, light bounced from a thousand domes. She was never happier than when nestled in her exotic hatchery. A Richter flicker would trigger an incremental blizzard. She envied the miniscule prisoners held captive within her spherical realms. If she
could shrink herself to explore these hermetic worlds, she would do so without hesitation. In the event of her death who would house them? There were no offspring to feel guilty as they filled skips with their risible inheritance and no museum would accept such a low rent bequest. Upon closer inspection her latest addition, a mundane mountain scene, proved uninviting. Taking a magnifying glass, she peered inside. Beside a log cabin, a body lay dead in the snow. Had it lay there when she bought it or had it rattled free in transit, the cabin in motion offering up its dead? Shaking it vigorously, the body did not move. The chilled corpse disturbed her, fractured her illusion of lives lived in safe seclusion. Her reading habits, perhaps, had affected her perceptions. She read voraciously, blood and snowflakes thrillers, spine chillers devoured by the fireside. Relishing crimes in wintry climes, did her mind seek picturesque deaths, her instincts indoctrinated by Nordic noir? She had cultivated incompatible habits. Fearful a murderer lurked within, she was reluctant to leave it in reach of the others. She imagined this alpine assassin, globetrotting, embarking on a midnight killing spree. For hours she squinted within, sought signs of life in this troubled scene. Growing tired, she thought she saw movement. By night, it preyed on her mind. She dreaded waking to a snow globe bloodbath, idyllic scenes forever marred, microscopic corpses picked off oneby-one, the victims sitting targets. Assuming the role of malevolent god, she steadied herself for destruction. Upon a cloth, she smashed this plastic paradise, her hammer bringing terror to frozen residents. Having shattered the sky, discarded the shards, she looked at what lay within. With tweezers, she removed the tiny corpse. Wary of projecting, she felt its miniature features resembled her own. Lifting the roof from the cabin, she prepared to expose the murderer.
Winter by Simon Morgan I am sick of bad dreams. At this winter's edge My playful nature drying Out, each phrase some Leaf, that having fallen, Rots by a roadside ~ No terror is worse than The rising sense of fear, Unfamiliar with the room For a moment sealed Into memory of those Days alone, recovering. Another winter I have Known echoes in dreams, Of grey slate sea with The laughter of gulls, Screaming madness by The bins of that hovel. Smoke drenched paint. Cold sweats, cold weather. The man beyond the water room wall, Where I washed with a cup, Crying forever ~ It seems I have left a part Of myself living there; Does he call out into my sleep, Begging for the five pound hits, His cries lost within the sentinel waves? So now, at winter's edge, The precipice of thought ignores, At night is a rabid lust, That hammers on all the doors.
Crystal Strokes by Maggie Mackay A feisty ice bride is wedded to the land. She ambushes Northern seas and skies, enfolds frozen orchards, dusts paths with Lawrence Whistler's tracery. She sings soprano in praise of nudity and starkness, while Rainbow blends of rose, cyclamen and honeysuckle dissolve into brown earth. My hemisphere sits suspended, slips into a dreamless place. Only the Aurora Borealis light show can reveal the bride's brutal beauty.
The Globe by Roisin Peddle Many have crossed the tundra. Two or three brave and reckless boys every generation choose to not to believe what they're told and to see for themselves. Without exception, they are gone for days, and then weeks, and often months. They go out and see the bears, the ice and the glaciers. Mostly they see nothing. For weeks and weeks and weeks. At last they see lights and houses. They've seen them before, Fata Morgana, tricks played by the glow of light on snow. But these are real. There are people in the houses. The smells of cooking, and sounds of laughter. Mirages stay silent. The boys stumble forward. They race into the town square. And then they see it. The statues of the singers, forever hitting a high note. The monument that has been in their hometown since my grandmother's grandmother's girlhood, and before then as well. They sink to their knees and cry, faces bleeding from frostbite. They have travelled around the world only to end up where they started. Our world is a perfect circle. They end up dead, those boys. Years of despair before a quiet, gibbering death. But it never stops the next batch.
When we look out on the sky, we see a glow of yellow. Then the sun sinks and the sky is black, utterly black. Earthquakes come too. Long ago, they happened all the time. There was a time that the earthquakes shook our world, sending snow spiralling from the sky, every hour. And even more frightening, was that they could see the hand of God and his angels lifting our world and shaking it. I always wondered what kind of God would do that to his creation. Now they never come. They have not touched us since before my mother and father were born. I think we are forgotten. There was a genius, twenty years ago, who spent his days exploring the world, venturing out in the tundra, but never too far. He saw a bear. Every day he returned, looking more and more worried. He built a seeing machine, which he called a telescope, to look out into the sky. When it was ready, he gazed out. The next day, they found him on the floor, his instruments smashed, his notebooks torn. He became mad. He was put with the reckless boys and he is there still. I play in the genius' empty house, all alone. I like to dream but this is the wrong place to be a dreamer. Today, I found his notebook, the last one. One he had missed in his madness. It was all made, all created, the same as you and I would make a pot or a sword. The bear was not living, the snow not real. When he looked out on the sky, he saw the interior of a room beyond. It explains why, despite the heat that comes from their fire, the snow never melts. We are trapped. The only way out of the globe is death.
Winter Song For Jack and Ina Polak
by Loren Kleinman I see your face in the words I write, in piles of shoes and torn clothes, in faces that died, in the naked, toothless bodies disinherited from the world, in the dirt, between wire and barb, through the days, weeks, months, years, the long list of names the guards call out to us, in the void of ribs, the reaper of love, non-existent love, in the suspension of death, in our exile, in names no longer mentioned, in violence, in all this doubt and crying, in the soup, in the holes in fences, in my urgent fingers writing.
Snow Angel by Stephanie Arsoska A snow angel dusts sugar with feathered fingers, covers the calloused earth in a dove-white cloth. A young girl sees an unblemished landscape, hears the request for hush, the quiet hum across the sweep of fabric, bone and dirty boots that press against her ivory lace, her bitter bite, mistaken, her face streaked with salty stone and she knows they will come for her soon and stain her skin against the snow.
Winter Rose by Elizabeth Stott Her older sisters clasp their bright plastic coats tight around their blowsy hips. But the winter rose shivers in a gauzy dress; a cold bud buttoned up against the chill, an ice princess. No teasing bee will flip her frozen skirt from its tight whorl. She will never sway, plump with seed, against the winter day.
WRITER BIOGRAPHIES Elwira Danak writes haiku and a parenting-inspired blog: http://blueberetmum.wordpress.com which has been a regular feature on the Britmums' website 'Poetry Round-Ups'. Her recent poem 'Coming Home' has been published in the Poetry Nook Magazine, September edition.
Michele Brenton @banana_the_poet's most interesting literary achievements so far: twinterviewing Iain M. Banks through the medium of poetry and having two poems broadcast by BBC Radio Four's Saturday Live program just after Neil Gaiman's interview. She's hoping things stay interesting. Kate Garrett writes poetry and flash fiction, and has been published online and in print. She currently lives in Sheffield with her three kids, three cats and a computer programmer. Her website is: http://www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk. Jerard Fagerberg is a non-believer of the pigeonhole and a champion of the First Church of the Open Source. He received a degree in creative writing from Loyola University Maryland, where he founded the Greyhound Collective Poetry Revival. He is also a twotime Academy of American Poets Prize honoree and has recently been published in Boston Poetry Magazine, Word Bohemia, and Phobos Magazine. Currently, he serves as an editor and graphic designer for Manik Music. Helen Braid is an illustrator and graphic designer who is lucky to live on the beautiful Scottish West Coast with her husband and their 2 young children. She is inspired by all things coastal and has a 5 year plan to relocate to the beach. Helen writes about family life with a whimsical twist. She is co-editor of the monthly Britmums Poetry & Prose Round-up and you can contact Helen via her blog: http://allatseascotland.blogspot.co.uk, or on twitter: @EllieAllAtSea. Kathleen Jones writes biography, fiction and poetry and loves mixing them all up! Her partner is currently working in Italy, so she divides her time between the fells of Cumbria and the Alpi Apuane. Her first full collection of poetry, Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21 was published by Templar in 2011 and she has just finished a biography of the northern poet Norman Nicholson. Kathleen is a member of the New Zealand Tuesday Poets group and currently has poems in the Entanglements anthology of Eco-writing (Two Ravens Press), Estuary: a confluence of art and poetry (Moon & Mountain), A Blackbird Sings, Earthlines Magazine and Katherine Mansfield Studies (Edinburgh University Press). She blogs at A Writer's Life: http://kathleenjonesauthor.blogspot.co.uk. Elizabeth Stott has published stories and poems; most recently - The Warwick Review, Tears in the Fence. A new poem is to appear in The Butcher's Dog in November 2013. She has a collection of short stories: 'Familiar Possessions', a Kindle book: 'This Heat', and a Nightjar Press chapbook. David Coldwell is an artist and writer living at the edge of West Yorkshire. His poems have been published in a number of journals and anthologies. Occasionally he blogs at: http:// davidcoldwell.co.uk. Sometimes he tweets at: @d_coldwell. Mostly he watches the world pass by from a hillside. Debbie Warren Green left office work in 2008 to pursue the artistic life, after working in insurance for 24 years. Not only did she take up painting, but she also began to fulfil her lifelong ambition to become a writer. She takes inspiration from the supernatural and from ancient history, and is particularly interested in the effect that obsession has on human emotions. She hopes to complete a novel or two in 2014!
WRITER BIOGRAPHIES Maureen Curran writes with The Garden Room Writers and her poems have appeared in Boyne Berries, Crannóg, Poetry Bus, Revival, the Stony Thursday Book, Skylight 47 and Southword. Her flash fiction has been published online by: http://wordlegs.com. She blogs with her group at: http://www.gardenroomwritersdonegal.blogspot.ie. Sam Andruski is an English poet living in Berlin. He is currently working on his first full length collection.
Annie Carter dabbles in a variety of exploits from freelance writing to volunteer schools work and playing the guitar. She has eclectic tastes and opinions. Find her blog at: http://anniecarter.com. Follow her on Twitter @AnnieCarterUK Richard Kefford joined the Royal Navy from school and followed this with a engineering career in industry. He has studied geology and creative writing with the Open University since 2008. He lives in Somerset, where he enjoys wood turning, hill walking, practical geology and writing. He currently works with the Publisher, Café Three Zero, and blogs at: http://www.richardsritingblog.blogspot.co.uk. Roisin Peddle is a 24-year-old Irish journalism graduate currently living in Dublin. Her work has been published in anthologies including Boyne Berries, and has had a short story longlisted in the prestigious RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition. Ursula Jane Brown is an artist, poet and photographer based in Cockermouth, Cumbria, UK. As a poet, she works from symbols, dreams, emotions, imagination and observation. Stuart Snelson's stories have appeared in Litro, 3:AM, Popshot and the Londonist, and are forthcoming in Ambit and Structo. Simon Morgan is from Wales and has made his home in Norfolk. For the last fifteen years he has been an actor working primarily in theatres. He has been writing since he was twelve. Maggie Mackay, a Scot and a retired learning support teacher, has discovered her inner poet through three years of Open University study, with her work appearing in several UK publications, including the Still Me… anthology (Pewter Rose Press) and the online magazine, Ink, Sweat and Tears. She begins a Masters in Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University in January 2014. Stephanie Arsoska is a performer based in Scotland.You can find more of her work on blog at: http://beautifulmisbehaviour.com. Her Twitter is: @StephArsoska. Loren Kleinman's poetry has appeared in Nimrod, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Journal of New Jersey Poets. Her interviews appeared in IndieReader, USA Today, and Huffington Post. The Dark Cave Between My Ribs releases in 2014 (Winter Goose Publishing). Loren's website is: http://lorenkleinman.com. She can also be found twittering at: @LorenKleinman