Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Mr X Remembers

James remembers the accident but not as well as he could, the images not quite red, but punctuated by orange. It was Autumn, by the bus stop. Suddenly the glass was broken. The driver had been furious and, aware of the repercussions, had not stayed to find out the true cost. Now it was spring and James felt he could allow optimism to seep back into his life.

The copyright of this post belongs to Ellen MacCree

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Complete Unsent Letters of Muff and Sorry #2

Sorry you hapless cretin,
Conjure yourself a new tent. You don't need my old teepee in order to move on. I'm fed up with your unctuous arguments of self-defence, your missing commas (did you think I wouldn't notice?) your cards with the heads all unseen in your pockets. Even your shadow wants nothing to do with you. Take the wild and worn heart of you and fuck off into a ploughed field; Go where the smoke will rise from the stubble and purify you. You have made an igloo out of the capricious coldness of your heart. Light a fire for God's sake. Forget the whale. Let him boom boom in the murky depths. Let his whale heart be cut out and worn to the sweet beating of the doldrums.
Even if I were to divulge the location of the tent, you'd not find it. Its coordinates would baffle a man like you; the rose-finch upon your shoulder, forever nibbling your lace collar, would distract yuou long before you found the chink that leads the way. And I'm not talking inscrutable random Easterners either. You say nothing is delicious: Light a fire on the parapet. Toast yourself a sweet feast to tell the time by: meringues at seven, praline brittle at 9.30 and marshmallow fingers at four.
Be dauntless Sorry, if you can. Melt the snow-queen in your jasmine heart, sweeten your sour breath with parma violets. Ah you have me.
The tent is in the piutched field in a landscape where rain links the Church, the mill,  and the stream. Be good Sorry, for now you have it all
Your vey own Muff

The Complete Unseen Letters of Muff and Sorry #1

Dearest Muff,
I'll come straight to the point: Where is the tent? (tails you win) The sky hangs heavy with unshed snow and I am growing increasingly anxious about the whale. It seems to me that the known world is being distorted in unknown ways, and nothing about this is delicious. If I could find the tent, crawl in beneath the weight of the white, I am sure I could devise a plan that would get us out of this mess. The whale lives so far below the frequencies of love and collusion, he has no truck with our private delights masquerading as work. He knows the secret of death's gift, that once life's gone there's no retrieving it. Oh we can plan to cut it into ever thinner slices, but it is still itself, entire, a life shot through with randomness: the taut arrow about to fly from the bow, a child choking on a peanut, the bruised yellow jellies lined up on the banquet table in front of the sea. Just because you cannot recall their names does not mean these things don't exist.
I'm sorry to harp on about it Muff but, you must see, if I could find the tent, erect it in this wilderness, we'd all have a slender chance (heads I lose). The world quickens Muff. Still the whale calls, its song pure lament. Still the sea moves in distress.  Write now dear heart and tell me please where oh where is the fucking tent?
In hopefulness and in equal despair
I remain ever your

The copyright of this post belongs to Claire Steele

Friday, 19 October 2012

Izzy's Paradise

It begins for most people at the filigree gates, portal to a different paradise.  Step through peeling iron sentinels to find a garden of primal beauty.  Wilderness, untouched by trowel, stippled with sunlight, has spread flora for acres.  Something pricks Izzy’s foot. Swearing softly in this hallowed place, she bends to take communion with the mossy underfoot.  Examining the unfamiliar thorn, she reflects on her purpose for venturing further into the cathedral of venerable trees.  The sun is inviting, comforting, seducing her with promises of lazy stupor.  She tilts her face upwards, her closed eyelids showing a stippled map of fine red tracings, a treasure map to her inner secrets.

The copyright of this post belongs to Lynn Hillston

Whatever happened to the Dog?

What happened to the Dog?
What happened to the dog - he was surely swept away in the rushing, swirling water.
It broke like a tsunami, taking the bridge, and the people that had been standing on the bank.
Taking the gorgonzola cheese and the silk kimono costume, that only hours before had hung in a magnificent spectacle of red and gold flutter, from the flagpole of the old Japanese man.
He lived like a hermit at the top of the village.
The dog always frolicked in the river, he roamed freely about the village.
One wonders now who sabotaged the banks, the way they crumbled in a magnificent, grumbling disintegration.
The Japanese, as we all called him, had he been there earlier?
Eccentric he may be, but subversive as a stitch on his own kimono?  Never.
Now I look back on the day, I think what colour were his shoes - and the answer?  They were yellow as jelly on a hot July, so this leads me to believe the dog survived to tell another barking tale in a different village further down the valley. Because that dog, I know, hated yellow and would jump over a tiger to avoid having to inculcate a yellow gospel in to his doggy, dogeared life.
It's surely a miracle that the water did eventually evaporate completely leaving a turquoise, vinelike serpentine long gorge, dry and completely without passion.  What can a dry, stony river bed inspire?
Not even a dog, who can bark now his own question:  Where is the sedge?
24 September 2012  V Rule
The copyright of this post belongs to Valerie Rule

Monday, 8 October 2012



Dappling a rich tapestry of verdant texture,
The earth has yielded all its fruit,

Through the filigree gates of memory,
Recognising us as mortals,
Under, over, weaving, winding,
Across Bavarian hills the wind

An iron bell peals,
Dances her into rebirth,
Uncorseted from 'a promising future'
Henrietta's thoughts are stippled with

She trembles in the palm of God's hand,
In the communion of now,
The blue orchids brighten

© Gabrielle Goldsmith 2012

Whatever Happened to Jojo?

An excerpt from 'Whatever happened to Jojo?’

Georgina's Grandfather has died suddenly not long after her Grandmother passed away.

Where it begins? Is this where it begins was the thought wandering in from the wilderness of her subconscious. Georgina lay on the bed in the room, her favourite room in her grandparents' house. Their house? Not anymore!

Another unkind thought pricking her conscience. The shock of her Granddad's death only weeks, count them, after his wife regained ground in the garden of her grief. Big fat tears recommenced rolling down, stippling, deepening the dark circles beneath Georgina's unblinking eyes. Unfocused, her sadness was as an overfull bladder, ready to make serious mischief.

So this is where it begins. Georgina heard the peal of adulthood. Now that the senior members had exited, was it her turn to strut the stage? She closed her tears off. A clock ticked somewhere nearby. On opening her eyes again, she found communion with her favourite picture - a large black and white portrait of Jojo.

Jojo stared accusingly at her niece from the wall across the bedroom, as if to say,

'Well, what are you waiting for?'...

The copyright of this post belongs to Gabrielle Goldsmith

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Whatever Happened to Jojo

Fragments of ‘Whatever happened to Jojo’

Georgina is 19 and in her parent’s kitchen
It was a miracle that it had set. Georgina would be the first to admit that her culinary skills had not been the best in her home economics classes. She had dropped those as soon as! She praised the scudding heavens outside her Mother’s kitchen like a gentle pilgrim might do on sighting sanctuary.
Outside in the garden, a teatime breeze sang the gospel along the serpentine, ribbonesque vines. Vines! In the North East! What was Dad thinking of? They were gently withering from a combination of an inclement climate and neglect.
The sound of a spanner falling echoed from the garage through the open window. Just like Dad to jump from one passion to another, Georgina thought, like a tiger moves in turbulent silence from prey to rest to prey. She smiled at his latest obsession. The smell of yellow wafted, inculcated and evaporated. A grain of happiness ran through her. She turned back to her creation. ‘Now, will they like turquoise jelly?’
Half an hour later and their tea was all ready. Sandwiches, scones, an apple pie just out of the oven, jam, cream and custard, and that jelly. Georgina looked at the golden bowl of custard. A peculiar thought held her a moment – what does yellow smell like? Like my glory hours perhaps? Those that begin after dark and continue on into the perfect splendour of the fridge of night.
Her little cousin Charlotte wandered into the kitchen and promptly stole out with the jelly. ‘Hey, Charlie’ shouted Georgie. Is theft everywhere she wondered? (Little Charlotte, who would forever wear the splendid halo of beauty and would never know whom she should not trust.) ‘What fruit did you use to make the jelly Georgie?’ cooed Charlotte from the lounge, ‘everyone wants to know.’
Georgina brushed castor sugar off her hands, sung to the stones in her head and sidled up behind Charlotte. She placed her hands conspiratorially on the younger girl’s shoulders, crouching down close to her. ‘Well, I think it was fruit that had been kissed by the blue fairies, my pet,’ Georgina winked at her Father, now sitting near the fire.
Charlotte giggled. Her laughter was infectious. It traversed the room, a filigree of renewal, touching everyone.

Georgina is 6 and on a trip with her Uncle Jimmy
The week after the stupendous trip to the toyshop, Georgina’s Uncle took her surreptitiously (without her Aunt’s or Mum’s permission, so he had said) to a place full of his passion. The shop window in front of them was piled high and wide with it, gleaming. Inside, the place was teaming with it and with people interested in it, she assumed. Stalls and cabinets packed to, packed with, what would Uncle say? Packed to the rafters! That’s what it was like.
From behind the stools of legs, Georgie squeezed her head here, poked her nose through there, seeing the adults everywhere lost in examination of it, standing, sitting, stooping. ‘Georgie,’ her Uncle’s voice called over the hum of conversation. She stole through the forest of people, slinked this way, sashayed that, and slithered over to where he was beckoning – his crooked finger a sanctuary of expectation.
He was holding something in his hand - a sliver of delight to her big eyes. ‘What is it Uncle Jimmy?’ She whispered, subdued by the shining object.
It’s a brooch my lamb, a silver brooch, can you see what it written on it?’ He held it out to her. The brooch shimmered with magic when she touched it. Letters were picked out in a sparkling blue colour along its length. Georgie spelt them out, her face breaking into a big smile.

The copyright of this post belongs to Gabrielle Goldsmith

Beneath the Daylight Moon

When does he sleep?
Still oddly visible the daffodils flutter at the edge of sight. He has  knocked the nests from the trees, eaten his feast of small birds and left the puzzle of their bones to stitch the breech. Now is the sanctuary evaporate. In the gusty half-light of his mind he sees his mate vining the ribbon of her path towards him in ivy and bindweed. The slatey smell of blackberries in the rain makes him suddenly gentle. Across the field a cow lows for her lost calf, the church bell clangs its iron call and the moon hangs like a turquoise thumbnail in the sky. He is almost spent. He counts up what is missing: a gospel spanner, turbulence and song. The words lie on his tongue like  jelly and melt. Once in a blue moon he succumbs to his mate's embrace, sings to the stones and the air, and then, sated with glory, he finds the time to lay his great head upon the earth's bed, and sleep.

The copyright of this post belongs to Claire Steele

Rosemary for Remembrance

Ruffled and flushed in the roselight of dawn, we lie welded together like a runcible spoon. We have dabbled in the honey of each other’s hearts, ridden the serpentine waves of the rollercoaster of rude emotion, raw and unfiltered; we have ribboned our bodies together and now, sated with glory, we lie curved in a snicket of sunlight, resolute that this will not recur. There will be no renewal; we renounce this romance. Until tomorrow.

The copyright of this post belongs to Jill Glenn

The Power of Thirteen

The yellow canvas blind, unfurled across the window as a surety against the threat in the sky, delivers – courtesy of the little bruised light remaining – the impression of sunshine. It is as thin as a caress. It doesn’t fool him. He counts from ten to one, backwards, in little staccato gasps. What does it mean? What does it mean?

The spit spot spit of the rain on the roof takes him into the undercurrent of misremembered time. He was a child in this luscious storm. Yesterday, was it, or tomorrow? He was a child in rubber boots, with water lapping around his feet and a wave of uncertainty cold in his head. Was. Is. Will be.

He waits for yesterday to begin and tomorrow to end. The architecture of everyday escapes him. In the darkness he recognises the rough nap of velvet, the hot smell of a bulb through ripped paper. Here is a cushion and there is a lampshade. These are the things he knows. The lamplight hurts his eyes and the shadows on the walls leer at him whichever way he turns.

The copyright of this post belongs to Jill Glenn

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Quick As a Cut

An excerpt from ‘Whatever Happened to Jojo’
By Gabrielle Goldsmith
Quick as a cut would bleed the hope - that she had nursed in her heart like a sleeping tiger, that she had felt stir when she checked her appearance and the new turquoise brooch ( a present from ‘B’) – died. Died with the bloody screech of diamonds on glass. She left the nondescript terraced house that housed her bedsit (12 of us stacked on top of each other like empty trays at the bakers) and bundled straight into fog!
Fog, and before 6 am - Georgina pulled her coat close against the twilight of day. She stepped out to confront the galling reality of a community snoring in tension and steadied herself for the twenty minutes walk to the station (20 minutes and then half an hour on that smelly tube).
Her half hour passed reflecting the masks of others’ routine despair (at least I got a seat this morning) but the sun, pushing its way through the murk, feebly greeted her return to the surface in the City.
Georgina banished thoughts of the walls of grey tumbling from the sky. Like a willing lover, she prayed for God to turn the day to her delight. She spoiled herself with an image of ‘B’ (so pretty).
Quick as a cut might heal, she smiled, hope returning.
The Copyright of this post belongs to Gabrielle Goldsmith

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Turret Room 2

He took the first cut, stood on the edge of the stage and sliced the enchanted air with his sword. Three of us flkinched in unison. He cut me a poem from a leprochaun's lime-lined jacket, bent my ear to the zinc-clink of rain in a metal bucket, tuning the day for our delight. Warm blood scrolled from the tip of his blade. Where is my gypsy wife? he cried. The first cut is the unseen one, making the line clear behind it, energised in red. The rain perfumed the air with possibility. A dandelion clock teased time beyond where we thought we'd be. He took the first cut, like charity itself, and none of us knew where the next cut would come from. But for the moment, just then, he was mine.

The copyright of this post belongs to Claire Steele

Turret Room 1

In the spirit of hope, but with little faith, I approach an assessment of my life – that which is past and that which is to come. I gaze down the corridors of time, which stretch relentlessly in both directions. Every sin, in the shadows behind me; ahead, the reparations still to be made; beyond that, the light. Oh, the light. I have done things that may prevent me from reaching that light, but I still recognise myself. I have strayed from the ways the pastor has taught me are right, but I know who I am. I know what I have done, and why. And I can argue.
I am lying on the bed that we shared, on a velvet throw the colour of juniper, with the child on my belly. She twists round and I raise her to a standing position, marching her up and down me so that she beats out the rhythm of my indecision on the xylophone of my ribs. Leave. Stay. Leave. Stay. I drape her with the feather boa her mother left behind, and she giggles.
I should have gone before, but I could not be parted from my little waif. I still can’t. I want to stay until she can fly, until the stem of her life is fully planted, has developed roots, delivered fruit. I will go then.
I will go now. I can do her no good. I cannot undo what I am. Who I am.
I play the voice; I will sing her into adulthood, will send out the streams of wishing into the air that will surround her. I will read weather forecasts and study charts; I will play my voice into the prevailing winds, from east to west, so that it resonates around her in the darkness of the day before. I will pray. I will watch her from afar, this child and the children to come, her brothers and sisters yet unborn whom I will never know. They will be cross about the mystery of me, the silence that surrounds my name. There will be a place ring-fenced for this one in my heart, while I am off at the other side of the world, chaining my dreams to a small place and running, running to feel alive. Or at least, not dead.

Copyright of this post belongs to Jill Glenn