Artwork by Jane Burn
Edited by Jane Burn and Louise Larchbourne
………Just Get in The Car
Let’s go to Florida, slather our bodies with suntan lotion, drink.
Let’s go to Ohio, trade our car in for a tractor, drink
Tell incredible stories about futures that will never happen. Let’s just drive.
Let’s go to California, stop at Kinko’s to run off sets of business cards
Of people no one’s ever heard of, stop for pedicures in Beverly Hills,
Strap ourselves into a convertible, drive until we hit a surfer
Drive straight into the sunrise, drive until the tires hit the water.
Drive until our car hits a cow, or a buffalo, or an Indian.
By Holly Day
By Mary Lou Springstead
Hello Mary Lou
Acrylic on canvas
60in x 44in
BALANCE OF THINGS
The first time I ever knew the unsteadiness
of life, was on a train as a child.
the smooth rails and glide through
taken to being a rattling in the body
my drunk legs shaking, wobbling as
metal pressed metal in heavy breakage;
I was caught by surprise. The second time
was when I forked soil like a child
forking mash potato. I heaved up
with all I had, the clogs reluctant to
leave the skin of earth. my quadriceps
quivered as a crying lip.
and I knew then in life things always
have more than meets the eye.
By Gareth Culshaw
We worked on the beachfront
I kept my ear to the ground
……..Three women were collecting
……………lithe children from the foam
……..as we lifted our boat from the water
……. into the hills above the equations
In the cottage kitchen one woman held
…………….my head above a clean bowl
……..and split it open at the nape
……………with a stream of milk
…….My head was more in resistance than ever
……………satisfied in brevity
…………………..but it was cool
……………in there and the child was all but gone
I approach all things with my ear heavy to the ground
the things you hear beneath
……………………breath; landscape; water
…….The evenings, the sand stuck with lightning
…………soft body of sea sweetened with oil
sniffing my own skin as if it were a hot cup of coffee
…………….To sit here
……..and write code by the languid spill
of a lamp hovering above the Formica table
By Petra Kamula
Psychosis at Orgreave
The miners are climbing all over
the TV room. Shadows of men, striking
against bleach streaked walls. I must have
come in late because the short shielded police
are at them, a royal force of nature captured
by Thatcher’s claw. I’m in my dressing gown
off my fucking nut. I sit on that piss
and fire resistant chair with a rip in it.
For days I’ve been stared back at by faces
in the paper, blokes in the corner
chatting about me as I eat cereal;
the old man tells me they’re not there,
I don’t believe him,
just ignore them then, he says. I laugh
milk from my nose at that. The psyches
come at me with their questions,
none of which make sense.
I’m up for the battle
to go away, to see it spread across
boot dust fields, away from the light
shine lino and sleep filled wards.
I turn to the telly for reality, they are there,
an infantry in blue, running, chasing
hunting, clubbing; the filth don’t give
a fuck, it’s all spinning. That’s enough
for me, I’m away. ………………It’s warm
and wet between my legs, but there’s a calm.
A low paid Florence kneels
at my lap, the psyche in wait
at her shoulder. The questions come
at me, a medical catechism I’ve learned
the answers to. When they finally ask,
“Do helicopters eat their own?” I tell them.
“Yes, yes they do and I can prove it.”
By Peter Raynard
By Mary Lou Springstead
Ushering the Emigrants
Acrylic on canvas
32in x 26in
You have taught me the opposite of disappearing. When I had grown accustomed to the
darkness, built myself a house with windows that did not open and close, in the shadows, that’s
where you found me. When all my maps no longer pointed the way home, and all the street
signs had faded into their canvas, the paint peeling off their faces, that’s when you told me that I no
longer needed to look for a place where I could fit myself in because I was home myself.
Like the first time we met, my hands opened like doors for you, as if they’ve been waiting to do
this all their lives; you showed up in the doorway with a smile that it was impossible for me
to turn away. Like the first time you told me a joke about a sheep crossing the road, no matter how
many times I’d heard other people tell it , my laughter was like windows that overlooked a
river, rushing to meet its lover.
The first time I told you that my own body felt like flesh that belonged to someone else, you told
me I was beautiful. Told me that I was holding a flicker in my hands and I could choose to let it
burn. To light my own way home. And I have not stopped believing it ever since. The flicker has
turned into a torchlight. And perhaps one day, it’ll turn into something more. Like a small sun
on earth, that can never be put out again.
by Charmaine Louise Escalante
When she gets out…
she wants to
roughhouse through the tree line; reach the
wind-scarred ridges and catch the curlew’s call.
Earth scents in her nostrils,
wood-dusk whispers in her ears.
a green breath from the trees
and summer in safe keeping to
stop the season bleeding out
and leaving her behind.
she wants to
touch it, taste, inhale it
to know that she was in it
imprint it on her mind
By Janet Philo
the escapologist and the trapeze artist
I escape here that is my role
first I escaped the town where I was born,
free from the family whose binds even I could not untie.
I escape I always did.
Now it pays my bed & board – every night after every trick
I escape the stage again, watch the rest of the magic.
My heart walks a tightrope as I watch him on the wire.
He, like a bird, freer than I could ever even think to imagine.
When he moves, he moves with his own gravity.
His hands are not much bigger than mine
but they are strong, have had all the time they needed
to grow strong enough to hold that man above this earth.
He is the only one I trust to wrap the chains around my wrists.
Then I escape,
to thunderous applause
but for him the crowd is silent. My heart in my chest
never beat so hard as when I watch him –
when he moves, he moves with his own gravity.
His streamlined body, light as a feather, falls smooth,
heavy as a drop of water while I am stone,
sinking to the bottom of the barrel. Even as I sit,
submerged and very still I am so very moved by him.
I want what he gives me – a feeling of being escaped,
into arms that carry me above the world.
After the families have gone, I am invited into his carriage room
and my heart walks a tight rope, his hands on my body.
Undoing knots that have formed deep inside me,
I escape to this safest place –
him, on solid ground, myself, unchained. The closest
to the sane we ever seem to make.
He moves above me, feather weight – beneath me like a safety net.
Inside me, the key in the lock I forget I was carrying, he releases me.
He saves me and he moves me. He moves me with his own gravity.
By Alix Alixandra
s c a t t e r i n g
and force brings
o n l y s c a t t e r i n g a g a i n
I learn anew
By Fiona Russell Dodwell
………hold these bare arms
Your head a tide receding, yes Hold
………open your black eyes
The evening has dropped
like a just-birthed calf
……..the blood jube-soft, still on its nose
Come back, cross
……..flare-lit harbour where waves are fins
……………my body, here, to yellow stone
……..find bare neck, find bare
Hold my head high, chin pinched
……..and trembling, and trembling
By Petra Kamula
The GP’s Curse
Lump. The bruise of it after
last weekend in Copenhagen,
with huge Facebook smiles,
all plans, maybe even marriage.
New contracts force us to strike.
All for want of that pebble
wearing your skin. Your scream
claws to work its way out of scans
and tattered waiting rooms full
of all night blood and spit and shit.
You hold this wanting, so longing
to live before you die, before the profile
is deleted and our reunion smiles
screw tears and fuse all strategies.
Cut out politics and let us focus
on the one thing we struggle to fix:
the lump which is more than a lump,
and the other lumps and lumps-to-be
while your scream bursts the banks,
and I, split between friend and fight,
tune it to anger.
By Helen Kay
with all those bones made black
with our forgetting.
Under your neglected headstone
grown to worn down grey trip you up
cairn stone slab hidden in grasses and nettle
by these bright new leaves and with this green raffia
I will tie up your name. There,
a pigeon’s fallen feather lies upon your grave.
It’s a wish,
a space wide enough to be a following
but you flit, flit from me, fall
off the edges
one of a thousand faces
lost behind stove, behind a child’s hold,
fleeting appearances at the margins, in jerky cine film,
an after thought to scan the crowd for you,
footprint in invisible ink, a footnote kick back
for you were of no importance, it seems,
in the other room from where the power lay
its cables on your steady haunches.
Taking in the wage packet to stretch it like taffy,
taking in the endless load, numerous burdens to be
unburdened in the wash house, picture house, dancehall, bus ride to the seaside,
whisky and ginger, silk stockings catching
on the hangnails of dishwasher hands.
your ambition hidden in spick n’ span,
nervous breakdowns held in
the warmth of a baby,
in the quiet of Church,
in pills held high on the bathroom shelf
and in the pride of a home, of a washed front step.
Your view from your stove-side seat
your voice rising to be unheard,
to be forever unknown
by those searching and finding
you lacking and
no mark of you
(and how I wish it to be true)
in the way I am
and in the still of you,
that still carries on
in black dirt bone.
By Hannah Lavery
Once upon a student with a steel
cage on her leg shook tears, her head
so low, her woolly wolf hat howled.
Black mascara wired her cheeks;
her arms were wrung washing.
I made notes, waited to hear
why she was kicked out, wanted
to rip off skins of blame to some
raw, blue catharsis which began
prenatally, and ends in a thousand
scabby tomorrows, including mine.
Just a glitch in new product lines.
She rolled big red eyes to the floor
said vodka dials the pain to normal.
What happened is many versions.
Purple petals sat by the bar in her calf.
She touched them, ready to pluck
to know if she will be loved or not.
By Helen Kay
My brother and I met to cast our mother’s ashes
into the river where she often walked
in her younger days, with the watchmaker
she later married, a favourite place.
From the bridge, the sun made
bright patches of water, between
the tree shadows, and trout circles
confirmed this as a place of life.
We talked about her life, our lives
growing up, ourselves growing older,
then we let her go, white powder
falling like a sudden winter shower.
Briefly caught on the water’s surface
a pale streak whirled in the current,
then dispersed downstream, tracking her life
through the city she loved, down to the sea.
By Colin Will
“Driver Crashes into a Tree”
All he can feel is red.
Flames lick the walls of his heart’s dark pockets.
They race to his throat, consuming the air,
blooming in there, and then onward to the head,
pouring past thoughts like quicksand slipping
down the minute hand.
He never asked for sound to collapse in his mouth,
for the senseless barrier between foreign skins,
going without another’s touch for countless days,
and leaving behind salt deposits from brown eyes
which somehow look like oceans.
Music rains from his eyes. Kaleidoscopic emotion
grows and crashes in stormy waves,
saturating his head along with a brood of unsaid words
that leave permanent scratches on old records
of the mind.
A few words would’ve changed his winter face
into cherry blossom cheeks, and eyes
like skies that speak, and rose petal lips that play,
in their silence, with the societal fallacy that being content
should garner contempt.
He stands on the handrail with dreams made of helicopters.
His eyes are smoke after a candle, fixed coldly
on the moonwake which shudders along the river below.
City lights reflect onto ocean eyes with a glow
as ephemeral as midnight.
Silence shivers with anticipation.
He wants to let the river consume time,
let the newspapers read something like,
“Driver Crashes into a Tree.
The driver is innocent.
The road must be guilty.”
By Anna A. Khen
Ramblings of a Forty-Something Former Geriatric Biketrial Enthusiast
Final hour of daylight, the air cool and perfectly still; it would have been
brilliant if I could ride my trials bike. Even just a little trundle about the low
obstacles: scoop onto a ledge or two, back-wheel hop across a small gap. Just
the thought of such movement – hauling and shunting, constant on-off brake
action, stabbing at the pedals and yanking the bars, unweighting the bike –
sets my spine off on some awful psychosomatic sciatica spasm; my wrists and
fingers would seize up in about ten minutes, my right knee explode.
Most of my favourite quarry sections are gone, the lines I rode long since
eroded: overgrown with brambles and tree branches; obliterated and covered
in mud ruts from motocrossers and mototrials riders.
As I negotiate a dry route on foot around the sludge out to the hard pack dirt
and gravel trail then across the neighbouring field towards homeground, I hear
the engines of other late thrillseekers – going full-throttle up steep bank sides
on their noisy little machines – whooping and laughing, getting a few laps in
before the onset of dusk.
By Steve Urwin