Artwork above by Jane Burn
Edited by Jane Burn and Louise Larchbourne
Coyote Seeks the Lodge of Death
Honeymoon, and then Regret
After my marriage, when the earth was still green
(Not sorrow-browned as it is now) a miasma floating in the air
Drained the sap from my wife. In pity, Death led me over his stone
Road, through many invisible perils, to bring my wife back to life.
Arriving at a dry stream, we mimed swimming across false freshets.
Near the barren bank, a burnt long house stood, skeletal, in the centre of a field.
Between Four Burnt Walls and a Skin-Patched Roof
The corpse stood up. I’d given her to the earth;
Here she was again. Beautiful, seemingly concrete,
Exactly as she’s been before her death. Grave filth
Relinquished her. Death smiled, said, ‘Leave in silence, cross the water,
Observe this injunction crossing the mountains: Don’t touch her, or soil
And rot shall claim her again.’ I didn’t listen. She vanished into the dark.
Looking Forward, After Looking Back
Drained, but not hopeless, I began the trip again. Blood
Was seeping from the stones as I retraced my steps into the black.
As the sun went down I re-enacted the Masque that Death
Set out for me: leaping invisible gorges, blocking my nose against the stench
Leaking from an imaginary fire-pit, parting the insubstantial bones
Of the door to the long house. I settled into my place in the hole.
The Grave Refunds Silence
Nothing happened. I sat there for days, waiting, while time ran,
Grinning, all about me, weathering my face, withering my hands to claws.
Everyone knows you only get one chance with Death. I turned towards home.
Red lights gleamed in the east. My muscles longed to join the ground.
‘Remember that you tried, and failed, to draw
Escapees from my pit.’ Death said, ‘Remember that I tried to help you climb.’
Kaknu and The Body-of-Stone
In the Body of a Dove
When I had grown so tired of fighting that life
Held no pleasure for me, I clothed myself in fresh,
Ephemeral feathers, folded my wings, and dove into the green
Newly-dewed earth. Instead of rest, I found the Body-of-Stone
Who rules the dead realms that sprawl under every field.
Everyone born on earth finishes there, crying for air.
A Ghostly Palaver
We sat together for a while, sharing a meal of flesh and water,
Eating the meat of the vines which bloom beneath the soil.
Regretfully, he stood, scattering bones, and flexed his earthen
Extremities. He smeared his hard, high cheeks with oily filth,
Fingermarks spread out under his eyes. He spoke out of the darkness,
‘I rule the dead. None shall escape me. My grasp is concrete.’
A Wrestling Match
Nearly ten-million dead were gathered there, raising a stench.
stood in their midst, moved by the sight of their pitiful bones.
Skeleton hands clasped, begging me to free them. My blood
Heaved in my veins. I stood square, sizeing up Death.
Evading his first strike (he was laughing) I dove into a hole.
Dead hands pressed a strong bow into my fingers. I shot into the black
An Experienced Shot
Wounds dripped their red juice into the sour ground.
Hard arrow-heads jutted from Death’s navel and neck. I drew
Expertly back on the bowstring, to send another shaft running
Neatly into his throat. Death held up his hands, ‘Go home,
This battle is over. The spoils are yours — if you can climb
Hauling your people out on your back.’ I wore my fingers to claws.
By Bethany Pope
By Mary Lou Spingstead
Woman of Will
Acrylic on canvas
30in x 18in
Island of Kings
Revelation 17:3 I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast. 17:9 The seven heads
are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth 2:22 I will throw her onto a sickbed
A Divinity of Piss-Beards – under bristles sleeps a silken kid, begging
to be palmed. Their breath is grass, tells a tale of springtime meadow.
The King of Them, he ate me from the bottom up, ate away the clothes
I wore; made spaghetti of the threads. I felt his rabbits cleft; he calmly
took my skin in peels of pain and all the time, his two-pronged touch.
I felt him walk my ledges, deft on sides of breast; a trip of halven prints,
bracts where he burst me underneath. ‘Tis only clumsy ones that fall –
for them, the scree. I begged for cud from his tongue, sweet as liar’s candy;
fingered stairways up the ridges of his horns. Above me nodding heavy
with such weight of crown, his splendid head. I was hulked by your rutting,
God of the Wild! Held in hocks snapped as elbow crooks, weighted under
kindling ribs, I made a body-bridge under his touch, all flex and rise.
Slave as I was to the rough of his fur, he left me blistered; raspberries
bloomed his path, rashed my chin with mustachio scratch. Passion in the hay,
in mattress sweat where I lay, shit and farm smell – after, counting goblins
in corners, gathering dark to the back of my eyes. You sang me nothing, Pan,
but gasps to settle frost across the plough of me – I am Babylon’s Whore.
I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast. I rode him,
sat on seven mountains, sucked on seven heads. I fucked a Satyr,
I was ruined, Dabih – how apt your constellations! Island of Kings!
I looked to their irides, looked for semblance of soul; they blinked
me comfits, jellied in marmalade glass. Tawny spark, firebolt flashes
of older knowledge; we are cornucopia in your hands. Eat us, drink us –
make thou merry ‘pon us, rage of Revelation coughed in musky breaths.
Beware, they bleat from mountain tops. We throw such Jezebels on our beds!
All these piseogs! Pluck the wrong petal, and he loves you not!
Great He-Goat, laughing down from Goya’s wall, his witches tame;
philtre in their veins, eyes all saucers of milk. He will leave them,
lapped out dowdies – He will litter the pit with their shells.
By Jane Burn
First published in The Black Light Engine Room Literary Magazine
There are days when the pain of it
gathers a knot in the stomach
a black ball bunched up
beneath the ribcage affecting the breathing.
Days when the light is weak
yet painful to behold.
And the eyes blink against it
gimleted into slits of pain.
I have felt my skin crawl
and hang wrong on my bones
while the stranger inside my head
struggled to get out.
Some nights are longer than
others, and sleep is haunted
with ghosts and monsters,
but waking brings no escape.
Nights when time doesn’t exist
and the silence
the loud hissing silence
fills with the shadow of the past.
Yet life is so many miracles,
each day teems with unique events
that remain unseen as we march on,
looking for something else.
By p.a. morbid
GOING ON SIN
O sin i
My business daily
With the Seven Deadly Sins
Lust with the Sky
Gluttony with all its pearls on dishes
Envy with eye traffic
To facilitate explosions of creativity
In our king Pride day, livelong
Greed on a fried egg
On the floor of the Rainbow
Wrath blazing medieval shields
Of lives forgotten on a Planet drum
Bucking the Sloth
To begin this poem with a name.
Deadly Sins rise
From the Life’s current
Within the necessities of all the living
From sin to sin biting
As glad omelet from branch to branch
Why don’t we enjoy sins
If we’ll die tomorrow?
Says the scintilla of Life:
It’s lovely the Idolatry of Self!
As Max Stirner said
In his “The Ego and Its Own”
Knowing “the age of the masses”
And in his “The False Principle of Our Education”:
Humanism and Realism
Are the history of the present experience
And tragedy of our time:
There is but one necessity for us all:
“Going On Sins”.
Everyone sins; Jesus sinned also:
“What is lovely? To sin for God”
Cheering us on his way to be full.
In a complete state of sin
One is in a sense with haughty eyes
Pride going before.
O sin i
I sin many a day
“I have yet to ask to myself
What do we use for Lifeboats
When the Ship goes down?” (My)
Woman has in her Breast two lemons
And lower down the devil
Near the lemon tree flower:
I want to sleep with him!
As a little sea boat
I’m coming and going with ups and downs
I’m going away from World
My lust unloved!
By Daniel de Cullá
By Mary Lou Springstead
Acrylic on canvas
36in x 26in
moonbeams become arrows
The moonbeams rise
from the blackness of the ancient
The somber canvas
or the flavour of old sorrows
on the tip of the tongue,
on the trembling fingertips.
Yet green tea w/ thyme
that makes us survive.
There it is
at the edges of fragility
wild thyme becomes panacea.
On the expansive horizon
the moonbeams become arrows aimed
at a merciless time.
By Ali Znaidi