Konstantina Sozou-kyrkou

 

 

 

The Quail 

 

Sophia immerses the podgy quail into a pot of hot water and then starts plucking them. Tufts of brown feathers blanket the water. She then cuts their heads off with the kitchen scissors.

‘It’s Rex that caught them out in the fields over the hill. Scared the hell out of them with his barks,’ Pandeles says. He’s sipping his hot Greek coffee with a sucking noise of the lips. He then exhales with a low groan of satisfaction as if somebody has been rubbing his pained back. ‘I picked them off with one single shot. Hear me? One shot was enough.’ He knocks on the kitchen table with his weather-beaten right fist.

‘You haven’t lost your flair a bit, old man,’ Sophia says. She forces the kitchen scissors along a bird’s back, all the way from the tail to the neck, and pulls out the intestines and the bile gland, careful not to burst it and embitter the meat. She keeps the heart and liver to fry them later.

‘Who’s an old man?’ he says, goggling at her. ‘I can run faster than a 20-year-old. I beat our mollycoddled son at the racing track last Saturday. He folded into two and panted like a dog with rabies.’

‘Don’t be so hard on him. He just doesn’t exercise enough. Has a sedentary lifestyle.’ She rinses the birds in the sink inside and out and then ties their legs together with a string. A bird’s leg has got a tiny, flap of plastic tied on its leg. How could she miss it? Somebody would’ve choked on it. She sprinkles the quail with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano and wraps them in a slice of bacon each.

‘Sedentary lifestyle, my ass. As soft as cotton wool he is, our son. Can’t exert himself enough to win. Just once!’ He raises his index finger. ‘Can’t even shoot a donkey from the distance of two metres. No guts there.’ He takes another swig.

‘He’ll come round, get tougher. All in good time.’ She spears each bird onto a big metallic skewer, piercing mushrooms in between. Now they look like tiny sumo wrestlers. She lets them rest on a pan and washes her hands.

‘Huh!’ He chuckles. ‘I wonder how long we’ll have to wait. He’s thirty already. Thank God I’ll live to be over a hundred and might be able to help him out a bit. I’ll let off fireworks in the garden when that day comes.’

‘Yes, of course, darling.’ Sophia caresses his grey hair along the back of his head and throws the small tag she’d found on the bird’s leg with the Trofis quail farm brand on into the bin behind her.

 

Konstantina Sozou-kyrkou lives in Athens, Greece but writes in English. She holds a BA(Hons) in Literature and an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her stories have appeared in print and online in several literary magazines. Her first collection of short stories entitled Black Greek Coffee is out with Troubador Ltd. A link at the Amazon is: here

Read More

Barbara O’Donnell

 

 

 

Itch

 

Stacks of National Geographics

filled the wardrobe to my waist.

The dust inviting sneezes.

Misaligned yellow spines.

Careless visitors would toss

them back any old way.

 

My fingers would itch

to restore their rightful order.

Oh the itch, manifest many ways.

Persistent chafe of rashes,

result of childhood curiosities.

The itch where my wings should be.

 

 

Barbara O’Donnell was born in West Cork in 1975, and currently resides in London.  She works at a major London teaching hospital and writes in her spare time. Her blog can be found here: barbaraodonnell.wordpress.com

Read More

Ron Riekki

 

 

 

Panic Attacks

 

They’re like swallowing rust.

The tongue tries to be a shield,

 

but the bed explodes.  The best

bet is avoiding the avalanche

 

of thought by forcing a monk

mind set or—what I do—just

 

jumping off the cliff so I fall

sixty stories into something

 

that never seems to kill me.

Thank God . . . and all else.

 

 

 

Ron Riekki‘s books include U.P.: a novel, The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book), and

Read More

Charles Tarlton

 

 

Erasures

I go to great pains to mask the agony. But the struggle is there. 

It’s the invisible enemy.

— Richard Diebenkorn

 

 

He made this image

(carved it and smoothed it over)

expressing it by marks

 

in his mind; wordly and unseen

as quickly written over, stretched into full words

and the marks only at first suggested

 

in his ear she’d whispered — “bird”

(but he wasn’t listening, did not hear)

and he flapped his wetted wings

 

The painted image is just that,

the thing painted, not some standing in.

An adequate description

 

would have to trace infinitesimal specifics

of length, width, and thickness,

pick a shade of color from the chart,

 

note granularity and sheen,

locate it with calipers on the canvas

alongside similar patterns not the same,

 

and on and on the never finished, never ending

depictions,

and then to have just that repeated

 

because it’s nothing else.

When the painted image told a story

we could capture that

 

in words and sentences because

well, narrative is narrative;

but when the painted thing’s unrecognizable

 

what we call a splotch or blob,

oh, it’s tempting to define it

by his exertions painting it.

 

 

 

Charles Tarlton is retired from university teaching and has been writing tanka prose (and poetry more generally) full time since 2006. His wife, Ann Knickerbocker, (http://artistinanaframe.blogspot.com) is  an abstract painter and they and work in Northampton, Mass.

 

 

Read More

Charlotte Eichler

 

 

 

Argument

 

 

Then, your quiet scrubbing shoulders

as bats fly past outside like broken plates.

 

I unpeel fish spines, scrape away the skin

and sticky flakes. Our lists are done,

 

the kitchen’s clean, but the cloying scent

of supper fills the air. Beneath the hiss

 

of steam, the kettle’s rattle, potatoes claw

inside the cupboards, cheese furs over

 

and lost scales still glint along the surfaces

in certain lights.

 

 

 Charlotte Eichler lives in West Yorkshire and has been published in various magazines, including The Rialto, Agenda and The Interpreter’s House. She was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2014. Twitter: @CLEichler

 

 

 

Read More

Nick Power

 

 

 

All I Could Steal

 

From Bidston

to Belfast

I traced the line of you:

 

Said my goodbyes

despite the gale,

imagined your head, bobbing with

the current

through secret

shippingforecast zones

as my heart grabbed at imaginary

cordage

that trailed helplessly

through the moss-

 

felt the tome of the sea

as it lashed its pages

against my carbine.

 

I thought that I might cry then,

suddenly,

in the salt wind

 

and so broke the seal on a bottle of

Jeremiah

to drown the lump

in my throat.

 

Drunk, I stumbled home through

Cammell Laird’s

and felt spite

stirring in the spine

of my tongue-

 

I taunted all the ghosts, and sang

to them:

 

‘When the big ship sails on the alley-

 alley-o…….’

 

 

 

 

Nick Power has recently had perfect-bound book Small Town Chase published by erbacce-press, and is in the process of writing a new collection. He has  had poems published at M58, erbacce-press, The Camel Saloon, Boscome Revolution and Jarg Magazine.

He has worked with actors such as Maxine Peake and John Simm, and recorded their readings of poems from Small Town Chase. They are available to listen to here: https://soundcloud.com/nickpowerpoetry

 

 

Read More

Dan Stathers

 

 

 

The Burial

 

Spring arrived with a thud at the window

and the loose neck of a sudden corpse.

I found it in the mad sunshine, with eyes

snapped shut and wings tucked in;

a feathered grub plucked belly side up.

Its static talons clung stiff

to the breeze as I held its tiny weight

on my palm. Digging through

severed roots, I shored an only grave,

fit for a runt

and placed the prim body

at its cold end. I spilled the mound

over, to clog the pit,

inviting blind slitherers back

to pick down the carcass -

its restless heart still wet.

Now the daffs bow their heads

and the robin waits

on the wall,

keen to beak the turnings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan Stathers is from Kingsbridge in South Devon. After studying creative writing at the Open University, Dan was awarded the William Hunter Sharpe Memorial Scholarship by The University of Edinburgh (for poetry). He likes football and Border Terriers.

 

This poem was first  published in Obsessed With Pipework, 2013

Read More