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: hereRead More
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.comRead More
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.
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
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.
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
All I Could Steal
I traced the line of you:
Said my goodbyes
despite the gale,
imagined your head, bobbing with
as my heart grabbed at imaginary
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,
in the salt wind
and so broke the seal on a bottle of
to drown the lump
in my throat.
Drunk, I stumbled home through
and felt spite
stirring in the spine
of my tongue-
I taunted all the ghosts, and sang
‘When the big ship sails on the alley-
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
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, 2013Read More