Word & Image by Jane Salmons

 

 

Mata Hari and the Jellyfish

Time bends in the exam hall,
drapes skim scuffed parquet
floor, the smell of plimsoles and dust
lingers. All quiet, except the huff
and yawn of an old, old invigilator
roaming the aisles like a kraken.

Above, carved in oak, the names
of seventy-six glorious boys.
They gave their lives for their country
learnt to be men in the Great War:
E.G. Boucher, C.J. Stirk, F.A. Zinke –
each scratched ink across scripts,
sat at desks like these, propped
flushed, hopeful cheeks in hands.

Time bends in the exam hall,
a cloud of yellow dust rises.
Girls tattooed in mauve and jade
trail pony-tails like fronds of seaweed
in paper pools. Jellyfish pulse,
sea anemones come alive
as a vision in chiffon floats past.

 

 

Jane Salmons is a teacher from the Black Country.  Currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing, she has been published in a variety of webzines and anthologies including The Ekphrastic Review, The Lake, Amaryllis and Algebra of Owls.  In addition to writing poetry, she enjoys creating handmade collage and handmade, handbound photomontage booklets.

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Rob Stuart

 

 

Action Poem

 

Rob Stuart’s poems and short stories have been published in magazines, newspapers and webzines all over the world. He has also written the screenplays for several award-winning and internationally exhibited short films. His website can be found at www.robstuart.co.uk.

 

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Sascha Aurora Akhtar

 

I want

2 b naked

on your regal

mountain

I want

2 absorb

your hand with mine

from fingertip

2 palm, 2 finger

tip

 

 

 

 

Sascha Aurora Akhtar, is a trans-race, multi-dimensional, sub rosa poeto/story-bot. She was patented in Pakistan. Had upgrades in pre- 9/11 U.S.A. Was released onto shelves in the U.K. Her roboto-poetics have been widely anthologised and translated into Armenian, Portuguese, Galician, Russian, Dutch and Polish. Anthologies include Cathecism: Poems for Pussy Riot (2012) and Out of Everywhere (Reality Street, 2015). She has also been part of poetry protests – Against Rape (Peony Moon, 2014), Solidarity Park Poetry – Poems for the Turkish resistance (Ed. 2013). Her most recent poetry collection is 199 Japanese Names for Japanese Trees (Shearsman UK, 2016).  Her story The Nature of Wounds appeared in STORGY in 2017. Women:Poetry:Migration, an anthology (Theenk Books: Edited by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa) is upcoming in 2018 with poems from A Year In Clouds. 

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Colin Campbell Robinson

 

from The Doors – the ghost variations

 

 

Part 3

 

this is the end, my friend

jim morrison

 

11.

 

Here are double brown church doors with iron bolts and studs. Keeping out the heathens, keeping out the just.

Realising he has no memory he abandons himself.

The doors will not open. He will not enter.

Return at night, the house lit, blinded night, his face.

This may be a good result not that there is any way of measuring difference.

Having no memory did not mean senses are not conjured. Events occur as if by magic.

The men with black ties make another appearance, mortality in the evening breeze.

Where has he come from? Why does he belong nowhere?

Home is only here, he writes as if he is at home.

Who wrote the soundtrack to your memory? The songs are all the same. This is our tragedy.

He is not the only one without memory.

On the beach the gardener is lost.

The farmer cannot hoe the sea.

In the barn the sailor hid his fear.

The fisherman drilled for gold.

Is there a season or only a turning?

They cast stones but can’t read them.

The door slams shut late.

 

12.

 

Blue door, white wall: bad cold in March.

How many blue doors? How many white walls imagined? Imagine as being here now or imagined as if in the past, hence nostalgic.

Nostalgic blue doors and white walls discussed by those with nowhere to go.

He came from a culture of shame, not sin. ‘To lose face’ is the worst fate to befall whereas she came from a culture of guilt, ‘to be innocent’ is the ultimate crime.

Words in space as if traversing the universe, planets of meaning fixed in their orbit bouncing their dark light off each other.

The order in which they are sighted determines their reading.

Blank page: the no-thing on which words are printed.

Respect space, respect spacing. Space and time; spacing and interval or, as the Japanese say, ‘Ma’.

 

 

Grey door, burglar alarm. Disc zone.

No one’s breaking in; you’re safe behind the door.

He read the papers. Re-lived the situation, set off the alarm, the red alarm.

Forget to shave or, at least, remembered but didn’t. To shave or not to shave is not much of a question.

Look in a mirror, any mirror. Choose the first face you can think of. Divide by two, multiply by three and the answer is?

Memory in the mist: in the midst of forgetting, in the missed opportunities. Choking on swallowed water, he could be drowning.

In the dream he blacked out and tumbled. When he awoke he fumbled for his dressing gown, steadied himself and made for the door, the grey door.

A slight trembling, a feint fear in his eyes, being incapable of saying anything as opposed to having nothing to say.

 

14.

 

The mourning Gondola plies his trade, sings songs in a faint key. Raw umber and terracotta reflected, the gondola night and day.

Some time since, sometime since a visit, a dalliance, a cruise around the waters.

He reflects on cruising, on drifting. Hand limp in water, eyes opening, closing, the odour and the tragic gondola.

Proceed as if the novel is already planned, half written even (like the bachelors grinding their coffee).

The last glass cracked, no more drinking in memories. They’ve all dissolved in one lemon, in the ice, in the water at 5.00.

– Shall we discuss today’s aggressive rejection of nuance?

– Nowadays the particular is only to be found in the nuance.

Roland and Walter sitting by the canal chatting.

A Place where nothing will take place except the place.

 

15.

 

Is white a colour?

White door. Number 11.

Go to ‘The Three Reasons’ on Gallowgate Street.

Through this door shadows come. This door is a bridge between two worlds: one is known as ‘in the dark’; one is known as ‘in the light’

Once their performance is done they (and you know who ‘they’ are) return over the bridge, which is a door.

In the vision something is oddly erased, interrupted, incomplete.

Tomorrow, ‘The Three Reasons’, yesterday, ‘The Three Falls’, and now ‘The Three Men’, one singing about prison, one reading his news (not ‘the’, his) and the third chuckles at his own wit and erudition.

There is a fourth man but he’s quietly writing in his notebook so we won’t disturb him.

I write on blank pages, my pen does not scratch, he thinks sipping iced water.

What time has he been given? How are the runes, the dice, the book or cards? Once he was told omens hid in the shadows. This is his fate.

All our words are but the work of shadow, figures of our consuming lack, he says.

He reads so he can write. With no reading nothing would be written.

Books are ghosts, they haunt us, he says.

Reading is a discussion between the living and the dead. Endless questions answered with questions, doubts, half theories and fullness.

We speak to break our solitude; we write to prolong it, he says.

 

16.

 

Last night she came, as a child wanting affection.

On another occasion she came as she was in pain and sore with the end hanging over.

Where have they gone those who’ve gone?

Several answers but nothing fits. And she has left us with this and this is it.

Who else sees her and what do they see?

There to the country she fled and now she’s dead.

 

 

The ghosts are (in order of appearance): Roland Barthes, Samuel Beckett, Tomas Transtromer, Walter Benjamin, Edmund Jabes and my sister Jacquie Robinson.

 

Colin Campbell Robinson is a writer and photographer living on the Isle of Bute off the west coast of Scotland. His piece Noir appeared in Ink Sweat and Tears and he also has had work appear in Shearsman, Molly Bloom, BlazeVox17, Empty Mirror and Indefinite Space. Blue Solitude– a self portrait in six scenarios is available from Knives Forks and Spoons Press.

 

 

 

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Jane Salmons

 

 

Dummies

We ride the escalators in pairs
upwards past the plastic palms,
the static rapids. Our flawless skin
shines blue in the half-light, the smell
of palma violets hangs in the air.

We dare not speak, nor touch,
for fear of waking the blinking eye
while above us, through the criss-cross roof
of steel and glass, the planets glow.
We do not know their names,
or if we do, forgot them long ago.

The hum of neon guides us
to our gods – Gucci, Prada,
Michael Kors.  Consumption courses
through our veins driving us higher
to our great design.


 

 

Jane Salmons is a teacher living in the Black Country.  She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing and has previously been published in Snakeskin, I am not a Silent Poet and Creative Ink.  She also spends her precious free time creating handmade photomontage collages.

 

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Emily Wilkinson

 

 

Emily Wilkinson is an interdisciplinary artist and poet based in Shrewsbury. She works with collage, words, writing, paint, textiles and bookmaking. Emily has exhibited in Shropshire and Scotland, and was artist in residence at Wenlock Books in 2014.  Website: https://emilywilkinson.net/

 

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Kevin Reid

 

 

 

 

Victorian Sisters


I.
Hardy. Well preserved. She mothered them.
They found her alone. The rose still kind
on her lips, olive still ripe
on her skin. It was winter.

II.
Her fun faded. Her shadow grew bolder
than her former self. Pale and wasted
with rough play. Her mouth torn,
twisted. Her pallid curls sad pink.


III.
She survived the attack. The loss broke her.
She couldn’t speak about it.
Her trust frozen. Grey. Her love cracked.
The family had kept a pet crow.

 

 

 

 

Kevin Reid‘s work can be found in various online and printed publications including: Under the Radar, The Interpreter’s House and Domestic Cherry. Wordless, an image and text collaboration with George Szirtes, is published by Knives, Forks and Spoons Press.

Note: I was fortunate enough to be guardian of these three genuine Victorian dolls, which are part of the Angus Council Museum collection. They have never been displayed and only kept in storage and I was granted permission by the collections manager to photograph them while in my care and share in whatever way I want. They have since been returned and will probably remain in storage forever.

 

 

 

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