1972: So Long Marianne, So Long Rosalin
Peering back from an old memory
the face of a girl I once knew
A girl whose existence
had almost slipped from my mind
Once we'd been close
had studied together, partied together
seen Leonard Cohen together
But always as friends – never lovers
You claimed you had a boyfriend
(a hotshot in some city
with a big car and even bigger career)
that none of us ever saw or met
Your trip to my home
all those years later
(I was away, you took tea with my mother)
made no sense – until now
If only you hadn't
always tried to impress
if only – just once
you'd dropped your facade
If only – if only I'd been bolder
and challenged your silly games
But you played hard to get
so I got another
On such whims and foibles
are destinies changed
future histories recast
and a dynasty ended before it began
I can still recall the way Cohen performed that night
the upbeat arrangement he used
when he sang So long, Marianne
…and how you looked, when you smiled
Do they still sit and daydream on the Parkinson Steps?
Past the late night Warsaw Stores at the end of the road
across the street from the Sikh temple by the traffic lights
did the sign in that cafe really say Only one fork per plate ?
Later, sitting round the kitchen fireplace
at the house we shared on the Chapeltown Road
we'd make French toast, drink cheap black coffee
and watch unwanted lecture notes burn in the open grate
as we'd talk long into the night
about back-to-backs, Hunslett legs and the Quarry Hill flats.
You were reading medicine, I was studying politics
but that was the day before yesterday – half a lifetime ago
when we were still so young and cool and wild and free.
We've long since fallen from each other's radar screens
you never found that cure for cancer, I never changed the world.
It's been over thirty years since I last made French toast
– and I don't take my coffee black anymore.
• Charles Christian is the editor of IS&T and usually far too modest to submit his own work. The latter Parkson piece was written in 2004 and won 1st prize in a Ver Poets competition in 2005. We just mention the dates as the piece is currently the subject of a plagarism dispute, having been ripped off by another writer whose – let's be charitable – homage begins…
Past the late night Polish emigrant-run newsagents at the end of the road
across the street from the ancient cathedral…
did the sign in that cafe really say it was cheaper to get take-away?
We'll keep you posted on the outcome.
Christopher Major was one of IS&T's first contributors and now he returns with two new pieces..
Marks on a Mile High Mirror
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Mugged in Malaga
Major lives in Staffordshire where he's training to be a psychiatric
nurse. His poems have appeared in many UK print mags including Pennine
Platform, Outposts, Poetry Nottingham and Sepia, as well as a number of
Blue murder uncovered
by tentacles preaching through phone lines
and women who dance like Fred Astaire.
Spin the roulette wheel
and hope for the best
There is more to life then starving
for a malnourished waistline
as you waste away in a petrified house.
Tumble down the stairs
chase thieves down the alley,
cry behind the wheel
of a car ten years older than the day you were born,
fondle thin with shame in late spring
Being in Devon
we were tired and distressed.
There was nothing about
but lingering locals
who drank bottles of white and red.
I was hoping for a holiday romance
but nothing materialised
• April-May March says “My bio is short and simple really, i'm a Factory Girl from Norwich, England.”
For today, if you like, I'll be a girl. I'll have two hands for you, and, let me see, I'll have brown hair, long hair that isn't brushed and flicks into my eyes unless I hold my head to the side. If it makes you happy then I'll be seventeen years old. I will wear icewashed jeans; I'll carry a windproof lighter, which I stole. I'll even have a name if you want. Why not call me Sarah. I'm not changing my eyes though; I'm keeping those.
Yesterday, and the day before that, I was a magpie, turning on thermals like a black and white kite in air. My mind was small and sharp as a craftknife tip, and red. When I spread my feathers, I could scribble poems in the air, so clever and so sad that the people in the market didn't know that I was there. Before you made me sit and talk to you, before these pills, I was nothing but a pair of wings in the sky.
Before today I was quick as silver, and I knew the secret things that hide among the city's pieces. When I was a bird, I was cunning and magic, and a mystery to the world. Before you gave me a blanket to wear, I was narrow like a dart; I could throw myself at people's heads, and spin away at the very last moment and vanish.
From the top of the town hall clock, the world is flat and hardly there. The sky is a landscape, huge, invisible, made of light and music, with great empty cathedrals and mountain ranges. I knocked my head on an outcrop of nothing, smacked against the gusting morning, and I fell. If you want, we can pretend that I'm a girl, just until my wings are mended.
• Broken things and broken people: a woman becomes a gas explosion; a kitchen knife crawls after a little girl to keep her safe; and an old lady hears her mother calling from a cupboard.
Broken Things is a collection of short fiction by Padrika Tarrant. It will be released in September 2007 by SALT Publishing. Full details at http://saltpublishing.com/books/smf/9781844713431.htm
Who knows what their tomorrow holds?
Why take the time to second guess?
So easy letting now slip by,
Taking from it rather less,
Because our sights are firmly fixed
Upon horizons far away,
And not upon the next small step,
Forwards. Onwards. Seize today.
• Rosemary J Kind was born and grew up in South Wigston and now makes her living as a writer living in Belgium. She has published a collection of poetry – called Poems for Life – with all income from sales goes to support the charity Age Concern Oadby & Wigston. For more details visit www.poemsforlife.co.uk
The following two prose pieces are exerpts from a much larger piece Words are as Wounds, which retells the story of Lilith, Adam's mythological first wife. Continual references to the Bible, the power of the written word and the mystification of the unwritten – or bodily word – frame the piece. In a neo-expressionist style, the piece as a whole has entirely reducable characters, is very intense and focusses strongly on the body. Paradise is the opening extract, Cocaine Compliments is the subsequent episode.
Paradise. And it was you and I with clammy hands refusing to let sweat slide us apart.
You've got your grip on my forearm and about my collar bone; I've got mine on the arms that hold me.
Knees somehow awkwardly clash, breast and chest mash together and we can't stop tightening the bolts on this press, shifting our limbs against, through, together, a part of the other.
Lips. Teeth chink. Tongue licks, lap, bite.
Two cylinders. Two chaotic balls of skin, limb, fit and fight. Turning over, around, beneath, above.
Sweat slides, skimming your skin, sprinkling, tinkling, subordinate shower.
You've got your grip on my forearm and about my neck: my hair snags if I tip the balance; my throat seizes if I lift my head; my body cracks if I back away.
Trap, snare, entangle, strangle.
And thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
God, I was high that night. With you, hitting me like that. Powerful hits. They were new and raw and red and white and beautiful to me in my diseased state. I craved them. Those little, perfectly formed, exquisitely timed hits. They flew up my nose and through my mouth and down my throat and into my lungs and pumped with my heart and then went straight to my head. Your wonderful, darling, amazing cocaine compliments. Give me them everyday, won't you?
Now I hang on, remembering that rush. The euphoria of having you love me. Like some half-starved drug addict I'm at your feet. I'll deprave myself to it. I'm on the floor, I'm in the corner, I'm quiet and good and still and waiting and wanting. How I hate you and need you, with your big, fat ego, taking up all of the leather chair.
A good girl, that's what I am. And won't you tell me I'm beautiful? Skinny? Anything not ordinary. Anything to give me a rush. Have some friend over, they might hit me. Please. Hit me. I'm begging you. I'm wanting you. Dying inside that you don't want me.
How quick they lasted. That pure cocaine. I stayed high for a half hour, then sunk down, drowning once again with the realisation you weren't all-knowing of my self. Or my body. My arms aren't really slender, my breasts aren't pert, my smile isn't perfect. My eyes don't sparkle. Only when you tell me they do. Can't you see it? Of course you can't, I was not naked in this light, in front of those mirrors. I was armoured when you saw me.
And my desire is to you, husband, and you rule over me.
• Helen Dibble is 23, Cornish, works in London in marketing and says “I'm trying to decide if I should write to live or live to write!”
Ed Targett has submitted three poems – Painting Away, Crying and City Songs, which is effectively a trilogy – the product of his 'pixels, sweat and tears', enjoy…
Some staccatto quick steps
And people passing
In night mode:
Hoods up, caps on
Pipes and steam,
Restaurant workers smoking break time
In the dim.
Yellow street lamps
From private frames
In a private delight,
Not far extending
Not much including
Like spoilt toddlers
Clasping their toys
As mother night calls us to bed.
Outside bars with music trespassing
Onto the street
Shaking heads and laughing
In other tongues.
Occasionally a road crossed
White on the one hand and red on the other.
The city swallows you
From the approach on the train
Tighten as you struggle
Like modern military
Get a grip.
Don't fight it
The rain spitting on old streets
Balkan beggars; headscarves and
As I averted my gaze
Clusters of machismo
The girls in tight jeans
Fifteen or so
Somehow, faces look like they are
Chiseled from flint.
No one is urbane
Just jaded, polluted, tired, scared
A casual gesture
Offering the paper you've finished reading
To your neighbour
In the Tube
Elicits a startled jerk
And several seconds of scrutiny before they
There are no ulterior motives.
The city has ulterior motives though
The city wants you as its own
Objecting to the city system
Planting grass on their designated
Are swiftly repelled
No more night-time jams
Even my poems
Have been co-opted
The city hears me as singer
Of official photos
The Metro tells tales of
War and blood in distant lands;
My neighbour's family
Screaming at night
With the caterwaul of stray cats
Acknowledge this violence
And are racked with grief.
The old man,
Is not keeping up with the rent
And the plastic guns of the kids on the block
Echo, like a shadow song
We all fought
– – – – – – – – –
I exist in isostasy
Delineations of you, my monism,
My molten crust.
I love in spite of you
To spite you
Bite and just fight through
These delusions of dualism
Things aren't what they seem
“The problem is with the seeming
Not the whatting,” I retort;
Life is endless and art is
Who wants frames
Eyes are frames
Blue and brown of canvas daubing
A world of colour and cubes
Angles, angels –
“Modern pretence, give me naked women and cherubs”
she says with palpable glee.
Pastoral stultification? Not for my time:
Naked or nude or nubile or neither:
Cloaked in royal purple, Praetorian guard!
There's no debate.
– – – – – – – – –
It's like a trick:
Spatters of steel
Skin cutting flashes of stainless
Heal with herbs such
Flesh wounds in memory
Here with all the
Wherewithal withers not in
Autumnal tints of glamour
Perpetrated with all
Wishful clamour of
Leaves a-fallin and
Now: A crash of
Timber; tremulous and
Juddering such death throes
As betake an old soul like
Breath caught on the
Such passion you
Spatters of collusion
In saline flashes of
• Ed Targett is reading Politics and Religions at the London School of Oriental & African Studies. He is published in torn fragments across small media. He is 24 and married with a small, smiley, son.