white ink (07134 258796)
there it sat – the numerical love note written on a napkin.
never had a 3 or a 7 shined so bright. even to a magpie.
the 0 swirled like a whirlpool of disappointment, while the
winking eye of the number 9 mischievously giggled at
funnily enough, the symmetry of 8 mirrored her
enviable hourglass figure, but this was not
enough to make him come.
4 sugars dove into her latte, whilst the number 1 stirrer
rippled through the foamy ceiling of her coffee.
Evelyn had never much cared for the 2 step, but she would
gladly perform it with the boy.
6o'clock came and went, as did the regulars.
Tommy and Jane disappeared like the bacon does from
Tommy's plate. (and sometimes even Jane's.)
the fish hook of 5 had pierced her insides, at least
the belly ache felt like it. she slid down number 7 and
hit its blunted door at the end. rejection.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The smell of sour kraut on your breath permeated the room,
as your Budweiser belly came towards me –
the iceberg threatening the titanic.
Your fraying round the edges, old grey y-fronts
are the opposite of an aphrodisiac;
and the disappointment beneath them ever more so.
The young girl of 1971 found you
charismatic, and beguiling, like the ballerina ornament
in my grandmother's front room, that I so
longed to touch as a child.
The woman of 1982 found you
shaking with fear in the waiting room
of the building that gave birth to my girls,
yet still you were my second kidney.
This year sees an old man, lethargic
and unwilling to change.
Beside him, a woman who would
die before leaving.
For better, for worse her vows read.
Yellowish curtains that used to be white
are drawn around me, still endeavouring to protect me
after all this time.
The bed slumps, groaning as your weight hollows it out,
and I sigh as I get caught in the wave.
You pick your Reader's Digest of choice and settle,
as my Mills and Boon gets racy –
The climax of my night.
• Deborah Bates is studying for BA Hons Creative Writing and says her ambition is “to spend my life writing poetry bathed in the sunshine of Tucson”.
Sex With David Attenborough
Have you noticed the way the way David Attenborough says sexual?
He just has to put those syllables together and you're in the realms of two slugs dangling from a thread of mucus beneath a branch, glutinously entwined for hours, artfully backlit so every trail of spittle and glue is captured. You’re out on the Galapagos with the slow clamber, rock on rock, of the giant tortoises, or with the tree frog beating her bodily fluids into foam, her legs like egg whisks, while the males peer over her shoulder like children waiting to add sugar to the meringue.
He might even be saying asexual, not speaking of sex but of its absence and still it’s there in the air like spores, making you sneeze. Bacteria, apparently, swap bits of themselves with any passer-by.
The bonobos are bonking with one eye on the cameramen, a perfunctory fuck, sociable as an air kiss or handshake. When we're not watching, they light candles, take luxuriant baths together and coil in Tantric postures for days, festooning the trees like the erotic sculptures on Indian temples.
The lust of the universe cast in stone.
• Sharon Petts lives in Kent and is working on a novel and an MA in Creative Writing at Kent Uni. She adds “I'm very happy to find a magazine exploring this area. I'm studying with Patricia Debney on the prose poetry module at Kent and have become very excited about the prose poetry form and then very frustrated at the limited attention paid to it. So good on ya.”
Make a berry jewel
In the furnace of your throat
Hold it on your tongue
Hang it in the air
Roll it from there
Into my ear.
Make me submit,
Start to say it
Let the colour of the thought
Fill the air
A hue of desire
• Jessica Flowerdew says “I've always written poems, since I was a child but I've never really been confident to do anything with them. I did an English lit A-level but didn't do very well so I've never pursued any kind of creative writing training. I'm a philosophy student, there are some great literary figures in philosophy – I particularly admire Schopenhaur's work. He wrote brilliant aphorisms, they encapsulate so much and have no formula except their shortness. I've barely shown my work to anyone but your website seems kind of anonymous and I had an unusual burst of confidence!”
There is an army of THEM
over suicide girls
I'm wearing tight Lycra tonight
with a model in drag
deep coma python.
from a stolen armchair
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I asked Henry why he kept a picture of Audrey Tautou in his wallet
he told me that every day he wanted a glimpse of a goddess
Surprised with his sickly strong words I reasoned with him that he keeps a picture of a woman he is never likely to meet
he told me the glorious guilt of distraction kept him on his feet
A jazzy tune floated from the corner jukebox
taking away our conversation
For a moment I was distracted by something beautiful
gripped by glorious guilt
• Richard Wink is a poet and raconteur from Norwich, UK. He writes, he sleeps and sometimes he gets lucky.
45 Seconds and Gone
That teacher with her smiling face, she’s always, how was your weekend? My fist in her fucking mouth, that’s how it was. I ought to tell her, just to watch her eyes, all caring and shit, get real hard and cold. Those soft eyes, that would be too fucking funny.
So this is what I’d tell her. D picked me up on Saturday night, and he was already wasted. We were gonna go up Lukachukai Mountain, just hang out. There were these guys with him. I’d seen them around school. They had the shit, I don’t know what it was, something clear like vodka mixed up in one of those two liter Dr. Pepper bottles. Whatever it was, it got all of us off quick.
Me and D, we go off a little way in the woods, have some privacy. We’d talked before about how we’re gonna do it when we’ve been going together a year, we talked some shit about getting a hotel in town with a nice, soft bed and room service, cause I was a virgin, but it wasn’t like that. It was right there on the ground, those Aspen leaves brown and wet underneath me, stinking wet earth, and D pulling at me and then he’s inside. It was fast, forty-five seconds and gone, and it’s burning down there, and wet, I don’t know, blood or something.
The sky was cold, man, so black, and the stars up there just staring down at me like all these eyes, like all these grandmothers’ eyes. They were looking down at me laying there in the dirt and the leaves with my pants off and I could hear what they was calling me.
D rolled off and I was getting ready to heave so I crawled away next to a tree. I’m throwing up and somebody grabbed me by the waist and shoved inside me from behind. It wasn’t D because I could see him passed out and whoever it was, he had big hands, all rough, and I could feel something tearing, like I was on fire down there and I squeezed my eyes shut so I don’t have to see. Those big hands on me.
When he was done I just stayed there with vomit and wet leaves all under my knees and hands until I don’t hear them no more, but they don’t go. They was just waiting for me.
I put on my underwear and jeans and sat down next to D. He was still passed out, his face half in the muck. There were three of them. They tried to make a little fire, but it just kept smoking, so they sat there and drank out of the bottle and the one in the middle, he passed it over to me again. He had big hands. They just sat there and watched me with their yellow eyes, like wolves.
I ought to tell that bitch, with her soft face and her eyes all caring like she really gives a shit. I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna watch her eyes turn cold like those stars. I’m gonna tell her, that would be so fucking funny. She asks me one more time, I’m gonna tell her…
• Sarah Black has published short fiction at Word Riot, Flashquake, Slow Trains, The Angler, Rio Grande Review; novels with Loose ID, MLR Press; erotica at Clean Sheets and Ruthie's Club.
I saw the last-gasped
written by a shower
of little quills
cooling at the tips.
The tin-god voice
on the radio
sang along with my own,
numb and as low as tyres.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
An eyelash pressed in a book
catches my breath with the clinch
of its perfect line break.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The boyish bridegroom’s button-hole red as his razor-burned cheeks; no top hat, no length in his tales.
• Matthew Howard works in the insurance industry in Norwich and, along with providing IS&T with some much appreciated book reviews, is also reading for an MA in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.