How to Avoid Giving Unwanted Advice
Hold your tongue still with your teeth.
Feel the sharp white line press down
until it threatens to draw blood.
Slip into the silences
until your head is submerged—
resist the urge to surface for air.
Place your advice in a room of mirrors,
consider it from all angles
as it puts on the finishing touches.
Swallow rhetorical questions whole.
Dissolve in stomach acid without reply
and even then, don’t wait for a pause
wait to be asked.
* Degna Stone visited Newcastle in the summer of 1999 and never went home. Essentially, she's a Midlander in self-imposed exile…
not really choking
just cutting off
she shows me
how to hold
the red bungee
in front of
a full length mirror.
hell of a reach
getting my hand
around her gut
the coin slot.
i'm an iroquois
skinning a bear.
i'm trying to
beads of sweat
sprint down my forehead
into my eyes
as her face
then she goes limp
like mount vesuvius
~ ~ ~
grabbing the bungee
* Justin Hyde lives in Iowa.
Night Rain in Emprosneros
For once the mountains that peer down through the vine at us
like giant scientists, sheer aunts with pine-pocked octopus skin,
vanished before nightfall behind a mat of tufting grey cloud
we reassured ourselves could not mean rain.
But rain it did, in darkness, hesitantly, as if unsure of protocol,
and scattershot, so that you could hold your hand out
and not feel a drop, while beside you the little flame of the oil lamp
was precisely sizzled out. And start and stoppingly, so that
you couldn't tell whether the towels needed taking in or not
and went and stood beneath the separated-out rain, gauging it.
Then furiously, for five minutes or so, or so the vine leaves claimed,
though that could just have been their patter. Glancing up
between the unripe grapes you saw the white belly of the rat
who visits here by dusk, then moved the white plastic chairs
beneath the plaster eaves, and draped them with the towels,
and filled your lungs with the scent of the astonished earth,
that freshness compacted of dirt and leaf and air, delicious
as chilled fruit, then watched the jasmine flowers being struck
over and over, as though the stars were being stung, then lay down
and listened to the passage of the clouds throughout the night.
*Bill Herbert (WN Herbert) is from Dundee, lives in an old lighthouse in North Shields and teaches Creative Writing at Newcastle University. He is mostly published by Bloodaxe and is finishing a book of poems and an anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry.
A poem (with image) from our artist/poet in residence C. Albert.
Flora the Poet
The Meaning of Roundling
With the edges
of our eyes, we catch glimpses
of roundlings peeking through windows.
Gentle creatures, ready to bolt,
fragile with dark traumas
passed onto them.
Best not to talk
in x,y,z. A whisper,
“why didn’t you” or “you should”
is an attack of syntax, a barbed construction
that shatters them. They will run
with the thought,
“It is not safe.”
Once they flee,
the void aches with absence
of oval tenderness.
Sometimes they can be enticed
with soft fruits and scents of fresh
lemon, orange or tangerine.
Feed them colors,
speak in fluted ragas,
The Meaning of Roundling was first published in Mannequin Envy.
* C.Albert is based in Seattle, Washington and we will be featuring more of her work in the coming months. She can be contacted through email@example.com.
Memory plates glide over one another.
Like two facing windows, a hall of mirrors:
slow, shifting images – your infant self
sat in a cafeteria waiting
for something –
by changes in the light.
As layers form, new maps are made; an office block
becomes translucent, weighs less
than a photograph of itself.
Fluorescent strips in a shopping centre
light up the derelict swimming pool
on the other side of the city.
You stand on the high-board: look down,
feet half-over the edge, watching the drift.
* Angus Sinclair won the 2010 Cafe Writers Norfolk Commission. He is a photographer, professional wrestler, and studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Memory Plates relates indirectly to his photographic work in the Locus exhibition at the Stew Gallery in Norwich.
Under the Counter
Stroking fake furs convincing as clever
impressionists, my hand is pricked by
the pine needle pelt of genuine mink.
The coat is no peroxide starlet but a
hooded, calf length defence against
proper winters. Petting it, I recall when
‘a mink for the wife’ was on every husband’s
pools win list. Their cast iron glamour
outliving owners to be willed to daughters.
Now young women clearing great aunt’s
attic strike Marilyn poses before mirrors
fearful of parading them in public, but
knowing their value to less squeamish
tourists, bring them to this sanctuary.
The proprietor beckons me to a white
fox fur jacket, slipped from Bianca Jagger’s
shoulders in Studio 54 now tethered in
a cupboard. We ogle the skin like seedy
punters in a back street sex shop.
* Fiona Sinclair has had work published in numerous reputable magazines. Her
first chapbook Dirty Laundry was published by Koo Press in
Listening to Charles Ives
The street vainly imitates a theatre,
dropped pennies and reflectors footlight my walk
the rumble of a crowd gathers and storms.
Beats rain down and hide in the gutter,
rivulets form around the clutter
of the pavement’s percussion orchestra.
Sticky leather sky.
The air vibrates still
I think of us listening to Charles Ives.
You heard cacophony, I heard the silence
after the tempest, when the bells
had ceased, but their ripples
reached to our seats like
the promise of a tomorrow.
* Claire Trevien is a 25 year old PhD student. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of magazines including Poetry Salzburg Review, The Warwick Review, Nth Position and Fuselit. She is the editor of Sabotage (http://sabotagereviews.com) http://clairetrevien.co.uk