Paul Little

 

‘If it’s New Daffodils to be Dying in May’

Taking online lessons in how to best greet that
certain someone if bumping into them again
didn’t prepare me at all
for someone just looking quite like that “certain someone”
walking in and disturbing the reading and my beer.

So, escaping out of a window and falling off towards
the scene of our last great failure, I stepped onto
some daffodils
dying in a window box on the sill. It was then my fellow drinkers
suggested the title ‘If it’s New Daffodils to be Dying in May’.

And on reaching the last stanza I sense a colouring occur
an interruption making clear
a simple lyric poem
attempting an escape from a simple lyric poem
in recognising quite a few have been taken in this way.

 

 

 

Paul Little works and lives in London. He has written for Litro magazine; writes about music every week on his blog Going For A Song; and was shortlisted for the 2013 Bridport Poetry Prize.

 

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Paul Little

 

 

 

The Narrator Warns

I became bored with the view
of investing shapes with meaning
when the suspicion arose they had none.

A couple on the grass, their story interrupted
by hilltops, interrupted by wasteland,
then finally to here: nothing but shapes.

The time it has taken, the time I will take
to settle on top of the colours
that run off this landscape quickly

a singular, a boorish, a comedic even
We have been right and not right for some time.
This unfortunate clambering together of words

of wielding a marker to the screen
applying a thick part darkness to the story
under the clock tower I use for eyes,

the supermarket as a body, the museum as a nose.
The little amount of grass left to rectify a smile
and the final toughness in them as a beauty spot.

You will find my hand in everything
I push the landscape far as it must go.

 

 


Paul Little lives in South East London, works in Central London and is studying for an MA at Royal Holloway University. He was shortlisted for the 2013 Bridport Poetry Prize and has had a poem recently included in the online anthology Haiku.

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Paul Grant

 

 

 

When to stop eating chalk

I am watching my niece
Draw on the back door step
With chalk

Squiggles
Almost shapes
Almost something

Going forward
I will have no advice
To give her
About all of this
About anything really

Hopefully she’ll have the good sense
Not to ask
Some chicken-dicked fool like me

But if she did I would tell her
That the dark thoughts
Will come,
My god they will

But
They pass,

Like thunder
Slowly leaving
The field.

 

 

Paul Grant lives and works in Milton Keynes, a place where very little happens. This is perfect.

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Paul Burns

 

 

 

today

the truck ahead has one brake light that works
duck taped to the tailgate of its tipper
where white plastic bags blow around
in the slipstream         he’s indicating
drawing out of the junction, blue smoke
signals at his gearchange     slow decay
somewhere in its metal guts

back of a head with hair curling
round the headrest, unruly silhouette
against the windscreen smears
brake light again
the radio says saturday live
it must be nine a.m

slow white tipper truck     going to work
or wait to work somewhere     parked
uneasily on a site or sideroad
where clouds pull through all day
tools lifted out and clattered back
then sure enough before he’s gone

there’s a little girl with her red coat
done right up       watching this road
impossible not to have seen her
from the corner of the eye
any more than not to see the edges
of the grey sky     the unlit brake light
dancing bags or leaves spiralling
where the truck may once have been

 

 

 

 

Paul Burns lives in rural south Cheshire and works with his wife on their flower farm. He plays guitar and writes when not worn out from carting manure and leaning on a spade staring at the hills and sky.

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Paul Kavanagh

 

 

Newlyweds

The apartment was small and cheap. It was our first apartment. The walls were porous and there was a fug we could not remove. The landlord was supercilious and cantankerous and treated us as though we were fungus. The landlord had been married five times and was now alone. Our happiness was not contagious. We had jobs and at night if there were nothing on the television we would sit by the window and talk and I would say things like: “Everybody wanted to be a brave Indian back then. Nobody wanted to be a cowboy. I mean, there was a family called Cassidy and a family called McCarty and a family called Ford on every street.” We would laugh, we always laughed. One night I thought I had finished the last piece of sushi, a luxury. In the morning I saw the last piece of sushi still in the fridge. Brushing my teeth, I removed cockroach legs. This still makes us laugh. Our penury we found edifying. We lived next to a place where they put down dogs. The dogs were unwanted because they were deemed strange. Many of the dogs were deformed.  I saw one dog that had five legs. We saw a dog with three eyes. One dog tried to communicate with us and we were sure it was begging for our help.  Another had wings. They were fly’s wings, diaphanous. I watched it fly, but it could never get over the fence, it was too heavy and the wings though big were too light. In the morning I realized the dog with the wings was only a dream. The nights were full of the howls. From our bedroom window as far as the eye could see it was a field of concrete. Housed precariously on the concrete were many little huts. The dogs were kept in the little huts until it was time for them to be injected with the poison. One hot night we sat by the open window. The hot air was humming and heavy with the scent of dogs. The night sky was unblemished and we could see the planets. We could see as far as the imagination. The dogs had not been locked in the little huts. That night we watched an array of different dogs copulate until they fell down with exhaustion.

 

 

 paul kavanagh lives in charlotte

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Paul Askew

 

 
The Time I Tried to Work in a Café

The Catastrophe Café.
That was the café I worked in for a few months.
The broken sign bore the tagline:
“Embrace your mistakes.”
The owner was called Jane
and was as accident prone as they come.
You never saw her without
some sort of cast, sling or plaster
showing off her latest mishap.
The walls were decorated
with photographs of disasters,
all the chairs and tables wobbled,
every mug, cup and plate was cracked,
every menu gave you paper cuts.
The kitchen looked like
some sort of bomb site,
a constant mess of dirty dishes,
well-past-the-sell-by-date food
always spilling out of left open fridges.
She’d keep wild animals in the office.
They frequently disordered and destroyed everything,
and she would dance around in the debris
laughing with arms swinging.
I once asked her,
“How on Earth do you put up with this?”
“I adore chaos.
I want chaos to be mine.
I want to take it into my arms,
kiss its lips,
make it blush,
make it squirm and twitch,
I want to make chaos my bitch.
I don’t see why I should be afraid of it.”
The café became a trendy hangout
as Jane’s carefree attitude
was seen as being “Against the system,”
which was totally missing the point, of course,
but we were happy for the business.
I once heard her utter the words,
“Oh fuck.”
I hadn’t thought this was something
she was capable of thinking,
but there they were, those words,
temporarily tattooing a worried look on her
as an error with an order
(something that happened frequently)
resulted in a customer falling
into anaphylactic shock.
That’s when it got too much for me
and a couple of days later
I handed in my resignation.
She responded with frustration:
“You’ll look back on this experience
one day and see what I’ve done for you.
I detest everyone’s quest for perfection.
People need to celebrate things going wrong,
it’s those moments that make us who we are.
Instead we let ourselves be terrified,
never realising that perfection is boring.
I’ve seen perfection. It’s hollow and so fragile
you become too scared to even move.
That is not a life. Life isn’t museum pieces,
it’s organic and complex and sometimes a little dirty.”
“I’m not asking for perfection,
I just don’t think I can handle this!”
“Of course you can’t! I can’t! No-one can!
That’s the truth of it! That’s why we do it!”
(I still haven’t been able to work out
what she meant by those final lines.
Was she crying for help
or trying to make me realise
I can’t control what happens in life?)
 

Paul Askew lives in Oxford, where he regularly performs his poetry. He curates the written content of Ferment, a lit/art zine, and was recently appointed the title of “Sex Symbol of the Oxford Poetry Scene.” By himself, admittedly, but hey, no-one’s challenged him yet.
 

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Flash Fiction: Paul Beckman is taking another train ride


ANOTHER TRAIN RIDE
 
 
As we approached New Haven Station you walked up towards the front of the car, near my seat, waiting for the train to stop. It moved slowly, in herky-jerky motions. You bent down and looked over my shoulder to see out the window. My wife continued to read, but I turned my head and saw your beautiful young face—you were maybe twenty-one, tops. I saw the smoothness of your soft brown hair, the color of a cow’s eye, the same color of my Anna’s hair many years ago before it became the gray and white streaked wrapped in a bun hair. Your hair, with its incredible shininess, turned up a bit at the ends to frame a face—a face beautiful enough to be framed.

Our heads were less than a foot apart at times but my Jew Face was invisible to you, or might as well have been. I smelled your girl smell, your Wasp smell, and noticed your hair splayed across your forehead like accent marks. You held on to my armrest as you peered down the tracks. The almost invisible hair on your very white arms caused me to turn and look at my Anna’s arms.

You stood and then bent, once again, leaning over me, poaching on my space as if it were communal. Your presence implied that by looking out the window you could make the train speed up. And each time you did that I stared at you. You never noticed me, either sitting or staring, as if someone like myself with a Jew Nose much larger and so different from your own perfect little girl’s nose, was not worthy of being noticed. And, there was no possibility that your actions could be misinterpreted for anything other that what they were. They acknowledged my invisibility by suffocating me into my seat.

Those sweet and naturally pink lips, upturned at the ends, had never felt the need or desire to snarl or sneer the way my Jew Mouth had been forced to snarl and sneer back so often in my life. Your beautiful hazel eyes, with long lashes, didn’t notice me noticing you, no matter how long you stayed bent over or how close you came to my Jew Face.

Saying, “Excuse me,” was not tendered to the likes of me. It would be more like me to say it to you as my way of hoping to back you off, to give me my air, but the words remained crammed inside me.

I looked over at Anna again, at her spotted and dark arm and the discoloration right above her hand holding the book, and then I looked at your delicate wrist surrounded by several fine gold bracelets.

I knew you filtered out anything you didn’t perceive to be good and positive and of your world—which to you was one and the same. Other yous, that is all you wanted to see or associate with. That is what you were raised to see—that and nothing other, no matter how close or how many. The homeless and ethnics might just have well been accouterments to buildings, for they were so invisible to you. Yet my Jew Eyes looking through my rimless glasses, resting on my Jew Nose saw those people first.

Finally the train pulled to a stop and I watched as you disappeared into a crowd of your people, not noticing any of my people, of which there were many, swirling around you on the New Haven platform.

Anna patted my hand as if to say “I was that young and pretty once.”

With my free hand I patted her back, telling her that I knew.
 


* Paul Beckman is a real estate salesman, an often published writer (see
website), snorkeler, traveler and photographer. He specializes in the
short story, flash fiction & brief (under 50 word) stories. Last
year his 105 year old aunt and his dog died but he has no current plans
for replacing either.
www.paulbeckmanstories.com

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