After life

July 20, 2018

here is no bright blinding light
nor warmth of rapturous gods
waiting at the end of tunnels
no uplifting, lilting voices of invisible choirs;
sans seraphim and angels most bewitching
mortal tears cannot capture
the beauty of their being.

There is no darkness or demons lurking
inside a cauldron of fiery spheres
nor sulphuric screams over carnal pleasures
too jarring for the drum
and no appeals for brief release
from biting anguish to a distant lord.

I tell you Brother,
here we are fathered for higher purpose
honed from nightmares of the living
reshaped to be monsters among men.

Sharla Anderson

reading Lolita

July 20, 2018

book and trees

In Nabokov’s Lolita, the sexualised young heroine is pedestalised whereas her middle-aged mother, Charlotte, is knocked down by a car. This paradigm works so effectively and hauntingly because it illustrates, all too plausibly, a man’s predatory, appropriative desire for youth on the one hand, and his ambivalence towards the archetypal ‘mother’ on the other. There are exactly two roles a woman can have in the Lolita universe: she can be scrutinised, idealised, exploited and abused; or she can be scrutinised, mocked, exploited and disposed of. Putting aside Nabokov’s wit and satirical tendencies for a moment, I would insist that reading Lolita is a particularly uncomfortable experience for a woman because the female reader is reminded that, in the eyes of some men, she will always be fitted into one horrible category or its horrible opposite. This is not to say the novel is not great or that it should not have been written, but merely that women readers may receive its messages differently to male readers.

Kathryn Maris
Transgression and transcendence: poetry and provocation

a boy ghost

The ghost boy was the colour of bone, of gossamer spider web, of salt trails of dried tears. He still had his shape, his outline. No one had said his name in thirty years, even though he’d scarred the house with it, carved onto a tree in the garden, scratched into the paint under the outdoor kitchen. Scars unseen, name unspoken. The house had stood for close to a century, waking to kiss the sea breeze decades before, still standing when the red dirt roads had hardened to dark tarmac and the state had stolen the sea from it.

The house called the dead unto itself, and so the boy persisted, him and the others, outnumbering the living. Walls skinned with the colour of the ocean meeting the sky, a driveway of parched and cracked stone, girded with the garishness of bougainvillea and the shyness of orchids. The newest owners had furnished the house with a television screen the same size as a car door, computers in every room, tiny bulbs the size of candles with the glare of lighthouses; ripped out the old worm-eaten flooring in favour of inky Burmese teak. Now, you can do that, strip a house down to the bone, flay the walls from it and pull tiles like teeth. But the marrow of the house remained, so the living never stayed and the dead never left.

On the thirtieth anniversary of his death, a new ghost came to the house.

L Chan
The sound of his voice like the colour of salt

Pier

July 19, 2018

Baroque merry-go-round with its painted mermaids
and the over-exuberant, tinny sounds , so flashy and garish they
haunt my long dark hours.
The black water at the edge of the
Ghost pier lapping or lashing, there’s
careering starlings seeking shelter against
a grey slate sky and waves of predators.
As evening’s inevitability tells us of
the coming threats of night, far from the funfair, grinding to a halt,
the sickening streetlights are ghastly in the yellowing evening air.
Along the streets of rollicking revellers,
you’re seeking something that would free you. But
there’s others planning, lurking, waiting idly
in the shadows.
Among this sea town’s myths of endless partying, fun, this
dark underbelly of chaotic glee, your sudden newfound friends
are jovial, watchful, promising.

The party’s over.
On the bleak beach now with the encroaching tide you’re
vulnerable.
Daytripper, tripped out and tricked you’re calling and calling
until silenced.
Until the waves take your body out from the pebbles, out
from the link between land and sea
entering that Other, shoreless, wild, vast , water world.
That dissolution.

Gina Wisker

words on a face

If you’re just starting out, you need to get feedback on your work and the easiest (and cheapest) way of doing this is by attending a writers’ group where members read and comment on each other’s work. You’ll be astounded by how much you’ll develop as a writer. The feedback I’ve got from my writers’ group has improved my writing to such an extent that I can barely read my writing from before I joined

But what you also need to remember is that writing is one of the most subjective businesses there is. One person’s opinion on your work could be completely different to another’s, so getting feedback from a cross-section of fellow writers is much more useful than getting it from just one person. It’s important to remember this with rejections, too. It’s one opinion. Always try and get more before you change something fundamental about your work. You don’t want to end up deleting or changing something that might not be to that person’s tastes but is literary gold to everyone else

C R Berry
Interview 11th May 2018 for Theme of Absence

Good literature

July 18, 2018

Good literature very simply is that which uplifts an enriches in some way, that which gives you an insight into the human condition so that you understand that we all live in the same skin and we are all heir to the same fears and joys and that makes you want to be a part of the human race. That’s good literature to me.

Harlan Ellison
Ellison on Crafting Short Stories
NBC Today Show, 24 April 1981

Your Feet

July 18, 2018

When I cannot look at your face
I look at your feet.
Your feet of arched bone,
your hard little feet.
I know that they support you,
and that your sweet weight
rises upon them.
Your waist and your breasts,
the doubled purple
of your nipples,
the sockets of your eyes
that have just flown away,
your wide fruit mouth,
your red tresses,
my little tower.
But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.

Pablo Neruda

Fun with Xerox

July 1, 2018

It all started when Johnny lifted
her, laughing, onto the glass,
and as the green beam
scanned her ass he kissed her,
still laughing, their mouths
smashed and shoulders shaking.
He thumbed the print-out from
the tray and adjusted the contrast
on the machine, making gleeful
beeps with his forefinger then
telling her, Hop up there again.
She What if my ass gets cancer?
even as she turned backward,

raised her skirt, which bunched
and tightened over her thighs.
He What if your pussy gets herpes
from you-know-who? 
and they both

knew-who, and she’d flushed at that,
because she was dating Todd
who she didn’t like because Johnny
was dating Angela from another
department at the time
and she’d flushed again,
her ass warm, her cunt hovering
over the inner workings of the copier,
thinking of Angela who wears silk
blouses and would never
do this with Johnny or anyone else,
who would never have herpes.
She knows how mean grown
men can be when they turn, in a flash,
back to boyish. Still, now,
even the whir of the microwave oven
turns her on, the dull thud rumble
of the dryer, the soft click of the toaster —
any otherwise cold, inanimate thing
made intimate by electric current.

Amber Shockley

I think of it as coming
back to myself,
like a second cousin
visiting from the states
As if I’m waiting in
the airport terminal,
hands full of sweat
and a note stapled to my chest
I can’t remember when
I first became a space to be filled,
an empty vessel floating
in between the veil
But I’m starting to feel
like more of a splutter
than a storm,
and it’s moments like
this that make me think God
is just fucking irresponsible
I find myself digging
for my sense of wonder
at the bottom of my music box,
like the folded ears
of a saxophone player,
sitting across the bar
As if I’ll slide my hands
across the slime of my exterior,
slip back into my identity
like an old coat
While I tumble into the
empty bellied passion
of a man with small hands
and an inability to say my name,
hoping I’ll come across
my purpose for life
while drenched in his cum

Kaylene Mary

bruise him

July 1, 2018

I kissed him passionately, I even wanted to bruise him, so that he would not be able to forget me.

Françoise Sagan
Bonjour Tristesse