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BURNING HOUSE PRESS

Not For Profit/For Prophecy

The Pool by Orawan Cassidy

The Pool

 

The water in the pool

was not the same blue

when summer faded.

 

Colors of autumn

was a confusion–

when green became brown.

 

Waves of the wind,

Reflection of emotion,

unable to be translated. Continue reading “The Pool by Orawan Cassidy”

3 Poems by Gary Carr

An Expenditure of Munitions

 

Twenty-seven orphans

cleaning and oiling,

polishing up their rifles. Continue reading “3 Poems by Gary Carr”

‘Jem’ by Kate Jones

Jem

 

‘Bet I can climb to the top’, Jem Mason says, round blue eyes burning in a sun-touched, freckled face. We all stare up at the roof of the almost finished house.

‘No way,’ Cory Sullivan says.

‘Bet you three strawberry laces I can,’ Jem says, already pacing towards the gates of the building site.

The bet was on. Continue reading “‘Jem’ by Kate Jones”

An Interview with Helen McClory

Helen McClory is a Scottish writer whose stories are multi-faceted gems, filled with atmosphere, mystery, and vivid detail. I discovered her work through Twitter and instantly loved it. Her flash fiction is collected in On the Edges of Vision, and you can read some of the pieces at her blog, Schietree. Her first novel, Flesh of the Peach, is forthcoming this year. McClory was kind enough to answer some of my questions. In our discussion, we talk about gender, Sylvia Plath, unlikable women, and much more.

– Caitlin
Nonfiction Editor of Burning House Press

 
 
 

Helen, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I am such a fan of your writing, and I’m so excited to have this discussion with you. First, I would just like to ask you some general questions about life and writing.

What are you currently reading? What made you want to read it?

I’m currently reading Alan Garner’s The Stone Book Quartet, a book ostensibly for children (like most of his work) that is composed of economical, brilliant sentences weighted with folkloric meaning. I loved his writing as a child myself and wanted to revisit his work (though I don’t think I ever read this one) because I’m writing a sort of fantasy/folklore novel myself and thought I’d look to one of the masters of the form.

Continue reading “An Interview with Helen McClory”

2 Poems by Ben Williams

Island Nation

 

I stood there and watched

the scowling coast

as rocks became

as liver spots

and waves passed

generations;

grey England’s changing

faces: foam and roar

erased

and formed

new morning’s

golden desolate shore. Continue reading “2 Poems by Ben Williams”

2 Poems & 2 Flash Fictions by Aina Izzah

Less Than Human

 

Get lost,

Less human than me,

I’ll go to sleep,

In thousands of movements,

Under the eyes of heaven,

Amounts to devils I can’t see,

 

I could pray,

For a life more humane,

I should cry,

Hands stained with sin,

And get on running,

To the East, Continue reading “2 Poems & 2 Flash Fictions by Aina Izzah”

2 Poems by C. R. Resetarits

My Eyes

 

My eyes are vexed

not from crying

but from the tally

of sins unwept,

allowed to swell

in dull, blue renderings

just below the surface

of head and heart,

like a tattoo of tears or

a debris dammed creek,

symbols of damage

past the point of

erasure or release. Continue reading “2 Poems by C. R. Resetarits”

3 Prose Poems by Howie Good

Dirge of the Dying Year

 

My first thought was, “Run!” Others chose suicide. Soon I was stumbling around like the bad kids who huff glue. Mothers dumped raw meat out into the street in protest. Sirens began to woo-who, woo-who. I was in a headspace that was pricked with stars I couldn’t identify, 50 by last count and all of them always promising to return to their wandering orbits. Now what do we do? There’s just too much in the workings of the world that’s hidden and unknowable, even by a person with an education. And that person was standing where the bullets began to rain into the limousine. We’re living in a boisterous age. Velocity is advancing everywhere, the walls covered in flames and the flames behaving in ways no one thought possible. I’m afraid of human beings. We run things in the forest while the wolf isn’t around. Eyes that don’t want to close at all times ruin everything, pretty much every word. The sadness will last forever. I can’t remember now why I ever thought it wouldn’t. Continue reading “3 Prose Poems by Howie Good”

3 Stories by Rob True

Magpies, Re-runs and Lost Time

 

Carl sat there, on the sofa, mesmerised by the sound of magpies. Their clicking calls like rattle clackers at a football match in the old days. He watched them swoop and dive, attacking the screaming songbirds, relentless egg raids one after another. Thieving and hunting, blue, black and white blurs. That clicking noise, against the midday silence, soothed him into magic trance. Turning his attention back to the TV playing an episode of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, he grinned at Frank annoying some poor bastard in a shop. But as Frank nervously caused another calamity, something went wrong with the telly. The screen didn’t look right. Carl focused, squinting and, as the soft fuzz sharpened, he realised he was looking at the skirting in a corner of the room. Continue reading “3 Stories by Rob True”

‘Walking Towards Death’ – 5 Essays on Mortality by Arathi Devandran

Part 3: ‘Discussing Death’

My first memory of death is linked to a man I never knew. My mother’s father died of a heart attack before I was born; the irony is that I know more about his death than I do about his life.

The entirety of the man has been reduced to a single black-and-white obituary photograph that my mother faithfully keeps at her prayer altar. Then, there are the stories. The stories of what an influence he was in my mother’s life, how he used to work with the British Royal Navy (this was in the 1940s and 1950s, in a pre-independent Singapore that seems as much of a myth as my late grandfather), and of course, the stories about how he died, and how that changed his entire family’s life.

It is funny, what death does. It slowly morphs to form the central narrative of a person’s life, as if only through death did his life gain meaning and importance and weight.

Continue reading “‘Walking Towards Death’ – 5 Essays on Mortality by Arathi Devandran”

2 Poems by Christopher Iacono

Iconic

 

The half-suns laid in brick —

tan curves on a red face —

close in on each other

but never touch.

 

They will not come together

to brighten the sky.

They will not kiss your face

with rays of light.

 

Continue reading “2 Poems by Christopher Iacono”

The Arsonist Magazine – Coming Soon

The Arsonist Magazine edition 01 – featuring flammable materials from 30 international writers artists photographers – Coming Soon

2 Poems by Saquina Karla C. Guiam

Dream Wedding

 

I.

The dress is white and silk and sheer. Mother puts a hand on her chest, tells me that she is so proud but I look at her wrists and her string of fate clashes with her softness—an accessory out of place with her flowers and stars.

II.

I walk down the aisle covered by a veil of light—the handiwork is flimsy, I know the weaver’s still getting the mechanics of it—holding a bouquet that has been wilting for days now; it stinks of anger and disappointment, pungent and bitter and sour.

III.

My fiancé lifts the veil: I wonder what he sees—I, no longer a girl, but nearly feral, nearly clawing out a ribcage, with lips bleeding roses and charcoal masking eyes. I wonder if he can still recite his vows in the face of an oncoming storm.

I.V.

The rings are the sun melted down to fit both of our fingers. The varnish chokes the air in my lungs. He says I do as he slides his ring on my finger, something in me screams and collapses, shattering into muted petals. I say I do as I slide my ring on his finger, I hope he hears the clink of ball and chain linked around our hands.

V.

The night after the reception he’s in the bathroom and he won’t come out. With the door in between us, I ask why and he said that he did not marry a wolf, he did not marry to be eaten alive. I told him that someone had to, for tradition’s sake. I also said that girls weren’t meant to howl at the moon every night.

Continue reading “2 Poems by Saquina Karla C. Guiam”

3 Poems by Adrianna Robertson

Leaves, Blades, Cupboards (I)

 

Show me your bones.

Tell me what they would say

if they could speak their reasons.

That is your smile hand-sewn over pursed lips

(in time the stitches have disappeared).

All but a card trick—sleight of a poised hand.

I understand this well, all show and no tell—

the body a floor plan of pain.

Continue reading “3 Poems by Adrianna Robertson”

3 poems by stephanie roberts

TINDER OF THE “DESPERATE MAN”

 

selling points include “fairly good shape”

liberal politics a breezy concept of god

checklists presenting

banged-up circles for easy handling

 

into this desperate mechanics turns

the gears of hard consonants

hikes, bikes, kayaks, walks

toils of past-time that toll hollow

now you want a goddess to flame

on one immune to the sting of obsession

Continue reading “3 poems by stephanie roberts”

‘Halfway Up The Street’ – an extract from the novel ‘Billy and The Devil’ by Dean Lilleyman

Halfway Up The Street

 

She stops to light a fag, watches some sparrows fight over batter-bits, left by a slow-blown chip-paper that tumbleweeds across the Courthouse grass.

From the pavement she squints to make out the headline exclaiming Sandie Shaw a winner.

She drags deep on her fag, exhales, puts both hands back on the pram and starts walking, steering around a curled mound of dog muck.

Jean and her sisters watched the Eurovision on their new second-hand black and white TV on Saturday night, bought by her mam the weekend before from a woman at work.

Jean and her sisters gasped when Sandie’s microphone didn’t work at first, and then moved as one to the edge of the new second-hand settee when Sandie’s voice came through loud and clear.

Jean would like her hair cut like Sandie’s, but for now she wears it in a beehive.

She stoops by the cenotaph to pull the backs of her sandals up, and to stop her heart beating fast she sings the first line of Sandie’s chorus, almost breathing it into the mouth of the pram.

Say you love me madly, I’ll gladly, be there.

She frowns, drags on her fag, then starts reading the blackened names on the cenotaph.

For those who fell.

She gets as far as Evans G, then understands these names mean nothing to her, and placing one hand on the pram, she moves on in slow measured steps, fag in mouth, using her free hand to check her hair.

In the mirror this morning she thought she looked older. This is something she wants, and has been practising an older face. The older face doesn’t smile.

She takes her fag out and glances down to her belly and legs as she walks. In her brown suede miniskirt her belly has lost its little pudding, and she thinks her legs have gained nothing after the birth.

In the distance, the Post Office clock looks like it reads a quarter to one, but she can’t be sure without her glasses.

Jean puts the brake on the big old pram and moves around to the side of it, peering into the flaky chrome struts that hold the hood up. Her black eyeliner is thick today, and her slate-grey eyes stare back between curls of peeling silver.

She rubs the loose flakes off and wishes she had a new pram.

When the woman from the Social came to tell her someone had donated a used pram and did she want it, Jean felt happy. She walked all the way across town to a big old house to collect it. The woman who was donating the pram smiled at Jean, but she could tell the woman was judging her.

Jean’s mam warned her people would be like this when she came home with the baby.

Jean knew this anyway.

Lifting the brake with the toe of her sandal, Jean and the pram move off slowly. She still has quarter of an hour until she meets Mick, and Mick is always late.

Her heart starts beating faster again when she thinks of him, and she hates herself for not being strong and calm like an older woman would.

She parks the pram by the bench and sits down, pulling her skirt down lower.

Stamping her fag out, she remembers Mick’s face when she told him she was pregnant. She remembers the flicker of shock in his eyes, the blink, then the grin, the Oh well I suppose we’d best get married then.

Continue reading “‘Halfway Up The Street’ – an extract from the novel ‘Billy and The Devil’ by Dean Lilleyman”

On Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Yearning

I started reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale after the 2016 election. The book felt timely as we, as a people, confronted an uncertain political future. To be honest,  I was gutted by what happened. I was troubled and grief-stricken that a man who boasted about sexually assaulting women, a man who dehumanized every group of people except straight white men, a man who lied every time he opened his mouth, was elected President of the United States. I know many of us are still reeling, maybe we’re even numb.

I decided that I would turn to literature as a way to cope with what happened. Writers give me hope. Writers are always dangerous because they ask us to empathize with The Other and they engage in complex, critical thinking. At least the best writers do. They challenge the status quo. They force us to rethink our assumptions, prejudices, and traditions.

Continue reading “On Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Yearning”

5th Weekend – TJ Corless

5th Weekend

 

We’re in this old converted fire station and Sean is on stage doing a speech about how he draws inspiration from nostalgia and the working class and his mates and how his art means everything to him and how he’s so happy that we all came out to support him. He finishes and the hall full of a good few hundred people erupts with applause and cheers. He jumps off the stage and these four skinny lads get on the instruments and start thrashing out this punky song. Continue reading “5th Weekend – TJ Corless”

‘Safety Pin’ by Frank McMahon

Safety Pin

 

Will a safety pin be enough

To quell the din of racism

And help those on the sharp end of abuse

Loosen xenophobia’s noose?

Are you pinning your hopes on too little?

Continue reading “‘Safety Pin’ by Frank McMahon”

Submissions open – 1st Edition of The Arsonist Magazine

SUBMISSIONS FOR THE 1ST EDITION OF THE ARSONIST MAGAZINE NOW OPEN – SEND US YOUR BEST – CANT WAIT TO SEE WHAT YOU MADE X

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