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‘The Summer Vacation Spent Indoors’ by Sarah Murphy

What a fine weather today! Can’t think whether to drink tea or hang myself.’ – A.P. Chekhov 

Three weeks after I left school for good, twenty-five Facebook messages exchanged in a group chat and eight texts doled out in the absence of Wifi later, a road trip had been planned for myself and a group of female friends. It was to symbolise the Last Summer: our final farewell to school, with the charm of gin and an Angel Olsen soundtrack which was lacking in the leaver’s dinner, in posing for umpteen photos in a lurid eBayed dress, thinking how much less gorgeous than everyone else I looked, and burying my pride in a disappointing chocolate mousse.

“It’s been a decade,” Jaya said as she arrived with Martha and Tess and the others in the road trip cohort that evening, standing in sundresses pulled over swimsuits, the car-park with the huge marina billboard and dilapidated blow-up cinema beside it looking suitably macabre for a adulthood send-off. “It’s been forever.”

“Since you’ve driven?” I asked.

“Since I’ve seen you guys.”

This was not accurate; it had been four days since our last reunion. But ever since school ended, this was how it was: impossible not to quantify everything in terms of forever. Two dollars for a bus ticket to the ends of the earth, please.

Continue reading “‘The Summer Vacation Spent Indoors’ by Sarah Murphy”

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

Part 1: ‘Watching My Father Age’

For as long as I’ve known him, my father has been the strong one in the family. He was indefatigable; during my teenage years, he worked several jobs, survived on three hours of sleep daily, and still had enough patience to deal with an ailing wife and a mildly hormonal teenager.

My father never fell ill. While most of my early memories of my mother are linked to hospitals and needles and antiseptic cream, my early memories of my father are of tireless hard work, and the absence of any kind of disease.

When I was younger, my father would carry me when I was sleepy. I was tall, even as a child, but that never stopped him from swinging me onto his back, hoisting as gracefully as one could a gangly, all-arms-and-legs kid, and striding to wherever it was that we had to go. He would never utter a complaint, he would never say I was heavy, and he would never turn me away.

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

‘Coach House’ series – by Paul Hawkins

Coach House Series by Paul Hawkins

cut-up text

medium: mixed media on found card

dimensions: various

date: 2016

 

 

CH02

 

Continue reading “‘Coach House’ series – by Paul Hawkins”

Five Visual Poems By Hiromi Suzuki

 

asigh_asorrow_asuspicious_mind1. ‘a sigh, a sorrow, a suspicious mind’

Continue reading “Five Visual Poems By Hiromi Suzuki”

‘A Woman Learns’ by Arathi Devandran

A Woman Learns 

 

A woman learns when she is young

That all of her is a weapon

Against a world that is determined

To mould her softness into something

Convenient, hard, eventually,

a disappearance.

Continue reading “‘A Woman Learns’ by Arathi Devandran”

‘Find A Way Of Saying It’ – A Burning House Press Interview With Nottingham’s Henry Normal

Nottingham-born Henry Normal co-wrote the Royle Family, Mrs Merton and many other television comedies, was a co-director with Steve Coogan of Baby Cow Productions and Executive Producer of ‘I Believe in Miracles’, the real life story of Nottingham Forest’s European Cup triumph. As it turns, we share educational, musical tastes and neurology – although Henry has made far better use of his – and it was a pleasure to interview him about his influences, autism, family and future plans, particularly his return to his first love, poetry.  

– Trevor Wright.

 

You’ve recently left Baby Cow and started to re-engage with poetry. What was the thinking behind that?

I worked in television for about thirty years. I’ve always loved comedy, I think there’s something akin with comedy and poetry and it comes down to truth. I think you’re searching for truth in poetry and there are certain things you only laugh at if they’re true. Comedy is a bit like playing a musical instrument, you know when it’s off tune and you know when it’s right. Comedy is exact, whereas poetry requires a little bit more imagination, and a little bit more interpretation. Continue reading “‘Find A Way Of Saying It’ – A Burning House Press Interview With Nottingham’s Henry Normal”

‘Living With Cancer’ – an essay in five parts by Arathi Devandran

Part 5: ‘The Everyday’

I am heading home after a long day at work, and I receive a frantic text from S, a dear friend. She has received upsetting news – the father of a good friend of hers has been diagnosed with cancer.

“I feel so helpless,” S writes. “There’s not much I can do for her, except remain available for her, and provide her support.”

I pause before replying.

I had been in her friend’s position before, of being told things that had made my world come crashing down around me. Of facing the insurmountable task of needing to be strong, even though all I had wanted to do was to crawl into a hole, to hide myself from everyone, from myself.

It had taken me several years to come to terms with my mother’s diagnosis, even after she was given a clean bill of health.

Continue reading “‘Living With Cancer’ – an essay in five parts by Arathi Devandran”

‘Living With Cancer’ – an essay in five parts by Arathi Devandran

Part 4: ‘On Hope’

I could not go with my mother to the doctor’s that day. Something urgent had cropped up at work, and I could not excuse myself in time for her appointment.

The feeling of guilt was familiar, but I had gotten used to it over the years. I had begun to understand that, as a caretaker, as part of a support system for someone with a long-term illness, I had to determine the limits of my capabilities as well. A caretaker was useless if she needed caretaking herself.

And the years of hospital visits and doctors’ appointments had almost desensitized my mother. Almost, because one can never be completely nonchalant about ill-health. But she had gotten used to it, and she had gotten used to dealing with most of it alone.

She rang me in the middle of the day while I was busy with work.

She was silent on the phone for a long time.

“The oncologist has officially declared that I’m in remission.”

Joy is a strange thing.

It hits you unexpectedly, from all directions, overwhelming, all-encompassing, until it settles so deeply inside you that you feel it radiating, throbbing, filling you.

Continue reading “‘Living With Cancer’ – an essay in five parts by Arathi Devandran”

‘Look Up’ by Adam Steiner

Look Up

 

I

Sovereign fires

Crane their necks thin

Hovering upon faultless feet

 

Weary scythes drop eaves

Overlook brothers of sleep,

Taking age to the face of day

 

Above brilliant margins

Drowsing sentinels

Illuminate the mainstream Continue reading “‘Look Up’ by Adam Steiner”

5 Assemblages by Howie Good

Light Buried Underground

 

1

Weeping woman, look up here.

It seems a beautiful day.

Ovals lay eggs. We have flowers.

Even a simple call can turn into a racket,

self-reflection in bright yellow.

 

2

You are different now.

But not bad different.

Just, you know, not like 1999.

Go die, come back, I’ll love you.

Love will save us, love will save us.

Violet hearts run crimson tides. Continue reading “5 Assemblages by Howie Good”

3 Poems by Cindy Savett

hostage

 

red-tailed hawk, I unfurl

my Refrains,

flexing towards the bend in the shadow

 

crouched,

my beak

 

I grip, taste iron in my talons                  (trap set low)

my four offenses lining up the prey Continue reading “3 Poems by Cindy Savett”

‘Until Tomorrow’ by Jordan Lucien Pansky

Until Tomorrow

 

i light a quick cig & have a seat while the rain slowly sets in. a woman begins citing the new words of her god,
the new sunken scripture:

“it’s a new age on planet earth!” before pacing her step & clapping her hands “it’s the eighth day! june tenth, twenty-sixteen. june tenth, twenty-sixteen. i grew up in…”
then she vanishes. Continue reading “‘Until Tomorrow’ by Jordan Lucien Pansky”

4 Poems by Beate Sigriddaughter

 

THE BURN OF YOUTH

 

I stand tall

like the charred silhouette

of a tree that has lasted

through fire, and

I long for the burn of youth. Continue reading “4 Poems by Beate Sigriddaughter”

3 Poems by Jim Gibson

Snakehill

 

We grind keys on sandstone sacraments

(names dates loves and was eres)

Territorially recorded, awaiting time’s erosion

Through nights and days this hide away

For anyone escaping

Something Continue reading “3 Poems by Jim Gibson”

3 Poems by Adam Levon Brown

Funeral Of The Inside

 

My heart died inside

my chest last night

 

I said my goodbyes

while I carved

 

its initials in a tree.

I buried the remnants

in a hole

 

deeper than my regret. Continue reading “3 Poems by Adam Levon Brown”

In By Fire, Tahar Ben Jelloun Tells The Story of the Man Who Sparked the Arab Spring

 

Every fire begins with a spark, a small flame that ignites a conflagration. Where does that spark originate? No one could have known that when Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to his body on December 17, 2010 his act of self-immolation would trigger protests in Tunisia and throughout the Arab region. He was the spark that lit up the world.

In By Fire: Writings on the Arab Spring, Tahar Ben Jelloun writes about Bouazizi in two distinct ways. In the first part of the book are selections from Ben Jelloun’s nonfiction writings about the Arab Spring. In the second part of the book is Ben Jelloun’s short story “By Fire,” which enters the mind of Bouazizi and attempts to capture the nuances of his life. Both parts are necessary and complement each other. Translator Rita S. Nezami’s notes and introductions do an excellent job of contextualizing Bouazizi’s act of protest and providing much-needed information for Western readers to understand the political climate in Tunisia before the Arab Spring.

Continue reading “In By Fire, Tahar Ben Jelloun Tells The Story of the Man Who Sparked the Arab Spring”

‘Five-Fold Symmetries’ by Liz Zumin

Five-Fold Symmetries

 

If I present myself to them

What of their measurement and their avoidance?

It is a survival, a learning to live

A pellicle thin as skin on black tea.

Few poets don’t wear the mask. Continue reading “‘Five-Fold Symmetries’ by Liz Zumin”

3 Poems by Antony Owen

BREXIT

 

“I don’t want peoples’ change mate I want a change for people like me who people like you write poems about that no fucker will read because it makes em feel bad. People want happy endings and I ain’t it”

– Lou, Ring Road, Cov

 

In full view she slept in shrink-wrap popping like a real fire

And she was, she was a real fire petering out in the ghost grey blitz.

In full view she slept presenting a problem in the Al-Fresco wonderland

It’s not good for business bringing your problems from home into our work? Continue reading “3 Poems by Antony Owen”

We Disturb The Air – an interview with Cindy Savett

It must have been around Summer 2013. I had just had my first collection of poems published. It was the culmination of many years of continuous writing. A searing, intense, daily practice of generating language. I had begun writing in the first instance as a means to save my life, and now I had no room left to contain the word. I was emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted.

It was around this period that I discovered the poetry of Cindy Savett. Continue reading “We Disturb The Air – an interview with Cindy Savett”

‘overheard, at a Pittsburgh bus stop’ by Patrick Thomson

overheard, at a Pittsburgh bus stop

 

   her voice has the lisp of the tooth-poor or toothless and the soft silver edge of exhaustion, he goin under that bridge there to score with that trick, Rebecca, with the red hair, shes a trick, she doesnt clean her pussy, none ofm do, they all smell like their pussies Continue reading “‘overheard, at a Pittsburgh bus stop’ by Patrick Thomson”

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