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poetry & prose

Christian Ward

Filming The Beheading of Daniel Pearl

Week twelve. The special effects
guy has quit, citing ‘insensitive
subject matter’. Asshole. $300k
down. Maryland is no Pakistan

but between the minaret-necked
cormorants and hillbilly locals
I can’t tell the difference. Week
eighteen. The walk-on playing

Pearl’s Taliban executioner can’t
hold the replica scimitar steady,
doesn’t believe it won’t cut. I press
the edge against my right arm, point

to the dent, shallow as a GI’s crew-cut,
that it leaves. $500k down. The man
is still shaking. Dick. Week twenty-four.
Some pathetic loser has left a fake head

drooling ketchup outside my trailer. $2m
down. My head is already loosening itself
from the neck. I don’t need a gimmick to tell me
this is the worst death I’ve experienced yet.

Christopher Barnes

Joanna Lumley

As runoff to a Srinagar photosphere
the plush larynx grasps high nosed
at Lucy Clayton’s Finishing School.

Scissors in the running stitch of years
back-tacking Jean Muir’s trim –
leggy, lissome, blonde, Bond.

Satanic Rites Of Dracula, Coronation Street,
no morphotic priming besides
how to sky-kick balletically.

Last night I dreamt of Trumped-up hair
on a Nimble unbuttered pillow.

Kevin Simmonds

Hysteria

Gorged & vexed

marooned
artesian

Doctors midwives
hand over fist

unbearable thing

1878
the year
of our Lord:

Dr Vigouroux
his machine

Key to
latch to
lifted door

Hum &
hum &
hum

Tony Williams

Clicks

Collard gave us a load of trundlewheels and took us out on the field to measure distances. I went over the fence at the back and kept trundling.

There’s no discreet way to steal a trundlewheel. You just push it along in front of you. If anybody asked, you’d say it was a project. But they wouldn’t ask.

I reached the Spar at the corner and turned into the estate. Counting. Every time the wheel goes round it clicks, and that’s a metre. Wrapped round the edge of the wheel. Collard showed us. I counted three hundred and twenty-six metres to the Spar from the school fence. Fifteen from there to the post box. Post box to Wood’s house: thirty-seven metres. But you don’t say metres. You say clicks.

That’s what they say in Full Metal Jacket. I watched it with Wood’s cousin at Christmas. ‘Contact with Charlie. Forty clicks.’ And so on.

Lampposts every twenty-five clicks. Eight clicks up the garden path and eight clicks down again when no one answered the door. Six hundred and twenty-seven clicks between my house and the hospital. Four hundred and eight clicks from the hospital to the police station. Nobody stopped me

Ninety-two clicks is how far I ran from Biggsy when my sister slapped him. I reckon the trail of blood was forty-five clicks but the rain washed it away so I had to estimate.

Nineteen clicks past the last house the tarmac ends. Seventy clicks of dusty track. It was hard to keep the wheel steady through the tussocks, but something like thirty-nine clicks to the bottom of the field.

I climbed up on the fence and wanged the trundlewheel into the river. No more clicks then, just the trickly sound of the water. And that’s just right – the river moves but it stays where it is – the trundlewheel goes downriver surrounded by the same patch of water.

Russell J. Turner

on cherche grothendieck

deep in the valleys of the pyrenees
he constructs his tesseract
inverted cubic cross
collapsed into the mundane
four arms to the four winds
driving back the devil
from some perfect world

this is the house that alexander built
this is the category of the incognito
this is the metamorphosis of the sane
this is the geometry of the vietcong
this is where travellers stare into the sun
and write their quest across the sky
and write
their quest
across the sky

Kristine Ong Muslim

Steady Glide

This senseless steering has led you to believe that all skies are created equal, that this vagabond Sunday will last you a lifetime. Whenever you touch down with that daredevil contraption of nylon flapping in the wind behind you, you pretend as if nothing happened, as if there are no broken bones. The half-light you cup in your palm is in the peculiar shade of a stubborn watermark. And just like that bakery boy guzzling sugar when our backs are turned, you make sure that nobody sees you hunched like that, that nobody sees you in pain.

Claire Trévien

Sing Bird

Vile             Birds fried to the wires - electric funambulism
Violins             played by the jaded weaves of a rainstorm
Violins steal             sautéed voices trapped by melted claws
Violin-stealth             – the surprising street-corner orchestra
Violins steal the vows            of a shackled bandstand of brothers
Violins steal the voices             that have lost the page and wing-it
Violins steal the voices-off             with some gin-soaked inspiration
Violins steal the voices of whim             but I’ve seen how their jaws open
Violins steal the voices of women              under stress
‘Violins steal the voices of we men too’             mechanically
Violins steal the voices of women to put in there           as if they had fried in their
Violins steal the voices of women to put in their             cage of shoulders and hips

Joe Dresner

Shortcut

The artifact had a cool clean grain, like the stuff
which embellished my sister’s wedding dress
on that night of our mutual disgrace,
on the very cusp of winter – although,
strange to say, everyone wore cool summer clothes,
mother a pink hat, father a pink suit.
‘One shouldn’t be the first penguin off the ice’,
they advised. ‘The last plate is always emptiest’,
others countered. ‘The saddled horse need not worry’
I said to myself quietly – and no sooner said than
my mother saw that, ‘with one sordid gesture’
all her fine expectations had dissolved
like the last leaves of autumn. My solace?
amid the chaos and the inevitable insurrections,
I reach down and thumb the thingy
in my pocket with the cool clean grain.

Carl Griffin

Deflation

Mines, dozens,
in this field
and the next.

Local craftsmen
expect jobs
to be forthcoming

while their children
pick fruit
along the lanes.

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