Wabi Sabi: Japanese aesthetic. An appreciation for what is broken or thread bare or unfinished.
Most lives are unfinished,
we sit by a window where
puddles fill with repetition and struggle
to end a day, not with the same stare tasking sadness,
but with knowledge of some new thing.
We hear red leaves settle under the dying tree,
if we could stop thinking and winnow out the motors
to hear a cricket spill its night call,
with no end in sight to the evening voice.
The house cat knows to seek
the same spot–underneath the dwelling—
there is retreat and shade,
and in the sea of broken lives,
a threadbare promise.
The unreliable narrator turned up late.
“You know what I’m like,” he said, by way of excuse.
We nodded our heads unconfidently. Of course, no one actually did know what he was like.
The cat is gone. One day already.
The night is grim, the forest dark.
I lean against a spruce’s bark,
Afar I see the lights unsteady.
The cat is gone. It’s all my fault.
I thought that it would do him good
To check out a new neighbourhood
Now nature keeps the cat enthralled.
The cat is gone. But I have hope
That he will soon come back to me.
His not returning home would be
Disastrous. No, I couldn’t cope.
The cat is back. I am delighted.
He didn’t tell, where he has been,
I didn’t want to make a scene.
My state is happy, but benighted.
never judge a book by its cover
but do judge a lover
by their books
When you’re drilling your mind for a little more gold,
Ideas spilling from tangled-web old
Memories catch the tails of today.
The endless to-do’s, and making hay
In case the sun shines on,
Well hold on
Just a little longer.
Sad clown twitches sharp jokes that ached,
Fragile nights, the ideas were half-baked
Of a self-deprecating manner,
That concealed all things and all manner
He dug within,
So they could laugh a while.
Clocked up mile upon mile
Of the ties that are cut with righteousness of youth.
It’s a long, twisted journey, the pursuit of truth.
And freedom is only a state of mind,
Stick with me here, don’t think me unkind
When I say we spend a lifetime settling into a skin
Get to know yourself, it’s all buried within.
Myself and the sad clown tonight walk along
A dark twisted road, the night is long.
And we laugh to the aching and to the breaking,
And sing to the spirit yet in the making.
I have a large knife in my hand
and I’m not afraid
to skin this mother
to sliver away at the
stiff upper lip of a
banish wrinkles, dents and prickly bits
and behold it
cleansed, stripped, unveiled…
If you ask me again
I will plainly chop
the thing in two
while I wonder what I could be
This repast, the fourth of the day
mentally diarised between
broken blinds and fresh air
changing light bulbs and toilet bleach
a stubbed toe for you and an ice pack for me
will be ready when it’s ready…
If you ask me again
I might lose my thread
While I wonder what I am
The uses of a cucumber?
Well, it’s staggering
With a whole one
brought to room temperature
there’s no guilty sniff of an affair
grate it for tzatziki
slice it into Pimms
twist a piece to garnish
baton lengths to dip
pickle in a jar or two
refresh tired eyes
pack on shine
pack on an allergic reaction
This repast, the fourth of the day
mentally diarised between
identity cravings and learning to share
bathroom scum lines and out of reach
a melody for you, a harmony for me
will be ready, when its ready…
I have a large knife in my hand
and I’m not afraid
to dice this mother
expose jellied innards
while I wonder what I was
And when you’re ready
I’ll see waves of laundry
finally dry up
breakfast and supper
mute on Sunday
the last marmite stain
wiped from the wall
that secret bogie stash cemented
to your bedroom shelf
I’ll post off to your house
with a note that says, touché
A Rachmaninoff whirl
the wind and the waves
and black puffins and a black beach
and nothing between us and
the south pole
but this swirling soup.
Let’s stay here
and live in a cave
and at night light a big fire
and remind the rocks
of where they came from.
We can fish with the birds
and roam with the horse
and sing to the sea
and wash in waterfalls.
Feel the warmth of Basalt
absorbing the sun
Listen for ancestors in the wind
and keep on the right side of trolls
and never throw a stone.
I want to keep you captive
Like a book upon my shelf
That I will not lend to anyone
And won’t read for myself
You’d lap this right up, Kitten.
I can picture you performing torture
– all wringing hands and wrenching hair,
poetry and punches –
in the waiting room.
Oh, you’d luxuriate in all this:
the tragedy, the loss, the unloved life
(and that was meant to say unlived,
funny what phones’ll make you admit).
Yep, you’d lap it up
like cool cream, warm milk, thick blood
pouring round the basin
and down the drain.
Why I’m thinking of you, I don’t know.
You’re just something to think about, I suppose,
while I sit on this bloody train to nowhere
I want to go.
One is afforded the luxury
of a jumper and no pants;
sitting on my feet
with a bare bum
makes me feel like a child.
I like to wriggle my toes and
relish the rare innocence
of a naked body;
to curl up foetal around
soft folds of tummy
and nestle down to sleep
in the gap between two pillows.
It would be a pencil drawing.
It would be a cartoon of a man doing a head stand on a surfboard on a wave. It would be sunny. He’d be skinny, wearing shorts and with oversized hands and feet. His feet would be facing the sky, but drawn at enough of an angle that you could read what was written on them.
It would say Soul Tan because the bottom of the man’s feet would be getting a tan; and because surfing and the sun and being upside down are good for your soul; and because Boots (the chemist) used to make suntan lotion called Soltan and that’s what my memories of family holidays on the beach smell like.
Dorelia J. Evans
In London there’s a man, a composer for the broadway stage, who gets every one of his diaries professionally bound. At home, with his wife, he has whole walled bookshelves, deep mahogany, touching the ceiling of his study. And during the day he’ll be writing down the poached eggs he had for breakfast, and the clouds moving through the city, just outside his window, when his wife comes in.
“10am: Dorothy enters. Asks what my plans are (Ha!), she pauses.”
Clicking away in his study all day, you’d think he’d write about interesting things, all the people he’s met. ‘Britain’s greatest living composer’ the newspapers say. But opening any of his books, you can see he barely notices a thing.
sometimes i feel sad and i look
at your Facebook and then i feel
a strange combination of happy
and sad. i crack a grolsch and its
taste is one of melancholy and promise.
i think back to the times
i’d meet you after dark and the excitement that charged
my drunken heart. i think
of rolling down hills
in hyde park and thinking
you were the mould
i’d force my life to fill.
i think of all the times
i’d insist on getting wine you’d correctly never touch, and passing out fused and content.
all i wanted was to cook for you,
to call you
in the faint jaundiced murmur of the barely morning and hear you say “maybe lunch?”
A blessing on October days,
kaleidoscope of trees,
crunch of spent leaves,
withered conkers crooked shapes.
A blessing on spiders’ tiaras,
dew blanketing the ground,
mists snuggling round valleys,
berries shining in hedgerows,
pumpkins plump like cushions.
A blessing on Autumn.
You bought me food I’d never tasted before
So that I cultivated tastes I’d miss
You bought me a website
So that all my work was filtered through you
You bought me sheets
So I’d sleep in you
You bought me pillows
So I couldn’t even rest my head without your help
You bought me notebooks and pens
So I couldn’t even have autonomy in words
You bought me a Netflix account
So when I was watching something, you could watch me
You bought me a trip to France
So I could see worlds owned by you
I think you would have eventually bought me a ring
And the worst thing is
I would have let you
The man beside me reminds me
of Rain Man, or
Dustin Hoffman played, he who
could count hundreds of matches while they fell to
the ground but could not tie his
here at The Cloverleaf Plaza
an entire day can go by
without a single sin:
This day of wanted-signs,
lipstick samples and red onions (that are really purple)
husks of the corn islands
that scream we are alone
While most of us are born beneath
Fluorescent lights: screaming,
he sits in his spot
the sun with each bend of his
A man’s jacket, left at the bar.
She tries it on for size,
pats down the shoulders,
runs fingers along its tweed.
She sweeps back her hair,
makes the composed face
people use in dressing rooms;
a visual grammar,
the language of mirrors.
She looks at herself,
watches me watching her.
How does it look?
You make it work.
The glow fades slowly, shrinking..
as the summer solar sphere dolefully droops under the horizon line,
An unfathomable mass of heat.
As the breeze tentatively sweeps through the tree, against which he rests his back, the leaves flutter playfully like string-less puppets.
Remarkable invisible master.
I place my head softly against his chest and feel the methodical pulse, a beat, repeat, repeat..
Fantastically functional inner machine.
Gazing emptily into the distance, I think, I thank, I speak… Only to say, it’s all about the simple things.
I rarely win things,
apart from hearts,
of which I have way too many,
apart from my own one,
which got ripped out of my tiny chest a while ago,
which is why I have this hole in my rib cage.
calls last orders.
the night last longer?
Get drunk alone again,
Those groaning men,
flock to your ex.
Looking for her online presence.
Less sense, senselessness.
Text message the next ex,
Half expect sex.
Billie is sitting on a navy blue wood-chipped bench and tea is dribbling from her mouth, little by little the entire contents of her forest green paper cup is falling into her lap and there is now a puddle of saliva infested tea soaking through her grey trousers. Her head is raised, poised in the air, watching the old man with the colour grey painted between his wrinkles. Billies eyes bore into his, following Point A to Point B of the sunken yellow valley below his eyes. There are sprinkles and sprinkles of tiny grey hairs resting above his lips; Billie does not know if it is the remnants of a moustache or if it has fallen from his nose.
Billie now stares at all of the man she can see in front her, looking beyond the grey portrait and drilling her eyes into his past life, the life that is living behind every orange white patch of skin, the life that his hidden behind his freckled forehead, behind his tired eyes. Billie closes her eyes for a long moment and creates a moving picture of his life: a man and a woman kissing, tongues drenched spit clinging to each other tightly. The woman is sighing, squeezing his back repeatedly and waiting for his arms to embrace her body – he does not and instead remains rooted to the ground, hands glued to his sides, only tongue moving.
The old man stands, he waits for only a moment and walks away from the navy blue wood-chipped bench. Billie sees the loneliness painted on the grey portrait and sighs, the old man’s past life still tiptoeing across her mind. She wonders who he is and who the girl was, she wonders if he ever did fully embrace her, fully move with her body, fully love her, fully kiss her. She wonders too much for a person who does not know the old man’s name. The forest green paper cup falls carelessly to floor and Billie begins to dab at the puddle of tea soaking through her grey trousers.
Joshua T Howell
“Check this out”
Steven wasn’t concentrating on the class work they’d been set.
“Ben, check this out”
Now Ben wasn’t concentrating, he hadn’t really been able to concentrate since the shuffle around in 6Bs seating plan. Miss Boronsko had made the switch from alphabetical to a more culturally diverse spreading of age order within the year six class. “No more Mohammed’s in the middle” was the chant, Miss B was actually a bit nervous at the racist-sounding-ness of the slogan but persevered nonetheless. Although I mean she hadn’t even said it out loud but you know, ‘NSA’ etc.
Whipping out his new Casio FX-115MS-SC-UH and handing it to Ben, Steven began;
“So you take the number of potential puns about UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s name made on the internet and World of Warcraft.”
“Right.” Ben tapped away.
“Divided by the number of closeted dick jokes ready to go to print by DMG media.”
“Wait, is this going to be political?”
Stephen assured him it was.
Ben continued tapping.
“Now, multiply by the current levels of radiation at the geographical centre, ground zero if you will, of the Chernobyl disaster and add the first number.”
“OK, is this going to carry on much long…” Ben’s voice trailed off has he hit enter.
He’d never expected this, this was big.
The answer? 80085.
Ce matin, tu as dû te réveiller tôt.
J’étais encore dans ton lit
tournée vers le mur
roulée en boule sous ta couette,
j’avais chaud même si j’étais nue.
Tu t’es allongé contre moi
ton bras frais m’enveloppait.
La peau de mon corps
qui était découverte,
a eu des frissons.
On était triste de se quitter,
Je me suis levée,
tu m’as serré fort dans tes bras,
Je n’ai pas réalisé que c’était la fin.
I followed you down, Regent Street
Admiring, assessing, head to feet
Well contoured curves, shiny hair
Tailored skirt, straining buttock pair
Moving level. A firm, tight breast
Careful jewellery, skin sun-blessed
Raised my eyes, nervous, shock
For you my love were a BOBFOC