Archive for the ‘Come Outside’ Category

The Bathers of the Ladies’ Pond

January 26, 2007 5 comments

Each day before they slip their frocks and stockings off
and naked, slide like knives through satin water,
one by one they shake the chestnut trees and wait
for any peeping Tom or Dick to drop like plums
and scamper bruised and red-faced through
the scratching hedge or squeeze their awkward
bodies out between the fence posts and the wire.

Then all the lazy sidestroke mornings drifting into
breaststroke afternoons, the ladies of the pond take turns
to sit out on the side and listen for a rustle in the shrubs,
a crack of twig, they keep a look out for a glimpse
of collar-white or toecap-brown. Then they take up their
handbag mirrors, flash the sunlight into prying eyes till
dazzled, blinded by the glare, the guilty lookers blunder off
and leg it to the heath.

by Susan Utting

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Two Photographs

January 25, 2007 5 comments
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January 24, 2007 4 comments

I feel like I’m flying. Floating – I’m a transparent helium balloon, the string cut from beneath me; it’s taking me up towards the night. I pinch myself; feeling the tears tingling on my cheeks. My tongue feels soft and velvety. Beams keep appearing when I close my lids. The light rolls around me – a million optic fibres swaying from the heavens. There’s a bleach taste in my mouth. I know I’m back in my familiar place. I am high again.

Tonight – I want it to last forever. I wake up under a Christmas tree, in a room with the dawn warming my sweating skin. I’ve wrecked my brain after a New Year to end all New Years. I hear music playing from the decks, ‘Ghost Town’ on repeat. There are people laughing, drinking vodka, a man turns himself into an upside down crab, shuffling on his hands and feet across the inspiral carpet.

The journey was rough, and now, I’m feeling out of place, sick, just want to open my eyes and be sat in an Oak tree orchard. I need this to stop. The drugs. I can’t take it anymore; I don’t know who I am?

A man with thick black eyebrows takes my hand, pulls me into the kitchen; makes me a Sea Breeze drink. It hits my stomach and I retch. I throw up in the sink; fill it with pints of vomit, blood stained and acidic – no food for 4 days. He cooks up a saucepan with water and a carrier bag of mushrooms in it, with sugar to sweeten the taste. He cracks a joke, lights me a fag. I come round a bit. I drink the tea; black nipples turning grey as they swill around in the sieve.

A girl wraps me in a fur coat, pulls me down to the park, and I have to piss. There are people around, but I don’t care, I climb onto the back of a pick up truck, filled with tools and sheets, pull down my trousers; wet myself by accident. I piss in the wrong place. All over my hands. Don’t know where I am. Lost. Again.

The evil laughter continues. The ground shifts from underneath me. Is this what the Shamans feel like?

The girl with pale green eyes and red hair, she looks after me. But she won’t stop talking. She is my new best friend. Nobody else would bother to pick me up off the tarmac covered in piss.

I sit in the lotus position, try and centre myself, but she keeps talking, at herself, at me. I want the noise to stop. The grass carpet is rolling up and down, dipping in the winds that blow through my hair.

I take my wet trousers off; sit there in my knickers and vest, trying to be sick again, shoving my fist down my throat. I close my eyes, and float up into the skies. Your face glistens from the stars. I know you are around the corner. Fate will save me. From the mess in my head, and damp sweat that rots me in the red brick alleys of Woodhouse Moor.

by Adelle Stripe of Straight From The Fridge

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Even Here

January 23, 2007 1 comment

In the woods wake-robin nods
………. its dark red head and dreams of days
……………….. grown longer, leaving less time
………………………… for sleep; foam flower and violets

towel heavy dew from the backs
………. of their leaves, modesty always
……………….. in mind; and bear begin to move about
………………………… in this new warmth, nosing beneath

fallen logs, rubbing the last of winter’s
………. wooly-itch against beech and red oak.
……………….. At the bottom of the hollow, a sow,
………………………… who nursed her cubs through the dark

months of closed eyes, peers into
………. the streambed, sees in her own
……………….. urgent reflection the movement
………………………… of native brook trout, the hunger

of her patience. Before she can
………. capture the first, her cubs, like any
……………….. young, come splashing, spoiling
………………………… the quiet of the pool.

by Todd Davis (also here)

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Tube Exit

January 22, 2007 3 comments
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January 19, 2007 5 comments

Zzazzip. Old Gladhappy here. Another
year. A window on the Thanatopsis
Express and you the engineer with a
whistle, a party favor, its zzazzip.
“Vamoos,” you spit at the photographer
until photographer gets the picture:
the cowcatcher’s on the caboose, the train’s
stopped, this shot of you with the look of a
Ray Carver under the weather, on the
q.t. about where you’re coming from (the
pane of a phone booth?). What’s there but to dial
O, though slow to do so, to disclose woe
no noble plotter ought to opt to pose;
moreover, was it not John Gardner who
laments, Sure death for the poet is to
keep the wound closed
? Chivas in one hand, Georg
Jensen briar in the other, there you are
incarnate, austere, Sir Carver Gardner.
Holy steak and cake! Holy omnivore!
Great green gobs of greasy, grimy gopher!
For what? For the gusto? Or for “it,” what-
ever it is sits in the gut so low,
drives you to chug and smoke, and causes the
camera to capture by missing it—point
being the point of being’s not to quit,
addict of the rush in hissing, “Screw it.”

by Karl Elder

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Mr. Busby’s Emergency Landing

January 18, 2007 4 comments
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The Crow

January 17, 2007 4 comments

Hester is old. Hester is stiff and brittle. Hester is alive, but only just. The girl takes care of her. She hopes she’s in Hester’s will.

The girl is going to the shops. It’s an early summer day, with a bit of warmth in the sun. Hester is on a recliner in the garden, with a rug tucked round her.

‘You won’t try getting up till I’m here to help you?’ says the girl. ‘You know you get all tangled up. I’ll only be gone an hour.’

‘Don’t fuss,’ says Hester. Her head is in the shade, but she feels the warmth of the sun on her old legs, and for once, she is comfortable. ‘I’m fine. I can watch the clouds and smell the blossom and hear the birds. I could stop here for ever. It’s beautiful.’

‘See you soon,’ says the girl, and leaves.

Hester looks up at the bright white clouds sailing across blue sky on a brisk wind which can’t reach her, sheltered by the high walls of her garden. Nothing of the outside world can reach her here, except sounds. She hears birds sing, but they are not yet used to her presence. They’re near, but not in view.

CRO-AARK. One is in view. A big black crow is sitting on the highest branch of the tallest tree. ‘I see you,’ says Hester cheerfully. The crow watches her.

There is a screech of brakes from the road outside, and a scrunch of metal. Someone’s had a bump. The crow turns its head to look. Hester can tell from the voices calling out that people have come to help. The days are long gone when she could be involved.

The crow flaps, and resettles itself facing the road.

Hester watches the bees in the blossom on the plum tree, and falls asleep.

Hester wakes, but her eyes are still closed. There’s a funny little sound close at hand. It’s a robin, perching and hopping along the edge of her chair. It flutters off to a branch when she unsticks her eyelids. The little birds have got used to her still shape, and are all round the garden.

The crow is lower down in the big tree.

Hester wonders how long she’s been asleep. Her face is in the sun. She’s hot, and her mouth is dry. She can’t get clear of the rug, but she can free one arm enough to hold up a corner to shade herself. That’s a lot better. And it’s not long before the sun’s moved round that bit more, and leaves her entirely. She can drop her stiff arm.

The crow looks at her.

She is tired out with the heat, and trying to shield her face. She sleeps again.

Now Hester is cold. Dew is soaking through her blanket. She can’t feel her legs, and her back is nothing but pain. It must be late in the night. The streetlamps have gone off. She can see bats flitting across the face of the moon. An owl calls. Is she dreaming?

Hester wakes. She is thirsty, and so, so cold. There is a line of light in the east. She knows she must be alert, and shout for help as soon as people will be about. She will listen for them. It’s very early yet. She hears the first bird.

Hester can’t feel much, but it seems as though things are walking on her. It’s a struggle to open her eyes – they’re sticking, and her hands won’t go up to rub them clear. There are little birds perched on her chair and her blanket. She likes to watch the birds, but this is too strange. ‘Go away,’ thinks Hester, but her dry mouth won’t make a sound. She can’t seem to move her arms or legs, either, so the little birds peck about and explore her, and she blinks at them.

Where’s the girl? Why doesn’t she come? Something must have happened… could it have been that bump outside? Hester lies under her coverlet of birds, trying to remember any people, apart from the girl, who know that she lives here. The little claws distract her from her count whenever they land where there is still some feeling, on her chest or her head.

CRO-AARK. Hester has almost hypnotized herself with the names from the address book she hasn’t used in years, when there’s a thump of weight and a chattering of alarm calls as the crow lands in her hair. The little birds scatter in panic. Hester panics too. From somewhere, the strength comes to toss her head. CRO-AARK. The crow flops down to the ground at her side.

Hester works her dry mouth. There was traffic noise, and people going by, but she hasn’t been able to make a sound louder than a harsh breath. A little moisture…

The crow lands on the leg-rest beside her knees. Hester breathes at it, and lifts her head. It looks at her, and hops to the ground again, in no hurry. CRO-AARK. ‘I wish I could make as much noise as you,’ she thinks.

Twice more, they play the game. Hester knows how important it is, but no moisture will come, and she keeps drifting in dreams now.

CRO-AARK. The crow is on her chest. CRAARK. She barely moves. CRAARK. This time, no breath. The beak spikes down.

by Joyce Carter

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Dead Eye

January 16, 2007 3 comments
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January 15, 2007 2 comments

You look straight down
through clear water
to the river’s bed
or all around
where many-angled light
has turned the glaucous Thames
to abstract, shifting art.


In the pub a grey philosopher
studies the air. His hand
smokes behind a table-leg.
He compares notes with the Sun,
his head bobbing and bobbing:
a duck proof-reading water.


Snooty was the word for the swan
who looked down his bill
at coots masked for a ball.
He snorted like a soft fart,
up-ended his rump,
then rose on flaming wings.

by Ian House

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