Welcome to the second episode! We’re glad you’ve come back. Here we have poetry from Rosa Macpherson, Stuart Jones and JA Sutherland, a flash fiction grenade from Stu Anderson, and video poems from Katy Ewing and Billy Watson. There’s a lot more treats in store for the rest of the day! Enjoy what you find here, and keep coming back.
* * *
I hadn’t really touched you, you know.
Oh, I felt your cool
heat against the openness of my flat
palm; your stray unfurling splinters
of bark; hard hair beneath
my fingers. I breathed your wetness.
But you, really, high up, here, with
the wind; gentle sometimes,
laying on this
I didn’t want to touch you, really,
try to make a mark on you. I
didn’t want to enter
all those woods,
the slow unravelling layers; the dark; the
inevitability. It was enough
around you; outside of you, my
arms wide, the world’s breath
even, deep, touching me, knowing everything
The moment filled me, warmed me,
live through thousands of years, through grown
seeds, sharp limbed
trees rising and falling, an eternal
motion; layered star cycles dying
and birthing, murmuring
silences weighing everything.
And just being.
No place to hang words,
fine words, words that would
the soft breath , just
with the wind through
I couldn’t touch you,
really. I didn’t
want to try.
bones and stardust
against the sky.
* * *
“Did you know that funeral costs have risen 68% since 2004? Die today.”
I took out a whole one page advert in The Times, using the savings that my grandmother had left to me before I killed her. Killing grandma was awful, but if the funeral costs had gone up any higher, I would have had to bury her at sea.
I had decided to join the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement after a dose of the mumps left me infertile (the doctor told me that it was highly unlikely, but take heed: if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone!). On the bus back I saw litter and the streets strewn with human filth, and I decided that I didn’t want any children to grow up in this world.
The rising funeral costs pushed me over the edge.
I started offing my entire family. Before you point the finger at me – they were all old. Some were in the final stages of cancer or Alzheimer’s. I was bringing Swiss hospitality to England. With the way that the funeral costs were rising, the money my relatives had scrimped and saved their entire lives barely covered it.
No one really noticed old people quietly being bumped off until they were all gone. People get antsy when a 35 year old man cashes in his inheritance from every relative in the space of six months.
This is my last will and testament, dear reader, as I stand at the edge of the cliffs of Dover. Do not search for my body, let the fish eat me. And in order to save this planet: kill yourselves.
* * *
* * *
Gove. Cameron. Shibboleth. Elite.: G.C.S.E
Did you have a good laugh
When you planned to sort
The wheat from the chaff
Do you stand, apart, proud, shibboleth
Muttering under your breath
A place for everyone
Everyone in their place
Is it not better
To have a chip on ones shoulder
Than two horns growing
Out of your face.
* * *
* * *
The Virgin’s Song
If you stand on the steps of what we, in Edinburgh, still like to call the Dean Gallery, you can look across at the spires of Gilbert Scott’s great Episcopalian Cathedral, St Mary’s. In front of you, on the lawn of the Galleries, is a large sign saying THERE WILL BE NO MIRACLES HERE. And tucked behind the hedge is the sculpture, The Virgin of Alsace.
The figure of the Virgin is based on the artist’s wife Cléopatre, and the child Jesus is modelled on his daughter Rhodia. Cléopatre was also a sculptor and the head-scarf worn by the Virgin was inspired by one she used when carving, to keep the dust out of her hair. This is the poem I wrote about her.
The Virgin’s Song
In summertime the ha’ar
descends on triple spires;
in autumn, icy frost.
A shawl veils bitter perfume;
shields her from dust
as blossom wafts desires.
Amid the changing weather
and all she once thought lost
The Alsace Virgin lifts aloft
her holy wriggle of a child against
a neon claim that glows
ambivalent, agnostic in the dusk.
She sees beyond the stars, the signs,
the traffic lights of scientific certainty,
a woven, sculpted pattern of eternity.
No miracles? That’s where you’re wrong.
Thus magnified, the child with open arms
– a miracle of love – becomes her song.