Wednesday, February 28, 2007

You Fell Pregnant

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As if I wasn’t already
scared enough of AIDS
and street beatings
and organ failure
and my own shadow
you told me you had
‘fallen pregnant’
but already fallen unpregnant
when you threw
yourself down the stairs
in the suburban semi
bought by your
adulterous doctor father’s gains

I loved you then
and I like you now as an adult
but I still don’t know
how I feel about that
miscarriage
at seventeen
when we were just babies
when I handled condoms
like horses do mouth organs
when we could barely
even enjoy sex
because of the fear the
80s had instilled

you certainly were
fucking nuts sometimes
needy and persistent
and occasionally manic
but I credit you with the truth
if you said you were
pregnant
right before I was leaving
to move south
to study
then you must have been
pregnant, right?
Right?

because
I
always
believed
that
people
should
not
lie
about
things
like
that.

Ben Myers

And I Am Stained

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He began hitting him and hitting him and hitting him and hitting him.

There in the street; amongst the discarded newspapers.

Like a dead fish; like a baby seal in the snow; like dead meat on a butcher’s block; like fresh malleable dough in the hands of an expert; like a nail hammered into a wall.

And like a nail being capably driven, blow by blow, into a white, untouched wall, the image of him hitting him is ingrained into me.

I am stained.

I did nothing.

I walked with the masses; the drones; the rabble. I walked towards Old Street Tube Station thinking of other things.

Closed.

And now in the dead of night; the cars gone; the birds sleeping; the foxes eating; the orange hue of the street lights bathing my small window; my eyes open, he is hitting him and hitting him and hitting him and hitting him.

There in the street; amongst the discarded newspapers.

. . . and I am stained.

Lee Rourke

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Little Love Poem

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with my face
between your legs
and my heart
lodged in my throat
I realise
I have finally found
a substitute for heroin
sweeter and more addicting
than even methadone

even though I know
my current substitute
will rot my teeth
and keep my balls firmly in the grip
of various sadistic clinicians
I still hesitate
because methadone
will never have the power
to break my heart
Tony O'Neill

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sleeping Princesses

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well, back again
after four months
of the little brown notebook.

back again to my fold out chair
and fold out table and
fold out life.

half drunk on the dregs
of different bottles found
in different cupboards around the house.

the girls,
princesses in the eyes
of all who see clearly
the innocence to be untouched
they carry inside,
asleep.

the pages are white clean
it only remains now
for me to muddy them.

Brian McGettrick

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fingers Crawling Under Your Desk

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And so I’m sitting there, beside you at work, with my hand under the desk resting on my thigh and, from time to time, I make sure it brushes your leg, and I make sure that you know it’s my hand that is brushing against you.
There’s a slight nervousness in your eyes with all these colleagues around us.
But I know you would like to play this game.
I know it.
Yes, and that’s that, and now I sit beside you and move my free hand above the table to point to various things upon the computer screen as I pretend to talk about relative issues and points related to the greater scheme of work and what not.
But that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter one bit because, back under the desk, my hand is now resting upon your knee and thankfully you’ve got a short skirt on and your bare skin can now feel the soft swirling of my fingertips.
I do it ever so gently.
You bite your lips and look around you.
Right now my fingers trail a little higher up your inner thigh as you look around to see if anyone knows what’s happening and whether anyone can guess what’s happening under the desk and between those lingering legs of yours.
I keep up my spiel about work related matters, acting as though everything was normal, as we play our secret game under the desk.
You part your thighs some more, inviting me to go up a little higher, and then a little higher up your inner thigh.
Goosebumps cover your legs.
You’re now excited, wet, nervous, and those little tiny pants that you’re wearing are so very damp and your blood is thrashing through you at such a high rate as you’re nervous that we might get caught, by someone, that this secret game of ours would be put to a premature end.
And you want my fingers to go higher…
And higher still…
And higher still…
And my fingers are still crawling up and up your thigh.
Creeping, crawling to the tops of your thighs to where they meet, in the middle, to that meeting point that is on fire, burning with expectation, with need, with a searing sensation so great that you feel that you’re going to cum right then and there from the lightest of touches.
Your eyes dart around, quickly, to see if anyone knows, to check if anybody can see..
Nothing.
You part your legs, wider still, and slowly, surreptitiously, you pull aside those sopping panties for me and offer that frenzied slit of yours, out in the open, for my touch to collide upon.
The feeling of my fingers, my tantalizing and wiggling fingertips, which brush slightly, and ever so lightly upon the lips of your sex.
Here I keep my fingertips.
Right there, hovering.
I keep them there, barely touching; I keep them there, brushing against your wet lips.
Up and down my fingers trial.
Up and down, teasing you mercilessly, deliriously, and inside of you the electrical sexual shots shoot up through you from the entrance of your sex to potently consume you.
And it is all too much, too wretchedly unfair.
You move your crotch a little closer to my touch.
A little closer until my thumb rests upon your clit, which is then held there, slightly, subtly.
Every five seconds I gently apply some pressure to it, before releasing it once again, to make me smile, to drive you wild.
My forefinger then moves, up and down, between your lips, and it slides up and down and up and down so easily due to the juice that’s coming out from within.
A colleague opens a distant door.
Your head snaps upwards towards the sound.
But it is all OK.
No one knows about our little game, no one knows but you and me, and so my movements perpetuate, once again, and to push you back into the sexual trance I just had you in.
You then move your hips and swallow my finger inside of you where you hold it there, with mouth slightly parted, jaw locked.
You are dripping with more juice, so soppy, hanging on every slight movement of my finger, which I now hook upwards and push in, deeper still, to begin and rub it up and down the inner wall of your sex.
My thumb is now rubbing at your clit.
You spasm and thrust your crotch forward once more so your thighs can clamp tightly shut.
Forwards and backwards we slowly rock you.
We rock you in this position; forwards and backwards, gently, surely..
And your thighs are clamped shut, and taking this motion, this movement before you quickly close your eyes and gush out a silent and secret orgasm…
I can feel it trickling all over my hand; a hot and holy liquid of wonderment.
And finally you lean back in your chair, you lean back, and then open your eyes and smile, your body limp, shaking from that silent orgasm that pushed you deep into the depths of dizzying eroticism..
“You’re fired!” You say as I look back in dismay.



Matthew Coleman

The Two Gallants

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Tommy, the caretaker’s son, was literally fucked off his face. He and Mac had sneaked off from the rest of the party, taking refuge in a spare room upstairs. The walls pulsed, the fog had descended.
He was trying to hold it together, through every crest, long enough to crush the pills and chop out enough lines for both of them on the back of the video case. He rolled up 10 sheets. Pinched his nose as his eyes watered. Jesus. Rubbed the rest into his gums as he settled back. Mac slouched forward and clumsily hog-snorted the rest. As each line disappeared Tommy noticed for the first time the words “Schlinder’s List.”
“Jesus man, that’s a bad fucking buzz.”
He squirmed back in the chair, closed his eyes and a thousand random idiotic images played like a showreel on the backs of his eyelids: men on bicycles, clouds, mahogany patterns, laughing fishermen. He clung white-knuckled to the armrests. Things were going amiss. Nothing would be alright.
“It’ll be alright. We’ll just chill here. It’s all good man.”
Neither one of them heard the doorbell ring. Nor the wood splintering as the masked men kicked the doors in. Nor did they hear the hurling stick-wielding visitor addressing the crowd downstairs with the words, “We towl youse fucking bastards tae keep tha fucking noise down.” And in an instant, that felt like a lift descending, the whole festivity turned into a place of weeping and the gnashing of teeth.
As another wave of euphoria shuddered through him, Tommy wondered if he could take anymore. He exhaled. “Jesus man, I’m fucking winged tae tha pishbone.” How about you?”
Mac’s eyes were rolling in the back of his head, he was mumbling something, barely audible, about interest rates.
“I fucking tell ye man, we’re de-evolving. It’s all going fucking backwards man. I know it, I can feel it happening man,” Tommy elaborated, more panic-stricken with each word. He suddenly shot up. “Skins man, have you any skins?”
Mac didn’t answer. What had once been Mac had floated off long ago, perhaps never to return. The shell that was left was preoccupied with chewing its lips.
“Fucksake! We’ll have to go for some.”
As they swayed downstairs some commotion was going on in the living room,
“Sack this man, let’s go.”
As they left they noticed the taxi parked in front, the engine still running. They got into the back.
Five minutes later the driver got in, lobbing what was once a speaker into the backseat. Another got into the passenger seat placing the hurling stick at his feet. Both paused and then slowly turned heads to look in the back.
“The nearest petrol station, lads. And make it quick.”

Darran Anderson


The Five Day Week Is Impossible

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I awoke, rubbed my eyes, and concluded the sun was rising
For although the room was dark a couple of sunbeams were filtering through two holes in the ragged curtains
I sat up and felt dizzy, reached down the side of the bed and found a beer bottle from the previous nights drinking
I took a swig, it tasted like shit, the beer was flat, but I still felt vaguely pissed, which was a minor consolation
I glanced at the clock on the wall; it was a quarter to six and I was due to start work at six
“Fuck that bollocks,” I thought defiantly, rising from the bed like a knocked down boxer from the canvas
Then I reeled and rocked into the kitchen and only stopped myself from falling over by opening the fridge door with an outstretched arm
There were still two beers left inside the fridge, I grabbed one, undid the cap with the use of my teeth and drank a large amount
Feeling good again I swayed back into the living room, sat down on the settee, and contemplated life
This is what I came up with
The five-day week is impossible, if there is a god he is indifferent, mankind are basically scum
Humanity is a portrait of hell and we are born to suffer, those who think otherwise are deluding themselves
Drugs are an artificial void; sex a shallow grave
Reality is an illusion and everything else is just a drop in the ocean of eternity
Somehow I felt detached from everything and everyone
I remembered when I was a child, how the children had danced and sang
“Life won’t get us,” we screamed
But bereft of any other conclusion we became like all the rest
Housewives, postmen, bank clerks, doctors, dishwashers, sales assistants, drug addicts
Drunkards, paedophiles, wife beaters, refuse collectors, traffic wardens, pimps, ponces
Prostitutes, rent boys, pop stars, gangsters, prime ministers, hustlers and dullards
Death, I concluded seemed the only rational outcome
To the absurdity of the situation
Outside the sun was fast vanishing behind dark grey ominous clouds
I finished the bottle I was drinking and got up to get the last beer in the fridge

Joseph Ridgwell

Just Like He Said

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billy told me
“poets lie too much”
and when i saw
him read
in the sweating basement
of a wooden box
on farringdon road
i tried to piece
together
what was real
and what was a lie

how different could he be
from sans serif print
on faded paper, brown?

i imagined him
to be cursing, kicking,
spilling fresh blood,
spewing rage
a drunken misogynist
a bastard
a fool

but listening to him sing
where did you sleep
last night?
and other forgotten diamonds
from the vaults
of son house
i saw what he really was.

in his watering eyes
a hundred cracked emotions
pain and hurt and love
splattered through his pupils
hurling colour and words
and music
onto vacant faces, rapt

he showed me his key ring
- a gift from dan fante
brass, pointed, like a star
11 years off the wagon
a medal from LA, AA

“i’m just a hippy”
he proclaimed
who hid from
legions of cruel
vicious women
retracting into
terraced houses of
chatham’s black
and bruised
warming arms
Adelle Stripe

When The Bailiffs Came

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At twelve o'clock the bailiffs came.
They took the TV, the computer and
the microwave, I think.

Not much, I know.

But for some reason the sudden disappearance
of these minor things has stuck in my head.
Perhaps because they were the first to go;
perhaps because they were not the last.
Next time all that was left behind was an old,
beaten-up, wax proofed overcoat on the back
of a broken dining table chair.
It seemed much like my parent's decisions:
so important in the moment, but of little
consequence, just after twelve o'clock,
when the bailiffs came.
CJ Underwood

Harold

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This morning a man sat next to me on the bus and he smelt of yoghurt. Specifically, strawberry yoghurt. Even more specifically, he smelt of strawberry flavoured Yoplait, the strawberry flavoured yogurt drink. "All the health and goodness of yogurt with the delicious blended creaminess of Yoplait®. It is so good."

I didn't see him, I didn't look. I kept my eyes trained on looking out of the window and even managed to avoid looking at his reflection.

But I knew; I could feel from the amount of space that he was taking up on the seat next to me that he was very large. I knew that his skin would be pudgy, white - almost translucent, cool and slightly clammy to touch. If you pressed your fingers into the skin of his cheek it would sink into the soft fleshiness like dough. The smell was like children, children in the playground with their wet, sticky fingers and milky-yogurt sicky smell. I knew that he was watery, and would be insipid and wet-lipped. He would be wearing a navy zip-up coat and flakes of dandruff would speckle his shoulders. He would wear sensible, black, easy-care trousers, which once came from Marks & Spencer, but he bought them in a charity shop for £1.50 five years ago. On the right leg of the trousers was a drying white droplet stain, crusting, from the carton of Yoplait that he had drunk for breakfast that morning.

He likes to treat himself to Yoplait for breakfast. It's made from yoghurt so it must be good for him, and he's not too good with solid foods too early in the morning, it upsets his delicate digestion. Unless, of course, it is on the weekend when he treats himself to a full English breakfast at the cafe on Stratford High Street.

On Thursday night he goes to Lidl and does all his shopping for the week; he used to get a Family pack of Yoplait even though he doesn't have a Family. Now he gets the New Easy to Store Fridge Pack. "The only thing more delicious than one cup of Yoplait yogurt is EIGHT!"

He drinks his Yoplait at 7.30am after he has fed Samson, his mackerel tabby cat. Then he washes and shaves himself and walks to St. Anne's Church at Limehouse where he gets the number 15 or 115 bus whatever comes first, although he prefers the number 15. Every day he sees the same two men walking their dogs. They look like they might sleep rough, but one has a Yorkshire Terrier and one has a West Highland White Terrier, which doesn't seem quite right for tramps; tramps have mongrels, everyone knows that. Every day he walks through the park and sees the men sitting on a bench talking and their dogs running around shitting on the crocuses which have just started to come up among the few remaining gravestones.

He gets the bus to right outside the job centre at the top of Commercial Road. He arrives at 8.45am and waits for it to open at 9 O’clock precisely. Sometimes the people who open the job centre are late and that annoys him.



Lisa Payne

Bulletins From The Edge (Clang!)

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‘the moon is a white bowl in a sky that is black clear and danced with stars’

MAN!
the CLANG
of a
thick bottomed glass
SLAMMED down
on a tile fire place
is a
grateful organic RINGGG!

I do it again
LAUGHING nearly SCREAMING
in infantile delight!
and again I do it
and
then help comes
and
there is an ugly scene . . .

and
later I recreate that
glorious CLANG,
all unstable I am,
going RINGGG
with a thick bottomed shot glass
in my bedroom

where

I REFUSE to sleep
playing in almost
infantile delight

where

you can crawl in
through the
hole in the ceiling

and

I stand empty
whisky bottles
upside down
by the gas fire
to heat me enough booze
for
another shot or two
going CLANG
and CLANG
as
ice in shards
fly about
to stick and melt
and tickle
on my arms

it's Wednesday;
it's January;
and
it's 2007;
it’s the FUTURE I gasp
in infantile delight
then
CLANG and CLANG
and
LAUGHTER

I am listening to Arthur Lee;
his sometimes
EXISTENTIALIST
and
his sometimes
GENIUS
and
his sometimes
MASTERPIECE
plays, squeaking, out the player
and
I CLANG along,
unstable,
delighted with the tile fireplace
and
LAUGHTER
because it all works
in a way
it all works . . .

these are
BULLETINS from the EDGE
like the cigarettes
I coax alight
in the quiet roar
of indoor fire

I have
HUNCKE
for breakfast
and
I have
BUKOWSKI
on the toilet
and
I have
FAULKNER
at work
and
I have
ELLIS
at night

it's all plain addiction
(CLANG!)
and
only
WORK gets in the way
or
only
WORK saves me
because, unstable,
I am still going CLANG
and marvelling
with child’s glee
at the organic
RINGGG!

one day
I can die in the wooden walls
and
this will seem exciting
then
but
this will
be
the PAST
then
(CLANG!!)

Ford Dagenham

Wired

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When I am screaming FUCK through the windshield of my car
Or pounding my bloodied fists into anything,
Anyone,
Sometimes,
The world just makes sense to me,
And for a moment,
I understand why Mr Ferengi beats his wife happily in the house next door,
Or why little James from down the street carries a shotgun to school.
I understand Lima Kahn, mother of four, blowing herself up in a shopping store.

When she screams at me and storms out into the night or
When the crowds in the streets push and pull at me or the bus is late
And my boss gives me one more warning or the credit company calls me up.
I can feel it, I can feel it all and I understand.
When those two kids had enough
And took in their final bowling game before
walking down the school halls of Columbine
I understood and I empathised.
I understand the drunk with the vomit crucified on his face,
I understand all the suicides and all the murders and all the sadness and anger
This life bestows on us like a crown of thorns.

Mark Vanner ft Stephen J Golds

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lost Elation

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Heavy feet ran through cornfields, black
racing through winds, ears flicking chins
in the middle the circle lay flat, face down
optic fibre stars glistened from sky

racing through winds, ears upon chin
20/20 kisses, bruised on the neck
optic fibre stars shook from sky
chasing black dogs through cemetery gates

20/20 orange, bruised on the neck
crushing flower beds on york city walls
black dogs chased through cemetery gates
microdot heaven, sweet fucking sixteen

flower beds crushed on york city walls
gallons of piss, last bus home
microdot hell, sweet fucking sixteen
as lost boys dreamed of dj luigi

gallons of piss, last bus to leeds
imaginary fights with imaginary men
lost boys danced to huggy in the gallery
6AM return, eyes became pinned

imaginary fights with imaginary men
man mountain scaum, 6 breakfasts a day
6AM start, grey sweat, eyes pinned
live for the weekend, the northern cliché

man mountain scaum, 30 pints a day
dragon chased out of acid house wake
live for the weekend, the old man’s cliché
william hill got richer by the week

dragon chased fast through car park spotlights
william hill’s wallet, overstuffed, overweight
in the middle the circle lay flat, face down
as heavy feet ran through cornfields, black

london calls – i’m never coming back

Adelle Stripe

The Day Before Yesterday

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I was looking for a quiet place to die. Someone suggested Paignton… Sure, it’s a quiet town – I haven’t died yet though. I was in an empty bar on the sea-front trying to drink away the permanent headache that accompanies living in this town. From the outside, the bar looks like an opium den. It’s intermittently-popular with plain-clothes filth trying to sniff out a worthwhile lead amongst the other backwoods odours. The landlord is a thin Scottish man with a swirl of tattoos around his neck. He’s got a ragged scar diagonally across his face where an ex-wife once hit him with a length of carpet gripper-rod. When I look at his face I can see the skull beneath the skin. It seems to smile. Sometimes. He’s alright, though – mostly just keeps himself to himself. Suited me. I was drinking with a grubby recklessness – dispensing with the pleasantries, concentrating on getting fucked.
The sun set low beyond Paignton Beach and looked just like a festering wound. Now the entire scene was black and white; the soundtrack visceral, sleazy and satisfying. The jukebox oozed hardcore, techno and grunge – in no particular order. I was looking for a girl who wanted to relieve my pain. Searching for casual sex and the pulse of the town. It was rarely a problem here. I ended up drinking with a woman who wrote erotic stories for pornographic magazines. I didn’t catch her name – she tried to tell me, but it kept getting drowned out by dance-static. She told me that she’s 29, but I thought she looked at least 10 years older. She bought me four whiskies and told me that last year she had sex with over thirty strangers. I shrugged and tried to avoid looking into her shit-coloured eyes. She invited me into the toilets to see her porno battle-scars. I agreed and smiled, but stayed in my seat.
When she left for the toilet I stumbled outside to grab some fresh air. I felt drunker than usual – full of tingling, bleak energy. I remember looking up – Paignton looked so fucking beautiful that night. I lurched forward – one shot away from kissing the floor. A shit-load of black prose spewed up and splattered the paving-slabs under my trainers. Bits of sick stuck to my feet. A girl laughed nearby. She walked across the beer-garden, towards me. She looked like a beatnik film-star, an accidental pin-up.
“Paignton tells lies about us.”
She laughed again. I wanted to agree with her, but I still felt too sick to talk.
“You look like you should be famous.”
I wiped the vomit off my lips and offered her a borderline-demented smile.
“Sure – young, gifted and blank … the high priest of Paignton lowlife … famous. Sure.”
She grinned at me with uneven teeth. Her big brown eyes sparkled in the half-light.
“Come on.”
She offered me her hand. I considered that she might be the one to soften my black heart. Maybe.
She guided me through the back-streets, through the photogenic urban deprivation, towards Victoria Park. We trod carefully like cross-town rebels. That night the streets were lined with crippled children playing violins – all playing our tune. In the distance I could hear a mournful trumpet. Small boys beat gas canisters and oil-drums with hands and sticks. I was counting the beats until the night ignited. In the park, the grass was yellow and dry and all of the trees were bare. The stream was swollen, though. It looked fit to burst its banks. The water looked as thick as blood that night. We made small-talk about records and bands. She told me that her brother used to play guitar in the Carjack Fairies. I told her that one of my mates plays drums in Dicklicker. It was much easier to talk about music than what was really breaking my heart.
On the other side of the park we found a quiet bar. I drank beer, she drank gin. We talked. I told her a mixture of untruths and half-truths. She told me that when she was 16 she appeared nude in Caballero magazine – a men’s magazine published in Mexico City. It sounded like bullshit to me, but I didn’t interrupt. I liked the sound of her voice. I liked the sound of her lies. She told me that she also starred in a Mexican soap opera that was hugely successful in Latin America, France, Russia, China and the Philippines. She didn’t tell me what it was called though. I made her laugh. She made me smile.At closing time we nagged the barman for a bottle of red wine. He has the same birthday as me and he’s also called Joe. He relented and lets us buy a bottle off him. We headed back down towards the beach, gulping from our bottle of red wine. It tasted a bit like vinegar. Red wine staining my tongue and throat, I thought it was almost time to exchange deep-south pleasantries. Renegotiate desire. Act out our own stolen soul movies. We are beautiful. We are ugly and dangerous. Sweeter, louder, mutant youth. Later we will be naked and ashamed. It was time to scratch it all away. I lay my head back in the sand and closed my eyes.



Tom Leins

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Contract

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The contract stipulates
that
your balls belong to them.
From now on
your sleep
your stubble
your liver trouble
belongs to them.
The contract stipulates
that
your time is not
your own.
9 a.m.
and you want
to slip it in
as she sleeps
but you can’t;
your balls belong to them.
College education
leaking toilet cistern
empty bottle, still
your balls belong to them.
The dust
the dreams
the music
belongs to you
but
your balls belong to them
Ben Myers

Tight (Again)

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you are ..... lovely

but sometimes talking with you
feels

like a blind owl
greeting a barn
door

or slogging away
at the Oval

after too long
at The Crease

James Nichols

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Widdershins

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It was whilst pausing to remove a flake of skin (to remove a flake of skin in the same way that one would remove a pubic hair) from her mouth, Widdershin’s flaky cock twitching and bobbing by her ear as she knelt on the damp floor by the oil stain in the warehouse at the back of the store that Debs realised there was a right way and a wrong way to live your life.

Widdershins was her Area Manager. She didn’t see him every day but, when she did, her skin crawled. The man was such a creep. There was something about him, something she couldn’t put her finger on, something off. One of the canteen girls said, she wasn’t saying he was a paedophile or anything – but, if it turned out that he was a paedophile, you wouldn’t be surprised, would you?

He had a manner about him, he both skulked and preened, creeping stealthily about the store, trying to catch you out – but when you saw him, when he saw that you’d seen him, a singular breath served to inflate him to five or ten times his original size and height and weight. Once spotted, Widdershins became immense, would sidle, crab-like, toward you, whereupon he would launch in with a garbled story (that the listener suspected had been prepared long in advance, had been recounted and repeated as Widdershins did his rounds, driving from this store to that store, checking that everything was as it should be) – the upshot of which, reading between the lines, was that Widdershins was LIKE YOU, was that Widdershins SHARED YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS, was that Widdershins was HUMAN and FRAIL, was that Widdershins CARED.

But it didn’t convince. Widdershins was not like anyone she’d ever met before – which could be a good thing but wasn’t in the case of Widdershins. He was shabby and disreputable, despite the fact that (they’d learned on the retail grapevine) he wore nice suits and had a nice house in Cheshire that he shared with his nice wife – who was a barrister, one of the good ones, counted Cherie Blair among her colleagues – and their three children. Nobody liked him – that much everyone agreed upon – but nobody was able to quite say why.

Debs was a strange one herself, though. The way everyone flinched and gossiped. She wanted to provoke them. So, despite the fact that her stomach knotted in his presence (knotted and re-knotted, twisted, ducked, dived and plunged), she forced herself into situations where they had to interact. At first, it was innocent enough. She just wanted to make the girls laugh. But then she wanted more than laughter. Tilting her head, laughing at some slippery comment typical of Widdershins, the girls stopped chuckling. The girls started nudging one another. One or two of the older girls – the girls who had long since ceased to be women, never mind girls, the crones – didn’t like it and told her so. Steer clear of that one, they told her in pointed asides. That Widdershins won’t do you no good. Debs didn’t care. She wasn’t interested in good or in bad. Debs was a kid. Debs just wanted to stir things up. Work was boring. She liked being the centre of attention, even if it came about as a result of orbiting the flabby, creaking moon that was Widdershins.

Half of what happened next was a dare (they dared her!) and half of what happened was common curiosity (what would happen if?). She had half a plan and half a daydream. Idle thoughts had recurred as she made her way to and from work on her bicycle each morning and afternoon. Half of this and half of that, circling about her like wood smoke. For half a week she wondered whether it would be today, whatever it would be – today? today? today? For half a week, there was no sign of Widdershins at all. When he did eventually show – it was a Wednesday lunchtime, they were run off their feet – she didn’t have the chance to speak. Her resolve almost gave. He was a repugnant creature. Make no mistake about that. Clammy skinned, bathed in a repugnant cloud of sweat and – was it piss? Her horror at the sight of him raised goose pimples on her arms and legs. But that wasn’t all. The horror served as a catalyst – if she could do this, she could do anything…

A full three weeks elapsed before she spotted a window of opportunity. The back warehouse was clear. The door to the freezer was open. She touched his elbow, said Mr Widdershins, sir? Could I show you something? Led him slowly, cautiously (on his part) into the depths of the freezer (which was colder than cold, colder than you could ever imagine) where she asked, gently, a thumb on the hem of her blue, pleated skirt, if he’d ever seen knickers (she curtsied as she raised the hem, looked up at him with the widest of eyes) as pretty as this? Widdershins stuttered and spluttered. She stood there, the hem of her skirt held like a tiny newspaper, balanced on the heel of her right foot, turning slowly, an inch to the right and an inch to the left. There was a beautiful moment when all she knew was the movement, the world precariously balanced, just so. And then she was pile-driven, rugby tackled back into a half-filled pallet of frozen peas, Widdershins slobbering at her neck, dribbling (she could feel the warmth of his spit in the cold as clearly as if he’d pissed on her), pawing at her tits and fanny like they belonged to him. She squeezed him, once, briskly and then, somehow or other, managed to slip out from underneath his enormous, bloating tumescence.

And that was how it started. And for several weeks, it was fun, in a perverse sort of way. She knew what she was doing to him. Knew she had him balanced upon the tip of her finger. Every day for a week, she allowed Widdershins a moment (he wanted to see her bra – she slowly unbuttoned her white blouse and showed him, noted his appreciation of the way in which she filled the dark blue Hello Kitty cups, saw his eye linger over the freckle on her left tit), drawing him in, repelled by his fetid glance but aroused by her own awful artfulness. One day she was hot, said she wanted him, asked if he knew a place they could go; one day she was cold, didn’t speak, wouldn’t agree to leave the shop floor, told him to leave her alone and stop bothering her or – (there was nothing after ‘or’ but the threat, the implied disgrace, was enough to send him scurrying off in search of her manager, doling out rebukes about the presentation of this or that promotion). Debs was clever. Whenever she blew cold, she made sure to make it up, offering him a glimpse of her belly button (would you like to lick me here?), letting him slip his middle finger quickly in and out of her (saying is my tuppence wet? that’s all for you, Mr Widdershins, sir, all for you), stroking his cock (who she called Mr Porky) through his trousers until he came with a gust and a gasp and rusty rasp.

But, of course, it couldn’t last. Widdershins continued to push and probe, continued to see what he could get away with – and Debs grew crueller, caring less and less what he thought of her but still, occasionally responding with heat to his repeated entreaties. But she was appalled by herself, eventually, felt backed into a corner, worried about what she was getting herself into (what she had already got herself into). Sucking his cock was the final straw. They’d been at it, fucking about, doing whatever it was they were doing, for weeks, a couple of months almost, before Widdershins risked unsheathing his cock and when he did she nearly gagged. Her eyes flicked from his groin to his face in search of some kind of explanation. Widdershins said eczema but Debs wasn’t having that. The fucking thing looked like it was suffering from third degree burns. Or leprosy. Perhaps it was. She said, you look like you’ve been wanking yourself half to death. Widdershins leered, the way he always did at her sex talk, said Maybe I have with his teeth nervously nibbling at his bottom lip.

And just like that Debs fell to her knees and took the offending article into her mouth. She took Widdershins cock in her mouth and she thought, this joke isn’t funny any more. She took Widdershins cock in her mouth and she thought, this will be the last time. She took Widdershins cock in her mouth and she closed her eyes and she thought:

Sucking a cock for any reason other than love was no reason at all.


Pete Wild

Evelyn

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Evelyn
smartly dressed,
one of the few in black,
with big
white cuffs

we
didn’t really
speak
but we
had a polite hug
outside the crematorium
where the wind
came warm off the marsh

she met
us there
with her side of the family
their
trousers blowing
in the warm wind

but later
at home
with the buffet
I did not
eat
she touched me,
she ran
her hand
down my side
as she went
past
into the kitchen

that touch
spoke more
to me
than the words
I heard
in the kitchen
that made me
go into the garden
Ford Dagenham

Tanning The White Band



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her balled up pink underwear
plugs a small leak in the shower stall
meanwhile
I slide down her lash
and look her in the eye.

that hot summers still happen
and quiet mysteries are created by the young
is no surprise
and she is so young
a contradictory cynic
with more love than her heart can hold.

I used to have a sense of belonging
in the place where mistakes are made
but now my lies rest up against her easily
and there’s little left to defeat.

Brian McGettrick

There's A Ghost In My House

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I remember when fruit juice was served as a starter.

I remember the Corona lorry coming round, limeade was my favourite.

I remember chanukka lights on the menorah atop of Volvos driving around Stamford Hill.

I remember Danny Kendall dying in the back of Bronson’s car.

I remember the 253 bus, the ‘Yiddish Flyer’, when it was a Routemaster. “Fares please!” and hanging onto the pole from the back of the platform, dragging one foot onto the road, sparks streaming up from our blakeys. One time we sped past the Rainbow and yelled abuse at Osmonds fans queuing outside. They chased after us, the bus got stuck in traffic and we had to get off and leg it. Me and me mate never told anyone we were run by girls.

I remember girls practicing dance steps in a line at the bus stop.

I remember us all taking bags to clubs, each had a towel and talc in it. We’d sprinkle talc on the floor spin, shuffle, slide, dip and fall back. In the morning my black brogues, red socks and hem of my blue strides all dusted with white.

I remember my dad not letting gingers into the house in case they soured the food.

I remember herring milt, kidneys and brains on toast, the smell, the texture, the taste.

I remember the Beano plopping through the door on an Autumn morning and reading it on the sofa with a mug of hot Vimto.

I remember apple doughnuts at Brick Lane on Sunday, blokes on dodgy corner with shabby sheepskins, their forearms high with watches.

I remember when football managers dressed like geezers.

I remember “Oh! Ori Ori! Ori Ori Ori Ori Orient!”

I remember antiquing 8 hole Dr Marten boots, melting cherry red polish, brushing, then rubbing black into the creases and buffing ‘til they shined. I smelt clean for hours.

I remember twin tubs and my hands red raw from lifting out the steaming wash with wooden tongs.

I remember going to the sea and my sister and I being scrubbed down outside with white spirit to get all the oil that had spilled ashore of us.

I remember the Cod War and Fisherman’s Friends. We had competitions at school as to who could hold the most in their mouth.

I remember sitting on the grass bank outside our class whilst all us lads shouted the theme tune to ‘The Sweeney’.

I remember when the Hammer House of Horror meant an adolescent lad’s best chance of eyeing naked ladies.

I remember video nasties. One time we watched ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. My mate went to the toilet and shit himself at the noise of the washing machine kicking in.

I remember shining pennies and slipping them into the front band of Frank Wright loafers, just behind the tassels.

I remember going to Petticoat Lane to buy Sta-Prest, going out Saturday night, getting drunk on barley wine, kissing a bank holiday tart, sleeping on me mate’s sofa and them still having a crease come Tuesday.

I remember ‘Skanga, skanga skanga… Do you believe in love?’

I remember calling fit girls ‘lush’.

I remember kung fu films at the flicks, ‘Broken Oath’ with Angela Mao prancing about with a silk scarf. Little did those lecherous villains know it was full of scorpions. Ah ha!

I remember Beardy in ‘Thundering Mantis’. They kill the teacher AND the kid! He goes berserk, kills the baddies and eats them. Woah.

I remember the Dr Who Museum at Longleat.

I remember holidays visiting the battlefields of England; Bosworth, Maiden Castle and Sedgemoor.

I remember Airfix 1/32 scale soldiers. Afrika Korps, Eighth Army, Ghurkas, German Paratroopers, Commandoes.

I remember my girlfriend sewing a ¼ inch turn-up on my 501s.

I remember, remember the 5th of November, gun powder, treason and plot.

I remember history lessons, opening a text book to a picture of the Nuremburg Rally. Some card had drawn a speech bubble so that Hitler was addressing the party faithful with; “und now der UK Subs.”

I remember detention. There was no Molly Ringwald. Just a gurning, liberal gimp who was wasting his time for my benefit. I made a point of regularly telling him how much I’d enjoyed ‘The History Man’.

I remember scratchy toilet paper. My grandad used it, even when we’d stopped at school and gone over to the soft stuff. He was a war hero.

I remember the lumps in the school custard.

I remember Mrs Harris’ dumplings. If me and Kevin had to work late she’d bring around a big pot of rice ‘n’ peas ‘n’ ackee with salt fish and huge fried dumpling.

I remember pre-release, white label, discomix and slates.

I remember getting a parting razored into my No. 2.

I remember girls with feather cuts and ¾ length tonik jackets.

I remember the clothes horse and the airing cupboard.

I remember we called my mum Captain Howdy because we’d hear her creeping about upstairs.

I remember going to the zoo’. The rhino was asleep and scratched onto the hide of it’s arse in big letters was Tina. My mum’s name.

I remember Saturday, the sofa and a steak and kidney pudding with World of Sport wrestling; Cyanide Syd Cooper, Fit Finlay, Mark Rollerball Rocco. The old biddies would bellow, wave their handbags and throw their shoes into the ring. Mick McManus would tear ‘em in half and toss ‘em back.

I remember thinking that colour was an invention. That all old TV programmes, films and pictures were black and white led me to this conclusion.

I remember the kid down the street’s first word; ‘Bugger’.

I remember our first dog, Topper. Originally he belonged to an old man. Every day my dad would pat him and give him a biscuit on the way to work. When his owner died nobody else could get near him and they were going to have the dog put down. So, my dad brought him home.

I remember goldfish from the rag ‘n’ bone man.

I remember sending old clothes and blankets to charity.

I remember shrinking crisp packets on the school radiators.

I remember our English teacher telling us we weren’t allowed to read Tom Sharpe but he was glad we were.

I remember being too big for the swings and sitting in the rec’ reciting ‘Sonny’s Lettah’.

I remember McDonalds replacing their plastic spoons after they started to turn up as ‘paraphernalia’ at drugs busts. Apparently they were being used to snort coke.

I remember ‘Babylon’. “Straight from JA to me!”

I remember being flattened by a tidal wave of girls at an Eek A Mouse show.

I remember throwing punches at the 100 Club. It was better than the band.

I remember the Rumble in the Jungle, “…in Zaire, in Zaire.”

I remember Eddy ‘the Cannibal’ Merckx.

I remember Derek smashing a plaster statue of the Sacred Heart to pieces with his shoe and then eating them.

I remember painting Airfix kits on the frame, then assembling them and giving them the once over.

I remember the Saturday after payday, wearing a new Ben Sherman to the pub and thinking, ‘There must be more to life.’
Tim Wells