Skip to content

Index: Poetry & Fiction

56 The Village

‘THE BRAVE LIVES of the roundabout people, sharing the seasons and the stars, and keeping their smaller dramas to themselves.’ One village has farms down the main street! Another, a duck pond the size of Leicester Square. Advent is the yellow glow of windows in the year’s midnight – curtains are paranoid. Twilight is the […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

55 The Lie

‘TRUTH FLUTTERS ON the mountain in the winds of change: all that matters is the pole, and the flag where it’s tight at the pole.’ To secure the one remaining slice of pie you say there’s a grub in it; then the inconvenient irony wriggles its little white finger, rejoicing in your double bind. All […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

54 The Dog

‘LITTLE FLAGS OF the type more usually seen on sandcastles have been left atop piles of poo, bearing humorous yet caustic aphorisms.’ The heath is yours when upturned eyes implore. Outside it’s suddenly your element. Grimly a weekday professional clutches his five-string bouquet of hybrid athletes, as if vacuuming the land. Off the leash there […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

53 The Map

‘TIME TRAVELLER SEEKS part-time assistant with traditional humanist values: must be good around old maps. Non-smoker. Sense of humour.’ Contours are ignored until they squeeze together. Brown is tough and closest to the sky; green may flood at any time; blue is the idleness of perfection. Instead of a church, an ecumenical shield brandished by […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

51 Hospital

‘THEY KNOW HOW people feel about their bodies. They know what things are used just once, then simply thrown away.’ If one or two fields are hollowed out for healing, surrounding ploughlands look anaemic, uninvolved. Surgeons and farmers rarely meet – though a tractor may slither down a mudbank. Brilliance is called for when the […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

50 The Father

‘UNCONSCIOUS FATHERS, A diaspora of wanderers at large on the sea of souls, share a bond known only to the pantheon’s patriarch.’ Those who have never witnessed birth are an antique tribe with a second chance if the daughter is willing, as she might be if she truly understands. Generations fold into themselves, an asymmetric […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

48 The Rose

‘A YELLOW ROSE means: “Don’t you love me any more?” A rose with blackfly means: “I wash my hands of you!”’ Flower losses are easily dealt with. Pull the affected petals off or snip the whole head. Ignore the complacent camellia, smiling unarmed at its enemies. War can shake up any court, dress uniforms slashed […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

49 The Elephant

‘MAY YOU FEEL the loving presence of Ganesh on his birthday (1st September) and on yours. Namaste.’ Using trunks to test unsafe ground, these Atlas elephants were surer than mountain goats. They widened the passes for the army – contrary to popular belief. Their problem was lack of browse. Napoleon may have found a few […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

40 The Musician

‘EVEN THE MOST abysmal performance must be endured without anaesthetic, since you need to be sure the nerves are still alive. Applause may be muted.’ Few instruments, even cheap ones, end up in landfill – far more in the attic’s parc fermé, where superstition keeps them somnolent. Spiders float in strung lairs of trumpet, tambourine, […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

47 The Actor

‘CALLING THE DIRECTOR a vampire, in rehearsals, won for her the love of all the cast, except his mistress, playing Snow White.’ Inhabiting a tree is formative. From fingers browning and falling you progress to almost visible roots, then later to cruelly self-examining in the round, the bourgeoisie undressed, shielded by a dustbin lid. A […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

46 The Moon

‘THE BONE-DRY moon that churns a planet’s seas is the ghostly pale moon dislodging a gender’s blood.’ The myth of snow-white Raven stealing sun, moon, stars and water from the eaves of Grey Eagle’s longhouse is for first-year creative writing. Try practical science instead: the elements corresponding with roots, seeds, leaves, flowers; plus lunar astrology. […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

45 The River

‘THE MELLIFLUOUS NAME is peculiar to English: locals splutter on a tangle of consonants – a cormorant’s nest, with ramparts of broken vodka bottles.’ Lingering here is unsettling, holding you back from your longings. From the fissure in mountain roughness most people gravitate downstream, knee-deep in alpine flowers, feeling the delta’s pull – the great […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Mirror 44.

‘SCALP HUNTERS, BABYSITTERS, ferrets, pavement artists walk at least once around the block before entering any building.’ Some agents use national security surveillance to track their lovers – past, present, would-be, fantasy – in the manner of a policeman ‘running a plate for a date’. They might just be practising; or testing new paradigms. Often […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

43 Hair

‘A BAD HAIR day is a day that only starts with uncontrollable hair. The truth is, the mirror gods will often relent by lunchtime.’ Who would have guessed the Cleopatra fringe would be so short-lived? Many suspect foul play: an actress, it’s thought, bought by a rival studio, may have slipped an asp into the […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

42 The Maze

‘WHEN THE FIELD Marshal pulled down all the city’s minarets to confuse the occupying army, memory was promoted to the level of valour.’ Which came first, maze or sheepfold? Unarmed, listening intently, head full of shadowy myths, you step undaunted into destiny. Turning a corner you almost bump into a man who resembles your father, […]

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit