In Andrew and Ellis' final issue as editors, a mixture of flash and poetry explores family, the world and ghosts in a fitting tribute to the wonder and terror of change.
Andrew Cross and Ellis Carr
Within the Storm
Image Credit: Matteo Catanese
Within the storm, my former form is lost, emotions torn.
My will would, keep me still - allow release –
but I cannot and not a jot does it cease, no internal peace.
That rain, dissolves my being and I will forever wane and never ever fly again.
I plead to protect my soul, I beg parole although,
I could not stop nor go nor stoop nor stand nor be,
come back, don’t leave me go – everything I would forego.
I cannot see – blinded, burdened with passivity.
Forgive me my love from what I did and should and should have not have done.
Would it be that I could now hold you tight to keep that cold, cruel weather out tonight.
Image Credit: James Wainscoat
As early evening shadowed the window ledge
Chatty churlish sparrows gathered on the nearby hedge.
Small, grey and brown with tubby cheeks and stumpy beaks.
They get together to natter and chatter talking of their past weeks.
Roosting within pyracantha was Goggy gossiping with Samantha:
‘Eight eggs she made and laid, you know?’ She said
‘That’s too far to go for a fat, flat-footed sparrow.’
‘It’s ‘cos of the moss it goes to your head’ said Jackie’s youngest, Fred.
Jean first sighed then replied ‘Them eggs don’t come out your head’
She said, ‘It’s about time you went and wed!’
Norris who had quietly sat could not resist the general chat;
‘getting wed … forever, easy said. Well pluck my tail feather … I never.’
George hopped in from the flock next door to flop and talk of this and that,
Carefully perching himself to avoid the neighbouring cat.
Unaware of other’s conversation and engrossed in his own contemplation
from the tip of a branch, un-staunched he launched his rambling oration:
‘You can’t get no flavour, neither. Yer modern spider yer just can’t savour nowt.’
Barely out the egg, young Gregg shouts out ‘shut yer beak, you northern freak!
Then flies off as Samantha tuts, ‘what a cheek!
Poorly reared, badly bred did you hear what he just said?’
But George continued his lament;
‘why these modern spider’s taste so bland and why no longer succulent.
And now, how come they were often found far less fat and flippin flatulent.’
Deaf to all, Barry was busy as round and round he packed and tucked,
hair, string, brown paper and feathers from a pigeon plucked
round and round again he made his nest until he staggered, dizzy, forced to rest.
‘One more lurch and you’ll be off your perch, says Lizzy.
‘And you want me to lay eggs in that? – it’s tat.
For you it’s back to nesting school, you giddy fool.
It’s dross, there is no moss, just feathers from a common pigeon.
Where’s the softest fluff from breast of duck or widgeon?
Barry’s defence made no pretence citing past lovers and there were many.
In the past it had been good enough for Jayne, Joyce, Jill, Jeanette and Jenny.
And he added, it’s oak leaf cladded unlike the common many,
if you’d have got an outside job t’would’ve cost a pretty penny.
Said Jean, what think you of Penny Lynch
Flitting about with that old bullfinch.
I don’t think that’ll last long,
Wait till she hears its mournful song.
All very well having a white rump and gay feathers,
But how’s that going to feed you in inclement weathers.
As shadows lengthened enough was, for one day said –
‘twas time to rest the beak, and so to speak,
grip their twiggy perch for bed.
The Ghost Train
The stench of fear clung to my lungs as we approach the next stop. A train full of ghouls, trying to make me one of them. I know no one can help me now. I’m the only one they haven’t converted to their eerie ways. My one chance at freedom is coming soon. I must find a way to escape my hiding spot. Is this possible? Will I be spared the fate of the others? I hear them start to collect outside, as if they can sense my fear. I’m just going to have to run.
The announcement as clear as ever: “We will shortly be arriving at Canterbury West.” It was as if it was their signal to attack. It certainly was mine to run. They chased me like wolves, grabbing at my flailing arms and legs. It was too late. I had run too soon. The driver was my only hope now. Banging on his door, begging he let me in. The devil laughed.
The doors opened as we all sat down. I felt no different but knew everything had changed. People streamed on, hoping to escape the chaos around them. Little did they know; the chaos was here also. “The next station is Sturry.” We moved as one, terrorising these newly boarded souls, bending them to our will. They should have seen it coming. They should have tried to hide. We saw where they were running. In slades and slades they died. I saw the horror of the ghost train, and the souls it did convert. We soon would go and spread the curse and control the whole of earth.
It's all about my mum
It's ironic really that just yesterday I decided to write a blog post about mum and now we sit in the emergency department and she’s wired up and being tested for a suspected heart attack.
And I don’t know how I should be feeling.
The blog post I was going to write was how she’s driving me batty these days. She’s demanding and inconsiderate of others, especially me. She always has been, as my poor dad would tell you if he didn’t duck out of this life so early on.
“I could never retire, I’ll have to work until I drop. Couldn’t stand being at home being nagged all day.” He would say with an eye roll.
Seeing her in so much pain tonight, begging me to phone for an ambulance, I knew this potentially could be her time. Internally I told myself I’m ready, and thought about the practicalities in my diary in the next few days. This wasn’t a bad time for a crisis. Knowing the finality of losing someone struck me after Dad died. It was a tragedy and so sudden, a real shock. I remember having silly thoughts back then like, “he’s taken all his musical knowledge with him,” and, “he won’t need to eat food anymore.”
You read back over text messages don’t you, and even consider sending another one into the ether just to allow yourself one last communication with your loved one.
Dad bought mum a mobile phone once. She threw it back at him with a frown and tight lips. She had always said she would never use a mobile, what was he thinking?
So here we are, her obs are not great, she’s exhausted as its 3am, I’m exhausted too. Yet for me to sleep right now is impossible, you see my Crohns is flaring up and I’m in a lot of pain, struggling to be here every time the Dr looks in as I have difficulty getting off the loo.
I think I’m as ready as I’m going to be. My twins are at the beginning of their lives, I’m kind of in the middle of mine and mum is nearing the end of hers, dictating our three lives around hers. There was talk of a date planned this evening, (a new thing for me) but of course I didn’t hesitate to cancel it.
He was hot too.
She’s become a part of the furniture.
She drives us bananas with the repetitive nature of her words. She loses our clothes. I’m sat here in my black jeans that are three sizes too big. Well, it was that or double denim...
But she will leave a void.
I tell myself it’s the circle of life. The only family is my twins.
Her heart rate skips a couple of beats as her oxygen drops to 91%, I sense I might need to close my eyes soon. I need to allow myself the luxury of being unwell too, no, must fight it.
How long has it been? I feel awful that I haven't visited you for years. I don't know where the time has gone. I think about you often, I remember the decades I spent promising myself that I was going to learn French so I could speak to you easier - the two lessons I had in college, the ebook and audio CD. I know I didn't try as hard as I should have.
But you always made the effort to understand me. The patience you had!
I painted a picture of you and put it on my wall. My partner keeps asking about you, I mean, we look at you in bed so the subject had to come up. I don't think I did you justice, but I was proud of the swirly dark blue sky and when the light hits you your texture seems to come alive. You have some wonky lines but that was my shaky hands.
I was trying to remember the ladies we met, the tattooists who I idolised. I wanted to be them, do you remember? I think one was called Sinnah. I tried to look her up and I found some old photos, but her portfolio was long gone. I'd hoped we'd bump into her again, and maybe she'd tattoo my calf.
Regardless, I thought I'd write to say that the distance between us feels like it's getting bigger. That saddens me, and I feel like I didn't do enough to prevent that. I know I probably just sound like I'm trying to salve my conscience. But I want to fix things. I don't know where to begin.
I kept hoping I'd return to you in my later years. I am studying to be a counsellor and selling my writing. I was aiming to start a counselling business from a cabin where we all create art and talk about ways to heal ourselves. I'd even named our dog in my mind.
But that was my problem, wasn't it? I spent so long in my head that I didn't fight for you.
I understand if you don't forgive me. But you're always in my heart.