He was surprised there was no snow.
He was gladdened by the cleanliness.
He found the lack of horses disconcerting.
He was nostalgic for the smell of chestnuts.
He looked everywhere for flower girls.
He found the ale houses rather lacking character.
He was befuddled hearing music without musicians.
He marvelled at the glaring lights.
He was disappointed not to find a tailor.
He felt thrilled that he was stared at.
He could not find the newspaper sellers.
He recognised the poor in doorways.
He wrote them into his next book.
‘Round the corner from us there’s a man
Wot collects door knockers.
Big brassy gold ones,
Like cartoon noses without a face.
No he don’t sell ’em but he do keep buying ’em;
When me and Tim was just kids he’d give us a shilling
To go pick up a new old one for him,
The shinier the better. Wants to be able to see his face in it, he says.
We’d trawl the antiques shops — Pirate-Colonels hunting for treasure —
And one time Timmy nabbed his dad’s screwdriver
And stole the one off of Fred’s mam’s front door.
Proper angry she was.
Old Scrooge’s eyes ain’t good though
So he holds each one excitedly up to his wrinkled head,
Fat red nose meeting big cold gold one,
Squinting frantically at his distorted reflection in a tiny mirrored world
While we hiccup our laughter,
Before he exhales and flashes us his disappointment.
Never throws ’em away though neither:
Just sits in a room covered with the bleedin’ things,
Bright brass door knockers puncturing faded walls,
Embarrassed, apologetic nostrils
Marking pathways to nowhere,
No one to knock
And no one to answer.
Then, on Christmas Eve, he shuts up all his curtains
And whispers to them, one by one.
I swear! Fred told us so
And Timmy and I went peeking one year
And we saw him, a draped and hooded Phantom,
Caressing the biggest, knobbliest, goldest one
With tremulous hands,
Sighing heavily, like a lover,
Looking for that dismal light
Like a bad lobster in a dark cellar,
Looking as Marley used to look
With breaths to breathe,
Eyes to see,
In living colour,
And with the dead-alive spirit
Of a seven-years-dead friend.
But come the chimes of New Year Scrooge is at it again,
Bonkers for new door knockers.
And, sitting goblin-like on his brass horde at year’s end
If he really did
I chew coal for extra nrgy
blow a deadly breeze my way
In the migrant trailer
in which I live
I flex my biceps in front of the mirror
to reassure myself I still exist
and am capable of continued survival
I grin into the mirror
with my black teeth
Script for the company store
is scattered on the rug like fallen leaves
I have a woman
but I’ve misplaced her
I go looking for another chunk
Special Inky Book Launch: The Many Beautiful Worlds of Death by Mark Sheeky: reviewed by Kev Milsom
Loving Lou Salomé by Stefano Santachiara:
An historical novel based on works, correspondence and random thoughts of Lou Salomé, free as the travels, encounters and relationships that she lived through in the cultural centres of Europe between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Santachiara interprets even the most subtle nuances of Salomé’s spirit and narrates an extraordinary life: scholar, traveller, poetess, writer, philosopher, psychoanalyst.
Stefano Santachiara (born in 1975, Carpi, Italy) is a former journalist of Il Fatto Quotidiano, and of the periodical Left Avvenimenti. He also collaborated with the Italian TV Channel Rai3. He is known for his reports on corruption and environmental damage, as well as for the scoop in the first case of relations between the Democratic Party and the ‘Ndrangheta, when the businessmen involved filed a claim for compensation, but the court rejected it by stating that Santachiara’s investigation was based on true and documented facts. His first book The Dirty Laundry of the Left (I panni sporchi della sinistra), written with Ferruccio Pinotti for the Chiarelettere publishing company, has reached five editions. His other works include self-published essays Soccer, Carrion and Leopards (Calcio, carogne e gattopardi) and Social Feminism (Socialfemminismo). Recently he has completed a movie script based on his historical novel Loving Lou Salomé.
He appeared on the paved path
on the old railway trail
near foothills, long slope
of the rocky wash.
Near crevices where winds form,
blast down the valley, leaves spinning,
stunned trees, even the dry river
stones stupefied by its force.
He was stock-still, the wind twisting
around his tail, and glancing my way,
ears alert. Ancient chaparral ancestors
stirring in his pale eyes, yelps
and howls from a thousand open
plains already sounding in unknown
and guarded inner places.
No one else was around but the lizard
near my feet, anticipating possibilities.
Nearby brush, rustlings, stirrings.
Then he was gone, as if by magic,
disappearing, no sound in the thickets
by the path, collecting heat as it bore down.
The winds stirred again,
a couple of blasts, no birds
anywhere that I could see, no brush
rabbits, just the dead bee I then came across,
and the dog collar, tan with gold flecks,
half-buried in the dirt.
Now I hear everything from all directions:
heavy bison steps, antelope grunts,
bobcats hissing, wind tearing through hedges.
There’s another lizard, minding his way
as we both acknowledge that today
something nearby will be devoured.
PHOTO OF MY AUNT
She was not posed, but staring off
from the gazebo at a party, her hand
almost to her head as if shielding
her eyes from the sun. Straining
to see something, she looked
curious, as if I could tell by her gaze,
as if she knew what it all meant,
as if she saw what was about to happen,
as if she knew it was there, the ultimate
end of all things that we found familiar,
the end of wondering. On the ground
behind her, at the edge of the gazebo,
her purse, silver clasp glinting in the sun.
WHAT I FOUND ON THE BEACH
Gray pebbles, ceramic shards,
pieces of plastic, rope, shell
trifles, abandoned claw tips.
Then, buried in seaweed,
it shone through, purple
with streaks of red,
shining glass, orbicular,
no cracks or chips. Wet,
cold, yet still exuberant.
It seemed to ignore being found,
and went on as it had been, silent,
on my dresser, waiting for the sun.
WINDS, STONE, ICE
Hard to get up, open to assaults
of bright winds, glossy fields
in the distance, flickering
and shimmering, blinding
and flashing with energy.
On the other hand, stone walkways
are dignified, but stable to the point
of fatigue. The gray and black flecks
run all through, repel everything,
explain nothing. They fossilize in the cold.
Glaciers on the horizon, gleaming
like answers to questions, like
ancient wisdom, like stories
that put one to sleep after wincing
and blinking and shivering all day.
Carla McGill earned her doctorate in English from the University of California, Riverside. Her work has been published in A Clean Well-Lighted Place, The Atlanta Review, Shark Reef, Crack the Spine, Westview, Common Ground Review, Caveat Lector, Inland Empire Magazine, Carbon Culture Review, Vending Machine Press, Nebo: A Literary Journal, Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts, Streetlight Magazine, The Penmen Review, Whistling Shade, Cloudbank, Paragon Journal, Burningword, Poets’ Espresso Review, The Alembic, and Broad River Review. Her story, “Thirteen Memories,” received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s MAR/APR 2016 Very Short Fiction Contest. She lives with her husband in Southern California where she writes poetry and fiction.
The woman who claims to be my wife has a lost look
She’s holding a raw egg in her hand
Dr. Oz told me
I can lose seven pounds a week
by using Garcinia Cambogia Extract, she says
I have been away for many years
held as a P.O.W.
I don’t understand what she just said
I have no idea who Dr. Oz is
My only reference is:
The Wizard of…
In grief over my presumed death
this woman who claims to be my wife
began eating wildly
became morbidly obese
I still cannot believe she is who she says she is
I think that it is a trick
set up by my former captors
I cannot remember if they were Communists
Stalinists or Maoists
I don’t understand what any of that means
if I ever did
or why this woman sitting next to me on this couch
is stroking the blond hairs
of my arm
A BRIGHTER LOOK
Though the unworkable world
of my impossibility is always present,
incessant, unceasing, encircling,
it has turned ever so slightly,
causing previous decades
of different understandings,
or misunderstandings, to shift,
turning my face to the rays
of the always somewhere shining sun.
Possibility, after so long, emerges,
takes on unfamiliar shapes,
like eon-shaped, water worn rocks,
like Philip Glass repetition,
changing with continuing variation.
A SMALL TREE
stretches its branches
toward the ice night’s
cold stars. I forget
of course, is growing,
that green will come again,
turning where I stand
to tulips and tart rhubarb,
relaxing my winter will—
which now I wish
would right my brittle world.
THERE IS THIS DARKNESS
in my head
It plays on
of a witch-
The dark closet
she placed me in
holds me forever
with my mother’s help.
But to dreams
a new tape
has been added.
in the present.
as I fall
Night comes now
with black fingers
or witches’ hats
but still sometimes.
WHAT I MAKE OF IT
My sons grew up
playing with their father
in summer and in snow.
They could have sailed
in the time
they stayed away
into light fantasy,
and winter wool
and heavy fabric-
from remaining threads,
I make only this,
a story I repeat, then write,
and plan to press
between clothbound covers.
in an old-fashioned book.
After receiving a Master’s Degree in English Literature from the University of Denver, Alita Pirkopf became increasingly interested in feminist interpretations of literature. Eventually, Alita enrolled in a poetry class at the University of Denver taught by Bin Ramke. Poetry became a long-term focus and obsession.
Alita’s work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Alembic, Artifact Nouveau, Burningword Literary Journal, Caduceus, The Cape Rock, The Chaffin Journal, The Distillery, Euphony Journal, Existere, Good Works Review, The Griffin, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Harpur Palate, Illya’s Honey, Lullwater Review, Moon City Review, The Paragon Journal, The Penmen Review, Quiddity, riverSedge, Rubbertop Review, Ship of Fools, Stonecoast Review, Temenos Journal, Vending Machine Press, Vox Poetica, Westview, and Willow Springs Review.