Photography, Running, and Writing – Artist, CARL SCHARWATH

Photography, Running and Writing with Carl Scharwath

Sick Lit Magazine: What inspires you as an artist?

Carl Scharwath: Other artists. I have a deep love of reading, the arts and discovering new authors and photographers. The biographies of artists are also inportant to learn as they have gone through many of the  same heartbreaks and still  overcame them.

ART_STUDIO

SLM: Tell me a bit about your creative process.

CS: Since I am a dedicated, competitive runner, many of my story and poem ideas give birth on the run. Unfortunately those great sentences are forgotten by the time I arrive home, but the ideas are not. I also run with my cell phone and have captured photos on my run, either by stopping or returning latter. Ideas are all around us, we only have to be receptive.

Blue

SLM: What music are you currently listening to?

CS: I  will always love REM and thier innovation. From my teen years The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson’s solo albums still spark a memory from simple times in my life.

Awaken

SLM: If you could categorize these pieces in a few words, what would they be?

CS: Surealistic, philosophical and thinking how they would look as an oil painting.

Angel of the Antiques

SLM: What are you working on right now?

CS: A new short story, my second chap book and a play. Working full time, having grand children and training as a runner does not leave much time but I try my best on early weekend mornings to dedicate time to my art.

DUMPSTER ART

SLM: Tell me something that not many people know about you.

CS: My daughter and I spend nine years training together and were awarded a 2nd degree Black Belt in Taekwondo

Explorations

SLM: How would one of us, per se, purchase your work?

CS: I have never thought of the process to sell my work. My enjoyment comes from being published, the creative process and working with and meeting editors such as you.

Cyrstal

courtyard

Waiting for a dancewoman reflection

***

Carl Scharwath has appeared globally with 80+ magazines selecting his poetry, short stories, essays or art photography. He won the National Poetry Contest award for Writers One Flight Up. His first poetry book is ‘Journey To Become Forgotten’ (Kind of a Hurricane Press). Carl is a dedicated runner and 2nd degree black- belt.

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Remembering Snake Skeletons and a Cherry Red Impala -Artist, Finn Lafcadio O’Hanlon

Remembering Snake Skeletons and a Cherry Red Impala

On the 21st September, a second solo exhibition by 24-year-old English-born American artist, Finn Lafcadio O’Hanlon, will open at the Whiteconcepts space in Berlin. Titled The Plague Year, it will expand his meticulous exploration of syncretic religious, mediaeval and ‘pop’ iconography, cartography and lexicology – this time, within an exotic, decaying dystopia detailed in more than 25 very finely detailed monochromatic works. 
 
Finn’s last exhibition at Whitespace, two years ago, was one of the most successful openings for a young artist in Berlin that year. Introduced by the controversial German artist, Jonathan Meese, the entire show sold out within 48 hours.

Born in Brighton, England, Finn Lafcadio O’Hanlon grew up among creative, nomadic types in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Los Angeles before returning as a teenager to Sydney.

But as he recalls in the following brief memoir, it was his childhood memories of being often on the road with his eccentric parents in the American southwest that gave him a lot of the imagery that still populates his work.

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I spent my early childhood in the southwest of the United States. My mother was part-Cherokee, born and raised in Oklahoma, and my father was an Australian, but we lived for a long time in Los Angeles. We would often drive between the west coast and my mother’s family in Tulsa, but we’d take these circuitous routes on un-mapped back-roads, adding days and hundreds of miles to a journey that was already fifteen hundred miles long via the direct route on Interstate 40, through desert towns like Barstow and Winslow and Albuquerque.

 

I still remember the weird roadhouses we stopped at, filled with faux-Native American trinkets, and Mexican candied skulls, as well as petrified tree fragments, fossils and pebbles of polished turquoise. We’d end each day in some rickety, half-dead town in Arizona, New Mexico or Texas, staying in a cheap motel with a swimming pool and a noisy ice-machine. Sometimes, we’d be so close to the Mexican border that it made no difference which side of it you were on – it could just as well have been Mexico but with better air-conditioning – and at that time of the year, the whole place would be overtaken with unsettling (but to a young kid, exciting) syncretic symbols and rituals, part Catholic, part ancient Toltec, part Hopi or Navajo, with black-robed Madonnas, painted skulls and masks, crucifixes and snake skeletons. It was never scary and solemn, only celebratory, not just honouring the dead but inviting them to a party, to spend time among friends and family. The barbecue smoke always smelled of mesquite.

 

Later, when I became an artist working on large, intricate drawings in ink on paper, the impressions of those road trips insinuated themselves into what I drew: skulls on snake bodies, ’60s neon signs, tattooed women and grinning death-heads, the Robert Williams-influenced cars (my parents drove a cherry-red Chevy Impala SuperSport). Even the modern military references were derived from fleeting glimpses of fighters and tanks arrayed on open tracts of desert, at Nellis or Luke air force bases, or Camp Navajo. They seemed as commonplace as the motels, drive-in diners and cheesy girlie bars that littered our route.

Finn Lafcadio O’Hanlon-

For further information, to receive a selection of high res images, or to arrange an interview, please contact Finn by email: Flohfactory@gmail.com . His work can also be viewed in low res’ at https://www.instagram.com/finnlohanlon/

Below: Finn Lafcadio O’Hanlon, photographed in Kreuzberg by Lotti Leona, 2015
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The Bus – by KATE JONES

The Bus

 

I stand among the groups of middle-aged parents lining the pavement beside the bus that contains their beloved offspring.  Excited faces scattered with acne and over-zealous make-up press against glass, or turn away, sharp haircuts bobbing as they talk fast and laugh with friends.

I pick out your window.  You sit politely, neatly, long curls hanging round your shoulders.  Your father’s nose side-on to my view.  You do that thing you do with your glasses, where you push them up your face with the back of your hand.  I have never seen anyone else do this, apart from my mother.

I tell myself that you are not leaving forever.  You are not my mother.  You are just going off to adventures, and experiences.  You will come back.  Yet, my insides feel the same way as they did when I lost her.

Your long lashes loll like fronds as you bend down to retrieve a paperback from your holdall.  I wonder if you have packed the bunny that has sat on your bed since I brought you home from the hospital, the yellow blanket wrapped tightly around you.  My grasp onto your perfect form even tighter.

Your friend taps you on the shoulder and you stretch your arms to hug her.  She bounces down beside you.  Your face is hidden from me now as you turn to talk to her.

Other parents are milling around in groups, talking to one another, shouting to their offspring if they have their this, their that.  I don’t shout messages to you.  I just watch, this last, lingering, private moment.

The engine starts, rumbling loudly and spitting out cancerous fumes from its large exhaust.  You face back toward the front and pop a red sweet into your mouth, making your cheek plump.  A faint cheer goes up from inside the bus, and some of the still malingering parents’ cheer, too.

You turn your head at last.  Look surprised that I am still standing there, alone and apart from the crowd.

And you smile.  Genuine, happy, relaxed.  You raise your slender arm to wave.

I raise mine too, mechanically, try to smile back as honestly as I can.

And then the bus pulls away from the curb and you turn back to your friend.  You have already dropped your hand.  You are already miles away.

And though I tell myself you will return, you are not gone forever, I walk back towards my car knowing that my home will be quiet, and things will be as I left them.  I know that there will be no smell of body spray clogging the bathroom; no dirty underwear on the floor; nobody playing loud pop-songs into the night.

And I know that the world – my world – has shifted slightly, into the unknown.

Kate Jones©

 ***

KATEJONES

***Kate is a freelance writer based in the UK who writes articles, including regular contributions to online women’s magazine Skirt Collective, as well as publishing life writing and poetry both in print and online.  She has a passion for flash fiction and short stories, and is usually found lurking around coffee shops, writing and listening to other people’s conversations. Jones has also become a regular contributor to Sick Lit Magazine, and is a 2016 nominee for the Pushcart Prize through Sick Lit Magazine.***

She blogs at www.writerinresidenceblog.wordpress.com.

Find Kate on Twitter at:  https://twitter.com/katejonespp

*Photography courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*

Eclipse / F is for Fish – by PETER JORDAN

Eclipse

I’m not sure what time of the day it is. I have no watch, no phone. From the length of the shadows cast by the people in the crowd I guess it’s early. All of the crowd, every single one, look up to the sky, cell phones raised, taking pictures.

There are seagulls flying about haphazardly. A security van has its hazards on. Things aren’t right.

Curious, I walk across the street, navigating slow traffic.

A girl in uniform smiles.

What is it?

An eclipse.

A what?

Where have you been, she says. Mars?

As the moon moves slowly down over the sun, I look right at it.

You can’t look at it directly, she says. You have to put your hand over your eyes.

I look at her.

I’m only saying what it said on the radio!

I ignore her and continue looking directly at what is left of the sun.

When I look away I see a trail of greens and reds and yellows.

Right now, she says. It looks like an engagement ring.

She reminds me of someone.

Suddenly, everything gets dark, cold.

Is this supposed to happen? I ask.


 

F is for Fish

My head is clear but I can’t move. I try to sit up but nothing happens. My right eye doesn’t open fully. It takes a second or two to focus… I’m in my bedroom.

I remember falling at the front door then crawling up three flights of stairs trailing a bag of broken glass behind me, then nothing.

My phone rings. I wonder if it’s Simon. Simon has been my sponsor for the past two years. I met him in rehab, like me he’s an alcoholic but Simon is in recovery. He has a god in his life. He’s living the program.

He gave me his two goldfish to look after while he’s on holiday. He thinks this little act will keep me sober. He’s wrong. Before Simon gave me his goldfish I knew I was going to drink. The compulsion for alcohol had returned.

Here lies the paradox: I don’t want to drink, I know from bitter experience what happens but a part of me does want to drink, a part of me that says this time I’ll be fine.

Sometimes I think I’d like to get a little bit drunk but Simon tells me that getting a little bit drunk is like getting a little bit pregnant. Once I lift the first drink I’m beat. Lifting the first drink starts a physiological craving. The more I drink, the more I want, until I black out and then pass out.

I hear music. Shauna is home; she lives directly below. She looks different every time I see her. Sometimes I walk by her on the stairs, say hello and don’t immediately realise it’s her. She has that chameleon-like quality that great method actors have. She should have gone to Hollywood. Instead, she’s trapped in a flat mixing antipsychotics with class A’s. She’ll put on a track and play it over and over again. Today it’s Nena’s 99 Red Balloons – the German version. Shauna is stuck somewhere in the mid-eighties, when she was a child and life held no fears.

I shout, but no one can hear me. I need to sit up to shout properly. So I lie looking at the ceiling with my mouth open while 80’s Europop drifts up from below. Please don’t let me die to this song. If I’m going to die then let her play Snowblind by Black Sabbath. When I was a kid I loved that song. I thought it was about a guy who gets stuck in a blizzard, until I realised it was about coke addiction.

I remember my first drink; I was fourteen years old. If I saw the world in black and white before I took that first drink then taking it turned everything to Technicolor. It seemed I’d found the answer to my prayers. Drinking took away the fear, that feeling of being less than. All of a sudden I measured up. The problem is it never lasted; within a few years I was a full-blown alcoholic. People say there is a line, like something you step over, one minute normal, the next, alky. In truth the line is blurred.

It seems that things can’t get any worse, but I’ve had rock bottoms before. Simon talks about the time when he decided he’d had enough – the jumping-off point. Simon says I should move a muscle when I’m in mental pain: Move a muscle, change a thought. But I can’t move.

I’ll play I Spy.

I Spy with my little eye something beginning with AAlcohol.

There are four empty vodka bottles on the dressing table. Three are Smirnoff and one is Vladivar. I don’t remember buying the Vladivar. I can’t see the floor but I know they’re there as well, all empty.

I read recently that more people drown in the desert than die of thirst. Flash floods are the killer. It doesn’t rain for a long time and then, when it does, people aren’t expecting it, and it really rains – for days on end, and people just drown. That’s what it’s like when I drink; a flash flood. A long dry spell and then, when it comes, it’s a downpour.

B is for Boredom.

I can’t see anything beginning with B but I think I might die of boredom. Sherlock Holmes took morphine to stave off boredom. Maybe the police will investigate after my body is found, maybe a modern day Sherlock Holmes will look around my room, and as 99 Red Balloons ascends up from below, he’ll deduce: ‘All is not as it appears, Watson. Something hastened his demise.’

‘What do you mean, Holmes?’

‘99 Red Balloons, my dear Dr Watson!’

‘You weren’t bored again this morning, were you, Holmes?’

C is for crack.

Not the drug; I’m talking about the cracks in the ceiling. I’m sure I’ve noticed the big cracks but I didn’t notice the little ones. They look like they’ve been there for a long time but I don’t think the ceiling is going to collapse. They’re just a part of it. I suppose if you look closely at anything for long enough you’ll see little cracks. Maybe that’s why I’m no good at relationships; I’m worried if someone gets too close they’ll see the cracks.

I used to think I was a born survivor, one of those people you read about in Reader’s Digest who gnaw their own legs off in a snowstorm, then slide a hundred miles on their arse to the nearest hospital and now they have a new career as a skiing instructor. And maybe I was a survivor at one time but not anymore. Something happened after I crossed the line from social drinking to alcoholism.

D is for dehydration.

That would be a good one for my mother – died of thirst. When her friends ask over the garden fence with clasped hands what I died of, she’ll be able to say: He died of thirst.

Oh, was he an adventurer?

Sort of!

The phone rings again. I’ll bet it’s Simon.

I fall asleep.

When I wake I have the harsh metallic taste of blood in my mouth, like raw egg. It’s late afternoon. The window is closed but I can still hear the traffic: people living their lives, coming home from work, collecting their children from school; doing what I can’t do.

The thirst reminds me of the time when I was a kid in hospital. For two weeks they kept me on a drip. I wasn’t allowed anything to eat or drink. When they took me off the drip, my mother asked me what I’d like to drink. I’d been dreaming of cold lemonade for weeks; but I said tea. I’d like a cup of tea. Trying to impress, always trying to appear something other than what I am. I would do anything to go back to that time and tell my mother that I’d like a glass of lemonade.

I fall asleep again.

When I wake my jaw and tongue are sore.

E is for electric shock.

My muscles go into spasm, my buttocks, thighs, calves, biceps and stomach all cramp up and release. When the spasms are over, and they last maybe five, ten minutes, I’m exhausted but I find I can move. I turn on my side and manage to get myself semi-upright at the side of the bed. I’m still wearing my clothes. On the floor is the bag of broken glass I dragged up to my flat three days earlier.

My muscles are no longer in spasm but I’m shaking badly. In this fashion I make it to the kitchen. I catch a glimpse of myself in the long mirror in the landing. But it’s not me; it’s an intruder, a bearded skeleton who has ransacked my flat.

I make it to the water-tap and quench my thirst.

Then I reach to the cupboard for a chill pill. Diazepam will give me a soft landing but it’s also a muscle relaxant. The tablets are in one of those little bottles that have a safety cap to stop kids opening them. My brain tells my hand to squeeze the lid while turning, but somewhere along the line my hand doesn’t receive the signal. A task that would take me ten seconds now takes minutes. This is how it will be for the next few days. On the bottle it says ‘take one as required’. I take four, and in a couple of hours, I will take another four.

I stand over the sink sipping water, but my head is still in the room. I know I’ve forgotten something. And then I remember… F is for fish.


***

IMG_1113

Peter Jordan has received various awards, including a literary bursary from The Lisa Richards Agency, while taking an MA in Creative Writing. Two consecutive NI Arts Council grants followed soon after. His work has appeared in Thresholds, Flash500, The Pygmy Giant, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine, The Incubator, The HU, Brilliant Flash Fiction and CrabFat. In addition, three of his stories are in anthologies. He has taken time out from a PhD to write a crime novel set in Amsterdam. You will find him mostly in Belfast and Donegal and on twitter @pm_jordan.

Anatomy of Womanhood – by SERA FLYNN

 

Anatomy of Womanhood

 

  1. On feet: “Your feet must be small and soft,” they say. “You must move quietly, like the slightest breath, and stay on the marked path.”

 

Kiki doesn’t move quietly. She runs. And she is swift, swifter than the boys in her neighbourhood who drop from her peripheral vision one by one until all she sees is sky blurring by and all she feels is the pistoning of her legs, the earth traveling upwards through her veins and bursting behind her eyes.

 

The mothers soon stop that. They cluck over her, muttering that her legs are too muscular, like a boy’s, that she must walk, like a lady. They bind her feet in small patent leather shoes. The kind of shoes that reflect nothing but pitch – the color of the darkest night without stars.

 

Except the men on the corner, they see something in the reflection of those shoes they like. They sit and sneer as she passes. As quiet as a mouse, she fears their sharp gazes on her, their phlegmy snickering. She says nothing when they flick at her dress straps with their fingers or pinch the hem of her skirt. She stays still, feeling the bottoms of her feet itch.

 

But on the night when Mr. Azikiwe corners her in the alleyway, hands insistent, pressing her down, she moves like lightning. Her brother once told her lightning does not come down from the sky. “From the earth, Kiki,” he said, sighing at her fourth-grade ignorance. “It comes up from the earth to meet the sky.” And so that is what she is; neither quiet nor small nor soft – she is a lightning storm blinding him as she darts away from Mr. Azikiwe’s grasp and out into the street where she screams until the police come running.

 

That night, after questioning, in the darkness of her room, she takes off her shoes and looks at the long bones of her feet. The lightning there sparks and gutters. Still there, for the next time she needs it.

 

  1. On cunt: “Your cunt must be pure,” they say. “You must be clean and well-groomed – bare and sweet like a peach. But not too sweet, so boys know you are not to be picked.”

 

Magda has overheard the boys talk in class, sitting with shoulders hunched, elbows on knees, voices low and laughing.

 

They list off names of girls they’ve kissed up against the brick wall behind the cafeteria, exchange information about which eighth grader won’t complain if a hand slides up her skirt an inch too far, or which teacher will turn his eyes away if he stumbles across them while smoking his daily cigarette on the football field. These are the important things, things she hears over and over. She could practically recite them in her sleep.

 

Sometimes, she relays these secrets to Lily as they lounge on the window sills in the bathroom, passing a lollipop back and forth. “Skanks,” Lily scoffs. “Don’t they know you’re suppose to make them work for it?” Magda feels as though she should protest, speak up for these girls she’s known since kindergarten – Mary, Lakeisha, Jasmine. Her cheeks bloom with such hot joy at the sharpness of Lily’s language, at the sight of her cherry-colored lips on the lollipop, that she says nothing.

 

It’s when the boys in her class talk about how a girl smells, how it all depends on her hygiene, how the briny, fishy smell sticks to them, stays on their hands, that’s when Magda feels sick to her stomach.

 

She’s always liked the way she smells, a private, secret pride. Sometimes, in bed at night, she slides her hand across the warm, giving skin of her stomach, down between her thighs, twisting her fingers in the curls there. Carrying that hand to her nose, she falls asleep, comforted by the smell. She dreams of salt-skimmed ice and flying fish that break from beneath, soaring up against the moon.

 

On the night Lily wakes her with a pebble against her window. They stride through the darkened streets towards the playground, laughing in murmurs with hands held between them. Magda almost tells Lily what she’s heard, how she feels. She imagines a night when, at a sleepover, she might tell, her head bent against Lily’s own brilliant red hair. She would hear in that space before sleep Lily’s soft agreement as she slides her hand down between Lily’s thighs into the warm, bristly heat.

 

At the playground, someone waits beneath the glare of the street lamp. Magda cannot see them clearly, but the boy-shapes are big and dark. Lily ignores Magda’s question, allowing one boy to reach out and pull her against him as they approach. “Don’t,” she murmurs, but the word dissolves into a giggle.

 

Magda perches on a roundabout, trying to ignore the soft sounds coming from the end of the slide where Lily is smothered beneath a boy-shaped shadow. “Hey, wanna make out?” the other boy asks, scuffing his foot across the grass. “Sure,” she responds because – why not? His mouth is too pliant, his tongue hard and insistent and she’s about to protest when he worms his hand into her pants, then jerks it back. “Yuck, girl! Don’t you shave?” he exclaims and, from the slide, a responding snigger. Encouraged, he continues, “Just like a bramble down there.”

 

Magda has time to say nothing because it is a bramble – a briar of thick vines woven from hair. Those vines slither up around her, forming a labyrinth from which deep, blood-red roses bloom. Roses that smell of the ocean. The last thing she sees before the vines enclose her is Lily’s face, wide-eyed and staring, and the last thing she hears is a boy hissing from between his teeth “Whoa…”

 

They come to see Magda, the boys from her class. The girls, too. Sometimes, on a dare, they attempt to penetrate the briars but only scratch and scar themselves on the thorns. The vibrations reach Magda deep within where she lies nestled amongst roses. She could tell them: no sword or stone shall reach her.

 

It will take a princess with fiery red hair.

 

  1. On breasts: “Your breasts must be pert,” they say. “Round, like a lemon, but not as big as a melon – that’s too ungraceful. You must uncover them only for one who has paid for their beauty. They will offer milk to your marriage, calm the squalls of your children.”

 

Dia’s breasts get in the way, and so she binds them.

“Amazons, yo, that’s what we are,” laughs Cortez, pinching out her cigarette. “Can’t no breasts ruin our aim, eh?”  Dia sometimes wants to say: our aim is shit, sister, but this would earn her a smack across the mouth, so she keeps quiet.

Quiet like a fox – that’s what Cortez says, on account of when Las Zorras jumped Dia in she didn’t make a sound, even though they left bruises that bloomed for weeks. “Knew you was one of us, Di,” she throws away the words with a sideways sneer, but Dia gathers them up and carries them inside her heart. “The boys, they respect a girl who keeps her mouth shut.”

Dia wants to point out no one is louder than Cortez when Los Lobos are around, loping down the sidewalk, a pack circling the girls, sniffing at them. Cortez slys her eyes, lets her fingers linger a little here, laughs a little too loudly there and when Jester slides his hand beneath the hem of her shirt, she does not brush him off. “They status, Dia,” she says, later. “You gotta let them catch you now and then. The streets aren’t scared of us, y’know? We just girls. But the boys – they got real hardware.”

Dia wouldn’t know. When the boys are around, she doesn’t say a word, just tries to fold in on herself, pull her tail in, bind her breasts tighter, make sure there’s nothing they can hold onto. She is proud of being in Las Zorras, but Los Lobos are a different breed – she’s heard stories of what they do when they’re disrespected. Their hands on Las Zorras are temperamental – one minute petting, one minute sharp as blades to skin you alive.

Like Lulu.

“Hey, puta got what she deserved,” Cortez declares and the other Zorras nod. “She knows the price, man. You run with Los Lobos, you playin’ with the big dogs.”

Rumors on the street is, Lulu’s barely alive, collateral in the hazing of the gang’s newest member. When she returns, a month or so later, she’s sullen, until Cortez confronts her – “Sister, you knew what you was getting yourself into. That’s why you learn to shoot.” – as she pats the 9mm tucked in her waistband. “They get too fresh, you go all Amazon on their ass,” and she throws back her head to laugh. Dia does not point out the Amazons were a myth. She does not say ‘my heart is not mythical and magical. It’s soft and breaks easily.’

She keeps her mouth shut.

The night Los Lobos come for Dia, she tries to slither, boneless from their grasp. She has mostly gone unnoticed in their rituals, but she knows she cannot escape their hazing forever, even using her binding as armor. In the shifting shadows of the streetlamps, they’re a route of shadows that grunt and murmur as they tug at her shirt, at her pants, pull her from herself. The concrete is rough against her ass, someone fumbles with the bandages around her breasts, uncoiling them and then kneels between her legs.  The night air, cold on her skin, makes her gasp. Her voice is unleashed. She yaps and hollers, biting when someone places a hand – salty and stinking of metal – against her mouth.

“Yo, someone’s gonna hear. Bitch ain’t worth it man,” she hears amidst her noise.

Then, the gunshot. She explodes into darkness.

They give her the bullet, later, at the hospital, flattened out like a penny on the A-train track. “Oddest thing,” the doctor tells her. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Your breast bone and your ribcage – for lack of a better explanation – are impenetrable. Like steel. The bullet bruised you. There might be internal damage.”

Dia smiles. She knows the truth of that.

 

  1. On mouth: “Words must fall from your mouth like petals,” they say. “You must practice a pleasant and rich tone so that you will not sound shrill. A woman’s purpose is not to scold. You must be measured, not harsh or too emotional – emotion is a woman’s weakness.”

 

“Speak to her,” they tell Jo. “She can hear you.”

But Jo doesn’t know what to say. Her mother is ensnared in a tangle of wires and beeping monitors, perhaps no longer there at all. After all, even though Jo hears the shrill tone of her mother’s heartbeat, when she places her hand on her mother’s chest, she feels nothing.

Jo was not present when her mother fell, lecture at the local University interrupted mid-word. She only knows what happened because she heard the nurses whispering, saw some of the students milling about in the waiting room.

“Excuse me,” one of them say, as Jo passes on her way to the vending machines. It’s past midnight. “Can I just say that Professor Hoffman is an inspiration to me. She always has been. I’m just so devastated about what happened.”

A young girl. No more than twenty-one, bright-eyed and fresh out of the package. Jo doesn’t bother to say she lost her mother years ago, before she wrote The Wyldwood. Before she became an entry in Time magazine as one of the Decade’s Most Influential People. Before she was awarded an honorary doctorate and began teaching. Back when her words were whisky-soaked and wild.

“She always told the best stories, in class,” the girl continues. “It must have been amazing growing up with a mother with such a vivid imagination.”

Vivid. Jo’s can’t pinpoint exactly when she realized her mother was different. She does remember her mother’s first attempt to commit suicide, one weekend in the cottage by the lake, remembers finding her slumped in a patio chair, murmuring to herself with a bottle of JD in her hand, an empty bottle of pills on the table next to her. Her words spilled out, half-formed, dark, seeping like ink. Terrified, Jo ran from them where they pooled on her mother’s chest, shifting like a cancerous growth. She ran into the trees, stumbling over roots. That’s where the ambulance driver found her.

She was seven.

It was then Jo stopped talking, overwhelmed by nightmares that her words, like her mother’s, might writhe out of her mouth, alive and insidious. For years, she remained silent. And then, fifteen, tired of her mother’s blackouts, she learned words could be weapons. She could use them to cut and maim. “I hate you!” she screamed, in that last argument. Her mother’s outstretched hands, bleeding at the palm. “I hope you fucking die.”

The last words she spoke to her mother.

Until now.

“I’ve missed you, ” Jo speaks softly. The hospital is asleep and dreaming, lights low, hallway mostly empty. She wonders how many people in this hospital will wake again. “They say you can hear me.”

She hesitates, uncertain. Searching for strength, she curls a hand against her stomach.

“I remember, Mama. I remember the stories you told me when I was young. Before…” The stories that later became the property of the world, but which, at first, were hers and hers alone. “There’s a lot of other things I remember, too. I’m still mad at you about that.” Tears spill onto Jo’s cheeks, burning hot. She swallows the fire, feels it pool, molten, inside.

“Mama, I remember Wyldwood?” The word itself – Wyldwood – exhales in a glittering curlicue of gold.  Fireflies. They cast light on her mother’s face, across the forest of wires that surround them. “You need to come back, Come back to me. I love you.”

At that word – love –  the fireflies burst into a shower of tiny, gilt petals that, spiraling through the air, catch against her mother’s lips, her cheeks and settle on their hands, entwined on the bed.

And with that, Jo settles in to tell the story that was, once upon a time, the way her mother found a path in the dark, tangled forest of their life.

Once upon a time, there was a girl…

 

 

  1. On hair: “Your hair is your crowning glory,” they say. “It must be long and lustrous, perfumed so that you may bathe your lover in its beauty. But it must be covered, for it will tempt the men around you – ‘it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man (1 Corinthians 11:7).”

 

 

“Not too short,” the barber scolds when Stella asks for a trim. He weighs the length of her brown hair in his palm. She watches it slide through his calloused fingers with the odd feeling of witnessing a private joy. “Too much like a boy,” he barks and his colleague, who sweeps hair from the floor into spiky little piles, laughs too.

 

Stella thinks of her bureau covered in expensive bottles of dry hair shampoo, waxes, balms, mousses and the hour and a half it takes her to get ready every morning. She thinks of Heath, how he stands in the bedroom doorway each evening, silhouetted against the hallway light, as she brushes her hair in the mirror. How, when he leans down to kiss her neck, he carries the scent of someone else.

 

“All of it,” Stella says, the sudden decision a flame catching in her chest.  “I want all of it gone,” and the barber mutters and moans as he shaves it down, taking the money she hands him afterwards with begrudging grace. Before leaving the shop, she winds her head up in a grey scarf, carefully.

 

Heath has recently engaged in an affair with one of the girls from his troupe, a young supporting actress with impeccable dramatic timing and extraordinarily long blond hair. Stella constantly finds these golden hairs around the house – caught in the drain, in the underwear drawer, between her socks, in the soup she prepares for supper.

 

“You’re so busy,” Heath said, when she confronted him about it, hissing in whispers off stage left. “Your work keeps you away from me, Stel. You’re not who you used to be.” and he turned away from her, towards the group of actors huddling, awaiting his direction. As though that was the end of it.

 

And perhaps it is. That night, after her hair is cut, watching him from furtively from beneath her eyelashes over the dinner table, her head still covered, she wonders if this is all her fault: the long hours at the office, the grey in her hair, the way their conversations slowly became only about the house or the fertility treatments. Even their love-making has become rare and mechanical, a means to an end. She remembers those first few months of marriage spent lazy and love-swollen in their bed. They only left to eat. She cooked him meals wearing nothing but her combat boots.“My star girl,” he called her, unfurling the words into her ear. “My spitfire. You burn me,” and sure enough, he carried the marks of her on his body. She let him claim her, make her fire cool to his touch.

 

“I’ve changed my hair,” she says, now, unraveling the scarf. He pauses in his meal, blinking.

 

“What the fuck, Stel?” He spits. “Don’t you think you’re a little old to be a hipster? You look like a dyke.”

 

Anger flares in her, but she quells it. Stands, throws her dishes into the sink and retreats to the bedroom. There, she sits at her dresser, staring at the dark space of her face in the mirror. After a moment, she sees a spark. Just one. A quick glint that blinks out. Startled, she raises a hand to her scalp but finds only the satisfying bristle against her fingertips.

 

The next day, avoiding the sideways glances of her colleagues, she leaves the office at lunchtime, wandering through the side streets of the neighbourhood. She still feels odd about the hair – constantly catching herself reaching up to feel it, and so she avoids the windows. It doesn’t take her too long to find a tattoo parlor.

 

“Lady,” the tattoo artist, a thin young man with snakes curling up his arms, whistles as she perches on his chair, “I love the hair. Bold.” She thanks him, pointing out the star she’d like inked onto the nape of her neck. It takes only minutes, the needle’s lick scalding her skin. “There ya go, sister,” the artist concludes. “With that hair, and your tattoo, seems like you might need to get yourself some new threads.”

 

It’s opening night, and she’s ahead on her paperwork, so Stella calls into the office to tell them she won’t be returning. Instead of frequenting her usual store, a place that sells high-end collections that always seem to be in muted, work-appropriate shades of grey, she meanders into a small thrift shop just around the corner. The place has always caught her eye, with brightly-colored displays, but she’s never had the nerve to enter. There, she picks out a second hand dress the color of soot, studded with shimmering golden paillettes. “A night sky,” the woman behind the counter coos. “With your hair, you are a constellation. With stars on your skin.” And sure enough, when Stella reaches to touch her tattoo, it simmers beneath her hand.

 

It is late – she’s lost track of the time – and so Stella refuses a bag, instead keeps the dress on. As she’s paying, a pair of threadbare combat boots catches her eye. She buys them too. She walks the several blocks to the theatre, with each stomp feeling the anger in her at Heath’s betrayal unfurl and loosen in her chest. People who pass turn to stare at the anger and then fierce joy rising from her, a trail of embers that spiral on the breeze.

 

At the theatre’s front doors, reaching for a door handle, Stella catches sight of her reflection. Her hair has ignited, a nest of flame that lights her whole face. Shocked, she reaches up and finds stars hidden in the bright strands. Stars that gutter in the palm of her hand.

 

Ignoring the people that stare out through the glass at her, she throws her head back and releases her laughter up against the moon. Then, turning, she keeps walking – through the streets into the luminous dark, hand cupped against her stomach.

 

She will call her Esther, this white-hot star inside her. Together, they will be a galaxy.

***

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Sera Flynn lives at the edge of the world with her husband and two beasties. She tames high school students for a living and in her spare time likes to collect folklore and swim with sea monsters. 

Teresa Law – Art, Life and Artlife.

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Sick Lit Magazine: What inspires your work?

Teresa Law: Women, primarily. I am a feminist and that influences me a lot, along with bright colours and sarcasm. Three things that I love! I’ve always drawn cartoonish pictures, and I think that’s continued many years later. I find that a backstory or argument or some social situation quite often sparks off an idea for a drawing or painting!

Stress

SLM: So is there any digital artwork in your future? Any tattooing?

TL: Maybe digital. I like the effects and I really admire graphic design but I do really prefer “real life” drawing – mainly because I suck with a tablet or in photoshop!

SLM: Any exciting projects in the works right now?

TL: I’m planning on a series of drawings based on Neil Gaiman’s novel ‘Neverwhere’, which I’m excited to start. It’s one of my favourite stories by one of my favourite authors based on my favourite city.

LiterallyDead

SLM: What music are you listening to right now?

TL: Based on my favourite playlist on Spotify, I have been listening to LION BABE, Halsey, Dizzee Rascal, Shamir, Phil Oakley, OMD, Kanye, Chairlift and Elle King. Bit of a mixture!

WE

SLM: Tell us something not many people know about you.

TL: I have such verbal diarrhoea and no boundaries so most people know most stuff about me – I genuinely cannot think of anything! Maybe that’s something in itself!

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***

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Teresa likes her art with a bit of feminism, sarcasm, and lots of bright colours. She currently juggles motherhood, project management, office politics and a fledgling artist dream. 

IG/Twitter: @msteresalaw

portfolio: teresalaw.net

Poetry from – PAUL TRISTRAM

Life Is Not Like A Box Of Chocolates At All

 


 

It’s like a record of nursery rhymes

being dragged backwards

revealing Satanic messages

mocking and goading you into

self sabotage and emotional annihilation.

Nothing in your starving cupboards

but that same old ‘big bag of dicks’.

Sexually transmitted diseases and diabetes

town-stalking you on Valentine’s Day.

A crack in your only beer glass, Jesus!

The constantly parroted, multi-voiced “No!”

Guilty until proven a little bit less guilty

(At which point nobody really cares anymore!)

False friendships without benefits.

The comfort of underachieving.

2 + 2 = complications and migraines.

‘The End Is Nigh’ is the future waving

and confused deathbed cries of

“What the fuck was that all about?”

 

© Paul Tristram 2016

 


 

 

Drawing On Desperation

 

Sometimes that is all that you have got left,

yet, there is an energy to this too,

if you can just focus and use it to your advantage

before it dissipates into apathy.

Desperation is not a nice feeling

but you can Drive that Bastard

before it Drives You,

off to those dark, negative places.

Grab that bitch of a wheel, take control,

learn to manoeuvre the stalking madness,

steer down those panicking rapids,

gear change and side-corner your way out of there.

Sometimes merely Surviving is enough

and not Losing Today

means that you are setting yourself up

to Winning one of your approaching Tomorrows.

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

 

Your True Colours Are Making Me Vomit

 

So that’s what all the mask-wearing’s for!

I only just realized exactly what the word

‘Vile’ means, up until then I thought (Silly me!)

that it was to describe mediocre things

like ‘That Food Doesn’t Taste Very Nice’

or ‘The Dogshit That You’ve Just Stepped In’.

I’m actually cringing at my own naivety

and innocence in such diabolical matters.

Ah, that explains the lashing out

and picking holes in random people…Insecurity.

I mean, you are bound to be insecure

carrying that ‘Picture Of Dorian Grey’

around with you inside, all of the time, right.

I’m starting to understand, well, in a car crash

sort of way, where you want to have a peek

but your natural, decent impulse is to flee

as far away from the ugliness of it as possible.

It’s a shame they don’t do ‘Soul Transplants’

or  ‘Personality Cosmetic Surgery’ but they don’t.

Oooh, it’s frustrating just thinking about it

so I’m going to stop now, I’m just really relieved

that the repulsive problem isn’t mine in the slightest.

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

 

Only My Fucking Soul

 

No, I absolutely disagree with you!

That is not the right way of doing it at all,

it’s simply your way.

Don’t you dare try to direct me,

I have a brain of my own, you know.

I’m not being an arsehole…you are!

Who’s up in who’s biscuit here?

You don’t know what’s best for me,

stop being so ridiculous.

I don’t need your help,

there wasn’t a problem until you appeared.

I don’t need you to explain,

you’re not clearing anything up,

your just making a mess all by yourself.

You just want to see me happy, really?

Ok then, see that door over there?

Trot on through it and go bother someone else.

There’s nothing here for you

but a big old bunch of Middle Fingers.

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


 

 

The Phantom Sycophant (The Revenge Of!)

 

I’ll win your attention with fake admiration,

I’m a master at it and here’s some I prepared earlier.

Stroke your Ego’s dick just so J

until I’m the very favourite of your ‘Narcissistic Supply’

Butter you up with exaggerations,

smile widely…I mean frown deeply

and shake my condescending head caringly

when you are not getting your own way L

Aww, you are just like a pet puppy and a Superior

all rolled up into one temperamental bundle.

And when those crocodile tears don’t work

and give way to real ones, I get a cute little glimpse

of that shocking pain and vulnerability.

I see the frightened little, wounded child you really are,

all alone in that normally hidden corner of your soul

and I swear it makes me fucking drip,

I’m addicted to that pathetic, lushest bullseye, yummy!

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 

 


 

 

Is This Just Your ‘Lying Sack Of Shit’ Phase?

 

Right outside of Superdrug in the Shopping Centre,

Christmas shoppers manic, aggressive and obnoxious,

elbow to elbow in all directions.

She stopped a little ahead of me and screamed

like ‘happening roadkill’

“Is this just your ‘Lying Sack of Shit’ phase?

because, stick a fucking fork in me, I’m so done with it!”

Then she threw the phone to the ground with a loud crack

and preceded to stamp up and down upon it.

A Security Guard rushed on over,

she wasn’t dragged away like a shoplifter

but directed away firmly by the shaking arm, muttering

“I’m so sorry but the man is killing me slowly inside

with illogical, irrational, unnecessary mind games.

I’ve swapped the love inside my heart

for a torture chamber within my poor crestfallen soul!”

 

© Paul Tristram 2015

 


***

paul smoking

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet.
Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press)  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096
‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036

And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope
at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204

You can also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

*Photo courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito.*

My Favourite Things – by C.C. O’HANLON

My Favourite Things
(Berlin, 2015)
 

 

sam shepard’s ‘motel chronicles’, glenn gould playing j.s. bach, books, gaff-rigged bristol pilot cutters, nautical charts, the idea of lamu island and zanzibar, ilford 35mm black & white film, expressions of love in spanish, the meaning of saudade, miles davis, john coltrane, conga drums and bongoes, the backstreets of marrakesh, naples and havana, my 20-year-old leather backpack, my leather-bound pocket atlas (a gift from a woman who worked for me), my maori bone hei matau, british ordnance survey maps, african and latina women, dark skin, long legs and firm round asses,‘oil notes’ by rick bass, joseph conrad’s ‘heart of darkness’, ‘the fly trap’ by fredrik sjöberg, bill drummond doing what he calls ‘art’ and his writings about it, malcolm mclaren talking about almost anything, german-made fountain pens, noodler’s inks, 20th century french novelists, analog moog synthesisers, joan didion’s early essays (especially ‘the white album’), the rolling stones’ original versions of ‘gimme shelter’ and ’sympathy for the devil’, ali farka touré’s modal riffs, the western isles and northwest coast of scotland in spring, the b&w photographs robert frank took in the ’50s as he drove across america, richard misrach’s ‘desert cantos’, wim wender’s ‘paris, texas’ and ‘wings of desire’ (i like his diaristic photo book, ‘once’, too), jim jarmusch’s ‘only lovers left alive’, indian ocean sailing dhows, old boat compasses, my vintage flying boat sextant, the cheap but accurate swiss wind-up watch my mother gave me when i first went to sea, that first glimpse of the mojave desert driving east from l.a. on interstate 40, and of morocco’s atlas mountains, at dawn, sailing through the straits of gibraltar from the west, the mediterranean sea, van morrison’s voice, and aretha franklin’s and julie driscoll’s, the ideas of john cage and of jean-luc godard, cornelius cardew’s ‘scratch music’, gorodish and alba in delacorta’s series of novels, ‘haunts of the black masseur’ by charles sprawson, peter beard’s collaged diaries, steve dilworth’s visceral sculpture, the smooth stones i’ve collected from beaches on three oceans, garlic, wasabi, peking duck in pancakes, ice-cold champagne (bollinger, when I can afford it, or louis roederer cristal), baden powell’s guitar-playing, samba, salvador de bahia, standing at the edge of an empty sahara, sailing a felucca up the nile, the writings of william burroughs, barry gifford and charlie smith, the history of zero, the smell of bangkok by the river at dawn, summer nights in tokyo, long periods of silence, hugging my children, playing my solid mahogany tenor ukulele (a 61st birthday gift from my wife), my fender telecaster and gibson lucille guitars, shona sculpture, an etching i have by armodio (‘l’urlatrice’), the songs of tom waits, alan ginsberg’s photos of beat writers – burroughs and paul bowles, especially – in new york and tangier, jack kerouac’s writings (even though i’ve outgrown them), ‘the outsider’ by colin wilson, bowles’ ‘the sheltering sky’, playing blackjack at caesars’, las vegas, in the early hours of a week-day morning, café tacuba’s huevos con molé in mexico city, the garden derek jarman made at prospect cottage in dungeness, jarman’s diaries, da vinci’s notebooks, don mccullin’s photographs and mary ellen mark’s when she was younger (the ones in goa), dancing alone to 60s’ soul music, the scent of frangipani, the white noise of heavy monsoonal rain, my long, old-school powell skateboard with big urethane wheels, early silver surfer comic books, 70s’ ‘avant-garde’ music scores from peters and universal edition, my all-mechanical olympus 35 sp camera and my rolleiflex tlr, cecil taylor on piano, dave holland on bass, ginger baker on drums, the movie version of joseph conrad’s ‘lord jim’, cary grant in ‘father goose’, david lean’s ‘lawrence of arabia’, donald cammell’s ‘perfomance’, snowdonia in mid-wales, taos in new mexico (and the sangre de cristo mountains), sailing close by stromboli on a calm, moonlit night, the smooth skin and skinny bodies of young japanese women, everything about italian women, palm trees, passionfruit, seedless grapes, mandarins, uncooked cherry tomatoes, the oakland raiders (even when they’re losing), swimming alone in a warm pool, the bath tubs at the ritz-carlton in singapore in the 90s, afternoon tea (pg tips) with scones, thick cream and damson jam (preferably tiptree’s), albert ayler on sax, derek bailey’s free-form solos on guitar, ‘colour: a natural history of the palette’ by victoria finlay, tom mccarthy’s ‘satin island’, william gibson’s science fiction, sylvie guillem dancing, van cliburn playing brahms’ second piano concerto, keith richards’ and john lee hooker’s grungy guitar licks, j.j. cale’s muted finger picking, the long solo voyages of bernard moitessier under sail and the writings that came from them, the voyages of david lewis and of bill tilman (aboard ‘mischief’), old tahiti ketches designed by john hanna, thomas colvin’s modern steel sailing junks, target shooting with a high-calibre handgun (like a colt python .357 magnum), watching dark frontal clouds gather ahead of a storm, the grim stillness of tornado weather in northern oklahoma, big hotel rooms, late night room service, landing in los angeles from the west late at night, yakitori at a basement place i know in hiroshima, the gharana of the tabla, welsh male voice choirs, playing scrabble, the lives of sir richard francis burton and t.e. lawrence, thom gunn’s poems, also e.e cummings’ and mira gonzalez’s, gore vidal on american politics, sex and other writers, the stone hanko engraved for me using an old form of katakana in hiroshima, hand-tooled knives, walking through rome early in the morning, rooftop terraces in trastevere, out-of-the-way trattorie in monti, vitello parmigiano, tortellini, stracciatella, and sambuca, the amalfi coast, iain sinclair writing about his walks around london, living in los angeles (when i have money), driving north from santa monica on the pacific coast highway, big sur 30 years ago,’60s american muscle cars, joyce singing ‘agua de março’ or astrud gilberto, or the version marisa monte and david byrne did for ‘red, hot and rio’, ‘sitting’ by cat stevens. ‘dumb things’ by paul kelly, the emotions singing ‘best of my love’, the idea of the congo and the mekong and of rusty tramp steamers sailing to up-river jungle ports, berlin in autumn just before the leaves fall, all the works of anselm kiefer and cy twombly, francesco clemente’s exotic watercolours, ‘the pugilist’ sculpted in iron by robert brennan, marilyn manson’s ‘we’re killing strangers’, smokey robinson’s ’tracks of my tears’, the first whiff of salt air and coconut oil at an australian surf beach, longboarding on a glassy point break at wategos in byron bay, the mexican movie ‘y tu mama tambien’, almodovar’s ‘todo sobre mi madre’ and ‘matador’, cluttered but stylish old parisian apartments, any clapboard boatshed and jetty on a quiet bay or river bank, a stone cottage above a rocky north atlantic shore (in nova scotia, maybe, or shetland), solitude.

[Berlin, November, 2015]

***
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***C.C. O’Hanlon is what the Germans call a lebenskünstler (‘life artist’). He has also been called ‘an indisciplined polymath’ and ‘a rogue’. He refuses to be called a writer, although he has published numerous essays, short stories, and diaristic photographs. He currently lives in Berlin. Find him on Twitter @ccohanlon ***

Almost Invisible – by JASON JACKSON

Almost Invisible

Sometimes, when she’s hardly there at all, I suggest a separation, a short time only, her parents’ place perhaps, but she says nothing, reaches out to touch me, pulls back, and the two wine glasses, the two plates will still need to be washed each evening, reminders that she’s here, still here, just not really with me at all.

Television is easy. The chatter, the silvery flicker. There are nights when that is all we do, motionless and apart. She reads sometimes, and I watch her. She is beautiful, slim, her smooth legs pulled up beneath her, fingers sometimes unknowingly in her mouth, in her hair. I watch the pages that she doesn’t turn, and when she puts the book down, when she leaves the room without a word and goes upstairs, I pick up the book, I read the words she is blind to. I listen to her movements, and I wait.

I wait for her to sleep.

I come home with flowers. Monday. Friday. She is meticulous, trimming the stalks, arranging, but then sometimes it is as if she is lost. I have stood in the doorway to the kitchen, watching her running the cold tap into the vase, the water spilling over the glass lip. I have stood there, minute after minute. I have watched, turned away.

If she is lost, then I am too.

She is not ill. Not really. She is only sad, and I cannot help her, because I cannot reach her, and I no longer want to. What I want is for the wine glass to be mine only, the plate to be mine alone.

I want to come home to a different kind of emptiness, the kind that lets me breathe.

She still has friends, and apparently I am ‘wonderful’. I am ‘so patient’. I am ‘a rock’. I am none of these things which they suggest. I am an erection nursed and carried guiltily to the shower. I am the time that I tried, just for a second, to force her – silent, strong – and I am the tears I cried into her silence. I am the perfume I bought for her the next day, the silver shoes she has never worn. I am the shouting of words, a fist against the wall.

I am here, she is almost invisible, and we are killing something together.

I believe something has happened, and that I have not been told. An affair. A miscarriage. An abortion. She is all silence, all secrets. But then, suddenly, I know there is nothing, nothing at all, other than the disappointment of the sky through the window, hour after hour of it, the empty blue, the distance.

I know that she loves me, that we love each other, and that it has not been enough; I know that soon it will happen, whatever it is.

I remember the coast, two years ago, her running barefoot through the soft sand, stumbling, falling. I remember her laugh, the easy weight of her as I lifted her. Making love in the hotel, we left sand in the sheets, and it stuck to the sweat of our skin. In the room there was a ceiling fan, and it spun slightly off-axis as we lay in the cool of its breath, hypnotised, as happy as either of us had ever been.

Sometimes, when I’m falling asleep, I still think of how the sky that summer seemed a kind of blue I’d never seen, and filled with something like hope.

***

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Jason Jackson writes short fiction and poetry. You can find links to his work at www.tryingtofindthewords.blogspot.co.uk. Jason tweets @jj_fiction.

*Photography courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*

 

 

 

Father’s Guitar – by KATE JONES

 

Father’s Guitar

 

His guitar stands resplendent,

Statuesque.  His muse – ethereal,

awaiting him to place it into its tomb-like case.

He strokes it with long, practised fingers,

caressing the taut strings.

I watch as he takes the instrument into his arms,

gently placing it into the case lined with purple velvet,

as one would place a newborn,

holding the back of the spine until last.

Clicking silver clasps shut, he leaves.

I crawl from my hiding place,

lying myself down on the cheap carpet beside it.

I am the same length exactly

as my rival.

I move close, closer still –

and, like osmosis,

try to absorb a piece of his affection.

Kate Jones ©

***

KATEJONES

***Kate is a freelance writer based in the UK who writes articles, including regular contributions to online women’s magazine Skirt Collective, as well as publishing life writing and poetry both in print and online.  She has a passion for flash fiction and short stories, and is usually found lurking around coffee shops, writing and listening to other people’s conversations. Jones has also become a regular contributor to Sick Lit Magazine, and is a 2016 nominee for the Pushcart Prize through Sick Lit Magazine.***

She blogs at www.writerinresidenceblog.wordpress.com.

Find Kate on Twitter at:  https://twitter.com/katejonespp