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.*

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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.

***

20151027_135859

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

Arise – by ANNE ELIZABETH WEISGERBER

Arise

by Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber

 

Irwin Richardt had a mind to make a cup of tea.  Early as it was, the honey bees’ fellowship meeting inside the bedroom wall was underway, and their humming was peaceful, contemplative. He closed his eyes and listened. Hot as the day was shaping up to be, he tugged up Big Tee’s quilt and nestled against its folds.  O, mama’s fingers sweet-stitched those curlicue coxcombs, cherry trees, and pineapples in 1928 when Irwin came along.

Glorious as those sweet stitches were, there was nothing in Old Irwin’s clapboard homestead to eat today.  Walnuts wouldn’t mature for another month.  The berries were through.

Buckthorn tea was all.

Rallying, Old Irwin first decided he’d recite the Bill of Rights, and get on out to the well pump and add some water to that chipped enamel pan, then strike a flint. Did he have it in him, he wondered plain, to strike?  He pushed back the coverlet, weary. Stood.

O, his vision faded from the bottom up, like water filling a pan. He blanked long enough to fall, and fell hard enough to break.

Big Tee’s hushed voice said hold, son.  Give me a moment here and I’ll take your hand.

And by-the-by, she stitched him fresh cherries and knotted him fancy black-currant berries, and hot as the day was, Old Irwin plumed cool and bright as well water.

# # #

Weisgerber headshot

Look for Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber’s stories in New South, Tahoma Literary Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Vignette Review, Revolution John, and Jellyfish Review. She is a freelance fiction editor, and her chapbook reviews appear in Change Seven Magazine; she reads fiction for Pithead Chapel.  When not teaching, she’s working on a novel that spans five generations, or looking out the kitchen window at her fascinating goats, Snapdragon and Socrates. Follow her @AEWeisgerber, or visit anneweisgerber.com

*Photography by Brian Michael Barbeito*

Mask – by KATIE LEWINGTON

Mask

 

‘Do you think I’m dirty?’ he spat out the words into her face. Her hair was held in his fist like a bunch of balloons at the end of a string. ‘You know, I am dirty but I don’t think taking a shower is going to get me clean.’ He took a breath, while his eyes tried to meet hers. ‘You know, I was going to infect you ‘cos you’re just a filthy whore anyway, aren’t you?’ He released her, slamming her head against the plasterboard wall. ‘I know you. I know you exactly now so you better be watching for me.’

—–

The day for her had begun in the usual way. She woke, she had had two minutes to herself and then walked over to the window to open the curtains. She had stood for a moment almost like she was waiting for something. She strolled out into the hallway, knocking on her daughter’s bedroom door and then stepping into the bathroom, peeing and ducking underneath the shower. The tap still leaked, the plant still dead on the mouldy windowsill and with the water still in the bath from her daughter’s bath last night. The decay in here seemed obvious. It wasn’t so evident in the rest of the house. It was Friday so she cooked bacon, made bacon butties. She loaded the dishwasher and tumble dryer, compiling a list of shopping she needed to get and clearing her daughter’s homework off the table and into her school bag. She poured herself a glass of orange juice, noticing in the mirror she still hadn’t wiped the sleeping dust from her eyes.

—–

He was a big man. Fleetingly when she was naked she felt vulnerable but then when he was unclothed she felt on top again. The male form was silly and as he dug into her with his penis she seized the bed sheets, releasing wild cries, helpless under him.

When he had had his hour she locked up and for lunch went to McDonald’s. Her body still rattled from the sex.

—–

She stood at the stairs the following morning. ‘Come on, you have to leave. You’re going to be late for school.’

‘Are you sure my hair looks alright?’ came the reply.

‘Yes, when I saw it it looked fine.’

Her daughter skipped down, her skirt high: above the thighs.

‘You’ve shortened that, take it down an inch,’ she said. Her daughter scowled but did so.

‘Love you,’ she called to her mum as her boyfriend collected her, on his way to school too.

‘And you’ She answered.

—–

On the bed messaging, their contact was through holding hands, thumb wrestling and giggling. Then there was the sound of the front door opening.

‘That your mum?’ He asks

‘Yeah’ she nods.

‘What’s she do during the day?’

‘Don’t know, work.’

‘Let’s meet her then.’

They clip clop down the stairs.

‘Hi mum.’

‘Hello. Hi Dominic. I’ve got to change my clothes, I’m going back out. Will you be alright for a couple of hours?’

‘Sure.’

When they were in the hall the two of them, mum gone, Dominic tugged her hand. ‘Show me now. We have ages,’ he said.

‘No let’s go to Nandos.’

‘Alright then,’ He tuts.

—–

‘Take a pic then. Show me-‘ He messages her as she reaches her form room on the second bell and so then did a u turn to the toilets. Locked in a cubicle, she nuzzled her boobs together to form a cleavage. She took a pic of her V too. She had shaved it like on the pornos. The sound effect of the snap of the shot shook her. She had to sign in late before rushing to her lesson.

‘Where you been?’ Jo asked, as she sat next to her.

‘Later,’ She answered, shaking her hair from the collar of her blazer.

She didn’t want to bump into Dominic as she hadn’t sent the pictures yet. She sat on a toilet during break, messaging mates. She really fancied a Mars Bar but that would have to wait now.

She sent the pictures as she walked home, deciding to go there straight from school. Get into bed and wait to see what Dominic said, if anything.

Falling asleep she woke in the night. Her phone was lit up and it wouldn’t drop, kept on flashing like an SOS signal. She picked it up like you would a hot coal, scrolling through social network sites.

She couldn’t sign into one and when she searched herself she discovered why. There were pictures, the pictures she had taken for Dominic. Somebody had hacked into her accounts, that happened to everybody, but nobody else had these pictures. She had only shot them yesterday. She trusted Dominic, had. He must have done this but why.

‘Mum?’ She called. ‘Mum?’

‘What’s wrong?’ her mum asked, her nightdress tucked into her knickers and hair swept in a curtain over her face. She instantly forgot that and touched her daughter’s creased forehead, wanting to hug her but that wouldn’t be tolerated.

‘Wanted to know you were in,’ her daughter said. She left her daughter and went back to her bed, thoroughly puzzled and then sighed, noticing. She straightened the sheet on her lonely double bed that she no longer shared, although sometimes she would be joined by the cat.

—–

She knew it would be hell in school that morning. That it couldn’t have possibly been dreamt, it had hurt for one thing. She concealed breakfast in the bin from mum, though she seemed to be busier this morning, chiding her for this and that. She didn’t want to go to school but felt she had to get from under her mum’s feet.

However she tried not she still got to school, her stomach churned.  Was it just paranoia or were people’s faces turned away from her? Harry always said hello but he almost sent her off her feet this morning, his face blank and Marnie’s was scornful, walking away as she approached her. She chose to go to form. She didn’t see Dominic until the next day and the pictures were blowing about, metaphorically speaking, like chip papers on a sea front. Her friends were tagging the photos ‘Like mother, like daughter’

She confronted Dominic. ‘Your mum’s a hooker’ He sneered as she tried to explain to him what she had rehearsed in the mirror at home. That was what made her cry finally, she felt like a Muppet and she howled in the toilets. Everybody knew how she was naked. She was vulnerable.

Her face blotchy, she couldn’t bear to go to double science, and stumbled, keeping close to the wall, to the school nurse, begged to be let home and though the nurse agreed, she vanished from the sickroom and she was alone there, head bowed all afternoon. Dreading if anybody harsher, a deputy head, came by her and demanded answers to why she was there. She would think her pathetic and even worse if the staff knew about the pictures, doubly pathetic.

She sobbed home going to her bed. Her stomach was iron and she wasn’t hungry.

——

After a few days of what she considered to be moping, she asked her daughter if Dominic had finished with her.

‘No,’ she wailed, tears rolled down her cheeks.

‘Then what-‘

‘You’re a hooker. That’s what he said!’ she screeched. That bought her time. Her mother left her alone. She did not want to be alone and she didn’t want to be ignored. She wanted to explain even though nobody seemed to want to know. She had tried to close her accounts, to delete those stupid pictures but there were new pages on the sites titled ‘Cathy’s pussy.’ When would people forget about it, next week? After the weekend she hoped and then people would draw nearer to her again.

Her mum tried once more.

‘Is there-‘ She brought jam and toast to her bed on Saturday morning. ‘Anything you would like me to know?’

She showed mum the pictures and hugged her so as not to see the disappointment on her face.

‘Silly girl,’ her mum patted her back then her palm lay still, flat on it, she thought. ‘I’ll go to the school Monday and get this sorted.’

‘Well how will that help?’

‘It will, have faith. Haven’t I got you out of a lot of things?’

——

Monday a call came while she watched the kettle boil. Her mind elsewhere she did not check the callers ID, a client most likely, and answered a bright ‘Hello?’

‘You husband stealing bitch, is he with you now?’

A wife, her mood sunk, and she observed a bird flutter past the window. ‘Is he with you now? Has he gone to work, really, is he there?’

‘Oh listen to yourself!’ she snapped, disconnecting the call. She twisted on a tap and put the phone under the gush of water, instead of the mug she wanted to rinse. She shook off the phone and stared off into space again. How was she going to talk to her daughters tutor about these photos? He was a male, it would compromise him.

She leapt when the phone rang. This time she approached it carefully. It was, thankfully, a client. He wanted to cancel and there was her perfect opportunity to go to the school. Today it was Monday, would nip it in the bud, and she got inside her car. Drove to the petrol station to fill her up. She bought the newspaper and a bag of revels. It didn’t seem enough to eat them reading the paper in the car so she took them to the bench on a hill. The wind blew the paper, smudged her fingers with ink and she scattered the revels trying to control it. She stamped on the crumpled paper in her heels, splattering the revels too. Heels, why hadn’t she changed into her trainers?

Chest heaving she sat to get her puff back, gathering her hair in a tail to stop that going and shut her eyes. She was afraid to open them in case that man, that threatening man, was beside her. She seemed to see him everywhere she went. Sometimes she swore they were daft hallucinations.

She must go to the school, cocking up her own life, no point doing that to her daughters too. The man wouldn’t care for long. He wouldn’t put her in any real danger and that wife, she had had wives calling before. Some of the wives wanted to know if her services were available to them too and she said they were.

****

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Katie Lewington loves her boyfriend, bacon sandwiches, poetry and reality TV. She is a published poet. She reads fiction for The Pithead Chapel Journal and poetry for the Transcending Shadows review and Punks Write Poems Press. You can read her book reviews at https://katiecreativewriterblog.wordpress.com and find out about her upcoming YA novel here https://www.facebook.com/Its-love-until-somebody-says-otherwise-1736681486563835/

*Photography by Brian Michael Barbeito*

My Name Is – by KATE JONES

My Name Is

It started with her name.

She gave it up quite willingly; exchanged her father’s for her lover’s at the altar.  Standing there in an ivory dress and her grandmother’s pearls, she had felt a tiny snap as a bit of her broke off, but nobody else seemed to notice.

She carried on much as before, though each time she was called by the foreign, impostor name – at doctor’s appointments and such – she felt a little bit more go.  Each time she was referred to as ‘Simon’s Wife,’ she heard the snap; felt a little less.

Just a tiny freckle, or a finger nail, not enough for anyone to notice.

With each child she birthed – three in total – she felt a little bit more slip away.  She was beginning to notice the gaps now, the lack of an earlobe; the loss of a tooth.  Each time she was referred to as ‘Matthew’s Mum,’ more flesh shriveled.  She kept looking around her to check if anyone else had noticed, but nobody seemed to.

Some days, in the fog of packed lunches and dirty football kits, she struggled to recall her own name – so long it had been since anyone had used it.

And yet, it was such a pretty name, if anyone cared enough to remember it.

Even her husband, grown grey at the temples and stressed around the eye sockets, didn’t use it often.  In company, she was dear, or darling, or simply: she.

In bed, he favoured other names – or none at all.  She would have liked him to use her name then – especially then – to whisper it as he had before, back when she was a whole person.  A full, energetic, sensual woman with a name and a job title and a purpose.

Now she had other names too big to fill: Mother; Wife; Homemaker.  She felt she had lost her own identity, had become a cardboard cut-out of a person; invisible.

It was with mounting horror that she looked into the hall mirror one hot Sunday afternoon in June to see a gap down her right side, where her arm had been.  Her short-sleeved top just hung, the sleeve pointing out away from her shoulder.  A rounded shoulder blade stump poked out of it, like the nose of a cartoon dog.

She walked out into the garden and poured from the jug of homemade lemonade, awkwardly, using her weaker left arm.  She glanced around the table, but none of them appeared to notice the missing limb.

Matthew played Tetris on his tablet; Sophie texted, fingers furiously tapping the keys of her mobile.  Tim, the youngest, grumbled that he had not been picked for the football team.  Her husband read the sports page of the newspaper.

Simon…she started, unsure where to end.  He glanced up from the paper, slight irritation etched across his face.  Do you notice anything different – about me, I mean?

He flicked empty eyes down and back up so quickly she hardly saw them move.  A tiny smile, indulgent, the way he looked at the children when they gave him a homemade birthday card.

New top – very nice, he said, returning to the football results.

She excused herself to get more lemonade.  Nobody thanked her.

As she walked through the warm house to the kitchen, her left foot faded out and she imagined she felt a tiny piece of her heart disintegrate inside her chest.

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