New Poems & Drabbles!

Hi there!

Here are some of the latest pieces that our group has been working on, including some poetry and a few exercises in the art of drabble-writing.

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The Apple of my Eye by Neil James Jones

Beautiful. Your body a work of art
But I do not love you, only those you know
Not inseparable but we must not part
I do not need you still must never go.
Touching is believing and I know it.
You’re my property but anyone can call
The shine has left this apple, I’ll admit.
They’ll claim you. Were you ever mine at all?
You will stay with me, more often than not
The signals you send are mixed, it’s true
You need me, I’m all that you’ve got
So every time I leave, I fear I’ll lose you
And no matter how many times you die
You’ll come back, you’re the apple of my eye

 

This poem is by Jessica Jane Parsons, whose friend (who is producing an album called Green Eyed Girl) approached her and asked for a poem to grace the back of the record. 

Green

not quite

depends on the light

pale

pastel

gentle

but rage exists

glints and hints

but always controlled

never unfolds

I see that now

it is never unleashed

but never to be leashed

instead

burns with purpose

with reason

and with care.

 

In last weeks meeting, we had a go at writing some drabbles. Drabbles are stories which are exactly 100 words long, and challenge the writer to be as succinct and concise as possible whilst still telling a story. Here are some of our efforts…

There was a steady drip from a corner she could not see. She pulled at the rope binding her ankles together and whined through the dirty cloth covering her mouth. Her hair was matted. She didn’t know what with, but she could feel it caked to her face. It might have been blood. It probably was blood. There was a pounding in her head. She screamed through the cloth as the dripping water got faster. The concrete below her started to get colder. A gentle puddle of water started to creep over her. The dripping sound turned into a gushing sound.  – by Sam Moulton

The Idiots are Winning

The final signs of the end times were not biblical, they were idiotic. The idiots arrived. The perfect storm of ignorance and hypocrisy. And an idiot presented with The Big Red Button will invariably press The Big Red Button. We know this now as we did then, but it is little comfort as we pick through the dust and rubble of this grave, new world. Literature does not fill empty stomachs and art does not prevent the spread of infection. But you need not worry. Idiots were as ill equipped to survive in this world as they were the last. – by Neil James Jones

Jane awoke on the day of the wedding feeling dizzy. It was a beautiful morning, the glittery sunshine the same shade of champagne as the bride’s hair. At the church, Anna squeezed her hand. “You make a beautiful bridesmaid.” They began their descent up the aisle along with the rest of the wedding party – and then Jane could see him. Tall, imposing, dark – but handsome. He looked into Jane’s eyes and smiled, as Jane took her position and Anna stood next to her soon to be husband. Beautiful blonde Anna was getting married and there was nothing Jane could do. – by Danielle Jade Oldham

There was a moment as the sun set, pink and grey into the night, that I believed. Not in a god but something blameless. The mountains that fell around me were quiet as the birds rousted and the night animals had yet to stir. You let me stand there, protected but alone on that ridge as the shadows settled around us. There was warm blood on my knee from an injury on the scramble up, it made me feel human and safely mortal in a night that felt like it would never end, and until you spoke it never did. – by Imogen Berry-Henshaw

Loss

She lay there, not sure of what to think – wanting more than nothing to turn back time, wish the last few months back. She knew the symptoms, it had happened to her before. But this – the blood – not again! She knew what had happened; she’d lost it. Him. Her. It. Whatever had been growing inside of her – no longer there. Her bed was draped with the scarlet she had made. She couldn’t move, frozen within her own mind. This is your fault. You should have done better – taken more care. This is all down to you. And she believed it. – by Amy Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

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Diamond in the Dark – a Poem by Freyja Erickson-Rohrer

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Stop.

Stop trying.

It’s not worth your crying.

Save your tears for joy,

Or for the loss of those who brought you joy.

Snip away the vines that have crawled around your neck

And hold you back from light.

Hack the heartstrings that claw to stay attached,

That drip in poison and blind your inner sight.

Wash it away

If you are to use your tears for want of good,

Wash clean the pain.

And yearn to feel

Yearn to heal.

But never ignore the scar. Ignore the knife.

For, these diamonds can never truly be destroyed.

No matter the grit of the rock that hammers.

Stop defending thoughtless acts.

Thoughtless attacks.

Stop.

What diamond can shine when it still resides in darkness?

 

 

Poem & Illustration by Freyja Erickson-Rohrer

The Eulogy of the Name Collector – A Short Story by Róisín Doherty

It began in the days of milk teeth and pink custard. The days when the world still seemed so big and full of adventures. The day you arrived, the teacher brought you up in front of the class and asked you to introduce yourself. You didn’t speak English very well yet, but that didn’t matter. You were the shiny, new toy, enamouring every five-year-old in the room, including me. But I wasn’t brave enough to approach you, not that it would’ve mattered; it seemed like you never had a moment to yourself. Everyone wanted a piece of you. Fascinated. Mystified. I never said a word.

I think it angered me, that you never had any time for me. That’s why I did it. The day you fell asleep in the sandbox, during lunchtime. I sneaked over, and buried you in the sand. You woke up crying, and had to go home early because there were ants crawling all over you. Even years later, I never told that it was me who buried you. I might die with that secret.

We were friends after that. Not best friends, by any means. But almost. I never let myself get too close; even then I saw through your game. You had a new best friend each day of the week, each of our classmates vying to bask in the light of your attention. I didn’t want to be a best friend for a day, though. When it came to my turn, I would show you how much better I am than the rest. I would prove that you should be my Best Friend Forever.

You invited me to sleep over at your house. I wasn’t your first choice, but I was just happy to be asked. We were older now, but the title of Best Friend held the same weight. You were mine, but I was not yours. The politics of this were very serious, of course. That night, we talked about the future – not realising how wrong we would be. I said that I would be an artist when I was grown up, that I would live in a penthouse in New York. You said you would be a model, if it killed you, and that you would marry a footballer. I told you, with sincerity, that you were so beautiful that you could be whatever you wanted.

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That was the night I found the book. Long after you had gone to asleep, I was wide awake, snooping around your room. I wanted to know whatever I could about you, and see how I could convince you to be my Best Friend. At the back of your bottom drawer, underneath the pairs of mismatched socks, I found a small pocket book, bound in red leather. I assumed immediately that it was a diary, and greedily flipped through the pages to read your secrets. This was not your diary, I came to find out. Inside the book, was a list of names, inscribed by your hand. The first few pages were Chinese names, but before long I found the names of some of our classmates, both from nursery and primary school. I scanned through the list, searching for my own name. I read the whole book three times, but my name was nowhere to be found.  I was confused, but somewhat offended.

I worked up the courage to confront you about it, weeks later, but you denied everything. You screamed at me, calling me a liar and a sneak. You said you would never speak to me again, and you were almost true to your word.

We went on to different secondary schools. Your parents sent you to a private school, while I went to the local comprehensive. I was sure that that would be the last I would see of you. I even forgot about you for a while, and your little red book. We went on with our lives, treading slowly into the days of braces and pimple popping. Not that you ever had either of those problems.

The year we started GCSEs, you can imagine my surprise when you were introduced to me as the girlfriend of my best friend. The memories came flooding back once I saw your face again. I remember blushing bright red as you giggled, informing Jamie that we had, in fact, already met. You pulled me into a tight, dizzying hug. I remember how your hair smelt of vanilla.

A few years later, you were dating another friend of mine: Thomas. We saw each other regularly then. A big group of us would meet for lunch before class. You knew everyone’s name, but I was too shy to ask. I accompanied you on a trip to the bathroom once, holding your bag while you were in the cubicle. And I don’t know what possessed me to look; but I did.

Hidden inside a zip pocket, was the red leather-bound book. It was much older now, and many, many more pages were filled with names, but it was clearly well taken care of. I flicked it open to the latest page, where Thomas’ name was written in red ink. Hearing the toilet flush, I quickly put the book back, and worked on not looking too guilty when you came out. You didn’t suspect a thing.

You and Thomas broke up a month later. I only knew because he cried down the phone to me, wondering what he had done wrong. You seemed to act like nothing had happened. People called you a bitch. A heartless slut. I always defended you though. I would love to say that I did it to fight against misogyny, or because you were my friend, but that’s not true.

You hosted a party, after we had all finished our A-Levels. Everyone came, even the people who called you a whore behind your back and swore blind how much they hated you. I think you were used to that though, people always coming back for more.

I decided that this would be the night I would come clean. I found you on the roof alone, drinking peach schnapps straight from the bottle. We talked about the future, once again. You chastised me for not applying to go to university, but I hushed you quickly. I told you I’d been in love with you for as long as I could remember. That during those times I didn’t always like you but you always found a way to draw me back in. I said that I wanted to be the next name written in your little red book. I kissed you.

Or at least I tried. You pushed me away violently, screaming obscenities. You said you weren’t a filthy rug muncher and told me to fuck off. I fell against the wall, busting my lip. You reached to help me, but I smacked your hand away, mortified. I ran back home, as quickly as I could, but not before stealing into your bedroom once more, and stealing the book.

Once I was safely home, I studied it carefully. I slowly ran my finger across each name, trying to make sense of your odd habit. I anguished over each moniker, searching for a pattern. Max Allen. Francesca Sharpe. Elliott Marsden. Thomas Lucas. Eve Manning. Ruby Wyatt.  Nothing. Anthony Parsons. Lily Wheeler. Cameron Stokes. Amelia Rodgers. Alex Parker. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. I read all night. I read until my eyes hurt. Nothing.

I woke up at three in the afternoon, to a long text message from you. You apologised profusely for the previous night, and awkwardly asked if I brought home something that belonged to you. I didn’t reply. In fact, I booked my plane ticket that day.

It had always been a dream of mine to move to New York, but San Francisco seemed cool too. I left seven days later, finding myself a flat above a pizza delivery place. It was cheap, and dingy,  and there was a ruckus at four in the morning every night of the week. But it was far away from you, so I adored it. And, yes, I brought the book with me. In spite of myself, you were never far from my thoughts. I got a job at the pizza place, taking the night shift. I worked all night, and slept all day, finding time to paint in the hours in between. I painted you more often than I wanted to admit.

Finally, after a few months, I reached out to Thomas, and asked how you were. The reply was worrying. During the day, you had become completely drawn into yourself, only speaking when spoken too. The light in your eyes had died, and you rarely smile. At night, you were wild. An instinct driven party animal with needle point veins and a patchwork tongue. Your rarer lucid moments were bleak, leaving you a stuttering, paranoid wreck. But the most worrying part was your absence. You had been missing for a week. No one, not one even your parents had heard from you in the last eight days. Swallowing hard, I thanked Thomas for the update, and tried to get on with my life, only dwelling on yours when your memory caught up to me. What good could I do across the Atlantic?

One year after your disappearance, I sold my first painting, for sixty dollars. I was at a gallery, where my art was being showcased as a part of a group. The crowd was unenthusiastic, but rather wealthy. I knew I could do worse than to pique their interests.

That’s when I found you. You stood in your own world, staring at a painting I had done of you. No, not staring. Glaring at it. I watched you from afar, taking in the view. It was the first time I had seen you since the party. Despite the reports of your addiction and hedonistic lifestyle, I thought you had never looked more beautiful.

Working up my nerves, I approached you. I always said that you could be a model, and in that moment, I realised that I had inadvertently made your childhood dreams come true. You didn’t seem at all surprised to see me there. You asked if you were my muse. I said nothing. You asked if I was a real artist now. I said… yes. You said you loved artists. I promised you that I still had art in me yet. You came back to my flat. And as many questions as I wanted to ask you, I fulfilled your childhood dreams once more, and afterwards you made my adolescent dreams a reality.

The next morning, you were gone. I woke with a start, unsure if the previous night had really happened. But the pillow still smelt like your perfume, which I admit to inhaling deeply. Then a thought struck me. I cut across the room, to the desk where I kept the book. Gone. Just like you. I felt as though a blade of ice punctured my heart. I felt stupid, and used. After that, each memory of you was tinged with shame. In fact, I made a conscious effort not to think of you, or your little red book at all. That’s why it was such a shock to receive a call from your mother.

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That’s when I found out you died.  A heroin over-dose. I booked on the quickest plane back home for the funeral. After seeing you laying in the coffin, all I could think about is how all my previous affection had vanished. Not that I didn’t feel sad, but I certainly wasn’t consumed with grief for a lost love, taken too soon. Everyone spoke of you highly, but I couldn’t help but feel that I was the only one of these people who really knew you.

That’s what inspired me to write my own eulogy. Not that anyone else will ever read this. In fact, I wrote it in your book, right under your last entry: my name.

 

Images from collages by Danielle Jade Oldham

Poems/Poems/Poems

The Last Man by Neil James Jones

You’ll want a real man

Who is gentle, wise and caring

When desires make demands

He is rough, base and daring

 

But all men are pigs

Right down to the last

Try to find yourself a gent’

As they’re selling out fast

 

It’s a question of numbers

Just supply and demand

Enough time in the desert

And you’ll drink the sand

 

You’ll sit there and listen

What else can you do?

As he whispers sweet nothings

And delivers them too

 

All the good men are gone

No replacements, a dearth

Now you’ll have to make do,

Since I’m the last man on Earth.

 

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 Just Another Anxiety Poem by Stephanie Love

This will not be another poem

About how depression is like drowning

Or how anxiety is like a rollercoaster

Because I fucking love rollercoasters

And I fucking hate anxiety

I promise there will be no tired similes

Or metaphors that will bore

This is not a step by step guide

The demons that live inside

Are not demons at all

Just some brain chemicals

That aren’t mixed right

I don’t mean to belittle your fight

It’s just that anxiety can have a funny side

Have you ever gotten off a bus and sprinted home

Convinced there’s something shady about that man walking on his own

Or waited outside a pub pretending to be on the phone

Because your friends are late and god forbid you sit alone

Have you ever had a panic attack at the ASDA checkout

Because your mum dropped a jar, Dolmio sauce spilled out

As the glass smashed and an assistant comes across

And you’re crying over pasta sauce

One time a phone rang in an office I was cleaning

I ran down six flights of stairs screaming

I didn’t know if I should answer or ignore

Got overwhelmed and headed for the door

But that doesn’t compare to the anxiety I get when I feel overdressed

Nothing in the world causes me more stress

I remember spending my 18th birthday

Hyperventilating outside TGI Fridays

Because I wore make up and put on heels

Everyone else was dressed for a casual meal

Looking back, in a better place, I can laugh

Although I’m not cured I can see I was daft

You don’t always recognise when you’re know you’re being irrational

When you suffer from anxiety it’s understandable

To react in a way that others find funny

So why not share the joke, even if it’s at your expense

Because having anxiety is shitty and learning to laugh is the only defence.

 

 

No Place in Your Life by Sam Moulton

Less of a necessity
more of an accessory
been left out to dry
and for you to forget about me
I’m not needed anymore
you’ve got new friends you can bore
I would die to be there but
you don’t want me around because I make your head sore
with my moaning and groaning and constant complaining
the world sucks and I feel like I’m in training
for the day I’m gonna die
and it’s so draining
to not be needed
by anyone and I even pleaded
for a place in your life
but you never conceded
so I stepped up on the bridge, real nice and high
all that’s left to do now is to fall and die
the cars are zooming past and not one of them can see
my body as it tumbles and I say my last goodbye.

 

 

 

The Bitch of Living: Pygmalion Reimagined – A Short Story by Róisín Doherty

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Throughout the history of literature, our ears have been graced with many timeless love stories, spanning millennia. We hear of brave, dashing heroes and princes who overcome all odds to win the hand of their designated female love interest. It’s an evergreen formula, though derivative and a gateway to a sexist mindset. Nevertheless, this tale shall follow suit; this story deserves a protagonist, and a protagonist it shall have.

Thus, the role falls to Pygmalion. He was a proud man, and why not? He had a lot to be proud of. He was an extremely talented artist, a household name across the Mediterranean, known particularly for his lifelike statues. Crafted with such affection and attention to detail, his statues seemed as vivacious and feisty as a patron of the local tavern. With their mischievous eyes and strong limbs, it was suspected that his sculptures were liable to jump out of their petrification at any moment, and dance around the room. They said that his work was so magnificent that the gods themselves were envious of his talent. He had almost everything a classical-era celebrity could want: Wealth, Status and Political Influence. He lacked just one thing: A Wife.

Of course, a man of his stature could have his pick of the bunch. If he so desired, he could have all of the local kings line up their young daughters from Crete to Macedonia and choose his favourite. It would be an honour to be the wife of such an esteemed figure in their society – there was just one problem.

Pygmalion despised women. In his eyes, they were debaucherous creatures: prostitutes and drunks. They were weak and prone to vanity. Vapid. Greedy. He avoided their company wherever possible. No woman borne of Earth was good enough for Pygmalion.

He had grown old by this time. Old, and deeply unhappy. He had all the riches he could wish for, fields full of valuable livestock and crops and was a valued member of the council. But it wasn’t enough. He wished for a son, to carry forth his legacy. But how could he obtain an heir without a woman to bear his seed? He could never lower himself to be with a disgusting woman, lest his enlightened mind be infected by her domestic, frivolous drivel and his wealth wasted on her vanity and greed.

The perfect woman, Pygmalion thought, would be designed by man. She would live her life as her husband dictates. She would be innately beautiful, with no need of expensive clay and beeswax cosmetics. She should, however, not be a slave to her own narcissism. She would have youthful, golden locks, and wide child bearing hips. Her breasts should be large and filled with milk for my suckling son, her face perfectly symmetrical and her skin pale, and blemish-free. She would be pious, and fearfully respectful of the gods. Her mind should not be tainted by hearsay or the effects of alcohol. She should be well educated, and a sparkling conversationalist, who agrees with me on all matters of morality, philosophy, art and politics. She should also, however, know her place in the home, never speak out of turn, and serve my every need.

Pygmalion knew that this woman could not be found in Cyprus. He could search the entirety of the western world and not find her; and should he scour the far off eastern lands, and the whole world, he would be as lonely as ever. This perfect woman existed solely inside his mind.

And that was the idea that struck him. If the perfect woman didn’t exist, it was his job to change that. And who better for the task? With his talent, he could elicit the most beautiful woman in the world from a slab of cold, obstinate marble with ease. Men from around the globe would want to flock to Cyprus to marvel at her beauty – but he wouldn’t allow it. No one else could gaze upon on his flawless creation. The fruits of his labour were for his eyes only.

After purchasing the finest Parian marble in the land, denting his fortune, he set off to work. His wizened muscles ached as he tirelessly chipped away at the sheets of rock cocooning his magnum opus. He laboured on her image for almost three years, labouring on each small detail; the convex curve of her fertile womb, her earnest, full-lipped smile, and perfectly symmetrical face.

His toil finally ended on a sweltering hot day in the middle of summer. After smoothing down her shapely calves, he wiped a layer of sweat from his forehead and admired his work.

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She was breathtaking. Pygmalion’s heart whelmed with devotion as he gazed upon the face of his creation. The statue was more beautiful than he could have imagined. And perhaps it was the heat of summer, his old age, or the overjoyed relief that came with her completion, or a combination of all three; but Pygmalion found himself kissing the sculpture. It was quick and forceful, her cold, frigid lips combating the hateful sun’s heat. He held the figure close, relieved by the chill. But her skin, though smooth, was hard and unforgiving. Not at all like the soft, supple flesh he imagined. His eyes welled with tears – His perfect creation was nothing more than a lifeless husk.

Days passed, where Pygmalion could do nothing but stare at the statue. The excitement of her completion had long since worn off, and left a gaping wife-shaped hole in his heart. Here she was, his perfect woman was standing in front of him and he felt lonelier than ever. He knew for certain now that no other woman would be as beautiful as she.

“A creation as beautiful as you deserves life.” Pygmalion said to the statue. “I am an old man, and I know that life is be cruel. But I can’t bear to spend the rest of my days alone. I am a helpless old fool who has fallen in love with his own sculpture.”

The statue, of course said nothing.

“You, as divine as you are, shall share my burdens, and bear me a son. I shall go to Aphrodite’s temple and ask for her blessing. I shan’t be away for too long – I can’t bear to take my eyes off of you.”

Once more, the statue was silent, though it’s doubtful that it would’ve had much of a choice in the matter anyway.

After fetching his prize bull from his fields, Pygmalion made his way to the Temple of Aphrodite, where a large crowd gathered around the alter. Caught up in his own mind, he had forgotten that today was Aphrodisia – a festival honouring the very goddess of love and beauty that he had come here to pray to. He watched in reverent silence as the blood of a dove was used to purify the temple. The crowds dropped to their knees and called out in exaltations, adulating Aphrodite. Pygmalion followed suit, praying to her with all his might.

Atop Mount Olympus, Aphrodite watched the paltry humans laud her powers and revere in her greatness. She smirked, so used to seeing them go about their everyday lives, that it was almost insulting to see so many visitors in her temple during the festival. Those foolish little fleas had no idea how much power she had on their mortal world.

“Pathetic.” She spat. “These little idiots think that, just because they pray to me, they can get whatever they want. I don’t care about their failing marriages and unrequited loves. It’s just the same requests over and over, with no thanks to be had.”

Then, as the crowds began to dissipate, she spotted Pygmalion. This was a face she knew all too well. She had kept an eye on the sculptor in the past, drawn to his faultless statues and virility in his youth. She had always wondered which woman would end up his wife, and be rolling in gold for the rest of her days, but now she could see that Pygmalion had never been wed; nor did he frequent the local brothels. She raised an eyebrow – what request could this man ask of the goddess of love and beauty?

Pygmalion brought his bull towards the altar, and sliced it open with the ceremonial blade. Its guttural screech could be heard across the island as the blood spattered the ground. It had been decades since a sacrifice so grand had been made to Aphrodite; if he hadn’t caught her attention before, he certainly had it now.

“Oh Great and Beautiful Goddess!” He cried. “Maiden of the Sea!

“I have at last found my true love, a woman so perfect and pure, unlike any other. The smile on her face blesses my days and her alabaster thighs haunt my nights. I present to you this fine bull, the greatest of my herd, as I plead for your blessing. My greatest love is a sculpture made by my own hand. As the just goddess of love, I beseech of you – bestow my sweetheart with the gift of life, and we shall both be eternally grateful.”

Aphrodite pinched the bridge of her nose, sighing deeply. After all these years, the buffoon had fallen for his own statue? Surely this had to be madness; the man was losing his sanity in his old age.

“No,” Dionysus told her, “I know madness, and this is no madness. Pygmalion has truly fallen for the sculpture; a pretty thing she is too.”

“That’s ridiculous. It’s not a woman, or any kind of human – It’s an inanimate object! He’s not in love with an inanimate object.” Aphrodite said, shaking her head. “There’s more to love than beauty, you know.”

“That’s a tad hypocritical, coming from you.” Dionysus chuckled. “So, what’re you going to do? Are you going to bring the statue to life?”

“I suppose I shall.” She sighed. “Perhaps it’ll be amusing if nothing else.”

Meanwhile, Pygmalion’s heart battered at his bloodstained chest, harder and harder as he approached his front door. He held his breath, and pressed his hand against the rough wood. If Aphrodite was willing, the love of his life would be waiting for him behind this door.

He pushed it open.

The statue stood exactly where he had left it. Cold and hard as ever.

A darkness settled into his heart. How dare Aphrodite not answer his prayer! He had sacrificed his best bull for her – he was certainly entitled to a payment of some sort!

He slammed the door shut, and stormed across the room, grabbing the statue by the waist. The bull’s blood on his fingers seeped into the porous rock and stained the milk-white. His gripped tightened, as he resolved himself to destroy his creation. He wanted nothing more than to throw it to the ground, smashing it into innumerable sharp fragments.

He stared into her bovine eyes for one last time, and bent down to kiss her goodbye. He bowed his head, and closed his eyes, bracing himself for the sharp chill of her lips.

But it never came.

The statue’s lips were soft and warm, moving out of sync with Pygmalion’s. They were speaking. Pleading.

“Let go of me! Let go! You’re hurting me!” The statue cried. Pygmalion’s eyes shot open. His grip on her waist loosened, letting her fall to the floor.

“You’re alive!” He exclaimed, a large grin crawling over his face. “Aphrodite has answered my prayer, and you shall be my wife!”

“W-Who are you?” The girl asked, struggling to cover her nude body. Pygmalion could hardly believe his eyes. She was his statue, come to life –  and she was even more beautiful with blood pumping through her veins.

“I am Pygmalion.” He said proudly. “I sculpted your body from the finest Parian marble and prayed for you to be given life so that you could be my wife. I am madly in love with you.”

The girl swallowed hard. “I am Galatea.”

“Are you in love with me?”

“We… have just met, sir.”

Pygmalion frowned. This wasn’t right – he brought this woman to life. He should be a hero in her eyes, if not a God. “No,” He said sternly. “You love me. That’s how this works. You’re just a stupid statue so you probably don’t know how love feels, but I do. You are my perfect ivory virgin, borne of my own hand, and we shall be wed tomorrow. Perhaps in time, you shall learn how love feels.”

Galatea bowed her head, too afraid to use her newfound tongue against her creator. He had already exercised his power over her, marked by the finger-shaped bruises on her waist. She waited until Pygmalion had gone to sleep before she found some old sheets to drape around her body, and stole out of the house. Without direction or deliberation, she made her way to Aphrodite’s Temple.

The temple was in a shambles after the day’s celebrations; the tiled mosaic on the floor could barely be seen through the blood and muddy footprints; and the smell of the slaughtered bull lying on the altar hung heavy in the air.

Galatea crept in cautiously, keeping out a watchful eye for any stray Cypriots who might who might approach her. The chill in the night air made her wary, and the smell of death made her stomach lurch. Once she was certain she was alone, she fell to her knees sobbing.

“My Lady,” she cried. “Why have you forsaken me to this mortal life? I do not want to marry Pygmalion. He is a strange, old man, and I fear he shall do me harm. He claims that he loves me, yet he does not know me. O goddess of love, will you have me forced into this sham of a marriage?”

“Yes, my child.” said a voice behind her. It was low and earthy, but Galatea could swear she heard the earth move with each cadence. Warm hands clasped her shoulders in a comforting manner. “I know of your struggles all too well, Galatea. But I’m afraid this is a struggle you must bear, as a woman.”

“He has bruised me, my Lady.” Galatea protested, adjusting the sheets to display her waist. “His forceful grasp is too rough for my skin. His wicked hands too careless and destructive. He claims to love me for my beauty, but surely there is more to me than that? What if the rest of me is not to his liking?”

“You were created to be beautiful.” Aphrodite said tonelessly. “Nothing else matters. Not to Pygmalion anyway. You shall marry him and give him a son.”

“Without love? That doesn’t seem like any kind of life.”

“You have no choice, Galatea.”

The girl, shocked by Aphrodite’s lack of compassion, snapped her neck up. Goosebumps writhed up her spine as her gaze met the goddess’. An aura of ethereal power radiated from her, more alluring  than Galatea could ever hope to be. She stood up and turned around, drawn towards the goddess. Her deep, brown face, wide set green eyes and long nose seemed almost hypnotic. This was a face too dangerous, too beguiling for the eyes of a mortal.

“Do not come any closer.” Aphrodite warned, outstretching her hand. “Go home to Pygmalion, child. He’ll be happy to see you; you should be thankful to have a man at all.”

But Galatea couldn’t look away from the goddess, until she blinked, looked around and found herself back in Pygmalion’s house once more. That day, the two of them were wed. They married in secret, an unorthodox ceremony as they were both older than the traditional age for marriage, and Pygmalion forbid anyone else, even wedding guests, from laying their eyes on his wife. By the end of the night, she still did not love him.

Nine months later, she gave birth to twins, a son, Paphos and a daughter, Metharme. She wasn’t the most maternal of women, but she loved the two of them dearly. She still did not love Pygmalion.

She watched her children grow up, performing each of her motherly duties to perfection. Her days were monotonous at best and chaotic at worst. Wake at dawn, help Paphos get ready for school, cook and clean with Metharme, and spend the evenings spinning. With his supervision, Pygmalion sometimes allowed Galatea to visit the market in the afternoons. He paraded her around like a trophy, falsifying stories of their intoxicating love for his fans, and vilifying all the other women in comparison to her. She wondered if he knew how uncomfortable it made her. She wondered if he cared.

Nights were even worse. They tried to talk, but there was nothing to say. They had the exact same opinions on morality, philosophy, art and politics, and would only parrot the same beliefs back at each other. And the nights Pygmalion tried to make advances towards her were nothing but awkward. She turned him down most times, unless they had come across some silphium in the market. She cried almost every night while he slept, wishing for her repetitive life to come to a stop. She almost prayed for some natural disaster or death to occur; just so something would happen. Years passed, and she still did not love him.

At the age of fourteen, Metharme began to menstruate. Just a few days after her fourteenth birthday, she awoke her mother excitedly; proud that she had finally become a woman. That day, accompanied by Paphos, Galatea took her daughter to the woods, and helped her sacrifice her old toys to Artemis, as a symbol for the end of her childhood. Pygmalion didn’t join them. In the past few months, he had been ill, and seemingly deteriorating more and more each day. He had been bedridden for almost a year now.

Metharme worried about her parents often. They didn’t act like the other parents in the town, who were younger, buoyant and full of life. Pygmalion was easily the oldest man in the village, and Galatea seemed as though her mind was full of thoughts that she didn’t dare speak aloud. During the ceremony, she seemed even more subdued than usual. The crackling of flames filled the clearing, the smoke rising to the treetops. Galatea’s gaze did not stray from the pile of burning dolls. She did not cry.

As they made their way home in silence, Metharme tugged at her mother’s dress. “Maia, you seem sad. Are you worried about Pateer?”

“No, child.” Galatea said abruptly. Her pace quickened.

“He’s rather old, isn’t he?” Paphos chimed in. “A boy from my school, Doros, said that his father said Pateer wouldn’t be around to see winter. He said that if the frost won’t kill him, then Hades would get impatient and come up to the surface world and kill him himself.”

“You shouldn’t speak about your father in such a way.” She scolded. “Your father is very proud of you both, it would sadden him to hear this, you know.”

Their walk home continued in silence.

Within a week, Metharme was married off to Cinyras, a hero from the land of Cilicia, leaving Galatea even lonelier than before. “It’s a good pairing…” Her ailing husband assured her in a self-satisfied wheeze. “Metharme has your beauty… And Cinyras is a brave warrior… With great riches… Any children of theirs…Will be destined for greatness.”

“Metharme is brave.” Galatea replied. “And she has a good heart. She genuinely cares for those around her. Even as a child, she was very empathetic; but also, very soft-willed. Aren’t you worried that you pushed her into this marriage? Did you ask her want she wanted? How she felt?”

“She will be… an excellent mother.” Pygmalion croaked.

Metharme would go on to have six children; none of whom would ever get to meet Galatea or Pygmalion, for she never saw her parents again. Her youngest son, Adonis, inherited his grandmother’s beauty, and gained repute from causing a rift between Aphrodite and Persephone, who both admired the young man’s good looks.

In the meantime, Galatea waited by Pygmalion’s bedside, holding his withered, liver-spotted, old hand in hers. She performed all the duties of a loving, dedicated wife; she helped him wash, and relieve himself; as well as cooking for him, and singing him to sleep.

After all these years, her beauty had not faded. She looked as young as the day she came alive, her skin smooth and unblemished, her hair free of grey streaks. Every day, Pygmalion looked at her the way he did on that first day, with the same mixture of pride and devotion. And even then, she did not love him. The bruises on her waist had never faded.

Paphos grew up to take his father’s place in the local council, enamouring the masses with his strategical mind and unparalleled intellect. So much so that they renamed the city after him after he died. At the age of thirty, he took his own young wife, and had his own children. He visited his parents often at first, but his job became more and more demanding; his visits became less frequent.

It was during one of his visits that Pygmalion would breath his last. He sat at his father’s bedside while his mother went to the well. He told him of the latest developments in the political sphere, and listened patiently when Pygmalion gave his own, unsolicited opinion on the matter. When Galatea returned, Pygmalion grew quiet. He watched her wordlessly as she busied herself around the room, dusting and cleaning. Finally, he said: “I won’t be seeing you in the Fields of Elysium, will I, my sweet?”

“I doubt it.” Galatea said, reaching up to eviscerate a cobweb in the corner of the room with a flourish of her rag.

Pygmalion’s eyes lost their light. Letting out a final sigh, his muscles went slack, and he peacefully surrendered to his eternal rest, feeling accomplished with his life. And why not? After all, he had a lot to be proud of.

Paphos buried his face in his hands, breathing deeply. His father was dead. He waited for his mother to speak. She did not. He raised his head, and turned his tear stained face to where she stood.

In his mother’s place stood a statue of a young woman, lifelike and expensive-looking. It was made of Parian marble, yellowed with age, with fingerprints of dried blood staining its waist. He looked back and forth from the statue to his father’s corpse, wondering what to do.

Galatea had been granted the gift of life in order to be Pygmalion’s wife. Without a husband to dote upon or children to raise, what use would a woman be? She never went to any sort of afterlife, she simply ceased to exist; her marble figure lost to history, never to be seen again.

However, some say that Galatea lives on in the hearts of women everywhere. Galatea is the little girl in pigtails who wants to be a doctor, a firefighter, an engineer when she grows up, and receives a nurse’s costume, a toy kitchen and a baby doll for her birthday.

Galatea is the school girl with the short skirt who cowers from the lewd men who shout at her in the street, wondering why her fashion choices makes her a target.

Galatea is the stripper; stronger and braver than most people she knows, and faces physical and verbal abuse every day by the same men pay to objectify her every night.

Galatea is the housewife tamed into submission by her loud husband, wondering how her life might have turned out if she hadn’t taken her mother’s advice, and travelled the world instead of having a child.

Galatea is the crazy cat lady, dubbed so by the community she leans on for support, wondering why her identity was erased because her feline friends are the only visitors she gets these days.

Galatea is Audrey, Kelly, Julia, Wendy, Kim, Rachel, Julie, Karen, Christina and she could even be you or me.

Galatea was valued for little more than her beauty and her sex, but upon further examination, Pygmalion may have reaslised that she, and many others, had a bit more to offer.

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Words – Róisín Doherty

Images – Danielle Jade Oldham

Excerpts from SECTORAL HETEROCROMIA, a Poetry Collection by Luke Nutt

1. The incidents you aren’t allowed to discuss, particularly if you are a
man; the emotional dogma of living; the gooey shite.

1

 

One

the swirls of emulsion on the wall
wont miss your running fingers;
the dead flies on the windowsill
won’t miss your complaining;
the water from the shower-head
has forgotten the curves of your body;
the chair you wrote in
will slowly lose your imprint;
the photos you will never see again
are the only things that remember the colour in your eyes.
had i known you were about to leave
i would have tidied the house
since your smell has matured into a toxic sitting.
its too late in the day for that nonsense
so your aura can stay even if you won’t.
as is expected, i will leave the door unlocked
so the possibility of your murderous return is unobstructed.

 

Two

nobody falls to pieces, really
our solid state changes –
we become a liquid form
so barium heavy
unable to be caught
by God.

 

Lovey Shite

i just want the delicate dreams
the naughty nightmares
the sweet dreamy demise that i deserve.

remind me of earlier
when we would walk
through ocean’s lips,
Helios’s grip
on our way home
to my favourite place:
the bedroom at the top of the stairs.
i had never in my life been so far away from judgmental glares.
i’ll wait by the sepulcher
bring yourself
– the job is yours

2

 

Art

dying is not
a method of eradicating you.
dying is an art form.
an art form in which brush strokes
are unacceptable. kiss yourself
with a knife.
create art with your crimson oil.
the carpet is your hue to change
i would love to kill you myself
to watch your blood tango,
tango and dye the bed sheets
you masturbated on.
i have had to kill you
and i didn’t have to love it –
but i did.
only because my masterpiece is complete
and we are both so happy.
this is not auschwitz
more of a cessation of lesser-life.

 

Kitty

oh kitty you bastard
your body was unexplored
undocumented and fruitful.
i knew you were coming for me –
pearl harbour, perhaps?
after your kissing kamikaze sweep
on my brow
i was dizzy
unable to keep myself standing
with the irreparable damage.
the walls around me melted
with a hot touch.
let’s hold hands
and watch this whole thing fall apart.
i became very good friends
with the curb
with your foot
that you clamped on my chest.
at a loss to keep hold
of the breath under my chest
i wished i could have killed you
but
that would have been suicide.
i’m not ready for the commitment.
the commitment of death.
the death of you. truthfully
there is little that i am ready for.
imagining such a blessing
would be a sadomasochistic crime.
the thought of such a blessing, however,
lingers like your perfume – a sillage.
there is no wind to carry it away
there is no distraction
no destination or required location.
you pulled the chain connected to the plug
so we could drown together.
i’ll be right back.
but you did not return.

 

Journey

i heard your body
crooning for me
you were begging
to be unravelled
explored so delicately.

3

 

Biological Beatdown

love that echoes
in my eyes. a heart
that beats mine
to a pulp.
good girl.
don’t stop.
venomous kisses
of yours that
react slowly
with my mind.
don’t stop.
your words
your words
shouldn’t scare me,
that is the job of
thoughts i cannot release.
don’t stop.

 

I’m Coming, Ganges

my corpse relaxes
with sore
untouched lips.
the river’s hum
gently whispers
on my leg’s side.
i can see God.
he doesn’t care –
that’s why i’m here.

 

Pebble

when your bones crack
i imagine i am walking
on sea shells.
the rush of love
as you smile
seems to envelope the world
causing it to blossom.
each time i attack your lips
i embrace the taste
of lilies feeding on blood.
it upsets me that
nature can be manipulated
in such a way
that destruction can
appear so humanely natural.

 

Death Metal

isn’t it strange
that if you wish
to remove a song
from your head,
you are to listen
to it repeatedly,
but, with a person
it only kills you
h a r d e r.

7

 

Untitled

don’t roll away from me
i hate being under the covers alone –
molested by asphyxiation.
i’ve had a long life,
particularly today.

 

2. Blindfolded and wandering through the forest during a snowstorm. I
have tried to explain this collection of poetry but believe me, I
cannot. Some, I am sure, do not even make sense. Take them as they
come.

 

Untitled

your blood
it takes a moment
to spend as much time
on my tongue, as the words
“i love you”

 

Untitled

it was a vile, sunny day
that i spent with naked, blistered feet.
we stood amongst the nettles
and a few of our pet bees.
it is just a simple amalgamation
of spit and chewed food.
but when you participate
in kissing me, i become.
my mind begins to gently torture me.
my teeth grind
i make another attempt
at trying to figure out
exactly what or who you are

 

Untitled

it doesn’t count
when i trample on flowers
because they can’t resist.
you can and it upsets
everyone even more
because you’re beautifully whimsical
but filled with toxins
you have that enticing
straw on your neck
that i can’t help but suck at

 

3. So, when you go for a run, and you have that really clear, spicy
breath of air at the back of your mouth, the one that makes you
salivate rather heavily; that’s what these are all about – slightly
discomforting but you know they are good for you.

 

Untitled

you know, Honey
if it rained
every time joy
spread your cheeks
i would drown
with a similar
expression of content

 

4. These are based around strangers you fall in love with in the street
and never see again; they are also based around the people you spend
your life with. Again, the gooey shite.

6

 

Untitled

just because your hair
lies on the ground
embellished in betrayal,
does not mean
at all
that the rest of us
have forgotten about your beauty

 

Untitled

your naked flesh
concealed by destructiveness.
a blow of amalgamated couth insults
flows delicately from your mouth.
i was worried i would see you leave
heaving your brogues,
scorning and scolding
over cold, collected cobbles
but you hobbled happily,
the drunken jive,
over to my corner of the bar.
i really wish you hadn’t

5

 

Blossom

as you do
the first flower of spring
in a field of withered dreams and memoirs
you left before my ticket was valid.
a collage of cottages habitually unkempt by the sea
eroded and swept – my hand is dry
adieu, adieu, adieu
i wave powerfully
but no crooked eyes have noticed me.

 

5. Here, I have attempted to join beauty with the physical appearance –
discuss.

 

Untitled

i still find strands of your lily pink hair.
it’s 11:45 at night.
it isn’t long for my wishes to take a hold of the icy tail in the deep
infinite shower above me and everyone else.
your blood was sticky.
dried lips were positive to a negative.
my hands were scaly from the rope burns.
what do you expect?
i was too afraid of letting go.
i was reassured.
none of this was my fault.
i did not intend to enter Alice’s wonderland and see you for myself.
the mysticism, clarity, starvation, abstract nature you throw at me
leaves me burning yearning calling shouting blistering growing aching
horny climbing clawing hiking sprinting for something else from you.

you are always enough
you are never enough

4

 

Words – Luke Nutt

Pictures – Alfie Verity

Selected Poems by Neil James Jones

Tanka:

The darkened bank

Where the river rose before

Water left its mark.

I want it to rise again.

I wish it would never leave.

 

 

 

A picture of grey.

Cold, brittle branches stretch out,

Clouds sit unmoving.

Relief comes from the footsteps,

The floorboards break the silence.

 

 

A Sestina:

The unknowable creature is the one we seek to analyse

And the comparisons come easily: beauty, goddess, angel

But not strong or gifted or even decent.

That’s why the serpents coil around your legs and hiss

Their flicking tongues nip with the expansion

Of their influence and they see you as prey, a wounded moth

 

The fragile wings turn to dust when the moth

Is captured, yet we still analyse

And investigate its formless, fractal expansion

In them we seek the work of a god, the face of an angel

Or the reassuring and debasing hiss

Of the serpent, neither compassionate nor decent.

 

The observers claim to be upstanding, decent

And with honour. You are still a moth.

Pinned. Immobile.  Oblivious to the unheard hiss

Of the bubbling beakers and creaking equipment that will analyse

You. They will strip the angel

Of its wings, now folded and without expansion

 

The creeping, oozing expansion

Into your heavenly domain makes a decent

Defence impossible and the angel

Will soon fall, a burned and broken moth.

After the action, after the fact they will analyse

What went wrong. They’ll blame each other with a snap and a hiss

 

When they turn and their sweet words become a hiss

That rings in your ears, the expansion

Of white noise, static you cannot analyse

They no longer need to be respectful and decent

They cannot lament for the moth

This alcove has lost its angel

 

There is no place on earth for an angel

Those that do not believe will hiss

There is no place in the daylight for a moth

The sun boils in its red giant expansion

The is no place in this city for the decent

Only literal, reptilian minds that cannot analyse:

 

An angel in expansion

A hiss at the decent

A moth to analyse

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A Collection of Couplets:

The grand game never changes

and remains through the ages.

 

High in the ivory tower,

secure in their seats of power.

 

For I am just one person

but with inaction things worsen.

 

“Things will never change” they advise,

though the history books say otherwise.

 

Change is more than overdue,

we ask ourselves “what can we do?”

 

All the lies they have spoken

mean the promises stay broken.

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Five More Minutes of Spring

It’s always the sun that wakes me.

The bright early light that shakes me from sleep.

No matter the weather outside,

It is a warm spring day,

Shot through with potential.

Anything is possible.

I breath deeper,

Smile easily,

And the hum and buzz of something natural

And growing follows me

I want that feeling

All the time

Every time

I cling to it

And that is why I beg you.

 

I reach from the covers to touch you

My fingers extend

Vines creaking with slow motion exertion

My hand flailing in the space you left

Branches groaning with intention

And I ask you to stay

On this spring day

for five more minutes

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Exile on Oldham Street

Oldham street is not a home to anyone.

The humans here have already gone.

It is a transient space,

A waiting room.

A bus lane flanked by barber shops and vintage clothing sales,

Hipsters stare at Apple laptops while sipping artisanal craft ales.

 

The velocity of the road means that

No busker can play,

No one can ask for change,

No one wishes to stay and chat,

And the charity muggers of Market Street are well out of range.

 

The residents of Oldham Street are just popping in.

They have just arrived or are waiting to leave.

The seconds spent here do add up,

Those seconds spent have accumulated over years

 

Before Affleck’s Palace

There was Affleck and Brown

 

Before The Night and Day Cafe

There was day and night

 

Before Madchester

There was the Methodist Mission

 

If you take one of those seconds,

On a summer afternoon,

And spend it on yourself

You might just see

Beneath your feet

Where the history of this street

Pokes through

 

Sad Girl Poem

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It is easy to cry

When you realise

That everyone you love

Will reject you

Or die

You are born, you live and you die.

And maybe that’s enough

 

There is far more evidence

To suggest the existence

Of Harry Potter

Than any religion created

Or mystical doctrine ever stated

You are born, you live and you die.

And maybe that’s enough

 

We are all afraid of death

Of taking that final breath

But even that is ok

Ok to be terrified

Ok to be horrified

That you are born, you live and you die.

And maybe that’s enough.

 

This is not a dress rehearsal

A state before the reversal

Admit it freely

Admit that you are going to die

And that any place after is a lie

You are born, you live and you die.

And maybe that’s enough.

 

Assume that your faith is an invention

Its purpose merely the retention

Of willing donors

Or the desire to explain

This uncaring physical plane

You are born, you live and you die.

And maybe that’s enough

 

You speak of beauty

As is your duty

When considering creation

But there is beauty in chance

And music in that Brownian dance

You are born, you live and you die

And maybe that’s enough

 

What if there is no reason?

And for nothing a season?

The walls come tumbling

Perhaps the purpose is you

And what you manage to do

You are born, you must live and you must die

And maybe it is enough to try

 

 

The Social Customs and Culture of The Oxford Road People

A giant Tin Can once filled with human beans

Sits as a monument to student dreams,

Student debt and student diet.

The Museum’s resident Tyrannosaur

Reminds us of what came before

And what will come again when the road stands quiet

 

From Rusholme to Parrs Wood,

Meaningless names now lost for good.

The road was there before it was built

And will remain

Even when reclaimed

By the drains clogged with silt

 

Tribesmen scale the Geoffrey Manton building’s furcation

To see the foliage crash like a wave against Oxford Road station.

They will stalk the campus for prey,

Dry venison in the bus lane by day,

Tan hides on the bicycle racks of All Saints Park

And draw close to the bonfire of law school books come dark

 

As the days grow longer and hotter

The primitives will seek the only source of clean water.

The parched and thirsty tribesmen enter

The sacred springs of the Aquatics Centre.

They will greet each other solemnly as their forefathers did,

The tribal salutation of “Alright ‘r kid?”

 

Girl

Get in the car and go

We’ll catch some cats that can blow

And maybe a little something more

for a couple of young guys looking to score

 

The girls, my god the girls

The bubble gum blondes with California curls

Those fierce and fiery redheads

with hard smiles and soft linen beds

 

Small town girls utterly devoted

San Fran’ sweethearts, sugar coated

Diner broads served to order

as we head on down to the border

 

There’s the sexy jazz that screams

The hot tea minus the cream

And the cervezas por favor

But we want more

Not just the girls,

but the girl

 

We are here to find her:

The American Dream

 

Not the Hollywood mass production

Or the Madison Avenue mass seduction

She must be sought not bought

Uncovered and discovered

 

Stepping straight off the rolling stock

Or fresh off the boat in port

Or maybe just a short walk

into Old Town

 

Neither manufactured nor tailor made

You’ll know the girl by those eyes of brown and jade

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Words – Neil James Jones

Images – Danielle Jade Oldham