The pressure pops and I’m shocked out of sleep.
Up north the heathered hills gave me shelter,
But they glowered down like traitorous guards
Whose spears would turn if the clouds gathered right.
Evening sun lies heavy on the lowlands.
These great skies, huge enough to hold old gods
Now allow me to gaze from here to her,
To see the line of her heart lying flat
As the fens do.
They never change, come rain,
Come sun, come the wind that whips you sideways
In winter. They lie damp, concealing dark
And deathly secrets, never to reveal –
For there is not one relenting crevice
With which the ground could breathe out the horror.
She will become one with this green and lush
and unforgiving land, returned to worms
Who unblinkingly devour her kind face,
kind mouth, her bright and glittering kind and godly eyes.
Tonight, the city flickers in concert.
Every light winks invitingly from the soft roll of the valley’s belly below,
Blurred by the curtain of drizzle that separates us
The gentlest of seductions.
The metallic glows of red and orange leave a trail of warmth below the scar on my stomach, but I will not be drawn.
If I just brush the cold pane I touch them all a little,
Fingers quivering over each one to tease, and then I withdraw.
I wonder who sees my own glow, their eyes playing over it like a child’s hands on the strings of an unfamiliar guitar.
Tomorrow, a new clear-water light will wash the city clean,
In the hollows between the fires of the night will be steel, glinting;
Every inch of the valley sprouting startling redbrick and concrete growths.
What lies behind each measured edge, each broken stone?
I might run down the road below, still rain-soaked and steaming in the sun
And gladly let the maze swallow me whole.
Words : Pippa Le Grand
Photos : Rachelle Cox
You can see the world from up here.
It makes me scared to ever look away.
I recall first seeing you in this light,
and how the silver darted off your lips
into the unexpecting dull of my retina.
White flares lit up your face
so that you squinted as your gaze
spiraled upwards to match mine.
The clouds were spitting glass,
but you didn’t seem to mind.
Maybe if we never left this place again, then
everything would be okay. We could pitch up
and forget all existence; passive onlookers
in a world where nothing else matters.
You could reside here in timeless tranquility,
while I find a way to make food out of timber.
Something like that. I don’t really mind.
But away is the sound of porcelain cracking
on cold wooden slats. And no more
bitten nails, tearing through my back
as you try to explain yourself. Never again
need I excuse pink stains on white shirts,
or hold you soft under cover as your world
burns hot lava around you.
Because, while it will still get dark and scary,
ripping a hole wide through the night
will be one sole beam of evangelical light.
And with it, will bring a feeling so close to home,
that we’d forget we ever left at all.
Words: James Huxtable
Art : Saskia Phokou
I wondered what had toppled
that torso of sturdy oak,
crippled, hollow, beneath
a frosted cape of white,
recalled how high those
branches stretched, to sky,
to cloud, far from from
the humble earth beneath;
I was younger than the settling snow,
and thought things went forever.
Traipsing on, I conjured scenes
that showed it, mighty, felled
by a tempest’s wailing screams
of lightning, spark and smoke,
yet I knew the death was
thick and slow, a fog
that robs the night;
I wallowed in my memories,
the crooked bough that
snaked and weaved,
it seemed impossible to fold.
I thought of it rotting, steady,
pulling roots failing to hold,
in the saddest of my visions
as my skin crawled with the cold.
When love is sleeping in the next room
and you’re bright clean in the bathroom
holding candles facing corners
where the life you’ll never live again lives
because the moment of introduction
was the most beautiful cataclysmic
thousand year ice-age erasing meteor
volcanic eruption and fire raw
ripped holes in the atmosphere
rumours and old wives tales
of a life before my love
quiet moments making noises
whispering of marriage
whatever past has happened
I’ll let it die in Paris
Words : Lucas Jones
Photo : Mees Peijnenburg
There is a reason I say nothing,
why I walk on raised toes,
pull up on the door handle to hide the whisper of the carpet,
lean but never leave my room, listening
listening to the rain
listening to the final wave of the storm,
as if silence is shelter
but down there it pours.
I am trying to hear their words
but the static in my stomach
as all the nerves come to ends, signals send,
my head is hot, blood too loud
to make out any sounds but I know the shape their faces will have fallen into,
so I stand down and retreat off toes and back, close the door
still feeling them pour but no longer listening, hear the bursting again
in the evening,
addicting, the outer ring of conflict,
I know why wars were raged by old men in office buildings before we had TVs,
can’t hear, can’t see, but the feeling,
sense without senses,
the amniotic tranquillity of understanding perfectly,
I’m indoors during a thunderstorm,
in awe of the tension release, listening but I can’t hear them,
I think they call it chrysalism.
Words : Lucy Harbron
Photo : Elizabeth Corrall
too many dark days
and not enough sunlight
it really is grim up North
My darling years
filled with cherry wine
and not enough sleep
I’m saddened to inform you that
my time here has come to an end
for now, is my independence day
and I am longing for a place
to call my own
but where exactly is my home?
where I belong
or where I was born?
Words : Rachelle Cox
Photos : Jakob Grant
In Olivia Gatwood’s poem Ode To My Bitch Face she says “you came out screaming and alive and look at you now!”
But I was born blue
lifeless and choking, a chord around my neck.
When you ask me about home
I will tell you about my mother;
the comfort of her closeness.
Home is the suppression of emotion
The silence out of fear
Home is the choking on my words
Struggling for breath, chord still laced around my neck.
Home is my lungs filling with water when I was five I couldn’t swim.
And all I could see was blue
And all I could see was her.
Paintings inspired by the breakdown and rebuilding of my insides. Sometimes filled with fire burning passion, sometimes deteriorating in agonising silence. I don’t paint very much, only when I’m feeling something so strong that I don’t know how to put into words.