all dead


Literary Historian
Veronica Forrest-Thomson
I remember them saying,
these poems, their something
for someone at sometime
for me too, at one time.

That got in the way;
so I sent them away
back into history—
just temporarily.

They won’t come back now.
I can’t remember how
the words spoke, or what
they said,
We are all dead

Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

cage as body


At the Moment of Beginning
Mary Jo Bang

A cage can be a body: heart in the night
quieted slightly; mind, a stopped top.
Clock spring set. Hand in motion.
The fact of the hollowed nothing head.

How did we come to this? Inch by inch.
I was born, borrowed from the beast;
I was now property in a country
where chain reigns—the empire city of I.


So, the empire: the breath, the legend
of the well-guarded hell.
One comes to tell you
what you should have done differently.

I think, I say, and I am not you.
In the margin of fear I heard a woman
convincing me to listen.
“Listen,” she said, “to the doctor.”


The city before this was nothing,
but swirled sand in a storm.
Nothing turns back. I saw a fluttering
I recognized in the distance.

Out of nowhere, there was red:
the furnace and the beating heart.
Every giddy excess behind the beginning
was also leading to the emphatic end.

Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash



My Father’s Closet
D. Nurkse
1 hat

As soon as I put it on
Brooklyn went dark,
but when I took it off
my wooden horse stared at me
with dazzling glass eyes.

2 coat

The shirred hem
swished on the floor.
Huge shoulders sloped
like pines under snow.
A panel in the lapel
read Kuut, Tallinn
in thread letters.
I hid at the center
behind jet buttons
too round to undo.
That coarse-nap wool
outlasted Estonian winter
but now the moths
left a trellis of holes
so it was never dark
when I curled up
hugging my knees.
My mother cried out:
Who are you? I answered
in my deepest voice:
His coat.

3 shoes

I shoved my hands in
and taught them to walk:
now stumble, now march
against your will, left, right,
to the Narva front:

now dance:
and somewhere
in that immense city
where snow trembled
in high lit windows,
a footstep receded,
rapid, urgent,
indelible as a name.

irn-bru shortbread experiment


I am always game for trying out some different form of shortbread. And what could be more Scottish than Irn-Bru shortbread?


I found and used a recipe I came across online on the Scotsman website, and guess what? It was a total failure. I read the ingredients for the Irn-Bru filling a few times, and it didn’t seem possible that it could come together as an ‘icing-like’ filling – and voilà, it absolutely did not. I don’t see how this could work as published, so because I didn’t have time to mess about experimenting, I used the shortbread cookies (the recipe below worked beautifully) and made a chocolate filling instead:

125g granulated sugar
250g unsalted butter (I used half salted, half unsalted)
375g flour

Soften butter to room temperature. Mix butter and sugar until well-combined.
Add flour and mix gently with a pastry blender/mixer until dough almost comes together, which will take about five minutes.

Gather dough together and knead lightly on a floured surface. Roll dough to roughly 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Reroll excess dough up to 3 times. Bake at 265 F (130 C) for about 50 minutes.

You will be making a filling from Irn-Bru and white chocolate and creating nice wee shortbread sandwich cookies. If you follow the recipe, I don’t see how it can work at all. But if you do try it and the following info works for you, enlighten me. All I can think of is that somehow “double cream” differs from “heavy cream”, but I don’t think so.

1 bottle or can of Irn-Bru soda
100g of white chocolate
50g double cream
Pinch of salt

Combine white chocolate and double cream over a double boiler until combined. Let cool and mix in 4 tablespoons of Irn-Bru. Use a piping bag to fill each sandwich. I got what was very much like soup as a result, so no piping bag, no Irn-Bru filling.

Et voilà… in the end, it was not a thoroughly Scottish treat.

pissing off


Pissing off the Back of the Boat Into the Nivernais Canal
William Matthews

It’s so cold my cock is furled
like a nutmeat and cold,
for all its warm aspirations
and traffic of urine. 37
years old and it takes me a second
to find it, the poor pink slug,
so far from the brash volunteer
of the boudoir. I arc a few
finishing stutters into the water.
Already they’re converted,
opaque and chill. How com-
modious the dark universe is,
and companionable the stars.
How drunk I am. I shake
my shriveled nozzle and three
drops lurk out like syllables
from before there were languages. Snug
in my pants it will leak a whole sentence
in Latin. How like a lock-keeper’s
life a penis biography would be,
bucolic and dull. What the penis
knows of sex is only arithmetic.
The tongue can kiss and tell.
But the imagination has,
as usual, most of the fun.
It makes discriminations,
bad jokes. It knows itself
to be tragic and thereby silly.
And it can tell a dull story well,
drop by reluctant drop.
What it can’t do is be a body
nor survive time’s acid work
on the body it enlivens,
I think as I try not to pitch
my wine-dulled body and wary
imagination with it into the inky
canal by the small force
of tugging my zipper up.
How much damage to themselves
the body and imagination
can absorb, I think as I drizzle
to sleep, and how much
the imagination makes
of its body of work
a place to recover itself.

Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash

available light


Available Light
Robert Wrigley
And what would I do with another picture

of her nude? The one I have I shown to no one,

not even her anymore,
for fear she might

want them back, or worse. But the one
I regret not taking most was that hot

summer night I rose for
a drink of water,

not even noticing at first I was alone,

until, in the hallway of the too-small house
we lived in then, I saw
her fully extended

on our son’s bed. He had a summer cold

and a little lifelong jones for the breast.

He was two, almost.
He’s been fussy from the

so she went to him there, and then there
she was too, sleeping – and all her long back,
head to heel.

In my half-wakefulness I
stood, ciphering

such a photograph’s mechanics: tripod, cable release,

the long moon- and night-lighted, sepia-
toned exposure….

When I told her years
later how close I’d come,

she said I should have, it would have been fine,

and there lies the source of my regret: her late permission.

Though I think of it now
only as I slip the others

from the safe place they’re hidden in,

six in all: three along a mountain river;

one in a galvanized tub
at the hot springs;

another, fishing from the shore of a mountain lake, in sunglasses –

and then the absent one, framed by the doorway:
on the nearest edge of a
twin bed,

a stuffed bear looking on from the cast-off sheets,

the rasping boy out of sight on the other side of her,

and a particular sheen
on her skin, as if

she’d been basted or entirely, relentlessly kissed,

even the bottoms of her slender, delectable feet


Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash




Once in the 40s
William Stafford
We were alone one night on a long
road in Montana. This was in winter, a big
night, far to the stars. We had hitched,
my wife and I, and left our ride at
a crossing to go on. Tired and cold – but
brave – we trudged along. This, we said,
was our life, watched over, allowed to go
where we wanted. We said we’d come back some time
when we got rich. We’d leave the others and find
a night like this, whatever we had to give,
and no matter how far, to be so happy again.

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash