This Burning World

by Alexis Penney

There is no summer in the Bay. I keep waiting and it never comes. There are warm days, or really just warm hours, when the sun subtly reveals herself and I wonder why I’m dragging my winter coat around, my oft slept-in olive green carapace. It smells like my punk friends from high school, and sage and weed and funky yoga studio, sweat and feet – all in a way that I like, because it is mine.

Laura

There are so many kinds of nights in this world. Nights when it thunderstorms. Nights when sleep will not come, because you can’t stop counting all the ways you’re not good enough yet. Pass-out-in-a-cab nights. One-night-stand nights. Nights you can’t remember. Nights you do not want to remember.

Box Office Poison

At the start of The Philadelphia Story (1940), Cary Grant’s character threatens to punch Katherine Hepburn’s, before settling for pushing her over. It’s a violent beginning to a romantic comedy, which taints the remainder of the tale of reconciliation between a separated husband and wife, rendering it difficult to watch.

Fan Fiction

This must be the boy! The one she’s heard about: the boy they say is raised by the animals. They call him feral and free, that he is liberated to wander around the land. He speaks to the snakes, the bears… the tiger that terrorises them. But why does he choose these animals over his own kind?

Yvonne Rainer and Queering Failure

When my depression was finally beginning to heal, I started to take jazz dance lessons. Living in Berlin, the city of Anita Berber and Weimar Kabarett, I hoped it might root me further into place. During the 1920s, that pyrrhic age between war and National Socialism, eager young Berliners danced their troubles away to unpredictable melodies. Perhaps I’d be able to do the same.

Cruising

The Sunday afternoon Bloomsbury Group tour drifted past, their guide waxing posh and poetic about Mrs Dalloway. Floral summer dresses caught the sunlight through the leaves; bright, surreal and kaleidoscopic. I felt his hand on my hip and reached behind to guide him inside me, biting my T-shirt so as not to cry out and give us away. 

Manifestation

The girl is in hospital, and the doctor tells her a story about a man who died in his bed at home, an old man. At the moment of death, he appeared to his estranged daughter. He was suddenly in the cafe where she worked, stood by a table for a moment with his hand resting on a bottle of ketchup. Before she could ask what he was doing there, he flickered out, like someone had thrown a switch.

On the Redemption of American Culture

I was in an optimistic mood, encouraging a writer friend to go for larger opportunities. I turned to her and pressed, "But don't you want your work to be more out there, more present in the culture?" She thought for a moment, then asked, "What culture?" Good question.

Make I Here

I wonder what my ledger looks like, karma-wise. I imagine it to be squarely in the black before my move to America. On the debit side, some minor things like nicking a rose apple from my neighbour’s tree. On the credit side the charge I led at my first job when I found out all the girls were paid less than the boys.

On Margate Sands

Margate is a thirsty place. Its switchblade tide draws back so far that by the time it turns the shore is parched. Rude epithets, scrawled in chalk, line its coastal paths. Lustful and wayward, this town is wild. With a steady drip of London transplants fleeing the city’s rapacious capitalist appetite, it’s gentrifying fast. Yet Margate’s wildness persists.