Poker

by Rebecca F. John

Alfred Twist won his wife in a game of cards. Huddled hump-backed around a crooked table in a corner of the Three Pigs, the players had wagered thick into the night, stakes rising with the measures of gin they slopped into their glasses.

To Be an Animal

It was while on the toilet that it dawned on Dominic that what he wanted to be was an animal. A hot evacuation of shit and air came in triumphs; each more cartoonishly onomatopoeic than the last.  

Polling Day

Their paths cross continuously on the trail. They meet in leisure-centre foyers that reek of disinfectant and on factory floors that smell of salty bodies. They collide and speak and pass in airless town hall ante-rooms among trays of untouched dips, in school classrooms where the furniture is miniature, by rostrums in medieval market places and at the side of community- centre stages usually reserved for dramas of a more amateur variety.

Living a Little

Virginia came in, lit a cigarette on the stovetop, and sat next to me to watch the downpour. I loved that she smoked, if only because we could sit like this: me eating, her with a cigarette—“indulging our vices,” she would say.

Clusters of My Mind

I am falling deeper, becoming more remote. I sense more haze, more flowers, more bees and then visions of the accident surface. The stench of diesel and red wine penetrates my nostrils. I see broken glass everywhere, and a fractured window open to the sky.

The Skin is the Largest Organ

It is so hot in my apartment that I soak my t-shirts in cold water and wear them dripping. I make small puddles on the floor, but everything evaporates quickly. I like it when the dust from the gutters gets ground into my bed sheets at night, and my days seep yellow into the mattress. It is evidence that I am living some kind of life.

The Sound Mirror

They contained us, we, I, in their bellies, blood, and water; constrained us tight as seeds in the cells and in the breath. Before the splitting, the infinite doubling, and now I hold them all, a rabble of ancestors, pressing up from inside against my skin, and too, I contain the next generation, if I wish.

Happiness is Possible

Do you know there are stories you can tell without making anybody angry? And most of the bones in your body will never need setting. Almost all of them will be okay.

Stoodley Pike

The Stoodley Pike monument has stood on the ridge of the Pennines above the Calder Valley towns of Todmorden and Hebden Bridge since 1856, a thick finger of gritstone pushed from the moorland into the wind like a finger dipped into a cooling stream.

Stilts

I spend my days on the roof of this fort. Looking for you. It’s how I fill time, in a sagging beach chair so low my backside rubs coarse ground. I did think of leaving, in our boat that I would fix. But I can’t ditch these forts – these stilts – that stand proud in the mist. Jagged metal and bird-waste stain. Weird, like a distant planet. Scarred by wear and wave.