Locust Ten - November 2000

Locust Ten
ISSN 1529-0832  Vol 1 No 10 - November 2000

FOREWORD


This is the first issue of Locust's new location. Our new dot-com doesn't mean much! It isn't a commercial metamorphosis, but a sign of independence and... well... yes!... (despicable!)... a sin of vanity! Though the mag's title has slightly changed as well, its soul is immutable. Locust will neither disown the principles of its origin nor its idols. The works in #10 perfectly show this line of existence. As usual, welcome to the new contributors, and very many thanks to the faithful ones! And after joy, sadness. Terrible Work, an alternative print magazine edited by Tim Allen (21, Overton Gardens, Mannamead, Plymouth PL3 5BX, UK), will no longer be published. It will become an online series only featuring reviews and listings. If you don't know Tim and his group, you must certainly get acquainted with his online publication. Locust will keep you posted!

November 2000

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NOT SONNETS
~ A Poem by Janet Buck ~


Mast hope full, at first.
Untuned by curses
as harp sits on heaven's
shore at low tide,
dipping its toes
in the freeze,
then going numb.


Love is a dead, dead rose.
Thorns seem steady entity.
I recall your tongue fist
and spit back,
hocking our germs
for all to read.


Hope turned whore
with a pillow she pays for
with her flesh.
Tamper with hearts
long enough and they stop.
I lost the iambic. So sue me.
We were never a sonnet anyway.

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POEM AWARE OF THEORY, BUT TIRED
~ A Poem by James Owens ~


Wet green of hemlocks
grows rich against crimson maples
in the final light.


A man sits on a cliff at the head of a small valley,
watches wind pilfer a few blood-bright leaves
like those scattered around his feet.


Sun is setting behind him.
He drinks water from a canteen.


The trees seem unnaturally clear,
as if with extra effort to be seen
before the ridge's shadow includes them,
though this isn't true.


He thinks of metaphors:
Night's leaky faucet drips darkness into the basin of sky.
Flakes of darkness skip
and skirl down the wind, sticking on the sun's hat.


Where would darkness be without him,
the man thinks,
without language's shambling lust
toward death, darkness being another noun
for what isn't there?


He has been hiking all day,
sifting trail dust into his joints
like exhaustion.


Too tired for sorting things out,
he needs an image before the light fails.


Maybe some bug, fat as a toe and metallic green,
crawls past his right foot
to the lip of the cliff,
opens its back into wings that whir and disappear,
then arcs out on the dimming air.

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AN ATYPICAL MADRIGAL
~ A Poem by Patrick Gasperini ~


The twentieth leaf of my dishevelled years began to grow
As ravens nested in my hermitage,
And rainstorm geese honoured the purity of my hand:


It was the month of moths and prophet-poplars!


No matter who kept watch over the oars and the fishing-nets,
I burst into the fisherman's hut and stole his wisdom.


On the stroke of four,
A snake engraved on her right ankle, crystal clogs,
The Cellar Witch served bowls of beans and Prussian ale:


A kiss, my lad!
The mystery of my syphilitic lyre.


[An Atypical Madrigal first appeared in Rustic Rub #10, UK, in 1999.]

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THREE POEMS by Townee

*

PICTURESQUE


whispers, dead as woods,
without life, like plath.


whose only playing is
--@ matches in curling Qs


--now over;
taken under
smallest bites,


i'm through her;
to a boredom for termites


i had it built;
in the treehouse


--that has           created
yet outlasted--           dust,


you sat; flooded;
cool in your basement. flat


behind Yule logs; just
a feeble fly on a cobbled web

*

UP


on paraffin
she climbed,


to breathe lifeless
arts; as under a moon;
               ...from flames;


an inert substance, it
doesn't have


a reaction
with others.

*

FLYER


stapled
to the former tree--
one wooden telephone pole
--two, maybe three seasons


announcements posted,
dull, broken, between
heavy shaving rain
these spring days.


dried; white
like plaster, but
softer; an older cast
torn off, skinned
on unbold words
clumped and bled;
cut, scabbed, sapped.


as weather is spelled.

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THE COLOUR ORANGE
~ A Poem by Gwyn Surdivall ~


To a Friend on breaking a rib


Dear Virtual Hyper-God,


Will you please take your paws off my sunshine orange angel.
Stick to floods and pain and wars and disasters for each nation.
Your clumsiness reveals your base fixation,
You've made a boob for someone of your station.
Hadn't you got a better idea than playing five-stones with someone's ribs again?


Poor, square, old fashioned Eve was prototyped too strongly,
This cloning business shapes the woman wrongly.
You can't shape this one or pin down her originality,
Not even for the sake of your God-forsaken depravity.
A super alpha woman flies in the light.
Good God stop fooling or there's going to be a fight.
A small beturbaned Indian's jumped the gun
Invading fields of folk and flowers in the sun.

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MUDDY WATERS
~ A Prose Piece by Jerry Vilhotti ~


Johnny disliked going into Burywater with its hatred thrown all over him as a kid; its inhabitants asking what nationality one was and judging one by the clothes he wore to estimate how much he was worth calling even people born in the USA European Americans as if that really gave information, and insisting to know the church or temple or synagogue one belonged to bringing that variable of hate into their equation of separation and schools that just taught the young enough so they could be fodder for their many factories to do boring tasks nine hours a day, and he still resented the fact he had been brought to such a place; leaving The Bronx, where most people expressed their emotions honestly, when he was five years old and leaving this simpler place in time when he felt no shame that his parents spoke broken English nor was there a need to wear sweaters to keep cold out of holes that harbored frost; a place in time when he believed the world could be good. He recalled the girl older than he who had sought him out by the swamps where they lived and then afraid she was beginning to like this curly-haired good looking boy of an inferior nationality she was told to first make fun of, then distrust and finally despise as if they were not human and then with the haughtiness of the girl in Dickens' Great Expectations she told ten year old Johnny he was a dirty boy full of holes; pointing to his hand me downs that his mother insisted he wear and when he tried to tell her the pants of his much older brothers were to big-- she told him to blame The South that was stealing away their garment industry and her low paying job.


Burywater with its low buildings skyline loomed before him. He drove to the cemetery and there threw his flower onto the grave of a so-called brother he really never knew; walked by other siblings who looked away as he passed; still resenting him; for being their late father's favorite; something he hadn't asked for and then he began to admire the view of the town in his rear view mirror. A town that was being swallowed up by clouds of pollution and escorted by a yellow-brown river that once belonged to Indians...

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SWEET FANNY ADAMS
(Part 2 of 2)
~ Prose by Andrew Gallix ~


Fanny Adams. Brit. informal. Noun (also sweet Fanny Adams) nothing at all (Origin: early 20th century: sometimes understood as a euphemism for fuck all.)


Although he had never actually seen her before, he recognized her at once, and once he had recognized her, he realized he would never see her again. After all, not being there was what she was all about; it was the essence of her being, her being Fanny Adams and all that. As he walked towards the bench where she was sitting pretty, Adam missed her already. Missed her bad.


"How do you do?"


"How do I do what?" The imperfect stranger looked up from her slim, calf-bound volume and flashed him a a baking-soda smile, all cocky like.


Their eyes met, pairing off at first sight. The earth moved, orbiting at half a kilometer per second around her celestial globes--a couple of scalloped cupfuls with peek-a-boo trimmings--in what can only be described as a return to the much-maligned Ptolemaic system. For the first time since Mrs Horton's belaboured parturition, when he was forcibly sprung off into the world, Adam did not feel at the wrong place at the wrong time: he was back in the bountiful bosom of Mummy Nature. A gaggle of gurgling putti glided overhead to the strains of syrupy muzak and departing trains. All in all, it was an auspicious overture, fraught with the promise of premise.


"Adam," said Adam, extending his right arm.


"Margarita," said Margarita, giving it a hearty shake.


Still reeling from that initial, blinding smile, let alone the handshake, he struggled to regain his composure. "Have you read The Leaning Tower of Pizzas by N.E. Tchans?"


"Is that the one which ends with an epic battle between gangs of pre-pubescent herberts bouncing around on orange space-hoppers?"


"Yes."


"No, but I read a review at the time."


"Well, it's all about this Mr Soft Scoop geezer, right, who comes from Italy and settles down in South London where he falls in love with a girl called Margarita."


She was fiddling with her umbrella, a faraway look on her face. "Like you, like."


"Oh, I see, yes. Sorry, I was miles away."


"I know: that's the attraction," he sighed sotto voce, before getting a grip on himself. "Anyway, you should check it out some time--if you're into lolloping lollipop ladies, lesbians from Lisbon, the romance of ice-cream vans, that kind of thing."


"Sounds right up my street."


"I see it as a contemporary footnote to Dante."


"Talking of contemporary feet, mine are killing me."


"Dying on our footnotes are we? One footnote in the grave, eh? How long have you got left?"


"Long enough to grab a bite to eat--or so says my chiropodist."


"There's an Italian just round the corner that might tickle your fancy."


"Sounds great. I feel like a pizza."


"I'm not surprised, love, with a name like that."


Adam caught a fleeting glimpse of the dark, gaping twilight zone between Margarita's parting thighs as she uncrossed her legs to get up. That topsy-turvy Bermuda Triangle 'twixt skirt and stocking exerted a gravitational pull of such magnitude that he was sucked in, there and then, never to re-emerge. He picked up her bulky suitcase, l'air de rien, but in his mind's X-ray eye he could see her neatly-packed unmentionables. He was big on smalls was old Adam Horton.


"Heavy, innit?"


"It's a burden I feel I've been carrying all my life." He turned to face her, fair and square. "This may sound potty, but you are the hollowness inside. At last, I have found my sense of loss."


"I'm flattered," she said in Estuarine undertones, blushing a little. Her dimpled cheeks resembled two squashed cherry tomatoes, only bigger. "I always like to be of assistance to strangers."


"After you," said Adam, bowing theatrically and showing the way with her suitcase like a truncheon-toting gendarme stopping the traffic for pedestrians. He could not help noticing the shaft of light that fell on Margarita's top bottom--proof positive that the sun shone out of her behind--before leaving the station, hot on her high heels.


They repaired to a small, dingy restaurant nearby (which Margarita praised on account of its atmosphere) where Adam poured out his heart and a couple of cheap, albeit potent, bottles of plonk. Whining and dining, in medias res.


"We are all post-Denis de Rougemont."


"Couldn't agwee maw," said Marwgawita, making a mental note never again to shpeak wiv her mouf full. Frankly, she did not have a clue what he was going on about.


"We are the first generation to know full well that love doesn't last, and yet we cling to the ideal like shit to a blanket."


She turned up her already-retroussé nose. How more retroussé can it get? he wondered.


"Maybe it's just me. The whole thing's very Oedipal, I know." Adam cringed at his attempt to laugh it off.


"I could spank you, free of charge, if you think that might help."


"I'd rather not if it's all the same with you," he replied rather primly, his flushed face a slapped-arse crimson, "but thanks for the offer. Might even take you up on it some other time. Except...," Adam paused for effect, "...there won't be another time." He sighed, staring into his bowlful of miniature bow-ties, topped up their glasses and cleared his throat. "Love stories are like fairy tales..."


"Aren't they just," she interrupted, a trifle too eager.


"...in that we know the end from the start. Only it's not and they lived happily ever after, is it?"


Tears welled up in her belladonna eyes.


"You know, someone should write a different kind of love story for the new millennium. It would start with the foregone conclusion and work its way back towards the unknown: how it all started in the first place."


"Will you write this new-fangled love story?"


"I'm writing the first pages even as we speak--with your assistance, of course."


"I like to be of assistance." She smiled a wet smile. "So that's it, then?"


"Yes, in the beginning is our end."


Margarita seemed in a hell of a hurry all of a sudden, even her nose was running. Where is it running to? he wondered. To by-corners Byzantine, I'll be bound, and wondrous Wherevers, to the end of the earth, at the end of its tether. Then he shrugged--to himself and at it all--because it did not really matter anymore, it really did not. Whatever: yeah, right.


She had relieved him of a burden, that much was clear. In the circumstances, it did not really seem appropriate to give her a hand with the luggage, it really did not. The suitcase constituted a clear case of unsuitability, plus he could not be arsed. There was that too.


It was raining when Margarita stepped out of the restaurant. Adam watched her amber umbrella disappear from view, a Belisha beacon of hope on a dimmer switch. He scribbled a few words on the paper tablecloth. D'elle, il ne reste que ces tagliatelles.


The door slides open--which is where you came in. You assess her golden-delicious breasts as if you were picking apples on a market stall. You think that a man should never trust a woman who offers him an apple, let alone two. You think that this woman's tits are perfectly identical, for Christ's sake. Like bookends.


God knows what happens next. God--and you.


[Part 1 appeared in Locust #9]

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THREE REVIEWS

*

THE BREATH BETWEEN by Philip Wells, The Vernon Harcourt Press, 65 Mattock Lane, London W13 9LJ (£7.99)


When I bought The Breath Between I thought I was going to buy a box of wonders, but I was sadly disappointed. There are many, too many, poems in Wells's collection that should have been left out: 50%, roughly. In those poems where the poet's imagination is self-confident, but compact and restrained, he is really successful. Such pieces as The Cry of Prometheus' Brother, The Hallowed Men, Psychiatry, Ambivalence, Pilot Light, Ted Hughes Meets The Dalai Lama, Sorceress are worth the price of the volume. But unfortunately half the book doesn't appeal to me. Most of Wells The Druid, of Wells The Preacher, of Wells The Poet Who Discloses "Private Words [...] in Public", is poetically unbalanced. Sometimes refined but artificial; sometimes promising, but frustrating soon afterwards; sometimes excessively naive (on purpose?)...You can either buy The Breath Between just for that bunch of attractive poems or wait for a trimmed selection to come out.

*

NO ONE CAN STEM THE TIDE by Jane Tyson Clement, Plough Publishing, UK (£7.00)


Excerpts might be misleading. Perhaps--but they might also be illuminating. These poems by a poet who died in March 2000 are certainly very tidy in their perfectly balanced rhythm and choice of natural imagery. They also sound genuine and inspired, but tradition is often a heavy millstone. It all depends whether you have a healthy, alternative heart or not. Unless you are an innovative poetry fan, you will certainly want to buy and enjoy the book. Online orders at http://www.plough.com/JTC/.

*

GABRIELE DEPARTING AMERICA by Steven Sills, electronically published by Project Gutenberg


Gabriele Departing America is a pleasantly interesting e-book, basically a psychological study in the shape of a novel. The way its sections are put together is original, and reminds me of the best 20th century tradition. In keeping with what is fashionable today, sex is one of its ingredients. There is prostitution, homosexuality, situations which could disturb morality. But Sills doesn't indulge in calculated roller-coaster sex scenes, which are often the weakness in most contemporary literature. He prefers poetry. Human affairs are often cruel and without illusions, but the way the author deals with them is fundamentally poetical. There is no denying that the relationship between Gabriele and her son is perhaps the emotional core of the work.
Sills's novel is available at www.gutenberg.org/etext/12733.

P.G.

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