Poetry: Dear, he who must not be named (T/W) by Faye Alexandra Rose

I say I don’t, but I remember that night.


There were eleven lights in the ceiling and five trains went past the window. You told me to
be silent. Not one word or your violence would speak a thousand. It turns out you wrote a
novel all over my skin was a map of the places you had been uninvited. Watercolour bruises I
could not dilute with bleach. I cried to the police reliving that moment once again. The
examination was filled with swabs and humiliation as a male doctor went near my wounds. I
feared men for a long time after, I would even flinch at my brother’s touch. I’d often see red
and lash out, like a bull I would charge at whoever told me “I would be okay.” I can’t even
look in the mirror without seeing shame! I scrub my skin until it bleeds and please don’t
patronise me with so-called kindness! I’m damaged, disgusting, drowning in pain, I can’t
bear to wake up and feel this again, I –
realised I still have breath in my lungs. When I shut my eyes, I feel at peace. I’ve learnt that
quiet thoughts speak volumes. That love doesn’t shout, it whispers. That hands are to hold
and not to make fists with. That for a moment I was hollow, a woman who would wallow in
self-pity until I remembered who I am – A lioness with courage. So, to ‘he who must not be
named’ watch me as I push out my chest and fear the roar that comes from its depths.

Featured image from Unsplash.com from Neonbrand

Faye Alexandra Rose is a UK based writer studying English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Worcester. Her work has been published in several online magazines such as; Mookychick, The Drabble and the online project Poetry & Covid. She is also a Poetry Editor for small leaf press – a magazine dedicated to giving a voice to undiscovered writers. She can be found on Twitter: @FayeAlexandraR1, or via her website: fayealexandrarose.wordpress.com

Anthology Post: Finding a Wonderland in Alice by Paul Brookes (poetry)

1.         Her Hole

A rabbit hole falls into her.

The pocket watch looks at the rabbit

and know it’s late.

 

The big hand claps the little hand

to see such fun.

 

How will the door enter Alice?

Alice says  I am cake. Eat me.

 

The door takes a bite of her hand.

It grows and grows

I am too big to enter you, now,

says the door.

I am a bottle. Drink me,

 

The door sups her

and enters her.

2.         Shuffle

A pack of playing cards

decide to play inside her.

 

They shuffle her into black

and red, divide her into suits,

 

Her heart becomes diamonds

Her hands spades,

Her legs clubs

Her torso hearts.

 

Alice says Off with her head!

to the Queen of her heart,

but the Queen topples

the suits and escapes.

 

Alice has two thumbs:

Tweedledee and Tweedledum

she twiddles in thought.

3.         Tea Party

Teapot is fast asleep

curled inside the dormouse

curled inside Alice.

 

Her table lays the cloth.

The cloth places the teapot,

cups and saucers.

A hat and watch sit on

the only two chairs.

 

Take a seat.

They say in chorus.

 

“There are no seats”

Alice answers.

All the seats taken then.

 

Is it the month of your time?

Ask the hat and the watch

 

“It’s ALWAYS the month of my time

while I’m alive.

 

You ought to eat and drink less.

You’ll get fat.

 

I  have had my fill, she replies

You haven’t had anything

 

Less is more, she answers

and leaves the table

inside her

4.         The Door

Suddenly she feels the alarm

of  the biological pocket watch

inside her.

 

Where, o where could they be.

O, my little hand, o my big hand.

Alice will kill me if I can’t find her

bracelet and mobile.

 

Alice wants to say she has those

already but searches her pockets

and can’t find anything.

 

A door sits beside her

as she begins to cry.

Through her tears she sees

a painting of a tree on the door.

 

Soon her tears make waves,

she swims, but her arms

get tired, so she clambers

on the door where she is dry.

 

She thinks she fell asleep

and opens the tree on the door

and finds herself on the naughty step

of some stairs and a voice says:

 

“Is that you, Alice? You spend

far too much time outside.

Go inside and get some fresh

air and vitamin D from the sun.”

 

She checks her wrist and pockets

and sighs. The tears

must have washed the bracelet

back on her wrist, mobile in her pocket.

 

5.         The Mushroom

sits on a caterpillar

behind Alice’s eyes

The mushroom engrossed

in its mobile phone,

 

Alice says to it:

How are you?

 

I love change too much.

Change isn’t quick enough,

Says the mushroom.

This Caterpillar should have

pupated and flown.

 

Why? Asks Alice.

 

I’m not sure. You

and I should be wrinklies.

You a middle aged woman,

and I mulch for something

creative and growing.

 

Time is too slack. Should

buck its ideas up. If you see

it about give what it for from me.

 

And Alice tries but can get

no more from mobiled mushroom.

6.         The Watch

She hears the biological pocket watch inside her

say  I’m slow, so slow. I’ll be early

and Alice wants me

not too early, not too late

but prompt. O, my little hand,

my big hand.

 

In its more haste less speed

Alice sees something drop

from its pocket.

 

It is a silver nomination bracelet,

and a mobile phone.

 

Alice picks them up

and shouts after the watch

but it has gone.

 

So she tries on the bracelet

and it fits. The mobile won’t

work because you have

 to key in

the correct code.

 

That’ll teach it to look after things,

she thinks.

7.         Reduces

A court rises in her.

A scroll unfurls and reads from

her biological pocket watch

Tarts have stolen the Knave.

 

Alice is the judge.

Alice is the Knave.

The judge is the accused.

The accused is the judge.

 

Testimony transcribes the witnesses.

The spaces between their words testify.

 

Hat says the party is always ending.

He does not know when

it began to end.

 

Off with the head

of the guilty, Alice says.

Evidence is an atom.

 

Alice is guilty, says

the heart of the Queen.

 

Alice feels herself getting smaller.

She cannot see over

her desk.

 

Alice has disappeared,

says her pocket watch

Everything gets smaller.

Bracelet and mobile left on the chair.

 

Alice feels these are the worst

days of her death that glorious

summer afternoon she finds herself

beneath a tree in a stranger place.

 

Paul Brookes is a shop asst. His chapbooks include The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017),  She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019). He is a contributing writer of Literati Magazine and Editor of Wombwell Rainbow Interviews. Recently had work broadcast on BBC Radio 3 The Verb. Paul also runs a poetry blog site http://www.thewombwellrainbow.com for book reviews, art, poetry, and more! Follow on Twitter @PaulDragonwolf1 “Curator and Editor of Wombwell Rainbow Book Interviews and poetry and artwork challenges”. YouTube site: “Poetry Is A Bag For Life”, Soundcloud is “The Wombwell Rainbow” Facebook: Paul Brookes – Writer and Photographer

The Unresolveables (An Heroic Crown Sonnet Sequence) by Paul Brookes at (sonnets 1-15)

3 Poems by Paul Brookes in FOTM Poetry Digest Issue 2 Her Fiftieth, Her Fur Elise, A Black Bead

Featured image is from Unsplash.com Sincerely Media.

Poetry: Dream Upon Waking by Mike Hickman

Dream Upon Waking

What if you knew that the dream is only a dream upon waking?
The night’s stories post-hoc assembled
from the first fragments of consciousness,
from the returning of the light and the regaining of the senses?
Everywhere you’ve been and all the time you’ve been away
invented in the slightest seconds of reboot;
non-memory rewritten, non-existence papered-over with
an illusion that you’ve been somewhere
and the story has continued,
when – in truth – there’s been no you and no story
and no dreams at all in those absent hours.
What if you knew that for sure?
Should that scare or comfort when contemplating the deeper sleep?
That we need to be conscious to be conscious of ourselves and what we’ve been?
That non-conscious means no self to dream, no past to haunt and no future to fear?
What might you do then with the moments to come?

Mike Hickman (@MikeHicWriter) is a writer from York, England. He has written for Off the Rock Productions (stage and audio), including 2018’s “Not So Funny Now” about Groucho Marx and Erin Fleming. He has recently been published in EllipsisZine, Dwelling Literary, Bandit Fiction, Nymphs, Flash Fiction Magazine, Brown Bag, and Safe and Sound Press. His co-written, completed six-part BBC radio sit com remains unproduced but available to interested producers! 

The Fevers of the Mind General Promo Interview with Chloe Gorman

1) Please describe your latest book, what about your book will intrigue the readers the most, and what is the theme, mood? Or If you have a blog or project please describe the concept of your project, blog, website

I’m currently working on the second series of ‘Penny Dreadfuls from the Moth Sanctuary’ – a series of free, short horror audiobooks I’m producing with my partner, Andrew Bate, and his independent theatre company, Moth Sanctuary Productions.

When lockdown hit the UK in March 2020 and production halted on the stage show we were producing, we decided to put my radio expertise, his music composition skills and our home studio set up to use and create some audiobooks. We started out by recording some lockdown themed classics, producing a version of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Masque of the Red Death’ and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’

Inspired by classic Penny Dreadfuls, we then decided to create some of our own, original short horror stories, which grew into a series of ten episodes all written, recorded and produced by Andrew and I in our living room. I wrote four of the ten stories – ‘The Neighbours’ is about a woman who is driven to insanity after moving in above a mortuary; ‘The White Haired Devil’ is about a mysterious fortune teller with dark, hidden intentions; ‘Midnight Visits’ follows a young boy terrorised by a figure in the night; and ‘The Token’ is the story of an archivist who uncovers a sinister secret about the foundling hospital she is researching, inspired by a production of ‘Coram Boy’ which I starred in at Nottingham Playhouse in 2019. I also wrote an exclusive bonus episode for Thornhill Theatre Space called ‘Alice’s Shadow’ about a dark presence lurking in her room at night.

We have just started writing series two with three stories already in the making, so we hope to bring to listeners for free later in 2021.

2) How old were you when you first have become serious about your writing, do you feel your work is always adapting?

I wrote poems and songs a lot when I was a teenager, but I stopped when I was around 15 and didn’t seriously pick it up again until my late twenties. I decided to do a Masters degree in professional writing when I was 28, during which I developed a real passion for the short story format. I started writing and publishing poetry at 30.

At first, writing poetry was a therapeutic way to process my difficult emotions and work through some of the things I was experiencing at the time, so everything was quite raw and intense. Nowadays I find my poetry writing comes in waves, but my style is certainly always adapting as I try to refine my craft, while still staying true to the emotion that inspires it.

Working in the audiobook format has really helped me refine my short story writing too. I spent 10 years working in radio before I moved into publishing, so writing for the spoken word is something I am fairly adept at but I had never applied this skill to my own personal projects. Using the time I had during the first UK lockdown, I was able to dedicate myself to writing, producing five new short stories specifically for the Penny Dreadfuls from the Moth Sanctuary series, and working with artistic director Andrew Bate to bring the stories to life with his incredible voice acting and scoring.

3) What authors, poets, musicians have helped shape your work, or who do you find yourself being drawn to the most?

I find Nick Cave a source of constant inspiration, both for his staggering creativity, but also for his work ethic. I was lucky enough to see Nick Cave in Conversation in 2019, where he described how he didn’t just sit around and wait for inspiration to take over, but actively went to work at songwriting, seeing it the same way most people would see a traditional job. The idea that creativity and artistic inclination isn’t a gift bestowed on you from above, but is something that takes grit, determination and work is something that motivates me to keep creating, even when it feels fruitless. Style-wise, I find Florence Welch a big inspiration too, especially for songwriting, as I admire her rich, descriptive lyrics and often haunting, ethereal sound.

In terms of inspiration as a writer, I adore Angela Carter as I find she has the ability to totally immerse me in her fantastical worlds. I find her strong female lead characters and subversive themes delightful too. I read a lot of Bret Easton Ellis when I was a teenager which has had an undeniable influence on my writing, if not for the gritty themes, but for my soft spot for unreliable narrators. I must mention Edgar Allan Poe, I came to appreciate Poe’s work in my adult life and I truly believe he is the master of the short story, as I find his work so compelling I can devour each story in one sitting. I aspire to be able to do the same one day. More recently I am also enjoying the work of Kirsty Logan. Her short story ‘Things My Wife and I Found Hidden In Our House’ is one I find myself returning to again and again.

4) What other activities do you enjoy doing creatively, or recreationally outside of being a writer, and do you find any of these outside writing activities merge into your mind and often become parts of a poem?

As someone who writes songs, I also love to sing. I have been singing in some guise since I was around four years old. I was part of a choir that performed in a production at Nottingham Playhouse in 2019, which was a lifelong dream come true. I have been producing songs with my partner, who is also a singer-songwriter, as another lockdown project so we are hoping to release an EP sometime soon.

Outside of creative pursuits, I love to cook. I enjoy being out in nature, particularly forests and the coast. Before the pandemic I was also learning aerial hoop. I had got myself to an intermediate level but unfortunately I haven’t been able to train for nearly a year, so I am hoping to get back into that as soon as I can.

5) What is your favorite or preferred style of writing?

For poetry, I find free verse comes the most naturally to me, although I do get imposter syndrome sometimes and question whether my work is really poetry when it is so unstructured.

For fiction I am a short story writer predominantly. Although I have started work on what I hope will become a novel, the sheer volume of words required often overwhelm me. I also get an immense sense of satisfaction by being able to tell a complete story in such a short space of time so I return to that form repeatedly as I find it the most rewarding.

6) Are there any other people/environments/hometowns/vacations that has helped influence your writing?

Without wishing to sound too much of a romantic, I find my partner has genuinely inspired a lot of my poetry. I think that is largely because he encouraged me to pursue writing it and has given me such unwavering support as I have done so. I find such beauty in the complexity of human relationships – love, desire, loss, even the everyday experiences – that writing inspired by him and our relationship is often what comes naturally to me.

For my fiction writing, a lot of that comes from the dark recesses of my own mind. One story in particular was inspired by a memory I had as a child. When I was around four years old, I was convinced that I had seen a ghost sitting at the end of my bed. For years I thought it was an old woman, for some reason or another, and I ended up converting this memory into a horror story called ‘Midnight Visits’ which we put out as one of the Penny Dreadfuls from the Moth Sanctuary series. After telling my parents this over dinner one evening, my dad revealed to me that just a few days after his father died, when I was four years old, he and my mother had heard me talking to someone in the middle of the night. When they came into my room, my dad said he could smell my grandfather’s aftershave and there was an indentation on the end of my bed as though someone had been sat there. He had never told me that story before, so I still get goosebumps just thinking about it!

7) What is the most rewarding part of the writing process, and in turn the most frustrating part of the writing process?

For me, starting is the most frustrating point. All too often I will find an excuse not to start writing at all, which usually comes from self-consciousness or fear. I then get frustrated with myself because I want to be writing and creating something. So I have to force my way through the blocks I put in my own path before ultimately enjoying the creative process once it starts.

The most rewarding part I find is editing. I work as a deputy editor for my day job, so I spend a good amount of time sub editing other people’s work, which to me feels like polishing something to get it to its absolute best state. For me, I love it when someone reads my story for the first time and tells me their interpretation – what they think is happening, who they think the characters are, if any parts don’t ring true or cause them to lose the immersion in the story. Going back through and refining, polishing and improving those things always gives me a real sense of satisfaction, as it feels like I’m investing in my own work and increasing its value. When someone has invested their own time in reading or listening to one of my stories, I want to make sure that experience is the best it can possibly be.

8) How has the current times affected your work?  
I feel very privileged that although the pandemic presented several challenges for me, both personally and financially, it also presented me with the time and opportunity to really invest in my own personal work, which is something I hadn’t really had before.

If I hadn’t had the extra time lockdown afforded me, I doubt I would have actually pursued the idea of creating a series of original audiobooks, so I am both proud and grateful to have had the chance to do that.
It’s also been wonderful to be more involved with my partner’s theatre company. I got to work with him to produce an exclusive, live streamed performance for Cheltenham Literature Festival and have had the opportunity to take on my first performing role, as we acquired a temporary license to perform Angela Carter’s ‘The Company of Wolves’ as a free online video.

I am exceptionally lucky that, despite a very sad death in my family due to Covid recently, lockdown has given me the space and the time to be creative in a way that I never have before.

9) Please give us any links, social media info, upcoming events, etc for your work.

You can find the Penny Dreadfuls from the Moth Sanctuary series for free on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4DIVULDVWQ&list=PL9RxMiCupesJ9Y_IpdDOWZ6UZMC_R-61b alongside some of our other work, including our Poe inspired ‘Deep in Earth’ performance for the 2020 Cheltenham Literature Festival and an exclusive reading of Angela Carter’s ‘The Company of Wolves.’

The Penny Dreadfuls series is also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Podbean.

You can follow me on Twitter @chloevwrites, Instagram @chloevictoriawrites and on Facebook.com/chloevictoriawrites

Chloe GormanWriter, poet, copywriter, voiceover

Read my work at www.chloevictoriawrites.com twitter.com/chloevwrites

instagram.com/chloevictoriawrites

Poems from Chloe Gorman from Fevers of the Mind Issue 1 (2019) “The Colour of My Love” “Longing” & “Storm”

Time Dilation by Saba Zahoor (poetry)

Time Dilation

Memory is water.
So she takes care lest it takes
to turbulence in her warped soul
or flow heedlessly through,
and flood
the pathways of her body.
Maybe it is just a dream:
Her childhood prancing around,
with the attention span of butterflies,
flitting about from one flower to another
in her grandfather’s garden of origami.
Where gnomes would appear
from behind the rose bushes
and slip into her pockets,
manuscripts of much importance.
They always read the same:
‘Catch the fugitive. Don’t let it go.’
But it fled,
fled from her grandfather’s house
of clockworks, up through
the staircase of geodesics
onto the terrace of wormholes
and up and away.
It escaped at the speed of light,
sapping the soul out of her body.

Memory is water.
It freezes at the touch of her fingertips, and turns into
a wisp of tendrils
as she attempts to clasp it tight.
Time had slowed down;
the garden left untended.
The all too familiar landscape,
the stern and the rigid birch trees,
the solitary mulberry tree,
had all been stirred giddy
as into the melting broth
of a witch’s cauldron.
But it was as she had
long since suspected:
Time Dilation.
Everything had been bargained
for the wondrous journey
of her stellar childhood.
In a multiverse of possibilities,
pining for the comet of childhood
that comes but once in a lifetime,
she had descended
into declining years
seamlessly, indiscernibly
till it was said of her
‘Could it be she too had been a child once?’

Memory is water.
It changes its form every time
she looks back on it;
reshapes itself with every container that tries to hold it-
overflowing in the heart,
firing lightening bolts through the mind.
Your life
skips like a stone over a lake:
now like a child playing in the water,
now like an old woman grown weary of it;
never feeling like an adult
(Your adulthood as if skimmed out.)
You witness the hands of the clock
convulsing with hysteria:
How does one recover from that?
How does one wind that clock?
How does one count afresh;
mark the days again, after
the summers and the winters
of one’s convalescence?
What does one do when one is
done dusting and sorting, ironing
out all the wrinkles, she wondered.
Gardening, perhaps?
Yes, life could be perfect again
as she imagined her kids,
with the attention span of butterflies,
flitting about from one flower to another
in her garden of origami.

Saba Zahoor is from Kashmir

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones
photo from Unsplash by Aron Visuals