Lost Eggs

 
Photo by Stephen O'Shea

Photo by Stephen O'Shea

Loon: from the Norwegian word Lom
derived from the old Norse word lómr
meaning lament.

I waded through the tall grasses
and reeds along the shore of Dead
Lake; an old obituary for a massacre
of Ojibwe tribes. The dead morning
crawled from the horizon over the trees
alighting on a nest of wrack and leaves,
twisting twigs hidden along the waters
edge. Inside, two eggs Lay frozen
in orbit together, dead Oblong Planets,
the black spots craters on the glossy brown
surface. I grabbed one, hand bobbing
as if it held a hot rock, but it was dead
cold. Did the parents mourn?
Or, after pushing the eggs around
with their beaks like pebbles, did they fade
into the water? I gathered the lost eggs,
which were nearly as long as my hand,
and began heading home as a long
wailing call broke the air.


Daniel Schauer is currently pursuing an MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen. Originally from the States, he moved here with three of his best friends back in August to continue his education and perfect his writing. Poetry has always been his passion and this is his first publication.

 

Chicken Soup

 
photo by Melissa Reid

photo by Melissa Reid

Sat across from you in my dark cold flat you talk about Ska and Sondheim, legs kicking off the stool and mine firmly planted
and I hug my bowl of soup tighter and tighter and you look brighter and brighter and lighter and lighter and lighter and lighter...

You're light.
The yielding yellow warmth like a bowl of chicken soup with knodel,
fat flecks on the top of golden broth.
From the moment anyone sees you
like just the merest touch of your pupils can suffuse joy across acres of cold skin.
You soar warm across myriad constellations too far away to burn but just close enough to nurture
You're just. Right.
Kepler 221bravo- you're in everyone's Goldilocks zone.
You dance fixedly while supporting the life around you
maybe
weightless
airless
breathless
elliptical ellipsis even effusive
you're emphatically empathetic.
Even my rib-cage lifts and falls with the opening of your eyelashes.
Look at the sun!
The sum of your scraps and slivers and the strangers' lives you touch is greater than the galaxies of thought I will have to methodically unerringly specifically ploddingly
create.

I tattoo an anchor on my table to warn people that I cannot will not refuse to fly. There is value in being grounded. Or so I hope.


Hannah Raymond-Cox is in her 4th year studying International Relations and Modern History at the University of St Andrews. She's an award-winning feminist slam poet who cares deeply about food, trains, and memes long dead. From Hong Kong, San Francisco, and currently living in St Andrews, Hannah's sardonic poetry has made audiences around the world giggle nervously. She also makes a lot of challah (like a jewish braided brioche, particularly good with some marmalade at an argumentative brunch). She's winner of the Stanza Slam 2016, Hammer and Tongue National Slam Championship Finalist 2016, Other Voices Featured Poet 2016 and active member of St Andrews’ creative writing society Inklight. She's also obsessed with meringues.

 

James’s Da: A Wee Scene

 
Photo by Melissa Reid

Photo by Melissa Reid

Four men (JAMES, UNCLE GREG, DAVIE, DRIVER) stand looking under the bonnet of a broken-down hearse. DAVIE steps back and looks to the sky.

DAVIE: Ye ken what, lads? Auld Tommy would've been laughing his heed aff the noo. Aw us stood in the rain trying tae fix a motor.

(The rest of the men ignore him.)

DAVIE: Did ye hear me, lads? I said Tommy would’ve been laughing-

UNCLE GREG: Davie, shut up, ye’re no helpin. Ah fuck it, I dinnae ken what I’m lookin at here.

(The three other men step away from the car and stand with DAVIE. JAMES and DRIVER unfold umbrellas and the four men group underneath.)

JAMES: What noo?

DRIVER: The replacement car’s on its way. Could be another half hour. Could be half a day.

JAMES: You two can go ahead (gestures to UNCLE GREG and DAVIE). I’ll get youse there.

(DAVIE looks at UNCLE GREG with his eyebrows raised. UNCLE GREG frowns and shakes his head. DAVIE begins to also shake his head.)

DAVIE: Out of the question, Jamesy. Leave nae man behind, that’s my motto.

JAMES: Cheers, Davie.

UNCLE GREG: That’s funny. You used to say it was every man for himsel when we went oot on the lash. Ye were always disappearin wi whatever lassie would gie ye yer hole.

DAVIE: (shrugs) A man needs mare than one motto, Greggy. Anyway, I’m tellin yeese. Auld Tommy would’ve been pishin himsel the noo.

UNCLE GREG: Davie, ye dinnae need to kid on because James is here. He kens his da was a dour bastard. Would he fuck be laughin.

DAVIE: I meant, wherever he is noo. He’ll be laughin.

UNCLE GREG: Whit d’ye mean, “wherever he is”? He’s right fuckin there. (points to hearse, then begins knocking on the back window) Would ye keep it doon in there? Stop laughin at everything, ye dead prick.

(A few moments of silence, except for the falling rain.)

DAVIE: Bound tae be a hearse kickin aboot, somewhere.

UNCLE GREG: It's been half an hour. If there was one kickin aboot, we'd have it by noo. There's clearly nae hearses kickin aboot.

DAVIE: Well, it doesnae need tae be a hearse, does it? What aboot an estate car? As long as it’s got a long boot.

JAMES: It’s no like a cheap mattress. Ye cannae fold my da in and close the boot before he springs back oot.

DAVIE: Aye, that’s a point, lad. Turnin up in an estate! Auld Tommy definitely would’ve been laughin at that. I’m telling yeese.

(DRIVER takes out his mobile phone and makes a call, stepping out of earshot, taking his umbrella with him. The other three huddle under JAMES’S umbrella.)

UNCLE GREG: Nah, my brother wisnae much of a giggle. More like the most cynical prick ye’d ever meet. Didnae trust nothin or naebody. Remember when he swore doon there was nae chance Blackburn would win the league? Called ye daft just for suggestin something oot the ordinary might happen.

DAVIE: And when he said there was nae way DVD’s would be mare popular than videos? He was still tapin Corrie on a VHS player till the day he died.

(They all laugh, before a pause.)

JAMES: I remember…he told me there was nae chance Sarah would lose the baby.

(UNCLE GREG puts a hand on JAMES’s shoulder.)

UNCLE GREG: It was a horrible thing, that, James.

JAMES: Aye, I ken. And I swear, I’m no tryin to depress yeese. (with a sad smile) I just mean, I was still glad he said it. It didnae matter that he was wrong. It made me feel better, that he was so sure. Ye want yer da to be like that. Sure.

(The three men nod and the sound of rain is heard louder. DRIVER returns to the group.)

DRIVER: Right. Our other hearse is being used at the minute. We'll need to wait till that funeral's over before we can move the body.

JAMES: Tommy.

DRIVER: What’s that?

JAMES: My da’s name was Tommy.

DRIVER: Aye. Sorry, son.

UNCLE GREG: We cannae be waitin that long. We'll just need tae, we'll just need tae...

JAMES: Need to what?

UNCLE GREG: What if we…if we just…carry him?

JAMES: Carry him?

UNCLE GREG: Aye, it's only a wee bit doon the road. We cannae keep them aw waitin much longer. Yer da wisnae a heavy guy, anyway.

DAVIE: Ye could say he’s a dead weight, eh, lads?

(No one laughs.)

DRIVER: Carrying it then, lads? No the first time I've seen it.

(The four men open the back of the hearse and start manoeuvring the coffin.)

DAVIE: Dinnae worry, Greggy. He’s no heavy. He’s yer brother.

UNCLE GREG: Davie, I swear ye’re puttin a right dampener on this funeral.


Ross Sayers Ross Sayers is a writer of Scottish fiction who struggles to stay in third person when writing bios, so I do. My debut novel, Mary’s the Name, was released in February 2017.

 

Two Winter Vignettes: 2016

 
636224512356770641_Afterlight_Edit.jpg

NOVEMBER (THANKSGIVING)

The waiter goes outside
for a cigarette —
gently puff puffing smoke
into the November cold.

Tonight when I walk home,
the leisure of a Sunday in my pace,
I’ll breathe it into my lungs,
and be thankful.


 
Photos by Aileen McKay

Photos by Aileen McKay

DECEMBER (CHRISTMAS)

Outside, squirrels hop shuffle
along shivering branches,
flirting and dashing wildly
as white rain falls to mud.

Inside, Dad watches them,
hands pocketed,
leaning forwards at the window,
as if listening for their secrets.


Aileen McKay recently graduated from a Comparative Literature MLitt at the University of Glasgow. She says, 'I’m an optimist, activist, and street photographer. Glasgow adopted me six years ago after I left behind the sleepy, salty seaside village in the north of Scotland that I did the first part of my growing up in. Nowadays, I work as an English tutor with a feminist agenda. Above all, I am a keen advocate for radical kindnesses — big and small, towards friends and strangers, in private and in public — in our noisy, modern world.'

 

 

Whittle

 
Photo by Melissa Reid

Photo by Melissa Reid

Edges of teapots and fruit dishes
made presentable.
I mothered bluebirds from lifeless liquid.
From cast moulds cream necks stemmed, a wing,
two eyes, clay skeletons firing in the kiln.
Many would fold, cleft beaks, bubbles in the spine,
children I buried with the wastage;
some lived to be glazed in a frost-blue coat.

I fettle, work words.
Shaving, replacing, whittling away
at the bone, back bent, I peel the bark
of tree stumps, thread smoke through the needle eye.
Picking wild oats with dirt tracks on my palms
I weed the changes in me out.
The moth floating dead in the glass like a star,
a golden cross when the sun comes.
Some lines leap, some die, lungs full of ink.

But here I place the bluebird, a solitary tack
on a corkboard, and its wings flutter a little between blinks.
It whispers will you remember me tomorrow?
I ask the same of my flock of broken loves,
blueprints stained with coffee and dust.
These are the measurements, incisions.
These are beginnings and ends,
stacked lines, trimmings of trying.


David Ross Linklater is currently studying an MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. He says: 'I’m 26 years old, from the Highlands but reside in Glasgow. My poems have appeared in Glasgow Review of Books, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Ofi Press and The High Flight, amongst others. I am the recipient of a Donald Dewar Arts Award and was shortlisted for a New Writers Award in 2015.'

 

To Beethoven’s Bust, Who Watches as I Work

'Yes, the instruments of time have changed./I tap notes on a tuneless keyboard, play/bhangra, online poker, compose sandwiches/which, you seem to say, sound fine/for a dystopian future. I’m sorry my concerto/is primarily inertia, that my quavers/are cheese flavoured...' (Excerpt from 'To Beethoven’s Bust, Who Watches as I Work' by Russell Jones).

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The Hyphenated American

'In LA we drive around / chasing the paletero—the one who also sells mayo smeared elotes / with sprinkled Mexican cheese and powdered chile, / then we pull up to a beat up taco truck / carne asada on fresh corn tortillas—cilantro, onions, and lime...' (excerpt from 'The Hyphenated American' by Sonia Perez)

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S Shaped

 
Photo by Melissa Reid 

Photo by Melissa Reid 

It’s the soft ease
as the day changes state.

I am curled around you like sibilant sound,
peppering your cheeks with cat-kisses 

while your clammy fingers
press urgently into my neck. 

I could leave you now,
switch off and let the night in 

but this, this, is the best time
when you whisper about the world. 

We are twined again, arms and
legs and hearts intertwined and 

I hear your fears and you are still small
and in thrall enough that I can crush

them with the sound of my voice, spinning
whisper gold out of the warm, sleepy silence

So, I pull you close and breathe
dreams into your ear.


Lori England is an undergraduate student at the Open University, studying for a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Creative Writing. She's a writer and poet from Glasgow, Scotland. Her work has been published in 404 Ink, by Crab Fat Magazine and was shortlisted for the 2015 Bold Types creative writing competition. She is currently juggling studying with bringing up her own tiny girl gang. You can find out more about her work on her blog: here.

 

Sunday Morning Symphonies

 
Photo by Stephen O'Shea

Photo by Stephen O'Shea

I was four years old
when I realised I could hear–

not the timbre
of a voice that pleads

forgive me;

but the dour sound
of an empty pier in winter,

or the noiseless cry
of one white sock

left to wilt upon the floor.

I am a purveyor
of secret silences–

one who trades
in nonophonic notes.

The naked ear will listen
if you tell it what to hear–

breadcrumbs on the table;
a fence post in the grass;

the best of awkward silences.

Can you feel it?
That inaudible tremor

in the whispers
of the weary–

it’s the sound
that loneliness makes.


Rachel Grande is studying towards an MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. Of herself, she writes: 'Rachel Grande: coffee-drinker, dog-hugger, and a postgraduate student of Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. Things I like to write: poetry. Things I am afraid of: poetry.'

 

Listen and Learn

 
Photo by Beth McCallum

Photo by Beth McCallum

When my little sister pretends to be on the phone, she holds her hand flat to her head.

Naturally she has a smartphone of her own, and it cost our Mum an arm and a leg, but purely because she knows that it's made for children, Emma wants nothing to do with it. Whenever she is given it to play with, she grumbles and complains that she can't do anything cool with it: no Wi-Fi, no messaging, no grown-up apps or games. She doesn't understand just at how much she is at risk of being targeted by the other side of the internet, how filming herself for the web to see or talking to strangers online could get her killed, kidnapped, anything. She's eight. I'm thirty. As she spies me “playing” the “grown-up-app” of telling my smartphone exactly what ingredients went into my lunch, Emma clamours to take my phone from me. The smudge of her fingers on the screen activates Sonia, who lights up between our hands.

The latest mission of AI on most modern smartphones is to gain an understanding of human emotion and, to an unnerving extent, learn to react to it and guide us toward positive ones. Sonia's voice is smooth and likeable, but there is enough pause between key-words that those of us born in the age of technology know that the voice belongs to a program. It's the robot accent; the struggle to pronounce Scottish town names, the inability to differentiate “six” from “sex”, the repetition, the repetition.

"How are you feeling, Elaine?"

My sister answers in my stead.

"She's feeling hungry!"

"Hungry? Ha-ha."

Sonia's laughter is tinned, measured. She doesn't understand, but she is learning more all the time. She takes context clues from Emma's response to discern that her question has not been answered.

"How are you feeling, Elaine?"

"Worried, Sonia."

A bleep. Sonia has noted the emotion, and the context, and the room temperature.

"Worried? What are you worried about?"

I pick up my sandwich, elbows on the table. My sister starts, but I cut in.

"She—"

"About the fact that you think I sound like Emma, mostly."

Emma pouts at me. Her thumbs prod the screen, and I try to hide the sudden irrational feeling of fear as I watch the screen like a hawk. Emma's accidentally called people before. She's accidentally called the police before. She's intentionally called my ex before.

"I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that."

I make a grunt of frustration and try to finish my mouthful. Sonia has gone quiet, clearly listening.

"Sorry, I didn't quite-- Opening Photos."

I know for a fact I have no incriminating photographs, but the panic is there anyway. I swallow and bark,

"Emma, put that down!"

"Why? I want to see your girlfriend!"

"Sonia, lock."

"Phone locked."

"Sonia, unlock!" Emma mimics my stern tone.

"Phone unlocked. How are you feeling, Elaine?"

I screech in surprise, "Emma!"

"She's angry Sonia!"

"I'm horrified!"

"Horrified? What are you horrified about, Elaine?"

The little monster herself speaks in my stead, and I rise from my seat.

"That yooouuu think IIIIII sound like Emma!"

"You're going to confuse her, Emma! I don't want to have to reset her!"

"Sonia, reset!"

In the stopped heartbeat that Sonia does not respond, I snatch my phone from my sister's hands. I'm old enough to be her mother. We're mistaken as such all the time. Thanks to advances in fertilisation technologies, my 50-year-old mother is now struggling to understand why one child's childhood can be so vastly different from the other, especially considering that we're technically twins.

We were found in the same Petri dish, apparently with a gene that makes us both eager to take hold. Mum selected myself for birth, and the scientists, for want of a better word, put Emma on the back burner. My sister's hair is kept in a braid in a bid to make her childhood photographs markedly different from mine, but it's hard not to see her as my clone. I can see the beginnings of all my future in how she plays, with a bizarre sense of deja vu.

“Sonia, reset!” squeals my sister at my waist, giving me... That bizarre sense of deja vu.

"You can't just tell her to reset, it doesn't work like that!"

My mother emerges from the back garden, tying her hair back, revealing those flabs of tanned skin on her arms. She sees our haphazard state – me hoisting up Sonia in the air as Emma's hands flail past my chin - and tuts.

"You two and your phones. I remember back--"

"Back in the olden days, when phones were bricks and fire was witchcraft?" I ask as I return Sonia to my pocket. I wonder if Sonia will pick up on sarcasm soon, if not sooner than Emma will.

Mum huffs at me and steals my sandwich in response. Then, she drags out a kitchen chair and pats her youngest on the back, directing her.

"Emma, sit down."

Sonia bleeps in my back pocket.

She didn't quite catch that.

Emma bursts out laughing at first, and then my mother turns in shock as both the little eavesdropper and the little clone chime together: "How are you feeling, Elaine?"


Tanisha Catt recently surprised herself by graduating from the University of Strathclyde with a first class honours in Journalism, Creative Writing and English. Her strength can be found in proofreading and creating interactive fiction, while her weakness is battenberg cake.

 

Up Flenders Road

'In: one, two, three, four steps and out: one, two, three, four steps and Stop. Blocking the path is a herd of cows, their large, dirt encrusted bodies taking up more room than I would ever allow mine to. My breathing breaks free of control, gasping and grinding at my throat, desperate to regain some kind of normalcy.' (excerpt from Up Fender's Road' by Catherine McKinlay)

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Blackberrying

 
Photo by Evangeline Sellers

Photo by Evangeline Sellers

Alone in the fields,
it feels like a Sunday, as August days do -
solitude at its most sweet,
I lose myself
in methodically plucking
the berries, I watch them fall
into the bowl, a bright artificial green monster,
it does not fill up as fast as it should,
every sixth berry burst on my tongue, the taste inseparable
from the memory of hazy adolescent summers,
I wear the scratches, the purple hands as badges
of my existence outside of the city, for too long
I have been forgetting how to just be.


Evangeline Sellers is in her final year studying English and Creative Writing at University of Strathclyde. She says: 'My poem ‘Between’ was published in Issue 2 of Quotidian which was a lovely experience. In an attempt to be less of a cliché of a writer, I am letting my very outdoorsy younger brother teach me how to boulder. This is improving 1) how amusing I am to him & 2) my falling skills. In return, I have been making him read my poems. I think I got the better end of the deal.'

 

Dream

 
Photo by Melissa Reid

Photo by Melissa Reid

What is the correct definition of dream?
Circle one answer.

  1. An act of one’s subconscious mind – thoughts, images, and sensations that occur during sleep.

  2. An act of one’s conscious heart – the feeling that beats inside you while awake. It’s in the air that you breathe; in the corners of your smile; the spark in your chest; the tingle of your tummy. The silly clichés; the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the ready-made plans for tomorrow, for the weekend, for next year, and after that; after you’ve saved enough money to go here and there; to buy that car; to escape that minimum-wage job. It’s the light in your eyes when you think of that one thing that makes you feel alive: a job, a destination, a person. You’re ready for that honey-soaked sun; that place far away from here; for that person who doesn’t exist. You’re ready for the things you’ll do later, and the people you’ll meet after.

  3. Dreams slip through your fingers, like a balloon in the air; like silky water before it slivers from your hands and disappears down the drain. You wake up, rub the sleep out of your eyes, and you realise: Your heart and mind live inside you. My heart is not your heart. I paint words in the air, imagined, traced from your lips; poetry I wish you’d say; won’t you whisk me away - away from here. My mind is not your mind; it doesn’t matter. Just take me somewhere, anywhere. But you sew your lips together – and my dream turns into a nightmare.


Mikhaila Friel is in her third year at the University of Strathclyde, and is working towards a degree in English, Journalism & Creative Writing. She had her first poem published at the age of eleven, and has been publishing her work ever since. Last semester, she studied abroad at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where she took creative writing classes, particularly focusing on poetry. She likes to use the fictional world to make sense of the real world; she believes that in this life, the only weapon you need is a pen.

 

Little Storm

'I wash my little sister’s hair, / find peace in the way her dimpled hands clutch / a flannel to her face / as I rinse it through, / one palm on her forgetful forehead / I am reminded of my grandmother’s cool skin / on mine, as she did the same for me...' (excerpt from 'Little Storm' by Evangeline Sellers)

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Be Kind, Rewind

'if I could rewind, squish a pen / in the spokes, squash the / crooked tape back into a semblance / of its original shape and re-record - / let fresh sounds slide across / the cracked polyester - I would.' (excerpt from 'Be Kind Rewind' by Lori England)

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