E.F. Hay – Fiction

Mr. Boris  

It’s no mean feat, borderline miraculous, successfully discerning misleading characteristics from non-stop fake news, pumped 24/7 from schneid media outlets, 99% of which are owned & orchestrated by the 1% (on top of fulfilling commitments to loved ones, employers, or multiple legal obligations to antagonists persistently compromising social liberties). Striving to remain strong, stable, calm & rational, during today’s turbulent, impulsive, neo-mythopoeic times, people of moral fibre resist temptations to dutifully follow Tory subterfuge mugging informers into shopping neighbours to paramilitary government forces. In a spirit of good-fellowship some prefer cultivating beneficial, egalitarian, green shoots of communal recovery: forming sound cooperative friendships, based on common understanding. A few doughty citizens organise disintermdiated media funds, providing unlicensed public services (deciphering alarming, divisive, neoliberal spin); if unavailable in English Braille, certainly legible online for fully, or partially sighted, un-benighted same language readers (unofficial ideological deprogramming therapy). Independent, critical thinking, offers insights into various factors spawning growing concern over a global cluster-fuck that’s Anglo-American exceptionalism. Well-worn, spatchcocked fairytales, deeply rooted in jackanory Judaeo-Christian patriarchal hierarchies, evidenced by trumpeted, patriotic herd mentalities, observable in agitprop; crudely encouraged via disinformation channels controlled by entrenched plutocratic élites: poisonous, forlorn, easy-to-follow, perfidious tribal mantras, promoting angry xenophobia, washed down by happy-clapping, bleach drinking, self-harmers. 

Jarred by hazardous climate change, pandemics, trade wars, isolationism, a dilution of faith in our worlds reserve fiat currency- Albion, clinging onto the Gulf Stream for dear life, outsources its credence, & bejewelled sceptre, to opportunistic handling by a blonde mopped conman (whose calloused mitts are more accustomed to fingering piglets, while slowly releasing his own, gross, irresponsible, un-husbanded, stinking life fluids, seeping through crooked, fidgety fingers, into blocked, figurative gutters). Barked on by a farrago of cross-market rentiers, index-lined, pensionable Boomers; voted for in culpable silence by a greatest, blue-rinsed racist, generation- subjects of falsehood, consuming tropical luxuries as if necessary birthrights. Little England, indulging in comforting rewards from leisure & retail industries; guilty of complicity in systems of international exploitation of the less privileged, hell-bent on ignoring that complicity, & unwilling to change its inherently exploitative lifestyle, or to vacate shady positions of relative privilege- rather, figure-headed by an Old Etonian Bullingdon Clubber, that electoral majority blames anyone & everyone else as part of a cathartic, trademark moral crusade, ofcrassself-forgiveness. Boris, their pussy grabbing leader, lurching from one policy cock-up to another with adolescent gusto, refusing to grow-up, or assume responsibility, instead punishing others by criminally neglecting basic needs: all guilt & retribution is instead poured down upon infidels. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is truly on an anarchic mission to fuck the planet in its ass, without exhibiting the goddamned common courtesy to give it a reach-around. 

Inspired by financial instruments (exerted penetratingly into lives of those too dim to recognise, or resist reversible morality) & tactical extracts from the ancient Levantine ‘Book of Boris’ – that’s the fourth synoptic gospel, the only one in which the character of Jesus of Nazarethfails to make an appearance. He wouldn’t have felt comfortable there. It loyally tells of the life & ministry of Mr. Boris, a questionable messiah, whose frank enjoyment of divine privilege is exceeded only by persistent attempts to evade all responsibility for said enjoyment (its consequences, & anything else for that matter). Like Jesus, whose life Mr Boris’ parallels & parodies, He was born in a Bethlehem stable, issue of a mystical union between the Holy Spirit & a St Bernard. Half-man, half-god, half-dog, half-biscuit, His childhood is conveniently unrecorded, His teaching beginning only after a gruelling 40-day drinking session, at the end of which Beelzebub came forth to him in the form of a horned ham-beigal, whichMrBorispromptly ate. Thus fortified, He took up the career of travelling preacher, gathering around himself a coterie of disciples lured by promises of ‘everything all the time’, a goal he attempted to attain by (a) masturbating until a nearness to God was observed, & (b) spinning around as quickly as possible. In the first instance his apostles experienced nothing more than sore willies, while in the second only sensations of dizziness, nausea, & acute futility. Thereupon His communion questioned Him regarding his credentials, & requested the return of monies advanced. Repeatedly throughout the text, Mr Boris’s appetite for violence & treachery is chronicled, reaching ever higher pinnacles of madness & insight. Yet there were those amongst His flock who followed in His footsteps whatever banal/painful fate awaited them. When Mr Boris changed water into methyl alcohol, there were those who held out their bowls for more: blind faith indeed. Unlike Jesus,Mr Boris’s story ends not in His crucifixion, but rather the crucifixion of the last of his entourage, too crazed or stupid to see what was coming down. Mr Boris, it seems, saw no need to die for the ugly sins of the world; quite the reverse. In contemporary posh British ‘thought’, Mr Boris presents a provocative & deeply ambiguous figure. To Melvyn Bragg He “stands at a crucial junction in Western history, the point at which the inchoate ‘I’ becomes the complex ‘me’’’ but then Melvyn Braggs asmug tedious git, who’ll be one of the first chivvied up the scaffold with electric cattle goads come the day of retribution. The ‘Boris’s’ don’t simply seek to judge: their primary concern’s not with truth, but propaganda, the massing of sound, the therapeutic use of paranoia. Mr Boris is, for his fey flock, nothing more than the ferocious beat of pastoral nihilism drumming through a culture of sedated panic, in which the atomising of individuals, in the name of The Individual, proceeds apace. Reflecting upon a friable Book of Boris teaches us that contemporary Conservative principles are inveterately cannibalistic; its body politic usurped by Cummings- marshalling unruly supportive throngs of bloated venomous egos, basically crowned by tiny, slippery, reptilian minds.

🍃

E F Hay exists in Britain, & rather than follow spurious leaders- over the years, has intermittently found it therapeutic to write out various thoughts, feelings & ideas as short stories, so as to be examined, considered, & interpreted by clinical practitioners, who may offer professional psychological assistance.

Mickey J. Corrigan – 1 poem

A Brief History of Me and You

A harsh sun, bare sky, dust.

We began when you opened
your small blue eyes
and I was already there
several cities south of you
russet and fidgety, all
alone in my babylife.

You had moving to do
and tropical heat
sand and swimming pools
a small boat, the rough sea.
Reading was difficult
trouble came in with the tides.

My house was icy
cold watered, too full
of sick, surgical incisions
children trembling with rage
the sadness that stays
in downturned eyes.

When darkness fell
I read my way out.

We hid under our desks
during the Cold War,
failed spelling tests
when JFK was shot,
got fast food jobs while
men shot off to the moon.
We did weed with boys
sex with strangers
we weren’t supposed to
talk to. Trigger warnings
had not been invented.

Somehow we survived.

You snorted, tripped.
I drank, fell down.
You quit, I kept running
to cross the finish line
away from my past.
I thought I saw you
playing drums in Harvard Square.
You dreamed my long hair
in your mouth
and you kissed it.

We met, you left.
We met, you stayed.
You left and I followed
against all sage advice
to the tropics again

where we fought in the dank
wine and cheese nights.
The baby died, we separated
survived a hurricane
married in Key West
homebirthed a child.
We lived so close, never met.

You died alone
in the apartment your father left you.
I stayed in my father’s house
thinning victim
of the childhood
he denied me.

And the blood moon comes
three more times
before this too will end,
the days we have left
to start over again
eclipsed by this sad, sad earth.

🍃

Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes Florida noir with a dark humor. Novels include Project XX about a school shooting (Salt Publishing, UK, 2017) and What I Did for Love, a spoof of Lolita (Bloodhound Books, 2019). Kelsay Books recently published the poetry chapbook the disappearing self

Barbara Daniels – 2 poems

Blind Girl Dancing

Who scrapes a finger across
the window screen? Who breathes there?
I eat through a maze of mistakes,

mouth askew, chewing an egg that burst
in its broth so it’s nothing but string.
The cat licks its fastidious fists.

No one’s here. No one traced me,
the radio on, a baseball game.
No one waits in the tall grass

or wheeling sky. Laughter, yes,
there’s laughter down the road where
the new people live, blind girl

announced by a sign at my corner.
I must be more watchful. The new
neighbors smoke and sing. They

dance a bit as they rake and paint,
scrub and plant, their laughing like
notes on a xylophone—melody

and explosion. Living is neither
an art nor a craft or is it?
I thrash and gasp like a dog

with a dream. I want to go back
to an ironing board, that just singed
smell of a starched white shirt,

its size and importance, hot cotton
scorching my fingers. I want to laugh
till I cry for the dead, the long absent,

still kneeling dead. The street falls
open, clouds as they build
and move quietly watching.

🍃

Warren Grove

I drive down side roads
to pines wrinkled like brains.
Years from now, needles

the pines drop today will give up
their slenderness and turn
into dust. My doctor says

it’s a sign when people love
trees, maybe depression,
some deficiency. At the edge

of the grove, trees fell heavily,
some of them bringing
each other down. I have

my kingdom—browned
grasses, emptied saplings
bending like whirligigs

in wind. My hand doesn’t
know what it wants anymore.
Pine cones? A walking stick?

Trees guard hills pocked
with cellar holes. Night starts
flooding the blackjack oaks.

🍃

Barbara Daniels’s Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Lake Effect, Cleaver, Faultline, Small Orange, Meridian, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

James Thurgood – 2 poems

Hurt again

            

My back this time

            

not saving a child from a rushing train

     not street-fighting a pimp

     not even wrestling a grizzly

            

          no:  making the bed

when all of a sudden

            

     what I fear re: age

– not bent with pain

     supping on poorhouse gruel

     – but gruel, pain

     and no story to tell.

🍃

            

There’s got to be a reason

            

Home alone when the phone rings:

guy asks if I’m me and I am

and he’s him, do I know him

– no, he doesn’t know me either

but found a piece of paper

with my name and phone number

in his wallet

            

he pauses pregnant

and I can’t leave him hanging

like that so I say oh

            

yeah so I was wondering

how come I got this piece of paper

with your name and number in my wallet

            

pause

            

I don’t know (see above)       

                   

well there must be some reason –

I mean it’s your name and number

in my wallet

            

yeah I don’t know

            

like were we somewhere

at some place and you gave me

your name and number

            

I can’t recall

            

’cause it’s your name and number

so what’s it doing in my wallet

            

that’s a tough one

well like what are you into

what am I into

yeah well like what are you into y’know like

well I play music

oh!  I play banjo and guitar, Bluegrass –

what do you play

some guitar some harp

well are you any good

nothing special

l mean do you do gigs and stuff

sometimes

oh – we should get together

and jam

yeah sure

maybe next week some time

            

I write his name and number

on a scrap of paper for some reason

and stick it in my wallet.

🍃

            

James Thurgood was born in Nova Scotia, grew up in Windsor, Ontario, and now lives in Calgary, Alberta.  He has been a labourer, musician, and teacher – not necessarily in that order. His poems have appeared in various journals (most recently, Broadkill Review, Umbrella Factory, Quatrain Fish), anthologies, and in a collection (Icemen/Stoneghosts, Penumbra Press).  He is also the author of His Own Misfortune, a work-in-progress. (thurgoodwordsalad.blogspot.com/)

Meg Smith – 1 poem

The Key in the Letter

            

Your last invitation arrives,

in a woman’s script.

‘Thank you for giving him up,”

reads as a signature, 

or a ransom note without names. 

You demanded a burial, 

but it was poorly done.

The door will no longer open, 

the words will no longer sing.

No dust beings will follow.

🍃

            

Meg Smith is a writer, journalist, dancer and events producer living in Lowell, Mass.

Her poetry and fiction have appeared recently in The Cafe Review, Poetry Bay, The Horror Zine, Bewildering Stories, Dark Dossier, Raven Cage, and many more.

Recent anthology appearances include Atlantic Currents: Connecting Cork and Lowell, published by Loom Press.

She is a first-generation Irish-American, often inspired by her Irish and Boston-Irish culture, and travels to Ireland — as well as her travels to Europe, Egypt, Turkey, Puerto Rico and around the U.S.

She is the author of five poetry books. Her first short fiction collection, The Plague Confessor, is due out in fall 2020 from Emu Books. She welcomes visits to megsmithwriter.com.