archive - issue 18

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  • 10 Characters

    By Anton Krueger
    Nurse Marie Her lapel is a little faded and her lipstick slightly smudged in the corner of her mouth. “It’s an easy job,” she
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    • WRITING
  • A Cry for Help

    By Ross Fleming
    I come from a long line of great worriers. My earliest memory is of Father, the morning paper spread out before him, tearing his
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    • WRITING
  • A selection from a series of polaroids and paintings "We are Definitely Heroes" that calls into question our self-obsessed nature through the lens of
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    • AUDIOVISUAL
  • a perspective

    By Lucca Munnik
    she’s a contradiction:anxious yet fierce andchallenging yet sensitive. she carries emotions that she hides from people,but then bluntly spurts them out when it gets
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    • POETRY
  • A shortish life in 15 shortish paragraphs   1.       Birth From the start it was all hard work. Later her blue-eyed brothers and sisters made
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    • WRITING
  • All the World

    By Jeannie Wallace McKeown
    Hours spent dreaming herself a role in an infinite movie reel of lives; string theory says she’s living them; somewhere she moved to a
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    • POETRY
  • Commuting in Jozi

    By PALESA RAMEKOANE
    Coming from Polokwane, a small town in Limpopo, Johannesburg is a big city to me. It is a congested, confusing, concrete jungle compared to
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    • WRITING
  • Constellations

    By Caitlin Stobie
    For Ryan   We were meant to be characters: two queer geeks with a Tarot set.   Setting: the day of the velveteen stage,
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    • POETRY
  • de-identified

    By Kirsten Stolle
    de-identified examines the impact of facial recognition technology on individual privacy.  Using augmented portraits of 19th century women and an imagined narrative, de-identified explores how
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    • AUDIOVISUAL
  • do you

    By Anton Krueger
    do you also hold your breath in movies when a character’s drowning, to see if you can outlast them? do you also miss those
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    • POETRY
  • gogogo is in love

    By esethu esethu
    REMEMBERING HERE an excerpt from "A Long Story Short", an unpublished novella   It was not always as contaminated, the nature of the resentments
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    • WRITING
  • Hugh Hervey Walker

    By Molly Walker
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    • AUDIOVISUAL
  • I am very angry

    By James Chapangara Mugabe
     Part 1 - Introduction Please let me rant! I am angry, very angry! I am angry with you Comrades Ja! Ek is gatvol! Ini ndakadumbirwa
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    • POETRY
  • I doodled your name by force

    By Naggayi Lydia Sanyu
    I doodled your name by force. Yes please. I was not going to be that girl who'd pass through her teenage years without ever
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    • WRITING
  • It is

    By Kyle Allan
    It is.   It is a ball surrounded by lightning and the mercy of cosmic rays being hurled through space, again and again finding
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    • POETRY
  • Joseph: Starlin

    By Joseph Claassen
    Joseph: Starlin He rolls up on me while I’m whatsapping calls softly from the side to not scare meout here in the city’s dukderma man
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    • POETRY
  • Kinoti's Flower Bud

    By Michael Thuo
    A green writer is one in constant motion. This motion is in the state of mind: seeking ideas, inspiration and appealing to the yet
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    • WRITING
  • La femme obscur

    By Lunette Elle Warren
    She’s a natural brunette. She has an incurable case of Resting Bitch Face. She’s a poet. She’s a dirt road that stretches into the
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    • POETRY
  • 1.   I hid in the church after they left. Some of the stained glass had been broken, and the plain sunlight bled into
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    • WRITING
  • Meeting Kasiobi

    By Mariam Sule
    Few things have evoked my empathy like the evening I spent with a beautiful man named Kasiobi who has lost an ability that I
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    • WRITING
  • Mostly about a Beetle

    By Anthea Garman
    Ken’s red beetle 1963 – I am three years old. I pose against the beetle in the way I have seen my mother do. Fat
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    • WRITING
  • Mountain Heart

    By Maria Kjartans
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    • AUDIOVISUAL
  • My Grandmother's Name

    By Louella Sullivan
    In her 70s the rigid clack of a label maker stamped out her neat name to be stuck spirit-level straight on cupboards, Tupperware, biscuit
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    • POETRY
  • Nairobi Is A Quick Lover

    By Waiganjo Ndirangu
    First flash: a business-bright billboard smile; A suit far too neat for the jam on Jogoo Road; A suit too well knit, too well
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    • POETRY
  • There’s an old proverbial postulate that the commercial competitive market model seeks to create the best possible goods at the lowest possible prices (now,
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    • WRITING
  • Image Gallery Character resonating out hard into the environs: with physical manifestations in Heaven and Earth; for better or worse; meteorologically, geologically, technologically; synthesising
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    • AUDIOVISUAL
  • The Garden's Memory

    By Louella Sullivan
    A garden is harder than a marriage you can’t throw sex or wine at it to pacify the wilderness that threatens.   A garden
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    • POETRY
  • The Gathering

    By Emmanuel Uweru Okoh
      Now I ask... What do you see? Eyes with shades of variedness Eyes of diverse vision A hundred feet in this room A
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    • POETRY
  • The prisoner

    By Carla Chait
    The clink-clink of chains along the corridor of area 354 is indicative of the approach of a prisoner. A prisoner is approaching and I
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    • WRITING
  • The Running Man

    By Theodore Senene
    If you happened to be seated in the third coach of the 10 o'clock train heading west,  watching the luscious green countryside flash by,
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    • WRITING
  • By the time they reached one hundred kilometres outside Kamieskroon, on the way to Cape Town, the rhythmic tikketu-tikketu of train meeting track had
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    • WRITING
Friday, 09 September 2016 22:46

Listening at the edges

By 
1.

 

I hid in the church after they left. Some of the stained glass had been broken, and the plain sunlight bled into the coloured shapes around the pew.

The dust smelled like tired earth. I felt my body go limp, unwilling for the moment to obey me. I could see the church doors standing open, onto blinding sunlight.

I smiled to myself. No one knew what I knew. It wasn’t important for other people.

“What’s that Dunne? You’re ready to retire?”

I’m in an office. The sounds of typewriters fill our rooms.

 “Yes, on my way out! Hallelujah.” I am thirty-seven years old.

After work, I walk home along the marsh, to watch the ducks. One of them waddles up to say hello.

“Quack,” the duck says.

 “Yes, I know.”

 “Quack quack.”

 I give it some bread from my pocket. The church is still standing; along the same route; abandoned. I stand at the door. The priest is there too, a ghost, moving between the pews, muttering.

In my mind, I call out to him, and he turns, looking at me with his dead eyes. They looked like that when he was alive, too.

He smiles and I shut the church doors. But one hangs on a hinge, and I can feel the priest coming closer, through the wood. I stand there and wait, as I used to do as a boy, for him to approach.

He stands on the other side of the wood.

“What is it, priest?” I say.

 He wants something; me probably. But he doesn’t speak.

 “What is it?”

Only a low moaning. I go back to my apartment, put on my headphones, strap the rubber around my elbow and apply the needle to my arm.

Inside, the world awaits my feet.


2.


I was a recipient of thirty-two thousand dollars as part of a class action lawsuit against the Church, when I was thirty-three. I still have the money; I haven’t spent it.

I hardly told anyone, even when I had to leave work to testify.

 But that doesn’t matter. Nothing matters until I can figure out the other . . .

I’m a sick man! Not really. But like I was sick. It’s not sickness, but something like it. Something unpleasant, like a curse.

I’m cursed. That’s what it is. And it’s okay, to be cursed. Like an old friend, who won’t leave. Who moves in with you, against your will, and then dies. And then still doesn’t leave.

Haunted. Yes.

I allow myself one grain of heroin a week. The money I am saving. I could move to Florida. Madagascar. I could kill a priest.

No, I forgive them. I forgave them then, too. What do they have to do with me? They don’t know anything.

None of them do. They don’t know what ghosts are. There is no afterlife; it’s this life. They’re right here; but I don’t know where they come from.

3.

It’s the weekend and I make coffee. Susanne has been coming around more often lately; I don’t really know why. We don’t even sleep together. But she keeps coming by. I let her sleep on the couch. She doesn’t seem to mind. It’s like we’re married, but I’ve never been married. Probably it’s not like that. It’s not like anything.

“What are you doing today?” she says.

“Nothing.”

“Come with me to the park.”

“All right.”

She works for an old woman who lives by the library; she reads books to her, and cooks. She’s my age but she looks older. She was born in France. I think she’s crazy. (That’s why I like her).

We sit on the bench. I don’t see any birds. It’s hot. Susanne sighs.

“It’s hot,” I say.

“Are you too hot?” she asks.

“No, it’s nice.”

 

- -

 

I cook her supper. We watch television. She kisses me on the cheek and leaves; back to her house.

My telephone is ringing.

“Yes?”

“It’s Father Martin.”

“Hello Father.”

“Would you come by?”

“Now, father?”

“Are you busy?”

“No.”

“We need your help.”

“I’ll come.”

- - 

Father Hughes is old. But he has a youthful smile. The new church is not as pretty as the old one. But then, this one is technically not a church. Even though it’s still occupied by priests. They call it a recovery clinic. It’s a sort of prison, really. They’re all fitted with tags.

“Father, hi.”

 “Martin.” He embraces me, and I let him.

 "What’s bothering you, Father?”

 He points up at the ceiling. The fluorescent light is flickering.

 “I can take care of that for you. Do you have a tube?”

 He points to the corner.

 “Take me five minutes. Hold the ladder, will you?”

  The light makes its light noises, blinking on and off, talking to itself.

 I take hold of the tube, and rotate it, to get it out of the housing.

 “That’s it Martin!” Father Hughes shouts up.

The thing about cylinders is they have a very precise geometry. It’s the same shape science fiction writers have suggested we could travel to the stars inside of. You get a lot of area, and pressure is spread out over the surface. Its curve is like stars too: curves are strong.

I make to toss the thing down to him and he grins a fake laugh. I go down the ladder and get the replacement.

“See anything up there?” Father Hughes asks.

“Only your ceiling.”

“I thought you might have seen something else.”

“I think the wiring is shot; it’s frying these bad boys too fast. You should call the council.”

“Don’t want to deal with them. You fix it, Martin.”

“Can’t. Not my specialty. I’ll call them, if you want.”

 “No, it’s no trouble.”

I put the new cylinder in and it blinks to life. I see Mirabelle’s face inside of the tube. She’s moving down the hallway. Like she’s dead. Well, she is dead. Like she’s going towards the light of heaven.

“Mirabelle!”

“What’s that Martin?”

She turns to look at me, inside the glass. Her eyes are dead too, like Father Hughes. I look away, and descend the ladder.

“I have to go Father. It’s late.”

“Martin, take me for a walk, won’t you? Just around the grounds. I’m allowed to go when I’m with someone.”

I step outside with him and we go around the church—well, the compound. The gardens are happy. Priests seem to understand gardens.

Mirabelle was wearing blue. She always liked that color.

“Do you remember Mirabelle, Father?”

“Of course. Such a sweet girl. Things were different then. A smart girl like that could go far. I don’t know about now.”

“They still can, Father. Half the government is women now.”

“That’s what I mean. Caught up in the same game. No time for anything else!”

“Do you still have her blue dress?”

I’d seen it in his closet.

“Oh, uhh, yes, it happens I do. Keeping it, you know. Did you want it?”

“Show it to me.”

We go back inside the church—the compound—and go back into the vestibule.

“Really, it’s yours if you want it, Martin. She was your friend.”

“Yes, I think I do want it.”

“She was a very special girl,” he says, opening his wardrobe and handing me the small dress.

I slap him in the face and take the dress from his hands.

Behind the apartments I squirt it with lighter fluid and set it aflame.

4.

Cylinders are also powerful musical instruments in the form of water glasses. The physics aren’t complicated; the finger vibrates the glass through friction, generating sounds waves.

But its eerie song for me has never been as easily explained. I think of it like the music of the spheres, which Shakespearean England believed was the sound the translunar stars made, in their perfect distance.

My friend Tom and I play the water glasses together and make recordings. I have over three hundred glasses of various shapes and sizes. We fill them with water, turn on the recorder, and play.

I wasn’t lying when I told my workmates I will retire soon. The government has seen fit to reward me with a house for my services. It’s like the sound waves: just a kind of deep listening.

Tom and I make love and afterwards I go down to the compound and stack the wood against the walls and set it afire.

I’ve decided to spend some of the money after all; I’m going to Madagascar. When I return, all can be settled.

On the plane, I hold the water glass music in my earphones, stringing me out over the thousands of miles over the water.

Maybe I’ll even give up the heroin. I should.

5.

It was Tom threw the stone that time, when we were found out, through the top window, and they’d gone out to see who it was.

It didn’t matter then, of course. Or not to anyone but me.

Why did it take us so long to see? I still don’t really understand it.

But in a way I do: love is so mysterious. It covers a great deal, in its arms.

Susanne is moving in too, to the new house, along with Tom. I have started a garden; I think I am a priest that way.

Tonight is a full moon. We sit out around the fire.

“Father Martin killed himself,” Tom says.

“That’s a shame.”

“Hanged himself in the rectory.”

“It’s not a rectory, it’s a prison.”

“Hanged himself in prison.”

“Did he leave a note?”

“They didn’t find one.”

He takes a piece of paper and out his pocket and hands it to me, folded into a square. I don’t open it, but toss it into the flames.

Fire was one of the four primary elements, for the ancients. I’m not sure we’ve come very far since then. Fire the purifier.

“Tom, if you were a Viking, would you have been buried at sea, on a burning boat?”

“Oh yes, definitely.”

It comes over me, rage so quiet it's like a fluid; like air, smooth low pressure over the ears and hair and back, a motionless wind. Rage so quiet it's like a secret frequency, tuned to the chest, looking for knowledge inside my bones.

I put my arms around my people and we stare into the fire, waiting for permission to know all that we will need.

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