Letter from the Editor

Dear Readers, Contributors and Passers By,

Firstly, I wish to extend my love and thanks to Lewis Spurgin, Alasdair Kay, Simon George,  Jessica Patient, Ryan Watts, James Russell, Amy Wragg, Liz Bentley, Carmina Masoliver, John Carrington, Sam Clodd,  Matthew Hamblion, Tensei Sugahara, Lisa Farrell, Rachel Charman, Ray Morgan, Rebecca Ford, Mark Lander, Barnaby Tidman, and all the musicians and artists that performed at our events.

When Sleepy Orange began in 2006 it was the realisation of an idea that I’d had since I was 18.  It suddenly descended into a whirlwind of activity; it was.  Like all things it burst outwards, settled a little and finally slowed.  We did some amazing things, some of my fondest memories from those years are to do with what Sleepy Orange did and achieved.

Like most ideas of this sort though, it takes an immense amount of time and people power to really make these things work.  Personal circumstances changed and with that so to did the time I could spend on SO.  Things I wanted to do just could not happen.

I am immensely proud of the work that has been published on these pages and I always will be.  That is why when I started to think about what to do with SO ultimately I knew I did not want to confine it to the big binary graveyard.

It will take time and it will take people power but SO is going to remain.  It will be different – it will exist only in magazine format, but it will continue to be multi-disciplinary and it will showcase the best of original thought and creativity that this fair isle has to impress.  And sometimes from a bit further a field too.

If you would like to be involved (or continue to be involved) please email editor@sleepyorange.org.uk.  We need writers, photographers and graphic designers and the other important people in between.  And we need ideas.

We may be small, but I will always believe that we are significant,

Love Katie xx

“When, Now?” by Alex Thornber

“I’m sorry, who now?” she said down the phone. Her husband sat right beside her. “Oh, I see… and that’s…okay.”

She hung up the phone and waited a few moments.

“I’ve got to go to the office.” She said

“When, now?” asked her husband, checking the time on the TV.

“Yes, it’s a…uh, a conference call with, uh, Australia!” she accidentally shouted, having decided on somewhere plausible.

“Oh, okay.”

“I hopefully won’t be long, just a quickie.”

“I love you.” He said as she got up and headed for the door.

“You too.” She said.

He waited for the sound of her car to fade away and then picked up the phone. After two rings a woman picked up.

“I hoped you’d call tonight.” She said.

“Me too, she’s gone out. Can I come over?”

“When, now?”

“Yeah, right now.”

Beard vs Shark (…or, An Interview with Chris Bachelder)

“Given a relatively level playing field – i.e. water deep enough so that a shark could manoeuvre proficiently but shallow enough so that a bear could stand and operate with its characteristic dexterity – who would win in a fight between a bear and a shark?”

You’d be surprised at the number of articles that start with those words. Google will come up with between 6 and 1,440 identical matches, depending on how many hyphens or commas you put in. Chris Bachelder’s 2001 novel “Bear Vs Shark” leaves the question unanswered, though there are plenty of opinions out there. This wasn’t a question I levelled at Chris either (though if you do a quick search you find that Chris has stated his opinion previously and emphatically as shark). There is, of course, no conclusive answer.  Yet.  In the book he describes the question as one that people respond to instinctively, on a gut level, and then they come up with reasons to justify it. Similarly, it seems likely that (were there ever to be a contest like this) whoever lost would have a hundred reasons why the playing field wasn’t level – the water not deep enough/too deep, the bear’s head not large enough etc etc. I have read this novel several times over the years and always found something new with each reading. Most notably, I loved the book before I became a father, yet parenthood brought a new dynamic to the relationships between the father and his family, one that I found particularly poignant. At the time of writing Chris had no children of his own, though now he is married with a family.

Bear vs Shark centres around a nuclear family who win access to a televised event to beat all others – the contest of the novel’s title – and everyone in the country has an opinion on who will win. Bearing in mind that this novel was written before Big Brother and reality TV really took an obsessive hold on the media, did Chris see this coming? “Bear v. Shark was my first novel.  I didn’t have a very good idea of what I was doing, but I was having fun, writing with energy and pleasure.  I see it now as undisciplined, but I can appreciate the exuberance.  The point is, I was just trying to write a book, be funny, make fun of my ridiculous country.  I wasn’t really thinking in terms of predicting the future, or foreseeing media trends.  It was supposed to be absurd, outlandish.  It was, however, not as outlandish as I had imagined.  I think if I had foreseen the changes you mention, I would not have written the book.  Why write a futuristic book that sees only about three months into the future?  These reality shows are trashy but they are wildly entertaining.  I hate them and I like them.  That’s the way I feel about much of American culture—intellectually I can’t stand it, and yet I feel myself drawn toward it.  That’s a bit of what the book is about.  A bear fighting a shark is stupid, and yet it’s kind of fun to think about.  I suppose I’m making fun of it while also trying to get readers interested in it.”

The novel was an amazing debut for the author, and perhaps would have captured more attention had it not have been released just days after one of the biggest tragedies of this century. 9/11 changed the attitude of America, and whilst the mildly cynical future that Bachelder created aptly recreates the 90’s as well as projecting a surprisingly possible future, it doesn’t preach the togetherness that followed 9/11 and pulled America in a single direction. Since then, however, it came through as a sleeper hit and, along with Bachelder’s free-to-download “career progression” novel “Lessons in Virtual Reality Photography”, it has ensured an interesting career on the fringes of literature as art. Both books were, for me, unique masterpieces. I also found myself very glad that my own novel was already complete at that time, so that I couldn’t be influenced by Bachelder’s “Lessons…”, which is the only other book I have ever seen written entirely second person. Reading more like an instruction manual, the novel directs how the lead character should get back with an ex-girlfriend, get a new career as a virtual reality tour photographer (“no, it’s not filmed”) and then how he should make it all go wrong. The story is laconic and laid back, whilst the style elevates it to something unique.  On describing making the novel free-to-download and whether this paid off, Chris says “The decision was entirely practical.  I had no luck publishing the book as a regular book.  McSweeney’s offered to do it as an e-book, and I thought it sounded like a good idea.  I had worked hard on the novel and it was a way for me to get it out there to readers—probably more readers than I would have reached with a regular book.  We had fun designing it, and I was happy the way it turned out.  The decision did not “pay off” literally because the book is free and nobody made a dime.  But it certainly was worth it to me to have the book available, and I’m glad we didn’t charge money for it.  Also, given the technological premise of the novel, the e-book form seemed like a natural fit.”  McSweeney’s is a major force in introducing new and talented writers. By 2004, 45,000 people had downloaded the novel from the McSweeney’s site, far more people than required to buy a paperback in order to get it to number one in the book charts.

Chris Bachelder is not, however, a career writer. This seems to be true for many writers now, when getting published, or even representation, is a lottery. He currently teaches fiction workshops for the next generation of writers in the MFA Program for Poets & Writers

MFA Program for Poets & Writers

The MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a graduate creative writing program.-History:The MFA Program for Poets & Writers was founded in the 1960s by poet Joseph Langland and is part of the English Department at the University of Massachusetts…
at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This puts him in a prime position to see the calibre and direction of new writing and to offer guidance to aspiring writers in the UK. Teaching writing also keeps him in close contact with the next generation of authors and the current state of fiction and literature in general. So should we be worried that it’s so hard to get published, and how will the market fare with so many celebrity autobiographies hitting the shelves and so much fiction never seeing print? Is this a downturn in the whole field? “My students are extraordinarily talented.  I am consistently amazed at the quality of work they produce.  So based on my students, as well as on many fine younger writers who are publishing, it seems to me that literature is doing just fine.  It’s thriving, in fact, though of course nobody reads it.  But the work I see is so diverse that it would be impossible to predict some kind of trend or movement.  Our writing program does not have a distinct aesthetic.  We just want good writers, and we get them.  When they come, they write all kinds of things, and the only thing it all has in common is its quality.” And when he is not reading new unpublished fiction?  “When I was younger, I had my small shelf of favourites and influences.  I used to read a lot of so-called experimental work, and I used to read almost exclusively contemporary fiction.  As I get older and as I think about my reading in terms of my teaching, I find that my tastes are much broader.  I recently taught a course on the short story in which we read a total of 158 stories by Hawthorne, Chekhov, Cheever, and Carver.  That was very exciting for me.“

The opportunity to learn from an author such as Chris Bachelder is something special. The advice he is most frequently gives is “I think it’s important for young writers to learn how to read like a writer, with an awareness of craft and technique.  I think it’s important to learn how to pay close attention, how to look at something.  And I think it’s important to learn how to get lost in a story so that surprise is possible.”

Bachelder was born in 1971 in Minneapolis, Minnesota in a post-60’s America, and spent his growing years in small town Christiansburg, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Christiansburg has a population of about 17,500 and has 39 churches (various Western/Christian-based denominations), which is roughly one church for every 450 people. There is a sense of displaced community about his books and the interactions between people give a sharp sense about people who are pushed to operate outside the normal boundaries of social interactions.

Bachelder’s most recently published novel focuses on the late author Upton Sinclair, a huge figure in America’s socialist history and someone I had never heard of until Bachelder’s book. Since that moment, however, I’ve heard of him frequently, most recently as the author of the novel “Oil!” that became “There Will Be Blood”. I have to admit though, I don’t really get the appeal. In a largely westernised world, and a largely Americanised England, you kind of expect to “get” cultural references when they cross the Atlantic so I’m always a little stumped by those that don’t resonate. Chris explains to me the importance of Sinclair in US culture. “Sinclair was a Socialist crusader and an unabashedly political novelist of the early twentieth century.  He was prolific, determined, idealistic, stubborn, principled, vain, and egomaniacal.  He thought he could change the world through his fiction, and he tried to do it.  He wrote with purpose, and he had no patience for the merely beautiful or elegant.  Today we call him a bad writer, and we regard his books as propaganda, not art.  He represents a kind of American writer that is extinct.

Sinclair allowed me to explore issues of political art that I find urgent and vexing.  I wanted to engage the world.  I wanted to make some small whimper as the ship goes down.  The question is, How to be political and still be an artist?  Sinclair did it poorly, crudely, and yet I admire his passion and his conviction.  His way is perhaps not the best way, but the alternative can’t be to ignore the political.  I have a tremendous ambivalence toward Sinclair—I admire him and I find him exasperating.  This ambivalence proved to be fruitful in terms of writing the novel.  It’s good to work from confusion (as Sinclair never did).  I bring him back to life as a way to resurrect the political novel, or to resurrect a discussion about the political novel.  And I bring him back as a way to suggest that the revolutionary spirit, while diminished to nearly nothing, cannot be eradicated completely.  And the idea of his resurrection—his refusal to die—fits well with his personality.  In his life he refused to be dismissed, he kept coming back for more bad reviews and abuse.  Sinclair was a specific way for me to explore abstract ideas, and I worked hard to make him a flesh-and-blood character as well.”

Throughout Chris’s work there is a real sense of the absurd but also a biting satire, whether intentional or not. “Perhaps I am a kind of gloomy clown.  I don’t go around guffawing.  I tend to be pretty moody and frightened of global collapse.  I’m interested in the comic as a writer, but that’s a craft, it’s technical.  It’s work.  My wife and my daughters make me laugh.  I laugh occasionally in the classes I teach, among my students.  I laugh at readings, in a crowd of people laughing.  When I read very funny fiction or watch funny television, I don’t tend to laugh.  I tend to nod my head and say, “That’s very funny.””

His next book brings him, perhaps, a little more close to home and with slightly less surreality to it. “I have a book coming out in early 2011.  It’s domestic and fairly plotless and non-satirical.  I suppose it’s interested, broadly speaking, in contemporary fatherhood and marriage.  But it’s also interested in the question of how much of the world’s trouble is my business and my responsibility.  With the internet, we can see all the world’s problems, but we can’t do a thing about them.  Feeling terrible about it doesn’t help (and it often makes you a bad spouse and father), but ignoring it can’t be correct, either.  My main character is a guy who makes himself click on those terrible headlines about disasters and accidents and suffering.  He has trouble enjoying his life.  He thinks too much.“

And yet, to me, this in itself seems satirical. With recent and impending global political changes comes a greater awareness of the need for a common good and awareness of how our actions affect others.

The basics start at home, within our own lives, so I asked Chris simply what his daily routine would involve. “I have two young daughters, so my routines are domestic and child-related.  My wife is also a writer, and we’ve worked out our days so that we’ll each have some time to work (either on writing or teaching) and to get some exercise.  I have a pretty simple life—I read, write, teach, and spend time with my family.  I don’t crave a more complicated or exciting existence.”

To me, this seems like a Utopian balance he is achieving and I don’t doubt that many would aspire to create that kind of purity in their life, and wish him a long and happy life to enjoy it. From these seeds may grow mighty oaks.  I finally ask Chris is there is any question he would like to have been asked, and he responds:

Q [from the end of Donald Barthelme’s story “Porcupines at the University”]:  Are porcupines wonderful?  Are they what I need?

A:  Yes.

Words: Alasdair Kay

Taking Over Election Reporting: A Guide For Community Bloggers

This wasn’t the first election I have voted in, but it was the first election in which I was reporting on the day as it unfolded. My site, Councilbust.com, is an independent politics site for Southend, and this year I wanted to broadcast all the events as they happened.

I wanted to create on a local level the same hype and intrigue that the BBC creates around Westminster, because I believe that this stuff really matters. I also recognise that the switch from newspapers to websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter is changing the way we read about and discuss politics, and I welcome the democratisation of political reporting and debate. Increasingly people are staying up all night, glued to their TV screen or their computer, watching the polls, reading the live updates and checking out the mood on social networking sites, and I see the need for that on a local level. It isn’t difficult to set up a blog or website for free and report on what happens on election day in real time, rather than simply publishing one article in the local paper the next day.

People tend to dismiss local politics as unimportant, boring, too complicated and not really having an impact. The whole point of Councilbust is to reverse that view. Yes, our local MPs ultimately do rather more exciting things like going to Westminster and working with George Osbourne on the Tories’ budget plans. Our local candidates, however, make most of the changes that affect our every day lives, and I want people to understand that. There was a startling unawareness in the people I spoke to of the different roles of the representatives they were electing. Many believed that the MPs had something to do with the Council. They do not. Many believed that the Council is a Labour council because we have a Labour government. We do not. We have a Conservative council, which makes decisions independently some of the time, but other times, must deliver services based on orders and funding from central government. Many did not know the difference between their MP and their local councillor, or understand that the ward they live in is not their constituency. They simply placed their cross in the box ideologically, without thinking about the local and national implications for their choices.

My first every day of election coverage was a learning experience, and I thought I’d put together my experiences in a little guide for anyone thinking of setting up a local politics site themselves. So here goes:

1) Stout shoes

Covering an election is like fighting in Vietnam, but with less jungle. Take care of your feet and the rest will take care of itself. On Election Day, I traveled eighteen miles around town, by car, by bus, and mostly on foot, chasing candidates around to film them as they knocked on doors to squeeze out those last minute votes. I chose a pair of terribly trendy Converse for the day. Needless to say, it didn’t go well.

2) Connections

The general formula for candidates, both council and Parliamentary, is that the more likely they are to win, the less likely they are to talk to journalists. For that reason, you need to schmooze them way before election fever sets in. I spent hours trying to nab our Conservative candidate for Rochford and Southend East, only to be told by his PAs, many hours later, that he was far too busy to be filmed on the campaign trail. Having built up good relationships with the rest of the candidates, it was easier to give them a quick call, track them down, and grab a two-minute video interview.

3) Take a friend

In the run-up to this election, I made friends as well as enemies. I really did upset the UKIP candidate for Southend West by publishing his comments on gay equality and equality law, and as a result, there was no chance of getting a picture later on in the bar at the count. Fortunately a fellow blogger-come-journalist had brought with him a freelance photographer who nobody would recognise, and he came in very handy indeed.

4)  Be brave

I came away from this election disappointed in myself for not talking to the BNP candidates at the count when I had the chance. In all likelihood they would probably have refused a photo, an interview or even a comment for me, due to a report I published in the week of the election about one candidate’s offensive Facebook profile. The real reason I didn’t approach them, I’m ashamed to admit, is that I was scared of them. In the bar upstairs at the count, a crowd of BNP candidates were standing at the bar, slamming down pints like no tomorrow. They were all big, shaven-headed men, many in leather jackets, and many with backgrounds in security, the armed forces, crime or violent demonstrations. They did not mingle with candidates from other parties or count officials, and tapping one of them on the shoulder, breaking their circle and introducing myself felt like the most terrifying thing in the world. In reality, we were in a crowded bar that was swarming with police officers and surrounded by other people, so violence was unlikely, but I still bottled it.

My advice on this one would be to speak to your local authority’s press team, who will be at the count, and ask for an escort from that team or even the police if you are worried about your safety when approaching far-right candidates.

5) Enjoy the banter

Up in the press gallery the mood was distinctly jovial. There was no wifi access in the building, so everyone was working from laptops with Internet dongles. Dongle jokes all round. We all knew we would be stuck there until at least 2am and so there was a concerted effort to enjoy it. Games such as “spot the councillor who looks most worried” and “who can do the best Tory Boy Face” kept us going late into the night. Joining in this kind of banter is essential for making contacts that might come in handy at a later date, so do your best to at least chat.

6) Do your homework

A nice local authority media team will prepare a little folder for you with all of the information about the candidates standing in the elections, to help you record your results properly, but this isn’t a given. Additionally, it’s not the results that are the most interesting part; it’s who has lost, by how much, and why that really gets people reading, and for that you need background information. Find out which are the risky seats in your local area, and where each party has been concentrating its efforts. You’ll need the figures from the last elections to do that, as well as a little bio on the more interesting characters standing. Get the inside history of the spats and catfights between candidates and exploit those in your reporting; they really help to flesh out the figures. There is something primeval about politics, even on a local level; people aren’t that interested in the number crunching, but they pick apart why candidates lost their seats with an attitude bordering on savage or tribal.

Words: Rachel Charman

You can visit Councilbust here

Poetry by John Carrington

The City is Dying

The city is dying
Weed choked streets and wind swept road signs
The earls are flying
Fuck off you hereditary bastards
People pissing on your dreams
19 years of endless hoop jumping
A faggot intellectual shot from all sides
Lust and egos riot in the street
This earth created undivided
Rubble strewn mentality
Walls caked in shit
Taxi ranks and dole queues
Fucking Psuedo Christian morality bullshit
The good has gone but the evil remains
Disney masking riots
The stench of minds crying
Crying, crying, dying dying
Is this Babylon, which I see before me
I was trying to find the New Jerusalem
Bullshit Anarchists can’t think
The system swallows us whole
Spits out consumables
And if you stand for nothing
You’ll fall for anything
It’s a culture clash
Daily Mail vs Myspace no compromise
You’ll be dead soon Grandad
So deal with it
No lactose intolerance in Africa
And the sound of endless crying crying crying……

The Western Dream of Paradise

Two up
Two Down
In a Northern Industrial Town
Or a Southern City by the Sea

The Boys Night out
Meets up with the Ladies Night
At the Spoons in town

And later the women make love
And the men fuck
By the bins
Or in a floral bedroom

Whilst she dreams later of Prince Charming
And he compares his latest lay
To the posters on the wall
And that girl in the bus stop last week

And all we do is dream
Of better holidays
Sundrenched and fancy free
Whilst we’re crushed by the neons
On the last bus home

1647 Civil War Debates Part 2.

22 April 1647

Pamphlet ‘Smear Attack’ on Winstanley

No less than four scurrilous pamphlets have been this morning nailed to the doors of prominent town churches, decrying the Digger leader Gerard Winstanley as various incarnations of the Dark Lord Satan.

The most prominent of these harbingers of the newes known as The Yearly Mail accused the Digger leader of strong links to Catholicism, claiming that in previous years as an ambassador on the continent, Winstanley had said that “we need to be more like the Catholicks” and had furthermore asserted that “the Catholicks had learn’t from their experiences and grown stronger as a result”.

To compound these allegations, The Uninvented Telegraph accused Master Winstanley of secreting in his mattress many tens of shillings worth of silks, slaves and spices from the Indies Companies. A Digger spokesman dismissed these allegations as ‘typical scaremongering’. The Roundhead spokesman Sir Thomas Fairfax was even inclined to venture that these attacks were little more than ‘Royalist smears, the type of which parliamentarians have faced for years, but which have no place in politicking these days’.

Although the Royalists have been keen to re-secure the backing of such pamphlets as The Trewe Lawe of Divine Monarckhies, A Poxe Upon Traytores and The Express’d Newes (which we find to be all too obsessed with the late Princess Elisabeth), such media friendly tactics have failed to play well with the public, as the good citizens of Devizes have refused the open their gates to the King’s cavalry.

Words: Simon George

My First Time.

Rebecca Ford lives in the Suffolk Coastal constituency.  Born in 1991, this is the first year that she is allowed to go in to a booth and put that big, black cross next to a candidates name.  From September she will be studying Politics and Human Rights.  This is what she thinks about voting for the first time.

On the 6th May I am going to be able to vote for the very first time; something that, as a politics student, I am both excited and horrified at.  In a political system which I find unfair already I am horrified at the fact so many people blinded by the word ‘change’ are willing to disadvantage themselves and help the top 2% of wealthiest families become richer by voting Conservative.  I do not want people to, without realising, vote for widening the gap between the rich and poor.

However, I am also very excited in that I have the opportunity – for the first time – to influence whether this happens or not.  This is why I have also become involved in my schools ‘pretend general election’, because I think it is important that people from a young age are educated about policies of parties and not scandals or epic statements of ‘change’ and so called ‘traditional values’ which disregard the rights of many individuals living in the UK today.

I believe that it is the selfishness of politicians and society that results in the apparent ‘change’ which is needed today and therefore I do not think a hung parliament would necessarily be a bad result of this election.  Perhaps everybody needs to learn to work together, for the good of others.  I believe that this is the real change that is needed. This aside, I live in a constituency, which for years has been dominated by one party and so I do fear that my vote will be wasted. But through principle, I am going to vote for what I believe to be the right party for my constituency and my country and not succumb to popular opinion.  I recently went to a local debate with my constituencies candidates and for me their was a clear winner.  For this reason I am very excited about going to my town hall on the 6th May and undertaking the right of passage that is to vote! I hope my constituency makes the right decision, and choses Adam Leeder, a local lad who cares about helping others; just as I do.

Words: Rebecca Ford

Are you voting for the first time this year?   Or are you abstaining  from voting this year? Let Sleepy Orange know what you think about the election this year by emailing us at sleepyorange@hotmail.co.uk

16 April 1647. Surprise Poll Boost for Diggers in Civil War Debates.

In the first of the debates held to bring an end to the long civil war, Gerard Winstanley, leader of the communal ‘Digger’ movement was widely regarded to have performed impressively in contrast to his political rivals, King Charles I and General Oliver Cromwell.

Not much was known of Winstanley before the debates, and indeed there was some surprise that he was given equal status in the debates by Cromwell and His Majesty. Nevertheless with the two main rivals frequently attacking each other, Winstanley was able to make capital out of his status as a ‘real alternative to the old politics’.

Cromwell was probably the biggest loser of the night. Dour and more than a little puritanical, even the former parliamentary leader John Pym described Cromwell as having ‘a face for battlefields’, hinting that his uneasy smile does not lend itself to etchings and pamphlets. The King on the other hand was well-dressed and polished but many observers perceived his attitude to the civil war to be ‘somewhat cavalier’.

In a typically brusque exchange between Cromwell and the King, Winstanley engaged the audience directly, quipping “The more they attempt to win control of the nation through military means, the more they sound like each other”. Cromwell then sought to ally himself to Winstanley, frequently stating “I agree with Gerard…” When Cromwell claimed that he intended to adopt some of Winstanley’s plans for cultivating abandoned estates for the benefit of the poor, the Digger leader was evidently cynical; “I am dismayed by this!” He retorted. “We set up such a commune only last year and you sent a cavalry detachment to wipe it out”.

The King meanwhile proved more willing to attack Winstanley as well as Cromwell. He frequently asserted that Winstanley had absolutely ‘no chance’ of forming a government as he lacked both an army and the Divine Right of Kings. However the King, who had until recently been regarded as the favourite to win the debates, also failed to fully convince the public due to his ‘privileged background’ and the fact that people still didn’t fully trust the Royalists to govern in their interests.

Cromwell’s lieutenants agreed that he had performed badly in the debates, but pointed out that the public would eventually respond to ‘substance’, pointing out that Cromwell has the most substantial army and will be in full control of London by May the Sixth. When asked if he would consider forming a pact with the Diggers against the Royalists, Cromwell flatly refused any such notion, claiming that if Winstanley proved too popular he would simply hang him.

By Simon George

Poetry by Ray Morgan (Part Two)

Happy Monday all, here are the final two poems from Ray Morgan. To read more of her work visit her blog.

Going Home

Parting was no sorrow,
as we streaked away from London
in fast blue carriages like orcas.
My hair made spaghetti lines
on the greasy window,
and I rested my head and looked out
as if to sea.
I felt the cool glass against my temple,
drawing out thoughts
like a sucker to my skin,
baring them to the outside world.
They spun out like sycamore keys into the cold
as the day began its slow settling down,
all burnt ochres and pinks
bouncing off chrome.
A city shutting away,
a heart sinking with tired,
a hand stained with newspaper print
and the hum of elbow-level heating.
Where the estuary drew near,
pins of light sparked up from the ray
like magnesium star anise,
and the station platforms held damp sand
behind the yellow lines.

Drum’n’bass Night

The sick thump of bass
is seeping up through the ceiling,
creeping into my eardrums
to the thud of my heart.
My own blood pounding,
boiling with rage,
becomes in sync with the thick,
booting bass.
A bleary eye searches
for the time on the clock
and winces at the sight
of 3am.
A hand scrabbles for a phone
flicks open the screen
and waits to confirm the time and
yes, it really is 3am.
Peals of arrogant laughter
rise up through the floorboards
filling my head with hate,
eyelids stung with tired.
Hot eyeballs seethe
with the pain of no sleep,
and the drumming keeps on
until finally,
at 6am,
my alarm goes off.