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32. Featuring: Claudine Toutoungi

Rehabilitating the Underdog

 

Do not discourage the underdog in his use of positive psychology.

He who looks in the mirror and habitually hears-mangy old mutt,

no-good pound-hound, mud-loving, dirt-grubbing dumb-ass beast-

needs a new mantra.

 

He who feels the ache of his choking dog-heart

or who looks down the barrel of his tail to see mile after

mile of bristling iron-filing fleas, must be taught to work

through his anger.

 

Let him howl at the moon for years,

feel the salt tears slide down his sad hanging face,

slobber and drool over wounds accrued through a life of

being trod on  

 

and when all’s said and done let him find a new

tongue in his skull and with it intone: you ain’t nothing but a

wise dog, wise dog. wise dog,

until he believes it

 

until he knows his bite is worse than his bark

that he can learn new tricks

that there’s nothing to fear from the dark.

 

Watch him shake free the dust of the dog

house. See his canine

canines shine.

 

Claudine Toutoungi

The Empty Click of Sorrow

 

It’s quiet here without you;

 

my chest feels

like the empty barrel

of some lonely gun.

 

Keighley Perkins

(ii) Whoosh Taylor

 

Whoosh’s big rig elbows left

towards the A15 for Covent Garden

racks of cabbage pallets stashed

in 7m box.

       FM-wise J Cash

Walks The Line

and Whoosh is

Sunshine

God knows why.

 

Cabbages are Whoosh’s life

and always were. Head knob at

Cabbageland Sec Mod

told 1A from the start

this is what it means

to fluff the grammar

you spell you sum you spanner

look to labouring or canner.

It’s job it’s not career

get used to the idea.

 

What’s changed? Cabbageland

Sec Mod is now a comp

thank God. The rest is

mood tunes, noise.

The right to rule’s assumed

by post-grad schmoozers

hacks and Eton boys.

 

The load’s consigned and so

is Whoosh. But hey the pay’s

not bad. Whoosh won’t complain

will tell you trucks are absolutely it

but secretly he thinks they’re shit.

 

Colin Sutherill

The falling man

 

has not landed yet.

His limbs are still questioning the sky

thirty floors on.

                            Clothes rent by velocity,

skin a flag flying the face,

voice sandpapered away

and the sound, the sound

the roar before the body breaks.

 

Accelerating into oblivion,

human debris raining all around

he makes a beautiful mark on the sky.

Nothing can catch him now,

wind whistling through the brain

chasing all coherent thought away,

everything he’s ever lost or found

is compacted

                        filed in mid-air eternity:

rushing up as he rushes down

to fold like paper into the ground.

 

Fiona Curran

What the Bouncer Overheard During the Lap Dances

 

*

Fusion, baby. It’s all about fusion.

 

*

I bought my wife the same black thong

for her birthday but she brought it

back in the box it came in.

She said it looked like a pepper flake

stuck between her front teeth.

 

*

This is my favorite Guns N’ Roses song, too.

But you, my peach, are the pressed rose

in the buckle band of Slash’s hat,

you’re the last sip of Night Train

on a tour bus barreling toward Hell.

 

*

All of these girls can pole dance,

but with you, it’s like another limb.

It’s like the pole is plugged into the music

and you’re plugged into the pole.

It’s like zen, baby, ooooommmmm.

 

*

If your breasts get any closer to my mouth,

I’m going to weep like a new widow.

 

*

I almost wore sweatpants.

 

Nathan Graziano

Artist Obsessed

 

Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Aggregation:One Thousand Boats’ installation

features a rowing boat encrusted with fabric phalluses.

 

The world is buttered thick with phalluses –

somehow you know she’ll never lick the knife

because Daddy did something he shouldn’t,

turned her into a fisher of men’s whitebait

afloat in her ghost white boat.

Dickety dick goes her fierce little needle

counting the stitches it’ll take to mend her;

stabs into softest winceyette,

moulds them, names them,

these gorgon heads that turn her to stone,

cock-a-hoop girths that flop on the rowlocks.

What a haul of men’s cods.

Only once she lay in the boat’s open mouth,

let the netted snouts snaffle at her bleeding places,

felt each clean, uncluttered oar.

She will row herself clear – cut through

the black water of a long vigil.

 

Claire Booker