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28 February 2014

A City on the Edge

St. John's is
gnawing on my bones.
You can't take it in
with tiny sips; you have
to choke it back, you have
to swig it down. You have
to wheeze about and stagger.

In St. John's,
the houses tumble uphill
if such a thing is possible
and the entire place-
the streets, the squares, the alleyways-
seems to have been laid out
without the aid of a ruler
(and possibly while
under the influence of screech).
From Hill O'Chips to Mile Zero,
from Water Street to the colourful homes
lined up on Jellybean Row:
the city is full of angles that

St. John's is, as the Irish say,
"a great place to get lost in."
Wander around long enough,
though, and you will
eventually end up
at the harbour
as surely as water flows downhill.

Great ships lie tethered, bleeding
rust into the bay,
and rising and falling
on s l o w exhalations
of water. From the pier,
the bay looks like a landlocked lake,
the Narrows sealed off by
perspective and distance.
The very air
tastes of

I am homesick for St. John's,
and it isn't even my home.
I miss the city and I think of it often,
the way one wonders about
a boozy uncle who comes crashing
into your life every couple of years
and then charges off,
leaving a trail of tall tales
and laughter in his wake.

It is a good city, this fishing village
on the eastern edge of
North America.

It gnaws on you.

From The City on a Rock, Will Ferguson,, 21 July 2003. Submitted by Megan.

26 February 2014

You Latinist

You Latinist?
I doubt it.
Nah lad.
You alive?
Year man, hope so.
I’ve survived on ice cream.

It’s all good in the hood
thank you
I’m gonna get cained and wash-up
In the bath. Ahhh

The new terms will take effect from
7:30 pm
with balls and like a man.
Start your year helping someone else –
Just destroy the toilet and leave non alive.

Lines picked at random from recent text messages received by class members of the year 2 Music Practice Degree at UCLAN (Preston University). Submitted by Winston Plowes with contributions (in order) from DF, TF, AL, BE, JH, KM, JH, MG, SO, LG, JL, CE, NW, CH and MM.

21 February 2014

Controlled Burn 1

We bite
When people have something to say

Every second counts

In tune
Like a record player
Screaming at a wall

Die, die my darling

Die alone
Wide awake on Lake Street
Black heart broken

Sunbelt scars
Where are they now

Red Sky
Navigation point

Where we’re going we don’t need roads


You’re all welcome

The first 20 songs shuffled by my iTunes in the Punk genre. Submitted by Ryan Falls.

19 February 2014

Mysterious ways

I needed a new car
as my old one was so unreliable
it kept breaking down.
I couldn’t see any way
that I could afford to get one.
After I prayed the way you said,
I not only got a better car
but it was bright red.

A testimonial on the website More Than Life, retrieved 4 February 2014. Submitted by Howie Good.

17 February 2014

Melody of the soul

Across a nation long captivated
By Western classical music,
People reacted with remorse, outrage
And even the rare threat of a lawsuit
After Mr. Samuragochi’s revelations
That he had hired a ghostwriter since the 1990s
To compose most of his music.

The anger turned to disbelief
When the ghostwriter himself
Came forward to accuse Mr. Samuragochi
Of faking his deafness,
Apparently to win public sympathy
And shape the Beethoven persona.

The scandal has brought
An abrupt fall from grace
For Mr. Samuragochi,
A man who looked the part
Of a modern-day composer
With his long hair,
Stylish dark suits
And ever-present sunglasses.

Taken from the New York Times article, In Japan, a Beloved Deaf Composer Appears to Be None of the Above, 7 February 2014. Submitted by Mark Dzula.

14 February 2014

This is her

Names have power,
so let us speak of hers.

Her name is Sharbat Gula,
and she is Pashtun,

that most warlike of Afghan tribes.
It is said of the Pashtun

that they are only at peace
when they are at war,

and her eyes—then and now—
burn with ferocity.

She is 28, perhaps 29, or even 30.
No one, not even she, knows for sure.

Stories shift like sand
in a place where no records exist.

From 'A Life Revealed', by Cathy Newman, National Geographic, April 2002. Submitted by Angi Holden.

12 February 2014

Working life

People simply empty out.
They are bodies with fearful
and obedient minds.
The color leaves the eye.
The voice becomes ugly.
And the body. The hair.
The fingernails. The shoes.
Everything does.

Charles Bukowski in a letter to John Martin, Reach for the Sun, Selected Letters, 1978-1994, vol. 3. Submitted by Howie Good.

08 February 2014

A UK Taxpayer Considers Concorde

As a way
of getting over the Atlantic
it may have sucked

but as a beautiful thing
to look up and see

over Reading
and the Thames Valley
at 6pm every afternoon

it was worth

A friend's Facebook comment, 22 January 2014. Submitted by Ailsa Holland.

03 February 2014

UKIP Weather Forecast: It’s Raining Men

A morning kiss between two consenting adults
will lead to drizzle on higher ground.
An area of blame will move in from the east
before drifting away and settling over Brussels.
Dark clouds are forming over the Midlands
following voluntary sexual intercourse
between two unmarried persons.
Temperatures will plummet as a result
of a man in Cumbria enthusiastically browsing
through a home furnishings catalogue.
The early sunshine in the Cotswolds
has been replaced by cloud after a man
spent a suspiciously long time grooming his facial hair.
The sun makes a brief appearance
after John Barrowman stubs his toe
on the corner of a wardrobe.

Compiled from tweets by @UkipWeather in response to UKIP Councillor David Silvester's remarks linking bad weather to same-sex marriage. Submitted by Angi Holden.

01 February 2014

Typo in a Dead Language

The scene is in a synagogue,
but the word probably has nothing to do with religion.
It seems that the butchers in town
were either at fault, or the ones faulted.
Something about meat being sent out of the shtetl,
and the butchers collecting money.
Those protesting in half-mumbled sentences
end their words with "kupkes kupkes"
or possibly "kuFkes kuFkes."
I don't see how hats or head-coverings would be involved,
unless it was somehow used as a symbol of protest
(maybe something "socialist," like waving the flag,
or similar to the Bund motto: sher un ayzn [scissors and iron])
or something like throwing down a gauntlet
(in this case a hat - maybe like the Muslims throw shoes)
or used as a swear word or curse...
and someone else suggested a typo (twice?).

From a discussion about the Yiddish word 'kupkes' on Mendele, a moderated mailing related to the Yiddish language. Original post on this page (vol23011.txt), 9 November 2013. Submitted by Howie Good.