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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
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