Issue 3: James McLaughlin


(For Sharon) 

Does anything lie in between? A febrile of intangibles - or just

something in between? Or slightly in between or to the side? Or

upside-down or inside-out or something in between them?

Contretemps to define precedents. Bowdlerized echoes that ooze

and flinch. A cipher sting of execution. Melancholia mixed with a

beaten egg. Or two. Redolent fed from a spoon. The heat of the sun

on the first day of spring. Bird nets faffed at the breeze. A verisimilitude

quality or asset? Words unsaid - a dying note not sung. All normal.

Or. Of. On. Time that remained unused. Chance not taken.

An accumulation of emotions: feelings, instincts, happenings,

attitudes, behaviours, hates? Was it the movement of the tide.

The way the ocean current drowns at the pole. Or did it become

fantasy. A perfect slide rule. Could a thought rest there. Pulsing at

the abstract: How she sat on a moment of thoughts. A holograph made

of cling film. Why the bees sang to her water music through a tin whistle .

All whip and air. Gush of the uproar. She was nonsense, pastel, a

talc puff, white, spacious an illusion. Mused at the anticipation of hope.

Taking flight. Pulsing up on rainbow cords. She let you in thus far and

no more. She painted it up. All was fine. So straight and accurate that

it was almost perfect. The question of nonentity. Zero verticals and

twists. Veins of compulsion. Combinations of immortality. Goddesses

bathed in the indefinite article. The metaphor junkies high on silly buses.

They said she was vulnerable. That was the word they used.

‘She was always vulnerable.’ Or. Was she real or just something

we touched in between.


Or shape or form easy to exchange. A slight chill calls from the cap. Lingers in the
bone. Transmutes to an ancient cloud upon the river.  'The comic

book heroine never knew what she was up against when fighting

her protean foe Silly Putty-man'. Frissions mixed with molasses

and Cop Colombia. Vapid a resolution – a curtain call for the

main man - our heroin - our ever present. Twitching behind the

curtains saying 'I see u... I see you'. Cold but dry. Winter. Frost.

A wood – beautiful the sky shining through. Thump ball – beat

foot fall – a comfort of melodrama. Then some. Aware, alone.

Co-joined to the head word, we gaze at the water the foliage search

for understanding. Happiness. 'This adjective is particularly apt

when an actor takes on varied roles within the same production'.

We smell it all in an electric sky. Peripatetic. Flash back, fast forward,

re-wind, transmute, supercharge, brake, slow, down. Stop. Will you

leave in isolation. You come from the dark. You hide there where

no one can see. We take you from the oar – from the black stuff

to a golden globe. My ancient sea god coming out of the deep.

Proteus. Oracular old man herding those terrible sea beasts. One

way then the other. Get the silver pill. Apply the rigid ointment.

Get a basket, collect the methaphors. Come my reactor zone.

White suit. Rubber boot. Mask on. Lights on. Camera on.


James McLaughlin has been writing for 20 years: first published in Outside Lines in the 1980s.

Also published in Stride, Nth Position, Great Works, Poetry Scotland and elsewhere.

Copyright © 2009 by James McLaughlin, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.