Issue 23: Marcus Slease

Stranger Things

Childhood and alcoholism. She was born to kill giants. What is the relation of shyness to appearance? She waves her arms into a windmill. The Spanish are prone to melodrama. Children’s tacos. Heavy metal junkies. Funk to funky. It’s time to cure the pickles. The ultimate aim of all love affairs is the greatest aim but how to aim it, and where. Jupiter is close to the moon and Stranger Things is on the television. Ben has broken his leg, it is 4000 to fix it, with a low percentage of success. He can manage with three legs but cannot wander outside. Ben is 16, already old. It is better to die happy than live miserably. Some men are told to find someone to complete themselves and also become somebody. Some women are told to find somebody but not become somebody. Some men are told to become somebody but not to find somebody. She is somebody first and can find anybody later, but when do you know when you are somebody enough to find anybody. What is the complete equation?

Somebody: My tiny feet have grown into my face

Anybody: The waves are my children

Somebody: The dragonfly follows the snake

Anybody: The cold watch ticks against my wrist

Somebody: The tired candle burns over my shoulder

Anybody:  Cookies & cream in the glory hole

Hazelnut Heaven

The showers have been threatening since morning. At the veggie shop, the cherries are better for 1 kilo. She runs outside, into the rain, adds more cherries. They weigh it. It is not enough. She runs out into the rain, fills the plastic bag, more cherries, & more cherries, & more cherries. You can get a lot of cherries for 1 kilo. The luxury avocados are 2 euros. It is good with blended tomatoes and garlic. An animal smile wants to eat you. Eyeliner, smudged and smeared. A picket fence of teeth. Ageing, maturing, time ticking & ticking. She remembers South Kensington, French or upper class English, walled gardens and picnics. She was never at home among the fancy, the rich or the haughty. She was never at home in any nation or country. She balled her backpack, trekked north into the wilderness. The summer camp children are screaming, a green monster is coming to eat them. She treks it through the mini jungle, hacks its limbs with a machete. A fine powder for face painting. She is the hero of the children’s adventure. There is a horse, slanted. Woodsmoke from a chimney. A tiny fridge full of chocolate. Hazelnut heaven!

Girl & Horse

She is a child, on a horse, in the photo, and the paper with the image of her on the horse is ageing, the image is fading, both her and the horse, and the picture of her on the horse, both of them together, on the grass, in 1980s Poland, with the fences far in the distance, the horse and her galloping, later, out of the picture, to something new, the parting clouds of forgetting.

Hot Clouds!

We are out of tonic, she says, can we mix the gin with tap water. The tonic is down the street at Condis, but the temptations of crisps await them. Maybe a small bag, she says. It is hard to shake the hankering. Crisps, or the closely related chip, is hard to resist, the most addictive food on the planet. The comfort of a fried potato. How did Europe survive without it? There is the olive, the centre of the mediterranean diet, health and longevity. Crisps with olive oil are very tasty. In England, it was prawn cocktail, in Poland sour cream. Did the English invent the thick chip, a broad sword. The French the straw chip. A thin Musketeer. A crisp should be crispy on the outside, a hot cloud on the inside. It is hard to eat just one.

They Didn't Feel Soviet

In her youth, it was sailors, crusty beards in bars. She didn’t drink her beer with a straw. The world was colder then- winter longer. Sledding down the hill on her estate, bottle cap games on pavements. Her mother worked in an office and her father investigated crooked cops. They took the number off the door for protection. Her father returned from trips to Germany with real chocolate. It was the Cold War and they didn’t feel Soviet. She sailed out to sea with the sailors, every afternoon till evening.

Born in Portadown, Northern Ireland, Marcus Slease has made his home in Turkey, Poland, Italy, South Korea, the United States, Spain, and the United Kingdom - experiences that inform his nomadic surrealist writing. His poetry has been translated into Danish and Polish, featured in the Best British Poetry series, and has appeared in many anthologies and magazines, including Tin House, Fence, Poetry, and Versopolis Review. He has performed his work at various festivals and art galleries in Prague, Madrid, London, Bristol, Manchester, North Carolina, and Ireland.

Currently, he lives in Castelldefels, Spain and teaches high school literature in Barcelona. His latest book is The Green Monk (Boiler House Press). Never Mind the Beasts, a hybrid novel of interlocking flash fictions and prose poems, is forthcoming from Dostoyevsky Wannabe in 2020. Find out more at Never Mind the Beasts.

Copyright © 2019 by Marcus Slease, 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.