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Fish Anthology 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9562721-7-1

Fish Anthology 2015 –

SELECTED BY:
Jennifer JohnstonShort Story
Carmen BuganShort Memoir
Bret Anthony JohnstonFlash Fiction
Nick LairdPoetry

How do we transform personal experience of pain into literature? How do we create and then chisel away at those images of others, of loss, of suffering, of unspeakable helplessness so that they become works of art that aim for a shared humanity? What is the role of language—lyrical, descriptive or confessional in portraying these strong experiences? What exactly is the language of memory? The pieces selected here seem to prompt all these questions and the best of them offer some great answers.
Carmen Bugan  

Read an excerpt from winning short story – The Pace of Change by Chris Weldon.

Read winning poem – Saint John’s Primary School Nativity. Nineteen Years On. By Tessa Maude.

 

 

Fish Anthology 2015

Contents


SHORT STORIES

   

The Pace of Change

 

Chris Weldon

Tomorrow

 

Keren Heenan

Two Funerals

 

Kara Moskowitz

Blind White Worm

 

Bill Davis

American Holiday

 

Grace French

Thieving in a Minor Key

 

Jacob M. Appel

The Journey

 

Kate Mahony

Combat

 

Katherine West

Of Things That Fall From The Sky

 

Omar Al-Khayatt

Unfinished Business

 

Pauline Brown

Desray

 

Pippa Gough

 

FLASH FICTION

   

Trashfish

 

Chloe Wilson

Transformation

 

Nicholas Ruddock

Forwards, Backwards, Sideways

 

Jackie Burgoyne

Land of Stones

 

Mark Smith

Boy

 

Robert Barrett

The Ride

 

Rucha Modak

Comrades

 

Charlie Weaver Rolfe

Tiffy

 

Nancy Ludmerer

Wreck

 

Mark Sutz

TV vs Walking

 

Katerina Protopsaltis

 

 

SHORT MEMOIRS

   

Throat of Morning

 

Wendell Hawken

The Torso and the Lotus

 

David Horovitch

The Baby Dictates

 

Saffron Marchant

Van Men

 

John Harris

Dutch Scene Before Divorce

 

Nicola Waldron

Kibun

 

Elizabeth Browne

The Beach Umbrella

 

Eva Faber

A Caseful of Ostrich Feathers

 

Aida Lennon

Symphony Date

 

Cathy A. Beres

Christmas is Coming

 

Alan Coley

 

POETRY

   

Saint John’s Primary School Nativity. Nineteen Years On.

 

Tessa Maude

Termination

 

Jessica Magee

Waiting for Verlaine

 

Penny Ouvry

Icarus in Donegal

 

Sighle Meehan

After the Museum

 

Peter Blair

Dean of Studies

 

Frank Farrelly

Into my lavender suitcase, I pack:

 

Laura Jan Shore

The Finest Specimen

 

Jane Clarke

Shifting

 

Roger Vickery

Begin

 

Polly Atkin

BIOGRAPHIES

   

Excerpt from short story

The Pace of Change by Chris Weldon

Brendan soothed the horse by stroking under its jaw and the huge animal opened its mouth, allowing him to slide the bit in to the back of its teeth. He pulled the bridle over the ears and held firm on the reins as the horse jerked his head upwards. After a few moments it became still and then lowered its head to munch on the grass.
‘Come up,’ said Brendan gently. ‘Come up out of that.’
He rubbed the horse’s nose and leant forward to buckle the bridle.  Taking the reins again he led the horse across the field towards a five bar aluminium gate. Set in a gap in the hedge, it offered a view across a narrow road and beyond to an oak lined avenue, the tree tops blurred by the Westmeath morning mist. He stopped and listened and the horse listened too, its ears moving like radars trying to pick up the direction of the sound, the sound of a motor car. It’ll be Kit Lee, thought Brendan. Kit was the only man he knew who owned a motor car, an old black one.
At that time it was the only car around those parts, not that it was around that much. Kit spent an average of two out of three days at home in bed, convinced he had a fatal illness. One illness or another, it didn’t matter so long as it was fatal. When the due date for his death would pass Kit would get up and go about as if nothing had happened, which, of course, it hadn’t.  Brendan never tired of telling the story of the day when Kit stood at the counter in Briody’s shop in the village.
‘“Twenty Sweet Afton is it, Kit?” says Mrs. Briody, reaching behind her to where the cigarettes were stacked on the shelf. “Ten,” says Kit.  “Ten?” says Mrs. Briody.  “The doctor gave me three feckin’ days to live and there’s two of them gone by already,” says Kit. “Ten will see me out, Mrs. Briody.”’
And Brendan would look around the bar to see who was laughing and to see if there was anyone who hadn’t heard it before.  Once a man had said that he had heard the same story down in Kerry but no more was said about that.
There was a name for Kit’s condition but it kept slipping Brendan’s mind. Lots of things were slipping his mind these days: names, lots of things. He’d never married; said he hadn’t time enough for himself never mind a wife.
The car went past, visible only for the second it took to pass the gate. It wasn’t Kit’s car. It was red and newer looking. Brendan had never seen it before and wondered who it could be. One of them fellahs down from Dublin, he thought. There were more cars in Dublin where they didn’t need them, of course, than anywhere out in the country.
But it wouldn’t have been Kit, in any case, because Kit had taken to his bed the morning before with his latest fatal illness. Brendan had seen Tommy McCormack, the doctor, in Mullingar later that afternoon. He had taken the bus in to look at some cattle for Mr. Hope who owned the farm where Brendan worked when he was needed. The doctor was leaning against the top rail of the cattle pen in the street where the market had been set up.
‘What’s up with him this time, Tommy?’ Brendan had asked.
‘He has the plague,’ the doctor answered
‘The plague?’ said Brendan. ‘We’re all doomed, so.’
‘I’d say we are,’ said Tommy. ‘I’ll just go in there, now, to the Bar and Grill, and take my last glass of Guinness. Will you send for the priest?’
‘I will,’ said Brendan, ‘after I’ve had a look at these heifers.’ The doctor walked across the street to the bar. As he opened the door the strains of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ emerged and mingled with lowing of the cattle and the shouts of the farmers bargaining in the market.  Brendan shook his head and moved away down the street.
Kit had never married either so, there they were, two old batchelors going about together, whenever Kit was about, anyway. Brendan with his weather beaten face, lean and wiry: Kit tall and pale, his jet black toupee perched on his head ‘Like a cat on a mantelpiece,’ said Mrs. Keogh in the post office. Brendan was older than Kit. He had been drawing his pension these three years and Kit still had a year before he could draw his.
‘I’ll never get there,’ he would say. ‘I’ll never see the day.’
The only time their friendship was ever strained was that time twenty or twenty-five years before, he had lost track, when Brendan went over to England for the work. Kit’s older sister, Maggie, was living in Sheffield with her husband and Kit had written to her asking if she could find room in the house for Brendan so he could earn a bit of money on the roads over there. Maggie had written back and said she could but not for too long now, as her husband wasn’t too happy about it at all. So Brendan took the mail boat over to Holyhead and caught the train to Sheffield, changing at Crewe. Maggie had moved her two sons into one room and given Brendan the small bedroom. After he had laid his case on the bed he came downstairs to the cramped sitting room where Maggie’s husband Dermot was hunched in an armchair with his pipe and a paper.
‘Good man,’ said Brendan.
‘Mmmuhh,’ said Dermot without looking up.
Dermot was from County Cork. Stocky and short, he either said nothing or spoke so fast, so passionately and for so long that he exhausted you. Over the weeks that Brendan was there he made the effort to break the ice with Dermot but he generally got the silence or, at best, the grunts.  He felt for Maggie. She was a handsome woman, a good mother, funny and warm. Any man would be glad of her but Dermot didn’t seem to have any appreciation of her at all.
One afternoon Brendan was in the kitchen with Maggie. He couldn’t get a start on the roads that week and Maggie had offered to cut his hair. There was more of it then and it was a kind of reddy-brown.
‘It’s falling in your eyes,’ said Maggie. ‘Sit down there and I’ll cut it for you.’ She leant over from behind him and placed a tea towel round his neck, tucking it into the shirt collar. He felt her softness and it stirred him.
‘I remember you leaving home,’ said Brendan.
‘That was twenty years ago.’
‘No! Twenty years?’ said Brendan
‘Will you sit still,’ said Maggie. ‘I’ll be sticking the scissors in you.’
‘Twenty years?’
‘It was,’ said Maggie resting her hand for a moment on Brendan’s head. ‘It was 1913, just before the war. Some bloody great idea it was to come to Sheffield.’
‘Why did you do it?’
‘Dermot had work in the steel factory.’
‘Ah, sure Jaysus, Maggie, it’s not Dermot’s fault the war broke out.’
‘I know that,’ said Maggie quietly.
There was a silence between them as Maggie clipped away with the scissors, carefully holding his ears down with her cool fingers while snipping around them.
‘I was sorry to see you leave,’ said Brendan.
‘You were not.’ Maggie laughed.
‘I was so.’
‘Why would you be sorry to see me leave?’
‘Well there wasn’t exactly a crowd of good looking girls around the village in those days.’
‘Now stop,’ said Maggie. ‘Stop now. You mustn’t be saying those things.’ But although she was behind him he could sense that she was pleased and when her fingers came to rest gently on the back of his neck he felt a tingling and he knew they rested there longer than they needed to.  

 

Saint John’s Primary School Nativity. Nineteen Years On.
by Tessa Maude

The Virgin Mary lights a fag
Behind the vestry door
She’s pregnant for the fourth time
At only twenty-four.

Herod dies in Helmand
And Caspar deals in crack and
Melchior rapes Gabriel
And stabs him in the back.

The shepherds beat up Joseph
And steal his mobile phone
Miss Stevens gives up teaching
And drinks and dies alone.

The Star stands by her lamp post
And sore afraid acts tough
By bridges and in doorways
The Inn Keeper sleeps rough.

The mothers and the fathers
The chief priests and the scribes
Are gathered in the court house
Where Balthazar takes bribes.

The Heavenly Choir disbanded
And went their separate ways
Three wise men went to Wandsworth
The shepherds to The Maze.

A suicidal Jesus
Curses God then leaps
And in his stained glass window
Saint John the Baptist weeps.

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