DESCRIBING INDESCRIBABLE

by Kev Walker 

Content warning: mentions death, PTSD. Poem contains graphic imagery.

The palate is thick, pungent. Ripe yet rotten. Though rotting has not yet began.
There’s shades of urea, undertones of copper, a hint of raw pork in a pan.
Whilst in this state, the freshness shocks, indeed it almost smells tasty
This matter should stink, not hint on the taste-buds, my skin hues quickly to pasty.
The ringing still clear, this taste in my lungs, broken marionette of gore
Doused in crimson and black, a stinkhorn mushroom, draped across sand on the floor.
The palate so thick, it stays in my nostrils, lies dormant for years at a time
Till a familiar smell, dilutes and hydrates it           waking hideous fears that were mine.
Defenceless against it, it shadows my being, my stomach a churning mass
Goosebumps for no reason and magnified senses, awaiting the gut wrench to pass.
You can’t fight or ignore it, it only adds to the fear, the sickly strength of its grip
Fills your heart with blackness, loss and frustration           exposes your soul with a rip.
It sleeps when it chooses, not at my will, but sleeps to allow it to wake
Refreshed and visceral, stronger than ever, my palms grip my face and I shake.


Writer’s Note: As a follow up to this poem, anyone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or indeed any underlying mental health condition, can find support and advice through the following agencies. If this poem has highlighted symptoms to you or someone close to you, I encourage you to seek support. As a sufferer of PTSD, I can strongly recommend not suffering in silence. Even just being able to share and relate is part of the healing process. [Information regarding PTSD can be found on the NHS website. Support is available through Mind, with Armed Forces specific support available via SSAFA.]

Editor’s Note: The Norwich Radical believes, as outlined in our Founding Statement, that to ensure the longevity and prosperity of humanity, we must strive to build a world free from violence, conflict and warfare. We therefore stand in opposition to the militarisation of society, armed conflict resolution and imperialism. We acknowledge and recognise those who have served in armed forces and the trauma experienced by those involved in conflict worldwide, and strive for a world built not on the premise of war, but on co-operation.

Featured image: Wikimedia


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“HI, HOW ARE YOU?”

by Kev Walker

Content warning:  mentions substance misuse, mental health, homelessness, conflict

It’s all bling and totter, down the lights of the highstreet, drunk by the train journey there
Cackles and shouts, tales of shagging and swearing, cosmetics squeeze out the air
Bravado and vanity, beer and wine, heading for the first open club
Boys strut with their chests out, showing a leg, only thoughts are of getting a rub.

He’s crouched in the corner, a-top a damp box, wrapped in a half soaking doss-bag
A dog by his side, as companion and protector, a mucker to share a sparse nose-bag
He shakes with the cold, but also the comedown          the cider has long since left him
A blot-out, a release, from the pain in his mind and the mess he now finds himself in.Continue Reading

JOAN LEE: THE MARVELOUS MUSE

by Richard Worth

The story goes that Stan Lee was dragging his feet on Marvel’s latest bid to catch up with the Distinguished Competition. He was becoming bored with the monster-matinée mags he made with Kirby and uninspired by the sci-fi parables he produced with Ditko and now his bosses had tasked him with making a book to rival DC’s newest hit, Justice League.

Stan wasn’t one for superheroes. They were too perfect, too unflawed, and too unfit for the hyper-dramatised, purple prose that was Stan’s hallmark. He moped and complained about his artistic integrity, as writers are wont to do, boring all around him until his perpetually patient wife finally told him to get on with it. Continue Reading

A THANK YOU TO COMICS ARTIST LEO BAXENDALE

by Richard Worth

The Beano was a part of my childhood I took for granted. To be clear, that’s not to say I didn’t value every issue I had, more that it was a fundamental part of my existence. It was always around and I assumed everybody read it in the same way I assumed everybody had tea in the evening. The Beano and its characters were accepted, not considered. Which brings me to a shameful point: I never thought about who created them.

The death of Leo Baxendale is a sad loss for the nation. Continue Reading

KARL MARX DEFENDS HENRY KISSINGER BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

2

by Gary Olson

Content warning: mentions mass murder and drone warfare

Mr. Robert Walpole
Editor-in-Chief
The Onion
1000 Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

Dear Mr. Walpole:

I read in The Atlantic that Cole Bolton, The Onion’s editor in 2015, said that his publication is devoted to “calling out bullshit” and has “had an anti-corporate rebellious streak throughout [their] editorial history.”

Taking that mission seriously, I submit to you the satire below.

In the spirit of speaking truth to power,

Gary Olson


In a parallel universe, Henry Kissinger is being prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court at The Hague in the Netherlands. Seated at the table with Kissinger is his cunning choice for Chief Defense Counsel, none other than Karl Marx.

The ICC’s Chief Prosecutor addresses the three-judge Trial Chamber, reminding them that the preamble of the Rome Statute establishing the court states “that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished.”

She draws upon a myriad of impeccable sources, including historian Greg Grandin’s new book Kissinger’s Shadow. The judges are stunned by the prosecutor’s searing portrayal of the defendant’s alleged responsibility for so many deaths — six million in Indochina alone. An anguished look crosses the face of Norwegian judge Olaf Ingeborg as he watches some unspeakably macabre visual evidence.Continue Reading

FROM ‘PRAYERS OF THE PLACE OF THE WORLD’

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Francesca Genti (1975–), da ‘Preghiere del posto del mondo’, in the ‘Ma il mondo, non era di tutti?’ anthology (Marcos Y Marcos)

word, my place in the world,
word who says things,
word who says stories,
who says war and says death,Continue Reading

REVIEW: BURNT ROTIS, WITH LOVE, BY PRERNA BAKSHI

by Carmina Masoliver

Prerna Bakshi’s debut collection Burnt rotis, with love was published in 2016 by Le Zaporogue via Lulu.com. Poems featured in the collection have appeared in many literary journals, magazines and anthologies across the world. Hailing from India, Bakshi offers a refreshing perspective on feminism and the wider would, enlightening readers with its undeniable South Asian roots.Continue Reading

INTERESTING PEOPLE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Laura Accerboni (1985-), from ‘La parte dell’annegato’

We are interesting
people.
Our arms are
interesting
as are our teeth,
every sign of resistance
shows something interesting.Continue Reading

TRAVEL WHILE DYING

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Sonia Gentili, ‘Viaggio mentre morivo’

I travel while I was dying and I was
absent or maybe only
alone: still before the last anchor
of the world as homeland of
the present
I travel where the present is consumed
in the black womb of the light, see-through
like the dark waiting for the moon
it’ll come and it doesn’t come and I
am distantContinue Reading

TRISTAN THINKS ABOUT THE NEWS, WHILE EATING RICE AND BEANS

by Julian Canlas

Isaiah 11:2 New International Version (NIV)
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—

Tristan does so without the fear of God, like a pinprick—
a spitting image of all those heretics and unknown curses—

no doubt, in this bog of a living room, where moments
of explosions become dictators, pushing him headfirstContinue Reading

‘ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER TOURISM’: THE DARK SIDES OF THE CRUISE INDUSTRY

by Zoe Harding

TW: Sexual assault

On the 22nd of May, the Oasis-class cruise ship Harmony of the Seas set sail from Southampton docks on its first commercial voyage. The world’s largest cruise ship, the Harmony is owned by Royal Caribbean and can carry up to 5,400 passengers as well as 2,100 crew. The ship will be sailing on various European cruise routes until October, when it moves to the Caribbean for the winter. The vessel resembles a block of brutalist flats with a pointy bit at the front, and rooms can cost up to £3,000 for a seven-day cruise. The industry boomed in the early 2010s and is still going, with over around 22.5 million passengers carried worldwide in 2015 at a profit of somewhere around $39.6  billion.Continue Reading

STUDYING YOU: STUDENTS WITH GRIEF AND MENTAL ILLNESS

by Candice Nembhard

When I was in my last year of primary school, I experienced the death of a pupil in the year below; her name was Demi. She had epilepsy and was known to have regular fits, but they were often manageable and not entirely life threatening if responded to sufficiently. I distinctly remember one lunch time as I headed towards the playground, that I passed by Demi having another fit. Teachers and paramedics cornered me off, so as not to make a bigger scene and I ran off to the playground to inform others. Of course we were all concerned, but were mostly pacified in the knowledge she was in the best possible care.

The next morning at school, my teacher informed us that Demi had died. She was only 10 years old — they had been unable to restart her heart. In that moment, I felt a level of responsibility.  I saw her in her last moments and passed it off as another episode that would soon rectify itself to see Demi in good health.  Counsellors came into school and assemblies were given, but they did nothing to attend to the hurt and regret I felt for not being able to do more. I know that Demi’s condition was never my immediate concern, but there was always that part of me that took on the blame for witnessing her final moments. For many pupils including myself, it was their first experience with death and consequently grief.Continue Reading

THE DOMESTIC REBEL

by Paige Selby-Green

I live in a small flat with my partner of three and a half years. We have a joint bank account. We know all of each other’s grossest habits, and we love yeach other with everything we have. But you wouldn’t know that a relationship like that is possible for a queer couple like us if you only had popular media as a source.

Continue Reading

AN ORDINARY DAY

1

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Alessandra Racca (1979-), ‘Un giorno qualunque’

In the match
between what we call good
and we despise as evil
today a bomb will make noise
smoke will assault the eyes
scattering shards on screens
and people
a woman’s tears
will stand stillContinue Reading

REVIEW: DAVID BOWIE’S BLACKSTAR

by Mike Vinti

This review was written over the weekend, when David Bowie was still alive. In light of his death last night, much of the meaning of this album has changed and one can’t help but see this album, released just three days before his passing, as Bowie’s final gift to the world. In this review, no great weight is placed on the allusions to death or nagging sense of dread throughout, the aspects of the album that stand out most today. In my naivety I guess I thought he’d live forever. Listening in light of the news, ‘Lazarus’ especially feels like a resigned goodbye, lines such as ‘I’ve got scars you cannot see’ and ‘just like that bluebird, I’ll be free’ seem to warn the listener of Bowie’s fate and one can’t help but feel like a fool for missing them.   Continue Reading

BORDERLINES – WHY WHAT WHEN WHERE HOW

Borderlines is a collection of thought pieces, some creative, some direct accounts, some memoirs, all true. Borderlines collects stories from people who are not fleeing from one country to another, but rather chose to move, or were made to do so by a series of non-threatening circumstances. In these stories there is anger, hope, disappointment, joy, fear, optimism. They are all different, and yet all striking in their approach to the subject matter.

Borderlines aims to show the reality of migration, and how we are all, in our own way, migrants.Continue Reading

FAMILY PLANNING

1

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

1. Policy

They watched him play alone
with teddies in a queue
for so long
that sometimes when drunk
they made love to be illegal, but

rumour has it the lady from
the tea-shop had her second
needled out
in the dark places between
the legal buildings.Continue Reading

THE PEOPLE WANT

by Jo Thompson

Hard to look, hard to understand
the softness of his drowned bones
rocked here by the waters.

How quickly banners can catch alight,
a mumble in the crowd growing up,
becoming certain of itself: the people
want to topple the regime. All’s parched,
and everywhere the green sickens yellow.
Outstretched hands wither into fists.Continue Reading

ROBIN SONG

1

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

I descend / Toward the brink… – Thomas Hardy

The robin pegs its washing on the line, following a feud
in which a red snuck its way into whites. Its dark eyes
probe the meadow, robed in dismembered scarecrows.

It seethes at a pinkish shirt, and curtly calls for the culprit
to come forward. I will find you, it chirps, I will take joy
in severing your spinal cord, in hanging you to dry.Continue Reading

THE PLACE FOR POETRY: FRAGMENT AND PROCESS

1

by Carmina Masoliver

‘The Place for Poetry’ conference at Goldsmiths took place from the 7-8th May, and I attended it with She Grrrowls, as well as within my poetry collective, Kid Glove.

I arrived in time for the first panel session, and I chose to attend ‘Fragment and Process’. This featured three women; the equal representation of gender throughout the conference was something refreshing. In fact, without realising it I solely saw women presenting their papers that day. Susan Watson spoke about translations of Sappho, with Anne Carson at the centre. This was the first talk that inspired me to take note of unfamiliar authors and texts. Watson provoked interest from the onset, when she explained that the original Greek contained feminine endings, indicating the poet was a woman, whilst in the English translation, the gender of the speaker was not prescribed in this way.Continue Reading

WE’LL DIE APART

by Alex Valente

Original Italian ‘Moriremo lontani’, by Cristina Campo (1923-1977)

We’ll die apart. It’ll be much
if I rest my cheek in our palm
for New Year’s; if in my own
you will trace another migration

Continue Reading