On 13th February 2021, the poet Matthew Dickman posted on Instagram: ‘I wish the poem I wrote 14 years ago was still true.’ The poem in question is ‘Chick Corea is Alive and Well’ – an elegy for the jazz pianist, written fourteen years before his death.
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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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.
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.
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.
by Gary Olson
Content warning: mentions mass murder and drone warfare
Mr. Robert Walpole
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,
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.
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,
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.
by Alex Valente
Original Italian by Laura Accerboni (1985-), from ‘La parte dell’annegato’
We are interesting
Our arms are
as are our teeth,
every sign of resistance
shows something interesting.
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
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