I cannot enjoy one poem by Shelley and am delighted by every line of William Barnes, but I know perfectly well that Shelley is a major poet, and Barnes a minor one.’ - WH Auden, Nineteenth-Century Minor Poets
Am I a hedonist to say that pleasure’s all there is, really?
To read alone is worthy of the cause. Is that a statement so profane?
I shall confess, my Lord, I just don’t care, when all’s been writ, who holds the gilded glove.
I’ll salt my sweet ambrosia with pulp. And you can say I lard my soul with crap.
When the famous poetess passed out in her mashed potatoes on Christmas Eve, 1978, her husband rolled his eyes and her two children carried on glumly chewing. It was a semi-regular performance, the passing out act. George wondered how he'd ended up marrying the silly bitch.
Once on a literary tour, they'd been besieged by girls who seemed to regard him with envy for having such unfettered access to their mentally unstable idol. He'd happily switch places with any of them, or the middle-aged sad-sack men who worried at her ankles at luncheons. Two years ago she'd had a brief affair...
The hotel was more populated than the proprietor, a tall and thin man, had ever seen it.
He said as much to Abigail as he led her to her room. 'The usual ghosthunters?' she asked. The proprietor paused on the landing. Beside him was a small Gothic window looking out on the forest that ran parallel to the hotel.
Opposite the hotel was a bluff that plummeted a hundred feet down to wind and seaswept rocks. 'I don't like to talk about them' he said, referring to the ghosthunters. Abigail left the matter there and followed him to her room.
She walked up to me as I collected firewood. She giggled and kissed me on the lips, this grown woman, and I felt bashful but not cross, nor any sort of mad. I felt Woman was only of the shaming dross, once she had left and I was left alone. What else to call my spitting on the throne but sin? I’ll say it clear: I wanted her again. Somehow I knew. I’d see her in the woods that night.
Her hips were wide, and freckled fine as dew. Her shoulders too. In among the fallen locks of thick red hair I found the Sapphic witch anew;...
flash fiction in response to this writing prompt: “Those who don’t care, once cared too much.” Invent a fictional villain using this phrase.”
The old woman sighed and took off her gardening gloves. The detectives were retreating down the path. It had been a long interview, but she’d comported herself well, she knew. Offering them tea and cake, all manner of resplendent fancies cobbled together from store-bought flour and cinnamon, derived from “how to cheat” cookery videos that her social worker cued up for her on YouTube.
After all, you don’t dress all in black, skulk in the shadows ..., weigh eight stone and hide in your college room doing equations, then get into heroin and do it until you die at the age of 39, alone in your west London flat, to be found the next day by the cleaner, because you feel loved and nurtured by a family of whom you are intensely proud, do you?" - Giles Coren, "This is one Mosley whose name should live on", The Times
on reading that Oxford University is planning to end the Alexander Mosley Charitable Trust, due to the namesake's father's and grandparents' ties to Fascism...
Sometimes I think about God, or any force personified as a robe-and-sandals man, hacking away at my flesh. Tearing away all the flab, the veins, fat, and muscle, until just bones remain. And inside that the mortal strain allowed at last to step beyond the bars of its profane prison.
All flesh is profane. That's why the Mohawk Saint tried to burn a path out of hers. With hot coals on the wild shore, Heaven looming as a cross out on the dark water. The core of time degrades all flesh.
Camera dollying backward across the hall and then down the stairs, around cornices and past spindles, bollards, the British boarding house sublime. The creep has just walked in with her, his new victim, a woman we've seen and got to know as an East End girl of sharp manners but kind and loyal heart, a local, friend, barmaid, lover. We also know who he is. Heartless rapist, murderer. Frenzied ripper.
The camera leaves and crosses the street. We see the woman's window, square and blank, and though we don’t see what’s...
The saloon doors swung shut and a new person entered the establishment to no particular fanfare or even notice. Whorehouse music filled the room, and in a corner Rancher Pete had one of the regular girls all but pinned up against a wall.
It had been years since Pete was a rancher, before what he called the government men had come and taken his ranch away from him, forcing him to make money the dishonest way. Challenging gunslingers to duels and then collecting what was bet against him at best, outright pillage at worst. He had an ugly wound covering half of his face which some...
Blue, pink, yellow, green, and white. The stones are in a rough circle on the bench between us. It’s a blisteringly cold Halloween. While walking here I saw pumpkins watch the world go by from front gardens, faces in an audience, most smiling, one rather furious in what must have been an esoteric flourish of the artist. More than one house had a bloody handprint on the door’s glass. The door of what I knew was a childless couple’s house had a handwritten sign saying “no trick or treaters PLEASE!”
We sit in a shelter with a clock in its spire, like the top of a church that stretches...