Friday 30 September 2011

Skint Week - Brendan Gisby, Leela Soma, Ross Wilson, Gordon Urquhart and Brian Hill

The Scavenger by Brendan Gisby

He’ll arrive home with his haul of coins; coppers mostly, tossed into the river for good luck by train passengers crossing the bridge. He’ll soak the coins in soapy water. Later, he’ll scrub them with a nailbrush. He’ll clean off the mud and the slime, but he won’t be able to remove the telltale blue-green signs of verdigris.

His wife will complain about the money, as if it carries a stigma. ‘You can scrub it all you like, but it’ll always look and smell of the Forth Bridge.’

He’ll smile and shrug. ‘There’s no shame in being poor,’ he’ll reply.

*     *     *

Brendan Gisby was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, halfway through the 20th century, and was brought up just along the road in South Queensferry (the Ferry) in the shadow of the world-famous Forth Bridge. He has published two novels, "The Island of Whispers" and "The Olive Branch"; a collection of short stories about growing up in the Ferry during the 1950's and 1960's, "Ferry Tales"; and a biography of his late father, "The Bookie’s Runner". His author's website can be found here. Brendan is also the founder of McStorytellers, a website which showcases the work of Scottish-connected short story writers.


Desert Dreams by Leela Soma

His body lay in the mortuary. The Company, the Indian Government and the UAE Government argued over repatriating the body.

Suman had arrived in Dubai to build one of the skyscrapers that rose from nothing. The company laid off the workers when the building boom went bust. His simple dream of providing a decent life back home in Kerala for his family evaporated. Beholden to the moneylender and desperate, he threw himself off the unfinished ninetieth floor. His dreams splattered on the sand with his lifeless body.

He remained an untouchable in birth and death.

*     *     *

Leela Soma, born in Madras, now Chennai, lives in Glasgow, Scotland. Her first novel, 'Twice Born', was published in December 2008. A short story, 'Ayah', has been published in SQA’s ‘Write Times’. Articles and poems have been published in the magazine, ‘New Voices’, the literary magazine of the Federation of Writers Scotland, and a poem in 'Gutter' magazine's 05 issue. Her second novel, 'Bombay Baby', is with the publishers and will be launched in the autumn of this year.
Her work reflects her experiences as a first generation Indo-Scot.


WORTH by Ross Wilson

A finger contacts a pupil.
A twenty-five year old face,
ten years ahead of itself,
blinks into focus.

A twisted sneer turns
from the mirror.
A hand grabs flab
bulging off a belly.

Irn Bru washes breakfast down –
crisps and diet pills.
A lip hooks a fag,
pink-nailed hands fill

clothes with tattooed limbs.
Chapped lips cough, cursing
that fuckin' place
where pettiness chokes the air

like the nooses her pierced lip puffs
off a crabbit sneer.
A sour breath wheezes
from a face – a bitter wind.

And because some things
are hard to face,
her eyes glisten
under contacts circled by

mascara-snares blinking shut
on a mind full of its own shit.
On a world viewed through
lashes bared like teeth.

On a life existed, not lived,
£5:93 by the hour –
for that’s what they tell her
she’s worth.

*     *     *

Ross Wilson comes fae Fife and his first chapbook will be published by Calder Wood Press in November.


Infrastructure by Gordon Urquhart

Back of Munlochy, in the testing winter of 2010.
Cracks, frost widened, like dead pigeons under pines
became potholes, aggravated by thaw and Spring drivers, warm in fourbys.
Rattling the tarmac, tutting in the knowledge that repair would come.

In Nyimba, on the Great East Road, they make do.
Descendents of trappers, they cover hollows with sticks and leaves.
Hedge fund managers.
Buses swerve; slowing down sometimes, toppling others,
Asphalt margins crumbling into sand, narrowing daily.

The elephants are gone,
and the luxury coaches and infrequent lorries,
are fast and inedible.

*     *     *

Gordon Urquhart is a Scoattish Heelander living in Zambia, where his short attention span attracts less attention. He likes making wee films about animals, portmanteau electronic music, his children, Inverness Caley Thistle, history and the bittersweet prospect of the death of capitalism. Though she gets irritated by his sarcasm, he loves his wife. He thinks he isn't nearly sarcastic enough.


Skint by Brian Hill

The earth, granular,
Flayed of whatever flesh
Clothed it.

Like some blood,
Or a river’s water,
Ran till the season’s end
Where dryness,
Spendthrift time,
Brought night,
Dead of it:
3 AM.

Motion’s discord,
Accumulation’s ebb and flow,
Strips here and now
Of everything.

Now yours, now mine,
Leaves each one of us

Like winter,
Freezes a useless asset,
Paints a death’s head
On imaginary life,
Skin and bone:
Only the last remains.

In the earth,
Skeletons endure.

*     *     *

Brian Hill is designer and filmmaker living in the wilds of Moray. He was, and still is, a founder member of Brian and the Brains and has also been known as the rhyme-slinger, Hilly cunctator, the cartoon cowboy, and latterly the planetarium poet. In between he has teased a living in the voluntary sector, designed for money and made tiny movies. He did have something published once and has written (and performed) many poems on astronomy, the cosmos and our heathen past, usually in complete darkness. His last public work was a voice over and short poem for Gill Russell’s Long Wave installation at the Clan Donald Centre in Skye, late 2010.


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