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  April 2017
volume 14 number 1
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  John LaMar Elison
  Gabriella Garofalo
  John Grey
  Dani Raschel Jiménez
  Scott C. Kaestner
  Rick Lupert
  Afric McGlinchey
  Bethany W Pope
  Sanjeev Sethi
 
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Bethany W Pope April 2017
   

 

bio


photo by marie c lecrivain

    Bethany W Pope is an award winning writer. She received her PhD from Aberystwyth University's Creative Writing program, and her MA from the University of Wales Trinity St David. She has published several collections of poetry: A Radiance (Cultured Llama, 2012), Crown of Thorns (Oneiros Books, 2013), The Gospel of Flies (Writing Knights Press 2014), and Undisturbed Circles (Lapwing, 2014). Her collection The Rag and Boneyard, was published October 2016 by Indigo Dreams and her chapbook Among The White Roots, Will be released by Three Drops Press next Autumn 2017. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in June 2016.

   

 

Salvage

I saw the teeth gleaming out of the bank
while I was standing knee deep in water
which smelled of the sewer because a sewer
ran into it. I'd been wading for miles,
seeking adventure (as ten-year-olds do).
Knock, and the door shall be opened unto
you; seek, and ye shall find. The riverbed
was thick with pungent brown slime. The fish who
fed on this substance, peeling it in strips
from the sand, had flat, wide teeth - like a sheep's -
and their backs sprouted retractable spines,
tipped in something venomous. The molars
I spied in the stratified wall belonged
to something else. They were large, orange, with
deep ridges running across the top. I
fingered them out of the mud, exposing
a long, brownish jaw. Horses don't live well
in Florida. The heat is intense, swamps
rot hooves; field-creatures never stand a chance.
We are a species of meddlers; change
is like a drug to us. The armored man
who rode this beast through water which rose to
its withers carried a Spanish flag on
his shield - which he used to batter natives
senseless. He left his horse behind where it
fell. His children channeled the swamp into
a sea-draining river. Their children filled
that river with sludge. I was no different.
I followed those same urges, that power-
thrill which comes from an irrevocable
act. I wiggled the teeth around in their
sockets, waiting for the centuries to give.

copyright 2017 Bethany W Pope

   

 

Archaeologists

Claire spoke about the ancient cesspit she
uncovered in Oxfordshire, buried under
many other middens. She peeled back layers
of history, one at a time, as though
they were thin, onion-skin Bible-pages.
She pierced the reek of a nineteen-fifties
sewer, broke the chapel-like bricks of a
Victorian outhouse, scooped hardened shards
of Tudor tableware from white pig-bones.
Eventually, four metres down, she found
a wet, perfectly smooth, plug of pale clay,
roughly the size of a street-bound drain-grate.
Crow's feet closed, clutching her eyes. She said, "It
was insipid, a sick yellow against
the dried, red ground. My ex-partner tapped it
with the blade of his shovel. When he flipped
it over, it trailed limp blades of grass, still
green and fresh-looking, anaerobically
preserved. Underneath, the shit welled up, brown
and noxious - a smell left over from the
twelfth century. We all had to clear out
and that was hard because we were so deep
that everything had to be lowered down
with a winch and pulley. It was several
days before we could breathe." She smiles, eyes bright
and blue beneath her close-cropped white hair. "It
was amazing; wonderful and awful
at the same time. Nothing stays lost. It's all
dug up again." I stayed still, stared at my
hands, and thought about God. Everything foul,
every denial we forge about our
natures seeps through, in the end. It's all there,
waiting to educate us, alive (if
fraught), even in a stark absence of air.

copyright 2017 Bethany W Pope