Speed Run

On.
Controller select,
Level select,
Go.

[Start the clock]

Cut the cut sequence,
Stick forward and run,
Strafe right, strafe left,
Shoot the door, reload.

This is a life fully optimised,
With all the idleness taken out
Of my idle pastimes.

I dream of the fastest runs,
Of perfect acts of intelligence;
Of worlds co-opted,
Of all objectives met.

Looking down eliminates lag time:
It avoids unnecessary eye contact
And frames, those parergonal pixels.

Through the door,
Strafe right,
Strafe left,
And exit.

[Stop the clock]

Cut sequence commences, credits roll.

James Holden

Pennine Cat

You can’t feel everyone’s pain
Yet I felt his, enough to make you cry

When they scraped the cat off the Macc Road with a spade.
‘But it’s only a cat,’ they said behind his back.

Try telling him that, a cat for company
Through winter’s falling snow and rain

Lashed at black Pennine hills’ Millstone Grit house
Black as the nightshift cat

Crawling over cold slag and coal
To kill the smallest mouse and vole.

Purring distant galaxies in its eyes
Bluer than Blue John in Blue John mines.

Kinship with his dust, bone and brain
This clever cat pawed open hook shut doors

Survived removal from red brick to green fields
A city cat, a country cat, two of nine lives.

Could never have a cat like that again
He never would, up until the day he died.

Sorrow – the price for loving something
For being alive. Thinking of the cat, he cried.
So did I.

Julian Colton