Open and Shut.

Locked.

The door is locked.

I can see the door is locked.

I can see from here that the door is locked.

I can see from here, from where I’m standing, that the door is locked and that the chain’s on and that the bolts go across. Look, it’s locked.

The door is locked.

I can see from here, from where I’m standing, that the chain’s on and that the bolts go across. And I can see the clock on the alarm, the clock that would raise the alarm, would ring its bell. The silent alarm clock set to ring its bell, its bell louder than the door bell, silent, but it won’t ring as the door is locked. Check it. It’s locked.

I can see those things and I can hear the noisy tick-tock of the kitchen clock. Tick. Tock. The tick and the tock of the kitchen clock. Tick and tock, back and forth, like the swinging back and forth of a pendulum, like the swinging back and forth of a pendulum in a grandfather clock, tick and tock, like the pendulum in my grandfather’s grandfather clock, like the swinging open of the front door, except the front door can’t swing open because it’s locked. Tick. Tock.

The door is locked.

I can imagine the pendulum swinging back and forth, ticking and tocking, and I can imagine the minute hand turning, the hand turning, like I can imagine my hand turning the key in this lock, this key, my hand turning and this key turning and the door unlocking. The door is unlocked. I’ve unlocked the door. No! I’ve only imagined it.

Concentrate.

Now remember this: feet straight, hand on the handle, one two three four, the door is locked. Remember this time, 23:57, the time on the clock when you checked the door was locked. Check it. It’s locked.

In the quiet I can hear the ticking of the clock and the clicking of the fridge. The fridge door is shut and the front door is shut.

The door is shut.

The door is shut and I can still hear the clicking and ticking of the fridge and the dripping and dropping of the rain, of the raindrops dropping from the porch, a raindrop prelude this dripping of the water on the other side of the door, the shut door. I can still hear this dripping, can hear it like water dripping and dropping from a tap. It’s like water dripping from the taps. Is that dripping noise coming from the kitchen taps? Is the house flooding? No. I’ve already checked. The taps are off and off. The dripping noise is coming from outside, from the other side of the door, the shut door.

Concentrate. Now remember this: feet straight, hand on the handle, five six seven eight, the door is locked. Remember this time, 00:02, the time on the clock when you checked the door was locked. Check it. It’s locked.

Concentrate.

Now really concentrate.

Now remember all this and go to bed. Step and step and stop and check. Check again to check your anxiety. Remember all this checking and this resistance and at 00:04 walk away. Trust yourself. Turn the light out. Don’t go back. Never go back.

This is the last time.

Locked.

JAMES HOLDEN
culturalwriter.co.uk

Winter.

You’ve been waking to the sound of men
scraping ice from their windscreens

piling the sleep from the glass
frost cracking under heavy shoes

the clean choke of engines
reminds you of dreams in rooms

without windows your lover’s
arms bent back you turn away

but the crack brings you back
to these morning-breakers

rubbing their hands checking
the mirror each with their own

nightmare tensed like a shovel
over the skin of another

morning facing the exhaustion
of ever-thickening snow

DANIEL SLUMAN



Orgreave

The thundering of hooves reverberates through time
Scarlet rivulets adorn the breakfast table
As the face of the hero stares out shockingly
The 'assaults are on us all' we're told.

Facing lines of lies. In blue and black
Uniform letters. Spelling trouble.
The weight of which will bear down
On generations yet to be lost.

But we don't get the view of those
whose love of the sound of cork on willow
Felt the blow of wood on flesh and bone
From bat to baton, in cricket weather.

An early morning picnic with no food
Before they paid the price, or charge, for work.
Maybe, true sounds will be heard one day
But there'll be no winners.

Not for the 'Enemy within'
Not for any of us.
Not just 'bread on t'table' or 'ten bob for t'gas'
But a whole community with no breadwinners

A bank of blue with perspex sheen
That, can reflect no pride now. Manipulated. Orchestrated.
The rising crescendo of a Zulu beat
The percussion of orchestration

But that cannot truly frighten those who face odourless, invisible gas
Not like their only real fear. The future.
Rising great sods of dew covered earth. That thundering is coming on
Deep underground, it's the sound of destruction by compression

Here, it rings the destruction of heritage by oppression
But it can't match the Brass volume of community strength.
With impunity, a waved wage slip is soon spent up
With unity, a Branch Banner will always hold value.

KEV TITTERTON