16MM VENUS 1973

She comes up out of the sea

and she is all blond –

she has lost her bikini;

the shark of her smile took it. She

reaches back; wrings brassy hair

in a wet mass. She wants to come over,

primp, turn around – pray her ass be kissed.

Her eyes glint sea-green; her breasts float

large and gently sloped as distant breakers;

nipples buoys; bush surf white. She

straddles the screen. Between the crack

of her butt you glimpse a sunsquint;

close eyes to sniff the vision burst.

Your throat detects encircling cigarettes

and bad cigars, old coats, stale popcorn;

knees cracking; torn leather seats creaking…

Open the eyes – to catch a last sneer,

as she steers her posterior down on the

mouth of the camera, turning all dark

in the must you breathe.

Willie Smith

Short stories


     The Journey Perilous, right?   When you start out, you never know where you’ll end up.   This blank canvas, it’s terra incognita. You make your tracks, then begin to follow them.   It’s risky.   You’re creating from nothing.

     What you’re aiming for, always, is the Ultimate Picture – the one that releases you from life, that’ll live in place of you.   Destination Nirvana, right?

     Help me tack it down, okay?

     Aristotle said a work of art purges the spectator.   Fact, it’s the artist who’s purged, if it’s successful.   The painting takes over, starts to come of itself.   It’s like the perfect shit.

     I’ll lay in some white first.   Let it pool in there.   Reminds me of whitewash on sacking.   As a kid, every spring, whitewash the barn.   Used to cut head and armholes in sacks for smocks, then just slosh it on.   Know the Catskills in spring?   Wouldn’t want to go back, though.   Your camera loaded?

     How about a little antinomy here?   Splash in some black before the white dries.   Funny, you think, black is the darkest colour, fact it’s the lightest, in weight.   And white – it’s pure, pure light, but most whites are lead, pure poison.   It’s these little quirks that make life, don’t you think?

     Click away but no flash, okay?   The black’s bleeding into the white, like marbling.      We used to go to Utica once a month, for Pa to do his business, while Mom took us  for our treat, for working hard.   In summer we’d go to this Italian ice-cream parlour.   They had real marble-top tables, real Italian ice-cream, real Italian flies.   Ice-cream came in tall glasses with long spoons.  We smuggled one of the glasses out once, presented it to Pa on his birthday, for highballs.   He didn’t like us going there really, said  he could get a bushel of feed for the cost of the ice-cream.

     So let’s have some ice-cream colours in this, just for Pa.   Have to mix them off the canvas, get the exact shades.   Pistachio.  Scoop of strawberry.

     A sleepy life and a painless death.  Not such a bad thing, I sometimes think.   Mom  must have missed him, I guess, but she didn’t show it.   We kids just thought in terms of whinge-free treats, but of course, there were fewer of them, what with the hired hand, then the Depression.

     We got to the ocean though.   Mom took us to Portsmouth.   I was around age nine,  I guess.   That first glimpse of it – the colour, sparkle.    Ultramarine.   Straight from the can.

     Let’s make a few waves.   Feather in some white, monastral green. 

     Beginning to look like the sea in Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.

     I fell for Janine because of that.   She had that long, corn-brown hair.   She modelled for us, at the Art Students League.   Probably why they took her on.   I didn’t think I stood a chance.

     I said to her, If I blow in your ear, would you come out with me?   That was a Botticelli Birth of Venus joke.   She didn’t get it either, but it broke the ice.

     Yellow ochre.        Dribble in some raw sienna.

     Don’t look right, somehow.   You got a comb?

     What the hell, I’ll leave the teeth in.

     Darker now, almost umber, but she’s still a good-looking woman.

     Pass the brush, the six-inch, would you?

     Band of cobalt.   Another, mirror it.  Splatter in some lemon.  Cadmium red.

     Our first date, League party.   They’d hired a night boat up the Hudson.   Jazz.   Lights pepping up the river.

     Lights went out, one by one, the shit-head had unscrewed the bulbs, completely dark, lamp black, he’s top of the railing, yelling, I’m gonna jump, I’m gonna jump.  I shoulda shouted, Jump, then.   Asshole.

     She asked me who it was, casual like, but I could tell she was intrigued.  Worked out okay, though, with the dark, the commotion, I kissed her, got my fingers into her hair at last, she didn’t pull away, I knew it was going to be okay.

     Dated steady after that.

     Chrome oxide, mix in a little Prussian blue.

     She had a dress that colour.   Used to slip it over her head after modelling, run out  to me, shoes in her hand.   Felt proud.   There were better painters there than me, better lookers too.   I was plenty ambitious, but at that stage, you’re unfocussed, know what I mean?

     Texture’s not right.  Pass me a sponge, would you?

     Trail in a little cerulean blue.  Let’s see how it’s doing.

     Bit too pretty, needs beefing up.  How ’bout a few big swirls of vermilion?

     Blood red.   Sonofabitch.

     We were at this party, Artists Union.  Janine’s sitting on the sofa, he comes up from behind, leans over, says to her, You’re in a period, right?   I can tell these things, I like a woman when she bleeds.   Motherfuckn shit-head.  Janine’s just rigid, sorta mesmerised.   I started taking a swing, but coupla guys pulled him away, out the door.   Next thing, he’s sickin up on the sidewalk.

     We left early.   I apologized, I felt kinda responsible, fellow-artist sorta thing.   She just said, He is rather primitive, isn’t he?   I got to feeling she’d enjoyed it. I said, Okay, let’s see you bleed both ends, smacked her in the mouth.   Only time in my life I ever hit a woman.

     This is still too fuckn tame.   Look, take these wire-cutters, get me a length of barbed wire from the fence, would you do that?

     I’ll coil it round the red, fence it in.

     Used to go on picnics when we were first married.   Only eating out we could afford, apart from gallery openings.   She would lie there in the grass, I’d fan out her hair, plait it into the grass.   She’d get up like Gulliver, pulling the grass with her, go home with it still tangled.

     Why don’t I try that?   Hooker’s green, lighten it a little, trickle it into the ochre.

Through the comb.   Let it thicken out into roots, fronds.

     Potted fuckn palms.

     Two months later, gallery opening.   Went by myself, just in case.   He looked straight through me, didn’t seem to recognise me.   He was with a crowd, they were laughing, he was quiet.   He walks to the corner of the gallery, unbuttons, pisses into the potted palm.   Then he half turns, looks straight at me as he buttons his fly, sorta smirk on  his face.   I wanted to strangle him. 

     Pass me the spray-gun.   Can of black Duco.

     Obliterate the green and ochre.

     That look like a torso to you?

     God, I’m going figurative again.   Thought I was through with that.

     He used to curse Picasso.   Everything he turned to, Picasso had been there first.   Then he sorta broke through, found his own field.

     Now we feel the same about him.   Where do you go after Abstraction?   Have to keep pushing against the fence, moving that much further out, get out from the shadow.

Journey Perilous.

     Sometimes I feel I’m almost there.

     Life is how it is.   Ever feel like crying because of that?  The endless shimmering potentialities have settled into this particular pattern?   And it’s this absurdly particular shimmer you’re after.

     What the hell, let’s give it a head.

     Go the whole hog, stick on some buttons. Would you mind?  Mine’s a zip.

     This is beginning to have possibilities.  This could just be it.   If I balance the red  and black with a mass of white, impasto –

     Into the void.

     Ever read the coroner’s report?   Oldsmobile was doing seventy.  He was catapulted out.   Flew fifty feet, ten feet from the ground, straight into the tree, CKLOOLP.  Christ.   Straight through the sound-barrier, right?

     Must’ve looked like one of Chagall’s flying figures.

     Know the Falling Angel?   Man up in the top left, sailing through the air.   I keep  thinking of that.

     This is beginning to come together, you know?  I think I’m nearly there, I think I’m reaching it.   Just needs –

     Cut me another piece of barbed wire, okay?

     I’ll just coil it, pin it –

     That look like a halo to you?                   

David Rose

Short stories

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

We decided to hang Alfred. Viv went for rope. Tom went for a chair. I waited and talked with Alfred. We talked about spaceships and spacemen. Alfred was curious if spacemen ever asked, Are we there yet. Alfred was always asking, are we there yet. Tom returned with a chair. It was an old Victorian chair. It had once belonged to Tom’s great-grandfather. Alfred tested the chair. He jumped up and down on the chair. The chair was sturdy. Viv returned with some wool, she could not find any rope. Alfred tested the wool. It snapped. Tom called Viv a bad name. Viv threatened to cry. Before she could fill the room with sobs, Alfred said he knew where there was rope. Viv smiled and hugged Alfred. Viv was very happy. Alfred left room. We need a bible, said Viv. Eliot and Viv’s parents being atheists allowed no bible in the house. I have something in my bedroom, said Viv. We told her to go. Viv returned with Le Petit Prince. We were very happy with Le Petit Prince. I said I would read from Le Petit Prince while Alfred pushed off the chair. Alfred returned. He had an armful of sturdy rope. Eliot being good with knots fashioned a noose. He placed the noose over Alfred’s head. It looked very professional. Alfred rearranged the noose; he was extremely fastidious. Tom helped Alfred up onto the chair. Alfred threw the end of the rope over the chandelier. Tom caught the rope and tied the rope to the doorknob. Alfred pulled the rope to test the rope, it was sturdy, it would hold. Viv touched Alfred on the knee, lovingly. He looked down and smiled. I started to read from Le Petit Prince.

Paul Kavanagh


narrowing that james denim lichen to start a funnel of the tornado points

circles are like the lego starfish
a red map of the conditions here in the zoo

yogurt from a cloud
a new iron set with the magnetic voice

to guess up on the fifth ave dream
to worry about the low rise denim nikes

are you a super being in need of a haircut?
one of the fountain brains to go oodling

the nothing pants and a half
are you a blanket bumbler?

J.D. Nelson

originally appeared in Mannequin Haus Issue XII

Short stories


     I poured a finger of scotch into a coffee cup. Ate the cup. Licked up the spilled scotch. Chewed the mouth of the fifth down to the neck. Was wolfing the table leg, when mother came in to iron some bugs out of her pocket calculator; couldn’t help but notice the ruined fifth, the cup nowhere, the table wobbly on three legs.

     She threatened to knuckle down and hand it to me. But I trumped her rump. Tugged the table leg out of my throat. Clubbed her to death.

     Blood spattered the venetian blinds. Teeth rattled the radiator. One eye popped into the toaster. And mother slumped to the foot of the refrigerator.

     I threw up a window. Sat on a foot stool. Re-swallowed the table leg. Munched on the arm of a chair till I was stuffed. Then jerked down the wall phone and ate out the mouthpiece and considered sucking the news off the tv.

     But decided instead to put the mouth of a firearm to my temple and pray.

Willie Smith

Short stories

Karl Marx’s Beard

1. Karl Marx’s beard is now more famous than Karl Marx’s books.

2. Karl Marx once contemplated shaving off the beard but was told by his agent “If you shave off the beard your Capital will fall exponentially.”

3. Karl Marx was chased out of France because the French (reported) hated (French being French and the beard being Karl Marx’s and not Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s, say) Karl Marx’s beard. The French thought the beard (reported) too outré. Karl Marx was chased out of Belgium because the men of Belgium were jealous of Karl Marx’s beard. It is believed that both mobs that chased Karl Marx carried razors and cutthroats and planned on shaving Karl Marx and using the beard to entice tourists to France and Belgium. It was the booming years of tourism.  

4. Karl Marx never combed the beard. Karl Marx instead of buying a comb spent the money on beer.

5. The beard was born on 4 May 1818 and so was a day older than Karl Marx.

6. Karl Marx’s twenty-one children tried but could not grow a beard.  Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam, Eliot, Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv took after their mother, Jenny von Westphalen. One night, an inebriated, bellicose Lee tried to remove his father’s beard but failed. Viv showed her father a picture of Sigmund Freud and told her father that if he had a smaller beard, he would collect more disciples and patrons – and money.  Sam went into business selling fake Karl Marx’s beards. The business failed. The beards were cheaply made. The grey paint ran in wet weather and after a month or so the beards fell apart. He was sued (successfully) by a boy in Chicago USA that poked out an eye with the wire that wrapped around the ear to keep the beard in place.  Elizabeth painted the beard over and over again but she was a lousy painter. William published the biography of the beard. It was full of mendacity and slander. Wendy married a man without a beard. Eliot married a man with a beard. Jane had twenty-two children and called the boys and girls Karl.  She loved her father. Sam worked in pornographic movies (gay & straight) where he played his father. The beard never got in the way of a money shot. Larry the oldest child created a Utopia that quickly dissolved into a Dystopia.  He ended up in prison for drug dealing.  

7. Friedrich Engels had a beard made for him in one of his Manchester factories after having a delightful meal with Karl Marx. Their first conversation (recorded verbatim by Mary Burns) was a critique of English food.  Their second conversation (recorded verbatim by Mary Burns) was a critique of the English weather. Their third conversation (recorded verbatim by Mary Burns) was a critique of English football.  They both agreed that the English game was in need of less flair and more of a German Teutonic approach.

8. Friedrich Engels offered to buy Karl Marx’s beard for Mary Burns. She had designs on making the beard into a dress.

9.  Jenny von Westphalen stroked Karl Marx’s beard on their first date.

10. Americans still hate Karl Marx’s beard. “It’s the Devil’s beard!” says the Preacher of the Westboro Baptist Church.

11. For the Hipsters of London Karl Marx’s beard was “the shit.” This, I think, means good.

12.  Three families lived in Karl Marx’s beard. There were the Allen-Montagues, the Smiths, and the McCoys. The three families lived in a precarious equilibrium, but lived nevertheless. The Allen-Montagues lived close to the mouth. The Smiths lived between the black and the grey. The McCoys had to cling to the ends of the beard. The Allen-Montagues spent most of their time perched on Karl Marx’s lips, drinking champagne, eating caviar and enjoying the view. The Smiths employed the McCoys to remove deadends and dead skin. Allen-Montagues owned the scissors.  

13. The beard wanted Karl Marx to write Romances Novels and Historical novels and Romances/Historical novels. Karl Marx wrote Capital.  James Joyce being a competitive man after trying to write another unreadable book like Capital tried to grow a Karl Marx’s beard and failed.

14. Karl Marx’s beard ran away one day with the goal of returning to Germany. The beard got as far as Canterbury. The police called Karl Marx and asked him to come down to Canterbury and pick up the wayward beard. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had a pleasant drive from London to Canterbury. Their fourth conversation (recorded verbatim by Mary Burns) was a critique of the Canterbury Tales. Just outside of Canterbury they stopped the critique of the Canterbury Tales and hit upon the ideas that would form The Manifesto of the Communist Party.

15. Three men from the London Society of famous and infamous Beards arrived at the Marxs’ home on the night Karl Marx manifested signs of moribundity. They had a check that they wanted to present to Jenny von Westphalen for the acquisition of Karl Marx’s beard. Being in a penurious state of affairs, Jenny von Westphalen had no alternative other than to sell the beard to the London Society of famous and infamous Beards. With the money, Jenny von Westphalen erected the Memorial to Karl Marx, East Highgate Cemetery, London UK. The Marxs were hopeless with money. The London Society of famous and infamous Beards was bombed by Hitler’s Luftwaffe. When hearing the news that the Luftwaffe had destroyed the beard of Karl Marx, Hitler (reported) stroked his little (LITTLE) mustache and tittered puerilely.

Larry Caomhánach


twilight isles

I think you may be


When you see your sunburnt feet.

Remembering the traders

You bought trinkets from.

When the sunlit


Of the twilight

Turn to dreams

And everything

Sounds empty

In the photograph.

There is time to fall


And sometimes time

To seize

You can’t catch the

Feeling of a hug

In pictures.

The strident lions

Stamp their ground

And gently play their song


This is what we sing

And what you’re working for.

My hip was bitten by

A windy door

Can’t set my feet

Everywhere I look just looks like


The tearing tides just


Strip the drifting shores I mind

Put them far behind

Shipped away

To twilight isles where I can’t find


Stuart Knowles

Short stories

Extract from The Mindshaft

The Continental Baths was the most exciting club of the lot and host to the social register on Fridays. The Baths were on the West Side above Columbus Circle, in an old building: eleven dollars entry. The dance floor was alongside a very large swimming pool with fountains, surrounded by beach chairs. Off to the side was a labyrinthine white-tiled Turkish bath whose corridors ended in pitch black; the scalding steam took your breath away. In the darkest recesses a continuous orgy was under way, but the heat was so searing only the most intrepid could get it up. Besides the Turkish bath, there were saunas, a hundred bedrooms, a restaurant, a bar, a games room, and a hairdresser’s, back-rooms with bunks, pitch-black orgy rooms and a sun-roof; on a weekend it would be packed. It was possible to live there–and at eleven dollars a night cheaper than a hotel or apartment. I met one young man who had lived there for three months; he had only left the building a couple of times.

Like the desert, though, the Baths played disturbing tricks; down there time dissolved you in the shadows. An afternoon passed in seconds.

It is regrettable that such places for erotic experience—for limitless anonymous encounters—do not yet exist for heterosexuals. For would it not in effect be marvelous to have the power, at any hour of the day or night, to enter a place equipped with all the comforts and all the possibilities that one might imagine, and to meet there a body at once tangible and fugitive? There is an exceptional possibility in this context to desubjectify oneself, to desubjugate oneself, to desexualize oneself by affirming a non-identity through a kind of plunge beneath the water sufficiently prolonged that one returns from it with none of this appetite, with none of this torment one still feels even after satisfying sexual relationships.

So simple, the appearance of night in a room full of strangers, the maze of hallways wandered as in films, the fracturing of bodies from darkness into light, sounds of plane engines easing.

Published in 1970, Gerald Walker’s novel Cruising centres on a New York City undercover cop who infiltrates the nascent S/M leather scene in the West Village hunting for a gay serial killer. In 1979, William Friedkin adapted the novel for his film of the same name, drafting into the storyline interviews with Randy Jurgensen, who had worked a similar sting in the early 1970s, and articles in the Village Voice by Arthur Bell regarding brutal unsolved killings of habitués of leather bars in New York.


I conceived The Mindshaft as part of my ongoing interest in alternative cultures and its publication naturally follows my previous books – Allen Ginsberg: A Biography, Grave Desire: A Cultural History of Necrophilia, Notes from the Sick Room and Death Mort Tod in its study of transgression, society and the individual. It is also the furthest I have gone so far in my interest in the creative use of collage, appropriation, sampling, sequencing and remixing in literature – a form of literary transgression. It will be an integral part of my overall work in the investigation of being and happiness.

Steve Finbow




There was a point where

the track forked off in a

direction I’d never been.

I wanted to see where it

went. And whenever I

passed this place I always

tried to see further up the

track. One day I decided

enough was enough and

I just got on the elektrichka

and rode there. I went a

little way then I walked

back to my stop.

Caroline Clark

Short stories


     He closes the dressing room door, applause still lapping the stairs.

He lathers his chest with lavender soap, rinses and towels his torso, dresses.

The silk shirt, the linen suit, the English cravat in shades of Verdigris.

He stoops to his spats;  the door opens softly.

     -Magnifico, Cesare, as always.


     -I have clinched Gioconda for September, and for December, Traviata at La Scala.


     -And I have another proposition.


     -We’ll discuss it as we eat.

     -You discuss, I eat.

     -We have the tagliatelle, the cassata, the chianti.

     The chianti scatters shards of lamplight.

     -We have an offer from Columbia.


     -The phonograph company.   They want you to record your voice.


     -It’s a good offer.

     -You think I prostitute my voice, my art?  How much they pay?

     -Three thousand lire, paid in dollars.

     -Is an insult.   Should be hundred times more.   Tell them put another

figaro, figaro, fiiiiigaro.    Besides, I am artist, you think my voice can be squeezed

into cylinders?

     -You owe it to your public, Cesare.   What about your fans who can’t get to the Opera?   Why shouldn’t they hear you in their homes?

     -And where am I when my voice is singing?   You Inglese, you do not understand Art.   Art is sympathica.   I make love to the music, I make love to the audience, they respond, they give me back to myself a hundred, a thousand strengths.   The Manager in Sienna, he say to me, Cesare, you sang like a devil tonight, I say, Angel, he say, Devil, you stoke the fires of the house, I say, Bene, but only to warm myself.   I was big success  there.    I have this suit made to celebrate.   Is the colour of triumph.           


     -Is Burnt Sienna.

     -Accept the offer and you could afford a suit for every colour of the palette.

     -You insult my integrity.

     -Caruso has done it.

     -Pah.  He would.  His father was mechanic, monkeying with machines is in his blood.

     -People all over the world can now hear him sing.

     -They hear Caruso.  Whatever he sing, he is Caruso.   I am like the good lover, I am whatever I am required to be.   I am Alfredo, I am Manrico, I am Rodolfo, I am Faust.   I am Nemorino, Don Alvaro, I am Otello or MacDuff.   I am Edgar, I am –

     -All the more reason for recording your roles.  What will happen when your voice cracks?

     -The wax will crack before my voice.

     -It will happen eventually.

     -Then, like the great lover, I will live in memories.

     -Memories are fickle, inventive.   How long will you be remembered?

A season, a few seasons, until the next great tenor.   These phonographs will last longer than your voice, maybe longer than your life.   Maybe forever.

     -You wish to embalm me, make me waxworks.   I am young, I am alive, I eat, I sing, I sing, I eat.   I eat in ristorante, I sing in auditoria.   You wish me to sing in latrina.

     -The studio is large.  We could arrange an audience.

     -Wax ones?

     -Real ones.

     -Belle ragazze?

     -Belle ragazze.

     -You think I am gigolo?

      Through the mist of crackle the voice breaks through,

gathers and lifts, looming between the CD speakers.  It

hardens and blooms, nasal with distortion, yet there,

ectoplasmic;  inviolable.

     It is Caruso.

David Rose