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Dave Chawner – Circumcision: A Review

Bunbury Magazine Rating – ★★★★★

Bunbury Fringe Award – The From The Hood Award

Straight from the top of the show, it is clear that Dave Chawner is a confident performer who brings a great deal of cheek and charm to the stage.

This cheek and charm are deployed to fantastic effect whilst dealing with some very sensitive issues – this show is the story of Dave’s circumcision at the start of this year. As the story unfolds, the audience are taken on a journey through mental health issues and eating disorders, all of which are dealt with with the utmost respect and sensitivity. It is clear that Dave knows how to put an audience at ease with excellent delivery.

He even talks about sex in a way that had us in stitches but without being overtly graphic – for the most part – which is a very difficult skill to master.

The entire show had a great rhythm and flow, moving through the narrative with a natural pace that allowed the story to build momentum. There was a very clear message to take from the show, an uplifting message which we will not spoil here but we left knowing we had seen something brilliant from one of the loveliest people we met in Edinburgh.

Circumcision was on at Cabaret Voltaire.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 12/10/15

Here is a poem.

Cut my smooth, unbattered flesh

and I do not bleed blue, gold nor red.

My words do not profess nor betray

any strong opinions or judgements.

My thoughts will never change the world,

my deeds will not shape history.

My ancestors backs do not carry scars

of whips and a world of weight and fight.

My existence has never been defined

one straight, sign-posted road, more a series

of light-and-shade dirt tracks.

 

Every morning I slip in to pre-tied trainers

and scroll through the Recently Played

list for something soothingly familiar

to listen to whilst walking to work

for someone who keeps the roof over my head,

gas in the pipes and ambition caged.

Walking under cherry trees which darken the path

with its tributaries, I use the flap of the tobacco

pouch as an umbrella for a cigarette.

 

The main road parades a torrent

over me on the corner junction

as a dust-red Vauxhall chances

the last amber half-second.

 

On the other side of the junction,

a fray-haired mother uses half her

effort to put the rain cover

up over her already sodden child

whilst gazing through the window

of another beauty salon.

The cars beep her back to reality,

informing her to cross over.

 

On the main high street, one-third of the shop

shutters are still down, displaying vulgar graffiti.

A homeless man pulls at one of the shutters,

fingers grimly clawing at a rusted padlock

before giving up and moving on to the next.

 

Cut my smooth, unbattered flesh

and I do not bleed blue, gold nor red.

My veins do not run with riotous

glimmer nor within my mind does

not reside the cure for cancer.

 

As one hand cups a half-smoked rolly,

my other is deep in the pocket of my rain coat,

finger-tips idly toying the engraving

of a pocket-watch I received as a birthday present,

and I know I am loved.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 09/10/14

Here is a poem, cutting right to the chase after an interminable shift in work.

Intro.

Hello, my name is Chris and I am calling from

a number that will be ignored.

Intro.

Hello, my name is Chris and I’m

wasting my breath apparently.

Intro.

Hello, my name is Chris and I’m calling

because after 7 years of study

this is the only job I could get.

Intro.

Hello my name is Chris

and in an employer’s market there

are no transferable, desirable skills,

irreplaceable people or loyalty

to anyone’s need to eat and pay rent.

There is simply a revolving door

and a detached middle-manager

on the end of a phone telling you

that you are no longer needed.

Intro.

Hello my name is Chris and I’m calling from Quantum.

Pitch.

As I said, I am calling today because

I cannot get any other job.

I have 10 years of sector experience,

a degree, A Levels, all manner of training

but the job market has created a situation

where there are dozens of people for every job

and the majority of jobs are apprenticeships

or zero hours contracts with no guarantee

there will be a job at the end of a fixed-term

contract and no guarantee that you

will not be treated like a caged animal

by superiors and CEOs that know

how to interpret ‘human rights’

through loopholes.

Does that sound like something you could help with?

Could you help me today pay my rent by listening to

some words that have been placed in front of me,

printed in dispassionate font that I am

reading in a dispassionate tone?

Does that sound like something you would be interested in.

I fully understand your need to call me a cunt, I

really do. I know that I should be ashamed of my job.

The thing is, this is my intro, my pitch.

It may not be the one for you but it really is the only one

that I have.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 08/10/14

So, it has been a little while since I have done this. In fact, I think it is fair to say that I have failed the challenge of writing a poem every day this year, given I haven’t done one since the end of July. I knew it was ambitious and I over-stretched myself but I am glad I tried it. I think out of the 100-200 poems I did write in that time frame – I was writing more than one a day at one point – I maybe have about 3 or 4 that I can actually work in to something which is a success of sorts.

I actually started doing this challenge in January because I was in the midst of a depression, I had not written anything for months and wanted an exercise to get me just doing something, anything again. Getting some words down. That is something I achieved whilst doing this from the start of the year to July. I did write some things. I managed to get myself out of the depression too. I came off the antidepressants and things started looking up.

It has not been plain sailing of course, nothing is. I am still fighting my depression on a daily basis. I have just had to take a new job in a call centre of all places because my previous job were a horde of succubi. Since the start of the year though, we have released 3 really strong issues and have another one we are just about to start editing. I finally obtained my degree, after seven long years and we have started planning our wedding. That’s right, the very beautiful Keri and I are shackling to each other next year, on my 30th birthday until the day we are either raptured or eaten by raptors. those are the only two logical endings as far as I can see.

We also spent an incredible (almost) week up in Edinburgh for the Fringe festival where we saw some incredible shows, made some brilliant friends and had a few cheeky beers on the way. Not too many. Have you seen the cost of a pint up there? We’re not collectively Rockefeller!

Anyway, enough of the amble, pre or otherwise. I’m back with a poem. Since the start of July, I have not really written much and after 8 hours today of being called a cunt on the phone, I do not really have much in my head but I am going to force myself to write something to kick this off again because writing is too important. I would also be a fool if I did not chose today, National Poetry Day, to actually write some verse!

Here is a poem.

Take my hand and fly with me,

above the trees, amongst the birds.

Forget the words that you have heard

that humans were not meant to fly.

Take my hand and up we’ll go,

above the clouds to kiss the sky,

climbing higher and higher again

until it all just fades to black

where we can feel the hot, pure sun

upon our backs.

Take my hand amongst the stars

through galaxies and supernovas

sailing on to the unknown

where there are no words

to hold us down

tether us to weakened ground

because human beings were meant to fly

up to the sky and far beyond.

Take my hand for this I know and one thing else,

that flying on through asteroids and dancing on infinity

is well and good but I could not ever imagine

doing this alone.

Down in the pits of real life

I have a deep foreboding of

the things that might lurk in the dark

but up hear in the silent black

all my fears just melt away

because on one very special day

you took my hand and flew away

with me.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 20 – 22/07/15

20/07/15

Here is a poem. The prompt is ‘drift’ from #Soulwords.

The first of the day

is blown too quickly

away amongst

drifting wrappers.

21/07/15

Hi, my name is Christopher and I

am an addict.

It’s been two hours since I,

um,

last used.

It’s got to a point now where I’m using at work,

on the bus,

on the toilet even.

Once upon a time

it was just something to take the edge off,

relax after a hard day.

It was a great escape,

a break from the prison of reality.

Now it feels as though I’m living on mars.

You can sit there and say,

hey,

it’s all good man.

It’s not. It’s like my own

personal horror story.

It’s causing damages,

stripping me down to the bones

in numbers,

and saying anything would

be a lie to me.

A pretty little lie.

Now I’m doing it every chance I get.

Cigarette breaks, toilet breaks,

behind the counter.

It’s even worse when I’m at home,

on a day off. Up at 8A.M,

by nine I’m already on the third rock.

Doing it when I’m washing up.

Sorry, I know I’m not making much sense.

I’m deep in the thick of this.

I don’t even care what it is anymore;

uppers,

downers,

feel goods,

weepers,

those ones that make you feel

like you’re the one being watched.

I think I need a doctor who understands,

who can help me slay this thing,

to chuck the habit,

because doing this on my own

is like chasing fireflies.

It’s the cost too.

Sure, the first sample is free

and that’s how they get you.

After that though, you pay.

Pay every time, like clockwork.

So, I,

I don’t know,

um,

I don’t know what else to say

other than,

Hi, my name’s Christopher and

I’m addicted to Netflix.

22/07/15

Here is a poem. The prompt is ‘quiet madness’ from #MadVerse.

Our attention is always drawn

to those who scream and destroy

publicly when it should

be on those who boil

the shadows in quiet madness.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 17-19/07/15

17/07/15

Here is a poem. The prompt is ‘bittersweet memory’ from #DSPoetry.

The phrase ‘no resit’

jolts the heart, sets it

on a path until,

seven months later, the heart

is captured and can be at rest.

18/07/15

Here is a poem. The prompt is ‘breathless second’ from #WrittenRiver.

‘How do you think I feel?’

rapid breaths condense

into fogs of silver.

‘I’ve been training for

four fucking years!’

19/07/15

For the million and one moments

after you escape, each one

is sumptuous. Each mouthful

of fresh, clean air tastes

as sweet as anything can.

In delirium, you start

to rebuild a shattered life.

You do all the things you

always said you would do

but never got round to

before you were taken,

locked away for months.

Then, as it does,

reality’s dust starts to settle over you,

infinite particles gradually weighing

and bringing you back down to earth.

The smallest things no longer feel

like the greatest things you can do.

You start to take them for granted.

Then you realise that when you were taken,

irreplaceable things were taken too.

Things you will never get back.

Even things that you can get back.

Your phone was broken in the struggle.

Not a massive deal but it is the inconvenience

and the cost that are really annoying

and that is when the resentment truly kicks in.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 14-16/07/15

Here is the second of the catch-up days. All poems, as said before, have already been written. This is just posting them up.

14/07/15

The smallest one hid

at the back for photos,

an innate shyness caused

by always being the furthest away

from warm embraces.

While all the others

are fawned over, it simply sits

and waits for its turn, which never comes,

until eventually it is disowned,

left alone in the deep cold.

One day someone came to visit,

it passed all the others with perfunctory nods

until it came to the smallest,

at the back as always,

and smiled, said hello.

Pluto smiled back.

15/07/15

The bin in work is not just a bin.

It is not simply there

to hold the discarded items

that retail invariably brings –

packaging, faulty products.

It is also used as a ‘wet floor’ sign,

something to apathetically kick

when it is too hot and I am crabby.

It is also a beacon.

It is the first thing I see, bold red,

as I am opening the door.

A warning light to let me know

the next eight hours of my life

will be tedious, annoying

and preciously not mine.

16/07/15

The tall wide man

with skinny legs and

cliff-face shoulders

struts in front of the mirror.

His arms a map with only

one indicated ordinance feature;

a detailed topography of his

veins. He lifts a dumbbell

with a constipated grunt over his head

and strains. Cannon-balls jostle

for supremacy under stretched-out skin.

Next to him, a short squat man,

wide and less detailed quickly

loses enthusiasm halfway

through a routine. He looks at the tall, wide

man and considers his form,

the time masturbated away

aiming for what is seen as perfection.

Two minutes later, the squat man

is asking to cancel his membership.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 11-13/07/15

As you have probably seen, we have been mightily busy here at Bunbury over the past few days. We have had a new issue out and getting ready to take the next massive step in building our support network. Because of all the exciting things happening here, I have not had chance to sit and update the blog for quite a few days. I have still been writing poems, don’t worry, but actually sitting and getting them written here has not been possible.

Here is an update of the poems. I will do three tonight and three tomorrow for 11-13/07 and 14-16/07 and then carry on as normal from there. I know just one or two poems at a time is probably more than enough drivvle than you can handle so I thought I would break it up a tad.

11/07/15

Here is a poem.

Her shoulders slung low

covered in spider-spun-thin

lace while all the men

stood catching flies,

hypnotised by the chain-link

waist and watch-face hips.

The kind of sway that inspires

skulking in shrubbery at three a.m,

unlicensed firearms and missing

neighbourhood pets.

Though never encourages it.

That sway lead cut-marble

legs through clinically-white

door frames into clinically-cleaned

rooms full of anesthetic and blueprints

for less appeal.

12/07/15

Here is a poem.

Space is big, is not, my friends?

The scientificists say that don’t

know much ’bout space. They

don’t know nothin’ ’bout

what it’s made from or

where it came from.

I don’t  mind mind sayin’

that I don’t know nothin’

more than what them scientificists

say they don’t know

but I do know I got me a theory.

Now, as we all know,

bein’ compatriots here of this good green earth,

that we is all bein’ watched all the time.

When we at work, walkin’ around town,

eatin’ in our favourite dinery outlets.

Don’t matter where we are, we is bein’ watched.

There’s one place though that they can’t get to us.

Or so we think.

Let me ask you a question.

Have you ever been laid in bed at night

and you can’t sleep? Eventually,

you’re just about to drift off and you

think you see something out of the corner

of your eye, like shadows flickerin’?

Oh you tell yourself it’s nothin’ but

think about this. How is those shadows

flickerin’ when there’s no light.

I tell you now that those are governmental

agents, shadows harnessed from

the deep darkness of space by all

those satellite dishes they got

swirlin’ round above our heads.

Why do you think space is so black?

It’s shadows people. It’s shadows.

13/07/15

Here is a poem. The prompt is ‘collecting souls’ from #cdpoetry.

Screams flicker the ends

of pages of heavy books.

Flick through to see souls

flattened alongside rose petals,

ready for cataloging.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 09 & 10/07/15

09/07/15

So I may have jumped the gun a little bit the other day. I was perhaps a little egregious in stating that my studies are over and that I am done with the B.A. I am not. I got my final mark back yesterday and I failed the last assignment. Fell at the last hurdle. In fact, I didn’t fall. The hurdle grew legs and just as I was about to clear it, it kicked up and caught me square in the nadgers. I’m going to have a little drinky-poo in a minute but for now I only have two words to say about the whole thing:

 

Well, tits.

Here is a poem. The prompt is ‘like liquid’ from #FieryVerse.

My brain splashes the inside

of my skull, the concentration breaking

me as I try to hold in a hangover-fuelled,

plant-killing fart.

10/07/15

So some good news in the budget. There is going to be a National Living Wage of £9 per hour. For people like me, who work minimum wage jobs and are struggling to do things like pay off an overdraft, save for a house, save for a wedding, save for a rainy day, this seems really good. Finally, we won’t have to scrabble around trying to count pennies, hoping the magically transform themselves into the odd fiver.

However, there are a few things this does mean as well. At the moment, there is a Personal Allowance of £11k. No tax until you start earning over this amount. With £9 per hour, we are going to hit that threshold quicker and be subject to more tax, which may not balance out.

Also, a lot of the minimum wage jobs going at the moment are call centres or retail with sales targets. The nature of a lot of these places are quite fly-by-night, pop up and go with a very high turnover of staff. In fact, a few places do not make enough to cover the overheads which is why the ‘managers’ put so much pressure on those working under them to hit their targets or be shown the door.

I worked in one call centre where the wage was a certain amount and once you passed the three month probationary period and became a permanent member of staff, your wage increased. A very small percentage of people actually lasted three months before they were fired. Regardless of performance, places like that just cannot afford to pay the wages they wave around as an incentive to meeting targets.

I can only imagine that once the Living Wage kicks in, those working on the very bottom rung of the ladder – working shop-fronts or call centres – are going to be subject to a hell of a lot more pressure as employers like this struggle to pay the wages that the budget has promised.

I was subject to a hell of a lot of shouting and swearing at the call centre. I not thin-skinned but some of it was really overboard. Once we are all guaranteed at least £9 per hour, how bad will it get for those earning just that?

Here is a poem. The prompt is ‘not defeated’ from #WrittenRiver.

Lips stitched,

a dam built to stem

what is misunderstood

under a spotlight of hypocrisy.

Editor Christopher Writes – #PoemADayForAYear: 07 & 08/07/15

07/07/15

Here is a poem.

Sometimes I wonder why I like tennis.

It’s just a couple of folks hitting

a ball at each with a springy

stick other over a net.

They say the aim is to get the ball

past each other but, watching it,

they don’t always seem to try very hard.

They always wear white too – just not

an interesting colour. They spend

hours hitting the ball back and forth.

It just all seems a bit futile.

Then again, break any sport down

into its fundamentals and they all seem futile.

Football – some folks kicking a ball up

and down some grass, trying to get it

into a fishing net they probably found.

Rugby – some folks carrying a ball up

and down some grass, trying to get it

under a giant H and hug each other.

Cricket – middle class masturbation,

though not quite as wanky as polo.

I suppose in other sports they wear colour

so it’s a little more interesting.

In tennis they must be pretty soft

as well, because they always stop

playing when it starts raining.

They don’t do that in other sports.

Despite it all, I do actually like tennis.

There’s just, something about it.

One improvement I would make though,

above all else. Add tigers.

In what capacity it doesn’t matter,

just use them.

08/07/15

Here is a poem. The prompt is ‘dark streets’ from #MadVerse.

Dark streets growl with life –

the puddles that spit and ambush,

neon signs winking illicit joys,

grubby hands that pillage pockets.

I’m feeling generous, have another one. The prompt is ‘poisonberry’ from #FieryVerse.

No berry poisons like

the poisonberry can.

The poisonberry even

poisons berries when it can.