Wk 11 – Red Meat

Glass Shrimp by Ziggy Blicharz

Slices by Dorothee Lang

It was one of the first things she did after they opened the wall. That’s at least what she told me years later, more than 1000 miles from Berlin, over a meal that started with Carpaccio and ended with Tiramisu.

Back then, in those new, open days of November 1989, she took the bus to Alexanderplatz. From there, she went to the checkpoint that marked the border of her world for decades. Now the passage to the other side of the city was open.

She walked down the once familiar streets of Berlin, walked down Kurfürstendamm, walked through Tiergarten, walked along the street of the 17th June. And finally, walked into a butcher’s shop. Stood there, and gazed at the different kind of sausages.

“And they really are all for sale?” she inquired.

“Ja sicher,” the man behind the counter said, “Yes sure”.

She still couldn’t believe it. She asked for ten slices, each from a different sausage, and explained that she was from the other side.

The man behind the counter cut and wrapped up the slices, and added some salami for free. “From Italy,” he said.

She thanked him, carefully placed the bundle in her bag, and walked back. At Alexanderplatz, she sat down on a bench. Her feet hurt, but she didn’t care. She opened the bundle, and savoured the slices, slowly, one after the other. She made it as far as the fourth before she broke down in tears.

Red Meat by Susan Gibb

His back hung in flayed strips like the carcasses of cattle where she bought meat to make meals for a husband she loved.

He was a robber, a thief of emotions, caught and branded by law an adulterer. She found him on her way home, barely alive, moaning and rolling in the cool dirt of the alley. Sand ground into the torn flesh of his back, flowing blood like an overturned vase seeping water into a carpet. Colors ran, intermingled.

She hid him in the shack at the back of their walled yard. She moved tools, brought a blanket, a candle and some water and wine. She cleaned the ragged landscape of his back and dressed it with cotton. He whispered thanks between warnings. She shushed him and left him to sleep.

He told her about the woman. He cried when he spoke her name. He said her eyes still burned into his own, her lips healed his wounds with the memory of kisses. He said that he wished that he too had been put to death.

She kept him hidden for nearly a week. He insisted that he would leave the next day.

He was gone, as he’d said, but he had been seen by her neighbor, a bitter old widow she disliked.

She sang as she prepared the evening meal, happy to no longer have a secret kept from her husband, when they came and took her away.

Winter Was Hard by Damian Pullen

Cycling home we saw a farmer standing by his sheep, with his shotgun on his shoulder. On the radio Paul Locke said respect the rule of law.

It got really cold and they closed the school. We went down to the river and caught a couple of small trout. Not really enough for five of us and Solo, but Dad made a big thing about it, so we went again. It rained and Dane lost his hook, so we collected firewood instead and came home, freezing and hungry.

When Dad went hunting with a neighbour someone stole our firewood, and Solo disappeared. Dad came back all dirty the next day, saying it wasn’t really safe out there, too many desperate people looking for food. We’d never eaten goat before, and it tasted and smelled weird. You had to chew it for ages. Mum said eat up, a billion Indians can’t be wrong. Susie started crying in bed that night. She asked if people eat cats.

Dad is busy digging the lawn up and planting seed trays. He brings them in at night. He reckons there’s another month of frosts to go. A man came to the door selling possums for $10 each, but we didn’t buy one.

Tonight for supper we had potatoes, with salt on. Just like the Irish in the bad old days, Mum said. The butter is all gone.

We all sleep in the same room, and Dad won’t let us listen to the radio any more.

Flush by Matt Potter

“Your gums will be red raw and a perfect entry point for HIV,” she said. “Never clean your teeth beforehand if you’re going to suck cock.”

I shrank into the kitchen chair. It was 1989. I was seventeen. Two minutes earlier I’d told her I thought I was gay.

“Are you fucking anyone, Dudley?”

She was a sexual health nurse. And unfortunately, my mother.

“Are you a bottom or a top?”

My eyes stared blankly and my lips clamped shut, stilling the screaming voice inside.

“First impressions really count. You need to make up your mind.”

I shifted in the chair. My mother’s favourite child-rearing mantra – I can talk to my children about anything – was swallowing me whole.

“No one likes an indecisive sexual partner.”

Oh, I definitely knew I was gay, but my sexual experience amounted to nothing beyond constant furious masturbation and watching men’s gymnastics on television. In practical terms, I didn’t know one end of a hard-on from another.

“It’s a big world out there, and there are plenty of cute, well-hung men just waiting to get into your trousers, sweetie.”

She had never called me sweetie before.

She hummed. “Maybe I should give you my old dildo to practice with.”

I stood up. I left the room. I walked outside and down the driveway and to my best friend Daren’s house. And vowed to learn all I could about menopause, and assault her with the hair-raising facts just after her first hot flush.

Flesh and Blood by Claire King

Sunday, city farm. Bickering on the bus as always. Panic swells my throat. But then for once they click, finding shared delight in suckling lambs and pot-bellied pigs.

“Lamb chops,” I say. “Bacon.” Their heartbreak is followed by cheese sandwich solidarity.

On Monday I cook coq au vin. Fatty yellow skin detached and floating in the sauce. Folded arms and pushed away plates. Stereo disgust.

On Tuesday I bake trout, slimy with garlic butter. Bones and eyes left in.

“Fish are not vegetables,” they say, their fingers locked under the table.

Tonight I serve up bleeding lumps of gristly flesh.

“Cows,” I say, and wince at the slamming doors.

I stand outside their room as they close ranks, tearing me to pieces with whispers sharp as butchers knives. My fingers pick idly at malignant cells and the hall clock marks the minutes that remain.

Room: A Word Problem by Stephen Hastings-King


Posit a room from remembering. Arrange windows around its perimeter, a perimeter that is open, is continuously self-correcting.

Position a table. A glass with rings of red wine, cutlery and a plate. An architecture of couscous and partially chewed red meat. A salad dressed with indifference.

Make a place to sit. The setting is not yours.


On the wall a silent film grand piano is intermittently burning. Each time you watch, head cocked.

Construct a trapezoid; A the fire B the knife C a shadow that is modulating a room of remembering. D something. Over there. Somewhere.


The wave of a hand the cuff of a shirt and the ways space and duration fold into themselves.

Back to Wk #10 – Union of Opposites

Forward to Wk #12 – Allergic Reactions


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