I didn’t know anything about this new short story and poetry magazine, nothing to make me buy it, so I suppose it must have been the name and the cover image. PROLE – from proletarian? And the photo – surely that must be a brothel? There is already a story there – the man calling, the woman answering, the other girl, listening, amused.
Within, unfortunately, there is no story quite like that. There is, though, one called The Shill, by Keith Laufenberg, which comes very close, the story of a girl like many I have known, a loser with the looks of a femme fatale, and the man whose path crosses hers, once, twice, quite as much a loser as she is and equally lovable in his way. A great story. I wasn’t much impressed by any of the others, though.
That said, however, several of the poems did impress me. Robert Nisbet’s Fat Girl could have been written by Elizabeth Bartlett, a great favourite of mine. How about this line? “The catwalks teem with skinny tarts.” Birthdays, too, by Gill Learner, has that same Elizabeth Bartlett ring. Looking back [yes, believe it!] “One hundred was the worst – all that sidelong speculation: Will she last till then? … How soon before the date can we be sure she’ll make it?” I also liked the two roundels by James Nash, a poem called Peter, by Emma Simon: “What galls me is you said it would be so.” And Peter Branson’s The Statue, a strangely evocative sonnet borrowing the theme from The Winter’s Tale. And some of the Sixteen (rhymed, four-line, pseudo-Roman) Graffiti by Brian Fone: for instance – from Politics:
Martius demands that more troops should be raised;
more legionaries sent to fight in the East.
What matters as long as his statesmanship’s praised
and while they die, he can revel and feast?
Or, from Personalities:
Lascivia’s young bosom swells fully with pride;
as all goes well with her long held plan.
Though not yet old enough to be a bride
she has finally had her twenty-first man.
Well worth the price. (Oh, you can get it here.)