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TENTERHOOKS

TENTERHOOKS
Gadabout Press, x.
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TENTERHOOKS

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CONTENTS
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RUTH O’CONNELL BROWN & ALBINIA !
STANLEY — Introduction
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ADHAM SMART — Do you believe in doctors?
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ROWLAND BAGNALL — Do you believe in doctors?
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COURTNEY DYMOWSKI — Untitled sculpture
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JIM HILTON — father
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TIMOTHY PETKOVIC — I’m a sonnet
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HARRY LONG — 25
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KATY LEWIS HOOD — What of the night, she said
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COURTNEY DYMOWSKI — Gradient in Gray
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XAVIER HETHERINGTON — The writer is very romantic indeed
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COURTNEY DYMOWSKI — Crossbeam
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XAVIER HETHERINGTON — Voyeuristical
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ADHAM SMART — Episode
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ROWLAND BAGNALL — Poem
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JIM HILTON — KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL

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RUTH: Right, ok, why is Gadabout about conversation?
ALBI: Because it’s a good way of sort of formalising the creative communities in which we live,
um, like it happens with us — we live in the same house and we talk about things to each other and
they get gradually sucked into our… our structures — our definites, if you see what I mean?
RUTH: [nodding] It’s a good way of expanding it from just a chat over a cigarette into something
that’s more concrete. And I think yeah, there’s too much… There’s not enough acknowledgement of
the fact that these works don’t stand alone, they aren’t just some sort of, like, instantaneous flash of
inspiration that comes and then ends up on the page and is this little island of creativity—
ALBI: It’s fucking Romanticism
RUTH: Yeah exactly!
ALBI: This idea that everyone’s work is original and isolated and it’s not, what’s amazing about it,
is how it represents, you know, the social webs in which we live
RUTH: Yeah, so part of the way that we came up with the theme of tenterhooks is because we were
looking at all the past issues and going “Eurgh, that’s been said, that’s been said, that’s been said,
we’ve got to say something different.” So we had this brainstorming session, writing stuff on a bit
of paper, and… Yeah, why did we, how did we come up with the word tenterhooks in the end?
ALBI: It’s one of those weird, archaic words that remains in ordinary language, you know, people
use it without knowing what it means purely kind of for the sound of it, it’s onomatopoeic, it sounds
like — now it sounds like you’re strung out. I think, [laughing] as students, on an unremitting
search for meaning, we’re often on tenterhooks…
RUTH: Yeah! Particularly with conversations you’re always, you know, checking your phone,
waiting for the reply
ALBI: Yeah, we live in an age where you’re constantly waiting—
RUTH: You’re constantly waiting for that small little bit of written communication, that moment
when somebody does answer—
ALBI: A missive!
RUTH: Yeah, exactly, exactly, the moment when somebody does respond to you—
ALBI: [laughing] Is anybody there?
RUTH: Is anybody there!!! Which is why responses were so important for us when we were doing
this project. We wanted— That was always the thought from the start, that we wanted people to
respond to each other’s work. Um and yeah, so that’s sort of, that moment of waiting… I think
that’s pretty much it?
ALBI: I think, a bit about our practice, like, one of the interesting things is that we included
responses when — while — removing the primary pieces responded to, so there’s sort of, like, an
isolated quote like at the beginning of one Xavier’s poems and I like this because, like, it’s quoting
something, you can’t see what it was but…
RUTH: Yeah, coming into a conversation halfway through is something that we always do as well,
sort of, picking up from where other people have left off and trying to work out where you stand in
relation to what’s gone before
ALBI: Completely
RUTH: Um… Yeah
ALBI: Yeah
RUTH: Do you think we should leave this as it is? Or should we edit?
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— Ruth O’Connell Brown and Albinia Stanley
26 Northampton Street, Cambridge
January 2015
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Do you believe in doctors?

thu.20.nov.2014

They laid on hands, and there was something in their touch.

They knew where to find those lingering tremors, a memory

of sickness, of your whitened face in the dark when the heat

was a hand over your mouth, a stranger at the bottom of the stairs.
In came electric clerics with their choir of boys,

they came to sing you back to health. A book on the shelf

might have told me what to expect. I could have read

a roll-call of symptoms and foreign bodies and partly

understood what lies had been told to your flesh.

I drained a cup of worry and lurched into the night.
Now they lay on hands — they peer into the darkness

and sort out right from that which wronged you.

They find an offender, lift it out and jail it,

but like a painting’s memory of the brush

there is something in the making of you

that cannot be erased.
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Do you believe in doctors?

sat.27.dec.2014
That cannot be erased. 

There is something in the making of you,

and the copper’s memory of the hammer.

But, like a painting’s memory of the brush,

they find an offender, lift it out and jail it,

and sort out right from that which wronged you. 

Now they lay on hands. Now they peer into the darkness.

I drained a cup of worry and lurched into the night. 

Understood what lies? Had been told to your flesh,

a roll-call of symptoms and foreign bodies, and partly

might have told me what to expect. (I could have read

they came to sing you back to health.) A book on the shelf – 

“in came electric clerics with their choir of boys” –

was a hand over your mouth; a stranger at the bottom of the stairs.

Of sickness, of your whitened face in the dark, when the heat

– they knew where to find those lingering tremors – a memory

they laid on hands. And there was something regal in their touch.

Rowland Bagnall
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father
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Money Plants, Hobbit Jades & a Peace Lily. Some Ficus Pumila.
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It’s 1am, and my family falls apart again. I hide out in the conservatory and water the pot-plants. I want more
than anything just a single bottle of beer, but there’s shouting in the kitchen. A voice screams “Dad”, but I
can’t move. I’m watering the plants.
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We follow each other’s absences around the house,
Breakfast in shifts, wading from room to room
Through the broken crockery of last night’s raging.
I cringe at the doorknocker, the tread of tires.
Headboards clap my mind’s eye as I try to sleep
Not knowing who my kids are fucking.
I live in fear of the landing light, the footfalls
Like tinnitus that follow me down duvets into half-sleep
Where the mattress still quakes.
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A shriek and muffled weeping – I grip the can tighter. The plants need feeding.
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Daylight smeared with condensation I wake up in the car again, dressing-gown, pyjamas. And now while
they sleep, I go to work. The country-tracks bleed mud about the fender and the wind nips the stings on my
cheek where the razor slipped. My eyes are full of hacked up Hobbit Jades.
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At 5 o’clock I’ll park out in the valley and watch the blackbirds. Then after a few hours, in the growing dark,
drive slowly home.
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I’m A Sonnet

I call them my mister-mammaries in

Inverted commas: “dude dugs”, “papa paps”,

Glaring gynecomastia. Too-thin

Lips, like I’m old, unkissable. More facts:

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I’ve got Kahlo’s monobrow. Neurotic,

I’m spasmodic, craaaazy torticollic,

Cellulitic, cryptic, unoriginal.

Still? Brutish, dumb, un-fun, solipsistic…

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Aaaaand, I don’t know, I’ve got these like sun-spot-

bullet-holes? Like someone punctured my face,

And there’s only shadow inside. I’m caught

In a persona, sociable – a “mate” -

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Superfically; smile-deep. I’m shallow,

A charlatan, a fraud - a salesman, so.

Timothy Petkovic

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One day my friends and I went for a walk into the countryside. We walked along the
edges of fields and through woods. In the middle of one of the woods on a hill, we saw
a wire cage on the ground. Inside the cage was a large black and white bird. There were
two perches inside the cage. The bird stood on one of the perches and looked directly
out of the cage, and then turned 90 degrees to the left and hopped along the perch in
front of it; and then looked directly out of the cage; and then turned 90 degrees to the
left and hopped to the other perch; and then looked directly out of the cage, and then
turned 90 degrees to the left and hopped along the perch in front of it, and then looked
directly out of the cage, and then turned 90 degrees to the left and hopped back to the
first perch, where it had started, and looked directly out of the cage. It did this over and
over again, without stopping; each cycle identical to the last. Its path traced a perfect
square inside the rectangular wire cage. Underneath the two perches were a bird’s
skeleton and some feathers. My friends and I had decided to free the bird without
exchanging a word. Someone went up to the cage and opened the spring door on the
top, and put the cage on its side so that the bird could leave it more easily. The bird
didn’t want to leave. We coaxed it out with some bread. The bird left the cage, took the
bread, and kind of half-flew, half-hopped away; beating its wings against the ground
and losing feathers. It dropped the bread and didn’t come back for it. Someone started
smashing the cage. I kicked it in. We all stamped on it. Then we carried on walking. It
took a while for the silence to be broken. A couple of months later one of my friends
told me that the bird was almost certainly a magpie, and the reason that traps had been
set was that, for some reason, they liked to pick the eyes out of sheep.
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Harry Long
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What of the night, she said
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Later than dusktime,
echoes of spilled talk wilt in the
still, the blinks of half-sight
catch in the clock
and the splintered eye
refracts the stranged shapes dark
by the chair that tilts in the corner,
rocked in wait
for looks of sound,
tease of a soft walk’s grain in the
creaks, curtain-light lilting,
creasing the ends
of the lulled awake,
swilled and filtered low in the
pulse, dips of sunken aubades
strung from a dawn.
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Katy Lewis Hood

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The writer is very romantic indeed.
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I would write at night, at my desk, with my usual pen: this morning and this table and the biro will
do. I've no request per se.
Today I'll step outside a room of burnt toast, eyes tired, teeth yell yellow (if I have occasion
to bare them). Not a spectacle. Struggling, huddling - the cold, limping - the road, glancing about to
glimpse what I don't know. Why? Not for her to see me grey-yellow, big-toothed like a wolf, but
shaved and stuck out like a wolf's naked lamb which he opened for breakfast in the morning's dark
hours. To see her? Well maybe, maybe resurrect the corpse we left bending in the road.
This time of morning and of year, the trees take after the sky in greyness and the Cam
squelches like a bag snake of bin-juice. I came back, pissed the night of it, wrote (pissed):
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'If I could sit alongside you, for any length of time, in any state of mind, minding what you might
but holding in suspension anything which might separate us, then I'd write about Acis and Galatea.
But my own elegies enrage me. You hold the balance of my life'
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I had sat down in my coat unchanged from the outside. The chair height- not right -not writerly, I
couldn't hunch, deign or sigh, but slumped uncomfortable too stiff and bored to move.
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But now I'm in five minds. She is the bitch, the completion, the friend, the torturer and the blonde.
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Xavier Hetherington
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Voyeuristical
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'Somewhere, someone was shot with a decommissioned machine pistol. An elevator closed its
doors.'
I'm the victim he took and shot
I was discovered in the cupboard (closet) - discupboard.
There were traces of semen and extreme weather on my corpse.
Gamer too - a troubled man? a Sci-fi fan, a fan of films, not a family man.
Troubled by the river girl; she snaked around his ice-banks, filling his shoes with herself.
I felt a cold to hurt your teeth, see, squeezing ice into the strongest black of the Atlantic and filling
the unused shoes, housing rot.
I was hiding in the cupboard (closet) when he tossed the pebble into the lake, when blood met blood
and spirits rose from the television. They were between me and the TV, man, me and the TV! The
hand's my hand, man.
Forecast reads cyclonic, allusive, lonely but a program from the radio can bind strangers, United,
Sailing By.
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Xavier Hetherington
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Episode
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A river waiting for clean water, a pair of hands waiting for donated science—
then the bulldozers moved in, uprooting the shed skin of my village.
It was a vision of birth in black and white,
an unearthing of boulders where once there were bricks, and now
lonely trees embalmed in treacherous sun wonder where the shade went.
Won’t someone bandage their feet?
A single pane of glass palmed off as rag-and-bone stuff
is all that’s left, and no-one dares to buy it. A man’s voice
on the radio pours laments into the thirsty soil,
an old man in Chaplin trousers pedals a bicycle,
unfamous, completely unknown.
The plan of assault in the minds of lions,
unthinkable when Abel and Cain walked arm in arm,
has borne fruit, and left fiery stones and skins
spat over a broken field.
The meat of the moon fattened for the slaughter is served,
and everyone’s staying for dinner.
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Adham Smart
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Poem

A dirty-bomb triggered like a themed pyrotechnics show.

My legs fell off.

I spent your welfare cheque on outsider art.

Under the olive trees, a gecko.

Under the coffin, another coffin. 

I began to blind.

I wondered why a member of Biff Tannen’s gang wore 3D glasses.

Did he know something we didn’t?

Did he have access to a higher truth?

I smashed your face through the double-glazing, 

uploaded the footage to the internet and gained enough recognition 

to meet Ellen DeGeneres.

When they played the video back you saw the funny side, 

so Ellen DeGeneres gave us a new car

and tickets to a Chapman Brothers retrospective.

Then I realized that I couldn’t remember who framed Rodger Rabbit, 

when Harry met Sally, 

or what was eating Gilbert Grape.

I ordered both salad and fries 

as the dawn broke like a neck.

We booked an awful holiday to Crete.

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Rowland Bagnall

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KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL
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Did he know something we didn’t? Did he have access to a higher truth?
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I’ve been lost in The Overlook Hotel for going on
Seven months now – Wannsee, Colorado.
Through the edges of my bound-up windows
I see the daylight disappear, suddenly, like the chair
At 30 minutes 7 seconds: there, and then not there.
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I lock my door and run The Shining, again.
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The world outside this room is Room 237,
But I’m not ready yet, not nearly.
My desk is laced with continuity errors
And there’s subliminal seduction in the TV’s shadow –
I don’t know what kind of statecraft.
I don’t know who’s working for who, or why,
But I know, if they come for me, they’ll come when I’m asleep.
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WHAT DO YOU MEAN BILL WATSON?
WHY ARE YOU SO FUCKING SUBDUED?
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A rush of gold from the elevator shaft.
Who are you, America? And where did you come from?
Daddy’s drunk, he’s stumbling on the landing
& no play makes etc., & zoom in, you can see it’s a Playgirl
& Jack Nicholson said he didn’t know a thing about it, not a thing.
Cut to Stanley in the sky, clacking on a giant Adler,
His eye trained on the fine-print of my contract.
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I walk over to Ullman’s impossible window
And stare out onto magic mountains:
The dimension where chairs resurface.
It’s 1921 and there are no more ghosts.
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Blue patches in the cloud look like footsteps
In the snow, the trail back: through the gloss
Of polaroids to summers in Idaho we never
Really had, but Goddamn don’t they look fine.
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Jim Hilton
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!17 Cover photo credit: Vin
Back photo credit: Zoi Karaki