By Samuel W. James 

Fishing Loch Ness

the stones are cool grey or hairy brown;
the water barely darkens them
for yards and yards out

we argue about how deep it is,
though it could certainly hide a monster.
we argue about if there are arctic char,

and whether posh people really eat it
it’s a sort of fish that looks like it smells
really like fish.

my eyes follow the line against the stones.
I grip my coat at each cuff, it’s so cold
I don’t want to catch any fish

I don’t want the water on my hands
or the slime. the line on this cheap rod
is short, and the hook too big

it takes a long time for the water to get deep
and I can see so many stones,
but nothing moves across them, there is no break

or flicker—not even little fish or frogs.
there is supposed to be crayfish and eels,
but I see nothing and we will catch nothing, hopefully

—but I don’t want to argue about that,
I don’t mention it, just think it,
and why is cold water so inviting?
and why monsters? and why fish?

Air Base

‘It’s good for asthma. It’s good for flu.’
Legalize It, Peter Tosh

I was only staying a few days
before I was going to get the train from the local station
which would take me to Southampton
where I had booked a place on a boat
to Santander, Spain. But I had to get out
of the dust and dog hair atmosphere.

I kept offering to go to the local shop
where I would wait
behind everyone else’s grandparents.
This is where they all seemed to live
and I permanently needed air.

So I packed a bag, said
I need to take advantage of the countryside
but will be back before X o’clock.

When my Dad was my age 
local kids came to get menthol cigarettes
from the  American pilots there.
Like everyone in the south west
they used kinaesthetic threats,
like they’ll bloody your nose or give you a fat lip.

Wrenching myself out of memories
of other people’s stories
I kept my nose down, got past the estates
and ended up among abandoned hangars,
old barbed wire and waist-high grass.

Up north, we insult people
more than we threaten them
and our threats are more euphemistic:
I’ll bat you or have you—y’dick-‘ead.
You hear people drinking in ruins, pits,
on piles of slag, under viaducts.
The last of the weed was at the bottom
of my bag. It’s the air I needed, the real reason
to risk drawing out those south westerly threats
or finding myself smoking in redundant places.

The wind was making it go out.
I walked some more along a stream
and tried to get myself lost,
end up walking along the old perimeter fence.

I tried to forget about turns I made
but something in me counted
and took me to a familiar street
which took me back to the house
where I embarrassingly vomited as a child
and my asthma was provoked
and I was left to crosswords
to avoid racist conversations
and had to disappear to smoke
the week before Spain.


the steep river underneath
flows on
while trucks grind over the bridge

watch the fumes go up
wait for the lights

you are still living in work, deep in dust,
risk-taking, road-kill, promotion, demotion,
early, late,
it’s in the rear-view mirror, the early morning headlights

shake yourself and wonder how long you’ll live
maybe after death you’ll be swept right back  into life,
the old bridge is still there
the river still flowing

against the noises of steel forging,
stone breaking, wheels and disaster,


you can’t keep a distance
you can’t see inside
you need to get some perspective

watching the fumes, waiting for the lights,
with an appetite
that makes you feel like you’re falling

About the Author:

sam james

Samuel W. James is a new writer from Yorkshire. He has been published in the following magazines: Allegro, Peeking Cat, Clockwise Cat and Ink, Sweat and Tears.