Breathe, Laura, breathe.

Picture a pretty place. Fluffy clouds, rolling hills, cooing sicklebills… angels writhing around the Mercy Seat chanting ‘holy, holy, holy’, six-winged beasts full of eyes…

I can do this.

If hell is other people, then heaven is what? No people at all. Well, there’s no one around and things don’t look much like Middlemist Reds in bloom at Eden round here, that’s for sure.

Just five… six, are you kidding me? Seven more steps, Laura.

Why do they call it a ‘flight’ of stairs? It doesn’t fly anyone anywhere. Other than down, and what good is that? Stairway to heaven? Ha! A gutful of rotting fly agaric pumping venom into the brain is a picnic compared to this.

‘And so mounting as it were by steps, let us get to heaven by a Jacob’s ladder’.

Easy for you to say, mate.

It’s no good. If I only could…

No. I can do this. It doesn’t hurt me. No, really. I’M FINE!

Where is he? Your golden boy? Yeah, yeah, he was not the one deceived. I was the beguiled one while he was… where? Why was he not by my side when I was being tricked? Where is he now that I need this abomination to be taken out of man?
Sorry baby. I’m sorry. It’s you and me, baby. It’s you and me. Nearly at the top now. Don’t be unhappy. Don’t be….


I’ll tell you what. Let’s go back, yeah? This time, you carry on being the one that creates life, cut the eternal damnation routine, and I’ll stay the hell away from the apple.

For Kirstie Maginn. By Shihab S Joi
Kate Bush


DUMB KID and her dumb-shit questions.

A pair of shiny round podiums like a rapist’s scrotum squeezing together a giant cocked tower, spitting out the fat foreign women who’d been in it since the crack of dawn to spray it with a stench like aciclovir to keep the whole thing stiff for the suits come marching in.

Like I’ve got time to think like that.

The doors jitter, (praying to go out of order or playful?), no one cares, they’re never going to close in on anyone going through, like any alternate reality these sliders could promise could ever be anything but the exact same journey, only to a higher floor in a silkier tie.

What’s she going to ask next? What’s my favourite colour?

Builders cling to the side, dangling like lice, dirty, different, full of face, nothing like the ones inside, made of stone, mirror to nothing but each other’s shadows. Maybe the Hindu boy, young but old, too old to remember his dreams of moksha, burning in the river, never to return anywhere in this godforsaken place ever again.

Fuck, I don’t know. Something beautiful, I guess.

There’s always a new kid, sees this place like it’s the Maha fucking bodhi, making out he’s a bhikkhu governed by patimokkha instead of a Shih Tzu following the orders of a fat nobody who wants to have his centre in the middle. Give him a few days and he’ll be like the rest of the kids, wishing away 432000 seconds until it’s time to dance on ground covered in a white as dirty as snow.

Not made up, like a unicorn or some shit. Something real.

It’s sharp and it bites. How do the condemned carry one around without hurting themselves? Perhaps it will open nothing deadlier than an envelope, but for a few seconds today, in the keratitis-infected eye of the mind, it will dance across his fat throat, releasing him, I, Vedavati immolating herself to be free of Ravana, he, like Buddha emerging from a slit in his mother’s side.

Anything but a rat, kid. Anything but a rat.

By Shihab S Joi
Charles Stepney/ Rick Giles/ Pixies


THINGS WOULD GO really well for everyone, every last one of them walking away unhurt and with their dignity left intact, if they’d just do Brother Buck the small little favour of shutting the fuck up.

The ones back at the diner deserved the admonishment, if maybe not the violence. What? They’d never seen a man walk in wet without a shirt before? He should’ve forgiven them, there’s a difference between people out to be disrespectful and those that simply didn’t understand, Brother Buck knew that, but still…

The DJ was testing his patience. The goons around him, falling about in hysterics at his every last word, did they truly find him hilarious, or were they paid to laugh that way and secretly wanted him dead? Why did the news speak of the rich and the foreign like they were the only ones affected? And who was this shorty all the singers wanted to do sexual things to in the club?

The radio had to go. He deserved a quiet night.

Back when they were up the river, Father Mills used to tell a story about a Japanese sky with two moons, and Brother Buck liked to picture them going round and round the fairest sun like a Ferris wheel, only without the screaming kids. Most days or nights, he saw nothing when he looked up, but tonight there really were two, in the sky, in the water.

He asked Mary if she didn’t agree that was the most beautiful sight they ever did see. Stuck on the dashboard, turned around backwards, she had the clearest view, but she wouldn’t say. Maybe she thought she’d wait till September, explain everything to his face, tell him she couldn’t forget that night either. Everyone deserved the chance to explain themselves, Brother Buck believed this absolutely, lend thy ears before ye shall pass judgement.

‘We’re home Mary,’ he said soothingly, cutting the engine dead and almost not hearing the clink of glasses by the pool above the laughter under his breath.

By Shihab S Joi
Peter Buck/ Michael Mills/ William Berry/ Michael Stipe