Monday, August 6, 2012

Issue Eight, Volume Four

From the Desk of the Editor;
Hello and welcome to Issue Eight of Larks Fiction Magazine! In this edition we are pleased to offer poetry by Charles Bernard, photography by Eleanor Leonne Bennett, and fiction from  Debra Iles! These works examine the human condition at a high level.

In news we have met with the bank finally and are hopeful that we will be able to make the final move to the new office by October! So by then we should be able to respond to wayward emails.

And for updates on the project make sure to check out the Fox House Tumblr:

Thank you and enjoy!

Daniel J. Pool
LFM Editor
Poems by Charles Bernard

Teach me how you endure life
The pains and misfortunes
With a knowing smile on your lips
Even in the darkest moments
You stood steady supporting me

Share me your deep secrets
The understanding of it all
Even when life’s hope is bleak
Wisdom to outwit life’s cunnings
Even in failure you’re my champ

O mother caress my ears
With sweet words from your lips
Unite our hearts with words
Your love is a spell cast at my birth
Enchanted all lifelong by this myth

My mother is a goddess
For me she stands strong  
Nature’s forces moves her not
I am her most prized treasure
She is my priceless jewel

 I am a Freeman

My mind is not shackled
Not by impossibilities
I am determined
To utilize my abilities

Our government cares not
Not for our plight
Alone our demons
We fight to our doom

Freemen are silent
Bearing pain in silence
Our hope is vain
We know no sunlight

How can I escape?
Where is the northern star
Only within do I believe
Even that yet is vain

Check out Charles on Twitter @chalzz619

 Untitled 33
by Eleanor Leonne Bennett
About the Artist;
Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16 year old internationally award winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic,The World Photography Organisation, Nature's Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland trust and Postal Heritage. Her photography has  been published in the Telegraph , The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United states and Canada.

Her art is globally exhibited , having shown work in London, Paris, Indonesia, Los Angeles,Florida, Washington, Scotland,Wales, Ireland,Canada,Spain,Germany, Japan, Australia and The Environmental Photographer of the year Exhibition (2011) amongst many other locations.

She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run See The Bigger Picture global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010.


By Debra Iles

Note to the file May 2002.

     They’re trying to get rid of me again.

     They think they are being very subtle with their talk of long service, comfort and rest.  I let them think so, and pretend not to follow their drift.  I have no intention of leaving.  I have earned this place.  It is my home and I will stay here.  Is there some young buck clamoring for my two rooms?  I doubt it.  Are my culinary demands too rich for the dining hall?  I eat what the students are served and ask no more.  Why is it anyone’s concern how long it takes me to cross the courtyard?  I resent their judging eyes, watching for evidence of deterioration.

     As if someone else could ever do this work.  They don’t realize what it takes; all the steps involved.  Every morning I review the shelves, make sure all the books are in place and the spines are aligned, one inch back from the shelf edge.  I change the open page of the morocco gilt second edition O.E.D. to highlight a word for the students to find - I place the tassel string at a casual angle to draw their attention.  Last week it was saturnalia; the week before Endymion.  They are weak in the classics.  Of course I must entertain myself as well.

    Every day of the week, including Sunday, there is a different section of shelves to dust.  I start at the northeast corner on Monday and work my way around.   I have found that leaving a marker at the corner of the second shelf where I leave off helps me stay on track.  A British pence works well for this – it has no monetary value and little historical interest.   I wrestle the dodgy sliding ladder and use the ostrich duster to go along the tops of each book, in and out on each one so that dust does not gather along the indented junction of the pages and the spine.  Then of course each chair must be in its proper place and angle.  The corners of the Turkmen rugs all monitored, to avoid tripping hazards.  The globe moved down the length of the table and rotated so that the morning sun through the window hits Cambridge at 9:00 am as it should.   Then I use the Sports section of yesterday’s New York Times to polish the glass on the covered bookcases – especially the one that encloses my compartment.  My vigilance sustains the sanctity of the library and thereby nourishes the students.

     Of course I realize that some of these tasks are not even noticed.  What of it?  The fact that the brass cornice over Engels Gate is not noticed by the “madding crowd” does not diminish its luster.  And watching the gleam of the morning sun as it moves across the room, day by day and season by season, striking the walnut paneling at a different point each day – and then again at those same points the following year – that gives me the strength to climb the ladder to the top shelf with the duster hanging from my wrist, to keep climbing until I am fourteen feet above the floor, focused only on the books and coolness of the brass ladder fitting against my left palm.   And then as I move down, shelf by shelf, my right foot seeking purchase on the next rung, both hands grasping the stringers to support the extra weight on my cranky left knee.

     House masters come and go, these two will pass on.

Note to the File May 1990

     I am spent and exhausted, but exhilarated too, having just concluded the spring semester pianoforte concert.   The beautiful tone of this instrument, which has been a friend to me for so long, never fails to transport.   This was the fiftieth concert I have mounted, fall and spring each year with only a few interruptions. Tomorrow I will return to my composition with renewed fire.

Note to the File  April 1981

     This has been a rather unsettling week.  One of the students – I’ll call him William – has come seeking advice.  Of course I knew him from the dining hall and because he is a studious young man who keeps regular hours reading philosophy texts in the leather chair near the west window.  One could not fail to notice his brown curls, the way his worn sweater floats over his slender frame, and the delicacy of his adam’s apple when he swallows.  On Tuesday, he came into the library at around one o’clock, when there is rarely anyone else present.

     The simplicity and lack of guile of his approach left me initially speechless.  Let me see if I can transcribe it precisely.  “Can I ask you a question?  What if a person likes women, but you know, is attracted to men too.  Do you think it’s possible to overcome it?”

     Dread loomed over me.  I have been scrupulous in my interactions with the students, but immediately my mind was racing with possible connections, innuendo, paths across town that might have revealed something of my own activities – even though they were rather a long time ago.  Then I reminded myself of the short half-life of a student’s attention span, pulled myself together, and refocused on him.  I stammered that I was not sure why he supposed I would know anything about such a matter, but that of course I wished to be helpful in any small way I could.  He just sat there, adagio, and repeated his question.  “You seem so wise; I value your perspective.  Do you think it’s possible to live straight?”  I muttered a few platitudes, everyone is different, to thine own self be true.  I tried to think of texts that he might find helpful.

     He talked on for a bit, clearly in some pain over his difficult question, but still amiable – andante.  There was no real anguish in his voice.  Young people speak of these things so freely.  I hmm’d and aah’d and nodded at appropriate pauses.  The crux of the issue emerged:   his desire to be in the world, not separate from it.  Not behind a scrim or in the closet.  It was obvious that he thought this would resonate with me.  “Of course,” he said, “you came up in a different time, with different choices.  But how different really?  I don’t want to be outside of things.  I don’t want to be like…”   The unspoken “you” hung briefly in the air between us, then crash landed in my prostrate.

     I nodded, unable to speak with that frozen “you” clenching my gut.  Is this how I look to the students?  Unspeakable.

Note to the File, June 1971

     This weekend there was a big reunion party for my class, which I observed quietly in the library.  I find it’s best to avoid the loud jockeying drunken banter of fat men in matching ties.  I have created an oasis from that sort of turmoil, for myself and the students, and it has served us well.  Better not to hear the hale fellow jokes about monkishness, and not to have to produce the simulated smiles of the good sport.  Better to stay here, with my brandy, and work on the concerto.   When things are quiet again, I will venture out to my usual haunts, where the company suits me better.

Note to the File October 1946

     The librarian is not coming back.  The House Master has offered me the opportunity to stay on for a bit longer along with a small cash stipend, which I think it best to accept since I am not yet settled in my plans.  It has been made clear to me that I must keep what is referred to as a “professional” distance from the students – many of whom were my comrades just a few short months ago.  The conduct that might be appropriate among friends is apparently of some risk when one party is a member of the college establishment.  I cannot help feeling chastised, yet again.  This may be just the chance I need to focus on my composition work – a concerto is beginning to take shape in my mind’s eye.

Note to the File June 1946

     It is my great good fortune to have landed a temporary post caring for the library and historical instruments here.  I am grateful to have a few extra months on campus to gather my prospects and chart my future course.  Even more fortuitous – I am provided with lodging in two snug rooms behind the reading room.  In my four undergraduate years, I never even noticed that the glass-fronted bookcase on the south wall was on hinges, concealing an apartment behind it.   And now, here I am, arranging my books and effects in just this very space.

     How lucky I am to have dodged certain failure on the question of returning to Akron, where my passion for music so bewildered my father.  He is not a man who enjoys being bewildered, and thus has made it plain that when I return, I will need to make a greater effort to “fit in” with the men at the plant and, even more important, at the club.  Little does he know that four years among well-turned-out young men with money, charm, and literary aspirations has made the prospect of “fitting in” in Akron nothing short of appalling.

     So, here I will remain for the moment.  While the Head Tutor and Librarian convalesces from an extreme case of gout, I will care for the books and keep the instruments tuned.  I have promised myself (and my mother) that I will dedicate every spare moment and all my higher faculties to discovering where I should direct myself:  a career in law, business, or perhaps international trade.  My adventure awaits.

Afterward, Note from Judith Martindale, House Master, November 2002

     Charles died at Chilton House, a local hospice facility, after 56 years of residential service to the university.  He brought dignity and honor to the house.  I came upon his journals while clearing out his apartment and pulled these few entries which speak to our history as an institution, to the changing times, and to the singularity of every human life.

     The journals, in total, filled 75 composition books and will be stored in the house archive.

The End

Thank you for reading and join us next week for more great art!

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