Author Archives: catherinemadden

New Story and The Separation

Both these stories were published in separate issues of You Stumble Into A Room Full of Poets in 2012 . It doesn’t have an online presence but it was reviewed by Structo magazine.

The Separation

She used to have a husband and they would do all sorts of things like read poetry, contemplate their own mortality, and have sex in the missionary position.

When that marriage fizzled out she wondered why she had entered into it in the first place. She’d liked her husband’s companionship: he was a lovely man and always gave her dinner, but she wanted to go out alone at night and she wanted to be stroked by all kinds of different people.

After her husband moved out she quit her job because it made her too tired. Instead she stayed at home and lounged, not eating anything and certainly not thinking about much. At night she’d eat lots of fatty food and leap around because she could do what she liked now.

She began seeing a man but he was difficult. He seemed to want attention at busy times such as when she was having a small afternoon nap. Also, he wanted them to have a shower together which was out of the question. She would have run away sooner but she liked his big warm hand on her thin back and the way his eyes creased at the side when he looked at her.

After him, she stopped washing in the usual way and in her carefree afternoons would fantasise about how delicious it would be to lick her own vagina. It was summer now and she liked the dusk which she spent walking up and down her road trying to rub on people. Now, in the days she’d bask in the sun outside her front door.

One day she was dozing in this way when a man came up her front path. He only had hair on his head and she recognised her husband.

“Hello pretty.” He said. “I’ve heard about your behavior since I’ve been gone.” He smoothed her hair.

“Fuck off.”

“Don’t be like that, I’ve brought some of your books which I took by accident.”

“I don’t think I read books.” She stretched out her body and knew she looked magnificent.

“You should probably re-read this one.”

It was Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

What are you trying to imply” she hissed and scratched his stupid face.

New Story

People had warned her that a literature degree would lead to little serious consequence.  She had believed them giggling and nodding earnestly. She thought herself an exception however; there was something special about her that the realists didn’t know. Now she had finished with an unexceptional mark and had forgotten what the special thing was that had once calmed her. Perhaps something concerning the writing of brilliant poems bound for recognition, but there was less talk of that now and all her degree had perceivably caused her was a lack of imagination and a sense of intellectual inferiority. All she wrote about now was herself, badly and from different perspectives. There were not plots.

In an attempt to find some plots she went to the British Library. She researched ‘The Universe’ in the hope of writing the story of her from the point of view of a fictional astrophysician boyfriend. Wouldn’t he find her silly? Her research led to some conclusions.

Speaking to her boyfriend she said “ I’ve decided I’m not going to bother learning about things because you can never know what’s the truth.”

“What, because all knowledge is caught up in power systems?”

“Yeah, maybe but also because all we have to go by is our own experience. So in the universe anything could happen because in order for anything to be anything it must be in the universe. So there’s no point worrying.”

He laughed. “How very Post-Modern of you.”

“Really? Is it? I’ve never bothered learning what Post-Modernism is.”

This was a lie , she’s tried and was unsure if she’s succeeded.

“Well”, he said, “That’s one of the criticisms of Post-Modernism, if you take it to its logical conclusion , why bother even saying anything.”

He was very clever and she laughed, “I’m going to use this dialogue in a story I write.”

“Are you going to be a Post-Modern writer?”

“I don’t know.”

It’s set on a bridge.

In real life they were leaving a cinema. The film was Soviet and the baddies were American. This confirmed a few things but she didn’t know what to do about it.

She re-reads Jean Rhys and decides her life is boring, so going to the pub she puts on a lot of make-up. She has decided to concentrate on her looks now. She’s pleased about this, she has nice lips. In the seat next to her, her boyfriend explains astrophysics or something to another man. He shuffles nervously in his seat whenever he makes some sort of concrete statement. She wishes she was him, clever and with a nice lipped girlfriend.

The Cheap Flat

This is a piece of flash fiction I had published in 3:AM Magazine.

The Cheap Flat

We negotiated the rent down with the landlords on the understanding that they would provide everything we needed in the flat, but nothing that we wanted. They clarified this by providing a quote from Wikipedia, which they stencilled on the ceiling above the bed.

‘Needs are distinguished from wants because a deficiency would cause a clear negative outcome.’

This made our sex life more efficient.

We found ourselves talking in these terms to each other.

“We need a new fridge because this one freezes the mushrooms.”

“Yes, but is pouring boiling water over mushrooms clearly negative?”

“I need you not to get drunk every night.”

“I want you.”

What we wanted became privatised, a luxury.

When I became unemployed, we were told that one small income could cover all our needs, We laughed at that familiar word but then we were hungry.

So we wrote:

‘Dear Landlords,

We need to not pay rent until our financial situation improves.’

They replied:

‘With regards to your recent request, please provide the details of the clear negative outcome a deficiency of “not paying the rent” would cause.’

We wrote back straight away, “Death by starvation.”

Then we waited, ten working days.

When the answer finally came, we realised our negotiations had been hollow all along and that they didn’t care about our needs or lives.

Thus, abandoning our binary we lay under the redundant stencilled letters and gave each other what we wanted, which at least made us happy, for a bit.

Letter To Barnacle

cropped-james-joyce-and-nora-barn-008

I wrote a poem called Bed Sex, for the Glasgow based zine, Letters to Barnacle, which is inspired by James Joyce’s filthy letters to Nora Barnacle, check it out, the whole zine is dead rude.

Bed Sex

I dream I fuck an old woman and
 wake up more anxious than usual,
 perhaps because she’s looking away and as
 I spin her round her bum and boobs are
 so soft that she’s not an old
 lady now at all.

Next, a paternal presence with hyena mane
 closes down his shop so we can do
 it, but the customers keep on coming in
 and in and we feel guilty.

Tomorrow I am going to a fake forest, fearlessly
 to be touched as if there was no word like ‘touch’
 and no red, scratchy body either.

Sex!

Forza Zine

FORZA

Forza Zine is a beautiful and thoughtful publication, put together by my very good friend Rory Porter in Glasgow. The first issue is a collection of words and pictures centred around the themes of home, place, space and exile. I am pleased to have one of my poems, Times and Places i included in it and illustrated by the wonderful Liepa Kuraite.

 

Times and Places

How odd that you wake
 up with the man you love
 in a friend’s flat, but
 because of your dreams
 he seems
 different and then
 once he’s gone their
 flat is sad and cold? and
 you feel sad for them and
 the way their toilet is discoloured.

Then, you think you’re
 walking to Brixton but
 you end up in Clapham, which
 is just as grim
 as places

like Moreton

from your childhood and
you think you’ll
never get to Brixton

but then things

become comforting, and old and
to do with trains.

This day could be happening at any time from 1990 to
now, anywhere between Birkenhead and
here and it’s been 17 years to the day that
your brother was born
And you soothe
yourself that that wasn’t so long ago,

But why?

As if you could get back there,
as if you’d want to.

SHELF HEROES Zine

These two poems were published in SHELF HEROES‘ A and B zines about films, they’re inspired by The Aristocats and Bambi.

Thomas O’Malley

Well, we almost
had a father but
instead we have
this father figure
father away, but
still here and
teaching us, so
we don’t have to
know he’s just for
her, our mother,
beautiful and
unsuspecting or
unsuspecting enough 
to attract a
philanderer that
us kittens want
to love.




Bambi Realises That His Mum Has Died

It’s not so much the shot that does it,
but when you turn around and 
see that
you might have been 
running alone 
for a long time.

and when my moth-urrrrr 
fast forwards over death she omits
this stag
that comes down from the mountain 
to declare

that all moth-urrss 
are transitory
and, just this once,
to call me son.