A Letter from The Editor
Welcome, dear readers, to Spare Parts Literary. I am so very honoured to make your aquaintances as Spare Parts takes its shakey first steps into the world.
This magazine found its origins in a very negative feeling and I couldn't be more proud of the journey it has taken to become a beacon of creativity and expression
and most importantly inclusivity. No one is a spare part. We are all important
and necessary, and I am so thrilled to have this opportunity to offer a platform
for so many voices to be heard!
It is my hope that for those of you leafing through our pages, whether you have
followed our progression to this point or whether you are only now exploring Spare Parts Literary out of curiosity, there will be something that stirs, moves, somehow
resonates with you, and that this soul-cry of significance will rise up in you too.
And so it is with a heady mix of excitement and gratitude that I introduce,
Oak Ayling (EIC)
by Oladejo Abdullah Feranmi
“The tongue is the biggest raft in the world”
floating away on a lake of stars.
The bridge to freedom is broken.
It will take a day as long as tomorrow to row men,
whose heart beats the sun across the sky,
digging a treasure from its map.
There is so much left to do.
You can tell sweetness from the stare into Sirius.
So the weak can wish on stars outside the Sheriff's chest.
Stars will choose to follow smiles that bow the moon,
the riches that invented daylight. So
Dawn can wake to press its blushing face to my window.
I'm not too much of a smooth talker.
I paved the way with coarse chatters so if you fall in the path,
you can feel how rough the tongue is,
how harsh the truth is and
how slow it wafts stars on this lake.
Oladejo Abdullah Feranmi is a DVM student at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Pursuing his enthusiasm for poetry, He has his works published in Poet's choice, Echo mag, and a few more. He reads at the sea glass lit and edits for the incognito. He tweets from; @OladejoAFeranmi.
ILLUSION OF REALITY
BY sHAURYA aRYA-kANOJIA
I consider myself a fairly courageous person. Not that I don’t have any fears, but I see these fears as opportunities. You know, a hurdle you’re meant to jump over and emerge on the other side a stronger person.
But when a claustrophobic and nyctophobic like me finds himself stuck in an elevator, and the overhead light starts flickering, there is only so much courage you can muster. Your heart starts hammering, your breaths become shallower and rocky, and – this may sound exaggerated, but is every bit true – your mind starts… imagining.
Imagination is a powerful tool, as many would affirm. Right now, though, I could live with my mind not going into overdrive. The light overhead, which provided a dull yellow illumination to begin with, is flickering more rapidly. It’s going to die pretty soon. The sounds of the outside don’t reach me. A shuffle of someone’s feet, a catch of someone saying something… That would be the perfect respite. An assurance that I’m still part of the world outside the elevator doors that have me imprisoned, that I haven’t been transported into an alternate dimension where darkness is eternal.
My science teacher in middle school, a woman who didn’t like her job and her pupils even less, once made a condescending remark about how “the fear of darkness is stupid.” Because, “scientifically, darkness is merely the absence of light.” We didn’t ask her what she meant, because the bell marking the end of the period was a minute from ringing, and we didn’t want her to stay any longer.
But I find myself remembering her statement – "Darkness is merely the absence of light" – as I try to keep myself afloat in the sea of my phobia. My breaths are becoming shallower, my pulse quickening. I can hear my heartbeat, a relentless thud, thud, thud… And I wonder, if there is truly nothing to worry about darkness, as my teacher had casually remarked, why am I still afraid of it?
From the deepest trenches of my consciousness, monsters appear. The vile, dreadful, obnoxious creatures that live only in your head, and hatch from their shells when the lights are switched off. They emerge slowly at first, as they learn to drag themselves and crawl. And, when they mature and turn into their disgusting selves, it’s difficult to put them out of the way. They cloud your ability to think, your judgement. Your thoughts turn sour, and you get frightened. Everything you read about in horror stories, as supernatural or perhaps ridiculous as they seem in the brightness of the daytime, begins to look real.
The light overhead goes off completely. I want to believe I heard someone yelling outside the door, that there was a scraping of feet as people ran. But it could be my mind playing tricks, couldn’t it? I try to scream, but the voice doesn’t emerge. I give it another shot, and this time there’s a feeble sound. The third time is a charm, because, now, I can hear myself scream. I even hopelessly beat at the metal door, crying out to anyone who can hear me on the outside.
Soon, my fists start hurting and my throat aching. I stop. The eerie silence of a few moments earlier (or maybe from another lifetime) encapsulates me once again. I put my ear to the door.
The monsters inside my head grow in size, their vileness like a visible force pressing upon me. I realise I’m panting. Has the oxygen been sucked out of the elevator? It’s getting tremendously painful to breathe, even more difficult to maintain my sanity. I can feel it slipping, rolling downhill; towards a bottom I can neither see nor want to know where it ends.
Because I’m just too afraid.
And, then, from somewhere in the shadows, two realisations crop up. Realisations that are, both, terrifying and oddly satisfying.
The first realisation is that of a third fear I have perhaps always had but never thought to ponder on it: the fear of ending up alone. Of finding myself a lonesome, desolate man on my deathbed. That fear is worse than anything else, and getting out of it infinitely difficult. The despair stirs something deep within me, the power of the realisation too strong for me to confront. I think I even cry.
The other comes along the heels of the doors finally starting to slide open. They don’t creak as they usually do, but slide open effortlessly. Maybe that should have impressed upon me that what I was seeing was an illusion, but my mind didn’t want to believe that truth. It showed me what I desired – of finally breaking free. Not only from the prison enclosing me, but also, on a more metaphorical level, from all my fears.
As the doors open, I see a white marbled corridor on the other side. Around it is the open sky, a kind of captivating blue you don’t see in cities. I can hear birdsong, and a sweet aroma of jasmine fills the air. The corridor continues so far into the distance I can’t see where it finishes. Still, I know it ends in a happy place. Even though my brain questions this theory, I find my feet moving towards it. Maybe it’s all an illusion, or maybe it’s more than that.
Of course, I tell myself, it is all in my head. But, in Dumbledore’s words when he addresses a doubtful Harry, “why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Shaurya Arya-Kanojia is the author of the novella, End of the Rope. He likes sports (cricket, mostly), eating out, and watching reruns of The Office and Everybody Loves Raymond.
EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK OF UNCOMMON PRAYER
(THE DAILY OFFICE)
By Bernard Pearson
Have I died yet?
The morning burgles
Through the see saw window
While I lie, like it, half in light,
Half in shade.
Drawing myself trance- like
From the duvet.
My knees not even good
Enough to pray on.
The spring birds
Know better how
To praise thee
In the ecstasy of their
Search for love.
They do it without a thought
And with no doubt,
Forgetting the winter
Just gone, when they
Died little ice relics beneath the trees.
And so I wash the world back
Into my being, count
The worry beads rattle, rattle, rattle,
Commence the business
Of another day, in this meadow,
This midden, this quickening,
Unbidden visitation, for which each day
I give you thanks.
BERNARD PEARSON: His work appears in many publications, including; Aesthetica Magazine , The Edinburgh Review, Crossways, The Gentian, Nymphs The Poetry Village, Beneath The Fever, The Beach Hut Little stone In 2017 a selection of his poetry ‘In Free Fall’ was published by Leaf by Leaf Press. In 2019 he won second prize in The Aurora Prize for Writing.
VINE AND MESH
Ruthenium (she/they) is an artist and writer currently living in the state of uncertainty. They believe creativity is real-life magic, and are obsessed with texture, context, light, and the question “what if?...” Their art has been published in Rabble Review, Celestite Poetry, Vulnerary Magazine, and Warning Lines Literary, among other wonderful places. Their various presences, publications, and collections can be found at https://linktr.ee/Ruthenium
More Art From Ruthenium on Spare Parts Lit:
I HAVE DAYS
BY RODD WHELPLEY
Old as I am,
I should be over this.
Still, I have days
where I look for Jesus
deep in the eyes
of those around me.
Days where I feel
the phantom pressure
of the choirmaster’s hand
on my young shoulder.
She finds me daydreaming
at the doe-eyed Christ
fixed in stained glass. He pauses
before a wooden entry.
She whispers, “He is knocking
on the door to your heart.”
I have seen pictures
of the human heart. Yes,
there is an aortic arch
and below it a chamber.
But the beating is within,
as if he is at home to sup
on valves beneath my atria,
as if he feasts on the arteries
As if we had offered –
Take this bread and eat.
ALL THINGS EQUAL,
gently let me go.
If it soothes you for a second to be wrong,
then imagine the world un-weighted
by a photon in my absence – or that now
the ocean waves crash harder, searching
for a lost lamb’s tear.
In a universe
of infinity lie the same amount of moments
behind this finished moment as there ever were
before. The tense is thereby always present.
Which says nothing
of how I loved and love you.
And you love me – the gravity and rage, the frailty
of it. Our unrivaled instance, the same as any other
except, by grace, that it is ours.
Do you see our time
in the center of all time? Here’s again the doorway to it.
Please, gently, let me go.
JAZZ BEATS IN THE BAÑ0
piped through the sound system
after breakfast coffee and mojitos.
Here in this boozed and sunny paradise
focus-grouped fantasy. Is this
what my father dreamed for me?
All that union overtime,
with no boat
or classic car, or cabin by the river.
Just Christmas clubs and the college fund,
and, once, he said:
Get a job
where you sit down. Which, for him,
meant a shirt and tie and jacket –
a career fabricating the ideas
of torpedoes, not forty years
on the factory floor, measuring
The world has turned
so many years since then, hardly noticing
his absence. Somehow, the tools of war
get built, and Americans own the coastline
of the Yucatan,
for one week at a time,
sunning along manufactured beaches,
where natives practice English and deference.
And those Americans
are me. The faces
of the servers are my father’s. I wonder
how they think about my complicated
happiness as I am soaping up my hands
and humming to Sade.
Rodd Whelpley manages an electric efficiency program for 32 cities across Illinois and lives near Springfield. His poems have appeared in numerous journals. His chapbooks include Catch as Kitsch Can (2018), The Last Bridge is Home (2021) and Whoever Said Love (coming in 2022). His first full-length collection, Blood Moon, Backyard Mountain is forthcoming from Broadstone Books. Find him at www.RoddWhelpley.com or @RoddWhelpley on Twitter.
AN AMERICAN MERMAID IN PARIS
bY jAMES C. hOLLAND
When I walk through the streets, I look like everybody else. I mean, I don’t look like everyone else. I’m about one thousand times more attractive, even in Paris. But what I mean is, I don’t have the tail. The tail only appears when I’m in water. You’ve seen the movie “Splash”? It’s like that.
People make way as I sashay through the streets. It’s like Noah parting the Red Sea but instead of using God’s magic, I am using gorgeousness.
“Don’t be so arrogant,” says Flipperty Bob.
Flipperty Bob is my magical fish companion who has come with me from the depths of the ocean. We all sang a song before we left about what a fun adventure we were going to have. Now, he is hidden in my pocket. He doesn’t need water to survive because he is magic. If I let him, he would swoop about in the air as if it were water, but that would be suspicious, I think. No point hiding your tail if you have a magical fish swimming in the air around you.
“And don’t be stupid. It wasn’t Noah it was Moses,” says Flipperty Bob.
Where? I look around but all I can see are the most chic and elegant clothes in the world. I’m in a exquisite shop now. And it’s not called Moses.
“No, it was Moses who parted the Red Sea.”
I try on several dresses and buy them all. I am very rich. It’s all the mermaid money I brought with me. Of course, they don’t accept mermaid money in Paris. But what we use for money under the sea is pearls. I brought up a tonne of them and had them converted. I kept some as keepsakes. I let them roll around the bottom of the bath so they feel at home.
“It’s not your bath.”
It’s not my bath. It’s in an exclusive hotel. I have rented the entire floor. Just killing time until I meet a gorgeous prince, or Tom Hanks.
“Miss, open the door.”
Maybe that’s him now! I can’t go to the door like this though! I’m not decent! He’ll see my tail!
“Miss, you have to leave.”
The door bursts open. Two cops have knocked it down with a small metal battering ram. A gaunt hotelier standing behind them looks shocked, his hand in his pocket.
“You could have used my skeleton key,” he says.
My prince must be impatient to see me. That’s why he sent them.
“What do you think Flipperty Bob? Should we get out the bath? Or should we make the prince come to us?”
“Miss, you are trespassing. I am arresting you for breaking and entering, shoplifting and creating a public nuisance.”
“Well, Flipperty Bob, this seems like a rum way for a prince to behave; Sending such rude underlings.”
Flipptery Bob flies at them.
“Urgh! The smell! Miss, I’m arresting you for throwing a rotten fish at a police officer.”
A crowd has formed outside. I am carried through them. They part like the Red Sea.
James C. Holland is based in the UK and recently concluded a series of alien invasion gardening columns for Bear Creek Gazette. He has also been published in Brighton: The Graphic Novel by QueenSpark books. He has performed at the Edinburgh Festival in "Choose Your Own Edventure," an interactive storytelling show and "Shoegazing," a stand-up show about shoes. He has long covid which is exhausting but has given him time to discover the joys of flash fiction.
Website: James C Holland
CHIP THROUGH TO THE PAST
ADVICE TO SELF
By Mat Blunt
If you are asked if you are alright?
But you feel half left!
Is it ok?
In fact it’s okay and alright not to feel alright and to feel not ok!
If someone asks what do you aspire to be?
And you say good enough!
Is that good enough?
Well it’s enough to feel good and good to feel enough!
If someone asks when will you aim for outstanding?
But outstanding means standing out and soon you may find yourself standing out and requiring improvement!
So Average is okay on average!
It’s ok to be average and to settle and stop!
If someone asks you to aim for perfection but you arrive blemished -is it ok?
Well a blemish is a mark and a spot and a talking point, it’s ok to talk in fact it’s good!
It’s ok to settle and to stop and to be alright or half left and alright to admit it.
Explore where the conversation goes, the celebration not to he perfect but instead to be worth it
I work in education and had my first open mic in Feb22 at Kowsel open mic Lostwithiel.
I loved it so much, I have written most days since. Some personal poems but most of the attempt
humour whilst they scrape past mental health with a nod and a wink.
I’m hoping to perform more, and maybe even publish one day.
I TOOK MY MOTHER TO CHEMO
By Joe Barca
The last time that I visited her
she was watching an Elvis movie
called Blue Hawaii.
The sound was on mute.
We sat on the couch of pillows,
right below Jesus.
I unfolded prayers for her
like cut-out paper dolls.
She worried her rosary beads,
made Lipton tea for me.
Her skin was parchment paper.
Her eyes were twenty three.
When I was little
we would go to Liggett’s Pharmacy
for hot dogs and a Fanta orange.
The red stools would spin.
under blade of hawk
between air and water
she feels the ache
of blue here
the pale shadows
the lyrics of the lake
across the gray
become rounded here
Joe Barca is a poet from New England. He has a partner and two children. He also has a Wheaten Terrier named Brady. Joe is a fast talker and a slow runner. He has published 4 short poetry collections, and his work has been included some journals and anthologies. Tiwtter: @shepherdmoon53 Instagram: poetblacksmith
By Sarah royston
A huge wave is coming. I shouldn’t have ventured so far with my flimsy body-board. But a few graceless, thrilling runs left me wanting more. Craving the rush of surrender to that surging power. Even the calm spells hold me rapt. My body suspended, swallowed in blue, beneath a brighter sea of sky.
The crest smashes over me. Drags me, lung-crushed, scoured by stones. I stagger up the beach, gasping. Blood runs down my legs. Jay jumps off his longboard in the shallows. “Perfect ten!” He laughs at me and heads back out to his friends.
The air chills after sundown and the surfers leave. All but one: a lanky girl. Drifting as if waiting for a wave that never comes.
“Who’s that?” I ask.
“That freak? Rhiannon." Jay replies, "Her girlfriend disappeared, must be five months ago. She’s out there every night. Never says a word.”
I get my guitar from the campervan, start to sing his favourite song. He groans. “Not more cheesy twanging, please.”
I walk down the beach alone. Sit on rocks and dip my feet in water dark as ink. Play an old Stones track that reminds me of home. Then I see her, listening, lying on her board.
“Don’t stop,” she says, paddling closer, so I sing to her. A fragile bridge of moonlight lies on the sea. It shimmers like a chord as I ask, “What’s her name?”
She pulls herself up beside me. Her voice is low as the lap of the waves. “Cora.”
“Tell me about her.”
I think she might slip into the water like a seal. But she stays.
“We met here last summer. She was happy then. When winter came, she changed. A silence spread between us, like oil on the sea. I tried my best to hold her, but she slid through my hands. She’d go out at night alone. In her sleep she talked of white horses, calling her away. People blamed rip-tides but they’re wrong. Cora knew what she was doing. The sea was in her blood.”
I brush wet hair from Rhiannon’s eyes. Press my lips to hers, raw from salt and pain. I want to peel off her wetsuit like a selkie’s cloak, warm her limbs with my stone-scoured skin. But she leaves, still searching for the horses in the waves.
Years on, I remember her. I run from the ruins of my life with Jay, along the harbour wall. Storm-spray cools my burning tears. The horses rear in frothing foam and call me to the edge. Come, lose your broken self in sea and wind and speed. Their song shivers in my bones, boundless, deep and wild. The cold will bite, but not for long.
A pub door opens on the seafront, spilling amber light and sound. A riff rises, hot as blood. It hums through my veins like a memory, like home. I let the music catch me and carry me to shore.
Sarah Royston’s writing draws inspiration from nature, folklore and the landscapes of southern England. Her short fictions and poetry are published/forthcoming in Full House Lit, Crow and Cross Keys, The Hyacinth Review, Noctivagant Press, Retreat West, Bear Creek Gazette and Soor Ploom Press. She lives in Hertfordshire, UK, and in her day job works as a researcher on sustainability issues. Twitter: @Sarahroyston4
BREAK INTO ANOTHER WORLD
IN THE CHURCHYARD
By John Lanyon
In the churchyard
the rain eats the headstones
In the churchyard
the mown grass longs to bend in the wind
In the churchyard
the yew tree mourns the wildflowers
In the churchyard
the plastic flowers refuse to die
In the churchyard
the dead feel so far away.
Ampersand squats between two names,
a small, contented child
hugging their knees.
More than addition,
more than association.
We seek this connection –
roots, solid commerce,
a partnership through time,
the best of one with the best of another.
Twist and turn in its parental, alchemical swirl.
John Lanyon lives in the Cotswolds. He works as a gardener, linguist, musician, and writer. Having failed his English Literature O Level, he came to love literature through reading it in French and German. He writes about art, the body, childhood, society, nature, the spirit of places, the secret lives of words. He believes you can create complex things from simple means.