New Original Writing: Olive Broderick & Tory Campbell

New work from 12NOW writers Olive Broderick and Tory Campbell.

Olive Broderick: Demolition

Like a bulldozer. The operator
doesn’t pause or stall its progress.

The unbroken wound-up whine
of it is unwelcome.

I have no way to make it stop
its entitled-work-hours operation.

And then

it’s like you here again. I can’t escape
the ceaseless talking, ceaseless

talking. You have to have my
full attention. I can’t escape,

can’t even ask ‘how long
is this going to go on for’. Instead

I remove any part of me I can
without being noticeably absent.

And when

the silence comes, the silence that is
welcome sound, I realise the noise,

the uninvited endless overbearing
noise is from the engine

that drives the wrecking ball.


Olive Broderick: Mound of Down Minotaur

Everything moves in circles here.

Ariadne keeps count of the turns
with different coloured threads.

Growing by burned gorse
blue veronica. Orange tips

and their black-lace ladies fly
above unconcerned. Who knows

what moves below the surface
of these ancient earthworks.

People come here once, then
don’t come back. Mean to,

ought to, but somehow
don’t make the journey.

Except Theseus who wants
it to be a tourist destination.

He needs it clear of menace –
means to get to the bottom of it.

He beats back the overgrown paths,
but they are moats and lead back

to their openings:
first a small descent,

then spit him out,
and he must start again.


Tory Campbell: Blanco

At first they thought it was a goat
wandered onto their land, collapsed near the house.
Hairless, scabbed skin hung on bones,
a crawling mass of parasites, eyes caked
puss shut. Lying there, forcing out shallow pants
in the heat of the Sierra Nevada.

They moved it to the cool stone of the courtyard,
left it overnight to allow the flea bomb
to work, before lifting into the house, heavy headed,
limbs as long as Conny’s arms, unable to stand.

She spent weeks washing, wiping, rinsing, soothing sores.
And he let her. Licked her face, limbs, fingers, feet. Lapped water
from her cupped palms, washed bowls clean. He liked to surrender
his underside, drum the floor and upholstery with his tail.

Daily, he would place his right paw in her lap and lick her hand
asking her to notice a dark thread under his nail. She did – pulled out
a squirming length, then steeped his foot and watched maggots pour out.
And he let her.

His breath settled as his skin healed and his hair grew back –
wiry, thin, white, not quite covering still-visible ribs
making him look older than his few years. Huge head still heavy.

This was his place – he welcomed us with licks and wags
and followed us through the sun-bleached heat, to slump
on cool kitchen stone, legs twitching out dreams.

Night-time rustling round our caravan woke us upright.
We peered through the mesh to witness a white shadow frolicking –
A moon-lit Mediterranean polar bear digging up darkness.

A runner came to stay. A lover of mountain marathons
in scorching sun, running all day.
He allowed the dog to follow
against owners’ advice. Conny and Micha
ringing round neighbours, searching. Worry white.

Blanco’s morning gallop slowing to a pounding plod
over hot jagged rocks as the sun turned fierce.
Pads split open, yet still running. Obedient to master.
No rest. No water. Tongue hanging. Yet still running to heel
until he collapsed. Eyes rolling. A dead weight
splayed in shallow mud puddle.
The runner shrugged. Ran on.

They carried him the last 500 yards.
Back to lying at the bottom of the stairs,
his near-death pant loud and restless.
Paws bandaged. Trying to rise, legs giving out beneath him.
And yet his tail still slapped stone.

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