Issue 38


Dream Catcher 38 is an excellent mixture of high quality prose, poetry, reviews and art. We didn’t set out to have a set theme to this issue, yet it has fallen into a reverie on the current state of the world, with work that is hopeful, dystopian, humorous, futuristic and compassionate.

There is a powerful, bone-chilling monologue by Ben Benison from his new stage play Jack Lear, some dystopian memory stealing in Victoria Dowd’s short story Soul Repository and for those with their feet firmly in the here and now Robert Etty captures the confusion of modern life in The Naming of Colleagues. Ceinwen Haydon depicts the power of the small, concentrating memory into a poem which peels back the layers in Your Gift and Graham Hubbard strings the tension out in his short story The Clean Up. We also have reviews of Pauline Kirk’s Grant Poetry collection Time Traveller, Josie Moon’s La Luna Books collection Carnival of the Underworld: Poems from the Swamp and Alan Price’s Wardrobe Blues for a Japanese Lady from The High Window. I wish there was room to commend every single piece in this issue, they are all worthy of a mention.

Threaded through Dream Catcher 38 is the art work of Angus Vasili whose mixed genre prints push boundaries, combining architectural images, often of brutalist, with abstract shapes and burning, vivid colour. It’s an absolute delight to feature this York based artist work and I hope you’ll visit his website.

The Idea of My Death is Absurd

the first things you lose
are difficult to adjust to
after a while it gets easier
and then you have nothing

a whale sings at a higher
frequency than others is it
deaf a mutation no other
whale answers is it lonely

he spends hours each day
at the gym and changes his shirt
every hour count the shirts
to know how long he has been there

loneliness is a preview of your death
something darker than being alone
in that stillness you see the world
carry on just fine without you in it

as a shark must keep swimming
forwards to live so we continually
deny that which we know to be true
the idea of my death is absurd

Nick Allen


Behind the Mermaid’s warm smog breath,
he’s steam-bending oak,
caulking the seams
of bawley, cutter and skiff,
searching the Holehaven
with cockle-rake and glaive,
mud-larking for coins, glass,
a rhino tooth lost from Doggerland.

And where the Thames unravels,
loses its name to creek and turbine,
he’s there fog-deep in mud,
with his stash of driftwood, mirror and glass,
and his cross split lean
ready for the years to turn in its shadow,
still telling me it’s nothing of a job,
his hands twice the size of mine.

Ian Clarke

Let There Still Be Birds

After the holocaust,
after we have done away with ourselves,
let birds survive. They require so little of the earth,
just a small place to build a home,
and food, grubbed, picked or pecked
from anywhere.

I like to imagine their flight across the sky
after we have gone,
flashes of colour, and their songs
still sounding across the bruised planet
empty of people. No one left
to see, or hear.

It’s a thought worth clinging to.
After the holocaust, let birds survive.
The Earth deserves birds.

Philip Dunkerley

Family Gathering

I close the kitchen door,
shut out chatter from the living room,
savour isolation as I fry onions,
chop herbs, blanch tomatoes.

I pare polished aubergine skin,
slice flesh fragrant as fresh grass.
As it sears, hissing in the pan,
I let it soak oil like a sponge, stew till soft.

A quaff of Rioja conjures a time
when the recipe was new, just for us two,
before it became a tradition
and sharing spread us thinner.

Slipping the mixture into a massive pot
I pause, mid-stir; remember
an element of ritual that’s lacking.
This time, your Auntie Joan won’t wander in,

proffer precise instructions
dressed as helpful hints, on how
her husband wants his pasta served.
Surprised, I find I miss the interruption.

Ann Gibson