Scoundrel Time


By Rosie Garland and Meg Pokrass

There is fire beneath our pavements, beneath our houses. There is fire in my brother’s eyes, inside my brother’s hair. There is a family in our cupboards, a scentless lukewarm one, an easier one. The family I never had. Hello, I say to the family inside a boiled egg. Hello, I say to the family inside a snowglobe.

The tidal surges of an underground ocean, an overkill of fish. Streets ripple with the dull chemical promise of our peroxide world. Rising heat stirs the hair at the nape of my neck. I smell the planet tremble as it breathes in rock, exhales flame.

My brother and I step down into the cellar holding hands, sweaty because we’re closer to the centre of the earth. We press our ears to the stamped dirt floor, hear the gathering hum of our lava flow. It’s still playing hide-and-go-seek, like the way we’ve always hidden from everyone else. It is getting tired of hiding. I’m not afraid, I say.

My brother laughs. Silly girl, he giggles. Let’s play trains. I’ll be the driver. At the station, hot as a magma chamber, we wait for the last train. Is that the track vibrating? Is that the train, coming in too fast to jump on board?


Rosie Garland has a passion for language nurtured by public libraries, & writes poetry, prose and things that fall between & outside. Val McDermid named her one of the UK’s most compelling LGBT+ writers.

Meg Pokrass is the author of 8 collections of flash and prose poetry. She is the Founding Editor of New Flash Fiction Review and the Series Co-Editor of Best Microfiction. Meg lives in Inverness Scotland.


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