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Audio Magazine

Congratulations to the four winners of our Audio Magazine Competition! To listen to the "A-Zine", click here: - alternatively, you can read the pieces below.

Light On The Bog - Jack McNamara

"A quirky, creepy tale - mysterious and strangely alluring."

“Stay, Sterne, across the wetland yonder the village of Garradrimna we’ll find.”

And at Master Hopkins’ behest the highway was departed, and we chanced traverse the bogs of the Irish with not the straight of the road nor the Lord’s light to guide our footings. The land way proved not arduous, but the day dimmed whilst we sought the bottom of it; with not the village discovered nor the highway traced again, we hurriedly lost any gauge of the landform and became jettison, floating in the dark night on the flat of the bog. I know not the insight within Master Hopkins’ mind that strayed us away from the highway, peradventure a suspect omen concealed in the stones on the road betook a forecast of danger of which his sense is attuned to configure. The darkness shrouded all the good of the light and trapped us out in the realm of the elements. With one hand rested on a tree I spoke: “Master Hopkins, if my next step were a plummet to the netherworld, I could not be certain, for the Devil in the night hath robbed our senses of the Lord’s direction.”

“The Devil hath no domain over the night, Sterne, for The Lord worketh not by candlelight. But speak of The Lord and he appeareth, for I spy a light in the distance yonder.” And Master Hopkins spake the divine truth, for in the distance I too spied a dim light like that of a candle, seeming some distance off, peradventure a field’s length away or on the horizon, for the dark engulfed nature’s matter and made all markers imperceivable.

“Hasten Sterne, let us catch our hosts before the light extinguisheth and forceth us to make bed amongst the puddles.”

And haste we made across the bogland. Over dykes we clambered, and through briars we

burrowed, the light caught in our gaze all the time we marched so not to plunge again into

surrender to the weed pillow. My breathe heaved from the trudging, my boots doing the work of otters amongst ground-pits, the odd stump or rock knocking my balance to penitence. Master Hopkins flew on ahead on the wings of the Holy Ghost. We had marched a mile if we had marched yard when my living ayre capitulated, and I came to rest myself against a tree lest my feet concede too.

“Stay please, Master Hopkins, for I must break, or I fear my bed will be made by a fall into the thorns.”

“And did not Christ bareth the thorns upon his crown and persevere? ’Ere yet halt we shall, Sterne, for I reckon I took the Lord’s name in vain when I spoke of Him and the light earlier, for with all the world we have travelled since spotting it, look at it with your eyes and pray tell me, is the light any nearer us, Sterne?”

I threw my eyes to Heaven for my forehead faced the Earth. The light still hung in the distance, neither moving nor flickering, and Master Hopkins proved himself again not a liar, for the light we pursued in silent longing over field and fen appeareth no closer than as it did when we set off.

“By God in Heaven,” I exclaimed and started, gripping my hand to the tree. A blast of revelation cracked across my mind then, and I cast my eyes up before trepidation froze my neck down, and I perceived that this tree I hug in fright to be the same as the tree I lay my hand upon when we first espied the wicked light.

“Master Hopkins, I believe a phantom hath lead us astray in foreign fallows, for here we stand at the mast where we began the chase for that terrible glow!”

“The Devil lured with false hope, and we ought to have perceived the illuminated icon for its true design; a new trap may encircleth us now; we make camp where we stand, Sterne, and we shall not fear the Lord’s darkness but embrace it above the Devil’s light!”

And with that, we lay where our boots touched the soil, and we cloaked our heads so not to view the phantom signal beyond the horizon. The ayre was cool, the ground cold, my wits frozen, a real unearthly spectre lingered within our sight – a truly inexplicable article, describable only by unreality and ungodliness. Master Hopkins did not snore, but he respired his heavy, steady nasal breath, as is his habit; he sleepeth. My gumption steadied like a twig fallen from branch, and snapped when I heard what I conjectured a boot step.

Yonder, behind myself and Hopkins, I half-detected a ghastly movement, like a poacher stalking game, taking a swift, calculated hop, then again, but to my front – not a yard ahead. Hopkins did not stir, his deep sniffs resounded above the savage sounds, a clockwork rhythm of civilisation against the chaotic cacophony of nature, declaring that even here in the wild kingdom, with no road nor fence, there be man who shall not be tamed by God’s unfavourite creatures. Were it not for Hopkins, I could not certify my outside calm, yet nor could I certify the ghost steps all around us. And now, a knock, and now, a brief sprint and stagger, at the tree where I stood and we made the foul discoveries.

I could appease my man-brain no longer, and so I put my mind to God, I spoke his prayer to myself within and without, over and over again with creak, and step, with shuffle and slide, with gust and crack, and as I passed to sleep, with the sounds of other breathes next to mine – shallow, irregular, horrible mouth breaths – and lastly, though whether in this world or the dream one too is beyond me to certify, laughter and babies’ cries.

Is rousing for the day’s work as a man and birth for the life’s work as a child any different a phenomenon? – Barring the perceived continuity of a person between this morning and last night, and the impervious gap before birth. Are we men defined by memory? I awoke with these thoughts before recalling myself: I am John Sterne. My father is James Sterne. I was birthed in England in the year of our Lord 1610, but this is not 1610, this is 1648. I am 38 years of age. Where I arise is not my native England but her lesser neighbour Ireland, and the man stood by the tree yonder, inspecting the country, is not my father, James, he is Matthew Hopkins.

“Arise, Sterne, and make thy bed; let not sloth bring the Day of Judgement to thee, for The Lord may not account thee fit for salvation if thy indolence removes thee from thy earthly duties before we accomplish our mission. Did God delivereth you to comfort thyself or to do the work of a man?”

In all my lifetime, afore Master Hopkins never hath done evil by diverting his speech from the Lord’s words, the truth, and in these words, he stayed his course. “What is the lay of the land Master? Late last night as I put myself to sleep I heard – though peradventure they were confused musings and half-imaginings – I thought I heard alien noises all around us, like a gang entrapping us, and then laughter Master Hopkins, and cries of a new born.”

“I do not know whether you ask if I heard your night noises too or not, but no, I slept soundly, Sterne, and I am awake some length of time now. As for the lay of the land, rely on your own sense and reason, for God bestowed you the same faculties as myself or any other man; go throw your gaze behind your familiar tree.”

I uprooted myself and walked to the tree of revelation. I planted my hand into its bark, where the night before the tree told me the horrible secret in that cursed marshland where Devil or witch or some wicked force morphed the land before us and denied us our straight trajectory, like the wretched tempestuous seas to the doomed sailor. This time, in the morning, in the light of day, the tree gifted to us a fresh discovery that the darkness of night hid from us, yet too a maddening mystery, for behind the tree, in clear and simple sight, not more than a hundred yards yonder from where we slept in terror, sat the village of Garradrimna.

The Escape - Gillian McInerney

"A poem about being present in nature - simple yet sweet."

Perhaps it’s time to let go

To wander into the night

Without a care

No light or compass

Or plan to get anywhere

To watch the dawn rise

Over wild flower fields

Dews gentlest touch

A time and space no longer yields

To lie upon the sunrays

Golden and untouched

It will be okay to just let go

Just let go

Walk headstrong down the unbeaten path

Head high toward the star

What you leave behind

Time will surely fade

As you travel ever far

Racing Me - Mike Guerin

"An exhilarating piece of flash fiction - deceptively deep and as fast-paced as the runner it portrays."

You kick at the blocks to find your perch and after you stiffen for ‘on your marks’, that’s it, nothing else, no-one else, even yourself, can push through, you look at your splayed hands, tense, ready to release, you hear ‘get set’ but you’re hearing in a different way, a heightened sense of thereness, you are up on your blocks, muscles you don’t always control have pulled your ears backwards to intercept the sound waves of the shot before anyone else and you hear it, when it happens, with your whole body and you’re up, the first three strides feel heavy and then you’re pumping your hands, you’re on rails, you are speed, you are air, your toes are barely touching the track, you just exist, you are free, for ten seconds, if you’re good, like me, complete peace, nirvana, the apogee of mindfulness, achieved through running as fast as you can, not sitting with your legs crossed, there is nothing else.

I’m lying on the grass near the hammer cage, staring at the bright blue sky, forcing myself to keep breathing through my nose, before the leaden weight of me catches up with I.

Hy-Brasil - Shane Leavy

"Wild and exciting."

My uncle, Máirtín, mad

since accumulated losses licked sense clean, strangles

his hooker’s lines, surging on the wine-dark sea

west of Inisheer. ‘There’s nothing there,’ Dad’d said but

the glaze of mad fever shone in Máirtín’s face,

lacquered with a layer of sweat slung over

oak-brown brows; he was always strong, and he still is

strong, God yes, my drowsy Dad never shared this sense

of being bathed in Christ’s baptismal flames. Máirtín screams

like a gull and I duck boom and cling, a crab, to the rudder

as we punch the air – sun straight in my face – then plunge

down again, penetrating waves, pounding west into pummelling mists.

These mists, sprung at dusk late this night as we danced west,

they hiss now or hang when the wind wanes and at times, Máirtín says,

you can hear through the veil women’s voices, wailing in pleasure;

God knows what treasure awaits. Night beckons now

and the weight of sleep wearies me, I droop on the darkened deck

as drops of salt dew drag on my jacket, slick over lips,

but Máirtín’s eyes flex, white, and he drives us on, west, west,

punching the veil of night and

tacking towards Polaris, stars pricking the sky. The

light’s fallen from my eyes and I hang, heaving,

half-dead with sleep, soaked, then snap straight at Máirtín’s howls.

Meteors scar the sky sleek white, making a maze

with planes and satellites; some light streaks, soundless

and strikes – it seems – the swollen sea, then Máirtín mouths:

‘By God, the gales give way to ground, lad, see?’ And he

is right, a marsh of samphire, scurvygrass and St. John’s wort,

sprawls over soft wet sands. Or I think it’s sand, at least,

glimmering damp in the stars, but a voice inside whispers: ‘No,

lad, Máirtín’s mad, it’s the waves, flapping in fierce shapes

that fill the star-thatched sea with the shape of sand.’ But Máirtín

grasps the salt-glazed acrylic of his jacket, prays with joy, and says:

‘there, boy, listen to the long laughter of these maidens,

they’re the ones who’ll not age but laze, sixteen and playful, forever.’

‘And what about the water?’ I say, remembering; ‘Water, yes, each

gulp of the sea’s waves is wine or beer if that’s your want,

the froth that washes ashore before Inisheer is the flecks of Guinness,

brewed by these mild maidens.’

Ah, I long for it, and a thirst sticks at my dry, salt-sprayed lips

with weariness, too, a longing to lounge full long half-hazed

with beer, with amber liquid and a lazy girl lying on my thigh,

thoughts turning to wildness but I see, unbidden, my father, bald

and morose with the lawnmower, or picking peapods from plants

clinging to pale bamboos in the scant garden and I hesitate and blurt:

‘Wait, Máirtín.’ His mad music-crazed eyes swivel like he sees

some seduction beyond me and he shrieks, a seagull: ‘Choose!’

I wait, he wails like a hare in noose and makes his choice

and I make mine, back, blinded by salt-spray and tears, slick

on my aching face, back, driven by the western winds to Galway Bay,

back to the dole queue, days of daydream daze over datasets,

gazing at grey skies, gasping at the gym and growing grey,

celebrating slow joys as I grow old; at house my hale

children cluster and hair greys and all’s well, all’s good, but gales

rise in the west on winter nights, I wake and wonder

about, Máirtín, mad

since accumulated losses licked sense clean, free.

Many thanks to all who submitted, and thank you to the readers! Particularly Imogen Cooney and Moonglade Commons - check out their Instagram here:

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