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Magazine, I knew you long before you were. I’ve walked through parks in summer, head full of everything but you, looked out at a calm lake, and suddenly seen you standing there, your outlines, the vague shape of you, your finger pointing somewhere, away, in the distance. Magazine, you taskmaster. Oh you Dickensian, ferociously sideburned, you whipcracking fellow, asking me for my time card, wondering aloud what happened on Wednesday. You with your knuckleduster. You with your look. Magazine, you insomniac, standing there in the small hours. You with your bullhorn, pouring the coffee, popping the pill-jar, playing the cornet. Pouring your attitude right in my lugholes. ‘What are you going to do about that sonnet on page 37?’ Magazine, many people have been concerned about you. I know this because they have sent me e-mails. I have read their e-mails out loud to the night, to see if the night could make any sense of them. The night has remained largely silent. Magazine, you’ve wanted the lot, the treasure chest and the key, the bun and the lion tamer. Alright, I don’t mind you having this part of my brain for some daylight hours. But it’s really a bit much for you to show up, uninvited, when I’m re-watching Teen Wolf or playing gin rummy, going for a run, or imagining how one day I might go for a run. Magazine, fair play, we’ve had all the good times. Those poems which showed up on the fifteenth of the month, the name of the writer blurred to a cloud-shape, the envelope marked with something that looked like blood, and inside word after word after word that was beautiful. Magazine, how happy you were then. I remember you cartwheeling, jiving, giggling, out there, under the streetlights. Your slipstream was glitter. Magazine, I’ve fought for you, put the gloves on and walked into the ring, an 80s soundtrack at my back, a dressing gown with an alliterative name sewn on in sequins. Gone ten rounds with that big Russian who questioned your desire that writers should be paid for their work. I’d like to think you were in my corner, with the Vaseline and the bucket, the reassuring stories, but hey, I’m not kidding myself. Magazine, it was you who was promoting the fight. Magazine, remember that barney we had on the 22nd? I maintain there’s a right way and a wrong way to use a semi-colon. I maintain it was a bit much to reach for the bread knife. But who could turn down an apology card with those stanzas hand-lettered so carefully inside? Magazine, you jigsaw puzzle. Even when all the pieces were assembled, I’ve sat there like an ill man, spread them all out on the coffee table, found every piece was clear blue sky. Magazine, how those pieces have fallen through my fingers. Magazine, you card trick. I’ve long suspected what it is you’re hiding up your sleeves. You with the custard pie, the glamorous assistant. You with the plastic flower that squirts out water.

Oh magazine! You taskmaster-insomniac-boxing promoter-jigsaw puzzle-card trick! I have wondered about you. I have wondered about you greatly. I have wondered how many mixed metaphors I can include in your editorial. Magazine, that’s it now, the lot, all you’re getting. Little heartbeat, little git, it’s time for you, away, on you go now. Go find yourself a pair of eyes that loves you. Go find yourself someone to hold you in their hands, on a park bench this autumn, some afternoon when sunshine says I’m still here, leaves use the wind as their own personal rollercoaster, and one duck sails itself across the pond towards you, quacking. Magazine, I hope you get everything you wanted. I hope you get birthday cake with a squillion candles. I’ve done what I can and here, this is it, now. Take flight, little angel. Spread your wings. Bugger off.


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