1669 c/o Nicola Belte

He was a man of signs. The day he saw the Blessed Virgin’s face as he collected olives in his grandfather’s grove, he moved to the monastery. He didn’t ask questions.

Never was a brother so pious. His desires, his attachments, his previous life, all friable petals in the gust of his faith. He let language go. Chattering and chirping only pinioned the dove, and his silent devotion set it free; let it swoop across the orchards on the lower slopes of the mountain, bringing signs of God’s grandeur back to his heart.

He was ready, waiting.

Then she called for him.

He’d lie on his hard bed and feel her moving in the distance, growing impatient. He’d wake an hour earlier, and read the scriptures by candlelight late into the night, knowing he couldn’t placate her forever; knowing that she wouldn’t wait; knowing that he’d go to her. She knew his nature. She left him signs. Summer leaves curling up crisp at the edges; singed butterflies falling from the sky like shrivelled black confetti; dead, dehydrated flies coating the stone floor of his cell.

He’d go without breakfast, halve his portion at lunchtime; pulling vegetables from the rich, black earth and plucking fruit in the heat of the afternoon with his head spinning and his stomach cramping, still not tempted to take a bite.

He’d dream of her; feel her burning kisses across his stomach, her lip prints scolding, sticky; molten wax seals upon his skin, closing the deal, branding him “hers”.

He’d awaken feeling trapped; gasping for air, with his lips cracked and his eyelashes scalded away, the smell of burnt flesh heavy in the air.

He’d lift his gown and kneel on broken glass in the courtyard, his head pressed flat to the dusty ground as the sun rose, chanting, to keep out the growing roar of her laughter.

The dreams got worse. Women with frightful black tongues surrounded him, stroking him, their features obscured by thick smoke, permitting him only the odd glimpse of a sunken, lustful eye, or a gaping, blazing mouth. They’d pull him towards them, and he’d feel that he was plunging headfirst into a fiery pit, into bottomless perdition, into an unfathomable, sulphurous abyss where red magma pools glowed fierce in an unyielding blackness, and where he’d die; time and time again. He clawed at them, screaming, begging as he dangled, their skin coming loose in his fingers, peeling away from their charred bones, laughing as they exploded into sparks and ashes, letting him fall.

He woke with blisters on his hands, with embers on his soles, and thirsty, always thirsty. He knew that this was a test. She wanted to see if he was faithful. He stopped drinking altogether. His tongue felt swollen, engorged, alien; his head pounded and his skin crackled as he writhed; his limbs like tinder, impossibly dry.

She taunted him. Sent him dreams of beautiful water nymphs in white Roman gowns; who’d dance around him, wet skin gleaming, splashing him with the droplets that they squeezed from their long, golden hair. He wasn’t a fool; he saw their combustibility, the flames kindling behind their aquamarine eyes, what lay beyond their tranquil smiles. He’d plead to wake up, will his eyes to open, but they’d come for him, holding back his head as he gagged and bucked, pouring jug after jug of water down his throat, until he’d snatch for it, and even knowing what they were, take it from their cold, dead fingers and drink, and drink.

He could barely move from his cell. His face was waxen, gaunt, like a penitential candle left to burn too long. He couldn’t sleep. Nothing now passed his lips. His brothers let him be, let him recede. They knew the ways of God, knew the path of devotion. They didn’t ask questions. They knew the signs too. He lay there, in silent spiritual repose, waiting.

And then she came.

He heard the commotion in the streets, the loading up of carts; the fervent, futile pleas for mercy. He staggered to the window. Black smoke. The mountain streaked with red and orange, the sky seemingly on fire as blackened rocks rained down on the city below. She moved slowly, regally, all of nature bowing down as she passed, jealousy taking back what was hers, clutching it to her core as all fell to cinders around her.

She wanted him. He knew that she was coming for him, and refused to leave. He wouldn’t abandon her.

He watched the sky darken, growing denser with ash, saw her snake towards him in waves of undulating magma, almost hypnotised. She took the fields, the apple trees and the lemon groves, the villages, the homes, the streets, but still he stayed firm, praying for his weak legs to support him, until it was time.

He hobbled out into the deserted streets, feeling his way along the monastery’s wall, blinded by the grit that made his lungs feel as though they were being compressed by wrenching fingers of fire. He could see nothing but her, hear nothing but her, feel nothing but her breath upon his skin, seductively smouldering, drawing him in.

He took off his robe. He wanted to experience her completely, his life was made for this; this was his purpose, his fate. He wanted her to assimilate him, to consume him, to annihilate him, completely. She burst through the gates of the monastery, and he smiled. He thought of the Blessed Virgin’s face that had brought him there, thought of the sun on his face the day he’d arrived, that greeted him like a benediction. He closed his eyes, and waited for her kiss.

1668 c/o Sully Sanchez

a new universal language

yeh i have indigestion

   ahhhh where u @, my only father
i am both of ur DADs

   strap me to the ground im cryeing

   get crunk
get skype tonight
ur a bearded man after all

   these picture
Look at how much nature
nature is
so nature
   i am It

a diarrhoea is
a Pizzeria
except .

   i can feel lonely
jesus take The   Wheel

i am
  wall Street
  can i

i might
put me

   sear me please somehow
   a bit

actually fucking slam me in the 0ven alrdy
   im sick of defrosting

o k i washed me

haaha i am sick of washing me now so i stopped
wa tcounts as nature today
   it is more dark than pictures

i want

1667 c/o Clam Simmons

John Milton

When young I was famous for great hair
it grew as I grew handsome in appearance
At school I trained to master the rapier’s grip
I wielded the bit like Attician wit. My fertile
mind was perpetually agape ready to devour
the works of Latin as if English were classic
tongue. My sails have been swayed by tempting
breezes, the courting bellows of pandemonium
but the long arms of horde’s approval could not
pull me away from pressing into the dominant
catalogues of thought. I lost decades to the raptures
of discovery, slurping through vellum
like a drunkard at the bunghole. The lucubration
‘twas epick, the long journey of learned reverie
required eternal squinting by candlelight
the glow of my pearls diminished to a desperate
pawing as if my eyes could beg Phoebus to hold
still the setting sun’s chariots, to suspend
the horses that ride into the dusk. Raving,
I spent dark seasons contending with bedlam’s
urges resigning myself to the manacles
of shadow. Mercifully my daughters read
to me, nursing the poison from my depraved state
feeding me, sliced chapters of the familiar
loaves of my conviction. Sometimes at night
after working the office of dictation I snuff
the wicks so the house may swallow a portion
of my daily fare. I imagine in the momentary
yoke of dull faculty we share lamentation.
Our weak body reminded of the strong judge,
who, with shorn locks and pricked eyes
supplicated for renewed agency. Unsatisfied
with mere petition, Samson pressed out to topple
the pillars, binding no strange foxtails in the service.
Juxtaposed, my conquerors are immaterial restraints
I struggle to teem through hallowed shutters
to escape the hindrance of my immediate cell,
to capture a script of the fall before the great release.
Finally exhausted, I might see Eden in the sequel.

1666 c/o Wes Schofield

Newton vs. Satan
The battle for 1666
Newton awoke the first of January, 1666, at an o’clock of the a.m. At precisely the same time but in an alternate dimension, Satan, a.k.a the Lord of all Evil, rose from his slumber with a massive splitting headache. Identical in tone and timbre to the pounding drum housed inside the mind of the as yet to be named Sir Isaac Newton. Headaches, both the result of imbibing too many drinks the night before. Newton finished off an entire case of last year’s vintage with a few friends he was entertaining at the Salon. Satan, meanwhile, had been sipping a heady brew made from the fermented souls of hell’s most tortured victims while watching the ball drop at Times Square on his new plasma TV. The pair of them having personalities prone to self-indulgence, especially when under the influence, each spent the last hour before midnight denouncing their opponents and boasting of the great things they had in store for the New Year. Yet, come the light of day, neither felt up to even the slightest amount of greatness and spent the whole afternoon into the evening deep beneath the covers vowing never to drink again. Only Newton awoke at midnight to discover Calculus.

Down in Hell, come springtime, Satan had yet to come up with anything which might fulfil his promises of the New Year, while Newton had gone on to split light with a prism and prove a rainbow is held within. If Satan wasn’t careful he was going to lose the tenuous grip he held on all the Demons of the underworld. Already he could tell they were beginning to suspect he had nothing to do with the great plague that had ravished England of at least a million citizens in the past year. If he didn’t do something soon to distract them he might have an uprising on his hands.

His chance finally came when, at end of a long hot summer, a fire broke out in London and quickly spread to engulf almost the entire city. Seizing the opportunity to lie his way into the forefront he took all the credit. Even the most murderous of his minions could not fail to be impressed by the complete lack of compassion required to take an already embattled city down to its ashen foundations.

Crossing his fingers, Satan went to visit his nemesis that evening hoping to find the house burned the to ground and Newton’s charred remains. Instead he found him hard at work in his study, seemingly unaware of the chaos spewing forth around him. Satan peered over Newton's left shoulder and saw pages of numbers and symbols all, to him, incomprehensible mathematical scribbling. But at the top of the page was written a word he could actually read, “Gravity”.

Furious, Satan returned to hell and locked himself away in his room. He could not allow Newton to show him up again; perhaps he might be able to discover this Gravity first. Three days he spent watching the Discovery Channel and carrying out crude experiments involving a bowling ball and a feather. By the end all he could come up with was F is equal to M times A. Where “F” is the amount of Fritos consumed, “M” is the number of times he would murder Newton if he had the chance and “A” is absolutely how little he understands what the hell he is talking about.

After the third day, he began to hear the rumbling of growing mob outside his door. He blasted the volume on his surround sound until it pierced his eardrums and he could ignore the screams of hell’s fury no longer.

“What? What do you want?” he asked. “I was about to find out how much feces ends up on the average toothbrush.”

“Fraud,” the crowd chanted at him. It seemed the fires of London were now under control, and through there was a lot of property damage, only six people died. Worse than that, however, the fire had put an end to the plague by cleanly disposing of the corpses and killing all the rats that had been spreading the disease.

Satan could think of only one person to blame: “Newton”.

Satan found him sitting under an apple tree reading a book. Typical. Climbing the tree, Satan hovered over him whispering hushed threats and vulgarities. He wanted to strike him dead with a bolt of lighting but pride stopped him. He had to get one over on this pedantic dork. Looking over he spotted an apple hanging just out of reach. Inspiration struck. The old apple trick, it never fails, no one had yet been able to resist the temptation of all the knowledge in the universe. Satan smiled and leaned over to snatch the fruit. But as his weight shifted the branch he reached towards snapped.

The apple fell.

1665 c/o Katy Gunn

Robert Hooke Studies Cells
He brings all his vegetables back to his room. His table is covered in carrots and fennel. Burdock and reeds under his bed. He makes another microscope. He writes a heavy book with illustrations. He makes a little money and puts it under his bed. Still his table is covered in carrots. Still he spends every day bent over his magnifying discs, windows to the insides of other rooms. Bare floors there. No tables. No beds. Underneath, no scraps of paper scattered in thistles and dust, no cramped script noting such tiny little rooms, the most delicate order imaginable.