by Stephen Cole

Corruption, senescence, rot. The distressing cafes of Interzone in the summer: that thick, ropy smell, like almond blossoms, like ivy berries. See them slumped on their stools, thin purple lips wrapped tight around alabaster straws, their debauched attendants writing at their feet. Mugwump.

Purity, rectitude, condemnation. An arctic blast of air sweeping across the Hudson, sweeping the canyons clean for just an instant, New York in the summer of ’84. Spoils were heavy in the branches, sweet and heavy, so full of juice their skin split with it, gentle enticing tease of heavy syrup sliding out through a crack in peach-skin: no! Rectitude! Mugwump.

They are writers, essayists, playwrights. They sit too long over their unpleasant drinks, drenched in shadows, lashed in sunlight. They are sex and politics: breathing hot and heavy after the workings of the machine, always brokering backroom deals for backroom deals. Mugwump.