Philip Gross – In the Small Town …

In the Small Town ... ... of Peace, there's a splintering cat-fight. It's Saturday night. Magda, Kirsty, again. The lads, knee deep already in lager and shots, wade in deeper, and there's talk of bottlings and big bastard uncles, and I'll have you, pikey, cunt, you wait, and now the morning after. Peace has this bruised light and a headache in it. It will have to heal and be swept, that spilled self-pity, the splinters that will prick and bleed under each other's skin for weeks. And this is peace, yes, this is not an aberration. If the shuttered arcade can't be rattled and still wake, still peace, just - if only our hushed selves will do, then it was never Peace. Small town or seething banlieu, in the war zone even, peace makes its incursions. The shared fag before. Or in the shattered stairwell, three kid soldiers holding her, clothes ripped, at gunpoint; one waves her away. She's like his sister's friend, her with the buck teeth, Magda, was it, and the stupid laugh, but you know, he knows, she doesn't deserve this, in the end.

Philip Gross is a poet and sometimes a writer for children, novelist and playwright. He won T.S.Eliot Prize 2009 and Wales Book of The Year 2010. Recent collections Deep Field and Later dealt with his father’s final years and loss of language. He teaches at the University of South Wales. In the Small Town … is shortly to appear in The Arts Of Peace, ed. Adrian Blamires and Peter Robinson (Two Rivers Press And The English Association, 2014) Publication date: 28 July 2014