The Deer Hunter

This piece is in the latest issue of the eternally brilliant Razur Cuts. I’d like to dedicate this to the memory of my recently departed friend Geoff Johnston.

Go easy
Step lightly
Stay free

i hope you’re safe & well out there, because i got bad knees & bad days where i struggle to get upstairs, which is when i suffer from anxiety & simply can’t deal with people & in fact sometimes i get so confused when trying to understand all kinds of information that i’ve decided to self-quarantine & make myself unavailable on the phone, so please let me know if you get this.

i’ve just been watching The Deer Hunter for the first time on the telly & it reminds me how i used to think the lads i grew up with, who i loved platonically, who i never really fitted in with, were like the blokes portrayed in The Deer Hunter; me & geoff & garry & gord & raga & stevie & trev, but we weren’t really like those blokes from Pittsburgh, the Vietnam Vets in The Deer Hunter at all, so i didn’t get to be christopher walken who i dreamed about because he was mystical & beautiful & i used to jack off about him, though i kept all that sort of stuff secret because it was supposed to be Debbie Harry we all fancied back then, but i never fancied her or all the wonderful lasses we grew up, like Deborah & Jacqui & Lesley & Michelle & Sharon who never hit anybody & were always prepared to talk nicely to me because i never tried to nail them because i wanted to be their friend or maybe even one of them, but it didn’t happen, couldn’t happen, so i got away geographically but that was worse because i was lonely & didn’t know how to behave like an adult, so i just read & drank & smoked drugs with music on too loud & then i fooled myself into coming back & pretending i could be like everyone else, but i never have been happy, except when i was away & feeling happier, which is sad because that’s why i never did what i wanted to do & write books or act & now it’s too late & i might have stomach or bladder cancer, which is sad & no fucking good really, but at least it will make the type of people who prefer hank marvin’s version of Cavatina laugh when they take their dog out when they are killing things and i hope they kill me.

2022 CV

2023 has got off to a fine start, with the republication of The Sporting Life, which previously featured in Push #4 back in 2013, in the East London Press anthology Songs from the Underground, edited by Joe Ridgewell, as well as The Deer Hunter appearing in the ever excellent Razur Cuts XII. With this in mind, here’s a list of what saw the light of day in 2022 -:

The Great Hunger in Open Pen #28.

The Village in glove #9.

Mike Brearley never did this in glove #10.

Escape in TQ #56


This poem, performed in collaboration with Shunyata Improvisation Group at Cobalt Studios on Friday May 13th, is to be found in issue #56 of TQ magazine’s complementary publication dedicated to Shunyata Improvisation Group, as part of a longer piece, in which I consider the importance of their work -:


Monday 20th September 2022

Park Hotel, Byres Road, Glasgow.

10.45 Queen Street to Newcastle.

Alight at Alnmouth.

Walk south-east (341 ft).

Turn right onto Curly Ln (33 ft).

Turn left onto South View (0.2 mi).

At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto B1338 (0.7 mi).

At the next roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Northumberland St (249 ft).

Turn left onto The Wynd (308 ft).

Slight left at Marine Rd (0.4 mi).

Your destination, Alnmouth Beach, is on the left.

I’d like to dedicate this performance to:

Debbie – manipulated

Susan – forgotten

Julie – ignored

Sara – betrayed

Selina – intimidated

Svetlana – discarded

Susan – alarmed

Kay – distressed

Gemma – excommunicated

But most of all, this performance, this charade, this pantomime, is dedicated to

my beloved Shelley.

Identified. Exploited. Abandoned. Rejected. Betrayed.

Reconciled. Adored.  Worshipped. Loved.

Loved beyond reason. Loved beyond words. Loved beyond life.

Too Late; much too late.

This is why we are at the beach.

This is why we are entering the water.

This is why we are saying goodbye.

This is why we are shedding our skin.

This is why we are dissociating.

This is why we are drowning.

This is why we are leaving ian cusack behind.

This is why we are making our escape.

You can escape your identity.

You can’t escape your past.

You can escape your identity.

You can’t escape your sins.

You can escape your identity.

You can’t escape your guilt.

The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.

Mike Brearley never did this…

I am ashamed to share this with you, but I must tell you glove #10 will not be published, due to the incompetence of both printer and courier.

Despite telling me he’d have the magazines with me for 4th August, Tony Gilbert (for that is the printer’s name) let me down badly. He gave the package of 200 copies to the courier, but had put the wrong address on. The courier twice attempted to deliver the package to this wrong address and was refused on both occasions. Hence, he was to return it to the depot, so the address could be corrected and the package sent out again to me on 11 August. This did not happen and no explanation was forthcoming. Instead, I return from holiday today 18 August and email the printer in advance asking where the booklets are. He informs me that the courier has “lost” the package and that he has no interest in reprinting them, although he has sportingly agreed not to charge me…. Hence I’m unable to physically publish you, unless someone (Tar Quin?) can point me in the direction of a reliable local printer.

Sadly, therefore, in the absence of other options, I am considering making the PDF free to download from my website.  I am so, so sorry this has happened, but can’t think of a way around this.

Much love & fulsome apologies; those who have sent me money via PayPal will receive a refund in the immediate future. Here is a poem of mine that ought to have been in glove #10

This morning I went for my usual half ten coffee.

They didn’t have any soya milk.

I burst out crying, walked off site,

deliberately wandered into the main road.

Turned my back on the traffic, stood with my arms outstretched.

This postman who was driving the van that screeched to a halt

a couple of yards behind,

guided me back to the pavement.

Supportive, not judgemental; I think he was scared.

I didn’t say thanks. I should have done.

Instead, I walked off to the station.

Stood on the bridge, preparing to jump.

A couple of minutes later, I wised up.

It registered where I was and what could have happened.

Felt more shivery than foolish; went back to work.

Disproportionate responses to minor disappointments like this

demonstrate the increasing frequency of dissociative episodes

that show I need sectioned.

I am in danger of becoming a statistic, a report on the BBC website.

I have never been more frightened in my life.

And, all the while, you sat in the seat

where we used to sit,

laughed in the way

we used to laugh,

and shared those smiles

you once gave me.


Thank you for obtaining this copy of glove magazine. Please read it and, if you aren’t a hoarder of such artefacts, pass it on to someone who may appreciate the contents when you’re done with it. If you are a hoarder, collector, archivist or whatever, then treasure it because, as of now, I am parking, though not scrapping, the project, so the next issue, if there is to be one, may not appear for some considerable length of time.

Friends, I come not to bury glove, but to praise it, or specifically to laud and commemorate those who have contributed, in whatever fashion, to the continued existence of the magazine. I don’t propose to list all those who have helped, but suffice to say, if Jonathan Hope hadn’t provided the start up capital and Tony Gilbert hadn’t proved to be such an excellent printer, we’d never have made it past the planning stage. The first issue appeared in February 2017, which gives the publication a lifespan of 5 and a half years and counting. Having edited every one of glove’s 10 issues, I can honestly say that I’m immensely proud of what has been achieved during that time. I have had the honour of presenting the work of 125 different writers from many different countries and cultures who are linked, however tenuously, by a vague notion of being outside of the literary mainstream, though some like Michael Keenaghan and Holly Watson, should be millionaire superstars because they are, not to mince words, literary geniuses. The fact they are not, is the fault of the culturally impoverished times we live in and not because they are writers who explore their urge to create for aesthetic purposes and not for financial gain. While it has been an honour to publish such stellar talents, it has been a greater one to give public exposure to many gifted wordsmiths who have never seen a literary fanzine before, let alone appeared in one. Paddy Robinson, Candis Carr, Karen Ampleford and Damian King; I’m talking about you.

I started glove because I felt there was a gap in the market for a properly inclusive outsider lit zine. While Jim Gibson was doing sterling work in Nottingham with Hand Job and Derek Steel the same with Falkirk’s Razur Cuts, it seemed as if the rest of the market was dominated by Dark Fruits addled trustafarians and Hugo Boss attired Alpha Grandpas from desolate M25 satellite towns. I wanted to fight against that prevailing narrative, and I feel I did alright, but the law of diminishing returns has got me down; in issue #3 I published 24 new writers, which is down to 4 in issue #10. Additionally, I’m losing money hand over fist and can’t flog the meagre 200 print run I currently do. The creative well is drying out; it needs to organically replenish itself. When it does, glove will return. Until then, I’ll continue writing and performing, often with music. News is on social media; please take the time to follow me. Keep in touch and don’t be a stranger.

Much love,

ian cusack, editor


The Village

Issue #9 of glove is out now. Here’s my bit -:

Hope you’re enjoying a blissful day. I’m Sexy Charlotte; a U.S. Army officer from the United States of America. I am supportive and caring. I like swimming and cooking. I am gentle although I am a soldier. I’m kind, wanting to establish a mutual friendship with you about my village because I need to release my sexual frustrations fast and you can help.   

The village lies at an altitude of 690 metres and covers an area of 52.866 km². It has a population of about 1600 people. In 1265 the village purchased the rights to become a mining city and citizens began mining gold. The village sign depicts a miner and a hoe and has been unchanged since then. Mining eventually proved unsustainable due to the poor gold lode and high expenses incurred because of the rough terrain. Some of the gold miners went to the brigand Pacho, who helped poor people and fought with poorness.

In 1390 the village became the property of the district administrator and a villein small town of domination. Between the 14th and 15th centuries, mining gave way to farming and crafts. Despite the villein ratio, the village was an important farming and culture centre between the late-19th and mid-20th centuries. More than 20 kinds of crafts were in the village but the most widespread were the builders, who became famous specialists at building.

Facilities in the village currently include an infant school, elementary school, palace of culture, Evangelical Church, Roman Catholic Church and library. The memorable houses of Dobroslav Chrobák, Jakub Grajchman and Alojz Štróbl are on the Central list of ancient monuments.  The entire centre of the village is promulgated for national cultural treasures.

The village created a strong sports background, so local sportsmen get awards in the competitions, primarily in the cross-country skiing, table tennis, badminton, football, and winter hockey. The village has very good conditions for winter sports, cyclo-tourism, tourism in the gully or into the mineral springs, and for mushrooms. There is situated a ski lift and certified racing track. In the village is a volunteer fireman brigade. Today’s citizens of the village take pride in their cultural history, on men of the day, which came from the village and proved competent in a number of areas of social and cultural life.

So, are you happy? Tell me because I will come to you as soon as you want. I am underemployed and just at home. I will be your love friend if you need one. I can pick you up after job with my car. Then you can also see what I look like. I also have hot pictures. I hope you like them. The sooner we can agree on something, the better. I feel I need that closeness now. I don’t want to wait long to hear from you! Hug. Sexy Charlotte

The Great Hunger

I have fulfilled a long standing ambition by having a story published in the excellent Open Pen magazine. Issue #28 features this piece by me -:

This all happened because of an unbearable hunger that hit us just before two o’clock in the morning. We’d eaten a light supper at nine, crawled into bed at eleven, and fallen asleep. Three hours later, we woke simultaneously when the pangs struck. Tremendous, overpowering hunger pangs. The fridge didn’t help. A dozen cans of Pepsi, a bag of red onions and half a tub of Tesco’s own brand cheese spread. With only a decade of cohabitation behind us, my wife and I had yet to establish a precise understanding of the etiquette of grocery shopping.  

We were too hungry to go back to sleep, but it actually hurt just to lie there, so we did the sensible thing and opened a Pepsi each, reasoning that the gas from the fizzy pop would fill our empty stomachs. It was a better option than eating raw onions. While I was drinking my first can, she searched the kitchen cupboards like a famished detective. Eventually, she turned up four rice cakes. They were, soft and soggy, but we ate them with a scraping of cheese spread, savouring every crumb. The pangs, unassuaged, still raged.

We discussed going back to bed, even though neither of us had to be up early, and came to the conclusion there was no use in even trying to get some sleep. Time oozed through the dark vacuum of my gut. I ripped open another Pepsi. I read the print on the cans. I stared at my watch. I looked at the refrigerator door. I turned the pages of yesterday’s paper. I used the edge of a postcard to scrape together the cookie crumbs on the table, then swept them to the floor, while she hunted the kitchen for more fragments of food. Like soundless waves from an undersea earthquake, my hunger gave the boat of my fatigue a long, slow rocking. The feeling of starvation provoked a deep headache. Every twinge of my stomach transmitted itself to the core of my head, as if my insides were equipped with complicated haulage machinery.

My wife came into the living room. While her excavations had failed to uncover anything else to eat, she didn’t return empty handed. She expansively proffered a sawn-off shotgun. Nestling it on a blanket draped across her upturned palms, she explained there was only one solution. “We have to forage for food.” She was right.

We got into the car and started drifting around the streets at 2:30 a.m., looking for somewhere that was open and could provide us with food. A bakery, a convenience store, a garage, a supermarket; anything would do. The two of us; me clutching the steering wheel, she in the navigator’s seat, literally riding shotgun, cradling the shooter, that was lovingly swaddled in a woollen comforter, while we both scanned the streets like optimistic vultures. On the backseat lay two black balaclavas.  Why my wife owned a shotgun, I had no idea. Married life is like that.

We were initially unable to find an all-night food source.  Twice we encountered police patrols. One car was huddled at the side of the road, trying to look inconspicuous. The other slowly overtook us and crept past, finally moving off into the distance. Both times I grew damp under the arms, but my wife’s concentration never faltered.

We’d driven through the city centre several times, crisscrossing in wide arcs that took us down main arterial roads connecting the retail, commercial and entertainment hub with the slumbering suburbs. Taking her vigilant silence as assent, I deviated from the previous route and took the main road north, where the houses became grander and more widely spaced, before disappearing completely to be replaced by large, open fields. Eventually we found ourselves at a large intersection that acted as the mouths of competing hi-tech, light industrial parks. Centres of imperceptible, though unceasing, mental labour.

“Stop the car!” she demanded, so I slammed on the brakes. The closed units formed silent glass shields either side of the road. To our right, there was an illuminated sign for Greggs bakery. Nothing else stirred. “Let’s eat,” she commanded.  I drove to Greggs and parked up. We donned our balaclavas, then got out the car. My wife rolled back the blanket a little, allowing the stock to peep mischievously into view, before bringing the piece lovingly to her breasts. The thing was as heavy as human regret.

“I won’t fire it. Promise.”

When we entered the shop, a girl behind the counter immediately flashed us a smile and said, “Welcome to Greggs,” before reality intervened. Confronted by a masked duo, one of whom brandished a sawn-off, the girl gaped. Obviously, the Greggs hospitality manual said nothing about how to deal with a situation like this. Her mouth seemed to stiffen, and words wouldn’t come out, but even so, like a crescent moon in the dawn sky, the hint of a professional smile lingered at the edges of her lips. I hadn’t imagined that young girls would work the nightshift at Greggs, so the sight of her confused me for a second, until I reasoned a 24/7 outlet in a nearly deserted retail park was probably seen as pretty a safe place to be in the dead of night.

There were no other customers and only three Greggs workers: the girl at the counter, the manager, a bloke with a pale, egg-shaped face, probably in his late twenties, and a thin shadow of a man, peeking in from the kitchen. My wife shooed them together with a menacing sweep of the gun barrel. The employees stood together behind the counter, staring into the muzzle of my wife’s shotgun like curious tourists. No one screamed, and no one made a threatening move. The gun was so heavy she had to rest the barrel on top of the cash register, her finger on the trigger.

“I’ll give you money,” said the manager, his voice hoarse.  He looked at the muzzle of the gun atop the register, then at my laughing wife, and then back at the gun. “Please let me give you the money.” My wife spoke flatly, without menace.

“Thirty Steak Bakes. To take out.”

The three employees exchanged baffled expressions and helpless shrugs, then went into the kitchen area together and started assembling our order. The shadow, the manager and the girl worked in perfect harmony. Nobody said a word.

My wife leaned against a big refrigerator, aiming the gun toward the oven. The sweat smell of processed meat and oily pastry burrowed into every pore of my body like a swarm of microscopic bugs, dissolving into my blood and circulating to the farthest corners, then massing together inside my hermetically sealed hunger cavern, clinging to its pink walls. I watched the pile of blue and white wrapped Steak Bakes growing nearby. I wanted to grab and tear into them, but I could not be certain that such an act would be consistent with our objective. I had to wait. In the hot kitchen area, I started sweating under my balaclava.

The Greggs people sneaked glances at the muzzle of the shotgun. My wife scratched her ears with the little finger of her left hand. Jabbing her finger into an ear through the wool was making her gun barrel wobble up and down, which seemed to bother them. It couldn’t have gone off accidentally, because she had the safety on, but they didn’t know, and we weren’t about to tell them. My wife counted out the finished pile of Steak Bakes and put them into three shopping bags, ten to a bag.

“Why do you have to do this?” the manager asked us. “Why don’t you just take the money and buy something proper? What’s the good of eating thirty Steak Bakes?”

My wife explained, “We’re hungry. This is our only option.” The manager responded with a complicated head movement, sort of like nodding and sort of like shaking. He was probably trying to do both at the same time. I thought I had some idea how he felt. Then my wife ordered two large Pepsis from the girl and paid for them on her card. Contactless.  Once finished, she rewrapped the gun in the blanket, while I got the shopping bags.

We drove for a half hour, to the seaside. I found an empty parking lot by a metal warehouse on the dockside, and pulled in. There we ate Steak Bakes and drank our Pepsis. I sent six Steak Bakes down to the cavern of my stomach, while she ate four. That left twenty Steak Bakes in the back seat. Two shopping bags full of Steak Bakes. Our hunger that had felt as if it would go on forever, vanished as the dawn was breaking. The first light of the sun dyed the warehouse’s filthy walls purple. Soon the whine of delivery truck tyres was joined by the chirping of birds. The radio was playing modern cowboy music. We shared another Pepsi. Afterward, she rested her head on my shoulder and, with a deep sigh, fell asleep.

She felt as soft and as light as a kitten.

West Yorkshire Nocturne

This poem was originally composed in December 1997. It has been revised a fair few times since then, before appearing in The Waxed Lemon, a wonderful magazine from Waterford.

Left the Leeds to Bradford train

stopped at signals near Bramley.

All I could see this was this pissed bloke,

beating up his teenage son

beside a broken park bench.

Bleak Sunday.

car park deserted, except for broken glass.

Relief came slowly;

3 litre bottle of cider and six cans of Pils,

from Morrisons opposite the station.

Darkness, rain and me, drinking hard.

Mused about that lass from Hebdon Bridge,

murdered when out getting cornflakes.

The inescapable truth is the lucky ones get killed.

the losers don’t.

Sadistic wind at a graffitied bus stop,

I’m too old for this pantomime.

Living out a Ken Loach film where

The only certainties are Kev Thomas is a grass and

Wayne Nixon is going to die.

Wayne Nixon is going to die.

2020 & 2021 CVs

For no good reason I can recall, I didn’t post last year’s creative published CV, so here’s a double edition covering writing during lockdown.


Snowball in glove #7

Normally in Razur Cuts IX


Dalliance in Lost Futures #2

Twenty 20 in glove #8

One Way Traffic in Verbal #8

West Yorkshire Nocturne in The Waxed Lemon Winter 2021

Normally collected in Finest Cuts

One Way Traffic

I’m honoured to have this story in Verbal #8

Joey Quinn knew he’d never fit in. Not from round these parts. Dropped his aitches. Talked through his nose. Estate English: the generic underclass lingua franca used by all the start-overs from Kings Lynn to Poole and Swindon to Folkestone he’d come across in this place. Millport House. Former council OAP home. Bought by a housing charity for a nominal fee. Modest refurb. Hospital stink corridors. Harsh strip lights. Institutional spec flats. Scotchguard carpets. Functional white goods. Communal laundry and bin room.  Single occupancy units providing supervised, independent accommodation for those displaced by forced or emergency housing resettlement orders. Bed sits with sophisticated CCTV, monitored access, a couple of Security Guards, mute and menacing, on the welcome desk 24/7 and the cops, social workers, community mental health team and probation service all on speed dial. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.

Joey got the nod when a vacancy occurred. Young tea leaf from Dunstable on recall.  Caught taxing a litre of Smirnoff in ASDA. Cell door closes as another opened for Joey Boy. Travel warrant and a tenner spend in his back pocket. Bagged his stuff and headed for the midnight Megabus. Straight on the back seat of the 90% empty coach heading north. Never looked back. Best night sleep since he got out.

Joey had always loved his music. The records were all gone, but he still remembered the turntable and the speeds. 16. 33. 45. 78. Mid-teens he’d wonder how life would pan out. At 33 things had been alright, but the static and surface noise in his head got louder and he stuck in a locked groove, scratched to fuck and unplayable. No chance of making 78, like his old man’s solitary brittle, broken shellac disc. Nat “King” Cole singing Unforgettable.  Joey binned the fucker once his dad had gone. Binned everything. Needed to split.

Home sink estate given away to a “Property Action Group.” Financial inducements to ship out. Bespoke refits. Young professionals on peppercorn rents. Soft mortgages for first time buyers. Softer ones for buy to let speculators. Sitting tenants got fuck all, except rent rises higher than inflation. Joey’s old girl worried herself to death with the pressure and the old man followed her down cemetery road with a broken heart. 5 minutes from the station and only half an hour to Waterloo, this place was no country for old men. Joey began his own journey on the Hades Express with drink and pills. A dozen years, with half of it in a tunnel of hate before he reached the end of the line. Hit the buffers. Sat crying on the thin mattress atop a plywood frame in a soft jail where the doors locked on both sides, but they still knew where you were and what you were doing every minute of the fucking day.   

Joey lived in his head. Looked at the neighbours closely. The younger ones either 5 foot nothing and 7 stone wringing wet, head to toe in McKenzie snides or four eyed, human space hoppers pushing 300 pounds, in spray-on Jacamo bell tents, lisping and pouting: barrage balloon beasts. Older ones fucked by the drink. Skin and eyes shot to shit, with a constant fear of conversation. Malnourished smackheads. Morbidly obese mincers. Decayed pisscans. Dole scum who wouldn’t work, couldn’t work, never had, complaining about Asylum Seekers taking their jobs and houses back home. The cream of the Home Counties transplanted 300 miles in the hope of a new dawn that never broke, unlike Joey’s spirt, resolve, and heart.

Sunday night. Sawed his veins with an improvised chib; craft knife blade embedded in blu tac and gaffer tape. Blood burst. Fountained through his tears. Pooled on the mattress protector, soaked the wet bedding. Security guard dozing, smartphone in hand. Didn’t do the patrol. Monday morning reveille. Joey gone for good. Cries and screams. Investigation. Inquest. Cremation.

Fortnight later Cara Allington, crack dealer’s moll turned grass from Gillingham, climbs on board at Victoria and doesn’t look back.