‘Shorter Every Time’

by Fanxi Liu


There’s a man in your soap bubbles, you notice on Wednesday. You almost swirl him down the drain with the rest of your day, but snatch the suds out in the nick of time. Indigo-gold-dogwood membrane films his features; nonetheless, you get the distinct impression that he’s addressing the arch of your left nostril with some intent. Strain as you may, you can’t make anything out but a faint crackle, and eventually you tip your palm, wash your hands of the whole matter. Semi-intimate wink of shared disappointment into the plughole; the tap spatters on. Quiet human connection always gets your day off to a pleasant start.


A cart, a grass verge, dust dry on your feet. You can feel the edges of the air where the donkey’s ears should be. There are two black dogs by the roadside, tongues scudded with foam, but they don’t concern you. The cart creaks along in the hands of an old woman in wooden sandals; as you draw closer, you see the soles are almost worn through. You wonder if she ever sold whole dreams, light-molten shimmer intact, instead of a bundle of deflated skins to blow up at the cost of what little hope, dignity you have left. You wonder if anyone would touch her, then, even in their minds.


Two men in white coats, one crouching before a dome bigger than the both of them, one kneeling.  Hearts suspended anywhere but in their chests. The page turns with an almighty crack across the glass, sea-sharp bitter-blue. They fall back, ears ringing with the sound, knowing that no amount of fingers crammed into the fissure can stem the rush of ammonia. Two men with brown on their hands. Walk away with palms stinging.

The Poor Print

Established in 2013, The Poor Print is the student-run newspaper of Oriel College, Oxford. Written by members of the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff, new issues are published fortnightly during term. Our current Executive Editors are Siddiq Islam and Jerric Chong.

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