Retro

Oz Hardwick

The room is how I like it, with its polished chrome stools and tasteful LED glow. At one end, a vintage arcade game synthesises explosions and emotions in an ecstasy of colours. At the other, the chequered floor falls away to the sea a hundred feet below. Rapt in the game, the boy who never grew up, sloppy in hand-me-downs, batters buttons as if he knows his life depends on it, shaking tiny universes in and out of being. His schoolwork will never be done, and he’ll be up all night, polishing chrome, populating the worlds he’s fashioned from his pent-up rage, and pining on the edge of the abyss for a life more like sitcoms or sci-fi novellas. And lest I be misunderstood, the boy is not me and his worlds are his own, just as my words are my own, polished like chrome and falling away at the edge of a room that resembles a vintage arcade game. I don’t know how many lives I have left, but I hope to spend at least one with the woman who bumbles in with a basket of books, flush-faced, in an ecstasy of colours.

Oz Hardwick is a European poet, photographer, occasional musician, and accidental academic, whose work has been widely published in international journals and anthologies. At time of writing, his most recent publicstions are the prose poetry chapbook Reports Come In (Hedgehog, 2022), the co-edited (with Anne Caldwell) book Prose Poetry in Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2022), the album Paradox Paradigm with interdimensional space rock band Space Druids, and a magazine interview with rock legend Arthur Brown. Oz is Professor of Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University and his cat is called Louis. www.ozhardwick.co.uk

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