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prosetry

Life As We Know It (Now)

Fortnightly overdoses and falling asleep in the bath

Ridiculous wine descriptions and tattooed knuckles

Antiseptic and anticipation

Disappearing acts and swapping house keys

Superglue and frozen teeth

A stolen bottle of mustard and an Irish funeral

Forgetting and failing and faking and Fuck Forever-ing

Rusty kisses and missing the last bus

Betting slips and 56 missed calls

Vanilla vodka and the First Casualty of War

Coffin shopping and cryptic crosswords

LSD and the ghost of Keats on Hampstead Heath

Tampon strings and sewing machines

Vape sticks and scaffolding

Tinned peaches and bascule bridges

Hugo Boss shirts and serial killers

A shelf-less bookshelf and ignoring aeroplane safety demos

Swimming to Mexico and believing in angels

3-day stubble, you’re bang in trouble, double up for £1

Pinching each other because we aren’t entirely convinced that we’re alive

Marriage proposals and morphine dreams

Rhetorical questions and infinite eggshells

Spying on the neighbours and eating jam doughnuts with a knife and fork

Lordship Lane and waking up with two black eyes

The United States of Shock and Dismay

Blonde on Blonde and asphyxiation

A pint of daffodils and the view from the bell tower

Blood tests and a ouija board

Perjury and the 4 hour Happy Hour

Grey hairs and burnt toast and wondering what the hell it’s all about

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art, fiction

Wrinkles in Time

I started teaching A Wrinkle in Time to one of my students. I thought it would be appropriate for his level since I’d never read it.

Around half way through the first chapter, he stops me.

“High school?” he asks.

I nod. I point at him. “Elementary school,” I say. “Then, Middle school,” I continue, laying my hand flat and rising it a little.

“And University?” he asks.

“After high school.”

He nods. I smile. I ladder my hands as I repeat.

“Elementary, Middle school, high school, then, university.”

“Ah,” he says, he mimics my motions.

“Elementary school, Middle School, High School, then, work?”

I nod.

“Then,” he screws up his face, “death?”

He drags his finger across his throat and his tongue falls out of his mouth. His head falls to his chest. He tries not to smile.

“I suppose so,” I say. He laughs, I laugh.

He makes the dead motion again, killing the joke.

“Well, you know, there is retirement,” I say, awkwardly.

He frowns, “like, before death?”

I nod.

“Like my grandma?”

I shrug, “Probably.”

He looks thoughtful for a moment.

“She’s dying,” he decides, looking sad.

“Oh,” I try to look empathetic, “sorry.”

He nods his head.

“But, so, yeah, that’s what high school is,” I say. “Should we continue?”

He nods, picking up the book, and continuing to read.

 

 

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fiction

How Did You Sleep?

There’s a car down the street with a guy in it been there a long time. Guy been in there a long time, long as the car, far as I know, I didn’t check on him every hour.

Wife said she’d be home by three. I said you’ll be home late and she laughed about that and didn’t say anything else and we had some bread and cheese.

I been asleep since then, had a dream about that man in the car and he came over and terrorized my wife. I was angry and I told him to hit the road. Hit the road, I told him, just like that and he laughed and sang a song about well I can’t remember.

Me I wasn’t even scared of him in the dream but my wife was screaming about it and throwing things at him. She picked dumb things to throw at him. She threw a glass jar of sugar at him and spread all over the floor, the floor was all sticky and dangerous.

Been there a long time, that car with the sleeping man, though and if you ask me the man in there is dead. I walked by yesterday afternoon, was buying a bag of coffee because my wife said we needed to save money and stop going out for coffee all the time and I said to hell with that I’d rather die what was the point of working if you couldn’t even afford to go out for coffee but she was listening to some program on the radio about financial what’s-it and anyways the man in there looked dead and cold.

I figured they’d move the car, some tow truck would come or something, I don’t know, police or put a boot on that car at least but you know maybe if the guy is in there it’s ok to park for that long. But I wonder if anyone else is noticing how long that guy has been in there and if he’s not getting in and out and if after all he’s dead. My wife said to stop worrying about it said she didn’t even see that car there earlier, and anyway she said the guy was breathing and I said to her how can you tell? She said she saw him breathing but she wasn’t looking at him she was checking her email or her instagram I don’t know.

Sometime I feel bad in the afternoon and anyway every morning I don’t know what to say over breakfast. We usually eat different things. I don’t eat anything usually just drink some water and clear my throat a lot. Not that I don’t like silence.

I think that man knew he was going to die and he just pulled there in front of that dollar store. Probably thought someone would help him or I don’t know, probably not. Anyway I was thinking about calling the police but what would I say. My wife said that was a stupid idea. She’s right, anyway, I’m not any good in those situations.

If I could do anything I would help that guy, sure. But I guess I’ll be eating breakfast alone soon enough, too, and maybe whenever he’s gone from there if he goes maybe when I go to the dollar store once in a while I’ll think of him.

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prosetry

The Night That Never Was

Do you remember that strange night we spent in purgatory, our faces torn between the heaven of tipsy candlelight and the hell of gaudy neon signs?

That curious liminal state in which we existed, somewhere between the safety of our private candlelit sanctuary, the warmth and comfort afforded by the melting pillar that stood coyly between us as we sat in quiet contentment, bellies full of steak and rioja, and the rhythmic blinking of those electric signs on the other side of the window, the crackling letters in brash colours screaming 18+, touting Soho’s finest mags + dvds + toys + girls girls girls, and MASSAGE with a short-circuited M.

In that late-night limbo known only by the lost, we were faced with the age-old conundrum of deciding what to do next. The world was our oyster. The best city in the world was under our feet. We could have gone anywhere, everywhere. And instead we chose nowhere.

Retreating from ideas of excitement and excess, under the dim glances of tired streetlights on a silent faraway road we questioned our uncharacteristic decision to “be boring.” We discovered that waking up on a Sunday morning without a hangover would be a new experience in itself. And the money we didn’t spend could be used on our next adventure. And anyway, the golf ball in the sky told me that I was right to choose home instead of psychedelic liquid light shows – at least this time.

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art

Observing the Burgeoning

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~hand cut and pasted paper collage, magazine paper

Hand it to yourself – the balance is returning; for to know what you really desire you must experience what you do not want, and only then can you free your heart and spirit into oblivion and the universe.

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fiction

THE TINIEST OF ERUPTIONS

chris-r-0089 Image by Christine Renney

When she was seventeen, Gemma designed a butterfly, sketching it with a biro on A4 sheets. Once satisfied with the shape, using her brother’s felt tip pens she added the colours. It had been garish but she had thought it beautiful, had taken her design to a tattooist and suffered under his needle.
Matching her colours as best he could, he reproduced the butterfly on the small of her back, but the colours had run and mixed to create, once the scabs had fallen away, something else entirely. Not her butterfly but a messy hybrid, a startled moth too close to the flame, mottled and drab.
For months, Gemma moped around in a baggy denim shirt. One night, naked in front of the mirror, turning she glanced back and noticed at the tattoo’s centre the tiniest of eruptions. Her skin was breaking through. She began to claw at it, believing the tattoo was flaking, but to no avail. It resisted her fingernails and although more of these holes would appear she could never find any evidence of this, other then when she turned to look in the mirror.

Gemma notices him noticing her and so they begin to play at that game. He is one of a group of young pups, eagerly lapping at their beer. Although early, already they are restless. He is the least jittery, less inclined to spin around after his tail. She notes all of this and smiles. If he is going to make a move he needs to do it quickly. It’s been a long week and she is tired. Still dressed in her office clothes, prim black skirt and white blouse, Gemma isn’t feeling at her best. She orders another drink; he has until it is drunk.

He becomes insistent. She agrees to go back with him to his room. Her flat is too far and his place is just around the corner.
‘It will,’ he says, ‘be better, easier.’
Outside they push against the tide of revellers. Once clear, he moves ahead and she trips along behind, struggling to keep up. He ushers her into the kitchen and switches on the light. A moth flutters noisily as the fluorescent tube stutters, bursting into life. The linoleum is split, the colours and pattern almost worn away. There is a dirty cup on the draining board and in the harsh light she can see a hairline crack.
Impatient, he holds the door open at the end of the hallway. She is first into his room. When she turns he has already kicked off his trainers, is wrestling with his jeans and boxer shorts. Pulling his t-shirt over his head he emerges, surprised to find her still fully clothed. They haven’t spoken since leaving the bar.
‘I suspect,’ she says, ‘that we won’t be sharing a cigarette when we’re finished here.’
‘I don’t smoke,’ he replies.
‘I don’t either.’
He stares blankly as Gemma unbuttons and removes her blouse. She turns, looking for somewhere to hang it.
‘What’s that on your back?’
She faces him, still holding the blouse. ‘The kitchen here, doesn’t it depress you?’
He is stalled for a second. ‘Come on, let me see.’ He starts to walk around her.
‘What am I, prey?’
‘Man, that is the weirdest tattoo.’
Gemma turns again and studies him, running her eyes up and down. Suddenly, he is very aware of his own nakedness. He glances at his clothes, discarded on the floor. She thrusts her hand out and he takes the blouse, grasping it to his groin.
‘Honestly, the kitchen. Don’t you find it depressing?’
‘No, why would I?’
‘Why wouldn’t you?’
‘What do you want me to say?’
‘Astound me. Buckle my knees with your wit and wisdom.’
‘I think you should go.’
She holds out her hand. Flinching, he backs up.
‘My blouse?’
‘Oh.’
He hands it to her. Turning her back toward him, Gemma puts it on, breathing in the silence. Taking her time, she doesn’t look back and, avoiding the kitchen, she leaves by the front door.

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