poetry, prosetry

Paramour

He saw a photograph of me in a magazine and said, “I have to know her.

We met by chance in a dark room some months later.

He said, “I’m so pleased that you look nothing like you do in that picture.

*

We spoke about the Silva Method; Vingt-Quatre on the Fulham Road; old ladies with cartilage piercings and dolphin tattoos; Hanni El Khatib; Bristol; how you can tell a lot about a person by the state of their butter; John Cooper Clarke; the perfect way to die.

He knew things about me that I’d long forgotten.

*

I only realised that my nose was bleeding when the champagne in my glass turned pink without the aid of Chambord. He said it suited me.

*

He saved my number in his phone under the name ‘Amber Chimera‘ — the colour of my eyes, and a much-hoped-for fantasy that is impossible to achieve.

You know a Chimera is also a fire-breathing female monster?

I do.

*

Later I discovered that the sensation of his lit cigarette burying its face in the pale crook of my arm would be the closest that I’d ever get to touching the sun.

And thus the parameters of our unbounding love were set.

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art, fiction

The Blind Man’s Eighth Shot of Tequila

Walking into a restaurant with a 30% discount on alcohol is the first step on a dark path toward tequila.

“Are you sure?” G asks, pouring the seventh round of shots.

“Who you asking? Me or you?” I boast, trying to figure out the mystery of picking up a slice of lime. G laughs. I get the lime between thumb and pointer. I fill with pride. I take the shot. I blink.

My eyes do a split. When they come back together, my left contact is knocked out of place.

“Shit,”

M sits across from me.

“What?”

“My contact. Does anyone here wear glasses?”

I look around. A girl raises her hand.

“What is your prescription?” I ask, tugging the lens from my eye and accidentally dropping it into the bowl of salt.

She pulls out her glasses. She puts them on.

“Oh, I don’t have a prescription. I just think they look cute.”

I glare at her. My other contact, feeling lonely, begins to itch. I slip it out and flick it somewhere.

I look around.

The world has become food coloring droplets on a paper towel; the consistency of a drowning man’s last thoughts.

I look across at the blob of condensed air that is M.

“It’s a stylistic choice,” he defends the girl.

“Oh, bullshit, it’s mocking the handicapped, next thing you know, crutches will be cool.”

I stare up at the light. It is a pool, shimmering.

“It’s not like that,” M says. I can feel his eyes rolling around his tone.

I grunt. “You’re right, it’s more like black-face.”

M thinks about it. My fingers stumble around the table in search of a glass of water.

“Yeah, except you weren’t enslaved,” M reminds me.

“No,” I shrug, taking a drink of what turns out to be a Vodka Tonic, “just blind.”

I squint at M. It helps. He is giving it some serious thought.

“No,” he decides, “slavery is definitely worse.”

“Yeah,” I sigh, “yeah.”

G’s hand appears out of nowhere. An eighth shot of Tequila.

I can smell it.

*

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art

Stretch Marks

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~torn and cut paper from recycled magazine, hand assembled

These landmarks are remembrances in the timelines of our lives; the pinkness is a reminder of the saturation of our insides.

 

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life, poetry, prosetry

Beneath the curtain

Peter Keetman Highway By Night, 1956 black and white road photograph

A man ate himself nearly to death

a girl starved herself almost dying

a bird hooked on wire by strong feet

sat away from the other birds

her wedding ring impinging on her swollen fingers

couldn’t be removed with soap and hot water

the nape of her neck pulses with effort

a shrill knock on the door of skin

you kneel in drab faux fur in the back of cupboards

smelling of moth wings, cedar and burned toast

charcoal fingers probing your eyes

the circuit fizz of bulb

trying to send messages through

barbiturates

dissolving

drowsy pain

Debussy plays

as cut flowers bow

in reverence and unending severed thirst

you go, I’ll stay

here in vase, waiver and quiver

etching lithograph outcomes of

left-over marks

sweat and tears and violence

villains without cause

beauty missing myth

when they say “you’re so beautiful”

I’d prefer they heat up a needle

stitch their mouths shut

it isn’t true

I have a russet horse for a jaw

a blue mountain for a forehead

my eyes are continually watering

with their attention

some words do not feel like kindness

they are broken pieces of yourself

irreconcilable

don’t call me that, can’t you see beneath the layers?

a scream is

not beautiful

you speak because words have become filler

for silence

and often for truth

the truth is I am an animal

my jaw continually muscular

you chew on this artificial

sweetener

pluck the instrument

hear your chord throaty and whole

a thrust and burst, losing suspension

this outline of who and what was

before condemned to silhouette we rush

into beckoning darkness

a faint smell of amber and myrrh

left on stale air

beneath long curtain

heavy with dust

(Photo by Peter Keetman, ‘Highway’ 1956).

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Chris R--20

comics

THE FISH

Image
prosetry

Sink

He said he never brought girls back to his place because he was embarrassed about his flat.

I told him that I’d lived in some horrible places myself, with mouldy wallpaper hanging off the ceiling, mildewy curtains, bloodstains on the walls and a ground-floor window fashioned from cling-film and sellotape;

and that one time a guy took me to a crack den on our first date and he tried to kiss me while we were sitting on a damp mattress that had previously been set on fire and a rottweiler was trying to eat my handbag;

and that my friend dropped a hot microwaved chili con carne on his kitchen floor 4 years ago and it’s still there;

and that another friend’s bathroom contained a toilet that was worse than The Toilet in Trainspotting, there was no light or running water and someone had stolen the shower-head and taken a shit in sink so when anyone ever needed to take a leak they had to leave the house and go to the cinema down the road to use their facilities;

so I’m sure his flat would be lovely.

And it was. It was spotless. It was a really nice modern studio flat, high ceilings and big windows, and loads of books and records but not messy or cluttered at all.

“Got any booze?”

He hesitated.

“Yeah, there’s some beer in the kitchen sink. And some vodka, I think.”

I went over to the sink and sure enough found some bottles of Bud bobbing around in the bitterly cold water that filled the sink to its brim.

Oh, and some vodka. Not much, but enough.

And 2 pints of semi-skimmed milk.

And a pot of strawberry yoghurt.

And 500g of extra mature cheddar cheese in a ziploc bag.

And some kind of ham in a ziploc bag.

And half a cucumber in a ziploc bag.

And a handful of grapes in a ziploc bag.

I heard his voice behind me.

“This why I don’t bring girls back.”

“Why?”

“Cos I don’t have a fridge. People think it’s weird. People think I’m weird.”

“Why though?”

“Cos everyone has a fridge. They don’t know how I survive without one.”

“I mean, why don’t you have a fridge? Do you just not want one, like how I don’t ever want a TV so I’m never going to get one? Or maybe you only eat fresh stuff?”

“No, it’s not that I don’t want one. I just can’t.”

“Oh, I see… Your electricity bill must be lower than everyone else’s though, right?”

“No, well, yeah, probably. I just can’t have one. I…”

I can see he’s starting to panic.

“Hey, it’s alright, I actually think it’s cool that you don’t have one. No pun intended on ‘cool’, either.”

And then he blurts it out:

“I’m scared of fridges.”

I say nothing.

“And freezers. Fridge-freezers. Fridges. Freezers. All of it.”

“Woah. Okay. Erm. I’m guessing you had a bad experience? Did you get locked in a freezer once or something?”

I laugh and open the beers with my teeth.

His face pales.

“No. Not me. Someone else.”

“Jesus. Sounds pretty—“

“Bad. Yeah, it was. It was really bad.”

I remind myself that I am a listener, not a therapist. I am a listener, not a therapist. Listener, not therapist.

“Wanna talk about it? Come, sit with me.”

We sit on the window ledge and dangle our legs out. I light us each a cigarette.

“It was ages ago, when I was a kid. I was 9. And a half. We were playing hide and seek in the scrapyard near my old house. Me and Tommy. He lived a few doors down from me and we used to play out after school.”

I stare at him for a second too long and then flick some ash off my tights. We watch it fall one two three four floors down until it disappears. I half-hope that he’ll change the subject but I’m also massively intrigued, so I say nothing.

“We were playing hide and seek. It was his turn to hide. I counted to 30 because the yard was huge and there were so many cool places to hide, like old cars and empty skips and that. I looked for him for fucking ages. Fucking ages. In the end I was shouting TOMMY I GIVE UP. COME OUT NOW. I GIVE UP. It was getting dark. I guessed that he had just gone home cos he got bored or cos his sister came to get him or he had gone off with some of his own pals.”

Beer. Inhale. Exhale. Beer. Exhale.

“Anyway I heard my mam calling my name to tell me that my tea was on the table getting cold. So I shouted LAST CHANCE TOMMY, I’M GOING NOW, I’M NOT JOKING, FINE, I’M LEAVING NOW, BYE. Went home, had my tea, forgot all about it. Went to bed. Then my mam woke me up in the middle of the night to ask me if I’d seen Tommy cos he didn’t come home for his tea and his mam was worried cos nobody had seen him and the police were downstairs and wanted to ask me if I’d seen him. I was scared cos I thought I would be in trouble and I thought the pigs would take me to jail and they wouldn’t believe me if I said I didn’t know where he was even though I would be telling the truth but grown ups never believe kids so I didn’t say nothing.”

Inhale. Exhale. Beer.

“Next morning everyone went out searching the scrapyard, neighbour said they heard some kids playing there the night before, and we all used to play down there all the time so they started looking for him there. They had sniffer dogs.”

He tenses up.

“Then at school in the middle of last lesson we all got taken into the hall for an assembly and the headmaster told us that Tommy Greenwald had tragically passed away. That we were all devastated by the loss of such a bright young lad. That the funeral was on Friday, that the school choir would be singing You’ll Never Walk Alone at the service and we were encouraged to wear our Liverpool shirts to the church. That we would be making condolence cards in class that would be passed on to his mam and sister, and that if we see his family in the street we must treat them with the utmost respect. “

Inhale. Exhale. Beer. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

“Long story short, they found him in a fucking fridge. One of them massive industrial ones. The pigs in the assembly warned us of the dangers of playing in the scrapyard. They suspected no foul play, that this was a tragic accident. How he must have opened it, got in, shut the door and of course it don’t open from the inside, does it, and it was sealed shut so he fucking suffocated. Nobody could hear him scream because the yard was so big. His screaming made him die faster. He was 7.”

“Jesus H. Christ.” 

“Seven.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah.”

Beer. Inhale. Reach for vodka. Exhale. Vodka. Inhale. Exhale. Beer. Inhale.

“You know it’s not your fault, don’t you?”

“Isn’t it?”

“No. It’s not. Even if you told the police where you were playing, they wouldn’t have saved him any sooner. He would’ve… gone quite quickly.”

“Seven years old.”

“Jesus.”

Vodka. Vodka. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale.

“I should’ve looked more, for longer.”

“No. You were a kid. Something awful might’ve happened to you too if you stayed out wandering the scrapyard in the dark. You weren’t to know, anyway. You weren’t to know.”

I am a listener, not a therapist.

Beer. Spark up. Inhale. Exhale. Vodka.

“You’re the only person I’ve ever told that to.”

“What? Not even your mum, or Tommy’s family?”

“No.”

Beer. Beer. Inhale. End beer.

“Shit. I don’t even know what to say.”

“That’s okay.”

Silence. Inhale. Silence. Silence. Exhale. Silence. Inhale.

“Hey, I’m sorry to change the subject, but I’m gonna grab us another drink– I think we need it.”

“Go for it.”

“Is there any more beer in the…”

Exhale.

“Sink?”


[Featured image source]
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life, poetry, prosetry

In delirium, in neglect

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“I don’t want to hear a bloody THING about you, you’re a waste of silence, say nothing, speak no more”

“Not even to explain why?”

“Who cares why? What is the truth behind any why? It’s just a deck of cards, spilling into bath water after all, plug-in the radiator and throw it in, BANG BANG now we have something to talk about, electrocution, far more illuminating than fucking human problems … ”

“I want to tell you why I hate myself so much.”

“I don’t give a DAMN why you hate yourself. I’m GLAD you hate yourself.”

“Why are you so hateful?”

Hate, Hate, Hate. Because I’d rather drink lemonade. Because the world runs on it darling didn’t you know? Piss & vinegar inherited the earth.”

“I did know.”

“Then? Why the hell are you surprised?”

“I thought if you really tried you could communicate with someone, make them care. Make them understand. Get connected.”

“Who the fuck wants to understand someone else? We only want to understand when it’s too late, like after a massacre and probably not even then …”

“I want you to understand me.”

“I don’t care to understand you. I like sleeping with you. That’s all it is. The rest is filler. White noise.”

“Okay …”

Three nights pass uneventfully.

On the fourth.

She lit her fuse and shot right up into the sky, upon reaching the zenith she split apart, creating her own science.

All the words she couldn’t say, bottled up and labeled in her licorice heart, sticking together in delirium, in neglect, become infinity and star-dust.

Millions or billions of years pass …

One day after all that smoke they sit opposite on a scarred table with wonky legs.

“Do you want to know me?”

“Oh I want to know everything there is about you, even how it feels to be you.”

“Why?”

“Because you matter to me. Because I care.”

“Do you know why that is?”

“It’s just how I feel.”

“No.”

“No?”

“No it’s not just how you feel.”

“What then?”

“It’s because you are made of star-light and star-dust.”

“Well … sure … we all are.”

“Yes. Yes we are.”

 

(Image: http://www.tumblr_mv8equ1m1o1rmig2po1_500)

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