poetry, prosetry

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move on / lord knows / had it up to here with emotion and tell-all’s / give me some false with my cornflakes and a little fake juice

if you feel sad because nobody is listening, tune in

the record you play is scratched and everyone has upgraded to digital

their headphones drown you out truth-tellers / sorrow-spellers / drowned girls and boys

it’s their whim, their fancy, to inhabit the glory and the cavort

who taught you they wanted to hear about you?

those flashy egos who seek grandure, attention, praise, affirmation

do they place their hot hands on your grief? or pause and seek

anything but you

truth, it is said, doesn’t sell

honesty makes us tired

we want elixir, we need to be uplifted

read to me, tell me a bed time story with a happy ending and lots of pictures

in the news; photos are more popular in social media than words

says it all …

speak, speak no more

and if you do, ensure it’s after you take your pill

for you belong to the tribe of wonderment, nothing less will do

do not rent your heart online

do not display weakness or fear

whatever you do, don’t expose how it is

paint over / disguise / laugh / get pissed

and when you lay there feeling that sliced feeling in your gut

emptiness and her counterparts

when you bring the shards of glass closer

when you realize this is it, there is nobody out there

in this 7 plus billion world

less is more, more is less

how can we be so inhabited and so isolated?

do ghosts walk our lives with empty diaries?

the ones who crumple on their knees in the street

who picks them up and who hurries past?

with scorn written in their jowls

more and more we hang our heavy hearts

in places of silence and neglect

the pegs of our support, thin of reassurance and tenor

more and more we lose our truth in betrayal

and counter attack

until like a game, like a digital effect

we are not real, we are chess without hands

our feelings so siphoned and lost

they exist beyond us

it’s only when we feel the edge of the ledge

staring down into leaden rivers

then we know it’s all a joke

this idea we’re doing anything of worth

and the words you suffocated

trapped in throats like unhawked phlegm 

never to be spat

what would they if they could, say?

please

don’t walk away

please

listen hear me

please

need someone who is not perfect

please

feel

something

the girls who have friends

standing with gymnastic straight backs

smooth waxed hair and plump cheeks

talking over cigarettes, turned on by a switch

everything is different

until a man enters the room

all eyes flash in unison 

he has power

the girls prioritize the phallus

the boys are drinking fluoridated water cutting off their

reproduction

soon sexless frogs will spawn harpies

would it be so wrong if

we stopped now

at the cusp of our cruelty

died out before another era came, crueler still …

dominating fickle lay of shivering wasteland

another creed, another judgement

the Mormons are the largest expanding faith in America

do your research acolyte, then ask yourself

progress? Really?

who progresses when others are held back?

feet on backs of the fallen, that’s the way they roll

with tarnish set on high

we are the crushed on whom aniseed devils inherit kingdoms

sometimes I don’t care anymore

I just want to get into a boat and leave the shore

sail away to something of Huckleberry Finn

I understood him and his penchant for solitude

it wasn’t hate it was necessary isolation

from the wear and tear of jitter-bug humanity

gagging at the hurtling fense

with their sharp and mercilless claws

step down falsehood

let the wild hare, the quick footed fox

take over

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poetry

LOCKED

Chris R-0167-2 Image by Christine Renney

Who is this masked marvel
This vagrant spider being
Scaling four storeys of sheer brick
For a junk mail and newspaper nest
Cold and dank and dark
Beneath it televisions
Hundreds upon hundreds
Of televisions glow
A lively hum and thrum
In a concert of disconnect

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life

Ladybird

COCKNEY

I balled down the frog and toad in my Barack Obamas to nip in the offy.

“Usual please, Bossman.”

He got a box of rags and an aristotle of Oddie off the shelf behind him and a #5 scratchy out the deck.

“And a Jack The Ripper as well, Boss.”

“Which one?”

“Anything that can cook a Jeremiah.”

“I’ll pick a goodun for ya,” he said.

Most of the fighters had starkers puddings or daffy plugs or footy badges on them. I didn’t give a flying fuck what the fighter looked like as long as it Captain Kirk’d.

He goes, “‘Ere we are!” and gave me a green one with a shamrock and a ladybird on it.

“Cheers,” I went, while having a butcher’s for a nugget in the sky rocket of my Hackett.

“I’ve given you that one cos you gotta stay lucky out there and cos you’re a top bird.”

I thought I was gonna pipe my eyes out:

I’ve always been a lady but never a bird. Now I’m a bird. A top bird. A ladybird.


ENGLISH

I walked down the road in my pyjamas to go to the shop.

“The usual please, Sir.”

He got a packet of cigarettes and a bottle of vodka from the shelf behind him, and a number 5 scratch card from the roll.

“Oh and a Clipper please.”

“Which one you want?”

“Any one that is capable of making fire.”

“Ok, ok, I will choose good one for you,” he said.

Most of the lighters had naked women or silly slogans or football crests printed on them. I really wasn’t bothered about the design on the lighter in the slightest as long as it worked.

He said, “Aha!” and gave me a bright green one with a four leaf clover and a cartoon ladybird printed on it.

“Thanks,” I said while searching for a pound coin in the pocket of my jacket.

“I give it to you because I hope your life will be lucky and because you are very nice lady.”

I could’ve cried:

I’ve always been someone’s bird but never someone’s lady. Now I am a lady. A very nice lady. A ladybird.


Inspired by this scene in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73d6h_go7QI

True story:

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poetry

Lost though glimpsed

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If I had the power

I might do no more than this

sitting watching dust captured by light

as drowsy it drifts

or I may

do far more

dependant upon the hour of birth

runic stones thrown

alignment of planets

decisions ours and not our own

would it make sense to you?

that I found your burning sage madness truth?

only pausing when I could not follow the maze

for my pocked arms were ablaze

holding no feathers

if I had the power

I would ask you subsume the hour last

you felt a need to reveal and trust

and becoming green-tipped bird

I’d fly you into the mouth of your past

and becoming shivering fire bird

I’d conquer the elements of volition

causing you to shrug me off

as unwanted skin without use

I am slower than your torturer and you

If I had the power

though I have no way of encouraging magic

not even a fistful of lightning to raise our sum

stamping like forsaken giants roar

declaring; no you shall not

claim us

I am

too old by days and hours

by too many stared-at empty houses

with boarded windows rubbed dark

nobody is home to light the way

for either of us

don’t you see that’s why I always strained to hear?

my ear to the flat of your prison and mine

flaying xylophone chords with missing fingers

If you’d sat next to me when no-one looked we’d have merged into one

instrument

taken out of ourselves and the backward clock

a poison for some, is a cure for us

If I had the fusion

to dwell in your rage directed my way

I’d walk through maelstrom seeking reverse of fate

where, by watchful limb

we sit shoeless

wringing our bruised legs over yawning edge

one, two, three

let go of holding hands

If I had the power not to be me

and you had the power not to be you

both of us damaged and saved at differing points in history

overlapping star travelers

burning up the universe to reach through

this hijacked soul

lost though glimpsed

in warm breath on

cold step

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prosetry

Other Girls

Once, during the summer of our confusion, you told me that you loved me because I wasn’t like other girls. I found that phrase to be repulsively hackneyed then, and still think it’s insultingly trite when men say it now, but because it was you I let you say so. I would’ve let you say anything.

I did ask you what made me different, though. And I remember you said, “You’re the kind of girl that would return to the scene of the crime.” I didn’t say anything else because I didn’t want you to know what kind of girl I actually was. Then you said in a cloud of smoke, “Through brazen curiosity, though, not stupidity,” and I still didn’t say anything and you didn’t expand on your thought any more, even though now I wish more than anything that you had, that you’d told me who I was, that you’d explained me to me.

That one thought that you almost certainly don’t remember now could have defined me. Perhaps it did, because here I am, standing at the scene of the crime and thinking about your thought while you don’t think of me at all anymore.

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life

Happy B.

I missed your birthday. Happy Birthday. Please don’t reply saying “it’s fine, silly”, or “yeah, you prick”. Not because I don’t want your reply, I’d treasure that more than life itself, but I’m trying not to exist. Thanks. X

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art, poetry

Gift for a Hot-Girl

hot

In the last year of Elementary School
I had a crush on a Hot-Girl
Called H
She would smile at me
I thought she liked me
My brother had a girlfriend
(A thing that eats food off your plate
and smiles when it sees you)
He was buying her a bracelet
So I bought H a bracelet
Mother thought it was “adorable”
I brought it to school
I told my friend D
He told everyone
In line on the way back from lunch
Some other Hot-Girls turned around and asked me
If I got H a bracelet
“She doesn’t want it”
“She doesn’t like you”
Everyone in line was staring at me
H was at the front of the line
She wasn’t looking at me
The bracelet felt like a hunk of lead in my pocket
I just wanted to get rid of it
I wished my hair would grow so fast
That I turned into a sofa
Or a large bed
And movers would come wheel me away
But I became transparent instead
And everyone could see my body filling with tears
From my toes to my throat
I don’t know why I did it
I walked up to H
and put the bracelet in her hand
She didn’t say a word
I went back to my place in line
Everyone turned away and giggled

This set a paradigm
For my relationship
With Hot-Girls

**For more of our work, check us out at Flash-365.com

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poetry, prosetry

Daughters of descending dusk

Who was that girl, covered in cheap thrill?

the one who got so happy when you looked her way

who drew you paintings

kept your dirty shirt

pushed you on the swing-set even though we both weighed too much

days of over-size flannel and Doc Martens

Smashing Pumpkins versus Hole

you said I looked like

Ione Skye

you didn’t resemble

John Cusack

while the studious exchange students with excitement hangovers

wouldn’t climb out of their window and meet in the high weeds park

even by then I knew how to have sex in public without my skirt getting wet

who needed second base?

go all the way and work backwards

you weren’t the wrong choice were you?

wearing eyeliner and forgetting birth control

all then, a bad trick in adolescent undergrowth

slurs are girls with provocation

before social media calumny

dimpled notes

inking who gives the best head

who has the firmest … grasp

you have me laid open in your sweat shirt like a dissected stag beetle still able to feel its shell

sent me crayon colored tapes where you exulted my willingness

I sang on my knees like Marianne Faithful with a throat-full

thinking you filled me with more than noise

riding our bikes after, sore between the legs

slow were the socially awkward who did it right first time, soothing off their spectacles for CEO jobs

while we daughter’s of descending dusk

carved deep our error

in the inside of our doughy thighs

the days a road lay empty as a girl’s hands

saturating smell of popcorn

fantasizing backward to the beginning

illuminated by glow stars on the ceiling of his room

habits inching across failings

unfinished sympathies

how can a song collapse a heart?

wishbone shaping the way like Baba Yaga’s dance of skeletons

we who didn’t need food

ran ragged on empty

female cranberry bogs filled with ire and specter

and one day we were no longer young

staring down at boxes of cassettes and letters tied with pieces of the past holding up a manikin who could once have been us

now unsure in twilight of age

as time will betray all but deepest memory

adhering despite all attempt

to dissuade

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fiction

PARASITE

Chris R-0651-2 Image by Christine Renney

The man pulls his house along with him, wherever he goes. It is cumbersome and unwieldy but he is young and strong and full of vigour. He has attached ropes to all four corners and whenever he needs is able to turn the house around. But he is thankful to be in a country that is big and flat. The landscape can be desolate and harsh but it doesn’t matter because the man can always take shelter in the house.
The distance between places is vast and he is often on the road for weeks, even months, before reaching a settlement. But again, it doesn’t matter because the man hasn’t any intention of stopping, of staying put. In fact, it is when he is forced to pass through the populated areas, the townships and such, that he is at his most anxious. It is then that he wishes the house were smaller and not so heavy, that pulling it along wasn’t such a slow and gruelling task.

The people watch him from inside their own houses, staring through the windows, scrutinising his progress or they stand out on the pavements, huddled in small groups, talking quietly and conspiratorially.
They call him a freak and a parasite and it is the latter which baffles and troubles him the most. He doesn’t feel that he is a parasite, but quite the opposite in fact, whatever that might be.

Out on the road he is constantly tempted to turn the house and himself around. But he suspects that, if he did, eventually he would grind to a halt. Also he needs to buy supplies from time to time. He has considered setting the house down outside of a settlement and walking in with his rucksack. No-one other than himself would be any the wiser. But travelling through the villages and the towns is unavoidable and he can’t help feeling that if he were to do this it would be the beginning of something else.

When he traverses the populated areas the man tries to keep calm and stay focused. He tugs a bit harder and toils for longer. Dragging a house along a road is a noisy operation. Out on the open road he stops hearing, becomes immune to it. But amidst the people and their houses his every movement is blaringly amplified. He watches the bystanders as he works, and studies their faces. He is alert to each flinch and every grimace registers as he ever so, ever so, slowly makes his way. If he could he would continue throughout the night but of course he can’t. And when at last he takes to his bed, although bone tired, he is unable to sleep. He can still hear them, the towns’ people or the villagers, shuffling around his house, ever vigilant, ever observing.

On the road the drivers are much more vocal. They don’t whisper and shuffle. The man and his house are an obstruction and he is often the cause of lengthy traffic jams. When the lorries are able at last to manoeuvre around him, the drivers are angry and sound their horns loudly. They lean red-faced from their cabs, gesticulating wildly.
Almost oblivious and head down amidst the dust he can’t really hear what the drivers are shouting. They are yelling names at him but he is pretty sure they aren’t calling him a parasite.
When he is able the man pulls his house off to the side of the road. He waits for the lorries to pass, until the road is clear, and he is able to gaze out across the landscape.

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poetry

The kneeling girl

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Though only 29 she had the eyes of someone who had been

staring at walls too long on her knees

her pupils, dark as they were

glazed over with loss of expectation no longer reflected

I wore the skins of effort, and the boots of climb, in my hands I carried keys

how can you have given up already? My inner query voiced

you can learn very soon and very young that there is nothing. Her dark eyes reflected in response

I wanted to gather her up and save her

I was after all, the one who tried to save people, it was the only thing I knew to do

and I couldn’t even save myself

the pockets of my dress, opened outward and everything I claimed

fell behind me like voices caught in a well

I knew they would accuse me of exploitation, “You only saved her because she was beautiful, you’re an old pervert, there’s always an agenda with your choices”

could they be right? Who will defend the mockery of the mute

did part of me hope upon saving her, she would turn to me and?

peel her orange skin like a locust and reveal her lacquered center?

I didn’t dare think on it. I wasn’t as they thought, an old pervert, glut on the lust of youth, sipping through a straw, the firm skin of minors

I’d never had expectations, what did they look like? Ink marks on paper, a map, a set of rules, runes, signifiers, the last message left in Roanoke

where did they go? Those four and twenty souls?

If I had been her age I might have put on Dreamweaver and lying on Indian pillows, we’d sip our Mathilde and smoke ourselves licorice into sleep

If I had been her age I might have reached over drowsy and foolish and lain my hand on her mango hip bone, jagged as it was, rising from her clothes

and if this was a fantasy, she may have turned to me, her heavy-lidded eyes, perfumed with fruiting intensity and let me inside

where ribbons of everything she’d seen in 29 years, hung like unworn dresses acting as flags on empty ships

and if I were walking her long strip of velvet behind me gathered twice about her neck like a looping string of pearls dipped in midnight, what song should I have sung?

she who lay beneath me purring herself into pleasures chasm, stretching herself about me like an elastic band with limitless rebound

then in that moment, our fingers, clenching and unwinding, pouring deep and still like frozen water catches its breath before tumbling forward

her voice in my ear, hot and fast, all the things never disclosed

it wouldn’t matter then what others thought

they on their high horses unable to stoop and reach in, the breast of earth and plant their hearts

the flicker in and out of light and day

her back like well oiled marble come alive, arching and soldering

her hair, matted and sticky, flung beyond the sheets, causing forests to make way, for her cry, an unseen bird among the trees, low throated and unceasing, releasing alabaster sorrow and pent-up cellos of crime

she would no longer stare at walls unseeing

she would learn in her youth, the rush of spring and renewal vibrating against her could feel

good and real, a returning silhouette, ushering memory to fresher climb

and I, who fixed people could

lie next to her smile, feeling in the air

a cage emptying

my own and hers

found in azure lake

dreaming of escape

kneeling until ground seized by

termagant gave way to infinite space

filled with starlight

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