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The seeking fingers of tomorrow

When we were young we thought
just as the saying goes or the first line of every youthful book
we had all the time in the world
time does not speed up as you age
it simply reveals itself, standing unclothed in dawn, still wet with dew
the sundial of life moving slowly in circle
once you believed yourself invulnerable, not because you were young
but the blister in your heart that said
i will never stay here and take this crap!
so you urged yourself to sprout and using every strength
sometimes in the form of what you did not yet know
flew into the reddened sun and burned there a good long while….

later when shade gave salve
it seemed foolhardy to have done battle
but that was the ire of twenty and five
seen differently when scope is set ten years advancing
through all the steps you will take, from there to now
maybe a family, maybe alone, maybe reaching out, maybe closing down
is it possible you think, to change?
so unutterably, as to forget imprint of first edition?
so completely, the way you felt then, now strange and unfamiliar
as if a stranger shucked your skin and walked away
leaving you to puzzle over how you lived as someone else, for so long
the girl who drank herself to the bottom of the bottle
lifting her skirts for her ravages and lowering her eyelids on truth
the boy who snorted off backs of others and
seeing the harm he did, carried on digging the wet way to the pacific
where he hoped to find a green stone and turn himself into a forest
they slipped and skidded, as children with weapons will
damaging better than any terror could have reigned
we know the sharpness of our own ache

and now that time has reflected and returned another summer, another slow
turn of water wheel
sending ducks garbling and spooked across uneven lawn
into waiting foxes jaw
we see the hem of life, peaking from beneath rubharb
as it pillars its redolence among plain earth
declaring a magnificience
we see how the young bathe in their moment, only to rue
that cigarette, that set of choices, laid out Majong and glossy
alongside the diaphram, the emptied promise, drying on cotton sheets
it could be a dinner table set for eight, or just for me
when you have flown, along with the last ears of corn
having lost their golden, turning back spots of age
if we reach now, we reach too late to see
the circumfrance of inevaitable fate and so
one day, will be the last seat, left to fill
nobody remaining behind, to open windows to
the seeking fingers of tomorrow

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fiction

Seasons’ Spell 1

This is the first of a four-part storyish kind of thing. Trying something a little new here—well, the story’s old, or the idea for it anyway, but I’m sharing it anew.


It is morning, spring, and he sits by the open window at the small, square table covered in a light linen tablecloth with trim of crocheted lace. The window is hung with aphotic green curtains, almost black, like the undersides of the trees at the forest’s edge a stone’s throw or so beyond, pulled back and fastened with cream tassel to taupe walls. A white-flowered oxalis in a rust red pot is perched on the broad, thick-painted sill, its jittery leaves fluttering each time a gust of forenoon breeze picks up and joins them, and he thinks nothing of it, next to nothing of any of it, nearly nothing at all, just goes on reading his newspaper, absorbing words because they’re there. His long, grey wool-trousered legs are casually crossed, angled from the table so his back is partly to the window, mostly to the wall, the sleeves of his white cotton shirt are rolled to the elbows, top three buttons unbuttoned, and his high-arched feet are bare, the left one firm and assured on the worn wood floor.

From time to time the breeze agitates the corners of the newspaper and teasingly threatens to tousle his curly brown hair, hanging mid-length and in need of pruning. But he does not care—he rather likes it this way, letting it be, all as it may. The tablecloth dances lightly, softly with the breeze too, softer than the newspaper and lighter than the oxalis and things make sense.

The tablecloth is one of the First Things they—he and she—got for the house, this small hundred-something-year-old two-storey of timber and stone masonry set back against the rolling foothills by Settlers from Who Knows When, out and away in their very own wonderland, or so they liked to romance, wild and full, surrounded by enchanted things for young-hearted dreamers, nestled and deep-rooted in a bucolic vastness that they’d imagine like starry-eyed children was—is—the center of a great, wide, mysterious galaxy comprised of two fundamental elements: In Here and Out There, with their two souls warm and singularly glowing together like a sun.

That was both Yesterday and Now, and today there is a chair across from him, on the other side of the small, square table. It matches the one in which he now sits—hand-finished oak, finished by her hand—but is empty and pulled out from the table as if its sitter has just absented. The day is still waking outside, still unformed and possible and he breathes it in deeply, listening only to the vernal ensemble of sun and clouds and sky and air and wilderness and dream and memory playing something soft and discordant, a slowly coalescing prelude to the day’s coming harmonics, rising as easily as the steam which gently ascends from black coffee in a white mug near his right elbow and is occasionally stirred and dissipated by the window breaths.

He can hear her in the next room, then in the kitchen, then back again, rustling and bustling and shuffling briskly about, light and nimble and with purpose, easily deliberate, and it makes him feel good, thoughtlessly good, the best good, busy as she is with morning, as he is with it too. All is warm and warming, and they’re serene in their uncertainties.

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fiction

DESCENT

Chris R-0315 Image by Christine Renney

I am attempting to forge a route that takes in all of my haunts, all the places where I have taken shelter after dark. The doorways where I have pushed back and stretched out and where I have slept. But there are too many and as I move between them, making my way back and forth, I feel disoriented and this sudden compulsion is now pulling me from the Centre or at least from the part of the City I have accepted as the Centre, a place where I have loitered and lingered. But my reluctance to leave seems to have deserted me and I am fleeing, but to where?
I am pushing against the City and it is dense and difficult to navigate. I look because I must but I can’t focus and I can’t see my way through. The idea of a Centre here, that it could exist, is inconceivable and yet I have conceived of it and somehow I have found my way. But how?
It must have been slow, my descent. So gradual that the progress I have made is all but impossible to detect.

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poetry

The Swim

Immersing myself in the blues
that would usually make me sink
usually make me drown
I dive in, unafraid, brave
leaving depression in locker 8E
heartbreak standing naked and shivering
on the concrete edge, grief wrapped up in a towel
washing paranoia out of my hair and misery off my skin
with every stroke I am light and almost carefree
in this controlled, contained, waveless sea
pulsating frog legs
counting
breathing
in, two, three, out, two, three
it doesn’t matter who is faster
than me and my dwindling lung capacity
I am so very nearly free
inhaling chemicals in a legal way
tears made of chlorine not melancholy
in, two, three, out, two, three
no time to think, only to breathe
and push on, further, stronger
the girl sits upon her throne in the sky
the guy patrols the perimeter
with their matching red t-shirts
matching whistles
matching sports watches
they watch me
in, two, three
and guard my life
out, two, three
these strangers who exist solely to save me
they are employed to ensure
that I am safe
that I do not die:
I think that I need them everywhere
all of the time.

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Uncategorized

Charlie, you had it right

Insurance

is a Big Mac scam

poisoning the well

LOOK

there is a good intention

befouled by corrupt system

ecnarusni, spelt backward an incurable malady

ennui

macadamia

strawman

forger of meaning finds none, in frosted window

double glazed against both noise and cold

the office where they work is stifling

it engenders more blood thirsty intolerance

You are denied a purpose

stamp, thump, goes the proverbial red ink

now replaced by click of key

to the isle of denied claims where

headless cast offs watch themselves

turn to oriental soup

without air conditioning

 

You want to be covered by healthcare?

but what about my bottom line? My margin

of deniable error

if I’m okay then why aren’t you?

who said we should be charitable?

Jesus didn’t have a new sack cloth

I prefer the prosperity preacher

when his kids are sick he sends them private

on the tithe of his butt-lifted worshippers

 

Hear the bell toll

it tolls for thee

we have no mercy to ladle

as you breathe in

Round-Up and years later, lose sensation in your legs

dust to dust, pesticide to fungicide

a new Mercedes for her quinceanera

sweet sixteen at the preachers house

a coffin is being built for the backs you bent

in building your prospering you lost

that trace of humanity or

it was corruption installed under

APP – GREED

when one believes themselves

worthiest of all

 

Charlie are you listening?

you had it right all along

within the downy fur of your giant peach

roll starchild, roll

universal truths nod and blink

squash one beneath gain and gamble

futures and shambles alongside pork bellies

dancing without their heads

served cold with a side of boom n bust

just when you thought the choke couldn’t get tighter

they advertise it as S&M

but we know what we know

beneath illusions, seen the blinkers obscuring

in favor of artificial afterglow

guaranteed to make your piss red

a fine poisoned vintage

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prosetry

Flights

Rode the elevator up to the 20th floor from somewhere in the middle, the doors parted and I stepped out into a field of eyes and a sea of sound, a small podium before me like a restaurant check in, and they looked at me and I knew it was wrong, knew the 20th wasn’t the top, afraid it might be where I belong.

The black-suited man at the podium informed me of where I was before I made my fifth step forward and I heard the doors roll softly closed behind me, dreading the around turn coming that’d leave my back alone by itself to hold their stares, their thoughts thinking “here is yet another” in cacophonic unison like some discombobulated orchestra.

But I did, I turned toward the brass walls of the elevator bank, shimmering, reflecting that distorted roomful of eyes and I did my best Houdini and closed mine and pressed the bottom button like it dispensed nonchalance but all it did was illuminate.

A few silent toe-tapping seconds later the carriage came down and the walls consumed its doors and inside stood a man, generically older, and two women, younger than he but not springly and who I realized were not together as I got on and pressed the round plastic “1” button with greater firmness than I felt, glancing at him, glancing at them, thinking what accidents do befall us in elevators when the doors close.

And in I step and close they do and down the elevator starts and the down start turns to what feels like a fall, smooth and gliding, and I wonder when we’ll hit and what will break first and why they seemed so distracted, so consumed, continuing their piecemeal stranger exchange of looks and slight eyebrow shrugs and effortful non-engagement as he said

“men are more romantic than women, I know it” and he looks at me for confirmation like I knew he would before he did and the she against the back wall of the falling box forces out an “I don’t know about that” in the most non-committal manner imaginable, like a kid put on the spot by other kids she likes about something she doesn’t, or like a grown woman cornered in an elevator and uncertain about an older man’s burgeoning chauvinism, feeling for shreds of history or experience in his sentiment, abstaining from anything further or firmer and he smiles with only lips, cheeks, and

eyes and says “oh I do, I know, right?” and back at me. Right? but no, I shrug, joining the pensive chorus, smiling a little, saying nothing, releasing his gaze. No, I don’t know what you’re getting at, sir, or where this came from or what you mean or why but I do wonder,

I just got on this elevator, just got in here with you three strangers, just joined this fall, and I can see she wishes that the doors will soon open and we can all get out and go our separate ways and I know somewhere inside me despite everything, despite rises and falls and soul and spirit and passing strangers and idle fancies and prejudgments I know I do love the world and this life and

even those eyes back upstairs and these strangers and this awkward moment and this drop, this too-fast but nevertheless controlled descent, a few kilos of friction and resistance short of perfect freefall, and we finally decelerate like some mischievous deity hit the brakes and I cringe instinctively and brace myself out of

well-practiced fear of long drops and the dark things at the bottom as the elevator slows hard and stops soft and the doors open and I see that I’m in fact alive, still alive, again alive, and here, more alive in some unknown way than I ever thought I knew before.

We’ve stopped unevenly, though, confirming all my suspicions of transcendence, stopped a step or so above the ground floor and he gets out without offering a hand or a farewell to anyone and I look at them and say, relieved by all this fallibility, all this imperfection, “If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the drop to the bottom is lined with misperceptions”

and they smile and shrug a little less uncomfortably, knowing I mean no harm though I want to shake them by the shoulders and point and say “there’s light outside it’s bright outside!” but all I do is help them down to pick up the slack he left behind and after helping walk away on my way to nowhere, maybe everywhere, for that matter, I imagine, in this city,

and head through the brass- and mirror-lined marble and tile foyer and push through the revolving doors and step out into the rest of life and the first distinct sound I hear amid the din once I’ve maneuvered through traffic to the wide busy anonymizing sidewalk across the street there beside the lush garden park and short stone colonnade wall is one man saying to another that the fish has no knowledge of the water, none whatsoever.

If they only knew, I thought, shaking my head, and walked on, thinking I did, emboldened by this newfound semblance of freedom, imagining who’d drown first.

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poetry, prosetry

Sometimes

Sometimes, things come back.
Things come back to me sometimes.
Not things, as such, but rather memories.
Memories come back to me sometimes.
Only sometimes, though.
Like that fancy bra poking out from my blood-stained white blouse,
running down the hill at 3 o’clock on Christmas morning.
Prison Break, Breaking Bad, breaking up.
Yellow flowers, always yellow flowers.
Lighting my cigarettes with a blowtorch.
Bike rides along the sea wall.
Inhalers and cat allergies.
Cheese and cucumber sandwiches at cricket.
Teaching me to drive the van.
Micky Flanagan and the £8 slice of pizza.
Never drinking the final third of your Peroni.
“Babyface” and squeezing the pus out of your knee.
Spain, swordfish, sunset.
Bunk up on the bunk beds under Manchester United duvet covers.
Me throwing up in Wayne Bridge’s toilet while you fixed his cooker.
The Best Nachos in the World.
Henry VIII and Henrietta.
Freezing under floodlights.
A firework display because I wanted one.
The realisation that you’re going to prison.
Apple crumble and custard.
The decision that I’d wait for you while you were inside.
Cutting 40 onions.
The jubilation when you were found not guilty.
Glass table-top on the roof.
Coaxing the gerbils out from under the wardrobe.
Sex in a hot tub in Sherwood Forest in the middle of December.
The diamond ring and fancy watch that I can’t bring myself to sell.
Your face when the test was negative.
Your face when the test was negative again.
Your face.
Your fucking face,
the face I know off-by-heart,
the face I can still feel beneath my fingertips,
the face that I know better than my own.
Your fucking face.
Sometimes, things come back.
You didn’t.


[Featured image source here]
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