fiction, photography

THE RULES

Chris R-1-115 Image by Christine Renney

Sy had changed things over the years. He had done this out of necessity, in order to continue. Sy was a tramp and constantly on the road. People didn’t expect him to stop and they tended to steer clear of tramps, giving them a wide berth, especially one who was pushing something awkward and unwieldy in front of himself.

Sy had adapted with the times, making the best of his surroundings and using whatever was available; discarded bicycles for instance. A tramp pushing along a bicycle didn’t draw a lot of attention. They were relatively easy to control, even after the tyres had disintegrated and the wheels started to buckle.
Whilst wheeling a bicycle, and Sy had wheeled an uncountable number of them over the years, he constantly found himself having to resist the urge to hop up onto the saddle and coast along for a spell. The temptation was excruciatingly painful and almost impossible to bear. And so, yes, bicycles worked but when his latest model eventually seized up and refused to move Sy was forced to carry it. But it was never too long before he was able to find something else, another bicycle perhaps or shopping cart.

Shopping carts were plentiful. At least, they could be found almost anywhere; alongside a busy road or at the bottom of a ditch out in the middle of nowhere. Or simply sitting and waiting on the pavement of a busy neighbourhood. But Sy could only search for so long. He needed to limit the time spent carrying rather than pushing. Often he hadn’t any choice other than to help himself to a cart from a supermarket car park. No-one seemed to mind or even to notice when he dumped an old and broken cart and helped himself to a shiny new one. But of course he was stealing and this troubled Sy as he pushed the cart, even one he had dragged from a deep and muddy ditch. He couldn’t help feeling that it was stolen and that he was breaking the law.
Shopping carts wheeled along okay, for a spell at least, especially if Sy was able to keep to the flat, on tarmac or concrete or the hardened earth during the summer. But when the weather was rough, when it was wet and windy, they were much more difficult to control. And when the wheels finally seized or fell off altogether, which is what did often happen, carrying them was hard. The carts were awkward and unwieldy and quite frankly dangerous. A tramp with an out of control shopping cart tended to draw a lot of attention.
Sy worried that he would be apprehended, that a Police car would pull alongside him and the officers would demand he stop. And when he didn’t that they would force him into the back of the car and whisk him away to the local Police Station where he would be held in a cell.
But this hadn’t happened yet and somehow Sy had always managed to find a way. Over the years he had pushed all manner of things – prams and trolleys, carts and pushchairs and bicycles, old tyres and children’s toys, scooters even skateboards and suitcases. Anything with wheels. And it hadn’t been easy but Sy was all too aware that it wasn’t supposed to be.

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Holding Water

What I wouldn’t say out loud;

At a dinner party, when the conversation turns to

matters of personal identity and the such.

That I live in a country where

self-confidence is in the very water alongside Chlorine

And possibly many pissed out Pharmacuticals

I don’t know how they import it or how they bottled it

in the first place

but everyone takes a long swig

and grows up self-important and rarely doubting

their worth

A la the internalized cheerleader

I must therefore hail

from an island of thorns

because I didn’t get inoculated against

the sumptuous barbs

my skin punctures at the slightest retort

I bled easily even after I cauterized the wound.

Necessarily, this has caused some

discomfort

people don’t get how

someone can hate themselves

be a painted sin eater

for all insult

until that gobstopper of internalized anguish

turns on them and it feels like

it’s always been about hating the self

Such a natural elegant process of self harm

looking back in the mirror

wishing she could erase

the very DNA, the very face of her.

Now I have a second sight

for bullshit and fakes

and often I’m told; Give me a chance you never know!

But O I do

and I stay away from the saturating crowd

as they live their camera-ready lives

to the fizz and hiss of the insta-bulb

wondering if I will ever

feel differently or if this

deep phlegmy cough

will inhabit my very soul and become

a new lingua of self loathing.

Sometimes I see girls who

could have been me, but grew up

in a different world where

presumably they were inoculated against

self-hate at an early age and given a healthy dose

of worth and manifest ego

they seem like an identical twin who

was raised on grass instead of hay

in the sun instead of snow

and even though they still possess

the abhorant figure of myself

with her squinting mash of ancestral sabotage

I find I like aspects of them

as they flourish weed-like

unawares

there is a shadow

watching them

wondering

if I had grown up just like them

and taken my Happy Pills along with my self deception

what would I have gained?

What would I have lost?

I might resemble them but

I suspect, I would be nothing like them

except in the cracked glass of us

broken and repaired many times

until they can stand no more

to hold

water

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life, prosetry

Lovely

I had three nosebleeds today, all of them highly satisfying, each one equally lovely.

I like to look at the patterns the blood paints onto the tissue as if they were Rorschach inkblots. Bloodblots. I say what I see because nobody is beside me to take notes or worry about what I say that I see (wasps, exploding grenade, apples, the Wisła when it flooded).

The free-falling drop of claret that lands on your newspaper at the junction of 21 down and 29 across. Such a lovely surprise!

The deciphering of the blood-blots, the eventual stop as the blood clots. It’s so lovely when your body chooses to remind you that you are alive, particularly when you yourself have forgotten.

The rolling of the tissue between your palms, forming the evidence of life into a neat ball, launching it directly into the bin in the corner, a lovely, clean shot.

The wipe of your nose with the back of your hand. The answer to 21 down written in red. The taste of rust at the back of your throat. Lovely.

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Indefinite

forgetting-Jef-Safi-FlickrOh fear

You who come unbidden at dark or dawn

And crawl with your hunger to devour

The sunrise of rational thought

How alluring your poison, when defenses are sluggish

The gris-gris of delirium and other exhaustions

Make abundance in quiet mist

I think of safety, it feels like a celebration for another person’s life

Not this chipped bail, not this sweat stained pillow

Where lately dreams have possessed fangs

And nightmares are not always caused by eating cheese

Many years ago, we sat you and I

In the mouth of my midnight kitchen

And like Sendak envisioned

I rose in morning dough, a naked thing of pink

Then, in the hours that believed themselves immortal

And a sinking feeling would be replaced by exuberance

The feeling of lying down in an antique store, in a fur rug

Imagine, imagine, nude swimming in milk, turning hands over tails

All shame evaporated, just the joy of unspoilt youth

A thousand dreams away from clammy hands and furtive secrets

How resplendent I’d be, lying beneath you without guile

Our limbs mirroring the other like a corridor of emotions

Responding in kind

Tender without history

Lay your heavy bag here

Come into my envelop

Where we can meet against the other, in eternal epitaph

Watching the crudeness of the outside world sigh and catch fire

Like plucked flowers must lose their breath

And dying comes as you hold your breath

Seamlessly we turn to each other and create

An oasis in the nectar

There it is

There among the aubergine desert

Taunting with its indefinite

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fiction, photography

A CLOSE REBELLION

Chris R-1-104 Image by Christine Renney

The rebellion was close, although at first they didn’t realise this. The inmates had taken over the asylum, a cliche but apparently true. This really was happening and they were watching it live on TV. There were aerial shots of the hospital where patients had taken members of staff hostage, although the captors hadn’t, as yet, made any demands.
‘Isn’t that us?’ Melanie leant forward and scrutinised the screen. ‘Isn’t that us? Isn’t that here?’
‘No,’ Rachel replied uncertainly. ‘It can’t be. These places, they all look alike. Turn it up.’
Melanie reached for the remote but as she did so the picture switched to a view of the front of the building, the entrance doors with the hospital’s name emblazoned above. They gasped in unison and crossed to the window, staring across the inner courtyard at the main block. It was deserted.

In their stockinged feet they walked along the hospital’s central corridor, cautiously peering into the wards. Monitors hummed and the strip lighting glared but thankfully the rogue patients remained elusive. They reached the end of the corridor but didn’t step into the reception area. They could see the television cameras through the plate glass, the reporters and police gathered at the edge of the road just beyond the hospital grounds.
‘What should we do?’ Rachel asked.
‘Go out there I suppose,’ Melanie replied.
‘I guess you’re right but….’
‘But what?’
‘I don’t know. I just don’t feel ready to, not yet.’
‘What do you want to do then?’
‘I think we should go back to your room and find out what’s happening.’
‘On the TV you mean?’
‘Yes.’
‘But isn’t it dangerous here?’
‘I don’t think so. At least, not in this part of the hospital, not if we’re careful.’
‘How can you say that? You don’t know.’
‘You’re right, I don’t know but, okay then, let’s go out there.’
‘No!’ Melanie reached out and took Rachel’s hand in hers. ‘Come on, let’s go back.’

Melanie began flicking through the channels and there they were.
‘We’re the hostages,’ she said.
‘Yes,’ Rachel sat beside her on the sofa. ‘You don’t seem surprised.’
‘Neither do you.’
‘No, well I did wonder. I sort of hoped it might be us.’
‘But we’re not.’
‘Not what?’
‘Hostages.’
‘No, we’re not.’
‘Look, there’s my house,’ Melanie sounded distraught. ’My parents’ house I mean.’
‘We’re famous,’ Rachel laughed.
‘But we’re not.’
‘Not what, famous?’
‘Not hostages,’ Melanie hit the OFF button.
‘Why did you do that?’
‘We can’t just sit here, watching this. It’s not what’s happening. The TV won’t tell us what to do, how to react.’
‘Okay, okay,’ Rachel stood and started to pace.
Melanie watched her.
‘You’re enjoying this,’ she said.
‘No I’m not. I’m as confused as you. This is weird and I’m trying to make sense of it. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound flippant but we have to keep calm, Mel. I’ll run you a bath, it’ll help you relax.’
Melanie flopped back in her seat. ‘Okay,’ she said, resignedly.

Whilst Melanie soaked in the bath Rachel immersed herself once again in the news coverage. She didn’t have any trouble finding their story. It was unfolding or, rather, constantly repeating itself on most channels.
With the volume low and tightly gripping the remote she sat close to the set and there they were, up on the screen. Their lives in profile and the childhood photographs. Her mum and dad sat behind a desk beside some high ranking police officer in his uniform, her mum making an impassioned plea for her release. It was thrilling. Melanie had been right – she was enjoying it. It was a mistake, an outrageous mistake, but she needed to prolong it, to keep it going for just a little longer. For tonight at least, let it take root, give the tabloids a chance to get a hold on it. And in the morning, when they surfaced bleary eyed and bewildered but safe she could really enjoy her moment in the spotlight.

Melanie had started whining again, was calling from the safety of her bath. She wanted to end it, was ready to go out there. Rachel stood in front of the bathroom door, not really listening but readying to talk to her from there.
‘Okay,’ she said, ‘but first I am going to have a look around.’
‘No!’ Melanie moved violently and Rachel could hear the water sloshing. ‘Please don’t.’
‘I have to Mel, I need to do this and then I’ll be ready.’
It was silent then apart from the bath water settling like a sigh.
‘Okay,’ Melanie said at last, ‘but promise me you’ll be careful.’
‘I will, I promise, and I’ll bring us back some drinks. I’ll grab a couple of cans from one of the machines.’
‘Okay.’
‘If you like I can lock you in. Do you want me to do that?’
‘Yes.’

Rachel’s plan had taken little effort to formulate. It was all about resolve. And as she turned the key she asked herself, could she do it? Would she be able to see it through? Leave Melanie alone in her room for five, six or possibly seven hours to fret and cower? Not return until after dark, until the dead of night to comfort and coax? When it would be far too late to contemplate going out there, not before morning, when things would seem so much brighter.
As she wandered the deserted hospital she realised that of course she could and would and, as she had suspected, there were no hostages and no hostage takers.

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life, prosetry

On The Cusp

No bright light, no tunnel, no montage of childhood memories or “best bits”, no soundtrack, no loved ones, no dead relatives, no angels, no God. Just blood and guts and chemical reactions and la chamade and then             .

A freight train gradually slowing down, the application of the brakes, finally grinding to a total halt after a couple of miles. Careering forward towards that stop with no way to stop the stopping.

No thoughts. Inability to think about anything. Only able to feel your body in its entirety, the weight of it, its structure, how you [have always] live[d] inside of it. Heartbeats and skin and bones and muscle and fat and blood moving. You feel exactly where your organs are housed: they’ve always worked so hard without you asking them to and now they are slowly, slowly shutting down (over 1 minute? 10 hours? 2 days? you will never know and it doesn’t matter because time isn’t matter so it doesn’t die).

No control. You cannot think, so you cannot will your body to fix itself or will it to speed up the process. No cerebral functioning, at all, only corporeal dysfunctioning.

Feeling your body in a way that you have never felt it before. Such heaviness in your limbs. Your spine weighs a tonne. Your muscle melts off of you like ice-cream and then sets around you like concrete. Weight weight weight, the weight of your matter, and gravity keeping you tied down in whatever position you decided was your last, stuck in that way, feeling your body dissolve, feeling yourself falling off your bones. Unable to open your eyes. No thought to even try.

No sound, no background noises, no internal monologue, no voices, just nothingness, a vacuum, a black hole located in your centre, where your sternum ends, right between your floating ribs. No fight, no struggle, just being: you are in your body and it is slowing down, bit by bit, over an incomprehensible period of time, until it stops completely.

The brain does not go last, as we have been led to believe. The brain goes first. You cannot think, you cannot do. You just be until you stop [being]. The heart goes last. Dying is not peaceful or scary or wild or magical or painful. It just is. Like you just are and one day, you won’t be.

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