poetry

The Spirit Prints No Timetable

Someone else
once described poetry
as the practiced revelation
of subjects ordinarily marked
for concealment, but no one
buys it so why bother
sourcing the quote. “It” must be
ok for me to steal, I excuse myself.
Time and time again
I excuse myself.

Let’s say
for the sake of shaky
foreshadowing that the door
to everything I didn’t do in life
is straight across
the footworn hall from everything
I did—that The Did and The Didn’t are
lifelong neighbors, occasionally
getting each other’s mail, riding
the same elevator or climbing
the same stairs, walking
the same corridors and sidewalks, passing in
the same streets, noticing
one another, exchanging
pleasantries perhaps, talking
about the weather
since the weather
is revelation but you don’t have
to take sides. This is the way
things are, they each announce
once the doors close behind them, so
might as well have a little sneaking
peering peek through the keyhole
at what the market will bear, actual
and imagined.

When I
finally saw the sun, it was
far more _____ than it had
ever been in crayon. Condemned
to see the particulars, I’ll think
about the rest of my life
later because tonight my steps
for once feel firm across
the wood floor with its
creaks and cracks, a substantiation
that inspires me in a flash
of poetism to affect a posture
of gracefully uncertain, fatigued
defiance—this is everything I have
left at night as sleep awaits.

Sleep awaits
and choice has brought us
here, I think, the actual stupidly
collapsed in a corner after banging
on the walls all day
because the imagined isn’t across
the hall at all, he’s next door
carousing, suffering, enjoying, lamenting,
enduring his own facts with
the volume up too high. Time and
again
in the midsts of revelation and
concealment
and it’s here, back to sleep, done
in action and coming undone
in speech as I playfully murmur some
solipsisms about having met most
of the people I could’ve been.


Originally published on Art & Insolence.

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fiction, photography

BOX

Chris R-1-117 Image by Christine Renney

Jim didn’t know why he had been put in here, in this box. It was ultra-modern, designed to endure, to not lose its shine and sparkle and it hadn’t but it remained a box nonetheless.
It was big, on two levels with a staircase at its centre. He had a bed, a sofa, armchairs and a dining table. There was a kitchen area and all of the appliances were hi-tech, State of the Art.
Everywhere was easy to keep clean, to maintain. Stainless steel surfaces and sturdy but soft vinyl, and hard plastic sheeting. There were pillars and posts, rails and screens. But it remained a box with compartments. It was not a house with rooms.
Jim often imagined that if he were to remove one of the walls and step outside, that if he could look back from afar, it would resemble a set on the stage of a theatre. But of course Jim couldn’t do this, there were no doors or windows, no way out. He didn’t know how he had been put in here, in this box, much less why.
Jim wondered had he been drugged and lain asleep in the bed whilst the box was built around him? Had he been compliant and simply sat in one of the armchairs or sprawled on the sofa watching? It wouldn’t have taken very long, most of the work would already have been done, the wiring and plumbing. It would have been just a matter of connecting everything up and pushing it all together. The last of the workmen lifted out in their harnesses and the same crane used to lower the lid.
The cameras were everywhere. No effort had been made to conceal them. They were big and bulky and noisy, whirring as they swivelled and rotated in order to capture his every movement. Jim performed for the cameras by not performing, by keeping to his routine of cleaning and cooking. By keeping to his exercise regime. By simply sitting quietly in contemplation.
Jim’s memories from before were uneven, scattershot. Mountains and the Internet, the night sky and music, television and the sea. He remembered shopping and the names of particular stores, wandering around a supermarket or a retail outlet, the infinite choice.

The storeroom was situated off the kitchen. There was a heavy steel shutter, sometimes it was locked and he was unable to lift it and sometimes it wasn’t. The storeroom was basically just another box, smaller and on one level.
Always full of everything he needed, food mostly of course. As everything ran out it was instantly replaced. If there was something on the shelves he didn’t want, that he decided he didn’t like, Jim would leave it and eventually it would be replaced with something else. There was another shutter at the far end of the storeroom. Jim had tried to force it but only once, huffing and heaving, but to no avail.

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Spilt milk

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I don’t have your poise

or formidable intelligence

I haven’t inherited your coloring

or the savagery with which

you tear people out of your life

I used to believe I was weak

because I felt so much and could not

turn away in anger

a trait much prized and perfected

no, I was

clumsy enough to be feeling

and try as I may, the ice

did not stay in my veins

just as resentment doesn’t hang on me

an internal coat

nor grudges devour

my peace.

While i am not always happy

I do not fashion that unhappiness

to break and grind, the bones of others

I was told so many times

I was nothing more than a dumb beast

trying in vain

but those people were proven wrong

for this dumb beast

accomplished everything she attempted

perhaps just to prove them wrong.

It is my road

the one alone

and I ache for you when it rains

like the six year old

listening for the sound of your key in the door.

I cannot expunge the pain, I carry it, inherited, a scar of many faces

you were a pattern I mimicked, knowing nothing else

maybe now you are released from your bonds and I from mine

we will be free to make our own new lines

though if I could choose, I would return

to the feeling of loving you, within your murmur

for yours were the first words I heard

curled in a c within your body.

You can cut me out and there I gasp

but I am tied to you,  as the sun will

pay her travail and always love

the moon

climbing out of what we always knew

to lay wreaths of crimson in homage

to spilt milk

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fiction, photography

TRASH

Chris R-0153 Image by Christine Renney

The room was dirty. It hadn’t been cleaned, at least not properly. She wanted to complain but Pete was so exhausted he pleaded with her, tried to talk her down, convince her to let it slide.
He sat on the end of the bed. She hadn’t noticed the empty beer cans stowed beneath it and he realised of course that, if she did, they wouldn’t be sleeping in the room; probably wouldn’t be staying in this particular motel.
She slumped down beside him and, laying back, he heaved a very audible sigh.
‘Okay,’ she said, ‘but I’m not getting inside the covers and I’m not taking off my clothes.’
Turning onto her side she groaned and Pete could tell she was just as tired as he and could no longer fight it. Reaching out he fumbled for the light switch and closed his eyes.

Pete awoke with a start. His arm was hanging over the edge of the bed and his hand brushed against something or something had brushed against it. Rolling over he peered down. Some of the cans had rolled from beneath the bed and Pete could see there was other trash scattered across the room. Fast food and sweet wrappers and empty crisp packets. Squinting in the half light he could see an old apple core and a mouldy banana skin.
Pete climbed quietly from the bed and crossed to the window. He was thankful that he hadn’t taken his shoes off. He parted the curtains a little, letting in the light from the street lamps. The rubbish was everywhere, the room was almost entirely covered.
Pete crouched down and closer to this carpet of mess, of leftovers, he felt nauseous. Looking away he swept his hands through it. The rubbish was sticky and old, the food stuff mixed amongst the paper and card was rotting. It seemed impossible to him that somebody had managed to cram so much underneath the bed. And unbelievable that neither she nor Pete had noticed. Standing, Pete gazed across at her. He realised that it was now time to complain. But she was sleeping so soundly and after the day they had had, after the night they had had, he didn’t want to disturb her. Pete wanted to leave her be, to let her rest.
He decided that he would clean up the mess himself. He had gloves in the car and some old carrier bags. Using these he could carry the rubbish across to the wheelie bins he had spotted at the far end of the car park. Working as quietly as he could Pete would make as many trips as were necessary and in the morning she would be none the wiser.
Pete stepped closer and he studied her for a few moments. Crouching again he lifted the faded eiderdown and peered. There was still a lot of rubbish beneath the bed. In fact it had been forced and crammed so tightly that the trash formed a solid block and it was pushing against the underside of the mattress.
But how could that be when so much had already spilled out into the room? Pete’s bewilderment suddenly turned to anger and in his rage he thrust his hands in, frantically clawing at it. He realised that she was standing beside him but she didn’t speak and kneeling she began to help.

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fiction, photography

HEIRLOOMS

Chris R-0883 Image by Christine Renney

In the past, when we argued, I would often throw something. Now words are enough as over the years I have become more adept at hurling them and I no longer need to rely something inanimate. If I happened to be holding a mug I would throw that and, after retrieving the largest surviving part, I’d throw that again and again. Or I might reach and grab for something close at hand, an ornament or a trinket made from china or glass, something that would break, something that would smash. If I happened to be holding a book then I would throw that. It wouldn’t break of course, not even after I had kicked it and stamped on it. Books don’t come apart or at least not easily. Try for yourself, take one down from the shelf, a paperback, open it in the middle and try to rip it in two. It can’t be done. In order to destroy a book you need to act methodically, to tear the pages one at a time. I have done this, but only once.
I hadn’t read the book but I remember it was ‘The Idiot’ by Dostoevsky. As I started to rip out the pages, T… watched but she quickly tired and, exasperated, she went to bed. ‘The Idiot’ is a big book but I persevered until each and every page lay at my feet. In the heat of the moment a book is decidedly unsatisfactory. A mug, on the other hand, is ideal. A mug will bounce unscathed across a carpeted floor time and again. Six, eight, even ten times, before it will begin to chip and crack and, when it does, when it breaks, something snaps and in the silence we are able to make things right again. To scrub at the coffee stains and sweep up the pieces, although for weeks afterwards, we find bits of the mug lodged here, there and everywhere.

T… was frightened by my outbursts and believed if I didn’t react in this way that I would lash out and strike her. But it was only when the argument really took root, when it wouldn’t stop, that I would throw and break something. Of course, it wasn’t always a mug but sometimes things that were much more valuable and difficult to replace. Heirlooms, things that had been passed down and things we had bought together and which, over time, would have come to mean so much more. I won’t bore you with a list but I did once break a clock, a wedding present. I lifted it from the mantle and flung it to the floor. I kicked it, stood and stomped on it. Grinding the glass and the face and the mechanism until all of the tiny parts, the cogs and the washers and the wheels, were embedded in the carpet. Later, we hadn’t any choice but to carefully and painstakingly pick them out.

I am now aware, however, that T… has begun to replace some of the things I have destroyed from our past. I wouldn’t even have noticed if it hadn’t been for the book, not even the clock, but there it is up on the mantle, exactly the same although of course it isn’t. I wonder how she did it, how she managed to find it? And I would like to ask but how can I, how can we talk about this?

After finding the book and taking it down from the shelf, I carry it with me and begin to wander through the house, searching the rooms and discovering item after item, things I won’t list, not now, not here. I’ve told you about the book and about the clock and that’s enough. And the mugs of course, although they don’t matter, mugs are inconsequential; you use one only for so long and then replace it. Eventually I sit and start to read ‘The Idiot’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky, a copy of the book I desecrated long ago. It has the same cover, a sky blue border and the same painting on the front. ‘Portrait of Ivan Pochitonov’ by Nikolai Dmitrievich although of course these details I don’t remember.

T… comes into the room and, noticing the book, she asks quite coolly, ‘Haven’t you read that before?’.
‘I started once but didn’t finish it,’ I reply, ‘and I’ve decided to try again.’

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fiction

PET NAMES

chris-r-0694 Image by Christine Renney

The boy’s dad took to calling the boy’s mum a shit-faced whore. He bandied these words without malice, it was just a nickname, a term of endearment and one of many but this was the one he had settled on, that had won out over the others.

‘Where is she? What’s she doing, the shit-faced whore?’ ‘Fetch my keys and make some tea, you shit-faced whore?’
‘Go and get me this and then do that, you shit-faced whore’
‘Oh, look at her, look at her face, the shit-faced whore’

The words tripped so lightly from his dad’s mouth that the boy didn’t really hear them, they hardly registered. But when his girlfriend heard his dad talking like this she had been stunned. The boy was shocked at the level of her anger, by just how indignant she became, although later his dad made her laugh and she began not to accept but to tolerate it. She even told him off ‘You shouldn’t call her that,’ she told him, ‘you really shouldn’t.’
And eventually he did stop, it had run its course and he started to call her by a different name.

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