life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Statues in the dark

the scream

Where do depressed people go

When the entire world suddenly feels as they do?

Back to their room, where one voice says – take them up on their offer

make a phone call

but the other voice knows they will not because

when you feel that down the last thing you can do is talk.

Where do depressed people go

when the entire world suddenly feels as they do?

Outside to empty streets / not reminded of what they fail to achieve

the silence, a balm on fevered emotion

for everyone judges what they cannot see

as others watch Pandemic movies behind closed curtains

the sad roam in search of meaning.

Where do depressed people go

when the entire world suddenly feels as they do?

they’re told it’s a disease as much as a broken arm yet

judgement is always a cudgel just one step away

even lovers rebuke and ask; Why can’t you get out of your head?

Do something helpful for a change, instead of navel gazing?

or worse, say nothing, ignore, over it, worn out

few can handle a season with dysmorphia.

Where do depressed people go

when the entire world suddenly feels they do?

For a quarantined period, it can even feel like fun

nothing of the permanency, nothing of that locked in sensation

pervading senses, shutting down, until all the dreams you had

are dust and ash on floor, you can’t even get out of bed, to brush your hair

or walk the dog, this inertia isn’t laziness, it’s a switching off

of life’s impulse and so the bulb dims eternal.

Where do depressed people go

When the entire world suddenly feels as they do?

This is how it feels every day, you struggle to find a reason, to steady yourself

into faking it, and surely, the falsehood runs its course and you’re back

with naught and nothing comes from nothing we’ve been all taught

self loathing reflects back in the unwashed mirror, a hateful creature

your worst enemy is between your ears, you hear only

the rebuke and chastising of that part of you wishing to be free

break out, break out, crawl, stagger, run get away

from yourself you cannot.

Where do depressed people go

When the entire world suddenly feels as they do?

trapped in a brain that doesn’t sit up and beg when ordered

motivation a distant memory, as much as you want there are

no magic pills or electric impulses powerful enough

to restart what has lain dormant and half alive

we are quarantined by our own demons they

made prisoners of us long before Covid 19

even those who love us, wish we were different

self hate is a woman without rocks in her pocket

yet

she walks to the edge many times each day

her reflection cries even as she no longer does

for tears are wasted after a certain time

fixed in place by broken ways forward

she seeks to drown the madness with one jump

and they sit on their sofas talking about how it will be called

the great epidemic, where we all stayed in place

not realizing for some of us this is

our hell already created and nothing new

we have been here before, we shall again

it is the wordless, grieving place of those

locked down by their minds in situ

watching the world build around them

statues in the dark

to a pandemic long pre-existing

where screams are never heard.

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fiction, photography

THE LAST DRIVE

Chris R-1-177 Image by Christine Renney

Watching the petrol gauge I wait and miraculously the tank is almost full. The motor turns and the radio comes to life; the disc jockey’s voice is loud and instantly familiar. I reach to switch it off but I fumble, making it louder and in order to deaden the banter I kill the engine.
Still a little flustered, I tug at the key but it won’t shift. It is jammed in the lock. I pull my hands away from the wheel and push back in the seat, convinced it is broken and that it won’t start again. I squint through the windscreen at the car parked in front and turning I check behind and find that the car, like the key, is stuck and I am trapped. I can’t move and I haven’t any choice but to sit and wait.
I could abandon the car and walk and of course eventually I will be forced to do just that. I don’t have any money and I have left my wallet in the house with the cash and credit cards, that for a spell at least would still work, but I won’t go back inside, not again.
Anyhow, I have fuel, granted it will only last for so long and take me just so far but it feels like enough and I want to make this last long drive and so I stay put.

I ease my foot off the accelerator and begin to slow down. The driver behind sounds his horn and I watch in the mirror as, gesticulating wildly, he pulls back. But locking his headlights onto high beam he edges closer and closer still until I can’t see. Squinting I lean close to the screen and I focus on a spot of light, the size and shape of a rugby ball that somehow, despite the glare, is managing to find its way and I follow.
I suspect that the road ahead is clear and he could easily pass, let me be, leave me to draw to a stop and abandon the car which, I suddenly realise, is what I intend to do but I don’t want him watching.
Slowly, ever so, ever so slowly, I come to a halt and still blinded I turn and peer through the rear screen. I suppose he can see me, my silhouette at least. I must be clearly defined in the bright and harsh blaze, like a convict exposed whilst attempting to escape, caught in that half crouch, uncertain as to whether he should still try for the wall or make his way back toward the cell block.
I shuffle around again and now all he can see is the back of the seat and the top of my head. I sit still, determined not to move, at least not before he does.

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fiction, photography

SHRUNKEN

Chris R-1-172 Image by Christine Renney

I am stopping more often, and for longer, and I have places where I take cover and can hide. I have fallen into a routine of sorts and I know when it is most likely these places will be deserted and when it is least likely I will be noticed.
I shelter in the doorway of an abandoned shop and watch the rain. The storm is raging overhead and, looking up, I step out into it. In just a few seconds I am soaked through and my clothes are sodden and heavy.
The street is busy. I have misjudged this particular place at this time and shoppers caught in the downpour are rushing to and fro.
I turn back to the empty shop but someone brushes past me and a woman is now standing where moments before I had been. She is smiling, apologising, ‘sorry’, and moving to one side she motions for me to join her. ‘no’ I shake my head, ‘no’ but reaching she takes my arm and pulls me back and together we stand in the doorway watching the busy street.
Suddenly I am tired, exhausted and I feel overwhelmed. But it is more than the fatigue; I am also elated. I hadn’t realised I could still need this, that I could feel it again.
I move back and leaning against the glass I sit. The woman is looking down at me and delving into her bag she pulls out a ten pound note ‘here, go on, take it’.

I open my eyes. It is still raining. The street is busy and shoppers still rush this way and that. Have I been sleeping? If so, for how long? Has it been just minutes or hours? Is it possible I have slept right through, around the clock or thereabouts?
I glance at my wrist, pointlessly because I no longer have my watch but it is an old, old habit and remembering it now I feel odd.
The woman has gone but I still have the ten pound note she gave me balled in my fist. Standing, I thrust my hands deep into my pockets.
The jeans are too big and my t-shirt is too loose and ragged. I feel shrunken inside them and I sense that it has been more than minutes, that I have been in this dank doorway for too long and I should move on.
I step onto the street and walk calmly amongst the shoppers. Everything is wet out here and my clothes, the t-shirt and my heavy sodden jeans cling to my skin. At least until I can get dry they have taken on my shape again and carefully I make my way. Although I don’t know to where I keep walking.

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fiction, photography

CATHEDRAL

Chris R-1-166 Image by Christine Renney

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. I’m not quite there yet but this place has begun to grate a little, to nag and gnaw at me. Feels as if I have conjured it up from out of nowhere and I’m not sure why or how.
A tiny square in a sprawling city, a city that can’t be contained. It is spreading and thriving despite the degradation, all the empty and dilapidated buildings.
I have settled here and I stay until I have the cash, enough for what I need. And in order to get it, I walk elsewhere, a little farther each time. And yet still I keep making my way back.

I awake in the grounds of the Cathedral. Hands in the short and wiry grass, I push myself up and gaze down at the City. I try to pick out the place from which I set out, the one to which I keep on making my way back. But it is so vast, a dense and cubist scrawl. For months now I have been walking further and further from this particular part of the City in order to find an off-licence with an unfamiliar face across the counter. Someone who won’t recognise me as I purchase the bottles and the cans I need. And this time I didn’t turn myself around. I kept on walking for longer than was necessary and eventually I settled down.

Glancing up at the Cathedral I shudder to think that I have slept here in the grass; in this carefully tended, this perfectly and painstakingly manicured graveyard and, that as I did, someone tidied around me, removing the strewn cans, even prizing the almost empty bottle from my hand. Taking it and the last few drops I hadn’t quite managed to drain.

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fiction, photography

MORE

Chris R-1-135 Image by Christine Renney

I have money now, just a few coins, and gripping them tightly, I delve deep into the lining of my coat as I walk. I work a coin between my thumb and forefinger. I take them out and move them from hand to hand. I thrust the coins deep into the pocket of my jeans only to take them out again and again. I can’t stop doing this, looking at them, checking.
I drop one of the coins and it rolls out into the road. I run after it, suddenly worried that someone will take it. I stamp down on it with my boot and, crouching down at the kerbside, I quickly snatch it back. I have wandered away from the centre and there is no-one around.
Rising I place the coin with the others in my pocket. I have an odd feeling inside. It is something like purpose and yet I haven’t any idea what it is I intend to do.
I reach a parade of shops and, stopping in front of the plate glass windows of the off-licence, I peer in at the bottles, at the wine and the spirits. I don’t have enough but then I see cans of lager in the cooler at the back of the shop.
Although I am still unsure that this is what I want or what I need, I am already pushing through the doors and I know how it works; I spend what I have and then I get more.

Can alcohol still take hold? Get inside and make its demands? Or am I too full of holes and will it seep through the scars?
I have separated the can from its companions, freed it from the plastic ring and set it down in front of where I am sitting. Leaning back I stretch my legs out across the pavement and I can’t reach the can between my feet.
The others, the passers by, are forced to step over me and many of them glare angrily and I am glad of it. I don’t want some good Samaritan crouching down beside me. But if I sit here for long enough and drink myself into a stupor I know, of course, that this will happen.
What I want is for one of them to knock the can over and I don’t care if it is intentional or not, as long as I can watch the lager pool onto the pavement, the damp patch spreading between my legs and soaking into my trousers.
But despite their impatience and the scowls, the passers by are graceful, balletic even, and they don’t touch me and they don’t knock the can.
If I were to draw in my legs and reach out, snatch the can and drink from it would I feel it? Can I still know it? Can a ghost carry that conflict and walk with it?

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life, poetry, Uncategorized

Night becomes us

pexels-photo-240174 - Copy

I push people away

as they pushed away from me when I first learned

that’s what people do

so run ahead and do it first

you might tell them your real age, or show them the scars in your skin, that usually does it

with online trolls who really only want a

mirror little narcissist

you might show them your face and all the welts that

lay invisible and divisible like trails of tears

finding only drought

you might reveal your defeats and play join the dots

with stories for each one and then you may

know me just a little

except I don’t want to be known and even as I write

I remain anonymous to myself

the perpetuation of a dream instead

where we dance sweaty and disordered with our hair

collapsed like flamenco skirts in rivers of ruffles

two people with thick manes and thin skin

I taste blood on your lower lip and the depth of it

makes a vampire of me

your pulsing neck is salty from your keening

we interlace our hands like church mice and bad girls and best friends and artful dodgers

I feel your fingers pulsing within me as together we cleave

so much comes from a body who wants and so little from one who does not

when I see you, I want to close my eyes and hold onto the image

how you stand, the light caressing your flawless skin as

oil might run her rivets down your elongation

If choice were a bird, I’d choose you again

And once more, with the release of my lips from yours

A song passed between mouths like a key

Open my heart, keep yourself there

If choice were a thought, I’d choose you again

And once more, with the capture of your ebony and ivory

You, who is seamstress to my soul, play your flute

I hear it behind my eyes in the vault of my trust

If you were a dream I should better wish to wake

Our drowsy love may keep us drugged by its tempest

Sleeping in the passion of your touch

As sun sets and night becomes us

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