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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poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Present and glad

person with tattoo holds python

Photo by Sean Patrick on Pexels.com

We talk about the past

I used to like talking about the past

it was a favorite drink warming my hands

when Winter first called

this time what has gone before now feels

sad and heavy like wet wool blanket left to dry

in insufficient heat

it leaches the warmth from my lavender bones

I feel sorrow and weighted down by metal reminder

who was that girl? Who absorbed

grief and laid it on her arms in shapes and symbols

to be read years later by Rune interpreter

did she really? Think she had no worth

so much so the days became years and the pain

soaked so much of her blood she longed to eat

meat

you craved her up and steaming you fed on her

badly wound lassitude

she forgot herself as she pretended

love means forgiving time and time again

she forgot, she was worth something

that girl who didn’t have hands uplifting her from

the clamoring downpour

lost her way in cavorting storm

the spooling moon, a snake wrapped against tattooed branch

this way and that, the even keel of life forgotten

some days it took everything just to stand up

she mislaid the memory, she was not there to be crushed into

tiny pieces of herself and thrown for white breasted sea birds

to swallow whole

love should not force you to your thin knees

it should not destroy the tender parts of you

capable of feeling

fingers playing fiddles with tempura emotion

love is not a white flag of surrender

at times it needs to be a pirate ship

fast on its feet, answerable to nothing but

the truth of vanquished things

torn and shredded in haste

we talk about the past and

I used to like talking about the past

comforting me like a one-night-stand

until I became tired of hearing how I accepted

less and took nothing

raging against the dying light

life is after all

short and painful and full of unexpected turns

do not add to it by self-hate or diminishment

if I could go back in time, this is what I would say

to the girl who got used to having empty pockets

I would take her by the hand and remind her

you may have been broken or forged incompletely

darned with a yarn too coarse for fine needle

you may have been told this was your lot in life, you did not

deserve equality

but just as it seems true, the world will be submerged

when rain comes down pitiless and hard

it is not so

we rise then

we always rise

for one more chance and when it offers itself

hand in your bad habits and leave that moth eaten coat behind

take the tall steps upward

feel the sun on your throat

smile even as you don’t know

what lies around the corner

present and glad

for your very existence

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life, prosetry

To Love X Y and Z

Most of her sentences begin with, “I used to.” She used to be / to go / to enjoy / to do / to love x y and z. Now she dwells, angry and bitter, writing furious lists of all of the things that The Thief has stolen from her. She used to enjoy painting. She used to dance in crowds. She used to wear dresses. She used to be smart. She used to do sports. She used to like the sunshine. She used to have real friends. She used to be pretty. She used to travel. She used to enjoy sex. She used to speak several languages. She used to throw parties. She used to make people laugh. She used to be skinny. She used to be popular. She used to be able to do anything. She used to be a daughter, a sister, a niece, a granddaughter. She used to be brilliant. She used to trust people. She cannot get over Her [old] [true] [real] Self; she misses Her and grieves for Her. The person she is now is not a person, rather a half-human living a half-life. But The Thief cannot be caught nor punished. Already locked up in the prison of her mind, The Thief paces day and night, making her brain ache while waiting for an opportunity to strike, destroying her dreams before they can be realised, converting her hopes into fears, stealing her life one memory, one chance, one possibility at a time. The punisher cannot be punished. You can’t hang the hangman. The Thief will only leave when there’s nothing left to steal. The Thief will leave soon.

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life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Burning without fire

close up photo of red candles

Photo by Aloïs Moubax on Pexels.com

Last night I scalded myself Mama and as the boiling water ran down my arm

I saw you through the pain and you were smiling and everything was wrong

how you are alive and yet gone, how you exist and yet don’t, how I was never right

and somehow always mistaken

If I don’t come from you then who? My mitochondrial existence and all the women before us

seem to pass into memory and then detached, by our severing

every day I wake and I think of you and then I remember

you’re not thinking of me

What tenderized my heart so? Pounding it until it cried out

I know it’s futile and still I yearn

What compelled it to continue beating even after the obvious?

I loathe that about myself and I love that about myself

I am like a ship in a bottle, you cannot figure out how I came to be

full and whole, encased in glass and yet

I am neither full nor whole, but hungry and drowning

a featherweight, a word, something you created and then said

no you can take it back, I don’t want it any more

(I never did / I pretended / it was the mask of a mask in a mask)

and so I went far and nowhere

near and not close

wondering what will come first? The last loss of you, or the first diminishment of

my eternal want?

Who am I kidding? With endings there remain

more scabs to pick off, prayerful knees and bowed heads

no amount could achieve

forgiveness or whatever it is I need to be to

change everything that cannot be changed

so I watch myself and you

I watch nothing and no one

empty their expressionless pockets into water

watch the colors of us turn dark and indistinguishable

as if we’d never been and I am not sure

where or who I am without you

like a glass blower who stands on the quayside

wondering if

the boats will come today

marking the horizon with their

dusky forms

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fiction

PANIC

Chris R-1-138.jpg Image by Christine Renney

It happened suddenly and without fanfare. Ben looked down at his hands and they were invisible. There had been no warning signs yet he knew instantly he was not going to be able to control this. His invisibility was not something he wilfully conjured, he could not bend and shape it to suit his own needs. It was not something he could switch on and off. No, this was simply how it was going to be.
Ben began to panic and was very aware of this, of the fact that he was panicking and that he was flailing uncontrollably. Ben looked down at his feet, or more accurately his shoes. Reaching with his right hand he grabbed hold of his left wrist and there it was, there he was.
Ben heaved a very audible sigh and he began to panic just a little less and he managed to calm the flailing. But the others on the street had already noticed him and they had stopped. They were watching, staring at him, at his absence and at his clothes, the clothes that held his shape and form. Ben kicked off his trainers and then stripped away the rest of it; jeans and a t-shirt, socks and under-shorts. He threw them all down onto the pavement and he began to run.

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poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

This is dying / This is living

grayscale photography of two woman kissing

Photo by Fernando Favero on Pexels.com

Don’t say / that word

case we defame / or endanger

this moment / and the next

cresting night waves against recumbent shore

your arms molded from sand rise and fall

to my perpetuate weave

and we are

like flowers awaiting sufficient light

to open fully

a miracle each time the pallet of

senses born over with each song

held in my chest like women who wet their lips with the sore

chaff of flax before threading it into life

we make our reality

each elbow gracing air with untrained response

ballerinas finding satin undercoat

beneath dance

if leaves covered us, they’d say

Fall never ran out of color

your diminishing form as you lean away

gasping for air and back again into

perfect vision

there are only circles, nothing is

straight lined nor willing to beg for its supper

we two have earned our share of peace

many years of violence

the thrum and rub of pain is an ever

present crystal, hung against day

a kaleidoscope of far away places

we both realized that ache lying

just one layer beneath fevered skin

for you are

this enchanted place within me

a mirror of sea water washing over

the hardness I tried to place in armor

in lieu of a heart

your beneficence and the

arch of your neck bent in sleep

a field mouse of russet and dream

I would gather everything holy

pour the past down trilling drain

vanish with you into wings of night

two stars indivisible, our energy tracing

electric center of the other

this is dying and this is living

neither of us can mouth the enchantment

no longer necessary to verbalize motion

as birds gather their passage to dusk

swooping like dancers ushered from stage

and after everyone is gone

our love shall endure

a hidden thing

blazing brightly

in memoriam

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