poetry

bees

my dad never runs from bees
but I run from bees
does that mean I am not a man?

bees are small and evil little yellow and black things
that cause you pain
but everyone still wants to save them

I want to kill them all
but if we kill them all we all also
die
this is called nature
it sucks
it is an absurdist joke in bad taste

I was outside of a wedding when it happened
the bee
I ran from it
an old woman watched me
and I could see in her eyes she thought

“that’s not a man”

and I thought
bees are dumb
this is dumb
everything is dumb

why aren’t you running from the bee
you crazy old bitch

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poetry

Deep

You, me, empty beach
Lukewarm tea in polystyrene
Secret thoughts cast out to sea
On broken glass you fell asleep
I whispered, “Don’t follow me”
And swam ’til I was out of reach
Further from you
Closer to me
To madder ideas than you could ever conceive
And thoughts that are deeper
Deeper than this, deeper than me
To the might haves and the has beens
To separate futures and choreographed smoke screens
Your love for me like seaweed
Wrapped around my ankle, trying to kick you free
And then: a sudden clarity of mind and I decide
That comparing my moods to the changing tides
Is too benign, too simplified
You should think of me, really,
As all of that exasperated energy beneath
The kind that riles in whirlpools, in eddies
In tsunamis, in bed sheets
Or as a simple pebble that you choose, hold, and then throw back
Into the same situation from which it has just escaped
The harsh worn smooth, gradually
Your voice slowly eroding my sharp parts, the ugly,
The physical extensions of a psyche permanently lost at sea
How many years would it take for you to file down my edges
To wear me down with hits and kisses and all those near-misses?
I tried to drown but the ocean just spat me out
And out and out again
I emerged from the deep
Freezing
Free
Too shocked to speak
Bone-dry by the time you woke up and looked at me
You didn’t ask me where I’d been
You didn’t even know I’d left
But the next time I leave
You’ll notice,
Believe me.

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fiction, prosetry

Part 2 – The Scarecrow

[READ PART 1 HERE]

 

The field did not know how to survive without the farmer. She tried to remember all of the things that the farmer had taught her but she was worried that she wasn’t remembering his words quite right or that she’d make a mistake and let the farmer down. She tried desperately to absorb the constant rain, to turn it into something good, to use it to nurture any good thoughts of hers but it flooded her instead. She thought that she might drown in her own tears.

But there was somebody who wanted to help the field, to blow all of the clouds away, to look after her and encourage her to be brilliant again. This somebody had admired the field from afar for a while and he had lost his own farmer too, a couple of years back. This somebody was a scarecrow. He knew how to survive without a farmer and explained to the field that he wanted to protect her. The scarecrow thought that she was very special and beautiful, and told the field that she didn’t have to feel alone anymore.

The field wasn’t too sure about this scarecrow: he told her that he had never looked after a field as magical as her before, but that he was “big and ugly enough to take care of the both of them.” And since he was named after her farmer’s favourite musician, the field took this as a good omen and agreed to let the scarecrow help her.

And he did help the field. He helped her every way that he could.

When it rained, the scarecrow would run around the field putting out buckets and pots and pans and opening up hundreds of colourful umbrellas so that the field would be dry. But this meant that the scarecrow got wet and his straw was all damp. Who was there to protect him? Perhaps this job isn’t as easy as the scarecrow had first thought. But he grew to love the field more with each passing day and so he stayed, through rain and shine, through pain and light.

But just as the field started getting better, then came the rodents. They hid around the field, gnawing away at whatever goodness that the field produced. The scarecrow chased lots of them away, but the field was still hurt, covered in bite marks. The scarecrow kissed her wounds but the field didn’t think that she deserved his kisses because she felt so sad and useless and ugly.

Then one afternoon a gang of vultures began circling the field. The field was scared. She told the vultures to go away, that she didn’t want them around her, that she had nothing left to give them, that they had picked away at all of the remaining confidence and hope that she had secretly stored away in her head. But they swooped down into the field, searching for the snakes that the farmer’s wife had released and any rodents that the scarecrow hadn’t managed to chase away.

The field was so frightened, she screamed and screamed for the scarecrow. But the scarecrow didn’t see why the field was so upset. He couldn’t see any vultures. The field was bleeding but the scarecrow could not understand how or why. The sky was clear, no birds, no clouds, no lightning and yet the field was destroyed – how could this be?

He had never had to look after a field this dangerous or difficult before. He loved the field very much but how could he protect her from something that he couldn’t even see?

A few weeks later, the field had healed. But she still lived in fear of the vultures returning. She no longer expected the scarecrow to protect her although she liked having him around. It was nice to have somebody to share the odd chunk of sunshine with. And the scarecrow didn’t seem to mind too much because once the rain had stopped, his clothes and straw would always dry out under the warmth of the field’s golden heart.

But the field had a secret. She knew that there was an unexploded landmine under the ground right between her heart and the spot where the scarecrow stood. She knew that she should tell the scarecrow to run away to somewhere safe. But she was scared to be alone again.

Every time he ran around the field trying to save her from rain and rodents and snakes and lightning, she held her breath. Each time she tried to pluck up the courage to tell him about the bomb, she remembered how he hadn’t believed her about the vultures trying to kill her, so why would he believe her about the bomb that might kill the both of them? And anyway, she didn’t want him to worry about their future for no good reason.

On the days where the field felt so sad and lonely, and felt that she couldn’t live without the farmer, she thought about the bomb in her belly and knew that if she wanted to she could make all of the rain stop once and for all. But that would mean hurting the scarecrow too, and the farmer would be angry and disappointed in the field for giving up.

Oh, she wished more than ever that she could ask the farmer what to do. She smiled at the kind and loving scarecrow and knew that she was very lucky to have him. And then she saw the pack of vultures overhead…


Featured image: Fracture/Fractura by Lia Cruz [source]
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fiction

Part 1 – The Farmer

Once upon a fairly recent time, a farmer’s wife fortuitously procured a large piece of land. She did not expect to take on this piece of land and so she gifted it to her husband. This would be one of only two instances in which she was good to the husband.

The farmer was delighted. He invested all of his time, money, knowledge, energy and effort into nurturing this perfect untouched landscape. At first, the farmer was a little anxious, like an artist intimidated by a blank canvas. But the farmer put his heart and soul into the land and soon he was able to see how greatly it had flourished.

Under his watchful eye, the crops grew in abundance. His love and encouragement made the trees grow strong and fast, and all of the flowers bloomed as if his land was in a state of perpetual spring. He spent many hours in the field, talking aloud, reading poetry and playing music.

After some time, the farmer had created the most beautiful field in all the land. People travelled great distances to see the exotic flora that had magically emerged from the ground. He was able to sell lots of fresh produce, his fruits and vegetables won praise and awards, and his farming friends were in awe of him (and somewhat miffed that their own fields never turned out so good). The farmer was so immensely proud of his field, of all the varying aspects of it: the field was his pride and joy.

The farmer lived with his wife, but only for the sake of practicality. They were not friends and there was no love lost between them. But the farmer lived for his field and was determined to stay nearby so that he could continue to watch his seedlings grow every day and tend to this crops, even if this meant having to put up with his wife. The farmer’s wife was a very bitter, angry lady. She was angry for lots of reasons. She had been angry for many years, long before she’d even met her husband. But she was angry still, because the farmer loved his land more than he loved her. So she set out to secretly destroy his pride and joy.

In the middle of the night, the farmer’s wife would sneak out to the field and trample all over his crops, spray poison on the flowers and snap his saplings. If she knew where to find a swarm of locusts, she would’ve released them over the field. She was mean to the farmer and mean to the land.

The farmer was distraught. His beautiful creation had been ruined. Each time this happened, he tried desperately to revive his plants and tend to the sabotaged soil, and again the flowers would blossom thanks to his love and care until they were inevitably destroyed again.

Twelve years after he first started his field, the weather changed. It was unexpected. The farmer had never seen so many black clouds before. The black clouds hung heavily over his precious field, threatening rain and thunder and wind. But still, the farmer kept his faith in himself and his field. They had, after all, overcome hardships together before. He visited a friend’s farm which was very close to his own field, but the sky over his friend’s farm was blue. The farmer was confused.

The black clouds would not go away. And then it rained and it rained and it rained and the farmer’s field turned into sludge. The field looked so sad. The farmer became sad because he didn’t know how to help the field nor how to protect it from these horrible forces that were beyond his control. The farmer’s wife, however, was very pleased: her husband was sad and his darling creation was no longer beautiful or enchanting.

After the black clouds refused to leave, the farmer became very sick, both slowly and suddenly. The farmer was dying and the field was dying too. One day, when the rain tapered off, the field realised what she had to do: she had to help the farmer and look after him, just like he had looked after her for so many years and loved her even when the black clouds flooded her.

She had to learn ways to ignore the clouds and practiced pretending to feel sunshine even when there wasn’t any. She needed to make new crops so that the farmer wouldn’t worry about money. She worked very hard, even on days when she didn’t feel like she could do anything at all. She tried with all her might to become beautiful and strong and abundantly giving and helpful and kind, like she was when she was younger, like the farmer was himself. And sure enough, she grew.

Yes, the field was damaged in many ways, and she had scars on the bark of her trees from when the farmer’s wife had hurt her and footprints on her skin from where the farmer’s wife had stomped on her, but still she managed to return to something that the farmer would be proud of. And when the farmer looked out of the window one day, he saw how glorious his field was and he cried because he was so happy, so proud, so grateful.

When the farmer died, his field thought that she, too, would die. Her roots ached and her leaves dried up. The soil that had been her home for so long now felt like it was burying her alive. Her fruits rotted away by her feet, untouched. There was no more sunshine. Only black clouds and rain.


Part 2 will be posted next Friday here on Hijacked Amygdala

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prosetry

Day of Birth / Night Crawlers

Day of Birth

04:45

She had taken the day off work but forgot to turn off her usual alarm. All hopes of a lie-in were demolished. She was not ready to turn 29. “Let’s call the whole thing off.”

05:22

She wondered if the ravens knew that their continuous cawing is the most consistent, reliable thing in her life.

05:23

A murder of crows. An ostentation of peacocks. A parliament of owls. She had no collective. She just was.

06:42

She buried her phone under her mattress so she didn’t have to face life just yet. She began to read The Glass Bead Game for the fourth time. And for the fourth time she didn’t make it past page 28. Having said that, she hadn’t expected to make it past year 28, but she’s only bloody gone and done it.

10:08

She never opens it in front of her, but she receives a card from her mother every year. If she shakes it hard enough, the hollow words fall out of the envelope like dirty feathers so that by the time she’s gathered the strength to read it, the inside is blank. It’s easier that way, for everyone.

11:29

She crossed herself as the bus rumbled past the church, just in case. In case of what, she wasn’t sure. In case hell doesn’t turn out to be as hot as everyone says it is.

12:45

She found herself at a park that she used to go to. As a child she spent hours in the playground, being pushed on the rusty swing by someone else’s parent, playing quietly with snails and stones and empty fag packets.

And as a teenager she used to hang out down by the brook with her fellow delinquents, getting trashed on ketamine and K cider. She couldn’t decide which of these periods was more of a waste of her finite hours.

13:10

She went to the playground but was fearful of doing so without a child in tow. It had rained last night and the smell was familiar. The playground floor was still comprised of wood chips and loose pieces of tree bark, like it had been over 20 years ago.

She remembered lifting the larger pieces of wood after rainfall and finding woodlice to play with; giving them names, loving them, and then being devastated when she wasn’t allowed to take them home. She did the same now. She named him Stanley and put him in her blazer pocket. There was nobody around to tell her not to.

14:29

She stood beneath the statue to read the card from her mother.

She used to climb the statue as a kid. She thought it was the closest she’d get to seeing the Statue of Liberty. Now there’s a gate around it: health and safety gone mad. The blue woman looked so severe, so powerful, so strong, holding her book and sceptre, a wreath around her head.

She is called The Bringer of Peace. Some kids climbed up her and blowtorched her breasts. She now has a large charred black circle on each tit. It makes her look silly. The Bringer of Empty Birthday Cards.

14:35

She realised that she’d spent the last decade fighting the urge to lie down in the street, at the bus stop, in the frozen aisle of the supermarket. She was so, so tired.

16:52

She forgot where she’d hidden her phone. She received an email from an old lover, wishing her many happy returns. She will never return to him. Tears pricked her eyes as she recalled his parting words to her:

You are impossible. You are as impossible as trying to roll a cigarette in a tornado, without any rizla. You’re the fucking storm and I’m in desperate need of a smoke.

17:11

She checked her pocket to see how Stanley was doing. He was gone. She hit her head against the wall 29 times, hard. One for every year of being a terrible person.

17:51

She suddenly remembered someone telling her about how their mother’s pregnancy craving was piccalilli. She couldn’t, for the life of her, remember who said this. Or work out why it was in her mind. Did anyone ever say that? On tv, in a book, in a film? She cried because she’ll never know. She had 10% of a memory but will never regain the rest. She wasn’t even sure what piccalilli actually was so she cried some more. She was so tired.

18:25

She always cried on her birthday. Every year without fail.

19:02

Why the elevator has carpeted walls, she will never know.

19:36

She felt the burn of a thousand champagne bubbles rioting down her throat, each capsule of carbonated misery filled with the vicious irony of celebrating being one day closer to her death. And a day closer to yours, too.

20:56

She locked herself in a cubicle and shovelled snow up her snout. She hoped Stanley was safe somewhere. Just thinking about him made her well up. She decided she would never have children. She couldn’t even look after a woodlouse.

21:15

She sat on her friend’s lap, smoking a suspicious-looking rollup. The garden was lit up like fairyland. She was grateful for her friends, and as the sky was turning purple she saw his face illuminated in the gaps between the fragmented chunks of cloud. Even nature is broken, she thought aloud.

22:49

She made a wish when she blew out the candles on her extravagant multi-layer cheesecake. “Please kill me.”

23:48

(But it won’t come true because she told me what she wished for).

Night Crawlers

00:23

She didn’t want to go home because it didn’t feel like home at all. The empty streets felt more like home than her little studio room so off she went.

00:57

He knew she’d had enough when he noticed that it took her eight seconds to decide if it was a star or an aeroplane.

01:11

He knew she’d had enough but he did it anyway.

01:13

He knew she’d had enough and said No No No No I don’t want to Please No Please Please Stop Get off me Please No Get off Please but he did it anyway.

01:17

He did it anyway even when her screaming stopped.

01:19

He did it anyway even when her breathing stopped

01:38

He dumped her all those years ago with a nasty line about her being a storm and him wanting an easy life, saying she was impossible to live with.

01:39

He dumped her down by the brook and hid her body under some pieces of wood. They were damp and covered in woodlice. There were hundreds and hundreds of them.

They crawled over his hands, around his wrists and up his shirt sleeves. They got into his shoes and ran up his trouser legs. He shrieked and yelped as they climbed his back, over his neck and into his ears. He jumped around like a madman, trying to shake the bugs off him, but every time he’d cleared some of the woodlice off him, another army had arrived.

The commotion happened to alert two police officers that were doing the rounds of their patch. Since the statue had been vandalised, night crawlers had been drafted in to keep an eye on the park after dark.

He was sentenced to 29 years.

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PUPPET SHOW

Chris R--5.jpg Illustration by Christine Renney

Isabella courted catastrophe or, rather, she carried it with her, unknowingly dragging it behind her. Invisible and weightless, for almost fourteen years it didn’t hinder her and was benign. Only when it struck, when catastrophe bloomed, did she feels its weight, pulling at her. It almost lifted her from the ground. She was standing in the lounge of her grandmother’s flat, on the eighth floor of a sixteen storey block. Seven flats below and a further eight above.
‘What is happening?’ her grandmother asked.
Isabella, struggling to remain upright, didn’t reply. She managed to grab hold of the string, it was delicate, just a thread, but it didn’t give. She wrapped it around her right wrist and then tried to trace the line, to find out where it was attached and, as she knelt down to gather the excess at her feet, it cut into her skin.
‘OUCH!’
‘Isabella, what is wrong?’, her grandmother sounded distraught.
‘It’s nothing, Gran, just a power cut, you know, like in the seventies. Remember you told me all about it?’
‘I don’t mean that’, her grandmother said sharply.
‘What’s happening over there. What are you doing?’
‘I just stumbled in the dark. Don’t worry, I’m okay.’
Isabella stood and, with her left hand, she fanned the air above her head but couldn’t reach whatever was trying to pull her up. She groaned.
‘Are you hurt? Are you in pain,’ her grandmother asked.
‘No.’
‘Then what is it, Isabella?’
‘I don’t know but it’s heavy.’
Her grandmother crossed to the window and pulled back the drapes. The block of flats opposite stood like a mighty obelisk and there were squares of light dotted here, there and everywhere.
‘It isn’t a power cut’, her grandmother said softly, ‘at least not like in the seventies.’ She could see her granddaughter a little more clearly now and she resembled a pen and ink drawing. A skinny girl buffeted in a gale.
‘I have to step outside’, she said to Isabella, ‘just for a moment. I won’t be long.’
Carefully she manoeuvred herself around the dark shapes that were her furniture. Grappling and groping, she made it into the hall, but before reaching the door at the end, she could see through the glass a dim light from the flat opposite. Nevertheless, stepping outside, she hit the switch on the wall and the landing and stairs below burst into sight.

She placed her hand at the centre of Isabella’s back, gently pushed and they began to move forward, the excess line dragging on the carpet behind them.
At Isabella’s wrist it was taught and she tried with her free hand to grab and pull at it, but it slipped through her fingers and cut into her palm. She held out her hand.
‘Look, Gran, can you see it?’
‘No, not in this light.’
‘But you believe me?’
‘Of course I believe you.’
At last they reached the sofa and as she sat, Isabella managed, with considerable effort, to lodge the line beneath the wooden arm and both she and the sofa began to rise.
‘Now can you see it?’
‘Yes, I can see it,’ her grandmother sighed. ‘I’ll fetch the scissors,’ she said resignedly, ‘or a knife and we’ll cut it. I’ll set you free.’
‘Oh no, we can’t do that,’ Isabella wailed, ‘if we do, it’ll go up through the ceiling and through all of the flats or it might go down, it might fall through all the flats below, either way it’ll be a catastrophe. Anyway, it’s too late, whatever it is it has hold of me.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I don’t know exactly but I know we mustn’t cut it and I can’t be free of it, not now.’
As Isabella spoke something began pulling at the excess line, taking up the slack. She reached down and, grasping hold of it with her right hand, she struggled to wrap it around her left wrist.
Her grandmother began to sob as, suddenly, everything seemingly returned to normal. The lights came back on and the television began again to glare and blare.

Standard
poetry

Pushin’ Up Daisies

remember, remember,
darling girl,
how we used to get so high
that we’d forget how words work?
when we’d skip class and run fast
to the nearest park
and sit for so many hours
side by side
making crowns out of pretty little flowers
until the sky grew cold and dark;

we built a cemetery for the fairies,
for all the nymphs and fallen pixies
who lived and played and died without names,
throwing bluebells on their tiny shallow graves
and blowing dandelion seeds
up into the pallid, omniscient cherry blossom trees,
willing to witness some dire catastrophe unfold
or see a ten-pound note fall from the sky
or find a gram of unknown powder
in a wrap upon the floor;
but this time
you wished for ice-cream
and I wished for sanity
but we always wanted more;

we shared the strangest friendship,
darling girl,
made good through bizarre displays
of varying degrees of crazy,
the mutual need for affirmation,
and the traditional teenage taste for rebellion
and adventures bearing stories that are
worthy of telling the grandchildren
(despite the fact we thought we’d never
make it to twenty-one)
but there was never anything wrong
with you,
darling,
was there?

I remember how you cried when your doctor
saw through your lies,
through your many attempts
to convince him that you had ADD,
how you cried when the child psychologist
diagnosed you as a spoilt little madam,
a bratty, self-absorbed little shit
who had a loving, wealthy family
but who threw tantrums to rival any toddler –
you were jealous of me
and my perpetual sadness
and my prozac and problems
and my grotesque, overflowing madness
where your life was pretty perfect;

you wished to be insane
to have an excuse for acting like a princess
to have an excuse for bunking off school
to have an excuse for breaking the law
but I would’ve swapped brains with you
any day. I bet you count your blessings
nowadays but I’ve heard that you are
still a fucking nightmare anyway;

but there we were
making bracelets after dark
in that shitty little park,
and so we’d stay until
there were no more flowers left to pick
and by the time the autumn had come around
our love lay crunched and broken
amongst the orange leaves
lying, dying, on the sodden ground;

who knew, darling girl,
who knew? that we were fragile too?
we were unstoppable
untouchable
unforgivable
once upon a time,
me and you against the world,
but even the brightest stars
someday have to die;

my blood is still within in your pretty veins
and your blood still swims in mine,
and I still have the scars from when
we were waiting outside a gig
down Chalk Farm that time,
playing noughts and crosses
on my forearm
with a penknife:
I think that I will always love you

our sisterhood fell apart as easily
as those daisy chains we used to make –
I guess even the most naive and beautiful connections
can be the simplest ones to break


Originally posted on themagicblackbook 23.06.16

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