fiction

THE KNIGHT PERHAPS

chris r-1-56 Illustration by Christine Renney

Cocooned in my parka, head down, I walk. I keep to the edges of the pavement and I follow the cracks between the slabs and in this way I cover my patch. I tug at my hood just to be sure; a habit I can’t, or won’t, break, and I scan the ground at my feet. When I spot a cigarette butt, a good one, I reach down and snatch it and place it in my pocket along with the others.
I must appear erratic, resemble a chess piece, the rook, or the knight perhaps, my movements awkward and jerky. Any progress I make is difficult to determine as I trek the board, seeming to endlessly fail at making my way across.
But I don’t raise my head and I don’t know if anyone is watching. I suspect that when I am noticed it is fleetingly and that they steer clear. I am just somebody scuffling, a scavenger.
There are plenty of cigarette butts but I only collect the good ones. The best are those that have been pinched or stubbed out before being dropped and not stamped upon. But I’ll take any that might still contain a little tobacco rather than just dry dust and ash. And I have become adept at spotting these and I know when to reach down and which ones to gather. Throughout the day I fill my pockets and when they are full I leave, I abandon the board.
I never stray far from the Centre now and I settle behind the bins at the back of Pound Saver. I empty my pockets and set to work, rubbing with my thumb and forefinger I remove the burnt tips. Stripping the paper away, I pull out all the good tobacco and without wasting a single stringy strand I drop it, one pinch at a time, into the tin. When it is full and the tobacco is tightly packed, as I roll the first cigarette, just fleetingly I am content.

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Uncategorized

Ever seen

Give me back to the century

Where emotion rained hard

On the blessed shoulders of mortals

With not long to live

And in their reckless squander

A divinity of purpose

Feel it all before the raging blaze

Is quit

Search the very foundation of self

For magnificent adrenaline

Surging cosmos in franetic energy

Furthering simplicity of day

With abundance

Yea

I follow the trodden path

Tapering to our end

With potence of resin risen from stone

Breaking its balm on thunderstorm

If I do one thing

One thing at all

May it be everything

To discover my core

Welded on the bright of this quick life

Ushering me near, its damaged flame

That I might behold you

As you step from earth

Encrusted with star jewels

The planitary alignment

A sword wound

Carved in my fate

We may only have together

A day

Or life time

In the wandering of us

Beneath mortal skin

A magnetic pull

Brings us to our circumference

Behold the power of two

As they blaze into this long dream

Their fire

The only part of them

Ever seen

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life, poetry, prosetry

Morning after

A few years ago I used to get off on

drinking from the bottle

torn fish nets

bar flies who told me

little baby you look so young

then the apocalypse came

we ran out of liquor

bare legs grew chaffed

I felt every year

sometimes it takes a storm

to see through your own bullshit

and coming out the other side

look around for those who

held on

attracted to a pinch of sleeze

nothing too clean

if you couldn’t understand me

what was the point?

I’d rather you had lines around your eyes

showing trace of unbearable moments

than a smooth face

acknowledgement of our plunge into pain and its returned baptism

I’d rather a portion of sickness in your blood

than clean without trace

we smoked ourselves until we were ash

stayed up all night breaking beds with rocking pelvises

my nipples the color of damson wine and indigo bites

you hurt me in ways holding rapture of delight

your tattoos stung my eyes with the fierceness of needles

pushed too deep

don’t hold me to promises I can’t keep

you whisper in your sleep

and I was told I’d die at 50 once

so time is ticking down

Fat Tuesday for the sober

a turquoise kitchen clock

in some distant home

where people make their beds and leave their

dirt beneath the surface

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life, poetry, prosetry

Easy is the slip to nothing

Some have too little love

Like hunger they scrape and search

Pealing the skin from their fingers in want

Looking until emptiness becomes full

For just a glimmer of compassion

The thing marking human

Quick to turn to hate

Like a fickle madness

Or held diving breath

So alive and quickening

A carefully guarded amber flame

Proof of life

For if cold, we are surely dead

Dormant to feeling

Impervious and keening

Easy is the greased slip to nothing

Feelings a weary bead counter

Chanted prayers, wishes forging hope

Touch, warmth, caressing tangible

Not remote

We were not made to stand alone

Though if you set your mind

On climbing chalky cliff side

Be sure there is purpose

For some are made of granite

They release radium

And the unmoving possession of their heart

Is surely worse than never knowing

The hot dulcent murmur

Of poison with purpose

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life, poetry, prosetry

Fantasy girl

37945898_225058491668746_2704218410081845248_nShe

has a fantasy girl

her fantasy girl

who is not hers at all

doesn’t know she exists

because existence is

overrated

like a star struck teen

or perhaps not at all like that

more a wreckage that has refused

to completely destroy

that last ember that says

please have some hope

things can be different

she climbs outside of the

mistrust and inability to believe

all the lies people have told her

in such a short life OH how many there were

she puts aside this giant reality

which of course in the real world she never could

because it’s proven itself too many times

to be the most real thing she knows

in this fantasy land

she trusts and believes words people tell

which of course would be suicide

if she wasn’t making it up

but here she is untouched

by the horror of trusting a promise

having it burn through your skin

into your oily marrow

as a lie

here, she controls the fluted outcome

and it is golden

her fantasy girl

you may not look at twice

walking down the street

she isn’t the beauty some of those

she shared a bed with were

she doesn’t have the tawny hair of girl 2

or the azure eyes of girl 5

or the coltish legs of girl 3

she doesn’t even possess

a particularly pleasing shape

or long neck or soft bottom lip

but she is incapable of deception

won’t lie even under pressure

isn’t going to tell you what you want to hear

or feel pressured to appease your query

she will

take you in her arms

and honestly give a damn

if she had scars

missing hair

ingrowing toe nails

threadbare clothes

faded underwear with stretched out elastic

and an unflattering sag

she’d be the best girl she ever let inside

where once there was only bleach and scouring brushes

from cleaning out heartache

now, she can open

the latched window to the garden

smell the chasing breeze of fresh air

knowing she’s not going to be burned in some

unguarded moment

like you feel when

you put everything into a bag

give it to someone and say

here, here I am, TAKE ALL OF ME

but be gentle, I am breakable

the person nods and promises eagerly

because they have yet to

try you out

but once they do and it becomes

an old thing, a worn thing, something

already accomplished

you are the yellowed paper

of yesterday’s fish and chips

tossed into a cold fast running river

sinking … sinking … sinking

she will take anything

even a sharp knife or a thick rope

or two fistfuls of pills and a warm oven

over that kind of destruction

where you feel scouged and robbed

of any ability whatsoever to

believe a single WORD

about love and forever and promises

they are the sticky gooey false

stomach sickening lies

that close your wind pipe

keep you vomiting over a dirty toilet seat

in your pretty dress you stupidly bought

thinking it would be such a lovely day

no let’s not return to that place again

even if it means giving up on

all of it

living instead

in the barrel of a gun

when you fire

you turn to

silver

 

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life, poetry, prosetry

Your misuse

They can tell you

Because you’re not going to back down

You won’t sell your sisters for a side ways glance

You won’t burn your bra, you may need it to strangle someone

You have the same look

All of you

The ones with green hair and multiple piercings who say fuck off before you smile

The ones who rule the world behind the scenes and nod as their husbands slip inside

The ones who are glory and begotten and forgotten and eclipsed and insist

They still live

You can tell

Even as they spell it out in myriad ways

I am not your slave

You do not own me

But once I was hurt very badly

By my father, mother, brother, sister, best friend, neighbor, uncle, stranger

And I carry the brand around my throat

Once in a while when I lean over

You can see it quickening

I may stay locked at home with agoraphobia

I may dance on tables in mock euphoria

I may fuck you and your friends for a glass of red

I may be a nun or an abstinent

How I express my rage

Comes differently

But inside we’re all the same

The whores, the moms, the teachers, the tree cutters, the little and the large the quiet and the opera singer

If I open my legs it doesn’t mean I’m over it

Or caused it or needed that brand

If you repeat the violence, it may be the carousel in my head

If I close them it doesn’t mean I’m frigid or need a bit of teaching, by you

If I’m a lesbian that’s not the reason, if I’m into men, I’m not guilty of treason

Underneath we are the sisters and brothers of

Your misuse

And our pain doesn’t go away like Oprah said

Our scars aren’t magnified if we think about it thirty years to the day

We’re not stronger for forgetting, remembering, talking, staying silent

Violence, passivity, acceptance, rage

We’re not weak because at 4 am we find tears on our cheek

We’re not strong because we take it and carry it around

We survived

Just like a rock

Covered with water

Will remain whole beneath storm

But whittle down with erosion

So slow nobody can tell

We’re not your beloved or maybe we are

We’re c-sections and sterility and STDs and shame in every color

We’re nymphomaniacs and we’re disgusted, we’re relieved, we’re open, we’re closed

We’re sisters and brothers of fire and brimstone

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poetry, prosetry

fading out under the ashes of the night

For the child, time stretches out immeasurably in all directions, and it’s as if nothing more is needed than unencompassed possibility. A little blonde girl walking down the sidewalk with her father makes eye contact with me as I sit myself down in the couch by the window in the deepening sunset evening to read. She gives me the warmest little girl smile and a friendly wave as if fanning simple kindness my way through thick summer air and I hear her say “the neighbor” to her dad over the cicadas’ divertimento, without hearing what came from him. Did she come from him? I wonder about her future, and, in doing so, think back to what was once mine and I remember the way it looked from the interior, seemingly infinitesimal like looking up at stars projected on the dome of a planetarium. For some of us, the ceiling is just another direction. For others, it’s a destination.

My friend has been dead for six years though I only found out today and I’m not at all sure what kind of friend that makes me but I am certain we once shared dreams like young friends do of being more than where we came from. Some nights are defined by lack. Some nights are just thoughts. Some nights are like tonight.

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