Waste Water

Brace yourself. When the fire starts we all look for the water with which to put it out. He sits there, with his glass of water and wonders at the progress of the ash. Brendel plays Schubert in the background. The man listens to Brendel. He feels like a dwarf. The music is so mesmerizing. The floorboards click. No one is knocking. The water grins up at him. I’ve got you, it says. Maybe so, he says, maybe so. A cigar shape lights up the sky, briefly. He raises his eyebrow. Farts.
The day passed too much like its many predecessors. Uneasily. Like wading through treacle. Flimsy thoughts of flight copulate with Spanish dreams. The pavements of the Paseo Del Prado. The clubs containing the piano players, the guitars, the singers, the dark-skinned beauties who no one can touch without fire eating them alive.
He takes another sip of his water and ponders the journey. Wonders if he’ll see her. Wonders, indeed, who SHE is. A fragment of rock chipped from the cliffs. An old book containing the last words of a forgotten, yet brilliant, author. The thunder starts. The crackling lightning rods.
No crest fallen hero’s here folks. Just a small, old gentleman. Still baffled at the world. And in contempt at his own, forced part in it. Keep the headlines. Keep the winds, the tides, the turning of the moon and whatever lurks upon its inky backside. Keep the words away. Turn the page like a printer, a proofreader. Soak in as much as you can before wetted fingers snuff out your candle. Work like a dog and sniff at a stray crotch.
Try for more.
Leaning against a wooden post, an old man watches his young self doing press-ups. His phantom heart nearly bursts in an imitation of an ectoplasmic supernova.
Like the sun, crying itself to sleep.


Hel, or the ‘G’ Button

Hel just text me.

“Save me, Russ. Save…me.”

I ignored the tedious, digital, mega-gig bastard. Things to do, you know? I’d just lit an incense stick and was watching the city grow. The UFO’s zipping between buildings, grabbing what they could while the portal remained open. Intergalactic scavengers, that’s all they are. And who would have thought, after all this time, that all they were after was lager, cigs and porn? Believe me, I ‘wanted to believe’ too. But, it seems, we aren’t the only colossal disappointment the galaxy has to offer. In fact, next to these almond eyed freaks, we’re almost palatable. Never thought I’d hear myself thinking that…must be something in the incense.

When I was a baby, I mean a kid, I mean naïve, I mean stupid, I mean a young man led by his dick, I ended up, with some woman, in Singapore. We, that is the woman and I, were staying on a high floor of a very good hotel. We had a room on the sixty somethingth storey. You could see right out over this tropical city. Clouds, the size of whole islands, would rumble across drenching everything. You could: watch the people, like ants, running from the storm: watch the ground change from matte to gloss in one, tremendous sweep. And yet it happened everyday, like clockwork. At the time I remember wondering whether we are so gripped by our needs, obligations and preoccupations that, even when we know what’s ahead, still we test our luck. And maybe, just maybe, that’s why we are extraordinary…

…damned incense.

Today, a building with a sixtieth floor wouldn’t seem that remarkable. It would appear, in this dense megapolis, a mere pimple. It’s ridiculous. And yet, like the storm, we saw it coming.

I’m dying. I know it. My doctors know it. My wife knew it (she left post-diagnosis). I sit here drinking well made cocktails. Retirement complexes are like a long haul flights; they feed ya, water ya, dim the lights and lull you to sleep by bombarding your senses with titillating nothingness.

Sitting here in my cheap, fold out chair looking out at the rusty air with its faint strip of blue before giving up to space, the universe and whatever else, I watch the blue neon headlights of the pimped UFO’s taken on long joy-rides by the wired retired.

I’m happy to watch. And to wait.

The light show and my balcony. The timbre of my pulse carrying cocktail to grey matter. My pet mouse, Miki, at my feet, nibbling the dried flesh off a cuttlefish. Curious creature.

As for Hel, he’s probably sat in his room worrying about me, which is really his way of making sure he’s okay. I wrote him. He’s my monster. And he’s a bore. If he were here, which is impossible, he’d just stare at me and blink anxiously. All fake though. That bastard doesn’t have a caring bone in his body. He’s just a tiresome projection of pixellated neurosis.

Another two UFO’s, probably each welded down the middle, have just crashed about, oooh, three miles away. A halo around a white ball of light, sparks cascading off it, followed by a limp smoky, dead octopus with growing tentacles. Those poor fuckers on the ground.

Been years since I’ve been brave enough to press the ‘G’ button in the lift.

Or stupid enough, truth be told.

Yolk in the Eye

One corner bleached by the sun. A small face grins or smiles back out. There between the trees in the far distance are the winged witches. One of them has distended labia, which she uses to pick up the insects that scurry wherever there are new souls searching the Earth. There is something about a jam sandwich. It has been dropped upon the rough, gritty  floor, where there are new empires being put together by folk with exoskeletons that care. Look at those tiny socks too. Why would you bother, what with all the mud? Maybe, a voice offers, he’s just wearing them for the photo? A quick slap in the twat puts a stop to that. Ah, a rainbow. What an empty-headed, refreshing, pretentious, heart-warming, gut-wrenching, luminous, protracted (oh yeah), gruesome, sublime (remember that one?), refined, clandestine, whatever…listen, do not fall asleep. If the sun, or sin, doesn’t rise tomorrow remember I told you nothing. What we do know is there are dinosaurs that walk the earth. They wear fish-nets and have distended labia’s. They squawk and shrink people with their laser beam smart phone app’s. Caesar, how did you manage to crow-bar that word into your work? Hey, leave it to the experts, eh Caesar?
The birds were busy pecking away the flesh from the skin of my brain.
That’s terrible. When are you going anyway?
What I heard today:
He said he had it good but he didn’t.
I haven’t had my coffee.
He was photographed with Toney.
No, that’s not right.
Oh, right.
Ok mate. Bye.
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang.
What does this mean?
I am in the ground in all but body.

Merry Christmas giblet lips.

Frozen in Hell

He lived on a combination of grass, chocolate bars and maize based, pea flavoured snacks. Instead of water, he drank sarsaparilla – and by the gallon. His main past time was taking himself on tours of the town that he grew up in. In a strange, regressive ritual he liked to bludgeon his psyche with scenes of his greatest failures. It was in this town that he met with the shadows of a past that was filled with regret, inadequacy and despair.

He parked his car in a country road and prayed that there were no people around. He opened the boot of the car and took out his rucksack, undid the zip and pulled out the wash bag. There were the sounds of birds and, in the distance, what were probably Sunday walkers with bellies full of beer and roast dinner. He got a strong feeling that he wasn’t being watched. Then he sprayed himself with aftershave to give the illusion that he was washed and groomed. His hair, though, betrayed the fact that he’d obviously risen early; startled by some event or other that he could neither explain nor recall.

The world is swelling with a sort of psychic pollution, he thought. This pollution fights for space in my head. Even the seemingly empty air feels crammed with a high level of tension; as though it’s stretched tight and ready to tear, allowing goodness knows what kinds of demons and chimera to step through and reek havoc. War is on the lips of the Gods.

He wanted to say that he’d put in a good showing. She was pretty and her heart sang softly through her battle dress. He wanted to be there, in the second, by the rivers of time unfolding. But his phone kept beeping with news from the front. And the news was bad. The heart was taking a severe beating and it looked as though sanity had had to retreat to less open terrain.

And he drove her home.

I’ll tell the kids you said hello and that you’ll see them soon, she said smiling.

And he nodded, eyes lost in the night. Just before she closed the car door the phone went off again.

He wondered whether she’d heard it and looked through the rear view mirror to see if he could get a glimpse of her face.

But there was nothing there except exhaust fumes, freezing rain and smears of orange and red light; fire, frozen in hell.

Ash Hill Radio Test Card

Rain like sheets and the handy windscreen wipers. One packet of crisps between my legs and fields of livestock, going nowhere but the slaughterhouse. And hitting the hill meant the phantom foot kicking in my teeth. The desire was to move on faster and faster. Just eating the road. One hundred miles an hour seemed like the normal speed. Crunching on a fatty, salty crisp and feeling the tug of passing cars. Head full of poetry and hatred. A slug of malice in the chest, hugging the heart. Cigarette flicked out of the window until it’s bright orange at the tip. Trying to imagine what it will be like to press the burning end into a forearm. On the radio there were the voices of the young, well-adjusted classical musicians. Their mouths sounded as though they were made from something different to mine. Delicate, velvet and marble and golden words. Not a puckered gash with compacted crisps jammed in cracked molars. These people were going somewhere without flattening the accelerator to the floor. I saw flashes. A car close to my back bumper. It swerved in a way that seemed deliberate. The voice on the radio was discussing its first year as a conductor for a successful orchestra. The flashing became irritating. What? I was just driving like everyone else.  The voice had had a daughter recently. And he was feeling so peaceful. The car behind began to overtake. And the voices daughter was already waving her hands around like a conductor. And she could repeat phrases sung by the voice. She clearly had an appreciation of music already, this newborn. The car was level with me now. Inside there were three or four youngsters. Two girls and a boy. But their faces were blurred. And, instead of eyes, there were beams of bright, white light. And I became aware of blood pouring from a gash in my cheek. They were cutting me open. I could hear the bass from their stereo. One of the creatures’ ears were flapping, they had no hair. They were in a state of continuous movement. My foot became detached and I lost speed. Their car maneuvered me off the road as the loss of acceleration and steep hill gradually slowed me down to a stop. The other car pulled up in front, shafts of light pouring from their windows. And it didn’t seem like any other drivers were noticing. I became dizzy. I had lost a lot of blood. I could hear another voice. It was coming from the radio. It was thanking someone for their company. Three figures stepped out of the car. They turned to face me. One held a smart phone in front of the group. They appeared to pose for a photo. A trophy. The voice on the radio wished the other voice all the best for the future and, who knew, perhaps there was another brilliant conductor in the daughter. From the smart phone came a massive, red laser; obliterating me, the crisps, the hatred and the nightmare of the slaughterhouse, the never-ending climb.

Paper Saver

Si was a rogue. Going from one relationship to another faster than a holiday. He drank his coffee and wondered whether the papers were ever going to be good for more than lining his canaries cage…”

And throw the pencil away if that’s all you’re going to do with it. Buy a packet of sweets and sit in the park with your boxing magazine. Watch the old men stare at you because you’re holding it upside down. Wait until the sun ducks under the horizon and see if there are any pages left. Greet the pigeons. Try to work out what that burning smell is and where it is coming from. Take your notebook and rip it into pieces. Feed it to the rats. Let it turn to manure. Stand up and face the cold. If your knees hurt, jog on the spot. There, better? Well, you should have bought gloves out with you. The lads want to spar with you because they see sport in drawing blood. And filming it on their phones. And putting it on faecbook. And as you hobble and stagger from one blow to the next, you probe your jacket pocket for a cigarette and a lighter. Robot boy getting his backside smashed in can only think of shortening his life even more with a tab. And when your head stops bouncing off fist, knee or pavement, you see stars.

And little, cartoon birds prance before your eyes.

“Say, this fellah looks like he could use a light,” one of them says. It turns around and produces a flame thrower from its bird behind, setting what is left of you aflame, clogging the already noxious air with smoke from your remains.

And he lived happily ever after the end thanks.

Washing Instructions for Delicates

Mummified works in the back of the car. A head not bothered with the whys anymore. It was sunny. Blowing blue smoke at the windscreen for fun. Seeing shapes in it. Watching the road being devoured by the hungry machine. Sun stomp on the tarmac, on the grass, through the trees. So, heaven issued a new album. Makes it difficult to listen to anything else. Flowers spring and glide; mid-air, as though they have minds of their own. Smiles, pain, dying summer. Good, old heartbeat. Still ticking over, you son of a gun. Blinking at road signs. At passengers. At that face that looks back. But look, doesn’t it seem as though the warm season is waking up again? Summer insomnia? Just can’t get back to bed. Down with the tangy, brown leaves and dead birds. Dewy mornings. Paper rounds. Inky fingers. Cups of tea. Sealed eyelids.

New sun. Fresh gaze. Hundreds of toffee apples dangling from the ceiling. Classical music in the mind. The figure at the door. And open basket containing fresh rolls, butter and jam. The berries bursting in the pinch of love.

A dogs splashes into the river. Hard though it is to tell, it seems to me like it’s smiling.


Under the Spark Machine

Sticks in piles. Did you see that? Wine drips from sleeves and shelves laden with pickled things: books, limbs, vegetables, badges, certificates, eyes. Yes, indeed. I imitate and burn. Flay off the skin, there is nothing underneath maybe. Who knows? If you pick up a lighter, no, let’s make sure, a blowtorch. Like so. And turn on the gas. A simple spark. Aiming the bright end at the flesh. Yow, it pops and fizzles. I’ll try it out. See how I get on. Fly it upon the next warm eddy. Catch a bird of prey on a Sunday. Trap it in a room made of mirrors. Create the perfect weapon. A spiritual scream through decades. Three. A dead church surrounded by a cloud of birds. Speakers poking through clouds. Piped music from the ionosphere. Sounds reflections of good and vile dreams. When I didn’t want to wake. The chill ram-rodding the temples, cooling the blood. Brain frozen and unable to leap at the thought of the morning.

But the night. All blood-red and weeping eyes. Fascination rumbles in the balls. She has you. That faceless, formless bitch. Light the stove. We’ll eat then head to bed.

Go Out

My head was banging pain, pain, pain but I went out anyway. My tooth felt like it was made of hot metal. Like it was freezing away the nerve, killing it slowly. Like autumn. And I drank a pint of sweet, cold, fizzy liquid. Teeth and head both screaming. And brain just wanting quiet and codeine. I met friends and it was a joy to see them. Good people. But I didn’t feel like a good person. I felt like I was responsible for all the bad things that had happened.

I never watched the news.

I smoked and my teeth wanted to shrink into the gums. The smoke irritated them and they complained again. The place was not real. I felt the walls and my hand went straight through. I screwed up a pint glass as though it were paper. Then the music froze and fell to the floor in cotton wool heaps. Only a few people remained. The others were either never there or had left.

I drove out of the car park. The building folded in upon itself. I steered the car onto the main road. The wheels sank into the tarmac but I managed to keep it at 30 mph. Looking in the mirror, I saw the road collapse. Beyond it there was nothing but black.

Closing the door, I fed myself the necessary drugs and waited, impatiently, for the light to go out.

Old Fashioned

He passed ghosts in the street. Some leered at him whilst others glanced briefly, then grinned at themselves at some inside joke. The day was in full swing but he felt as though there were an enormous veil across the sky, blanketing the universe from influencing the comings and goings of misery, substance abuse and commerce. He saw spectres, like him, with shocked expressions, as though they knew what they were but would not, or could not, acknowledge it. There were abandoned prams outside pubs.
Someone had painted frowning eyes on the back window of their car. He thought, ‘everything wears an angry expression, unless it’s defeated, dead, or dying.’
It had been months since he’d, disbelieving, seen the further degradation of the animal he once loved. Now collapsed, its legs atrophied beyond recognition, wheezing its final breaths, it was on the threashold of devastating the world at the same time that it left it.
‘She’s been like that since you left,’ said his friend. ‘I thought you’d want to see her before…’ and his friend looked away. And he knew that his friend was crying.
As he shut the car door he heard the shot. For a second he imagined it was the car door. In the pit of his stomach, though, he knew that it wasn’t the car door.

*    *    *

The town reached up to the sky like a forest of dying hands. The stubbornness inspired him, in a sick way.


He laced on the gloves and examined his opponent. And he realised, had realised all along, like a bad ending (a bad ending) that the opponent was his unborn child. And that it, he, was in for a good, old-fashioned arse-kicking.