Sandstone Mind Map

My blood pumps candy apple red under the old Grandfather star, ringing snuggly in his blue blanket.
I check my watch. Realise this is pointless. Come to recall how I’ve checked my watch only a few minutes ago and with exactly the same conclusion.
Where was time for it to be watched.
Kicking my melting boots in the sand, I cannot imagine that such things as were in the world (lint, promiscuity, cobalt blue embedded quilts, towers of animal faces in oak, an invisible means of announcing lateness, money, hog hair brushes, paracetamol, kites, javelin tipped gazes, glazed globes, ear lobes, panty hose) were in it.
I’m sure I’d need someone to describe these things to me.
As though my name wasn’t Russell. And I’d have to be convinced of this fact, beyond, and despite, the years of Russell-ness.


There is wonder in desperation. At the suggestion of some macroscopic slither of reality veering away from an assumed course, there can be found the magic once believed lost forever.
A man singing across the Thames. A three legged cat. Climbing fallen trees. The pretty women that sing our hearts lullaby.
Then the death of belief. Of hope. The freedom of the real, tangible oblivion. The womb of the universe; chaotic at first glance, yet ordered beyond fathom.


Grappling Tide

A thick mist of the inevitable. Lost minds clogged the lungs. A strand of junk thoughts messed with my mind. Memories of curves, of sensuality. Craziness from the centre of the universe. Longing. Laughter. A sombre day, spiked with possibility. The ghosts of 10 million soldiers marching across the tundra. Ragged uniforms. The muffled sound of military song. The clomping of tired boots through the shopping mall. The modern church of the damned. Me. You. We.
Notes left on lamp posts. Homeless postmen playing penny whistles. A friend coated in a suit of armour. The lost vessels of a long forgotten sea battle. The invisible waves running through my knees.
Mighty river, I would love to be like you.


The hollow stomach gurgles with rage. The day is blunt. Blood glugs brown around the twitching veins. A bloody mess of a mind. The brain reminds itself of the possibility of suicide. Muscles relax. Endorphins rush. A sigh from that cold bastard called space. The pinprick stabs in the fabric of the universe. Endless wine. Endless hangover. Soul death for eighty three years. And even the animals have now packed up and disappeared.
I found a tuft of badger hair stuck to a snapped stick. I knealt with it in my hand and wept. I jammed the sharp end into my forearm until the muscle showed through.
And spent the evening picking out endorphin soaked splinters with a beaming smile.

Burnt Jam

The sun never really comes out. They, the rich, have stolen it and stored in their castles.
Watching the buzz, from the work house, from the gutter. High hats totter and heels clack into the elite drinking holes, kicking up the odd gutter oyster (a rats liver, half chewed, something discarded from the paupers doctor, a piece of root vegetation). A scene of hoarse-drawn carriages, each with it’s own, lush cabin, inside which virginal beauties dream of star fruits, Turkish delight, tigers, peacock feathers, fountains of wine with rubber duckies boobing upon the semillon skin. The candle light cuts through the curtains. Someone throws blue mud at red wine velvet curtain. They are shot immediately; a crack of smoke. A posturing guard. A faint smile upon his young lips. His master pats his wig.
A fight broke out over some peelings. They spilled from the kitchens. Another shot from the flintlock pistol scatters the crowd. An old man is trampled to death.
By morning, his body had disappeared, leaving only the rags he wore. A phone rang. The kettle boiled. You read this to me. I commented that I hated it. Everything about it.
You left.
The sky remained stubbornly sombre but that was exciting somehow. Better than mass hysteria, than making jam, than walks by the sea, than you and me.


The sky remained stubbornly sombre but that was exciting somehow. Better than mass hysteria, than making jam, than walks by the sea, than you and me

Offering, with Cartoon Rabbits Ears

Caught in the long grass, a few sticks wrapped in ribbon at your feet. The channel, as always, unfathomable…an orchestra accompanying the weight of the late afternoon…and looms, without the chirping, without the sounds of the festival, as a nameless monster, home to countless other, anonymous beasts. Drunk lines of smoke point away from here, high and away. Your toes dig in to the waterlogged hill; mud, the green, green grass is made of stoic stuff. Mash toenails into the cold, gritty sludge. One toe twitches, dumbly and for no obvious purpose. Useless.
They are propping up scaffold around nature. The tourists aren’t allowed to see the trees hug or the animals frolic. Partitions everywhere. And signs. Worthless signs.
‘Yes you.’ Reads one.
‘Again, just because.’ Reads another.
A bird of prey hovers above. It’s quite when you focus upon it, though the sea crashes below the cliff edge.
Cars shuffle themselves around upon the pier. The noise is like an overweight, prehistoric, animal; a cross between a wild dog, a bear and a hog slumbering amid the battle.
You untie the ribbon and throw it in the air with the sticks. For a second, you believe that it will be the ribbon that falls fastest. The air is quiet and boggy with distant activity. Ghosts of movement, conversation, promise and anticipation.
A rabbit’s ears poke above the grass, twenty or so meters away. You draw them in your expensive sketchbook. In the middle of drawing, you realise that the rabbit has disappeared. You rub out the drawing with a clod of  grass. Smears of mud and grit create a painting or sorts. And not a bad one either.
Later, you impose some cartoon rabbit ears using paint then marker pen.
The soup of the past few hours condenses into a druggy, thick pip in the centre of your skull. A small animal appears upon your window sill. It taps furiously with its furry paw on the double glazing. You point at it and laugh as it continues to pat the window, noiselessly.
The mobile beeps.
‘Ok. Fine.’ It reads.


8 minute countdown. Flames melting the draught excluder. A moth, dead-eyed, waiting for death. One wrong turn. It’s life snuffed out by a kitchen light. Potato and leek soup. Sleeping pills.

Late for work. Sacked. Walk the streets. Empty headed. Compose letter to landlord, ‘Due to unforeseen circumstances…’

The family will worry.

Pinch off a scab. Blow nose. Make a list of things to do. Know that something is missing. The moth stuck to the cheaply painted walls.

Open window. Conversations. Other, weird dinners. Presents from old lovers spill out of the cardboard box. One had a card tied with a red ribbon. Read the card. The card begins… ‘darling’.

Imagine. Darling.

Grasping Flame, as Ever

The blushed sky crept up without warning this morning. The river ran like it would never end. Like, in the blackness of space, it would still babble on, carrying its underwater carnival off to a cosmic vanishing point, where, who knows, all the reeds, swans and fish might be reborn as fireworks, astral music, birds of prey, songs of the spheres.
The dust sat snugly in the slithers of air in between the well-thumbed pages of a book once treasured, now forgotten.
Wind whistles through the open windows, smashing one shut, yanking one open. Rain hammers down. The music of phantom Taiko drummers surges through the walls of the room, reigniting the beat in the old, grey heart of the masonry. A jam session takes place between the invisible percussionists and the air pressure above this feral offspring of an island.
Half a cashew nut shell. Inside, the wing of an insect. Outside, light floods everything.
Imagine holding such a light. Every molecule in your soul, pulverized instantly. And the dog, the poor sod, would cover eyes with paws at the silent explosion, the pearl blue flash.
Soon, though, its stomach would squeal in harmony with its whining and it would clamber out of the rubble and look for food.  The only remaining evidence of life will be a burning photograph of a young man wearing a graduation costume. The frame is in flames and the day, now six hours and forty-nine minutes long, bides its time. Waits for the sound of traffic to die away. For the gentle trickling sound of the river to return before taking flight to the regions of space where old radio signals lay in heaps. Where rivers curl around bonfires.

Driftwood and Worm Food

A piece of driftwood glided past, hugged cheekily by the bastard, rushing river. The driftwood looked like a body with a chunk out of the trunk. Misplaced thoughts occurred: What had bit it? What had made the body a body?

Part the muck, Dr. Devon. Your patients patience is running thin.

A small piece of floating, black matter hung in the air. Swatting at it made it shape shift, like a tiny, black, break-dancing worm. And it made a noise like an electric current cackling in the silent afternoon air. I held a cigarette in between my teeth. I knew it couldn’t resist. The worm shifted into the shape of a star wars figure gun and shot an electric current at the tip. I puffed and the cig slowly began to smoke. I winked at the tiny bulging, flinching, black worm hanging there in mid-space…I laughed and winked before it assumed the shape of a pin and dived into my chest.

Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt.

Years later, I was married to a woman. She said I reminded her of her father. I should have seen it coming. In truth, I did. In truth, I was lonely. The thing in my chest threatened to kill me. It demanded I pack my bags. It demanded we run run, run.

This, I did.

But then…I ended up reminding myself of the self I was before the crash. And it was not my aura that gave away my identity, no, it was a purely surface recognition. In the end, my face gave me away.

And I saw them coming, rumbling across the horizon; 34 hungry, muscular clouds assumed the appearance of the only people to have half liked me. A sorry bunch. As one crashed through my window, my chest was split in two with pain. A fist made of storm air landed an uppercut. Shards of glass stuck in my eyes and between my toes.

The phone rang.

Answer machine: “Hello Sylvia. It’s Dad. Just ringing to see what the plan is for this weekend. Does Alfie need his bed? If so, I’ll book myself into a local hotel. Let me know. Okay, bye.”


My neck snapped. Another poltergeist. It ran rings around me. There were three of them, and they were all invisible.

I dialed for help: 9999999999999…

A voice, tinny, bore instructions in an alien language.

It seemed.

An owl hooted outside.

Someone used their toilet.

I lay upon the blood soggy carpet.

Yawned. Fell asleep.


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.