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.

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.
Terrifying.
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.

Springtime: Viewed from Space

His last 50p freed itself from his thumb and forefinger and hit the tarmac on its side, before cartwheeling into a storm drain. The drain smelled of old eggs. He laughed, poured the luke warm, soupy, sickly ale from its sticky jar into his guts and walked out of the beer garden, smashing his shoulder into the wall as he tried too hard to walk in a straight line.
An open top bus rumbled slowly past. It was filled with creatures dressed in pink. They screamed and cackled and he cackled back. Then he felt spots of spit land on his shoulders and head. Once, on the side of his cheek and in his eye. The spit smelled like wax and sugar.
The weather was black and white. Above the screen of nothing there was blue sky. How high did a person need to be to reach the fresh air, he thought…possibly aloud.
The sense that time’s bottleneck was fast approaching didn’t alarm him as it once had. He was not afraid, not sickened and had no regrets. Another bird splattered at his feet; a wing waving one last time.
Heavy bass boomed from the open windows of clubs.

*    *    *

In the park, he sat under a large tree. He was always bad at naming things. But this tree, this thing, was old. It was so old that it seemed to transcend the time in which it existed. Its limbs seemed as though they might move, all of a sudden, and scoop him up and devour him. This thought comforted him. Cans were jammed in the crevices, these he threw away as though cleaning house. Then, he settled into an accommodating nook cushioned with leaves and reached into his breast pocket.
He’d found a strip of pills in the library toilets, next to one of the sinks. He looked up their name in a book and found out that they were sleeping pills. The foil covering the pills was wrinkled and slightly damaged. And some of the pills showed through like bone from a severe wound. He pressed out two of the pills. Saved up saliva for a few moments and took them. They tasted sour.
Soon he began to feel drowsy. His brow softened and the world opened up like an orchid blooming. The soil released iridescent spectre’s from his past. His family, now long dead, shone in their once beautiful garden. They offered him something to eat and drink. “Sit here Russ,” his mother said.
And the bows of the tree moaned like a deserted battle-ship in a thick fog of cannon smoke.

Recipe for Soup II

The final hours, the complicated ones, those which corrode the sense of who we might be; who tell us who we are, for better or worse. Each tick of the clock sends shivers down the spine. And as they eyelids grow more and more heavy, the air thickens like a dense soup. One drop of which could knock a man out in seconds. Falling to the floor as though he were made of metal and the world was a tremendous magnet. Having the time to do what we want is a luxury. Having work to do, whether it’s sorting out paperwork, clearing a space for dinner or writing letters to people who have disappeared from view, is a necessity. The wine bottle was filled with dead flies. The clock counted the number of times he thought about her. Plans were made for the escape. The mind was set to the task. An open landscape, the sky a beautiful gradient of cerulean blue into salmon pink. An expansive desert with jagged rocks protruding in what look like deliberate patterns. And a swarm of spheres oscillating above them. The air resonates with a symphony dedicated to morning, noon and night. The sounds disappear when the mind is aware of them, then quickly they snap back once it treats them as a part of the great play. The sand is a brilliant white, made purple by the mixture of colours in the azure. The hours do not carve their certainty here. The mantle of knowledge has no place in the zone of emptiness. That it exists is uncertain. Though the mind is tired, it treads confidently upon the pulverized sand made of ancient sea shells. Small grains of sand, whipped up a faint breeze, a thought, a panic, fizz against the rough shafts of the rock. Tick, tock, tick, tock. The pan boils; as each bubble explodes, small droplets of the soup fall into the vortex. The pen nib snaps. Ink sprays across the page. The smell of old meat, fresh flowers and blind panic fill the nostrils. With the blunt end of the pen, pouring with oily, black liquid, he writes:

 

mouthwash – paracetamol – smoothie”

WE ARE YOUR FRENDS!

(Shocking day. Only three, drab colours outside: flesh tint – bauble – cadaver. Snuggle down on the knife edge…make yourself look presentable…think of her, he says to himself. Inhale the smoke, let it waft over the hole where the tooth used to be. Feel the deep sting. If it says 24 hours on the pamphlet, then 24 hours it is. This pain is normal. After all, they say so and they have qualifications.)

Gorgeous George lick his lips before diving into the pool of dreams. He frolics there until delirious. His dripping body brings down buildings. From the outer ionosphere, the planet is heard to crack. The kind of sound that seems to slice between the two halves of the brain. ‘Chocolate milk, chocolate milk, drink it all away with the chocolate milk.’ Then spend mystery currency on a neon whore. Rain the notes over her body. When she blinks, so does the light in the room. Small vehicles beep each other. The smell of the market is picking up. Men and women try on costumes. He stares down at himself: mostly charity shop clothes, mostly charity shop thoughts; platitudes that gouge out his soul. The light fabrics draped across the many, unknown surfaces begin to undulate in the breeze. Her tummy draws in as she takes a deep breath. The ribs emerge starkly beneath the neon. ‘Want me to close a window babe?’ She asks. ‘You’re the one whose cold…’ he says, putting out the cigarette on his hand. ‘Oh, god! Doesn’t that hurt?’ He folds more of the notes into paper aeroplanes and aims them between her legs. She lays there, bored, while he does this. Voices rise up from the street. ‘No, just leave it there.’ ‘Okay, yeah. But no more of the other ones, we can’t take them. It’s not up to me.’ ‘Ham and fries and pineapple smoothies, come one ladies, come on gents.’ ‘Just look it up in doodle…’ He wonders doesn’t it annoy her, all the empty babble. No, it doesn’t, she says. ‘Do you want to do it or not?’ she says. ‘We are doing it.’ he says. He says he doesn’t want to be alone. Funny, she says, funny how our desires can be so different. The is a mirror opposite him. The reds and oranges inside the room manage to make him look healthy. Though he sees that he has shaved badly. He reached into his pocket and gave her a few more of the bills. She looked up at him not knowing exactly what that meant. Then he walked out.

On his way down the grimy, black stairs he slipped a couple of times on something. Then he walked around the market. Young men and women were dressed as each other and were shrieking with delight. A young girl grabbed him, shouted a name. Then almost threw him away upon realising her mistake. Then she saw the money bulging from his pocket. ‘Only joking,’  she says.

The whore flew her jet pack in a beautiful evening dress. She watched below as they devoured the man and took his money. she laughed. Poor soul, she thought. And, still tingling from a night’s toil, sought the empty plains outside the city. The heliotrope hued sky clawed into the black rock beneath. A few dots moved at speed towards a vehicle. From the east, a mountainous simoom devoured the desert.

She was found weeks later. Her body leathern and twisted around devastated metal and splintered rock. Next to her was a large sign made of fibreboard.

‘WE ARE YOUR FRENDS!’ It said.

Side Effect III

Ash flickers across the street. A face forms in the particles. It wakes, suddenly, and takes in the world, as though for the first time.
The face could be described as:
A man in his early forties. His face is unsymmetrical. One side of his jaw protrudes more than the other side. His eyes, as far as you could tell were fairly straight. One, however, appeared to look beyond, where the other looked through. On the nose, near the tip, was a small, almost indistinguishable bump. The lips were full and moved as though to speak. The only sound created was that of dry leaves whipped up by cold wind.
Few witnessed the apparition. Their interpretations on what might have been said, or ‘mouthed’, varied, and included the following:
‘This is my future, not my past.’
‘Forget fear. The only fear is the last.’
‘I miss you. Where did you go?’
‘The water was still. It was.’
The ash fell to the ground. A radio switched itself on in a car. A few birds fell from the trees. Someone’s phone rang. And they walked away, gesturing with their hands.
A flurry of dandelion seeds caught the new light.
Then everyone went home.

Let it Rain, Let it Rain, Let it Rain

Cold arse rain. Deep in the chill factor, the blushed faced boy grins, not happy-like, into the whipping water. Summon the demons of the black time. Yeah, well, they say we’re the most depressed in the world. We, as though ‘we’ are all component parts of the same disaster. But I see some sad folks. Some screamed through megaphone fabrics and other let their faces sink into their skulls. You, news, you don’t fool me. What next: ‘Rain is Wet’? And will it make it seem more real, more wet, worse than before? It may.
But then only that you, Mr. News, told us what’s what and that’ll make it all the fouler. Like you’ve stamped something evil upon every drop. The people, well, who knows? And who can say and still maintain that they are a humble assemblage of limbs and wants and hopes. Whoops, the hope dream.
I’m going back out into the rain. And it will be a simple rain. Only weather. I won’t worry about what you’ll call it tomorrow, or in a few seconds time. And who wouldn’t want to fly away, above the heavy clouds, anyway what with your unending sermon of catastrophe. This hymn of disappointment may itself even be responsible for the congregation of clouds above the gray checked surface. But the people will take it; with a scowl, but they will take it. We will soldier on. And we need all the help we can get. But if we are miserable, let us be miserable. At least it’s pure, not tampered with. In my eyes, mixed with rain and tears (ecstatic tears, mind you) the world looks like a smeared fireworks display; crammed with the noises of controlled explosions; from larynx to ear drum; internal combustion to setting sun; the stratospheric cataract that bares no grudge. You’ll stick to your story. I know what’s what. And you know what?
I’ll stick with the rain.

Receiver

Real stars froze in lungs and his tooth went diddley doo. Change for the year, caught bumbling into the next. Exhausted and pathetic, notebook in had, your worst time of day, or year, in an era all set out like a rotten banquet. It’s knees muddied and newsprint stuck to its back it peers into the fiery pit and bites off part of half a twix. She watches it from her window and then has to vomit. She is in love. The sky splits open and thirteen hands, bourne upon carmine light, find her body and heal the black rock in her gut. She collapses into her chair and sighs. We don’t know, says the tee vee – once they leave us, we can’t keep track of them – we just hope for the best. And down the phone a crackly voice repeats the word love.

Thin Ice

Red slits for eyes and cold, painful teeth and no place to sit down and be quiet. The whole island stinks of evil. The islanders check their reflections in any and all reflective surfaces. Check bellies, fringes, backsides. Cars swerve to miss them as they fiddle with gadgets and prod their dainty do’s. And the Earth’s crust thins around the island. The dark lord rubs his talons together and waits for the main course. The laugh is truly disturbing. Nauseating.

He finds old letters and remembers when they were going to be together forever. Well, she said that; he never believed it. And deep down he knew that all she wanted was a man to tell her everything was all right. And as long as he ticked certain boxes he’d do. And she wasn’t alone. There were many like her. And he knew it. When it ended, it was more of a relief than anything. He could be himself again. Become a saint, a drunkard, a dog, an angel. Live on his own terms and not feel guilty. Not be reminded day after day that, despite all efforts to make this life bearable, it really all stank to high heaven of shit.

It’s the first few lines that get’s ’em, he remembered someone saying to him. Once. Ah, well, drop a few morsels on the way through the maze then. Oh, what else? Tendon kebabs, served on ice; drenched in petrol; sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, glued to your favourite jeans, which are glued to your skin. Seventeen and drunk in the park. Fireworks fizzing and popping through the streets. You could blind someone if you’re not careful. The taste of sick and cider and ashtrays. Wood chips at my feet and fat chips in my belly. Then she showed me her tits. 

June, Singapore. The air sang from outer space; curry for breakfast, the sounds of the tropical storms. It wouldn’t have been as good without the dinosaur birds. A swarm of them would have run the city. But, the damn bird brains just begged for scraps. Their little, orange legs dusted with pollution. And I saw black spots of old chewing gum stuck to the pavements more than once, so it’s not true what they say.

Now back. Backwards? Forwards at great speed just to go backwards? The speed of light bettered. The sun is already up. My brain is one step ahead. It knew what the last word of this sentence was some six seconds before ‘I’ realised it.

She rolled over and played with the tassles on my boxing shorts. They were white before the fight. Now pinkened by a mix of blood. It’s hard to say who won. I watched her watching her freshly painted nails. I rolled the ice around my mouth. My teeth began to hurt along with everything else.Then she looked up at me and smiled then looked back at the shorts. “Lightening…” she read from them. Then she giggled, sprang up off the bed and walked out. I spat an ice cube at the door after she’d shut it.

She says she loves me but she doesn’t love me.

Generic Regret – on – Sea

It was late and it didn’t feel late.

A faint glow lit up one side of the hill. Had ‘they’ landed? Was it just a bunch of drunks setting fire to things out of boredom? A sacrifice maybe? One wonders these things when the air is dead of sound and one has a mouth stuffed with dry bagel. A slight frown of concentration, toes wriggling inside trainers, a few spots of rain tapping the top of the skull. And what about the twinkling of the lights across the channel? Surely they weren’t really twinkling? An illusion of twinkle caused by every rain drop and particle between the source of the light and my eyes?

And why is it that cigarettes give me toothache?

No answers materialised.

Only questions, questions. No sooner had one faded to less than a flea fart in the grey matter when another stomped in, chest all puffed up and demanding my complete attention.

My hands shook for no reason. The past three hours had come and gone without any memory of their passing; like so many hours, lost in pointless, abstract thought.

Ha. Balls.

It seemed as though it could easily be early in the morning. But it wasn’t morning. If it were morning there would be things to do, places to go. Instead, stuck with that insufferable time of night (11:22, or 23:22), matters had become serious and in need of urgent attention. The whole world, all of a sudden, appeared on the brink of total collapse. Issues were simply not being discussed. Time was a-wasting where there was no time to waste.

The glow disappeared.

Standing in the cold and tapping trainers in puddles, it was as though time might freeze, the world become lost, unless one answer to one question was revealed.

Instead, I picked my nose.

My nails had grown at what seemed an unreasonable rate in just one week.

Why did that cat always stare at me?

And why did she have to say that she just wanted to be friends?