The radius of the skull, if placed in direct juxtaposition to that of the proportions of certain Byzantine heads, will reveal a shocking naivete with regards to the understanding of human anatomy. Indeed, the Mesopotamians knew more and lived almost a thousand years earlier. So much for Byzantine depiction. But, I suppose that’s what happens when one’s head is thrust snugly between the buttocks of ridiculous dogma. From its beginnings until the fall of Constantinople. If I raise my beer from this humble, rancid oak table, you can see the watery relief print, the echo of the bottom of the glass. See how it resembles a skull? See? Looking down at my watch, I can see that it’s 9:55 in Tokyo. And, if one were to measure the perimeter of the broken circle of beer on this table and match it with the globe; taking the left most point (that point representing where we are) and following around to the right, one would end up precisely in the city of Tokyo; in good, old Japan. This is the poetry of things. So, I began with the skull. I have taken your hand, lead you to to Sumer; to the Royal Tombs of Ur, and bought you a drink. You have watched me drink my drink, place the glass back to the table; where it rested, for a while, before I drank from it again. Yet, you seem confused by the mention of Japan. There is no remedy, I just wanted to show off my new watch. It talks, in Japanese. A language which I don’t understand, yet, if you listened to me for long enough, you may believe I had travelled there once, perhaps sometime in my youth.
Thames mud, calcification, my old blood, The Gunhouse pub. We never asked for direction in them days. One says. We just knew where we was. She was old, beautiful; tatty, reading the glossy, dirty, gossip rags.
A little river of bile flowed towards the shops, past the pub. There was another, surrounded in a swarm of singing wasps. He was batty as a stick of charcoal drawing a stick of charcoal with a stick of charcoal. He waved his hands, like a conductor, and smiled as he was bitten. They were his friends, he went on, until unable to form the words properly for bites.
Old love, silt and dirty legged birds. Windows exhibiting rotten, dried then rotten again curtains; browned and quartered. A small parking space. A shared place. Forgotten key. That was the weekend you took off your mask and the bugs crawled from your eyes and ears.
A book of birds, a scarred-up knee; the talking clock chittering like robo-wren. The ham on the boil. No bread. The corner, outside, waiting to be turned. An object thrown by one object at another object for some reason.
Tributes to the Thames.
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.
I sit here and realise that there won’t always be a time when I can. The breath in my body seems like a constant, though I know it isn’t. The air outside, my goodness, is there to breathe. And yet I sit indoors and think about the old times. I’m too young for this. The conversations pack my bags for me. The small touches of contentment send me into a spasm of unrest. The kettle boils and the windows steam up. If the phone never rings again, if my feet stay here in this muddy hole what can I say about life? From where do I relate my experience? From the classroom? Old loves? The bottom of a bottle? None of the latter owe anything and are in no debt. None can be leaned upon when it comes to your own pulse, the body you grow and its journey through the days and nights of panic. Blind screams into nowhere. Nightmares designed to send me over the top for good. What, I ask myself, lies beyond the top? What have we assumed, what will we continue to guess upon? You and I were never to be. You know it and so do I. We tear at each other desperately and yet we want something else. What we need the most is probably buried inside us. And all we need do is start digging. So I pass on the message you gave me and watch my own face glisten with tears. I wonder whether these dimly lit nights are the slow wind-down or the gasp before the plunge. It needn’t be dramatic at all. But while we are here, why not try something new? Pressure dictates that I read out the message, though my voice wavers. The fields are beaten by bad weather but this note will arrive safe. As a sentiment, it was not even written by me. My dear, follow the dreadful path back home.
Get a load of this. This is the right, perhaps wrong, way of remembering what it is that makes the heart pump, gulp, retch and fizzle through ages of wars and money and love and breakdowns. This right way is not simple, not straightforward and certainly not possible to put down on paper. You’ll never find this on a web-site, in the back of a magazine or stuck inside a phone box. The gong rings in the ears and you imagine yourself a different person. Awake, though not in the way you were before. Fields of vision expand and contract as the ideas whirr and the eyelids flop then, by some miracle, stay open again. This is high speed love. Trench warfare between you and what you thought was you. And the end result ought to combine the following: ripped clothing, marshmallows, a flower of some description, a piece of paper with the words ‘no hope, no fear’ written upon them and a pair of tan brogues. A pot of steaming hot tea is optional. You won’t find this written upon glossy, high colour pamphlets stuffed through your door as you sit on your couch and rock back and forth and ask why and all the while the TV is throwing out pointless nonsense designed to nullify your sense of reason. No, you won’t find it on TV either. I have nothing against TV. They make good fires. They don’t, however, make goodness. Books hold up one end of the bed, though the other is supported by a team of mice chanting high pitched slogans. Enjoy the riverside swell, the rubber ducks sent by Vishnu with a message ‘I love you.’ Enjoy the light show of colour bouncing off her perfect eyes. The lens capture of chemicals; memories fixed in perfume and laughter. Push away the sandpaper attitude, follow the heart, tip the messenger. If my car works tomorrow, it will be treated to a wash. My famous uncle says that I am going places. In the swimming pools of sacked nations, small monkeys frolic filled with fermented fruits.
The place to go is Reading. Failing that, steal a shuttle and set a course for Neptune, the music is marvelous there.
Hula hula. Sound the horn. Chaser lights in gravy. Tweed suits and serious issues. Young animals with death in their bellies. The attic creaks with secrets. Two people, far apart, think of a world without each other. Harmonica’s dangle from the rear view mirror. Speculation on coming catastrophe’s. Lightening left-right combinations. How to knock a person out from across the room. Drowning in fizzy piss and tears. Writing poetry in blood. A scarecrow cackling at your prostrate form, fingers clawing the wet mud, rain washing everything but the memory into the crop. Soon, sprouting misery, a last hurrah, celebration of the cheap-shot. Scratch your name into a beautiful wooden table top, you wimp. The building hums with spirits of all shapes and persuasions. Hymns ring out for the lost, the dead and the dying. We trundle on through piercing rain in the general direction of hell. Once, I dreamed of drinking a vase of wine. When I came to, the sheets were sodden and I vomited into the toilet. Floating in the acidic mess were pasta shapes spelling the name of a hard forgotten lover. Seventeen dictaphones placed in strategic positions record the comings and goings of this naked ape. This spasm of flesh and nerves. A trail of sonic evidence that this person did something ritualistic, perhaps obsessive, in this location, at this time and on their own. There were a second set of footsteps recorded however. These were more graceful, less easy to pick up at first listening. In lipstick, the words seemed slashing; red, violent and despairing. Deep in the pigment, there was suspended a memory of him. Though no fine tuned detection would or could pick up the subtlety of the trace. A thin cord attached them but for how long, who knew. It seemed as though it might break at any time.
Wait, what’s this; a new sun? No. Someone with their headlights on full beam while I try to sleep. On the boards, under the sea, halfway between you, halfway between me.
Pacing back and forth in the grey car park. Hands shaking for an unknown reason. Smoking, thinking, ‘why smoke?’. Small birds screaming in the bushes; each fighting to be heard. And it’s as though it’s too much to listen to. Some say that the sound of the bird is one of life affirming wonder; though pacing that cold, steel grey car park they wanted to shut up if I’d had an old blunderbuss to hand; one filled with rusty nuts and bolts. The whole world, in fact, in that moment would have done well to simply quieten down and leave noise alone for a second, minute, hour or day. A week would be wonderful. So that’s the reason for me hanging around the shooting range without ear protection. For an hour or so of torture, you get a good day or so of peace. To not hear or understand what someone is saying, to be deaf to the radio blaring its offensive, commercialised hell sounds, to be unaware of the scream of an unlucky rabbit as it’s crushed by a fat car filled with fatter idiots; all of these are a source of relief and, without meaning to exaggerate, salvation. The music is all in my head. Selecting precisely what to listen to is not a chore, in fact, it happens automatically, without prompt.
In dreams, sound is suggested, a memory – not real.