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May 13, 2010

Nonsens–etry

An experiment in Williams' variable foot - the format is key:

lemon-tree.docx


January 24, 2010

Hibernation

Emerging

There was a small sound, the slow creaking of sepals bearing outwards, and for the first time in twenty-six years, The Botanist had created a master-piece. He moved away from the plant in order to sigh without ruffling its downy leaves. The heavy bud, so easily bruised, hung world-weary on an equally delicate stem. The Botanist took a moment to admire the colours streaking down its side, the deepest of purples, the richest of reds, and he noted that it finally looked as he had always seen it. Unbearably alive, veins wrapped around and within, showing all the pulsing elegance of something living.

As the oldest thing in the Greenhouse – with the possible exception of The Botanist – the flower commanded a kind of respect. It could not be said to be any wiser than its brothers and sisters, nor that it had any thoughts at all, save for an air of self-satisfaction; a life well-lived. Wiping at the shadows beneath his eyes, The Botanist considered his creation. Hundreds of hours of painstaking hybridisation, countless trials ending in nothing but a withered twisted mess. And even after he understood its needs, its dependence on illegal nutrients (only available in Thailand), its unpredictable – almost unreasonable feeding schedule, he still hadn’t thought of a name. He wouldn’t until he saw that glorious bud unfold, and the blossom that lay untouched within.

If he was honest with himself, The Botanist was more than a little dismayed by how long the project had taken. A twelve-year flowering cycle was almost unheard of this side of the equator and almost unbearable to anticipate. He moved to his darling’s side and peered down into the shoot, trying to catch a glimpse of the swirling colours he imagined were dancing inside. Nothing if not patient, he nodded to himself and shut off the heat lamp. Its progress had always been slow, but in these crucial final days The Botanist found the plant’s hesitance irritating, like a child who refuses to accept that it’s been in the womb long enough, and its damn well time to be born already.

The weeks crawled by and The Botanist found himself continually surprised by what lay inside. There was the day he had walked into his workshop (on the very edge of the Greenhouse) and been struck by the very sweetest of scents, instantly transporting him back to the blue mountains where he had first found the elusive Kunthiana plant.

There was the night where he lay asleep at his desk, waking only to the faintest springing sound as the flower revealed tiny feathery petals, smooth as silk, drooping back into the larger bud, but finally unbound. And there was the morning when it gave a soft sigh and finished unfolding in a rush, eager to be seen by all. At least, that’s what The Botanist assumed it felt, when he entered the Greenhouse to see it at last, in all its naked majesty. He muttered sweet-nothings and crooned at not being there for its emergence into the world.

The Botanist knew it would not last, that having reached its potential the flower would eventually dry and crumble away. And he felt that it knew it too, dew-drops weeping out the corner of its eyes – the remarkable purple-black splotches that stared after him with such affection. Putting aside his feelings, The Botanist did his best to make sure the soil was kept fresh and moist, the leaves left polished and free of bugs.

He did his best not to cry when the first leaf fell. The pale lavender-green had browned; the downy hairs were dry and broke off in his hand, a glittering reminder of what had been. After, he left them where they fell, only sweeping them away when a bare few remained, faithfully clinging, oblivious of their fate.

On the twenty-fifth day of their time together, the flower itself began to wilt; the feathery wisps of violet becoming brittle and unmoving, curling down into the heart of the flower where it was still wet. The Botanist knew he shouldn’t grieve, that in time, with a little encouragement he might grow another. That it would all come rushing back. Hell, maybe he would love the next one just as much as the flower that lay sprawled before him now. But he couldn’t imagine it, and didn’t want to.

**

The china made a clinking sound as it came to rest on the coaster. Steam rose from the cup and a pleasant fragrance filled the air, unlike anything she had smelled before. Blueberries? No, it was more exotic, a vital aroma that clung to her taste-buds and filled her with longing. She couldn’t place it and looked up at her husband, questioningly.

He didn’t meet her eye, instead throwing a thin smile in her direction, saying nothing as she gulped the tea. Never savouring it. Never really understanding it.

“You’ve never made this before” She whispered, gazing up at him from her cup.

“It wasn’t ready.”

“And you made it for me? Just for me?”

“Of course darling,” He said, keeping his eyes lowered, a lump in his throat. “Of course I did.”


January 11, 2010

Syanuro

Poem about cyanide fishing in the Philippines. In imitation of Ted Hughes, the scumbag.

Syanuro

Her shadow fell upon the reef. Drifting

Deep, into the cold. Dragged down the long

Smooth net to lie,

                         Asleep, among the fishes.

                             --

The seaweed hides the toxic flecks, aglitter

In the moon-lit night. The diver rests upon

The rock to check her gauge and slow her breath.

                             --

She tells herself it will be quick.

                             --

No screams to claw at her young soul.

                             --

She tells herself to set the snare,

And draw them from their silent home.

                             --

Their bodies gleam upon the shore.

Their gliding oils coat her hands.

She strips them of their sheathes of skin,

                                                               And draws a line from head to fin.

                              --

A swell is formed, of stacks and bones

Sharp-cut-spines gouged from their flesh.

Their eyes are split before the end, piled high,

                                                                        In record time.

                               --

She chokes and sputters on her tears

She wipes her knife on bloody rags.

Her cuts and stings are cleaned in salt,

                                                            And left to dry.

                               --

She throws a match upon the heap

And warms her heart, next to the blaze.


November 07, 2009

Reprise

The last of my Insanity Series. I think I shall write about normal people now.

Wreak

Yossarian Petragello was a charmless man, the sort of hideous creature you hide your smallest children from. Reeking of stale smoke and bitter spirits the man fell short at three foot three. A hacking cough accompanying a quivering frame. His enemies didn’t see him as a threat. Often they barely knew he was there. And when they finally took his measure, they saw only an invalid; sunken eyes and yellowed teeth.

His mother (God rest her soul), died in childbirth, leaving the squealing infant all alone; afterbirth in the gutter. The growing boy refused all comforts; a healthy home, heart and hearth. The isolation, harmless at first, began to have an impact. A fondness for ill-fitting clothes emerged, a series of facial tics and a variety of mental conditions grown to order. Ranging from common bulimia to full-fledged schizophrenia. Little wonder, then, the origins of the nickname Petty. Designed to dig at an already broken man.

Most days Yossarian woke to the faint sound of beetles skittering across the hard floor of the motel. A motel he’d been a resident at for the past twelve years. The landlord had long since tired of treating this customer with respect, his good humour replaced with a dulled sense of superiority. Yossarian was sick of seeing this look in people’s eyes; those he regarded as friends, he gazed up at and saw only pity, pressing him further into the ground.

It came to him, as all great ideas did, at three am, in a drunken stupor. In a desperate attempt to preserve the memory he staggered around the tiny room in search of a pen, before ultimately collapsing in a tangle of filthy sheets and bedclothes. This time Yossarian woke not to the subtle scratching of his tiny friends, but to a burning in his skin. Crudely cut into his arm were the words Plastic Sugary. It was not as if this was the first time he had considered such an alternative, his teenage years being filled with dreams of beauty and self-worth. It wouldn’t make him taller though. It wouldn’t bring him respect. He rose to use the bathroom and stumbled as the fire spread to his foot, falling to the floor. From his somewhat bleary perspective Yossarian could make out the single word etched into his heel. Korea.

The idea had almost no merit in the end. Bone lengthening surgery was hardly cheap and its legality outside Asia was questionable. Still, the thought stuck with him. Even being a couple inches taller would be an improvement. He could pass for a short man, no longer humiliated as a dwarf or midget; a lesser part of society. Dignified. Respectable.

Yossarian didn’t think of himself as ‘an alcoholic’, he saw drinking as a remedy. A way to silence the mutterings of his mind. So when they made a greater effort to be heard he quietened them just as forcefully. As his head began to droop he repositioned himself on the bed, his legs deadweight against the sagging mattress. The scotch had left in its wake a kind of numbness, and he gave a lazy smile, content with his plan. Reaching into the paper bag on his left, he pulled out a hacksaw, its teeth dimly glinting in the dying light of day. “God’s anaesthetic” he muttered, taking a last bitter swig. To his credit, throughout the ordeal Yossarian didn’t scream, didn’t call out for help, not even in the face of unconsciousness.

Yossarian woke once more to the dull skittering sound and gave a small chuckle, looking blearily around. A man in a white coat stood over him, pen scratching on a clipboard.

“Mister Petragello? I’m Doctor Michaels, would you mind explaining why you tried to saw through your legs?” Yossarian squeezed his eyes open and shut but the scene remained where it was. Reality had never been so white, everything was so unbearably white.

“Did you hear me?” asked the doctor. Yossarian squirmed against unseen restraints, wondering if the man above could be trusted, a figure superior if ever there was one. He questioned whether to tell this man of his plan; to saw through the bones himself; after all, he’d seen medical shows, he knew the procedure. Why should he be denied happiness? However he said nothing, glaring at the man with the clipboard, daring him to make a snide remark. Yossarian no longer cared, he would be tall soon, the cuts already made – through to the bone. Millimetres of bone tissue would already be venturing across the great divide, making him stronger, bolder, more confident –

Yes, a charmless man, the sort of hideous creature you hide your smallest children from. Reeking of stale smoke and bitter spirits, bound to a chair; both legs removed but for an infection of the soul.


March 29, 2009

Popular demand

After receiving literally thousands of requests I've decided to post the other half of my fiction portfolio.

Reprise

The man shuffled closer to the door – peering in the failing light – and stopped, uncertain of how to proceed. He supposed he ought to feel a sense of achievement, having finally found the home of his love. His face crumpled, fighting the urge to return to its usual sneer and re-formed in the image of a cruel smirk. The woman, his dear sweet Lisa, came to the window and looked out over his head to watch the retreating sunlight. Her lips parted and she gently exhaled, her breath misting the glass and obscuring his view of her. A pair of arms appeared from nowhere and draped themselves around her shoulders.

Turning to look up at her partner’s grinning face, the woman leaned back against him, content, her lids slowly closing. The man in the house looked down at the figure in the street, at his unremarkable clothes and even less remarkable face and frowned. The figure reminded him of someone, though he couldn’t recall who. He considered rousing the sighing woman in his arms, but thought better of it; it was unlikely anyone she knew. There was a reason they’d chosen such a sleepy city to hide in; a reason why she thought him paranoid. Or ‘Overly-Cautious’ as she had affectionately dubbed it.

The man on the street turned away from the door, clenching his fists and trying to hold back the tremors beginning to rock his body; such was his fury. The idea of another man holding her, touching her, loving her...it was almost too much to bear. This must be a form of impotence the man thought, and he found control in this realisation; the vibrations ceasing. He considered climbing the stairs to that wretched peeling door and kicking it in but thought better of it, he’d seen the man at the window and didn’t like his odds. Perhaps it was better to just leave her in her new life and take solace from the fact that she was happy, even if he was miserable.

***

  The man slumped against the door causing it to click gently shut behind him. The wood was cool against his cheek and gave him back some lost clarity. The room was still spinning but he thought it possible to make it to the bathroom now. Collapsing to the floor he crawled in a lightly weaving pattern, head sagging, the carpet consuming the entirety of his vision. He gasped as the freezing cold of tile replaced the comforting warmth of the thick hotel carpet. Staggering to his feet and using the sink to support himself he stood upright and eyed his reflection blearily in the mirror. He stank of alcohol and felt the punishment in his gut; striving to make itself heard.

***

  Several hours later he woke to find his head in the toilet, the seat smeared with sick, the smell making him gag. He stumbled to the bed in the centre of the tiny room and lowered himself onto it with all the grace of a dying swan. He curled into a ball on top of the covers and cried himself to sleep.

***

  The man shuffled closer to the door, his migraine fading into insignificance. He eased himself onto the bottom step and waited for the sun to rise. He felt in his thickening stubble and found something wet, he put his fingers to his nostrils and then wrinkled them. Strangely, the man didn’t think anything of his filthy, dishevelled appearance, he wasn’t here to win her back, he had never had her in the first place. Noting the first lazy ray of sunlight creeping over the horizon he stood, gathering his courage. The stairs seemed steeper then they should’ve been and every step was an effort, the last almost bringing him to his knees. He leaned against the wall and caught his breath, staring up at the brass knocker, thinking it fitting that such an object should bring him back into her life. He took a hold of it and relished in the chill of metal against his burning skin before bringing it crashing down. After a while; the man couldn’t have said how long, the woman came to the door.

Lisa. His sister.


March 03, 2009

Blame

Not happy with how this turned out.

Blame

A sweet young girl, thought pure, but shy

Perhaps unwilling to share her heart.

Timid with a smile that made him cry

Eager, it seemed, to play her part.

Their tale one of constant woe

Their torments clear right from the start.

The boy was drawn to that inner glow

It made him pause – he felt complete

Heart fluttering as it brought him low.

It came to nothing but defeat

The boy turned man was broken down

Found and beaten by girl so sweet.

And now he staggers, his spirit shot

Both children lost, since she forgot.


February 16, 2009

Docile

One of the short stories I included in the fiction pack. It's pretty twisted, I'm warning you upfront.

Docile

“She might say no; don’t you worry about that sort of thing?”

“Why would she say no?”

“I don’t know. She might though. What would you do?”

“Why would she say no?”

“I said I don’t know! This is theoretical, rhetorical, whatever. What if she says no?”

“She won’t say no.”

“Yes. I know it’s unlikely, but if she does –”

“– What are you doing? Are you trying to make me nervous?”

“Never mind.”

“I’m happy, why are you trying to ruin this for me?”

“Never mind.”

“That’s right.”

“I am happy for you.”

“Good. Me too.”

***

The woman (or girl to be more precise; as she was barely sixteen) stretched out on the sand and slitted her eyes, searching for a single cloud in the open reach of sky above. Smiling at her failure she angled herself so that she might soak up every last ray the sun was offering on this faultless day.

          Waking from an all too shallow dream the girl was surprised to find a man standing beside her. His clothes were unbefitting of the typical holiday-maker; somewhat overdressed in an impeccable grey silk suit. She gave a nervous little laugh as the man – who was more elderly than her first cursory glance had suggested – folded onto one knee and rummaged in his pocket, a foolish grin on his face. A small velvet ring box appeared resting in his palm and he looked up at her as he opened it, oblivious of her horrified reaction. His meticulously rehearsed speech went unheard as the girl got to her knees and half-ran half-scuttled away around the side the sand dune.

          The man was puzzled and thought to follow his intended, before realising she had left all her things in front of him. Surely she would return, and she would find him waiting for her, just as a loyal husband should. Satisfied, the old man unbent his creaking knee and stood, blissfully happy, blissfully unaware of the shrieking girl in the distance.

***

“What did she say?”

“She said yes. Of course.”

“That’s wonderful! What did she say? Was she surprised?”

“Yes, I’d say surprised. And she didn’t really say anything, but the sentiment was definitely there.”

“That’s – wait, you mean she was overcome by emotion? Couldn’t speak?”

“No – she ran off to tell her mother, or ask her father, I think.”

“Well, how did she look when you asked her?”

“Overcome.”

“With joy?”

“What else?”

“Let me see the box.”

“What?”

“The ring box. Let me see it!”

“Alright, shush, this a happy occasion.”

“Dammit Abbott! The ring is still in here.”

“I know.”

“Well if she’d accepted your proposal don’t you think she would’ve put it on?”

“No...She was happy. She went to tell her family. She was overcome.”

“Abbott, look at me. Hey! Look at me.”

“What?”

“I don’t think this girl agreed to marry you.”

“That’s ridiculous. I proposed to her.”

“Yes. I know, however, it just doesn’t sound like she and you are in the same place. Emotionally.”

“Oh.”

“Look, how long have you known her?”

“How long have I known her, or how long have we known each other?”

“The second one.”

“Well. She met me today, but I’ve always felt a connection with her. Ever since she was a little girl.”

“You – met her today?”

“Yes.”

“Why didn’t you ask her out or something before proposing to her?”

“On a date?”

“Yes.”

“She might’ve said no.”

***

The girl walked slowly home, the events at the beach almost forgotten but for the absence of the towel under her arm. She had cautiously crept back to her sunbathing spot later that day to retrieve her possessions and was appalled to find the old man standing there, watching the spot where she had departed and grinning inanely. She felt the cold more acutely than she should and began to walk faster; passing an old oak tree on her left where a well dressed man sat; talking to himself.


November 11, 2008

Sleepless

An untitled pantoum. I think I put it in my portfolio. I think. Everything from those hours seems like a blur of coffee and hysterical laughter. A disturbing time.

Pantoum

I stumble, diseased and twice distressed

A desperate need to feel

Alone, my voice released, undressed,

I'm fumbling in the black.

                 -----

A desperate need to feel

Alive, my hands numb and burning

I'm fumbling in the black

Always falling, twisting, yearning.

                 -----

Alive, my hands numb and burning

Hot through cold with tinny wails

Always falling, twisting, yearning

And all through it my face pales.

                 -----

Hot through cold with tinny wails

And all through it my face pales

Sallow beneath the traitor's plight

Our star prevails, our shining night.


October 29, 2008

As it Became

As it Became

As a scored silver bulb

Proud and Pitted

Run through with cracks

All traumas depleted

More chaste than chilled.

Still, and yet somehow smooth –

        -----

As a sapling, leaking white

Secreting its alabaster tears.

Sepulchral in its frailty

Damaged and damned.

Weeping, and yet somehow futile –

Willingly abandoned to the blaze

Flaccid and somehow wasted –

                    -----

As the browning straw

As the wilting grass

As the frothing suffocating river

Flowing fetid,

Stagnant and sluggish.

And yet somehow clear –

                   -----

As the soot-black plumes

Fraught with filth,

Wings snapped back

Content with contempt

That gloating gaze

Eyes cruel and calid

Set deep, surveying all

Relishing the remains.

                  -----

Why doesn’t she stop?

Legs buckled beneath her,

Feet splayed out, unnatural

Reaping the repellent

Straining to succeed

Never stopping.

And yet –

Why should she?


October 21, 2008

A Dash of Pretention

A few poems I've written since coming to Warwick. True, they all tell some kind of story but there isn't much in the way of deeper meaning. I'll work on that. Please tell me what you think.

Winter Ashes

Embers of a fiery passion,

Extinguished by the cold of her eyes,

A look from those orbs leaves him ashen,

Feeding his mind with sweet lies.

Intent

A change,

The air seems different; fluid,

A delight to float upon.

A change,

The clouds quiver; nervous,

A roiling tempest swells.

A change,

The heavens darken; waiting,

A torrent bides its time.

One last change,

The storm unleashed; screams,

The world is layed to rest.

Tasteless

There is nothing.

Now I look to my right.

There is nothing.

Onwards then, trudging into the distance.

Night falls,

It makes no difference.

Sun rises,

There is nothing.

I come across a lake.

A body, bloated, afloat.

A full meal. For once.

Bile amidst the mud.

Sour Dust

Sunlight on a forgotten box,

Undisturbed for years.

A man climbs up, afraid, alone.

To put aside his fears.

He breathes in deep,

He tastes the air,

His asthma waits,

Dust in his hair.

A rodent stirs.

The dust-clouds rise.

The man observes,

Says his good-byes.


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  • I think this might be my favourite thing of yours. I love the name "The Botanist" and the characteri… by on this entry
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