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July 31, 2011
She told me that she had a dream I was dying. Dying in a pool of blood, she said. In a field of torn bodies, she said. In war, she said. And she said that it felt as if she was giving birth to me, although when I died it was as if every millimeter of her body ached with a pain that crushed her rather than set her free. She told me and I said that it was just a dream and that I wasn’t going to die, that there was no war on and in any case if there was I wouldn’t join the army because I wasn’t patriotic and didn’t want to die for anyone who asked me to fight for a country I don’t believe in. But she told me she had seen the wounds in my flesh, had felt the short inhales of breath I gasped at; choking on blood. She had seen my eyes stop seeing the world and had ached as my lungs tore themselves apart inside me. I said I had to go to work.
And I finished school and took up the full time job Mister Solomon offered me as a joiner. And each day on my way to work I would walk beside the field where the gypsies camped and the gypsy horses grazed and in summer the wild flowers came alive with insects which hovered sweetly in the air. I would return home in the evening and cut the potatoes and carrots from our garden and my mother would prepare the rest of the food and we would sit together at the wooden table side by side and look out of the window past our little garden to the graveyard where my father was buried. I would wait till she had finished her food and begin to clear the plates and cutlery away and she would tell me she had dreamt that I had died again and I would tell her that I had not died and she would not say another word as I washed what needed to be cleaned and left to have a drink with Rory at the ‘Arms.
Then one day she wouldn’t help me prepare the meal, and wouldn’t accept the food I put out in front of her. She said nothing. She looked at her food and at nothing else and I tired of waiting for her to start and ate my own and asked her why she would say nothing and not eat. And she started to cry. She didn’t make any noise and she only wept two crystal tears which clung to her cheek and froze there. And so I stood and went across to her and put my hands on her shoulders and kissed the top of her head and suddenly she gasped outward and moaned terribly and she shuddered in my arms and she begged me to leave her, she said that she couldn’t see me because I had died and she asked me to leave her alone and she asked me not to stay with her because she couldn’t see me because I was dead. So I left to join Rory at the pub.
As autumn began to course through the trees, I began walking through the graveyard rather than beside the field which the gypsies had camped in. The moment they left the field I began to feel a coldness on the inside of my stomach if I walked my old route. The grass beside the path appeared grey and the individual blades seemed to lose their clarity and definition as they became diluted with an unknown poison. The field enclosed the path in a sphere of muted ambience. And if the wind were to attempt to permeate this sphere it would transform into the sound of the gypsy horses.
The graveyard held in it’s confines the lost limbs and names of ten generations of people from the village. Though the church had been destroyed a century ago no new one had been built, and burial ceremonies were taken by Mister Thompson, as he was the only person in the village to have ever read the holy book. Only people born in the village were buried here. There had once been a traveller who came from the East who had taken up residence here in the generation before mine. He had died one night in a storm. The oak which had grown in his garden had blown over into his house and had crushed him in his bed. The villagers would not bury him in the graveyard and would not touch his corpse so they heaped tonnes of earth over his house; creating the tumulus which now stands on the outskirts of the village.
I never stray from the central path in the graveyard. I never see my father’s grave. His name hangs on my breath yet lacks the substance to form itself around my lips and tongue into sound. The large crypts and celtic crosses which line the central avenue emit a warmth which smothers the flesh and comforts it. As I leave the graveyard I carry the warmth home and back to my house where I find my mother standing on the landing looking out through the upstair’s window. She stands motionless and says nothing as the wind brushes the long grass creating waves which float through the fields as if waves on a calm sea.
One morning before sunrise my mother began to scream. Her voice broke the particles of my bones. She screamed throughout day and night for two days. Our corner of the street was avoided totally and people began to mutter that my mother was cursed. Their muttering and whispering filled the village and shook the branches of the trees with their weight. Birds stopped flying over the village. The pigeons which belonged to Mister Carr flew away and never returned. The farmer’s two sheepdogs were found beside the river in the forest; dead, as if frozen by an inner turmoil. My mother stood in her room screaming at the same pitch as I stood beside her, holding her shoulders and trying to soothe her with my voice, letting the shadow of my breath warm her ear.
After she stopped screaming she became silent. I returned to work. She took to dead-bolting the front door so I would have to nip in through the back garden and squeeze myself through the kitchen window which I could prize open using a thin stick. I began to notice Susan Ellis in the house next to ours watching me break into my house from her bedroom window and I would smile at her and she would blush and flash a perfect set of teeth between her subtle lips.
During the winter, our work became in demand and I would head home in the dark with a handheld lantern through the streets of the village as I made my way to the graveyard. One night I was stopped beside the coach house by Miss Karla whose husband had left for America and died on the journey over there and who dressed in clothes from the city and had sold her wedding ring when she heard her husband had died. She asked me to help fix her door so that it would close. She showed me to her house and as I stood on a small stool to fix the joinery of her door she put a hand on my hip and I looked into her eyes and saw.
I walked home that night stepping quickly over the cobbles with the stink of it still on me. I jumped into the kitchen and into my mother’s room and I felt it on my breath. My mother stood and shouted that I was dead again and I said I wasn’t dead mother I was alive and she screamed and said that blood was pouring out of my mouth and my teeth were loosening in my gums as they decayed and she could see the death rising beneath my eyeballs and my skin was tightening and there was blood on my clothes and my hand was gripping to a hand which had left me.
She paced across to me and she spat in my eye and I struck her across the cheek with my hand and she gasped as she fell to the floorboards and a thin film of blood formed on her flesh where the coarseness of my hand had cut her face. She put a fingertip to her cheek and she tasted the blood and looked at me and I told her to see, that that was what real blood tasted like.
I went straight to the graveyard and began to look for my father’s grave. The warmth from the graves lingered over me, draped across my shoulders. I inspected each grave and could not find my father’s. I wasn’t sure if this was because he wasn’t buried here or because I couldn’t remember what his name was. I propped my lantern against a celtic cross and sat down beside it, crossing my legs. It began to snow. Each snowflake settled securely on the limestone. I opened my mouth and let snow fill in the space between my tongue and gums. The back of my neck was warm. I looked to the sky and the stars weren’t there.
So my father wasn’t buried in the graveyard. Or his name had finally left my memory completely. The last strands of it had been severed from my mind, cut out from my vocabulary and thoughts. My mother was found one day walking through the wood, almost naked. Mister Thompson said she had seen the devil. I took a few days off work and spoon fed her watery soup as she lay in bed. Once, she started at the touch of the liquid to her lips and looked at me, I smiled at her, but she closed her eyes and began to cry.
Rory began to go out with Eileen Jones. She used to sit with us at the pub as we talked beside the fire place. She would listen to us carefully, not saying anything that would jeopardize her relationship with Rory, for Rory was inclined to go cool on her if he thought she was trying the undermine him in front of me. One evening before spring, she told us she heard war was coming. Rory said that he would fight, that he wasn’t afraid to die, that he was ready to kill another human being. I said that he wasn’t old enough to fight anyway, he said that he would be by the time war came - if it was coming at all - and that we should fight together as brothers on the battlefield. We shook hands and laughed and he bought us two more drinks.
Three nights before my eighteenth birthday my mother slipped into a thirty-six hour sleep. When she woke she saw me and asked her to fetch her some food and a drink of water. She smiled as I came back with what she asked and she touched the side of my face. She told me that she had dreamt about the day she had given birth to me. How I had cried so loudly the doctor had left the room, but how I had stopped the moment my mother had stroked my cheek with the back of her finger. She tells me that she loves me and I return the phrase. I look out of the window and watch a bird fly down and land in the bird bath in our garden.
The summer heat brings the insects back to the field flowers. The grass grows strong and defined, but the gypsies never return. On the evening of my birthday I walk with Susan Ellis into the field and we lie down, hidden by the grass. She feels small in my arms and her breath is soft. It is the longest day of the year, yet the sun doesn’t seem to set at all. In the morning we wake and stay together in the grass, she asks if I will go to war with Rory, I say that I will stay with her and she grips my hand.
The next weekend my papers arrive. I burn them in the fire. Mister Thompson calls round and asks to see my mother. He stays in her room with the door locked for several hours. When he leaves he bumps into me on the landing and pushes something into his pocket hurriedly. He says that the devil is still with my mother. I go into the room after he has left the house and she is crying dry tears. She says she can see the blood on my clothes, and that she saw me in the field. She says that she cannot feel me anymore. She says that she has given birth to a ghost.
A man comes and tells me that if I don’t report to the barracks with him now he will arrest me and I will be shot. I ask if I can say goodbye to Susan and he says yes, I can. I knock on her door but she doesn’t answer and the man tells me that he doesn’t have the time, that I have to come with him now. At the barracks I see Rory getting into the back of a troop transport lorry. He smiles and waves at me. I salute him as he disappears through the gate of the barracks.
On the third day of basic the man who sleeps in the bed next to mine loses his fingers when his rifle misfires. I look at him and see him counting time in his head silently as he stares at the blood and covering his mutilated hand. As he reaches thirty seconds he opens his mouth and the terror grips him and he falls on his back and flails and writhes on the floor and has to be restrained by two others. But they hold his chest too tight and they don’t realise he’s having an asthma attack and he dies there, in the training field. And I lay awake that night looking at the shrouded ceiling and see nothing and everything as the memory of what stars look like tethers itself around a part of my brain I had forgotten existed and I remember the look on my father’s face as he sat me on top of the gypsy horse and dappled sunlight comforts my eyes.
As I take my first post as night watchman I read the letter I had been given in the morning. It is from Rory, he tells me that he is well and has been promoted to sergeant. He says he wishes we were fighting side by side and that when we get some leave he will buy me a pint. He asks if I have heard any news from the village. I fold the letter and put it into my chest pocket next to my cigarettes. My breath rises in front of my eyes and as I rub my hands together someone arrives and tells me my shift is over.
We destroyed ourselves with machines. Tore our bodies apart with cruel manufactured metals. The fields are ravaged and beaten, and forests are uprooted. They say that we are fighting against evil. They shot MacInnes when he said this was more pointless than the Great War. A young boy’s dead face looks up at me from a hole in the ground. His face is a distant memory. The field is full of nameless dead who will not be buried. I look out across hell as the sun begins to rise and I think of my father.
March 24, 2011
Joke. Or is it?
A Scot, a Welshman and and 'Irish' man walk into a bar and order some drinks. A few moments later the Englishman arrives.
As much as they'd like to get rid of him he can't get rid of his imperialist tendencies.
They start having an argument and the barman tells them to chill out. He is large, doesn't really speak correct English, is in the middle of eating a huge oily sandwich and is American.
The guys at the bar shut the fuck up.
In one corner of the bar, thirty or so Chinese folk are living their lives to the full. Everyone else in the bar is a little bit scared of how many of them there are so they ignore them and let one Chinese man exert a cruel dictatorial rule over the rest of his friends.
Meanwhile, in another part of the bar (it's a pretty big bar), an Iraqi is hitting his Kuwaiti friend over the head with a spoon. The guys at the bar and the barman have access to knives and forks so they decide to sort that shit out. Just to be on the safe side they decide to call in some help. They ring their Canadian friend by accident but feel too mean to tell him after he sounded so excited on the phone so let him come along for the ride. They also ring their French mate cos they know he's always up for a bit of an argument.
On the other side of the street an Italian man smokes a cigarette in the sun and eats a delicious meal with his beautiful wife.
February 01, 2011
Love, Love Will Tear Us Apart, Again.
Her eyes engulfed him in perpetual longing. He lost himself in her pupils and the transcendent turquoise which gravitated around them like the rings of saturn. Her eyes could wash away from the soul the dust from everyday life, capture the essence of dreams and name the unnameable. Exquisitely perfect, they were only comparable to her deep red lips which were now speaking the words:
-* ** *
He held her gaze in the palm of his hand.
The phone rang.
-Is this all just mumbo-jumbo.
He rose from the bed, pulling the thin white sheets with him as he did so, revealing her silk-smooth naked body. She laughed with beautiful mirth as she too jumped up and quickly rushed passed him, fractionally beating him to the bathroom. She flashed him a broad smile of magnificent happiness as she closed the door.
He raised his arms in mock frustration before realising she would not be able to see his action through the door. He sighed and dropped his hands to his sides. The sun poured through the open windows through the pale and almost transparent curtains. Lines of dust particles hung in the air, reflecting and refracting the light from the glowing orb in the sky. He pulled on a pair of shorts and crossed the room to inspect the thermometer which hung beside the small mirror with the handcrafted metal pattern enclosing it.
-We’ve got to go. He shouted. They’ve been waiting for us.
-Take it easy, beautiful. She replied from within the torrent of shower water. There will always be people waiting for us.
He smiled and pulled a cigarette out of the packet which lay on the dressing table. As he lit it and drew in his first breath of tobacco a disgusting wailing sound filled the room. A venomous, vehement noise designed to shatter the ear drums and remove thoughts of care from the mind. He dropped his cigarette to the floor and stamped on it as he covered his ears.
The wailing stopped. She opened the bathroom door and beheld him in her sight. He stood motionless as she called out to him.
-Bello, what is wrong?
She moved over to him and placed her hand on his stomach. He looked at her with wide eyes filled with pain. She took his hands in hers and slowly pulled them from his ears. She glanced down to his palms and realised that they were laced with blood. His eyes saw this and began to fill with tears. She pulled his face towards hers,
-ooo ooo oo
-mmm mmm mmmm mm
She hurriedly pulled her blue dress over her body and took his right hand in her left as she led him from the room.
Out of the door. Along the corridor.
Crash into old lady leaving her room
Carry on, she’ll be fine. probably.
Onto the street.
The crowd is bigger than usual, and they aren’t milling around like they normally do. They are pushing and surging like the incoming tide towards the west. Squeezing the space out of the street. Chickens squark and jump around their cages, abandoned by stall owners. A taxi gradually forces its way through the tumult. She leads him over to it and opens the driver’s door.
-L’hopital, silvouz plait.
-No, no lady. No taxi, no taxi.
-I’m leaving. No no, no taxi today. Sorry madame.
Machine gun fire rattles out in the distance, it vibrates in subdued, muffled echoes, distorted by the arid dust.
The crowd panics and surges together and apart again, mimicking tuna in a threatened shoal. She pulls harder on his hand and drags him through the thickets of legs, arms, bodies and faces stricken with terror. A little boy sits with his knees pent up against his chest as he weeps in a stranger’s doorway. The sound of what she thinks is a firework whistles somewhere behind their building. Another round of gunfire, this time from the West, the crowd screams and begins to push their way back the way they were fleeing from. She grips his hand tighter and lets them be carried by the force of the crowd.
They emerge from their street into an empty space which was once packed with market stalls, swindlers, kind merchants and ignorant tourists. He begins to pull her hand backward towards the street. She turns to face him, places her other hand on his wrist and pulls him onward. As the crowd spill out behind them they disperse into crags and forgotten or lost alleyways and they are left alone in the market square.
A helicopter speeds into position above and hangs in the air as ropes extend and three figures drop down them. They hit the floor and the helicopter exits stage left. One of the figures pulls a television camera from his back as the three of them run, hunched towards where she stands with him. The media crew run past them towards the street.
His eyes are filling with red light, permeated by blotches of gold. He really needs a cigarette, or else something strong to take away this taste in his mouth. He scrunches his face and then tries to spit the overwhelming sensation from his taste buds. His tongue feels swollen with the flavour. He can feel hot blood filling his cavities and he knows it won’t stop. He’s going to choke on the blood unless he can spit it out and all the time the taste…the-taste-is-driving-him-insane-man-like-he-can’t-breath-he-can’t-feel-his-legs-his-thoughts-are-slipping-away-and-he-doesn’t-know-where-he-is-or-where-she-is-he-can’t-feel-her-hand-anymore-man-he’s-lost-her-he’s-lost-her-and-he’s-alone-and-he-doesn’t-he-doesn’t-know-what-to-do-and-the-sand-feels-nice-on-the-flesh-of-his-back-man-like-real-nice-it’s-so-comfortable-he-feels-like-he-could-just-lie-here-forever-man-with-the-warmth-of-the-sun-soaking-him-and-keeping-him-safe-he’s-enveloped-by-the-earth-he’s-part-of-it-all-like-part-of-everything-and-he’s-sinking ..slowly ..slowly sinking-into-the-ground-and-it’s-so-beautiful.
She places her arm beneath his neck and lifts him to his feet. His legs shake at first but then his eyes blink and widen and he sees her. She looks into his eyes and he feels reborn as she says.
-* ** *
She squeezes his hand and once more turns back to her task. But she doesn’t have to pull him so much now and he’s following her with ease. They reach the end of the square and she pulls him into the new street. It’s wide but there are two groups of men hiding behind stacks of sandbags with mortars, and at the other end of the street a tank is turning to face them.
And it’s as if drops of the galaxy are falling into his mind. Sensuously washing over the dirt and the sand which has been clogging his senses. It forms in pools of clarity in dark recesses which he had forgotten he had. He pulls her towards him.
-I love you.
And then the tank exploded.
January 24, 2011
I’m not bitter, by the way.
The exexexexexex is a fantastically brutal creature. She exists in a world of hate permeated by sweet frustration. The beating of her heart sends long thin tendrils of ice skating across your skin. Her sharp teeth sparkle with malice and glint in silver moonlight as if winking at your impending death. Once she has set her eyes on you, you become ensnared in a web of confusion. Her gloriously wicked fingers trace outlines of false love across your body, cutting strips of flesh away from your bones. She is monstrous to behold; her dark hair floating behind her head as if made of serpents, her narrow eyes breathing terror down your throat. Her skin crawling in scaly parasites which leech the hope from within your soul.
But no, in fact she’s not like that at all. She is perfectly beautiful. Her skin as soft as fresh snow, and her eyes such a deep and passionate blue that you may lose yourself within them. You lose yourself in the tumultuous looks she gives you from across the room, and you feel submerged as you did when you leapt into that glacial pool in European mountains. With every gentle caress she graces you with you feel reborn; it’s as if you’re waking up from a deep sleep you never knew you were in...
January 08, 2011
The Self Always Wins
Well, man, my man. Ahm standing here, right, like, and I’m itching, really fucking itching - not like, ah’ve got crabs or anythin’ like that - it’s like with fear, ahm itching with fear all over my body. Shivers, too, my spine's shivering like a shiteing dag. Ah stuff my hands into my pockets to stop ‘em from trembling but it’s no fucking use. Ahm shook up and that’s the end of it.
The cold is biting my neck - man, ah’ve never had a hickey from the fucking weather before tonight but the way it’s feeling ahm gonna be looking like ah’ve been necking with Dracula all night - ah take my hands out my pockets and blow on them. They’re covered in this fucking red dirt ‘n all! Tip to fucking toe and toe to fucking tip ahm covered in the shite. Why’s it red anyways? Why the fuck can’t it be brown like all the rest of the stuff? Why’s it gotta be so damn individual?
Fucking pretentious-self-loving-individual-dirt. Man the fuck up and stop being such an arse.
-QUEST’QUE TU LA FUCK? What the shiteing thing was that? Ah rummage in my pockets for my torch and shine it’s pitiful beam of light into the night. Ah’ll give you fucking made in England, you fucking torch, you couldn’t light a match you phallic shaped tiny bastard.
My torch is being a right pain in the rear, the punitive amount of light it sheds hardly cutting through the waves of darkness which have descended upon me.
-THERE IT IS AGAIN. You may be swathed in shadows, son, but you can’t escape my tiny torch light!
A pair of wide white eyes catch the light of my torch. Ah knew it! Ah fucking well knew it! Just another fucking roo! Go back to Kanga you fucking overgrown-bouncy-dog-bastard!
This place is full of the fucking rats, they’re creeping me out ‘n all, bouncing about like they own the place. Bollocks to ‘em, ah say. You can have this damn place.
Ah look down at the hole ah’ve been digging for the past half-hour. That’ll do ya, I reckon. Ah swing my back-pack off my shoulders and dump it on the ground. Ah unzip it and let my red hands grope about its insides. Presently, they procure what they’ve been searching for and lift the precious prize into the open-air.
Ah flash my torch over it as ah play with it in my other hand. Ah can’t stop touching the bloody thing, it’s like ah’m hooked on the way it feels.
Fuck this for a game of toy-soldiers. Ah’ve gotta honour my part of the deal, right? Gotta do the moral thing here, ah reckons so.
What if the other guy’s thinking like ah’m thinking right now?
It wouldn’t be logical, now, would it? To leave this beautiful, glorious, desirous thing right here only to find ah’ve been done over by the other player - well that wouldn’t be very fair on your’s truly!
Nah, it’s not worth it. There’s no point letting myself be screwed over: after all, maybe there’s a chance ah can keep this little treasure and get what the other squire’s holding on top, now wouldn’t that be a neat little thing.
There’s a faint line of light on the horizon. Better make tracks sharpish, ah reckon. Ah replace my darling possession in my bag and strap it back onto my back. Ah pick my hat off the floor beside me and dust it off before putting it back on my head.
Ah’ve only just set off when this sexy little aboriginal lady-girl walks by strutting her stuff on the desert cat-walk. Man, she’s something else, something smooth in this coarse fucking-egotistical-dirt-land. Ah whistle my sexiest whistle.
‘Ere, love! Fancy coming back to mine for a cider and a massage?’
November 25, 2009
The Fifth Dimension
It is cloudy. It is late. It is cold and I am naked. Adrift, among star struck constellations, the pounding vibrations of the beating heart thump out across the stellar sphere. A purple sky whirls overhead where strange dark shapes flit and float in the swirling air currents. An incessant clicking travels to my ear drums, it is metronome-esque although it's whereabouts are as yet unknown to me. The black earth squelches beneath my feat, emitting a wafting smell of wet wood and leaves, yet there is no forest within eyesight to speak of; just strange shapes. In such situations, it is difficult not to feel some sense of awe. But I am not afraid.
He had told me that I would touch Orion's sword. What words of prophecy are these? The musings of an itinerant common fraud? I had interrogated him to no avail other than deepening the lusting thirst I had for answers. One does not step lightly onto the Zodiac, I imagined.
The light from the nearest stars dripped in gently rippling waves across my brow. I am no longer naked, I realise. Rather, I find my body replaced by a sparkling void; illuminated and enclosed by these novas which now outline my form; taking up the function of flesh. With two burning stars I look down and see the hunter himself, frozen in stasis. My hand, bejewelled by Galaxies reaches towards the glowing nebula which exults the blade -
And I am no longer amongst the stars. I find myself in a shelter where the floor is littered by broken shards of mirror. The regally purple sky outside has begun to turn into a ferocious tumult of excitement and stormy behaviour. I stand with my back to the shattered window and hold gaze with a creature which I struggle to place in the catalogue of creatures I am accustomed to. It is not unlike a stag in shape and form, except that it has no eyes. It spoke in a familiar voice. It knew what I had done. It knew what I had seen, where I had been and who I had spoken to. It knew me. This is a point where I allow myself to feel afraid.
The creature - a female- described to me a world of colour. Of horizons at dawn and dusk which were so enveloped by glorious colours that it was as if God was at that moment touching the world. She had seen colour in the seas, in the forests, in the towns and in the markets. Colour was everywhere, and everywhere was colourful.
But colour cannot hide everything. In amongst the colour you find shards of drab, dingy depression. A world of deceit. A world of secrets.
This creature knew of secrets. And this creature knew me.
There is no shame in cowardice, correct? Not here, at least. Not here in a world where I touch celestial signs, not here in a world where I stand naked before a stag with no eyes having a conversation about colour. Surely not.