• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 02
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When It’s Time to Draw a Line

When it’s time to draw a line
I'll pick a grey afternoon in Paris, early March,
when the tourists are at lunch
and the bouchinists huddle in conspiratorial congress
beside their stalls.
I'll smoke a cigarette on
the Pont au Double, gazing
down into the roping
waters of the Seine, primordial, slate green,
exposed in their true tone by
the marble sky.
I'll be dressed in my finest clothes, a colourful tie,
my heaviest boots.
I'll hum a tune as I ease
my old body
over the rail and then
just standing a while
I'll watch the bateaux mouches
and salute the voyagers,
marking their disquiet, their timid, waved replies,
their murmured passing concern,
quickly forgotten.
Then, with all quiet
outside and in,
with an audience of indifferent pigeons lined up on the quay
and the tight-lipped gargoyles
or Our glowering Lady,
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1

Pieces of glass

When she sees her chance she leaves. She doesn’t take her shoes, or the coral lipstick she insists on wearing, although she’s seen the care-worker’s pitying looks, as though they are thinking, What’s the point, at her age? She picks up the scarf one of her daughters gave her, ties it round her waist. She’s not sure if that’s where it’s meant to go, but hopes it will keep her warm.

The girls with fat bottoms and long, cow’s lashes and plastic nails are outside smoking cigarettes and laughing. She walks out of her room with its neat bed and thick, swirled carpet, through the hall and out of the front door, which she closes quietly behind her. She knows where she is going, but isn’t sure she remembers the way.

She makes her way past cars parked on the gravel, and through the village. Everything is dark, apart from the yellow glow of light from windows. Her bare feet are like ice; stones and dirt press into her skin. She climbs down the steps towards the beach. She wants to see it one last time; the place she used to come with him. They’d lie under the giant rock shaped like a man’s face, with beaked nose and protruding forehead. She’d worry that a piece of rock might fall off and land on them, but he’d say, Silly bird, and kiss her nose. She can still remember the heft of him, the sea-salt smell of his skin.

She climbs onto a rock. Her mind might not be what it once was – sometimes she forgets words, or where she is, or who she is – but her body is still agile. The women in her family have always been thin as birds, and strong. She stands staring at the starlit sky, the ink-black sea. She imagines holding her baby son up to the stars, the way a lion did once in a cartoon, then laughs as she remembers he’d be forty-five now. She’d written to him once, and received a polite letter in return. I wish you all the best, he’d said. But I won’t be coming to meet you.

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2

Midweek on the Coast

Silver and white
Lay claim to day, greystreaming
Light as much as the next blue sky.

We see you speaking to cliffside,
Break of five in the morning,
Constellations fading on your hair—

Your blouse a bare, visible flag of death,
Flaring like a smile wide, billowing away from us.
Tell us which direction your head is honing in on:

Back to us, God in the sea reflections
There in the rocks, a deity’s mouth
In years of eroded solids?

Or are you waving our way, barefoot,
A friendly hey between dawn
And school hours? Apt, on a Wednesday for physics.

This is where your sister began
Her fear of craggy beach landscapes far afield.
We laid squat candles on cardboard boats.

Watched them go to you, never
Once a “RETURN TO SENDER”. Peaceful—
Just how we closed-eyed envisioned your face.

Die properly, in far escape from the study of light’s reflection
On planar surfaces. Seep away into the breeze beneath a seagull,
Take your last stare at all extant embers of earthly infatuation.

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3

The Summer I Became a Prophet

Overwhelming two-dimensionality; it is the visual symptom of my anxiety.

Re-calibrating my identity and position in the world following university was the cause of my first nervous breakdown. The sudden thrust from the warm waters of deluded Cambridge optimism to the ice-cold reality of the London urban struggle lead to extreme isolation. And isolation lead to my developing suspicion thatthe world was not real.

In acute moments of anxiety – fuelled by the aching desire for something to happen in plagues of loneliness – I would experience a physical dissociation from my surrounding environment. Everything in my visual field became quickly two-dimensional, as if the world was a flat pictorial representation on a thin sheet of paper. In doubting my immediate visual matrix, I became fixated – obsessive, even – over the notion that a tear in the fictitious plane of reality would lead me to “the essence behind everything.” If reality was a two-dimensional construct that I could not associate with, then I was not to trust it.

This niggling feeling that beyond what I saw lay a cavernous offering of alternatives catalysed my “eureka” moment – “I am a prophet.” It was my destiny to locate this tear; only then could I escape my solitary confines – to disappear and fuse more physically and intimately with the infinitude behind the two-dimensional. What was my prophecy to others searching for salvation? That anxiety was the result of multi-dimensional, corporeal, animal human spirits, failing to coalesce with two-dimensional fictions.

Looking up at the stars, at the vast ocean, at nature’s geological idiosyncrasies – the peculiar thin smoothness of Saturn’s “rocky” belt - enforced my prophetic quest: “I know these formations to be deeply complex, yet I see them as drawings. How can I get behind – how can I move to the sumptuous organs of worlds beyond ours?”

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4

Play Loose with the Universe

I mean
You call I answer
How the game works
Go look
At the rest of the world
I'll wait for you
Give me two minutes
With heavenly flashlight
Pipe up
The beach speakers
Listen to the fake sound
Of waves
None of this is real
Merely hologram
We are safely
Home.

5

Dancing by Lion’s Rock

It lit from the deep
core where our light begins
It shone like a bursting aura,
like sound

So I danced with the blessing
of the night and a rock
watching over me
The blue wrapped around the evening

could not intimidate my feelings
So I danced by a rock
it was shaped like a lion's head
- ready to roar as loud as the light within

6

swan song

when nothing remains to burn,
                              you use yourself as a wick,
flames
                              sputtering from your fat.
the stones reply in kind,
                              offering their density
for the flickering,
                              leaning in where they can,
or standing solemn.
                              from a distance,
the stars welcome you
                              as kin
and semaphore
                              a greeting.
even if you cannot last,
                              they have seen you.

7

The beginning of the journey

I'm scared
of people
I'm scared
of invisible citizens
of masks
of ghosts

I fear them

their unsearchable faces
shining from glasses
and spoons and TVs

their horrible smiles
glowing from advertisements
in the parks
near the truth
of ancient
trees

I'm so scared
of them

but you can stay
near to me
during the voyage
I can see your
sweet eyes
lighting this darkness

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8

Dancing light

Come on darkness scare me
if you think you can
I'm the lightness you desire
there's so much sadness in your pockets
Come on shiver me
throw those stories my way
I am a small being
a bundle of starlight
look how I dance in and through
your deep furrowed skins
Come on darkness scare me
if you think you can

9

What Hope is There?

The Ancients knew, but what they knew is frozen, now.

You can see by the Ancient One here. See his mournful downward gaze: it tells us he still knows, still carries wisdom within. But how to hear him, for he can no longer tell us: see his mouth, eroded by time and the elements. See his ear, ossified, flaked and jagged: he can no longer hear our questions.

The little one, the shining one, the Lighted One who stands on the rock tries, valiantly, to find a way to help the Ancient One yield up what he knows. For our sakes. See how she shines her light on the edge of the place where once his mouth was. A healing light. See how she shines that light onto the wing of the butterfly fossil above the Ancient One’s eye, onto the heart of the frozen seated woman below.

The Lighted One is our Messenger, our Hope. She knows that the butterfly and the woman, the psyche and the feminine, are essential in these uncertain times of ours. She knows that the Ancient One keeps the wisdom of the feminine safe.

But what if he can never tell us? What if the gap between the Lighted One, our representative, and the Ancient One and his store of wisdom, is widening?

See how precariously Hope stands on the edge of the rock.
See what a distance separates her from the Ancient One.

But we must hold onto Hope, we must believe that she can divine what the Ancient One has to tell us, for we need help in these uncertain times of ours. And if she cannot bring the Old Knowledge back to us in our time of need, what hope is there?

10

the long sleep

I had been sleeping too long hours lost
in a dream of deep dissatisfaction down a well
lined with failures
Its depth had silt of regrets and self-disgust
getting back up was a slow progress an eagle flying
In a vacuum, reluctant awakening like visiting death
and finding it hard to leave.
This time of the year makes me nervous it is called
the festive season, where to eat Christmas lunch,
will there be a hotel that will take us in
this fake friendship with people at the next table
cheers for the New Year that begins with arguments
at the taxi-rank.
Dreaming would be so much easier with a log fire at home
something to eat and a glass of wine and the belief
next year will truly be a better place

11

Facing Fear

Although obstacles loom
Huge, dark
You stand at the edge
You feel a spark
You contemplate there
On the brink
Will you soar
Or will you sink
A deep drop
Down below
At your back
A warm glow
You raise your hand
Signal you are ready
Head held high
Staying strong, steady
What you sow
So you shall reap
Led by the light
You take a leap
The time is now
You've taken flight
The dark diminishes
In the light

12

Lost

I am driving up a hill
without a name on an
unnumbered highway.

This road transforms into
a snake winding around
on hair pin turns.

In the distance
looms a dark village
coiled with secrets.

My fingers are tingling cool,
shadows converge.
static fills night.

Exactly what I will explore
is unsure. Where I will find it
unknown. All is in question.

Everything has become a maze
where one line leads to another
dead ends become beginnings.

13

Aerial Comes of Age

I wasted time discovering creatures
that lurk in the depths of oceans
and in dark caves beyond the horizon,
while pining for my lord and master,
Prospero, the grand magician.
I conjured a burnished seaweed striation;
played bagatelle with pinpricks of light
shaken from a fallen constellation;
tumbled in sea mists, waves and sand;
drew showers of stars out of the night
that trickled through my childish hands
and left holes in the welkin.
When the world was stuffed with darkness,
crawling with death and furtive fear,
I remembered my master’s forgiveness
and patience, how he quelled Miranda’s tears.
I dived and retrieved his books and staff,
gathered every glimmer of brightness
that still sparkled on waves and sand,
threw showers of stars back into the night
with the steadiness of a maturer hand.

14

3:48am

One lucent corner of his mind lifted
Back its shadow. Night essayed a speech.
Stars sprung from the dreams that day'd depicted.

His half-sunk bark drifted blaze-wards, hearing
How it gave out sweet non-verbal music.
The sightless pilot stirred but was not steering.

He also crouched obscure in the gouged headland.
Heavenly aliens, even as one evangelized,
Threatened abduction from those shattered sands.

Her hand stayed raised. Prophetic, glorious, gifted.
His selves cowered. His clouded fevers parted.
One lucent corner of his mind lifted.

15

The Philosopher’s Dream of Reality

When I question myself, am I really
questioning the nature of my being?
Am I contradicting when I rally
against the belief of what I'm seeing?
Is it the rock that I stand here upon
or is it my feet that lack concretism?
Are these legs a mere abstraction,
the idea of 'legs' an aphorism?
I have read Berkeley's 'An Essay Towards
a New Theory of Vision' and despaired
at how upstart man could dare to cross swords
with the plan that God has wisely declared.
What I see is what I see is what I
have to accept and not question the sky.

16

I Feel Your Pain

I see your rock face contorted in such pain.
Tell me of the torture you are made to undergo.
More than you should endure.
I wish I could make good the wrongs you suffer
Because of man's selfish greed.
Oh gentle earth, gentle no more.
You rise up in rebellion
Making your protest known.
Already there is a tremor felt through the earth.
Causing earth quakes, huge tsunamis and violent
weather storms.
I hear your voice.
Calling, crying, bellowing.
Your tormented protest evident.
Will man cease to abuse you?
Is it too late?
The earth will be no more.
Brought down by man's own destruction.
Here I stand in the moonlight
To say sorry on behalf of mankind.
But is sorry enough.

17

Sky Woman At Night

Of course it could be true
But I never imagined it so
It could be traced back to
That reservoir of spirit
Yet that was not it either
Nor was it in the corners
Abandon this line of thinking

The sound of her whisper
Was sand falling in an hour glass
She dared me to strip
Then kicked me in the stomach
She mocked my sincerity
And toppled the boat

18

Golem

You pause in your flight
To rest upon my Golem hand
A blaze of light in my deep dark days
Have you come to take away my hunger?

Have you another word for me?

I have been feeding on boulders of pain
And stones of guilt
My gravel tongue, grazing
On fresh ground flesh
Unquenchable, insatiable
Starved of life
Whilst starving life itself
From those who came before

My soul is a cavern, void and hollow
The cold emptiness eternal,
As I leave an infinity of ruin in my wake
But you are so light, so soft
Bringing warmth and such hope,

Oh such hope

Take the word from my mouth
The paper sentence
My judgement and despair
Let the tongue of your flame
Lick my wounds, sear forgiveness
Into this heart of stone
And let me rest

19

So Be It

un
sure
why

my
self

was
erased
in
this way

as if
my
self

a
brilliant
hole
so
shaped

but
truthfully
that
sort
of
brilliance
is
all
fire

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20

I call this planet home

I have no face no name no game
Barefoot I came
No shoe
I have, that's true
No home you say?
I disagree!
No roof no grounds no bills to pay
But see:
The stars are mine
So is the sea
The bush the beach the tree.

There are some sacred castles here
- At least they are to me.
One is a tent
quite
big and white
On kangaroo island
One is Where the cherries are
And flowers on a dam
It's where my little garden is
A dear
And Favorite men
But the closest to my heart
Is solid and a rock
It's weirdly shaped and worth to walk
A hundred miles per night
To Be there when the sun comes up and feel so much alive.
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21

Immanuel

Here we are on the edge of the world – or the top of it, who knows. The earth is not a ball anymore; perfect, rotating, coated in lush forests and swirled with rain. It no longer hovers in a black swath of space, there when you need it, on a poster of nine planets in your classroom as a kid, or on a snazzy online map of eight planets when you were older and cynical but found yourself coming back to remind yourself which was green and which was blue, which had golden stripes or rings. You wonder if you were a hipster then, or a nerd. Whether there was ever any difference.

Now the end of the day has come, and you are wise and know we have no bauble of a home, no jewel of aquamarine and jade and pearl to be set at your finger or wrist. You inhabit a plain, long and rugged. Funny how we should regress. That we were round was our greatest breakthrough and now we are flat, roaming a surface that only hosts us; doesn’t curl us in its arms or lick us or hold us to the skies like the trophies we were. The horizon is our end, though calling it that feels a bad fit. Horizon is a pretty word, emotive, from the other time. From youth. Who knew Youth would come to mean more than the glory days of any one of us. It feels so distant now; we shake our heads and shrug and laugh silently, because we can’t believe that was in the same lifetime as this.

You are burning up. You do not fear. You know our timelines are different, that there can never be any great human collectiveness. You are alone and your moments as a fireball will hurt no-one. You stand on the rock like a prophet, or a messenger arrived from space, a baby just fallen into this land. But you are old. Not old in the sense it had in the last world. But you have lived. The sea is in its purest form, silent and dark. Whether there is any life left, you don’t know. It is no longer turquoise; it is blue, blue like the vast nothingness it reflects.

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22

Food Chain

1915: A man was stranded in the jungle for three months. The only way he survived was on berries and water from a fresh creek - the holiest water in the world. The more water he drank the closer he felt to his higher power. He was extremely hungry, to the point of having anxiety attacks. Dipping his cup he carved out wood into the creek once more, looking down in the water he saw a reflection of a lion. The lion spoke to him and said, "I control the food chain and if you're hungry, you need my permission to eat." The man said no thanks, and became a vegan.
23

Guardian Angel

Bree sat on top of the mountain, the same mountain she climbed with Danny. She reached in her backpack and pulled out their wedding photo. Memories began to resurface of his vibrant smile and his blue eyes that lit up a room every time he entered. She missed brushing her fingers through his thick hair and listening to his jokes. His sense of humor always got her through a rough day at work. All that was taken away by a drunk driver. Now she was alone and miserable. If only something would restore her faith. She put her head down with the photo next to her and cried until she dozed.

Startled awake by a gust of wind, Bree stood and rubbed her eyes to make sure she wasn’t going insane. In the sky above the mountain, a glowing figure floated and spoke.

“Bree, don’t do it. It’s not what Danny would want.” The golden figure lit up the sky.

Bree’s mouth dropped. “Who are you? How do you know why I’m here?”

“I know everything. You must trust me. Go home. You will be happy again. I promise.” The silhouette floated away and disappeared into the clouds.

Uncertain of what she saw, she decided it was the only way out. Just as Bree was about to jump, her cell phone rang. She wasn’t going to answer it until a voice in her head told her she had to.

“Hello?”

“Hello, Mrs. Hunter. This is Brenda Hall from the adoption agency. We were so sorry to hear of your husband’s passing. He was a very nice man. We wanted to let you know there is a five-year-old girl who needs a home if you’re still interested in adopting?”

That one phone call changed everything.

24

Memory Fruit

Heart is craggy and well-worn,
I ate every hour and it was filled
with time and space and insects
the size of apples, with fire.

I dove off the back porch.
You wouldn't have known it
you were too busy kissing her downstairs
the foyer that divides her was split and hot
and you had to use the extinguisher
of your tongue.

There are always those lanterns in the sky
I count them like lullabies,
I see the wind and it sees back.

I like the roll of ground and air
on my back, everything good I know
happens in this position.

25

Crossing Swords

Now, don't glare once
again you are threatening
me of Hell?
The spit fire
the den is
your trap?
You enter dreams
because that is where
you exist
I'll tell you what
I will castigate you
in Heaven
come down to earth
be real, take off
your ghoulish mask
cross swords with me
in a fair fight.

26

Communicate …

I have been trying to communicate.
I have sent all kinds of symbols and signs and sounds.
Scents of flowers we love.
I've even changed the weather, the temperature.
You think that is easy?
It takes effort!
I'm feeling unheard.
Ignored at times.

Don’t you look up child?
Don’t you look down child?

You humans.
Silly bunch.

Assuming we have all the answers.
When in truth it is
we
who
sit here and ponder and wonder:

Are you having fun?
Isn’t this beautiful?

Is there a trace of me there?
Do you remember?

Are you happy? Fulfilled?

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27

Heavenly Gaze

When I ruminate on my days which seem a haze
I feel the presence of a strange spiritual gaze
A source, a light, a halo defining my grace

It resides in my psyche unnoticed, yet making its presence felt
Scanning all that I have dealt
Till my string of fears and doubts all begin to melt

Each day I wake up with a new resolution
As every atom of my body craves for a new revolution
Which makes me double my praying efforts with a new ablution

At leisure I have my share of memory flashes
The nostalgia of youth, the ambitions unresolved, the all impulsive crashes
The promise of rising up again from the ashes

Is it somebody I know or an entity entirely strange?
A force that has taken me completely in its range
A force that is modifying my contours, but itself bears no change

Whatever it is, the very thought of it makes me feel secure
A gaze so pristine, the source so pure
With it beside me, my wounded psyche needs no cure.

28

Silent Dancing

The full moon shines on me. I shouldn’t be here on my own dancing silently on the sand between the rocks. I think of Aamir. About his arms around me. About what we’ve done here. About what we’ve all done.

I remember my mother’s smile as she circled in dance with me and my sister, my grandmother dancing on her own away from us all. Both remember the time before. The stories etch across my grandmother’s face. Her eyes no longer see. She says that it is better that way.

We danced in silence. The only sound was our feet twisting and turning, churning up the sand, my grandmother beating out a rhythm on the rock with the heel of her foot, arms lifted to the starlit sky.

Now they have all gone and it’s just me. I want a moment to myself to remember. Tomorrow Aamir will leave. He has no choice. All men his age have to go and fight. They leave this silent world for the noise of gunfire and explosion. Meanwhile we are left behind with nothing. No joy. No celebration. We are not meant for that.

Earlier my sister Jaseena broke the circle to ask our grandmother, ‘What was it like, you know, music?’ She wants reassurance that there was ever such a thing.

‘Ah child,’ my grandmother muses, a sudden twitch to her lips, ‘it is a rhythm and beat, instruments singing to one another, voices high and low in harmony like the river’s flow or rain beating on a tin roof, like feet in gravel, like your footprints in the sand.’

I had laid my head on Aamir’s shoulder and imagined it wishing this night would last forever.

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29

War child

S/he is more than blood, bone,
a face, raised from rubble,
with grey and crimson skin,
like a clown’s in a movie
s/he’s too young to see,

more than a casualty strapped
to a bright orange seat, driven
through shattered streets
where s/he ran to school when
a kiss could mend a graze,

more than a cost, a loss or gain
of war, a wall to be demolished
where ideas strike like flint
and steel.
          S/he is the place where stars

come to Earth, where ocean meets
shore and change rocks steady
and slow. S/he raises her hand
to the sky. S/he is life,
s/he is light.

30