- Vol. 02
- Chapter 02
Christopher, being strange, did not make up
For all the stranger things we might have said.
I said, I’ll see you waiting on the hill;
You said, I’ll see you standing in the range.
There’s something missing. Cold becomes too much
When cold is all there is; but no, there’s not.
I said, I think the sea is in the distance;
You said, I think that isn’t sea but sky.
Remember when I said you were a wolf?
You didn’t understand; I didn’t care.
You said, There’s wolves and wolves, and I said, No,
There’s only wolves of one type: that type’s yours.
I want the day to brighten. Sunlight happens
Because if it were always dark we’d die.
I said, This lack of sun! (I lacked all sight.)
You said, I love horizons. So do I.
The mist! Why mist must deepen in the world
I can’t say; I don’t know but know one thing:
I said I would be waiting down below,
You said you would be waiting up above.
That’s all. Imagine if you can the stranger
Who’ll never be a stranger in the end:
I didn’t want to stay down in the range;
I climbed and climbed. I’m with you on the hill.
Cass is my brother, even if nobody believes it.
Cass is big, blonde, and good-looking. Girls turn to stare everywhere he goes. Guys, too, sometimes, which isn't Cass's thing, but he doesn't make a big jerky deal when they do.
Me, I'm mousy brown and scrawny. I could set myself on fire without anybody noticing.
But when Cass comes to pick me up at school, Eileen Branagan says, "That is your brother?" Eileen has about seventeen brothers and as many sisters. Everyone of them looks exactly like Eileen.
I say yes, even though I know people like Eileen might not exactly count me and Cass as for-real brother and sister, since all we have in common is our mom, which is why he (hot) looks so different from me (not). Cass never even knew his dad, and I barely remember mine. "Better that way," Cass says, whenever I bring it up, which I've stopped doing. He was bad to me and worse to mom, is all Cass will tell me about my dad, and something about the way he says it makes me think he might have been worst of all to Cass.
We don't need dads, is the way Cass figures it. Wolves don't have dads, they just have one leader who takes care of the whole pack. Cass knows everything about wolves. He reads every wolf book there is, which might surprise you because Cass is not the school and library type. His whole room is full of wolf posters, the best of which, lone wolf in the mountains, is also painted on the back of his denim j. Cass is not a lone wolf. He is the leader of our pack, and that's why he is getting a tattoo of three wolves. He is getting it on our magic birthday, the day he turns 21 and I turn 12, mirror-image ages, because even though we have different dads we are born the same day exactly nine years apart.
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The sky looks like God got up today
and decided to redecorate.
No masking tape,
but a face like thunder and a threadbare jumper,
and the radio turned to eight.
Weary from the six-day workweek
He stumbles past mountains left as molehills
and first-draft forests.
He picks and sniffs through pots:
Grace and Glory,
a colour-match for Compassion…
He settles on an understated shade of Shame.
Rings two clouds out like a sponge.
…nipped by bitter women,
the lonely-suit men,
I look for them.
Hearts like pencil shavings.
The stars have fucked them over.
It’s cold. They seek the sun
within a 20 mile radius.
Married men live longer lives
and they have longer legs than dogs
so I seek second-hand worship
and long walks in the Lake District.
In a way, right, now bear with me – in a way, I was thinking it looks more like a raccoon than a wolf anyway – facially I mean; there’s this little black patch around the eye that sort of looks like – yeah – so we could play with that. You know, changing perceptions and? – well obviously it’s a wolf, but there’s that patch – look, I know it’s a wolf actually I just thought –
You do. You pay me to think. That is what you – well I don’t know, there’s no pleasing some people. But we always keep it simple, I just – I thought, transformations, you know, seeing one thing as another – don’t look at me like that, I hate it when you look at me like that! No I’m not finished!
Right, alright, another one. You might like this one. Look, if you cut the picture in half yeah, down the centre, or maybe not the exact centre, just along the line of the, the wolf’s neck, right, and then switch the halves round, the mountain that’s on the left hand edge matches up with the mountain on the right hand edge, so it – it forms a new mountain right? In the middle there? With two wolves, only you can’t see the whole of either wolf and it just adds this sort of mystery to the whole thing. Like maybe these valleys just keep going on and on, symmetrical, right, with a – with a wolf in each one and the same road and then the – and I mean we don’t have to say any of this so much, just sort of show it, right, so the image sort of flickers and rolls and reels and the audience – fine, fine the viewers – start thinking what if the whole world is like this valley right? This is all of it. And then, and then, the Audi comes around the last hairpin.
Look, I didn’t get into this job to churn out more of the same – I want to do something different. I mean what is new about a wolf on a hill? Why is that gonna make anyone buy anything?Read more >
which infact he easily could.
But if he would trace his steps.
back to the choices before choices.
Almost as in a fairy tale. Once upon a time, there was a wolf, no there was a man.
He could or would easily see which wolf he had fed at the time.
You know based on the indian tale of feeding the wolf of thoughts, of heart, you wish to be stronger. How animal are you dear, just so I can see you better.
Yes, if could would.
If would could.
Hear you better.
Now, lone wolf that he was he could stand tall in old age and know it was all clear as day. Bright red day.
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a lone wolf;
run with the pack,
preferring to slink
He's always been grey
and the breath
from his muzzle
clouds about him;
and strangely cold.
Sometimes it gets
and he'll seek out
a mountain top,
turn his yellow eyes
to the sky
and howl for the moon
his own air
hides from him.
I’ve watched as they scratched their way towards us. Day by day they draw closer. The twists and turns belie their true direction. They are coming straight at us.
As long as memory they have stayed in the distance, far below where the valley dips and falls from view. And we’ve been happy to live this way. Apart. At a safe distance.
For so long they were simply voices. Unseen things whose sounds were carried in the air during sunlit hours. Their strange calls, sharp and biting, but with a purpose, with a meaning, that much was always clear.
And now the smell of them. This is how close they have come. Their milky sweetness clings to the air like a mist. An innocent scent that could fool a gentler soul.
But I am no fool.
I have slipped into town at night and watched as they huddled together under the lamplight’s warm glow.
They fear the night, what lies beyond the safety of that huddle. And when they see their own eyes reflected back at them in the window’s glass they can’t be sure if the candle’s flicker is something more. A yellow eye that leaves them shivering.
They sense me there, beyond the glass as I pass by. They know me. But in ways that are only half true.
And his world has emptied out.
My blood, water for so long now,
Thickens and grows warm.
I ache to surge, to bind in breath
Muscle and sinew and tooth,
To shake the life loose from between bones,
And feel the spark quicken, subside and pass
From rabbits, rats, furtive things,
From the deeper shadows that lumber and unfold
And demand I bow,
For this is their world also.
His voice, his voice would insist “No.”
He would yank and whistle, sometimes growl.
Summoned, I would return
And, grinning, nuzzle his wet palm,
Dizzy with his smell
And grateful for his touch.
Now I skirt these unpeopled roads
That wind into the valley.
I am an echo.
I am an echo seeking its source.
I rest my beat body on the grit of nowhere. Today this coat doesn't do its job, today it refuses to comply. It’s not enough now, to keep the cold away. It’s tired, of running, of fighting. It’s wrestled away its power.
It was tough once, when we ran together. In packs, to do battle against those mightier than we could ever be. We lost more than we won but we had courage. Courage that came from belonging. Being a part of something gave us strength. We knew it wouldn't last, we wouldn't last, something bigger was happening out there and we felt it.
One by one, all lost, all gone.
This land is not for the likes of me now, it’s far too rugged, far too ugly. No, this land is for the ruthless, for the cold-blooded, for them.
Not much time now before they catch up, before I have to move again.
A sign of life far away in the valley,
Through the mist the promised one will come.
She is out there,
We are destined to be together,
I have called to her,
I keep calling
My voice echo's through the mountains, hills
and valley, then back to me
in one long melancholy note.
I wait for a response.
Her voice will be heard,
softer, and a slightly higher pitch.
She will return to me.
We will be reunited.
Until then I wait.
My faith is all I have.
See, you think that the iconic upland lunar landscape is a marvel, something wonderfully natural. Perhaps it’s emptiness promotes a stillness that you all crave and need. But this world wasn’t meant for emptiness, and one should not marvel at death. To stare in doltish awe at catastrophe is at first strange, but to then repeat the act is truly terrifying. You stare at deserts, the high dunes and mirages and see beauty; but not for the process that led to their existence, for true understanding would surely dwarf the superficial sensory deluge that they impose. What you don’t see is history and what was. The ecosystems and lives that flourished and the fires, scorched earth and collapse that left only a few alive.
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There is a richness here to the air and the land, the soil supporting a plethora of crops to help keep the village folk satisfied throughout the winter months. But their generous harvest isn’t shared with their neighbours, the ones who skirt the periphery of their unsavoury land, the word degenerates whispered off their tongues. All they can speak about are degenerates and the lonesome wolf, referring to the village folk as the wolf’s degenerates, whose blood is far from pure and milk white in colour.
Their story is an ancient one but like all ancient stories they are never forgotten. Instead they are passed on to children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on. The original version gets altered, modified, reinvented; although the basic facts remain the same. Their king, originally believed to be a wise man of sound judgement was seduced on the eve of his wedding night by a creature disguised as the perfect embodiment of womankind. A woman with liquorice hair, diamonds for eyes and a rose for a mouth.
When his intended’s mother found out what had passed between him and this ungodly creature beneath the moon’s milky beam, she placed a curse on the king, a spell that could never be lifted nor broken, something which would stay with him for the rest of his life and remind him of all he had lost.
It was true, he still had his people, but his nightly transformation terrified the youngsters of neighbouring villages, with many of its elders claiming it was the devil’s work, and had relinquished all ties it once held with them.
And so the once-seduced king continues to live a very secluded existence, ruler by day, wolf by night, and watches impassively as night dissolves into day, high above his forbidden village.
about a wolfman.
He chased me through
the mountains, along
I played hard to catch
but of course he was faster,
I was soon on my back.
He ravaged me while
howling at the moon.
I screamed, yes, yes, yes.
But what a letdown,
even a wolfman
can come too soon.
but I tell you, and you must pass it on.
The ways of man and wolf are not dissimilar,
both predatory, both hierarchical.
There, that's the philosophy dealt with,
now you can allow an old one her memory.
Ai-ee, ai-ee, how I howled;
how I bayed the moon
until the mountains rose bare and barren -
the footpaths of man yet to be thought of.
My agony echoed round the Seven Hills,
escaped into the rising mist.
I fled the lair, unable to bear
the sight of those two still bodies,
and all the time the milk kept coming,
mocking my motherhood.
A similar sort of day,
the Tiber's silver streamers
wound and unravelled,
Led by some secret lore, I found them -
two small human boys, harder
to distinguish than my cubs,
wailing from bushes by the river’s bank.
All the time the milk within me cried out for use;
I let it flow from me to them, knowing
it would re-shape our world, and theirs.
He's just found out there's no Santa Claus.
Still, we've all been there.
Stared, wide-eyed, at the parents,
tying up their bag full of lies.
He feels the same, only now
he's no chance of a job.
He looks wistfully into the damp valley,
listens for the crackle of kindle,
somewhere to dry off his desires.
at the vanishing point of dawn
you tread the dry river beds with ease
you have crossed higher fences fir lined
valleys blur with the sound in your throat
I claimed this road but you made a bridge
this earth is no longer mine nor wholly yours
could we be both dew and gravel?
to wait indefinitely
half way up my mountain
tail between legs.
A soft focus mist
curling over peaks
a little path stretching away endlessly
but I'm dog tired.
I've lost my pack
lost the scent
and I wait for a deer
or red riding hood.
It's a grey day-
I know I'm moth-eaten-
eaten up worrying
wondering if another meal's coming my way.
In one hour-
I'll go back
up the hill and see if I can't
bark or howl.
the wild boar should get going
soul and hide together!
Howls on wind
Shiver or tremble
Tracks in mud
Whites of eyes
When we ran we ran
Ice on waters
Legs with roots
Foxglove in my chest
An acidic rain
The car by the road
The ache in my feet and lungs
I am just a dog
You pulled on the costume head and paraded around the stage. I was in the wings, hood up, basket in hand. The visiting had yet to be done.
'Dress rehearsal,' you said and bit into your breakfast apple, eyes hard on me, teeth showy in that leer you did when in character.
Fran rolled her eyes and scowled. She didn't want to be the arse end. She wanted the lead role, Red. She couldn't piece together what had gone wrong in auditions. She'd done everything the director desired. Unable to act, her jaw fell when he turned to me.
Ever since I'd nobbled the part, you prowled around, salivating, keen to prove your animal self and get to the action. You stretched your muscles, aware I was watching. You saw a girl, ripe for picking, and I took care to maintain my saucer-eyed stance.
You licked your lips, anticipating tender flesh fit for a wolf. But to me you were no more than a lap dog.
Today, the cynic says solidarity is conformism, he maintains that sympathy is hypocrisy. ‘Kitsch, tacky’, he keeps saying, and that applies to anything appealing to emotions, every smile is fake. He questions authenticity and thinks there is no such thing as generosity, only personal benefit. Kindness is a vulgar pretence, that's all there is to it. You can tell a cynic from the colour of his soul. Cynics are very human in a way, they do not wish to be alone, they're social animals, but they engage, relentlessly, in nauseous speeches that aim to make the souls of others around them as tar black as theirs. They want to find a corpse to keep them company and they look for the laughter of a peer. Cynics call to each other, standing on hill tops. Why do they forget to fertilise their barren wit with the seed of noble sentiment? I wonder. Why won't they admit they yearn, like you and me, for the transcendence that will make them feel like men among men? Cynicism is to forget that speech is rupture, cure, action, and creation, all at the same time.
There was a time when being a cynic also meant to embrace a cosmopolitan life. He does not remember any of that. And how could he? No one told him that part of the story. They only taught him how to live like a dog, to keep his tail between his legs, to watch.
And we, like him, are all but too afraid to speak the words: love, morality, virtue. “None but the lonely heart”... We hear the song and yet we cannot find the strength to voice it, to tear our lungs open in honest and humble despair to break the mist. Oh, but we deride those who dare!
“They’ll shoot me.”
“I’m a danger.”
“They’ll shoot me.”
“I’m not you.”
“My legs hurt.”
“My feet hurt.”
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lungs wheeze with every
pull of breath
mate’s outro from
even her pelt
couldn’t inhibit the
ritardando of her heart
that silenced her song
the duet of our voices
calling to the void
is now one
as the crescendo
of my hymn fills
the dreary sky with one
when you've lost your speed and there's no control.
Now your strength has gone and the weakness shows,
it's time for another to take on your role.
Though you used to lead and always knew the way,
you are soon outranked by the fit and young,
who lie in wait as you perform the test
and show no respect for the song you sung.
They will stop you moving and they'll cut you off,
until the territory boundary's on the farthest side.
You might howl at the moon but your call's unheard,
for you've already started on the Lone Wolf's ride.
he knows, as we all know
down what path our instincts take us
the slow-fast journey,
the unknown familiars,
learned blood and learning senses
converging in twilight
beyond thoughts, beyond horizons
where stored memories return
beneath our feet, stretched in sleep
awaiting future travellers.
that famous Duran Duran video.
I shunned the comical loot
offered for the next X-Men shoot.
No way fellas was the growl
when the FC wanted a stadium prowl.
The moon was rejected next.
Comply with her phases? I’ll take the hex.
So all I do now is go on,
waiting for the return of Warren Zevon.
For him, I’d be anyone, everyone.
God. I miss him so.
House of straw! House of wood!
When they came banging
on my good strong door,
I said No.
I thought Your fault, not mine;
I got myself a beer,
turned up the telly when
the squealing started.
But later that night
there were voices saying:
What sort of an animal are you?
And what about that wolf?
Maybe there’s more than one kind of wolf.
Maybe we summon our own wolves.
And the more I tried
to ignore them, the
louder they got until
I couldn’t stand it and
when I shut my eyes
to make them stop
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...against the pink sky the bones are still crackling
refusing to melt in the heat. The fire that lit up
anecdotes now folds winter in your eyes. Are you
the same that howled for Princess Vasilisa? Her
hair brush was a forest of fresh seasons. This mist
rises from your cold fur that you couldn't get rid of.
Don't wait for the moon. The threads of dry rivers
have used it to spin a forlorn valley where you would catch her smell; that was a dew eons ago.
These tufts of grass that sleep at your legs are kingdoms
she surrendered for you. Your blood didn't heat up.
When the sky turns red. You might find an address:
You might find fire.
'Son, to be a hunter, you need killer instincts - it's kill or be killed in this world,’ Father advised, looking down on his kingdom at all the tiny men running back and forth. Being young, I didn't understand, I buried my wolf skin, bone deep, in sleeping crevices, hoping never to feel the fur on my back, or the call from the moon. Father was successful, riding the stock market bareback, slaughtering weak Companies, slashing at ideals with merciless claws. What he couldn't annihilate he dominated into submission.
Twenty years later, destiny gripped my chest, the wolf skin surfaced, tightening around my shoulders, my inheritance running through my veins. Smiling, he handed over the Company with privy paw. Standing on the precipice of my kingdom, I barked at the secretary for more coffee, listened to the moon and craved my next victim.
'Son, you need to be more tough, you need killer instincts - it's kill or be killed in this world,’ I advised, looking down on my kingdom at all the tiny men running back and forth. My young son looked at me and smiled, stroking his fur and sucking his thumb. He takes after his grandfather.