- Vol. 04
- Chapter 02
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,
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,
Read more >
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.Read more >
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.Read more >
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?”Read more >
You call I answer
How the game works
At the rest of the world
I'll wait for you
Give me two minutes
With heavenly flashlight
The beach speakers
Listen to the fake sound
None of this is real
We are safely
It lit from the deep
core where our light begins
It shone like a bursting aura,
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
when nothing remains to burn,
you use yourself as a wick,
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
even if you cannot last,
they have seen you.
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 darknessRead more >
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
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?
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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. Read more >
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.Read more >
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, 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.
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.
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.
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?Read more >
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.
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.Read more >
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.