- Vol. 05
- Chapter 10
Open the window to the width of yourself and face out. It’s so close, and you watch it all night, all summer, how it circles and fathoms you. You are prone to it, the gap unhindered, could touch it had you the reach. It presses at your skin, divining fury, even love. In the mornings you undress and rehearse it with paler light, the near wail of swifts. You hear whole forests are on fire, and you feel them now.
Here, in the middle, which is perhaps the start or the end, there is a notion.
If only the eye could stand above, hitched to the hawk as it cuts the air on its widening gyre, then the way out – or perhaps in – might be revealed.
There’s a wisdom in circles. Something ancient that exposes the absurdity of a suit and tie, that traces the unbroken curve between information and knowledge. The arrow loosed to fall forever towards its mark, the archer forgotten.
The notion does not hold. No matter how high the eye might climb, it is drawn back to here: the middle, where movement never started and will never end.
A thrumming shift in the soul’s blood; something understood.
The bones of your face are softening as you recede in the distance. Chin dropping into your neck. Eyes blurring together, the bend of your nose joining your mouth till your face is as smooth as a thumb. I could recognise you just by your walk, by the shock of your hair and the weight of your bag over one shoulder leaning your gait. Soon these too will be unknowable. In the sea of humans, you will be one more shape. Face blotted out against the sun.
Once, your face blurred from being close to mine. The white sheets, too near to see both your eyes. Sunlight blurring my vision. Your lips making unseen advances on mine. Our noses drawn together like a line drawing of a vase. People do this kind of seeing with their eyes closed, with their hands moving over each other’s skins.
And the patient grip of your thumb, printed now on my hip.
We built this city its walls and gullies its red and blue barrios abandoned storefronts narrow alleys barricaded precincts and armories potholed one-way streets besieged redbrick schools houses for sale homes awaiting demolition bars churches city parks a sock ground into the dirt a canvas shoe laces broken a rusty swing comes and goes to the silence of past laughter
We built this city handicap parking outside starfish malls factory outlets close-out-sale banners sun bleached logos billow over JCPenney and Sears memories of Woolworth Levitz Furniture A&P B. Dalton Toys R Us Mr. Movies Sam GoodyRead more >
Your mind, a congruence of aberrant thoughts a serendipitous convergence, you try so fervently to carve your own niche your own identity in this cesspool of clones floating for eons from here to nothing
Your face, a stark reflection of the blatant reality where everyone is trying to be unique like the blueprint or the map carved out by the swirls of their thumbs pressed on paper you believe yours is unique don't you?
Your voice trying to break the cacophony in that tumultuous mind of yours a silhouette of silence, Read more >
whorled – a face replaced by candy lollipop licked grinning from ear to ear untraceable Duchamp-able surrealist uncle brick stuck thick perhaps you were too quick to insult the artist and now your hat has been taken and reframed anonymously by hypnotic head pinned to dust wall toxically shocked reduced to a thumbprint unrecognisable still
They watched us — when we walked beneath the wall, when we scaled it and looked out over the top at what we told the children was somewhere they mustn’t go, and where, when you were old enough, you looked with an empty feeling, a sudden feeling, that turned over in you before you looked away. At night, street lights cast a pale light that picked out the camera lenses’ white glass eyes. In the day the cameras were less sinister, but the eyes of the men themselves followed you now, with those pupils like bullet holes, as you walked to work, as you walked down the road with your thoughts, or with the thoughts of someone you’d just met and wanted no one else to know. The red spirals appeared overnight as if by a grand illusion — no one knew who, or how — blotting out first a mouth, then an eye, then two, not the whole face, not at first, and we used to walk beneath the wall, feeling afraid that they would know we were pleased that their eyes and their mouths had been blotted out. And then for one glorious period, a week perhaps, maybe two, the whole faces were painted over with those beautiful red spirals — silenced, blinded, struck dumb — and we walked through the streets talking, thinking, and looking like we never had before and haven’t since.
At first, I smugly thought the lines were the whorls of my thumbprint. my imprint upon your features— you who blended so easily Into the wall of my existence. Then, examining more closely, I realized the pattern detected was the whirl of that “Mystic Hypnotizing Trick” toy you carry in your pocket. Whirling, whirling, you press until it covers your face, and become a whirlpool slowly drawing me into your depths, your darkness— deeper than I really want to go, drowning me in you.
Washing machines are running at the same time, but I am alone in launderette. The motors of each machine growl and wash the human shaped objects which are losing their subjects.
In the dryer, the logo of T-shirt is dancing...
RIO QUENTE! GORGEOUS SPA!
In the next dryer, colourful pareo is cooling down the heat source of magma.
It is a hot day today. Shaking at full power to blow away sweat, the black suit himself enters the dryer. He has no face.
― Oh, check for coins and cards in your pocket. Poster on the wall says so.
I urge the black suit to pay attention.
― I have no chicken feed.
From the quiet dryer, he is only bluffing.
― I have appeared in James Bond films. Also I stood on the stage of The Blues Brothers. But I am a suit. It was Sean Connery who was operating Aston Martin DB5s, it was Dan Aykroyd who was playing the harmonica. Understand? A suit without a subject is just a container. Or, cargo. Cargo carrying the brain which is in thought.
In the quiet dryer, he speaks in muted voice.Read more >
we thought so fervently about love, about trust, we hoped for so much. and whilst for some, we didn't hope for enough. for others, we hoped for too much.
all these thoughts fall with such quiet simplicity.
a petal on the edge of winter we are.
there was no fighting the snow or crying summer back into our lives.
there were amicable realisations, to let the world give us a course and find the wisdom within us to follow it. adapt accordingly.
because trying to fit a square into a circle was a tired religion.
and at least here we find peace, breathe again,
blow control to the wind
it had been ours.
You left your thumbprint behind my eye, strands of fate woven by your desperation to keep the pieces of your life glued together. You left your imprint in the shape of my hands, the machinations of my mind and the words that deftly escape the confines of my mouth. You left your fingerprints on my childhood, torn at the seams by genetic predisposition, the gradual fading of laughter into the sun. You left your boot print in the pit of my throat, plucked my voice out with your disappearing act and left me on the pavement to mend my own wounds
this body persists tonguing from behind
this banquet of rings punctuated by the habit of living
this open muted yell, sick as secrets, ever sinking into place
like buttons over the clatter of dice in a cup with spiral thin necessity
this trauma in exile pressed molded anchored sybaritic urgency to just spit in a straight line
this triumph over distance
'That friendly guy off BBC Business, Ben...? No way, it's definitely Jimmy Carr – ears! Both wrong, woman in drag, smooth skin Who, then, who?! – Female with big ears? Jo Caulfield, Fringe stand-up, writer; hair dye Nah! – Could be a rugby player?/Nice ears?! Running back or a winger, not forward bruiser; I'll go for Gavin Hastings, old picture/Nae way! Good fingerprint spirals, anyway, which reminds me; When's final series of superior crime drama 'Spiral' – One with Gilou, Tintin, Laure Berthaud – on BBC4?'
You don’t know me.
You see a suit and a tie and invent, what, a lawyer? a trader?
You see a penthouse with stunning, panoramic views of a bank account as wide and endless as the sprawling city below.
I might smell of fast cars, foreign holidays, or just a hint of private jet
and to you my voice might be a mellow blend of malt whiskey Read more >
Every smile, every kick, every comment sweet or sour has pressed its print on you, my snarled-up man, once a lonely child. It's hard to understand what came from where and you resist unpicking stitches, poking scabs and scars and hardened skin, you prefer containment of your toxins deep within. There's the rub. When your fingers fist up, your tongue fires bullets, your face scowls you print on me, infect my love and leave me feeling foul. I know you'll grieve now my full stop has finished our sentence, once and for all. Dear one, I'd wished for another ending. I stayed too long in hope but bruises from your thumb prints left me numb and worse, adroit, fit to perform small cruelties of my own. I wish you a new life, without punches given or received, freedom from loveless annihilation.
Now, There will be no you. There will be no me. Just this moving on. You left I stayed. Our heart is a pendulum of Backward pasts and forward futures And we – just moving present entities. Emptying and filling again Our empty pitchers of life, Seeking the flow of water That will once and for all suffice. Until then this seeking continues in the search of a flowing stream. You see, it is infinite Though you and I are not here now. But you and I were here before; You and I will be here again.
Today I saw a picture of a fingerprint face, And I thought I was Dorian Gray. My suspicions wouldn’t go away, Though I tried to laugh off the sight: “Is his tie on too tight,” I jeered, “Or did he tie on one too many last night?”
It was more fundamental than that. He didn’t have eyes, But he stared at me so hard From the center of his whorl, That the world spun out of control.
Vertigo! Falling down, down, down, From the ivory tower!
He had one black ear and one Caucasian, Symbolic of the strife that makes the world go ‘round.
I continued to speculate…
Perhaps a vortex had been formed Between consciousness and its objects— The two holding together the one, The one disintegrating into an abyss That sucks everything into its nothingness?
It is just as though God’s thumb came down At the moment you started to pray, Squashing your visage as if it were clay. Now you can be assured You are created in His image.Read more >
When I was a child if someone passed over we moved in like a blanket to cover and cover for the spouse who remained.
For he / she was knocked out knocked over unable to do, think, be.
Pills and sleep, spoon fed. This was grief to me.
So I sit here now and ponder in all our connectivity ... interconnectedness online have we become less connected to life real, true, flesh and blood life?
Our relations and connections offline. Are they as deeply rooted? Have we spread ourselves too thin between two dimensions?
It seems now when a spouse is lost the first thing we do is
upload a photo and write a long text:
"You were my everything ..."
as we sit uncovered at our desk.Read more >
Mother had a wall of photos of those adored and famous and would light candles to them and stroke the images and glare at me, then a toddler, beneath them. You're already so small, she would say, but next to this wall of titans you seem less than the dot at the end of a sentence. You seem like the afterthought of an atom. You seem like the rumor of a person long after he has ceased being discussed. Read more >
It is measurably damaging to confess —
I left my prints in the woods.
I am wearing the city, I am wearing the house, I am wearing the dog, I am wearing my drive-through coffee mug.
I am late.
I confess that, too.
I ride my bicycle to work. I walk to work. I drive to work. I am driven, one way or the other, to work.
I am my Adam’s apple.
I have to confess — there are articles of clothing in the woods. Small piles of them between glacial boulders, hung in oak and pine trees; edging streams and trickles of streams. They coagulate sometimes as mossy bundles. They belong to the woods.
I must confess — I am wearing some of these articles of clothing now. They fit like a charm. They support my work.
They support the city and its work. They support walls with graffiti and tall buildings with construction workers and scaffolding. Urban sewer systems and underground infrastructure. Transit systems. Street lunches.
They belong to the woods. I confess I have been to the woods.
I left my prints there.
They say that ears are as unique as fingerprints, so I’ve committed a crime using just my ears to see if they will find me.
My mother always said, ‘You can get away with anything If you pretend to have the confidence.’ I think she mainly used this to fake her way into buildings to use their restrooms.
I’ve been wearing the earrings every day since I stole them, walking down city streets, letting the lights glitz off them, and they whisper, ‘Isn’t she beautiful?’ and they whisper, ‘Isn’t she something?’ and I have never felt less paranoid or more balanced.
He was always inside looking out, dressed in his smart, dark suit, the only sign of his humanity a sorrowful black tie. Faceless and mute, he daubed his emotions in murals of citycapes and skies painted brick by brick on public walls all over town, taming his tremor, trapped in an Archimedean spiral of no return.
"Stand on the footprints. Keep still. Look into the machine. Do not blink."
The scanner delves you through your retina. "The eyes are the window to the soul." Yeah, yeah.
Your baby blues, conker browns, vodka shots – they videoed all your deeds – good and bad.
Except those so bad you had to hold tight, squeezing shut so not to see them through...
and those when only blissful blindness could be their proper accompaniment.
The scanner whirrs, retrieves the print of your life and cross references it with some database.
This then is who you are: capillary swirls – a barcode pricing your criminal nature.
A fat boy coughs. You never thought Judgement Day would be so much like entering America.
you think you know me i’m black i’m white asian latinx muslim catholic hindu buddhist jewish man woman straight gay bi transgender young old able-bodied handicapped you limit identifiers to fit your excel sheets to keep me from myself ourselves from ourselves
yes you have your lists your barcodes social security numbers and signatures registration forms and passports footprints fingerprints retinal scans usernames and birth certificates customs officers and ICE too just in case we or I have snuck into your precious precinct crossed some arbitrary border no squirrel or fox or crow would recognize
but you don’t know me i’m feral or revert to wild when i’m cornered when your henchmen tally us with gunshots as we fill the streets join our hands so different Read more >
Love is to attraction as a labyrinth is to a maze. A man of a thousand cul-de-sacs, the skeletons that never reached his heart hold plates of pasta, bags of petrified cookies just like grandma's. The real entrance to his core hides under his hat, and no one's lost in that mine but the architect himself, awed by the roses and sky.
Down cellar in the old green house in Amherst Mass, five different shades of green, I found a box of someone’s relatives, swollen with the damp. Long ago, he moved away, Thinking to leave behind All claim to kinship. The sepia of long-steeped tea, they speak a century of carefully-recorded births and deaths: Grandma, white hair sparked with frost, waits out winter on the porch. A proud entrepreneur beside his enterprise, sign announcing “Pool Table Sandwiches.” Yet even as these details stand the seep of winter and the summer storm, I see someone has quite deliberately de-faced these stout progenitors. More shocking somehow than a skull, their faces now a slur of white marked only with the print of one damp thumb. Despite the clear desire to blot out everything, this unwilling heir has left his portrait among theirs. Beyond the power to deny, DNA’s spiral calligraphy scrolls through his veins. This scion—ambivalent, anonymous, loses nothing in the move.
It usually starts like this, having lost control again, Joy Division percussion rattling inside his skull. The suit holds him up, a suit of armour, which in theory should be heavy and claustrophobic but luckily, it isn’t. He starches his clothes (shirt collars in particular), a remnant from a previous century, and the stiffness which this ritual brings acts as an iron lung. Breathe, in and out, another ritual which is absolutely necessary in order to cheat the tide. It’s impossible to master it, but he has become accustomed to cheating (other people, the law, death) now that he has joined this underworld of villainy.
All it took was an unremarkable face. His, the sort of face possessed by countless administration assistants and bank clerks and insurance salesman. Nothing exceptionally ugly or exceptionally beautiful. Just a face, with two eyes, one nose, one mouth, and everything the expected palette of beige-pink-brown. His face was his ancestors’ gift to him, the accumulation of generations of suffered marriages and saintly marriages and sentimental marriages.
See? Nothing out of the ordinary.
He has to reconstruct his face during these episodes, gaining perspective on the world which has become a teeming mass of pursed lips and jug-like ears. The first step is to adjust his breathing, the second is to select the most unremarkable features in order to build the image he seeks. He is the corporeal Mr Potato Head, centring himself and finding his nose. The third step is to stop panicking and pull your knickers up, man. There is a time and place for feelings like these. It doesn’t matter that you’ve not found that time or place, doesn’t matter that there isn’t one.
[Sorry, I’ve got a panic attack scheduled for half past two, couldn’t you wait?]Read more >
I became lost in the labyrinth of your mind.
I tried to follow gnomic wisdom to stick your hand against the walls and to keep heading in the same direction. Thus I spiralled right, but your neurons did not fire concentric.
Your synapses snapped in my wake, closing up my escape. I apprehended they were shepherding me towards the medial. The pattern of your brain forged into a target, with me in its sights. A cocooned bug ensnared in the viscid strands of your grey matter.
Jeremy thought he glimpsed a fifties taxi, runner-board and all, disappearing beyond Saint Anne’s. Curious and depressed, he trudged newly-fallen snow to investigate. Rounding the chapel wall he scanned the short avenue. It was devoid of traffic. No tracks spoiled the pristine white blanket covering the weary asphalt and paving. Less a shroud than a cocoon shielding the spent surfaces while they bubbled into new life, the snow seemed to defy the eerie silence. Jeremy felt a passing urge to lay himself down and be reborn without the baggage. He blinked tears away, blushing in anticipation of onlookers. But there were no eyes to observe – only the grimy windows of the breakfast bar at the corner. A blonde sat at the window – her sensuous primrose top all but see-through under dull fluorescents. She turned and smiled as he traversed the road and pushed blindly through the saffron-framed door, drawn by a frightening sexual magnetism. Her smile brightened. A cold hand gripped his heart and he almost collapsed. It was only when a yellow cab pulled up outside the window that his peril dawned on him. His hands clawed in tortured supplication in her direction before he crashed back through the door and retreated across the street, giving the taxi a wide berth. From the safety of the chapel wall, cold against his cheek, he swivelled an eye in the direction of the squandered romance. She was blushing furiously and staring dead ahead. “Bloody xanthophobia,” he moaned into the grouting, before retreating into the shadows of an overhanging laurel, using that cover to escape his failure and drag his feet back to his flat – a box which the lack of love disqualified as a home. Read more >
They came, men in black wearing suits and a rucksack that didn’t crease their jackets. They seemed kind, clean–cut, well-spoken, firm, Mid-Atlantic… "Meter readers." They were, they said. And, "Did I want to be read?" Asked to come in. Put my head in a spin.
"Hold your hand out…Begin…"
Once told: only the worst things are revealed in static silent symmetry. To fracture is to be rendered invisible and bring an end to the hunt. You are not there yet. There is more work to be done. Please don’t go so soon – you’ve barely begun to know yourself. If you must leave, remember this: one day a walker on paved streets is what you promised us. Wanderers who, at length, desire to be the cracks, be the thing another falls into. Be the bad luck of it all. I beg of you, please, don’t forget that a brick can be more than a cell of a prison wall; it can also be a canvas. Take with you a measure of my peace but keep asking, what will you do when the walls build in around you and the world is left without?
They know who I am. Hairs on my head bristle. When they are close They sense fear and humiliation. I am not like them and I do not like them.
It’s not that I am special, I’m not. But refuse to play their games, kiss and tell, rapo and condemn.
I am lucky still to be myself, Unusual in this tinsel town? But you pay with your life.
Sometimes he felt like a man with no face, his face space occupied by a swirling mist of confusion. So he had to wait for it to settle down to see what emerged, wait to find his face for that day. Sometimes it was exciting, but only sometimes. Sometimes he wished for a blank space that he could fill himself with a Magritte apple. Or maybe a luscious peach would be self-fulfilling. Sometimes he wished he could wear the same face every day, wake up with it in place and know it would stay, know what he would be every day.
That jaw line isn’t you. Those cheekbones are not you.
You corrupted your own structure for validation.
Did you crumble under your own volition, or did the pressure of others strike at you, your face as a tin drum, their eyes a fleet of microscopes sliding you under their lens?
Is your skin really alabaster, or is there just plaster adorning your visage?
Are you still able to smile under the weight of injections?
Do you have any reason to smile, their cameras having left you jaded, anhedonic?
The camera loves this theory of façade, but what love have you have left for yourself?
Conformity Dress codes Denied vacations Overtime Advancement through marriage to the company Political correctness Manicured personalities Your electronic presence is constantly monitored Abandonment of individuality Constant threats of lack of security The ladder-climbing protagonist Spending more time tweaking PowerPoint slides than actually working The offensive brown nose Human Resources are there to protect the company and not the employee Please do not let the door hit you in the arse on the way out You are salaried, rather you are slaveried
There was a man no—many men
who touched me mouthed me ate me.
I swabbed their cheeks with my tongue.
I see them in my son and daughter
though they are not their fathers.
And women, too, many times over.
Anyone who ever changed me
has entered me. I have a gate
with no lock permeable as the skin
of a cell block. Molecular as connective
tissue and equally empty. Stay awhile.Read more >
“The old home town just looks the same”, I’m happy to tell you – excepting, that is, your mural. It’s somehow *evolved*. Over night, it’s said. Your masterwork’s not what it was.
Instead of that quizzical face, there’s this vortex. Hypnotic thumbprint throbbing through the wall. Your suit survives. Amazed, a pair of ears, perhaps tuned into heaven, or the soundtrack from hell –
who knows? Bemused, of course, I stepped a touch closer and peered like a speculant tourist. At once the thing hummed into life! How it *whirred*; I felt my cowardice wisely reassert itself...
It wasn’t the happiest homecoming. Off I shot, retreating from my waking dream, bricking up the vision that I’d seen. Our town: “like a derelict man who has died out of shame...”
(With apologies to Jarvis Cocker)
They peer at me through a lens. They want to confirm if I am who I say I am and imagine that the retina has the final word. Even the technology resting in my hands insists that I trust the lens.
They think my face is my fingerprint.
As if fingerprints are alive and ready with all answers.
I wish this were true. I wish my face had lines going around in circles the way my thoughts do. I wish my thoughts moved either inwards or outwards without ever crisscrossing each other in unknown bizarre ways. I wish life were as simple as an optical illusion that the mind knows and accepts as one. I wish there wasn’t a face with all its ridges, spurs, chasms, and a landscape that changed with the light and the darkness of moments. Then I’d have remained unchanged over the years with just a few measly lines turning grey.
The face, however, is in many ways similar to an iceberg where thoughts deep inside are the real navigators. It is these wily navigators that are responsible for everything from early melting to rapid meltdowns to deliberate surprises in the pitch dark for boats and cruise ships to allowing seals, walruses, penguins and others to pop up on its deck to pose for the paparazzi. An entire cosmos exists right there on the face, as it does on an iceberg. One can see the dance of the universe there only if one wishes to… after all, this is what Krishna showed Arjuna in the Mahabharata, didn’t he?
And yet we sometimes cannot or do not wish to face the face. We hide behind a curtain of inscrutability so we can remain unaccountable. Save all that is unreadable and carefully pin it on. This is all you need to start in the world of politics. This is all that my father said as he thrust a piece of paper towards me to sign. This form, once filled, would launch me as a worker in the political party that he now patronized.
Isn’t it strange how things unravel anticlockwise in the night, as if thoughts, blindfolded, spiral homeward into
the past? In the morning, even in the half-glow of dawn, you can float away from yourself, changing their direction,
the end of the trembling dark clutched tight in your hand, deliberately unwinding pain through a labyrinth of forced
possibilities. Time, then, is just a cruel trick of the light. Or maybe, love is. I remember lying on our backs on the
sand, the sky close, beginning at the end of our skin, stars finding the hollows under our nails, clouds moving
in dextral whorls around a proximate moon. Or maybe we were just looking at it wrong. Maybe it was day. Maybe it
was us whirling and there was one nebulous cloud in the centre blurring the sun. Maybe we weren’t next to each
other, a deception of trajectory and distance and touch, the twisted path a long way to reach an inevitable end.
She drew him on the bricks –
this was her resistance.
Skin had grown up between them by now, the
protective globe of a light bulb
flaring in and flaring out
it was springy to the touch like a
thick sheet of translucent rubber.
Could you have seen his face for the circling?
They like to say, "You can't see the forest for the trees."
But she kept on drawing him here and there
every one a note of resurrection or
candy-striped, placental wishing.
Constant thoughts encircle my mind Keeping me trapped in a no-exit maze Walled up from behind Hypnotic madness from within A deafening silence ringing in my ears
Trapped I feel the walls, the barriers closing in Soon to crush me Leeching out my brains Flattening my skull Like an MRI plate
The blinding spiralling maze Has smashed In a deafening crash Flattening me into the wall Like a fly Swatted on a wall
Stood before a lego-brick landscape Blocking out the beyond My face is open for you to read Focus, focus on me You are relaxed, feeling sleepy Time to start, hit transmit, pitch Messages taking you in a downward spiral Going viral, reflecting the screen Scene, seen, reem … sucker Follow my thread, to my minotaur labyrinth Of puzzles and lies, prizes for likes A spike on Instagram Subscribe to my vine Looping round and round and round Hip, hype, hypnotic This blood of the snake, chasing its tail Jormungandr, eating itself as the world ends
tunnel in his head.
A time tunnel. Memory.
The tunnel runs in both directions. The future hits him in the face
as catastrophically as the past smacking him from behind
as it smashes into the future that hits him in the face as it –
each obliterates the other on contact so that
there is no present moment to be in.
René is only in the sense that he is never-ending now
pulled in all directions along the tunnel
until they bleed one into the other
untilRead more >
Circle the city outside the walls, inside the walls Circle the square with tanks and snipers Circle the names of those who have ever raised voices (or even an eyebrow) against you Circle the books in the library for banning and in each book circle the words you never want spoken Circle the city hall with guards and invite your own circle into your sanctum to submit their bids for favoured fiefdoms in nice round numbers ending with many, many zeroes
Hey Jimmy, c’mere, check this out! Similar to ours, the original C2R2OH that helped us keep everyone asleep. Ours was blue, This is the counter app – Don’t look, Jimmy, it’s moving, spinning The ears and neck, familiar – Amazing! Bigger lines, bright red on a brick background, a map of sorts, different though, a fingerprint of the mind, Yea, yea, concentric circles, Don’t stare at it, Jimmy, it’s hypnotic, sucks you in, a kind of mask that supplants the face, hides it, revealing a litany of coded Facebook insults, a search that Google can’t locate or deliver, It’s infecting me! Read more >
you dog hind legs like a lotus flower stealing the sun from the middle of the night
when I had a face and it showed nothing more or less than all there was to see, the blue of your purse strings invisible and growing, damp as my father's hip pocket nerve need to control, divide and conquer
they wound around my ankles, accordions of blood and bone, skipping fibrillation beasts
you said it wasn't true, that love comes free of charge, expensively open and convex, circling in its own self-admiration and accessories of quality
one day we ran into the red void, my faceless face a beacon, something special like a sixth toe or an Anne Boleyn sleeve we held, two birds on the sea
bark bark, bite piss the light fandango and curl, how we curl when the clouds no longer fold and hold us while the air grows dank like a Sharpies' Connie cardie creeping
can you hear the Tom Bowler hat leaves whistling black? one day love will hunt me down like a burning stone, its tongue wagging
I barely noticed the world was an indefinite wobble, the infinite days becoming months and years. I barely noticed the break of day, the wind chiseling words in my ears. There are no secrets in the whiff of night, the drip drip of a liar who’s broken from within. There are no secrets in a mirror, in a look that feeds on hungry skin. I dreamt there were no secrets in the break of day, and the world was an indefinite wobble.
Email targets you. Junk mail targets you. Hate mail targets you. The Daily Mail targets you. All your male colleagues, even your male friends, target you. They’ve stopped texting or calling but they’re there, in the shadows. They’re know all your faults. They’re out to get you.
You’ve stayed inside for months.
A door slams and you leap out of bed. Now they’re coming. Now they’re in the passage. Now you’re in the cupboard. But when you realise what you thought were footsteps is actually the hammering of your heart, when you realise what you thought was your front door slamming was next door’s (it’s just done it again), you fall out of the cupboard and stumble into your room.
It’s light. Daylight. But the light is peripheral. It’s been like that for months, but this time you put your hands to your face. This time you take off the thing that’s stuck to your face. It hurts, and it takes a long time. But when it’s finally gone you have to shield your eyes against bright bright sunlight. And tend your wounds. And bin the target, and the hate mail and the junk mail and the Daily Mails. And set secure email filters. And go outside. Nervously. And bump into a friend who says he’s missed you. For the first time in months.
I’ve reached the end each step counting back cold, colder, coldest my mind is empty
Each step counting back through abandoned spaces my mind is empty deeper and deeper into nothing
Through abandoned spaces absence becoming deeper and deeper into nothing devoid of ripples or tides
Absence becoming a vacant mirror devoid of ripples or tides eerily calm
A vacant mirror cold, colder, coldest eerily calm I’ve reached the end
I cannot face you now can see how you've spiralled out of control in such a cowardly graphic manner with another one of your masks where it's not possible to see eye to eye – you so often defy cliché with silence when your back's against the wall and I make more sense of its graffiti
I know you hear me when I speak although that's neither here nor there what we mean to each other is now a question mark – clearly you will not say while bricked in issues just go round in circles and you hope they will be painted out
I fled the city leaving the mayhem of broken patterns and false etiquette.
I descended deep on moving stairs into the womb of the labyrinth where, with a slow slide to stop, doors opened for me, I was suited.
Closeted in a carriage with the low hum of a contented straight line, ears lulled by the song of the stations. Spots on lines with the promise of return.Brick walls flash past painting me on their linear comfort.
In my head order prevails, a symmetry spiralling into a pivot of sameness. A symbol of contented anonymity.
Seventeenth week of mam's pregnancy my fetus friction ridges fully form arch, loop and whorl,
My basal layer buckles and folds in several directions, forces complex shapes. Not barkskin growth rings light and dark, a seasonal response.
Rather as if someone thumbs out my face or mine theirs, erase facial recognition on a photo, stain the image with sand dune ripples, tropical fish stripes, convecting fluid patterns,
von Karman vortices, air or liquid currents move in opposite directions, curl clouds.
Insects speed and manoeuvre borrow energy from their wing made von Karman vortices,
this blotted face buckles and folds with age.
Go on, then. Take a pop at it if you’ve a mind.
I’ve tried every single day since the announcement.
He always was a bit of a stuffed shirt, but fair.
This week I may as well be talking to a brick wall.
He stands there, just like butter wouldn’t melt, but I can tell.
This job has her fingerprints all over.
My face is like an endless maze One way in No way out Enter my mind If you dare But be warned There is no escape Follow the years on my face Full of twists and turns Dead ends That constantly circle back You fell into my trap You were warned Enjoy your journey As my face Consumes you Savoring your cries for help Laughing at your panic As you realize You are trapped in my maze And you are now My latest poem
Like a tattoo, a touch sinks deep into the skin, Seeping downwards, trickling past each layer, The blackness inside calling, crawling, from within, It is hard to adjust, hard to grasp an answer in a prayer. No preparation, nothing to cling to for support, Alone we must go to discover something we thought was lost, Residual desperation lurks, in anger and fear we wish to abort, Tenacious emotions strip bare weaknesses at any cost.
Thoughts work like arrows, or a dagger, or a spear, Incessantly driving a sharpness into the soul. Looking now it all appears to be so clear, The mind is a judge, sentencing us to an inescapable hole, Climbing, clambering, exhausted in toil we adhere, Until something is found to fill the emptiness, take its toll. Something bright, something strong, something dear, Completing the puzzle, from which a piece the melancholy stole.
It is as shocking and crisp as a perfectly moulded snowflake, Little compares to the uniqueness of the experience. Recklessly bounding, it overwhelms the senses, startled awake Hard to describe and little is known of its essence, A vulture feasting on carrion for its own sake. Ignored, it ignites its prey, begging for acquiescence. Calling into a void, patiently waiting for something to break, Yet it thrives through the tumultuous affair with iridescence.Read more >
another brick in the wall as the story goes never trust a suit a faceless spiral in the rat race crowd no better than a barcode no more than a fingerprint on an RFID chipped hand what's the world coming to when we accept the beast's mark willfully unabashed and unfazed where have all the dreamers gone in a place built upon their backs blurry and left behind
He examined me over his pint glass, which he'd raised to cover the lower half of his face, cider tipped and still against the wall of his lips, while he tried to think. Surely, he’d had better training than this? People working at Vauxhall Cross should surely have to attend 'A Basic Introduction on How to Avoid Being Spectacularly Bad at Lying'? I raised an eyebrow and, caught, he lowered the cider and laughed, nervous.
‘Don’t think you understand what I’m saying, Rupert,’ he said, loosening his tie. ‘It’s not that I can’t tell you, it’s that I CAN'T tell you. Do you see?’
I did not see. I ate a pistachio to indicate as much.
‘Can’t tell you,’ he repeated, leaning into the stressed word this time, knuckles white on the sticky table. ‘Literally, unequivocally cannot. Even if I wanted to, which I don’t, or at least I don’t think I want to, do I?’
I swallowed. ‘You seem very stressed. Are you feeling alright?’
‘Ah! There he is! There he is. First thing you say…Well, thank you for being concerned, but I’m quite alright. Really.’ He raised his pint, then put it back down again. ‘Now, stop it, Rupert. Stop watching me like that.’
I smiled and blinked.
‘Look, I…’ He glanced around at the other patrons in the pub. It was his lunch hour, but he’s come so far on the tube that we only had five minutes together in the end. He’d had no time to order food and he drank quickly, which wasn’t helping matters. ‘You don’t know what it’s like. There are so many things spiralling around in that place, like insects fluttering in your face, and you can’t stick a pin in them, oh no.’Read more >
As I looked into his eyes, I became quite hypnotized My mind went blank, his name was Frank He asked my name but nothing came I heard his voice, I had no choice I simply stared like I was scared He spoke again, I saw a grin And when he smiled my heart raced wild And to this day, I’d have to say, I never could quite look away
An optical delusion, A cataract philosophy, that our story begins with the folding of patio chairs; holding temporary stories of those wearing the suits and ties.
The only history worth preserving, Which continuously measurers our performances as individuals learning how to climb.
Somehow, when we trade in our patio chairs for Aeron chairs the air-conditioned breath seems to desiccate our solace.
The pressing of keys begins to construct images, The forming of words that turn into the sentence; I’m not sure if a suit and tie is what I want anymore.
You become lost in this forest Where bricks replaced the pure green scenery and your name plate reads a name you no longer recognize
Then you pick up a brush, You taint it in red. A passion grows where the cataract philosophy begins to erase. The sentiments fill the mirror with a pentimento face Maybe, you can wear your suit and tie with flip-flops to this new canvas; An unfinished painting where you’re still defining its ongoing purpose.
Obliterated by the vortex The human diminished. Where once there was a person, Now stands a vacuum. Ideas sucked in, disappearing in the hollow where once a brain abided.
Brick upon brick of oblivion shouted out from the target masking any hope of survival.
The perfection of symmetry forbade any inclusion of individuality. What will be re-built to fill the void?
Face upon face will appear each with its own fingerprint, seemingly alike but not, adding mayhem to normalcy.
Let the masses of humanity disappear behind their masks. Life will go on.
Walled out, walled in, not part of the team.
Invisible; sat in front of a screen. Same place tomorrow; same internal scream.
Dependable, but usable. Always there; forgettable.
Identity lost; too late to reclaim.
A faceless face; someone to blame for someone’s gain.
It all stops here at the end of the chain.
Bodies, numbers, figures. Details enlisted in the state's registry, Mark my belongingness on its terrain.
Beneath this fine thumbprint, scanned and stored by the state, lies an individual. Inaccessible. An identity, too fine to be captured in the fine lines of a thumbprint. Entangled stories flow deep within that inaccessible self. Telling tales of a strange kind. Gibberish. Does that scare the state? Oh my my!
Wearing a mask, a valid, recognisable self I walk around. On the streets, beneath the glaring street lights. Chaotic stories giggle within. Unrecognisable. Strange stories of the self.
I see this and I see that but mostly what I see is the fuzzy sort of nothing that comes from seeing too much too fast, a distinctly indistinct pattern which is insistently telling you that if you crack me, do your signal / noise thing that apparently your temperament and talents make you well suited for (so you kept being told by people who could read your eyes but not your heart) well maybe you might just save the world;
oh but probably not, I mean we’ve all the seen the news, the hot news, the burning news, the apocalypse won’t be as warm as this! news, but you know the real headline is ‘Fortress Europe Can’t Keep Out All The Climate Change Migrants’, and all the brand onions you slice while wearing your thin on-trend suit won’t put that into culture, will it.
keep away from the man with the spiral face, you don’t want to find he’s the human race
you thought other people should be as kind as you but you don’t want to find that you’re not kind too
so keep away from the man with the spiral face who stands like you in the same damn place
Even the slightest glimpse of his face leaves me dizzy …delirious… …halfway to demented; held motionless in the stillness of his gaze, …mesmerised… like a mouse, …waiting… for the rattlesnake to strike…
and that’s perfectly okay; you see… he’s placed his thumbprint on my soul… and it’s, really, all the identification that I need…
i l,oathe the me THAT ICKY FACE COVERED IN ACNE AND SCARS in re,flections i see THAT ARROGANT STANCE AND POISE in mi,rrors or WHEN I LOOK I TURN wind,ow pane,s or INTO ONE OF THE BLIND MICE: p,icture fr,ames or COMMA S,P,LICE........ . ... .. even glas,s tables ................ ..... or new,ly-furnished tables
there is a sucking at the base of the spine when it starts an unfolding a black hole twisted up close to the nape of the neck tugging loosening every segment
there are no physical changes the doctor assured me with plain words a tape played in the office patients serene with certain smiles on the screen standing at the end of it there are no physical changes even when we went through the mental effects streamlined and simple it all makes sense until it starts happening how could a straight line on a graph a jolt and a release feel so uncontrolled they didn’t warn me about this is something w r o n g
please sit still, sir. it feels like that. the procedure is at work.
they’re slipping now falling out of me into space obsolete as soon as they drop out of my mind latex gloves will remove them from wherever they land Read more >
these are the things that choke you – starch and bleach the stiff disguise of black on white all those obvious displays of over-achievement the caffeine that drove you through all your good years toward the blurred promise of button-downed success forever in the background beyond the whitewashed, firing line
you must now decide to take your place in front of, or behind your wall constructed of slow and hollow time as you stand, an older man, alone a vortex of all the mediocrity you cannot live up to
City life, Money in, Money out, Crisis.
Suited up, for meetings with clients, Always rushing, Ideas racing, Heart pounding, Constant texting, Late night partying.
Trying to keep one step ahead of the others, Relentless bargaining, Chasing leads, Rewiring your personality, to accommodate the expectations of shareholders, stakeholders and bosses of financial palaces.
No time to unscramble your life, Before your mind implodes,
Another casualty takes a tumble off the corporate ladder.
“That person’s face,” Lily says, her little voice like sugar. Quiet. Not shy, but unassuming. That is how she is.
“What about it?” I ask, though I’ve seen this bit of graffiti many a time. I walk this road at least twice a day; I’m sure I know it as well as my flat. I’m curious, however, to see what my baby sister will think of this particular painting, one that never fails to disturb me.
“It’s like a lollipop. ”
Oh. That’s a way of looking at it that I never thought of. I guess it is indeed like a lollipop, all red and white swirls.
“When I was little,” I say, “I had a book with a picture of a girl holding a lollipop like that. I wanted one.”
“When you were little was a looong time ago,” Lily giggles.
I shrug. It’s true. I forget how old I’m getting. The years between eighteen and twenty-one – now – feel so fluid. Sometimes I still think of myself as nineteen, before I remember. I suppose that’s uni. Or adulthood. Freedom. At school, each year felt defined and separate. Now, time is a mysterious, moving world I can do whatever I like in.
But at times like these I remember that while I’m doing what I like, I’m getting ever older. Sometimes I envy my sister her routine, the classes she moans about. At least she has a place to be and a task to do.
Is it possible to be too free? Surely not.
But maybe I should take up some more responsibilities.
She tugs at my cuff. “Rose, can we go to the sweet factory sometime?”Read more >
A relationship is hard enough in this digital age – fake news, air brushed photographs, a deluge of alert pings demanding instant answers.
You hung out in my pocket like a dirty handkerchief, folded to hide a morbid suit, funereal black. I guessed from the start you were a fraud, whining for sympathy
as if your mother just died – disguising your face to prevent me seeing the real you but you were wrong to believe me a fool in this duo without the guts to lift that mask.
He is a target – scarlet-faced, shirt-drenched, stippled neck rising from white-collared trench, hot-tipped ears conspicuous as a hare’s. He is skewered by their stares and cowers when their jibes javelin through the air; he swivels on his chair, wounded.
An army of platelets surges, rampaging with fervent urgency through feathered tendrils to fix the damage.
They race, run reckless laps in furious loops, trailing puce, ensnaring him in crimson coils, Read more >
In café booths on station platforms, looking at tracks but never moving, the Fingerprint Men will be there, tracing.
“I shall keep this brief,” I said to myself, “I shall do as I’m told.”
The sun arrived, short-sleeved, and a white car slid by. Everything looked Californian for a second.
“I just wanted to touch base,” he said. “It seems to be moving in the right direction.”
Racing the rats, or heading towards the circus, the Fingerprint Men will be there, cheating on their wives, and smiling.
Before you fell to unawareness, were reduced to unconsciousness, hypnotized,
before you appeared robotized, tranquilized, desensitized, homogenized, lobotomized,
before you became a blurry detail midst the brick and mortar of Wall Street, where ties,
white-collars, and well-coiffed hair colonize in paralyzed force—you were idolized,
recognized as being an individual, one who rarely followed suit.
I woke up with no distinguishing features… Everything about me had been erased I was just a tunnel of data, that had seeped through my fingers Clicks, ticks, likes, dislikes, pictures of cute cats and bombings all rolled and rolled into one
I woke up with no distinguishing features… Feeling or pain, everything aroused and disgusted me but I felt none, it had pumped me into jelly An experiment to see how far they could go Could they eradicate my personality and just go where they told me to go
I woke up with no distinguishing personality… I held their views and attacked those that didn’t I bought at their shops Ate where they ate Tuned into their shows Laughed and hated when they told me to
Then with a trembling finger, I switched myself off
Dr Strauss, focuses his attention onto a speck of my being that I, nor he, knew was there. A superfluous image strikes the veins of the ceiling, with its curvature seeking its optimal weight. It holds currents through its velocity, simmering through the curtains, as if daytime is hiding, peaking even, injecting glycerin through outbreaks of coruscation. the elderly doctor points, and nods the tip of his pen to the table-top. He shimmies in his cracked leather chair, and abbreviates the sign of an illumination, Which sanctifies, and clasps with every breath. Now, every surface of the world is now in existence, and the small opening of the office door, presented a foreign land, full of riches, but much to contemplate and fear.
You speak, I listen To the sound of My voice disappearing under the weight of your suit. A breadth of peacock feathers Yet I’m the one on show. I walk home, silent. Shamed. Abused.
I repeat. Please Don’t take my words and twist them. Anger fires in hot red cheeks. I breathe and calmly speak. Yet I’m Unreasonable. Difficult. Words that don’t come from me.
Morning black-tied, coat furled like an armistice, walking through streets of still houses as lost as a tree deprived
squirrel when all is mapped with piss of dog and rustling hedges. Such a foot-fallen landscape of differences. His old
ghost trains shuffle in with shrill pig-eyed steel, spidering skeltering lamps. So starts the long tunnel of remembering.
It begins with a punctuation of cemetary-bound bridges, a quiet sentence of river slickening underneath. How her
school-walk hands held him knuckle tight along the brick, a twist-wrist of words towing there and back, flotsam jetsam
days, ginned laughter, broken glass, her sudden flaunting sun that always waried him to windowed waiting. An anchored
ciggy corner-shop, rough skinned trees, that salt-green smell of garden green, it all passes by as if her dying makes her live.
Now in an impossible forgiveness of flowers, family stand, cormorants lined up thin-lit along a cliff above her shadow.
Our identity defined by the looping parabolas of our thumb, hypnotically drawing us in to the center, just as surely as that barcode we wear around our necks, a stranglehold –
the concentric spiraling parameters of a life built brick by brick, walled in until the background blurs and all options narrow down to the solidity of what is.
In the forefront we are only black and white; a jutting Adam’s apple attests to original sin, any greenery lies behind in the lost garden. The world as we know it has no dimension.
One ear is on alert, the other one deaf, ignoring any input that doesn’t suit the life that we have so meticulously built.
The maze mind meanders most times in, this
whorl thumbprint on the wall of bricked-in solitude
when the city blurs in my inward eye
circled on itself. You suggest
I look different today as I approach curves
of confusion, lost. You promise
I will find my way, that the path in
turns also out.
I’ve never seen someone like him. He’s wearing a suit. That’s not the weird thing. It’s quite well cut, something my father would admire. Why am I thinking this now? It’s probably to distract from the fact of his face. His face isn’t a face. It’s all white, featureless flatness; that is, except for the neverending red spiral decorating it. It’s the stuff of cheesy hypnosis visuals in an old movie; the kind of uncanniness I’d likely admire if my parents weren’t lying deceased on the living room floor.
His face is directed towards mine, as if he’s looking right at me, but how can you look when you have no eyes? I want to scream, to howl, to run; but I’m stuck to the spot. Like in a dream. But it’s not a dream. The smarting fingernail-shaped cuts on my arm tell me that.
What can I do now but accept my fate?
I close my eyes; I wait.
But nothing happens. No blow to the head, no whack to the legs, no knife to the heart.
I open my eyes and hypnotic man is still where I left him. I stare.
“I can make you forget.”
“What you saw here.”
I notice that I’m shaking violently; my face is wet. Had I been crying this whole time? I suppose I must be very upset. That’s natural, isn’t it? But I can’t feel it right now; I can’t feel anything. And this man is asking me to make a decision. What was it again?Read more >
"Agent Smith, what happened to your face?" "What DO you mean, Mr. Anderson? I can see you clearly like I've always done." "Look in the mirror. You don't have a face. All you have is ... it is like a giant fingerprint." "I see my face." "You mean you're reading the code and it looks right to you." "It's the same thing." "No, it isn't. Not when you don't have a face. Ask another agent."
"He's just trying to rattle you." "I'm not rattled." "Good."
"We were in an interrogation, Mr. Anderson." "We still are, and you still do not have a face." "Enough about me. Answer my question." "I can't. I don't know what to look at. It's just this big red swirl." "What is a big red swirl?" "Your face." "My face?" "Your face." "But you said I didn't have a face." "You don't." "Ok." "It's just a big red swirl." "What is?" "Your face."
Harry pressed his face against the sensor and groaned as he heard the pre-recorded message:
*Imprint not recognised, please try again.*
This was ridiculous. He was standing at the entrance to his apartment block. His wife and family were inside. Bloody technology. He tried again - same message. The third time he tried, a different missive:
*Your account has been blocked. You will no longer be able to access your family unit. Please visit your nearest data centre for reprogramming.*
Harry’s bowels turned to water. This was it. He’d thought Sheila was bluffing when she’d said she’d had enough. In an age of instant gratification, she’d finally got fed up with waiting.
Waiting for him to provide the things she coveted – jewellery, designer handbags, holidays. Waiting for him to prove himself as the sex god she wanted. He’d tried to be that husband – the one she’d ordered online. He was sure the children loved him, but they held no sway in this quick fix world. Now that Sheila had flicked the switch that meant the end of this existence, he realised that he would soon no longer even remember them, nor they he. Tears welled in his eyes.
The innovators, those technological whizz kids, had promised a better world. No need to work at things any more – if it wasn’t working, cut your losses and move on. There was no room for those who didn’t pass muster, who struggled to conform to the new society’s ideals.Read more >
I am the tightest ring in sound waves
circling like a thumbprint on a map
traversing the world's most exotic
vistas to the town’s local watering holes
dribbling down to a very feathered point.
at the end of the itch. Stands the man
demanding all the pretty souvenirs
spices and cloths for his giant pockets
not yours to give.
With the knife at a throat, where does the power lie? My face must tell them; nose so bent it can smell round corners. Eye, a late-night closing. Teenage scar, a ladder across my cheek. Postcards from a youth, now a love letter of depression. Their faces shine with apprentice menace. Looking down at their catch. Who knew the new don’t see the old? It is a game of what are we each willing to give up. Me, a phone, a wallet, a book, my life a creased shirt without a tie. Them, their limited freedom of street feet pacing, chasing, never losing face in the face of others. The zero sum game of a death equals prison. It doesn’t add up but everyone keeps on counting.
He was there every day, standing looking at her. Cardboard cut-out he might have been, but to Marjorie he was real, so precisely did he resemble Gerald. Down to the shape of his ear lobes, which were unlike anyone else's.
She tried asking in the shop whether they could move him, but the girl gave her some gobbledygook about the figure being 'part of the merchandising', and said it was not 'down to her' anyway. Marjorie was going to ask to see the manager at that point, but her courage failed her.
It was difficult to avoid passing the shop on her way into town, and however much she tried not to, Marjorie felt drawn to the Gerald lookalike. His eyes seemed to follow her in the way the eyes of the Mona Lisa were said to do, in constant rebuke for the many inadequacies of which he had accused her during their marriage.
Moving to this town after the divorce had been a decisive step for Marjorie. It was a new place where she knew no-one. Things had been going well; she joined an origami club and found that – contrary to what Gerald had always said – she was dextrous and able to fashion intricate creations out of paper. Other people admired them and for the first time in her life she felt worth something as herself, rather than merely as an adjunct to someone else.
But this cardboard reminder of the man who had ruled her life for so long bugged Marjorie. She decided to make a little paper model of Gerald, fashioning him into the upright businessman as which he liked to present himself, complete with cut-out suit and tie. Then she took two pins from her needlework box and stuck them firmly into the little eyes which she had formed in the little paper head. She shivered with delight as the maimed figure seemed to cry out.Read more >
they are knocking down the walls in my neighbourhood not to bring people together – they build new walls longer and higher to shut the people out
they must think that they are targets for our envy these men in suits who give succour and shelter only to their investments and their egos
I’d give a lot to stamp their faces with my thumbprint the way they stamp out and drill under these green and fertile spaces
faceless, they wear their money like a cloak of invisibility – they are hazy as a lie in a leader column less attributable and less accountable
they pay their henchman to shout loudly to divert us, protest that they are just the same as us, when we see another elite pale male flexing his privilege
they claim that they are just doing what is 'best for everyone' – we just don’t understand they are only doing what we would all do
if only we had what they have and all this can be ours if we would only concentrate on the light and let our eyes grow heavy
She resents his ability to sleep, so still and unconcerned in the small hours of the morning as the darkness of the bedroom beats against her skin like the wings of countless voidblack crows. She wonders how he does it, and as she wonders she discovers the miniscule tab that juts from his temple. It pulls away easily, lifting the rest of his face along with it, until she holds it like a rag between her thumb and forefinger and peers into the space left behind.
It’s a swirling fingerprint maze of rivers that course ever inwards, touching and gripping and swallowing any that ever left a mark on him. His mother, sisters, an aunt. The eighth grade teacher, a college professor who taught him the meaning of “limerence.” The barista who wrote his name in looping letters, dotting the "I" with a heart. The officer who held his head in her lap on the cold pavement, his motorcycle a twisted mess of steel meters down the road. They clutch at the branches on the banks, are slammed against rocks, rushed to the center of his skull by unforgiving rapids and pulled under.Water spills over into the bed and dampens the sheets. It slips around her ankles and and legs and rises, rises, but she jumps and stumbles through the door, trailing droplets onto the carpet as she flees.
In, in, inwards we go! To internal infinity, world anonymity. Where none has ever gone and returned home whole, or the same piece. We shall feast from the weird, the ‘oh it’s so strange’, and queer. We’ll fire guns, destroy it all, have fun. Bring down the I, we’ll start from up high, best be at night, must finish at dawn. Madness might smell us, a hungry menace, she’ll want to eat us, So give her your toe. Quick switch the engines, fast to the exit! Don’t get despaired and don’t dance the blues. Remember to look up, down, right ’n left, turn three times around, sit on a chair. Spit good from behind, remember a lie. Open your eyes, welcome back!
Who I am is not what you see or how you think the me you see must be. Write my name, sample my DNA, press my finger to the ink and still you will not know me. Name, phone, address, degrees and diplomas a record broken that makes no sound, cannot play the music in my soul. Name, rank, serial number, ask and I will tell but not the story of my heart, not the story in my heart, not the song of me.
Ever decreasing circles to the heart of the matter. Hampton Court Maze has nothing on you. A smart city slicker type with bricks for brains.
Property bricks – build ‘em high - sell ‘em cheap. Tower Blocks/High Rise – blot on the city scape. Sans Safety, Sans Space, Sans Money, Sans Life.
Verboten on green belt except for bespoke tree houses for privileged children with acres for playgrounds. Whilst tower block kids play in communal areas.
Or exist in dirty lifts going nowhere fast or stuck between floors and the alarm isn’t working. Languishing on litter strewn floors – unheeded tears.
He has a property portfolio don’t you just know. A man of means – a man going somewhere. Not the lift kid whose Dad has been in a maze all his life.
A Universal Credit maze, where the answers are always somewhere else – blocked by the Dept for Works and Pensions easy access model.
But City-slicker bricks for brains rides the maze. with millions to spare for offshore accounts. A house in the country – room for a stud.
Breeding high quality ponies for children. Who shun broken down bikes and upcycled skateboards. Whilst top of the range air fills their privileged lungs.
Inhaling – exhaling – living the business of life effortlessly.
“There’s plumbum in my bucket, dear Attman, dear Attman. Sir, plumbum in my bucket … soft tissues, and bones.
“Pre-flush your water, dear voter and sponsor. Flush out your old pipes. Three times, Miss Jones.”
“But my iron-level is dropping, dear Attman, dear Attman, my iron-level is dropping – I can’t breathe the same.”
“Pour water gently, dear voter, dear voter, my sponsor. Fill your glass gently … and don’t call me that name.”
“Then what shall I call you, dear Attman, dear Attman? What *shall* I call you, you tax-gorging prick?
“Er… Attorney General, dear valued taxpayer. Attorney General, or–”
“I’m going to be sick.”
“I’m so sorry for snapping, Attorney General. I’m sorry for snapping, my moods seem askew.”
“No matter, dear voter, can my aide get you some water? You’re probably just hungry, or pregnant. Don’t sue.”
“Nooo… defo not hungry, not hungry, Attorney. I’ve abdominal pain, but I’m *losing* weight. And besides, I'm a man.”
“Well that’s a pity, you’d make a great mother. *(We could do with more morons to hide this Flintgate.)* And who can *tell* these days, Dear Voter, who?”
“Eh? What was that, mister? I mean Mister Attorney General?Read more >
There was an error with the rotoscope. There was an error and In three frames the face blurs. Where the suited tapdancer Had a visage, now there is just chorus: Mouth mouth mouth.
And those dapper legs, Those dapper sinewed legs, Continue all along their own On the avenue of bricks and letterboxes, Pattering.
Watching, you could get lost there In the lines, mazed rats for eyes, And at two minutes thirty three seconds four— There, right there: He faces you alone in the curtained cinema, In the city, in the smoke you curl, huddling Into the falling snow.
The minute he looked at me, I was caught. His face, not beautiful – a crooked tooth, the too-weak chin, the scrag of facial hair. A face unblessed with perfect symmetry, with glowing skin: the things they said I had, the aunts and friends of brothers and sometimes even boys. But my gaze spiralled inwards, when it landed on him: to the eyes, blue and keen. And that blue – it seized my look, caught it like water to ice.
He told me nice things, and the blue seemed pure and true as the sky. Lying together in the scorched grass, his hand burning on my waist: then he would tell me all the ways I wanted to be, how the summer tint of my hair and the weave in my walk filled him, right to the brim. How all the other men wanted me too, would stare and yearn – but I was his, and he had won. He would hold me by the hips, and in the depths of the sun and the stolen liquor the cornflower bruises would go unnoticed – until later, when the sky had turned dark.
Sometimes he would tell me the same things, but in a different hue – his eyes then seemed more grey than blue. He would tell me again how the men looked, but now it was a different game: he would seize the neckline of my T-shirt and pull at it, say 'flaunting all you're worth'. He would look at me as though he had been taken in: that blonde tint, that strut, my mouth – all illusions, and now his sight was clear. Then his eyes were targets, weaponry: aimed at the men and boys, aimed at every part of me.
Sometimes I tried to tell him, struggled to tweezer out the words lodged just below my ribs: you're chipping away at me. It hurts. But he would get that little crease between his eyebrows, and say: 'you're overthinking, can't you just relax?' His eyes were at their deepest then, and I would get lost. My head had always been in the clouds. I tried to press my feet into the ground, to feel the earth against my toes. I reached out my hands and touched him, the muscle and bone, held on to something solid.Read more >
Bland white male, 25-34. Picked off the shelf, identikit features, suit nice but not too nice.
She knows there's something wrong.It's too late.
There had been warnings, on the TV, not to open your door to strangers, but he wasn't strange, he was boring, he was nobody. 27 minutes ago she let him in. Now she thinks back, she's not sure he said why he needed to. From the gas? The bank? Them?
It's been said they are coming. They are looking for unattached people who share too much online. A little desperate, a little easily lost. Data harvesting is no longer enough, not from afar.
She didn't think it would go like this. SAS-type men, black van, screaming. Not a bland white male, 25-34, sipping a milky tea on her sofa whilst her eyelids begin to droop.Read more >
A thumbprint replaces the face, or a forefinger may take its place to prove who you are: No ID — no Cigar. No voting. No apps. Just disgrace.
Your existence means you must be lined, but a spiral means you’re undefined. Arches, loops, whorls, composites become your new posits to prove you belong with our kind.
Should you challenge this order of law with some ungrateful form of faux pas, your lines are erased and your ID defaced as you draw your last breath and last straw.
When your life steps back And you search for an identity You find your dream hanging Like a creeper from a dead tree. You try to rejuvenate your dream. You look at the sky only to find that The sun is lost behind the gray clouds. You look for a source of energy to reactivate Your existence and you stumble upon The blue sapphire. You try to pick it up Thinking it will breathe life back into Your dream. But it turns into charcoal. You think the charcoal will suck all The impurities out of your dream And you put on your corporate attire To floor the client, who would make your Life. But as you turn to step out of your Home you find your dream calling Out at you, imploring you to reactivate it. You had an identity … or so you thought And your dream was a part of it. Now your dream is as lifeless as the Tree it hangs from and you are at a loss As you fail to decide what to do. To reactivate the dream; uproot the Dead tree or to reinvent the dream? With your back on the wall you decide To redefine your identity. The lost dream Disappears. The dead tree falls to the ground Read more >
“You walk into the room With your pencil in your hand You see somebody naked And you say, "Who is that man?" You try so hard But you don't understand Just what you'll say When you get home.” — Bob Dylan, Ballad Of A Thin Man
i. I don’t remember when The Pilgrim’s pork pie hat & suit bobbed into consciousness though knew immediately the blue sky buttoned down faceless man was Dad.
It must have been during my ornery rebellion-against-every-convention delayed adolescence since Magritte died the same year that he painted it
which was 1967 which was exactly the time I fled Victorian Harvard for San Francisco’s Summer of Love, anti-Vietnam draft resistance, etc.
René got me thinking surreally not seriously so I quit medical school thereby violating an implicit contract that till then I didn’t know existedRead more >
My, oh my.
She is beautiful; that buttoned nose
Would cause you to loosen your tie, jump on toes as the bus goes by.
Her hair, mousy auburn, unfurling entangled in a winter scarf.
I thought her eyes were brown, but I’ve seen them closer now as green.
We’ve thought to approach her, a serendipitous bump on her path.
We know her route and her train.
Her steps are assured.
And I find her in a café, ordering a latte.
I exist only as ellipses, three behind her, but closer than ever.
Just within reach of fervour.
I must have her.
Must know her mind. Have her untangle mine.
I stir my tea.
But she is gone.
Lost to the sea of winter coats, umbrellas, and debris.
And so I look to the clouds, licking at the ocean’s horizon.
Worry not; we’ll find another, you’ll see.
He can’t make it to your parents' anniversary – boiler emergency. You joke about his being afraid to meet the parents. Your mother blinks rapidly, your father shakes his head. You have teenage boyfriend mistakes to live down, too distant, too clingy, too secretive. This one is different.
He can’t make it to your sister’s wedding because of work, something complicated with spreadsheets and data collection. You take two presents, write his name left-handed on one label. The maid of honour doesn’t really sit still anyway. You pretend not hear to hear the usher who laughs that you’re dating the invisible man.
He can’t make it to your best friend’s house-warming; he’s stuck on the tube. You hear whispered voices behind him, maybe high-heeled footsteps. There will be other people stuck on their journeys, trying to work out where to go. You sit alone at the party, nurse the expensive bottle of red wine you brought. You pretend the whispers aren’t about you. It’s easier to ignore the invitations.
He doesn’t stop apologising after he hits you, fills your tiny flat with yellow roses, cooks your favourite chicken curry for dinner. He didn’t mean it, it’s a one-time thing. You shouldn’t have kept asking him why he was so late when he’d had too much to drink. You haven’t got anyone else to talk to now, even if you’re not sure if you ever knew him at all.
He doesn’t look back each time he walks out. Sometimes you’re curled in a ball on the beige shag-pile in the living room. Sometimes you’re lying face down on Egyptian cotton sheets. The glass in the bathroom mirror is smashed. You look for shame or fear through the spiralling fractures. But there’s no one there.
1. Aim high. No, higher. Higher than those who belong. You will be judged by a higher standard.
2. Make a plan, work the plan. If that plan doesn’t work, make another plan. Then work it. Repeat as necessary.
3. Cultivate the network. Present yourself to the captains of industry, socialize with approved circles. Friends optional.
4. Dress for success. Not for what you can afford, or even for the job you have. For the job you want.
5. Pay your dues. Get your hands dirty, do whatever it takes to show willing to jump through those hoops. The higher, the better, over and over and over.
6. Grab every opportunity to showcase your talents. Step over whatever – whoever – for the chance to dazzle, shine.
7. Smile, nod, bow. Repeat.
8. blood sweat tears blood sweat tears blood sweat tears
9. Do the undesirables. Pick up what others won’t, touch those others won’t, serve those others won’t.
10. Be the undesirable. Fade into the brickwork. You are no longer welcome.
My counsellor says I have a high level of self-awareness for a narcissist - which is nice. She has given me homework - ask for forgiveness she says, from the women you have lied to, manipulated or hurt and when you meet a woman you like, try to be honest about your feelings. She says being honest is the same as being rich. Weirdo.
How does this slice of honesty sound?
If I want you I will drip charm, bomb you with love. You will think you have met the love of your life, your soul mate - you haven’t. As we go on I will be casually cruel. I will seek to control your money, who you see, the food you eat. I will take your self-esteem and eat it like a snake eats a pigeon. I will be jealous of the attention you give your dying mother. I’m an attractive proposition, no?
I want you to love me so hard I could put my head through a plate glass window. But right now I am an injury of red roads, always headed back to the same empty bullseye.
There are lines, traces unseen present on your face when light, the mood of the day unresolved boundaries blurred by memories, places and dreams without names, fade with time to clarity. I know I’m lost, reeling within white and red spiralling tracks of a labyrinth without exit, the echo of your words. When will I carry my own weight? you said. Get a job or something? Your monotone voice puts me to sleep, you said, share something introspective or let me read my book. The fear of being alone again is all that keeps us committed. It could have been consummate companionate, fatuous, romantic love or liking—all permutations of commitment passion, and intimacy. And what we got is empty love.
Your black coat and tie belie depths unseen in all of their lovely, terrifying dimensions.
Everything behind you is abstract. Green might represent Nature, blue the Void beyond. Beyond, and in fact, within you.
Maybe the white bits are mirrors that reflect light, capturing the essence of the sun and recasting it so we can understand what we are, and how we fit into the scheme of things.
A mind is only a narrow piece of the cosmos, digesting experience, as Huxley said. You can’t know which way reality spins unless you focus in on a shard of experience, shaving off the sides, carving away with a knife like one carves are bar of soap, until you have a recognizable shape that can be fondled and halfway understood.
The center, which is nothing, is the root of everything that spins away from it, like God flinging reality away from his hands, casting it off like dirty dishwater.
You kiss the vortex And call it a pretty face. I smile because it leaves A print between your ears. One fleshy, pink. Listening. The other, small, bruised and tired, Hearing only a single tone That blurs all the green faces. I kiss your neck Just below the collar. That pretty print smiles back at me.
Your head is a maze, no sorry, a labyrinth set on speed, top speed. Your thoughts curve time and space into concentric circles you can’t see beyond. You’ve been here before before before. I can’t help you out, sorry, I don’t know the way in or the way out. Only you know that, though you’ve forgotten to go in again, without a ball of wool to help you out. I’m here, waiting for you, calling to you, hoping one day, you’ll hear my voice, hear your own voice, be able to follow yourself back out again.
You construct your masculinised mask And I anonymise, estrange you I dissolve your face and name I forget but I do not absolve you You recede into the serried structure As it sheathes and suffocates you Conceals and coats you in its shelter The isolation which maintains you Your portrait misdirects, disorientates Your guise disgusts, insulated by your hate