- 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.
Oh how light hangs darkness I would not wish any other way Simple pleasure My most treasured trove Enabled me to crawl away
Knowing that doubt would drown you Swimming in deep darkest fear Be unafraid as the tendons snap Heed these words I say
Oh how light hangs darkness Such a strong love potion The most stolen Emotion Full of Precious tears betrayed
Siren shipwrecks the wasted years Untied, they drift away Oh how light hangs darkness Cobweb thin, without a net Waste not a single day
Almost a human face almost a human hand almost a prophet: in the unconscious desert of the Godhead one speaks somehow and somehow one listens
Incandescent with inspiration his silence communicates the fire of the stars. There are no constellations except what we impose upon the void. No seeds germinate in these sterile sands, and yet the prophecy expands...
Salvation is not salvation. God is not God.
And the tide is always turning, merging our footsteps, love letters, sand castles— into the unknowledgeable darkness that looms between the stars.
We forget we are part of others’ constellations, a pulse in deep space, a smudge on a scan, an anomaly for further investigation.
We are one of someone else’s billions of possible rocks on which to stake hope, imagination, futures.
We stand on the bones of sighing seas, look out at the brightness of boundless dark, reflecting infinity, forgetting we are light.
Nobody noticed the bright girl, small in a queen-starred sky: I was much nearer to you than you thought and not shining but burning.
Poor kid, she always loved sparkling and now she’s dead she must have stood too near the heat her robe caught fire, they said.
Oh, no no no, it was too hot always (still the dead one stood glowing) I was too small, too faint, all my life and not shining but burning.
I stand like a lit wick on a crudely crafted candle and face off against the lord of hell as he is never imagined: an amorphous mass of parody and mockery.
Cast down not just from paradise, but from the ability to mimic anything God has made; he twists in agony to be cured only by learned humility.
The coruscation that is my spirit illuminates his hideousness and suggests malformed shapes.
They are but glamours, lacking even the dignity of the cloven.
Evil is forever seeking to justify itself in the language of angels.Read more >
Made of photons standing light guardian at the edge of a tortoise shell universe
Tell me in a stream of energy and truth where I might belong
Fitting neither here nor there I stand alone Jane Eyre in the stone
Illumination blesses and kisses my limited mind whispering endless possibilities.
The star children were prone to boredom, they glimpsed earth from their galactic perches and mistook the bright lights of the vast metropolitan cities for their own kin. One night they lingered too long on earth and their mother searched for them. She noticed the sand sculptor on the shore, melancholy, wistful, as he carved his dead father's face in the dune. First she hovered, curious about his earnest efforts, and he thanked the constellations for raining their light upon him. He prayed and whispered his father's name, invoking the Angels of Mercy, asking them to help his mother in hospital, lately diagnosed with dementia.
The star children's mother started to cry when she heard him and the more she cried the more she shed tears of luminescence. The beach glowed with her light and the sand sculpture was not just a likeness but a conjuring. The sculptor looked up and saw his dead father's spirit rise from the ashes and sand and potash. May I have this dance? He took her hand and danced into the ocean.
In the hospital across the shore the woman with dementia awoke and sang a song about star children and especially of her son, who loved building sand castles and imagining his father as Neptune, King of the Ocean, and of his mother, a nymph so fast in her downward dive of the deep that she had wings and bred her brood, sometimes called starfish.
Am I ready now To leave this body Become this other-worldly me?
I am on fire with the desire to fit in with the monster - the organic, writhing earth.
Yet, would my feet still then touch the ground?
Would I explode to the heavens, an upward bound shooting star?
Or perhaps become as stone The wind howling through me The water cutting my features sharp and craggy
Inviting yet another to join the mystery of what comes after.
Do not eat me I said to the stone face who found me shining in the sea stars But I am just a hollow Stone Face he said with great hunger in my sandy stomach
Just a nibble?
Fine, sure, whatever, I saidbut as his mouth came closer I regretted my amiability.
being ignored is normal for you it happens nearly every day in a crowd or alone - you choose to count colours or guess what others are saying to others on the opposite side of a café have become expert in putting words into other people's mouths and here on this shore you can scream or lament to the rocks that nature has shaped into a lion and a long nosed witch where the first looks kingly aloof while the witch gazes madly at the lower rocks and you stand on a rock and berate them as they ignore you even though you have become a white light that shines and reflects from them it does you good to do this on a clear night - clear the sinuses and the mind as a glimmer of dawn begins its daily mystery that will resolve into another day where the sun when it shines never ignores you unlike the rest of the world that comprises all the lions and witches who you now ignore
Emblazoned on a rock an angel stands ecstatic, her breathing, enlightened in ecstasy, holds her warm.
Surrounded by Mother Earth's promise — the praise of love beyond the death of a moment— an impression in time.
A being so loving that she shows it.
In the distance soil waits but she ascends— dying into life.
Star-lit canvas—limitless, stretched tight water-body: dark and rippling
a stone-perch for a ghostly figure not afraid of light or being illuminated by a mysterious source the stone? Or a snub-nosed alien?
The outlined figure white; fragile
holding telepathic talk with a craggy face leaping out of gloomy space like a green monster from sci-fi flick
glimpsed first by a lost wanderer a Belgian that goes by the name of Julien Menier
and, a silence heard for miles interrupted only by the murmuring of waves in gentle, rhythmic cycles.
Like a scimitar had come silvering an arc in the sky
The night of the meteor
It burned its holy significance
Into our cheeks,
We drove round the headland, coming to the
Moon rippled rockpools, sat under the sky,
til the night formed in the reflections.
You told me you were done with him,
But if things changed – you’d be back.
That was the tenor of our logic: it was clear
on any night, that we were done for.
Though we are graced with signs
We take no action, could make
Picture postcards out of dire warnings.
I talked buoyant as bladderwrack,
of my own. The one I’d return to
For whom these months were
Preparation: they meant nothing.
I did not speak of the love he hid,
the carbon paper behind each thought.
We were surviving by the light
Of what was available to believe.
Excited father impatiently paced
Up and down hospital corridor
Surely waiting for Maryam's birth
Musa came unheralded unwanted instead
Brief life before the death took him away
He departed leaving no memories
Just a name
Three more babies the mother delivered
All unwanted sons
Maryam chose a subtler entry
Into the world of mortal men
On the fluttering wings of ruthless desire
She silently came into the family
Unborn untouched fluffy presence
My little shapeless faceless sister
A dream of beauty, a sobering Ecstasy
Delighting all in unseen ways
She dresses in her house clothes then pads back out. Finally, he is looking at her.
— What? she asks.
— What? she asks, and a laugh gets caught in her throat.
And so she sets out. She is taking champagne and caviar ironically, because they will all die soon, though she won’t say that.
At the station, she watches bats flying in the wind, trying to manoeuvre, looking lost in the twilight sky.
Someone on the train is crying. Or Laughing. Funny, she thinks, they can sound so alike. She wants to get another tattoo. This one will more explicitly symbolise death. She is on the way to a party, probably will only think about death, talk about death, ask the party people what they think of a death tattoo. Or maybe she shouldn't — they will ask if she has any other tattoos and she will need to admit she has the name of somebody at the party she is avoiding. Her ex-boyfriend will be there. He reminds her of death, his skeleton smile. His name is tattooed on her foot; she has tried to scrub it off in the bath with a loofah.
against a dark and rising sea
I didn’t come to die
but to load my bones
to take it in like white neon
cold fire entering every channel
through each root and vein
threading the finest nerves
while I stand here
a lightning rod
between sea and stone
calling down the moon and stars
to burn in me
this temporary flesh
so that I flare up
a fallen star incarnate
too bright to last past morning
that will find me spent
asleep beneath the shelter
of your eternal gaze
One can only allow for so much grief when a body fails. I told myself it was a miracle I’d held on for so long, that I’d made this life last as I plastered cover-up on my face. Be grateful. But I fought the hot pressure of tears. I’d been ready for this, of course. The will was in place, not much to give away but earmarked all the same. The note, however…
My pen hovered over the paper, nice paper, put aside for this so I wouldn’t scramble and end up writing my final words on the back of an envelope.
I love you so much.
A tear escaped me, splattering on the creamy weave of the paper. It glittered, smudging my careful penmanship, the words I’d worked so hard to master. I swallowed the emotion, reeling it back. Even tears were a learned behavior, soon to be left behind.
My time has come. I can’t explain it, not in a way that would make sense. Just know I am not leaving you voluntarily. This is not suicide. It is not murder. It is a natural passing, the failing of my body. Please do not despair. I will leave it at the cove, but I beg you to send someone else to find it.
Another tear fell, sparkling next to my signature. It would have to do. Light was starting to seep out of my pores. I wiped my eyes and left, not caring that my makeup was smeared. It cracked anyway as I crossed the threshold. The flakes fell as I clambered over the rocks, gilded in the golden light of the approaching sunset. I hoped it hid my glow. Not that there was anyone to see. Not this time of year.
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They were right.
Standing beside the sea, facing Hunter’s Rock – the name suddenly blitzing her mind like a lightning strike – her body is numb, emotionless. She forces herself to feel something, anything at all but nothing comes. She is a void, a vacuum.
Her mind aches, pulsing from all of the shocks she has received. She closes her eyes and concentrates on her breathing. The air wraps her in its icy embrace, raking invisible claws through her hair and ravaging her skin. If you want to remember, there is always a way. Forget your surroundings and focus.
I am not here, she thinks. I am far from here. Somewhere far far away. Existing in another galaxy.
Her mind suddenly explodes with starlight, platinum brilliance bleaching her vision. She winces, fighting the urge to open her eyes and undo all of her progress.
She focuses again, this time her ears fattening on cries bleeding into screams, picturing fingers stabbing away at the air, someone spitting at her and labelling her a witch.
Why a witch? What had she done?
A baby’s cry pierced the air and she found herself peering down on a fair-skinned girl. The baby looked almost doll-like with her set expression and closed eyes. But something was wrong, very wrong. The baby in her arms was stiff, her limbs weren’t moving, her chest wasn’t rising or falling.
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She had no idea that she had no idea.
She lived like this always, reacting to everything, being a Victim because she had no confidence in her ability to choose.
Sleep fell upon her easily because she was exhausted, always going to sleep with nothing left except regret and contempt for herself. She did not know that she did not know. Her dreams were vivid and often violent, running away from something, someone, trying to turn on lights that would only shine with a joke of light, trying to open or lock doors to preserve her safety... just like in horror movies she couldn't get the door to open, shut or lock and the thing she was attempting to escape overcame her.
Sum Ting Wong... the punchline from an inappropriate joke became her mantra. " Sum Ting Wong with me."
Then one season in her life, she decided she was tired of battling. She gave up and acted as if she didn't care about the consequences and she did whatever she wanted. She consoled herself with the fact that " Life was too short, there couldn't be a God," and she was going to "do Something even if it was wrong."
And she did.
She dug herself into a hole so deep that when she tried to climb out of it the sides crumbled in on top of her. Then she gave up trying to act like she knew anything. She was bewildered. If anyone asked her anything, she replied, "I don't know." Indeed, she had no answers.
She began to picture herself as scraps of meat on the butcher floor and before she could get off her bed, she pictured forming the meat scraps into a form of herself and dressing her meatloaf self in clothes before pushing herself out the door. She was in bits.
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Looking at Him directly, Mariella had to admit that God was a lot less impressive in person. The brilliant light that enveloped her—shining brilliant and irradiating warmth and love—was nice, but His face was really just average. Nothing special there, really. Nothing that screamed “I am God!” Weak chinned, He also had an overbite and a slightly lazy right eye. It wasn't immediately noticeable, but once you saw it, you couldn't unsee it. All you could think about was God’s lazy eye. "Why doesn’t He do something about it?” Mariella thought. He wore his hair in a man bun, and He really couldn't pull it off.
God's voice cascaded down a shaft of pure, holy light emanating from somewhere beyond this world, from the Genesis of creation. It was a high, reedy voice, almost at the point of being screechy. Mariella found it impossible to concentrate on anything he said.
It was the time of her Calling, and God was in the midst of explaining to Mariella her purpose in life, she supposed. She was really only getting every fifth word or so. There was something of greater concern than what God was droning on about. God had something stuck in His teeth. It moved from side to side as He spoke, almost as if it were waving to Mariella. “Hello, farewell, hello, farewell”, it said as it swayed from the crevice between God’s canine and lateral incisor. She felt a mad and almost uncontrollable desire to reach out and grab it. Her arm—with no conscious input from her—apparently resolved to do just that, as it raised toward the Face of God.
Luckily, He seemed to take it as a gesture of exultation.
waits with its dark stars, rocks
have assembled their hard congregations,
sea has reined in
its white-throated waves
but I am not there.
I watch – from where? –
see the shade
of myself on the shore
empty as shell –
but I am not there;
rise and fall,
dissolve into sand,
burn holes in the sky,
I pass by – to where?
I will not be
My echo was voiceless.
Suspending, buffering, scraping along the hunks of carbon
[Looking for an opening]
For the first time
I could fly
My mind struggling to hold it all together
[Including the concept of all]
Hollow, the depressions of sockets,
Lacing wires of veins
That we longed to fuse, lights waking up
All over the world.
For the first time
I wondered if I would miss you
Filled with the kaleidoscopes of seasons -
Radioactive, decorated with decay;
Palettes of stardust
Hugged with laughter.
I miss crying
I miss the traps of sense data
The sweet, acrid scent of birthday cakes
The wisps of confetti
Mixed with smoke
Fingers dancing along like ribbons
A montage growing, shrinking
Sinking beyond the horizon
For the first time,
I wondered if I was still human.
guarding the shore
from the waves of darkness
and tides of change
she stands on a promontory
on solid land
to hold back the time
when all things end
and the earth is engulphed
by a rising sea
of intolerance and pride.
Forthcoming is a tide, with
a finale much to surmise
Turnpike in the water, a
breakdown at the shore
After a torrent, born
to a burning sevenfold
Stories strewn asunder, a
peek into notes of strains
Now followed by millions, in
slow tedium of spotlight-fame
All this audacity so blinded, with
our adulation holding these blinds
Wondering if the stars, are
us, or our unsung scars.
Jewels of night pierce the darkness
White hot glow
Fire gemstone under my feet
Light of stars
Light of stone
Dawn draped in gray
Light burns from within
I once hid under craggy stones
I now stand on the solid rock
My soul glows hope
A pallid, anaemic excuse of a man
that's who I am.
You were sporty; a meat-and-two-veg kinda bloke
whilst I felt like someone who was just a sick joke.
You ate all your greens
I simply made scenes
Yet Mother kept trying
fed me virol and iron.
As we passed through the years
she shed countless tears.
Our parents lost all their hopes
when you died on ski slopes.
Wait for me, brother, in your Paradise
I've gone through hell; now it's time for the skies!
It isn't in her balance,
or the raw capture of light.
It isn't her persistence (that others insist is a species of stubborn).
Or the flexible nature of that boned spine.
I thought it was her voice that kept me grounded,
the optimistic sentence ends that should have marked a question.
But solutions weren't her thing.
I wrote us into bold equations,
desperate to figure out our finite.
She glowed with the after blush of attention,
her details difficult to detect with my naked eye.
She believed the curvature of space was a human illusion.
The stars might be suns, she says.
Don't wait beside me.
It's too easy to burn.
an over rubbed memory -
what really is the best way
to forget, assume spirituality
as primal and carnal to breathing.
call love a thing lesser than god:
than power; watch tears drop
as pools of pearls -
grow the size of mercy: gift called miracle.
from the curtains of the holy stone,
a hand draws forth as water
to the lesser world, on a boat
in a sea hit by drought.
There had been pain, and there had been medication.
There had been sickness, and shivering, and tremors;
the loss or hair, concentration and confidence.
There had been moments when perfume smelled of silage,
when coffee tasted like the batteries we touched
with our tongues when we were children,
when even pure cool water burned her throat.
There was a day when I thought she couldn’t stay
but she clung on, gasping for each breath, and returned
to us a little more fragile, a little less substantial,
her voice weak and whispering: It’s not time yet.
She slept fitfully, while I sat beside her and watched
the wind blow through the birch trees beyond her window.
As night fell, she woke and wished me Happy Birthday
even though it was barely March. She spoke of houses
she had lived in, of parents she would meet again,
of friends she would miss, of lovers and husbands.
She said Thank you for being here and she said Goodbye.
In the moment before her leaving there was brightness.
we wore the sky's cheap jewellery and wished upon the satellites.
You wished for a world to grow past the dead flowers of your uterus
“In space the dying stars look like roses in a crystal vase,” she half whispered.
Further from womanhood than space she wanted to leave in reggae and liquor
so we danced with distant stars, colliding to be more than just light.
I wished for the world to be stillborn just for a moment like this
“In space the stars are mirrors of tomorrow,” I never said it.
In space, we live in a raindrop falling in a vast black sky,
this is a kind of birth in itself I wrote in a poem,
a poem that like the sky is just a white page
that turns dark when you are night.
like aluminium bleachers
or magnesium light.
Always running hot
and cold, tempered, and
oblivious to her own chill.
For three months, when I
was 12, I thought maybe
I loved her. She’d stand
in the doorway, and absorb
every thought, most of them
about her — self-absorbed
comes to mind.
And I’d like to know, where
were all the warnings.
You know — those signals.
Someone asked me, Didn’t
you see it coming? Well,
no, I sure didn’t, and
not because love's blind.
She was always climbing
on rocks. Boulders. Looking
over cliffs. Over edges.
Nobody thinks this sort of
thing’s going to happen, not
to someone they know. She
jumped. We never knew why.
See the fog of galaxies, decay of heavens.
No summer evenings there, no scented seasons,
she’s distant, far out in her universe, a time capsule
smelling of false ancestors and broken promises.
Searching for mirrors, her visions are straw-men
trembling behind walls, a bloodstain on flagstones,
she’s been a child too long. The cobalt and the azure
peter out. Beneath her lashes,
become a funicular on a precarious descent. Years ago
in Goa, my foremothers knelt at the shore, let down their hair and carved
their pain into the rocks.
And there are days
when I feel I still carry their grief in my bones.
These women from whom I have inherited my eyes, the tilt of my head, a sudden flash of irritation.
These women whomI have never known, but whose embers I carry in my soul.
What were they thinking when they prayed for sons?
It was their daughters who carried them home. And they left us
with nothing but a razor edged past
heavy as stone and a ferocity
to endure. To burn through nights eclipsed in pain.
rested low, almost touching
the hilltop, a cliff-edge,
stained rose and amber
by the day in retreat.
As the sun lost its footing
to slip under the radar,
the cloud burgeoned longer
no longer an ovoid,
now darkening to stone,
to battleship grey,
as solid as stone,
colours now true.
Light shone from portals,
light sharp as arrows.
The bright dawn of an era,
ending our own.
this hardened vessel
of my rocky skin
of my sand scrape lower life
Make a promise ignited
by the flame of starlight
before the stars go dark
and I am forced to swallow you
Sing me something pretty
and meaningful to the lapping
of waves that erode our time.
Skirting around the fringes of existence,
Searching for solace in the hidden corners of life,
Finding delight in moments of illumination,
That come unbidden and unexpectedly,
Beckoning one onwards,
Bringing light to brighten winter’s darkest days,
Showering a meteor of hope on the lonely, lost and loveless.
In a solitary prayer. Pour libations. Pour liquor. Grate a kola in my mouth. Spit on the deities. Sip whiskey. Rinse my mouth.
Spit on the deities. Or I can start by
Burying my heart inside my locked palms,
Then pray some more and let them unlock
The miseries and the mysteries there and just when they are still at it. I strike. When they are still looking for answers. I strike. I let blood flow.
I can start a poem with a god as the subject,
and their subjects as nothing - only to turn around and have them executed, then, pick my things and go looking for answers myself. Like, why are they gods? Why am I human? Why are they not my subjects? Who made it so? Who first thought it so?
I can become a wanderer living in a wanderer wondering what life is without wandering. Or I can become a fugitive with a soul as fake as that of the sun's smile on an eclipse. Or I can become my own light and god unlocking my mysteries and solving my own problems. Why have I not thought it? Who has not thought it? And why am I still so foreign to myself even as I try to reconcile the self from the other? Why am I still wandering?
Illuminating bouldered shores,
Inviting me to come to them
Or crash and cling to broken oars.
Perhaps they saw my little boat
And thought of me, across the waves,
Like some red-blooded Parthenope
Inviting them to frigid graves.
We are all passing in the night
With dreams of mooring in our docks,
All nourishing our little lights,
All lurking behind jagged rocks.
tumbling, somehow unscathed,
through the atmosphere
in the Great Storm of 1966,
to land on another world.
Hunkered into the beach
he is generally unnoticed
except by small children.
Spotting him as a toddler
‘Lion’ was my first word, and,
as I uttered it,
tasting its wonder upon my tongue,
I felt his purr
thrum gently beneath my feet
and patted his rocky paw
as we walked by.
He became my refuge, confidant
the wisdom of millennia
held in his heart
and, every November
I spend one night with him.
We talk of life, love and light,
then, as the first glow of dawn
tints the horizon,
we sing to his starmates
as they fall.
He picked up this fondness for wandering about since nobody had the heart to put him in a cage on account of him having had such a bad life. He took a keen liking to places of natural beauty with boulders there. They say when he was grown he started this quirk of taking greedy bites out of them big rocks, spitting out pebbles. They say at night his mouth takes great chunks from the rock and shouts out some nonsense nobody can construe coz it isn’t from any known language spoken anywhere. Accusatorical bombastications from some innocent outcrop he's turned into a pulpit just by standing himself on it. Slick Nick says it all stems from his school and before the truth could come out it was razed to the ground. But I don't know how reliable Nick is. He's always quick to put the boot into educational facilities.
He had hefted the ball - black and smooth as a polished piano key - into the cup of his palm, and then, on bended knee had rolled. The release, like the upwash of a wave flowing to the shore, then sucking back to sea.
Or perhaps he heard Veronica gasp. He can’t be sure. She’s been so fragile lately. A gasp, her response to each of life’s events these days. And whether it’s surprise or shock, he really cannot say.
Though the sound of a wave as it rushes the shore sounds the same. A gasp. A frothing release of air. A call and response.
There was a dignity of sorts to it, he supposed. The element of surprise certainly appealed. The way it cracked open all the ordinariness of the day.
Toast and marmalade for breakfast. Tea the colour of the Amazon. The pips of a plastic clock as it counted out the hours. Ten o’clock. Ten o’clock. Ten o’clock.
Some rhythms seem eternal. They lull you into contentment. Veronica knew this, of course. Hence the gasps.
She has breathed in this moment for years. Every sigh a preparation.
Though she had imagined a different scenario. The kitchen table, covered with red and white gingham. The chink of a spoon on a jam jar. The pop of the toaster and the splash of milk in a teacup. Looking up and whispering, ‘George? George, are you okay?’
from the rock
in the distance
is called a siren
and it can slaughter
your entire psyche
if you’re not careful
in the sky
with its pulse
is called a light source
and it can save
your fading soul
if you catch it
on the shore
after the crash
is called a misfire
and it can lead
to greater things
if you keep your head up
she had no idea that she would completely slip away from herself.
The first time it happened her family hunted for her for days. When she eventually returned, she was surprised to see posters on lampposts offering a reward for her safe return.
The police were annoyed that she couldn't or wouldn't give a lucid account of where she had been. Eventually a psychiatrist was called, who explained it away as some kind of fugue state. When his questions got too much for her she felt herself disappearing again.
It wasn't long before she realised that she could come and go at will, and that casual statements like 'Darling, I'm just going to put the cat out,' could make her husband anxious. What he didn't know though, was that this time, she was taking the cat with her and that they would not be coming back.
I used to live by the sea, but now I’m locked by land. Sometimes it’s hard to know where I am. I used to know where I could run away to, where the edges were. Even if you don’t want to run away, you’ll be happier if you know where your path is.
Last night, the outside smelled different, sounded strange. I walked across the unlit park, not scared, and looked out towards the silent blaze of nightshift supermarkets east of town.
Instead, I saw the shining of lazy waves. The sea had come to me. This was my place. I know the sea is not my friend, but nor is the land. At least if you have an edge, you have somewhere to stand.
This morning, the shops are back, and I can see housing blocks on the horizon again. But I’ve only got the evidence of my eyes to go on. As long as I stay where I am, I can’t be sure they’re not reflections, tricks of the mind, tricks of the sea.
We are the same as stars
that shine through
the vacuum of darkness
we recognise only
in non-human terms.
We are nothing but
a speck of dust though
without a single one of us
the Universe is weakened.
So I will waste less time
on the perception of others.
I promise to stand still for once.
far from bar sign neon and sodium-vapour lamps
far from the suburban Christmas tree flicker
I stopped, compelled by sudden darkness to look up
and I strained my eyes against the tarry sky
startled by the multitude of gathered lights
- the brilliance of Orion, his diamond-hilted dagger
slapping at his thigh and the Hunter sisters flashing past
bows tilted, arrows ready for flight. Beyond the hunting ground
other constellations were being strung out in a canopy
for a distant milonga - preparations for wild dancing
at the end of a year that most would wish to stamp into oblivion.
Although my breath was frosting on the soft salt air
I felt in my cheeks a heat stronger than the wood stove
we had so recently gathered round, watching its orange flames
burn fiercer than a December sunset.
On the coldest night of a despairing winter I saw a star
fall to the sandbar out by the dancing ledge
I saw this comet struggle to her feet and clamber to a rock
I watched as she poured light cold and white as a Roman candle -
and from my vantage point above the beach, behind the rocks
I couldn’t tell if this was an end of year display or a distress flare.
She steps on the Rock of Supplication and moves to its crest and the guests suck air in unison. There have been charlatans and simply deluded folk who have perished at this point, simply snapped up by the huge fungal edifice discovered when we were mapping this new home … torn in two and spat upon the bluff, where myriad symbiotic carnivores would dispense with the remains within minutes.
We’d encountered them in our fact-finding expeditions too, lost quite a few Recon units before The Gateman, what we came to call the gigantic sentient fungus, decided we possessed souls.
Ilyana adopts the supplicant pose now, one hand half-raised. It never looks like supplication to me, but that’s what the Gateman described long ago in its powerful telepathic images. It’s all in the perception.
The sea stills, the breakers sharing the sigh of released breath from the congregation. We can all feel the subliminal pulsing of the Gateman. Ilyana flares into heatless incandescence, the brightness hurting our eyes and reflecting off the form of the great facilitator of spiritual passage – the Grand Poobah mushroom. Light and shadow combine to suggest stylistic mocking faces on the rock-like creature.
The indignation, anger and ridicule startle me. Why should I resent such a wondrous transition? I look at the faces around me and for a moment their eyes adopt a glazed stupidity.
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When I closed my eyes, sometimes, her face would burn the backs of my eyelids. I was grateful for the reminder. Her silhouette shimmered golden. She was an angel now – she had been an angel in life, too.
I found myself lurking the caverns many times after she died there. My hands would brush gently against the stone walls, crossing over small dents and cracks, in the faint hope that they would come across her. In the spaces between my fingers, I would see hers, glowing golden. In these moments, she was alive. We were one.
The final twilight was descending upon me when I arrived at the caverns for the last time. There she was, standing proud at the edge of the highest rock jutting from the ground. My angel. Her entire body was alight like the sun, but my eyes were transfixed upon her regardless. She watched me watching her.
‘Home,’ I heard her voice call out to me. ‘Home with me.’
The moon was beginning to set behind the distant trees as I approached her. All the familiarities of her came rushing back to me; the touch of her skin, the light in her eyes, the whisper of her voice. The final kiss we had shared in these very caverns. The struggle of her body as she slipped from my arms, screaming my name, the fear and confusion haunting her tone.
The blind rush of red.
‘I’m sorry,’ I said to her then. She was no longer human. She was a transient being.
Silence fell over us. In my next blink, she was gone, and so were the memories.
She dared not say it. Not even to herself. Every day, she used the makeup to hide the marks and the cuts and the bruises and the scabs and the scars. She became the happy wife that everyone expected; the lucky woman that everyone envied.
The woman who had tamed the lion.
Tonight, however, there would be no makeup. Luna would put on the dress that she was wearing that first day they met, and once again present herself to a lion. This lion was a rock formation - it's cold, hard exterior reminiscent of what had become of her lion. She took off the dress and lied on the sand for a moment, letting this lion see all that her beauty had become after being slowly mauled by her lion for so many years.
Luna got up and laid the dress along the sand, and poured the gasoline over it. The smell briefly overwhelmed her and she pulled away, before forcing herself back to experience it. "You have put up with worse," she told herself, and then decided those would be fitting for her last unspoken words.
Though bathed in the warmth of the love of her father.
Edges not meshing, boulder strewn landscape
blocking her path to her own destination
Awash in soft light she reached for the sky.
“Come” he whispered, encouraged, cajoling.
“All will be well”
But her feet would not move.
Hopeless desolation sucked at her clothing
Freezing, encasing her body in fear.
“This way” his warm voice yet enjoined her.
Her need great, in his way to go.
Fighting through the dark weight of her dream
she gasped, sitting upright, alone but aware.
Around her just silence
curtains soft and filmy danced in the breeze
In bare feet she moved
The scene out the window solid and sane.
Then the light on the phone beckoned her brightly.
A message from dad,
soft pleadings to visit
and calling her home.
How many nights did we lie together, darling, with my cheek on your chest, listening to that same rhythm. While you slept, I prayed you would keep breathing. As if my devotion to you could ever make it so.
Your voice is shrill and feral, incoherent as the wind starts to wail. Holy, holy, holy boy. My eyes sting with sand as it fountains up, a towering cloud. I have seen this before, a howling explosion in the eyes of soldiers and civilians. I wonder what they called it the first time. All those poor children in the rubble. You call it God, and it calls you home.
Seraphim spread their many wings and their feathers cut open my cheeks, my grasping hands. You are in a cage with bars made of flaming swords and spears, and you’re singing out, the sweetest songbird the world might ever hear.
Look at you, love. You’re glowing. Messiah and martyr, has there ever been a difference? I wonder if it hurts, to feel divinity take you so rough, when you were always so gentle with me. There is blood in my eyes as I collapse at your feet, and I swear my skin burns when I touch yours. Like it’s being flayed from my muscles. The angels are watching with mad, rolling eyes, blinking wounds in their arms and chests. Their mouths are gaping, waiting for you. I want you to keep them waiting.
But it calls you home, and because you’re you—you answer. You reach your hands out to the stars, to your waiting congregation, and smile.
Oh my holy, holy boy.
She’d always been slightly mad, he always said she was mad, and to start with he loved it but when she drove 100 miles to the beach on Christmas day, with the kids in tow, he decided that she was no longer his kind of mad. She was damn right insane. It used to be different without the kids, they could go on spontaneous drives, they could spend the night by the beach listening to the waves crash under the frosty moonlight while they sat wrapped up drinking hot coffee poured from a flask. It was once fun.
Now he refused to play any part in her fun, in her mad, hippy behaviours that he once loved. So he left. He felt guilty about walking out on them, his only regret that he didn’t take the children from their mother. He wanted them to live a more conventional lifestyle but he was no longer certain what that was, was it 9-5 and shopping at the weekends with the children overwhelmed by a pile of plastic toys or was it just sitting down on Christmas day to watch a film before arguing over a board game nobody really understands the rules to?
He crept away into the darkness, no longer understanding the rules.
What makes it painful not pleasurable? Emotions supply the fuel and never more than now.
The fire was stoked again, the ever-present embers blown upon.
His voice asked a simple direct question, “Where were you”? However, his face promised more for a misstep.
Do I tell him, dare I risk it? We had moved through this, and many other verbal dances before.
A missed bus, a twenty minute dash, I would have made it if his journey had had more red lights.
He was seeing red now though.
“Where were you”? He asked again in that quiet before the storm voice.
I stepped back, feeling again that void behind me.
“I missed the bus,” I said hoping my words would at best quell his anger or at worst distract him.
The clock in the hall chimed into the silent void between us.
In a voice too small to fill it I said. “Should I put the tea on, I’ve got your favourite, lamb chops and new potatoes”.
“No, I want to know what you’re up to.” His ability to focus on me to the exclusion of all else could be frightening, and no more so than now.
I was in that place again, the rock and the hard place place.
I could not tell him, this time I would not.
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I start to climb, off in the distance I hear muffled voices shout instructions to each other, a guttural dialect I can't place. If I can get over the top before they arrive, I stand a chance. Adrenaline kicks in and somehow my feet find footholds as fingertips grip the small indents and crevices above me. "Use your feet to push up, not your arms to pull". The voice of the climbing instructor at Lochgoilhead Scout Camp all those years ago rings in my ears.
The voices draw nearer, become more distinct in the darkness. I move by touch alone, the dark skies make it hard to see more than silhouetted outlines. A faint glow on the horizon promises dawn. I scurry upwards, growing more confident with each step. My hands are cut and bleeding, slippery, but fingers grip, claw-like . "She's here somewhere, spread out!" Suddenly the voices are closer, almost at the base. I freeze, about five feet from the top, and flatten my body against the damp hardness. Move or stay still? I risk a quick glance upwards. Five feet, worth a try, it's preferable to capture. I feel above my head for handholds just as the sun starts to break the horizon and bathe the rocks in a golden flush; move now or be a sitting duck. Legs strain and calves burn as I push higher. I feel the sun before the rocks in front me light up; time is running out.
Trembling I reach higher, pull and push, panic makes me clumsy.
"There! Up there!" a voice shouts. A shot echoes, breaking the dawn.
sizzling my cells so that every atom in me became a
telescopic hole of knowing, and everybody's future
was a luster aching under my skin ringing, ringing
with the cacophony of worlds at their beginning
and at their end.
After the kiss every word and pronouncement
that flew from my bedazzled tongue
became a diaphanous utterance of disbelief.
My brain radiated rage and sorrow,
to be such a vessel of knowledge no one could
acknowledge, to be a blind bird lurching
towards the sea. Do not deceive a god, do not recoil
from his fiery hands or he might disrobe and then kiss you
with a curse.
And yet, burdened with the truth, glistering
with secret revelations, still I stand under the stars, a star myself, dead thing echoing, echoing lost proclamations, agonizing warnings all in vain, an etheric wraith, white beacon whispering into the always ancient wind
an anthem of eternal wisdom, the gift of redemption
that was in fact my only reason for being:
that you might learn to see as I see,
I beg you no more tales of mendacity.
Is the gangrene of hate and rejection
still sweeping through the land?
You once told of dead souls seeking cities
between cities. Some squatting in market squares
forced to reach remote provinces with invisible
borders. Remembering how life had been
Traveller you have returned as the rage of the ocean
chisels my granite to dust.
Now you tell of men freezing on the streets yet rows of
many garments live on wooden shoulders behind locked
People stand in line for food, others store great frozen
bounty in white boxes.
I weep for the babies with no milk while ladies wear
the hides of the animal.
I hear of children making toys for other children but still
they must walk on water to reach books.
These are not the words I was hoping to hear.
You have freedom to travel this earth but
I gift you blindness.
Lightness of being,
Standing on a rock in Mag Mell,
All the way from the shores of Connacht I /yell – I am /pleading for understanding
Travel that far North, you’d pass through Druim Ligen,
A place where all the merchants might sell you necklaces,
You’ll undoubtedly find a future, one in which you may
Find yourself a new frontier.
If you have to ask
whether there’s life on mars?
Are you seriously considering the possibility?
You belong, you belong, you belong
With the kooks.
The dream eventually comes to fade
And when the realization hits that the pixelated life you’d been living,
From the castles of Tir Na Nog to the lavish fins of the Cursed Forest,
only pseudo holograms of the frontier, Breifine,
Was it worth passing through, a long very time ago?
All the time that has passed.
A Portal across frontiers – pushes them, us, and you effervescently
While the clouds disintegrate,
And as the screen finally loads, the horns have sounded, the also organ plays a newer tune.
With an arrival at the doorstep of Odin’s gate, you’re closer perhaps,
The new smell is as recognizable, as nascent as your grandmother’s stitched cloak, one she could have only woven for you.
It is the smell of blustery winter air.
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on this rock
and scream “A Man Said to the Universe”
at the top of your lungs?
The resigned lines were, in their
own way, an act
of defiance —
in resigning to the indifference
of the universe, you
defied the resignation
to an other-worldly will.
Your voice would crack
at all the right moments,
just enough to make each
recitation unique in its passion
The audience of bugs
and lizards and
would almost applaud,
to tears by your masterful
I can taste the light points, feel them dissolve on the rock, tongue-like tuber gnarled and growing. I can't fully see you, hardly know where to find you in the full heat of the white.
I thought a body could only cast shadows but you cast light.
The beams, do they burn your skin when you move your wrist or shift your weight on the rock? Your skin, not flesh but light points floating around you in sync.
Behind you, the stars, they are looking for you. Is it for them you are waving? They have leant you to the world, I'm afraid they will take you back. Absorbed up there in the millions I might not be able to tell you from the others.
a knot had tightened in the pit of my stomach
with each passing minute
you smiled wearily
and said that you had gone to the edge
the edge of what I asked softly
the edge of time you said
where it is neither day nor night
you were floating you said
in a state of lucidness
neither fully awake nor deeply asleep
I wondered curiously
what it would be like to be on the edge
you felt your soul rise you said
as your body was encompassed
by a brilliant white light
suddenly you laughed
as you remembered how it had warmed
your heart and your bones
late, when there was no one else left to distract me
(no curious children squealing in rock pools,
no coy lovers whispering in alcoves).
When it was at its most quiet, the place helped me
think, because it seemed to put things in perspective,
because there was a built-in contradiction, because
it illustrated the way a boundary doesn’t have to be
a wall, the way it can be something fluid, oscillating,
and permeable as well, allowing thought and sight
to travel so much further than the body.
But ultimately, it was still a stopping point—
nothing ahead apart from the epitome of expanse.
With no way forward, with everything else behind,
with only one way to go, it felt like the ideal place
to regain my bearings, until that evening
when they came for me with their blinding light
and I was utterly disoriented by a third option:
to rising from the dark
ocean floor and the stars
have reached consensus
about their orchestra
of shining, I’ll begin
the pledge of gestures
placing my hand above
the object that we used to call
a heart. Press it hard
against my breastbone
snapping ribs with too much
pressure, making exhalation
painful until the washing
of the light.
to be whole to be sane to be known,
of all the preaching of discovery and love,
of guidance and support,
of forgiveness and tolerance.
Many are left forgotten,
many who does not fit the image,
to be shun and push aside
ignored and avoided, for they preach differently
for they say the words different in tone and emotion.
Those in the lights of saints and angels,
they preach differently, they sing it differently,
not without soul but bursting with it.
They may differ but they are truer than any other.
Practicing what they preach,
In the dark, even in the blazing light,
Never bending never compromising,
what they say is what they do,
to be true, to be honest,
to love and give
In the blazing light
of saints, angels, and the people.
Who they are is what they preach,
never lying, never bending, never kneeling,
they remain true to what they preach
and those they protect.
Yet the turbulence of an inanimate object revealed itself, no wailing now but wandering, no shouting now just holding the place in time and beckoning.
the stilled in whole-length pauses, glow
upon the waving, the
premise is to guide stone
into a shaped silence, attaching
face to sculpture and
movement is the language
needed to demonstrate dialogue...
more so devotion to
-ness is the mathematics
improving language as gauge and
Now our Venus is missing herself.
Her beauty disappeared and clipped,
when Photoshop Botticelli’s hand accidentally slipped.
Or maybe she planned it, so she could skip
away from our ravishing eyes with stealth.
Photoshop Botticelli’s hand accidentally slipped.
Now our Venus is missing herself.
changed our future
the warm alto voice
that lit my face and heart
wavers and whispers in an altered tone
the strong athletic body
now battles through hemiplegia
yin yang thoughts cascade and collide
you’re here, but also gone
should i be thankful?
instead I mourn the death
of so many small, but important things
your sense of time is lost
with the quarter of brain that was damaged
and independence becomes a slow goal
the sharp mind reduced to altered realities
where scams seem plausible and helpers always get their way
physical and emotional
add their final touches to your new persona
you’re here, but gone
and i must abide
empty dreams and nostalgia
the unbalanced remains of a warrior’s life
and the chance to find a new purpose – or not
Standing on a rock
A shadow cast at night
The rocks are harsh and jagged
But in the dark they look smooth and worn
reaching for the light
She hoped there were no thorns
The light it seemed so happy
It seemed so bright and warm
Reaching out to touch it
Hoping to take some home
Was the light in front of her
Or was it coming from behind
Maybe it was happening
Maybe the sun and stars aligned
Then she paused and smiled
Because then she understood
The light it came from within her
and she knew it would be all good
Swallow flocks singing of kept promises and lost feathers
Their songs smelling of the sea
Should I tell you then
that love exists?
That I have seen it lie spread over the rocks
and then turn itself into a eager wave?
That it grew bigger the nearer you went
till it reached for your eyes
and planted a pearl in each?
I see you because the light is in my eyes
The sea has pushed you
deep inside the cocoon
where pain calls itself pleasure
It is working on me now
Secrets ringing in closed shells
The sea gets everywhere
and the salt with it
My secret blooms in brief, noisy outbursts
Some thunder, a smile, a little rain
Then the gloom settles on your shoulders
The closest I can get to you
by tiny hands
iridescent, her wave
to sea dwelling sisters
she shifts weight
a bare footed babe
on salted plinth
to scaled flesh
slit from the gizzards
now a torment
as Dali cave
cragged in relief
jutting jawed & monstrous
the violence of sacrifice
on gilded rock -
in 5-toed scarlet
tattooing lost innocence
as dawn stoops
to tuck in the stars
the sea bed weeps
for a lost daughter
Had become smaller.
Each year they had split
What was left of her
Until her bones,
Grown hard against her flesh
Began to suffocate her.
She travelled to the Night.
And in the darkness
She let the stars pierce her;
With needlepoint light
She found hope.
the petrified remains of the last time the sun burned
in the time of giants.
Giant rocks and giant creatures fused together in the fire.
There's one with a long nose!
Or maybe it's a beak.
And there's a human molar,
And here I stand now,
on my tiny rock.
Now I'm lit by moonlight,
but soon the sun will rise
and consume us
fuse us together
and we are both so small,
I am not sure anything will remain
Twisted, gnarled rocks, hewn and hacked,
pocked in caves, eye sockets,
A boulder, fistlike chunk of you.
Battered and brawled by the ocean,
out of your head
onto the sand.
Here I stand. Staring.
Hairline cracks, fissures, rivers of memories
falling down the gaps,
as if wonky floorboards, opened up,
trickled rock into sand and away.
This beach is the littered lining of your hewn mind,
you stare at me, an empty eye socket, a cave,
suctioning me in,
siphoning my self into a glow.
Should I step in, fill your mind, the way you have filled mine.
or step back sink my toes into these leavings of thought,
strewn across ground,
the ground up ground of your memory.
they light up our face
turn our hair blonde as the moon
twinkling around midnight's brightest tune
The rocks are peace
were we can stand
read from the highest land
do whatever we want
in the night land of sweet bread and honey
were we don't require money.
Inexhaustibility is a childhood fantasy or by-product of materialistic wealth and decadence that fuels the flame of life. Desire for fame, money, recognition is a locomotive that runs as a circuitous Möbius strip, disconnected from nature. From birth the torch ephemeral flickers, its boundaries stretched and tested. Controls to protect each fire of life are imposed by the gaze or sound of the other. Fear of financial, family or religious ruin twinned with laughter and smiles, reinforce success. Culturally choreographed waltzes of age appropriate guidelines form walls and networks of prohibiting signifiers. A maze to be deciphered, as pre-school lessons begin with the first breath, the first cry.
Our androgynous joys of youth burn, until laws of difference are recognised, adhered to, accepted and forgotten. A merging of you, me, we, before the emergent question of, “who am I?” Imagine Piaget’s sixties child at seven, skipping, catching, kiss-chasing, tree climbing and conquering. Dressing up boxes beckoning, full skirts of enticing pantomime-dame cross-dressing. Games of hide and seek with camp fires burning. Shrill voices sing with unbroken innocence. The cudgel of Punchinello is a shadow of social power-play, now tamed within a cybernetic bully-free zone. Read more >
has already been said;
ideas cloaked in pithy
sentences or sometimes
a double-edged sword
that banishes me
from sanity at best,
and myself at worst—
this strange need
to plunge headlong
vanishes when i
set out to varnish
should I wish for it to ring? or will I look back on these moments with envy in their unknowing.
will the knowing bring a return to solid dependable familiarity? everyday journeys. school lunches. budget meetings.
or will it bring new existence? treatment plans. well-meaning comforters. fear.
no, the precipice merely holds balance for as long as its service is required.
maybe I'll stay here just a little while longer.
within extensive number of flashes and junctures,
in this steady and enduring intoxication
with its delirium surges and effluxes,
in the valleys where Knowledge does not need its knowing
and where the calculus towards the Infinitude
conceives the perfect curves and spherical realms,
unbounded, unconstrained with unbroken views,
where the Unseen is expanded by exponential dimensions
there… where illusions and desires have no more matter
no edge for yesterdays and tomorrows and past to be retold
as memory flames dance in verdant lush synchronicities,
I have unmistakably found you…
In the complexity of the simplicity!
And the Eternity…
I sealed it with a kiss!
Thrown away with careless abandon.
Like old bus tickets cluttering up jacket pockets.
Torn, discarded not worth the paper
they are written on – worthless and out of date.
We lost European Countries this year.
Divorced with barely a second thought.
No time or need for reconciliation.
We placed our cross not kiss.
And walked serenely away – Vindicated.
We lost people this year:
We are a decimated Country, World
and Universe – abject in our pain.
Our gains are unprintable.
Our loss is immeasurable.
We look into the void of 2017 and wonder, wonder, And