Lines In The Sand (Part I) – Basilike Pappa & Jimmi Campkin

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To call you love would twist my tongue.

I never sing love songs with eyes shut; and neither would I share junk food behind the Hilton with you –exhaust fumes, saucy lips, a light breeze through our hair– before we kiss and go to bed as animals turned pets, our biggest sin forgetting to floss.

But from the moment you said my name, sanity performed a pagan dance, silver jewels gleaming naked.

So why not conspire against the national demand for ironed sheets, and go riding drunk under the moon? Sneaking into each other, we will exchange bass lines, starry eyes, blinding treasures and the secrets to a perfect kill. And if we turn each other into poems in the flesh, we can always blame the weather or a collapsing bridge.

From the moment you said my name, my senses did a pagan dance, spitting out neon, perfumes, smearing lipstick on it all.

So why not kiss all the way down a perfect fall?

But I’d never call you love – I’d rather bite my tongue.

*

My earliest memory of you; on a trampoline, your hair backlit by a radioactive green sun, and one hand reaching for the pale blue above.

Another early memory; a crowd of no-one, pointless under-formed bodies and ill-fitting clothes, and a pair of eyes that parted them like the red sea, like a blowtorch through ice. Your eyes weren’t shimmering, or beautiful like those described by the shit poets you detested so much. You carried harpoons with hooked blades that penetrated my flesh and locked into my ribcage.

The first fuck; freezing cold behind the bowling alley, knocking over beer bottles with our feet. Your jeans down to your Chuck Taylors, my boxers locking my knees together, our breath mingling, my cock fighting to stay alive between you and the frost.

You are my nightmare, and I cry to hear the words I want.

But you always look away, and those dangerous eyes dull and fade like the end of a candle.

When we kiss, I suck the air out of you and keep it in my lungs. You tell me I’m a terrible kisser, that I devour you. And I say nothing, but think the same words…. and your point would be what?

*

Our first fuck be damned.

We went deep into the orange grove, where the trees wear climber thorns for hair and our feet sink in the undergrowth. I showed you the house of stone and ivy. Snakes, I said; spiders and rats; these weeds feed on dead oranges. Insects, dust, maybe someone forever hanging from the ceiling, or someone mad and hungry. Still you wanted to go in. I waited for you outside, waited until the night thickened and my skin began to peel off. I thought to come find you, get you out of there, take you away from the grove and back into the streets of lamplight and Saturday best. One shin-tangled step towards the door, two in shoes of lead. You said my name, your voice a whisper in my ear, but you were not next to me. I saw you standing at the window, behind shards of glass hanging on to the blistered sash. The grove was still as I watched your lips stretch back from your teeth to shape a smile mad and hungry. All around us fallen oranges leaving their last rotten breaths on the ground, soft green flesh feeding the weeds.

The ceiling, I thought; the chair I left my clothes on. But the smell lingered in the room and I couldn’t blink it away. I kicked off the covers, sat up and started sniffing at my skin. There, on my thighs and knees, I found the smell of oranges and dark earth – where our bodies came together in spasmody, that frostbitten fuck be damned.

You smell like home.

You smell like me.

 

*

Words by Basilike Pappa & Jimmi Campkin

Photography by Jimmi Campkin

Silent Hour sits with a notebook on its lap or in front of a computer. Its pen is fine-tipped and black, its current notebook is also black and almost finished, and the computer is rather old. Silent Hour is mostly night.

There is a window in Silent Hour’s room. A blue neon light appears from time to time across the street. It comes from a recording studio, whose owner seems to also prefer the night. Silent Hour misses the light when it’s not on.

Silent Hour is a bookmonger and a wordcubine. It reads, writes, watches.  It is thread wrapped around a spinning wheel.  It howls with the wolves with whom it wants to be.

Silent Hour is Basilike Pappa.

Crimson Lips

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I took her to the disused railway line.  The trees form a green tunnel, with patchwork sunlight dappling through the leaves.  Looking eastbound, I see a circle of green pierced by light and flanked by the twin brown lines running to meet in the distance.  In dim shade, there are grey walls coated in faded paint, covered in the icons of those who no longer walk here.  In the long grass burned spoons and aerosol cans, all the pathetic detritus of a people that have failed their home.

When I told her where we were going, she rolled her eyes… must we?  Haven’t we done this already? 

She told me once; I have fantasies about being tied to the tracks, bound at the wrists and ankles, as a train is approaching. 

She told me; I feel the vibration from the rails on my skin and in my bones and I’m writhing to get away, pushing my chest out, and I can’t… I just can’t.

And I have to walk away.  I can’t abide the thought of her in peril, but I can’t explain the bulge in my jeans either, or my dry mouth, or my breathlessness, or that I’m trembling like I’m cold under this midsummer sun.

So I bring her back here out of confusion.  I’d never tie her to these rusty old girders, and no train has run down here in sixty years.  I just want to hear her story again.  I want to hear her desire something.

Creased

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We are such delinquents, and what a joy it is to swill that word around our mouths like bad bourbon.  So what if we’ve started a few fires?  You can walk on water and I can follow in your footsteps.  You tread the waves flat and I aim for the shoeprint.  It’s easy.  It’s so easy.

Because this is what we do.  This isn’t an affectation or a hobby or a cry for help.  This is why we breathe.  Surfing clouds is easy, swimming in a blue sky is easy.  Opening our eyes to the rain and letting it drip on our cornea’s without blinking is easy.  We run our fingertips through the concrete of a subway and carve our names into the dust and disappointment, and it is easy. 

Time to soar, time to beg for more.  A handful of hair and a crease on the hip, we collide and disperse, atoms flirting through space and dancing around our charges.  I inhale the scents of activity – cheap ass perfume covering the seven days since you last saw a shower, the rich iron of your recent cycle and dry sand in your armpits, in the folds under your knees.

I whip off your dress in one motion, drive a stake through the shoulder hoops, and plant it firmly in the ground, in the name of…. something.  Flapping in the breeze we get down to the basic instincts, as the stars revolve above us like voyeurs, trying to appear indifferent but unable to stop staring.  I finish too soon – and isn’t that a well told story without a decent ending – but for once you don’t seem to mind.  Lying on the beach, our only contact is your ankle crossed over mine.  I’m breathing deeply, sticky with all manner of things, but you lie still, absorbing the constellations into your eyes.  When I look across I can see them glittering like sunlight on fresh snow, changing with every blink, and every languid puff of your awful smelling cigarettes.

It’s hard knowing someone who only comes out at night.  I walk alleyways and shopping centres, fields and forests, trying to find the point of it all, waiting for the sun to die and my hope to rise.  But every now and then, under the unforgiving and judgemental glare of daylight, I hear a familiar noise and look up.  I see the kite’s flying above, swooping in circles, wings hooked like your shoulderblades, and all is well in this garish, vulgar, unsubtle world.

 

Weave

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In the dream, she walks behind me as I stand in front of something impossible, trying to find my way around it.  She wraps her tentacles around my waist with a squeeze and I feel her breath on the back of my neck.  My hair, and everything else, stands to immediate and obediant attention.  When did I get so submissive?  I feel her breasts pressing into my ribcage and her heartbeat thumps against my spine, playing the bones like a xylophone.  I can feel the nerves dancing in my heels.

Nothing is impossible inside your forcefield.  Wearing you like a rucksack, with your arms wrapped around my neck and your legs hooked under my arms we flatten mountains and part seas.  We stomp across suspension bridges, leaving rippling waves that send cars and coaches flying into the air and over the edge.  We reduce cathedrals into dust and snort an ecclesiastical line or two from our forearms.  Your long scarlett red hair hisses like serpents and cuts like a molten whip, slicing through the forearms and necks of any fool who steps in our way.  We collect limbs like pennies in a casino flattened by a tornado.

I offer impossible things, because I like it when you bite my ear in irritation.  One day, we walk into the sea with our pockets full of rocks, to see the shipwrecks and pickpocket the dead.  I know that this is an impossibility too far, and as the cold water curls around my ankles and then my knees, I realise that I’m feeling for the first time.  We go under into a deep blue and I cannot breathe.  I stumble along, in the vague direction of the skeletons of ships, seaweed waving us away, until your heel nudges me in the hip.  You’re pointing in the direction of a metal husk, with eyeless sockets where the Captain’s bridge used to be, and a broken bow like a dislocated jaw.

I trudge over, but my feet are getting heavier, or you are getting heavier, or the tide is pushing us back.  I turn my head to meet yours and we kiss, but I realise as our lips meet that you are struggling as well.  I taste your tongue, mingling with sea water, and we break apart, our lungs convulsing as you hold me tighter than you have ever done before.  Arms around my neck, my ribcage compressed and your heartbeat now beating tribally against my back.

I wake up face down.  My pillows have been violently tossed out from under my head and are resting on my back where your breasts once were.  There’s blood on the sheets from chewing my lips apart.  I’ve gripped the sheets so hard, my fingers have pushed through.  Every muscle is locked tight.  I roll over with some effort and stare at the ceiling until I can escape impossibility and return to a safety I don’t want anymore.

 

Pelt

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I bleed always

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Translucent and odourless, it flows cold

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Flavourless and…. pointless?

No.

Not pointless.

Wrong word.

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The grief of distant stars…

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…no longer there…

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…the light reaching us too late.

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Can you be saved?

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Do you need?

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Do you want?

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Touch your fingers

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Eyelash-kiss my moist cheeks again…

 

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As you snore in my arms, the vibrations run through me like the tremors of an earthquake; the ripples spreading out like stones hurled into a pond.

Your sonorous baritone makes my atoms dance.

I see my reflection in your eyes and I’m always dying.  Always falling to my knees clutching my chest or covering a wound on my neck.  Always clinging to life inside that perfect circle of black.

Hide me under a quilt so I can bury my tongue between your legs, picking hairs out of my teeth.  I’ll wet my broken lips against your sex, nodding my head…

slowly….

slowly…..

slowly….

…agreeing with everything you say.  Hide me under the sheets, leave me to nest between your thighs and not come out until the spring.

 

*******

I put down my cup of tea on the table and pretend to scratch my nose; actually, I’m sniffing my fingers.  I’m wearing her black thong under my skinny jeans, so my cock is half squashed and half rubbed raw against the zip fly.  My hair is filled with her shampoo.  My teeth glisten with her toothpaste.

*

The question is asked

__ ___ ____ ____ ______ _____?

and I reply;

Excuse the language, mother…

…but I fucking love her.

 

Sanctuary II

 

Sanctuary II is here.

As with Sanctuary, it is a combination of my pictures and my writing.  Please click here if you wish to purchase a copy.

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The Boy is translucent as he approaches me.  Like a new born fish, his organs shimmer and float behind the gelatinous transparent frame of his indistinct figure.  I see them – a jumbled mass of reds and purples, pulsing and writhing like a basket of kittens, here and there spleens and kidneys jostle for attention.  I try not to look at his head, which is horrific.  Beige teeth suspended and a pair of dreadful eyes, innocent to their own disfigurements.  To see the eyes so perfectly circular, wreathed with veins like seaweed running back from the perfectly round irises.

Through his arms, the ground fluctuates as though behind a heavy heat haze.  Distorted as though made from soap bubbles, he offers out something like a hand.  I have taken far too high a dosage.  I should never have listened to him.  This boy, this fucking idiot, with a pain threshold so distant he could human cannonball through a barbed wire fence and he would complain only about the damage to his clothes.  I want to punch him right now, but to aim for his head would mean looking at it.  Any lower, my fist would plunge into cold jelly and through his vitals.  My hand would emerge, red and silver with blood and juices, as the transparent figure filled with pale.

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To distract myself I look at the ground but this doesn’t help me.  I can see past my feet and through the Earth.  I am standing, as though on a pane of glass, over a huge chasm.  Below me I can see the crusts of the planet crashing and bumping like jetsam, drifting on a sea of lava; a whirlpool around a solid magnetic sphere of impossibly shiny metal, as hard and slippery as marble.  Beyond that I can see the rest of the world getting on with their lives – the Chinese poor running fat westerners around Beijing, Australian farmers kicking up plumes of dust in their jeeps, and a solid band of rough blues as the Pacific sweeps around on a never-ending current.

I see everything and it is too much.  I fall against a tree that begins to absorb my arm.  I feel the gentle warmth of a hot towel draped over my shoulder.  I slide inside it, falling through the rings, falling through laughter and industry, laughing and thunderstorms, through the seventy five circles of human hell this tree has endured and survived, until I am face down on the floor looking down through the world.  The sphere throws magma against the glass and a few specks penetrate through and burn my face.  It vibrates and blurs in my vision as though sending out a sonar warning, as though threatened, and another huge wave of red hot molten rock crashes inches from my face and I can sense the ground beneath me beginning to give way.  I am screaming.  I am screaming for my life.  I am screaming for a lifelong fear of burning alive, sinking oh so slowly into lava, feeling my bones melt and my nerve endings hammered like guitar strings.

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I scream myself hoarse until I am just wheezing and hacking.  At that moment, something grabs me around my waist and lifts me high.  The world falls away, the lava still crashes fruitlessly, the sphere calms down into a steady, relaxed heartbeat.  I begin to cackle out loud, laughing as best I can with no voice.

The Boy asks me if I’m okay.  He’s hauled me up by my shoulders as I lay face down in a bed of stinging nettles.  He is fully fleshed now; only when I stare at him for too long does his skin tone fade away like old paint to reveal the damage within.  I grab his shoulders with the desperation of a lost widower, searching for an anchor in this messy trip.  I cannot focus too long and yet he keeps bringing those horrible eyes close to mine.  Through all the carnage, I can sense and feel and maybe even see his concern.  His fingers grow like vines over my shoulder blades and I make a point of not looking at them.

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It takes me a couple of hours to calm down.  I am exhausted and my face is a blotchy patchwork of red and white bumps.  The Boy tracked down the right leaves to rub across my cheeks but it is my eyelids that cause me the most grief.  I cannot stop frowning, pressing deep furrows into my forehead to take the pressure off my eyes.  If I move my head sharply the entire world evaporates like a sulphuric acid filled snow-globe, so I make careful and slow gestures.  My head moves with the gentle grace of a satellite dish.  Slow, deliberate and searching.

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To calm me down, he tells me the story of how he met Her.  Riding on a condensation filled bus, the windows greyed to the outside world, he saw a bundle of clothes and shoes not far from his seat.  Curled up like a dead spider, her arms and legs folded into themselves, she dozed and bumped her way through a dull landscape until the dank yellow lights of the city strobed into view.  In one glance he saw the arms clasped tight to her chest, the boots tucked under her bottom, her knees jammed into her chest.  Seconds later, on a second glance, she was very much awake and staring straight at him.

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Ten minutes had passed on a half empty bus and The Girl continued to stare – not with flirtation but a clinical curiosity.  As he met her eyes, she never broke away from the glance but held it like a weight-lifter’s handshake, and her head tilted and twitched with the unnerving intelligence of a wild and dangerous animal.  In desperation he tore himself away from her and even as her thought processes burned into his collarbone he reached out a trembling arm and wrote ‘HI J’ into the condensation on the window.

When he finally plucked up the courage to look back her head had fallen deathly still, but the eyes now locked on him, unblinking and committed.

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I cannot lie; I’ve reacted badly to this experience.  The Boy was kind to me but I’m inside the shell of a front loading washing machine and I think I am a sock being thrown around a spin cycle.  The Boy is so sympathetic and so kind, it makes me feel awful to know how the story ends up.  How one day he will swing so inelegantly above that patch of nettles that disfigured me.  I can feel hot water rushing over my arms, hot red water that flows like a delta through my hairs and drips from the jagged pieces of torn metal inside this machine.  In my fucked up head I’ve blamed the smell of piss on darker forces, but my shoes are wet through as is most of my lower half.

The Boy has crossed to the other side of the old railway line and he’s leaning back against a wall covered in half a century of graffiti – from the asinine to the political – from the National Front to gang tags.  I have this memory burned deep inside my neurosis because I am so close and yet so distant, as though I am viewing him through a reversed fish-eye lens.  He is looking back at me and I cannot tell if it is sympathy or revulsion or fear or just disconnect.  He helps me piece everything together in the end, but he won’t tell me about this final image.  I rock back and forth inside this rusting piece of white good trash and The Boy of nosebleeds and fatal attractions is suddenly so effortlessly disengaged…. it annoys me how bent I was.  Or is this part of the hallucination?  He never lets on.

Instead he reclines, one foot cocked back and planted firm against the concrete, as the neon shapes and slogans ripple around him like a kaleidoscope, and I’m staring into a desperate weed poking out of tar covered ballast trying to find some kind of focus.  He may be smoking, or he may be scratching his chin.  I let out another scream, a noise so loud I see it ripple and distort the air, and he watches me with the tolerance of an Edwardian governess.  Later that night he brings me food and water because the stars are moving too fast across the sky and I can’t focus on my own hands enough to crawl.

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I put my cigarettes out on the husk of that washer now because I remember what I did before that; what I did the day I found him.  I don’t need his substances to see the ghost, reclining and disaffected.  When the wind rushes through winter twigs and brushes cold hands against trailing ivy I swing around as though hunted by assassins.  I know he is there and he has questions for me.  I know that I have questions for him.  I know that we can never ask them again.