Saturn

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Flashback One

I straddle the dead log, keeping my dress down towards my knees and my spirits up.  He flicks his cigarette lighter endlessly, over and over again.  The Marlboro remains in his mouth, unlit, as he stares into the floor.  I realise how little he looks like James Dean.  Everything is there… the white stick, the leather, the brow… but he looks like a little boy in his father’s suit pretending to work at the office.  This is the end.  So I pick a thin stone out from the small bag over my shoulder and carve some initials into the fallen log.  I can tell from his sudden interest that he thinks these are our initials.

‘T’

‘H’

‘I’?

I write; THIS IS THE END…. and whip the stone at him hard, cutting to the bone just above his eye.

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Flashback Two

On the alley stairs, the girl is begging.  She’s crying hard as her clumpy heels crumple and fall and she slides down a damp wall.  Sitting on one of the steps, looking up at me… she pleads I don’t want to fight you. 

Too bad.

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Flashback Three

T_____ once told me; I’m not lost.  I don’t have a destination.  How can I be lost if I don’t know where I’m supposed to go?  There’s a logic there somewhere.

Towards the end, I said; if you love me as you say, why does so much have to change?  She didn’t answer.  Her chin wrinkled like an orange, and she took a deep gulp of air down her throat.  At the time, I thought she was sad at our inevitable demise.  Now I realise she was sad that I’d only just realised.

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Flashback Four

I watched T_____ stand over the girl, begging on the steps, not wanting to fight.  I probably should’ve said or done something but she didn’t need any help.  She drew a fist back – not a slap but a full on closed fist – and demanded the weeping girl get up.  I’d forgotten how big her arms were flexed.  Looking at those four knuckles must’ve been like facing a firing squad without a blindfold.  Eventually, after much pleading, the girl was allowed to leave intact.  I watched as T_____ brushed past me, still full of blood and thunder, out of the alley and into the street beyond.  As the rain began to fall, I found myself torn between following the fury or comforting the wreck.

In the end I sat down on the damp floor.  T_____ was long gone and wouldn’t be back.  I sat listening to the desperate, choking sobs of the girl on the steps.

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Flashback Five

My shot got him good.  Blood poured from his eye socket, down his cheek, over the eyeball.  I leapt off the log and brushed myself clean.  He just stood and looked at me; hands down by his sides, his cigarette now polka-dotted with red.  I walked up to him, embraced him for a kiss and then ate the Marlboro out of his mouth, spitting the flakes and paper into his face with a smile.

Perhaps his destiny was to lie under a train and let it happen.  Perhaps his destination was the sea with a pocket full of rocks.  I walked away across the fields, away from the fallen log.  When I finally turned back, two hundred yards later, he still remained where I had left him, like a dead tree only with less sentience, awaiting instructions on how to fail…. again.

Proximity

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I walk the alleyway, stepping around the burned spoons and questionable puddles, dragging my fingers over flaking bricks, moss and paint. Above me, cleft narrow from the intense black, is the faint dark grey of the night sky lit from below by the many lights that fail to keep anyone safe. I walk this alley because no one else dares to. I walk this alley to get some peace and safety.

The path runs blacker than black before me, and I follow the scents like a dog with its nose glued to the floor. I smell piss, smack and The Righteous; those who believe and who stamp down on those who don’t. I scrape my fingernails over White Power slogans and I caress the multi-coloured forms of gang-tags; The So’n’So Boys, E14 Rebz, Pinky’s Dart Masters…. I don’t fucking know. I’m not a bad person. I don’t know who these people are. I just stare at their art and wonder why they waste their time on robbing the working classes when there’s tens of millions of upper class coin waiting to be shafted for this kind of low-high-brow form. All the Best People have a gangtag covered in perspex in a gallery for chin-strokers to admire. Some of the Really Great People have a corner of their living room for a damp collection of bricks to admire in company and distain when alone.

I round the dog-leg with my heart racing. I don’t believe in astral bullshit but I sensed them before I saw them. An arm grabs me around the neck and throws me against one wall and then the other. Then I hear the voice; a young woman with the rasp of a fifteen year cigarette career, but with the vocabulary of someone who is no older than her mid-twenties. Cold steel catches against my seven o’clock shadow. I’ve felt a few blades at my neck over the years, but this one has been maintained. This blade has been taken care of. The bluffers keep it blunt and for show, the pro’s use it regularly and keep it lethal. It’s sharp.

She demands some things but I’m not listening. I think of my girl in her summer dress, dancing through the weeds. I think of her climbing on the old oil drums, flashing a glimpse of knickers I’ve never seen before, and may never see again depending on how I behave. I think of her in goggles and a thick winter coat setting fire to glue along the flank of her thumb and wrist, inhaling the fumes before shaking the vapours free, leaving her with a smouldering grey line on her skin. I think of her ex-boyfriend, the one who gave her black eyes and made her shoplift for concealer so she could go to school. I think of her gleeful smile as we chloroformed the swine, nailed him to a dead tree and watched his body fit and writhe into darkness as the blood ran red over white wood.

My new friend demands my belongings again and snaps me out of my moment. She whips the blade across my skin causing a deep cut, my skin parting over muscle and flesh like a silent scream. The blade is returned to my throat as the blood pumps warm down my shoulders.

I forget my girl for a moment and search through my pockets… I cannot find my wallet and phone.

 

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.

 

Digest

Sea XIII

Do you remember the story of the monk at the old church?  We took the bus on an icy evening and waited for hours until the moon was warm on our faces and our feet were wet with melted frost, tromping through long grass.  Don’t you remember?

That old church, where the chicken bones were trussed together into crosses, and that teenage lad fell from the tower and broke himself in half over the stone tomb of the priest who’d died in 1886.  We’d gone up there with torches and we heard a noise above, and you shone yours up at him, and he covered his eyes…

….and he came down screaming like a daemon.  And in the dark I thought he had sixteen arms and legs, and his mouth was wide open as though to consume me, and drag me to hell….

….but then he spun around midair as I dived out of the way.  Crack!  On his back, across the raised triangular stone.  Ribs bursting out, blossoming like flower petals opening.  You remember?  The boy gasping, his eyes wide, as we realised he was both alive and dead, until his two parts gently disconnected with a pop and slithered either side to the flagstone floor.

Anyway, I digress. The old monk.  We took that journey so many times.  We read all the books about the monk who flitted around the grounds.  Why do ghosts always flit?  Why don’t they mince or swagger?  That poor boy though.  That poor boy.

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.

Devil’s Whisper

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Her parents once told her she was an accident, and as the years tumbled by she grew into a catastrophe.  She told me; I’m gatecrashing a party here.  I have no rules.  I have no (finger quotes) dress – code.  I exist in a vacuum.  I am in the empty spaces.  I am life.

Or maybe the echo chambers.  I didn’t say that.  It came to me years later whilst going over our conversations again and again and again, trying to find a clue.  I realise now that my one-liner would’ve killed her.  She would’ve laughed, thrown her head back to show me those home-made fillings, those gaps where her brother forced her skull into a doorframe before violently closing it, the tongue chewed into ridges by dreams of murder and foxes eating people alive.  Of course, even if the reply had come to me in the moment, I wouldn’t have said it out loud.  Fuck no.  You don’t walk confidently into a tiger’s enclosure bollock naked, your genitals smeared with meat paste.

She was always a half-step ahead, and me a half-step behind, which created quite a division.  But, crucially, we still walked the same path.  We still tried to reach the same destination, just with different degrees of subtlety.  I drifted with my hands in my pockets, constantly scuffing the front of my shoes because I couldn’t walk with any confidence.  I couldn’t pick up my self esteem and I certainly couldn’t pick up my feet.  I looked down at weeds, dog shit and litter.  I very rarely looked into the sun.

She was a barrel roll of blood, sex and mayhem.  She once attempted to seduce a security guard at the old factory …just fifteen.  When the dirty old bastard finally caved in and planted a kiss on her cheek, as she sat in his lap in a state of disarray, we had him for life.  It was either us or Her Majesty’s Pleasure and he picked us.  We’d turn up at the front gates and leave with whatever we could squeeze into a shopping trolley.  Rugs, pots of glue, tinned beans and joggers.  Meanwhile he got wider, his hair grew thinner, and the bottle of whiskey under his desk got taller.  When she left on a summer holiday for two weeks, he drank an island of liquor and drove his van into the path of a freight train.

One summer, she invented the Firework Crossbow.  I’m not sure I need to explain any further, but I still have the scar on my thigh.  We owned our neighbourhood; a meek infant with plans and a mad bitch with questions.  Tyres got slashed,  houses burned, other people got jail time.  She’d cut the faces out of the local paper; all these confused looking mugshots of guilty men and women who were – for once in their miserable lives – innocent, and paste up a scrapbook.  The Book Of The Damned she smiled.

Wherever she went, they never found a trace.  Just her coat, hanging from a barbed wire fence at the cliff edge.  Her parents spoke, once again and tearfully this time, of ‘accidents’.  As though she had no free will of her own.  She was born a disaster and she lived like a sunrise.  I never visit her empty grave; a mount of earth with nothing in it and a stone with nothing to say.  I run my finger over the white scar on my thigh and I feel it tingle.  I know she is still out there somewhere.

 

Breathe

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Under a single yellow streetlight the hill rises above us, filled with buried treasure, dead leaves and rotten mattresses.  We lie back on the grass uncomfortably – maybe it’s wet or maybe it is just the cold.  One hand on your goosebumped knee, and my little finger teasing the hem of a maroon dress.  As the sun falls and backlights you golden, I see a dark oval where your face used to be, ink blossoming in water into a sudden blindness.  Stumbling and anxious for sensation, I feel the warmth of your breath growing on my cheek.  As the abyss swamps, like a tar tsunami across my pupils, I smell candy milk bottles and Marlboro Lights.  Cracked lips connect with my dry mouth, and a rough tongue sparks between my gums, probing and inquisitive, swimming around behind my teeth looking for a mate… looking for a fight.

Later that evening, I rattle-rattle-rattle my spray can and coat the walls of houses in your name over and over again until it is a mass of red.  I think back to that video you showed me of someone putting a shotgun in his mouth.  The colours, man.  Perhaps I drink too much, perhaps I should lay off the blotter acid, but I dream about red and purple for six months.  I dream about the haunted face, blood pouring from his lips like the saddest clown.  He slumps and breathes involuntary, as his body – confused from having the brain violently removed – falls back on basic instincts, trying to make sense of the senseless, trying to kickstart a car with no engine, no driver, no destination…

Which brings me onto you.  Fucking ghosts.  There’s nothing unreal about you.  I still have the welts and the stings, the burns and the missing teeth.  Ghosts glide through walls, but you hide every day behind walls, and trees and cars, ready to pounce when I am unaware.  And I am always unaware.

I understand now why your hair didn’t smell of shampoo but singe.  I understand why you stole lipstick but never wore it – just decorated the outside of your bedroom mirror with eagles and serpents spilling their intestines in a Promethean loop.  I understand everything now, ten years too late….twenty years too late…. thirty….. I need to stop counting.  Longing is distance times memory minus interaction.  I fight to keep the longing at bay, harder than I ever had to fight against your tight wrist clamps.  I know I’ll only be disappointed when I find out you now have nineteen kids and play squash at the weekend, driving a BMW with the air-con just so; because to me you’ll always be the girl who set my balls on fire whilst I slept.

Our life was a play; just us two unaware of the captive audience.  The third act twist came from a single observation.  We walked hand in hand, our footsteps in perfect sync, down a narrow Walk For Lovers and bordered by the half-demolished shells of old terraced houses looming over us, eyeless with bleached ribs like desert corpses.  No windows, no gardens, no kids or ball games, just burned spoons and lightbulbs, cans of aerosol and empty glue tubes.  We found our old makeout spot, an alleyway connecting the back gardens, and snuck down for an effortless fumble.  Under a dripping oak, leaning against the old wooden fences bleeding black with rot and rainwater, you found our ancient initials miraculously preserved in bold white chalk.  You pushed me away – my fingers still deep in your new lace knickers – to look closely at this fossil.  Tilting your head, you murmered softly; Huh… I didn’t think we’d last this long. 

So now I march to the hill alone, searching the grass like a tracker, trying to find where we lay and left green angels.  When I eventually find the spot I’m dismayed; there’s no memorial here – no pathetic tree with a plaque, no beacon, no illuminated sign with illustrations of our embrace, bookended and bracketed by our years.  Not even a statue of you, head cocked, face cosmically obliterated into total darkness, freckles shining like constellations across your cheekbones.

I sit down, my back to the hill, facing the sky.

And I raise a glass of sunbeams, to the ones that went away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year to you all x