A Love Letter To An Autumn Thunderstorm

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It doesn’t help to overly romanticise The Girl; a Manic Pixie Nightmare smelling faintly of green meat with greasy hair and black under her fingernails.  Every morning she drew teardrops under those auburn oval windows in eyeliner, in memory of those who didn’t and couldn’t pass the tests.  Every morning she pressed those dirty angelic feet into the same toeless, ripped heels.  Those feet, the soles hardened and yellow, once kicked the life and death out of her own father, and left a streak of explosive blood across the wall; she compared it to a peacock feather.  She was not romantic, but she appreciated actions…. not gestures but actions.  When I took a beating from a gang of ten with pool cues for commenting on her tits she looked down on me like undersole filth and played on with them, as the barkeep swept me into a bucket and threw me outside.  When I pressed a sock filled with chloroform over the mouth of her best friend, and watched as she was strung up by her wrists over a bonfire to dance, The Girl rode me until my pubes were torn from my skin.

Whenever we drove anywhere, no matter the weather, she opened the window and rested her head outside and fell asleep.  In those quiet moments, where I felt safe from knife blades and cigarette burns, her hair flapped like the banners of two ancient armies on the battlefield.

*

I know I can never touch her again, so I touch the things that she once grasped.  I find the pieces of graffiti that fascinated her and I run my fingers over the same lines of paint.  I search in the weeds for the same bottles of glue to huff; they lay empty with the labels slowly fading like memory itself.  I squeeze nettles and thistles and stare down adoringly as the little white bumps form in my palm.  I cut myself on the same pieces of rusted barbed wire in the hope of capturing a few cells of her blood.  In town, stumbling and confused with yellow bandages over my fists, I flick to The Beatles and put on She Loves You and I remember when I had dreams.  Genuine dreams.  Before the transfusions, before they were drained to preserve the lives of many others, who squandered them with pointless admonishes and meaningless children.  She escaped, blasting past the indecision and weakness into the vacuum of non-knowledge, where every eventuality became a natural progression.

I know the songs we both loved have been extinguished from her mind and it terrifies me, so I keep them alive in my own mind.  As memory exists as a lifeforce I wallow in the increasingly diluted and faded colours, see the heartbeat grow faint, and I feel it in my own chest.

*

But I see the echoes every day.  I see three men standing against the sun like curiously shaped monoliths and, in a moment of self righteous frenzy, I pretend they’ve all fucked her and left her for dead.  So, headphones still throbbing into my brain, I launch over a fence with a blade already locked.  I’m all ready to own the ears and lungs of these three bastards when the song changes.  The memory changes.  I’m not standing in front of her, facing up to a certain beating with only a rusty knife, as she disinterestedly smokes a cigarette and puts it out on my shoulder.  I’m thinking of the time she ate a piece of my hair and clutched her stomach telling me she’s now pregnant.  I knew she was messing with me, but in that smile I wanted it to be real.

So now, I’m left standing in a field in front of three men eyeing me with both fear and confusion.  As The Sun sinks behind them I click the blade away in embarrassment, and I swear I can see her eyes swimming around, bumping like tadpoles, in the black spots that cloud my own.

Dead Boxes

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I look across and you are asleep already.  You look so angelic my eyes flood and I blink away the tears that tumble from my eyelashes.  The moonlight illuminates your skin, hiding the dark circles around your eyes and your chewed lips.  In this light you aren’t slumped anymore, but elegant and wise, your jawline casting deep shadow over the nape of a pale, spotted neck.  I feel like an astronaut, peering out of the capsule window over a foreign landscape, looking for a safe place to touch down.

Carefully, I pull the needle from your arm.  In front of me is a chain link fence and, picking a hexagon, I aim the syringe perfectly through… it lands with a faint puff of dust on the other side.  It can’t hurt you now… hurt us now.  I stretch out my boots and click my knees.  My jeans are caked in oil and grime so they creak when they bend.  Running my tongue through my mouth, my feet are as furry as my three year beard.  I wish I could sleep, but my heart keeps beating.  Thump thump thump, it pounds away, the only healthy thing I still own.

We’re resting in the alley, because it’s too warm to sleep.  Even outdoors, the air is heavy and dismal with pollution.  Buildings sweat, trees die, people go away.  From here, between my legs, I can see the churned turmoil of a diseased Earth covered in the detritus and mistakes of Man.  Chimneys and rigs, steel and sulphur, lit artificially and haphazardly and now abandoned, to be reclaimed by a mutated Nature that does not grow so much as manifest and pulse, tentacles of thorns grasping everything it can.  This is Gaia on life-support, her bed left unattended as her flesh rots into weeping sores.

I look over to you again.  Your head has shifted towards me, so I can see the jagged parting in the top of your greasy head.  A single trickle of blood is making its way between the hairs on your arm, so I lick my finger and gently mop it up.  I have dreams of us leaving this place.  Daydreams and night dreams where I get it all together, get a real job, rent a flat, buy a dog, do recycling and go to the funfair to win teddy bears for you.  But I know you can’t do these things.  The umbilical didn’t sever, it just clung on and became septic.  You can’t leave this place and I cannot leave you.  So this is now our life – mossy alleyways covered in graffiti, the rusting monuments of industry, old shacks covered in ivy and stinking of piss that we sleep in when the snow falls from November to March.

We play in the wreckage of those that failed.  But as we get older those paints don’t fade but become bolder.  Old ruins glint sharp.

As long as we still breathe, we still have time.

We don’t have to fail.

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.

Metallic

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We roll up, the tyres cracking and complaining under the broken ground, into the skeletal husk.  In the shell of the old factory the slabs of mottled concrete rise like broken teeth, or gravestones, testaments to mothers, fathers, daughters and sons.  Every surface is tattooed with fallen graffiti artists, leaving their tags in blood red as the light dimmed from their eyes.

Trespass is the least of our crimes, and our crimes are the least of anyone’s around here.  I look across to a vibrant bundle of scarlet hair and anger.  Aged fourteen she found her brother kneeling peacefully in the street with a knife hilt buried in his chest.  She ran over to hug him as he rose his head to the sky, closed his eyes and a single tear ran from the corner down his cheek.  He whispered into her ear; this really hurts, and I need to sleep… if I don’t wake up, know that I love you. 

She broke my ribs last week.  As I crouched, doubled up and breathless, she pointedly remarked; if it makes you feel better, I can feel it too… and it hurts.  She was dangling upside down from a tree at the time.

Now we sit in front of a jagged, arrow shaped monolith, casting a shadow over the car.  Five stories of naked, pointless brick holed five times down the centre by glassless windows and kept up by a few flimsy pieces of tape and warning signs that the whole thing could come down at any moment.  We’re underneath it, and for good measure, I turn the key to shut the engine down.  The stand-off begins.  If it decides to fall today, we won’t have time to react.  I pass the can to her and she passes it back.

Tears regularly form on her eyelashes like icicles.  She tells me; I’m finding it harder and harder to keep breathing forwards.  Then, with a deep sigh that raised her chest to the heavens, she turned her head to face me…. See? 

When I walk down the street with her at night, the streetlights flicker and dim as she walks past them.  I used to think it was her energy fucking with the wiring, but now I realise it is the shadows of her thoughts that swim and dance around her head, blocking out the light, selfishly hogging her soul.

Sucking on the can, she leans back and stares out of the window.  Her voice is half panicked and half relieved when she says; I think I’m dying… I can see angels coming to collect me… I never thought I’d be one of the saved. 

I look ahead; flecks of snow are settling on the car windscreen.

 

Sync

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Stroking your arm, I navigate my fingers over the hairs and goosebumps, trying to read your thoughts like braille.  There are no clouds in this night sky, so we lie alone on the beach sharing our moment with 4 billion years of chemical reactions, and a trillion unknown worlds.  Next to us, the remains of a bonfire quietly hisses and crackles, like a grumpy child reluctantly getting into bed.

I can’t read your arm, but I feel your breathing quickening.  I stroke your cheek and check your racing pulse and this is all I need to know.  You stretch a leg out, one side pale against the night, the other textured with grey sand, a monolith sending out a signal to distant tribes.

….like a monolith sending out a signal to distant tribes.  I think it’s a good line but when I say it out loud you pinch my nipple hard enough that I feel my calf muscles tighten and my ears involuntarily twitch.  Too much?  I ask.  You don’t reply.

In the harbour, we can see the lights of an approaching ship.  A small boat, one of the local fishing tubs that go out from time to time.  The quiet of the night is interrupted by Dancing Queen by ABBA blaring out across the dark water.  As if embarrassed, the stars begin to go out.

As the boat draws nearer, we see a small group of men and women gathered around a large beer cooler.  One guy is standing on the prow with a girl, trying to reinact the scene from Titanic.  It’s a sweet moment, and I feel you nuzzle close to me, until he downs a can, throws it high into the air and shouts BRING US YOUR RUM AND WHORES. 

The boat putt-putt-putts away past the breakwaters, to the sound of cackling.  I look up and say aloud; it’s safe to come out now.  You turn and look at me confused, but one by one the stars reappear above us.

 

Designs

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She’s like every autumnal daydream, but with hairier armpits and an infected toe.  The white bandage, yellowing in spots, pokes out like an eager tumour from open heels.  We walk hand in hand but yards apart, because I’ll interfere with her wings apparently…. oh fucking whatever, woman.  I roll my eyes so often I can feel Sisyphus struggling on my eyelashes.  On the bright side, we can swallow up a busy pavement, sending old people on mobility scooters into oncoming traffic; taking out little kids with no awareness of how hard two fists clamped together with love can be to break.

We eat ice cream in a seaside town, and she laughs at topless old men with pubes on their chest, skin peeling at the shoulders and scrags of chips in the nipples like savoury piercings.  We watch the gentle hiss of the sea as it approaches the bathers, waders, whales and grandmothers, encroaching and retreating like a threatened cat, scared of all this filthy humanity polluting the already brown water with Factor 50.

We pass the arcades where exasperated parents stand bored as little Tarquin and Emily blast the heads off zombies; Mum and Dad are preparing their lines for an earlier breakfast fight not yet settled.  Others wander around with tubs of coppers, like this worthless browngreen shit that you pass on the street is now precious suddenly.

We hear a strange noise, like the very Earth has indigestion.  Behind a row of bucket and spade shops, a ferris wheel is beginning to tilt and then topple.  The screams of the manicled prisoners gradually grow in intensity, starting with individual voices at the top, before being swallowed up in a hurricane wail as the Big Wheel slams down out of sight, in a deafening eruption of dust.  The screams silence immediately, followed by the roar of a laughing tide, and the gradual murmur of paralysed consternation, people on phones, people asking the person next to them what happened, people running to the scene, people rushing to film the carnage.

Huh, look at that she says…. she’s pointing to a blob of ice cream on her nose, and laughing.