Diesel

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Pitter patter on my head, standing on a corner of this piece of the world, spat from a cancerous jaw.  Closing my eyes I taste the acid and corruption, as the ground and leaves hiss around me.  Inhaling the stale scents of chemicals and chalk, melting and bubbling under my useless feet, the sky turns brown and attempts to end our lives again.

When the rain sweeps in I can’t see beyond the end of the road.  I look towards my escape route guarded by a white mist and unknowable shapes, voices, actions… gestures I cannot recognise.  I turn away and look back at those dull, disinterested buildings, knowing that I’ll never leave their lethargy.

Under a little fort of rusted oil drums, I lie face down on the cold concrete floor until the dust sticks to my skin.  As green fades to grey, our memories are built upon and ‘modernised’.  My fingernails are raw and chipped from clawing at the ground, trying to find our dreams and footprints.  Some dim echo of old laughter or a lost conversation still softly bouncing around in the deep places of the Earth, unmolested by experience.  I have to find them before they stop bouncing, and simply pop like a soap bubble in a field of brambles.

When the Sun breaks through the miasma I stretch my muscles, pulling all my cells apart to allow as much heat and light in as possible.  In this dank, ruined iron shelter, I live for colours.

Saturdays

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I remember those Saturday nights, sitting cross legged on our old maroon carpet.  I have the apartment to myself, as I often did, and there’s wrestling on TV.  WCW Nitro on TNT, beamed all the way from the US to this little boy in England.  The picture quality is terrible, but it adds to the outlaw feel, the sense of watching something I shouldn’t.  I never confess my wrestling love to anyone except one or two, and I’d turn the TV off as quickly as if I were watching some soft-core erotic thriller, frantically trying to beat off during the two minutes of low lighting and sighing.

I get up from the couch and pad over to the smaller living room window that looks out across town.  We’re on the top floor and below, the lights twinkle and pulse, running like a field of neon wheat towards the black mass of the distant hills.  In the background, Goldberg spears another jobber or maybe Rey Mysterio leaps from the top rope and splashes everyone.  I turn the TV off and grab my coat.

The front door is always heavy and I’m not technically allowed out.  I know the neighbours all have ears so I pad down the cold steps carefully, lit like a mortuary slab.  Each apartment block has a different smell – the one next to ours smells weird and I get panic attacks even going past the door – but this smells like home.  Carefully, I open the main door and quickly slip down the path before the curtains start twitching.

I quickly walk to the end of my road.  I can hear the hum of a drunk town, interjected by random shrieks and laughter.  Sometimes I stay up until dawn looking out for lost stragglers who shamble through the estate, keeping an eye on them, making sure they aren’t causing trouble.  I feel cold and strange, standing as though waiting for a bus, and I’m aware of time ticking away.

Walking back through my road, I pass the small hill where we build our dens under the shadow of a warehouse.  In the distance I can see the jagged silhouette of the old factories long since closed down, where the old railway line runs.  I won’t go near that area at night.  As I walk back, I realise everything feels different; not just the lack of light, but as though I’m drowning in clean oxygen.  I can walk a lot faster and run like a sprinter.

I’m back home when my parents get in.  After they sleep I creep back into the living room, open a couple of cans of beer and watch MTV until dawn.  Banned music videos and Jackass.  I sink into the cigar-smelling chair of my father and wiggle my toes at the horror and the juvenile – everything I can get behind, the feeling of living off-grid and without rules.  Hiding the cans at the bottom of the trash, I dream of a future I haven’t had.

Forgotten

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I numb my mind and retreat into the safe places, because it is easier to live a happy life backwards than a disappointing one forwards.  I tell her this, but then I fall asleep in her navel, and when I wake up the world is full of plans again.  She would’ve made a great war general, but there are no wars big enough for her mind these days… no grand epics where sixty thousand people stand in lines in a field and cleave each other’s arms and legs from their sockets.

She told me; I don’t dream anymore, I just lie through pieces of sleep where I know I cannot be harmed. 

The problem as I see it is this; too many people, with whom she forms intimate connections with, end up dead.  And it isn’t always her fault.  I see her in fields of failing wheat trying to outglare sunsets.  I see her up to her knees in water trying to change the course of waterfalls, trying to open curtains to other realms.  I sit as a passenger in her car as she blasts two grooves into the tarmac, naked and gruesome as birth, hurling abuse at anything unlucky enough to be enjoying an evening stroll on our route.

I tell her to stop drinking.  She replies; I will stop drinking when you can present me with a better alternative to sobriety.  And it is hard to disagree with that.  We share the same brown bottles.  We share oblivion.

Estimate

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I remember, on a hot summer day, her standing silhouetted against the sun with two enormous clouds behind her like a pair of mismatched wings.  I remember rolling around in the wet soil, as we crouched from the thunderstorm; when giggles turned to kisses and tickles turned to fucks.  I remember the smells – the faint almost minty scent of dry alkaline earth, citrus deoderant and perfume, the rusty iron tang of blood for which she apologised but showed no sign of wanting to stop.  I remember peeling off wet socks and emptying my shoes after we ran across the boating lake to stop a group of male ducks from ganging up on a female with a limp.

As colour drains from memory, and so the scents fade into dust.  The wet earth becomes brittle clods again, the blood dries and flakes, the perfume destroys itself into lousy bacteria and the clouds turn to rain which pass by and are gone before the first shoots of spring can taste it.

She once said, ever the sweet little cynic; “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage… one being whipped just to drag the other.”  I used to love those killer little lines she’d drop like stones in a perfectly still pond, just to see how far the ripples would travel and for how long.  This is why we aren’t together anymore – I spent far too long trying to decide if what she said was profound, or stupid or neither.

 

 

 

Debris

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On a stale summer evening, balancing on a single rail, I light a cigarette and let my eyes water over filthy cheeks as the smoke washes over me.  I feel the dirt when I smile, and I feel the tears dancing through the grime when I cry, so I do neither.  Kicking through the litter and detritus, I listen for the sharp warning blasts from the freight trains that steam and rumble past dragging waggons full of sulphur, or rattling past carrying nothing but dead air and waste.

I dream of climbing the trees I sometimes see on torn billboards, and on the faded juice bottle labels.  Sometimes I’ll steal a fresh one from Frankie’s Shop – I go in with a piece of glass melted into a toothbrush handle and threaten his one remaining eye.  The poor old bastard just nods and holds up money as I go for the broken freezer cabinet and brace for the flies that buzz around the milk.  I run as fast as my panic will let me, even though I know he’ll never tell.

Around the corner, across the car park, behind the burger van and through the fence onto the railway that severs the town into two rotten apple halves, I sit on the floor and stare at the label.  I dream of trees, and I dream of the day I can climb one just to be closer to the sky – the hazy blue I see beyond the veil of ochre.  There are no real trees here; just cold lifeless and slippery searchlights, and the harsh pylons who guard like diseased and underfed sentinels, wrapped in sharp wire and frying all but the few coughing birds who pass through.

I’ve never wished for anything – just more colours than grey and the oxidised brown rust that gets under my fingernails and stains my hair.

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As the amber evening turns into a dark brown night, I climb the disintergrating wooden steps up to the old signal box.  The mattress is finally dry and the room is quiet and warm.  I feel the glow from the remains of the day through the broken window panes and I know tonight I will sleep better than I have done in three months.

I go to a corner of the room and remove a pile of rags – inside is a box of dumped fireworks.  I light one and send it up through the hole in the roof above my bed.  With a whistle it flies, followed by blue lines like thin leaves, a loud pop, and then the dull purples as the colour mingles with the air, and the sparks descend like doomed paratroopers.  I hope she has seen my signal, and I hope she will return soon.

I need my girl, and for those octopus arms to entwine me safe.

 

Grove

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Walking across a dark, rainy bridge of suicides, I can feel her tender hands around mine keeping me from the edge.  Around us, drifts of snow are piled and dirty like dead sheep, but there’s gold in those eyes and silver glinting in those teeth.

We will always walk this path, even now… even thirty years after the fact when your face is covered by the mist of a few broken hearts, a few hundred whiskeys and a few thousand dull days staring into faces as bland as dinner plates.  I sit on the floor, surrounded by a week’s worth of TV dinners buzzing with insects, and I clench my hand into a fist… and as the nails dig into my skin I feel the warmth of yours.  Wherever you are now – happy, no doubt – you will never know how often you save me.

On rainy evenings, I throw on a rucksack and trudge out into the mire.  Ignoring the hiss of passing cars in the spray, and the glare of headlights, I stare down at the soft colours – all those sunflower yellows from reflected streetlights, dark purples and blues from the oily puddles under my feet, and the black mass of the old bridge as solid as a marble tomb.

I don’t sleep anymore, I just shut my eyes and think of the nice things I want to have.  I wiggle my toes under the blanket and imagine cool grass and innocence, before I burned myself on finite desire.

Abhor

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We always tried to be angels, but her smile made me want to spit in the face of God.  We tore along the street like lava, consuming everything in our wake.  When she grabbed my hand and told me to stop, I watched her vault into the open top of a sports car and wink at me – one hand on the wheel, one arm propped on the door.  As I stared, waiting for the punchline, I heard it… the steady hiss of piss as she wet herself and the leather interior before vaulting away.

Sure, we smashed a few windows, and sure, we upset a few natives.  We ran to the churchyard and pulled down as many slabs as we could before mounting each other on the cold slab of a former vicar.  She rode me, legs splayed wide across my hips, jeans still hanging off one ankle and dripping yellow, t-shirt knotted up and arms out to receive the sun.  We came in unison and rolled off, landing with a winding thud in a pile of autumn leaves.  Kissing my nose, she bit her lip and for a moment I saw true love… true companionship…lying in the hundred scents of a thousand dry brown leaves.

Lying under the stars later that evening, she points at one and says ‘Mary Linskill.’ Then another, ‘Alfred Broe’.  When I ask she tells me; these are the names of the people whose tombs we upset….and the stars are their spirits in the dark.