The Sun from Indoors

I’ve forgotten what the sun looks like. Ergo: the sun could now look like anything. Ergo: the sun could now have dimmed, touched twice by the drowsy hand of a titan that wants to sleep but is scared of the dark.

The sun could be warped, through perspective or decay, into an oval shape, while stateside ornithologists everywhere appear on the news to claim, with diminishing incredulity, that it can’t be a coincidence how closely it resembles the egg of a bald eagle.

The sun could now resemble the moon, cratered and cold. Or, it could uncannily resemble my face, equally cratered and cold after six years confined indoors.

The sun could now simply be a giant, gently throbbing tit in the sky.

I think you’ll agree that this last notion is the most likely. The great tit in the sky, watching over and feeding and nourishing until bedtime, when she leaves us, over the hills, to go tend to her many, many other families. She unequivocally loves us all equally – she would promise this if asked, but we wouldn’t ask that of her, because we worship her.

We wake up before she arrives, get wrapped up in the skins of animals and traipse up mountains, through prickly bushes and cobwebbed paths of desire, just to be the first to see her when she gets through the door.

While she’s with us, we roll, like trusting predators, on to our backs. We capture her in murals; we build our homes to face her; we dry, soak blush and drench our tomatoes in her glorious, abundant sight.

Then, as she picks up her orange cloak to leave, we chase her down the street. We go beyond our horizons and stand, with our toes touching the edges of oceans, pleading playfully for her to stay and asking for evermore parting words. We do this because we are safe in the knowledge that we can do it all again tomorrow. To the sun, our naivety is crude and excusable, because we will always be children.

Given the length of my ‘stay’ inside the embassy building, it is also entirely possible that the sun has been replaced with a constant cloud and my hosts have chosen not to tell me.

If this is so, I thank them for their discretion. Because hope is the only childish thing we must never put down, and it only survives on the promise of a tomorrow.

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Lord Help Them [found words: September 2014]

I do hate to eavesdrop (lie), and I do hate to judge (lie), but the pair sat beside me, having unwittingly allowed me within listening and critiquing proximity, have put me in a position where I feel I must protest, or otherwise be complicit.

The woman closer to me, brunette, cute profile, small features, hair up in an attractively messy way, she is most likely the younger of the two. The other woman is grey-haired, artistic-looking, and aggressively self-deprecating.

A moment ago the pair caught my attention because Grey spat out the world “revolting” with such, well, revulsion, that I felt something awful must be happened in the new vicinity. But it transpired that her ejaculation, which suggested the utmost level of disgust, there was in fact no terrible event in sight. No drunk had wondered in to vomit in her chai latte, no Alsatian had squatted on her lap to do a shit, there was no flagrant neo-Nazi supporter slapping an old Jewish granddad in the far corner. No, no, what disgusted her lay just beneath her cardigan, which she now lifted, for the benefit of her companion, in order to deliver to her own flesh an unkind and gratuitous poke. But, of course, really it was for the benefit of the entire room – extending the message to all who may have registered her existence that “yes, I know you’re all thinking it but NO I am not really this shape, this body is not really mine, and I find it as repellent as you do!”

As a member of the café congregation, I am offended by this presumption.

These two have since moved on to discussing how very hard it is to exist, how awful bacon is, how cheese is literally the work of the Devil, how one’s entire fridge is simply always out to get on all the time.

But oh god how I love lentils, yes I just love lentils I love them, I’m replacing all the potatoes in my diet with pulses at the moment yuh-huh they are just SO much better for you – not that you can tell haha I still look like a pig haha!

Gosh, life is so hard isn’t it?

I will wait this out. I have faith.

Don’t get me wrong, their conversation doesn’t need to serve the greater good or add to the philosophical cannon, just give us a sparkle of something that doesn’t denounce the entire miracle that is the functioning human body. Even in their desperately difficult situations.

I have faith. That said, it’s been a good 30 minutes now.

Lord someone help them before their fridges’ makes them eat cheese!

 

 

BLINDED VISORS WAKE ANGRILY

I, blinded by the wake,

angrily walked to the advisor,

I found a token queue

(for mending and binding).

Peaking in through the blinds,

I found voyeurs and visitors,

to my own wake.

 

My blinded vision had never been my visor,

but a binding visit to danger,

my unwaking body

I’d like to wager

a token, displayed by the advisor,

in an oh-so visible manger.

 

My (unwaking) body

no longer walking

but still abound in the signs of silence

and pools of anger

that held our people

in this untalking land.

 

 

This is one of two in a recently unearthed pile of Chomsky-inspired pieces, see https://bit.ly/1SXGr3g for an explanation.

Waistcoat [an extract]

At the point at which I lurched into the nearest and darkest café, I was riding on a wave of fresh possibilities: I had embraced a new palette of shades that I could accurately describe as ‘unapologetic’.  I would buy a dozen more of these patched waistcoats; I would grow my greys into a swollen quiff; I would wear my new waistcoats shirtless at gigs. I would shave my chest and wax my balls.

I would have to ease the new colourful me into the office of course, but in social surroundings I would simply be the new peacock in town.  Young men would laugh about me with their friends, stroke my beard in a mocking photo, but then return for more after a few salty-rimmed cocktails.

But as I had watched the lean boy walk away, it seemed that the buckle of his definitely-not-lederhosen had caught on the flimsy edge of my new identity. As he left it peeled away, revealing only I, and a slouching brown paper bag containing my impotent purchase.

The reckless malleability of youth!  Regardless of the actual inquisitiveness of the subject, the young thing is constantly learning, and is constantly redefined by its surroundings.  It is a bright little globule of colour that learns what it is by discovering what it is not.  That boy’s feelers skulked out and, distinguishing unfamiliar creases under the cheeks, around the eyes, over the brow (and in more places than my pride would survive listing), they drew back in and buoyed up their vessel with the renewed understanding that they are young because they are not old.

There is no law against the theft of vitality or vibrancy or vigor or whatever V is your preferred understanding of life, perhaps because we all conduct small-to-devastating acts of it throughout our time.  Were it a criminal act, this boy would be the equivalent of an amateur jewellery thief, sticking the gaudy emeralds and rubies in his pockets, missing the prize diamond completely.  I, on the other hand, would be something like a cold-calling con artist.  My point here is that I would survive this boy’s unconscious yet reductive assessment of my attempted makeover for one simple reason: he had filched my potential future, but I’d already embezzled his fictional past.

Is it a sin to know a person without their permission?  I had known this one’s replica intimately, and what is a replica if not a reflection?  And what is a reflection without its source?  Which made this walking-talking version of my long gone lover mine, in some small part.

If the subject is never aware that they are being passively owned, then what damage is done?  If you dote over an adopted stray cat for a dozen years only to discover, as it falls past your window from the apartment above, that it was never really yours, but the property of the rather forgetful elderly couple on the third floor, do you really feel cheated?  If you lived 70 years in your own home only to find out on your deathbed that you had been only renting, would you really be so rattled?

One could say your image is not yours to begin with, being as it is so much more present in the lives of others than it is in your own.  Which is perhaps why narcissists, naturally reluctant to give up ownership of their image, never succeed in relationships.  If it is just an aesthetic substance that we abuse, then how could abuse of such a small, unconscious segment of a human harm the subject?

I could be laid out stricken in a hospital bed some day and this partial/spliced non-memory may be my only relief!  I am old enough already; I cannot afford to lose memories simply because of their constantly extending proximity to my present.  I have memories I cannot afford to lose.

STEEP HORIZONS EDGE OUR SHIRT CUFFS

 

Your edges are my horizons

when you cuff me with your edges

(and I am left on your shirt cuffs)

our horizons are edged with red,

and our boarders meet.

 

When you make me horizontal

and step up to my horizons

there is no more between us

and you steep me in the very edges of you,

I drown.

 

 

This takes some explaining.

I began by trying (quite unsuccessfully) to mimic Noam Chomsky’s grammatically correct but semantically nonsensical sentence ‘colourless green ideas sleep furiously’ (http://bit.ly/1NFkKTv%5D) and used that sentence – the above title – as a rule restricting the vocabulary of what followed, the idea being that I use only words which were similar in sound or definition to those in the original sentence.

Tricky, yes, but it’s a good place to find inspiration and very fun to rediscover (to your utter bafflement and concern) in the back of a notepad after a few months.

Broken in Three Places

Broken in three places. That was the first thought George had about the young man who walked in that day. The rest was arbitrary, after that first thought the young man’s place was set, much like his bones, jiggered back into some semblance of their former perfection by a professional pair of hands – those pairs of hands that daily perform dozens of small mutilations, minimal and inconspicuous mutilations in the name of medicine. A doctor doesn’t ask the patient how they’d like their bones fixed, thought George, so why should onlookers ask a subject how they’d like their image interpreted? Maybe the onlookers, like the doctor, know best.

He had hobbled in on two crutches, while George was pushing away his second mug of tea, to allow room for the broadsheets. The entire room mentally logged the young man, the victim of some physical violence, be it by his own hand or someone else’s. He had the ruffled charm of misfortune, shielding him from any suggestion of responsibility.

No, this boy probably felt that his brokenness was a condition inflicted upon him by the world. George snorted behind his paper, briefly enjoying the bitter taste of this thought. It was, George knew, his healthy cynicism that kept his mind sturdy, and quietly elevated him from the crowd. These barbed observations were what secured his grasp on the peak of the increasingly slippery slope of late-middle-age.

Crutches was served from the counter within seconds, and quickly ushered to a window seat with assurances that his drink would be ‘right over!’ Because he was broken, the world loved him. George decreed this, and returned to the headline story:

– Saudi millionaire cleared of raping teenager after claiming he accidentally fell on top of her –

His assertion needed re-examination, and he knew it. Without looking up at the broken thing, George reluctantly replayed the scene with his own image projected over it and conceded that injury alone did not lead to special treatment. When something beautiful is damaged it becomes all the more endearing – a limping puppy is unimpeachable, but a limping vulture? Quite the opposite.

– He had already had sex with her 25-year-old friend and said he might have tripped over on top of the younger woman. –

But then, George had to admit, the benefits of Crutches’ condition (and those like him) are effectively shared quite fairly among the general public. Those who surround them enjoy, as George did, the sweet twinge of a melancholic sight. Crutches floated in as if on waves, propelled by his own modest body, not – as George suspected of his own figure were it hung from pins in this way – swinging like a sack of damp mulch. Crutches moved like a geometrically perfect mechanical toy, a tidy metronome.

– The teenager met Azullabad in the exclusive Valley le Nuit nightclub in the East End on May 17 last year. –

Lust regulated by shame, George thought, that’s what it is. Charity always has the most duplicitous motivations. You shouldn’t enjoy other’s misfortune, no, no, but incapacitation brought persons of desirability, like Crutches, briefly down to the quarters of the average, the common-garden humans who each suffer a million little disabilities without ever achieving splendour and window seats. More significantly, people in this hindered state are humbled by necessity, and can’t possibly ignore the generosity of strangers.

– He said it was possible he had semen on his hands after the sexual encounter with her friend. –

 

 

 

 

News article source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/12052901/Ehsan-Abdulaziz-Saudi-millionaire-cleared-of-raping-teenager.html

 

 

 

 

 

Dysmorphia

I cannot stop these muscles spasms, scorching and dense with tension.

Poreless, sweatless, retaining all heat.

Temperature increase, dangerous levels, microwaves cook from the inside.

My brain is butter, keeps its pretty cauliflower shape but runs slick down the knife when you break its shell.

Radiation morphs my tissue, I cannot feel it but my child can, her home is growing hotter, while it bends her body this way and that. Her shoulders extend forward.

Her slight and delicate angel wings are left detached and compensate by following the path of the spine.

CO2 fills her small frame and her flooded lungs learn to adapt.

 

I give birth to a cockroach, and cry with joy, for she will survive.

The Regrettably Legitimate

They walked into the café together, but not in the right way.  As the mother took the rising step and crossed the room, selected a chair and lowered into it, she had all the airs of a woman alone, looking forward, hands by her sides.  When she sat down she did not touch the chair with any but the requisite body parts, as if too proud, too afraid that even self-assisted sitting might show her age.  This indignant relationship with the furniture in fact derailed her otherwise perfect line of presentation; she must have been at least forty, though in a snapshot she was a woman of no more than thirty.

But once she’d placed herself down, there appeared her entourage, a son – a darling of nine or ten in a navy blazer and shorts, a flat-topped straw hat hanging from a pudgy index finger – was pulled to her table despite all lack of encouragement, by an invisible umbilical attaching him to the reluctant party in the low brown leather armchair, the copy of which he pulled himself up and into, opposite her.  His exposed legs dangled, though he sat on the very edge, trying to deny his diminutive body.

Despite all his smallness it was soon clear to all neighbours who cared to listen that he possessed a large wit.  That strange kind of wit that some children take on so easily from the chronic satire of the upper-middle-class, a soft skull in a Private Eye household, the brain impressed with the dialect of the news-quiz show and the constant vibrations of Radio 4.

The mother sat back into the depths of the armchair, legs neatly crossed in slim suit trousers, her head resting on three fingers.  The boy leaned forward and picked up a cardboard menu from the table.

“Do you want a latte?  Or a cappuccino – you can have a decaf, I don’t know how that is supposed to work, coffee with no coffee in it, but oh well.”  Not a nod or smile from his counterpart, his challenge seems to be to excite her, to please her.  He continued, sceptical adult words spoken though a fresh young throat, he scoffed at the childish hot chocolate. Then the waitress appeared.  Rooting in her shirt pocket for a pad and pencil, she spoke sweetly.

“Hello what can I get you?”

“Extra hot Americano hot milk no sugar,“ the mother said in one word “and…” she pointed her eyes at the boy, the waitress scribbled and turned with a bright smile reserved for the smaller customers.

“I will have a small, no, a medium cappuccino please.”

The waitress faltered, curled a furl of hair behind an ear and suggested: “Is that a decaf cappuccino?”

“No I don’t think so, just a regular thank-you.”

The waitress looked for an objection from the mother, but she had bowed her head behind her hand, as if hiding from a vicious sun beam, so the girl giggled and trotted off.

“You know mum” started the boy, “today Charlie said he was going to drop maths and I told him it was insane but he said he was going to and that-”

The boy spoke at with a quiet voice suggestive of an intimate, mature tête-à-tête, but with an excited pace that he could not suppress, as if sure that each following sentence would be the one to gratify his company.  The mother leant back further into the hollow of the chair, listening to her son as she would a husband she had long ago decided to loath.

“- and he said was getting his father – they all say father, mum, it’s so posh, Dad would hate that wouldn’t he mum – he’s getting his father to get him out of maths because the economoney doesn’t need more maths people, and I told him it was insane, mum, he wants to take up French instead but I told him, mum, I said to him ‘as if this economoney needs more French people’, I said that to him mum!”

The drinks appeared, the mother poured the steaming milk into the dark liquid, while the boy eyed his cappuccino and sighed loudly.

“Can’t they not put chocolate in everything?  I bet it was that girl, mum, that girl you know?”  The boy lifted the mug to his mouth and then placed it on the table, the chocolate-dusted foam lid clearly untouched, the mother glanced at the boy, he made an emphatic swallowing noise but she was clearly unconvinced and looked back to the ceiling.

“Let’s play a game,” the boy said suddenly, “do you want to play a game?  We could play that one with the letters!”

The boy’s mother looked at something just behind her son’s head, she sipped from her coffee and hardly moved her lips as she spoke.

“No, no let’s not.”

 

 

Overheard: Bugs and Bones

chicken_bones_by_thesmallwonder-d4hv7bx

 

Scene: ladies gym changing room

ENTER: TWO GIRLS 18-23

– You’ll notice it’s a lot more empty than it was before because –

– Because everyone’s given up their new year’s resolutions

PAUSE FOR BAG-RIFLING AND LOCKER-OPENING

– Carla didn’t come once

– Yeah I could’ve predicted that though [laughs]

PAUSE FOR UNDRESSING

– Have you seen the new puppet she’s made?

– The –

– The black one yeah

– Yeah

– It’s amazing isn’t it?

– Yeah

– She’s done it all up with string for hair

– Yeah

– And she says she’s [part muffled by t-shirt pulling over face] collecting chicken bones to decorate it with

– Make it into a little voodoo princess, yeah

– Yeah

– She was like [possible attempt at gruff northern accent] “I’m just gonna like tear the chicken off the bone and take the bones and make jewellery with them” [laughs]

PAUSE FOR HAIR-FIDDLING

– She’s always doing something though isn’t she?

– Yeah

– Like, do you remember when she was collecting dead bugs?

– Yeah

– Like, you know bugs that stay the same after they die and you just see lying around? She was collecting them all in a little box?

– She’s so crazy

– Yeah but it did help clean the window sill

EXIT