Halfway from home (story reading)


Jasmine, and if he closed his eyes, the sound of the ocean. The smell though was always the strongest, it was what always clung to him. The ghost that gently haunted, touching his heart. It came and went, sometimes intense, taking him to that place where he always felt safe. Always felt them there.

He looked out of the window at the planet below, the strange orb spinning silently in its indifference to him. The purple hues lifted off the surface as if into a dream, blurring and smudging with the swallowing blackness of space.

Jasmine and warm sand….

Read on


Ruin

Blaze the craze which rips through the world.
Such times to be alive.
Born from the birds which fly south for winter.
Pecking at the moon.
Which idea is now spun from younger lips?
For children withhold such commitment.
We welcome you to the future.
Putting your ear to the soil to hear the earth murmur.
A wailing in the wind and the wild.
A sorrow swimming in the sea.
Yesterday holds up such devastation.
Sugar coat that history, open up forever.
Cough out lies across your coffee cups.
But listen to no one.
Wipe the heathens across the walls.
A boy, a girl caught in such crossfire.
Scrub those bloody hands, that crimson mark.
Fading from red to orange.
Another one. Another one, another one.
Falls.
As the world turns and burns.
Points of no return.
And distant in the mirror now.

Buds and bones

If this is the last and the final time.
Then button my eyes and draw the line.
And keep me hidden beneath the ground.
Where earthly secrets and worms are found.
For if you are not the beat of my heart.
Then into death my journey must start.
And silence my mind as it heaves to you.
Kill this love which you’ve broken in two.

Conversation with mortality

A pain so dark it blots out the stars.
Rubbing the divine into charcoal.
Left shaking in the wake of skeleton waves.
That snatch my voice into the sea of the selfish.
Loss drips across like oil.
And the reality paralyses.
A bloom of love is choked by the frost of departure.
And my soul is snatched by the shadows of indifference.
The place inside, maybe heaven, beckons.
The mind a hell, at fates unknown.

A Heart murmur

A heartbeat static and stick.
Grease the wheels and grease them quick.
Touched and run, in the citrus sun.
Fingers all high fives, thumbs like guns.
The void is waiting, a sickly breath.
Cold on clinical, the smell of death.
A rumble, stumble, fumble please.
Shake and slither on your knees.
Electioneering, ECG.
Hold your breath.
Drink your coffee.

Fading


FADE

Hold me and heal me.
Chase the darkness away.
Rock me to sleep.
Cut your wrists and then stay.
Forever in this palace of darkness and time.
Locked in a dream.
All beautiful and mine.
Forget all the world, with its promise of pain.
Hold me and fade.
Like a tear in the rain.

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Muddy deep sleep

Not over, not complete.
Just fading away.
A blissful depression hung up like ruby red apples.
Strung like silly smiles on those too drunk to know.
This moment washes over, the gravity pulls you down.
Chipping out teeth like tombstones yanked from the ground.
Oh the silence that it unearths.
The faded names who hoped the future would be different.
But the future just teaches loneliness.
As a departure descends.
That long goodbye, hard on the ears but softly spoken.
Trembling in time.
Nothing really dies.
We all just fade away.
Siphoned into space.
Breathed out on earth’s asthmatic exhale.
Heaving under strain.
Replaced by things we all despise.
How we spin and sigh and scream.
Reduced to floating dust and regret.
Asleep and dormant, waiting for the nothing.
Fearing the repeat.

The Ballad of Nancy Stokes

Clouds rolled in, all over the small town.
The air alive with the smell of chip shop grease and cheap aftershave.
Saturday night, alive and loud.
But not Nancy.
At least not by the end.
Down in the canal.
Left to be found by old Mrs Clarence, off to the shops on a Sunday morning.
Her small dog Terry, sniffing at the banks where poor Nancy rested.
Her head covered in an old carrier bag.
But that night before, she’d dressed up to the nines.
No Tesco tiara threatened her styled hair.
Scraped back with moose and anticipation.
For the dancefloor awaited, and the eyes were wet.
Leary sockets soaked in her moves.
The jostles and gyrations of decade old motions learned to entice.
To ensnare.
Those oiled men, with receding hair.
The smell of socialisation and modernity.
Nancy left her friends, who’d found Jesus in the bottom of a vodka bottle.
And in the stall of the toilets which stank of desperation and piss.
Where sticky kebab hands soiled their jeans and youth.
Where Nancy went, nobody knows.
But they left her some of her clothes at least.
Soaking in the green waters of the canal.
The old Robinson factory looming over her grave.
Passer-by’s flicking cigarette ends into the water, sizzling near her empty soul.
Not knowing she was there.
In the sludgy brown surface.
Where Mrs Clarence found her.
Nancy Stokes. The 40-year-old girl who loved to dance.
But never learned to swim.

Little wounded wing


LITTLE WOUNDED WING

Little wounded wing.
You never knew how dangerous it could be.
Flying through life as you were.
Hoping others, like you, wanted to sing.

Little spark of light.
No one told you how maddening it would be.
Existing how you are, so special.
The rules never showed you how to fight.

Life it took a hold and stained.
Into your feathers and soul it pained,
you to see what this world really was behind the lies.
Through maligned and deceitful eyes.
After wandering your many trails, deserving of fairness and love.
The world is dark and mattered.
Cruel and harsh and tattered.
To a creature who sees the good in everyone from above

Little broken heart.
We all told you how not to cry.
No one cares for water spent.
The gulf between us now so far apart.

Hey little dying bird.
You told yourself in the end.
The only thing that was missing, was love.
And love was the only thing they no longer heard.

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The Blue of a bruise

Idling of the blood stream.
Brightening those nightmares that shudder.
Twisting in and out of focus.
The mind finding reference points.
All chalky talk and eye darting.
Searching the door to find new weather.
Trust seems lost again.
Blue skies clouded like the eyes of God closing.
Tearing in the rains of revelation.
Words struck the vein.
The devil tastes the pain.
What part is called to be diminished?
Swallowing in a rapture, that unpicks the scars.
A lie to curdle the blood.
A pain to feel alive once more.
Do you know the lungs want to sing?
Padded with angel feathers they heave in lament.
The soul siphoned away, bottled like wine.
Death’s most beautiful throw.
Snatching things, before they grow.

Halfway from home

Jasmine, and if he closed his eyes, the sound of the ocean. The smell though was always the strongest, it was what always clung to him. The ghost that gently haunted, touching his heart. It came and went, sometimes intense, taking him to that place where he always felt safe. Always felt them there.

He looked out of the window at the planet below, the strange orb spinning silently in its indifference to him. The purple hues lifted off the surface as if into a dream, blurring and smudging with the swallowing blackness of space.

Jasmine and warm sand.

He stole himself a moment to close his eyes, feeling the history shiver through him. An irritant beeping began in his ear, and his eyes opened to see the planet once more, slipping slowly from view as a stream of white slithered across the windows. He stepped back, releasing the metal banister from his grasp and turned to the yawning corridor behind him. There were a few people making their way along it, eyes glowing from the screens that ensnared them. Detached from the beauty that space could offer them.

Why should they be so dazzled by its brilliance? Space was taking something away from them. Distance and time.

He had come to terms with his own arrangement, but for the others, he guessed it was difficult still. He walked away from the huge windows, away from the calling of the beyond and made his way back to where he would spend most of his time. Alone, which is what he knew.

In his own little pod, his room of sorts on this floating chrysalis. Many of the travellers would enter one way and leave another. Changed by either their own trauma, or the perils of interstellar travel. He would not of course, he had already changed enough. If anything, he would retrograde, like Saturn returning, back into the pupa of his early days where things were so different.

Alone in his room, he turned off the lights, casting the space in the neon blue phosphorus glow. It was known to aid sleep in these conditions, but he would not be sleeping. How could he? His insomnia was welcomed back the moment he stepped aboard. Nights and days meant nothing up here anyway, so his patterns of rest blended and ebbed away. The blue now though comforted him, like an incubator heat lamp hung over an egg. The yoke of his mind turned, tumbling over the memories of a world he knew was forever lost.

“2.377.8”

The soft voice whispered into the room.

He turned over, the blue phosphorus blinking slightly like a heartbeat.

“Keter.” He replied to the nothing, and the room hung there in silence for a moment.

“Understood.” The soft voice replied, disappearing away like a ghost.

He had become used to these intrusions. They were passengers of course, guests even. Many had exchanged their savings just for their souls to be classed as passengers on this voyage through the stars. These numbers, all the time, numbers. Tracking, and recalibrating. Confirming and informing. Many that he spoke to set their times around these indications of location, celestial longitude. As if the mapping meant something to someone.

Only people meant something to someone else.

The number usually meant the distance, or the time left to arrival. For him, they meant something different. Like the length of rope thrown for safety, slowly falling away. The further he got, the closer he was. The journey beginning at the end, like the thoughts in his head. Chasing his own tail. The room scanned his body, noticing some change in the space. He’d found his was extra sensitive, monitoring his pulse and liquid extraction to the smallest degree. He’d stopped crying long ago, setting off too many checks and queries, the systems unsure of what purpose the leaking ever did.

He wasn’t travelling alone, but everyone thought he was. He sometimes forgot he wasn’t here by himself, but then he was washed in guilt. They were here in both places. In his heart, and in the cargo bay that was probably above his head now, the rotating section of the ship which spun around like a carousel. Their body was secure, he’d been assured. Packed next to boxes of memories and other people’s goods. Machines and provisions for a new life for the others. Well taken care of. He’s welcome to come by any time to check, though he is yet to do so and not likely to ever.

What was in the body really? The soul had left long ago. Even on Damara, the soul had slipped out through the atmosphere, heading back to earth. Back to their real home, where their bones would want to lie. He’d have buried them there if he could, but their family wanted them back. It was the least he could give them, having taken so much from them in their departure.

They would want to say goodbye, not through a video call or hologram burial across the stars.

Earth is where they would come to rest, put into the family tomb and forgotten about in a few years. But he would not forget, for their ghost drowned them now. Breathing into him along with the blue. Always blue, blue, blue.

He closed his eyes, hating himself. Remembering what they had said before they had left, those years ago. That death would snatch them there, on that cold side of space. Yet they would go non the less, for he seemed to want it so badly. And in truth, he did. He’d wanted to get away, try something different. Get as far away from Earth as humanly possible. To build them a new home on a new planet, a place where they would live longer, be healthier and stay together.

Home, they’d said is wherever they were.

“2.5, R HH” The soft voice spoke again, harder this time.

Halfway.

Halfway on their journey, from where they’d left, to where they were going.

He closed his eyes, and though no sleep came, fantasies and dreams washed through his head like a pageant. Illuminating visions that meant nothing and everything to him, silencing him for some time.

He saw a shell, a purple scallop shell before him on its side. All around a mist floated, he could see the water inside, sloshing back and forth as if the little shell were a boat out on rough waves. It began to lift slowly, coming towards him. The water began to ooze and leak away from the middle. Draining out and away into nothing. The shell continued to rise until its profile faced his eyeline. And with a deafening thunderclap, the shell cracked down the middle and he opened his eyes.

Making his way along the corridor, he touched the sides to feel the glass. Just beyond lay space, hidden from him by the greyed colours of the walls. But he knew it was there of course. Many didn’t, they forgot where they were, either by their screen diving or the long bouts of hibernation. It was easy he supposed, to forget you were where you were. Flight, travel. It disrupts violently the ordinariness of life, but in a surreal detached way, it can also be forgotten. Like you were in a waking dream, and things were going on without you.

He turned at the end of the corridor and climbed upwards, through a stairwell which led to the cargo bay area. He didn’t bother to ask anyone or sign in as he was told to do. Instead, he snuck through the huge doors as quiet as he could and was successfully undetected by anyone. He’d been tracked of course, eyes always on them, but nothing had come of it he’d noticed.

Moving steadily, he made his way to section 5t, the ‘living containments’ section. Ironic he’d thought, seeing as everything here was frozen, sleeping, or dead. He could see a red light blinking on the box some distance away, and he hurried forward at the sight of it. Error messages flashed across the box, symbols and numbers which meant nothing to him. He saw the number 16 flash by, and his mind was reminded by their birthday, cakes and smiles, images of kissing and the scent memory of blown out candles attacked him at once. He saw it then, a little pool of water just beneath the box.

“Fuck.” He said aloud to no one.

He scanned his wrist across the glass by the numbers, and the red light stopped flashing, but remained red. He pressed a button at the side and with an artificial exhale, little jets of air hissed the lid open. Whatever the error, or malfunction, the body inside had thawed. The crystal struts that kept the body in position glistened as the liquid inside sloshed around them. The head faced him, but the eyes were closed. He was thankful of that. He didn’t want to see their brown eyes. He would always remember them speckled with golden light, and he knew now the light would be gone.

What to do, what to do.

He stood there, not knowing for some time. The pool of water had spread a little towards his feet, but since the box had been opened, it seemed to have stopped leaking. The display on the side slowly climbing little bars up to a 100% destination. Aiming for perfection.

They looked peaceful at least, they looked like they were unaware of anything around them, even him. And of course, they were. Dead, gone, already back on earth. This body, these bones cared not for the journey they were on now. He reached out then, touching their hair which was wet and trailed slightly in the pooled water around them, floating like leaves in a pond.

The water was warm, and as his feet plunged into the box it rose above his socks and kissed his skin. He plunged down on top, his arms reaching around, through the crystal struts and finding the fleshy body and bones behind at the bottom. He hugged, and squeezed them, his eyes filling both with the water and the tears. He knew they were gone, but he had to hold them. He had to be here now with them, encased in a water filled box shooting through space.

“2.51.” The voice overhead announced, this time echoing in the vast space of the cargo bay.

He closed his eyes, jasmine filling his mind. He was no longer halfway. He wasn’t even before. He was only lost and alone. This he knew was how it would remain. So, he stayed and cried until sleep finally snatched him away, his body drained of energy from all the weeping. The voice overhead continued to call out many more marker points, little dots that now tracked his fall into nothingness.


Little wounded wing

Little wounded wing.
You never knew how dangerous it could be.
Flying through life as you were.
Hoping others, like you, wanted to sing.

Little spark of light.
No one told you how maddening it would be.
Existing how you are, so special.
The rules never showed you how to fight.

Life it took a hold and stained.
Into your feathers and soul it pained,
you to see what this world really was behind the lies.
Through maligned and deceitful eyes.
After wandering your many trails, deserving of fairness and love.
The world is dark and mattered.
Cruel and harsh and tattered.
To a creature who sees the good in everyone from above.

Little broken heart.
We all told you how not to cry.
No one cares for water spent.
The gulf between us now so far apart.

Hey little dying bird.
You told yourself in the end.
The only thing that was missing, was love.
And love was the only thing they no longer heard.

The Death of the heart

Through hollowed tears that paint the walls.
Cries a thought, uttered more in lament than desperation.
The lights fading.
A love abating.
The prayer for a heart on the edge of nothing.
What demons and ghosts stole it away.
Which angels plucked it from the earth.
Has god really written the last passage in its tale.
Or has the other heart deserved a second chance?
These questions lick at the mind of fate.
While others close their eyes to possibilities.
They lost the beat, the rhythm of love.
Those roots that went deep, tangled and clogged with mud.
Twisted with happenstance and rode the whispered jokes of time.
All beneath the silent wings, and bells ringing out a new era.
While eucalyptus air fills the lungs.
And we cough up the oil of yesterday.
For heaven can wait, while paradise before us blooms.

Adieu

Shuffling off this mortal coil.
After years of strife and toil.
Turns my sight towards the sky.
And spit in Satan’s salty eye.
For though I’m old and known to break.
With bones of chalk that tend to ache.
I know the spin of my moral compass.
And what is true within each one of us.
For Satan wanted my soul one day.
When down on my knees I was to pray.
And promised heaven and all the earth.
If I would part with what I’d had since birth.
But I knew that slippery cunning devil.
Was not true, or on the level.
And would leave me lost, sad and doomed.
When the horsemen rode to their apocalyptic tune.
So though he lured and tried to test.
Reach within and corrupt the best.
I resisted hard and asked god to linger.
While I flipped old red the finger.
And now I fall into the unknown whole.
With my heart intact, and still with my soul.

Lay me down

To sleep, in a dream that never wakes.
Flying on stars and tears tonight.
Lay me down.
Into the air or the earth.
For that is where my soul seeks silence.
Covered for a hundred years, a thousand tears.
Rusted and weak.
Lay me down, to sleep.
And tell me stories of the future.
A harkening of new truths.
When this time has died into a yesterday.
I will wake and drink the world in again.


TAKEN Everyday nightmares – OUT NOW

book cover burning house

21:09

Staring down the dark street, he watched as the lampposts flickered in and out of light. Luminous reflection seeming to be running off an invisible heartbeat. Stuttering. Struggling.

He felt the same. He was tired. He’d run the last two miles and his calf muscles now ached. He’d stopped momentarily to ease the stitch that was spreading in his side. Stabbing needles from Satan’s fingertips.

Nearly there.

He saw the traffic had built up on Bower Street, he’d actually heard the car horns and the angry shouts before he saw the rows of taillights snaking away. A great stationary monster of red eyes going nowhere.

Turning left he hurried away from the angry voices and quickly checked the time. 20.45. It had taken longer than he’d expected. The transport had imploded on itself and the city was heaving in unpreparedness that night. He felt the sweat on his forehead, the stingy sizzle of desperation and determination. A light rain now flecked onto his skin as he passed by houses. The glow of life inside reminded him what he was doing this for. The eyes of the buildings glowed with little tears from the rain, happy that people were inside. All together for the first time in years.

He sprinted, tripped and surged on. Finally getting to the door five minutes later. Too little, too late?

Better late than never he supposed, rapping frantically on the door.

The door swung open hastily. The smell of candles and coffee greeted him along with the flood of a welcoming light and a relieved smile.

“Thank god.” They said to him, as he collapsed into their arms.

Tears, sweat and rain ran unabashed down his cheeks. His heart, which had threated to give up on him, pulsed to a different beat. The feeling he got whenever he saw them. The tingly skin sensation that tickled around his ears and neck. He smelled them, hugged them. Taking these new feelings deep within himself.

“I can’t believe it.” They said as they broke apart and he stepped inside.

The small house threw its arms around him, beckoning a safety.

“It’s pandemonium out there”. He replied, stepping further in and following them up the stairs. He glanced quickly at the front room; the warming sweet-smelling candles flickered within while the television screamed out silently with the volume down. The news informing no-one to things that everyone already knew.

“I’m glad you made it; I was getting worried it would be too late.” They said, settling down onto the bed. He took in the vision, the moment and tried to keep himself together.

He followed, not bothering to take off his shoes but throwing off the jacket which the light rain had clung to.

The clock on the side clicked over to 9pm.

They drew into one another, kissing tenderly. Touching each other’s hands and diving deep into one another’s eyes. Tears swelled, wiped away by fingers that trembled with tenderness in the glowing room.

“I had to be here. I had to come.” He said. Knowing that they already knew.

“I didn’t expect it to be like this. I’m just glad you’re by my side.” Their voice stuttered. “I love you.” they said, as they closed their eyes. Not out of shame, but to a sad realisation it would be the last time.

“I love you.” He replied. “And I will find you again.”

They held each other closer as the lights died.

21:09, the time the world ended.


Taken from Dislocated: A Short story collection – Out now

Gravitate to grief

Listen to this episode.


Watching the clouds roll over the sky outside my window, I can’t but think the world is changing to fit my mood. My consciousness seeping out of this skin and manifesting my universe. If only I were that powerful. An alchemic touch to turn the things that are as cold as stone and black as coal, to a wondrous gold.

I touch the place, where my heart used to be. Wondering where this chasm came from. Wondering why it was taken. This wondering keeps me from other things; making copious cups of tea, looking at pictures of you; dancing that kitchen knife across my wrists. (Bury me where you find me)

Nothing has begun to matter. The phone has rung insistently on and off all day. Souls looking for connection. Checking in on me, to see if I’m okay; to check if I haven’t done anything silly. To save me from myself. Silly was always my nature.

I watch the clouds more as they roll on and war with one another. I used to look for things in the cloud patterns. Their bursting explosions that would turn into animals or faces. I don’t see anything there now that I wish to see. Now I only want to tear my eyes out. To stop viewing a world I wish to have no part of. A world without you, is not something I want to be within. It tore my heart out that day. The departure day I have come to know it. Wednesday…. why not?

My skin aches and my head is heavy. I feel gravity’s pull now more than ever. The sad disposition is not my usual sensibility. Hope could always be found by the turning of a page, the rolling of a new day, and beyond the heartache. But someone has drained the colour from my life and washed it with a headache grey. Placed it on repeat.

I pretend to be asleep when they come over. The ones whose phone calls failed to find an audience. Their good intentions on the other side of yesterday grow faint. Like a voice in the distance calling me back. They mean well, and I love them. They have gone through the same, the similar. The maddening familiar. I smile and nod as they place the flowers and rearrange the plates. Not noticing that all the flowers will be scorched now. They do not see that I am breaking away. This recalibration to a life I was apathetic to before, is really me crumbling into something else. Something so selfishly encompassing even God will not forgive.

Sleep. I need this.

You. I want that.

I smash my inner skull open and dive into memories of you. The smell of your collar bone and the way you used to wear me out. A side glance as you cheat at scrabble. Everything there is central. So certain like the rain. This skull begins to crust over, covering those memories with the sickening smell of death. Like being trapped in a tiny kitchen and burning the toast. These memories catch fire and smoulder, choking me and making my eyes water.

They come around again, touching me while I dream and sweeping away the reflections of myself.

Piece by piece they pick me up. I put myself back together. Banging once more on the doors of heaven but turned away. Shivering out the cold of my core. Watching as the bruises heal and the days fade into years. I will not be the ghost that haunts this space. I will not be the body on your hands that weighs you down. I will be the scar on the surface of life, with empty eyes; replaced with tiny pebbles. Taken from the river of remorse.

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Bord / Edge

Debout sur cette rive une fois de plus.
Sur le bord de l’existence.
Je voussens dans le vent.
Je me sense arrosé dans le marée.
Est-ce que je me vois marcher sur cette plage?
Ou je me sens perdu dans un million de grains de sable.

Stand on this shore once again.
On the edge of existence.
I’m standing in the wind.
I feel watered in the tide.
Do I see myself walking on this beach?
Or feel lost in a million grains of sand.

Death in neutral

Death comes, not in the sudden felling of your tree of life.
That monumental crash in the wooded realm of existence.
Or in an avalanche of silent demise,
Crashing into white off a precipice that follows a climb.
Death never leaves a new life.
It breathes silently on your skin.
Like a misty voice, cold and condensed.
Dew dropping its pain along the way.
Watching as your petals of life fall.
A new one each day.

dead rose skull


Taken from
Seasons of a wandering heart

book cover snow and tree


 

Try

The vessel inside overflows.
Screaming to expand.
The trying, the tearing.
The overcometh of each battle, each day.
As those warriors say.
We leave nothing but our trail.
Blood and candles to light the way for others.
A legacy gilds the petal of our history.
The bloom of overcome.
The fragrance of succeeding.
In the skin that sheared from the bone.
And tears the weep from eyes that have seen tomorrow.
We sleep an eternal rest, knowing that we tried.
So now sweet moment, which I gather in it’s lustre.
I be present with you, and smile at the strength it took to make it.
Where I fall, may there be lilies and lotus flowers.
Marking the space as sacred and inviting.
An organic tombstone to one, who did nothing but try.

While i slept

To collapse but not to shatter.
Yet veins of the break spread deep.
Frozen in the reckoning of our time.
Managing a mosaic of madness.
Fleeted days, encapsulated by hurried tensions.
Pickled in the wine of the year.
Sadness stalked my fields.
You set fire to my home.
It burns still, the flames will not recede.
Your words breathing oxygen to its devastation.