Resplendent consumption

Though the dark spreads doubt and fear.
It is in the light where she creeps near.
For shadows and gloom she leaves in her wake.
With mournful tunes and deathly ache.
The light is what she needs to feed.
A pulsing urge, like a sprouting weed.
She sucks the light like marrow from bone.
And crawls inside that place called home.
She splits the joy and hope in two.
Suckles each like morning due.
Savouring each fantastic pleasure.
That shrivels for you, but to her is treasure.
This dark and heavy visiting member.
Will drain the light to a dying ember.
And leave you feeling almost dead.
While she licks these words inside your head.
That if darkness fades and you feel lighter.
If hope does spread and things feel brighter.
She will return, like a rolling cloud.
To kill the light with her consuming shroud.

Heroes don’t come easy

“Eurgh, you again.” He thought he was there, but wasn’t sure at first. He’d left the backdoor open, though the day was bitter, winter already licking at them with its frosty tongue. He’d popped out quickly to refill the bird feeders he had hanging in his garden. The seedy offering had attracted a number of birds recently, and he was keen for the blue jay to return. He had seen it there recently, resting on the roof of his shed before going for some seed at the feeder by the bottom of the garden. The one towards the house, dangling off an old hanging basket, was territorially protected by a small puffed-up robin who he’d taken to name Carol, the traits of an old neighbour which seemed fitting as she flittered and fussed from one garden to the other.

“Make yourself at home then.” He said, astounded at the brazenness on display. Sitting at the kitchen table, the man creaked back on the wooden chair, a hand-me-down from his mother; he could see the spindly farmhouse legs straining under the weight of the man.

“Don’t mind if I do, my place as much as yours.” The man said, reclining back further; seemingly to prove a point.

“You’d like to believe that wouldn’t you!” He replied, angrily, shaking the packet of tea at him that he’d been holding; a few green tea flakes spilling over the side and tumbling to the floor like emerald snowflakes.

The man said nothing, and looked away.

A cold burst of air flooded the kitchen and the door creaked back. Where as before the nice fresh air had been welcomed in the heavy stone lined kitchen, a chill now shivered up the man, but he was hesitant to shut the door. He knew the man would be here too long as it was. A second wave of cold left him no choice, and he stepped angrily towards the door, slamming it was a force that shook one of the display plates on the wall.

“Mine’s black, no sugar. And none of that healthy Asian crap. Normal tea.” The man said, kicking his shoes off.

“How did I know it would be black!” he replied, walking back towards the kettle which had whistled a while ago on the stove.

“You’re not staying, so have your tea then piss off.” He said, taking down some PG tips from a small cupboard. He had this for whenever his sister ever came over; a builder’s brew she preferred.

“Well, as we always know Jake, that is entirely up to you.” The man leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. He stroked his beard philosophically, as if he’d revealed some great wisdom. Jake stood there, the kettle in hand, and waited for anything else from him. But that it seems was all.

“You always do this, just when things are going well. Why don’t you go and bother someone else for a change?” He said, turning back to make the tea.

There was a small silence before the man spoke again.

“I’ve known you for a long time, we’ve been friends Jake. Closer before, but you have drifted. You’ve pushed me aside. I won’t say it didn’t hurt. After all we had been through, and all I’ve done for you.”

“Done for me?!” Jake seemed to roar into the kitchen.

“If you please. Yes, all I’ve done for you. When everyone left you, I was there. When the money was gone, I helped you. You seem to forget all this in your peace of mind and holier-than-thou state.” The man said, his brow furrowed.

Jake had stirred the tea cup, a dainty little thing that seemed small and precious in his huge hand. He put it on the table and it looked like a dolls cup next to the huge frame of the man who sat there. He’d been sitting there, only a few minutes, yet his stature seemed to have grown slightly. The weight of him and his words dominating that space of his kitchen. The man seemed to loom over the table, but he took the cup in his hand as if to warm them with it.

“Ta for the cuppa.” He said, smiling.

“I’m not holier-than-thou, I’ve just moved on. Outgrown all that other stuff, made things better. You just can’t seem to deal with that. If you feel left behind, I’m sorry; but it’s your choice to move forward or not.” Jake said.

The man at the table thought about this.

“You think you’ve moved on, you haven’t Jakey boy. You’re still the same. I can see it, I know it. How do you think I even got in here?” He said, taking a sip of the tea, the cup seeming to disappear into the great mass of beard that swallowed it.

Jake turned then, looking out of his kitchen window. He could hear the man at the table, sipping the tea and heaving on the chair. But he hoped that if he’d turn back, he would be gone. He tried to find the birds in his garden, the grey clouds above blanketing the world in a white canvas of light. But nothing, the garden seemingly devoid of life now. Not even the squirrels which were forever darting about, hiding bulbs and chestnuts.

The cup clinked on the table, and he turned back around to face the man. He’d risen from his seat and had stepped towards Jake, his arms outstretched.

“Jakey boy, come here.” He said, and embraced him in what should’ve been a warm hug, owing to the size of him and big woollen jumper he had on. Instead, the icy coldness ran through Jake as the man’s arms secured themselves around his back and pulled him in, the beard scratching the side of his face. The coldness travelled all throughout his body, as If little icy daggers were swarming his blood stream. He was stuck with the man holding him tight, squeezing now and talking. Mumbling words into his ear.

“You and me, forever. You can’t deny it, we work well as a team Jake. I’ll move in, take the smaller room. Plenty of space. I’ll help you with the job thing, you can quit that new one, it won’t work out for you, so fucking hoity toity them people there. And as for you know who, well you’re better off without them. You don’t need them around here, you can’t be they man they want you to be, so best to give in before they hurt you. That pain Jake, you know that pain. You don’t want that again.” The man hissed, his words seeming to smoke around his head like a hazy cloud of distaste. Jake tried to pull away, but the man pulled tighter.

“Don’t struggle, you did that before and remember what happened. They all thought you’d lost your fucking mind. Those bastards. Off your rocker, breakdown. What do they know? Jakey, you don’t want any of that. Let me come and stay, let me in; you know what it will take for it to happen. You know what I need for you to say.” The man went on, his mouth ever closer to Jake’s ear.

THUD

They both turned to look at the kitchen window. A Small sparrow had smacked into the glass and tumbled to the windowsill beneath where the spring plants were usually planted. He’d had tulips there this year, and Jake had a flash of the red and purple flowers in his head momentarily before the bird, seeming to have righted itself and with little damage, took off again out into the world.

This was enough for Jake to pull away from the man, and he shoved back, the black jumper turning to a black treacle in his palms as he pushed back and stepped away from him. He turned quickly, time being essential he knew. His strength wouldn’t last, he knew this was the test, and his resolve was shaken. Even now those words the man had spoken were coursing within him, finding pathways to his mind and heart. He sped quickly to the kitchen drawer, pulling it out so fast it tumbled to the floor, spilling out the cutlery like a vomiting mouth.

“Jake?” the man said, but he was as shocked as Jake was as the carving fork was rammed deep into his throat. Jake’s hands, black with the treacle, pulled back and plunged again, deeper this time as if hoping to break through to the other side. Darkness there, suddenly in the eyes of the man. The pupils just pits of despair, a pulling planet hauling him with its own gravity. Shaking, Jake turned away, stumbling on the knives, spoons and forks which had spilt across his kitchen floor. He slipped on a small cheese knife, another hand-me-down from his mother’s house, and his head found the side of the rustic sink, the white porcelain smudged now with a bloody smear, like a crimson fingerprint as Jake found his own way to the floor.

LATER

The birds had returned, Carol was flitting back and forth from the fence to the feeder, flicking seed on the ground as she went. A blackbird watched Jake from the bushes, her tail seeming to bob in time to the motion of his digging. A small hole, no bigger than a shoebox, freshly dug in the cold ground; taking longer than usual in the frozen soil.

Jake was on his knees down at the bottom of his garden. He put the trowel to one side and laid the heart carefully into the ground. It was blacker than he’d imagined it ever could be, and he shivered slightly, the motion hurting his head which now sported a huge wrap around bandage. He pulled the cold soil over the hole, the blackbird watching as he did, keen to seen what would happen if anything.

Nothing of course, with little ceremony Jake stood, brushed down his knees and returned to his house. He’d picked up the spilt cutlery from the floor and popped it on the side, they’d need sorting in to the divider properly before going back into the drawer which he’d already slid into place. The carving fork had tumbled under the table, and he reached now to retrieve it. It was clean, only a tip of blackness stained the tip, looking more like old age than anything else.

He’d been surprised to wake and find nothing but the heart on the floor, the life of the thing clinging on as it beat a few more times there on the kitchen tiles. Jake determinedly killed the thoughts once more in his head, the swarming doubts and darkness, and with a final flurry the heart had heaved to a stop.

Placing the fork on the side with the others, he breathed out, a long deep breath that let the weight of everything escape. He scratched his beard and glanced out again into the garden, his eyes finding where he’d buried the heart. And he smiled, knowing now it would remain buried.

“Now, finally for my tea.” He said to the thankfully empty kitchen.

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.

Heaven is shut/open (Story reading)


The plane took off, soaring into the sky as the sun died on the horizon. All was safe, all parts working. Wheels stored safely as the streaming sound of pressure encased them. He looked out of the window and watched the ground give way. He sighed. He’d hoped for a failure. Maybe later when they were out over the ocean, no chance of rescue there. No one ever survived a plane crashing into the sea….

Read on


Heaven is shut/open

The plane took off, soaring into the sky as the sun died on the horizon. All was safe, all parts working. Wheels stored safely as the streaming sound of pressure encased them. He looked out of the window and watched the ground give way. He sighed. He’d hoped for a failure. Maybe later when they were out over the ocean, no chance of rescue there. No one ever survived a plane crashing into the sea.

Closing his eyes, he saw their face. Lost and troubled as the chaos of the street bustled by. The taxi had hurried them, throwing his bags into the boot hastily before cars honked behind. They’d said their goodbyes already upstairs. Held on to each other as the tears threatened. At least he’d held on. He was unsure now how hard they had pulled into them. Deep inside his brain a voice had whispered ‘they want you to leave’.

Opening his eyes, he saw the seatbelt sign switch off, the little ‘bing’ sounding all around him but nowhere particular. The plane levelled off and he saw the land corrode into the ocean. The lights from the city behind already blurring into a distant memory. People got up, walking up the gangway as if their restrictiveness demanded a rebellion in movement.

He turned again to face the window, the little tears of condensation streaking backward like the ones in his eyes.

The flight was uneventful, and despite his longing, did not crash into a blazing wreck into the sea. He was somewhat thankful, no need for others to descend into nothingness because of his own wants and needs. The country had changed now of course, and he felt like a stranger in his own land. He felt as if he’d outgrown that little island, when in truth, it had all shrunken into ambivalence.

The next few weeks were a haze to him. He slept longer than his body needed. He ate less than what was required. The maddening howls of loneliness engulfed, playing out a wicked pageant each night. Pagan dances of despair trooped through his mind as he imagined the worst. And the weeks fell away into months. The sun rose and died each day, giving way to the moon which seemed more allusive and tauntful. Appearing and disappearing with differing brilliances.

And nothing changed.

No word came. No celestial movement of fate. He prayed of course, every day. Wishing, hoping, threatening…apologising. Words tumbled from his mouth like a waterfall, lost in the roar of tears that welcomed the rising pool of pain. He was confused and sad. These descriptions falling short of the abject horror that they encompassed.

He got up late one Wednesday. His bed had become a grave, and he pushed away the covers like soil from his skin. The weather was grey, and he saw little movement outside his window. He could hear the birds whistling their busy tunes and saw a couple of collared doves pecking away at the grassy bank at the side of his house. The birds circled, one seeming to protect the other as it scoured the grasses for something.

This was his life he thought there in that moment. The tragedy of nothingness. The on repeatness of filling hours that stretched like days.

Sitting down on his bed, he joined his hands together. They had marks on now of course, bloodied scabs that were struggling to heal. Punches to the ground and walls in frustration. His hands stung when he washed them always, bits of skin pealing off and disappearing down the drain to their own hellish adventures. Mostly he would pray in his head, but this morning the words came forth strong, if not shaky. He prayed for others, for those he loved. He asked why his circumstance refused to alter. He prayed to be sent the needs to change his situation. If god was refusing to give him what he needed, then at least give him the chance to change it for himself. He saw the light, felt the feel of god’s hands upon him and trickle into his heart.

This prayer lasted a long time. The doves had flown away by the time he had opened his eyes again, and a light rain had begun to pepper his window. The house groaned around in its ordinariness. Things were quiet. Things were the same.

He went about the day, holding onto something which he would never tell anyone. Like something stolen and now hidden in his pocket, he buried this secret in his heart which struggled to beat in a comfortable rhythm. The day came and went. The tasks and encounters rose and fell with the usual absurdity.

It wasn’t until the following night when what he had tucked away bloomed again. A flower of thought that had grown from the thick mud of despair. He had played the game of this life, by the rules he never agreed to. He was of service each day, giving and giving; yet never receiving. It never used to bother him for he had much to give. But when you lose everything, you become stricter on what you give away.

Now he felt like the coconut husks in his garden, pecked at each day by the birds of life. Strips of him torn away, revealing nothing underneath. His prayers had gone unanswered. But he stopped that thought then. No, this was not true. His prayers had been answered, when he prayed for others. When he gave and prayed and wanted the best for other people. They got what they needed. Even the rotten ones he was obliged to love. As if blood bound them in an unspoken covenant.

Prayer works. But not for him.

When he wanted…no, needed something. It never came to him. It was as if the gates of heaven had closed to him in a display of much unfairness. Why was he so beyond getting what he needed to make it through the day?

This thought stuck in his head, like food stuck in a throat. Uncomfortable and unpleasant. He was angry at God. But who wasn’t at times? But he felt more than anger, a betrayal almost. He fell asleep that night, not pooled in his own tears like always, but shaking into a fevered dream of reckoning.

He woke early, the rhythm of his heart thundering him awake. His phone was silent, barren. Nothing in the night had sprung forth despite the difference in hours. What were they, seven hours behind? They lived their day while he slept dreaming of them. They dreamt of something else while he navigated through the day thinking of nothing but them.

Rolling out of bed he went to the bathroom to wash his hands. Purifying his body, washing away the dreams and nightmares. He looked in the mirror…..

A: shut

What stared back at him made him weep. A man stood there, but a wasted vision of a human. Sunken eyes, gaunt expression. As if the sadness had spoiled from the inside, wasting away the flesh. He noticed one of his eyes was a milky colour, his once hazel views into his soul fading away into a grey of nothingness.

What to do now, he thought to himself. Brush his teeth, fix his hair. Get changed and through another day for what purpose? The same as yesterday, the same as tomorrow would be. A parade of nothing and inconsequence.

He knew he had fallen into a depression. He had hoped to shake it off or fall out of it again. Why was it so easy to get pulled in, and not the other way around? But something extra covered him today, that final magic element of hope seemed to have disappeared as he slept. A rousing song, or prayer usually helped. Taking stock and being appreciative. But no, something was different today. The same grey clouds outside, but something was different there in his bathroom. He could not even hear the birds that usually chattered and warbled beyond the walls.

He took a razor and made two clean cuts, long and deep. It was the kindest thing he could give himself, and the biggest apology.

B: open

What reflected was a surprise to him. A little light glistened in his eyes and more haloed above him. He turned suddenly, hoping to catch a trail of it around his skull. But it seemed to follow him, quick as a flash. He felt it then, a sudden strength lift within his bones like they were being pumped with magical force. He made to pray but remembered suddenly and abstractly that God should not be called upon in a bathroom. Negative spaces.

Running from the room he collapsed onto the landing, the banister casting a ray of light over him like prison bars. He watched as they seem to lift upwards, the sun disappearing behind a cloud. The bars faded, and he closed his eyes.

He pictured the world above in his mind, the ascent of this man who had become so troubled and desperate. Hands guided him; little voices pushed him further until he was at the gates of heaven. With one push, the gates parted. He opened his eyes there and bowed to give thanks. He let the words tumble out, washing appreciation over his life.

How long he remained, he’d not known. The bars of light did not return, but when he stood, he noticed the sun was hovering off in the distance now beyond his window. He wiped the tears away and stood in his new world, just as his phone in the other room began to ring.

Maddening loop

When the clothes of life don’t fit us right.
All the world hums in a headache grey.
I wish for it all to fade away.
To drown in the peace of a miracle.
Or to sleep in the air of reframe.
But life is wanton, and but an ocean of torment.
And pain is the reservoir that keeps refilling.
Washing over me, again and again

Lonely tree

In the forest, all alone.
My lonely tree feels cold as stone.
Surrounded everywhere by its branches.
That bend and twist to their own advantage.
They shake in the wind, and shiver in sadness.
Sunken in a disturbing madness.
Until one day you came into the woods.
Scared the animals and riding hood.
Yet the wolves they ran, and hid like rabbits.
Convoluted out of their own bad habits.
And into my glade you stepped so proudly.
And struck a match and yelled out loudly:
“Love is a flame that burns us under!”
And as quick as lightening, you lit me like thunder.
So my lonely tree, burned quick and sadly.
And I faded away, into death quite gladly.