Threat

The folds of the future, on a serrated line.
Do not cross the marker. Don’t enter the forest.
A Sound emits from the belly of the earth.
This stirring rumble shakes the pots from the ledges.
Loud is the sound, as it travels under your skin.
Consuming you like tiny bears, fluffy and in your veins.
The forest was always out of bounds.
They knew what awaited.
Yet they built your houses right next to it.
Eye lines and heartbeats finding a mark.
They tell you to keep out, they warned you often.
But they lead you to the tips of the trees.
Tickle you with possibilities.
And so the inevitable.
The forest captures you.
The monster consumes you.
Plucking out the bones to play haunting tunes that drift on the wind.
A threat in the thicket.
The doom in the gloom that drenches like oil.
I found your bones of course.
I always knew.
Having much lingered on the other side of the trees.
Up high, having learned how to climb.
I see the monster, I saw the demise.
I know how it ends.

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Cold murmur

I will always find you there.
Where the winter turns on high.
Deep down in those memories.
Still you will try to assuage.
Cutting cloths of gold to patch and plaster.
Those were the delicate days.
Filled with stories and culverts where dreams were forming.
To reduce it down to youth is insulting.
You were wicked and wild, level headed in times of crisis.
We were shamed by your glory.
Manoeuvred into your frame to sparkle in the dying sun.
The forest claimed that reasoning.
Covered it in snow, the blood of the berries as our hurt.
Primitive was that love.
A vagrant call to the future with two fingers up at god.
All too soon it collapsed.
Shattered into blue.
You remained frozen in that time.
Dreams dipped in diphtheria, coughing up only blood.
As the rest melted into the tomorrow.
We find you locked in the frozen landscape.
We call into the woods to find you once again.
But you remain, cold and unforgiving.
Trapped in ice.

Hunted

Are you haunted or hunted?
Crossing streams of inky despair.
Trying to slip away into the night.
A hunted animal.
Arrow marked and sought out.
It is not the jungle you wish to return to.
The scraping spires of the city is the one you hope to leave.
But they won’t let you be.
You’re a hunted animal.
Wiping tears on leaves as you run.
Putting out the forest fires.
But soon your heart tires.
Still hunted.

Baptised by the spider – extract from The Projectionist

(Harley Holland – 2018)

A mist encroached the hardening woods. Covering the dead autumnal leaves and foliage in a crisp shaving of ice. Gary Tumnal had found peace in those early mornings where the birds barely sang. He would leave the warmth of his bed and wife for the chance to hike out into the vast forest. She never understood it but there was a wonder out there only Gary knew. It swallowed all the thoughts and pressures of his daily life – giving him a sense of peace. He had scoffed at his wife when she referred to his practice as meditative. It was enough to curl the bottom of his lip up like a snarling mutt. “How could she call me a fucking hippie” he thought. He was a man who knew what he liked. He drank ales and enjoyed lifting weights on a hot summers morning. There was nothing peculiar about him…..

…read the rest here 

For more of Harley Holland’s work, follow the spiders here

W/B – Sunshine and sadness

The sunshine beat down, making the dead still air hum like static. Nothing moved. Nothing stirred. The whole forest and world rested in the maddening heat of the day. She looked up into the sky where this giant tangerine sphere blazed away, and she mopped her brow. She was hot, and sweaty. Moving slowly back towards the sad little row of town houses where she called home. She heaved the panel of wood carefully and painfully slow to her house; the middle one. The brightest of all the little homes. It’s white paint glistening in the hot sun. She thought of her house as the last good tooth in a set of rotting teeth. Rubbish and filth marked the other buildings, faulted by the need for their owners to work long hours just to survive rather than to maintain a nice home.

But she did, and she worked harder than any.

She heaved the panel finally in through her door, propping it up for now in the hallway. She had gotten up early that day, putting her hours in early at the little shop in town where she worked so she could leave before five to get to the wood shop before it shut. She knew the owner well enough, and knew he never did business out of hours. And she wanted the wood today. She wanted to fix the door tonight, while she knew he would be out.

As she caught her breath in her little hallway, she sighed at the cliché of her life so far. Married when she just seventeen, to someone she never loved. Stuck, out of circumstance, to the man and the place for fear of having to start over with nothing. The money her parents had given her was swallowed up before she had even been married a year. Drinking and gambling away her inheritance it seemed was his favourite past time. And she let him; she knew she was indeed part of the problem. She allowed him to drink and stay out because it meant he wasn’t there, at home with her. Punching the walls and putting her down. Complaining and demanding things, and putting his foot through the back door.

She went now for a glass of water, fanning her arms to cool them down as best she could as she made her way to the tiny kitchen. Her house was cool, she made it that way the best she could, but in doing so it was dark and cave like, blocking out the scorching sunlight wherever she could. Their town; plagued by tropical heat and an unrelenting sunshine that cooked and boiled everything beneath it, was something she had come to despise.  She drank from a glass, looking now at the gaping hole in the door panel. An easy fix, and done before. This time she had made sure to get the gotten stronger wood, something that would not so easily be destroyed. But something had been different this time. A part of her heart had splintered and snared like the bits of wood that stuck out now like vicious thin teeth. Her heart, hardened over the years and placed under a cloud of criticisms and chaos, surprised her at making her feel something. Something where everything she thought was numb.

But what was it. Anger? Remorse?

She wasn’t too sure. Suffering so long in the dark, it’s painful to see the light after so long. She mistook the determination for her usual war-time mentality of getting things done, carrying on and making things right. Getting the wood panel for the door, fixing it so there was no longer the yawning reminder of the open wound that was her life. Letting the dank air in. Letting the light in.

Something within was screaming. Something determined to be heard and acted upon.

She filled her glass again from the tap, drinking down the cool water. Replenishing her fluids that had escaped in her long hike from the wood-shop, and the internal steam engine that was slowly gathering force to implore her to act.

And then she heard the door go.

The front door slammed shut, not caught in any breeze that the deadened air around them could muster. He was home early. Must have been a bad day. She heard the yelling in the hall, incoherent cries like the nightjars she passed on her way to work, gathering and chorusing in the trees above. Soon he was there, in front of her, gesturing to the hall way, no doubt the wood panel caught in his way. He looked hot and red, his skin crumpled and dirty; burnt by the sun after the long day in the fields and the alcohol that dehydrated him. His hollowed cheeks, gaunt by a wicked life and bad teeth, threw shadows on his face making him look like an angry red skeleton fresh from the grave. He banged and blamed, flailing his arms around. Knocking things off the kitchen shelves. She would have to fix things, she always did. Clearing up his mess while she slept off his mood.

She ducked more than once, mindful not to be the target of his rage and waited for the storm to die. But she did something then she had never done before. The steam engine in her had reached its peak and burst, empting out years of frustrating and hatred in a single event. She launched the glass she held in her hand out into the air, and watched it sail over the kitchen and smash on the stone wall. She screamed loudly, like one would into a pillow, so loud it sounded like an air raid siren. Momentarily it confused him. He stopped dead, unsure of what was happening. She was usually so passive. So subservient. Afraid to rock the boat which would lead to her to drown in a deep sea of chaos.

But the mouse had roared.

He acted fast, waiting for her screaming to subside. The chemicals inside kicking into gear to save his self-preservation of a life he had constructed. A life where he was the boss. Her grabbed her roughly by the hair, spinning her around and pulling her backwards. He wasn’t a big man, or even strong. But fuelled by fury and drink, he handled her like that of a ragdoll, pulling her free of the safety of her little home. Their little home.

Kicking free the remains of the broken door, and out into the scorching heat. Though the day was heavy, the sun drew up on them, an oppressive spectator in the unfolding drama. She didn’t cry out, too shocked and stunned into what was occurring. She was dragged out to the center of the garden they had, and roughly shoved into the middle, finally free of his hands from her hair. He grabbed a chair that was propped up by the fence, unfolding the deckchair style and placing it on the grass that had shrivelled into a horrible rug of dirt and dry leaves.

He pushed her into the seat. The silence signalling she had gone too far with the glass. Too far, and too brave to have even begun a journey on him. She sat, motionless; waiting and watching to what was to happen. She watched him find some garden trellis string, some she had bought last year to help keep the cucumber plants steady and vertical.

He was quick tying her to the chair, binding her hands and then her legs to it. She began to protest, pleading half-heartedly that she wouldn’t do it again. A lie, she knew she would. She knew then that if there were ever a next time, she would smash the glass on his skull and be rid of him forever. But he was fast, and tied a rag in and around her mouth, keeping it in place with the string. The string, which she felt now digging into her wrists.

When he was done, without a word, he stood back and quickly went back inside. She was left there, in the garden with the sun burning done on her, tied to the lawn chair. But his return was swift, and carrying a bag of rubbish which he emptied all around her and over her. Foul bits of food and muck covered her, lapped at her feet like a garbage tide. He returned two more times, fresh trash spirited from their neighbours houses, to be emptied on and around her. Crowning her as the queen this new tragic kingdom. He threw the last empty bag away and came close, his eyes piercing hers as he bent low. Grabbing her cheeks between her fingers, pressing his dirty nails into her skin, he hissed at her.

“If you ever do that again, I will kill you.”

And he realised his grip, and stalked back inside the house. A diminishing monster, back to the depths.

The humiliation was as bad as the smell, but it was the flies and the sun which were the real torture. She was out there hours, cooking in a putrid heap as the flies nibbled and pecked at her like tiny vicious birds. The sun radiated an intensity that nearly caused her to faint, pushing down like a fiery hand from god.

But she survived.

Woken out of the delirious dreamscape her survival mind had slipped her into by a bucket of cold water thrown over her once the sun had set. He loosened her from the chair, not saying a word. Not able to look her in the eye. Before disappearing out, off to drink and spend more money.

In the aftermath, she collected herself best she could. She cleaned herself off, and tidied the garden to keep the rats from overrunning the place. Despite her nausea she had some bread, to fend off the intense hunger and disgust that brewed and bubbled in her stomach. And then she went to her bedroom, and began to pack. She did not want revenge, no good could come of that. But something had snapped within her, the spun sugar strand of patience had fractured.

She collected only what she needed, throwing it all into a bag and bringing the walls down to this part of her life. She cleared out the little box under the floorboards where he kept money, the one he thought she didn’t know about. She put it back, empty, sealing the box to a grave of solitariness. She stripped the house of her, of the things she needed to go on with. Cutting the cord to an unhappy life here. She stood in the front room, wondering if all her life could really lie crumpled and stuffed in the small bag she held in her hand. And then she saw it, the snow globe up on the shelf. Twinkling away through the dust at the higher realms of display. She had bought it herself, years ago. A winter market in one of the neighbouring towns had brought it into her life. She had been transfixed with the winter scene at the time, like bubbles of snow dancing in a small sea like dust in the wind. It was small, no bigger than her fist. And she had remembered placing it up on the higher shelf to give it a better chance in her life there, out of the danger zone of fists and fits.

She took it down now, unsettling the snow that had gathered in the bottom like pebbles in an aquarium. Should couldn’t help herself, she shook it; making it and herself one with the disjointed feeling of a world in flux. How long she stood there, she didn’t know. No happy memories were there to be collected. Only dark shadows of the past that she wanted to put into the grave.

And then, she left.

The rest was a blur. She left the house, the street and the town. Traveling far on the little she allowed herself to spend. Finally settling in the little cottage she lives now. Currently entertaining the girl from Europa. Unknowing, in part, of the little eyes who watched it all unfold, and the man of the boxes who skulked around her house.

You may be asking yourself why she never used magic to save herself from a life so fraught at the beginning. Or why she never turned her husband fittingly to a bug to squash underfoot. That too is an interesting story. For you see, once she was married, she was taken away from her family, and where she had grown up. The choking rights of marriage had labelled her practically property, and her husband had concluded that she needn’t have many things in their new home. His own were suffice. What her family didn’t know, and neither did she until later once she had left, was that he had used a bit of magic himself in the first place; to marry the lady of the jars who at the time was the girl with the glass like beauty.

This may sound all too convenient and easily explained away, but yes; sometimes life is that clichéd. He hoodwinked them all, sloppily in the end, but had struck lucky one night gambling and had acquired what he needed to enchant her. It wore off of course, but by then she was cut off from her family, and of the aged magic her own mother knew and possessed. Her mind had silenced all she had learned from her book growing up; and that’s the thing about the book itself, it needs to be with the owner. It needs to have a connection in order to tap that power and manifest. More importantly, it needs to come from a place of positivity. A submissive mind is not the soil in which miracles to grow.

But magic, and good magic, finds a way. Which is why the book came to her; posted by her mother when she knew she was safe and free. Knowing the how, or the why or the ways this magic helped find its way back to her, is inconsequential. What we do know is that once she was in possession again to such wonders, she did all she could to block out the sickening heat that reminded her of that horrible day. Which is why it snows constantly there, and why she always feels happier cold and by herself, than hot and suffering, surrounded by those flies.

….to be continued.

To read the full story, click here

White/Blue – Watchers In the woods

Watchers In the woods

The little cottage by the stream was a lovely thing to behold. It filled every notion of quaint and picturesque, and with the white snow whipping around it and settling on its old oak window sills and thatched roof, it may have seemed magic was its maker. But this was not the case. The lady of the jars put much time and effort keeping her little home pretty and practical. She tended the garden when she chose the spring seasons, and at the rear of the paddock she kept a giant domed greenhouse, full of orchids, dahlias, hibiscus and all manner of strange and unique plants. All kept under the huge dome which, now this she had bewitched, repelled the snow and kept the natural light shining in, bathing the plants with the life giving ultra violet rays.

Aesthetic wise, her house was all her own doing. But for the maintenance and security, the magic she knew dripped through every stone and brick. She was not against a bit of hard work, and she had known years of toil and trauma as much as the next person. She did use her magic to keep the house dust free (though she had some jars filled with dust that she tainted different colours, shaking them and watching the motes shimmer in the coloured light), and a little help with the laundry and such was merely a perk of knowing the inner workings of such deep and sacred magic. She also held spells and incantations over her little abode which kept it safe and secure; warding off bad spirits and deeds which promised to slither in with the shadows. But inside she was safe, and she knew it.

Outside, creeping around the back and down towards the stream, the gentleman of the boxes pushed through the huge snow drifts that had piled up by the hedgerow. He knew the place was safe for her, he knew he would have a battle on his hands if her were to challenge anything here against the lady of the jars. And he didn’t want to do that now, or perhaps anytime. A part of him knew something must be done, but for now his curious mind and eyes were searching the backyard for it. The place where she had landed. It had already been covered in so much snow that the scorched outline in the ground would be, to an average eye, hard to see. But with a magical twinkle that now twirled in his own lenses, he could see, even feel the place where heaven and earth collided.

He moved slowly, bending down every few steps to pick up a little piece. Digging his fingers into the white covering and extracting the soil, droplets of blue that permeated the thick black earth. They looked liked tiny sapphires speckled in the ground, the residue from the cocoon craft that had landed not long ago. He knew that only a grain of this would be precious to him, to fill only one of his little matchboxes would give him foresight and energy, to be able cancel out the retched snow and bring back the blaze of the summer sun. He collected what he could, searching for the large chunks of matter that sparkled abnormally in the dead snowy light. Too concerned about his diamonds in the dirt, he did not notice the others. The eyes that had appeared in the woods all around him. For it was not just the gentlemen of the jars who longed for the new gift from the stars, but others as well.

They watched him. His dominant gait slinking abnormally along the path towards the cottage. He moved like a shadow, whereas they moved like ghosts. Only noticeable if they wished to be seen. Spectres of the forest for now as they hid their figures and their intent. Woken from their slumber by the power dwelling now in the cottage by the stream, it had cracked open their hibernation and murmured within their DNA. They quickly gathered, shaking of the sleep of a thousand years and rattling like old bones in the clearing. Collecting themselves and moving on mass to the throb of the heart that was warming itself by the fire, sipping tea and eating blueberry tarts. They watched, their eyes translucent like the stream that ran behind the cottage, following the shadowed man collect the falling shards of space, pocketing them in the deep caverns of his coat. They watched, they whispered, then vanished into the ground.

“And it is your home, as long as you want it to be. I know you mean in the bigger picture, the bigger sphere of this planet, this space in time. But my home, my little life, its here for you if you need it. I want to help you, and I know why you must be here. Please, let me be the guide for you in this place.”. The lady of the jars said, her heart shifting inside.

“You know why I am here then?” The girl asked her.

“Yes, I know. It’s been foretold in a way. Well, I’ve read about it, and I feel it within me. I’ve been feeling it for a while now, something on the horizon about to appear. Like a dream where I reach out and grab something like a rainbow, beautiful, but untouchable.” She added.

“I understand. I would like for you to help, I know this might be hard for you though.”

“It is time I think. Locked away in my little cottage, doing good but not seeing the wider world. It is time for me I think. So let’s get started. You need some decent clothes, and I need my book.” She said, heaving herself up out of the seat, quickly snatching up a stray blueberry from the tin and throwing it into the air, catching it in her mouth. “Time waits for no Europan!”

…to be continued 


To read the full ongoing story, go here.

To go between the jars, visit this one.

 

Toujours en fuite?

Vous souvenez-vous, quand vous étiez jeune?
Les battements de coeur dans un infini.
Une seconde sur les lèvres de Dieu.
Pouvez-vous sentir la forêt?
Es-tu fuyant?
Disparu dans les arbres.
Quelle partie d’entre vous ne dort jamais?
Pour toujours rêver dans un monde où règnent les cauchemars.
Portez votre couronne.
Asseyez-vous, et lavez-vous dans les larmes cosmiques.

E#

Play me once more, that chamber music of my soul.
Tickling your fingers on my ivory heart.
Such intimate behaviour.
No release.
Like wild roaming beasts.
Trampling through my forest.
Bear me no mind, cause me no trouble.
Such wild bird emotions you set free each time.
That you whisper my name.
That you call to my heart.
Shivering down each vertebrae.
Snap at the heels of my passion.
Feathered in the down of where I lay.
Where you leave me trembling.
Shaking in the thoughts of your behaviour.
Crying out for mother earth to swallow me again.

Endeavoured

Don’t you like this honesty?
This radio station that plays nothing at all.
Just truth.
Echoing in the words dripped form your lips.
I should learn to be thankful.
Where do you run to when my anger shows?
Out of the forest, out the woods?
With unstable ground, mine pocked and hazardous.
Running to find salvation.
Searching for confrontation,
Drill a hole into my soul and let the light in.
Burning white light. Let it wash away the tar.
This tonne of hurt weighted through my veins.
A soul starved of understanding. Just meandering, through this grey world.
Your flesh and bone, covering a soul still unknown.
Asking for directions.
Though strange lands, your heart is still home to me.

28

That day we all remember.
Covered in lust and tragedy.
Spinning each world on our finger, while the galaxy sighed.
Creeping my way to heaven.
Those bread crumbed hearts the devil left out.
Leading a trail to beds of graves, such frozen landscapes ahead.
That hunkering down for the winter.
You were so scared of girls.
Asking for answers from no-one there.
Just an empty call in a lonely forest.
A tiny touch of lunacy.
Brought on by the moon and the rising blood.
Shackled to thoughts of someone else.
Another’s dreams. A place only they could call home.
How you hoped to kiss away that sin.
Wondering if this was how it felt.
How it felt to be wanted.
Needed for a moment in time.
Crawling on the ceiling of resistance.
Clawing at the hands of fate.
Forgetting girls always kiss and tell.

Lonely tree

In the forest, all alone.
My lonely tree feels as cold as stone.
Surrounded everywhere by branches.
That bend and twist to their own advantage.
We shake in the wind, and shiver in sadness.
Sunken in our 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 glady.

The Salvation forest

This is what keeps me alive.
You drying on my skin.
Lobsters of the deep, snap memories for us to share.
For me to fish for.
Your tongue, a mind of its own.
I hope you don’t mind, that I describe you in such words.
But this is what I need. The photosynthesis of love from sadness.
Breathing deep in me, swelling my soul.
Your Picasso honey, sweet blues of strung moments to fix.
A thorn in my side and iron lung around my heart.
Feeling you on my fingertips, presenting such possibilities.
I have to kiss you.
Crawl into the space of your mind where the heart and head battle like warring gods.
Climbing mount Olympus, wax sticking, fear splitting into sweet tangible delight.
Strong roots that burst up toward the sky, like ghosts escaping a tomb.
Strange fruit that I hunger for, my teeth to bite into.
Finding your heart at the centre, I will kiss into recovery.
Restoring your pulse and transfusing our strength into something eternal.
Breathe.

Burning the circus down

A sweet parade that rolls in from somewhere we’ve both known before.
The turpentine love is everywhere, seeping into cracks we thought we’d patched and sealed.
Flags are flying that signal everything from alarms to the falling of arms, a serenade of surrender.
A day like any other.
Your friend’s gather, ready to pick up what has been sold over to you and to count the spoils of war.
Those that revel in you acquired freedom, ready to fuck the victory.
Your eyes are all over, counting faces and seeking out the wrong to fall head into.
The fanfares begin and the lions roar their procession of emotions.
I stand in the middle, decorated in the best I can be. My hair out of place and my heart in my hands.
The crowd cheers, the revolver found its way so quickly into your hands.
Placed by someone, or there all along?
The pump from the heart and the blood gushes out, red and chunks of blackness: by-products of the ego.
You eyebrows raise, the ‘I knew’ mask covers your face to a perfect fit.
The music dies, and I run. The death of me will not come from your fingertips.
You find me in the forest, my secret place. God you know me too well.
Kissing their lips you kill me over and over in a million heartbeats.
Then I’m alone.
Fumble in my pockets for the ticket, an emotion or a cry for help.
But the circus has left town.
Yet unknown to me, it burned to the ground.
You stand there smoking.
All I’ll ever be.