In your mind of turpentine, in your soul of sadness.
Dwells a fear, that pulls you near; that on it’s own is madness.
By many names it calls itself. By many ways it shows.
A caring culture, an emotive vulture. A consideration grows.
But what it is I have for you, isn’t fake or spineless.
It’s unconditional, an endless sea. A true love that is selfless.
They say, the world almost drowned.
The day she wept.
Those salty tears, so sacred and immaculate.
That the ground began to crack, like the conscience of god.
Crumbling into sadness.
For she was so young, and now forever lost in her madness.
It came with no warning at all.
As I stood in place, hoping it would evaporate.
But down to the marrow it went, like a hungry ghost.
Feeding on my sadness.
As i watched you disappear.
Wishful thinking, I was already dead.
For nobody finds hope in tears that run red.
She waited in the rain.
Caught between do or die.
Flee or fight.
Choking on decisions, each one bitter.
She watched as the world collapsed.
As the people fragmented into another time.
Small pockets of clouds like hurried breath in the cold.
Her feet were once rooted to the ground.
But he chopped that tree of life down.
Digging out all that treasure she had buried when she was young.
And now she alone and penniless.
Older and empty.
Not for what was stolen, but for what he had left behind.
Lies, they kept her from heaven.
A raging ghost of self contempt.
And in the dark, all can see her tears.
Slipping into the cracks of hell.
Watching high from miles above.
A silent watcher, like a mourning dove,
sees the world turn and sway.
As he cranks the moon to life each day.
And watches as the world turns over.
In shallow pools while supernovas,
crash and burn his aching heart.
For a world he loves, seen torn apart.
This space I’m caught within.
Where there’s no beauty in such sadness.
Hewn from the rocks and chiselled out of time.
Copper bones that bend to an autumn song.
The creeping winter that will come.
Round and round like a circle.
Memories eating each other’s tale.
Imprinted in carbon like life’s fingerprints.
A sorrowful scratch in god’s vacant eye.
But within, a sound of escape.
Roaring into a new dawn.
Too big for the cavern it once called home.
Chasing the future and creation.
Hoping to prove both wrong.
What will be your legacy?
The earth will continue to turn over as the day melts into the misty night of the lonely. The seasons, with all their trappings will parade through time like compartments on a train; heading for an unknown destination but one that feels familiar.
What will you leave behind Jack, to a world already brimming with forgotten stories? Of people who have already done things that you crave to accomplish. Your life sits in the valley of the forever reaching, watching the clouds pass that offer hope and rain.
He held the phone to his ear, the ringing echoing in his skull like a voice in a seashell. He drew a pattern on his shorts as he awaited the click, the delayed static before they spoke. Looking outside his window he could see the half-moon poking its jagged edge above the trees. The clouds fluttered over it, shielding its full brilliance and illumination. Holding back the hope, and the light that didn’t even belong to it. The moon was a thief after all, growing infamous off the sun’s illumination.
“Hello?” the voice answered, the tinge of annoyance already present.
“Hi, how are you?” Jack said, clicking his fingers. He was nervous and angry; which had always been a dangerous mix.
“Fine….” they replied before following with “…you?” God forbid they be rude to the others listening. God watches all after all.
Even the devil? Jack wondered in that moment, as the moon ascended the top of the trees now and glared fully for the first time.
“I’m okay thanks. I was wondering if you wanted to talk?” He asked, trying his best to sound inviting, make his voice something that would open up the soul that had shut him out for nearly a week now. He knew it was a stretch, his feigned reassurance always came across as hostile for some reason, like razorblades in candy bars badly hidden.
“Not really.” They replied. He could hear music down the line, cutting the awkward silence that would be building now like a monstrous hill.
“That’s a shame. I thought by now you would have had time to think, and perhaps something to say to me. You know, you’re not being very fair.” Jack said, his voice stayed level. He was annoyed, it had been going on too long now. The uncertainty was eating away at his impatience, combusting his state of mind.
“Well, I’ve kinda said it all already. What else is there to say?” No remorse, no softly spoken words to reassure. Just the cutting knife of the reality that he had feared all along. Did they know how many nights that week he had cried into the pillow that their head used to sink into? The smell of their hair long since gone. It had been ages since they had stayed over. A month and a war in the space of their relationship which was now halting, wheezing and ready to collapse into the river of time that pulled all things away.
He wanted to shake their head and heart, unhook the kindness that seemed to have been placed behind iron walls and stony facades. He knew these words betrayed their real feelings. How many times had they said they loved him, how many times? Less than he had ever uttered a nasty voice spat inside his own head. His mind had been a petri dish of all ill thoughts and worse case scenarios this past week. Suspicion breeding like virus as self-doubt was on the rise.
“I want you to say, you’re sorry I guess.” He blurted out suddenly, regretting it instantly but proud somewhat he had said it at all.
“Sorry?! Me?” the voice replayed, taken aback by such an innocent requests which echoed unwelcomingly in their own private world of self-preservation and denial.
“Yes, you’ve not been kind to me. You know how I feel, and you know what buttons to push.” He said.
There was a long silence, the music in the background having been turned off momentarily before. The break hung like Christmas decorations in March, out of place and conjuring conflicting memories.
“I’m…I’m sorry Jack.”
He was surprised, then overcome with panic. It was the goodbye he feared. The closure they needed and the thing he had orbited around. He had given them the ticket to depart and leave him forever. A clear conscience can flee with ease, and freedom only helps you say goodbye.
How long he had stayed on the phone, he didn’t remember. They must have clicked off a while ago as the moon now indicated to him the night had come. The darkness was here, nothing more now, and the nights were to be cold and desolate.
And when I woke, my eyes were blinded.
By a sight I could not see.
My heart had broken, and you reminded;
me of all that could not be.
I never let the weeds grow there, but the vines took hold.
Choked out the light and freedom for us both.
That place, darkening now the harder I remember.
You said you’d always meet me there.
Where the street and the sorrow fell away.
Reach for me you said, and you can touch my face.
The essence of divinity here on earth.
Now you shimmer like a diamond, caught in the empty space of time.
Untouchable, yet desired. Clouded by invisible hands.
I always smiled in these places. These foggy bits of the past.
You did that. You put this thing in me that forced the change.
Drew the happiness out like an antidote to sadness.
The weighting of you, and the love that cocooned.
But you have departed on the winds of indifference.
Blown out to sea, lost forever in the sinking ship of us.
In the darkness which suffocates and strangles.
Leaving me conscious, but only just; to see the wreck I’ve made.
And now, it always rains in my memories.
Blanketing my world in water.
But nothing ever washes away.
ELLE VA BIEN
They jostled onto the train that had arrived with a clankering commotion at the station. The vaulted tiled ceiling of the underground station swirled with the sound of metal, tannoy announcements and tourist hubbub. They train had emptied somewhat, spilling out its human cargo which shuffled towards the luminous sortie signs, the basic words even foreigners understood. Ingrained from childhood French lessons and the trappings of travel. They were able to get seats as the train pulled away and snaked into the belly of the city, passing tunnels and bones of the long forgotten.
The seats were as hard as wood, worn down from millions of asses thankful of somewhere to rest for the short journeys between stations. They were heading down towards Saint-Marcel and thankful too to be getting away from the crush and pull of the touristy hotspots. They watched the other passengers engrossed in smart phones, conversations and anxieties of potentially going the wrong direction. Passengers on life’s train of happenstance.
Opposite them sat a lady, listening to her headphones and glancing off into the train. Looking, but searching for nothing. Her brown hair fell around her face, framing her like a motionless portrait typical of those seen meters above in the many museums dotting the city. She sat motionless, listening to her music as the train swayed and hummed down the line. The only movement was a collection of tears that suddenly began to build and breach, trickling down her face. They watched as she tilted her head down, blinking away the collection of tears and emotions that had appeared. One of them jabbed the other in the side, bringing attention to the scene before them in case it was not being seen or felt for the degree that it was. The audience of empathy which was required. He reached inside his pocket and took out a tissue, hoping it was clean. The crinkles indicated it had been with him all day, but looked devoid of anything unpleasant.
He reached across and gently touched her arm. She looked up, surprised. “Are you okay?” he asked, hoping his eyes spoke to a level beyond the language required. She nodded and mumbled words of appreciation, taking the tissue and dabbing her eyes. A small smile appearing at the corner of her mouth, her eyes shaking away an embarrassment that wasn’t necessary.
She looked above her finding the line map, a tiny yellow light indicated they were at Bastille. The train usually emptied a lot here, and she glanced around seeing those exiting and ones awaiting to board. Her hand found the phone in her pocket and she skipped the track on her music. Her mind was suddenly taken elsewhere as her heart skipped a beat, and the chaos around her ebbed away. It had never been ‘their song’, but it was always one that had reminded her of them. The lyrics so seemingly fitting for what they had, what had burrowed inside of her and warmed her soul. She did not notice the two guys sit down opposite her, the limited space between where their knees nearly met. She was off elsewhere, hearing laughter and smelling them on her bedsheets.
The train jerked, and though she stayed in her memory, it shifted along with the train. It had all crumbled, corroded only yesterday. Smashed liked a teetering tea cup on the edge of a kitchen counter. She could understand things not working right now, she could even acknowledge the arguing. But those had been usual relationship problems. To be told you were no longer needed, that you were no longer welcome in their life. That was what had hurt. She could deal with the packing up of possession and the moving on. Going into work the next day as routine propelled her forward. But she could not take the hurt that had ignited within, perhaps lying dormant for the inventible. That she was never the one, she could no longer make them happy. All that she had to offer, came up short. All those reasons she had told herself why she was inadequate rang out to be real in a horrible realisation of truth, a view she had shielded her eyes from, like looking at the sun. It had swallowed her, submerged her in a grey that clung to her like oil.
Putting on her work clothes, combing her brown hair. Seeing the day instead of cowering in her bed like she wanted. The feeling of detachment and lack lay upon her, making her feel that no one really cared for her in this world. If she turned up to work or not; nothing really mattered in a way. The tears welled and broke forth, streaming down her cheek in a warm river. She had forgotten she was on the metro. Her mother would have been ashamed to see her show such emotion in public, but she did not realise. Too consumed in grief and self-piety that she found herself deep beneath the streets of Paris on a Metro train that ran all day, every day. Until she felt something nudge her arm, softly yet foreign. She looked up surprised to see a small tissue and concerned smiles greet her. She nodded a thanks and was able to cough up “Merci, je vais bien,” and she smiled slightly, knowing it was true.
They grey was still within her, but in that moment a tiny part had turned to white.
You struggle to breathe now.
With guilt filling your lungs like water.
Careful not to break.
To run a ground on regret.
Problems that seemed better in the morning.
Bare on your skin like the sun of the rising zodiac.
Crawling with your Taurus tendencies.
Your face fails to fill my eyes, contorted and hidden.
Peeping in and out of truth and reality.
Slipping into the past like an exit manoeuvre.
Weightless, like your words.
Faithless and scared.
That toe dip into the world or the righteously misled.
As the dam breaks, and the clouds sigh in sadness.
Washing me in the rain of your ghostly tears.
A phantom I left two minutes before you even knew what you were doing.
Coincidence or grand design?
Tuesdays were always difficult. A problem day. A nothing day. All the things wrong in her life seemed to have occurred on that second day of the week. Second for her at least, some people she knew classed Sunday as the first day. What did they know she always thought? She could always gauge how one Tuesday was to unfold anyway, the motivation of Monday dripped away by the evening, making way for another mediocre book-end of days that collected on the shelf of her life. But this Tuesday was different. Different in a similar sort of way, like driving down a road that you’ve never been down before, yet knowing there will be a dead end.
The rain had done it’s best to encourage her to stay at home that day, the wind whipping up a sizeable storm outside her windowpane to keep her safely tucked inside watching the world come to a watery end. The promise of a good book by her small cosy fire was not enough of a lure it seemed, to keep her from going over to see her mother. She lived on the other side of town, which in itself was not a large body of houses, you could cross to the other side in about ten minutes by car. However, Jackie didn’t own a car and she didn’t drive. She was much too anxious to be let loose in a world where maniacs were given licenses to speed along invisible racetracks.
So that day, the Tuesday day; she braved the weather and made her way to her mother’s house. She was prepared for the storm, and had dispensed on the cumbersome umbrella that would no doubt pick her up and whisk her away to Oz. Instead, she was bundled up so tight and so well she looked like a yeti wading through the small streets, caring not to the cars that splashed by her on their own personal adventures.
She’d had the ominous feeling since breakfast, that something was out of sync that day. The weather was the first warning, the second being her hands which had been shaking since she had tried to spoon the cornflakes into her mouth for breakfast. The tiny pieces of cereal had fallen all around her bowl like tiny bits of cardboard on a craft mat. She’d taken a pill and all had seemed fine, though she couldn’t shake the feeling. It stuck to her like the film of milk left on an emptied glass.
She thought more of it now, watching a black cat dart out from under someone’s parked car on the side of the street. Unaccustomed to being out in the wet weather, it glared at her as it made its way to the safety of a porch of the house she passed. The feeling was itching away at her insides now, and she quickened the pace towards her mother’s house.
“Mum, it’s me” She called into the small little cottage. Her mother never locked her doors, refusing to believe she was living in the 21st century, still half expecting friendly neighbours to pop in to see how she was doing and borrow sugar. She closed the door and locked it firmly behind. “Mum?”. But there was no reply. The house wasn’t quiet though. It groaned and shunted in the storm, and in the rooms away some pipes gurgled into their own orchestral concert. She took off her jacket, hanging it up on the coat hook by the front door. She passed by the picture of her father, nestled into a neatly polished silver frame, greeting anyone who entered her mother’s kingdom with a smile and a look of knowing.
At her feet she felt Apollo brush past her, gliding through the hallway like a streak of fur. Her mother had had her since she was a kitten, given to her by one of the ladies she played bingo with down at the village hall. She’d always said she was more of dog person, but she secretly, Jackie suspected, adored that cat; who took great pride of place throughout her mother’s well organised life. Apollo meowed noisily and scuttled off towards the conservatory.
“Mum, you about?” she called out again. Holding back the alarm now that had convened on her feeling of ill and dreed since the morning. She followed the cat to the back of the house, the rain thundering hard down onto the conservatory roof, tining and thundering through the back room.
There she saw her mother, slumped on the side of her high backed chair. A stranger would have guessed she was sleeping, but Jackie knew her better than that, and though she couldn’t help it, she hung back for a moment, bracing her emotions for the tidal of grieve that was to come.
There was a slow rumble of thunder coming from outside, the ferociousness of the storm was waiting in the wings still, about to set forth it’s lasered dance of lightning and noise. She brushed the loose hair that had fallen over her mother’s face, the greying sight of age that hung loose and lifeless. Her eyes were closed she noticed, and a huge part of her was relieved to think that she had felt no pain.
She was sat in the centre of the conservatory just by her huge astromic telescope that she had bought herself a few years ago. Anyone who came to the house always thought it was decorative. The type of thing high end department stores sell for obscure aesthetics to those with more taste than knowledgeable inclination. One look around to spot the kitschy frog ornaments and dusty fake flowers would be enough to tell you it wasn’t one of those. This was an actual telescope, and her mother simply adored star gazing. She would sit out here, and sometimes in the garden on the warmer nights, and gaze up into the heavens. She knew all of the constellations of course, and would set Jackie’s niece Angela on her lap when she came over and try to find the planets for her, even in the day.
Her mother sat there now, an empty shell in that high back chair, her hand on her notepad with some scribblings of her night’s recent gazing. Apollo jumped up and sat on her lap, wafting the smell of her perfume up into Jackie’s nostrils, flaring up memories and loss. She cried there then, for about twenty minutes, her hand in her mother’s as she said her goodbyes. She wondered what to do after, going over to her mother’s phone in the kitchen to ring her brother to tell him what had happened. Seeing in her mind’s eye the next 24hrs unfolding in a terrible depressive snapshot of time.
She put the phone back in its cradle and instead went to the kettle and made herself a cup of tea. She sat with her mother for the rest of the day, until the sun slipped out of the sky and darkness descended. The storm had long ago blown itself into oblivion, making way for the tranquil stillness that comes after a hurricane. Jackie had done the same, allowing the moments and thoughts of despair to be swept away in the stormy waters.
She looked up through the telescope to see the stars dancing above in their diamond beauty, and then she got to work.
She reached up through the telescope and grabbed the black duvet of space. Some stardust sprinkled her hands like glitter off a birthday card. She heaved and pulled and dragged the galaxy down to earth where she and her mother sat in that conservatory on that infamous Tuesday. She tugged and dragged, scaring poor Apollo with her grunts and sighs, who dived behind her mother’s cardigan which she had wrapped around her body, stiffening slowly as she slipped into rigor mortis. When she had what she needed, she drew it around her mother, blanketing her in the sea of stars. The ones she had longed for all her life. Wrapping her tightly like a swaddled child, in a stars and space. Keeping her safe forever in the place she loved.
Twenty five of them, she’d counted as they’d sung Happy Birthday in the small restaurant that they insisted was her favourite. The other candle must have dropped off somewhere, or the staff at establishment had been given false information. Exasperated by their inclination to not really care. But there they were now, twenty five of them standing up in the frosty platform as her friends and family chorused in with the jubilation. She smiled patiently, looking at the other couples in the place staring at her in quiet satisfaction that it were she that were the spectacle.
The song ended, and they all applauded as she blew out the misleading twenty five burning flames that represented her life on the planet. She hadn’t done it for years, but this time she made a wish while she blew, closing her eyes to make them all disappear for her small moment of intimacy with the universe. The applause died down and she blinked back into reality, reaching for her glass to silently toast her desire. The cake was whisked away from her by the staff, to be dissected for all in attendance, and listened to the others at the table talking about their own progressive years and the fear of reaching thirty, or forty; or whichever milestone society had pegged out for them all to have achieved a certain thing by.
Her mother asked if she’d had a nice time so far. She sat there next to her in her one good dress, or so it seemed, the one she saved for extra special occasions. She had spilt a little something on it up by her neckline, a drip from the red wine she had eagerly been enjoying that evening. She wondered if it would come out, or if this were its swan song evening. She nodded in reply, saying something about having a lovely time and how nice it was everyone could make it.
It was a half-truth really. Though she appreciated the effort all had made, she would have been happy spending the evening at home. She drew a circle of eight on the tablecloth as her mother returned to her friend whom she’d brought with her that evening. Circling around the small stain of her own that had bled into the white landscape that stretched out before her. Her boyfriend squeezed her knee, chatting animatedly with her friend Paul next to him who had turned up late, pushing himself into a space at the head of the tiny table.
She sighed, and took another sip from her glass. It was already 10pm, and she could hear people talking about ordering another round and some coffees to go with her cake. She picked up the small travel journal that lay on the table behind her, a gift she’d opened earlier from her sister who couldn’t be there that evening since she was on the other side of the world. She’d sent her a small, yet expensive looking journal, tied up with old flight tickets from her own exhaustive travels around the planet. She opened it up, noticing a small message at the front:
“Time waits for no (wo)man”
Typical of her, she’d thought, and reached behind to put the book back onto the pile of gifts and treats everyone had nicely brought with them. She sat there again, quietly watching the others. For her own celebration, no one had really spoken to her much that night. She seemed liked a stranger at her own party, lost in crowd of noise, feeling like a spectator to someone else’s play.
She had work in the morning, and she was getting tired. She spotted Katy; her friend from the office who had come with her girlfriend and sat the other side of the table. Laughing and drinking with such ease. Unlike Katy, she hated her job, which she’d started about six months ago and had been miss-sold from the start at what it would entail. The office was grey and dull, and their building was tucked away on the side of town that bled into the industrial estate. She had promised everyone she would look for something else, but hadn’t done so yet; owing herself the biggest apology for being so lazy. Her boyfriend squeezed her knee again, his constant sign of being both there and absent as he drank his beer and chatted with her friend whom, she could tell already, had hastily becoming intoxicated.
The cakes arrived back at the table, the waiting staff smiling as they placed the tiny plates in front of the guests and took orders for more drinks. She pushed her chair back, about to excuse herself, when she realised either side of her were both consumed in their own conversations, so she said nothing. She apologised to a waiter as she accidently bumped into her, nearly sending the birthday slice high up into the air; and made her way towards the bathroom. She stopped, only for a second, and then walked straight passed it.
She left the restaurant, and out into the cold night air where she exhaled deeply, standing on the street. A few other diners stood by the door, sending their smoke swirling around the door like a revolving dragon. She stood there herself now, still in the night with her arms down by her side. Her fingertips moving to a secret rhythm only she could hear. She turned to glance into the restaurant, its glass steamed up slightly due to the dropping temperature outside. She watched as all at her table continued on their merry gathering, laughing and enjoying themselves.
“Avant que ça ne se produise.” She muttered under her breath, and started up the street, in the wrong direction to home.
This Kahlo heart is waning, but I refuse to let it die.
It’s been waiting for too long.
Broken like a back you painted yellow.
Now distant Babylon whispers around these silent tears.
Be mine, be free.
Ah, such Illuminating vision.
Yet the freezing rain is unforgiving.
Don’t look back, breathe.
Keep your head above the water.
Isolate these moments of joy.
Encase them in glass forever and hang them for the world to see.
You and me.
Teetering on the inevitable as we dance around the possible.
Your hand in mine, your bones locked into a heartbeat.
The tick, after tock of this borrowed time.
If the world ached and sighed, changing in a blink of an eye.
If a plane were to fall on us, from that jet black sky.
Would we exhale into regrets, or smile at all that had been?
Take this hand again, and follow me into the unknown.
Head held high like your mother taught you.
Eyes as beautiful as the day you were born.
Damaged and delighted at
The silent soul who wades this world.
With brittle bones and sad inclinations.
Arrives at a place in memory, strung up with words that bind.
Does he fall deeper into the despair of an age?
Of that turning sun that snatches all that lay in his hands?
Or does shift, and arches his back to the march of time.
A solider in war of change.
Corrupting from within.
Dirty soul licker.
Causing us to stutter.
I know you want to stop.
Been smoking that thing too long. Been praying to the wrong God.
That One you trust in.
Confiscate such liberties and inconsequential humanity.
Swallow it down.
Feel it shudder.
Suck on the bruise until the nation rolls over.
Those bears in your head, scratching the cave wall.
Their arms a tangle of fur and blood.
Does it make you perspire?
You are the one. You oxygen thief.
Back firing and closing up these holes in our veins.
Choke this Trojan horse. Slipped in when no-one was looking.
That fascination in the situation.
Ready to cum.
A Climatic cabaret of guns and hate.
Mop it all up with that spangled banner.
Did it do it for you?
Caught in the teardrop, that’s trapped in time.
Shivering into something unfamiliar.
These bite marks plague me still.
Itching my skin like memories.
If you just let me go.
Watch me walk into that dying star.
Into the fire.
So encased in fear. This icy realm of apathy.
Too hurt to start again.
Too tired of being tired.
Looking at the grey sky in your eyes as you whisper.
It’s too cold for snow.