Rebirth

I am lagging and flagging,

I wink at the Moon,

I make her swoon.

Tides crawl and creep,

Brides look and leap,

Season of harvest.

*

Deconstructing a miracle.

What else would you call it?

The X and Y chromosome,

Are they available on the phone?

I am nervous.

The world around me is changing,

Alien and hostile,

Scrunching in on me,

Squeezing me to the size of a pip.

It’s me, I am changing,

The world is the same

And it terrifies me.

People smile,

Glib and bright,

Their eyes, oh, their eyes,

Dead turtle eggs,

The foaming sea claims them,

Baubles for merciless angels.

**

A face, an imprint,

Watching, judging me.

Are you up to it?

An image of purity,

A cup-bearer to the gods,

No, no, let me keep him!

***

Blunt and bland,

White white white,

Stark and blinding,

Keep them away from me,

Slobbering shrieking creatures,

Put them in a pen,

And use the cattle-prods.

I blink and tap my heels,

No, this is real.

Everyone tells me it is wonderful,

They must be mad,

Or drunk, or lying.

Resentment has flourished,

Heart tangled with Japanese Knotweed,

Arrigato.

****

I am calm…with terror.

I fake it,

Here is my smile,

I stole it from a clown

Whose face became a balloon,

Up up up it floated,

Harpooned by whalers.

My body is a bucket

Brimming with a bulbous babe

Who squirming like an angry carp.

*****

I am distant,

I am Moses,

I am with God,

I am with child;

Frantic tribes rush,

Ants by my feet,

I look at God,

He shakes His head,

Answering my unasked question,

Fuck it.

I rage at them all,

Their smiles, their exhortations,

Give me a scalpel

To surgically remove their hypocrisy,

My words dissolve into howls,

What is this agony?

******

I trundle with the bundle,

A weary carthorse,

Clippety clop,

Slippety slop,

I am an empty vase,

A fresh wound,

A shrivelled prune

Gory with battle.

This offering,

This bloody parcel,

Anointed crown,

Angry sponge,

My pores sweat joy,

My heart is a burning rose,

I find my religion

In a gummy smile,

I pass out speaking in tongues…

Noli me tangere!

Twenty silver pieces,

I would have held out for more;

Asleep in Gethsemane’s groves,

Ripe disciples to be plucked,

I have a spear for them,

The world is too fast,

It spins and spins,

I feel dizzy,

A goblet awash with scarlet worship,

Could I ascend?

*******

He inherits my anger,

Eyes flash lightning,

Puffs of ash,

Zapping the unbelievers.

I laugh and laugh,

My physical torment,

My stitched scar,

I survived the Wilderness,

I came back a prophet,

Carrying a living logos.

********

I am possessed,

An instrument of torture,

Blue oceans mottled with corpses,

I am moribund.

I could go into exile,

I could find a new Hell,

My skin is parchment,

Arcane language scribed upon me,

Walking miracle,

Read my body,

Proclaim the words,

Darkness flows from me.

*********

She haunts me,

Alive in my head,

Jagged memory,

Tiny hand raised,

Blessing? Imploring?

Stars bleed for her.

**********

Prison cots,

So helpless,

She sleeps,

She writhes,

She cries,

Oh how she cries,

My tears, so many,

I love you.

***********

I want to scream,

I am not the same person,

Hand on the mirror,

Who are you really?

The woman you knew?

She has gone.

Eviscerated by a knife,

Disintegrated by life,

I haven’t auditioned for this play,

I have no lines,

No prompts or stage directions;

Everyone is so familiar,

Your grins are like adverts,

I’m not buying it.

I apply lipstick,

I smile casually,

I am ready

For the parade,

For the charade,

I am a wife,

I am a mother,

I am a woman.

************

How can I have her nightmare?

A dreary weary foghorn,

Swathed pallid bundle,

Floating in a bullrush basket,

Drifting out to sea,

Away from me,

She is asleep,

At peace,

Safe…

She is an arrow snapped off in my heart,

My soul bleeds,

Guilt eternal,

I love you.

*************

I am her again,

Red lipstick mirrored,

She smiles when I smile,

Laughs when I laugh,

But if I catch her eye,

She reveals herself,

Silently pointing at me,

Je t’accuse! Je t’accuse!

I can taste her bitterness.

**************

I am reflection

I am sunshine

I am shadow

I am faded

I am evaded

I am lonely

I am exile

***************

The old wound,

Red raw memory,

Burrowing and munching,

Am I dreaming?

****************

Seasonal symptoms,

Boing boing – Spring!

Floral pageants,

Birdy ballads,

Pulse of rebirth,

I can forget the nightmare,

Ignore those tiny hands

Behind my eyelids,

No, no, you do not belong,

She said goodbye,

She abandoned everyone,

I exist because of her,

Just like you did.

*****************

It is a peaceful evening,

I feel I belong,

That taut knot twisting my heart,

It has loosened,

I am healed,

I can share this revelation,

My smile drops like a careless pebble,

Oh no, no, no,

Cruel, cruel Fates,

I am the understudy,

I am twice revisited,

It is her husband,

Her son, her loss,

They belong to her,

She fell apart

And I healed her.

I weep scalding tears,

It’s not fair,

I go to the mirror,

She is crying too,

She can feel my pain,

Now I understand hers,

We press our hands together,

I turn into glass

And she is resurrected.

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Reunion

Mega ordinary,

Lord of the cabbages,

Nodding, mumbling,

Maybe dribbling a little.

Deafening thunderclap,

Birds take flight,

Angry lightning bolt,

Fizzing and whizzing,

Targeting a vulture,

Surprised squawk,

It flaps aflame,

Dying with a deflated sigh.

Clouds unleash rain,

The cabbages stir,

Their faces open up,

Violent hungry mouths,

I run for shelter,

For sanctuary,

For my life.

A singed feather drifts,

Rapacious snatch,

I enter the glass house,

Hot humid breaths,

The plants are sweating,

Glittering condensation

Washes blood from windows;

A monster lives here,

I can hear it,

Weighty foot

Dragging

Reluctant soil,

Slow deliberate killer,

So sure in its lair,

Dog-headed man,

Crooked crescent smile,

Drooling oily bile.

Fear molests me,

I could run…

A throaty growl,

He has found me,

Does he remember

Who he used to be?

I swallow a seed whole,

No going back now,

I am the offering,

He is too strong,

I am pinned down,

His darkness swathes,

Gnarled hands choke,

I am going to die,

Another forgotten victim.

Not long left,

Pain is a bruising echo

Why did I come here?

I stab the creature,

The feather drinks his souls,

And feeds mine,

Making me him.

I can feel the seed

Growing inside me,

Soon

I will be the monster,

Will I remember?

Maybe memory is a curse,

Before I forget,

Happy Birthday, father.

Fated II

White pristine winter,

White pristine walls,

White crispy sheets,

Swathed and walled in,

Pallid Egyptian queen,

I am fading…

Disintegrating…

Dematerialising…

My DNA is giving up.

Inert plum hands,

Clumsy flesh clubs,

My face is the horizon,

A dimming star,

Maybe I am already dead.

All I see is their eyes,

Inky and insouciant,

Their words caught by masks,

Mumbled echo of gulls.

Thin needles drip venom,

Deeper slumberous fall,

Bright smiles hook me,

Slowing my descent,

They say they are family,

They are strangers to me,

Their stares are too loud.

Tears from my clam eyes,

No pearls for the swine

I am ready,

A priest yawns,

Too bored to absolve.

Petalled assassin,

I watch it edge to my bare arm,

A thorny incision

And then it drinks,

Floral transfiguration.

Echo

The horizon was tinged with wispy tendrils of the sun’s fading fire. Shadows tentatively crept out of their diurnal prisons reclaiming their domain of sepulchres filled with dusty relics. The cemetery was a sanctuary for the shadows; they could swathe themselves in melancholy, silence and solitude.

The shadows whispered to one another and the trees rustled uneasily…something was out of place. A girl was sitting on the edge of a tomb. She was wearing scuffed Doc Marten boots, ripped fishnet tights, a short black leather skirt and a black t-shirt with the image of a bleeding heart. Her sandy-coloured hair looked brittle, like it would snap if someone tried to touch it. Black lipstick and deliberately overdone black eye-shadow could not detract from her brown eyes which were overflowing with soul. What was the girl doing here? They decided to observe her.

Priscilla brushed broken twigs and desiccated leaves from the tomb until she could see a name, she read out aloud: Jacques De Villiers! Angels carried him up to the heavens on 2nd July 1886.

The persistence of memory. That was Priscilla’s affliction. What made a tomb? Masonry, marble, grandeur, inscribed words or the skeleton within? Walk through a cemetery, read the names and messages, you can feel an echo of love and loss still lingering, cheating the fickleness of Father Time. The deceased persist in our memories and when we, the torch-bearers of their lives fade, cemeteries are their enduring testament.

Priscilla knew she should not be here. How was it that her journey had started at the end? It did not make any sense. A cemetery was definitely the end of a journey. The things she had seen – wondrous horror and terrible beauty. She lit a cigarette. She could sense the shadows were watching her.

“Do not fret, my sable friends, all will be revealed!”

The shadows rippled. This girl was strange.

“I will tell you a story!”

The shadows stretched closer towards her.

‘A noble family with one heir; the son was raised in the manner of a prince. The widowed father’s design was to have his son marry into royalty and promulgate the family lineage. While Jacques was well-versed in societal protocols, he found his peers to be frivolous and shallow. The De Villiers’ estate was large and renowned for its game. Jacques hunted to avoid the presence of simpering girls tittering behind bejewelled brocaded corsets.

It was during a pilgrimage in the forest when he chanced upon her…a girl unlike any other. She moved with the natural grace of her arboreal surroundings. Her clothing was smudged, the hem of her dress was bedraggled and she had dandelion seeds caught up in her flowing hair. He remembered his botany classes and without thinking spoke aloud.

“Did you know the botanical name for the dandelion is Taraxacum officinale?”

The girl whirled around, grasping a hatchet.

“Peasants call it pissenlit!”

Jacques was taken aback. Nothing in his education had prepared him for this encounter.

“I meant no disrespect.”

“If you touch me, I will hack you to death!”

Jacques laughed. He was smitten. He would often seek her out in the forest. She would always ignore him when he spoke to her about books he had read. The girl loved his stories. She did not understand this strange man at all. One day she would consent to tell him her name. Their lives were intangibly different yet neither of them had ever been so happy.

Charles De Villiers had noticed a change in his son’s demeanour. He charged one of his servants to spy on Jacques. Bernard was a shifty fellow. He reported his findings to his master with glee. Charles was furious! This peasant was a passing fancy. His son was defying him. Charles paid Bernard to remove the problem. The De Villiers’ bloodline could not be tainted.

The girl was missing and Jacques was frantic. He spent every waking hour in the forest searching for her. Charles asked Bernard to bring the girl back. Bernard smirked.

“She was a feisty one, attacked me with a hatchet. I threw her down a well.”

“She is dead?”

“Very.”

Charles could not tell his son the truth, he was quasi-insensate without that damned girl. Time would temper his son’s current fever.

Jacques emerged from the forest one night and saw Bernard chopping kindling. He sat down on a log to watch. Bernard was uneasy. Had the old man let something slip?

“Permit me to assist you, Bernard, it would alleviate my nerves.”

Bernard was bemused but acquiesced. Jacques studied the hatchet Bernard had handed him.

“She never would have surrendered this, it belonged to her father.”

Bernard cursed himself. It had been too fine a hatchet to throw into the well. Death blazed in Jacques’s eyes as he advanced on Bernard. The servant fell backwards, scrambling in the dirt. Jacques gripped Bernard’s left wrist, pinning the hand to a log. The hatchet flashed hungrily in the moonlight. Bernard screamed in horror and grabbed his severed hand. He garbled about following orders and a well. The babbling stopped. The hatchet was lodged in Bernard’s skull.

Jacques ran amok, setting the family mansion aflame. Charles saw his son disappear into the forest and dispatched servants to retrieve him. They followed the glow of Jacques’s torch as it flitted in the darkness until it stopped moving. They were too late. Jacques had flung himself into the well to be with his love.’

The shadows sighed.

Priscilla took one final drag of her cigarette.

“It is a terrible thing to know your loved one will never know your name. It took me three days to die in that well.”

Priscilla lay on the tomb.

“I could not let death keep us apart, your Priscilla is here for you.”

The shadows watched in rapt amazement as a phantasm manifested; it embraced the prone girl and pulled her gently into the tomb. Dandelion seeds floated by in the breeze.

 

Disciple

The city sleeps peacefully but I lie in bed freaking out. If only I were solely an insomniac. My conscience will not let me sleep. If I close my eyes, I see your face, it is beautiful & smooth, you open your mouth and flies buzz out, your flesh is devoured by maggots. I scream. Even in the darkness, I see the dull glow of the red dress fading into the past. Incessant shouting, a harsh voice yet when I switch on the light, it ceases. My flat is a coffin. I know I will die in it but how? Visions in mirrors, seductive whispering, the dry clicking of locust wings…am I to blame? The loss of God, injured soul, hungry demons. I turn on the TV, I see a large shop window, all the mannequins have my head & hands, I run to the mirror, horror, my mannequin hands press my plastic face! I kneel in front of the TV, arms open and palms held upwards, a martyr for the cause. The mannequins are laughing while they cut their faces with razor blades. I try to turn the TV off and realise it is not plugged in. A knock at the door. I peer through the peephole, a myriad of animal eyes stare back at me. What the fuck is happening? Why am I being punished? I am ready for my demise (or so I think), I open the door…all that greets me is a parcel wrapped in cellophane on the floor. I grab the offering & retreat to my flat. I carefully unwrap the blue cellophane and almost throw up. Fresh layers of membrane! I pick some up and it covers my hand, making it normal again. I wrap it around my head like a death mask. I stand in front of a mirror, it sort of is me but not. I realise that I have used up all the membrane but forgot to restore my left hand. I grasp a hammer and destroy the plastic hand. Then I smash the mirror & walk barefoot across the shards of broken glass like a holy man. Blood streaks the white tiles of my bathroom floor. I see the animal eyes in the shards and close the bathroom door. Every bloody footprint looks like her face. This unnerves me. Your accusing stare should be in my nightmares. Her lust tasted of blood, she was a killer, a collector of souls. The TV is still on. I am on a game show. I have a painted smile dripping with death. My TV self holds up a black rose and passes it to me through the TV screen. I stare down at the black rose in wonder, it is perfection. I look back up and there is no TV. My flat is now a cell, there are no doors or windows. My heart feels heavy, I am a witness to too much, I did not lose faith, it turned its back on me. I pull out an old photo from my wallet, it is me as a child. Two hearts in the balance, it is my Judgement Day. I cut my finger with a thorn of the black rose. I watch as a small globule of blood gathers. I am a modern day Pontius Pilate, I have a choice, damnation or redemption…