The Boredom Artist

Ennui, stasis, liquefying putrid decay. The drip drip drip of the tap in your head. Replace the parts, flush out the system with corrosive rage. Break, smash, burn. Melted marshmallow screams. Faces floating, flashing in and out of the void. Words in a spin cycle, the hum of the machine, you try to crush your skull with your own hands.

The prisoner has no identity. He is hidden from all. Isolation. No one sees or hears him. Rip open your chest and hold up the bloodied pumping heart to the sun…the deception of flesh. Crush the heart and throw it to the baying dogs. Fill your chest with the emptiness in people’s eyes.

Walk among the barcoded husks living an illusion. Is it all a lie? Is it a test? When do we find out if we passed, if we won? In the afterlife when our souls are rattling in the Devil’s rusty jagged soup can?

Music, defiance, shifting realities, flat one dimensional words forming the DNA of new and different lives and yet…it persists. Deja clue. Haven’t we been here before? The stage, the players, the applause, the bows. Clenched fists of victory and hate. Banality. Tired pathetic excuses for human beings; zeroth dimensional cardboard cutouts. Sound bytes clack their teeth, hungry for the propagation of misery. Let us save you by casting more into Hell. The equality of suffering. When the fires rage the grubby puppets will have no more words. What a day that will be, they will be torn to shreds by the people they promised to save.

The annihilation gene has been activated. Reduce yourself to nothing then do the same to other people. Everyone has an opinion, or so they think, type furiously to defend or denigrate, it’s never been so important. Apparently. It’s ‘The Age of Frightenment’. An invisible vortex lives, breathes and fucks in the internet. It drags us all in, a virtual Cyclopic eye with teeth, crunching and munching our data, our habits, our photos, our words, our minds, our souls. It speaks to us even though it has no mouth. Whispering incessantly. Draining us. We follow, like, heart the show because we are in it. A global cast…the cabaret of calamity.

Oh wait, maybe someone has been offended by something, better apologise, make it sincere, preserve the brand. The fucking brand. Glossy mannequins dressed in flesh. Their fake plastic smiles are like coat-hangers with sharp shiny white teeth. Kill the savages! Who said that? Was it me or you? Or none of us? The voices. They are not real. Well, they are, sort of. Oh, yeah, I get it. Don’t forget to stream your suicide live. Thumbs up.

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Clowning About

So I killed a clown. Big deal. He probably had it coming. Freaking weirdo! When I say I killed a clown, it wasn’t like I accidentally bumped into him and he fell off a cliff, no, I decapitated him with an axe. His head flew through the air and hit a little girl square in the face. I burst out laughing. You had to be there really. The little girl’s scream was so shrill all the balloons popped. Everyone froze. The clown’s body was still walking, you know like slow zombies do, blood spurting out of its severed neck. The people stared at it then the head then back at me doubled over with laughter. They started laughing, they thought it was part of the show. A guy went to push the chest of the headless body, that was a big mistake. It grabbed his throat and started to strangle him. It went quiet again. Darndest thing, the severed head began to cackle, a real creepy psycho cackle. It got a bit hectic after that.

The problem with clowns is that they are like a piece of sellotape which gets stuck to you, annoying as fuck. Five of them were staring me down from across the main circus tent, their grins could only be described as murderous. They charged, hitting and hacking anyone in their way with tent pegs and swords. Everyone knew the sword swallower never locked his swords away. I booted the severed head into the lion cage in an attempt to shut it up. Lions are notorious for having no sense of humour. I ran from the clowns and people ran from me.

The circus folk were riled up. The fortune teller threw her crystal ball at me and it was raining midgets with flick blade knives as they were being fired out of the cannon. The strong man tried to chase me, you know the type, looks buff but those chicken legs can’t carry the weight of all those steroids, he collapsed in a wheezing heap. The circus master had lost it completely, he was blasting norms who crossed his path with a Schmeisser submachine gun. Showbiz just isn’t for some people.

I snuck into the main tent, it was quiet there, I needed to catch my breath. Next thing I know I am flying through the air whilst being punched and kicked. Damn. Damn. Damn. I had forgotten about the conjoined trapeze triplets The Damn Busters. It was like being pummelled by a human spider. Bounced and booted, I was getting a battering. Luckily an elephant careered into the tent. It was being ridden by the Angry Dwarf, he was chasing down the midgets, literally stamping them out. The elephant broke the main pole and we fell onto a trampoline and boinged into the gorilla enclosure.

This was a problem. Gus the Gorilla had vowed to punch me so hard that my face would turn into an omelette. It was personal, oh yes. I had rinsed Gus in a poker game and he found out later I had been cheating. Gus yawned lazily. There was nothing lazy about him, he did at least one thousand press ups a day. The triplets skedaddled. It was just me and Gus. He ambled over with a box and opened it. It was a chess board. Turned out he wanted to beat me intellectually not physically. He told me it was about breaking down stereotypes. He had been reading a lot of psychology books recently. Gus was a pro at speed chess, he beat me fair and square. I stood up, uttered a well done and went to the enclosure gate. It was unlocked. Gus could leave any time he wanted. Two zebras hoofed past. Someone had spray-painted them like rainbows, probably the clowns. I looked back at Gus, he had lit a cigar and was puffing contentedly. Gorillas were so obtuse.

The strong man and the triplets had teamed up against some of the clowns; arms, legs, over-sized shoes and squeaky noses were flying all over the place. I need a vantage point I could defend. I kept to the edge of the tents and trailers. I picked up a claw hammer and felt a bit safer after a few practice swings with it. I could hear an unusual noise, it seemed to be getting closer, I was trying to work out what it was when I was suddenly stabbed in the leg by the Angry Dwarf. I hit him with the claw hammer and he flew through the air and into a lion’s mouth.

I made it into the hall of mirrors. It seemed like a good idea because I would be able to see if anyone came in. I quickly changed my mind. One by one, a clown appeared in each mirror. Holy shit! A maniacal need to survive surged through me, it was hammer time! I couldn’t hear anything apart from their laughing and breaking glass. When it was over, I was panting, all the mirrors had been smashed. I was alone but I could still hear their laughter. I picked up a mirror shard and looked at the reflection…I was staring at a laughing clown.

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.

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…