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.

Vigil

Static

Stasis

Human slug

Slimy grimy

Granite brain

Chipped and flinted

Whipped and minted

I hear sounds…

From their world…

Distant…

Discordant…

Disappearing…

My body is a headstone,

My bed the tomb,

A linen womb,

No rebirth,

No applause,

No sloe gin,

No slow win,

Slow breath,

Slow death.

Centrifugal roller coaster,

Squeezing out my thoughts,

Memories splatter into walls,

Volcanic rainbows erupting,

Invading, raiding, fading.

Ritual cleansing,

I will be a clean corpse,

Their ratchet smiles,

Their gritted furrows,

Their contrived compassion,

I can hear the unspoken words

Echoing in their minds…

Hurry up and die!

Gigolo

Tick, tock, tick tock,

Pocket watch snare,

Timely seduction,

A glance, a stare,

A smile, so rare,

Lizard lounger,

Purse scrounger,

I can weave stories

Into your hair and dreams,

Amidst the city of wilderness

I can be your lagoon,

Tether your hopes to me,

Slave to your happiness,

For a price,

I’m not cheap.

Cadence of operatic voices,

Enunciation of Elizabethan poetry,

Erotic pop of a champagne cork,

Fizzing bubbles jostle for attention,

An aphrodisiac’s palate,

Feed on me,

For a price.

Take a leap on me,

Buy into my glossy lie,

Caress my bare thigh,

Velvety lovers silky slink,

Slip flip glide slide,

Gasp gasp gasp

For our future.

I will love you forever,

My love is as great

As your bank balance.

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.

 

Evolution

Ughhhh…

That was the sound that introduced Barry the T-Rex to the day.

Ughhhh…

There it was again!

Ughhhh…Barry realised it was him making the noise.

He had a banging headache. Where the hell was he? What happened last night? They had gone down the local for a few jars of swamp beer and their monthly darts tournament. None of them could actually play darts. T-Rex arms just weren’t designed for throwing things. It was just an excuse to get a night out of the cave away from the missus.

Barry had married Ramona many moons ago. It had been love at first sight. She had been chasing a sabre-toothed tiger, he a Neanderthal. They had crashed into each other. They swapped their kills. That was their first date. They decided to move in together. Barry found a cave which needed a bit of work but it meant they could be together.

The first year went by so fast. They roared together by waterfalls, watched a volcano erupt and laughed when Tony the Troodon fell into the lava because of a dare. Good times.

On their first anniversary, Barry gave Ramona a necklace made out of Neanderthal bones. She loved it. Ramona had taken up art classes and did a fantastic etching on the cave wall of Barry killing a whole village of Neanderthals as her present to him. They were happy.

Then things changed. Ramona was forever asking Barry to move rocks or logs around the cave so she could find the Zen point of their home. Huh? Barry’s first thought was that Zen was another dinosaur. Turned out Ramona had subscribed to Diana the Dracorex’s monthly interior design updates. The cave was littered with stone tablets replete with Diana’s scratched sketches. Ramona adored Diana. The dino surgeon, Ludwig the Albertosaurus, had given her a facelift; her scales shone brighter than any of the others. Ramona had come home one afternoon with painted pink claws and dark eyeliner on…what was that about?

You have to work at relationships. Barry understood that but Ramona was not the T-Rex he married. It was getting to the point that no sooner had he sat down on his favourite rock to read the Saurus Sports tablet then Ramona was looking over his shoulder…nag, nag, nag. Then, Ramona had tried to block Barry’s night out with the boys. She had ordered some new rocks from another valley and surprise, surprise, the Diplodocus courier service Yodel was late. Barry snapped, screeched at her and stomped out of the cave.

Some would say what happened after that was written in stone.

Barry met up his T-Rex buddies, Ralph and Monty. They had all grown up near the same tar pit. They were all up for a mad one and egged each other on. They knocked back the swamp beer at the Primordial Lagoon. And after one too many amber shots, they finally managed to make Freddie lose it. Freddie was a permanent fixture at the Primordial, he liked to sit in the same grove and enjoy his swamp beer quietly. The T-Rexes never called Freddie by his name. They always referred to him by his dinosaur name. They knew it annoyed him. Except on this night, the T-Rexes were so MC Hammered they kept shouting it over and over again: Fukuisaurus! Fukuisaurus! Fukuisaurus!

Freddie threw a log at them and the mood turned ugly. It was going to get bloody. The Primordial’s bouncer stepped in, Spencer the Spinosaurus, and told them to go. After being barred for yelling, “Spencer’s mum was a Skankosaurus”, the T-Rexes headed further into the valley. They stopped by Steggy the Stegosaurus’s takeaway grove, he had freshly barbecued Neanderthal on his spikes. Tasty! Ramona had been telling Barry he needed to lose weight recently. There were only so many salads Barry could eat, he was a carnivore, nothing could beat the taste of freshly ripped flesh. While they were munching their Neanderthal kebabs, a shifty looking Rugops edged over to them.

“Hey guys, having a good night? It can get better. Tear off some Neanderthal for me and we can talk shop.”

Barry would have liked to have blamed the other two for leading him astray but he was intrigued. He threw the Rugops an arm.

“Nice one, cuz. Check this out while I snack.”

The Rugops pushed over a stone tablet. The detail was amazing. The T-Rexes were looking at a sexy Gigantosaurus wearing a wig and dressed in a mini skirt. They were all drooling.

Monty spoke for them all, “I haven’t felt this hot since I accidentally stepped in some lava!”

“I’ve always said T-Rexes get a bad rap because you pretty much kill everything but you seem like nice guys. Get me three large mica rocks and I can lead you her cave. It’s very discrete. Carla is a burlesque dancer and she is a whiz with a feather boa. It’s not at all pervy, it’s art.”

Barry thought to himself, Ramona is always going on about how I should be more cultured, this counts, surely? They had to mica up first though.

The mica quarry was guarded by an angry Allosaurus called Alan. The T-Rexes disguised themselves with masks made of palm leaves then pushed Alan into the river. They handed over the mica to the Rugops. Pre-drinks before the show…the boys chugged the Jagers down. After that Barry could not remember anything.

He slowly made his way back to his matrimonial cave. On the way, he saw Monty being bashed in the face with a rock by his wife, Regina. He didn’t need to see Ralph, he could hear Cindy screeching at him from two valleys away. Ramona was stood at the entrance to the cave with her arms crossed, he could see the rage in her eyes, Barry was scared. He kind of wished a meteor would hit the valley, anything to save him from his wife!

Journey

The train shuddered to a halt. It had been a long journey. The platform was packed. Jack remained seated, he was scared. Jean was the only thing that had kept him going – a beacon of hope amidst the darkness of war. He had survived so they could be together.

He grasped his duffle bag and stepped down onto the platform. Families, friends and lovers were embracing and crying because their loved ones had been returned to them.

Jack was used to tears of despair, hysteria and fear. The tumultuous noise unnerved him. He strained his neck to peer over the melee, where was she?

The train tooted and chugged away. The crowd gradually thinned until Jack was the only one left. His smile had faded. He was alone. Again. He sat down on a wooden bench.

“She will come for me.”

Saying it helped him believe it, helped keep the fear at bay. The day faded into night and a chill pervaded the air. He had managed to scrape together enough money to wear a half-decent suit and tie. He wanted to forget about being a soldier, he wanted to be Jean’s husband. His remaining money had gone towards a ring which was nestled in his pocket.

A slight noise made Jack look up. A small dog had wandered onto the platform. The dog and Jack stared at each other. The dog growled at Jack and walked off. Jack put his head in his hands. He had tried to bury the horror deep down so Jean would never see it reflected in his eyes but she was not here and he could feel it welling up inside of him. The tears for the dead, tears for those he had killed. He had not considered a scenario without Jean lighting his path.

He felt a hand run through his hair and glanced up, hardly daring to believe…it was his angel.