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Tag: 2015


I got a goddam story for you: some real witching hour claw-your-door-down shit; something to put blood beneath your fingernails and battery acid in your veins. I can’t tell it though, because as soon as I do, it disappears in transmission; poof, gone: nobody on the line except a storm of white noise. All the monsters of my imagination are nothing but pencil scratches, and a smacking of lips and teeth. Paper tiger, meet scissors.

Lemme try, for propriety’s sake.

Boy goes out into a field. All the corn is burnt, and still smoking. Heat makes the air shimmy and shake cha cha cha. He’s sweating. There once was a scarecrow in the field, but now there’s a man. He’s burnt, still smoking. He’s making noises, because there weren’t much else he could do – not voluntary shouts or anything, just a dying vocal ooze drooling out from between his lips going like-a hnnnnnnnssss, hhhhhhhffffff like one of them kids whose throat muscles don’t work right.

The man is important to the boy. I forget the details: dad, big brother, uncle? Don’t matter. There’s a kid who can’t handle it, and nobody left in his life to share the load. The last man who gave a shit is now a strip of crispy barbecue chicken. There’s ligature marks on his arms, his ankles, his throat; they’ve left queer little tan-lines where the rope kept the fire off him for just a little longer.

Boy’s crying, because that’s what weak little boys do. Boys ain’t been taught to hide from their feelings.

Dad’s body on the scarecrow’s old perch: smells like pork. Makes the boy’s mouth water, which only makes him cry harder; that little detail is gonna keep him up at night for the rest of his life.

Dad’s got his arms spread like Christ on the cross, except he ain’t ever coming back. His hair is burnt away. There’s something carved into his chest, but the boy can’t bring himself to read the words. He knows what they are: knows his family were never welcome around these parts.

“Dad dad dad daddy please dad dad dad,” he’s saying while the tears choke him up and make the sound come out harsh and low – almost a man’s voice. He’ll be tasting salt for days. He knows what it smells like when they burn a man alive, and he’ll be tasting that in the deep asshole of night for the rest of his life. He turns, and runs, and don’t stop running. Not for a day, nor a week – he don’t ever stop running, but he never outruns the smell of smoke.

“Dad,” he’s saying blah blah etc etc. You know, I think he mighta been an uncle? Doesn’t matter, mate. Doesn’t matter. It’s all –

It’s just a story, haha. It’s not real. I’m messing with you. Yeah.

Just a story; something to keep you up at night, so for once I won’t be alone.

why wise men die under open sky

She went under the earth without a sound. Funny that; how everybody is listening on the one day you’re least equipped to speak. Listening hard, as if you’re to open your eyes at any second, tell them they were wrong, and let the ache release its grip from their ribs and throats. On the day they buried her, not a sound was heard – not even birdsong.

Only, she didn’t die, as such. As a germ of her soul fell through the pine, it took into itself a mouthful of dirt, and another. Greedy, feasting on worms, bones and char as the world turned in the far-and-away. The part of her that left her body behind called itself Ophiadne; the snake woman, for she coiled and uncoiled around the roots of the world, choking or giving breath as she saw fit, drinking deeply of the souls that fell down through the cracks. With their joys and sorrows, she strove to fill the hole the silence had left behind.

From her came others, shat out and taken on forms of their own, to suckle at that monstrous teat, and fail to grow strong. There was Jula; the Empty, Sawat; the Cavernous, Egritta; the Blasphemy of Stars. All grand names, struggling in the shadow of the snake woman, feeding on the scraps she left behind until they were little bone twists topped with gasping mouths, ribboned with their many grasping hands, staring eyeless and screaming tongueless against the tyranny of the mud and stone.

All starved, but were denied death. The tendrils of their dreams twitched through the veil and into the dreams of mortals, who woke screaming about a wasteland of souls, and a baroness who ruled the roots of the tree of life. A painter woke one morning unable to paint, and took his hand in a fit of rage. A poet, truly lost for words, cut out his own tongue. There were more, but they matter no more than raindrops on dirt, run together in a shallow trickle of lost souls, a million deep. The draught of gods, or something like them. A draught of which there is no cup deep enough, nor will there ever be.

When they feed, the sky weeps openly, as if a great flood could wash them away. If you would die in the rain, hold on. There are things worse than death, as Ophiadne herself learnt so long ago.

The Vigilant

Orpheus lacked backbone. He turned back and in doing so, committed the great sin: doubt. He was the original sucker, from whom every lost love is descended. The ur-loser, whose statue in the hall of heroes is made of cardboard and gaffer tape. Eurydice was behind him the whole time, but he doubted her and he paid for it. You told me his story while we lay naked in a field where yellow flowers grew in ragged rows. They pierced the evening mist with their colour alone: little lamps to light the way home.

We were very drunk and very happy. The farmer was neither when he found us, and we learnt new ways to run. I almost twisted my ankle in a rabbit hole when I turned to check on you. Judging from the farmer’s shouts, he got about five seconds away from giving me both barrels. I doubted you, and the hammer of god tried to knock a shotgun shell full of rocksalt right up my asshole. You grabbed my arm on the way past and dragged me with you, always surging forward.

We laughed about it later. I took one thing away from that day:

Never turn back, never give up: doubt is for suckers

It came and went so fast: the cancer, among other things. You wanted to be fired out of a cannon but we couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t abandon the principle of the thing, so I had you cremated, stuck the ashes into a firework, then snuck back out to the field-where-we-lay and lit the fuse. Yellow sparks, of course. They stole the sky for you, and lit the way home. Your ash rained down over the field, nourishing the flowers.

I came back a year later and they had grown huge, so I took one home. Planted it in a little plastic pot and left it outside the bedroom window to catch the sun. Not that it needed it: it was a little light of its own.

When that flower died I went back to the field and took two more, and planted them together in the yard. I figured something in the plastic killed the first, and a more natural solution might help. I watered the new flowers every day, but they died too. I took five more, and planted them at different spots around the house to see where the problem lay. They wilted; their lights went out.

That hasn’t stopped me. I doubted you once and nearly got my ass shot off for my sins. If there is anybody with the will who can give Death Itself the middle finger, it’s you. You’ve always been right behind me. You are my Eurydice, and I will not turn back.

I open the door every morning to get the paper, and you are not standing there waiting for me. It won’t stop me trying. I will not turn back. I have love, backbone, trowels and fertilizer. With filthy hands and sore eyes, I will leave you a trail of flowers to light the way home.