Thursday, 25 March 2010

Pelvic Floored - FridayFlash

I cuddled up in the marital bed with a ciggy and my new book for some warmth and understanding. Just trying to reclaim some time for myself. To stretch out a little piece of night and smooth out the wrinkles of day. But my corporeal gristle has long since lost its elasticity ...

I was awakened by the familiar aubade from the room next door. But a yet more pressing stimulation, was the driving ache just beneath my shoulder blade. “I’ll be in in a minute Amy”. Valueless to a pre-lingual. “Mummy’s coming” Just perverse.

I groped for the novel that had become furled in the bedsheets. I bent an arm beneath my spine arched for access. Pain spasm. The throb of my shoulder now swamped by the mushrooming cloud of electro-chemical payload, radiating from the ground zero of my canted back. Click-click went the pain geiger counter in my head. Ack-ack came the less than transcendent neuronal response. And all the while, I seemed insensate to the stream of refugee signals emanating from that numbed tributary of the pinned arm, propping up my entire lumpy weight into the contortion. I don’t seem very connected up this morning. Except through a network of pain knitting me together. Oh, and my alarm-clock only reads five-seventeen am. Morning has broken me ...

Sure enough, there it was, my late-night abscondee. With several pages fed back at the edge into an earlier part of the story, shredding narrative flow. The contents less imprinted on my mind, rather now informing the sinew of my back. A feedback loop. Book-suffering-book-pain-book. Silently screaming, ‘Leave this nightmarish scenario! Get yourself out!’ “Coming Darling. Mummy’s coming in right now”. There’s your loop for you. A perfectly enclosed system. A vicious/virtuous circle. With the creased pages, the book no longer sat flush when closed. Feedback becomes distortion, when you’re plugged into someone else’s amplified instincts.

Feedback as the principle of engagement. Each child’s cry, a blip on the radarscope of parenting. The calculus of neglect. How many blips before targeting your response exactly right? Too few or too many, either proffers a lifetime of depth charged unforgiveness. But first, there is a mewling infant to attend to.


Thus does literature go the same way as needlepoint, am-dram and cycling. Replaced in my hormonal biochemistry by caffeine, nicotine and TV daydream.

My body shape has altered too. The mesomorphic legs of that cyclist peddling for all she’s worth, now distended to those of an endomorph.

On the plus side, having either to hoick about an exponentially growing child (or her exponentially regressing sister) in both arms; or performing a balancing act, bracing baby in one, while conducting some suddenly minutely calibrated task with the other, has toned my upper body.

However, my overall post-labour, stretched flesh-rather-than-muscle disposition, delineates a phenotype for me which could only be described as that of a fat blob. Regaled at the convenience store with “When’s it due?”, “Boy or girl?", until my blazing red eyes laser-guides their gaze down through the glass counter at Amy in the buggy.

I’m paunching above my weight.

Friday, 19 March 2010

White Elephant's Graveyard - Fridayflash

Bit different this week, I have steered clear of the usual word acuity and just gone for a story. A weird one, inspired by the pictures.

The Coyote trickster turned to whisper in the ear of Geronimo.

"They have taken our name in vain and given it to one of their birds who spit death".

"So? This is not new to my ears. Black Hawk of the Sauk tribe has been personally cursed forever in this vein".

"But now they have set these silver birds to roost on our sacred ancestral lands. They lay claim to it yet again, but this time they mock us in doing so".

"How so?"

"They bury their dead on top of our own".

The Coyote sunk to its haunches and offered its back to Geronimo. Still uncertain, he climbed on and threaded his arms round the beast's throat and held on to the creature's dewlap. The beast sprang back up and they set off on their journey.

Geronimo was agog at what he saw. Every type of metal bird it was possible to conceive of, laid out along the desert like the pebbles of a sand painting. Some had spilled their guts on to the sand, silver droppings too dull to catch the sun's rays.

"What is this place?"

"The soldiers call it the Bone Yard".

"But bones are not made of iron. Guns, rifles they are cut from metal".

The coyote brushed at its ear with its paw. It might have been take for the gesture of a shrug, only he proceeded to then tap the ground. Geronimo understood and lay with his ear pressed to the ground. There he could hear the true bones, of his people and the prey they hunted asleep in the desert sand. But beneath that even, the cries of older spirits. The bactrians and bison, wapiti and sloths lying so far down, no sandstorm could ever reveal them. They were protesting the weight pressing down on them. Talons and claws around their throats and gullets.

"They say they are Tomcats, Eagles, Hornets and Nightingales, but they are no creatures we recognise. They profane our resting place and they challenge your naming of things. They seek to usurp us all. To take our land once again. To strip us of our landmarks so we no longer know where we are".

And Geronimo was struck by a vestigial rage. The old warrior spirit was rising in him once again, in this desiccated land.

He rode on the ghost of his war steed and consulted Cochise. The latter told him of his time in captivity when the pale faces tried to instill in him the myths of their mortal god. He related a tale they told him of a tribe who marched around a city wall seven times playing their pipes of war and shouting, so that on the seventh tour the walls shattered and fell away to the ground.

"This is what we must strive for Goyaale".

"But metal is harder than flesh, bone and adobe walls".

"Indeed. We have to summon beyond the Apache world. I call for a global pow wow".

So medicine men communed with shamans. Shamans conjured necromancers. The voodoo men couldn't quite conceive that it was metal birds rather than dolls of men that were required. Smoke signals billowed around the underworld where their message could not be seen above ground. Cold corpses packed sweat lodges, while the drums sounded their sonorous call. Animal familiars and totems pricked up their ears. The spirit plane was alive with hubbub and intent. From Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq and Afghanistan came the dead. From Somalia, Grenada, a great host of spirits churned and writhed.

They beat their bloodied hands, their ectoplasmic stumps, against the soft earth, the arid desert sands, the stone-sowed plains. They pumped their upturned palms, shook balled fists and waved magic sticks. Their pent up energies bored through the foundations of mountains and hitched rides along river beds, so that no ordinary mortal had any sense of their uprising. They were whispering their incantations into the very rock as they sought to move at the pace of a grain of sand. Linking arms, fusing with the web of the rock, gradually they formed the most perfect of circular chains around the earth's belly pregnant with their fury.

And a great crackle of energy surged and charged around the veins of Mother earth. Electrifying her, she shuddered and held out her wrists, like a penitent or a suicide. But she kept drawing her arms up towards her own surface, disinterring her own resting place. As she broke clear into the daylight, it was clear that the Spider Grandmother actually had eight limbs and each was raking up the ground of the desert. The metal birds were shaking and quaking before her terrible grip, pulling up the desert floor like a rug that need beating for dust. The ground was shaking with just such a resonance, that the birds' own bodies started humming and cracking. She had set their song inside their own skeletons and they snapped and collapsed in on their own metal bones.

And when it was over, the air was still and silent once again. A gentle wind blew the sand to cover up the tracks, though the birds had their wings and guts plucked irreversibly from them. The man from Hollywood had encountered no trouble in journeying to keep his appointment. But as he surveyed the rental wares that were beyond repair, he just shook his head. "It ain't that kinda movie" he said, stubbing a cheroot out under his leather boot. "It's a patriotic one where we win". And he climbed back into his Jeep Cherokee.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Death Masking Love - Friday Flash

She brought the ends of her fingers to her mouth and moistened them in her warm saliva. The whorls of her prints glistened in the harsh light of the room, but it wasn't her own outlines she was interested in raising.

His hand lay outstretched in his sleep, palm exposed. She splayed out her fingers so as to graze each pad with his. To seal her contours with his and have his sear into hers. She would not allow that we are each born with our unique mark woven into our fingertips. The perfect match, seamless superimposition of one upon the other, must exist. Unfortunately, even in his sleep, his was too broad for her to span with her dainty little hand.

Undaunted, she caressed her index finger downwards and began to trail the creases and wrinkles across his palm. She wasn't a trained chiromanist, but maintained her own superstitious credo of the significance of the lines. The heart, the head, the life and the fate were all crucial concepts to her, just they didn't give up their runic braille quite as easily as the digital phrenologists claimed. Instead the lines were tiny windows into how sensitively a man used his fingers. Whether the ridges and folds suggested a tendency to a closed fist, a restlessly flexing tension; or a more open handed receptivity. The portents on this one were good.

Having criss-crossed his hand enough times to make him flinch it reflexively, she carried on down the exposed wrist. Veins and arteries picked out against his pale skin. The hair there so fine and blonde as to efface itself, unlike on the reverse side of the forearm where it flourished like jungle vines. But here, the red and blue lines stood out like a road map. The major trunk roads of pulsing blood and the minor tracks back to the heart. She knew that a wedding band was always worn on the fourth finger, because people believed it used to have a vein leading from there all the way to the love muscle. With this mish-mash of venous vermicelli in the wrist, she couldn't be sure how they could have traced it so limpidly.

There was always something too fragile suggested by the upturned wrist, too vulnerable, so she moved quickly on. She found herself at the elbow, and wondered at the change of topography. The permanent fold there raised a livid red scale. Yet here was the most symmetrical set of feature on the skin. Here you could witness the cellular architecture of the human body in all its intricacy. Tiny parallelograms, each with a facility to shrivel or stretch, to concertina and overlap their neighbour. The shuffling orchestration was simply divine. She licked the elbow with her tongue in appreciation. It tasted of interrelatedness.


When she woke up, he was gone. He hadn't even extinguished the overhead light, though it was morning and ribbons of light were streaming in through the blinds. Lashing her to the sheets. Seems like they weren't a good fit after all.

She stared at the indentation left in his pillow. The case rucked where it had cradled his head, bearing the sunken contours from the downward pressure. More wrinkles and creases, only this time turned inside out. Lacking for the supporting body they served. The vacated lines, the abandoned seams, having opened the quarry of her own body up the night before. The death mask of another potential relationship, pressed down with airless finality. Once, just once she yearned to wake up and find the smooth impression of a fully-drawn face still lying on the pillow next to hers. Not having to commit the features to her wistful memory, but to be able to revisit them afresh everyday, in the flesh.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

De-Terence #fridayflash

Terence found himself staring full flush at the navel of the colossus currently barring his admission into Club Eros. Beneath the surging silk shirt, he could see the man's effusions absconding from their pores, like the juices running free on a doner spit. The sour astringency - body odour tinctured with ammonia - emanating from the rolling flesh scarp, threatened to anaesthetise Terence.

He was unable to gaze up into the face, seeing as it was atop a trunk so vertiginous, as to be actually nestling within the vermillion 'Eros' awning. A bulbous skull, shielded within an elongated lampshade. The leviathan had acquired the perfect defence mechanism – since Terence could not credit this as being purely genetic – interjecting a huge expanse of belly flesh to render his head out of range of any cuffed fist. No matter the tale of the tape on one's reach, with Terence a mere featherweight, borderline lightweight at best. It would be like trying to bop a giraffe on the end of its snout.

He briefly weighed up a wallop to the beast's solar plexus, only it too was eclipsed by the stellar amount of flab. A rabbit punch to the kidneys also only seemed to hold out a facetious adult version of pin the tail on the donkey. Wherever Terence might opt to strike, he feared that the blow would be cushioned by the cocoon swaddling of sebaceous flesh. Moreover, not solely this disarmament, but that his hand would be instantly encased and stuck fast within unseen folds. Untold bodily secretions might then set to work dissolving the flesh of those knuckles faster than you could say "Ebola Gay".

The behemoth cracked his knuckles. Its lingering snap resounded even over the thumping report from the dancefloor beyond the closed door. The weird thing was, the monster hadn't actually flexed his digits in order to do so. Terence concluded that they might be too pudgy to enable the pugilist to form a fully rendered fist, four fingers tightly curled together, thumb locking them in place like an iron bar. There again, he may not actually have need to, since the heel of that massive hand had a greater surface area than Terence's entire face. Simple enough to have his aquiline nose driven up into the brain and therefore clinch non-entry on a permanent basis. In the light of a Bouncer's discretionary powers, Terence's own discretion was definitely the greater part of valour. Terence stepped back from the sash rope's effete apartheid. In order to regain the illumination of the neon streetlights, he had to move a half-block away from this man mountain's penumbral kill zone.

This flurry of diffuse thoughts coagulating around violence, was a far cry from Terence's former demeanour. Halcyon student demo days protesting the bomb, grappling with Policemen (before both files settled for filming each other's ranks and taking it to judicial review for violated rights). How the deterrent argument always struck him as false, since it would only take a single happenstance to disprove the theory. In which event all folk would be long past caring, gripped in seeing their skin shed itself and absorbed with blood bubbling through every gash of self.

The pity of this youthful earnestness being, that Terence was aligned against Thanatos. Rather than partying with Eros through coming to Clubs like this, as he seeks to do now in making up for lost time and failing rather spectacularly it has to be said. The irony not lost on him, seeing how he was now faced with a perfect exemplar of the deterrent argument. The furrowed brow of a no win situation clearly incised all over the man’s signet rings and gold sovereigns. Terence was finally going to be forced to concede the argument and that his years of student protest and pacifism had led him up life’s garden path. There hadn't been that one instance of a nuclear bomb being loosed off. But he had embodied a slow radioactive poisoning of his paltry half-life all the same.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Visual Literature

Only through the acuity of a blade had he been able finally to determine the precise dimensions of his loneliness. To plot the abscissa of his despair.