Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Horace in a Vacuum

Here’s something with a view to something. Borne of eighteen minutes spent at a window, it begins like this, with a tap filling a bathtub and a radio on, and it ends like this. Somewhere in the middle I’m curled asleep, letters spilling from my nightstand and a projection on the inner curve of my forehead. Elsewhere my phone's blinking, nothing like a guillotine's blade. There's something on if you wanna go, it said, if you can be at the station around seven. Yeah, I guess so, but at the time I wasn't sure I was willing to forsake an evening of not being at the station around seven. I put my arms in my jacket.

It had been raining. I slipped three of the buttons on my jacket into three slits on the other side, assuming this was what the buttons and slits were for (nothing on the jacket told me so), and pushed on for a further six minutes. It was short of around seven when I stepped onto the station and the owner of the voice on the phone was already there, dressed tidily in jeans, belt, T-shirt and a jacket of his own. It was less clothes than would be necessary to keep satisfactorily warm, perhaps why there was no warmth in his smile when he saw me. We boarded the second carriage and sat opposite one another by a window on the far side. I noticed he had a crumb or a loose bit of skin on his lower lip which remained even as he yawned.

I recall being asked, twice, what I did. I recall a small woman and a smaller man seated around a kitchen table with me, the guy from the previous paragraph, and someone else. Nothing else bears repeating, except that we were drinking something from a bag that I can still taste as I climb into bed. A radio drawing from an outlet set in a skirting board is discussing a film I have no inclination to see and even less inclination to hear discussed. It's distracting me from the water coming in under the door.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Amity and I

This happened. Ben or I arranged it, the overcast afternoon, some neutral location, other details like an order of hot chocolate and a short, plump black. Seeing him again was only a brief novelty, a novellaty, if you will. He appeared unchanged, despite remnants of Japan on his trousers. Not knowing what else to do, and neither of us being versed in the thing to do in any situation, we shook one another for most of a minute. The pitiable silence continued as we seated ourselves and began peeling the outers of our oranges. I had imagined he might ask me why I had not initiated any contact despite his having been back for the better part of half a month. But my imagination had clearly been thinking of someone else.

He removed his smirk-brimmed hat and I noticed that more of his hair had scarpered, perhaps on the flyover. I pictured strands bobbing freely in whichever oceans separate the two countries. It had been thirteen minutes and my gloomy forecast of the night before proved on the mark. Gone was whatever rapport we had managed when we we were regulars of one another's company. Now we got on famously; I was the press. I found myself asking him of his experiences without any sense of anticipation, and then switching the answers off like television. He, for his part, appeared to be enduring the occasion as if it were thankless labour. Thirty-nine. Our ridiculous orange juice faces did little to diminish the moment of melancholy in which we realised we no longer had a reason to ever see the other again.

Remember that time, I said, attempting to rekindle something, when we were together, laughing about something, can't remember now what, but I remember it being funny as hell, and we were building off something, you know, back and forth, like a meme type thing but in real life, like it used to be, and it was night time, I remember that, possibly in Brunswick, and you said, what was it, one of those darkly funny things you used to say, and someone else was there, can't remember who, but they were just perplexed by the two of us, you know, 'cause it probably seemed severely handicapped what we were saying, without any context, and also 'cause it was us and we didn't make sense at the best of times, but we kept going, unrelenting, zero exposition, and I retched into a JB bag. Ben smiled and looked at me almost fondly. No, he said.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blister

Before this one, two-one-two, I'll permit an up-front, that while this is appropriate fantasea it is tonally faithful to the very real events from which it has been derived, certain beyond inspiration, and must be read in that light, in light of that. While doing so, also remember, or bear in mind, or remember, that my intent is not to glossy up or paper over or make interesting-to-read. This will be the cold minimum, only what is afforded by my recollective power only. Read it low and let its aubergine form heat too long and come up between your fingers; it is not an accident; it is how it is supposed to be. (Continued below.)

Having affectedly stumbled here not quite a year on, in real-ty over that, much mossy embarrassment lingered, and only cleared once I had convinced myself of an untruth, that the culprit suffered youthful swollen fingers. It's cool, or nearer lukewarm, to proclaim No regrets, but I kinda regret that one, and that paragraph from that one, and commentary, never posts, that hint at life on the outside. I'm fortunate however to have possessed the good sense to have removed this March's sexual outpouring ex post facto, meaning, so far, this is all of the year. My prior self, uncucumbered by private health insurance and fatting taxis, will consider that fact with revulsion. And both would feel candles aren't right.

Instead I felt like sinking into a wet bath. But wetting oneself is almost never the answer. I owe knowing that to my Russian Answers Tree. My alternative, diving into sawdust, proved not to be the answer neither. It was one of those situations the awfulness of which infiltrates all methods of dealing with it excepting those which really one does not expect to deal with it, Percy, but would simply rather do at the time, as the above two. And in the end my way of actually dealing with it which I've been sharing with you is childbed and wretched but here goes.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What Comes After

One on a finger, feeling lowly, writing like I mean it: I wrote the word beauty. The U was missing. Tensely spinning from the inner lane, and coughing, some of all of the labels failed to take interest, or feigned not having any, not sure which of which is worse. By beauty I meant this:—When, in the course of entering the room, he turned his head, and mine, I noticed the pocks about his face, and how they lent the whole something. Strange--hadn't thought much previously about it. But then it all seemed very deliberately sculpted, not yer usual scattershot craters. The moment went on forever, though it didn't actually (I had to escape it to write this up). It zigged and zagged and danced like a ball of electricity.

Something red, then green, then red woke me, some hours after. I pegged the lace blind. Outside it was [weather event]. and therefore unsettling. Alone but for the other people in the room, I picked myself up — I had been carelessly strewn about the room the night before — and made myself go to the kitchen, where I ended up, having succeeded. The near-definition of beauty, outlined above, and befitting both spellings, further solidified in my estimation as I watched its incarnation drape banana peels, imprecisely erotic, across its face, and dog down a fat American breakfast. I wasn't yet able to observe noiselessly, and the ensuing sound was embarrassing for all concerned. Feeling wholly holy, basted by sunlight, lips crackling with scabs, stretching partially, some of all of me made it away from temptation.

It was, to a small and slight extent, a revelation of colour. Once a monochrome rainbow drooped mechanistically from the clouds; now contrast. My eyes peeled back, as they don't usually do, and it took several hours for me to be persuaded, by the undiminished spectacle, that I had not been drugged, or had something comparable done to me, or that I was not simply in the midst of a fever dream. It turned out neither was true but the last. The heat and doona had done a number on me, or a number of numbers across the night. Everything was as was; outside was mute; the walls were the colour of dolour.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Eerie the Practice

It's taken time, much of it, but I've finally woken up to my awfulness. Part of me, whatever accounts for my depth, is glad to have arrived at this point, the rest of me, abdomen and otherwise, preferred ignorance. Fitting it should happen in a hotel, with sun (streaming) and radio (blaring). When the call was patched through I was escaping through all parts of my dressing gown and not yet upright.

"It's happened," said someone in my voice.
"Hm?" replied.
"You know when you get to that point of your life when you get to that point in your life?"
He stared, maybe blinked.
"It hasn't happened to you?"
"No, I'm fat with contentment," he said, maybe shrugging.
"Well, it's happened to me." I looked down and waited.
"I feel I should offer to do something."
"Thank you."
And barely anything else was said. (For the record, there was an exchange of Goodbyes and something about it being nice to catch up.)

So I went home with it, no danger of its escaping. There, from an absence of onion, the thinner half of a carrot, two tomatoes, one large unwashed potato, two eggs, spices and cheese I fashioned a not completely inedible success.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fellows' Bounce

In greater designs the foundation upon which all else and otherwise pivots is never so inextricable as in designs of a peculiarly organic nature, that is designs whose executions are gradual to the point of near-impercitability, and whose final appearances seem willfully to obscure their origins. In such cases as these, (of which there is an easy abundance), the question of design is only arrived at after inspired deliberation, and only unravelled after longer periods of picking-apart — hence requiring extremes of eloquence to move beyond the originating, uniquely thinking vessel. The expansive needs, therefore, of this theory where scarcely, if at all, met, and it has taken only the slow dawning of generations to facilitate its arrival as something broadly palatable to the collective intellect.

Never ones for populism, the stepping-stone individuals, insulated by peers, resisted any expansion, passing their papers in hushes and glances. But no matter how careful or secretive they were, rumours bred and circled, and soon it was decided that a coming-out-with-it would be less damaging. At first, this was in the form of succeeding hints, then, finally, a four-hour breakdown with a rapidly traded mic and an overwhelmed moderator. They began and ended on a note of deflation, that rose above the crowd as if caught and sunk again lengthwise. The reaction was surprise. Quills danced and the intake was deafening. Six hundred people would be dead before the year was out, all from unrelated conditions.

One of its legacies has never fully resolved itself. Before of which moments prior were tied to some loose philosophy of doubt, even a triumphed one, now selections had been drawn and cast just barely over without any of the and spilling that once had been understood to be in line with a feeling about which much which had that was previously before neither of the beliefs were tying over the not included feelings, feelings that were it nearly in time to believe that each had a feeling of that once before neither had included, some general overdrawn of thought pomposted wildly, and ruggedly in the middle distance.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Today More Than Ever

I know: not a sole representative of twelve trying months and months of trying. It is tempting to concede the shame has brought me here. But truth being what it is— This will no longer be a home for housekeeping. Theref., as you can plainly, the above is the final on the matter, more not to follow, not even where prefaced by anticipatory I knows. I shan’t even mention, even here, my no-longer contemporaries but one, as I have been no-longer, too, for long enough. That being said — if that counts as being said —, I would like to say, briefly, and with full knowledge of the resultant failures of every of its predecessors, that this sentence marks a henceforth of effort, if not (probably) profusion. And with that last of the keeping done, I’ll commence.

Firstly, no secondly, to the business of the day, of what happened within it. I was startled awake for the fifth consecutive time by birds in my loft. My only measure of defense against the recent heat wave had been to keep my windows up overnight. And now they were perched around the bowl that housed my breakfast, and bathing gaily in my coffee. It proved an appetite-sapping sensation of feathers, bird blobs and mysterious gluten-substitute, and I ditched at least half of it in favour of a dozen singles and a hastily whisked nog. My day looked up from there, at a sky with gouacher colours than I was used to.

I had walked over three kilometres, nearly five, to an ailing sibling, the dual victim of weather and parental conspiracy. It was nearing dark when I saw the gate. The company upon arrival was agreeably ingenuous, allowing me sufficient space to tend to the bedside. I thanked them each and together. Over the next four hours I wrote twenty-six letters on borrowed stationery. Completing the last one (Z), I folded up my piece of paper and failed to contain my pride.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Four Score and Seven Somethings

Quiet but for the steps up, austerely wooden and creaking their age, then the door itself, which scraped and squealed open. There was a film of dust on everything, including the man in the doorway. He looked as if he had been torn away from a life’s work, as if preparing to smash four impertinent kneecaps, but something inside him clicked and we were shown in. Silently we made our way past ancient assortments of study and long-since-inspiring busts, my companion unable to keep his eyebrows a respectable distance from his hairline. Then a small back-office, where we were beckoned faintly to sit. Which we did.

"It's, ahem, nice to see you," said the proprietor, pronouncing the throat-clear rather than bothering to affect it.
"I suppose it must be," said Ben.
"You too," I said.
He shifted slightly.
"My daughters have told me all about you."
"Lies!" said Ben, attempting to perfect the moment with a friendly punch on the arm but connecting instead with a none-too-pleased left breast.
"Quite," was (looking down) all he could manage, Ben sheepishly withdrawing as he did so.
"You too," I said.

...

"So what is it you do?"
"Well," began Ben, "there's absolutely everything to be said for not working."
The man failed to conceal his wince.
"We've attended several promising interviews," I added.
“You’re—” he started, the rest of the sentence catching in his throat. He composed himself. “You’re— not employed?”
“Unemployed, in fact,” said Ben, enjoying himself.
I smiled weakly. “Between engagements.”
“I see.” The man took four slow, seething breaths. “And you expect me to give you my blessing, to give over my daughters to— the unemployed?”
“It’s the bride’s parents who foot the bill, is it not?”
It was always difficult being tactful with Ben about.
“Excuse me?”
“Traditionally, at least,” said Ben. “And my friend and I are nothing if not traditional.”
“And what about after that?”
“Hm?”
“How will you support them after the wedding?”
“By then we’ll have finished our novels,” said Ben.
Novels?”
“I’ve already deleted eighty pages. Can’t be far off now.”
By this time he had his chair turned completely away from us, staring down the wall for want of a window.
“Plot?” he asked, though the question mark was barely audible.
“Man wakes up one morning and suddenly realises life is cold and empty.”
“That’s a premise," he snapped. "What else happens?”
“Well, he walks about a bit, meets a few chaps, has a scrape or two. But he ends up not having changed his mind about it.”
“Good God.”
“Yours was about spies or something, wasn’t it, Hugh?”
“No. I’m not quite up to the part where you come up with a plot yet.”
“No? Which part, then?"
“Violent self-doubt.”

He shut down at that point. We were both experts at provocation but it was as if he had willed his heart to cease. Nothing would awaken inside him again.

We went home and had sex with our girlfriends.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Interest of All, Needs at a Heart, Pillows, Fingers, Outrage!

Some semi-fragile thing, peering out across the moops. I was doing my best in my best suit, covered mostly, but sick-feeling. The scene converged and I fell into another bosom. I beg your!— something like that. Hell, maybe it was Yours. But my tongue don't go backwards too well, seems almost designed that way, and she near lost her lung in bloody murder. In need of a pick-up, I muscled the former (self-appointed) DJ off the decks and slipped a disc of my own bringing. Somewhere amidst the phlegm and cheer a heart could be heard, and it spoke to me.

Perhaps partially alcohol, but the face upstairs is friendlier, homelier than you'd expect. And familiar like a stranger in a dream is. You don't expect to find it face-down, or in this state of bludgeon, yet I'm certain my eyes were correct. Light was overwhelming, backdrops were standard, everything had a dullness of purpose— I could barely hold on to being there and it didn't last. Its voice initially brought to mind lacking villains on science fiction television, artificial sonority and all, but a more palatable croon developed for the closer. I was compelled.

Further on, stumbling through the embers of the occasion, I found myself beside the wrong arm of the couch, with the hosts on the other, suddenly very interested in their watches. No music, less food. I mean to say, I'm not entirely blind to outstaying my welcome. I had a thought for them. I kissed, I danced and all was forgiven.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Stephen Malcolm Doughnut

I'm almost completely unsure what edification means, only that it means something. It's a similar way with almost everything else. You fumble to present something, something uncertain, and you're sick, and you can't look it. You can't barely look, just meekly wait and murmur not. Now, flushed of colour, he narrows his eyes, a once-over, then, dismissively, "Built for a computer at best", and continues on. My neighbour sneezes, unblessed.

Usually, I wait in a café, the same most times, and my man brings 'em to me. He shoves the good ones across the table and holds the others back until I summon them, probably hoping I won't. I don't this time because he's just standing there and I know what that means. I leave, saying nothing, and have one of those tiresome walks of the soul. The experience is one of rain and few people, nice in that way but short on revelation. I feel only the looming of the auction block.

Some drummer, barely in a suit, soundtracked my arrival. I sneered my displeasure and made for the stairs, already regretting my presence. Somehow it all came together in my speech, a certain fashionable cynicism mingling with smirking dopery. I had the lion's choice of indiscretion, but went home with a headache instead.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fifth Night

This might well be worth the words— A noise here awoke me. I poured myself out of bed, then poured myself out, sliding into the bath at the bottom of the shower. The bed had yellowed somewhat, roughly where I had been. I lit one-two-three-four... twenty-six candles. Briefly, I thought of mailing it — briefly. (Fortunately) sobered by popped coffee—

It's indistinguishable sometimes. Rather than bother, I prefer to accept that. Easier, I'm sure you'll agree, than wading through six hundred or so synonyms. Easier, too, than doing. It might seem deeply, abhorrently indolent — and there I won't dispute, but it does — or rather, must — have a grain of some such that can't be too far from truth.

What must be noted, what can not not be noted, is that when all is done, and nothing undone, the older-wiser wonder is wiser and fuller of wonder, and older. Where that begins, or ends, or— sorry, I suddenly have that song in mind: "Excuse, please, excuse, please, the rat, the rat, the rat on the keys." Seems appropriate somehow. Noted?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Among Statues

Having key moments of one's life reenacted by familiar-looking strangers is not something very many of us are afforded, however we might wish it. As such, the closest approximation I can manage is happening upon your doppelgänger at a bank robbery; the mere realisation that you haven't, in fact, misplaced your sanity is a struggle not easily resolved, and the guilt, unjustified though it may be, never quite leaves. It's hard, too, to avoid lapsing into solipsism at the secular wonder of it all — I won't say it's not flattering.

I admit I was a shade disappointed when I strolled through the facsimile. Everyone was either bored or on the verge of a migraine. An overweight man whom I supposed to be the director nodded faintly as I approached. No point easing into it.
"I object, foremost, to my being portrayed as infinitely more attractive than I ever was." He seemed only curious, so I continued. "At my peak I was an average mannequin with waste-bin hair, as similar to this magnetic fop as I was to a stretch of freeway. I can assure you I never turned a single head. But that crime I would be willing to overlook, if the opposite problem did not present itself with your heroine."
Perhaps it was unwise to engage him in earshot of all concerned, but it's hard to feel anything but indignant when you've been ejected by your own hack biographer. I should have noted immediately that a middle-aged man who thinks a baseball cap conceals baldness knows little about beauty, and not pressed the point.

And now I await the result. If bigger people exist, and they might well not, I'm sure they would be severely uninterested in the whole business (eschewing it in favour of, I don't know, being a c---), but — and I speak as something vaguely human — how could this not fascinate you? How could this horror not intrigue you?

Forgive my language, I was born into it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Winning Style

Speeding ahead on a cloud of hubris, the cynic some grand figure behind, I'm reminded of earlier times, times when such things almost almost mattered. When waving to affiliates shrunken by distance was the cap of your night. When searing referrals were waged across pages in glitter and pomp. Hell, when there was a sense of c— No. I can't say it. Now, blitzed and conquered by everything from inspiration to indolence, the greatest thrill is uncertain, hiding within whatever something we've yet to try. Which isn't to distract from my central thesis: you'll need several full-time subordinates, a glut of the very best luck and another century of technological advancement to catch me.

Bearing all that in mind, zaghafte Schritte have been taken towards Wiedergeburt. What they are will have to remain a secret for the time, but know that they have followable footprints — stuff you can touch. Forgive me, it's rather difficult to express some of this in English. Was ich meine ist, dass die überwiegende unterschwellige Erotik unter mir ist Anfang bis Blase an die Oberfläche, wie so viele Gerüche. Kissen zurück, die Arme gekreuzt, ich Entleerungsvorrichtung ein Ei. Endlich, endlich!

As I streak ever further, the beguiling but bested ant stretches out in the pool, commanding the calm. Bathers beside look on in envy at a swimming suit not bursting from the body beneath and a swimmer with infallible glide. The microorganism exits the water, augustly draped in a towel, and everything else is crude, undignified. I collapse in memory. Turning back: a speck, wearing the light in the eyes of others, and infinite dots.

Monday, March 30, 2009

More on This, Some on That

I've noticed a deficiency. Whenever I stroll long into the night, alone but for a thermos and a notepad, my mind resorts to the crudest of existentialisms, so much so that I soon find myself peeling back the blind and searching the visible stars for answers. I never quite fall to my knees and bellow something embarrassing, but it's an alarming development all the same. I can only pray this acne of the soul will fade. If not sorted out in one's prime, such philosophies tend to set with age, and before you know it, you're clutching a faded tome by Germany's second greatest megalomaniac and indirectly inciting your friends and family to murder you in your sleep.

Elsewhere I've been conducting an experiment in breakfasts. Instead of the usual cup of tea and crumpet, I've taken to fixing a stout bowl of porridge, sans any adornments. I haven't yet brought myself to eat it, mind you — I don't know if it's how I make it, but it always seems to resemble offcuts of wool dropped in milk and then forgotten about. My recent breakfasts have thus consisted of little more than my sneering at the bowl in front of me, my mouth only opening to gag. The experiment will only be valid if I actually consume the stuff, so for the moment I'll just have to do without. Such is the call to publish.

And now, of course, to the weather. Though at present I'm hardly what you'd call in it, I can sufficiently recall what it was like when I was, even if that isn't exactly an accurate reflection of how it's progressed since then. Actually, that's not true. I've just spent three days not noticing such things.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Peer Here

Every so often, one feels obliged to organise what is worst called a "catch-up", a sort of vague precautionary measure against seeming overly asocial. The key is not to be too transparent about the whole business. The café was perfect: an informal yet refined venue, for the accidental yet considerate host. I drained the last of my coffee and shivered. Ben, toying with the Hawaiian slice I'd bought for him, laughed and reached for his hot chocolate.
"Well, it beats a walk," conceded Harry, bubbling a pocket bong.
"Must you?" I said.
"I must."
I gave Ben a look but he seemed neither to condone nor condemn.
"How's everybody been?" I ventured.

The conversation greyed and died, eventually succumbing to the noxious blend of Ben's indifference and my tiresome routines. Propped by a seemingly infinite cache of anecdotes, Harry had ultimate power but was content to let it slide. I started again.
"Are you working on anything, Harry?"
"Yes!" he yelped, betraying much. "It's about this feisty young brunette, all sex-appeal and balls. Cute, but not glamorous, you know? She's strong, too, but not so you'd notice — like, she's got muscle, but no muscles. And despite her bust she's small, petite even, and she's got these horizontal-stripe socks."
"And?"
"And she's a bounty hunter." Harry looked around for approval and found only frowns. No less confident, he continued. "And get this, she's dead but she's been brought back to life by this voodoo spell, so she's got all these cool voodoo tattoos and shit — tomboyish but sexy."
"Right."
"And there are these cool skeleton guys who are after her for some reason. Evil motherfuckers, but cool. I might do a spin-off with them."
"Right."
"And the bounties, the people she kills — they fucking deserve it, man, let me tell you. Rapists, murderers, done all sorts of shit with kids, you wouldn't believe. She's a public servant, really."
"OK—"
"And you should see the shit she carries. Two mean fucking handguns, I'll tell you — steam-powered."
"Steam-powered?"
"Yeah! Fucking steam-punk guns! They've got this sort of hand-madey, ye-olde look, with like chips in the metal, and sometimes they jam."
"I—"
"I know! Imagine that! She's standing there, in the middle of the jungle, like twenty skeleton guys around her, and the gun fucking jams! What the fuck does she do?"
"Use the other one?" offered Ben.
"Well..." Harry thought a moment. "No! She'd already lost the other one somehow. It's just that one. And these guys are closing in. And let me tell you, if there's twenty guys you don't want closing in on you, it's these twenty motherfuckers."
"So what does she do?"
"That, my friend, is where the fun really begins."
"You mean all this time we were just bored?"
Harry looked at Ben, more perplexed than offended.
"Just wait 'til you hear this."
"I'll try," said Ben.
"Right, so, they're closing in, her gun's jammed, it's all looking hopeless. This is the end. But hang on... What's this in my backpack? My swords!"
"Swords?"
"Yeah! The ten she got from this rare Japanese guy, the only ten in the world."
"Ten?"
"Yeah! Now, I know what you're thinking — how does she fight with ten swords?"
"I was thinking more along the lines of why, but go on," interjected Ben.
"Well, it's simple," began Harry. "Voodoo. The same spell that brought her back to life has given her the power to wield ten blades at once. It's this ancient power, and it's gonna have a cool name, like Sword o' Ten Tails or something."
"Please never say that again," said Ben.
"And that's how she beats 'em, skeleton shish kebabs."

I waited a few minutes before asking Ben the same.
"I'd prefer it if you didn't call me Harry, but yes."
"Care to elaborate?"
"Not really."
"Another misanthropic tale of loss and loss?"
"More or less. And how about your lovely self?"
"Me? I'm too busy writing this to do anything."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Three-Eleven Crumbs

When something momentous crumbles (notice the etymological clue), more oft. than noft. the remainders lose much, if not all, of their former vitality, no matter how insistently or damn-well stubbornly they power on. Sometimes, however — sometimes the dwindlers, the individual smithereens, manage a spark that promises more than even antebellum can offer. Whether they deliver is another thing, but that small glint among the debris is so rare as to be priceless, or at least next to worthless. And it deserves its two-thirds-scale replica, complete with anachronistic mining machinery and exorbitant pricing. [For the record, the 11.32 smile continues into this secret.] Sometimes it's a cannon with a frog on top.

The above optimism owes some to timing: I'm poised before a stretch of mismatched pillows, mismatched feasts and field days, to mention nothing of the six discs of suppressed ardour that are lined up — and to mention nothing of the most important part. That last is somewhere in the ether at present, swallowing volatile logic. One hopes for a cameo. Meanwhile he makes another artefact, less direct, perhaps, but it amounts to much the same. Flying 'cross the desert in a TWA, I drop it square in the sand, for the fun of future -ologists. The present don't need it yet and I bump into a girl. [Some time past, rings creeping, I pour myself off to rest.]

Whether or not any of this manifests is academic, the spark is there. I won't yet utter the dreaded R-words, but with a certain month approaching it can't be far from my fingers. Shh, sit down. I'm just saying. Nothing more than a slightly sceptical nod at this point. Best not to plague the thing until it's more of a thing. And if it's not already clear— well, that's not likely to change. But I will say this.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

As Human

First, cross promotion. Before I go on, let me just verify that I do not mean to imply any anger there, either in me or the promotion itself, nor do I intend to refer you to any Christ-based religion or Easter bun giveaway. I clarify this because for twenty years of my life — the first twenty — I was under the assumption that the above term generally meant the reciprocating promoter was somewhat begrudging about the whole affair, as if he did not wish to receive any promotion in the first place. Each time I heard mention of it, I would instantly picture one of those greasy little people who do favours not out of the goodness of their hearts, but so as you can owe them something in return. Anyway, the thing.

I have been quite behind where promotion is concerned, mostly due to the deterioration of the affiliates ladder, which now* sits soulless and automated to your right. Back in the day it was a regular habit of mine to remind all those who'll listen of even the slightest alteration of order, a habit posterity was not at all keen about. Nonetheless it provided me with innumerable excuses for nattery and liberated me from the messy business of concocting something worthwhile. But, Alice, the Revolution, ironically designed to re-ignite the ladder, proved to be its downfall, with ambition finally toppling capability and woes creeping in to stifle the cheer.

So, to rectify matters, to give due to the deserving, I point you towards a somewhere that has, yes, pointed back in its time, but which rewards visits regardless. Besides, I'm sure by now you're used to my bias. It really is as simple as placing a four-pronged electronic back-massager somewhere on me, doing a few circles and waiting. Or rather, it was. The point is, it is again.

*At the time of.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dust, I Gather

A man loomed down on, I sat somewhere in the grass and pewter, where it struck: it's supposed to pour, isn't it? I had, a few moments prior, opened yet another prematurely, a picaresque epic of character and detail (blurb), and the mammoth feat of its creation indicated to me a degree, at least, of pouring, the fingers straggling behind the furiously forming mind, the author the vessel for some divine though necessarily agnostic message. Not quite Alone in the Café, but drawing the perfect line between one's mind and one's surroundings so as to drink in just enough of the latter to fuel the former. That is, the point before revelation becomes distraction.

Many a would-be would be shot through with renewed vigour were they to peek at a first draft of anything in the canon, says theory. But would not they also realise, in one terrible moment, that inspiration can never circumvent Hard Work? There the fun rushes from their face and the doubts creep solemnly in: a flash that proves fruitless is still only a flash; months, years, that's where you want to be damn sure going in. It's supposed to bloody pour— I canvased this to erstwhile author Ben and was treated to a little of his insides.
"Listen, man, you can't be thinking about that kind of thoughts. You just got to write. It's fact. People who think don't write."
"Yeah, that's good, man, I get ya, but that's like theory — not really. It's theoretics. You can say write, and you said it, and thank you, but what does it actually mean in practice?"
"No no, it's got to be real straight-off. You've got to be thinking 'This is it' all the time, you dig? Not thinking thinking, just 'This is it'."
"I see, I see. But I don't quite get what you're getting at."
"Write, plain and simple."
"Write plain and simple?"
"Yes! Put it on paper, punch it. Get it down. You got me?"
"I got you. I just don't know what you mean."
This went on for some time before we both finally agreed that the best thing to do was do.

Let's say a wave of energy whose momentum needs not the p-promise of pay or prestige to proceed. Returning, as if from a dream, the feeling-guilty translateur denies authorship and claims to be little more than a go-between; the craftsman who has fought for every word wants credit for every word, too. Is there something better betwixt the two? The K-to-the-A-to-the-Other-Five-Letters, though busy at an autoclave, did find an answer: "Maybe." And so I stayed, the truth in my heart and the weather on my face.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Happened Today

As a show of solidarity, I shall break, one time, from tradition, and speak to you from outside the bubble, desnudo. No jokes, no japes — no bloody sleeves. Tonight exclusive the gorge that divides us is bridged by hope and balsa, and we meet me in the middle. Good will, passed from his mouth to my fingers, shall prop us. Cynicism, that useless thing, will writhe unattended in the meanwhile, failing to be heard over cheers and smiles. Hm? Well, I didn't say anything about it being any clearer — part memory, and Harry will forgive the paraphrasing, but it's all in aid of the message. So let it ring.

It was one day at 5.30. The tide wandered and the sky put on a show. I sat accompanied. Tomorrow, such things will fade in the light of new hassles. So it's to be. One wonders how a girl's gonna sing all her songs when the world's gone wild, and then one wonders why one wonders that. But it's more or less plain: today's a something that won't likely repeat. It's a new world new again, and for the moment we'll care not if it goes backwards after this. Profound thoughts, about as profound as anybody's, sail neatly here, and seem for a moment the epiphany that precedes new happiness.

Sensibly footed, our heroine strolls through the celebration, sense and poise present as ever. Most have the wrong idea about what's being celebrated (please, that was months ago), but not she, the so-called, still-hot smoking gun nesting in her evidence drawer. She turns; the butterflies on itchy fabric, not pajama-like, are feared throughout the criminal world, and a car screams away. Later, in a dorm room, this:
"How do you put someone on a wolverine?" wondered Harry, when the record finished.
"It's probably Smart-Arse for something," I said.
His chin disappeared for a moment into the fat of his neck and I took it to be a nod.
"But that Datura idiot is a complete songwriting genius," he added elliptically. "Now I sleep."
And he began to. Seizing the moment, I wrote "1 Fat Australian — I fuck anything" on his bare back then retired alongside. His warmth was pleasing, in a bean-bag kind of way. But I wished to hell he was someone else.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Raw Pomp

Regard this, reader, as a warcry — admittedly inspired by laziness and worry, but fixed and full-throated nonetheless. Today I fly the flag of careless halves in the face of considered wholes. And to illustrate I tumble upwards to 3am, piling piece on piece and pomp on pomp, and leaving the job of sorting the resulting jumble not to the reader — I would never impose such a fruitless task upon those kind and loyal and peculiar enough to scan beneath the title — but to the universe. To hell with craft, he cries, thumping a weak paw on the contrived disorder of his desk; then, reciting the thinnest excuse of all, Life itself is a mess! Is it my/our job to sort existence and regurgitate it into a more intelligible — not to mention palatable — form, for those most afflicted by it, or am I simply to reflect it, to effectively say, Well, I don't know any more than you do, but it's a remarkable likeness, no?

My cry is a pose, of course, but a mess does have its virtues, even when the spectre of a tidier version casts its gloom. Time spent refining could be time spent making more messes. And it is certainly easier this way, if only for the smallest party. But stifled potential does emit a uniquely foul stench, and it can be hard to focus when you discern the need for a few more drafts. Too often the Good gets lost in the What Could Be.

The Art Should Be Fun contingent are ready with the desperate-sounding but grain-of-truth-holding excuse that any ambition to create order out of what we might loosely term 'All this' is itself a fallacy; at least we — or they — are honest about that. Accompanying this view is the contention that art (no doubt refined to 'true art' in the face of contradiction) is not merely an argument told funny, nor is it a soft essay for those especially allergic to academic propositions. The delicate of disposition might well prefer such an alternative, but Art, they argue (adding the capital as they move in for the clincher), transcends. Ask of an essay what could be; ask of art what is. But calling upon the verb 'Transcend' is Patron 101 for escaping the threat of close inspection; in a critical context 'Transcend' becomes little more than a fancy substitute for "It's good, but I can't quite tell you why", but it's spongey enough to scare off would-be contrarians. The better defence, that of questioning the approach and relevance of the study of the arts, is forgotten in the haze.

It is noble, I believe, to curtail the excess of displaced theory, but noble it is not to contemn study for style — style in surface, that is, not service: suspended like a conjurer's tart and sporting an impeccable sheen, but about as transcendent as the same magic trick explained in diagram (TR is for Trope, but let me slip here). It is a funny fact of life that the effort in waxing in one corner roughly equates to the effort in working in the other, and the truly great proponents spin both plates indivisibly, putting the former most to shame. But the question of capacity does enter the picture. Do those who stick to chroming know their limitations, or are they merely too afraid to discover them? Most, I'm sure, would rather not answer that.

The ASBF camp has returned, this time with "Art is respite; life is for rubbing your nose in it." But the unfortunate truth is that this formulation is itself the formulation of those who have never had their noses rubbed in anything. Just as you have to have money before you can have contempt for it, you have to have had a truly wet beak before you can claim art exists elsewhere, and even then too many exemptions will loose the proverbial tin of bait. A suitable tome might be entitled 'Whither Frivolity?', and divide post-Auschwitz authors into cowards and noble failures. But then a suitable tome might also be 'Life From Above', where the silliest sit atop the pantheon and the soft essayists scowl indignant — and untranscedent.

What are we left with? Not enough to justify the question mark, that's for surtain. The H in Auden ain't exactly up to defending this stance by example. But if we can't counter the stinging print on its own terms — and we can't —, we can at least call on our youth, where it remains, and tell 'em to fold it five ways and put it where the moon don't shine.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ben Ben B-Ben Ben Ben...

I'm afraid this time I'm out of jumpers. Up an' Adam, on the Eve of Ben, is now and henceforth fantasy; all I can do, short of gun-point, is make sure my own bucket's filled — and so be it if I molest his memory in the process. Just as there are seven basic stories — nine, if you count more — there are but two basic stunts, both of which have been pulled to completion, and neither of which worked all that well in the first place. The ever-capitalised He, therefore, shall exist only in quotes and misquotes; the horse's mouth is shut, froze by petulant peanut-butter. Sure, his Equus asinus part may be as proud and full-assed as ever, but where himspun wisdom is concerned, you've only my word.

I'll begin with some character references, this one from a thumbing rambler he once shared an onion sandwich with: "Friendly, in a blank sort of way, but not much of a sandwich-maker." His ex, meanwhile, was a little less kind, saying that while he possessed a formidable nubility, the effect of which a malleable woman could not rightly deny, he was also a scurrilous hug-monger with a penchant for loose discharge. "Apparently he found someone smaller than he is," gossiped a crouching snoop. "She's tiny." Ignoring him, I approached his second-best friend, Ollie, with whom he is second-best friends: "He's not a bad sort, really. Well, not always."

Being as this signifies a new approach, I've decided that, rather than quote the man anew, I should start by retrieving some favourites from the archive, a sort of accustoming exercise.
"Sometimes even existence itself is a bore, and on such occasions I find worming cherished pets the perfect antidote."
From Drills In Liquid, 2006.
"All right, girls, there's boffing in the offing!"
From Dicky Darwin, 2005.
"If there's one thing to be said for man, I haven't heard it."
From Pieces Of Other People, 2007.
And unless the man in question reinstates his pen, there shall be more of this.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Frog Light

Led by the dim glow of eggs on a post-it, I foot forward into the ink. What I outlined, by necessity, was the stage of divers moments, any of which would sink me by contrast were some oaf to flick the lights on. And somehow I'd rather sacrifice a toe or two. (For the books, I was twice stubbed, each foot, slight elation on the second.) I twisted the cold. The accompanying rush rang instantly familiar — I had not anticipated that. Second only to being there, I saw the figure hushed up against the sink, softly splashing while I washed my face in the doorway. One moment I was at I'm All Right, the next, I was beneath the water and the room was swathed in green. I prayed for a kind soul to press repeat.

Sally-Anne mislit her cigarette for the fourth time. Her face was everything strangers wanted: soft, sexy, lit. And she spoke with confidence, never doubling back. I followed her gazey features down her chest and feigned a smile. The lighter stuck somewhere in the bushes.
"Got a match?"
"Not this time," I said. Ha.
I began throwing bits of serviette at the back of her head as she nattered with a passing girlfriend. Most dropped short, but I got a couple of pleasing hits in. Whenever she turned to glare at me, I would simply start throwing them directly at her face. Best of all, I didn't even enjoy it. I used to, but then I used to enjoy hiding her marbles, too.

Next I sat backwards on my chair, peering over the brim like a child would. Each male passer-by I marked as my successor and glowered at. But I harboured not a thing; I only kept and held onto. Where weeping my gratitude was concerned, I was far from finished. Sally-Anne called my name sharply and I swung around. For once, she seemed to be looking at me for what I was. I had seen that look before — this time I encouraged it. Feeling the heat, I shifted. I was wearing the wrong T-shirt for this kind of weather, but it was the worst I could find.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Decline and Fall of a Showman's Empire

In diminishing paragraphs.

Some, no doubt, have already taken to grand proclamations of the "Death of—" ilk, emerging pale and preying from the shadows of no-talent; Ergo the failure33 of this petty revolt34 — for that is what History35 shall prove it to be — to achieve any of its initiatives36 is indicative of a greater— This, however, fails to take into account the inherent— until we're quite ready to spit ourselves clean of the matter and have those unfortunate words as the last ones. Aft. all, who's to dispute? Participants put-out, principle players played-out, and profusion off fanning itself in the shade. Add the pissed-off passers-by and you haven't a recipe for much success;— the revolution, my friend(s), is D-E-A-D (long live the revolution), and I suppose I shall have to bear the bulk of the brunt. (Lest you wonder, I suppose because my lofty predictions and assorted nonsenses are freely viewable, and shall remain so.)

Trope: from the past there is no reprieve. Right; why dwell, when something far worthier lowers itself into a late-night bath? Nonetheless, there may be remnants worth salvaging, one of which, also an R-E concept, I'm myself keen to keep in place, if less outwardly than before. (The image has proved more than a distraction; someone must have sculpted that thing!) If we, whomever that now entails, are to justify any of our idealistic exertions, we'd best hope to learn from our failings — and by that I do not mean 'know our boundaries'; boundaries should not and never be known. I mean, rather, that we should fuel future successes on past mistakes. Sure, a first-year might leave it out, focusing only on the direct lead-up to that great thing we'll do, but a third could not afford its omission, and would incur copious red pen were he-her to do so.

Even if no one has my back, even if I tumble down alone, I will tumble. (This thing ain't a ship, incidentally; it's a hill.) Grass cuts and cowards above me, I shall meet the new halfway and tumble again, bypassing once and foil the embarrassment of accidents. Stay, if you will, but I'm pressin' on. For the towel-headed harpies and clot-headed he-men. Momentum'll get me through if nothing else.

Monday, September 15, 2008

First-Hand, Kodak, Plump

How to tell— Crumbling revolts, denied permissions, margarine flowers (wilting in a champagne glass, as posy would have it); mouths of black dogs, two losses —the latter street-cred — and deadly dead-night silliness. Quite the mouthful and quite the emergence. One must ask: where oh where is that slender confectionery known most as Ben? The heart is so bloody fond by now it could fuck the chrome off him without even pausing to consider its sexual orientation. Ah, but what a wangless wonder here left in his place! An alien filling those trousers? I know, I know, but it's strewth; my own eyes and all that, spied from a bush, even double-took (I dare any eye to fall upon that form and not). And though presently to fry an old dinner, it shall occupy me, as it has, in every grubby fibre, spilling out here as elation, there as idio-horizoneering, in odd beat, hoping the grease will distract the silly thing with the threat of attack. Such is such!

Milked in, I pondered this and concluded — the benefit of being milked in is that you have ample time in which to ponder —, subsquintly to lavish my gratitude on the maker of these moments, the maker of moments; a thank you whichever way forward. The parted menace, incidentally, whose name may or may not begin with a letter that may or may not sit second in the alphabet, remains departed, a whole paragraph on, no matter the reports of his presence. "Sweet me soon" was his last recorded remark, ATTOW. Prophetic? Not really. (And I did, I should point out, see him at a distance on Saturday, walking tenderly to a rotund friend across the way.) It's perhaps unfair of me to impose examination on his circumstance, but I feel the zeit has a right to know, and know now, ATTOR. At any rate, they know now.

Probably the most interesting development, in terms of literary potential, was the August encounter I had with a colleague outside my office. Weathered, possibly a little drunk, he was attempting to nail a Pogo to my door, mistaking it for his.
"You do of course realise—"
"—Yes."
Wasn't the most treasured development, granted — the clicks were firmly elsewhere, however elusive their subject — but there you have it. I have since decided that prudence can go to hell; what's the point, when one day you could wake to find someone drunkenly nailing Pogos to your office door? No snaps, either.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Blues is King

Sadness and pistachios, at the worst of times. Need I, when knowing, turn off the smile, the stereo and brood, refusing (p)leisure, that is, the self, in aid of empathy? Should, moreover, a good person, a real good one, be physically incapable of merrymaking, in any guise, when there's woe afoot? Surely the thought would never even cross his (oo er) honest-to-goodness mind! Under this brand of reasoning, sound though it may be, the mere existence of temptation could well be enough to forsake you, oh my darling, regardless of give-ins or misgivings, resistance or succumbference. But, drat! Who, I ask you (other than a rival toy company), could remain poed and poffaced at Lands on my bed and sings her tune/to the light of the shining moon?

One's room, that organic collage of purchase and collection, can, in times of trouble (from without), be a positive whorehouse of temptation, damnation ground zero — the guilt of reaching for a Fantagraphics favourite! And let's not mention— Such things betray a light heart, too light, perhaps, to listen. But how can I abstain?— why should I abstain? It must be something altogether deeper, something weak and wheezing at the bottom of my soul, nearing death by distraction. And I don't hear it no more. I hear, rather, the backup singer, strolling up and down the melody, and cringing for future reference.

My eyes are suitably red, my posture slumped, my words appropriate, but that's sleep, habit and politeness, respectively. Not sick enough to forgo the gesture, but not right enough to mean it. And now I'm on the other end, all but pissing out problems, and the scarce words I've got felt as hollow as mine, tear or no. Relieved, I suppose, but unhelped — those words I knew not to seek anyhow. I await, instead, a flying fat thing with a spasmodic diaphragm and a penchant for song, rendered in her harmony. And a stronger man than I—

Monday, July 07, 2008

Something Fresh

Turns out, after all, the reason for the delay, in as much as one can account (being educated, I can account), and with everything — everything relevant, that is — considered, in context, and weighed, is that although, in the first instance, it may strike the average perceptor as a case of lax, nothing more, or perhaps, dare I mention, the dreaded block (hefted to the desk by Calvin himself, no doubt), it is, in honest, an issue of self-suppression, of editing, which, while not exactly quality control, at least not in the way some might hope (vückas), is a welcoming as well as worrying sign, one which may, fingers crossed, lead to a tangible upping in output, worthy output, and maybe even extend our little revolt a finger further. Fingers crossed.

In the next, that is, second, this sort of excusal, which inescapably reeks of I, sir, am never at fault (accused by compatriot, no less!), is rather hard to pull-off, no matter how true it turns out (after all, in as much as one can account) to be, and I rather think I'm under the shovel even mentioning it. Still, it's words, i'n' it? And I dare risk the backlash — for truth. But if you — my accuser (rattling blogspot, if not face-to-face in the rain) — insist on persisting, let me first concede that this is not actually an excuse, Percy; I am not intending, or attempting, to exonerate myself in any washäpperfoam of this unfortunate lapse; an unfortunate lapse it is, and although there are factors which contributed to its being so (yah), detailing them, as I have half-done, is purely an explanatory exercise; the buck stops with me. Hum.

I dare risk, but dare I continue? I will dare. Forgive my haste, my rush; blame my everything. Here's the deal, yo—: this isn't quite my favourite waste of time. That honour, for it is an honour, goes to another trivial pursuit — Sweet is the so-hard-to-come-by melody. And it belongs to the man who so stylishly severed an umbilical cord with a bullet. I'd sit back and wait, only there are few guarantees, may as well swing in with whatever's rattling around in there and fire it repeatedly at the wall, so repeatedly it need not matter whether it actually sticks or not. Bedsides — it wouldn't be me if I didn't.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

On the Level

The horrified boy in the shower, on the side of his bed, locked in the toilet, fearing, more than anything else, the Sensible Thing To Do. Tense, heavy-hearted, restless, I crawled and stumbled through a few long days before I did the sensible thing. Thenceforth it had its own momentum, and I was at least spared of plotting my own course of action.
"Shall I take a look at it, then?"
"I'd rather you didn't."
I could just make out a smile forming somewhere inside his greying beard. Sighing, I climbed the patronising steps to the bed and dutifully, though hesitantly, lowered the elastic.
"The right one, just there."
"Hm."
His fingers were cold, clinical; I was numb. He rose, frowning, and I hurriedly shoved everything back into place. My family waited.
"We'll definitely need to do some tests."

The boy moved in the huddle of his family as if a ghost, suddenly detached from the present. The news had put him on autopilot and he could do little but gaze blankly at things. Everything bounced off. The murmur of the engine was the sole point of comfort; reassuring words irritated more than reassured. When it was finally black, I was still too hyped to contemplate a theoretical death with anything other than idle fascination. That hyperbolic fear didn't much weigh upon my mind in the intervening time, nor, in fact, did the more realistic fear; everything seemed to sit second to curiosity, even excitement. Consequently, I wasn't exactly sure how to feel when I received the news that the bugger was benign. Still, at least I got a consolation operation.

"I'm going under the knife tomorrow."
"Really? What for?"
I realised my mistake and stalled. Tom honed in, shattering my affected coyness. The school uniforms didn't much help matters.
"It's my knee." I pointed, vaguely. We moved for the bus.

All in all, a nice week or so of attention. I was sad to see him go.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cause Infâme

Friends, onlookers, cherished detractors, it is time. Here, in all its gory, is the long-delayed, much-hubbubed, ever-mysterious piece which the cats upstairs, in all their 'wisdom', refused to print. Weeks in the making, months in the gestating, twenty-two sodden-earth years in the coming. And it's here, at bloody. So why the wait, why the ballyhoo? Well, to quote the felines in question: Even without all the cunts, cocks and fucks which you have so unaesthetically strewn about the place, seemingly at random, this would be one of your least distinguished efforts, and considering that you are the person who once used, or rather misused, four-hundred semi-colons in a single paragraph, merely by accident of style, that's really saying something. We have no choice, sir, but to revoke your fingers for five full days and forbid you from ever reproducing any of the words you used in that piece in any context. Even the conjunctions. Good day.

A work like that, why you wouldn't give it the time of day. We don't tolerate filth for filth's sake, not even the funny stuff. A man must have scruples. I've written a poem. Would you like to hear it?

Sea of blue,
Tree of green.
One plus two
Equals threen.

Sometimes I dream my father's return. Standing at the door, barely able to hold himself up, he'd look just like me, only with ripped clothes and a fatherly moustache. He'd regale mother and I with stories of conspiracy and high adventure, how he simply had to leave us, he had no choice, otherwise the government would have gotten to us. A goodbye, even a farewell, was simply impossible, I'm sure you understand. The cuts and bruises and all round weariness would confirm the story, and we'd prepare him the first good meal he'd had since he left. Later we'd all cry around the fire, begging him never to leave again, and he'd promise he would do everything in his power to make sure we— But of course a dream it remains. As I think of it, the filth in front of me, obscured by futile corrections, winds its way back into my consciousness, most unwelcomely. Enraged, I eat it, piece by piece, and, aided by my right index, retch every half-digested morsel of it out the window. All things considered, it was quite an improvement.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pandora's Book

They look at my eyes — gorgeous, protuberant things skirted by junkie red — and wonder. I usually have my motorbike and leathers, would, in fact, have them now, only there was a slight laundering mix up, nothing serious, soon be sorted, but it means, for The Time(s), I must go without. Oh, this? Just something I threw together, no thought, didn't even catch a mirror — hardly representative, indeed not representative, probably not even mine. Hm? No, no, no. My flat burned down, bad toaster, it's a crisp, can't even go there. Just boarding at the folks' in the mean. Nice chaps, not my scene, but what can you do? Should spare me visits for a while — We never see you, sprog; I'm busy, you know, still look the same, got a life and all. But the eyes are the truth, these deep windows, not what you deduce, not what I reveal. That stuff's nothing in the scheme.

Here? Oh, sorry. No, I knew that. Just been on a sabbatical, you know — had to, would have had a bloody heart-attack. Plus, you know, don't want to completely ruin the novelty. Not there either? Christ, I am rusty. No, no, it's a good thing. Keeps me on my toes. That's— Ooh. Um, yes, a little too much build-up, probably shouldn't have taken that extra week. Guess I am human after all, ha ha, yeah, inevitable, you don't mind, of course? I— A wh—? Oh, er, I'm giving quitting a go, actually. Just for kicks. Probably won't last, need something to do with my hands. Here, generally, they smile, furrow, and try to drink it all in, reconcile the facts with the eyes. You can even see the doubts niggling their way to the mouth, which flattens into something of a paternal purse to suit. I'm at the window, something in my eye. Christ, I wish I had my wheels. But what can you do? You couldn't spare me a— Oh, you're the best, cheers. 50% interest, I promise. No, I won't hear it. As soon as I'm off leave, I'll— You're sure? Well, all right, but you must let me— No, that's fine. But at least—

Legs are open, carefree, arms behind head, weary eyes, weary mouth, pitch-perfect but for the invisible details. And, perhaps, the cold. I, uh— Well, I was clean out of tissues, you see, and I had to take something. A last resort, really, I'll burn the thing after I— (Almost genuinely weary here.) You know, people think that, but actually it's just that I tend to slouch a lot, and— I turn, affecting repressed passion and close my eyes, tired. And I stay turned. A rushing suburb, a bleak sky, white scratches on the window, suspicious smudge. 5-4-3-2-1-0-0-0-0. A slow turn, but a good one. Powerful, cinematic. No words, no details, we're all human here. Look: too weary for tears, and strong, but with a definite sadness, like windows, deep, longing, eyebally. Look.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Usual Thing

I don't bother with it, myself. And I'd advise you, whomevr, to forget about it as soon as. Yes, ye-, that sounds like some dreary hangover of Addle Essence™ — so says you, I'm off (you'll see) —, but, and this is whilst, yes, accepting that as an unavoidable Factor (I'm nothing if not naked), there's much to be said for being a little normless here and there — within reason; much to be said for slumping to the floor with another, hearing I'd walk on my hands through the jungle. Not being pricked by pressing logistic or looming troubls, or little engagements — that's what I'm meaning. Clumping about with no aim or destiny, just steps, not even steady. Howver: don't mistake me for suggesting you go all McGoohan and dash about in liberal triumph, subsisting only by virtue of your indulgence — not 'nless you're similarly prisoned, that is. Nor do I suggest we're caged by institution (ergh). I have the firmest respect for sizzleisation, truly I do. But living in it is no more phlosophical than taking care of bees-knees, you dig? It need not obscure your view. Besides, no law 'gainst slumping. It's too high to get over (yeah yeah), too low to get under (yeah yeah).

And I looked: hair attractively framing face, a small one. And like clockwork I screwed up my mouth, achingly. Then away, appearing to concentrate on something intangible. Complete conceit, mind. Even added a Thinker fist. (This is an example, by the, not a whim.) And gazing backwards to every other face that had stuck, and combing my hair with my fingers and yawning often. Catch me now: coat casually open, cap poised (still wearing it? Yes, you know, till my hair grows and that. Plus winter, you know), that look. Nothing so unusual. Nothing that'd tear open the fabric of sosososososo— sorry, can't say it. So plain, in fact, that the above conjecture seems more a foil for something far less, shall we say, romantic, something, gape, vulnebubble. That's partially the point of the example; I don't mean to deny my namesakemanity — not even to make a point. Well: my grandmother was face down in her breakfast again. I called the nurse. She smiled somehow. Mopping my grandmother's face, she even contributed to a blossoming discussion about that Canadian folk duo. I wondered what was worse: having to wipe someone else's arse, or having to have your arse wiped by someone else? She frowned at my candour, then considered. Good God, she said, realising, I hope I don't get to compare those first-hand. Laughing, I wondered if my grandmother had been dead all these weeks. It hardly seemed to make a difference. You're a vegetable (you're a vegetable). You're a vegetable.

Twosome: falling pointlessly against walls, lying in company, walking nowhere: that's where you think about it all with the right gravity, not to mention lightness. No 'free spirit' troping or blind hedoning; rather, feeling like a good dream, to no detriment to sosososososo— Not taking for granted the ability to eat a good breakfast. No? (Yeah yeah.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cross My Heart

Train station, bullied by elements — the wind seemed genuinely intent on dislodging my delicately poised cap — I set my mind the task of solving that great imponderable. Content-wise, it's chiefly the concern of homosexual women, having hitherto been untackled, but I, with the luxury of a missed train, aim to set the record straight. It takes, after all, balls to confront this issue, particularly whilst wearing a rather ridiculous cap on a rather ridiculously windy day.* (By the way, I've moved to the sheltered part, having decided to risk the inevitable hobo stench; giggling girls, thinking it unoccupied, spy my well-sculpted head in the window and make new plans — martyr spared 'em the funk.) Some chilly minutes pass unassumingly and, despite having my formidable gaze obstructed by unaesthetic beige, I manage to score a few good thoughts. (I have now moved out of the shelter, almost to board.)

The next station is Dennis. No one's sat on me yet. Shame. As the train rumbles back to motion (not strictly true — I was too slow in writing that sentence) I find myself making some progress on my self-imposed problem. I was far from a good answer, indeed very far, but I move in obsessions; don't be surprised if I have the thing firmly wrapped by week's end. Plus, I'm a whiz at suffering obstacles. My biological mother once told me that when you hit a wall, whatever its context, go hang at Tabby's and come back tomorrow with fresh eyes. (Tabby was a childhood flame from four to fifteen: a yeasty tomboy with scarlet locks and peppered skin, she now maintains an unpleasant trans-Pacific accent somewhere in Canada, with my poor adolescent heart tucked in a shoebox beneath her bed. "Hoeniger asked about my first love. I said 'Pale, mercurial and devilish; had two loves' — how's that?", a line from her letter, May 24. That's her handwriting; that's the way she writes.) Not having Tabby at hand, I decided instead to have a particularly restful night's sleep when I got home.

Now we're forward some three hours (my errand kept me from chronicling the intervening). My roomy black notebook has given way to a squat yellow pocketbook. I'm already halfway down the page. I should mention that this marks a second journey, having returned home for approximately ten minutes before a gate-crashing opportunity presented itself and ushered me back out into the Cruel. These piling mundanities run the risk of overshadowing my ponderings, but I added a few useful observations along the way, most afforded by lulls. A brief glimpse from a fellow passenger (merely by proximity) and I'm back outside myself, noting, for no particular reason, the onlooker's green caffeinated drink. Now we pause at the neon ferris wheel, Ernst & Young high-rise to my right. I look at my watch: fifteen minutes to Crown. The evening disappears in a swamp-green haze of inferior remakes and sulky companions. Tabby infests my dreams.

*Suffering for fashion, as always.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rhapsody

All right, now this one is a little exaggerated — forgive me. The time: nearing ten-thirty. The place: here. The persons: whatshisname (Ben?), Tom and myself. With a gourmet meal — thawed fish and chips, decanted by yours truly — settling in our I Guess This'll Do bellies, we organised ourselves for a debate of sorts, filmed from the corner for posterity.
"Never until the mankind making, bird, beast and flower," I began, overflowing with righteous poesy.
Ben smirked and countered: "We are hollow men. We are stuffed men."
Before I could rebuke, Tom strode in between us.
"Drift close to me, and sideway bending, whisper delicious words," he said, punctuating with curt glances and taut fists.
"No," I cried, eyes welling with passion. "Praise that the spring time is all—"
"April is the cruelest month," interrupted Ben, calmly. "Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain."
I considered. "Here in the spring, stars float along the void." Come back from that!, my smile said.

"They say that the Dead die not, but remain, near the rich heirs of their grief and mirth."
We both turned to Tom, puzzled at his addition.
"Now tread the far South, or lift rounds of snow up the white moon's hidden loveliness," he continued. Either he was drawing a very long bow or—
"After the torchlight red on sweaty faces [not unlike Ben's as he spoke], after the frosty silence in the gardens, after the agony in stony places. The shouting and the crying." Curses. I was behind. How could I miss the connection?
"O make me a mask and a wall to shut from your spies," I wailed desperately. They pounced.
Tom: "Oh! Death will find me, long before I tire of watching you, and swing me suddenly into the shade and loneliness and mire of the last land!"
Ben: "The withered root of knot of hair, slitted below and gashed with eyes; this oval O cropped out with teeth, the sickle motion from the thighs."
I could do this. "Twenty-four years remind the tears of my eyes. I advance for as long as forever is." A pause. Yes. Then:
"And so I never feared to see you wander down the street, or come across the fields to me on ordinary feet." Here Tom lighted on my lap, devilishly testing my liberalism. "For what they'd never told me of, and what I never knew; it was that all the time, my love, Love would be merely you." I shook him off.
"Not from this anger — anticlimax after refusal struck her loin and lame flower bent like a beast to lap the singular flood," I scoffed, composing myself.
"Along the reaches of the street," said Ben, determined, "held in a lunar synthesis, whispering lunar incantations."
"Creeps in half wanton, half asleep, one with a fat wide hairless face."
"And freely he goes lost in the unknown, famous light of great and fabulous, dear God."
"Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn in a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown." Ben's repetition was powerful. We steadied ourselves.

"In the beginning was the three-pointed star," I announced. "One smile of light across the empty face."
"And the dark woods grew darker still. And birds were hushed. And peace was growing. And quietness crept up the hill." Tom had lost some of his fury.
"The host with someone indistinct converses at the door apart." (For the record, I was still in the room when Ben said this — metaphor, perhaps?)
"When I see you, who were so wise and cool, gazing with silly sickness on that fool you've given your love to, your— Shit, I've got to go. It's nearly eleven." Saying this, Tom retrieved his jacket and thanked me for the evening. A premature end (Ben left, too), but a memorable evening. The issue would have to remain unresolved for the moment. For once, I did not mind.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trite and True

While on occasion I find it fit to, shall we say, contort some of the more insignificant facts of the otherwise Honest To God pieces I put before you (for the record, I always put You before any of the pieces; they are but disposable oddities, dissipating daily in a huff of ill-assembled ones and zeros; you are living, breathing, panting organisms, with like eight arms), I am always, without exception*, completely cock-in-pants faithful to the Heart Of The Matter — like all true loggers. Not for me the petty twisting of important details; not for me the sandbox realms of pure fiction; and not for me the hazy middle ground of — oog, I feel sick — ambiguity. Like all people who think they're artists, I stand for truth: the truth of experience. It's all very well and good to wave statistics and graphs and pictures of people reading controversial 20th century novels, but that does not pierce the capital-T, my plums; to do that, you need sapient fingers and bad eyes.

Case in point: my sister, Ointment (vindictive nickname rather than vindictive parents), two years my junior, wandered listlessly into the kitchen, curling her hair around a brush that for all intents and purposes was an extension of her hand. Ever the adolescent, she grimaced at me through hoary black lips and bee-lined for the coffee-grinder. For someone with such a vulgar personality, she always looked very doable first thing in the morning, before she'd had a chance to suffocate her better features beneath tragic black leather and obscene buckles. Such a waste. I wondered idly when that godawful phase would end and crossed my legs.
"Where's the milk?" she asked accusingly.
"At the shop." I relished the moment, having earlier been overly liberal in dousing my cereal, and took a sip of very white coffee. She cursed me — Brothers! or something — and I watched her leave, turning back to my paper when the door clicked.

Around lunch Tom popped round, cheerily bearing a bag of jersey caramels (our favourite). We shot down a few hours talking about sex and watching my sister sleep (no correlation; we were bored) before Tom trudged off home again and I headed to the smoke. After a successful journey, I returned and fixed a homely tuna casserole, the ingredients for which I had collected along the way. I caught the wrong train, though, so it was a little late in appearing. Still, hit the spot. I think a walk would have capped the night off perfectly but Harry had an early start. Ah well. Gives me a chance to catch up on those wacky Petries.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Beau Deadly

It was Sunday; rather unlike today, which is Wednesday. We sat apart, neatly, with the mid-afternoon sun proving no match for the room's frostiness. I stole glances intermittently, she not at all. The eager faces at the window: mid-afternoon mothers. I took four requisite breaths and began.
"My mother and your mother—"
"Yes," she said, nodding wearily.
Silence. I picked up my guitar; silence. I put it down again.
"Still fits," I mumbled, trying to recover from what must have seemed rather pathetic. "So I'm Hugh, by the way."
She looked, briefly.
"Congratulations."
Ouch.
"Goals?" (A strange jump, granted, but bets were off.)
"No. You?"
"No," I lied. "No use for 'em. I would like to write a big-themed novel, though."
She nodded absently, as if dead. Evidently she had no desire to know what my big-theme was. That was a joke, too. Despite her manner, I felt a strange surge of confidence (or carelessness), which I used to position myself next to her on the bed. She was pretty, certainly, but a little severe up close. She'd probably tear me apart if she wasn't so sad.

A while passed. I was restless. Summoning up dumb courage, I closed my eyes and motioned my face to hers.
"What the hell are you doing?" she snapped, recoiling.
I flushed. "I was, uh... I was wondering what your face would feel like... if I stuck mine against it." Worst excuse yet.
"With our parents watching? What the fuck's wrong with you?"
(For the record, mine was making encouraging gestures the whole time.)
"Nothing they haven't seen before," I said. (Ergh.)
Suddenly a knock from the front door. I knew it must be Ben and said as much.
"Who?"
"Ben."
"Who's Ben?"
"He's... Ben."
"Hi, I'm Ben," said Ben, a little later in the narrative. "But you can call me..." He pretended to trail off, then added, "My number is—"
She glared.
"o-4— get about it!" He laughed to a snort. "I'm just playing wi' ja." He turned to me. "Who's the big, fat slice of All Right?"
Dazed, I said: "This is my partner, Millie."
"I'm not your partner!" she screamed, standing up. "And what's more, my name's not Millie!"
"I didn't mean it like that," I stammered.
"Oh yes? Well what did you mean by 'partner'?"
"Business partner?" I offered weakly.
"More like getting-down-to-business partner," interjected Ben.
Fuming she made for the door, then stopped, turning back.
"You're small people, you know that?"
"That's not fair."
"And that's not true," said Ben.
She surveyed us again, curling her lip. "I'll have you know I don't suffer fools gladly."
"Me either," I said, unsure whether to nod or shake. "But I quite like morons."
"You don't get it, do you?" she continued. "You're not... You've got this fixed image of the world, this small-framed way of seeing things. It's all base desires, nothing more. As if humans exist only now, you know? Lurching from one encounter to another. Love and poetry may as well be foreign languages to you."
"That's not true," I protested. "I love poetry — really. Love it."
"I very much doubt it."
"No, I swear. Look, I'll quote you one."
"Go on," she said, peering skeptically.
I had the grand total of one poem memorised — highly inappropriate but at this point suiting my mood.
"It's an old one, this, from 1704. Chap named William Byrd II, a most underrated poet in my opinion." Both looked at me curiously. I cleared my throat and began, somehow not giggling.

"Gentlest blast of ill concoction,
Reverse the high-ascending belch:
Th' only stink abhorr'd by statesmen,
Belov'd and practic'd by the Welch.

Softest notes of inward griping
Your reverences' finest part,
So fine it needs no pain of wiping
Except it prove a brewer's fart.

Swiftest ease of cholic pain,
Vapour from a secret stench,
Is rattled out by the th'unbred swain,
But whisper'd by the bashful wench."

"Called 'Upon A Fart'," I said. "Good, eh?"
"Hilarious. Good bye." She left.
Ben snickered.
"She wasn't bad," he wheezed, almost foaming.
"Diabolical," I muttered.
The sun had gone by now. Ben began to fidget.
"This has got me a bit... riled-up," he said, without his former confidence. "You don't mind if I—?"
"No, go ahead."
"And you're not, uh—"
"Nah. I think I'll just read or something over here."
Ben nodded.
"Well," he said, standing.
"Yep." I looked up at him. "Uncut?"
"Yeah."
"Good. Keep it in."
He nodded again.
"Actually, I don't feel like reading. You don't mind if I sing?"
Ben frowned. "With guitar?"
"No, a cappella."
"Hm."
"What?"
"Nothing, it's just—"
"What?"
"Well, no offence, but... I've never really been all that fond of your voice."
"Really?" I blinked. "How come?"
"Well... You can't sing."
"Oh."
"Sorry, I didn't mean—"
"No, no, it's all right. I understand."
"I knew you would."
"And it'd put you off, would it?"
"It would a bit, yes."
"Fair enough. I guess I will read after all."
"Sorry."
"Nah, you're right. I've been meaning to read."
"OK. Wish me luck."
"Will do."
I opened my book.*

*Literally. (See right.)

Draft Dodging

Belly-up one morning (this one morning), breakfasted stoutly on oats & apricots, thoughts and feelin's swimming, still half-asleep, short two mouthfuls, even leaving a gulp at mug's bottom (to make a rim). Rose, rinsed, showered, scrubbed, caught glimpse, winced. Nosed in cautiously, cursed hairdresser, pulled up socks, galloped, peered again, lost in eyes, furrowed, cleared throat, spoke, monologued, singing. Lost. Smoked clean cotton-bud, loosing it smoothly from its packet. Gazed at window right, then wall left. Alarm. Rose, rinsed, breakfasted. Cracked knuckles, smoothing the page. Waited.

Lunch, lounging. Sang with great gusto and clunky plonking, the latter in tune, neither in time. Shampoo, very thorough. Perfectly dry, cracked window. Needled my way to bed, shut off the light, pulling the covers and fondling the pillow. Light flooded. Alarm. Repositioned pillow, rolled out, palming eyes. Stretched, stumbled, showered. Studied fridge. Methodically ground beans. Pleasing gurgle from stove, shook milk vainly. Black. Hovered fingers. Gazed at window right, looked deeply into the ceiling, not at. Pushed off socks. Fell. Telephone. Speaking? Did you say feelings? No, I don't have any; sorry. Replaced.

The gaggle hollering somewhere inside, I waited, eventually to knock. Hug, hug, hug, like three bullets. Escaped. Hawthorn, eating. Rose-tinted glasses framed the night (that portion of it). Water beating down, not quite warm enough. Two strangers smiled, seemingly genuine. Key shivering towards the lock, missing a third time. Sliding off shoes, suspenders. Porcelain, a brush, needled back to bed. Knuckles cracking, alarm blaring, sneezed alphabetti spaghetti triptych, conked, Michael Caine, across the page. Escaped. Soap to armpits, singing. Grimaced, winced, laughed. Propped pillow across the table, chatted (mostly me). Stood back, considered. Unsatisfied. Finished.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Ms. Rose Arrives

Overcast. The Um stood soulfully on a sloshed bluff, gazing down at the cold, bleak plain as if it were a microcosm of all human endeavour. Wind-blasted bastard. Next to him, snapping a distant cliff, sat Mr. Brooke, a pale, bijou urbanite under a dense web of tan pig tails. Clicking a further two times, he slid his delicate rims back onto his nose and frowned. Not the right angle? I didn't much mind. A few yards across, Pub Sneer wandered in two-piece rag and bum-glove, looking lost and impotent. He winced at me weakly, seemingly trying to smile. I looked at him as one looks at a three-week-dead mouse circa lunchtime and continued narrating. (Myself, I hasten, clad in Brobdingnagian pants befitting his heightsake, amphibian features, capped, coated, restless; boyish.)

For the moment, that was it: a less-than-formidable four. We entertained plans of rafting to France to find our fifth, but that had more than a whiff of pipe about it, particularly in the mire of our present. I paced self-consciously, imagining the passage in a future history book. It scarcely seemed worthy of a footnote, let alone a passionate treatise. As if to illustrate my point, Sneer dry-retched himself into a ditch behind me, capping it off charmingly with an audibly exhaled orifice. A moment later, the distinct, lackadaisical scent of marijuana drifted up from the hole, ruining the carefully narrated atmosphere — the clot. The sky dimmed slightly. Then thunder. Panning across the Hm, Is It Raining?, I pretended to sigh. This was not the stuff of legend. This was not even the stuff of blogging. I slumped back on my deck chair, sighing for real. It began to rain proper. Amidst the downpour, what started as an almost imperceptible rhythm rose to a hoofed clatter, drawing intriguingly nearer until its source could (just) be made out. By this point, the non-pot-addled among us had gathered on the far side of the camp, peering attentively into the distant sheets. Obscured by rain and fog, it looked rather like a waddling town house.

The cart rolled to a stop. One of the horses snorted — sneezed? — and grumpily toyed with the mud at its feet. Silence. (Except the rain.) The purple carriage shook for a moment. A door, also purple, thudded open. After an excruciating delay, a leg stepped out, followed by a body, another leg, two arms and a head. The fetching whole was somehow even purpler than the carriage. Approaching swiftly, she smiled away the cold. In—
"Wait," she said.
Yes? I wondered.
"'Smiled away the cold'?"
Well, I—
"What am I supposed to be, a princess?"
I considered this.
"Yes," I said, quoting for emphasis. "Prince-ess. Princess! 'Prince' as in Prince, 'ess' as in... I dunno, 'dress' or something. Perfect."
"You're not calling me Princess."
"All right, how about... Ess?"
"Better."
— her hand she held one of those crass Melbourne Renaissance A4s I had sticky-taped to Flinders Street. The ink was running; I didn't blame it. Still, at least it wasn't Comic Sans or Skia. She kick-started a lantern and held it to her face.
"Hello," she beamed. She looked a little taken aback at our less-than-heroic shapes, but did a serviceable job of suppressing it.
We exchanged the same glance.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Cavity

The blinds were still up, letting the dark in. This was deliberate. I lay there, watching the blue flame lick the kettle in the next room, humming, singing, sometimes shifting to favour the other ear. The stereo was telling me repeatedly to Hold it. Being so enticingly put together, I would have done just that, had I anything to hold. (Initially, I thought the insistent, harmonised command signalled a halt of sorts; only later did I discover it was a determined plea.) Gathering my thoughts into a neat, alphabetised pile, I said (to myself), Here I am, in the bounds of Experience; and though it is mine alone [still in quotes, mind you], it shall soon be the newest addition to that great communal work, What We Know (vol. MMMMCMXCIX or something). Altered, of course [still quoting...]; not merely a retelling, or this-then-this account; a bold new shape, almost irrecognisable, but unmistakably borne from Experience. [End quote.] I paused, suddenly becoming self-conscious. Did I just say that? Did I just say that out loud? The kettle bubbled. I walked over to it in something of a daze, recalling my strange outburst like a drunk recalls some hideous deed. Irrecognisable?

So no one told you that was gonna be this way... [clap, clap, clap, clap]. I frowned, my timing just right. How depressing. The blinds were still up but the effort was beyond me. I fidgeted, like a suspect. Next week's assignment is to have dinner together e-every night and see what changes in your life. I left the room to inspect my bookcase. Standing a half-metre back, not feeling the floor, I watched as titles and authors raced by, sometimes splashing me with recognition, sometimes hurling a crunched can of the altogether unfamiliar. They were eating all 52 of my bookmarks. Suddenly feeling ill, I woozed my way outside, wading through small, hyperactive dogs until I reached an aged bench in the middle of the garden. I half fell onto it, recovering only with some effort. The stars were out, of course. I couldn't resist a peek. As usual, they had nothing important to tell me, but they sure looked pretty. One even seemed to wink at me. I winked back, just in case. Feeling unaccountably motivated, I pulled my weakening body up again and pushed further outside, towards a park. I was careless; the littler dog followed me. Fearing an escape, I swiftly whisked her off her little paws and brought her to my chest. In the soft moonlight we had a moment, and I think it answered my question. She wriggled out of my hands and scurried off (back to the garden, thankfully). I laughed cornily and followed her, a little more grounded. Oo oo oo oo-oo oo oo-oo oo, said the television. Falling back on the couch, I suddenly wished I was drunk.

I slept instead.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Slight Return

When one — in this case this one — poises the ol' digits over a certain old digital board, he must, as a matter (of course), come to firm grips with what's been writ hitherthen, not only by the self but by the entire conglomerate of grubby fingers out there, and if then he's not sufficiently put-off by the prospect of justifying the spotlight, he must still bear down and come through with the goods, knuckles down, eyes locked. And it was with such hubris — deeply considered hubris, but hubris nonetheless — that I tapped (surprise, surprise) Ben in the shoulder region and steered his formidable gangle my way.

Yes?" he said, glaring as per.
"Nothing," I shrugged. "I just thought, you know, we could get to having an amusing* conversation or something — like old times."
Ben sighed (also as per).
"Must we?"
"Well, I sort of promised I'd do something today, and—"
"But why me?"
"What?"
"Why not one of your other readers?"
We laughed for several minutes before Ben clarified.
"No really, why not The Other, for instance?"
"The Other?" I looked puzzled. (I was puzzled.)
"Yes, The Other."
"Oh yes," I said, puzzled no more, "The Reluctant Revolutionary."
"I prefer Pop."
"Not Pops?"
"No. Just Pop."
"I prefer... Cynthia Rose — or just Cyn."
"Um... What?"
Ben posed a handsome puzzler, all right.
"You know — Starfish And Coffee."
"No."
"Well, it's—"
"I don't care," he said, sneezing. And with that he grabbed onto the side of a van and whizzed off.

Typical. Now I had no one to have amusing* conversations with. Scowling at my shoelaces, I returned home, free from any foreseeable deadlines but burdened by a lack of Ben. I washed dishes — The Gold Experience. Sometime later I remembered. Racing back to wherever that street was, I found the conjured and subsequently abandoned Ms. Rose standing near a bakery, dramatically soaked by a recent shower. She peered down at me angrily.
"Next time," I said, and raced off.

*Adjective does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Times or any of its affiliates.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Vacant — See?

At this stage, I feel it might be worth pointing out that there shall be a slight stifling of activity between now and next, owing to some necessary, albeit half-cooked, preparations I must complete before then. Jourth, a title somewhat less punnable than Maith (Jourth By Jourth-West? Jourthie Girl?), is thusly what I recommend setting your watch for (aside from general time-keeping, that is). It shall signify a positive plateau of opportunity (or potential, if you wish to alliterate), with no competitive mounds or alternative avenues to distract from the task at hands. Wait a minute, say you, you can't exactly halt the revolution for a week — what of the looming lackaday threat? Surely it will not lay down and wait? Well, I have no intention of halting the revolution, only the tenor of my presence therein. That is why I leave you in the capable hands of Chanties himself, Johnny The Stirrer Beehive, who today is a burden lighter, and the Bedium Medium. I shall also even mention ol' Halfway, although one will need a finger crossed. Nevertheless, a daily visit won't hurt and I, for one, shall be doing so. For the moment, then, the revolution is in their hands.

Perhaps you are wondering as to the nature of my non-revolutionary preparations. While not giving too much I way, I will tell you that I am intending to visiting my erstwhile sister, Alice Evens (not Evans) on the coast, to attend a matter of relocation. It's sure to involve excitingly sealed envelopes and strange moustaches. And it does, in certain ways, involve the revolution, although being personal, it will not directly aid the cause. Still, it can't be avoided, and it shall be nice to see the somewhat equivocal but always delightful Ms. Evens once more. Our last meeting was soured my considerable tension and I am hoping my task will leave room to mend our manners while I am there. So that's that. Please do not cease your letters of support. If there's one reliable thing in this entire rickety operation, it's our postal service. Ooroo.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lotophaging

A cake is sliding layer by layer off the table as a I tap. Two spindly sisters and one gangly activist are splayed unconsciously across a mound of discarded food stuffs and spent party poppers, snoring somehow. I wait for the kettle. This is going to be quite the cleanup. Not only does the host have to contend with an array of spilt food and drink, but the vomited and dribbled product of the same, which abounds gracelessly around fallen bodies. In addition to this, "Viva la revolucion!" has been crudely sprayed on nearly every visible surface, betraying Ben's presence, not to mention the room's once-loyal stylist. Most of all, though, there's the smell. A mixture of bad weed (thanks, Harry), bad alcohol (thanks, Harry) and suffocated armpits. That boy's one step away from a twelve-step.

Mingling for three weeks has more than taken its toll; I feel like sawdust. But I've fared far better than most, possibly even all. I'm awake, for starters, and quite close to sobriety. And I'm already reflecting. Somewhere along the line our common cause was blurred by beer, song and myriad other sybaritic pursuits, and I fear the extended recovery period will prove a thorn. Ben and that tall Portuguese woman (great slacks) will each need at least a week's worth of showering, I'd wager, and Johnny The Stirrer (a recent and inevitable christening) will be out of action till he finds all his fingers. But while it's a less than ideal opening*, its symbolic function, independent, as it is, from the actual goings on of the event, will be strong enough to mark this admitted indulgence as something of a success. That's a hard thing to say with the smell of purged stomachs and badly mixed liquor, but I'm optimistic. Whatever the outcome, I think we'll each emerge slightly different(ly). It certainly put whatever remained of my abstinence to the test. And I'll cease to look at Harry as a benign innocent. Still didn't get me to dance, though.

There's something wonderfully superior about surviving this, particularly with a pot of tea to rest on. If I wasn't so sober I might even murmur "spiritual". Potential hasn't been squandered, merely delayed. And that's nice. After this I'll sit outside with the rest of my tea and wait for the morning to start looking like it's supposed to.

*This will not be made a joke of.