Hold, Please

Can this hold to prevent breaking?
What can be used to brace?
Capable hands
Sensible selves
There’s structural damage
Internal bleeding
Draining what’s left of dreaming
The ‘Dream’
Bold claims
Absolutes
Boys hipping in daddy’s soot-suits
Boots faded brand new
Dark jaded unhewn
Stone and mortar replaced by paper and glue
That won’t hold
Become your own saviour
That rope around your waist
Is it long enough to tie around?
Can it hold to prevent breaking?
Will it hold?
Will you be ashamed of stains and stray frayed ends?
A face that’s afraid
Why not let it break?
Embrace the fall
The fall is as important as the hold
Nothing lasts
Not even this feeling fleeting moments past
If you return home now the memory will be in leaving
In flux or an influx?
Why this empty space?
There are so many question marks at the ends of all my sentences
An inward agitation expressed as curiosity
Breadth of interest concealing depth
‘That boy’s shallow’ they would say
And no one would dance
There’s no time for that
When was my last breath
I could chance it
Gamble my reservations in hopes that my place would be saved
To remain seated would allow me to hold my place
This indeterminate ill-defined location in space
Or was it indifference which defined me?
It doesn’t matter there is no difference
The thoughts keep me within the body
Ill-flavoured omens
Foul flavoured copper mouth
I should eat something
With no sustenance the body will feed on my substance
‘He’s shallow’ they would say ‘eaten away at himself’
Not carved nor hewn
Stripping flesh and sinew
The body was empty to fill
The singular instances of my existence bring shame
Doubts and pains
Aches from stagnation and the stench of rotting meat in my hands
Is it the same?
Would it have been had I not been?
This can never be so give thanks it never will
How empty this instance except for what I bring to it
I am alone at the beach
On a bench
Or was it a seat in my home
These streets unfamiliar
The world was all kittens and rainbows
Blood and cum
The sum of some great nothing
There’s people making love while others are fucking
Some wear makeup with their misery
Some loosen their belts and strangle theirs
Welt marks of the beaten cock
The baboon Red ass
Red hand grabs
Red in their shit and in their shot eyes
Red beads dripping from cavities
Red cunt Red cock Red Red
Everything was Red
Paint me a picture of Red
The other colours are not vigorous enough
They don’t blind or stop or force hands
They are not Red
They don’t fill your body with the embalming fluid of the River Styx
Come back to me Red
I am exhausted

Midnight Ministry

“The tapestry weaves and unweaves
The hand grips and ungrips
Wait
Something
Sombre
Time lapse to yonder
Harken now
It’s begun”

He’s making eyes around the room, but mostly he watches himself in the reflection of the window. Does he recognise himself, this faceless caricature, faux poet, and man of misspelled letters?
He comes here every week on a Tuesday, with his air of fake eclecticism in tow, and then he stands on the window bar ledge and throws his shit around the room, expecting us to eat it up off of the floor.
‘Thanks, that’s from a poem called, “Perennial days”.’
The six people in the room look around, feigning interest for a second or two, before looking back into their coffee cups.
Please, God, smite him.
‘I’m working on a novel.’ He implores to his audience with an outstretched arm. ‘It’s a kind of epic, post-hype, meta-philosophical anthology, depicting the rise of a counter-culture anti-hero, in a dystopian future ruled by bureaucratic demon-alien-androids.’ He coos at his reflection in the window. ‘It’s a work in progress, but my manager says it’s good.’
His manager is the woman who walks around town with yellow supermarket bags wrapped to her ankles and a rainbow feather boa around her waist from which she hangs a plastic cutlass.
I don’t like my job much at all. The internet doctor calls it, ‘work aversion’, my other diseases are apparently seven kinds of cancer and people.
This place attracts some less than palatable patrons, but rent exists. It’s easy to own slaves, you just offer them a base rate of extinction and they sell you the best hours of their day. I worked the night shift, and my best hours were robbed of me. As if I could afford the sun anyway.
I watch as Cecil ambles to the counter with his persistent limp, his cap pulled low over his eyes and a worn satchel at his side. He hands his thermos over the counter and spills what was left of his last drink over the stale muffins. In his seventy or so years, he hasn’t been able to grasp the concept of speaking. It’s all grunts and murmurs, with every second word being vaguely recognisable after it’s trip through the abattoir. It’s how I imagine the primitive man spoke.
He only ever takes his coffee with a flat top and a shot of hazelnut syrup, always in his thermos and never paying full price. Cecil had been coming to this same spot since the sixties, back when it was a family diner and he was pulling late shifts driving taxis.
I would have liked to of asked him what it was like, but I only ever heard every second word. He waddled back to his seat, the second table from the door, his back to the counter, always.
The minstrel on the bar is still spewing his words to the crowns of downturned heads wanting to go unnoticed.

‘Yip, yip, yip, yip,
The brakes are oily slippery
That man has arms of hickory
Pumping effluence and
Pop
I bark
Yip, yip, yip, yip’

One of the cafe kings pulls his crown up and throws a sugar container right at the minstrels face. ‘Fucking hippy faggot! Shut the fuck up.’ He moves to throw a chair and I can’t be moved to stop him.
My boss, George, runs out and grabs him, glaring at me for not stopping this. I shrug and wipe the counter down.
Our minstrel is crying atop a pile of sugar, nursing a chipped tooth and checking his face in the window. George gets rid of our martyr, and those of us who had suffered, silently revere him.
‘What are you doing letting these animals run the zoo, man?’ George is coming towards me, short but stocky, less than intimidating thanks to his height.
‘The poetry does suck.’ Simon, another regular, pipes up and saves my ass. ‘I agree with Russell’s account that he was a “fucking hippy faggot”.’
‘Yea, well you guys can allot street justice on the street! Not in the cafe!’ George’s little fists swung to slap his thighs. Emphatic. He turns and points at me, ‘Keep the beasts under control.’ I lift my chin slightly, to show I’ve heard him. He goes back to the kitchen, intoning curses under his breath.
‘Thanks, Simon.’ I throw him a muffin, topped with Cecil’s backwash. He winks and curtsies, letting the muffin fly over his head and dent the wall.
‘My pleasure. It was truly awful.’

Colour Walk

Step into the frigid silvered air
Leave your light on for when you return
Wander to places familiar to escape familiarity
Contours gouge large iridescent marks
Across the landscape in the shades of evening
Yellow spring flowers are subdued
The scent thick weight around their buds
Going stale after picking
Sienna and umber against the woods under streetlights
Their vapour of white flame
Contained and bound
Only moving when the current allows
The water below finds the light alluring and so collects itself
Far above before raining down cobalt bolts
Gathering atop and around the electric prison
Absorbing and refracting into a myriad of tones
Forming a symbiotic stained glass window
Dripping globules of nectarine gold

Night, Shift

Guy that drinks lattes, but only in the cup, not the mug
Have you got cream? Put cinnamon on the top!

Cecil with the green takeaway container with masking tape, that says Cecil, on it.
Cecil reading a book on ancient roman history, he says
Bush and Obama have used lines in their speeches which coincide with roman leaders
He says Cicero was important in the forming of public speaking
He makes a passing comment about a ginger cat that chased the other cats
Around his neighbourhood, he says
It seemed small, but it was strong and agile

Simon’s the same as always

Alexander the woodworker in the red flannel
Black Buddhist beads around his neck
Hands stained the same from oiling wood by electric lamplight

Pauly takes his time changing the oil at 4am
The world doesn’t need councillors, it needs company.

Novel Passage #2

In the haze of my half-cut wandering, I’d walked to a part of town I’d never been. The buildings were low-lying, each only having one or two stories at most, and appearing even smaller in the shadows of the surrounding skyscrapers.
There was a small fruit stand with two fermenting pears and a basket of spotty bananas on it. The woman standing next to it did her best to swat at the flies with a rolled up glossy magazine. She smiled when she saw me looking and waved, with bits of wing and crushed insect spraying from the pages around her in a halo of decay.
Across the courtyard a man sat carving a log with chisels. He was wearing a kilt, nothing on top, and a thick mat of hair on his chest, chin and crown.
Further down I saw a chalk board sign which said I could get coffee and food inside. I hadn’t eaten all day, and the streets were cold at that time of year.

The door stuck to its hinges as I pulled it open, the wood tracing an arc which was etched permanently across the cobbles. Inside it was low-lit and a man stood looking at me from behind the counter.
“Coffee?” He pulled a head free from the machine and tapped out a spent shot, prepping to pack a new one. I nodded and he beamed, beginning to tamp the ground coffee down and placing a mug under the stream.
“I can tell you’ve never seen one of these before. Am I right?” He asked.
“Yea, man. That thing looks crazy.” He laughed and put a milk jug under some steam.
“Most people just get theirs without the wait time these days. These things became obsolete after you could just punch some buttons into one of the thousand drink machines around the city. Pop! Out comes a perfect flat white in a styrofoam cup, no work needed. Would you like some crude oil with your order, sir? God. Don’t get me started on the smart-cafes either.” He was grinning, laughing to himself about a joke he was constantly recalling. I just nodded, it was all a bit weird.
“It was a bit of a mission to find one of these bad-boys. My old man knew someone who ran a cafe, way back before automation took over, and he just gave it to me. Can you believe that? Its one of the only ones left in the whole city. This thing is priceless, man. A good cup of coffee, made how it should be, shared and with free, genuine conversation. But, you gotta pay for the drink.” He winked and then poured the milk with an exacting eye, his wrist relaxed and the milk ribboning silk-like through the copper crema. He admired his work for a moment and then slid the cup over to me. On top there was a bronze and ivory cosmos, with milk moons circling golden planets encased in a fractal patterned border.
“Hey man, thats amazing. How the hell did you do that?”
“Practice. Latte art isn’t a lost art, if i’m still kicking.”
“Well, I appreciate it. Thanks. How much?”
“You know, since its your first real cup, you can just take it. You’ll be hooked once you taste it and have to come back for more.” He walked away through a door behind him, brimming with self-satisfied laughter. I looked through the door, which led to a kitchen, and he was singing a melody to himself while cracking eggs into a frypan. He saw me watching and started throwing his hand toward me, pointing. I turned around and saw the doorway he was gesturing at.
I picked up my coffee, careful not to spill it, and too wary to drink it, and walked through to the other room.
There were bookshelves along the walls, crates of records, and people looking through them all with intense eyes. Tables lay chaotically around the room, all made in differing styles. Some people sat lounging on cushions strewn around the floor in a corner nook, drinking tea and having intimate conversations. Others sat alone, reading, writing feverishly, or just staring around the room at the hustle.
I edged in, finding a seat around the bar, which skirted another coffee machine. Behind the counter there were jars of strange leaves, teapots, cups, coffee beans, and a bartender cleaning mugs.
The man a couple seats down was ranting to him.
“He was a wacko, I tell ya! He kept asking me if I was CairoClueless67, getting all nervous like and pulling on his sleeves, looking over his shoulder and all that. Says that I’m wearing what I said I would, but come on, how many people were out that night wearing black jeans and a blue sweatshirt? Naturally, I told him to get out of my face. I figure he’d booked a night with some lover-boy online and the guys a no-show. So, I go back to my drink, ten minutes go by and this guy is getting antsy, when wouldn’t you know it, a guy in black jeans and a blue sweatshirt walks in. Our guy here, gets really excited about this and he gets up fast, shooting his arm up at this guy. They talk for a few minutes, and next thing you know, BLAM! Blue sweater fucking blows this guys goddamn head off. Sends chunks of his skull into martinis around the room. People are screaming and it all goes to shit, man. This guy, he just asks the barkeep for a phone, calls the cops on himself and goes to sit on the curb. Naturally, I finish my drink. At ten bucks a beer what do I do, you know? Anyway, the cops, they come racing round the corner and our guy starts fucking blasting them. They fire back and just tear his body apart. Chunks of his chest are spitting off of him like meat shrapnel and he goes down, hard. Woah, mumma! Better than any late night b-grade film I’ve ever seen. The police wanted to question some of us about what we saw, its all done by the book, you know? A couple weeks later, I see an update in the papers. Turns out these guys met on some site, way deep in the dark net. Basically its a place to organise a double suicide, for people who don’t have the guts to top themselves. You organise to meet, then one of you offs the other, waits for the cops and then lets them kill him. Both get to die, but neither have to kill themselves. How fucked up is that?”
“That never happened, Kyle. You’re a goddamn liar.” The bartender didn’t buy it.
“Like hell I am, you son of a bitch! Ill bring you the news articles and then you can eat shit.”
“Yea, yea. Is this like that time you supposedly survived a cougar attack at some circus show?”
“Piccadilly circus, nineteen sixty-five!”
“Piccadilly circus is a round-a-bout.”
“Well, it’s all true. I ain’t a liar.” He turned to face me. “Hey, kid, you’ve been listening the whole time.” I’m sprung. “You think I’m a liar?”
I look into my still full coffee mug. “Uh, no, um. But I guess I don’t really know you enough to be able to say. The story was interesting, though.” He turned back satisfied, shooting smug lips at the barkeep.
“At least someone around here is a good judge of character.”

Dinner for Juan

Juan hadn’t eaten with another person in months. He couldn’t remember the last time. He couldn’t remember what it was like to sit across from someone discussing inconsequential things, like the quality of the food, what the people at the corner table might be talking about, or what he’d do when he got home.

Everyone that knew Juan, thought he was busy. A man-about-town, appearing everywhere at once and shaking every hand.

Juan had a knack at first impressions, they all agreed on that. They thought him affable and charming, though no one could tell you why.

No one could give any definitive answers about him, and as time passed they were more inclined to avoid the subject.

All in all, Juan was an acquaintance. He was nobodies friend, but everybody’s buddy. They would smile at him in the street and he would smile back, an empty mouthed, tight-jawed smile, wrinkling his eyes on reflex because he’d read somewhere that is appears more genuine. Everyone would smile this way.

It was only by chance that Juan found his way to parties. No one went out of their way to invite him. He wouldn’t be invited anywhere. He’d hear about these events after the fact, and everyone would assume he’d been there and they missed him, and he would lie and say he had been, or that he’d left early, or that his cat was sick, even though he didn’t have a cat. The only thing for him to tend to was his reputation.

Things were simply assumed of Juan. That he was kind, cultured, intelligent, desired by many women, envied by men. This is what people said to one another, but no one had expressed the fact, only shared it as second-hand knowledge.

Juan knew all of these things about himself, yet he was incapable of remedying them. He fermented in his skin daily. He’d ask himself why it was that he was forgotten so quickly? He would listen to others stories, feeling rejection well within him.

He would eat lunch at the same café every afternoon. During this routine, he would torture himself by watching couples and groups walk past, sharing their days together, and he would imagine that he was looking out of their eyes, living their stories.

Juan had no stories. His were confined to books, which he quickly forgot the details of because the quality lay in reading the words and not in the re-telling, or so he said. The only ones he told were his stock stories, which he would perform when meeting new people. These were tried and true tales. Ones that guaranteed to make his impression a good one. These were much like stock photographs that come inside picture frames from the stores, which incidentally, Juan would put on display, lacking any of his own to put inside.

He could never tell them true things about his life. He didn’t even like telling himself about those.

How he was miserable, desperate for affection, though unable to give it. How he still cried at night when he remembered how his brother would punish him by smothering him with a pillow. Juan had become so accustomed to this treatment that he found if he could get a hand in with his head, he could use it to push in the plush and produce a tiny pocket of air to breathe in. Juan’s mother did not believe him when he told, even when he showed her the outline of his face, impressed on the underside of the pillow by his crying and panicked sweating.

Once when Juan and an old girlfriend had been play-fighting, she began to force his head down with a pillow, and he beat her so viciously that he blinded her left eye permanently. Juan could not recognise her face from his brothers, through the tears, bile and burst capillaries.

How was he to tell people these stories? Blinding somebody in a blind rage over being blinded by a pillow.

He’d never get past the gate. And once he was through, he’d be confined to the foyer. He would never be allowed into the show, private viewings were for the inner circle. Juan had never been in.

Despite being seen as affable, it was unspoken that he made others feel anxious, guarded even. It’s as if everyone wanted to think him charming but really wished he would leave.

This is how Juan felt when on empty evenings when he looked at photographs of nameless families on his mantle. This is how he felt when he would smother himself with his pillows, leaving the shadow of his face on the casing. This is how he felt when he could no longer leave his room, and no one came looking.

Juan felt that he no longer existed, that he was imagining himself. Someone would come searching for him if he existed, he thought. They knew his name, his face, but all else was left to speculation if anyone took the time to speculate.

When someone did come looking, for the late rent, they found Juan with a blue velvet cushion tied to his face with a polyester-leather belt, and the picture frames of strangers arranged around his body like a funeral procession. His face had welded to the fibres and the skin pulled free from his skull when it was removed. Juan was unmasked and proved to be empty and decaying.

Cheap Beachside Motel

I.

In my solitude should I be found wanting
Would you say that misery sits alone?
Accustomed to the habitual trading of skin
Grafted hand to cheek, to thigh
Tracing lines around the outer sides of faces
It’s grown tepid, the atmosphere scares
All memory of shared spaces
Chagrined smiles, pulling teeth
Evaporate in body heat
Held to feel the breeze caressed between
Your lungs do the same as mine
Let us share each exhalation

II.

Search to find that it exists on both sides
That tender ache for the interlocking islands of time
Melancholy brought you to a gentle acceptance of a life once known
Remembered with significant nostalgia
Photographs record a faceless exterior
Amongst raging kicks and the onslaught of images
Tired tired
Make amends though limited
Touch hands with severe militance
Afraid to brush lightly for fear of breaking
A kiss grazes the senses and leaves a mark
Of burnt out desires which warm still hearts
Lucky to catch fire with you

III.

A sea of letters, held by the adhesive muse
Holding the heart of a word smith in her lips
Planting gardens of novels in his heart
Many petalled page leaves across his skin
The inks all over him
Her fingers smudging edges
Penciling a sketch of his outline
A spoiled manuscript touched by many hands intertwining
Never to touch
It excites even when she is gone
Provides an outlet for song
A soft body to lean on
Let her hair fall around
Drowning doubts swimming through mouths
Adrift in a sea of sentenced nows
Weigh anchor
Announce a steady resting place amidst an onslaught of images
Frightening hallucinations and premonitions
Peaceful in arms
Her tenement of repair
When washed ashore she recovers the wreckage
Moored and forlorn
Fixed not forgotten
Blessed is the spoken mind traveling backwards through time
To collect scattered moments
Hello today, holy tomorrow, wholly together