The Mural

“Ok, Cal. Up, Up, Up.”
Dad was clapping his hands around my head. He grabbed the edge of the duvet and ripped it from my body like a stuck bandaid. My body was dislocated in space and time, what year was it? Yellow spunk gunk stuck my eyelids.
“Up and at ‘em!” He picked up two large cans of paint and smashed them together in front of my face.
“No.”
“Get up!” He banged the cans again.
“What if I was naked. This is my room. I’m sleeping.”
“This is actually my room. My money, my house, kiddo. And I’ve already seen your dick. I wasn’t impressed, Cal. Got it from your mother, no doubt.”
“Gross dad. You pervert.” I trailed off, “It’s big ‘nuf.”
“I’ve touched it too! And wiped your ass.” He pressed his nose to mine, “Out of bed.”
“It’s still daytime.”
“What?”
“You. Get. Out.”
Dad grabbed my guitar and started singing an old country song that I hated.
Something, something, whisky. Something, something, my girl back home.
I pulled the pillow over my head and screamed into the underside.
Dad sat on my stomach and pushed his weight up and down.
“Oh…uh…K…uh…da..ad…ah…sto..p”
He stood and strummed a huge open E chord on the guitar, and put it back on the stand.
“Yes. Alright. I get it. Up, up, up.” I rolled out of bed, edging my way across the room slug style to pick up my prosthetic.
“I got a surprise for you.”
“Yipee.”
“Come on, you’ll love it, my lil songbird.”
“Don’t call me that, Dad.”
“You love it.”
“Really?”
“Really.”

Dad took me round the side of the house, where there was a scaffold set up, paint rollers, and more cans of paint.
Across the wall there was an outline of a mural.
On the left, a Tui puffed his chest out with spread wings and beak open singing to the sky. In it’s claws he had a huge limp eel, trapped in a vice grip. A creek, our creek, ran from the left to the right and the weeping willow stood in the distance beside it.
“Surprise.” Dad stretched his arms out, doing jazz hands. His face the picture of expectation. “Well?”
“Well?” I looked at him, expressionless.
“Well! We’re painting this thing. Today I was up all night doing the outline and getting yelled at by your mother to come inside. What’d ya think?”
“It’s great, Dad.”
“Gee. That all?”
I didn’t know how to express myself to him clearly enough. Maybe I was afraid that if I started speaking I would start crying.
He looked at me with that knowing look. Eyebrows slightly raised and a slight asymmetrical grin built on understanding.
“Let’s get to it then.”

Visions of Monet

Are people looking at me strangely
Or is it only my eyes
I like to make strangers of my friends
Recalling only faceless people with indeterminate outlines
I have visions of Monet
Vivid and emotive yet nondescript
Where I don’t remember any details
The twitch in the top corner of your lip
A hook tooth grin from the man selling ice cream cones
or cup
Out the back of a dirty van
We question the sanitation but not our sanity
Buying two soft serves each
One dipped to wear melted chocolate waistcoat
The other with questionably coloured sprinkles and crushed peanuts
You joke that they should offer a meat shavings topping
Or skin flakes from the sunburned beachers backs
We know the white slop contains ground up chicken feet
We don’t speak of that
It was only a rumour everyone on the sand talked of
When you come across cartilage you spit it out discreetly
Fearing the embarrassment of something that isn’t your fault
It rained and we jumped on the bus
In my mind we were dancing on the roof and the driver shouted like Our mothers when we did the same in our beds
I hold dear these fabrications of mine
Of us amidst some frolicking fabric fantasy
Under the sheets with my heart jumping
We did not jump though
Sitting at the fingerprint window
In front of the obnoxious back door
That kicks the seat swinging open
Where the heater rests underneath
Above us a persistent leak
Drops fell onto your head and you put out your tongue
To taste aluminium shavings and not worry about metal poisoning
The bars under the seat around the heater heat scalding
The number of times I’ve left the skin of my calf behind
Goes unnumbered yet still I persist in taking tally
I swear some skin is left behind
Sticking to the slightly rusted stainless steel piping
That feels breakable if I was one of those sushi stuffed sumos
Now we know why no one sits here
A slow torture comprising a torrent of stale gutter water
With a side of burnt leg hairs
I wonder how you remember this day
Would our stories be the same similar in detail
A facsimile or facade
Nameless friend
I have visions of Monet
Though now you and I dance a waltz to Satie
I read you O’Hara and my favourite parts of Walden over mulled wines midwinter
You dance along the living room carpet for me
Edgar gets his canvas and oils to cast you in one of his immortal performances
Colouring you with pinks though you hate to feel beautiful
Colouring you with youth though you scorn it
Colouring you with all the nuances of your dance you never see
I’ve worked to paint the stock-pile of my mind
To accurately depict once befores
They have no borders only the acid wash of ill-prepared preservation
I’ve scraped the layers to fall away like discarded scales from some luminescent sphinx
I can not discern ordepictt the scenes now
Left with a growing pile of destroyed art
Laughing about the frailty of my remembering

An Unimpeded View of The Distance

**Written for my sister’s wedding**

I wish you both an unimpeded view of the distance
That you will both become a muse for one another
Amuse one another
Do so much for one another
That you become one
Lost without the other

Every morning will you wake next to inspiration
where there is only one side of the bed
Name it your shared space
Where the night before you built tiny word mountains 
In the creases of the pillow cases
And these words start to mean the world
And shape your sleep
And you become solaced in dreams which are there when you’re together

There will be moments too large
complicated
convoluted
contrived
To be wholly a part of
So decide now to share the burden between the two of you
Then unknowingly agree to forget half of the half you were in charge of
And then argue over the minute inconsequential details you both forget

It’s really no ones fault

You’ll find a way to blame one or other of your brothers or mothers or fathers

But before that
In the morning muttering into the bottom of an empty coffee mug
Playing out the matted images masticating in your mind

You realise you were wrong

At breakfast feeling sorry about it all you wrap your arms around them
From behind while they sit at the table
You kiss the top of their head
Rest your hand atop their shoulder for a while longer than you normally would Letting them know what’s on your mind without useless words of explanation

They understand
They understand like those times when
Somebody is saying something
questionable
moronic
sardonic
et. al
On and on at a dinner party
You both shoot sideways eye glances to one another
One out the left eye 
The other out the right eye
You realise you’ve obtained a telepathy granted only by the most deep set love
The corners of both your mouths turn upwards
On the same side as your sideways eye glancing

And you get home later and laugh fits about it
And for many years after
And you wrap your arms around them from behind as they stand at the kitchen counter looking into the sink for no particular reason

They turn to hold you and you look up at them looking down
before getting told to brush your teeth
Because you ate the seafood platter that night
It’s pong is pungent flowing like effluent waste
Straight to the sea of your downturned face
But you say it in less words and more like a reeling grimace
The gag catching in your throat
More like holy shit

You yell after them
‘Don’t leave the water running when you’re brushing because you know that annoys me and the water bill has been steadily increasing’

They’ll laugh 
Walk out of the room
Flip you off 
Then pull a face that says
‘You better shut the hell up because I still love you
But maybe not in five minutes if you keep on like that’

You’ll throw your hands up despairingly
‘Woe is me I’m only thinking about the utility bill’

Maybe you both fall asleep silently that night
But I pray that you wake next to inspiration
Where the morning is new and the scents are more akin to freshly mown fields Heavy with dew and not a garlic laden seafood stew

At breakfast you go and you wrap your arms around them from behind
Rest a while with your head on theirs
Content that they are there

I wish you an unimpeded view of the distance

Falling For Fiction

If you’ve been on your own for over a year
You’ll know what it’s like to fall in love
Every week with a different he or she
When it’s especially bad
It’s twice a week
Including faces on the TV and character descriptions in fiction
You hunt through for sex scenes and symbols to vicariously exist in
On the edges of madness
Stir crazy threatening mutiny
Your sanity and friends having deserted you
The only crew you have left are
Crew cut t-shirts and crew cut hair-styles
And you don’t really know what crew cut means
But the shirt fits
The hair is tidy
There’s no one to dress up for
The mirror agrees
You don’t like it when the mirror talks back though
You’d prefer another face to appear over your shoulder to straighten your collar
Leaving a lip graze on your necklace
You’ll constantly check over that shoulder waiting for a face to materialise
Waiting for somebody else to watch your back for you
Hello?
You’ll whisper and silence
I don’t know any more you’ll say
Tripping from craning your neck
To see your shoulder blades
Tight from slumping over the desk
You imagine writing letters
Romantic letters
Not just letters but words
Poetry
Time immortal
Immortal beloveds
Ink is not so precious now you’ll think
Because I only need to write
I
Not we nor us nor you nor ours
Postage is cheap
Supplies are scarcely needed
You fall in love twice a week with your TV
With an imaginary life-sized life
We will have two dogs
A paddock to lay picnics out
Under the willow
They’ll laugh and brush away leaves from your lap rustled from the tree
You feign to pull away mocking indignation at being mothered
Don’t smother me you’ll say
Then realise you’re sat inside your head eye delusions
Grandeur
Wanting to swallow poison
Bury your head inside of books in place of the oven
Drown in pages instead of the bathtub
Slash your expectations and decapitate the monster of self-fulfilment
To die for love is not romantic
Love is romantic
Life is lonely

On Opposite Sides Of The Room

If the haze could cover the shadow of my trembling
I would tremble through the body and not be ashamed

A silhouette now marks the frame
A silver gilded ghost to her haunting
And the seconds are marked with days

A finger sown pantomime show
All of my bones exposed
All of my flesh resolved to decompose
All cold spaces and vacancies

Though inside I reconcile the trembling
Saying that the shadow disguises my crumbling for bending
That tripping’s just a metaphor when I’m small enough to crawl
Into the hide space in the walls of my secret room
The walls that know all of the secrets I trust it to keep

What will I resolve with no dreams left of a life lived by my side?
Whose hand was it that gripped another’s under the table?
The same that traced lines around silk embroidery and porcelain
Ignoring plastic eyes that glazed over silent and agitated
A knowing look to write pages
Whose body was that?

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

A Ballet

“It’s like, at this time of the night there isn’t as much interference. Other people’s thoughts and minds aren’t clogging up the air space. You know what I mean?”

We’d gotten into the habit of walking home together after work, talking for twenty minutes and finally getting somewhere. We would really be talking, then we’d reach her house.
I’d say goodbye, lingering that few extra seconds I knew she noticed, and wanted her to notice, but neither of us would ever acknowledge.
My house was still another forty-five minutes away, every other night I would catch the bus. Sunday was our day for walking.
I had that forty-five minutes to continue the conversation inside, mumble regrets, and imagine what the night could have become had I hugged her.
In my mind, our conversation flows through the evening. We’d manoeuvre the initial awkwardness and then speak freely.
I imagine it every night after we say goodbye.
It’s no matter, though. I don’t need company. Missing people isn’t a problem. It’s only when I want someone specific.
With her it was specific.

“I’ve always wanted to go see the ballet, but I’ve never had anyone to go with. I don’t really want to go by myself, you know? I’d like to go with a group of friends or something. But, no one will want to go.”
“I’ve always wanted to go, we should go, yea? We could ask Nyla as well. It would be fun, make a night of it. Dress up all fancy-like.”
“Really? That could be good.”

We never went to the ballet. I never bought it up again. We both knew that we wouldn’t go. It was one of those conversations you have to fill time. It’s like talking about what technology will be like in the future, we might never see it, but it fulfills something just to toy with the idea.
I should have asked her again. More regrets.
It could have played out like The Nutcracker, but instead I walked home with the combined sound of Shostakovich’s Eighth Quartet, Schoenberg composing beside me, and Coltrane improvising during his free period.

“Hey, are you walking home tonight?”
“Oh. Yea, no. I’m sorry, I’m meeting somebody for a drink. Next week, we’re back on like normal”
“Ok. See you.”

She smiled when she said that. There was no walk the next week. Or the week after that. Or ever again.
I couldn’t take it. I quit. Working there was a reminder that at 4 am I would be lonely and unable to sleep.
They went to the ballet. Of course they went to the ballet. He asked her. Of course he asked her.
Evolution was at work. Not my evolution, though.

“Hey, long time. You’re looking well.”
“Yea, you too.”
“Hows things? You kind of just disappeared on us, huh?
“Yea. I needed it. A change.”
“That’s cool, I guess. Well, I’ll see you around then?”
“Yea, of course. See you.”

I didn’t see her again. Better said, I never let myself see her again. We passed on the street once, but she was with him, and so I tucked my chin into my chest and pretended to button my shirt cuff. I went to the ballet alone.