#39: Bright and Shiny Icarus

His twisted body a weird form of beautiful and gruesome. We are silent. He has dropped from the sky and now lays at our feet, dead. For a moment we try to remember the meaning behind what he was doing, the importance. But it is difficult, for the wings, what remain of them, are so wonderful. Soft, strong, brilliant. They quietly invite you to reach out and stroke them. Under the tips of your fingers they are feathery, smooth, gently yielding. We try to remember the meaning, but in the beauty of the wings all is forgotten.

#38: Are You Being Served

They came en-masse. Old, wornout, young; male, female, other; sane, insane, unassessed. Piss shit garbage clung to them, marked them as Other. A large quiet group walking in the mall. A school of grimy sardines they turned, and entered Jones’ Department Store.

They split up. They looked wonderingly at brushes; frowned in confusion at clothes; poked dirty fingers at shoe soles.

A young manager approached a knot of them. They were admiring an alpine outfit, Ready For Winter 2014.

He cleared his throat, paused. “May I help you?”

A man turned, shook his head. “No, we’re just browsing.”

#37: Book Cover

I pick up the book and look at the cover. On it there is a photo of you. You are naked, reclining, propped on your elbows. Toward the viewer are your feet, thighs, hips. From between your thighs your bare sex extends, gouging up over your lower abdomen, running up toward your breasts. It is puckered, lurid, and wanton. I hide the book under the table for the image is something the sky should not look down on. Later we swim in thick blue waters that tremble like oil. Shoals of silver fish glimmer beneath the surface, asphyxiating.

#36: Elly

She stood on the doorstep, crying for parents brother safety. She’d walked past every bunkhouse where women and girls slept, and knocked on my door. I looked at the teddy in her hand, tears on her face, and called her into the bunkhouse where I alone slept. In darkness she crossed to a bed and climbed in. I stared for a moment, listened to wind and rain, asked if she was warm. I got into bed and drew the covers tight, falling asleep to prayers in the dark. Of all the bunkhouses she chose mine.

#35: Derek

the ones who scream they’ll kill you never do

so i wonder, after all these years, will you scream at the door an audible barrier to your house will you scream that you will stick slice cut me

or will you let me in stare at me disbelieving, wondering what the hell am i doing on your doorstep wondering what connection we made all those years earlier when your mum used to steal your shoes to keep you home (and it failed) and i would read the London papers wondering if you were dead or, depending, worse still alive

#34: Day Job

We finished robbing the grave by late afternoon. We pulled the gold teeth with old pliers and sold to a merchant on Degraves. The eyes we sold to a mute woman at the market. The liver and kidney were salvageable; in the basement of Lord’s Mercy we got cash from a doctor whose hands shook uncontrollably. At the end of the day we retired to a dark bar by the river, to smoke and forget about the following day for a while.

When I got home she half-asked how my day had been. “Same old same old,” I half-replied.

#33: Tennyson

In the dark of the deep water my body arches. A dull thudding vibrates my body and around me the water is gelid. The taste in my mouth is metallic. I spin angrily desperately. My back arches, like a dolphins, and I breathe in silent agony. Straining I thrash, a moment’s effort. The rise in me subsides momentarily and I drift back to the thick debris of deepest water. A false calm engulfs me. Then my blood rises again and I can feel surging. I am desperate for air and so rise to the surface, a slick desperate animal, gasping for breath. And in rising I die.

#32: Steve Christ

him? yeah, he’s my big brother yeah no not many people do what? yeah he’s the success of the family yeah if you are into that sort of thing I guess hey – can I get another here? yeah he was destined to be big so no surprise thanks ah look if that’s what people need then I guess that’s fine you know I don’t have strong feelings about it one way or the other what? me? God no no no interest at all happy anonymity let history forget me mmm anyway it’ll make for a better story

#31: Day trip

Your fingers weave quiet incantations. You move closer than is normal. You are a witch, pint sized and dangerous. You belong to some other; some dark world that is both more free and more endangered than anything the rest of us know.

You are open and questioning as you loom over the corpse. Curiosity and sorrow flickers over your face and I am surprised to discover that I recognise the emotion.

For a moment you are simply a little girl looking at a dead cat, but then another child speaks and the spell is broken.

#30: Stating the obvious

He walked into the store, down the dairy aisle, grabbed some milk, paid. Returning to his car he unlocked the door, climbed in, started it. He drove home through the hills. He swung into the gravel drive and stopped. He cut the engine, grabbed the milk, climbed out.

The kitchen door was open. He crossed to it and stepped inside. Some deer were inside, eating lunch. They stared back, silent. After a few minutes he spoke.

“What are you deer doing in my house?”

A buck considered him quietly. “What do you think we’re doing in your house?”

#29: Fishing

“What sort are they?”

“Mullet.”

We watch the water. It is still in the early light beneath a clear sky tinged with gold.

“There they go.” We watch as fish after fish leaps from the water, crashing down with a thumping boom. After a few moments all is still.

“What are they doing?”

“Booming.”

“Why?”

“No one knows. For feeding. For breeding. Maybe for fun.”

We drift across the lake. My eyes never leave the surface, waiting for the next eruption.

I don’t tell him how much I like it here. And he doesn’t ask.

#28: Noli me tangere

Your body twists weightless, and you drift deeper into the depths. Air lights you, small bright jewels that adorn your blue skin. Your eyes are closed. You could be sleeping. I reach out to touch you, but withdraw. You are perfect and I cannot sully you with the grimness of contact. Mouthy fishes from the blue black water rise to admire you, dart away as you slowly spin. I follow the line your upraised hand traces in the water as you sink. You are beautiful and untouchable and I follow at a respectful distance, warning off the fish.