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ICELESS CAVERNS

There’s a while to wait,

Pointless exercises, etc.

Yes: I showered,

I cleansed off dirt,

The dirt of the night,

The dirt and the sweat.

 

Will there be friends?

There may be one,

And associates.

Her associates have been halved,

Lost a few in the break up,

The break up we never saw coming,

A brutal bust up,

An extended affair,

So on.

 

Now it pains to see:

They know her,

She who brought the pain –

I hope she sees the same fate,

Knows the same pain,

But that will never be.

She’s the corrupter,

She corrupts,

Just like corruption is rife

In the banking sector.

 

Or will I be alone,

On stage, and alone.

There are some who don’t count,

There is one who never steps out ….

I never step out,

Here, I’m forced,

I forced it on myself.

 

They won’t listen ….

They don’t.

There’s much to discuss,

With jugs of beer,

Pints and pints.

 

They’ve seen it all,

They’ve never seen me ….

Maybe they know me

From another time,

Another realm.

Maybe they’ll mock

Based on my past persona.

Now, there’s confidence anew,

They don’t intimidate.

I sing out,

I offend family,

The family present.

 

The text’s embedded in stone,

Printed on white paper ….

Formerly blank paper.

I can’t change the words,

They’re known to few:

These few are blessed

And holy.

I offer no reward,

I receive no prize.

Sales bring no profit,

They offset losses ….

There are many losses –

There have been many losses.

A risk ….

A chance taken ….

A poor decision ….

 

It made my day,

You strung me along.

At length, you approved,

At this point I’d seen a light,

A green light was on,

It flashed fluorescent,

It said go. I faltered.

 

You took too long,

But still it came first.

I care not for details,

The printed word,

The written word:

It means all –

It stands for all.

Words spoken perish,

They fall into the ether,

Into the unknown.

 

Unknown crevices

Open onto labyrinths.

There are caves and caves,

In each cave a cauldron,

A witch holds the fort,

She chants:

We know her ghostly hymns,

We know it from great literature,

The greatest ….

Sonnets,

Prayers ….

 

We’ve lost hope,

We’re too far under.

Our path is blocked,

Boulders tumbled,

They tumbled after us.

There’s no safety line,

There’s no line to call.

I knew it all from the first,

We heard a gentle splash,

Then the great crash.

 

They’re alive in iceless caverns,

There’s no water, no life,

Yet we’re sustained:

They come from outside,

The outside surface –

We remember this surface fondly,

It once held us well.

Survival means celebrity,

We won’t avoid it,

We won’t seek it.

It will seek us,

Just as we were sought.

Mere children,

This should never have been ….

We’re known.

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FREEDOM IS ILLUSORY

It takes a moment,

Then, lift off.

It all lights up,

There are fires all around,

And acid bombs,

And fire crackers.

 

They’re bored,

They knocked it over:

The liquor store,

The row of lockers.

Delinquents, they say,

Future criminals, I say.

 

And then …. will I stay?

I have a choice!

I have a say:

Here, the administration is terrorised,

There, all of the above,

There, a new administration.

They couldn’t hack it,

They were too lenient.

On a first name basis,

Sexist …. apparently.

 

We judge based on sex,

The female’s the fairer,

The male oppresses ….

Except when he is terrorised.

Accept a plea bargain:

I’ve already served my time.

I ought to be released,

The land of the free won’t have it,

Won’t hear of it.

I’m held here illegally,

I’m ignored,

I’m forgotten.

I’m coloured,

Of the wrong race,

The wrong religion.

 

The criminal element,

I’m surrounded,

I see them not ….

I hear them.

They scream,

They scrape metal on metal,

They bang their fists on bars,

On hard cement walls.

Their arms protrude from the bars,

Their arms are free.

They make signs,

Hand signals,

Peace signs.

They’re not a peaceable lot:

I believe them all guilty,

I’m innocent.

 

I remain in my own quarters,

I feel safe here ….

I’m not at all safe.

Here, I can be cornered,

Entrapped,

Beaten to a pulp,

To within an inch of my life.

I can be raped:

All is permissible here,

Behind these walls.

The world is blind to us,

To our plight.

No one watches us,

Watches over us.

There are bibles here ….

There is no god.

 

Turn the lights on ….

Automatically they turn on,

Turn off,

Morning and night ….

Early evening.

We know not when the bell will toll ….

There’s no warning,

Only a swift hand ….

We don’t hear the flick of the switch,

There’s one switch from which we never return,

From which we never recover.

This is our fate ….

Not before we’re their guinea pigs,

Lab rats.

They’re psychopaths:

They attach this term to us.

We’ve all done nothing wrong,

So we say.

 

There’s a blast:

They break through the wall.

We’re political prisoners,

And the politics are wrong.

When the politics are wrong we take a stand,

We take to the stand.

We rile up the masses,

We’re revolutionaries,

We’re made of flesh and blood,

We bleed like the rest of them.

 

Rusted metal,

Cockroaches crawling all about.

We’re on starvation diets,

Cockroaches are a meal,

A delicacy.

 

But we know we’re well off,

We look to other creatures,

Creatures great and small.

They’re crammed in pens,

They’re unable to move.

They flutter about,

They’re driven insane.

We tear the fur from their living flesh,

Pluck their feathers.

We hear their screams,

We’ve grown immune.

We work for pay,

Then, we’re exposed.

 

And then one day I’m set free,

I stop thinking of the unfortunate,

I think of myself –

My freedom is illusory.

WHAT OF THURSDAY?

It took a week,

In a week I leave.

Time goes tumbling by,

It see-saws.

It’s motionless,

I’m forever in motion,

Slow motion,

I feel all at sea:

I’m lost at sea.

This was not part of the bargain,

I don’t wish to stand,

To stand before a seated crowd.

My face will frown,

I will repeatedly suffer.

I chose my fate ….

In a desperate state.

It appeared hopeless,

At length I had too much at stake,

I had too much good luck.

I will preach to nobody,

Nobody will be before me.

An embarrassment will take me,

An embarrassment I know well.

I’ve been here before,

In a previous life,

A previous time.

 

Just one. One only,

One will make the feathers fly.

Absent friends ….

Never friends.

It’s all too far,

All too much.

I made foolish efforts,

I showed endeavour:

I received none in return.

I’ve been bored,

Out of my comfort zone.

I’ll see you Tuesday:

They’ll all come Tuesday ….

What of Thursday, Friday ….

Friday, I’m fine.

What of Thursday?

We’ll wait and see.

Prying eyes –

Invite them from the other room.

 

I’m in an antechamber,

Don’t ask for a dress rehearsal.

Weddings are never spontaneous,

Always a rehearsal dinner.

What cost. What excess –

We understand true love.

True love makes time stand still,

It makes sparrows sing,

Bells chime.

True love blows on the wind:

It blows off,

It blows up.

Our faces are blackened:

We’re coal miners.

 

I’ll be indiscreet,

I’ll pronounce the secrets I’ve held.

In adjoining suites,

A knocking at the door.

I hear them next door,

What are they up to?

They’re living,

They’re being –

I am being somewhere else.

 

In a brewery,

A beer distillery.

There’s no secret here,

We all know how it’s made:

We make our own,

We sell illegally:

We’ve no license.

I drive unlicensed,

I live free.

They pull me over:

Have you been drinking?

Just a tipple.

Stand before the judge,

He’ll decide your fate.

Were you right or wrong?

You were present,

Ought to have taken the side road.

Dangerous U-turn ….

The oncoming traffic.

They’re all coupled,

All of her kind:

She’s alone.

She’ll come alone,

There’s a band about

Who could have come ….

She’ll come alone.

 

I’ve no freedom here,

They seek my execution.

The judge recommends hard labour,

I receive community service,

Several hours ….

Several hundred hours.

 

How did they choose my name?

Was it drawn from a hat?

Was it court ordered?

Was their hand forced?

My name served me well,

Now I’ve done away with it,

I’m done with it.

My gut guides me this way,

My gut is always in absentia.

Yet I feel its consequences,

I’m full of feed –

It refuses to exit.

Or else I starve,

My hunger pangs.

Hooks stick into me,

Into my shoulder blades,

My spine.

I’m hung up,

Then I’m strung up,

Then I’m left for dead.

My neck snaps:

I’m in two pieces.

MOTHER KILLERS, KILLER MOTHERS

Who would have thought?

The beginning came and went.

It all meant nothing,

And then, out of nowhere ….

They fought hard,

They’d luck on their side.

They went far,

They battled long ….

All for nothing,

They held their heads up:

The grand stage was daunting ….

They didn’t show it –

They went blow for blow,

They were hardened ….

For the final time.

Where will they be next time round?

Sitting on the sidelines,

In their armchairs.

There will be no armchair ride,

We now expect their arrival,

But then, our memories are short,

The cardboard cutouts knew all –

I feared them,

I grew sick with them.

I vomited all over,

For they need this extra cash.

Billions are never enough:

I vomit for it’s a hideous sight.

They ask me to leave:

I’m entrapped.

I can’t find the exit,

They say it’s near:

I can’t hear the outside world,

I occasionally see it.

With a shrug I steal,

I shove riches under my arms,

I do as they asked:

I step out.

The heat is blistering,

The summer hasn’t been warm ….

Warm enough,

It’s a terrible season:

Sweat stains under armpits,

Lift your arm above your head.

Odours grow stronger,

We reach the final end:

We thought we’d made it through,

The final hurdle: heat wave.

We all love the summer,

Loathe the warm air.

I question people’s morals,

I question their truths,

Their wicked, lying tongues:

We all long for long, cold winters.

 

And then, winter comes,

There’s snow,

There’s black ice,

There are strange constellations,

All hidden by black clouds.

There are souls a long time dead,

Dead by suicide,

I should have known him:

He’s a blood relation –

I understand his decision,

Fateful decision,

For I’ll one day go the same way,

One day soon,

Thoughts arrive daily.

I’ve drugs:

We top up and off.

We reach the upper limit,

We make a change.

We call for change:

New perspectives.

Mother killers,

Killer mothers.

There’s only one time,

One moment,

That a woman can strike:

She erred in motherhood,

She’ll pay the price,

Every night she prays:

There’s no god within a prison cell,

Oh, there’s a bible:

It’s passed through the hands of many,

Many guilty souls.

God knows the truth ….

He weeps the truth,

Yet he created all:

He created these wicked souls.

 

Flowers on the wrong site,

The wrong burial ground.

The plaque says another name,

I apparently showed no respect.

Flowers are for the living:

Dead flowers,

Dead flowers picked from home-grown gardens,

They’re weeds,

They’ll be disposed of,

The ground will be again clear.

This is not a place to sow seeds,

We want no apple tree here,

No apple cores:

Apple cores rot,

Bodies rot ….

Hence, we’re cremated,

Incinerated,

We learnt from the Jews,

We learnt from the nazis:

There are better ways to pay respects.

We follow their lead,

The dead are stuffed in.

We’re efficient:

We take pride in our efficiency.

Mass funerals,

Mass graves ….

Holes in walls,

Look for the name,

Pay the price ….

He abandoned you,

He flew the coop,

You remember the day,

Frantic calls were made,

He knew he’d be already gone:

Dead on arrival,

Dead forever more.

POSTMIDNIGHT HOURS

I require this space:

Several continents and plenty of seas.

The time’s always wrong,

The moment never arrives.

I’m always up before dawn,

It’s dark, the air frigid.

Soon, I’ll return,

Only a short stopover:

It will be years before a return,

This is normal.

 

I look them in the eye,

They appear contented.

Why then did I decide?

A day of nostalgia took me.

I rode on a wave of it,

I surfed epic, blue-grey waters.

I fell face first,

The sand softened my landing.

 

Warring tribes,

No family reunion here,

With drinks a flowing,

Until the postmidnight hours.

At that hour, there were two,

The others slept in peace.

It was unclear when it all stopped,

We heard heavy footfall.

Bumping into walls in the halls,

I’ll offer no farewell.

 

I see where she’s scattered,

Her ashes are no longer with us.

She’s shared amongst many,

It’s all most pointless.

I never said goodbye,

It was late, too late.

But I played my hand,

I showed something of compassion.

It was apparently appreciated,

I worry not:

I never shed a tear,

I never felt a great deal.

 

We apparently spent good times,

We spent times. I remember none.

I was with one who thought of herself,

Herself only:

Her condition’s worsened,

It worsening;

She’s dead. It could be worse:

There’s always worse.

 

She sought her death,

She sought another week,

For a proper adieu,

She made a promise,

Then, she let herself go,

Peacefully,

Somewhat insanely:

She saw lights.

Was it god’s hand?

God takes no one,

Satan doesn’t exist.

Purgatory is the earthly realm,

We live only for the end.

We age, slowly,

Too slowly.

Life takes a toll,

We long for death with

No complications,

The electric chair,

Lethal injection:

I’m on fire,

I sleep calmly,

Off to death I go.

 

‘This will be the last time’,

I won’t see you again.

There are photographs pinned up,

All around and around about.

It was a slow death,

It seems it’s always slow,

Slow and painful, for all,

We stand around and watch.

She deteriorates at her own pace,

They’ll call you when her time’s up,

When it’s near its end,

A courtesy call:

She can’t sit up,

She can’t eat.

She’ll survive it all,

She’ll pull though:

This was never an option,

See you soon. Don’t worry for me.

 

She’s with my love,

They sit on high, together.

They look down on me,

I hide my shame;

I hide it well,

They’ll never be any the wiser.

I imagine …. They remained here briefly,

I sensed their presence,

Then they went their own way,

They left me.

I begged them to take me,

I remained behind.

 

We sat around her,

Then she went off to her end:

Lethal injection,

I held her as she went,

As the lights went out,

‘She’s still warm’, she exclaimed ….

Because you don’t let her body go,

We dig a deep ditch,

Deep enough,

It’ll hold her

Through rainstorms and hail,

The land above begins to sink:

She’s rotting slowly away,

In truth, she’s alone.

I know this:

I have no beliefs.

I believe we turn to dust,

The flesh rots:

It falls from her bones ….

All that remains are dirtied bones.

THE CHIMINEA

Arrive at a certain hour but be late,

There will be much ado already.

They will have already flocked:

Now they’re breeding.

 

We arrive here; we never leave,

Some brave souls rule the roost:

Their voices are deep and manly:

They blot out the fine, feminine voices aplenty.

 

There are many here, all with their own words,

I used to have one: it’s gone to waste.

I was once known. I no longer have a say,

Come. Don’t come. You’re in the past.

 

Speak of my successor, the lucky sod,

I made him what he is, made him a legend.

Query upon query: what is it about over there?

Way out over yonder, across seven seas.

 

I couldn’t say: it’s not meant to be,

I was in high demand once, unusually.

I expected no recourse, no remorse,

I expected to endeavour, for no result.

 

There’s still more to come,

Call me when you’re free:

I’ll call you. We’ll discuss,

I’ll be a shining star there.

 

I’ll stand out in the crowd,

I’m the guest of honour ashamed.

All these people: the years have been hard,

The aged never change: I cling to them.

 

Tow the wreck out to sea,

I’m broken. I’ll be there soon.

Make no offering, no crystal goblet,

Here, we entertain, with yards and all.

 

A communal terrace: you’ll have privacy,

You’ve the keys …. now what?

There’s nowhere to sleep, nowhere to be ….

I spent fourteen hours upright ….

 

When I attempted to doze I became ill,

I closed my eyes and my head spun,

I opened them up. I called for ale:

The waitress just happened to be passing.

 

It becomes worse and worse,

Or else we complain and complain.

No more lunchtime siestas,

Only mockery of those in command.

 

She does it all: she offered me leave,

Don’t say a word: I could have returned.

Could there have been regret?

It it hadn’t come through …. perhaps.

 

They were wild times,

Early morning times.

I took his place,

He never resented.

 

He. He came out in support,

He sipped on a beer, very well done.

He never queries the reasoning ….

He drinks.

 

The wine ferments,

We dance on the grapes like fools.

On school days be prudent ….

Knee-jerk reaction.

 

It’s cold in many layers,

I can’t even count …. seven, eight.

The body falls in on itself,

It’s a sad sight: it’s life.

 

We bless the giving,

The giving, generous tree is blessed.

Don’t step on their toes in time,

Apologise, apologise: the young ones are here.

 

The new ones …. I’m a stranger,

Who is this strange girl?

What is this strange place?

It all makes sense in time.

 

Read out loud,

Sit around an open fire,

Its embers ….

Chiminea.

 

They pass out from boredom,

They see each other all day,

Every day is the same.

Some are absent. Some are gone.

 

No: I sleep until a certain hour,

Later in the day I tire.

They recommend fortitude,

I’ll never be over this dastardly change.

 

I was dried out,

They’ll put me on a ship,

We’ll set sail for home ….

All against my will.

 

Trees grow wild,

Large and overhanging.

Too much joviality,

I’m only here for a rest.

 

And I relax well,

I do nothing for myself,

Nothing at all.

I’ve a maid here: it’s grand.

 

I’ve never known a man with his name,

Yet he superseded me,

Gained a promotion ….

Perhaps I ought to open my eyes.

 

Come along or else be moved along,

She shielded me well, against the barrage.

There was one opening – you missed it,

There’s on-street parking …. save your oil spills.

ORGIES AND SUCH

And I hope she’s miserable,

I hope all’s gone wrong,

I hope she’ll be back:

I won’t see her.

 

She knew the game

From the start:

Her game,

I was a mere pawn.

 

It always takes one

A moment to untangle oneself.

I’m a fly in a web,

I struggle: I become more and more stuck.

 

A cup on the floor,

A mug …. soon a glass:

This is not my home ….

This was my home ….

 

It’s all outrageous:

It’s all business.

Phony outrage,

Not an amusing outrage.

 

An outrage, then an exit,

Sleep doesn’t come.

I thank the drugs,

The drugs that got me into a bind.

 

I merely ticked the wrong box,

I find your manners strange,

Strange and useless:

We’ll bring in what we will.

 

I want a twenty eight calibre

Shotgun: I’m stopped at the exit ….

The entry, in fact,

Right now I’m in a no man’s land.

 

No souls survive here,

No one takes any pity,

The air is sterile,

The lighting is fluorescent.

 

I knocked back a dream,

In a middle of nowhere town.

My efforts were wayward,

I ought to have been there.

 

A long way from home,

A long drive away.

A man with a false name,

An assumed name.

 

You know, no one can hear you,

Not from two miles away.

We change with the times,

It’s all digital now.

 

You died a slow death,

In agony, etc.

You’re unfaithful,

You’re analogue.

 

My watch is analogue,

I’m on guard duty.

We sleep in hour shifts,

We awaken confused.

 

I wonder where I am,

And why I can’t bring in a crowd.

I’m not from here:

I’ll bring in a crowd at home.

 

I’ll know no one in the crowd,

There’ll be well-wishers.

They’ll speak in positive tones,

At least there’ll be an audience.

 

I could never draw a crowd,

It was always me and the barman.

The barman always applauded,

Wondered why he’d opened his bar to me.

 

It was never unique,

I know the experience well.

I feel shame,

I am embarrassed.

 

There’s no need to hang around,

Everything’s been upgraded.

All the systems, etc,

I don’t know my way around.

 

Not anymore: I’m lost,

Go with him,

Don’t see me again:

We’re through.

 

Upon your success, return,

I’ll invite you.

I’ll ride on your coattails,

And you’re in a dress.

 

Your feminine figure is enchanting,

Your father sees this,

He knows that men will come a calling,

You’re sixteen: he’s five years older.

 

There will be ten or fifteen present,

There will be five, at length,

There will be much food ….

For ten or fifteen.

 

There will be wastage,

There will be giving.

There were parties out back,

In the crap shack.

 

There were sex parties,

Orgies, and such.

You were none the wiser,

But now you’re free of it.

 

You’re elsewhere,

Not where you belong.

All has changed ….

I’ve missed it all.