Friend

My friend’s a fool

A drag who hangs about

And wears a hat he likes to think is cool.

Given a different life I’d lay him out

But friends are friends,

And I’ve known him since school.

One time we sat

I saw the girls go by

Til Sid came by and said my friend was fat.

I must be dumb

Messed up inside my head

Cos I stood up and fought with Sid for that.

Another time

I saw a bloke outside

Who held my friend and kissed him on the lips.

I thought my mate

Who isn’t very bright

Was drunk again – he makes these kinds of slips.

But when I came to pull the men apart

I saw the feeling trembling in their eyes.

And it was only then I dropped the guise

And it was only then he broke my heart.

Jean 1

Chris was awake in the dead of night, his laptop propped before him casting cold white-blue light on his features, bringing to them a heavy shadow. He lay in his bed on one side, supported by his elbow. His short cut hair sat scruffy on his head, his eyes were undermarked with nocturnal rings. The dawn was two hours away. His attention skirted between first one webpage and then another, his eyes not dead, but glassy – they held that glimpse of distance normally seen on the faces of the enlightened or the dogmatists or the drugged. He wore a slack expression as his eyes tracked and tracked, the motion robotoic, lateral, his brain alive and at once soundless. The night was his thought. His memory was of and in the ceaseless catalogue of images that had gone before him all aswirl with their supernormal colours and hypnotic tactics.

Behind his back, also in the bed, was Jean, who slept with absolute stillness, no lazy kicks or heavy sighs or disruptions. Her face was motionless, young, her features statuesque, austere. Her dream of Chris resolved as follows:

Chris rolls over and nudges her awake, lust in his eyes. Only hunger, and she’s struggling. Then the situation shifts and she is alone in a space, a white chamber of marble set with gold portraits. She dreams Chris and –

God –” she breathes. His his eyes…”

And his skull held two black pits, still awash with the cold light from the screen, the inside of his head now bathed in that light that had held his gaze so many nights.

She woke. Chris did not roll over, and he would not. She betrayed herself and stayed as she had been – motionless, aside from a slight movement beneath the eyes as her inner cognition amused itself through her generous sleep. 

Vacancy

Hermes: I don’t think it’s worth applying for, Alan.

Alan: Hmm?

Hermes: It’s not worth applying for it mate.

Alan: Why not?

Hermes: Well for a start look at the application form. It’s a fucking labyrinthine mess – Theseus couldn’t figure this thing out. What’s this section here?

Alan: That’s where you put your date of birth.

Hermes: Are you sure?

Alan: Pretty sure.

Hermes: Then what’s that green symbol for?

Alan: The one with the goat’s head and the inverted pentagram?

Hermes: No, this – here.

Alan: Oh. No clue man.

Hermes: You see what I mean? They honestly only want experts – they only want people who know the bureaucratic lingo shit to apply. Know what I mean? I mean this – this frankly is Greek to me.

Alan: That actually is Greek I think.

Hermes: Exactly. It’s Greek to me, and it’s in Greek, which doesn’t help. And what’s this bit? It’s just–

Alan: Would you stop being so negative? I know it’s hard work but I need to be doing something. I need to go for something, even if it is… even if it’s only…

Hermes: You can’t even remember what you’re applying for mate.

Alan: Would you just screw off, Hermes – it’s too many of these damned forms. I’m starting to know how Plato felt.

Hermes: What?

Alan: Never mind, never mind. The point is, this is worth applying for because at least it’s something. 

Hermes: But look at the job description and person specification: “We require a clown (preferably one-legged) with experience with children and animals to fill a vacancy at our hospice. Ideal candidates will have heterochromia iridium, a working knowledge of homoeopathy and no sense of humour.” You barely fulfil half of the essential criteria, and almost none of the desirable criteria. I’m not telling you this because I’m being negative sweetheart, I’m telling you because I honestly don’t think you’re right for the job. What’s more, whilst the pay is actually pretty good, nothing is worth this fucking application form.

Alan: Hmm.

Hermes: I mean even if it were your dream job I’d be sceptical.

Alan: Hmm.

Hermes: Hey – you know what? You could always come work with me.

Alan: That’s nice of you honey, but Olympus is a bit of a trek for me.

Hermes: Oh, yeah. I suppose. Sorry – I forget about your uh. Your um.

Alan: Mortality?

Hermes: Yeah.

Alan: It’s okay. Anyway I’m not working with Dionysus again.

Hermes: Hah.

Alan: I mean Jesus Christ.

Entity

Blue-green sharklike entity quivers atop the sky. Miles long, clothed in sky, kept up kite-high it hovers in asymmetry. It peers down on boy and girl. The boy’s look is an ancestral gaze, his grandfather’s bones in the whites of his eyes. He is eight, with tender hands unwashed, his time still set by adult lock & key, his face is mucky and he stands gazing up from the garden which seems, from above, just one square among many in the geometric puzzle of his neighbourhood. His infant heart yearns for something, some kind of contact. She, ten, gazes with red passion, wonder and misapprehension brewing behind her squint.

Her kid cognition brings assessment to an inconclusive finality – this is utter mystery. If it is a plane it is a very big and a close one. If it is a cloud it is a scary one and the wrong colour. She continues to stare. She thinks Rainbow. She wonders.

He has been looking from the sky-thing to her, searching for confirmation, for clues of how to act. He is perhaps still too unknowing to see the blue-green entity above as anything other than brief visual novelty. The gargantuan translucent flukes ripple in emerald. Its motion was hard  – it both swam and flew, creeping amidst corridors of cloud, pulling curving air-scars behind it like jet streams. The boy let his nose run whilst his sun hot cheeks scrunched in the midday light.

A tall woman with black hair bound back in a high ponytail comes out calling to the children, one hand pocketed, the other cradling a bright yellow beaker. She sees their craned necks, the girl’s unmoving stare, and she looks up and sees it. Panic raw like pain, startled inhuman noise in no language and yet universally understood to convey horror as she races for her young, grabs them about the shoulders. Her movements slow as she takes in the entity, its fins and spires bristling along its length. It defies her sense, her adult logic solid and brittle – cracked by the impossible mass above, which, serpentine yet segmented, creeps ever onward with incalculable rhythms contorting it. The sky is dwarfed by it. She crouches by the boy and the girl and fails to comprehend, tears already forming at the corners of her vision, nothing quelling her fear and awe, her composure crumbling.

Looking down, the sky beast thinks in contours fathomless to earthly minds. It considers the carbon creatures based below, grounded by their time, their atoms, their fears. Its black and orange eyes hazard reality and shy away.

 

Memory

Still I’ve tried to call it all back, despite the weight of years. Farms, hills. Landscapes the age of grandfathers beneath the cloud-torn sky, views across the turbulent woods that would interrupt your breath for a moment as you walked barefoot home. Summer and the heat of the sun, the giddy afternoons with brothers and sisters. Winter and the warmth of kin. Imagine it.

Party at Zeno’s

Jazz beats hop and eyes wink as you enter, around you hats and waiters tipped cheekily as the ensemble swing, the boys and girls pair off to dance whilst the older folks enjoy a drink at the bar, though you’re lost for the time being in the sparkling eyes of the singer, whose croons are wordless in the mess of the scene. You poise at the bar, tap a foot to the beat whilst waiting for the bartender to bring you something sweet to fit the mood – no beer & whiskey blues for you tonight – and as you do, you notice a woman with chandelier earrings and a man in a white suit beside her, and they both dazzle you with their smiles.

You smile back, all affection for now, but you don’t know these glittering beasts; it’s after ten and you didn’t come here to make friends. They approach you directly, making a beeline, passing straight through the people who flutter around the place as though they were fog. It’s too late to look away, they’re here and they introduce themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Dead and you smile and nod your head. You tell them your name, highly conscious of how gorgeous they appear compared to your comparatively mortal looks. They begin to talk.

“You’re new here, aren’t you?” the man says, swilling something clear and precious in his glass.

You admit that you are.

“We own the place,” the woman says, her smile telling nothing.

You begin to wonder about this pale pair. The band have just finished their song and you incline your head slightly to view – past the evening-bare shoulder of Mrs. Dead – the singer, who picks up a tambourine ready for the next song. You tighten your jaw and return focus to your new friends the Deads, who, it seems, saw your gaze ramble.

“Good, aren’t they?” says the man. His eyes are shark grey. You feel as if your vision is milking over.

It’s getting late, you mention, and you’ve just about finished your drink. They do not reply.

The woman’s eyes have the hue of a summer cloud. And you stand there, waiters and dancers all gone to you now, all sound stopped, the motion of bodies around you only a dispassionate rush composed of faces and limbs, the floor, walls and ceiling now truly gruesome, the four eyes of the pair in front of you empty, the glass tumbler cold in your absent hand, the speakers soundless, the singer voiceless and the lights illuminating nothing, all alcohol frozen in the blood, all conversations silent, human beings just a fresco about you. And you stand there.