Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Altercation - 2


His thoughts were dark as he stood before the gates. There was something ominous in returning to the scene of the crime. Yet, he was driven by an urge that seemingly arrived out of nowhere, and even now, standing where he was and allowing second thoughts to enter his mind, he knew that he had to go on. It was what the counsellor called, “dealing with it.”
            He clambered over the gates, conscious that his attire wasn’t exactly conducive to this being a social visit. He doubted that dressed as he was in black and with a battered and bruised face, he could convince anyone that he actually worked here. Nevertheless, once over, there was really no going back. He trundled into the main playground, feeling somewhat like a trespasser. The school’s deathly quiet didn’t help to disperse that feeling. If anything, the emptiness and the bitter cold only exacerbated his paranoia… and the events of last Tuesday made him flinch at every noise.
            “You’re letting it get to you!” his mind whispered. Silence answered; stony, dead silence.
            The world was cold. The wind was howling through the eaves, howling through the skeletal trees. It was the lazy wind Toantown prided itself on, the sort of wind that didn’t bother blowing around you, but rather, it went through you. This it did now, despite the thickness of Jim’s coat. It cut like scythes, teasing tears from his eyes, causing the hairs on his scalp to prickle.
            Before he knew it, he was crossing the main quadrangle, his leather loafers scraping exaggeratedly loud on the cracked grey concrete. Every footfall rebounded around the enclosed space, surrounded on three sides by classrooms and the fourth by the toilet block and canteen complex. Above, the sky was the colour of slate and darkening, so it seemed, by the minute.
            He ran up the stairs leading to the second level, taking the steps two at a time. The new rush of blood alleviated the cold somewhat and distracted his mind, if only temporarily. It wasn’t until he had reached his destination that he realised that he had been on autopilot. And straight after that, having turned his pockets inside out, he realised another serious flaw in whatever plan was hatching inside his head. His copy of the English staff room keys were even now glinting in the shadows on his desk.
            Jim swallowed, still catching his breath from the dash upstairs.
            “What now?” he asked himself. He leaned his back against the door, peering over the balcony and over the front quadrangle to the main road and the gates he had jumped over. “Home?” he wondered, but shook his head.
            The word entered his head, a demented jingle that could have sold anyone in the world at this moment, but not Jim, standing chilled and bruised and somewhat paranoid outside of his staff room. Already, his eyes darted to the far right of the large concrete quadrangle. Past the dilapidated basketball ring, with the hoop that was bent almost to the vertical, past the faded hopscotch court that was about twenty years overdue a touching up… past even the cutesy nineteen-eighties murals splattered on the canteen wall. Between the luridly painted canteen and the toilet block, the tiny corridor, like an oblong gaping maw, drew Jim’s undivided attention.
            Here there be dragons
            He suddenly became aware of an itchy sensation down his sides, and the slick of sweat over his back and chest. His left eye twitched, his mouth dried out, felt as if he had been eating leather for the last five hours. Even his hands, secure in his pockets, were fidgeting.
            Through the tunnel, he knew, was the lower quadrangle, which separated the English, History and Social Science Departments from the Science Laboratories, the Workshops and the Art Rooms. At the far end of this quadrangle, leading out towards the back ovals, was the Metal Workshop. And it was there that Jim had received his working over…
            He touched the right side of his face, where the stitches wound like a snake, covered in thin strips of adhesive tape. From here, he traced the dark smudges along his cheeks, on both sides of his face, before sneaking a hand around the back of his head, finding the tender bulbous swelling lurking underneath a carpet of unkempt hair. Last night, he had counted into the twenties all the bruises he could see on his ribs, arms and chest… he was dead certain there were more on his back.
            Through the tunnel, was where his pain originated. Through the tunnel, would be memories. Memories, pain, salvation; damnation. He didn’t want to go down there, but knew that he had to. Therapy. He had to “face his fears.”  He had to “regain control of his life.”  Call it any cliché you want; Jim knew that his life depended on the actions he was to take in the next few minutes.
            He stepped away from the door, leant over the balcony rail, glared at the maw that threatened him so. An image leapt unbidden in his mind. He was leaning against Andy Johnson, his face bloody, the world spinning uncontrollably around him. One hand, smeared with blood, reached out and pressed on the brickwork…
            Jim closed his eyes for a second and reopened them. Had that happened?  If it did, then the proof would be on the wall…
            It took longer to go down the stairs than up them, Jim’s loafers scuffling on the rough concrete steps, echoing loudly in the stairwell. On the lower level, the corridor looked much larger and somehow darker. But Jim, grim faced, ignored the jittery sensations in his guts. He crossed the quadrangle with purposeful steps, and just before the corridor, stopped.
            His handprint, or more correctly, his fingerprints, were still on the wall, smeared in blood that was now a dark shade of brown. “Fuck me,” Jim muttered, holding his hand out over the bloody replica on the wall. He held it thus for some time, before lowering it, his eyes roving down the narrow corridor, like the neck of a concrete and brick womb, opening out into the next open chamber.
            He followed the corridor out into the lower quadrangle, suddenly feeling dread of memories coming to the surface. He stopped, closed his eyes for no more than two seconds…
            Sounds. Children… the smells of cooked fries from the canteen. Loud music coming from the music room upstairs: drums, bass and guitars, making a sweet cacophony. In the far corner, that closest to the Metal Workshop, there is three bench seats. Standing on one of the bench seats is Lachlan Murray, from year eleven, dressed in a black jacket over a black tee-shirt, a pair of jeans and dark beanie. Across from him, is Benny Gooding, dressed almost exactly the same. The two of them are yelling at each other, and anyone else within earshot. Around them, dressed so similarly that that might have well been their uniform, was Lachlan’s “gang.”  There were about six of them, skulking about with sombre, stoned looks on their faces, standing nearly knee deep in rubbish from a kicked over rubbish bin. The bin, with a massive dent in it, lies neglected some four or five metres away.
            Jim walks towards them, unsure suddenly if it wouldn’t be easier to simply ignore the rubbish and the carrying’s on of the year eleven boys. But even before his mind is made up, he is giving the instructions, being the teacher.
            “Boys, you’ll have to clean up this area.”
            “Huh?” a derisive snort. Benny Gooding, arms folded over his chest, offering challenge.
            “You’ll have to…”
            “I heard what you said, Hallaron,” Lachlan interrupted. He jumped down off the seat, right into the middle of the rubbish. “But I’ll be fucked if I’m gonna do it.”
            Jim drew a sharp, whistling breath, and let it out slowly. “Either you clean up the area, or I’ll see you this afternoon for detention…”
            “Are you threatening me?” Lachlan offered.
            “Are you threatening us?” Benny added, still perched on the bench seat.
            Around him, the “gang,” nothing more than whipping boy puppets, milled about, toeing the ground with their thick-heeled boots. If it weren’t for Benny and Lachlan, the area would have been cleaned up by now. But no; these kids were only just starting.
            “Are you threatening me, you dumb fuck!” Lachlan stepped forward so that his face was inches from Jim’s and that when the word “fuck” was said, flecks of spittle accompanied it. He was close enough for Jim to see bloodshot eyes. Close enough to smell the pungent essence of dope, which hung like a pall around the young man.
            “You’ve been smoking, haven’t you?”
            A malevolent sneer slid over Lachlan’s features.
            “Fuck off, Hallaron, before I punch you in the fucking head.”
            “What did you say?”
            “You heard what I said.”
            “You heard what he said,” Benny echoed.
            Jim glanced up at Benny briefly, then around at the other boys. “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that, Lachlan. You’ve got three minutes until I get back here. If you haven’t cleaned up this area… there’ll be trouble.”
            “Ooo-ooo-ooh!  Talking big are we?” Lachlan sneered. “Shove off then. Dumb fucking…”
            Jim turned to go, turning his back on Lachlan’s parting words, which was probably the biggest mistake of his life. He barely heard the end of the angry retort, or the shuffle of boots on the concrete. He barely had time to even flinch as the shadow suddenly loomed over him. Then there was pain and blinding flashes of rainbow coloured light. He staggered forward, clutching the back of his head, where already there was a lump bursting through his hair.
            “What the…?” was all he managed, before seeing Lachlan coming at him through a film of tears.
            He had both fists raised like a fighter, protecting his face and throat… not that he needed much protection with Jim blinking through the pain and blurred vision. A fist caught him in the jaw. Another on the cheekbone. He staggered back, still somehow on his feet. Lachlan’s shadow drew nearer.
            He blocked the next blow more by fluke than any real skill, but the next blow was a money shot. Lachlan’s ring cut a nice swath underneath his right eye. Blood flowed; warm and treacly. It was enough to clarify Jim’s vision.
            “Come on, you fuck!” Lachlan challenged. “Threaten me, will you!”
            “Back off, Lachlan!” Jim heard himself say. “Back off!”
            But Lachlan wouldn’t back off. Indeed, the words only caused him to come forward anew. Jim backed away, blocking as many blows as he could with desperate movements of his arms. He didn’t see the blow that slipped through all of his defences and sent him crashing to the ground. But on the ground, he suddenly realised, with a sickening lurch, that it was Benny who had felled him. Now both of them stood over him, leering at him… sneers on their faces.
            “Get up!” Benny cried. “Get up and fight you pussy!”
            Lachlan joined in. “Get up, or we’ll kick you in the fucking head.”
            Jim stared up at the both of them, feeling the world rushing suddenly in and out of focus. Even if he did manage to get up, he would no doubt pass out. The king hit from Lachlan, combined with that which he received from Benny had taken its toll. He was kneeling, and the world was swaying. I can’t get up!
            “Get the fuck up!” Benny shouted. And suddenly, there was an echo…  “Get up! Get up!” only it wasn’t an echo, but a chant. With sickening dread, Jim realised that he had become the centre of some kind of twisted entertainment. “What the fuck is happening?” his mind shouted.
            Suddenly, Lachlan was kneeling down next to him, digging in the pocket of his jacket. “Either you get up, Hallaron, of your own free will, or I will fucking make you get up!”
            He yanked something out of his pocket. It wasn’t until Jim heard the telltale click that he recognised the switchblade knife for what it was.
            “You wouldn’t!” Jim breathed.
            “Watch me,” Lachlan retorted, bringing the knife into Jim’s field of vision. Closer he brought it, closer still. It was half a centimetre from Jim’s left ear, close enough for him to feel its cold razor edge…
            That was when he exploded.
            With a roar that was purely animal, Jim sprang forward. He felt the knife brush over his face, unaware that it had opened his cheek until he was at the doctor’s surgery. A superhuman shove sent Lachlan sprawling to the ground and the knife bounding several yards away, the blade stained crimson on its razor tip. Then a fist shot out—Jim’s fist—connecting with Benny’s nose. There was a satisfying squishing nose, a spurt of blood. Benny roared, his hands flying to his stricken face. He backed off, curses now sobs. Jim gave him another few parting shots for good measure, but the fight was all out of Benny.
            That left Lachlan, who even now was picking himself up off the ground, his eyes flickering left and right, finding his quarry—the switchblade—and closing the ground towards it. Without thinking, Jim made a hurried, maniacal dive towards the same target. He arrived too late, but succeeded in knocking the horrible weapon from Lachlan’s desperate grip. On the ground, they scrabbled, wrestled, two wiry, determined bodies.
            At length, Jim was aware of a commotion going on around him, aware of voices yelling “Hey! Break them up!”  Urgent, shouts flooded the courtyard. Feet pounded the concrete, fleeing, screaming kids as more and more teachers flooded into the courtyard.
            With a sickening lurch, reality crashed down onto Jim with the force of an anvil. It wasn’t until Andy Johnson, voice shaking and edgy, was prying Jim’s hands away from Lachlan’s throat that he knew what exactly had happened. All he saw were dark bruise-like smudges, blue lips… staring eyes… before he was whisked away, bloody, ready to pass out…
            “Hello… Jim?
            He shook his head and the memories didn’t altogether fade—they never would—they merely took a few smart steps backwards, deeper into his subconscious, from where they would rise once more to goad him. With his reverie broken, he could feel the bitter wind on the skin of his face again, could feel the welcoming numbness that dulled the pain of his bruised profile. He turned around slowly, feeling a little like a trespasser, to see who it was who had dragged him out of his pitiful past.
            Emily Reed stood at the far end of the little courtyard, arms wrapped around her body, which was wrapped in a thick coat. Even from this distance, and with the wind playing havoc with her long dark hair, the look of concern on her face was unmistakable. He could see sadness in her wide brown eyes, sadness and concern, as well as tears brought on by the wind. She was studying the rough contours of his battered face, which would have been plainly evident anywhere except for in a dark room, while he stood transfixed to the spot.
            “I thought this’d be the last place to find you,” she stated, casting her eyes around the empty courtyard.
            Jim shrugged. “I don’t know why I came here. I guess I was flying on autopilot.”
            “I came here looking for you, because I couldn’t get you at home. How long have you been out?”
            He shrugged again. “I’ve no idea. Murray broke my watch on Tuesday.”
            “I rang at nine-thirty and got your answering machine.”
            “I was up at five. By eight-thirty, I was restless and decided to go for a walk.”
            “And you came here?” Emily tried a smile, but it faded almost as soon as it formed. During the conversation, she had edged closer. They were now no more than five feet apart, and didn’t have to speak loudly to hear one another.
            Jim found himself unable to meet Emily’s gaze. Instead, he focussed first on her boots, before training his gaze on the graffito on the wall.
            “Are you okay, Jim?” she asked.
            For the third time, Jim shrugged. He was about to say something jocular, but bit his tongue instead.
            “Does it hurt… the bruises?”
            “Like hell,” he murmured. “But the cold air is making them… numb.” On saying the last word, his eyes found Emily’s. They were dark and wide, bright and intelligent, shining with a zest for life that Jim didn’t possess, at least not at the present. Her face was open, angular, with a strong jaw and equally strong cheekbones. It was framed with a shock of generally unkempt thick brown hair that begged Jim to comb through it with his fingers. In this instant, several tiny strands danced in the wind, beckoning him, enticing him. Though he was tempted, he kept his hands thrust determinedly in the pockets of his overcoat. That she was beautiful he couldn’t deny. That they had chemistry of sorts, he couldn’t deny either. But how did that old saying go?  Don’t mix business with pleasure?  Jim sighed, rocking backwards and forwards on his feet. “How are you?” he inquired, breaking the silence that had enveloped them.
            “Mm, all right, I guess.”  She toed the ground with her boot.
            “How have things been going ‘round here?” Jim asked, indicating the school in general with his eyebrows.
            “No one misses you in case you’re wondering.”
            It hurt to smile. Jim winced instead. Even the effort required to do that was too much. He sighed, staring morosely down at his feet. “You know,” he said, “I’m not looking forward to tomorrow.”
            “Nobody is. It’s Monday.”
            “But you don’t have to face what I’m going to have to face. Or who I’m going to have to face.”
            Emily smiled again, catching his eyes with hers. “You’ll be fine.”
            “D’you reckon?”  He cast a suspicious glance around him, aware of another old saying. This one went: even the walls have ears. His furtiveness didn’t go by unnoticed.
            “Do you want to go somewhere and talk?”
            “It depends on how you feel about conspiracy theories.”
            Emily’s brow furrowed slightly, though there was a trace of humour to be found in her eyes. She said nothing though, only turned and began walking. Jim followed close behind, like a large shadow. In silence, they made their way upstairs to their destination; the English staff room of all places.
            Jim waiting patiently as Emily wrestled off her gloves, excavated for her keys and unlocked the door. He would have played the part of the gentleman himself, but his staff room keys were still sitting on his desk, along with everything else he had sat there on Tuesday before his little altercation. By his reckoning, there should have been a half-finished salad roll and a near to full mug of very cold coffee sitting on his desk—that is, if what Emily said about nobody caring for him was true. Much to his disappointment, neither were there. His keys, however, were; along with stacks of rushed photocopying used for quick fillers for all of his classes. He could barely contain a malicious grin as he thumbed through some of the shit lying there.
            While Jim was busy with his desk, Emily had gone to hers. She had doffed her coat, flinging it over the top of her desk where it sat like the skin of some great animal. She was wearing black jeans and a light blue jumper. Currently, she was wrestling her hair into a ponytail and had her back to Jim. Having finished this caper, she turned around.
            “You really look awful,” she told him.
            “You’re not exactly a million dollars yourself.”
            She grinned. “I see this little episode hasn’t eroded any of your humour.”
            “It’s all I have.”
            They stared at one another for the briefest of seconds before looking away. Jim began rocking on his heels again, a mannerism he found he did often when he was nervous.
            “I’m worried about tomorrow,” he said at length. “I’m worried about the interviews. I’m worried about how everyone’s going to react. I’m worried that everyone thinks I’m guilty.”
            “Guilty of what?”
            Jim shook his head. “That’s the point. Of what am I guilty?  But I’ve heard the rumour mill—shit, I’m like the main cog around which the damn thing rotates!”
            “I have to admit, it didn’t take long for the news to spread.”
            “Of course not. My reputation is far from honourable as far as this one horse town is concerned.”
            “Why are you letting it worry you then?  You never have before.”
            “Because now I know I actually did what they say I’ve did. It’s different to the rumour mill spreading crap about me, because it’s just… crap. Now… now…” he faded off, his eyes staring into nothingness.
            “Have you seen anyone… a counsellor or something?”
            He nodded. “We had a good yarn, we did.”  He met her eyes again, aware of the concern, aware of the compassion. They were no more than an arm’s length apart… and yet, there seemed to be both a chasm and a minute distance between them.
            Emily reached a hand out, closing the distance between them. This hand rested on Jim’s shoulder. “Whatever happens, Jim, I’ll support you,” she said. And then, lightning quick—so quick, in fact, that Jim was sure he had imagined the whole thing—she kissed his cheek. “You’ll be all right,” she told him. “Cats like you always land on their feet.”

Saturday, 28 December 2013

The Altercation - 1


The moon sat in her bed of clouds, her mournful face watching Jim Halloran meander down the street. The bourbon carried him effortlessly; he felt as if he was walking on air. It was the perfect end to a shitty week, the kind of week he would very much like to forget. In that moment of drunken stupor, he felt invincible. One could even say he felt reckless.
            The tune he whistled was off key, echoing down the frozen concrete streets, bouncing off aluminium fences and the shuttered windows that sightlessly tracked his progress. Every now and then, he would utter a snatch of words, a stray lyric from some song that had circulated through the jukebox at the pub. The words themselves made no sense, but offered comfort nonetheless.
            Cold air teased his face, the only part of his body exposed to the scything wind. His eyes were watering, rendering his already impaired vision totally useless. But that was of no consequence; there was no traffic out tonight. He had the town to himself. Tonight, he was the king.
            Jim smiled at the thought. In so doing, he felt the pain from the side of his face flare up. With the pain came the memory… the boy with the chunky Harley Davidson ring and the homeboy beanie.
            “Little bastard,” Jim sniffed, before ducking across the final road that led to his rented house.
            In the fifteen or so minutes it took to walk from the pub, the full gambit of thoughts had chased themselves over the plateau of Jim’s drunken mind. The first thought was the fear, the same fear that, when he was sober some six hours ago, caused him to shake as if afflicted with the cold. Following the fear was the feeling of total ineptitude. This emotion was akin to a twisting, grappling feeling in the very pit of his guts. Here, the questions being asked in his mind ran along the line of: “Why didn’t you do anything?”  Running on the coat tails of the helplessness was the bitterness. “You should have done something!
            And then, the emotion that drove the sled Jim’s mind was riding in tonight slid to the fore. The anger, boiling slowly before bubbling to the surface like a flowing genie. This was the sort of anger that scrunched Jim’s fists into tight clods of sinew and knuckle, the sort of anger that perhaps indicated that Jim should seriously consider booking into therapy.
            “Fuckin’ little jerkweed,” he muttered under his breath. The merry, drunken whistling and aimless singing was now gone. And surprisingly, the wind didn’t appear to be blurring his vision.
            His house was lit up like a Christmas tree. Every light that could be turned on was turned on. He rued what the power bill was going to be like, but did not want to risk retribution. It was bad enough copping the accusing stares as he bought two litres of milk at the corner store. He didn’t want to be surprised by some punk slinking in the shadows in his backyard, wanting to let fly with a tirade of abuse or an epilogue to Tuesday’s sordid little episode.
            Even from the far end of the street, the brightness of the lights etched vivid flashes on his retinas. He wondered vaguely—as most drunken thoughts are arrived at—whether it was sensible to have purchased one hundred watt light globes for the outside lights. The lights that attacked his eyes were extremely bright; he might even say that they were burning. The insect life fluttering around them would be char-grilled should they fly too close.
            That last thought appealed to Jim’s darker side. He tried a grin, but the effort hurt his face. Instead, he whistled once more, the heels of his boots striking on the bitumen, echoing down the street. Home drew steadily closer, the outside lights became more intense. Two doors away, he slowed his pace down to scan the bushes and trees scattered over the front lawn, on the lookout for loiterers. He actually stopped in next door’s driveway, and drew his hands, with his house keys clenched between the first two fingers of his left hand, out of his overcoat pockets. His breathing had all but ceased. His heartbeat was a steady tattoo.
            “Jesus Christ,” he told himself. “Look at what they’ve done to you.”
            A voice shattered the stillness of the night. He jumped and spun.
            “Mr. Hallaron?  Are you all right?”
            She was perched on the front veranda of her house, the only light coming from Jim’s one hundred watt insect incinerators. Even in that imperfect light, her hair was brilliant gold, as straight as a knife cut, framing her angular face. Her dark eyes betrayed no visible emotion… at least none that Jim could see from his vantage point. She was trussed up in a thick jacket, knees tucked up to her chest, swaying silently on the swing seat she regularly occupied.
            “I’m fine thanks, Jane,” Jim said, successfully disguising both the drunken slurs in his voice and the fleeting flicker of fear. Inside his chest, his heart was doing better than two hundred beats per minute. Watch it, pal; you’re heart attack material.
            “You’re one heck of a jumpy dude at present,” Jane whispered. “Can’t say I blame you, though.”
            Jim made a pretence of looking at his watch. “What are you doing up so late?  Shouldn’t you be in bed or something?”
            “Shouldn’t you?” Her voice drifted through the night, full of a confidence Jim never had when he was sixteen. Jane was a strange girl. Even strange wasn’t adequate. She was eccentric, the exception to every rule. “Mother’s having one of her turns again.”
            “Oh,” Jim nodded. He was well aware of Marianne Geesin’s ‘turns.’  They were well documented by the Gossip Express, fifty-year old women with nothing better to do than dig up rubbish about everyone and everything. Currently, their eyes were turned in Jim’s direction… though Marianne Geesin would always provide regular titbits of juicy news… Marianne and her eccentric blonde haired ‘gypsy’ of a daughter. What would they make of this midnight exchange?
            “No offence, Mr. Hallaron, but you look pretty crappy tonight.”
            “I’m not feeling quite like my usual sparkling self, Jane,” he quipped, not entirely sure if he was being defensive or not.
            “Is that bourbon I can smell?”
            “Either that or my aftershave.”
            “You should try some scented oils to soothe your stress. Mother might be able to fix you up with some.”
            “The traditional method works fine with me thanks, Jane.”  Jim switched the keys from one hand to the other.
            “Each to their own, I guess.”
            “I suppose.”
            “Are you still my English teacher or what?”
            Jim shrugged. “I assume so.”
            “I mean, after all that… shit… last Tuesday…”
            “I’m still waiting on things concerning that…”
            “…you’ll let me know if anything happens?”
            He shrugged again, unsure of what exactly to say. The usual stock response about privacy wasn’t really applicable to Jane considering the stuff they had been confiding to each other over the course of six months. Shit, if the Gossip Express even got a whiff of half of the stuff they’d talked about, they’d have enough shit to really tar and feather them.
            “I suppose I could…”
            “…you know it was totally unfair what they did, Mr. Hallaron?”
            Jim nodded, all too aware of just how unfair Tuesday’s altercation was.
            “I mean… your hands were tied.”
            He nodded again, feeling both elated and uncomfortable with the maturity and uncanniness of Jane’s personality. Oftentimes, he forgot she was only sixteen.
            “God, if I was there Mr. Hallaron… I would’ve…”
            “You would’ve stayed the hell away from it!” Jim interjected, his voice eerily deadpan. “It was bad enough what they did to me without you getting involved.”
            “I’m sorry, Mr. Hallaron.”
            “Mm. You’ve no need to be.”  He stifled a yawn. “If I was half as smart as I claim to be, I would’ve seen something like this coming.”
            With that, he trudged around the back of his house, suddenly aware of a heavy weight on his shoulders.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Damn the light

Damn the light I cannot see,
May darkness hover over me.
Hell and damnation!
Up them blues!
In need of stimulation
Down them pills!
Shiver my soul, but does it hurt?
What is all this writing worth?
Does anyone read it with an open mind?
Or am I just wasting my fucking time?
Do the words rhyme, do the words seem to fit?
Shall I be detached, or a part of it?
Who’s to say, what’s to do?
Does anyone have control over you?

At last, I put down my pen
At last, at last the gates open
At last, I’m free to pursue at will
At last, at last, the pen is still

Damn the light, I cannot see,
Beyond the clouds that cover me.
Alone I am, in a dead man's world,
Paper caught in whirlwind's twirl
A million times over, a million times through
Whatever will become of you?
Why must you lock yourself away?
And write and write until Judgement Day?
This gift you write and cannot speak.
The mountain that you cannot peak.
The thoughts that remain to be found.
The images that need a sound
With meticulous attention, meticulous care,
Dear poet, where does end your flair?

At last, I put away my pen
At last, at last, the dam is open
At last, I’m free to wander my mind
At last, at last, the very last time.

(when writing in times of frustration
who gives a wang ‘bout concentration?
if the words do fit,
it’s right to use it!

and who gives a fuck about translation?)

Empty Bed

Sweet surrender, I made you mine
We had forever, but we had little time
Your lips to mine, so many words to say
Soft skin divine, caught in a moment's play

If this is true, this one passing second, an eternal embrace
Would but this be sealed in gold, forever
Or to ours, would this be disgrace?
Timeless, yet, much to our chagrin
Was it love or lust I saw in your eyes
Love, or just a fling?

Honeyed promise, I took you there and then
Whispered lies, oh... where to begin?
The folly mine, wore my heart on my sleeve
Only now, I can't trust what I believe

No longer true, truth hides behind the clouds, the sun
No longer wears a golden crown
Empty words, gathered round my head
Hollow heart, those empty words we said
Was it love or was it lust? Our own stories,
Of ashes turning into dust
Crown of thorns, at home amongst the dead
I'll take my leave, rest you in this empty bed

The Song is Over

At last the song is over the final note is struck
At last the song is over the final chord has been plucked

We would once sing together a harmony of a long joyous refrain
Only now it’s this death we sing
Of love that was in vain

So the song is over
Can lay this heart to rest
The song is over

At last the song is over
At last the song is over
At last the song is over

We would once sing together in the same key a long joyous refrain
Only now we search in different places
Walking in the rain

There once was a time when we could see eye to eye
And sing in harmony
But now that time has gone and you find that you’re alone
Your love is just a memory

So the song is over
Now I failed the test
The song is over

At last the song is over
At last the song is over
At last the song is over

At last the song is over the final words have been sung
At last the song is over the judgment bell has been rung

You’ve seen the sunrise in another’s eyes
Long before it set in mine
So the song we were singing is slightly out of kilter
We were singing in a different key

We would once sing together a harmony of a long joyous refrain
Only now it’s this death we sing
Of love that was in vain

At last the song is over the orchestra can stop

At last the song is over I can stop feeling lost

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Paint the Night

Every day above ground is a good day, so they say
As long as you’re smiling, as long as you’re happy
All the clouds will fade away and blown away
On gentle breezes of careless love, of whispered lies in the dark
Yet you hold onto these empty thoughts
And chase your dreams through quiet streets
In the end you hurt yourself, and you hurt me
I need you to open your eyes
See yourself and see me

There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do
There is no place I won’t go to be with you
You’re the sun and the moon
And the sky when we paint the night

Now the final breath is drawn and sleep becomes
Trapped inside our dreaming minds, living life, living blind
I need you to open your eyes
See yourself and see me
I’ve worked too hard to walk away
Every night, every day

There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do
There is no place I won’t go to be with you
You’re the sun and the moon
And the sky when we paint the night

In dark valleys I rest my head
In frozen clouds I make my bed
You look at me and in your eyes
I see disbelief
Tell me when, in the light of truth
You will have faith in me?

It’s all I ask.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

In The Evening

Tired eyes to the ground are cast
The dice of forgotten dreams
So desperately wild and hopeful
Waiting for the pot of gold that eludes their open fingers…

Watch me fly, to try, to die
I get so high, only to come down again
There’s no peace here
And at the end of the day
What do we have to show?
Broken pieces that never fit together
Anyway but looked good for a second in the daylight
Away from the doubts and shadows
That threaten as night threatens the day

Dawn’s light is hardly the time for truth
But for the innocence of the March lamb
Whose innocence and charm we cannot refute
But promise me the answers to the questions
Forming and reforming in my head like a gaol
And cast my doubts on the calm of the ocean
Rig the deck, set them to sail…

In the evening, where the light is dim
And the shadows come alive to crawl
In the evening, where the light is dim
You have no truth at all
Unless you face the wall and with regret
Admit that maybe you were wrong
In the evening, nothing stays but passes into night.

Friday, 6 December 2013


This is the world behind closed eyelids, a world that follows its own logic, its own set of rules. What is seen here transcends that which we call normal, even if on outward appearances, it seems normal. Normal is a façade designed to hide the reality lurking beneath. And in this world, reality can be dangerous.
            Let me show you...
            The sky is gunmetal grey, heavy with rolling clouds and lit occasionally by brief splashes of lightning. It is almost dark. The darkness is inky. In the unfolding scene, it hangs like a pall, shimmering, velvety, alive with malice. The twin beams of the SUV’s headlights cut through the darkness, albeit briefly. The slipstream moves with liquid grace around the wedge of light, around the sides of the car and reforms behind the vehicle.
            You can see this as I see it, from an omnipresent vantage point. We are merely observers as this scene plays out, powerless to intervene, even when that moment of understanding hits... and oh, yeah, it’s not only going to hit and hit hard, but it’s also going to hurt. Bad.
            The road is narrow, a typical country trail, poorly maintained, marked with faded white lines and now, wet and shiny with drizzle. It cuts a straight line thus far through verdant fields dotted with cattle, sheep and the occasional horse. Traffic is light. The SUV has only had to slow below eighty-five twice to pull over to the side and allow enough room for oncoming traffic to pass. But you know was well as I, that that is going to change.
            It’s just the nature of this world. There is nothing either of us can do, except wait and watch. Just know this: the ending, when it comes, will be mercifully swift. But that’s for later.
            For now, let’s take a closer look.
            Inside the SUV a young woman sits behind the wheel. She has long blonde hair tied back in a ponytail, and eyes the colour of a clichéd summer sky. Right now, those eyes are darting from the side mirror, to the rear-view mirror, to the speedometer, then out front to the narrow country lane. Her lips are squeezed together into a tight grimace of concentration and her brow is furrowed, her pencil line eyebrows almost meeting at the bridge of her nose. Her face is squarish, with broad cheekbones and a strong jaw, belonging to the type of woman who you’d expect to not only have an opinion, but be more than willing to express it as well.
            This is Lydia Kohn. She is twenty-six years young, a successful primary school teacher who dabbles with oil painting and playing the piano in her limited spare time. She is usually bright-eyed, quirky and lively, though in this scene at this particular time those traits fade into the background. Concentration gives her countenance an angular, severe look, tempered with the frustration of driving a vehicle that is much too big and powerful than any she is used to. Compounding the frustration is the fact that the transmission is manual; and she is not alone in the vehicle.
            In the backseat sits a little girl of five. She is the exact opposite of Lydia, with dark curly hair and green eyes and a sour disposition. Her gripes are many; all of them compounded by this late afternoon clandestine trip that she is adamant she does not wish to be involved with. Every contour of her face suggests that a tantrum is seconds from erupting. That she has held off for the last half hour is more a curse than a blessing. When she finally erupts, it will be on a huge scale, the young child equivalent of a volcano that has been teasing for years before finally blowing its top.
            For now, little Miranda is happy to discuss her displeasure with her rag doll, Molly. This she does with elaborate stage whispers, cupping her hand over the side of Molly’s rag head while making surreptitious glances into the rear view mirror. The object of the game wasn’t so much to avoid being caught, but rather, the opposite. She wanted a reaction, a bite; even the tiniest hint of a frown that showed that she was getting under Lydia’s skin. But no. Lydia wasn’t playing the game. Of course, Miranda has no way of knowing that Lydia dealt with games such as hers on a daily basis. It would take much more than stage whispers and furtive gestures to get a rise out of her. Still, she keeps trying.
            “This is Daddy’s car,” she says to the doll, not for the first time. Her voice is heavily inflected with distaste at the fact that someone else, and not Daddy, is behind the wheel. When she is certain that Lydia is watching in the rear view mirror, she rolls her eyes dramatically. It is a wasted effort; Lydia’s glance is but momentary and very soon she is focussed on the road ahead, peering through the fan shaped grooves the window wipers peel through the drizzle that is steadily becoming fully fledged rain.
            Unperturbed, Miranda continues her monologue. “Daddy always plays music when he drives... the good music... but not as good as Mummy’s music...” Here, she pauses, and looking directly into the rear mirror and Lydia’s pale reflection therein, finishes, “Mummy likes The Wiggles.”
            Outside, the darkness presses against the windows as surely and as physically as the drizzle. The road begins to climb; the first of many gradual inclines. With the inclines come the bends. At first, they are subtle deviations, able to be rounded without really slowing down. But as the gradient begins to increase, so too does the tightness of the corners. Before long, the drizzle turns into rain, and then the rain becomes a steady downpour. Lydia’s field of vision narrows so that the only things that exist in her world are the sodden black tarmac with the double centre lines, the cats eyes reflecting in the steady glow of the full beam from the headlights, and the road signs alerting her which way the road was going to abruptly jag. By this time, the SUV’s progress was almost a crawl. Lydia’s wrist hurt from multiple gear changes and her ankles hurt from pressing the floor pedals in amateurish combinations.
            Behind her, five-year-old Miranda smiled smugly, unaffected by the inclement weather outside. She observed Lydia’s distress with a kind of gloating satisfaction, knowing instinctively what her next barbed parry should be. If you look closer, you can see her waiting for that opportune moment. Of course, in souls so young, there is very little premeditation. When she pounces, it is natural and spontaneous; yet it cuts straight to the core.
            “At least Daddy can drive this car,” Miranda mumbles. The pretence of whispering into Molly’s ear is long gone. In fact, the doll has slumped forward, remaining on the car booster seat only by the virtue that its leg has become entangled in the restraining harness.
            Lydia’s lips further tighten into their grimace. Her eyes dart to the rear view mirror, narrow momentarily. It is a reaction, tiny, but a reaction nonetheless, certainly a reward for Miranda’s angling. And she wasn’t going to let go of this advantage.
            Miranda leans forward in her seat, or at least as far as the harness holding her in allows. Her eyes are fully focussed now on Lydia’s reflection in the mirror, savouring that grimace, that reaction. She had found the tiny crack in the mask. Now all was required was to pry it open a little more.
            “We’d be there now if Daddy was driving,” she said. “Daddy’s a good driver.”
            Lydia doesn’t stir, doesn’t react, though she does pause during yet another rough change of gear to flick her eyes into the mirror. “Miranda, dear,” she says. “Can you sit properly in your seat, please?”
            “You’re not my Mummy. You can’t tell me what to do.”
            And there it is, the clincher, the one phrase that carves deeply into Lydia’s psyche and is guaranteed to draw blood. To five-year-old Miranda, it’s the gap in the armour she so desperately sought. Seeing Lydia flinch at the remark, watching her once stern face collapse, the grimace trembling from her lips, silver tears rolling from the corner of her sky-blue eyes, Miranda feels only elation. She is far too young to understand the notion of guilt, of realising the consequences of her barbed words. And even were she to comprehend the level of hurt she had only now inflicted, there was no time to remedy it.
            In her eagerness to rub salt into the open wound, she leans forward some more. “You’re not my Mummy!” she says, louder, almost shouting.
            “Miranda, dear,” Lydia tries, but the words are lost in a croak. Her eyes take their penultimate scan of the road ahead, before darting back to the rear view mirror, seeing that not only was Miranda actually leaning forward, but had slipped half out of the harness, such was her desire to hurt Lydia.
            “I’m not your ‘dear!’” Miranda screams. “You are not my Mummy! I don’t like you! I want to go home!”
            Tears blur Lydia’s vision. They flow freely now down her cheeks. One rogue tear trickles into the corner of her mouth. She tastes the salt, the bitterness of memory, the starkness of reality.
            That’s not fair, she wants to tell Miranda. She would summon the teacher voice; the voice that would freeze even the most impudent student. She would talk, rather than react; rather than break down... or even worse, snap angrily.
            Her eyes are still in the rear view mirror when the sharp bend looms out of the darkness. She is focussed fully on Miranda, milliseconds away from making an attempt at resolution. Molly, at long last, twists free of her restraint and flops onto the floor. Miranda, in the final seconds, makes a half-attempt to lurch after Molly, she may even called out the doll’s name as she leant forward, totally out of her harness now... before suddenly freezing.
            “Lydia, watch ou—!”
            Lydia turns back to the road. Only it’s not the road that is in front of her now. The road barrier guarding the corner looms closer and closer. In our dream perspective, the world feels as if the air has turned to molasses. Everything moves slowly. As Lydia’s eyes widen in shock and horror at the inevitable moment of impact, we can see individual droplets of rain spatter on the windshield, we can hear each one smash onto the glass, the sound loud, like a series of hammer blows. As we watch, transfixed, unable to move, unable to think—frozen in our omnipresent vantage point—Lydia jerks the steering wheel. In her panic, her feet shoot forward, missing the clutch, missing the brake, pounding on the accelerator: hard.
            The SUV loses traction on the roadside gravel and the rear end swings out. There’s a thunderous boom as the vehicle sideswipes the roadside barrier, spraying glass and metal. Yet, it doesn’t stop. Not yet, anyway. Along the barrier the SUV grinds for several agonising seconds, before the vehicle mounts the girded metal structure, rides it for a few seconds more, and then flips onto its side to skid, with a shower of sparks, into the middle of the road.
            An incomplete silence fills the scene now. The sounds we hear are soft, and intermittent. The first thing we notice is the patter of rain bouncing off the road and the dented SUV. There is something alien about this sound, a kind of calm that is at odds with what our eyes see. If anything, it fuels our disquiet and our guilt. Oh, yes. There is plenty of guilt here, though for now, it has kindly taken a backseat.
            The next noise we hear is the ticking of hot metal rapidly cooling in the rain. This is interspersed with hisses of steam as droplets find the gaps in the twisted panels of the bonnet and the front guards and drip onto the hot engine. As we approach the wreck—and approach we must, not because we want to, but because it is dream lore to go where you are beckoned—a third sound, much weaker, but more disconcerting because of this, reaches our ears.
            From deep within the interior of the SUV, now nothing more than a dark silhouette in the road’s middle, we hear muffled sobbing. The noise is soft, plaintive... harrowing. The epitome of horror and terror and absolute raw fear, all laced with pain and propped up by a surge of adrenaline that even now, you know is fading. At first, there aren’t any distinctive words, and any that try to form are swiftly blotted out with a series of wet, hacking coughs. But as we draw closer... closer... and closer, we are able to make sense of the words trying to be articulated.
            There are a few staccato attempts at “Oh, God,” accompanied by the sound of someone wriggling ineffectually against the seatbelt pinning them in place in their seat. “Oh, God,” is very soon replaced by yet another choked garble of words. “Help me!”
            But before Lydia Kohn is able to clear her mangled airways and try to shout out, a brand new noise fills the air. The noise is loud, a throaty roar, a growl. One that you and I both recognise in an instant, and upon doing so, feel our hearts freeze in our chests.
            Bright white light suddenly washes the scene, setting shadows scattering in all directions as if they, too, can sense what is inevitable.

            In the last seconds before we are thankfully torn free from the horror in this lonely country highway, we catch a glimpse from Lydia’s own eyes as the light solidifies from an overly bright aura into the concentrated beams—four in total—of the semi-trailer that has come hurtling around the blind corner straight at the overturned SUV...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


With a word to shake the winter's hold
And let my mind go free
Unleash me from the bonds you placed
Fetters on my tongue
And should I speak a tome of truth
Who are you to disagree?

Your logic flawed, obscure reason
A candle's flame brightly burning
With Caesar dead, and Rome in mourning
Your machinations at play
Should I not act to save my soul
Quell, if not kill, your desperate yearning?

Young fool with no compassion tempered
No sense there in your head
Just another act of word of mouth
Along that path you couldn't tread
Every morning, a new plot arises
Your web of lies is spun
The moon may borrow your light come evening
But she can also eclipse your sun