writing

III: From Lull

Is it so fucking hard to simply be accepted by someone? Or is it just my destiny to walk through this wretched earth both hating and hated?

No, “hated” is far too strong. And “accepted” is also wrong.

Strike both of them. Shit.

Is it so hard to just mean something to someone – there, that sounds better already – rather than just… mediocre? I mean, it’s a rough estimation here, but I’m certain that’s what every human aspires to. People want to be loved, they want to be someone’s Number One, they want to be the first and last thought in someone’s head of a day. And then you have the people who will be happy with being hated… the ones who enjoy revelling in the anger and misery of others. You’ll probably still remember someone who did you very wrong twenty years down the line.

And that means – what? – that they mean something to you, correct? Yes – I might be someone’s brother, but that means shit. Of course Lois will remember me always, I’ll be so important to her. But she doesn’t count, why would she? She’s been around me long enough – and I around her – for both of us to piss each other off.

Although I don’t remember ever pissing her off. She pisses me off though.

But – where was I? Oh. I’d rather mean something, something real, to someone. Being a brother doesn’t count. And, and I know I say this with hypocrisy and a scoff, I’d rather be on someone’s Nice list than their Naughty list. Why wouldn’t I want someone to smile fondly at my memory, as blunt and unfriendly as it is.

Perhaps I’m just going soft, perhaps I’m… no, never mind. I don’t know what I mean.

It just… it’s sigh-worthy. I’m not someone’s anything. I’m anyone’s nothing.

Jesus Christ, I’m everyone’s nothing.

I: Air of London – I’m stuck on the ceiling

I am stuck on the ceiling. Do I know how I got there? No. I forgot my own name. Several times. But I consider there are more… pressing concerns. I’m stuck on the ceiling. I think I said that before. But I’m up where they hang the stars, with their long poles, and I wonder sometimes what they hang them on. Or if they just stayed up by themselves.

I can confirm there are hooks they hang the stars from. From the ceiling. But, while it’s a good discovery, I’d rather have both soles of both feet back on the streets on the ground, not up here. I can’t do anything up here.

Perhaps this is just a description in itself though, while remaining calm at least. I’m up here, all alone, with my mouth shut. But to me it seems like everyone else is up there. With their mouths open. And do they look up at me? No. No no no no no! They don’t know I exist. Yet here I am.

Stuck on the damned ceiling.

II: Human Carriage

I: Human Carriage

 

Emptiness leaves, replaced by a vague feeling of comfort. For, see, I have inserted things into space. And that leaves me happy.
Six of them, well, five and a child in their mother’s arms – I am even worse at judging a baby’s sex – fill up the space and I climb into the carriage behind the last man to enter.
Here we are.
All full in here. I am happy with this.
So I lock the doors as I do every time.
Can’t have that kid leaping off to his life. That would be backwards.
Oh no!
Can’t have that.
So I lock them tight.
-If you’re comfortable? I say. I speak in short sentences. Like I do every time. Simple. Short. Disconnected. Easy.
-If you’re comfortable? repeat I, just to ask again. But their eyes are still the same. So I give a hollow smile with full cheeks. -Alright. Sit loose. I will leave you now. A few minutes. To tell the Driver to go.
So I leave, just like that. I tell the Driver to go.
Or, I find my way to the Driver. It’s not an easy feat sometimes. He tends to leave empty coke bottles lying around. He seems fond of the stuff.
Only in glass bottles though.
Never plastic ones.
I hear he collects the caps. The metal caps you could cut yourself on. Maybe
his scars on his knuckles are there for a reason?
Because obsession is painful. Right?

Still.
I steal my way through the forest of upwards snouts.
Bottles, three here, five over there, all huddled like penguins.
Or… sardines, I suppose.
Hah!
What.
-Evening, I say to our Driver.
-Awright? he says to me. Not drinking a coke. Surprisingly. Maybe he doesn’t need the sugar boost just yet.
-Alright? I say back. I didn’t mean to.
He has a smile, just a little few seconds of a smile to ease me. He’s been around me long enough to
know my foibles. Know what I can be like sometimes. Echoing things. Screaming things. Repeating things. Copying things.
-Awright? he says again, but I keep mute this time.
Don’t want to make a fool
of myself.
Do I?
-We off? he says.
I tell him, -Yes. Everyone’s on. Settled. Sat. Comfortable.
-Everyone’s fine.
-Yeh. ‘Kay. Go sit. I’m moving.
-Alright, I look around as he swings to face the forwards direction. I don’t know how he Drives the train.
I suppose he presses forward.
I stare on the floor, at all the empty bottles, I ask if I can take one.
-Go mad.
Does he mean it literally?
I do not ask, merely pluck one off the floor. By the neck.
I don’t want to touch what has the Driver’s spit on it.
-I’ll sit.
-Yeh.
-Okay.
I leave him. No matter how awkward the conversation sounds-
or ‘convo’ as he’d say-
I never really come away rolling my eyes at myself.

So I find my way to my own seat with the bottle.
I want to wipe the opening. Quite
badly.
I don’t want to know where it’s been.
Really.
It might be dusty. But.
There isn’t much to wipe the snout with here.
So I have to use my glove. Very disgusting, especially when I imagine it all.
Oh.
No.

I rest the bottle between my knees and look over my shoulder. I cannot see the people.
There is a wall between us.
But somehow, looking their way is a comfort. For some reason.
I look their way. Are they alright?
My people?
My six?
My five and a child? They’re alright?
They’re awright?
I look back to the bottle. Just resting there as the train begins to shift a little. Like a living thing. It shrugs this way… and that way… before picking up speed it never seems to possess.
To me, to the me who has ridden the train the amount of times as unbent metal bottle tops in the world, it shouldn’t be surprising – should it – the speed the train has. But it is, every time it is.
Just starts off so slow… so slow indeed.
But then.
Two seconds.
Sixty- seventy- eighty!
Fairly skipping along the sleepers.
At least, I think there are sleepers.
On this track?
I actually cannot remember.
But.
Not important.
We are skipping though. And I look at my bottle for a few minutes.
Look at its emptiness.
I should do something about that.

I: Human Carriage

Always several unreal things cross my mind when I encounter empty things.
Be them… muraled bottles… or cans…
Theatres… cars… terminals…
Train carriages? Train cars?
We tend to call this type of thing a carriage. Though it is, technically, a car. Not a carriage.
But everyone calls them carriages.
Just makes it… easier. Carriages carry. Except
they don’t when they’re empty.
Do they?

That is what I mean. Unreal things – like the unrealness of the whispers of people who have sat there and who will – cross my mind when I encounter empty things. I have great desires to fill the space.
But that’s another thing, I can fill this space. In this carriage, I can fill it.
Make the collateral whispers into screams as physicalities take form.
And I can serve them their lukewarm waters, point them in the direction of the on-board shoddy bathroom.
While they wait and stew in the Human Carriage.
Because! -you see, you see!
I am the Human Carriage Maestro.
They bow by my hand, holding the unprestigious door open for them.
I guide them with a flourish of gloved fingers to their direction of seat.
And I tell them to have a pleasant trip.

I get the most gruesome duty of all though, too, which is picking up after the people. And that’s less mundane than it sounds, especially once you consider the emptiness. Because the carriage can be full but the emptiness can be more vivid than ever at that point too.
The contrast, see. So difficult to see through. It’s like a fog.
But.
But! Come and view my Human Carriage. Look at the colours if you’d like, the red
handles on the doors. I re-painted them with my own hand the other week.
And the paint’s already flaking.
Dreadful shame.
Did I just waste
my
time?

Well. That answer looks to be a stout but firm yes from the audience. The crowd. The gameshow contestant. None of which exist anyway. But. Either way.
Leave the handles here, the red will flake off on my gloves if I should touch them anymore.
God.
I’ll touch them up when I stop being depressed about how I wasted my time.
But with better paint.
Certainly, definitely, better paint.
I sigh as I walk.

Rounding the edge of the platform – or rather, going through the rusted chainlink fence to the corner and leaping off with a little shriek of enjoyment on my part – I begin to notice the breathy huddle I have come to be familiar with.
They’re mostly the same this season. About five to eight potential passengers, always huddled together like sardines. Or is it penguins that huddle?
Both perhaps. One in the ocean. The other, terra firma.
Before I make my prescence known – they’re slightly raised above where I stand, they’re on the first, second, third and fourth steps up to the platform real, whilst I am beside it near all the nettles and mulberries and goarses – I have a quick look at them all.
Mother and child, that’s two of the six I have this eve.
Then we have two men, wearing similar shirts.
But they’re standing apart from each other. Either they are strangers – probably – or they are…
Enemies?
Possibly.
Both in sort of pinkish-red plaid. I’m not sure I like it.
Who are the others, a young man – not in plaid – with sandy hair. And a girl.
Who seems to have a suspicious moustache-like thing. Dark hair.
She looks very odd. I cannot take my eyes off her lip. Her upper lip.
Very strange.
But nevertheless! These people are my people for now. All mine.
And soon they’ll be my carriage’s people.
And I’ll be their Maestro.
I do love being the Maestro.
Despite the cleaning up after them.

I know already these people have been briefed for the journey. Not too long, at least, they won’t know it is. For me, the journey seems to lengthen each time.
Or sometimes it shortens… maybe sometimes I get used to it and sometimes I am tired.
But for them it lasts no longer than half an hour to forty-five minutes. Usually.
Well. It depends how quickly they all go. Or how quickly I get around them all.
After all.
I am their Maestro.

I make myself known to the stupendous six, adding myself into their midst to bring the total headcount to seven.
If the child can be counted as a head. It’s very small.
Six months? Less? More? I’ve never been good at estimating age with babies.
Or did I call it a child?
It matters not.
I sidle up to them either way, pulling at my wrists. Where my gloves come down.
The white palms so pure.
But slightly stained with palm-sweat of the months.
Very much in my size.

I draw their gazes with a slight –ahem and by throwing my arms wide.
Six pairs of eyes on me.
I am their Maestro.
-Good evening.
-I am your Maestro for the next few hours.
I offer them a bow, very sleek and elegant. As I return their transfixed gazes slowly, I see how they all possess the same watery-looking sleep in the corners of their eyes. All breathing slowly, all calm, all with hair slightly out of place.
I smile, -Welcome to the Human Carriage. We are set to board. So. Do follow me, say I, before turning with yet more intense flourishes. I hop-skip-jump up the stairs, landing on my toes, all too happy to lead yet another group into my carriages.
It’ll be nice to take the journey again, I always think that.
Even if it does become lonely after a little while.
After about half an hour to forty-five minutes.

 

II: Human Carriage

 

I’m Allowed To Be

IF
And I repeat, IF
I’ve been to the depths, I can
judge for myself the highs
and the lowest
darkest
hidden realities and turnaround cul-de-sacs of endless light for myself.
I am not a blind bat in the darkness, I have two eyes that work less-than-perfectly,
And
even if I’m not the most
well
if I’ll look behind and see someone –
And I saw them once before –
recognition of them is minimal by my eye. So
I’ll probably overlook some more vital infor
mation, maybe the importance. Of it all.
But-

Either way.
I am not a blind bat in the darkness, I have two eyes that work less-than-perfectly,
And
even if I’m not the most
watchful – perhaps? – I can still
notice enough to make up my mind.
I can still see enough down here in the depth to cover myself completely.
I will learn all even if I want to know none of it.
I will watch and listen and try to smile despite the writhing I feel inside myself.

Imagine a projector screen with
me in front of it
ebbing black pixels. Ebbing. Pushing, throbbing, pulsating. Any of the words that might de
scribe the action of the screen behind me – and my shadow,
Not obstructing anything,
Yet, but
then from the corners
fuchsia spikes. Because I know
genuinely
that pain and pleasure are one and the same.
Despite the opposite realities of each one.
Fuchsia spikes closing in
and I merely stand
and watch
and listen
and learn.
While the screen attacks me from behind and I close my eyes as the screen shines
pink into them, all into them, behind them and through them.
But they don’t kill me.

My shadow, down here, blocks them. My back is defended. And, if I
turn to face the screen,
My front will be defended also.

Do you see yet?
I don’t
I don’t
I don’t

need

anything. Not your eyes, not your skin not your
words in my ears, not your arteries, not
your praises, not anything. I just need myself.
To be,
To learn,
To grow.

I am deeper than you think. Every silence is wrought with
pain and all I want is someone to shine a torch in
to the dark and look after me.
But I am turning my back on that. Rely on no one, no one
will shine as well as I do.
I know where I hurt.
I know where to put the bandages.
I know where the edges are.
How they fall.
How they blunt every issue I have.
And how,
With a single moment,
I can ignore them all and heal myself.
I am deeper

so much deeper

than you think.

And wiser, I am wiser than you think. Find my number and remove all the numbers and replace them with letters, I will
Tell you the colours of them,
One
by
one. Because
I know more. I know so much more. I know myself and
I know everyone else. There is a reason for what I’ve
been called. And what people see me as,
And that I can be taken,
So easily,
As a fool. Because I am a fool.

Despite my wisdom.

I am a
fool. And even
if I think I am
strong, even
if
I think I can
lift something
either
Physical
or
Mental
I am most times wrong.

So.

IF. You think I’m happy,
I’m most not.
IF. You think I’m easy,
I’m most not.

BUT. I am deeper than
you might care to think about.
BUT. I am wiser than
you might care to think about.

That’s the issue.
Read me.
Ignore me.
Face me.
Block me.
Stab me.
Say things you know will hurt me.
I am more than that if I can turn my back,
Shine my own light onto the places that hurt,
Because I know that even if…
Even IF
I’m sad, I’m allowed to be.
I’m happy, I’m allowed to be.
I’m furious, I’m allowed to be.
I’m ill, I’m allowed to be.
I’m scarring, I’m allowed to be.
I’m different, I’m allowed to be.
I’m naked, I’m allowed to be.
I’m cast, I’m allowed to be.
I’m…

I’m allowed to be.

Always.

Always allowed to be.

Epistle 1

Simple little discontented heart,

I desire a meeting with you. Not a long one, mind, just a few minutes. A quiet nod on a street corner, a stranger-turned-acquaintance, talking it up with the other. Feel free to study my palms as you do so, to try and read between each crease. But meet with you I must.

 

To attempt a meeting place would be slanderous and unrealistic. So let us just… arrive together. Every Next Time and Last Time, the coincidence will be where we make our location. Be it on that aforementioned street corner or perhaps in the middle of the busy street. I will shake your gloved hand with my own gloved hand, and we shall walk, you lighting a pipe and me struggling to keep the biting cold off my wet lips.

As for the time, let us make that in similar with the place – coincidence. No longer will we have to worry and stress about seeing each other, let us just have it… happen. Six with the dawn, as you head out to fetch your morning paper and I am there walking on my slow way to work. I can spare the minutes I need with you. A few minutes late will be worth my words, a few minutes to let the ink dry on the paper for you. We can spare the time. Or maybe we’ll meet late at night, I outside shaking the dust off an old coat, you, in the middle of a procession of friends walking down my street. I’ll step out and call your name, don the coat, lock my door and perhaps join you. My words can be said in front of all others.

 

But, as I mentioned, let us not make assumptions as to Whens or Wheres. Or even Hows or Whys. Leave all I’ve said to imagination and don’t expect anything. After all, you may walk past my house and notice that I am home. But if you do, don’t knock.

 

Walk on. See to your business. Just as I see to mine inside, you will see to yours wherever it may be. Through the sleet, I might see your retreating back as you refrained from knocking on my door, as I come to it to let the cat out for the evening. But you’re on your way. I’ll not call you now.

 

These are my requests. So, if I was to leave my meeting and words up to chance, why, you must be begging me to tell you, am I sending you a letter to request your presence? Well, simply; it is a politeness. A gesture, an opportunity to call you friend. An open hand for you to take when the time comes.

 

But come looking for me and I will not say anything.

 

Nor will I say anything if we meet planned. At some social gathering we know we’re both invited to. Or a wedding of my best friend and your cousin. We will not speak regarding this issue then. Not until we bump into each other at the weekly market where you purchase your poppy seed bread and I sample the delights of oils.

I’m sure by now you have agreed to our lack of plan. However, if you have any issues, I will not hear them unless these conditions are met, by which time I will have expressed my news to you. I’m afraid there is no way to dodge this meeting. But I promise you, you do not want to.

 

Yours,

Hieronymus

Ever so Slightly Human – Part II of II

As a continuation, I’m astounded I wasn’t birthed sooner. I’ll enter into this world as blind as a shrew, unsure; whose continuation am I? I can stumble around in the darkness that is my world for as long as I have to, but what drives me? Heroism, thrust or something different? Desire, perhaps, or longing. Different but similar. I’m a continuation, I’m an echo of something written long ago.

Who is it though? Assume, momentarily, every story stands upright. Two legs, two arms, the boring human figurine. No wings, no snouts, no tusks.

The feet slink up from ankles, forming the curved swell of the calves, folding into knees at the front and still rising, thickening, spiralling around muscles to the hips, cascading down to form genitals and passing up again, a mid-line of the torso, and still the edges fold outwards, forwards and backwards, creating curves of breasts and soft spikes of collar-bones, switching perpendicular, falling down towards rippled elbows, over forearms and ending in the fingers. And no head or neck to be seen.

Is this what we all are?

Simple continuations, nothing ever thinking for itself. We live – our hearts beat softly beneath ribcages composed of backspacing and deletions. But it’s time for thinking that we’ve been here before.

We, the stories, are continuous continuations. Nothing new, I realise. The first episode of a saga stands a few metres away from me, headless, neckless. Not even that tall. The fantasy trope, I could imagine, redone and rehashed, made new, wringed out, tried again, but still a continuation, possibly, of another world. And unthinking and headless.

Episode two of the same saga stands to its left. Much smaller, missing the right arm. Missing both legs – but this is not why it’s short. Its body is much shorter than that of the first saga’s. And the third is nothing more than a torso, upright but unliving. I think I am starting to comprehend.

 

I search for the biggest body I can find. I want to discover what it is. I see it not too far off – black skin, a weak torso but strong legs, male, smooth and hairless. I stay below it, staring up, thinking nothing, mind quietly working. I stare at the place the body’s head should be.

And I see, I almost see a chin. It seems as though the neck extends – and it’s unusual there is a neck at all – into a chin. Nothing above, no face, no ear, no head, no brain. Just a neck, a chin and the rest of the heavy body, weight bearing down on itself. The feet are large, and I fully expect the white ground to crack and splinter beneath its form, but it remains stable. Supportive.

I wonder.

Is this figure the form of a story… or a continuation… that exceeded all limits? The types of stories some wonder why they ever got published or shelved. The types of stories some want to read but cannot dive into. The types of stories you feel envious that your friend understands.

I wonder.

Could this continuation be a book without a protagonist? Or written entirely without a full-stop? Or a book with no solid character at all? Or a story without an arc. Or a book devoid of all surrounding description. Or a story that uses the blankness of pages to enhance it. Or a book describing objects written by a blind man. Or a book filled with gibberish that becomes beautiful literature once you figure out how to read it. Or an event with no resolution.

Looking up at it, it is easy to think. But not so easy to consider a solution, an answer, to this. Who wrote this? Why is the figure of this book a huge, hairless black man? Why does this one have a neck and chin, an occurrence so rare I’ve not seen it before?

But alas the questions will remain floating in this emptiness, not one of them ever getting an answer. But I can understand this.

 

So I, a meagre and small continuation with no context to its birth, turn away. But still my blank mind rages with thoughts and I soon find myself still.

All around me, these stories, these continuations, these sagas and series and solos, stand as still as pillars. A storm could whisk the air around them, tsunamis could crash against their differing bodies, sledgehammers could buffet them, but they would not move. Any dents, or cracks, or chips would be minimal. But I, a moving version, would certainly get washed away. I am vulnerable, clearly.

And yet, another thought from my intangible soup of mind. I can see. I, unlike the tall and unthinking pillars, can not only move, but see. I can think. I can reason. I am small but different, very different. Nothing here can see me, though I am not hidden. These bodies are not dead, they live within their shaded shells, but they are senseless, motionless, invulnerable.

I am something very different.

 

I move on for some time, weaving, floating between each continuation. How am I different? What makes me a continuation worth eyes? What makes me worth movement? Numb feet that drag my body between lines and rows and columns and attentions. Are there more like me?

I pass bodies in the shape of women, some overweight, some slim, some missing limbs and some with extra. The same with the men, some have grotesque additions, body parts stuck on loosely, like a growth. And I remain silent through it all, letting my eyes take it in, letting my mind stay as silent and as cold as it needs to be. It works fast like this.

Some bodies are small, but not small like the 2nd and 3rd sagas I saw before. These are the head- and neckless bodies of children. Their tubby stomachs remain forever thrusted forward, elbows at their sides, and I wonder why some are smaller, some are bigger and some are missing limbs.

They are the same as the adult bodies in that way. The continuations of stories they are unlinked to, I suppose. Headless, thoughtless, but containing the heart and soul of something worthwhile. But yet, they see nothing, they think nothing, they are nothing.

I wonder about them.