Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Smoke And Mirrors

As a Tithonus, waking joyfully in lust
To see the golden sun
I choose, humbly, to greet you
My love.

The air shimmers as you move
Making space, Paying homage
To your passing
Bowing and scraping on its heels.

What joys are concealed within that smile?
It curves easily upon your face
Like a rose in full bloom's spring

What infinite grace is in your sway
The swish and flick of the ends of your skirt
Caught in motion, still
For a moment, a frame, a sketch.

The arch of your back as you stand
Those long, slender legs taut at ease
Do you practice your looks on a mirror
Before the unsuspecting public?

You do, do you not?
As you put on the false colors
Which brighten and pale
The various hues across your face?

You do rehearse, don't you?
Before you say just that much.
The hint of a thought of a murmur
Lips caressing my ears with only sound?

It is fake, is it, or do you claim reality
On the smoky eyes
Which invite into their depths
Depths no one man could ever reach?

For there are many who have tried
And many who failed
Their corpses, frozen, in disbelief and horror
Lie along the way.

The way is crooked, and paved
With daggers and exotic poisons
An illusion you perpetuate, easily and always
You, of smoke and of mirrors.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


He watched above him, as the building tilted slowly to a seventy degree angle. Each inch of movement was accompanied by an ear-splitting, constant, high-pitched shriek of metal twisting against will. The tall, gaunt structure of steel and concrete and glass towered above him; he hunched on the ground below, holding his hands to his ears.

The ground was not safe beneath him either. It cracked open in fissures, spewing forth molten rock and an orange lava death. It could burn through his arm, cutting through the flesh clean like a meat-carver's knife. He would ran to save himself, but no one could rescue him. As the city imploded around him, he was the only resident. Losing sense of direction and of mind, he ran away from the concrete splinters below him, in any direction anywhere. He screamed till his lungs heaved in dryness and pain and exhaustion. The boiling sun was directly overhead and he feared when he saw mighty shadows moving at his feet. More and more skyscrapers, keeling over in surrender - but to what, he cried out. Dynamite? Nuclear weapons? TNT? Terrorists? He ran wildly, as his world crashed around him. He ran towards the edge of the city, seeing it on the horizon. The last mighty building, emptying its stomach from the top floor - office desks, computers, papers and potted plants - as it broke its spine at the mid levels to crash below. He ran through rubble and shattered glass, mounds of concrete and dining tables already burning from the temperature of the concrete road.

He tore at his hair in madness as he crossed the burning barricades to the outer border of the city. Only wilderness now, and a torn earth. The mountains, enclosing the very edge of his horizon, burst open in a volcanic eruption that evaporated the clouds above them, sending a wave of heat that singed the hair on his body, from hundreds of miles away. The packed, burning balls of dirt and dust and stone would rain down in another minute. His last coherent thought, before he slid to terror and madness - I never played at the Royal Albert - seemed odd and out of place.

He woke on his own bed with a start, sweat pouring from every inch of his skin. He looked around him frantically, first right then left. In the corner he saw it, behind the ornamental lamp on the wooden cabinet, in a case gathering dust and spiderwebs, his guitar.

She was on a ferry, crossing the river to work, a luxury she allowed and enjoyed once every week. She did not know that, until she thought of it. She was afraid of water. So, this did not make much sense. Oh, well. Maybe it was okay. The light ship shook and jerked still suddenly, as if somebody had dropped anchor. As she looked around, suddenly apprehensive and afraid to see what had happened, the waters below shot up to hit her. As a force, they struck her face and her body, sucking her in like a rag doll of inconsequential weight or soul. She was in a wave, or in the river, or deep below the surface - at once. She couldn't tell if the ferry had capsized, or the river had lunged at her. She only knew that she couldn't breathe and she couldn't swim. The biggest shock when we drown, the voice said to her, is the silence. Blanketed in water, waves and waves of it in tonnes and tonnes, you are on your own. Listen to your heart beating, it said. It grows more frantic, more and more as you try to push your way up with your hands. Let it go. They are too slow, too new to this world. Look up. Can you see the sun, blurred but bright, shining down on you? Do you miss your life?

She cried, yes. In her head, she screamed - for mercy and for breath. There was no reply.

Then, listen. Listen to your heart. What do you regret? Why do you want to go back? To a desk and a mortgage? To a fashion store and dental insurance? Why should you live, you statistic?

I want ... I want a car. I want ... a big house! I want to breathe!


No! I want to grow old! I dont want to die alone!

You are alone. You are inconsequential. You are a bacteria, a virus, an ant and a pigeon. You are Social Security #57649102. You are overdrawn by $6430. You are a two time minor traffic offender. You are nothing more.

I want to be a doctor! I want to study medicine! I always want to be a -

Her eyes opened wide and she took great gulps of air, centrally heated in her apartment, in her room, on her bed. She cried for the next two hours, sitting alone, over her life, about her job, and about dropping out of college.

People saw the young boy collapse in the supermarket. He dropped a box of cereal and fell to the floor, twitching rapidly with his arms locked to his sides. They called for an ambulance, reporting a seizure, and yelled out for a doctor.

He was in the front seat of a car, watching another himself drive alongside him. They were on the incoming traffic lane, speeding along the highway and the driver was laughing at oncoming headlights. He tried to stop the car, but could not move a muscle of his body. He saw trucks swerve at the last instant to avoid collision, he heard the mad laughter of his own self at the driver's seat.

You fool! It's too late now. We have to die now!

No! Please dont! Stop the car! Who are you??

Wrong question!

Why are you doing this to me?? Where am I??

Better! You have to hit rock-bottom, before you can rise up again. This is your test.

Stop the car, please!

This is your test. What do you regret the most, if I hit that Corvette half a minute ahead of us? What pains you the most, aside from your shattered ribs and your smashed brain? This is a test.

This isn't real! What's happening??

This is in your mind. And your mind makes it real. So do you want to bet that your body wont die if your mind tells it to? Its a simple question. Fill out the questionnaire please, and hand in your answer booklet at the front desk. Now!

I want to paint.

Do you? More than anything, you do?

More than anything, I do. I do! I want to paint. Please, let me go!

Wake up, and save your damned soul, you molecule of filth. Or one day, you will die regretting this again. Wake. You've just had a near-life experience.

The EMTs rushing him to the hospital had to stop the ambulance in the middle of the road. The boy had returned to consciousness suddenly. Out of a coma, and he had leapt to his feet. He had cried out for them to stop the ambulance and let him out. They checked his pulse and his head. He had no injuries anyway, so they did not know how to keep him any longer. He jumped out of the back door of the slowing ambulance and ran down the street. Back home. At the back of his front desk drawer, sealed shut from lack of use, were his colors. His brushes would be below his mattress. And he needed to breathe easily again. So he ran to them.

The Zeroth Law of Fight Club is that you can talk about Fight Club. Just be discreet in your methods.

Walk Like An Egyptian

There are two ways he saw of doing things. He always did the other.

A tall, man in long trousers and a slack shirt around his shoulders. His sleeves were halfrolled up, half rolling down. Long since forgotten the need to tidy, or the consciousness. He walked alone. It could be a street, stuffed with vendors and fumes and commuters in black overcoats. It could be a garden-path, trees with branches sagging under the weight of birds and fruit, cobblestones clicking to his tune. It could be a long, straight road, in the middle of a nowhere, shimmering at the horizon as a truck came hurtling down carrying smells of refuse and tonnes of goods. He thought it was an alley, dark with only television lights from buildings above and the burning flame of someone's cigarette at the end.

Sometimes he thought it could be a plank, and his arms instinctively went behind his back, and he took every step measured, feeling the gentle pressure beneath his feet and the arch of his sole. He was confused, often, at such times - wondering which one he wanted it to be.

He was an observer of humanity, he had decided. A long time ago, when nothing else seemed to work. He watched them stride furiously to their workplaces. Come back out in the evening. Go home, slowly and ponderously. The hawkers in the streets ran up for a quick sale. The urchins needed their money, hopping on little feet with outstretched, dirty hands. He could see as just a strange show.

He would walk on from there. In the mornings, women came out to balconies to dry clothes, flicking them sharply in the wind, sending sharp drops of water down onto his face. They would go back in to their kitchens and fumes of food and spice.

He was a traveller, he decided finally. He would like to see places and their buildings. Every place had different trees, different clothes and languages. People put on newer things, striking the eyes, and danced differently. He walked past factories and mills, belching smokes all day and drunken rabble outside at night. He walked through villages and country inns, the sight of mud and people being tossed out late at night in senseless carousal. He watched the people rush by highway roads in buses and in cars. So eager to get from one place to another. But so stonefaced all the way, checking for luggage and keys. People traveled in packs, and liked it, he did not understand. So he thought no more of it.

He listened to people, when they spoke - trying to identify more than accent, trying to look inside for worry and anxieties. He disliked happy people, they were too obviously sad and lonely. He sat in bars and heard the depressed people instead. Talking about children and mortgages. He thought he learned from them, their manners and angers.

He decided he wanted to die, one day. He was tired of monotony. And there was so much more to see, on the other side. He had read the stories, heard the tales and the incantations in the desert. His spirit would see the rest of the world, and he would learn. He wanted, above all, to remain free. To not feel a hunger or a thirst, and so not be stopped as he wandered.

He told someone this, the only words he said. And shocked him. Why, what good could it
do? Why do you want to end it?

A love of death, my friend, is a very advanced case of wanderlust.