Time Waits For No-One
Tom was out and about near the pier, mainly cruising. Waiting to see what would happen. Most of his friends had grown up faster than him – and he was left more or less alone in this godfearing, godforsaken, godawful town…and there didn’t seem much point in whistling along in his fashionable suit just to outsmart a series of blank-faced strangers who didn’t seem to know a good time even if it sped their way at full tilt.
Nevertheless, almost religiously, every Saturday night, Tom strutted his sharp-edged stuff down the High Street…only later to lope back up it.
He might venture into old haunts, such as the now deserted youth club – where he recalled Little Eva making a personal appearance in a past era which was truly providential compared to the tawdry present one – or the Crab and Pumpkin where old people longed for a tug at the dugs of the latest low-cut barmaid whilst lobbing darts into a cork circle and, yes, even older folk sitting around at tables of six tussling with quiz questions on sublects that tried to summon a nostalgia even for the present as well as for the provenance of some untimely erstwhile hinterland of hope.
“Who wrote the road to Hell is paved with good intentions?’ asked the questionmaster.
“Some bloke called Blake,” fluted Tom in his wake, as he quit the pub’s purlieus. This particular Saturday, there was rumoured to be a hop that only needed loungers with beerpots to stand around waiting to pluck up courage to ask loose-limbed floozies to leave their handbags and dance with them instead of each other.
Rumours in this town were worst than cancellations, though, Tom thought, as he swaggered down Rosemary Road, seeing the lights of the MAGIC CITY arcade frozen in their flickering. Indeed, the Y of CITY had gone fully out. Bingo numbers were being called by a lady’s dulcet amplifications of tone – but no-one played. Once blank-faced strangers were no longer mooching. Even McDonald’s windows had milked up and Tom couldn’t see if any customers were slowly queuing up inside. He took to loping again and reached the end of the pier. The sea was dark but perceptibly stationary. The waves looked razor-edged.
Time was when he’d have stood here in the quiff-stirring winds along with others of his kind – burping and cheering and even hopping off into the sea as a beery sort of Dare. But, now, there was silence.
Tears and waves have one thing in common. The salt.
Time hung heavy. He slipped out of his snazzy outfit and wondered if Heaven would have a Magic City, too – one where no-one played.
(published ‘Monas Hieroglyphica’ 1999)
Too Short For A Name
He was sick of drawing triangles, parallelograms, rhomboids, trapeziums, cubes, polyhedrons in his exercise book.
Under the searing eyes of the maths teacher, who had it in for him, he drew a paranoid…
(published ‘Psychopoetica’ 1990)
No Words For Voices
I sit alone in the French windows.
They can see me from the orchard garden; many are pointing together as if to demonstrate their discovery of my presence to the others who have not yet spotted me.
When they begin to shout, I assume a dignified silence and a statuesque immovability, not because I moodily resent their intrusion to my privacy but simply that if I shout back I would not hear their words. Mouthing off warning shots, they are, I assume. The world is a brash place these days…
After listening for a while, I recall my companion in solitude as she fidgets in her wing armchair further back in the shadowy room.
“They say the house is on fire, my dear,” I nearly say, but bite my tongue surreptitiously upon it first under-resting the edge of the top teeth in the first syllable of my by now fictitious sentence.
Soon, the window glass clouds over as if the sand from which it has in part been manufactured is becoming atomised grey matter. The house is aware of its own proximity to Hell, even if we the old codgers inside it are blissfully oblivious of such imminence.
For many years now, even from before I can remember, we have grown old gracefully: we have religiously followed the dance choreographed by God’s angels in the master bedroom of Heaven. Nothing has been too beautiful for the likes of us, even in dotage and eventual senility. They say (whoever “they” have the cheek to be) that with the onset of over-extended life comes the inability to use words with any degree of intelligence and articulation. I prove them wrong merely by pre-empting such accusations with the articulation of the very same words THEY pride themselves in using. Just with a few pumps of my faithful lungs upon the vocal instrument, the word “articulation” will trip off my tongue a real treat.
The tragedy of any handicap is the fact that those so cursed often fall short of finding the words to describe and explore their affliction: philosophical consideration of their failing is quite beyond their reach wholly due to the effect of the same failing upon their minds. A vicious circle, if ever there was one … like love gradually transmuting to hate in relationships of once unshakeable affection.
I turn towards the only person I have really cared for (even if I haven’t always shown it) and open my mouth to warn her. It may be too late for me, but…
My mouth proves to be without tongue whatsoever and I cannot even compliment my darling on the return of her flaming red hair which first attracted me all those long years ago.
(published ‘Massacre’ 1992)
Back To Basics
Madame Claire inched her bottom towards me on the chaise longue. We were waiting together, based on the theory that two heads were better than one. Split the difference. Halve the elapsing time. The fact that one of us waited for something entirely dissimilar, as well as secret – well, it should have been neither here nor there. Yet, both our waits were pointless, as it turned out, since there arose another factor altogether a ghost – altering the course, not only of Madame Claire’s life and of my own, but also that of the dead person that had given it life … a ghost that thus reflected backward with its effects as well as forwards: as ghosts often did in the old days. The eerie side-shape was more than merely a ghost, however. There was a semblance of hope, a dread, a memory, a supposition – all these things at once – tinged with a supernatural element that had more in common with basics than anything higher: God the ground exhaling an angel of air. Madame Claire nodded, agreeing with my silent description of the phenomenon. We kissed for the first time. Evidently, the chaise longue could wait no longer.
(published ‘Oasis’ 1997)
I’m a wreck-fish first and firstmost, ne’er-be-lickit, happy as a sandboy with a crop-eared velvet-runner. I dodge them witters and blubbring brother-brutes alike. The besomclean junk-wad is bedded amid the daughterlings of the yeast-bitten salt-wine. It knows none of sky’s blashy, flisky giddiheads of storm, down here where the fan-nerved earthflies bear their fear-babes. The enchanter’s-nightshades have the tidal fidgets while their weedy cradle-clothes gather to garnish the pricker-roach and the girt, besmottered hog’s-lard of a glibbery funk-willie.
I, once witling and muttonmonger, now flit-fold of the sea-shades, tittertotter through the giffgaffs and bugling sea-sounds. I strip the cradle-clothes from the pricker-roach and tongue it askingly, then edge towards the glibbery funk-willie, swallowish and gulpswollen as I drift with the weedy sea. The funk-willie escapes, blubbring and besnuffed; it flees my eager ne’er-be-lickit tongue; it’d rather face the blashy giddiheads of the real sky than the dangers of the sea’s shyfryngs and velvet runs…
To go peckish for another enchanter’s-nightshade of the deep sea, there’s only hog’s-lard and fucus for a fan-nerved wreck-fish such as I. Enough to make me swallow my own body with the head and tail left on.
(published ‘Psychopoetica’ 1992)