Chains and Ivory

In my time, I’ve seen many things
I’ve seen men cry as steel toed boots are thrown into their guts
blood spurting through still smiling but broken lips
their tears are salty running over purple cheeks and drops from crooked jaws
seeping into the earth to be dried up by the sun

I’ve seen beneath a crescent-moon the bare skin of carved out women
spread on sheets of purple lying unblinking as men make love on top of them
Sex becoming seppuku disembowelling her
with his love and lust and leaving her paler each time

I’ve seen thousands of wars painting peace in red on the birthing bed of Mother Earth
and heard boys crying for the comfort of their mother’s bosom as they bled out
through blown out limbs Their screams like the shrieks of mating foxes
for their jaws are dislocated and hang around their collars
worn like precious necklaces
their blood seen by the bright beam of a half moon

I’ve seen the oldest of forests turned to ash by gasoline
and after found the bones and singed fur of what was once alive
scattered across the vast flat blackness
Saw dead mothers with their dead babies
still tucked under their bellies
sizzling
where heartless beasts of yellow metal came
to chew up Earth and regurgitate her into nothing…

I see now
a white moon face indented with small blue eyes and
a toupee of burnt orange hair sitting on a cushioned throne
in an ivory house His face puckered
sucking on silver bullets His beautiful
and voiceless wives and daughters knelt down
on hands and knees beneath each of his rounded trotters

And I see children suffocating in ash
I see the air rush from their lungs
in a scream imprisoned inside a bubble
that never reaches the waters surface
I see children motherless with younger siblings clawing
at their eldest’s flesh
comfort begged for
the whites of their eyes bright like the moon in the dead of night
becoming the dead of the night
the white man with hair like hot ash looks on but doesn’t see

I see girls with pussies grabbed and bleeding
left to die in bedrooms they were dragged to promised
he will go free and she will be allowed to survive it
I see trainers and thongs behind dumpsters and red faces
smiling and crying. Bare feet chipped toe nails
the drumming of her feet against the skip
I see no one listening

I see schools and hospitals bombed to rubble
I see acid on skin
ribs pushing through the skin
stomachs bloated by hunger as bodies eat themselves
from the inside out
I see babies in nappies
their faces distorted by gas masks
as a war crime seeps into their lungs
held accountable for the crimes of strangers

I see people who make their homes in chains and broken bones
I see fat white men with broken minds and blind eyes in thrones
I see it coming to full circle.

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Forget-me-nots (flash fiction)

The sound of stressed rope is one to remember. Or perhaps one not to be forgotten.

I hear it on a long winter walk through blackening woods. December wind blows through their hollow branches, and the sound of stretched rope hangs from every dying and dead limb.

I close my eyes and find myself down on my knees in a hall. The dead are suspended from the ceiling like installation pieces. Wind slipping through the cracks between the windows, doors, and slithering between their limp legs. Their bodies swaying. The fibres of the rope twisting, tight, some splitting but never giving. Never letting them fall. Never letting their bodies hit the old floorboards like a sack of rocks. They would be there, always, in the grip of the rope they chose or was chosen for them.

And as my eyes trail across the scarred soles of the dead, between two corpses I spot a hole pricked into the ceiling. It holds me. Although I cannot see what, I feel something is watching me from inside it. An eclipse, rotting my eyes as it feeds off my mind, growing until it is the ceiling, the walls and the air in between. And I am staring into the abyss. Around me black clouds swell and circle as lightning flashes, looking for thunder that doesn’t come, without disturbing those who hang from the stars.

An empty noose drops down from the sky and hangs above me. It is mine. A small ladder is beside me. My fingers twitch for the first metal step. But as the noose sways over my head, I glance light in its empty space and I see.

My life flashes in glimpses inside the noose. Showers down smells of summer barbecues: cut grass, crisp meat, sweat, my wife’s perfume, fiancée then, I see her smile beam, her laugh echoes out of the rope, her dark curls almost spilling from the noose.

It swings again and I see my only daughter’s fingers curled tight around my arm, her knuckles strained white, I know I smiled at her then. She had her mother’s wild hair. My green eyes. I walk her down the aisle to the man she’s loved since nineteen.

Again it swings and a first gasp that leads to a first cry bursts from the noose. A grandson, Theodore. Born with the darkest hair and brightest blue eyes that later turned green, shrouded by his mother’s, my daughter’s, long lashes. His pupils so round and black stare down at me from the nose and in them I see my wife. 

There is a low yellow light that warms her pale skin. Purple and green veins wilted beneath the canvas. Her skeleton lay breathing in between the sheets we had once made desperate love in. The gold band and silver ring wrapped around her finger filled me with pain now as it had then as she, who used to outshine gold and silver, now transcended her. Her blue eyes were tired. Her dark hair dull. Her red mouth drained of its warmth. She smiles now as she did then, her irises glitter and wet her cheeks, and her heart finally stops.

I wrap my fingers around the first step, then the second, pulling myself onto my toes. Staring up at the bottoms of others feet as I climb to the top of the ladder.  The noose stops swaying and is noiseless, scentless, blind. I grasp the rope. In my palms it is rough but I’m comforted. It is small, as if made for the neck of an infant.

As I pull the noose down on my crown I feel warmth there. Boiling wetness. The noose stretches like skin down to my ears and the wet warmth follows the rope. I close my eyes as the warmth spreads to my lids and wets my lashes and inside I feel a clock rewinding. I feel pain and loss, happiness and exhilaration easing away. Until I am nothing but fresh meat inside a noose made of rope and flesh.

I step off the ladder. Feel the wind rush past me, humid and sticky, softening my muscles, pulling the lines of laughter from my cheeks, and lines of sadness from my brow. My scalp itches as the hair receeds to near baldness. I feel the rope begin to grow taut.
Then hands pull me out of darkness and into the light.
Air fills my lungs, they cut my cord and I scream.

Consent is the #1 Punchline (Blog)

When I was nine, my class was segregated into genders. The boys were trailed out of the classroom as a woman came in with a small hamper clasped in her hand. She walked to the whiteboard and drew, what we were told, was a vagina.
We were ordered to drag our chairs to the centre of the room as she spread sanitary towels out on a table in front of us.

I don’t remember the talk so what she had said couldn’t have been educational because learning about what was going to happen to my body a couple years on should have shaken me a little. And when I did get my period for the first time, I can assure you, I had no idea how to cope.
The talk ended after twenty minutes and the boys were sent back in.

Eleven years later I picked up The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler and, after finishing, I handed it down to my fourteen year old sister. From the quick read it was we learnt more about the vagina than any science or sex Ed class ever tried to teach.
I then read and eventually finished The Women’s Room by Marilyn French, but after setting this girthy novel down my mind was in turmoil. Why has nothing been done in the world of sex ed to stop the grievous neglect of women seen in 1950s from existing in the twenty-first century? This same neglect of education that lead to the rape and, in some cases, death of women then and now?

I then opened up the question to some friends. At first we joked about the blue dildos, the drunken goggles, how at fourteen the girls were joked into wearing these goggles and trying to put a condom on the blue dildo. How it had the whole class in fits of laughter.  Then, in a breath of silence, realised how fucked up it was.
This class that was supposed to be teaching safe sex was doing the very opposite – turning sex into a joke. A crime being encouraged onto children by adults through neglect and humour. Terrifying.

At eighteen (eighteen!!) we were taught consent through a cartoon, offering tea. The class stifled a laugh throughout the video. After, the teacher encouraged a talk about consent. However, when we were asked if forced oral was rape most shook their heads no and when that was challenged some of the guys looked at complete loss and one or two even in anguish. The bell went then and the teacher lost them. It was never brought up again.

Not long ago, a woman’s underwear was held up in court as evidence that she had wanted to be raped. Before that a young man set free despite being caught by CCTV raping a woman behind a skip.

When sex is a joke, consent a last thought, periods taught to be a taboo to boys, rape culture is created. Enforced, even. As these children taught dangerous lessons grow into adults with dangerous minds or shut quiet by fear that their abuse will not be taken seriously. Or worse yet, those abused do not speak out because they have learnt that they are not to be taken seriously.

And this cycle will continue to loop. My children will suffer or turn into criminals as will yours. Until a higher power decides to stop it. Yet those who run it could change it but they don’t. Why?

Porno

First touch makes skin move from meat when wandering eyes become their first fixed gaze. Nervous fingers trace plump thighs and red lips, he feels the beginning blaze. Upstairs they slither, the boards beneath them creak; towards the darkness of the hall, towards doom where love is breaking, broken, bleak, and can be found in every house, every room, in every city of the week.

Lay her down, be gentle but he is rough. Lay beside her, sympathise her but he holds his weapon still. She bites her lip, it’s over quick. Not quick enough. She coos, she crumbles, down onto the pillow drool spills. They paint the pale canvas red, together their bodies squirm as screams erupt from her head. Her body of bones and soft flesh deflates and he rolls to one side and lights a cigarette whilst watching her body grow cold. He breathes in deep and admires the red sheets and the body that lay upon it like white gold. Her lungs have stopped and her heart won’t beat. He strokes her hair and ashes his butt between her breasts, and says, “she wasn’t really there.”

Loving Loss

Love is the flame that burns as beautiful as it does cruel

it’s a throng of clichés re-sung
by different lips and different tongues
with different meanings, moaned wetly in bedrooms
or whispered softly in our ears, ‘I love you’ said
as much in love as in loss, words made up by people
who take our breaths away and leave
us suffocating
it’s a heart hammering
behind bars that won’t let it quit,
feet running after those who already
have, beds drenched with sweat from
lovers or tears from love lost, pillows
thrown sarcastically at bad jokes
or hugged out of shape trying
to put her back where she used to be,
was supposed to be but no longer would
be. Scarring the map of your memories
of places you’d seen with him and
places you could never go again
and the realisation that love trembles
just as hard on the lips of the first
kiss as the last

You pour gasoline over your head
step into the fire
and burn yourself alive
in pain, in passion

Over and over
again

How Many More

The curtain lifts and falls
as the breath of autumn
slips between the cracks
and wakes me to you.
The new orange sun
warms our quiet nest
and catches on your
freckled cheeks. The memory
of summer dances on
the walls in shades of
orange, the sheer curtains
casting faint shadows that shiver
in the soft wind that has entered
our space and stirred our sleep.
I rest my hand upon your
breast and feel the rise and fall of
your heart that follows the wind.

Yet I wander back through my
mind to darker parts of my
life where the wind didn’t seem
so safe. Where streetlights glared
through water-stained blinds and
striped the bed and walls in black
bars. My hair dragged out to its full
length across cotton sheets whilst his
fingers beneath gently stroked at the
bones that poked through the skin
at my hips. The shadows of my prison
kept his face hidden, but I knew he
watched me with unfeeling eyes
that made my stomach churn. He did
love me, I believed, just not carefully

You roll to one side. Break my
thoughts. Pull me away from
then and deeper into you. My
hand finds the groove from
your chest to your cheek and
I trace the outline of your
lips, feel the stubble breaking
through the skin. You kiss
the tips of my fingers.
I train my eye on the gentle-
ness of your touch, found it
differs from his, taught me the
love I am supposed to have.
I move my mouth to yours and
taste your last cigarette on your
tongue; I lap up its strangeness.
Beneath these sheets my body finds
yours and invites in the comfort
of your own and as we find our
pace, I wonder how many more
are like you.

There was too much haste in his
softness, too much bitterness in his
patience, too much terror in his
silence. His mouth fell too hard against
my throat, too starved of everything
that lay beneath my skin and left
teeth marks too deep in my flesh
to be loving. I was too much his.
His hands closed gently round my
waist until his fingers met behind my
back, kissing my wincing face. And
I let my body go slack. I felt alone with
him and he could feel like the unseen
monster that had picked the lock
to my home and let himself inside.
And I wondered, how many more
were like him.

Where she falls

My mother breathes, stands, falls,
and through dull clouds of winter breath she recalls,
her life on the cliff between four morbid walls.
With the wind licking at her skin like artic fire,
her voice calls out, ‘this was my only desire.
Up above, back on that cliff’s edge, father stayed
his hair and eyes as black as berries, he prayed,
“let the rocks not tear her frame nor the sea wash her away
or with this needle I will stitch her up and here she will stay.”
But I’m relieved to say that beneath the white waves was where my mother lay.