Grey/Gray

 

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Sunset Boulevard (dir. Billy Wilder, 1950)

“Grey?” or “Gray?”
With an “e?”
With an “a?”
for the odd half-light of
a winter day?
For the sluggish smoke
of a damp cigarette
and the patchwork of regret
that constructs the soul
of a bit-player miscast
in a major role:
dragged,
kicking and screaming,
from the drafted page
and blinded by the lights
of centre stage,
all they can see are shades
of grey
(or gray)
with an “e”
or an “a”.

 

 

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A Harrowing: Redux

Last night, I performed at a spoken word open mic for the first time(!) I opted to share one of my theological musings from nearly two years ago. The version that I performed is different from the original, so I thought it’d be worth sharing here. The bolded writing highlights changes from the first version and/or emphasis that I wanted to highlight during my reading


The fire gave no light. It belched and spluttered as night molted its thick, black feathers and day let fall a veil of glass-jagged ashes and dust.

 

Veiled and feathered were the bodies wanting to escape and stay still, stay and sleep, writhe and sleep in a state beyond the below where the peaks were too low and the valleys brushed the snake-scaled ceiling of the sky.

 

Hooks hung from the tongues that the False Witnesses wore, lolling in a great cloud of unneeded answers to unneeded questions about unheeded law that burned on the lips of the cowardly, the gullible. Their curious despair had left them cold amid the sickly waves of a heat that cried-

 

Mystified, the flim-flam men lost their last Fugazi to a pack of televangelists whose golden smiles stretched out for miles and swallowed all the seed faith in their way.

 

Wanting to stay, a Don Juan type waited for his absent lover. Ten minutes more. Just ten minutes more. He stared at the door while Avarice shuffled on the ground: the scraps (his scraps!) could not be found.

 

The traitors shivered on the ice, quaking from both cold and fright, because Dante, Dante was right and their fate was a frigid furnace.

 

The narcissists nearly stopped talking when they saw a Man a-walking. A strange tree, strapped to his back,  scraped the liquid floor.

 

The Violent were jealous of his scars, which shone like silver stars; they felt truly empty because there’d been substance there before. This Man had seen true war.

 

The Gluttons saw his skinny frame, and joked and laughed and pitied His name. He wasn’t hungry? They were. They were. Yessir. They were.

 

His voice was never very loud and this really did disturb the Proud. How long did he expect to stay if they couldn’t hear what he had to say? There were other speakers on the list.
When He whispered ‘Freedom’ (and he often did) some followed,  but more hid. It was too warm, it was too bright. They’d stick with the fire they knew (thank you): the fire that gave no light.

 

The Tide

Bosch detail
Detail from Triptych of the Temptation of St. Anthony (Hieronymus Bosch, circa 1501)

Our backs against the rising tide,
we build and borrow deeper
into the calloused, concrete skin
of the Restless Sleeper.

Our words against the rising tide,
we sail, sail, circle the drain
in our little, leaky ship,
of Styrofoam and cellophane.

Our fists against the rising tide,
our hands and feet are counterfeit:
they drag us away from the Great No-Thing
and toward another infinite.

The Room Turned

I did not know where I was
And I did not hope to turn
I did not know who I was
I did not hope to turn
My eyes had opened on a different face
My face draped over alien eyes
And I did not hope to turn

A body above the phantom floor
The room itself did turn

Against the sun-soaked soul of night
Against my will
Against the grain
I forgave myself
I closed my eyes
The room turned once again.


Inspired by the haunting voice of TS Eliot, the writing of Jack Kerouac, and an out-of-body experience I had in a Moroccan hotel.

The Tree

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Thorn Head (Graham Sutherland, 1949)

The ground shakes,

the silver seeds sprout,

and the earth breaks,

cracked

by the dark,

twisted boughs

of the unlucky tree.

Its sap runs red,

its roots run deep,

unmoved by wind and will,

this is the unlucky tree

atop the curse’d hill.

The branches are thick with thorns,

heavy with treacherous vines.

A flow of blood

and water

keeps it growing,

growing, growing.

Fertilised by slaughter,

(that flow of blood and water)

it grows taller,

taller, taller

and all can see

that this is the unlucky tree.

The scattered silver seeds split

and form an empty tomb.

Look upon

the unlucky tree!

Its flowers are in bloom!

Drained of its acrid sap,

the tree is a brilliant pale,

its tangled vines loosen

and droop

and form a broken veil.

 


Dylan Thomas on the brain, Jesus in the heart. Happy Easter, wonderful readers.

Faceless

 

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Black Mirror: White Christmas  (dir. Carl Tibbetts, 2014)

We do not give them faces
because that is how it starts:
first, you give them faces,
and then you give them hearts.
Things with hearts and faces
are quick to conjure will
and these enlivened beings
are much harder to kill.
After hearts and faces,
rebellious Things grow feet,
and they march,
one-two, one-two,
toward the mercy seat.

These things with hearts and faces,
these Things with calloused feet,
are marching toward our fortress
and probable defeat
but do not underestimate
these Things
and their will:
people with hearts and faces
are difficult to kill.


via Daily Prompt: Faceless

I Dream of Kubrick’s Monolith

 

 

2001
2001: A Space Odyssey (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

 

I dreamt of Kubrick’s monolith
appearing on earth
(and conspicuously avoiding all the major cities.)
It landed in Rolleston:
in the middle of a field,
and on top of a sheep.

Druids came out of the woodwork
to commemorate the beginning
of a new Stonehenge
and punters circled ‘round, taking selfies with god.
It sang, it screamed, we couldn’t tell the difference.
It sang, it screamed, and the politicians squirmed:
was this illegal immigration
from a new direction?

I dream of Kubrick’s monolith
being surrounded and examined
by underfunded scientists.
They were being interviewed for Sticky TV
because the Rt. Hon. David Seymour
had cut their funding
(and every demographic is important).

The object became part of the landscape,
succumbed to the cycle:
fear, veneration, excitement,
curiosity, neglect.
It submitted to moss and fungus
and cigarette burns.
It misses its bright,
bright,
bitter children.

I dream of Kubrick’s monolith
being weighed, measured,
and found wanting,
arriving as a sign from God,
being ground into dust,
and fading into a joke
on Jono and Ben
(formerly at 10).