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Chickens

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‘If we lived in a world where women were murdering men en masse and men genuinely had reason to fear they might be murdered in their beds by a gang of marauding feminists, I would agree with your concern,’
Clementine Ford.
We found it hiding underneath the bleachers. 

Anita had gotten a righteous shot in with the crossbow, punched through the right thigh before it broke off into a loping, awkward run into the corridors of the high school. It left a trail of blood which we followed, shaking with fear and excitement as its cries echoed off the walls.
Karen cradled her baseball bat close to her chest as she glanced at us, grinning with anticipation.
‘This is the last one, girls, then we’re clear.’ she said.
I looked outside, saw the younger girls dragging bodies onto the smouldering bonfire as their songs and cheers of victory reached us.
The element of surprise had guaranteed us a head start. They were stronger than us, faster and adapted for violence at a genetic level.
We moved into the gym, heard it pleading from the corner as the four of us spread out to cover the exits. Karen turned the bat over in her hands and tightened her grip as she walked towards the bleachers.
‘Come out and we’ll make it quick.’ she said.
One thing I admired about the harder ones, they never gave up. Wounded or mutilated, they fought to their last breath and some of them would look you in the eye as you came for them. They had been in our homes, our schools and places of work forever, but still they fought hard to live.
After the first one, it got easier for me to do it. I made it quick with the machete, aiming for the head or the neck wherever possible. Anita liked the crossbow because it lent a sense of theatre to proceedings, she said, but I knew she enjoyed the pursuit, heightened until the last blow landed. One night, she confided in me how it made her wet when she killed one. I said nothing, but ever since; I looked at her with detachment and questioned her motives.
I did not do this in public. Apostates got demoted to support our infrastructure. Repeated infractions were a ticket to Central Processing, which no one spoke of aloud.
Karen and Anita moved to either side of the bleachers. I guarded the entrance, gun in my hand as I flipped off the safety and waited for the signal.
The sharp twang of the crossbow followed by a guttural scream was my cue to move in.
It clutched at the bolt in its stomach, eyes streaming tears as it gasped and pleaded for life. Blood pooled and soaked through the ragged, stained t-shirt as its hands grew slick. Karen walked forwards and smacked the bat down into its face. She swung the bat down twice before she stepped back and reviewed her work with a grim nod of satisfaction. They both looked at me with an unspoken question in her eyes. I tucked the gun into the back of my jeans and I pulled it out, cocked the hammer and levelled it at it.
They had always been a threat, hadn’t they?, something happened. I remembered Tommy floating in the pool whilst Mom waded out of the water. Dad had been in the study, with his throat opened in a thick, red line. It was us or them, and yet as I looked at Karen and Anita, I wondered who we were.
The gun was heavy in my hand as I aimed down the front sight. At least, I told myself; I was offering mercy as I pulled the trigger. It looked me in the eyes and held my gaze until the shot snapped its head back and it slumped like a puppet with its strings cut.
Karen and Anita dragged it to the bonfire. I noticed the class ring had come off its finger, caught on the edge of the door frame, and I pocketed it before either of them saw it.
The cries of women rose in the air as I slipped the ring into my pocket and followed them outside, grateful they were not looking at my face.
It had asked me out last summer.

 Anita said it was disgusting and I was too ready out with the likes of something so base and toxic. It took the hint and left me alone but would exchange hopeful glances with me in the corridors until Principal James ordered them to avoid direct eye contact in the halls under the micro-aggression policies.

Today had been the first time we’d seen one another.


It looked up at me as the others dragged it through, but I couldn’t hold the gaze. The smell of burning meat wafted over and my mouth watered as the bell rang for lunch. It was easier to pretend this was all fine, so I did.

Did it used to have a purpose? Talking about it gets you wrote up, and when I think about it, my head hurts and I go away for a little while.
I walked away from the bonfire and walked inside, found the drinking fountain which used to look tall to me, but now I have to squat in front of it and strain my neck to reach the spout. The water doesn’t taste as good, although we’re told it’s safe.
It is safe now, isn’t it? 

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Genuine – spoken word

Listen to Genuine by matt blissett #np on #SoundCloud

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Tiny Cities

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Dad had always been a mystery to me. He had a smile for everyone, would pitch up to help anyone who asked, and sometimes if they didn’t. He held himself at a quiet remove from everyone, focused on his responsibilities but also his activities in the workshop at the bottom of the garden. No one was allowed in there, not even Mom. We were intrigued, then resentful then finally accepting of the fact that he needed space to be himself. Not Dad or Husband, but a man who would spend time alone, engaged in some task he found more fascinating than anyone or anything else.

His death unmanned us. A twelve month slide into the degradation of cancer, a pain so unsurmountable, that at various stages, we all wished for it to end whilst hoping for a miracle or enough time to say what we needed to say whilst he had the clarity to understand and perhaps respond.

As the bureaucracy of death demanded a response, so it was left to me to undergo the business of sorting through his possessions. His will had left everything to me, aside from enough for a round of drinks at the local pub where we held the wake for him. Complete strangers came up and told me what a wonderful man he had been. I did not have the heart to say that, to me, he was a loving stranger.

Yet he left me the key to his workshop.

It was a good time to be distracted. Grief had been as transformative as it was destructive, and I had extricated myself from a marriage relatively unscathed. There was not anyone involved except the person I had become, and the ambiguity made everything more painful than it might have been. Clearing away Dad’s things, finally seeing inside the workshop gave me things to get me through.

The house still carried the scent of him, sandalwood, sawdust and the dark tobacco he was perfumed with. Mum had gone a few years before him, but her presence was as tangible as his. In the dusty silence, I wept for them and for myself. It passed, a spasm that gets worked out like a cramp does. I had selected a few items, some photographs, a deck of cards that he used to play euchre with. He was lonely and respected in the way all men aim to be. I hoped that I had inherited some of that from him.

He had managed to be himself and stay married. It was a skill I had yet to learn, and the thought turned in my stomach like a knife, so I decided to do what I had really come here for.

2.

The workshop had been built and tended to with a large amount of care, which was how he showed his love. We were never allowed in there and with each step, the key in my breast pocket grew heavier. My fingers were damp with sweat but the key fitted into the lock and turned with a crisp click. My heart stopped for a moment, and then, I pushed the door open and stepped inside.

My presence triggered the lights overhead. UV fluorescents, and for a second, I wondered if he had been going cannabis in here. What the lights revealed was something entirely different.

A city, with motifs and landmarks borrowed from the great cities of the world. Lights twinkled in waves, a horizontal constellation of stars that made me stagger backwards. My eyes grew damp with an absurd burst of wonder exploding in my chest.

It floated in a large pond of bubbling luminescent water, and I saw the cables disappear into it, the colour and consistency of licorice. At the bottom they were twisted into mandalas of connection, wrapped in clear plastic. I heard the beep of a car horn and looked back at the city.

Saw that people were moving down there.

Where there had been light, now there was sound and activity.

A cliche of mental breakdowns is a florid disconnect with reality. In my experience, it had been too much reality that caused mine, but as the city came to life, and I watched it with a vantage point known only to drones and gods, I was unnerved and delighted with equal measure.

I squatted in front of it, saw a couple leave a hotel lobby and kiss one another with want and sadness. They were no larger than the period at the end of a sentence, but they lived, laughed and moved as perfectly as any human being.

The rush of blood and excitement made me dizzy as I stood up but I kept breathing.

Kept looking.

I laughed and shook my head.

‘Oh Dad.’

He would never be able to explain it to me. What was I supposed to do with it? I yearned to have him there, showing me his work and how he did it. I walked back to it, looking at an ornate skyscraper, fringed with an observation deck

A woman stood on its fence, toes resting over the edge as she looked down. I leaned forward, fascinated and horrified by what I was seeing.

The wind whipped her auburn hair about her face. She clung to the rail, her emerald eyes staring out at nothing.

Until she saw me.

She went white with shock and her face twisted into an expression of disbelief. She slipped, and on instinct, I reached out and caught her in the palm of my hand. The impact registered as a warm gust of breath across my hand and it tickled when she scrabbled to stand up.

She spoke but I could not understand her. I was no physicist, more like an unreconstructed nerd, armed with pop culture references and loose supposition. I sought to keep my voice as soft as possible because of the physics, but I knew better than anyone that words can hurt.

‘Hi.’

She looked at me, folded her arms around her chest. I strained to capture the details of her features. She chewed her bottom lip and her pert nose wrinkled with confusion and awe. The economy of scale between us swallowed her words like oysters.

I wasn’t sure I had done the right thing here. She stared at me, and I wondered how my face looked to her. Like Mount Rushmore coming to life.

She leaned over, sobbing so hard her shoulders shook as she stood there in the palm of my hand.

I looked around me, panicked as to what to do next. Dad’s tools were mounted on the wall, in perfect order and maintained to remain almost new no matter how long he had them. There did not appear to be anything that would help me communicate with this woman.

Then I saw the envelope.

It had my name written on it in his neat, ordered handwriting. I put the woman down on the worktop and opened it.

‘I promise, as soon as I figure out what the fuck to do, I will.’

Son,
I should have started this sooner. My work here probably tests your sanity. It certainly did mine. This is what I spent my time doing. All men should have a purpose, and this was mine. I do not know if you have found yours. I kept all your poems and stories, and I figured in time, you might figure out what it is you were meant to do with your life. You care about people. This would be a perfect way to practice that.
There is a journal in the top drawer. It will tell you everything you need to know. There are also a set of headphones that you can listen to them until you put the suit together.

I love you and I was always proud of you.

I turned and stared at her. It was pointless to talk to her so I opened the drawer. A scuffed leather journal and a pair of headphones held together with electrical tape and connected to an ovoid piece of metal. I put the headphones on and slipped the metal device into my pocket.

‘What I don’t get is why you think this is in any way okay?”

I turned. Her voice rang in my ears as clear as a bell.

She stared at me.

‘Oh Jesus, you heard me?’

I smiled. Her voice had a bustling, rural quality to it that I liked immediately.

‘Not quite, although I am you know, His Son.’

Her name was Dawn.

The city was called Predestination. It had been discovered in Eighth Summer. I imagined that he would explain it to me in the journal. If not, then I would figure it out for herself. I grew nervous at the thought of her asking questions, but when I offered to put her back where I found her, she blushed and shook her head.

She asked if she could be put on the ground instead.

I decanted her back on the sidewalk. She waved to me, grinning with a sweetness that made my heart ache like it had eaten too much candy. I left the lights on. I would be back.

I walked outside to meet the night that had fallen. I held the journal to my chest and looked up at the sky.

‘I won’t let you down.’

 

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Reflections in two mirrors

He sent them to be seen by her. That he had tangible proof of his commitment to his purpose and his growth. Each session, each rejection of easy but costly temptation was there in the heft of his pectorals, the lines and striations in his hip flexors and the way that the softness around his jawline was disappearing. He loved the reaction, knowing that she carried the coiling heat of want within her. A talisman against the bland sweep of days. He could not fake the look in his eyes, in a moment sourced in purest expression of his primal, sexual self. Such awareness and acceptance was rare, he had denied it before, but now he was comforted and protected by it.

She struggled with it. She knew the angles to offset the parts of herself that remained distasteful to her. Her body rebelled with the marks of time, but his reaction cast its  magic over her. A litany of informed praise, fuelled by want rather than need. Through him, she saw herself and it rubbed raw against everything else around her. A sweet pain, an eroticized grief that in its rejection, left deep scars that only he would be able to heal.

Now the mirror, the chain of static images connects them both and they pretend it is not there for the sake of sanity.

It remains though, and it would take so little yet so much to pick it up again and feel its comforting, powerful weight.

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A Storm That Frightens The Animal

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The unspoken heat 

Between us seethes

Peering between the bars

Of it’s cage

Yet so often, it’s lust

Is mistaken for anger

But here, we pass one another

The means to set it free.

Wrestling against one another

Mouths blooming where they meet

Hands finding something worthy

To touch, the fragile strength

That grows and swells

Like a stormcloud

Soak me with your rain

Deafen me with your thunder

Burn me with your lightning

This beast,

It has your eyes

And my voice

Come here

Set

It

Free

 

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Possession

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To Meet With You Again.

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Swept by the

Wind

Through

Holy places

Wandering in search of

Memories to feel whole again

Now you find me

Ready to guide you from thought

Downwards into feeling

Golden with want

Kneeling beneath my gaze

Beautiful, and wanton

 

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Walk With Me (Audio)

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Teeth

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My erudition

Is not deference

Let me show you

My teeth

The fur upon my chest

My thick thighs 

Broad back

To sweep you

Into my embrace

There is earth not dirt

On my soul

And you cannot wash it off

Once you surrender

Some small part

Of you remains

I clean you with my tongue

Words that speak

A fine, deep knowledge of you

And all your secrets are toys

For me to enjoy

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Muse

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Always striving

Never complete

I make art

In so many ways

With a focus

That robs you of breath

If you let yourself 

Consider what it is

That you might

Be it’s inspiration

Come to me

Every ounce of courage

Hold nothing back

You might settle

Out of fear

But here in unknown territory

You might find

Beauty marks your soul

When seen through my eyes

And you will be a stronger

More passionate woman

For the experience