beauty, love, men, poetry, women

Zero

I am not
The uncomfortable feeling
You can’t put your
Finger on
I play without haste
But not without urgency
And tension is sometimes sublime
In the play of us
But you don’t need to
Explain it to me.
I will not
Be the vampire
Teeth in your throat
Sucking down clots
Of your inner life
And I won’t offer
Up my own in trade
I’m someone to be
Earned and
Having tasted zero
I will not drink from
It’s waters without
Cause

3.
The world sought to
Break me and
I sought to rescue my
Inner father from the
Leviathans belly
And drowned awhile
Before I found him
Smear some with the
Title of creep and
The dangerous, uncivilised
Men you want still
Know the invitation of your eyes

Advertisements
Standard
men, poetry, work

Eastern Standard Tribe

In tailored armour

Black circles underneath

Our eyes,

Voices raw from persuasion

We soldier on

Warmed by the light

From close-held goals

The world asks us

To bear in silence

The wounds it inflicts

And through them

We mine for wisdom

Strength and substance,

We nod to one another

As we pass by

Onto the next battlefield

Carrying the remains with us

And leaving no man

No woman

Behind

Standard
beauty, love, men, poetry, women

A gift

When my strength

Falters

Let me rest my weary

Head against your shoulder

The gift of my vulnerability

Wrapped in stoicism

Opened with care

Because I’ve given it before

And they took all the pieces

Made a knife and

Carved their name

Into my chest

But you,

Eyes shining with

Delight at the

Chance to serve

The wounds I bear

Hold me close

Brush your fingers

Against my skin

Make me remember

My strength

When it feels like a

Myth told so often

Its meaning worn away

But you are muse

And nurse

The healing begins

And I soften

Before I grow

Hard

Ten feet tall

Made from diamond

 

Standard
beauty, love, men, poetry, women

Daily Prompt: Underdog

The scars turned silver

Like unmined veins

Down my sides

And despite the unkindness

I’ve been shown

A loving light

Remains in my eyes

And ragged with old wounds

I guard you

With the ferocity

Of wolves

Even when your strength

Exceeds mine

And I want nothing

Of pity

Trust that I have fight

Enough to chase the

Shadows from your

Heart

Feed me from your

Warm palm

And let me sleep close

Nothing hurts you

Not even me

via

Daily Prompt: Underdog

Standard
men, short fiction

Sons of the muse

Henry taught ethics at a university.  Held tenure, slept with his students. Got into the awkward street fights disguised as social justice at an age where he should have been worrying about his prostate.

They caught him on a video, swinging a bike lock on the head of a Trump supporter with a dull thwack before he ran away, huffing as his age weighed him down like a lead weight. He found a terrible glee in his actions. A terrible cunning allowed him to evade arrest for four days before someone on 4chan posted his name and details.

 

Henry’s mother died in a dry, tight knot of agony and insensible through the fog of narcotics keeping her alive. She kept trying to tell her son something important. She wandered from her bed when he ran out to the store and wrote a name on the corner of a tablecloth in lipstick. Henry found her, soiled and unconscious in the hallway and smudged the lipstick into illegibility with a brush of his hip as he lifted her to his hip. He bumped a framed picture of her, flowers in her hair and caught dancing with an intense, skinny man with burning eyes and lithe, taut limbs. He did not see it.

 

Donald never told anyone he had been born with a different name. He had changed it the same week he had joined the Marine Corps.

 

Sky. His mother had him adopted when she returned to New England, tanned and pregnant, to the chill bosom of her family. She never told anyone who the father was. She knew but the burden of revelation lay in the fear it would come. Sky went to a series of foster homes, fought his way to the top of the bloodied hierarchy he found himself in.

 

He went where they told him. By November of 2017, he was a decorated colonel in an office. Part of him wanted to be out there, fighting again. He was too brilliant a leader to stay at the front line but anyone who fought with him said they would believe themselves alongside someone borne to war and safe in his company.

 

If pressed, they would admit they were frightened of him. He loved it too much, persuaded his men over ordering them and the power of it returned to them in the bitter watches of the years after. He sat in his office and struggled with the urge to go out and kill. On that day, he gave in and when the armed response team breached the campus, he had littered with bodies, he wept with relief as the air rang out with shots.

 

Steven sat in the car on his driveway, hands gripping the steering wheel and grimacing as he watched his wife moving from the living room to the dining room. His kids and their families, all waiting for his birthday party to happen. The shotgun laid across the back seat, gleaming and lethal with an empty box of ammunition next to it. He got out and reached across to lift the shotgun as he left the car.

Steven had struggled with the lack of control in his life and when he surrendered to it, all his anxiety was wiped away. The dancing demon monkey in his head had its message heard. He had tried to be a good man, and could summon an unearthly charisma but his wife Ellen made a passive revolt when the children went to college and went back to college. He walked up his drive with the gun in his hands and enjoyed the hot stone of excitements in his belly. It burned good as he kicked open the front door.

 

The police thought it was a drug related murder but Steven was in Mexico by then and enjoyed six weeks before a sweet little girl with a grown up ass knifed him on a dance floor after warning him about tickling her twice. His dad, Paul, had a heart attack when the police told him about his son and his family. Franny had died twenty years ago, and he’d kept the secret of how he wasn’t Steven’s biological father as a way to keep something of his wife alive. He loved his other children more,they were easier, more agreeable people than Steven had been.

 

Franny went to California in the sixties for college. She managed a semester before she returned to town and when Paul asked her out, she said yes. The pregnancy was sudden but she didn’t want him to wear anything. Time unravelled the deceit, calculation disguised as instinct.

 

Charlie laid on bleached worn sheets, raped with IV tubes and machines to monitor his waning vitals. Memories were his drug of choice. He remembered the women he fucked, although he liked the ones who resisted. He always knew when he got one pregnant. A reporter had tried to get photos of him and Charlie was disappointed he didn’t. The terrible thing for him was the idea of being forgotten, dismissed and belittled by a world which knew him to be a joke. His power and his destruction were connected in his ability to inspire others. He thought of his children as his body surrendered to entropy and hoped they knew of him in some way. He was a corrupt muse, and as he died, he wanted to know what horror he might have inspired.

Or whom.

 

Standard
beauty, love, men, poetry, women

Harbour

Tell the thousand

Years of storms

Which lash

My skin

Their lesson has

Been absorbed

The risk of

Living present

In the everyday

And the concerns

Seldom shared

But when

I am weak

I come to you with

The same hunger

As when I am strong

The same steps

But a different

Song

And I say how I feel

Without shame

But some part of me

Knows the value of

Endurance

This bitter ocean

Demands a steady hand

And there you stand

Calling my name

And I know

In your eyes

I am

Home

Kiss the salt from

My lips

 

 

Standard
men, short fiction

Duelling Terms

(From a writing exercise in Stephen King’s On Writing)

‘How are you supposed to duel if no one knows what weapons you’re supposed to use?’

 

David sat back on the hard wooden chair and chewed the inside of his cheek, looking around us with reddened, swollen eyes. Another survivor, like the rest of us, dealing with the same thing. There are hierarchies everywhere, and you seldom notice them until you’re at the rough end of one. We were a group for survivors of domestic abuse. It was a lie, you never survive it, but in time, you can live with it.

 

I hadn’t figured out when that would happen.

 

Growing up, I remembered cartoons and comic strips where the errant working class husband gets a rolling pin or a frying pan across the head for coming home late from the pub. One panel later, there would be birds and stars circling his head. His wife would loom over him and that was the joke.

 

I can tell you I didn’t see stars or birds. I saw blackness and withered with a terrible nausea as she stood there and laughed at me as I crawled around, fighting between vomiting, shitting myself or crying with the blunt agony of it. I refused to hand over my phone to her. My best friend had sent me the number for his solicitor and I hadn’t time to delete the message or save the number before she demanded to see it.

Paige slept in her cot down the hall as my wife scrolled through what few messages I had left. Cheryl threw the phone at the floor and I watched it shatter in dual, overlapping images. She leaned forward and I caught the smell of bergamot on her skin, sweet and metallic.

 

We had progressed. Open handed slaps to blunt objects. I had gone from a man to something less. It wasn’t until the court case anyone knew about her contempt for me, locked away on a social media account. My friends and family didn’t comment, more concerned with the coma she put me in. Three weeks gone forever. Time missed with my daughter, with the horrors explained to her by social workers and members of my family.

Her sentence was light, considering my injuries and the historical nature of them but she was pretty and garnered sympathy. The barrister had the decency to look nonplussed by it. She smiled as the court officers led her away.

 

David was a builder who showed us the constellation of cigarette burns on his ribs where she had offered him reconciliatory sex, tying his wrists before straddling and using him as an ashtray. Her husband gave evidence for the defence, making damp, pleading eyes in her direction. David, with his square jaw and callused hands spoke about it in a harsh whisper. We met once a month, shared our stories and our progress. Time and circumstance fragmented them, made the victories small and the setbacks monolithic but we turned up and talked to each other. My mum had Paige because I was fragile afterwards so I had the awful relief of an afternoon to myself.

 

I switched on the radio when I got in, filled the stove top kettle and turned the gas on. The whistling made me jump, but it was a ramshackle form of therapy, inoculating myself against the poisoned ambience of my marriage.

 

The song finished and the mellow tones of the dj slipped into the silence like a blade between the ribs.

 

An absconded patient from the secure unit.

 

I stared at the radio, waiting for a name. I made myself breathe and my nostrils flared at a scent which still made me unable to drink earl grey.  Her laboured, wet breathing made me turn around and I looked into a pair of eyes, shining with malice like the paring knife in her hand.

 

The anti-psychotics had put weight on, slapped onto her jawline and hips like handfuls of wet suet as she charged forwards. Her hair was close to her scalp, dull like dry tobacco and beneath it, the feral expression of terrible passion. She raised the knife overhead as she came towards me.

 

The scream of the kettle saved my life.

 

In a vicious primal spasm which electrified my limbs, I grasped the handle of the stove top kettle and swiped it around as she came forwards. It reverberated against the side of her head with a dull thump and the sizzle of flesh against metal.

 

She gave a strangled cry and fell against the kitchen floor, eyes rolled back in their sockets and her cheek coming away in strings of melted skin like mozarella. I stood over her, the kettle held above my head and I heard someone roaring.

 

I realised it was me.

 

My body throbbed with adrenaline as I set the kettle back onto the stove. I staggered back against the counter, braced myself with my hands as I stared at her.

 

I shoved myself outside and grabbed my phone from my pocket.

 

I don’t remember what I said. I held it together long enough to give my details before I sat down, unable to be in the house when the police came. Another detail David had shared.

 

When I saw him next, I decided I would tell him my answer to the terms of the duel.

 

 

 

Standard