beauty, love, lust, poetry, sex, women

Say My Name

To swim in the

Warm waters of your ocean

To slide roots

Into your yielding earth

My tongue

A gentle brand

Leaving marks of

Coruscating delight

On and within you

No part of you

Stays my advance

And I am relentless

Animalistic in my control

I lay my weight upon you

Take you and fill you

A vessel for the divine

Pantheons pass between us

And in this cycle

We die and are reborn

In the same skin

I’m hungry without

Desperation but the want

Sings hosannas and I hear

The siren call of your skin

Say my name

Advertisements
Standard
men, short fiction, writing

Cycle

hei_2276p_copy_by_heikogerlicher-dceapx5.jpg

1.

The call went up, snaking through the branches of the forest, a robust echoing which was shrill with alarm.

 

Men ran. Some of them sprinted with the deft grace of youth, others lumbered like ancient boulders pushed down a hill. There were further shouts of confusion and clarification, and the teeming heat of the afternoon made them all red-faced and irritable.

 

They found them in the clearing, one hunched over the body of the other. There were fresh tears and old blood, enough to make the soles of their boots stick to the grass.

 

2.

LOCAL AUTHOR MAKES GOOD

 

By Temperance Rubin.

 

You’ve seen him promoting his latest book, Rituals of Evening, but Joseph Peters has never forgotten his roots so he’s appearing at Great Hills Library on Wednesday afternoon for a special reading followed by a Q and A.

 

Come, say hello to a hometown alumnus, and see if any of you aspiring types can pick up a few hints!

 

The event starts at 6pm sharp.

 

3.

 

A tan suited him, Edward thought. Joseph stepped out of the car with the same pained, studious expression he had worn since adolescence. Edward remembered playing catch with him in the yard and the memory made something shift in his chest. He corrected his posture, straightening his back and pushing his shoulders back. Joseph’s grey eyes swam with memories as he looked at his father but he blinked twice and smiled as he reached out and shook his father’s hand.

 

Edward gripped with a little too much force, but Joseph had written his pages for the day and he dropped his hand away to flex the discomfort from his fingers.

 

‘Long drive?’ Edward said.

 

Joseph shook his head and adjusted the strap on his backpack without meeting his father’s gaze.

 

‘I got in last night and took a room at the place by the airport.’ he said.

 

Edward swallowed the rejection and gave a small nod.

 

‘Smart move. You hungry?’ he said.

 

Joseph smiled and nodded.

 

‘As soon as I smelled the barbecue.’ he said.

 

The ruins of limp salad leaves, bones chewed white and small puddles of barbecue sat on plates between them. Edward poured out the bottle into a glass, whilst Joseph sipped his vanilla coke. His father’s recollection of his adolescent tastes was impressive, even down to the racks of ribs and venison steaks which they’d demolished between them.

 

Edward apologised as he unbuckled his belt to ease the pressure of his full stomach and sat back in the chair with a sigh of relief. Joseph sat up, straight and took small, frequent sips from the frosted glass of coke.

 

‘How’s the tour going?’ Edward said.

 

Joseph set his glass down and reached into his jacket for his cigarettes. He wanted a hit off his vape pen, but he had imagined his father’s reaction so it stayed there, offering relief from the gnawing anxiety which capered around his insides.

 

‘Good, thank you. I’ve done some TV too, even Kimmel.’ he said.

 

Edward snorted with derision and picked up his glass.

 

‘Late night television is trash. Hope it helps you.’ he said.

 

Joseph picked up his glass again and looked around the deck.

 

‘Did you redecorate?’ he said.

 

Edward didn’t look up as he drank but he gave a thumbs up and nodded around a mouthful of ale. He wiped his mouth and considered his son.

 

‘Yes, Char gets it into her head to redecorate the house and there goes a week of my life.’ he said.

 

Joseph’s jaw tightened as he swallowed and looked away.

 

Edward finished the last of the beer and got up, holding his belt buckle as he shuffled into the house. Joseph stared down the length of the garden and squeezed the glass until his fingers turned white.

 

There was a woman’s voice from inside the house. Joseph’s hand dove to his stomach as an emetic spasm clawed at his intestines. He hoped the carbonation settled his stomach before she came through and said hello.

 

4.

 

Edward sat up in bed, a pillow placed to support him as he turned the pages of his son’s book. Charlene came in from the bathroom and glanced over her shoulder.

 

‘Is he okay?’ she said.

 

Her voice was breathy and girlish, and after all these years, it never failed to stir him. She had packed on some weight around her hips and had the beginnings of a tummy beneath the silk ivory night gown. Edward’s eyes coveted but Charlene grimaced with concern. He smiled as he removed his reading spectacles and closed the book, then tapped the cover.

 

‘Judging by this, I should have burned his library card.’ he said.

 

His voice was genial as she climbed into bed. She glanced down at the book on his lap with the expression she did when Titbits brought a dead mouse into the kitchen.

 

‘I can’t read those sorts of books.’ she said.

 

Edward grunted and shook his head.

 

‘They’re just made-up words.’ he said.

 

Charlene did not relax until he put the book on the bedside table and rested his spectacles on top. He slipped an arm around the back of his wife’s neck and pulled her close.

 

‘He was a difficult young man, and it was a lot to ask a woman, but we’ve done the best we can.’ he said.

 

Charlene suppressed a shiver and clung to Edward’s solid, greying chest. The light went out with a dull click and she listened to her husband’s breathing deepen into sleep. Joseph had kept his distance since she came back, and the acrid tang of memories stained her lips and tongue. She had brushed her teeth twice and used mouthwash but the tang stayed with every swallow. Appalling goblin thoughts stirred and pressed against the amniotic sac of time and repression but she clung to him until she felt the medication kick in and dropped away into sleep.  

 

5.

 

He sat with his knees apart, holding his book to his eyes as he read aloud. Charlene watched his lips moving, how his eyes widened as he spoke with a confidence she had not seen before. Edward was rigid with concentration but his hand rested over hers as they sat there, watching his son read from his latest book.

 

She knew this section off by heart. Edward favoured hardbacks but Charlene, thanks to her younger sister, had an electronic reader and so had downloaded Joseph’s book on the day of release and read it straight away.

 

‘She came as I sat by the lake, toes pruning in the water as I sat there.

 

Trying to hide the erection she inspired whenever she drew close.

 

‘Your pa says supper’s ready.’ she said.

 

Her voice was a honeyed drawl which crept beneath my skin. The prohibition lent a terrible, insatiable clarity to my perception of her and she grinned as she knelt down in front of me.

 

‘I’ll be right there.’ I said.

 

I tried to make my voice as low as possible, promote whatever shoots of tender manhood were poking through the mud of adolescence. She was a strong burst of sunlight, a nurturing shower and yet all of it forbidden on every level.

 

It did not stop me wanting.’

 

Charlene’s heart pounded in her chest but she held herself still. Her mind was racing, knowing there were another twelve pages before anything happened.

 

The applause drowned her out as she emitted a small, careful whimper of anguish. Edward shook his head and applauded, but his eyes were soft with confusion.  

 

6.

 

Joseph accepted the safety lecture with a detached grace and wore the orange vest without comment. Edward, dressed in the worn, clean camouflage which had been his woodland uniform forever handed his son the rifle. Joseph took it and held it close to his chest.

 

It was a beautiful morning when they walked into the forest. Edward was on point, and Joseph had availed himself of the vape enough to put him into a state of herbal equanimity.

 

‘What did you think of the book?’ Joseph said.

 

Edward put a finger to his lips and narrowed his eyes before he pointed through to the trees where a young buck stood, nose to the ground as it chewed at a clump of grass. He gestured for his son to raise his rifle. Joseph blinked and aimed down the sight. His finger rested on the trigger guard.

 

The buck raised its head and ran. Edward lowered his rifle and shot an accusing look at his son. Joseph shrugged his shoulders as he took his eye from the scope.

 

‘Come on, I didn’t say a word.’ he said.

 

Edward snorted and walked into the woods. Joseph matched his pace, so they were abreast of one another.

 

‘I acknowledge your talent with words, son, I’ll say that. You know I don’t truck with monster books, but I’m glad you’re doing well with it.’

 

Joseph sighed against the hot lump of upset which dropped into his stomach from above.

 

‘I’ve had enough reviews to know when someone’s not read it, Dad, you don’t have to bullshit me.’ he said.

 

Edward stopped and stared at his son.

 

‘I don’t read those sorts of books.’ he said.

 

His voice whistled like a stove top kettle and it hurt Joseph’s ears. Joseph stepped back, discomforted and struggling with the urge to articulate something massive.

 

‘You mean mine?’ Joseph said.

 

Edward’s eyes widened as he sweated beneath his camouflage.

 

‘Why are you so sensitive about this?’ he said.

 

Joseph’s eyes flooded with tears as he cradled the rifle. He was a boy again, a skinned soul lifted for his father’s acknowledgement.

 

‘Because I thought you would be smart enough to get it, Dad.’ he said.

Edward slung his rifle over his shoulder and adjusted the brim of his cap as he looked down at his boots.

 

‘I’ve never gotten you, Joe. Christ knows I tried and so did Char.’ he said.

 

Joseph’s face was taut and bloodless as he stared at Edward. His grip on the rifle was loose and he staggered backwards, shaking his head.

 

‘You didn’t know, did you?’ Joseph said.

 

Edward’s face crumpled with confusion.

 

‘About the book?’ he said.

 

Joseph watched his father struggle with the conversation. A decent man dumbfounded by something which his son couldn’t explain. Edward reached his hand out and touched his son on the shoulder.

 

‘I may not understand you, but you’re my son, and if I’ve hurt you then you need to know I never meant to.’ he said.

 

It was a speech for Edward, and he was red in the face when he finished but Joseph, a man too acquainted with lies not to see them in others, believed his father. Joseph shouldered the rifle and lowered his chin to his chest and sobbed. Between the sobs, he forced out seven words.

 

‘Not you, Dad, you didn’t hurt me.’ he said.

 

7.

 

Charlene was so relieved Joseph had gone, it was an easy thing for Edward to persuade her to accompany him on a hunt.

 

It was easier to let her wander ahead, between the trees. As his finger closed over the trigger, he thought of his boy and asked his forgiveness again.

 

Standard
love, short fiction, women

7 Skies

He had wrested the soul sapphire from the forehead of a God.

 

Entire armies had taken him on and fallen before his skill and strength.

 

There were cemeteries full of tyrants and monsters who had died at his hand.

 

Life stretched out before him, bland and smooth, and all he had to show for it was a reputation larger than him and pain when he awoke.

 

He attracted women, but they seldom stayed. His fires burned too long to bear for long and part of him went with him. He replenished himself in solitude and battle, but there was a bleak ennui which tainted his meals and marred his sight.

 

The Ragged Ghost was full, which he welcomed as he took his place by the fire with a bowl of venison stew held in his large, rough hands and a flagon of ale on the table. He stared into the fire as he recalled old hates and older loves.

 

‘Seven? You fight seven champions, and then what?’

 

He turned his head to the source of the conversation. The hour clad the men in shadows, sat in a corner of the inn where the light did not reach.

 

‘You win your greatest wish from The Lady Of Heaven.’

 

Two men, soft voices and youthful, which raised no concerns. He put his bowl down and stood up, walked over to them and stared into the liquid, shining eyes of a young priest, his features smoothed out by faith and discipline.

 

‘How do you enter?’ he said.

 

His voice was a mountain struck by lightning, the hiss of melting stone and the avalanche which follows. The priest swallowed and reached into his robes, held out a scroll which Hand took from him with a mutter of thanks.

 

The scroll was a set of instructions and a map which he calculated to be three days ride from here. He kept his face still, but his heart thumped against his ribs and his hands shook with anticipation.

 

He stood up, rubbed his scalp and picked up his sword, threw a few gold on the table, and left with a nod to the two priests. They brought his horse to him, and he rode out into the night. His eyes were damp with joy, but he told himself it was the wind across the plains.

 

There was a mountain. He took two days to climb it He sat on the peak and waited for the opening in the clouds.

 

A bank of thick, black cloud moved towards him, against the wind but he sat and stared into the north wind as patterns of frost appeared on his scalp and through his beard. When it reached him, it stopped and the clouds parted to reveal a set of steps which led up into the sky.

 

He walked up the steps into the first sky.

 

A cyclops on a bicycle, with thick spiked wheels pedalled until they were a blur of razors, rushed to meet him as Hand set foot on the first battlefield. He rolled to the side and was up with his sword drawn. It galvanised him with shock to see the one-eyed giant, already turning the iron frame around to charge at him again.

 

He ran to meet him, legs pumping as he roared with bloodlust, but the sword stayed down by his side. If he fell beneath the iron wheels, they would tear him to pieces, but as the cyclops stared down at him, he slipped to one side and disappeared.

 

The cyclops stopped the bicycle and lifted it, reaching out with an enormous hand to spin the wheels and see if the spikes had caught his opponent. It moved with a screech but there was no sign of his opponent’s body. He set the front wheel down and growled with frustration before he reached to scratch an itch on the back of his neck. Before he had flesh underneath his nails, he felt a sharp puncture sink into the meat of his throat. His hand came up, fearing something had stung him.

 

The cyclops was right. Hand pulled his sword free and with it, came a gout of blood, reddening as it hit the air. He leapt over the cyclop’s shoulder and clung to the lank ropes of hair which protruded from his scalp as the cyclops collapsed, the iron bicycle tangled between his enormous legs.

 

Hand walked away from the corpse but it was miles until he was free of its shadow.

 

His second opponent wore the face of his best friend, and although it made battle difficult, Hand fought the creature until his sword sank into its gut and it returned to its natural form, a thing of lights and shapes which drifted away like petals on the wind.

 

The Rotten Hound was a shambling thing, which dropped pieces of its own flesh as it chased him, bones aglow from within as it spat fire at him. It clawed his chest and cut through to the bone, but he got onto its back and wrench its head all the way around. It fell beneath him and he stayed there until the next set of stairs appeared.

 

They sat his third opponent before a deck of cards and a small pile of stones. A pot of steaming tea sat next to him and he gestured for Hand to sit down. It took a dozen hands, but Hand agreed it was the most pleasant fight he’d ever had out of bed.

 

His history met him in the next two rounds. Old foes, resurrected for their reputation and armed with knowledge of his weaknesses. Their mistake was to fight the man he had been, not the man he was. It was awkward to fight them, and he was embarrassed to find their defeat came to him with ease.

 

There was a surprise waiting for him on the sixth round. The time between rounds passed in a blur, but word reached him that there were great wagers being placed on his success, but he ignored it.

 

She came to him with a smile as bright as the blades in her hand. Her hair flowed out behind her, and the sunlight blessed her skin. Hand looked into her eyes and saw a broken, inexorable hatred there. When he dropped his sword, she stopped and raised her swords.

 

‘Fight, damn you.’ she said.

 

Her voice was a hiss, but it was fat with unshed tears.

 

He opened his arms and shook his head.

 

‘I will not take arms against you.’ he said.

 

She threw one sword and he leaned to one side as it flew past him. He stared at her as she brought back her remaining sword, ready to bring it down on his head. Hand let the sword come down, but stepped to an angle and wrapped his hands around hers and brought his knee up into the bones of her forearms. The crack was loud, and it sickened him as she fell forwards, fainting from the pain. He laid her on the ground and asked her forgiveness. She turned her head and said nothing so he stood up and walked towards the next set of stairs.

 

Hand looked back at her, but not for long.

 

He walked up into darkness and thunder, like he were in the lungs of some great monster. Hand drew his sword and held it before him.

 

‘If you defeat me, then what?’

 

The voice was his own, amplified to the roar of a storm.

 

‘I will claim the prize.’ Hand said.

 

‘Then what?’ the voice said.

 

‘I do not fear death, if it is what you are getting at.’ Hand said.

 

He sheathed his sword and walked further into the darkness. It was humid and his skin grew slick with sweat.

 

‘Then what do you fear?’

 

Hand closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

 

‘Being forgotten.’ he said.

 

Laughter, rich and mocking washed over him.

 

Hand shook his head and looked into the darkness.

 

‘I know my fears, and yet it is difficult to speak of them. There were lovers who would have enjoyed such an admission.’ he said.

 

The voice sighed, mocking and aware.

 

‘Yet here you are. Lost in the darkness, Hand, and no one can see or hear you.’ it said.

 

Hand took a deep breath.

 

‘I know myself. My fears are not things to be defeated, but learned from.’ he said.

 

The darkness closed in. Hand controlled the unsettled bubbling in his stomach and gritted his teeth.

 

Hand’s limbs shook and he felt his hands, reach for the hilt of his sword.

 

‘You will learn this lesson, Hand. Your final one.’ it said.

 

Hand focused on his hands but they drew the sword with the grace of experience and his arms lifted as they aimed the blade at his stomach.

 

‘Give in. Win this fight with the same determination as the others, Hand. No one will question your determination.’

 

Tears ran down his face and he screamed, shaking his head as the sword came down towards his stomach. It was a good blade and it would pierce him with ease, but a blade to the belly was a slow death.

 

‘I WILL WALK THROUGH.’ Hand said.

 

He managed a few steps before the tip of the blade opened his skin and he gasped as the darkness guided the sword. Hand kept walking and breathing until he felt his arms return to his control. He let the sword fall from his fingers and lifted his arms to the sky.

 

The darkness dissipated. Its absence revealed the audience. All the gods and monsters of seven skies. They showered Hand with gold and praise, but he waited for the true prize. The wound in his belly was small, and it closed up when an angel smiled at him.

 

She floated down, raven hair and eyes glittering with an amused intelligence. The Lady of Heaven, Mother and Wife, Warrior and Priestess.

 

‘Hand, you have won your prize. Name it.’ she said.

 

Her voice was a melodic delight, a dark sweetness of tone which sounded too rich to be divine. Hand looked into her eyes and ached with desire for her.

 

‘Come closer.’ he said.

 

He sheathed his sword and lowered his head so her mouth was next to his ear. Despite the attention they paid them, no one caught what she said to him. Her fingers rested against his cheek before she stepped backwards, a wry smile curved her full lips upwards as he gave a terse nod and walked away.

 

It was many years before someone asked him what she said to him. He smiled, pulled the thick fur blanket down his chest and sat up, wincing with the cost of a lifetime’s battle.

 

‘She told me I was a good man.’ he said.

Standard
short fiction, women

As God Loves

 

The wig made his scalp itch like an addiction, and the lipstick tasted of something extracted from a marine life form, but Heath looked up at the gold statuette with its mother-goddess curves and blank face and bit back a shudder of vulgar joy. He would get away with this, he thought, as he followed the media people down into the auditorium.

 

He had practiced with heels, but they had delivered their punishment by instalments. Walking the length of the laboratory had been one thing, but hours spent waiting to get in whilst the nominees and celebrities stood for photos and interviews with the press. He wouldn’t risk talking to one of them although it would be quite something to ask Melissa McCarthy about playing Winifred Churchill in Her Darkest Hour or Mercedes Carrera as Connie The Barbarian.

 

Heath loved the cinema of this world the way God loves: from afar.

 

Security ushered them to their seats. Heath sat down in a way which appeared feminine but he felt awkward, already sweating under his arms and at the small of his back. There are whoops and cries from the audience, a hubbub of chatter which swells like an orchestra before the lights fall down and the presenter comes out. Something pinched the back of his ankle and he cursed the shoes he had chosen but he wanted to fit in with the beautiful people.

 

It was controversial this year because a man was hosting, which made Heath chortle when he read about it, but as Michael Gyllenhaal walked towards the microphone, Heath felt a foreboding bubble in the pit of his stomach.

 

They were the only men in the building. He wished there weren’t restrictions on sharing his work. The department guidelines on contact and interaction were enforced with a rigour which verged on the pathological. A Latin woman, in a black suit walked down the aisle, shot Heath a look which raised gooseflesh before she moved down the aisle. Michael made a few jokes about men, and the audience cackled with a fierce glee. He was playing to the crowd, Heath thought, and good on him. Men had it tough in this parallel universe, but the politics didn’t interest him because he was here for the culture, which was always upriver of politics, anyway. His throat was dry and he rubbed his tongue against the roof of his mouth to generate saliva.

 

The first guest hosts were the stars of Bitch, Where’s My Car?,  stunning despite the goofy smiles and snapback hats, heavy bracelets and midriffs carved from wood, scarred with tattoos which made Heath stir in his seat. He had taped everything back and had to take a deep breath to control his reaction. When they announced the winner as a supporting actress in Thora Gump, Heath tutted and shook his head. An elderly woman shoot him a look, and when Heath uncrossed his legs, she scowled with a cautious suspicion before she returned her attention to the show. His mouth was like the skin of a baked potato and he had a headache building at his temples.

 

Thora Gump was awful. Heath suspected Zemeckis knew enough story structure to adapt the best parts of the book, and Hanks was subtle enough to avoid going full retard, which he’d been saying long before Tropic Thunder came out, but here Jodie Foster had suffered under Nora Ephron’s affectations to create a saccharine clown show which felt like a cheap satire of the original.

 

Heath loved the cinema of this world. For every Thora Gump, there was a Saving Private Rachel. Joan Allen was amazing as the determined school teacher and Greta Gerwig as Rachel provided an intense, but brief introduction in the final act. Their failures and successes held the same allure for Heath, but here he was indulging his appetite for novelty and risking his life to do it.

 

His money was on The Running Woman, Karyn Kusama had done an amazing job on the direction and Saoirse Ronan had proven a ballistic and credible lead. He had friends back home, who would have rated Frances McDormand’s role as Killian the equal of Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight but he couldn’t share it with them. He shook with pain as his mouth cracked and bled with thirst.  

 

The speeches. The tearful calls for action to the faithful. He needed the bathroom but his legs had gone numb and his calves were hot coals grafted to his bones as he struggled to his feet. The old woman scowled at him and he avoided her piercing gaze as he staggered from his seat. The Latin woman looked at him with frank interest as she walked towards him.

 

His leg shook and he remembered the pinch on his ankle. A subtle display of tradecraft as good as anyone in the department. Culture was upriver of politics, but as he pitched forwards onto his knees and watched the Latin security guard walk towards him, he marvelled how his story had turned out.

 

Small but capable hands lifted him to his feet.

 

He knew where he was going. A room outside any jurisdiction where he would be asked questions. He hadn’t come to watch The Olivias as his work, but his passion. As he focused on the blank, beautiful faces, his knees bumped against the step as they loaded him onto the van and shut the door. He wanted to tell him how much he loved this world, its achievements and tragedies, how terrible and beautiful a world of women was, but they lowered the hood over his face and someone thrust a fist into his trachea before throwing him to the floor of the van as it sped away from the auditorium.

 

Standard
beauty, love, poetry, sex, Uncategorized, women

King Bear Returns To His Cave

I return to my cave,

Wallowing in silence,

Full and empty at the same time,

The sticky sweetness of honey

Still on my claws,

Small enough

To fit into the space I call

An invisible kingdom

And you, my queen,

Rest there without cause to fear,

We part with understanding,

Aficionados of solitude,

Yet the swell of your hip

Calls my hand between pages,

Not maudlin but resting,

Replenished in the quiet, warm twilight,

Yet I raise my nose to the air,

Breathe you in

From so far away.

Standard
love, poetry

Supper

Aching from

The slow, hot fight

Against the day

Within

Without

Your hands on the muscles

Taut from action

Fingers against my fur

Don’t hold back

I am replenished by

The struggle

And the tension

I am quiet in my own way

And where I falter

I rise again in an instant

Harder, forged in the heat of

Feedback for my worth

Grows by contemplation

And appreciation

So attend to me

In touch and word,

The sun is fading and

We can watch the shadows

Wax by the hour.

Standard