poetry

Symptoms

I am sick with it
Cold and my blood
Is slow
Thick like oil
Fading away
Into something
Which approached
Relief
Once.
I hear the symphony
Faint and yet it
Rouses me
Still

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fiction, men, short fiction, social media, women

IR8 G8M3R

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Markus’ dad used to kick the dog if he was pissed off about something. He would slip his shoe off to do it, punting it in the side with the heel of his foot and a shouted expletive. A familial ritual which was never spoken about, and when Biscuits got run over by a drunk driver when Markus had walked him over to the dog park and he’d gotten off the lead, no one mentioned it again.

 

Markus had the internet.

 

He sat hunched over the keyboard, talking shit into the headset as he aimed his cursor across the infinite digital battlefield with guys his age all over the world. Here, they were warriors without causes, because out there he worked shifts at a coffee shop and couldn’t afford to move out of the house. He moved down to the basement, jerked off over talking to women because regret hurt less than rejection and eked out a small, neutered life.

 

The anger never went away though. No matter how good he got at the game, it wasn’t enough.

 

He started streaming his games, enjoying the reaction his comments got, and when he started reading some of the links people sent him. When he wandered into work the next day, his eyes were dark with fatigue but how could you explain to your boss, with his weak chin and hipster sleeve tattoos, that one hundred thousand people were listening to you talk?

 

Markus enjoyed the power, how all these people asked him questions, sent him links and recorded response videos in response to things he’d said.

 

The feminism question came up.

 

He avoided it because Markus had been around the internet enough to know it was something you embraced or avoided. Milo Yiannopoulos had said it was cancer, and Markus had agreed, if you got it, it was probably a fight to the death.

 

It had started as a joke, and the reaction had been immediate.

 

He appreciated the response videos at first. The back and forth bumped up his ratings, and when he started getting cheques from advertising on his channel, he had to sit down, his head swimming with shock at getting money for just saying what was on his mind.

 

He decided to get the cancer, and go down fighting.

 

He recorded videos about feminism.

 

The Wage Gap.

 

The Pink Tax.

 

Rape Culture.

 

Transgenders.

 

Patriarchy.

 

He took it to operatic. By the time he started recording them, his delivery had sharpened to the point where he was entertaining, which made them more offensive to people on the internet. It was nice to quit the shifts at the coffee shop, and it was really nice to move out and buy an apartment but he never knew how to respond to all the emails.

 

Markus was enjoying it too much to wonder how long it would last.

 

New things drew people’s attention.

 

Which was when Dr Zoe Morgan, started recording her response videos and Markus fell, if not in love, then at least in hate, which was just as good and meant his fleshlight time had a feverish, furious intensity.

 

He wanted to go out and meet women. He’d get swiped on, but as soon as anyone searched for him, he would be unmatched. The search algorithm was a mirror and Markus did not like what he saw there. So, when she reached out, with her painstaking videos, trying to take him apart from fallacies and insults about his manhood.

 

He responded with a new level of invention, a kind of hatred which drew attention and views in the way dogshit drew flies. He recorded animations about her, mocking her nasal voice with a sound patch as he imagined her in pornographic scenarios. Animals. Bodily fluids.

 

She published a chat transcript.

 

Rachel. He’d had one of those three a.m. panic attacks where he went online to look at the views on his channel, to see tangible proof of his worth. Even a hate watch was advertising revenue for him, and Rachel had been commenting and emailed him a photo with the ripe promise of cleavage and full, soft lips. She caught him when he was weak, and he spilled a lot of the immature, inexperienced sentiment to her in a chat which left him shaking and happy at the same time.

 

He read his words again, feeling his shame slide up his throat like vomit as he clamped his hand over his mouth. Markus used to do it at home, and now in his own place, he wanted someone to hear his pain and come to help.

 

They were all on the internet, when they could have been spending time together.

 

Markus took 50ccs of anger and walked away from the laptop, trying to get into the space where he could record a response to it.

 

No, not a video.

 

He was on the server in five minutes. Her name and address.  A good part of town, and her degree was in sociology, of all fucking things. He picked up the phone and dialled 911.

 

Markus let his fear come, had it squeeze tears from his eyes and tighten his throat.

 

‘Please, you need to send someone, there’s a man with a gun in the house across the street.’

 

He gave the address, then held the phone away from his face and cried out in alarm before disconnecting the call.

 

It didn’t feel as good as he hoped. Lashing out like this wasn’t as satisfying when he couldn’t see her face as the cops bust in.

 

2.

 

Jake flexed his fingers inside his gloves, gripping the barrel of the AR-15, trying not to think about his sister-in-law coming over tomorrow. She sneered at everything in her little sister’s house, and it made Jake itch to stand up and smack the smugness from her kike bitch face. Kelly was doomed to be single forever, with her multi-coloured hair and cats eye glasses, a permanent case of resting bitch face which haunted Jake’s dreams.

 

Last summer, she had announced she was trying out girls for a change and got upset when no one cared. Jake decided to be grateful on behalf of his fellow man in a dignified silence. He didn’t want to upset his Lisa over it. He loved her in a solid, quiet way but Kelly got under his skin like a chigger.

 

Underwood tapped him on the shoulder.

 

‘Get your head on straight, we’re on point.’

 

The call had come in, home invasion in a good area and the shift commander was a big fan of the SWAT unit and liked sending them in wherever possible. Uniforms were standing by, good cops but sometimes the police liked to remind people they were there.

 

Jake nodded and roadie-ran out of the truck, onto the sidewalk and up the steps of the house. He gauged the door wasn’t that strong and kicked it hard, inwards.

 

He saw half of the girl’s face, the locks of purple hair, the colour of cough syrup and the gleam of spectacles and the rifle was up. It was the thing in her hand, dark and long, which put his finger over it. A small prickle started in his upper lip, the residual irritation he felt for Kelly feeding and heightening the adrenaline coursing through his system. 

 

The red stain on the sweater made him pull it.

 

3.

 

A cherry red slushie, a single drop falling from the straw onto the front of her sweater as she had sat there, watching her hit count rise like t-cells in an infected patient. She had the first cheque in the bank, and she had been thinking about being able to move out. It was embarrassing to have a PhD and be living with her parents.

 

Picking fights with anti-feminists had been a good way to get attention.

 

Ir8G8m3r had been a great foil, and although she had found the idea of pretending to be someone else to get him talking about himself, she had fought a horrible, inappropriate emotion running though her.

 

Empathy. Another person who was screaming how together they were, how righteous yet without the ability to make real choices about their lives. She was angry at people who criticised her field because it was the source of her self-esteem. Rachel could not get a good paying job out of it, but she could call herself a doctor and no one could take it away from her.

 

Not without drawing blood.

 

She had sauntered to the door, flush with triumph at a future away from the house before it killed her.

 

The door had been kicked open as she checked her instagram feed on her phone. She had shrieked as the man in black combat armour aimed the rifle at her and fired.

 

Two rounds punched through her.One went through the brachial artery in her left arm and the other slipped in under her collarbone and punched through her subclavian artery. She did not fall down, the blood loss sending her deep into a pocket of deep, shuddering cold before she felt her legs go numb and the ground rushed up to meet her.

 

4.

 

Markus started getting messages.

 

They came in from everywhere, but really they were all one message.

 

He had been chatting with one of his friends, struggling not to tell him how he had swatted Rachel, when the messages came in. He left the chat server and checked his social media feeds.

 

The questions emerged, like lesions rising on the skin of his virtual self, and then the news reports. His anxiety buzzed in his head like insects had nested in there. It drowned out his thoughts, and even his perception of time, watching the world spit spite at him for his actions.

 

As he heard the thumping on his door, he thought about Bobby and wished he’d never gotten away from him, the lead slipping through his fingers as the car sped down the street. He wished he had said something to his dad, stood up to him for hurting something which had only known how to love him.

 

Markus knew how Bobby felt as he got up to answer the door.  

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friendship, short fiction, women

Friendship is Forever

infinite_bond_by_willtc-dbhhsvf.jpg

https://willtc.deviantart.com/art/Infinite-Bond-694511979

 

You last saw her on the corner of Garden Street, just before the stretch of wasteland which became a stretch of motorway ten years later.

 

You had been arguing about something. Someone.

 

Terry Yates. The first time anyone or anything had come between you, and it was a bloody boy.

 

You remembered the way the conversation slid out of control, all the little resentments building up like the start of an infection, making you flushed and shaky as you screamed at one another. No one stopped to ask what was wrong, because back then, as a child, you could wander off and have adventures.

 

Earning scars to build armour with.

 

But you were giving them to one another.

 

Mary Paul.

 

Twelve years old and the best friend you ever had.

 

Your cheek tingles when its cold. The doctor never explained it but you think its a sense memory. The crack of her palm against it when you spat how her brother was a queer.

 

Her eyes bulging with shock and her hand coming up, faster than the fading light.

 

You rocked back, hand pressed against it as you hiss at her, wishing she was dead.

 

You remember it as hissing, but late at night, you remember how you screamed it at her.

 

She ran off, and you watched her leave as something sat on your chest, made you sit down and put your head between your knees and cry yourself sick.

 

In a kinder world than this, you would have seen her at school the next day. You would laugh about it, or at least make things right again.

 

She did not come to school. The policeman in your parents kitchen, he looks too big for the house and he asks you, in a voice which booms even as he tries to whisper, questions about where she might have gone.

 

You don’t lie to him but you make yourself forget. Part of you is still angry at her, and if she’s missing, then it’s her own fault. You learn something ugly about yourself then, which remains at the back of your throat forever, a scar which makes it difficult to swallow sometimes.

 

They never found her.

 

There are appeals.

 

Searches.

 

Her parents on television, blinking into the harsh lights and struggling not to cry as they tell her she’s not in any trouble.

 

At night, you think about where she could be.

 

Sometimes you let yourself remember.

 

A copse of trees tucked into the corner of the caravan park. Sneaking past the caravans, and through a hole in the fence, brambles and thorns to slash at your legs.

 

The silver bark of the tree, cool and smooth, and the knot of roots. It is cool and quiet there, and you played there, silly games which made sense to you both. The language of a friendship learned in private.

 

They never found her.

 

Your decision stays with you.

 

It whispers in your ear on your wedding day.

 

It’s there in the delivery room when you give birth to your first child.

 

It stands by you at the funeral. Two coffins. Not too big and another, too small to look at without wanting to die.

 

It sits next to you on the train ride. Mute with loss, and going home to your parents after a stay in a place with clean white walls and a regime of pills to stop you from opening your wrists again.

 

You go for walks each day, and have to reconcile the changes with your psycho-geography. Your mum’s terrier, Bobby, has never known anything like it.

 

It is when you find yourself at the caravan park, that Bobby refuses to go in. It whimpers, pulling away but the terrible gravity of your guilt pulls you in.

 

Bobby comes with you. The caravans are empty this time of year, but you wonder if you’ve ever seen them occupied.

 

The gap is still there, but you have a job of getting in, although Bobby pulls away, you manage to get inside.

 

The effort and the humid air have brought you out in a sweat, but here it is still cool and dark.

 

You hear the ragged breath of someone with you.

 

‘Mary?’

 

Movement to your left. A palsied hand, with long black nails ragged and sharp against the bark. She does not move like a person, alien in the way a bird pecks at the ground. The face, frozen in youth but the skin is mottled and loose, like a mask too big to fit.

 

‘Hello, my friend. It’s good to ssee you.’

 

She steps out, the dress hanging off her shoulders, a black stained rag as she scuttles forward.

 

Bobby barks at her and she snatches it up. You shut your eyes and try not to throw up at the wet, crunching sound like someone opening a bag of crisps and the wet slap of something falling on the ground.

 

‘Oh god, Mary, I’m sorry.’

 

Her breath is cold at your cheek.

 

‘She was your best friend and you betrayed her. Terry had not even looked at you, but his hair turned white and he had a stammer which never went away. Her touch burns like frostbite, but its the first time you’ve felt anything in years.

 

Her fingers close on your throat, sudden and impossibly strong. She smells of rot and secrets, and you try to say how sorry you are before you run out of breath.

 

Friendship is forever, you tell yourself before the world goes dark.

 

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beauty, love, lust, poetry, sex, women

as only we know

meet you halfway

arousal like

plucked strings in

my stomach

hands moulded

to you

my mouth

tracing

finding

aroused to the point

of seeing aura

turning hungry

feverish

my beard rasping against your skin

the deep salt taste of you

as my tongue finds

meaning inside you

my actions are a bomb

my words, the rumble

of their arrival

here is where i speak

only truth

and we fuck all

the separation away

one of us sighs

but we are no longer

aware of whose throat

its coming from

twitching

nudging

asking

and then motion

thrusting with skill

to the places only

i know

and the whisper

permission

release

warning

release

shuddering together

as only we know

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love, nature, short fiction, women

Down By The Pier

down_by_the_pier_by_shikoro

https://shikoro.deviantart.com/art/Down-by-the-Pier-106775394

 

Jenny was wiping down the counter when she watched Shirley hobble to the end of the pier, a carrier bag of stale bread swinging from her left hand as she looked out at the sunset.

 

The burger bar was hot, uncomfortable work and she went home each day with a fresh burn and the perpetual fog of grease and onions clinging to her skin, no matter how often she showered. A few of her friends at university didn’t have to work, but Jenny’s parents struggled and so she spent long wearying hours on Britannia Pier, serving burgers and hot dogs with shining pyramids of onions, watching people drench them in mustard and ketchup.

 

Shirley came every day to feed the seagulls, having them flock to her. There would be one, in particular, she had trained to feed by hand. It amused Jenny enough to ask Dave, the owner when he came in to cash up. Dave snorted and shook his head.

 

‘Ah, Shirley. She’s a nutter, but she’s harmless enough.’ he said. He didn’t look up from the cash count as he spoke.

 

‘Maybe she could get together with the Puppet Man.’ Jenny said.

 

Dave kept on counting.

 

Jenny was disappointed, hoping for a good story out of it.

 

She was starved of entertainment in Yarmouth. Old friends had passed their sell by date, and it took torrents of false effort, nuggets of nostalgia sealed away in the amber of the everyday. She had tried, but friends were so draining, as much because she put too much stock in it, only to be disappointed when they’d all been bitten by change.

 

So, her interest honed onto Shirley, a yellowing woman in her late seventies, with a walking stick and a nest of tight, steel coloured hair who fed a seagull every day at sunset.

 

Jenny came with an offering, a clear bag of stale hotdog and burger buns. She stood as Shirley peered at her over the rims of her spectacles.

 

‘Thought you might like these.’ she said.

 

Shirley grunted and snatched them from her grip, faster than Jenny thought possible. Shirley cackled and pointed her stick at her.

 

‘Think I’m slow because I’m old, don’t you?’ she said

 

Jenny blushed and shook her head, tripping over her words as her head blazed with embarrassment.

 

‘No, just I see you feeding the gulls every day and I was only going to throw these away.’

 

Shirley shook the bag.

 

‘I don’t feed all the gulls, really. Just my Reg.’

 

Jenny bit the inside of her cheek, thrilled for this encounter to slide into novelty even as Shirley’s tone made her feel uneasy.

 

‘It’s sweet you name one of them.’ she said.

 

Shirley laughed again, a high, twisting shrill laugh which made Jenny’s fillings ache.

 

‘That’s his name. My Reg.’

 

Jenny breathed in and asked Shirley what she meant. Shirley gestured over to the end of the pier, then passed back the clear bag of bread products and Jenny took it as they walked over to the end of the pier.

2.

 

He was a ladies man. Reg Pointer, down from London to get out of a situation with someone’s wife, said he was on holiday. I was born here, and he was something new. Smooth, fancied himself enough for the both of us, and I was younger then. Good legs, bit of a bum and my hair was long and black, down my back.

 

I lived by the sea and it taught me things.

 

We met on the seafront, he swaggered up with his chin held high and a fag hanging out the corner of his mouth. I had been in communion and was looking forward to a cup of tea and a pink of whelks. He offered to walk me there, and I was, well it were like he cast a spell on me.

 

It was like he knew, he could smell the want on me.

 

He looked like he knew what he was doing, so I went with it. Thing is, with everything else I had going on, it was nice for someone else to take charge of things and he did. He didn’t hurt me like that, when it was just us, he was lovely.

 

Reg Pointer had too much love in him though.

 

I forgave the first one. She went blind on the train back to Ipswich.

 

The second one and the third, well I threatened him. I told him you didn’t cross a Yarmouth girl and he laughed at me. He never raised his hand to me, but he could still hurt me, and laughing at me was the worst. It leaves bruises on your heart, love, and they never heal right.

 

He slept in the spare room. I went out about midnight, down to the beach and gathered a few things.

 

Simple acts were the most powerful.

 

A ring of seaweed.

 

Stones, but you have to feel them in your hand. After a while, you know the right ones to use.

 

A prayer, but you would never say them in church. They’re older than any church you could walk into so you say them outside.

 

I walked back when it was done, crying for the both of us.

 

I shut the door to the spare room.

 

A trapped bird is dangerous if its cornered. I had to take a broom to him, to get him to fly out. He had the loveliest eyes, but now they were small and cold, like grapes.

 

Thing is, I missed him. So I would come to the beach, see if any of them reacted.

 

He found me, squawking and flapping but he wouldn’t hurt me. I had taught him how to behave himself. So I agreed I would come feed him.

 

FIfty bloody years though, and I ache all the time but he’s loyal now, though.

 

He’s loyal.

 

3.

 

Jenny saw Shirley every day of the summer. The following summer, she was interning at a theatre company in London but she came home for the last, lazy weeks of a summer in Yarmouth. Dave joked about her asking for her job back and Jenny got straight to it.

 

‘Does Shirley still come here?’ she said

 

Dave frowned and shook his head.

 

‘Poor thing. Died in her bed. Leaky boiler, it was all over the Mercury.’ he said.

 

He still didn’t look up, but as Jenny asked him for a favour, she was glad of it.

 

She walked up with the hot dog roll, ate the sausage and sucked the mustard off her fingers as she watched the bird land on the wooden rail. Its grey plumage looked translucent and it had a scar running down its chest but it stared at her as she offered the sodden bun ahead of her with a hopeful smile.

 

‘She’d have wanted me to bring you this.’ she said.

 

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beauty, love, poetry, sex, women

Equation

We see the
Spark of the divine
Within one another
The clarity of vision
Honed to a fine point
Cuts away the dead
Flesh
But see where my sins
Stain my skin
Less than some
More than others
But I turn
Show you and tell
You I no longer walk
In such stretches of
Shadow.
Touch me
Feel the animal
Purity and its
Strength
In service of
Responsibility and
Passion
The quiet safety
Because the scales
Fell from my eyes
And I
Love

With attention and skill

As an equation

Not an injunction

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