December come preaching the language of death. Once upon a time, nuclear war was a damn thing. Even had a government pamphlet on how to poop in a bin bag and live off bath water ’till the radiation killed you. I didn’t know much about loss when I was fourteen but I sure as hell figured out that death wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to you.
So back then there were weekends when I’d stand in the town square trying to reason with anyone who’d listen. Most times people were kind in December. Most other times they wouldn’t even look at me. Most other times if they could’ve raised a gun to my head, they would. Talking treason, they said. Most times. But December don’t care none about treason, November got all that covered in the scheme. December says, It sure as hell feels like a waste of time to me. I got enough trouble keeping the darkness from joining hands.
Most times December say, Shit, you bringing the same old blood on snow worship again? Fear been flicking a slide show through the what-next catalogue? And yeah, all these years down the line nuclear war is still a damn thing, ‘cept now we have scented bin bags and showers full of bottled water. Everything ready frayed at the edges. Too much slay in the sleigh. Too much snowman in the fallout. Christmas come early, if you get your mind to that way of thinking. December say, It’s all the same to a dead tree. Most times.
Rains come rattling after the snakes, and she shines all the more for the venom they left behind. Woke up tied to the railings of a disused town. All the glass broken and just the signs, with only one good screw left in them. She’d check out. But the music just won’t let her go.
Dead leaves bend and break over and over and still look the same. Vinyl shuffled in all the right places, sparking like an AI system. She sighs of famine through the red tablecloth; greed always had all the aces. Makes no matter who deals the hand after that.
Drums on the roof. A song can get closer. Easy enough to get by on remembering how to feel. And most of the time it’s like they come holding up a mirror, looking to find out if they scrub up okay. She keeps the door open. No need to say goodbye when there was never a hello. Just the ghosts of this town, dressed in sheets. And black spots where their eyes should be.
Storm shakes the tumbleweed. She twists the blind shut and asks god to refasten the chains when he’s done.
©2017 Jac Forsyth
Dragons, knights and bewildering sub clauses. What more could you want from a Thursday evening?
A dustcart trails cherry blossom in bridal chaos. Traffic roulette spins on who’s gonna carry the scent bouquet. A guy asks strangers for money and his words rehearse legitimacy through an ice show of withdrawal. £21 for shelter, he says. I don’t ask what sort of shelter he means.
I sit in a cafe and mourn the loss of cold coffee and stale nicotine. Normality filters everything from this windowed street life and I wander too far into the sideshows and circus tents to remember what it was like.
There’s a snake oil cure splashed out across repose and the scream of surrender. The sun shines but the shadows still fall flat no matter what they wanted to be. I run the tips of my fingers through the filigreed agony of a thousand nights and watch the debris burn off in fireflies. It seems like I can only see the freaks in mirrors these days.
A streetcleaner calls symphony in crisp packets and paper cups. There is a girl sat in an abandoned doorway, every part of her life is covered in filth. She watches the stumpy machine, like it’s on TV, like it could mean something in another life. The brushes sweep grey spirals around her but she is too much rubbish for even the dust collector to recognise. Some people are measured for a coffin the day all return tickets get cancelled. I buy her breakfast and it’s me has to do all the crying because there’s only survival left in her.
I go to the polling station. Seems like the people who deserve to vote the most don’t get one. A gymkhana of rosettes talk outside, one candidate asks for my card number and tells me the grass needs cutting in this town. I shut my eyes and pretend it’s the sun. I’ve already raked through the canker of promises to find the ones who will do the least amount of damage. He smiles and I know there are only pencils and bad choices on the inside.
The bank is full of old people. I transfer money from one account to another as easy as remembering my address. The automatic door keeps opening even though no one comes in. Ghosts of past employees, we joke as the roar of contrition plays Bach in the corner and I search out deliverance on my iPod. When I try to leave the door twitches like it doesn’t want to let me go. I turn the music up to max and let oblivion take me.
©2017 Jac Forsyth
Truth is a cunning dancer. Smoke over fire, its drums beat out my heart. And I quantify my verdicts with the naivety of their restless pounding. Armageddon was scattered once, dismantled in the bunkers of preparation. I drive this life hard. Peace is not enough, sleep is not enough, death is not enough, for those who chase extinction. The gunman pulls another trigger and a dozen night-birds corrupt with the echoes of my lament, their feathered artillery dragged out across the silence of 3am skies.
And wrapped in the blankets of my insanity, I divide by five and measure their distance in lightning storms.
Your skin washed in shadows, I watch your breath. Your body warm with my dreaming. The scent of you laid out across this unmade land. I taste you in my blood and I am bound crimson with the ribbons of this uncharted. This place of dragons, where I watch your lips trace the outline I have torn apart in my fury. And we are found, lost, broken on the riptide of that familiar storm. I have sold the compass of my mind. Watched you floundered on the reef of corporal bones. Sworn oath to the dread sands. Taken harbour where you would cut us adrift. My hands tied to the mast of another haunted galleon. You murmur words I cannot feel. You map out ragged coastlines, oil on canvas. You fly bright with the standards of this new land. You breathe. I watch your breath. And draw my world in pencil.
I keep your photograph face down. Wandering my mind in fairy tale. No story book. No rewind in the soft, silk of your Disney blue. I don’t remember you. The curl of your fingers. Your feet lost in shared blankets. The trail of you overgrown, shadowed in that glare of second hand ghosts. I don’t remember you. And I smile with the sweetness of you. The beauty of your face. The one I see, there in the unadorned. There with your blue. Face down. The mist of you in my arms until I fail with the weight. That isn’t there. Just your blue. And even the sky is wrong with it. I don’t remember you. What it’s like to hold you. Just a photograph. Face down. Reminds me that I don’t remember you. But I do remember the blue. Of your eyes. And if I could ask you, would you smile your photograph and whisper that blue, was enough?