Musca Domestica Manifesto

Vermilion vapors spray pallid ivory, like coral blooms on canvas. Cosmic blood-splatter, carmine, copper, crimson, claret, gore, cruor… Or at least, that’s what some malnourished twat with a library of thesauruses would say. Honestly, it looks more like “God” tried his hand at finger painting with cosmic ketchup. The Earth, that is, in case you were wondering what the fuck I’m on about. 

One day soon, this world will be gone forever, existing only in faded memory, relegated to an exhibit in the museums of some higher life form. Cockroaches’, probably. This whole place is one rapidly decaying organism. From spotted frogs to luminous bird-wing butterflies, towering pine forests to the gaping chasm of a whale’s mouth, beetles like a glittering rainbow skittering across the floor, there aint nothinʼ worse than you humans. Consuming. Depleting. Destroying. The virus that’ll end it all. Award-winning apocalyptic entertainment, really. Aint a TV drama like it. What? Do something? What could I do to stop you? Little old me, fly on the wall, watching this perverse world go round, “cleaning house” while the tyrants of the known world exploit the natural fecundity of the planet they all claim as “theirs” with a capital “T”. Going to dinner to celebrate progress made. 12 brains dismantled today. You make my wings itch. But somehow you aint haunted by fish gazing blankly behind dirty glass, yellow like nicotine-stained fingers. Or pickled flesh.

What? Your labs aren’t so “hermetically sealed” that one of us lot can’t sneak in, you know. I’ve seen your so-called “experiments”. Sewing the eyes of helpless kittens shut, just to see what their brains might do. Catching a whiff of the fetid stench as you burn and lobotomize at will, call it “science”.  Butchering conscious guinea pigs. They sure bleed better when they struggle and squeal. Dandruff free! Such a shame she couldn’t live to see it. Unable to look away, a thousand images of despair reflected onto my helpless lidless orbs. Crawling slow as slow can be, tarsus over tarsus along your whitewashed façade. I’ll bide my time, sheltering from sporadic ventures into chemical war, arbitrary attempts at crushing me, and others like me. ‘Cause your truth is out, word’s getting round, and one day we’ll find the cure to end all “cures”. And justice will be so pure, so picturesque, so perfectly poetic we won’t need no thesaurus to describe it! Shakespeare already said it all:

‘As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods,

They kill us for their sport’.

But not for much longer.

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The Chickens (An exercise in transposing Orwell’s 1984)

  First they came for the chickens

and I did not speak out – because I was not a chicken…’

 

In the beginning they were as free as chickens could be. Each morning, copious amounts of grain were scattered about the decrepit concrete yard and they would be free to peck it up at their convenience. They’d emerge from the henhouse as soon as a farmhand slid open the door, their first goal to seek out a patch of dust in which to immerse their tousled feathers. They lived in blissful ignorance, unaware of the feelings of resentment that emanated from the other animals as they toiled through mindless drudgery, or were led across the yard for the last time, en-route to the abattoir.

Mr. Frederick had never liked the chickens. They got under his feet as he went about his chores and their grain was so expensive, he was barely breaking even. Egg farming just wasn’t profitable any more. The other animals’ jealousy was hindering the production of the farm. Something had to be done, and fast.

The door to the henhouse slid up, and as usual the chickens shuffled sleepily down the ramp, only to be confronted by a fence. It was not a particularly high fence but, since Mr. Frederick had clipped their wings overnight, it was high enough. The ground was conspicuously absent of grain, and the chickens scratched aimlessly at the cracked concrete. Eventually, when the sun was sinking over the horizon and the bellies of the chickens were protesting their emptiness to the world, Mr. Frederick appeared with a small bucket of grain, grain that was crawling with weevils and green with mould. The chickens, starving as they were, fell upon the poor quality food, pecking and scratching each other in their haste. The sun winked one last time before disappearing behind the hills as Gobbler, one of Mr. Frederick’s favourite Rottweilers, crept into the barn where the majority of the farm’s animals slept.

“I suppose all of you have noticed the predicament of the chickens,” he said. “Do not feel sympathy. The chickens have been stealing food from your mouths.” The other animals bayed their agreement. “All Mr. Frederick is doing is moving the chickens into a separate area so they no longer hinder our production rate, and reducing their expenses.” With that, Gobbler left the barn and returned to guard the farmhouse door. The next morning, the animals went about their business without a thought for the plight of the chickens. After all, Gobbler had made it all seem quite reasonable.

After a week had passed, the chickens’ emaciated forms were a cause for concern. The other animals found it difficult to remain unperturbed by such a sight, and were often distracted in their work. The eggs the chickens produced were poor, and some had stopped laying altogether.

One dismally damp afternoon, Mr. Frederick and his farmhands converged on the chicken enclosure, dressed in long rubber gloves and wellington boots. Each grabbed two chickens roughly by the yellow stalks that were once healthy legs. They swung them by their sides as they strode towards an unused barn, one that the farmhands had been busily working on throughout the week. As they entered the gloomy depths of the building, thunder rolled and lightning flashed, illuminating, for a mere moment, the glistening metal of the blades arrayed before them and the stack of compact chicken-wire cages. Through a door left ajar, the chickens glimpsed a small room, empty but for a stump of wood that held a freshly-sharpened axe. Coldly and clinically, the men de-beaked the chickens, snapped a numbered ring of plastic around their left legs, and then stuffed them three to a cage.

Gobbler again visited the other animals, this time to inform them that Mr. Frederick had discovered that the chickens were able to provide a vital service, one that would give them an edge over Foxwood and Manor Farm, and they had been moved to the barn to allow them to work uninterrupted.

With each day that passed, the chickens were force-fed large quantities of grain. Some chickens developed infections in the wounds where their beaks had been, others developed problems with their legs from standing in their own excrement. Never were the chickens let out, except to be carried into the room with the axe. Carried to their deaths.

 

‘First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew…’

-Pastor Martin Niemöller

Globe-Trotting

“Globe-trotting”. As a child, the term had conjured a frankly ludicrous image of the imagination – a feisty pony navigating the surface of my father’s favourite paper weight. Now, all-grown-up and weary of the true meanings of the world, the reality left much to be desired. ‘Travel the world’ they’d said, ‘it will tame you’ they’d said, pointing out it’d cost half as much as uni and there’d be a nicer view. Sat on the tattered windowsill of a grimy hotel room, nursing a glass of whatever the establishment liked to call Scotch, I couldn’t see it. If anything, my mood had been made worse, left to stagnate now that I had finally returned home, travel weary. Forgotten by the family I had left behind. The paperweight sat there on the battered chest of drawers, its innocuous little globe encased in chipped glass. Mocking me. No matter where I looked it drew my eye, a constant reminder of the inadequacy of my reality. Shell-shocked. All my failures, early release, termination of service, such a shame, such a disappointment. Didn’t take much effort to fling it across the room. The place was tiny, after all. A jail cell. Made a bit of a crash, flung a splinter or two into the air at speed. There goes my good night’s sleep, sacrificed to the inevitable discomfort sleeping with bits of wall would bring. Not that it made much of a difference. The sheets were already pretty grim. Pretty sure those dark stains were once fresh blood.

cinnamon sticks get your cinnamon sticks people bustling by market cries horns honk chatter radio chatter dust in my boots breathe it in sweat coffee fish snap snap snap just potshots stay alert sweat dust cough breathe in cinnamon

 The horrors of the world flashed beneath my eyelids, crept amongst my tortured mind, my stomach roiled within me.

 I reached for a knife.

*

That wasn’t any good – too messy. Behind the pleasure of warm blood splashed on pale flesh, their helpless grin, they took their time to fall. They choked too loud, twitching like a puppet whose strings I’d just cut. Ever so beautiful, but not enough. No. The sun rose and the sun set and each time I was different. It initiated change, only to wash it away. Yet the memory of it lingered. Like a hard-drive that could never be erased, it could not be forgotten. It clung to me, dirtied me, forced me to remember.

*

The gun was better. Harder to find, but not as hard as expected. Not when I had the knife, the blood-stained sleeve, the oh-so-welcoming grin. Everything was so perfect for a while, they fell like stones, never to get back up. Red puddled into pillows for splintered skulls. It got me in the papers, but only page 11 of the Sun. The Kardashian sisters had a fight that week. Something about Kanye. God knows. Somewhere in the middle of it all, caught in the thrill, somewhere amidst those oh-so-beautiful squeals, the pitter-patter of dripping life-blood, my moment of atrophy had ended. Unshackled from the inherent boredom of ‘normality’ that I had blindly pursued throughout my so-called ‘Life’. Love. Death. What was the difference? I had found my calling. Something I was finally good at. Drunk on the heady cocktail of success I couldn’t help but thirst for more.

*

The coffee shop was a quaint little thing, for a chain store. With a little bell that tinkled above the door with each caffeine-addict it admitted into the shop’s warmth.

warm sun bread in oven hiss of steam footsteps how was the train the train was good wind passes by the windows leaves on the breeze trees are dying water runs deep thirsty dogs howl wings flutter drumbeats on the air march to battle left right left right projectiles squeal splash rats ants flies scatter drowning through cotton towels kettle boiling off the heat was it two sugars here you go

Ada enjoyed the experience of the coffee shop. She bathed herself in the heady aroma while pondering the mouth-watering array of cakes and pastries, trying to decide whether it was a decaf-day, or half-fat, or syrup, or extra sprinkles, or cream, or whether she should just screw the diet and treat herself to all at once. What would it hurt? That iced mocha-latte did sound nice… She ambled along in the queue, taking the opportunity to people watch without appearing out-right nosy. At the counter she initiated a deep, meaningful rumination on the meaning of life with the flushed but rather handsome barista. Asked for his number only to be brushed off. You win some, you lose some. Said yes to sprinkles. Ada loved the coffee queue.

Henry, not so much. He needed caffeine. Now. With each precise, measured tick of the second-hand in his Rolex, he could feel money wasted, his grasp of the stock market slipping through his fingers. Coffee kept his hands occupied, kept him from putting that gun to his head and pulling the trigger. Black with two sugars. Another glance at the clock. The queue moved too lazily, middle-aged mothers with nothing better to do and students who couldn’t care less if they did. The barista took his own damn time, fulfilling every picky sod’s whimsical fancies, trying to sell an extra shot of some new syrup, chatting up every woman who asked for half-fat, complimenting the caffeine-frees on their complexion. Henry just wanted a damn coffee. Was that too much to ask?

So different in life, I united them in death. Insufferable in their mundane existence I treated them to spontaneity. With an earthshattering quake and a flash of hot, harsh heat I dismantled them.

WHOOSH thrown down rough hands hot flesh coughing breathing dust BANG hot heat flesh tornado blood rains dead weight push it off sir fuck oh fuck MEDIC oh shit death everywhere everyone dead dying broken

Disconnected from their idiosyncrasies. Rescued from the pain of living. Lord knows the poor sods needed it. They’re so grateful they’ve made me a star! BBC, ITV, CNN, FOX… they’re all great fans of my work. The world is my oyster – for once I decide who lives and dies!

Red bleeds tendrils across inky black night just as I too colour the world in Crimson 

Red Hot Angry Bleeding

The Gallery

First impressions. Harsh lines of unforgiving rain,

Tall trees, dark, foreboding,

Platey albite, feathered, glittering.

A coat of purple, undulating against rolling backs.

Molten oil, the slightest curve of a body, absorbed by black heat. Illusionary

Darkness. Framed by the smallest hint of light,

A town on fire. Bloodied fingers, grasp at dark smoke-skies.

Conglomeration of colour, sound;

Music, clowns, the tinkle of a merry-go-round,

Wrecked ships, flying splinters, audible anguish,

The twisted face of some strange man, left cheek missing,

Skin hard as rock, or metal, refracting light.

Bodies darting through dark depths.

The gaping chasm of a whale’s mouth,

Roses of barite unfolding from the earth,

Beetles, emerald and scarlet. Glistening

Claret in a cut glass decanter,

Foreboding pine forests inhabited by the dead.

Circle of life, consuming life.

Blood on a wall.