The Artist’s Lament

An endless stretch of grey. 

Deep, dark, dirt. 

Sucking mud. Clutches at a man’s boots,

And won’t let go. Tries to save him, to stop the endless forward push, 

To the inevitable ruddy report before all goes black. 

In the grey wasteland silence hangs, a silver thread grasping at the dark,

At the quiet cold, while the whistles and the bombs

Dominate the day. 

The uniforms on both sides a wash of grey.

What was brown faded.

Coated in harsh, cloying mud, dries pale. Cracks, 

Like their officers’ reserve. 

Running, running, running, running, 

Running until they fall.

Through pitted earth, over tangled limbs; ally, enemy, human.

Rolling tide of red, red the earth neglects to swallow, 

Bloated by the bloody blood-feast, 

Can not defeat the greyness of it all.

The hopeless, pitiless, soulless shades,

Of cold, cold grey.

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