Full of Fire: Part 3

(Part 1Part 2)

She never regretted moving to this flat.  It was her bolt hole in this fast paced city, a place where she could flutter and eventually fly free of her parents, beloved though they were.  In fact, they were the reason why she had moved to the city.  She couldn’t quite face looking into their eyes once Robert had been to visit her at the parent’s house.  If they had known of all of the positions that they had made love in then her cheeks would be forever burnished, matching only those of rosy fresh apples.  No, much better that she had moved away to a swanky new flat with him instead, free to both explore their love and to allow their careers to take a foothold upon the employment ladder in their chosen fields.

The flat wasn’t really swanky in all honesty.  Sometimes, especially after a heated remark or two, it could feel like a shoe box and one that she yearned to escape.  It was at times like those that she felt she could happily return to her parent’s house, to become engulfed once again in their loving embrace.  But she realized that this would never happen again, she had flown the coop and would not return to live there in this lifetime.  She visited, from time to time, and had hosted her mother and father in her adopted city, but they would not meaningfully live side by side again.

Robert was her immediate family now, her lover and confidant, her romancer and family man.  Her father wrote often though, kept the familial bonds strong and she wrote back as often as she could, though writing was not her forte and clearly her path in life was not to follow her father.  She loved his letters though, decorated as they were with doodles on each page.  The notes on his latest writing project filled her with hope for her father and his health, as she often mistakenly equated the health of his imagination with the health of his ailing body.  Her mother sometimes added a page or two of notes as well, updated her on school crushes and old boyfriends.  It was these tidbits from her mother that she really enjoyed, kept her in the loop of small town life and let her feel guilt-free pangs of happiness.  In this raging city of 24/7 access, it was grounding to know that life continued as much as it ever had in other parts of the country, parts that the creeping suburbia of the city hadn’t yet reached.

The illness unhinged her for a while though, the images of her father spraying droplets of blood was not something that she wanted to think about, neither was the fact that her parents were indeed mortal and not immortal, as a childish version of her thought still.  Her foundation of independence had just become solidified yet it felt like even as she started to make her mark on the world, the world had started to shake the rock that she built her life upon.

In all honesty she tried not to think about the condition slowly taking over her father’s life.  To put death at a distance and to keep love close.  That was her motto, though she could never think of the words to articulate it, it was how she lived her live in the shadow of her parent’s slow, earthly demise.  Her father would probably be writing a poem at this very moment and she could just picture it, his pen gliding across the paper in what would seem to be a well-rehearsed manner.  The words would flow, the inconvertible truth that this man was born to give a voice to his generation would be undeniable.

In her darkest moments, sometimes the ones that followed the passionate lovemaking sessions with Robert where she lay in quiet repose resting, the thoughts would intrude into her mind like unbidden shards of shattered glass.  He would be remembered by the many, not by the few.

It would not be long now.

The Earth & Everything In It

My room, I realize, is covered in books and CD’s.  Stacks of both poke out from under my bed, bulge on shelves, take root on free patches on the floor.  I have boxes of academic books and reference texts resting below where I sleep, buried alongside those are boxes of CD’s and cassette tapes, filled with yesterday’s music and recorded jam sessions made during the proclivities of my youth.  They are, it appears, my media of choice for consuming the experiences and thoughts of being human.

To be human, as to recognize to being alive, is temporary but what a beauty that it is in itself:

‘But the stars twinkle above our heads, the sun shines, the grass grows and the earth, yes, the earth, it swallows all life and eradicates all vestige of it, spews out new life in a cascade of limb and eyes, leaves and nails, hair and tails, cheeks and fur and guts, and swallows it up again. And what we never really comprehend , or don’t want to comprehend, is that this happens outside us, that we ourselves have no part in it, that we are only that which grows and dies, as blind as the waves in the sea are blind.’

From My Struggle: Part 2. A Man In Love (2014) by Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Silence In The Cemetery

CNV00064Photograph by the author using a Pentax S1a camera and Ilford black and white film.  If reproduced please credit the author of the photograph as appropriate and link back to this site.

Mercurial Selves

I’m sitting at the table and I have an itch on my head, just above my right ear.  I go to scratch it, gently pressing my fingers in against the hair and the skin.  The fingers just keep digging in, drawing blood first and then they gently parse aside the fibres of the temporalis muscle.

Deeper still they go, through the border of the parietal and temporal bone, reaching into the bag that keeps the brain whole until finally the fingers penetrate the soft folds of the brain itself.

I look around and my family have not noticed anything different.  My breakfast sits before me, untouched and uneaten.

I am slightly sickened by this point so I retract my fingers, hold them steady in front of my face and twist the right hand around, noticing as I do the soft droplets of blood hitting the bowl in front of me.  They are red tears dropping onto my cereal biscuits, mixing with the milk to make it a pinkish dye.

I want to scream, to say that this is not normal.

But then I realize, slowly, that each of my family members also have one of their own hands extended deep into their own heads, exploring their own personality and their own individual ticks.

This is normal.  This is what we do.  We examine our own conscious, our feelings, for hints and tips on how to react to external stimuli as appropriate.  We look deep into ourselves and, finally, we also look to each other for social clues, for the nous that we think is missing from the familiar.

This is a routine that we practice each and every morning, the examining of our physical selves to better re-enforce our emotional batteries.  We are what we are, we are both flesh and blood; we are but thoughts and emotions also.

The milk tastes okay with the droplets of blood, there is the hint of the mercurial and the taste of the metallic as I crunch down on my breakfast feed.

It is the same every morning, it is the same every week.  For better or for worse.

Variations on a Thought

I am having trouble conveying the feelings that I am having, the fact that I want to write, to keep writing, but cannot quite formulate exactly what I want to say.  At the moment I am finding a deep release through music, either through live gigs or listening to albums as I drive across the northern landscape of the country I inhabit.  Often, on a morning when I wake, I play the album in the CD player and wash myself in the tones of whoever is playing.  It is a sweet relief.  There is an immediate sense of  feeling, of a placement on a particular chord or orchestral swell, that rush of recognition that can only come with time when reading the words of others.  Yet I feel there is a deep kindred between these two methods of communication, two of the most important for me.  Yes, of course we talk, we can express our desires, worries, love and anger through talking, we gesture too, we can laugh or howl with derision, but there is something in the beauty of the written word, in the musical note, that is lacking from the babble that vocalizes forth from the mouths of both myself and of others.  What does this say about me?  I am not quite sure I want to know, that maybe I value the thoughts and beliefs of others, but worry about giving a voice to my own?  Perhaps.

This isn’t the piece or the time to give voice to such ill thought out ideas or half formed theories.  I want to keep writing, I want you to keep reading, I want us both to keep being creative, to tap into that font of magic that cannot be commercialized, crunched down to size for productivity measures or customer service satisfaction.  I feel in limbo, between the world of what is expected of us all as individuals, in a market where we have to pull our weight to feed our commercial gain, compared to a more utopian paradise where the value of a person is not placed on their output, or their labor.  It is ridiculous to think of such thoughts, ridiculous to think that I am free to think such thoughts, to moan about a life well lived.  But I do, we all do, no matter our position, social standing or inherent bias built into us.  We are all individuals and we are all a collective.  Together we love, destroy and displace.

I am having trouble writing.  I am staring at the computer screen each and every day. It is, I realize with a disgusted shudder, a proxy for human interaction, for skin on skin.  Yet still I come back for more, in the vain and vapid belief that this is a life well lived, that this is life itself.  Humans need the company of the animals and plants, of the soil itself, to know that we do not share this planet alone amongst our kind.  We are but one of many and I feel that this is forgotten more and more.  Ignorance is bliss until the world collapses around ourselves, and we are left choking on the markers of productivity.

Death has become a familiar friend as of late, in this last year of my life.  This may be the last year of my life, I hope it is not but we never quite know what is around the corner.  Surely we should grab it, if we believe it is so?  Yet still, I lie in bed an extra hour, to soak in the sonic variations and textural tones of the current album spinning in my CD player. Content to know that, for the time being, this is where I belong.  My limbs relax, my eyes flutter and close, finally my breathing shallows.  It is a mere shadow of true sexual ecstasy, but it is close.

Imagined Conversations Vol. 1

…”You know my feelings on our family, I’m sick of being treated as a small child – I am adult!

“You need to relax, you know you are in a very lucky position being able to live at home still, sure dad may stick his oar in where it sometimes doesn’t require, but just put up with it for the minute”.

“Fine….”

…..”How beautiful is this lanscape, this beach and the rolloing waves?”

“It’s cold, I’m cold! Can we go home now?”

“Just a bit further, a bit longer….”

…”I’ve hit the bottom, I know I have.  I’m sick of this job, sick of not doing anything each weekend, I need to escape, I need something to hang on to”.

“The job is fine, everyone is in the same position you know, you should count yourself lucky that you can do what you do.  Have you though about writing any more or trying to meet new people?”

“Well I have tried, a bit, but it’s tough and then….”

…”Your grandfather used to work on the ships you know, in the merchant navy.  Went around the world, spending weeks and months at sea, only to have a few days of shore leave at the end of it.  A different story today of course, where shore leave is ever more compacted, don’t have the fun that you used have!”

“Dad, shut up!  Tell me more about grandad and his adventures on the high seas…”

The old thought was on my mind as I took this picture.  What are you doing, where are you going?

CNV00010If reproduced please credit as appropriate.

Profound Bullsh*t

Snippets of Profound Bullshit:

After an operation the best course of action for a swift recovery is to eat good food.

Affer an operation the worst course of action for a swift recovery is to eat hospital food.

Like every other human being he thought too much about the past and worried too much about the future.

No matter how fast you run you cannot outrun life itself.

A warm room in the begining and a cold grave at the end, life inbetween is just a waiting room.

Your next punch is always the hardest.

 

A Letter From Your Friend

Dear John,

Forgive the state of this paper that I write on to you now.

There is no sleep in this house now, there is only the ongoing pain at the long and drawn out suicide of humanity, that final desperate cry that is falling on deaf ears the world over.  Our cities, our towns, and our villages are burning in this fever, we are being choked as the very oxygen of life itself is sucked into this unremitting chaos, this rack and ruin of our modern world.  I know you have felt true pain in your life John, as I have mine, but this is unlike anything that we have seen before.  There is no glory in death, no beauty in execution, no mercy in torture.

Man is at the mercy of fellow-man, and that well of mercy has reached its bitter and turgid end.  It is dry, bone dry, and we have resorted to barbarity to replace what we have lost.

Even as I write this letter to you now I can hear the engines of jeeps prowling the street, the siren call for retribution wailing into the night.  I can hear the distant thud of artillery threatening the very capital.  The sands of our land are choking on the blood of its people, spilt time and time again.  I have seen inhumane scenes, of neighbour killing neighbour, of families split by invisible sectarian lines, of death squads rampaging across the city executing those it hates on sight.  I have lost the beauty that I once found in life itself, and it has been replaced by those faces that I see day in and day out.  The faces that are willing to kill and to maim if you do not abide by their rules.

I cannot believe that these people have families that lovingly raised them to be citizens of the world, that were ensconced in the beauty of our religion from birth.

It would be a lie, a certain and death-defying lie, to tell you that I did not fear for my immediate future.  There is no hope in munitions, helped either in its aim by the barrel of a gun or of a bomb held securely in the bay of distant plane.  In that sense, they both share the same problem in that they only kill and main and alienate – they do not heal, they do not bring together the families of those that are at war with each other.

The news is the same the world over, each country fighting its own personal war against the populace.  I pray for you my brother, as I shall pray for your family as you pray for mine.  May we find each other again in a garden of peace.

Yours sincerely,

Abdulrahman M.

Dispatches From The Coast: Quick Scribbles

There is nough so fair or ought so glum as word in print, prose or poetry,

Nothing harder won or bitter swon as a pill laced with poison.

The writer knows that his work carries less weight than the ink of his print,

Poison pen be it, subsistence by thought alone a long gone dream.

Oft gang aft aglay, even as we pray, wish and hope.

Wry smiles and token gestures seal naught but the contract,

empty of pennies as thy purse brims with hope.

Be here men and women, the thoughts of the many,

Dashed upon the rock of modern prose poetry.

Sinking further into a cold hearted coffin, nay thought spared for the writer.

Indifference strikes the many as disease did carry,

Those weakest, those first that voiced their opinion, on their shoulders be it.

Even as we swim, current against tide, sway even as we may

Dream –

Hold our heads high –

Even as our murky scribblings and manuscripts –

Sink beneath the wave of indolence, of innocence, of ignorant hearted bliss. (Try not).

I type these words with blood between my fingers,

Flowing over knuckle, bone and skin.

We have denied the value of the writer even as we write ourselves,

We have paid a penny more for our open grave.

Individual we stand,

But communal we fall.

Slipstream Dreams

It’s true you know, the sea calls each wandering albatross home in the end.  They do not fly forever, sometimes they have to make landfall and other times they land in the sea and rest.  It is when they rest on the sea that the sea swallows them, lures them to duck their heads under the water with the gentle lapping of the waves and its promises of a fishy feast.  The albatross accept this as a part of their fate.  They are wise birds you know, elegant flyers, efficient users of the warm air currents.

I dreamt that I turned into an albatross once, that I took off from this scraggly patch of rock and fly out towards the sea.  I flew high, rarely beating my majestic wings.  I spied sailors from on high and followed in their slipstream.  They waved to me in turn and acknowledged my presence as a good sign.  They were often lonely in the southern sea, their sails furled out hoping to catch a push home.  In was in this way that I dreamt for many years.

Of course I cannot do that today.  Our attention is forever focused by other things.  The incessant beep of recognition from the outside world that clambers for our time and effort drains us of ourselves.  How I yearn to fly as an albatross again.  I will, no doubt, take my final rest in my later years, which are soon to become my present years.  Again I have no doubt that I shall spread my wings once more and scale the dizzy heights above the southern sea, that I will join my leviathan brethren and explore the ocean anew.  Remember though that the sea can swallow even us.

CNV00024

Photograph taken by author with a Pentax s1a camera.