Value of the gold of gods
diminished in the eyes of men.
Atrocities of blood long shod
Convince us not to start again.
Death, destruction, fear and doubt,
A people running, hiding scared.
Glass in the throat. We cannot shout.
It’s war and we are unprepared.
Electric tongues of famous faces
spit their lines amongst deaf ears.
They try to shock, their lies leave traces;
lightening scars awash with tears.
Athena won’t you come to me,
explain the reason for this woe?
She will not come, our destiny,
to take a seat and watch the show.
Smothered in a napalm blanket,
tiny hands begin to reach
up into the flames that drank it.
No more children left to teach.
Through echoes of the promised land
the sound of drums attempt to tell
the story we don’t understand:
we are the reason we’re in Hell.
They arm themselves with dictionaries
for words too striking to ignore.
They slip them into policies
they don’t explain, but kill the poor.
Cry me a river, grab an oar.
O, Amphitrite strike me down!
They took our freedom, then took more.
Faith can’t save us. Let me drown.
There is a lesson left to learn:
do not succumb to this defeat.
Through glass walls we watch it burn
and play our mantra on repeat.
“O, woe is me, this world is cruel.
Please, no more, my heart will break”.
We make our coffins, fit to rule,
and lay down in them. Our mistake.
O, why must I be Hamlet?
Two feet walking step by step
along a line that is paved with blood.
Poison in my heart, pierced.
To my left I see a family,
all smiling like they mean it, yet
plotting my demise.
I must deny you, sweet girl.
The right is all-destroying Darkness.
Though true, it’s right, but is it right?
Whether ‘tis nobler to agree,
or walk the endless walk of Time
and His cruel agony,
perhaps soft Sleep will tell. To sleep
perchance to dream. Dream forever.
O, Ophelia, why can I not choose like you?
Sleeping with the fish, warm in the riverbed,
I envy you.
To sleep the final sleep, it’s true,
may not have been your choice.
But you could make one.
The crazy girl that sung
and broke out in hysterics just because she could,
because your fate was sealed by foul lips
that uttered words like nails to your coffin.
You were so pretty. They thought it a waste.
You made the choice to take it, crushed
though you were by the weight of your rejection.
I could not, cannot, choose.
I walk the line once more, my dear Ophelia.
I do not, will not, drown.
My eternal Princess of the deep.
I am but Hamlet,
and I’ll never choose.
from a voicebox unprepared.
Physical, the trepidation
of the sentence, piercing.
Trapped between the walls
that make them.
Broken letters lose their meaning.
Harsh are the shards
of a syntax born of Mutiny
A fist unclenching in
the throat of the destroyer.
They will not come.
Glass fragments of Soul’s window
those suicidal words of murder.
A knot entangled in
the fleshy chamber, lodged
somewhere behind the traitor tongue.
Intent betrayed to silence.
But for the throbbing ache
that stabs in spite,
all is unchanged.
He shall not bleed.
swirling torment over water;
destruction in a blink;
here one moment;
gone the next.
Never does it solve itself,
the grey skyline confliction.
Never will the dust settle
on this heavenly candyfloss annihilation.
Above the water,
where the shipwrecks sleep,
an ever-watching pair of eyes
awaits the fall.
Mind and iris.
Fuzzy edges of a feeling.
Sense nonsensical and
meticulous line of poison red.
Slice of rust.
Liquid pulsing into
flakes of coal-stained ruby.
forever etched now with those screams.
Oppression in a vaccuum.
All is lost.
The following short story is in need of your help. It’s working title is ‘Exchange’ however I am displeased with this. I therefore invite you all to read this 600 word piece and come up with a title of your own. Post it in the comments section and the best one will have the honour of, well, being the permanent title. Here goes.
There’s a man in my neighbourhood that likes to be talked to. He’s a hobo but he listens good. I see him slumped in underpasses when I go to lectures, pick up a ten bag, buy a box of Minstrels. He has one of those hats, you know the ones. Flappy ear bits that make him look like Goofy on a windy day. I give him a bite of my Snickers sometimes, I know he likes the crunch. It’s the sound it makes, you see. I bet his soul makes the same sound, like throwing a handful of peanuts in a washing machine and spinning the drum.
I’ve grown pretty accustomed to that upturned palm. Never get to read it much but he says he’ll crack me a peek one day. He’s a hobo but he lies good. I know he pays no mind to visual affairs. He can’t read none but he likes to hear a pretty tale any day. Even painful ones have a music that quivers a man’s heart strings he says. A lot can be revealed in a Devil’s chord. I played him some Debussy once. I didn’t hear the sea until he sung it back to me. See? See lad? He cried that day into his cavity-smile.
Most folks won’t shine a watch in his eyes but he doesn’t care for them. No point wasting time on the Rolex-clad. He’s a hobo but he holds himself good. I asked him one day about the napkin he always had tied to his belt. It was the colour of rust. He tapped his nose and smiled his smile and sent me on my way. I thought he meant to learn me something so I came back again the next day. Again I asked and again he brushed me off. I never saw that pouch get bigger or smaller until one afternoon when I saw an old broad walk his way. My eyes were glued but therein lay my lesson I assumed. So I shut my eyes, sparked a J and listened.
Penny for them? Clink clink. Oh, oh alright, dear boy. Well, it’s my husband you see. We met oh so long ago, right after the war. He was wearing his beret and looked dashing, he was such a handsome man, my Bert. I was a simple girl back then but he saw more in me somehow. He always seemed to … it’ll be so hard without him. He had a weak heart, you see. He loved too fiercely and it just … gave out. Oh but I mustn’t be too sad. He lived a long life and I’ll join him on that porch in Vienna soon enough. Thank you, my boy. God bless you.
I poked my nose round the corner to see the old man bathing in his tears. He was smiling that cavity smile and savouring some private melody. Through all of this I hadn’t seen the purpose of the rust-coloured napkin. It looked the same to me as it did before. The woman crossed my path in a talcum cloud and in her hand was a dirty coin. I had to know, so I went to him and posed my question for the final time. Morning, Trash-Can Dan. What’s in the napkin? Through his salty streams he tapped his nose and smiled his smile and sent me on my way. I never knew my Dad. Fresh liquid pebbles manifested in his lashes. He’s a hobo, but he cries good. His fingers worked at the napkin package for a second then he turned and pressed a copper coin into my hand. Penny for them?
This weekend I will be busy with moving out of my second year student house, and bonding with The Dad, so posts will be sparce. To make up for it, here is a section from a story in progress, Unsafe Haven. I only began this yesterday but the idea has been floating around for a while. As a quick disclaimer, yes I have used the terms “Draculoid” and “Killjoy” which is a direct reference to My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days, but I do not mean to steal the terms permanently. I actually owe a lot to the album for the idea, and a lot of the places, events and characters I have in my head were spawned from that album, but I will not attempt to claim a right to any of it, and hopefully will adapt it, in time, to an extent where it is all my idea and not stealing from you. Sorry, Gerard, I love your work, and it helped me make this. I promise to do you justice.
So here it is, the opening chapter of Unsafe Haven.
“I hate seeing you like this. I wish I could help you.”
“I know, love. Don’t worry about me.”
Severin sat staring blank across the room. He was empty inside, Madeline could see it. There was nothing in his eyes. And as he breathed, slow, controlled, she searched desperately for a way to draw him out of his head. To find a way to bring him back to her. His mask concealed most of his face, but the eyes were clear as day to her. Eventually, she pulled herself up on the counter and waited. He would come around.
The room they were in was large, square, and piled high with trash. The two walls facing East and South had taken the brunt of it. All the windows had been blasted from their frames in the last attack. Glass still littered the floor. Long boards of graffited wood now covered the gaps in a futile attempt at reparations. They never spent much time fixing battle damage out here. The Western wall was the least damaged, due to its being the only side of the building not facing a road. They always began a raid from the roads. The Draculoids were predictable, but effective. Where bricks were coming loose on every other wall, this Western one was as solid as when it was built. That was probably the only reason this building was still standing. The North wall was where Madeline now turned her gaze. This was where the roof access was. A cracked and flaking red fireman’s ladder bridged the gap from central chamber to lookout point. This is where she headed. The mask that was looped loose around her neck was pulled up over her eyes before she spoke. For her plan to work they were going to have to go outside. Concealment was key. Her jacket was zipped to the throat and she paused as she spoke her words.
“Come with me. We’re going to have some fun.” The hovering hand continued its journey to close the zip over her chin, mouth, nose. She held out her hand to Severin and prayed for a response. It was answered. He looked at her with dark eyes, then took her hand. With her free one she scooped up a handful of rubble and led him to the ladder. Dust sifted between her fingers.
On the roof, she sat cross legged and tipped the loose stones into a section of broken gutter. As she dusted her hands on her shirt, Severin took his place beside her, his legs wrapping over the plastic to hang over the edge into the dusk. They wouldn’t have long. Night was coming.
The sensation of movement at his hand made Severin look up. Madeline had placed a small rock in his palm, and now looked off in the direction of The Oak Barrel. His mind turned sad for an instant as he remembered better days, drinking at the saloon, dancing on the bar to jaunty folk songs. Back then things were easier. He hadn’t had to pretend to smile then.
“See that?” He didn’t. She pointed. “Target acquired. Two o’clock, man with briefcase and bowler hat, mid thirties, trying too hard not to be noticed.” Severin looked, and found him. He was short, stocky. “Reckon you could knock off his hat from here?” A quick assessment of the distance and analysis of the stone was all he needed. He could make that happen. He stood, the lethargy of his movements not unnoticed by Madeline. At least he was moving now. One step back, a curl at the elbow. He shifted his body to face his prey side-on, wound up his arm in a display of theatrics and kicked out his leg, hurling the stone through the damp air. It arced, and the pair squinted to watch its descent. Seeing it would no doubt reach the man, Madeline shouted “Fore!”, her voice echoing in ripples into the night. Mr Businessman looked up at her call, and perfectly on time, the stone connected with the hat and sent it spinning into the dust.
Severin turned to her and held up three fingers. “Strike three”.
The air shuddered in the silence. It grew cold. Severin’s arm drew up at a 90 degree angle. He pointed East. Madeline tracked his direction and found the target. He couldn’t be missed: scruffy teen; balaclava; 99 flake. A Devil Dancer. A rage sparked in the pairs’ chests. It was the Devil Dancers that put the safety of everybody, themselves included, at risk. It was because of them it was so hard to hide at night. “Your turn.” Severin’s voice was husky in the darkness.
“Might need a run up for this one.” A sizeable rock was selected from the pile. The added weight would assist in carrying it the distance. As she retreated, Severin pulled his hood over his head to protect himself from both the chill, and identification. Devil Dancers were notorious snitches. Madeline ran on the spot then took three quick strides to the very edge of the roof. Her training had prepared her to brake effortlessly. Windmilling her arms in an impersonation of Stuart Broad, the stone was sent on its trajectory. In another life, she would have been a spin bowler. But this was where she had ended up. The anticipation was physical. Up it went, then down, down it came. A quiet, high pitched whistle emerged from Severin’s lips, comically lowering in pitch in time with the stone.
The destruction was greater than either had predicted. Countless hours of target practice had obviously paid off. The cone exploded. Fragments of wafer were propelled into the air and his face, and still the stone kept traveling. Even from here the pair could see the blood that now dripped from the Dancer’s hand. The jagged edge had ripped the skin open. The flake fell into the dirt.
The Dancer’s curses could be heard, even at this distance. It was dark now, but they could take no chances: Devil Dancer’s had even better eyesight than regular Killjoys. They had to. Time to move.
Back inside, the gloom seemed deeper. During the day, dust clouds made the room seem smaller, but the sun was still a comfort. At night, they were invisible, as if they too knew hiding was essential. Madeline felt bare, exposed. With night came a threat more harrowing than the dark. She thought of days gone by, days when laughter was on the agenda, weapons training was not, and the scars of battle did not mar her skin. The burns seemed newly aflame in her dreaming. Why did it have to come to this?
Cracking of metal against metal sounded. Severin was readying the armory: two nine-millimetre police grade pistols, silenced; one military sniper rifle, silenced; one hunting rifle with Schmidt and Bender scope attachment, silenced; hand grenades, military grade; blue flares; Kukri dagger, Gurkha Officer grade. This was simply Severin’s arsenal. In a place like Zone Three, in the dead of night, you couldn’t afford to be unarmed. That was the glory of their hideout. They were in Big Al’s Gun Store. The Draculoids never thought the inhabitants would ever be brave enough to arm themselves against them, much less use such an obvious building as a headquarters. But that was the glory of it. It was their unsafe haven. Here, they were untouchable.
In the distance, the sirens began, deep, moaning. The pairs’ eyes met in the shadows. Even the Devil Dancers would be running now. They were always running. Gunfire trilled. The raids had begun.
“Must be Tuesday,” Severin whispered. His voice was close to her. Within minutes the calm of Avenue 59 would be a battleground. In that instant, they were no longer Severin and Madeline. They were Eagle Eyes and The Vulture. War was upon them, and they were ready.