Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A Grey Death

Even the half decent ones are being laid to rest. I read The Wasp Factory half-drunk by candlelight until it gave me nightmares. It was a strange period for me. When my eyes grew tired of reading someone else's words, I would drag out my old Remington, load it with paper, fiddle with the ribbon and start feverishly pounding at the keys in hope that I could get some words down of my own. Hoping to form sentences and paragraphs that would eventually mount up to some kind of story, something meaningful. It never really went well and the anguish of that would often give me nightmares too. I'd give up pretty quickly and would see it as a good time to sleep. To crawl between the sheets and try to get some kind of rest before my sub-conscious would start to haunt me. I got nightmares every night. Pretty bad ones that would make we wake up, bolt upright, sometimes shouting, sometimes screaming, but always sweating. There’d be so much my sheets and pillows would be soaked through. The damp made it hard to fall back to sleep, but that didn't bother me too much. I was never sure I wanted to face the terrors again, but I knew I needed the rest. I'd take a long drink of stale, four day old water from my bedside table, lay back, and hope that morning would come soon.

The dreams never seemed so bad in the daylight. Come morning, I didn't want to leave the comfort of my bed. The beckoning call of porcelain was my only motive to ever move. If I was lucky it was just to piss or shit, but in those days it seemed mostly that I needed to vomit. To then just lay there on the floor, counting the tiles and wondering what was wrong with me and what I would need to do to remove the taste of old beer from my mouth and the burn from my throat. I'd slip sluggishly down the stairs and try to justify to myself that it was okay to line my coffee with bourbon just to take the edge off the day. I knew food was the sensible choice but there was rarely ever anything in my fridge that I fancied. I tried frying eggs, but ultimately I would end up scraping the contents of the frying pan straight in to the bin, overwhelmed with disappointment and a lack of appetite. I fantasised of escaping. Getting out and embracing the world away from the confines of myself.

Outside was grey. It was autumn, when the better poets were telling me the world was alive and on fire. Multiple tones of reds, golds and browns could be seen everywhere, but all I could see was a grey death. The sky was grey. The ground was grey. The buildings were grey. What little wildlife around was dying or hiding. I was told autumn was beautiful, but no amount of beauty could save the world from the passing of time and the arrival of a new season. Death was everywhere. I was better off inside and so there I stayed, not wanting to leave the kitchen.

On one occasion, while hunting down the spatula for my daily futile attempt at cooking breakfast, I came upon a carving knife that I never used. I pulled it from the drawer and held it up to admire its shimmering power. A killing machine designed to tear flesh apart, to pull meat from bones. I then imagined sinking its sharp point into my own skin and tearing out the veins. I wondered if I had the grit and determination to go through with such an act. The worst thing that could happen would be that it would hurt - a lot - but that it would soon be over. Then there would be nothing and nothing else would matter. I had always lacked courage, and flirting with this element of danger ignited something inside of me. I stared longingly into the blade, catching my own reflection. My eyes were wide and dark, my cheeks hollow. My hair was once thick and full of life, was now thin, limp and greasy. I questioned what I had become. I immediately grew tired of all the self-involved bullshit and let the knife slip from my fingers. The clang of metal on tile echoed through the kitchen and through my head. I needed to get laid. Above all, I really needed a steak and just to write something decent.

Friday, 7 June 2013

More of Everything in Front of You

With summer rays burning hot on my skin, the metal of the bench seat was surprisingly cool. It was the first bench I came to and by far the best. Sat atop a hill I became a king of this world. The grass rolled steeply down, thick and richly green, until it finally flattened out to where kids were running around, kicking a ball back and forth, overlooked by tree tops, which soon turned into the roofs of people's homes with chimney stacks exhaling plummets of smoke as if they were on a lunch break. What sort of maniac would light a fire on a day like today, I could not tell, but the smoke rose and disappeared into the eternal blue sky. It was a crisp, flawless summer sky that went up and on and around until it eventually ended up behind you. You could easily ruin your neck trying to take the whole thing in.

Right here from my recreational crow's nest I could see everything there was to see and nothing at all. The wildlife that lived in the shadow of the trees was hidden from me. The ants and worms crawling between the blades of grass were hidden from me. The walls of houses concealed daytime bums, resting night shift workers, plumbers, housewives and audacious thieves. Even the greatest of stars, planets and entire solar systems were hidden beneath a thin veil of blue. The whole world was alive and it was in existence right before my eyes. I leant back on the bench and let the sun beat hard and hot against my face.

It felt like a good time to get lost and so I reached for my book. It was a collection of poems by some writer I had never heard of before but I guessed by his name he was probably of central European descent. I flicked through the pages and read a passage aloud to myself.

“His arms were ink-stained displays of 3a.m. madness,
cast out with the world moving beneath yr feet.
That time of night when your eyes are opened
to see more of everything that is already in front of you.
A moment immortalised in patterns on skin
In red, black & blue.”

I held the book lightly in my hands and started to wonder. I had picked this book up from some second hand store in town. It was the kind that had dust everywhere and the aroma of vanilla hanging in the air. I thought about all the people who had held this book before me. I studied it in my hands. The spine was creased but only half-way. It had never been finished. Was it so bad that nobody could stomach it to the end? Would I be the first to read its final pages? Perhaps I was only the second owner of the book. In my head I imagined the book being deposited at the store by a broken hearted widow, throwing out the last words her husband ever read. A great pain stuck in my chest as I gripped the book a little tighter. The possibilities were endless. I shifted uncomfortably on the bench knowing that hundreds had sat here before, each with their own thoughts and each with their own visions. I wondered about the other grand conversations and views absorbed before me from this very spot. My brain was becoming curious, so there was no chance of me being able to get any reading done. I took the old, dog-eared five dollar bill I used as a bookmark and slid it between the pages to guard my spot. My mind was ready to wander and the potential of that crumpled five dollar bill soon fascinated me. I leant back on the bench, closed my eyes and let my brain run. My feet needed the rest.