calling the ghosts up

I remember her as pot-pourri. She is one of those dolls with the knitted dresses they sit atop the toilet rolls. She is apple-scented shampoo. He is mintoes – those mint sweets with chocolate centres, and the smell of garlic tablet farts. I have to catalogue them somehow, and sometimes doing it by name or by crimes committed against me or favours done for me seems unfair.

Conjuring up ghosts is like blowing smoke rings held inside from the moment they disappeared behind the curtain at the crematorium. Yeah, and sometimes she is a heart-attack; he’s an embolism; she’s bowel cancer; and he is brain tumour.

Depending on whether the memory resurrects itself through the sense of smell or some morbid hospital shadow of memory, they come to me as the figures they were before the illness, or the decimated remainders they became. One I like – the other is less pleasant.

I like photographs. I like kid’s drawings – presents for grown-ups that represent both a child’s state of mind at the time and an insight into what he perceived as necessary to communicate something to an adult. Innocence can peel away the latterly achieved carapace forged from layer of disappointment which dull the patina you should have.

i dream of a perfume that captures a life; a taste that lingers on the tongue and plays a symphony upon the palate. to imagine that i am crafting something for a deafblind person with whom there is no other form of communication than the olifactory sense. i wish to craft a joycean engine from which my own dublin can be reconstructed. each poem, each story, each book is a bottle of perfume.

being deep

do you remember starting out with some illness that you apparently had? they gave it to you and you took it as a defining feature of your life because it added depth to what you thought, at the time, was a facile personality.

you’re coughing up your profundity and spitting it in the sink while i am sat there in the background wondering why you can’t just set the germs free from the cage of your excuse? i don’t like to build my palace out of half-glimpsed shadows and undelivered promises, but you tell me that all we have is scrapbooks.

when we moved into this place there were ants carrying the sweetness of the previous occupants away. the fingerprints were still fresh on the formica; an old unemptied kettle and a novelty message on a mug that was not part of our conversation. we called it cleaning up and moving in – unpacking our reality and history from the boxes we had managed to sort it into. the post-it notes looked like diagnoses; fridge magnet haikus barely noticed. if we were to sit there and pick significance out of the alphabet soup how long would it take before we found something we could believe in or argue about?

i don’t like to see you unwell because it is all so unnecessary – an affectation you pick up as a useful prop to stir up the air when you think it has staled from inactivity. the way you come out of all these illnesses is you forget that you need to perform certain actions to make them real; like those guys who forget which leg they chose to be hurt. you’ll maybe stumble a little bit as you realise you’ve been caught out – that everyone, even you, knows there is nothing really wrong with you. but when you are feeling good and there is nothing holding the performance in place it is kind of hard not to smile at how daft you’re being.

you never needed illness to make you profound – like a lot of people when you start treading that invalid path you are scuffing your shoes on dropped cliches and tying your tongue in knots to explain away the flaws in your facade. when you are happy and you are really looking at the things which are before you, it’s easy for you to say something and watch as resonates with those who are listening to you. they don’t have to excuse away the passive agressive way you are communicating with them – they can just accept what was uttered for what it is: truth.

sleepy head

the promise of sleep sits there like a small impossibly dense of bundle of barb wire possibility which he rubs against in the thinking – the sensation is not pleasant and he balks at it.

the thin skein of patience by which he is tethered to his politeness is being sawed at by the held off future where sleep is already unpacked and transmuted from an angular torment to a flat plane of silken comfort.

coffee interjects as an aroma on a scrabbling sensory switchboard which is reaching for answers. he pushes it away. pancakes are coming and he knows that when he eats them some of his good mood will be restored and the sensitivity to everything he is now displaying will forget itself.

he touches smooth skin, runs his fingers through soft hair – and in the glissade of sensual poetry that is the body of his wife he eases away from his antagonistic perspective and opens like a blooming flower into the radiance of the idea of a new day.


the lightly salted caul didn’t taste too bad – the side-dish of sauteed pickled punks smelt pungent, but he was sure it would be great. the monkey brains drinking establishment was a wonderful discovery, one he hardly credited with being true some days – was it that he was always drunk when he sat down to eat in here?
when sober he was sure he wouldn’t be able to tell anyone how to reach this place – not that he really wanted to share it with anyone. he was glad that he was rarely sober and seemed to be possessed of a rather formidable context dependent memory.
just under the surface of the drink swam the bugbears he had not managed to drown yet – they gathered to themselves all the moments of insecurity he suffered, and they grew bigger and as they increased in size they became hungrier.
he was trying to paint in the hours he was awake but this diversionary expedition to get food was a necessary stepping stone to productivity. when the hunger ravaged him he could hardly string together a thought – he became angry and if he had his knife to hand he might go on prolonged bouts of slashing at his canvases. last week, the alcohol level in his blood particularly high, he had cut, pissed on, and set alight to five works which his dealer had been telling him were the best things he had done in an age – now all that existed of them were the prints of the photographs always taken as a precaution now. he had almost died trying to extinguish the flames but he had not heeded a single warning from any of the many opinionated bastards who it was his misfortune to meet that day.
he started upon the pickled punks and was surprised at how they just came apart with no effort, how they melted on the tongue – they tasted great; he would have to leave a good tip for both the waiter and the chef.
as he finished, paid, and stepped out on the street, the sky gave up brooding and let loose with fury. for a moment, for a small moment, he felt blessed by the call – felt able to dance between the raindrops … and then he sank back down into himself. misery was the best fuel for his brooding nightmare landscapes, for his umbral portraits, for his geometric shatter of abstraction. he sighed, he smiled, he shrugged, he reached his studio’s front door and went inside.

mr precedent

‘so why was this one picked?’
‘well, he can read without stumbling,’
‘ah, yeah, i remember the last one.’
‘yeah, he started a war by means of dyslexia …’
‘with a great big dollop of stupid too.’
‘well, that goes without saying, doesn’t it?’
‘i suppose. i do have to say though, this one’s not very good looking.’
‘no, he’s fucking ugly, but it has exactly the same effect – they spend more than half their time pondering his scary face instead of questioning what he’s saying. he turns them all into rubberneckers.’
‘what about his mother? i heard she’s a problem.’
‘oh, you mean the feminist intellectual who likes to mouth off about how her dumbass of a son shouldn’t be in control of a plastic spoon let alone the country?’
‘not a problem.’
‘how so?’
‘we dug up some interesting dirt on her.’
‘what? sexual perversion? drug history?’
‘yep, worse.’
‘what could be worse?’
‘ah …’
‘yep, best way to hang a liberal – hoisting them by their own petard.’
‘so, i heard there was a big plan to shoot this one?’
‘yeah, it’s the biggest event in a long time – we have everything in place to ramp up his public profile as a do-gooder (there are lots of pet perverts that the public wants to see helped at the moment) and once he is seen as almost saintly then – BANG, we blow out the back of his skull, and have a changing of the guard.’
‘you have someone in mind?’
‘oh, of course – this one is going to be hardline. the way we’ve been juggling it through the years is – we have a liberal president who gets them all happy and sells them a lifestyle which includes all these so-called luxury items, then we have a hardline ball-buster who comes in and uses all the backdoors in those luxury items to push greater control on the populace.’
‘i’m not sure i qquite get that.’
‘oh, ok – well, during this presidency we’re getting everyone interested in having their skulls embedded with RFID tags because its the easiest way to control their media devices – so they grab it all up like elective surgery. then president b comes in and using the electronic backdoors which we require to be fitted as standard in these chips he increases surveillance; turns every fucker into a camera. we call it operation deep penetration – we go live and have the whole country in the bag; there isn’t a thing we won’t know.’
‘impressive, eh?’
‘so what was he saying?’
‘who cares? you think i listen to that shit?’

winged things

snow angels, paper angels – he was obsessed with them. he remembered kaleidoscopic visions in the butterfly garden where peacocks, and red admirals and cabbage whites swirled around him and his buddleia halo of purple.
but the snow angels melted away. yellow snow of dog’s piss baptised disappointment and footsteps at the edge of the white-hemmed path which had been dug clear.
the paper angels were screwed into a ball in the trash can, sprinkled with glitter from the disposed of xmas cards his mother didn’t want. he had tired of paper aeroplanes but there was something magic in paper angels – the way the emerged from a few cuts; but no one in his household shared the fascination.
the butterfly garden was gone as well – all the plants which drew those brightly coloured insects in uprooted and replaced with easy to maintain gravel.
watching these things he was given to wonder whether for something to be beautiful it must also have built into it a fleetingness. it saddened him. he poured the cream into his coffee and watched the spiral become a cloud that bubbled through and changed the liquid. how long did the change take to occur? this glass cup held now plain as brown coffee, but for a second it the beautiful poetry of fluid dynamics. he smiled – he decided he didn’t mind if it did not exist for long as long as it existed.


people take some digesting. perhaps this shocking diorama puts the shit down purposely though some days perusing this saddens deeply. putting the shotgun down peter tutted, sighed, despaired. promise them something different please; take suggestions down.
putting the sugary donut partway towards sarah, dusting powdery traces, something died. peter told sarah ‘don’t’. perplexed to see despair pulsing through, she dithered. ‘peter?’. telling she didn’t pick the sugary donut; perhaps this signalled destruction.
peter took some delight pushing the sacred dialectic. picking the same day peter’s thoroughly sadistic dad picked to shoot down people – that seemed destined. peter took shots, dove. people tried shooting, dodged. peter took sarah down. people that should die. people that shunned deity. point the shotgun, decide. peter took some diet pepsi, tremored, shook, decided. peter’s trigger suddenly depressed.