The Broken Mirror

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In the cracks and shards of the mirror are broken promises and forgotten dreams, false memories and the missing pages of an unfinished book,

the frightened child hiding under a bed from the tyranny of shame and the blame and the strap,

the lunatic father who never came home, who tells you to confront your enemies as he beats the shit out of you, who tells you to harden up as he crushes you like a flower,

the mother who refuses to hold your hand, who loves only herself, who lives with regret and punishes you for not being perfect,

the child-parent who wants to be your friend but makes an enemy, the misfits of generations staring back and recognising one of their own, the devoted son who feels only guilt,

the friend who loves you and the one who became nothing, the friend who ghosted you and the one who forgave you, the joker, the bully, the fool,

the sitter who got stoned and taught you to lie and showed you sex and the one who can never be named,

the lover, lost in the beauty of a love with their senses on fire, the unforgotten desire, the great-love who betrayed you,

the youth with the perfect life trying to change the world, fighting for truth in a bar,

the actor with the wisdom of the ages in a b-grade film and getting an Oscar for playing God, the one who takes a bullet and tells you that war is entertainment and that pain isn’t real,

the sister who took off the first chance she got, the brother you fought for the biggest portion, the monster who kept you awake in the night,

the teacher who bullied you and the one who loved you too much, the whore who would do anything for the rent,

the slob who picks his nose and doesn’t wipe, the boss who fired you, the bully who is you,

the broken mirror.

Illicit Love

Same but sideways

I put on my best shirt quietly and studied the marks on her translucent skin from the underwear and the crush of the sheets. A wisp of brown hair stuck to her lip and lifted with each breath. A shiny camisole lay dormant on an old backless chair beside the mattress. Her drunken flung shoes were somewhere. She struck softly at an assailant in a dream and moaned her husband’s name.

I wanted her for a while. She didn’t want an affair and I agreed but I never imagined she would be so lovely. A trite memory told me that the day was breaking soon.  I wanted to hold her once more but not wake her but lust got in the way and she stirred, tussled and yawning and reached out. 

‘You look like you’re going somewhere. Why don’t you stay?’ she said.

‘You’r twisting my arm but I need to work.’

Outside, the only light came from a single street lamp flickering insanely. A woman in a short skirt stood there, smoking. She rubbed her bare thighs with a free hand to keep warm and when she saw me looking, she waved as she got into a car.

A red neon sign in a window illuminated the dew like blood on the pavement. A newspaper blew along dancing in the light-show. and as far as I knew it was only me now watching the small silent things. Rejoicing in the clarity of my life, I guessed she didn’t love the guy.

Noir

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I love the noir, the dark city streets. A rat foraging. A possum eating fresh leaf tips from a rosewood seedling out back in the night garden where spiders haunt dark spaces, crawling over walls and spinning webs of truth, unseen.

A long alley, headlights at the end glaring setting your wispy hair on halo fire. Dark puddles reflecting pale light and bronze human statues smoking, waiting for buses and in cars, steaming breath. The smell of diesel. Homeless pile of rags in a corner moves, showing fact of life in a lonely place, uncaring and wanting. Desire is dying lonely and wicked.

Who will miss you? Your mother, ex, the lover who’s heart you broke when you left, leaving behind injustice and loneliness like dust and leaves in a swirl. Your lover’s head filled with fantasy and denial, sniffing back tears. Sleepless nights wandering about the dark streets, the smell of sewer on the edge of everywhere. Get on the bus, lift your bag and go on,  get out of here.

His Days

black and white rainy portrait canonHe woke again in a panic as if he was being attacked but it wasn’t a nightmare that woke him in the cold darkness. It was a memory that pulled him out of sleep. A memory that lurked below the surface and a day never went by that it didn’t show.

He stood naked in the cold and wiped a circle in the mist on the window and peered at the street. It was dark but for the streetlights and a hint of ultramarine in the sky with the stars beginning to fade. He could hear the hum of distant traffic, of people going to work so he knew the sun would soon rise.

He went to the bathroom and held himself steady against the wall while he peed. He was drowsy but it was too early for coffee and his work day was hours away. He wanted to return to bed but he knew that he would not sleep and that he would be tired during the day.

He dressed in thick socks and pants and a heavy dressing gown and went out and lit a smoke. He watched a man walking briskly along the street, with his hands tucked into his pockets and a bag slung over a shoulder. He heard the screech of a train braking and the crunch of tyres turning on gravel. He heard the footfalls of someone running and the low rumble of a car warming up under the building. He listened to the magpies calling and greeting the morning.

If only he could live in the moment like the birds, he thought and live each day as it came or plan for the future but the past clung to him like a worn shirt. Each day was an extension of the last and every day before that going back to the time when he had made the big mistake.

He had betrayed the one he loved and he hadn’t dealt with it and the guilt and remorse held him firmly in the past. He prayed that he would wake one day to find that it had never happened. If only he could forget but as memories faded, the remorse had not. It had grown stronger like a tumour. Unnoticed at first until it took hold and in time had become a part of the small movements of his days.

He returned to his bed but sleep eluded him as it always did. So he put on the coffee as he always did and dressed.

For the Greater Good

black birds on tomb stonesWhy do we save lives? Why do we care?

We care because it makes us feel good or we empathise, it could be us failing to breath in a hospital bed. Dying of malaria or the coronavirus or cancer. It could someone we love, our family or friend. Because it would be inhumane not to care, right?

Why do we care so much about the countless lives at risk of disease or famine in Africa or the Middle East on the one hand and take lives in war when it suits us. It’s for the greater good but is it? Who are we to decide who lives or dies?

The worlds population is increasing at an exponential rate. Soon there won’t be any wild spaces left because there won’t be enough room. Who suffers? Not just the plants and animals but we do. Imagine living in a world were there are no trees. No wild animals. It could be the future. Who can tell? But saving lives matters. Right! As long as it’s human lives. Why not let people die? Why do we have to cure every decease. Isn’t providing a future world with wild and green spaces, clean oceans, with diverse animal species and clean air, a world worth living in, also for the greater good?

Imagine a child in a future school looking at pictures of lions and zebras and elephants and elks or trees. All extinct. That’s not the greater good. That sucks. But we are getting there fast. According to an article in National Geographic by Christine Dell’Amore, published in 2013, there were 20000 species near extinction at that time and that was seven years ago. And it’s only getting worse. Those extinction rebellion protestors may look like fools gluing themselves to the ground and blocking traffic but aren’t we the fools for ignoring them?

Species become extinct mostly due to loss of habitat. Basically because of us. So why are we so desperate to save every human life from famine, war or disease? It could be said that disease is natures way of striking a balance. Why not let nature take care of the planet for a change.

It’s our human nature to fight each other, but now we have nukes so no-one wants to risk it so we haven’t had a world-war for seventy five years now and the last major pandemic before the coronavirus was in 1919. Yet we are happy to risk the lives of our youth by sending them to fight in other wars for political or economic gain. They serve their country and die for the greater good, apparently. Wouldn’t it be valid to let people die for the greater good of the planet. For the future of our children and theirs.

Pollution levels across they globe are the lowest they have been for years. Nature is fighting back. But only because we are in lockdown and nature has some breathing space. So why not save the planet by letting people die.

Why save human lives at the expense of all others. What makes us so important? What about the greater good.

Four Walls and a TV

silhouette of a man in window

For the man with no friends his isolation is complete. How did he get here? Was it a moment of madness or did this happen over time? Was he was too caught up with things to notice?

It wasn’ t his fault. His friends disappeared when he was too busy to make an effort.  He was blamed and he wasn’t ready for the desertions. He waits for the day when he will be free because the isolation is bad for the man and desperation sets in. He knows that when he is free, he will be outside but still alone yet even strangers passing by are better than none.

When he worked his job came first and the guys at the office were good guys. They had a few laughs but in the end the joke was on him. If only he had a real friend.

Depressed. He’s losing hope. Finding it hard to breath. His panic rising. Hope dying. Lying to himself. Worrying. Can’t cope. Can’t defend himself. Will there be a tomorrow? When will he get out? Who will help him? Who will help him? Who will help him?

Depression doesn’t make sense to the man and it doesn’t go away. Like an unwelcome guest who takes over his space and won’t leave. Like a dark pit that he can’t climb out of. He wants to stop breathing. No-one matters. Nothing matters. His isolation is complete because no-one can reach him. He looks out to the park and all he sees is the tree. He just needs is a rope and it’s all over. He needs to get it done because the burden of his life is heavy,

Now there’s a virus going around and all that he has are four walls and a TV.

The Grey Ghosts

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The grey ghosts shuffle, aimless, scared and listless. Unable to decide and complaining to the few who still listen.

They move without purpose of what or where or how to be yet holding fast onto the shreds of dignity for without it they will fall.

Out of step with those who walk briskly and outcast by the others. They slouch with their grey heads staring without focus into the middle distance. From park benches.

Or in the warm loneliness of home they binge on the blue TV light with all the experience in the world yet afraid to wake tomorrow for yet another useless day.

Left behind by the rest and dressed with a vague expression of longing and waiting … to be old.