Going Off the Rails

Arriving late wasn’t so hard as it was for the boss when he saw me coming through the gate. Well, what excuse could I use?

I slept in or the bloody alarm hadn’t gone off. Perhaps I had a cardiac arrest while changing a tyre and the jack failed and landed on my foot. That was after running out of fuel.

A car load of women, they were a basketball team stopped and pushed my car off the road. That was a relief because my girlfriend was giving birth in the back seat while an angry mob of tree surgeons helped me deliver our first child. He screamed all the way to work and then the boss saw my new kid with his scrawny arms and that red welt of a birthmark covering half his face.

The boss was livid, “You took the morning off for this! Okay if it was a normal or even a cute looking kid but not for this monster. We’ll have to dock your pay and you can make up the hours by doing overtime.”

I worked and extra six hours that afternoon hauling logs up a steep hill until my arms were throbbing and numb and my shoulders cracked under the strain. I love my work sometimes but I’d never trade in sleeping time when I can lay on the lounge or paint my toenails any shade of green that I choose. Sometimes I get sparkly nail polish. The type young teenage girls like to use and instead of cotton-wool to spread my toes apart, I stick tissue there. It’s even more fun removing the stuff.

You can get high on the smell of acetone and when your head spins you can run fast and crash into a wall. Talk about going off the rails.

Colour blind

What are you, said the blind man to the woman.

Prussian Blue, she said.

I’ve never heard of that, what’s it like?

It’s a cool colour,

Cool!

What colour are your eyes, he said.

They’re green.

I guess you’re the jealous type, he said.

I know, she said, I wish I was different.

What are you, she said.

I’m brown, like milk Chocolate.

You’re so sweet, she said. And how about your eyes?

I don’t have eyes but if I did I think yellow would be good.

Why is that, she said.

Yellow is warm and friendly

And what colour would you like your eyes to be, he said

It doesn’t have a name, but something I can only imagine,

We could imagine it together, he said.

Welcome to the Revolution

We are in the midst of a cultural revolution. You could compare it to the sixties but minus the fun. I could accept at least some of the destruction if the soundtrack was entertaining. If self expression, art and music were part of it.

I have been trying to make sense of everything that’s going on and hoped to find some kind of analysis to help me understand but I haven’t found anything except for people complaining on Youtube and the usual focus on geopolitics and coronavirus issues. I guess it’s too soon.

I don’t hold much hope for an unbiased analysis. People just can’t help themselves from embedding personal bias into a story and truth won’t get you any likes on Twitter. These days it’s all about your personal perspective where everything is relative. Facts no longer matter and forget statistics, they depend on how you frame the questions. And try not to ask the wrong questions, it’ll no-doubt offend someone or at least the ‘shouty crowd’ on social media.

I can’t abide politics yet most of the media pundits want to add a bit of political spin. Journos work for an industry that relies on keeping their costumers entertained by telling them what they want to hear and most people simply want their beliefs to be confirmed in the echo chamber that is the media. I think a lot of these journos are more interested in getting followers on Twitter than printing the truth. It must be an American thing because here in the antipodes I actually don’t know anyone that admits to having a Twitter account.

People seem to be obsessed with politics and it depends on what side of the fence you sit or how crazy you are for change. Protests go global in a mater of days and the hive mentality of the millennial generation keeps everyone focused and that scares the hell out of politicians. And everything is political and if it isn’t we make it so.

This cultural revolution is more about getting stuff banned, burning things down and demonising people who think for themselves or ask inappropriate questions. Just remember to try to frame your questions so they don’t offend anyone or the trolls will come after you. I made the mistake of asking a question in a comments section recently and all I got for an answer was abuse. There are some words in the English language you just can’t use and some topics you can’t discuss. Ideas will get you banned.

Our leaders in their wisdom now censor stuff we (the shouty crowd) don’t agree with while our cultural mores are attacked as inappropriate for the new enlightened age. We now pretend history didn’t happen while at the same time telling everyone how bad it was. If you don’t toe the line you’ll get cancelled. Though I still haven’t managed to get my head around cancel culture..

Our ancestors could be assholes of course and you’d have to wonder if they knew better or simply didn’t realise how bad they were being. Good thing they didn’t have TV and got around to doing it or we wouldn’t be here to complain about them.

We aren’t all baying for change of course. Some of us have enough going on in our personal lives and have little time to change the world or want to for that matter. But I think we need to. The planet needs us to wake up before it’s too late and that time is now. I just wonder what the world will be like when it’s over.

Murder wasn’t far away

The best thing about the murder was the blood flowing around her head like a halo over the pavement. She had the face of an angel smiling and it was a beautiful corpse.

At the moment of dying she saw how loved she had been and the futility of her disappointments. She was unable to embrace the truth of it as she plummeted towards the pavement. There simply wasn’t time. She was going to crash and that was all she had left. It was too late for regret as she watched, in slow motion, the concrete getting closer. 

The reflections in her blood showed the faces circling. The people who watched weren’t shocked by the murder, but  by the body laying there, in public. It didn’t belong on their street but somewhere else, unseen or on another street, mentioned in a paper and gossiped about.

What would you think in those seconds if you knew you were about to die? As the seconds stretched and time slowed giving you time to reflect on your life in the blink of an eye. 

Confessions of a Phone Junkie

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The tyranny of the phone keeps me restrained with all the stuff I think I need. Like the diary, social media, GPS, the internet, an app for everything. It’s like having the perfect friend that takes care of my every need. How can I work or travel or stay in touch without it and it won’t let me go without a fight. It just keeps promising more apps, more games, more stuff to keep me hooked. As if it took over a small part of my brain without asking by promising me the world.

The phone dealers have the perfect product better than booze or crack or dope or TV and they sell it to children and adults alike. It links us to the world better than the meagre senses I was born with. I got a taste for one back before the smart phones. Just a simple text mind you and it felt good to send that text because I could send a message without having a conversion, then came the smart phones and then I got a few likes on my social media and that felt good. Jobs promised everything and I got one, thinking I owned the phone but it owns me now and I’m completely hooked like everyone else. I think it might be time to let go or at least take a break every now and then. It might be the healthy thing to do. What could go wrong?

I left mine behind today when I walked to the shops to check the mail and it felt like I was leaving a part of myself behind. I was worried something disastrous would happen if I didn’t take it along. The separation anxiety was real. I was like a junkie trying to kick the habit and thinking of excuses for another fix. ‘One little taste won’t hurt.’ I imagined how bad life would be without it.

But I didn’t give in and left for the shops and as I walked along I felt a longing to have it with me. I felt like I wasn’t fully dressed or I’d forgotten to wear pants or something. I wondered who I’d miss, who I could have called. I was anxious that I would miss something. That life for that brief time wouldn’t be as good. I kept going and in no time I had forgotten about it sitting at home on the dresser and the withdrawals didn’t last long as I began to focus on the street and the trees and the people around me.

I’d left it behind despite the anxiety, despite the excuses and all the reasons to take it along. I’d taken those first few steps on my own. I saw others with theirs crossing the street but they didn’t see me. Looking into their screens, oblivious to the traffic and everyone else. It felt good. There was no weight in my pocket, no concern for social media, for that brief time I was free. Disconnected with the phone but connected with my surroundings.

I’m a phone addict of course, it has me hooked and going cold turkey could be unbearable. Right? How would I cope? My social life would be worse that during a covid lockdown. I’d be an outcast, a dunce. The phone stays with me night and day. It sits at my bedside waiting for me to pick it up in the morning. It reminds me when to sleep and when to wake up.

What would happen if I got rid of it? Would my wife leave me? Would my friends give up on me? Would I get fired. Would the sky fall? Perhaps it would all come crashing down?

Yet we give these to kids.

 

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.