Monday, 24 March 2014

Flash fictions in TANK

I recently did a collaboration with the ridiculously talented Magda Boreysza.

First, she sent me this picture of a horse:



And, based on the picture, I wrote this:


White Horse

You have been inside too long. The room closes around you with every exhale, layers of your self coating the walls like breath in an igloo. The floor is dotted with spent matches. Party decorations loll at your feet, embarrassed after the fact.

If you stay here much longer, you will form your own private coffin from your own frozen breath. So you leave.

You step outside, and the city opens up like a rare jungle flower. Place one trembling leg inside and let the pollen dust your thighs. In the city, you are suddenly a wild pony with hooves built for the night.

So you start to run.

It is a Tuesday and the roads glitter with broken bottles like mock galaxies demonstrating the foolishness of time. You hurdle entire universes with one well-placed leap. You run further and faster than any creature has a right to. You run, crafted of need and knuckles and bone.

In the city, you are not running from predators or villains or anything with teeth. The only thing behind you is your own quiet room with your own quiet mind, snug and swaddled. And yet, no beast could pursue you faster. You run on. 

Past neon shopfronts and crooked bus stops and lurching playground swings. Past gates and gutters. Past empty phone booths that have all run out of calls.

Finally, you reach the riverfront, which even your legs cannot leap. You stand, hands on hips, panting, while the river rushes by carrying all the sky’s stories from the mountains to the sea. You stand, panting.

In the frosty night, your breath is a white dove testing the buoyancy of air. It leaves your lips, beats its wings twice, and takes off into the night.


Postcard from the Party

Postcard from the Party

You have to be invited, and there’s nothing
you can do to be asked. Headlines and bloodlines
don’t help. It’s a long way from home but I’m
here, the view much better than I’m used to.
How did this happen? Dumb but good luck,
right place and time, the planets aligned.
No contract, no deadline, no risk. And what
did I do to deserve this? Slept with all
the wrong people, gambled too much on friends
of friends with light bulbs over their heads.
Wrote every day no matter what.

– Wyn Cooper

Monday, 17 March 2014

Cabaret

Maybe this time I'll be lucky. So says Sally Bowles. Two years in Berlin today and I am in a penthouse where Cabaret plays with all the scratches. I put my legs up in the air. I drink Highland Park whisky. Everybody loves a winner. All the odds are in my favour. Something's bound to begin. It's going to happen. Maybe this time. Maybe this I'll win.

I believe in everything. I got lucky. I need nothing more or less than the clack of fingers on a keyboard, on a typewriter; all I need is the scratch of a nib. Did you ever think it would end up like this? All of the patterns on the floor. All of the music. Opportunities spring up like the first signs of sunflowers. The best is the moment where the seeds you have sewn in the earth are shrugging the top layer off like it was so many past decisions. I stand in my kitchen looking at soil being tossed into the air by sullen spring shoots, and I think that all your decisions are the right ones. Hey Jane, you fell into something lucky.

Luck and gack and fuck: all words in your throat. Fuck is the one that you felt when everything fell apart like all the hailstones on top of your intentions. Gack is the things that you just cleared from the clogs around your taps. Luck is the one you promised yourself no matter what the other ones said, no matter that the world looking upon you with heavy eyebrows and a penchant for the scowl.

Doesn't it feel great that you were right? Even when your freezer is leaking like a dog tongue on the kitchen ground. Even when your mailbox is full of demands like sulfur and brimstone. Even when you wake up with the tap gack all around and inside your throat.

If you happen to be rich and you feel like a night's entertainment, you can pay for a gay escapade.
If you happen to be poor and you feel like a night's entertainment, you can get whatever you want through wet tongues and intention. Don't believe me? Don't believe me. I make all of the promises and nine tenths of the curled hair. I make seven eights of the red lips. I will bring you something, that is what I promise, when you are weak and waiting.

There is something in these in these streets that I have felt nowhere else, or perhaps only in the corners of New York. There is something that comes alive and makes me feel like a creature who is so much more than skin. I shrugged off everything that the British had to offer and I have never missed it for a moment, except for those people who are still there and ripe like mangoes dribbling down my chin.

They all smoke and drink gin and I would hold all of their hands. I would run up and down their arpeggios; I would point my toes on the glockenspeils they craft as staircases all the way to their bedroom doors.

All we ask is ein bisschen verstanden
. That's it. I am writing along to Cabaret like you might sing along to all of the songs people around you once snagged. Let me tell you: I got lucky. Tomorrow belongs to me.

Queer stories at Another Country

Oh look, this is what I am doing tomorrow.

There will be food. I will read stories about mermaids and cunts and hearts like pyjama forts. A boy I like a whole lot will be playing music I like a whole lot. I already invited all the prettiest queers I know.

Join us?

x

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Crossroads

I showed up in the city without a penny to my name and I thought I would make my way trading in hieroglyphics and porcupine quills. I set up a small stall at the dusty crossroads; I took out my crochet hook and darned myself a sign. It had taken a long walk to get here and already I was coughing up flowers: splotches of petunias and small orange roses. The ground beneath my feet was beginning to resemble the cemetry beds of freshly buried Catholics and I hocked up a string of pansies, promising myself I'd quit.

The crossroads were neither in the the city nor out of the city. They were the crook of an elbow where dust and vagrants gathered, where the hurdy-gurdy man serenaded the gypsy queen. Strings of necklaces were forever clanking and clattering, hems rose and fell like theatre curtains. The field mouse audience hollered, convinced by what lay beneath.

What lay beneath? What could you find if you picked and prised at this corner of the crossroads? Where the east met the north there was a loose thread, a place to be tugged and twisted. If you took that loose thread between two wayward fingers and gave a hefty yank, what precious ruby treasure would you find? 

You would find a hot wet gash in the earth, quivering with meat and promises. You would find tyre tracks and crumbs of asphalt, waiting for a fifties future. The crossroads were before time and against time, and if you were willing to whip the crossroads off the surface like a tablecloth, preying the glasses would balance, then you'd better have opened your throat in time for slick new meat.

I was not willing: the crossroads were my home. At least, the crossroads were a new set of strings from which I hoped to craft a tune. I sold a chipped stone eagle to a man with three fingers on his right hand, telling him that all of the mistresses he'd ever waved goodbye to were bound to come back to him, soon. I sold a long, curved quill to a green-eyed scribe, telling him his stories were the thick red threads of Irish looms. When I looked at him, I heard them weft and warp and weave. When I turned my back, I heard snakes flickering their tongues.

I did not become rich at the crossroads; I never found my treasure trove candy. I did not dig deep and hit my shovel on the chest. I learned to bitch and barter and filled my pockets thick with pomegranate seeds, promising if I ever got out of this place, I'd make sure I could find a way back. The tips of my fingers were stained magenta: I had been digging in my pockets. I had been crushing seeds between the tips. I had wanted to look at my fingers and see wet meat, while my eyes burned for the moon.

Nothing in this story ties up like a neat bow on an expensive present. Nothing seals shut like lips. The moral of the crossroads is that every place you think is just the in-between, the half-house, the not-quite-there is already somewhere and seeped in its past. The moral is that no amount of running can take you away because your feet are hooked to the ground the way all of us are hooked to stories, and without the words to weft a real live life, all we are is the meat beneath the soil.

If I could take you to the crossroads, I cannot guarantee you'd even notice. There are plenty of places where the east meets the west; there are plenty of points where the surface of the earth is looser and less settled. If you know how to pick at hangnails, you could discover how to pick at the edge. Let's take a long walk to silent city, letting our hems swish and swashbuckle on the floor. Before we get where we're going, let's sit and rest a while. Let's be the dirt beneath our own feet.