6 words: Prison edition

A prisoner orders Chinese for his last meal, his fortune cookies gives him these pearls of wisdom:

Don’t look back, life is short

They know you didn’t do it

Your future will take shocking turns

All your troubles will end soon.

See you on the flip side.

Suprise reunion with an old friend.

And now a little less

Better luck next time.

Cobweb whiskers

The cat walks past, cobwebs in her whiskers

clearing up the cardboard boxes

I thumb through picture books and socks

I listen close and hear laughter,

from a picture of my sister, who I take after

I fold it away, reach past a button-box,

I remember, every outfit, our stilted talks

so little was said, my sister’s sick bed

her hands as cold as mine

Back for a swim

It’s the water that stops you from drowning. Endlessly echoing the way you move, pulling at you, pushing you.

Its better than running, you don’t have to know where you’re going, you go from one end of the pool to another. It’ll even carry you- look up or under the water, it distorts both. Angry, lost or motionless, it’ll sway with you. I think back, piecing it together, floating, drifting.

Every stroke takes you further away, every paddle pushes you further. Maybe you’re getting there, maybe you aren’t. I think about things, people. The analogy of a womb comes to mind but its forced, ridiculous. I want to move, not stay asleep.

At least I’m not drowning.

The place I wanted

It was the kind of day that makes a spider’s web flash golden in the sunlight. When I think back I remember the musk and stink around the houses, along with the scampering, dressing and dashing off to college.

A free afternoon is a thing of beauty, with the creaking and reluctant windows gone you could peer right up. They could build around you but not above you. While I praised the logic of the chaotic room, rented while the old house decayed, she assured me I should try living there.

Time went by quick stride the three legged bed ride, the sky open, vast, deep, lavender. We should be afraid, floating in the air. I am. I wish I could hang all night, climb the roofs. Climb up with a blanket.

“You like the house or you like me?”

A year later. I tell them I wish I lived there.

When L laughs her shoulders shake. I’ve invited M & K. She’s in bed with P but I’m the main attraction. They kiss, juicily. She grabs P’s squirming hand.

I’m trying to recognize the song while I rant about something I can’t remember anymore. I can’t do both. I can’t do either. I put a hand to my head and forget both. I open my mouth and I wonder what’s wrong. It was a second. Must have looked like surprise. K sees.

“A penny for your…”

I raise a hand. I’ll take it elsewhere: my problem.

I didn’t want to see the house half empty, dishes packed, mats rolled up. Her house – so unlike mine. I remember it’s dim and the wall a strange damp. I am not facing the window, I look into my shadow and see others around it. One a shepherdess. I’m not like these sheep I tell myself. I have a lot of spite. It’s an easy feeling.

Big windows, bright colours. If I go now, I see the doors gone. Empty and abandoned. None of us could cook or afford to order. Sad snacks we called what we could make. I think I should call them but what’s the point? We’re strangers now but I still wish I had that house.

Urban hermit

Hermit in a slum, walled in by his own desires, he watches the street lose meaning. It loses shape, it loses people, it seems to devour lives whole as one family after the other goes missing.

Stand on loose sand while waves move past you and you feel the ground give away while you stay rooted. That’s what our hermit felt when one day after some private tragedy he stood rooted and numb in his little hollow where he would hide from the receding tide. Without purpose and without reasonable fear, isolated he became an unwilling repository of a changing street, a city getting faster and further away from a man who dared not take a step forward.

He spoke slowly like his voice was traveling from his past, but it was really the present that occupied him. He squinted at the future or at least it’s portents. His world was just omens seen in the poorly behaved children, the failures of parents, the careless people who had lost their way while his despair stayed quiet.

Somewhere, sometime unknown to the hermit, he went from man to creature in a scary story. Emerging from shadows, inhabiting forests and mountains that protagonists journey to slay beats in. In silence he grew demonic, frightful for a future that would never take him. Doomed, the merciless tide would drown him.

TV Portrait

Throw a glance at where all the furniture is pointed at and the room gravitates to an old TV. It could have died a quiet death long ago, but it lived to see it self in indignity, dusty and having the furniture under it sag ever so slightly.

On the screen is a face, we cannot tell if this is man or woman, youth or elder but the pose marks a quiet resignation. A stillness that comes with defeating contemplation. The mind wanders, soon the memory of a fledgling town where it eases into night, faces peering into a house to catch a glimpse of a TV. They stand outside and are colored in festive lights.

Somewhere unnoticed the memory morphs, turning from wondrous capture to little threads of other people’s stories guiding one through an ever changing maze. These stories begin seemingly vital, great tales that must be heard but seem to end in some dull and familiar cliche. Was there meaning or just color? Too late to say.

Slowly a mindless routine eases in, treading a well beaten path. It was too much to ask to begin unraveling the noise, the senseless broadcast that ends with a despairing figure. Grey expression on a grey screen, un-death on an old frame. When was it that its time passed?

Fawn

We’re thirty minutes outside town when the roads clogged. Luggage racks, road snacks, dogs barking out windows.

She’s thinking behind a pair of sunglasses. “You want coffee?”

After much thought. “It’ll be a madhouse. Don’t bother.”

Her mouth forms a perfect “O,” then shuts. She says the word “Fawn” to no one in particular.

The first thing I noticed in her room was the mess. Clothing and food wrappers rose like hills over a dirty floor. I unearthed old novels, brown, with their covers ripped off.

The best secret was camouflaged; incomplete love letters. Suddenly I wasn’t sure who the fawn was.

Janus

Born with two faces, one located conspicuously behind him, the doctors decided to leave it be. After all, it was merely skin accompanied by no organs or anything of its own.

His parents did notice he had a tendency to talk to himself a little more than normal and a little longer than was age appropriate. They saw him ask them to do something about it soon enough, it’s a terrible thing to carry and the stares must have really weighed him down.

But what was truly frightening was how they remembered him crying to himself, telling them it whispered things in his ear, and it smirked when he smiled, of how it sneered when he cried. What reminded them was a quiet two faced smile, a silent arrangement from the wrong directions.

Liberté

Only the post-it was louder, freedom on the wall yellow and lively.

While mundane chatter drowned out all thought, the room is a broken landscape of farmland. An escape that isn’t quite far enough. The wood lining the windows seems close to rot, the lamp a sicking yellow.

A spine cracks, daylight robbery at a book-sale she still had to steal. The creaks, the moans- excesses permitted only to the oldest of homes. Yet the neighbors stir, the thud was from an unfamiliar language.

On the door, a yellow note now usurped, by a lively shade of blood.