The Blue Books Restored: Fragments 1A to 70 (part 4 of 4)
By Lille Dante
exploring other ways of existing culturally
I think Jonathan belonged in Category 2 of reunion types, in that he looked like an older version of his teenage self. Male pattern baldness and moobs marred the image. While Diane was a Category 1. Just as beautiful, with her black bob, trim figure and – god! was that a mini-skirt? – great legs.
Above the pound shop and the pawn shop
and the shuttered shop, above the tooth
enamel yellow of McD’s sign,
the honest artwork of artisans
is preserved in remnants of Deco
curves and columns, cracked and flaking faux-
gothic ornaments, between the crude
pebbledash and bland glazing of times
more brutal than modernist concrete.
I’ve always had a good visual imagination. For me, for that moment, Merlin was standing there, his wizened form draped in magician’s robes and surrounded by an aura of mystic power.
The world shouts in my face,
so I throw these words down
in defeat and defiance,
spattering the page with rage,
while a seek a calmer place
in which to hide or drown.
My sensitivity and feyness
are the bars of a feeble cage.
... but that was years ago. The rays that left
Aldebaran are nothing to the bulbs
that brighten urban streets; the Bull’s red gaze
not strong enough to penetrate...
War waits impatiently for his arrival, smoking a cigar whose tip burns red as Mars. He wears desert camouflage, which conceals nothing against the black starkness of this terrain. He totes a gun as ridiculous as the BFG from Doom and strikes a pose equally Schwarzenegger retro-macho.
When Cushing pulls the curtains, I succumb
to sunlight and crumble like a ghoul
and die like a predator wannabe...
The sudden silence wakes me. I looked from the turret window and saw how close Chaos had drawn to the castle. I felt a tightening of fear in my stomach. There was no longer night or day, but a shifting roseate glow like a dawn that would never break. The lawns unravelled as each blade of grass turned into a green-furred rat that scurried into nothingness. The road grinned rotten teeth in a cavernous maw that smacked its cobbled lips. An avenue of trees pirouetted and twirled their petticoats of blossom.
Fly over it, breathe it, suffer its weight
Oxygen feeds the flame snuffed by exhale
If there is poetry, then I don’t care...
comprised of impeccably assembled fragments
Linda was another Category 2. Behind designer glasses and beneath a grey-edged perm, her face was a line sketch of the girl I once knew.
I want to fly to Mars, to Alpha Centauri,
to Andromeda, but only ride the rocket
round. Ride the rocket round and round to nowhere fast,
while the attendant’s greasy fingers rattle coins
with lewd suggestion: rummage in his leather pouch
as if in mummy’s knickers. Their cigarettes converse,
bobbing up and down on bottom lips, sending
Tuck me up in Tracy’s bed
I want my dreams to have street cred
Fill the room with pickled sheep
And I will count them, half asleep
Turn the light off, turn it on
All my furniture has gone
Stick some Blue Tak to the wall
Pretend that it means bugger all
“Don’t be silly, child.” A second grip fastens on my elbow and the bones do not quite grind, but it is a warning that they could. “No trouble,” I promise.
After the Woodstock massacre,
Hendrix gave up his guitar
in favour of the priesthood
The window breaks. A heavy object hits the table and scatters my phials of glitter. It is a rough hewn half brick wrapped in a page torn form a cheap notebook. Ignoring the blue feint lines, someone has scrawled ‘SPAZ’ in black marker pen. I hear laughter out in the street. It sounds like kids from the estate.
sometimes you want the rollercoaster to stop
I had to be introduced to Steven. An awkward moment as we shook hands and I accepted what I was being told. He was a category 3. Nothing like the person I recalled. I would have walked past him in the street without a second glance. Maybe because he didn’t have long, curly hair with a centre parting, but did have a ridiculous goatee.
Steven grabbed hold of the sword again and wrenched at it harder than ever. “That’s me,” he asserted. “I’m going to be King.” He pulled so hard that we thought he was going to rip the whole fence up. But no, it remained firmly fixed in place. His face turned red. Finally, he swore and kicked at the stubborn shaft of wood.
All things are connected in the poet’s mind,
though Chaos shapes the world in which we live
and colour is drained drab by the daily grind.
Before the colour blue, when the Adriatic
spilled in foaming ferment from Poseidon’s storm-filled
amphora, I wore the blind mask of tragedy
with its opal eyes and gold leaf beard, mouth downturned
and gaping as I intoned this dreadful chorus:
Pestilence hawks a gob of something green, which sizzles on the lifeless strand. His presence is the most colourful, with his yellow skin, red-rimmed pustulence and cyanotic lips. His lungs wheeze like a fairground calliope. “Where is our fourth?” he slurs in a voice both liquid and rasping.
I want the vampires to win, not high school
heart throbs with designer pallor, the Glee
generation of daemons with no plan
beyond a series arc, but the eardrum
splitting, scene chewing, high camp kings of cruel.
When news had first arrived that Chaos was sweeping across our borders, Diane and I had journeyed via Stepping Stone to see what could be wrought to halt its progress. We stepped out from beneath the dolmen arch atop a barrow overlooking farmland. Immediately, we could see the approaching wave of random change, as stalks of wheat growing in the fields turned into gold fletched arrows and shot up in the sky.
London resembled a massive snow globe. Its inhabitants preserved inside an impenetrable bubble, somehow continuing about their everyday business as if nothing untoward had happened.
... that it expresses romance and hate
an effective spell of small-hours introspection
I was lucky my camel lasted three days in the blizzard. But snow drifts piled against sand dunes proved too treacherous. Its ungainly legs flailed uselessly and failed to gain purchase on the shifting, windblown slopes. It fell and did not try to stand. Froze to death, half buried in the small avalanche its own clumsiness had created.
When both of us were very young,
the mountains were heavy with magic.
Now we are taller children,
the view is hazy
and we know we will not find it here,
so we adopt a different point of view
and cut down twenty-three corpses
hanging in a line.
We dress ourselves in thoughts from the skies,
pack our pack-rolls up,
swallow our pride and pucker our lips,
then bid each other a fond adieu.
It is through imagination that we sieve
the chaff from Time and hope to germinate
the seeds of bright tomorrow. For what we give,
may we be truly thankful. Carry the weight...
I am in a supermarket where I have not shopped before. Do not understand the layout of the aisles, where goods are jumbled together. Cannot read the prices on the shelves. Find a butcher at work, carving meat into white slivers. It is penguin and I do not know whether my daughter will eat it.
As Chairman of the UN
and Nobel Prize winner,
Saddam brought peace to the Middle East
leaping from murky greens and blues to striplight glare in seconds
The shelter its corpse provided was soon more trap than comfort. Its body heat absorbed into the sun starved desert, it became just another sandstone rock to serve as a poor windbreak. If I stayed hunkered here, I would shortly be buried myself beneath the relentless driving snow.
Love stoops as a falcon to its handler’s glove
and submits to being hooded in exchange
for scraps. Love preens its feathers with a killer’s
hook, while eyes that spot a shrew’s swift passage
through the undergrowth at a thousand metres
Seeing a chance for fame, I stepped forward quickly and prepared to have a go myself. I could see that the sword was mostly free of the ground and was mainly being held by a loop of wire. What was needed to free it was a more subtle approach. I began to wiggle the wood gently, seeking to bend or distort or maybe even stretch the twisted metal. However, all I succeeded in doing was getting a splinter in my finger.
“Son of Apollo, cursed by the flames that consume
your veins, your life is fleeting as the silver blooms
of Diana’s pale visage floating orchid-like
upon the Hellespont. Forsaken by Nike,
your brow unblessed by laurels and no more porous
than marble tributes to King Priam whose bones burned
with Troy, your own proud fall is your lone certainty.”
Death produces a heavy tome bound with – shall we say – leather. Scans its pages...
Diane drew her crystal wand and stalked down the slope to the field’s edge, where she struck a defiant pose. Arm extended, she pointer her wand at the approaching monstrosity and gathered her Power. She was the strongest and most skilful technomancer that I knew. I could sense a nimbus of intense, raw Magic forming round her lithe body. The wheat flattened and twisted into patterns at her feet. Yet, I could sense nothing from the wall of Chaos that was approaching at an implacable marching pace. When I drew my own wand, I felt only dread and awful futility.
They are expensive, especially now the government is phasing out my disability benefit, but I treat myself to a new pair of scissors in Hobbycraft. They are special ones that don’t cut straight lines. Instead, they give paper a fancy crimped edge. I picture the birthday card I will make for my social worker. It will be the best yet.
it’s not pretty, but then that’s partly the point
I stripped the corpse of all I could carry. Carved off some chunks of meat I might be grateful for later, though my gloves became soaked with blood that further chilled my icy fingers, then stiffened into scarlet crusted claws.
You would think the overgrown path
were barrier enough without the chain
across the road. The curator is too old
for his long hair and beard. He bids
me welcome with no obsequy. Unfastens
the padlock as if releasing his mistress
from chastity. The driveway curves
out of the pubic forest of birch and there,
upon a verdant mons of lawn, towers
the futunara fortress: a wet dream of white
clapboard and old colonial style.
With a wadded sheet of toilet tissue, I wipe condensation from the mirror. My face is a constant disappointment, skin bumpy with blemishes and ancient scars. Eyebrows white as snow capped thickets. Hair wild as a glum faced clown’s. Teeth like a vandalised graveyard.
Eventually, the aliens started to invade our minds. It is suspected that their incidental effects upon the electromagnetic spectrum began to influence our brain activity. Sleep was disturbed and we began to share the same dreams: as incomprehensible as the chaotic patterns on our television screens.
all the bogus pillars supporting his previous worldview
Without the camel’s instincts, I was not sure which way to walk. A bone white shroud of unbroken cloud obscured the sun. There was no signal on my phone for GPS. The Tilt still rendered my compass unreliable. The only rough guide was the wind, which I assumed was still being blown towards the warmer wastelands of the West.
We raise an arch to welcome Winter’s son,
home from his sojourn round the twelve bright
realms of heaven. From the fish tailed goat
to the centaur armed with hunting bow...
As I pulled my hand away sharply and began to suck at the injured digit, Diane decided to take her turn. With the advantage of adult hindsight, I can see that Steven’s and my efforts must have loosened the stake from its fixings.
And so the Age of Heroes ended, when they sired
poets and politicians...
Diane cast her spell, like casting a boulder in a pool of Reality and causing it to ripple. The force of her will made manifest. But Chaos did not falter. Instead, it surged forward, feral as a ravenous predator swiping its claws.
time is squeezed and stretched in new ways, exotic timbres are distilled on the spot
I shouldered my pack and started to slog back up the slope down which I had fallen. The snow was almost knee deep and dragged at my boots. The sand beneath remained soft and crumbled with each step, causing me to slip back almost as far as I climbed. The muscles in my legs burned with cramp as I pushed myself to keep moving.
My drugs are named after days of the week. Red and white capsules I swallow dry. Calm down, old girl. The box speaks Latin. The leaflet warns of a dozen ways to die: swallow me and I might screw your liver, forget me and you may as well forget to breathe.