18.5.18

The vibrance of her skin against me,

perfume stains

tangled up in interstellar fabrics.

She is the sun

drenching me in her soft black light

gravity drawing me in.

I lay head against her pillows

and ink on her skin.

Pale white and pockmarked,

toothy grin and elation.

 

Tell me, where do you see this going?

“Far.”

How far?

“The moon, the stars, I want to die with you.”

Die with me?

“In like eighty years, when we’ve had a long happy life together.”

 

In like eighty years, when we’ve had a long happy life together. I’ll lay you down for the last time, and kiss you gently, and hold your hand as you fade away.

“You won’t die with me?”

Someone has to make sure you stay dead, I don’t want to be responsible for the zombie apocalypse.

*snort* “You nerd.”

 

In eighty years,

we won’t know ourselves.

So much can change

in a much shorter time.

 

The vibrance of her skin against me,

perfume stains

tangled up in interstellar fabrics.

Nuclear fires burned up

drenching me in warm red and orange

gravity pulling me apart.

I lay her head against her pillows

and lipstick on her cheek.

Pale white and pockmarked,

serene smile and adoration.

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18.5.11

And will you cry when I am gone? Will you see my disappearance for what it is, or let it consume you in another way, or better yet ignore the fact I am no longer here?

And will you cry when I am gone? Will it even make you wonder, make you sad, make you happy? Do I care anymore? Do you?

And will you cry when I am gone? Or are you as tired as I am of all this fighting? The stress of hair falling out and mouth always dry. The constant never eating, feeling sick and waking up at three AM to throw up and fall asleep exhausted on the bathroom tiles. The toxic feel creeping across your body, the glow of another vain battle.

And will you cry when I am gone? Or be relieved my paranoia is finally gone? Will you move on? Will you find another? Will I stain you in my radiation and leave you just as sick as I am? How many pieces of myself can be amputated before you waiver and wander and leave me for another? Another woman, another man? Am I the only, am I even special?

And when I’m gone, I want you to remember me. I don’t care when I am gone, when you leave me. Remember me please. Don’t ever regret falling in love with me.

competition

It is sunny out, so I’m making hay for my strawmen.
And math is not my strongsuit.

 


Not usually one to avoid politics, it had surprised her how long it had taken for this conversation to come up with her friend. He had a business idea, it was a good one, and as they arrived at lunch one day wide-eyed and excited. Lily sat down with him, spoke with him at great length and when he asked about her day she initially tried to avoid it.

She had very recently given up corporate law to become somewhat of an activist, and while he liked to hear about it he also had some very strict ideas on what constituted morality. She steered it back to him, it was less likely to cause an argument than what she was doing at work.

But no matter how it happened, it inevitably always came back to the same discussion.

“I’ve got some shopping to do after this.”

He feigned a smile, it was a dull and safe choice of topic, “Groceries?”

“No, Issy needs a new bath-robe so I thought I’d look around.”

“Just use amazon.”

“I don’t like amazon-”

“Oh, right, because it’s owned by a rich guy.”

“No, it’s owned by a monster who profits off of slavery and who abuses the so-called free market to make himself obscenely rich at the cost of others.”

He scoffed, “He had a good idea, he earned his money.”

Yet for some reason, unlike usual, she did not change the subject. She wasn’t sure why.

“Okay, so your argument is that if you have a good idea you are entitled to your money, right?”

He nodded, “Of course you are, you earned it.”

“Just, follow the logic for me. You are starting a business and it’s a good idea.”

“I think so-”

“Okay so, how much do you think you’ll get as a loan to start your business? Let’s say ten thousand so the math is easy, right.”

“Uh, sure.”

“Now, let’s say that some nameless rich guy has the same idea and he has ten million dollars in his pocket that he’s going to use to start it up.”

“Okay,” he raised an eyebrow.

“So you let’s say you spend half of your money getting your business up and ready to make your product. The rich guy does the same. And we’ll be generous to you and say you have the vastly superior product.”

“What’s your point?”

“I’m getting there. So you now both have a product, how do you start selling it?”

“Online?”

“Sure, but I mean how do people find out about it?”

“I tell them,” he snarks just a little.

“So advertising. You’ve got what, five thousand dollars left in your bank account and he has five million. We’ll be super generous and say you manage to get the best advertising company money can buy and for every one dollar you spend on it, you get one person viewing your product – that’s five thousand potential buyers. If he spent all his money advertising, he would need to spend a thousand dollars for every one view to do the same as you.”

“Then I’d beat him in the long run.”

“Do you really thing he’ll get such a shitty advertising agency? No, let’s be realistic for the rich guy and say he gets a decent agency and for every ten dollars he spends he gets a view. You got five thousand views and if he spent all his money on advertising he’d get five hundred thousand.”

“Wait, why is he getting a view for every ten dollars?”

“You want him to spend a hundred for every view, he’d still get ten times as many views as you got. If you sold to every person that viewed your product, which is ridiculous, he’d only need to sell to one in ten to match you. If we’re realistic and say you sell to one in ten, you’d sell five hundred of your product and he’d sell fifty thousand.”

“But my product is vastly superior, even you said so!”

“Alright, so you sell to one in five, that’s a thousand of your product sold. He still outsells you fifty to one.”

“But, mine is better so… word of mouth.”

“Sure, but there is a finite number of people in the world that want to buy your product. Let’s say a million people want it. And lets not factor in stuff like declines in sales and trends and stuff that’d be negative to you – let’s just say you a thousand a month and every month you gain a ridiculous amount of extra sales and you double the amount you sell right.”

“Okay.”

“So by around week seven you’ll have taken over them in sales – if they don’t grow at all – and by about week ten there will be no more people to sell to. You’ll have sold around five-twenty thousand and they will have sold around four-eighty thousand.”

“So I won.”

“That’s only if you grow like crazy and they don’t at all. To beat you they’d only need to grow by ten percent to beat you, and we’re talking something like six-thirty thousand to your three-seventy thousand.”

“I did pretty well though.”

“Sure, but your product was vastly superior right, shouldn’t you be on top? And that’s only if we’re super generous to your sale skills. If you don’t double your sales every month, you’d get virtually nothing.”

“So what are you saying?”

“The rich guy, who did average, can beat you when you are beyond exceptional purely because he has money. It isn’t a competition, so much as it is a knife-fight. Even if you wise up and bring a gun, he’s going to show up with an army.”

“So you’re saying I shouldn’t do my business idea.”

“No, you should, but be realistic. No-one really ever makes it rich, the best they do is make something someone else wants to steal, so they either do or they buy it off you for a millionth of what the idea is actually worth. The entire system is rigged against you to keep you from success and the sooner you realise that the better.”

“So what’s your solution then, we all become communists?”

“Yes, pretty much exactly. If we all had the same money to start with, we’d all have the same chance of success and good ideas would rise to the top. People have this dumb idea that communism is anti-competition when it is pro-competition.”

“Communism is all about robbing from the rich to give to the poor.”

“I just explained why that is a good idea, do I need to repeat myself?”

“So, because people are too rich, no-one should be rich?”

“Yes, exactly. If you distribute wealth evenly you know what happens? People spend money and buy things, and the entire economy grows. When the rich have all the money you know what they do? Only spend it to make more money, and the stuff they don’t spend gets locked away in a safe somewhere.”

She gestured to the coffee shop, “If the workers owned the coffee shop, the local management would be accountable. You wouldn’t have some rich guy in some office a world away telling them to pay their workers a few dollars plus tips because management has to work with the people under them. They’d want to invest in their shop and make it better, the workers who work there every day would do the same. Your business would grow exponentially purely because no-one wants to work somewhere they hate.”

“But if the business doesn’t make enough money-”

“They go out of business, or they join a worker union that allows them to pool their resources so that one business has some insulation from bad sales or issues with worker compensation.”

“If this is so wonderful-”

“Stop, I know what you’re about to say and you’re wrong. The Soviet Union was barely communist, it’s economy was feudal and its state was fascist masquerading as communist. It was as communist as the United States has ever been.”

She pushed her empty coffee cup across the table, “If you have a system where you effective enslave workers so that they are forced to work the land over punishment of death, and where the only form of mobility out of their rigid class is to be so exceptional that you break from your mold and redefine the society itself – that is wrong.”

She stood, “And I’m not just talking about the Soviets.”

He gave her a puzzled look, but she placed her money on the table and smiled, “It was nice talking to you again, we’ll need to do it again soon.”

“Uh, sure-” he stood, and she left to go shopping.

Distractions.

The status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.

Lily signs upon the dotted line.

She straightens out her collar, makes it comfortable, adjusts her tie. Then she signs upon the dotted line. Her signature, her contract given, an obligation to the man sitting behind the desk who has agreed to see her for what she is.

He doesn’t wear a suit or tie, he stares at her with cold dead eyes and then strokes his beard. Curious, then curiouser, a woman in a suit talks to a man in rags and the two seem to fit together like the slices of the loaf of bread they are carved from.

“Judge not unless you seek the judgement of others.”

She glances at him, he taps his temple and grins.

“Welcome sojourner, step into my office.”

She stands upon a stage before the world. They do not pretty her, nor mar her with the trappings of the woman beside her. They do not call her Lily, they do not seek to out her for what she is. The lights turn on and she is before the crowd, she straightens her tie and the camera is live.

He stares in the back, watching her. The woman beside her is flush, they are not shaking as Lily is. Relax, it will be fun.

Nothing is more natural.
She signed the contract, they handed her the money.

They kiss her cheek, they run their hand under her suit and feel her heart thumping. A man screams at them from behind the camera, she is wooden, she is simply standing there and not moving. Her soul is breaking.

“Let yourself be lifted by the weight of your sorrows.”

Lily looks to the woman, kisses them, runs her hand over their hips, feels their body press against her own. The man screams again from behind the camera. The lights go out and the crowd applauds in lock-step and the camera shuts off. She straightens her collar and leaves the stage.

Adjusts her tie and leaves the building. She goes home, sits on her lounge, watches the news for the first time in many, many, many years. She watches as they speak about her, about not knowing who she is, but they know who she is kissing. And they sit beside her upon the lounge and watch as well.

‘BREAKING NEWS! We interrupt our ongoing coverage of the crisis in-’

Spin.

He sat in his office, typing slowly. No rush, no need to make pointless errors. The sun had set and he was taking his time just making sure his work was done properly.

His name is Joseph Lamb.

A man of humble origins, a clerk by another name and a typist whose sole job is to write clearly and coherently. None mistake him as important, he does not wear a suit and tie, he does not wear a clean shirt or shave his beard. He just writes. Slowly, carefully, thoughtfully. Every word he writes is crafted, selected perfectly from a vast stock of phrases in his mind. He is the man you must go to see if you have trouble with a phrase.

He works in the news room, he is the chief editor.

His superiors do not consider him as important as he is, but they pay him exorbitantly. It is obscene the money he can make for simply paraphrasing an article in his own words. At the end of the day, he places his work into a pile and leaves the office to head home.

He sits on his lounge, cycles through the stations and listens to the different ways a thousand voices sound reading his work out loud.

His craft is subtle, blink and you’ll miss it.

As a child they told him that there was no such thing as mind control. Then he studied Russell, Saussure, Eco and Orwell. Less skilled writers made things more clear, less veiled. All that he had to do was turn on the television to see that. The lesser news, the outlets he did not edit. This however was his greatest moment, his masterpiece was being unveiled.

“Fallen is Babylon, and it has become the habitat of demons.”

‘There is no indication that chemical weapons were used on civilians in Douma, this was a false reporting by Russian spy agencies in an effort to draw the United States into a conflict in the region in an attempt to distract from the increased aggression we are seeing from China in the Spratly Islands. The People’s Republic of China has very recently begun to redouble its efforts to annex the islands – something it has been doing since twenty-thirteen. Two years ago, it was found by international tribunal that their actions in the region were illegal, and yet they refuse to back down. That land officially belongs to the Philippines, an ally of the United States of America. They are an occupying force, and we’ve allowed ourselves to be distracted by Russian aggression in Europe and the Middle East.’

He leans forward in his seat, anticipating the big moment.

‘Russia is a state that promotes and spreads terrorism across the globe. Their current campaign of global anarchy began with the invasion of Georgia in two-thousand and eight, where in they invaded and annexed territory from the Republic of Georgia. In twenty-fourteen, the Russian Federation continued their goal at annexing their neighbours by funding fascist groups closely aligned with the Russian President to orchestrate a take-over of Ukraine. They then infiltrated the country and annexed Crimea and began a war in the Donbas region.’

He took his drink and sipped.

‘Vladimir Putin has systematically turned the Russian Federation into a theocratic dictatorship. His obsession with Orthodox Christian ideologies have given him the power to dominate his country illegally for decades and has encouraged violence against minorities, LGBTIQ individuals and has given him a sense of divine authority to interfere with the rest of the world. He will attempt to destroy the West, it is his very identity. It is why he courts fundamentally anti-Western dictators like in Iran, Syria and North Korea. It is why he has interfered in elections in the United States, the United Kingdom and France. There is only one solution to the problem of Russia.’

It is, in his mind, as though he turned Oceania against Eurasia and Eastasia all at once.

New Suit.

Pitch-black, fading into the sunrise, the flicker of a television screen turning itself on and the feeling of static on the early-morning skin. A bottle in one hand, the body slumped against the lounge, snot nosed and congested. Skin raw from self-immolation, bloody minded and bruised from liver to livery. All metaphorical because today is just another day.

Lily sits up in her seat, five AM Jesus-thumpers selling bibles on infomercials no-one cares to watch. Dumb cult fucks shirking shit and ignoring the true meaning of the words they preach. What greater sin is there left? The vibrancy of life is lost to them, so they speak down to her through the television screen.

Work begins at seven. Work ends at five. Life begins at seven, sitting on the lounge watching nature documentaries until ten.

Work begins at seven. Work ends at five. Life begins at seven, sitting on the lounge watching old movies until ten.

Work begins at seven. Work ends at five. Life begins at seven, sitting on the lounge watching reruns of sitcoms until ten.

Jesus needs his planes, trains and automobiles. How else can socialism spread if not by the sword, the gun, the bomb. Freedom is only achieved through shackles. Every morning Lily puts on her dress suit, eases into her heels, paints her skin with warpaint, chains her wrists and neck with gold and silver trinkets. Her ears weigh down with the weight of blood diamonds, her teeth sparkle with the silver of the dead of Mexico.

Work does begin at seven. All dolled up, she hands her soul to the puppeteer and stands pretty beside a man as they argue the defence of another man. The vibrancy of life has clouded the minds of those she stands behind, and pretends as if they have morality. What greater sin is there left? It pays well to keep her mouth shut and close her eyes and give what is taken.

Work ends at five, a twelve minute drive turns into an hour. She thinks, she shops, she buys the necessities for another night. She has dinner around six, settles in by seven and watches TV with a bottle in one hand and the remote in the other. Never changes the channel, never changes. Her bedroom gives her insomnia.

God is on the television, seeking your faith, grinding it into your skull. You are a sinner, you are evil, you are wicked. Nothing can ever be good, death is your salvation – repent and die. Drink the punch, however it is spiked, this is not an acid test this is the end.

Garbage.

Rubbish.

Trash.

Lily sits up awake, unable to drift into the unconscious. What is this life if not a challenge, a struggle against the savagery of the Gate and the primacy of the Temple. Abducted or suicidal, mind-washed or gas-lit. For whatever reason she did her shopping late at night, the irony of using Amazon to fight the system.

A week of work and life passed her by, then her delivery sat on the kitchen counter for another week before she was drunk enough to try it on. Sometimes Lily was sick of high heels and suits and shackles and chains and lipstick and looking like she belonged. To someone, to some place, to anything. Respectability through attire grows tiresome.

Life begins at ten. A nice bar downtown, middle-class and average drink selection. Ordered an old fashioned and sat down at a bar by herself. Dressed in a jacket and a shirt, jeans and sneakers. Hair hidden under a beanie, fingers hidden by light gloves. It’s cold out so no-one thinks twice. She drinks in silence, headed home by twelve. Lays down in bed, sleeps until seven. Calls in sick, watches television with the sound off as she scrolls through job listings on her laptop. Sits in her lounge room all night, turns the television off, goes to bed.

Wakes up, heads to work in a suit and tie.

River.

Freezing waters that flow too quickly to solidify into ice. A line on a map and not much more to those preparing to cross. They clutch their rifles, make sure the canisters on their grenade launchers are loaded. The lieutenant barks orders, getting the men into position and making sure the ammunition is passed around. It’s a buffet to the newcomers, all the guns you could ever need and then some, handfuls of bullets plucked from the backs of trucks and shoved greedily into pockets and pouches. Smoke and chemical grenades line benches, the barricades at the edge of the river are heavy metal and backed by the cannons of the warmachines resting on the higher ground with perfect vantage points. The battle is about to begin, and in the enemy lines a man shouts and screams at the brave souls about ready to storm the beach. A shot rings out and everyone ducks for cover, then from down the river boats move up at a clip and breach on the sands. Grenades flash amongst the grounds of the enemy, and they fall and scatter. Those who were prepared still stand and wave their shields as the muzzles of the rifles light up the early morning and the cannons roar. Dozens down in an instant as the troops storm the beach, shields and sword, battering aside the defenders, rubber rounds smash bone and bloody organs. Tear gas burns lungs and throats. Freezing water blasts against the blankets and signs, but at least there is no dogs this time. Skulls crumble against the clubs, jackboots dig into ribs and bruise hearts. All for a little money, cents on the dollar, for the corporate profit. Until the earth reclaims them, until the river swells in anger and washes away the thugs and their shiny toys. Until the men in warpaint are swept away by the surging waters. Frozen river runs high and rapid and in the early hours of the morning the battle is over as they retreat. A small toll of a dozen lost, to the hundreds wounded and killed in the storming of the beach. Frozen souls that stand in the ice and hold up signs so the eyes of the nation can see their plight – while the world forgets about their sacrifice.

Deserts.

Deserts tend to get a little dry. Soon enough we’ll all be drinking each other’s blood. When they come to take the last of the wells from us, don’t just stand aside. This is our land, they have no claim over it. Black-uniformed, jack-booted men come early in the morning. The barrels of rifles press into throats and the points of bayonets dig into immobile flesh. A woman screams, and is silenced. They’ve come to clear the ghetto, to drag out the slumdogs and pay the slumlords their thirty silver. In the streets we gather, mattresses and blankets, what little we have. The cudgels and shields of the Legionaries batter us, but do not break our lines. Walls of women and men, children hurling insults from behind their parents until they open fire. A sniper from a tower, inside a walled fortress a kilometre away, we have no response, no recourse but to scatter and leave our walls to crumble. The desert dirts drink, run red until the well is stained. The Legionaries do not care, as long as they crush us under boot. Children are dragged from screaming mothers, the fathers are broken by clubs. A brave handful rush the gunmen as they advance, the most radical, with nothing but stones to hurl against lead. And a young girl watches as her boyfriend dies, and an old man watches as his son is shot. They will pave over us for olive groves and settlements, for the living space they need to grow. We are just rats and mice to them, to be driven out and eaten by the eagles that swoop across the bloody earth. Let me tell you of the sorrows, of being driven from the sea. Of generations born to never see the ocean that once bore our name. Of a people who, despite their pride, was lost to the tides of a desert, thrust there by a monster that emerged from the waves. So that once the ashes have settled, we can stand again in the burning town and watch them drag the survivors away. This is our land, they have no claim over it. With a song, we raise our dead, bodies broken by the bullets and swords but spirits immune. We bring dark magic, we bring the swords of God and let it be the memory of the day – that here we stand, never to be pushed aside. The dead will be our shield, let the whole world know there are still some of us alive. And if it takes a thousand generations, we shall break the chains that bind.

Pike Point.

Separated from the mainland by a small strait – the kind that children can swim on a hot summer’s day as a small kind of adventure their parents aren’t overly worried about – there is an Island. On the southern shore that looks onto the main-land there is a beach that people like to visit because it is quieter. The soft virgin sand is starkly white, and the way that the cliff overlook that looks over it curls into the mountain of an island itself, is fuel for young minds. The dream of finding some kind of lost world to explore drags young teens to the shores every weekend, even during the rainy, winter seasons like today. They are always disappointed when they find the trail that leads from the south shore to the north where, nestled amongst the trees, is a town called Pike Point. Dozens of people live there, and most work on the sole ancestral farm of a rancher who has bred cattle for decades. A hands on kind of woman that inherited the town from her mother and her penchant for cattle from her mother’s grandfather. The first place most people stumble is the gift-shop. The path and the ferry dock both lead straight to it, and the colourful history of the town is displayed very carefully by a slightly pedantic woman who spins a tall tale about the land. Perhaps the second thing most people notice is that most of the islanders are women, and the town historian explains why in short detail – it’s just the quirkiness of the island’s people. Then the Historian spins a dark fantasy to scare off the young boys, about how the island is full of monsters that only eat boys. Most of them rush off, thinking it better not to risk it being true. In truth, by night, it is any other town with one exception. There is a community kitchen where everyone gathers. The four or five men do most of the cooking, they are fishers from the mainland that ventured over and never really left, and every once in a while a sixth or seventh man would arrive for a while, the new interest of one of the town’s women. And even the rancher comes to enjoy the company of the people of her town. Tomorrow the ferry will come and bring more tourists venturing to see the strange little town amongst the trees, and none will really understand why it is like it is. Tomorrow the ferry will leave and take the last of the day’s slaughter to the Rancher’s son in a small town on the coast. Though at least one woman here is hoping tomorrow doesn’t come, because sitting about with her friends as they talk about nothing and eat the day’s catch and slaughter, or whatever it is the island has to offer – crabs, clams, roots and nuts, is much more enjoyable than work. She spends her days spinning tales about a town she knows the very simple story of, and every day feels like changing it so it is more interesting or flamboyant. One day she’ll dream of man-eating tigers, or an outbreak of man-flu. Another day it is just the standard explanation of focused immigration and old school fundamentalism. And that is far less interesting to her than a fisherman who broke a woman’s heart and left her unable to ever trust another man again. About a woman who walked into the sea and found an island with one lonely woman and together they began a life as mother and daughter. About a town that grew around those two women, and a town home to a woman that, despite suffering like her own mother had, did not make the same mistake. And so the rancher sits and talks to the men as they cook, all the while thinking of the only priest the town has ever met. After dinner, she takes the historian on a walk down to see the southern beach, and every saturday as the moon rises over the bay, they light a fire and wait together until another fire is lit. In the light of the two fires, four people stand separated by the dark waters, but not alone. The historian sits down with her, leans in and holds her hand.

Uca Bluffs

Upon the misty shores, hidden in coves drenched in rainforest. Among the pines, among the shroud, the rivers from the east flow into the ocean and with it the trees are drowned and the land is covered in swamplands. There are those who live in swamps, but it is hard living because wet grounds don’t make for good plumbing or solid foundations. The town of Uca Bluffs, actually live on the rise that eventually falls into the lowland swamp, but under the surrounding cliffs that emerge from mountains. Most of them are fishers, the kinds of people that jump into the cold swamp waters to wrestle nets and cages onto small barges that are moored not far from the town at a place called the steps. Not all fish for actual fish, though the waters are rich with trout and pike. A group of women hunt for geoducks and oysters among the mangrove roots, while telling ribald tales inspired by their game. One of them regularly spends the weekends crabbing, and shares the catch with the rest. The Crabber doesn’t tell tales about the local men, her interests are squarely in her work, and it’s for the best because as much as she likes them as friends – they’re very close and very comfortable with each other. She likes being one of the girls, and she likes that they care enough to offer to set her up, but she likes to work. The salt of the sea blending into the fresh water has a calming effect. The only one in town that seems to think like she does, the young woman who runs the post-office, who is always there writing stories and sorting the few letters that pass through the town every day. They walk the streets, delivering the mail as they tell stories to the young boy that follows her around. They lack all interest in going out and being like the others. Because in truth, such a small town, the only men around are fishers and the elderly. A post office is the biggest luxury they have, the diner and the general store are the same building and a chapel is run out of the garage of a man who happens to be a priest from the east and fishes on the weekdays to earn his living. Some priest he is, came into town with one woman when she left him he quickly found another. Though she isn’t too quick to judge, as the woman he left didn’t seem too broken up about it. Maybe that is the way of things and that the Crabber doesn’t get. She likes crabs for a very specific reason, they get where they’re going by walking sideways. Why leave the comfort zone, when it is comfortable? Maybe she just doesn’t like change, she likes to be the same reliable, dependable person and every day after work she waits on her front porch to take the mail from the woman who delivers it and then for some reason instead of what she normally does – shut the door – she joins them for the last of their deliveries so they can talk about the sea and the trees and about everything other than fishing, crabs or mail.