One morning, when you are least expecting you
wake up a hole
in your abdomen, a salivating
red circle, slap bang middle of the soft
flesh beneath your ribs,
big enough to fit two fingers.
You feel no pain, just uncomfortably numb.
There’s a hole and you can’t recall
what was there before. You try not to look,
put a sock in it and Elastoplast over the top.
After fruitless Googling you
ring in sick and visit the doctor.
She’s wearing lipstick and a feather boa.
She advises vitamin D and camomile tea. Just one of those things, she smiles and hands you
a free whale music CD on your way out.
Next day, you wake feeling cold.
The ceiling is scabbed with mould.
There’s a strange smell in the room, like geraniums.
When you study the hole, it’s become a tunnel
and you cannot see the end.
You shine a torch and for a moment
glimpse the white shriek of an eyeball.
On the last day
you wake before dawn.
The cornflakes taste stale and you’re out of bread.
You worry about office dead
-lines and the state
of the carpet where the cat is digging for gold.
You take a hot bath and try not to look.
Through the opening you
hear the trill of bird song.
One winter’s night in Ashington, Tim went looking
for paradise and found her swinging
slowly to and fro in the play park. She was singing
an old tune from a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
At first he thought the canny moonlight made her blue
or a street lamp malfunction. On closer scrutiny
he was blown away by her truth; her hair of delphinium,
her eyes of forget-me not, her lips of cyanide,
her skin of palest sky, her fingers of summer solstice,
her kingfisher boots and hyacinth thighs. He forgot his need
to score and mounted the roundabout, sort of casual, like.
In a nervous, squeaky voice he offered her top-grade weed
but got no reply. She kicked up and swung higher,
carolling the refrain of ‘Some Enchanted Evening’
and laughing through teeth of gleaming steel.
So, how’s ‘bout coffee at mine then? he trilled.
She fell back to earth and followed him home.
Her name was Geraldine.
When dawn broke he woke to her singing
‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’ while making breakfast.
In the bright light she was cornflower
and so was the scrambled egg, cornflakes and toast.
My touch turns the whole world blue, she said.
Looking down at his naked torso, he was amazed.
So, Tim changed the colour of his spots,
redecorated the flat, ditched drugs and shop-lifting.
He married Geraldine. Together they opened up
Blue Mood Foods, a take-away near the Crematorium.
They had two kids, Odin and Astrid
in subtle shades of ocean. They grew strange
herbs in window boxes. Their business expanded into psychedelic
biscuits on Amazon. Then the letters began; complaints
from neighbours about the changing hue of the town, concerns
about identity, concerns from Health and Safety, concerns
from the Planning Department about loss of grey.
They were served a court order forcing Geraldine to wear rubber
gloves in public places. There was an online petition
demanding her repatriation to wherever.
Odin and Astrid were bullied. They started writing poetry.
Their mother stopped singing show-tunes.
One day, she and the kids hitched a ride with the undertaker.
They were last seen on CCTV approaching the Channel Tunnel.
Tim moved to Hull and got a job slaughtering pigs.
He took pride in his work, keeping the stun gun primed
and polished by his bed, next to the blueprint family photo.
A mermaid in a cab delivered her note, handwritten in wavering purple ink.
She chose a secret location on Long Island at midnight.
Strictly no pictures, no questions and I must come alone.
She said she admired my honesty and the scoop on Leonard Cohen.
The tide was out, the mist was in and it looked like a no show
when suddenly she appeared by the rocks, lapping quietly at my feet.
She wore a blue mac. A fedora pooled shadows over her eyes. Such an honor to meet you, I began. Thanks for letting me tell your story.
This is not about me, well not much, she said.
Her voice rippled and skipped through the dark. It’s about you guys. My warnings
aren’t getting through, not
even the tsunami of 04. You morons
have short memories and no understanding
of omens. We don’t know where we went wrong, me
and Neptune. We were good parents. Fuck knows
we tried our best. Ever since you crawled
onto dry land you’ve lost your way.
What do you mean exactly? I asked. I told you no questions, she replied and a cold wave rose up and slapped me in the face.
We sent clear signs, reminders every day. It’s hard work
maintaining the tides, the rhythm, all that pulling
and pushing to teach you the value of self-discipline, of balance
and how to give and take. We’re sick
of your abuse and the shit you dump in the water. I could
go on and on but I’m not here to give another
lecture cos the truth is, you’re screwed. No,
I’m here to tell you I’m quitting.
Neptune hitched a ride to Andromeda
five years ago. He sent a postcard last month
and says he’s doing swell. I stayed behind, hoping
for change but now your time is up. There’ll be no
more marinara pizza, no more calamari fritters, no
more weekends hanging out at the beach and no
more yachting holidays for the jet set. There’ll be no
more clouds with silver linings and no
more rain on your dahlias. You will be forever grounded.
I’m off to Orion for my new job as Head of Desert Prevention.
My advice in these dying days is to forget love, it will fail you.
Read Dostoevsky and respect your cat, he is wiser than you know.
And before I could protest, she disappeared,
dancing and leaping into a vortex of spray.
I was fascinated by the weird shapes of these oil drill bits I saw discarded at the site of an onshore oil well in Northern Scotland. They remind me of alien seed pods from a sci-fi film! The drill bits were originally diamond tipped and cost thousands of pounds each. They were quickly worn out by the toughness of the granite.