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Patrick Fleming

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Cleveland, OH, US

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Calm

by

Patrick Fleming

I.

She had large grey eyes
and no mouth. She wore a soft dress
that looked like
burlap and huddled just above
the bend of her knees.

There were fingers, of course. And paper
white skin. If she'd had fingernails
she would have painted them a pretty blue.
But there was only skin. Skin and bone.
the softness of her hair and the
deep, unyielding silence.

She had a friend who was also
calm. Only he was hungry.
He had fingertips for eyes and a
great lonely mouth.

He would try to kiss her sometimes.
When she was especially beautiful
or he was especially
anxious or alone.

He'd lay his mouth across her
face. She would tilt her head and
close her eyes.

She'd always heard that girls should
close their eyes. When a boy
was kissing or when she giggled
or laughed. But of course, Calm
never giggled. She never kissed either. But
she often closed her eyes.

She wore a pair of wooden shoes
with cat gut laces and
grey fur lining. On the tips she
drew an "S" and on the
heals she put her name.


The "S" was for snakes because, she
loved snakes and didn't want to
step on them.

The name was, well, just because


II.

When she was little, Calm
would go down the hill to
play in the streets near the
houses. There were lots of other
children there. Some of them
had mouths and bicycles and big
pretty smiles.

It was a sunlit world with good
concrete sidewalks and
deep beautiful grass. The houses
sprung out like great fists of
color and all the children laughed
and laughed.

One day everyone was squealing.
There was a snake on the sidewalk.
I was a copperhead snake with
strange lines, moving patterns
down it's back

She was afraid to touch it,
but it widened
her eyes with it's beauty.

Suddenly somone pinned it down with a stick,
just below the neck. The snake
thrashed and spit. Then a little
girl with pigtails and a pretty nose
smashed it on the head with a rock.

She'd wanted to scream, but they kept
smashing till finally it was dead

The snake lay on its back
pale belly, naked in the sun.
The little boy was poking it with
the stick and the little girl was just
laughing

Calm sat there in pieces. Her eyes
in a puddle and a facefull of
devastation.


Handful of Impressions

by

Patrick Fleming

1.

I separate myself and
lean against the window.
It's a big glassy thing with
half tinted fingers and a big
glaring view.
The rows of office cars
stagger
over the blacktop in the
current
quiet April heat,
cuddled hard.

I sometimes feel light is an erection
rubbing along the edges of things
I sometimes feel
my eyes are dark, hazel green
and the birds are only
nonsense to the quick blue
of the third story sky.
I sometimes feel
my hand on your cheek
and wonder how your hair must look
pressed against that glass
as I pull you close
and tell you

who you are
what your name is
and why I never
ever
ever cared.

2.

Sound of wheels
rattling down a
cobble worn road.
The night's gone black
and the river's
wet with it.
Stars seem naked
in the vault of that sky.
The sudden grass and the
scent of her body
a moving current
over my senses like
devastation.

Bare feet on the
wetness of yesterday.
A wounded moon bleeds
lonely in the pool
and our eyes are
tangled like fingers
deep in the
pattern of need.

I kissed you in the cemetery
then everything just
started to
tremble

3.

The roots leaned
down the muddish bank
like dirty snakes.
Ugly children
slipped and fumbled
dancing
strangely over and
down the slope.

A chemical river
oozed wetly past.
Dead eyes fish
punching holes in the
puddle dark
surface of the
shadow green air.

A little girl with green eyes
is floating on a
dirty black
inner tube.
She's dangling her fingers
in the sludge

4.

It was a murky
watercolor sky

I could imagine
a body
drifting through that sky
Like something dead in
blue water


Adolph

by

Patrick Fleming

I

The sky was never blue. And the moon glowed
a colorless faid. Vaporless ash
breathing dryly into the
thick black night sky surrounding.
It seemed almost impenetrable,
like rough cloth with only the
memory of forgetfulness;
A Broodish moon, poking in between.

When he woke up, that was all he saw.
For a while, it was all he was.
maybe it was his virgin mind. Maybe
he'd just come into being and didn't realize
he was there. Maybe, for
a little while, all that space in his head
was just filled with emptiness. Moonlight.
Shadow dark with the faid of the sky.

His name was Adolph. He had a
pale grey face with a colorless mess
of tone black hair. His eyes were
smudged like shadows or powdered ink.
The loose white bag of his skin
weaved nicely in the pale grey
layers of his cotton things.

It was a black and white world
with a flickering landscape and no sound.
He had never heard of Hitler. There was
no reality of demons. Only the long, slow
echo of lamplight's and rough shorn timber
split houses.

A reality wrapped in
pillows of worn grey need.

He was laying in the street.
The wind brought him around. Suddenly
he felt his hands. If there had been
a soundtrack, he would have heard
it rustling through the big dark tree
behind him. He would have heard the
jangle of the bottle glass as the air
pushed the bottle around.

He'd gotten drunk the night
before on something that looked like
dirty dishwater. Tasted like gasoline.

It was a quiet corner street.
The gutter ran clear with
fresh chemicals and abstract
fishes. This was not a viscous world
and he was not a viscous man. It
wasn't even a viscous night. No.
Quiet. Everything was just
quiet. Like walking through deep
water. A river of liquid glass. You can
see your body. You can tell your
mouth is moving. You can feel your
tongue, insistent and
rubbing. You're a wet grey thing
wrapped in soft paper skin.
So pale; like milk
only greyer and warm.

He took a deep breath. The air
tasted quiet and dry.

Between the night and the
city streets, a layer of grey
clouds swirled. They were far
above him. Almost half as far
as the moon. He thought of
dirty worn bedsheets. Clouds of
wet cotton. Dust. They were crumpled
in a pile on the floor of the
city sky.

He pinched reality with his eyes
and brought his senses back to
the surface. Leaned up on his elbows
bend.

The street was wobbly and old.
It ran a crooked path, round
the soft ball curve of the city hill.
Grass was thick and
shaggy on the sides. It showed
textural and contrast
in the grey hot ascedaline
lamp posts. The wind moved
over him, like a force of will
and reached headlong down
the grasping night wasteland.

Through an open window, a naked
woman was laughing in a chair.
A grey man with a
worn black clarinet was
making noises. There was
a bucket on the table full of
something cheap. Bone white
china cups littered the table. There was
a dirty wooden plate full
of grey strawberries and
half smoked South American
cigarettes. Black tobacco.

He was on the street below.
The wind in his hair cutting his eyes
The sound hit him sadly with the
memory of her.

Lorili

He felt pale. Grey and cold.
It was almost midnight. He needed
a drink.

II

The music would have throbbed in the corner
like a drunken woman, pounding
herself on the fabric of the table. Sliding her
hair over walls and in
the tangle hot twist of the
candle bruise. She would have
spread her sex
over the room like so
many naked wings and settled
half poised and deliberate onto the
edges of everything. As it was
there was only the lack of vibration
and the death silence.

Adolph walked the streets.
He was a little garbled and hot.
There was a buzz in his head.
Started at his memory and ended
at his little toes.

The street stumbled around
beneath him. You could almost
see the emotion sloshing around
inside his head. Burning
his senses. Leaving him all
messy and dark.

It was a scene from
a silent movie. Tall dark houses pressing
leaning in like walls.
The ash black of the cool night sky
Parting of clouds. Dark grey
shadows kneeling in the
knife light of the hot glass lamp posts.
The windows are tight and dark.
Thin rivers of smoky fog
leaving everything hazy and atmospheric.

It's an old brick road
but it's a black and white world so
every brick is visible. Every
edge and shadow. Every metal grate
sewer drain every
thing.

Someone's left the door open.
It gushes like a beacon. Light
pouring out like pure fire.
You can see him emerging
from the shadows walking
headlong into the furnace
like death.

He stood at the doorway and
swayed a little, creasing his eyes

Is was a dirty wooden
place with a short bar
and some small mean wooden tables
thrown around.
A thin ugly woman with a pale
face and bony arms
was sitting at the corner
folding napkins.

A ghostly haze
seemed to have taken over
the place. You could see it
crouching in the corner. Sleeping with
the floor boards. It acted
like sponges, soaking in the ugliness and
shadow. Once your eyes adjusted to the
light you realized how dark and toneless
everything really was.

He made no sound with his footsteps.
Not even as he breathed. And when
he stumbled into the nearest chair
all there was, was pain and motion.

She looked up quickly. Sort of an
animal hunger churning behind her eyes.
But she was timid. A wall of insecurity.
Still, it was badly worn.

She was like a little animal; hungry
and probably very sensual. She lurked
behind the wall and felt her body
burn.

He sat at the bar, weaving on the
antique barstool.

The silence was deafening. As heavy
as a steam train. She looked
down and waited.

He wanted a drink. Something
small in a glass. She filled it
with dirty dishwater. It burned
into him and set him all
giddy and psychological. His eyes were
crazy. To look at him, you'd
almost think he was laughing.

III

He was feeling sloppy. But this was the
part he liked the most. There was
a hum and a buzz.
It filled his body like light inside
a chamber. He could feel it reverberating
rubbing down his senses.

His hands were on the edges of his
arms. His arms were draped loosely.
The wooden current of
the bar felt smooth and cool.
Like water, leaving his
arm wet with the texture.

His eyes were sloped now.
Like a china man in an outdated
photograph.

The world looks different in
black and white. Especially through
an old camera. The room was
dim with cigarettes.
All the sharpness seemed to blur, like
swimming through fog. It's at that
point on the movie where the
scene ends, only here the camera
gets caught
halfway through the faid.

She was watching him on the
shadow edge of the bar. She had
this crazy feeling that all her
memories had been stolen and
he was the only one who
understood.

She was hungry. Her bony body
clung to he bony soul like asphalt.
She felt all hot and shaky. Hair
covered her forehead like a death
shawl. Wisps of pale silk.

The silence was pressing in on her.
Not really silence, more lack of
sound. She didn't know what ears were
for. There was a box in the corner.
It had gaudy blinking lights and put out
strange vibrations. She liked to
rub up against it sometimes and
close her eyes.

Everything had a magical quality.
She was a fairytale dancer in
dream. She moved around the foggy
room, her messy pale hair flowed behind
her like smoke. Handfuls of death ribbons.

She liked to drink in the dark
in the corner. She'd huddle there
against the wood with a candle,
soaking all the darkness in and
squeezing.

She hated her body.

She wanted to fuck.

He slid his glass to his mouth
and licked his lips. He didn't like the
taste of the stuff, but he liked
what it did to him.

It made him feel powerful. Not in
a violent, physical way. He was
not a viscous man.
No.
Inside.
Like he could scatter continents
like he could destroy mountains with
gestures.

IV

Picture a long boat on a thin black river. It's
edging slowly with the black ooze of
the rivers current. Dead fish and
rusted metal cling to the edges
like parasites. All around the
blackness and grey cling desperately

You can see the moon playing
over the chemical ripples. They
roll quietly off the prow
and echo absently to the shoreline. Maybe
there's a bridge. Maybe it's not
so far away. maybe someone's standing
on the edge looking at the moon.

This was the image as he sat
at the bar. He was remembering. His
hand across his face and his eyes
clenched. He'd spilt some stuff into
his mouth again. It oozed down his lips
onto his grey paper loose chin.
His mouth was gaped,
revieling nothing; wet shadows and darkness.
He was remembering. That was the night
they'd met

He was still new. that is, the
movie had just begun for him. He was
standing big eyes on the bridge. The
stench of the river was fresh like
seawater. The wind was bracing to him.
It blew his hair back and made him
crease his eyes.

A slow voiceless river boat moved
down the echoless current.
He caught a suggestion
of a figure and a long black pole.
It left the impression of deep mud,
lidless fishes and shadowless ooze.

There was a plunk. Something on the
shoreline. There was not sound. More
flurry of motion. He felt like a cat.
Eyes sudden and quick. He rushed
down the bridge, onto the grassy earth.
It was a figure. Long hair dissolving
into the river blackness. He rushed down.
New shoes sinking into the heavy
mud. It was a dirty wet place.
Little insects came into being. They
swarmed around his ankles in a blur
biting into the greyness and warmth
of his fleshy legs. The water splashed
over as he treaded ever deeper.

It was a woman. She was
floating face down. Arms wide, hair
draggled. He reached quickly and pulled
her by the hand.

She was dead.

Her torn pale dress
clung wetly to her torn grey body.
Her dark grey blood, streamed coldly
down her pale things. It stained the
grass as he pulled her up the slope.
He turned her over and laid her in
the light.

There were no words.

His heart skipped and sputtered.
He forgot to breath.

Her eyes were open and her
mouth too. Her face was
wet with the river. Her hair
a plastered frame.

There were no words.

Soft wet leaves in a
cold summer rain. The sunlit
clouds shinning all around. Wind blows into
the senses leaving everything
crisp and wet. The soul.

She blinked up at him, like something
imagined. There was the grey slope
of her cheekbone, soft and smooth
the lip of her eye.
The eye was pebble white, just like his own.

he wanted to touch her. To pull her close
and kiss her.

It smoldered through the distance between
them. Grabbed him physically, like a
hand might. he opened his mouth.

There was no sound.

His skin was too tight

He couldn't breath.

There were no words

V

His guts felt hot against his skin.
Somewhere in the middle there was an
acid throb. Like his stomach was
trying to digest his own flesh
His heart pounded heavily. He creased
his mouth and clutched the bar.

She was watching him. He mouth
was also wet and her heart was also
pounding. But her eyes were open
and her stomach, cold.


The Match Girl

by

Patrick Fleming

One

There were all around;
moving currents of flesh.
Flowing hair, bustling voices,
bright beautiful eyes.
Long stretches of
smooth
clean concrete under
endless faces.

The sky stretched blue
and clear above the
eyeless rows of
city points.
Streets cut like
grooves in the thick
brick city stones.

It was a lidless
place with a teeming hunger
and a selfless sort of
desperation.

Shifting. Moving
Unbearably naked.

Two

She was standing at the
edge of the alley
fiddling with the hem of her
dirty dress.
The tatter blue smudge
of fabric felt worn
against the
pale of her legs.
The ghost of her hair fell
long across the
wideness of her eyes
and in the brown
soft memory of the
alleyway, she turned
her face and
cuddled into the wind.

The distances spread themselves
around her.
The long slow
shadow of the city
grooves flooding with
light and desperation.
Trickle of warmth
touching her face like a dark
soft hand, clutching out
hungrily

Blue sad
smudge of color
blushed over her lips
like shadow's;
needle slow needs:
Desires
working out the
fate of her
pity brown eyes.

Three

She felt like she was
drifting up the walls.
Bubbling out of herself
every time they forced the thing
between her legs;
dirty with misuse.
It's when the flesh
jabs into her body,
and her back bruises
hot against the
alley wall pain when
the rhythm of
aggression beats her soul out
like a drum.

She does these
things for money
but the pleasure of abuse is
the real benefit.
Pain drilling into the
cavern of her mind
sends her drifting up
the straight, dark,
current of the
alley wall
where shadows are
churning water
and wind is
lapping waves
and the sky, tight
pressing layers of blue
keeping everything down and
forced into bad places.

She just bubbles out and
mixes with
shadows, the
filth of concrete devastation
and alley trash night,
and, like a great, strange
shadowy bird she
scatters away

A handful of
greasy dollars
and a trickle of
blood on her knees,
she's panting in a
breathless heap
lonely as the shallows

Four

She had never been
a little girl.
not in the conventional
sense.
Reality never begins
in one place.
it finds itself slowly
like currents of rain
gathering in the cavern
of your soul.
She did not magically
come into being
but she slowly found herself
alone and aware, in pieces.
Reality left her
hungry somehow,
incomplete.
The nerves were deep
and well protected.
But nothing was ever
entirely right.


Hunger City

by

Patrick Fleming

I.

Shadowless blinking of eyes in
alleyways and door stoops. Rumble
of baby crying through
glassless window from heat of
bright slow sun
Rumor of flies. Piercing
air. Thinness of everything.
Brown laces of skin-pale
dangling down her
form like perfect shrouds.

She's laying on her bed much to
tight to breath. Big slow hand
of ceiling fan does nothing
to heat inside her.

Bed posts loom like
crucifixes and she - suffering
Christ, nailed tightly to
passion. Subtlety of
touches. Needle dry sting of love
flooding into her

Curtain moves and rustles. Through
faid low houses and
plain grey of sky. Low murmur
of chorus from church on
Mood Hill and restless clatter of
breathing.

She was pale under-nourished beauty
with faded brown hair and
hungry dark eyes. Her skin wound
round her body like blind
hands all time pressing into
bones and curvy flesh.

She wore no rings. No precious
images. Single strand of dirt
brown leather stretched tight on
her neck like dog thing.

She could hardly contain herself. She
was alone in her room with
strangest of secrets - She was in love.

She was in love!

II.

Clouds did bone swirl along
leather blue cheeks of sky
and sun glared down like
some sort of daemon. Oven
death in dust dry slab
of city street;

Rattle Clip Lane.

And skin stretched round his body
like air stretched through his
lungs and grey mood of eyes
pressed hard against crude faced
colors of world.

She'd seen him, but he
hadn't seen her.
She hid round body edges and
breathed.

But his arms were tired
and his head, buzzed.
Reality fiddled through him like
hand under small skirt and
he sheltering rabbit, warm in
secret violations of his soul.

Sun glared all around him. He was
standing at edge of dirty stone
basin. Faceless mouth
spit water from red wall
as muddish pool ripped from
press of it and he leaned
close to gather swallow

And she was behind him, stairing slow
intensely. Ripple of wind fingering
dust of her body. Strand pale hair sheltering
flutter of her poor naked mind.

He was not very tall, and his skin
was worn and exposed. Death
of his eyes seemed broken somehow.
Too many memories or not enough
blood - something. His light seemed half
empty. It made her nervous.
She wanted to run to him. Wash
pain from his body.

Stop it!

Needs of man pressed
though her senses.

Please...

She was shaking

no

III.

Priest swayed on alter. Rod of pulpit
groaned. Eyes of Christ loomed hungrily on
bone thin legs of Cross beam.
And he moaned and ranted and shuddered.
And Chorus weaved and praised, violently.
And dead still light pressed
half frozen on faces of
Faithful and children of men.

He was pale yellow. Blind
scars ran down cavern of
his eyes. Hair worked
black tangles on his head and
presence just seemed to loom.

He laid a crooked hand on
Book and Psalm flowed out like
death. And she was there in
back row, watching. Dirty skin
clutching perfect rim of pew.

"There is a darkness and a silence"
Priest said. "It presses like a
shadow. For surely, the fire is
all around us. The Black hand of the
Devil is pawing at our souls."

Chorus hissed and twisted in
their bodies as voices tangled
in fluttering throbs.

"For the world is a hard
stony place, and the eyes of
God are always inside of us. And
do not doubt - HE KNOWS..."

She felt strangeness building up
inside of her. She felt her skin go
liquid and puddle on floor.

"He knows the wicked desires in
your soul. They are a corruption
but He is a knife that cuts.
For there shall be a hard stone
destiny in the ground for those who
reject his mercy. Heavy with fire
and eternal pain, Angels will bury you
in weariness and your flesh shall rot
before your own wicked eyes."

Shadows grew lonely and pressed
against her body

"But there is another place,
high above filled with light and cool
sweet air where time is like
music and the velvet hand of God
is as a cradle."

And Chorus joined hands as
small pale boy took hand of
Priest. And voices rose and
filled chamber. And light
smoldered like tongues
of some subtle fire. And
bodies in pews knelt and
cried out as Priest
went forth and wandered
among them.

But frenzy had fallen from
her eyes and shadow had
fallen from her soul. Passion
rippled round her, like hot water,
but she was untouched; Detached.
It seemed room was vast
cauldron filled with liquid
frenzy of soul, and
Priest was fleshy rod
sent to stir them for fire.

And wicked sinners and children
of men knelt. They touched pale boy
that held him. Pale boy swelled
over with strangeness of smile.
Hands moving over his body.
Priest clutching tightly.
Pleasure gathering darkly in his face
Daggers pressing into his senses.
Eyes of God getting lost in
fleshy darkness and praise.

She turned and ran. Through
door and out into oven of world.
And distancing behind her
Chorus rose. Voices of ecstasy
spilled out over Mood Hill.
Mood of world.

Searching...

Hungry.

IV.

She was dreaming. She must have
been dreaming. Sky was naked
and raw above her head. But it was
different; changed. There was smooth
wetness that reminded her of...

kisses?

Cool warmth of something quiet.
Personal. Palm of hand against
her neck.. Scent of cool perfume
on her wrist. Blush of her eyes when
he'd held her close and went just
little bit crazy.

Something.

Memory left as dream-reality
focused. She was in deep sunken
place with large cool stones and
shadows. Walls rose around
her like enveloping arms. Cool wind
slid down length of corridor groove
like so many sensual fingers.

What's happening?

There was corner of bright light.
Caught her eyes and pulled her
physically. She could see figure.
Half bent shadow of flesh.
She could not tell who it was,
light was so bright.

She struggled forward, shielding
face with arm and skin,
struggling into fire.
Light wrapped around her senses
and clung, like wet paper.
Clench of eyes showed
red in her vision, and light
blew through. All while
pain of man got louder and louder
pawing through death silence
rougher than whispers.

And she was beside him. She felt
her hands along slope of his naked
shoulder. Along damp patterns of black
shinny hair. She squinted her eyes and looked
down.

It was him. He was on his
knees with his head bowed. "He
looks so beautiful" she thought. "Why
doesn't he look? I'm touching him.
Why doesn't he?"
But then she saw his hands.

Her eyes fell down
length of his arms. But flesh
stopped at wrist. His hands were
splintered as ash. They lay in grey
clusters on stone. He couldn't lift
his arms or hands would break
to pieces.

She fell on her knees and tried to
gather his hands into her own, but they
just crumbled and ash blew part.
Patterns of mist on floor.

He was crying; His breath in pants.
She was fumbling around on floor
trying to gather back dust.
But light was so strong. She felt
it burn away her eyes. Stench
of meat, smoldering in clean fire.

He was starting to scream.

V.

Sun was like angry hands.
Shafts of light broke and splintered
against skin of world. And there
was groaning and writhing of body;
Worn skin digging stones from pit
of world.

Stone quarry loomed with bodies
10,000 faces struggling. Pit
lay on edge of Hunger City.
Souls went naked in, gathering
slabs and lifting them free. Dust
choked vision like smoke.
Burning at fleshy lungs. And
above there was only bright glaring light
like angry hands, pounding on dust
like hammers.

And she was on outskirts, cleaning
rubble from path. Rough bruises
throbbing warmly on her knees.
Dust coated details of her body.
She blinked dryly and felt thirst
burn. Bones of earth were rough
and brutal and all while hunger
swelled tightly at her guts.

She bent her face and clenched her
eyes, tight emotions swelling in her
features. Dull ache, pounding her eyes.

She wanted to die.

Suddenly there was noise. It
flowed from pit. She
scrambled to her feet, clumsily.
They were coming. She looked around.
Path seemed clear. She slid to
edge and waited.

And sound grew stronger.
Rhythms of pant and struggle
crowding round tangled masses
of body and flesh. They were
getting louder. She could
feel presence and scent
of them. There was stillness.
Suddenly dust tore open
and shadows took form.

She could see them emerge
Row of men, maybe six across.
They were holding front of
some massive, carved stone,
as tall as each of them. And
on either side, more rows of men
struggled to move stone up path.
Ruined bodies, twisted like wire.
Muscles coiled down spine
of backs, clenched and rippling;
broken with dust.

And he was on edge of corner,
crying out. Blood sponging from
palms, leaving stains on roughness
of stone. His head was wet
against burden and his legs were
shaking and buckling. She saw him
stumble and fall to his knees. Others
cried out horribly, but stone
continued on. Slowly working it's way
up path and into bright, glaring
heat of city above.

He was tangled on path. Pale dust
stinging at his eyes. Soft blood
clinging like child to his fingers.
She ran and knelt beside him. When her
hands touched his shoulders, her cried out and
tried to pull away but there was no
strength. She could have stopped him
with single hand. He lay back on his
elbow, panting. She slid her skin
under his neck and pulled him gently
to shelter of her lap.


Her plain dress was dirty with
dust. Bone cavern of her
body clung loosely to her soul.
But her eyes were quiet now. And
her destiny safe from fear.

She took his hand and tended it.
Kissing palm and cleaning gently
with her breath. Blood gathered on
skin of her lips like stain. She cradled his
glance with smile.

He was slipping away. But he couldn't
close his eyes. His eyes were trapped
in vision of her.

He lifted his hand to her face. Touched
cheek with his fading fingers.

"She is so beautiful" He thought. He Opened
his mouth to tell her, but it was only
empty gestures. He had lost his breath.
All he had was flesh and fire of his mind

She leaned close. Touched her cheek
against his. Skin felt worn
and smooth, as it had against her eyes.
It lingered like breath against her soul.

And then her mouth closed over his.
And copper musk of blood savored
down their tongues. It swelled, like
passion in pit of her mouth. She
pressing closer, hungry for more. But
there was nothing left. Light was
running out of him. Water of self
draining cold into pit of eternity

He closed his eyes. Flutter of wings
gathering dust of his soul. Brief vision
light on deep wet grass. Wind on
coolness of skin. Sound of laughter.
Girl with long hair pressing close.
Kissing on river, smiling.

VI.

Sky was dark. Moon was
faceless head dragging into
black sea mother of sky.
Cool wind fluttered softly
through city, like soft hands
lingering over skin of world.
Heat burned still, in stones of
city core. But she was at peace.

Watching.

Drifting in cool water. Stone basin
of drinking pool. It was just deep enough
to lap over curve of naked shoulders.
Her face was just above skin of it,
dripping clean with fresh water. Faceless
mouth on red wall spit currents
of wet and mud.

Tiny fishes circled round her body.
They darted close then pulled away.
She felt them gathering in schools
under hem of her dress.

She should not be there.
Dangerous. If they found her, she
would be dragged through streets.
Her body would be chained and left
naked for dogs. They would curse
her and want her to suffer. But she was
untouched.

Lightness of spirit tingled
over her senses. She felt giddiness
in half bent curves of her
poor tired body.

And then she laughed.
Laughed and laughed and laughed.

And laughter echoed down
hill, staining all corridors
and dust pained endless of
thirst. And angry chorus of daemons
on Mood Hill. Laughter. Ran fingers
down black flesh of marble-smooth
coolness of sky. Powder clean mess of
stars. Into windows and death painted
cradles of sleep. Need. Worn bodies
tangling desperately in dark nests of
brutish life.

But all this was beyond her understanding.
She went silent. Silent as feathers.
Silent as dead whispers. Moon loomed
calmly above. It puddled in cups of her
eyes. She was afraid to blink, for fear it
would go away. Soft as velvet blankets
it seemed to her. Gentle tangles of light
and blue melody. It held her close
and cuddled round rims of her soul.

And she was going. Lifting away from
herself. Like vision of light being torn
from dream. Only soft and warm and gentle.
Pulling, quiet as child. It gathered her well
and led her upwards. From heat of world.

Home.

End


Billy Milligan

by

Patrick Fleming



Lived Billy Milligan
Milligan's Fair
yon
Milligan's Fairy Row.
His skin worn
shades a
distant
tasty pudding-like
purple. Moonlike rubbed
flickeringly white in the
candle shade misery.

His face was slightly
longer
than expected.
Strainy bagpipe, rattle-clip eyes,
blue whistle-quick, tongue-like
dumb porridge graves.

And where the lovely fingers?
The marble plainted eyes?
Ash!
How he loved old Marigold.
That empty hive of
girlish justice.
She was a
funny.
A long white dress,
a silver bird,
muddle berry tongue
chime.

He muddled her on a beach
in the middle of dead winter in
one long drink.
Cigarette toasted lung, a
cigar white fingerclip on the
edge of her
otherness.
Her lips were
wet and red when she
fell on that
white sea
laughingishly
While all around the
bird white sea
sighed
strange. Crazy with the poor
poor impotent rain.

I was in love with her
too, you see.
She frightened me.
I was afraid to even
look at myself. Left alone.
Poor even.
All alone and
misdiagnosed.
We forget sometimes
the necessity of the stuff.
Even one cup.
A handfull of intentions,
a tongue of
blisterded
needs.
Even one
heavenly
poke

in the stain.

I remember the moment
I woke up with
Marigold
in my bed.
She was petal naked
and spread out
like a blanket.
I said
"Why are you doing this?"
"Where did you come from?"
"Why are you naked?"

There's a thousand images
I never figured out.
She never came back to
let me.

I went to the wedding.
Sometimes I'd see them
there on the street
twisting together like
flower stems.
Lingering like
frustrated Marigolds do.
And then there was just
isolation.
The dirty stench of wet eyelids.
Long wet distances of time,
ungraven.

Mr. Milligan
never knew what it was
like to see
lonely.
He'd sacrifice anything
for a poke in the road.
A Marigold.
One last thrust.
A blustery sun was he.
But I was only
weeds.
A cup of tease.
A hole to cry in.
Billy Milligan

The bastard.


Rising Tide of Emotion

by

Patrick Fleming

Once there was a sad woman with warm eyes and long, long hair. She lived in a crowded place, but always felt alone. She thought the world was beautiful, but something inside always kept her separate.

She loved to look. To watch the world and dream. And her emotions would gather round the light of her eyes and whisper to her. Telling her secrets and making her smile.

One day, the world decided to play a trick on her. It moved her eyes to the palms of her hands and made it so she could only see the things that she touched.

She was frightened. She did not know what to do. So she hid inside herself and curled into a dark, dark corner.

But her emotions grew angry. They cursed and blamed her for the darkness. They demanded she reach out. Somewhere. Somehow. Anything was better than being alone.

She was trapped. No one to turn to. No one who understood.

She clenched her eyes tightly to her face and cried. The tears ran from her palms and down the length of her soft, warm fingers. Eventually she fell into a deep sleep.

Her emotions came to her - each one carrying some kind burden. One by one they laid these burdens at her feet and cursed her. The burdens stacked so tall she could barely move.

Finally there was only one last emotion. It stood before her quietly. It was dressed in plain simple understanding and looked at her with warm, caring eyes. It pushed away the burdens and led her to a quiet safe place. And as she followed this emotion and let it grow inside her, the burdens and unhappiness fell away. A window opened in her soul and she was at peace.

The other emotions stood in a circle around her, smiling softly and watching her, with love. But the true emotion, the best emotion of all - stood directly in front of her; unmoving. Untouched.

She reached her arms out to embrace it, but her arms struck glass. And as the other emotions drew close and wrapped warmly around her in a blanket of love and understanding - she realized what had saved her; it was a mirror.


Boo-Boo Kitty

by

Patrick Fleming


I.

Boo-Boo Kitty lived in a box under a bridge by the river with her Mother and her poor, poor sick aunt. But Boo-Boo kitty wasn't a Kitty at all. She was a rag doll with brass button eyes and a pretty burlap body. She was sewed together with bright yellow string and hand long blue cotton hair.

One day Boo-Boo Kitty found a dollar by the side of the river bank. She was very excited. She picked it up at once and put it in her pocket. She decided she would take it to the store and buy some candy bars.

So off she went. The store was on the other side of the forest. There was a big wide path that lead directly through. It was a bright, sunlit sort of a day. She whistled loudly and smiled as she walked.

But the birds were clever that day. They saw her walking through the forest and began to dive and pick at her. She screamed and waved her arms wildly.

"Stop it!" she cried "Leave me alone!" But the birds would not. They cried

"Caw!" they cried "What pretty yellow threads you have. Give it to us! We will use them to bind our nests and make it safe for the young."

"No!" she cried "Mine! You can't have it" But the birds cried

"Caw! Give it us!"

"But" She stammered "But, I will die." To which the birds replied.

"So shall we all." And they swarmed down on her.

Well Boo-Boo Kitty was terrified. She screamed again and waved her hands wildly, but it had no effect on the birds. Finally she closed her eyes and started to run. She ran and ran and ran. Right off the path and into the forest.

At first the birds pursued, but soon the forest became strange with thick tangled branches and dark wood shadows. They swerved away and went back to the forest path in search of insects and paper children.

But Boo-Boo Kitty ran. She ran and ran and ran, lint tears running softly from her eyes. Little cloth lungs panting and panting. Till finally she collapsed in a pile on the mud floor forest.

For a long while she just lay. Panting quietly and clutching her arms tightly round herself. At any minute she expected the birds to descend. But all was quiet. Finally she opened her eyes and looked around.

The sky was strange with trees and the ground, tangled with unknown flowers. Boo-Boo Kitty gasped; she didn't know where she was. She jumped up and darted her eyes around her. Everything was different and strange.

She was lost!

II.

In a hole, in the bottom of a small tree lived a Monster. But it was not a very big hole because he was not a very big monster. In fact he was no bigger than a rabbit.

When he was young the other Monsters would tease and laugh at him. Calling him bad little names and making him angry. He would yell and scream back at them in a monstrous way. But this did no good because, the more he got angry, the more they laughed and tried to hurt him. So he wandered alone and learned to be a Monster by himself.

This was all very long ago. For he was very, very old. All the Monsters of his childhood were dead now. He lived quietly and smugly on his own.

One of the Monsters chief pleasures was smoking. He had a dark metal pipe with wide, dirty bowl and smooth leather piping. He would fill it with black dirt, smoke quietly and brood. It made deep, heavy green smoke that was wonderful for smoke rings. But the dirt smoke was so heavy, it didn't float up but sank slowly to the forest floor.

Sometimes the ground all around would be covered in heavy rings that shifted and smoked together there.

So this was what happened Boo-Boo Kitty came wandering along.

She was in a panic. She had never been so alone before. The forest seemed to weave and wander around her. No matter where she looked or which was she walked it all seemed strange and unwelcome.

Finally, as the sun rose just shy of the noon she stopped and collapsed against a tree. She cried and cried and cried. This was the Monsters tree, of course and he listened in quiet pleasure. Monsters love the sound of tears and crying children above all else. But he knew he should be careful. At least for now.

"Why, what is the matter, child?" His voice was smooth, like velvet. It fell softly against the burlap sadness and lifted her up.

"I..." she started "I'm lost. The birds were chasing me and I ran but they kept chasing and now I'm lost and I don't know what to do."

The Monster smiled in understandingly.

"I see" He said "Well that is horrible" He nodded sympathetically then said "Come. Dry your buttons and sit with me a while. I was about to have a nice smoke. Would you like some?" he asked holding out the pipe. Boo-Boo kitty felt comforted but shook her head, no.

The Monster shrugged and sat on the ground. He grabbed a good pinch of dirt from the ground and dropped it into the pipe. Then he snapped his fingers and - BANG! a small flame appeared above the dirt. He sucked the smoke in deeply and breathed out a huge, dark ring. It settled slowly onto the ground in front of him and shivered quietly. For a while Boo-Boo Kitty just stared in wonder and so her fear was forgotten.

"So" the Monster said finally "Perhaps I can help you. Where do you come from and what is your name?" Boo-Boo kitty told him at once and he knodded his head.

"I see." he said "Well that is not very far at all."

Boo-Boo Kitty was very excited. She jumped to her feet at once. But the Monster was sly and quiet.

"Yes" he said "Not very far at all." But he sounded almost weary when he said it "I would take you at once, except well, I have a small problem."

"What?" Asked Boo-Boo Kitty

"Well let me show you" And the Monster got up and shambled into his little tree hole. When he came out he was holding an old, dark trench coat. At first Boo-Boo kitty was confused but then she saw two of the brass buttons were missing. He sighed sadly

"Yes, yes" he sighed "And it's such a long way. I could not possibly make such a trip without a good coat to keep me warm" But again, she was confused

"Well what can I do?" She felt strangely uncomfortable as he looked up at her. For a moment she thought she was looking at a serpent eyes, but his voice was soft and comforting as ever.

"Oh" He said " Don't you know, all I need is a couple buttons. Even 2 simple brass ones would do." He looked at her button eyes. She realized what he wanted. She backed away but he was looking hard into her eyes

"Come child" He said "Give me your eyes. Just for a little while."

She stepped back stammering "No..." She cried out "No. I..."

"yessss" He hissed moving towards her "You Mussst. I tell you what. lend them to me. I promise to give them back when I'm done with them" He lifted his arms as his hands reached out to grab her.

She turned to run, but suddenly stumbled over something. It was the smoke ring. It tangled round her feet and tripped her up. She fell with a hard crash as the smoke billowed around her.

The Monster was coming at her. But his bones were old and his walk, slow. The smoke clung to her like rough hands and seemed to drag her down, but she was young and nimble and very afraid. She got up and began running. All the while the Monster was yelling and cursing after her

"Come back here you little fool! " he said "Curse your eyes! Come back or I shall throw a curse on you and which will shrivel you to dust! " Lucky for Boo-Boo Kitty he was a liar and a fraud. But she didn't know that.

So she was running again. Blindly at that. The trees and branches whipped against her burlap legs and shoulders. But she was so frightened she just ran and ran and ran.

III.

When finally she stopped it was almost dark. The forest seemed to swirl and seethe around her. The cricks and the creaks of the forest creatures chattered all around her. The wind in the branches gave a wonderful hushing shhhhh.

But Boo-Boo kitty was tired. More tired than she had ever been in her small burlap life. She found a nice quiet corner by a trees with a nice soft pile of fresh dried leaves. She threw herself down immediately and closed her eyes. But just as quickly she was thrown off

"Hey!" a voice cried "What do you think you're doing?"

"What?" She said, confused. Her eyes searched the shadows, but there was no one there.

"Yeah you!" It yelled again "This is my spot. Find your own place, you thief. Now, PUSH OFF!"

Boo-Boo Kitty was confused. but then she suddenly realized - it was the Shadow. She was talking to the shadow.

"But..."She stammered "But I only want to..."

"You only want to nothing" He picked up a handful of leaves and threw them at her. They hit her wetly in the face "This is my spot, see? Now get out of here before my friend here teaches you a lesson." And at that the big tree above her began to shake and quiver. Big branches twisted and leaned roughly back and forth, sending a storm of branch twigs, leaves and old acorns hailing down on her.

Boo-Boo Kitty was at a loss. She was so tired and frightened. She turned and backed away. But everywhere she went things were yelling at her. She bumped into another tree and it threw apples at her. She stepped into a hole and it spit water at her. When she accidentally walked over a flower, the grass, bushes and a group of yellow Dandelions rose around her in a screaming chorus, demanding her head and hissing, hatefully.

And so she wandered. Aimlessly and in despair. She would die out here, she thought. She would never see her Mother or her Poor, poor aunt again.

Finally around midnight she heard the sound of water. It was the River of course. But she was too tired to think about it. She walked out onto the moonlit sand by the slow stupid river and fell quietly to sleep.

IV.

When she woke up, it was almost noon. Boo-Boo Kitty lay in a curled ball on the sand. She was pouting you see. But she was also very sad. She could not bear the thought of another day alone in that forest. But then she heard a sound. Someone was walking along the beach behind her. She rolled over and sprang to her feet at once, ready for anything. But then she stopped and laughed.

It was her Mother. She was taking her poor, poor Aunt for a short walk along the beach. They smiled when they saw her and Boo-Boo kitty laughed, dusted herself off and ran over to meet them


Shannon

by

Patrick Fleming

I.

Branches swayed in an echoing hush of
leaf green and slender brown
shadow form. The faceless smudge
of memory-night took shape and spread
itself, tangled on the riverbed.

Trunks stretched, like half buried bodies
straining up the mud black sky, while
stars - concousness dissolving in a
flurry of dark green, slender twig branch
form and wistful twig brown memory: Stars
breathed gently on the
senses of the world.

And the trees loomed.
They gathered together on
slopes of grass and held each other
in drunken leans. Wind
blew through like a breath of whispers
till the hush and the rhythm of
everything just swayed.
Creaking of branches in the cauldron
of the forest heights.

The moon glowed through the
powder of the clouds. And the clouds
drifted patterns on the cool
smooth river skin. Black night echoed
down-root, smudging textures of
scatter and silence.

It was a quiet nothing place:
Scent of water.
Smooth presence of night.
A handful of grass
clinging in the hill shadows.
Memories stirring in mud
press. Half opened.
Vaguely aware.

Fog gathered,
soaking textures
like water.
But something else stirred in the mud there.
Some kind of presence was waking.
Needing.
Gathering of will in the
foggy grassline.

And what was it's name? What
was it doing there? What did
it look like? When it leaned up,
could you see the impression of it's
slender hand in the grass?

It searched it's memory and looked
around. A sort of sadness lingered
between the lense and the eye and the world.
A sad woman with scars on her soul.
Memories bruised from rough handling.
Fear Lonely - Emotions pressed like
daggers on the newborn flesh of its
mind. Twisting it. Holding its face
into the pain. Till it just pulled away and
hid itself in silence.

It.

She.

She looked around. The
world looked back. The
tall chorus of trees bent
and swayed.
A flutter of wind in the
wetness of the summer grass.
Moon shining on the edges of everything
Laying, like sex across the river.

It was a dark green, shadow
of a world.
A melancholy texture, gathering
in the concept of her eyes.

She rose up and moved to the river.
The river gurgled there
beneath. She felt a pain of something dark
pinch at her, subtly. But only pretty light
glittered beneath. The slow
rhythm of wetness lapped
coolly with light and velvet reflection.
She wanted to laugh. To
cry out and scream.
But it made her feel wrong
somehow. She should be sad
and silent. The thought of
laughing felt wrong.
But something else was tugging
at her. Something in the green
of the shadow.

She opened her soul
and pushed her way into the world.



II.

She could not see herself in the river.
There was no pretty white skin.
No girlish eyes. No soft of
body. The memory of hair was like
a shadow. The memory of fingertips,
numb. She saw a soft white dress,
naked shoulders and a pattern
of red beads, strung loosely round her
neck. She saw soft black hair
laying warmly cross her shoulder
in the bright and the cool of the
high autumn sun.

But she felt removed.
Memory in the absence of sunlight.
A trace of wetness in the skin of the
grass. The scent of teardrops wandering
slowly down. Till there was only the
grass, and the wetness and the
memory of pain.

Loss.

She remembered a body.
Where was her body?



III

When she was little, her mother
would stand
behind her in the mirror
in her bedroom in the yellow
bare candle light and
stroke long smooth fingers
gently down the shadowy
braids of her dark, dark hair.
She called her Shannon and told
her she was beautiful.

She would tell her stories about
her childhood in the green wood
river house and the bright ancient
childhood sun window where she
was born The images would echo
from her memory, tumbling out
Shannon would smile and lean inward
against her soul and watch herself
smiling in the soft of the glass and
the yellow of the candle flame.

Light felt nice against her senses.
Colors seemed to puddle
on the mirror glass in patterns.
They felt wet and cool against the
skin of her small eyes.
She would sigh and lean
against the strokes of the brush
feeling warm and happy.
Memories of her mother
humming quietly in her mind.

The image touched her quickly
like a cigarette.
Her senses jumped and she fell
into a panic.

The wind pressed hard
against the branches. Leaves hissed
and rattled, great arms swaying
and brushing cross the sky. Trees
seemed like great bodies, stretching
up. Branches swaying and drifting in
rhythms as the trunks creaked and moaned
like pagans
clutching at the Goddess of the
lonely night sky

It was almost midnight.

Something was pulling at her
through the wind. Unseen fingers.
Presence of will. She was drifting,
but she didn't want to go.

She was afraid to leave the river
She shivered sadly because she knew;
it was gone. They had taken her
body away somewhere, but
they forgotten her.
They left her wet and lonely on the grass.
If she had a body
she could warm herself.
If she had eyes she could
cry all that loneliness out of her.
If she had hands
she could wrap them round
with pretty fingers and pray.
But she didn't.

She was alone.

She fumbled vainly for some lingering
trace of warmth. Some
thing to hold and know as real.

Shannon remembered long dark hair
pale skin and dark green eyes. She
remembered red smudges on the
rim of her lips. Little girl scars
on her knees. Indian Red, beaded
round her neck. Naked toes. The
warmth of cotton, stretching closely
to her body. Leather sandals. Sadness
gathering in the whim of her soul.

She was moving west now. The
dream of memories clouding out
reality. The flesh of the trees and fog
blowing through her. The smooth
cauldron of stars in a gleaming
daze. Scent of wood smoke
drifting warmly through the forest.

She looked around.

The river was gone.
She was alone in a cavern of
trees. The night drifting round her
like water in a dark pool.

Panic seized her again. She
wanted to run. To scream.
Flood through the forest like fire
But she was frozen in place.
All the while the scent of smoke
swirled round her. Cuddling
close to her senses.

There was a flash. A
crackling of wood in the
heat of a small fire. Red glitters
of spark and flame swirling in
currents of smoke-grey air.
Up. Into the patterns and
shimmering starlight.

She could see it clearly now.
Bright flames licking wetly
round the wood. Fingers of light
reaching out to her through the
dark and the tangle of the
forest black shadows.

She pinched her senses tightly and
moved forward to meet it.




IV.

She was not an old woman. But
her body was broken and her skin
tired. The curve and pinch of her
eyes wrinkled darkly in the half worn
brutal of her face. The brittle thin
tangle of her fingers felt rough and
well used. No one had touched that
skin since her mother when she was
soft and childish. Her mind was
a hot wet thing but her body was a
barren shadowy stone. Long wasted
by the abuses of her soul.

And her soul was in command.
It held sway over her senses, driving
them like pack dogs.

A sensual dominant mind laid bare
before the anger and fire of her
massive self. She spilled out
into the sensual world and the world
tore open, exposing everything.

Muttering sharply to the heat
of the broken fire, the flames
whispered back, licking sweetly
round the char-black wood and tangled
ashes like bodies of small flesh.
Gatherings of naked souls sent up
from ground heat and laid out like
skin on the bare dirt alter of her small
plain wooden fire. Smoke seethed
like blood over the flutter black of
the sky while the wood whined
and spit fitfully, like the cursing
and the grumble of angry dogs.
And the anger swirled round her
like so much naked shadow. But
the shadows held messages and
the messages were dark.

Who was she?
By what name did she call herself?
Long nights full of furtive whispering
and endless ritual isolation;
lonely fleshless and tangled longing.
Words spilled from her animal mind
filling spaces in her soul with need and
love but that only made her soul angry. Lashing
out punishing the thoughts with tears and
self hatred, punishing them for the weakness
of self love. Till finally the animal was
broken and the soul was everything.

Her animal reality was leashed; laid
bare and broken.

Her soul was in command. it smoldered
like the heat of a cold fire and
forced itself angry down the
legs of the world.

V.

When Shannon moved close she
saw a simple wood fire with an old
woman, bent close on a smooth dark
stone. Her shoulders were naked
and pale and her hair a writhing mass.
It was tangled with branches and
grey leaves. A single handful of red
petals scattered over the smooth of
her shoulders. A rude brown length
of fabric, pulled close and tied at
the waist

Her fists were clenched and her head,
tilted. She was mumbling guttural and
rocking slowly back and forth. The
words felt strange to Shannon. Like
fingers of sound, coaxing into her in
slow vibrations. Pulling her close. Not
like a magnet, more like a current
of vacuum, grappling into her and
pulling her slowly close. She felt the hot
presence of the woman like a
monster of energy: feeding; hungry.
Broken rhythms clutching out at the world.

And all the while the sound continued.
The dark words grappling her like fish
hooks, squeezing her like black ivy.
She felt the heat pressing in. The image
of tears flashed over her mind
from the pit of her memory core. The
memory of screaming clawing over her
senses like needles. The image of red
fingers, pinned tightly to the cold floor
of the stone room. She was starting to burn

"ASH!" A hand slapped hard
through the air and Shannon was thrown
to the trees. "Stop!" the woman was
looking . The dark rim of eyes fixed
hard on the shadows. A trace quiver in her
fingers clutching the dirt and the bones
of the ground.

"Ash!" She cried and flung a handful
of dirt at Shannon "Ash! Get away.
Into the ground. Find your grave"
She stood up and faced angrily. The
animal pant surging through her form. But
suddenly she stopped. She pinched her eyes
and leaned forward. Shannon felt naked.
The memory of fear lifted in between her
senses and the world.

"Ash" she said, only gently now. "Ash"
like she was approaching and angry dog
or a frightened child. Gentle and soft,
her current of warmth blew like the subtlest
of smoke. It lapped warmly round Shannon,
snuggling her tightly like a
blanket. A pair of warm arms. They pulled her
over the spaces and wrapped her closely
to the woman by the fire. And Shannon felt
herself open at the core and the images
flooded out. But they came hot
and impenetrable. She struggled and whined
like a pinned animal, but the imaged kept
flooding as the fabrics of her being pulled
and unraveled inside. The woman muttered.
She grunted and weaved, tears running
wetly from her till
finally she cried out and opened her arms.
Shannon fell in shatters and bits on
the ground. Memories gathering round her
like puddles

The woman turned away and fell roughly
onto the stone again. Shannon huddled
close to herself. Half broken awareness
coming slowly back to her senses. The
Woman hummed softly. The words fell
calm and harmless against her now. Like
a lullaby from another room; unintended
and just out of reach. She curled
quietly together and stared at the flame
heat. But the voice changed and directed
itself at Shannon

"Go" She whispered "Find your grave. There
is only emptiness for you here. Find your grave.
You remember, don't you ?" The words punctured
into her and all at once everything changed
She felt the memory of stone walls with
brightly colored glass and stone basins
full of cool clean water. The sound of
voices in church pews.

She was drifting west again. Over the black
and the shadow of the dirty wood tangle.
The stars wheeling quietly over. The fingers
of shadowy treetops, swaying gently and
lonely above.

She remembered a tall man in white robes
with strong hands and gentle eyes. She
remembered the shadow of the crucifix
and the way he seemed to look into her.

The trees parted. She drifted loosely up
sloped curves of grass. Away in the
distance a little valley of houses glimmered
softly in the press of the earth and the
clustering night shadows. The wind felt
brisk and cool, touching sharply through
the senses.

She was thinking of a church when suddenly
she stopped. She felt rooted to the
ground somehow. She looked up and fell
The memory of fingers clutching the cool,
roughness of the grass.

The church loomed above her there. Fingers
of ivy pressing into the cracks and the dirty
textures of stone. The window was broken
and open to the rain. The roof was split with
age and left bare to the wetness and the
ravage of the world.

Shannon looked around.

She was standing in a graveyard.

VI.

The wind was blowing hard now
But Shannon was rooted in place.
The shadow presence of stone
leaning over her in a Gothic blackness.
The presence of the grave
trees tangling smoothly, with the
shadowy church walls. They leaned
together like drunken bodies and
teetered under the vault black sky.

The grass was wet with moonlight
If she'd had hair it would have been
fluttering. If she had skin it would
have been pale and lovely. But
she was nothing. Poor fragments
of memory being blown in the
circle of church grass, rooted to
the ground like stone, senses all
hot and shaken from the memory
of death. Pain. Emotions
pressed like daggers. Only now
she could not pull away.

The flicker of sunlight in yesterdays
window. Standing on a polished stone
church isle. White robes looking
on the foundation alter

A broken bell jangled on the door
it pulled her awareness and filled her
with form. She felt it's memory as a
shiny brass glow in the mid afternoon
autumn long ago.

She'd followed him into the church
that day and stood behind him after
everyone was gone. A tall man
in white robes with strong hands
and gentle eyes.

"You remember, don't you?"

She felt his eyes penetrating into
her, even with his black turned
She felt his presence in her dreams,
fingers cradling her soul.

She was in love.

The ground was soft beneath her. The
wind swirling round her in
a devil's dance. It pulled her slowly
back then down.

She was on her knees before him. Holding
the hem of his robes to her lips. She told him
everything. He tried to speak but she was
elemental. She felt him. The way he looked at
her. She knew what he wanted. She wanted it
too. He had come to her in her dreams. She would
love him forever and always.

He tried to speak but she rattled on and on.
She wanted to touch him. To be with him
before God. She would love him forever.

He was going to lift her up.
He was going to kiss her.
She would have done anything.
She closed her eyes and wrapped her
arms around his legs and signed.
But then, everything changed.

He pushed her back. Gentle eyes
gone grey with anger. He stood
over her, with a clenched fist and
a hatred in his eyes.

Her hand was bleeding where he
threw her down. And her eyes were
wet where he punished her with shame.
Her soul was bruised as if he'd slapped
it hard with and left it hard there
to bleed.

He should have understood
But he was just yelling
He was casting her out. calling her
cheap and whore punishing her with
foul angry tones

How dare you? He demanded
bible in his hand How dare you
defile this holy place with lust
and cheap desire? Get out! he yelled

GET OUT!!

And she was running. And the tears
and pain flooded through her, swelling
the cavern of her soul with bitterness and
despair. She ran. Though the forest, small
feet getting dirty in the rough grass. Small body
wracked with pain

She ran.

And there by the river, she threw herself on to
the Autumn grass. Clenching her fingers into the
wetness of the cold earth. Crying her memories
into the mud, Hating herself for crying and pushing
away every part of her that was soft and gentle
till she was just drained and the cavern of her
soul was dark and poor and there was only sadness.
Deep unyielding sadness. She tore at her wrists.
Pulled at her eyes. Pounded her face on the cold bare
mid autumn sky.

And when the cradle of the river pulled over her
cold wet arms held her close
and the water burned into her senses
till all that was left was the small ruined skin,
the memory of sadness and the warm, soft
reality of sleep.

VII.

She was there in the graveyard. Pounding herself
in the grass of the yard. The big shadows of the
church night had lifted.
If she'd had eyes she would have
cried all that loneliness out of her. But it
was unnecessary; it was slipping away
all on its own.

The ground felt strange beneath her. Warm
with presence and silence. She was not alone.
A voice seemed to call to her. Drifting up through
the soft earth feathery with longing.
She felt her presence leaning into the ground.
At first it frightened her, but the song went on
sweet and coaxing. Warm with understanding.
The voice of her soul. She suddenly became
aware of the stone.

It was pale marble and cracked with age.
But the moon feel whitely across it and she
read clearly;


"Shannon Bohley
Poor child of sadness.
Death is but a beginning
For in that final judgement
the joyful dead shall rise
and all shall be made clear."


And as the name filled her awareness, her
senses went numb and calm. A warmth of
silence flooded through her. She felt her
body now, lonely in the ground beneath
Loneliness of soul crying out to her
Pulling her close and welcoming her
home.

And for a moment the sky was long ago
the high coolness of the early autumn
sun fell softly on her pretty small features
and scattered into the beauty of the world.
She walked along the Abbey road
soft smile on her face and the
softest of loves, being cradled in the
gentle and the lonely of her
dark young soul.