Monday, July 28, 2008

Jones & Ginger.

Jones
was a mute
and a drummer
in a rock band.

Jones could
drum
a berserker
beat a viking
rhythm that
mo'fo got
mojo they'd say
as the spray
of sweat hit
the front row
and the whole
damn band
turned to face him
with the crowd
rocking the
best seats in the house
to watch that bastard
burn.

Boom
buppa
boom
ba!

He was
pretty popular
with the ladies
though
mostly
they didn't know
he was mute
so they'd talk at
him as he sat
at the bar
smoking
and they'd
be thinking
god, he's so
(annoying, why won't he talk to me?
he thinks he's so...)
hot.

Sure he took some
home he was Jones
he was a drummer
he couldn't scream
out at them but
he could
release them
without a single word
just timing man
just
timing
and rhythm.

Afterwards he'd
go back to his drums
boom
ba
ba boom
boom ba
and
those girls would
see him later
in the light of day
and the special
he gave them
had gone
replaced by -
I wonder what
the Hell
I ever saw
in him.

Anyway that
was few years back
now, before
he met
Ginger.

The first
thing Ginger ever
said to Jones
when she found out
he was a mute
was
good, I hate
having to tell
people to
shut up
which made him smile
which made her smile
back
she liked that
he laughed with her
and made her purr
and he liked that she
was disguising
a vulnerability
and sensitivity
and a skull tattoo
on her
inner thigh.

Man,
it was a real
rock n' roll
wedding
let me tell ya
I can remember
it so clearly
there was tartan
and gingham
and ear rings and skin
tight jeans and mohawks
and converse and gin
the kiss the bride was
a dirty pash
the priest was
dressed as Johnny Cash
and everyone there
enjoyed
a dance with the
bride
or groom
or both
I mean
hey baby
c'mon
we're all friends here
you know it
high five
Hell yeah
woo
alright.

I remember
we all stood on the
steps
of the old church
and waved goodbye to
that '53 Cadillac
black of course
and they never waved
back
just stared
at each other as they
drove away couldn't
keep their hands
off each other and
I remember thinkin'
that's real
those two
they got it bad
they got it good
and maybe
that's why the
Big Guy
upstairs let them
turn
the
corner
and drive some
before the
boom
crash and
bang
so that
all of us
on the stairs
didn't have to see
what really happened
we got to
watch
our version
of
The End
and keep the
image of a
true romance
sunset
that those two
had left
behind.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Henry.

Henry was a
compulsive liar
who made up
stories all the time
because he didn't
feel so great about
where he was in life.

He would
tell his friends
how he had been
in Disneyland
just the other week
even though
they all
knew
he had actually
driven himself
to Club Yarrawonga.

He had the sticker
on the back of his car.

Stay longer
at Club Yarrawonga!

When his friends
asked him why he
hadn't
settled down
found a good woman
bought a house
had some kids
planned
for
the future
Henry would tell
them how the
dangerous nature
of his work
meant he had
to keep his emotional
ties to a minimum
couldn't put
others at risk
needed to be able
to pack up at any minute
ready for his next
death defying
assignment.

His friends all knew that
Henry repaired
photo copiers
yet they humoured
him for Henry was at
heart a good man
just a little lost
a little different
a little
sad.

They knew that
Henry worked a dreary
day amongst the grey
cattle of the concrete
tombstones
knew that he could barely
afford his one bedroom
apartment knew that he
kept a pet
a yellow
canary in a large cage
by his lounge room
window and that he
called it Hope and spent
most of his nights
alone sitting in his
armchair and talking with
Hope about how one day
things might be different.

Henry would place
his finger in between
the bars of Hope's cage
and wriggle it a little
and Hope would
spring close and nibble
the skin and nail
and they were the best
of friends
and Henry
would tell Hope
the tales
of lost
bored
depression
and the
little yellow bird
never judged him.

One day Henry
lost his job
couldn't keep up
with the rent
didn't want to ask
his friends for help
so he told them he'd
been transferred
interstate
and sold his possessions
not much but he
got enough for
an old station wagon
which would do
for a house
and just drove
north to
nowhere in particular
with Hope sitting
in his cage
in the back seat
singing.

A few days out
they passed a woman
crying by the side of the
highway and so Henry
pulled over and talked
to her for a while
turned out her husband
had left her
taken her money
she'd had to move out
couldn't keep up
the payments the bank
was shutting her down
her whole life
taken from her
that's the way it is
sometimes she said
but she'd had enough
of the world
so she'd decided to just
sit and cry as the
world drove by.

Henry said
trust me
I understand
and he held out
his hand
and she took it and
they sat on the
warmth of the bonnet
under the night
and the lights of the
cars lit their faces
as they talked
and they saw something
in each other
a spirit maybe
or just a friend.

There was no moon
that night
just cars and stars
and the stories
they told
and Henry didn't
lie
not once
he just told her how
he thought
he was nothing
really
and didn't want to
burden anyone
and how he'd
packed up and left
and he didn't know
where he was going
and that the only
thing that mattered
to him was his little
yellow canary.

She thought that
was beautiful
and they kissed
a gentle kiss
right there
on the highway
two of the lost
with no money
in their pockets
no plan for the future
nowhere to go
just a tank full of gas
and the clothes on their
backs
and as they
held each other
close
they could hear
from the backseat
the
bright
song
of a
tiny
yellow bird
called
Hope.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jemimah.

Jemimah stood
barefoot
amongst the grass
on the hill
in the paddock
and let the cotton
of wind kiss and
tickle the hairs
which stood to
attention along her
arms, beside the
goosebumps and
between the freckles.

From here
she could see the
mother curves of
the earth rollercoaster
into the distance
where tall masculine
mountains stood
as stern grey haired
guards on the horizon.

Jemimah was
eighteen years old
just yesterday and
had celebrated with
a single cupcake
and her cat,
Inky.

The party
had taken place
on the swinging floral
Love Seat which hung
on the front verandah
and Jemimah had let
her thoughts meander
as she absently
scratched Inky
behind the ears.

Her house.

This was her house now.

Her big empty house.

She missed them.

She missed the
way her mother had
sung to herself
a nameless tune
as she baked the
bread in the morning.

Every morning.

She missed the noise
her father's boots had
made as he clomped
and stomped the mud
from beneath the soles
and the way he smelled
of burnt tobacco and
fresh pine needles.

She missed the way they
had laughed, and the looks
they had shared
with each other, the
secrets of the other
they held dear, the
gentle sighing of their
bed which only ever
breathed softly in the
darkest moments of the night
as though they were
too polite to let their
only daughter hear the
intimate melody of
their lovemaking.

Her father's voice
from gruff and gravel
to soft and level
a chasm of depth

a bleeding death

as under the tractor
they both called out to her
not for help

but for her to be strong

as she stood helpless and watched
as they reached across the void
to touch each other's
hand as they passed
together and smiled
they smiled
and closed their eyes
and then she stood
alone.

And she never cried.

Not then,

not ever.

But days like today
she would stand
amongst the
grass on the hill
in the paddock
and let the cotton
of wind kiss and
tickle the hairs
which stood to
attention along her
arms, beside the
goosebumps and
between the freckles.

And
she could see her
mother's curves in
the earth
roll
into the distance
where her father
the
mountain stood
as a stern grey haired
guard on the horizon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Zen.

One night last February
Milo and Miranda
sat quietly drinking
in a small bar
just down the road
from their house.

It was the 27th
and with only
two nights before
the change of season
they could both taste
the memory
that summer's kiss had
left faded on their lips
as they toasted the
soft sadness and lonely
plans that they
as dreamers
had left behind
lost in the sand
beneath the sun
buried as tiny toes
wriggled deep
into the contentment
of languid lazy
days.

Autumn creeped
and shadowed outside
as ballerinas of
rain tumbled and span
an erratic dance in the
golden glow
of the street lamps
and puddled the
pavement in silver
pools.

Miranda drank
Tequila mixed
with
orange
a subtle
salute to the past
and Milo
a red wine
a greeting perhaps
to the winter days
which beckoned.

The bar was full
for a Thursday
but there was little noise
save the whispering
of lovers who leaned
over the tables to talk
and Milo pointed
out to Miranda how
beautiful everyone
looked as they kissed
and the tabletop candles
illuminated them
below the chin
as daffodils.

Everyone here likes
butter,
Miranda said and
her eyes sparked
with the reflection of the
flames as they both
smiled at the innocent memory
of their childhood.

Maybe I should write
about that,
thought Milo,
remembering the
days of freeing seedlings
with his breath
and the smell of
manure and mud,
snakes and paddocks
and ladders which led
to the heights of the haystacks.

I know that look,
said Miranda,
you're trying to write
aren't you?

Milo sighed
a sigh which
for a moment
made
the candle switch from
waltz to samba.

I am,
he said,
but I'm lost
at the moment -
I've lost the words
which hold the moments
the flow which makes the
dreams morph real the weight
which grounds the fantastical and the
truth which keeps everything transparent.

And,
he said,
holding his wine glass before his eyes
seeing the world
as though drowned
in roses
I keep trying to have
a little
moral at the end,
as though I know,
as though I have discovered
something larger than this
when I still feel so far
from what it is
that I am meant
to know.

Miranda reached across
the table, held him by the hand
and said,
so keep writing
and never finish the story,
just let the word
tumble
like acrobats,
giggle
like clowns
keep your fingers
moving and
your mind
empty and
just write
mister
just write
write
write
and leave the meaning
to someone
who
cares.

Milo smiled
at his friend
and gazed out the window
as the full moon
bashful of its nakedness
hid behind the clouds
and
in the window
against the black canvas
the reflection of the candles
inside
were as tiny Japanese
lanterns, floating
on a calm
still
pond.

Fuck me
that's looks fantastic,
Milo thought
and emptied an
exhale of laughter
as he ordered two more drinks.

Miranda smiled.

It was a beautiful night.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Linus.

Linus had been
crying for three weeks.

He would wake
every
morning
drenched in tears
great streams
pouring out of him
born
of a mysterious
mountain of grief that
he couldn't quite
put his finger on.

Eventually
Linus
decided enough
was enough
and took himself
to the doctor
where he sat
uncomfortably
crying in the waiting
room attempting
to read a magazine
and ignoring the stares
of the blue rinse
grandmother who
sat beside him.

(She was not sick
sometimes she
just sat at the surgery
to meet and
converse with people
but was unsure of
this grown man who
could not stop crying.)

Eventually Linus was
called in to the
examination room.

How very odd,
said the doctor,
and you say
you have no
real reason to be
sad?

Well,
said Linus
wiping his nose,
we all have
a reason to be a little
sad, so I am a little sad
but no more than
anyone else I guess.
My life is no better or
worse than anyone
else's.

It's just
I can't seem to
stop crying.

Indeed
said the doctor
and a week later
indeed
said the specialist
and a week later
indeed
said the psychologist
the psychiatrist
the grief counsellor
the surgeon
the triage nurse
the man in the milk bar
the taxi driver who drove
Linus to see the priest
who referred him to
the bible which Linus
used beneath his desk
to keep the legs straight
as he researched
on the internet
in the hope
of finding
an
answer
which
eventually
led Linus to
stumble upon
a very strange site.

*******.com

(I am unable to print the
actual address for legal reasons)

Not much to look at
this site
undesigned
just a plain white screen
with a sentence
set in Times New Roman:

Ask your question and we will help you find the answer.

The sentence linked
to an email address
and so
with nothing to lose
Linus wrote his
question

- I can't stop crying. What should I do? -

sent it off
and went to
bed
where he
dreamed
of rainbows
and rivers
and fountains
and seas
of oceans
and lovers
and of birds
and of bees*

(*this being a
family friendly story)

The next morning
Linus had
a response.

It read -

If you cannot stop
crying
consider becoming
a waterfall
or water
feature
that way
you will at least
make other people happy.

Linus couldn't help himself.

He smiled.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stars.

I love the night sky.

I like
to sit
and
look at
the
billions
of dreams
that still shine
amongst the
darkness.

Look at all that
Hope.

Ain't it something.

A lot of the time
I cry when I look
up
I guess I'm sad
but I don't know
why anymore
I really don't
I just have
that many tears
inside me and
they never seem
to stop.

I find it hard
to say that.

So instead
a lot of the time
I spend on my own
looking at the sky
and trying to find
my own little piece
of Hope.

I wanted to
share that with you.

My Hope
that is.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Archie.

Archie
was an
aspiring
writer
who was
always
reading
Amis
Bukowski
Hemingway
Dostievski
and Sherwood
Anderson.

Archie was
of the opinion
that he himself
was a great
writer
slash
character

a tragic loner
destined for
great things
if he could
only tap into
the
right story
and extract
from his
tortured
artistic
soul
the perfect
sentence.

Combination
of words right
the.

Damn,
he thought
and kept
writing
well
into
the night.

His poetry
when read
was often
misunderstood
by his wife
and children
and yet
every new
piece was hung
with care
positioned
in the
public eye
and
held to
the fridge
with the letters
Y and
B
which Archie
thought
was very philosophical
or was that
metaphysical?
(he looked it up
later that night
and found it was
neither really)

On Friday nights
and Sunday
afternoons
Archie liked to
drink
at the local pub
and this way
he could
tell himself
he was a famous
romantic
(absynthe made him
sick so he drank
one shot of rum)
a cursed
writer
too intelligent
to converse with most
(he finished a
crossword once
had come close
many times)
and
too
sensitive
to face the
pain of the
robotic and
mechanical
world
(he had overdue bills)

Archie was
always sure to
talk
in such a way
that
everyone in
the Public Bar
knew he was
a writer
and a great one
at that
until one afternoon

the owner
of the Pub
approached
Archie and said,
listen
I've heard
about you

(Archie leaned
forward
intently here,
oh really?
Go on...)

and I'm a bit
stuck
for Tuesday nights
so I was thinking
maybe you could
do a poetry
thing
open mic
spoken word
whatever
you know
something simple
nothing fancy.

Archie
smiled
agreed
at once
and ran home
to prepare
in delight
pausing only
to
bow under
showers
of ruby red
flowers
and listen
to the cheers
which clamoured
for his attention
through the vast
auditorium
beside the
endless applause
which no amount
of self effacing
gesturing could
silence let alone
dim
and what
of the fans
at the door
of his dressing
room
oh my
begging for just a touch
a hair
a sight of
he
THE
Archibald Constance
the great
unpublished
writer who
had been
discovered
on stage
on Tuesday night
around the corner
not
far from home
half price beer
until 7
kitchen closes
at 9.

Very
quickly,
- without much ado -
Tuesday sauntered
down the week
to knock cheerily
on Archie's door
and
it was not long
before
Archie stood
beneath the
honest lighting
of the stage
introducing
himself with
a carefully prepared
selection of poems
and prose.

This one
(he pauses here to inhale)
is called

A
simple
and
uninteresting
stanza
on
Love
which rhymes

FEEL!
(exhale)
FEEL THE WHEEL
TURN
AS I DEAL
YOUR HAND
ON MY HEART
WHICH TURNS
TO STEEL
AS I KEEL
YOU PEEL
THE LAYERS
OF ME
LEAVING ME
TO FEEL
SO REAL

and he bows
and holds it
to the sound of

UNREAL
BUT WHERE
DO I ORDER
MY MEAL?

and they laugh
as
he straightens
and reaches
for another

This one
I call

My passion
was a fruit
but you
wanted to branch
out.

and so on
all night
at least for an hour
but no one is listening
the mic has been turned
down and the
chatter
is loud for
a Tuesday as though
deliberate
so he coils the leads
correctly
(he was in a band
in school)
packs the microphone
into its case
hands it to the
eighteen year old
barmaid
(she looks
put out - what do I
do with this?)
returns
his poems
to the womb
of his bag and
pauses for a brief
moment
in hope of
a single word
a glance
a nod
but there is none
as he
extinguishes
himself
and
dissipates
out the
door
toward home
consoling himself
with the thought

- the life
of a writer
is destined
to be a lonely
one.

Outside
the rain
gently
begins to
cover him
in
silver promises

and washes
the night
to yesterday.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

3am Eternal.

Time sat
next to Death
and listened
to the
melodramatic
symphony
of his tears.

Oh why does
she have to
live?
Death cried
and
lay his head
on the bar
while Time
attended to the
last of his drink
and hurriedly
ordered two more.

Doubles please.

Haven't you ever
felt Love?
Death asked
to which Time
replied
actually I have
and smiled
at the memory
of feeling Love
all those years
ago beneath the
stars.

But you know me
said Time
I can
never go back.

Death sighed.
There is nothing
more lovely
he said
than being in Love.

Look pal
said Time
I don't know
what to tell you
I mean
we've all
been in Love
at one stage
or another.

The barman
tittered as
he lay the drinks
down and Time
reproached him
with a finger
to his lips
before
taking a glass
closing his eyes
and letting the
whisky work its
magic.

There there
he said
awkwardly
unsure of how
to console
Death
his friend
of many years
who sat beside him
in The Heaven's
and groaned
great
orchestral
sobs
flooding
the skies
with tiny
little diamond
slivers which
glowed
and sparkled
across the dark
depths
of the ebony
sky.

It was a quiet night
in the old bar.

At that moment
the door swung
open and in walked
Desire.

What'll you have?
she asked
to which
Death replied
make me forget
the feeling
of being
in Love.

They ordered
another round
triples this time
and though Desire
did not normally
have a lot of time
for Death
she knew if she drank
enough
she would feel
like him
in the morning.

They ordered
again and again
until eventually
Death and Desire
walked out
hand in hand.

When those two
had left
Time stood still
and wondered
where Love had
got to as he
leaned against
the dusty
old
bar.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hank.

Hank
looked like
the sort of
guy everyone
wanted around
but he
wasn't.

I mean,
it wasn't like
there was anything
wrong with Hank,
he just
never
really
said much.

Comely
and well groomed
and successful
as Hank was
he just
didn't seem
the same as
everyone.

Upstairs

Didn't fit in
anywhere.

He'd stand on
the fringes
of the group
maybe birth
a half smile
and mutter
a comment
if he was
pushed
but that
was about all
Hank ever did.

People
got to wondering
why they'd
invited him
whose friend
he was and
isn't he
weird and
a little bit creepy?

The thing
was
Hank really
enjoyed
everyone's
company
he just
thought
about other
things.

Like once
at dinner
everyone was
talking about
a concert
the week before
how great the music
was and how
the price of tickets
has really shot up
lately and don't
even start on the
price of drinks
jesus
and Hank was staring
at the painting
of a farm
hanging on
the wood panelled
wall of the Chinese
Restaurant thinking

they better
close that barn door
it looks like rain

and from
a distance
to his left
he heard

Earth
to Hank

and
everyone laughed
and he said something
like

I was just looking at
that Barn Door

and they stopped
for

a
single
moment

everything

stopped

until they
rolled their eyes
and slapped
each other's backs
in derisive ecstasy
and choked on
food and drink
and laughed
and laughed
and laughed
and later
that night
they all got
together
saying,
we've got to
get rid of him
it's time
to let Hank go
and they
did.

They
started
planning things
without him
secretly
at first
making sure
he didn't find
out.

The next week
they went out
to dinner and
all they did
was talk about
Hank.

How good it was
that he wasn't there
and
remember when he
and
oh god and that time he
and
what is with his?

Hank Hank Hank.

Meanwhile
Hank
sat alone
in his home
and thought

I might open
the door
and see if the stars
are out tonight.

Candy.

Candy
was a stripper
at this bar
out in the suburbs
six nights
a week.

She got paid
pretty good
had what it took
was only
twenty three
and already owned
more of her house
than the bank.

Yeah sure
there were
arseholes
who went
too far
who thought
she'd be impressed
by their car
who thought
she was a hooker
or a slut or
that she wasn't
in control.

Candy
didn't care
she just
laughed at them.

Laughed
at the
gawking gaping
carnival clowns
their jaws wide open
and their heads
turning slowly
from side to side
as they
jackpotted
on the floor.

Arseholes.

Candy
was lonely though.

She had a cat
Henry
and she had
her mum
who lived interstate
and she had
some girlfriends
and best of all
she had
her books
man she loved to read.

But you know

she was still lonely.

Anyway
this one night
at the club
Candy
noticed this guy
sitting at the bar
smiling at her
and everyone
always smiled at
Candy
but this guy
had a smile
that made
Candy
smile back.

How you doin'?

They talked at the bar
for a while
I'm a writer
he said
I love books
she said
and they smiled
and hung out
as much as they could
even though Candy
had to work carrying
drinks and
looking after the dicks
who clamoured erect
for her attention,
but Candy
kept coming back
to where he sat
and he stayed sober
and made her laugh

He
even made
her blush.

Later he
asked for a pen and paper
and she thought
he'd write his number down
and for the first time ever
she thought
why the fuck not
and she
remembered
what it felt like
to get excited about
something,
to feel nervous
to feel
giddy.

His hair
fell
over his face as he
wrote and she
gently brushed
it back and
he looked up
at her and she
fell into his grin
and drowned
in his eyes.

He gave her the note
just as the boss
came over
and said,
'Hey Candy
you're up'
and she said
I've gotta dance, Tiger
and he said
I can't wait.

She read it
backstage as she
was changing
it said

Beautiful girl
you turn me to gold and
hope and butterflies and
make the wings of the birds
trail cinnamon and sparks
as they follow bright rays
of gold along the road
it feels so right
you and me
like
skipping in mid-air
like dancing through a forest of light.

Candy
crushed the note
to her chest and
grinned to herself
in the mirror
let herself
remember the books
the words
the feeling
of the words
as her toes
twinkled
and her breasts
giggled then
she got ready
to dance for
Him.

She wore the
gingham
he looked like
he'd like that
and she
rolled her neck
to loosen it up
to stretch
as she walked
back out into the
room and gave
a tiny glance over
to where he sat
at
the bar
and saw him
talking
and laughing
with Mandy
and
passing her a
note.

Candy's
heart stopped
only for a moment
a hummingbird minute
and even if you
stopped time
you still might not see
that moment where
Candy gave up
forever
but it was there
beside that tiny tear
which
the guys
in the front row
thought was
part of her act.

Well
fuck him
she thought.

He might
be a writer
and he might have
had a smile
that made her drunk

but
in The End

he was
just
another
arsehole.

That night
Candy danced
like never
before.

Garden.

When I hold the photo
of you in my hand
I cry on it
to see if the the tears
will make you grow back.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Intermission.

Double.

The truth is that
I lie to myself.

That I work hard
in my laziness.

That I try to find the beauty
in ugliness.

That there is shallowness
in my depths,
and my stupidity
is well thought out.

That I am surrounded by people
because I am lonely.

That I looked for you
in them.

That everyday
I surrender
give up
want to die
but have to fight
and be brave
as I am too afraid
of The End.

Heart.

I'm going to close
for a while.

Draw the blinds,
switch off the lights,
turn the sign around
CLOSED.

The windows
will slowly grow
dusty and
people will gradually
pay little attention
to the run down
facade which
sits quietly
on a little corner
of a tiny street.

You might see
a soft light
burning
a secret glow
at night
but
that's just me
hidden out
back.

Taking stock
and working
out whether
or not
it's worth
opening
again.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Two.

She punches me
and says,
if only you
were the you
that I want you to be
that we want to see
the you that I know
the you that loves me.

There is silence as we walk
for a while
and I try to say things
as best I can
try to get words
out from beneath
the beating drums
inside.

But all I can do
is put my hands in my
pockets and try
not to let her
see the tears.

The tears
of the me
of me who
will be as she
walks free
of me.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Intermission.

Extract.

I hold her weathered feather light hand and watch her life drift away. She looks so tiny. So empty. All except her eyes. Her eyes are bright and stare at me and at Jodi and a million things pass between us without a word being spoken. The room is gone. There is only us and now and forever and she is light and dust and a star and a dream and we are the vessels that hold the memory of her. The room is spinning. An earthquake is inside me, screaming my soul tight to a single drop of blood, which hangs delicate and shivering in the air, waiting for the moment where it will fall to earth.

It hurts. But it always has. I try to follow my other thoughts. Who I need to call. Where I will go.
Jodi wipes her lips and forehead. Her eyes repeat the message and I let it echo and return, I love you, I'm sorry, I love you, I'm sorry. There are machines and tubes and sounds and lights and it all looks so pathetic. The conceit of us. Desperately clawing at our final moments as though it matters. As though we would rather remain here than reunite with our brothers the stars, our sisters the suns, our true families, the freedom of forever.

Your eyes are so beautiful, mum. So clever and sad. I love you. Lonely you, poor, sad, beautiful, funny, lonely you. Held here by the brute realities of this machine world. Left on the steps of a convent at birth. You never knew your mother, you never had a family, you never had a home - you two were my home, you and Jodi - always on the road, always in the car, always packing and running and knee deep in snow and burdened by us and held down by him and forced to pay, money for this, rent for that, here take my all, take my body, take my heart, but you, you clever thing, you never gave your soul and I can see that in your eyes. And I have let it hold me down - you were trying to protect me - I have let him have me as well as you, well no more, no more, time to stand and time to live and - give it to me, I will take it with me - time to take the tiny spark that lived behind, inside, hidden and time to let it go, let it grow, time to light a fire, an inferno, time to burn it all down, the memories to dust, the hatred and pain and rotting sick and as for Simon we'll let it combust his anger to furious flame and the skin of the earth will crack and blister and boil the soil and toil he made us suffer the endless hours of hurt and terror for the days we ran and the nights we never held our ground, but we tried mamma, didn't we try, we cried our cry and set our spears as his advancing army came crashing toward us, you and me mamma, you and me, our flags held high though none could see us lying on the battlefield and those who did thought us defeated, surrendered and he stood above us beating his chest and screamed and hollered his siren song of stupidity and muscle while beneath him we bled, surrounded by the dead and dying but your eyes mamma, your eyes said something and I knew but I was too afraid, too afraid of what your hands wrapped in mine as now you die but I can feel it mamma, the cold dagger in my hand, the ice in my eyes, the element of surprise to shiv between the second and third, to cut his heart, here, now, in his moment of victory - no - yes, I want to see him bleeding, I want to see him die.

"Matty?"
It's her. I open my eyes. I didn't realise they were closed. She stares at me and I can see the whisper of a smile on her lips.
"Mum? We're here, mum, we're here."
Jodi leans over the bed and kisses her forehead. "We're here, mum, Matty and I, we're here."
Her eyes close again. We hold her hands. I am choking. Right now. On every tear that ever was.

Jodi leans over her. Touches her cheek softly and whispers, "You taught me what was real in this life."
I take hold of her hand and wrap my other arm around Jodi as I lean in to join her. "You taught me to notice things. Little things. The gold rimmed clouds and silver streets after the rain. The markings on the back of a tiny yellow caterpillar."
We are crying.
"The way patterns repeat in nature, in fruit, on flowers, on animals."
"That the world was too serious."
"That none of that bullshit mattered."
"You taught me to be silly."
Like now. She looks tubular. That would have made her laugh. But there's no time for that now. It's all just erupting out of us. This goodbye beneath the slow lowering curtain of tears.
"That we are all small but that our smiles matter."
"That my smile mattered. That it could make another which could make another and another and if we all did that..."
"You taught me to listen to music. Really listen. To love the music that made me feel."
"You bloody sat us down and made us listen to Dark Side of the Moon, over and over and over. You told us, less is more kids. Less is more, and we thought you were crazy..."
"And Monty Python. The Meaning of Life. You made us watch that so many times..."

The tears are giggles of despair.

You taught me to cry.
You taught me to fight.
You taught me to survive.
And now I can see it in your eyes as you leave
Was it enough? Did I teach you enough, Matty?
Yes. Please don't go.
I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

And then the light goes out

and it is as though you never were.