Livers dancing in the snow
Our dagger within this opium
was the way our storm departs
Buried next to a market of light, the moors bleed in his veins, and a sky of grey, and black haired lass.
The bus pulls itself apart, as it passes by several grave yards. One to his left. Then one closer to town.
Tapping out a song on his shin bone.
Leaning on the window.
This drumming chime will last beyond this ride. And the black hairs in his beard keep on turning back into his chin. Black coat collar up. Drumming in the piano. Need spring to come.
And he can’t wait to live his life after he finishes his daily tasks. 8.12am is the howling hour where nothing dances. The office worker breathes out like a horse, and walks over to the photocopier.
Heavy night last night Frank?
Heavy in what way?
Frank had no way of telling whether it was a Friday Sunday or Wednesday.
Shift work messes with your head.
Once he woke up. He looked up at the ceiling of his office, omen enough for a gamble, saw a damp patch, stretched an arm up from his bed, passed it up through the hemisphere, grabbed a planet, pulled it down, used it to scratch his back, used it to scratch his lasses back, and then they both just took the day off.
Bright and below the dusty moor, the kestrels ignite future, past, and all hymns of fire.
All stories come through the fire.
And if we’re lucky, we listen, and understand that listening is a foreign language.
We decide that to dance is better than to live.
There was already enough waterfalls in space, for the curtains to be drawn, and enough light bursting through the blinds, enough light, enough light on each of their backs, that day.
Maybe if you’ve done shift work, you’ll know what this is like.
Frank moves around. He smokes on his balcony at the weekend. A plane passes over the London opera letting him know there is life. The junk below has twisted trees where old tyres have been chucked onto the branches. Red silhouette flies blue. Near nothing moon flashing in the sky.
It’s all in the way that the sun never goes down. Night never comes up. And you’re as blind as a comatose dog. All the time. But you’re smiling straight and walking straight. Sneering into the leprositic air. Smoke and time neither brother nor sister, kestrel carrion, belated September colder than a gut.
Time to dress.
Or at least. That’s what Frank did. You have to do something odd every now and then. Something that makes your face look perverted, struggling, twitching, jaw – – just a little bit open, shuddering. The shirt drags across your body. No one washes ever. There’s only ten minutes until the bus comes. You walk back a few years on from the balcony. And walk in. See why you work so hard. Vulgarities born from nature, all animals were once sea.
But sitting at that desk Frank went at it. Slowing time alive. Yes, he did look odd. Sat there, where something was fighting within his jaw, chewing every now and then. All of the fleshy dandelions, space by space, unable to dance. Winter. Spring. Fracturing gasp. Frank spoke normally. He said
“Good afternoon, thank you for calling the last dance corral, we’ll waltz all the way through this conversation, then I’ll dive through the fucking window.”
“Hello, thank you for calling Kings & Leverton services, my name’s Frank, how may I help you?”
He’d been there for five and a half years. Ten. Thirty. His own fault. He thought about becoming a 15th century Catholic. So he’d have a straight reason to buy a short whip, and whip his own back in disgust, at not doing what he really wanted to do with his life.
It would be so easy to break the rouletting gallows, just a short tinder of movement, wilder than the hive, lit and tilted, gently pushing the hull into the sea. Just lone hands slipping on the wood. But a force from nowhere, pushing, nails gripping the ship, now using a shoulder, feet and heels moving in the sand, roaring upon roar. The hull letting go of its sullenness in the sand, below the sleeping depth of stars, as the ship is moved into the sea. All hymn. All grace.
And the mirror kept on toying with his skin.
Each year or second that he shaved.
The owls and the cars outside screamed in whispers. Saying.
Somehow his back-side was sat at his desk. He asked the day who she was. She was a blue day. He looked outside and smiled. And even the determined steam rising from the nearby factories told him that this was wrong. She looked back. Hey love. He worked in the city centre.
Centre of juniper unchange. He mumbled things to the window in-between calls. I need no religion when you dress in the shade. He laughed for no reason!
Hey look, he’s doing it again, no no, don’t look now, ok look now. Where’d they get this fella from? Jeez… We should start wearing bullet proof vests to work. Bloody hell.
But the reason for all the talking to his ex-wife in the sky, pass the glass of rain, the jaw juts, the twitching, the blinking, was only because he was fighting.
He would speak in the office too. To the vulgar smell of computers pouring out of their own low nightmares. All galloping in a calm whir, which is really, such awful miasma. Filling an expanding room with all voices, none of them human.
It was a long a flight, the way he saw it. Back to Prague, back to Paris.
I’ll just stop drinking for a few months. I’ll save some money and start going to the gym again. Buy a new suit. Sharp as heaven. Then just go. I’ll see you in Prague. We’ll drink that coffee again that the nervous waiter served us. I’ll smoke. You’ll wear those sunglasses.
And before, we’ll travel there together.
Tell this place where to stick their job. Just go. I’ll walk in one day wearing the suit.
Say something clever to the boss. Walk in with my bottle of whiskey. Offer her a sup. Then walk out. It’ll be great. The sun will roll over onto its back. Legs opening in harp like statements of death, as you and I, pick up the damn nasty bug, and set it back on its feet, saying there you go, you curious star, orbit there.
The fire alarm went.
No-one looked up, or even noticed. It sounded like each horse of the final four were all whinnying together, to him. All of the workers apologised to the clients they were talking to.
And after, when his Tallulah said: Hey baby, I gotta go, gotta go shopping, she turned into a cloud where an arc of feral pigeons dived through. And at that, Frank remembered which day it was, as he carefully mumbled the finer points of the small claims process to the caller, and smiled, and waved good bye to his fiancée, happy that he’d see her again at home, as she hid his present behind her back, and rejuvenated his day later.
So the day was looking good. He was on good terms with his wife, and he knew that he really should try more with his fellow co-workers.
In the quatrain multiple row of desks, where they sat below the always light, 7am till 10pm always lit, there were five or so to a row, so, he decided to try and say something about the fire alarm to the worker next to him.
First word in about hey, a millennia grows a second into a bull.
He’d never learnt his name. Frank didn’t know how to talk without stuttering vulgarities and dance. But he knew it sounded like an – OUCH – or maybe an Eehhhooulch. And wolf mates with sun, and the man’s face looked like grey solid pain, WOUFLRED, WILFRED. WOULF. RED. WOULF. WOULF. WOOF. Yes. That’s his name. Definitely. He looks like a Wilfred.
It was a blue Friday. Everyone was winding down or winding up. Everyone was already drunk in their minds and enjoying their share of cocktail hour in a bar down the road. No-one’ll mind if I get a name wrong. It’ll be ok. Its. The Magna Carta sweats. This lightening. Where you edit, and, return to me our story. Beyond this world.
Hey err, Wilfred, WOULFRED! Ha! Woof! Ha. Did you like the fire alarm?
The young man didn’t say anything. But Frank knew that he wasn’t on a call. They hadn’t ever spoken. Not in the three years they had sat beside each other. But he’d said it now. And he was in a good mood. The man he had just christened a wolf, pretending to reply to an urgent email, that Frank knew he had already answered this morning.
Frank leant over. Trying to smile. Trying again.
Hey, err, did you hear the… Hey…
He tapped the man on the shoulder. He still didn’t reply.
Hey you cool? Sorry if I got your name…
The younger man finally turned his face towards Frank.
His eyes, eyebrows, chin, soul, cornea, flesh, hair, life, tie, shirt, teeth, name, expression, bones, all grey.
What is it?
Frank let it go.
He let it all go.
It was Friday.
A few more moments, and it’ll be Friday. He called silence a liar, and watched the night pour through the black blue outside the window of the office.
Jesus knocked over his beer. It began to rain.
The cars, like the cab he was in, swayed in and out of the traffic.
He always took a cab home on a Friday. He liked to pull up outside Tull’s and say the job is only for a little while, until you move on to find someone less crazy than myself.
Each pay day it was the same.
Frank got a cab instead of the bus. Half-way in and Half-way out.
Frank leant forward, winced, coughed, held a handkerchief to his mouth. Tapped the head of his walking stick, a silver wolf head, on the cabby’s plastic screen.
Can you drop me off here please son? He thought.
We’re only half way to yours Frank mate. If I let you out here you’ll have too far to walk.
And it’s late. The foxes run entwining with dusk, eager to not know their name on the front of a car.
Frank tapped on the screen again with his walking stick, unable to muster the strength for words to argue. But the driver had grown to like Frank. They’d never said much to each other. He’d seen the splashes of paint inside his old grey blazer and assumed he was a painter of types.
Frank would have spoken more, he enjoyed his once a month ride around town.
But several strokes had made half of his face limp, unable to work properly, one side lower than the other.
And ninety one years of painting had kept him alive, but the ghosts and will which did so, were ready to go, and the pleeaases… Came out like pleeeaaases… The sonsss, made his always left twisted cheek drool. Grimace. Dribble, and ache.
The cab driver pulled up alongside West Burdgemont grave yard. South Effershom.
The roads were clear. He got out and walked around to the passenger door. He opened it and helped Frank out. He thought about asking the old man a few times if he was going to be ok. But he didn’t like the way he spoke, they way, his face was twisted, the way, he always seemed to have a grin, on his face.
Frank watched the cab drive away.
He walked slowly over to the curb, making the tap.
Sound of a wooden stick on the cement every two seconds or so.
He made it over to the pavement on time for it to snow.
He looked up into the sky, and breathed out winter’s tears of steam and air.
And no-one was looking. So he made his most twisted and nasty smile, and closed his eyes.
It snowed like all ballerinas pulling out there tear ducts.
Roots of white and red entwining from black above heaven red.
Frank held out his arms.
Where scare-crows, old men, old lightening, and old storms speak with the earth, once again.
The dancers said lay down, in waves.
His limbs shook from the cold. His teeth chattered. But he found strength in his smile.
He sang a lonely howling song from his twisted smile, that did not look like one, but, it definitely was.
He had finally bought the suit that he promised himself he would. It was silk black. His shirt silk white. Two buttons open at the top.
The snow, the rain, the hail, the world, the cold, the sun, the night, the gravity, the storm, the lightening, began to pull him finally down to his knees. But his bones wouldn’t give up. On one knee. He stamped his walking stick with the wolf head into the pavement. And managed to lift his head up, pearls of snow piercing his eyes.
One of his eyes was covered by a white cataract. The other was bloody, and nearly closed.
And he never spoke to anyone now. But. Smiling.
He slammed his staff into the ground again as the night tried to whip his old bust body away, like so many twigs, blowing inside his warped lips, slashing his face, this way and that, swirling around his knelt down body now, sun and moon agreeing to become thunder, blowing against his body, into his face, from above, from behind, from the sides.
He slammed his staff into the snow and concrete and sun and swamp and street again.
Moving a shaking hand into his blazer, digging something out, and taking out a dirty old poem. That he dedicated to the canvas of his blood.
And it all came out in slurs slurs slurs…
Because we go! And we are all born each day!
I cross my chest with wolf, this silver life…
in crumples of bone
in thighs pyramid and
where they drop limbs from the sky
that I send back
and sing red rain
new smiles covered in vitalic silver
each howl a display of light
shatters all legs from silhouette
singing for day
before grabbing the tears of storm
and shedding them
where they belong
each west north west east
a pyre of sweat
I damn this street
I damn this storm
Ah, hear me!
Frank roared and breathed heavy.
Ballerinas walked carefully down his cheeks. His old hands began to loosen on his staff. The white dancers bounced away from his face and danced before him. The same way that the snow does, when the night listens.
And then the wind blew through him for some several moments more, knives of peace, as if listening, and repeating his poem again in the storm. The clock in the Church yard chimed midnight. Death and life walked towards him. Death was casually dressed, just a smock of molasses, life was gallantly dressed, made from over-white armour.
Yet a third statue rose from the ground before Frank. Its head beginning in a whirlpool of clay snow rising, reddy brown, anomalous, rising, growing, as if the street in this puddle was liquidic. Frank spat and smiled. The being moved each of its limbs, as if stepping out from a warm bath. It then quickly looked behind itself at the oncoming strangers.
The new statue looked androgynous. And was outside of the blizzard.
Frank looked up at the curious thing, and it seemed to smile too.
The moving clay leant over and down towards where Frank knelt, it’s eyes were red.
Its body was molten brown, it hadn’t been in the kiln yet.
It chuckled naked. Lifting the old man back up to his feet, as it once again looked behind itself. Then looked back to him. Then looked up at the storm. Then placing it’s lips beside Frank’s ear asking, anything left, old man? They’ll take me too, you know? You need to do something…
I know I know, now hurry up, in one world you actually finish making me, and I stand at the Tate… I don’t know how you called upon me, but my time here is limited, and I can’t stand for long against the stranger.
A scythe swiped through the head of Frank’s sculpture. The top of its wet skull fell to the ground.
And then life striked the clay man next. Sending a jet of light into the beings lower lumber, surging its wet terracotta, melting its torso from inside, as it continued to shield Frank.
GIVE ME A NAME! The clay man screamed.
Frank’s words came out as whirr whhuu wirr wha-, in the storm.
Now only the lips could speak in the weakening sculpture holding Frank up, since the top part of its face had been swiped away.
GIVE ME A NAME! YOU MUST! OR I CANNOT FIGHT YOU FOOL! The strange lips said.
Frank’s arms were limp beside his body, but he began to lift up one shaky, arthritis ridden hand up to the clay man’s face, so that he could smooth parts once again of its neck, like he did so many decades ago, creating him from a terracotta lump of clay, on a random day, in his studio, and reply to its question, where his mouth no longer spoke clearly.
His remaining eye was bloody too. Bloody blue. And he said, so quietly, between them, without gravity…
…your name… is Ballius.
Spokes of clay shot out from Ballius, in all directions, making his form lift up, wings made from endless shards, shooting down onto the pavement, shooting out into the cosmos beyond direction in the beat of celestial arrows, and forming a circle around them both, locking life and death outside. An endless chord, an endless bird, a ready soldier, an efficient sway of moving limbs, a light from its own soul, a transiting electric cracking around its arms where its hands flowed easy in the flux, justice within time, smashing zero, rising velatus, in each place, pugnam, surgere!
Ballius twisted his head from side where he hovered. Cracking the clay bones in his neck from side to side.
Sneering like a git. Ready to dance. Unmoved by the oncoming strangers. Unknowing to anything. He glowered around. Ready to strike at that which came.
Frank looked up at the sculpture, remembering what he had known a long time ago, and forgetting that it was impossible for his comrade to hold the circle for too long.
The snow ballerinas danced outside the ring too, excited by the sudden change in fate.
But now Ballius’ eyes grew colder red, as the life and death outside wailed on the temporary walls he had created for Frank, streaming translucent waves of clay, in a half orb upon the ground, all of his particles sent out, one hand creating the orb, the other sending hardened shards at the attackers, cold clay arrows through the snow blizzard, as if, Frank would know what to do next…
Frank knew nothing.
He could no longer see.
His heart was over-bloomed with the joy of seeing his creation fly. Crippled with love. As Ballius fought.
Then in the snow, then in the lightening, then in the gentle and furious dance of more animals coming to join the song, skipping between the dead ballerinas legs, riffling up through the concrete, mole after mole, fire-flies inside the eyes of white tigers charging at the enemy, a long metal weapon slinging away at their ghost-flesh, eager shrews racing out from the near by bushes too, building into small mountains around Life, trying to swing a punch, as Life smashes them apart with ease, Frank looking around, a trillion many red dear charging at Death, made from rain, Death cutting them away too, Ballius beginning to weaken, and turn back into formless clay, the orb suffering, head, shoulders, arms – FRANK! – Melting, the circle beginning to depart, the darting shadow bats able to add one more second of distraction, diving into one of Death’s eyes, making him stagger back, Life now able to bayonet its arm through the circle, Ballius beginning to float down, departing, the circle all but gone, now the dogs of all dogs, mating with cats hungrily and readying themselves to leap at Life, Life laughing, opening its hand and obliterating their moxie with ease by infinite stars, now all friends go, now all snow comes in, now Life and Death stand inside the burning ring of terracotta, Ballius in pieces, old Frank, nasty cheek still tight silent, still knelt, weeping, tears in the snow, animal ghosts departing back, knowing they cannot aid anymore here, as Life and Death agree, that they shall tear Frank apart, on the street, allowing him no peace.
Frank was tired.
He’d used it all up.
He was ready for whatever.
But there are no dreams that you can take away from an old man.
The paupers heart is heavier than a kings.
And all that.
Then they’ll let you know when departing, that love is made separately, each time.
So many worlds, without reason…
Frank breathed a few more breathes. Forgetting. Ready. Unready.
Then, in last mutterings, he insulted life and death equally. Gladly.
And they knew exactly what he said under his breath, as he looked up, crooked in twisted smile.
Ready for one more dance cappo.
Even his left hand insulted them, as it still gripped his walking stick. The two Gods walked towards him.
But he felt an acid leaking onto his hand, that was neither the storm, or the time, or what they would do with him. He looked at the head of his silver wolf staff. It was crying blue acid, as it felt that its owner had given up, and he was ready for the sea of bargaining…
Some of the silver wolf’s acid dripped onto Ballius’ loose grey eye-ball, where it laid and rolled on the ground.
It looked up at Frank, in the snow, and said, you must ask, ask what it is you…
Then he knew.
Frank lifted his walking stick up into the air with the last of his will, and brought it down into the ground before him, sending out paths of all lightening, making a crippling sound like the barking bone sound of thunder pouring from body into the cement in final strike, and even the beaten animal, bird, and insect ghosts began to gather once again, as if there was a point in their earlier strike, but standing back in the shadows of the storm, as if the old man was coming back, Life and Death laughed, as the pour of energy released from Frank, and he was sailing away on his own boat, and then he answered Ballius, understanding…
Screaming through the light he was creating… Damn day!
I ASK ONLY – THAT I BE SENT BACK – TO WHISPER IN THAT EAR, OF THAT MAN I WAS! AT WORK SO MANY YEARS AGO, AND SAY, GET OUT! GO FOR IT LAD!
And with that, all was black.
Small ripping sounds
in the snow
sound of an old man laughing
making sure that a fight happens
in the blizzard.
It was about 4, say 5.30, say blue blue songs. Someone’s hungover. Frank sweats from his brow. He always sits near the window. That way, he can almost feel like he’s outside. But he never is.
The office job never pays. It collects. My old man did one thing. He rocked out.
Then the sky outside is night once more, although it’s only 4pm. The gulls and geese are one forming arrows across to the next city.
Frank doesn’t talk to himself at work today. He feels to sad to even do that. Today the mirror told him he looked like a dim twenty-seven year old man. And that he could write some days, could paint some days. And sometimes, he felt a flame. It hurt. All the twitching. All the distractions. Something. Something. May lions roar even within the Earth’s core? No I dream. I must go and see my widow, then shave my widow.
He looked forward to a late meat-ball lunch.
Nothing else. And cold meat-balls at that. There was always too many people at the microwave.
And then. He smiled. And chuckled to himself. Said, ok. Don’t ask at what. He stood up. Even though no-one can stand up at this particular time.
It was a Friday.
He felt like… Felt like a walk.
He took the headset from his head. Gave young grey chuckle boy two slaps on the cheek walking by.
He stood up.
And all because some friend, perhaps just a thought, had whispered
Never give in.
Somewhere in time.