Thursday, 5 May 2022

 

 


 
 
 
Brother Skunk wakes into the morning’s earliest hours, night still perceptibly dark behind the curtains of her room.
Adjacent in the bed, and moving on toward the endgame of her pregnancy ache1 has lately not been sleeping any too well and, now thus disturbed, finds she is wide awake before he himself is fully conscious; groaning, he reaches for the lamp-switch at his side of the bed, and sits himself up a little.
ache1: You okay? Skunk? You dreaming?
Skunk: You were...
sighs
Skunk: You were dying and you knew it and you kept saying to me “I don’t want to leave you. I don’t want to leave you.” over and over, and it was just the
wiping quickly at the tears as they spill out and down his cheeks, and then overcome places his face into both hands.
ache1 (not unmoved, but keen to get back to her much-needed sleep): I’m not poorly, I’m pregnant. There’s a difference, cowboy.
with, making its presence felt, her E.T. doll a random lump against her leg. 

 


 

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

 

 


 

 


It is both late and early, depending.
cog (responding): “In vino veritas”?
cog (laughing): Yeah, well... anybody who subscribes to that nonsensical concept clearly hasn’t spent enough time drinking.
deleted name: Correct, because drunks are somehow incapable of lying or embellishment.
cog: Hang on, I’ll tell you-, here’s a universal truth, no, no, hang on...
collecting his words to order
cog: ..the blowjo-
cog Whoah whoah whoah whoah, a degree less gauche if you’d care.
cog (sincerely): What?
cog: Just, maybe... say instead “fellatio”.
cog: Okay, okay, so... fellatio is every woman’s secret weapon to separate any man from her husband.
laughter as the others parse his words
cog: Wait, no, no... Wait, from his wife, from his wife.
The rest regard each other.
deleted name (setting down his emptied shotglass for the last time this time): Or... perhaps just you from yours. 




Tuesday, 29 March 2022




 

 

Amidst the all of them drunk and them all still drinking, this, upon the learning of her name his having asked
Mother: Margaret. Margaret Gordon
Father: Anyone ever call you Peggy, Peggy?
to which she shakes her head.
Father: American?
Mother (shaking her head): Close, closeby...
jabbing up into the air with a finger
Mother: ..Canadian.
She is out for one final go-round with these new-found friends to bittersweet celebrate the last night of her placement in Scotland, during the course of which her student group has increasingly abutted another, their proximity dictated by the bar’s narrow dimension, even its ceiling visibly lowered beneath the gathering exhalation of cigarette smoke.
Father (losing focus): Peggy, Peggy
and then thus prompted
Father (singing): “Oh Peggy Gordon, you are my darling. Come sit you down upon my knee, and tell to me the very reason why I am slighted so by thee.”
and while he was at first serenading her direct, very soon thereafter finds himself subject to the song itself, hostage to a voice he understands not his own, one seemingly lacking even his any trace.
Father: "I’m so in love that I can't deny it. My heart lies smothered in my breast. It's not for you to let the world know it, a troubled mind can find no rest."
whatever sense of courting with which he had begun overtaken by a melancholy tone dictated by the lyric’s longing, and its carrying melody,
Father: “I leaned my head on a cask of brandy, it was my fancy I do declare"
holding his empty glass to his chest as if it were the one possession he would not ever surrender
Father: “for when I'm drinking, I am thinking, and wishing Peggy Gordon was there."
now standing up from his seat, transported unaware, unconcerned too of whatever attention such behaviour might attract, his friends staring on in their silent amaze never once having heard him sing before.
Father: “I wish I was in some lonesome valley, where womankind cannot be found”
the forming of these words some source of indistinct pain, their ceaseless hope of something so long longed for,
Father: “and the pretty small birds they change their voices, and every moment a different sound.”
his voice forcing into existence a widening silence around itself, spreading from out its central quiet heart to the back walls,
Father: "I wish I was away in Ingo, far across the briny sea”
while his eyes brim to recognise that sudden unexpected sentiment by which he understands himself ambushed, and despite having started knowing he knew, if that, only the chorus or elements thereof, he becomes conscious of himself singing words he has no actual knowledge of knowing and in such is his initial diffidence overtaken by a growing faith in the song’s own use of him to be sung, increasingly confident the unknown words will continue on in the voice ascribed him, however temporary.
Father: “and sailing over deepest waters, where love nor care never trouble me.”
The song’s original intended conscious too of a shared tearfulness, herself these past weeks that much more aware of her own Scottish ancestry, both long-dead maternal grandparents themselves having each separately emigrated from within literal walking distance of this very street, connecting her to the song’s complex celtic origin containing as it does elements of Scotland, Ireland and Nova Scotia.
Father: “Oh Peggy Gordon, you are my darling"
singing on now not because he wants to but because he can no longer not, the lament freighted with that very homesickness she understands only too well here on this the eve of her departure, but which he has himself yet to experience in any meaningful way.
Father (finishing): “and tell to me the very reason why I am slighted so by thee."
Returned home, but unable to forget or assimilate this memory and leave him behind, she eventually writes him care of the university, knowing only his first name and course of study, asking disingenuously for him to send her the song’s lyric which words could she knew be had from any bookstore, and which words he too had to likewise obtain in order to fulfill her request, their subsequent ensuing brief but intense correspondence running August to November.
Still she remains unwilling yet to place in him her any actual faith until the very moment she is awaiting him at the Toronto airport, her hair again cut to that same length as when first they met, hoping he will not find her changed too very much.
When she does find him she finds him jumpy and dishevelled from this first plane flight since childhood, surprising him mid-swallow from the tin of Coca Cola bought at a concourse news-stand so that, momentarily unable to speak, he responds instead with a mute thumb-up gesture, one which will become for some time part of their shared private language, remaining so until either suddenly understands that it has not.
Only later in the day will he remember his sometime plan to serenade her again upon arrival, distracted as he was by euphoric relief and distress.
Father: “and tell to me the very reason why I am slighted so by thee."
There are daughters in their future, two, the eldest of which will come to resent this song serving to lullaby from birth her younger sister, having believed it these two years hers alone.
Stop.
Father: “where the marble stones are black as ink, where the pretty girls they all adore me, I’ll sing no more until I drink.”
Stop.
Father: “I wish I had some jolly boatman to ferry over my love and I”
deleted name: Stop, please.
Stop. 




 


Thursday, 27 January 2022

 

 





In attempt at eradicating all trace of himself from that narrative within which he had until this exact moment been confined, and honouring his decision to burn the house and all its content down around this fresh absence of himself, here now his silhouette framed by that same burning house, itself isolated at such remove that by the time the flames were elsewhere noticed it was already halfway perished, those whose profession it was to extinguish such arriving only in time to recognise the folly of their pouring water out upon its embers.
He walks away, only adrenaline affording him any requisite heat in his lack of shirt, with the already self-penned epitaph carried upon his own voice
deleted name: It has to be as though I never actually was.
walking on, on and on until at the eventual last, beneath the now fastened streetlit noose and with some finality, 
deleted name: Ecce pendu.



Wednesday, 15 December 2021

 







paraldehyde,
double chloride of gold,



Wednesday, 8 December 2021

 







Out beyond the window the nearest tree’s long-dead branches scratch upon spring’s twilight at the wind’s caprice.
Reflected in this side of the glass and at dinner, two men of variant age; the tabletop between them patterned with their randomly abandoned bottles of Moosehead lager, each at its various level of being emptied. The food is Iranian, if he is to take deleted name at his word, which he must since Brother Skunk does not recognise a single element upon his plate, neither can he place the taste of the meal’s any individual ingredient, its eating mere background activity to his role as listener.
deleted name: This is something I thought about a whole heap after my, well, long after my father died actually: the keeping of things, the curating of things, the ongoing curation of... everything. There were dozens of cards pinned up on a board in the hospital room where he died, and when he died the nurses offered to get rid of them all for me but uh
swallowing
deleted name: but I wanted to keep hold of them, of all of them, as if... 
shrugs
deleted name: ..something, I I really don’t know. There was... there was a reasoning for it, lost now. A number of them were from me anyway, not uh, not that that...
With their intoxication opening up room enough for its furtherance, every bottle becomes its own interstitial punctuation and respite.
deleted name: And I put them in a bag, not, there were so many of them it took a garbage bag to hold them all, 
overcome within the sudden immersion of his recall
deleted name: and Christ actually, the actual time it took! That’s something I do remember now, the sheer amount of time and effort involved in unpinning each of these fucking cards, cards pinned on top of cards even, and that sense of having so much other stuff to do, suddenly, and here I am doing this instead...
bottle
deleted name: ..and then I put the bag under a bed in one of the rooms, and they stayed there for... actually ever.
bottle
deleted name: And then it was years and years later, and I mean really literally actual years, I was, in fact I was getting a new bed, and so in getting rid of the old one I also had to confront all this
frowning
deleted name: vestigial stuff I’d salted away underneath of it, and here was this bag of get well cards. Well, some of them had been get well cards, and then some had... There was that pivot point where it became clear he wouldn’t get well, and then when he died... but the sympathy cards wouldn’t have been in there...
as if both questioning and confirming his own memories
deleted name: In fact, when I think about it now, I don’t know that I even remember what happened to the sympathy cards. Where did they go?
bottle
deleted name: But here was this big bag of cards, and in truth I didn’t even look at them. I knew if I looked at them at all, if I even so much as eh as glanced at them it, I’d have to keep on curating them, and I really... 
bottle
deleted name: One thing that did... facilitate their disposal, it occurred to me that many, if in fact not most, of those people who had sent my father these cards would themselves now be dead.
Skunk (feeling he should in some manner contribute): I don’t think... In all the time she was in the hospital I don’t think my mother received a single card, ever. 
bottle
Skunk (repeating, unsure if he has actually spoken aloud, the texture of his ruined voice so alien outside his own hearing): There wasn’t a single card in the room where my mother died, when she died.
consumed by that sudden sense of shame and regret at something he should, like his older host, perhaps himself have actually done, no matter she lacked the means to comprehend the sentiment.
His face colours in retrospective remorse, consolidating an unceasing and endless regret so intense as will in future months become incapacitating.
He takes the bottle opener up from the table and prises the cap from off still another Moosehead.
bottle
All that unmentioned tissue as connects them burnt, her represented potential rendered ash unidentifiable.
bottle
bottle



Monday, 6 December 2021

 







                        On the first time he ever tasted coffee:
                        Skunk (screwing one eye tight shut and gritting his teeth): It tastes like joke cigars.