Tag Archives: stream of concious

As Blue As The Land Beneath The Ice

The summer you gave me has frozen over inside an empty flat. Black on blue like the bruises insomnia leaves below my eyes. The flat is the barren plain where scraps of scrub grow resilient to the weather which beckons their death. The shabby forms of five writers sit on the shelf above the television set which is fuzzy and speaking only in tongues. Icicles form stalactites below the broad shelf, the scuffed shoes of the writers dangling as they look to each other for an answer to the question my eyebrows pose.

Jack scrapes grit from his boot with a dirty finger.

“I know the most about this winter. This icesheet. But why should I help someone who has condemned me as tired cliches your young self believed in?”

He looks at Gabriel.

“No pedestal for me when sat next to him. But I make you write don’t I? Because you think you can do better. With him you tremble with love and forget the plot.”

Gabriel said nothing. He grinned at me warmly. His face was weatherbeaten and tanned. But a tan in the light of winter looks a strange and suspicious thing. His teeth were crumbling, the more he smiled the more they slipped from his mouth like sand. His dark eyes held a love and sadness that made my heart break. That simultaneously brought value to what I felt and devalued it as trivial nonsense.

Margaret is reading. A shabby old leather-bound book, the title so faded that I can’t make it out.

“Margaret,” Jack says. “Surely you have an opinion? Like me you always do.”

Margaret lowers her reading spectacles with a long finger and peers at me and then over at Jack. They look like the construction workers hanging over New York City in that famous photo. Smiles and lunch boxes, legs dangling into the metropolitan abyss. But Margaret is the tallest and the only one who doesn’t wear a hat.

“Are you making this political, Jack? You’re not always subtle.”

Jack pointed to a spider shivering in is cobwebbed lair. “I don’t make it. It’s just the shape it comes. The pieces just fit together what the picture says is up to you.”

Margaret chuckled wisely and turned to me. “Make of that what you will!”

Her voice is clipped. American English. Two Americans and one Latin American. And what of the others? Who are the mystery pair in shadow on the end of the shelf? The whites of their eyes faintly visible in the gloom as they study the cold room with puzzlement.

“Why is it winter in here and summer outside?” I ask aloud this time. My voice shakes as though my vocal chords are wired up to a distortion pedal. as though the frog in my throat is a snake’s rattle.

The distortion moves around the room, latching onto other sounds which gather like a storm until the writers’ voices are lost. The creaks of the house become shrieks. The slight hiss of electricity becomes a mass. The spider scuttles to safety.  Time folds up on itself like origami crushed under foot. And inside the folded pages I hold my ears and cower, waiting for the end.


I’m only obsessed because you won’t leave me be.

I don’t think of you all the time but you’re never far from my thoughts. As though the air is part gas, part moisture, part you. As though my brain is part creative, part logical, part diseased. As though my life is part real, part dream, part delusion.

You seem contained inside images and everyday objects. Artificial faces, door jars, underneath bushes.  You seem not aware of this. You seem not aware of anything but I know this isn’t right. You are shrewd. Not like a liar, like a master of ceremonies. You know how this whole thing will end. These are the things I notice when I daren’t look at you too much.

And the jokes you once told return to my head like songs that catch in my ear canal. Yet the jokes somehow mock me, because I remember them and they weren’t that funny. It’s your intonation, the crafted slant of an eyebrow, the fact that you always smell so good. A bundle of pheromones drifting like the free spirit that my denial isn’t.

The rotisserie of unrequited love. I can guarantee you’re not that fussed, yet your friend is stepping up, ready for slaughter. He feels about me exactly how I feel about you. We make the same dumb jokes to try to make our propositions more casual. There is nothing casual about the future I try to wish you into, push you into with an imperceptible shove. But you’re stronger than me. You’re a lone wolf by choice not by default. Able to rejoin the pack anytime you please because you’re quietly confident. Not a stumble of tangled limbs. Yapping at unseen enemies as though that will drive them away.

So, I’m sorry for hanging around you like the ghost of hope. I’m sorry for ruining the friendship that was. I’m sorry for not taking a hint when I should. But I’m only obsessed because you won’t leave me be.

The Wind Cries Barney

No melting hearts today in the blue snows. Just the aftermath of the winds. The kind of winds that re-enlighten your belief in the coming apocalypse. A troll stomping over rooftops and chasing down to you in the damp street. He bellows in your ear leaving a damp splattering of spittle quickly iced by the cold air. Stray twigs torn from trees crunch under foot. You step around them until they become too many, filling the pavement and road in piles and piles of insignificant broken limbs.

“Did you laugh together more than you argued together? And if not do you know why?”

Mazzy flipped the record to it’s forth side and teetered among the clutter in the tiny flat. Immunity by Jon Hopkins. Something stronger was needed to block out the catcall of teenagers in the street.

“We always laughed. We were always stupid. That’s why it lasted so long. I don’t know how to be any other way anymore. All that bickering about things that don’t fucking matter. The most efficient way to load the dishwasher? Nah.”

A quick shake of her head and eyes that strayed into a distance that wasn’t visible beyond woodchip and the first feint patterns of damp. I was persistent though. I knew how he could be.

“But the moods. The dark moods. How did you cope?”

Mazzy looked puzzled. She picked up a mug of tea which had turned tepid. A softer wind was tapping the window. If yesterday he was an angry troll today he was mischievous sprite.

“There’s a tiny bit in the middle of this bit of the record which reminds me of Diamond Mine, just a few bars. Do you know what I mean?”

I waited. Knowing she would settle and answer my question when she’d dispelled these important thoughts.

“I don’t notice them. I didn’t.” A shrug. “You know my family, if nobody’s hitting the roof you enjoy the peace. It’s just grumps with him. I could still make him laugh, that’s the difference.”

Mazzy settled in a beanbag and looked at her tea disappointedly. “What about you, now? Do you get lonely?”

I faltered at the question and rubbed my forehead, trying to work out the creases. It seemed a stupid question. I nodded.

“Everyone does. Don’t they? We’re all alone.”

“But you’re really alone.”

“Like a troll.” I tugged at troll hair which seemed to sprout like dune grasses.

“This bit.” Mazzy pointed to the record spinning on an axis of melodic refrain.

“What?” I’d zoned out of the music. She’s better at multi-tasking than me.

“Reminds me of…”

I nodded.

The scene dissolves in history like all others before it. The young march on into the morning. They know all will not be well, but there’s nothing to do but evolve, grow, be something society didn’t expect it was capable of. You are your own hero, your own catastrophe. Failure doesn’t lie in your bed. You only fail when you hold others back with your backwards mindset and bullying ways. Your poison is malice and you drink it straight from the bottle.

Back to the whispering hum of the dehumidifier removing tears and mould from stained walls. No music or the voice of Mazzy to break its hum drum sound. The lack of television keeps the brainwashed society at bay. Adverts and pop music filtered out. Shelves stacked with more books, music and films than they can hold. Stuff that has fucking meaning. Stuff that draws a portrait of a life before it’s lived. Brain supplements to keep the rot at bay. To help us keep writing. Because writing is all we can do to survive our own minds.

I tear open a letter from Mazzy, out in the Hebrides. I saved it two days because I knew I would need it today.

‘Dear Barney,

Although you are not dear.’ She begins….

Aspire to Asylum


Back to the quiet routine. Back to watching the dust and the bar flies settle in the reflection of a patterned mirror. Moments nuzzle up close to one another, leaving no personal space. Gruff John’s glass is empty. Specks of froth scatter the interior in a pattern which defines the last disappointed sip. He leans on the counter and begs the nurse for another dose. Politely first, then more insistent, sensing resistance to the logic of just one more.

In the corner Dog One is getting ratty towards Dog Two. They see each other every night and exchange the same old woes. Some time is spent with belly and jowls lowered on the floor, paws pushed forward as though diving towards an idle nap, eyes watching the feet that pass, drool leaving a small pool to mark the passage of time. Some time is spent greeting regulars and staff, tail uncertain in its waver, an empty wine glass caught as it’s nearly knocked from the low table. Some time is spent, like this time, re-establishing boundaries. Dog Two must know where he is allowed to sit, and who gets first dibs on pork scratchings.

The Rude Lady thumps the counter. She’s tolerated here. She takes advantage of this by being demanding. She demands because the world has never given her nothing. Least of all manners and gumption. The more she demands, the less is given. Nobody gives a shit for someone who gifts them nothing but grief. She has spilt cider on her table cloth skirt and loudly jokes about pissing herself. Nobody laughs. Her neediness fills the space around her. Those closest shift bum cheeks on bar stools.

The Intellectual Beard is preoccupied by the cryptic crossword, or at least he seems to be. Really he’s wondering whether his best friend has read his new book yet. It’s been three weeks and nothing has been said. He has grey hair sprouting from his ears but has yet to notice how it interlinks with the kinetic energy given off by the skittish nervous systems of those nearby. The whole room and its life forms are interwoven and yet the sharp tug of a single thread could pull the whole place apart.

But. No, nothing, it doesn’t matter. I never meant to say that, I’m just a bit pissed, mate.

Gog the Manager is not as old as he looks. But he still looks younger than Gruff John, who has the beetroot nose of a man who likes his tipple more than himself. Gog the Manager doesn’t judge, he has been known to match them all glass for glass, each new ale turning over his tongue. They are all connoisseurs here, except those who have resorted to habit and can no longer taste anything but the routine slug. But this is a nice pub, fights rarely break out here. Glass is smashed only with laughter, and a disorientated grace of being. You can take the pub from the community with beer tax and monopolising Pub Co’s, but you can’t take the community from the pub. Every man and woman is one-another’s equal here, and knows it. The outside world is the place where madness and insecurity rampage the streets and shout at the traffic. In here they are contained. A safe jacket with a tab where sandwiches can be ordered before 9pm.

There is no detached observer here. Even the man who only drinks soda water and keeps himself to himself. He scribbles in a notebook but if you look closely at the black boards his words are reassembled there.


The door to the yard is propped ajar. Laughter and the chill breeze slip in through the gap. Two women smoking share the jokes and secrets only smokers understand. The heat lamp lasts three minutes and then Sheila with the Big Bum pulls the cord again. She always pulls the cord because she feels the cold settling in her mittens. Frances with the Curly Fringe forgets. Forgets how cold she is, caught up only in the laughter, in the promise of the night sky that squeegees away the dirt of daylight and leaves a clean surface on which tomorrow can be written, like the next guest ale off the draymen’s list.



Murky psyche vibes of caves inside caves. The planet feels turmoil through its bedrock. Inner cavities drum with restlessness that isn’t boredom. A restless waiting. Knowing that thing to be coming. Stalactites climb down from the roof. You fast-forward in the mind’s eye their architectural lifespan. The shadows jitter-bug across the cave walls.

We are all here in spirit. A race of vagabonds bound to search for the centre of the planet but never ever able to dig deep enough. Never able to mine all the resources Mother Nature almost forgave us for violating. She stays hidden and elusive. She speaks softly to some of the creatures, tending to them with a maternal instinct she has lost with us. We are the child discarded in a wicker basket, floating downstream with the chuckle of the burn…


Kaleidoscope thinking is what we turn to between wake & the subconscious. Whether ill or drugged or between dreams. Thoughts return to the first pattern. Colours bleed & lead the eye in one direction only to disappear. To become something else. Voices from the real world call from off-stage – planning debauchery. Discontent with the peaceless world, we chase release – deep sleep, R.E.M. We know it’s there somewhere among the changing colours, but we re-adjust focus & it’s gone. Ethereal in the darkness. A lost highway. We follow another colour, a game begins but ends in meaninglessness. We prepare an exit stategy, yet are somehow already in the next pen, the next room, the next Knightmare floor falling away beneath our feet. We sweat with frustration, side-stepping one patch of nonsense only to tread in another. The walls waver & flap in a breeze that fails to cool. Body hot, but skin ice cold, riddled with goosegrass & goosebumps. Heated by an internal furnace stoked by mindless slaves. A song is stuck on repeat. Like the kaleidoscope it seems to tune into the next line but fails. The key is lost so it repeats the last line again, hoping for more success. The colours are psychedelic but not endless. Eventually, sporadically, they become what they were. You have a vague notion thoughts are repeating, but you’re unsure. Whether ill or drugged or between dreams. Thoughts return to the first pattern. Colours bleed & lead the eye in one direction only to disappear. To become something else.


Sounds follow me from the corners of the flat which folds up around me like origami into a claustrophobic cupboard. Each day I find new ways to drown hardened optimism in despair. As though despair can dilute the alien sense of having done more these past few months than ‘earn a few quid, spend a few quid’. I’m scared my default setting will always be nostalgia or craving some future happiness that will not be what it is when I find it. The tangible is only the shadow of the cat at the window pane, dissolving into darkness all too easily. A faded photograph that becomes only a reproduction of itself as it fades from memory to a vague representation of a memory, to a vague memory of that. Someday you will doubt your own ability to recognise the real person the camera once snapped. They’re so mixed up with your old perceptions, with your dreams that desperately try to recreate, to repaint a version of you that you can maintain.

The memories become so smudged with hopes and dark fears hiding in the foot of the wardrobe. You wonder what was ever real. Who are we who sit here like shadows? Did we ever talk of cobbled future plans? Or was that a conversation you hoped to have next time. And next time never came?