Creative Writing: Poetry and Prose

The look of flowers that are looked at

 

We are the first. Our weight 

rolls the earth 

under each tandem step. 

Historic bones reanimate

and something ancient 

curls its lips. Now,

 

shatter me. 

Yours is the unheard song my lips sing 

automatically.

Burgundy

 

I hear the king of England crawls to cot

to suckle out his days before he lies

enwombing earth with his fat corpse: go rot,

you mollycoddled brat, and break your toys

 

before departing! But if you insist

your darker purpose then I'll happy-pluck

my third, though craving more, and like a cyst

inflate my influence.

                                     Here comes she, look.

 

What!

            Speak again.

                                   I know no answer.

                                                                      No,

speak of that portion which yourself proposed

and tender me not nothing,

                                                   no –

                                                            for though

she may be fair, her substance is disposed

 

and like an empty purse,

                                          though royally gilt, 

is but a rich nothing

                                    now the thing is spilt.

However, it falls

an extract

Standing seraphic (as the train runs over arches), she extends herself. One-hip-lock silhouette in the last of winter’s yellow light; her cut quickens blood as trees pass before the window.

 

Eliot draws her shape in hurried biro. Dancing bursts of sketch, the needle presses out a black filled bed. Straining to simulate her hardness, he tunes the tendons in his hand but she escapes haptic description. Now, passively watching the bushes pass, his pupils flit from-front-to-left, from-front-to-left, from-front-to-left, until his pulse is eased into the rallentando of the station approach and his drawn-out exhalation steams the glass.

 

He pins his book page-down. Heated air spills onto the platform in the usual bustle of bags and bodies. Eliot caps pen. Passengers swap out. His new neighbor cautiously balances an open salad, spearing lettuce with a wooden fork. Eliot pictures the imagined girl in an oversized hockey shirt. He gives her the copper eyes of a diagonal-neighbor and warms over her unreal shadow that smudges and transforms. All the while, the horizon climbs up over daylight and the underbelly of the clouds blush violet. The train rolls west. Conversation simmers in the carriage as the stammering engine affords auricular intimacy. Copper eyes catch Eliot’s in the dark glass and recognize suspended laevoversion. He looks away too quick, smiles at nothing in particular, and is careful to affect a rolling focus as he resumes his lazy voyeurism: from-front-to-left.

 

A man with no jaw line is gently swaying in the gangway bellows, rubbing a tacky clod of snot between thumb and forefinger. He wipes it on the rubber seal of the motorized doors. Humming to his mobile, he lowers his lip and pinches his septum. As his hand moves away, the clod reappears; affixed to his philtral ridge, it hangs absurdly, brown-green, studded with muck, matted with a single nose-hair that, thanks to kneading fingers, works in and out of a Gordian node: a furry medusa piercing, listing drunkenly to the right. The train takes a corner and the jerking bellows send the snot-lipped man stumbling. When he reestablishes himself, the clod is gone.

 

Eliot’s gaze locks with the copper eyed girl. The rims of her irides are barked chocolate like an up-turned log. Concentric circles from caramel to butterscotch swirl around a wet pupil. Eliot, unblinking, maps the recessive ebb of moisture from his central cornea. His depth of field tightens monotropically. Dilating pupils deepen irides muscovado; whites are white white. Eliot’s conjunctiva furrows. There is a bruise of mustard in her iris. Eliot’s rectus muscles are in full spasm; corneal epithelium like butterfly dust. Just a touch of Grey Poupon.

 

Snapped like taught wire, Eliot’s eye-lids rush to clear the film of salt.

 

His focus inflates explosively, and ambience pushes in like an airship pushes through a hula-hoop. The perfunctory chatter of steel on steel is total. Parallel planes of mirroring glass create an infinity that catches and amplifies every sensation. Peach light ricochets and displaces the outside country. Eliot draws his face to a point. He presses his eyes with the heels of his palms and entoptic fires dance and coalesce into two churning rings of caramel light.

 

The guard announces her presence as an east-bound train cracks the wind, bowing the window like a tense sail.

 

 

Folding his scarf across his lap, Eliot neatly feels his future, unique and dreadful, smother him. The tall glass sits dew-dropped on a coaster: still and determined. Alice takes the straw and passes it across her lips. She moves the drink across the table. It is as though Eliot is living through a memory; an inevitable memory that is recalled and recorded in the same moment: ‘Soon the food will come.’

©2020 paul cockburn