Monday, April 25, 2016

Age, old age, has aimed at me. It was a collision intended.

Later, I got into my car and sat there alone for a few moments with my head down, holding my temples, and looking up to my left noticed the next car along was moving gently forward from its parking space. No. No, I was moving backwards. I had taken the handbrake off and I could not remember doing so. And so I drove back home and fell onto my bed and slept, and woke up delirious, not knowing what time it was, nor did staring at the time on the clock give me clarity, and I heard a voice outside on the street, young and lucid, and I felt frightened, vulnerable in my confusion.

Problematic to Grieve

A ninth planet interferes with our orbit,
And deaths are wrought in four months that ought to fill four years;
Four months that pared away tacit existence of seers,
Till pathways in my psyche are used to it.

Friday, April 22, 2016

April Decals

I had just come out of the post office in Farnham and was starting to walk along the pavement when something struck me hard on the back of the legs. I aspirated a somewhat retrained “What the hell?”, made two smarting leaps, whilst my arms like a gyroscope attempted to keep the box I was carrying stable and its contents protected.

Turning round, I realised that I had been twatted by a mobility scooter. The old man in the seat, having now come to a stop, raised his hand. The skin that covered his palm and fingers was shiny, the wrist thin under the wilting sleeve of a tweed jacket. I set the box down on a window ledge and asked him, “Are you OK?” He gave no reply and instead just whirred past me.

I recognised him as the man who used to live in the Tin House, who for years had tended land that tended to flood. He is known by the moniker “Milk”. When his wife died 15 years ago he refused to let the authorities take the body away.

Starting from the age of 14 years, in an effort to iron out my curls, I would spit into my hand and wet the back of my hair, before sitting upright for a timed-hour in an armchair, my head pressed continuously against the headrest. As family members moved around the living room, I sat still, pressing my head and neck back fixedly, double-chinned and with strangulated voice, looking ahead even when I was speaking with someone standing behind me.

Over a period of months, compressed by the occipital region of my skull the grey velveteen upholstery of the headrest became matted in the centre, turned slightly purple, like clouds at dusk over marshland; and it was all in vain, all in vain and for nothing that I sat fixated in my shorts, perspiring, like some ruddy-thighed Abraham Lincoln, trying to straighten, while others moved easily around me.

Friday, April 15, 2016

News of Roodias's Death Prompts me to Consider Empathy's Shortcomings

Immortality sustained by regime is irrelevant when people still die unguarded, violently, having imbibed crystal meth after the label on the bottle had led them to believe that it was a health drink. Those people who yet die swiftly, too swiftly for meaningful intervention, the “I am in trouble here, I am dying, I am dead”, are the only ones left in need of psychopomps to guide them to an afterlife. His family were from Goa, descended from Portuguese seafarers, and Roodias had a catholic funeral in Milton, Cambridge, a rood suspended by wires above the catafalque.

My ability to feel empathy is outpacing my literary prowess;
Whilst the poplar trees extending yonder in a row on my left seem to coalesce,
When I cut diagonally across this same field, ahead of my expectation,
And the point at which they have pivoted to appear, in profile, as a venation
Of trunks and boughs, as if belonging to one, comes sooner on the path each day. Elan
Of empathy draws Roodias expediently into the closed hand fan,
The scabrous guardsticks, of these poplars, and the inference there, before me in the blear,
Is of my father, his death prefigured – it is he who says “I am in trouble here,
I am dying, I am dead.” What virtue is in empathy that obscures Roodias,
In honed empathy for others when it is expeditiously gleaned of the bias
Towards my father, or myself? I must establish a sorrow with fidelity
To Roodias, peculiar, and his being, his face, essence, unpollarded, see,
Procrastinate, attentive, beyond the coalescence to scrutinise the rearmost
Poplars. He was my landlord when I was living in Histon. Whenever I burned toast,
The smoke alarm would go off in his Indian restaurant, which was situated
Below my flat. Sometimes, it went off randomly, weeks after the smoke had abated,
And Roodias became obsessed, coming round every night to inspect the alarm.
He was lovely, intelligent, but would talk incoherently, and this was his charm
And also what left me exasperated, until one day, when I was at work in
The library, my fury rose like a dragon with the jaws of a slumped salt-grit bin,
And I confess now to having visualised doing him harm, punching him as he,
In my imagination, was yet again standing on a chair, assiduously
Removing the alarm's housing. Later, when I arrived home, I found that the bathroom
Mirror had fallen and smashed on the floor. Roodias then came with a dustpan and broom,
And I felt guilty as he helped me tidy up the shards, pondering the evidence
Of telekinesis. Had my raving thoughts, in contrast now with the gentleness
Of our picking up of black-backed glass, made this happen? And then Roodias touched my hand,
And said, jokingly, as if amorous, “Oh Rogan.” I laughed, though after, he would stand
On the chair, talking accusingly about toast. What merit has empathy—“The cork
Under the cap should alert you, Roodias,” is what I say to myself as I walk
Despondently away from the poplars, then, “Why did you drink it; after admitting
To your daughter that it tasted so awful, why did you persist?”