Monthly Archives: August 2008

Love Poem #53

I have had a hell of an afternoon. Sometimes I think I will never really understand people at all.. I will never understand what drives some people other than utter selfishness and vengeance, their minds driven by a wilted charioteer who tells them they can have whatever they want, at any expense. I used to be a very egotistical person, a selfish person who took too much, and cared not for the people he took from. I have tried very hard to get away from that person, to consider myself lucky, so very lucky to have what I have got. I want for very little other than for the love I project to be reflected back at me. I am trying very hard, and I am happy through trying. I am sick of people lying, I am sick of people deliberately trying to make me feel inadequate, guilty, useless or that I should continue to suffer for mistakes I made in the past. I am sick of people who believe that their character and the characters of others can be summarised and judged by the pettiest facets, such as the books they have read, or worse, the music they listen to. I am sick of people projecting their politics as a badge of pride. I am sick of people who wish to see me miserable, broken, even after all these years. I am sick of complaining.

Another love poem for you all to speculate over.

 

Winter isn’t much more to me than

Nostalgic warmth and endless hands.

The biting cold reminds me now

Of frailty; my human faults.

Seeing you again,

Ever blossom’d beauty wrapped

In furs, and water-touched

(it’s cold, but we’re growing tighter).

Your summer with my season mixes,

Tears leaves from trees with sighing winds.

Remember, petals, fragrant ground,

As the sun last spring looked down on us.

(It seems to say)

‘Each season of your unity

Had a gentle tidal change,

Each one cleansing, dashing slow

Through sleeping in her arms.’

Your summer with my season mixes,

Brings us here today.

Cold stone steps and slate grey sky

As we look, uneased, towards the year.

(If what remains of us is love)

I say my love is spring again.

New, reborn in different shapes

Although ochre’s never far away.

I say again, my love is green

Break this bark and look.

Kick aside the dust, and see the birth at last.

 

Stop, and look again, now know

The warmth of summer’s coming fast.


Augment

I’ll write more of this tomorrow, too tired tonight EDIT 13/08/08 I know this isn’t a particularly good or interesting entry, but I wanted to start writing a story that takes place in a hospital ward (see the entry from 12/08/08 ‘Parts and Parcels’) and thought I should have some practice in writing about a medical situation. That doesn’t really excuse this weak and pointless descriptive writing exercise, but such things are what I started this blog for…

I lean backwards, my head coming to rest on a shiny, plastic pillow. Breathing deeply, I take in the surroundings; walls painted that disquieting antiseptic blue, vicious looking scalpels, hungry blades with edges so thin as to cause no pain as they slice through skin and muscle, fat and matter. The bed beneath my bare thighs is cold, but I know soon the plastic will grow sticky and humid beneath the inside of my knees.
I never know what to do with my arms. To leave them hanging over the side would look morbid, they would swing like dead rushes beneath me, but I cannot cross them over my chest, nor do I have room to hold them close to my ribs. I cannot worry about such matters; the light has been switched on over my face, and the white, surgical glow blinds me momentarily. Grey and purple motes swim in my retina, and for the first time today I feel a heavy rush of nausea, rising in my stomach like an ecstatic glow, a sickening vibration.
A few muttered words, and the mask slips over my nose and mouth. A cold, metallic taste is breathed in deeply, and I can feel it spread out around my body, down each vein, into each tiny capillary. I cannot move my consciousness away from my lungs, my chest. It’s as if I have never really known how to breathe before, have never paid the slightest bit of attention to this most basic of functions for existence. I cannot help but be strangely aware of every muscle contracting and relaxing, forever in the solid, steady rhythm I have carried my entire life. In, out.
I am told to count down from ten, and already I can feel the anaesthetic falling into me. I am nothing but a tiny pendulum in an enormous clock tower, run on a complex series of minute cogs, all turning away from each other. The tension of springs has loosened each second since my birth, gradually eroding until one day, I know, there will be no tightness, no release. The elasticity can only stretch so far before it falls, limp and lifeless as a dead polymer pulled from a tube. The pendulum was swinging furiously with clockwork adrenaline, and now it slows, each zenith is agonising in its descent, pulling my eyelids over my face like sodden blankets, like mud.
The swinging ceases, and I sleep.


Refugees. A study of madness.

I’ve started having these semi-hallucinations more regularly since I came back to Bristol. I’ll be lying in bed, thinking of very little. Or I will have just finished reading, or I will be sat on a bus early in the morning. I will feel a texture grow behind my head, a sort of sticky, rough swelling…and this texture begins to develop a surface pattern, which feels like a monotone paisley; strangely garish for something I cannot actually see. This invisible textured pattern will wash over me like a wave of nausea, and develop a sensation of falling, or floating, or flying. It’s nearly impossible to describe; the overall impression is one of utter insignificance, I am no longer this body, in this bed; I have been replaced by a cell-thick film of ectoplasm that coats the entire wall of everything I have ever seen.

Occassionally, this sensation will appear and depart quickly, in flash. When this occurs, I feel as though I have moved half a second backwards in time, as though there is a scratch, a mote on the vinyl of consciousness. This happened today, when the sharp morning sunlight thrust itself too hard, too quick into my bleary morning vision as I cycled, grim-faced and mumbling incoherently on my way to work. I want to say that in that moment, the entire world convexes itself, but of course it doesn’t. It is just a split second in which my perception takes on a sickening synesthesia; for in those moments I taste the wet, dull flavours of madness build in my throat, I can hear the high-pitched whine of these maddening textures penetrate the whites of my eyes.

And so we ask; what is this sensation? Madness? Confusion? Sickness? I am loathe to accept any of those words. I was introduced to the sinister projections of the mind as a child; violent allergic reactions and vicious convulsions left me pinned sweating on sheets, experiencing hallucinations more vivid and terrifying than anything drug-induced. I clearly remember seeing a lightbulb grow teeth and scream at me with a black, gaping mouth that filled an entire lifetime; I remember being attacked by a million, million, million small white ants, feeling their pin-like feet cut my flesh and fight to enter the gaps beneath my fingernails. My seven year old mind quickly adjusted to the idea that what I perceive could not be real; but the moment we force ourselves to doubt our senses, where are we left? At what point can you cut-off these convulsions or visions, and consider yourself lucid once again?

One of the ways I managed to deal with the regularly recurring abstraction of my sight was to consider the idea that I am not necessarily my body, not just a sum of my various components. And nor is anyone else. Where can we place our consciousness? In a finger? In an arm? A torso? People are too ready to accept that their cognitive being resides inside their skull. My outer-body experiences are not linked to any spiritualist ideas or practice, nor are they forced or encouraged. But perspectives shift, and we begin to suspect that we are refugees in our bodies, trapped for now in a shell which is not as reliable as we encourage ourselves to believe. I suspect that my experiences of synesthesia and hallucinations are not unique, and I would be eager to hear from anybody who has, on occasion, seen their consciousness convex, or has been overcome by sickening textures they cannot see.


Gargoyles

Gargoyles were placed on buildings for protection, to absorb sin and allow rainwater to pass through them, cleansing consecrated ground. I’ve been miserably reading Larkin poetry (which incidentally, I don’t find depressing or miserable at all, unlike most people I know who have read his work) which probably explains this entry. I just like the idea of our bodies being fragile temples, on which we can build a sort of gargoyle, a guardian to dull certain pains and allow water to cleanse us of memory.

Gargoyles

It’s funny how when sitting
On a roadside in the evening
With one you half remember from a diary
Years ago,

The past’s granite talons scratch you
With soft fists tainted with jasmine,
Or hotel sheets from Holland, or mock-tudor icing,
Snow.

You can feel stone hands grip tighter
On a heart you were sure was stronger
From a hundred days of placing small grey
Guardians on your chest,

And just one sentence leaves you helpless,
Like “you haven’t changed at all’ or worse:
“I always seemed to hurt the ones I know
That loved me best”.


Commedia!

I shall complete the Dramatis Personae and concept tomorrow, but here are the ‘lower class/minor arcana’ for now. I am really enjoying writing the second piece based on these characters (and in a way, we all are based on these characters…I’ve certainly met some of them this week, and recognise them in myself also) and will upload some snippets from the screenplay soon, as well as a new story for a slightly more sympathetc Harlequin/Alec Chinod for your reading delight.

 

The Servants

 

Alec Chinod

is a servant, but first of the servants at Zanni PLC. Never climbing any higher than his status as the office’s clown, he nonetheless continually distracts himself with his outlandish, scheming efforts, and his various underhand manouvres. It is his passion that lets him down, and his passion that drives him blindly, he cannot exist in any other mode than that of lothario, forever a predictable charmer, loud and ostentatious. Everything about Alec’s appearance is there to attract attention to the one woman he cannot have; from his diamond-patterned tie to his wrap around sunglasses (not forgetting the various bandannas and other headgear worn to hide that one unsightly blemish, that one wart upon his otherwise charming face), he is longing for Colombina. Colombina merely mocks him, and this mockery forces the poor clown to satisfy his raging desire and bottomless love with the lost temp girls on the third floor, each of whom takes it in turn to fall violently in love with him before having to leave Zanni PLC suffering from a broken heart. Alec Chinod displays nothing but hyper-confidence when he is in the office, but something suggests there is another, tragic and desperate side to him aching to escape, even though we understand that this cannot happen and his role is defined and unbreakable. A source of constant irritation for Mr. Taloney, the Managing Director, who always catches on he is being mocked by Alec a few seconds too late.

Alec had a drunken one-night stand with Isabelle, who has been engaged to Tony for several years and is apparantly deeply in love with him. It merely delayed the wedding plans, and Alec knows he could do it again should he want to.

Colombina

Like Alec, Colombina is also new to Zanni PLC (unlike Alec, she has never worked in an office before). She has come straight from a prestigious English university with a first-class degree in drama, and is uncomfortable with the fact that she is having to work in a call centre, surrounded by those more experienced and settled in their fate than she is. Originally scornful and mocking of all her new colleagues, her uppity, haughty ignorance and arrogance slowly fades (or simply concentrates solely on Alec whose amorous advances are as frequent as they are unoriginal). Colombina is fully aware that Alec is genuinely in love with her; however, she continues to mock and pour scorn upon him, and even she would struggle to tell you why. We, the audience can immediately see that Colombina does not wish to acknowledge the depth of her prejudice and discomfort with the servant status they share. Has a strained relationship with all other colleagues, who she is regularly chastising for petty issues such as their dress sense, which does not always possess the same level of taste and grace Colombina can afford.

Pedro

The much abused Personal Assistant of Mr. Taloney who was brought over from Italy with the relocation and burgeoning multinational status of Zanni PLC. Despite his job being more important than any of the ‘servants’, Pedro is paid a pitiful wage and is treated truly appallingly by his manager. Partly because of pity brought on by this, and partly because of his mediterranean charm, Pedro is much loved by his other colleagues. Colombina grows very close to Pedro, and sends him suggestive and romantic emails on the internal messaging service. Interestingly, she does not view Pedro with the same distaste she holds for Alec. Pedro’s working class and immigrant status elevates his attractiveness, makes him seem exciting, even slightly dangerous as an object of her affections. This is, of course, somewhat ridiculous as it is continually apparant that Pedro lacks any sort of backbone or assertiveness in his nature. It is as if knows fully well that he can never truly love her back anyway, simply because of the pressures Mr. Taloney puts on his every minute, all day, every day. They do, however, often meet in corridors and exchange amourous glances and occasional arrange to accompany each other for lunch or drinks, something which never actually materialises for a whole number of reasons. Hated and despised by Alec, who is regularly seen attempting to humiliate Pedro in front of Colombina, and is often successful (although the result generally backfires – his cruelty and boyish behaviour causes Colombina to take pity on Pedro, and it only serves to attract the fawning temp girls on the third floor further).

Mr. Pulce

A strangley omnipresent mute cleaner with a hunchback. He is often seen trying to communicate some elaborate and deep message to Alec using some form of sign language understood by nobody, although we suspect Mr. Pulce, through his impartial observations, holds the key to the entire situation…

 

  

    


Killing of a circus-hand on a roadside in the evening.


I am wondering why I have changed and stayed the same. I am wondering why the obvious feels so far away. I am wondering why many things, from many conversations, feel like the brightest hope and the most crushing defeat at the same time. I am wondering about summer dresses and dead horses.

Today, they collapsed the final tent
In the leaden rain that bruised my face.
The carnival’s colours seem far less bright
When moving away with the pace of a mule.
That speechless pony, it’s backbone sunken,
Pulls down the hill the lion cage.
Strength tamed each night for three bright years
Brought lethargy loitering in the hay.

Once we did spin with harlequin!
Willow stretch slapped our thighs for hours.
Fire once sprouted from your wet lips, and
Curled around my dancing feet. I remember!
We’d laugh at the clowns that rolled before us,
Those small, fat, insignificant men

Seem far too real without the greasepaint
Forcing from a cracked old face a grin.

(But love is a fleeting thing, especially for my Pierrout, your Columbine)

Barefooted, we danced in the sawdust
To a forgotten gypsy’s tune.
The gaudy circus soon turned guignol,
After stealing half my hearts.
Its been two years since I felt scratching
Between my eager toes, and then I had a taste
Of movement which almost felt the same.
But the carnival is over, and it trundles out of view.

(My hands have never felt older, my soles
Are torn from waiting.
And so at last I admit defeat, jestered by
Another town, of pidgeonholes and dove-filled sleeves).
The autumn came too fast this year, and
I sit on kerbs, watch seasons change.
But summer’s never far away, and neither is
The Jack of Knaves.


Hello new readers…

My blog stats tell me I have had quite a few new readers today, mainly Guardian readers which is an exciting and positive direction for my humble creative outpouring to be going in. Guardian readers, you are beautiful. I hope you spend some time exploring the viscous fruits of my daily trepannation, a process wherein imaginary Inca shaman, trapped in cyberspace drill small holes in my cranium to release some fluids onto a non-existent page for your enjoyment, with the added benefit of saving me from madness and ennui.

If you are new to this blog, can I please direct you to my novel extract on the previous page called “Between White Horses and Fallen Leaves”, because it is the only real ongoing work in progress which I desperately need feedback for. If you have twenty minutes to spare, please read it through. I hope you find it at the very least entertaining exploring a semi-fictional confession of a stranger in a magical-realist mode.

I’m very new to this writing malarkey, so am keen to hear opinions of all manner and temper. There is poetry, fiction, ramblings, film ideas, diary entries, reviews and secrets to be found in these pixellated pages, and there is much more to come (when I overcome the block I am experiencing currently, that is) to quake your minds and stir your loins.

Thankyou for your interest,

Benjamin Jiva Dasa Norris