Tag Archives: existential fantasy

With Good Intentions

Tears welled in his eyes,
his breast filled with relief,
another young life saved;
his surgical skills
again exonerated,
despite the excruciating cramp
around his fingers and
stiffness in his joints;
Master Surgeon still after
all these very long years,
shuffling down the corridor
eyes wearied by concentration,
flickering billowing gaslight
making it seem darker still;
He had saved a very precious
young life, that knowledge lit
his footsteps the way out,
out into the daylight;
A great doctor who had
fretted and performed
near surgical miracles,
now face to face
with the anxious mother,
“ Is He..? ”
“ He is fine,there are no complications ”
“ when he fell ill,I thought he might die ”
“ no worries now,I’m sure your son will
enjoy a long and happy life ”
“ Thank you Herr Doktor ”
“ Good day, Frau Hitler,”

Fleeing the Scene

Heart and lungs ached beyond mortal endurance as he fled, and heard with dread the footsteps behind him,seemingly chasing after him on the dark country lane.He cursed his own folly for having given in to a panic which as a veteran practitioner of the dark arts of espionage and assassination he ought not to have experienced let alone given into so cravenly.

He’d gotten there late in any event,long after the three others had commenced partaking of the sumptuous repast.And natural inquisitiveness,especially from Marlowe, had caused him to recount as plausibly as he was able the reasons.He realised this was more to put the other two, Poley and Skeres at their ease,for they too were more than a little anxious at his, Ingram Frizer’s tardiness.With formal,gentlemanly apologies now aside,he partook of the repast with uncommon relish.

His ride from Walsingham’s residence out here to Eleanor Bull’s reputable lodging house here at Deptford was far too hastily arranged and improvised for Frizer’s own professional liking.Scant planning and the gift of one of Walsingham’s own blades that had seen action across the water in Holland were hardly compensation enough for his disquieted demeanour. What was asked of Poley, Skeres and not least himself would  under more reflective circumstances been rejected as too hasty and open to failure.

But Marlowe the scribbler. the critic nonpareil,the one who shared his outrageous opinions with all and sundry;those who would listen and many more who heard them because of the timbre of his prevailing larynx,proved alluring enough for the three of them to go ahead with the bare bones of Walsingham’s idea

.With the sumptuous repast coming to an end and their bellies and spirits satiated with Mistress Bull’s copious wines and ales;the boisterous exchange of opinions both large and small took an inevitable turn,one that Frizer was alerted to wait for as patiently as need be by Walsingham himself. The turn that came when Marlowe, ever the disputant, could not hold himself or his temper so fused by imbibing,back from the precipice he himself was allowed to carve.

 Afterward,standing in front of their Master Walsingham ,they would all remark how so like one of Marlowe’s or indeed Master Shakespeare’s stage plays with its own cunningly crafted directions for the players it all seemed to unfold at the time.Which of course was a lie,as Ingram Frizer, his heart and lungs fit to burst on this deserted country lane in the pitch black with hell hound footsteps behind him,knew perfectly well.

He had to come out of this mise-en-scene more alive than that poor sod Marlowe whose last look in this passing mortal sphere was one of sublime incomprehension.And as his loping strides brought him ineluctably to the stables at the rear of the tavern by the bridge and his silken tradecraft let him deftly unhitch and ride off on a stolen steed back to Westminster with his report of mission accomplished- his mind conjured one more illusion.

What would Christopher Marlowe write of this night in one of his plays?With the footsteps heard on a dark country lane receding far, far into the background Ingram Frizer let his imagination roam thus:-

 ” Four figures in a room darkly conclaved,hushed breaths escape from the mirrors’ taut embrace.Leaving no trace of having been expelled from any mouth nor orifice so plain that might betray the breather’s fear.
Malice aforethought alone leaving imprints in the air amid this spectral scene. A coven’d place where meaning and word
intertwine where shadow and light danced their furtive Pavane,
Swirling about,word without meaning,meaning without form,form without content into an empty shapeless void.And in the dimness of guttering candles, the trails of reason evaporated and in the morning to come a new naive horizon bearing a false dawn. “

The Stranger, one last time.

There he sat,

in the place where he sat

the last time that we spoke

all those years ago;

And there he sat

as if he’d never left

and the years hadn’t passed us by;

” I’m still waiting for my absinthe that I’ve ordered ” ,

he ventured apropos of nothing,

his deprecating smile lingered

as he brushed some imaginary

cigar ash off the table;

A faint susurration arose

from a Greek Chorus somewhere

in the background of this

mise – en – scene ;

” Years in a desert of empty days,

years in a white nothingness,

Time itself marooned in

a white swirling fog “.

” Waiting..” the Stranger began,

my curiousity piqued,he continued,

” is the worst part of waiting “.

I concurred,which seemed

to set him at his ease,

though he glanced obsessively

at his pocket watch;

” Time flies and having flown

runs out of fuel and crashes

amidst the contretemps and vicissitudes

of our world “.

He once more glanced around for signs

of a waiter with the absinthe which he’d

ordered such a long.long time ago;

but no-one was forthcoming and

overcome by ineluctable disappointment

he rose and bidding me adieu

swept with customary insouciance

from the cafe into the busy boulevard;

as I turned my gaze from the departing stranger,

I saw the waiter arrive with a tray

bearing a singular glass..

**********************

Author’s Footnote:

The reader might care to also read ” A Stranger Returns ” -April 23 2018

and ” Encounter with a Stranger ” -October 3 2017 .

Sci – Fi


twinkle twinkle distant star
how I wonder where you are;

..the Delta-ships stopped,
our transmitters failed
though they had brought our
words back to us as palimpsest,
from long lost millennia ago,
distorted and disfigured
rendered alien
by countless doppler-shifts;
our own broadcasts came back
to haunt us,
to betray the illusion
that we were reaching out
and yet we never were;
leaving us bereft,
we commodified them,
all of our ancestors,
the patina of their vaunted
golden age ages old by now,
were bought and sold
and kept us all so amused,
that was in the time of the
Delta-ships and their last flight;
Somehow the Epsilon-points
became shrouded in mystery,
lacking knowledge
still we search for them,
but the apparatus is gone too,
Magellan without astrolabe
Galileo without plans,
seared into our racial unconscious
we yearn for the path
outward and home for
an end to cosmic labyrinths;
the failed gleaming,
the sputtering glimmer of
candles that burned so bright,
yet for so brief a span;
hierarchies perpetuate themselves,
vaunt their traditions
and call them “ours”
yet “we” no longer remember;
Our own images haunt us
deep deep into the night,
we awaken to the cadence
of our own scream,
we cling to driftwood
in a shipwrecked sea;
the Delta-ships are gone,
tumbled long long ago
into a memory hole,
and where are those
pinpoints of transfiguration?
the Epsilon-points,
that took us,always,
outward and home;
Amid the chaos of ages,
redolent with anguish and fear,
a haunted face peers
into the looking glass
and beholds darkly,
a trembling trembling hand,
in its tenuous grasp
an ancient artefact,
its sleek barrel
caressing his temple.

twinkle,twinkle…

Dali Exhibition:Bruges

” Quick !”,
” The camera !”
aim,
picture;
before the buildings all
up skirts and run away;
tourists huddled in gloomy
noonday shadows of The Belfort.
Nearby they’re exhibiting Dali,
though I can’t quite determine
its precise geographic location,
the blind waffle-vendor tells me,
indirectly that Dali has been
relocated to a nearby aubergine;
” You’d scarcely believe it had sufficient
room to house all of Dali’s effulgent textuality”
at that the midnight grinning tabby-cat
pronounced itself satisfied with its
idiomatic translation of the
sightless vendor’s account;
” unlock the secret aubergine portal and
you’ll never need to approach any lemon again,
citrussy traitors the lot of them!”
hectored the petty feline demagogue
in the spirit of an alfresco symposium;
I antithetically posited that not all
lemons were conspiratorial and was,
” I tawt I taw a puddy-tat” aware
that Belfries emphasised a deep human
urge for freedom and democracy ?
disquieted in that Sylvesterine manner
that all Cats display he reiterated
that Dali extricated the snot
from his own nose,flicked it at
the world and the critics said,
that it was art,truth and beauty;
” yeah,but what about all those conspiratorial Lemons?”
we concurred, the Feline and I.

Warriors

Running. Days spent running. Long days running away. Far, far away from that Hill. Senlac.Where Harold Godwinson fell. All that remained of his Housecarls, all that evaded the keen eye and whetted blades of those Normans was here in this rout.

They are seized by fear as they broach the deep autumn green of the forest with the day darkening about them. They trample into the swirling grey and brown. Heaving past trees so gaunt, so erect everywhere flecked with its shadows.

They feel feral eyes lurking, they smell that stench only warhorses make; the tang of their salivary breath as their stalking footsteps are tramping heavily on foliaged ground.

Warriors, masterless curs with their master dead, are breaking, staggering into a run. The run of hearts and minds now fleeing and pounding all at once as if seized by a madness. Their fevers fired by diagonal shafts of sunlight and arrows. Threading and piercing. Whispering their death, clattering and cutting.

Bone bared, sweat-browed fighters are now falling amid the dense. And of all the summers that are to come, those summers no longer are theirs but the forest’s.

The Saint,A Stranger Among Men

The Saint, A Stranger Among Men
A previous age, perhaps less materialistic than our present one would have recognised and
acknowledged his otherness. His air of inner spirituality which others say he carried with him
and wore as lightly as the finest cape about his shoulders. Shoulders that others imagined
might have sprouted angelic wings. Eccentric, a flaneur with a quietly assertive insouciance
he wafted along the boulevards with transcendent equanimity. Then on a day of no particular
significance, at least none that I could apprehend at the time nor afterward, I actually
encountered him at one of the more popular Cafes, this figure of some Left bank
intellectual /philosophical speculation /admiration/veneration. This itinerant dispenser of
wisdom and insight.
The Saint with the shabby overcoat and hangdog expression asked me if I could spare him a
few reminiscences. I replied that the change in my pockets changes with the changing tide,
though I could offer him some reflections instead. The Stranger sat back in his chair
ordered himself another absinthe and began whistling some nameless tune while he waited
for his drink to arrive.
” If all our pain and sorrow only came on the morrow would we set the alarm late or not at
all? taking the chance that vicissitudes had all somehow passed us by while we were fast
asleep.”
This I realised immediately was the aphoristic balm which the Saint dispensed with
customary generosity to those he presumed were in need of immediate spiritual relief of some
kind; which in his own inimitable view included just about everybody. Though not all at the
same time.
” And were we to store all our tears shed in our lives, how big would the bottle have to be?
Could we claim back some pennies if we returned it empty? ” I was inwardly responding with
something akin to mild annoyance, outwardly with a beatific smile bordering on rictus when,
the Saint glanced askance at his watch where time had stopped years ago.
He wondered aloud where the waiter might’ve got to with his drink? “ If we don’t feel the
suffering of others, how will we know if we have blood in our veins? ” thereupon the Saint
got up, bid me adieu and was gone.
Some time after he’d left I saw in the mirror that there was no longer a reflection there
of me.

Writer in Exile

Dexter Stevenson
lime green ascot
and redundant cigarette holder,
never shook Hemingway’s hand;
never came to write the
great American novel,
never realised the fecund
potential of his literary dreams,
instead he was anthologised
in limited circulation magazines
from Baffin Island to Crete;
After the War,
a solitary screenplay was
optioned but never produced,
he had known the people
who had known the people
on the lot at R.K.O.;
They had Joseph Cotten
or was it Van Heflin,
test for the part
of George Meredith,
dissolute foreign correspondent
contemplating suicide,
John Huston was interested in
directing but made,
” Treasure of the Sierra Madre ” instead;
Dexter Stevenson’s prolonged sojourn
at the Hotel Nacional caused
much embarrassment in later years
for the proprietor and guest alike;
the raison d’etre for the hospitality
had since passed away into legend,
no-one now remembers Stevenson’s
deserted clifftop assignation with
that victim of the pill-bottle
her infamous golden locks
her winsome ” pooh pooh pah dooh ”
something he didn’t get away from;
Here deep in the labyrinth,
D.S. finally got away
from himself.

Ciudad desierta ( Deserted City )

Mythic streets evaporate at dawn,

leaving only complacent memory

to recall imperfectly those scraps

and oddities of ephemera that

defy rational explanation;

a pristine franked letter posted

in Huddersfield 1841;several ornate

glass marbles that were a birthday

present to some Rhineland princeling;

the signature of Thomas Alva Edison

on a page awkwardly torn from a

Hotel register omitting its name,

the building itself demolished long ago;

a skeletal frame of a Penny Farthing

half buried amid the inconsequential

detritus of the communal refuse tip;

a yellowing poster of a once well known

brand of cough syrup,the discernible lines

of a now defunct city tram route;

And somewhere,the presence of an

inveterate aesthete and poet of civic

renown struggling to evoke a nostalgia

amongst those who had not read Borges

nor knew of his blindness.

I, Camera

There is in the photograph you’re holding

someone taking a snapshot

of someone else posing

for someone else’s camera –

who’s being photographed by somebody

taking a picture to post online,

and in turn is getting snapped

by others taking shots

who without knowing it

are clicked for posterity

forever pointing lenses at

others in others’ images

that reduce to a single dot on the horizon,

which upon magnification

turns out to be you,

holding a photograph

of someone taking a snapshot..