St. Christopher’s driving a 4by4 down the rattling madness of a mud-baked highway stone sweating pathway and Cain holds him up with Excalibur in one hand and a burlap sack with his brother in the other. Chris and a kid who looks like Jesus help him dump the body in the backseat and they go flying off down the East Lancs road with American optimism in their hearts. Crossing over time and asphalt grass-painted lines and stones and alleyways and shiver sweat their way past police officers with black tits on their heads. Over river city cement waves and between smashed in faces of glass caves tricklin’ over fleshless scalps meeting with jagged ragged stones sagging with grey matter. Tree branch bones hangs overhears cast shadows on unmarked roadkill graves and Excalibur prays lets bury the fucker right here, you can use me as a shovel and Jesus spouts some homily before Chrissie slaps him from the front seat for speaking too loud and pushing his religion on other people and Jesus starts crying like he’d been stabbed in the right hand side of his stomach. A red race range leaf comes in the passenger window and worms into the burlap sack and wakes up Abel, who sits up boasting syphilitic insanity and Jesus cuts his head off with the flat of his hand, cos’ Jesus hates communists and Jesus invented capitalism, don’t you know that? Jesus hates dead people not staying dead. He tries to tell the wolf pack about Lazarus, but Johnny Cash is playing on the radio so they shout for him to shut the Hell up and his white robe says it’s Hades, cos’ we aren’t pagans so Cash shoves a middle finger through the radio and says shut the Hades up and Jesus shuts the Hel up. They find a clearing with a fireplace and light it up with the lashing pattering bloody-minded rain that happens when Romeo kills whoever the Hades Romeo kills in that teenage drama and Cain says more people would’ve followed Jesus if he looked like Leonardo DiCaprio did in that Shakespeare film, you know, Shakespeare presents Trainspotting. There’s a creeping warm/old air in a second-hand atmosphere and Cain throws ten years in an open-necked shirt onto the fire, cos’ he likes his poetry quiet and slow, but he won’t stop reciting the advert for chips – Cain’s proud to say that he likes Motorhead and it turns out he’s wearing a t-shirt from the first waves of Judas Priest’s Epitaph tour and he’s complaining that that was three or four years ago and they’re still touring and do they think they’re fucking Bob Dylan? They bury Abel’s body with his feet pointing north and build a church over his chest and Jesus calls it the stone, the family planning centre the stone on which he’d build his church. Cain’s crying cos’ he can’t find is brother’s head and he thinks he’s too pretty to go to prison and what’s so really wrong with filicide anyway? St. Chrissie drives him all the way back to Wigan, and the lead singer of Merry Hell’s having a Guinness with Abel’s head balanced on a shovel and he keeps calling him Delia and planting kisses on his eyelids like copper coins. Meanwhile, Chrissie sells Jesus to some bloke called Peter for a tank of diesel which costs twice what petrol costs/even though its made from fag ends and scraps of diaries from Greece/and a coca cola life and a pint glass full of salt and vinegar crisps. Chrissie’s on the A85 when he realises the crisps are cheese and onion and he pulls a U-turn when he gets hit by Noah and the mystery Machine coming the other way. So Jesus levitates himself outta the hole and goes for a piss in the long grass like some black-skinned pygmy and comes out covered in ticks like a Parson’s terrier in a tartan necktie and Peter chases him around with a stolen Legionnaire’s spear and don’t you know he used to be a fisherman of men so catching a bearded dwarf shouldn’t be too much of a hassle and there’s a low-speed chase happening in the jungles north of England. Chrissie and Cain? They wrote a few songs and sold them to these four likely lads from Liverpool and told them to ditch the leathers and the quarry attitudes and the drummer and maybe try something a little smarter, like black suits and white shirts and, hey, cut your hair around bowls why don’t you?
Dark long subaquarian death like Franco-Irish still birth – cutting fence wire like shaving pubic hair and writhe in foreign riverbeds to avoid the dogs – they climb into Humvees with 50 Cal poetry strapped to the wheels and you can see them sniffing out of the window with white petrol fumes. Hammers clawing stone like dead things at gravestone graffiti blooded and I heard that tyres used to burst when an arrow from Azincourt wormed it’s way through the dirt and the years and the distance and the ocean asphalt. Orgasm kiddies playing hop skip jump rope with semi-auto headlights spittin’ at ‘em, and the conceivers are fuckin’ in the back seat so’s they can try it again in a year or two. Blood smear animal testing and they shouldn’t be allowed in, open the gates, they ain’t Leonidas or his bones!
Anyway, best comes to best, we’ve got black-skin seeking missles and G3’s that can target Polish accents left over from the Lukewarm wars. Whatcha worried about, ye liberals, it ain’t like they’re people anyway, they don’t like the new Mumford & Sons album cos’ they don’t like generic music and they think Frappucinos are a little pretentious, and they can’t stand moustaches on white skin. Like little black binary code on a product’s porcelain plastic wrapping – scratch ‘em off with yer work car keys and don’t you forget to get ya shit together and ring Jill, cos’ still she don’t wanna let you have yer social for the month even though you’ve applied for her job.
You ain’t got no right to live mate, live here or anywhere.
I mean, it ain’t like it’s to do wit the colour of yer skin, or whatever kinda dago god yer pray to.
It’s pragmatism, innit mate, y’know it ain’t nought more’n that.
An don’tcha know th’ liberal media’s always tellin’ me that cops are killers ‘n murderers an ours would be too if they had guns an’ syphilis fingers?
Man all the kids and the blacks, you know they wanna kill me, an’ ain’t they basically the same anyway?
I heard tha’ the blacks eat boiled pancreas, y’know, but fuck ‘em cos’ mine bled outta insulin a while ago, an’ ain’t history defined by the winners and right defined by the knowledge they took an’ the history they left?
Y’know, I could fit a coupla refugees on my floor, but I’d be worried tha’ they’d rob me blind when I went to sleep, an tha’ the low-hangin’ fruit I pick from bars and nightclubs I don’t fit in will see the size of their dicks and choose them instead.
Y’know, I pro’ly couldn’ pass the citizenship test, z’alright tho’, don’t you know I came from English stock an’ seed an’ thighs an’ I’ve got the whites an’ my teeth ain’t so straight and my accent’s all over the fuckin’ place?
These teeth man, they’re my trademark, only an Englishman could ‘ave teeth like these, that olive bastard who lives downstairs, y’know he’s got all ‘is own teeth?
Bet e’ got ‘em on the fuckin’ NHS as well.
I’m gonna find a klan an’ knock a few of ‘em out and make a denture outta ‘em an’ see if he notices and then we’re gonna dress like Johnnies and cut ‘is heart out.
A Concerned Citizen
Who Reads The Daily Mirror
At 8 O’clock Every Evening.
I dreamed that I walked in the ashes of the Third World War.
I’d taken up smoking as soon as the first missile flew and Ireland split apart to reveal the children of a special friendship that went a little too far and a thousand primed heads pointed towards the moon.
I dreamed that the Conservatives burned their unearned officer’s outfits and clothed in their accents walked amongst the rabal mass of the Labourers and the shirt-chequered liberals and the nazi-coated taxi drivers.
I dreamed that a plump-faced cherub addict wavered and split and let his dog-jowled confederate lead the charge suspended from hydrogen balloons like a dragon-rider.
They stood on the shores and beat back the black-skinned Atlanteans to emerge from the water, not humans.They burst the bloated frogs and butchered the pigs who swam from their own islands.
I dreamed that I heard the screams and fell asleep to a sound like a butcher’s axe and I woke up in a desert rock sound and walked for miles and coughed that black tar from my lungs with every thirteenth step.
I came across a white-skinned figure with milky eyes sucking the moisture from the moss that grew over a tumbled statue of Billy Joel. I dreamed that this man had no arms, no legs and was completely hairless. His lips were overly-elongated, and he was a barnacle on stone and this was what humanity had done to itself, and I couldn’t bear it.
I walked the world, traversing water with the ocean on my tongue and crossing sandy plains with memories of a Joan Baez documentary rattling in my stomach and making me nervous.
I came back to the fallen city, old and wizened and ravaged by my actions and this hairless creature mocked me with its permanence and I thought of George Washington and dropped a rock on its snout and it spasmed and I could hear it choking and I let it drown on starvation and oxygen.
From a purely aesthetic point of view, this guy looks like a fucking freak; never mind the eroticism. I’d recommend a hearty-dose of iron, straight through the heart. Or, if you can’t get planning permission, I’ve got a furnace out back that we can use instead? I normally use it to heat the garden in summer, cos’ you know how fickle and flighty these Welsh weathers get. I found it on a website I was running some SEO for, and don’t you know they gave it to me for a discounted price? It’s a YPLC, but I wasn’t expecting the half a percent discount – if I had of done, I’d have probably upgraded to the YP9C.
The Right Lord Honourable Sir Peter Morrison
P.S. Tell Bush I know about the legacy, and Lara Croft is looking into it, but she keeps getting killed by this Tiger demi-god every time she steps out of her front door and she’s locked her butler in the freezer again – we’ll have to cover it up; don’t want the plebs to hear.
‘You know, the trouble with the whole cog in the machine kind of resignation is that it still justifies inactivity or, rather, a kind of distant activity. It suggests that your existence, that your continued servitude, is essential to the operation of all things; that you have the power to watch it all crumble down, if you wished it. The truth is that every cog is actually a link, a miniscule, molecular section of a great chain, wrapped so tightly around humanity’s wrist that one, two, a hundred, a thousand, could shatter at once and it wouldn’t even weaken the shackles.’
He was talking so passionlessly, so devoid of emotion, that I was inclined to believe him. He didn’t speak with the fire of revolution; he didn’t want me to follow him into hell and fire and the furious sound of the Idiot – I don’t know why he spoke to me as he did. He was reading Dostoyevsky, he told me, and he thought it was funny as anything and that larr really wanted his audience to hate him, didn’t he, that ol’ Dossie? I mean, why’d he use such big words and why bother printing on paper at all, when Amazon made it so easy these days and he’d have made more money. Hell, if he’d have been clever, got hisself a good agent and used the bad vodka he drank as a marketing strategy, he might have got a movie deal like that J.K. Rowling and he could change the world with Twitter. After all, ain’t it about time that someone did?
He’d been shredding his vocal chords for hours, man, long after the guitar player and the keyboardist and the drummer and the backups had gone home. It was just him and the bass player left, and the bass was a tall pale, lugubrious fellow who kept putting Smirnoff ice’s into a pint glass he took from behind the bar and kept whistling with brain freeze. His voice was a little horse, a pony maybe, and it kept breaking loose from his stirrups and bursting into the plains. It was passionless in his throat, like grammar and written words and passionate when it dropped to a croaking gasping breathing whimper.
They’d been on tour for a few days and he’d already started noting his philanthropic notions down on receipts and toilet paper cos’ he thought it was more artistic than paper. When he went to the toilet, which turned out to be an alleyway a few feet beyond the smoker’s area, bass told me that the singer had bought a pack of paper and binned the paper and wrote poetry on the receipt – he’d said it was metapostmodernism and then he’d giggled himself to sleep in the driver’s seat when they stopped at a red light. He’d started making a note of all the change he gave to charity and was tallying it up and kept it in his underwear in case he died like Hendrix in the middle of the tour and he’d be able to bribe his way past St. Peter and his AC/DC/CDs and bluff all the vomit flecks and bloodstains on his jeans.
He came back foaming with rabies and said he had syphilis, so bass rang the rest of the band up and they reappeared in their ratty old van and I thought about letting them sleep at mine, but my wife had just bought a new carpet and anarcho-punks who were reading Dostoyevsky and living their poetry rarely take their boots off and they have loud voices and I didn’t want my living room to smell of horses and sound like piss.
Savio’s screaming down in the salt lake dust mines of education;
Savio’s screamin’ about broken bodies on broken slave-drivin’ wheels/
burn with embarrassment like it were lickin’ at yer heels/
an’ Jesus moans that if the machine weren’t so fuckin’ odious then he couldn’t find no melodious tune to cry.
Oh, Mario, you come down to Salford one a’ these days an’ I’ll show you
show you the student products/
sparkling water hewn from human aqueducts/
an can you tell these people to throw their bodies on’t gears an’t wheels
and see for you get high on knock off product from the toilets in Lady Hale.
Y’know, Savio, I heard the captain fell off the top of a cop car and was taken by the FBI/
you never wore a red armband anyway, they’ve all ‘eard him sigh,
so I guess yer off the hook/
but maybe you mounted a copper one time too many or you wore the wrong shade of tie
– maybe you picked out crimson cloth?
Sales clerk politics,
political sales instructor with blood in yer veins
an’ not on the gears an’ the wheels an’ the machines
an’ the cobblestone streets/
ain’t you just some romantic Petofi cos’ yer an American
an’ he was only a poet,
smirkin’ against a stone foreskin’s bloodless lanes/
yer an ideal mate, an activist like p-Rick to aspire to,
preachin’ broken bodies like a real humanist, strung on wood and wire and the printing presses and plump optimistic thighs
with as much meat on ‘em as sometin’ you’ll find an eagle dropping.
Y’know, we started calling him St. Mina, cos’ of his long, morose face which adopted this weighed down, grey kind of look. His shoulders were slumped, like a scholar’s, and his hands moved in a heavy motion, turning the wheel like he was steering a cruise liner down the long, lazy lines of an African river. We didn’t really see the back of his head, only the frames of his hair around the raised neck rest.
He hadn’t spoken much, we reckoned he was shy, but he did give out a nervous little grin every time we called him a saint/pretty sure he was an atheist – he had that kind of look about him; he was too pale to believe in much of anything, and he handled the car a little too well to be a virgin. He’d picked us up, Machiavelli and me, a few feet on from a bridge we’d been thinking about throwing ourselves off.
He’d been trying to tell me that, once you tried to kill yourself out of hunger, the police’d definitely give us a meal, at least. I said they’d probably just lock us up.
‘Great!’ He said, his handsome blue eyes reflecting the Irwell. ‘That’s three four meals a day! At least! After what’s been going on, they can’t afford to get anymore bad press! Seriously Bull, we’ll be living like kings!’ I didn’t get the American obsession with royalty. He called me Bull cos’ that’s what I was, to him – A bloody John bloody Bull – he called everyone in this country Bull.
We spent about half an hour watching the river, and the optimistic Yank tried to convince me to drown myself for some yellow paste in a tin tray in a four-walled room with a wide door and metal bars in place of windows. I couldn’t stop thinking about Bob Dylan’s solicitor’s pig and a four-star general with a personally engraved bazooka and a plan to murder Jesus. I gotta say, Machiavelli was persuasive, but I’d seen him turning that cheerful charm on more than one woman in the few days since I’d known him, and it’d stopped working on me. Just the night before, he’d been sleeping between some student’s legs, and they only let me crash under the table after it started raining.
Anyway, this lad pulled up and asked if we knew how to get on the northbound motorway and Machiavelli said sure, where are you headed bull and he said Edinburgh and he’d said great bull we’ll show you the way bull and we were cruising along with a Saint in the driver’s seat before we knew it. Machiavelli asked him if his shoulders were hurting and he said no and we laughed and he didn’t know why and he asked us our names and Machiavelli told him and I said don’t you know I studied under Adrian at Canterbury and I told him he was a rip-off of amen hallelujah and Machiavelli howled his laughter out the window.
The American slept after a few minutes and I told Mina not to worry, that he thought he was Paradise and he was just looking for Professor Moriarty. The saint asked me what I was doing following him and I couldn’t think of an answer. I think he forgot I was there, cos he started spit shouting his thoughts like he was singing along to the radio.
‘Oh, these dry, dark days!’ He coughed his way onto the M6. ‘Can you not feel it, feel the heat rising from the cobblestones, feel it warming the palms of your hands? Can you not sense the illicit lightness in the air, and the vague sense of guilt held by those who remain indoors? It is on days like these that the office workers feel trapped in the chairs, that the men and women with good jobs pull at their hair and gnash their teeth and dream of the weekend. In fact, can you not hear them? Listen to their woeful cries; that this weather holds out just a few more minutes, a few more hours; just a few more days! Of course, it will not.’
And I said; I get what you’re trying to do, man. You just need to get yourself an accent, cos’ no one cares for English anymore – hey, maybe that’s what I’m looking for; an idiolect all of my very own; a language for the road, to make the miles bleed into one small room, on the first floor of a terraced bed.
Why Me lord?
Why Me knowing the name of the king as he creeps and crawls through sacrificial alters and whispers in the ears of blood-mad dago fiends and bankers and wankers and pot heads and people wearing American baseball caps indoors cos’ they think they’re Bieber but a more hardcore version of Bieber, y’know.
Why Me lord, Me knowin’ the inevitable blackness that birthed you and loathin’ the thought of it all.
Why Me lord, knowin’ the slave-whip Buddha preaching exhausted contention an’ satisfaction to people with ugly skin colours and flat faces, narrow hungry eyes scrabbling to taste your monk’s boot.
Why Me lord, what have I ever done to deserve awareness – what right had ye to rape me with free will?
What right had ye to birth so diverse a people, and make a fierce world?
What right had ye to make us fiercer still; that we could kill with inactivity and social laziness and a conscience developed through insincere miscommunication through electronic airwaves with no repercussions and we’re all warriors behind the alphabet, thanks to ye.
Why Me lord, watching dystopian poetry flickering across these cities of men in streetlight articles and the yellow light of tender apartment blinds. Why Me lord, with pavement silhouettes and bowed heads by laughing women flaunting stark forms above these sex-ridden streets.
Why Me lord, with ART, the disease, carried by short men who look much taller when they’re smoking online, and who are too slim to wear the shirts they wear and they shirts they print – carried by ugly women who express their individuality through the metal-lipped conformity – by handsome men who ink their flesh with dried out beliefs and prom-queen ladies who howl at the lights of bigger cities than you’ll find in John Bull country.
Oh My lord, why did you make these lightning synapses so easy to love?
Why me and mine pretending to creativity, why give me dreams when I must give them away and live nightmares instead?
Oh My lord, would you have me know the name of the king? Would you have me acknowledge, finally, that I won’t do these things for your love, but for my self-loathing? Will you understand that all the women that I love are not for me, or have been dead for a hundred years?
Why Me lord, playing the seven sins with a pen and stopping every now and then to jerk off like bloody semen rewards? A white Johnson with grim lined lips and calcium-deficiencies and I can’t even lift my foot anymore without howling from a ghost pain I gave myself, cos’ I’m real, y’know – I’ve made these decisions myself and if it kills me than it fuckin’ kills me, but the point is this protracted suicide was my choice.
Oh My lord – why’d you let me make a choice at all if this was the conclusion?
Is it because I’m guilty of wanting someone to love?
I don’t need to be loved, Lord, I just need to explode, glitter for hours at a time like a neutron bomb caught on repeat by some VHS in the 90s.
I need to throw my money at people and say I don’t want anything, I want to be a gold mine and everyone around me can be Solomon and drain me dry of every penny I have and I’ll walk home with other people’s thought blasting from my ears and keeping my own at bay.
I’m guilty of hating woman for wearing high heels when we have a twenty minute walk ahead of us, I’m guilty of resenting her for loving me, for keeping me in chains and shackles, even if I were to wear them anyway.
My arm is heavy with links, and it is only the one inscribed with her name that I assault, whilst black coal iron bearing the legend home sits beside it unmolested.
I’m guilty, Lord, guilty of silent howling at alabaster mannequins in the latest fashion moving down the street, of handsome men in ironed shirts and even smiles and women I couldn’t pick out of a line up.
I’m guilty of reeking with guilt, of tasting of guilt, of sweating guilty sweat.
I’m guilty of the crime of personality, guilty of half-formed and fully-fledged ideologies and of entering art exhibitions with pre-conceived notions.
I’m guilty of not being a blank canvas, but some stained, torn thing with echoes of lyrics.
I’m guilty of Prometheus’ torture, of Odyssean dog-loyalty.
Guilty of torn pages pasted to the tears in my porcelain skin.
I’m guilty of pretension, of applying meaning to those things which have no meaning.
I’m guilty of outrage – guilty of contempt.
Guilty of weaving bloody fragments from these thick, swollen monuments to moments that came by in a flash or never came by at all and, Lord, I just can’t move my fingers fast enough to keep up.