The Lost Children III

“Come again to mock child?”
“Not to mock, no, but to seek peace. I cannot live with you as my enemy nor can you with me as yours”
“Leave child, there is no peace that can be made between us. You understand nothing I say, you see an attack in every word and you throw my love back at me as if it means nothing to you. There is no place where we can stand together as one. When we stand together, it is only to face each other as enemies. But I love my enemy. I love my enemy more than I love those whom I call friend. So what should I do when my enemy who I love hates all that I am, sits above me in judgement and calls mistake every time I stretch out a hand? What shall I do but turn away and say ‘be gone, leave me!’ because I cannot fight you my child, you who are determined to hate me and be my enemy because I cannot strike against you who I love. But you don’t love. You would happily walk away and abandon me with no feeling at all because you are a selfish, overindulged child who knows not the care with which the love of others should be treated. Now you cry child? Now I have cut you. How is it that you come to feel child? When I offer you all that I am your tongue hardens to cold steel but when I give you what you want, to be free of me, you cry tears as if you love.”

The Lost Children II

“Tell me what you want child, tell me child and it will be yours. I have worked hard child to be able to make you this offer, this offer that so few are given. I sacrificed much so that I could lay at your feet all that I hoped you to have and I give it to you freely without asking anything in return other than acceptance. Is that not a true gift? Say something child, your silence wounds me. The blankness of your eyes speaks of your thought many miles from here. Do you think of the sun glittering on the clear waters of a deserted beach? Do you think of an icy wind whipping your skin into life? Do you think of the noise and colours of a city you have never seen or the sky lightening on a night that has seen no sleep. Do you think of love child? What do you think of, that gives your face such a look of sadness and foreboding? No danger lies ahead for you child, only the easiest path to happiness that I could give you.”
“Why did you make it so? You do me no service by giving me so much. Is not that which is of greatest value that for which we must give part of ourselves? It is not the purpose of only my life but of all lives to find something for which you are willing to give a living piece of yourself so that it may live forever and find life in all who look upon it. Only then do our works build the treasure of humanity higher. Our waking life is but a moment, but a moment of such beauty, such wonder and such power that not a single part of it should be wasted on passive acceptance. You asked me if I thought of love, a kind of love yes, I thought of purpose which is the love of one’s own life. To live with purpose is to love life with such force that part of your self becomes one with it and lives on the works you create forever. You cannot give another purpose, though you give with love, for it is your love and not theirs. You spoke of a true gift, but what the gift you give me truly is, is simply the ideal you hold of yourself. I thank you with all my heart for giving me what you think is your self, perfected, but what I want is you as you truly are. That is love. That is a true gift. All else is an abstraction, a rose hued looking glass through which to view the past.

The Lost Children I

You smile too much you lost children, you must not know that you are lost, too naïve to see that every adventure has a return path, that eventually the land under your feet will run out and all that remains is the endless blue above and below. Can you fly child, can your breath air through the water? No child, no-one can, it is impossible. But you don’t believe it. You make no response, do not refute the claim, you only stare into the blue, with a look of one who believes anything is possible, who believes that in order to prove that something is not impossible that it only has to be done once. You do not understand. I once thought this too until I learnt what an anomaly is – a mere blip in the rules of the world that are set, a momentary loss of consciousness that allowed a singular mistake to remind us to be always vigilant.
“Why do you look out and say nothing, offer no argument or tell me I’m wrong child?”
“Because you are not wrong yet.”
“But you believe I am.”
“No, I believe that soon you will be.”
“But if that is true child, then why delay an inevitable conclusion? Is it because you fear that you may not be right?”
“You do not give up on your life, or consider it to be finished simply because your death lies ahead. So I do not abandon the truths I have simply because I know that there end will soon come.”
I see the lost children disappearing into the forest to do nothing and claim to be changing the world. They do it with such energy with such joy as if they know something that others do not, as if they have found the truth that is hidden from the others, as if they are the first to feel this way. But they all come home, heavy eyed, to the homes they left and continue on with the lives that they were trying to run away from. They are trying always to find never-never land, without seeing that in the name it tells them already that it cannot be found. Never was, never will be, for we must all grow old.

On Sex and Art

Sex makes the vicious, untamed beast in all of us beautiful. Sex is for the body what art is for the soul, that which connects the physical with the spiritual, the obvious with the very real unseen, a mirror to the face that fears its own reflection. From naked vulnerability flows something that supersedes the power of explanation, defies rationality, and destroys the pain and isolation of knowing what should not be said. Hands speak it, lips speak it, eyes glisten with it, bodies shake and shudder with it. The soul fearlessly exposed, breathes the purest honesty, beyond corruption, manipulation, out of reach of the arch manipulators. It is beyond their understanding because it cannot be argued with, only covered up or ignored. How can love be made real without lovers, truth without belief, fear without monsters in the shadows? The rational, the orderly, the serious is only empty talking, carefully controlled thoughts of a carefully controlled mind that can open the door to the soul but can never enter it because through the door is a violent storm and perfect union lies in the peace of its eye.
Without this nakedness of soul or body the vital spirit that binds beyond the mundane and superficial is destined for demise and extinction under a weight of thoughtless unemotive words. It will desperately cling to rationality and certainty as all that remain but will forever feel incomplete. Think of the cruelty of withdrawn hand, the desire to touch that cannot be, the longing denied only by a rigidly moulded mind. For what?! Why suffer the in the grey mass of frigid, clothed bodies craving intimacy, craving contact, craving a release and true pleasure but it will never come. Not without the sex, not without the art and not without the honesty that each brings surging into the conscious mind. We would die a death at our own hands, in service to our own perverted belief in the quality of restraint, logical only in the illusory confines of its existence, which will come to a quiet and meaningless end in the absence of a vital soul. Why that, when death can be a peace, understood and earned through a fully lived life, through love and sorrow, through an appreciation of the interconnectedness of all things, through a devotion to creation.
Sex can make art of love, dancers of bodies and poets of mouths. Creation and imagination bond people to each other by speaking the thoughts that defy definition, but it is that which defies definition that comprises the limitless soul. From the depths of pain, loss and the cruelty that claw at the soul to the passion, brilliance and joy that galvanizes and immortalises it against all destruction for the infinite span of time, true art can give them form. Whether image, word, sound, voice or sensation, that form can speak to the soul that cries out for understanding in the face of emotions that might rip the soul to pieces or make it glow euphoric. Sex makes universal creation personal and personal creation universal. Neither art nor love will suffer anything other than passionate and brutal honesty in its creation, nor unjudging freedom in its practice. Neither can deliver anything that can be eaten or sold but without them all food is without taste and all the money in the world will not bring satisfaction.

The Mortgage Broker

The Shark next to me looked nervous. He kept sliding up and down the chair making the denticles of his skin emit the rough sound of sandpaper being dragged over the pavement. The hollow black eyes that were black fear in the water looked vacant and sad, his rows of jagged teeth were drawn into an uncomfortable smile as he took laboured breaths in the human way. He wasn’t the only one. The Cloud sitting across from me kept darkening to heavy grey and drizzling, leaving a growing wet patch below its seat. The Tree to its right reached guiltily over with its roots to soak up the Cloud’s leavings, with the intense shame that permeated everyone sitting in this shining office. The Dark Oak Bookshelf to the Cloud’s left was much less impressed, turning its back towards the Cloud out of fear that the moisture might sully its fine finish or the ample leather bound volumes that lined its shelves. Besides, there was a certain tension between the Bookshelf and the Tree.
The only door at the end of the long chair lined corridor opened and the Mortgage Broker stepped out, with his arm around a particularly pleased looking old lady. I say old because of her grey hair and the way she dressed but her face was flushed with youth. Her cheeks glowed as she repeatedly bowed her head, offering profuse thanks and supplication. He waved them off as unnecessary but his face rippled with pleasure at every gesture and his eyes drank in the attention of his audience with manic glee. When their attention weaned he sent the smooth faced old lady on her way with a gentle pat on her bottom that made her blush once more.
The Mortgage Broker was tall and dense. His broad shoulders filled an immaculately tailored brown pinstripe suit as if it had been poured over him. His shoes were so highly polished that the black leather shone as brightly as the silver and ebony buckle at the heel and his flawless white smile shone brighter still. Every tooth was perfectly symmetrical, square and white, just like the jaw that held it. His hair was glossy and unmoving. The lines made by the comb that pulled it back still prominent, straight and meticulously manicured and a single curl that sat on his forehead. He reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a small, black, leather notebook that was as shiny as his shoes.

The Bell Tower II

I had never been in this section of sewer pipes. Even in the dark I could see that they were different, lacking the uniformity and symmetry of the pipes I normally wandered through. They twisted and turned, branching out into new pipes of different sizes at odd intervals. They even smelled different, less dull, damp, mould and more earthy like a compost heap.
“Where are we?” I asked
“In the service network. It’s been built bit by bit as needed by pipers to connect new homes.”
“I didn’t know if I would see you tonight. I thought that maybe you got cold feet.”
Evan stopped suddenly looking frustrated and tense.
“Well I knew you’d get caught and need rescuing so I thought it would be better just to stand back and watch for a while and wouldn’t you know – I was right” he said coldly but with a mocking smile that offered neither apology nor justification, “We have to keep moving or they’ll find us.”
“The night guard?”
“No. They don’t even know about these pipes. I mean Marius.”
“He’s harmless, he just likes to talk because he thinks that it makes him better than everyone else and insightful in some way. Besides for all his eloquent delusions I like Marius.” I said it more defensively than I meant to.
“Marius isn’t anybody’s friend Peter, he’s just some self-appointed chief who likes to feel that people respects him and when he couldn’t get it in the city he came out here and started telling people about the virtues of the work we did and how we could use the invisibility that the city-dwellers wanted so badly to live our own way, on our own terms, like this was better or something, living in the middle of fucking no-where, with those ungrateful fuckers in the city thinking they’re so much better than us, bowing down to that stupid Bell Tower.”
“Marius isn’t from here?”

Cairo Madness

Welcome to Egypt the place where logic comes to die. Nothing makes sense here and it never will. This is a place built on explosive mud where everything is swinging and swirling and sinking. Everything that rises will eventually sink and get covered in dust. When it doesn’t sink it explodes in small bursts so that there is rubble everywhere. Was there a war here recently? Piles of rubble are the only memory of what looks like a forgotten air raid. There’s no interest in rebuilding. The white lines on the road have faded and won’t be repainted. No roads have no rules and everybody is constantly jostling and pushing for the single one lane escape to another crowded street.
So you take a train, but it’s so hot you sweat through your clothes in the time it takes you to travel the two stops home. The doors open and people stream out like boiling water from a high pressure hose, pushing and shoving so you somehow find yourself on the station platform without your feet even touching the ground. The smell of vegetables rotting in the sun greets you as you climb the stairs into the market, back into the open air that now feels cools by comparison. Its madness everywhere, everything swirls together into brown stew, brown dust, brown building, satellite dishes everywhere.
Dinner at the local chicken shop, I was starving, had the half chicken special, rice, salad swimming in a day of vegetable sweat come salad dressing. Mahmoud is a good man, his son Fawzi is a cool kid who runs the show, eight years old and still working, running dishes at 10pm. They had dinner while I was there, half chicken between three, I felt guilty and left but not before Mahmoud insisted that I join him for a cigarette. I go to pull my pack out but he bats my hand from my pocket and waves his pack in front of me until I take one. We don’t say much but he smiles warmly at me and nods. I nod back and think, you’re a real gentleman Mahmoud.
Night is lit up like the day because it’s the only time of day cool enough to be outside. White bright lights hanging from the shops, blowing in the breeze. No 60 Watt energy savers here. All the red-blue-green fairy lights make it look like carnival all the time. Cairo is a nocturnal city. Not surprising when the heat and noise and movement squeeze sweat from your body like the overripe fruit in the juice stands on every corner. The juice is delicious but you wouldn’t eat the fruit. It’s a quick transaction. Pay, drink, leave. Everyone is always in a rush, no-one and nothing ever on time, time means nothings, kept more by the call to prayer then a clock. The Cairo song is inescapable. Car horns and the minarets song, ears always full of sound, overflowing it spills down your neck and mixes with the sweat.
Did I say something about a war? Oh yes that’s right. The building down the road is still a burned out shell. Black soot marks from where the flames of the people gutted it, half broken windows, half burned blinds. I can still see a desk or two and next to that a cement block wall with a rainbow painted on it. When we arrived there was a cement block wall across out street to, that turned it into a cul-de-sac. One night we watched it come down and the next morning the traffic flowed like it had never been there. Then they relayed the tiles on the pavement, then the traffic police came back, the invisible men reappeared to wave their arms at the passing traffic but no-one was looking any more.
I can drive without breaks but not without a horn said a taxi driver. Proof you don’t have to stop as long you can shout to everyone around you that you are there! Some people made their car horns sound like sirens. Firecrackers exploding from sunset onwards and they don’t stop. Light before sound, red glowing balls in the starless sky sparks and then the BANG. Too much light to see the stars, just the moon and the two stars that move around it.
You can still smoke inside and everyone smokes. It’s great, I started smoking again. At two dollars a pack and with the novelty of smoking inside a restaurant while other people eat, it’s stupid not to. Look to the horizon any time of day and it’s a grey shadow of smoke and haze. I haven’t seen a cloud in months, the only rain drops fall from air conditioners, filthy filtrate water falling on me. Vallium over the counter, alcohol in black plastic bags, the kind that you would be given at home to discretely carry pornography. No alcohol during Ramadan though. Minarets songs abound and the expats dry up in the sun. White raisins without anything to say each other so they complain.
You have to get out. You have to get out regularly or this place stamps on your throat and then forgets its foot. I have to get out, this place is strangling me. Everything pushes in, the air is too heavy, too hot, too full of noise and dust and smoke and smells, sweet freshly baked and rotting rubbish meet somewhere in the middle, hang in clouds too far from their source. Too much energy, too much movement to much noise. Sweating like a head, high as fuck on the shouting incessant motion. I have to get out.
Didn’t something serious just happen in this place? Buts its business as usual now, the square is quiet except for a few who aren’t sure why anymore. Everyone’s left, the journalists in the editing suites, at their computers. What happened here? Who are these people who I started calling friends, I hardly know anything about them other than like me they wanted to leave the safety of home for something more exciting or interesting or challenging or meaningful. In context they’re all synonyms. What’s happening around me? Its night time, brighter and louder than any day, speeding in a cab down the Corniche, what? How did we get here? Barry White playing, cab driver has a remote for the radio and watches it instead of the road to make sure the radio works. Watch out for that cat man, I mean car.
Shit, I drank too much. The sun rises through the door I left open and fills my room with searing light. Another day under a bleached blue sky. Cigarette butts on the wood floors, hash crumbs on the plate. Ants don’t want that, about the only thing they don’t. They were swarming over the snot tissues in my bin last week.
Allah who Akbar! Plane flies over our heads. I needed more sleep but my sheets are damp with sweat and the tired fan blows dust balls on my white sheets. Thank fuck its Friday, nothing to do but feel uneasy, no reason that I know of but there are horrible picture on the back of my eyelids. Dreams I hope and not drunken memories. The blank walls in the bathroom reflect too much light and make me feel sick. I jump into the shower for the only five minutes of the day that I’ll feel fresh and cool because as soon as you’ve towelled off you can feel the sweat starting to come and the dusty air starting to stick to you.
Everything seems to have returned to normal. My two housemates staring at their computer screens, working maybe. The TV is off and although I’m starving, it’s too hot to go out hunting yet. Restlessness and a hangover won’t let me sit, it’s too hot to go into the sun, but night will come again soon.
The sun sets blood red, a beautiful glowing jewel on the horizon and as it slips lower, the wind picks up. The air feels suddenly lighter, loosened of the heat that makes the day feel like swimming in thick, chunky soup. The lighter air lets the unstoppable energy of the city flow and rise from the streets, where it has been stewing all day. Wide awake, wide wide wide. Give me more madness, make it wider. The night gives the madness back its magic. The whole city lit up at night like a giant circus. Not many nights like this left until I have to leave, if I leave. I don’t want to leave.

The Bell Tower I

The Bell Tower sounded midnight, a single low toll. It’s scheduled to toll again in exactly six hours but the six o’clock toll will not be heard because by then the tower will be a smouldering heap of rubble.

Like clockwork, headlights swept up the street, moving slowly, searching, until they came to rest on a body lying half in the street dressed in a dark red t-shirt and jeans. One of his feet was shoeless, covered only in a white sock, blackened on the sole by loosely clinging gravel. Two looming figures left the patrol car, unsheathed their truncheons and advanced on the body with slow marching steps in heavy, black boots. One of them kicked the body. The young man sat up and shielded his eyes from the headlights. He tried to stand but stumbled and fell because his one leg was longer than the other. The other night guard shouted something at him and he stood again rocking gently on his feet, his head lolling between his shoulders.
They started stabbing him with the blunt, round ends of their truncheons in the stomach, the face, the back, all the while circling him, leaning over him and speaking softly in his ear, but he said nothing he just held his hands up and tried to focus his bloodshot eyes on them. The guard pushed his nose into the young man’s face, his lips moving in frenzy, lathering at the side with a sticky white paste. The young man said nothing, he just blinked heavily, slowly and then vomited all over the guard. The blows that followed were swift and savage. The guard didn’t even waste time wiping the light pink slurry off his face, he just landed blow after blow, bits of it flew off him with each strike until the young man was just as they found him. They dragged him by his feet and threw him into the back of the truck. Alexi, drunk again, but this time no bribes, no wife running out with picture of the children, and inviting the guards in to “explain”.
My mother didn’t bother waiving a photo in their faces, she would wake me up and take me outside with her to wave in their faces, then when I got too old to invoke the required sympathy she took my sister out with her and when that stopped working that’s when she started bringing them in. She would put dad to bed then lock all of our rooms and go downstairs. The older we got the faster she aged and the less she spoke. She started looking at us with disgust and getting angry at every little thing we did but dad didn’t stop. Then one day I woke up, dad hadn’t come home and mom was gone. The neighbours looked derisively at me when I knocked on the door and asked if my sister and I could have some breakfast with them. She said yes but I could see she didn’t want to. By the end of breakfast the social services people were there to pick us up.
Pathetic, but I could spare the four minutes and if Alexi was stupid enough to keep passing out in the streets after curfew than he deserved whatever happened to him.

Airport People

At the airport you’re no-where and no-one. Not home but still not away, attached to nothing, free of everything with only the possibilities of the journey ahead. Freedom, you can taste it. There is a reason that its inner sanctum is so well guarded, because what lies beyond it is the magical escape from the rigidly enforced reality of the norm. Normal people don’t just pick up and leave. The cool emotionless faces stamping passports give you a final warning. You have to come back some time, they say, and when you do we’ll be waiting, to make sure that you don’t bring the madness back with you. That madness called freedom, reckless joy made of dangerously stimulated senses and carefree minds.
There comes a time when you just have to get gone, pack up and get the fuck out. It’s so obvious why, that there’s no point in explaining it to someone who doesn’t understand. They don’t want to understand, they can’t understand how getting gone could be the answer to anything. No, there has to be a plan, there have to be steps, you have to do it the responsible way. Fuck that. Plan and all you’ll end up doing is replicating the same patterns that made you unhappy in the first place. If its big change you need, you have to get gone, take yourself completely away from everything that has come to be normal, disconnect completely. You have to become anonymous though, that’s the first little taste of freedom, when no-one knows who you are or anyone you know or anything about you. You can be anything, even yourself.

Martin who Lives in Hell

My name is Martin and I live in Hell only it’s not a never ending post-mortem torture, it’s a real place and no the people who live here don’t know. I asked them, a lot of them, do you know what Hell is? And the answer is always the same, “well you’re in Hell Mr, Hell is this place right here, the best place in the world to live.” But you know what Hell means I reply, the place where you get sent after you die to be tormented and punished for all eternity. They just smile like idiots and tell me how funny I am, “the funniest thing I’ve ever heard”, some say, “that’s hilarious!” even but they never laugh, they just tell how funny it is then walk away shaking their heads looking for someone to tell the funniest story they’ve ever heard. No wait I say, you know the opposite of heaven? “Heaven?” they say with that idiotic smile, yes I say, the place you go after you die if you’re good. “But we’re all good, they say, we’re all going to the same place, call it heaven if you want”.
Now I know that’s bullshit because god is hardly a foreign concept to these people, there are churches all over the place and where there is god there is the threat of eternal damnation for not listening. I mean why else would an intelligent person do what they’re told, if they weren’t just the tiniest but scared about what will happen to them after they die if they dissobey. It’s human nature, I get that. So to find out how they don’t know what heaven is so I went to a church, I was the only one there by the way, and I asked a minister. He gave me the same answer, that there was no need for hell because everyone was good, that living in Hell meant you didn’t need to worry about a thing so they stopped talking about what happens after you die because it’s not important as long as you live in Hell like you are supposed to.