OF POVERTY & SCARLET RIBBONS

scarlet-ribbons

come fading glow, vampire bats crisscross a ripe moon

silvered chimney smoke outpaces the silly, chilly moths

rushing ever upwards chasing heaven sent white light

a befitting sight worthy of the promise magic bestows

upon an otherworldly place few beings know exists

midsummer day’s spawning of the briefest obscurity

so stingy the gratuity of darkness’s deepest pockets

leaving just wafer-thin messages for the abandoned

subdued tidings of those condemned to life in limbo

no time or place for squirreled away final goodbyes

solemnized in melancholy words begging guidance

a hint of urgency shrouded back-of cautious tongues

a flock of lost sheep favouring tarmac over lush grass

time has no mercy, offers no favours when on the tail

of a sleepy sun, hell-bent on tucking itself safe and warm

beneath horizons snug blanket of guarded hallucination

a stark moorland tumour, a misshapen granite hideaway

bad luck, curiosity or wanton kidnap lead to such a place

last rock of Celtic fascination under Aurora’s frigid border

all that is left, an easy birthing of street life’s pornography

she, in trademark denim dungarees, her hair a loose mop of

ebony locks, knots and scarlet ribbons, adrift yet still alive

immune to antics privacy gifts those sat smug behind doors

spitting two-faced grunts and groans to breakneck applause

RANDOM WORDS OF ZOOLON

I’m biased I know, yet I like this post from my son, George (aka Zoolon Audio) a great deal.

Zoolon Audio

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was sat in the back of a car stuck in an unreal queue, waiting. I was able to borrow a pen and paper to help kill the boredom, kill the time. I wrote down some random words as they came into my head. It’s a thing I often do. Sometimes a song appears. When the traffic started moving again I put the scribbled bit of paper in my back pocket and forgot about it. I was emptying my pockets today and found it.  I could barely read what I’d written. My handwriting is not good and you don’t get a spellcheck with notepaper. My brain had to be my interpreter. It wasn’t the gig it wanted but helped anyway.

I thought, for now, I’d leave the words as they are and go back to them sometime. You never know. There is a theme begging to get out, but for…

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THE METHODOLOGY OF ASSASSINATION

albino-5

First a sip of champagne, then a rare girlish tilt of the head and in an instant, her naked iris, roseate eyes ambushed mine. Detained them for the duration. Not too long, yet likely just long enough. Was it contemplation as to my purpose of being? Mental telepathy? Thought transference? I never could translate the language of those conspicuous, yet most agreeable eyes.

A little earlier, not long after we had sat at our corner table and the waiter had taken our drinks order, she had insisted the candle be snuffed. “My photophobia demands it” her courteous reasoning.  I obliged, killing the flame twixt wetted finger and thumb. She had me light her cigarette. I was keen to ask of her why she had chosen to wear a white silk cocktail gown upon her snowy frame, yet thought better of it. Felt it improper to delve.  Notwithstanding, it was charmingly low cut, invitingly filled, both she and it, a heaven-sent, magnetic art form.   In that regard, my own straying eyes would have, no doubt, published the daring workings of my desirous mind. Such poor form on my part seemed to bother her not. I guess it was a thing she was used to, the price to pay for blessed beauty bestowed. I would have liked to say it was me who first found she, although in truth the opposite was true. Such was the way of dalliance in times of war. Times when only the losers surrender.

She picked at her food as if to not enjoy, made note of my quizzical glance, “A little over-generous with the calamari, the white bean puree was sufficient in itself. Worry not, my appetite has never been that rife…unlike some!” Her soft gibe aimed at a palpably ashamed me. “Well, The Savoy is exempt from this wretched rationing, no reason not to have my fill. Thankfully, you’ll not find dried egg and that dreadful chicory coffee here.” She smiled. Just a fleeting smile. Sufficient to appease my self-evident guilt.

To the backdrop of the big band playing, appropriately, at least insofar as I was concerned, ‘In the Mood’ we discussed the methodology of assassination. “So, you will help me then?” I nodded in agreement. She continued, “Good, that’s settled then. I am fully aware MI5 briefed you in this matter some time back, and that you have the expertise to covertly gain access his suite here. It is, as you will understand, in both our interests the pseudo human dies…by the way, it would be best you book a room here, you and I as man and wife. That way, you will be my perfect cover, no-one will suspect a thing, plus we can track his movements, find his weak spots, before I make the kill…as such, we remove any chance of failure. In a place, as grand as this, where the walls really do have ears, team work ensures a successful outcome. We can take up residence tomorrow.” Her eye for detail was impressive.

Take up wedded residence we did. At her insistence, we acted out our respective roles as if our marital status were honest. Her lovemaking was clinical, seemingly devoid of passion. I think she found sex a mere professional necessity, pointing out that the chambermaid, from the state of next day’s sheets would be in little doubt as to our bona fide standing in the, albeit unlikely, event she was ever questioned thus. Additionally, she made sure her lipstick stained cigarette ends married those of my own in the ashtray upon the bedside cabinet. “One can never be too careful in such matters” her gambit and prerequisite to further entanglement. Whilst the creature in me did not mind her ‘lay back and think of murder’ approach, the lover, rake perhaps, that part of me was always left wanting her evident eagerness to explore, less mechanics. Maybe just an old-fashioned fake embrace that had perhaps a little meaning, though that was never to be. That she sought such union so often surprised, was contradictory. Her stock phrase, “It helps me think” did little to boost my waning spirit. Surely, she must have known that I was besotted.

War torn London, in June meant sunshine, showers and bomb shelters in equal measure, though whatever conditions prevailed, she wore darkest sunglasses. Upon our picnic in Green Park, aside Piccadilly she had the added protection of a simple straw sunhat and the purest demeanour…the latter, no doubt to signal that any hanky-panky on my part would be unwelcome. We discussed the task in hand in some depth. Her contempt for the one she had christened ‘the pseudo human’ was palpable.  I prayed her sheer ferocity in that regard would not end up an Achilles Heel.  Regardless, she advised that now we had established his movements about town, his habits and regular haunts, that tonight would be the night he would meet his end.

“You have the copy key to his suite…Good. Pass it me…also, I think it important we stay on a couple more nights after the assassination, rather than depart immediately the task is done and dusted…should we simply disappear the tedious uninformed constabulary might put two and two together…organise it if you would please. Other than that, I’ll join you in our room after dusk”

I was lost in the previous day’s copy of The Times when my Cheshire cat grinning liquidator returned. A grin of affirmation, duly noted. Just a well-placed single bullet apparently. I had the bellboy bring us up a bottle of bubbly…told him it was the occasion of our first anniversary, and… how shall I put it? Suffice to say, after all these years gone my indiscretion in spilling the beans is, I hope, forgivable, she was not backward in coming forward that night. Good Lord no.

Our paths crossed several times thereafter, yet circumstance meant we never revived our carnal pursuits. Such is life for seasoned espionage agents.

 

TOMORROW (an ‘almost’ poem)

tomorrow

Playing out her dreams, rocking plate in hand, she sieves for golden crumbs along the wandering river trail, oblivious that paradise is ablaze. That a harmless crèche playground drizzle had fledged, turned into a streetwise gang of ripened raindrop bullies troubled her not a jot. Welly boots and tangled locks tucked inside an oilskin rainhat saw to that, for they were, in any event, more than a match for bittersweet elements.

Long ago, back when she cared, she had concluded the rosy vagaries of fate to be the most romantic of things. Then one bleached shivering winters day, thumbing through her unsullied little black book of ‘then and now lovers’ it dawned on her all had been handpicked; realized that circumstance had played no part…that each and every way she looked at it, eyes wide open ‘choice’ and white walking cane blind ‘fate’, were sworn enemies.

It was at that time, staring at four walls became less of an issue, more a consuming hobby. It no longer troubled her if all that matters or mattered was reduced to ashes and gifted to the breeze.

“Slim pickings today, que sera, sera. I’ll try again tomorrow”

 

BLASÉ INDIFFERENCE

bizarre-surreal-and-dark-art-pictures2

here I have no tag of stereotype

here I am unique, here I am locked-in

here, within the lemon sandstone walls

of a timeworn, breathless Moorish fortification

I live a little, dream a lot, suffer, eat, wash and shit

He was looking out through the barred window, elbows upon sill, crossed fingers supporting his chin, his back to her. Heard her footsteps as she approached. Noted she was alone, for once. Out of choice he did not turn about face, did not acknowledge her presence.

For her part, she observed he had lost a little weight. Even from behind, protruding ribs told their own story.  The unsuspecting often took his blasé indifference toward all and sundry as a sign of resignation, maybe outright defeat, or perhaps just that his fabled genius had finally played out. How little they knew, for such apathy was merely a façade. A fact she was well aware of.

“Here, I have clothing for you…just an old gandoora…it’ll have to do. I couldn’t find any sandals. The thing is we can’t have you…well…not like this…not today”

In the blue times twixt constant contemplation vis-a-vis his passion for lost causes, and the equally irksome conspiracy of idiots focused on inflammatory design, the prisoner would lay down and wait in anticipation of a Popular Front parade.

“I’ll leave the gandoora folded on your bed. What are you so engrossed thinking about?”

Still he did not turn around. “For no good reason, other than perhaps the subliminal, I resolved that I would see if I could count up to one billion in whispers and wondered just how long such a challenge would take.  Too long I reckon.  You see, having determined that there are 86,400 seconds in a day it would take more or less 11,574 days, which works out at nearly 32 years to achieve such a quest, and that is assuming I take no sleep for the duration and only allowing one second to speak each number. Plainly I would need the occasional rest and further, as the numbers got bigger they would take more than one second to say. Given that I would likely pop my clogs, or be disposed of prior to completion I am thinking it for the best to abort the mission at this embryonic stage…by the way, why favour me with clothing after all this time? Since when has compassion been within your gift? And what’s so bloody important about today?”

At home, she would watch, sometimes even play with the antennae bristling ants that owned her garden.  Yet in this place, she reigned supreme, played no silly games.

“Look at me, face me.” Be that an order or request he cared not, studiously he ignored her. “Have it your way then,” an out of character statement by any standard, the iron rod her usual preference, “You are free to leave…obviously, you can’t leave as you are.” She found herself wishing for storm clouds to match her imperfect mood.

At last he changed position, looked her in the eye, “How so?”

She knew well that her cigarettes would kill before they cured, a presumption of her own private subjugation. Looking at him stood there stark naked the thought struck that, ‘spellbound are the idealists, the others are in their graves’. She thinks she might write that down a little later. She could see his bruising was fading, though his scars were eternal, ensuring memory of her would live on in his worst nightmares. Then, “Franco fell into a coma and died last evening…natural causes, hence…well, hence your ‘freedom’ assuming you’ll ever be ‘free’ in spirit, that is.” He sensed that word ‘freedom’ she spat out had left a bitter taste.

“So, all Godfearing, one-time fascists so very fond of The White Terror can now sit back and count their pesetas, and claim they knew nothing about anything?”

She wore a phony smile, “You should know my preference would have been to have your head on a platter…excuse the metaphor…we never did break you; dehumanise you, you ‘the one who got away’…still, I feel sure we’ll meet again one day. Come, make haste, you will be escorted all the way to the French border.”

LEONARD COHEN SUFFERS FROM LYRICISTS BLOCK

leonard-cohen

“Oi Len, fancy a quick one at The Chelsea?”

“What do you mean Svetlana, a swift libation?”

“No me old fruit bat I was more thinking both.”

“Fine…why not, I’m up for that.”

 “Anyhow Lennie boy, you got any new songs you can belt out for me in your own indomitable style by way of a serenade as a prelude to my seduction?”

“Can’t say as how I have presently, luv. Me mind refuses to wander creatively anymore.”

“You’re having a laugh surely?”

“No Svet, it’s the honest truth. I’m bolloxed in that regard at the moment. Even now whilst your otherwise engaged abandoning your kit in a manner most tantalising, my creative juices fail me. I must admit I’m getting a tad worried about it if the truth be told.”

“Well Lenny, if you care to cast your gazers over here I’ll lay odds you’ll feel inspired, you old rascal you?”

“No nothing at all. Even the vision of your heavenly naked naughty bits fails to provoke the onset of the old inspirational process. Not a word in my head nor, just as worrying, a firming in my parts for that matter. What a to-do!”

“I’m sure I can sort you out on the latter…have no fear! Changing the subject, you still seeing that Suzanne bird back in Montreal?”

“Yeah, she quite often takes me down to her place near the river, I can hear the boats go by, she even lets me spend the night beside her, and notwithstanding that, I know that she’s half crazy, if the truth be told that’s why I want to be there, and… you’ll never believe this bit Svet…she even feeds me tea and oranges that come all the way from China, no less!  Still, all this chat about Suzanne is getting me nowhere…I just got to find some words for an epic, signature song that will stand the test of time from somewhere.” 

“Best I get dressed then…we’ll pootle off down The Chelsea.”

“Yes, good plan Svet, for I want to travel with you, I want to travel blind, and you clearly think you maybe can trust me, for I’ve touched your perfect body with me mind…botheration, I’m off on a tangent again…when, oh when will the words start to flow!”

 

I must add here that the recently deceased Leonard Cohen was a true genius. I have his entire collection of music, poetry and biographies. I still remember the first time, all those years gone, that I heard his song, ‘Suzanne’. A love song like no other. If you have never heard it, here it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NO MORE RAVENS

funeral-veils

in the wave of epic final conflict

sickly tampering’s upon a jilted

freshest flat Shangri-La globe

an unravelling of continuation

clock hands turnabout motion

past landscapes of silvery ice

telescopes for a crescent sun

widows wanton funeral veils

days of mead and dandelion

carved idols and fabrications

adoration of rusting spaceships

fallen monuments, flaming moss

whirlwinds of enduring plastic

Ronald McDonalds death mask grin

petrol pump smiles for progeny

tattered flags, forgotten anthems

hauntings, the sound of drums

biography by word of mouth

legend’s falsities born of fancy

flint sparked fires, death in winter

raw red meat in stormy seasons

alpha Adam’s for unready Eve’s

virgin offerings for novel numen

no more ravens at The Tower

‘MY LOVE’S LIKE A…RED, RED NOSE’ AS RABBIE BURNS SUFFERS FROM ‘POETS BLOCK’

burns

The year is 1794 and money worries have forced the young Rabbie Burns to take up work as a labourer at a farm near Mauchline in East Ayrshire, Scotland. Good fortune has smiled though for it is on this farm the he meets his first true love, young Nelly Kilpatrick.  As the pair wander together amidst the stunning landscape, hand in hand and every so often sharing a furtive kiss Rabbie finds himself – or so he thinks – in the zone to knock out a swift poem for his new found beau yet is stuck as to exactly how to get over the hurdle of the first line!

“Oh Nelly darling I’m feeling a tad flummoxed on the poetry front today. I so want to write a special love poem just for you my sweetheart yet all I’ve got in the locker presently is ‘O my love’s like a red, red…something!  I mean, a ‘red, red’ what?”

“Well Rabbie I really cannot help you out there as I am quite devoid of poetic skills. Why don’t you just pick a word that reminds you of me? I am so very, very excited though as no boy has ever before written of his love for just me.”

“That is what I’m trying to do Nell…um…um…a London omnibus, they’re red aren’t they?”

“Oh, Rabbie you make me sob so likening me to an omnibus. I mean people say of ugly women that they have a face like the back of a bus. How could you?”

“Sorry Nell…don’t take it the wrong way. What about, ‘My love’s like a red, red Whisky Drinkers Nose. How’s that one?”

“Really Rabbie, whisky drinkers noses are all red that is true but they are also pock marked and bulbous and I am neither. Pass me a handkerchief…not one covered in snot mind…in order that I may dab away the tears that are flowing in torrents now.”

“Crumbs, this poetry malarkey is a tad more difficult than I presumed. Right here we go again, ‘My love’s like a red, red…um…um…Red Light. That’s more like it I’d say.”

“How could you be so cruel? Do you really see me as a common harlot for they hawk their wares under the red light…or so I believe…and I am not a lady of the night by any way, shape or form?”

“OK I’ll try tomato….no not tomato…what about blood transfusion in a casualty department of a hospital on a Saturday night in Glasgow?”

“Take me home to father now Rabbie for I can take no more of this.”

“Fine Nell but one last try…you must at the very least give me the opportunity for that. You mean so much to me darling.  Here we go again, ‘My love’s like a read, read book.’ You like books, don’t you? Anyway that’s the best I can come up with presently. I’ll maybe give it another shot later.  By the way that poesy of red, red roses you are holding is so very beautiful and truly enhances your raven-haired beauty…so very, very ‘red’. Still mustn’t let my mind wander from the task at hand…now, ‘My love’s like a red, red…oh bollocks this is going nowhere.”

FLAWLESS BENEVOLENCE

benevolencefull

the incidental ill will

of clouded reasoning

a most difficult thing

to wholly make out

forgiving explicit scorn

writing off grave words

yet tenderness demands

a flawless benevolence

 

how so such an event?

rosy revenge? for what?

perhaps the sweetness?

perhaps the glory quest?

the prize of grand slam?

extra points to be scored

after the game is over?

he knew not the answer

not a living soul does

 

the curse born of living

a pinch of make-believe

heartstrings gentle tug

none of these impressions

provoke sound reason

when spring is in the air

and the darkest recesses

of the blind one’s skull

remains dormant, lost

in yesteryears blossoming

yet found in rainy days

and red mist memories

long since studiously revoked

 

(picture by Karya Seni Patung Tuan Nguyen)

 

AN IMPROBABLE ASSASSIN

albino-4

Come the days of retribution, the days when the remnants of shameless evil would be tracked down, hopefully eradicated, Argentina would become her home from home. As of now though, the unbearable midsummer dusty dry heat, a thing the medics had long since insisted that, with her specific condition, she should avoid, plus the foulest stench of fermenting acre upon acre upon acre of cattle dung meant she simply had to get away.

Her initial intention was to wish upon a star. In the event, she was spoilt for choice and decided to run with gut instinct and return to the tantalising decadence of Berlin. However, with the dawning of her fatherlands National Socialism epoch where blond locks and blue eyes were the safest bet, being unusual, an albino reliant upon a smokescreen mousey brown wig, darkest sunglasses and heavy make-up during daylight hours posed certain potential pitfalls of which she was aware, yet cared not.

I am blind now. My condition has worsened, reached its finality. All I can see these days are memories long since deposited within. Some fade a little, others get embellished, yet one, just the one never changes.  That night when I first laid my then functioning eyes upon her. The night she both wept and danced unmasked to the plainsong of a clumsy fiddle in a blue, blue fog loaded freaks paradise beneath Kurfürstendamm. She would later tell me her tears were nothing more than her disappointment that the only food left over for dancers was salted cashew nuts. She was allergic to those and had gone starving rotten hungry.

Inevitably, being of insanely enticing skin and bone, stark snow white all-over, amid the throng of the grotesque powdered and rouged she was to become the very symbol of the unashamed immodesty that was the Kabarett, the talk of the waning ‘Golden Age of Weimar’.  Was it the fusion of the saucy cat calls of the well-fed faces coupled with her own devilment that ensured she became notorious for dancing naked on stage? Likely it was. Also, she led an excessive style of life back then dominated by schnapps, opium and her bisexuality. How was I to know that one day soon she had it in her to become an accomplished and later, much fabled assassin within espionage echelons? Upon reflection, we must have made an absurd pairing. Me, the stereotypical reticent old school Englishman, she the wildest, whitest creature, game for anything and everything.

Oh dear, my jocular nurse now tells me, blood pressure non-existent, brain function just adequate.  A regular pulse would be a plus. Pulses should be bonded as brother and sister, yet mine are so far apart they are akin to warring siblings. What use my sanity in a sealed envelope?

Where was I? I do tend ramble with the passage of time. Whatever, I left her behind the day I climbed Everest. Her new preference, rich tea biscuits and Darjeeling, plus, inevitably, the pretty little hotel waitress she was keen on bedding in my absence.  Sadly, in her enthusiasm she had not realized that the gal was not of that particular persuasion.

Back in the day she once told me that she hated sharing a decent bottle of Chablis with anyone. How she stayed so slight is quite beyond me. Funny, the odd things one keeps in the locker.  Regardless, it was while I was trudging up to base camp, she sought the solace, then allegedly the casting couch (perhaps vice-versa, one could never tell with her) of the sauntering American we had spotted in the bar the night previous. US Secret Service chappie on a Nepalese jaunt with buddy’s by all accounts.  He must have seen in her the potential for the clandestine. The rest, for me at least, is sad history. I never saw or even spoke on the wire with her again. I will say this of her though, she was kind to the luckless, an oppressor of the wicked.  I think of her often.

This piece is a prequel to my previous post, ‘OF ASSASSINATION & GITANES’

https://mikesteeden.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/of-assassination-gitanes/