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follow alice

scrolling through

some fake, ephemeral mulch

momentarily glued

i abandon my abdomen

lose sight of my eyes

for the screen is a canvas of light

a verified vision

of frolicking lovelies

hollering 'hither!'

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A common UK house snake snatches an oblivious leaf.

Greenfly on white cotton

Before the sun swaddles the octopus of babble

And the moon smothers the terrapin of twaddle,

There is a man in the library dancing the tango.

His vest is chestless, lying in a puddle of its own making.

The blinds are transparent apparently,

But the room is still dark in the day.

The clock of dismay

Is having its way

With the remnants of

Patrons so hip hip hooray.

Yellow knife

 

 

I'm going to tell you a story I haven't told anyone before. It's about something I did in the past. It might be bad. Promise you won't judge me? Ok, here goes:

 

It was the summer of herpes and we were oozing with youth. The sun was as giddy as a wasp, I recall, and the tent I was in was so hot my armpits leaked down my ribs like hairy taps. Pills the size of an ant's coffee table had flung themselves down my esophagus like kids on a waterslide. They hadn't as yet taken effect. My friend, who I will call Jim because that is his name, had done the same. Little did we know what would become of us. This was pre-hindsight.

 

So anyway we were yabbering fast now fast now we yabbered fast and loose. The moose of truth had unboggled itself from the thicket of doubt. On the other side of the fabric there were festival sounds. This is a great opportunity to use the word 'frolicking'. I like that word. I don't really say it in real life.

 

So anyway we were frolicking among the frolickers and the tent was far away. I saw a man pissing out of his arsehole in the middle of the burger queue, his face clothed in a grin, no shits given. I saw a woman breastfeeding a pigeon. I saw a stretched child.

 

It suddenly dawns on me it was night (the sun had been jostled by the milky faker). We were belly-deep in the crowd in front of the stage upon which The Supermarkets played. I recall Rex Blouse (the lead singer) wore his signature 'dress' (the modified trolley with nothing underneath). At one point he stretched his penis up and sang into it like a microphone.

 

Then I remember not being with Jim anymore. I was roaming through the tents with a knife in my hand, slashing them as I went. One in particular pulled me in. I cut a huge window in every possible space, careful to leave the fabric-y 'structure' intact. I didn't wait for the frolickers to come back. I kind of wish I had. I'm imagining their baffled anger. Somebody says 'What The Fuck!' I'm imagining them lying in it anyway, feeling silly and exposed. There are two of them. A guy and a girl. They are looking at the sky because they have no choice. One of them says 'Don't you think the stars are like the sky's dandruff?' I haven't imagined a reply.

 

Now I remember hallucinating two old women having a mud fight outside of my tent. They are naked and fierce. The one with grey hair was temporarily on top of the other one with grey hair until the other one with grey hair managed to spin her off. I watched with mouth agape. Probably. I can't actually remember my facial expression. I think they were evenly matched. I can't recall how it ended. I think---

 

---Sorry what? You promised! It's not like you didn't do some fucked up shit when you were young. Don't try and make out like you didn't. I've heard things about you. I heard you once flummoxed a seagull with your bum. It was a baby seagull too, you monster. I hear you straighten your pubes. Is that true?

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While the moth watches on

 

 

Caterpillars scrabbling in a vast plastic bag, babbling obscene sounds, howling like sharpened pencils; all the while a moth watches from beyond the wing-like handles, curious as a badger in a car park, a little baffled too.

 

The worst case scenario is cater-suffocation. The best case is a happy-ever-after.

 

'Should I be helping them?' thinks the moth. 'Or should I just leave them to it...'

 

The moth already felt very busy. And now this. Whatever this was.

 

A caterpillar slaps an adversary. An antenna is torn; one of them pukes. All the while the moth watches on. Sunlight adorns the plastic bag. Its white roof illuminates the pavement. All the while the moth watches on.

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The final, exhausted finisher of the Dandelion Marathon crawls across the line to mocking whooping.

Shed

 

 

Sitting in an English garden in the twilight of his day was a young black man. He was staring at the stars as words like 'marvelous' burst into his mind. He had started to zone out, the visible world becoming vague as he followed his thoughts, when a creak occurred. The gate at the bottom of the garden was obscured by a shed. He focused on the faint, grass-scrunching footsteps with a sense of bemused dread. 'Hello?' he said, as a figure became visible.

 

The old white woman approaching him said nothing. She was dressed in black from neck to foot, which, obviously, made her pale face and moon-white hair stand out like a tooth on tarmac.

 

Upon processing her appearance, his fear collapsed. 'Can I help you my dear?' he asked.

 

'This your pad innit?' she said, looking at the lit up house behind him.

 

'I'm sorry may I ask who you are please?'

 

'Pff... you aint gotta know noffin bruv.' She turned her head to the right as she exhaled the dismissive pff. 'That your crockery?' She nodded to a cup and teapot on the tabletop beside him.

 

'Look missus... ma'am... though it's awfully nice of you to drop by... unknown and unannounced... I think it would be for the best if you were to pop along back from hwhere you came, or I shall have no choice but to call the police. Do I make myself clear?'

 

Just as the word 'clear' leapt from his throat, a silver blade twinkled in her leather-gloved hand, tacking a wobble to the second syllable which undermined his ultimatum.

 

Adrenaline sprinted in both their bodies, paradoxically causing a slow-motion effect in both their minds. It was as if the knife was a wand casting a spell upon them both. She, of course, was in charge of the magic.

 

'Listen brother,' she said, looming over his hunched frame, 'this ting goes ting ting when it hits the bone so you best 'chout and do as I say right?'

 

'Perfectly reasonably of course whatever you yes!'

 

'Right first fings first you gunna empty those flowerpots into this briefcase yeah... only the red ones though... don't want nonna that yella shit. fFuck yellow man.'

 

'Right ok yes yellow I don't know what I was---'

'I'll do the chattin yeah... unless you want this metal stick tickling ya pelvis.'

 

The young man, whose hands had been gripping his thighs, slowly rose. He bunged the grabbed reds into the case, now placed on the table, along with what must have been about ten grams of soil. There was plenty of space in there still. The old woman gave him a sinister smile and said, 'you got any birdseed bruv?'

 

He had, in fact - stashed in the shed. He quickly thought about fibbing but before he could reply his glancing eyes had blabbed.

 

'You tryna introduce some sneaky business innit?'

 

'No no absolutely no I was just teetering on the verge of recollection I absolutely assure y---'

'You teetering on the verge of something bruv', she snapped, giving the knife a warning thrust. 'Aight - fetch.'

 

He did as bid. From this position he could see the gate beyond the shed. He lead, she followed. About half way between the table and the gate, with a movement like a mock skip, he pulled up his dark grey joggers. She watched his arse, then, to the left, noticed an empty metal feeder, shining with a mix of house and moonlight, dangling from a branch at the shed's flank, a flock of broken gnomes below, and then a quick ruckus as the door bolted behind him, and all she could do was hit her fist on the window, his face on the other side, safe.

 

'I'm calling the police!' he shouted, his voice excited and muffled, his phone already unpocketed.

 

She knew the jig was jiggered. Vexed, she spat at the perspex. It slid down the window as the gate clanged closed. The garden was suddenly, oddly still.

 

Beyond the garden, beyond the path that went by the gate, beyond the trees that loomed above the path - a stream seemed to coo. In the sky, the stars seemed to bark. The moon shooed away the clouds so it could glimpse the man in the shed, who, faintly illuminated, listened to a voice on the phone say:

 

 

'Police Emergency...'

Thursday?

 

 

Hey.

Let's throw a funeral

on wednesday when

the moon touches the

chunky cotton wool

in front of the black

canvas. I'll provide

the glug if you can

smuggle some little white

buttons. I fancy a

barbiturate ritual.

I already asked Katy

but she got her knickers

in a panic because we

don't have a body.

I said 'don't worry, we'll

sort something out.' She

hasn't got back to me yet.

What do you reckon? She

gonna flake or what?

Fancy a bet? Let me know

if you're gonna make it...

pine

 

fuck a banquet

i'm having a pleb of a time

with this roadkill on toast

sprinkled with grated elbow-skin

 

skint as a kestrel

i will strut into a coffin shop

and order the finest pine

and then pay without leaving

Snodley Jibble

 

 

When he woke up, Snodley Jibble felt like a billion dollops of nothing. A whole banquet of nada. Numb as a carrot, in fact.

 

You know the feeling - like your heart is under tarmac, far from pulsing life. He 'felt' like that. Had done for a while. So long he didn't even recognise it anymore. He would never have thought, 'I feel numb.' He just was. So this day, when he woke up, was like any other.

 

His 'partner in crime', as he liked to call her, was still asleep. The birds in the trees, outside, were barking, rightly. Darkness hadn't as yet buggered off. Nuggets of sleep rested in the very place you'd imagine they would. He dug them out; flicked them; flecked the flooring.

 

In the en suite, where his legs had plonked him, he looked in the mirror. Looked, but didn't see. (His eyes were vaguely averse to contact.) But then again - what competition to self-image is the mirror? And he certainly saw himself as something. The Wry Prince Of Wisdom? The Right Honourable Pleb Warden? King Of Decisions In The Land Of The Clueless?

 

The Prime Minister began to brush his teeth. He was using a garden rake. And instead of toothpaste, mustard. He liked the yellowy, golden, browny kind; the stuff that tastes like shit. His motto was - If it doesn't burn, it doesn't earn. What the cocking hell that has to do with gob health, I have no idea.

 

He struggled with the rake for a good ten minutes, scraping his gnashers - well, face - from side to side, against it. A mixture of mustard and spit dribbled down his chin, dropped, and splashed his right big toe (the big toe on his right foot, not an excessively big toe; for all his eccentricities, the Prime Minister's toes are perfectly average). Then, when he had done and wiped his mush, he ruffled his hair, thinking - 'This rascal needs whittling.'

 

The last time he had had a haircut, he had gone to that special place in Crockington Avenue; or rather, they had gone to him. The most experienced employee had brought the newest chainsaw to Downing Street, and carefully, very carefully, given the PM a state-of-the-art trim. The PM had memorably quipped, on seeing the equipment, 'Now you be careful with that thing. I shall be no use to the country with a... with a detached cranium!' Oh the laughter that ensued.

 

But another time. For today, you look perfect, Snodders.

 

And Snodley, the man himself, the Head Minister, was emptying his vowels (while watching his mouth in the mirror). Ever since the infamous syllable slip-up, earlier in the year, he had been purging his garbler. I don't need to explain to you what the 'infamous syllable slip-up' was, do I? You already know. That's what 'infamous' means. But, one has to amuse oneself somehow. So I will retell it.

 

At a hospital visit earlier in the year, the Prime M, quite against his will, spilled hundreds of millions of fiery syllables, all up the walls, all in the wards, everywhere. It was like an oil spillage in a lava factory. The whole hospital, which had burned to the ground, had to be closed. All the patients who'd died were no longer able to get treatment. And the P Minister, poor sod, was astonished as anybody. One minute he's saying something like, 'It's great to be here today to support our NHS visibly...' and the next minute his tonsils have torched the lot. Talk about unfortunate.

 

It turned out he's got a rare disease - Flammabarf Vocabularis or something - whereby a vocabulary buildup, a sort of syllabic excess, forms in the gut, heats up over time, and eventually has nowhere to go but spill outwards, into the unfortunate environs. Now he has to spend an hour each morning just saying words and making noises, to try and keep the frothing at bay. It's why he often does that in public too. People make fun of him for it, but it's for their own good.

 

It's just a shame this didn't 'come out' before he was electorally elected. But that's life. Health is not the cousin of the calender. And if it was - they would be estranged.

 

So Snodley Jibble, the firestarter - oops, sorry, that might be offensive - was by his taps (where he felt safe) and was crooning a mighty gibberish, soothed by the wobble of his own babble, his splashy friends at hand, when his partner shouted from the bedroom, 'Are you going to be much longer in there?'

 

'OooDooBooAhhhh---Iii will be out in two shakes of a jiffy bag! In two shakes of a jiffy bag, I will be out. Out of this concrete plethora of bandaged delight. Into the heavenly realm of melting artichokes. Croaking with the best of the beastly best. And and... and let it be known that the candle burns brightest when the hawk is visible... and those that do not conform to our scallops, our scholastic mopstick of truth and ingenuity... THEY will be vanquished... vanquished by the swift hand of dignity... and decency... and... and... just that, shall they be...'

 

'Get a move on please. I really need to relieve myself.'

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A butterfly beautifully preserved in a Yorkshire floorboard. Scientists believe this specific Looperhipperloppydopterus to be exactly 27 trillion years old, to date.

 

Photo credit: Arthur Pamphlet, Faffington

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A Glanderbarry tree takes its first bath of the year.

death is wasted on the living

 

 

shall we pretend death isn't real

or shall we make a meal of it?

 

whichever we choose

the chameleon will dance at the picnic

because the grass is always blue on the ceiling

and the mud is always sun on the farm

and the bread's always dust on the carpet

and the moon's always glued to the canvas

the cravat's always strapped to the veal

and the real is a fluke with the wand

so the mouse is a worm with a sock in its mouth

and the house is a form with a brick in its louse

and the cask is a flap with a whip in its lap

and the cat

                 is a frat

                          with a crock

                                    and

                                          a

                                        bosh