Salome by Pierre et Gilles Augmented photograph. 1991
Darling, when I think of you…
My skin tingles, hairs rise.
In my dry gummy mouth
I taste a metallic
Taint of terror.
In my mind
I see a red-flare distress beacon
In the empty dark sea night sky.
I hear klaxons ringing out
Harmonics of horror.
I smell the sweat of my own fear.
Darling, in truth,
I try not to think of you…
From behind the huge ice-cream-laden pink-plastic sundae glass a child’s voice wailed out
“Strawberries! Strawberries! I don’t like strawberries”. Pandemonium rising up from an irritating bratty pre-schooler in the budget cafeteria on the ferry back to England.
I hadn’t heard an English voice for months, and now, due to uncertain weather conditions passengers having been banned from the decks, I was hearing my native tongue ring out around me, obscenely.
The sullen wet-dog stinking day-trip masses circumnavigated the duty-free and bars, aimlessly damp and the boy banged his heels endlessly, in infuriating non-syncopation. “I hate strawberries. I don’t want it. It’s smelly!”. The infantile squall was still passing over.
I ambled my memory back to Spain, still not believing I was actually leaving. I stared back deep into shimmering days of purposeful inactivity, punctuated through with isolated monochrome stop-frame images of intense moonlit things.
“I hate it. I hate it. I hate you!” strawberry-boy shouts, and I think it into Spanish, out of habit “Le odio Le odio Te odio Le odio Le odio Te odio” ringing in my mind, like a joyful Hispanic pat a cake game.
This Sunday I am performing at two typically Cambridge events…
The first event is the annual Strawberry Sundae – a bank holiday benefit for Strawberry Fair free festival. All day fundraising in the Portland Arms, looks like a sparkling line-up of music, poetry and spoken word. I’m looking forward to taking the stage at around 4pm.
The second event starting at 6.30pm at the CUC building in town, is the closing event for the Nasty Women – Cambridge Sisters Exhibition that has been running all week. The feminist art collective are raising money for CWRC and Rape Crisis, defending women’s rights in the city.
These two events in that seem to me to embody all that is quintessentially “Cambridge”, what I mean is that these events reflect Cambridge “memes” that I knew about before I even moved here.
After squatting in London for several years I arrived randomly in the mid-nineties at Drummer Street bus station with little more than a rucksack, and a couple of vague notions concerning Syd Barratt and an imaginary job in a bookshop. Aside from that I knew two other things about Cambridge – one of them came from Atilla The Stockbroker – “I’m going down to Cambridge to Strawberry Fair with a doggy on a string…” But as I rode in on the bus a traffic sign read “Cambridge Welcomes you… to go somewhere else please”.
The second thing I knew was an appealing rumour about the women here. Before I left Hackney I was twice taken aside by friends, in hushed voices, and told of the terrifying strident feminists of old Cambridge Town.
“Beware” They said “It was the Cambridge Women Anarchists who went on the rampage in Soho’s red light district after the CJA protests in Trafalgar Square. Fired up feminists vandalising sex shops and frightening the pimps”.
That seems to me to be at the heart of what Cambridge is about – Strawberry Fair and Nasty Women. Both of them on this Sunday too.
Copies of “The Short Answer” flash fiction chapbook will be on sale at both events.
A new ocassional Flash Fiction Series from Bella Basura
Dream Theme One
Weird Winter Wishes Photo: Phil MFU Cambridge 2012
In my dream about Thurston Moore it was night, I was up by the Co-op convenience store roundabout and all around there was this strange snow piled everywhere, like great banks of crunchy white snow – it was like some scene from a movie.
So I took my coat off, laid it down and began sledding through tunnels in the snow on my coat. Suddenly Thurston Moore was beside me and we were streaming through these glistening snow tunnels on my coat, laughing, O we were laughing, really laughing.
Eventually as we’re approaching the telephone box at the end of my street we began to slow. And there are smears of brown on the pristine snow. I look down and it is dog shit and my coat sleeve is dragging in dog shit and Thurston Moore disappears.
And I have to walk home alone in a blizzard in my torn and dog shitted coat.
In my dream we sit down on the bed in the hot thunderstorm afternoon, and we talk. We tumble headlong into conversations around tantric psycho-sexual experimentation, and intimacy, trust, adventure, and systematic exploration of kundalini energy and control of its transits through the etheric body. I liked that bit best. All that stuff about psychic electrification of each of my chakras in slow-motion pulsations of pure energy.
I wake into empty house twilight, sick taste in my mouth, my socks twisted and damp, hair sprawling unkempt.
In the kitchen I make a pot of tea and wait. Slipping in and out of the memory of the dream, story-telling it into existence, into a finely polished narrative, into a gleaming moral with a twist in the tail and happy ever-ending.
I try to hug you when you appear home, in the kitchen doorway. But you step back saying “Put me down, I’ve just come in from work”.
I step back, snubbed.
You storm upstairs.
I think fleetingly that your hair, tonight in particular,
smelled of stale sperm and too many rushed rancid coffees,
the taste of reality I dare not admit.
For weeks I have experienced this kind of activation, awakening of my Kundalini Serpent. It’s like I’m fully alive, in every cell fully aware all the time and I’m constantly aroused and endlessly scattered amongst the whole of humanity, every sentient being, and all vibrating with an efflorescence of love and ecstasy.
But I’m totally useless, can’t get anything practical done, I eat by happenstance, sleep not at all, all I can do is waft trailing my aura around my flat, sprinkling the glitter of my ecstasy across the known and unknown planes of the multi-verse.
from the Introduction
“In the 1990s I spent a year grubbing around Holland and Spain on a DSS Enterprise Allowance Scheme as a self-employed author and poet. I spent the decade devouring magazines, journals and chapbooks by the small presses that were so active and plentiful back then. I particularly loved anything by Tom Vague, HeadPress, HEAD magazine, Rapid Eye and Unlimited Dream Company. In those days there were bookshops too, Compendium in Camden and The Inner Bookshop in Oxford and London’s Atlantis. I even devoted a lot of time and energy to producing pamphlets of my own, which were an irregular source of beer money. I tried to persuade others to print my writings. Eventually I studied bookbinding to enable myself to print, bind and distribute my pamphlets and chapbooks…And then everything went online…
So, now after a gap of almost ten years here is a new chapbook of my writings – this new pamphlet has come about as a result of performing my writing at spoken word events and I need some merchandise to flog to cover travelling expenses. All of the pieces in this collection are 100 word flash fictions – a genre I specialise in. So, I hope you will put your hands deep into your pockets and buy my new chapbook, and also come to see me perform. You won’t regret it!”
Unspeakable beauty, like the floating harmonic deep in keening tinnitus. Words break free, and my sentence struggles away from me, my grasp slipping a grip, like a hand slipping a glove. She tears from my skin and flies. Ricocheting my awareness of “I” into a bounding and rebounding silence. A silent creeping vibration, like the tap-tap tapping of a solitary black widow on her dew-luminous web, alone at night. A fly has slipped it’s shackles and fled. A silent creeping vibration of voidness, null, empty and zero.
The one that got away.
Re-posted January 2017
More Flash Fiction – The Short Answer a collection of short stories in 100 words.
Soon to be available in chapbook print version.
email:email@example.com for more details.