A childhood reconfigured, a child who could never be,
with cardboard carts of stones and stamps,
bundled with a string, with wooden wired
contrivances hidden from the world,
and yet the others whispered in his ears.
They told him of a place where wild basalt seas
crashed down upon the shattered mirror beaches,
and sleepless carriages fled the stations of existence.
It snowed along the night, piled up
to just beneath the window sills,
mostly printouts, black and white,
so we shaped an outdoor dining set
of ink and paper, and took our morning coffee
on the balcony.
Orchilla dearest, you fill my thoughts
with wasted words
that I will not share with you.
And yet for lunch, as a special surprise,
I shall prepare spaghetti macramé al dente.
Crossroads on the valley floor, a sign,
a part-time river colored laundry blue,
and by the water in a town, the air is scented
with hot absence, molecules in chaos
ignoring windward motion.
The parkland’s plaque is dull, I make it shine,
reflect the woken world with Brasso,
and polish out its words:
You wonder why you’re still asleep.
Your other wonders why he’s still awake.
If none of (a) to (f) apply, please explain your reasons in writing in the space labelled “Other.” Inmates are not permitted additional pages.
[A selection of “Other” responses follows. Respondent’s names have been replaced by pseudonyms to preserve inmate anonymity. Comments scratched into the wall and/or with rows of indecipherable symbols were excluded.]
“Anonímia de Tal”
I measured my expectancies—
mantras, books, and pills in quantized repetition,
overtime and undertime spent flickering from pillow to post,
leaping with the pendulous clock,
though in a temporary lapse,
I once considered skin mites, so fearsome microscopically,
and the sparrows pecking hair lying fallen at my feet.
While I was washing roses by the gate
with a dash of liquid Omo on a toothbrush,
fish-heads came to mind,
and I began a metaphysical meander
with just the two of us: my neighbor’s cat and I.
Two chords for self-taught breathing,
causality’s unwound tidal oscillations,
nor birds nor raindrops nor Pangaea:
everyone is waiting for a doorway in the wind,
feather-dusting the furniture for departure.
Proteus, the Jurassic prototype person, created Proteus II, a luminous version of himself, by reciting his own name. Following the advice of Archie, the archaeopteryx, flesh-and-blood Evita was created when Proteus II recited her name. After an interlude in which questions of Jurassic fashion were resolved, Proteus II claimed that he’d created Proteus in the same way, that he came first, à la chicken and egg, and the Proteus brothers took to arguing. Part one is here
Evita found a sapling
and whipped them both
around their heads.
Now there are two version of Proteus, the Jurassic prototype human. Proteus, the original, made of liquids, solids, and a not insignificant amount of gas, and the ionized and luminous Proteus II, created by Proteus when he said his own name. Proteus speaks with glowing lights, and conversely, the plasmoid Proteus II speaks with sounds that condense solids. Archie, the talking archaeopteryx pointed this out, but neither version of Proteus grasped its significance. Part one is here.
Don’t you see, you prehistoric buffoons?
If Proteus II recites the name “Evita,”
she’ll coalesce in flesh and fluid form.
The radiative Evita ran off with Adamstown, and Proteus plans to knit himself a striped woolen outfit to win her back. Proteus speaks with lights (which coalesced to form both Evita and Adamstown) and, starting at the beginning of the manufacturing process, he said the word “sheep” over and over before falling asleep. Of limited relevance, when he said “lightbulb,” his companion Archie swallowed the resultant glowing shape.
Proteus was awoken by nocturnal rustles, roars, and yawns,
but not a single bleat.
We must return to the ironsand beach,
he advised his mute and mildly feathered companion,
that is where the creatures shape themselves.*
Proteus, the prototype human, was speaking with the radiant Evita when Archie, the archaeopteryx, traced out a semaphoric flight path as a warning. Lulled by the night-lit lumens of his own voice, Proteus ignored the ancient bird and continued with his exposition of the integers.
When solar rays were manifest,
Proteus had an inkling that his feeble wisdom
did not limit the world, and recognized
the twin subversions of his dreams,
ignorance and arrogance,
but the revelation came too late.
This is the untold tale of Proteus,
the legendary beta man,
the greatest and only scientist of the Jurassic,
friend to the tasteless simpsonodon
and the slightly feathered archaeopteryx,
as bearded as da Vinci,
and in whose hair,
a flickering of iridescent wings,
mostly still attached to dragonflies,
glittered in the sunlight.
The wind drops violins, my ducks are misaligned,
and the day that you created is winding up
and winding down.
I’ve spread the margarine of time
across the bread and crossed it out.
I need no answers, Alícia,
to questions no-one asked.
Cakely words by Sara Lee
are baking in the oven
and I don’t know who’s to blame.
The Third Dimension appeared on-line in Plasma Frequency Magazine. PFM re-emerged in 2016 with help from Kickstarter, and they’ve introduced a number of new features including a rookie author program, revamped editorial process, and broad reading choices with stories free on-line as well as in print and ebook editions.
Note: Unfortunately PFM has now sunk again and all that is left is a terrible spam site.
‘The Third Dimension’ is pretty much sci fi, as long as you can suspend your disbelief—I find a glass of wine helps, except with politicians—and it owes something to Ian R MacLeod’s magical novel The Light Ages, plus a few other works that I won’t name to avoid spoilers.
Issue 11 of Fantasy Scroll Magazine with my totally non-apocalyptic story The Water Moon is now freely available online. Just like water crackers, the moon isn’t made of water, plus it isn’t made of cheese either. But water crackers and cheese go very well with Pinot Grigio, which I may have been drinking when I wrote this piece and which might explain why it isn’t apocalyptic.
The Water Moon appeared in Fantasy Scroll Magazine and is available online. FSM started in 2014 with the aim of publishing thought-provoking fantasy and sci fi, and since then they’ve gone from strength to strength. In 2015 they published a paperback anthology of their 2014 stories featuring a number of big name authors, and they produce a podcast of one story each week as well as the bimonthly magazine.
‘The Water Moon’ is in part based on my experiences in South America, and I’d like to think the piece says a little about belief systems and the violent acts that can arise from them. Continue reading
The ‘Love Hurts’ Anthology from Meerkat Press with my modestly apocalyptic sci fi/fantasy piece Jacinta’s Lovers is now in print.
Issue 2 of Shoreline of Infinity with my moderately apocalyptic sci fi piece Reliquaries is now in print.