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Saturday, 17 February 2007
Mustard Kat

Collaboration with Paul Pinn


            Your memory wavers like a fading photograph of a distant unimportant relative. However, your surname sticks in mind, gives you away.

            Charnock - charlock: a weedy annual of the mustard group; bright yellow flowers reflecting the day in cornfields down by the chicken coop where, back in some lean year, during a crisp brown fall, a rodent's nibbled teeth gnawed at an empty moment under a sick grey sky that frowned in vague torment at yet another lie as I left you to die, a bewiskered woman, a filamentary mole, burrowed 'neath the nap of past events, your spoor ugly hills 'midst other peoples' dreams.

            Hah! And to think you posed as something exotic hidden in a brightly coloured shell, like a pacific mollusc, expecting me to coax you out. If I had I would have missed the catch, and let's face it, there were plenty more fish in the sea without me having to spend time on thee, slug in a pretty shell, crossing your legs for me.

            But it's no good trying to escape from you. Every night I dream of flawless prisms of faceted gold glittering becalmed in a sea of mud, strange creatures milling around in attentive excitement, burbling and guzzling, probing and uttering sounds of pleasure, inebriation, desire. And when muddy hands reach out to touch the prisms and capture infinite spectrums, to twist and torture their colours, caress and love their brilliance, your form appears and turns my guts, and the prisms laugh, weave a slick temptation, flash smiles of silver beauty, a perfect manipulation with which to confuse me.

            Alas, the prisms fade as the gold facets dissolve into a glaucous backdrop, and your form remains bearing a warmth that sickens like the stench from unwashed armpits, and in that hour before wakefulness, you touch my body with a coldness straight from the sneering face of Time. And so the inebriated grow sober and lose their desire, and I awake, hungover but relieved, calm enough to face another day, close-shaven and without the Slough of Despond.

            I can think of your sister then, young Kat, who slinked like a horny wraith down to your father's cellar, pushed open the freshly painted door, and drank one of two vats clean dry. With her hippy hat she looked quite pretty, as she sat and watched a cat chase a rat round and round the other vat. But the cat was slow and fat and lost sight of the rat, which ended up sleeping on the brim of Kat's hat, the cat drunk on the contents of the second vat, Kat floating face down in what was left.

            Vats without bottom, young Kat. Vats without a top. They're cylinders which I dream through from beginning to end. Prisms I crawl through - breaking each golden shaft of dreamlight and letting it mend behind me. I seek your golden eye - the light at the end of the tunnel - a little girl's eye, whose innocence can only cast such heavenly guidance. You see, Kat, it was your sister who should've had it up to the neck. Not you. Not you at all.

            A circular tunnel is the worst tunnel of all - which is my own particular cellar - and it's where my bottles of red are stored, like glass sleepers. Until I touch them and find them softer than shellfish without shells. Wobbly containers, each with its own coiled-up soul of slumber. One drips a white cat-lick substance that the cork itself seeps.

            I wake yet again to summer. The meadow wafts with motes from shedding plants. Motes not moles, Kat. It's my whiskers that itch when you kiss my lips. Not yours. Picnics are nothing without the wine-cooler close by. Have another glassful before we retake the rhythm of our love. You're nicer than those characters I used to read about when I was a child - those peers of mine that Enid Blyton sent on adventures........into cellars.


(published 'Psychotrope' 1996)

Posted by wordonymous at 6:15 AM EST
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Thursday, 8 February 2007
Carving The Fish

 The fish had been poached perfectly and Rachel turned from her atlas to scrutinise its potential eatability.  Bill had prepared it for her - and had sprinkled several herbs and whole peppercorns over it.  Bill was currently her Ex.  But they were still fast friends


.            Bill was a geography teacher and Rachel’s worst subject at school -- but she enjoyed the shape of maps more for their aesthetic quality than their representation of reality.

              The atlas she had been browsing through was one of Fantasy Worlds, where all literary maps had been collected together.  Tolkien’s Middle Earth.  Thomas Hardy’s Wessex.  Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.  Samuel Butler’s Erewhon.  James Hilton’s Shangri-La.  Cervantes’ La Manche.  And so on.  Rachel adored poring over them with studious grins – lovingly tracing their margins, imagining herself in the various purlieus of mindscape.


            “You want to read a real atlas one day, Rachel,” announced Bill as he carved the fish: thick-slivering fillet after fillet upon each of their plates.


            The reason for them falling out as soulmates had been caused by their lack of sympathy regarding these very maps.  Bill was fascinated by the salt-of-the-earth disciplines of physical geography.  Political, too.  Brown contours that swirled around outlandishly tall peaks.  The bright primary colours dividing chance nations.  The pastel ones depicting exports, customs, geological features or striations, irrigation projects, hydroelectric dams, forestry conservation preoccupations…  


          Rachel loved nothing better than the more nebulous worlds that occupied her precincts of thought.


            She grabbed the fish knife and, in a desultory fashion, prodded her share of the mutual meal. 


           Bill, by now, had taken a whip from his wide-mouthed briefcase.  It was a snaky, quirky terrier of a whip.  It snapped and coruscated.  It almost had a life of its own.


            Bill positioned it on the table in the shape of the country whence the fish had come.  In this case, a country not a million miles dissimilar from France.  This had been a tradition at their dinner parties.  And Rachel smiled as she recalled that their differences over mere atlases were not the only reason for their love affair foundering.


            There were also Bill’s habits to contend with.


            He seemed to smile back at her as he watched a rather different habit that inhabited Rachel’s own reflexes: the one of beating the fish at its own game.


            She was evidently not steaming to France.  But quite another place.

Posted by wordonymous at 10:26 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 10:29 AM EST
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Thursday, 18 January 2007
Baffle 39
Angels sing loudest when their wings are unfolded, not flying, as such, but pinned to the dartboard by consecutively thrown darts from two contestants.

Posted by wordonymous at 2:50 PM EST
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Tuesday, 19 December 2006
Spicier Than Truth
   Seven swords/four of coins a Zulu shield woven from their enemy’s swords: a knotty triffid kaleidoscope wherein the enemy’s cherubic soccer-mascot wields a spitsnake to scare the Zulus.A heraldic raft with druggy blooms at each corner for tidal trips (a brave barge with dank swords blossoming out beauteous fungi): a reflective face, reflective face with an ancient paedophiliac brooch used as the single nose. Hiya, Four-Eyes!! the four antherine blooms seek the pollination upon the four rose-plates.  The sun/judgement the sun comes out after the storm blast, raising naked people from hollow brick-rafts whose particular specific gravities allow them to alternately sink and float like feathers in a swamp of green bile. The lagged red lightning from the erstwhile storm becomes the sun’s own starform shafts: a kind sun which allows the children to come out to play in a near nudity: too cunning to strip off completely like their resurrected parents.God dressed in His mouldy wings is astride the thunder angel’s back. The Sun is God’s enemy, because He wants people to stay dressed. But not for morality’s sake. Omniscient Imagination is spicier than truth.  Nine of coins/ace of cups A banquet with nine covers, where the ninth and last guest to arrive has his cover set in the middle of the table, to act as overseer of the untangling of the nectar siphons. The feast lasts forever and the ninth guest gradually turns into a Kaiser cup: the Platonic Form of Drink which the other eight once eschewed but now covet.  Queen of coins/queen of swords Two tankards of ill-bodied bitter, each with its aftertaste and even sharper tongue. Lithe playpen is mightier than the sword, then money is greater than both bookends. Time’s the only taming of shrews.Mace and sword their only stems, eyes their only tears he ets.  The world/juno The Twelve Days of Christmas is sung as they board the ark with Noah’s premature wreath. When the flood subsided, unregulated transvestism’s final unscarfing betokened the wrong permutations of sex and the end of humanity as we know it (or knew it). The world is now simply populated by animals who only know us people as old Jungian dreams in gaudy dresses or skimpy scarves.  Ten of cups/five of coins Ten empty egg-cups for a salady tea. Two eggs each! Greedy beggars! But which came first, the egg or the egg? When green vegetables turn mouldy, they don’t simply turn greener. Impatience grew rampant. Condiments and insults, till the egg-chef broke his head on the five platters that came winging angrily into his hen-pen. His blood formed into chick-foetus roses. Eventually all manner of things would be well. And abstemious.  King of Coins/Knight of Cups Two chess pieces became playing cards overnight. They were angry at becoming not only two-dimensional but face down. So nobody, least of all me, could form images from them, but fulsome darkness was better than being hidebound as to strict paths and angles of wayfare.   

Posted by wordonymous at 5:25 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 December 2006 5:26 PM EST
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Saturday, 2 December 2006
A Glass Darkly



The hand went through the glass - but really, at the end of the day, the glass got its own back.

Until that day I had never really thought about the relative vulnerability of human bodies. So soft, so pliable, so very bone-cushioned: all for the sake of providing a vehicle for life. And, indeed, it is a rule of thumb that advantages do have their side-effects -- even the rule that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Which brings me straight back to the window I accidentally smashed with my hand and which in turn, simultaneously and not so accidentally, smashed my hand! The purpose of windows, like eyes, was, I thought, to ease viewing of external existence around the fragile pod of life that’s you. And to let light in and darkness out. But windows may see their purpose as something quite different. And eyes, too.

I know it’s not original: but eyes are windows of the soul. And the onset of death (which starts at birth) causes splintery sparks to dig ever deeper from the skull’s twin sockets until the biggest shark’s fin of all ribs through the conduit nerve of reality...

Still, you can be thankful for small mercies: it would be worse in a worse world.


Posted by wordonymous at 2:12 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 2 December 2006 2:14 PM EST
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Tuesday, 28 November 2006
Secret Wheel (7)

The titles of the stories are embedded in the URL addresses below:



































































































































































































Posted by wordonymous at 6:56 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006 7:21 AM EST
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Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Baffle (30)

I saw the soldier step in the dogmuck.  In the First World War, the trenches were full of such droppings from beast and fowl.  Many dreamers collected it up in “doggy bags” to make their hard beds more comfortable in the dream whence the stuff came via the filters of sleep, dream and waking, back to the modern soft beds whence they came.

Posted by wordonymous at 1:22 PM EST
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Tuesday, 14 November 2006
Baffle (17)
There is only one way through.  A measure of its uniqueness is coming out the other side ... alone.

Posted by wordonymous at 12:24 PM EST
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Monday, 6 November 2006
Beyond Ulthar

  BEYOND ULTHAR  (previously published ‘Lost Pages’ 2005)  



Ulthar and Skai, town and river, became a different jigsaw.  Even the words themselves contained other words like rat and kat.  A krazy kat because it was never correctly spelt that way.  All the cats had hats, as ancient jokes had it.  But the rats were bigger than the cats, even when the cats had their hats on.


However, the town and river, Ulthar and Skai, had long slipped back into deeper fears and ways of dream.  The river was now more like the sky, especially as the sky had darkened into a rich purple, day and night.  Ever since the cats – all those years ago when the future looked more antique than the past to those who prophesied it – gnawed the flesh from the human bones of anyone that sheltered dusk in their hearts, yes, ever since those thralls of time, the town and river, Ulthar and Skai, had ripened into hotbeds of gossipy and wicked tongues. 


The cats wore hats to disguise themselves.  The burgesses of Ulthar wondered why the cats were so shy.  It was certainly not in fear of the rats, because rats were never a common foe; in the old days, rats had not even existed, as those trading between Hatheg and Kadath would attest to any ears that would welcome hearsay upon their itching drums.  The rats were simply shadows of the cats with hats, elongated and terrifyingly ineffectual.   The rats were, in this shape of blurred foreboding, reminiscent of the outer gods to which the Ulthar folk prayed, ever since the dictum about not killing cats took sway.  Most folk, you see, had always feared the cats, those dreaded cats of Ulthar.  Vengeance was sweet in any feline’s green eyes, against the welkin’s backdrop of panoplied purple folds. 


The river wound in these purple heavens: a silver, sluggish trail to the gods that wanted to incarnate as rats.  Or simply as jokes.  There was a couple of sweethearts, though, in Ulthar amid the indeterminate durations of our tale.  The boy was big-boned; he was also tender-hearted, and many called him, half-paradoxically, Hulc.  The pretty girl was a home-maker, but lacked ambition as to where their eventual married life might end up.  She they called Hut.  Despite this, she kept her choice curls away from thatch.


Hulc, one day, watched the sky.  He and Hut had undergone a ritual lover’s tiff.  Which sweethearts didn’t?  He had been dreaming of the past and the past was disguised as the future.  Hut had fathomed quite different durations from Hulc.  Hulc needed convincing that he had the durations the right way round.  Ever since the legendary cat mauls in Ulthar, of which another storyteller once spoke, he knew the cats were still crazy in Ulthar but sometimes he thought he must be even crazier himself.


Judging by the sky, there was much to fear as well as much mystic beauty with which to be engorged.  It was crawling with a veritable map of rivers, like prominent veins in flesh: ruby red, moon yellow, petal mauve, sunbreezy and pastel-tinged beyond the banks of such rivers.  A frisson of emerging cosmic anxiety lay behind the beauty like a sense of disease.  One of the rivers must be Skai, he thought, next to which sat the real town of Ulthar and its manifold bossy cats.  Ever since freeing the streets of low life, the cats had set about making any residual human townees fit to be more than just pets.   Only the people with saving graces and loadlustre looks would suffice to live alongside the feline finery.  Hulc and Hut were two such survivors.  Their wondrous looks and love of labour stood this couple in good stead.  The cats indeed encouraged the couple’s romance, in the sense of potentially breeding them.  Stroking love, even stoking it.


Yes, a simple couple, Hulc and Hut.  They prayed to simple gods.  They accepted the way up had become the way down, and down up.  They had accepted, too, that then had become now, now then.  And will be would always be was.  They vowed to spend their honeymoon in Kadath and prayed for the cats’ complicity.  The rest of the townsfolk were simple, too.  Some were even simpler with even simpler gods to worship.



The cats’ own gods, though, were complex with darkening brows.  Pointed ears and whiskers on gods were not very becoming.  Whatever the case, Hulc and Hut decided to upgrade their prayers to these less simple gods, unfearful of the terror that this might bring to their souls before the consummation of marriage.  To run such risk was like leaving empty circus bowls for hungry tigers.  Never to run such risks was probably selling oneself short in the search for happiness across the Skai’s raging margins.


Hulc an Hut thus prepared to leave Ulthar and prayed that any new god that became their god would perk up its tail upon them stroking from its tail’s root to tail’s end.  Meanwhile, they managed to convince the advance guard of dustbin scavengers that it was only a honeymoon they planned rather than a wholesale escape to less foreboding realms.


Hulc said something to Hut in a whisper so that even sharp ears could not catch the thrust of his intention.


Hut heard him say: “A honeymoon can stretch into forever once we’ve fled their claws.”


Hulc heard her reply: “But do they not read our minds?”


Whether they were the exact words, only the mysteries of storytelling could ever hope to fathom.  When gods themselves conspire, one can often judge this by the landscape subtly moving where being static would be more normal – and being static when moving would be more normal.  The river, indeed, when they attempted to cross it – for example – was like sluggish crushed ice audibly crunching to a halt, despite the sweaty atmosphere with which Ulthar had been condemned in the recent mix-up of durations.


Eventually, Hulc and Hut managed a good part of their journey away from Ulthar.  The terrain was quite unexciting.  The sky had cleared of clouds as well as of rivers.  The sun was a borehole right into the core of their being.  Plain and simple, like the gods.  But no gods were present.  Hulc was the first who heard the herd of cats.  That was what he childishly called their collective threat sensed in every fibre of his body.   The sound was like a huge engine – but engines had, of course, not been invented in Hulc’s past or even in his envisageable future – yet in his present there was this strong droning horse-power, deep and relentless – and he quickly guessed this was the manifold purring of the cats…


But, no, there was more a snoring tone to the underlevels of the sound.  Snorting, even. Hut – in her pretty innocence – had often spoken between dreams, between slumbers, too, of the monster that resides in everybody’s sleep.  Her voice was ever timeless, yet she spoke now, with winning sincerity.



“My own mother,” she whispered, “ whom I loved more than all the money in the world plus sixpence – she in whose lap I sat amid the gods of nursery rhyme and mother comforts – yet when I saw her actually asleep, she became a monster mother, the lips twitching, the throat with a wild apple up and down, the nose clogged with snotty snores … a monster was more a monster simply the more I saw the monster was my mother…”


She kissed Hulc on the cheek.  They had never before kissed at all.


Hulc nodded and added his own thoughts: “Sometimes, when I am asleep myself, I feel I’ve become a monster, too, my own snores making a loud sound that almost wakes me.  Just like those cats, now, no doubt.  Then half-dozing makes the rusted nostrils bear the brunt of the snuffling - and the grating of the breath which I cannot control…”


As their conversation wound down, they rounded the bend in the river and they saw the sea of cats, like millions of black roses, an ill-fitting jigsaw of coiled slumber … the purrs and snores now deafening and frightening.  Beyond these cats was a seeming sea of resting rats.  Beyond them a mountain of chimneys like hats.  A city or something worse.


A letter sea – making Culthar.


“I love you,” said Hut.




“I love you,” said Hulc.


They held hands amid the fear of something far more cosmically lonely than they could ever envisage between the shuttling durations.  They joined hands to defeat such despairing loneliness and joined bodies each to each, joining the names of their bodies as well as the flesh of their bodies.  Cthulhu it spelt amid the punctuation of the purrs.


Posted by wordonymous at 11:16 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 6 November 2006 11:21 AM EST
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Sunday, 5 November 2006
Baffle (6)

Lost in clouds of confusion, Nemo's Ark forged on towards its hopeful berth within the clarity of a new-born day when the occupants would disembark, breathe in the luscious scents and squat upon their ends to write stories forever.

Posted by wordonymous at 3:56 AM EST
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