Mascara Snake Poems by Simon J. Charlton

I write the days

Days of strange habit and alien design

Here there is a dislocation of reason and all its attendant securities

Here fractured reflections out of broken mirrors

I tunnel obsessively the failing interior

Cast adrift within uncertain stories

Carried by the music of songs as yet unsung

I tunnel obsessively the failing interior

Seeking connections within a heap of broken images

Gleaning small truths to unknown purpose

By the Mascara Snake’s arcane inclination I have become this other self

This self of dreams

This self of fears

This self that only the secret mirror knows

In writing I struggle against the means at my disposable

To pin the flaming butterfly of language to the velvet cushion of comprehension

To plot a narrative course through a wilderness of deceptions

Of diversions and dead ends

And yet I write

I write of the moon sitting huge midst a bed of stars on his tongue

I write of the suns blazing their brilliance to blindness in his eyes

I write of the fires kindled to roar within the immensity of his belly

I write of his league spanning boots and tip the wink hat

I write of his horizon swallowing smile and his blue guitar

I write

Yet the essence eludes me

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Simon J. Charlton may be reached for questions or comments at simonjohncharlton@gmail.com. Check out his newly-released album, The Truth of All Love, with the musician Ben Rusch!

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The Mascara Snake’s shadow play flickering between smoke and mirrors refusing my desire for narrative clarity

In attempting to define the nature of his enchantments I sculpt only winds and whispers

As the ink gleams in Pyrrhic victory then dries upon the page so the thought occurs

A thought that drops with the stunning violence of the guillotine

Absolute and unequivocal

Perhaps all here is ended and these are merely ghost words spiralling out into an endless darkness

Spectral wanderings to unknowable ends

Drifts of memory like the echoes of static from a dead radio

Lost waves falling across the stones of deserted beach

And yet I write

Time here the shadows of absent hands across a broken face

Disordered midst a spillage of cogs and springs

All still seems possible and yet nothing seems real

Here I have known fragility

Here I have known tenderness

Here I have known the dread sufferings of ghosts

Silent screams held within the shadows of shadows

Here I have known the lost reflections of forgotten mirrors

Here the conscious mind creates a foundation for retrieval that the unconscious mind then denies

Spiralling midst a drift of feathers across the fabled crossroads

Suicides lay within the silence of their barely remembered sorrows

A storm broken sign tilts in the crow disturbed soil

Crudely branded ‘THIS IS A LIE’

Awareness blooms in the eternal instant

Pale flowers cracking time scarred concrete

Anaemic petals chasing an invisible sun

My shadow the unravelling threads of the Mascara Snake’s broken weave cast indifferent across the burning sands

I tunnel obsessively the failing interior

The sun an ice blasted stone dead on my tongue

The moon a cold silver smear across my heart

I look to the stars

The glistening net that held once the possibility for all dreaming

But in the Mascara Snake’s realm of confusions they denote only oblivion

Fragments of dead time following in blind obedience some unknown law across the darkness

The discordant exclamations of a wilderness song snag in the brittle limbs of the winter stripped trees

The suffering shapes of frost scorched ivy twist with the wind

Ghost lovers lay within the softness of their dying shadows weeping for the memory of their dreams and fears

The horizons are stretched beyond imagining

Distances beyond reason

Distances beyond dreaming

I tunnel obsessively the failing interior

Scrabbling torn of finger and scrapped of knee midst the dust washed rubble

Plucking blood stained feathers from the ruined earth

Suffering’s corrosive stench a weight upon the wind

Wandering blind midst the fallen ruins of a shadow city that must once have gleamed golden

Seeming eternal

The mightiest of works inspiring speechless awe

Telling now a tale of unutterable despair

I am this hungering ghost of pallid aspect

Hollow eyed and spectral within the mirror’s depthless shimmer

The lights waver

Casting uncertain shadows

Dying slowly towards darkness

The essence of an inevitable extinction

Their gradual dimming a moment beyond redemption

Memories stir their tumid mass

Memories informing that the flesh was always weak in its wilful demands

Its worship of gratification in the eternal instant

The blind insistence of untamed appetite

Allowing not of the madness inherent to undreamt consequence

That same flesh now gathers its age wearied folds and time conjured creases to its fitting end

Each agony of furnace drawn breath destined to fail in corrupted lungs

Eyes to fade within their depthless wells of murk and horror

Shadow darkened hollows where the inversion of arts and wonders is a world of nightmares and dread

The fire is an exhausted heap of lowering ashes

Collapsing through a series of soft explosions

I circle the flickering Halloween heart

Tracing with faltering steps the ragged shadow of a rain broken dog

Crooked of tooth and bloody of muzzle it sorrows within the belly curled surrender of its tail

Raising failed hackles to the fullness of the moon that I follow until it is lost to the light

However I interpret time’s disjointed passage across the jagged peaks of the unnamed mountains the Mascara Snake’s presence insists that time here is a nothing out of nowhere

Here where my destiny is a conclusion self created

Here where my destiny shall be bones sun bleached and sand scoured into immaculate absence

Here my final sighing exhalation shall be nothing save a fading memory

A dream lost on the untraceable breeze

Yet it is these moments tending towards oblivion that have become a bleak comfort Moments hated

Moments feared

Their intimacy of understanding impossible to deny

It is out of such twisted consolation that I seek to document my journey through this land of cries and whispers

Of dreams and fears

Of desert winds and ineffable wilderness

Suffering is signalled by the birds spiralling within their filth of feathers in the upper air

The beaded liquid shimmer of their ever narrowing eyes a precursor of death somewhere in the burning sands below

The sonorous hum of flies waiting to anoint the inevitable carcass with their vile benediction

Each scrawl of ink across the brittle page is a denial of such endings

Each word shaped an attempt at permanence

A creating of self to purpose within the Mascara Snake’s ever shifting weave

A claiming of truth within the shadow I cast by sun’s rise and moon’s glow

As the ink dries on page and finger I realise that such ideas as permanence and truth have no reality when the Mascara Snake grins his tombstone grin and tilts his by your leave hat to extinguish the sun

When he opens the uncharted reaches of his eyes burning soft with blue flames of timeless sorrow

Such ideas are for another world at another time

Another world

Another time

Ideas born of certainties to be tenderly nurtured around the comfort of a winter roaring fire

The greenwood delighting in its death throes of snap and spit and crackle and hiss

Held timeless and leather deep in a dark panelled room of candle soft light and welcoming shadows

Brandy’s aromatic textures swirling to a hand’s warmth in the crystal balloon

Bookcases groaning contentedly beneath their weight of knowledge

Rain scratching its windblown signature at the windows informing us of our benign security

Here I may only claw at the silence in ineffectual desperation

My sun cracked fingers clutching knuckle white the pen’s smooth barrelled length

As if its shape to purpose were the last point of stability in a world ever more tilted

Ever more the unnameable

Ever more other

To cross hatch in barely decipherable frenzy the bare page

Seeking through an act of will to silence the white scream that howls and burns behind my eyes

An act of will that struggles in unequal contest against a design of impossible dimensions

A design birthed within compass of the Mascara Snake’s shadow

Coiled within its maddening tendrils of otherwise and ambiguity

Each moment is the reflection of a reflection in a hall of mirrors

A dazzle of speculations and uncertainties

In attempting to define the nature of his intentions I raise myself to sentience upon a ladder of smoke

A rope of wind that vanishes into the blue glare of the Mascara Snake’s eyes

I tumble into blind compulsion

I tunnel obsessively the failing interior

Fragile as failing breath across the mirror’s unblemished surface

A smear of exhausted light collapsing into the shadow lost corners of an abandoned room

The broken phone lays in the accumulated silence of the years

The definition of sorrow in its dust wreathed and fractured cradle

Once upon a time life forms drift spectral in the failing light

Time polished surfaces offer reflections of cruel design

I drag the time scarred ruins for the memory of a scream that is the signature of existence

A memory of the big river where swans thread the moonlight with a feathered tenderness

That heaves its tumid mass beneath a sweating obscenity of vegetation

Where old men gather within their crumpled skins a creaking of limbs to spit and snarl and weep against the parched sorrow of their impotence

Where the old women scrub in a blind and pointless frenzy the barren acreage of their arid wombs

Where the bones of the eternal stranger shine beautiful in their sorrowing for all our forgotten possibilities

Our forgotten arts

Our forgotten wonders

The big river that arrives listless and gasping at the salt stinking estuary

Beneath a sky the colour of storms the feather crested waves divide Enticing sailors to their drowning deeps

Hollow eyed they drift the green fathoms to eternal reward

Rum weary they raise an ancient and parched chorus

A desolation of song that is claimed by the brooding silence

The terrible beauty unveiled within the Mascara Snake’s cloud bruised eyes

The Mascara Snake

Wisdom’s jester in black cape black hat sequin and spotlight

Dreamer of wilderness of heart song and prayer

Indomitable within his kingdom of dreams and fears

His dominion of miracles and terminal regrets

Each thought here reclaimed is a burning stone of incandescent sorrows

A crash of lightning out of sky towering thunderheads

The weave of the rainbow remains unbroken as tempests roar down from the unnamed mountains

Within the elemental maelstrom a babble of voices carry me beyond the known points of the compass

Beyond the cartographer’s failing of knowledge that is revealed in the poetry of ‘HERE BE MONSTERS’

All as written shall be truth

All as written shall be deception

Everything is possible

Nothing is real

These are ghost words

Twisted reflections in a hall of shattered mirrors

Signposts raised out of nothing along the road to nowhere

Signposts crudely branded ‘THIS IS A LIE’

I tunnel obsessively the failing interior

The failing interior

The failing

***

Awake to a sky steeped in sorrow

Funeral memories

Imagined or real

The peaks of the unnamed mountains are lost beneath a lowering sky

A boiling weight of bruise blue clouds

Their bleak mass closing the day in upon itself

Wind driven a scattering of birds gather to spiral beneath the clouds’ roiling immensity

Dark feathered they are the smoke of forgotten fires

The memory of lost seasons

When we as children heaped autumn’s fallen drift of colours to an innocent’s approximation of a funeral pyre

Buried deep within our overcoats

Collars high and hats pulled low

Our fingers woollen snug

The frost of early morning a diamond blue glint in our eyes

Our speech taking form on the frigid air

We would watch spellbound as lost summer was consumed within the fire’s Halloween heart

A tumbling roar and swirl of flames warming our faces against the day’s promise of fresh snow

Eventually to collapse into a smouldering sigh of ashes

Raising my eyes from the drying page the afterglow of the memory remains

The palest shadow across the heart’s tender wound

The palest shadow that returns me to this otherwhere of strange tracks carved by unknown feet into the red rock that lies eternal beneath the burning sands

Tracks that vanish into lost distances

Whip thin coyotes raise their dream devouring jaws

Howling their feral melancholy at the moon’s waning

Black rain pounds in fury the sheer sides of the unnamed mountains

The day as if aware of its finite nature sets itself to a greater darkening within the descending clouds that are black as widow’s weeds

Stumbling of thought and tied of tongue I am hostage to the fortune that is the Mascara Snake’s beguiling gift

His fingers peeling a concussion of notes from an ill tuned piano as he sings of the silence and its stolen heart

His face a luminescent shiver in the timeless mirror

Here perhaps he inhabits a badly painted smile

A crooked waxen smear across the face of the drunken clown

Here perhaps a china doll time blinded and broken across the unravelling tinder of a wicker chair

Here perhaps the scurrying mystery behind the varnish cracked wainscot

Here perhaps the sly smile of sinister knowing in the eternal stranger’s eye

In the imagined melodrama of failed expression cold ashes are heaped upon my tongue and a cactus dream sits within the chambers of my heart

The past is when

The future is how

Shadow fragments drift across the wound that is the mirror’s reflection

Failing imagination and a scattering of figments across dead time

A paper skinned carcass sits slumped within its creases

Drunk naked in the dust shrouded corner

Eyelids flutter with never to be remembered dreams

Beyond the time pitted glass of the paper mended window the pale light of a garbage moon casts a diseased shadow that arches the backs of the opal eyed cats and sets the dogs to their idiot howling

Delivered of history to this realm of montage

Of fragments ill assembled

Seeking connections within a heap of broken images

The disjointed mosaic of dreams and fear

The bloated deceptions of false gods

Half remembered

Best forgot

Mercilessly torn from shattered pedestals

Junked remnants of an ill conceived permanency

Memory’s afterglow fades

Escapes my shaping hand

The day’s cultivation of silence is broken by the clown’s idiot cackle

Laughter ill shaped by the sorrows that swarm in the shadows beyond the spotlight’s glare

Where a screeching steel progression of torture machines spew flames

Their cumbersome yet irrefutable progress grinding the streets to rubble

Brick and dust and broken glass

A contamination of desires thrown skywards

Ascending to blind the eye of the indifferent sun

The heart cleaves at the lovers’ slip of finger

Their desperate kiss of final farewell that would deny time midst the mounting cacophony of horrors

Their kiss consumed to ashes that the bitter rain sweeps along the gutter to the drain’s gaping throat

All these moments enacted beneath the unending sorrow of an ever broken sky

***

AND THE 1st THING THE MASCARA SNAKE SAID WAS… (With a face like a broken clock it could be said that time was always against me I was born to the sound of a train’s whistle splitting the night My mother’s thighs awash with blood and sweat and suffering My mother’s cries riding the wings of the eagle owl in its swooping flight of death scarred sorrow across the inviolate darkness My father cursing the alignment of the stars The moon’s fire red held in the mirrors of my eyes The jilted bride shrouded in shattered rigging spat her curse where once was song Weeping into my future of shadows and sighs My kingdom of dreams and fears As a child I was intent on madness challenging the sun in day long games of stare and submission Finger painting in undreamt shadows the ceaseless maelstrom of my vision across the burning sands Dislocating the wheel of fortune Plucking the thorn from the withered tongue Swallowing my pride like lemon Adjusting my illness to match the cut of my cloth and the tilt of my hat Staring fairground mirrors into shards of self disgust Assuming my multiplicity of identities within the reflections of reflections The flowering of my awareness banishing thoughts of permanency Of self Of other Of all My eyes as oceans rage with a sudden fierceness as sudden become the peace unending My nights cup deep drunk Swaying within the sinuous tempest of my own creation Howling my songs of driftwood and ashes into the darkness Playing my creaking carcass lullabies on a tin guitar and pissing eternally into the eternal gutter) …“WHEN WE WERE YOUNG WHEN WE WERE VERY VERY YOUNG”

***

The horizon has claimed the day

And the moon settles its golden sickle in a bed of stars

The unnamed mountains remain a brooding presence in the painted desert of the Mascara Snake’s imagination

Nights are a breeding pool hatching shadow legions who stalk the ill fortuned wanderer

Whispering of corruption and dead time

Of dreams and fears

Shadow legions who stalk the edges of vision in a constant mutation of smouldering shimmers

Insisting of despair and the bottle’s sick embrace

Of futility and the razorblade’s silver sharp smile of cure all comfort

I tunnel obsessively the failing interior

Darker than ocean depths where sailors’ bones drift silent their unseen gleam in the timeless current

Gasping to break the surface of sleep I encounter only the numbing void of the Mascara Snake’s absence

The spectral horror of moonlight whiter than milk across my skin

Still held with the tidal sweep of hush and moan

The fall and rise to unknown consequence across cold stones

Sour wine claims the moment and a litter of broken dreams spill from the bottle’s parched throat

Stillborn and senseless they are smuggled into the bellies of the ships that lay inert on the water

As still as statues beneath a punishing sun

Locked within the dead song of the ocean’s oppressive calm

The seabirds a silent menace in the cat’s cradle of rigging

The wedding veil white of their feathers glowing incandescent

Unknowing of time they wait with glacial patience

Black of heart their beaded eyes narrowed to darkening ends

The crew are a bleak cargo

Tatters of skin marked with the days of their suffering

Broken across the bar

Shattered of hope

Parched of tongue

Forgotten remnants cast blind to the blue wilderness

The drifting ghosts of faded promises

Their final reckoning starkly realised in the bloody wrecks of their eyes

The salt tarnished breeze is a memory that holds the vanishing notes of a song that will remain forever unsung

Above the creaking timbers clouds gather in a bruised squabble of sullen

intentions

The tempest threatening grumble of thunder builds to its concussive crescendo

Incipient lightning a sudden urgency of electricity tasted on the frazzled air

Creeping as if cowed midst this quarrel of elements the moon as stranger is the saddest dream

Its gentle melancholy tending me again to the sorrowing mirror

Consumed within the night of guilt and shame

The towering mass of perpetual doubt

The skin of sleep is shed and he is discovered teetering at the cliff edge of despair

A hungering loneliness echoes the hungering heart

Chimerical guests gather uninvited at the feast

Shadow murmurs from the heart of darkness

The day first sighs and then collapses from within

Another exhausted fire

I am left to sift through the cold ashes that are the bitterest of accusations

A gathering of sorrows that drift between my fingers whispering the names of a sullen and benighted crew

The forgotten and the dislocated

The holy fools and the terminal failures

The angel dreamers and stardust wanderers

The never known who carry no name and cast no shadow

Who drift with the ocean’s grieving tides

Cast into the silence out of which I write

These words no more than wretched excuses for existence

Life alibis no more than scars across the page

Soon to fade along windowless corridors where the shuffling ghosts of all sorrow clutch the fragile remnants of a broken past

Where the Mascara Snake’s absence is the memory of a shadow that falls across the empty heart

Gut sprung clocks spill dead time that is gathered as rust across their idle hands Wandering empty rooms of eternal 3AM

The hour of unexplained dread

Of lonely hearts and unexplained deaths

When the broken phone is held within the sorrow of its dust shrouded cradle

The connection broken

Wires torn in an act of ancient violence that still trembles in the grey silence Flecks of dried blood across the mirror’s empty face

A discarded razorblade still holds its silver sharp smile of cure all comfort

In this room we may dream a dream of dreamers dreaming

Of the neon flooded wilderness where ghost children gather dust dry flowers

Where strangers mutter with a desperate fearfulness into tight clenched fists Shuffling aimless paths towards an end that refuses them admission

***

As the unnamed mountains vanish into the gathering night

So self awareness is perverted by darker arts into the odious miasma of self pity

Midnight wakefulness hatching a dread corruption

The mirror offers only a shadow eyed stranger mutely howling the sorrows of an injustice

Complaints born of a twisted perception

And yet such horrors as proclaim dominion are the reality of nightmare when the owl’s call and the mouse’s scream are the shared moment and the bats like unleashed shadows assume their mythic guise and swallow the night

Such horrors are the blood flowing through my veins

Such horrors are the tears that sting my eyes

Such horrors are the thoughts that swirl their toxic maelstrom of self and disgust

A crisis of repulsion birthed from the breeding pools in the undreamt wasteland of rock and ruin and terrible rain

Of desolation and its bitter twin despair

In this land of wind shaped phantoms and changeling shadows the scurrying pen scratches its idiot signature to no more purpose than the mouse worrying in the dust dark blindness behind the wainscot

Ghost lovers tap their sorrows at the storm lashed windows

Wretched of heart they weep for the once upon a times that might have been

The wind screams through the trees

Grief the unredeemable instant ever repeating

Ghost lovers draped across the arms of the weeping trees

Carving their secret selves of wound and oblivion into the heart deep darkness

These are the days of the silent scream

These the days of shattered mirrors

These the days of the bleeding fist white knuckle tightened in self recrimination

Memory haunted eyes blur with a wash of ghosts

The rose garden at dusk

Echoing voices of lost time

A fading bruise

A severed promise

A defeated dream

The faces of hated friends emerge from moon cast shadow

Hang their spectral blue sorrows in the nightmare clutching branches of the skeletal trees where clouds snag the dark bellies of their ill intent

The night shivers itself to purpose

Gathers the unspoken sadness located at the heart of silence

The song forever unsung

Out of this behind the smile narcissism

This obsessive tending to ancient wounds

The summer house shimmers

Forms its walls painted softest blue

Of summer long skies and eternal heartbreak

The secret path leads down to still waters

Uncovers the forest’s emerald weave of secrets

Bracelets of woven grass discarded across a carpet of pine needles that absorbs all sound

The sun’s presence the flickering of light and shadow

A breath of breeze disturbs the water’s surface

An unseen cloud darkens the moment and the rainbow wonder of long ago eyes and time distant laughter is consumed within the merciless crackle of bitterest flames

Colours paled almost to absence drift through prayer broken fingers

Dawn has yet to break

Is the silence perched at my shoulder

The ache of sorrows by the mirror unspoken

The mystery of eyes darkened by sleep’s absence

By the gathering blood orange light the gutter angels are stripped of their wings

Stunned they fall

Their speech of tongues a tormented babble

A rising tide of gibberish

The newborn sun is lost within drifting clouds of greasy smoke heavy with the stench of burnt feathers and blood

This my breath across the mirror’s time scarred surface

These my dreams the sweat upon my skin

These my fears the stains upon my sheets

Somewhere the Mascara Snake roams

Lost within his sleight of hand creations

His vivid hat deep abracadabra

His eyes pale moons full risen to an all consuming vastness

Dictating the tides that claim as delighted prize the drowning sailor’s silent screams and groans

Their slow motion descent a trembling delirium

Somewhere the Mascara Snake roams

His desires a limitless horizon

His laugher dusk soft rose scented

His tears the river

His river the ocean

His ocean the world

Somewhere along the endless dreaming highway of his own creation he sits beneath the slow shifting patterns of the stars

Casting to the four winds of his command a blight of corrupted visions

His song of silence and the secret heart

His eyes hold an astonishing montage of arts and wonders dreams and fear

Somewhere other the illusion persists of home and hearth

Somewhere other the illusion persists of home and heart

Somewhere

Other

***

AND THE 2nd THING THE MASCARA SNAKE SAID WAS… (The world ending incandescence of my smile Its concussive resonance that humbles mountains Whispered acolytes barely realised lay their broken haloes in the lucid dust that is the mark of my passing My hands a blur as I juggle the idiocies of innocence and experience Of desire and despair Casting from my scarlet sack seeds for a wilderness song My voice a dry canyon whisper Hollow echoes fading into the permanent midnight of my dreaming Tidal murmurs reveal a tintack rain exploding out of the naked heart Windowpanes rattling like old bones in their weary frames Fishing for sorrows in the broken glass canal The sun my of days a diseased insistence The moon of my nights a cargo of visions never to be realised As the stars tumble into drunken place so the hours fold themselves towards absence I swiftly follow) “REGRET? REGRET IS ALL THERE IS”

***

Within the tumbledown rookeries

A fragment of starlight by broken glass is but temporary illumination

A momentary glimmer

Soon to fade

Shoulder tight the alleyways are slick with a storm’s passing Rorschach stained the brickwork is suggestive of mercy and memory

Of dreams and fears

Weariness and regret

Grease tainted air is a fetid weight unmoving

Shadows fail in the almost light of a faltering streetlamp

A poster time torn and ragged peels into obsolescence

Scarlet flowers burst out of a skull and we’re supposed to be impressed

Cracked pavements birth carnival colours

The clown’s candyfloss smear of a smile ill applied to little reward

The kohl of his eyes smudged uncaring across the age yellowed pancakes of his cheeks

Shrunken within the seam torn ash stained oversized landscape of his suit

Naming his sorrows by the weary repetition of dancing spotlights

Of pratfalls and water fights across piss darkened sawdust

Here in the shadow hung bleachers is the cheek blown chuckle

The strangled chortle

Heart sore laughter rising to the vanished gods

A stagnancy of song resolving itself to silence

A roar of sunlight has dragged me from the depths of a darkest dreaming

The Mascara Snake no more than the sliver of a memory

A lover’s black gloved hand drawing the carriage door closed

Desire becomes the cold stone of absence at the moment of her departure

The sharp sorrow of the conductor’s whistle marking a stark point of division between then and now

Between now and when

Barely contained of its energies the engine strains against its furnace gathered steam

The carriages lay wreathed in lung cluttering smoke

A silk soft breeze swirls the smoke to clear and the dream has vanished

The Mascara Snake no more than the barest touch of a sweat cooled finger across an unsuspecting shoulder

A shiver of anticipated recognition stilled within the unknown gleam of the eternal stranger’s smile

The unknowing sacrifice is held within scope of the assassin’s indifferent eye

Still frame in ignorance at the point of extinction

The struggling imagination is a ragged weave

The sag of an exhausted smile that fails to connect beyond the mirror’s blank reflection

Voices out of lost time are muffled echoes through snow soft days

The winter’s bliss of solitude and silence

The pearl grey light

The snow’s fresh crust yielding beneath a drag of feet

Night frozen footprints seem locked forever in both time and place

Comfort is the spit of fresh cut greenwood out of dancing flames

A feathered weight of pillows tumbling us down through a day’s end exhaustion of laughter into the depthless wonder of our dreams

But the mirror’s bitter eye is bleak company

The smile snags and the weave’s too delicate thread is broken

My hand emerges into the bruised light

A sweat desperate clutching at the pen’s reality

Its crooked passage across the untenanted page barely legible

A smudge of symbols to meet the taunting white glare

This pen my only anchor against the thoughts that rise unbidden out of the day’s confusion

Wastrels of reason allowing only bleak strands of narrative that fail in their design

Attempting to describe everything revealing nothing

Last night the Mascara Snake entered my dreams through the twisted ribbon of his smile

He opened his suitcase of wounded pride and personal wilderness

His eyes were a mute articulation of the world’s unfathomable sorrow

He led me down by gentle steps into their blue shimmering depths

Where broken flowers fade in forgotten churchyards beneath the clouds’ steel grey silence

Where headstones lay down their time cracked histories into the death fed grass

Where love’s first flowering of tenderness and desire is worn by time to a distinction of dreams held silent in a mutual antipathy

Where the heart song luminescence of innocence is darkened by inevitable experience

Becomes the song barely remembered

The song exhausted

The song unsung

The blue shimmering depths where a parchment dry kiss and a brutally turned shoulder was his final goodbye

Still as the breath drawn moment before first creation I knew the eternal stranger’s depth of sorrows

The intimate realisation of another’s pain

Its breadth of vision that shamed the sky

And so the roses wept and the rainbow wept and the stars wept and the moon wept

The horizon a blur of smudged mascara

Even the dogs were weeping

Dragging their sadness through the shadow of the Mascara Snake’s departing smile

Its cold infusion of lies and tender regrets

Such moments

Lost in time

Drifts of ghost static from dead radios

A terminal distortion of barely remembered voices

Tears in rain carrying me into an impossible purity of silence

Within memory’s tragic insistence he finger dipped the crumpled ruin of his nowhere hat and acknowledged the limits of his nowhere vision

Yet the light that danced quicksilver in his eyes suggested a contrary path of possibilities

Dominions as yet undiscovered in the dreaming heart

A whisper of kingdoms and their unrealised glories held in the almost curve of his almost smile

It is here that he lowered his head as if in obedience to an unseen yet immense burden

It is here that he plucked with infinite tenderness a sleepy tune from the worn nylon strings and scalloped neck of his blue guitar

Singing so gently that even the wind failed to hear

He sang of arts and wonders

Of mercy and memory

Of weariness and regret

The heart deep secrets of dreams undreamt and songs unsung

As the final note slid into the silent cat prowled darkness so he turned on his glowing heels and with a shrug that dwarfed the ages hunched his shoulders and wandered on those silver heels into the legend of his own creation

The last thing the wind remembered

***

Night has developed its usual signature

A dreary weight of rain tumbling from a starless sky

Carried on a moon driven tide to this room of trembling light

There is the distant whisper of thunder

The low pitched growl of dogs on the distant horizon

Milk pale sheets of lighting that barely register their presence

A momentary gleam

The vaguest of disturbances in the corner of the eye

It is as if the elements themselves are in a state of utter exhaustion

Shivering shadows play worn out scenes across the wall as the wind crawls in on broken intentions

The clock’s hands are frozen and in the timeless moment the Mascara Snake’s absence is all engulfing

All that is known of the world

An absence that darkens the barely healed scar across my heart

Waiting upon a warmth of memories to carry me away from this realm of sorrows and loneliness

Dreaming to be delivered of another world and another time

Another world Another time

A hesitant birthing that will deliver me of home as the vision most purely distilled

But that which forms is mere outline

A tentative tracing of dreams and fears in shifting patterns of dust

My fingers raise a trembling steeple and the reverential opacity of church Sunday silence is almost known

A summer fresh stillness of deep shadows

Greenwood and rolling down gathered within the pealing bells Almost known

Birdsong’s heat exhausted flight and the hymnal’s opiate soporific

Almost known

The sun sparkling river a benign serpent

Its rippling glints of star fallen silver shaping the hills and valleys

Almost known

Puffball clouds in idle procession across a sky’s impossible blue

Almost known

Yet in the almost there is no sanctuary

No consolation

The vision corrupted within its anaemic fragility

Fingers crack dry skinned

The steeple beyond sustaining tumbles down into a disorder of brick and timber and blinding dust that in its clearing reveals a sign crudely painted ‘THIS IS A LIE’

I am pinned again to the timeless moment of faces swirling within a shifting delirium of light and shadow

Of failed flames become a drift of ashes

Teeth held smiles are the gleam of insincerity

Their eyes hold only the wilderness howl of ever winter

A denial of life

Language alone remains

Yet each word shaped and clumsily gathered to its sheltering fold within the borders of the page is a razorblade’s stinging kiss

Out of nothing remembered

The silver smile of cure all comfort

Within the diminishing spiral of solitude a fury thrown bottle shatters the moon across cold stones

A mockery of laughter rises from the mirror’s depths

There is the corrosive stench of burnt feathers as birds plummet like stones from the painted night

Claimed within the tidal drift and swoon of the endless burning sands

The moon gathers itself within a cloak of fire

Time here is on an eternal loop

Memories and hallucinations

Dreams and fears

All is endlessly hopelessly recycled

Delivering me finally of the numbing realisation that I in both flesh and reflection am my own truest deception

These words

Written in water

Mirror’s tumble at my finger’s clumsy touch

Shattered glass opening further paths to hopeless wanderings across a world without end

Feet to trace paths like broken veins in the sand steeped silence beneath banks of tumbling stars

A moon of glaring malevolence held in the jaundiced eyes of skinny ribbed jackals who skulk low of belly and greasy of muzzle at the limit of the fire’s influence

In a confusion of dreams and fears I scribble across the taunting blank of the page

I hang such prayers as seem appropriate upon the wire’s curse of thorns

A studied placing as if following the design of some arcane ritual

Sacrifices to gods unknown

Why should it be that I am then stunned when they are ripped apart in a screaming fury of feathers and flashing beaks

A malice of eyes nightmare bred and birthed beyond midnight

I am left cowering naked within my own shadow

Tender as the mucus dripping newborn quivering through its first moments of mewling realisation

Bitter truths sourly spat from a scouring tongue

I tunnel obsessively the failing interior

Erecting feeble breastworks against the damning tides that rise with the moon and ride with the wind

I tunnel obsessively the failing interior

Defeated within the ever reconfiguring weave of language

Such words as attain appointment impermanent as the drifting sands

Failed expressions first shaped by the mirror’s reflection

Emaciated monuments to an unappeasable hunger

Myself the ghost spiralling in winter silence

Myself the ghost

Myself

***

AND THE 3rd THING THE MASCARA SNAKE SAID WAS… (In a swoon of purple rain I enter stage right Steam rises from the burning sands at my feet Trembling ghosts of memory The creatures of forgotten sorrow seeking the mercy of his shadow I shift with the breezes My moods intemperate and wandering My eyes have the look of permanent vacation My nights are a blue murmur My deep hollow breathing of the midnight dream Of spectral pianos played by ghost children in lost canyons of indescribable sorrow The rattle of failed dreams along derelict alleyways The terrible beauty of collapsing stars Bluff and bluster fall away as I run my finger the spine of a perpetual doubt Chuckling my insane reflection in the mirror minus teeth The song in my head is a bruised flowering of regrets A ruptured accordion wheezes its last as I sow the dream to reap the fear Tearing the veil from desire Revealing only deception My fingers of glass caress a final dignity from my blue guitar I whistle a loneliness that shatters mountains I call the moon to dance then vanish into a whisper Leaving only the cry) …“HOLD ME HOLD ME LIKE IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD”

***

Within the slow turning of the rumouring mill

Wherein grind the sighing bones of Chinese whispers and hearsay   
The tongue delighting twists of tittle tattle and blather   
Where nineteen to the dozen is the confounding standard   
It is said that the Mascara Snake defeated death from the other side of the grave   
His song to the new day rising echoes through the Zen arcade   
Carries a note of expectation and urgency   
Shadowed by a memory of vacillation and decline   
Of a clock’s ticking soft ever softer towards a time deep stillness   
His song the silence of midnight snow settled to a chilling caress across the dreamer’s trembling eyelids   
A drift of sorrows bruise blue across the lover’s heart   
Hungering ghosts pay spectral witness to childhood fears of the extinguished light   
Of that under bed other world where tormented oceans raise steeples of spray   
Where wind driven sheets of spume stain the blanket’s hem   
Barely realised yet intimately known shadow dripping forms ascend from the trembling depths   
Those monsters of darkest self creation   
Breaking the surface in a frenzy of snapping locomotive jaws   
Gaping maws of purest terror and impure intent   
Hunger the flame that burns in the blood red beads of their eyes        
Screaming horses anoint the peaks of the waves   
Chasing with the wind that carries me in exhaustion to the unknown shore where the Mascara Snake and the eternal stranger sit in hushed mutuality at the shattered base of a salt corroded monument   
The Mascara Snake’s eyes are the sky softly shimmering in their delighted glimmer of something uniquely beyond   
In their cloudless horizon spanning immensity a vague memory trembles into being       
Barely formed within its fearful shell 
Neon illuminated hallways are a mercury dreaming   
Tentatively hatched supplicants gather within the cloak of their blindness   
An ancient beauty is carved by whispers into stone   
Forming prayers by softest moonlight and the fall of shadow   
The remembered kiss of final farewell   
Something half overheard   
Some throwaway utterance that refused to stay thrown   
My mind drifts    
Is a dazed murmur of confusions and contradictions  
Struggles to locate points of reference as it wanders within the dawn’s luminous mist that anoints the distant peaks of the unnamed mountains   
The Mascara Snake shimmers into sinuous being   
Attended by the silence of the eternal stranger his is a breathtaking sensuality   
An invitation to experience that innocence cannot decline   
He is muttering incantations over blue flames   
Shaping by his words the sawdust smoke that rise in perfect circles   
A bottle held within the white knuckled fastness of his fist   
An unnameable dread held in the timeless dimension of his smile   
Stars are captured in the roiling depths of his eyes as he balances the moon’s honey dripping sickle on his tongue   
Desire is the ache of a bone chilling fever that runs in rivers of sweat across my trembling flesh   
That bursts in waves across my eyes like newly birthed suns   
His kiss a terrible beauty   
His kiss that leaves only the black to blue to purple to yellow of a fading bruise   
A frozen hand clutches my heart as the Mascara Snake’s gut deep laughter tilts the balance  of universes yet born   
He rises from the fire shedding first his purple cloak of mystery and imagination and then his skin of immeasurable sorrows   
Tipping to the wind his hat of wonders   

Assuming a mask of impossible sobriety he giggles through the petroleum smear of his smile          
Swallowed by the smoke he dreams into being the glowing entrails of ghosts   
The writhing shadow forms of mythic serpents   
He worries a rainbow into monochrome collapse   
His butterfly mind gathering the torments of spectral storms   
Where the memories of forgotten sailors ride with the horses across the sea’s green foaming crests   
With a magician’s flourish he vanishes   
Stepping into absence between the raindrops that hiss in the fire’s smouldering orange heart   
Lightning flashes through thunder’s cracks 
The rain softened stars falling in liquid reflection across the cracked mirror   
I settle like ashes into a comfort of weariness   
Accepting the days as being little more than a game of chance  
Random notes from a scattered orchestra   
The clatter of dice tumbling eternally through bone dry canyons   
The cards facedown will sing the song of their choosing   
Held in arid suspense I sense that I am halted at the edge of discovery   
This other world of no name   
Where the dream is the fear is the dream   
Timeless repetitions within a weave that is spun at the tips of the Mascara Snake’s luminous fingers  
And at the quiet heart of his creation the cure all comfort of erasure   
The balm of utter oblivion   
Of tender annihilation   
The fire is now dead within its scorched hollow   
As the darkness gradually diminishes the unnamed mountains are a charcoal sketch     
Smudged outlines slowly attaining their monumental security   
The sun sits beneath the horizon   
The faintest blush telling of its desire for bloodied birth   
Its tentative roseate glow is captured and held within the cracked mirror   
At the fall of my shadow the mirror darkness into temporary blindness   
My hands rise through a gathering static   
Tenderly cupped before the wreckage of my sleep hungering eyes   

Gently nurturing memories stolen from a dead child’s dreams

***

Here is unending night

The interior darkness   
Here is the deadening weight of closedown   
Of mind lock and the terminal moment   
The assassin’s eye unblinking at the instant of his victim’s fall   
The long dreamt consummation of a purest desire   
Rain is a black sheet that drowns the unnamed mountains   
It pours from the granite immensities in waves of ever mounting fury   
Consuming everything in its foaming wrathful path             
Here the Mascara Snake is known only by the terror and sorrow of his absence  
The memory of his forms 
Their constant shifting between dimensions  
Dazzling in their multiplicity   
Ricocheting blurs in a hall of mirrors   
Yet centred always about a still centre   
A beguiling calm and his imponderable smile   
It is here   
In the gleaming unquantifiable   
That language fails   
Lines and curves create only an unsteady scaffold ever teetering at the point of collapse   
Here language is the redundant witness   
The teacup’s storm settled to an unfathomable silence   
Yet still the heart churns with obstinate insistence   
The old plunger thudding through its hollow ritual of systole and diastole   
The twin concertinas of the lungs wheezing through their weary patterns of repetition   
Blood still seeks to rush and nerves to sing   
Eyes still to capture the days in all their glorious inconsequence of empty ceremony as each god raised is another god denied   
All this life 
That persists against reason
All this life   
That will counter no question 
All this life   
That will admit of no challenge to its constant state of becoming    
Absolute beyond denial in its blind intention   
The mind squirms upon the naked point of its own obsolescence   
Toils within the labyrinth of dreams and fears   
Struggles creaking through a constricting weave that is another’s creation   
Strives even at the maelstrom’s ferocious height to reconstruct the securities of a known world   
Lightning struck timbers are dragged smoking into the broken light
Such debris as we gather we raise without foundation on flooded sands   
A spectral monument to the conceit of humility   
Pride’s blighted canker   
I dwell feral within a dream’s distance of the unnamed mountains   
Probing with abstract consciousness the Mascara Snake’s annihilating shadow   
As if the half formed questions that burn with senseless fury behind my eyes should find answer in the expanse of his world devouring smile   
As if defining resolution could ever be commanded ranked and filed   
It is a weary dredging for wearier words   
A stark illustration of promises consumed within the flames of an obliterating fire   
Of dreams denied   
Of the futility inherent when thinking is set directly against thought   
The timeless moment insists only and ever of itself within the instant of its ever becoming   
The past is always when   
The future is always how   
The sun as if indifferent casts its brilliant net across the ancient stones and burning sands   
The clock’s hands are stopped within the Mascara Snake’s frigid embrace   
Beneath the glacial wilderness of his eyes his frost blue smile carries me to the edge of reason   
His laughter is bell sharp canyon deep and by its seismic reverberations I am plunged without preparation into sweat drenched nights of tempest dreaming    
Wandering blind midst the stars’ forbidding silence as he dips the moon with a craftsman’s delicacy into the blood red ocean   
Wandering blind unknown paths to never known destinations   
The train vanishing within its wreath of smoke and heart sorrowing whistle   
The song on my lips a song to remain forever unsung   
At the fall of his black silk handkerchief the empty box of my previous examination spills a stained strip of yellowing newsprint   
Its brittle banner informs ‘THIS IS A LIE’   
At the fall of his black silk handkerchief I am chasing the wind through rain slick alleyways   
Barely aware of the time torn poster   
Of the scarlet flowers bursting out of a litter of skulls   
I am chasing the memory of his laughter   
Seeking shelter from the big wave that threatens to engulf me within its glittering glistening death swell   
I am chasing my heart’s desire   
But when the weave is once broken there can be  no return to innocence   
The idyll of kings and beggars   
Of lovers and thieves   
Of philosophers and fools   
Is lost beneath the terminal shadow of experience   
A shadow that mirrors the interior darkness   
The mind is locked within a wearying cycle of unending night   
The assassin’s eye remains unblinking   
Merely shifts through degrees to scope another victim   
All that remains is the deadening weight   
The deadening weight of closedown
 
 
***
 
 

AND THE 4th THING THE MASCARA SNAKE SAID WAS… (The baggage of my eyes Dark weighted circles to shame the sun Their depth of illimitable loneliness Of world defining sorrows Of the distance existing between dreams and their realisation I ride shotgun the wilderness trail Slumped into time’s merciless passage I knows with devastating intimacy the sun hot blast of the desert wind Its cries and whispers of eternal desolation To the sound of a cracking whip mine is the shadow that swallows the day Mine the guttering flame of an exhausted memory The ragged thunder of collapsed mountains in my hands Lightning’s shock of illumination extinguished at the pinch of my fingers In the weeping hour of realised isolation the colossal rhythms of my heart follow the slow tidal drift of the moon that casts my flesh milk white luminescent Yet against all that I am their lays still a burden of suffering My nightmares a swirling agony of invocations to the goddess dream and the goddess fear At the turning of their shoulders I know the cliff edge reality of starkest despair The blue fragility of their fading songs baffles my ears even as they condemn my heart to a wilderness of frosts Vertigo driven my sleight of hand conjures a rainbow that can only crack the arch of time A petrified dream The eternal stranger with shrouded eyes I plunge depths of arcane desire Knowing only the pale tattered remnants of glory Raising in the immensity of my hands a shredded banner marking days long dead I am afraid) …“TELL ME YOU LOVE ME MAKE IT MORE REAL THAN A SONG”

***

I collapse into a storm tossed dream tumbled sleep

The Mascara Snake’s presence a gently probing insistence

He is a gathering of shadows out of my dreaming deeps

Rising out of the green silence where the songs of dead sailors are a plaintive haunting

He strides the shifting sands with seven league steps and daisy chains the clouds above the unnamed mountains

Plunges his fists into the their rain swollen bellies to release them of their burden then vanishes within the mirror reflected glints of his sky blue sky calm eyes

In the moment of his passing

That begins as a whisper

The murmur of soft water over gently rolling stones

I stumble to rise only to fall again in an agony of repetitions that in reflection are pratfalls across piss darkened sawdust

Choreography by way of banana skin and behind the hand sniggers

Following the spotlight to desperate yet unknowable ends

The world’s axis is brutally tilted and held within the seventh wave of a reeling nausea his passing becomes a seismic reverberation

The annihilating of mountains to wind scattered dust

The return of oceans to arid plains

The grinding agonies of glacial time impossibly realised in the blink of an eye

The body seeks a grace of dislocation from the seething restless morass of the mind Folding itself into sleep’s blessed ambiguity of angles

The sweat across my lips the taste of vanished oceans

The dust in my hands the memory of mountains

Within the creased darkness the Mascara Snake is the silent witness

The arch assassin who roams at will beneath the burning sky of my fevered visions

His hands a hallucinatory blur as they weave insidious his cat’s cradle realm of frosts and fire and forgetfulness

He is the ache of desire within my bones

The tender blush and the exhausted sigh

The glistening sheen of sickness across my skin where fire ants leave their scorching trails

He is the dazzling silver light of mercurial revelation

The ever hungering spectre at the eternal feast

The guests are a gathering of sorrows

Jilted brides and broken bridegrooms tending obsessively the frosted gardens of their hearts

Blind to the scarlet flowers bursting out of the jester’s skull as he conjures a rope of sand and shuffles his deck of sins

The Mascara Snake

Form without shape in an aching void

The mystery of mirrors in darkened rooms

With a surgeon’s precision he dissects the broken heart

Raises his song of arts and wonders to the moon and stars and plunges his blood soaked hands into the boiling ocean

Raising them cleansed to gleaming purity

Flicking from the ends of his fingers shimmers of mercury that are points of light in the distant hills that catch in the eyes of moon cowering coyotes

The stomach raw hunger of their howling gathered within the merciless tempest of his laughter that spirals out into the infinite night

Fragments revealed of dreams and fears

Of desire and its mirrored twin deception

Huddled into a tremor of greasy candlelight I understand with razor sharp clarity that there can be no safeguarding the mind’s fragile constructions against the shadow darkened cast of his eyes

The malevolent smear of his smile

The mind’s fragile constructions

That are raised on shifting sands

That are destined only to collapse helpless against his sleight of hand astonishments

When he shuffles his cards of fortune

Dealing face down an invitation to the unknown and the unnamed

The unknowable and the unnameable

The decks are marked to the design of his inscrutable inclinations

The crack of his knuckles is the pistol’s isolated report across a bone dry canyon

Is the snapping of tinder to raise a fire that will burn of echoes and hallucinations

Of abandoned rooms and broken phones

Of faded voices winding through lost gardens to silence

Of spectral trees and ashen roses

Of distant summers and chimes of laughter cracked into absence

Of sinister murmurs down sterile corridors of eye wounding light

Of the shuffling insane coiled tight within their spirals of suffering

The mirrors refusing their sorrow bleached complexions

The casting of their minds against the current of his cruelly beautiful ocean

A mirage shimmering across the burning sands

A mirage that is swallowed within the fall of his shadow

The touch of his hand

The brush of his lips

The rapier thrust of his laughter

Its grotesque subversion of harmony’s best intent

The saddest song rattling through the chambers of an empty heart

Drifting across a blood washed desert of illimitable regrets Holding the memory of sleep in my shadow weighted eyes

I gather the remnants of self from this awful dreaming

Seeking connections within a heap of broken images

Noting for sorrow that the moon is the colour of dirty snow

And the stars are the colour of dirty snow

And the fading night is the colour of dirty snow

And the hours are the colour of dirty snow

Such roads as I may imagine are wanderings out of nothing

Wanderings leading nowhere

Wanderings the colour of dirty snow

***

Unveiled the mirror holds still the curse of his eyes

Swirls of spite where blooded moons are risen from depthless oceans Huge in this night of sorrows and scribbles

Of memories and misdirection

Of dreams and fears

Snow silent I drift through the wounded streets of an unknown town

Crystal flowers of pale blue shiver through cracked concrete

Broken phones gather their mantles of dust in time abandoned rooms of terminal regret

By a cracked mirror’s cracked light the eternal stranger remembers grief’s awful intimacies

The bone deep shock of a breakage beyond repair

His memories a flickering reel

A montage of churchyards and iron frosted soil

Skeletal trees clawing the blue blaze of the sky

Crows hunched midst the white crowned grass

Shadows of the mourners who shuffle within the agonies of their sorrows

The reel changes and various failures slide into temporary focus

Desires drowned in the stinking bottle

The laughter of hated friends

The sick light of mornings steeped in delirium and tremors

The cure all comfort of the razorblade’s silver smile

The wounded silence of songs unsung

The shattered mirror and the blood dripping fist

The reel changes and a world is revealed of half light and swooping shadows

Revelations written in water by an unseen hand Revelations that tremble at an eager finger’s touch

Disturbed the surface ripples ever outwards

The abandoned dreams of broken dreamers drift to distant shores

Beyond the dunes of salt suffering of grasses temples are raised on burning sands

Their silent chambers are the heart’s desolation

Here the Mascara Snake is known only through his absence as bleary eyed I stare the walls until the walls stare back

Stare the darkness into another hopeless dawn

The sky still holds its scribble of stars

A fading signature out of dead time

The moon is but a remnant of the eternal stranger’s dream

Light creeps down the unknowable faces of the unnamed mountains

Luminescent tendrils that shape the desert’s gradual blushing into life that is no life

And it is by the sun’s rising to full and merciless glory that I return to the Mascara Snake as absence

My pen urgent across the page

My hand cramping in its struggle to tame the quicksilver rhythm of my thoughts

A rhythm in blind obedience to the Mascara Snake’s music of depthless mystery

Conjured out of wilderness at the caress of his fingers upon the worn nylon strings of his blue guitar

It is a music that dances luminous between the raindrops that fall to gather in silver pools of shivering reflection

Painting a world of arts and wonders

Painting a world of dreams and fears

Demanding that I partake of his vision

The glowing weave of the unbroken rainbow melting across my eager tongue

A heart deep hunger to taste his shimmering palette of delights

The summation of all possible desires

The moment outside of time when all seems possible

When nothing seems real

To know through acts of dreaming intimacy the pain of eternal regret

As memories continue to follow their uncertain paths

The bottle deep drunk striving to hold the moon in his trembling hands

I embrace each note that spirals from his blue guitar as if it were the last thing on earth

The only and the always

My eyes create this desperate charade

An act of abject denial against the heart chilling realisation that all here is beyond language’s means of expression

I write the unnamed mountains

I write the wind

I write the rain

I write the dust devils that are born of the desert’s furnace breath

I write

But within the ever shifting form of the Mascara Snake’s Shadow I fail to make known their elemental force

The scorching rain scours my eyes to bloodshot ruins

My pen in barren fury assaults the page but leaves only a wind faded murmur

The memory of dusk falling across a loved one’s eyes

The traces of her passing fading into lost time

Tongue tied within a gathering perplexity I clutch the departing hem of the Mascara Snake’s purple cloak of mystery and imagination

Threading my fingers to a Gordian knot through his ink dark transubstantiation

Seeking solace from the cold distance of the stars I tremble into a sleep of roughly gathered fragments that exhausts the hours for dreaming

That leaves on waking only a vague and shifting recollection of the terrible beauty that is the Mascara Snake’s song

That leaves on waking only the faintest memory of the desolation unique to the Mascara Snake’s eyes

***

AND THE 5th THING THE MASCARA SNAKE SAID WAS… (I whisper of a drifting highway lost and found within a shifting veil of pearl grey fog Where the stars’ incalculable mystery may be sifted through a blanket of dreams I am multiple variations on a constant theme Mercurial yet inevitable By the mirror’s reflection I cannot refuse the moon saucer depth of my eyes My side of the mouth smile that suggests incredible knowledge Mine is the promise of flesh naked across an altar of driftwood and ashes Mine the derelict’s swollen tongued curse wrapped in candy and faded glitter I throw another vision into what remain of the glowing embers The fire gasps and fingers of flame expand until the world itself is held within a glowing immensity My laughter is the rattle of dry leaves against a time smudged mirror The shuffle of ancient playing cards through sun punished fingers I tip my hat and hurl my shadow out into the inviolable darkness Lasso the peaks of the unnamed mountains Shaking them free from their chains of snow My eyes a casual revealing of the truths to be discovered at the rainbow’s end At my unspoken suggestion the sun falters at the horizon’s brink With a flick of my wrist and a knowingness of smile I conjure a varnish cracked piano and a yellow toothed accordion To their pained yet tender accompaniment I sing sweetly of smokestack skies painted with purple benedictions Of supplication mirroring suicide in the lost hours of the night’s dead reaches And so my song becomes the darkness out of which it was born The darkness that threatens to inhale the dawn Cupping the stone of serpents in my fallen hands I leap naked through a wilderness that shimmers to crumble its temporal borders The slippage of time is a jack o’ lantern singing the blues in the slipstream of my silver heels It is a puzzle forever unfolding its invitation to confusion and hurt As I speaks the scars across my wrists fade to white) …“HIS PROBLEM? HE WAS ALWAYS NAKED IN HIS EMOTIONS THAT WAS HIS PROBLEM”

***

The wind announces its arrival

Groaning like an old man’s bones through the teeth like shards of a broken window

A groan become the terminal whisper of a carcass lullaby

An old man’s death bed confession into the gathering darkness

Whispers to ruffle with shifting cadence the red mock velvet curtains

Their pristine weight time reduced to a diaphanous fragility

Candle flames bend to the wind’s invisible command

Throwing a mess of shadows that dance in abstract patterns across the walls

The bed huddles in a sheltered corner

Is a chaos of sheets and stale sweat

Where the creases hold only bruised memories

Phantoms of desire broken across moments of never realised pleasure

The burnt out sorrows of undreamt burlesque

Lying midst the ruin and desolation

Of lies and half truths

Bent out of shape as if knowing myself only by a fairground mirror’s warping reflection

The skull cracks painfully open

Scarlet fleshed flowers erupt through parched soil

The tearing of flesh as the angel’s back is cleaved to birth his promise of flight

The rainbow’s end is hungrily swallowed in a rapacious gulping of colours as dreams infuse the weave’s gleaming spectrum

Blanket grey the clouds are a gathering of doubts

Murmuring to undermine each thought and action

Their voices a swollen chorus of sorrows telling of arts and wonders

Their discordant nail on blackboard screech a revealing of dreams and fears

A gathering ecstatically shredded as light pours through its dazzling liquid diamond relief

Tasting beneath the viscous delights of his honey dripping tongue the Mascara Snake’s essential truths

The sweetest of fruits they dribble their iridescent juices my chin’s shining length

Sucking the pulp’s forbidden sensuality through a grin three miles wide my senses are astonished

Yet such experience

The astounding satiety

Must have an end

The fruit will fail

Sun soaked glories withered on the vine and the juices will dry to a cloying tackiness

The memory of our meeting shall always be shadowed with sadness

Cloaked in the sorrow of songs never to be sung

The heart of darkness that is the far reaches of his continent spanning shadow remains forever unexplored

Signposts raised along roads to nowhere are crudely stamped ‘THIS IS A LIE’

Each tumbled moment of time an act of deception and misdirection

I thought to claim his dreams as my own

To know his darkness with the intimacy of the surgeon’s blade at the moment of incision

The beautiful wound

The flowering out of skulls across a sun cursed wilderness

To divine their mystery and raise a monument to his rapturous vision

A testament carved into the bones of the wilderness that would outlast the ages

That would cause later travellers to look upon my works and tremble

In my mirror fed vanity I thought to juggle the undiscovered countries I sensed within the laughing promise of his eyes and his words did nothing to deny

Stripped now of all illusion I am revealed as no more than a moment’s distraction

A mere pause within his endless act of creation

His jack in the box frenzy of constant becoming

A throwaway line carelessly thrown

A broken stringed puppet jerking gracelessly to the incantatory dance of his liquid fingers as he shaped me to the ambiguities of his unvoiced vision

Shaped me to comfort his horizon spanning mood swings

His landscape of prickles and scowls

His grumbles and groans

His cries and whispers

Stripped of form

Devoid of self willed function

I am in thrall to his demands and declarations

Following the spectral abstractions of his wanderings

Handling with fondest affection his dreams and fears

The terrible beauty of desires hatched within the sugar spun wilderness of his skull

Knowing only the blooming of tender regrets

The heart shattering grief held within the silence of his song

The soft explosion of stars through forgotten hours

The abandoned moment

Timeless within the ever shifting cat’s cradle weave that is his cruel design

***

Waking last night into darkness

So complete as to deny even the dream of light

A darkness swarming with those terrors I believed the passage of time had banished to the furthest reaches of a distant shore

The blood pulsing phantasmagoria of primal memory securely contained within the confines of an aseptic room

As the darkness throbbed with sentient malice a suffocating presence entered the room and lay like death’s shadow across my chest

My breathing the squeeze and groan of a punctured accordion

A smothered struggle against a gathering tide

A gasping for air midst a rising hysteria

Returned

The overwhelming dread of childhood fears

Returned

The under bed fastness of ankle snapping demons

Returned

The malevolent murmurings of dire violation

Returned

The faceless furies awesome of appetite and eager to the feast

Returned

A multitude of whispering horrors spawned at that point of intersections where the extinguished light meets its defining opposite

Eyes plunge the brackish waters of the breeding pool where hatchling dreads invoke their arcane spells of iniquity

The jackal’s howl is a carcass lullaby

A heart stricken melody calling the moon to rise

The jaundiced curse of its eyes

The hungering growl and grumble from its famish stricken belly

Prowling to insidious intent the edges of sleep it waits upon the dreaming instant to strike

Its eyes become a rapacious gleam above the snarling slather of its jaws

All held within the Mascara Snake’s cat’s cradle weave of ever darkening visions

The awful emptiness of desolation that stills desire in the lover’s eyes

His shadow the terminal whisper shaping the outline of my name

Calling me to dance within the heart of his blue fire

Shaping my dreams to unknown ends

To a world suffering beneath the brutal weight of a timeless sun

To a world of endless skies and unnamed mountains

Their looming mass of crags and peaks

To a world of burning sands and scorching thirst

The mind’s spectral wanderings midst canyons of red rock

Seeking the mercy of their fabled shade

I conjure a rope of winds as if to bind the distant traces of memory

Threads no more substantial than tendrils of smoke weaving a world of sorrows through my fingers

The mirror falls

Is final helpless witness to its own shattering end

Scrabbling midst the chiming cataclysm of glinting shards reveals only the multiple mercurial perspectives of a withering self contempt

Forcing me by the blooded light of a low slung moon to confront the question that lays unspoken yet ever posed upon the Mascara Snake’s tongue

To what purpose do I desire those ancient securities of hearth and home

Of shuttered window and locked door

Of what value is a past that is so easily undermined by the barest touch of his breath upon my fevered skin

A caress that drives me to anoint with feathered tongue the eternal moment of his blessing

To lay fallen stars in the traces of his passing

That I may extend this darkest dreaming and so enter the unknown dimensions of his inviolable vision

To know his song in my blood with the ferocious urgency and intimacy of a newborn’s hungering mouth as it fastens at the life sustaining nipple

To know his song even as the futility of such a desire is realised by the shock of my sleepless eyes in the unforgiving mirror

My hands locked in prayer around a cold flame

The ache of dead time within my bones

A sheen of chilling sweat blooming in poison reverie across my flesh

Its signature blossom of a fresher sickness written in his serpentine hand

And yet I strain to the snapping of tendon and sinew to hold and conjure

To create this world as if the Mascara Snake were malleable to my fever driven desires

As if by a wishbone’s dry snapping all clocks could be stopped and the timeless moment be of my making

Instead to fall away in the ragged hour of dawn when ghosts fade within their blue grey murmurs

When the shapes and songs of the known world gather within themselves their singular moments of becoming

The horizon cracks to allow the sun its temporary dominion

The bleeding light is the faceless stranger dancing a subtle invitation across the walls

My eyes are torn open

The screeching of rust locked doors drawn back to reveal only endless corridors of lost time

The dream dies and all that remains is the fear

I tumble void of volition

Blind and naked

Newborn and squealing into the Mascara Snake’s eyes of time shaping blue

Their limitless oceans chasing with the wind beneath limitless skies

Knowing for the eternal moment the magnificent chaos of his vision

His tombstone smile of awful yet beguiling revelation

I scrabble torn of finger and scrapped of knee midst the dust washed rubble of these unknowable days

His song of songs the faintest of touches across my skin

His absence a bruise across my heart

A bruise slowly fading until only the memory remains

***

AND THE 6th THING THE MASCARA SNAKE SAID WAS… (Tasting again the beautiful wound of my smile Its succulent ripeness and tenderness of sweetest sorrows that reduces me to little more than rubble and ashes A heaped accumulation of redundancies Open to the wonder of my shaping hands I am the maker of weathers Orchestrating the clash of thunders The dazzle of lightning I call the rains and the desert explodes in a riot of colours A rainbow’s weave of flora that strains upwards as if to paint the clearing sky I collapse into the shadowplay death rattle yukka yukka yukka of laughter With fingers of scorching light I probe the driftwood ruins of my wilderness emotions Fingers that still glow with the gore and glory of other more distant battles I am the maker of weathers and hum a dream of blue sunshine Plucking with brow furrowing intensity a mandolin constructed from spent matches and an asses jawbone I listen to the patient litany of the undreamt world’s trials They are the whispered hush of oceans through impossible ages of time A piano’s slow drift of notes through spectral canyons I caress the silence with a colossal tenderness and vanish deep into the inviolable depths of my beautiful disguise Stitching with heart breaking delicacy the wound of my regrets so I may sleep undisturbed Levelling the chaos inherent to the visions I conjure Each staccato becoming of my impossible beauty a strobe light insistence that dazzles the stars and blinds the sun I spread wide my ineffable shadow of purple folds and evensong Of mystery and imagination I bathe my burning heart in the ocean’s cold and lightless depths Yet each fever thus chilled is but the smallest of deaths I am the maker of weathers and gather clouds at my shoulders as I fall again the aching void The beautiful wound of my world consuming smile) …“WHEN THE WIND CHANGES DIRECTION I BELIEVE ALL HEARTS WILL STOP”

***

Like some ancient planet swallowing sun

Expanding outwards towards extinction the Mascara Snake has become all there is of the world

He is the beginning and end of all things

The breath born mewl of the infant snatched into wounding light

The final exhausted rattle of futile protest as eyelids fall and colours fade

He sits in my memory as if he were the entirety of my past life

He sits in my dreams as if he were the only possibility for all futures

He is the now and forever

The unsullied days of once upon a time gleaming in the eyes of innocence

He is those same days dimmed to sorrow

Claimed by experience’s constricting weave

He is the straining gut of perpetual feat when even the greasy muzzled dogs of over the shoulder scraps are sated

Snoring midst their mess of leftovers and leavings

He is famine’s signature of death that is the rib cage straining through translucent flesh

Eyes that are dead moons

Lifeless blanks within ever deepening sockets

Roaming the wilderness outside and inside of time he probes with a watchmaker’s delicacy of devotion the secrets of clocks Unstitching the stars from their velvet bed until nothing remains save the moons of his eyes

Hunter brilliant through the dreaming hours when I finger the terrible beauty of his scarlet wounds

Tending with utter devotion their dread sanctity

Anointing each slash of spear with vinegar’s sharp and stinging pungency

The mercury flash of my needle drawing to a close each gaping wound

Dream stitching through the endless song of his night until

As if cast down from glory

Banished from the tenderness of his shadow

I rise from the ink dark deeps and am reduced to senseless fragments

Shored helpless against collapse and ruin

Yet the scent of him remains

A honeyed aroma on the breeze

His beautiful wound of revelation warm upon my tongue

I rise from the ink dark deeps to know the bleak truth of his absence

The intimate sorrow of abandonment

The heart deep ache that is the desolation of desertion

That moment of the carriage door’s terminal closure

The shoulder turned cold against my desire

Forcing me to confront again the child waking into wide eyed astonishment

Weeping from the depths of his dreams and fears

His room darkened to a shadowland of seething shapes and sibilant whispers

He reaches into the unknown that he may find the sanctuary of his parents

Their security of undisturbed breathing

He reaches into the unknown but returns only the absolute horror of emptiness

A stomach churning silence

And so the darkness continues to seethe with creatures of vile intent

The unseen corners writhe with ultimate dread

The under bed snuffling chasing down my scent

The gnashing of razor teeth

The light of lost suns burning in eyes of timeless malevolence

The Mascara Snake is the dream that sings in my heart

Ancient songs forged upon the cracked anvil at the dead centre of time that is no time

Without even the faintest blemish of shame I gather to kiss the ragged hem of nightmare

I challenge the wolf that devours the moon in its hairy fist

Anything to sleep at his feet

Curled tight within his shadow

To feel the swooning tenderness of his breath upon my skin

He is the glorious horror of ultimate addiction

An addiction gratefully attained and obsessively nurtured

An addiction beyond denial

His is the glowing pulse

The delirious sickness

The agonizing ecstasy

His the endless moment of absolute need that I swallow in gulping stomach deep draughts until the divine instant of the world’s whimpering end

Yet in substance he is more than a rope of wind

A castle made of burning sand

A fleeting reflection in a fading mirror

A guttering flame known only by the pale cast of its shadow

I am left staring at the sky

At the wind in the clouds chasing oblivion

Deciphering the paranoid image

The camel

The weasel

The whale

Knowing the moon as solitary witness to my hopeless and helpless wanderings

Knowing the moon as nothing save dead rock and barren oceans

Dusts of time and seismic scarring

Uninvited reason stamps a heavy boot of absolute insistence

Its spine straight stance challenging this realm of ambiguities and unknowns

Dragging my eyes to the signpost tilting in the crow worried soil

The signpost fiercely branded ‘THIS IS A LIE’

Uninvited reason stamps a heavy boot of absolute insistence

Determined that I should abandon this kingdom of mirrors and illusion

This shape shifting empire of the senseless

These days of desolation grinding through endless repetition

Here shadows are nameless memories that walk between the raindrops and leave only a spillage of sorrows in their ceaseless wake

The boot stamps again and the mirror quakes

Eyes I know but refuse to name shiver into focus

Directing me homewards to sit in sunless rooms and smoke bitter ashes with hated friends

Draping mirrors with black silk in the cloistered silence

Home

Where the clock’s hands shall unpick time’s ordered weave

Home

Where the days shall tend us ever towards nothingness

Home

To sit in drunken stupor and stir with laboured disinterest the congealed surface of our once potent dreams and fears

To fade into nights where memories are bleached of colour and stripped of meaning

Lost moments we can no longer describe in time

Lost moments never to be reclaimed

***

Hunger is the all consuming motif

A ravening emptiness that I fear may never be sated

I dream tables straining beneath an obscene cornucopia of saliva inspiring tongue dripping delights

My mind swarms with gut gorging platters that will never have an end

My chin slathered in a gleaming richness of juices to blind the sun

My stomach swollen to shame the moon

But on waking all that remains is the bloat of language

Ridiculous overblown and failed

Such dishes as dreamt are no more than dust

Succulent wonders a scattering of ashes across the parched and cracked ruin of my tongue

Such dreams

Forcing me to confront on the shifting ground of his choosing the Mascara Snake’s ceaseless acts of becoming

Such dreams

Leaving in their foaming wake only bone deep nerve shredding exhaustion

Such dreams

Leaving only words falling senseless from my pen

Words no more than hopeless scribbles across the gnawing void of his absence

Words that pin my insignificance to the burning sands as surely as the net caught butterfly is pinned upon its velvet cushion

Locked behind the shine of polished glass

Here my glass is a sky ever bluer

Ever vaster

The desert endless to all points of the compass

The horizon bleeds

Stained glass melting

Shimmers across my sun scarred vision

In breathless expectation I follow the shapes of an unknown charade

Starless nights wandering blind of purpose

Unknowing of destination

Sugar coating the bitter pill of his absence with flickers drawn from memory’s trembling weave

Home is the welcoming heart

The tender exhaustion of the day marked by the soft light of dusk

Shadows easing into darkness

Home is the welcoming heart

The security of time the clock on the mantle that carries us through the days with ordered grace

Home is the welcoming heart

The peal of bells across a Sunday still silence

Such memories are mere threads laid across the silence in weary repetition

Paling in the punishing light that burns ever harsher

My eyes aching against its white immensity

Day dies into night as night births day

My fingers crack and bleed in attempting to unfold the Mascara Snake’s myriad mysteries and dark enchantments

His arts and wonders

Unknown keys to unknowable doors

Whispers arrive on a stolen wind suggesting that as a child he plunged his depthless interior and painted his soul with a rainbow’s luminous weave

That he harvested the stars in ghost nets of his own creation

The moon a blue vastness beyond dimension settled upon his tongue

Dreaming his world into being

Dreaming himself as the beginning and end of all things

I struggle to order these revelations

These abominations against reason

They are mercury suspended in a mirror’s reflection

Extraordinary in their nature of constant becoming

His ingenuity of ambiguities

Knowledge is the ink drying to fade upon the page

Vanishing into dead time

Truth the butterfly that refuses the pin

Spilling its luminescence of colours across the sun throbbing day

There can be no amber fixed permanency

No point of stillness within the swirling multiplicity of his being

The Mascara Snake’s feast is ever moving

An ocean’s seething mass

Endless in its repetitions of ebb and flow

Carrying forever its tidal burden of sorrows

Is the shifting paranoiac images of cloud shadows wind driven across an infinite plain Where the ghosts of the fallen buffalo mass in soft thunder

The moon swells at the sweep of his dream commanding fingers and I crumple the ruin of another wasted page

Hunched penitential over the candle’s diminishing tremor I scowl the pen’s detested length and with a fool’s intentness of purpose scratch my name into silence

Waiting upon the dawn

Waiting upon the hiss and moan and mournful whistle of a ghost train riding its pale fire into the senseless complexities of the day accompanied by a swirl of whispers on a stolen wind

Their melancholy chorus gently stirring the river of dreams and fears

Despondent murmurs catch in the overhanging branches of the spectral trees

Despondent murmurs suggesting that finally he painted no more

***

AND THE 7th THING THE MASCARA SNAKE SAID WAS… (I tumble my dice of yellowed bone Spit a moon of dreams into the wisdom gutter and anoint the night with obscenities and prayers With arts and wonders With dreams and fears The soft benediction of my tongue feathers the night Probing with lascivious delight the flickering moments of vision In the looming presence of my shadow I am a gathering of quivering uncertainties Questions hatch tentatively A child’s fearful fingers exploring the unknown darkness of nook and cranny and secret sorrows Do I tread eggshells? Razor blades? Broken glass? Rainbows? My voice is the seismic reverberation of tectonic plates in slow grinding collision As I shuffle my deck of faceless cards so the wind roars down from the unnamed mountains A keening blade that slices through to the bone I predict that a cat’s eyes at midnight full moon will remain the ultimate mystery I tell of a rain that reduces dogs to cowards whimpering within their own shadows I drop a crooked penny into the candyfloss neon jukebox releasing a music that is hard and low and mean I unveil a wilderness in the blue immensity of my eyes Cocking a glass pistol that will shatter the sun Unfurling the terrible banner of my tongue I taste the world’s waste of shattered bones and broken dreams Abandoned tenements glow in the half light of abject poverty like so many crooked teeth Tombstone green with time The dice tumble through the dry canyon A pistol’s crack Death echoes and echoes death With elongated fingers I paint my face petroleum blue The shimmering glance of my eyes pins the moment to the glowing screen until at the glacial descent of my eyelids the glow fades It is here in the compass denying grey undone that I must pronounce sentence on the world’s wound I am ever open and ever revealing but all remains inscrutable and the Chinese vase trembles perpetually within its awesome stillness Somewhere the dice settle Somewhere the numbers are called Further questions balance on my tongue at the tipping point of almost expression) …“OUTSIDE OF MEMORY THERE IS NOTHING LEFT”

***

Dreams are sanctuary

Safe release from the turmoil of the days

The Mascara Snake’s insane propositions

His delight in suffering

His suffering in delight

The gibbering shadows that dance their insane steps across the burning sands

Dreams are sanctuary and I cling to their dark comfort even as the sun creeps beneath my eyelids forcing my mind to shake itself through slow degrees of awareness

Like a dog caught in a sudden rain I rise wraith like into the dawn’s blue drift

I cast the blooded wrecks of my eyes across a tumble of bottles

A litter of papers tainted with a barely legible scrawl

Adjusting my sleep heavy eyes to the idiocy of my proclamations I note that each page is headed ‘THIS IS A LIE’

My hands ever stranger objects of distance and dislocation shake with the broken stringed tremors of half remembered delirium

My body is still weighted with sleep as coffee scalds a crust thickened tongue and cigarettes settle the indistinct outline

Shaping the spectral self to something almost known

A shadow born smear held in the mirror’s unforgiving eye

Its unyielding gaze a mockery of hopeful focus

Last night returns within the shifting patterns of darkness

The silent swoop of terror’s wings out of a moonless sky

The ground beneath my feet shudders and I am caught within a swaying seasickness swoon

Squirming on the dazzling point of the Mascara Snake’s tongue

Held within the glow of its animate fire

Wriggling helpless as the hooked worm in the depthless wonder of his eyes

The timeless space where all worlds are hatched and all dreams are realised

Quicksilver in their passing

Where desire births only fears and terminal sorrow

Where the song remains ever unsung and the eternal stranger wanders faceless within the mirror’s masquerade

I return to the day’s uncertainties shadowed by the shuffling penitent whose name is known but never pronounced

Dawn’s light gathers strength

Pooling to a gradual flooding of the unnamed mountains’ sheer sides Within this realm of distortions I step beyond myself to the length of an unknown corridor

Faceless strangers drift timeless and silent

Held within the undefined limits of their mercurial passions

I wander through sterile light midst a carnage of visions

A slow motion train wreck that unfolds with awful deliberation

Carriages spilling their cargo of screams and horrors down winter bleak embankments

The tarmac scarring slaughter of a highway locked in a blindness of midnight fog

The screech of tortured rubber and the shrieks of the unseen suffering

It is irresistible to behold even as the taste of blood taints the air and the stench of charred metal and flesh become the scents that we carry down into future dreams

***

Trust is the porcelain heart

Cast without care across cold concrete

Irrevocably broken

Trust is the failed flame

Confidence collapsed into the sighing ashes of the exhausted fire

A memory cracks open to reveal by stolen light

Kisses at lost midnights when desire refused to be dampened by ugly squalls of rain

Snow softly falling across a loved one’s streetlamp shadowed smile

A window gleams

Its beacon of yellow warmth thrown across winter lost fields

Guiding us home across their unbroken silence to a time locked capsule of dream long nights and day long dreams

But these are merely stale fragments from a shattered vision

A heap of broken images that refuse connection

As the cracks seal so I am left to tend the scar

To stare the walls until the walls stare back

Hearing only the Mascara Snake’s weave of incomprehensible utterances

His words are thorns of fire piercing my unclean flesh through to the scarlet chambers of the hungering heart

This desire to capture the reflections and ambiguities of my passage through this land of dream and fears is perhaps a desire too far

Yet perhaps glory

If such it may be judged

Is attained in the attempt itself

Or are these words merely stillborn artefacts out of time and out of place

My pen remains clamped within the hopeless fury of my fist

Its passage across the page a series of ugly spasms blindly directed

Tending now and ever towards failure’s wretched stench of spoiled fruit

Its scratching through the silence of the Mascara Snake’s absence a crippled jabbering

A dead end junk trail of gibberish

A scrawl of signposts pointing to nothing born of nowhere

Crumpled pages litter the floor and my thoughts tend towards the raging furnace heart of a newly kindled fire

Its flames consuming my idiot narrative in a roaring hunger

These lunatic signs

These imbecile signifiers

I am gathered in the arms of a carcass lullaby

Following its twisted melody to discover its viral contagion of dreams and fears

Hysteria is the state of being achieved by living through another’s memories

Drifting void of thought midst the shifting dunes

The burning sands flowing like time through my fingers

The wind is a multitude of voices

A babble of imprecations and swirling horrors

The unnamed mountains are a brooding presence

Dark ever darkening beneath the nesting clouds

Days I no longer remember failing in the eyes of a reflection I can no longer name

This tumble of sentences the paradox inherent to an ordered senselessness Words

Always words

Suggestive only of themselves

Never the more that needs to be said

Never the more that needs to be known

Promises made into the mirror’s open face are promises that can never be realised

I have become the amanuensis to an inexhaustible murmur that somehow exists outside the stultifying confines of language

A murmur demanding of trust yet delivering only betrayal

I am trapped within an ever repeating spiral of now going nowhere

Out of a pitch black silence a scuffle of voices gradually emerges

Shaping themselves through sibilant contortions to a disdainful chorus

Sneering a refrain hatched behind the wilderness eyes of the bilingual eagle

“FAILING BETTER FAILING BEST FAILING BETTER FAILING BEST”

Within the looped insanity of the timeless moment the Mascara Snake’s laughter is belly deep

Rumbling waves

Darkly joyous

Within the quaking depths of his shadow I pummel my useless fists to bloody rags against the dull full stop that will not cease

Not cease

Not cease

Until

***

AND THE 8th THING THE MASCARA SNAKE SAID WAS… (Mine is a one way dreaming Glitter ball reflections of worlds as yet unknown Within my hall of mirrors I dream the eternal stranger wandering blind somewhere deep within the grey undone That shadow land of sighs and whispers The bones of long dead children lay bleached across the burning sands Their runic mystery the coins that jangle in the lost depths of my scarlet sack My nights are shimmering liquid visions A weave of rainbows within the bitter sweetness of my constant becoming I squeeze the memory of a song from the accordion’s collapsed lungs And now the music changes Tender lullabies become the ravening wolf ripping the throat from the newborn lamb The blood and gore of its entrails signs to new dimensions I hunker down with the taste of oblivion rising from the bilious pit of my stomach Rising from the image that I capture of myself in a killing machine made of tin foil and wishes held within the death wish moment of my hand’s embrace I glow The blue mystery of my eyes a spectral luminescence Beyond the circle of the fire’s light there is only the ineffable darkness Strangers sob into prayer locked fists when I temporarily fade from view My song of groans and bleak remembrance held in the trembling tongues of fire Held only to slip away Lost to the desolation and decline that will carry me into a restless sweat smeared slip I will rise with the discordant moon of my dreams Challenging the audacity of my presumption Holding in my throat the laugh that condemns me to know only the limits that I allow Judging myself no more than a shadow soon to fade Now the music changes I nod a solemn head Twist a rope of sand around my fist and say farewell with the saddest of all smiles My vanishing point at this moment in time beyond comprehension Now the music ends) …“REGRET? REGRET IS THE END”

***

The sky glows with the memory of distant fires

The sun is a diminishing presence

Shrinking in both form and effect

The temperature tumbles and my breath frosts the air

Names out of memory take shape and hang suspended in glacial purity

Momentary comforts soon to fade

Immense furies gather in a swelling roar above the unnamed mountains

Elemental angers astonishing the birds that are stunned from the sky in a plummeting rain of feather and beak and beaded eye

The clouds boil and seethe

Barely contained of their dark energies that they would unleash through tornado and tempest

Thunder is a gradual gathering of ill intentioned grumbles

Belly deep and ageless

Lightning’s playful expression across incandescent sheets soon to fork and strike with electric malevolence

The imagined solidity of the world beneath my feet trembles at such fell purpose

Yet even as the clouds collapse mightily from within and release their drenching weight

Even as the pitiless deluge scars the earth to the accompaniment of a terrible percussion

Even as bones shake and teeth rattle in a seismic cacophony that suggests the chaos of the world’s ending

The heart song rises

The flowering of tender shadows

The gathering of gentlest sorrows

The seeking of connections within a heap of broken images

The gleaning of small truths to unknown purpose

The ghost of a ghost dreaming a ghost

And so we huddle into the comforting depths of our secret selves

Huddle tight around the memory of a vanished flame

Soft asylum against the night that breathes

Seething malevolence

The blood streaked wrecks of jaundiced eyes guide crooked fingers to pluck the stars from the sky

Dashed blind into the hungering mouth of the silver bucket

Allowing of a deeper darkness born before time

A bargain foolishly struck across the cracked anvil

Where teeth and talon prowl to dire intent

Muzzles low to the blood soaked earth

Seeking the scent of dreams and fears

Where in a feather soft swoop of wings all screams are silenced

We seek a semblance of consolation within the veiling smoke of the near exhausted fire

Shadows are bruise blue

Draining into the gutter of rain washed memories

Last night rises on trembling legs

Staggering seven leagues to settle in glowering silence above the unnamed mountains

Eyes of delirium quiver within the mirror’s uncertain reflection

The bottle’s song was an urgent invitation to darker arts and a corruption of wonders

An invitation to betrayal that I could not decline

The moon had followed its usual course

Its swollen wonder diminished in the harsh fumes that rose from the bottle’s broken neck

Yet in its ascent could be registered a slight reluctance

As if it were unwilling to witness the discordant clamour of mirthless belching

Weary of the dead end repetition

The hunched shoulder swallows pulling me down into a dream’s lucid deceptions Cloaking the bitter reality of the Mascara Snake’s absence in a hallucinatory weave

Drowning the unnamed mountains and burning sands in a twisted sweetness

As if such a clichéd disordering of the senses could return him to me whole and of honourable intention

Slumped cup deep I passed beyond the subconscious mind’s needling aggravations and slept cradled within the drunkard’s glow of temporary innocence

Sleep’s skin fell away and I woke into a bedlam of fractured light

Slumped across a heap of broken images

A pulsing mesh of half remembered faces

A gathering of names without connection

The mirror seeming to delight in my hangover scarred eyes sunk deep within sallow flesh

My head a wound of raw hostility and malevolent intensity

At the quaking edges crawled the spectral dogs of the eternal gutter

Slope backed circling the scent of their decay

The black drool of their lips curled back in failing snarls across yellow teeth

Sand lay its barren corruption across my tongue where once there were stars

The sun limited in conception

Little more than a rancid smear across the unstable sky

Hunched over the lost steam of cold coffee

Its corrosive bitterness perversely welcome

Old man trembling

Old man muttering

Into the dim light of memory

The shadow play of faces that refuse definition

Weeping for all such moments that are conjured out of time

Weeping for the Mascara Snake’s essence that is held within the crumbling ruin of my heart

Failing against best intention to deny the pitying self

My hand through the mirror a clutching at cliché

The blood that patterns the walls a repetition of dreams and fears

Yet such clarity of thought

Such diamond precise reading of this self perpetuating despair

Such exactitude in awareness allows of no second chance

Denies the recycling of memories to different ends

Instead such meticulousness merely secures you to the sullen moment midst the thunder’s rolling grief

The lightning’s incandescent strikes

When only the ghosts remain and you become the body shattered across the breaking wheel

The scream of the butterfly pinned without mercy to the velvet cushion

The bull’s exhausted roar of futile rage collapsed tragic into bloody sand

You become the self you always dreamed

You become the self you always feared

When only the ghosts

Only the ghosts remain

***

Wearily stirring the fire’s exhausted heart

Raising only a scattering of sparks

A transitory flight of embers that return in the instant to darkness

Leaving only a soft rain of ashes

A drift of memories no more than rumour

The fading echoes of unrealised dreams

Of promises made by fragile declaration

Fleeting as the clouds that shift their storm eviscerated mass across the peaks of the unnamed mountains gleaming weakly in a pale wash of sunlight

A silence has settled across the burning sands

A silence within which my eyes follow the scribbled path of my travels

A disjointed and dispiriting narrative returning me always to the brutal realisation that however I choose to interpret this desperate scrawl

This fall of words failing ever failing across the page

The invitation formed with such care in my imagination

And here truth’s blade cleaves without mercy

Was never of essence

Was never truly extended

My foundation one of smoke and mirrors

Of whispers and sighs

Following roads out of nothing

Roads leading nowhere

By signposts crudely branded ‘THIS IS A LIE’

I remain forever a stranger at the feast

A spectral presence haunting the margins of carnival and delight

Wandering within a shadowed wilderness where the dogs tremble and whine within the fastness of their unknowable dreams

Locked within the binding coils of an aching hunger

Across the frigid air of words unspoken and songs unsung this act of creation becomes a stale repetition of failing symbols

Points of reference and acts of interpretation forever internalised

Hollow memories reverberating in canyons carved by the wind to the Mascara Snake’s enigmatic design

I remember a broken phone in an abandoned room

The porcelain doll time cracked and yellow cast across the fraying weave of a time bleached chair

Dust motes captured in the final light of a dying sun

I remember sitting in breathless anticipation

A pulse racing expectation

Craving the warmth of the heart strong fire

Its light captured dancing in the blue expanse of his eyes

My body tensed

My nerves stretched to a singing receptivity

But such anticipation delivered only empty rewards

Expectations never met

Again I taste the charred acrid bile of unknowing

The mirror of this moment no more than a mirror

Passive in reflection

Mystery and magic denied by workaday smudge and age rendered scratch

I stare blankly into the night’s storm distended belly and interrogate self with an astonishing clarity of spite

Fearing dreams

Dreaming fears

Sustaining this fragile scaffold through repeated acts of banal yet tender observance

Rituals doggedly observed to empty ends

Somehow an ocean

Somewhere a beach

The liquid murmur of the stones rolling towards oblivion beneath the waves’ velvet claws

A single star and a failing moon

The wind across the water a siren song

The wound and its unveiling of a secret beauty

The flesh and its scarring intimacies

Barely remembered in this room of candle spun shadows

Seeking to pin the butterfly to the spinning wheel of acceptance

The blind denial that will not settle

That shifts and shimmers like a rope of wind

These are dangerous moments as acceptance takes on the belligerent mantle of the sullen shrug

The dull grey horror of acquiescence

The skin crawls and burns with a fever of ants

Resignation inhabits the must murky corridors of an anti dreaming and stalks me with a predator’s centring as to its singular purpose of primal impulse

Shadowing me through the slow hour of dawn when against all experience the sun’s rising attains the impossibility of suspense

In the strained moment of awful expectation I remember again the Mascara Snake’s eyes at the moment prior to his back’s final turning

Their vanished blue a severing of all possibilities

Their dead light of depthless sorrows

And so I sit

And so I wait

For the wheel to turn through another agonising cycle

I sit and wait upon the beautiful disease

The dreadful tenderness of its misguided mercies

I sit and wait

For in my weakness there is nothing more to be done

***

AND THE 9th THING THE MASACARA SNAKE SAID WAS… (With sun speckled eyes that shine with the liquid gold of pure laughter I unzip another horizon Slow breathing hobos drift through lost lives Their stumbling bones disjointed shadows across the burning sand It is sleight of hand that achieves nothing A blur of hands and inverted cups Never revealing the sovereign pea Just another batch of forgotten headlines fading across age yellowed newspaper Just another tide of memories sweeping in on a storm broken sea I tumble my grumbling bones through the phases of the moon The hunter’s dream to the paling sickle The hours burn with the ferocious intensity of ancient paper A ghost child plays a badly tuned piano Slow notes drift echoing in spectral passage Counter melodies echoing from the blind walls of the bone dry canyon Salamander rejoice in flame My voice is the chime of deep frozen mercury spilling across the night With further sleight of hand and slyness of finger I paint dreams that shimmer their luminescence of electric blue down the gulping drains of midnight The dogs wear fragrant muzzles and whimper tidal memories With sun speckled eyes that shine with the liquid gold of pure laughter I am lost within the dreaming I conjure an orchestra aflame and cleave the vision fish through to the bone Split the skull of reason and eat the scarlet flowers within I hatch the eggs of unreason Succulent ovoids Their milky stench Driving deep the midnight hollow I am the maker of weathers The bellows of my lungs birthing a darkness of clouds that are the signal for black rain Drenched I hunch into the barest whisper of flame Deconstruct a guitar string in a style fast and bulbous My final cascade of note spiralling out into silence With a final shudder that resonates within the heart rock of the unnamed mountains I vanish Leaving only the diminishing memory of my whisper) …“THIS CASE IS CLOSED”

***

Cast adrift beneath a blood washed moon

I swirl helpless within a paralysing vortex

Gibbering at the terminal wreck of my resources

The destination that I seek wreathed in the smoke of funeral fires

Obscured within a drifting opacity of final teeth grinding mind numbing frustration

A destination that falls beyond the limits of the cartographers’ knowledge

Beyond even the inspired ignorance of ‘HERE BE MONSTERS’

Where the compass in a seeming act of conscious insurrection

Of breakdown and bewilderment

Seeks each of its points simultaneously in a whirling and indecipherable blur Execution falls short of intention

Intention itself a series of broken connections

Severed relations that fail in the meaning as I dream the anchorite’s refuge of silent obsessive vigil

Abject in surrender to this gathering of ghosts

This feast of friends who glimmer for only the briefest of seasons

Silently paying witness to my wilful decline

Who vanish on the wind at my shaping of their names

My hands follow the nature of their obsession

Cramping through compulsion as they raise a senseless steeple

My eyes clenched in a void of contemplation

The idiot refuge of prayer without hope

Prayer without end

Out of the mystery deep darkness a stale repetition of worn out themes

Of dead end explorations

The casting of dry bread upon stagnant waters

Tongue tied invocations to a snarling wilderness where shadow denizens dwell within the burning agonies of their never to be sated appetites

Out of the mystery deep darkness a weary recycling of nagging and abrasive spite

These bones of calcified milk a hopeless scaffold turning slowly to dust

There is nothing to offer this world of masks and mirrors

Of dreams and fears

Save a sullen atrophy

A glowing sorrow that disallows even the notion of peace and security

Mirrors hold a world of sun and sand

In their arid reflections birth a season of silent screams within the contrary weave

The narcissist’s final refuge is drinking the darkness into a newer darkness

Thirst is the assassin unleashing its bone wracking horrors on waves of fetid breath through the failed hours of night

I dream the constancy of the clock

Its hands slicing time into contained units as my pen scratches through the silence to its unknowable destination

The ink’s gleam a promise quick to fade when ethanol’s tainted charms blur what remains of vision

When the misshapen fragments of memory cast their phantasmagoria of shadows

Embracing again the filth and the fury

Murdering by another’s design the dream and living by another’s design the fear

For what remains when the final vision is reduced to a handful of dust?

What remains when the rainbow’s end is a pit of tar?

What remains when the song is forever unsung?

What remains when the signposts read only ‘THIS IS A LIE’

The Mascara Snake sits within his realm of other wise and ambiguity

His dream spun weave of intricate bewilderments

An enigma whose faces dazzle the sun

These are moments of reckoning

Splintered reflections thrown from a shattered mirror Shards of an almost identity carrying me through a wind of changes to this place of neither time nor dimension

Shards become a mere gathering of fragments heaped against my ruin

Fragments heaped to little purpose save the erasure of dates from an imaginary calendar

Dates that have become tenuous connections

Memories of lost years

Of the summerhouse by midnight

Star washed lawns and the blue of the moon my only dream

Drifting spectral across a cloudless sky

This an innocent claiming of impossible dominion

This an innocence wholly betrayed through experience

Reducing the summerhouse to a wreckage of splintered wood and peeling paint

Abandoned of memories all that remain are the ghosts of ghosts

The lawn’s once crafted lustre now lost beneath a choking of weeds

The sculpted roses fallen to their natural state of graceful chaos

The moon no more than gilded smears across shattered glass

The stars remain to dazzle but theirs is a cold comfort

Clouds are a gathering of ancient sorrows as the day darkens beneath a brooding sky that heaves and rolls with barely contained violence

Thunder rolls its elemental signature through the bone dry canyons of my empty heart and the lightning sears my eyes against the dream of dreaming

The pen in my hand no more than an empty gesture

These words carry me along unknown paths to an unknowable destination

So let the clouds open

Let the rains fall

Let them taint me with poison or cleanse me of sin

The Mascara Snake remains the bleakest kiss I ever knew

***

This then is how it ends

The cliché of the hollowed out bang and the futile gesture of the proverbial whimper

A weary sight to meet weary eyes as straw men are consumed by fire along the mud slick banks of the tumid river

Are they cleansed of sin at the touch of healing flame?

Are they redeemed within the furnace heart?

Or are they merely consumed?

Rendered to ashes

Delivered to oblivion

Either is of equal significance

Either is of no significance at all

Tendrils of oily smoke rising above the forest’s muted emerald canopy gather the clouds within their greasy strands to deny the sun

A rain of ashes lays waste the directionless heart

Still I tunnel obsessively the failing interior

Placing the ruins of my faith in disorder

Still I would claim mercy within the Mascara Snake’s realm of mystifications

Scrabbling within the furious heat of fever

Torn of nail and bloody of hands midst the heaped debris and swirling dust of a fallen kingdom

Still I seek connections within a heap of broken images

Reclaiming nothing save the sterile memory of a shadow self ever in thrall to the Mascara Snake’s whispers and groans

Carving dreams and fears through the wilderness hours of his absence

Carving with a dull intensity to no purpose

Carving out of a hope that is no hope

The diminished awe of an exhausted kiss like stale rain upon my lips

The mirror’s awful cascade of reflections

The shaping of ashen names on a dust dry tongue

The stirring of dark waters that curdle to birth a shimmering mass of faces that fail in their congealed silence to sate the hunger that gnaws with desperate unending insistence

But the hallucinatory weave is ever unstable and cannot be sustained

The lights that would carry me home dim to a shivering darkness behind the boiling sorrow of my sun fevered eyes

I write out of a bone aching fatigue that is my only reward for attempting to divine the Mascara Snake’s ever shifting truths

I scream into the void of his sometime smile and wait upon the echo

A sullen gathering lay their cold sweating palms across my burning flesh

They are a strange comfort that carry me into the belly of night where midst the falling of stars a world is revealed

A wretched perversion of arts and wonders

A world of confusions and hurt

Spitting his moon of sorrows into the wisdom gutter he said “DREAM ON FOR DREAMS WILL NEVER RUN DRY”

But whatever the weight of his words

And they are thunderheads dwarfing the unnamed mountains

However he chooses to define absolutes beyond my understanding

Whatever the truth of his delirious flights and visionary furies

His casual yet crafted manipulation of mystery and imagination

I return always to the frozen dread of an immutable realisation where each gesture within his grander scheme

That lies ever just beyond my straining reach

Becomes merely another conduit to self recrimination and its despairing twin self pity

Lonesome roads of thought and counter thought

Of gracious acceptance and harshest denial

Where the feather soft flight of the eagle owl is a murdering song

Its stone like plummet of whispering shadow the last thing the world knows

Darkening shadows are sadly hatched

Weary creations in time abandoned rooms where dreams are the wreaths of dust gathered of their own silent remorse

Trails cleaved against hope through the forlorn wilderness of crow and cackle where temptation alone survives

Gleaming its unblinking eye of eternal invitation

The shine and sparkle a sleight of hand hiding a depth of horrors within

Where acts of betrayal are second nature to the deceiving heart

The easiest of gestures

In the gutter stinking ruin of guzzle and groan nights are spent crawling through an interior darkness where a spill of illumination reveals flowers bursting forth from time bleached skulls

A cloying scent rising from the pulp of their scarlet petals

Lovers writhe in a stench of skin and sheets

Bodies locked within sinuous knots of tongue and torment

The mirrors of their eyes holding tricks of the light that hide the tricks of their hearts Feasting on the flesh of orgasm

Their faces a scattering of reflections by broken glass and melting flame

Their faces resembling ants captured in the killing jar

In the silent afterglow second hand daylight lays in a rancid smear across their jaundiced flesh as eyelids peel back with a slow screeching of remembered agonies

Eyes are forced to confront the wreckage of devastation

Of cataclysm and carnage

A world of ghosts softly sighing their exhausted narratives

A world of idiot scribbles scratching vainly against the all encompassing silence

The only time I heard the Mascara Snake raise his voice above the merest outline of a whisper this is what he said

“WHERE’S THE DIFFERENCE? WHERE’S THE FUCKING DIFFERENCE?”

Reeling like a hurricane caught drunk within the concussive waves of this alien outburst I sought as always for the securities contained within the oldest lessons

To decipher the rain scarred walls

Seeking subtext as a way towards meaning

As if within the ever changing dimensions of his weave

The incredible contortions of his ambiguities

I might find the perfect reflection of a self I know to be at best only and ever provisional

A delirium of tremors that is the act of my constant becoming

For no matter my desire

No matter my hunger

No matter my self generated need

There can be no absolute definition

Subtext remains a realm of ever shifting mirrors

Where dazzles the subjectivity of all meaning

We exist as strangers seeking defining connections

Solitary hearts chasing eternal communion

And so each moment becomes the appropriation of another mask

Another set of externally applied morals and directives

That the connection be made

Communion achieved

The eternal stranger of the mirror’s reflection is only banished at the terminal hour when we discard the masks and deny the external

Only then are we able to tend the wounds of our secret and broken selves

Nurturing private pains to tender conclusions

Only then are we able to treasure the ashes of exhausted fires

To wait on the phone in time abandoned rooms where fragile hopes are the last of all things

By the Mascara Snake’s arcane inclination I remain this other self

This self of dreams

This self of fears

This self that only the secret mirror knows

Yet I write

For within the undying days of his undying weave there is nothing more to be done

***

AND THE LAST THING THE MASCARA SNAKE SAID WAS………………………..”THIS IS A LIE”

      
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2 thoughts on “Mascara Snake Poems by Simon J. Charlton

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