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N Paul Nov 2018
Yesterday was okay:
   Food is good; mood is good
The newbies look wired:
  Lauren, he is nervous and pleasantly disturbed by forthright kindness.
  Arthur is slow and engaging and intimate.
  Kate is a little crazy
    She sneaks into the men's house:
    The men tense
    Our eyes move together like magnets
      "Hello." She accepts the challenge with interest.
        "Hello." A Slavic lilt.
    I comment that she mustn't like rules.
      She is overjoyed by this.
    Five minutes later she is caught and saunters sulkily away.
  We are friends.

The old men, we are slower;
  Even our eyes move slower
  We explore the grounds with less hurry:
    They will not move, and we resist the urge to pry their secrets before we have earned them:
     We save their hidden corners like sweets under a pillow:
        Times will come when they are needed; gorge now and starve later.
   For us, time will stay put if we ask it.
     With quiet acceptance we foresee the many moments that lie ahead when we will burn to usher time along.
     A sullen wise old donkey that resists the switch.
     He is our concern. And our fear.

You may become a master of time here.
More likely, you will realise its mastery over you:
Illuminated to a vivid and terrible outline.
N Paul Mar 2018
Burning face as you
Fly off with my airship.
Diesel scorches moist lungs
Dark nostrils flare.
Raised eyes behold, dreamlike:
Your silhouette 'gainst the blushing pearl of a yawning sky.
Soundlessly you vanish beyond canopies and ken-o'-man.
Dawn slips expertly among shimmering trees to greet me with love.
"WHERE IS MY AIRSHIP!"

...

Cicadas tense to pour into a silence
Stretching like an open gullet.
N Paul Aug 2016
She must be beautiful;
She must be funny;
She must be perfect.
She knows she isn’t. And this terrifies her.

He knows he is none of these things either.
Neither is he happy, nor motivated, nor selfless.
Mostly he is lazy. He hates himself without really noticing.
If he didn’t feel this way he might not be scared enough to do anything-at-all.

She finds it hard to be assertive without sounding like a *****,
She feels stifled when he gets too close. How will she ever make a marriage last?
She has failed for never liking children.

They both skirt the issues. “She is blunt and he is forgetful”.
They laugh and accept this.
They laugh a lot together,
Carefully and with shame they hide the things that make them horrid.

Time passes


..........


And one day, as the light filters down to hang in the mists of a darkening month, infusing their street with a hushed sort of patience, she appears in the sitting room.

In quiet confidence, this beautiful, funny, thoughtful girl reveals to him a portion of the true, uglier weaknesses she has masked. Does he run away? Of course not. He embraces them as she is all the more beautiful for revealing these truths that are so rare and so well hidden.

Whereas before he beheld a doll at arm’s length. Perfect in form but somehow not real; porcelain even. Now the shell has cracked to reveal beautiful breathing blemished sensitive skin beneath which he scoops up and holds in his arms.

He felt as a man who had never seen a real woman, only pictures, and here was one now, open and shy and willing and as exhilarated by him as he is by her.



..........


He sees she is happy.
It is only natural to him that she be worthy of love.
She is silly for doubting it.
He wishes to fall in her lap and to lay out his own faults as best he understands them.
For one desperate moment.
He must be a little better first; a little less worthy of disgust. One day
Not yet, not yet.

They reveal themselves in bitterness later. When she is unprepared and he is suffocating under guilt.
They deny any problem until they are screaming.
They make up and soldier on.


..........


Perhaps his faults will break them apart.
Perhaps hers will, in spite of his initial embrace.

This will not be because they are disgusting, or truly horrid.
Without exception their issues are troublesome, yet entirely normal and worthy of understanding.

We can hope that at the close they are kind to themselves.
We can hope they will not feel despair at everything ending.
We can hope they are wise enough not to see it as everything ending.

We can hope they do not hate themselves for succeeding in doing something that is, in reality, incredibly difficult and praiseworthy –
Making a deeply intimate relationship last any time at all.
N Paul Mar 2016
They let me in the room with her and I walked without meaning to walk. It was bright with big windows covering the opposite wall looking out onto grass and a bed at a right angle to the light so that lying there she rested her chin on her left shoulder to gaze out and had to roll her head rightwards to see who came in. Walking as I was she got bigger and I started to feel her fear and only then did I realise that I was absolutely terrified and had been for a long time though I can’t say when it started. The room smelled sterile and smelled like a room you shouldn’t leave. It made you want to run but made you feel like you absolutely couldn’t; she wanted to run but politeness kept her sane.

She looked at me and it felt like when we met at a station or arrived by taxi and hadn’t seen each other in a while. Except this time we had seen each other but wouldn’t see each other for a while yet. Her eyes were filled with tears and she had a smile like she was happy and proud and surprised in her happiness but glad, and that it was all too much to bear. ‘Hi.’ her voice was stronger than I thought and I knew that I loved how she could be so full of emotion but still function and not collapse.

I couldn’t say anything but patted her with my hand. We both cried quietly. I started to feel I should be doing more and I wanted to tell her but now it all seemed lame and wrong and stupid. So I told her I loved her and I felt I was saying it to be strong and make her feel safe but of course I didn’t feel safe and I heard it as a squeak and more air than sound. I wanted her to say it and she did and her face was still proud but now also concerned but concerned for me and how I was and in a moment all this love turned to hate and then all I felt was shame that I would make her worry for anyone but herself and then blame her for it. It couldn’t end like this so I started to tell her and at first I fumbled and had to keep starting over but then I forgot where we were and even that she was there and I just felt what I wanted to feel and before I knew it I had said it.

‘Here’s what’s going to happen. We’ll cremate you. You’ll be ash. And… well ash is a great fertiliser. After a volcano the land regrows and the crops are full, for years they’re full. So I’ll take you, and--- remember when we went to the garden centre? You said we should get lilies and I said we would and I haven’t. Well I’ll buy some and I’ll take you… I’ll take you…and I’ll plant them and mix you in with the soil. I’ll mix you up with the soil and I’ll plant them and they’ll grow and… you’ll be in them. And I’ll look out and see them growing and know that you’re in them. And when they’re big I’ll pick them and smell them and put them in vases all around the house and I’ll always be with you. Because I love you so much. And you have to know that. I love you so much and I might meet someone but it won’t mean anything because they aren’t you, do you hear me? I will always think about you because you are my heart and you always will be. Do you understand? You have to know that because I’d want to know that, desperately; that not for a second will you be less important to me than you are right now.’

Only then I saw that whilst she was touched and she nodded and her face filled with yet more pride it was all show this time and maybe always had been and really she was just scared. I knew then that she was really only grateful that I cared so much to need her and that she didn’t really care if she was a plant and that was fine with me.

By the time the footsteps came we had fallen onto each other and were kissing clumsily because we were too busy crying but we were smiling with this painful relief that we weren't acting strong anymore when we weren't. And I had begun to feel excitement for some reason that this would all be over soon and I could go back although things would never really go back of course. But now this felt right and I was glad that I had told her.

The nurse came in the needle went in and she was gone. I saw I was walking and in the corridor and the moment I saw I fell in a stumble against the wall and slid and couldn’t feel a thing for all the shaking. I shook on the floor and wept and shuddered in sobs and no why did I leave I didn’t want to leave yet I wanted to be there with her but I can’t now she’s gone.

I looked around dumbly as people saw but couldn’t give what they thought they should because they were embarrassed or busy feeling. And I looked around for the family I knew wasn’t there because my family had been in that bed and now had faded along with my heart. I was sharp breathing and strange noises and that was everything for a while until someone helped me up and walked me around until I took my body back and walked to my car and went home and stared blankly at a door and remembered I’d forgotten something and went back to the car again to get lilies.
N Paul Feb 2016
Will we meet in shady groves;
Upon a hill? Perhaps in morning.
In hidden vines of deepest green… Does day break?
We spool in canopies as the world beyond awakes;
Cocoons of fragrant freshness. So here I sit and of you I wish.

Will we meet in times of woe;
Under streets beveiled? Perhaps in mourning.
The well-worn cobbles ache terribly, my dear, let us go inside
A yellow cigarette crushed against the glass; I burn for tenderness and see
It in your eye. So there you sway and beneath you I lay.

Will your face be one I know;
Past veils of spidersilk? Perhaps, my darling.
This well-worn world aches terribly, let us make our own
From shady grove to comforts home; an empire on the hill.
Lifetime passes in an eyeblink. So with you I hide
Til our tender world’s first sunrise.
N Paul Feb 2016
When I sit and sink and sigh with my back against the sky,
Will you sit and sigh with me, and strap our backs to yonder tree?
N Paul Feb 2016
He plods with heavy steps
Laden down by the memories of brighter mornings
When the curtains would open to the Sun’s ****** rays
Striking his face with glowing force
Knocking him from his sleepy perch
Sending him tumbling, smiling
Through the giddy fall of day.

On his way he passed bright things.
Things that make him want to risk the fall
To surge forth and cling onto this shining view of fields
Caressed by a teaming blue ribbon of fire.
Or that tinkling, joyous, feminine giggle
Heard as the heat of an afternoon
Of early summer presses on his back
The throng of a crowd surges about him,
A million island universes all striding about their tasks
The comforting presence of all that strong, purposeful flesh
Swimming in never-ending eddies around him.

His mind may scream ‘Reach out!
Grasp at this shining moment, this fickle mote
For it is rare and precious!’
But the fall cannot be stopped.

Should he succumb he is left spinning downwards
Watching, through clouded eyes, this glowing thing shrink
As it passes noiselessly upwards
His back burning and his limbs
Nearly pulled from their sockets.
And he mourns, until he catches the next glimmer
And his eyes fill with light once more.

No, he discovered long ago that all things turn to smoke.
It is better to sit back in comfort and watch with a lazy grin
Than squirm and flap and curse your way to the bottom of the fall.

The bottom. As the glimmers fade, it comes into view.
And the youth, at monstrous speed, would strike this bed
Of black feathers, sinking deep into their fluttering embrace
And several times, as one, they fling him up,
Til he floats back down with ease
And comes to rest
And waits to wake once more.
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