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Bruce Adams Sep 2023
A text for five voices.

Note on text: For formatting reasons, this should be read on a full screen, or in landscape mode on a mobile.

i. Blank copy

I look out of the window at
the houses as they pass and they
don’t so much slide past
                                    or glide past
                                                the motion isn’t smooth.
They sort of click past.
They tick past, dit-dit-dit:
House after house after house after house
My eyes don’t quite refresh the image fast enough
to keep up with all the houses
                                  as they pass.
It’s 10 o’clock when I arrive at my office
and no-one is there yet
and I turn on my computer.
I sort of just
                sit there
                for quite a long time. Then
at 10.37 I print a document I’ve been working on
and I pick up my mug and I go to the kitchen where the printer is
and I put the kettle on.
I log on to the printer but instead of pressing
  ­                                              I press
The machine whirs
The light goes
And out comes this copy this
        Copy of
I pick it up from the cradle.
It’s warm.
And I hold it and I look at it and I think:
                                                This is a copy
                                                                ­of nothing.
And since it is no longer an empty piece of paper but now
                                                             ­   something more
                                                            ­    something
                                                   ­                                imbued
I don’t put it back in the paper tray
and I don’t put it in the bin.
I carry it carefully with my tea back
to my office and put it
                    ­                            on my desk.
I close the door.
Usually when I arrive and no-one is there I keep the door open for a bit.
It’s my way of letting people know I’m here.
It also helps me get a sense of what’s going on in the building
which students are there and what they’re doing
and once I’ve got a decent enough idea
or if there’s someone around I don’t really feel like helping
                                                         ­                           I close the door.
Today it is quiet.
It is a Friday.
                     Fridays are quiet.
It is the seventh of March.
It is 2014.
              I’m looking out of the window as I recall
              without much interest
              that yesterday was my father’s sixty-first birthday.
The buses tick past the window.
Without really thinking I
roll down the blind
                            Until the window is as blank as my copy of
                                                              ­                                           nothing.
I look at it but I
My computer makes a noise and a purple box
tells me I have a meeting in thirty minutes.
                                                        ­Oh shut up I tell it
                                                        out loud.
Now I realise that I never did print my document
so I go back to the printer and the file is still there waiting for me
and I press Print All
                     and out it comes
and the piece of paper looks
                     scrawled over in heavy black print
                     and ****** coloured columns
                                                                ­      and smelling
                                                        ­              Smelling of toner.
For someone who claims to be conscious of the environment I
print excessively. But only at work.
It’s the combination of it being free
                                          (or at least, no cost to me)
and that feeling you get when you
your access card to log in to the printer
and tap the screen dit-dit-dit to choose this or that.
It feels
       to me
              like being a grown-up.
It’s intoxicating.
I don’t want to go to the meeting
and I’m suddenly annoyed by this ***** piece of paper
       I ***** up
                     and throw in the bin.
**** it.
Not even in the recycling.
**** it.
Who cares.
              What difference could it possibly make
              whether I throw this piece of paper
                                                 which I will now have to print again
              in the black part of the bin for waste
              or the green part of the bin for recycling.
I go back to my computer and press Print but
this time
I keep clicking my mouse
                         ­          Yeah.
                         ­          ditditditditditditditditditditditditdit
And I go back to the printer and the name of the document comes up on the built-in screen
dozens and dozens of times
the same name of the same document
and I tap
              Print All.
And as the machine spits out clone after clone I
mutter under my breath:
                                   **** it.
Then out loud:
                                   **** it.
And as I throw them in the bin and go back for more I think
I’m going to buy a car. Yeah.
And I’m going to drive my car to work and
when I finish work I’m going to drive it
to a big supermarket
                            a hypermarket
                            a super hyper mega market
where I will buy and buy and buy,
and on my way home I will buy petrol to put in my car
       And I will go on holiday
       I will book all those last minute deals on the internet
       And go to Turkey or Lanzarote or Corfu for a hundred
                                                         ­      or a couple of hundred
                                                         ­      pounds, every month maybe
And I’ll fly there on a big plane.
I’ll soar over the ocean on a big plane.
And when I come back
I’ll soar over all those people outside Stansted Airport
All those
With banners
Moaning and complaining and protesting
Banners saying things like
                                   I don’t know
                                                 “Down with planes”
And as the flight attendant smiles goodbye I’ll think
       Down with planes.
                                   And I’ll drive my car home and I will
I go back to my office.
I retrieve one copy of my document from the bin and I
put it on top of my copy of nothing.
Whereas before the document offended me
                            now I have difficulty
                            telling the difference between the two.
My colleague arrives and she tells me about the motorway.
She’s always telling me about the motorway.
I think about my car I’m going to buy and I
think about being on the motorway.
I think about being on that part of the M25
where the planes are so low you duck as they thunder over you
and they come
                     in rapid succession
                                          dit dit dit
                                                        rapid­ eye movement
I think about being stuck in traffic there and the air
thick with exhaust fumes
mixing with the air around Heathrow
and all those tons of jet fuel from the planes zooming over
Blink and you miss them
                                   but always another follows.
I go to my meeting.
I realise that I have picked up my blank copy
along with the document I printed for the meeting.
Someone says they wish I’d printed more than one copy
as it turns out it would be useful for everyone to have one
and I laugh in their face without explaining myself.
                                                         ­             I make notes on it.
                                                             ­         My copy of nothing.
                                                        ­              Without really realising
                                                       ­               I’ve scribbled notes on it
but as I look at my spidery black biro handwriting
and think with some real despair about how I have mindlessly
something pure
the notes
                                int­o the paper
and it is clean again.

ii. Ringing sea

My eyes don’t quite refresh the image fast enough.
What I’m looking at
my rational brain tells me
is a video of two people having ***.
I have seen that before.
But what I’m actually watching is a video of
my husband
                     having ***
                                          with another woman.
And my eyes don’t refresh the image fast enough
So I keep seeing his face.
The whole picture melts away and
I just see his face
                     Which belongs to me.
                                          It’s my face. I – own it.
                                                        It’s my- my- my-
                                                        And it freezes there
just his face is all I can see then the video continues for a
split second then freezes again
                                   His face
                                   His face
                                   His face       It’s him
                                                        It’s him
                                                        It’s him.
I stop the video and I put the phone down on the table
and I breathe very deeply and
every time I blink, between every saccade
there is his face
                            a face I know intimately
                                                      ­         and it’s looking away from me.
I turn on the television. It is Saturday.
He is flying back from Asia on Tuesday. I have until then to
                                                              ­        what?
The sound and light from the television
flicker over me
And I sort of just empty,
Quietly, like a balloon disappearing into the sky.
I don’t know what I’m going to do but
for now that’s
The brown armchair swallows me up
and I cry for two hours without really noticing.
The cookery programme I’m not watching finishes and I think
the news is about to come on so I turn off the TV
and I put on my shoes
and I go down the stairs and out of the house
and I get in my car.
It’s raining and I just sit there.
Without starting the engine I flick on the windscreen wipers:
                                                         ­      Dit / dit.
                                                            ­   Dit \ dit.
                                                            ­   Dit / dit.
It takes less than three seconds for them to pass
from one side of the windscreen to the other.
And I get this feeling this
unexplainable feeling
that I want to crawl inside that moment
when the wipers are moving from one side of the screen
                                                          ­                   to the other.
I flip down the sun shield and look at myself in the mirror.
There are two lipsticks in the glove compartment.
I pick the darker one
                            and apply it
                                                       ­          sensually.
I start the car.
West London ebbs away to the motorway
My car is silver and in the rain it feels invisible
I don’t know where I’m going
                                I follow words on signposts I recognise the shape of
                                without really reading them
and I keep driving
I let my eyes come away from the road and
watch the fields and trees tick past like cells of film
and I look at the cars on the other carriageway
and I notice they’re all silver like mine
                                                        (onl­y mine is invisible)
and I duck as a Boeing 777 soars over near the M4 interchange
and let myself scream soundlessly under the roar of its engines.
I wonder where it came from.
                                          I think about the people on board.
I think about their mobile phones and
all the ******* there must be on them
and I realise
how many videos there must be in the world
of people having ***.
I take the M23 past Gatwick Airport
                                          the motorway ends but I keep driving
until finally I come to the sea.
No-one is here because it’s March and it’s raining.
I have always loved the sea.
Not sailing or swimming or surfing
Just being near it, for me it’s
                                   a spiritual experience.
I’ll lie on the stones and gaze at the sky for hours
but not today.
                     There are some flowers tied to a railing
                     somebody has drowned.
Presumably they never found a body to bury.
The awfulness of that strikes me like a stone.
                                                        It­’s the not knowing.
                                                        ­The lack of 100% concrete total proof.
I take my phone out of my handbag.
                                                        ­But I know now.
The shingle crunches underneath my flat shoes.
                                                        No­w I know.
The cold burns my ears and the wind picks up as I get closer to the water
the tide slips serpentine up the stones
                     beckoning me.
Without realising I’ve slipped
                                                 out of
                                                            my­ shoes
but the stones do not hurt my coarse feet
and the wind
                     howling now
                                          catches me behind my knees
quickening my stride.
The spit curls around my toes.
And then I catch myself wondering
                                          whether my husband will call me or
                                          text me when he lands
and I hurl
       my phone
              into the sea.
On the drive home I listen to the radio.
The news is dominated by the Crimean conflict
and the referendum that’s coming up there.
Florence Nightingale
                            is all I can think about when they talk about Crimea.
Until recently I never even knew where it was.
At school you only learn about Florence Nightingale
                                   not the geography
                                          not the conflicts
                                                 not Ukraine’s edges so charred by
                                                               invasion and,
                                                                ­             subsequently,
                                                                ­                                  explosion.
                    ­               We live in so many war zones.
and I’m wondering what else I never learned about when
the story changes and now they are talking about a plane.
A plane is missing
                                   between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing
                                          and the blood drains out of me.
It isn’t like floating away like a balloon this time
it’s like plunging off a cliff.
And at once I see
                            with brilliant, burning clarity
                                                        m­y phone, ringing, on the sea bed
The light from the screen illuminates the stormy water but
I can’t see the name:
                                   I can’t see who’s calling.
I need to know.
I need to know it’s him.
       I drive back at twice the speed limit.
In the dark the flowers look menacing and half-dead; my
shoes fall off in the same place
But the tide is in so the whole beach looks different.
I’m up to my waist but my
top half
       is as wet
              as my bottom half
                            because the rain
                                          is torrential
                                                      ­  and I can still hear the phone ringing
                                                        b­ut I can’t see the light in the sea.
and I howl
       his name
but the wind carries it away soundlessly
       and I can’t tell if I’m
              further out
              or if the tide’s further in
                            and the ringing grows louder
                            as the current takes me powerfully by the waist and
                                                             ­         the stars rush by overhead.

iii. Acid rain

Every time I blink, between every saccade I see
a brilliant but infinitesimally brief flash of colour.
       or green
       I think.
                     One on top of the other.
It’s hard to tell for sure because they’re so brief.
It’s like when you look at a light bulb for too long
                                                            ­   or stare directly at the sun.
I see it sometimes when I’m on my bike
or on a really big rollercoaster
                                   going downhill at 100 miles an hour
                                   the wind blasting through me
                                   the screams whirling through the air.
But I’m not on a rollercoaster, I’m sat very still
it’s Monday afternoon and I’m at school.
I haven’t said a single word to a single person today.
I didn’t even answer my name in the register.
I feel a bit dizzy like
                                   everything is turning together
                                   but I’m on a different
                                                       ­                 axis?
I think the bell goes, I’m
not a hundred percent sure,
but I leave anyway and no-one stops me.
       Outside in the sunshine the flashes of colour are
       several thousand times brighter.
In the next lesson I slip in my earbuds and
it looks like the teacher is singing the words.
                                                 I put on the most obscene song I can find.
I must have it on too loud
because eventually she notices and
she forces me to give her the headphones. This is the first time
someone has spoken to me today
                                          it feels a bit surreal
                                                         ­      but the world stops spinning
                                                        ­       a bit.
After school I go into the supermarket on Wigmore Lane
the enormous white of it is tinged in green and purple
and all I want is to buy a drink
                            I have a feeling of exactly the kind of drink I want
                            but I can’t find the right one
                            even though the fridge must be longer than
                            the driveway of my house.
Racks of newspapers and magazines clamour for my attention
       the only real colour in this great white warehouse of a store
       red tops and blue spreads
       and green and purple and green and purple
              and green and purple…
They’re talking about that missing plane in the news
and they keep using the same phrase.
They’re talking about the people on board the missing plane
and they keep saying
                      ­      presumed dead.
Not dead dead. Presumed dead.
I start wondering what it’s like to be both dead and alive at the same time,
as if all the people on board that plane are like Schrödinger’s cat
and we won’t know whether they’re dead or alive until we find the plane
and pull it out of the sea
and look inside
                         until then
                     they’re both.
Out in the car park I count the planes as they descend onto
the runway less than a mile away.
       One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight,
       I figure about a hundred and eighty a plane maybe,
       which means fifteen hundred people just arrived in Luton.
Nobody comes to Luton for the scenery.
Soon they’ll be gone,
A town haunted by a ghost population of thousands an hour.
                                                 filtered onto the trains and buses
                                                 and out from the sprawling car parks
                                                 to the motorway, and
                                                 onto connecting flights back into Europe
              but none of them will stay in Luton
                                                           ­                  Missing
                                                         ­                    presumed dead.
As I bike through Luton I think it might not be so strange to be dead and alive at the same time.
I’ve lived here my whole life and the whole place
                                                           ­                         which is a *******
                                                 moves with the mundanity of machinery
                                                 like the big car factories by the airport
                                                 the lights on, the production lines rolling
                                                 but all a bit automatic and lifeless.
But in the airport, it’s different.
The air, with its artificial chill, hangs with a faint shimmer
and the people here move purposefully, and with charge
                                                          ­     excitedly
                                                       ­                      or dejectedly
                                                      ­         but not neutrally
heading for the gates where they are sealed two hundred a time into airtight tubes
like Schrödinger’s cat:
                            dead and alive in the air;
                            one or the other on the ground.
                                                         ­      My teachers say I have an
                                                              ­ “odd way of looking at things”.
I leave my bike outside without chaining it up and go into the terminal.
In a café in the check-in hall I find exactly the drink I want
and I pay £2.75 for it.
                            I look at the departure boards.
                            Edinburgh. Bonn. Marseilles.
                            A green light flashes next to each gate as it opens
                                                           ­                  green and purple
                                                          ­                   green and purple
                                                          ­                                 Missing
                                                         ­                                  presumed dead
The flashes of colour are growing brighter
every time I move my eyes a green and purple streak follows behind like a jet stream
but the bustle and activity of the airport is so much that I can’t keep my eyes still
       so they keep darting
                            this way and that
                                                 until my vision is painted over
                                                            ­                 green and purple.
The streaks roll over each other like clouds of acid rain.
       This is the final call for flight 370 to–
My bike is gone when I go back outside
The front of the terminal is a plateau of thousands upon thousands of cars
and it’s probably in one of them
                                          but I’ll never know which.
The car parks reach all the way back to the runway.
Green and purple acid rain from all the jet fuel mixed with the air
melts a hole in the fence and I slip through
moving purposefully
                            with charge
                                          across the green and purple grass
                                          scorched by a hundred thousand landings
                                          a hundred thousand people arriving in Luton
And there on the tarmac
                     glinting in the rain
                     surrounded by blinking amber
       there is my bike
       its black handlebars spread like the wings of a jet plane.
I duck as an Airbus screams in just a few feet over my head
the rush from the engine lifting the soles of my feet from the ground.
I pick up the bike and start pedalling
                                                 pedalling down the runway
                                                 pedalling towards the blinking amber.
It feels light, nimble, fast
the tyres take the asphalt with ease.
And the faster I go the lighter I feel
       the acid rain eats away at my clothes
       and they melt off my body and pool on the runway below,
                            and lighter until…
                                                 The wheels lift away from the ground
                                                          ­     and in the air I am dead and alive
                                                 and maybe nobody will
                                                                ­                           ever
                                                            ­                               see me
                                                                ­                           again.

iv. Burning sky

The faster I go, the lighter I feel.
I’ve taken the night watch and the yacht
is cruising across the Indian Ocean
penetrating the black abyss like a white bullet
and the lights in the portholes send shimmering white bullet shapes
for miles across the endless ink.
                                                            ­                 What?
                     We’re not going very fast at all
                     But it feels like any minute
                                                 we might drop off the edge of the world.
I hope we do.
I feel light and dizzy and irrational
                                          and I feel aware of being
                                          light and dizzy and irrational
and I wonder if this is what going mad feels like.
Have you ever felt like you’re living in a corner of your own life?
       feel like that a lot lately.
Marc is sleeping.
We didn’t speak much today.
I can’t really remember how long it’s been
       since we left Victoria but the fight
       we had there
                            in a bistro by the port we
       said things we
       said things that
                            we can’t take back.
The Seychelles were stifling.
The heat was stifling.
He was stifling.
And the people were stifling
                                   the people kept talking about pirates.
                                   They kept warning us about pirates.
                                   You’re sailing where
                                                        the­y say
                                   You must be careful
                                                        t­hey say
                                   It’s notorious
                                                       ­ they say
I have fantasies about being kidnapped by pirates.
Not stupid Johnny Depp pirates with *** and parrots, no
       Real pirates.
                     Nasty pirates.
                     With dark snarls and AK-47s.
When we were at sea off the Horn I’d see things on the horizon
Dots or lights I couldn’t make out
And I’d imagine the rifle against my neck
Their hot breath
Chains and ransoms.
                          I’d wonder how much we’d be worth.
                          If we’d make national news.
                          Would it be David Cameron to announce,
                                                       ­        regrettably,
                                                    ­           we don’t negotiate with pirates,
                          or would it be someone less important?
                          Maybe just the foreign secretary.
                          What is the worth of my life at the end of a steel barrel?
But it would only be a buoy, or a plane on the horizon,
and I would get into bed with Marc
       disappearing under the covers like a different kind of hostage.
I’m crying.
                     I don’t know when I started crying.
The thing is I don’t know if it’s me breaking the marriage
or the marriage breaking me.
I’m watching everything literally fall to pieces and for all I know
it’s me with the detonator.
And then
literally falls to pieces
                            My mug of coffee falls from my hand
                            shatters on the deck
                                                            ­and the sea rears up nightmarishly.
Above me
a long orange **** of flame
is burned into the sky.
                            No, really.
                            That’s not a metaphor.
                                                       ­        There is fire in the sky.
It’s about a mile up and a mile away.
                            **** **** ****.
What is that?
I call for Marc.
       There is fire in the sky.

–              Katherine.

       Fire in the sky.
       Fire in the
       Fire in

–              Katherine.


–              Katherine.

              Marc, what?

–              Are you awake?

       I think so.

–              You were calling out again.


–              Calling out. You were shouting.

       What time is it?

–              Dubai. We’re in Dubai. It’s 7.
                They delayed again while you were sleeping.


–              Katy I really think you should see a doctor.

       Don’t call me that.

–              Pardon?

       Don’t call me that.

–          ­                                       Like what?

       Everything’s okay.

       Everything’s not okay.

–               There’s
                 doctors. You’re not well. You’ve been confused since,
                 well actually since before it even happened.

       You think I’ve been confused.

–              Not right.
                Not you.

       You’re **** right.

–              Forget it.

       Thank you.

–              Go back to sleep. ****.

–              Are you still seeing it?
                The plane? On fire.
                                   You’re dreaming about it, aren’t you?


–              It’s affecting you?


–              That’s not just it though is it?

       What’s that supposed to mean?

–              Something about seeing that
                                                           ­   plane has scared you.

       We don’t know it was the plane.
       The one that –

–                            No. But, right place, right time.
              They said


–              It’s still a coincidence.
                It’s not


–                                   A sign.
                                     From god.

     ­                                     Whatever you think it means.


       The thing I don’t know, Marc
       is if I’m more scared that it was the plane
       or that it wasn’t.

       Into thin air.

–              I know.

                            No, you don’t.
                            into thin air
       Or falling
                            out of it.

–              Falling.

       You can’t imagine that.

–              I can.

–              I can, Katy.
                I ******* can
       ­         Falling.
             ­   Into thin air.


                 I am
                          ­          ******* here,

       I see you.
       I see you Marc.
       But you’re not

       I’m not
                          ­                              See?

                           ­                             It passes
                                                          ­     right through.

       Now you see me.
                                   Now yo–

v. 2015

Have you ever felt like you’re living in a corner of your own life?
The hotel room here in Singapore is almost identical
to the room I had in Mexico City.
The heat feels the same and it’s the same
nondescript decoration
which doesn’t really belong to any time or culture.
It gives me a headache. The neutrality of it.
As I check my messages I remember
                                                        ­       I’m not in Singapore.
I’m in Kuala Lumpur.
I haven’t been home for nearly three weeks now.
It’s ridiculously late
The IOC conference is at six thirty
              and I’ve been asleep all day.
                                   I get dressed and grab my camera
                                   and leave the hotel with a large, black coffee.
At the press call I see a man from Reuters I recognise.
       The coffee here is terrible.
I talk to him about his family
              his daughter is four now
              he’s shaved off his beard since I last saw him
              and he’s moving, he says,
                                                 near me apparently
                                                 to Southend.
                                                       ­               “London Southend” he jokes
                                                                ­      with a roll of his eye
                                                             ­         and inverted commas.
I say yeah that’s quite near me then move away to take a phone call.
Inside the press conference there are ten people at the table
       the women are all wearing identical powder blue suits which
       strikes me as idiosyncratically Asian for no good reason.
The men all wear simultaneous translation headphones
                                                      ­                but the women don’t.
I wonder if this is because they speak better English than the men
or if it just isn’t considered necessary to translate for them.
       They have given the Winter Olympics to Beijing.
              I wonder what is lost between the
              Mandarin spoken by the mayor of Beijing
              and the English spoken by the translator.
                                                     ­          The space between words.
                                                          ­     The space between looking left
                                                            ­                               and looking right.
It’s a nice atmosphere in the cool air-conditioned room.
I’m struck by how nice everyone is
       except for the British delegates
       including the man from Reuters who speculates
       that the voting was rigged.
A while later someone else calls it a “farce”.
              I get a photograph of the IOC President’s face
                                                            ­          as it falls
              and email it to my office from my seat.
Outside, the Petronas towers rise above the conference centre like
enormous empty silos.
This is my first time in Kuala Lumpur
                                          the last city I have to visit before I go home.
I get in a taxi and say the name of my hotel
                                          and the city flashes by.
I look out of the window at
the buildings as they pass and they
don’t so much slide past
                                   or glide past
                                                        the motion isn’t smooth.
They sort of click past.
They tick past, dit-dit-dit:
Building after building
My eyes don’t quite refresh the image fast enough
to keep up with all the buildings
                            as they pass.
The taxi stops and I pay seventeen ringgit and get out:
it has gone by the time I realise this is not my hotel.
I don’t know where I am but I was in the taxi long enough to know that I
am some distance
                            from the centre of the city.
I look up at the name of the hotel the driver has taken me to
and the English transliteration is very similar to the name of the hotel I am staying in.
       I go inside.
There’s a nightclub in the hotel
I order Glenfiddich
                 ­           cut with water.
              not because I like it but
              because there’s something about scotch that feels
                                                           ­                         moneyed
              heavy amber liquid in heavy-bottomed glasses
              it helps me buy into this idea of the travelling businessman
              even though that’s a lie.
                                                        I’m just a man who takes pictures.
                                                       ­ And I want to go home.
I sit at the bar which is as long as my driveway.
I swirl my glass and watch the amber legs trickle down the sides.
A moving light above it hits the gloss black surface
with an open white like the early morning sun on my gravel
                                                          ­                   as I get into my car.
A girl from here, young enough to be my daughter, is talking to me.
She points out her friends and I half-wave, uneasily
and she asks what I’m drinking.
                                          A news alert on my phone says a piece of
                                          plane wreckage
                                          washed up
                                                        on Réunion
                                                        i­n the Indian Ocean,
                                   east of Madagascar and south of the Seychelles.
The girl seems nice. She says her name is Dhia
                                                            ­                 it means “glowing”.
She doesn’t seem to want anything,
certainly not ***;
her friends have disappeared so
                                          I dance with her.
As we dance I see something in her eyes that is at once
both young and
                     endlessly wise.
She has deep brown eyes exactly the colour of earth
and a small mouth which smiles brilliantly.
In the half-light they open up to me like pools
                                                 and I imagine
                                                         ­             swimming
                                           ­      in them.
Even though she’s only nineteen, twenty-one at most,
there is something about her that’s
       ­                                   spiritual
                    ­                      nourishing.
She asks me what I’m doing in Kuala Lumpur and I tell her
I don’t know.
She asks me what I did today and I tell her I
                                                               ­              slept
                                                           ­           then took some photographs.
You’re a photographer, she says, and I shrug
then she leans into my ear and says
                                                        don’­t tell anyone.
       I say
and she says
              I’m a princess.
And I look into her eyes and she isn’t lying.
She says no-one is going to recognise her
       just in case
                            she isn’t supposed to be seen drinking.
Who would I tell
I say to her.
She grins and finishes her beer and it’s true
                                   no-one is looking at her
                                   but she’s the most magnetic person in the room.
In the taxi I say the name of my hotel extremely slowly
and the driver replies in perfect English
                                                         ­      yes sir, I know where you mean.
Kuala Lumpur ticks by in electric darkness.
I flick through the news as we drive
                                                 I see the photo I took this evening about
                                                 a dozen times
                                                 or more.
There is something bitter about the tone in all the British press when they talk about the Olympics
as if:
Beijing get to do it twice?
                                   What about us?
I think about a country with a quarter of the world’s population
and I think about the tiny little island I’ve come from
                                                        and I feel smaller than I’ve ever felt.
The aircraft wing that washed up in Réunion is from a Boeing 777,
they say.
The same type of aircraft as the one that went down last year.
The one they never found.
                            It was going from here to Beijing.
                            Last communication at 1.19am.
And it’s at
                                   my phone rings.
It’s my boss in London
she says the Chinese Olympic Committee
are scheduling press conferences.
                                                    ­    It looks like I’m going to Beijing.
Written 2016-2020.
Man Jun 2023
How little men control
Their own destinies.
At a lost,
As to my internal monologue,
In a deluge of constant questioning.
And as to the control I do command,
With what to, is done?
As to the destiny I am ******,
Is it better to dither from forver, hitherto?
Or slaughter fear, and give anxiety the rub.
Secret-Author Nov 2018
This is the bottom.
For months, I have felt this hollow tunnel inside of me. It has been the only constant for a while. Like a wind tunnel on fire.  

Steadily I have felt worse in ways I never imagined. Each morning has been harder to get out of bed; I genuinely can't remember a day that didn't start with me bent over the toilet. Yet I stand, shakily. Sometimes covered in ***** - and I clean myself up.
I get in my car. And I drive to work.

I am empty inside. I have no story. I have no melody.
I am untitled.
Strangerous Sep 2022
Every morning at six-thirty I sit
at that table by the window and drink
my coffee. No, I’m retired. As you see,
I can see that corner, and most days the kids
come there to wait for the bus to take them to
the high school. Two boys and a girl, usually.
No, I don’t know them or their names, but I’d
recognize them. So, they stand there talking
and smoking -- whether cigarettes or something
else, I don’t know, but sometimes they shared it.
And I’m thinking the boys shared the girl too,
because one day one’s kissing her, the next day
he doesn’t show and she’s kissing the other.
That was yesterday. Then, today, the first boy
walks up and bang! bang! -- he shoots them both,
the girl and the boy, point blank in the head, like
Pacino in Scarface. Yes, I’ll testify.
But please catch the little ******* before
he finds out I’m a witness and pops me too.
© 1998 by Jack Morris
Deep Jun 2022
I want to give up...
my problems are
way scarier than others,
I am everything, the center,
unfavorable situations
find me like a childhood friend,

Trouble trouble everywhere
No time to live,
If I live for some days
double trouble pursue me
to outlive,

I'm Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear
Shakespeare wrote my predicaments
six centuries earlier,
My birth was a tragedy,
I'm armored in 'hamartia', 'anagnorisis'
'peripeteia', and what not
searching my doom to
entertain few who paid to see me,
I have none neither unity of time,
or place or action,

I don't deserve this,
What should I do?
I have no means and measures or methods,
to raise my hand and say,
"Sir, this disgusts me, living like this doing
same task same time all day"
Count me absent since today,
I'm going never to come,

What a sick time this is,
everyone is hating everyone,
I hate everyone too,
why shouldn't I?
I'd one demand,
I want to study, but no one had money
to pay, neither family, nor state, or center,
I saw them investing in bricks and stones
I saw them collecting taxes,
But no one came,
I wanted to work no had work to offer.

So I am writing, venting off my anguish,
Okay so if you are here, I call you my confidant,
keep it a secret,
You know I am alone now
But I wasn't before, a girl I love but never
told her my feeling, why????

Yes, she is employed, she earns I do not,
I fear this, I search for work, not that
I need one, I crash on the footpath,
live on the discarded crumbs out
the big restaurant in my city,
I'm not invoking pity in you--
Argumentum ad Misericordiam--
stating just the fact sir,
I believe in "Less is MOre"
and indeed I have less and I am happy
but what troubles me is her,
Ah! it's not that easy, I've heard
they don't take seriously unemployed guys,
Yes, sir, I may be wrong, but I don't want to
take any chance,
Life is not a life sir without her,

You can judge this in the tone
after I started tak]lking about her.
I love her dearly,
But who doesn't sir?
when they are young,
Odd Odyssey Poet Jun 2022
'Life is but a dream,' I question the value of it;
at the edge of life, the edge of time, the edge of our reality;
at the edge of this cliff, we edge ourselves to a falling death.
But what if the fall to our death is like a dream—falling into
a hole, gaining speed close to it's undersurface? We'd wake
up before we hit the ground.

But would I wake up in a cold sweat; or in tears, of longing to
find what lies in the somber of a deep hole? Maybe my soul?
Haha; it's outline must of been shaped by the mind's many dreams,
my child. For what good was it; in the spirit ties of it being lost in the world?  A world at times that doesn't feel as real:
but just a life of a dream.

So by this edge, clutched by the winds of background; hold your
breath before you and I jump. Time may, or may not slow in the
plunge to the valley's undersurface. Still perhaps, this all could be
a dream, and we'll both wake up before we hit the bottom.

Surely it must be, because I don't know a reality to be as brave
to commit such an act. Why pinch yourself, when you've been
pinched by pillars of salt in life—sourness and bitterness?

Oh my inner child, life is but a dream:
and soon we'll both wake up from it.
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