the lady has me temporarily off the bottle
and now the pecker stands up
better.
however, things change overnight--
instead of listening to Shostakovich and
Mozart through a smeared haze of smoke
the nights change, new
complexities:
we drive to Baskin-Robbins,
31 flavors:
Rocky Road, Bubble Gum, Apricot Ice, Strawberry
Cheesecake, Chocolate Mint...

we park outside and look at icecream
people
a very healthy and satisfied people,
nary a potential suicide in sight
(they probably even vote)
and I tell her
"what if the boys saw me go in there? suppose they
find out I'm going in for a walnut peach sundae?"
"come on, chicken," she laughs and we go in
and stand with the icecream people.
none of them are cursing or threatening
the clerks.
there seem to be no hangovers or
grievances.
I am alarmed at the placid and calm wave
that flows about. I feel like a leper in a
beauty contest. we finally get our sundaes and
sit in the car and eat them.

I must admit they are quite good. a curious new
world. (all my friends tell me I am looking
better. "you're looking good, man, we thought you
were going to die there for a while...")
--those 4,500 dark nights, the jails, the
hospitals...

and later that night
there is use for the pecker, use for
love, and it is glorious,
long and true,
and afterwards we speak of easy things;
our heads by the open window with the moonlight
looking through, we sleep in each other's
arms.

the icecream people make me feel good,
inside and out.

If

If freckles were lovely, and day was night,
And measles were nice and a lie warn’t a lie,
Life would be delight,—
But things couldn’t go right
For in such a sad plight
I wouldn’t be I.

If earth was heaven and now was hence,
And past was present, and false was true,
There might be some sense
But I’d be in suspense
For on such a pretense
You wouldn’t be you.

If fear was plucky, and globes were square,
And dirt was cleanly and tears were glee
Things would seem fair,—
Yet they’d all despair,
For if here was there
We wouldn’t be we.

Alissa Rogers Mar 2012

The throbbing headache and nausea
I can endure; I've had worse.
Right now I could cry,
such a raw hope consumed me
as I thought about you, desperate.
It was still dark for me then,
when I needed you. Now it's day.
It brings a true smirk to my face
to know you are nothing more
than a night of binge drinking:
a foolish part of my youth,
a consequence of boredom.
I could not hold your liquor,
I vomited all that bile you said to me
in the hedges outside. Don't fret,
this is not a bad memory, in fact
you might never be a memory at all.
I am well. I will drink better and
far more dangerous poisons.
I am today, you are only last night.

Carrie Baker Feb 2011
Me

I have stood before you
                                    Smiling and loving
I have laid beside you
                                    Naked and blushing
I have knelt behind you
                                    Pleading and begging
I have cowered beneath you
                                   shaking and crying
I have closed my eyes
              bared my soul
              quenched my dreams
              lost my pride
but deep inside
( I now see)
Always me.
Always true
So unlike you

A work in progress...
Duck Oct 2012

Damaged people are dangerous because they know how to survive,
And if you've never been damaged you don't know how it feels to be alive,
See struggle is the sauce that gives success its flavour,
when life kicked you down it was doing you a favour.

Cos it's in your darkest hour, not in prosperity
that you will realise your true ability.
Life dunks you in deep waters not to drown you but to cleanse you.
And that's just the beginning of what it will put you through.
But it's chiselling you down, you won't deflate.
It's not wearing you thin, it's getting you to your fighting weight.
Prosperity makes monsters, adversity makes men.
I believe when you reach the top life will yank you back down again.

You didn't break down, you just had a flat tyre
so get back up and relight that fire.
keep it burning and churning at the pit of your heart
and keep on learning and yearning and never fall apart.

Stare life in the eyes
and say "no matter how many times
my spirit won't break if my drive never dies"
So throw me a burden I won't lose my composure,
It's for this very reason that life gave me shoulders.

Get better not bitter
This weather will wither
I'll turn wounds into wisdom
sadness into spirit
tears to tenacity
I will never quit it

Take a deep breath and concentrate your stare
because a road with no obstacles never took you anywhere.

Check out my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/duckforpope
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Or just send me a good ol' fashioned email: duckforpope@gmail.com

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not touch you
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
And it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth
As all things are filled with my soul
You emerge from the things
Filled with my soul
You are like my soul
A butterfly of dream
And you are like the word: Melancholy

I like for you to be still
And you seem far away
It sounds as though you are lamenting
A butterfly cooing like a dove
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not reach you
Let me come to be still in your silence
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
Distant and full of sorrow
So you would've died
One word then, One smile is enough
And I'm happy;
Happy that it's not true

Today for the first time in quite awhile,
upon my face grew a genuine smile.

It wasn't fabricated, it was honest and true
and when reality hit me I was left feeling blue.

I was so surprised, it was hard to even speak.
How long had it been? A month or a week?

My smile had faded as quickly as it grew,
but I know it'll be back the next time I think of you.

My head doctor told me I was "existentially depressed" which means I'm too aware of my emotions. Instead of just being happy, I'm too focused on the fact that I'm happy. When I genuinely smiled today, I became distracted by the fact that I couldn't remember the last time I smiled, so I immediately ruined the moment lol...thought I'd try to freestyle something about it. It didn't turn out well, it felt forced. I'll probably edit it later.
Styles Sep 2016

Text me your words
let them flash across my screen
picture them I may
imagining what they mean
wishful thinking coming true
is yet to be seen
the thoughts implied
paint a beautiful scene
these letters make you smile
in person they would make you scream
all these teasing you doing now may be funny
but, when karma comes around it will be in the from of me

howard brace Feb 2012

     Inconspicuous, his presence noted only by the obscurity and the ever growing number of spent cigarette stubs that littered the ground.  It had been a long day and the rain, relentless in its tenacity had little intention of stopping, baleful clouds still  hung heavy, dominating the lateness of the afternoon sky, a rain laden skyline broken only by smoke filled chimney pots and the tangled snarl of corroded television aerials.

     The once busy street was fast emptying now, the lure of shop windows no longer enticed the casual browser as local traders closed their premises to the oncoming night, solitary lampposts curved hazily into the distance, casting little more than insipid pools mirrored in the gutter below, only the occasional stranger scurrying home on a bleak, rain swept afternoon, the hurried slap of wet leather soles on the pavement, the sightless umbrellas, the infrequent rumble of a half filled bus, hell-bent on its way to oblivion.

     In the near distance as the working day ended, a sudden emergence of factory workers told Beamish it was 5-o'clock, most would be hurrying home to a hot meal, while others, for a quick drink perhaps before making the same old sorry excuse... for Jack, the greasy spoon would be closing about now, denying him the comfort of a badly needed cuppa' and stale cheese sandwich.  A subtle legacy of lunchtime fish and chips still lingered in the air, Jack's stomach rumbled, there was little chance of a fish supper for Beamish tonight, it protested again... louder.

     From beneath the eaves of the building opposite several pigeons broke cover, startled by the rattle as a shopkeeper struggled to close the canvas awning above his shop window.  Narrowly missing Beamish they flew anxiously over the rooftops, memories of the blitz sprang to mind as Jack stepped smartly to one side, he stamped his feet... it dashed a little of the weather from his raincoat, just as the rain dashed a little of the pigeons' anxiety from the pavement... the day couldn't get much worse if it tried.  Shielding his face, Jack struck the Ronson one more time and cupped the freshly lit cigarette between his hands, it was the only source of heat to be had that day... and still it rained.

     'By Appointment to Certain Personages...' the letter heading rang out loudly... 'Jack Beamish ~ Private Investigator...' a throat choking mouthful by any stretch of the imagination, thought Jack and shot every vestige of credulity plummeting straight through the office window and amidst a fanfare of trumpet voluntary, nominate itself for a prodigious award in the New Year Honours list.   Having formally served in a professional capacity for a well known purveyor of pickled condiments, who  incidentally, brandished the same patronage emblazoned upon their extensive range of relish as the one Jack had more recently purloined from them... a paid commission no less, which by Jack's certain understanding had made him, albeit fleeting in nature, a professional consultant of said company... and consequently, if they could flaunt the auspicious emblem, then according to Jack's infallible logic, so could Jack.  

     The recently appropriated letterhead possessed certain distinction... in much the same way, Jack reasoned, that a blank piece of paper did not... and whereas correspondence bearing the heading 'By Appointment' may not exactly strike terror into the hearts of man... unlike a really strong pickled onion, it nevertheless made people think twice before playing him for the fool, which sadly, Jack had to concede, they still invariably did... and he would often catch them wagging an accusing finger or two in his direction with such platitudes as... "watch where you put your foot", they'd whisper, "that Jack's a right Shamus...", and when you'd misplaced your footing as many times as Jack had, then he reasoned, that by default the celebrated Shamus must have landed himself in more piles of indiscretion than he would readily care to admit, but that wouldn't be quite accurate either, in Jack's line of work it was the malefactor that actually dropped him in them more often than not.

     A cold shiver suddenly ran down his spine, another quickly followed as a spurt of icy water from a broken rain spout spattered across the back of his neck, he grimaced... Jack's expression spoke volumes as he took one final pull from his half soaked cigarette and flicked it, amid an eruption of sparks against the adjacent brick wall.  Sinking further into the shadow he tipped his fedora against the oncoming rain, then, digging both hands deep within his pockets, he huddled behind the upturned collar of his gabardine... watching.

     It was times such as these when Jack's mind would slip back, in much the same way you might slip back on a discarded banana peel, when a matter of some consequence, or in particular this case the pavement, would suddenly leap up from behind and give the back of Jack's head a resoundingly good slapping and tell him to "stop loafing around in office hours... or else", then drag him, albeit kicking and screaming back into the 20th century.  This intellectual assault and battery re-focused Jack's mind wonderfully as he whiled away the long weary hours until his next cigarette; cup of tea, or the last bus home, his capacity to endure such mind boggling tedium called for nothing less than sheer bloody-mindedness and very little else... Beamish had long suspected that he possessed all the necessary qualifications.  

     Jack had come a long way since the early days, it had been a long haul but he'd finally arrived there in the end... and managed to pick up quite a few dirty looks along the way.  Whilst he was with the Police Constabulary... and it was only fair to stress the word 'with', as opposed to the word 'in'... although the more Jack considered, he had been 'with' the arresting officer, held 'in' the local Bridewell... detained at Her Majesties pleasure while assisting the boys in blue with their enquiries over a minor infringement of some local by-law that currently had quite slipped his mind at that moment.  Throughout this enforced leisure period he'd managed to read the entire abridged editions of Kilroy and other expansive works of graffiti exhibited in what passed locally as the next best thing to the Tate Gallery, whereupon it hadn't taken Jack very long to realise that it was always a good place to start if you wanted free breakfast, in fact the weeks bill of fare was tastefully displayed in vivid, polychromatic colour on the wall opposite... you just had to be au-fait with braille.
                            
     No matter how industrious Beamish laboured to rake the dirt there always appeared to be a dire shortage of gullible clients for Jack to squeeze, what would roughly translate as an honest crust out of, and although his financial retainer was highly competitive he understood that potential clients found it bewildering when grappling with the unplumbed depths of his monthly expense account, which would tend to fluctuate with the same unpredictability as the British weather, the rest of Jack's agenda revolved around a little shady moonlighting... in fact he'd happily consider anything to offset the remotest possibility of financial delinquency... short of extortion... which by the strangest twist was the very word prospective clients would cry while Jack beavered around the office with dust-pan and brush sweeping any concerns they may have had frantically under the carpet regarding all culpability of his extra-curricular monthly stipend... and they should remain assured at all times... as they dug deep and fished for their cheque books, and simply look upon it as kneading dough, which eerily enough was exactly the thick wedge of buttered granary that Jack had every intention of carving.

     Were there ever the slightest possibility that a day could be so utterly wretched, then today was that day, Jack felt a certain empathy as he merged with his surroundings... at one with nature as it were.  The rain, a timpani on the metal dustbin lids, by the side of which Beamish had taken up vigil, also taking up vigil and in search of a morsel was the stray mongrel, this was the third time now that he'd returned, the same apprehensive wag, yet still the same hopeful look of expectation in his eyes, a brief but friendly companion who paid more attention to Jack's left trouser leg than anything that could be had from nosing around the dustbins that day... some days you're the dog, scowled Beamish as he shook his trouser leg... and some days the lamppost, Jack's foot swung out playfully, keeping his new friend's incontinence at a safe distance, feigning indignance  the scruffy mongrel shook himself defiantly from nose to tail, a distinct odour of wet dog filled the air as an abundance of spent rainwater flew in all directions.   Pricking one ear he looked accusingly at Jack before turning and snuffled off, his nose resolutely to the pavement and diligently, picking out the few diluted scents still remaining, the poor little stalwart renewed its search for scraps, or making his way perhaps to some dry seclusion known only to itself.
  
     Two hours later and... SPLOSH, a puddle poured itself through the front door of the nearest Public House... SPLOSH, the puddle squelched over to the payphone... SPLOSH, then, fumbling for small change dialled and pressed button 'A'..., then button 'B'... then started all over again amid a flurry of precipitation... SPLASH.  The puddle floundered to the bar and ordered itself a drink, then ebbed back to the payphone again... the local taxi company doggedly refused to answer... finally, wallowing over to the window the puddle drifted up against a warm radiator amidst a cloud of humidity and came to rest... flotsam, cast upon the shore of contentment, the puddle sighed contentedly... the Landlady watched this anomaly... suspiciously.

     The puddle's finely tuned perception soon got to grips with the unhurried banter and muffled gossip drifting along the bar, having little else to loose, other than what could still be wrung from his clothing... Beamish, working on the principle that a little eavesdropping was his stock-in-trade engaged instinct into overdrive and casually rippled in their general direction...  They were clearly regulars by the way one of them belched in a well rehearsed, taken-a-back sort of way as Jack took stock of the situation and was now at some pains to ingratiate himself into their exclusive midst and attempt several friendly, yet relevant questions pertinent to his enquiries... all of which were skillfully deflected with more than friendly, yet totally irrelevant answers pertinent to theirs'... and would Jack care for a game of dominoes', they enquired... if so, would he be good enough to pay the refundable deposit, as by common consent it just so happened to be his turn...  Jack graciously declined this generous offer, as the obliging Landlady, just as graciously, cancelled the one shilling returnable deposit from the cash register, such was the flow of light conversation that evening... they didn't call him Lucky Jack for nothing... discouraged, Beamish turned back to the bar and reached for his glass... to which one of his recent companions, and yet again just as graciously, had taken the trouble to drink for him... the Landlady gave Jack a knowing look, Beamish returned the heartfelt sentiment and ordered one more pint.

     From the licenced premises opposite, a myriad of jostling customers plied through the door, business was picking up... the sudden influx of punters rapidly persuaded Beamish to retire from the bar and find a vacant table.  Sitting, he removed several discarded crisp packets from the centre of the table only to discover a freshly vacated ashtray below... by sleight of hand Jack's Ronson appeared... as he lit the cigarette the fragile smoke curled blue as it rose... influenced by subtle caprice, it joined others and formed a horizontal curtain dividing the room, a delicate, undulating layer held between two conflicting forces.

     The possibility of a free drink soon attracted the attention of a local bar fly, who, hovering in the near vicinity promptly landed in Jack's beer, Beamish declined this generous offer as being far too nutritious and with the corner of yesterdays beer mat, flipped the offending organism from the top of his glass, carefully inspecting his drink for debris as he did so.

     A sudden draught and clip of stiletto heels as the side door opened caused Beamish to turn as a double shadow slipped discreetly into the friendly Snug... a little adulterous intimacy on an otherwise cheerless evening.  The faceless man, concealed beneath a fedora and the upturned collar of his overcoat, the surreptitious lady friend, decked out in damp cony, cheap perfume and a surfeit of bling proclaimed a not too infrequent assignation, he'd seen it all before... the over attentive manner and the band of white, Sun-starved skin recently hidden behind a now absent wedding token, ordinarily it was the sort of assignment Jack didn't much care for... the discreet tail, the candid snapshot through half drawn curtains... and the all too familiar steak tartare... for the all too familiar black eye.

     To the untrained eye, the prospect of Jack's long anticipated supper was rapidly dwindling, when it suddenly focused with renewed vigour upon the contents of a pickled egg jar he'd observed earlier that evening, lurking on the back counter, his enthusiasm swiftly diminished however as the belching customer procured the final two specimens from the jar and proceeded to demolish them.  Who, Jack reflected, after being stood out in the rain all day, had egg all over his face now... and who, he reflected deeper, still had an empty stomach.  Disillusioned, Jack tipped back his glass and considered a further sortie with the taxicab company.

     "FIVE-BOB"!!! Jack screamed... you could have shredded the air with a cheese grater... hurtling into the kerb like a fairground attraction came flying past the chequered flag at a record breaking 99 in Jack's top 100 most not wanted list of things to do that day... and that the cabby should think himself fortunate they weren't both stretched flat on a marble slab, "exploding tyres" Jack spluttered, dribbling down his chin, were enough to give anyone a coronary... further broadsides of neurotic ambiance filled the cab as the driver, miffed at the prospect of missing snooker night out with the lads, considered charging extra for the additional space Jack's profanity was taking...

     And what part of 'Drive-Carefully', fumed Beamish, did the cabby simply not understand, that pavements were there to be bypassed, 'Nay Circumvented', preferably on the left... and not veered into, wildly on the front axle... an eerie premonition of 'jemais-vu' perched and ready to strike like a disembodied Jiminy Cricket on Jack's left shoulder, looking to stick its own two-penny worth in at the 'Standing-Room-Only' arrangements in the overcrowded cab... and at what further point, Jack shrieked, eyes leaping from his head as he lurched forward, shaking his fist through the sliding glass partition, had the cabbie failed to grasp the importance of the word 'Steering-Wheel...' someone wanted horse whipping, and as far as Beamish was concerned the sole contender was the cab driver...

     In having a somewhat sedate and unruffled disposition it had fallen to Beamish... as befalls all great leaders in times of adversity, to single handedly take the bull by the horns, so to speak and at great personal cost, alert the unwary passing motorist...  Waving his arms about like a man possessed whilst performing acrobatic evolutions in the centre of the road as the cabby changed the wheel came whizzing around the corner at a back breaking 98 on Jack's ever growing list... and why, Jack puzzled, why had they all lowered their side windows and gestured back at him in semaphore..?  Rallying to its aid, Jack's head and shoulders now joined his shaking fist through the sliding glass partition and into the cabby's face, "Who" Beamish screeched with renewed vigour ,"Who Was The Man", Jack wanted to know... "and Who-o..." by this time the cabby considered his passenger was asking far too many questions for his own good but said little as he left the meter clocking up the additional fare... "Who-o risked his neck for brother man...", before eventually flagging down a breakdown patrol motorcyclist... only to discover that the cab company wasn't a member, "Who's Fault Was That", screamed Beamish... and that he had choice words to say if ever he crossed that mobile mechanic again, that definitely was not the regulation salute he was required to give, anyway Jack had no intention of paying the cab fare and said as much... and as for a gratuity, No-ooo... that didn't bare thinking about, he'd sooner have his leg chewed off by a rabid Aardvark, no... it was the taxicab company who should be doling out danger money... and plenty of it...  

     With an air of indignation Jack dislodged himself from the glass partition... stormed out of the cab and up the garden path... then stormed back down again, leaving the bemused cabby in no uncertain doubt that he'd by no means finished before storming back, only this time up his own garden path, leaving the red faced driver spluttering in sheer bewilderment.

     Fumbling for his keys Jack let himself in through the front door and promptly stumbled over several weeks mail and the undisputed title-holder of the 'Spiteful Cat Championship Cup' who, having taken a shine to basking on the summit several days earlier was incensed by this sudden intrusion and flew lickety-split full across the hallway, then, recoiling off the hat-stand, hurtled straight back, a malicious ball of thrashing barbs and razor wire.  In attempting to fend off, with only minor mutilation his second contender of the evening Jack noticed his slipper... the other he recalled was still on the kitchen floor where he'd abandoned it earlier that morning, it being worn at the time by a bluebottle, the troublesome insect had been bouncing against the window pane so frenziedly, presumably wishing to let itself out and take the morning air, that it cracked ... oddly enough, so did the fly, at the precise instant Jack's size 9 ceased hurtling through the kitchen void.  Cheerfully, Jack retrieved his slipper and scraped the deceased blowfly into the peddle-bin, 'Game, Set and Match'.

     He'd had a restless night, insomnia didn't help, neither did the persistent monotony of the bedside alarm clock... now any suggestion that it grow wings and take flight would have appealed to Jack at that precise moment as he pictured it touching down on its first solo flight against a distant wall... or should evolving wings be too millennial at such short notice, then Beamish would be only too happy to lend a helping hand and accommodate its transition in achieving the dizzying heights of being at oneness with the bedroom decor... opposite.

     Laying there Jack took stock of the previous day, he recalled the rain sodden fedora weighing heavily upon his mind, he remembered it giving him headache, he recalled the friendly mongrel, he remembered his left trouser leg.  Jack had been down on his luck more times than he could care to remember of late... yesterday had been no exception... sure, he'd had differences of opinion with cabbies before now, disparaging ones, but last night had really taken the biscuit... and that Jack would be giving the cab company a tasty mouthful of it later that morning...  As the rain finally took a well earned breather, so the incessant chatter of the dawn chorus began, Jack screamed... so did the alarm clock... a new day began.

     It would be a little unfair to say the day had started out on the wrong foot... it was nowhere near that lucky... but rather stepped on an upturned thumb tack instead, and witnessed a very exasperated Beamish hopping mad and wrangling on the telephone, being harangued as it happened by a taxicab manager... not 'the' taxicab manager you may have anticipated, whose company logo he'd completely forgotten to take note of, but the 'wrong' taxicab manager, the local business who directory enquires utterly failed to locate for the most obvious of reasons, Jack didn't have its name...  The long suffering switchboard operator patiently enquired as to whether Jack was inviting her to participate in some new game of deduction she had previously been in deficit of, or did Beamish believe her to have the gift of second sight... in which case, should she manage to locate her crystal ball then she would be only too delighted to return Jack's call with the ethereal telephone number, or perhaps he would prefer telepathy instead and that the choice was his...  Beamish thanked her for her professional sarcasm and suggested she might consider a change of career upon more distant shores, Jack then spent the following hour trawling through the subscriber listings before drawing up a short-list, and as painstakingly methodical as ever, he ducked.

     "Yes... yes... no, well maybe not, no ... n-no, well don't let it happen again then ... Good-Day". Beamish replaced the handset, badly trapping his fingers in the process... wrong number.   Gingerly, dusting off the palms of his hands Jack studied the list once again, then took one last stab at pinning the tail firmly back on the donkey... who promptly lashed back and kicked him full in the face.  In the distance, a rumble of thunder foretold the day bode anything but well.

     That afternoon discovered Beamish back in the same dining establishment he hadn't quite managed to be in the day before... Never to be mistaken for a 'More~Tea~Vicar' tearoom, with gingham tablecloths, pretty maids in severe black skirt and matching top uniforms... with white pinafore, bob-caps and Irish lace accessories, but rather a 'sugar yer own tea with a spoon on a chain, screwed permanently to the counter with a 6 inch nail...' Pit-Stop... with complimentary cigarette ash bobbing cheekily on top.  Beamish felt thoroughly at home, it added a certain flamboyance, he determined, to the locale...

     A distinct lack of ashtrays, the absence of which invited the casual smoker to exploit the threadbare linoleum to its utmost possible advantage and lent a certain minimalist feel to the joint, cosy, yet austere... exhibiting great artistic indifference and real back breaking restraint in the petty cash department.  The various mostly empty condiments and communal sugar bowl, stuck firmly to the counter with generous remains of yesterdays 'All-Day-Breakfast' further added to its dash of individuality, it crossed Jack's mind that the outdoor washing facilities were just as individual, giving off the robust and invigorating odour of carbolic San-Izal and a non too subtle hint that having finished whatever it was that you were doing there in the first place, the customer shouldn't loiter.  

     The unshaven proprietor glanced briefly up at the clock, a nondescript grunt emerged from some uncharted region whose geography Jack surmised... as a further contribution of cigarette ash took the plunge and joined its siblings skinny-dipping in the murky depths of the recently unwashed frying pan below, was best left to those with a good working knowledge of Cartography.  Of indeterminate age, he was a man of relatively ample and oily circumference, the few hairs still remaining appeared hastily groomed with some questionable residue you might possibly unearth in the greasier, more remote recesses of the kitchen peddle-bin.  Still in bedroom slippers, his outgoing distinctiveness was further marked by a deficiency of soap powder and the jaunty demeanour of his string vest,  it was his lower extremities however, festooned in snappy, a-la-mode dog-tooth check that finally brought the stunning ensemble to a breath taking conclusion.

     While Jack queued in line to be ignored at, and then have his order casually brushed aside with a...  "if it ain't up on the board chum, then we ain't gorrit..."  then have a tired sandwich, not necessarily of his own choosing, thrown at him by way of compromise, he considered the previous mornings bluebottle would really have hit the big time here, what you might call 'Cabaret au' Slipper' and with all the ambiance of a smoke filled jazz cellar, the venue would've caused eruptions within the Industrial North's show-biz circles.  As the jukebox thumped out loudly in the background... "Papa's got a brand new bag..." "Awww", Jack was rather of the opinion that the now otherworldly fly was striking some new and exclusive rites-of-passage with 'The Almighty' and could be launching its latest debut appearance in the Performing Arts as early as a week next Tuesday, or as long as gestation, or reincarnation would allow, Jack speculated as to whether it would need a road manager or not, one who was worldly in ways of the 'slipper...'

     The day, pretty much as any other trudged wearily on from one sodden rain cloud to the next... Rained off and sat in the same Public House as the previous evening, Jack ordered a pie and a pint while he carefully peeled the racing pages apart from the newspaper he'd purchased earlier for that weeks events at the local racetrack.  The previous evenings taxicab number, once prominently displayed by the payphone was now, strangely enough only to be noted by its absence... whereabouts unknown... and despite all Jack's efforts to the contrary, had little intention of reappearing anytime soon.  The business cards mysterious departure deeply troubled Jack's finely honed powers of deduction as it bore many similarities to his own long overdue expenses, which apparently had little intention of appearing anytime soon either, presumably choosing to 'bunk-off' and go steeplechasing instead.  

     Whilst other far flung people cruised in the cabriolet of a much sunnier clime, unhurried England having nowhere in particular to go, bumbled along in the slow lane, beneath what could only be described as a whirlpool of depression you would normally associate with the BBC shipping forecast for coastal areas... Viking, Rockall and Cromarty, today was one such maelstrom which to its credit was taking squarely on the chin every weather-beaten punch the sky could possibly throw at it... from a refreshing, 'quick morning spar in the bathroom washbasin', to a more exhilarating ,'brisk and vigorous workout under a mid-afternoon shower', then at the final bell, an out for the count 'three coins in the fountain' bath night.

     The three day racing event had witnessed the worst turnout since records began, the outside camera crews, refusing to leave the warm... yet more importantly, dry interior of the mobile studio and put in an appearance, threatened work-to-rule, with menaces and not too dissimilar to the weather... lightening strikes... opting to play Five's and Three's instead over toasted crumpets and a steaming mug of Bovril.  The going had been soft-to-poor the previous day, then rallying its forces throughout the night to become what could very easily be mistaken for  quagmire-to-quicksand... now this should have spurred the promoters to throw in the towel at their earliest convenience and abandon the race meeting outright, but the event, not wishing to be eclipsed by the latest weather front was fast developing into an out-take of the Oxford boat race and had every intention of storming to victory, crossing the finishing line by nothing less than three lengths.

     The final event of the day was coming under starters orders, having made one breathtaking loss after the other, Jack, casting all caution to the wind... in much the same way it seemed as his latest client, was now going all out for broke...  'Aweeeee-screeech'... wailed the commentary box loudspeakers "Aand-they're-off..."  "its-Captain-Clueless-coming-up-on-th­e-i­nsi­de and..." "Oh...  "aand-he's-fallen-at-the-first-fence..." "what-a-spectacular humiliation..." and so it continued...  It had been a fun packed day, Jack fumed, as he clenched a handful of betting slips in his fist and brandished them skywards... simply one great whopping success story after the other, Jack felt certain the same heartfelt sentiments would be leaping through the jockey's mind as the stretcher bearers carted him off towards the St. John's Ambulance  first aid tent.  Captain Clueless meanwhile, playing to the crowd and his newly acquired fan base gambolled off in a frolicsome, catch-me-if-you-can sort of way and in the general direction of a brisk rub down and well earned nosebag... his handlers sliding in hot pursuit.  Jack tore up his betting slips... Jack tore them up some more and littered the visitors paddock, as the confetti floated downstream you could almost catch them gurgling a cheerful little tune to themselves... someone, Jack thought, had to keep the ground stewards employed...

     No... barter was definitely out and as far as bad debts went, accepting a clients moped in lieu of payment was no exception, and yet it had seemed quite pointless to offer a continued service when Jack's unerring instinct once again informed him that to unearth the cause of his clients mysterious insolvency would be to discover something to Jack's distinct financial disadvantage.  Having finally worked free from the hysterics and the desperation with which the impoverished client had clutched at Jack's shirt collar, Beamish wished him bonne-chance and for him to remain assured throughout these troubled times, that should Jack be of further assistance in shouldering any further burden his former client may encounter, then he should be sure to seize the moment with both hands... not too dissimilar to  Jack's crumpled shirt collar... and accept his personal card as an insignificant token of their continued association... they parted company.  Although Jack found his former sponsors death-rattle touching, he considered the fervour in which he displayed it a little excessive, when a simple handshake would have served the same purpose in relieving him of his wristwatch... business, after all, was business.

     A positive outlook in all things, Jack reassured himself for the third time that day since his latest cash-cow had abruptly dried up... and in looking upon every fat pocketbook that fell by the wayside as a potential source of unearned income, a good Samaritan, Jack reasoned, would be offering no disservice in taking upon his own shoulders the straw that was breaking the poor, unfortunate creature's back... and give the poor defenceless animal a helping shove, so to speak, head first through the eye of the proverbial needle... and straight into Jack's superannuated pension scheme... "hallelujah".

     Whereas a pessimist would behold a glass half empty set before them... an optimist, one that was brimming half full, then Beamish would feast his eyes upon a foaming tankard, one filled to capacity with every fermented delight that Jack's indulgent taste-buds could ever be prevailed upon to imbibe.  Of all the plum pies that Jack had his thumbs stuck into... up to the elbows in fact... was one five-star hors-d'oeuvre that would ordinarily send your average County Court Judgement diving for cover in last week's wastepaper basket, then, while the bailiff's were running around like headless chickens, pointing accusing fingers at anyone but themselves as to who'd forgotten to get the legality notarised, then Jack would simply roll his sleaves up and get stuck in, sending all future incriminating disbursements scurrying in the opposite direction, straight into Jack's Cayman-islands tax haven account...

     Were it not for Jack's keen sense of business acumen and a very strong sense of British fair play then Beamish could almost feel sorry for his clients, so sorry in fact that for a mere bagatelle, currently running at five per-cent above inflation... plus commission, Beamish would bring full weight to bear, and for a further modest monthly consideration, make the problem disappear permanently... for a further modest month.  Jack didn't particularly see this as skimming cream from the top of the churn, but rather as breaking into the dairy farming industry and in direct competition with the Milk Marketing Board.

     "Hit the road Jack, Hit the road Jack and don't you come back..." Shut-Up!   Shut-Up!!  Shut-Up!!!  Shut-Up!!!!  screamed Beamish, that jingle was just begging for trouble as the lyrics chirruped on... "no more,  no more,  no more,  no more..." it harmoniously re-joined, limbering up for the next prophetic verse.   Now barking his ankle on the kick-start had been comparatively simple, if not painful compared to the mind numbing complexity of vaulting on or off without tripping the ejector seat, which was also mind numbingly painful and "Hit the road Jack and..."after ripping the seat out of his second pair of trousers that morning, "...don't you come back no mo-o-o-ore" it wailed, seemingly without a care in Creation... and badly needed screwing down, "what you say..?", the song further enquired... badly needed screwing down.  One hour, and an entirely different song later, having explored the extensive array of oil leaks which had apparently resolved any rust problems the moped may have had were also at odds with Jack's willingness to remit blood money to the Petro-Chemical Industry's prodigious profit margins.

     She'd been popping in and out of Jack's mind for sometime now, in much the same way that a friendly neighbour might pop around to borrow a bowl of sugar... well, she could have kept the sugar bowl... and the china tea service that accompanied it just so long as Jack got an invitation to coffee mornings... when, out of the corner of one eye she stood, as though in a golden haze waiting to cross the road, arms folded, a look of pure contempt waxed lyrical, her dainty foot tapping out a military tattoo... quick time when SMACK...  also with utter contempt, only on this occasion for the Highway Code, a speeding wasp slammed straight into the corner of Jack's other eye.  

     Having had just about all  the excitement they could take for one day the now unfettered handlebars finally took matters into their own hands as the moped lurched wildly from one side to the other... and with it lent a whole new sequence of choreography to the expression 'do the Bossa-Nova...' just where were the emergency services when you needed them, Jack's panic stricken senses demanded... he would definitely be pressing charges, then it occured that no, he definitely would not, he didn't hold a motorcycle licence for one thing... which came limping around the corner with a Doctor's sick note third from last in Jack's top 100 most wanted as the jitterbugging moped, frantically looking for someone to mark its dance card struggled to Trip the Light Fantastic solo... nor was he Road Taxed, now that he came to think about it, or Insured for that matter... but it was most certainly a Hit and Run.

     As a matter of some interest, and so as not to get too bogged down over the finer points of where to lay the blame, Jack had absolutely no control whatsoever over the teeth rattling chain of events that were currently raining down about his ears that afternoon, nor did he feel anything other than sheer, abject terror as the moped continued pitching wildly from side to side before plunging into the nearest pothole, thereby performing the nasal vasectomy that brought far more than tears to Jack's bloodshot eyes as it propelled him... "Aaaargh..." over the front mudguard... nor indeed the prodigious feats of derring-do as he selflessly placed the welfare of his underwear above life and limb... but it was Jack's unrehearsed double axel as he cartwheeled unrehearsed through the air in a majestic spiral of arms and legs that finally swept her, the object of Jack's undying infatuation, albeit head on, completely off her feet, after all... how could a girl possibly refuse.  

     The Panel awarded best overall score to the moped, receiving an impressive  5-5,  5-6,  5-6  for Freestyle Jive and amid a standing ovation at first curtain call performed double back somersaults down the road as encore... the aerobic wasp, looking to catapult itself onto prime time television and certain stardom took a well deserved Second for creative interpretation and its extravagant use of the pirouette... while Beamish, for whom the Judges' 'to-a-man' were of one accord over Jack's imaginative application of the English language and with unanimous nods of resentment promptly disqualified him...  If nothing else, Jack surmised, it would certainly be a talking point, something to while away the long Winter evenings together, time would simply fly by...  

     With her foot tapping the same military two-step as earlier, the object of Jack's undying affection glared down at him and began opening her mouth, then thought better of it and simply sneered instead... "Dello", a nasally challenged Beamish sniffled as he peeled himself from the asphalt, "wodda lubly subrize... vancy meedin ooo agaid do dood", Jack squeezed a gelatinous blob of hemoglobin from his neck-tie by way of an impromptu chat up line before dabbing his nose once more with the congealing strip of fabric... thinking it far more judicious to use the softly-softly approach rather than slap her on the back and invite her out for a pint... that would come later, "do ooo um ere ovden" he rambled on unabashed, fumbling with the sodden item of neckwear as in a last ditch attempt to impress, Jack was going all out to kick the scattered remains of his former mode of embarrassment discreetly under the tarmac.

     YES!!!  he'd finally struck gold... it wasn't quite the cosy 'Mills and Boon' coffee morning Jack might have wished for... true, nor even a romantic 'Allison and Busby' bag of chips to go... shared between two no hopers on a balmy Summer's evening, but nonetheless it was a date, of sorts...  9.30 for 10 a.m. sharp, so the Summons read, at the Magistrate's Sessions in the County Court Assizes.  Jack arrived quite early that morning, clean shaven and sporting a fresh elastoplast in anticipation of an amicable tete'-a-tete' with the Plaintiff, before an equally amicable head-to-head with the Magistrate.   Opting to conduct his own defence, the Court Usher finally summoned Jack,  who was led under caution to the dock and... thirty minutes later... "Harrumph" the Justice cleared his throat for the final onslaught...

     And what part of 'Drive-Carefully' the Magistrate spluttered, did Beamish not understand... that potholes were there to be bypassed, 'Nay Circumvented' preferably either side... and not pitched into, wildly on the nose...  the disembodied shadow of deja-vu sat unconcernedly with its feet crossed upon Jack's left shoulder, munching away at a cheese and pickle on rye whilst it warmed to the idea of sticking the boot in this time, rather than use piddling small change... meanwhile, sitting at a neighbouring table the bewildered Stenographer broke into her second mid-life crisis that morning, giving rise to further withering glares from the Clerk-to-the-Court as to where the precipitous mountain of bread crumbs, inexplicably cascading over the Courtroom Proceedings were coming from... And at what further point, the Magistrate shrieked, his eyes leaping from his head as he lurched forward brandishing the gavel over the Bench and straight into Jack's face, had Beamish failed to grasp the importance of the word 'Highway Code...', someone was about to get the book thrown at them and as far as the Magistrate was concerned, the sole malcontent was Beamish.

     Subsequent to the Magistrates final ruling Beamish was awarded a £15 endorsable fine, suspended until such time as Jack actually possessed a motorcycle licence of his own... and no, a television licence would not do, plus a further £15 for contempt of court... and the penalties mounted... £15 for failure to display valid road tax... £15 for non compliance of mandatory motor vehicle indemnity... and that the Defendant should think himself lucky that the Petitioner did not wish to pursue the matter further... and it didn't stop there, he wasn't the registered keeper and he should have been, £15... driving without due care, £15... and for lack of attention... yet an additional £15, Jack wished the Magistrate would stop stuttering and call an early recess for lunch as the gavel struck the block one last time... "SOLD", shouted Jack, to the gentleman with the rosy nos... "and another £15" screamed the red faced Beak as he tipped backwards in his chair...

     The barometer continued to plummet at breakneck speed and had been doing so single-handedly since well before dawn, which Jack, after an arduous day took to be a leisurely 11 a.m. going on noon and Beamish was doing what Beamish apparently did best... he was stood in the rain... Jack then called upon the local theatrical costumier before visiting a well known High Street retailer masquerading as the Gas meter reader and with an HB pencil stuck behind his ear, how could Jack's infallible plan possibly fail...  

     Clawing his way back through the vast, cobweb infested labyrinth of cellars and musty passageways, only to re-emerge into the cheerless light of day under the pretence of having just read the gas meter, a heavily begrimed Beamish who, still incognito, could now be found queuing in the staff canteen for his complimentary cup of tea, when... "oh" she said, "it's you again... I didn't know you worked for the Gas Board, I thought you were an assassin..." and ",why are you covered in cobwebs... is it camouflage?" and that was it, the ice had been broken... her name it transpired was Jenny Bartleby, so the insignia on her pinafore explained and that she'd obviously been playing Jack at his own game for some time, now they could presumably go at it hammer and tongs from that moment on... and would she care for lunch... Jack's off-the-cuff invitation was hardly the offer of a lifetime, yet sprang straight into action nonetheless... and it had to be better than a Smokey Joe's stale cheese sandwich of former acquaintance... whilst Jack was offering a freshly grated cheese and pickle sandwich with fries, the fact that she'd be making it herself, Jack concluded, was neither here nor there... If, she persisted, if he really wanted to show a girl a good time then that was just fine by her... but he was going about it entirely the wrong way if... if he insisted on being such a cheapskate... then turning her attention to the back counter she started grating cheese.

     "There's a vacant table in the corner" she said, "over by the window" gesturing vaguely with her tray "we can sit there if you like", but there again if he didn't like, then that was equally fine by her... he could simply leave and no doubt bump into her at some future date, should he still fancy his chances involving her in a second near fatal incident... in which case her uncle, Magistrate and eminent top criminal advocate of 'Bartleby, Belladonna & Bromide', Barristers-at-Law, to whom Beamish, she was pleased to recall, had been formally introduced during their previous skirmish would be at no uncertain pains to ensure that he made every aspect of Jack's life from that moment on a pure living nightmare as he systematically set about stripping Beamish of every last brass farthing he possessed... Jack's undisclosed Cayman-islands bank account being no exception.  Her uncle's predisposition for judicial larceny, she firmly assured him, knew no bounds within the precedents of legal jurisprudence... and that she was currently employed, if he really must know, choking back a giggle as she cleared her throat, by the local Municipal Constabulary... she dunked into a dollop of ketchup and nibbled thoughtfully on a fried chip, "working undercover" she explained... having the time of her life... "in the staff canteen as a freelance Sous-Chef operative," and that it was all very hush-hush stuff and would probably breach the Official Secrets Act were she to say more... and that if Beamish continued to break her cover as he had been doing of late... and dipped his nose any further into matters that didn't concern him, then Jack's already traumatised nasal membrane would shortly be submitting weekly time-sheets... which as luck would have it came tearing across the finishing line and took a triumphant, champagne popping first in Jack's personal top 100 most wanted... and that yes, leaning over and giving Jack a quick peck on the cheek, she would accept a drink after work... if Jack was paying.

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7117 ish.

Imperfect Desire Mar 2015

Am I the only one that has their demons feasting upon their souls?
They say it is easy to tie a noose around your mind,
To overcome the urges and temptations of ending your life with a suicide
They don't know the true pain and torment that is going on in my head
An epic battle that leaves me with restless nights in bed
"End your life already" they say, as they prey on me during my weakest hours
Sometimes I give into the voices, carrying the sharp blade to my wrist
Crying as I struggle to mutter three powerful words that keeps me going
Choking on my sobs, my lungs deflate with a desire to say that God loves me
I try to convince myself that God is trying to test my faith
And to just wait, wait and wait
Then my Demons will eventually go AWAY.....



~Imperfect Desire xx

ZinaLisha Nov 2014

watch her eyes
because they're watching you
her eyes are spies
secrets they know to be true

watch her eyes
creep into her head
watch her closely
before she's dead

You have the right to love
and be loved as well.
The right to, not just break but, shatter from your shell.
Run free, run proud
sing to me and sing it loud.
Slacks and dresses spinning and twirling,
backs and arms bending and curling.
Dance like the puppets do
not seeing the strings touching you.

please puppet master loosen your grip
please god let his hand slip


Listen to me love theres no need
for the begging and the pleeding,
theres no reason for the weeping and the bleeding.
Never stray from whats true in your heart
and like a soft candle light,
it will guide you through the dark.

Now I've spoke with your master
it's not such a disaster,
he told me with no laughter,
"No one will ever out last her."

But the grey sky above has killed my sense of love
and with so much to talk about
but nothing left to say,
I bit my tongue
and just walked away.

Andrew Switzer Jun 2015

Opia. Noun. The ambiguous intensity of looking into someone's eyes, which can fell simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.

As you lie in my arms, watching the television, you don't notice that my undivided attention is focused on you. Something I've been dreaming of for weeks, and it's finally come true. Even better, from your angle, you can't see me staring into your eyes, so I don't feel the nervous compulsion to turn away. Whether directly or not, I could drink in your eyes with mine, for hours, and they would be among the best hours of my life.
Then there's the other hand, held tightly by trepidation. I love the prospect of your eyes staring into mine, but it's not without its fears. I'm afraid you'll see all the pain and fears that I've spent the past seven years working to overcome. I'm afraid you'll see all the insecurity and doubts I have about myself. I'm afraid you'll see all the words that I long to whisper in your ear, but can't, because I'm terrified of scaring you away. I'm afraid you won't like the fact that, behind these eyes lies only pictures and thoughts of you. But most of all, I'm afraid that, unlike me, who loves every detail, and lives for moments like these, you won't love the things you see. I long for the day when you stare happily into my eyes, but I'm frightened that you won't enjoy the secrets they reveal.

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