Ashe L Bennett Feb 2011

I don't remember, any more,
The exact shape of your hands
As I held them in mine,
Caressed them,
Memorized the length of your fingers,
The depth of your calluses.

I don't remember, any more,
Exactly your height, how much
Taller than me
You were, where
My head rested on your chest
When you held me tightly close.

I don't remember, any more,
Your scent, when we lay together
Creating our own
Magic rhythm,
Matching our heartbeats as we
Touched the sky, together.

I don't remember, any more,
The sound of your voice, calling
My name as though
It were a song
Within itself, a precious treasure
You valued with all your being.

And I don't remember, any more,
The color of your eyes, the shape
Of your lips,
Only...
How your eyes crinkled at the corners
And your laugh, as you told me,

"I love you."

Copyright by Ash L. Bennett, 2011

i will wade out
                        till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers
I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
                                       Alive
                                                 with closed eyes
to dash against darkness
                                       in the sleeping curves of my body
Shall enter fingers of smooth mastery
with chasteness of sea-girls
                                            Will i complete the mystery
                                            of my flesh
I will rise
               After a thousand years
lipping
flowers
             And set my teeth in the silver of the moon

Please master can I touch your cheeck
please master can I kneel at  your feet
please master can I loosen your blue pants
please master can I gaze at your golden haired belly
please master can I have your thighs bare to my eyes
please master can I take off my clothes below your chair
please master can I can I kiss your ankles and soul
please master can I touch lips to your hard muscle hairless thigh
please master can I lay my ear pressed to your stomach
please master can I wrap my arms around your white ass
please master can I lick your groin gurled with blond soft fur
please master can I touch my tongue to your rosy asshole
please master may I pass my face to your balls,
please master order me down on the floor,
please master tell me to lick your thick shaft
please master put your rough hands on my bald hairy skull
please master press my mouth to your prick-heart
please master press my face into your belly, pull me slowly strong thumbed
till your dumb hardness fills my throat to the base
till I swallow and taste your delicate flesh-hot prick barrel veined Please
Mater push my shoulders away and stare in my eyes, & make me bend over
        the table
please master grab my thighs and lift my ass to your waist
please master your hand's rough stroke on my neck your palm down to my
        backside
please master push me, my feet on chairs, till my hole feels the breath of
        your spit and your thumb stroke
please master make my say Please Master Fuck me now Please
Master grease my balls and hairmouth with sweet vaselines
please master stroke your shaft with white creams
please master touch your cock head to my wrinkled self-hole
please master push it in gently, your elbows enwrapped round my breast
your arms passing down to my belly, my penis you touch w/ your fingers
please master shove it in me a little, a little, a little,
please master sink your droor thing down my behind
& please master make me wiggle my rear to eat up the prick trunk
till my asshalfs cuddle your thighs, my back bent over,
till I'm alone sticking out, your sword stuck throbbing in me
please master pull out and slowly roll onto the bottom
please master lunge it again, and withdraw the tip
please please master fuck me again with your self, please fuck me Please
Master drive down till it hurts me the softness the
Softness please master make love to my ass, give body to center, & fuck me
        for good like a girl,
tenderly clasp me please master I take me to thee,
& drive in my belly your selfsame sweet heat-rood
you fingered in solitude Denver or Brooklyn or fucked in a maiden in Paris
        carlots
please master drive me thy vehicle, body of love drops, sweat fuck
body of tenderness, Give me your dogh fuck faster
please master make me go moan on the table
Go moan O please master do fuck me like that
in your rhythm thrill-plunge & pull-back-bounce & push down
till I loosen my asshole a dog on the table yelping with terror delight to be
        loved
Please master call me a dog, an ass beast, a wet asshole,
& fuck me more violent, my eyes hid with your palms round my skull
& plunge down in a brutal hard lash thru soft drip-fish
& throb thru five seconds to spurt out your semen heat
over & over, bamming it in while I cry out your name I do love you
please Master.

                                        May 1968

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

if i believe
in death be sure
of this
it is

because you have loved me,
moon and sunset
stars and flowers
gold crescendo and silver muting

of seatides
i trusted not,
                    one night
when in my fingers

drooped your shining body
when my heart
sang between your perfect
breasts

darkness and beauty of stars
was on my mouth petals danced
against my eyes
and down

the singing reaches of
my soul
spoke
the green-

greeting pale-
departing irrevocable
sea
i knew thee death.

                              and when
i have offered up each fragrant
night,when all my days
shall have before a certain

face become
white
perfume
only,
          from the ashes
then
thou wilt rise and thou
wilt come to her and brush

the mischief from her eyes and fold
her
mouth the new
flower with

thy unimaginable
wings,where dwells the breath
of all persisting stars

it may not always be so; and i say
that if your lips,which i have loved,should touch
another’s,and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart,as mine in time not far away;
if on another’s face your sweet hair lay
in such silence as i know,or such
great writhing words as,uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;

if this should be,i say if this should be—
you of my heart,send me a little word;
that i may go unto him,and take his hands,
saying,Accept all happiness from me.
Then shall i turn my face,and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands

Megan McClain Nov 2011

you don't understand at all do you
not truly
you think
I'm a liar
that I still hold the knife
that
stabbed you in the back
[and in the heart]

kinda speechless
that you feel that way
think that way
believe it
untrustworthy? misleading?
false emotions?
can you not read?
here let me try again
maybe I can make it like braille
feel the words

it's like when the clouds stormy eyes
welled up and let fall the
tears of weekend rain
soggy, we laughed along with the thunder
and under our waterfall we let the windows
fog
tell me I lied then

or picture if you will
standing by the tree I
always parked by
it was a starry night, but we didn't see it
we were too focused on our faces
except
why is it I was the only one
drowning in the sadness that overtook my eyes
shaking with each strained, choppy breath
clutching that gray shirt like a life jacket
do you think that was all
for show?

haven't you looked at
my collection of black and white
silly letters scribbled down as fast as possible
trying as hard as I can
to leave it all
on the paper
but it's as if each word I write
is a tattoo
slowly invading every part of my skin
it's sinking in, it's staining everything
do you think this agony I speak of
is fake?

if so
if I am that liar with the knife who
led you astray and "screwed you over"
let you down, kicked you around
if you can't seem to
open your eyes
and notice
just how much I love you
just how much I always have

then you don't deserve it

ill run miles for you when I know I only
have the strength for one
but don't you
dare
watch me run
if you don't even grasp
that I stabbed myself in the back
led myself astray

you have a right to
hate the wound
but if you can't see
what I feel
one day
I will learn
that I have to let go
and I will

then all these silly letters
all for you

well. go ahead and throw them away
on that day
they will carry no life
anymore

Claire Elizabeth Aug 2014

Dear J,
   I may be at a loss for words half the time, and the other half I might have too much to say, but I can almost always say this; I love you. I have felt fear and I have felt bravery and I have felt loss. I can look pictures of us and I can recall everything we did that day. I can listen to videos of you and I can tell what you felt. And I know that you didn't think I was paying attention, but I knew how you looked when you thought something was unfair. And I knew the look in your eyes when you saw the light just right in a sunset and you knew that nothing could ever be recreated quite like that. I felt the same way about you.
   Wherever you are, know that loving someone isn't a matter of feeling something or not feeling something. It's a matter of knowing what you're feeling and when you need to let go.
   I think that people know that letting go involves unfurling your fingers and watching something fall from a great height. It's the act of following that objects downward motion that gets to us. That once it meets the ground or whatever surface it is deemed to hit, it's gone. What was there is gone. And once you think about that you think of what could have been there. That one last touch, that one last feeling of bliss that comes with knowing that the moment you wake up the sun will be shining in rivulets through fingers that tangle in hair fresh off the pillow. It's sad to know that nothing like that will happen again.
   The sun won't shine the same way. Instead it may simply fall. It won't cascade, it won't flow over the edges of noses or smiling lips. It's the same way water may lose a stone from a riverbed and from there on after it doesn't run quite the same way. But another stone, another pebble will fall in place because replacement happens.
   I guess what I'm trying  to say, is that letting go is letting someone else take a spot. In order for something else to happen you have to let your joints move out of their grip and unfold from their hold on something that wasn't meant to be held by you anymore.
   Sometimes you have to let them land somewhere new.
I only hope that it's somewhere even more beautiful than before.
            Claire

Madison Jul 2013

There comes a day in your life where you meet someone special…
You try so hard not to admit it but you just can’t hold back the way you feel…
I like you.
You get all those feelings…
Those butterflies you can’t stomach,
That heart rate you can’t put at ease,
So baby …
Sweetheart with the beautiful smile. Sure, I loved sleep
But dreams couldn't compare
Not to talking to you until my mind screamed for rest
And the butterflies in my stomach settled
Darling with the endless amount of love…
your love could fill the oceans and climb the tallest trees,
but could your love belong to me someday?
Be given to me?
Can you feel the way I do for you?
& Boy, sometimes I tangle my own fingers
Closing my eyes, losing myself in a daydream
Where your voice is more than an echo in my mind
And I even believe for a few seconds you're still here
Lover, who writes me poems,
You should know I write you too.
I write about you until my fingers ache
And still after that I keep writing
Because there's just some people you could write about forever
And baby, you're one of them.
And boy who played me a song,
Sweet sounds bow down to my ears,
And the way you play your guitar…
& the way I daydream about kissing your lips...
I can’t wait until the sparks of your tongue burn my mouth
send electric shocks through my body
Cutie… with the funny jokes,
You make me laugh.
Today you made me laugh,
like you always do,
you’re the only one who can now a days.
Baby, with those sparkling eyes,
Your eyes haunt me whether I'm dreaming or not
And what haunts me more is the fact that
I can’t have you now
because you ruined it
It hurts to think about it,
So I have to block you out.
Play your songs to someone else,
Read your silly lines of heartache to someone else,
And go find… someone else.

Styles Jun 2016

Let me slide my velvet tongue
up and down
the insides of your milky way
until I find my path
that leads the way
to yours heavens
bet you moan the whole way
One soft touch
and your ambisions slipe away
your body trembles
as my fingers play;
high notes, low on your body
silent screams slowly slip away
our bodies
press their luck
like human nature,
its in our nature,
to play that way.
Our bodies colliding
deep inside, I'm subsiding
my hips bucking,
yours riding mine,
my fantasy
you and me
in Ecstasy.

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.

Megan Grace Nov 2012

my hands are tired from
having no purpose
so why don't you take
the load off and
slip your fingers through
mine

Drunk as drunk on turpentine
From your open kisses,
Your wet body wedged
Between my wet body and the strake
Of our boat that is made of flowers,
Feasted, we guide it - our fingers
Like tallows adorned with yellow metal -
Over the sky's hot rim,
The day's last breath in our sails.

Pinned by the sun between solstice
And equinox, drowsy and tangled together
We drifted for months and woke
With the bitter taste of land on our lips,
Eyelids all sticky, and we longed for lime
And the sound of a rope
Lowering a bucket down its well. Then,
We came by night to the Fortunate Isles,
And lay like fish
Under the net of our kisses.

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