I’m itching to write, as if I were presented with a scab that has remained forever unpickable. I crave to write and write and have this pencil glide from page to page to scroll to keyboard, from material to technological, my words shall keep speaking. Kingdoms of two meter waves, rosie autumns, misty minds, suffering, hoping for catharsis. I crave to write about this whole existence, the earth and all the systems within it, and of course, the systems within and of course, the unknown, when we turn the lights off. In this little controversial mind of mine, I shall clear some space for a little writing laboratory. Test tubes and microscopes, sieves, gloves and the whole lot. You see it’s a science. One must first dip themselves into the waters of imagination, with gloves, carefully extract samples from different kingdoms: darkness, despair, adrenalin, jealousy (and we usually go for the nastier ones, harder to grab, more likely to bite your finger). And once you’re back from that expedition, you examine them under a microscope, these little twitching encapsulated potentials. With some wit and pincers, you tie them together to form a little world of yours, where gravity might be slightly different. Another warning: you can’t really control when these urges to dive into these creative, inviting, dangerous waters will come. Whether your head rests on a pillow, hair relaxed, body decompressing for sleep, or whether you’re at a coffeeshop, or on a rollercoaster, this urge simply does not care. You’re thrown into your diving suit and pushed into your subconscious synovial fluid. Down under there, the sky varies often, blanketed by the indigo wine and occasional lighting strikes. You might find some familiar structures, bits of picked up memories. You might find grieving faces- suppressed pain never nurtured. Now… I don’t want to spoil your exploration nor uncover too much of myself in this. All I can say is, remember to take your backpack.
Today, my brother swam in the ocean for the first time in a year. The water was frigid and licked our toes maliciously, tempting us to dive in and merge with the fish. We entered at the same time, and immediately sprinted metres away from the shore. The burn of our muscles fought the tingling cold. With our laboured breaths, we streamlined in and out of the salty water, eyes agape, trying to make shapes through the fog of our goggles. The underwater realm was turquoise, but of a dark tint: the clouds were to blame for this, as they stood above us, troubled and stormy. Yet, the sea was just as calm and welcoming. It took us under its battered blankets of algae and mossy rocks. The pebbles and dark algae armies seemed incredibly alive beneath our floating bodies. Occasionally, big boulders would rise above others, so we would plant our feet on their welcome mats and rise above sea level, looking for the shore like kings. Leo placed both feet and a slipping hand over a rock, and climbed it.
“That yellow, huge box-shaped buoy, behind the smaller red ones…”
He bent forward, slightly swaying like a lanky tree to the force of the tide. “Let’s swim there,” he mumbled, and threw his body back into the ocean.
Wordlessly, I glanced for a second at the yellow blob in the distance. I spit in my glasses, rinsed them twice, and tailed him. Minutes later, we both stopped, and the big yellow buoy, probably the size of both of us, remained just as far. I overtook my brother, then realised he had stopped.
“You’re coming, right?” I inquired.
“No, I’m scared.”
And so I watched his back hunch over the water and each node of his spine dip back into the sea like a while after having come up for air. He swam back towards the shore, and I followed him too.
Half an hour later, we’re both back in the water. We rented two kayaks and we were ready to go looking for jellyfish, like the year before.
“Left or right?” I yelled in front of me.
“Let’s go left, then,” I replied to myself.
Nonetheless, we both ended up drifting to the right. Like falcons searching for preys, we looked for lighter spots in the ocean: sand not populated by the algae, better for finding jellyfish. Having caught a glint of bright blue at the bottom of the sea, we both dipped our heads underwater like ostriches. It turned out to be a piece of plastic. We were expecting to find the big blue jellyfishes from last year. And as we pedalled, we realised that we had reached the big yellow buoy. Out of nowhere, a sense of satisfaction and closure filled my heart. But what truly took me aback was the low thumping that came from around the buoy. I circled around it further, to then gather that the soft humming actually came from inside it. As we leaned forward, with our kayaks uneasily tiptoeing forth, we picked up the melody of a song. The discrete music seemed to vibrate all over the surface of the buoy.
“It must come from the beach, they probably have strong speakers…” Leo mumbled.
But we both knew his assumption was a rather scarce attempt at covering up what was truly happening before us. And as we came full circle around the box-like buoy, we found a small circular window near the water surface, half engulfed by sticky moss. A thin rod poked out of a tiny hole from the window. I pressed my face to it, and saw an old little crumpled man holding a record player. He sat cross-legged, spine bent over, and was completely naked. His skin shone, as moist as an amphibian, and his wrinkled, swollen eyes were closed. In that tiny enclosed space, he somehow still managed to sway slightly to the music’s beat, as if his body were part of the music itself. His beard and hair cascaded over his whole skeletal body in cataracts, reflecting shades of faded brown and grey from the scarce sunlight that filtered through. Before we both decide whether to knock on the window, our kayaks crashed with force against the buoy, and the strong wind opened the window wide. The little man stopped the music and looked directly into my eyes, as my face contorted in shock and embarrassment.
“Well, hello.” His voice was melodious, and flowed like liquid. Yet, there was something to it that made it remain slightly inhuman. He pulled the fishing rod back in and stashed it behind him. At the same time, I noticed his thorax did not expand or contract to breathe.
I struggled to find an explanation. So my brother did, from behind me and remaining hidden.
“What are you doing here?” He asked.
“I’m living. What else?”
“How long have you been here?”
“Oh, a long, long time, my dears. I can’t really truly remember how I came to be here…”
He squinted at my face and I moved back slightly.
“What did you say your name was again?” he asked.
Before I could reply, he checked his watch and swiftly pulled out the fishing rod from behind him. I was surprised there was even space for him to move his arms that way. He took a worm out of his mouth and poked it through the hook. Soon enough, he was fishing from inside the buoy. I gave him another inquisitive look.
“It’s dinner time and my stomach’s rumbling for jellyfish,” he blurted out.
“It’s him, taking all the jellyfish away from the sea,” Leo whispered in my ear. “That’s why we didn’t see any.”
The old man didn’t hear the comment for he had already turned the music back on. He was happily humming again.
“The jellyfish are attracted to this music. And so am I…”
He seemed completely unworried about the lack of response.
“It calms the soul, this soft music, doesn’t it?” He continued.
“Yes?” I barely whispered, still utterly in shock. I couldn’t stop staring at his incredibly moist and shiny skin.
“Why are you here?”
He stopped and really looked at me.
“I don’t know, really. I’m the only one that can fit in here, and I truly do suffer from memory loss…” He scratched his head. “Nature has taken one thing away from me, memory, but IT has given me something else in return. You see, nature is always give and take.”
He untangled his limbs and came towards me. Alarmed, I sat back into my kayak. He poked his head out, nodded at my brother and touched the water. The moment he did that, his face scrunched up and his tiny eyes shrank into miniature fish. A tear slid down his cheek in pain. A few seconds later, he pulled his hand out of the water with a curse.
“It burns,” He hissed. “I can’t touch water, but I can have conversations with it. You want to know what the water told me today?”
We stare back at him, and he continued.
“It told me tomorrow will rain and that your cat died two years ago on June the 25th. Is that right?”
We took one last look at him, and our muscles clicked at the same time. We paddled away as if we were saving our lives.
The next day, it rained like never before. The palm trees outside the small glass rooms shook and shivered in pain, and breakfast was delivered directly to all the rooms. My brother and I didn’t speak about the old little man, nor the fact that his prediction was right. I didn’t tell Leo what I planned to do that night, once the rain had subsided.
At 3am, I WAS awake. Under the blooming sky, I ran to the beach. My heart felt palpable and crazy from adrenaline. It was the first time I was running off, or breaking any rules. I got hold of the the first kayak and ran off into the frigid sea. I found the little man by following the faint music I heard the day before. He opened the window to my knock, not at all surprised. I wondered if he had predicted that too.
“I’m taking you out. I’ve decided. You need to see the world, you can’t stay trapped here forever. I need to save you.”
“Well you needn’t save me.”
“Why?” I ask, incredibly perplexed.
“I don’t want to leave. I may not know much about the outside world, but I know that this is my purpose and my place on earth: to stay in this little buoy, play music and eat jellyfish. I was born into this life with this sole reason.”
“But, don’t you want to explore all this, outside? Let me at least take you to those boulders over there.”
He didn’t protest.
He wrapped himself up in a blanket, picked a few dried jellyfish and told me to not let him touch the water as I carried him on my kayak. We paddled towards the boulders peaking from the water, at the southern edge of island. He didn’t speak the whole ride. I carried him with utmost care, as if he were made out of porcelain and ice and the floor were made of fiery spikes. With serenity, he sat cross-legged on one of the boulders and calmly waited for me to join him. We both sat on different rocks and gazed up at the sky and the water, hugging our knees. He offered me some dry jellyfish and we both munched on them.
“Won’t you ask me about all this?” I asked him. “Have you seen these rocks or trees before? Or those umbrellas at the shore? Do you know what a shore is?”
I was completely bewildered.
He looked around once more, not amused, as if he had seen this view forever.
“You see, my dear, I’ve lived so long in this little buoy of mine, and as time went by, I sat in pain and talked to the waters. And you know what they told me? That I could not be anyone else and could not be in any other situation. My role had been assigned already. Right now, outside my buoy, I am not playing my role and this hurts the universe around.”
I looked at him with a blank glance.
“In every universe there is meant to be a little man in a yellow buoy hunting jellyfish,” he explained. “That role happened to land on me. Just as there was meant to be a role for you, and you’re playing it out accordingly.”
At that time, I was thirteen and I couldn’t understand a word he said. So, we finished our jellyfish in silence and then I brought him back to his little buoy.
He gave me parting words. “The waves tell me that it is of utmost importance that you don’t come and find me anymore. Human contact deteriorates me.” And he looked down on his body. I noticed moss and barnacles starting to crawl up from his feet.
Only years later did I understand his need to return to his purpose. And only after four years later did I return to the little island in Italy. I only remembered him once I saw the same yellow buoy. The first thing I did was to swim there, fearlessly. The music thumped and I was filled with nostalgia. I looked inside the buoy but I only found the record player. Dazed and sniffing from the salty water swim, I looked underwater and followed the cord attached to the buoy. There was a boulder that served as the anchor. Expelling all the air from my lungs, I sank down to the sea bottom, and I saw him. His features and cross-legged position were were mummified into stone. Moss covered him from head to toe. Even frozen, he held held his fishing rod. I stretched out my hand to caress him, but I ran out of air before I could do that, and my legs pushed off the bottom as a reflex. I came up for air calmly.
I’m sitting in this room, having tea and scones with myself. It’s rather a very fancy space. Painted white bricks, a nice table, red velvet chairs. The tea is earl gray, and the scone comes with a little pot of cream. Of course, this whole set up has been stolen from one of my memories- how else is imagination made? I am indeed quite rusty at this process, for fear has been nagging it’s tail in my face. But today, emotion has prevailed and I can’t find myself doing anything else but writing- for it is all I can really make myself do. You got to always give something back in this energy exchange. You take in the form of breath and space and time. You have to give back. It can be in the form of creativity, happiness, awareness… Anything pure. So, everything else has been crossed out on the “giving” list, and writing sits there like an awkward child, waiting for me to claim him finally.
My alter ego sits opposite me, across the table. She’s been served the same as me: tea and scones. I want to say hello, but I’m scared and disgusted. She has my face, and it is really the only time I can fully see myself directly in real life. I have this narcassistic need to crawl up to her, look at her from every angle, but then I remind myself that she is not me. Right? Her name tag says Anthea.
“Speak,” The voice that comes out of her lips is of a higher tone, but of course it is, why am I taken aback? The only voice of mine that I’ve heard is but an echo in my defective human eardrums.
She crosses her legs, and I don’t. Before speaking, I really take a good look at Anthea. Her hair’s flying everywhere, as if no one had touched it in a year: mouldy, hay-like, half-black, half-yellow. But in contrast, mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick has been applied perfectly to her face. Two little ghostly shadows rest on her cheekbones: she is thinner than me. Her skin glows like a halo, her fingers are like a pianist’s, but a real pianist. Maybe she plays piano? She wears a huge white shirt with a blue circle- I recognise it. It fits her like a huge bag, it’s obvious how tiny her body is beneath that cloth, and it looks good. Not the way it looks on me. As she waits for my reply, she brings her hands up to the table, and graciously lifts the teacup to her mouth. Her arm is covered in porcelain ink tattoos, drawings of flowers and some other amorphous slightly dark shapes. The skin is pulsing and red and raw.
“Those new?” I ask.
She stops midway, and places the cup back down. The ding between the ceramic and glass table seems like it is made in heaven.
“Yes.” She speaks with confidence. “Who are you?” she adds on.
“I am me.” I look down at my hands. I’m wearing something I think seems familiar. “And you, are my alter-ego.”
“Oh no, no. You, my dear, are my alter-ego. I am original. A unique creation.” She replies, with that voice that just seems too abnormally high in pitch.
We both lean forward at the same time: I guess we do have the same brain with the same reflex-impulses. I stare into my own eyes.
“What do you do?” The words barely come out of my dry lips. I’m sweating and she’s stone cold.
“I’m an artist, a writer. I’m intense. I like adrenaline, and caffeine and rushes- I like extremes.” As she says this, she lights a thin cigarette that she allows to balance precariously before her food. She cuts the scone into a million tiny slices.
“I like my body to extremes- these bones, seeing them, remind me of my mortality. It’s what drives me to live my life. And the feeling of this smoke? It makes me lightheaded, and the fact that it’s slowly destroying me just puts me in the best mood for creation.” She says this, as she keeps the smoke lurking in her lungs. Her small, pinpoint breasts roll outward, then inward.
“You are destroying yourself to make art?” I say. I don’t know what to feel. This all sounds too familiar of an idea.
“I don’t know, really. This is all just so temporary. I’m just playing around like an alchemist, with these limbs, this face, this living breathing machine. I like to be in control. I’ve written books about my emotions- killed my way to get up top. I have a girlfriend – I think she hates me, but also maybe secretly loves me. You see, I’m just oh so paranoid she’s going to run off, so I like to interrogate her, tie her up. In my free time, when I’m not networking, of course. That’s me, that’s what I do. There you have it.” She says all at once.
“Friends?” I inquire, almost desperately.
“Oh, so many. I get invited to parties, I’m an artist! A self-destructive manipulative artist, testing the limits- who doesn’t like that at a party? I have pictures of my friends, but I can’t really remember all their names, of course. Human memory is stunted.”
My whole body starts shaking and I stare at my veins portruding. She watches this happen but doesn’t speak a word. Goddamnit. I take the teapot sitting next to me and throw it right at her face. I want to watch her disappear, disintegrate like a projection. It hits her, and she bleeds and her head hits the wall behind. She screams. Fuck. Who made me throw that? Why did I throw that? I’ve never heard myself scream since I was 13. It’s a painful sound that cuts me to half and makes me forget everything but that.
She doesn’t disappear. She’s real and she crouches down on the floor, grasping her eyes. There’s no anger when she cries. It’s like she knew it would come.
Salty tears start building up and soon enough I’m crying, at the same rate as her, and in the same position.
“Oh, my alter-ego. Why are you so cruel?” She weeps and squacks out. Her voice is scratched now, patchy.
Those words hit me like ten blows. I want to say, Look at who you are. I thought you were who I wanted to be.
Then I look at myself.
I don’t say a word.
We spend the next thirty minutes patching up. We place the teacups, teapots, scones back to exactly where they stood. We clean the blood off the floor, we place the chairs where they were meant to be. We smell the flowers. Then, for last, we sit at our respective places and eat.
She looks more reserved now, as if scared to talk. Her cat-eyes glance at me, like a hurt creature. We both swallow the food. She takes smaller, planned-out bites.
“So what do you do?” She breaks the silence after an hour.
“Well…I’ve just finished school. I’m hopefully going to a monastery for six months. I’ve been trying to write my first book, but I’ve completely hit a block. I’ve been trying to be a good person, I guess. I have lots to do on my mind, I want to get it done. I want to help. But yeah, I wake up, have some food, try to be okay half the day, try to meditate, think of what to have for dinner. If I have to go out, I need to keep my heart in check: it races like crazy.” I reply solemnly.
It just spills out, as if someone had pressed some inner button.
“So in short, you don’t do much.” Her voice assumes one of a therapist, non-judgemental and full of hidden questions. I recognise that tone.
“Did you attack me out of jealousy?”
I shake my head, after a moment of hesitation. Then I do it with more assertion.
As if some bell rang, we both get up in unison, with force, like little kids at the last class before break. She sticks her bony, pale hand out. I look at her once more. I only recognise myself in the eyes. I stick my hand out too, to shake her hand.
“I will never understand you, my alter-ego. How can you live this way?”
“Me neither, my alter-ego. How can you live this way?” I reply.
Before I can grasp her hand, and have some kind of closure, she disintegrates.
I, too, disintegrate a split second after her.
I can only hope to become a balance between the two.
How many people have sat on this very train and contemplated the comings and goings that have comprised of their life? Most probably a lot. Their eyes have most likely settled upon the tiny ghostly dagger marvels that seem to speed across the window with familiar urgency. This G-sharp piece of music I’m listening to races at the same speed- it’s urgent changes and screams perforate the air around me and now even the trees seem to be running away from me as I sit. The train tiptoes to a silent, shy stop and now it all grows a little softer, a little more honey-dewed. The white daisies stretch their necks with a morning glow, opening their faces towards the white fence they lie behind. Yet, all these musings remain but a mere distraction to the agenda of the travelling mind. So as the train keeps trudging into the near future, the picturesque nature slowly eases the true thoughts to come out of the passenger. And this is where me, myself, and any other passenger differ: both immersed leg-deep into our own personal waters, yet each facing different tides. Though no matter the size, they all affect us with the same magnitude and feeling of nostalgia. So the thoughts that were meant to be, spiral out like curls towards the shore, and we pick them up, one by one, like unique seashells, decoding each ages pattern with affection from the past. It’s a moment of serenity that only a train can allow. A moment of transit, where for once, the human being is not expected to achieve a thing, and sitting still is the most one ca do. Our soul, at once, is uncaged and starts expanding beyond the window until the clouds guide it back home, between the veins of our heart. Until the call for work beckons us back to reality.
People absorbed in
pointing fingers at
“please prove me
Portray and pose, like ancient greeks, gawk and
perpetrate this poetry.
Dilate and prompt
my pupils open with your
purple prophetic prose and pink
Proprietor of prominent
in our own pools so
other realities upstream,
prying open possibilities
that prick our own proud
We practice prowling
like tigers in
public with primroses
between teeth yet
the precipice lulls us
in prams like prats
as we preach
forever – prone to
name and proceed…
You’re musical miles
I listen to your
the songs are vivid
yet somehow pixelated,
blurry versions of us,
accurate and inaccurate,
between a wall of
not a wall,
but rather a featherlight river between
optic fluctuations that
sometimes I just need to
check that you’re
existing three minutes ago.
I’ll take a shattered breath,
for the past
seemed all too good for me,
a walkable garden of eden
has been nurtured:
you were the sun that made the
flowers bloom, and I was
the moon that gave the world
rest. Our magic worked perfectly
in purple, palpable darkness
But in the end, we picked
our toes were then
the garden of Eden-
Adam and Eve, fell on different
ends of the earth.
Now we live in a world of new
three typing dots equate to
three faint heartbeats,
the ring of a phone
equates to her calling
my name from across the bed.
remain the same,
lips and gaze still soft like
braiding hair underwater.
Smile still growing symmetrical
flowers in my chest, all the same.
It’s all just some tiptoes away,
this world won’t close,
it’s just a nose away,
in the waiting room
and while Adam and Eve
scavenge around earth,
charged with terror and love,
the garden grows of immense dimensions,
now a pool of vibrant haze,
flowers of immeasurable blaze
and with time,
there, they shall reunite,
taller and brighter,
and cross eternity again.
umbrella folds in the
wind like swollen
shadow the shape
of a pregnant cow.
it’s an an apocalyptic
scavenger rocks tumbling
over towels and
fledgling bags ready