“There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night.”
— Albert Camus
A man wakes to the first rays of light prickling through the curtains. It is the same grey room that always greets him. There are a few more scattered items of crockery than he remembered there being. One of the cups on the bedside wears a furry crown upon an invisible head of water. Yawning, he pulls himself up at the promise of coffee.
Stepping through the smattering of papers and books strewn about the floor, he makes it to the kitchen, slapping down the knob on the kettle which bounces up defiantly. Swearing, he walks the extra few steps to the sink filling the kettle and slamming it on the mains port.
Next, he gropes at some mugs. Liquid splashes onto the work surface. He lifts the largest one to his nose, retching at the stench of alcohol that assaults his nostrils. Turning his face away, he tips the contents into the sink and squeezes washing up liquid into its mouth and leaves the tap running in it.
Lifting his body onto the work surface he puts his head in his hands, his elbows on his knees and his feet are left swaying in the air beneath them. He sighs, loudly, turning his head to the desk whereupon his laptop and numerous notepads lie. Turning his head back, the sight is obscured safely again by his palms.
This rest is broken by a urinal trickling. He jumps up, knowing immediately that he will be met by the suds bouncing gleefully around the rim of the sink as pieces of old food are swept to the floor in small streams. Turning off the tap he hears a fizzle behind him as the kettle overflows. His rage is immeasurable. With a sweep of his arm, he sends an array of porcelain crashing to the floor.
He is frustrated I suppose. He thinks his only companionship lies in the pigeons that occasionally shit on his balcony and fly away again before he has time to throw profanities and failed prologues at them.
His shoulders rise and fall steadily as he looks upon the sharp pearlescent shards that almost grin back at him. Impossible. He throws the closest dishtowel over the whole lot. The writing desk looks better now.
Although now he’s reached it and he can see the coffee stains stamped upon his laptop and the snowballs of paper that frame it, a familiar feeling rises in his stomach. Dizzied by it, he takes a seat in the worn grooves of the wooden seat.
Even now, fingers stretched towards the jar containing his writing instruments, his hand trembles. The capacity of those tubes of ink when nodding along with his knuckles as he scribbles frantically, terrifies him. His hand slumps back onto the table as he tries to determine which pen should serve him best. Which one curves sufficiently to navigate cortex and cerebrum and catch the golden tail of an idea, saturate itself in it and regurgitate it shiny and new onto the page?
Rubbing his temples, he tries to raise memories of techniques he may have overlooked, something to stimulate the Midnight Disease he knows he has within him.
The free-flow had failed. All he could write was that he could not write. He wrote this, over and over again, in different ways, past tenses and present participles until he found himself faced with the same sentences and there were no new ways to say old things.
He had cut up old papers and books producing jargon and confetti, some of which still lines the skirting boards.
He had bought Significant Objects. Mediocre and trashy he had thought as he picked up fluffy trolls and chipped china. But gold flashed in his eyes. So mediocre, so trashy, he had to have it. How could he not be inspired by such innate items handled by strangers?
It is now he remembers them and looks upon the windowsill where some sit, casting obscure shadows onto his desk, funnelling light through handles and armpits and tails, almost glittering. He thinks he will perhaps incorporate all of them, in the same vein that Greenman used the longest name palindrome in his Corked Bottle tale. But as he sits it does not come. He doesn’t even understand the fucking name story. He finds himself thinking only of the corporate stamp upon each form, items designed for one wear then tears. Instead of seeing their story potential he wonders what mark-up they achieved for Villeroy and Boch.
So as he stares at the window, eyes glazed to the sun, he misses the gentle clink of china as They congregate about his bed.
For Significant, his Objects are.
I hope people can make sense of this, I’d be interested to see what people think. Hopefully it’s a positive reflection to leave you with :)
Link to Ben Greenman’s http://significantobjects.com/2010/04/30/corked-bottle-ben-greenman-story/
The world stopped today
At four o’clock
The great red whales
spat their last commuters
As the powdery barnacles at their fins
Calcified them for another working day
bank holidays and weekends not included
My stomach smiles inwardly
as my solemn brow turns from the porthole
sighing at the clock
on a perpendicularly moustached face
The coffee in your palms
ebbing and flowing
with the tides outside
And spewing steam
like the smokestack won’t
Splashes onto the deck
Pulling on your smock
(and your trousers)
You hand me my wetsuit
and yank open the hatch
your hair pink on your cheeks
You draw the zip up my back
the teeth bite my neck
Pretending not to see
the coral spreading across the neoprene
you tell me I’m a strong swimmer
that the iceburg is off-course
And with a kiss
(I smell the bile rising in your throat)
send me out
Swimming with the sharks.
Got inspired/bored by the snow that’s all over England today. An alternative stance I hope, but definitely got carried away with the sea metaphor sorry :(
In your tower,
Suspended on expensive plastic rods,
Within strands bound with the bloodcells of bleeding fingers.
You know nothing,
As you lie, spreadeagled,
The hair ripped from your loins
By a stranger,
Who looks upon you
As a medical steak,
And a portfolio,
And $100 from a newspaper story.
As they pull back
The little pink ovals from your fingertips,
Glossy and glittering.
Beneath, they reveal,
The yellowing, fractured calcium
Layered like an onion,
And smelling so
Til they wipe chemicals over it,
Pressing a new nail on
As you notice their naked hands..
As your eyes sting,
Peroxide fumes rising,
Fusing together the plastic hairs upon your eyelids,
That you already cried for once.
Your scalp screams.
And the little man behind you
Pats the burning skin atop your head,
Protected in rubber,
In a falsetto voice
He tells you ‘Honey, you know it’s worth it’
But as your silhouette arches,
Held by a man who also held your heart,
On a TV screen.
Daddy shaking his head,
You’re both crying again.
He gives you the key to the world,
So you can hide til this all blows over.
And you find yourself in the same LA hotel as always,
Cradling your plastic chest in your arms.
We were given about 20 minutes for this writing exercise. I won’t lie, I did add to it as the seminar went on, but the idea and 99% of the poem was devised and written in class I swear :)