as the people try to avoid the poor

overweight and legless

animal

it

simply waits for death

as the rest of

its peers who are flying high

shitting on those below

who feed them

scraps from the luxury they live on

regarding those creatures above

them as nothing more than

a bunch of rats with wings

~~~~~~~~~~

pinks hot dog stand

 

you choose the american dream

 

and you wait in line

with no real choice but to

 

kill time checking out all the famous stars

whose faces crowd like one

huge cluttered constellation

as an assurance that what one is about

 

to eat there is good enough for them

and so it must be

luxury for us

 

but the truth is the next day

 

you will be sitting there with your head in your hands

trying desperately

to excrete that shit you waited so long for

 

back out of your system

~~~~~~~~~~

I live beteween Scotland and California where I am moving to this year, if all goes to plan. I am 26. I play the guitar on the streets for a living.

coming soon: www.zygoteinmycoffee.com (march 2007)

www.blowbackmagazine.com (whenever they get round to it, and after writing this probably never!)

www.poeticdiversity.com (april 2007)

R.K. Wallace.

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Hello, Ruth.

You’re surprised, aren’t you. Me, putting it in writing. Perhaps you thought I wouldn’t contact you atall, I’d stay way, crawl under a rock and die maybe. But come on, you know me, I’m not like that. London might be a big place, easy to get disappear in, vanish like a ghost, but let’s be realistic now, I’m not going anywhere. I mean, where would I go for a start? There’s nothing else out there for me, no other life, you know that.

You’re just trying to teach me a lesson. Punish me. And fair enough, I see your point. I was wrong. I admit that, shouldn’t have done what I did. Violence is unacceptable, of course it is. I’m not disputing that. But I’m fine now. I’ve seen to it, I’ve did what you said. Ruth, you were right: I did need help. Stress, my God, it’s like a mind-bending drug. But that’s sorted now. It was just a blip. I’m not perfect, I admit that, but come on, we’re all human, you’re not averse to the odd tantrum yourself, we all are. But no, there’s no excuses. None atall.

I just want to say sorry. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it all. Three months now. That one night flashing through my head like a nightmare. That person, Ruth, that monster, it wasn’t me. Something clicking in my mind, sending me crazy. Wrong, so wrong. I see you lying there in the state I left you… and I just want to hug you and nurse you and soothe you. Kill the person that did it.

Well, Ruth, listen: I think I finally have. This last week I feel like I’ve woken up and seen the light. I’m ready to put it all behind me. I think we both should. I’m ready for things to be normal again now. As they were. I mean, of course you’re still angry, I understand that. But let’s call a truce. No more games. No more sadism, Ruth.

Fuck this. This isn’t sounding right. Got to get the words right, tell you how I feel. Can’t fuck this up. Because I know what you’re doing, Ruth. You’re torturing me. That’s what you’re doing. Your little game. Torture.

But listen. I’m close to you, you know. Even now, so close, sitting in our cafe, that place on Kingsland Road; you know, just around from the flat. Our flat, Ruth. You might be at work now – 1.30pm, definitely – but I still feel close to you. This is our place. Where we used to go. All those Sunday mornings here, having breakfast, reading the papers, no rush, just being together. Then maybe we’d have a browse around Brick Lane, the markets, go to a pub, or who knows, maybe go back home, back to bed, the two of us, together. 

That’s the way things are meant to be, Ruth. This – life now – it isn’t normal. I’m living in a single room, shared bathroom, shared kitchen, hate the place, hate the people. It’s nowhere near here but you gave me no time, nothing, it was all I could find. But don’t worry, I’m not there much. I’ve even started taking days off work. Without you I just can’t concentrate. They keep calling me in, saying they’re concerned, that I’ve become quiet, remote, telling me they care about me, just want to help me. But I’m not stupid. I know all they care about. Performance. That I’m not buckling down, bringing the clients in. They don’t give a fuck about me. I’ll be out of there soon, I just know it. Who cares.

But it’s all wrong, all so unnatural. Like the world has shifted balance, thrown me aside. Laying out your photographs on the bed each night, making a shrine, masturbating for hours, trying to draw you near, will you to me. It’s not normal, Ruth, not normal. It shouldn’t be that way. I shouldn’t be living like this. Now, for example, hours to kill and I’m waiting for you, waiting for that glimpse. I’ve started watching you, you know. Did you know that? Every day. Watching you get out of the taxi and walk into the flat. 

You don’t get the bus anymore. Why not? And you’ve changed your email, phone number, even changed the locks. Too extreme, Ruth, too extreme. There’s no need for that. I hide across in the bushes of the park, or sometimes up close, in the side alley, and I see you, pulling the blinds, see the lights go on and off, see it all. Do you think I enjoy that, Ruth, out there in the cold each evening, on my own, creeping about in the bushes in the shadows like a nonce? Of course I don’t. I hate it.

But I can’t believe what you’re doing, Ruth. Never thought take things this far.

Even to broach the subject fucking disturbs me, makes me want to tell myself it’s all a mistake, it isn’t true.

Ruth. Listen. I know about him. I’ve seen him. He visits, two, three times a week, climbs out of a cab, just like you. Or sometimes – and this really gets me – the two of you come out of a cab. Who is this man, Ruth? Do you work with him. Is he a work colleague? But you’ve changed your workplace too, something else to throw me off, so who knows. Maybe you met him in a bar or a club. He walked up to you, a stranger, and you said yes straight away just to try and hurt me. That makes you a slag, Ruth, you know that don’t you? And you know what happens to slags. They end up slaves, beaten black and blue by these bastards day in day out every single fucking time. Look at the statistics, Ruth: one slag dies a week at the hands of a violent partner, violent bastard; I don’t agree with it, you know, but real life, it happens.

We’ve had our ups and downs – fair enough – but we’re different, we care for each other, love each other. Nobody else loves you, Ruth. You know that. He probably thinks you’re overweight, ugly, feels repulsed every time he touches your skin, but he’s just using you for sex, using you like a piece of meat. Believe me, Ruth. I’m right about this. Because you know you’re ugly, don’t you. Know you’re fat. I might not think so – I don’t see you that way atall – but everybody else does. They see the truth. Fat, ugly, repulsive.

And that stranger, I’ve seen him, the cockiness of him, paying off the driver and heading along the path, up the steps. And you, letting this bastard into our home, our bed. Do you honestly think I’m going to let this impostor get between us this way, destroy everything we’ve got? No way, Ruth, never.

Don’t worry. I know what I’m going to do. I’ve thought about it quite alot. It seems the only way – because I know how things go, these kind of people get possessive, don’t want to let go. I know what type of person we’re dealing with here. First possessiveness, then violence, you wait and see. It’s true, men are all the same; most of them anyway. You don’t know what you’re getting into.

There’s only one way. He’s going to have an accident. Walking along the path before he gets to the steps. Prick. Cabs everywhere, frightened to walk the streets of Hackney, I’ll show him. Get him right on the garden path. Instrument to the back of the head – whack, bash his brains out. Or maybe use a knife, again from behind. No, fuck that: let him see who he’s dealing with – he won’t be getting up again, will he. There you go: straight in the heart. Grab his phone, wallet, go. It’s those youths again, those gangs, seeping out of the estates and bringing terror to the residential streets. Man dead. Terrible. Another Hackney statistic.

I’ll fucking do it, Ruth. I’m not joking. I’m thinking about it right now. Relishing the fucking thought. You’ll see. 

Michael Keenaghan lives in North London. His writing has appeared in Scarecrow, The Beat and Laurahird.com.

Visit him at www.myspace.com/michaelkeenaghan  

Surfing the new literary wave

February 15, 2007

There may not be many new movements in books, but that’s probably because all the action’s online.

A few others to look out for-

R.K. Wallace, Chris Major, Lisa Zaran, Mike Blake, Steve Finbow, Lee Rourke,  Sean McGahey, Joel Van Noord, Paul Kavanagh, Michael Keenaghan…….and the lovely pete wild!!!!!!!!

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/02/surfing_the_new_literary_wave.html

Truman Capote

February 14, 2007

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”—Capote 

Throughout his career, Truman Capote remained one of America’s most controversial and colorful authors, combining literary genius with a penchant for the glittering world of high society. Though he wrote only a handful of books, his prose styling was impeccable, and his insight into the psychology of human desire was extraordinary. His flamboyant and well-documented lifestyle has often overshadowed his gifts as a writer, but over time Capote’s work will outlive the celebrity. 

Born in New Orleans in 1924, Capote was abandoned by his mother and raised by his elderly aunts and cousins in Monroeville, Alabama. As a child he lived a solitary and lonely existence, turning to writing for solace. Of his early days Capote related, “I began writing really sort of seriously when I was about eleven. I say seriously in the sense that like other kids go home and practice the violin or the piano or whatever, I used to go home from school every day and I would write for about three hours. I was obsessed by it.” 

In his mid-teens, Capote was sent to New York to live with his mother and her new husband. Disoriented by life in the city, he dropped out of school, and at age seventeen, got a job with THE NEW YORKER magazine. Within a few years he was writing regularly for an assortment of publications. One of his stories, “Miriam,” attracted the attention of publisher Bennett Cerf, who signed the young writer to a contract with Random House. Capote’s first book, OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS, was published in 1948. OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS received instant notoriety for its fine prose, its frank discussion of homosexual themes, and, perhaps most of all, for its erotically suggestive cover photograph of Capote himself. 

With literary success came social celebrity. The young writer was lionized by the high society elite, and was seen at the best parties, clubs, and restaurants. He answered accusations of frivolousness by claiming he was researching a future book. His short novel, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (1958), took much of its inspiration from these experiences. With the publication of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S and the subsequent hit film staring Audrey Hepburn, Capote’s popularity and place among the upper crust was assured. His ambition, however, was to be great as well as popular, and so he began work on a new experimental project that he imagined would revolutionize the field of journalism. 

In 1959, Capote set about creating a new literary genre — the non-fiction novel. IN COLD BLOOD (1966), the book that most consider his masterpiece, is the story of the 1959 murder of the four members of a Kansas farming family, the Clutters. Capote left his jet-set friends and went to Kansas to delve into the small-town life and record the process by which they coped with this loss. During his stay, the two murderers were caught, and Capote began an involved interview with both. For six years, he became enmeshed in the lives of both the killers and the townspeople, taking thousands of pages of notes. Of IN COLD BLOOD, Capote said, “This book was an important event for me. While writing it, I realized I just might have found a solution to what had always been my greatest creative quandary. I wanted to produce a journalistic novel, something on a large scale that would have the credibility of fact, the immediacy of film, the depth and freedom of prose, and the precision of poetry.” IN COLD BLOOD sold out instantly, and became one of the most talked about books of its time. An instant classic, IN COLD BLOOD brought its author millions of dollars and a fame unparalleled by nearly any other literary author since.  

To celebrate the book’s success, Capote threw what many called the “Party of the Century,” the famous “Black and White Ball.” This masked ball, at New York’s elegant Plaza Hotel, was to be the pinnacle of both his literary endeavors and his popularity. Overwhelmed by the lifestyles of the rich and famous, Capote began to work on a project exploring the intimate details of his friends. He received a large advance for a book which was to be called ANSWERED PRAYERS (after Saint Theresa of Avila’s saying that answered prayers cause more tears than those that remain unanswered). The book was to be a biting and largely factual account of the glittering world in which he moved. The publication of the first few chapters in ESQUIRE magazine in 1975 caused a major scandal. Columnist Liz Smith explained, “He wrote what he knew, which is what people always tell writers to do, but he just didn’t wait till they were dead to do it.”  

With these first short publications Capote found that many of his close friends and acquaintances shut him off completely. Though he claimed to be working on ANSWERED PRAYERS (which many imagined would be his greatest work), the shock of the initial negative reactions sent him into a spiral of drug and alcohol use, during which time he wrote very little of any quality. When Capote died in 1984, at the age of fifty-nine, he left behind no evidence of any continued progress on ANSWERED PRAYERS. Though many feel that Capote did not live up to the promise of his early work, it is clear from what he did write that he was an artist of exquisite talent and vision. With both his fiction and his non-fiction, he created a body of work that will continue to move readers and inspire writers for years. 

The only success I will ever know is through approximation. I have that approximation and I follow it around during the daylight. It takes me to Paris where I humor it. I then leave it where there is this Frenchman smoking and sharing a bottle of wine with me. Where the Frenchman came from is not necessarily important, he knew someone that I knew. Where this success comes from is equally not important. It knows me and it’s simple.
 
The Frenchman knows English but he hates to speak it. He’ll yammer until I miss too much and he’ll delude it to equal parts and finally he’ll delve into a complete sentence of the Kings Language as I butcher his own.
 
Already he’s inhaled through half a pack and we’ve nearly knocked off our first bottle. He’s been telling about his bike trip to China and plans to do it again. He says he’s been through Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and took a detour north to the Aral Sea. A bike trip from Paris to Beijing. He tells me the world is out of bounds for American’s. He says this in French though, and I could have missed it slightly.
 
He thinks he’s funny and he keeps saying, “Terrorism is the new yellow.” I laugh at him because this man is entertaining. He is small and has a weak chin. I’ve never used that expression before and thought it was generally useless, but this man’s chin is a small bone that cowardly retreats toward his neck. His natural disposition is a frown and his lips are gravy while his cheeks are mashed potatoes.
 
He’s a photographer and he showed me his work in a gallery just off Champs-Eylsees. The hotel they gave my brother is there too, it’s 675 a night and the pastries in the morning are light and layered and full of chocolate. Now we are just off the hill at Montmartre. It’s dark and the streets are narrow and I’ve never really been able to take Europe seriously. Not in the sense that Chicago is serious or Brooklyn or Eas’ Los or Detroit. Oak Park and Yonkers or Malibu and Grosse Pointe aren’t serious. But they are a defeated sort of non-serious that is depressing and therefore serious. Everyone in Paris, to me, seems to me to have some sort of high paying executive job or to be some successful artist or model. No one seems real in this respect.
 
The government guarantees jobs for life and Houellebecq’s characters are always insipid civil servants with cush jobs and enough money to not worry. Is it this occupation, which continues from book to book, that is the iconoclast to fundamentalism? “Give a Muslim 72 virgins in real life and what would he do?” Are the immoral things left for Heaven?
 
The inland of New Guinea is intense. There are jagged mountains and dense jungles and travel is arduous. There are alpine glaciers and the island straddles the equator. The lowlands are rainforest and populated, the Europeans landed and got out, took some samples and a native or two. For four centuries they returned and the interior didn’t bother them. They assumed it was empty jungle. It took some biologists in a plane to conclude, as they marveled at the Holland like density of the interior, that there was life there.
 
 But what sort of life was it? It was complicated. They fought without metal. There wasn’t a top-down monarch to control them. They were loose and it was like a playground.
 
 Why I mention this? It’s still the same today and inside the bowels of the Amazon there are peoples yet in contact with modernity. Do they hear planes, though, as Lima offers a discount to Rio?
 
I mention this because yesterday I donned a suit and put a cigarette in my mouth. We were three Americans, many British, French, and a few oil Kings to look after our money. Private equity is apparently where it’s at and the group had all placed large sums of money into this firm that bought struggling businesses and turned them around and offered profit sharing. This one was an eye-glass store. We went in and they sold eye-glasses and the rich men in French Cuffs wandered about with their hands behind their backs and they’d bend at the waist and look at the thick black framed glasses that are making a comeback.
 
The manager smiled and talked about the virtues of this frame or that. The employees ignored them and read romance novels.
 
I said, “Eye-glasses,” finding it funny because, what a silly thing to travel halfway across the globe to investigate. “Orange is the new yellow.” He said it doesn’t make any sense. He got it from Blue Crush, his favorite movie with the girl surfers in Hawaii and it’s an embarrassingly cute thing for him to like so much. This is likely where the Frenchman got the comparison, since he is better friends with my brother. We do, though, talk about different things. The Frenchman shares money language with my brother. With me it’s obstinately the injustice of things.
 
We finish our bottle and leave. I want to go to an Irish pub and he looks at me disgusted. He says he hates the English, says they all want to be Beat Poets, and how would I know about that? I follow him, though, and we walk the narrow streets and he takes me to a Greek/French restaurant and we drink another bottle and he smokes more and I’m waiting but he’s not doing anything but drinking and smoking and I’m wondering where the girls are and looking at my watch wandering if my brother is going to want to come out after his dinner meetings.
 
“You are all so impatient.” He says but I have to go. We wander and I’m leading now but there is nowhere to go. The apartment buildings are high and dense and there is the occasional store below selling convenience items. We walk up the hill to the Sacre Coeur and it’s quieter and they’re singing Latin inside and outside there are woman kneeling in front of empty bowls. It takes me a moment to figure out they’re begging and they’re Middle Eastern with scarves and Euros in the bowls. They lower their heads to the pavement and do not move. I picture this in the Alps. A beer sauntering past and snapping the neck like a grape.
 
I look to the Frenchman and he doesn’t really acknowledge this. I peak my head in the double set of doors and my eyes go to the ceiling until someone puts his face into mine and tells me in French that I cannot come in, the service has already begun. No additional worshippers.
 
So we leave. I tell the Frenchman the Louvre is the cat’s meow and Versailles looks like Disney’s interpretation of it. I tell him the façade looks authentic enough but the inside is specious and meretricious. He listens to me and doesn’t say much. He’s fumbling with a cigarette and lighting it. This was something I would not have normally said, a critique like that, it seems to be influenced by him. We walk and it’s like Paris is a holding pen. I am uncertain. I tried to make things happen. It seems things don’t happen.
 
Which aligns with what happens next. We left Paris and took a train south. We went into Spain and stayed with a French teacher in Valencia that my brother had known. We hopped to Morocco and declined to smoke hashish. We couldn’t stay as long as I wanted because there were no waves for my brother to surf and I didn’t have enough money or connections. We did fish, though, in the Atlantic just north of the border with Spain and caught nothing with jigs and sinkers, unfortunately.
 
*
 
The Iberian Peninsula disappears and I close my eyes, open them and watch three movies where the quality is a metaphor for life: high production quality but lacking in an essential realism or true diversity of options. It is strangely strangling to watch these films and when we land there is a full handshake and a long embrace because there, in that person, is the closest thing I will ever have. He shares the most of my genes and he knows the most of my secrets. Which is why he’ll wink and smile as he travels west to where I’ll meet him later with the sun and palm.
 
I go north and a skip west. I land in Pittsburg and shake the hand of a friend who I once pushed through a plate glass window from ebullience for him. The glass fell on me and as I got stitches he picked up a nurse of Palestinian descent.
 
We drink and eat and he has roommates and a job and I remember to file for unemployment and we drink more. He remembers we’re late and he wants to show me this thing his roommates do.
 
We get there and the room is charged with a bizarre sexuality. The room is a touch mainstream of goth and it’s obvious they have day jobs in cubicles. Someone’s Something-or-Other Sideshow is what these kids are calling it and when my attention if finally averted to the main attraction I sort of laugh out this mini-vomit. We quickly abscond from the location and I have a weak stomach for this thing and there he is, the Sideshow Hero, dangling from the ceiling. Large Halibut hooks dredged through his back and why is he up there?
 
What is this for? It’s like he had an idea that something was wrong but no idea of anyway to ameliorate this. Inadvertently making the entire thing that much more absurd. He’s motionless and hanging and it’s been three hours and apparently he’s got many more minutes to go. Just himself up there with hooks and his skin pulled back away from the bone, his feet above our heads and idiocy, plain and simple.
 
There’s no reason to stay and we walk out. My friend and I. This scene was his gift to me and I shake my head. I call my brother and I tell my friend I should get a passport stamp for Pittsburg. Hollywood answers and he’s back with his lady friend. He’s not entertained by the hooks in the back and as I tell him the story I find it all uncontrollably hilarious and maybe this afterward was a gift from the Sideshow Hero inside. Laughter brings tears and the tears drip and I collapse the phone and look to my friend. It’s starting to snow and I’m tired. He acknowledges this and we leave. There are libraries of movies at his house and we watch one. I stay until I call the state again for unemployment. Then I fly west.