THE BED-BUGS OF CTHULU
The tyranny of ageless depths
and the granite tombs
of forgotten gods;
the abrasive ocean
and the things that will rise
for which there are no descriptions
that vouchsafe sanity.
Aeons of bided time. The crumbling
of eras and civilisations, the fly-speck
of humankind a blip
in the scheme of things. Time
as a measureless certainty.
Millennia since the great Cthulu
turned his mattress, changed
the bedding, pushed
the tentacle of a vacuum cleaner
into the diabolical corners
of his lair. Centuries
since a chamois swabbed
surfaces back to a shine. Decades
between the shucking off of pyjamas
encrusted with the crumbly grit
of his galactic villainy.
Portents are the pause-button
of the gods. What is foretold
is guesswork laced
with the ripe priapism of fiction.
This, the great Cthulu in repose,
turning impatiently in his slumbers,
agitated in his restless
and Stygian sleep, a million
tiny cuts in the fabric of the mattress
releasing a microscopic swarm
across the purple-grey
of his ugly somnolence. The bed-
bugs cluster. The great Cthulu itches.
You’ve seen it in a thousand movies:
he or she stopped short by a poster
in a shop window or curved to the wall
of an Underground station. Camera dollies in
on a face sheened with possibility. Cut to:
airport at sunrise, Boeing in silhouette,
soundtrack swelling over the whine of landing gear,
the yelp of rubber on runway. Then she or he
pushing through crowds—backpack worn lightly,
cool in designer shades. Blurts of local colour,
vendors, taxi responding to glib hand gesture.
Then the montage proper: the rust-bucket bus
jolting along cratered roads; the hair’s-breadth
switchbacks taken at speed and never mind the drop;
the trek through rain-heavy greenery, movement
overhead and strange noises; sweat and a swatting away
of insects, the backpack heavier—then
cloud-break and sun; a promontory, the view
of the beach like an ad man’s dream.
Now you try—
travel agent, inoculations, insurance, house-sitters,
that eye-gouging haggle for an extra week’s
annual leave; transfers, luggage allowance, flight
delayed, the airport bar understocked and pricey.
WHISTLE SOFTLY AND WALK SLOWLY AWAY
The paint tin on its side, sumping
a matte white map of Iceland
over the hallway carpet. A pan
dislodged from the hob, bolognese
making a murder scene of the kitchen.
Bone china, in the family for decades.
Signed first edition with coffee stain.
Football and greenhouse. Just
whistle, whistle softly, and walk away.
Whistle softly and walk slowly away.
THE GLASS CLOWN
Spit on a rag. No, wait:
do more than spit. Drench it
in a wooden barrel
lapping with cold water;
or better still, scrunch
it in flecks of ice
chiselled by fishmonger
or bartender. Get it good
and cold against the heat
of blown glass. Wipe away
the greasepaint, the watery
pear drop of a painted tear;
take the split lip rictus
back to when the smile
didn't mean nightmares.
Swab off the patterns
of a shirt not far off jailhouse
stripes. Unpaint the bulbous
nose. Slide the springy wig
from the dome of the skull.
The clown is glass. The clown
is an intricacy of heat
and the glass-blower's art.
A complexity of shape
and form. And perfectly empty.
Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.
—Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
An empty coffee cup is full of hope. Now there’s something worth voting for.
—Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not FOR SALE
Welcome back to the Kitchen, Neil! (Love those British spellings: civilisation, pyjamas… My spellchecker keeps switching them to American ones.) British Snakepal Neil Fulwood, who was featured in Medusa’s Kitchen on June 24, 2015, was born in Nottingham, England. His poetry has been published in various print magazines and online journals including The Interpreter's House, The Lampeter Review, Art Decades, Dissident Voices and VerseWrights. He is co-editor, with David Sillitoe, of the anthology, More Raw Material: work inspired by Alan Sillitoe (Lucifer Press, 2015; harrypaterson.com/2015/11/28/more-raw-material/); and co-administrator, with Robert Kenchington, of the Facebook page, The Leonard Bernstein Appreciation Society.
Here are a few links to info about Alan Sillitoe and about the anthology edited by Neil and by Alan’s son, David, in 2015:
•••www.theguardian.com/books/2004/apr/03/featuresreviews.guardianreview (The Guardian, 2004)
•••www.nytimes.com/2010/04/26/books/26sillitoe.html?_r=0 (NY Times obituary, 2010)
•••Sillitoe’s Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Sillitoe
And thanks also to today’s photographer-who-chooses-to-remain-anonymous for her intriguing bead photos.