Several moments in theatre

MICRO FICTION

The music of least interest tells you what’s happening on stage or screen. The melody needs to be different, so that it’s another voice.

Seated at a naked desk, without a single sheet of paper to write on, the typewriter becomes a mirror on the stage. A sheet of paper has two sides but reflections have more, as a cracked actor writes a trilogy in monochrome…

DresserCalifornia Typewriter

THE DRESSER

I hate my face. Why does it have to do so much? Why do I have to work so much on it? Why do I have to make so much up? I hate my fucking face.

I make it smile, laugh when I’m crying and lie when I talk. Sometimes I don’t want to go out. I don’t want to show this face.

But I go out. And on the face of it, I’m happy. I talk, I smile, I laugh, then I wipe my face in the mirror.

I smash my face into the mirror, so no-one can see me.

© Steve Laker, 2020

Helvetica sans serif and Georgia

FLASH FICTION

At Helvetica Haus, we’re only allowed one sheet of paper per day…

TSEE1  TSEE2TSEE3  TSEE4

MANNEQUIN MIRROR

With all that was churning in my head last night, I was reminded of my broken washing machine. If only I could launder myself, so that I was fresh again, back with everyone my illness had alienated. Or just burn my clothes, maybe with me in them. Anything to flood the deepest valleys in an ocean of depression, just for one day. To go swimming in a font of typesetting.

On the other side of my drawn curtains, I heard the sound of laughter and heels. If I could break through the window behind the drapes, I’d be out there.

Instead, I sat all evening, staring variously at dark curtains and the paper in my typewriter, respectively wondering and writing about the world outside. All the while, a gin and tonic by my side, like all writer stereotypes.

I hated myself, as anyone will when they stare at a wall which separates them from another world they can’t reach. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. I wouldn’t blame anyone for punching that face.

Eventually I ran out of paper.

The joy I’d heard earlier outside the window returned, but it was dark now. Heels were clicking, the owners tripping.

My glass tipped, I needed more. I had to go out, despite myself. No matter how much I loathed the author of this night, I had to face him. I had to check I looked okay before I went outside.

I smashed my head into the first face I saw, then I carried on.

I was in the world of stilted lives outside, where grazed knees are all which many have to remember of the night, before they look in the mirror.

© Steve Laker, 2020

Feast on the forbidden inside. Wash your mask in the font. Wipe it clean with cotton paper. Spread the dark curtains and remove your make-up.

Shooting up from the oceans

POETRY

INK IN THE SKIN

Gas Station Horror PoemGas Station Horror

If you can’t write your dreams, remember to live them. Then maybe someone can write them for you.

Fell asleep with a cigarette

THE WRITER’S LIFE

There are few people like me, who wander around the perimeter of mental health, sometimes just to test the water at the shore. Several thousand of us are barely noticed in a world of billions of contradictions.

We can walk for mental miles before we find a fellow human we can engage with, then when drinking at the pool of life, the same conversation ensues:

“Can I interfere in your crisis?”
“No, mind your own business.”

Fall asleep with a cigarette, to the flicker of a TV set…

Cat in bed Green

This is me and thousands of others, and I have a friend who’s unlike me in all respects but for one commonality: We sometimes find life around us so confusing that the only person who might make sense of it is ourselves. And even then, we get confused and we don’t talk. We try, but in the end, it’s only to ourselves.

Friends try to talk to the person inside which doesn’t understand itself, so we push them away. We’d prefer reasoned debate to conflict but we punch walls because they can’t talk. Mirrors don’t fight back either.

Once we’ve punched all the barriers away, we’re left drinking alone, while kindred spirits live in another country on the other side of the water. Distant nomads, thinly-spread on the human landscape like Marmite on toast, neurotribes look away from their reflection in the drink.

SEVERAL THOUSAND MANIACS

Monkey Black heart Head up Kid

There’s an oasis we don’t see, because we’re too busy looking into the pool of our own lives, rarely daring to look up. But deep in that reflection is the admission that we’re only fighting with ourselves, punching water and making ripples: contradictions.

“Is that your personal crisis over there?”
“Yeah.”
“Shall we skim a pebble? It might look up.”
“Should we do that? We might hit it in the head and fuck it up.”
“Fuck yeah. If we don’t, the neurotribes will have one less introspective maniac to reflect on. Personal crises have a habit of becoming self-consuming and aren’t so good at swimming.”

We are the mental health rejects, introverts, alone on opposite shores and other planets: our own, invaded by so many middle-class pretenders. But we’re several thousand maniacs together, and we can spot the interlopers from a mile away on a world where only the truly mad can survive.

Existential cat

Keep your head up kid, I know you can swim. But ya gotta move your legs.” (Augustines)

We won’t all find meaning in life, but it’s nice to spend the one we have with people who provide glimpses into another world, wherever they’re from. The flicker of a TV set.

Stay home and do subtraction

THE WRITER’S LIFE

“It’s a subjective term, an elective one; something in your shoes, or on them. Do you want to walk it into your house?”

blood film strip

There’s nothing especially wrong with talking to your reflection in the mirror, but when you begin by addressing it, “Look…” then perhaps you know you’re talking to yourself because there’s no-one else around. Sometimes the man in the mirror finds poetry the best reflection when alone on a very cold planet.

Down here below the mirror, in the blind spot where a kid gets crushed against the railings by a council dustcart, I write prose for the anxious souls who have to venture out and engage with society, because authority requires them to do so, even the surrealists.

I write poetry for those who’d rather not invite community into what society conditions civilised humanity to consider convention; verses for those who have to get up and dress themselves before they go anywhere; and pages torn from the book of entrapment.

Letters from personal imprisonment, where visitors are discouraged; notes discovered in a pocket. A message from a lonley planet to whomever might be listening, some horror writers find poetry to be their best outlet for that which spans their real and fictional worlds. With its minimal words, the medium of the verse paints portraits and landscapes with bridges in the background. As if anyone hadn’t worked out that the world isn’t safe in human custody…

TEPID HANDS

Hands_of_hell

Life on earth attending a friend’s funeral then escaping before the wake, wondering if as many people will turn up at theirs and who’ll provide the sandwiches; or leaving a party when you’re less conspicuous by your absence; the art of subtraction and division is fucking off and talking to yourself about the mess you made.

It’s impossible to invite people home when you have no home to speak of, so you write about what it was once like when your world was cooler.

“Look, there’s no-one else around. Let me see you in the mirror. It means I’m not looking at you directly. The underfloor heating will keep us warm.”

Staedtler Noris 122

And all the surrealist can do is support his fiction on crutches, and hope there’ll be elephants in the room, knowing they’ll be floating in the air so lightly that they don’t crush the eggshells on the floor while the clocks melt.

Something a confused writer questioning reality with poetry can do, is keep a personal diary. The only way to make sense of it is to leave it open on the last page. Then I’m something. 

Curse of the horror writer

MICRO FICTION

blood-lamps bright

A HORRORIST PARADOX

I killed you a long time ago, but I had to be sure. I had to go back and check.

I looked at you again.

The sweet stench of a rotting soul, a taste of why I killed you long ago.

A reminder, never truly gone unless forgotten.

I held you once more, an incurable addiction, back in my hands.

Syringe pen red

© Steve Laker, 2020

A parable perhaps of many things; toxic relationships, if you like. Minimalism is the art of the lazy writer leaving the heavy lifting to the reader.

The paradox of being a horror writer. If you can’t stop thinking, you can’t cease to be one. You can never escape the nightmares, so long as the cursed red ink flows through you.

 

 

Echoes of a stranger population

THE WRITER’S LIFE | POETRY

Stranger people walk odd and indirect paths, which sometimes cross. They don’t follow signposts or conventions, happier inside to stop and talk things through with the people they connect with in nature, rather than a forced social paradigm; to complete the jigsaw from the inside out. The puzzle of life takes longer to conclude for them. While I have to balance breathing and swallowing, for some it’s a walk in the park…

These are the people I like to meet. Mostly they’re from a younger generation (like my own children), with an opinion on most things about the world which my era brought them into, an enabling age of permission.

These missionaries are the paradox of human nature, with no wish to conform and no reason to say thanks. They’re part of a people which transcends generations. They are the neurotribes…

THE ABDUCTION OF TRUTH

Alien abduction poemSyracuse Newtimes

This goes out to my dad too, looking down at an unfamiliar carpet, in a nursing home where he can’t afford to live, watching the ghosts in white uniforms walk by.

The people most confused about life are often the most interesting to talk to life about, because confusion denies condition and defies convention. They walk a bit funny, as though concentrating on their legs. Because they don’t always feel comfortable on Earth. These are the starseeds, wandering the universe in their minds. They’re connected to us by biology, but free to question what we didn’t, if we allow them to.

They are the beacons of humanity who light the night sky.