the lady sets flame

The nearly-old woman had rowed across an entire ocean.

Sick of water and the hyena laughs of seagulls’ cries, she found herself dreadfully lonely. A certain kind of lovely ennui.

Upon finally reaching a shore, she steps onto land.

Snatching up and opening her waterproof satchel, she snaps off her final dry match from the little book.

Striking the head, the lady sets the flame to the first tree she sees.

The limbs swallow it and ignite.

The fire brigade arrives, as hoped, her bidden welcome wagon heeding its combusted summons.

They were upset.

“You seem upset. It’s just a trick I learned from the matchstick boys,” she shrugs.

Kids soon arrive to witness the hullabaloo. The fragrance of the fire turns to a stinking reek, as they throw garbage to feed the pyre. Glass, aluminum, become explosives, followed by bombs of pubescent giggling.

“Why are you here?” the exasperated chief inquires.

“Because you have land here.”

“What?”

“Because the ocean thrust me here.”

“Why were you on a rowboat in the ocean to begin with?!”

“I was exiled from another strip of land for starting fires. Shall I grab a bucket of water? I’ve experienced putting them out, too. Water? Wood? I can carry six of one and a half dozen of the other.”

“Matchstick boys teach you that, too?” asks the chief.

“No. Priapus protects them against prosecution. They never developed a taste for accountability.”

“And, you did?”

“Yes, chief. I’m an honest fire bug,” she says.

She reaches into the camisole grasping her breasts and slides out a demure rectangle. Opening her copper cigarette case, she removes one and waggles the rest at the chief.

“Want one? They make your skin look younger and your hair shine brighter.”

The chief shakes his head.

She delicately clasps the slight case closed and taps the head of the smoke twice against shut copper. Packing it.

“Suit yourself,” she says slipping the case away, against her heart.

She gingerly leans into the burning bush which is all that remains of the smouldering tree.

She inhales, putting fire to leaf, lighting her penultimate square.

untapped tenterhooks

“”

She watched his exposed pocketwatch glitch, continually clicking on 1:13.

“Your timepiece has a hiccup,” she says.

“No. That hitch in its get along preserves a piece of time specifically.”

“Oh Specific Standard Time?” she teases.

He rolls his eyes.

That frozen timezone where this intensity of scent memory seduces all into succumbing. Cologne in an elevator. Columbarium. The sweet soap the waitress who touches your shoulder wears. The aroma of my shampoo lingering on your throw pillows.

“You shed, you know?” he says.

“I have known for a while.”

“I found one of your hairs a month after you left.”

“So? Where, what was done with it, and what did you care?”

He simply makes eye contact again and stares.

Returning home, with untapped tenterhooks and tarp in her pack, she bivouacked on the sidewalk of the High Street. Too tired to care about pitching shelter after being so carelessly untiring.

“”

traded for the raw.

The body awoke ready to go, bit chomping.

The mirror folded; I fell inside.

Slipping between thighs. Breathy ardour.

Missing the coverage provided by the forest, traded for the raw exposure upon the lapping shore.

Everyone can hear my morning stomach growl, but doubt they do.

What’s the point?

The finality of a punctuated period.

The capital letter leads the presentation of the subsequent subject of a sentence.

Verdict of friction made visible by the absence of the fricative.

Does it taste as I imagine? Salty and acrid.

Does it pass through the nostrils in musky humid drafts?

Expelled and rolling down cliffs of pronounced pelvic bones.

White capped.

innocuously mundane.

She catches a chill and undergoes a shaking spell.

Then, she is overcome by an awful heat and feels each pore producing perspiration.

But, she refuses to yield to the wind’s howling blasts. Wet hair whipping her cheeks as she walks under the gray sky.

“I am inexorable.”

And, she is glad to have a little, physical battle to fight. Anything to distract her from thinking of her subliminal war.

And, though it is Friday night and she strides down Main Street, she passes no one.

She recalls how it stayed cloudy all day. The light did not change.

She studies her left hand, as she thinks she could be dreaming. But, it appears innocuously mundane.

“Daydreamers are still sleepwalkers,” she realizes, giggling.

Then, she feels too silly for her age and too aged for her years.

Unnaturally timeless. And, still, the moment passes but her face remains essentially the same.

Fayish brow

She watched the Spanish moss tremble like brittle, witch hair, from the tree top canopy.

She swayed in the tire swing, to the tempo followed by the fauna of the faux ceiling.

Fayish brow radiant. Macabre grin smeared like lipstick across her wet lips.

The full moon loomed much larger than the sun. Hanged very near to the horizon.

And, the sun clearly existed to cast its light onto a face of the moon.

The moon existing to reflect the light.

Beguiled. Not mislead or manipulated.

So, breathe and find your space. Set it.

Sit on the floor and command a stunned crowd.

Crickets’ legs start singing in the midst of your wake.

Hyenas and spiders, hucksters and tricksters, wipe slates clean and call themselves rock stars.

An amplified battalion of holy Roman candles.

She swings on the rubber pendulum and watches them burn out, one by one by one.

And, they make her feel timeless as she watches their combustible timelines fly violently up, by, and, past hers.

And, the world around her transitions from dusk to dark.

And, this is howl she howls.

Shielded by the shadow of the tree from which she swings,

pitching her head back and pushing her face skyward,

she takes a deep breath in with her mouth.

And, she forces the air hard and fast from her lungs, back out of her humid mouth.

The anatomical line is straight.

She lets it whisper a vibration over her vocal chords; plucking a hushed, prolonged “ha” from the guttural.

And, she feels all her venom pouring out like ectoplasm at a traditional Victorian seance. It is ebony while everything else has gone red.

And, she swears she has forgotten howl to breathe; but, then she recalls she is unable to remember what made her believe she needs to breathe at all.

a mile in the woods

Secret doors and hidden entrances, collectively called

a hunch of archways.

The price of admission is the cost of focused attention,

afforded by the prise of having discerning eyes.

Period

.

<full>

Stop

.

Hunker down and cross the threshold.

The gatekeeper nodded you in and whispered, “god bless.”

.

<full>

Stop

.

Speaking softly to unseen entities,

she was pacing the bridge over the salmon ladder,

looking like little red riding hood in a scarlet dress and houndstooth coat.

A mile in the woods, gazing into the water below and becoming quite sure it was actually the sky and what she thought was the sky above was actually water.

.⁹

<full>

Stop

.

The sky below and the pond above.

The pond does not reflect the sky.

The sky above is a giant mirror reflecting the bits of sky below

which we call water.

.

<full>

Stop

.

She feels her pupils suddenly dialate revelation of the trance state, wherein visions and dreams do come.

You were right to call it tricky.

Time flips and drips like a resinous sap down the bark of a tree’s trunk.

Slow and viscous.

Unable to be wiped away, time’s flow simply smears the surfaces.

Strange distortions.

It was as if someone had spread butter on all the fine parts of the stars,” she sang in her mind, looking at the watery sky.

And, in that moment she recalled something she once knew to be true.

She wonders, does it remain true even when I forget it is true?

ill-suited.

He looked terrifically out of place, dressed like that, here on the trail.

She was a bit irritated at the utter distraction of him.

Yet, he was fascinating.

But, she was trying to take a walk through the woods down to the fish ladder of the old mill creek; and, here was a man in a three piece suit, postured in repose on the sopping bank, as though prostrating before some ancient pagan god.

And, from across the salmon’s spawning pond, she espied that while his necktie was perfectly knotted, the color and pattern of it did not suit his suit.

Not in the slightest.

Off-rack; Tailor made. Beholden; Bespoke

He just sat there. Brutally still, Unnaturally, there in the tall grass.

Loafers in the mud. Simply wearing all the wrong clothes.

She imagines he must be a terrible dancer.

And, she suddenly wants to interrupt him and ask for a dance.