Lowest Ebb

Death Wish

For photography maestros,
seeking the perfect shot,
daybreak was a serendipitous moment;
barely rivaled by magnetic midnights.
Ray’s appreciation for the life giving properties of stars
had been extinguished long ago,
that radiant morning sky
may as well have been
a grainy black and white reproduction
marred by coffee stains and pigeon shit.
He slid beneath a slowly collapsing fence,
hoping to stay there until cockroaches
had excreted the last of his rotting flesh.

After two days of wasting away,
the tattered remains of his will to live
hauled him into the light of a blood red moon.
Devastated by his failure to die
he lurched in the direction of home,
pausing at the edge of a cliff
and a railway overpass enroute.
His life was an endlessly festering sore,
yet suicide remained as unlikely
as a delirium tremens sufferer
trapping an angry hornet with chop sticks.
Metres from his door he was immobilised,
by the fear of being thrashed for evading school.

As a storm approached, Ray’s mood shifted
from morbid paranoia to sheer panic.
Golf ball sized hail stones stunned homebound boozers
into phlegm spraying sprints.
Thunder and lightning sent neighbourhood cats and dogs
into a frenzied cacophony of hissing and howling.
Throughout the ordeal
Ray remained as motionless as the gargoyle
perched on his ornamental sandstone letterbox.


Ursula’s Ice Cream Dream

Ray’s mood hadn’t lifted
since he was found in the foetal position,
after his failed bid to die a famine victims death.

His mother steered him into Ursula’s Ice Cream Dream.
A crater of chocolate veined Arabic coffee,
lovingly created by a mango swirl asteroid
and laced with berry spliced English toffee;
failed to ameliorate Ray’s melancholy muteness.
Sprinkled ice as crushed as him,
hardly elicited euphoric memories of Smiggins snow men.
The most delectable dessert ever chilled
may as well have been
partially composted Brussels Sprouts.
That winter, all food was puke inspiring cardboard to Ray.
His untouched snack
melted like the Wicked Witch of The West.


Rowena’s Rare Reads

While Ray’s mum had her midnight ringlets
streaked with purple and silver,
he wandered into the second hand bookshop.
The cloistered maze of shelves felt less threatening
than the blend of car stereos,
impatient horns and enraged taunts outside.

Rowena’s shop felt as permanent as the pyramids.
Rumours of ancient Egyptian scrolls
in her stately storeroom
hadn’t brought a cavalcade of detectives
on behalf of Tutankhamun yet.

Rowena’s haunting melodies, accompanied by
the medicinally morbid tones of Pink Floyd,
were as soothing as an urban forest.
Ray felt a burning urge to bury his face
in the valley of her bosoms,
but just choking out a hello,
proved to be as difficult
as hauling a carnival fat man from a well.

The girl with cascading honey blonde hair,
in the psychology aisle, looked as approachable
as the patron saint of terrified boys.
She didn’t say anything, she just kissed her hand
and rested it on Ray’s cheek.
She waited for the tears and hugged him goodbye.
He was too surprised by the gesture
to mourn her departure,
until she was as long gone as the Saharan Jungle.

As Ray explored the poetry section,
a heirloom copy of Homer’s Odyssey
plummeted to the floor.
Sequences of sketches, on mediaeval parchment,
depicting an amorphous blob transforming into an angel,
escaped from between its pages.
The archaic caption translated to
‘chaos rendered into hope.’


Soul Cancer

As sunrise prised Ray’s eyelids apart,
as mercilessly as a white hot tooth pick,
hope seemed more distant
than an ancient Sumerian incarnation.
Life had lost its flavour.
The greatest novel ever written
moved him no more than a spelling list.
Drifting through the depths of an oasis lagoon,
would’ve revitalised him less
than second hand bath water,
in a warehouse of plastic trees.

Ray fastened his tie
as grimly as if it were a hangman’s noose.
“Quit the distressed act and get in the fucking car”
his father bellowed from the driveway,
as Ray dry retched into a vomit fouled sink.
As the old Ford entered the school gates,
Ray was as nervous as conjoined twins forced to choose
between cart wheeling across a high wire
and facing a firing squad.

The class sniggered
as Mr Sneddon quizzed Ray on quadratic trinomials.
He stared at the blackboard in mute panic.
Recess offered no relief.
If the playground was a pool of sharks
Ray was a paralysed seal.
In history he lay slumped over his desk,
as inanimate as the rodent violated corpses
on the Western Front.
A public speaking test inched closer,
like the tide edging towards a toddler
buried to the chin.

That evening, Ray entered the family car
like a death row prisoner enroute to the electric chair.
Normally busloads of girls would’ve thrilled him
more than a luxury cruise to Mars
but his mind was in a place where gourmet meals
taste like asbestos cookies in plutonium syrup.
Cuties mistook his grimace for contempt.
From their attention he was soon exempt.
That social gathering soothed Ray
like treating sunburn with a Bunsen burner.

Battle of the genders basketball began.
Ray felt no more enlivened by the spectacle
than if he’d been watching a crucifixion.
Serena’s sparkling gaze
couldn’t penetrate his blank stare.
She was on the verge of asking,
‘is there a boy in there’.
Uncomfortable with the way her father
stared at her cascading honey blonde hair,
every time she untied it,
Serena had shaved her head, so Ray wasn’t sure
where he’d seen those sparkling green eyes,
and lush lips before.

At the barbeque
Ray looked on as dispassionately as a sardine
as Zac Zorro Zimmerman strutted his way up the diving tower,
amidst risque repartee from flame haired floozies.
Three hundred students cheered enmass
as Zac ended his triple twist with a mighty splash,
drenching Ms Paige, living proof of the Jurassic age.
As she clenched the remnants of her teeth she raged
‘that’ll cost you ten pages on manners Zimmerman’



Incessant background babble amplified Ray’s paranoid terror.
He wandered into the darkness, beyond the flood lights,
Serena’s footsteps were muffled by jubilant chaos,
She sat beside him, drew him near
and coaxed a torrent of silent tears
from his bloodshot insomniac eyes.
He lost all sense of time and place
as she pressed his ear to her serenely beating heart.

In a secluded patch of moonlight
Ray spotted the succession of birthmarks
that graced the softness of her neck.
The first was a shapeless blob,
the last bore an uncanny resemblance to angels wings.

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