GUEST POST // Just Like Them by Stephen Philip Druce

They wished for a baby boy:

tall,
handsome,
polite,
clever,
precocious,
virtuous,
noble,
successful,
triumphant, but

the boy turned out
to be just like them.

Damn!
Damn?

Damn fools!

who else goes into the mix?

 

by STEPHEN PHILIP DRUCE
© All rights reserved 2018

BUT IS IT POETRY? // a Pissed off Muse

Do you think
that your Muse is dead?
Balderdash!
She is tired.
She is just flat on her ass.
Yes! Dash it all, yes!

She couldn’t bear
your endless snivel,
hysterics,
binge drinking
You, pathetic Creator!
She dumped you, dumbass!

Two talented lines
aren’t worth two wasted years… yes.
Muses can fuck up.

1265542358_ornament

TONY: Tati, have you ever been pissed off?

Tati doesn’t answer. She keeps looking to the door.

TONY: Tati?

Still no answer.

TONY: TATI!

TATI: Huh? Yes, of course. Every time you ask a silly question.

TONY: Hey! All of my questions are individual quests for truth! Don’t be dissin’ my questions, man!

TATI: I’m not a man.

TONY: Anyway, there’s this really cool poem you wrote once. It’s called ‘a Pissed off Muse’. Do you remember it?

Tati looks at the wall clock, then says with a petulant gesture…

TATI: Yes, I do. I’m not such a leaky head. Not like someone I could mention in this room…

TONY: Hey! I only forget the stuff that’s not worth remembering!

TATI: Uh hum… Indeed, why should you stuff your head with nonsense like the due date for our tax returns, or when to pay for municipal services?

TONY: Look, I don’t mind living without electricity sometimes, and since when have we ever earned enough to pay taxes?

TATI: Well, this time I’m going to agree with you.

Tati keeps flitting her eyes between the clock and the door, then glances out the window.

TATI: So, do you really think it’s a cool poem?

TONY: I do! I think it’s bitchin’!

TATI: Uh hum… Well… Thank you, I suppose. May I ask why you recalled it just out of the blue?

TONY: Well, it strikes me that no one ever asks the muse if they even want to be a muse in the first place, and your poem seems to reflect this. It presents the muse’s viewpoint.

This seems to get Tati’s attention. She looks at Tony for a moment.

TATI: Yes. By the way, Tony, did you know that ‘muse’ can mean not only a source of inspiration but a creator or poet also?

TONY: Oh. Really? That… That doesn’t sound quite right…

TATI: Why?

TONY: Because muses are usually only presented as some kind of insipidly romanticised ‘source of inspiration’ (to use your words). But the whole thing’s not so romantic really, is it?

Tati’s eyes have gone back to the door.

TATI: Sigh. Never mind. Do you have a muse?

TONY: Nope. Why reduce someone to nothing more than a source of inspiration for my creative endeavours? They don’t exist purely to orbit and nurture my every brain fart, do they?

TATI: Not everyone is such an egoist, Tony! ‘Nurture my every fart.’ Many creators take their muses as higher beings, not mere servants of their creative labours.

TONY: I’m not so convinced! I can’t shake the feeling that a lot of muses are mere extensions of their creators’ egos, and therefore not considered to be the higher beings you sugge—Hey! Are you listening at all? I said ‘my every brain fart’, not ‘my every fart’!

TATI: No. I don’t sleep.

TONY: Huh?!

Tati shakes her head, as if to clear it, then continues to give the door, clock and window her full attention.

TONY: See?! You’re not listening!

TATI: Not at all. Pardon? Oh, of course, you have my undivided attention.

TONY: Are you sure? I’ve been talking to your nape for the last bleedin’ hour!

Tati sighs.

TATI: I only wonder if we can talk about something else…

TONY: Okay. Fine. What would you prefer?

There’s a knocking at the door.

TATI: Wait! Do you hear that?

TONY: You bet your sweet bippy. I wonder who it can be?

Tati starts to fuss around a bit. She goes to a cupboard and pulls out some slippers, then runs to the kitchen to brew some tea. When this is done, she brings out a huge pile of fresh newspapers and tosses them on the table.

TATI: Okay, could you get the door, Tony? I think that may be for me.

Tony answers the door. A huge, glistening penguin wearing a monocle and biting down on a pipe enters the house, brushing past him like he’s not there. It waddles towards the kitchen, its pipe leaving a trail of soap bubbles.

TONY: Oh, of course. Now I understand who serves whom, my Dear Genius.

TATI: Hush! Don’t piss off the Muse!

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

CALIXIAN // Long Tails & Boozy Tales

Write drunk, edit sober.

I look at those empty cans in the trash bin. Then I look at the empty screen with its blinking cursor. So far it’s three to zero for the cans. Words are trailing far behind. But I won’t give up. It’s only a matter of time and patience. I open the next can.

“So, it turns out that the average number of blinks made by someone getting their photo taken is ten per minute. The average blink lasts about two hundred and fifty milliseconds and, in good indoor light, the camera shutter stays open for about eight milliseconds. Exciting, huh?!”

Oh, shit, really?

“This way, photographing thirty people in bad light would need about thirty shots. Once there’s around fifty people, even in good light, you can kiss your hopes of an unspoilt photo goodbye. Listen now, this is the most interesting part…”

Gosh, what a load of cack!

“To calculate the number of photos you’d need to take for groups of less than twenty, divide the number of people by three if there’s good light and two if the light’s bad. Hey, Calix, buy me a camera? Please, pretty pretty please! I’ll take a photo of you and Darwin!”

I take my eyes off the screen and point them at the tank sitting on the book shelf. The goldfish goggles at me from there, its own eyes pleading, magnified through the dirty glass.

“You got a smartphone at Christmas, didn’t you? Use that!”

The goldfish pouts and turns its luxuriously long tail towards me. I give a nonchalant shrug and get back to the throes of creation. I don’t have time for silly chitchats. It’s about one in the morning, four to zero for cans, and I’ve still no fucking idea what I’ll write for tomorrow’s advice column. Nasty egoistic sprat! Instead of babbling various nonsense about blinking and winking, it would be better if he helped me with the task at hand.

Absently, I pull a book from the shelf and open it at a random page.

He called out to the golden fish
and the fish swam up and asked him,
“What is it, old man, what do you need?”

Yes, I know what I fucking need now, but where can I find a bloody talking golden fish? This is life, silly Calix, not Pushkin’s fairy tales! I gloomily open the next can. At least the beer is real.

My last thought before my head droops on the table is that I need to wake up early and take out the trash. I don’t want Darwin seeing this mess. After all, every accomplished woman of letters has her own little secrets.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2018

DARWINIAN // Feeding the Fish

“Y’know, me dear old nan used to say that it isn’t normative for a god to reveal itself supernaturally. And she was a nun!”

Bleary-eyed and rat-mouthed, Ezra Darwin squinted up at the ceiling, wondering why the clock radio wasn’t there.

“Which begs the question: What would you do to provide for your loved ones in the event of your untimely demise? Would you leave their fates to fate, or would you step up and take charge?”

Oh. That’s right. It wasn’t normative for clock radios to dwell on ceilings. Ezra turned his head. His cheek rolled into the soft, fresh swell of a pillow. God. That soothing coolness felt so damn good.

“Death can come a-knocking at any moment, so instead of praying for resurrectal intervention, why not hop on the blower and give Miracle Life Insurance a call? We’re true blue, and we bloody care.”

And there it was. The clock radio was a bit blurry and a bit… vertical, but well within reach. Ezra extended his arm and arced it downward, silencing said device with a decisive thwack. Goodbye annoying ad, and hello annoying new day! Ugh. It was time for his morning wee.

Ezra rolled onto his side, swung his feet to the floor, and sat up. Okay, so he wasn’t going to throw up yet. His head felt like a block of marinated wood with buzzing, nightmare insects for eyes. Maybe he shouldn’t have downed that fifth Balkan last night.

He jerked to a standing position. Well, Ezra thought he was standing. He hoped he was standing. And why were the walls dancing around? Were they celebrating something? Surely it was too early in the morning for celebration? He tried not to move his head too much, and concentrated on aiming himself at the ensuite door. Once he was vaguely lined up with its somewhat sideways edges, Ezra lurched forward in one gangly, awkward motion.

It didn’t help that everything was too small in this apartment. Space was at an absolute premium, and there were boxes and other shit absolutely everywhere. Ezra hadn’t unpacked since his arrival nearly ten months ago. Time was slipping by at a rate of impossible deadlines and boozy binge sessions punctuated by episodes of extreme anxiety, and nothing had improved. There had to be a better way to make a living.

Ezra fumbled with himself. Shit. Was it just his imagination or was it getting harder to piss? Or was he simply dehydrated from the previous evening’s impressive, alcohol-fuelled train wreck? He should get his prostate checked. Prostate was remarkably like prostrate, which all of a sudden seemed like an outstanding career move. His junk still flapping from his trunks, Ezra resisted the impulse to fall back, and flopped forward onto the toilet bowl instead.

He was in the process of disgorging the contents of his stomach when he noticed the goldfish looking up at him.

Huh?!

 

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018