Orpheus

Hades, lord of the underworld sat askew on a roughly-hewn throne. His silent wife, Persephone stood, as she always did. Just behind him. She looked at the floor and said nothing. The cavern was ghost-quiet, though billions of ephemeral souls blew about them in an astral wind, filling the dark chamber where Hades sat. Pensive. His clammy fingertips touching. He drew in a deep breath and blew a thick smoke ring from his cold, pale lips, watching dispassionately as the vapour coalesced into human form, a shade in the aether. It was Apollo’s son, Orpheus. Orpheus the bard. Orpheus the lyre. He had his famous harp slung on his back, and arms unused to toil were struggling him up the entrance to a cave, to the banks of the river Acheron. It was hard to see in the smoke-vision, but Hades fancied that Orpheus’ eyes carried a steely, determined glint. In the smog, Orpheus knelt at the river and cried out. Soon enough a boat appeared from the mist carrying Charon, the silent ferryman. Charon held out a skeletal hand, but Orpheus had no coin to pay him. Instead, on his knees he unslung his lyre and strummed and sang. The strings of the instrument vibrated with such power that they coloured the smoke-screen Hades was viewing through. Tinges of purple and violet plumed outwards, and when he sang, the smoke billowed from his mouth in a dizzying electric indigo. It was his song of grief. He sang of his lost love Eurydice, cruelly taken from him, and of his quest to the underworld to bring her back to the land of the living. He sang with such passion and such pain and such raw emotion that Charon, the empty and impassive ferryman was moved. Bones that could not feel, felt. The ever-still waters of the Acheron rocked up against the boat to listen closer, and the rocks themselves wept. Charon extended his hand and helped Orpheus, the tear-stained, onto the boat. Hades waved a hand through the vision and the smoke dissipated. “Interesting.” He said aloud. He turned to look at his wife, but Persephone’s expression had not changed. “None may cheat death.” Continue reading “Orpheus”

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You Can’t Dance In Gumshoes

Dark streets.
A bloody dance of money, or love, or revenge.
A sudden sharp flash of violence, an inevitable mis-step and the music stops.
And two people is now one person and one corpse.
Running footsteps.
Time passing with trash-wind and a curious fox.
An interlude.
An early dog-walk-discovery leads to screaming and phone calls and sirens.
The sirens start act two.
Two cars. Two coppers apiece. A well rehearsed quartet.
To take a statement, and tape the pavement and patiently stave off the videotapers:
The instagram journalists, the twitterazzi and crime carrion,
The lorekeepers, engraving our passions and our past on tablets no longer made of stone.
An instant, international chorus that rounds out the sound and carries the song.
Wave them on, conductor, wave them on.

Morning traffic trickles and slows to a standstill stare.
No pulse, no paramedics. They’re done dancing, let them rest.
Forensics are late but awake.
Plastic bags and latex gloves.
Cameras and questions.
Words flying over the heads of the beat-cops.
A new dance begun, to a medical song.
Of angles, and blood-stains,
Incisions, contusions,
Of foot prints and finger prints and
Surgical terms.

At the edge of the ballroom, he’s waiting by the beat cops
Allowed past the tape, but barely inside.
He stifles a yawn, he’s been up since dawn,
And drinking before that.
He watches the blood and the flirting, uncertain
If the two young forensics are intimate yet.
He waits, and dispatches a beat-cop for coffee,
Wanting to join in the evidence gathering,
Desperate to eat something more dirty than pastry
And to sink his teeth into the case, and throw himself around the floor.
Still he waits for the news,
Because he knows
That you can’t dance in gum-shoes.

He’s a fighter, not a lover.
And when he gets the file, the day’s almost done,
But he’s just begun.
A DNA match.
He doesn’t know how it works.
He doesn’t much care.
It got him a name.
He’s a hunting dog.
And he moves without style.
Barely a dance, but with scent and with fury he prowls through the night.
Knocking some doors.
Kicking some in.
Knocking some people around.
Kicking some of them in, too.
Until finally, bruised and belligerent, he has his man.
In cuffs.
In the car.
Slam.

It’s late now.
The detective is tired, and tried.
A long night made longer by paperwork and pen-pushing,
Whiskey and writing out form after form,
After hours. And he’s done. He takes off his gumshoes,
He takes his applause and he blacks out and leaves the stage.
His race is run, and for him the show is over.

Somewhere a lawyer,
A crime commissioner,
A prosecutor,
A newspaper editor,
Twelve unsuspecting jurists,
A hundred unsuspecting citizens,
A thousand different people
Hear the music start.
And they begin to dance.

Beware the Horrid/Humid

In the depths of Summer,
When the sun beats sticky into your clothes,
And the air is thick
And the flies are huge,
Maybe stay at home. Indoors.

Ignore the beach.
Ignore the lure of the blue,
Of wide skies and deep seas,
Of outside meals and verdant pleasantries,
Of laughter and bronzing and
Of strangers, scantily clad.

For those are his baits,
His gaudy feathers,
His colourful lures,

And you are his prey.

He lurks,
In the heat,
The Horrid-Humid.

The beast that feeds,
With slow-grinding jaws of sweat,
Upon fine plans and the day’s desires,
With all the sad certainty of a sand-castle.

KNOW the Horrid-Humid by his roar:
The screams of too-hot toddlers,
The crashing of too-big waves,
And the droning of a thousand picnic-wasps.

FEAR the Horrid-Humid for his hunger:
His ice-cream melting,
Tin-car-boiling,
Family-frustrating,
Let’s-just-go-home-then,
Day-ruining hunger.

AVOID the Horrid-Humid by his nature,
And learn to live in his shadow.
For he always faces the sun,
And he cannot see you,
Or hurt you,
In the shade.

So.
In the depths of Summer,
When all is shorts and sandals,
And flip-flops and buckets
And spades and sand and salt…

Look up and see the Horrid-Humid,
Huge,
And Sweltering,
And Just-Outside your door.
And maybe stay at home. Indoors.
And let another be his prey.