Worms And Words

John’s corpse’s coffin stands on four stilt-legs and the worms are dead because the corpse is poisoned…….How can John own a corpse if he is dead? How can a coffin belong to a corpse? When a corpse is dead, it can have no possible jurisdiction…….I disagree…….Well, how did the worms reach the corpse if its coffin is on stilt-legs?…….They must have plopped from the earthy roof of the tomb and then squirmed between the cracked soft-centered nut of corpse and coffin-shell…….Well, the poisoning of the corpse – was it before or after death? If before, was such poisoning the cause of death? I believe that any particular poison can only work once…….I can confirm that the poisoning followed John’s death. The natural excrement lodged in its intestines awaiting dispersal was extracted – then inserted in its place was the poison. The excrement was then wadded into the corpse’s mouth and throat, as far as it could be pushed. Corpses can gag at such treatment, an after-death effect that long outlasts rigor-mortis…….Why all this special treatment of John’s corpse? …….To prevent vampires from restoring any figment of its fading life, since the blood for which they thirst should already be nothing but brown sludge. The poison speeds up the body’s corruption better than disguising its private parts with garlic bulbs…….Why are you telling me all this? …….Well, I am a corpse’s dream and I don’t really otherwise exist…….How am I speaking to you like this? …….Well, your voice is so glutted and clogged, the words are coming out like gurgling slime. So it’s a question of me reading your mind. Or even, you reading mine. Perhaps all the words are yours, including mine…….For God’s sake, who are you? …….I’m a very frightened creature who suffers a vocal madness since they buried me with John’s corpse. In its mouth and throat, amid its tongue and teeth, instead of leaving me in its bowels where I truly belonged. Now I’ve told you who I am, admit that you are John! …….Perhaps, but only if a vampire can keep its Christian name.

(published ‘Nightlore’ 1996)


A Comforting Wrath

I am in a tiswas about Mr. Nasty, a tantrum about Mrs. T., a lather about the serrated edge of my neck but, above all, a right state about the way the Soviet Union is going these days. All I need is a calmative, to make me take less seriously the serious things in life. However, the problems with which I’m faced are like the shaving mirror – it magnifies my mug to mind-blowing proportions and, what with the bulging eyes and the gaping pores, I seem ever outraged, furious, frenzied, cataleptic… When I poke my tongue, it’s a flesh-eater of a snake writhing out at me! God, how can my equanimity survive this? No wonder the blade jabs down my whisker-roasted skin, more like a novice on razor-sharp skis than the pure frictionless skimming of a Torville and Dean. Which reminds me, this country’s sports people don’t stand a chance against those reared in communist states. I put it all down to Mrs T. Makes me mad!

(published ‘Purple Patch’ 1989)


Mistaken Identity

I really thought I must *be* the Invisible Man,
With waxen strips swaddled round a swollen head.
I stumbled, stood, scratched an itch, then ran and ran,
Even if my vacant limbs felt like heavy swinging lead.

Could I be indeed the solid ghost of H.G.Wells?
Or the empty effigy of a zombie’s dummy?
Then a thousand tongues from a million hells
Said I wasn’t invisible, merely a gummy mummy.

(published ‘Star*Line’ 1993)


No Dreams, No Packdrill

It was darker towards the middle of the room.

There is no fear greater than that of a greater fear. And a fear of death is not the greatest of all, by far.

John’s thoughts fired off each other as he dreaded their eventual outcome: insanity, complete and utter.

He had been in this room since daybreak. He had woken up on the couch, having the previous night fallen asleep, he thought, in his usual bed upstairs…if indeed he were downstairs at all.

The couch was under a bay window, a wooden surface with a narrow mattress on it. Most of the daylight hours he had been snoozing between dreams. Now with dusk, he noticed that the outskirts of the room, including even the windowless walls, were shirmering with light, leaving the central rug between the fireplace and the bay window in shadow. Not only shadow, but an almost tangible sooty mist rising towards the ceiling.

With growing horror, he realised that the dreams need not have been dreams at all, but merely what he feared most: the onset of insanity.

Then cane the big doubt, the one flaw in his line of argument. His mind flooded with mental fire, as he grew less confident about the nature/demarcation line of dream and insanity. Then, of course, there was that first rogue force called reality which feeds from both dream and insanity and then calls itself sanity for convenience (or just for the laugh). He felt more than a little confused, without properly understanding that the degree of his confusion was affecting all his senses, not only that of thinking. He smelled awful. He tasted his own dead body. He saw nothing but his own eyeballs slowly revolving in their sockets, with all the scratching at the window to get in. He touched the top of his head and felt a gluey substance instead, which action in itself seemed to cause other senses to be worse affected. The darkness in the middle of the room disappeared from sight.

John woke up in his usual bed upstairs, having slipped peacefully through a dreamless night, a beauty sleep to end all beauty sleeps. But it was still very dark outside.

(published ‘Midnight In Hell’ 1991)


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