The birds against the clouds, their flapping sounds like snapping wires

As children we played with                 – never 
seeing them in the mirrored faces of 

our parents, returned home – No
I have returned, calling            ghosts bring back

cornfields & moons –         Didn’t we used to play?
I stood over     (memory has worn into glass) 

grass bodies of rabbits 
                        plotting cold, bending the road home

like a knee                                                      & mice
in a field mice in the graves we dug mice in the eyes

we’d wave our arms as in SOS 
away from the cats           but the cornfield

we brought with us –                          what’s left

of the house? what have we
conjured? We’ve conjured up Mother’s rooster

we’ve carried the moon’s light –

O dark what we buried. O animal bones.
Our bones on theirs                 who whispers dirt-

deep asking how we could be so cruel? O
          singing dark – for what we love. 

                                         II. 

Listen to the dead. We can get you 
                            there from here     (a dark space 

and forgotten – we)    in the place      where dead mice 
                            are just 
dead mice. 

You have returned home to un-
bury us. Home with its bent knee & cold

dirt in the fur. Home with its flick 
                           of hair like white rabbits. In our flanks 

secrets. In your hips, men
crying
in your skin, animal bones, your memories –

ghosts in
                           the cornfield            & searching.

Stephanie Bryant Anderson

 

17th August

While writing all else around me dissipates, vanishes as if it might never have been. The words I write, all my past experience is then vividly filtered and reborn in the labyrinth of mind – for all creation is fantasy, invention, yet solidly rooted in individual reality. Reality transformed by imagination.

#

Life is full of imponderables. For instance, how many roundabouts are there really in Milton Keynes? I hear of individuals going out with pen and paper to create a definitive list of them, but each day (or so it seems) the number of roundabouts changes?

Same too with the Hanger Lane Gyratory System: they say 10,000 vehicles an hour pass through this complex London junction – some never to be seen again! Is it possible, as has been suggested, that the planners in designing this, Britain’s “scariest” junction, had inadvertently created a portal to other dimensions?

And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, what the hell were they thinking when they put an Underground station slap in the feckin’ middle of it? Pedestrians trying to cross eight lanes of accelerating traffic have two options – die horribly, or dematerialise and reappear elsewhere…hopefully in the Underground station?

In another time Hieronymous Bosch would have cheerfully included the Hanger Lane Gyratory System in one of his visionary paintings of hell.

#

I’ve lived in this place at the edge of the moor longer than anywhere else in my life. Yet still it is not ‘home’. I feel strangely disposed here. An exile, if you will. A stranger in a strange land.

So, where then is my home?

Perhaps in a long gone childhood? There are times I feel old friends, shadows now, beckoning to me. But such a return is impossible. Instead I must remain in this chaotic half-world, wandering round the house with my ghosts.

So, is it time to move on? Find somewhere else to live? No way will I suffer in suburban miserabilism. It must be rural, wild – perhaps on a mountainside in Wales?

The Lake district?

And will I continue these dispatches from inside a fractured identity? I don’t know. But it is time to start searching for properties elsewhere.

Although I will miss the Bluebells flowering in the spring in our secret places, those places nearby where we lay and make love beneath the trees –

Suddenly, with the dizzying and limitless astonishment of a nightmare, she perceived that there was a building standing towards the summit of the hill [beyond their garden bounds], within the dark woods. She saw it very imperfectly, but what she saw made the blood sing in her head and her knees feel weak. How could there be, in that rustic spot, towering, buttressed walls, topped by arches, colonnade supporting colonnade? And, still above these, vast rotundas, from each of which was lifted up on high a long staff surmounted by a gleaming sign while, against the walls, were great staircases which branched and joined and branched again, and ascended in giant flights, at each turn of which were newels strangely shaped and crowned with finial figures, perhaps winged, though their detail was not to be discerned in that twilit air. Or were they living beings? Of a gigantic size, suggesting acres of walls, of a monstrous, heroic style, vaguely Aztec, Assyrian or Muscovite, shimmering in the dark air as if, having erupted on that bad spot, having been lifted on a convulsion of the earth’s crust to stand under the shocked heavens, it was dripping with the white fires of the regions whence it was spewed up, it hung there as a sign before her eyes, to show whose was the kingdom, under what lordship they had come.

Phyllis Paul
A Little Treachery

A Dream

August 2, 2017

My dead love came to me, and said:
‘God gives me one hour’s rest,
To spend with thee on earth again:
How shall we spend it best?’

‘Why, as of old,’ I said; and so
We quarrelled, as of old:
But, when I turned to make my peace,
That one short hour was told.

Stephen Phillips

23rd July

Living here with so many ghosts I feel like a caretaker of the restless dead – a protector of spirits who haunt my life – so that I’ve become my own haunted house, attempting communication with partially glimpsed movements at the edge of perception, or the sound of a creaking stair, or a noise in the attic which might only be the patter of falling rain…My ghosts can be cranky on occasion: they can whisper words, the meaning of which I’m unable to determine.

It’s been a long time since anyone treated them well –

#

So the Saturday evening play-party. With our friends from the local munch, people possessing the emotional bandwidth to comply with our safety standards, while sharing similar aesthetic tastes to ourselves.

Like a small film club, are we, eagerly awaiting the main attraction: crisps, freshly roasted nuts and popcorn are liberally distributed to ‘the audience’ in small china bowls. Missy A has been naughty and is to be disciplined while we watch. Furniture has been moved to accommodate this tableaux.

Seeing Missy A bent over a chair with her skirt hitched up is breathtaking. Hearing a hand slap against her buttocks, is so very arousing – how could it be otherwise? Savouring the slight trembling of flesh with each fresh impact. Her yelps of discomfort –

Then E rising to join T who is tiring. E has a riding crop. She takes T’s place. Her skin-head hair cut is intimidating. She uses the crop with consummate skill –

Yelps become cries. Missy’s poor glowing bum is criss-crossed with red stripes –

Missy’s now estranged husband used to take her to play-parties in the boot of their car. Almost nude, gagged and handcuffed, even in winter, she would endure this humiliation without complaint. His treatment of her became harsher and harsher, until she finally left him eighteen months ago.

It should serve as a lesson to us all, how quickly such consensual abuse can become pure abuse –

I’m reminded of Jean-Paul Sartre and his theory of emotions as ‘magic’. Because Missy has simply exchanged one sadist for another. The new man in her life allows his fantasies free rein. She is, it seems, one of life’s natural victims –

E’s skill with that crop is superlative. Her strokes are hard enough to mark Missy’s naked bum but not to break the skin. I can’t take my eyes from Missy, her tear-filled eyes, parted lips, writhing as if in the grip of some invisible power. Sex is inherently ritualistic, a symbolic act whose meanings extend beyond itself. And there can be no doubt that Missy’s submission is sexual, that she takes pleasure from E’s practiced flogging of her backside. And every face in ‘the audience’ is slightly flushed with sexual excitement as they look on. And my own arousal is equally obvious –

Finally, aftercare. Caresses, kisses, gentle stroking. A smile on Missy’s tear-stained face. She experienced some sort of climax near the end of her ‘punishment’, and all the tension is now drained from her.

I finish my popcorn (which incidentally is homemade) as E takes Missy upstairs to the bathroom to fix her make-up.

‘I hope they don’t wake the ghosts,’ I say to no one in particular.

And no one, as expected, bothers to reply.

#

Hamlet experienced an encounter with a ghost and it ended in massacre. Macbeth was confronted by Banquo’s ghost during a great banquet, and lost his peace of mind forever. It’s more than likely that Shakespeare’s ghosts are simply psychological manifestations of guilt – imagined apparitions, in other words.

But what of my ghosts?

Trish, for example?

She used to love me reading out loud to her. At bedtime I always had to read to her or she couldn’t sleep. On occasion she would perform an act of fellation upon me as I read –

She once described herself to me as ‘Terribly thin’. And her body, I must admit, was like a sabre slash in silk. As flat chested as a boy, was she. ‘You’re fine,’ I’d tell her. ‘I love you as you are.’ And then laid her back and performed cunnilingus on her for almost an hour –

I read her ‘The Story of O’ and we both got turned on by it. It was Christmas Eve I remember, and Trish guided me between her buttocks. I gently sodomized her for the first time while she masturbated herself.

We talked a lot about art, writing, music and cinema. One time I told her about André Gide, his enormous influence on the young, which sprang from his teaching that one’s only duty is to oneself, that one should never be ‘encumbered’, either by material possessions, memories or other people –

‘Often the best in us springs from the worst in us.’

And so I read ‘Isabelle’ to Trish, and we both visited le chateau de la Quartfourche with Gerard Lacase, and accompanied him on his quest for Isabelle in the grip of ‘amorous curiosity’.

Books, reading, more reading and fucking. ‘Why don’t you read me something you’ve written?’ she asked. It was a bridge too far for me. ‘No,’ I said. ‘Never that. It’s all too awful.’ But she insisted, so finally I recited some of the poems in ‘Summer Births’ from memory. And while the words spilled gently from my mouth like little lost souls, Trish fondled me erect and masturbated me –

Trish had always had a thing about India. For her it seemed a magical, mysterious, exotic place. One day she announced she was finally going to go there. She’d saved the money. She was going for six months – longer if she could!

And so she drifted from my life almost as casually as she’d drifted into it. And now she keeps company with the crowd of ghosts occupying this place; a spectre who loves to hear me read out loud late at night –

“Bats !” I tried to tell myself, but a cold numbness ran down my arm — and no bat gives one
a punch like a prize-fighter.

“B-b-bats! ” I screamed in a frenzy.

No sooner was the word out, than there came from behind me a deep rumbling. The great door crashed thunderously into place with a violent bang.

I dared not turn round. Some awful magnetism kept me rooted as I stood, with my eyes
glued to the far wall.

I could see nothing ; but I could feel a Thing like a loathsome octopus-tentacle round my
neck holding me there, forcing me to gaze on what I had no wish to see.

I felt it coming : a flabby mass of warm, stinking flesh, covered with wet hairs, slithered
across my face.

By a supreme effort of will, I managed to move one foot. I knew that if I did not, I should
die. And as I moved it there came a sickening squelch beneath it, with a mad, gibbering,
teetering sound like some half-human creature being trodden upon. A fetid odour wrapped
round my mouth.

M P Dare
A Nun’s Tragedy

PICKING THE LOCK

May 21, 2017

I try a bleached bird-bone,
a rutted nail,
my grandmother’s spoon ring uncurled in fire,
a sharp pine-needle waxed in resin,
the slim spine of his favourite book,
until he cries.

I ask the wimpled ghosts
if the key is a word
to place it on my tongue,
please, place it here.

Megan Merchant

17th May

Thoughts of Martha Hatfield the Puritan child-prophet who felt the “Second Coming” coming, so to speak. She saw Raw Head and Bloody Bones, Nelly Long Arms and Awd Goggie, Black Parr and the low black sow who carries off kiddies. She was afraid of fires especially those bonfires on the wastelands of the city blazing with a dim constancy and smoke curling into night fogs across everywhere…

#

How then do we explain our taste for supernatural necessity, d’you think?

#

Rolling shadows pressed against the window like half-glimpsed faces. Then the shriek of an owl, foreshadowing the death of another, smaller creature, bloodily rendered by beak and talons. The struggle between life and death continues throughout the night.

#

Suffering these random night-thoughts – thoughts that lay bare the throbbing red heart of past, present and future. All meaning leaks pus-like from the abyss of death: voiceless, corpses with heads full of untold tales – untold not because of a lack of words, but because of a lack of tongue! Out of the dark confines of this house and across the wide moor everything is making love or death to everything else in an orgy of being, and transcendence, and blood.

#

The centuries have passed and times have changed and yet all around there is a strange feeling that we are not alone, that the shades of persons passed on and over into the world of spirit are very close.

#

Many rites of Witchcraft call on attractive youths, and emphasise nudity. It wasn’t until the rise of the Abrahamic religions that this was frowned upon, and slowly demonised. The rites of Pan and Bacchus became rites of Satan, these gods, predominantly phallic, sexual gods such as Pan were transformed into the Devil, and all things lecherous and sexual were his domain.

Ghosts in my soul

May 14, 2017

14th May

Long days, followed by candle lit evenings and laughter. Rain slanting at the windows last night, followed by a misty moist morning full of ghosts. Sometimes just to sit and watch the rain brings a strange sense of calm to me. Thunder and lightning, on the other hand, sets a fire in my soul…

#

Last summer, walking the coastal path south from Portreath. Took the narrow path down to the sea, all elbow turns and screaming gulls. Deadman’s Cove below. Cold here, despite the intense heat of the day. The beach is all pebbles and black rocks. At low tide the wreck of a ship sunk back in 1978 becomes partially visible.

Here the sea is still and black, brooding under rocky shadows; no surfing or swimming – too cold and dark and dangerous. The Cove is a haunted place. A ghost regularly appears before visitors, only to fade away when directly addressed. Or so they say.

One of the most perilous stretches of coast imaginable. Many ships sunk over the years, the bodies inevitably washing up in Deadman’s Cove. Uneasy atmosphere to the place, giving an intense and inexplicable sense of foreboding to many of the coves visitors…

Ghostly screams of drowning men frequently heard here in the night…

#

Strange things do happen. In August 1894 some parts of Bath were covered by thousands of small Jelly fish that fell from the sky!

Diary 3rd May

The first of May it rained all day. We didn’t much care. Once at home we battened down the hatches and watched DVDs; in the evening we played “Cards against Humanity”, great fun.

Tuesday, App and Wal visited us in the evening. Mild bondage games with lots of laughter, an amateur porno movie, and mutual teasing during the hour and a half duration of the film. I’m still a little sore from our Beltane eve celebrations.

#

Thoughts of the Reverend John Ruddle. The year is 1665 and Ruddle the incumbent of St Mary Magdalene, Launceston, is called to the home of the Bligh family resident near South Petherwin; they tell him of their young son, who claims he is regularly accosted by a ghostly apparition on his way to school.

Ruddle interviews the boy who recounts a most convincing story. The apparition, a woman, dressed in flowing robes, keeps gliding towards him as if to speak – but the boy can’t understand what it is she says. The boy is obviously very scared by these unpleasant experiences.

The Reverend arranges to accompany the boy and his father the following morning on his normal route to school. He records the following:

“We went into the field, and had not gone a third part before the spectrum, in the shape of a woman, with all the circumstances he had described the day before, so far as the suddenness of its appearance and transition would permit me to discover, passed by. I was a little surprised at it, and though I had taken up a firm resolution to speak to it, I had not the power, nor durst I look back; yet I took care not to show any fear to my pupil and guide.”

Convinced the ghost is a disturbed spirit, Ruddle visits his Bishop who agrees an exorcism. The Reverend duly arms himself with bell, book and candle and proceeds to again confront the specter. His account continues:

“Soon after five I stepped over the stile into the haunted field, and had not gone above thirty or forty paces before the ghost appeared at the further stile. I spoke to it in some short sentences with a loud voice; whereupon it approached me, but slowly, and when I came near it moved not. I spoke again, and it answered in a voice neither audible nor very intelligible. I was not in the least terrified, and therefore persisted until it spoke again and gave me satisfaction; but the work could not be finished at this time. Whereupon the same evening, an hour after sunset, it met me again near the same place, and after a few words on each side it quietly vanished, and neither doth appear now, nor hath appeared since, nor ever will more to any man’s disturbance…

“These things are true and I know them to be so, with as much certainty as eyes and ears can give me.”

#

The local hunt were out on Monday. Were they ‘accidentally’ killing foxes or have they found new quarry to pursue?