Herd of Angels by Mark McConville

Herd Of Angels …

There’s nowhere for me to rest my head, in this pit we all sit in, and drink in, feel feeble in. The light blinds me and my ambitions to stray from this temple of the unforgivable, the heartless, and the people who grind their lives to dust without even knowing it. Sincerity has no place here either. Compassion needs a lifeline, hearts inside these chests in this ungodly room, beat faster than a shooting star. They’re all under the illusion that drugs mean they’re invincible, and their decisions inconceivable but right in their own private worlds. 

I pick up a half-empty bottle of beer, drink it, and then throw it at the coffee table. It doesn’t smash, it only ricochets and drops like a coin into a deep well. Next to me sits a boy lonely in his own mind. He keeps on uttering the word ‘’Hopeless’’ at the thin walls, smoking a cigarette that hasn’t got much life left. And the futures of these people may have been mapped out, puzzled in, as all their eyes droop into a state, a tired state. 

The mixture, the cocktails filled with pills and alcohol have taken its toll on the livers and minds, and the silence becomes a loud noise in my brain. A monotonous sound which reverberates and echoes and my mind feels like it’s a coliseum of raucous thoughts and corrosion. 

I leave my thoughts in the living room and step out into the kitchen where sexual urgency once peaked, where it created some children who have grown into this framework, the walls built around them, where they may die if they don’t depart this dark place where ghosts roam and memories scratch at the skin which is draped over them.  

Water brings me back to life, thankfully. The thirst always comes after the 20 bottles of beer consumed in succession. Like a chain smoker, I consume alcohol rapidly, letting it flow down my widened throat. Then, as I drink more water, I detect freedom of speech gone wrong. 

The living room is bright red. Captivating unconventionally. There’s no paint here, but blood splashed up the walls. The young man, who was lost in his own mind, stands with a large knife in his hand. Brutality has been given a chance to shine here, and I’m the only innocent man alive here, staring at the knife and this kid who has been subjected to a psychotic episode. This isn’t real, it can’t be. I knew there was an oddness to his character, a monster waiting to burst from his thin torso, but on this night, I couldn’t have imagined it. 

He comes closer to me. His eyes like tyrant’s eyes. If they could turn red they’d burn a hole in the atmosphere. He isn’t a superhero, he’s now a murderer, putting it all on the line. Then there’s me, a man with a stomach full of alcohol and drugs, hopefully, caught up in a fever dream, a nightmare, a hallucination. But, no, this is real, this isn’t a figment, it’s an explosion of realism tapered to my imagination. 

As the dead lie on sofas and chairs, the man in front of me looks desperate. He wants me dead, so he can run. His inhibitions tuned out as the drugs moan for an upgrade. Earlier in the evening, he spoke about his heart being broken, shattered by a girl who stole every piece of soul from his battered body. When I listened on, I could hear the pain in his voice, the rasp, the despair. He only stopped when he knew more people were listening in. 

Another step, another broken heart purring for blood. My blood, he wants my blood. Another step, another unhopeful embrace. He isn’t a catalyst for good, he’s damaged, like the writers of this world, the ones who have had afflictions dumped upon them. Throughout the conversation earlier, he also told me about the nightmares he was having, the nightmares where ghosts swirled around and spooked the herd of angels. 

‘’Stay there’’ 

He has me in stuck to the blood embroiled carpet. With me, he shudders and doesn’t know how to handle the situation. Above him isn’t a glass ceiling he can smash and then ascend through. The only way out is through my heart and lungs.  


‘’Stay there I said’’ 

He’s breaking a sweat, I can see the shine on his skin. Truthfully, he’s losing his stance, his defence. 

‘’Give me the knife, we can sort through this’’ 

‘’How can we? They’re all dead because of me’’ 

‘’It was a moment of madness, we all have them’’ 

Under his breath, he utters a name. A name burned into his mind. 

‘’Who?’’ 

‘’They’re all fucking dead, even’’ 

‘’Even who??’’ 

He puts his hand in his pocket and takes out a small bag containing a pair of eyes. 

‘’These, the only part of her I have left’’ 

I try not to wretch. The eyes still have a thin line of blue. 

He runs towards me in haste, stabbing me once, and then he escapes. 

I’m on the floor among dead people and the ghosts who endured much worse in a past that should be kept concealed. 

This house is alive, and the walls beat like hearts, and my blood only adds to a scene that will become a constant nightmare.

Two Poems from Mark McConville

Dear Mercy.

In a state of disrepair

Clutching onto old clothes

You left to be burned

To be dispossessed from memory.

Alcoholic taste in my swollen mouth

My tongue quivers at the next drop

It burns, and burns until my eyes water

Until my fists clench and my liver screams for dear mercy.

The approach to this pain

Is to drink more

To collide with enemies when they’re not even there

They’re in my thoughts

Melting into my brain.

Stricken by ghosts on the TV set

Fear comes to me down my arm like the signs of a heart attack

They’re flying around the overflowing ashtray

Nipping at my resolve, carrying banners,

That say ‘’you’re dead to me too’’

And these old clothes may need to be burned

So I can return to a state of normality

So this room can breathe again

With your spirit dead then I can try to open doors

To an outside world brimming in chaos and beauty.

Has the world turned from vibrant colours to a sorry blend of grey?

In these times

Politics don’t matter

Hearts marbled in grace do.

Tired and broken

We roam disenchanted

Thrown to the wolves of power.

I can’t

I’m sick

Of pride being dragged across the floor

It isn’t as relevant as before.

Stay quiet

Don’t let them see your weaknesses.

The Line Died.

You spoke to me on a payphone

Last night when you had alcohol seething in your veins

A monster you can’t control, a tyrant pulling you under,

This phone call epitomized love dying.

I sensed from your voice

Your addictions were aching

Powder up your nose

Bloodshot eyes disrupting your clear complexion.

You were a girl with so much vigor

A peacemaker dazzling strangers and friends

Your intelligent mind a capsule of invigoration

Your heart pulsating through your tattooed chest.

I met you at a casual university

You were smarter than me

Had numbers colliding with words in your head

You could recite poetry and writing of all kinds

I was at your disposal, I would have died for you.

When you started drinking

I was standing on a landmine

Around you I felt explosive

We were entangled in love

Counting change for the next fix of adoration

From wilder worlds full of color and dispositions.

It’s strange now that we’re despising ourselves

Your voice crackled that night

On an old receiver built fifty years ago.

Rain fell 

That night too,

I could hear the storm brewing

The tress rustling

The cars speeding

Moments in time rushing

For a conclusion.

I couldn’t help you

You were out of town

Struggling you stand upright

Sick as a dog

Not ate in days

Your dreams struck by rage.

And I was in sitting praying to God

That someone would save you from yourself

The line died…

Thunder In Your Words by Mark McConville

PhotoFunia-1590832754Thunder In Your Words.

I look for sincerity in your words as you speak softly, assuring me I failed myself. In this old café which sells the best coffee, I don’t feel the best, and wish to reset my life and go back to the days when worries were on someone else’s mind. They’re on my mind, settling there like a pool of blood. I can’t forget them, scorch them with fires, or dislodge them. You sit, but you’d suit a pedestal, one colossal, touching the sky. Arrogance suits you too, as your obnoxious personality forces me to face the ground. In this café, in front of many faces, I weep into the menu, and then look up at you.

You stir the coffee relentlessly; the swirl looks like a whirlpool where I could end my days on earth. It could consume me, and take me on a ride before I hit my demise, a rollercoaster ride through snapshots of misery. This misery has been created by my failed 20s. In your eyes, I should have been someone of power, a catalyst breaking boundaries, storming through cities spreading my optimism. But I’m here, sitting on tattered material, in a booth where many conservations have taken place, good and bad.

My coffee is cold, frozen to its core. My cluttered mind tries to assemble a cohesive story to tell you. Every word I try to meld crashes in my mouth before I can blurt them out. Words should be my weapon, but they’re succumbing to blank expressions. I look at my watch; the time seems to be slow today, and this engagement seems to be in slow motion. Your eyelids take time to open and shut, the bangle on your wrist clatters onto the table.

I’m awake to the clatter, looking straight into your disappointed eyes. You feel betrayed, beaten down, and I can’t mend these broken ties. I’ll collapse, I’ll grovel, tinker with your emotions, but I feel we’re lost in the static noise played out by the radio. You stand like a titan, struck by emptiness, misguided like me but a success story in your bubble. The expensive outfit you’re wearing costs more than my world, those shoes you wear shine more than diamonds, your composure is professional, and the lipstick strengthens your lips so when you kiss your husband at night, he feels them heavy on his cheek.

The café empties, and we’re the only ones left. No more prying eyes, no more ears to hear a dispute that is gaining volume. You’re now in your element, speaking above me, hurling words that sting me, offering nothing but a hazardous diction. Seeking calm isn’t practical, as the monster in you appears, feeding on my anxiety.

‘’You should have listened to me, but no, you went your own way, chose the wrong direction’’

The coffee has changed color, the milk has curdled, the ambience has altered, and this brightly lit café becomes a space damaged by your demanding vocal performance. Over behind the counter, the staff cringe and look on, bemused by the anger shown.

‘’Look at me’’

I don’t look, I can’t look. I feel humiliated by your abrupt behavior. The café nears closing time, and the lightning strikes the pavements outside, with thunder in the background, the thunder in your words louder. You then throw money at me and tell me to pay the bill. I stand up and move away from you, like everyone else has done over the years, and I don’t blame them, as they were right to disband from your ignorance. Years and years of strain, time and time again, you utter words, you mutter under the breath that god gave you. My childhood had no highlights, no structure, or significance.

So I pay the bill, brush off your existence, and leave.

Annihilation by Mark McConville

PhotoFunia-1590832754Annihilation

I run, I run away from the shackles of an empire built by you, a dictator of my dreams and my future. By escaping the clutches, I feel free in an instance, like a bird speeding through volatile winds, coming out the other end, unscathed. The feeling of trepidation dies, those echoes of your voice still embedded, but they will be stifled by my newly strong mind. Yes, these streets are frightening, on the cusp of bleeding, hemorrhaging out as the classless and free throw Molotov cocktails at the malevolent army who pride themselves on committing cardinal sins.

I amble amidst the bloodshed, checking my vital signs, my heart beats rapidly as it did back when I was running the marathon of my life, through forests, ravaged by fire. Those years have given me a thick skin. They empowered me to live in desolation and impoverishment. We skinned deer to stay alive, cooked it and ate without a uttering a word. You created a storm in me, a tornado of hate for myself, and on those nights when you ridiculed me, damaged me, cut me off from a world of possibilities, I despised you and your nicotine breath.

I’m kneel behind a beaten car, my hands blue, cold and dry. The threadbare jacket I’m wearing blows in the wind, it’s weightless, but covers my aching skin and scrawny body. I wait for a chance to move onward through a town weighed down by heavy storms, lackluster monuments which have been vandalized by hopeless children, years and years of mass corruption.

Moving forward takes intricacy and strategic planning. I shuffle over, jeopardizing my life, taking a stab into the tired light. This has to happen though, I have to make it, moments of clarity must prevail, or my optimism may shatter into fragments which may reform into a shard of negativity. They’ve now unleashed tanks onto the roads, they’ve roared into the next stage, readying their wrath of kill the remaining rebels who are only armed with weak weapons and undying desire.

What can I do now? Mop up the parts that have fallen, the blood that has spilled, the bones of courageous human beings. Or can I map out directions, a common plan? These mechanical enforcers will pull me apart, they’ll grind me down into dust which will spray into the relentless wind.

There’s not many of them left, they’re all dying horrendous deaths. I move again, this time into a house with no doors or windows. Everything is broken here, dolls with torn out eyes lay on the bedroom floor, pink wallpaper frayed, it seems to be a room where a little girl dreamt that her life would have been more straightforward than this. But, time has been ungodly, love has been wrapped up in blood soaked sheets and thrown into the fire.

As the chaos unravels, I sit hiding in the attic. I’m drawn to books and art. They’re all in bundles, these academic and fictional books. Books of power, books which contain truth, children books which alter worlds and stir imagination. And this attic consumes me as the guns and grenades pound through the streets, and into flesh and into hearts. Rather than listen, I put my hands over my ears, reading the same page repeatedly.

I hear thuds, bottle rockets and bombs. I hear whimpers, cries and lost souls teetering on the line of death, then eventually meeting their demise. It’s a crushing blow to the world, this war, this bloodshed. I’m in hiding, but I don’t feel safe, I feel feeble, defenseless, on the brink, losing my internal strength. All over the floor cracks show, cracks like my resolve.

Over on the wall there’s a mural of a girl chasing a red balloon. Her dress beautiful, her smile even infectious to me, as I smile. I smile at the times when the world wasn’t stuck in a game of chess. Beyond all of this, there are countries which don’t apprehend the greater good, they give and give, layering their landscapes with vitality and give their people hope.

Bright lights shine up through the cracks. My heart belts out for subtle touches. My innocence is in jeopardy. The whole world around me feels heavy on my head. I hear spoken words; I hear laughter.

‘’Nothing here, but these dolls’’

‘’They’re freaky aren’t they’’

‘’Demonic really’’

Through the speaker, a man tells the enemy to search the rest of the house. I drift into the closet and shut the door. Inside here, there are old knitted garments for young lives. I stand, not assured or even ready to defend myself. Behind me, there are wire coat hangers. I take one and twist it to make a weak weapon. It won’t stand up against their guns, but I must try.

Time elapses, and the voice becomes clearer. Through the little peep hole, I see a man wearing a patch on his jacket. It reads ‘’Annihilation’’. They just want to kill their way to victory.

I ready myself. I will be found, my restlessness will get me caught.

Slowly he moves forward, slowly he talks to himself in rituals.

And as he opens, I attack with all my strength, pushing the wire into his right eye. Blood splatters the florescent paper. As he falls, I grab his gun and shoot. He cascades into the depths of hell where he belongs.

The other man runs through and stands still. He goes to his knees and grovels.

I shoot him, he falls, and hell now has two.

Covered in blood, I hear a raucous sound from outside, voices of concern, dogs barking. Blood seeps through the cracks and onto the carpet below. Voices near close, voices grainy but alert, lights flash, red lasers pinpointed at the walls. This is anarchy, mayhem, war. It’s only a matter of time before I’m shot to pieces.

Cries deafen me. Flash grenades ring in my ears as they explode. People scream out for god to carry them through, they scream for this all to be a dream, a figment of their imaginations. Real life has been altered by lasting effects, minds have been inundated with snapshots portraying war at its most terrifying.

Sitting in a corner, I’m awaiting what will come my way. In this attic, books bind its cultural significance, books offer an escape route, and I wish to be transported into these worlds written by novelists who saw the world as a beacon of hope. Thinking like that may offer me a lifeline, a small sinew of solace.

The lights go out, the damage halts, the sound of inconsistent thunder stops. Quietness offers a subtle embrace until a crash, a reverberation, pounds all walls and broken palaces. I hear myriads of gunshots, piercing through skin, and then.

The quiet….

The solace….

An ally speaks,

‘’Take my arm, and I’ll carry you through’’

 

Six Poems by Mark McConville

PhotoFunia-1590832754Strange Times Indeed.

Battlegrounds everywhere

In a city smothered by hypocrisy and a death toll

The thin try to eat and the overweight become thin

Strange times indeed.

 

The slender arms of a child

Become weightless as she sleeps on her mother’s belly

This is unity in the most heartbreaking fashion

This is a mother crying as her baby begins to flinch

Nightmares burst into the mind.

 

Shredding the world into pieces

Might be the best way to eradicate the desolation

Burning it into scraps of charcoal as the animals scream

No one deserves this depravity, these aren’t degenerate people,

Shadows or rigid silhouettes, they’re breathing the same smoke as you,

Their hearts beat for a comforting smile and graceful hand from someone,

Not carrying burdens.

 

One dies, two cough and sputter,

Fear attacks the senses

Heaps of energy sapped from breaking bodies

The city’s teeth discolored by nicotine and its abdomen

Hungry for economy and a rebuild.

 

Disease roams like cattle,

Flowers decide to die, their vibrancy,

A figment of the imagination,

Color trapped in grey, houses crumbling,

Woodworm eating through the work of a carpenter,

Who gave his all too building beauty when beauty gleamed in

The eyes of strong people.

 

A Bell Rings In My Head.

A bell rings in my head

A realization that dreams are for the hungry

The driven, the artists, the readers,

And the weaver of words.

 

Emotions are high

I wish my name was in the sky

A banner of authority and truth

People would see it and cheer

For my disenchanted self.

 

The pavements laced in chewing gum

Offer me a route to the dark underworld

Where emotions are high

And people die of unnatural causes

They’re bound to each-other

Like they’re strapped to a leash

Dogs of winter, dogs of war.

 

The snowflakes are colossal reminders,

Of an incoming force

Winter beckons and these unruly children,

Become like wolves, scavengers.

 

Covered in a blanket of snow

A bell rings in my head

A realization that dreams are for the noble.

Die Loudly.

Broken glass reflects bloodied faces

Prayers are needed here

Hope trips the lights and is now engulfed in darkness

Dreamers disregard their chances of swapping this life for days in paradise.

 

Angels talk up this place, this land which has conformity,

They have sprinkled white magic all over books of truth

Books that explain to us why violence is fundamental

To staying alive in a world inconclusive.

 

There are people lost in disposition

Their love songs only play out in shoddy bars

Those angels come and go

Switching on the lights may let them in

At a blink of an eye, they’ll truthfully tell you if,

This is the end.

 

She’s next to you, flapping her hands,

You’re in her line of sight

Dropping glasses of dispirit all over the wooden floor

Speaking to the walls, wishing they’d tell that you’re allowed to,

Die loudly.

 

Mystified by your response to these paper-thin walls

She drags you aside, peppering you with optimistic monologues,

Of why you should live peacefully, aborting all poisons and,

All these memories which you conceal under the dome in your head.

 

The theater of wingless drunks

Is on its last order

You quickly consume with all your repose,

The last drink of the night.

 

Tear Drops On Cheeks As Pale As A Winter’s Day.

She’s stretching out for her mother

But her mother is caught up, tangled in a drunken daze,

Profoundly stuck in a loop of mundanity.

 

Oh God, she wishes, to stick to her mother again,

Wrapped up in the umbilical cord

A warming embrace when she’s born again

But we can’t be born again, we can’t relive the tender moments,

We grow up and try to make sense of the world.

 

She feels suffocated when her mother seems free

Singing karaoke in a local bar

Drinking spirits when her daughter is out of spirit

Drinking hops and barley, when a starving girl is,

Wasting away, barely hanging onto the teddy bear her late father,

Gave her.

‘Honey this is yours, hug it when you feel uninspired and when your mother is

Disconnected from you and the world’

 

The home is colder than a day in the snow

The electric blanket doesn’t heat the bones

The young girl splashes water on the face of her hungover mother

There’s no response, no anger or repent.

 

Flicking the switches in the kitchen

There’s no electricity surging through

Just a feeling of tension at the pit of a hungry stomach

A swollen cloud of black rain hovering over her

She wishes to tower over all of this

Create sparks and wishes, but magic isn’t,

Real?

 

The tap leaks dirty water,

The milk is sour in the fridge

The emptiness is gathering space

And hopelessness seems to darken the room

She’s powerless and her mother is shadow of her former self.

 

A ticking watch is all she has

Temptation to walk away is a potent feeling

In a young mind, pushed to grow up,

But she loves the woman sleeping away the haze.

 

Hazy Nights.

Screaming for solace

Inside a cage we call home

The lucky and free

Walk the streets with their heads held high

And their wallets bursting from the seams.

 

The room is a reminder of hazy nights

Grasping onto the t shirt of a lover

Who quickly departed with the aromas of sex?

Swirling around the stench of the ashtray.

 

The thick smoke of cigarettes

Shrouds beautiful faces

They’re there writing down tales

Of yesterday

While out of mind.

 

It’s exhausting

Looking at drunken eyes

Which flicker a hundred times

There’s no answers from the mouth of this,

Rebel who wishes for a better life.

 

And we sit amongst the disenchanted

In a small compartment in an apartment block

Someone is singing hopeful lyrics

From a song as sickening as a restless heartbeat.

 

This night is longer than most

The clock has stopped

People urge me to sleep

I can’t,

I can’t count sheep.

 

The Flicker Of Lighters.

Freedom seems miles off

As the rumbling of thunder in my mind

Becomes frequent.

 

I walk the streets

Trying to curve the strain of mixed emotions

Homeless women come to me

Asking for miracles when I need a miracle

They’re hungry, and desperate,

I have nothing to offer but memories

Of a bashful crash into a state of disrepair.

 

They leave me to walk

They rummage for thoughts

Taking drags of cigarette ends

And the dregs of a bottom of a bottle

Drunk unsophisticatedly.

 

Why should they stray into darkened voids?

And alleyways, undesirable territories,

Where masked strangers steal innocence,

And everything they’ve ever fought for.

 

I observe mass gatherings of people in despair

Drawn to the flicker of lighters

They’re certain to meet the end

No bright lights to guide them homeward.

Hotel Room Blues by Mark McConville

PhotoFunia-1590832754Hotel Room Blues…

Lifting the mood is this mundane hotel room would take effort. The sparkle in the beer has dissipated, and it has turned into a flat liquid. The curtains are shut to stave off the spies and onlookers. Those people are the fans and the disturbed, the maniacs and the fiends. Through time, these voices diminish, leaving a quiet, a silence so hurtful to the human mind, as demons appear as instigators. Meeting these visions could kill a heart, offloading them is an almighty task.

Stuck to the itchy sheets is a man developing thoughts in his blemished brain. A brain productive, but one that is overly melancholic. If you could pick it, you’d be thrown into a lion’s cage. A force to be reckoned with. It isn’t always a drug infused party in there; it is a bear pit. Blood trickles down the sides, fights break out, the heart of it owned by a queen of pain.

Guitars are layered up. Many of them played to their death. They’re vessels of sound, of bitterness, of chords, of blood. They keep the user sane enough to live, to walk, to dream. Over the course of the night, some are thrown off the walls, some are broken into intricate little pieces. But he’s not a fading artist. In this moment, he’s one of the most revered musicians, masterminding songs of dirty luck and teen spirit.

Smoke flurries through the noise. Paper notes are strewn everywhere. Lyrical bibles are open. The room is far from being holy. Ghosts are on the edges, phantoms ingrain the psyche. The walls aren’t fabricated, they’re paper-thin, and this useful music protector and innovator walks around in circles. His tongue is tied. His breathing fast, rapid at times, these walls are closing in and the blood surging through his body is curdling.

Injecting junk into his soul relieves this feeling of hopelessness. He’s lying next to his most beloved guitar, talking in tongues to himself. Diverting the noise of the interfering voices is impossible. He sees mannequins with black eyes transferring a power through the room. Little babies crawl across the ceiling, they’re demonic creatures, fastened to sadistic ways.

Under the bed. He can’t look under the bed. There will be something dark and vicious under there. The phantoms appear and gloat, their pretentious smirks and frightening tone of voice add to the atmosphere.

‘Go away, go away’ he says.

They carry on remarking and the pulsating power they have is ludicrous. The walls cascade like cards and this young man is confronted by a blonde girl. She’s attractive, and he’s saw her before. She carries a microphone and a guitar. He walks towards her but she crumbles into sand.

A screen, there’s a screen in the background. Within the screen, there is a crowd. They’re singing All Apologies at the top of their lungs.

Back in the room, the man opens his eyes. Standing there are two people close to him. One holding a bass guitar and the other holding drumsticks.

He’s groggy and shaky, but alive.

 

The Road – A Landmark Novel by Mark McConville

PhotoFunia-1590832754

The Road – A Landmark Novel.

When you think of masters of American literature, Cormac McCarthy pops up as a true contender. Within his works, stories bloom and portray struggle in the wilderness, the American outback where greed escalates and where cowboys try to survive life-threatening onslaughts. His books aren’t for the fainthearted either, they’re works of fearless fiction that bend normality and don’t adhere to rules. The pages are harsh, often controversial, and fully exert the notion to read on.

By bridging the gap between goodness and evil in his novels, McCarthy paints pictures of blood-soaked faces, revolt, rebellion, heartbreak, and fearlessness. He’s a master at this, a genius at spearheading realism in a fictional setting. Often, many writers can’t write like this. Often writers who try cannot place realism into their stories. Not all stories need that spine tingling narration, but when it’s done right, it is captivating.

Some readers may feel overwhelmed when they first read a McCarthy novel as they’re intricate, low paced, slower than your suspense novels. They’re deep filled though, they’re weighty, spontaneous, charged, and there are no flashy instances. Take The Crossing for example, a book which follows a wolf that kills cattle and other livestock. In this work, McCarthy describes the outback and the people like they have blood in their veins and hearts in their chests. But is there any other writer who can use simple techniques to create a piece of unconventional art like this, a story that should be tedious and lifeless? I don’t know if there is.

Picking up The Road by Cormac McCarthy is like giving your time and effort to a newborn child. It is a demanding read, one that is equally breathtaking and cathartic, born from a mind that is knife edged. Also, incredibly devised, The Road marked a grand return to bleakness for McCarthy too, a reoccurrence for the master of American tales. His other frantic novel, Old Country For Old Men, was a blockbuster, and The Road is no different.

The novel follows a man and his son through sprawling apocalyptic America. An American landscape, brimming with scavengers and looters, people hell bent on causing chaos to survive. This chaos erupts at points in the novel, as the man must stave off the enemies who want to capture his son. The man will do anything to keep the boy safe, he’ll grit his teeth, he will pulverize who comes in his way, and he’ll follow the road which may take them to safety.

But, are these two survivalists don’t know what’s up ahead. In their dreams, they think life may be worth living, but we know as the readers, that when an apocalypse hits, life drains rapidly. Armageddon has overthrown every morsel of reason, every piece of salvation, and the man and boy are stuck in a whirlpool of constant dispirit and broken luck.

By walking down the notorious road, they run into obstacles, wild animals, and unpredictable terrains. And this is all captured in McCarthy’s powerful prose, his compelling writing. Writing that takes your breath away, a style which has been strategically worked upon. Through and through, the diction is flawless, captivating and original, marking the road as a stellar piece of literature.

It’s also the bond of these two characters that embeds emotion and grips the attention. They talk, they smile, they clasp hands, and they argue. These are all the traits of a typical father and son relationship, and McCarthy has woven it into his tour de force majestically. And at points, poignant moments are scattered in the pages, moments where realism studs the inner core of sadness. For example, there is when the man and boy find an old drinks machine, one filled with old cans of coca cola. The man eventually breaks open the machine and hands his son the beverage, and as the boy drinks it he falls in love with a taste he hasn’t experienced before. In this simple embrace, this tender instance, the story takes a stab at realism in such a moving way.

The Road is a melancholic piece of work, one which showcases McCarthy at his unnerving best. He notably adjusts his writing style in some places, but we all know it’s him pulling the strings. By weaving prose of wonderment, segments of genius, the American wordsmith deserves praise. His work, through 12 novels, should be acknowledged more so than it has been. Being the underdog suits McCarthy anyway as he is never in the limelight, he scorns interviews, and lives a sheltered life.

After The Road was published McCarthy received the coveted Pulitzer Prize in literature, an accolade some writers dream of winning. This is deserved, as The Road is undoubtedly his most accomplished novel.

The Road.

Vortex Of Disrepair by Mark McConville

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Vortex Of Disrepair.

You told me the drugs don’t work when I wiped the sweat from your forehead. All over this untidy room are pills and empty bottles which contained cheap wine, the wine that rots your insides. On the bedside cabinet lies medicine bottles, those orange ones they have in movies, those capsules holding your misery. Since you started, your body has changed, you’ve become skin and bone, your hair has thinned, the face that once took my breath away has changed from radiant to grey. This whole story is filled deeply in disdain, rejection hurts you, even when you say you’re ready to give up the rat race, the dependence for narcotics.

I used to be under the strain of drugs. A man who chased wisdom, who sucked power from the livestream. I walked on side of town where shots were fired, where people smeared blood on walls and happiness was an afterthought. Love hid its face, hope had no influence, and dreams were only bubbling in the heads of powerful men. I stood under the baking sun on days when my I felt hungover, selling drugs, consuming drugs, loving drugs, hating drugs. At one point, my reflection frightened me, my features screwed up, I looked disheveled and beyond my years.

Back in this room, I don’t want to be here, but my heart has directed me to this chaotic space. Disarmed of everything good, I pick you up from the floor, brush off the dust, and kiss you on the cheek. You smile, you place your head onto my shoulder. You’re still stuck in a trip of dissatisfaction, hoping for your world to click back into place, but normality seems stranded in a vortex of disrepair.

You ask me to tell you what my favorite song is. Even under the influence, you still make some sense. I can’t choose as there are many, many songs that take me to distant places that make me think about different faces. Those faces crumble in my mind though, their expressions dissipate leaving only debris. I have scars; you have scars, deeper than a chamber of secrets. This room is your dark chamber, one stinking of human odors.

I put you to bed, caressing your cracked skin, looking into your disorientated eyes. Through them, I try to see what you can become. Someone with aspirations and ambitions, a woman stripping back the world and then studding goodness into its core. You can do it, run free, mark your space, and carry banners through the streets. Times will be hard, cutting the shackles of this common devil, will drive you to the brink.

Don’t let the devil slip back into your life. Let the angels clean up your mess.

Editors – An End Has A Start: Retrospective by Mark McConville

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Editors – An End Has A Start: Retrospective.

When beauty in music shrouds the world’s pain and its destructive nature, it’s a major success story. When music ripples through your thoughts and makes you see that it can be a lifeline, is a magical feeling. And music is ultimately a gateway to wider terrains and landscapes, even when you’re sitting in your generic room, listening through earphones and mimicking your favorite singer/artist. Music also sets us free, it makes us become live wires and it can calm our restless hearts. From punk to pop, the music we choose isn’t always about trends, it’s about how it affects us. Emotions trickle in, heartfelt lyrics bend our minds, and noise consumes us. Through time, we hear certain songs in bars and dingy party halls at the edge of sunrise, singing to the beat of our feet, and saying to ourselves ‘’This Song Has Saved My Life’’

In 2007, a band named Editors descended back into the music melting pot. The act, were no strangers at recording albums. Their debut record, The Back Room, which was released in 2005, catapulted them into the limelight as a band to scrutinize for good reason. That album catered to the rock faithful and blew the roof off. For a debut record, it spawned many singles, placing a band, which came from humble settings, into a grandiose way of life.

But, it would be their second release that sparked a revolution, and made the outfit a household name. An End Has A Start was the prize. A collection of emotional dreams populated with infectious hooks and lyrical spontaneity. Leading man Tom Smith sang astutely, bellowing out his grievances like tales of unrest, and turning musical gears smoothly. He’s a lyrical master, and on An End Has A Start, his inspiration spiked, forming written artistry which eclipsed the brilliance of The Back Room.

How could they surpass such expertly crafted songs? Well, by adding measure and substance, and thought-provoking synergy, that’s how. And little notes of post-punk and rock charms were instilled too, making the album a showstopper. Every track had a beating heart, every piece had been drawn from incredible minds.

These minds all clashed in an honest way and An End Has A Start birthed a new chapter for Editors. All the songs on the album resonated profoundly, certifying the band as a major player. ‘’Smokers Outside The Hospital Door’’ kick-started the record poignantly and delivered lyrics that highlighted desperation and hardship. Smith, as the singer, sang with the utmost desire to pass his point across through all the static noise. He outdid himself lyrically, calling on his devices and mind, to create a masterful spark of reason. The instrumental aspect of the album is astounding also, as the drums beat like hearts and the guitars come alive.

Single number two, An End Has A Start kept the album moving. It is a wonderful, emotional, compelling track. Smith sang diligently as always and his lyrical ability shined brightly. He vocalized his feelings describing a broken world and angels and demons. It is one of the most astutely created tracks in the rock world. Sublime in its execution.

And every rock album has its swansong. And this record was no different. ‘’Push Your Head Towards The Air’’ rattled the cage of ignorance and drowned out the arrogance. It was a magical moment. Smith’s voice was ludicrously good and lyrically it spoke like a dignified angel. It conjured up a feeling of hope when it was dead. A drastically different track by Editors, a track of vulnerability.

An End Has A Start was an emotional album brimming in lyricism and rhythm beyond your bog standard release. It struck the core of anguish and left the listener breathless. Musically assertive, the opus ingrained normality and augmented it to the next level.

Outage by Mark McConville

Outage.

What if the power went out? What if hope crashed like an old computer? People would lose their minds. They would arm themselves with everything sharp and dangerous. Dangerous enough to cut through bone if needs be.  

It is cold here, so cold I can’t feel my toes. The attic, painted in vibrant colours looks mundane when the darkness shrouds them. All over the floor are empty wine bottles filled with wax to create a glint of light. We’re cooped up here to preserve our lives. Those down on the streets have turned into maniacs, stealing what they can. Through time, they’ve altered the look of the town. Once a bustling patch of hope is now a decaying, festering pit of despair.

Cutting into us are these freezing temperatures. During the day, the sun shines, but only as an aesthetic orb in the sky. We have covers, but they’re paper-thin rags that barely add effect. We will die through the night. I can sense the Black Death eating through the wood, complementing the insects. I can see through my own nightmares that my mother will die before me and I’ll be left on my own. She’s a saviour, but I feel I am weighing her down.

Her greying hair alarms me. Only a few months ago, her hair was brown. It must be the worry that is ingrained in her mind. She used to be courageous and flamboyant, a lover of a blank canvas and paint. Her workmanship unparalleled as she would sit and finish a painting with sheer elegance and flair. When problems surfaced, she’d count to ten and then fix it. She doesn’t talk much these days, she only utters the same name ‘’James’’

James was a man who brought shivers to her spine. A crutch, a father, a dreamer. He was killed by two assailants. Victimized in the dark streets, kicked and stamped on, savagely beaten. He was trying to get some supplies, but found himself caught in a war of words and pain. He must have felt pain pulsate through his body until the end. My mother is deeply enraged and at some points during the night, she hollers out for him and scorns the attackers. I have to nullify and suppress these outbursts so we don’t get caught.

We hear voices from under us occasionally. People rummaging around, taking things. We hear gunshots and grovelling. Raids are commonplace, death swarms like flies, and happiness is forever dead in the eyes of even the optimists. Desire to run overwhelms me too. But what would I do? I’d be killed in seconds, my blood would be smeared across the walls, my insides left for the dogs. Adrenaline courses through my veins, but I wouldn’t make it out alive.

I’ll grow old here, maybe. If the stock lasts. Tins of oranges stack up. They become lacklustre, but are the only foodstuff we have. I’ve read the same book over and over for two months. I’ve counted the marks on the wooden floor, I’ve walked back and forth to keep the circulation in my legs. These are what I’ve designed to kill boredom.

Night comes and the temperatures drop again. I hear a noise coming from outside. Screams of terror alert me to drift to the small window that leads to the roof. I open it softly and climb onto the roof and look down, there’s no one there now. I venture back in until I hear a cry. The cold chill bites into my skin but I persevere. I know I shouldn’t do this, but it could be someone needing help.

I whistle. I whistle again. Using the makeshift candle as a source of light.

Out from the shadows comes a young boy. He looks at me.

‘‘Don’t speak,’’

He nods at me.

‘‘Here’’

I throw him down a rope. My eagerness could cause harm. It could be a ploy to grind down our defences. If my mother was fully alive, she’d tell me how complacent I am being. He climbs steadily up and I push my hands out to grab him. He isn’t heavy. His frame is skin and bones. I close the hatch.

‘‘I’m so glad you…’’

‘‘Shh. My mother is sleeping. Talk quietly’’

‘‘Thank you. My name is Chico’’

‘‘I’m Clare’’

‘‘Your eyes they’re so beautiful’’

‘‘Thank you, I guess’’

His gaunt face is a reminder of the lack of nourishment. He shakes constantly. I grab onto his hand to try to stop the agitations. He lets me. There’s no warmth in him. I place my head on his heart. It beats fast and hard like it’s about to explode.

‘‘Your heart, it’s loud’’

‘’It’s been like that since I saw…’’

‘‘Saw what?’’

‘‘People being gunned down. Their hearts were on show. I could see them beat outside of their chests. It is graphic out there’’

‘‘Where is your family?’’

‘‘They’re gone, I think. They ran, but I fell behind’’

‘‘So it’s only you?’’

‘’Yes’’

‘‘You can stay for a while’’

‘‘Thank you,’’

‘‘Is she okay?’’

‘‘Yeah, she’s sleeping”

My nightmares never predicted this. There was no other person. There was only to be me and my mother. I relied on these dreams to give answers. They’re fake and I should have known it. They’re full of ghouls and ghosts. I shouldn’t have been naïve. The thunderous thoughts that rip through my mind have been stemmed by the introduction of a new ally.

Joy is still under the strain of dismay. We’re still stuck in this small space, hungry for freedom. Only now is there a person I can have a conversation with. He’s fully alive, not broken, not demented. His cute features are an attraction, his smile compelling enough for me to look at him frequently.

‘So how did you end up here?’

‘‘We escaped to the attic and have been here ever since’’

‘’Why?”

‘’My father was beaten to death and there was no other choice’’

‘‘I see’’

My mother’s eyes twitch. She opens them and screams at Chico.

‘‘Who is this?’’

‘‘It’s okay mum?’’

I console her, but she demands me to tell her who Chico is.

‘’He’s the devil’s child. Those eyes, he’s evil’’

‘’He’s not evil, he’s scared like us’’

‘‘No’’

‘Yes, believe me.’’

She opens up her dusty old purse and points a crucifix at Chico.

‘He’s demonic’’

‘Stop it mother, you’re tired, go back to sleep’’

The atmosphere curdles. The room becomes a place of friction.

‘‘Go now,’’

‘‘You will get us caught’’

The screams become louder and we hear commotion under us. We hear gunshots and people talking.

‘‘No’’

‘‘Now look what you’ve done’’

Bullets pierce the weak wood. Hope diminishes with every shot.

‘‘What should we do?’’

‘Let me think,’’

The inner sanctum of my mind-set is subsiding. The nightmarish ghosts are flooding the room. Beams of light shimmer through from battery fuelled torches. It’s time to die, I can feel it. Chico stands there, hopeless and unready for what’s occurring.

‘Your mother, she’s sputtering,’’

Blood spills from my mother’s mouth.

‘We need to leave. It’s our only chance’’

‘‘I can’t leave her.’’

‘We will die. She’s had a purposeful life before this, let her be’’

There isn’t a glimmer of hope to save us all. My mother will perish under the weight of her own ways. Guns and bullets will play their part. The foundation of love is breaking.

We climb upon the roof, and look down at the blood soaked streets. We wait until the rest of them enter the building. They carry weapons, spreading destruction. Their eyes terrified, but their cravings for food and control are bubbling inside them.

We hear three gunshots…

They’re louder than normal. Volatile, ripping through the skin and into important organs. I can picture my mother laying there. Bloodied up, but the pain has faded.

Her laced up mind, untied.

We rappel down the side of the house and run.

We have to run…