Thunder In Your Words by Mark McConville

Flash Fiction, Mark McConville, Punk Noir Magazine

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

Flash Fiction, Mark McConville, Punk Noir Magazine

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

Brit Grit, Mark McConville, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

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

Flash Fiction, Mark McConville, Punk Noir Magazine

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

Mark McConville, Non-fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Writing

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

Flash Fiction, Mark McConville, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

PhotoFunia-1590832754

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

Editors, Mark McConville, Music, Non-fiction, Punk Noir Magazine

AN_END_HAS_A_START (1)

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

Flash Fiction, Mark McConville, Punk Noir Magazine, Short Stories

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…

 

Skin And Bone by Mark McConville

Flash Fiction, Mark McConville, Punk Noir Magazine

Skin And Bone.

The skin draped over me, itches from the dust of this room. Picture frames hang sideways, and flakes of dry, old, white paint covers the carpet. I have been sitting here in old clothes, admiring the photographs of a woman of wonderment. A woman who chronicled through poems of love, our times together. She was a teacher to me, a spreader of truth and sincerity, who carried me through the debris of war. I have these poems in my aging hands. I read them, and I cry tears of sorrow, flipping notebook over to see the back. It reads:

‘’Follow your heart and the escape the pain of losing me, I am the angel in your dreams, the sun in your sky, the protagonist in every love story you read’’

This little note resonates with me profoundly as I wipe away the tears. I know she’s with me, in my dramatic dreams, on my shoulder fighting away the intrusive devil that tries to impose himself. I know my heart isn’t as strong as it once was, but inside it, there will be a place for her. Some hearts aren’t idyllic or full of love. I know a few people with hearts of stone. Some alive, some dead.

I stand and wobble a little. I haven’t been safe on my feet for years. Age has slowed me down, a curse in its process and progress. It has progressively pulverized all of my senses, my desires, and my thoughts. I have bad eyesight, my bones feel brittle, and the whole room doesn’t have padding to keep me from breaking into small parts. Dislodging myself from this room takes courage, as I usually sit around all day daydreaming and plotting. The plots in my head sound audacious and dangerous, but I used to be amid danger. Way back then, I thrived and fought for miracles and redemption. In this old shell, I’m waiting on the day that all pain fades.

I crave a resurgence occasionally, a new body, and a mechanical arm to lift my tea properly in the morning. This dreaming has been a mainstay since she departed this brutal world. Trying to think coherently, often muddles me up, like I’m on a landslide cascading into the mouth of a shark.

I sit back down and unravel a picture I haven’t seen in years. A blotted, stained photograph of me in my uniform. A uniform of grace and compassion. My smile masks the pain that we all endured in those days. A smile that fabricated the agony, the repent, the hazards. As I look at it, the whole story comes back into fruition. Those days I tried to mirror the best. I tried to become a leader. Be a behemoth amongst men. This photo has brought it all back. I still can hear bombs and lashings of rain, the thick accents of the enemy, and the cries from the dreamers.

And we scratched and shot guns, we scurried through fields of dirt and shells. The smell of blood on our uniforms made us heave, and we were chased through thorn bushes and tall grass. I can remember the sting from the thorns, the blood trickling down my arm, and all the raucous screams from the mouths of youthful men who had their lives cut prematurely.

We were stationed in blood. We were mismatched. Not all of us had the courage to dampen the war. Some men cried, others held their tears in. Some were heavily sick. It was chaotic, and it was vivid, but we aided each other in a pursuit for freedom. It wasn’t all for glory, it was for our homeland. And these flashes come fast. They’re swift and my mind is a book, a slideshow showcasing bloodshed and memories. It all comes to me. The day I was captured, thrown into a cage.

Inside the bowels of desperation, I sat for days crying and turning into skin and bone. Outside they smirked and laughed, their lives like heaven, mine like the depths of oblivion. I would stand up and feel dizzy as all my energy was sapped from me. All I had was cloudy water to drink.

Memories flooded my head in those days. I could also smell the distinctive scent of kerosene. A smell which ingrained my pores as a boy when my father used it to burn away the old wood in the backyard. I loved its potency and the way it would tear it all apart, the flames a show. I don’t know why I had those memories take hold of me, it might have been because my demise was near and I was reminiscing over the past.

And being stuck in that small compartment made me hallucinate. They were vivid delusions and visions. Rats bigger than people scurrying around, their teeth sharper than serrated knives, their eyes bold and black. I’d try to ward them off. I’d also see angels flurry through with their white wings and beautiful faces. I’d see blood surge up the walls, and entrails of fallen men.

The days had gone on slowly. I knew this, as there was a glint of light shining through the roof. When it dimmed, I knew night had fallen. And often, I would think why they were keeping me alive? What was their purpose in making me feel this overwhelming pain of being barely alive?

Their point in all of that I will never know? But, all I know, is I was saved by a soldier who ranked lower than me. A youthful fighter with tired eyes. His heroic hand pulled me out of this camp and my demonic dreams. When I departed, there was a release, a pulsation, a chance to live again. Skin and bone I may have been, but the freedom felt like a kiss from one of those angels that descended into my hallucinations.

When we walked that day through debris and bird picked bones, I knew I had a second chance. I knew my days of fighting were over. The kingdom of war had seen my best days, battling and prodding the under-skin of cruelty and insincerity.

Back in this room, I’m older than most. My eyes are tired, and my head is muddled. Through this aging process, I’ve learnt that the mind can dispossess its functions, but I will never, never forget her, and now I’ll never forget the days of darkness.

Harsh Rain Falls On Holy Stones by Mark McConville

Fiction, Flash Fiction, Mark McConville, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

Harsh Rain Falls On Holy Stones.

She pulls the cover over her eyes and embraces the darkness. From now on, she’d like to conceal her face and body. Over these past few years, love has been strained, life has been a mammoth task. Smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap vodka delivers the only real pleasure, speaking to anyone other than the cat takes courage. All over this wooden floor lies empty bottles and written letters to someone she wholeheartedly adored. His name is secretive, a code. In full bloom, he was a handsome eccentric, a poet, a charismatic believer in hope. His dazzling features kept her glued to him, but it wasn’t only that, his intelligence intensified the relationship.

These days building social empires isn’t on the agenda. Crossing off days on a calendar keeps her heart fulfilled. Maybe one day she’ll venture beyond the walls to seek aid, and trap those demons in a web of fire in her sophisticated mind. Trapping those voices which tell her she isn’t worthy, would take a pill or two and determination. Hardship exists and while she drinks the last of the vodka under the cover, she unwraps herself.

The girl playing with her own sense of self pulls down the cover and watches the cat drink from the tap. By looking on, as the tap drips, her standards have slipped. Neglecting a cat is one thing, but neglecting herself is dangerous. Not eating, not dreaming must take its toll, and it has. Grubby hands, dirty nails, unkempt hair, all on show.

Since his departure, moments of solitude have overshadowed glimmers of hope and clear-cut clarity. Love must answer the questions? But it can’t, it doesn’t have a beating heart, a skull, a brain, a tongue, or a mind. It is what it is, a showing of joy and connection. Disconnection overwhelms her life. Discontent also digs deep into the equation.

She rubs dead skin from her face. She has to leave the isolation. Today is a big day. A day of peace, a solemn day. For her, it will be a struggle. An endless exertion of her social capacity. Firstly, her reclusive nature hinders everything. Hopelessness may derail all moments of normality.

Makeup does the trick. All greyness has been dissipated and covered. Exuberant she is not, but the mirror, if alive, would not recognize her. Pulling over a white shirt onto a skeletal structure almost feels like a waste. She is wasting away, slipping away, peeling away. Underweight and fading, but reluctant to die yet. Before all that, there’s a place to be.

Dressed in black. Lipstick ready. The girl takes a deep breath. Ankles twitching, hands sweaty, equipped with a speech for the ages. Only one thing is missing, the man of her dreams. In hindsight, he probably wouldn’t want to see her like this. Broken and malnourished, enraged by the world and its feeble defenses.

A black car arrives outside her one-bedroom house. The driver opens the door. The seats offer comfortability and the car offers a shield, a sheet of armor. Vodka drunk, hiding it will take imagination and restraint. It could go two ways, a drunken daze could take hold, or revelations could spark unrest?

The driver speaks about the weather. It’s cold outside, people shiver and splutter. It’s been colder this year than before. The girl is still under the influence, looking at shiny buttons on her blouse, seeing floaters in her eyes. She’s tired and aching for another drop of alcohol to infuse her body, but a liver can take only so much. She feels stranded in this life. No one visits. On her way to the place of reckoning, fake people will scatter, they’ll say sorry, but then they’ll disband. Family values are sacred to some.

The car stops outside the church. Miserable weather impedes. A hopeless feeling churns her stomach. Harsh rain falls on holy stones. She retreats from the car. No umbrella to cover her long, frayed hair. Still drunk and angry at the world, she turns and stares at the flock of people walking into the church. A cigarette sounds about right, but she can’t mar fresh air.

There’s no strategic plan to how this will unfold. The inner sanctum will be teeming. Her nerves at breaking point, her heart pumping at a dangerous tempo. Time is precious. Inside this room, people read eulogies of how they knew and loved the deceased. Her speech could be misconstrued, subjected to ridicule, deemed unworthy.

The doors open and she walks into a cathedral populated by a sea of black. They’re all singing a verse. She feels like a sardine, a small object in a box of hammers. Fabricated under stress, demented, and monitored. Under scrutiny, she sings also, trapped in this room. After voices dissipate. The young girl who is damaged, disturbed, and misunderstood, stands at the front of the sea of black. Her freckled face on show. Her vulnerability on edge. Eyes fixated, in the line of sight.

‘‘In time I will meet you again. Through the light I will go. Up there, angels surge through the sky, and I hope they’ll pick me. You were my warrior, a pillar of strength. I’m lost in a whirlpool of alcohol and despair. Forgotten by people who once tended to my grazes. I am tainted, dripping in rain and poison. I wish you could aid me in my pursuit in trying to rebuild my life, but impossibility strangles all hope. To you I praise, to you I send love,’’

If the ground could swallow, she would ask it to devour every piece of her. Through the middle she walks with her head down. Sparks fly in her head, memories of a joyous past swirl through the raging blaze. She isn’t settled, the cloud is still swollen, but a sense of calm has momentarily been instilled.