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

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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

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.

       

Cracked Roads by Mark McConville

Flash Fiction, Mark McConville, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

Cracked Roads.

Last summer we spoke about moving away. Paradise beckoned, hope was infused in our alcoholic bloodstreams, but we were steady on our feet, paying our dues and searching for a utopian bubble we could laze around in. Departing this ruined sanctuary, where blood was scrawled in unruly text across walls and doors, kept us awake for days. Chances were scarce, finding work even more of a challenge. In time, we would have died and been thrown into unmarked graves.

We were the voiceless and the disenchanted blots on society. Under scopes, under scrutiny, packed like tins of sardines in a one-room apartment. No clean water, no heating, but plenty of thinking to do. Thinking? It made us go manic, mania hitting against every receptor in our brains, every core of our minds. We were the unlucky few, as they danced in their expensive robes, drinking ancient whiskey.

Cutting away the sinew of hatred would have taken years. As outcasts, we had to leave the regime. Penniless and hopeless, we still could breathe and walk and talk. Being alive may have been treacherous in these callous times, but at least our bodies had heat and our feet weren’t broken or snapped or skinless.

We set out on a day the sun beamed on cracked roads. We had flasks of water and bravery. No food for ravished stomachs, but enough motivation to create a better world for ourselves. The road was straight forward and long. Beside it there were rotting pastures and reactors. These reactors powered the electricity into the homes of the elite. For us they were monuments of greed. They never impacted our lives. They stood there, ugly and grey.

We walked for hours, afflicted by sun burnt skin that peeled. Hunger also took hold of us. Back in that town, we ate scraps. On that road, there wasn’t any sheep or cattle, only dead flowers and weeds. At one point, we felt overwhelmed, drawn to death. Being drawn to death frightened us, it made us reflect on what we were doing. Leaving the blackness of home-life felt good. It felt like a unanimous decision.

I looked at her as she slowed down. Like an over-worked animal. She swayed side by side, talking to herself, and then screaming out for hope to shine upon her. God was nowhere to be seen as she kissed her rosary beads. She turned to me, her eyes half shut, begging me to tell her everything will okay. I had no answers; we were out of our depth. Dying per minute, bellowing out for someone to save us. The heat tortured us, sunk into us, laughed at us.

I would be hours before sunset and we were walking towards nothingness. And then, at the corner of my eye, I saw a man holding a skinned animal. It looked fresh and edible. All I needed was to start a fire and cook it. I sauntered towards the man. He smiled at me, and then laughed. I placed my hand out to take the animal from his grasp, but it fell right through, and he turned to dust. My mind played a trick on me, the heat a culprit. And I was on my knees. She was next to me, laying her head on my shoulder. All of our worth was sinking deeply into the void, an abyss darker than closed eyes.

It felt like a split second, but we must have been sleeping for an hour at least. I opened my eyes and heard someone speak. She wasn’t beside me. I looked at their badges. They were the runaways, the pact, and the scavengers. They spoke and spoke, committing sin as they did so, hatching plans, dreaming up situations in their bespoke minds.

I shook, my hands shook. My dry mouth unbearable. I wondered where she was. After they spoke, they turned their attention to me. They brutalised me. They kicked as I screamed. They drove away as I shouted her name.

Hours after, I was next to a burning fire. A man with a thick beard was praying to God. It was night; the sun had dissipated. The pain, it was gone. I still had the bruises, but I felt no discomfort. The man told me, to settle. To breathe easily, softly. I asked him why he saved me. He said knew I had reasons to walk upon the cracked roads.

I looked up at the stars that night and wondered if she was still alive. I also knew I would endure sinister nightmares until my heart resisted its valves.

Dreams by Mark McConville

Flash Fiction, Mark McConville, Punk Noir Magazine

Dreams.

It rings true in your head. That day when thunder stole your composure. Your heart jolted for peace and reason on that day too, when she ransacked the apartment of wine and mementos she bought you. From then you’ve run marathon after marathon in your mind, settling in bed under a ceiling covered in her features. Her eyes are a beautiful reminder of what you had, her hourglass body fragile but compelling to look at and to touch. Her voice is still embedded in your head like a catchy rock song which has substance and lyrical qualities.

Dream after dream, nightmare after nightmare, all interlock to create misery. You’ve even carried a necklace in your pocket, a shining piece of jewellery she must have left by mistake, or she could have left it as a token to say come and get me when your head is fixed. Trying to fix your head has been a quest as you wish to dissect it of disturbing thoughts.

Keepsakes command safety. And you’ve kept the necklace in good condition. You’d love it to be a magic bottle so you could rub it and make a wish or two. These wishes could be pivotal. Imagine the possibilities, the grandness of it all. If you were in such a position, what would you wish for? A week in paradise, for your girl to come back with a red rose in her hand as a gesture of undying love. Or could you be tactical and wish for the intrusive thoughts to dissipate and be banished forever?

Unfortunately, the magic bottle doesn’t exist. It’s a myth. You must work for your week in paradise. You must fight tooth and nail for her hand to caress your bristly beard. Outside your imaginative but unstable mind, there is a tap running and the whole apartment stinks of stale alcohol and unwashed clothes. The place looks unhealthy like your reflection, the dust particles form a bond with the sunken couch.

You’re caught up in a miserable chronicle that no one would want to write. You’re festering like a fruit bowl laced in small insects. All the flies circle it like little commanders killing what they see fit. You’re lost and need to dig yourself out, click yourself out of that marathon. This isn’t a long-winded run to the promised-land.

You snap out of it. Your eyes are back in motion. The Television set is stuck on the discovery channel. The dreams are in the back of your mind, waiting to be pushed to the front later again. Time is of the essence, dreams are only fabrications, and this is real life.

You stand and shake your head at the room. The flowery paper is peeling and all of the candles have burnt out. The smell is putrid, rotting to the core, and all you can do is spray the last of the air freshener. You’re clothed, thankfully, but you’ve sat around in them for what seems like weeks. This isn’t a timeless costume, or a clean slate, you’re wearing a dirty checked shirt and sweatpants. She’d be furious, as your hair is bushy and the unkempt beard is brown from all the beer you’ve consumed. And you want to go back into that cocoon called your head, but you’re wide eyed and awake. Those dreams are toxic anyway.

You cut yourself shaving, blood trickles down your aging face. A face with lines, wrinkles and fear ridden eyes. The years have been chaotic. Carrying on has been difficult, but you deserve to see the future. You place a clean shirt over your chest, and a tie around your neck, and take a sigh of relief that you’re still young enough to live and old enough to care.

The door is closed, and the outside is frightening. People are shifting blood cells, hearts and bones, and you don’t know if you’re ready to hear different voices. You also want dignity to wrap you up. You unlock the door and look at yourself in the mirror. You’re the better man.

You’re outside a café on a safe street. One with fast-food chains and Instagram madness. The roads are fierce; the wind picks up the pace, but you’re in a good place. The dreams nip at you, and you’re resisting them. This day has significance. It is critical. You check your vital signs, you’re alive and ready.

The café looks busy. The baristas are like racing rats trying to overcome the tide of people. She’s one of them. She’s changed the colour of her hair. The beauty is astounding, resounding. It’s time to break the habit.

You open the heavy door and seek an empty seat.  She’s serves a customer. The light swirls around her in your eyes. It’s nearly closing time, and she’s cleaning the tables across from you. There’s another man watching her, observing her every move. He’s handsome, more handsome and assured than you. You worry, your hands are sweaty, and the dreams are barging in. No priceless thoughts, but negative ones.

And the hammer blow. The man and the girl of your past kiss. That kiss like the roar of a lion, like rats eating the inside of your organs. You’re empty.

You leave the café and look back at them. They’re in love, there is no doubting the fizz of lust. You wish to crack the glass with your fist, but you abstain.

They get into his expensive car and drive off. You hold the necklace in your hands. Your shoulders fall and your eyes gaze.

The dream has consumed you once more.

Mark McConville

Two Poems from Mark McConville

Mark McConville, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

Can She Show Strength?

She wishes colours would surround her

She wishes they would blend in and create a whirlwind

To paint her body, to cover the scars, the bruises,

And the war wounds.

 

All she sees is grey skies and pills

To numb her whimsical ways

She feels nothing, she’s empty,

And disillusioned by a world weighed down

By strong men with ties and wicked hearts.

 

At one moment she thought she was saved

By angels through the phone

They told her to live and cherish the days

All she could do was release her rage.

 

She hung up on them

Stricken by fear and a torrent of negative thoughts

She can’t think smoothly or logically

Death is sharpening its tools to capture

Her.

 

Can she begin to open the rest of her mind?

Can she show strength?

These desperate times are magnanimous.

 

She’s on the road outside of her apartment block

Counting every crack, every weed, every piece of broken glass,

To find meaning amongst the decay.

 

The cars go by swiftly

Beams of light interlock with the darkness

To create a stubborn clash

She walking towards the glint

She welcomes it and wants it to soak

Into her pores.

 

And in this moment

She feels alive and all those

Sharp memories that have haunted her

Have faded for now.

 

This Is Courage.

She mends her dress for doomsday

Rage burns inside of her eyes

She strides through the small hours

Dancing in the dark

And drinking wine for the estranged.

 

She has no sympathy for the devils

Of the night

She plays a symphony for the rebels

Who fight onslaughts bigger than them

This is courage.

 

She powders her face for war

Inside this catacomb she calls home

Underneath the darkened streets

It isn’t paradise

It’s a place that holds fundamentals and mirrors

Which crave to tell tales through wrinkled faces.

Mark McConville

Dream Big You Said To Me by Mark McConville

Brit Grit, Mark McConville, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

Mark McConville

Dream Big You Said To Me.

 

You write with elegance

And dance through the hallway when the poetry flows

And astounds, and makes you quiver,

It’s your medication.

 

I observe you nailing unwanted notes

On a wall coloured in red

That’s where the rejection letters hang

It’s a shrine of war and blood, sweat and tears.

 

Some days you don’t wash

Other days you’re as high as a plane

Flurrying through the sky

And headed to a dreamland.

 

You drink your optimism away

From a glass the size of an enlarged heart

Power was your strength,

You now seem stuck in between

Normality and hazardous thoughts.

 

The city was your playground

You’re cooped up and writing plotlines

That aren’t structured or compelling

They’re mediocre.

 

Art has succumbed to procrastination

As you sit and scream annihilation

And your bones shake and your skin tightens

This is a breakdown.

 

You throw expensive vases at the walls

You cut yourself on splinters

Begging to sleep, praying to wake up a new writer,

Of engrossing fiction, of well-rounded characters,

And a queen of those allusive plot-lines.

 

And dream big you said to me

As I hung onto your coattails

When you drank to wash away the taste of failure

 

I’ve observed too much…

Drunken Charade by Mark McConville

Brit Grit, Mark McConville, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

Drunken Charade.

Choose your path

One that illuminates

One that takes you through events

And neon lit alleyways where alcohol tinged

Human beings populate and tell their tales.

 

You’ve been waiting for this moment

When all shackles are cut

When freedom feels euphoric

It all feels manic too

In these testing times where hearts pulsate

For cleaner blood

And more storage to contain worries.

 

You share a bottle of grade c whiskey

With the leader of this drunken charade

She’s scarred and shaky

Unpredictable and marginalised

Broken skin touches your skin

She might be diseased but you couldn’t care less

As you deter suicide.

 

Drunk now

You’re sitting on a sheet of cardboard

Blasphemy orders another drink

You see blurred lines

There’s no sense or diplomatic virtues

The world is a damaging place

And you’re only realising this isn’t a time of clarity.

 

You want to sober up

So you can walk back into isolation

You were safer in a room filled with books

And cigarettes, and challenging jigsaws,

Where normality excelled.

 

These people aren’t friends

They’re enemies

And you’re edging close to sinking straight

Into a bottle or even worse a dangerous sleep.

 

Bright lights and sirens

Are seen and heard

They scatter

You’re slumped and looted of faith and possessions

 

You’ve been saved.

Mark McConville