Women and men

Perhaps the history of fish and chips started in London. Salty, lemony white fish fried fish (in a baptism of sorts) usually hake wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper like a cherub in a white christening gown. I can see kitchen hands wearing aprons like costume standing anticipatory like a cadet over hot oil wearing their neat black net caps like turbans with their dark black hair tucked away (one kitchen hand has done the extreme. He has blonde hair). So the customer doesn’t find a stray hair. The air feels hot inside even I have started to sweat. Mayonnaise comes in tubs. They make their own coleslaw here in this little out of the way place but it is still popular with the lunch crowd, students from the university, business people swarm inside this place. Every season is hake season. It doesn’t matter to think that one day this fish might be extinct like what we’re doing to the dolphins when we’re catching tuna in nets. Even my blood has begun to boil in this heat. I need to eat. Even writers and poets need to eat to remind themselves that first and foremost they are notorious hunters and gatherers. Hunger reminds you that you are nothing without a full stomach. I’m having the calamari because it tastes of the sea. Salty. My mother is having hake white fish fried fish. Every fish here has gone to fishy-heaven. Nothing chemical about it. There’s no imbalance in this chain. Unlike genocide and climate change in this cool food hierarchy. The fat woman who stands behind the counter has hands like Buddha and I know for a fact she has secrets like any other. Her skin is dark like bittersweet chocolate, lips like pillows. Fat women have their secrets too. They keep them close to their heart like bone-thin reed-thin women walking-talking-skeletons. Those dancing closet anorexics bungling at feeding themselves with their eyes like slits gold bangles around their wrists. Why should there be a difference? I can feel the sweat dripping down my back. Hake is a pretty fish, an anonymous fish even amoebas are pretty under the microscope too and mitochondria, symmetries, trees, birch, driftwood, waves, the birch. Mummy’s sister has been gone for a long time. She’s gone to heaven forgotten the climate of the northern areas. Sweat is dripping down my back. I’m thinking of where I could be now. California dreaming at a university?
Investigating genocide and climate change. Standing in a protest march against sexual violence against women even though politics and the thread of violence frightens me to death. I’m thinking of reading Ezra Pound’s Alba out loud to remind myself of Neruda, Rilke, and David Foster Wallace.

And so we come to the beekeeper’s daughter’s suicide.

The glory of wisdom and ego shrunk to accommodate the villagers wounding spirits. She the significant one. She is my angelic conjured up myth. She who always tells me in her poetry to rise, rise again above volcano dreamers. Liquid deep are the secrets of my heart. The stem of intimacy grows silently. Give me enough rope and surely I will hang myself. The handmaiden’s pulse is there. The muscle is there like unfinished things from childhood.
It pushes at the difficult thoughts I have.

They have a hard appearance from the outside like a seduction theory, the blue steel of the sky, the land that borders on God, perplexity, sanctuary. Like poverty and death, the angelic dream of it. I am as serious as an ill tiger, I laugh like a hyena in the face of the man on the moon. I am a coping lioness. My mother did not keep me from children who were rough.
She wanted me to experience the world (that humanity is a violent species). My mother left me there hanging on for dear life. As a child the details of my life soon became embroidered by tortuous emptiness, the innocence of autumn cast out.

Bold smile through her great depression. Wife interrupted. Mother of Frieda and Nicholas Hughes. There was always a journey of moving forward worshipping the past. Where is the sun in an argument? Where is the physical body in flight in dream-mode? She saw the skylines of New York, had a London experience, and married an Englishman, a poet. Solitude and loneliness, being an introvert should have been included in the commandments.
Her bright faith and loyalty, the love she had for her children was like music from the heart.
Her bright faith was as bright as the lights in Los Angeles. Her loyalty was a prize. The glory of her bravery was unbalanced, and her rage was that most rare thing. Sylvia Plath, daughter and poet, wife and mother, gone too soon to heaven. Melancholia and of the sky in her eyes and the other half of her gone to hell on earth.

Bird, leaf, madness, jealousy all symbols of life, of humanity and so we come to adulthood.
Now her poetry educates young people’s minds now that she is no longer flesh, bone. I think a present-day Sylvia would be reluctant to be called beautiful, lonely, misguided, depressive, and intelligent. A Sylvia who lived a madness life, who fell ill at the end of her life, is a Sylvia whose heroism lives on in her poetry, her soul’s progress, the people who relate to it destination anywhere.

And so we come to the climate in the northern areas. The actor with their deceptive perspective. The offering from the salt of the earth burnt by the sun. The angelic link between the owl and the moon and the aware moon is a beloved and ancient witness to the stars, to evil, to the human race and all their purification rituals and dreams. Dreams between mother and daughter. Son and father, adopted prize, paper fragment. The lines of all these things appear in a hopeful climate. The lines are there complete. I am still chemistry. Particles lingering and floating in the air – romantics every one. They came from all over (my observations). Observations from childhood at a glance. I am only the passionate instrument of my faith. Warrior of light it is almost heaven. Wounded as my soul is wounded isn’t every soul? There is an authentic contract drawn up between earth, the universe and humanity. Poverty will be the death of all of us. I was mum’s second choice – I had no inheritance. Men drink women in for hours on this side of town. Children no longer live in an age of innocence
Each one suspicious, rough, picking up bad habits.

After the birds flew away winter came.
This is what I can see with ‘my eyes’. I taste the bread of life. I waited all winter for the heat of summertime. There was silence in every room of the house. A fire in my heart that burned as bright as a moth’s pilgrimage towards the light. There was a common sense of the world inside my head. I walk into the sea and feel the weight of water against my spirit and my body. The sky is a wild blue. So here I am now there I was then I don’t know. How it came about the writing part of me that bit. Those goals I never thought I’d become a poet. The waves broke over my head drowning visitors every one. The silver lining makes every being a living survivor navigating from this world to the next. Even the strained mother-daughter relationship will fill the fridge with thanksgiving food. It hurts when I smile at strangers. It feels as if I am drowning in a waterfall. And now we come to unconscious love and passion.
Your first hurt, your first love, and your first everything where all affairs to remember, were voyages, and discoveries. When I was a butterfly-goddess before women had wings.

And then there is the alcoholic in recovery.

I may be cynical, getting older, more set in my ways and I may not have the tongue of an angel, or much love for my fellow man. My recovery begins with slowly peeling back the layers of pain that you experienced by anyone as a small child, those hurts that your parents caused you growing up, when you were bullied on the school field or by your siblings. Death becomes you people say and I was close to it once or twice

Mental illness makes for riveting reading, that chemical romance. When the liquor is a cold thirst quencher and golden brown, texture like a pilgrimage, a small happiness that deprives me of self-loathing on good days it feels as if I am stepping into the sea fading away on the bad days it also feels as if I am stepping into the sea fading away fading away to nothing, a hopeless cause filling in the blank spaces with a drink (If my childhood was wonderful maybe I would have turned out different).

Or if I could still see the world around me through the eyes of a child, if I could have the imagination of a child. All my life I’ve wanted laughter to fill in the details, the perfect wife, those children but I never followed that sunny road instead my path is blue and my mood too. I reach for my cigarettes. I’ve taken note of the African Renaissance and I write a little poetry. Depressing poetry. I’ve been in love before. Women can never resist a poet and a man who they think they can change.

For a long time I preferred alcoholism and being alone. Living in that half-hallucinogenic half-dream world (I could tolerate that). Not the width of a thread of the planet earth, the material world, or modern society. Flashbacks now to those warm nights. The nights of when I was a child of the wasteland of the eighties. If I had married I would have been a disappointment (some men never grow up). I was still a boy at heart even though I was a grown man.

I remember those pretty nights, those warm nights, those savage years as I slowly became a young man who ventured out into the strangeness of the night. And became acquainted with the stars, star people other men who drank like me and didn’t believe in silver linings, divorced men, men who remarried, men who were unhappy in their relationships and I thanked God I wasn’t one of them. I was but I wasn’t. The air was always alive with possibility and flashbacks of the time when people told me I had so much potential.

The idea of alcoholism gave me an identity for a while. I isolated myself from a part of humanity that considered themselves to be the middle classes. Sometimes I would drink in my house by myself and sometimes I would go out and drink. The house is so quiet, too quiet, so I drink to escape the facts of the matter, the bad habits I have introduced into my life. But in the end I wanted to save my skin, I had enough of ‘to suffer means to sacrifice’.
And the fact that addiction gives you bright conversation.

And so we come to the stories of four women. Beginning with Alice’s oyster shell. Where has everyone gone? Into the trippy harsh climate of hedonistic and decadent nostalgia. They’ve preferred it over and above life, existence, sitting in a room filled with the knife edge of silence, the sharp depth of it, reading literature from that Austrian great Rilke, people have appeared to prefer the empire of the sun to the cold, preferred sacrifice and conversation. I hate the word suffer. Sacrifice. Surreal but there’s a brightness to sensitivity, vulnerability, imagination, visionaries (was Alice a visionary) and understanding.

And so we come to Etty Hillesum’s world of wonderland. The house is so quiet (where has everyone gone?) I have found a book am reading fragments from a diary. It contains love letters, a German love story, and a story about a concentration camp. She is feeding my brain in all those vulnerable spaces with all this bedazzling information (the diary belongs to a Dutch Jew who was captured near the end of the war). She was captured near the end of the war and I wondered did she ever miss flowers when she was in that camp?

Alice was a mystery. Was Alice a visionary sitting down to tea parties in a wonderland? And following a white rabbit? Was she a girl with the soul consciousness of a Brahmin? It feels as if every day I’ve died a little. Digged a little deeper to the roots of a granadilla Southern Africa to find my sister like a keepsake my empress from my childhood. With this little heart of mine I feel I will no longer continue to shine. If I do not have her autumn love, her discontentment is my discontentment. Big, bright neon lights burning in a city filled with bold people, old people, young people, star people, couples, families, homosexuals buying art and property in a Johannesburg that has stopped calling for me. Why won’t she believe me? Instead I can be found cooking with layers. I left people behind in my past behind glass walls, brick walls. They’ve all evaporated from my sight, these lessons, and those songs. The man that I loved I have lost him forever to his wife and his children Wasted years but not a waste of my intuition, not a waste of intimacy. She tells me that she is going to London at the end of the year

And then I take a breath.

And so the second sex comes of age when a man wounds them like an animal or washes away their childhood sins, or whispers in their ear sweet nothings and tells them that they have lovely bones. We’re not normal unless loved. Until we’re tangled in the obsession of it.
Will you catch me if I fall? And so we come to the ballad of the near-wasted generation.

As I progress towards you, towards possession. Lost in Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, wuthering heights, America, English literature, Rilke’s letters to a young poet. I draw lines through the clouds in the air picturing every silver lining that passes me by. Through God’s flute comes a prayer like a jewel in the dust, the unbearable bittersweet lightness of youth, and being young at heart and torn. I’m dreaming all at the same time. There’s a river that runs through it, a legend of a river, epic like the feeling that you have when you’re in love with a film star. There’s always an open road ahead, a mirror to my soul.

South Africa, South Africa, South Africa, South Africa do you remember the forced removals, apartheid, and swimming? Swimming in a river, when there was a department for Colored Affairs? There was no white bread toasted for your breakfast, no jam,
No boiled egg, red cappuccino, daddy and mummy reading the morning newspaper
You garden boy, you kitchen girl were treated like lepers, worse than dogs
You were raped, cheated and bullied, butchered and murdered, and suburbs were pillaged and turned into slums overnight and a sharp light drifted into focus. Some days would have a brave sweetness about it and other days the near-wasted generation would venture out to kill or be killed. Slow men, slower women, and mute children.

Africa, Africa, Africa, and Africa once again I am devoted to you. What does love feel like for you? The link to the international outside world. I want to be saturated by you. I’ve seen glimpses of your trauma. Your suffering, the genocide, civil war, unrest, refugees, camps, the slave trade. I’ve seen glimpses of the color of your children’s skin. Albino, white, colored, black, mixed race, and everyone is as precious as porcelain. Under our sky even the soft and hard Lolita, the promiscuous, the prostitute, young men with that arrogant filter from their heads to their mouths, our gathering of musicians and poets are like the circle of the golden sun. I don’t care for the ego, for these things anymore – the paraphernalia of violence
And for the discontent for so many is a permanent assignment for them.

As I progress towards you, towards possession with an almost criminal intent, carrion and Kevin Carter on my mind. Moses Molelekwa, Dulcie September, George Botha, Brutus and Biko, including Lumumba this is my story, suffering in silence is not unique. Making it is, making it through to the other side perhaps this is why communities are afraid of speaking about it – soloists everyone. Some say there is such a violent intent on this planet to destroy, to sabotage but there are still ways of finding peace, of finding yourself amidst sanctuary.
Inviting people to your sanctuary is out of the question. Everyone must journey and find their feet on their own pilgrimage. I am still revisiting the past, still rewriting history and I guess I always will.

And so we come to a thin place.

Windows of perception are the system of mysteries. In all parts of the world there are hot spots, stained with blood. Parts of Africa too and there’s a sacredness of values kept holy, kept away from the ego, something quite concrete. And the human spirit is like a flowing river, a thin river that flows gently, wherein life is a gradual process from living to dying, no education for barbarism there. The chicken is my father who can never stand up to my mother. Romeo why didn’t you love me instead of a suicidal ghost nation filled with girls made out of the thin places in air. I breathed in the air of London. Walked in my father’s footsteps at the palace in Versailles. His odyssey slowly became mine. I look at the stars balancing act. We are blue. We are pure. We are part and parcel of the past. We are the alchemic web that lies beneath. When we are naked we are at our most vulnerable. To get to the green sea we trust our gut instinct. We walk on the burning sand to get there. We are what we are. We are biological father and daughter. We both have measured the turning points in our lives. We have loved. We both have realized the loss of youth. We are made up of salt and light. We are both silent when we think about Richard Rive. Particles add up. It’s a fact of life. It’s human nature. An achievement called progress.

And a dialogue by a lake, between visitors, winter guests.

Why are you crying? Someone asked. And a voice in the darkness answered. Because of the parachutes and bombs. They come like a thief in the night. But a German love story is forever. What is written on a child’s body is different to what is written on an adult’s? In those days nobody knew what female depression was? All people had were their dreams and the dreams they had for their children and during the war the German children still saw rainbows when it rained cats and dogs. Death would come – and the living still suffered on in silence. Writers would write and rewrite history. Daughters became wives and mothers even during the war for they thought it would pass quickly like another season. In this silent world there’s only soup and children who play in the lonely streets. There’s a buoyancy to angelic creation. Men died and some became legends. Characters and gardens were altered by war
So was the industrial west, and bones. Evil touched lips and clothed Auschwitz. Maps, tongues, trains, creative thinkers, every Jew was taken while green leaves turned brown

And pale rain poured down from heaven. Souls too and there was no more cake, bread and pudding for the young only sunlight and water. Snow came and grew cold in the young’s hands and women who lost their men to a bloody war did not know God’s peace for some time in their lives.

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