Who knew the stars
Or the sky a face?
The earth is a mouth,
full of teeth.
Who knew the stars
Or the sky a face?
The earth is a mouth,
full of teeth.
Here at The Stevens Institute (charitable status pending, we shall be seeking your donations shortly), we seek to ethicise omnivorism (and invent new words to patent). We are trying folks, we really are. We have put all of this week’s grant money into considering balloon animals.
Some of you may be scoffing, as you associate these creatures with parlour games and carnivals. I am not talking about simple domesticated balloon animals. I am talking about great sweeping herds of massive fortean creatures, blocking the sun on their nomadic trek as passenger pigeons once did sweeping across America. Magnificent helium or methane filled beasts, nodding and swaying as they are blown by the currents of wind, just as giant jelly fish are swept across oceans. Picture them now in your mind, see them billowing and filling the sky. Tremendous storms of them. The wondrous sight of them as they rail against the elements, indeed as they rail against their own ridiculous existence. Observe them as over time they are pitted by hail, scarred by lightning, scratched by talons of raptors. And the wonder of them is that their pseudo life is no life at all, it is a mere impersonation. Brave balloon bound hunters shall pursue them without ethical quandary, intrepid mountaineers shall stalk them to their winter homes, small children and we here at the Institute shall wonder at them.
O! If only we could get some nutrition into their skins! Some flavour into the rubber. Some texture into their form. And find some way to stop sea turtles from choking on them in their thousands when they critters deflate and drop into the sea. Perhaps it is impossible. But is not the dream as important as any mere actuality? At least this dream can unite us all, omnivores, carnivores, vegetarians, vegans, fruitarians, lacto-vegetarians, lacto-ovo-vegetarians, pescetarians, pollotarians, and pollo-pescetarians, the dream of the hunt of the giant pseudo-beasts in the sky that can sustain us all without troubling our consciences.
Until then, at least we have salad.
[“Life’s Solution” by Simon Conway Morris, p112 ‘Fortean bladders’]
Horace Tott spent an uneventful life in Cheshire always intending to write a large book on English magic, but never quite beginning. And so he died at seventy-four, still imagining he might begin next week, or perhaps the week after that.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
I thought that it
must have been
International Burns Day
with the victims on parade,
their different scars on display.
Marks I had not seen before.
Hair up, showing pigmentless flesh
below the ear.
Flashmark along the arm.
Puckered skin running down the rear
of a shoulder.
Are these the marks
that all lives leave,
everyday little tricks
usually hidden up a sleeve?
Did everyone see?
Or was I gifted to view
a deeper reality?
What use was that to me?
It was a conversation starter,
but not much of one.
I prefer “Do you come here often?”,
its not as scary.
I saw through the cosmetics,
the veneer of confidence
granted by beauty.
I saw everyone’s little horror story.
I averted my eyes
from windows and mirrors.
Would I have to blind myself?
Perhaps I could find a pretty girl
to do it for me.
News of the bus misadventure high in the Canutes caused me to reflect on an incident from my school days.
Those of a certain age will remember the tightening of the local school curriculum, when a scientific fine tooth comb was drawn through the hippy length hair of what in those days passed for the imparting of knowledge to the young. How bracing we found the shock of the new, when the wool was pulled from over our eyes and we saw not through a glass darkly for the first time. I remember our science teacher, nervous, looking around, perhaps unsure of how we would react to the “New Learning”. Then he opened his mouth:
“Children. Here is something interesting that I have to … need to tell you about. Did you know that flight is impossible?”
How intrigued I was. I recall the brand new text books that were handed around that day. I had never had a new text book before, unsullied by the eye prints of ancient children. One quote has stuck in my mind:
“Flight is not possible, and never has been possible. It is a scientific fact, that despite the widespread availability of extension ladders, no part of the fossil record has ever been found in the air.”
That clinched it for me. Magical thinking dropped away. Years of superstitious nonsense gone. Evolution proved it.
“But sir,” piped up a familiar voice.
“Sir, I dream of flying.”
The teacher was flustered, and he looked around more, sweating. ”But that…”
“Sir, I dream of flying. I’m up in the air, looking down on all creation. Without a care, I stretch my arms and just fly over everything. It feels wonderful.”
“I’m sure it does.”
“But its not true, is it sir?”
The teacher was silent.
“Dreams are stupid, aren’t they sir. We dream all sorts of ridiculous things, don’t we.”
“Yes that’s right. Flight is not possible. We dream all sorts of nonsense.”
“So sir, when you say all the time that we can achieve whatever we want, and that we should follow our dreams, you’re full of shit, aren’t you sir.”
“Yes. I am.”
I like to remember that day, on nights when I hear the screeching low over head, when there is the illusion of scrabbling at my roof tiles, when something unseen triggers the alarms in my fortified compound. It comforts me to know that the desperate screeching above, the whooping, the unearthly howls, are all an illusion, for flight is simply impossible. It pushes thoughts of military experiments gone awry from my mind, so that images of crazed scientists splitting open the space-time continuum are restricted to my dreams. Which, as we now all know, are full of shit.
Then tonight on the news, the story of the dreadful bus crash in the Canute Peaks, and the loss of 30 or so scientists as their bus plummeted into the unplumbable depths of the Siegfried Chasm. They were crazy, of course. They had been at a conference where they had been discussing whether the lack of fossils in the air was not because flight was impossible, but because over time, the ground has risen and absorbed the aerial fossil record. Some things should not be discussed.
I like to think that some of them survived the horrible, horrible fall, and that they will eke out an existence in those depths, surviving on the flesh of their comrades who died on the way down, but of course, I am an incurable romantic.
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ranted commented previously about one line dismissals of stories, and how hard it can be to work out what they mean.
I am such a hypocrite. I get another one line critique with a rejection and I am very happy about it.
I like the mood this piece evokes, but overall I felt it just didn’t do quite enough with itself … I wanted another layer of story here.
Though we aren’t taking this one, I shall look forward to your next.
I understand this critique. I was trying to do a particular thing with this story, mostly to do with mood though I thought with sufficient narrative, but this magazine wanted more, and that is fair enough.
Oh, you hypocrite! Oh you needy swine! Oh yes, this one you understood. Your sanguinity, your contentedness has nothing to do with the last seven words, does it? Shame on you.
(Give me a hint of praise, and I’m ok with everything. Please don’t tell me that’s a character flaw … )
Walking down the street the other day, I decided to travel down the lane less taken, and this is what I came across: words to live by.
Good advice to the youth of today. After all, no matter how rebellious you may feel, think about it: do you really want to let the rats in?
I liked my son’s reaction: how many times did the rats get in before some poor bugger had to go to the trouble of having that sign made?
A question for gourmets:Should we check the back doors of restaurants before we eat there? Or are we better off not knowing.
And for my daughters, excellent dating advice.
Ahh, rats …
I thought you had a really cool tatt,
until I saw it was a line of sores that
you had been picking at.
I liked the way the blood caked.
I liked the delicacy of where your skin flaked
from last weeks sun burn.
You were this weeks stomach churn,
my latest after hours ache.
At least your hand picked scar would fade.
Useless adolescent longing,
like there was a hole in me big enough
to hold the world,
knowing that I would never find a way to get it all inside,
that there would always be a part of me that was empty.
At least your hand picked scar would fade