Photosynthesis-Jimmi Campkin

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I cannot fly but your words whip the wind under my arms.  Just a smile and wink, just a poke in the ribs and a kick in the shins, and I am no ones.  We stare at the dead brown leaves stuck to my shoes as we kick through the dead drifts, and I wait for something profound.  You are too busy staring at the end of a bottle, pointed towards the sky, as a telescope for the stars.

I get it.  You aren’t scared by thunder anymore it makes you feel alive.  You’re strapped to a table, waiting for the electricity to hit.  I made sure the knots were tight around your wrists and ankles, as I tied you to the bed and opened the window to the storm, but you still insisted on more.  More!  I Want More!!  I am no weatherman.  I am no God.  So I filled pint glasses with water as you screamed up at a disappointing belt of nondescript cloud, threw them across your writhing torso, and wondered when I might see the calm eye of this storm.

I remember when you pushed a sewing needle between the webs of my fingers and you told me; we can’t be calm and safe…we are the autumn leaves that cling to the branches and turn green again.  I have no idea what this means.

Probably it doesn’t matter; but it does.  I am directionless and you offer me a path…the wrong one, but a path nonetheless.

© Jimmi Campkin

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Brakes-Jimmi Campkin

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When I look into her eyes I see the violence of a life disappointed – the crush of society and the comedown of feeble Men. I see those pupils glowing amber in the sunset and red for the rest of the time. I know about the Bowie knife inside her jeans and I know about the expulsion from school as a teenager for trying to hang a boy who lifted up her skirt.

In arguments, I see her sometimes reach for the blade, but she toys with the hilt as a stress relief. She tells me I’m fucking other women, I tell her she’s destroying other men, and neither of these things are true. She only kills boys – those not worth losing sleep over – and the rest of us have to keep our guard up.

She told me; I have this weird dream where I wake up paralysed, and I feel my flesh melting into the bed, and then through the floor, and then I somehow become… I dunno….at ‘one’ with the world. I can hear plants growing and the soil turning and the plates of the Earth floating and bumping. And then I wake up, and I realise I can move, and I feel sad. She looks at me with an invisible question hanging between us. I wish I knew the answer she needed. I wish I knew the question.

One day I will confess the big ‘L’ I feel about her….

I want her always, so I can ‘Live’.

©️ Jimmi Campkin

Original photograph by Jimmi Campkin

Stalker-Jimmi Campkin

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I lay in bed, setting fire to pieces of books. The smoke dances around my fingertips as the words dissolve and are set free into the fresh air.  Maybe humanity will change, or maybe this is futile destruction.  I feel the air waltzing around the hairs on my legs and arms as I dream of stockinged legs, like broken pillars either side of my hips, and the wet, vibrant warmth of her embrace on a humid summer evening.

When we last embraced, her dry lips scraped against mine in the fetid atmosphere of a subway, surrounded by the desperate, depressed, and drunk.  In that artificial neon miasma, her curls caught the light like scythes in an autumn sunset.

Taunted and haunted by memory, I feel too depressed to go downstairs and face the world with its textures, shadows and reminders.  Instead I stay upstairs in the glow of unattached memory, looking out my window and into the infinity of the sky and the clouds; I listen to crackling old vinyl that smells of time capsules. I wish I knew where I could find purpose.  Even the thrill of the chase would be better than stagnation and regret.

When I sleep, I dream about walking in black and white on the middle rail of a five wide railroad with steep concrete walls on either side.  An old Diesel train clanks up to me, pulling six coal trucks and a guard van, seemingly empty but filling the air with the stench of dry charcoal and oil.  Inside I can hear children playing games, although I can’t see them.  The cab is black as a moonless night, and tar oozes from the steps leading in.  I don’t see the driver, but I feel eyes staring down at me with disdain and suspicion.

Someone emerges from the van to the rear and stumbles on the ballast towards me as I stand, breathing in the fumes.  Dressed in a muddy blue uniform and with no arms, the sleeves sewn up to the shoulders, the Guard waits in front of me and tilts his head as though trying to see under my jaw.  I can see soot and dust in the creases of his face, and his jet black eyes reflect back the faces of people I once knew, cramming for attention as though scrambling for the only window in an airtight box.

He shakes and trembles, and as I try to reach out and hold his arm he jerks me away violently, breaking my forearm in the process with a shock I feel down my spine and into my ankles.  I stumble and collapse to one side, resting my good arm on the rail of the next line.  The guard shambles back into his van; and the train begins to grind away from me, the children’s voices growing in terror and intensity, as I feel the rail under my elbow vibrate.  I know something is coming, and I realise that I don’t want to move.

Puncture-Kindra M. Austin & Jimmi Campkin

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PUNCTURE

Kindra M. Austin and Jimmi Campkin

I know damn well where the bastard’s been, but I ask him anyway, just for shits and giggles. He tells me to take a short walk off a long pier—idiot, stinking of another man’s piss and strawberry nudy-bar incense. He’d sat in his car getting blotto before going inside. I know because this particular club only serves soda. What a ridiculous image: a carpark full of man-children rubbing premature hard-ons while sucking down whiskey or beer, and snorting snow off of steering wheels. I wonder how many make eye contact with their fellows as they walk across the pavement, and enter Titty McGee’s.

Hate is a strong word, and only suitable for a wretched fool.  Earlier that evening, whilst going through a drawer, I blew the dust and little balls of melted cotton from my thigh-highs and looked at them through the diseased light of a yellow lamp.  They hung from my fingertips like dead skin, stripped from some worthless cadaver fucked into permanent oblivion.  I dream of shackling his wrists and ankles spread-eagle and slowly inching the only sharp stiletto heel I have left towards an eye until the lid closes; wherein I push the tip against skin until it punctures and he begins to tremble.  My daydreams now invade my night, and I welcome the embrace from anything that purports to care enough.

I sit down, light up a smoke, and make sure the robe slips enough to see the gap between the stocking and skin. I can see him staring ahead at some shit game show re-run with the grim determination of someone not wanting to look at a road accident, or the second honeymoon video of the ex-wife. He doesn’t want it, and I regard him with all the disdain of a soiled mattress; but it’s nice to tread on his already flimsy principles. I like to remind him that the only pussy that intimidates him is the pussy that stays dry and grates like sandpaper. My cunt was silken once, back when I was a dancer he coveted. Now, the TV glows as he slumps in front of the screen, images passing over him like Teflon—nothing sticking, nothing absorbing.

I’m onto my third cigarette, and my mouth is full of cotton. He finally switches everything off and goes into the bedroom. Like a shy virgin, he mumbles a goodbye and looks at me from over his nose. Following him, I peel off the stockings and throw them into the corner of the room as he begins to undress, embarrassed by a body shaped like dead clay. Snapping my disposable lighter in half, I pour the contents over the rumpled nylon, and throw the glowing end of my cigarette into the mess. It ignites instantly; he jack-knifes over to put it out, stomping and pounding on the melting garments. It gives me pleasure, the confused fear dripping from a pair of black orbs and into his mouth.

When he asks me in desperation why did you do that? I can only give him an honest answer.

Exactly I say, looking into his empty eyes. Exactly.

 

© Kindra M. Austin/Jimmi Campkin

Original image courtesy of Jimmi Campkin      

The Effortless Brass, by Jimmi Campkin (originally published on Sudden Denouement)

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I’d known The Boy about six years before I realised he had feelings.  Until then, I’d assumed he was like a dead tree – enigmatic and interesting to look at but essentially hollow and lifeless.  The Boy only made sense on drugs – taken by himself and his audience – but in that narrow alleyway of lucidity there was a path to reaching him.  Like those on the fringes of death who witness the long path to the bright light, if you were willing to get as fucked up as he could and did, you’d find windows where he made sense.

I remember lying on the floor, smashing my teeth on a brick, convinced it was a stale piece of bread, and seeing him standing above me, upright, without the usual hunching of the shoulders.  His voice clear and concise, not broken and wavering.  I crawled in the general direction of his shoes, blood dribbling down my chin and spitting bits of tooth and gum out onto the concrete floor.  I grabbed a handful of dust and rubbed it into the smashed remains, feeling the first burning embers of pain even this far gone.  He looked down on me with an expression I didn’t think he was capable of; pity.

He said; She smells like a spring thunderstorm.  A spring thunderstorm.  That was exactly what she smelt like, what she sounded like, what she essentially was.  A storm in a fruitful season.  He crouched onto his haunches and I met his eyes, but they moved too fast for me.  Curling into a foetus, I began to violently spasm, kicking and dragging my body in a circle.  He told me later that the retching created petal splatters of blood around my head…. like a scarlet daisy. 

*

The Boy’s earliest memory was watching a fox with a broken leg trapped in an old oil drum, slowly starving to death over a period of two weeks.  Every day that summer he’d clamber through thistles and nettles taller than him to find the poor beast inside the metal coffin, rattling and whining.  Initially he would sit apart from it terrified and fascinated, as the animal crashed and groaned, trying to free itself from its prison.  But as it became weaker, the noises died down to a soft howl, gentle as the wind through a keyhole.  Towards the end, he would push a crate against the drum and peer inside, looking down at the fox as it looked back up at him….breathing heavily but with a look on its face of utter serenity.  No noise, no whining or struggling, just two damaged lifeforms staring at each other – one at the beginning of its life and one nearing the end.  He once told me; the fox went to sleep, and I kept going back to see if it would wake up.  But something ate its eyes, and it didn’t move no more. 

*

I still go to the old oil drum, now rank and loathsome, filled with black muck and vague glimpses of rib and snapped femur.  I throw my old cigarettes inside, hoping one day I’ll feel bad about it, but I never had the depth of feeling that The Boy did, with or without drugs.  I take enough blotter acid to wallpaper most family homes, but the sun still looks normal and the trees don’t sing anymore.  I push through the thistles and weeds, remembering the pain this little child went through to experience feeling.  How he’d return home covered in little white nettle bumps on his arms, legs and face.  How he’d never cry, even as he slept on a mattress damp from beneath the floor.  Born to indifference, raised in a slum; just a product of bad decisions and post-industrialisation, both parents dead in a public toilet cubicle.

I buried The Boy in a quiet corner of the wasteland.  I picked the spot especially; surrounded by nettles guarding what they could not harm, within sight of the drum and blasted by the rays of the noon sun.  He rests under his little barrow mount, like ancient kings, away from all the troubles of the world.  And that is what haunts me; leaves me so helpless and jealous – not that his troubles are now over, but that nothing ever troubled this simple, stupid Boy in the first place.

© Jimmi Campkin