LIVING DEAD WEEKEND (festival)

So, Evans City, film set for the classic horror film Night of the Living Dead. October 2018, Evans City host a Living Dead Weekend festival. The local library is hosting a mail art show, honouring movies that keep us awake at night. Deadline, October 1st 2018.

Send mail art to:

Evans City Public Library, 205 South, Jackson Street, Evans City, PA 16033 USA

The collage shown here, titled: “All Hail Evans City!”, is my submission.

Su, ‘nam, me.

Yep, so I knew Su, we were kinda friends. We’d met as members of a group of people who got together in a cafe twice a month. We were writers; we weren’t professional, fully fledged writers. Su and I were two people writing stories and poems who sometimes thought to compare ourselves to writers. Helping to bolster this belief, we attended a collective of like-minded folk.
We barely met outside of the group meetings, when we did, it was at a bar after a meeting had finished. A smaller number of group members would be sat around a large wooden table, chewing over the evening’s feedback session. It served as an opportunity to express views freely, to joke around and get to know each other. As with any social gathering, a few smaller enclaves would form, carrying on with a particular topic of conversation or developing new ones.
If you were like me, well you might fall silent at some point. Like when your day had caught up with you, your arm and leg muscles deciding lethargy the only response. This physical fatigue is matched by a mental dissociation, taking you somewhere else. Naturally, it is an isolated and underwater world you find yourself in. You look around, view people in conversation without registering their words. You hear laughter or see expressions of surprise, fake and real, punctuating sentences. Most profoundly of all, you find yourself alone.
Until that is, your eyes meet with someone carried on the current as far away as you are, heading out east on a gusting jet stream. What happens next, seems like no one else sees what’s happening. We move frame by frame in our very own, two-person populated world. Did he just smile then, did she just smile back? Legitimate questions – but neither likely aired or noted.
Su is young, young enough for me to know not to cross any kind of line with her. Yes, I did smile, fleetingly so. I can’t see my own face, I can’t be sure if it relaxed a little and softened somewhat like hers had, but I’d guess it had done.
“I have a plan.” She tells me; no attempt made to quell a subversive smile.
“You have a plan?”
“A plan, yes.”
“What kind of plan?” I asked.
“Indirectly, I got the idea from George Lucas.”
“Oh?” I said, unsure if she was being serious or not.
“In the early 70s, he’d wanted to make an anti Vietnam war film.”
“Okay.” I knew this to be true.
“He couldn’t find anyone to fund it, the war hadn’t concluded, most people interested understood the U.S. to have lost.” Elbows on the table, Su clasped her hands together in front of her, extending two pinkies with tips touching to form a triangular shape pointing in my direction. “So, after an adaptation,  he took the story he’d developed and threw it far off into space.” A damned good imitation of a frisbee-throw followed.
“Hah! Okay,” I’d said, “I guess with the race into space, America was having more success.”
“That’s right, they were winning and by then,” Su continued, “Sci-Fi had broken away from the previous decades risible attempts. The output of alarmist, little green men shenanigans had ceased and been replaced by a considered approach.”
“The fall-out from the Kubrick 2001 era.” I said.
“Quite,” she said, “and even better, within Star Wars he’d been able to cast America as the evil empire and the Viet Cong as the rebel alliance, without the people who ended up bankrolling the film ever realising.” Su drew in a large mouthful of gin mixed with tonic and watched my reaction carefully.
“Okay,” I said, “So what’s your plan, I’m intrigued.”
“Well, it isn’t to write a screenplay for an actual Vietnam war story, set in space.” Su said, spinning around the last remaining ice-cube inside her near empty glass. “I-don’t-know, when I read about the back-story to getting Star Wars off the ground and also since then, just how long film projects take from inception to the final cut, it got me thinking: What if I learned of blockbuster film concepts earlier enough, so I could write my own imagining of a screenplay into a story and self-publish? Then, I’d sue the fuckers for copyright before their film comes out.”
“You’d have to write something up quickly,” I said, deploying a cautionary tone, “it’d have to be convincing.”
“Wouldn’t you if there was a chance of a $200,000 settlement waiting up ahead? By the time they are all set to go, the film company won’t want to get held up by a battle over artistic copyright. They’ll seek to settle, it would cost them multiples of a pay-out figure if distribution were delayed.”
“Su, could I be your ‘Clyde’ as accomplice to your ‘Bonnie’?”
“In so many words, that’s what I’d hoped you’d propose, a co-supportive collaboration of minds. We’d only need to do it a few times and then retire.” Su said, turning her head to face upwards at the night sky.
“Okay,” I said, ” as long as there is no ‘just one more time’ thing that happens, alright? It’s a trope people always trip-over.”
“Yep, alright,” she said, turning her gaze to me, “we can come to an agreement on the number of attempts. We can eliminate greed.”
“So when do we start?” I asked, edging forward in my chair. We both looked around our immediate vicinity and noticed everyone else had gone home.
“Now seem like a good time?”

NEW YORK – BIG APPLE IV: MAIL ART SHOW

Promoted by the New York Boyer Foundation, inviting anyone to participate in an international art exhibition.

Exhibition runs through November 2018 at the New York Public Library Hudson Park Branch.

The theme and media are open/free, dimensions, maximum size 8.5″x11″ (22cm x 28cm).

No sales, no jury, no returns.

Submission requires name, title, media, date, email address and website – if applicable.

Send to:

The New York Boyer Library Foundation, New York Big Apple IV Project, 161 Prince St., Apt. 2, New York, NY 10012-5338

Need more info? Email newyorkboyerfoundation@yahoo.com

All info on this post taken from International Union of Mail Artists (IUOMA), courtesy of Ruud Janssen.

The accompanying image to this post, is my own submission.

When a kid, I remember being told it’s illegal in the UK to ‘deface’ the head of the queen from money. If this also proves true of postage stamps, well… I guess I maybe in some trouble.

the rise of the dandelions

The sun glared down from a clear sky onto a grassy knoll at high noon, on a hot mid-summer’s day. Aster, transient Empress Taraxacum Dandeliona, surveyed her vast weed army spread out before her. Already, white seeds sprouted amongst her bright yellow petals, indicating the completion of her life-cycle drew near. Soon, her seed distribution would begin and with it her reign pass on.
“Weed Army, hear this!” she declared, “with the Russian Vine largely decimated little stands in our way. We take this land as our land, for generations to come.”
In response, a cloud of seed released into the air and flew in formation over the Empress’ head.
“Good luck patriots!” she called after them, “God’s speed!”
With the seed cloud passed from sight, her attention returned to the assembled troops. “Take heed of this,” the Empress said, adopting a cautionary tone, “one garden enclave up ahead is proving tricky to overcome. The Humarnus living at this address, has taken to tearing the heads off our soldiers, before they have reached full maturity.”
Furthermore, he has painstakingly applied a nocuous liquid, condemning many of our comrades to a slow and painful death.”
“How will we rest control of his land, Empress?” several soldiers cried out in synchronisation.
“Kill! Kill! Kill!” went up a chant, building to a feverous level. The Empress waited patiently, before addressing her minions.
“Guile is our most effective weapon, guile and tenacity – both of which we hold in large measures. Cooperation with our allies, the Buttercups and Daisies, has seen established a reliable chain of communication. It appears the Humarnus likes our friends, who are allowed to settle sparsely across the lawn. The information gathered so far, indicates a weakness along the flanks of the garden. Our enemy fails to trim back the grasses up near the wall on one side and fence on the other, making these our best routes of access.
“From here, we shall move up and into the crevices of the unkempt crazy paving patio and launch our main offensive, flowing out across the entire lawn.” The Empress paused, she felt the heat of the sun on her barnet, yellow turning to white, petal by petal.
“The time is near, those of you who are ready keep your seed dry and light, await your Empress, as I will lead you from the front. When the next gust of wind sweeps across, be ready to release upon my command.”
The Dandelion army shimmered in anticipation as an initial current of a cool breeze swept amongst their stems.
“We do this for the multitudes of generations who follow us and we shall not be forgotten!”
“Indeed!” roared the army.
A fully mature signaller cast it’s progeny into the prevailing wind. As seeds soared over the Empress, her last command sounded out.
“Ready? The game is afoot! All… together… now! …”

vapid escalation

Located in my usual cafe, I’m sat at a table to the rear of the dining area, feeling hungover, waiting for my English fried breakfast to be served. In this fogged state of mind, I am unable to maintain the necessary chemical synaptic connection between thought and action. With the signals blinking on and off, my eyelids drawn half-down works best for now.

I spend much time in this communal space. This is where I meet people, usually interesting people lacking in pretension – much like the cafe. The layout has remained the same for as long as I can remember. Near the entrance, an L-shaped counter top is where food is ordered, self-collect cutlery, condiments and serviettes are positioned nearby. Broadly aligned in rows, wooden tables and chairs stretch out across the dining area.

It is already late-morning, I am sat stirring a pitch-black expresso, wincing each time the spoon scrapes against the china cup. Peripheral vision speaks to me of an elderly, tweed-suited gentleman sat three tables across from mine. Focal analysis reveals a pressed white shirt, striped tie and scuffed handmade leather shoes, topped by two-toned hooped socks. He swaps between scrutinising the wallpaper ahead of him, looking down into the depths of his tea-cup and casual glances pitched in my direction. Each time he catches my eye, a broad smile forms across his face. Incapable of returning the courtesy, I draw my eyelids up and then let them slide back down in repose. This cycle replays uninterrupted for five minutes or so, until a mistimed declaration is delivered in my direction.

“You know coffee dulls the senses?” I swivel my head around and arch an eyebrow at the man. At the same moment, the young waitress wannabe-occupational health therapist, arrives to the table blocking my view of the man. Ever thoughtful and with a steady hand, Mia lowers the plate down before me. Straining to peer around the waitress, the obscured man leans forward in his chair, removing horn rimmed glasses from a red-veined bulbous nose. Mia’s innate magnetism draws my attention away – upwards directly, whereupon I offer my thanks and ask how she’s keeping, how her studies are progressing.

“I am good thank you Brinkinfield,” she says sounding upbeat, while arranging the condiments neatly in a row, “all good. The sun is out, people are happy. Today is a good day, enjoy your breakfast.”

I’d hoped for more conversation, yet find myself incapable of creative exchange to hold her attention. Mia is busy; she turns around, pausing to clear two tables on her way back to the cafe counter. I am left with the play-through of a frequent mirage in which we embrace each other unclothed, underneath a spectacular alpine waterfall. Fortunately for Mia, I am depicted in the looped scenario shed of several years, my beer belly transformed into a flatteringly contoured and symmetrically ripped abdomen.

“Clarke’s the name and myth-busting’s my game!” says tweed-man, turning my unholy vision to slime. Despite my severely dehydrated and low blood-sugar state, I recognise such an announcement as an invite for enquiry and a desire for conversation.

“Clark you say?” I say, collecting my fork and stabbing at a fried button-mushroom on the plate.

“No… Clarke, with an ‘e’.” His expression suggests the imminent rolling-out of a well-worn explanation.

“Oh, I thought I said that.” I reply, savouring the revitalising taste of protein and fat I’ve forked into my mouth.

“No no, you said ‘Clark’ without the ‘e’. It is not a silent vowel,” he tells me, from within an enveloping cloud of self-satisfaction, “you’ll find it is there for a purpose!” Observing the man take in a deep breath, I brace myself, adding salt and then pepper to my food.

“What, like Clarké?” I ask, turning the head of the pepper grinder back and forth, gently.

“Yes… well, not quite so much emphasis, but that’s near enough.” Clarke says.

I emit a vaguely affirmative, guttural sound in my throat and wave my fork in the air signalling additional positive reinforcement. Bringing the implement down, four shiny prongs puncture sausage skin, sliding through into the seasoned pork, releasing a savoury scent expertly designed to create salivation. Cutting a section free with the cutlery knife, I create a platform to stack some fried egg and beans.

Clarke sits slurping at his tea, watching me eat. When setting the cup back into the saucer, he offers little resistance to the force of gravity. The resulting china-on-china clank and spoon rattle, invokes a frown I am unable to suppress.

He appears disappointed with the dead-endness of our conversation, drumming both sets of fingers in an irregular rhythm onto the table-top. I avoid eye-contact and concentrate hard, willing him to stop. My psychokinesis energy fails, as ever. As I watch him struggle with this state of boredom, a twinge of sympathy surfaces for the old man. Swallowing a mouthful of food, I decide upon the next handful of actions. Taking a sip of water, dabbing nonchalantly at my lips with a paper napkin, I ready myself, straightening out my T-shirt.

“Myth-buster you say?” I ask, causing two grateful sparks of light to ignite and sparkle in Clarke’s eyes.

“Modern-day myth-buster!” he says, interlocking thick fingers together atop his midriff.

“A modern-day myth-buster?” I repeat, my chair creaks in ill-tempered protest as I lean back on two legs.

“Indeed!” Clarke confirms.

The cafe is becoming busy, people spreading themselves onto the lonesome tables first, followed by an apprehensive filling-in of gaps as options fade. I wonder if this might curtail the stranger’s talk.

Not so…

“Here’s one I will share with you, to demonstrate.” Clarke says, bringing a hand to his face as if to whisper me a secret. “Your nose and ears continue to grow in size, as you age.” Clarke’s eyes widen like a child’s, imploring desperate belief.

“Wait a minute, I’ve heard of this one before,” I say hesitantly, “so that’s true is it?” I continue with my breakfast, grateful to experience the gradual re-awakening of self, seeping through mind and body.

“My dear boy, your great-aunt Elspeth’s nose would be as long as an elephant’s trunk were this true!” Clarke draws away a cupped hand from his nose to form an elongated ‘S’ shape in the air.

“But in the Far East, people with over-sized ears are venerated and considered wise, how do you explain that?” I ask, lofting the question up high into the air.

“No no-no, the head shrinks with age, shrivels-up like a raisin, facial muscular atrophy and so on.” Clarke says, stopping my question with skilled abruptness. “The ‘shrunken head effect’ simply alters the apparent scale of protuberances – that’s all! While this remains a scientific fact,” Clarke says, bringing his fist down with emphatic force onto the table, “it is also plain for all to observe.”

Mia glides around the cafe with grace, dinner plates balanced in both hands. I try banishing Clarke’s unpleasant and implanted vision with several shakes of my head. The waitress happens to look my way, eyebrows raised, lips scrunched together in momentary uncertainty. Mia, you’ll never resemble an elephant nor shrunken head type thing to me, I want to cry out.

“Hell’s bells!” I say, voice volume louder than intended, “You’re not serious are you?” Amongst the diners, several necks twist around ninety degrees in my direction. Head down, I look busy and get on with finishing my plate.

“I am serious, serial debunking is what I do.” Clarke says, oblivious to the discomfort of the unwanted attention I am flustering with. After drawing a slow sip of tea from the cup held in his hand, pinkie extended, he looks around the interior of the cafe until his attention rests. He admires Mia leaning over a vacant table, spraying whitened liquid from a bottle in one hand and applying a vigorous wipe-over with the other. Both corners of his mouth twitch in appreciation of her fluidic body movement. I am gripped by the sudden urge to hover in the air above Clarke and grind salt into his offensive eyes.

“Are you absolutely certain of your facts?” I say, hoping to jolt his lecherous gaze away from the waitress.

“Unequivocally, I look you straight in the eye and tell you yes sir.”

“I don’t, believe you.” I tell Clarke, keeping the tension tight, playing him with skill, hopeful he doesn’t steer his line of vision back towards Mia.

With a sense of trepidation, I note the diligent waitress kneeling low to the floor, handling a table leg with a soft chamois. With her slow sweeps up and down the smooth wood, the shiny cleaning liquid becomes absorbed, releasing both colour and grain.

“Are you questioning my integrity?” Clarke says. We have eye contact, albeit via the slope of his condescending nose.

“Look,” I say, nervous impulsivity taking full control, “contrary to popular belief, the engagement of swords or muskets remains a legal method to defend one’s honour. On this basis Clarke, I challenge you, to a duel!”

“That’s not true!” Clarke shouts.

Without a glove to remove, I throw a handful of snow-white paper serviettes towards Clarke’s face. With three table’s distance to cover each one fails to hit the target, separating in mid-air and floating harmlessly to the floor.

His expression is frozen somewhere between disbelief and disdain. He is staring at me, a thin strand of tea-stained saliva drools out from one side of his mouth.

“W-ell,” he says, after a few minutes have ticked themselves off into oblivion, “that escalated rapidly!”

Max Ernst’s “Une Semaine de Bonté: Lundi, l’eau” (writing prompt)

Bernadette’s Dream

Max: Patrice, Patrice! Good God man, provide me with your assistance!

Patrice: Nothing else matters now Max… Nothing, else, matters

Max: Patrice! Help me drag poor Marcel to safety. It did not work, he is close to death! You said the waters held healing powers. It is bullshit Patrice, complete bullshit! If you don’t help me right now, I swear I will kick your ass and hold your head under the water until you yourself are healed!

Patrice: …I am in love with this woman, Max. Her name is Bernadette Soubirous.

Max: Patrice, you fool. We merely form a part of her dream life, when she awakes we shall fade away. By breakfast time, she will find herself unable to recall the dream. There will be no trace left that we ever existed.

Patrice: Max, I implore you, don’t say such things.

Max: You are right my foolish friend, you may well be in love, but nothing about this matters and she will never know.

Patrice: How is Marcel, our dearest friend?

Max: Marcel is dead Patrice. Why did you hold him under water for ten minutes as a cure for a hangover? It did not work!

Patrice: He lacked faith Max.

Max: He lacked oxygen Patrice! Why did you not let him up for air after his arms had stopped thrashing around?

Patrice: Because …

Max: Yes Patrice..? Because?

Patrice: Because … I truly believed at that very moment, by the Grace of our Holy Mother, Marcel had finally accepted God into his life.

Max: He’d died Patrice, you stupid damned fool!

Patrice: This is so…

Max: And for the record Patrice, Marcel lived a humble life, attended Communion during the week and every Sunday –

Patrice: Alright Max…-

Max: He gave much time to cleaning his church, created wonderful floral arrangements and cleared litter from the churchyard. I believe he held more God in his heart, Patrice, than you will ever know.

Patrice: Alright Max! Can we leave it now? As you say, this is all just part of Bernadette’s dream. Can we simply move on, if you please?

Max: I will let poor Marcel rest, slip his body back into the water… …Patrice what are you doing?

Patrice: Well Max, you know, don’t judge me…

Max: I completely reserve the right to…

Patrice: You say this is all but a dream, is that not true?

Max: Yes Patrice, I said this and it is so.

Patrice: And, ultimately, Bernadette will awaken?

Max: Patrice! What are you doing? Why do you lift the bed-clothes uncovering her modesty?

Patrice: Max, calm down.

Max: Are you about to do what I fear you are about to do?

Patrice: Bernadette can awaken at any time she chooses, these events form part of her own will. I commit no crime of conscience by following the desires of my heart.

Max: Alright Patrice, you have gone too far. You believe it’s okay to pull back the bedclothes? To untie the front of her nightdress and to fondle each one of her perfectly formed cantaloupes? This… is… an outrage and I demand you stop now!

Patrice: Maxie Maxie Maxie, what did I say? Calm your head down my dear friend. For-you-know, Bernadette she is a nun, working as a nurse at the infirmary, and this is her fantasy.

Max: Wait, what is in this bottle located on the bedside table? As I agitate the liquid and pass the vessel back and forth under my nose, I recognise a vague scent.

Patrice: Why… stop bothering yourself with matters of insignificance and come join me!

Max: Patrice! While I struggled to bring Marcel ashore, you laced her lemonade with morphine, dispensing the potion between her lips by use of this chromium-iron alloy straw, now left in the glass.

Patrice: Max! Listen to me. We have hours ahead of us to take our pleasure, to do whatever we so desire! Let us not waste this opportunity. She lays before us in an induced state of unconsciousness and we are two sexually repressed Frenchmen of our time.

Max: Stand to one side Patrice!

Patrice: Hey! There is no need to be so pushy.

Max: I demand you put that grotesquely gnarled bald-headed yoghurt slinger away this instant and pull your trousers up!

Patrice: Come on man, it is 1867, people are calling it the summer of love, we are living the dream!

Max: Out of my way Patrice, stand aside as I administer arousing slaps about her cheeks!

Patrice: Okay, if this is your thing Max., okay be my guest.

Max: No Patrice! Cheek slapping is not my thing! My motive is to awaken her and bring to an end this perverse game, once and for all. You do not deserve existence, this nightmare will soon come to a close!

Patrice: Max! Stop that! Bernadette stirs!

Max: No Patrice, you are sick and this must end, now!

Bernadette: Uhhh… Sister Marie?

fin