Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A Dictionary for Delinquents

Every day I  break for the same things
In different combinations
Rearranging reference
On this same shelf.
The files
For aspiration, family, health
Are inspired before I am
I look at my signature work
Beneath  pen grit, paper layer
Postage stamp.

Commodity has taken
Combinations of syllables
‘Computer’ – falls from my tongue
Like heavy equipment.

I am not  a social ‘life’ but a ‘presence’
I sit in my  sentence
Or bedside a promotion
The eyes
The glass lends its lenses.

I have made myself ‘open’
Like the physical file
Metal rings in the centre

Clasps which snap twice.

She was testing her tongue – in the least crude way possible. Well, all ways of ‘testing’ seem somehow shameful, like the tongue is a small animal only ever intended to lap at a certain level, peaceably domesticated. The process was happening, heavy in her hands as she took a lipstick like a pen and pulled the expected signature round her mouth. It added a certain emphasis then to words like ‘hello’ and no.’

The tongue endures its fair share of cruelty, she thought – brought to the edge of admissions, like a sport, then bitten back. All these, metaphors of course, and she knew that, creasing her lips over her teeth in an acceptable smile. She brushed her hair with a hiss of old bristles slowly breaking down something natural, using the television as a kind of mirror. 
It was 7.23 am, as the ‘News’ announced on the screen – emblazoning the digital time with thick white digits in a red bx. There was something almost angry about it, like teeth bared over a mass of mouth. Yet she tried not to think, but to watch the ‘news’. It is one of those word ‘news’ – now an idiom tossed like a vinaigrette for the public appetite; there is an assumption of a slight refinement to it. A TV show that not everyone watches. But everyone seems to have a conception of what ‘new’ is - original, something different. This screen wasn’t. Someone had been shot, a politician was involved in a sex scandal, and the weather was mixed. She sipped her tea which tasted more of the tanning of the tea bag than the leaves themselves. She had managed, after all, to convince herself that this was the form in which she liked ‘tea’ – like a kind of absence.
Though perhaps she was lying to herself. Would she lie to herself? Her eyes regarded themselves in the mirrored surface of the screen like one insect confronting another. ‘Lie’ was another one of those words; though there perhaps is something a little sleazy to it – it never seems positive. With the word ‘lie’, a kind of horizontal limitation comes to mind, of body plastered, side-down to a surface. Even to be accused of ‘lying’ with another, is deemed like a form of limitation. A ‘lie’ itself is; like an envelope spat from the slat of the post-box, it had no direction, does not fit with intention.
Yes, she lied, her eyes brought horizontal – closed, open, wide. She messed with her stare for a few seconds. The television she noticed, in its top corner, announced it was ‘Live’. Strange. She thought to ‘live’ was what people were supposed to do, not television stations. The number of occasions at which she had been told to ‘live a little’, like when she sat at her desk and stared into the distances that only a computer face can constitute. Living was meant to be the awful, in-your-face amalgamation of harsh physicality and a kind of exertion people assumed to be ‘feeling’. yet behind a screen, it was permitted to be pale and two-dimensional, paper – looking at ‘live’ from layer behind layer. It was an old television, so a screen with a vast empty space behind its bulky screen-frame. They have become ‘better’ though, televisions, thinning, slimming, to conceal the space behind.
People don’t seem to like knowing that there is space in places. After all, the words don’t quite fit for a start. Perhaps that is what ‘work; is for. That named occupation which swum up as the digits shifted on the screen . They managed that activity known as ‘reminding’. Perhaps that was what her smile was like, a little digital box, flickering for arrangement in the face like it did as a child, the same phrase ‘look mummy it works’ – only now, slightly tamed, typed. She remembered bringing down the magnifying glass on the ant in the sun and shrieking ‘Look Mummy, it works, it works, it works.” Testing her tongue over the remains.

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