Archive for December, 2013

Misty: A Monologue

Posted: December 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

Misty: A Monologue 

I pound against the inside of the windowpane in frustration as the torrent pounds against the exterior.  My amber eyes flit to and fro, searching for some cessation, but to no end.

A howl of swirling wind rattles the window.  The door slams.  In strides the patriarch of this pack of unruly animals, hereafter to be referred as to humans.  “Out!” he bursts out to me, pointing to the tempest beyond the door.  A rumbling rises in my throat.  His word lacks conviction.  Beyond the domineering bravado, he is just as glad to see me as I am to see him.

At his outburst, the youngest member of the pack appears.  She comes to me.  She is my human.  She dispenses some infantile, disposable nonsense as she strokes my head.  I half-smile and lash a lick upon her hand in return.  My human is far from perfect.  She is aware of the razor genius beyond the soft cuddly teddy bear, but has difficulty reconciling the two sometimes.  However, she is a fine companion to exchange scathing sneers at the folly of the human race with. 

The matriarch announces her arrival, making for the kettle.  My ears prick.  Tea.  That’s what the matriarch lives off- a muddy brown concoction fixed from leaves, hot water and milk.  Milk.  If she’s making tea, she has to put milk in it.  I’m salivating as the taste courses my mind.  Thud-ump!  I leap from my perch.  Wistfully, I gaze up at the fridge.  Milk! I cry.  Milk!  The fridge opens.  With a tut and a scold, the matriarch carries a weighty blue carton over to my bowl.  “You’d better drink all of this.”

I ignore her.  I’m not a dog.  I don’t obey the head of the pack.

A sweet suffusion pervades the air as a white stream flows gently into the plastic cavern.  I breathe in, and drink.  

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Empire Evolution- Prologue

Posted: December 28, 2013 in Uncategorized
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This is the prologue from my forthcoming novel Empire Evolution, which, all going to plan, will be out on Kindle in summer 2014!

 

Eyes open.  All I can see is black.  I am suspended, horizontally, above the ground.  Unearthly silence echoes back and as I listen, reverberates against the walls that incarcerate me.

Eyes closed.  The world spins around me; a thousand wisps of blue cloud swirl but I cannot see past them.  Snatches of movement pass me by, but I am suspended, vertically, caught in paralysis.  I can only watch helplessly from the sidelines as my life trickles through my fingers.  I am floating between how things really are, and how they ought to be.  Below me, faceless, nameless drones fill out forms, print cheques bearing my name and bind my life together with red tape.  I cannot move.  I cannot protest this degradation of all I am and all I can become.  It’s your age, you know, a voice hisses in my ear.  If you were a little younger you would be exempt from responsibility.  If you were a little older they would take you seriously.  They would not patronise and firewall you.  Before my eyes, a legion of millionaires file by, the outgoing generation, throwing fleeting glances behind them at the carnage they have created.  Waiting in the wings to replace them are the incoming flock of parrots, trained to mimic the tricks of their forbearers.  They are merely children, ignorant of the world that lies beyond their garden gates.  I, however, have matched and surpassed their experiences, and am no longer part of their realm.  I cannot go back, nor can I enter the next chamber of existence.  I am floating, belonging nowhere.  I am suspended, pending…what?  What can I do to prove my worth?  How can I find my niche in society? 

I smile grimly as I arrive at the answer.  My prison is not steel and concrete.  It is a prison of flesh and bone.  I can tear myself from the matrix, if I want.  It won’t be easy, but I can restore my factory settings and start again.  I must make the decision- do I want to exist, or do I want to live? 

I pull my arm from the web, and the other.  I know what must be done.  Survival is a dirty word to me now.  It’s time to roll the dice.  Time to take the plunge into the abyss.  I know what must be done.  And I’ve made up my mind to do it.

Barbed-Wire Cage by Natasha Helen Crudden

Barbed-Wire Cage

Posted: December 27, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Barbed-Wire Cage

Generation Lost

Posted: December 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

Technology, you ask?  Another machine to ease life’s burden to add to the stockheap?

Sign me up, or sign me in, I should amend.  Everywhere you turn, devices to ameliorate the experience of modern life leer out at us.  It’s been the blink of an eye since our family homes first logged onto the world-wide web.  Three wiggles of a lamb’s puffball later, however, we have email in our pockets, video messaging at the touch of a button and portable cinema systems.  This really is a golden era for humanity, but what’s the toll at the end of the information highway?  What perils are brewing below the surface?

The phrase “technological innovation”, is rarely flung around these days without a close pursuit by the words “Apple Computers”.  The stone began its downhill roll with the iPod- a collection of music files from CDs, all bundled up on a pocket-sized gadget.  It quickly gathered moss with the mobile phone/computer hybrid the iPhone, which was soon overtaken a ground-breaking touch screen buttonless laptop, named the iPad tablet.  Apple’s arch-rival, Microsoft Computers, retaliated with the BlackBerry handheld computer, whose design was quickly replicated by mobile phone giants Nokia and Samsung.  GPS satellite navigation systems dictate us upon the road most travelled, massive computer systems control our finances and complex security systems are available at the touch of an iPhone.  Madonna warbled to an audience of Fred and Wilma Flintstone that we were living in a material world.  Press the fast-forward button and evolution has hit.  We are now living in a colossal computer. 

                                    The digital age has not spared the lost art of social interaction.

We are the last few of a dwindling species, who yearn for the days when friendship was as simple as grabbing a beer and a banter.  Now, social interaction does not exist.  Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, we are a generation lost in cyberspace.  We tweet, poke and like; we follow strangers’ every moves- an off-by-heart, up-to-date biography of a nobody. 

There is no difference in the face staring at you through the mirror and the one that heads your Facebook page.  You check in, tag your friends, share your favourite bands and mount your entire life on display to the world.  Your past, your present, your achievements, your dreams amount to a webpage on the worldwide web. 

Unless, of course, you’re a celebrity.  Then you get Twitter.  This is the next level of social networking, according to its blustering fanatics.  Nobodies and everybodies connect directly with their followers- wide-eyed gullibilities hanging on every cyberword like a coven of leeches.  # went to the shop today. Bought a pack of Monster Munch#  2000 likes. 500 retweets.  This is not a new level of social networking.  This is a new level of idiocy, inexcusable in an age of information overload.  However, the epidemic spreads.  For why should we be intelligent, or curious, or anything at all?

There is very little we humans can do that we can’t program a computer to do for us. 

The simple pleasure of holding a book in our hands, rifling through its pages, inhaling its scent, admiring its binding and building a library is fading.  Books are being snatched from our hands and replaced by Kindles- soulless devices that can store ions of novels, right in your back pocket.  The comforting familiarity of your favourite tome, battered and emblazoned in pink highlighter, has been overthrown by a faceless and coldly hi-tech new way to read.

The warm crackle of spinning records and the soft whirr of CDs have been drowned out by libraries and libraries of MP3 sound bytes.

We are losing touch with physicality, corporeality, indeed with real life.  We are the last generation to feel the simple joy of leafing through the lyric booklet of a new CD, of feeling the silken cover of your favourite book, of riding bikes through fields and avenues without leaving a record somewhere online. 

We are the last of the lucky ones.  The last gifted generation.

                                                                        Of course, if the problems technology leaves in steaming piles upon the footpath ended there, we would be truly fortunate.

Technology is our slave.  We no longer need to calculate, navigate, dial the numbers on our phones, try on clothes, our leave our sitting room couches at all.  Hell, we don’t even need to think for ourselves anymore.  And so we are ignorant of the dangerous implications lurking in the wirework.

We as a nation experienced this first-hand all too recently.  Our entire country fell prey to the dark side of technology when one of the nation’s most prestigious banks announced system collapse on the back of an incompatible patch. 

The computer system had rejected this patch, and the bank’s whole framework came crashing down.  And naturally, Ireland melted into frenzy.

Paychecks were denied and balances whittled down to zero.  Cash reservoirs ran dry and the hole in Ireland’s pocket popped another few seams.  Pandemonium reigned.

The collateral damage leapt from account to account, from bank to business, from boss to employee.  And of course, no transaction records had been made using the prehistoric tools of pen and paper.  The glitch has been repaired, but the staggering backlog of panic soars. 

Technology is our servant and our overlord.

We entrust our lives to flash drives and microchips, but technology is temperamental.  Generators fail.  Systems melt down.  And when they do, everything we rely on comes falling down around us.  But how have we become so dependant on computers?  How has civilisation survived thousands of years in their absence?  The answer is human overindulgence.  Technology was designed as a tool to ease our problems, not as an alternative to real life.  Technology is amazing.  It has the power to change the world.  But moderation is the lesson du jour.

We need to take charge our lives again.  Power such as this was meant to be in the hands of a responsible society, not given to machines.  Order must be restored to those who created it.  In the immortal words of a very wise man, Zach de la Rocha, “We gotta take the power back.” 

The Carnival

Posted: December 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

Roll up, roll up!  Drive-in circus for one night only!

I grind my gears down to zero into my place, second in the queue, amidst the red and blue strobe lights enticing the world-weary traveller under the conjured canvas of the neon candy-striped tent. 

At the box office, we pass the main exhibition piece; an overgrown Scaletrix run off its tracks, crumpled nose-down in the briar and barbed wire crush. 

The crowd swells as the inquisitive masses of theatre fanatics are pulled toward the epicentre of the spectacle.  There was no question of flogging tickets online; you can’t buy this kind of publicity.

“Isn’t it shocking, Patsy?” remarks one bystander to her neighbour.  “A holy terror”, he concurred, “and with that big funeral on as well. Couldn’t be a worse night for it.”

                          We have arrived, at the precise place, at the precise time, and we are waiting.

The expectant audience face forward, and into the ring drifts a weighty canvas of fog, whose tendrils fall away to reveal our Master of Ceremonies, Death.  He strides here and there amongst the cars, allowing his presence to roll out amidst the spectators before resuming his place.  With flourish and command, he sweeps an arm toward the exhibitionism of the wreckage and challenges his audience with a riddle- “How?”  The riddle itself, however, is, for those of the gathering who really know, a trick- the real question is why. 

The top-billed act is wheeled into the centre ring slapped on a gleaming silver stretcher, zipped up in a blue bin liner, as a dead animal caught beneath the wheels of a roving truck.  We crane our necks to get a good stare at the spectacle- the act formerly known as “Alive”.  Our fascination with this exhibit, flung like a dead badger into a bin-truck, bubbles up to the surface the true nature of being human- our expendability. 

That could be any one of us, but for the dice-roll of our Master of Ceremonies, handpicked from the crowds thronging the arena.  Any one of us could be the star of this carnival of the grotesque, on our way to stratospheric fame.  Hushed, we wait with bated breath, but the lead has already been chosen- nameless and faceless to us forever, but for tonight, bathed in ruby and sapphire spotlights. 

With a squeak of wheels, a band of tangerine-clad acrobats whisk the second performer into the ring.  The Master of Ceremonies announces the act- a tightrope-walker balancing the precarious tipping-point of the Grand Parade between life and death.  We hang on our gasps, waiting for him to tremble, wobble, or topple.  One foot scales the twine, in front of which is set the other.  The line shakes.  We sweep forward as one.  Another step, followed by another and…he is over the line to the other side.  With a sweeping bow, he disappears from view, to raucous applause.  The Master of Ceremonies hisses.  He has been cheated most grievously, and is displeased.

Molten lava splatters the tarmacadam floor like an upended paper cup of TK, flooding the banks of the white line seperating the performers from their audience.  The amber-coated troupe raise vermillion-soiled hands, the remains running down their costumes.

The crowd draw on heavy breath as the squalling strains of the bone-chilling orchestra screech into being.  The dancers assume their positions.  Their rhythms draw me in, swirling bolts of neon caught between the frantic revolutions of the performers, flashes of metal dragging briars, beats rebounding through the ground beneath our feet.  

My thoughts are disconnected, whirling in the blinding frenzy of the revellers, as though under ether.  We are spectators no more.  The gate has been unlocked, and the performers have invited us in to share in their world- a reality existing only in the reveries of the genius- or the mad.  This world belongs to us now. 

The cabaret of the damned captivates, enthrals, appals and has caught me up.  There is no resisting it.  This is a temptation from which there is no escape.

The shades of night draw over the violet dusk, and all is transformed.  The wailing symphony begins to ebb into the echoes of the hillside.  The amber ensemble file obediently into their fluorescent metal tin- toy soldiers called away to serve in another epic battle.

Neon deluminates.  The tent folds up its canvas and disappears into the night, leaving the fairground conjured into a misty country backwater.  The circus dissolves and with it the illusion we once called truth.

The crowd holler and storm, applause flooding the gangway and seeping down the verge.  We are elated.  Our perception of the very fabric of the air we breathe has been irrevocably torn asunder.  My fellow theatre partisans go along their way, buzzing and chattering.  It’s been a show to show them all, alright.  Life and death and the matter of the universe have been paraded, jested, parodied and sent off stage.  And we award it our highest accolade- a standing ovation in place of a guard of honour.  Car doors slam.  I crack up my engine.  Still warm.

We depart, cramming in our heads the knowledge we have gained before we are caught red-handed and forced to return it.  Knowledge- which is what, precisely? We’ve been served our own heads on silver platters while our decapitated dandelion remains run amok in metal cages.  We are the show, and our night will come, and we will have our own audience.  But what are we going to do with that knowledge?  What use is it to ordinary people like us? 

 “Shockin’ way to go, Patsy.”  “Ah it is, Bridie, but sure, it got us out of the house all the same.”  

The Burning Man

 

Lost in the heather

In the longest hour of the bloody moon.

Wicker crackles cinders

Of what we once were;

Charred remains of blinded love.

 

In the tangerine waves we drown

And there is no sacrifice

No custom-made charade

That can save us now.

 

Twig by twig we have built him up

from our mistakes

Our fear gan ainm

A force of habit

And now we watch him burn.

 

Tonight we are heathens

Tomorrow misleaders

And more fool us

for believing.

Image

 

Marker

 

Behind bars of self-infliction

I force letters into words

that implode on impact.

 

In darkness I become an animal

Drifting in sub-oceanic paradise

You were king of the world

Now you’re king of the sea-

a miry skeleton.

 

I am anchored

My thoughts run aground

Off world’s end.

Port beckons through the mist

of a thousand lost dreams

Green marker guiding me home.

Gatecrashing

Posted: December 27, 2013 in Poems, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Gatecrashing

I am a scavenger

A ransacker

Foraging spent cigarettes

And burnt-out arguments

Abandoned by those

on the page’s blank margin.

How hungrily they bay for the blood

of another spilt sunset!

I remain the one-trick poet

Conjuring mirrors

And jilted full-stops.

My paper wings are drawn

To tangerine flames

Keeping teenagers warm

on nights they dream they’ve run away from home.

The cautionary tale

Of a life worth living

Is a long-lost warning

Meshed in barbed-wire.

I trespass on existence

Over the fence

An expanse

Ruled by

Perspective.  

 

Image

 

Frank

Posted: December 27, 2013 in Poems, Uncategorized

Frank

One in the same

Or destined to be more than you and I?

Words that echoed life

Were dead

before I met you

white

noise

until

I learned to speak

through you.

 

With patience

Came broken strings.

When I followed your melody

down to the bridge

My reward surpassed

chords alone.

And when the rain came rolling in

I could run

to you.

 

One or the other

Or both

Eight years down

With little variation.

We learned to be together

And now we must learn to be apart.