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Bruce Gilbert

The Haring

The Haring

Here he comes again, pain intact, headless, legless, skinned shins left in the city, splitting his seconds, weaving about on the bones, spinning like a bloody top.

They limped in walking. The golden city shifting in the centre of the world; loved and feared like a church drawn by dogs.

Sudden whirlwinds, closed solitary sequin quick grow in the dark and make marks on my thoughts. A freezing amber slurry draws from the tape. A human sound staining the air.

Spanish quills scratching the yellow stories like polished shoes, twin kicking. Yes to the old Zanzibar treatment. Perhaps in the words going like this. Settling yellow gas from the floor creeps into the very liquid of the evening. Leaning across to the tolls the walking money is counted out. Downstairs rituals clatter. The sound of winning falls through the air looking for a clearing.

He looked at the chair he was offered, as if he were looking at the space available inside a wardrobe at an auction.

Tornado Lake. Chapter one. There it was; joyous and sharp, like a religious sword. No time for these upright mummers and distant Japanese fish. This was Tornado Lake. How did they get there? How many children were made to perform optical illusions? How many shattered apses Perge had? Is that all? Seedy urges dressed up as Roaring Glory. Sprats dressed in sauce. And there they all were, just for the evening, skulking around their true desires. Where is the blood tonight? On the coast? Or nearer home?

As it is with these things, the hand of nature tightened its grip. A warning light flashed in a small town slaughterhouse. It seemed too late. In the blood-splattered cubicles, the morning aurispicy had already begun. Outside old men shuffled in doorways examining the contents of their pockets. In a quiet back street a paving stone suddenly split in two, an event witnessed only by a small black and white dog. The animal yelped and scuttled into an alley with its tail wrapped behind its shit-stained leg.

[Kidney Bingos] Natural splits sunburn jets, pride marks smart bets. Strikers luck pitch backs, heap tips pit slacks. Dressed pints demon shrinks, bread drunk dead drinks. Stretch clubs models box, draw skin black blocks. Mallet knives boil painters, pop hearts brush fainters. Money spines organ fun, kidney bingos paper lung.

The box is damaged because it's been on our shelf. Raise your hands who would like it. You would, you would, you would, you you, you all would, right? Well let me tell you something and I'm going to make a promise now, ladies and gentlemen, and I'm not a man to ever go back on my promises. I've been in this business too long. We've been in this shop five years. If I make a promise to somebody, that promise is always kept. And let me tell you this now. The person who takes this out of my shop in the final sale, if they don't shake me by the hands and say "thank you very much", I will snatch it back so quick he won't know what day of the week it is. Only because the box has been on display, the box is not damaged, the goods inside are perfect. It's a Sony video 8mm handycam. The recommended retail price? They retail at around £399. So what I'm going to do as an advertiser, ladies and gentlemen, and this is how I do my sales, not as an inducement for you to buy anything, ladies and gentlemen, we do this because I don't spend thousands of pounds advertising in the press. I don't have television adverts. The reason I don't do this, I'm not in the worst end of East End, I'm in the best end of West End. I'm in Oxford Street amongst all the top quality name people, yes or no. The best people are in Oxford Street. We are here, we give you top value. When I say I'm going to give you a bargain, this is what I am about to do. One customer today in my last sale, there is only one left, is going to take that in the sale. At not 400, not 300, not 200, and not even £100. And if I stopped at £100, I'm sure two or three customers will perhaps stand up. I'm not going to charge you 90 or 80, 70 or 60. I won't even charge you even 50 or 40. I'm gonna put that in the final sale today and one lucky customer is going to walk out of my shop and it won't be for the price of 35 or £30. Watch what I do for that customer, ladies and gentlemen. And that customer will shake my hand. That is going out in my final sale today. And someone is going to walk away with it here. I'm just going to get onto one or two other items and then we'll start with the last sale of the day. 'Cos ladies and gentlemen you can see the safari is coming through. [Sound of Hare Krishna group passing.] OK we will start the bidding. Ladies and gentlemen we are the biggest buyers in London. Ours is bankrupt stock, ex-mail order stock and ex-catalogue stock. So I guarantee to you, ladies and gentlemen, everything you buy in my shop today you will walk out with an absolute bargain.

£14. You're joking. £14! £5 you silly bugger. It's only the Old Kent Road. It's only across there. do look out for those pools of standing water...

Shackled by knowledge. Draft great grape grate gate fate raft fang tang grant ramp rang rage tear tear neat near gear after agent urn earned argent tarn fear anger rent turn fair firm.

That's another three miles down the road. Road furniture. Fairly interesting evening at the Electronic Lounge. A few drinks.

Chapter one: The cloaks swung lazily in the driver's window. Green and grey flashed by with occasional periods of momentary deafness. Birds sang, machinery hummed, and rats fiddled in the bushes. The loud man eased himself down into the seat, overaware of the soreness of his legs. No mention of these items later in the day.

At the close of business last night your account was £164 overdrawn, of which there is no agreed limit. No credit has been received since the 16th of October. Please pay in a minimum of £164 in the next 7 days.

[Text from Deconstruct] Gilded spires are the haunt of the crocodile, whose log-like stillness awakens to sudden and vigorous life when the finely carved doors are opened. From green valleys and hills rise mysterious puffs of steam. The country gapes within sight of glacier ice and thirsty crops (watered by scientific appliances).

[Text from Deconstruct] Two chilly old ladies of Oriental [Chinese] extraction sit side by side warming their hands on brass boxes which contain the embers of glowing charcoal:

[Text from Deconstruct] Did you know a bee has five hearts?
Five hearts? There's room for one.
What is the matter with you today?
The matter? (Today?) Sixty (bloody) years(, more like)... sixty [bloody] years of waking up and going to sleep [sleeping] and dieing [living] in between.
You should be more like the rest of us... content with your lot.
More like you? Pah!... You react [respond] to an insult like a dog to a stroke, you long to be shamed [humiliated] on the High Alter [in Westminster Abbey] and executed in public... I shit on your lot.
What about the Footprint of Adam?
A hole in the ground, a grave, a rubbish pit, a toilet for priests.
I never know when you are joking.
Would you marry a crab?

[Text from Deconstruct] In the future, in a public park, the young Chinese [a] boy [in stained white clothes] listens [dances weakly] to the thin squeaking of a [tiny] transistor radio [lying on the grass between his bare feet].

The river had a warm smell the day the old man asked the question: "Where are the boats for hire son?" The boy's dog growled and bared its teeth, and the boy remembered his mother's words, "Don't talk to strangers", and "There's polio in that river." The river was shallow and clogged with weeds. The boy had never seen any boats on it at all. The river wasn't that kind of river. "Where are the boats for hire son?"
View of Latimers' Boathouse, 1907, taken by A. E. Patterson of Water Lane. Presented to the public library by Mrs. A. E. Patterson, 1935. "Err, excuse me, do you know anything about the momument under the viaduct by the river?", asked the young man with long hair. "Monument? New one on me. You've looked through our photographic records I presume? Nothing there? Try the town hall."
The boy closed his eyes and worked his fingers gently over the pitted surface of the white stone monument. There were rows of small holes. It was like a secret language. The monument could not be seen from the path that went under the viaduct. Amongst the elderberry trees and marshy depressions of the riverbank the monument looked as if it had been thrown away.
Along the top of the narrow viaduct a horse rider's racing a train. He guides his horse between the rails of the other track. From around the curve ahead another train appears. There is no room to let the train pass. The train that the rider is racing is slowing down. On the other side of the low wall there's nothing but a pleasant view of a park with the roofs of the town beyond. Without stopping the rider's mind, heart, hands and feet ask the horse to jump the low wall.
On a glorious summer day a rider on a white horse was seen leaping to their deaths from the top of the viaduct. The rider did not let go of the reigns until the undertakers and the police waded into the river and removed the bodies.

Hunting The Wren, St. Steven's Day. A wren is caught and killed. A heated stick is inserted into its anus. Wrenboys then summon householders to their doorsteps and deliver mime and song for gifts of food and drink.

Chapter One. I didn't hear the crash because I was in it and I couldn't tell the difference. I couldn't pick it out from everything else that was going on. Everything was crashing slowly. You didn't have to hear it in the end. You could see it, smell it, sense it. Every time you walked into a room of any kind someone, something was crashing. Someone, something, was being crushed, smashed, burnt, killed, pulled about, trashed. That's how you made out, didn't you?

Now we fly the flag of obedience. Let us study the geography of a well-behaved atom and savour the salty taste of exaggeration. Non-toxic, untainted, a feast of rotating symbols.

Fractures squeak on the summit. Spring withers and summer smothers. My portrait cast its skin mile after yellow mile. On the walls thin traces, oily cells preserved and exhibited down the stairs. A medicine finish, a craftsman's touch.

He slipped into consciousness like a burglar. Was there anything here worth having?

Are you recording?


Every Friday night when my mother got her pay she used to say to me, "Go and get a pennyworth of chips and a pennyworth of beans from the chippy at the top of the road." I'd say, "Yes Mum, alright."
Well this particular Friday night, it was very dark and there was a lamp-post half way up the street and as I walked towards the lamp post to the chippy there seemed to be a big dog walking... this is the truth this is... walking towards me. A big black dog. I stepped off the pavement to go round but when this big dog got as far as the light it wasn't a dog at all. It was a man. But it was a dog to me as it walked towards me, but when he got under this lamp, a gas lamp, it was a man. And I ran up that road and went into the chippy. I was sick with fright.

I daren't walk down that street again back home so I went all the way round Seaforth Road, back into Arthur Street, and to this day that was a dog that walked towards me, and it turned into a man!

As regards to something pitiful was a little boy run over by a train. Him and another lad were playing "Dare Me." They had to go and pick a tin box stuck in the middle of a live wire and when he went and did it he touched the rails. We all ran over there and he was on the line and you could see smoke coming from him and Mr. Roy, he had a wooden rake to get hold of him. But at the same time a couple more men ran down the line to stop the train. But the train couldn't stop in time, and ran over him. He was dead, but it ran over him. It was terrible. That was just over the back of where I lived.

Cover artwork