The factory

There is no way of getting into the factory. But things do get out: cats, curses, mannequins.

The factory is owned by a man called Mr Vogel. He is sometimes seen cycling to work, back hunched, beak-like nose stabbing the air.

Mr Vogel always leaves the house before dawn. The early bird catches the worm. Storm clouds gather at his back.

The dimensions of the factory are difficult to ascertain. However, it is almost certainly larger than a music box & smaller than a mountain.

At night, when the wind is in the right direction, you can hear coming from the factory howls, screams, laughter & the cawing of seagulls.

Mr Vogel watches over the factory from his baroque tree house.

The factory windows are barred. Gunmen sit in turrets on the corners of the perimeter fence. Smoke surges incessantly from the chimney.

Not everyone accepts the existence of the factory. Many are adamant that it is a trick of the light, its monstrous chimney a mirage.

Six poetic deaths

1. The poet dived for words only in the most dangerous waters. One morning, his body washed up on the beach of an undiscovered continent.

2. Her poems were a furnace, into which she threw his letters, his gifts and, finally, herself.

3. He incubated his words in a basement laboratory. One night, as he slept, they hatched. He was found dead the next morning, his throat cut.

4. The poet died an undignified death, choking on one of his own metaphors.

5. The poems resented the life they had been given. They hadn’t asked for it. Hunting down their maker was easy; she looked like them.

6. The poet kept words in hives, harvested their honey. He never wore protective clothing. We found him dead yesterday, swollen, beatific.

A review in tweets of an apocalypse in tweets

  
On the Twitter-blue cover: a robotic eye or camera lens or egg being fertilised by one of several eerily linear spermatozoa. #reliantreview

Is a tweet still a tweet when it’s printed on paper, a butterfly pinned? One certainty: the assured, witty, understated style.#reliantreview

The collected tweets sketch out a story in 3 parts: 1. Technobabble in our technobubble. 2. Our defeat. 3. Post-apocalypse. #reliantreview

The writing is often funny, sometimes disturbing. Speculative whimsy, shot through with NOW. #reliantreview

Each tweet is immaculately conventional in its spelling, punctuation & grammar. No 😳, no #hashtags. Pre-digital sensibility. #reliantreview

Many of the tweets are brilliant. Selfies and sexbots abound. A camera points at our digitally connected loneliness. #reliantreview

Post apocalypse, Mother Earth’s interests are served by the machines that destroyed us. Irony is a dominant mode. #reliantreview

The illustrations are wonderful. Diagrammatic, deadpan, surreal, flickering between abstraction and weird figuration. #reliantreview

Reliant is a book. This is important. The tweet is used but contained. The book warns us about the dangers of technology. #reliantreview

Messages aside, the book is not a homily. We are invited into a playground where the climbing frames are made of elastic. #reliantreview

Lots of blank space on each page. The publisher would be horrified at this, but blank spaces are conducive to poetry. #reliantreview

Reliant is a quick read, but the images linger. My favourite: “I paint abstracts with my thumb out of ashes.” #reliantreview

Once upon a tweet

Once upon a tweet there was a time but it was limited & the characters were few & cramped together & death beckoned impatiently as I typed.

Once upon a tweet there was a man who tried to build a house with words but made a world instead. Every door led to a new continent.

Once upon a tweet there was a story, curled tight in a box in a drawer in a room. A little girl opened the box and saw herself in embryo.

Once upon a tweet there was a maze of storylines in the palm of the reader’s hand. The author wandered, lost.

Once upon a tweet a character was born in the prison of a brain cell. The author allowed him occasional parole.

Once upon a tweet there was a man who fell and became a monster. On the other side of the mirror, a monster learned to become a man.

Once upon a tweet I wrote myself in miniature.

Once upon a tweet a blade of grass became an impossible tower.

Once upon a tweet an image roosted on the edge of a precipice.

Once upon a tweet the reader chatted with the author and the story went its own way.

Once upon a tweet the reader dug for meaning and fell into his grave.

Once upon a tweet a story spread like a virus.

—-

Originally published as a series of tweets. 

The Glitch Witch

The Glitch Witch watches life through a cracked lens. Her breasts are heavy with love gone sour. No one knows her real name.

The Glitch Witch runs in and out of headlights, all along the last highway.

The Glitch Witch’s teeth are as white as death.

The Glitch Witch falls from skyscrapers into daydreams. Life is torn. You’re bleeding under your nails.
The Glitch Witch knows all the numbers from loss to profit. She smirks behind the MD’s desk. She’s supremely unhappy.
The Glitch Witch peels words and sucks out their pulp.

The Glitch Witch breaks trains running under the microscope.

Don’t be fooled by all the verbs accumulated by the Glitch Witch; she’s static, floored.

The Glitch Witch drowns in your day-to-day.

The Glitch Witch ends where you begin. The train is late. The mourners share a joke. Cocktails and sarcasm.

The door won’t open. Your hand feels hot. I asked you a question and the Glitch Witch ran pearl claws along the wall.

Excuse me. It’s late. None for the road. A hand fumbling for the switch. Elsewhere, a car starting. The Glitch Witch fucks up your day.

The room is too warm. A little water clears us. The Glitch Witch is nowhere to be seen.

Please don’t ask. My legs ache. The Glitch Witch is lodged beneath my heart. Storm clouds over a placid lake.

The Glitch Witch cannot cross a threshold either way. She’s in the ever between.

The Glitch Witch haunts the borders of perception.

Summoning the Glitch Witch is achieved by fainting during a concert of music by Olga Neuwirth.

The Glitch Witch flicks the switch that tips the kitsch bitches into ditches.

The Glitch Witch is the little blackout you had yesterday when you were sitting in a deckchair, staring at the hissing sea.

The Glitch Witch hangs from your mouth when the words won’t come.

The Glitch Witch appears once in a month of drownings.

During orgasm, the Glitch Witch oscillates between the real world and Hell, faster than a hummingbird’s wings, so fast you barely notice.

The Glitch Witch wears laughter like a jagged mask.

The Glitch Witch is a steel mirage, a bomb swallowing its own explosion, sarcastic laughter, rain on your face.

They demolished the house and found the Glitch Witch making soup.

The Glitch Witch makes shadow puppets, counts the days. Outside, the children are running riot.

The air is gone. My legs ache. The Glitch Witch is whispering under a stone.

Your eyes are marbles. The rats have departed. Sirens, red clouds. The Glitch Witch doesn’t expect to be understood.

Count to five hundred. We all fall down. A knife is a knife is a knife. The Glitch Witch’s patience is inexhaustible.

A cat on a table. Whiff of cordite. The music drummed our heads. Chit chat didn’t help. The Glitch Witch sleeps only on your stairs.

The Glitch Witch’s mouth is a wasps’ nest. She has no need for words.

The Glitch Witch’s fingernails tear the horizon.

—–

Each of these fragments was originally a tweet. I’m currently using some of them as raw materials for a more developed piece. The next time you meet the Glitch Witch, you’ll hear her voice.