It is a hostile & balmy atmosphere — everywhere injustice reigns. There is violence on every street-corner, in every home, in every heart & mind. People split into packs like wild dogs & lions, armed with knives, guns, clubs. Cults recruit vast armies who are searching for the right belief — the salvation — but all the while, famine, disease, & confusion reign the streets, roaming & slaying like huge black worms of energy, effusing the city in rising tides of blood.
Today has become a sick & diseased perversion of a body that once burned with life instead of death. Scenes from all parts of the world flood the TV screens with death & carnage, sickness, cruelty; sinful flesh eating orgies of hate & greed . . . & so we were warned with our eyes, many years ago. The city begins to crumble & suck us into its vortex in a divine lesson of justice & revenge.
We have joined hands with death & sin, never now to let go, while beyond the burning rubble & decay, the black clouds part for an instant & a blinding light emanates in throbbing rings of energy. A beautiful woman cloaked in sun smiles softly & wipes a crystal tear from her fair cheek, turning back into the shimmering phosphorescence. There is an impression of great purity, yet great evil beyond comprehension. Emancipation somehow seems so far from this place & time, yet I have seen a tree on a mountaintop that is so large & green, that I can think or see of nothing else.
I stand at a filthy shop window, looking through the smeared & murky glass, I see a frame & in that frame I see life trapped, in a dirty glass soul-box. I see liberty coveting oppression, hate, greed, violence, control. I see the whole of humankind linking arms in abandonment & themselves. I see them with bared teeth, lips curled back, eyes burning blood red, face-to-face killing, raping, hating, each other. They cannot talk, nor hear, nor see their own reflections.
Behind me a flash of light & above the noise of the hungry city streets I hear the low belly thunder pushing out the clouds. The rain starts pelting the cars & newspaper shields of citizens, swearing, cursing, heads down — some fall in the slippery litter-blocked gutters, cracking their heads on the pavement as they exclaim ”Jesus!”
I watch them fall, like burst balloons they crumple & spread their blood across the dirty asphalt. I look into one man’s eyes as he rolls over, his black hair stuck wetly to his chalk forehead, dark blood spread like chocolate across his face, his white teeth glistening, chattering. His eyes fill with rain like pools of crimson tears, glazed like cherries, he jerks & slumps, staring up at the churning sky.
I begin to walk, the air being sucked from my chest, all around I see trees sprouting from drains, from cracks in the footpath, from balcony windowsills — plants, moss, ivy, vines, leaves, grass — burst across the street in front of me, scurrying up grey concrete & red brick walls . . . as the people continue to drop, scratching at bleeding throats, & weeping blisters, broken bones peeking through skin, black-rimmed eyes with no pupils, falling, falling, fallen, like mange-ridden dogs on all fours yelping, barking in pain & contortion. The green blanket of vegetation covers everything for an instant like a shroud, enveloping their writhing forms, constricting, devouring, renewing, living. Oily silver minnows begin to rain from the sky, bouncing off the street like taut pieces of thin chrome — the green vines twist through & under their pelting brilliance — as if hungry for some feast of fish — the clattering of flopping fish & the rustle of procreation is almost deafening — I close my eyes, hands over ears . . .
I keep walking, vaguely bemused; is this a dream? Am I alive? Naked couples copulate in doorway shadows, screaming, snorting, convulsing, singing strange songs of joyful celebration in their unhappy bonds of coitus, tearing flesh as they break their desperate bones against each other. I turn away in time to see a nude man, pale, skinny, dishevelled, climb the steel back of a neon sign buzzing in the rain. He stands on top of the sign; it advertises some product in the shape of a cross. He climbs down on to its face & drops onto the small platform in front of it. It has white lights that pop & switch on & off around its ϯ shape. He unscrews the bulbs, throwing each one in an arc over his left shoulder, bouncing them off the side of the office building & smashing down on the slick street.
A small crowd has gathered below, staring expressionlessly, blankly, up at the naked man. Black, white, brown, blue, pink, mustard, coloured faces melt together as they begin a slow clapping chant: --- Mary! Mary! quite contrary, how does your garden grow? Mary! Mary! quite contrary . . . The pitiful man has now turned to look down on the crowd; his ribs cast shadows in the sickly light of the remaining neon bulbs. He looks to the sky, silhouette framed in light & the sign’s red background. Looks at the crowd blankly, his toothless, sunken skinny face, smiles. Thumbs up, arms out stretched, he starts singing along with the crowd’s new hymn — Mary! Mary! quite contrary, how does your garden grow? Mary! Mary! quite contrary . . . then he thrusts his bony thumbs into the crackling black sockets of the neon sign . . .
Fire incinerates his jumping form, like a thin tree he crackled, sending sparkling showers of sparks & ash up & out across the crowd, twisting & turning, then burning out in the whirling wind & rain. I looked at their blank faces; they were covered in a sooty mask of what looked like mud or clay. They continued to clap, now humming, quietly.
I climbed down from my vantage point & walked to the next block, stepping across bodies, clambering across car bonnets, over steaming man-hole covers. The sky was growing dark; all the lights dully gleamed like pearls of oil, a long straight street with black doorways spilling filth into the light of city night. Nude women, naked men, fondling, groping, leering, prancing, grinding each other against graffiti covered walls of peeling newsprint & brick, amidst twitching piles of trash & broken glass, dead rats & cats, stumbling blind dogs with three legs urinating everywhere, a man dressed in a silver suit made from broken mirrors, smiles at me his face is greasy with perspiration his mirror hat tilted toward my face so my eyes are sitting above his — “A girl, a guy, a thing, a thang, an it, a bitch, a child, a frog, a toy, a gun, a hook . . .” — he paused for a second, looking this way & that, his eyeballs swivelling madly in his dripping skull, reaching behind the face on his lapel & pulling out — “ a cross?” he asked. I turned on my heel & walked deliberately, slowly, languidly, down the hall of ancient mirrors on death’s dark boulevard — plucking a green bottle, from the grimy hands of a broken-down bum propped up against a rotting mule – drinking deep of that refreshing draught that was poison.
I looked at the passing forms & they too were lost in consumption, swigging from dark bottles of jolly-roger juice, smiling at the city with lust in their eyes & happiness in their wayward hearts. The night took over, I smashed my bottle against the gutter, its foul liquid evaporating in a steaming pool of nothing, all lights went out & I found myself on the other side of morning. On the side of the highway, the red sun bleeding through the cobalt dawn, the brown aura of loss concealed the dying breed of flesh-eaters & saints.
Cars droned past while I sat & looked back on whence I had come. Faces pressed against the glass of their windows, naked, staring straight ahead — gunning their engines across the swaying steel bridge that leaves this place. Grasping clubs, machetes, rocks — smeared with blood, war paint — their exodus determined by the liquid fuel of self-determination. Dragging broken, scraped, grated, bodies on lengths of steel rope & chains behind their wagons. The dismembered bodies of castrated males wearing rosary beads — some strangled with them — leaving a bloody trail like engine oil behind their sputtering, speeding, steeds.
The people were revolting against polarities of power that kept the barking dogs of apocalypse at bay in fear. A great evil had burnt itself into the minds of those with the means to end it all. Empires crumbled under the weight of a new morality of survival & insanity. Dichotomous choice became ingrained in the perception of the masses: things were black or white, give or take, live or die, hell or heaven. A juxtaposition of sanity, a great meddling of the senses bred tiny monsters that gnawed at the soul & the very essence of humanity’s last ounce of self-control. A moral was a badge you wore, a uniform of dissent, a rifle or pipe bomb in your clenched fist — a thumping in the chest.