A young man in a dress, clumsily applied lipstick. A tourniquet about his arm. A needle.
He injects. Takes off the tourniquet. He takes out the needle and holds it before his eyes.
The blood’s poison.
The poison blood.
Pause. Grins. Cocks the syringe.
Your money — or your life!
His head droops. He drops the syringe. He forgets himself. Remembers.
Once I loved so many things. Hollywood movies. Old posters. Girl bands. Manga cartoons. Love songs. TV soaps. Internet porn. Ballroom dancing. Tacky magazines about movie stars. Cheap wedding photos. Glam rock. Strip shows. Neon signs in darkalleys.
Those days are long gone.
And now —
White eyes after how many sleepless nights? Black visions. My hands on fire. The rotting corpse of a child. A ship sailing through clouds. A mansion at the bottom of a puddle. Voices jeering my impotence. No — the real hunger is —
And this my badge of manhood! This — beautiful — dress —
Call me — Ophelia!
The real hunger is —
His head drops
Not one would sleep
Not one wanted to be a river
Not one loved the great leaves
Not one, the blue tongue of the beach
I was born into the chastened suburbs, a product of beige wall to wall and yellow bricks, my childhood was spent peeping between the slats of white venetian blinds, in those blinding summers I would jump through the sprinkler on the front lawn, ah the sizzle of water on hot flesh, the splaying of brown limbs, the white laughter
and in my lonely room out the back I dreamed so many things under my posters with the tv flickering at the end of the bed I dreamed so many
phantom soldiers fled across the stained walls of my boyhood desperate last stands and courage mentioned in despatches I machinegunned countless enemies down from the cornices I slept in a sea of white feathers and woke to crystal dawns and the day was scrubbed clean as a whistle and my bed was always neat and straight when I returned no trace at all of my subterranean erotic life
the product of bronze genealogies the stock which strode tall over the top flinging their heedless bodies towards the deadly hail
but in me the seed was decadent something went wrong how my mother cried what would your father say she said if he was still alive
o how they cried
Looking looking looking looking
Always looking like a dumb bride a dummy bride a dumb looking for the right cock the right mouth the right prince to ride me away over the sunset to the last sacrificial altar
My abjection knew no bounds my pride was beyond measure
Farewell childhood! I said and lay down among thieves and dealers and conmen with lice in my hair and in my heart farewell glorious illusion! I come to the real world a trembling virgin my veil is black leather my heart is purer than any diamond come fuck me I said all will be well bring me your scabs your diseases your sorrows the undying regard of your injustices bring your icy hearts and break them on my soft yielding flesh my patience is crueller than yours
Flies sniffing dogshit glistened no more bright than me
Feathers peroxide vomit amphetamines I stuffed the whole world up my arse and farted it out in shitty dribbles of come
I almost died there
Has anyone been as bored as I am? Cultivating a monstrous cynicism which is only the bridal dress
for the usual pathetic longings the usual truncated knowings and now the men of science bend our genes o miracle! to be as god at last! but only for the usual destructions
Sad to be so predictable
my poor prince poor spent cock I spit out of my humiliated mouth
My sweet Ophelia! What lies you tell yourself! How huge you loom in your own dreams! And the brown day squints through the drawn blinds and splinters your bloodshot eyes and draws up the accounts
There’s no profit in romance, that’s for sure
What angel is hidden in your cheek?
What perfect voice will speak the truths of wheat?
Who, that terrible dream of your stained wildflowers?
Sweet Lorca. Shot up the arse by fascists. Like all poets.
An age without dispensation, clutching our tawdry gods. Cemeteries full of videos of the dead saying bye bye. The tv news our dumb chorus. Murder? Atrocity? Nightmare? Lives wallpapered with the banality of massacre. The prozac of compassion.
White seductions! Eyes as blind as computer screens! Skin as sleek and nerveless as condoms! If at last we reach the pharmaceutical kingdom, we shall be happy!
I wanted a free freedom, I wanted to map the atrocious chambers of myself, I wanted all knowings and all terrors, all ecstasies, all disasters, all crimes. I wanted the world flayed open to my penetrating intelligence, I wanted to bury my face in its warm stinking intestines, I filled myself with horror. I was so conventional! My nihilism couldn’t compete with a single junior corporate executive. Free enterprise! Patron saint, the Marquis de Sade.
All that’s left is the celebrity of the voyeur.
I wanted none of that.
I was looking for my prince. My heart was pure as diamond. My eyes cold as cocaine. I’m the host of my own show!
Watch me, you bored proletarians. I dazzle your puzzlement! Floating down the polluted river in the fine glamour of suicide! My hair a golden coronal. My white hands. Watch me from the banks and contemplate your murderous hypocrisy and the mania of your indifference. Yes, it is I, Ophelia!
Who was it who said, The real question about Hamlet is: is Hamlet mad, or is it the critics? — No, it was Wilde. Another poet with a bullet up his arse. He said: “The dreadful thing about modernity is that it puts tragedy into the raiment of comedy”.
It’s always been true of actual life. Only art could invent tragedy. I Tiresias have foresuffered all.
In anguish we are all clowns. Grotesque, pathetic, mean. Meaningless.
How terribly terribly — intelligent.
You could cut glass with it.
He picks up a handmirror and contemplates himself. Readjusts his lipstick.
I was talking to Ruth the other day. You know, Ruth. Yes, still sobbing into her martinis, poor flower, her mascara bubbling down her face, he left me Arthur he left me. I warned you I said he’s a slut Ruth you couldn’t ever trust him go on have another martini. I know she wails but I love him I love him and I can’t bear the cruelty him flaunting her in my face I know he was you know while we were it’s hell just hell — he’s just a cunt I said and there’s nothing you can do about it doll — they’re all cunts she said and laughed I shouldn’t say that. But they are. All I want she said is someone who loves me. He loved you doll I said but he’s a cunt love doesn’t solve anything.
Et cetera et cetera et cetera.
The energising whiff of brimstone. How delightful! At least here we can contemplate our own faces. The infernal boredom!
Hell is going around in the same circles for ever and ever and ever. The inmost circle is ice. Numb ice. White sleep.
My cruel prince.
There’s no denying the anguish, of course. That despicable lust, so like murder. Be my pig, he said. Get down there and grunt. Be my dog, be my weasel, be my rat. I’ll crawl into your arsehole like a spider and cover you with beautiful pink sores. How he cowered before the enormity of my love! I frightened him to death.
But there, maybe, something true. Beneath the obscene comedy of pain, the possibility of oneself. Yes? One soul and one body. This harsh singularity. Meaning either — death. Or a position in the arms industry. What they used to call the petro-chemical-military-industrialcomplex. In the corridors of the IMF no one can hear you scream. Money is white and silent. Singular and ubiquitous.
Do you follow me?
Death or money. But there’s something missing in that equation. Something doesn’t add up. Do you follow?
Money or death.
He picks up the syringe
I bear the stigmata of my martyrdom. But is it me? That’s the question. And if it’s not, who am I? Am I someone else?
Life is just a misery.
Presenting my accounts. But something embezzles me, I exist only in my absence. I mistook my past for my future. It’s easily enough done. Everything perishes before my sour laughter. No dawns of the real. No magnificent illusions. No glorious deaths, no mentions in despatches, no triumphant marches through through ardent cities. No, only this endless present.
Life is just a misery, a misery.
He sits silent, with bowed head, dangling the syringe in his hands. It drops to the floor.