Summer of Love

I was about 21 when a group of my male friends started playing a game they called Summer of Love. I’d been in one intimate relationship and had sex a total of twice in my life.

 

The game was as follows: you get points for having sex with a member of the opposite sex over the summer, extra points for blowjobs, threesomes and different partners. It was negative 100 points for starting a relationship in that time.

 

I remember finding the whole thing repulsive. It reduced women to points to be scored, encouraged and perpetuated predatory behaviour. I came in at dead last with -100 points when I stopped counting.

 

I did the wrong thing.

 

I didn’t call out anyone involved, didn’t challenge this awful behaviour. I refused to take part, but sitting back and watching is still being complicit. I was a coward.

 

I don’t like the word hate. I believe hate only festers, only gets in the way of progress and understanding.

 

Regardless

 

I hate my world’s culture of toxic masculinity.

 

I hate that the actions of males have turned people I respect angry and bitter.

 

I hate that my wife has to dress a specific way to feel comfortable just walking down the fucking street.

 

I hate that writers I know who are way more talented, thoughtful and dedicated than me don’t enjoy the same freedom to create without abuse or criticism, solely for the reason that they are women.

 

I hate that people I love, my mother, my sister, my wife and every single woman I know have been degraded, assaulted and intimidated by the disgusting behaviour of men.

 

Most of all I hate that my cowardice has been a part of that.

 

Women have always been braver than men. They’ve had to be. Men can hide behind a system they’ve created, a world where the supposed natural order of things makes it a living nightmare for half the population.

 

Men need to be brave. It is not our nature to act like this. Human nature is to rise above ourselves, to tear down evil constructs and replace them with what is right and good.

 

We can be better. It is not an impossible task to make this world a safe and equal place for the women in our lives. It is not too hard to change a thought, and once we lose the part of ourselves that raises us by dragging women down we will be ten times better for it.

The Thick of It

If ya’ll been watching the internet lately you’ll know that it has turned into entirely piece of shit politics. Trump is doin like at least 4 different awfuls per day, people are writing yells at gay people for no damn reason and then someone’s gotta go and dress as an opposite ghost in parliament just to distract from the fact that their party is a swirling toilet bowl and also racism.

We are not standing on the brink of a war, we are in the middle of it. This war could never be fought with guns and bombs, we all have to use words. Guns only kill people, burning things down will only make this last longer.

Use. Your. Words. Don’t throw them around. A single sentence can kill and a thousand swear words can go unnoticed.

The one advantage we can have over the Trumps and Hansons and all the other mad idiots in dangerous positions is

thinking

before we speak.

 

Speech

 

Do not take this lightly

 

Kids were mowed down by machine guns in thousands for your freedom of speech

 

Kids drowned crawling in mud to stop blameless people rotting in prison camps

 

Kids were forced to watch cities melt in fire to stop industry overtaking reason

 

Kids slit other kids throats, drove over them with tanks, strangled and bit for gay people, for black people, for jews and muslims to have a place next to ours

 

Kids were forced to kill millions for you to speak today

 

So speak wisely

 

Because these kids did not kill for a country

 

They didn’t kill for a flag, or a culture, or for the names of their ancestors

 

They killed and died in droves for a world not to be ruled by fear or hate or evil men

 

To use our freedom to fuel the fires of hate is repugnant

 

To pull away our hands in reckless, selfish fear is to lose a long fought war

 

Be the people kids were slaughtered for

Up the Date

Well hi my big babies I know I ain’t been at it on this here website in a bit but that is because I got some Projects goin and I thought I’d get back onto skyblagadang and talk about them cos I miss youuuuuu here’s:

 

THE NUSE

 

Distant Lights

Well I know it’s got a different name now but the novella that I put on this very shithole of a blog is currently being turned into a book through my dawgs at Tiny Owl Workshop. I dang took it offa here because now you gotta pay someone else to read it but that is the way of things.

Elevator pitch: Memoir about mental illness and my adventures as a real damn wizard tryin to fight all my problems with fireballs and such. My Grandparents read it and said it was weird but one of my best friends read it and cried like a baby so I guess I hope your reaction is somewhere around the middle(?)

 

Brambles

I been working on a very complicated project with a group of the coolest people that I could find and they are all smarter than me one of them is my WIFE. The explanation is a real mouthful but basically I get three artists to play a game of my own homebrew dungeons and dragons (Dnd if you are hip and/or fly) system run by certified genius Harry Vening and I sit and frantically write by hand everything that happens and turn it into a book illustrated by the actual characters in the story! My brain aint ever gonna stop hurting!

We are randomly generating the plot using actual magic and some real cool crazy shit is happening. It is pretty much the funnest and coolest project I could hope to work on and whats more is I done made this job up myself.

 

Mawwaige

Hey also I done got married what’s good. Now I know all you ladies are glad to see me out of the dating pool where I was just muddying up the waters and swimming around making shark noises and grabbing peoples ankles but this also means a lot of big deals to me too.

Deal 1: I am no longer a Sad Guy who smokes cancer sticks

Deal 2: I actually do stuff like cook meals other than mayonnaise sandwiches and wash dishes more than just blowin on them real hard

Deal 3: I swear I had more of these

wait Deal 4: I straight up got the best lady fkers suck it woooo

So now I am all respectable and shit and I got a ring that I paid exactly zero dollarydoos for and I work like all the time and things are going gr8. If you been reading my stuff (Y?) you’ll know I been stacked up with crazy and rough goings for a while and I guess what I wanna say is

shit gets better.

I don’t know there’s been a lot of times when I needed to hear that so I’m sayin it now.

One day

All the fucked up shit you’ve seen

Will become hilarious

And all the sadness you feel

Will make your joy sweeter

All the time you spend lost

Is setting up for the day

You are found.

Flogging Molly

POETIC PROCESS:

 

A couple of months ago I told my future wife that I would write her a love poem and then I sat in an abandoned quarry in the sun and wrote most of this thing and read it to her and then apologised because it wasn’t what either of us were expecting.

 

I was passengering with her on a drive through the mountains and we were listening to pirate punk and I got that special kind of sad that you get when you know things are at their best and I thought about this poem then I fixed it.

 

Doing poetry is like doing maths that beats you up.

 

The Pit

 

Sometimes love is a pit

Or rather

Love is everywhere else

And you are in the pit

 

You don’t understand

Why you won’t climb out

Because how can you be in love

And be so sad

 

You don’t understand

When despair drags you deeper and you let it

Because no one can see you

Down in the pit

 

You don’t understand

Because you were the one that climbed in

All you wanted was shelter

And now all you can go is down

 

And then I remember

 

That if you were gone

I couldn’t go a step further

 

And I would scream at the universe

To keep you forever

 

That I feel sorrow

Because I need you more than ever

 

And nothing could ever be

Without your love

Mountains

It is hard to believe we are winning. The Nazis popped up like everywhere but Germany this time. Our solution to global warming is burn everything faster. The people in charge are very stupid. Modern music is mainly about dicks now.

 

Life manages to convince you that you are not an important part of the story and then bang it slaps you in the middle of space world war 3 and woop its up to a bunch of young fuck ups to make it better.

 

Life has a purpose, but it is different for each person and you might never figure out what it is even if you do it. It’s best not to think about it and just do shit.

 

You cannot escape life. You can sit around dodging bullets for years on end and then you are suddenly a lot older and life is a lot harder now.

 

We all got it pretty bad. We were born into a species of angry bald murder apes thinking the future just meant the videogames would be cooler.

 

We can only rise to our challenges, there is no other option. They will find you in any hole you crawl into.

 

It is hard to believe we are winning when we feel so lost.

 

We cannot see above the mountains.

 

But we are winning.

 

Every day hateful people conspire against each other.

 

Every day good people do a million good things.

 

There are seven billion of us. The number explodes from your mouth. Everything you do is important. Every opportunity has a chance of turning the tide.

 

We need every damn one of us. The sick, the broken and the weak. There is no challenge we cannot get through together.

 

We cannot help but grow. Each day, each challenge we face makes us bigger. And by the end we will be as tall as mountains.

Swords to Ploughshares

The only haiku I really Got was by a dude(?) called Basho that I know exactly zero about that I heard on a japanese animation movie called my neighbours the yamadas that has really nothing to do with what I’m talking bout but here it is:

 

How cruel,

a grasshopper trapped

under a warrior’s helmet.

 

We are warriors now. We did not ask for this. I see it in the things we say, in what we feel. Our hearts lie in peace, but despair has us trapped under a pile of hate and trash.

Evil is in plain sight. It has tried to convince us that our anger is hollow. That our mouths and hands and desires are pointless. It has tried to distract us, but we can see it. It is real.

Do not forget that you are strong. Do not forget that evil is a coward, that fear is its enemy.

And it fears you.

 

Skulls on our Uniforms

 

Dear Leader

Have you ever been so angry

That you caught fire

That your skin bubbled

Burst and cracked

That your flesh sloughed from your bones

Replaced by ash and stink

 

Dear Leader

Have you ever sunk

So deep underwater

That your eardrums burst

Filled with salt

That cold rammed a claw down your throat

And tore your lungs ragged

 

Dear Leader

Have you ever felt so small

That your every move

Is dodging someone else’s footsteps

Scared and darting

Between the treads

Of a giant’s boots

 

Dear Leader

At what point

In your life

Did you let yourself become the bad guy

What fucked you up so bad

That you forgot

People scream when they burn

 

You have made clear

What makes you scared

 

It shows on pale faces

As sweat on cold thrones

 

You fill our mouths with voices

Not our own

 

We wear skulls on our uniforms

Thin lines where our mouths should be

Our eyes stare wide and we whisper

I cannot see, I cannot see

Ledge

What I thought was mist I figured out to be smoke about two days down. It reeked of sweet and rot and sat heavy, like a calm ocean. I dusted the inside of my pod with chalk to drown out the smell as I  slept, hanging by a strong cord lashed around the pick that I lodged in the dry shale of the cliff. My throat hurt in the morning but it was better than bringing up the previous day’s marching bread.

I split my pod a fraction when the first beads of sun filtered through the cracks in its shell. Felt cold air on my lips and breathed deep through my mouth. My forearms ached to split and sharp pins stabbed my feet. I readjusted, felt blood run back through my legs and stuck my head out into the air.

There was no wind; it had stopped a short distance after going over the edge. The smoke was almost flat and stretched out to the grey-blue horizon. Above me dust bowled over the edge, whipped and drifted down. I turned in the pod and craned my head back, remembered each grip and plotted the way back up. I didn’t look down.

“Up.” I said. The word was muffled and stopped short. I wasn’t sure if I said it.

I rubbed blur from my eyes and swung the pod around. I cracked the shell open further, got my left foot on a solid jut, right foot braced inside a vertical crack, hands holding the cord lashed to my pod. I swung left and got my left hand on. I eased the pod back out of my way, still gripping the knot.

I looked up, dust drifted down. I held my breath and let go of the pod. The pod scraped back across the shale, it sounded far away. I saw the seal open on the pod, the supplies hanging loose inside. I swore and the word dropped. I breathed in.

Dust caught in my throat. I tried to stifle a cough and reached for the cord that I was supposed to attach to my belt. Cursed myself, coughed, my legs shook. I grasped the cliff with my right hand and caught a loose piece of shale under my fingernails. My right foot slipped and my fingernails tore. The right side of my body swung out, my left foot lost an inch of the ledge and then slipped.

I hung by the tips of my fingers for a second, saw the pick lodged above with wide eyes. I reached and dropped.

I saw sky then smoke, my eyes squeezed shut. Gravity pulled my stomach in a circle. My back hit hard rock and I spat upwards. I felt something crack beneath me. I coughed in dust and rolled onto my side, drooling out the side of my mouth. I curled up. Dust drifted onto my face. My hand was wet and the tips of my fingers were numb. Cold bit into my legs. I tried not to move.

Air wheezed in and out of my lungs. I thought the ground was shaking; it was blood pumping through my temples, my heart beating the ground. I opened my eyes, saw the jagged ledge dropping off a few feet in front of me, rolled onto my back and saw my pod hanging desperately a short way up the cliff.

My hands still felt numb so I used my elbows to drag my back up against the side of the cliff. The ledge shifted slightly as I moved, splinters of rock shot upwards. I tried to be careful.

The sun cast a red morning glow as it rose higher above the smoke, but the rays couldn’t seem to reach me. I was freezing. I looked at my right hand, it was a red mess. I strained my neck and looked up at the pod again, banged my head against the wall, groaned and closed my eyes.

I heard a voice.

“You are not moving, moving.”

The echo drifted around, darted in and out of my ears.

“You are alive, alive.”

I opened my eyes, saw nothing but sky and smoke. The voice still seemed on the edge of hearing, high pitched and frantic but distant.

“Who’s there?” I said, “Where are you?” I spoke loudly but my words dropped.

There was silence. Dust drifted down from above.

“I am Ledge, Ledge.”

I frowned, stuck my finger in my ear, yawned to try and pop them.

“I’m hearing things.” I said.

“You are hearing, hearing.”

I cocked my head, frowned. Tried to figure out where the voice came from. It sounded lower down. I leaned my head over the ledge.

“Hearing…”

I smelled eggs and gravel, saw a shape in the shadow of the ledge. It spun, slapping on the rock. I snapped my head back.

“You are climbing down, down.” Ledge said.

I leaned back against the wall, wiped blood on my breeches.

“Not anymore.” I said.

I heard slapping below, a crack.

“Why stop now, now?”

“There is so much further you can go.”

“Down…”

I wiped more blood on my tunic, tried to tear off a bit off cloth to wrap my hand. My fingers slipped and bled more.

There were bandages in the pod, I could see a stream of beige cotton hanging down. There was still no wind. The cord hung below the pod, I tried to gauge the distance, my vision blurred. I rubbed my eyes and got blood on my face.

“You are alive, alive.”

“Yes I am alive.” I said, I felt angry but my voice sounded small.

“But you are hurt.”

I shuffled closer to the edge. My legs started shaking, I readjusted, leaned my torso over.

There was more slapping below.

“I can help…”

I reached out for the cord, put blood spots on it with the tips of my fingers.

“Help…”

I pushed myself back, the cord swayed slightly. I closed my eyes. Exhaled.

I was back in the forest, brown leaves and grass. The undergrowth crumbled as I walked. Red flickered between the tree trunks. My stomach hurt, growled. I pulled up my tunic, saw teeth splitting the bottom of my gut. Saw the campfire.

The ground tilted, swung down like a trapdoor. I skidded through the crackling grass, leaving streaks. I grabbed for branches as I fell. They snapped, already dust and splinters. My hands were bleeding.

I jolted forward on the rock. There was a crack below and splinters of rock rained down. The sun had risen higher; the light was grey and glaring. The air was still cold.

I sat in silence for a moment. Looked around, tried to see a bird or tree branch. Anything alive. The smell of the smoke seemed worse, I looked down into it. I tried to find a gap, see through to below, gave up.

Ledge spoke.

“You are alive, alive.”

“Yes I am still here.” My voice rasped. There was slapping below, retreating.

“You are coming down, down?”

“No,” I said, “I don’t know.”

I felt faint and emotional. On the edge of vomiting. I breathed through my mouth.

The blood on my right hand had crusted over, dust in the wound. I pushed down with my left and got onto my knees. Walked on them to the edge, trying not to make a sound. My kneecaps crunched against the stone.

I reached out for the cord again, pushed it slightly but couldn’t get my fingers around it. I saw a point of rock just out from the edge. I breathed slow through my mouth, felt my heart start pounding again, tried not to look down. I got my left leg over the edge, facing out from the cliff, fumbled around until it was on the rock. A pebble dropped.

“You are moving, moving.” Slapping from below.

“I don’t think I’m going anywhere in a hurry.” I said, my voice squeaked and the words dropped.

I breathed slow again, leaned my back against the cliff and reached out. I got my fingers around the cord. It felt like the whole cliff swayed with me. I looked up at the pod, to the bandages hanging dead below it.

I swung the cord a little, heard the scrape of the pod’s shell. The bandages shifted, rolled forward slightly. Cold sweat beaded on my face. I jostled the cord again, the roll half hung out of the pod.

I felt pressure inch across my ankle, like tiny worms. I looked down, saw very long, pale fingers slipping around the top of my boot. A thin wrist extending back under the stone, knotted with wiry muscle, only one bone in the forearm. My breath caught in my throat.

Ledge pulled with incredible force, my right thigh twisted and my breeches tore on the stone, I came off the ledge completely. I gripped hard on the rope, saw the bandages fall beside me. Ledge pulled and I swung violently, my legs went under the shadow. A cloud of flies burst out from under me.

Ledge slapped around and pulled again. Both my legs went numb and needles shot up my spine. My left hand dragged raw down the cord. I tried to kick, not sure if my legs were working. Ledge’s grip loosened and I swung back out of the shadow.

I reefed my lower half out, Ledge’s arm came out with me, it seemed way too long. Its pale skin hit the sunlight, went red and bubbled with blisters. The arm shot back under the shadow and I heard violent slapping. I pulled up with my arms, scrabbled my legs against the cliff. My left hand started to slip, I found a foothold and leapt.

The jagged stone of the ledge stuck sharp into my armpits. I pulled with both of my arms, scraped my tunic to shreds. I threw myself back onto the ledge. It shifted slightly. I couldn’t hear anything and the sun glared in my eyes, nearing the cliff-half of the sky. I breathed. My right hand was soaked.

I tried not to pass out.

The campfire glowed crimson, the trees around were sepia. The wind blew dust off them. Rows and rows of logs lined around the fire, wet ash around the stones containing it. Children and their parents sat on the logs. Hunched over silhouettes. They dripped; no skin on them. Sacks of meat. They ate and laughed.

I tried to remember the last time I wasn’t hungry.

I was woken by the wind. A breeze whistled up the cliff, then howled as it buffeted me. I peeled my eyelids apart like they were glued shut. The sky was darkening. The sun sat halfway across the edge of the cliff. The smoke glowed red out to the horizon, billowed and rumbled. I couldn’t smell anything.

“You are alive, alive.” Three slows slaps from below.

I coughed, then wretched.

“Yes I am still holding on.” I spat, “I feel great.” I could barely hear myself against the wind.

“You are coming down, down.”

I tried to lean my neck back but it felt locked in place. I closed my eyes. Felt tears stinging.

“No I am going up.”

“I can help, help.”

“Help…”

The voice circled me with the wind, far away then very close. I gasped, breathed.

“I am sure you can.” Tried to moved my head again, rested on the cliff.

I thought about how far down I was. My hand throbbed. I gasped.

“Things are not good up there.” I said.

“Things have gone wrong.”

“I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t hungry.”

I felt my face contort. I tried to keep my voice calm.

“I don’t want to go back.”

“The thing about Hell is,”

“Once you’ve been there, it is always behind you.”

“A thin ledge,”

“Just waiting for you to step backwards,

and slip.”

The sun slipped behind the cliff, the red light faded to blue.

“You are coming down,

down.”

I wiped my forearm across my eyes. Lifted myself to my knees.

“Yes I am coming down.”

I heard slow slaps from below, they reached the edge furthest out from the cliff.

“I have been down before,

Before.”

“There are things

Down there

You have not seen.”

“I cannot see.”

I saw thin white fingers inch over the edge like worms.

“All that’s left of me

are echoes

Echoes.”

Ledge flipped up onto the stone. Another pair of hands slapped down. It flipped over again and again. I saw a flash of a mouth splitting its body, chunky white teeth spotted with brown. I heard yelling from far away, it circled around with the wind, grew high pitched.

I tried to swing my right arm, Ledge’s fingers wrapped around my wrist, another hand circled my throat. Ledge pushed me up against the cliff, its mouth snapped at my stomach. Splinters of teeth stung my skin.

I kicked into Ledge’s middle and its mouth clamped on my boot, crunched my foot.  I stamped down with my other foot. Ledge let go of me, scrabbled backwards and around like a dying spider, slapping on the stone. I pulled myself to my feet, drool strung out the side of my mouth and into the wind. I leapt for the rope.

I caught it with my left hand, swung out and then dragged back against the cliff. Heard the slapping stop and then start again. I hung below the ledge, smelt eggs and gravel and heard the buzz of swarming flies. I swung my right hand up further on the rope. The rope dragged on bare flesh but all I could feel was wet. I pulled upwards, the pod was very far away.

My vision faded out for a moment. Sepia and blood. I came back. Almost there.

The rope went taught and pulled away from the cliff. I leapt and caught the bottom of the pod, my belongings rained onto my head.

I looked down. Ledge was tugging on the rope, the pod swung back and forth. I pulled myself up, got my legs in the pod. They seemed swollen and my breeches were soaked red. I got my hands onto the top part of the rope, pulled myself up.

The rope stopped tugging and dropped slack. Ledge slapped its hands onto the cliff, flipped over itself up the wall.

I held onto the pick with both hands and stamped down on the pod. The top cracked. The slapping got closer. The pod blocked my vision. I stamped again and it broke loose, fell down and grew small. I couldn’t see Ledge.

I looked up, saw the top of the cliff two days up. Saw fingers like worms wrapped around a jut. Ledge flipped over, hands slapped the stone, wrapped my ankles and pulled. Scabbed over eyes and tufts of human hair filled my vision, then teeth as its middle split. I tasted people meat on its breath, a taste I never could get out my mouth. I wrenched the pick out of the cliff and rammed it into Ledge’s middle. Ledge flailed and we fell.

My vision tumbled over. I saw the blue horizon, the smoke billowing red below. We slammed down onto stone. I landed on Ledge.

The stone cracked beneath us and gave way. Gravity pulled my stomach down and then up. Ledge caught on a break in the cliff, my arm wrenched but I still held the pick. Ledge tore and showered me in milk and rotten eggs. I hung by his rags.

I heard only my heartbeat and the howl of the wind. I looked down, the smoke billowed very close, red lights flashed. Ledge’s rags inched downwards. I looked up, saw stars and the cliff. Dust billowed over the edge. I spoke and my voice dropped.

“Up.”

I wasn’t sure if I said it.