Fiction from Jude Conlee

Image via Unsplash

By the Side of the Road

I could do so much more than the stain-ridden state of a world has left me. I could make so many more things out of what rushes by me but my eyes always blink, I can’t hold my lids steady and the everything around is blurs of red and streets like rivers come to lap up my blood when I shed it, it’s gold but tarnishedly so and I imagine the blood of everyone on this planet is gold but I am Narcissus if the road is the water.

 

I can say saints and their names to infinity, I repeat them and count them and everything, their names like a Mobius strip in heaven angels celestial sing around it their eyes on the curious case of science in measurement. Leave measurements if you will but I am alone living like it’s no great wonder why angels sing to proclaim when the saints are really below, in the blood of the streetlights whose light pours like milk.

there is no milk for me nor my kind if I had a kind, but I am a we, a minority of zero a group of one, demographic statements show we are not we and there is no me to speak of. I collect. drink up, drink of what is left. the milk is no comfort but milk has never been for my lack of acquaintance with the mother’s breast is what left me dry. bloodstains of black on a pavement are where I feel I roam blood is black it is stained it is crusted away and I could blow off the dust that a whole life made.

footprints are to murder the surface of things. nothing better by which to murder them save the inescapably correct concept of humans, human lives. footprints are only motions they are provably such, I don’t like true-or-falses no fifty-fifty on chances. what are chances, I haven’t got one. if the rushing-by everything is anything a chance I know I haven’t got one but I will intersect my body with an onlookers spilling just more black on the universal street

 

a great bright balloon of extractions, so are teeth pulled from mouths, made as monuments to nowhere and nothing, the art of dentistry was never so hard as the science of silence the suicide void you call voids what do not exist. never going to. not to turn my hand against myself against its own hand. these cuts you see are not from mine. the bites in my flesh may be but they bloom into faded cold skin again. that’s what you should know.

street city light suffocating and drowning I do not drink lifeblood for it contains life, and my vital signs are street signs albeit with much more rust much more decay. the world is a hospital and all who live are patients. I cannot bear much more. patience lord patience if you will so bless but blessings are common and that’s why I never receive our lord’s grace. I am stumbling. I am wandering. I fall.

 

if I dreamt in the wayside then it was only a dream, but if I drank in the listing of the outside path then I lay down in the tall yellow grass that the road parallels. city of a sound and I hear no sounds here. there is no sound to sound anylonger and if I hear anything again it will smash out my teeth I will have no bite left.

there is no need to fear nor upset nor fight back when you are paralyzed and anesthesia blessing in the dead dreading deathlike; death is only life spelt backwards and drunk is only misery in palindrome. first way backwards next way off. but I have never read such words. level sees rotator, repaper deified stats. more like tenet? tenant? more of the latter I live in ideas. to the side of the safe again maybe, my house has no letters in common with “common” for it’s not a house it’s a head.

 

drink to your bones and I hope that you break for it’s only the bits that get crumbled away. oh what a piece of work is a word is a person who speaks it I speak for a million I speak for myself. I speak. suicide void. desperate for a singular to the second word there. If the world is the water then I am the narcissist. Sight believer without its own language.

there are no drinking songs to be sung for that implies warmth and fingers on hands and that’ll never be. not here not now not ever. cold things die alone. but not tonight maybe maybe if I so aside that void go:
……………….“I can’t stand up to you anymore, for you are many and I
……………….am as weak as the day I was born. You are no more
……………….my equals than I am a victor. If my cowardice is
……………….clear, it’s only because you’ve made me a coward. What a piece
……………….of work am I. What a mess you have made with
……………….no intent to clean up.”
……………….but the last words linger onto me and I can’t get out of the sense that I meant them and they meant me I am what they mean.
……………….pour the rest of my stupor out on the slowed down rush. I need the opposite of awake.

 

What good is a stageplay without an audience? Do you think if Hamlet had no desire to turn the cemetery into a stage, then Yorick’s skull would be as immortal as a few words thinks it is? forget about it, and forget about Shakespeare as well if you like. the pen is no mightier than its words. all the world’s a stage not if no one is looking. rose smells sweeter when it doesn’t have a name. My words have more power if “anonymous” applies.

I have no people who’d fight my claims to say “that isn’t me, your mirror is a lie”. mirror? only I can see through the mirror and what do I see I see my reflection of course but distorted. more human-shaped, more people-colored and nothing looks better than that. that’s my training that’s what I have been taught about. to be people what else is there to be? to be black tar teethstained on the curb when your mother’s milk turns out to be that of a stranger at birth.

god damn my fingers god damn my teeth god damn them all and I’d claw them to pieces if possible but it wouldn’t solve anything. if they ask where the bite marks are from I’ll say they’re a memory and make up a name. kids lie to kids I was a kid once, does self-injury count as a schizoid sign? but memories fail and gurgle to death. throw them into the road. that’s all they’re good for now.

 

I could bring this city to a screeching halt if I wanted to, if its constituents make up its fullness. fullness is a song they sing but not when they jump into traffic that rushes. forget the rushes by the river this river is a road this road is bright and light and potential in the flesh. how many times would my flesh be awake if it all came down to once, one night? I could do this more often if I had a month’s worth of lives to throw/ away.

“The sentence of living is far too cold
to tangle my fingers into its shame. if honesty isn’t a sight
too bold, then into the road is a sickly
name. it doesn’t get better you
don’t get well
you get more advanced but you break yourself and why do
they keep you from saying hell if
hell is the best from their dead man’s shelf. I hate it and urge you to
feel the same
were hate but a number you take to bed and bed is for foreigners foreign
claim to life what a liar you can’t
be dead.
to die or live I can’t accept amiss. so face up
go home. there’s no time for this.”

 

I can only ask the only question that ever existed for what others. what OTHERS. what OTHERS are there. what CAN be there is the only question anyone is ever meant to ask is “why?” why LIVE or why DIE why make a scene at all if the only scene that’s going to play is the closing curtain on your lifeless form no call it a corpse call it what it is, if roses are roses then call mine as dead you are dead and I’m alive but I’ll soon invert that. make it all like it ought to be. hold up my mirror. back to normal. yeah it’s magic. just like I told you. just like I told you.

I drink tonight in the name of everything in the name of my words in the name of my world. I’d sing to it maybe were the choirs of Mobius angels not singing with saints I’m the saint I am saint of my actions. there are teeth in my mouth and my tongue knows them well but soon it will know what it’s like to be smashed against its prison. it’s prison to stay here and teethmarks on bodies, they’ll ask where it came from. like the child I blamed for my own childhood marks. even then in my flesh I was carving out my space.

the bottle falls out of my hands it smashes I blow away the dust, it turns to dust so quickly and I so quickly turn as well, dust in the wind as it winds down the road. throwing myself in. tonight. no time to delay, act now or say nothing. words become actions become images and a WORLD

tonight I am the world and the waking won’t find me.

behind me trail an army for my army of one conjures a million ghosts of could-have-been. the legion of the hypothetical linger on. a funeral beat is their step. on. and on. and on. and on. sharp. real. steps. none. to. the. curb.

and that is where my blood goes black and I turn into a scream and it screams into the whole of this flash flesh world:

…………………………………………….a lifeless void, avoid what you cannot
……………for no one tells you anything but can
…..umbrella cloud balloon as white as shot
……………………but shot is not a word to call a man
…………………………………………….a piece of work, a plagiarized……………a sigh
…..a sight as real as sight…………………………………no, sight is fake
……………………then sleeping then or rain that cannot lie
…..no blank………………….no dead………………….no sleeping………………..no awake
……………………if you can’t take a song and make it good
…………………………………………….then take somebody better in your sight
can….someone……….help….them….someone……….can….or……could
…..make signals.………………make it better.…………………………make it right.

this is not mine.……………………………………………………………words are not mine to own.

……………………this wasn’t meant to end with me……………………………………..alone.

and that is my tribute as it sails to the wind and I think of the millions of bottles of words and whose blood isn’t life and whose light isn’t milk and whose outskirts are no more than literal things. metaphors are dead. metaphors are false. metaphors never lived. so aside a void what else is there now.

I don’t think I’ll come back again but at least my skull isn’t a millionth statistic sleeping soundly with its teeth lodged in place all the whooshing; the whirling; the realing. the waiting around til the let-go. if the road is the narcissist, I am the water, and the opposite of “sleep” shakes itself onto me until the life seeps back into my eyes. take years maybe but the color’s still good for a thousand.
.

.

Jude Conlee does not exist but has somehow still managed to create fiction and poetry, some of which is good and some of which gets published. Venues that have published its work include and/or, Five 2 One, Scrutiny, and otoliths. Its non-writing relating pursuits include amateur film criticism, collecting interesting knives, and the care and keeping of Syrian hamsters.

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