The Other Side of the Platform
‘I’m getting a double bed tonight.’
‘Yeah. Well good.’
‘I know what you wanna do in that, Kas.’
‘Shut up, Gemma. Not interested in any of that.’
‘I believe you, I believe you.’
The two sixteen year old girls are waiting on platform three of Raynes Park station. It is quarter to eight in the morning, an unusually bright and sunny morning at the opening of March, with a little kick of wintry cold in the air. Both girls have long hair tied up, skinny jeans and mobile phones in their hands, which bleep every now and again.
‘Who’s it from, Kas?’
‘Tom. Wants to know if he can come around tonight.’
‘I told you!’
‘Shut up, Gemma. No way.’
A blue and red train thunders past on its way to Woking. Another speeds the opposite way going to Waterloo. The girls are waiting for the slow train to Surbiton, their school. On the other side of the platform, Platform Four, two sixteen year old boys are waiting for their train to Worcester Park. They have short hair, one earphone in an ear, leads snaking to their ipods and mobile phones in their hands, which bleep every now and again. The two pairs are separated by a café and the toilets and they can’t hear each other over the noise of the passing trains and announcements.
‘I’m gonna get some, I promise you, Markie.’
‘You say so, Tom. You say so.’
‘I do. And you wanna get in with her friend, that Gemma girl. Pretty fit.’
‘If you like beef.’
‘I’d do her.’
‘I’m not saying I wouldn’t.’
‘You wanna start trying it, Markie, otherwise you won’t know what to do with it.’
‘Shut up! I well know. That bird from Stoneleigh knows, ask her.’
‘I thought you said she sucked you off.’
‘Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. She got a right mouth full.’
‘You said she didn’t know what she doing. Licked you like a lolly.’
‘Still shoot off, didn’t I?’
‘Yeah, reckon. I had this girlfriend once who bit it. Made it bleed. I mean, how can that be a good idea?’
‘Bird’s got issues, mate. Maybe her Dad did her.’
‘Me as well, mate.’
The boys aren’t speaking particularly loudly. They’re not the swearing, swaggering youths that plague train stations, mostly late at night. But still they are looked at with mild distaste by the adults around them, all going to work, all harbouring complex sexual and emotional problems, all jealous at how simple and fun it all is when you’re sixteen.
‘So you gonna do it then, Kas?’
‘You know.’ Gemma makes a mime representing a blowjob.
‘No way! Well gross.’
‘Tom knows that?’
‘Yeah, told him. You know what he told me? He said he’s last girlfriend used to do it. Even told me how.’
‘No way. Makes me well gag.’
‘Who did you do it with?’
‘That friend of Tom’s. You know. Thin one with the staring eyes.’
‘Yeah. Got a bit drunk. Threw up after.’
‘Did you do anything else?’
‘No. Got a taxi home.’
Kas’ mobile phone beeps.
‘Ha! Look at this. He’s going into College early. That’s a first.’
‘He’ll be too knackered for tonight then.’
‘It ain’t happening, Gemma. I told you.’
On the other side of the platform Tom’s mobile phone goes off. Tom reads it and laughs, clicking his fingers together.
‘I told you, look.’
He shows it at Mark who squints at it.
‘She’s well up for it. Her Mum’s on a light shift so I can get in their early. Christen the bed. Wicked.’
‘I’m babysitting tonight.’
‘Oh, good for you.’
‘Will be. You know Gemma’ mate, Becky.’
‘You mean the tall one. Good legs. Fit arse. Dressed up as Wonder Women at the Christmas ball.’
‘Yeah, yeah. I’m doing it with her. And I’m gonna do it with her.’
‘In your dreams, mate.’
‘Not dreaming mate, for sure.’
Tom pauses to send a text. Another train slams past, blasting the air.
‘I well hate it when they go on about other girls,’ says Kass. ‘Tom’s always doing it. Showing off, I reckon. All the girls he’s slept with.’
‘Pressuring you, I reckon.’
‘Guess what that Mark told me yesterday?’
‘He wants to marry you?’
‘No, you tart. He’s babysitting with Becky. Think he’s got a chance. Why would he tell me?’
‘Make you jealous.’
‘He ain’t got no chance with Becky. Well out of his league.’
‘You reckon she won’t get drunk?’
‘She don’t drink. Total swot. Mark won’t know what she’s talking about.’
Kas’ phone bleeps. She reads it and squeals.
She gets up and runs across to Platform Three. Gemma follows.
Kas and Tom embrace and kiss. It’s a noisy, overt display. You can hear the grunts of disgust from the adults watching, definitely watching.
Gemma stops, seeing Mark. ‘Alright?’ she says. Mark nods. ‘Still going around Becky’s tonight?’
Mark nods. ‘Reckon.’
‘Still cool for tonight, babe?’ Tom asks.
‘Yeah, cause,’ says Kas. ‘I can’t believe you’re getting this train.’
‘Stayed over at Mark’s, didn’t I?’
They kiss again and then the boy’s train comes in. Mark doesn’t say anything else to Gemma, who turns away.
‘See you later, sexy,’ Tom says.
‘You bet,’ says Kas.
The doors close and the train creaks away like an old man. The two girls return to their platform.
‘You gonna do it, ain’t you,’ said Gemma sourly.
‘No way. I told you.’
‘Well I’m gonna go around Becky’s. Surprise them both.’
She shrugs her shoulders. ‘Dunno. Nothing better to do.’
thermodynamics and poetry
and then i tear a knee ligament
getting up off the shitter.
says the nurses
asks the sawbones
after i tell him
i’ve gained sixty pounds
in the last year.
i tell him
explaining how i gave up exercise
to write chopped prose
and ladle through cases of bud-light
until hunger knocks
swing the family truckster
over to the golden arches
he pinches an aa brochure
off his clown wall
besides the fact that
there isn’t an aa meeting
within fifty miles of here
that won’t be crawling with
cons i know from work-release
inside of me
he doesn’t want to quit,
hobble to the trash
drop the brochure
and ask him if maybe
do something about
bumping up this
Pyramids Before Dawn (On Lucid Dreams)
These dreams are at once recipient and contributor to our selves – moulded from the desires and insecurities that scutter within, and presented in the form of visions, casting deep impact – be it through the whispers of Conscience or the bellows of Gods.
They sway the iron hearts of the loveless and shatter the nerves that the brave keep proudly shackled; reveal truer sentiments in gardens deeper than our consciousness would warrant us wander.
When the moon dips and the tired man pulls a blanket over his body, a portal widens its mouth, bridging the spheres of God and Man. His mind liberates his soul, which tears through the firmament in a glorious rage, and penetrates the whorish empire of Heaven that offers itself to the nightly whims of many men. Human beings, through lucid dreams, can attain omnipotence.
Shame is alien to dreams, and to the dreamer, the landscape is a wild Serengeti of animal instinct. Seated now in the Pantheon, the demigod is ecstatic, indulging his perverse lusts of gathering riches, of inflicting pain, and of disgracing women. There are pyramids to be erected before dawn.
The experience, though, is illusory and finite, and thus, always bittersweet. Within that realm, he has among the forces at his great hand, the power to remove himself from it but not the power to remain within it. As with Rome, his great rise is coupled with a great demise. As with Icarus, he dares for more than what is allotted to him, and his ambition, like wax, gives way under the weighty pull of the Gravity Realm. And the return to the waking state is cruel bereavement – the loss of his beloved Holy Self.
The waking state that is plagued by looming Oblivion, marked by an understated but unequivocal dread; a dream without even the lingering memory of familiarity, dependability, of ever having existed outside of it. The relief is found only in that limp edifice Religion, where the master, asleep, becomes the slave, awake.
And though he cannot shy away from that dreadful and ultimate frontier that each man must face once and for all, he can choose to remove himself at any time.
It’s not often anymore
That I’ll throw a wine glass at
The ground intent on smashing it
So when i do
I expect the gesture to be taken seriously.
But everyone shrugs instead.
Thinking that it’s empty and that
We have three more,
And not realizing that the stemless glass
Contained the UNIVERSE that
I stared into it
While you were screaming-
A lustful throbbing mass of debt and
Cholesterol, with razor teeth
And sadistic appetite,
Swimming and growing
In a swirl of alcohol
And embarrassments, pills and strategies;
A beast of paystubs and bills,
Howling in a tinnitus buzz
And exhaling the corpse odor
Of the East River through
The wire netting of our summer windows,
A smell that reminds us
Of how rotten we all are
When the heat is too much.
And no one realizes how I
And saved our family from this Monster’s
But it wasn’t without sacrifice.
Or collateral damage.
There are only three glasses
Left. And you and i
Are now so many dangerous shards