The Demographics of Privation: Hurt Like You Mean to Go On

by Therese Elaine

It was a quiet day in the deadland
of the virtual living. Metropolitan
minds idled in light traffic, absorbed
by red light distractions, ignoring
blu-ray fissures and fixes. No phial-sharing
forays or games without frontiers; the usual
cloud, squatting on the precipice
of salivation.

Pending persecution, Mar1lyn Monsoon gets off
on technicalities, undoing time
along the freeway to a state of narcosis.
She folds the sky, wraps it in black plastic
and drags it to the landfill of dreams.

Across the way on the underside of town
with twice as many shadows and half as much ambition,
Jonny Garrote plies his trade in finger-flicks
and second-sight aggressive tendencies;
avoiding the glow of artificial aether,
he gets high on street magic and has his fortune told
by an astigmatic junkie who died
five years ago, come November.

He only dreams in ghosts, the light from a
black and white parade of stuttering images
seeps out from under eyelids too scared to close
all the way...he'd give anything to dream of falling.

This sprawling, urban nightmare supports itself
on unfinished business -even the dead
are biding their time.

Halfway between nowhere in particular
and the point of no remorse, he pauses
for thought, effect, and a surreptitious splash
behind NewsCore's portal to global domestication.

In the black of Jonny's mind, Mar1lyn shivers.
She lets the sensation wash through her
punk-alloy hair before dismissing it
as an unconditioned reflex. There are no ghosts,
only white noise recidivists wandering
the suck-and-see of premonition.

She's felt better, but knows she looks
too good to be mortal. Her champagne
microfibre party towel and matching spatula shoes
reveal more than enough to satisfy the wildest
epicurean fantasies of Sedentary Man and his
mechanical animals; and yet, despite this boast
to the Monsoon ego, she knows the night ahead
will be as long as it is inevitable. Turning
the world on its cultural axis, she shifts
into the Healthy Living diner and orders
isotonic soup with electrolyte replacement croutons.

Experience, informed by the mordant mystic within
tells her there will be no rest for the living
and no living for the rest.

Jonny shakes the static from his neural net
and notices a new tremor in his hands;
his blood has gotten greedy for a taste
of some kind of post-apocalyptic Madonna
with a pierced pedigree and a penchant
for speaking in tongues.

He can sense her, that back-alley
siren song of hers soaks into his subconscious;
there's something stalking the streets,
alchemically predatory, it's even making
the neon nervous. Jonny can taste it, copper-wire
and bullet-proof tang, making him salivate;
he switches positions, sacrifices ego,
starts calling in favours. The Netfeed screams
for mercy, through the slew of paranoia prophesies,
and it's all saturated with vitality, the way
only dying things can pull off. Jonny
punches all the numbers, hacks up too many late nights
and return-to-sender scenarios and starts
watching parts of himself disappear in the mirror.

Experience, along with all of his phantasmagoric hitchhikers
tells him time is now a luxury for all the restless denizens
of flesh and bone passivity; there shall be no rest among the wicked.

In the half-light of urban decay, Mar1lyn recognises
an unfamiliar pattern, drawn by The Four Henchmen
of The Necropolis, on double-sided headstones
marking the graves of her previous incarnations.
She feels a leviathan of lust casting its shadow
upon the uncultivated bed that hosts
the seeds of her insecurities, and broadcasts each
in a customised stream of fibre-optic filth...

Relationships had always been a problem
for the metamorbid Ms Monsoon, a legacy
of quantity time spent with an infanticidal father
and a permanently high priestess who claimed
to be her heavenly mother. Her biographical mother
was a post-intellectual subjectivist; she told Mar1lyn
to trust no-one until she'd printed out their SpaceBook profile
and scanned it with a hand-held carbon-dating device.

Experience was the friend that knifed her in the guts
and left her to live. Mar1lyn Monsoon was petrified,
and more than slightly stoned; In the meltdown to paralysis
she screamed, she threw up, and finally she choked.
Anticipation syndrome had never been so tasteless
and she savoured its sybaritic sweetness.

Jonny gets that tele-morphic kind of twitch
and involuntarily conceals the acrid musk
tang of ravening predators behind his teeth;
he grants a final stroke to the splattered flanks
of whatever imaginary cyberpyronympho spree he'd let
loose in his shambling mattress fantasies, and disconnects.
Giving himself a coldwater flat wakeup injection, he staggers
unceremoniously into a bargain-basement hell, flashing
a cyanide smile as more than the dead try for a piece of him...

Most people would have offed themselves by this point
but Jonny's got a stubborn streak; he's never met the kind
of a girl that would bleed eyeliner into his thighs and
only come up for a quick nicotine fix and an adjustment of angle.
The phantom mob he's got on loan from Purgatory are as close
as he gets to spatial networking, with little to no risk of being un-friended.
His father used to tell him that women were a special kind of contagion,
right before he made his current Warhol-era throwback into his own
personal marionette. Mum was admittedly, a disease, but she did
leave him her eyes before causing a massive spike on the power grid;
sometimes he sees her hands sliding stockings up his legs.

Experience was only chalking up one more way to kill a man,
but walking away just in time. Jonny Garrote was eager,
and more than a little lethal; in a murky corner of the basement
bar sprawl, he spotted her, sweat-soaked and smudged and clawing
feebly at the naugahyde as she bit off more than she could chew.
He blinked his mother's disapproval out of his eyes, and in a rush
of crows, went to give the lady a hand.


Author's Note: This is the result of a collaboration with the slinky-sick-stiletto sharp Ms.Laura Doom...and frankly, this result is what you'd definitely call a 'hot mess' for so many different reasons...I owe her big for this one -cosmic maelstrom milkshakes are on me next time!!

Posted on 11/09/2010
Copyright © 2023 Therese Elaine

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Laura Doom on 11/09/10 at 10:20 AM

I hope you're not reneging on the inter-galactic storm cocktail deal...

Posted by Anita Mac on 11/09/10 at 08:41 PM

You two are well suited. I loved this piece; it's a great read, one that bares re-reading lest something was missed. I do hope you'll do another sometime.

Posted by Ulyss Rubey on 11/10/10 at 12:58 AM

I am trying not to imagine the next scene. Where is the nearest brain wash? Outstanding twisted sister collaborincestation!

Posted by V. Blake on 11/10/10 at 05:34 AM

You guys are so many different kinds of amazing that I ran out of fingers, toes, and numbers trying to count them. You play off each other so perfectly and the end result is one of the most fun reads I have seen in a long time. Thanks for this, both of you.

Posted by Linda Fuller on 11/11/10 at 03:35 PM

A brave nude whirl of a collaboration, no less than I'd expect from the two of you.

Posted by Paul Lastovica on 11/12/10 at 02:45 AM

i feel as though i too have bitten off more than i can chew here; but i keep biting knowing damn well the consequences. bra-effing-vo

Posted by Johnny Crimson on 11/12/10 at 01:32 PM

Enjoyed reading about Jonny. but seriously 'punk alloy hair, back alley sirens,warhol-era throwbacks" This is 46,831 poems in one. Me likey.

Posted by Melissa Arel on 12/05/10 at 01:32 AM

i agree w/everyones comments. holy crap! and i mean that in the best way possible :)

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