Severance, Words and Other Things.

Nicole on Words and Other Things has set a small challenge. Tied in with her reading of a book of short stories called Severance by Robert Olen Butler. About the last thoughts of a severed head.

Butler’s book was inspired by two concepts:

1.) “After decapitation, the human head is believed to remain in a state of consciousness for one and one-half minutes.”

2.) “In a heightened state of emotion, people speak at the rate of 160 words per minute.”


So in reply to her own last response here is mine:

Redjim99, Never did get there.

I’m sure that they said
in the end I would know
that everything would be all right.

I waited as long as I could
before the thoughts emptied
as a stream from my mouth
to the waiting crowd,

like the warm sense of escape
spreading across my limbs
to take away the aches

that have followed me
from years of running and fighting
and trying as hard as possible
to be as good as the next man.

I wish I could say
just one more time
I love you.

All of this though means little
as the light fades and the memories
I have fought so hard to gain
slip so quickly from my mind

to leave only a worryingly blank space
that I can see as a wall
rushing towards me

and now that the wall seems to fade
to the noise of someone behind me
saying hush now, cry no more until
even that sound fades to black.

The link above goes back to her post, join in to see how it works out for everyone.


Chaos and the Journey

I am the Anti-list, chaos incarnate, fear me. I will come to you in the night and disorder your life. Those best laid plans of mice and men, are mine. Put your list out of sight for only a second and I will appropriate it, and only relinquish it back to you when it is too late to do anything about the most important thing on your list.

Do not think for a minute there is the possibility of order in your life, I am the butterfly on the far side of the world, setting in motion a chain of events so tortuous you will not plan for the consequences. There is only me and fate to control your destiny. Faith and prior planning will not avail you anything.

I will wake you in the night, with a forgotten list, with that one thing you must not forget, the date not in your diary. A single obscured digit in the phone number to save your world. Do not take me lightly, I will reduce your itemised shopping list to dust, lost in the sands of time. The wedding planner despairs when my cold hand rests on their shoulder. That one simple thing you went into the shop for, the one you forgot when you saw the glossy magazine, it is all in my domain and I am a demon of details.

My list is not of order but of random acts. Murphy knew me personally, he just didn’t know my name, how could he? I am everyone and no one, the lost pen, the unwashed shirt and the washed out address in your shirt pocket. Everyone is prey to my whims and I know no mercy. I have toyed with kings and queens, magi and masters. Be Afraid.

I have found that when I head out for a walk, the easiest place to go wrong is as you leave the car park. The multitude of choice and the potential for taking the wrong path are greater here than at any other time while walking. Not strictly true but It’s my line and I’m staying with it. As you will see, my camera has got some dirt inside the lens as well, so my opening short story has really come to the fore this weekend. I need to find some-one who can take it to pieces now.

Navigation is always important, and on a clear sunny day with wide signed paths it can be easy, step off the beaten track or find yourself on a wide plain in fog with no landmarks and it is easy to take the wrong path. I headed to the Quantocks this weekend, weather forecast good, route decided, in the footsteps of Coleridge. Setting of I managed to turn left one turn too early, and with a combination of not caring about looking at the map, watching other things and the woodland lack of landmarks I found myself in a different place when I had a choice to make.

The Woods and the Trees
The Woods and the Trees

Any-time you are not where you think you are (notice I don’t use the word lost here!) you have a choice to make. Forward or back, is it more important to go back, lose the time, and get back on track, or can you carry on with the new track, find a landmark to confirm your new location and redraw your plan for the day? Since I was on my own, and was out for a look around, onwards it was. Knowing that at some point I was going to run into a road or car-park, in navigation terms called a catch feature. I wandered along in the mist and fog, thinking about the views I was missing. Enjoying the chance to use map and compass for the first time in a while.

Landmarks?  Always useful.
Landmarks? Always useful.

The weather did clear later in the day, after I found a landmark at the car-park I knew was out there somewhere, although the National trust also helped by putting the grid-reference there as well. It was a bitter-sweet moment, we spend our lives knowing where we are. Marking the trip with known points along the way, never just letting go and getting out in the chaos that is the real world. Using the chance to get some navigation practice and seeing how I could relocate myself was fun, and added confidence to my map-reading skills. The big thing about being lost – Don’t Panic, make a choice. Enjoy the trip, and have confidence in your decision, if something feels wrong about your route it stands a chance your subconscious knows something you don’t.

Now this is a Landmark!
Now this is a Landmark!

I’ll be writing up the Quantock walk next time, this post is for everyone who seems to be lost at the moment, I’ve been there so many times and now I am trying to not let it become a problem. Its worth remembering, it’s not usually the big event that throws the world out of line, it’s the combination of small things added together, and it’s not how you start or how you finish, it’s how you make the journey. Most of all, the journey is what we have, not the destination or the departure.

I’ll leave you with a fragment of writing from what I joyfully call my Cathartic period, emptying out the rubbish. This has never seen the light of day. And rightfully so, it’s awful! but it was a place I needed to visit to get on with other things,

Sweet confusion hold me
Take my mind away from here
I don’t want to have a memory
Just hold me nowhere near

Have a good trip everyone.