Tag Archives: Miles Allinson

Masdok the Madman in his Fever (Miles Allinson)

3 Jun



The ground has become sludgy where the river overflowed in March. In gumboots, carrying his wooden hunting rifle, he goes into the forest, with the mud sucking at his feet, to hunt the small birds he eats for dinner. His rifle is made of old oak and was carved by his father. It was Masdok’s tenth birthday present, but it shoots only in his mind. How then does he come back, whistling, with a string of upended birds, swinging at his side? Masdok the madman in his fever, sings to them with his sweet childlike voice, and brings them down around his boots, where, mistaking him for St Francis, they allow themselves to be slaughtered one by one.



Leaving Leisureland (Miles Allinson)

2 Oct

When they came to the door I was in the kitchen, weighing the evidence against a fly that was trapped behind part of the open window. I could use last month’s LeisureLand brochure and beat it to death. This sentence amused me the most. Or I could catch it using a plastic cup. That was the second option. All the cups here are plastic, so we don’t hurt ourselves, so we don’t suddenly fall into a spasm and jam a wine glass into our eye. That much I’ve surmised. Alternatively, I could stand here trying to coax the stupid thing down the little gap between the two panes of glass to freedom, and whatever natural, inauspicious death awaited it out there, in the never-ending heat. The coma of heat we’ve come to. The windows are still glass I notice. Another oversight to make note of. I keep a list and recite it whenever anyone comes to visit. Not that they come. Aeroplanes have plastic windows, if I remember correctly. Even if I manage to get it out, it’ll probably be eaten alive by a spider, in the nook of some storage facility. Are there spiders here? Come to think of it, there aren’t many flies either. I wonder what they do with them? A gentle and completely inconspicuous rain of insecticide washes the town every fortnight, making life intolerable for all insects, didn’t you know that Robert? So this, this rogue beast, is some entirely new species. I leave it to bang itself breathless and go to answer the door.

The thing which LeisureLand has to its advantage is this: no one can remember very well what came before. Children, grand children, half cousins, step nephews, all that, they’re the ones who arrive every year or two, to sit on our couches and remind us, or half remind us, of the old world. To be honest, it’s hard to say how long I’ve been here. It’s in everybody’s interest, this forgetfulness. It seems to make less and less sense out there anyway, from what I can judge.

I remember this, this futility, from a thousand years ago. My own grandfather used to make lewd jokes and smoke a pipe and drink two bottles of whiskey a day. Or three. We’d sit in the horror, (in photos we’re still sitting there) with our bad haircuts, our itchy looking clothes, out of some obligation on the sticky leather of those couches. Christmases, birthdays, Fathers days, then just Christmases, then nothing. Then nothing. Am I like that I wonder? We speak about my body. My most humiliating grievances seem to interest them very much. They even take a certain pleasure in the whole thing, I’ve decided, enquiring about my cantankerous bowels while they sip my lemonade. God. But I vowed not to become a bitter old man. Who are you again, I think as I tell them about the enormous trauma of just taking a shit.

They pull up in their golf buggies, every now and again, laughing and sweating and calming down as they approach the door. Visitors are obliged to swap their car for a golf buggy at the gate, they can do less damage that way. Every idiot can drive a golf buggy. The streets are full of them. Full of young, bright faced, slightly dreary people up close, saving money for a year or two by driving golf buggies in endless circles around LeisureLand. They get out and inspect things. They feed the dolphins with microphones attached to their heads, they pick us up when we fall over and take photos for the record so we don’t sue them. They delegate to the not so young people, the Porto Ricans mostly, or some similar Spanish speaking demographic, who come to do the real work, the cleaning up of things. The courteous business of spraying things down, of carrying things away.

We need certain assistances, but we are actively encouraged to retain our dignity and our sense of independence. I don’t know what would happen if they stopped coming. The food people, the ones who take us to the waters edge to gape at the trained animals. The gym team. The pain easement specialists. The appliers of sunscreen.

The resentment fades. No. The resentment changes. Its learns to resist. It becomes some new species of mood, circling in the nook of my heart.

I can gaze out the window, from here, toward the twenty metre wide environmental buffer zone and listen to the water being turned on and off, the gas being employed, the coronary system of secret energies hidden inside the walls of the buildings. The fridge throbs, but you cannot hear the highway. Not from here anyway. We live in a blaze of greenery. The neighbours can be called-to, if need be and that’s encouraged. Helping one anther fosters a sense of community. For more urgent requirements we carry an alarm system around our necks at all times, in case we cannot get up. For the moment this is my preferred method, since the apartments on both sides now are empty, have been empty for days. As in most villages, pre-loved homes become available from time to time.

But that was then. If I still speak like all is well in LeisureLand, it’s because I don’t remember much else now, and I want to hold onto it. At some point, you realise, you’re all alone in here, just you and your mind playing tricks. Your conjurers mind – pulling rabbits, chopping ladies in half, throwing knives while you wait in the empty auditorium for your heart to give way. An octopus has three hearts. I just remembered. And some sharks eat one another in the womb, before they’re even born. I don’t know why these statistics come into my head. The conjurer, as I’ve said, is more or less running the show.

The heat was 36, at least. I was in the kitchen, looking out through the buffer zone toward the highway. In five billion years, I thought, the earth will be swept by a tsunami of darkness. A stellar tide will pick it up and carry it for however long into the mouth of the sun, like an offering to some monster, where it will be swallowed up. Was it too early to have drink? A fly was caught between the two window panes and was going mad because the world looked so real. I didn’t hear them arrive. They arrived with the silence of two vipers, I might later say.

When they came to the door, the heat was 36. I could hear water gushing somewhere. Secretly. I opened the door. Two men were standing very close to one another, there on my doorstep wearing, I can’t remember exactly what they were wearing actually, but looking, let’s be honest, a little tattered. Things in leisure land don’t get tatty around the edges but blossom and grow, and the gentle ambience becomes all pervading. Would you like ice tea or lemonade, I offered, thinking quickly, but it won’t be necessary, they said, are you ready? What group is today again, I asked, a little anxiously, because the days must have begun to slip. You’ll see about that, and it seemed as if they were talking together, at exactly the same moment. You’ll need some good shoes though they said all at once, and, slipping past me into the apartment they began to look around for my shoes, to peer under my bed.

They sat me on the couch, so to speak. In any case I found myself sitting on the couch while these two men knelt and did up my shoelaces. The swift, economical gestures of men trained in such things.. Out on the street they had me by the arm, and they led me toward a golf buggy and gently touched my head like policemen do, in films I remember. All’s well now that we’re in the buggy I thought, though upon closer inspection this thought didn’t seem to hold much water. The two men were in the front, bouncing up and down a little on the pebbly track, and every now and again one of them would turn over his shoulder to look at me and smile brightly, flashing his teeth.

We came to a stop at the gate. The man in the booth smiled and said something I didn’t catch, to which I smiled back and we climbed out of the buggy with our ticket and walked over toward where the cars were parked, slowly because I am old and I have osteoporosis and high blood pressure and the two men understood this, were paid, no doubt, to understand this. It was bakingly hot. Teams of visitors were getting in and out of cars – troops of bright coloured children trailing after their parents through the maze of vehicles, playfully inflicting their obscure little cruelties on one another. And I half thought, well, this is a little adventure, as I let myself fall into the back seat of their car, some sort of Ford, I think, but new or newish and had the door closed gently on me by the two men.

How wide open the world was as we drove out of LeisureLand. We passed service stations and takeaway food places and the occasional small block of scrub, where a few horses were picking at the grass. How long had it been, since I’d seen all this stuff? We passed strange warehouses, and two-story office complexes with demarcated staff parking attached and a place called SexyLand in big pink letters. How brightly the coloured flags flapped above the car yards. And how insane it all seemed, how purposeful and exhausted and terrifying – these buildings and signs and roads and people driving, like us, through the bleak midst of it. I felt a rising wave of nausea pass, and a little tumour of fear put its spurs into the tissue of my stomach and clung. Recklessly I pressed the window down, and took in a burst of the world’s air. What the hell’s going on, I yelled out. Who approved this stupid exercise? One of the men turned to look at me. You have a long way to go, I thought I heard him say above the sound of wind, you should get some rest, and it was true, I felt exhausted all of a sudden, laying my head back against the upholstery in resignation and closing my eyes. The window rose of its own accord and I could hear the two men saying something to one another in the front. I couldn’t make anything out, but then, I remember, I was on my hands and knees, listening to a scratching sound, which seemed to be coming from beneath my bed, from a long corridor of darkness, where something was moving. In the dream I was pressing the emergency alarm around my neck again and again, uselessly, and then I began to crawl in after whatever it was. Too much darkness beneath ones bed, a faulty alarm, these were other things to put on the list of oversights I thought. A person could get trapped under their bed looking for their shoes, with no recourse to help. The scratching was getting louder.

When I woke we were driving through the night down a road lined by trees that continued further than you could discern into the darkness. The sound which the tyres made on the road was smooth, even soothing, it was a decent road though we were far from anywhere it seemed, but above this noise was a constant ticking, the staccato sound of insects – moths and little fruit flies (and something else like rain), hitting the windscreen in their thousands. It was discernibly colder than before. I rubbed the window clear and looked out into a whiteness that struck me like a page from an old encyclopaedia I had loved as a child. The world beyond the road was being gently and unrelentingly buried by a drifting hail of ice. Snow, of all things, I thought, realising that I had prepared, in my way, to never see such a thing again. I felt something in me weaken its grip. One of the men turned from the front and handed me a plastic cup, with a red plastic straw sticking out of it and a small packet of something, biscuits. Then the man produced a rough woollen blanket and, twisting in his seat, began pulling it up over my knees.

Maybe I dozed off again. The world doesn’t hold your attention like it does when you’re young. They’ve come to show me snow, I thought, these two bastards, and it made about as much sense as anything then, I supposed, as I watched the world falling softly through the foggy glass.

When I woke again, the car had stopped and the men were shaking me. A weak morning sun was coming up coldly behind them and snow was drifting into the car through the open door. They helped me climb free of the back seat, slowly, and I heard myself complaining about my bones, though I barely had time to stand there shivering, wrapped in the blanket before I felt them take me by the arms and lead me out into what I supposed had once been a field. Now everything was dazzlingly white. The ground sunk and crunched beneath our feet and steam came pouring out of us. A wind was rising and we bent into it, the three of us, squinting and breathing.

They led me through the haze for a long time and then we stopped. This is where we leave you, they said. I turned to them, standing behind me and it seemed then, through the squall, as if they were joined somehow, like Siamese twins, or like a snake born with two heads.

That’s your direction they said, pointing toward more nothingness, keep going that way. They smiled at me and turned and I saw them disappear into the sleet-mist just like that. I stood there like an idiot for a minute, getting frostbite no doubt and not knowing what to do. I looked again at the direction they had indicated, and then, since what choice did I have, I tightened the blanket around my face and stepped forward. The snow was being blown about in circles now and even if I’d chosen to turn back I wouldn’t have known which way to take. That’s how I began to walk, slowly, through every pain. Sometimes a man doesn’t come out of a snowstorm.

I shoot you at the pond (Nathan Curnow)

2 Aug

* * *

for Kevin Brophy

ideas grow like goldfish

in proportion to the space they are given

you return home from your morning swim

still dripping from professor to friend, breakfast

begins slowly, questions are like muesli, managed

carefully at the kitchen table, believing in seeds

we commit to chewing, holding our spoons like pens

you consider me a poet and I emerge, still rough

after crashing in your spare room, studying the yard

your familiar themes—lemons, pigeons—the cats

pawing at the surface of your garden pond until

you spray them over the fence, a loaded water pistol

at the window sill—silence circles around again

tempted, I imagine you are partly feline, inquisitive

inscrutable, mischievous, your tail curling up like

a question mark, rising with the thrill of potential

so I shoot you at the pond because you ask me to

crouching like that at the edge, fishing for a symbol

as if to divulge this final ordeal of my training

or you are simply watching the goldfish swim

or I shoot you just for fun, we open our mouths

to a pool of silence, my friend, the idea


* * *

–> White Horse by Miles Allinson

A Very Big Bean (Eric Dando)

31 Jul

The caravan heats up like a little oven in the midday sun.  Jill is stretched out on the bed sweating.  She is too skinny.  Her little heart skips a beat inside its birdcage and catches up to her again.  Jill’s heart is like a skinny little bird: squawk, squawk, squawk.

The caravan is parked on top of the tallest, baldest hill around.  The cupboards are bare.  It will not rain.  And the sun.  It has baked the land into bread, the crust has all cracked open and blown away.

* * *

Jack is walking to The Butcher to sell their skinny cow and meets an old man, he’s just standing there on the road waiting for him.  The old man wants to buy Jack’s cow, but he doesn’t have any money, all he has is a bean.  He lifts the bean out of a sack.

‘Jesus,’ says Jack quietly, ‘that’s the biggest bean I’ve ever seen.’

Jack holds the bean up to the sun, sniffs it.  ‘Be careful,’ says the old man, stepping away a little, ‘it’s a magic bean!’

When Jack gets home with his magic bean Jill is very angry.  She was hoping for cash, she goes stomping through the caravan with her steel capped boots and Jack’s magic bean.  She wants to know what Jack was thinking.  ‘You’re a fucking idiot.’ she says, ‘We’re going to starve, fe fo fi fum, you can stick it in your ear mate, you can stick it up your bum.’

And she throws the bean out the window.

Jack follows the bean, covers it in cow shit, drowns it with the hose.  Dancing on the end of his shovel, singing…’Magic bean, you are my magic bean, the biggest bean I ever seen.’

* * *

Jack has swapped the family cow for a bean but it won’t flower till mid-summer and they are hungry.  Very very hungry.  And now he’s dancing.

It’s too much for Jill, she is looking at Jack through the window of the caravan, he can’t hear what she’s saying to him, she articulates each word slowly, she is saying ‘Jack you are a fucking idiot.  A fucking idiot.  Jack you are a fucking idiot.’

Jill has been seeing The Butcher on the sly.  She is sick of Jack’s stupid mystical shit.  She’s fucking sick of it.

* * *

The Butcher is putting his apron back on, Jill leans over and whispers something to him and The Butcher gives her something wrapped up in newspaper.

She unwraps it when she gets home, but is disappointed.  A cow’s liver and a note: ‘Sweets for the sweet, sweet meat, sweet meat, sweet meat.’  She has no idea what it’s supposed to mean, it scares her.  She was talking about money when she was whispering in his ear.  Idiots.  She was surrounded by idiots.  She buries The Butcher’s liver under the bean shoot when Jack isn’t looking at it.

* * *

The bean had been growing again.  It always grew the most when Jack wasn’t looking at it.  Jack deliberately didn’t look at it all day and it was already as big as the caravan.

* * *

Jack climbed up into the bean stalk and now Jill can’t get him down.  ‘Jack,’ she shouts, ‘get down here, you miserable cunt, go and get a fucking job.’

She potters around below with her watering can and her empty birdcage, planting daffodils and ox tongues and lamb’s hearts around the stalk of the bean.

* * *

It is growing on him.  Jack inches upwards, ever upwards, tangled angelically on the tips of shooting nodes, smiling his wide idiot grin.  Tendrils gently twine themselves around Jacks wrists and tighten. Others bind his legs.  They could have ripped him in half, pulled him apart like a Christmas bon-bon. But this is a gentle magic noble bean.

And this is the exciting magical part:  Jack’s co2 is absorbed by the stigmata in the leaves of the bean, o2 from the leaves and stem is absorbed into his alveoli.  The bean becomes him and Jack becomes the bean.  The sun makes it happen.  Nitrogen nodules the size of footballs anchor themselves onto the roots of the bean far below Jill’s feet.

Jack has no idea when the bean will stop growing.  Look down Jack, go on, look down.  Jesus that’s a long way down.

* * *

The Giant’s house is on top of a cloud.  Surrounded by blackberry canes.  Blackberries will grow anywhere.  There are rabbits in the blackberries, there are foxes eating rabbits in the blackberries.  Weeds within weeds within weeds.

Jack is riding on bean shoots, they take him right over the blackberries and foxes and rabbits to The Giant’s house.  Weeeee…

They drop him gently onto the front step, curled up in a bundle of flower buds.  Beautiful, it was magic and noble and gentle.

* * *

The Giant is sitting on the end of a huge wooden table with his head in his hands, listening to terribly sad songs on the magic harp.  It has turned him into a depressive housebound fool.  The Giant’s tears flow out in little waterfalls over the blackberries, making them sour and dry and unpalatable. Only the foxes will eat them.

The Giant has a chicken that lays golden eggs.  It’s a magic chicken.  The golden eggs are also magic.

* * *

Jack is an idiot.  It is true.  He only climbed the bean because it was there, he had no idea that it would take him to riches beyond belief.  Stealing the harp and the magic chicken was easy.  Jack just walked in and took them.  He didn’t even see The Giant sitting there.  The Giant was so big that Jack did not see him.

Listening to the harp for so long has made The Giant soft and melancholy and sentimental.  The Giant didn’t chase him.  The Giant was a poofta. The Giant was weak as piss.

* * *

The Butcher is showing Jill his butcher’s shop window, sticking it into her like half a stuck spider against the bean stalk.  They work up quite a rhythm until Jill is hit on the head by the first bean of the season.  It knocks her unconscious.  The Butcher runs away in fright.  ‘Beans!’ he screams,  ‘Great big falling beans!’

Jack climbs down from the bean shoot with the harp that sings and the magic chicken, sees Jill lying in the dirt bleeding.  Takes her into the caravan and bathes her head, puts her feet up.

And when Jill wakes up, the first thing she sees is the suitcase full of lovely golden eggs, her face bathed in unholy apricot.

‘I love you Jack,’ she says. ‘I love you Jack, I love you Jack.’

* * *

Jill never mentions The Butcher.  Jack is a trustworthy soul and suspects nothing.  The Butcher is not coming back; he’s afraid of falling beans.  Jill will not go into town, she has become a vegetarian.  She’s put on a healthy layer of fat.  She sits in the chicken run and waits for another one to be laid.  Each new egg is carefully wrapped in cloth and buried under the caravan with the other ones.

Jack saves the seeds from the giant bean.  He swaps one for a cow and plants the rest in the garden.  Beans are a good crop before corn.  Jack is hunting around for giant corn seeds.  He talks to every old man he meets on the road.  All Jill does is eat beans and look at her magic golden eggs.

* * *

Jill digs up her secret treasure trove of magic golden eggs but the rain has got to them and they are rotten.  They smell like a packet of matches.  She crouches in the coop, whispering encouragement to the magic chicken: ‘Lay.’ she says.   ‘Lay you fucker.  Lay.’

* * *

–>Tree of Man, is art contributed by Miles Allinson.

Light Heart Girl (Miles Allinson)

30 Jul