the gates of hell and the blue balloon
as fierce as a
stood guard by
someone came with pram,
the push chair not the overlooked group
with a blue balloon tied on to it, floating above.
one of the dogs
tried to smell
the blue balloon.
both the balloon
and hound darted back.
the hound jumped up
pulling at the lead,
causing everyone to be alarmed,
then laugh about it.
it made me feel
easier about things.
at least I wasn’t
afraid of a
we were all going
why do they need security here!
if they don’t let in drinkers
who will they let in,
even with a blue balloon.
I’d figured it out,
all I needed was a blue balloon!
or it was all a con
and I was really going up
instead of down.
there’s a man, lives in my street
who lowers the tone of the neighborhood.
me dad says so.
he lives on his own and wears fifties suits
without a tie, which is a bit odd
always looks like his mind is elsewhere
on holiday, somewhere raining, maybe.
which is bit odd.
and does not work and does not even own a car
just a cheap tatty bike
which is bit odd.
he even plays classical music and sings to himself
sometimes, which is very very odd.
I know he lowers the tone because I’ve seen him
going out, furtively, in a big black coat
and black woolly hat in the small hours
cycling to the neighborhood tone volume dial
at the end of our street.
he turns it right down, the blighter!
when everyone’s asleep and not looking.
see sparks fizzing from diodes
hear a distant crackle and hum
and crazy man laughter.
me dad says, they should keep it padlocked
or house prices will plummet,
which is not very odd,
but understandable, really.
a seagull was at the window
looking into the hospital,
as my mother lay dying.
it moved from the left to right,
closer and closer to my mother.
seemed to be looking in on how humans die,
love and grieve.
had a Prozac dream last night,
a seagull was outside,
I pressed my hand up against the pane,
as though I could feel its feathers, through it.
the seagull as if knowing this
pressed its body up against the glass
as if it wanting me to touch it, feel it,
feel its living feathers.
maybe it was seeing the seagull
as my mother lay dying
that lodged in my mind, as an image of death waiting, watching.
my mother is now someplace else
where I can not touch her
or see her flying as free as a sleepless bird,
as free as the last death.
toward the end of the dream the seagull put its wing
through a crack in the window, a small gap
and I touched its long wings.
it was like touching death
and feeling its flapping wings
trying to escape, trying to come home.
as if my mind could finally
feel the reality of the situation.
the reality of death along with its beauty.
it was as though the glass that separated us
was not just physical but mental
as I have not cried yet, the funeral is still to come.
I pray and hope that I will cry then,
even with my Prozac mind.
feel very alone, because she was always there,
no matter what the hell
I was going through, always there.
if I could put my mothers love into a box
it would be Tardis like
there would be some winning betting slips,
red wine included
along with lots of love, hope, empathy and humour
and a strong desire
for a better world,
still to come.
we sat opposite each other
do you believe in god she says
well there must be one
but only shows herself when drunk
and at end of tether like most of the time
and has a sense of humour and pain
how long have you been afflicted she says
hell, I don’t know I say, it’s always happening to me
like something stuck in the head
that needs to come out
do you think you can be cured
well hell yes, there must be some way I say
but you always seem to drink
when the affliction hits she says
yes I say
the drink seems to help it come out
like a waterfall in the spring
sided by stiff moss
but soft to touch like a woman’s skin
smelling like a brand new sepia sandalwood
newspaper you have not read
but know already what it says inside
ok ok she says I get the picture
do phrases come to you upon sleeping
yeh that’s the worst time
do you ever get images
in your mind she says
yeh, all the time I say
is it to do with authority she says
hell, everything’s to do with authority I say
you don’t like authority she says
hell, I just ignore authority I say
how did you feel as a kid she says
little I say
do you think your affliction comes from pain
yeh drunk pain, love pain, grief pain
maybe they’re the same pain I say
I mean we are the only animal that knows
it will die, apart from elephants I say
has it to do with conforming she says
yeh conforming stinks I say
are you worried about love she says
hell yes I say love is suffering
love is pain
love is dreaming about the same
person every night
even though you have been apart
for 24 years
always dreaming the same type of dream
like she was dead and you want her back
but the dream keeps on saying the same thing
that no matter how much you dream
the love is a spent force
between the two of us
while also screaming
you miss her
like you will miss breathing
so the two of you were close she says
for eight years we were like Bonnie and Clyde
on a crime free love spree, inseparable
like fish and chips with
salt and vinegar I say
apart from when she
went over to Russia I say
so what happened she says
she wasn’t happy with my affliction I say
so she realized she says
yeh, but it had not gone fully blown
by that time I say
fully blown she says
fully blown I say
so I let her go I say
you let her go she says
she used to wear these gloves
these black lacy gloves I say
black lacy gloves she says
yeh I say
Richard Atkinson is the writer of Two full stops from gravity (Pretend Genius). He can be seen in and around Newcastle performing at different open mics, taking pictures of pigeons and humans as well as picking timely fights with the police.