In a dream I’m walking down Grafton Street in Dublin with the noon-day sun hung frozen midst the night-time skyway and a breeze the colour of London Town kneading subtly with phantom fingers the nape of my neck.
From the cracks atween the kerb-stones measures of melody bleed out o’er the pavings. Vagrants sit hunched around meagre pyres in the corners of ill-lit alleyways. Old queens gabble wordlessly amongst themselves with backs against the shuttered-up storefronts. Youngsters with noses all glue-fume-scorch huddle about the flick’rin glow of the streetlamps, coughing foulest aphorisms at other, sneering ‘hind fag-burn-potted hands. ECT-fried preachers holler in tongues of screeching ‘lectric revelation.
From an upstairs window a wave of female laughter spills out onto the street. A busker strums an out-of-tune guitar and sings of Tuesday mornings spent puking Monday nights o’er sweat-slick bed-sheets. Rhymes fall from his face like dead flies. Spent verses pool in black-water puddles about his tip-tappin’ feet.
A woman in a purple cardigan flaffs a hand at me and says “Crippled and broken beasts they brought to The Lord, so they did. Lambs half mad with disease, donkeys with the hind legs shattered, calves with half the faces off from the wolves, this is the class o’ stock they offered, and expecting for that the full of His radiance then upon them?” She gives a humourless laugh. “My arse hole, says He.”
Voices flitter past me like ticker-tape - A dockyard chorus singing Abide With Me. A lass from Lucan saying “No, go to London, it’ll be good for you…”A fella with a feigned Montana accent sighing “I wish I could quit you.” A friend from school as I imagine he sounds now sighing at the static on a TV screen. Billy Bragg singing St Swithin’s Day. A priest yelling at me way back when for waking him out his sleep at half four in the mornin’ on account of Christ spoke to me from midst the clanging of a meat-slicer in a butcher’s shop. Me clearing my throat and mumbling at a too-warm coffee - “My name’s Aaron and I’m an alcoholic...”
Round about me, the airways hang pregnant with bellyfuls of summer, 2005 – eyeing the lads and lassies stood cocked o’ jaws and titled o’ heads on the Ha’penny bridge, eyes all whispering “Fancy a jag o’ thon, son?” Savage purple glow off Harry Street, glow bright enough to singe everything else black for years thereafter. Litres of possibility poured back into the Liffey, a ticket to County Antrim burning the arse out my trousers.
Red-lit barrooms to my left all a-shingle with bop and bother. Troupes of heat-warped teenagers gawking dead eyed from the interiors of parked cars. Folks in bedsits draped in reels of cassette-tape all stutt’rin beats and pitch-shifted voices and samples from TV soundtracks, the ghost of William Burroughs haunting the gaps atween their fingers.
Comes stumbling from the sidelines raging, screeching Lazarus. “I was lain with angels!” he roars. “Angels stitched from strands of fractured white light all a-shimmer, angels who kissed me like the first rays of sun kissed the fresh-moulded Earth!” The howl of infinity from somewheres ‘thin his chest. “On the shoulders of the ocean I was raised!” Weeping into blistered, blue-grey hands he falls to his knees. “Angels…”
A film projected onto the door of a red-brick townhouse details an orgy of hysterical creation erupting in St Stephen’s Green - Men and women paw at the leaves of trees, rubbing wet hands back and forth along the branches, the bark all throbbing and shuddering. Great arcing ropes of rhyme spray from the uppermost heights of a climaxing poplar. A couple dive naked into a lake, emerging with slick fistfuls of tangerine-tinted prose. A hedgerow spurts sonnets over a man in a red shawl, Calliope weaving in and around his legs in bursts of half-glimpsed faces and half-heard song.
Overhead, a brooding cloudscape smoulders, sundry curious forms oscillating erratically therein; wolf heads snapping, monks ravaged with leprosy, archers with bows held aloft…
A woman in a thinning leopard-print coat approaches passers-by with head lowered and hands all fidgeting and eyes fixed on the scuffed-blunt toes of her shoes. A man holds in his arms a lame, whimpering collie, whispering into its ear – “S’alright, dote, s’alright. Nearly home so we are, nearly home.”
Towards Nassau Street I wander, encountering thereon a group of bald-headed women with mouths all a-mutter and palms pressed in prayer and the reek of the psychiatric hospital rising up off their clothes in carmine streaks.
Chards of memory glistening in the air like morning dew on a hedgerow – Fingers digging into walls. Slapping hands off of the pill dispensary shutters - “I need somethin’ to put me to sleep you bastards!” Duelling Christs bare-foot on wet gravel, scowling at other, daring – “Go on, heal the lame, fucker. Prove yourself.” Shaving my head with a BIC razor, blood pissin’ down the cheeks. Woman crying on account of her son stole all her money. She has no son.
Folks sauntering past from over Trinity College direction, faces obscured by the murmur of the traffic. In the fumes I see a house in London with no ghosts nor memories nor regrets. Stairs I never fell down, mirrors I never scowled into, a reflection I’ve never cursed for all the dirty drunken filthy tramp bastards of the day and night. Bed-sheets I never wept under, toilets I’ve tossed not an inch of sin towards…
London Town writhing back my eyes like a thousand rat-tails entwined, and Dublin pulsing neath my feet like a bag of knotted arteries.