Poetry by Tim Frank

The Reading Report

I can’t read! I say as I vomit another book onto my computer screen and scuffle with the classics in a weathered trench. It’s a form of torture much like gold-plated jewellery posing as quantum theory, with less copper wire hooked around the throat.

My hands are soaked in bleach, staining the printed page—I need a holiday, though from what? I already own this city but I’ve yet to knock down the libraries.

If I’d grown up in a house, had a mantelpiece, swallowed solids even, maybe things would be different. But I have to face the facts—boiling texts in bubbling water is an agent of death.

So, instead I think of the Fibonacci sequence and stare it down like a pugilist, but digits are hopeless—they fall from skyscrapers and fly like aimless honey bees. No, I need to train my eye for viscous fluids, jump onto a random page and race through some counterfeit paragraphs.

My friends all read in French, despite their politics, and some watch exploitation flicks streamed on the roof of a taxi cab. The depth and complexity of an elevator ad can be too much for me to take, like a sweaty tin of cider—bear with me, I’m just reality testing.

I have a severe cold and I blame it on my encounter with a girl reading a twisted pamphlet on the bus. She rattled my brain and bulldozed my chakras—yet all she did was turn the front cover. We could have been lovers, I’m sure, but I need a girl with hair on her arms and someone to admit fiction is ugly.

So, I sit alone in my room watching spiders with vertigo bungee around my books, bound by the dumbstruck print that questions my sanity. I can’t stop adding to the pile though. I need a surfboard and a fighting kite to take my mind off the scar of a successful denouement.

I continue to fund my book habit and dump rusty coins into third world parking meters trained to make you feel naive. Hand me your gravity, please, so I can regain my balance.

When I finally do extract a book from my teeth, I’ll sneeze big band music and dance along a wrinkled spine. I’ll humiliate Pavlov’s dog with a well-placed bookmark, and wrap my head around this young adult shit people keep talking about.

Crucified by the Press

So, you’re sculpted in the shade of celebrity, moulded in the midst of conspiracy—maybe it’s best you skip the hair gel and stab your fingers with a compass instead. Admit it, your nerves are shot and your OCD has ruined you for braille.

Cry against the dying of the paparazzi light, get dirty with sticky thighs, eat your legacy in a series of full moon segments (they are always the weirdest). Unfortunately, the fog no longer follows your snaking arteries and soap dodgers are banned, like prose in poor taste. No problem—just kill your focus group immediately.

Despite exposure across many platforms, reality will always slice your tendons, and walking will be the least of your worries—think of your fat wheezing children reared on hits of spilled tea.

Maybe you’re an anxious father let loose on the world with real estate beyond sense, beyond beauty, beyond God, but a simple headline can peel back your skin—raw, burned. What do you want from me, you say as you slip on your shades and take off all of your clothes. Yes, your body is immaculate, but the trashcan disciples find fault in your pinkie toe and quickly log off.

After a long sabbatical you’re in demand once again, your opinions are a box of fresh pears delivered from Israel and your name sparks prison breaks.

You like to think you can catch pigeons on the busy highway with tweezers and a flamethrower, but you find yourself on a ledge, losing your virginity as beads of sweat take out pedestrians below.

Of course, it’s all a ruse—you’re a professional with a whip, waiting for red carpets to smother your family with oxygen masks.

No one can say your small intestine isn’t tight enough and that the ulcer in your mouth can’t draw a crowd. Though to be safe, slavery’s always an option and so is tax fraud, just don’t forget to wear that dress.

Doubles Run Amok

The doubles aren’t twins, they’re more furious than that—not desolate, but strung out with nails. They swap sick handshakes and burrow into the garden for tennis balls like dogs, then set up a sales routine. They sleep in da Vinci time slots, until suicidal tendencies become joyrides in slow moving traffic.

They use daggers to sign contracts for big corps selling small goods, like fingerprints, flower petals, and ghost ships stuffed into pillows.

In February when the weather breaks, the doubles threaten dollar bills and croak like lizards in the sun. Meals are sanctioned among countries hanging by their knees and the doubles gobble up their fair share of loaded machines. Soon they will torment six children and fire subordinates who fly beyond alien skies.

The doubles don’t live together in a river full of war, but they want to buy a house on Lobster Island where nightmares of club kids smoking H are rinsed behind a cardboard door.

They feel like they’re sinking in quicksand as the cigarettes slowly take hold. Maybe they should roll the dice for a pregnant pause or revise for exams with occult prayers. Maybe they should dig a ditch and bury my daughter with her bijou cerebral cortex—big shoes to fill, but the gamblers will thank you for the weddings doused in hot butter.

The doubles used to have a schoolgirl crush on a bouncer in the stinking recesses of the city, but now they can’t resist wearing dust masks and bulletproof vests, because he can’t lift forty pounds worth of Apple products. Poor bastard, he was so close but no amount of lemon squash can save him.

Some people don’t believe the doubles are doubles, that they are, in fact, an intricate web of lies, living undercover like sleeper cells. But they are not.

Right now, they are sitting on the curb, ignoring the cocaine lights barging by as they consume slaps on the face, drenched by fat puddles. And actually, they couldn’t be happier.

Tim Frank

Twitter: @TimFrankquill

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