Marcus Slease was born in Portadown, N.Ireland. They are the author of eight books of poetry from micro presses. Their writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, featured in Best British Poetry 2015, translated into Polish, and has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies in the U.K., Ireland, U.S., Norway, and Poland including: Tin House, The Honest Ulsterman, Helikopter, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. They have made their home in such places as Turkey, Poland, Italy, South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom – experiences that inform their art and writing. Currently, they live in East London (U.K.) but will move to Madrid Spain in August 2016. They are working on a hybrid collection of short stories and prose poems and an experimental slip stream immigrant memoir. Visit them online at: www.marcusslease.weebly.com and on twitter: @postpran
At the olde Cheshire Cheese there are tiny rooms. Snug rooms. We go to one room, and
it is full. Musty but also perfumed with Irish Canadian ladies. What’s the Occassion. We
are there for eggs in a jar. We began at the cockpit. Another small room. There are rooms
within rooms and we can go there.
Far from me: the tonka trucks soda bread and egg yolks. Red rock pilgrim trails and
broad hats. The crawdads in the irrigation ditches. Peaches mown into the grass. The
gelled hair and choked tie of Sunday mornings. My name. My initials. My country. The
future the past and the present.
I started in a wet country and lived, for many years, in the desert. Then many other
countries after that. Now I am back in the wet country with many small rooms. We have
10 minutes until closing. Almost every pub closes early in this mega city. The beer is fizzy
and does not go down easily. We leave the crowded small room and enter a smaller
room. It is the holding room. The last room before the street. The last chance room.
There are more Irish Canadians. And two boys. Ginger haired. Drinking cocktails. We
drink till the very end when there is no longer any time left. Mike contracts and expands
his hands. His hands are an air accordion and his mouth is moving. After three whiskies
we don’t know what he is saying. We say goodbye to the young boys. They are studying
chemistry somewhere in the city.
The streets are almost empty. We pause to look at St Paul’s. St. Paul’s is a beacon. It is
hard to follow the names of streets. They are tucked away. High up. Or non existent.
Mike says he must travel an hour on the dark blue line back to his hotel. In the west. In
the hotel all the vending machines are turned away and face the wall. He says they are
ashamed. The walls are flaking and the carpet is blood red. Never hoovered. Old
prostitutes and workmen sit on stools with lagers. They don’t clean the pipes.
Alexander has to go back to Elephant and Castle. But only for a while longer. He is
engaged and has bought a house, in the deep south of London. There is no straight
south. No S postcode. There is only SE or SW. In many areas there is east but no west.
The streets around St Paul’s are a labyrinth.
I am trying to navigate my life through movement. Get back in touch with my body.
Sitting too long in one place pickles the joints. It is good to move freely from one place
to the next and not lose all your energy. It is good to stop and enjoy things more slowly.
My new naked shoes are soft leather. They give plenty of space for the toes. I leave my
foot on the ground, momentarily, before rocking forward to the balls of my feet. This
gives more potential energy. My feet are snug and move quickly.
There are some shiny pink petals. Very large. Maybe ten times our size. They are made of
steel and glass. There are some shiny dinosaurs with horns. The same size as the pink
flowers. Also made of steel and glass. Everything is steel and glass I say. It was better
before I say. Better before what you say. The dinosaurs surround the pink flowers.
We lift our neck like a crane. All those lights without anyone inside. It makes me feel
lonely I say. A little like those scenes in a Hopper painting I say. No. Not like that you say.
There is no woman with a hat, no all night cafe, no sturdy wooden chair, teacup, no shaky
hand about to lift the teacup, no human contemplating lost love. There is no love. It is
devoid of the human touch. Yes, I say. Devoid of the human touch. What is the human
touch I ask. Hmmmm you say. These buildings were built by machines who were built by
machines who were built by the human hand. They are two or more stages removed
from the human hand. Yes, I say. We have to bring back the human hand.
I stand on our balcony, in the cheap seats, with a Lucky Strike, looking at the glowing
towers of HSBC and Morgan Stanley and sometimes, if the sun has made an appearance,
which is rare, the solar panels light up above us. We have many plants lining our
windows. We bring them to the bath to change their soil. We feed them superfood. We
want them to grow up big and tall.