Tuesday, 31 May 2011


This is how bone appears:
Stripped of the superstructures of flesh.

All light is unseen until some substance
Throws it back into our faces.
Some light, even in reflection,
Passes through us.

The eye and it’s mind are ignorant.

Small mutations of energy
Change the nature of being
While immutable bone creaks
Under the weight of the living.

Why should we look, as we do,
Through what shape we possess,
Into its scaffolding of support;
Or even, between, into pulsing organs
Which have no words for us?

Soul and spirit are another light,
Energy on the spectrum somewhere,
Reflected or refracted just the same
By what we believe to be real.

The mind and it’s eyes are ignorant.

The invisible shapes the visible:
Other energies warp around us
And show us the bones of the world,
The ligatures of earth and heaven.

But blood, like light, is shed, wounds picked over:
We tear ourselves apart to look beneath the skin.
© BH 2011

Another one for the Web Cycle (no, not pedal-powered cyberspace). Andrew McCallum Crawford kindly put it on his blog at http://andrewmccallumcrawford.blogspot.com/. If you're interested, the Web Cycle (dating back to 1996) is here. It was finally completed in 2014. Bit of a marathon but, hey, what's new?

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


This is the way the world ends.
Only for you, only for you.

Why take it with you when you go,
When Angels drag you naked into Heaven?
Why remember it at all?

Do you believe every other living thing
Is obscured by human shadow?
You, who believe the shadow falls
From our every flaw and shape?

If we are black-hearted
Or have lost our way,
Those that remain,
Might carry on.
The beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
Whose stewardship
We have steadfastly ignored
Will take back the world
We stole so lightly.

But you are no better than the rest of us,
With our squinting heathen faces
Masks of bewilderment beneath your rising.

Do you believe that the world
Can return to Hell
Because God has called you up,
Proved you right?

Do you believe the Earth of no further use
As you get your reward
And disbelievers their just desserts?

Were I to believe as you do
I would have words with God:
‘This is not on,’ I would say,
‘If Heaven is a place for the smug and selfish
As it surely seems to be,
Let me alone
While the world shatters.

‘I would rather have no part of this
Stepping on the bodies of the foolish,
Clambering over the shoulders
Of a million sinners,
To save myself,
Abandoning even one innocent life
To prove that I, myself, am free of sin.’

 © BH 2011

It's not that I'm fulminating. I've always been fascinated by the paradox of salvation, when goodness buys you a ticket to some Paradise that is denied to others. When your goal's beyond, perhaps giving up on this life and its spiritual equivalent of the great unwashed is no great sacrifice. What then can you give up to save another soul? If not life (being a mere passing phase) perhaps it's that place in the hereafter? 

Saturday, 14 May 2011


The suit was perfect. The way it hugged the shape of his body. He pulled the jacket a little tighter, all the better to feel its folds touch his skin. Velvet. Smooth. Yet with a slight prickling as of hessian on ecclesiastical flesh.

‘Not a hair shirt,’ he mused, licking his dry lips. His glance passed over the box lid, the quick-start guide, the user manual. His smile, more smug than gleeful, was a contortion as he reached for the gloves and slid them on.

Gloves first and then the stockings. They were calf-length and slipped easily inside the elasticated cuffs of the off-grey trousers. There were no shoes. He would not need shoes. Finally the mask. Gimp-like or, more to his taste, super-heroic with a firm mouth-slot around which bio-fibroid hems formed a pair of surrogate lips. Only his eyes were free to the air, his eyes and nostrils.

On the jacket, to the left of the row of Velcro straps there was a green plastic panel. He plugged in the trailing nest of cables, long and snake-like, they formed a tangle of multicoloured vipers which in turn ended in a single tail. USB or ISO 1394, it was all the same. He connected the cable to the L-box and leaned back.

‘No need for screens,’ was what he thought. His flat-screen showed the control console anyway. ‘So what,’ he told himself.

Waiting to be upstreamed, he skimmed the manual. Introduction. The Love Suit. Dating version: 3.4.1. Approved by the Church of Jesus Mohammed of the Latterday ePostles. Nothing unrepentable could happen. This suit was safe for all manoeuvres permitted within the bounds of public and private decency.

He pressed the stud to activate the congress-call. He felt secure as any god-befriended boy could feel. This suit was not intimate-equipped. There were no pant-trons, no bodily particle accelerators, he wore no electrolytic pouch or inserts. He was excited nonetheless.

The screen blanked and then her avatar, Betty Boop of the 21st Century, in cat-suit and pearls, came in-window. She spoke and he heard her inside the ear-folds, a sweet and tongueful whisper. The manual fell from his hands as he felt the cool dampness of her lips run from his ear to to his mouth in one smooth and far-off kiss. His bio-fibroids contracted in that moment’s passion. He regretted the suit's lack of inner mouth-parts.

He felt her arms around his body as his own stretched out and circled an invisible waist. He could feel her roundness in the fumble-pads. His palm receptors told him she was there. Upwards they crossed mountains of blankness till he touched her face. Some areas were always out of reach on a first date.

They wrestled on regardless. He with his eagerness and his suit rippling with embraces from half a continent away. She audible only in his inner ear, equally enfolded in a Love Suit of her own: tight, electric and palely pink.

This, he told himself between kisses, is love. Love in the digital age, he murmured, as his fingers found her somewhere in the empty space between his open arms and the glinting screen where readouts scrolled their way to some ecstatic cyber heaven.

© BH 2011

Inspired by a two-day conference on telemedicine and the recent invention of an internet kissing device. Ahh, bless!