Joshua Comyn


“A house full of locked doors… without passages…sealed as close as if they had been sealed with wax…”
(Angela Carter)


a correlate of being and its disruption                               (of the correlate? of the being?)


lines that never themselves (other each) will intersect:
horizontal blinds, vertical bars of the bed’s backrest,
the perpendiculars of her buttoned blouse front
the side parting in Sam’s short hair

                              “meeting in secret so we can be secretive”

lines that do and will themselves (other each) intersect:
rectangular window frames, horizontal and vertical
intersecting diagonals of his and her back,
the parabola of her left breast, the diagonal of her abdomen
the curves of her eyebrows, nose and mouth

                                                                                                                        “I’ll lick the stamps” she says


“Are you unhappy?”
                                                                                                                        (Tom Cassidy)

Sure I will she says and with a knife saws off his head
               - for forty thousand dollars cash.

And to the garden a robin came, red breasted, the gardener’s friend
               - for forty thousand dollars cash.

The dead uprose and walked the earth
               - for forty thousand dollars cash.

The sun fizzled out like a wetted wick
               - for forty thousand dollars cash.

The car the road the thwarted urge.

The rain outside the Bates Motel.


I didn’t intend to sleep so long.
I almost had an accident from sleepiness…
I couldn’t keep my eyes open…
I didn’t intend to sleep all night…
                                                                                                                         (Marion Crane)




hey there baby    call me larry    you know you want to    call me larry    I’m here for you   
when you need me you just call me when you need me here’s my number
when you need me dial my number ask for harry waiting for you at the station
waiting patient with my nephew name of sally it’s a girl’s name but he knows it
don’t need to tell him coz he knows it the kids all tease him and he knows it not a dumb
one spell his own name if he has to doesn’t like it but he knows how to work a tractor
plow the ground deep from the waste up he’s a shy boy turn his back while
you’re undressing never peeping in the mirror though he might do with a girls name
have a right to never harm you never shout at never cus you stick a pin through
coz he loves you

black                                                             purple                                                             blue


“a quiet little motel, tucked away off the main highway and as you can see perfectly harmless looking”
(Alfred Hitchcock)

In the second room there’s a tree growing and hanging from a branch a swing with a flat wooden seat. It is only when you consider the lines – the twin verticals of the rope, the parallel horizontals of the branch and seat – that you notice the window that is the swing and then it is you see the garden first through the window and then all around it. Imagine it summer, imagine it green, imagine it warm. Close your eyes, open them. See another rope - single this time, drawn perpendicular to another branch. Then see papa dangling there like an autumn leaf.

In the third room the wind is so tempestuous that few return from it with their clothes unruffled. There are accounts too of people having their scalps scoured clean off their skulls such is the winds ferocity.

In the fourth room there only ever exists one person at a time. The walls between the fourth room and the third room are thin.

In the fifth room there are always five people. Sometimes there are less or more people outside the room - that is, less or more people standing outside the door of the room waiting to go inside of it. But once inside there are always five.

In the sixth room the plug hole in the shower is unusually large. Once when Mrs. Perlkee spent the night there with her husband (before the highway moved away), a big black rat squeezed up through the hole and sat in the corner watching her. Mrs. Perlkee tried to scream, but her voice stuck in her throat. She tried to leave the shower but the rat’s eyes held hers transfixed. Mr. Perlkee, her husband, had fallen asleep in bed reading the newspaper. When he woke up the next morning he heard the shower running and thought it strange that his wife should take two showers in quick succession when there had been nothing but sleeping in between. When she’d been in the shower for twenty minutes, Mr. Perlkee decided it was high time she should get out. He knocked on the door but she didn’t answer. He called her name (Doris) but she didn’t answer, so he opened the door (he was her husband after all) and looked inside. There was Mrs. Perlkee cowering in the corner of the shower, shivering with her lips a deep blue while the water ran on regardless and freezing cold. In the corner opposite Mrs. Perlkee a big black sewer rat squatted watching her. Then it turned its black rat eyes on him. Well, Mr. Perlkee just about lost his wits right there and then, started screaming like a woman, took hold of Mrs. Perlkee by the arm and yanked her out the shower and into the bedroom, snatched up the keys to the car, put his wife inside it and sped away never to return again. The rat meanwhile had followed them across the room dragging its fat wet body over the carpet to the door. And there it sat watching while Mr. and Mrs. Perlkee drove away, never to return again.

In the seventh room the curtains are faded.

In the eighth room there’s a rocking horse painted vivid brown, white, black and red. It looks new but it isn’t.

In the ninth room a single, blonde strand of hair has been placed inside one of six drawers. When a person enters the room for the first time they must guess which one of the drawers the hair has been placed inside. When they leave the room they must guess the same again.

In the tenth room you notice an almost imperceptible breeze blowing. It seems to want to lift you – as it would the curtains (were it strong enough) as it would your hair (if you had any).

In the eleventh room there’s an empty space that remains so even when you’re standing there, even when you’re shouting in your loudest voice.

In the twelfth room the carpet cannot help but catch your eye – your eye cannot help but trace the pattern there. When they open the door it is twelve years since and you are emaciated and trying to trace the threads that would lead you back to yourself.


you should have seen the blood                                                             in the first room

the shower was on there was no sound                                                             in the first room

you eat like a bird                                                                                          in the first room

the expression ‘eats like a bird’ is a falsity                                                        in the first room

a man should have a hobby                                                                       in the first room

a hobby’s supposed to pass the time not fill it                                                in the first room

is your time so empty?                                                                                 in the first room

do you go out with friends?                                                                                    in the first room

a boy's best friend is his mother                                                                in the first room

you’ve never had an empty moment in your entire life                             in the first room

people never run away from anything                                                    in the first room

we scratch and claw… we never budge an inch                                               in the first room

I was born in mine                                                                                            in the first room

I don’t mind it anymore                                                                                            in the first room

she’s ill                                                                                                                    in the first room

after my father died                                                                                                     in the first room

and the way he died                                                                                           in the first room

a son is a poor substitute for a lover                                                                     in the first room

she’d be alone up there                                                                                     in the first room

the fire would go out                                                                                                    in the first room

it would be cold and damp                                                                               in the first room

like a grave                                                                                                                       in the first room

someplace                                                                                                                in the first room

the laughing and the tears                                                                                           in the first room

the cruel eyes studying you                                                                              in the first room

she’s as harmless as one of those stuffed birds                                                  in the first room

water on the floor                                                                                                  in the first room

someone left the bath running                                                                                  in the first room

we all go a little mad sometimes                                                                       in the first room

Haven’t you?


Green velvet, red silk, grey wool in the first room. Talked with you in the heat, sweat running down the walls, blood pulsing inside you warm as an oven. Learned to love you on Saturday, fell clean out on Tuesday. Train tracks twisting like snakes in the heat. Snakes selling handkerchiefs in the midday sun. When you climb the staircase and she comes running to meet you and you tumble down together like Calvin and Hobbes because her enthusiasm is clumsy beyond reason. Don’t you feel a little pang of something? Say of guilt? I’ve taken my dark point and placed it somewhere secret. Waiting for the treasure hunt to begin. Waiting for the starting gun. An enormous room filled with golden flax. Promised I’d spin it all. Promised the little man I would. Promised him the world. Promised him my dark point. Hoping you’ll find it first. Promised I’d weave the velvet gushing green into the sky. Promised I’d spin the silk red ogre. Promised I’d weave the wool grey gatsby sorrow. Promised I would. Read all about it in the morning newspaper. Like I promised. Coffee stain on the collar oh I do declare! Terror through the key hole, fright that flees before you. I told it all in pieces and lost the cipher. She teases, but she doesn’t know just how much it hurts. When the sun came smiling we were standing ready as cannons. Stole the monkey’s tail, watched it wailing. Hot tears in a teacup. Bequeathed them. Wrung them out of an old cotton shirt. Sordid to think above this. Walk the plank, plunge right in. No one to catch you or farewell you. In my bed tumbled dreams of sleepers stretch interminable avenues and featureless. Stone walls of the old city help me! Pale flowers of the wall paper save you! Tried praying all of last night, heard the prayers fall back to the floor with a sick dull thud. And again when you speak. Words tumbling out like a cataract. Saying I ought never to act. Saying except in such a way. Saying that my maxim should become a universal law. For you. For me. And the scores of others. That never for pleasure. That never for joy. But only ever. In accordance ever. With the law eternal. Universal. The sordid above. Perverse heaven. A lying leap upward and a storm of writs descend. When the time comes. With a comb with a corset with an apple said the mirror. When the plague comes. With a blood with a murrain with a locust said the river. With an ague in the bones and a fever in the blood I enter the spinning room. Stand naked. Find my dark point and bequeath it. To all and forever. Standing naked in the same room. In the same time. Of the same tract. Drive the wheel. Hear the shuttle. Then with a gushing with an ogre with a sorrow with my green jacket and my red scarf and my grey hat I step out (going under) into the night.

Joshua Comyn is a student at the University of Melbourne conducting research into the relationship between information and literature.
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