David Greenslade

Like Bucephalus the bulldog clip was once afraid of its own enormous head – spooked, until someone gently turned it towards the sun and its shadow disappeared. Delicately tamed, the clip’s sprung steel, curved into a cylinder, moves like a steam train around the office – gathering coal, forests, rivers and clothes into one firmly bound, convenient heap. Easily startled, when the clip’s released an avalanche engulfs everything – both shadows and their objects. When shadows consume objects – what follows? Mania.

With the gradual disappearance of silver topped milk bottles blue tits turn to boxing gloves to feed their pecking habit. They find discarded boxing gloves everywhere – in schools, allotments, outside laundrettes, hanging from barbed wire fences. A symbiotic plenty has developed, with the increased popularity of boxing leading to a bigger blue tit population. But why are there so many cast-off boxing gloves? It’s because there are more blue tits explain the priests. Ornithologists who challenge sacerdotal logic are thrown to the pterodactyls.

A domino airstrip isn't really suitable but the pilot is confident he'll play a double six in time and deliver his passengers safely to their remote destination. The staff are pandas, VIPs are zebras, in economy class – dalmations, He's carrying a cargo of polka dots. The world in black and white. Can you imagine women being forced to wear black bags and men dressed in stiff starched luminous white? Wouldn't make sense. Under those circumstances it's possible that if a woman refused to wear black she might be made to study chess or alternatively someone might throw battery acid in her face. The plane is coming in to land. The pilot plays his double six. Not everyone is happy. Dalmations attack zebras. Someone finds a penguin in their ice.

The versatile jellyfish shears drifts around the garden. Born in sticky lumps with an ability to bite off more nettles than it can chew, satiated, the shears crawls indoors for winter, wrapping itself in a cocoon of hairy leaves. I once spent a winter in one of these cocoons and it’s surprising what goes on in there. It was part of a project we did at work and I thought I would be spending those months snuggled up with Brenda from pathogenetics. Instead it was me and a jellyfish. The conversations we had led to my publication Rarely Pretty Reasonable – verses that kept me stable while the irritable shears pecked repeatedly. I might have bled to death were it not for the healing touch of poetry (and thoughts of Brenda).

Young boys reach a certain age and their cricket chakra starts to open. A father who notices should encourage it. Also for girls. Ascending through the cricket chakras, with a coach and parent, delivers the devotee to broad vistas and the murmur of angels similar to the clamour of pattering hands. The body becomes sinuous and shines. The face becomes luminous. There is a danger of nervous fatigue but the zealot can avoid this by partaking of the same linseed oil with which their bat is nourished. Proselyte and bat come to resemble one another. Tattoos are not advised but the tilak or bindi is, as it protects against solar favouritism.

The highly decorated bookmark having made it through War and Peace, Slaughterhouse Five, Dr Zhivago and the Iraqi Christ deserves its medals and the second tassel. It tries to recruit other bookmarks and initiate them but they are withdrawn and don’t want to be interviewed. Keeping the page is regarded as a joke, even a vice, while scribbling on library books has become the norm. Bookmarks hide at the back of the drawer until they take their chance to dive into a bin bag.

David Greenslade is a prize-wining esayist and short story writer who teaches at Cardiff Metropolitan University. His next publication will be as editor of Czech poet Josef Janda's first collection in English.

The pieces above are part of a collection scheduled for publication in Wales by Dark Windows Press, probably 2016.

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