Vox Populi

Martin Heavisides



In one mirror I look like an old man, an ancient drooler if you want the truth. One pinch beneath the fur gives the lie to this, unless I've found the one patch of skin on my near-carcass that doesn't sag above muscles gone permanently feeble.

In another I look like a meerkat, alertly perched on its hind legs, stretched to full height, peering about happily; I could swear I have more body than that, and if I touch around the eye sockets, they don't seem to protrude nearly so much out of my face, but how can I know with certainty?

In a third my horn is being painstakingly sawed off by men eager for the gold to be gained by grinding it down to a fine powder famed for its remedicinal and aphrodisiac properties; though I can see no-one about me, I begin to feel rough hands, eager, an unbearable pain in my forehead simultaneous with a gushing stream that ought to blind me but, worse luck, doesn't. I can only make out shapes, a figure wrapped in fur, a prodigious heaving bosom, less than that and progressively less in a series of receding mirrors which might possibly multiply without end.

In the near distance I can make out lights and colours as bright as a sitcom set, and the further they recede the more vividly and ecstatically they shimmer; the gap closes in my forehead; perhaps I'm happy in those reflections and considering the number of them, possibly I'm ahead on the percentages. In one mirror I'm an old crone with an apple and a pocket reflector; in another I'm wondering why I'm trying so hard to win a tennis match when I should be losing at speed in order to pursue a murderer who's trying to frame me for his crimes; in a third I wear my rue with a difference. A long succession of mirrors recede. . .



I'm prepared, I'm prepared for any eventuality I have a surplus Inter Continental Ballistic Missile in my basement, not state of the art but it’ll deliver its payload to any target I aim at, you betcha! I have canisters I won't say what's in 'em, why spoil the surprise? you'll find out quick enough if you mess with me. I have a lead-lined chamber of adequate size a suitable distance underground, with three years' supply of nonperishable food in case of need and I'm accumulating more, and I don't even know how many movies and prime time tv shows stored in memory to jolly me through what are bound to be some seriously monotonous hours. Is it coming? the great apocalyptic event that'll drive all of us that survive underground 'til surface catastrophe blows over? I don't know but I wouldn't bet against it and my motto is better safe than sorry. Sorry, I don't expect there'll be any room for visitors.                                                            


They're stacked up everywhere in the long broad room that's sheeny grey. Walls ceiling floor. People don't need these anymore, don't ask why or they might tell you or worse, box 'em check the pockets first and remove any valuables they tell you that on the posters. They insist. How do you know what's valuable? That's spelled out in the detailed instructions and anyway you can figure it out for yourself. Be careful what you keep and always know the sight line of the cameras.                                                                                        Sometimes if it's candy they give it to me. Once it was a lady's stockings. The jokes they made! and they tell me I'm nasty.
Call somebody to look if the lining might hide something. Don't laugh if zzzzipp! with the razor up and down and it doesn't or your cheek'll sting.


 rrrrrrrrr ARRR! ARRR! rrr rrr padu? padu? ch-ch-ch shum? shum? padu? rrrrrr remshi rstz mtz mtz   shuuuuuuU! U! mm rrrrrrrrrrr AWR! AWR! padu? nins gesopfen opten na mmm A! A!                               zzt zum zzt shhhh pa pa pa pa nu? nu? yapachizno nya'sem w-w-w-watso? patoo? shum? shum? rrrrrrrrr
 Krk krk krrrrrrk minu shmetz? shmetz? nyaa nga minu shutz ya! shutz ya ya! nya! nya! rrrrrrrrrr b-b-   bub! BUB! BUB! fremachti ashti fremashti? shh! ti shh'ti rrrrrrrrr po po po                                         TENZA! potenza! nyats nyats nyats nyets incomen
 COMENNNNNNNNNNN!   Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr   rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr   rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr   rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr                                                                        


Every one has two sides, 'heads' and 'tails'. You can see both sides but only one at a time. Wrap- around eyes so you can see every side of things! why didn't anyone think of giving us that? Things wouldn't happen the same. You can spin it like a top and that's neat but doesn't solve the problem. You can see part of both sides if your eyes are quick but it's blurry. No way around it, we got the wrong kind of eyes.                    'Tails' can be a ship, leaves in a clump I guess they'd say is arranged with art, a crest with four breaks like a cartoon, maybe an animal's head or even a whole animal but it's never a tail. Why do they call it that?

I don't like the modern world much and I have no way of finding out if I'd like it better at any other time, the future sure doesn't seem to be improving. If I knew somebody a thousand years old I could find out at least if it's always been this way but what could you do with such knowledge? Suppose I found out 1450-1500 was a unique golden age when everything was copacetic to a degree never seen before or since, how would I exploit this knowledge with time travel so monotonously all one way? All by myself could I help bring back that brighter, happier era, win over hearts and minds 'til we're all out there partying like it's 1455? I don't think so, I don't have a remotely charismatic enough personality for that maybe I would have if I'd been born at the right time but as it is, how am I ever to know?                                                                   


These are easy to pack but you have to hurry. People wore each and every one who knows how long ago? I don't actually want to. One or two don't match, someone else must be packing the other one. Things happen to shoes just like people. They vanish and who knows where they turn up again?                                        These are black skinny heels with a name I can't remember but it's some kind of knife. I can see how the ankles would point out sharp above a smooth shiny heel that slides in and is right away six inches taller. The whole top of the foot almost could still be naked (slithery nude heel stockings maybe) even the top of each toe you cold tell what they were by the ridges and spaces between, toenails just barely hidden probably painted. Everybody has toes pretty much. The way these point at the end the toe points that aren't naked must keep pretty close company. Uh-oh, hurry! you don't want to find out what comes out of that prod if it sticks you.


Anemnesis, Please

They are                                                                                                                                                                        .a sinister government body
.a sinister anti-government body (possibly concealed within the government itself?)
. a friendly clique within a government (generally friendly? sinister? an impossibly entangled                       mix of both?)                                                                                                                                                     
.actual aliens, as in off-earth visitors (intent? probably not simple tourism)                                                       .a husband-wife detective team who can effectively mirror each other on opposite sides of a clear             pane of glass

out to
.get me
.kill me
.confine me for my own safety/thesafety of others (compatible goals?)                                                    .extract samples for study
                                                                                                                          .experiment on my parts                                                                                                                                   .present me with an unusual offer/opportunity/potentially advantageous crisis                                   .restore me to my memory and my greatness
.solicit my participation in a three-way.

I am
. a blind agent of chaos/justice (compatible goals?)
. a blind agent of dissimulation/creative change (compatible goals? technically not blind of
                   course, I can see my reflection quite clearly even as I scribble down this note--who's that in the                  half shadow behind me? is the bartender tipping the wink?)
.confused in my motives but pure at heart
.pure in my motives but at heart confused
.an actual alien, as in off-planet visitor (reason for my visit? alien evidence in blood or urine stream?)
(Should i be turning myself in for my own protection or is that the last thing I should be doing? It would help if I had a functioning memory instead of nothing but these point form notes to go by. Some of them make no sense whatsoever.)


Attempts have been made on                                                                                                                                     .my life
.my property                                                                                                                                                              .my honour
.my social security index
.my body mass index
.my frame outlook way of life
.my sense of self worth
.self esteem
.self preservation
.self presentation
.self integration
.or am I imagining all this (is there a pill I can take?)


They'd like me to
.take a pill
.take a powder
.take a hike
.take a number
.take a long walk off a short pier into chaos, nothing and night
                                                                       .take an order                                                                                                                                                           .take responsibility for my own life                                                                                                                         .take a break. Relax. RELAX!
this isn't getting me anywhere.)


If I produce an axe the forest needs it
A butcher knife is useful to a herd
Where would a flock be without shearing scissors?                                                                                                  Stone without chisel > clay without roaring kiln                                                                                                 Fish without hook > folks without leaders
Tourist paradise without credit card                                                                                                                         Developing nation without interest schedule
Flower without patent to limit its dispersal
Blue cheese needs mold > pate de foie demands grass
Arable land needs a plow or else asphalt and concrete
Romantic impulses cry out for Hallmark cards
"I care enough to send the hairy beast"
"Do this for me and I'll grant you sexual favours"
Toast needs butter but even before that a slicer
Eggs must have water and 3-5 minutes to boil
How would the dead be sans furnaces and shovels?
The living without the knowledge they will die?
Fresh fruit would be at a loss wihtout a blender
Prisoners without walls and cells and bars
Jailers without multiple locks on their off-premise houses                                                                          Universes with no God to design them
Time without end > space without bounds > eyes without blinders                                                                   Flash without pan > gin without tonic and lemon
Ecstasy without remorse > turbulence without disaster
Service without smile > gain without pain
Nude without lewd > lewd without crude > crude without oil
Oil without paint > paint without ladies > ladies without dressing                                                                Salad without dressing > dressing without dinner
Dinners without reservation > lists without end

Mercury in the Wound

Silver'd surface glides (wobbling frisbee spins)                                                                                                   into a woman dressed like a mirror                                                                                                                         dazzles of varicoloured light sheen and shimmer                                                                                                 conceal or reveal what she is underneath?
How deep in bone marrow's glassmetal her body?                                                                                                 Silverine canister of mobile-tinkling flesh                                                                                                             Planet slightly wobbles on its orbit through the Heavens

Dazzles of reflection on hourglass figure
will she undress for you? seems it's impossible                                                                                                         Only part strategically, here you may enter                                                                                                             Take the racoon coat off a racoon
possess the depths of a reflecting pool
Clamps tight around you as snapping joints
in a funhouse maze full of echoing laughter
                                                                                                laughter of spheres in mad eerie spin

A hundred times over at least, that is you
on surface of quicksand polished clear as glass
that sheaths or is her skin? maybe no difference                                                                                                 What's this world coming to, where in Hell's it been?                                                                                               Night sky clotted with many-sized balls
some full of mirrors and some rainbow pixels
sky is the limit? you're thinking too small
sky's just an atom, taken all in all

Thrash, ram, whoo! deep, by laughing joint squeez'd                                                                                               You many times (many! many times) seen                                                                                                 liquescent, dissolving, sweat beads trickling bodies                                                                                                 bodies that slither away into thirsty earth                                                                                                             gleam many more on your skin? on her sheath?
on her skin? on your sheath? spooky vertigo rhythms

Ev'rything covers but nothing protects you                                                                                                             coating half metal, half flesh underneath?                                                                                                             Body or quicksilver fluid shoots sharply?                                                                                                             Seven years bad luck if one of you cracks
If each image comes, the earth will move                                                                                                             Move to a new plane, fresh glist'ning planet

Curved replication of bodies on bodies
Globe spinning merrily, bodies sweep on
Bodies spin merrily so it appears
Globe sweeps its path in infinite space                                                                                                             Finite/unbounded's the more modern thought
Globe sweeps its narrow course in unbounded space                                                                                               Head spinni—ohhh! did you see yourself coming?                                                                                                    How many times? was it good for your image?



live down a well >> look up                                                                                                                                        circle of stars in the blackness                                                                                                                                       day and night


If the memories of places you walk through                                                                                                        whispered at you >> jostled you >> the specific voices faces persons                                                            buildings >> no buildings >> rivers swamplands drainings
drone of insects a million years extinct
flap of dactyl wings >> if it all came buzzing upon you                                                                                           as it sometimes does in minuscule doses which is unsettling                                                              overwhelming >> sometimes the occasion of a religious vision                                                              confinement to a madhouse
say the whole history of one square meter you stroll through
roared across all your senses at once >> sight hearing taste touch smell                                                             the interpenetrations and subdivisions of these                                                                                                        the senses that have no name as yet
how would you move stand sit speak remain silent                                                                                            well?



When life's most like a dung heap                                                                                                                          Dream in technicolour
Picture all existence bright
Don't conceive it duller

Live your dreams, leave out the guns                                                                                                                         The way cool CGI
Sunrise and sunset daily
More ravishes the eye

If life's too small, dream big
Your dreams will infiltrate
Only grand dreams e'er overthrew                                                                                                                             A nasty, brutish state

New state not much better?                                                                                                                                    Back to our dreaming beds                                                                                                                                    Most of what's wrong around us                                                                                                                                  Is wrong first in our heads

Think of the wheel of a chariot. All right then don't think of the wheel of a chariot. Silly suggestion.

Martin Heavisides is the author of eight full length plays, one, Empty Bowl, published in The Linnet's Wings and given a live reading by Living Theatre in New York, two one acts and a good number of ten minute plays, short stories, flash fiction, poetry, which has been published in Sein Und Werden, The Linnet's Wings, FRiGG, Mad Hatter's Review, Pure Slush, Journal of Compressed Creativity among others. He has published one novella length collection of interlinked flash fiction and poetry, Undermind.