Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Sex of Syntax

The wonderful and devastating thing about the English language is the connotations attached to certain words. Limpets on the hull of a wooden schooner. The charismatic wisteria strangling an ancient oak. They decorate and destroy and he uses them as embellishment and weaponry.

Small, doesn't always mean diminutive, short of stature, can mean feeling 'small' insignificant, unimportant. He's aware of the irony, being big-boned and having lived a life so large but she manages to make him feel 'small'. He attaches connotations to most words and she knows it. She uses the language of his craft, unwittingly and wittingly to give an impression. He chooses the interpretation of his words reading syntax where there is none and understands when language is loaded, a weapon strung, sprung, waiting for the release of some invisible incendiary that will send him into a spin of linguistic confusion. Lost in meaning or nonsense. Overinterpretation or misunderstanding. Why can't she be plain, forward, honest.

She hones her relationships with words. Carefully chosen. She runs them up the flagpole to see if they fly. Throws them on the tarmac to see if they stick. Others grasp them like falling snowflakes to have their meaning melt in the palm of their once warm hands, now rendered cold once as they realise her words are false, wasted, there to cause reaction not solace. He reads meaning where there may not be one, where there may be some. "Give me a sec.." means an hour. "I'll call you back in a few..." could mean a day. She avoids the specific. He needs the detail, the literal interpretation and she makes him feel like a foreigner, taking language literally and expecting its formal interpretation.

Her craft depends on words and she crafts his sentences as carefully as an artisan creating a sculpture. Each curve and bend intentional. She knows how she'll interpret his words then deride him for thinking too much, reading too much into what was meant to be read. His comprehension always flawed. He either skims or overanalyses but she sprays words at her as horticulturist sprays indiscriminate weeds. She a wildflower and he, just a nettle. Her words can lift and sting, light and extinguish, burn and chill.

She wrote for him once, with him twice, about him many times; now he can't write a thing. He stares at the page. Instead of white it transforms,  rouge as a Dutch whore. "Write about me..." she begs. It's a statement not a question and the page teasing, tantalising but he's a poor punter bereft of inspiration with nary a bill in his pocket. He's longing to sate his lust. He wants to write. The white turns to red again as his imaginary muse lifts her satin skirt exposing alabaster thighs and a story begging for the taking. He can smell the sex of syntax as she turns and bends and he drools at the box gap before he snaps the lid of his laptop shut. Nothing but a cursor blinking on the unwritten page.

Perhaps a walk. The dog's eager as he grabs her lead and she jumps and twists with excitement, "Been a while girl."  He laments as he snatches the red lead from a lacklustre door knob.

Why he takes a lead, he doesn't know. The dog's obedient and never in need of restraint. The labrador snuffles the rough ground as if searching for a truffle and grabs a stick. Retriever all the way, she'll carry it with her. Man and dog, inspiration lost but fresh air and sunshine found, traverse the concrete path, wonder beneath the graffiti'd underpass and into a field expansive and lush. The dog runs and sniffs whilst his mind remains distracted by the red whore and the tease of the page.

"I got nothin." His thoughts articulated in the emptiness of an azure sky and emerald field.

The dog momentarily drops it's stick and glides into the murkiness of a pea soup pond relishing the cool and the sludge against a double coat designed for snowy climes, not the arid summer of an antipodes. "Oy, get outta there," his writer's block distracted by the wading labrador.

"Filthy woman..." he shouts as she surfaces and shakes muddy droplets all over his jeans. "Shit dawg..." The filthy woman comment draws his thoughts back to the lascivious testing of a blank page and the red whore.

They wonder back as he examines the graffiti on the underpass. Perhaps there's inspiration there among the tags and scrawls. Charlie the Unicorn grabs his eye as he remembers the You Tube sensation and he smiles. "Hello Charlie..." The unicorn winks back or at least he imagines it does. He examines his shoes and remembers the unfinished manuscripts. Half written fantasies, dramas...nothing complete, nothing culminating in a cliff hanger ending. Perhaps writing isn't his thing. He likes his camera. He enjoys taking photographs but for whom and why? Clearly he doesn't like it that much since he forgot to bring the Canon with him. Something he regrets a little, "Could photograph the graffiti," he thinks aloud.

He and his soaked canine return. He washes his hands and looks around a sunlit room. Empty, silent, too clean to be true and lacking in inspiration.

"Perhaps it's because I'm not depressed or in love or sad.." He analyses. He's always analysed.

"You think to much," she'd told him in happier days. He wanted to write when he was with her, his muse, his inspiration. There was a time he had no shortage of inspiration or material. A time when novels were easy, stories natural. Without her, he has no inspiration. Just an empty soul and a heavy heart but not enough to pour out on the page.

He trawls You Tube. Music is inspirational right?  Dubstep beats give way to ballads about friends and lost love and he's getting depressed. He watches dancers gyrating like his Dutch whore and again is momentarily distracted by a stirring in his pants but its distraction and creative destruction. He moves from the laptop to the desktop.

He sits, upright, ergonomic in front of a new desktop computer. He thought buying it would enforce discipline, help his concentration and perhaps bring life to an otherwise blank screen. He clicks on Facebook. She isn't online. He clicks on Skype. She is, but he doesn't want to interrupt her. They have a deal, she must talk to him first. He's afraid of being needy, saying too much, feeling too much, wanting too much. Even that, he can't write about. Secret business. Personal business, not for the printed page. Then without acknowledgement. She's gone.

He types a line and deletes it before it's finished.

"Shit..I got nothin'" he wants to call her, ask her to inspire him, ask her to help him, motivate him. He wants her to come round, undress him, put her mouth on him, hold him when he sleeps, post coital, warm and with the sun streaming through his bedroom window, but those days are gone. She has her own problems and he's become less part of her life these days. She keeps her secrets and is trite and polite - gives him no food for thought, no succour for stories that once leaped onto the page. She has no interest in helping him find his muse. He wants to tell 'their' story and his mind wonders to the dirty stain on the ceiling.

"Damn valley gutters....need to get on that". The stain slowly permeating the gyprock, soaked by a concoction of gum leaf tea, percolating through the ceiling after summer storms. It makes the pattern of a slightly familiar face but he can't place it.

He gets up and pours a glass of wine, "Loosen up a bit, it'll come..." he tells the freezer as he breaks four ice cubes into a cheap Semillon.

"Yeh, couple of these and it'll come." It doesn't.

After four, he begins to cry. "If she was here...It would be different."

He knows it wouldn't, but he hopes it would. He goes back to the screen, still blank and white until the whore reappears, "You don't want me baby?" she asks, bare-breasted, and hands between her thighs.

"I can't afford you honey?" Even the imaginings of sex give no food for thought.
She fades into white as quickly as she originally bled onto his screen.

Start menu: shut down. Blocked again. "Fuckit. I'll clean cupboards."


  1. what's this then? Love your ambiguous style, and it's good to see you writing again.

  2. Whoah.. wasn't expecting that.
    Rich, fecund - felt I could flare my nostrils in smell it in.
    All a bit non-specific these comments. Basically, I liked it.

  3. Good one. The "ambiguous" in Tom's comment intrigued me, but this was less ambiguous than through-the-looking-glass for me. I always love the blend of reality and fantasy. Like I said, good one.