by: Chris Meekings

The man
sailed up to the window.
He was in a coracle
made of a half coconut.
His lips thick with spittle.
His beard was grey and grizzled
long and matted.
Around his neck was hung a bloodied pigeon,
alternate white and red,
with the sign “Albatross” pinned to it.
He wore a bright yellow sou’ester and oil skin
slick with rain and fish guts.
It glinted like ruby suns in custard.
He hailed me
with one hand made of menial things
as I drank my coffee.
I opened the shutter,
The air rushed in
filled with the scent of rum,
rotten seaweed and snow.

“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
he cried.
I was taken aback.
I had not known this.
The icebergs outside,
sitting like meringues on deep blueberry curd,
and the sea
up to the lighthouse’s foot.
Disposable he said?
What to do with this information?
Was it relevant?
I consulted my washing up in the sink.
The spoons thought it was nonsense.
The plate abstained.
The forks thought all information was relevant.
The knives cut my finger.
Blood billowed into the soapy water.

The sailor cried again,
in a voice filled with thunder and love,
“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
many years before the mast had he stood?
long had he held this piece of knowledge?
Long voyages to the Arctic north.
The tales the sailor could tell.
His words
struck a chord in me.
I looked down at my crossword.
That didn’t fit!
Two across was Tuscaloosa.
The man was obviously an oaf.

He snarled and spat,
“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
Repeated, again and again,
over and over.
A death knell chorus.
It felt like an anchor,
something to hold onto as the world span around me.
Unexpected knowledge,
perplexing and coiling.
Perhaps it was a code?
I shouted back to him,
“Thank you!”
hoping that this was the answering cypher.
Perhaps the tomb would open
and wondrous treasure would be discovered?

His brow creased like a furrowed field.
“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
he insisted, shaking a foot at me.
“You’re obsessed, man!”
I doubled down.
“It’s the intense cold. It’s got to you!
Rub yourself down with seal fat
and get up against something warm.
It’s what I’d do in your situation.”
He bobbed about
in his coconut coracle,
anger clouded his cheeks.
“I can recommend a good prostitute,”
I offered.
The wind bit and clawed at his face.
Aged, etched lines
of beautiful suffering.
much sea had he eaten in his time?
many whales had he made love to?
“Are you enjoying this?”
I asked, dipping my tie in the potted lemming.

“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
a howl, an ululation.
I stared down at the telegram
folded unceremoniously
on the kitchen counter,
like a dirty oyster,
filled with a poisonous pearl.
Dear Sir,
Owing to an outbreak
of political apathy,
we cordially invite you to
World War 3.
Signed The Ministry.
I considered its consequences.
Blood and bullets.
Ill-fitting uniforms.
Healthy exercise.
Medals and parades.
“I don’t want to join in,”
I said to the sailor,
“I’ll just keep score.”

“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
he replied.
There was no hope.
wouldn’t he let it go?
was it my responsibility?
The sun stayed where it was,
suspended on the horizon
in fat broken eggshells.
I licked my lips.
This was the very nub of the problem.
Time was obviously wrong.
The washing up had gone rotten.
Old blood, black and
coagulated on the dirty plates.
had it come from?
had bled this blue link to ancestry?

The sailors eyes,
runny and red,
tinged with herring,
cried gloomy tears.
“Sea slugs have disposable penises!”
A tremulous cry in
the freezing air,
wiped away by wandering wind,
lost to the elements.
He pushed off with an oar,
scratching brick sounds,
like breaking chopsticks.
The coracle slapped and
bluffed on the dark, icy waves.
I waved a solitary hand,
My friend left,
disappearing to ventures new,
to give his advice to others that might hear.
I plunged my hands back into
the icy water of the washing up.
A cooling balm to sooth my
fevered mind.
The sea slug slithered
up my leg,
leaving a sticky trail of mucus.
it slipped its penis
into the wound on my thigh.


Chris Meekings lives in the city of Gloucester in the UK. If you’d ever been to Gloucester you’d understand why he sits inside and makes things up. He’s the author of the bizarro novella Elephant Vice (Eraserhead Press) and the metaphysical fantasy novel Ravens and Writing Desks (Omnium Gatherum). He is still 58 weasels in a trench coat, just looking for love.


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