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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

Poems by Ryan Wood:

Contrapunctus I Pen vs Sword

Surely there must be
room for manoeuvre, some
kind of compromise that
could be reached?

            There is no perhaps; no 'could be'.
            I deal only in certainties.
            The only certainty is
            That there is no compromise.

But there is always a medium;
Always a point at which you and I
could, perhaps, say

            There is no medium.
            A point is not a place at which to meet;
            It is a rapier, thrust forward for your own advantage.

Then how can we progress?
When you have made your point
and built a citadel in every land between here and there,
Who will be your friend?

            Who will ever be my friend?
            Not you; not anyone else
            from the lands between here and there.
            A friend is just an enemy who does not know it yet.

Contrapunctus II Spring vs Winter

The Spring began to show his face,
Once bowed 'neath Winter's stare;
A moment's flash of shining space,
A post-torrential flare.

As one by one, he tweaked the claws
Of Hades' icy grip,
He gazed in anguish at the jaws
That round the world did slip.

For nowhere is it written down
That light shall overcome.
So Spring saw Winter's freezing frown
Begin to choke the sun.

The months now pass in pale grey,
When they should golden be.
Things that should run must sleeping stay,
No more is Nature free.

But where there's life, there's warmth and breath;
A spark inside the heart.
Although the shell is frosty death,
The soul does not depart.

So when the Winter turns his head,
On other lands to gaze,
This spark of hope that was not dead
Can thaw that surface glaze.

And though Persephone's smile was late,
We still shall hear her sing.
For now we make the winter wait
For warm, belated Spring.

Contapunctus III Heaven vs Earth

Above a canopy of stars,
I lie back
and allow my mind to drift.
The heavenly stimuli bypass my senses.
The music flows down my spine
in rivers of molten gold,
bathing every cell and vein
until, overflowing, I float:
a powerless, ecstatic vessel on an Elysian sea.

But not so.
Although, occasionally, I drift,
I am tethered.
From time to time, these waves may suffuse my soul,
but they cannot fill this hollow shell
with sights and sounds.
When I float, this Adamantine chain
binds me and reminds me
of the fatuous vacuity
which I strive to leave behind.

Distracted I hurtle headlong
from the ethereal sky.
The dawn of reality breaks my dreams,
for that is all they have become:
distorted echoes in a claustrophobic vacuum.
Empty, yet restricting.
Devoid of life, yet crawling with existence.

This barren land sprouts strange corn.
Their days are spent in a Sistine Chapel;
gazing in awe
at the cracks in the paving stones.
I dislike what they see.
I have looked and found it transitory.
They disregard what I see.
They cannot see the line; only the point.
Sometimes, one of them may hear:
when the echoes have not quite died away.
For a moment: aspiration;
Staring at a counterfeit photocopy.
Words without thoughts.

So, there I land.
A line regarded as a point,
through the thin vision of others.
I start to shrink.
My face turns green and pale, and then I aspire.
I aspire to belong to this heavy, empty world!
I listen to the sounds,
I eat the food,
I dance to the beat,
and wait for the music to start again.

Contrapunctus IV Independence vs Indecision

"Sooner dead than changed."

You'll go your way and sooner say,
'I yearn to die', than 'I will change'.
Turned round, it seems that, when we change,
we die a little anyway,
because we are not who we were before.

But, just as every atom in us: here
and here
is recycled into the air;
we are not the same as we were yesterday,
and we will change again before tomorrow.

For if you do not move along the road,
then you'll stand still for fear of change
and where your way may lead.
Static at the centre of a crossroads, unsure
Of north, or south, or west, or east.

So close your eyes and spin around
and go the way you see.
In motion then, risk all:
fall backwards;
find out who'll catch you.

Contrapunctus V Poetry vs Atrophy

Within my hand and fingers
There is therapy, that grows
Beyond the trail and shape and style
Of mere expression.
In obsession there lies clarity
Which warps the face of thought
Into a visage all can recognise
In spite of its internal procreation.
Herein I find my self
And place it in so many shapes and guises
That it speaks to all, and all
May speak to it.

There are still many doubts and indecisions
But I will not rest until I find it all,
And yet there is no certainty
So I will never rest.
I live a life of 'where?' and 'here' and 'now' and 'there',
In which we prolong not that which we make,
But write another sonnet to it;
Citing life and love and longing.
Yet here I have control.
It does not ebb; it flows
In lines that I can ply,
And wrestle into meaningful existence.
But it dies: it always does
When those that lie above descend,
They die and become earth
In which the underlying senselessness may grow.

So here, and only here,
We rest and think, but cannot understand
Our state and shape and self, and so
We put our selves back in our hands to shape again.

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