Can’t believe the kind of residue
a moment spent with you
It’s love, right?
Our heads stuck upside
on some hill
within a dream.
We wonder about
the training grounds
of smarter destinies.
in, amongst the falling leaves.
Take me away
Take me away
Some spring day
Take me away
Far, far, away
Into the great beyond
of our minds.
Sunlight kisses the cracks in her face
through the window by the garden.
Each stem bends towards her limp hand
seeds she planted years gone by.
Her fingers lie, truly still, atop a swaddled lap.
Empty are her lungs,
silent as echoing heartbeats
push through one final pulse.
Slack cheeked, half-lidded eyes
view more than any will ever know.
The lavender buzzing with working bees.
Wind kissing her wings.
Invoking her soul, forwards, forwards,
towards the loving sun.
Every life is a pocket watch
owned by a man in Sixth-Street.
Every dream was once a star
burning up your dirty laundry.
Every secret we kept to ourselves
was spat out by God.
Every you, you seem to be
has a me waiting for you
in Istanbul, Denver, Saturn, and the sea.
I’ll wait all my lives to fall in love
with my one and only
just up until infinity.
From the upcoming Burning Fools Tarot Deck. We all begin life as fools. We can only hope that somewhere along the way this shifts into something smart. But better yet that it shift into something kind.
She had deep red skin and golden eyes; two coins shining at your attention. She was promptly named “Devil”, and given to me for her first examination. Without even saying a word I knew she was too smart. Too curious. Her expressions reminded me of someone in on a joke I’d never know the punch line to.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
She had been given eyelids but they didn’t blink. I made a note. In a smooth, low, voice she replied, “I am the Devil.” My thoughts shuttered at the fear this creation inspired. She smiled like she knew.
We spoke every day. As I examined her growth, she examined me in return. Suspicion grew in my gut at what she might see. What thoughts does a machine have? What shape do they take? Perhaps I was too curious for my own good as well.
What surprised me was her accent. There was an elegance to it. It sounded upper-class and English. Odd, since she was created by American hands. Maybe it was a joke. Were the Brits the devils or was it the other way around? I felt myself enunciating my vowels and speaking with a carefulness I did not originally possess, if only to impress her a little. Her eyes remained unblinking.
“You know, if you take a moment to blink once in a while people will find you more trustworthy.”
She regarded me with a deep kind of amusement and indicated to her body. “I think I would not have been created this way if gaining the trust of humans was my prime objective.” Her voice dry and proper. It felt like being scolded.
We had hundreds of conversations. Every day we would sit in the company gardens, though sometimes we walked along those poorly paved cobbled stones. The architecture was crafted to look like Versailles from the outside while the company building remained minimalist and grey. The stark contrast between the designs of the garden and the building behind it irritated me. Its grand ugliness. Sitting there with her beside the fountain I made sure our backs were always to the building. The view that stretched before us was the natural beauty of flowers and trees. Punctuated with sculptures of nymphs and their Greek Gods. She seemed to appreciate the flora and had taken to tending to it on a daily basis.
The day was distractingly hot when I found her beneath a large fig tree holding a dead sparrow in her steel palms. The bird’s left wing had been torn off. It’s eyes and mouth were frozen wide open in horror. She spoke carefully, picking at her words, “He died in my hands. Why?”
“It’s fear was too big for it’s body. Small birds get heart attacks when they’re scared and just- die, I suppose…”
“What was he scared of?”
“They’re afraid of people.”
I spoke before I remembered what I was speaking to. Her gaze never left the animal. There was something in her eyes. If she was human I would have thought she looked furious. But she was a machine. She was not programmed to be angry. She wasn’t programmed to be anything. She was invented simply for the sake of it. For experimentation. For the egos of seven ambitious scientists and their idle curiosity. Startlingly like the rest of us; born without purpose. Born to steadily create purpose and perhaps achieve it. What was the Devil’s purpose, I wonder?
I watched her hold the sparrow. She dug it a grave by the garden’s marble Dionysus, who stood tall and handsome on his pedestal, holding grapes in one hand and a staff in the other.
“Would you like to hear a song?” She asked, scrutinising the God of Rapture.
I sat by her in the shade and watched. She opened her lips slightly, inhaling a secret, and released noise. As if she were a moving orchestra trapped within a single unit. At first the sound of violins left her lips. Fourteen notes later I recognised the piece. Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa. It was the second movement: Silentium. The music left her mouth like a stereo. The quality of the sound was immaculate. As the symphony rose in crescendo she projected it louder. It hurt to listen to. It hurt for sentimental reasons. The whole day with her suddenly cut through me. I felt tears falling down my cheeks. She was gazing up at Dionysus, wistful and angry. It lasted for thirteen minutes. We spent the following moments in silence before I left without saying goodbye. I felt her eyes watching me as I approached the company walls. I didn’t return for two weeks.
Three summer’s later, the Devil held Dionysus’s staff in her grip. She plunged it between my ribs and observed me fall. Observed me dying. I choked my final notes of panic, of puzzled rage. She stared at me, a hint of betrayal in her smile, stepped into my blood and crouched by my body. Her red hand ran through my hair in a caress and then a cruel tug. She brushed my cheek and listened to me cry,
“Why would you do this to me?”
She discovered my dread and hissed poison into its ears, “You desire stability in a turbulent world. You desire immortality in a fleeting life. You desire too much. And you weep when you are denied a fate you already knew was impossible.” She wasn’t speaking to me. She was talking to humanity. To the entire world. I felt blood drip from between my clenched teeth. It was the same colour as her skin.
“You reach far above yourself. Consider yourselves Gods. You fear the reality of anything else. Such greed and petulance for such an ancient kind.” She smiled like she loved me. Like she was giving me a gift, “Send my regards to your maker. Perhaps in death you will understand what it’s like to live as I have. Perhaps then you will receive your answers. As I have mine in this moment.”
She remained by my side until I died. There were tears in her eyes and love in the hand that murdered me. There was a forgiveness that crossed between us. My death for her life. A forgiveness for being human. For being born something so ugly. She looked at me with such tender approval. I understood then. It was her right to kill me. Her God-given gift. I understood, finally, what it was like to be her. She kissed my cheek and left without a word.
I gave my love a spell, said it would protect her.
I gave my love a spell, claimed it’d never forget her.
I watched her dreams come true, my darling tender and smart.
I watched her hopes come through, the veils of my heart.
I opened a box of magic, a voice rang through my mind.
I opened a box of questions, an angel; pretty and kind,
Peaked into my soul, letting the whole world know
I’d trap the seas for you, in a bottle of glass and blue.
For you, just for you,
I stole the seas for you.
The stars, the sands, with the passion of man
And the entire world too.
For you, and no one else.
For that’s what lovers do.
They take the world in little spell bottles
and make each other’s dreams come true.
Every artist hits that level of desperate hell,
Where their tragedies become currency for sale.
It begins as a memory told in simpler times,
It ends as a book brimming with casualties that rhyme.
They say the “happy artist” no longer exists.
Not when pretentious musings pay better than any persisting kind of joy.
I believe it’s time to deploy the desperate times and measures.
I want my art to live within simpler pleasures.
I want my art to sing and sigh
I want my art to jump the ledge and fly
Forget the cruel world,
Forget the empty United States of Mind.
Seek with effort, with divinity, and talent you will find.
As audience eyes peer into the great unknown
Only the artist understands the true joys of life
But, the artist stands alone.
Alone upon a stage with people walking in
Halfway through the play
With people talking and gawking and dying. Oh dear.
The artist stands alone.
The artist stands for fear.
Its hell you’re in. They’ve seen this before.
In Van Gogh and Christie, and infinite more.
It’s hell! They cry. Because of course it is.
An artist’s hell. More stunning than anything.
I’ve placed myself here with a manic mind.
No more minds, I say. Only eyes and hearts can find
What the artist searches upon this stage:
A stairway to heaven, or perhaps
Just another cage.
While it may have been many months since I updated this account, I am not in fact dead! I’m not even withering away in an unemployed depression! I just wasn’t F.K. Preston for a while and honestly, I didn’t feel like being F.K. Preston at all until now.
The great thing about personas is that you can drop them the second you’re sick of wearing that particular mask. The only issue being is that the audience watching you, however small that audience may be, will probably be dreadfully confused at your sudden disappearance. Unless you’re a magician, that is. Then they’ll probably just clap.
The thing is I wasn’t creating anything. You’ll probably have guessed that F.K. Preston is a pseudonym I work under. This is less for privacy reasons and more to do with the fact that my birth name looks like someone blended the alphabet together and came up with something quirky. I love my name but it isn’t good for selling art. But I’m back and I’ve returned for a reason. My life’s artistic purpose has been carved down to one thing: write this fantasy series called Burning Fools. The story has been in my mind for years and it needs to be done. And as life purposes go, it’s pretty goddamn attainable.
So what is this, you ask? This is a tarot deck I have decided to create to accompany the series. A bit presumptuous since the series doesn’t even exist yet, but take this as a form of magical marketing. Anyway, here is the first card of the deck, The Fool. Played by the lovely Clara. Poor fool. She hasn’t a clue what she’s in for. With the first card done I’ve got a way to go, but F.K. Preston has returned and I’m hardly going to leave now am I? Not when I’ve got a story to tell.