A short story with charcoal…visuals. Click on the image. The first word is “Ill”, as in sickness. The word “just” in the last line means “fair”, not “merely”.

MURK   Ill wonders, as it plagues these poor prisoners, what god damn right it has to try them so. Aren't they already guilty? Bagged and tagged.  Stone they sit, stone and silent in the low haze of smoke which never quite goes away. Ventilation clogged to stop the murk getting out. Stone faced, hard and grey. Sitting and patient with it, going nowhere. Clammy chains redundant. They wouldn't even move if. Already guilty.     Water gets in and that's why ill shows. It gets in and feeds the moss, and the moss grows damp fevers, and it has to show and plague the stone men with whipcrack coughs. But they take the moss and dry it and cut it with the murk, so in a sense they win too.   It's amazing how fat the chains on the granite men you'd think the cells had no bars.  How dank the mildewed windows, smoke coloured to save time.   Water gets in another way, too, once a day in dirty cups. If his face or her face wasn't covered they still wouldn't look at it; matter of pride. They sit still until the trap shuts again before they'll pick up the tray. And sometimes it'll be hidden in a twist under the food, or sometimes it just gets dropped in one of the high windows between the grimy bars. Murk.  	Shared evenly when one gets some: what goes around. Not allowed, no. But the stone men know people and people know how to get it in. And they cut it with the dry moss and thumb it in pipes made from cups and desperation, and smoke it in deep.   Sitting and patient with it. Matter of pride.  Not allowed, no.   But is it safe or is it just to allow them fire?

Written on a train from Brisbane to Newcastle while listening to Down, 26/12/10. Drawn up and illustrated in Brisbane while listening to Down, 29/12/10. I recommend reading while listening to Down—if you don’t like metal, try the track “Jail”.

3 thoughts on “Murk

  1. Love it – your writing style is, as always, fantastic. Just got your e-mail and hurried straight over – will reply in detail later am in a massive procrastination.

    Did you ever see my room in first year? I pinned white sheets to my walls and safety pinned poems and pictures and newpaper cuttings onto it. Writing and drawing on walls is a MUST for any creative person.



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