Dies Penniless

lots of phobias out there
emetophobia (fear of vomiting)
hylophobia (the trees are trying to kill you)
ombrophobia (rain. Some people are scared of rain. Can you believe it)

here’s mine
change
not that kind
coins
the germs, the grime
it just doesn’t bear

paper money
don’t get me started
caked in cack
with literal faeces

‘keep the change’
‘are you sure? This is eight pounds ninety eight’
‘keep the change’

The Floor Is Ice

Most people reading this will know a variation on that game called something like ‘the floor is lava’. You know, you have to escape the living room only touching furniture. It’s fun, encourages resourcefulness and ingenuity, and has a healthy amount of self-imposed challenge to it that is good for young minds.

When you’re a grown-up, you get to play a harder version called ‘the floor is bloody freezing‘ and you have to play it every morning until you (actually) die. The only way to win is to not play, but that also involves losing your job and starving. (It’s funny how long you will entertain these alternatives, depending on how good that morning’s sleep was.)

Many Korean apartments and hotels have something called ‘ondol’ (온돌) – heated floors. Instead of radiators or air-conditioned heating, the underside of your linoleum-covered masonry floor is warmed by the hot water system. There’s perfectly good historical and cultural reasons for such a system. To a Western troglodyte such as myself, it needs nothing more than to free me from the floor game to be worth its alarmingly cheap monthly bills for certain utilities like it’s sort of scary Korea is this sustainable

I turn it on for a few hours after finishing work at night, so by the time I’m ready for bed I can turn it off and the heat lasts overnight. My mattress, which lies on the floor, absorbs the heat, which is wonderful for the winter. The new problem: this is it. Now that I effectively achieve ideal human hibernation conditions every single night, what possible reason is compelling enough to break this incredible chrysalis? This is where the overweight future people in Wall-E started going wrong, I bet.

Oh, alright, fine, food. I guess.

Has anyone ever truly Rube Goldberg-ed their way into never having to get out of bed, without the assistance of other people? Follow your dreams! Aim high!

The Hack Cries

P: ‘Phobb!’
A: ‘Sorry?’
B: ‘Don’t worry, this happens from time to time.’
P: ‘Grig. Grigged. They grigged him.’
A: ‘What’s he saying?’
B: ‘Well, nothing, really. He just likes how some things sound.’
P: Flem. Fullem.
A: ‘Sounds serious.’
B: ‘Nah, he gives up after a few minutes. It’s still better than the other thing he does.’
P: ‘These days, I frequently fantasise about how I would make the cries for help I know I’ll never summon the bravery to muster.’
A: ‘What?’
B: ‘That. That’s the other thing.’

Irving; For Whom I Am Sorry

Son, are your kicks made of felt or some such disrespect?
Time was I could have you ejected from my property for such an insult
but times change, and not always for the better
Let it be known well and by all, though
that I think you’re a plum fool
and woe beget the assclown who wilfully considers themselves your associate

Footwear like that can scarcely be described as such
Maroon upper and everything – the signature of poor breeding

I know you probably think me harsh, but honestly
I lambast you in your best interests
and more importantly, those of society’s –
Bad shoes hinder good men
in a variety of insidious ways
(physically, emotionally, professionally, you name it-)

Moments like these force me to wonder what’s left for a species
Must have been a day when even the dodos must have thought,
‘it’s the 17th century and we still can’t fly;
we deserve our fate’

Such barefaced inbecility has an unsavory audacity to it
Anyway…
I’ve enjoyed our little exchange of ideals
but I’ll hear no more of it
I’m going to continue going about my life now –
a little happier for having given you a piece of my mind
but from time to time
I’ll remember your shoes
and it’ll ruin my day.

Postmaster

Squatting hunched in the middle of the room.
He looks after my post.
Re-rolling cigarettes found on the floor.
He knows where I live.

Small Infinities of Eye Contact

Dayruiner – impromptu eye contact with strangers. In an attosecond, a relationship is forged. This is now someone you have technically met, no backsies. An impression is irreversibly made on both sides, and conclusions drawn just as immediately – ‘he seems nervous’, ‘why does she look so angry’, ‘what’s wrong with their face’, etc.

This is something I’ve had a lot of time to dwell on recently. It’s exam week for some middle schoolers at the hagwon I teach at. I’m purely there in a supervisory capacity, so I sit at the front of a classroom and keep an eye on everyone, so catching someone’s gaze at the exact second they glance up from their paper is something that happens with uncomfortable regularity.

The worst part is that there is absolutely no correct response to these silent exchanges, but a small infinity of wrong ones. Let’s go over them:

– immediately breaking the contact: akin to flinching at nothing. This can be seen a weakness of character, regardless of your polite intention. Like a weak handshake, it betrays an inner nervousness you probably don’t even have.
– maintaining your gaze until the other person looks away: a dangerous proposition. Several cultures see this is an act of aggression, even if you know the other person and are talking to them. Many animals, including dogs, perceive this as a challenge or a threat. Really, though, if you’re the type of person to actually hold someone accountable to a staring contest deathmatch that they didn’t know was happening, then there might honestly be something very wrong with you. Unless, of course, your victim returns it, in which case you’ll have a funny personal joke about how you met to reminisce on years down the line. You pair of demented hyenas.
– the unending spectrum of madness that lies between these two extremes~

So the question becomes, is there an ideal time frame for eye contact? Sadly, no: eye contact doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Every single other component of your face and body language could also be conspiring to make your entire aspect an insult to all with the sense of sight. Both parties are thrown to the mercy of whatever configuration one another’s features had settled in at the moment of impact. Just like duration, however, there is no ideal default setting. The warmest, friendliest face your mind can conjure becomes a bizarre, unhinged rictus when caught unaware.

What can be done? Little, other than to try to catch yourself before you jump to conclusions. Perhaps if you’re more personable than me, you could, you know, actually talk to strangers. Mad talk.

Failed Diamante

fountain
shaped a ship
sunk long time back
taking not a single person
built in the memory
to no-one’s benefit
meeting place
useful