PHANTOMS

In a café…

by the rampage, all the chairs are carved in limestone because granite and alabaster cost too much. Attendants are picked for lasting—more than sandstone sounds just right. They float on teargas without coughing, but their skins are full of burning. Clientele are the ghosts of Mau Mau, John Lennon and Pussy Riot. It’s not the likes of these that sashay with guards or inmates in the know, but they walk on water. Today’s talk is on the meander of time in a 6 by 8, steel or brick walled, no angling for parole as you flirt with quarter worms slipping off stale crusts. There’s a depth beneath each brow, eyes full of whispers that float in clouds above activists with soft bodies falling like feathers. But the crowd is a meniscus, fully cushioned and evened out, unyielding to a line of police officers swallowed in masks. I see oceans, la-di-da, a shimmer of hope in a new yesterday, but today’s a long way to the sea. I’m a blind fish without a name and, right now, I can’t breathe.  

Caught on camera

I’ve been searching for menus that worry you out of cooking. Cream, flour, whipped crème fraiche broiled into a roux of nonstop impulse and a lack of air. It’s a promise of no immunity, restless ghosts scraped from generations of colour with hardcore spatulas and marinated ignorance. Disconnect the pot from the stove, and you foray into willow patterns of lethal force caught on camera. A litter of roadkill on an ivory table that’s unsettling to watch with its mismatched leftovers of no respect, no dignity. 

Happiness…

in the months ahead is like a certificate of competence framed on the wall, embossed with a signature, no insight to the toil that its owner has endured better than most. Hard to keep a lid on it when joy flees without a chorus, leaving behind an evanescence of ghosts and shared memories full of guidelines on how to supervise misplaced glee. Making vows is no more than a wee boy deadly as a firearm taking up the tale.

The ghost of a graph

At the cusp of human and animal, what brings you by is something tragic or a coincidence of strangehood. You’re poised with a needle whose tip is moist with a conspiracy etched in numbers, and people are dying. But it takes time from initial moments to new scrutiny for officers of the sovereign state to act in the interest of the vulnerable, or their actions to reach global fuss. Researchers responding to data, as part of a study on the scatter of streetlamps and ethnic disparity, sequin stories of calamity and gore but are powerless to trend replicas on body cams clicking across a bridge to quietus in an inferno of contempt. 

Eugen Bacon’s work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award, Australian Shadows Awards and Nommo Award for Speculative Fiction by Africans.

Eugen Bacon is African Australian, a computer scientist mentally re-engineered into creative writing. Her work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award, Australian Shadows Awards and Nommo Award for Speculative Fiction by Africans.

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