To the sisterhood of lesbians and dykes looking for another victim.
Even thought the End of the World has only existed for fifty years we still have some traditions of our own. Every birthday we throw garlands of roses over the edge of the waterfall. When a woman makes love for the first time we must bury a strand of our pubic hair in a matchbox. I buried mine near where my pet dog Ralph was buried. Some people would say that this tradition symbolises our lost innocence. But that’s a crock. I do it because everybody else does in the same way that most girls have tattoos or have their navel pierced. Another tradition is that when we break up with our boyfriend we always take them to the Diner at the End of the World to tell them the news. Sort of like the Last Supper. I told Colin I was breaking up with him because he was too much of a shrinking violet. He shrugged his shoulders and started humming. I told him to stop and be a man and say something but he just hummed the song even louder. After a few moments I said I knew that song from somewhere. He told me it was called ‘Crying’ by Roy Orbison. I scoffed at him and said, ‘I suppose you are going to tell me it’s some sad story about a man who can’t stop crying because he lost a girl. If you are trying to emotionally blackmail me that’s a pretty lame trick.’ ‘I’m just humming,’ he said, ‘because I like it that’s all. Whenever I am depressed I hum a song, any song and it makes me feel happy. This is a beautiful song that’s all.’ He closed his eyes and kept humming and when he opened them I think he expected me to be gone but I decided to stay. I don’t know why really. I sat there unable to get that song out of my mind. He was right about one thing. It is a nice song.
From the sweetest girl,
but don’t you dare cross me.
To the blond woman dying her clothes, black
I moved to the End of the World in nineteen eighty two. Six months previously I had been living in Melbourne, Australia in a two bedroom flat with a woman called Michelle. It was my first serious relationship. She was wild and reckless and I was convinced I was the mature one of the two of us because I had a career in sales and many material possessions. Sex was the problem. I had never suffered from premature ejaculation before but her wild stories of her many lovers made me nervous and I felt I wouldn’t measure up. During one hot night in January we were in the kitchen and Michelle was frustrated and angry. ‘You are not a man,’ she screamed. ‘You play those old records and live in the past. All those stories about your sex life and being able to please women are a lie. You are a fraud. You think you are cool, but you are a wimp. You don’t clean the toilet bowl after you are finished. You’re disgusting. You’re not a man. You are just a silly little boy.’ I looked at Michelle standing there in the kitchen with her long wavy blond hair and her sparkling blue eyes. I laughed and said, ‘you forgot to mention I have a little dick.’ She picked up a dinner plate from the sink and threw it to the ground and said, ‘You think you are so funny. You make jokes about everything. Can’t you be serious, just once in your life?’ She picked up another plate and threw that against the wall. I walked away from her and into the lounge room and turned on the radio and sat down on the couch. At that moment there was a song being sung by Gordon Lightfoot about, ‘ghosts in a wishing well… and when you reach the part where the heartaches start.’ Six months later I moved to the End of the World and I will probably never se Michelle again. The End of the World is the place where if you have to remember, you come here to forget.
From the singer
standing on stage
sneering at the audience.
To the hundred year old groupie with the star struck eyes.
I saw Lisa for the first time in ten years. We spoke briefly and when I left her I remembered the two of us living in a bed sitting room. One afternoon I was lying on the bed reading a book as she sat across the room, at the table, injecting speed into her forearm. She wore only a pair of light blue panties and a matching bra. There was a cassette recorder on the table playing loud punk music from a band called Grievous Bodily Harm. She had several tattoos. On her right arm was a tattoo of a snake curled around a blue dagger. Above her left breast was a tattoo of a skull and crossbones. On her left ankle was the name of her last boyfriend. The music was too loud and I was in the wrong room with the wrong woman. I watched her throw the syringe I the waste-basket. At that moment a new song played on the cassette recorder. It was a much slower song than the others and had a haunting melody Paul McCartney would have been proud of. The singer sang of a woman called Suzanne Strange who had many lovers. One day her body was found riddled with bullet holes in a garbage dump. A thousand men mourned for her. When the song had finished I asked Lisa to play it again. She refused. I asked her again and then she threw the cassette recorder against the wall breaking it into several pieces. I never did hear that song again. Ten years later I am walking away from Lisa. She hasn’t changed much, still wild, still living her rock and roll dreams and getting drunk every night or bingeing on drugs. I wondered if any one will mourn for her, or me when we die. I walked away from Lisa into the crowded street and then caught a tram to the End of the World, humming a once forgotten song to myself.
From the survivor of an affair
shipwrecked in the
Bermuda Triangle of Love.
To the woman who did not follow her heart.
There was a man at the End of the World who was in great jeopardy. He had tried to help people but was being swallowed up by lies. Although he was a writer by trade he carried song fragments in his head: ‘This time Lord, you gave me a mountain, a mountain I may never climb.’ He organised cabarets at the End if the World and was regarded as an entrepreneur and self-promoter. He thought to himself, that like in ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina,’ he had never invited fame and fortune in, though it seemed to the world, they were all he desired. His closest friends were the only ones who could save him, but he hated needing them for this reason: ‘They say every man needs protection, from the west down to the east. Any day now, any day now I shall be released.’ He walked around the streets at the End of the World thinking he was alone and then he would notice others: ‘Look at all the lonely people, where do they all come from?’ He walked to the Waterfall at the End of the World thinking about how cruel women could be: ‘Your kisses on my bruise like iodine.’ He sat down at the café at the Waterfall at the End of the World and began talking to Monica, the woman who told the time for everyone. They spoke for ours and here was a woman who liked helping people not for a reward but for the pleasure of making people happy. He thought about all the publicity he had organised for his cabarets and though he was famous it meant nothing to him. He walked the woman home to her apartment and she invited him in and he thought to himself: ‘You ain’t nobody till somebody loves you.’ and this brought a strange smile to his face as he kissed her.
From the woman
with the big dog
that everyone patted.
We are seeking poems up to 30 lines and short stories up to 1500 words. Song Lyrics up to 40 lines
Writers should send their work as email attachments to: firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of August.
Writers & musicians can submit three poems or song lyrics and two stories maximum
plus a short cover letter letting me know where they live
and that they agree to the conditions below
All authors must live in Melbourne or close by.
All accepted contributors will get a free copy of the magazine and free entry to the launch ( $10 entry)
and $30 per contribution providing they attend the launch and bring a minimum two paying friends or supporters.
We will also sell the Paradise Anthology (RRP:$20) at $15 per copy, $25 for two copies or three or more copies at $10 each
There will be established paid musicans performing at the launch
and possibly a few contributors may read.
We can not post the magazine out as it takes up too much time and money.
To the boy sitting on the high chair, baked bean sauce on his chin.
There is a woman who lives alone at the End of the World. She lives in a strange house that has no windows because she has no need for people to peer inside. She never ventures out of the house and instead calls the proprietors of shops at the End of the World to deliver her groceries, alcohol, cigarettes and newspapers. She is quite an attractive young woman but she is only three feet tall. She is never referred to as a midget and every part of her body seems to be in perfect proportion. Her suitors fondly call her ‘the little woman,’ like a husband would call his wife. And there are many suitors. They are always knocking on the door of the house with no windows but no one knows her name. She keeps everything about herself a secret. The jealous women at the End of the World often meet at the hairdressing salon and call her a slut, a wanton hussy trying to pretend she is mysterious. Young boys at night spray graffiti on the walls of her house, but in the morning one of her suitors will scrub it all off. She ahs live at the End of the World all her life but no one claims to know much about her. The only thing that is known for certain is that all her suitors are over seven feet tall and wear long wavy beards. When they walk past each other on the street they salute solemnly. They don’t know that every night at midnight she climbs up the stairs to the attic, to her secret room. She sits there each night writing daily entries into her private journal. Beside her on the writing desk is a framed photograph of her father. He is an extremely tall man with a long wavy beard and sometimes she looks at the photograph longingly like the way a wife of a sailor would when her husband is far away, out to sea.
I’m thinking of you
but I can’t see your face
any more in my memories.
To the seven foot tall blond woman, sucking her thumb.
Someone famous visited the End of the World. She sailed into the bay on a tall ship and when she set foot on the pier there was no one waiting to greet her. There was no paparazzi or police escort and the hotels were booked out, so at night she slept on the ship. There were no news reports of her arrival on the only television station at the End of the World. There was no civic reception and advertising companies did not clamour asking her to endorse their product. The only ones to pay attention to her were the stray cats and they sprayed their tails in doorways as her entourage passed by. Eventually tired of being ignored she sailed on her ship away fro the End of the World. This is not a place for tourists. This is where you come to when life has dealt you a knock out blow. This is where you take time out to gather your strength so you can get up from the canvas and give life a black eye and kiss Death on the mouth.
From the Italian migrant
with the caustic wit
and a taste for the absurd.
To the Polynesian barmaid in the red evening dress.
I first met Helen at the Nightclub at the End of the World. She was dancing with a man with three heads. I walked up to her with my parrot on my shoulder and gave her a bouquet of cactus. When we kissed a barber-shop quartet dressed in drag, sang Christmas carols in Hebrew. I made love to her on a bed of nails and a sparrow fell from the sky and landed in a glass of water. When she has her period, lava spills from volcanos in far away countries. When I kiss her the tastebuds on my tongue sprout mushrooms. On her birthday a million starving people in Afghanistan became obese. When she sleeps at night, armies invade the deserts and set up camp on icy ponds. Hundreds of men send her love letters and she responds by sending poems written n invisible ink tied to the ankles of blind homing pigeons. When Helen goes to the toilet a thousand samurai commit hara-kiri. Last night she told me she loved me and I said, ‘please stop this is getting too surreal.’ A man parachuted from a helicopter and landed at my feet. He was wearing a khaki wedding gown and a cigar dangled from his mouth. He tattooed a haiku to my chest and kissed Helen on the mouth. He carried her to a waiting camel that sang Al Jolson songs and I never saw her again.
From the jealous poet
befriending his rival
and stealing his poems.
To the young woman with a fur fox on her head
I met a young woman at the casino at the End of the World. She seemed to speak in cryptic messages. I asked her how old she was and she said she was as old as Methuselah, as young as a carrot. She intrigued me and I asked her out to dinner. She invited me to have dinner at her place the next night and told me to bring a bowel of mixed lettuce. As I waked away she said, ‘I better warn you I may become a lesbian.’ The following night I knocked on her door and she led me into her dining room where three men were seated at a large dining table. Each man had a bowel in his lap. One had diced onions in his bowel. One had diced tomatoes and he other had black olives. She stood at the head of the table and asked if anyone had thought to bring the salad dressing. We all said we hadn’t. She put her hands on her hips and said, ‘A woman would have thought to bring the salad dressing. Tonight I will become a lesbian.’ She asked us all to leave and as we walked out her front door, she called out to us smiling, ‘I think you guys should have brought umbrellas.’ The four of us stood at her front gate wondering what just happened. At that moment it started to rain at the End of the World in a torrential downpour seldom ever experienced here.
From the horny
old dog writing
in his journal.
Dear Morticia the ice queen,
I’ve known you for a long time and I care for you dearly. I don’t mind that you cheated on me and had sex with a bouncer while I was in the lounge room watching the Greco-Roman wrestling event from the Olympic Games. It’s okay that you hate cats and keep a python in a large fish tank and feed it live kittens. I didn’t think twice when I heard you were the prime suspect in a serial murder investigation involving the death of seven nubile young men (although seven has always been your lucky number.) I wasn’t angry when I found out you had sabotaged every relationship I had since we broke up by telling all my girlfriends I had A.I.D.S. I just shrugged my shoulders and smiled. The fact that you model your philosophy of life on the teachings of Charles Manson doesn’t shock me. I was a little concerned that your last three boyfriends had died from the same mysterious illness and that you were sole beneficiary of their wills, but I put it down to a strange coincidence. But today I heard the most shocking news. I heard that you think Kylie Minogue is a goddess, and that Ricky Martin is the new Elvis. Really, Morticia – that is too much. May God have mercy on your soul. There are some things that cannot be forgiven and I think we had better not see each other anymore.
All my love,
From Harry Houdini
and his magic sword.
To the young woman with the Mickey Mouse tattoo on her wrist.
I have the same dream every night. I am walking through a desert. I have not eaten for many days and I am very tired. Finally I come to a mountain and there is a cave and I enter. It is cool inside and on the floor of the cave is a sack of berries. I eat a handful of the berries and then fall asleep. Every time I wake up from my dream I feel relaxed as though I need this dream to give me strength through each day. Last night I met an attractive girl with light brown hair and large hazel eyes. She told me that no man has ever made love to her and she always felt alone. I had never told anyone before about my recurring dream, but I told Katrina. She reached out for my left hand on the restaurant table and touched me gently. Her hand was soft and I felt an incredible longing. Later we walked to her house. I laid on the bed beside her and it was a hot summer’s night and I perspired profusely. I undressed her on the bed and removed her panties only to find that she had no vagina. I saw her looking at me with her sad hazel eyes. I kissed her and told her it was all right and lay down with her and held her close to me. She reached down to her navel and with both hands began to stretch it open. Within a minute there was an enormous opening and she told me to climb inside. I crept inside her navel and it was cool there. I was tired and fell asleep. In my dream I am walking through the desert and she is there with me holding my hand gently. We come to a lake and there is a small boat on the shore. We get inside and she begins to row to the other side and when we get there a cool breeze blows gently over us.
From the stranger
who is your
To the dog curled asleep at a woman’s feet.
My friend is starting a new business. She is about to become a merchant. She isn’t selling cheap clothing donated by family members of the deceased. She isn’t selling manufactured meat and calling it gourmet hamburgers. She isn’t a high tech madam of prostitution over the inter-net. She doesn’t own a fish and chip shop that is a front for money laundering or child pornography. She has become an importer of perfume. It is not an everyday perfume which smells like all its competitors. It is not manufactured courtesy of the death of many animals. It is a perfume unlike any other which she had to travel to Geneva to procure. It doesn’t have one identifiable scent but offers any one of a million possibilities that only someone who smells it can recognise. To a businessman it smells like money. To a sailor it smells like an ocean wave during a violent summer storm. To a builder it smells like sawdust. To a chef it smells like a perfectly cooked medium rare fillet mignon with sautéed truffles on the side, bathed in gravy so fine and smooth it glistens in the candlelight. To a baker it smells like golden brown bread straight from the oven. To a farmer it sells like fresh cow dung on a spring day. To a painter it smells like turpentine. To a doctor it reeks of iodine. To a mechanic it smells like a combination of sump oil and gasoline. When the merchant woman dabs a little perfume behind her ears, it is another different fragrance all together. It is the only product she believes in and it smells like a perfect faith, like speed, like a drowning man in an ocean waving for a life raft. It smells like the holy water blessed upon a baby’s brow at a christening. When she wears her perfume it smells like her laughter: wild and gregarious, like a mob of drunken seamen standing on a pier singing songs of sirens stranded on rocks.
From the organ grinder
with a maladjusted chimpanzee
as his only companion.
To the blind saxophonist, of the Salvation Army band.
I have been the manager of this massage parlour for twelve years. We cater for every sexual fantasy, from bondage to golden showers, and all the girls have their regular clients. Nothing shocks me and I have seen it all but it never ceases to amaze me how popular Ingrid is. She charges twice as much as the other girls but doesn’t perform sex. For three hundred dollars an hour she lies on the bed with her clients, fully dressed and holds them. She caresses their foreheads and kisses them, which no other girl will do. They tell her their problems and she listens patiently and when they are finished she whispers in their ear that everything will be all right. She thinks long and hard before she gives the advice. The clients enter her room with worried brows and leave relaxed and smiling. For an extra hundred dollars she will tell them about her past and they are intrigued by her honesty. Her motto in life is, ‘No bullshit.’ I tell her she shouldn’t get so involved with her clients and she sighs and says she is only giving them what their wives and girlfriends can’t: unconditional love. When she leaves here in the early mornings she catches a taxi and the men queued outside our front door eave goodbye to her.
From the son of the wife
who sold her family down the river.
To the long legged blond falling down the stairs.
I was walking along a beach at the End of the World. I could see a figure in the distance running towards me. To my right was a cargo ship moored in the bay. She was tall with her long blond hair in a ponytail. She wore a long white see-through nightie and running shoes. She dropped a white handkerchief and I called out to her stop but she kept on running. I took off after her but she ran at an incredible pace and I had to stop to catch my breath. I looked up and could see her standing on a hill. I climbed up to the top but she was gone. I looked out to sea and could see a lone figure standing on the railing of the cargo ship. I climbed down the hill and dived into the ocean and swam towards the ship. A crewman helped me aboard and I looked for her every where until finally I came to the captain’s cabin. I opened the door and she was seated at a table naked except for a diamond tiara on her head. There was a small feast set on the table. I sat down and ate a chicken leg. I then paused and made my confession. ‘I have fallen in love with you.’ She had some salad on her fork and ate it. Ten she looked at me and said, ‘I love you too. You make my cunt ache.’ I choked on my food. She laughed and said, ‘You didn’t expect that did you? Have you got my handkerchief?’ And then she drank a glass of wine to wash down her food.
From the reluctant celebrity
Chanting, ‘Hare Krisna’
in a one hundred room mansion.
To the girl complaining her breasts were too small to her friends.
Before I banished myself to the End of the World, I lived with a woman who worked part time in a massage parlour. We had lived together before and I had broken up with her. I had a feeling that she was living with me this time to get her revenge. Later I was proved right and we ended up in court. That was just before I came here. There was one peaceful night that I remember though. Fran had come home from work at two in the morning and had gone straight to bed. I stayed up all night writing a story that was never going to be published about a woman who kept her memories in a brown paper bag. I was writing a portrait of the woman asleep in my bed, only a few paces away. My flat had a view of the city and I could see the dawn cast light upon the skyscrapers in the distance. I stopped writing because I could hear Fran breathe as she slept. I walked over to the bed and was about to kiss her forehead when I smelt the fragrance of her sleep. It was like the salt air from the ocean. It was not like the sweet scent of strawberries or a rose. It was the salty perspiration of a breathing and sleeping woman. A few weeks later I left that city to come here and live at the End of the World. The women here aren’t angelic of perfect but they try hard to be human even if that is an impossible state of being to attain.
From the man staring
at the three triplet boys
staring at him
To the raven haired sired stranded on jagged rocks.
I was weary after waging a ten-year battle to regain my dignity, to walk tall and strong. I walked past the luxurious and decadent cafes of a busy tourist promenade at the End of the World. I noticed the women… the way they glow with sensuality beside their men. The way words flow from their sharp tongues. The way the dresses and skirts cling to their bodies. The way they can kill you with just a single glance, or comfort you with one enigmatic smile. They way the let you win, or lose them and it means nothing to them either way. The way they conspire to plot the downfall of men in their little coteries or mourn the loss of love in solitude. The way the can manipulate in a thousandth of a second the destiny of the Genius, or the death of the Fool. The way they can smother you with tenderness and rescue you from certain defeat yet it was them who lead you there in the first place. The way they dance to life’s primitive ritual or stand close to you quiet and still… that night my dignity came back and whispered to me never to forget this night as the women at the End of the World sleep gently beside their men. I wait again for another woman to call my name.
From the aspiring
young actor watching
television in his pyjamas.
To the famous comedian lying on his death bed.
Every man at the accounting firm I worked for was in love with Anna, including me. She was a genius with figures and no one ever beat her at the trivia nights held every Thursday after work. Every time someone asked her why she wasn’t married, she would rub her palms together like a mad scientist in some movie and replay, ‘don’t you worry I have a plan.’ She would work at the accounting books at her desk at a furious pace like Jackson Pollock working furiously on his next masterpiece. Then one day she mysteriously quit her job. Various rumours circulated around the office about Anna embezzling the company’s profits and also there was talk she had been having an affair with the boss by his wife. I didn’t believe any of he rumours. The boss was devastated because she was his best worker. I took three weeks annual leave and decided to search for heart the End of the World. In the last week of my search I went to the Race Track. It made sense. She was great with figures and astute when it came to money. I saw her standing with standing with a bookmaker’s bag hanging over her shoulder. She smiled when she saw me and we went for a cup of coffee after the last race. She told me she was tired of making other people money and wanted o be her own boss on her own terms. Later we went and saw a movie and I took her home to my apartment and we made love. The ext morning as she lay beside me I told her I loved her and asked her to marry me. She burst out laughing. I felt humiliated and asked her what was so funny. ‘You fool,’ she said, ‘I left my job because I wanted you to pursue me. Of course I will marry you. That was my plan all along.’ She rubbed her palms together and laughed again in a deep and sinister voice like a lunatic.
From the man
Playing computer games
In the internet cafe
To the tree year old girl drinking a ‘baby-cino.’
Brian was known as the ‘con man at the End of the World.’ He was an average artist who forged copies of famous painting and sold them at private auctions. He had several money making schemes including receiving many unemployment cheques under false names. His greatest swindle was to convince Emma that he loved her and only she could change him. Emma was born in Romania and came to the End of the World to study fine arts. In order to pay her fees and book costs she strip teased at the Men’s Club. I met them both there playing pool and Brian was a former amateur snooker player before he was deported from Ireland to the End of the World. I better tell you right now that I was secretly in love with Emma too. One night I stayed at heir place and slept in the spare room. I was woken in the early morning by heavy snoring. I went into the lounge room to have a cigarette and heard Emma call my name. The snoring had stopped. I opened the door to the bedroom and they were both in bed. Brian was asleep on his back with the covers over him. Emma was next to him naked under the blanket and she had her right hand over his nostrils to stop him from snoring. She smiled at me and said in her broken English, ‘I’m clever aren’t I, yes?’ I looked at her and smiled in agreement, and thought to myself, ‘not only are you clever, you’re funny and beautiful too.’
From the man
who you let escort you
one summer’s night.
To the old man trawling for women in the cocktail bar.
The diner at the End of the World was the last place I expected to see her. I left her in another city to come here and forget. Now she was serving me coffee wearing the waitress uniform and her long blond wavy hair tied up in a ponytail. I told her she still looked beautiful and she replied that I had aged a lot since she last saw me. It was true the God of good looks had not treated me well and I had lost my pretty boy face. I had learnt to be grateful for small things. The God of television always put my favourite films on to cheer me up when I felt low. Although the God of bountiful and beautiful women had not smiled upon me for a while, I had enough memories to last me until the next one blessed me by coming into to my life. The God of friendship had given me many friends who understood me. The God of creativity was still feeding me with small crumbs and I had enough to feast upon for quite a while yet. She said she was to busy to serve me and walked away and I could of said something to put her in her place, but I said nothing. The God of solitude sat down beside me like it had when she broke up with me twenty years ago and it helped me to write this postcard to you.
From the man
who is waiting for
the last and perfect laugh.
To the ambassador of a place lost in time
To some people I am a media whore. To others I am a shrewd manipulating gold digger. To the many men who used me I am a great lay but here I am the most glamorous failure to ever have travelled to the End of the World. Everyone knows my story: how I was born in Ireland but faked a Spanish accent and changed my name to ‘Gigi’ I was so famous I sold out the Men’s Club for seven years running playing five nights a week. I never stripped off completely but wore corsets and fishnet stockings while sitting on a leather couch in the middle f the stage. I would take questions from the audience and they would ask about my many lovers and the various sexual acts I performed with them and I always answered in graphic detail. They ate it up. I was a whore and I spoke like one. It made men very excited and then they went home to their wives. At the end of each show I always finished with the ‘alligator.’ It was a dance I had invented. I thrashed my long legs around the stage re-enacting the gnashing jaws of the alligator and climaxed it with horizontal splits. I never did leave the End of the World. I liked how no one bothered me after the shows assuming I would go home with them. I liked the way the children smiled at me as I walked past their playgrounds. I like the way the women thanked me for making their sex lives less dreary after their husbands had come home after my shows. What I liked most was that I was a whore but no one ever treated me like one here at the End of the World.
From the woman
who you would love to possess
but you don’t have the courage.
To the female German backpacker, talking to a stranger on the tram.
As my wife, the woman with he enormous breasts once said, ‘it is weird, but it is kind of sweet too.’ That best describes the End of the World. It isn’t perfect. There is poverty and squalor. There is betrayal. The rich get richer. The difference is that when you are down at the lowest point in your life, no one will come to kick you or rub your nose in the gutter. There is always someone to talk to. They may not be able to help you but they will listen and to some people that is more important than money. There is no doubt the End of the World is a strange place. Summer always lasts for exactly fifty-nine days. The heat is unbearable but on the sixtieth day there, a storm arrives which brings heavy rain which is warm to the skin. All the women at the End of the World from the ages of eighteen to sixty run out on to the streets and dance in the rain. They scream like banshees and when the rain stops they go back into their houses and make love to their partners like they never have before. All the men agree that this ritual is weird, but kind of sweet too and they never experience such wild passion like they do after the storms each year.
From the crazy man
dancing to no music
in the street.
To the broad shouldered beer drinking saint
I’ve been married for ten years now. I’m not a religious man but there isn’t a day that goes by that I and every other man at the End of the World doesn’t offer thanks to a young carpenter called Paul. Twenty years ago a rally was organised on a one hundred hectare property on the outskirts of the city. Every unmarried woman and girl attended. The guest speaker, a conformed lesbian was brief and articulate. She told the rally that the reason she loved women was because men were ugly and women were beautiful. ‘We are sexy, and men aren’t. Why should we stay with men? This isn’t about politics or power, status or money, but if we united we would get all those things. I just want to ask you why you would want to love a man, when I am, and you all are so beautiful and perfect.’ There was twenty seconds of silence and then each woman turned to the woman next to them and kissed them. For the next six months, there was chaos at the End of the World. All male and female relationships had broken down and the social fabric of the city had been destroyed. All the women had become lesbians. The Mayor called a rally and asked all the women to gather at the same property they had gathered at six months earlier. He arranged the most senior, from universities, the arts and business to state the reasons why men and women should be together. After half an hour the women were bored and many were
about to leave when Paul the carpenter climbed the stage, carrying a large knife. He pushed the speaker off the podium and told the crowd, if a woman couldn’t love him, he didn’t want to live. He thrust the knife into his stomach and disembowelled himself. All the women were appalled and yet moved that someone could love them so much that he would kill himself. After a few weeks most of the women returned to their former heterosexual lifestyles. Paul’s sacrifice had made an impact on them although when a man proposed to one of them, they all thought, ‘if he really loved me he would disembowel himself.’
From macho man
with an eye patch
over his heart.
To the silent man who could not speak during his own execution.
Fifty years ago, the End of the World was a barren place. It had no inhabitants. The enormous waterfall was the only distinguishing feature there. A scientist happened to be conducting seismic experiments in the region and discovered that this place had the weakest infrastructure on the planet. It was a hundred times more volatile than the San Andreas Fault. An earthquake as minor as point three on the Richter scale could trigger the destruction of Earth. Journalists soon found out about the scientists findings and reported the story in the major newspapers. People flocked to the End of the World for various reasons. Suicides thought this was the easiest place to come to die. Adventurers and thrill seekers saw it as the ultimate challenge. Writers and artists came here to capture the atmosphere of the place in their novels and paintings. Some people came because they were excited at being at the site of a major catastrophe. Soon milk bars, supermarkets and restaurants were built for the growing population. Architects were commissioned to design tall office buildings. No city had been created as quickly as the End of the World. Poets called it, ‘the gold rush of the Soul.’ The people here lived on the edge of a razor blade as though each day were their last. It’s the only place where someone burgles your house and leaves a note of apology. Bank managers work for free. When a woman signs at the End of the World, it is like a high-pitched note of a saxophone, like a cat screaming, like the last sound you will hear as you leave the world.
God Bless you from
the choirboy with the slingshot
in his hands.
To the over zealous lovers, hid tongue locked in a French Kiss.
The End of the World is different to any other place. In supermarkets instead of elevator music, the play Sex Pistols over the p.a. In the Nightclub at the End of the World, there are no condom machines and instead the bouncers hand out copies of Catcher in the Rye to couples as they leave. The Lord Mayor at the End of the World had a budget surplus the envy of the whole planet. Rather than spend the money on perks for his colleagues or erect bronze statues in honour of famous people, he chose to commission programs that would actually benefit the people here. He transformed abandoned warehouses into restaurants that sold dinners at cost price. The most popular program that the lord mayor introduced was the placements of park benches on every street corner at the End of the World. There can be great stress and anguish living here and the benches were provided for the people to rest and gather their thoughts. It was quite common for couples to be quarrelling on the street and end their relationship. They would walk away from their partners in anger and then sit down on a bench. They would think about what they were arguing about and then imagine their life without their lover. Then they would get up and run towards each other and not one word needed to be spoken. The sparrows found the benches at the End of the World quite comfortable too and built nests in tree close by. The first flight of a baby sparrow was to fly from a tree and land on the arm of a nearby park bench.
From the street
nursing a fractured hand.
To the five year old blond girl, sitting on my lap.
When I first came to the End of the World I asked a bartender why there was only one television station here and he replied mysteriously, ‘to stop revolutions.’ I studied politics at the University and noticed that none of the students were interested in joining any political clubs. I read old newspapers on file at the University library and found out the reason why no one at the End of the World had political aspirations. Thirty years ago there was not one but four revolutions occurring at the same time and each leader overtook a television station to broadcast their policies. After a couple of weeks the people became bored with television and stopped watching. After the revolutions had run their course because no one was interested in politics, a Lord Mayor was eventually elected, but he was given no official power to run the End of the World. Unemployed volunteers formed committees to decide policies and make decisions because they lived on the streets and knew what problems concerned most people. Somehow the End of the World ran itself and the Lord Mayor’s only duty was to choose the programs on the one sole television station allowed to run after the revolutions. As long as their favourite films and comedy shows were shown on the television station the people at the End of the World were happy. No one ever tried to overthrow the Lord Mayor as he had excellent taste in programming entertainment for the people.
From the jealous boyfriend
of the nymphomaniac
loved by a thousand men.
To the man so drunk he abuses his own shadow.
Everyone asks me what the End of the World looks like. ‘Describe it to us,’ they ask. One word best paints a picture of the place: waterfall. The End of the World is a huge sprawling metropolis built on rock hard clay and beneath it runs a hundred mile wide underground river. It ends at the edge of the End of the World and becomes a giant waterfall. The river acts as the sewerage of physical life and for the souls of the people at the End of World. In every kitchen there is a hole in the floor where they deposit their garbage and it is carried by the river and over the edge of the waterfall. At night when they dream their fears and worries too are carried by the river and over the edge. The river exits in the hearts of the people at the End of the World and they know no matter what tragedy befalls them, they will be washed clean s they sleep at night. Only one person has ever leapt over the edge of the waterfall and observers say that she fell for miles and is still falling to this day. There is a theory that Sonia didn’t commit suicide but wanted to become one with the waterfall. There is a ritual at the End of the World that on each person’s birthday they throw a garland of roses over the edge of the waterfall and say a prayer of thanks. Then they walk back home to the sprawling mass of humanity that lives at the End of the World as the roses keep falling for all eternity.
From the gospel
singing bawdy ballads.
To the young woman sitting at her computer smoking a cigarette.
Today even the hookers at the End of the World wear flowers in their hair as they trawl the city streets selling their wares. The garbage men sing top forty songs as they go form house to house. When they finish work they drink themselves to a drunken stupor and dream of a life without filth. Three-year old girls squat on the pavement and pee, then smile at their parents. Amid Elections in America, genocide in eastern bloc countries and famine in Ethiopia, lovers laugh at each other on this fine afternoon at café tables drinking coffee and eating Eggs Benedikt. Spring saunters through the End of the World taking down notes of the many people sitting quietly in parks. It watches the young men stand together outside their cars, wolf whistling at the women walking past. Spring listens to the young children ask their father if bears go to the toilet when they hibernate. The father doesn’t know the answer but Spring knows. It chuckles to itself and watches a robin build an impossible nest on a skyscraper at the End of the World.
From the merchant
woman writing her
To the fat man in broad shorts, selling cocaine to children.
I heard of a bull fight promoter from Spain who travelled to the End of the World. He saw great potential to make a lot of money from the masses of humanity who gathered there to ponder life. No one complained when he commissioned a bull ring to be built, as to protest would go against the secret code at the End of the World where everyone has the right to do what they want to. The Spanish promoter was aware of this code and he rubbed his hands with glee at the prospect of all the millions of dollars he would make. The mayor sanctioned the event under the proviso that he be the one to choose the first bull to meet its death. Thousands of lonely people gathered at the arena and watched the mayor choose the first bull from twenty animals paraded in front of him in the middle of the arena. They were huddled together with chains through their noses that kept them from roaming free. The mayor selected the largest bull with the shiniest black coat and the sharpest horns. The arena went silent as a much-decorated bullfighter appeared and began to wave his red cape at the bull. The bull did not move. For ten minutes the bullfighter tried every trick he knew to entice the bull into rage, but t remained motionless. In desperation he took out a large sword and thrust it into the bulls hide but the sword broke in half. The bullfighter was the one now enraged and he took out a small pistol and fired it into its massive head, but the bullets ricocheted and hit him in the chest. The crowd cheered as one as the bull calmly stood there for a few minutes and then bent it’s knees and rested on the ground beside the dead bullfighter. It closed its eyes and went to sleep. No one knows for sure if bull have dreams but occasionally its tail flicked in the air and a great stream of mist came out of its nostrils. Everyone in the arena at the End of the World threw their hats in the air.
from the man-child artist
you sold down the river
To the hero who lies dying in the seaweed.
My mother and I have just returned from Bali. She paid for my trip to help me get over my divorce from Gary. During one of our days there we were in a remote village and one of the old ladies saw the small tattoo of a snake on my wrist and she grabbed my arm and made me sit down with her. She told me of the serpent woman who had terrorised the village for two centuries. She had the body of a gigantic snake and the head of a beautiful woman, with long black hair and green eyes that put you in a trance. Spears of fire could not kill her. She came to the village twice a year to kill and eat one of the young men – women and children did not interest her. The old lady told me that she had three sons and she was worried that one day she would lose them all to the Serpent Woman. Her anguished tears worried her eldest son and one night when the Serpent Woman was due to come to the village he went to the beach to wait for her. A few hours later he saw her form in the waves. He began to sing a song as she got closer and when she was only a few feet away he looked into her deep green eyes and told her that he loved her. He walked up to her and put his hands under her chin and kissed her and he heard her give out a long sigh. He got on her back and began to sing again, she carried her lover to her island far away, never to return. I walked away from the old woman and left the village and finally I forgot about Gary and a marriage without true love.
From the Girl
with the blue
pick up truck.
Dear happy hooker with the degree in fine arts.
Sometimes you need to dig deep in your memory to find out more about yourself. Last night I was thinking about my childhood. I remember one of my aunts telling me stories about Mickey Mouse living underneath my bed and how sailors when they drowned turned into dolphins. On my eighteenth birthday, my father took me aside and warned me never to get married and end up with some shrew for the rest of my life. This morning I broke up with my fiancée Karen. We had been together for five years and she had always wanted a white wedding. I told her that the problem was me, that everyday when I walk the streets I see beautiful women and fall in love ten times a day. She screamed and ran out the house and I heard her start her car and drive off. I didn’t want it to end this way so I got into my car and tried to follow. She drove well above the speed limit and it was hard keeping up with her. An hour later she stopped at the beach and was walking into the water when I had arrived. I ran onto the beach and took off my shoes and jacket and was about to swim after her but when I looked up she was gone. I waited for a couple of minutes desperately hoping that she would surface. Forty yards out a sleek black dolphin leapt out o the waves and somersaulted. It appeared again and it hovered above the water for a few seconds in the air waving its fin and then it too was gone. I waited for a few minutes more staring into the ocean and then I walked back to my car.
From the man
who sings like a
drunken weary angel.
To the cellist playing electric bass in a band on stage at a pub.
Yesterday afternoon, a man in his late thirties was sitting next to me at a bus stop. He lit a cigarette and the wind carried some of the smoke into my face. He asked me if it was bothering me and I told him it wasn’t, but really it did. He was quite good looking but I hated men who smoke. I go to the gym every day and I eat a strict vegetarian diet. I was thinking about my last boyfriend and how messy the break up was and I was quite over men. ‘I beg your pardon,’ the man said. ‘You look worried about something. I don’t mean to be rude.’ He smiled and asked me if I had ever travelled. I didn’t want to be drawn into the conversation and I told him I hadn’t even though I had been to the States many times. ‘You should go to Romania,’ he continued. ‘It’s the storks there I love the most. During mating season the male storks land on the thatched roofs of the village huts and sing. The mating call by one stork is nice on its own but when they sing together, it is like a Welsh Choir, like a Gregorian Chant. I don’t cry often but even thinking about it now makes me weep.’ ‘Do the females respond?’ I asked. ‘Sometimes,’ he replied, ‘but that’s not the point. It is the song they sing that matters. It is the most lonely and beautiful song in the world.’ I sat there for a few minutes thinking about the storks on the roofs of the huts and then I asked him for a taste of his cigarette. I had never smoked before and it made me cough when I tried to inhale. He touched my hand lightly and said that I didn’t have to smoke for his sake, even though you should always try something at lest once. The bus drove past our stop because we were too busy talking to hail it, but I didn’t mind so much, as neither of us was in a hurry to be anywhere.
From the prisoner
in her cell reading
poetry at midnight.
To the civil rights lawyer writing her thesis
There is an island near the End of the World where the inhabitants only ate one species of fish. The river of this island was the source of the finest barramundi in the universe and the villagers thrived on the diet but could not eat anything else. A few years ago a ship landed on the island and the captain was treated to a feast of barramundi cooked in coconut leaves, by the natives. The next day he ordered his crew to catch some of the fish to take away with them. The crewmen caught several fish and presented them to the captain and on closer inspection it was discovered that inside each barramundi was a giant black pearl. The captain communicated with the authorities from his homeland and a fleet of ships arrived within a month at the island. For twelve moths the river was trawled for barramundi until there were no fish left. The ships then left the island with their rich cargo of pearls and barramundi flesh that was found to be suitable for freezing. The islanders slowly died of starvation. They tried to eat vegetables and berries but their digestive system was unsuitable and everything they ate was regurgitated. The last islander died but there was no one to bury him.
From the inspired fool
writing his love songs
to no one in particular.
To the man wearing a two foot high mo-hawk.
Not everyone likes living here at the End of the World. It can be an annoying place. The morbid poets writing about their despair all perform at comedy cafes. The teenagers who go to raves, take it literally and don’t dance, but instead talk incessantly about their lives to each other. The menu at the Diner at the End of the World doesn’t make sense. The fish tastes like chicken, the steaks like beetroot and broccoli tastes like sweet soufflé. Magic clubs are all the rage here as people attend them to forget their troubles. The magicians at the End of the World are all women and their assistants are usually clumsy men who are devastatingly good looking. The most popular magician is ‘Zelda the Sad.’ She doesn’t saw men in half, make rabbits appear out of hats, or dazzle the audience with sleight of hand. She wears her trademark red gown with the plunging neckline and stands in front of a microphone. She calls out to someone from the audience who has just experienced a tragedy or misfortune to join her on stage. She asks the person to tell the audience why they are feeling sad and by the end of their story, they always break down in tears. Zelda pauses for a few seconds and then whispers into the person’s ear something only they can hear. No one knows what she says but every time without fail, a sudden transformation takes s place and a grin as long as the Mississippi River appears on the person’s face and they leave the stage in great spirits. The audience always give Zelda
A standing ovation, because they know there are no tricks or allusions. The End of the World is a strange and annoying place but you could never say we are phonies.
From the millionaire
moonlighting as a janitor
painting on weekends.
Dear super-model with the bucked-tooth lisp,
I am a history professor. Last night I had a strange dream. The government had invented a time machine, but there was a problem – it could not bring people back to the present: a one-way ticket to the past. The world was on the brink of World War Three and oblivion. The plan was to send me back to the Garden of Eden and to tell Adam and Eve of the horrors of the world so they could warn future generations. A few seconds later I appeared in Eden standing next to Eve. She was beautiful and perfectly formed, but Adam was a few feet away and hadn’t fully evolved. He was half ape, half man, and had not yet learned to speak. I took Eve aside and told her of humanities dark future. I told her of Jesus and the crucifixion, and of the murder and pillage in the centuries to follow. I told her of the reign of Mussolini and Hitler, and the destruction caused by the atom bomb. She listened carefully and a worried frown appeared on her brow. She looked so beautiful I asked her to be mine. Eve thought long and hard, and every second felt like eternity. Finally she looked up at me and told me she could not love me because I was from the future, and mixing our blood and history might cause problems with our children. She put her arm around my shoulder and said that she knew Adam was a bit dumb but she liked dark and silent men anyway. She told me we could still be friends; it wasn’t the end of the world. I felt and intense and unbearable longing.
the organ grinder
Dear Goldilocks and the three muscle builders
I am the wicked witch, the most hated being at the End of the World, but lately I’ve grown tired of evil. You can only make so many poisoned apples. You get weary of eating children and turning princes into frogs. I want to get my long fingernails cut and painted and plastic surgery done to straighten my crooked nose. I arranged a meeting with Cinderella and Snow White to let them know of my decision to be nice. I sent them my book of spells to let them know it wasn’t a trap. The two beauties came to my castle and I thought they would be pleased but they were both angry. They told me that I was ruining everything. It seemed that me being wicked and ugly made them look good and admired in the land and they were afraid they would stop getting dates. They told me that there was a whole industry based on me and that I would put a lot of princes rescuing damsels in distress out of work. Also, because I was bad and always failing, a lot of witches decided to take the path of being good and the whole kingdom was getting their wishes granted and doing rather nicely. They pleaded with me not to change. For the first time in my life I felt wanted and I agreed to their wish and decided to wave my wand and give them a bag if gold. But I have never done good deeds and I did not have my book of spells and I accidentally turned Snow White and Cinderella into roast chickens. It was a bit of a shame but I was hungry and they tasted so sweet. It seems even when I am good, I end up being bad.
the good time gal
in a room filled with mirrors
To the woman reading Tolstoy, to her seven year old daughter.
There was a pack of twenty large women who roamed the piano bars at the End of the World. They were scorned at by a lot of people but they were unashamed of their buxom figures, although slim girls were desired by most men. They would often respond that women with large figures would one day become fashionable. They were personification of the word ‘almost.’ They were almost fat. They were almost tall. They were almost ugly. They preferred the word, ‘gregarious.’ Most men avoided the pack of giant women but there was one man who admired them. He was the skinniest man at the End of the World. He was so thin the wind blew through his bones. It wasn’t that he had a fetish for fat women. He was tired of women obsessed with dieting and wearing skimpy clothes trying to look like young girls. As intimidating as the pack of giant women were, there was something natural about them and he liked the way they didn’t care what people thought. They weren’t girls. They were all women as far as he was concerned. The skinniest man at the End of the World approached the largest woman of the pack who had gathered at the piano bar at the End of the World. HE told her he thought they were all beautiful. She smiled at him and put her flabby arms around his thin body. The pack of Giant women all swarmed around him and he was never seen again. Some people at the End of the World believe he finally found true happiness.
From the dietician
dying of cancer
of the bowel.
Dear Genghis Khan and his seven dwarves,
A friend of mine told me a story about her twin sister Mary, who was overweight. She went to see her family doctor. He told her she had to exercise more and gave her the address of a bicycle shop. He said it was important that she told the owner that the doctor had sent her. She was given a blue bicycle with wooden wheels. She decided she would ride it home and then lock it in the garage forever. But when she arrived home, she couldn’t get off the bicycle because her feet were stuck to the pedals. She rode through the afternoon and into the night. When she wanted to sleep she closed her eyes and the pedals worked on their own and the bicycle steered itself. Every morning at seven-thirty and every night at nine o’clock, no matter where she was, the same man would be waiting on the road side to hand her a special dietary food in a brown paper bag as she rode past. She rode non-stop for exactly one year until she came to a river. The pedals on the bicycle seized up. Mary got off and sat on the bank to rest, and she noticed her reflection in the clear water. She was slim and her hair had grown down her back. Someone sat down beside her. It was the man who had always given her food. He stroked her hair and old her she looked beautiful although he’d quite liked her the way she was before. A deep sound rumbled in her throat for a long time, almost like the sound of a cat purring.
Hooray for Hollywood,
from Sally, when I say goodbye
I only mean for ever.
To the Somalian Princess, with the dread-lock extensions.
Shunned by civilisation, a family of trolls lived under the bridge at the End of the World. The troll’s wife carved up the roasted dog as her husband and the baby troll licked their lips. After the glorious feast, the wife cleaned the table while her husband carried their young son to the cot. His wife threw the scraps into he river. Her husband told a bedtime story to his son: ‘There was a young human who became governor of a large state. He was aware there was much crime so he made it his duty to uphold the death penalty. Whether they were innocent or guilty didn’t concern the governor and many men were executed. He soon became popular and was elected President. He knew that his people, the voters, liked strong leaders so he attacked a small poor nation and became a hero. He had many mistresses and though there were great scandals, his popularity soared. His people like their presidents to be virile. The economy began to weaken and the president knew that only a war could bring prosperity to his nation. He told his people that he was declaring war on the moon and the stock markets reacted favourably to such strong leadership. The president blew the moon out of the sky and there was much rejoicing, but the people forgot that the moon reflected the light from the sun and the nights became pitch black. No artificial light could restore the peace that existed when the moon was in the sky. The president was impeached and exiled to a tropical island with his three mistresses and wrote a best selling autobiography.’ The troll finished his story and his son said, ‘humans are so stupid daddy.’ ‘Not only are they stupid, they are ugly son. They aren’t beautiful like us trolls,’ His father kissed his son’s head and turned out the light.
From the denim clad stranger
patting a black poodle
that licks his hands.
To the drunken girlfriend of a man who didn’t care.
The tallest man at the End of the World read the letter delivered to him by the three foot tall midget. The letter was sent to him by a group of midgets who claimed that a woman at the End of the World was shrinking them. They complained that she was more than six foot tall with long bond hair and when she kissed men they shrunk to the size of midgets. They asked the man if there was anything he could do to stop her shrinking all the men at the End of the World. He went to the Nightclub at the End of the World where the blond woman always frequented and saw her sitting at the bar. He showed her the letter and she scoffed at him. ‘Do you really think you have the power to stop me?’ she asked. ‘I don’t have any powers,’ he replied. ‘I just want to ask you to stop. I know most men are pricks who lie or rape women and who are never faithful but not all men are bad. There are some men out there whose only goal in life is to love and protect women. I believe there is someone out there whose only mission in life is to always make you happy. Please stop. You can’t blame all men for a few idiots. You are beautiful and sweet and deserve to meet someone who adores you.’ She smiled at him and kissed him and within a few seconds he found himself shrinking until he was five foot tall and then the shrinking stopped. ‘Why did you do that?’ he asked. ‘I don’t like my lovers to be taller than me,’ she said and then she took his hand and they walked out of the Nightclub to her house on the mountain overlooking the End of the World.
From the anorexic dance
attracted to men
with false promises.