Absinthe Minded in a Gravy Yard

by Mark Ulyseas

From The Seductive Avatars of Maya – Anthology of Dystopian Lives – book available HERE

He looks down at the diced meat in brown gravy. Reminds him of dead bodies floating down a brown swirling river, people drowned with empty sockets where eyes once were and the fish had been.

The spoon has fallen, sunk beneath the steaming gravy. Joe’s servings are large. This is a dog’s bowl.

Something is moving in the bread that is broken and lying on an off white cloth napkin next to the chipped porcelain salt and pepper set. He reaches for the absinthe. Control comes with a gentle caressing of the senses. Now the room glows. People by the bar look like grotesque wooden dolls, crudely carved. Their cheap liquor smells like varnish.

A piece of bread begins to move across the table. He slaps it down and lifts the bread, peering beneath. Mangled little black bodies. Guilt. A sip of absinthe dispels the gloom. Another line of ants emerge, racing towards the bread. Little critters don’t sleep. No time off. Just work, work and work.

Joe’s comes over.

“Please don’t feed the ants” he says and puts down another glass of absinthe.

Shurely is here. Or is it Shirley?

“May I sit here?” she asks


Between her fingers it is purple. She inspects them. Smells them. Then looks at him.

“Burned my hands. Gentian Violet.”


“Yes” she replies.

Joe’s brings another glass for her and smiles, his teeth like a rotting wicket fence.

They both drink in silence looking into each other’s eyes.

Glowing embers and a few pock marks on her face. Hair tied back. Lips like suction pads. Today she feels a woman. She sees him, a soothsayer with his grey hair and intense look as if he is undressing her. But there is a warmth. All he needs to do is ask.

Shirely takes out her small notebook opens it to a page and hands it him.

Scribbled in pencil is…

It is warm
blood between her thighs
the smell, comforting like a mother’s womb
it is that time
when Nature reminds her
of womanhood, motherhood

And as she rushes to change
she passes the mirror, catches her eyes
staring back accusingly
a decision had to be made, again
to be a mother, or not

It was made once before, a long time ago
by a man who spoke of love
and a surgeon with a knife.

After reading the poem he gets up, hands the book back, and kisses her on the lips. She smells of Intimate, his aunt’s perfume…the one who always wanted to sleep with him when he was a boy, sometimes she did. Just to cuddle.

Joe returns once again with a refill.

“I can’t pay for this”, says Shirley.

“It’s on me, no worries” he replies and raises his glass. His face is relaxed, like a man who has just died, who has paid his dues and moved on.

Maybe he has. Maybe he has moved on and this, all this, is an illusion.

But reality still stalks his thoughts and its name is Shirley.

Absinthe is my travelling companion in the metaphysical world where one frolics in the font, where images become a reality and where one can delete forever those that haunt the soul.

© Mark Ulyseas
September 07, 2014

Seductive Avatars of Maya

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