A Soundless Echo

1920x1080-black-solid-color-backgroundShe was strange, my mother. Always something unseen surrounding her—soundless echoes reaching through a veil. Reaching for whom?

My mother was haunted, and now she’s dead; and now the ghosts she could not tame are attached to me. Neither can I make them pay attention to my demands. I do demand that they abstain, but my veil is too, too thin, and they reach. Reach for whom?

She’d sit at the round table in the softly orange-lit kitchen in the middle of the night, smoking menthol cigarettes and watching things transpire not meant for my young eyes. But my young eyes saw.

My ears heard.

My skin felt.

She believed that Satan worked hard for the money. Am I the fucking money?

I stand on the porch in the middle of the night to smoke a menthol cigarette. Across the dimly lighted street, a black shadow stretches.

I inhale.


Watch the figure climb the steps—a soundless echo, reaching.


© 2019 Kindra M. Austin




Christmas Day I’ll eat mangled offal. The disembowelled harp strings of a once effulgent heart, thrumming with noble intent. Now but a shoddy dishevelled instrument to be played upon by my dinner guest. Any verve long since beaten into submission, withered and died, in the face of insurmountable odds.



My soundtrack: not Bing Crosby or Michael Bublé but blowflies, humming en-masse: elated from laying eggs in the bloated corpse of my previous version. I water myself with acidic poison. ‘What is this?’ I ask my visitor, as he has yet to step from the shadows. ‘Oh that,’ he refers to the wine set before me. ‘Distilled from tears you’ve cried for unworthy cunts,’ he whispers matter-of-factly, while I chew another mouthful of faked orgasms.

Rhythmic panting of wolves, with copper on their breath, sounds like a fitting accompaniment. The wretched iron tiller of my life weighs heavy. Sisyphean by virtue of aching bones, keeping my jaundiced meat fresh a little longer…

The Many-Faced God taps me gently on the shoulder, holding his hour glass; speaking at inaudible decibels. He tells me how long I have, but he knows I can’t hear. He’s sadistic like that. Then he takes a seat as we watch the ash fall, cloaking us in altered carbon confetti. Off-white flakes from a distance look almost beautiful.

Unlike his plus-one. Staring blankly at me from petechial haemorrhages that used to be his eyes. He points at me with a lime rotting hand, laughing silently from an oily maw with brown teeth.

The flies swarm and hover, awaiting me.


© Steve Naisbitt

image: Death Comes to Dinner

Without a Rope

Nocturnal Aesthetic Death Card.JPG

Have another cold slice of heart disease, Dad.
Only make sure to smother it in enough butter to see teeth.
Partly Hydrogenated milk fat laid like mortar on starchy carb bricks.
Cement for suffering arteries:
Failing blood tunnels on the verve of collapse,
Holding tsunami’s tide at bay with a broom.
You tiny, weak-willed, stupid greedy man.
You’ll never learn, until the Many-Faced God’s bleached bone hands are finally around
that thick neck, struggling under the weight of such hardheadedness.
Death hands me his card, perched upon your seat back, hunched over you, smirking.
His spirit horse is already pregnant, with another glutton for punishment
waiting to take your place, as it tramples you.
Not-so-Long-John’s parrot
Charon’s raven
cawing raucously, as he stands at the prow
Heralding the arrival of another fucking idiot
A few more years with family
less important
than another blissful taste of processed sugar and rendered fat?
Since I’ve been unable to get through
Since I failed to reach inside a loved one,
But no, you go ahead!
I’ll pass you off to my God.
‘A man presents his Father:’
Hell-bent and unbowed
Who bungee-jumped from this wretched mortal coil
without a rope…
© Steve Naisbitt/Blackwater Ink
image: Nocturnal Aesthetic Death Card

Blackness All Over the Bed


It was easy to break her marinating heart on a Friday night when she was sat at the candle-lit kitchen table, chain-smoking and listening to Janis Joplin, or The Eagles, or Rod Stewart; sometimes I didn’t, but most times I did because the tone of my voice, or the choice of my words, or the sound of my lungs breathing poisonous air reminded her of my dad. She’d always taught me to be honest, but never liked it when I was honest in the dim firelight encircled by her blackness. The blackness was viscous like the bile she’d vomit after everything else had come up at 3 a.m.

I found her once in the bathroom when I was fourteen years old, passed out in a pool of rejected alcohol, and I left her there, half-hoping she’d asphyxiate. I packed a duffel bag that late afternoon, and ran away with my best friend. We were only gone a few hours; I was relieved to come home and find my mother alive in her bed, heavily asleep.

I can’t believe I’d left my sister. I don’t recall the specifics of that day, but shit must have been head deep, because I cannot imagine abandoning Tara.

Tara. I’ve always looked after her, but now that our mother is gone, the responsibility I feel is heavier than ever. Taking care of my sister is something that’s always been expected of me. I don’t mean like, “hold her hand on your way to school.” I mean legit parenting. But we’re both adults, so that makes the weight all the more cumbersome. And Tara, she’s a fierce woman. She doesn’t need me to parent her, nor does she want me to. But habits are called habits for good reason. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to relinquish the charge of looking after my sister.

Even though I’m tired.

I’m so fucking tired.

My mother was tired when she died. However, I don’t think she was so tired that she was ready to go away. She’d just welcomed a new granddaughter into the world. And her oldest granddaughter is getting married this summer. My mother was tired, but she was also looking forward to so much. I was looking forward to so much; over the past couple of years, she and I had made huge steps towards healing our relationship. She’d cut down significantly on her drinking, and I’d begun to see more of the mother I knew before alcoholism took hold of her. So now, I just feel fucking robbed.

Two nights ago, I was cooking dinner, and thinking of my mother. I had to stop what I was doing, I was so overcome. I went into my bedroom, and screamed until my throat went hoarse.

Then I threw up blackness all over the bed.


© Kindra M. Austin