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Edward Clarke

Matches and matches and matches (subjects below the balcony)

April 18, 2016 or; Memorials (subtitled)
Even the trilingual dead can’t speak to the living. Can’t voice their displeasure.
The teacher passed quietly. She did not announce to the world that the world itself had ended; she simply laid down and went with it. She did not announce to her daughters that the time had come, nor did she tell them there would ever be a time. She simply laid down and went with it.
At the funeral three speeches are given in English and there is no translator. Her family cries among themselves. A boy, tired of the festivities, walks through a white tent flap to the veneer and crystal-cut, to a seating area, chairs shrouded, veiled, in daisy-yellow. A bowl of matches, complimentary matches, in case anyone wants a smoke lies quiet on the table. Each from a different company; fiery promotion riding on the spine of the dead. He reaches in, empties the bowl onto the ground, cardboard swathes like paint strokes on the ground, like red paint strokes on the rim of the bathtub. Matches clutter (roaches under the fridge) and he pounces on them. 16 packets lie down. Seven sleeves from a place called Churchill Adventure Supply (for the somnambulistic insomniacs). They are matte black and stand away from the others, chess kings against pawns. He takes three. They will become his favorite. The rest are shuffled under the table. Grit clusters and flocks to their side. Promotion falls flat to the dust like a hand on the rim of a bathtub.

Fire and Expectations
The boy was frail, and his hair hung long about his ears, he is compared to a stick-and-bone horse, skin like wax paper over meat. It was often said so. One boy in particular said so more than others. “Stick-and-bone horse boy, why are you so skinny? Have you been ta’en from the fallen twigs of yonder trees, you confuse me! What must you do in spare time? Starve? Ha!”
“I do not! If you truly wish to know, I have built a collection of matches. And what of you? Do you, dear glutton, eat!?” Stick-and-bone horse boy would say.
“Matches! Ha! Of course you do, match-stick boy! And what are twigs and matches for? Fire! You have turned yourself to kindling. What a hobby!”
“I do not understand why you speak so? What is wrong with matches?” Stick-and-bone horse boy emptied his pockets to the dust, dozens of sleeves of promotional matches clattered like cars to be crushed. “They bring me happiness and warmth. I have many, see?”
“Quite useless. What will you do? Light a small fire? Dial up some Chinese food? Toss fire to the walls of your house? Ha! Useless I say.” With that, the large boy trundled off, and stick-and-bone horse boy was left to gather matches in the dust.

Matches and matches and matches (subjects below the balcony)
The boy spent much of his time among the dust of the attic instead of the bullies of the street. Tucked among pyramids and make-believe armies of match-sticks and their sleeves, he marched upon match-box walls and curtains. The dukes of these legions were decaying, crystalizing lizards and spiders and shrews that he had propped with pins and matchsticks and a hot-glue gun. Each had their own banner and often quibbled among themselves, but each was loyal to the emperor, the boy’s prize, his wonder, a bright-yellow finch whose eyes had long since crumbled like muffins into the dust. As feathers had fallen from his greying wings, the boy had replaced them with matches and a beautiful periwinkle box corner had succeeded the beak. He was held tight by strings and tied onto the matchstick throne so he would never fall from power. Barron Guppy had once tried to usurp the king but the others had flocked to Finch’s aid and they had burned the turncoat on a pyre of matchsticks that sparked into the attic sky like stars. The sloped walls had stretched around him that night and he knew he must be in the center of it all. The boy and his matches danced through the ceiling.

Bonfire of the Monarchs and falling stars burning up heaven
Fires blazed peacefully for quite some time while black-ash residue of Barron Guppy still chalked the boards. But fire cannot stay docile for long and soon rose a new rebellion. Duke Lizard had, in his old age, lusted for power before he passed and had led his army on the good king (whose coat was near entirely matches now) and cut through the infantry of Lord Spider (Lord Shrew had become much too dilapidated to lead and his army quibbled among themselves). The great King Finch was taken that night and the lizard sat upon the throne. The traitor began preparations for the bird’s execution and the next day soldiers built the pyre. And as the boy sicked his flames, orange blossoms rushed up the birds tail and cocooned the old king in tangerine glow. Quickly, his wings began to flare and flash and the body rushed into eager flame and spat matches at every traitor and loyal match and the boy too; the boy screeched as the king’s foot, aflame, fell burning onto the boy’s arm and gripped (from melting hot glue or rage beyond death he was not sure). Flashing lights in the attic seemed no longer like shooting stars but wailing meteors. Phosphorus pranced and flared in the darkness as the light spread from soldier to soldier and fort to fort; the fire saddled itself to the floors of the attic in small clusters. Stick-and-bone horse boy tore at the king’s foot and stamped and demanded that the fire stop and it did; burnt husks fell flat to the ground like a hand on the rim of a bathtub. They left him with the shattered remains of a kingdom by the stars.

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