patch the hull and sail on

I wandered through a museum where things made of flesh rotated and evolved on their plinths, and instead of watching and learning I kept asking stupid questions til the room darkened with the collective annoyance of the exhibits and I was shown an increasingly nightmarish procession of horrors, one after the other, so fast that I couldn’t even describe them to myself before they were snatched away and something worse was dumped before me. “Why did you come here/” I was asked, “What did you think you’d find? What did you think you wanted to know?” And I stood there ashamed, with all my tragic cliches and artless questions in my hands.

“You are the joker here,” they told me, and showed me a world of endless darkness, where pallid jackals crept behind the  pattering curtains of torn flesh, where things born dead writhed and gave forth maggots in the flickering neon light while colossal serpents reared above me and a bespoke Christ came into my world to offer cheap and empty reassurances which neither of us believed. I couldn’t clear my head, and there was nowhere to go to get away. My failures were laid before me, every way in which I’d denied whatever promise I might have had held up for my examination, every way in which I’d failed everyone, every trap I’d fashioned for myself as a way of avoiding the challenge of escape.

I rolled a cigarette with hands made of gnarled meat and smoked it in a grey world of seething fractals and coiling wolf’s heads. I wasn’t afraid. because I knew this hell was all mine, and I knew that it would pass – but I had no memory of ‘normal’ to cling to and no thoughts that would enable me to create a better future to hope of, so all I could do was wait in the endless present, humbled and pathetic, knowing that when this storm had passed I would find myself becalmed in the same sad waters as before, having learned nothing, having not asked the right questions, with nothing left  to do but to patch the hull and sail on.

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