Within James Knight’s cornucopia of texts, [Wonderland] road signs may come in handy—here we go:
- ⤵ This way ⤴ to have a look at Shakespeare’s anti-bibliography: beware, any contact between these titles and those from Shakespeare’s bibliography may lead to the release of tremendous amount of energy (and puns).
- ↙ This way ↗ to find out whether you really can count to 6.
- ↩ This way ↪ to remind you that your tongue is not just a language: it’s also this meaty flexible muscular organ in your mouth — so go ahead, read this piece aloud in one gulp, and be careful not to bite your tongue(s).
13 Plays that William Shakespeare Wanted to Write but Did Not Dare, Enacted by a Troupe of Haunted Mannequins Before the Bird King in a Series of Bad Dreams
- The Tragedy of Bottom; his Disgrace, Downfall and Dismemberment.
- All Are Fucked, a Comedy.
- The Fantastical History of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
- All Hallow’s Eve, a Picturesque Entertainment.
- The Bloody Knife, a Play to be Performed by Women.
- Nero’s Wet Dream, a Comedy.
- The Tragedy of Lady Macbeth.
- Death to King James, a Masque.
- The Tragedy of Romeo and Tybalt.
- The Butchery of the Groundlings, a Whimsical Entertainment.
- Malvolio’s Revenge, a Cross-Gartered Tragedy.
- The Lamentable Life and Pitiful Death of William Shakespeare.
- The Bird King’s Nightmare, a Masque to be Performed with Discordant Music in Complete Darkness.
One – 1 – I
Let us start at the beginning. Once upon a time. Once upon a crime. Once there was a crime for which humanity was made to pay the whole of humanity not just a part not just the guilty party or parties. Once there was a story and inside that story was a message and inside that message was a bloodshot eye and inside that bloodshot eye was a screaming child. Start at the beginning. The first step, scene one, the establishing shot, the first word or line, first breath as you were squeezed out of the womb. A first look. Singular, unique. Nothing much has happened except for the awful fact of your being the awful fact of your guilt. Scratch that. Sorry. I have said too much. Let’s begin again. Speak.
Two – 2 – II
Company, perhaps. A right pair. A ripe pair. Oo-er, missus! A pair: a couple, two. Opposite sides of the mirror, mutually entangled, gaze-strung. Staring at each other, at themselves. Two is really one, most of the time. When two is two, run. The other one, on the other side of the mirror, who does not look like you or does superficially but there’s no fooling you is probably the Devil Old Nick the Prince of Darkness Lucifer the Enemy Satan aiming his pitchfork at your heart kinky Cupid wants to skewer you roast you eat your flesh drink your soul. They streamed into the offices, two by two. It was pointless remonstrating with them. Maws yawned.
Three – 3 – III
The orator who successfully deploys a tricolon will have his audience eating out of the palm of God’s hand. Even children and animals know that three is the magic number. Two is not perfection: three is. Hitler tried to establish a Third Reich but it was just a ghost. Stop laughing. Apparently, you requested three wishes but were given three witches. LOL! My bad. Drop them off at the Returns Centre and we’ll compensate you for whatever physical, economic and emotional damage they may have inflicted on you. Three kisses on your cheek. The man on the train said GOD whenever anyone asked him a question but his dreams were haunted by muddled threesomes.
Four – 4 – IV
All of their songs were in four-four time, whatever that means. Their drummer shouted ONE TWO THREE FOUR to count them in to the first note, the first drumbeat. I wrote four quatrains in praise of crystal meth. Four sides: squares, rectangles; geometric prisons. Don’t be square: be there. All good clean fun, whatever that means. The room’s walls, floor and ceiling were so smooth as to be virtually frictionless. We tried rubbing up against them, but found no relief. It was too late anyway. The tiny machines were in us already, plucking our nerves like violin strings. My favourite string quartet is Fragmente – Stille, An Diotima by Luigi Nono, a piece made of scratches and silences. I took a friend to hear it and he got lost in the gaps between the notes. Never came back. Silly sod. Back to the room: they played Slipknot and Marilyn Manson very loudly at us, expecting us to break down, sob, confess, shit ourselves, bash our own brains out on the walls, whatever. We did our best not to disappoint. Roll up, roll up: it’s the Greatest Show on Earth!
Five – 5 – V
The Number of the Serpent. Your veins are coiled tight. Take a running jump into the grassy nowhere and see if you can spot a plant an animal one single living entity that you can name without relying on your dotty memory full of holes full of insertions made by other people just click there in the middle of the line the cursor will appear there a little god now tap the keys make words make the little god shit words as he jitters from left to right don’t forget to click save afterwards otherwise the machine won’t remember your work your words now its words now his he’s scratching his head trying to recall haha the fool haha the it’ll come back to it’ll probably come look away think about something else
__________________________________________________five fives are twenty-five
__________________________________________________six fives are thirty
Five is the number of memory and chanting.
Six – 6 – VI
Patient embryo in the upside-down, awaiting Spring season on Netflix, feeding silently feeding in the coiled spaces of your brain grey labyrinth – ghost home – monster spawner
Three in a row spells disaster as they were walking home they became aware of a sixth person in their midst who was it hood up difficult to tell bringing to mind that line in The Waste Land who is that on the other side of you though that referred I think to a third person not a sixth the third person often interpreted as Christ but shit-your-pants scary if you think about it anyway this was a sixth person a sixth hooded person not a third they became aware of
__________________________________________________it coils in the soil
__________________________________________________breathing with the pulse of seasons
bite / tongue
a good bit curled lip out-thrust left hip not right never right too right-on out-thrust left giving lip left hip the left is always hip a good bit here goes rejecting the outmoded conventions rejecting the conventions rejecting conventions sounds hip sounds slick sounds like a hand on the hip and a curled lip letting rip letting the odd expletive slip fucking patriarchal narratives fucking patriarchal norms out-worn outmoded not hip dubious norms dubious normativity devious Norman Normal the most boring regressive aggressive repressive patriarchal prick his face is everywhere a mask behind which 99% of the male population of Great Britain cowers or suffocates or dances for joy letting him speak for them letting Norman Normal speak for them glad he’s speaking for them when the alternative would be to think for themselves speak for themselves the useless pricks the cowards the Norman invasion began long before 1066 it was rife from the start it was a rifle to the heart it stifled dissent other voices other ways of seeing other ways of being about time we sent Norman Normal away sent him packing stopped him sacking the Troy of our minds we are all Helen and Norman can go back to Norman’s land no-man’s land another good bit here listen to this here goes smash the patriarchy smash it smash it you hear that smash the patriarchy bash it and slash it and smash it it’s hard and inflexible it will smash it will shatter we will batter it we will beat it we will eat and excrete it delete it sounds so easy easy-peasy easy as pie a piece of piss a piece of cake words make it easy just say the words a chant a spell a prayer to no-one but ourselves no higher power than ourselves no God now no more gods now no patriarchal narratives no fucking patriarchal narratives no more story-time with Daddy because Daddy Daddy you bastard we’re through Daddy Daddy you bastard screw you Daddy you’re deaf as a post you’re dead as a dodo we will put you in the ground with your frowns and your hounds you clown you crowned clown we’ll put you under a mound of ground in under down and out with a triumphant shout our words in your deaf ears the worms in your dead ears forever our words will win we will pile them up we will build walls with them we will build monuments to ourselves with them we will build monuments to others with them we will build monuments to otherness with them we will keep the enemy out we will keep your friends out we will keep everything out that isn’t in we will admit only those who belong we will demand passports passwords the right words our words our tongue our tongues moving freely in our mouths not yours not your tongue moving freely in us through us unsaying us squaring us spearing us skewering us botching us bollocking us when we get it wrong there will be no wrong when you are gone there will be only right our right our rights in the great chattering light we won’t bite our tongues we’ll bite yours we’ll bite your tongue we’ll tear up your tongue slash and slit your leathery language slice and dice your old cold words your old cold world let me find another good bit wait there is another good bit wait here it is wait
James Knight is an experimental writer and digital artist, whose work is preoccupied with dreams, mirrors, fire and mannequins. As @badbadpoet, he explores the creative possibilities of Twitter, and has embarked on numerous collaborations with other writers and artists, for example through such collective Twitter entities as @chimeragroup0 and @echovirus12.