This Nightmare of Skin


There is no escape from this skin, she said;
No slightest moment to forget about the shape of things.
This blasphemy is wrought from on high,
To mock the sensitive mind even in his sleep.
A dream of flesh is an unbearable thing.
And a dream of unflesh?— well (she said)
Even that is predicated upon flesh; there is no escape
From this nightmare of skin. It hangs so heavy
On your bones, replenishing itself as if
We should be impressed; I am not amazed
By rotting meat, nor slit-cut carcasses, nor
The pulpy curves of these vile fibres.
The shape of things is anathema: and it cannot be forgotten,
For there it is at all times; sagging, wrinkled,
Awash with scars, spots, blemishes and unsightly hair;
No, there is no escape from this nightmare of skin.

I have proposed an alternative, she said:
A process of uncreation. Not death—for death is slave
To flesh: to think of death, all of that screaming, sliced tendons;
Guts on show and skull shattered, prolapsing veins;
The wretched shrieks and screams of one
Confronted by the inevitabile end of fleshy form;
And once dead, the spoiled muck of skin
Degrades further, yet another mockery
And yet another symbol of the absolute decay inherent in the shape of things;
And after death, our pitiful cadaver
Returns its lumpy mass to the endless cycle of shit-birth and shit-death,
Until entropy collides and bears us once again unasked
Into this nightmare of skin.

Nay, not death, then, but uncreation;
Because think of all of the sins of the existence of flesh:
The open sores, the bubbling pus and mucus, the translucent corpse of abortion
And miscarriage; not to mention semen and the like; vile, profane membrana!—
To return to and remain a pure lack of very atoms and atmosphere
Is the most rational solution.

Cursèd parents! she cried: what greater crime
Is there than putrid conception? Murder?—Nay.
The crime of parenthood is not to be forgiven.
To dream a babe into this everthrashing meld
Of bones and brains and fetid yellow sweat
Through the filth of procreation—all of that horrid grunting
And lurching movement, the heresy of sex,
Then the swollen burgeoning of womb and belly
As the miserable clump of living cells within bloats
Into a nefandous and inevitable potential for evermore suffering;
All gifted to us by a spiteful or moronic demiurge—
Not to mention the abomination of puberty,
In which our final vestiges of purity are swamped by acne,
Night-terrors, grotesquely angled limbs all stretching away;
No wonder folklore dreamt the werewolf—
It is simply the honest horror of existence,
Although fiction can never compare to the relentless onslaught
Of putrid, febrile reality.

We must stand against this living Hell, this infernal heritage
And absurd destiny (to die!) and discover the path to uncreation.
Where no more will our livers bulge and fail, our fragile hearts
Rupture, our limbs o’ertaken by arthritis and various breakages;
Where no more will our sickly lips spread lies and nonsense,
Nor our ears be subjected to the lies and nonsense of others;
Where the True Good resides, away from
The manipulating, creating Hand of God—
No eyes to see with, no hands to touch: this is the truest blessing!

For death cannot bring us there; death is only the final stage
Of the humiliation of life, she said, grinding her teeth,
One near shattering in her mouth. She spat out the fragments.
How do we take it back? How do we undo this nasty business?
This absurdity of scraping nails, gnashing, weeping,
This positively idiotic nightmare of skin—
How can we escape?
She sighed, and collapsed to the filth-ridden floor,
Which was covered in piss and shit. I knelt down to take
Her pale, diaphanous hand. She snapped it away and spat on my shoe.

There is no escape! No escape from this damned dream! she screamed,
Her throat ripping and choking with strained blood.
My wish is futile; each of us is trapped here until at last it comes:
Annihilation: the black beast; with demented claw and jagged fang
It will rip us to strands without a shred of fabled dignity.
Our piece in this ‘universe’ is a bulging polyp, a swollen tumour;
Nothing is impressive about this endless chaos of nastiness,
And nothing can set us free. To dream of uncreation is to torture oneself.
I look at my own form and weep. O, the pain! The pain!
The pain of flesh! The torment of the flayed soul,
Trapped within this stretched masque of absurd horror!
Each day passes in even more astoundingly monotonous catastrophe
As we wither away and develop yetmore ailments and curses;
There is no escaping the hellish contemplation of this noisome shape of things,
No escape, no escape from this eternal cycle of deranged pandaemonium,
No escape from the constant degradation and humiliation of flesh,
No escape from this odious, insidious, and unfair nightmare of skin!


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