Gypsy with Child

        Couldn't see the tattoos under my long sleeves. Nor could you clock the self-harm. The cuts from razor blades long since abandoned in Essex. Essexist. That's what people are. Even me - especially me. It's bad enough being a traveller. But a gypo from Southend, with a baby. No father. Never enough father to go round. Never enough fathering. Just sex. Essex sex. Not real sex. Not healthy, lustful, life-affirming lovemaking. But dark, fractured, cracked up fucking. Hurried. Extreme. Detached. Drunk. Drugged. Dull.
        Shallow breathing again. Sniff. Too clavicular, not abdominal enough. I need to relax. Self-care. Time spent on me. Not spent on the portraits. Rumination I can't do. But in here, too much time to observe, to notice, to dwell, to smell. Sniff. There is it again. Is that piss? Is it cheap perfume? It smells purple.
My child is a rag doll. Not like a rag doll. But an actual rag doll. Its head is made of sackcloth and Andean llama farmer hats. Its sexless body stuffed duffle bags. Its feet limp plastic from the bottom of family size Cola bottles.
        Sniff. That Korean guy with the noodle pot went too close to her again. And she knows. And she has always known, she tells me. "Take him to the lavvy and do him in" What the hell's that mean? Is that British? I figured she musta meant to hit him in the John. No way. Maybe? She could be right. The phoney ceiling, the air ducts, the vents. There's gotta be space for a body or two more up there. Who's gonna miss a dead Korean guy. Sniff. This is Washington not Seoul.
Travelling is in the blood, in the cards. It's been foreseen I'll leave the portrait gallery and actualize in a field just outside Braintree this time. Leeroy has done too much K. He can't remember much from his 20s. But he still has the royalities from Charly and Everybody In The Place left over, he says. I'll leech emotional support off of him and dump the baby. After all, a Special K casualty key-holing in the dark can do little harm to a rag doll. A social services ragger. It was when I left that dodgy Dodgem car driver in the lurch outside the church. United Reformed, Westcliffe-on-Sea. That's when they replaced my Byron.
        Laudenum? Salvia divinorum? Lavender! Kinda explains the falling asleep. Fourth time this week. On my last caution from my supervisor. Five is definitely fired and out the door. Maybe I should do it in the John. You'd like that Gyspy lady, wouldn'cha? Just you and me alone. In a field. Filled with lavender. Me: Lord Of Essex. You: Gypsy child running wild. Not static. Not stuck in rigid pose all day,smelling of noodle sauce and dead Korean. Shoot! What the hell? Sniff.
I'm sure Washington's National Gallery of Art has never stunk of salt & vinegar & scallops before or since. The smell worries that curator so much he fears he has synesthesia. He's just booked in to see a clinical psychologist. Today it's the faintest of lavender and ammonia mixes: horse trank and 90's acid house flashback. Next time out time I fancy old school. I'll take the shire pony and the cart down to Colchester and hang around the tea rooms. I pine for literary culture rather than rave. In Essex? Fuck. Perhaps I'll stay put and wait for that cookie curator to show up from psyche leave. After all, I owe him one.

Phil Doran
(Read a review of Doran's 'Spaghetti Fiction' here)