DEAD HEAD by Tom Bland


One photo immediately drew
attention from the plethora
of the forensic collection
on his bedroom wall collated like a collage
but too messy to be artistic in any academic sense.


I realised it was signed by Anton LaVey, who most scholars believed
lied about his SFPD forensic photography job.
Douglas still believed saying, “But look at the way LaVey frames the head highlighting
the essential element of the golf ball wedged into the forehead.”

He had purchased the photo
from the eBay seller,
Dragon Eyes Tooth Lore, which somehow made
me doubt it was a true LaVey original,

but I held my tongue, slightly
chewing on my teeth to stop any sound emerging.

Douglas seemed, in the words
of the man at the bus stop talking into his phone about the plumber
he recently hired to unblock the toilet of his otherwise pristine Italian
restaurant on Monmouth Street/of shit wrapped up in the Sunday
newspapers –

“a nice fella” –

who found the situation unusual enough to be
amusing, pulling out soaking/stained pictures/words/notations
of/on politicians and celebrities: he wasn’t a man of names,
he just plunged
the pipe free of obstruction.

I had to do it

(that quiet intense excitement
gripped my senses, without question, “don’t ask why!” -
I said
to my therapist - “nothing prepares you for these moments!”):

I drew with a felt-tip,
over the surface
where the golf ball
was jammed into his forehead,
making it into a third eye, the
look of horror on his face …

“Did you regress” …  “Did you accept sin” … “Consciousness
makes us too conscious” … “To be overwhelmed” … “Forget the name” … “What age
are you” … “In this moment” … “The name” … “The number” ...

He grabbed hold of my wrist throwing the felt-tip
across the bedroom, marking the other wall behind us with a wobbly line.

In a practical psychoanalytic workshop on the inner child,
one person left at lunch time, telling no one: I
wanted to know
what made her legs walk all by themselves, taking the rest of her to the tube.

“I was mostly silent as a kid,” I said as an opening which was also
a closing. “What can we say about silence?”
“I guess
there’s the feeling.” “Just one? Or multiple?”

I thought of my friend’s
text where he described “feeling empty with nothing,” as if nothing was its own
contradiction slapping you in the face, like the
old buffoon routine
practiced for years on Rue Vieille Du Temple in Paris
before civilisation crept in.

“You have defaced it!” he provoked
glaring at me as if the photograph was erupting as if

I had defaced the man, but in my brain, there was no such thing as a golf ball.


a Zen buddhist made his pupil transcribe the strangely
stale words, which Alan Watts quoted in one of his books entitled
like, The Insecurity of Wisdom, and years later,
the saying appeared on a mug photographed in the hand

of a cute 19 year old goth flashing

his prick,

which his ex
placed online
with the single word,


the image.

Photo by Karolina Urbaniak

Tom Bland is the author of The Death of a Clown published by Bad Betty Press.

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