An Insult

I use an external CPU for a paper weight.

I remember it quite clearly, it was in Year 8 or 9 (Well, maybe not so clearly) and we were all in the canteen at one of the tables, no one as far as I remember was sitting down. We all stood around, preparing to move at any moment, merely letting our bags rest on the table to relieve our backs.
Scott had obtained a copy of the latest Artemis Fowl book, it may have been his Birthday come to think of it. I did not know of the existence of a new Artemis Fowl book and expressed my interest.
In the same way that memories are made memorable by strong emotions, they can also become corrupt and vague.
At my expression of interest, or shortly after, Scott remarked “You don’t seem like the sort of person who reads a lot of books” or “You don’t come across as reading a lot of books” or something to that effect. I wish I could recall the exact wording.
I was so incredulously offended by this statement that I broke down into hysterical, disbelieving laughter. I kept repeating myself as I didn’t know how to respond or how to put into words that which I wanted to say. I said things like “What? You’ve hurt me Scott” and “That is the most offensive thing I’ve ever been told” all while wearing a mad grin, a crazy expression and losing my breath to laughter.
Scott wore that innocent, confused, amused, slightly slack-jawed look which came to him so naturally in those days. Probably because he didn’t know how to react to my ignorance of how to respond.
He may have asked “Have you taken your pills today Herlihy?” or maybe someone else did, I vaguely remember Ranga coming and watching another hilarious show of Herlihy Hysterics, Ba doing his eyebrow equivalent of a joking facepalm, the bell going, everyone moving off, and me just standing there feeling as if I had suffered an acid trip.
I was so offended, no-one had hurt me that much for a long time, if ever. At the time I was incredulous that such a thing could be said to me, as I look back I am incredulous that I responded to such an insult in the way that I did.
Perhaps it was because I was struck more by disbelief than rage. Even then I had a well developed sense of absurdity, and was quite immune to personal insults.
The world is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel. Mum always said I have no heart, and I always hated and ignored her words. But looking back, I can heartily accept that she was right the whole time.

Alex Herlihy – 2010

The Ace of Hearts

I have before me a card. It is Jumbo sized Art. ace-of-heartsmassive
It has a story, this card. It is the Ace of Hearts.
I found it, or stole it, one black day
With the sky from the clouds raining grey.
“Missions” he called it, laughing with glee
and flickering eyes that betrayed his honesty.
I had naught to juggle, and nothing to squeeze
but then someone out there warmed to my pleas;
Two jumbo sized packs, one of red, one of blue.
I silently start shuffling, and watch as I do.
He bounces up and down all around the room,
Cramped as it is, there’s not the slightest boom
The cards I am shuffling are now being sorted.
The blue pack is missing the cards most important.
This fiend before me protects his best
Breaking the rules? nothing to contest
The four aces he keeps close to his heart,
But I know where they are, at least in part.
I look up from my royal flush,
My poker face doesn’t betray as much
and see this monster calling for help
But with a mad grin, not a loud yelp.
“Missions” he calls it, laughing viciously
The angel in the room jumps up immediately.
Well there you go, that seals my fate
Again into darkness to head a clean plate
I stand up and prepare to brave the rain
and I laugh at the other’s looks of pain.
As the cards go smack down upon the table,
The demon rushes out the door with my angel
I’m ready to run, pursue, protect and die
But something has stopped me, caught my eye
His four aces are there and so heavily exposed
lust for an angel; As a hole in defence, it shows.
There is only one card that I care to take
One of four aspects that I intend to break
The club is his skills, his practice and trade
The genius to which that combines is his Spade
The diamond is his luck and face but in part,
it is his amazing ability to abuse the heart.
I grabbed the card, the organ throbbing in fright
I Stuffed it in my pocket and clenched it tight.
Run out the door into the rain,
past the overflowing storm drain.
The water coming down as a wall
I run and slip and avoid a fall
There’s always the light of the angel before
Beautiful hair showing me through the downpour
All the while I clenched the card, I never let go
Despite it’s burning black blood ruining the show
But I got through to the end of the night
When I got home I knew I had won the fight
The demon failed again, as the angel survived
His heart is disfigured and no longer alive
It’ll grow back, such an ungodly sight
To him the loss of a heart is slight.
But it will never be the same one, and that’s fine
Because this is no longer his heart, it’s mine.
This is a symbol for the angel; I have her not him
But I vow I will not abuse her under light dim.
I’ll not rip it in half, I’ll never set it on fire
But I’ll never ever use it like that horrible liar.
And now I sit here, with Heart’s Ace before me
The crease through the middle should tell you its’ story.

Alex Herlihy – 2010

Darkness

little-church-001[1].jpgThis is the shirt I wore that night.
It was exactly a year ago, in a park I had visited only once before, to which I pursued a redhead.
In my frenzy I lost myself in the darkness, and clung to the only island of light, trusting the Christians to lead me home safely.

(Ironic how by turning from the light and following another redhead, that Westleigh park was not so dark.)

This is the first time I’ve worn this shirt since that night.
Because once again, I’m running into the heart of darkness.
But this time I don’t aim to find a redhead.
This time I hope to lose a shadow… beneath pure black.

So into the heart of darkness again,
To search for a long lost friend.
Let light fall, on the shadows
of the shadow that should be mine.

Alex Herlihy – 2009

Spiral

thumb[1].pngWhenever he draws that spiral, everyone’s eyes glaze over; It’s obviously just another diversion. But there are three people in the room who notice that swirl, and four who understand it; The Riddler, the Politician, the Redhead and the Poet.

If the other eyes are glazing, then the enlightened four’s eye is the fire.
Like a fingerprint, this flame is unique for each of them.
The Riddler reflects knowledge, and reveals a candle.
It burns within wisdom, not without time.
The Politician captures ambitious modesty,
And sends a smile of realisation over his shoulder.
The Redhead blinks osmosis, green fire, blue smoke, red sky.
Both sub specie aeternitatis and ignorance lie in that eye.
But the Poet can’t know the fire in his eyes;
Mirrors and windows are someone else’s reflection.

He can only believe it is there,
and try to guess at its true nature.
People say he knows everything.
Yet they are foolish for thinking he knows anything.
The people who make such wild claims about “He”,
Should realise what a God that makes “Me”,
And retract the claim if they believe and fear Hell.
If they don’t? Their hypocrisy would have God as a mere poet regardless.

Of eternity, reality, infinity, God. The poet is not.
They are all reflections of a single eye’s idea.
Not his eye.
He can see another’s reflection, but never notice his own eye.

All four understand that spiral,
But only the Riddler, Politician, and Redhead notice it.
The Poet does not notice it. Why?
Because he can see it…

Alex Herlihy – 2009

Formal

Normanhurst-Boys-High-School[1].jpgWe were Sitting down at lunch one day,
Me and Ba, and Scott and Ray,
Being Happy and merry (But never gay)
Until Shank decided to come our way.

The conversation quickly turns,
To that which makes the stomach churn;
Hot chicks, porno, renticle tape
To make shank stop it, we give him a shake.

“Profanities Shank” loudly proclaims Ba,
“Give it a rest” I say, “You’ve gone too far”
“bIsAmused equals false” guffaws semlar,
And Ray just pretends to play a guitar.

Ba scratches his head and thinks of a topic,
one that is safe and will make shank stop it.
Up until then, everything was normal…
“So who are you guys taking to the formal?”

This quickly got everyone’s attention,
I stayed quiet, as if on detention.
I was interested but it did not show,
Everyone became edgy, ready to blow.

Semlar coughed “Sarah”, we whacked him hard,
“She’s in France, are you a retard?”
Ba says that he wants to ask Alanna
This gets met with “Ba’s gonna be a father!”

Ba hides his face and talks to shank
What did they say? I drew a blank.
I became apprehensive as of then
“Who did you say you are asking again?”

His one word answer, as it sunk into my mind
Sent my heart crazy and put shivers down my spine
The one name that I did not want to hear
“Nicole” said shank, confirming my worst fear.

She was the only girl that I wanted to take
And now she’s about to be stolen by Shank.
The gears in my head started to revolve
A plan was formed and I was resolved.

Shank will NOT be stealing my redhead;
He will be taking someone else instead.
This occupied me for the rest of the day
Shank had become my enemy in a way.

As I looked at my options I exclaimed “damn”
I didn’t know whether it would go to plan
But I was possesed and my fingers would shake
In such a frenzy I made a fatal mistake

One email that I don’t want to recall
I was putting too much faith in it all.
With butterflies in stomach, excitement, nervous,
I pushed “send” and the words did their service

I had no idea that I was already dead,
So I felt better then ever as I climbed into bed.
I had to make certain that shank didn’t ask,
His real words are superior to an email from my arse.

The next day was friday, both a blessing and a curse.
After school was youth group at Ba’s Christian church.
This meant I could ask her for real
Shank could too; so it was not ideal

I had a sense of “Carpe Diem”, Sieze the day!
On top of the world? I was feeling this way.
But behind it all there was a sense of betrayal:
No matter what, one of us is going to fail.

For the first time I could see what paths lay before me
Extreme jealousy or sweet victory, which was it to be?
I was determined to see this through
“Damn you Shank, this is all because of you!”

And so there we we’re on friday night
Soccer in the park; it was a vicious fight.
Does shank suspect why I am here?
If he does then I must fear:

If Shank Knows my thoughts then he’ll be using all speed
He will pounce on Nicole like one full of greed.
But if he doesn’t know my plan he will take his time,
Wondering how to word himself, while I make a beeline.

Either way the race is on, for I will not be waiting long.
Besides I’m wearing sneakers, I can’t lose to his thongs.
For Nicole I begin to search around,
I covered quite a lot of ground.

But what is this? I can not find,
the thing that has plagued my mind.
Where on earth could Nicole be?
Surely she can’t be hiding from me.

The night dragged on and it became clear:
Nicole was not going to be coming here.
I was disappointed until I saw the truth
More time to practice not sounding like a goof.

I withdrew from my thoughts and looked around
There was Ba and at Shank he frowned.
Shank had no idea that he was spoiling Ba’s chance
For Ba to man up and ask Alanna to this dance.

I laughed and let the night take me away
The stress was gone until another day.
And so I had a lot of fun
Before I knew it, the night was done.

I woke up and it was saturday
I felt good but the sky was grey
This was a bad omen that I ignored
I had slept so well! I never even yawned

I turn on the computer, I let it load
I waited and waited until the windows logo showed.
I decided to check email but I had totally forgot,
That email of doom that I should have let rot.

I had new messages but none from Nicole
But I didn’t worry. Today won’t be droll.
So I let the morning go flying away,
Before I knew it, it was the end of the day.

Once again I returned to my email
To find a reply from a certain female.
And there it was waiting for me;
The reply of success, surely.

My heart was beating, I didn’t dare
To read that which was written there.
My hand hesitated for I could not bare,
A reply that causes me to tear out my hair.

But then I decide to take the plunge
This sweat making me as wet as a sponge.
I opened the email that decided fate
No more delay. I could not wait.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t go”
This can not be! No no NO!
“I’m sorry, but I can’t go…with you”
No…After what I’ve been through…

The world had ended, Shank had won
I had failed, the game was done.
Silent tears flowed as I retreated to bed
Sadness was swept up into dreams instead

I woke up feeling depressed the next day
I couldn’t believe that it had happened this way.
But I would not go down like this,
I must stop Shank, make him miss.

I come to school, Shank says “Wassup!”
“What a bummer that she didn’t turn up!”
At recess I find Ba talking to Shank
The subject, “Revenge” and some stuff about tanks.

Ba says that the Bible condones vengence
“How ironic, that means I won’t pay repentance”
“Only if the punishment fits the crime”
“Perfect. You know, that sounds just fine”

So I vowed to stay close to Shank, never give him a chance
To ask Nicole to the formal, they would never dance.
To me it seemed an eye for an eye
I couldn’t forsee how this plan died

And so it was Friday night once more.
We were in a church with leaky walls.
This time Nicole did indeed show
What Shank was thinking we could only know.

An awkward triangle we three made
In a river of emotion I did wade
While Shank stood silent trying to think
And eventually, Nicole ran off to get a drink.

Shank stayed away from her for most of the night
I relaxed and watched some bogans fight.
The next thing I know Shank has disappeared
But before I could swear I saw what I feared.

Shank had a look of confidence on his face
As he turned round the corner I was frozen in place
But what came next was not expected
Shank looked strangely affected

He rounded the corner looking resolved
but as he came back the look had dissolved
From within came an exclamation of glee:
“She didn’t pick him and she didn’t pick me!”

To me it came as a great victory
Shank tried to take it happily
His poker face hid what emotion he felt
He eyed me off till my face almost melt.

He was thinking the same as me
“My ranga was stolen by Herlihy”
I laughed and told him of my fail
He seemed to be turning pale.

My thoughts turned inward, as they do
And I got thinking about things undue
This was not a victory at all,
Oh boy did I just drop the ball

Revenge is a dish best served cold.
That’s what I have always been told.
So of course it came as no suprise
When all of a sudden, I realised:

Nicole would not be at our formal
With me or Shank or someone normal.
I couldn’t help feeling that it was all my fault
I should have locked my hard feelings in a vault

I was blind. Look what I’ve done.
Oh sad consequences of my fun.
As I dealt with reality
It finally sunk into me

This formal is more trouble then it’s worth
Time to get more down to earth.
And so I chose to forget these incidents
I did not want to remember, the memory was rinsed

And so I forgot, I could not recall
Until another email brought me back to it all.
Ba gives the facts as blunt as a plank
“Nicole wanted to say yes to Shank.”

Ba haven’t you heard that ignorance is bliss?
Why oh why did you have to tell me this?
I demand that you now let me know
From where this information flows

But Ba is silent, he does not say
Why these tidings came my way
So I leave the mystery unsolved
And once again the memories dissolved

The formal it did come and go
And I did not toss to and fro
I just came and had some fun
Before I knew it, the night was done.

On the bus I sat with Shank
We talked of all things rank
Hot chicks, porno, renticle tape
But I didn’t stop it, It was too late.

Shank was not an enemy then
“I still wish you asked Nicole again,
Even though we had such fun,
I still wish that she had come”

I hear a sigh, he gathers breath
I’m so tired I feel like death
“We’re still learners” is the last thing he said
But I still wish that I had my redhead.

I haven’t seen Shank since then,
And I have taken to the pen
“We’re still learners” lingers in sight
With that in mind I kiss the Formal good night

I finally can let it go
No more of this horrible show
Months have passed since I last cried.
To the formal, a big “Good bye!”

But no, I had a dream last night
You see, it gave me quite a fright
Not because it was a nightmare
But for what was contained in there:

The formal again, I’m back on the boat
With Ba, Alanna and a red goat.
But there is one I was not expecting to see
Nicole! And she is coming towards me.

But before I can say “This must be a dream”
There appears Shank, his smile like a beam.
Hands clasped firmly with Nicoles, I was enraged at the sight
Such a fury that I woke myself up in the middle of the night.

I do not know what this dream meant
But one thing I know as hard as cement:
This formal will not close it’s door
It will plague my mind forever more.

Alex Herlihy – 2008

Rangas and Redheads

ap,550x550,16x12,1,transparent,t.u3[1].png

Some people think that it’s bad to be a ranga,
I say such people should be hit with a hammer.

Where would we be if there were no redheads around?
Well for one Ironman would lie dead on the ground;

For who had the power to steal this hero’s heart?
A ranga of course, and she was skilled in her art.

She was Beautiful,

but Iron’s not the only one with a good taste in heads;
Just look at the girl Spiderman keeps among his friends.

Now put these love interests of superheroes to the side,
Rangas can easily hold their own against a villains pride.

Redheads are made of special stuff that no-one understands,
Scientists are confounded by the power a ranga commands.

With mind control and telepathy, they can easily bend a spoon.
Never argue with a mad ranga; It will surely spell your doom.

Oh those Deadly,

lovely, redheads…They must have evolved from an angel,
Hell they even have their own element on the periodic table!

Remember the Fifth element? The one? The divine light?
When asked to describe her, “perfect” seems quite right.

She was a well-read-red-head, of the highest degree,
Not to forget that she knew another language or three.

She was beyond awesome, she could light up a room.
Cutting through shadows with hair as bright as the moon.

For a Bright,

blinding light shines from a readhead’s skull. It stops fears,
defeats darkness and reduces the strongest of evils to tears.

Everyone knows redheads are the definition of “hot”.
One look at a ranga and you’re drooling on the spot.

So do you believe that it’s bad to be a ranga?
If you answered “yes” then you’ll be smacked with a spanner.
For you would never understand this questions correct answer.

And what is the answer?

Redheads;

Bright,

Beautiful,

Deadly.

Alex Herlihy – 2008

Bright, Beautiful, Deadly

Sunrise

SCIENCE-Meteors-070198zz66[1]Every morning is the same; wake up before the sun, skip breakfast, race the rays of sunlight down from the highest point in Sydney to the lowest lane for the bus stop. Board the bus, watch the people, watch the window, see past the glass to the wonderful world. Repress the thought that there’s yet another English assessment task that is worth no marks begging to be done. One hour later arrive at the train station. Hop on a train, take another hour, and arrive at school. Rinse and repeat!

Today was different. There were no new faces on the bus, the sky was grey but without any rain to keep things interesting, and there was a thick fog obfuscating what would have been a glorious view outside. I found myself longing for a new face to pick to pieces, but not just any face; I had a very particular sort of person in mind. Someone who radiates magic; a person who overwhelms both man and woman with infinite beauty; the one who can redefine osmosis with a meaning that is more fitting of a word that sounds so good.

This train of thought was interrupted by a loud expletive from the driver as the bus suddenly came screeching to a halt. It was as if someone had hailed the bus right as it would run them over in order to save their own life. The doors opened, and I could see nothing through the fog seeping into the bus between the cold metal doors. Excitement filled my mind as I wondered who it could be. As the silhouette of this newcomer drew closer towards my seat, my electrified anticipation flew higher than I thought possible in this temperature. Out of the fog, appeared none other than that amazing person that had occupied my minds eye ten seconds before; the most beautiful, the most wonderful, the most graceful, glorious and gentle person on this planet; The absolute zenith of humanity; An angel trapped in mortal clothing; The light that can start and end all wars; The greatest of gods people; a sublimated form of god himself! The very reason life exists at all; the meaning of life!

Out of the fog stepped none other than a Redhead.

The doors closed and the bus lurched as it prepared to attack the steep hill with its’ wheels once again. The sudden jerk caused the beautiful angel before me to stumble slightly, and yet even in this imperfection was there embodied a sort of cosmic correctness that brushed aside any thought of corruption. Her beautiful eyes swept the seats, searching for a place to sit herself. There were hundreds, thousands of seats she could have picked, and yet by some strange stroke of fate she chose the seat, opposite and facing, me. Blood rushed through my whole body as I blushed a blush that could not be blushed for anyone else; a blush that set my whole face red, extended itself to my neck, and didn’t stop there. Soon my arms and fingertips had turned a bright bright red and begun to melt the ice which was coating the window on which they lay. My toes began to burn and steam quite visibly began to rise from my feet. The blush continued consuming my body, and finding that it could do no more there, begun to seep out onto the floor of the bus; creeping up to the other passengers and setting them in a hot flush as well. Suddenly my whole body burst into flames, the bus flew off the edge of a cliff, the other passengers on the bus melted into a void, and right as a mushroom cloud was beginning to appear on the hyperbolic horizon; the redheaded Goddess sat down.
The other passengers were still sleeping, despite the bus blowing its’ horn at some slow cyclists who were getting in the way more than the fog, and despite the presence in the bus of the very reason they walk in this world. I frowned at them all; stereotyping themselves and the whole world with no shame. It is a sad thing indeed when the entrance of a redhead is not met with immediate awe, respect and praise. But unfortunately, this is how the world stands. The world rejects their true kings and queens, labelling them gingers. Outcasts. Outsiders… How horrible, that the most godlike, angelic figures in all time and space must meet with such mad manners. Even now; in shops all around the globe, Dominant pants are being chosen over red denim, those most recessive of jeans. The red gene is reason for respect not racism! But no, society would call it a curse to be blessed with such beauty. They give the gift many names; Gingeritis; “You Fucking Ranga”; The curse of the outsider. How could this picture of pure beauty before me be treated so? What could this visual elegy of elegance have done wrong to deserve it? How could she do wrong at all! What a piece of work is a Redhead; how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty; in form and moving, how express and admirable; in action how like an angel; in apprehension… How like a God!

istockphoto-642266374-612x612[1].jpgThe only thing “Outsider” about the praeclarus girl facing me was that she had been outside too long, in the cold cold icy cold air, and was shivering. Shivering and shaking. Shaking her hair; Her long, silky smooth, burning hair running down past her neck and wrapping her body in a waterfall of warmth, casting off the shivering shell and kicking it to the side so that she could sit still, safe, and content; wrapped in the warmth of her own magic. I could not draw my eyes away from her, no, and neither could I restrain my ears! She sighed a sigh that sent shivers down my spine with such intensity that I could hear it cracking under the stress, the sound almost interrupting this ethereal music washing over my senses. It was as if she could simply pluck music out of the air without aid of pipe or wind, and with a mere breath set the elements to movements of chromatic harmony. Oh her breathing! The perfect, regular, waves of warmth carried with them a tale of a body that knows no sickness and is immune to all injury. So overwhelmingly powerful was her influence on my sense of sound that even my nose and tongue could detect her perfection in the air. My olfactory system exploded with sensation; she was the thirteenth essence! You would have to distil all the roses in the world to even come close to imitating how wonderfully this was received in my nose. Her scent was more precious than the most expensive perfume; with it came memories of all the most wonderful, happy, exciting, sad, victorious and unfortunate events in my life. All these moments came back to me and played out again, as if I were looking into the past, looking into the very crux of my identity, peering through a window to my immortal soul. I was reminded of what it meant to be human. The images dissolved into fireworks and stars, and glittering, shimmering, glowing red hair as my eyes opened and returned to the present. Reflected in her eyes was absolute infinity, those beautiful blue orbs; the two blue planets beneath the red curtain that align on the truth – but I could have sworn they were green not two seconds ago, and now they are a grand Hazel! Magical eyes of innocence, infinity, intelligence… and ignorance; From the eyes of everything, I wanted nothing. I only needed a single image, and it was sitting before me already.

Her long, slender legs were unbruised and smooth; showing no sign of being spoilt by worldly action. Her arms glowing with the power held within, her lips wearing a smile that could melt the hearts of a whole nation. Her perfectly rounded thighs put to shame the most well-crafted sculpture; an artist could spend his whole life trying to emulate those thighs and never come close. Her breasts needed no support, they were as light as air, unfreckled, smooth, bright, beautiful! Oh, what would I give to run a finger across those sacred domes, down to her luscious legs, up to stroke her gentle face, and then to engulf my hand, my arm, my whole body in that hair! Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful! Bright. Beautiful. Deadly. Bright, Beautiful, Deadly. Bright Beautiful Deadly. BrightBeautifulDeadly. BrightBeautifulDeadlyBrightBeautifulDeadlyBrightBeautifulDeadly…..

I sat there, under the full effect of this redheads magic; this angels enchantment; this outsiders curse. My freedom lost to beauty. Fair tresses man’s imperial race ensnare, and beauty draws us with a single red hair.

6383085293_49e1ea99f9_b[1].jpgThe bus stopped again. My redhead rose, and with hair shining brighter than a thousand stars, did exit and return to the outside world, the fog parting before her and joining behind her with every step. The three word poem “Bright. Beautiful. Deadly.” repeated over and over in my head. As she moved further away the spell she had cast over me grew weaker and weaker until finally… I woke up. Suddenly I felt cold again. The bus was still covered in frost, the passengers were still sleeping, there was still no light. I yawned and peered outside the window, my eyes winking away tiredness. I searched for the redhead, hoping that I could fill myself with warmth for a second longer. I searched and searched; stretching my sight to the heavens, but I couldn’t find her. Over the water I could see the sun rising, a semicircle of orange beauty. Bright, Beautiful, Deadly indeed. Some of the other passengers opened half an eyelid and briefly joined me in lending their gaze to the horizon. The soul of our solar system sparkled bright, but not so bright that it would force a wince of pain and my turning away; Dawn is the hour to appreciate our majestic sun. I heard a snore behind me and turned around. Everyone had returned to sleep but me. I sighed and for the final time glanced out the window at nature’s light show, smiling as I noticed a familiar face on the horizon.

Alex Herlihy – 2010