No Cure for Shell Shock – Free eBook

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To start with the good bit – my collection of poetry and prose, No Cure for Shell Shock, is available as a free download if you just click below.

No Cure for Shell Shock (PDF)

No Cure for Shell Shock is intended as the antithesis to the war story. Each part of this collection of poetry and short pieces was designed to search for those lost, silent moments which shape the human experience of conflict but which are left unmarked and uncommented on in the aftermath.

Anti-war by intent the focus throughout is on the human, attempting to find the self that endures beyond comprehension and judgement.

I’ve decided to make it free, for now, because I honestly just wanted to give something away. It’s easy to get lost in the grind of writing when it’s so often overshadowed by the hyper-mercenary ‘creative industry’. You start to myopically focus all your attentions on becoming part of it, or generating enough cash to validate your work. Truth is though writing is writing, it might be tossed about and effected by the society it takes place in, but the joy of it is in the work itself, not in how it’s framed. Being able to just share something, share a set of thoughts and ideas I felt were important as I wrote them, is a nice break from that mentality and a minor rebellion against it. Plus you get a free book, so it’s nice all round.

To contradict that spirit a bit though – I’m not averse to money and I’m sure as hell not rich. So if you fancy chipping in to support my meagre lifestyle then you can also buy NCfSS as a paperback here. Or you can grab any of my other work of course. Plus you can donate with the button below, if you’re feeling overly rich and generous.

Dylan's Donate Button

You can also support me without spending a penny by recommending or reviewing my work on your platform of choice, it’s always appreciated.

For now though- enjoy.

– Dylan

Side note: I’ve made it available as a .pdf to start with as most devices can read them without problems. Plus, given that it’s a mix of poetry and prose, it’s hard to convert it into an epub (or similar) format without messing with the structure. If you don’t care about that and just want the words then I recommend Calibre for all your file conversion needs. Also, if you’re reading it on a phone or mobile device, Aldiko is a good ereader app – like Calibre it’s free.

The Digger

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They can bury me, beneath ten, a hundred, a thousand corpses. I won’t care. Suffocate me with the dead, fix me in place with carrion for a casket. It means nothing. When morning comes, and it will, I’ll rise again. Same as I always have.

I see them. I see them staring down at me from their gallows of flesh. The ones who see their death and the ones who don’t… they hate me. As they walk to their own slaughter or slide the knife home. They hate me and they judge me and pile more death upon me. I’m their dump, their rubbish pile. They hurl their guilt and fear and hate at me, but I don’t care. This is nothing new and when the morning comes I’ll rise again.

More bodies to bear. Is that what irony is meant to be? Perhaps. I, the one who digs and hauls and heaps dirt on their shame, buried by the lot of them. No matter. Let it cover me, I can bear the weight, they’ve shown me that.

She’s watching me, one of the ones who sees her death but rages against it. Your fear, woman, not mine. More piles on. Your hate, not mine. But why not? Hurl it at me, cover all of me. You’ll be dead soon, I’ll not deny you this. When morning comes I will rise again.

No Cure for Shell Shock, the collection this is from, is available free on Kindle until the 14th of January. You don’t need a Kindle reader to download it, the app can be installed on any phone or tablet. You can download the book here.

The Accursed Blessed

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‘You are blessed. You are blessed. You are blessed. You are blessed. They’ve given you love, all the love you’ll ever need. You are blessed.’

The woman had been crying and repeating herself for hours now. No one was staring at her any more, though a few dull eyes still fell in her direction. There was nothing there though, just eyes hanging in sallow faces. They’d had their vision drained on the journey they had taken and been blinded by their arrival.

“… they’ve given you love, all the love you’ll ever need. You are blessed.’

I hug my baby closer and try to filter out the unceasing chant. Perhaps I am. I’m the only one left living here. The rest have stepped over already but I have something to fix me in place, love, all the love I’ll ever need. Her words are meaningless, a desperate lie but my eyes aren’t lost yet. I still see. I see enough to know that they took him and he won’t be back, enough to have watched that old love cut apart and buried. I saw them slice at him, through cracks in flimsy wood. He was made nothing, another object to be dragged away, no longer lover, father or man. And I was given a replacement, all the love you’ll ever need wrapped in rags torn from the blind who bore broken witness to the birth.

I feel no blessing though, no love, no nothing. I am no better than the rest. But still, I am not yet blinded. All the love you’ll ever need. Enough to see, for now.

“… you are blessed.”

No Cure for Shell Shock, the collection this is from, is available free on Kindle until the 14th of January. You don’t need a Kindle reader to download it, the app can be installed on any phone or tablet. You can download the book here.

The All Seeing Blind

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Another piece from No Cure for Shell Shock today…

There are no secrets here. No lies, no surreptitious half truths, no unwitting falsehoods. It’s terrifying. This honesty. This stripped down, acid cleansed, bare-bones city of truth. Full of brutalised inhabitants, eyes fixed on the inanimate, exhausted by anything human now that all that is human is laid so bare.

Even the children have seen raw, exposed life. The most trivial of paternal and maternal indulgences once so essential now shorn of comfort and revealed as tainted reflections of the screaming truth of feeling behind them. Love, hate, fear and doubt, all distilled into pure forms, painful to see and burning when consumed. Too much of each of them lost in each instance, the veneer of presentation shaved away to nothing.

I visited, a blind man in the world of 20/20 vision. Honest eyes and astute vision, a curse, a hyperactive sense driven to the point of crippling disability. Immature, that’s what I wanted to call it. The unrefined vision of the naive. Sheer and un-sculpted feeling. Not adult, not wise to the nuance of who we are and how we live. Not grown enough to don the delicate web of armour that obscures the painful and the overwhelming. Un-aged feeling looks up though, it forces itself in tantrums or laughter, it makes no excuses for it’s existence and feels no shame in it’s expression. But the city was silent. Eyes averted, observers exhausted. They weren’t waiting for the lies and untruths time grants us as a defence, they’d lost them long ago. Torn away by the relentless immediacy of corrosive experiences endured. Children who’d never even known that comfort weren’t going to be granted it, not now that they’d been rendered toxic by truth.

I couldn’t stand the place. The pungent honesty of it. I couldn’t deny it and if they chose not to meet my stare I simply wouldn’t meet theirs. I longed for falsehood, I had no envy for their judging glances, although I did resent them. I longed for the veiled and sanitised experience which I knew to be real life. I left them to it. No guilt, no remorse, no regret. Meaningless emotions to them, too obvious an attempt at blindness to even be noticed.

But I left too late. I could already see more, my world was already sharper, starker, as I walked it.

I went home, to civilization, to recover. I knew my time in the honest city had affected me. Comfort would dull my sight though, save me from their affliction. I could return to the world as it should be. Not a lie, nothing so crass, I may have run from their city but I was no coward. I could look at the truth, see it, feel it and not recoil. But they took it raw, still no resentment but was that not the diet of animals? To feel savagely, nerves ruled by instinct? Our art, our device, that was no lie, simply a human way to ingest the bare matter of life. It added meat to our bones, flesh and form to the hard and jagged. There was no lie in that.

Yet I couldn’t do it. Day by day my vision improved. I started to see deep into the frame, missing the rest. They’d infected me. The city had infected me and suddenly the truth was everywhere, abrupt and unyielding. My eyes would fix on the ground, afraid of who and what i would see beyond the safety of carefully nurtured grey neutrality. Music, art, words – once passions now insults, mockeries of my condition. What truth did they hold that was new to me? None. Just trivial plays for the near sighted. Beautiful, I had to remind myself, but not true. Or at least no more than the bones of humanity which they sought to cover and which grew up in walls around me.

I recoiled from it all. I even thought to run back to the city though I wasn’t sure why. To sink further into the silent company of it’s inhabitants? There was no point to that and even less desire. What comfort could there be to my newly inflicted sight in like company? I’d seen their city, they endured raw humanity, it gave them nothing in return.

Instead I did the only thing I could think to do. The only thing I could bear to do. I closed my eyes. And all I could see was my own truth, the truth of that city.

This is from No Cure for Shell Shock, a collection of short stories and poetry. It’s available as an eBook or paperback here.

The Strange Land

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I’ve been here before. I’d almost forgotten, but I’ve walked these streets. Back when they were streets, defined by walls and pavements and order. I’ve met these people too, back when they were people.

Is that right? Did they stop being people at some point? Did they abandon their humanity with the first echoing shots of war? What does that make them now? Enemies? I suppose it must. That’s the idea anyway. But who has such pathetic enemies? Who can claim such raw vitriol as to wage war when confronted with these things? I’ve met them as people, when these streets had order, I didn’t hate them then and now they’re not people that hasn’t changed. Has it?

Maybe they’re animals? That might make sense. I can kill animals, yet they aren’t my enemies. I can walk amongst them, free of malice, I can even like them. But still find nothing in their death. A weak argument, I know. When I walked here before, when all of this had yet to happen, I felt none of the distance I feel in a farmyard. What else can I call them though? If they’re not people and not enemies? Even if they weren’t animals before they certainly act it now. Burrowing into rubble, scavenging in the debris. Dogs do that, pigs, vultures. The people I once saw here didn’t. Proof that they’ve left while I was away. Yes, I know why. I won’t touch that thought. Call it cowardice if you will but all that’s happened is for people to know. And they aren’t people. If they don’t need to know then why should I have to?

I’ve never walked these streets before. That must be the truth. I’ve never walked among these people before. Yes. Because there are no streets here, there are no people here. Just something else, something left over.

This is from No Cure for Shell Shock, a collection of short stories and poetry. It’s available as an eBook or paperback here.