• carmillavoiez

Colourless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously

What would our vital organs say if they had voices, and how would we react if we overheard their complaints?

Colourless Green Ideas Sleep Furiouslyi

by Carmilla Voiez

Spilling pills on carpet, like dew on grass,

she swallows handfuls, hopes to silence the voices,

with vodka, her tonic. Eyes are shuttered fast,

she fears insanity. What unnatural sources

can produce the jumbled quarrels that fill her head?

Psychosis? Is that why she poisons herself?

But life is long, and time stretches till death.

One advantage of youth, enjoy its wealth.

Behind her fluttering lashes, organs compete

to communicate the various needs pertaining

to each. Unable to merely accept a defeat.

Cerebrum unconscious, deaf to the ailing

viscera. Lit by networks of neurons, on a bench,

sit opposing councils of war. Entrenched.

Sit opposing councils of war. Entrenched,

all bound to positions, both within and without.

Gut and Liver – first to the parapet.

The autumnal badger raises its snout

and spits a stream of bile at Cerebrum.

‘Honourable friend, point well aimed and delivered.’

Gut digests the eloquence, proud of his chum.

‘That Brain sleeps while we speak, is rude and absurd.’

On an elevated platform, the General considers

the mob’s complaints, before grabbing a mic.

Watching their taskmaster, confidence withers.

Organs may be united, but know they can’t strike.

‘Listen up, workers. It’s vital for you to see;

we cannot organise when exchanges are free.’

‘We cannot organise when exchanges are free?

You preach loyalty from a platform that floats,

using neural pathways, like branches of trees,

to vital organs outside your bridgeless moat,

neither protected nor safe from the toxins that flood

from these destructive habits that poison our veins.’

Heart sings out the speech he’s paid for in blood.

Organs cheer as General’s influence wanes.

Eyelids twitch, entangled limbs soften,

but stretch in dreams to sprint through wild places.

Her body huddles on a second-hand sofa.

Flesh is hemmed between takeaway boxes.

A lonesome crystal tear swings on an eyelash.

Their exhausted host moans and thrashes.

Their exhausted host moans and thrashes.

In anguished dreams, Brain cannot rest.

‘Even in sleep, our electrical impulses,

direct you to pump, or inhale, or digest.’

Lungs frowns at her mottled butterfly wings.

‘I’m imprisoned with tar. Fresh air is key.’

‘And exercise,’ adds Heart, the erstwhile King.

‘If Brain must sleep, we’ll bring back monarchy.’

Nurse Spleen and nesting Uterus complain

about lack of iron and other needs.

‘Eggs are wasted. Flushed with blood down the drain.’

‘We’ll run out of anti-bodies,’ cries poor Spleen.

Heart beats his drum and Lung’s wings are taut.

The applause of organs resounds through the court.

The applause of organs resounds through the court.

Amygdala, Caliban, beast of fear

roars and paces, stares down everyone. Heart

races, Lungs quivers, filling with air.

When Amygdala rages no words are needed

to turn dreams to nightmares. The chamber shakes.

‘You must all calm down,’ the General pleads.

On a scruffy sofa, the sleepy host awakes.

She downs more vodka and poor Liver groans,

sucks on a cigarette as Lungs turn black,

dazzles the congress, bright light from her phone.

Cerebrum’s eyes flicker. Taken aback,

by the chaos, offers a politic smile.

‘Finally!’ cries Heart. Liver launches bile.

‘Finally!’ cries Heart. Liver launches bile.

Cerebrum wipes spittle from her face

and scans the angry group. ‘What happened while

I dreamed sweet dreams of pleasant days?’

General says, ‘Ma’am it’s mutiny. Every organ

is revolting.’ ‘Displeased and diseased we are and yet,

so far, Cerebrum has offered no solution.’

The girl cradles her head to stop the tete a tete.

‘I need more neuroleptics,’ she mumbles.

She cannot ignore and dare not implore

the invisible voices to rest. Fingers fumble

with the child-proof lock. One, two, three, four.

Should she take more to quash their persistence?

I’m delusional like Dad. A fearful inheritance.

I’m delusional like Dad. A fearful inheritance.

Straight-jackets cramp my style. A padded cell,

her future home, if pills can’t subdue her nemesis.

Cerebrum panics, weighty unconsciousness dispels

all ability to ponder, reason, or govern.

She fights to rise above the stupor, to assess

the threat and pacify her anxious coven.

‘Dear Heart, calm down. Don’t palpitate. Don’t fret,

or spit at me please, Liver. It’s just a phase,

a teenage fling. We can move beyond this.

Mind and body are sick from colossal malaise.

Our chatter’s the poison. We are what’s amiss,

and silence the cure, the head space to move past

spilling pills on carpet, like dew on grass.’

I wrote this as an assignment for the A363 Advanced Creative Writing module. I had a lot of fun with the voices, but it’s not Sylvia Plath, that’s for sure. It grew from a discussion with my cognitive behavioural therapist about negative feedback between brain and other body parts – particularly heart, lungs and digestive system – when it comes to managing anxiety. I related this idea to the Gaia Hypothesis which views Earth as a single organism rather than competing organisms. The human-made ecological disasters made me wonder how a Heart or Liver might feel about a person’s lifestyle choices. I considered how anthropomorphised human organs might look and sound, and what effects over-hearing their complaints might have on the host body – in this instance a teenage girl.

i The title is a grammatically perfect but nonsensical sentence from linguist Noam Chomsky.