MISFIT DOC: Monica’s Acre of Moon

Let us imagine a white patch on a homogenous background. All the points in the patch have a certain ‘function’ in common, that of forming themselves into a ‘shape’.

                                    — from Phemoonology of Perception, by Maurice Merleau-Ponty


At first Dave was not going to go to the old poet’s fancy dress party. He had no idea why she should seem to find him so interesting, in fact he simply didn’t believe her. Anyway, he wasn’t keen on poets – much preferred novelists. And he really didn’t like big grand houses way out amongst the dark folds & convolutions of countryside … and the thought of being in such a container full of raucous music & poets & circus types, all dressed up in gods’-nose-watts … actually made his organic mandible shudder. Just the notion of being so far out in the rural dark of a night – the vegetation & nearly-infinite amount of detail: pine cones; oak leaves; knots-of-what; various beaked flying-creatures; & nameless fibres … just that! That made Dave’s really big hands judder. Dave liked well-lit clean streets & gleaming Dawkins 12 meme-dispensers on every corner, to boot – literally to boot, often with a sign on saying ‘kick me’, rather than the more conventional ‘drink me’. Such renegade semiotics, such switching of signs. Although, talking of this-way-or-that – and for Dave that & this are both dangers – never the less (or ever a more, actually!) Dave quite likes the  sudden appearances of boot-print signs posted round his central gland town. One night a blank wall … the next that same very-wall would bear a trace, or sp(o)or(e): a round-cornered rectangular boot-print with a ladder of tread — just like the first giant’s step into the utterly still & virgin grey powder. This sign stencil-sprayed on noodle booths, digester cones, or switching-gear cubes — all allegedly masterpieces by the mysterious Shore5 (great-to-the-power-of-five granddaughter of Banksy). And that’s what clinched it for Dave — the image of that boot-print printed sixty foot (or was that feet?) high in a shop window on the northern edge of the Sin(e) Drome. He had to go in. Interiors are something Dave usually questions carefully, but on this occasion he simply did go in. In is a big word for Dave. And there it was, and being offered for hire: an absolutely magnificent replica of a 1969 Apollo mission moon-suit. And so here he is now, with thorny owls in the hairy trees behind him hooting … he alone on the threshold standing in the doorway of a country pile, being welcomed in to Monica’s home … and he dressed to the nines (nine being an essential poetic number). Monica says to him: ‘O Dave, let me take a look at you … O gosh, do give us a twirl.’ He doesn’t want to oblige but Monica, despite being 121, is astoundingly beautiful, not in a sexual way so much, but her eyes are, well, deep, well-deep, well well well … as they used to say in the depths of olden times: Monica’s eyes are simply bewitching. Or bewitching simply! And so Davie baby finds him self (or loses his selves) and obliges with a twirl or at least a kind of rotating shuffle, his moonboots making a strange skidding sound on the marble floor. A little yelp of embryo, perhaps. And Monica now says what she must, and was inevitably always going to say, just in the same way some heavenly object observed over the centuries and thought about intensely produces crystal lattices in the mind much later to be conjured into calendars: ‘Dave, O Dave, what have you come as?’ The uproar of laughter from the ballroom within is at once like a solar flare and yet has the silence of one salt-crystal going crink as it instantly dissolves in one ninth of a rain drop. All eyes are on, and they are on Dave. To say that Dave is embarrassed is to say that Dave is embarrassed. And now he is furious, because he realises after careful transposition of the data into information and then analysis of that information, that every one else who has come to Bluestone Hall, including Monica, is not wearing fancy dress at all. In fact every one is utterly nude. Totally naked. Completely clothesless. Fundamentally devoid of sartorial expression. Dave’s visor is starting to fug up, and sweat is beginning to trickle down his spine. He is now hopping mad, and each hop makes that strange squeak again on the marble floor of the ballroom. O shit he is overdressed in a breathable atmosphere, that is what he is, and where he is … and in an atmosphere no doubt heavy with tangs of naked & sweaty poets & artists. There is a very strange sounding scream now, like an origami donkey reciting something profound from Rain Blooder, for Dave has hopped onto the left big-toe-tip of a young poet called Bryony … who will write the following haiku thirteen months later:


the cherry petal

he treads    is felt    only as


a slight moon’s pink skid


She will also go on to publish – in I don’t Bike Moon Days – the following wee poem:


shelter in

a moon’s


light and hold

in your eye


a boulder older than

any eye’s




And she will even go on to win the Behaviour & Behaviour Backwoodsman Prize for Moon Oratory with this little gem:


one drop of

planet one









Bryony is presently sobbing, and huddled cradling her throbbing toe. And so Monica is somewhat cross with Dave (especially as later Bryony’s toe will become badly infected causing her to limp unhappily after Arthur). But being ONE never to lose any of her nine graces and always ONE to humour sense (as if sense could be made … as so many humans claim), Monica recites very slowly, and very crisply pronouncing each word-shape as if she’d chiselled it from marble: ‘Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.’ And now Monica’s kindness nudges the rudder and goes beyond the frontier no man can breach … out out beyond the bounds of Captain Church. As agreed, Monica nods to the jazz band and so right on cue they begin a very slow arrangement of Davila of The Pale Gray Stone, which as it happens (but not before it happened) used to be a favourite of Dave’s. From within Dave’s helmet this jaunty air sounds to him as if it is playing from a radio in a far-off corner. And now with strange reverberation, like a booster’s good burn, Dave’s stomach rumbles in his spacesuit. He is hungry. Full of force — yet cold as ice is — a momentary image of a tea-time rises through his mind: someone frying sausages on (or in?) a C. of crisis. ‘Come on, Dave, let’s get you away from all this. I have something to show you, and a couple of stories to tell you’. She gently grabs his cumbersome right glove, smiles at the thought of his huge hand crammed inside. ‘Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the trees of the Loon Dome, as the old song used to go.’ The pair — Monica the old poet & Dave the moonman —  could almost walk for ever, walking on the marble floor … but soon forever ends and they are alone within a sting-in-the-tail corridor with windows looking out onto a swirling mass of gaseous thinking. The sound of the band is long-gone, instead there is now a noise like a billion waterfalls. Monica speaks: ‘The problem with you Dave, is you believe in stories, and you have yet to learn to doubt them. For example, that moon, that figures so prominently in your life on Earth, that was in fact an ear.’ Dave frowns profoundly, and squints his eyes. The noise, the noise! This corridor is full of a grey glistening noise, like a vast cloud of roaring dust in the ears. Dave’s head hurts, and if it were not for the helmet, he would’ve covered his ears with his huge hands. He can see her lips move but he can’t hear what she is saying. His ears are uncomfortably numb and seem to be crammed tight with some kind of pink floss. And unlike AI with a penchant for bye-cycles with a power four-two, Dave cannot lip-read. And he can’t feel daisies, he just feels dizzy. Dave shouts through the visor of his brand-new 1969 Apollo mission replica helmet: ‘Pardon, I didn’t hear that. What did you say?’ Monica despite having only written using ink & quill for the last seventy or so years, adeptly re-arranges the signal relay of Bluestone Hall’s Major-Tomahawk computer matrix, and so transmits a scratchy tinnitus-like digital audio message into Dave’s helmet (the one surrounding his head!). Transmission begins:  ‘Dave, remember that dark monolith found on the far side of the moon? Well, you remember that wrong. Just like all those gestures that constituted life on Earth, you got those wrong too … and just like you remembered Her wrong in Souls ‘r’ Us. And how you remembered that old television comedy channel that was broadcast throughout the forgotten Kingdome of Angle Land — did you think it was named after you? Wrong, Dave! And the moon Dave — it was never there in the sky, it was always something down & here … not up and there. N.A.S.A. actually stood for Noon Always Sings Acquittal and was part of a law passed about ignoring the moon should you see it at midday.’ Dave is obviously very distressed and in a great amount of pain, so Monica now leads Dave out of this mincer-like zone of noise, so he can make his escape through a completely-impenetrably-black doorway shaped exactly like Half A. Clarke’s first-&-last thought (without actually being that thought). On the otherside of this {way} it is still utterly dark. And yet in the near distance, accompanied by a brief dog’s bow-wow, Dav e’s id can make out the even-darker-than-the-surrounding-abyss shape of a loyal dog gently stalking a region of still even darker waters. Monica gently relieves Dave of his cumbersome, but astoundingly life-like 1969 replica space helmet. He takes a long sweet gasp of breathable atmosphere … and it is good … three tears are now rolling down his right cheek. Monica is lovely about this, she takes an emerald-green silk hanky from one of her non-existent pockets (she is naked remember!) and so very tenderly wipes away the trio of salty drops rolling down the strange smooth landscape of Dave’s left cheek (or was it the right? You will have to look back through the trancecrypt). Monica stares with her gorgeous out-standing eyes into Dave’s eyes, which, just the otherside of his helmet’s glass, are nestled into two bony orbits. ‘Now, Dave, I’m going to switch on the light. I want you to meet my mum. She has always been down here.’ Monica flicks some kind of unseen switch, and the scene of abyss-black is suddenly flooded with a force of light. And there in front of Dave & Her is a huge crater. In the portion of this crater — a crater known as Monica’s Mum — furthest from them, where the searing light does not reach, the same impenetrable abyss-shadow as before exists … but in front of that the grey dust of the crater floor glittering like hoarfrost and the visible portion of the crinkly rim of Monica’s Mum are clearly seen to be very gently juddering. And there is also a glassy sound, not too dissimilar to the high-fluting-call of a kingfisher, but more prolonged, in fact so prolonged as to be nonstop.  (And there is absolutely no hint at all of Armstrong, and his wonderful world.) ‘Dave, this is my mum, and I love her very much, and I’m really pleased to finally introduce her to you. She likes to listen to stories, not because she believes in stories, but because the sound of them, the vibrations they make … such waves convey pleasure to the shores of her. So, I’m going to tell you something now. I mentioned earlier the dark monolith found on the far & dark side. You will remember how the men walked down into the pit that had been dug into a moon’s surface, and how the lamps on scaffolds all around showed what their digging had revealed — the black stone standing still-&-as-accurate as eternity. Well, there was in fact, and out of fact too, no black monolith at all. It was actually a pile of bright white marble. A pile of fragments of various sizes. A jumble. A chaos. A cairn of crazy paving. The Earth men took these fragments back home for analysis. No question of whether it was wrong or right or dangerously stupid to remove these stones. The first analysis showed that the stone was actually Carrara, or as it was also known, Luni marble, from Italy — yes! the ancient nation-state of Earth! You can imagine the scientists’ shock without that shock being written down in a story. The shock is tangible, right now. Feel it! To put it in the terms of the Scottish geologist, Dr Ellen MacNevis: ‘What the fuck?!’ Further exhaustive examination and computer-aided modelling revealed that the fragments could be jig-sawed back into a single block — a pure white/grey/blue moonolith of marble. And further more, and of mind-boggling significance: the interior of the marble had a void … and this void, Dave … this void was exactly the same shape as you … Dave. Now, you are going to have to, in the next moment, take your last lung-full of this sweet atmosphere … we are going to step into Mum … because I now want you to meet Mike … Mike is actually neither …


… a woman nor a man … but it will be …






… at first simpler …





… for you to think of Mike as your … scul






… ptor … & your act …







… ual dad …


Mark Goodwin is a poet-sound-artist & fiction-maker, who speaks & writes in various ways.  Mark has published six full-length books & seven chapbooks with various poetry houses, including Longbarrow Press & Shearsman Books. Both Mark’s books with Longbarrow Press – Steps (2014) & Rock as Gloss (2019) – were category finalists in the Banff Mountain Book Competition. Over the years Mark has published 'poet's fiction' with The Coffee House, Fire, Skrev Press, Texts’ Bones, The Journal of Wild Culture, and Under The Radar. Monica's Acre of Moon is from his unpublished, poem-punctuated fiction collection, Door to Her {Left} Open. Mark lives on a boat in Leicestershire with his photographer partner, Nikki Clayton.

Submit a comment