My Words, My World

First drafts – A few pages in the large wilderness of the world of writing

The sea’s breath

Yesterday I felt the sea breathing
as I watched the wind-strewn waves;
some breaths shallow, others ocean deep.
I fell into their rhythm
and breathed in the salt spray
and breathed out my soul in return:
sea salt spray for my soul
or what part of it I leave here.

Today I heard the sea choking
it’s breath no longer a rhythm
but a slow death rattle.
I walked in to it, embraced it
but plastic caressed my fingers,
tightened and gripped my hand
and embraced me, as I wanted to embrace the sea.
I pulled, and the plastic relented
the more I pulled, the more it came
but still the sea couldn’t breathe.

Tomorrow the wind will still blow
and the salt will still tang the air
and the waves still sigh upon the shore
and where once the seagulls cried
the only sound will be the empty laughter
of the few that profited from the many
of those who took from the Earth
and spat back its destruction.

Yesterday I felt the sea breathing
and wondered how long it would last.
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Silence

Staring at four bare walls

unavoidable, inescapable

No sound, just silence

Not even the mechanical sound

of time passing

as a welcome distraction

The silence isn’t deafening

but the thoughts are.

If they had colour

it would be grey

If they had sound

it would be a low, lost hum.

The drip, drip, drip of the leaking tap

The drip, drip, drip of the leaking tap,
tightened to the full yet still…
drip, drip, drip,
like some mad aquatic clock
or a water deity’s idea of a joke
and where does all this water go?

Does it race along the tubes and pipes
only to be unceremoniously
spat out
into some shitty sewage treatment works?

Or does it instead splash happily along
those tubes and pipes
and find itself jettisoned
into a little stream,
just a trickle at first
which is then joined by others,
left to the same fate
and together they form a river
which gets faster,
noisy, rushing water tumbling over stones worn smooth
and dancing over rocks and waterfalls
and down, always down until finally,
in the distance,
there’s the sunlight’s reflection on water
and the river’s pace gathers
and drives on
then, finally, pours into the sea
where the drip, drip, drip of the leaking tap
becomes waves upon the shore.

Winter night

A fingernail moon falls down the evening sky
and now the wind has dropped,
from a bluster to a breath
as the frigid night descends.

The trees, immobile in their submission,
silhouette against silhouette,
branches handing like the arms of the guilty
as the frost’s frozen fingers
freeze all they touch;
and even the church bells are subdued.

But lo!
A thousand firesides
lead like beacons in the night,
protesters’ torches in rebellion.

Cold is the winter night
but is vanquished by the hearth of home

In the corner

Following my recent negativity, two days ago I started writing a small fiction piece, something I haven’t done for a while.  I wanted it to be light, happy and, I suppose, a little seasonal, despite my humbug sentiments which came through in my last couple of (apparent) poems. I wanted it finished for today, for a reason.

________________________________________________________________________________

A small triangle of light fell across the boy’s face and he opened one eye, squinting.  He looked at the gap in the curtains.

He threw the covers back and stuck his head through the gap; pale blue greeted him and not a cloud in sight. A perfect day for playing football in the park or riding his bike, if he wrapped up properly and his mother would see to that.  He climbed off the bed, put on his dressing gown and picked up the comic he had been reading the night before, his feet finding his slippers as he shuffled out of the room, ignoring what lay in the corner.  His mother was waiting for him, a box of cereal in her hand. The curtains were still drawn.

“Good morning, sunshine.  You’ve a face as long as your dressing gown.  What’s up?”

She placed the box on the table. Billy was still wondering about the curtains. He sighed.

“It’s meant to be winter, Mum.  We still haven’t had any snow, it’s just sunny all the time.”

He didn’t notice her smile that appeared and disappeared while he poured milk on his breakfast.

“You should be happy.  You can go out to play.”

He shrugged.

“Dad said it was going to snow at Christmas, and it didn’t.”

“He’s not the weatherman, love.”

“Then he said it would on boxing Day.”

“He must have heard it from somewhere, Billy.”

“It’s now New Year’s Day and it’s still sunny.”

She picked the tea-towel from its hanger just as the cat jumped through the cat-flap, shaking herself.  Billy didn’t notice.

“So, you looked out of your window?”

He spooned the last of the cereal into his mouth and finished chewing before he answered, to his mother’s delight.

“I do it every morning and it’s always the same.”

“Your little window, in your room at the back of the house?”

He scratched his head and wondered if she’d been at the sherry, like she had on Christmas morning.  He opened the comic where he’d finished the night before. She turned the light off.

“Mum. I can’t read in this dark.”

“Open the curtains then, love.  I’ve got my hands full.”

He frowned.  Well, he supposed she did have a tea-towel in her hand. She was definitely acting strange.  He put the comic down, walked over to the window and opened the curtain.  His surprise was audible.  Grey sky greeted him and the first flakes of snow were already falling.

“But how…?”

“It’s been threatening a while but your little window looks out in the opposite direction.”

He stood, hand on the curtain, smiling as the snow became heavier.  The grass on the lawn was changing colour.

“Mum, it’s starting to set.”

“You’ll soon be able to throw snowballs and make snowmen.”

Laughing, he left his comic on the table and ran upstairs, throwing open his bedroom door.  He looked in the corner where his prize Christmas present, his new wooden sledge, waited for him.

Where do all the words go?

So you start writing and you continue, word by word, one after another: 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and then…you turn your head away and BANG!, you hit the buffers, nowhere to go, no more forward momentum. You open up the story; it’s been two weeks damn it, not two years but when you look inside it’s like taking a straight razor and cutting yourself to see what comes out.  20,000+ words and there they sit, destined for the file marked ‘In progress’, along with half a dozen other 20K’s that came to the same end.  It’s like trying to build a Lego house but someone’s blocked up the holes in the bricks.

The penultimate day of the year and I sit, devoid of ideas and inspiration.

Am I destined for a life of flash fiction and off-the-cuff poetry?  Fuck.

 

 

Somewhere

Clock tick, ticking in the silence of the apartment
or
the apartments because there are nine in the block
and
I’m the only one awake at this time,
in
these hours where I should be elsewhere
and
not writing, or reading or dropping benzodiazepine for sleeping
and
my body aches for sleep
but
my mind tells my body to fuck off
and
get up, get going and do something
and
I’m on the sofa with a pen in one hand
and
a notebook in the other and a book by my side
and
the clock keeps ticking
and
to think that somewhere the sun is rising
and
somewhere else it’s setting on another day
as
the momentum of our forward roll takes us around
a
big ball of light and heat that keeps us here,
alive,
going nowhere except forward;
rolling, rolling
in space time, in real time,
(who’s got the time anyway?)
as
somewhere to the east of me the sun is coming up
and
somewhere to the west of me it’s going down
as
10,000 lives have just left
and
10,000 have just begun
and
we just keep on rolling. Somewhere.

Slow is the night

Night,
split into two:
broken lines
black and white
drawn and then fade
merge
and become grey,
like the dawn;
if it ever arrives.
 
My eyes are heavy
and my face is sliding
like some lost Dalí canvass;
long dripping clocks
leaking slow time:
sluggish minutes
and
creeping hours
in the long dragging night.

It’s the season

The sax-playing Santa
sat in the shade of the subway
blowing his way through Christmas classics
and then just some classics
with no mention of Christmas;
which is good.
I could listen to him all day
or even an hour
or even 10 minutes
but I can’t;
I’ve things to do
and people to see
and places to go
and even if I don’t
I have to be doing something,
buying something,
eating something,
drinking something
and I can’t stop,
we can’t stop
because it’s Christmas
and there won’t be another one until…
well, this time next year.

Government lies and secret files

Government lies and secret files
and prepare to wade through the bullshit
as it flows on down from above

There’s no responsibility in selling arms
to someone else
for them to kill someone else

and so the hands are clean
and the conscious is clear
Everyone’s friend is no one’s friend
and vice-versa
and around it goes

Sanction this and sanction that
and “they started it first”
and “my bomb’s bigger than your bomb”
as if they’re comparing their cocks
in the changing room

and there’s still room to change
but no one wants to
It’s all government lies and secret files
and the dirtiest clean hands
you’d never want to shake.

Petrodollars

Wake up shattered
with bad news splattered
across the headlines,
the world’s deadline
as its hopes lie in tatters

with the continuation
of the transformation
of the sea into plastic
and the forest into sand
and the animals into memory

while the dollars exchange hands
and get sent offshore;
tax nicely evaded.
No answers needed
when no questions are asked.

Who needs a fucking conscience
when the blood-soaked petrodollars
slip so easily
into slimy outstretched palms?

Photo courtesy of: http://creativesci-fi.wikia.com/wiki/File:Dead_earth.jpg

Sunday morning coffee

Early Sunday morning walk,
hungover.

Squinting in the morning light

Cappuccino with a double shot of coffee
and eyes that finally open

with the hoarse caw of the crow
and the hoarse voice of the barmaid
who must smoke a packet

or spend her life shouting
above the noise of the cutlery
being put in its place

as the coffee machine whirs
and the people sit
over their Sunday morning papers

as the cappuccino goes down
and the day opens up.

Observations from a waiting room

The stairs crush my knees and steal my breath

and I get to the top and I ring the bell

and I enter the surgery but the waiting room

is empty except for the noise

because the window is open

and the noise from the street competes

with the radio newsreader’s urgency

to tell me the headlines and I can’t hear them

but maybe it’s a blessing because

I don’t want to hear them because

everyone has a missile pointed at someone else

and it’s always someone else’s fault

and everyone is trigger-happy

or God-fearing happy-clappy

and it’s mine versus yours anyway

and now the smell of the floor cleaner joins in with the noise

and the headlines as they vie for my senses

and it makes no sense and my knees hurt

and I can’t hear myself think

and I can’t feel myself breathe

and then the doctor comes out

and asks me how I am…

I’m here, aren’t I?

Morning workout

I like to feel the cool air soothe my skin
as I stand outside on the balcony
and breathe the morning air.

I like to hear the leaves in the breeze-blown trees
chitter-chatter amongst themselves
in a language I don’t understand.

I like to see the rain roll down the window
and the streams run in the gutters,
now clean and ready to start again.

I like to watch the clouds chase each other
across the sky, racing in the wind,
making shapes only I can see.

Oh, and it’s Friday.

No fun

No fun
having nothing to say
yet you could talk all day

No fun
having something to say
yet no will to say it

No fun
staring at the pen that won’t write
or the keys that won’t type
or the pages that only turn
in the late summer breeze.

 

A drink to die for – 99-word fiction

I woke up this morning with a sentence in my head; “and fear hung in the air like a death sentence”.  I immediately wrote it down then tried to work it into something.  This is the result.

_________________________________________________________________

I’d been walking for five hours when I arrived on the outskirts of the town. Silence, total and desolate, greeted me and fear hung in the air like a death sentence. I would have called out but my throat was parched.  I walked towards the town square. No one stepped out to help me, nor did any curtain twitch.  I was alone, the fear I felt was mine.  I found a drinking fountain and stooped to drink, just as I heard the first shuffling footsteps, a sound like laughter and the ring of a sword drawn from its scabbard.

Morning story without the glory

The deep-water sound of someone pissing from a height at 4.30 in the morning
before the first blackbird has it in him
to wake up and start singing
and no car hums the tune of rubber on tarmac
and the night has its own sound
a no-sound
a “fuck me, well hello again, it’s you” sound
and I join in the silence,
eyes wide open and mouth closed shut
and I breathe in and I breathe out
and it doesn’t do much good and I turn over
on my side and wonder if I should read by reading light
or just get up and kiss the night
goodbye
so I say hi to my pen and paper and I want to write a story,
any story,
about the world and what goes on in it, within it
and all I end up writing, again, is my own.

Sunrise (I wanna sleep)

“The sun’s coming up.”

“What?”

“The sun’s coming up.”

“It does that, in the morning.”

“Wanna take a look?”

“No, I want to sleep.”

“You should see it, the colours and everything.”

“Pink.  It’s bound to be pink.  Go to sleep.”

“How do you know what colour it is?”

“Because it’s always pink.  Clear sky, pink clouds, pink sunrise. Pink.”

“I’ve seen sunrises that aren’t pink.”

“I’m happy for you, really.  So, get up or go to sleep, either way I don’t care about the pink sunrise.”

“You should you know.  After all, it may be your last.”

“What?”

“Well, we don’t know, do we?”

“Well that’s a cheery fucking thought.  Thanks for that. How am I going to sleep now?”

“Just think, it could be your last sunrise and you’re missing it because you want to stay in bed and sleep.”

“So then just think, it would also be my last sleep and I’m missing it watching a bloody pink sunrise.  Go to sleep!”

Summer heat

Damp sheet,
summer heat
I turn my pillow
over and over
and fuck off mosquito, you bitch
(it’s the females that make you itch)
and now the early morning crows
are crowing, or cawing
while the neighbourhood is still snoring;
except me
and I’m turning
like an undecided Brexit MP
as I can’t for the life of me
cool down
so I get up
and stroll on the balcony
in my shorts
it’s just me and the crows anyway
in this summer heat.

The longest day, the shortest night.

The longest day,
the shortest night

The summer solstice.
The sun rising between two tall stones.
The Pagan rites of five thousand years,
or more.
Time keeping time
Too hot to sleep
A midsummer night’s dream,
or nightmare.
Summer sticky heat.
The sweat from a thousand pores,
or more.

The longest day,
the shortest night.

Page-turner

This book’s “a real page-turner”
it says so on the back cover.
It’s not though really, is it?
Thinking about it.
It doesn’t turn its pages,
I do.
Pedantic I know.
Maybe I have writer’s envy.
I can’t write a page-turner
I can’t even write a page
Lately I can’t even write
Blocked like a drain;
again.

Noise

Electric light, electric noise 
The TV scream
and noise just hurts my ears 
and tears my soul and

SILENCE! Please…

I can’t hear myself breathe
I can’t hear myself live
I can’t hear myself,

be myself

and all that jazz

Ivory tinkle
bass string pull
tic, tic, tic of the cymbal
as the brush sweeps the beat
toe-tap hep-cat
blowing sax
blow Bird, blow
woodwind winding out to meet me
reviving me
like a cold water splash to my face
or the clink of ice in my whisky

Sunday morning (and Sunday Morning)

Wake up, stuffed nose, can’t breathe
can’t see, light switch, where’s the light switch?

Get up, still house, silence, silence
and the clock tick-tocks the night away.

Walk around, bare feet, cold feet
need a glass of water I’m parched.

Wine and bitter mouth, that last digestive
getting festive on a Saturday, as you do.

Sunday’s here and I’m the only one to see it
and when it’s time to get up I’ll go back to bed.

Not much to do but write and read and
Lester Bangs talks to me of Lou Reed
and The Velvet Underground.

Well, at least it’s Sunday Morning.

Winter, let it go

The black night draped
in mourning
for the morning.
The first feelers of light
yet to be felt.
The first rays of the sun
yet to be raised
above the horizon,
as the long and tiresome
night drags on.

While the world outside
and me inside
wait for spring.

Life. In a nutshell

As soon as I was born
I started living
As soon as I started living
I started dying.
Life. In a nutshell.

Through the haze

The world sags like a winter willow branch
and everything is sick and poisoned
and the air is noxious
and the ground is broken
and the jaundiced sun can’t see through the haze
and the haze is man-made
a man-made haze
the end of days
but don’t worry
it’s the size of the button that counts
and there’s always oil where the buffalo once roamed
I know that haze
it’s 500 million men dancing in the fumes of the dollar, the pound, the shekel.
Don’t forget the ruble, comrade.
What’s next off the production line, Jack?
What other piece of useless shit is being bagged and boxed?
As the hordes unfurl their sleeping bags outside the flagship store
Are they fucking serious?
Is this all for real?
As the jaundiced sun looks down
and tries to see through the haze.
Hand me that bottle, Jack,
at least we can recycle it when we’re done.

My pen

The morning after the night before. Which is good, it means you’ve survived. Lived to tell the tale.

My tongue licks sawdust and cries out for coffee. I agree and duly oblige. My tongue cries out again when I put the steaming cup to my lips.  I think of my plans for the coming day but nothing materialises. It seems too large a step from where I am now to where I should be later.

My mind is grey, a bit like the January day which sits heavy outside my window; even the birds are reluctant to make themselves heard over the nothing in the air. Everything is flat, except my tongue.

The day seems to be wrapped in cellophane and I am the Clingfilm Kid. Get off your horse and make a Western out of that.

I’ve no revolver but my pen works fine and that’s something to go on with.

Hats off to Raymond Chandler

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” So said Oscar Wilde.

While I hope my work isn’t mediocre, I can understand the sentiment behind the statement.  We who doff our caps at others are acknowledging something which we appreciate and would probably like to do or achieve.

I have a weakness for reading Raymond Chandler.  Every once in a while I’ll return to any one of a number of books on my shelf.  A great writer.  By all accounts a greater drinker also, but that’s neither here nor there.  I’ve always loved reading Chandler and, not so long ago, as an idea to ‘unblock’, I wrote a small, Chandleresque sketch. It only runs to 68 words but after doing so I found a new impetus to my writing.

I hope you don’t find it too mediocre…


She offered me a coffee.  I took it like a man.  Black, no sugar; like my mood.  I don’t know which discount supermarket she’d bought it from but even with hot water added it was as dry as a Saharan wind.  I managed to drink it without pulling any expression except appearing concentrated on what she was saying, which wasn’t much.  Her words flowed like an uphill stream.

Monochrome

January
damp and cold January
I have a cough and I cough and I splutter.
Does it matter? Does it matter?

My cough plumbs the depth of my lungs in the night like my soul plumbs the depths of despair in winter and the clouds…
…and the clouds are pigeon shit-grey and they roll in then roll over then roll away and leave me…

bathed in monochrome
and the rain…and the rain.

It’s water and I’m dancing
I drank more water than what fell to earth last autumn
so we rain-danced for a drenching soul-cleaning and yet…

it’s January
damp and cold January
let it rain, let it rain, let it rain
pour your monochrome down upon me.

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