My Words, My World

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

Archive for the category “imagination”

English teacher (with writer’s block)

My day is filled with verbs and tenses
clauses, phrases, words and sentences
grammatical structures
quantifiers and determiners

My past participle participated and departed
my present continuous continues to continue
while my future simple
will be far from simple

I’m conditioned by my conditionals
and positioned by my prepositions

I’m an English teacher who wants to write
my language is my day
but when I put that pen in my hand
I’ve nothing left to say

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Nightly battles #2

I thought black was black
as in: the night was pitch black
but when I close the windows
and pull down the shades
I see shades
of black:
pure black,
light black,
eerie black and
rich black
which is not pitch black;
the night tattooed on my mind
With my eyes closed
I see black
With my eyes open
I see black
As I wait to see
the grey of day

Nightly battles #1

Awake. Again.
Counting down the small hours.
Counting out the night.
“Come to bed, baby.”

No one sleeps anymore.  Have you noticed?
Curse of modern man.
Stress of modern life.
Stress?  Ah yes, that new old chestnut.

It’s not exactly the same as being kept awake by the crackle and spit of the fire you need to constantly tend as you peer into the darkness looking for the reflected firelight in the eyes of a predator; a sabre-tooth tiger, for example.

The caveman knew stress.
Did the caveman sleep?
Did his weary body recover after a day traipsing across the plains, spear in hand;
looking for soul food and a place to sleep?

“Oh, I haven’t slept in years”.
It’s the arse-end of 2017.
What’s my excuse?
What’s my sabre-tooth tiger, baby?

Another notebook

I did it again, without thinking. I went to the shop to buy something for the lesson I was about to take when I saw a new line of notebooks at a pinch of a price. Well, I’m sure many of you will understand me…I just had to.

______________________________________________________

Another notebook;
another notebook from a noted store
of a noteworthy purveyor of notebooks.

Another notebook;
bought with the notable intention of
making notes and taking notes.

Another notebook;
Noting acts of notability
and of notable notoriety.

Another notebook;
I have to take notice if I take notes,
if not; how can I note what I’ve noticed?

Laughing in the face of that which laughs at me

A blank page will sit and wait all day: because it can; it has patience, much more patience than I have. The blank page is king and will remain so, never abdicating, until my peasant’s revolt, armed with a sharpened pencil, a dipped pen and the spreading stain of ink removes it from its throne.

This sounds easy but it isn’t. It should be easy but it isn’t. The virgin purity of the blank page reflects in my face, making me squint and cover my eyes.

One letter at a time. One word at a time. That’s both the minimum and maximum I can do. No less. No more.

A blank page will sit and taunt me, its fresh white light, as joyous as a spring morning, laughs in my face and beckons me to do my worst. A blank page shows no fear, even with a sharpened 2H pencil held above it, threatening to stab down at any moment. While its doom hangs over it like the shadow of the executioner’s noose, it laughs in the face of fear. It laughs in the face of my fear.

Now I must go and laugh in the face of that which laughs at me.

Now I must go and write.

Night rain

I am the night rain,
float with me
 
I am the night rain
washing away
the day’s sins
from the shoes
of every sinner
 
I am the wet road
that will cause you
to slip, lose grip
as you grope the wheel
and slide
 
I am the oil that runs,
in colours
and streams.
Swirling, mixing
mesmerising
 
I am the lights’ reflection
broken and shattered
by each raindrop
 
I am the night rain:
drown with me.

Morning mist

Waiting for the kettle to boil I took my usual 5-minute breather on the balcony, around 5.30am.  It had rained heavily the night before and the morning found itself under a heavy grey cloak.  I always enjoy standing out there; breathing, observing, listening and thinking.  The mountains wore skirts of cloud.  I came in, tea in hand and sat down, with just the first sentence in my head.  Strange how things go off on a tangent as they develop.

___________________________________________________________________

The cloud clung to the sides of the mountain.  Beyond it, the sun had risen but the day had dawned pale and would remain that way.   Water from last night’s rain clung to everything.  Hidden blackbirds chattered in the trees and every now and again a crow would raise its voice above the drip, drip of the water.  Pine scent filled the air, which was clean but sombre.

It was time to move.

There was now enough light to get a helicopter in the air and heat imaging would see through the cloud.  He was sure he’d heard dogs in the valley below, and the rain wouldn’t cover his scent for long.

He grit his teeth as he tipped a little schnapps from his flask onto the blood-soaked gauze on his thigh.  The schnapps was the only thing between a usable leg and infection.  In this humidity gangrene would take hold soon if he didn’t find the help he knew was waiting for him.

Four miles to the border.  Four miles till the forest sloped down on the other side of the mountain.  He put all his weight on the pine branch he was using for a crutch and placed his holed leg forward.

It was time to move.

50-word fiction – The footpath

Lost in the forest, I wandered paths now forgotten by men, and remembered only by ghosts of those now long passed.  Restless spirits watched, powerless in the light of day and waiting for the darkness, by which time I would be gone and away from there.

Then the storm came.

The man who counted the dark

He knew how long he lay there. He never had the problem of keeping time in the dark. He would lay with his eyes closed and his mind would toboggan along the cold hard slide of his twisting thoughts but he would still keep time. He loathed the fact he could keep time in the dark while others slept and he couldn’t.

He didn’t have this problem during the day. During the day he would yawn and lose track of time if he didn’t look at his watch. Minutes could drift into half-hours and hours. If he didn’t have his watch he wouldn’t know the difference. Minutes ran and stumbled into each other as he yawned his way through the waking hours until he wound down for the evening until around midnight where, after a drink and a read, he would sleep. He would sleep until the night, cruel and vengeful, would wake him and the process would start over again, as surely as ice will form on a mountain lake in winter, and he’d lay there keeping track of time.

For ten years now he’d lain awake in the dark counting the minutes that ran into hours and he guessed that it would now always be like that until the darkness could no longer be counted.

Spotlight

Hanging in the air
in spectral suspension,
in anticipation.
Then, animation:
a slow sweep,
a bob, a curtsey,
a pirouette.

Framed in light,
a dancer’s spotlight.
I get up from my chair
and in the slant of sunlight
through the Venetian blind
a million others go dancing.
Dust.

The mind and the madman shuffle

I’ve decided I’m fed up with writing about insomnia.  It remains.  So be it.

I was in the waiting room of my GP the other day and I saw a picture on the wall which I’d never noticed before.  I had one of those “what if” flashes that occur far too infrequently.  Oh come on, it beats writing about insomnia…

___________________________________________________________

            The blue-framed picture stood out from the white wall.  It framed a poppy field scene; a blaze of red with a copse of trees in the distance and, further still, white-tipped mountains, hard and stark against the blue summer sky.

The buzzer sounded.  The person next to me go up and shuffled through the waiting room.  A door opened and a white-coated doctor stood, clipboard in hand, and ushered the man through the door.

“Good morning Mr…”

The door closed.  I was next.  I looked at the picture again, studying the contrasts of the blood red poppies against the yellow cornfield against the white mountains against the painful blue sky.  I liked the green, it was reassuring, a place of rest for the eyes in this riot of colour.  I looked at the trees, full in their summer coat of green.  Something moved.  It wasn’t out of the corner of my eye, I was staring directly at it, damn it.

Yes, it definitely moved.  What the hell?  Behind one of the trees a figure, a man appeared.  He poked his head and shoulders out from behind the trunk.  I looked away, it would be ok, just look away, look at the window, think about that bus that’s crawling past in the slush outside.  I looked back.  Still there, he was still there.  He waved, the little bastard waved to me.

A door opened down the corridor and I heard a shambling gait amble towards the reception area.  I was next.

I looked up at the picture.  The little man was joined by a friend.  They both waved as they came out from behind the tree.  The buzzer sounded and the door opened.  A man in a white coat and clipboard appeared.

“Good morning Mr…”

I looked at the picture one more time.

Thank God I was next.

I hope my doctor doesn't mind me using this image...

I hope my doctor doesn’t mind me using this image…

 

3000 miles

3000 miles of ocean

as dry as a desert highway

Distinct words from remote voices

I hear you speak

as distances vanish in the setting sun,

my setting sun

as I become the nightfall.

Eyes flicker in the madness of dreams

Then open; awoken

but the images remain

The bark of the beggar

as the sidewinder stamps its tail in the sand

of the desert highway,

where 3000 miles of ocean lay.

 

 

 

Swiss six word stories

He looked at her, and Gotthard.

 

For those of you with dirty minds, I was writing about a man and his wife on holiday, just before passing over the St. Gotthard Pass.  🙂

 

Broadsheet

I looked up from my phone.  My girlfriend had texted me.  She’d changed her mind and decided to go for a drink with the girls from the office so could I get something for myself?  Yep, I thought, I’ll also pass the off licence for a bottle of Australian red.

I started people watching, something I never do.  I’d never taken much notice of how much people now walk around in their own world, without passing a word between them.  People passed each other like unlit ships on a foggy night, unaware of each other and in danger of colliding.  Heads tilted, eyes down and in total ignorance of their surroundings.  I guess once upon a time people used to wander along with paperbacks or something.  I can’t remember.

A man stepped out into the middle of the pavement, a newspaper (a newspaper?) under one arm, an umbrella under the other.  With his Bowler Hat, he gave me the impression of a Magritte painting.  He looked around at the tide of people ebbing and flowing around him, smiling and amazed as they avoided walking into him.

“Excuse me?”, he said.

Screen-lit faces continued to shine briefly then they were gone.

“Excuse me?”

Palm-held virtual reality maintained its silence.

The man looked around once more, coughed politely and took the newspaper from under his arm.

“Very well.”

He unfolded it and shook out the creases.  Looking around once again he opened it, arms wide, and stood in the middle of the pavement.

Two lines of people opened up, one going east, the other west.  I watched him stand like a beacon in the middle of it all.  A low hum of voices murmured.  He watched their faces, gently lit in the phone-glow, as they approached him, an unwanted distraction as they tried to avoid him.

“Can’t you move?”

“Mind out!”

“Do you have to just stand there?”

A gust of wind rustled the paper in the man’s hands. He ignored it and continued to stand there, arms wide, as an army of new-age hunchbacks flowed around him.  I laughed.  The other people at the bus-stop looked at me, now distracted from their own telephones.  Smiling, I left my place in the queue, forgetting all about the number 38 that would take me home.

I took an Evening Standard from the rack and walked up to the man.  Standing in front of him I opened the newspaper.  I heard his paper shuffle as people continued to tut and moan their way around us.  A face peered round his newspaper.  He raised one eyebrow, disappeared behind his paper and cleared his throat.

“Shares due to plummet.”

Smiling, I scanned the pages.

“Sex scandal secretary wants top job”, I replied.

“Do you have to bloody well stand there?”, asked someone as they almost collided with us, his sappy smartphone face a picture of indignation.  He went back to his phone and moved on.  The man behind the paper coughed.

“Environment minister to quit over unethical shareholdings”

I took up the game.

“Woman jailed for manhood attack.”

“Price of oil to continue dropping.”

“Actress in no-underwear shocker.”

It continued to and fro as we worked our way through the papers, ignoring the protests of passers-by.  Finally, we’d finished.

He doffed his hat to me as he folded the newspaper and stuck it under his arm.

“Same time next week,” he said, “but next time, bring a broadsheet.”

So you keep writing

So you keep writing. At least, you try.

You lie awake in the darkness waiting for the morning sounds; the crows in the fir tree, the far-too-early church bells, the Harley Davidson that surely must have an illegal exhaust system stuck on it. And so you lie awake and you write, except it’s all in your head. You know you should get it down on paper lest you forget (and you will) but you don’t want to disturb the part of the bed whose soft breathing confirms she has finally found sleep, so you continue writing in your head.

Enough! You ignore the hour, you defy the fact the crows are not yet even moving, let alone crowing in the treetops. You’ve anticipated the church bells and the (no doubt fat, short-legged) Harley Davidson owner is probably still tucked up in bed, riding noisy dreams.

The pen and paper await you like dogs waiting for their morning walk. You ignore the need for coffee as you rush to put on paper that which was rushing through your mind, lest you forget.

Sat at the table on the balcony breathing in the cool morning air with pen-scrawl for company. A pink-blue sky crawls out from under a dark cloak. A small bank of cloud above Mount Tamaro resembles the first huffs and puffs of a volcano, cars hiss along the distant road and birds chatter their morning stories.

The words on paper reveal themselves to you in the cool, blue light of day and have taken on an aspect and meaning different to that which came to mind, lying there in the darkness. The words that ran like liquid silver now seem lead-filled, dull and heavy.

So you keep writing. At least, you try.

Ink

I’m currently trying to work my way through the minefield of novel writing.  Now my teaching course is finished I try to dedicate at least an hour every day before life enters my world.  This doesn’t mean however that I’ve lost my love for the short story, in fact I’m using word limits of late as a writing exercise, to get the brain moving if you like.  Here’s another one of them, this time I gave myself 200 words.  It’s inspired by the black paint peeling off the gate – I just changed place and perspective.  Over to you.

__________________________

 

A hesitant scribble with the last stub of a pencil, trying to make it last.  Where would the next one come from?  He’d tried scraping the walls, adding saliva, hoping to make primitive ink but it dried and faded, a metaphor for life, he thought.  Like a rose, it bursts into bloom then slowly the ground is covered with a silken duvet.

The pencil was his saviour, his sanity.  He wrote to no-one but the words he scrawled were his words, his truth.  He held the stub of the pencil and wondered how many more words he could write before the lead finally gave way and became nothing.

As he lay on his bunk, listening to the night sounds, he heard a faint patter.  His thumbnail struck the match, expecting a cockroach or maybe a mouse for company.  He saw nothing except shavings from the ancient black bars, which he now held the match to.  The paint was peeling.  Before his fingers burnt he scratched the black paint and spat on it.  Salvation. The writer, with another six years to serve, lay smiling on his bunk.  Tonight he could sleep without worrying about his pencil.  He had found his ink.

99-word fiction – The face

She lay on the bed and he kissed her again.  She was beautiful.  Her face, that face, as smooth as morning ice, her complexion airbrush perfect and those eyes, deep and black as mineshafts, stalked him around the room. He was reduced to switching off the light before undressing and only when he was under the duvet would he turn the light back on, and there she was, a remote smile always on her face. He couldn’t go on like this, she had to go, permanently.

He bent down and kissed the cover of Vanity Fair one last time.

The shrink and syllable

Message / psycho / disyllable

Sounds like an English pub name, in fact, should I ever own a pub (dangerous Farley, dangerous) it wouldn’t be a bad one.  I digress.  This piece came from an early morning idea of opening the dictionary, closing my eyes and jabbing my finger three times and seeing what words were found…the first two were ok. At 7am I really had to think about ‘disyllable’ though. Anyway, I gave myself 20 minutes for the exercise and it rolled out like this:

***

He sat there staring at me, just wouldn’t drop his eyes. I could feel myself squirming inside, uncomfortable was not word enough for how I felt. In some far off corner of my brain though I rationalised; he had a point, some twisted logic that made his argument plausible. He waited.

“You must understand Mr Brunton that I am not an expert in that field.”

Yes, but what do you actually think doctor?”

Well, I suppose if I had an opinion I could proffer it, I guess I can’t see the harm.”

He waited. I cleared my throat. I wasn’t so much worried about his reaction, I found myself wanting his approval. I held his gaze.

“The first thing is you need to stop thinking everything is some kind of subliminal message, with some hidden agenda. It really isn’t like that. You…”

“Doctor, you work for the system, you would say that.”

“System? What system? I am a psychologist Mr Brunton, you came to me remember?” I heard my tone change. No matter what the situation I’ve always kept a lid on my feelings. Impartiality is my middle name. However, with this psycho sitting in front of me thinking God knows what about me, whilst the colour drained and returned to his face with every fleeting emotion that raced through his mind, his eyes constantly wandering round the room. I could feel tiny bubbles of anger rising up, like champagne in a flute glass.

“There is nothing untoward about it,” I continued, “and I really don’t see the problem Mr Br…”

“Ah! But you wouldn’t would you doctor. For you it isn’t a problem you’ve ever considered. How many people go through life blatantly ignoring fundamental questions such as these? Too many I shouldn’t wonder.”

“Mr Brunton.”

“You ignore these things at your peril doctor. These issues must be confronted, they have to be…”

MR BRUNTON!” I was now shaking visibly and any trace of impartiality had flown out of the window or crawled under the door. “Mr Brunton, I am not an expert in either linguistics or grammar, therefore I will now find you the contact details of the Oxford English Dictionary, whereupon you can contact them yourself and ask them just why the word “disyllable”, which means a word containing two syllables, itself actually contains four.”

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