My Words, My World

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

Archive for the category “Non fiction”

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

A little piece of me

Once in a while I look back over my previous writing just to try and gauge whether, over time, it’s improving.  I think it is.  I also look for patterns.  Patterns reveal the state during a certain period.  My writing of late, especially the poetry, has taken a darkened path.

10 years ago I started having massive sleep disruption.  This quickly grew into chronic insomnia, which I chose to ignore at my peril for a few years.  6 years ago I went under the ‘care’ of the local hospital, following visits to psychiatric specialists who tried to fathom out what the problem was.  I was depressed, apparently.  No shit, Sherlock.  A few years of sleeping no more than 4 hours a night was conducive to wiping the smile off my face.  They put boxes of pharmaceuticals in my hand and sent me away.

During this time I started writing.  I was trying to read a book, unfortunately I can’t remember the title, which was so bad I gave up after 20-odd pages, which is something I never do.  One dark morning I decided I would try and write something, surely it couldn’t be as bad as that crap I’d just given to the charity shop?

Writing became a regular in my life and it helped me where no amount of Benzodiazepine or Escitalopram could.  In fact, I stopped taking anything after two years, against the hospital’s wishes.  Fine, the pharmaceuticals help you sleep, but they leave you feeling hollow, devoid of emotion.  I decided I’d rather not sleep.  So here I am, not sleeping.

For anyone who doesn’t know, insomnia is a bastard.  Mentally, it’s a dark and lonely place that leads ever downwards, where you will eventually come to your own private Niflhel.  It cleaves you open and wrenches your tortured soul from your body while leaving you running on empty.

You stop telling people.  You have to, because all you hear is “Yeah, I had a terrible night as well.”  What?  You can’t explain and they can’t understand so your interactions become sullen standoffs.  You spend the day with a head full of cotton-wool; thinking becomes laborious and even the most banal of tasks requires consideration and reconsideration.  Clear thinking is a reality enjoyed by other people.

Physically it leaves you hollow, like a wind-blown wheat husk dried in the summer sun, light and directionless yet always hoping for a respite, a resting place from its torments.

On the other hand, creatively it has been a wonderful input and output, where my notebook, 2H pencil and I join hands in the early hours and together we chase away the demons that frequently slip the pillow out from under my head.  Those deep still hours of the morning welcome me, absorb me in their serenity and give me time and space to write.  Ideas form and become words because of this.  The majority of what you will find here was written while the world outside slept.

I hope reading this blog gives you at least a little of the pleasure it has given me.

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.

Ernesto, has the sun risen?

The sun also rises.

Donde esta la fiesta Ernesto?

The sun also rises. It rises on a new day, in a new way, earlier than yesterday and later than tomorrow, when the sun also rises.

The sun also rises in a cloak of washed pink, when the blue finally lets go and after the black has given up the ghost.  Eventually it will shine a light on the eastern-facing peaks 5,000 feet above my right shoulder as I sit.

The sun also rises on new hopes and old fears.  Hopes are always new, even if they’re the same hopes you had yesterday, last week or even last year. Hopes are renewable, and like solar power, and are renewed with the coming sun.

The sun also rises on the birds that sing in the new day. Each voice different, discernible from the others.  If I was a cat I’d be at my wits end figuring ways to go and catch one. A swift bite to the neck and it would sing no more. But I’m no more cat than I am prehistoric Auroch, and the birds fill me with pleasure. I can leave them to their song. What do they sing anyway?

The sun also rises on a short night of discarded dreams. Dreams, and drugs to make you sleep, but don’t. The sun also rises on tiredness, which I fight with everything I have to hand; my 2H pencil and notebook. I write.

Love thy neighbour…give me space.

Enclosed space behavioural patterns, what’s it called, lift behaviour? The doors close on two people who only seconds before were having a friendly chat over an espresso in the hotel bar. Now they shut up shop and silence ensues when the doors close like a pair of folded arms. The will to wish the lift to rise is strong and the relief is almost tangiable when it arrives. It seems like the lift and its occupants are holding their breath and finally let it out when the doors open, when those arms unfold. It’s a unique situation; it doesn’t happen when four people are squashed into a car. Space.

Then we have train space conservation; we do, so bear with me.

Four seats and only one of them occupied, their occupant relaxed and probably reading, playing Candy Crush or possibly, Heaven forbid, writing, with a pen and paper don’t you know. A second person arrives and sits down diagonally opposite. A shuffling of feet and space, reluctantly, is conceded. This is still bearable. The first occupant continues as before; reading, Candy Crushing or maybe writing. The new arrival starts to rummage in his bag and out comes a book, a phone or maybe, just maybe, a pen and paper. Two people sitting diagonally can share the same space comfortably; they may even swap greetings – sometimes it still happens, it really does. This sense of conviviality continues, each to their own doing what they’re doing with possibly the occasional glance out the window, looking at the black and white cows in the fields. Why are all the cows black and white when seen from the window of a train? Where are the other cow colours? Is there a law that says only black and white cows can graze near railway lines?

Then the train pulls into the next station. Both occupants look up from what they’re doing, look at the seats next to them, move their bags half an inch nearer their feet and wait. They hold their breath. Time doesn’t stand still but they wish it would; they want to remain with an empty seat next to them forever. They don’t want their space encroached upon but they know it’s going to happen, it has to.

The doors of the train open with a swoosh and people file in, looking for a seat, any seat. It doesn’t matter next to who, they just want to sit down, to have their own place where they can sit and read a book, play the telephone or possibly write. The two original occupants frown, engage in more feet shuffling and move their bags another half an inch to see if that is enough. If not they will sigh, sometimes audibly, and rearrange their space; four seats, four people. With space dramatically reduced the original occupants will have to get used to it. The two new arrivals on the other hand are as happy as Larry. They have their seat and now they can relax, coat off and a big, happy sigh of relief and then out come the books, phones or pen and paper (all four of them?  Oh come on…). They’re on holiday these newcomers, look at them! Any more relaxed and they’d put their feet up (well, if the seat opposite wasn’t occupied) and ask the ticket inspector for a pina colada. The two original occupants are most definitely NOT on Holiday.  Their winter has returned; it’s darker now the light from the windows has diminished in the crowded carriage. The book has become harder to read, Candy harder to crush and the thoughts transmitted from pen to paper are harder to come by.  Frowns indent foreheads and half-hidden glares stared.  Goodwill to all men, except those sitting next to you.

Love thy neighbour, but only if you have the space to do so.

We are

The mirror’s image wavers before me
It implores me
“Look at me”
“Look at you”
I do
And wish I did not

The mirror’s image dances in my eyes
As you chastise
“Look away”
“Look at me”
I do
Relieved that I did

The mirror’s image shows you beside me
Love unties me
Mountains slide
Oceans rage
We are
And we will remain

I see you in the darkness

The sunlight for a second
Blinked
A shadow
Its shadow
By my window whispered
Or did it laugh
As I felt its draught
And shivered
My skin crawled,
then froze
The shadow passed
for now
But it’ll come back
When night falls chill
For I will give it life
In black and white

You are reality

The heart doesn’t flutter;
it hammers, in my chest.
On the train,
the rolling motion,
my rolling emotions,
as the station nears.
The final stop; full stop.

Months in the waiting,
weeks in the planning
and my heart beats the seconds
that pass, too fast.

Am I the only one
alive in this carriage?
This miscarriage of humanity.
Where is the humanity?
Talk to me!
You! The Ipod girl,
in front of Ipad man,
beside Facebook boy
and Candy Crush sister.

Ah! Enough of them.
I’ve been drawn to meet you,
talk to you and kiss you.
As I hold your letter.
A LETTER!
Words on a once-tree,
the Parker Pen veins
stand out, draw me in.
As you stand in the rain,
black brolly Polly,
dark as mystery,
deep as a desert night
but not so old,
nor so cold.

Sand stinging, hand wringing
a nervous encounter,
here at the counter
of the coffee bar.
Spoons clink and rattle
And our nerves finally settle.

Happy place

Puerto La Savina is a happy place
in the early morning.
It’s not a miserable place filled
with the miserable grey shouts
and whistles of a city port.

It thrums; it thrums with
sound of boat engines.
It is happy,
basking in the sun.

Brooms sweep the pavement
and early morning walkers walk.
A thicket of masts wave
with the sigh of the sea.
It is a happy place.

Spring morning

Spring morning, spring dawning.
Sparrow, starling, blackbird
in unison calling,
out their names, and
singing loud their songs.
What is the language
of the birds that I hear?

As my love sleeps,
a sleep content
and undisturbed.
Whilst I, I alone
sit with eyes and ears open,
to the coming of the dawn,
as the birds greet the morn
and each other.

“Good morning to you too,”
I say, as I open the window
and breathe in the air,
as yet untouched
by the waking of man
of cars and vans.

Enjoy the moment
though in silence
it not be.
As the break of day
not far away,
has been announced to me.

Amsterdam; funny old town

Amsterdam; funny old town

Rain splats in the Dam Platz

Friendships deeper than the North Sea

Red light window girl for all to see

All smiles and business

Display and pay

Canal boats and bicycles

Blond girls and blue eyes

Coffee shops and red eyes

Amsterdam; funny old town

 

Steps

I walk alone

I walk in company

I walk directionless

I walk with purpose

I walk in the sun,

and in the shade.

Every step nearer to my destination

Every step nearer to that final one I’ll take

So I shall walk

While I can

And be grateful.

IMG_1095

Lugano Summer

The heat
The sultry heat
Humidity
Show humility
When my temper frays
And my patience craves
The rain
The wind
And the cooling
Of my soul
The summer lust
The heat-filled dusk
The night
The tortured night

The war, Baby.

The lines.  So many of them it seems, interconnected and weaving a spider’s web of expression (exhaustion) on my face.  My face.  My Insomnia.  My card.  I present me and myself to you, my expression (exhaustion) for you to see.  Is it not enough to just get through the day without having killed or been killed, to keep your job, to love your wife/partner/mistress/friends?  What does the world want from me at this hour – always?  Why does it not let me sleep?

We went through the war, Baby.  Almost 15 years, you and I.  Our war.  Troughs deep as trenches, trapping body, poison, blood but offering shelter.  A temporary escape?  Choose the sniper’s bullet or machine-gun mow-down.  The result’s the same.  Bleeding, twitching body on the ground.  Life-draining.

The war Baby.  Those truces. Those long (but not long forgotten) truces.  Not a trough or trench in sight.  Poppy-field sunrise.  Blackbird reveille.  No scars, bullet wounds or barbed-wire kisses. Just us: and the world.  When did you realise that Baby?  Just us.

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

She

She whispers to me

the sound of the spring snowmelt

She holds me

in a snow-chain grip

She loves me

I’m pierced by an icicle

I slide unhindered

on black ice beneath me

Grey sky, leave me

Monday morning, dingy grey

Rain and sleet, sleet and rain

My mood, my being cannot sustain

The will to weather the winter

I wonder whether

I will fade to grey

As will fade this winter’s day

But a ray of light, burning bright

Incandescent, infinite

Crosses the continental divide

Across the ocean, cold and wide

But wider is the chasm without love

When I look upon a grey cloud sky

I should see the blue above

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