My Words, My World

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

Oblivion

Ambles, shambles
from the bench to the bin
Brain craves for meths
as body cries “no more!”

His brain rules his body
and he rolls the remains
of dog-ends from the bin
and begins
the day’s lonely spiral
to oblivion.

Oblivious
to my observation
but I observe
and offer a coin.

Each to his own end.

Hospital food

He looked out the window at the peach dawn lighting up the sky as the last shreds of the night’s storm disappeared.  He had turned off the light so he couldn’t see the room’s reflection.

The towelling dressing gown hung on his sagging shoulders and he pulled the belt tighter around him; looking at the sky made him feel cold but he liked to stand at the window and watch the dawn break; God knew he wouldn’t see many more.

Below, an ambulance pulled out of A&E with its lights blazing and sirens blaring; too late, he thought.  The ambulances were the only constant as wave after wave of suffering was deposited at the entrance of the A&E.  There were no more beds; only the lucky ones had beds. The rest were left in corridors; some didn’t even have a stretcher to lay on.  He was extremely lucky, he had a room to himself; now.

The hospital now had no more space.  It also had no more food.  It probably had no more doctors; none had been round in 3 days.  A staff nurse had brought the tray of food yesterday; he’d heard her tired breathing bubble in her chest on the other side of the door.  This morning’s medications hadn’t arrived, and now probably wouldn’t ever again.  He pulled the dressing gown tighter around his thin frame.

He was hungry, very hungry, but he’d only eaten half the food they’d left him the night before.  The other patients in the room hadn’t eaten any of theirs.  He looked at the two still forms lying in their beds, their faces still covered by their pillows.

He’d made sure they hadn’t.

Mon stylo

My pen
is a stranger to me,
estranged from me.
L’etranger.

My pen
has sat for weeks,
idle, spent, silent.
Oublié.

My pen
turns in my fingers,
once a part of me.
Perdu.

My pen
welcome back, great
to see you again.
Ça va mon ami?

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.

Hand in hand

Hand in hand: like pen and paper.  Oil and gasoline.  Plant and Page.  Ying and Yang.
69. Yes, like 69.
Hand in hand: like Bukowski and a drink.  Hemingway and a fight.  King and the silver spine shiver that makes you turn and check the darkened window for a face you don’t want to see there; especially on the 14th floor.  Definitely not the 14th floor.
There’s more.
I could carry on.
Hand in hand: like governments and dishonesty.  Money and corruption.  Lies and more lies.  Lies breed lies. They lay us down and suck us up.  We believe.
To the noose, to the chair, to Medusa’s lair we go, hand in hand.

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…

 

In the dark

I woke up and Donald Trump was in his chair and Kim Jong-un was in his and it got out of hand.  I don’t trust either of the bastards with their hand over the button…

In my bed, I slept
as half a world wept
at its sins and punishments.
In the dark bombs fell
a dictator laughed
and split the night, open.

Half a world sat motionless
arms raised in surrender;
to no avail.
In the dark machine guns rattled
an army laughed
and tore the night, open.

In the shower I stood, thankful
as water washed over me like tears
and half a world looked for water.
In the dark a mushroom cloud
a despot laughed
and lit the night, forever.

3am weather update

3am,
the devil’s hour.
The wind shrieks through the trees
and on a balcony
(mine?)
sends a flower pot flying.

Horizontal rain
sprays the blinds
in a machine-gun scatter.
With heavy head
and heavy lids

I sit
and wonder why.

Swimming and jumping

“You first.”

“Nnh, nnh.  No way.  You wanted to come here.”

“Yeah, but you’re older than me.”

“Two months.  Big deal.”

The boys stared across the lake.  It shone black in the high summer sun.  Black and deep.  Overhanging trees edged the lake and reflected in the shallows.  Further out a fish jumped, its body smacked the water, creating a noticeable ripple.

“Pike,” said one of the boys.

“Tench,” came the reply.

“Tench don’t jump.  It was a pike hunting something on the surface.”

A pike hunting on the surface.  This possibility changed the game although neither admitted it.  There were some big fish in the lake.  How big?  And pike could be nasty.  Rows of backward-facing teeth.  They’d heard stories from the fishermen who sat on the banks, passing away their time away from wives and children.

As they stood, their feet growing colder and whiter in the pebbly shallows as their indecision increased, the distant surface of the lake rippled and wavelets raced towards them as a fresh wind blew across the lake.  One of the boys crossed his arms and rubbed them.

“You’ve got goosebumps,” said the other, “you’re scared.”

“I’m not, I’m cold.  We could’ve been halfway across the lake by now if you hadn’t have been so scared of a few fish.”

“You mentioned the pike.”

“It was a pike, tench don’t jump.”

“Says who?”

“My uncle.  He’s a fisherman, he told me.”

“Go on then, you first.”

“No, you go.  You’re the one that was scared.  I dare you.”

“Let’s go together.”

They placed a hand on each other’s arm and shuffled over the hard slippery pebbles.  Clear water rose up their legs.  When it got to their knees they both stopped.

“It’s cold.”

“Yeah.”

A passing cloud blotted out the sun and the air grew chill.  The surface became leaden.  Another gust of wind tore across the lake.  A few yards ahead of them the water erupted as a huge fish leapt.  Its splash seemed to echo as its body smacked down on the still-boiling water.

“Pike.”

“Yeah.”

“Did you see the size of it?”

“Yeah.”

“Fancy climbing some trees?”

“Yeah.”

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.

Night kiss

3am, Sunday morning.
Dragged from dreams,
where feet walk on frosted blades
as a million stars fall from the sky,
which shivers
over silent faces hidden from me.
I reach out, they turn away
I call out, and they fade
 
The day,
still hours distant
is crawling round to meet me
 
I stand in the moon’s shadow
as the snow peaks stand hard and white
against black sky brushed with sweeping cloud,
the air cold on my skin
and I awaken under its kiss.
Nocturnal sighs in the blackened boughs
and, once again,
I have been tossed out into the night.

Lugano night, 3am.

Lugano night, 3am.

Grey

Imagine someone just turning out a light.  One minute I was in the sunshine, strolling over the small bridge that crossed the river that tumbled between grey rocks green with moss.  The next, I’m crushed under a leaden sky and grey walls closed all around me, taking my air.

I find myself in front of what remains of a Cold War-era apartment block, the same colour as the sky with glassless windows, graffitied walls and waste of every kind strewn over the broken concrete.

A cold wind blows along the street and I pin the collar of my jacket with one hand and I look to bury my head in my jacket as litter dances little waltzes around me.  I stand back from the building, taking it in.  My stomach knots as the wind drops and the air stops breathing, tense.  A pale face appears at one of the holes that were once windows.

I start to shake.  The sky mirrors my soul as I wonder, not for the first time, why I came here.  I know why.  Pain.  Pain is why I’m here here.  White shards of pain that strip and shred the nerves as vultures tear at a long-dead carcass.

The first couple of months had been fine, taken care of by concerned doctors whose hands caressed the prescription that I eyed as a spectator watches for the matador to give the bull that final thrust.  Even the sight of that little A6-size slip of paper was enough to alleviate the pain I (imagined?) felt.

Then, when I started to walk without wincing, the morphine prescriptions dried up and stopped.  They stopped but my body’s craving didn’t. And so here I stand, shivering, waiting for a little packet of warmth.

 

Black

The sun draws blinds on another winter’s day;

whose light grows longer,

whose warmth grows stronger.

The sun’s rays of orange, pink and violet

grip the deepening sky,

like cat claws on curtains.

The sun slips below the horizon

like a drowned man

to leave me cloaked in black.

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.  🙂

 

L’ultimo treno

Grande amico, grande scrittore.
@dan_ceres

Dan Ceres's Words

treno2

Tutta la gente strana, si ritrova sull’ultimo treno. Delinquenti e vagabondi. Manager stressati e stranieri disoccupati. Occhi aperti, sull’ultimo treno. Quando tutti sono stanchi e soli. E tutti trasmettono un senso di insoddisfazione nei confronti della vita, che li costringe, anche quella sera, a prendere l’ultimo treno. Cammino anche io sull’ultimo treno, che mi riporta a casa dopo una giornata lontano, ancora una volta. Mi guardo attorno, siamo tutti diversi ma così dannatamente simili. Sfortunati noi. Chi lavora è un pendolare triste. Chi non lavora è triste e basta. Persino i drogati e le puttane, diventano parte integrante del gruppo dell’ultimo treno. Perché alla fine, è lui, il treno, ad accomunarci e a farci capire che forse, domani, sarà diverso.

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Green numbers

The hand reaches for the button

that flashes the green numbers

counting down the hours

of a night that is endless; and awake,

as I long to fall into sleep,

be it restless and haunted,

sleep it remains.

I envy it.

Cat’s eye

I’m not a cat;

I can’t see in the dark

yet it’s always dark

when I awake

and draw the line

under another night’s sleep.

Sometimes, always – part II

“I’m already in town Stephie.  I’ve an hour before I have to meet Dan and Bill.”

“OK Jules, see you at Starbucks in 10 minutes.”

Julie gathered the various carrier bags and took a slow walk along the pedestrianized high street.  She stopped to look at the new releases in the window of W. H. Smith then made her way to Starbucks.  Her friend was already seated, looking at the coffee menu.  She looked up as Julie came in then looked at the bags.

“Hello Jules.  It’s not Christmas come early is it?”

Julie placed the bags around her chair, smiling.

“Bill’s birthday next week.”

“Where is he, with Dan?”

“Yeah.  They’re taking a walk along the beach.  Bill loves the sea.”  She shivered.  It didn’t go unnoticed.

“Have you tried talking to anyone Jules, apart from Dan I mean?”

She shook her head.

“I think it’s time you thought about it.  You can’t go through life with this fear that stops you doing something you always liked before.  Cappuccino?”

“Stephie got up and ordered two coffees, leaving Julie staring at the black plastic table.  A minute or so later she returned, coffees in hand.

“Four years have passed; you’ve got to move on Jules.”

“I will. I will.  I’m just not ready for that last step, to air it out in public.  Not at the moment.”

“What does Dan say about it.”

“That he understands.  He can’t though.  How could he?”

“Well, no one apart from you can really understand, it’s impossible.”

“At least, as a woman, you can understand me more.”

Stephie stirred in the sugar slowly, contemplating this last comment.  She looked up into her friend’s eyes, which were starting to glisten.

“You can see a psychologist Jules.  Professional secrecy and all that.”

“The psychologist will still know though.”

“Yeah, but you won’t have to go back there.  I’m sure it’ll do you good, you can start to enjoy walking with Billy again.”

“All Billy’s ever known is that I’m scared of the water, that I can’t bear the sight of it.  How will explain the sudden change, if indeed I do change?”

“That you did it for him.”

“And how am I going to tell a psychologist?”

Stephie looked into her friend’s face.  Her eyes were still glistening.  They were more than glistening.  Her eyes wrinkled around the edges.  She pinched her mouth shut to control herself, but she couldn’t hold it back and sprayed coffee over her jeans.  Customers looked round as Stephie howled with laughter.

“It’s like this, Doctor.  I was sunbathing on a beach when a bloody big crab came along and nipped my tit.”

Sometimes, always

The pebble skipped across the water, hit an incoming wave, flipped and sunk into the grey shallows.

“Five bounces Dad.”

“Best one yet Billy.  We call them skips, when the stone bounces like that.”

The boy picked up a stone of his own and launched it.  It went more sideways than forwards and landed with a plop.

“You’ll get there Bill.”

“I’m too small Dad.  I will when I get bigger though, won’t I?”

“You will son, you will.”  He ruffled his son’s tangle of blond hair that shone even in this miserable, murky light.  It looked like rain.  They turned and walked along the water’s edge, enjoying the sound of the waves breaking on the pebbles and the rattle and sigh as the water withdrew, rolling the pebbles with it.

“I’d like to live here Dad.  Would you?”

“I’d like to Bill.  Your mum wouldn’t though, she can’t stand the water.”

“If we lived here she wouldn’t have to come with us to look at the sea though Dad, she could go shopping.”

The man smiled.  He envied the innocence of the child’s mind and the questions it generated.

“It’d still be too close for her bill.  Your mum doesn’t just dislike the water; she can’t bear the sight of it.”

“Why’s that Dad?”

They continued walking along the shore, their feet sinking between the pebbles that rattled under their feet.

“Let’s make a move now son.  We said we’d meet Mum at 2 o’ clock.  She’s probably loaded down with bags and needs our help.  Feeling strong Bill?”

The boy picked up a last pebble, crouched down and threw it, his arm straight, in a sweeping motion.  This time it didn’t go sideways.

“Well done Billy boy.”

The boy ignored the compliment.

“Why’s that Dad?  Is it because she likes shopping?”

“You and me like walking by the sea.  Your mum feels good walking in the town centre.”

“Shopping, Dad?”

The boy wasn’t looking as a grin stretched across his father’s face.

“Sometimes Bill, sometimes.”

“Sometimes always Dad.”

2015 in review

Thank you to everyone who stopped by, read or commented.  Much appreciated.

Onwards and upwards for 2016.

Have a great New Year one and all.

Chris

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The crawling night

The cheap quartz wall clock ticked its way through the dark minutes and hours in the studio.  It wasn’t loud yet he was convinced he could still hear it, even with the door closed.  He turned his face from one hot side of the pillow to the other. Still sleep evaded him.

The mind plays its darkest games in those still hours, when fears are more real.  The swoosh of the scythe, like a knife through silk, is only a stroke away, and death stalks those wakeful thoughts.  Car crashes become unavoidable.  Work-related accidents a matter of time and media-induced paranoia of acts of terrorism places packages in every hidden shadow.

He flicked on the small book-light under the duvet and read a chapter of his latest acquisition, a paperback fiction bought at the station when the tannoy announced the cancellation of the train, and the drizzle continued unabated.

Satisfied, he flicked off the light and closed his eyes.  He twisted.  He turned.  His brain churned.  Damn it.  His ears strained for the faint sounds of the wall clock but this time he could hear nothing.  Content, he tried the new breathing exercises he’d been shown and tried to relax.  No good.  His mind shifted up to fourth.  He was awake.  A sigh passed his parted lips and, rising slowly to avoid making noise, he got out of bed.

He sat at the desk in his studio.  He opened his notebook, took a pen from its holder and listened to the clock tick its way through the dark minutes and hours.

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.”

Contradictions

Love is a stroll in a sunlit garden, under a perfect blue sky

Love is the lurching axeman, blood dripping and stumbling through corridors hard and white

Love is the warm sun and a light summer rain

Love is the vise-grip of ice, the cold that rips the breath from your lungs and tears from your eyes

Love is the warm bed, as sunlight drifts through the gaps in the blinds

Love is the sword on which we commit the ritual of Seppuku: and give all.

No going back

‘So, who do you write like?’

‘Bukowski.’

‘Bukowski? You write like Bukowski? Ha!’

‘No, I drink like Bukowski.’

‘That’s why I’m here. So who do you write like?’

The doctor unzipped his black bag and raked around inside.

‘Why do I have to write like anyone? Why can’t I write like me?’

‘Everyone has influences. I aspire to attain the heights of some notable surgeons, in time.’

‘Hemingway.’

‘Hemingway? You write like Hemingway? Don’t kid yourself.’

‘No, I drink and fight like Hemingway.’

I coughed as the stethoscope was placed at various points around my back. I looked at the cigarettes on the table.

‘What about your poetry?’

‘Rimbaud.’

‘Rimbaud? You …’

‘No, I drink like Rimbaud but I’m not French or gay.’

‘You’re going to die like Rimbaud.’

‘There is a heaven after all.’

‘No, seriously. The alcohol is killing you. You’ll have to stop.’

‘No going back.’

‘I can’t make you but as your doctor I’m telling you, you’re going to die, and soon if you don’t stop.’

‘How long?’

‘If you don’t stop? Weeks, months. I can’t tell unless we open you up.’

‘I’ll stop.’

‘You’ll stop? Really? Just like that?’

‘Do I have a choice?’

‘No, not unless you want to die. However, you still haven’t been published so it wouldn’t even be a very good career move.’

‘Well, I sold a story and one article.’

‘That’s good but you’ll have to do more and to do more you’ll have to stop killing yourself.’

‘Doc, take that bottle of grappa. It’s a good grappa and I don’t want it.’

‘Sure, I’ll take it. Thanks.’

‘Doc, there’s some good wine in the kitchen, take it, give it to your wife or your secretary.’

‘OK, thanks. Remember, there’s no going back. Falling off the wagon is not an option, you’ll die.’

‘No going back. Sure doc.’

He got his things together, wrote out an illegible prescription and told me to get my ass down the pharmacy. I passed him a bag with the bottles as we stepped out and I shaded my eyes from the low winter sun. He clanked his way to his car. I pulled a couple of envelopes from the mailbox.

‘No going back,’ he reminded me as his car coughed blue exhaust smoke into the cold air.

Back in the kitchen I tore open the post. My head swam from the hangover.  For once it wasn’t a bill. It was the agency, they’d found a publisher, a real publisher who wanted to publish me. Me.

I opened the cupboard under the sink, reached behind the bin and pulled out a bottle.

‘No going back,’ I said, to no-one in particular as I toasted myself.

Leaving

The hand moved across the table, casting a shadow under the glare of the uncovered light bulb, now dull with dust. There was still strength in the hand, and a life of hard work and physical activity showed in the knots of vein and muscle as it moved.

A muscular forefinger which had shot and killed men in war, under orders and without hesitation, now lifted, paused then started to tap, without rhythm, on the plastic table. The window rattled as the wind picked up snow and threw it against the glass, a draught blowing past the single pane. The finger stopped while a deep, chesty cough ripped the silence and echoed in the room devoid of furniture except the table and two chairs.  A car horn beeped twice outside

“It’s time,” said the voice, finding breath once again.

“Yes love, it’s time to go.”

“They’ll look after us Eve.”

The hand reached out across the table and grasped one no less young but smaller and softer and cold to the touch. A sob broke the brief silence.

“54 years in this house George. We raised children who’ve raised their children and all the while we’ve stayed here. It breaks my heart to leave it yet…”

Another gust of frigid air escaped from the rattling window pane.

“At least we’ll be warm my love, and we’ll have company our own age.”

The smaller hand gave another squeeze.

“You’re right George, I guess we have to go.”

The hand, cold and white at the fingertips, helped Eve to her feet and into her coat. It reached for the light switch, and hesitated, as it touched away a solitary tear from a wrinkled cheek. Wind tore past the loose window pane.

“At least we’ll be warm, Eve.”

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.

The night, the chemical night

Every now and again my long-term sleep problems find their way onto the written page; it’s how I feel when I pick up the pencil. I can’t tell of flowers when I see monsters.

***

The night;
star-less, aimless.
Fitful twists and turns and sweat on the pillow
tempted by sleep, made
hidden in foil
just within reach,
enticing, seducing.

The night;
I give in,
because I’m damned if I do
and I’m damned if I don’t.
Irrationality becomes normality
as sleep descends:
a benzodiazepine dream

Daydream
The day is for dreaming
What you could be
or want to be
What you could have been
or will be

The night
I avoided its darkest depths
lest from my pharmaceutical dreams
I returned; empty.
Trapped
in their batwing-leather embrace
to wander alone.

The night,
the chemical night.

Sounds of morning

The summer sun sighs through the strains of a morning

So humid

I open a window;

to sounds that fill my space

 

The unwinding of the blinds on another day

A car coughs

and a motorcycle

screams down the motorway

 

Birds wittering and nattering in an air

thick with heat

a fly whines, a bee hums

as a cat pads through grass

 

No breeze murmurs in this sultry morning,

just scratching

as my pen rolls across the page

like a bead of sweat between the shoulder blades

Bonds

She haunts my dreams

And waking hours

She is gold and silver

And ringed with flowers

Her presence stills me

Her words enthral me

I am hers

And she is mine

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