My Words, My World

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

Archive for the tag “Writing”

Motion

Headstrong,
falling headlong,
falling over,
a stumble,
a tumble,
forward momentum.
Look ma, no brakes!
Just my hands in front of me.

That push over the edge
that fall from the ledge
that push down the slide.

Gravitational pull
always down; unstoppable.
No skin left on my palms,
red raw and racing to ruin,
or reward:
or just racing, really,
directionless
but movement is movement, after all.

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Time (oh, how it passes)

The days pass
and time is passing,
another day has passed into night.

Time ticks on. Time ticks by.
The clock strikes. The bells chime.
The sun rises. The sun sets.

Always rushing, I’m buffeted by time
like the wash of air from a speeding truck,
carving lines on my face, like sea over sand
yet what is the significance of these lines
within the grand significance of time?

Time was. Time is. Time will always be.
Time. Oh, how it passes.

A muse

A muse, to amuse me
to use, abuse
to choose words for me.

A muse, to confuse me
to effuse ideas
and be abstruse for me.

Amuse, to ruse me
who eschews my views
but enthuses me.

A muse, to refuse me
to peruse my work
and then contuse me.

A muse.

Don’t talk to me

Don’t talk to me about the weather
when I can see and feel the sun,
the rain, the snow and the frost.
We have weathermen for that, anyway.
 
Don’t talk to me about your politics
when I have ears and hear the bullshit,
the lies, the promises; mostly broken.
We have newspapers for that, anyway.
 
Don’t talk to me about love
and how they say it is blind.  It isn’t.
We jump in with eyes wide open.
We have hearts for that, anyway.
 
Don’t talk to me about death
when it’s the guaranteed end of everyone.
I know I can only be at peace with myself.
We have priests and undertakers for that, anyway.

Back to that old chestnut

Sleep no longer came around so often;

it shied away like some embarassed first date,

or a cat that slinks away under a moonlit sky,

or the thief leaving the scene of the crime.

Ah, fuck it!

There are still a million words to write.

50-word story

“It wasn’t me.”
“What do you mean, it wasn’t you; you were seen.”
“By who?”
“Someone.”
“Who?”
“Did you do it?”
“No.”
“Do you have an alibi?”
“No.”
“I’m gonna have to take you down.”
The accused raised two stumps for wrists.
“But you said she was strangled.”

Breathless

Treadmill mind
moving, always moving
but going nowhere
The clanking machinery of daily existence
steam hammer blows
and sharpened scythes
hacking, chopping and cutting.
The tink, tink, tink of machines cooling
and the whir of motors humming
and wind in the sails;
there she blows, boys!
and the slosh of the hull in the water
while some dancing, gyrating compass
leads us to the world’s end.
Pull back, you’ll fall off!
No captain, there’s an iceberg ahead
cliff tall and cliff white.
Don’t stop me, don’t stop me
and look, there’s land ahoy
I see smoke and fumes rising
as big business beats its big drum
and the machines a-clattering
and toxic clouds lay like quilts over everything,
and everything’s changed,
touched by the hooked finger,
a stab in the chest like a stab in the dark
and light’s reflection on steel
beaten by a hammer
as the sparks fly
and molten liquid steams in the mould
as another of man’s design pops from the die
and then lapped up by we who wait
with paper and plastic in our hands;
but clean hands at that
although our nails are chewed.
The nails, nails, nails
beaten down into submission
but don’t forget to remove your thumb.
Look out!
The whites of the hospital
the whites of our eyes
always peering around the corner
because you don’t know what’s going to hit you
unless you see it coming
Like a jack hammer to the face
beating, beating, beating; pulse like
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Can you hear it?
It’s life: talking

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

Nightly battles #3

The lines were drawn
the enemy position made clear
I was becoming surrounded
but was surrender an option?
Really?
Was I to give my all,
myself to myself
like a Pagan sacrifice to knowledge?
What did I learn?

But the enemy retreated
and I slept the sleep of a clear conscious
(it is)
and I slept the sleep of an innocent soul
(it is)
and I slept the sleep of a hard day’s toil
(it was)
and I slept the sleep of a body and mind broken
(they were)
and so, finally,
I slept the sleep.

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?

Symphony and scream

The air is filled with the symphony of a thousand broken hearts shattered into a thousand pieces while the remaining void is alive with the anonymous scream of a thousand voices, cried bloody and hoarse.

Symphony and scream

 

Song of the sea

I want to write a poem of the sea
and watch the gulls,
wind-blown and free
and feel the breeze caress my face

I want to hear the story of the sea,
to feel the sun
burn and scorch me,
in the salt spray of the breaking waves

I want to sing the song of the sea,
the siren’s call,
the fisherman’s plea,
as the storm clouds gather on the horizon.

I want to feel the anger of the sea
The pebble rattle
on the shore lee
as the waves beat upon the strand

I want to give myself to the sea
at the end of my time,
and let my body
be taken in the longship’s flames

 

Song of the morning

In the dark,
a candlelight in my head
as I’m pulled from infinite dreams
(of what?)

Eyes closed but the mind
opened to a thousand possibilities
in the coming dawn
(at least I hope it is)

I want to hear the morning’s chatter
among the birds
and their song of the morning

Valkyrie

She walks
in a rainbow shimmer
under a blue-black sky
 
Thunder
announces her entrance
drum roll accompanies her
 
Lightning
illuminates her path
ecstatic in static
 
The dead
strewn on the battlefield
She takes her time, and chooses

On your own

He couldn’t remember how long he’d been walking. he remembered coming out of the sanitary-white hospital ward, the stench almost too much to bear. The place was littered with bodies, beyond stiffening, and the buzz of flies seemed like a road-drill in the silence. As he left the building he caught a glance of himself in a shattered window. MacQuade was 28 years old. He’d had black hair when he entered the place, now an old man looked back at him, or what looked like an old man. White, fluffy hair stood up from his head and beneath it a face, as white as the hair, drawn and gaunt.

The scene in the ward was replayed outside, but on a much grander scale. Vehicles crashed in the road, bodies on sidewalks, on grass verges, on the road itself. Whatever had happened had happened with a suddenness that took everyone by surprise. Most car doors were still closed, meaning the occupants hadn’t even had time to stop and get out.

“Hello? Hello?”

MacQuade’s voice croaked in his ears but it was the only sound he could here on the four-lane boulevard which lead past the hospital. He stopped and walked over to a grass verge, ignoring the bodies which had been walking instead of driving. He stooped to look at what else lay on the grass. Sparrows, pigeons and even a crow, its eyes open and as cruel in death as in life. Wholesale human and animal fatalities and yet, here he was, alive, here on this green verge, the grass still healthy. The Rhododendrons in the flower beds still full of colour, roaring pink and fuchsia.

That evening he’d found tins of food in a supermarket but everything else had gone over. Christ! How long had he been out? They’d operated on his wisdom tooth on a Wednesday, the 28th July. He’d gone in search of a calendar. Someone had marked off the 28th on the one in the supermarket office. He just had no idea what day it was now. The bodies were skin on bone and that didn’t happen overnight.

He’d found a bottle of whisky in the store and got right into it immediately after the can of tuna flakes. Halfway down it he remembered his wisdom tooth no longer caused him pain. He smiled until he looked out of the window.

The end of his tether

He’d often wondered about his tether and the end of it.  Until he picked up a dictionary only a week before he hadn’t known what a tether even was.  Now he knew and now he thought he’d reached the end of it.

He was glad it was winter.   He didn’t mind the cold and the snow and, in happier times, he’d always been an enthusiastic skier.  In happier times.  Yes, he thought, he didn’t mind the winter with its snowy peaks, white crystal frosted fields and the smell of mulled wine in the market square and steaming paper cups warming hands in the cold.

He looked out of a window to the outhouse.  The cold.  The cold was good.  It killed off many of the pests that hung around in warmer climates or even down in the valley, although now other pests had found him and disturbed his peace.  Footprints and a strange indent in the snow crossed the yard, as if a sack of firewood had been dragged.  Yes, he’d reached the end of his tether, and the bodies mounted up in the outhouse.

The pain and pleasure cycle

An intermittent intermission
while life melts in fission.
Fused and confused.
A pause for breath,
like death
but not so long
or so final
or so primal.
As each beginning is an end
in a cycle which contends with us
and renders us with reality bites.
Slights and fights,
while in the sand we bury our heads
and look for the treasure
of pleasure.
Delectable and delightful…
Any place to leave the pain.

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?

Dry

The old man stood with a length of coiled rope around his shoulder and spat into the dust.  The sky was cold and clear.  He looked at the sky every day but the clouds still avoided him.

“Giovanni, what’s the latest?”

“January, papà.”

In November they said early December, then it was going to be mid-December, then Christmas.”

“No one really knows, papa.”

“No one knows?”  The old man spat into the dust once again.  He took a leather pouch from his jacket pocket and started to roll himself a cigarette.  “My father could tell what the weather was going to do, a week before it did it.”

“You know as well, papa.”

The old man flicked a match.  He scuffed his boots in the dust, kicking up a little cloud.

“I did once.”  His rummy eyes looked up again at the clear blue sky.  “This year is different.”

From their lofty position on the lower slopes of the mountain, where the pastures lay brown and dry, they could see the distant Monte Rosa.  Even from that distance they could see its barren slopes; only its vague glaciers flickered white in the sun.

“There’s no tourism yet.  Tourism’s suffering and we’re suffering with it, Giovanni.”

“The snow will come papa, it has to.”

“Do you think?  When was the last time it rained, son?”

“October.”

“It drizzled for a couple of hours, Giovanni.  It hasn’t rained in anger since July.”  He flicked his head in a backwards movement.  “Those woods are a tinderbox.”

Giovanni nodded his head.  “The weather channel put the area on high alert for forest fire risk.”

The old man crushed his cigarette carefully under his heel.  “It’s about the only thing the weather channel has got right this year.”  He lifted the rope from his shoulder and placed it on the old trunk of a walnut tree that served as a chopping block.  He nodded down the slope.  “I want to get that fence in the bottom field repaired.  If the snow does come at least the animals will be contained.”

This last comment fell like an axe blow between the men.  They’d already lost a few animals, sickened by the drought conditions; they couldn’t afford to lose any more, there dwindling finances couldn’t take it.  They’d lost the annual orders from the surrounding ski resorts, whose slopes were bare and car parks were empty.  In his 72 years the old man had never known anything like it.  He was almost glad his wife had passed away the previous spring and didn’t have to see what the farm had become.  His son brought him back to the present.

“Five months ago we were enjoying a beautiful summer and everyone said we’d pay for it, that the winter would come early and the snow would be heavy.”

“Yeah, and I was one of them, telling the same thing to anyone who’d listen.  Now I’m just the foolish sheep farmer who can’t tell the direction of the wind even if I wet my finger and hold it in the air.”

“Come on papa.  This year’s caught everyone out.  It’s not just down to us anymore.  Think of all those satellites out there and they still can’t give us an accurate forecast.”

“Any farmer worth his salt should be able to mind his own, without the need for satellites or weather channels, son; just like my father and grandfather used to do.  Maybe the people are right; maybe I am just a foolish sheep farmer that prophesises ‘red sky at night’.”

“Enough papà.  Come on, let’s get the fence fixed so I can go to Cristina’s with that firewood.”

Giovanni looked into his father’s face.  This autumn had taken everything out of him.  His face was drawn and his eyes sunken and dark-ringed.  The quick smile was no longer there, replaced by a stare which admitted defeat.

“We can do the fence later, son.  Take the wood over to Cristina; if her father’s down in town, you’ll have to unload yourself, it’ll take time.”

Giovanni considered this.  It was true.  All the while the weather held, and it looked like holding for a fair while still, the bottom field fence wasn’t a priority.  The nights were cold and Cristina needed the wood.  He took the pick-up keys from his jacket pocket.

“Get some rest papa.  I’ll be back in a couple of hours, three at the most.”

“Give my regards to Cristina and her father, if he’s there.  I guess you’re right, I could use a little rest.”

“There’s nothing more any of us can do papa, at least until this weather shows signs of breaking.”  He got into the pick-up truck and the electric motor hummed as the window rolled down.  “Get some rest papa.  How about we go into town for a couple of beers this evening; it’s been ages since we’ve done that.”

“About the last time we saw any money coming through the door, son.”

The truck engine revved into life and Giovanni waved through the open window.  His father watched as the brake lights flashed once before the car drove out onto the road.

With a final spit into the dust, the old man looked once more at the sky.  With his head bowed, he heaved the coil of rope onto his shoulder and walked slowly to the still-empty barn.

She was free

His heart sank.

It happened while she was watching.  She supposed it had always been coming; in fact, she knew it had been.  It was all he’d had to give.  For months; ever since it had happened.  They’d gone through so much together; then the accident, but he’d held on.

“My heart will always be yours,” he’d said, “until the day it sinks so completely and can never rise again.  When it does, you’ll be free”.

Six months had passed since he died.

She stared at the heart at the bottom of the jar of formaldehyde.

She was free.

Hell’s kitchen

The Sous-chef was on the floor. I left the knife where I found it, in a red puddle beside his foot. Its blade pointed towards the door, as if indicating the escape direction of the guilty party. The stainless steel worktop dripped and I noticed more splatters up the wall, behind the sink. A saucepan had overturned, spilling its now-smoking contents over the hobs.

A constable came in. “We have him sir; he was outside the rear entrance, behind some dustbins,” his face registering shock as he looked around at the scene.

“Where is he now?”

“In the car, sir.”

“Keep him there.”

The constable backed out slowly as I turned around, taking in details. A handprint, red and smudged, hailed me from the fridge door. I felt something drip onto my left shoulder. I knew what it was even without looking up, but I looked anyway – curiosity is like that. Then I heard a muffled voice behind me.

“Yes!”

Knee joints clicked as the Sous-chef rose to his feet, a look of triumph on his face as his arm withdrew from under the fridge with his prized wooden spoon, a gift from Keith Floyd apparently.

“So much for Hell’s Kitchen eh, officer?”

“What happened?”

“Well, when the Maître announced Gordon Ramsay’s arrival the chef became agitated, to say the least. Then, while he was plating Mr Ramsay’s Penne al Pomodoro, I happened to mention he’d forgotten the basil and then …” He waved his spoon around the kitchen.

Bukowski: the morning after the night before

I got up. I couldn’t sleep, I just lay there sweating, tossing and flapping like a freshly-caught fish. Booze does that to you. You think it’ll knock you out; that you’ll sleep like a kitten for the night but then you awake on a sweat-wet pillow, and then it’s finished.

I lay in bed an hour or so, unable to shut my head up. The room was dark but in my head someone had flipped a switch. Transitory thoughts, each following the other down the fuddled highway of my mind, flickered on and off, on and off. What I had to do today. What I had to to this week. What? Whatever.

I got up, grabbed my book, made a coffee and made myself comfortable on the cold leather sofa, and lost myself in story.

I had a heavy chest and a cough that wouldn’t come, my airways blocked by too many cigarettes accompanying too many drinks throughout a drunken evening with drunker friends and a happy barman. My mouth was layered from beer, from wine, from gin, from the back shelf where no one sober goes.

The coffee steamed on the coffee-table (what if I drunk tea?) but I drank it, hoping to change the thick, stale, toothpaste-on-alcohol taste in my mouth. My throat burned but something moved. My chest moved. I coughed: it sounded like Tom Waits singing. That was an improvement.

Early morning coffee with Bukowski. I finished the first short story and stared at the page a while before closing the book and closing my eyes.

The Most Beautiful Woman in Town had just died.

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.

She smiled

The picture hung askew on the wall.  He tilted his head to get a better look. He couldn’t stand modern art but it pleased his wife.

‘It’s straight’, she said.

‘What?  Don’t be ridiculous Alice.’

‘You looked at it wrong when you stepped into the room; it’s the impression it gives.’

‘It’s not straight, it doesn’t matter how I step into the room.’

As he looked, the black and white pixels began to merge.

‘And you can’t see it change, I suppose?’ he said.

‘The only thing that’s changing is your view of it. Of course I can’t.’

He laughed, not meaning to.  It was the stupidity of the situation.  A hamster-wheel rolled in his stomach.  The last time he’d felt like this was on a cross-channel ferry.

Alice fiddled with a coat-button and looked at her husband.

‘You’ve gone a funny colour’.

‘I’m going to find a chair.’

He looked up and the pixels had become rows of black and white teeth; moving, masticating.  Grinding, he thought.  His chest felt tight.

‘I said I’m going to find a chair, I’ll wait for you in the corridor.’

‘Stay.’

‘What?’

‘Stay!’ It was an order.

He backed away and the room lurched as he reached for the doorhandle.

A sound like air escaping a radiator made him stop, as did the click of heels.  But there’s a carpet, his mind argued.

‘Don’t go darling,’ she purred.

He turned, and she smiled; rows and rows of black and white teeth; grinding.

Brass

Pavements,
spat on.
Statues,
shat on.

Marble and metal heavyweights,
like huge paperweights
Tributes to persons from another age:
forgotten,
except by the pigeons
and their stained reminders
as a burger wrapper takes to the air
and tumbles down the street
in a rustle
amid the bustle
of a city on the move.

In contrast to the statue:
a memory given permanence;
an old campaigner prominence.

But soon it will rain
and extricate it from the excrement
of the ignorant pigeons;
and the crapping crows.

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.

Goldfish

I move, I breathe.

Outside there are two large forms which move around, making noises.  They continue to make these noises; one very low, the other higher.  I keep moving.

Now I see another one like them, yet smaller.  He’s sitting on the big thing they all sit on sometimes, looking at the big box with light.  He’s doing something with that small furry thing that sometimes comes to see me when the others are not around.  Sometimes it makes strange noises, different from what the others make.  I don’t know what’s happened but the small furry thing has just made a strange noise and now it’s run away from the small form.  I keep moving.

Outside there are two large forms which move around, making noises.  They continue to make these noises; one very low, the other higher.  I keep moving.

There’s something outside.  It looks like that small furry thing but, it’s huge.  I keep moving.  It follows me.  I still move.  It still follows.

Outside there are two large forms coming in my direction.  They’re not making any noise.  I keep moving.

The huge furry thing is looking at me and it follows me everywhere I go.  Now what’s it doing?  Above my head there’s a splash, and a big furry foot with sharp edges reaches down.  I keep moving, near the bottom.  There’s another splash.

The two large forms are very close.  One of them is pointing at me.  Now they’re making different noises.  They look happy.  There’s another splash.

I’ve stopped moving.

 

Positively Monday

Monday dawned, lumpy, grey and wet; weather to add a few kilos to already burdened shoulders. The Saturday sun had already done another circuit of the Earth and was now on it’s second; unseen.

He felt good. As most people struggled with the idea of getting up and going to work, he felt Monday as a renewal. Its sober slap in the face a reawakening.

As the rain fell and washed the streets so did this Monday morning cleanse him. Its sodden purgatorial followed the weekend’s excess (was it really excessive?). Yes; a whole new week lay ahead and who knew what it would bring? He was back in the seat, hands on the wheel, foot on the peddle and the long, sweeping curve was coming up.

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