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April 18, 2008

copper spires

On slate roofs
Terracotta pots
Filled with melted
Autumnal skies
Begin to spill

White washed as
Wood sorrel walls
Hearths swept
And scattered
With sesame seeds
Moved in dancing feet.


fragment

He held her head, in between the shifting curtains
Her face slanting off the sun you couldn’t see the bruises
That curved around his fingertips whose
Prints were stained
Whose
Guilt, watched her hands rest on the sill, in the split wine, congealing.

Her husband made love to his imagination
The curve of his hands face down
In prickly sunlight, to her whose
Imagination was spent
Whose
Body, made love to his

Promises flaked and fled from word
Their lips brittley unopened
Under tilted roses whose
Petals were still shut
Just as
His eyes remained blind to her stare.

He clutched at her rather, tried to rub her bare of marks
Panic at the spreading spill
Chameleon in the shifting light whose
Lucidity illuminated only truth
Whose
Clarity, stung him.


March 13, 2008

book on a red bench

it was under a false acacia. the bin overflowing
i remember it. you left the book on a red bench
i think you were french but i left without knowing
definitvely.

it was just a photogrpah effluvio greve of lillies growing
of two people with a tension but no intention
it was under a false acacia. the bin overflowing

two people that wont ever have stories, owing
to the fact that there was no middle to the book on the bench
i think you were french but i left without knowing
definitively.

we’d read the last lines you see, growing
enamoured with each other, the thirst with no quench
it was under a false acacia. the bin overflowing.

i thought about leaving my life and going
with you to find our ending that was just right.. the little wench and her Mr. French
well, i think you were french but i left without knowing
definitively

but after living opening lines and finding no middle there really was no knowing
so we stopped all that nonsense, the glue of the spine afterall smelt of fish and wasn’t strong

it was under a false acacia, the bin overflowing
i remember it. you left the book on a red bench
i think you were french, but i left without knowing,
definitively.


March 07, 2008

red acacia drips of dawn

In red acacia drips of dawn
Your fingers tangled in my hair
I roll to where the sheets are warm

I watch our bodies and the shapes they form
Bodies naked, stretched out without aesthetic care
In red acacia drips of dawn

in which the plots for our arguments are drawn
Undoing themselves in morning’s lucid glare
I roll to where the sheets are warm

The wind has changed. You can’t fly kites in storms.
You couldn’t win a thumsy war or hold my stare.
We sit inside, drenched in red acacia drips of dawn.

I try to fathom if this rocking could become my norm,
I ponder you in those elated spotlights, sunlit, rare,
I roll to where the sheets are warm

and lie staring up at where the curtain’s torn
‘us’ and the curtain need repair
But not now, not in this ficticious time of yawns
in these red acacia drips of dawn.


February 18, 2008

A whole lotta poems

Okay, so I haven't posted any of my poems this term because I have been lazy.  Very lazy.  And now here they ALL are:

Week 2:

Her caucasian hair’s bleached blonde on top, and

She’s soaked the bottom in silk cold coffee.

She puts gloss on with the car mirrors like

She’s going out tonight. Combat boots and

Her shortest skirt – rocker dress rehearsal.

She plays groupie, a “love destiny” mind,

He plays bass, feels entitled to the goods —

He’s a demigod star in the mirror.

He looks down through the bright blowfish colors

She looks up, embraces her destiny.

She’s beyond the backstage doors, another

Socal Susan for the demigod.

2.

The Diamante Form was created by mestizos in Latin America sometime between 1639 and 1652. It is said to have been the favorite form of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. It is intended to take the shape of a diamond when completed, but only great proficients and ancient wise-people have been able to create a perfect diamond on the page. The poem must start out with no more than 8 letters. For the first half of the poem, each new line must be one letter longer than the previous line and one letter shorter than the following line, until exactly halfway between the beginning and the end, at which point the proceeding and succeeding lines are both one letter shorter than the middle line. Following this point, each line then becomes increasingly smaller, letter by letter, until it matches the length of the first line of the poem. The letter limit does not include punctuation, but the letter “h” cannot begin any word in the poem. Diamante poems are usually one stanza in length, although there can be any amount of stanzas so long as they each follow the overall rules of the poem.

Where

are you

going my

adorable

little gem?

O pearl ‘mong

flora, flower

divine! Whence

‘ave you arrived

and whither your

way? Tell me, flower,

or you risk quick

decay. For I will

pluck you, take

you away. Will

you still be

pretty and

new? No, you

shall be

rather

wilty.

Week 3:

Here are a few "different" versions of poem 1 from Week 2, none of which are really all that different:

1. 

Her hair’s bleached blonde on top

And she’s soaked the tips in silk cold coffee.

She tilts her head, piles gloss on over last night’s lipstick

Looks like she’s going out tonight.

Slinky black boots and a skin-tight skirt

The regular rock groupie uniform.

She’s got destiny on her mind like its got to be love

The natural outcome, no other conclusion.

He plays bass and girls and basketball,

Accepts the complimentary sacrifices,

While he checks the mirror every six seconds,

Makin sure he’s still there, still sexy.

He dedicates the next song to himself

She sings along, smiles as she’s beaten down

Doesn’t notice pain, pierced by images of him

Bright colors blind her, bind her to the truth

And she’s guided backstage,

Offered up, compliments of the region

Another sacrifice for the demigod.

2. 

Her hair’s bleached blonde

The tips, silk cold coffee.

She piles gloss on over last night’s lipstick

She’s going out tonight.

Slinky black boots, a skin-tight skirt

The regular rock groupie.

It’s got to be love

No other conclusion.

He plays bass and girls

The complimentary sacrifices.

He checks the mirror

To make sure he’s still sexy.

He dedicates the next song to himself

She sings along, smiles

Doesn’t notice pain.

Bright colors blind her, bind her

She’s guided backstage,

Compliments of the region.

Another sacrifice for the demigod.

3.

Hair’s blonde on top,

Electrified.

The bottom, silk cold coffee;

Coffee from the border.

She puts gloss on like

It was made for her.

Combat boots, a low neck line.

Just add her shortest skirt.

She’s dressed up for the kill,

A “love destiny” mindset,

Fixated with fate.

He feels entitled to the goods —

They throw themselves on his altar.

The mirror says he’s

Without a true reflection.

He looks down through

The dark haze;

She looks up, begins to fray.

Neon bracelets lift her up

And she’s crossed the river,

Another innocent

Given to the demigod.

4.

Heir’s bound, unstop’d,

Interjectified.

He bought them, and Wilkes told Cathy;

Copied from an order,

Shepherd’s blogs online —

It was maid fur.

Come by boats, alone recline.

Just had her du jour Kurt,

The rest is up to Bill.

Hello, just tiny, mines hit,

Rebated with weight.

He goes and tattles to the guilds

They thrill stem cells on a salter.

The mere cess ease

A thatch roof infection.

Elixir Dan threw

The arcades;

Sheila locks up, big ends to pray.

Yawn braces live, erupt.

Banshees crops deliver,

Another in her sin

Gin to the dumber guy.

Week 4:

Okay, and here are two Sestinas and two Word Poems, because I am wishy-washy:

Charlie made the sweetest candy

Honey drops the color of earwax

Seb would come in and check his pocket-watch

Eye the sweets laid out like polka-dots

Or a fiery array of party tea-lights

And, of course, the streaks on her apron.

Then Charlie would take off her apron

And stand by Seb to survey the candy

And think about taking out some old tea-lights

Remembering when she’d tried to light a thimble of earwax

The smoke of which left her skin with angry red polka-dots

And ruined Granddad’s pocket watch.

Granddad loved that pocket-watch

So she’d hidden it in Grandma’s lacy old apron

Which Cousin Tawny had covered in crayon polka-dots

After eating an inordinate amount of candy

And using 53 Q-tips to scrape out her earwax

Before burning up all Grandma’s favorite tea-lights.

Grandma found the burnt up tea-lights

Just as she found the broken pocket watch

And the 53 Q-tips with bits of earwax.

She kept the ratty old apron

And wore it to make candy

And died in that old thing, covered in polka-dots.

At the funeral her dress, too, had black polka-dots,

And surrounding her coffin were candelabra tea-lights.

Charlie put in a tin of homemade candy

While Granddad stood fiddling with his pocket-watch

As perplexed as when he’d seen Grandma in that ugly apron.

And Tawny talked to Uncle Mort about earwax.

I’ve eaten Charlie’s candy the color of earwax

And seen Grandma in the apron covered in polka-dots,

If you can still call it an apron.

I think of it when I light tea-lights

Or when, in a repair shop, I spy a pocket-watch

And I feel the want of a cozy kitchen and homemade candy.

I’ve tried; I’ve made candy the consistency of soggy earwax,

Timed it with a pocket-watch, laid them out like polka-dots,

But they looked like melted tea-lights and my hands stuck to my apron.

Outside my window there was a tree

The perfect picture for a postcard

With at the bottom a bed of thyme.

We used to pick and put it in the pantry

Dry it for some evening to, on the terrace,

Burn it and divine our futures in the smoky plume.

When I was sad I would see in the plume

Some handsome prince climb to my window by the tree

And waltz me out on that same terrace

And take me on a Continental Tour, sending postcards

Back to my mother to hang on the door to the pantry

Near the springs of drying thyme.

And when I was happy the thyme

Would tell, though a similar plume

Of disasters so devastating that I’d hide in the pantry

Or climb up in my window-tree

And think of those Continental postcards

And avoid for a time the terrace.

Eventually I’d be drawn back to the terrace

With my brother and a sprig of last summer’s thyme

Prodded, perhaps, by the real postcards

Sent by aunts and uncles, not seen in some plume

Drawn in tacks on Tim’s map, spread like branches of a tree

With all the postcards on the door to the pantry.

I played a lot in that pantry

More so than on the too-big terrace

Though my favorite place of all was the tree

And the yet uncut, fresh growing bed of thyme

At twilight turned prophetic, blurred to a plume

Like on the helmet in one of Aunt Barb’s postcards.

I used to sit and stare at the postcards

On the same stool I used when I hid in the pantry

Before we caught it on fire and tried to read its smoky plume

When no one was around out on the terrace.

It burned so much better than the thyme

That we also threw on branches from a tree.

The tree branches burned like a bonfire postcard

Much better than all the sprigs of thyme in the pantry

Until the fire left the terrace and the smoke became more than a plume.

Tingle.

The word Tingle. Tingle. I can’t say it without feeling the result spread across my skin. That first bit, the “tee,” the prickle of excitement, anticipation, height! The flying “teeeeeeee!” And then the “gle,” drawing it out, bringing it down, finishing it off with a soft polish. Vibrating, yes, but fading too. A tingle would still feel like a tingle if it was called a klaburt. That’s a fact. You see, anthropologists living with bushman tribes in Africa have found that of all the words they’ve read the tribesmen from the OED (as is the wont of English anthropologists), tingle is one of the few the tribes-people have understood without any need for description or of hand motions (along with blue, jingle, and arachnophobia).

        The word itself dates back to 1189, the year King Richard I ascended the throne. And it was Richard I, in fact, who revolutionized the word. Before, the sensation of prickling and light stinging across the skin was called after the French word “tintement.” However, when King Richard, after various attempts to steal the throne from his father and brothers, finally managed to attain the crown, he allegedly told a friend at the coronation after party, “What I’m feeling isn’t tintement at all… it’s a… tinglen!” That’s the legend that surrounds this word, anyway. And, of course, over time “tinglen” has wisely lost the n on the end and become the word nations, from England to Cape Agulhas, know and love as “tingle!”

Alrededor.

        Alrededor… that word, which, from the first Spanish lesson has been as fun to say as it has been elusive to memorize. Alrededor. Say it. Roll your erres in an over-the-top, almost obscene manner. Alrrrrededorrrr. How could the Spanish language novice, that neophyte of the Romancitc tongue not succumb to the siren call of that word. Alrededor. In fact, the word so calls to the souls of the students of that language that each of you stops caring about the meaning all together. As the high school teacher reads off words from the vocabulary section:

“Ábaco – abacus, abandonado – abandoned, adaptación – adaptation, alba – another word for dawn, alrededor –”

you stop. You don’t hear the rest of the vocab, much less the meaning of the word because in your mind you are saying “Alrededor… alrededor… alrededor!” each time with more and more passion and excitement. When you try to study your vocabulary for the quiz coming up you don’t even notice the meaning of alrededor because you are so caught up with the sound of it. You fail that vocab quiz, five years go by, and so it is that you are a great proficient in Spanish, but still don’t know the meaning of alrededor. You’ve looked it up many times in the past, but always you get distracted. Alrededor. You could guess around at what it meant, alrededor, but you never know for sure. The meaning escapes you. This is the power, the beauty, the danger, of Alrededor. I’d tell you what it means, but that doesn’t matter. The beauty is in the sound, and, anyway, by tomorrow you’ll have forgotten the meaning all over again, and all that you’ll have is that word. Alrededor.

Week 5:

Triolet: Barley’s boot(s)

When everything was a kind of live quiet,

I heard the thump of Barley’s boot

Which looks a little like pirate loot,

When everything was a kind of live quiet.

If I had the money I’d surely buy it,

But since its Barley’s my desire’s moot.

When everything was a kind of live quiet,

I heard the thump of Barley’s boot.

Villanelle: Erased faces

None of the victims have full faces

Even in pictures their outlines dim

Nameless as water and time erases

A litany of unsolved cases

The finding of a severed limb

None of the victims have full faces

Bodies of women found in different places

Most seem to have gone for a swim

Nameless as water and time erases

The killer has only left small traces

Body pieces that stood out to him

None of the victims have full faces

The girls’ absences leave unseen spaces

Like that relevant, unsung hymn

Nameless as water and time erases

A new victim the old replaces

With some foreign patronym

None of the victims have full faces

Nameless as water and time erases

Pantoum: Morbid Thoughts

We all walked slowly to the Mead Gallery that day

Or perhaps quickly, but not quickly enough

And when we got there, we were afraid to talk

Although eventually we began to speak among ourselves,

Or perhaps quickly, but not quickly enough

To stop my morbid thoughts and imaginings

Although eventually we began to speak among ourselves

And I found I was not the only morbid one

To stop my morbid thoughts and imaginings

I went over to a group in the corner

And I found I was not the only morbid one

Because they were discussing Chinese water torture

I went over to a group in the corner

To keep my mind off mutilated corpses

Because they were discussing Chinese water torture

I didn’t find much help there

I wanted to keep my mind off mutilated corpses

But when we got there, we were afraid to talk

I didn’t find much help there, since

We all walked slowly to the Mead Gallery that day

Week 7:

Okay, and here are my translation poem, my word poem, and my name poem, in that order:

If you’re tired of following fog tracks,

Tired of catching sins like common colds,

Tired of spinning yourself a cocoon of ominous verdicts,

Then come to our moon commune.

There are no secrets here on the moon

Where six suns shine down continually

Like six omens that bleach sins clean,

Or at least bleach them invisible.

The spaghetti tastes like hand rags,

So don’t come for the food, served in a room

Hung with Tusken Raider skulls.

But don’t worry, don’t worry; they’re long dead.

Here you’ll find yourself tied to the tracks,

Like that popular scene from Old West cartoons.

You won’t escape, but don’t worry, don’t worry.

You’ll be reborn.

Yes, the train will run you over,

Make a mess of you, you can’t escape.

But then maybe you’ll find

That it didn’t matter anyway.

So bring your sins, your cocoon, your elusive searches

and your SPF 500 (it won’t help, but habits…)

to our friendly commune on the moon

Where the six suns burn up all the fog.

You’ll probably find there wasn’t anything there to begin with.

"Hang Out"

Picture this: you are a girl. You might have to dig deep for this, but trust me, it is there. Got it now? Okay, you are a girl and you’ve spent the last four years positively sequestered at an all-girls school. There were a couple of male teachers with bushy beards and ‘Nam stories, but you have been more or less completely surrounded by girls day and night, night and day. You’ve graduated (not top of your class, but not too bad) and moved to a university, far enough from family that you have the blessing and curse of not being able to go home on the weekends. At this university there are dorms and study rooms and, so they say, boys. In fact, there you happen to meet one of these hither-to elusive specimens. He introduces himself as “Exhibit A.” Exhibit A is “nice” and “friendly” and after a suitable amount of chat about the “nice” weather he mentions that he has a car and offers to take you (yes, YOU!) to the mall to “hang out” sometime. Ah, now there it is. That fakest of fake phrases, that Beelzebub among the other, more straightforward invitations. Remember now, you’ve just come from four years of fun “hang out” time with all your friends back at the all-girls school. All your all-girl friends. Warning lights are not worsening the migraine that is not forming at the front of your mind from the thought you aren’t having. Your own private set of police sirens, for better or for worse (read: worse) are switched off. No, no, instead you are thinking “Oh, wow! My first guy friend. That wasn’t as hard as I was expecting.” You enthusiastically agree (it’s the all-girl’s school way, after all), and the following Friday you go. Now, let’s just fast-forward here, because the things he said, the things you said, the awkward silences, the things he shouted and the tears you cried aren’t important. In fact, at this point, if you happen to be finding the whole you-as-a-girl thing distracting, you can stop imagining that you are anything-but-you. If you find you kind of like it, go right on ahead. Right now you need to focus, though, on that prince of deceivers, that dirty little phrase which just caused so much imaginary damage.

Hang out.

What a disgusting word! It is triply disgusting because for the first part of your life, your childhood, it meant something innocent and fun, and when it changed, when it went from “let’s all hang out and play football and have happy platonic fun” to “let’s hang out, just you and me, and I will make suggestions to you that may or may not catch your interest,” no one told you. It’s like Anakin Skywalker joining the dark side without first sending an inter-office memo to people like Padme and Obi-Won saying “Sorry guys, I’ve decided to pursue other career opportunities.” No, they had to figure it out on their own. When did “hang out” make that “dark side switch?” I guess that’s what I want to leave you with. That image of “hang out” personified and wearing a chunky black breathing apparatus. I mean, I don’t have the answers. I’m as baffled as Obi-Won, reviewing all my teaching lessons trying to figure out how I could have skipped the “Don’t Kill Younglings” lecture or the “The Dark Side Doesn’t Have Casual Dress Fridays” lesson.

Canto I

Megan.

That’s my name.

Kind of simple.

Okay, really simple, actually.

None of that extra a-h “nonsense” (I say nonsense ‘cause I’ve got a friend named Meaghan whose gonna flip her lid when she reads that). Actually, I think of the whole Megan Meghan Meaghan thing as a kind of friendly rivalry amongst a group of clearly superior girls.

A very LARGE group of clearly superior girls.

And then we have to go and add “Harrison.”

Do you know how many Megan Harrisons there are out there???

Okay, I don’t either, but there are at least three in California (at least)!

Yeah, real original.

And then there’s Jane.

Plain Jane. As in “John and Jane.” “Jane Doe.” “What a pain, Jane.”

So that’s me. Average name.

Everything else is pretty average too.

Average like beans.

Canto II

When I was little — I don’t mean just one year, or something, but all the little years — I used to dream I had a pretty, English name.

I watched Errol Flynn movies obsessively, so I knew names like

Mary

and Elizabeth

were the British names to have.

I couldn’t have them.

My name was (and still is, actually) Megan.

Like beans, remember?

And you can’t change beans.

If you did, to something like Hicklebingerportencedes, they’d still taste, smell, and congeal the same, they just wouldn’t be able to fit the name on the can as well. They’d have to use .5 font size.

And substitute teachers will always mispronounce Hicklebingerportencedes.

Anyway, I couldn’t ever be Mary or Elizabeth, so I invited them over to afternoon tea. They were just names, so they didn’t have faces or anything, but they could faint just like the women in the movies.

Canto III

I used to spend a lot of my after-school afternoons imagining.

I imagined I was a Governor’s daughter, like Olivia d’Haviland.

I imagined I was the Scarlet Pimpernell’s neglected wife.

I imagined I’d married Blue Beard by mistake.

I imagined I’d been transported back in time, and met stunningly handsome Indian guy who would help me escape ritual sacrifice.

Okay, so pretty much everything I imagined was stuff I’d read in books or seen in movies.

But just like Anne and her hair, I couldn’t imagine my name away. For my French roles I managed to squeeze into Marguerite, but everyone still called me Meg.

And I’m pretty sure Blue Beard never married anyone named Megan.

Canto IV

I went to a far-away summer camp once

Where they gave out sour gummy worms at the entrance

And I didn’t know anyone.

Someone had put Mom up to this idea. This “hyphenated name” idea.

She signed me up as Megan-Jane.

She introduced me as Megan-Jane.

I didn’t mind. There are Mary-Janes, but not as many Megan-Janes.

I met my cabin leader: her name was Squeegee.

“Hi! You must be Megan-Jane. That’s a bit of a mouthful. Mind if I just call you Megan?”

“Everyone does.”

Mom wasn’t even five minutes down the road.

I didn’t tell her, though. She was so excited about that hyphen idea, you know.

Canto V

In high school nicknames were all the rage.

We gave them to all our friends.

No one gave me one.

I gave myself a few, over a period of time, you understand, not all at once… but they didn’t stick.

I was always Megan.

“Hey Panda! Hey Pip! Hey Zebra! Hey Char!

Hey Megan!”

Beans.

Canto VI

Usually I can’t escape my name.

Open the door — Megan.

Wash my hands — Megan.

Travel to exotic countries full of strange spices and ancient traditions — still Megan.

There is one way, though.

Its called Deadline.

“That 10 page research paper due in two days, with no research done and a questionable thesis? No, I don’t think I’ll start that till tomorrow.”

Oh yes! As I feverishly read about the way to make crepes more crunchy (add more eggs) and wonder if I can make it last an entire paragraph I slowly lose all forms of identification.

I am an intrepid adventurer searching for clues —.

I am a prison inmate trapped forever in a small, sunless cell —.

I am a sleep-deprived, slightly crazed student adding dubious secondary sources to back an already flimsy argument — no time for a name!

Not until I hand in my paper and stumble into the light do I start to feel human again.

Canto VII

Bronze. Sterling silver. Wood. Grass. Dogs. Underwear. Brown. Sticks. Tissues. Trashcans. Cardboard. Pavement. Curtains. Mud. Rope. Chairs. Bacon. Buses. Windows. Samuel L. Jackson. Frozen pizza. Apples. Rotting bananas. Hairballs. Black umbrellas.

Beans.

Ha!  That is really long, and I certainly hope no one read all the way down to here.  Or do I?


February 12, 2008

Translation

This is a translation of another poem. It's had about 6 stages of random additions and subtractions. I just kinda liked it. 

Red roll from flaring England

Bam! His still black carcinogen

Drink and pass peaceful puce blame.

My magenta sound needs refurbishment. Thud.

I indignant, punch, call out cyan.

Magnolia is to curdle. Drip done.

I feel apathetic grey slip.

Marinade, zoom away beyond gold.

Flustered route to white gun.

Reassures that green tap heart.


Thoughts (Sestina)

Thoughts

Thoughts, emanated from cerebral case
Tumble onto the floor.
Some by happy chance fall into our arms.
Your eyes aren’t a window they’re a door.
They offer fruit outward to me like a laden branch,
But I can’t take it on board.

Let’s write caught thought up on a white-board!
Let’s share the experience just in case
The fruit goes rotten whilst left on the branch.
The next fall leaves all inspiration on the floor.
Fading steps are muffled by the slammed-shut door.
I let another thought grow cradled in my arms.

We spend our life in a race for emotional arms,
When the fire-power is accrued prepare to board.
I barricade the door.
“You won’t get in here, in any case!
It happened before, knocked me to the floor.”
But I soon wave the bone-hued flag hung from a branch.

Subdued and compliant I lay down my branch.
I let myself be levitated by culture’s arms.
People get carried away all the time, but do all hit the floor?
“I can’t see your mind through your eyes anymore, just the board
That you put up.” I say, “It’s in case
Someone sharp wants to enter the door.”

My mouth has become an out-swinging door.
From cynicism’s tree has grown a branch,
And its fruit is all that is all that leaves this head-case.
I won’t let any fall into your arms.
It’s too precious to waste. No, my meeting of the board
Has one voice taking the floor.

Really, I want something to make my chin press the floor
Down. I want to fling… no unhinge the door
In order for me to take another on board
Wholeheartedly. Someone with a different fruit on their branch,
A sweet fruit that I can barely reach round with my arms,
The produce of a love that absolves my case.

The thoughts are a point in case, saved from the floor.
Placed on paper from my arms, offered through an unhinged door,
On a branch that was not too heavy for Him to take on board.


Put Me Off

Put Me Off

Tears distort perceptions

Misting over views.

Tears corrupt reflections

That are looking back at me.

Sighs are merely breathing

In order to get attention

For pain that has been held

Purposefully.

These signifiers mystify

And prolong what often is a simple matter

SHUT UP! SHUT UP! THINK!

Then please speak your mind.

You’re putting me off my pint.

And that is very unkind.


February 09, 2008

Triolet

I don't like art, except in tiny doses;

It's like a medication for the soul,

But I can't help suspect misdiagnoses.

I don't like art, except in tiny doses,

And can't accept this visual halitosis

Is making me more culturally whole.

I don't like art, except in tiny doses;

It's like a medication for the soul. 


February 06, 2008

pamtoum drip drop tick

pamtoum from gallery…

Black drip drops
Clocks tick tock
Gallery floors tack
Man’s watch ticks

Clocks tick tock
Crowds don’t flock
Man’s watch ticks
School students mock

Crowds don’t flock
Man’s shoes tap
School students mock
Sellotape flaps

Man’s shoes tap
Old woman tutts
Sellotape flaps
Start to speak but…

Old woman tutts
Gallery floors tack
Start to speak but…
Black drip drops.


sky dress.

from a third draft of the poem with the pronouns and words from spam mail i slotted the lines into the form of a pantoum to see what happened if the lines wern’t reacting to each other they were already chosen…. and this is what happened…bits work bits dont:

There is elation in this tarmac in my tiptoes
You, under the rain, back-track.
Wet clothes, new lows, in highs, cries of joy
Fling wet arms high around wet necks, skin, cling, together.

You, under the rain, back-track.
The sky dress droops around, down into ceilings,
Fling wet arms high around wet necks, skin, cling, together.
Drips into coffee hinted smiles of lovers across table-tops.

The sky dress droops around, down into ceilings,
Falling candles flick, fire licks, and steeps your sky dress vertical puddles in dripping tongues.
Drips into coffee hinted smiles of lovers across table-tops.
I reach up.

Falling candles flick, fire licks, and steeps your sky dress vertical puddles in dripping tongues.
You writhe against the wave winds frothing around your face
I reach up
Kiss.

You writhe against the wave winds frothing around your face
Wet clothes, new lows, in highs, cries of joy.
Kiss.
There is elation in this tarmac in my tiptoes.


puddles in time.

Do not let those solid drips stop time
Look up through cobwebs to gold bulb of light
Down, down, through splintered sellotape and grime

Flimsy tetanus tables past their prime
Bend until you see through reflection’s sight
Do not let those solid drips stop time

In mirror fragments, red iron mime
Of life, refractions scatter prism bright
Down, down, through splintered sellotape and grime.

Blue cotton reels suspended try to climb
Go, go, race on with all your balanced might
Do not let those solid drips stop time

But quiver in the water’s ragged rhyme
Rest in rusting ripples of mirrored light
Down, down, through splintered sellotape and grime.

Your tattered face taped down, outside of time
To shards of floor that struggle into flight
Do not let those solid drips stop time,
Down, down, through splintered sellotape and grime.


January 30, 2008

Spam–based poem

A poem featuring words generated randomly from spam - one spam word per line - and some phrases from the free writing we did in class. Feel free to play Spot The Spam if you wish. 


With Caucasian commitment I stand

At the Budapest fish bridge, dress in hand;

Toes gruff on gravel, settling beyond land.


Recall the buffed demigod of my youth,

Think of glinting, shallow dress rehearsals:

Green blades degumming sweet-cut sun-baked teeth,

Convulsive sheets promoting dispersal,

Watching cradle sisters loop, scratch and spell

An ashen story, combated with gall.

Soon minted escape was centennial.

Pyroclastic tufts arranged in sheaves

Refurbishment wrung me like a wreath.


Mixed bus-passes boost my diabetic advance,

In the boot memory’s carcass curdles,

Mossy beams traverse the way; as we planned

I’ll upturn the couch in Ireland.


Inventing a new poetic form

Inventing a new poetic form eh? Piss easy! All in a day's work!

We're onto the poetry section of the course now. Works different muscles, but the pain's the same. I think I'm by nature more of a poetry person than a prose person - in that I have a fondness for ridiculous adjectives and not making sense.

Without further blurb, I present this! A poem, interrogating a flower, in the Grid form.

I

pop

each

cupped

carpel

under

my

nose

have

you

steel

enough

to

fire

truth,

aside

seen

a

thing

slipping

the

heat

naked

guilt

succulent

pill

will

muck

air

up

and

you

vows

kept

spark

my

dredging

purging

skint

mind

mask

within

bearing

child

seed

now

grow

numb

your

brazen

heavy

root

and

crisp

tough

tongue

forge

buds

fruit

raw

self

cries

husk

eater

The rules are these: the poem must read down the columns as well as along the rows, and it must have eight words and ten syllables per line. The interrogator words are presented horizontally, and the flower's reply is vertical.

I suppose I was thinking about hardball corrupt-cop films. Endless cyclic conversations in the interrogation room, where you won't get anywhere until you say what they want you to say. I like the idea of the answer lying in the question. Good concept, but the execution needs some work...

Problems: You can't punctuate it - there's no way of delineating the punctuation of the vertically-read poem from the horizontally-read. This is a major disadvantage because without punctuation some parts look like a random string of words. When I read it out in class it sounded pretty abstract. Towards the end (the bottom right hand quarter) it gets desperate. I had these tricky syllable quotas to fill in both directions and in the end I had to compromise sense for form, and it shows. I am currently trying to rewrite it without the syllable restriction. Without it it will lose some of the tightness and attack, but it will become vastly more sensible and accessible. The trick is to make form seem like it isn't there.  At the moment it reads laboured.

Here it is written out more conventionally, with punctuation, just to give a sense of how it sounds in my head.

The interrogation. 

I pop each cupped carpel under my nose.

Have you steel enough to fire truth aside?

Seen a thing slipping the heat? Naked guilt.

Succulent pill will muck air up, and you.

Vows kept spark my dredging, purging, skint mind.

Mask within, bearing child seed, now grow numb.

Your brazen heavy root and crisp tough tongue

Forge buds, fruit. Raw self cries, ‘husk eater!’.

The response. 

I have seen succulent vows mask your forge.

Pop you a pill, kept within brazen buds.

Each steel thing will spark, bearing heavy fruit.

Cupped enough slipping muck, my child? Root-raw

Carpel, to the air, dredging seed and self.

Under fire heat up, purging now crisp cries.

My truth, naked and skint, grow tough husk,

Nose aside guilt, you mind-numb tongue-eater.


December 14, 2007

Death and the Maiden

When your girlfriend’s grandfather dies, and all you can think about when you’re stroking her hair as she’s sitting crying in your lap is how much longer you have to stay there to stop people think you’re an uncaring bastard, it’s a good idea to get out of that relationship as quickly as possible.
Probably not right at that moment, though.

December 01, 2007

A New Thing a Day

Writing about web page http://newthingaday.co.uk

In recent weeks, I've come to two conclusions- firstly, my life is boring, and secondly, I'm not doing any where near enough writing.

So, what to do? In an effort to make my life more interesting, I've decided that for the whole of 2008, I'm going to be trying one new thing a day. In an effort to force myself to do more writing, I've shelled out for a website in which I'll be recording my year of what I'm sure is going to turn out to be nothing but humiliation and awkwardness in the face of new and exciting experiences. The solution to both of my problems can be found at (or, once I find someone with enough webmonkey knowledge to help me sort out what I need, will be able to be found at) www.newthingaday.co.uk.

Unfortunately, coming up with a list of 366 anythings is quite difficult, let alone a list of 366 anythings that might be worth doing, non-fatal, and (ideally) relatively entertaining to read or write about. I got to about fourteen, and then found myself completely and utterly stumped.

Basically, then, what I'm asking for is help in coming up with ideas for things to try. They don't have to be big- truth be told, I'd prefer they were small, simple things that aren't expensive and don't take too long, and hence won't interfere too badly with this 'real life' thing that I've been enrolled in- but I'll take anything, no matter how stupid it seems.

Suggestions in the comments, if you'd be so kind, and wish me luck.

November 29, 2007

On Writing

You don’t really do it for money, or you’re a monkey. You don’t think of the bottom line, or you’re a monkey. You don’t think of it in terms of hourly wage, yearly wage, even lifetime wage, or you’re a monkey. In the end, you don’t even do it for love, although it would be nice to think so. You do it because not to do it is suicide.
Stephen King, Introduction to Skeleton Crew.
What more do you need, really?


November 28, 2007

Writers on writing

The analogy was that of the catalyst. When the two gases previously mentioned [oxygen and sulphur dioxide] are mixed in the presence of a filament of platinum, they form sulphurous acid. This combination takes place only if the platinum is present; nevertheless the newly formed acid contains no trace of platinum, and the platinum itself is apparently unaffected: it has remained inert, neutral and unchanged. The mind of the poet is like that shred of platinum. It may partly or exclusively operate upon the experience of the man himself; but, the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates; the more perfectly will the mind digest and transmute the passions which are its material.

- T.S. Eliot, from ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’


You write from a wound… There’s a place in you that won’t heal.

- Jeannette Winterson, in a book club discussion of her novel ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’. Guardian Review 10/11/07


Well, there are a couple of quotes that got me thinkin'. Yeah, I know we were supposed to find like four or whatever, but I didn't come across any others I approved of. Plus, these two go together, after a fashion.

If it were up to me, I'd choose to be a shard of platinum. Nobody wants to be walking around with great fat wounds smacked everywhere!

Being, as I am, human, however; and far from attaining 'perfect artist' status... I find the latter quote provides a more accessible idea of how one can begin to write. If unpleasant. Perhaps Eliot's ideal is something to aspire to. It's a daunting prospect. I'm not sure it's entirely possible.


Zombie boyfriend

What would you do if you woke up one day to realise your significant other had been zombiefied?


I should have known I wouldn’t have been able to get away with it.

‘Charlie, that’s the fifth fag you’ve had in as many minutes! What’s the matter?’ Laura demanded. I glanced up, and saw that she had turned her face to mine to get a better view. Her eyes looked greener and harder in daylight. Bitch.

‘So?’ Jutting over, lighter sparking in one hand, fiddly roll of tobacco in the other, I freed myself of the bother of maintaining that light tone I had been straining to impose on my voice since I stepped into the office six hours ago.

‘What’s going on?’

I couldn’t get the gas to light. I was probably being far too vigorous with the wheel mechanism. But the heartbeat rasp of skin on metal, the dim warm sensation in my hands, these things brought me comfort. My hair flopped forward. I should get it cut. Maybe then… All I could see was the pink of my palms, the steady stabbing movement of my thumb joint…

‘Stop it!’

My left wrist buckled, falling under the weight of what I now saw to be Laura’s copper-clawed hand. She had batted my arm away. Everything I had been holding tumbled to the floor – pack, lighter, cigarettes.

‘Charlie – ’

‘Alan’s been acting strangely,’ I blurted, ducking down to retrieve, scrabbling dirt into my nails in haste. I felt my eyeballs twinge. I blinked twice, and then again.

Laura shifted her weight to her other leg, produced a lit fag from somewhere about her person and thrust it in my hand as soon as I saw fit to rise. I let the hot smoke crinkle the inside of my mouth.

‘Trouble in paradise?’ She nodded at me, peaks of yellow hair glistening in the afternoon dusk.

I had been silent for too long. I had lost all powers of discernment. I told her everything…

----

I admit it; I’m no expert when it comes to the opposite sex. Alan’s the only serious boyfriend I’ve ever had, I’ve no brothers or anything... Who am I to say what’s normal and what’s not? But I know him. For Christ’s sake we’ve been living together a year! We’ve been friends since sixth form! I know what he’s like. And these past two months – he’s been a changed man.

It started with the accident at work. You just don’t expect it to happen to you, do you? He came home, brown suit rumpled by the stress of it, bandaged round the middle. I leapt from the sofa, guilty for not having known, not having done something. Will and Grace yammered on at my back like a call to prayer. It’s nothing, he said. Bed rest, he said. Don’t worry. As we struggled up the stairs I suggested tomato soup. He insisted on chicken.

Bathing his wound – a strange, round hole with crenellated edges, mottled grey and pink – I reflect. He’s always been a bit quiet, but not silent, not like this. His chest hardly quivers. The books at his side have not been thought of, last Tuesday’s Kakuro suspended, incomplete. Should I check for a pulse? No, don’t be ridiculous.

I wonder – is it me? I lift the mirror off its hook on the wall and lean it against the laundry bin, angled upward so I can see most of myself in it. Is he… is he regretting me, regretting us? I smooth my new jeans over my thighs. I too have changed. My mouth never used to lie drooping like that. When did I start chewing my nails? I should get a makeover. The magazine guides me. I savour the glossy nap of each page. Later, I go shopping.

I am feeding him. Beefsteak and chips, soul food. Each piece is pre-cut. His hunger makes him obedient. He snaps each piece off the fork and chews it with a diligence few children possess. Nothing falls. I no longer remember to bring napkins up in case. For some reason I pause, not bringing the fork back to the plate as quickly as I usually do, dangling my wrist at eye level. His jaws widen, and he snaps again, and again. I gasp and clatter the metal down. His face flushes with something like pain, something like disgust. It is too fleeting to tell.

----

Shooting off some dull excuse, I left work early that day, the memory of Laura’s parting words shuttling though my head like rocket-powered pinballs. Well, she’s a dried-up old hag anyway, couldn’t get a man for love nor money, twice-divorced spinster cow... Emerging from the car, I noticed the peculiar smudged look of the sky, as if a thousand hands had tried to strike the colour from it. A stupid thought entered my mind. I recall its stupidity well. ‘I should wash my hair tonight, it looks like rain… the water had better be on...’

I found the corpse under the blanket, Alan cradling it to his chest. A snake of crimson wreathed his lips.


November 26, 2007

week 8–9

Well, we had to find quotes by authors on the writing process this week for ICW so here they are. 

The first principle is that a poet writes his personal life in his work out of its tragedy, whatever it may be, remorse, lost love, or mere loneliness

- W.B. Yeats

I’d been having a bad week. The script I was meant to be writing just wasn’t happening, and I’d spend days staring at a blank screen, occasionally writing a word like the and staring at it for and hour or so and then slowly, letter by letter, I’d delete it and write and or but instead. Then I’d exit without saving. Ed Kramer phoned and reminded me that I owed him a story for an anothology of stories about the Holy Grail which he was editing with the ubiquitous Marty Greenberg. And seeing nothing else was happening and that this story was living in the back of my mind I said sure.

   I wrote it in a weekend, a gift form the gods, easy and sweet as anything. Suddenly I was a writer transformed: I laughed in the face of danger and spat on the shoes of writer’s block. Then I sat and stared glumly at a blank screen for another week because the gods have a sense of humour.

- Neil Gaiman

On sitting down to write: It's like standing on the edge of a cliff. This is especially true of the first draft. Every day you're making up the earth you're going to stand on.

- Peter Carey

The act of writing appeases one’s memories and eases the act of forgetting. When I write, I make my memories tangible, and in this way I can get rid of them. On the other hand, writing is but a ploy to convulse memory back into life. And the more I write, the more my memories return to inhabit me.

- Jorge Semprùn


November 22, 2007

99 i remembers not 100

I remember you

I remember running after you. It was December and I didn’t take a coat.

I remember the first time you made me bleed.

I REMEMBER WHEN MY BLOOD WAS BLACK AND I COULD NO LONGER SEE YOUR FACE

I REMEMBER WHEN YOU TOOK HOLD OF ME AND I COULD NO LONGER FEEL THE PAIN.

I remember forgetting

I remember not remembering. Frantically.

I remember the ceiling, and the walls, covered in dots

I remember counting those dots: for hours

I remember being numb

I remember being scared

I remember losing my memories, and regaining them, one by one.

I remember each second following the next

I remember losing count, dozing, starting again.

I remember becoming unattached

I REMEMBER WAKING UP

I remember falling

I REMEMBER WHEN ALL THE BLOOD CAME OUT OF ME

I remember when all that blood was on the floor

I remember my reflection

I REMEMBER WHEN MY TEARS WERE RED. They clogged my eyes.

I remember when I had no face

I remember breaking

I REMEMBER LYING ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR AND SCREAMING, AND HOW IT MADE YOU CRY, maybe made you break.

I remember agony in your eyes

I remember counting

I remember shame

I remember the humiliation. I couldn’t make them understand. I couldn’t make them stop

I remember the blue above her face and all the words I couldn’t comprehend

I REMEMBER THE CITY LIGHTS

I remember moment by moment

I remember the city lights

I REMEMBER WHEN YOU READ TO ME AND FELL ASLEEP WHILST I LAY AWAKE.

I remember crouching on the airport floor

I remember your hands

I remember you pulling me closer when I’d rolled away in the night

I remember the sky seeping into the room

I REMEMBER RED GERANIUMS

I remember not wanting to look

I remember the way you tried not to laugh when I tickled you

I remember how I made you stay up with me, how we didn’t sleep, how you held me and didn’t ask, HOW YOU KISSED MY EYES AND WAITED.

I remember choking

I remember shaking behind the door, how I couldn’t breath AND I COULDN’T TELL YOU

I remember when everybody wore my face

I remember when everyone lost their face

I remember when you made me calm

I remember those cuts I left in your back

I remember when you tore my skin

I REMEMBER MY BODY BRUISED

I remember cigarettes in wineglasses

I remember the way that from the train window it looked as though the street lamps were running into the pavements

I remember the sea at night and how I CLUNG TO YOU

I remember with what tenderness I trusted you

I remember waking up covered in sheets of writing

I remember when I read what I had written and was scared

I remember burning my fingers when I burnt them

I remember the froth on her lips

I remember when I tried not to think, when I tried not to be, and when I failed in both.

I remember when I tried to understand

I remember despairing

I remember the nothingness, the blankness

I remember the isolation

I REMEMBER OVER AND OVER AGAIN

I remember when there were no words just depthless pain

I remember hiding under your body

I remember BEING HAPPY

I remember bubbles.

I remember your tummy

I remember the way you used to try and put your fingers in my mouth when I yawned

I remember how your whole face crumpled up into one grin

I remember the way we pushed each other too hard

I remember your consuming ambition

I remember all those mirrors

I remember suffocating

I REMEMBER THE WEIGHT HOLDING ME DOWN AS I CHOKED ON MY BLOOD

I REMEMBER HOW THERE WAS NOONE THERE

I REMEMBER HOW WE STARTED PAINTING A LITTLE BOAT WHEN I WAS FIVE: it’s still unfinished.

I remember how I used to know you, and the you I used to know has killed a girl.

I remember when you came to me and told me what he’s done to you

I remember when you wrote me poems

I remember when you cried against the WINDOW LEDGE, for your life.

I remember when you cried because you couldn’t stop him dying

I remember when you tried to tell me without crying

I remember all the times I tried not to cry, and then those times I COULDN’T FIND THE TEARS

I remember when they opened you in the corridor, with people drinking cups of tea

I remember being exhausted and laughing and crying mixed together and the confusion hurt

I REMEMBER WHEN I SAT AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS AND HUGGED MY FEET AND BEGGED THE MEMORIES NOT TO COME

I remember all the nights I tried to find excuses not to go to bed

I remember all the excuses I used to find not to go to bed alone

I remember all the nights that finished with me sleeping and all the morning yawns

I remember the horror of my sleep

I remember when I’d call just to tell you about my toes, just to push away my thoughts.

I REMEMBER WHEN YOU SAID ‘MISS YOUAND ADDED ‘AS USUALAND WHEN I SAID ‘AS USUAL I DON’T BELIEVE YOUYOU SAID ‘AS USUAL I DON’T THINK YOU SHOULD’.

I remember red nail varnish. I can’t believe you might have killed her.

I remember when I stayed up typing ‘I remembers’ and couldn’t go to sleep.

I REMEMBER WHEN YOU SAID I WAS AN ANGEL.

I remember when you lay on the tiled bathroom floor.


November 21, 2007

In the beginning

           When I was in kindergarten I had already started down the road of laziness and shirked duty that would later prove so fatal when it came to writing papers. However, being so young and unaccustomed to the trickery necessary to obtain my desired freedom from all work, I was unable to figure out a fool-proof way to get out scot-free. Then, once the means fell into my hands, shown to me accidentally by a guileless peer, I lacked the foresight to use them properly, and what could have been my salvation from scholastic drudgery became a curse that would haunt me for all of my lower educational years.

           This guileless peer, named Adam, because I cannot remember his real name (for who cares to remember the innocent?), and cannot think of a more fitting name, since all I know of him is that he was, in fact, a boy, showed me the means, as I say, by accident. On a Monday a couple months after my involuntary interment at Franklin Elementary, and after the new school clothes that had bought my silence had long since become plain and worn, everyday clothes, Adam developed a stomach ache. Our lovely teacher, who was young and silly and really did think she cared for us, as most young, silly kindergarten teachers are wont to fool themselves, sent Adam to the office. I noted his departure, and, keeping a watch on the clock (because I had already learned at what time we would be set free, and often checked it against the actual time, in vain hopes of freedom), noted also that he never returned. Intrigued, I questioned my teacher.

           “Where did Adam go?” I asked.

           “To the office, because he had a stomach ache.”

           “But how come he isn’t back?” I continued, digging further into the issue at hand.

           “His mother came and picked him up, since he was sick,” said my clueless young teacher.

           I was not expecting this answer, and partly because of my surprise, and partly because even then I possessed a small bit of wisdom, I waited and did not complain of a stomach ache until midmorning the next day. I was sent to the office, as expected, and taken home, as expected. That was Tuesday. At the same time on Wednesday, I once again complained of a stomach ache, and on Thursday, and on Friday as well. Sadly, my mother was not quite so young and inexperienced as my kindergarten teacher, because when the office called her on Friday morning she told them to send me straight back to my class, as I was only pretending. At which point I was forced to return to kindergarten and listen to boring stories and play boring games until my mother came and picked me up.

           I would like to be able to say that despite being rather wise and experienced, my mother was also the forgive-and-forget type. Sadly, that is not, and was never, the case. From that day on, my mother looked upon my every sickness with suspicion, and it became harder and harder for me to fool her into letting me stay home. In fact, more often than not I had to display multiple symptoms of an illness before a reprieve from scholastic endeavors was permitted. I cannot count how often the following scenario unfolded:

           “Mom, I feel sick and I have a fever and a cough,” I would complain, and then obligingly cough, to make good on my claims.

           “Well, then,” my mother would say, “I’d better call the doctor right away.”

           “Oh… oh, don’t do that. I just wanted you to know. I still want to go to school today.”

           “If you insist,” my mother would say, nodding sagely.

           I knew she was never fooled for a minute, but I also knew that if I did go to the doctor’s, he would declare nothing was wrong with me and my mother would drop me off at school before I could say “must’ve been allergies.” And Mom would be mad, too, because I’d have interrupted her plans for the day. So, all-in-all, it was better to keep up appearances than to openly admit I’d been outmaneuvered. Furthermore, it made her think twice those times when I actually submitted myself to a trip to the doctor’s. Sometimes she’d even let me stay at home after the doctor’d told her I was perfectly healthy, just because I’d thought myself sick enough to visit the doctors.

           Of course, as I said, this became my curse. There were times when I truly felt horrible, and my mother would have none of it. Times when, with a verified fever of 99.9° F, she’d drop me off in front of the school with the parting words “tough luck.” Yes, my lack of cunning and foresight, in the form of blatant misuse of the system, in kindergarten ruined forever my chances at proper ditching. I was plagued from them onward with sick days spent at school, and, on the occasional day I either actually fooled my mother, or when she was just too tired of it and gave up the fight, with an annoying, nagging sense of guilt. There are many things if my life I’d change, if I had the chance, but this one sits foremost on the list; if I could say any one thing to my past self, at any time, I would choose the day Adam got sick, and I would tell myself “A little bit of cunning, mixed with subtlety and forbearance, goes a long way.”


November 10, 2007

Professor Marchant's dream

I decide I have been in this position for some time: motionless, upright, one arm flung at ninety degrees against the panel of an open door. There are people streaming past. None say thank-you.

I find myself burdening their collective multitudes with the most poisonous of glares. The muscles round my eyes tighten and my neck juts. Rolls of skin compress under my chin. I must be really cheesed off. I am not a tall man, but I have a sense of looking down from a great height, the subjects of my gaze far, far removed. My head feels large and airy and vacant. I expect it is trying to escape.

I cannot maintain this. My eyes relax, sliding inevitably away like pancetta off a greased pan. The impression I get of the people is curiously watery, and I begin to fear that what I see, this haze-tinged pastel dribbling of human souls, is not an accurate representation of what is in fact going on. Somehow true sight is barred.  

I pitch my chest forward, substantial with accumulated layers of fine dining and biccies before bedtime, marking my intent to move. My free arm butts the body of the crowd and bounces aside. I watch with the detached interest of a man reading the newspaper of a country in which he does not live, where the satirical cartoon prefacing ‘Comment’ is in black and white and makes no sense.

Filaments of pain begin to creep up from my elbow. I am still pinning the door open, spread-eagled, an anatomist’s carcass. What if one of them was suddenly to lunge at my throat?

I advance another inch, this time holding my arm across my belly. But a wave crest of forward momentum catches me unawares, and within seconds I have become part of the crowd. The insides of my nostrils prickle at the familiar tang of sweat. We acquire planes, our flesh pressed insistently against others. This feels like a warm bath, a long hug, caramel on the tongue. I do not mind that I am drowning.

We surge through the door, where a room replete with faux-wood panelling materialises. Music thunders from aloft. Machines flare alluringly. I recognise this place! It’s the campus pub. Students loll everywhere, part of the furniture. Amidst the dandruff of youthful conversation I feel like an impostor. Cheerily, the pub confides that it too is a master of deception, except in those few golden hours – after it has been vacated by staff and patrons, but before the cleaners come. Then it is finally free to be itself. It spent five hours with a discarded Dover Thrift Hamlet yesterday; doing all the voices, being scandalised by shoddy editing, giggling when Ophelia goes mad. I ask whether it plans to write a letter to the editor, but I soon wish I hadn’t: rounding the corner to order, literary witticisms cloy the air.

I am buying a round for my second year Modernity and Globalisation group. A soft-edged list in my hand tells me they drink Guinness and soda gins. The latter reminds me of my ex-wife, and when I pivot my neck to the table it does not surprise me that a nineteen-year-old version of her is ranged among the rest, teasing Jeremy to pinkness about his broken glasses.

I talk to a girl behind the bar. I say something like, ‘do you find my choice of tie alarming?’ but she smiles and dispenses drinks without comment. Maybe I am not wearing one today. Fingers jammed at a greasy shirt collar confirm. Watching her deft movements in the cavern of bottles and pumps, hair coiled in a basket at her nape, I know whatever I attempt she will not alter her course.

It is unwise to buy wine here, yet I find myself gazing into the oily bottom of a glass of white. Something whiter flashes into the bottom. It is a tooth. Perfectly formed. ‘Someone has spiked my drink!’ I declare, grasping the glass’ stem and raising it to general view. By this time, several more have appeared. They are efficient as microwave popcorn. As they overwhelm the upturned tulip of glass and scatter to the ground, I catch a glimmer of disgust on my ex-wife’s face.


At first I was chuffed that I had to write in the style of a dream for the week 3 assignment. I thought to myself: 'I know dreams. I've had dreams. How hard could it be?' Compared to some of the other styles being bandied about class, I reckoned I got off lightly. Ha ha ha.

I chose to write it from the perspective of an academic, mainly because I had recently re-browsed through J.M. Coetzee's 'Disgrace'.

A lot of people dream about teeth. Classic anxiety dream. A friend of mine was telling me she has a recurring one about her teeth continously tumbling out of her mouth, which sort of inspired the end of this piece. Horrible! I was going to have the Professor's mouth bleeding everywhere, as if the teeth were disappearing from his gums as they appeared in the glass, but I thought that would be just needlessly gory. 


November 07, 2007

Cat's eye view

I've been a bit remiss about updating this Blog thing. I don't like it much. (Don't tell anyone). It's probably doing me the world of good. Like eating celery does you the world of good. But I'll not let that stop me from complaining about it. That would be giving in.

Here's the piece I wrote for week two's ICW class. Ages ago now. It's a cat's eye view of Kristen's snippet from week one, which you can find here. I'm not going to say too much more about it, because since then I have been on the re-write train. And once you've been for a ride, you look back and realise where you've come from is shit. It's embarassing.


The cat sneezed. A chill pervaded his bones and danced upon his tongue. Blinking into consciousness, he saw the cause – it was later than he’d thought, and the fall of warmth that lay here, where he did, on these early afternoons, had moved on.

With measured ease, he slid his limbs into a standing position, sleep-time stiffness shearing off his limbs. Every tendon and muscle splayed in an exquisitely comprehensive yawning stretch. His tail unfurled, claws unsheathed, curving away from his feet. Waves of luxuriant purrs rumbled from his chest.

He tripped down onto a box, then onto the cool linoleum floor. The cavernous space hung at his back, vacant and orange. Yes, the tall ones had gone away. Their pervading noise and fuss absent, only that peculiar admixture of scents and scattered debris remained. Crumbs of bread and skin tacked the pads of his feet, adding crunch to his every step.

The overhead beams had been extinguished too. Their warmth gone, there was no recourse but to find another source. He sniffed. Sunlight was this way. So he went.

Not all had left. Two remained. The cat could hear the rasp of their tongues now; the flapping beat of their bird-wing wrappings as they moved; the thrill of hair swept aside, colouring the air with sharp sweet odorous tastes.

They stood in his way. He approached with insouciance. Beyond, outside, he knew, stood a burnished thin structure; and it was there he aimed. It was the colour of old blood laced with a pattern of ash. It had been built by them, painstakingly, like so many others, of blocks and paste. It was hard, and had hard edges. At this time it was a familiar haunt, secure and safe, within sight too of the low square place from which meat would be deposited. 

They were different indeed, these two: one long, one small; one fair, one dark; one yammering and vigorous, one a watery echo of herself. The afternoon glow beyond lent them radiant mazy haloes of light. Curiously, the long one stank of fear. The cat paused. No uncommon smell in this place, yet one that always merited caution.

He watched. The petite’s bony hands jabbed and stung as they moved. The rituals of power and menace. All the taller wanted to do was get away, yet she was held there like an injured mouse, spinning by its tail from some high place. The cat understood.

His tail swished, and he bent low, nose prickling at the dust of the ground. He could feel his ears easing back. When the move came, he would be ready.

Such exchanges baffled him. It was communication of a sort, yet nothing ever happened. Their jaws would clatter up and down, their hands flail, and they would drift apart. What had been achieved? What was it for?

The balance had shifted. The taller girl’s defences baffled the other one, who, smashed up against a glass pane of coolness, seemed unable to move for herself. Tension whined; the cat could feel it sing through the smooth nap of his amber coat.

Then, with a twang it was done for, and the tall one loped away. The smaller lingered, staring after her with a disconsolate stoop to her shoulders.

Nothing would come of nothing. The cat resumed his advance, sauntering past the dark-haired one, leaning to slip his sinuous little body against the taut tower of her left leg. She had bent to stroke him, and he felt the tremble in her spread fingers as his back coursed by. 

Within a few meters he had stepped out into the sun-burnished afternoon.
His lids lowered as he savoured, senses lolling in gratitude at the change in scene. Here was a myriad-faceted world, where the salt of a baked asphalt road could twine the delighted cry of a satiated cuckoo. He leapt to the crown of the wall and sat, neatly arranging his limbs.

The cat’s tag was pavement-coloured and pendulous, cold against his breast. It read ‘MILO’. This meant nothing to him, though read aloud he recognised the sound. He had learnt to. The tall knew him by it, and called to him by spitting it into the wind. When their hands fell upon him, a stream of beating warmth, they whispered it into his ears.
  


Onwards and upwards, as they say.


November 01, 2007

the journey

i left it to the last minute and haven’t had time to edit it: there’s a guy sitting next to me biting his fingernails: i want to hit him, be sick or runaway.

my mixing of genres didnt work so i just took out all the fairytale stuff -it works better, though isn’t really a story:

The journey

Day 231 once upon a time

Little has changed; though slowly the constant damp of sweat all over me is becoming less irritating: maybe it’s because I’ve bitten my fingernails right down so I’m no longer creating further cuts for the sweat to burn in. The greyness of her skin is neither worse nor better though my fevered imagination keeps seeing a blush in those cheeks. Reality is skewed; maybe it’s not imagination playing but past and present overlapping. Every hillock in this road seems both like the first and the hundredth. I try to hold onto why I’m doing this.

Day 235
The driver has yellow sores all over his haunches from the hillocks. He wants to stop. We have been able to shift position, he has not. We give him the last little bit brandy, we need him to continue. Now there is sweat and insects.

Day 247
He’s always asleep. How can he sleep when the road is so hillocky and sweat blocks one’s nostrils. There is no one to talk to. What if I lose my sanity before we arrive?

Day 248
The air is sulphurous. The clouds are turretous. I think we’ve gone wrong: we’re lost.

Day 251
She is grey and damp. The addition of sweat to her greyness makes her seem more feeble, closer to death; more mortal. I want to touch her but I’m worried about infection. The lack of water is getting to us all. His skin is reacting badly: this kaleidoscopic show provides something to focus on. I hardly notice my own sweat anymore, even the insects have become an accepted part of my view, merging with the black dots floating in front of my eyes.

Day 252
This morning I woke up on my back. Nothing was moving. I was neither in the van nor on that never ending hillocky road. I put out my arm and grasped a hand, cold, clammy. It wasn’t her. I could just see the red tips of autumnal forest. His corpse was polished. There were forty perfectly round white penny shaped scars starring his torso. He had nothing with him. She was further off, where the grass was longer. I wept for our mortality.

Day 253
I spent the day lying in the grass. I saw a ladybird.

Day X
I don’t know how many days I lay in the grass but today I got up. I dug a hole. I lay next to her remembering how red used to move within her cheeks. I said goodbye.

Day X + 1
I put her in the hole. I got into the hole and lay down on top of her. Then I got out and left.