January 07, 2009

Free–writing exercise from first seminar with Peter Blegvad

This is a transcript of the free-writing exercise I did in our first poetry seminar with Peter Blegvad. Basically, we were writing down whatever came into our heads as quickly as would could, whilst incorporating words shouted out by Peter whilst we were writing into the "sense" of the piece. I don't quite think I'm prepared to call this piece poetry just yet, but it does nevertheless seem to have vague kind of sense about it, some feeling of a sort of wholeness, so I'm putting it up here simply because of the curiosity it planted in my head. Anyway, here it is:

metal trees with splintered blowfish sides

an explosion of petals fall like lead

dead men walk in icy shoes

and parrots scream out expletives

orang-utan cuddles cameraman

and twitchers shoot down eagle chicks

detonates with a whisper

flashes with sound

light is buried under heavy Cyprus wood

scent of needles pricking memory

amnesia nothing destiny’s approach

somnambulism’s wake-up call

and dream-death of the forgiven soldier

anti-Semitism running rife around

the eyes of children who play

the tv switching from flame to rose

and back to liquidity

ideas slog and blankness couches on the cortex

society’s weight pushing down beyond the pillows

with a convulsive mutter

and gun-mouth rattles car-sides tinting

bass sound in soprano city

singers crunching under feet of empires

who are in legion demi-god and

not separate like cacti in the desert

water swells and boils and rushes over land

the Moses of our millennia

convex perceptions of a man who isn’t real

vanity’s mirror is full of cracks

and mankind’s use has spotted it

Alaska-like with snow-capped peaks

impenetrable to the feeble mind

a winding scree of loose ciphers

jargon gobbledegook trollish rubbish

all belong on a garbage heap

this is where we long to weather

and moulder here till death we meet.

December 31, 2008

Debitum Naturae — "He found the corpse under a blanket".

Debitum Naturae

He found the corpse under a blanket. It was his mother. It was huddled up under its bedclothes, soaked in its own urine, its gnarled hand curled around a trashy romance novel. The corpse was curled up in the bed, foetal position. His fingers rasped gently down its paper-like cheek. He wondered why it was that corpses’ skins felt like paper. Before the corpse had emerged out of the chrysalis of the frail old woman, his mother had always had soft, smooth skin. His cheek was soft; he could feel it even through the stubble.

         He looked down at his feet and up at the bed; he realised he had fallen away from the touch of skin on skin and was crouched against the cheap chipboard wardrobe. He turned dully, staring in a blind haze as the ancient telephone rang and rattled on the tabletop. He took it off the hook and left it lying, and stared with a bittersweet intensity at the numbers on the little dial. His mobile started vibrating gently against his thigh and he reached inside his pocket to switch it off.

         Turning slowly, he walked over to the bed and stripped the blankets back from underneath the corpse’s armpits, before walking out of the little bedroom and down the hallway into the bathroom. He put the plug into the bath and turned the cold tap on full blast, knowing that using a hot bath on a corpse would be foolish. He didn’t want it to start decomposing yet.

         He went back to the bedroom that had the corpse in it. Taking the clothes off in the conventional manner would be difficult now that rigor mortis had set in, so he found some scissors and cut clean lines up from ankle to neck. He gathered up the damp strips of cloth and dumped them in the wastepaper basket before leaning over and reaching out to lift the stiff bundle of bones into his arms.

         As he trudged back to the bathroom he could hear the water nearly reaching the rim of the bath. Quickly stepping into the room, he placed the corpse down on the bathmat and gave the tap a couple of clumsy twists, before dipping his hand into the chilly water and letting some of the excess water out.

         Once the water had drained, he lifted the corpse again and, with some awkwardness, he lowered it into the bath. The corpse bobbed gently on the disturbed water, bumping softly against the sides, its ratty grey hair fanning out behind it. Watching it, he reached into his pocket, switched his phone on, and dialled. The corpse floated.

         “Hi, Lizzy, it’s John,” he said. “Mum’s gone.”

Eyes Only

Eyes Only

She sat in her garden and screamed.

It echoed.

She screamed again.

She dug her nails into her palms and burrowed her feet into the soil, pushing up little uneven mounds of dirt.

She pushed off from the rock upon which she was sat and ran across the garden until she hit the privet hedge on the opposing side.

She sank down to the earth in a rustling of leaves and a snapping of twigs, the whispering of beetles in her ears.

She yelled.

It echoed.

Alice McLullich yelled out questions and answers and accusations.

Alice looked down at her hands and saw the marks the nails had left.

She inspected the soles of her feet and saw the scratches the stones had put there.

She curled up on her green patch of grass, shadow cast across her figure in the evening light by the twigs criss-crossing above her, and winced as she felt the pain of the wound a sharp branch had torn down her flank.

She shut her eyes and tucked her limbs into herself, using the breeze as her blanket.

Alice McLullich sobbed, but nobody heard it.

November 19, 2008

Insomnia series

This is a selection of poetry revolving around the theme of insomnia. I was going to place them in chronological order, but then decided to post them in order of personal preference instead.

I still haven't worked out how to stop the stanzas running together yet with this stupid line break format, so yet again the separation of one stanza from another will be marked with an x.



Sleepless nights and adrenalin haze

pass me by as title-less days,

the moon sweeps in, Triumphant arc,

but brings with it not the winsome sleep-dark.

Days and evenings merge all one together,

derelict without touch of soft eider feather.

Pills slip down at once sugar and bitter,

but have no effect on eyelid’s twitch-flicker.

The milky drink’s burning, too hot and yet cold,

then daylight’s sharp beam comes too dazzling, too bold!

Huddle up cat-like, world curling in,

numb mind receives just confusion and din.

Hammers keep beating, blows throbbing my head,

as I crawl to my rack – to that torture – my bed.


The Madness of the Daytime Sleeper

As migraine worsens

so back-ache lessens,

pain relieving fellow pain –

then senses fold into regression

and flashing lights burst on again.


Pills are eaten,

headache beaten,

lights still flicker in my mind.

Thunder claps as brain cells weaken

and I know I must be going blind.


This is the madness of the daytime sleeper,

tales from the memory that never rests,

any minute nap’s a keeper,

but goodness knows, this can’t be best.



Asleep and drowning,

slipping into void.

The laughter clicking

in the fuzz dream-noise.


An indistinct stalker,

blurred and now blind;

I trip and I stumble,

both falling behind.


Panic now, sleep smudged,

sluggish and cold.

The winds of despair,

tear a rip-roaring hole.


Fighting through clouds now,

wade-jumping through treacle,

as I run, hide – await:

tomorrow night’s sequel.

October 09, 2008


I've occasionally found my writing to be inspired by natural features of the world around me, it's structures and intricacies, and in that respect my writing can sometimes tie in quite well with my art; as a result of this, I've decided to post some of the close-detail pictures of plants that I took for my A Level art. Partly it's to do with writing, partly to do with me wanting to add a bit of colour to my blog, and partly me trying to persuade myself that a healthy dose of vanity is good for everyone from time to time ;)

amarylis_036.jpgamarylis 048lily 2amarylis 071amarylis 075amarylis 089amarylis 093amarylis 112amarylis 115amarylis 144

Thorn and Rosebud

The formatting of this blog doesn't seem to like it when you put double spacing, so I've had to use x to indicate where there is supposed to be a blank line.

Thorn and Rosebud

The roses climb

out of time

thorns catching

prickles latching

pushing the bud

pushing the rosebud

desperately pushing at the rosebud

to make you mine.


The thorns climb no more,

and the flower blossoms.

- June 2008

October 08, 2008

Character sketching and word associations

In ICW last week we were told to pick someone in the class and write a piece using their character as a starting point: write a physical description, write what little we know about that person, and then twist that into the basis of a fictional character for whom we will make up a childhood background. Here's the (very short) character sketch I came up with.

A no-nonsense appearance, but still with a great sense of personal style. An open, smiling face that appears ready to welcome anyone in. A hard worker. But feeling under pressure, with the expectations of a previous generation laid upon her shoulders — she got a first class education, she must use it. Siblings surrounding her, competing with her. The rat-race in miniature. Parents pushing her, trying to get her to heights that they never reached and can only achieve through a diluted glory.

We were then told to write down one adjective that we felt encompassed all the ideas/thoughts/feelings contained within our character sketch, and the word I chose was "separate". What I found interesting was how people reacted to the piece considering that I had supplied them with my adjective prior to reading it out, especially when contrasted with the way they reacted to Joe's piece, as he told people what his choice of adjective was after he had read out his sketch. Having had Joe's piece read out to them before being given the adjective, people were able to formulate their own opinions of what his character sketch amounted to, and I don't think that I was the only one who had different ideas of what the adjective should have been when the one he then gave was "reticent". However, as I had given my adjective first it seemed that people had the word fixed in their heads, and as they were listening they were chalking up the story against the adjective, thus enabling them to pick out parts where they thought, yes, this character does seem as though she is separate in some way. Although I admit that this is certainly a far from perfect comparison, and my memory from last year is somewhat faded, the situation reminded me of Professor Docherty's lecture on the "dog dog dog" principle: because we are brought up being told that this creature is called "dog", we automatically comprehend that, yes, this thing is called dog, and we do not question why it should be called this and not something else. It seemed to me that a similar process occurred in the ICW class: because the other students had been presented with a word association they automatically defined areas of the character sketch that fitted with that adjective, as they knew that it must be there somewhere if I had told them so, whereas if they had not been given the word their minds may have veered off on a completely different course to mine.

All in all, I found it to be a very interesting excercise in exploring the relationship between writer and reader and also of the way exterior circumstances have such a heavy influence on the manner in which we receive writing.

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