My Dragonit is time again
it has been long coming
poking at my consciousness
in the night – asleep
or should be
but it nags
it is my dragon
I woke it
demanded its breath
said – let me lie
I am sleeping
I said – you are a dragon
not a dog
now it nags
The rush of existence, the crush of the game
Everything changes, it’s always the same
Open the basket, dig deep inside
Gorge on potatoes, boiled, mashed, and fried
Scrub up the carrots, dice up the swede
Add in the garlic, and that’s all you need
Wait for the winter, remember the snow
Laugh in the sunshine, relax in its glow
An extract from novel-in-progress Cheats and Liars
I hear a deep clear voice behind me.
“Be not afraid of greatness, some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
It’s Phil, my friend, the actor. It was worth making the effort. He’s always good for a manly chat. He swings around and sits opposite me.
“I know thee well enough, thy name is Gloucester. Thou must be patient, we came crying hither . . .”
“Ah Phil.” I say. “Great timing as usual. What are you up to?”
“Me?” He says. “Me, I like hanging around in the arty centre I do. It stimulates the right glands. I am an arty centre pervert. What others get from washing-lines I get from being waited on by unemployed nasturtiums.”
“Oh shut up. Pint?”
I decide to get a couple of whisky chasers to go with the pints. Phil is fiddling with a phone when I get back to the table.
“Here.” He hands it to me. “It’s one of those touchy-feely bollocks. As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.”
It’s a nice phone, lovely colours, bright blues and oranges, crisp text, feels good in the hand, like a suitable stone – a hurlable stone.
I can’t be bothered. I drop it on the table.
It’s great to be with Phil. We don’t really need to say anything so it doesn’t matter what we say. He is my oldest friend and I forget, we forget each other, in between our always random meetings. It’s been a while, six months at least. He looks a bit tired.
“All OK Phil?” I ask.
“OK sir.” He salutes. “It’s the fucking cancer. He holds his hand out to silence me. “Details unimportant. Been away you see. Tripping in Switzerland. Driving a fast car, Chinese herbs, blood transfusions. Needles, mushrooms, always the bloody mushrooms, and the acid, legal there you see – with this guy – proper, pure. But I am dying, Egypt, dying. I go, and it is done, the bell invites me.” Continue reading “Cheats and Liars”
a short story
He marched towards the anthill, broom held high above his head – he’d flatten it, get rid of those creepy-crawly invaders. How dare they set up camp on his lawn. It wasn’t his fault that it had been neglected. What was he supposed to do? He hadn’t been allowed in the house, or the garden come to that for years. Never mind, she was gone now, never to nag or threaten him again. He was free to be himself. That’s all he’d ever wanted after all.
He’d long suspected that she despised him, she resented the demands of their relationship and wanted to be on her own. She’d called him a vampire, what the hell was that supposed to mean? A soul-sucking vampire, the last thing she ever said to him, her very last words.
He threw the broom at the anthill. What did it matter now? There would be plenty of time to sort the garden out, plenty of time and plenty of money, at least she had left him that.
Angie was coming towards him across the unkempt grass. She had a can in each hand, cider for him in her right hand and lemonade for her in her left. That’s how she did it, she always put him first. She handed him the cider. He kissed her on the cheek and put his arm around her, patting her pregnant stomach. She smiled and kissed him back.
“Welcome to your new home.” He squeezed her shoulders. “Or should I say selamat datang ke rumah baru anda.”
Works in Progress
The Shopthere’s a shop up in Albany Road
– a supermarket actually
it’s always rammed
students, suits and shirkers
academics, social workers
it’s too much for me
I’d rather be
in bed Continue reading “Some unedited odds and ends”
This article first appeared on Adopt an Indie
Shakespeare never needed the big six
When I started to write this I came up with what I thought was rather a clever little pun. “In his time ‘Shakespeare was no great shakes’. Hang on, I thought, let me google that just in case it’s been used before, and yes of course it has. The point is that nowadays we have at our fingertips – literally, access to the accumulated writings of just about every poor sap who has ever put quill to vellum or speech-to-text or any other way of recording words. There are loads of writers out there – millions upon millions of them and a small proportion are successful enough to be familiar to most literate people. Shakespeare is the Zeus in this pantheon of literary gods, yet in his day he was regarded by the then intellectual establishment as a “Johannes Factotum”, “a Jack of all trades”, nothing but “a second-rate tinkerer with the work of others” (Wikipedia).
Despite being an outsider, good old Will just got on with it and using his own wit and talent he produced The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. You can’t get more successful than that.
A Visit to Margam Steelworks(i) FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Meandering roads Giant Nostrils
Black noxious dust Railway tracks
Yellow jacks Distance
Sound Sight. # (ii) FAT FLIES
Fat flies in the portacabin office
flies with confident looks
licking their feet on
the mayonnaise roll Continue reading “A visit to Margam steelworks”
he returns to his work
he takes his tool
(no – not that kind, you dirty-minded bugger)
he makes the marks
and starts to pare
more gently than before
softer than before
slower than before
the shape will come
it will be
what it’s meant to be
and he will be
what he is
because the rest
A contribution of mine for the people’s panel on The Guardian’s comment is free section:
* * *
A strong smell in the car park heralded an in-store promotion. I hate being manipulated as much as I hate the smell of fish, so was immediately irked. It was the first time we had been to a supermarket for months, a visit prompted by curiosity and boredom rather than a desire to pick up a bargain.
We have never liked supermarkets, and like them less now since the lovely local wholefood shop we owned went bust recently, due, in part, to their behaviour. They take on brands tried and tested in small shops like ours and plant them at cheaper prices in strategic positions in their aisles. Then, when they’ve enticed our customers into their emporiums they quietly drop the products or replace them with watered-down own-brand versions.
In the past I’ve worked for companies that supply the big four, and can say from personal experience that they are ruthless when it comes to dealing with their suppliers too. They squeeze until the margins are so tight that the companies supplying them go out of business or are sold off for a pittance to larger brands. Despite our cynical and defensive attitude, we still succumbed to the Tesco trance and racked up a bill three times as high as it would have been if we had gone shopping in the local Co-op.
Don’t be fooled by the price cuts and the friendly visage, the supermarkets exist only to make the maximum profit for their owners; the customers are simply part of the equation, and that equation involves the customer spending at least the same amount of money on each visit. Tesco’s move to cut prices will have little effect on us, the damage has already been done. Who’s next? You have been warned.
* * *
Direct link to the full piece with comments
A series of poems (circa 1999)On a Broken, Worn Out, Cheap, Plastic, Cigarette Lighter. ( i )
Oil processed, metal mined,
Gas released, so refined;
Cog turning, flint burning;
Ergonomically designed. ( ii )
reflections on a cigarette lighter:
distorted – not much. ( iii )
Shall I compare it to a source of light?
Or shall I simply call it flaming junk?
When it was new it struck and lit all right.
But now it’s just a useless, lifeless hunk.
Of plastic, metal and of gas composed,
A man made thing to do the job of fire.
It might be clever if I juxtaposed,
The foundry’s rush and a heavenly choir.
Singing its song it lit up many nights,
But now it’s gone and ever will reside,
On the council tip with the other shite.
Silting the globe, why did it have to die?
Do not believe its life has been in vain,
‘Cos from the dump it will rise once again. ( iv )
The thing is like a stick of light.
It is a bite of frost.
Its lion’s roar, its breath so bright,
A broken beam, it’s lost. ( v )
Fruit of mans’ hand,
We don’t understand,
How much you demand. Continue reading “On a broken lighter”
I was wounded first –
the blow caught me in the neck.
I couldn’t breathe,
with a whoosh of fire,
my mouth opened
and huge clouds of smoke fled out.
I didn’t realise I had such energy,
I smiled when I knew I was dying;
I always said I would go first.
You watched as I choked, incredulously,
not wanting to believe
in my mortality.
My belly shook, I retched and coughed,
but your strength,
the power of your gaze,
began to mend.
you were smacked in the chest;
a direct hit to your heart,
and you shuddered
but you didn’t scream;
there was no sound
That’s when I caught your eye;
that’s when I knew
we were both going to die.
In that silent lightless time
I watched, still wounded,
still breathing burning breath,
you deflated with a groan
that shook the world.
I stood, shocked, alone in emptiness
that spread like nothing
through the universe.
With no light left, I crumbled too;
we sighed together, merged –
in mounds of dirt.
I knew that love can never die
not even then, not in that place
where the world was witness
to our hurt.
a place to pause and be alone
Take it in your hand and stare
at nothing in particular
Rub it clean and roll it round
let it rest upon the ground
Chuck it, kick it, lob it high
watch it dropping from the sky
Let it rest, be on your way
thank it humbly for today
Tomorrow someone else will pause
and have their day, and think of yours.
Things fail – bicycles, cars, washing machines, governments, recipes and businesses. A failure is something that has failed, fair enough. For me though, that word has always been impossible to apply to a person. Someone who failed to make an appointment because of a traffic jam may have failed to arrive on time but is not a failure. Life is a complex web of possibilities and the choices we make about which threads to navigate are influenced by every micro-facet of our existence, whether we are aware of it or not.
Blame is another word I have a problem with. It’s a very negative word and is used to attack and hurt people. This doesn’t mean that people are not responsible for the choices they make, responsibility is not blame, though the two terms are often used the same way. The point is, life is complex and as tiny creatures in this infinite universe where every nano action ultimately has an effect on everything, we can only pray we are making the right choices as we step onto the tightropes of those threads.
That’s the hypothesis. Now to the real world – I am a failure, I am to blame. It’s true. Continue reading “Failure”
Marc practising a song from The Flight of the Wren
if not their own a borrowed one.
The cat will sit and clean its fur,
wiggle its claws inside its ear,
stare at you from time to time,
sneer at your silly rhyme.
forty years ago I would have called him an old man
if I had noticed him at all
he would have slippered past me in the corridor
and smelled of pee
I would have held my breath
for a step or two