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.”
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
Black noxious dust
Fat flies in the portacabin office
flies with confident looks
licking their feet on
the mayonnaise roll
A contribution of mine for the people’s panel on The Guardian’s comment is free section:
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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.
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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;
( 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.
October 2, 2013: This poem was written in September 2001, not long after the planes hit the Twin Towers – it is by far the most popular page on this site due to the extraordinary number of people who still google “Twin Towers” every day. I don’t know if anyone actually reads the poem, or just looks at the picture but it would be nice to know. So. if you do read until the end of the poem please click like/dislike icons – thanks.
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.
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
Marc practising a song from The Flight of the Wren