Monday, December 31, 2007

so far so good

7 days under my ever-changing sky

today the sky is usual blue, from left to right but cut in two by a plane line. straight down the middle, north to south, then slowly dissipating, growing woozy as it slips westwards

today the sky is contradictory - it has fallen out with itself. shattered lines drag on from others, some dark, some bright, some fluffy with delight, some blooming with desire to ruin your day

today the sky is flat and lower than it should be - I have to stoop as it swoops down and knocks the top off my head - I should have stayed in bed

today the sky is hazy, not as hot as yesterday but reconciled to its rightful place. no clouds, no breaks in the colour, no pace, no space - in short a lot like me

today my eyes watch the sky - two rings of a colour no-one can quite describe - mostly blue but now and then a curl of white wing slides into view - silent and true

today the sky is a grey betrayal - a let down after a long held promise of something better - an echo of all we leave behind and a warning of what waits behind the door at the end of the hall

today the sky is a pedestal we try to climb, safe holding onto the lifeline of her hair. the sky is a secret only making sense within the half-light of my dreams, an eternity that welcomes screams

Saturday, December 22, 2007

forty winks

For the boy who collects shadows. Who traps them in a net he weaved from seaweed he caught himself. Who hangs them out to dry on a washing line on a day where the sun won’t shine. Who presses them flat beneath a pile of books filled with heavy words. Who seals them in blue glass jars and shakes them daily to see if they still hum. Who folds them into little balls and hides them beneath his tongue, and never speaks with a mouth full. Who sews them into the soles of his socks and tries to squash them when he runs.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

raindrops on roses

I’ve been reading Three Beautiful Things for a while now and I’m regularly surprised at how much beauty Clare finds in her everyday life. I think my eyes were calibrated differently, set to a lower frequency, tending to the grey.

I encounter things I find striking, bizarre, shocking, bemusing and sometimes even mildly pleasing - but rarely beautiful. Nevertheless, I pick up these pieces and make them into something new. As my old friend Elliot would say - ‘these fragments I have shored against my ruins’.

Last week I offered up a blast from the past, this week a few fragments from the last week -

Many people say that putting up their Christmas tree is an annual occasion for frowns, frayed nerves, bitten lips and crossed words. But not here, not today. And I wonder why? are we so different? so much fitter happier more productive? or perhaps we just have greater perspective, about ourselves and our tree. Its a little pyramid of lights in the corner of one room. That’s all. Its not a test of perfection, of evenly spaced reflections. Not an indicator of how well our Christmas will go or how much we care about it or each other. Its just a few extra glimmers in another night together.


As she opens the door to leave a ghost of the cold morning enters to take her place.


Twinkles reflect in the windows, multiplying all by themselves until tree-light stars form new constellations.


As he tells me how he took a few days away, changed his number, changed his locks - I think how much harder it is to change your mind, admit you’re wrong and leave the past behind.


A knock on wood, a bump in the night - tart ripeness flung from green - a yellow present on the window sill - the ongoing revelations of my lemon tree.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

dusted thoughts

I’ve kept a notebook for at least ten years. Most days I lower something onto its pages - but I rarely look back through them. Today I thought I would. I pulled one at random from the shelf. A blue bound 2003. It seemed that on that 9th December I didn’t have much of interest to share - just something about wanting to ‘wear my wooden wings’ and mountains and rivers and French kissing.

But 9 days later I tried to write a poets review of the year. These are the edited highlights -

January - round the bend, take me with you, call me when you get there and tomorrow we’ll cut your hair. February - and we can’t be truly human till we wake with water lilies on a breakfast tray. March - finds thoughts of love and death and god and the sea and sky and familiarity. April - leaves miracles and tricks of the mind, stick a pin through anything you find. May - we’re out-running clouds but the pictures on my wall never move for me. June - you drove us to the town of Do Something, but there was no-one home. July - you live on tip-toes, you changed all the light bulbs and barely had to stretch. August - let’s leave the bored games at home this time. September - honesty is the hardest stone to carry hidden in your palm. October - then comes the sorry, I’m shit, the is it too late? do you hate me? bit. November - we stayed up till 4am and you wore you hair down for the first time this year. December - a pale imitation of a worthwhile week, excuses run through the grass, wet and sleek.

That doesn’t make much sense to me now, I wonder if it did then? Perhaps this confusion is why its important to live in the present tense. Time to come back to the future. Home to now.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

the spice of life

I am ginger. A kiss to keep you warm, or a promise to settle your stomach on a long bus journey. Just like a lie I can burn if you hold me under your tongue for too long. I’m content to be right but happy to be wrong.

I can dress in a spicy suit or recline in sweet robed luxury. You can boil me hard as candy or drown me in dark chocolate pools of wisdom. I can be ground to powder brown, or sucked straight from the stem, splinters and all. I will take your message but won’t return your call.

I am ginger. Or so she said yesterday, but perhaps today she would disagree. Perhaps today I am Darjeeling eyes lost in the land of black pepper trees.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

the heart of glass

A few years ago I claimed that 'reflection is overrated'. In part I take that back.

Lately I’ve been drawn in by the union of images that take place within sheets of glass. Mirrors are monogamous, they hold only one thing in mind at any time and think most highly of themselves. Whereas windows are gluey - constantly craving to stick things together in shiny collages.

Sadly I don’t have the photographic ability or equipment to properly capture these moments - and I don’t have much skill with a sharpened pencil either - so I'll have to make do with a few words - scattered and rearranged on the page and hoping to convey these momentary conjunctions.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

what was lost

[a list inspired by the title of a novel by Catherine O’Flynn]

a silver ring set with a red stone - a blue military style jacket - a bucket full of memory - the first Feeder album - unbroken skin - the girl in the paddling pool - the smile in the plastic racing car - three months in the summer of 1993 - 8 years give or take - the taste of Malibu - your middle name - unquestioned trust - the desire for great heights - self censorship - the one who walks in the snow - a real wood floor - the lost boys - a duck and a bear - milk teeth - the desire to dye my hair - a pen that wrote with pale grey ink - your untorn first letter to me - our dogwood - a blonde hair halo - belief in the mythology of Father Christmas / Jesus Christ / The Queen (delete as desired) - a handful of Friday nights and Saturday mornings - the boy with the whitest smile - the cover of my first copy of ‘Dracula’ - our get out clauses - those amber incense cones - the child with the faraway eyes - the flexibility of youth - the need to write neatly - living anywhere above the ground floor - the chance to start again

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

some girls

Sometimes surrounded by girls wearing curls. Knowing they made it that way with all their twisting twisted twister thoughts. Darkness spinning within. All distant relatives of the Medusa - snakes on high ground, twirling and crowned. Reptile frowned.

And some I like and some I don’t. The girls I like have warm snakes dancing around their faces, snakes that smile from laying in the sun. Snakes who want to chat, and sing and drink gin. And the bad girls? well, their snakes are pencil thin, with teeth of rusty nails. They snip and tear and whisper secret poisoned berries with bitter pips within.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

mixed metaphors

I salute the goddesses of good luck when I find the postcard - the picture that started the misunderstanding that gave him the nickname we now know him by - I didn’t know I’d missed it, but I know I miss you

I used to list words - no meaning needed - just for their sound or the patterns they made on the page - like a child builds a tower of blocks only to knock it down and start again

its not that I’m ungrateful or unable to appreciate beauty - but its true that the carnations fascinate me as much, if not more, now they are dead - crisp rustles as I touch and the smell of deep dark dank forgotten bottoms of lost ponds - faded relics of who they once were with weird white worms emerging from one - almost as if it was trying to eat itself, one last brittle supper

hands wrinkled by water - as if my fingertips are trying to fold in on themselves and disappear - as if they want to resign their uniqueness and keep me hidden

woodpigeons walk lines back and forth across our overgrown lawn - like little forensic men - careful footsteps - heads up, heads down - searching for evidence - tasty treats hidden between stemmed green

Friday, October 12, 2007

better best forgotten

Wednesday. The first face of the morning is the face of the missing. Not my missing but yours. We all have one, tucked away somewhere - at the back of a cupboard, bottom of a pocket, boot of a car. A certain someone - gone but not forgotten.

And those clever people who live inside the computer have used their digital imagination to spin a spell of zeros and ones. To show us how someone might now look - if we turned a corner and found them back from the dead, standing, smiling in a patch of sunlight, dug up from the bottom of the lost property box.

It’s a game we can all play with our missing. It’s make believe and re-draw the picture how it might have been. It’s fold the corners and crumple the edges, fade the colours and bruise belief. It’s smudge the smile and place coffee cup rings around the eyes.

And however well you play, it all turns out the same - a thumbnail image of someone you never knew - who day by day grows to look a lot like you.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

the one that got away

[an anniversary message from me and my blog]

Last Friday, walking home from the supermarket, down the ramp into the subway under the big road. An onion overtook us. We stopped for a moment, slightly stunned. And then gave chase. It was our onion you see, fallen through a hole in our carrier bag. We only caught up with it at the bottom of the ramp, once it had stopped its escape attempt. These days even the vegetables outrun us.

Two years on and I’m still writing here, still chasing the impossible - and you are still reading and sometimes chasing with me. For that I thank you.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

blue print

When we look to the south we face the sea. We cant quite see it, but we know it’s there - always ready and waiting for us. Sometimes snoring, sometimes sighing, sometimes sad. But just there, behind the line of houses, behind the line of trees.

But today there’s a wrenching and a ripping in the air, and you’re not here to hold my hand as they tear apart our view. As the nameless men uproot the little trees, like milk teeth with no-one to put them under a pillow, no-one to pay 50p. I see multiple green tops and tips sliding past at unlikely angles. I see bits of old fence flying through the air and soil hefted higher than it wants to go. I see a mean little digger tear apart the decaying shed.

And despite this sudden and most welcome burst of October sun (surely a sign from the sky that you’re on the way home), despite the new window they are determined to cut between here and there - I can sense the sea pulling further back. A yard or two more distant from me, from you.

Monday, October 01, 2007

my space

[please click the corner to turn the pages]

Picture postcards always frame the seaside in the sun, but I like the dull days too - the grey sky mornings when the gulls are white against the clouds - cut-out shapes that offer a glimpse of the bright beyond.

A seaside town closing down - kiosks boarded, coaches going going gone - children back in the classroom. Empty shelters with no scraps for the opportunistic onlooker - and the only one smiling for a snapshot, a young gull perched high and bemused over a stone clad fruit basket.

She taught me to always ask the birds permission before you take their photo - otherwise they will fly away just as you hit the button. I think its connected to the way that people used to believe that early photographs stole a piece of your soul - and the birds haven’t quite given up on this idea.

A place of shadows and stains and secret corners to hide from the wind - to huddle away with a book and a pen and a bagful of recycled words. I’m at home among the older faces, the creases and the frowns - taking time to gather dust and watch the waves come and go and return again. To catch scraps of conversation as they drift by - talk of ‘gas masks and all that’ as the old man clutches his tobacco pouch to his chest, like a long lost grandchild - and she says how ‘he never had a day of ill health in his whole life’ and you just know this is posthumous praise.

This is where I live - just another seaside town, except that this is my seaside town - not quite where I was born but most likely, hopefully, where I will die, or at least drift away. Good on the bright days but just as much mine on the grey.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

the light fantastic

I’m always drawn to those strange shapes of light that appear against the sides of buildings. Like illuminated crop circles - I guess the rational me knows they are just reflections thrown from surfaces I cant quite see - but I like to make believe.

I like to think that the sunspots dancing on the ceiling aren’t coming from the surface of your cup of tea, but are outburst and overspills of what you feel for me. And the circle on the wall isn’t bouncing off your watch face, it’s the light of time itself, darting ever always out of reach.

And the bird shaped glow that darted across the house across the road the other day was nothing to do with the car that turned the corner, nothing to do with sunlight bounced from a wing mirror. It was the ghost of the dead bird you carried home that day - just passing by to say he hasn’t forgotten.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

forever autumn

he called me from the corner of the park - without a word - just a gesture - a beckoning made with a stiffened arm - a crooked finger - he called me close to share his secret - to warn me to mind where I walk - not to crunch so heavily through the browning leaves - because those leaves are not just cast-off thoughts of seasons past - they are the tears of trees - trees that weep - year in year out - sad at the fact that no-one wants to sit beneath them to tell them stories like they used to - no-one sits below while they read the newspaper over their shoulder - no-one kisses under their canopy to let them eavesdrop on their heartbeat

haiga #6

I am much like this wall. I have a tendency to gather scraps around my feet. Lately I find myself knee-deep in half finished pieces - words without pictures, pictures without words. Its time to have a spring clean, six months too late. Its time to round up these unruly thoughts and call them to order. Its time to pin them down and hang them on these walls.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

art for arts sake

Up until recently nearly all of the images used to decorate these whitepaint walls came from my favourite free photo site. [Aside of course from those taken from the library of visual wonders that is my friend the dandelion]. I can spend hours browsing through all the weird and wonderful black, white and rainbow shapes that people are willing to share. And I nearly always manage to find a picture to suit whatever mood I am trying to convey.

But now I’ve finally got myself a decent camera, and I’m slowly teaching my eyes to focus properly, to catch my own pretty pictures. And so I thought I would repay a debt and share some of my photos with the site. They have quite strict criteria and only accept photos with decent lighting, framing etc. They also reject photos if the subject matter is not required.

Now… browsing back through my scraps and bundles I have borrowed a crazy array of images from them… so I am surprised to hear that anything is deemed unnecessary. But that’s exactly what they said of these two images that I offered up -

Obviously no-one but me will search out snapshots of a cardboard landscape - a papery city to wander through, where perhaps we might find ourselves a corrugated park, where we can stoop and pick some cardboard flowers.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

not quite wonderland

Some days turn upside down. A click of a button and the colours are inversed. Silky things tear at your skin, while you sink into concrete with a welcome sigh. The tame bear teeth and claws you never noticed before. While the wild draw close to your lighted window - dressed in tophat and tails and ready to read a bedtime story. Clouds slide behind the sun and shadows arrive at sunset. Words write themselves into knotty ropes while conversations are exhaled to form a stagnant layer that hangs just below the ceiling. Hands where you used to have feet - you kick me when you wave goodbye.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

we all fall down

They say you should write about what you know. I don’t know much, hence recent posts on blue glass, paper people and lost gloves. But this week inspiration took a turn for the worse and left me struggling under the weight of a common cold.

I’m under a spell cast by a cartoon wizard - my bones have turned to rubber. I wobble and bounce from moment to moment - none having much impact on me and vice versa.

It’s wrong to have a cold in the summer. The clue is in the name. I need to feel the risk of freezing. I need to laid my burning forehead against frosty surfaces. I need to feel as if I have been cryogenically suspended for a few days, and that when I thaw it might be spring.

Familiar foods have changed and grown corners. Even the roundest mouthful has edges and sharps that I never saw before, all eager to tear my throat on the way down.

My eyes water when there’s nothing to be sad about while my nose is filled with pepper tipped pins. And so I sneeze. And sneeze. And each time I do, I swear I lose precious thoughts. Words and phrases lost forever to high powered exhalation.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

true blue

Boiling water. Your surprise. The way the glass shattered. The way it muttered out a couple of cracked cries before it gave up two blue tears. Sharp edged apologies that it couldn’t hold itself together for us any longer.

You know I have a thing about blue glass. Or I should amend that to had a thing about blue glass. I think my passion is fading. Individual pieces have broken and fallen by the way and those that remain on the mantel-piece are gathering more than their share of dust.

I’ve never liked rose-tinted glass, never needed that optimistic sheen spread across my world. But a world viewed through blue is a world that makes a little more sense. Every place a step closer to water, to where we came from.

But I realise that you cant just live a life of curious curves and keep me on a high shelf for special occasions. And the things you hold most tightly to are always the last, but most likely, to break.

Monday, July 30, 2007

pieces of eight

Thanks to dandelion for inviting me to share 8 largely unimportant facts about myself. As is the nature of the impossible, the rules got washed away, so my round of the game both begins and ends here.

- the first three posters I remember having on my bedroom wall were of Shakin’ Stevens, the Pink Panther smoking a cigarette and a butterfly identification wall chart. I still retain at least a passing interest in all three subjects.

- I most resemble my mother in looks but my father in thoughts. (Those who know me may disagree). I’m happy with it this way, but it would be fun to swap for one day.

- my first adult attempt at creative writing started when I was in hospital in 1995 and I wrote a poem about the floor. It wasn’t very good, trying too hard to be Jim Morrison, but everyones got to start somewhere.

- I adore tessellation. I can stare for ages at a wall, awed at the way the bricks fit together. Hence the haiku that features in the very first post on this blog and the background imagery.

- I wrote my degree dissertation on images of childhood in advertising. I don’t care much for children, and haven’t really thought about them since.

- I once said I would marry anyone who liked parma violet sweets. I have since changed my mind. Both about the sweets and about marrying.

- I like snakes but I’m terrified of watersnakes. And inanimate objects portrayed in animated ways make me very nervous (I think this began with watching Disneys ‘The Sorcerors Apprentice’)

- my blogger avatar is a photo I took of a hook high up on the east side of our house. Its there, for no reason, nothing hangs on it, its just there.

Monday, July 23, 2007

those creatures

[limited observation of girls both known and unknown]

She still slides an extra syllable into your name. A rising inflection that brings you into question and out of focus. You should be short and sharp - a knock on wood, a nail banged firm to hang my hope on.


There she is with her eyes drawn on. Doodled and downcast. Coloured in and crossed out. Practice makes perfect makes sense. Looking from the past to the present. Tense. As if she expects me to join in, join the dots - to play a round of have and have nots.


She whispers. Its not about the words but the breaths between. Held too long or exhaled too late. The fish wont always take the bait. Its not about the things you said, but about the lies you ate.


I gave her back the smile. I have no need for it anymore, and its started to annoy me. Velcro greeting and tacky goodbyes. Always gathering dust and sticking to the sole of my shoe. I need a mouth that plays by the rules - that talks when its open and not when its locked.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

writing wrongs

I hoard post-it notes, reminders of things to do, things to avoid. They patchwork the bony walls of my mind. A small clutch of these refer to the act of writing in itself. I recently read a passionate blogpost on the nature of comment and criticism. In the subsequent comment discussion I made the throwaway suggestion that perhaps bloggers should display a button or banner to indicate the type of comment they welcome. This discussion set some of those post-it notes aflapping, and demanding fuller attention. So now, as I share a few of my thoughts about writing, please accept this as my banner.

(DISCLAIMER - as is apparent, these thoughts come in no particular order, they do not attempt to form a cohesive manifesto regarding blog based writing. They should be read only with reference to blogs that present creative writing, not journal diary based blogs etc.)

I believe that all writing is many things. It means something to itself. It means something to its author. It means something different to each and every reader and may change drastically through time and distance. Some of the relationships between author and piece will be favourable and friendly, some not. The same goes for the meeting between reader and piece.

I write because there are words dancing within me, and I might act a little peculiarly if I don’t let them out. They dance merrily in my notebooks, but tend to spill onto the floor. If I post them here, it gives them a moment of limelight and equally allows me to choreograph them a little. I write everyday. I would write if there was a powercut. If the World Wide Web got swept away by a giant broom in the World Wide Springclean I would still write. I sometimes write for prompt based sites as an exercise for that day. However I fear that there are people who believe they are writers merely because they bounce their way from prompt to prompt through the days of the week. That’s not the life for me my friend. But I wobble on an over-oiled seesaw on this one. Part of me encourages anything that encourages people to write. But part of me despairs at wading through so much chaff to stumble upon the occasional wordy wheat. But I am happy to feast on those that I have found.

Anything I post on my blogs is considered a work in progress, because I believe nothing is ever truly finished, finalised, perfect. No-one, however esteemed, educated, famous or infamous can grant a gold seal to my writing. They can just offer comment or criticism based on their own experience, skill and interest. All comment and criticism is valued - even if it is harsh - as long as it is made thoughtfully and eloquently and with valid reference to the piece. Nothing I post on my blogs is too precious or close to my heart to stand up to criticism. If it is then I shouldn’t have posted it here. I should have left it safely sleeping in the shoebox I keep hidden under my heart.

Much of the content of my writing is inspired by my everyday life. Much of it isn’t. Hopefully I have blurred the line sufficiently that you can tell which is which. I like to light fuses to thoughts liable to offend many. But when I post I try to blanket them in folds that soften the blow. I don’t want to start wars. I don’t want to lose more friends than I already have.

A final thought on COMMENT MODERATION. When I read those words I sometimes shiver. They tend to try to anagram themselves into CENSORSHIP ENABLED. I remind myself of the necessity to curb idle advertisers and net nutters but I cant help worry that some people may use them as a filter to allow through only comments that bless and never those that bruise.

Thank you for tolerating this extended ramble, normal service will resume shortly.