Wednesday, December 31, 2008

post christmas post

This is the scenery of inbetween days. The no-man’s landscape that stretches between Christmas and New Year.

New books form skyscrapers on coffee tables - little towers of fact and fiction. Cards that came late drape the curtain pole, white leaves with best wishes for veins. And the last arrival, hastily employed as a makeshift bookmark.

The table confetti from Christmas day has fallen to the floor. With every step she takes silver stars are carried to other rooms. To other carpets where new constellations form, forever drifting through acrylic skies.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

the day of rest

On a Sunday they discuss soft herbs and nurture a mint plant as if it was their first grandchild.  They watch five sparrows circle a leaf stuck upright in a concrete crack and wonder who will be the first to pluck it out.  They take a little dose of Jeff Buckley and cheese on toast, and stand barefoot in hair clippings pulling pouting teenboy faces.  They score bonus points for awkward questions and enjoy the silence of a phone that doesn’t ring.  They catch each other’s tears and it doesn’t mean a thing.  They tell the mist not to mind if the rain is late, while laying biscuits side by side on a plate.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

through the square window

Ive changed my mind about Christmas many times.  I loved it as a child, but we fell out sometime in my late teens, although the trust is slowly re-growing in recent years.  Now I enter into the festive spirit with the best of them, but like any good pantomime its always necessary to have a few boo’s and hisses among the laughter and the cheers.

So these days I find myself opening an alternative advent calendar, and finding things like this inside - 

behind the 5th

the work’s Christmas party - fours hours spent fighting off his brandy breath / her glittery dress

behind the 7th

the battles with Sellotape - the finger nail cruising for the end of the tape - the tacky curses at the last to use it - the polish fingerprint lifted from the edge of the dining table and transferred to the parcel - and the hair, always the hair, caught beneath, coming your way, from here to there

behind the 10th

the mother talks of frozen meats - of creatures carefully sliced and interleaved with paper this time last year - the pink, the white and the darkened brown - intended sandwiches and Sunday suppers rediscovered twelve months on and given a bin burial just in time for the next ones to come along

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

bargain hunting

This is yesterday and my squeaky steps carry me along polished wooden pathways that lead me through an old fashioned department store.

I linger near the lift watching an old woman try on a new coat.  Her husband and an eager assistant stand by, ready to offer advice and casual compliments.  They seem oblivious to the fact that the coat is far larger than the woman.  

That her knees sag under its weight and as the fabric skims the floor her feet are lost.  The fur collar has devoured her head and husband is still not alarmed.  She is utterly eaten by whatever fake fur beast this coat used to be.  

But still she basks under their gaze and the heat of these lights - all aglow from the giant red tag reading ‘£100 off marked price’.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

two become one

Most of my daydreams contain a grain of truth, nestled alongside a seed of doubt.

Sunday morning, a call from the middle of the Adriatic.  My parents, a struggle to interpret at the best of times, now victims of telephonic time slip.  Our words bouncing there and back via Norway.  The last scrap of sense surrendered - they answer my questions before I’ve asked them.

And later, from the foot of the mighty mountains he calls, seducing me with details of snow irrigation and new world wines of cash machines and high altitude climbs.  And when we say goodbye I ask him to give my regards to the condors.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

long distance daydream

My worry takes the form of a daydream.  I see him weaving through a virtual city, rumpled print-outs creased in his hand.  Sweat making maps on his back, as the capital struggles to welcome him.  His bag dragging lower with every corner turned - the rattle of the travelling pharmacy packed within.  Something for pain, for digestion, for sleep or it’s lack, something for blisters.  But nothing for getting lost.  

And all the while the shadow of the angel moves with him.  She’s lost her way too.  Cast herself further south than she ever intended.  Blown down on a fair wind, with the litter gathered in doorways.  Waving good-morning in coffee bars and goodnight in strip clubs.  The vowels still muddle in my mouth and I wake wondering how many South American countries I can name with one breath.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

the sound and the fury

They begin an hour after darkness descends.  Only sounds to start with.  Most seem to come from behind me, but some feel deep, too deep, like they are exploding beneath my feet.  Each sounds subtly different. Some remind me of my father breaking thick cardboard boxes apart across his raised knee.  Some sound like my hard drive searching for a file, or a driver missing a gear.  

fireworks whistle
and whine - last week’s ghosts
still lost and roaming

I don’t jump until the first flash.  Twenty to six and vivid pink thrown against my eyes.  Another reflects in the gloss painted parts of this room - as the door, the frame and the skirting boards white wink at me.  I feel like the world has turned upside down and someone is hurling light beakers onto the black floor.  Clocks of mercury shatter seconds before I hear the crash.

through fireworks
a shout - urgent,
excited or angry

And for an hour or two these annual effects punctuate my reading - dropping exclamation marks into an otherwise calm paragraph.  I am centrally heated but surrounded by war cries and danger and the smell of regret.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

re-inventing the smile

He tells me the story of the family photo.  All the tricks of the trade that bring four generations together in one ten by eight inch space.  United forever in two dimensions.  Some focused, some less so.  Some smile in today’s technicolor, while others grin through a 1970’s sheen.  The living and the dead and those still hanging somewhere in between.  Ghosts with shared chromosomes.  A new hierarchy - centre stage claimed by those who have spread the gene pool farthest and widest.  And the three extra pounds to grease the palm of the virtual wizard who can remove the scar from her face.  The fun we had with those face paints, pulled from a cracker - all gathered together some thirty Christmases ago.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

three's a crowd

[it seems I missed the third anniversary of this blog - sometimes its hard to believe that I’m still finding things to say that people actually want to read - I’ve got a few bits ready to go that are just lacking a picture, but in the meantime three observations from recent days]

Royal Road, relatively innocent at any other time, suddenly shifts pitch to a threatening tone.  A man runs round the corner, thin arms gangly triangles at his sides.  Fumbles mobile to his ear, doesn’t speak, only breathes.  He looks at us.  We look at him.  Try to communicate that we have seen him but would be willing to forget him too if he prefers.  A hasty diagonal takes him across the road where he joins a gender vague friend on a corner wall.  Without greeting or goodbye the friend stands and walks away.  And a few yards further along three men get into a topless car the colour of long stewed tea.  All events apparently unrelated but feeling somehow significant, somehow weighty with the flavour of danger.

- - - - - 

Our old knives have marks bitten deep into their plastic handles, paler blue breaking through.  Like they’ve been fighting in the dark, chewing at each other with serrated silver teeth.  Their knife nature unstoppable even when the kitchen drawer is closed.

- - - - - 

A crow chases a bread crust down a roof.  It bounces tile to tile and he follows.  Black after white across the red.  Like a strangely slanted game of chess.

Monday, October 06, 2008

where theres a will

Cocooned in faded brown sleeves.  She looks down at her arms, spindled and bent and moving very little, and wonders if she could pass for a tree.  If she stood still in the park would people overlook her.  Would the little white dog cock its leg in her direction.  Would that girl with the faraway smile come and sit beneath her as she ties and unties knots in that piece of blue string she always carries.  She looks at that string like most girls look at a best friend - only more unique, more treasured.  Not like something she’ll have lost and forgotten by the time she’s wearing faded brown sleeves.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

the calm before the storm

Two collared doves rest.  One on the arm, one on the back of the flaking bench.  Like two balls of pale clay they seem to melt a little in the late afternoon sun.  They retract their legs and lower slowly - wrapping wood in soft balled feather.  Their white rimmed eyes blink slower blinks, their beaks mutter soundlessly.  The privilege of watching animals sleep.

A small cyclone of black fur panic.  A cat trapped in our conservatory.  It throws itself to the four corners trying to find escape.  Windows appear the correct shape but don’t work the same in this house.  They are closed.  A double glazed cage surrounds cat and drives it crazy.  Clinging with front paws and climbing claws cat abandons floor and heads higher.  Shimmies sideways along the top of the door - a four legged spider.  Black face gets lightly draped in cobwebs.  Foolish home-owner has now noticed cat and is beckoning and rubbing empty fingers together and repeating clickety sounds of ‘kittykittykitty’.  Foolish person disappears and reappears outside looking in at cat.  Person is where cat wants to be.  Cat investigates, tentatively exits conservatory, through kitchen, through hall where daylight smell gets stronger, into lounge where fool is pointing at open doorway.  Cat pauses then exits as if rebounding on invisible elastic.  A shriek of teeth and feet across the lawn, flying over the low wall without the slightest jump, up the tree, barely shifting the leaves.  And gone.

[It felt improper to photograph the doves as they slept, but I took the above with their permission, moments after they awoke.  The cat declined the offer to pose for me.]

Saturday, September 20, 2008

our favourite stranger, revisited

Brimful of love with endless time on his hands he ponders mornings and tilts his head to better view an afternoon. He makes friends with all the little things most of us overlook.  Greets fruit and vegetables like he’s known them all his life and is relieved to see holes in their travelling bags and boxes through which to enjoy the view.  And he mourns every empty shell he finds - already missing the departed resident he never got to meet.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

the fall

She brings home a handful of windfalls. Smaller than shop bought apples but far more sincere. Their skins a darker green - almost mossy, almost velvet. If apples were thunderclouds they would be this green. If apples were the eyes of a girl who never forgives ...

She slices them into uneven fans and scatters them on a square white dish. They are a funny colour and I eye her offering with a little suspicion. They look more like pieces of potato. But they taste like the summer that never arrived. Like listening to stories while sat on heaps of your mother’s skirt under the tree we never grew.

I bite into their uneven landings - the flavour of a tumble that follows a long cling. I taste their bruises and learn that sometimes bruises taste good.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

the urban jungle

In the news this week - a lion on the loose in Belfast, in a park, near the zoo - where all lions counted and accounted for - all cages closed and locked - yet enough sightings for police to advise to approach with caution.

The thought lion. The one that got away. The one on the tip of your tongue. The eternal complaint, the silent roar the caged ones never make. The dream lion they send out to roam on their behalf. Conjured from sand and dropped lolly sticks. Brought to life by midnight incantations breathed through soft whiskered lips under Irish skies where anything is possible. A new king of Ireland with a leafy crown - sent to battle for sun and savannah and meals to eat on the go. Treading grass carpets under blue sky roofs - the lion that comes and goes while your eyes are closed. Golden shadows, wild wishes, sun ghosts. A myth to keep you on your toes.

Postscript - another false alarm - the big cat turned out to be a big dog, sandy coloured but otherwise harmless.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cu & Ocimum basilicum

Two observations, from either end of an otherwise unremarkable day -

I am washing up. My fingers absorb the heat until they translate the feeling to one of coldness. I’ll never understand the mystery of nerves. I hear the rain growing more committed against the plastic roof. And then another sound, a different tinkle, more metallic, more tuneful. In another room she is counting coppers to give to the birds.

I hear her chopping basil and trying not to cry. There will be tears lying in wait behind her eyes. Her throat will catch, words are hooked there. Any that escape will waver a little in the air as if released from underwater. And from now when I smell basil, metallic and fresh, I will remember these words, both the said and the unsaid.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

feng shui for the paranoid

a single unmade bed. in the corner of a room. always a corner. important to limit the ways they can come at you. a couple of inches out from the wall. you never know what could be crawling there. sheets only in white or mixed-wash grey. nothing too bold to stimulate vivid dreams. only checks or stripes on blankets or duvets. never spots or swirls. nothing to remind you of her.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

it's the end of the world...

…as I know it. It’s three minutes of footsteps laid on wood. It’s metal suspended and sending me out over the sand, over the water, away from the land.

A place where old women slump, deckchairs moulding their spines into perfect curves. Heads eaten by floppy cloth sunhats. Arms at rest on polyester laps. Each a mess of veins, a blue knotted net thrown over their bones to stop them from blowing away.

A place where men line the pier sides. Arms crossed on the top bar of the railings. Never content to sit, they always pace or stand or lean. Silent and staring down to the water below. So blue today. Parallel bars of colour that deepen as they leave the sand behind.

And down below gulls dot the border water. Walking in and out of the fluffy ripples. Pecking and poking. And almost looking like they might grab the edge with their beaks and with a little teamwork fight the tide and drag the blue back up the beach.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

all in all

(further impressions of my Friday night friend)

She loved men as if they were walls. Dressed in shades of height and presence, when they dreamed they dreamed of solidity and dimension. They promised welcome containment - offered boundaries to stop her drifting apart and away. She’d tried ones made of glass in the past but they always broke too soon. The best ones cast shade and gave her something to lean against. Always welcome to someone so prone to sunburn. Their mood could turn unstable with little warning but their conversation was something to graze her knuckles or her forehead against if the mood took her. The ones she fell for were usually well built and fairly logical - made up of little repetitive parts that she could count and measure, take apart and put back together at her leisure. Which was something, and better than nothing.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

gathering dust

Just for one day I scare the skeletons away and reclaim the cupboards from no-mans-land. I sort through accumulated books and letters and cards. I dust off forgotten histories and polish flat packed promises.

I find his picture folded into a secret six - still tacky at the corners from where it used to cling to my wall. And I’ll never not be surprised at how quickly newspaper grows yellow and brittle with so little age. And on a paperback of the best known road trip I find a tea ring. The caffeine fingerprint of someone happy to deface. And then that battered Salinger - the one she left behind amid the heap of less obvious mess. Lost in her secretary chic and Friday night tangles, I wonder if she ever missed it?

I find French greetings and New York incoming flight numbers. Heavy goodbyes and fading Valentines. I read indistinct sentiment laid in bold black ink in a handwriting that used to be more familiar than my own. I discover teenage poems written ten years too late on airmail paper as if the words themselves carried too little weight. And a long gone song riddled with spelling mistakes and that is the least of its crimes.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

just jack

Jack came out of the box. He cursed in fluent Russian and bit me on the nose. He said he is claustrophobic, asthmatic and scared of the dark. All of which I should have known. He said he’ll never forgive me. Swore he’d never let me go. Threatened to tie me up with second-hand parcel string. Stick on an obsolete stamp. And post me to a country that no longer exits.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


When we’re aged angels. With these words written in the creases of our well-read faces. When our hair has fallen through too many shades of autumn and lies heaped beneath us, a knotted nest for our belated bones. When our gaze has cracked like china teacup sheen and all we see is sepia dreams. Of crosswords and washing machines. Then and only then.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

baggage control

A Case of Mistaken Identity

I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see. My eyes chipped, a handful of overplayed marbles. My lips ragged from caging criticism. My brows tangled, a magic forest keeping the princess in her tower. My upwardly mobile nose, ever sniffing for the next suspicion. I look in the mirror and I don’t like what I see. I don’t know you, do you know me?

A Case of Lost Property

I forgot to pick up my smile. I’d taken it off when I sat down to rest. I had a lot on my mind, if not on my face. It was starting to rain. I’d lost my shopping list, or it had lost me. Someone found the smile under the bench. A dog walking an old man. He handed it in to the police station. They noted it looked well used and a little worn. I never claimed it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

my favourite things

Repetition comforts me. It always has. As a child I would gain hours of pleasure sorting beads or Lego bricks into piles according to colour and type. Then mixing them up and starting again. Far more fun than anything I might actually make from them. I’m the same now I’m nearly grown up. I think about some things over and over again. There are certain memory lanes that I never tire of visiting. And there are certain themes that reappear regularly in my writing. Because each time, I think I’ve spotted a new angle, a slant to the light that will throw sharper shadows and show me something I missed before.

After the rain I was pleased to see that our garden had made the most of the downpour. Each leaf had sorted the raindrops in its own unique way. Each greened backdrop displayed a different raindrop style. The ravenous arum encouraging every drop to slide toward its centre taking our gaze with it. The vibrant little fir who set up ladders for playful raindrops to tumble down. The nurturing sedum, cupping her hands to gather remote drops into pure glass chunks. And not forgetting the dark velvet garrya letting the shyest raindrops sit quiet in the shade.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

in parenthesis

When I’m writing I put brackets around words I might omit. Those that might later disappear, or fall from the page. Those that add little to meaning, but take up precious ink in the process. Sometimes they prove themselves worthy and get to stay but mostly they fall by the wayside onto unfertile verges. I think it’s true that less is more.

And these days I wonder if I should bracket my spoken word too? Perhaps I should take a vow of silence. Perhaps I’d make more sense if I communicate in broken sign language and obscure charades. Perhaps people would listen more carefully, or take me more seriously.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

artificial thistles

Some days she feels she’s filled with thistles. A prickly mouthful of mispronounced words. Meaning comes last, sensation first.

Some days he’s looks like broken glass and smells like barbed wire. A bloody perimeter, and no-one gets in.

Some days she’s packed full of autumns. Boots tramping brittle leaves. Bonfires flicker and snap and crack.

Some days he’s a walking spelling mistake. Well intended but poorly translated.

Some days I taste like pins but sing a song of threadless needles.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

the final countdown

Time flies. Day follows day. Each the same shape. Each the same taste. My days are numbered. So are yours. But I won’t bow down to calendar convention. I choose to rename and reclaim my days. (I’m humming ‘My Way’). I recreate days of meaning and mayhem. Each stand a little taller this way.

Friday, April 18, 2008

one is company

Recent sunshine has lured me to the seafront. Surrounded by my pens and papers I am content to while away a quiet afternoon. Others would not have it so. On my next seaside afternoon I intend to erect the following sign beside me…

Saturday, April 12, 2008

outward bound

Books. I don’t just read them, I think about them too. I fantasise and criticise and fall a little in or out of love each time. I wonder what it means that the bedroom is where the bookshelves live whereas the study is wall to wall music. One wakes me up and while the other keeps me warm at night. Sleeping soundly beneath a blanket of words and waking to a concentration of sound.

I think about the books I part with, sent on their way, to travel to another pair of waiting hands, who welcome them, and give them a roof over their papery heads. I wonder what they leave behind once they’re gone. Not so many new words these days, not so many new ideas. But perhaps a few new questions and a clearer idea about the kind of book I don’t want to write.

And with them they take my fingerprints and my dust. Perhaps a hair caught between their pages, a scent of certain soap or sunlight from time spent on table or lawn. Maybe the footprints of a money spider that passed by. Or the aftertaste of a dream from where the book lay by the bed on a darker than average night. A nail mark on a page where I gripped too tight or a tiny tear on one turned too fast. Or a heavy breath sunk into a sentence that I had to stop and read again. And again.

If books could speak, the stories they would tell.

Monday, April 07, 2008

losing faith

She’s stopped praying. Stopped holding her hands together and closing her eyes. Stopped bruising her knees for you. She's loathed to waste precious breath on anything other than blue balloons. For every wasted wish she ties another knot in her hair. She saves graces in the cutlery drawer. She’s making a stainless steel nest, so she’ll never have to fly again. She’s polishing tomorrow and trying to keep out of the rain.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

confessions #6 & #7

a post easter post

I eat bitter diamonds laced with lime and shot through with vodka too. They look like they have been stolen from the back of a clever snake. They look like the eyes of evil queens. They taste like they should be toxic. They taste like they should cast a spell. Those who know me know I like it this way.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

crawling out from under the weather

Lines scribbled on the twentieth of two days later -

It’s only when things go wrong that you notice your body. The rest of the time you are unconscious of your component parts and how they work.

But now my ribcage feels like a cage. A rusty one. With bars that brown and flake and threaten to crack. That bend and bow and moan as I lean against them trying to escape my monster cellmate.

And my lungs feel like dry bellows. Riddled with holes and drying glue and useless. A collapsed accordion in the hands of a tone deaf musician. I whistle the introduction and he wheezes his way through a lament to lost days.

Friday, March 14, 2008

punch drunk promises

I don't often speak to prompts but sometimes they speak to me. Letting them roost in the margin helps - I'm a firm believer in peripheral vision. And so Monday shakes hands with Thursday to give you...

[click to view detail]

Saturday, March 08, 2008

wake to watch and blink away

Without a sound. That was how it happened. How it arrived. Like pieces of clouds fallen down. Like crowds of snowflakes clinging together for warmth.

quiet morning -
blood-speck confetti
in the flowerbeds

Fur that looked like feathers or feathers that looked like fur. White among the green. Macabre blooms on a thursday. White among the grey. A bad start to the day. Remains of skin and absence of life. All shape and sense stripped clean away.

fox kill
white fur scattered
in the sun

Blinding white collected and consigned to black plastic burial. Bloodless. Nameless. Movement reduced to prey.

Monday, March 03, 2008

give me your blue rain

I got two new notebooks for Christmas. I decided to try something different - to let the notebook dictate the nature of the writing within. One of the books is the beautiful Colors Journal. The matt black covers bind a wild and wonderful paper rainbow - with each day offering a word ripe for prompting. I dip into this pot as and when, and these are a few of the recent results.

[click to view detail]

Saturday, February 23, 2008

sweet dreams

She used to make me sleep with teeth under my pillow. And not just my own. Not just the milk ones that fell out of their own accord. She would find them, collect them, borrow them or buy them. Dog teeth, sheep teeth - bartered from the butcher. The teeth of other children that she saw fall during rough games at the playground. Fairy teeth that she plucked while they lay sleeping soundly in the sun-drowned flower beds.

A sprinkle of enamel every night. Sometimes a double dose beneath two pillows - plumped and stuffed full of feathers I laid down. But I still felt them nibbling and nipping. Sometimes I would wake with ragged earlobes and a bloody nose. Sometimes there were holes in my dreams big enough to poke your head through.

On my birthday one year she gave me a tooth of her own. She snapped it off with her sharpened tongue and spat it right into my palm. She told me to suck it. Ordered me to enjoy. I told her it tasted like violets, but her eyes looked like thunderclouds.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

the history of love

[a list inspired by the title of a novel by Nicole Krauss]

is rotting in an unmarked grave

is chequered never polka dots

is a pillaged shipwreck

is second-hand

is a riddle on the tongue of the dumb

is growing paler by the day

is 17 syllables scribbled onto a folded playing card

is largely written in invisible ink

is a rhymers paradise

is a hurricane in a feather factory

is cause to carry an umbrella

is a unnamed god in an unlabelled bottle

is a secret splinter

is a ruptured aorta

is unpunctuated

is borrowed from a travelling library

is littered with broken lightbulbs

is stuck together with fairy glue

collected cobwebs

[a few dusty relics that need to be aired]

If I lived in an abandoned lighthouse I’d use it as a personal sundial. I’d watch the giant finger of shade swing through three hundred and sixty degrees. Catching all the little creatures in their sunny stride. Throwing autumn back to the trees. Spotting the difference between those who told the truth and those who lied.

- - - - -

There were veins in the flowers they gave her - red running lightly through yellow. There were veins running through the people she loved too - knotted and bottled and sometimes blue. There were dark threads between her days - tying morning to evening, night to day. She knew if she lost her pocket scissors she lost her way.

- - - - -

It wasn’t the book that smelled musty like the face of the woman on the cover. It was memory, waiting in the afternoon air for someone to catch it. The smell of seventeen and those paper cups with the orange powder within. The vending machine drinks he claimed he was addicted to. The way they stacked together, each fitted into the next like a paper spinal column. Infinity came easily those days. Bitter and sweet at the same time.

- - - - -

He uses a trolley on wheels. Tilts it back to move them about. Fridges and freezers and washing machines. All sealed within plastic sheeting with polystyrene corners. He shifts them about to a pattern only he knows. White blocks of differing dimensions. Perhaps he wants to build an igloo - one that will only grow cold when he plugs it in.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

digitally enhanced

[random thoughts about fingers and toes]

Everybody’s talking about sock puppets. But they unnerve me. Such knitted snakery and lack of limbs. Buttoned eyes that never blink. They make you think you are the one in control, the one working them - but they have already devoured half your arm. And now they are quietly conspiring with your lower limbs. Dropping stitches like secret hints. They plan to have your feet for tea.

- - - - -

Crossing my fingers doesn’t amount to much. But it’s better than nothing. Better than closing my eyes. Better than a sentence that starts with a full stop. Better than a year of absent thinking and a French introduction. A tidy riddle and a dirty exclamation.

- - - - -

They count to ten. Over and over. Everyday. Just to say they are doing something. Making progress on fingers and toes. Forty between them, but they never get beyond ten. Always holding hands. Always walking backwards.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

sitting pretty

(not exactly a short story but a short something)
(inspired by a post on Sarah’s Writing Journal)

It’s hard to find the perfect bench. One that fits, that suits mood and persuasion. One that encourages the right words onto your page.

Some benches are always in the sun and some prefer the shade. Words written here may bristle with goose-bumps, or burn with rage. There are benches that face the sea, that make you sway and spin stories about drowned gods and fish that dream they can fly. Some face the swings and the slide, and make for playful verses filled with colour and rhythm and rhyme. Some benches have names, dedications to the deceased. Beware of these loud benches, over-owned and all too keen to whisper ghost secrets into your ear.

Sometimes it’s safer to sit alongside, X-legged and lower down. Cross cut by striped shadows of arm and back. A friend of a bench.

It’s always raining these days, and I can’t remember the last time I visited my benches. I need to do a tour, to check they are all still there. Weathering this winter. Peeling and patient.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

one by one

There is something I can’t resist about those cut and paste death threats and murder confessions. Words in different fonts and colours stuck in lines onto a blank page and all the rage in cheap thrillers and the 1970’s. So much more artful than just trying to disguise your handwriting.

I always wanted to have cause to create one - and I know a friend who indulges from time to time. It’s something we could all benefit from - carrying a small satchel stuffed full of words clipped and culled along the way. Ripe to be sprinkled, literate confetti on a windy day. We should all carry little silver scissors - ready to snip at each others conversations and tear holes in our confessions - stealing the parts we like and rearranging them our own way.

But there’s more to it than that. It’s something about spelling out anything that carefully - as if the process forces a stronger focus on each individual word or letter, making you think more about what you are saying, making you more connected to the essential way that language is built within the human mind.

And I just got myself a post Christmas treat - a letter printing set, a grown up version of one I had as a kid. I remember the little rubber letters, lining them up in the holder. And I’m still thrilled at picking the letters out one by one, slowly watching my words form, and remembering to write everything backwards. Perhaps that is the ultimate key - that anything you say is stronger if it makes sense both ways round.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

two moons, one me

[inspired by the latest prompt at one deep breath]

A slightly different take on the theme this week as I have chosen to focus my attention on moons captured by pen and paper.

Two haiku - the first inspired by a piece of art that has hung in my bedroom for many years, the second by a friend who has hung around for nearly as long.

The Weary Moon by Edward Robert Hughes

at the foot
of my bed - a moon
that never fades

she sent a postcard
of the moon - promising
to visit soon