Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Teapot Tuesday

Snapped out the car window on Bridge Road. 

No guesses about the pouring quality of the spout!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

‘Twas the Week before Christmas

(after Clement Clarke Moore)

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the land

Not a creature was stirring. not a mouse, moose or man

The bags were all packed, the tickets in hand

The great exodus had been eagerly planned.

The children were strapped all squashed in their seats,

While stressed attendants offered them treats

And mum in her aisle seat and I in my plight

Had not settled at all for a long painful flight.

When out on the wing there rose such a clatter,

I sprang from my seat to see what was the matter.

The captain announced, as quick as a flash,

‘Return to your seats or we’re going to crash!’

The moon gleamed like silver on the edge of the wing

Shone brightly and clearly on engines, and something

I hadn’t expected to see up for a spell,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny camels.

With a bemused driver, lost and quite sick,

I knew in a moment it wasn’t Saint Nick.

This tired old guy, torn and wrinkled with care,

Was worn out from shopping, his pockets were bare.

Our eyes met through glass layers, out there in space,

And I heard that man speak at an even pace:

‘See, the elves are on strike, pensions the key

Early retirement and cost-cutting, they won’t work for me!’

‘I’m hitching a ride, making a break for the sea 

Pizza, chicken and chips, no plum pudding for me.

I’m fed up with children wetting my knee

Demanding an i-phone, PSG or a wei.’

‘They drag on my nose and shriek in my ears,

I’ve planned my escape for months and for years.

The greed and the heartbreak are more than I’ll take,

And I cannot compete with all of those fakes.’

He pulled out a bottle of Scotch from his bag

Twisted the top, drank deep and lit up a fag.

My eyes were popping, my brow was a-sweat

I couldn’t believe this worse nightmare yet.

I pulled down the window shade and shut both my eyes

Too much Christmas spirit, too many mince pies?

The captain was speaking ‘Hold on and listen up

We’ve turbulence ahead and the pilot’s a pup.’

‘Settle back and relax, the trolley’s coming round

In twelve hours more we’ll be hitting the ground.

Don’t look out the window, all you need to do

Is watch the movies, eat, drink and poo.’

‘Thanks for flying with us, it’s always such fun

To take you for thousands, and then when we’re done

We’ll fly you back to the sandpit for more months of toil

Keep you tied down, exhausted, and trapped in the oil.’

I cracked open my eyes and considered my fear –

Christmas holiday madness comes round once a year,

And Saint Nick with his camels was really a hoot

The babes are asleep, my wife has her loot –

There is no understanding the greed of man

I give up, give in and smile when I can.

Christmas blessings to all, you strange cyber crew

Happy New Year and good health is my wish to you!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Teapot Tuesday

More Chinese Teapots

We have two teapots that are of a similar style.  They are probably about 80-100 years old and well used.  They are made of bronze, to take the high temperatures, and tinned (or maybe silvered?) to improve the flavour.  We have not been able to find any information about these unusual  and possibly unique teapots, fitted with their own chimneys and charcoal burners to keep the tea hot.

They are not particularly beautiful; they are interesting:

You can see the chamber on the front where the nugget of coal would be placed.  The handle is wound with bamboo to protect the handle from heat.

You can see the chimney and the open ring lid which would cover the tea but leave the chimney open.  The interior has calcium deposits and many signs of use.   The teapot has a surprising capacity of 350 ml, given it is only 8 cm high (about 3 inches).  It is also quite heavy, roughly 1 kg.

The second, larger pot is similar in structure to the first.

This one stands 10 cm to the shoulder and has a capacity of 675 ml.  It is really heavy, especially when full.

Note the chimney and the open ring top, identical to the lid of the smaller teapot.

In order to give you the capacity of the teapots, I filled them with water and then poured the contents into a measuring cup.  One thing I loathe in a teapot, is the inability to pour smoothly, to have a dripping spout and a splashy nature.  These two teapots poured like gems, giving a little twist to the stream as it emerged from the spout.  Not a single drip, not a splash.

If metal workers a hundred years ago could make a perfect spout, why is it not possible to buy a new teapot with a drip-less spout?


Sunday, December 18, 2011

No 'elp Now

image: Lee Friedlander, 1966

No ‘elp now

The hour has come, the clock has struck

Officials are gathered with clipboard and stop-watches

Photographers are near to record the event

For posterity, should posterity care.

He’s bleeding already, the noose has a shadow

The axeman’s hood and the firing squad’s hole:

All present, correct, in accordance with law

The grin is anomalous, soon to be shorn.

These grim lines are in response to a prompt from Tess at Magpie Tales.  An antidote to too much saccharine, perhaps.  More sweetness can be found here.

Sunday Trees

ancient olive on the banks of Le Gard, Pont du Gard,
Rhone France

An ancient tree for one of the oldest days of the year.

An Ancient Tree

We could believe that your kind has waited here

since a footsore legionary, ordered in to carry cut stone,

ate his lunch of gravel-bread, boiled egg and olives,

in the manner of footsore legionaries,

spun seeds to the sun,

stretched out under a plank of scaffolding,

leaving the remains of lunch and resinous wine,

snoring fit to frighten the birds from the cliff-edge,

and summoned back to work the afternoon watch,

left lunch and stones for tourists to pluck over two thousand solstices later. 

Poets will believe you descended from such legionary ancestors.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teapot Tuesday

Is it possible to have too many teapots?  There is always the V & A to help me look sane ...

Yixing clay teapots in the V & A Museum
According to wiki-wisdom, Yixing clay is perfect for teaware due to its sandy  and highly cohesive nature, allowing for an unglazed surface.  The porous nature of the surface means that tea is absorbed into the pot, adding to the complexity of flavours and making Yixing teapots highly prized, especially old ones.

The clay has been extracted in the Jiangsu province since at least the Song dynasty, one thousand years ago.  Some of the old sources of the clay are worked out, making new teapots scarce and expensive.  I understand that it is no longer possible to export old teapots from China as belatedly, the government has decided to preserve the cultural history of this ancient and complex land.

Teapots come in a variety of shapes and sizes, although most are smaller than Western style teapots. Some are highly decorated and formal, while others reflect popular themes and whimsical characters.

I like miniature teasets which is why I bought this one - teapot lid on teapot:

This one is in the form of a lotus root.  Lotus flowers are important in Buddhist iconography:

Symbols representing good luck, wisdom and wealth are common in all sorts of Chinese artefacts, fabrics and furniture.  Wise men and Bodhavistas (holy beings who have attained enlightenment but remain amongst the living to assist them on their paths) are also common images.  This teapot cradles one of the Wise Men - Fu Lu Shou - who is supposed to bring wealth and propserity to the owner.

I suspect there would have been a set of three teapots originally, each representing one of the Fu Lu Shou attributes (Good Fortune, Prosperity and Longevity).  He is holding a golden ingot or yuan bao, to encourage wealth or good fortune.  Some representations of the Fu Lu Shou combine the three attributes of the Wise Men into one figure.

This little piggy is my favourite:

The pig is associated with fertility and virility in the twelve-year Chinese Zodiac.  Possibly this chap was one of a set of twelve, or may have been the property of a person born in the 'Year of the Pig'.  I love his fat cheeks and devil-may-care attitude.

Ready  for a cuppa?


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Self-propelling

Outwards the land resembles nothing so much as dried gravy:

the trees stunted, the rocks sparse,  the coast smoothed over by the trowel of time

And the sea, which echoes the land’s voice, undulates like greasy rubber under a sullen sky

image by Mostafa Habibi

The Self-propelling

Our boat lumbered in, took passengers and creased its way off again

I’ve watched the oars lift and plunge, scoop the oozing sea into bucketsful of argument,

catch political crabs, imagined diplomacies, crossing floors and times

I’ve seen no ferryman drive those blades, no solid being rooted in flesh

only the empty thwarts creak as if under load,

the grunt of wood and sigh of shackle and spin

We waited in silence for light and dark to pass

we waited in eager ignorance, believing always in the craft

self-propelling to our shores.

It is our choice and our creed:  Be ready to embark

The others have gone across the shingle,

leaving tainted air where they passed.

I stood and watched them go.

Time passes

I am buried now, age laps me, the sky lowers

the dinghy returns for one last trip

Ferryman ships the dripping oars

now he waits for me, restless.

My limbs respond to the call,

I am walking, skipping through shallows, stepping aboard.

The keel grinds on sand, heavy with my imagined weight

Ferryman poles off the shore

then flicks the oars into their locks:

with a cry – I hear his voice! – he pulls away.

The sea becomes the air: we fly.

We, who once  

Thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the prompt.  Other journeys may be found here


Sunday Trees

eucalyptus, Melbourne Victoria

I could fly to eternity in your arms

Your dress slipping to reveal your smooth skin:
pink dappled and parchment pale

You, who hold your arms aloft, waltzing for decades with
parrot and possum.

Empress of the Nyads and of Dryads the Queen:

Your grace a standard we mortals aspire to,

Should we have the sense to look up.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

We Went to the Ball ...

We went to the ball...

We preened and coiffed, after shopping and dithering

Which dress, which shoes, what jewels ...

The hair, the face, the nails, the teeth

The stockings, the clutch, the wrap

The glitter


Can I stand in this dress, these shoes, this weight of expectation and scrutiny?

Can I walk, sit or dance?

Will I look a fool, over- or under- dressed, colour, weight and drape of bust?

While the sensible peacocks don black tie and cummerbund

Select a watch, cufflinks, brush hair and shoes:

Pronounce themselves ready and waiting.

We went to the ball, pumpkin coach and mice footmen

At midnight we rolled home, pumpkin and mouse.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gifts from the Ether

A few weeks ago, Penelope Todd of Rosa Mira Books (she has some interesting ebooks for sale!) sent me this lovely card:

illustration by Penelope Todd

When I stop and think about this miraculous card, it seems almost impossible.  A friend met through the strange medium of blog-land has sent me a tiny sliver of her heart.  I am beginning to believe the world of Ether does exist in some parallel way ...  Penelope sent the card to my Dad in Melbourne, who then included it in one of his 'cultural care packages' to me.  Here in Exile we have no regular post, hence the torturous journey of fish bowl and paws.

This is the message she included on the back (sorry it is not very dark):

I am very touched.

Penelope has a sales assistant who is such a delight, it is worth buying her books for the joy of seeing his antics.  I am trying to encourage Penelope to include the magical Ratty (no known relation of the cat with the same name) in a picture book for children/adults of all ages.  You can catch up with his adventures here.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Teapot Tuesday

For a few happy years I worked part-time and finished in time to walk the children home from school.  We had a lovely playroom with views out over the trees of the neighbouring gardens and it was there we would have 'afternoon tea'.

We always used this tea set with Peter Rabbit.  Prima had the Bunnykins tea cup while Primus used the Paddington Bear one.  As you can see, they are still with me in the china cabinet, although I can't remember the last time they were used (note to self, fix this!).   The Basil Brush tea towel is standing in for my Paddinton Bear tin tray, which we always served tea on.

We had other guests from time to time but they all needed assistance with their tea and biscuits:  Nod, the handmade bear given by our Cheshire neighbours; Mersey and Telford who came from the Merrythought bear emporium at Ironbridge, Reggie from the Rotating Equipment Group, PC Blue Plod who was an emergency bear from the Westmead Children's Hospital; and a selection of Miss Bears and Master Bears who came from Marius' mum - Miss Practise, Miss Fleur, the Reverend (who was made from red paisely - think about it) and Master Birch, who had a wood-patterned waistcoat.

I wish I could show you these bear heroes but they are dispersed to various grandparent's back rooms, storage containers and cupboards.  Rest assured, none of them have been thrown out.  Oh dear, it now occurs to me I could start a new series of Thursday Bears ....  no, no.

Tea parties were always a highlight and only possible on days when there was no band rehearsal, football practice, piano lessons, violin or French horn lessons.  My memory of them always has the sun streaming in the high west windows on the dancing dust motes.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Trees

Hampton Court, England

Don't you think they look like Birthday Umbrellas?  Happy Birthday Dad!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teapot Tuesday

Is it possible to have too many teapots?

old teapots never die, they slip away to the V & A

A Teapot is a Palace

A teapot is a palace where djinns and angels dwell

where wings of chamelia sinensis charm

the feathers out of ladies’ hats:

in sunny parlours the polished silver

beeswaxed wood and worn upholstery

(antimacassared for the Vicar)

gather round to pay respects at 3 o’clock

on Tuesdays

Smoke-filled dens of mahjongg tiles

where jade men with heavy bets watch

steam rising over eggshell cups

while fortunes and lives are lost and won

on gaming Tuesdays

Tuan tuan squat on their heels

before turning west to pray

taking their muddy  teh tarikh –

tea pulled through time like the

laterite Selangor roads to

Tuesday afternoon

Corduroy hills have aching backs

bend, pluck, toss and heave

bend again in endless row

No angels these who taste the crop

each Tuesday with their pay

But still, a teapot is a palace

corduroy hills in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Also linked to Magpie Tales Mag 94, where there are plenty more tea drinkers.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

So Far

Image by Christine Donnier-Valentin
via Magpie Tales

So Far

I know where the cushions are buried,

stolen after one of those nights,

deep in between and underneath and hidden –

the wall is also my tombstone.

It was me: snuck them off to enlarge a posterior view

brocade red and plump:

now lying denuded, a mere frame of her former comfort.

Exposed to the wind and the rain and the scorn of passersby

hard up against the wall

(convict built, brick by hand-formed brick

frog-marked and irregular).

A kind of beauty

unseen and shunned

like my naked lap.

Thanks to Tess for hosting Magpie Tales and providing the prompt.  Many more in the showroom.

Sunday Trees

fallen 'banksia-man'

High on his Limb

high on his limb the banksia man stood in

for windmills

tilting target of a Quixotic Honeyeater

slain by age and storm


Thursday, November 24, 2011

What is writing?

Imagine you are a miner, deep underground. The air is heavy and the light dim.  The miner has few tools – a pick, a shovel, a flickering lamp, and if he is lucky, a canary in a cage.

This miner doesn’t actually know what he’s after.  He knows there is a valuable vein in that hole which might be gold, or it might have diamonds;  then again, it might be fool’s gold.

And the canary, well, she’s a lifesaver.  She sings and tweets and flaps her wings as long as that miner is at work.

But look!  He’s thrown away his tools and is looking at his emails, or doing the ironing, or menu-planning or heaven forfend, shopping.

The canary has fallen off her swing and is lying motionless on the bottom of her cage.

That’s me – the chap in the filthy clothes who has chucked aside his kit and is busy doing anything, anything at all, rather than his work.   I think the canary was my Muse.  Not dead yet, but swiftly flying away.

I was a miner.  Now, even a quarry wouldn’t employ me to pick over rubble.


Monday, November 21, 2011

240 Cupid Raging at the Heavens (Poems of Exile)

      Cupid  Raging at the Heavens 

What? Struck by my own arrows?

What sort of trick to play on the son of a goddess?

I never asked to be immortal.

I was safe in my tower, snickering – well maybe sniggering –

at the agony of my targets

Those afflicted by my darts, the vehemence of their moans!

Now I am wounded

My mind knows not these sighs

This fire – I never spared Man nor Woman – now the madness overcomes me

A divine wave, such as when the earth trembles,

sweeps me breathless and staggering

There is no bridge for this raging sea, no firm axis to stand on

The sky is alive with plagues and mists,

storms and tempests roar at Neptune’s behest

Jupiter laughs across the earth – it was Pluto who conspired against me

They all did, all the gods

Now they watch me suffer this chaos of dreams

The punishment of the world’s love

Bella, come to bed

Only your diamond heart’s kingdom can release me

I am vanquished, staggering under this burden

Only your savage love can heal my wounds and

Draw the arrow from my side

You deny me?  This treachery – too much.

I die of love.

Image courtesy of Magpie Tales where more love awaits ...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Short Pieces on Short Stories -- Plot

Conflict is the engine of plot.  Without a conflict there is no plot.  You could argue, without conflict there is no character – we are all of us the products of tension and misunderstanding, challenge and achievement:  plot.

Some stories are cunning masterpieces of plot, each step crafted and manipulated like a chess game, while others seem to drift along, aimlessly picking up feeling and meaning like a snowball.  These subtle insubstantial plots need to be handled with care to entice a reader, to maintain the reader’s emotional investment in the story.  The steam-powered plot grips the reader and sweeps them along in the excitement of what next?

The classic profile of a short story involves a gradual building of plot and momentum until a crisis or climax, followed by a short sharp denouement and resolution.  There are no rules however; today a short story can have multiple crises, or none, a tidy resolution or a cliff-hanging ending.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Before Remembrance Day

November the 11th -- the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month -- when hostilities were formally closed by the signing of the Armistice, ending the First World War, or Great War, or The War to End All Wars, as it was variously known.

Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919, on the first anniversary of the Armistice.  Even then, who believed that it would 'end all wars'?

During the 'First War' (as it is known in my family), some of my great uncles were at school.  Their eldest brother was in battle in France, and the next eldest, my grandfather, was working on the land.  My great uncles attended various village schools in rural Lincolnshire.  My family still has some of their school books, which is where these illustrations originate.  I think they are special and possibly unique.

Hedley , 4th August 1915

All my great uncles and the family before them worked on the land as largely unskilled farm labourers.  None of them had the opportunity for higher education or to develop their artistic skills.

The artisitic endeavours must have been 'set pieces' for school because many of the same subjects appear over the years in these three great uncles' notebooks.  Even so, they are beautiful:

Jack  19th November 1915

I think that Percy's were the most beautiful drawings, and it his notebooks I have the most of.  He was the eldest of the four brothers still at school (I have no notebooks of the youngest Stanely, who would have been barely at primary school when the War broke out).  Percy would have been 12 or 13, a most impressionable age, in the early years of the War.  Here are his doodles:

Percy , from the 1914 notebook, his mark 10/10 and VG (very good?)
Note the patriotic flags.  And airships and fighter planes:

Percy  1914 notebook

I can picture him, squashed into his school desk, licking his pencil stub and agonising over the scale and straight-edge.  Not so different to the doodles I remember school chums doing 50 years later, with the addition perhaps of Batman and rockets.

In the small parish churches of rural Lincolnshire the Honour Rolls of the fallen often show three, four or more men lost on the battlefields in France and Belgium bearing the same family name:  brothers and cousins and uncles and fathers.  It is hard for us here in the bright shiny future to imagine their loss and sacrifice, the denuded farms, the plundered families.  So many names.

Percy, aged 12 years, chalk on paper, 1914


Thursday, November 10, 2011

At Queen Square

At Queen Square

Here people sit
waiting for hard news
replaying bad news

There must be people who pass through on business
ignoring the Square and its weight of emotion
pressing on leaves and squirrels
and pigeons

They come to smoke and gossip –
do they feel the Square’s freight of feeling?

Here people wade through leaves,
pigeons, hearts,
...   waiting

Or is it only me
projecting my fears onto
an innocent Square?


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Imagine Dying

I imagine that, when the time comes, dying might feel inevitable and possibly familiar.  A slow tipping and sliding: here we go again.  ‘We’ because the idea of ‘I’ seems pointless and wrong;  ‘we’ because I cling to the dream that there is some sense of ... personhood, self-ness, or identity that does the sliding.  I wonder if there is a sense of loss:  I had that skill, knowledge, power, family?  I could speak?  Or is it welcoming, a mutual embracing of darkness and heat?

The strong-minded atheist says there is nothing there, which would mean dying is like the mask, the anaesthetist’s annihilation:  black, gone, nothingness.  The poetic-minded faithful say there will be trumpets and angel choirs and the welcoming arms of a paternal god, bearded, sandalled, dressed in white robes.

What if you get the death experience, after-life experience you believe in?  Those who fear the hell fires get combustion, those that dream of 40 virgins get explosions, those that seek enlightenment get illumination?  Or what if we are locked into infinite parallel universe loops and we die only to be reborn in the same events as before, to live the same life, commit the same sins and graces as before, and die a hundred thousand deaths in an endless repetition of our unchanging lives?  To me that image is the height of pessimism, even if it offers the comfort of routine.

It can’t be that hard to do, when it comes to it, to be given the final telegram, the death sentence pronouncement.  Today the grim reaper possibly uses twitter, or a text.  People do go through this experience every day, hear the words, suffer their last, and die.

I remember my surprise at pregnancy:  that each human being walking was the result of some mother enduring for 6 or 8 or 9 months.  Impossible, unbelievable, but there it is.  I am surrounded by living proof.

Dying cannot be all that different to being born.  Note the active versus the passive voice.  Dying is something we do, we act.  Being born is something done to us.  We are only the object.  There is no verb form ‘borning’.  And the construction ‘birthing’ does not apply to the poor soul thus extruded.

Perhaps, as we have forgotten the total absence of choice in being born into the body and situation we are found in, perhaps we have a similar memory lapse as we leave.  We forget our surroundings, our actions, our people and finally ourselves:  we cease to be.

It can’t be that hard, can it?


Monday, November 7, 2011

Prix Hébuterne

image from Commonwealth War Graves

Prix Hébuterne

He won the Prix in 1917

Hébuterne, Belgique

A virgin mound after the mud

Silence after the cannonade

Ploughing a new field

for more magpie tales visit here

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Trees


The PaperBark

You are the poet’s tree, cantos and books, chapters and stanzas

are hidden in your layers;

Secret histories of Earth and Spirit

wind, drought, visiting fire and deluge.

Lovers inscribe their visions in your leaves,

war declared, birth announcements

and the mysteries of Hanging Rock and the Red Hand.

The oldest legends are buried deepest:

the sky arching, land erupting:    tree, blade and fauna;

Water receding and air coalescing from the void;

Brolga, emu, wombat and cockatoo record their genome –

even man, the infant in his chanting, slips amongst

Your pages.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

239 Well, look at Xerxes! (Poems of Exile)

It is far too long since I've posted one of my 'translations' of Seneca.  Remember, if you have been set a translation task, my Latin is much worse than yours.

Well, look at Xerxes!  Everybody is watching his procession!

Why do you hesitate, Greece, to take on your yoke?

Europe – and every land – follows his orders; the arrows of debt cover the sky

New regulations hide the bright web of day

The people are buried in disbelief,  while

The tears of the Aegean carry mercenaries.

Who is the new Master of land, of sea, of every commerce?

Certainly, the old order has lost its way in this world.  

Adapted from Lucius Annaeus Seneca (or pseudo-Seneca) to reflect modern concerns.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Short Pieces on Short Stories -- Conflict

How I run to avoid conflict.  My characters exchange pleasantries – possibly they have life changing announcements to make – but do they yell and swear?  No.  They vomit quietly into bushes or fall out of bed.

Of course conflict doesn’t have to be between characters, as in real life, but usually they aren’t supposed to be reasonable, rational and thoughtful.

How do you show a character struggling with conflict? You can say ‘Joe was tortured by his wife’s infidelity’.  We all know that telling this is never as convincing as showing his torture.

I don’t like the shout-y form of communication popular in films and television.  But I haven’t yet figured out how to convey that earthquake in the lift of an eyebrow.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Autumn Memory

green leaves the tree-sky

at year’s corner remember

the fallen poppies

for Poet's United more Autumn thoughts here

Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong – to the Water Spirit

Thai people fashion rafts of jewels for you:
Aqua Sprite, Neptune-creature, Daughter of the Sea, Siren
Your Names are legend

Thai people send their cares to you with gifts to sweep them out of memory
Offerings of joy garnished with guilt, edged with regret –
no promise of redemption or future goodness – only cast to your mercy

The waters rise, the waters fall
The cares accrue on sandbars and turn to stone
Flotsam fill harbours, streets, parks

Candles and joss smoke waft
Krathong linger to feed bloated fish
Thai people weep

Are you appeased Madame of the Sea?
Appeasement is nothing

Loy or Loi is Thai for 'float' while a 'Krathong' is a raft, usually made of banana leaf.  An explanation of the festival is here


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stray Hearts

Ratty came walking with us tonight

Stepped out the front door and strolled around the corner

A little hesitant, swagger missing

Last glance over the shoulder saw him sitting by the generator house, not on the step


Hope he comes back

Stray hearts


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Old Woman Seen from the Bus

after William Carlos Williams:

To a Poor Old Woman
          They taste
good to her

 You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand

Old Woman Seen from the Bus
 eating a ripe plum
from a brown bag in her hand
sucking the flesh

remembering kisses
when her skin was soft and ripe
his firm

they taste good to her
they taste good
to her they taste of lust

she bends her face to
her plum-filled palm
remembering the taste of his tobacco

the juice runs down her wrist
like spent sticky sperm on her thigh

the seed rests in her mouth
smooth   wooden   pointed
ejects to the gutter

the next plum appears in her hand
bruise-red  pregnant

she puts it back in the bag
wipes her mouth with her fingers
he would remember


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shrine to Genius

image from: http://threehundredpages.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/overcoming-writers-block-2/  via Magpie Tales

Shrine to Genius

Here is his desk, nothing touched

Note the crumpled sheet, still creased by his own fingers

(I see a seashell, cast on a beach)

This is the chair where he sat, where he composed his opus

Note his cushion, marked with wear

Keep behind the rope!

Don’t breathe on the artefacts 

The typewriter ribbons have been saved, cross-referenced and indexed

The room is cork-lined for preservation

There is the stain where he threw coffee

(I see clouds and mushrooms on the walls)

Artistic, you know

Divinely gifted man

The machine is unique, adapted for his needs

The keys, the bell silenced, the action geometric to his order

(Down here, I see battlements)

It is not the original desk, he burned that one

This one was built later, from the same timbers –

You can order a replica in the shop

Postcards and posters are for sale

The Master’s Voice on CD

Books?  No we don’t stock them.

 Ah, such a great man.

Thanks to Tess for the prompt.  For more Magpies, please visit here.


Sunday Trees

almost Hallowe'en

Friday, October 28, 2011

Short Pieces on Short Stories -- A Character

A character forms slowly.  In the beginning you may think you know all the facts about a character – height, hair colour, whether they wear glasses, even shoe size – but then they will surprise you by saying something unexpected, or doing something you’d never considered.  Eventually you realise that you know nothing about your character, and then, rather like the Cheshire Cat in reverse, they glimmer into real being.

Where does this creature come from?  Some say they are universal, ‘out there’ waiting to be written down;  others say they are emanations of our subconscious minds – whatever that means.

I know some characters that are much more real to me than you are – I can hear their thoughts, watch their nightmares and hold their hands when they are filled with regret or misery.  The facts are almost immaterial.  I never worry about shoe size, much.  The character will tell me if I need to know.