Showing posts from October, 2013

Four Ounces Of Flesh From The Karmic Ox

Happy Halloween...

On the other side of the glass daylight is filtered by thick mist. It could roll away to bright autumn or a slow drizzle. Either way, it looks good for business. Karl hears Louise drop her car keys on the side, knows the kids are delivered to school. Kettle noise will follow. He should have a shower, although it's tempting just to crawl into yesterday's clothes. He puts them in the wash basket. That way, no temptation: that way, no scowls from Louise. Her hours at the shop have been cut, she makes up for it with extra housework. The house looks lovely, he admits. He thinks of the day he announced their engagement: his mother, saying, 'You'll do well, you two, you're both workers.' Almost time to order another wreath for her grave. The years are getting faster. The mortgage is getting smaller. He heads for the shower.
Ivy heaves the burger boxes in the cold store. There's something about the work that makes her happy. The lifting, the cold…

October Morning

The gulls fly inland crying tales of the sea. They draw misty tears from towers of clouds. Dog on the sofa speaks in her sleep. Up shines the sun, up shows fingerprints on windowpanes, grandchild sized. Where those dishes came from; crumbed and sullied; is a mystery. Pale things stir soapy in the washing machine. Indoors, dark fabrics air on clotheshorses, on the backs of chairs. Work trousers hang from a bookshelf. Outdoors, sentimental rain falls on a pegged wetsuit.

Twinkle Twinkle

After the night the storm opens its eye. The walk to the river is shorter than it was, the water much wider.

It flows through the field where the crop grows a hand span high, floods out swathes of it. It curves out through the culvert that was barely damp mud last time it was noticed. Birds had left clear prints. Tree trunks hold in the overspill, the footprints will be gone.

Upstream is impassable: we must guess that the island, the oak dragon, the beachy flowered banks are sunk. The sky is bruised. Deep bruised, blue black. Stars: I see stars, flicker, blink.

Cabbage Farts Of The Lower Jurassic

Here is some family gathered round a table. . Here is some drawing work by Granma and Little Grandson.

They ink out dinosaurs enjoying a diet of cabbage that plays tuneful havoc with prehistoric digestive systems and may account for dinosaurs not hosting family dinners. There is some confusion over what a Triceratops looks like.

Next day Baby Girl takes the lead in a pocket-filling pram stroll. They find sour sloes, a sweet apple, blackberries of all kinds, bunches of grapes and one pair of hairdressing scissors in the generous hedges. Nice neighbours give them a cake. A whole iced chocolate and vanilla sponge on a plate. It was spare to requirements in their house. It sat on the worktop while a roast dinner was appreciated. But… back at Granma's house… Boy cut his hand in a kayak roll accident and there are bills to pay and the phone won't talk to the laptop. Pictures are laboriously emailed. Boy's hand is glued up and wrapped. Granma asks Grandad to fill up a wine glass and review…

Three Girls Learning

Book held picture-side out, some of her hair plaited and some escaped, Little Granddaughter instructs Baby Cousin on the nocturnal habits of farm animals. 'A chicken goes to sleep. A cow goes to sleep. A pig… goes to sleep.' Baby Cousin, wide eyed, absorbs shapes, colours, direction of sound. Her hair is fair and fluffy and some months away from any kind of up-do. Her big sister's hair hangs waist long, darkish shades of blonde. There's a spider bite scar on her shin where a white-tail hid in her bedding once. A spooky Facebook tale is the culprit for last night's interrupted rest. … and he didn't pass it on and they found him in the sewer… We tell her it is nonsense, of course. She smiles, sheepish, in daylight, away from fleeting shadows. Yeah, she knew that.

Zombie Revolution

Zombies are giving me food for thought. They seem to be rather prevalent (although not being a great consumer of modern entertainments this seeming could be misconstrued.) Regardless of statistics, I observe a moment of soulless chomping and wonder what the creature gains from its diet? A vampire thrives on blood, a werewolf gets to be part of crazy nature, a ghost has the mixed gift of haunting. Zombies are naught but insatiable consumers. They are dispossessed of everything but that hideous, pointless appetite. I think now not of Halloween, as you might suspect, but all the commercial machinations of festival and life that do nothing to promote the real engagements, the real privileges of living. I think of being part of a different sort of devouring mass, shuffling over superficial traces, treading down careless infrastructures, recycling the senseless, putting the sharp of my tooth against flabby moral authority. If zombies were like that, they would serve a function much as maggots do, …

Things To Remember For Caterpillars

Caterpillar likes his life. He chomps his chunky greens and ruminates. He has put a few pounds: that's contentment, a physical manifestation of his ease in the world. Literally, he is growing in importance. He has a cousin the same age as him, the same growth spurt. Cousin Caterpillar is nervous about his girth though. It makes you a bigger target for predators he says, and what are we growing for? How a metamorphic invertebrate feels is irrelevant, Caterpillar reminds himself. He spins himself a chrysalis. Cousin Caterpillar must do just the same. If one is a caterpillar, this is what must be done. It's a fine job, velvety, rich looking, it fits to perfection. But inside the pod it is so dark! He can hear his heart beating and it doesn't sound right at all. He can hear the wind rising outside and do nothing more to shelter himself. He is stuck. He closes his eyes though there's no point. After this: after this he will not know the world at all. He will not know anything! He se…

A Day's Wait

In the night a storm has blown in, a lively sort, whips rain and wrestles tall trees. Some storms have an element of brooding: the ones you wait for are usually that way. Yesterday we made the drag to Bristol, clutching coffee. Since Friday the Academy has been busy with the people in the white training suits; they have been running up and down the stairs, packed with fears and hopes. They have been leaking sweat, and some tears. At the foot of the stairs the breaking-horse sits. At the top on the left is the thin room, perfect for queuing, where the theory questions linger and sometimes answers come even under the pressure of those secluded hopes, those self defeating fears. At the top on the right is the room with the wooden floor, the main show. Everything else is peripheral. Here, observed, you test yourself. If you were there, you know how you think you did. If your students were there, you know how you think they did. But the official stamp is withheld. Tuesday, the results release. …


Slow wind brushes on rain-soft earth and we hear none of it. We take breakfast at noon before walking to the river. Green threads stickle the field that was bare brown three days earlier. Pheasants and moorhens throw themselves up into flight. Down by the river grows an invasive weed, I've read the seed is edible. Mr and I take each a bag, indulge in some eco-friendly vandalism. We say how fast the water goes and look, where I crossed, was it last week, now it is thigh high, it would fill your boots and shove you. Two bags full and we are weary again. At home is coffee, some sneaked chocolate. Foraged goods are dropped in the larder cupboard, for experiments at later dates. I write. The others do… stuff. Food cooks, and goes wrong. Hungry, we eat and shrug. Next time, choose stock cube or salt not both: next time, get the water to boil before fresh pasta drops and sticks. Hey-ho. Outside the moon rises, circular, silver. We mooch about, mostly contented. Melon ice cream waits in the freezer. It&…


There is a sharp-toothed wind outside my house, calling. The noise drags through me like a spoon stirring curdled milk. Hedgerow berries are turned to moulded knots. Winter's entourage is waking. It will soon be Halloween… I think this year's story is ready. Not perfected, and full of risk. Not as stomach turning as it was, perhaps the story line is then exposed as rather banal. I care not. The risk is the point. One must bring the fight to the comfort zone. On the 31st, you can read and decide. Most of my attention is taken up with finishing The Novel (this is how I think of it now, though the next one will assume the same title, and the one after that, it does not signify a solo thing, it's a misuse of the definite article for psychological purpose.) I don't like to talk about The Novel. If you are talking about writing you are not writing. Why aren't you writing? I don't like to write about myself- too much self reflection is a hobbler. When I present my life sn…

Theatre Of The Toddler Absurd

Breakfast is served on an upturned box. One must sit sideways in a decommissioned car seat. It's not meant to be comfortable, nor complacent. It was funny but then we saw a cat. Everyone must regard the cat. The shop sells only elephants and giraffes. Not socks. If you ask for socks you will be treated as suspicious. Once upon a time, a monkey. And a sheep and cows are my cows, big cows. The monkey is paintin. Is paint, yes? Please keep up with this narrative or eyes will roll, proving your idiocy. Obedience costs one banana. Wellington boots can be put on and kicked off repeatedly. At some point they will put themselves on the correct feet. When it is time to chase a butterfly, it that time and no other. Is there any poo? Let's find a poo.

Local Colour

Harvest machines squeeze the lanes, drag the cut maize to store. Maize grows fast and feral, it must be chopped fast, it is the kind of crop that might make a run for it. It should be quiet then, down by the river, the field there is ploughed neat, lies waiting. Butterflies: scraps of bombazine caught on thorny stems. Brown earth, bared, corduroyed. Sky flows blue. In the hedge greens are vivid pips: the purplish sloes, the red hips. Beyond, below, the river, the bigger river has eaten up all the rain. Something slaps the water surface, unseen, unexplained. At the edge, where Dog's swim sets a Mallard drake to wing, one bright thing, turquoise shining, faceted, flies panoramic. Gorged eyes follow the field edge, the fatted twilled grass, the splay pattern seed tops. They find a spider, tucked in, patiently waiting to tuck in. It sits perfectly still for a photograph. Brown deer, paused, cashmere. White bobs of buttock flee against the hedged green: leaves quiver.

Finding Buddha

Rain falls all over the park. Sensibly booted feet walk the circumference of the old firs, scenting earthy pine. Across the grass roll big tractor wheels, the grass is kept short all year. On the green the yellow-brown patched leaves show bright. By the afternoon clouds are blown through, the sun reaches warm, a touch of summer: as though it says to us, do not forget me, I do not forget you. Daylight darkles. One star is up, is told a wish. Three quarters of a moon crowns silver white, from the belly of night. Backlit clouds hold out, soft as blankets. Somewhere underneath a car pulls to the road edge. The driver leans down to find what is tapping her boot heel. Finds one child's sock and one lost Buddha figurine.

Slow Fast Slow

Rain in grey this morning. Steam and dark coffee part ways as they leave the flask. The road is clear, the car steady. Here I am holding the hot cup, sat up, under the rain that falls like a coverlet. Is there such a thing as a car lie-in? Should have worn pyjamas.
Have I got my suit, my belt, my licence book, my training fee, my foot support, my water bottle? Yes. Will I check again in five minutes? Yes.
In my suit, belt tied, fee paid, book stamped, foot supported, in the hall. Revved! 200 bodies or more in here, all power and no breathable air. Sweat humidity 100%. Legs work. Arms work. Core muscles get tenacious. If the brain works no time to think of it. Put ideas in a thought-locker.
Drink from the sidelined water bottle. In the body's heat it feels cold. To the changing rooms, before sweat cools to fabric glue.
Rain in grey this afternoon. Steam and dark coffee part ways as they leave the flask. The road is busy, stomachs growl at it. A supermarket car park becomes a welcome sig…

An Artist Goes To The Shops

There was no one there, I thought. The shop walls were lined with wonderworks and an island of efficacious products occupied the central floor space. Customers could walk between the shelves in a circular route, dazzled by abundance. There would be something worthwhile and thirst quenching in this place. I stepped in, beginning my curious study on the right hand aisle. I knew there would be staff, of course, imagined that something of import had to be fetched or a kettle to be switched for boiling up water, leaving the counter empty for a short while. Meanwhile, there was no one there but me, I thought. Too abruptly and too close a face appeared and asked: 'Can I help you?' Were my nerves not steely I may have shrieked. I was reading shampoo ingredients, though this was not the main purpose of my visit. I put the bottle back on the shelf unashamed. I was being distracted because I was paying attention to my immediate world. Great art and happiness can stem from that meandering r…

12 Sets Of 10 Reps

The pasta machine is snowed under flour, it's cold outside, my wine glass is full of red. Remnants of washing up hang around the sink and there's still a dosh of espresso in my pink metallic flask. All day I clutched a tissue and rubbed a leaky nose till it was sore and dry. (It was my nose: I should make that clear.) I stayed in and typed and wore through some elbow skin. (One day I will have an ergonomic desk.) Enthusiasm for movement is extinct but there is espresso. Light the caffeine and stand well back! After an hour my class has a glow warm: enough to cure my cold.

At Feather Tor

They climb down the lea of the hill. No one walks here but us. Above is a pitch of wind, unearthly. Water pours. If a mist drops, can I navigate? Keep the sound of the water to your right. Out of the crooked gorse they walk, to a clear crossing, shallow, over flat stones. 'I find it!' Little Granddaughter says. On the other side of the river she tires and takes a shoulder ride. Crow-birds hop. Sheep poo is pointed out, and the flights of linnets from a circling Dog. They are babies, she tells Nam-ma, whispers; 'tiny-baby-birds' regards their flight with indulgent pride.

The Traffic At Goosey Fair

A zirconium string: the Plymouth road clusters with headlights, lures the quiet passenger up from wordless thoughts. Sparkle is created here, of a sort that will not rival any star: a mundane piece of loveliness: shine in a domestic setting. In the cars whole other lives drive by houselights of more lives. Something about that passing, that unknowingly shared point of time and space: the emotive commonplace in all lives. Up the Tavistock hill they drive, looking behind them at the axled bling of carnival rides, hear the faint squeals from Goose Fair.


We have been running free in the woods again, Dog and I, following knots of pathway. Around us trees bend and snake in deliberate shapes, brambles set sinuous ankle traps, fallen logs are my balance beams. Dog is puff and leaf-smacking wag: when she is gone on her chases I hear leaves break stem and land. Spiders throw galleon lines: they love to play Pirates. It doesn't have to make exact sense, it is what you want it to be; so we run and we are as we wish. If there is a means to break this spell I will never seek it.