Monday, 29 September 2008

Shiny New Diner

The wood all polished, varnished,
licenses and certificates hung on bright-
white walls, only two or three handprints
on the window.

The TVs in the corner showing top 40
music videos are flatscreens now. The
servers' uniforms are cleaner, blond
hair fluffier and I can even imagine
them smiling.

Morning eaters walk through, starved
looks on gaunt faces while I sip orange
juice and check the clock; all polished
wood, roman numerals and accuracy.

25 minutes and I've still not received
my eggs on toast.
project update: now the question is-- is it easier to fix a 5,000 word story with lots going on, or to generate roughly 3,000 newer, better words?
I'm leaning towards the latter.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Claustrophobia (flash fiction)

Every morning was a race for Harold. As soon as his alarm went off the walls started closing in; the white plaster walls, the photograph of him and his mother at the Uni Graduation Ceremony. That seemed so long ago, now, he thought as it edged towards him steadily, while to his back the window and photograph he’d taken of ducks on a pond pushed his bed forward. On slow days he had to jump out the window to avoid being crushed between his bed and the wall. His bed was battered and bruised; the frame long ago splintered to bits and the mattress could bend in ways his bones could not. Every day he grabbed a tie and trousers from the floor beside his mattress and rushed to the door. Every night the room was back to its original size. He’d tried to sue his landlord for breach of contract but the claims adjuster told Harold that was clearly ridiculous.
So Harold had no choice but to save up for a better place. He was doing alright, working in a call center, but the hours were long and some mornings he barely made it out of the window, rolling in his pyjamas on to the garden before the room was pinched tight. One day he sprained his ankle jumping out and spent the next week crashing at his friend’s place until his foot recovered. No one believed him, but they humoured him because they liked his mustache. He got a promotion at his job and went out to celebrate, drinking shot after shot of gin. When he got home he was so drunk he forgot to set his alarm and was crushed to death the very next morning.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Its What We Writers Do

For Jen, on her return to the United States

I suspect I will spend
life watching my favourite people
get on planes
then writing about it.

We all have our themes.
It’s what we writers do.

When you go, you take a piece of Swansea with you.
Sure. You aren’t from here either.
But I see people as signifiers, metaphors;
chapters in a book I’ll write later.

Who else will remember the drunk old man
in the corner of Uplands Tav shouting about how
we were too young to know anything
and the volumes of eachothers poetry we
sliced up and re-sected ‘til they were done?

This won’t become a list of inside jokes
because that would be too easy, my
crooked grin at the look on your face as you
tell me I’m busted.

When you go I will write something;
its what we writers do.
And, after all,
there are airplanes involved
and I’ve gotta stick to my

When you go,
I’ll buy you a drink you don’t want,
Make a few jokes too many,
They’ll be pretty tasteless
And you’ll tell me
I’m busted.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

boots and jacket (i.m. Jimmy Henry)

Brown-red floors and piles of clothes
to either side, the 1990 Michael Bolton X-large T-shirt
Not for sale.
Beside the velvet embroidered Elvis and Jesus tapestries
The racks of jackets and button downs and ties and
Forties-era suit-coats he kept trying to get 19 year olds
To buy
“yeah, you don’t want anyofthisnewfangled hipster
Bullshit Madison avenue crap getsomethinwithclasss”

After he left town—some said England
Some San Francisco, some New York
And some said he never really left at all
just found an alley doorway and never came out-
The space was turned to a hiking and recreation
Supply store with tasteful cartoons of mountains
On its rounded side.

One time while I was looking for old t-shirts
Or something or other, Jimmy looked around quick
And said “yeah, you’reagoodboy. Watch the store while
I go get a sandwich.”

That day I found a pair of boots for twelve dollars
A couple of cowboy shirts and a dusty green jacket.

Best damn shirt, boots and jacket I ever bought.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Tarts and Vicars

a fine day for a de-frocking
the whole town agrees, reporters
got their notepads,
it’s bound to happen soon.
line up the priests line up style
karma for Salem, karma for Sunday School
you in those fishnets, me with my
first button undone all of us
ready to make a big show of it
throwing darts at the scapegoat dartboard,
excommunication by raffle ticket. a parade
of naughty nuns breathing fire into
judges’ ears, a two for one deal
at the county hanging.
and smokers
will be shot in the back in the new world
order, the only two things left that are
bad for you.
we cheer. laugh. dance. get woozy
and gropey, enough of us coming to
call it an orgy and you ask if I’ll take you
in your slit dress
right there on the altar and I’m thinking
that might still be a little bit far, drunk off
the wine from the ceremonial chalice
we go home, fuck
and piss blood

Monday, 1 September 2008

September First.

Summer may not end officially for a few weeks, but with the onset of September hopefully there will be less whinging about how it "doesn't feel like summer." Because it isn't.

Speaking of: The Summer Project Which Never Had an Awesome Name.
I think I'll continue this until I've turned in my dissertation or at least until I have to focus all my efforts on editing. The posting of poems here weekly has kept me at writing and has encouraged me to dig out and dust off a few pieces that I'm a lot happier with now. I've probably produced almost as many poems I'm satisfied with in this three month period as I did during the two terms of Poetry Class. This isn't a comment on the class- it was great- but I do think just now some of the things I learned are catching up with me. Or the groove is more consistent. Or perhaps in two months I'll hate everything I wrote here. Either way, it'll continue at least for another month or so. Thanks for the advice and encouragement I've got from those of you who've been reading.

As for my disseration: I've got some ideas, not as far into them as I'd like. What I have so far are the following finished stories (titles subject to change:
My Ugly Twin A first person account of a deteriorating relationship between identical twins. Lots of unreliable narration.
Seagulls Flash fiction I posted here about the guy and his hat.
Bob and Janet Beat the Light or Have You Tried the new FenTech Navigation System? A couple gets stuck at a red light for twelve hours. You learn lots of stuff about their relationship, blah blah, characterisation. This is the one my professor likes. At the end they die.
I'll Only Fuck You If You Keep Your Mouth Shut or I Was a Sexy Teenage Cannibal and All I Got Was a Bit Part in an Ed Wood Film The teenage son of the aforementioned Bob and Janet and his girlfriend are gonna, you know. Do it. But they can't, because the son is too bummed out that his parents are dead. Also because the last time they saw him was when they walked in on him and his girlfriend about to, you know. Do it.

Other stories I've got in mind: Letters from the Third Checkout Line A girl who works at Tesco and has one of those adopt-a-orphan things going on (through the mail) meets a friendly hippie who tries to get her to join his protest organisation. Comparing/contrasting different types of political action and personal responsibility. I also think the organisation ends up spurring the apocalypse in the final story entitled. . .
The World Can End Just Let Me Finish My Pint First A fairly weak, not very well organised group decides to initiate the apocalypse here in Swansea. You'd think they'd be easily stopped, but people really just can't be bothered. A few try, of course, but they're not getting paid for this, you know? Terror and destruction reign, but what you gonna do, innit?