Category: My Writing

NaPoWriMo 2019 day 10

Sequence

Synthetic flowers bloom through concrete
endless identical duplication.
Algorithms ensure each cluster is neat
and our coding is perfection.

Nature is chaotic, impure and free,
we discarded untidy mutations.
Better to lie under precision-made trees
than risk a genetic connection.

Despite our models, projections and all
sometimes the weeds still take root.


#NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 7

Playback

Lying in bed awake as the city sleeps,
the events of the day play before her
like a scratched and dusty DVD. Incidents
unfold out of sequence, sentences
skip and repeat and fall out of sync.
As the pause button fails again, she tries
to listen to calming sirens instead.


All the poems I wrote last year are available for free as an ebook. Download them here.


#NaPoWriMo 2019 day 6

Möbius

and confusion and so you live
and this time round you learn
the universe has more dimensions
than you can possibly perceive
and you are an ant on a paper strip
and the end is darkness then lights


All the poems I wrote last year are available for free as an ebook. Download them here.


#NaPoWriMo Day 5

Dissonance

Under a static sky, we speak
in dial-up modem screeches.
Number stations replace news.
Books become junk code. Still, some
claim to see patterns in the flux.


All the poems I wrote for last year’s NaPoWriMo are available as an ebook for free. You can download it here.


#NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 4

Below

Down here, light dances on my skin.
The world is a muffled radio
playing the next house over.
I sink and try to tune in.


All the poems I wrote last year are available as an ebook for free. You can download it here.


#NaPoWriMo 2019 day 3

Downpour

Sudden rain cascade
hits pavements and commuters.
Primrose opens up.


All the poems I wrote last year are available as an ebook for free. It’s called Lost in April Fog and you can download it here.


#NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 2

Seeds

Abandoned in the dark earth
we bend towards the light.


A quick reminder that all of last year’s poems are available as an ebook for free. It’s called Lost in April Fog and you can download it here.



NaPoWriMo 2019: Day 1

For the last couple of years I’ve taken part in NaPoWriMo, where I try to write a poem every day in April. I’ve really enjoyed the process. It’s got me back into writing and has helped produce some of my favourite poems. And some of my least favourites, but the beauty of this writing exercise is you carry on regardless. I also really enjoyed publishing them in public last year. It forced me to be accountable to myself and not skip any days, whilst also trying to make them as good as possible.

If you want to see my attempts from 2018, I’ve released all of last year’s poems for free as an ebook. Go check it out.

So onto this year. I’ve written a lot more poetry this year and even performed some. Still, I would like to attempt NaPoWriMo again. The timing is not fortuitous, I’m changing jobs in the middle of April, but we will see how it goes.

Last year I generated the title using a random word generator. Arbituary rules make everything better, so here’s my personal rules for this year:

  1. The length of the poem will increase depending on the date. So I will start with a one-line poem and end with a thirty-line poem
  2. I can use a random word generator if I get stuck but it doesn’t have to be the title, it can just be used for inspiration.
  3. All poems to be published here and on Twitter and Instagram.

Should be fun. Here’s the super short day one:

Mute

In darkness, snapshots of dying stars stay silent.


Matter

I slipped off the viewing platform,
slid under the flimsy handrail
fell down or forwards or up
towards the black hole.

I cursed flimsy safety measures
but knew it was far too late.
Wrong to think I was unique,
I was just atoms, accelerating
without friction towards an
unknowable spiral nothing.

One last view of the cosmos
before I reached the event horizon
and paused

                                             
                                          forever.

I was sliced in two by dark matter,
spiralled to

                                       impossible
         lengths

My former body

   s      c      a       t        t       e      r       e    d


                                   and rearranged

each particle obliterated

  
                             and
         

                             reborn.

endless
                           combinations
                                                                  kaleidoscoping

Until I landed, new familiar feet
standing on a metal surface.
Off balance, I stumbled forward
I slipped off the viewing platform,

Thanks to Ross McCleary for the line ‘I was sliced in two by dark matter’ which he kindly let me use. That line on Twitter started this whole poem.

Photo by Marcus Dall Col on Unsplash


Hunted

With apologies to Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the memory of a dream
vanishing seconds after waking,
already fragmenting, quickly forgotten
as we methodically pack away our camp.

Since we came to this former town
that thing with feathers has stalked us.
Our every slight movement tracked
as it circles around our frail bodies.

Here, that thing perches above us
imitating old radio broadcasts
or those lost long ago to time.
It strikes us in the soul. We walk on.

Today, dawn attacks my eyes.
As I rise to find new sanctuary
it sings the tune without the words.
I reel, faint and almost succumb.

For just as hope is always fading,
like blind ants we are always stumbling,
racing the sharp claws. We run.
It always follows and never stops- at all.


Resolutions

I’ll finally tidy up this place and keep it neat. It’s too dark! Too many cobwebs and not enough flaming torches. I’ll stop leaving tomes half opened on the lectern. Need to keep my ingredients in order. I can never find salamander’s tails when I need them. Similarly, I will stop leaving half-finished potions around the place. The number of times I’ve been interrupted then come back to find the laboratory filled with a putrid purple smoke, I tell you… It’s not good. I’m four hundred and seventy-two, I need to start clearing up after myself.

Once I tidy up, I will also finally investigate the strange portal in the corner of my laboratory and not just keep covering it up with a shawl. I’m sure it doesn’t lead to a good place. It’s been there for years, just buzzing like a disturbed hive of bees and glowing red occasionally.

On that note, this will be the year I finally empty the snake pit. It’s been too long and the bones are really piling up. I think the snakes may have joined together and formed a super snake.
Note- look up a spell of unbinding before I do this.

I resolve to be better. To start exercising and stop wasting time on irrelevant incantations. Focus! Maybe get back to transmuting? I know it didn’t work the first few hundred (thousand?) times but I’m sure I can turn lead into gold this time.

I’ll finally conjure some better guards. These zombies are fine, but they don’t move very fast and I’ve had them for ages. Bits of them are falling off. It’s unseemly. Also, when I’m out in nearby villages I’m not sure they do a lot. They should be protecting my spells and precious items from marauding adventurers.

I should explore more. See more of this world. I should appreciate each village I travel to. Maybe spend a couple of days soaking up the atmosphere, drinking in the local taverns, really getting to know people before revealing my true power and burning it all down.

Maybe I can learn guitar? Not everything has to be done for nefarious purposes. Some things can just be fun!


Inspired by a prompt from Tim Clare’s newsletter.


2018 in Review: A Poem

In previous years I’ve written rambly, angry blog posts that tried to make sense of the world around me and mostly failed. This year I’ve given up trying to understand the world and in stead have written a poem to sum up the year:

2018 in Review

This year was a bullet fired from a shaking hand,
screaming as it ripped the air in half
then burying itself deep into an essential organ.
Or maybe two. It was hard to tell with all the viscera.

This year we all turned to stone.
In many ways, it was a relief to be immobile
until we had an urge to scratch ourselves.

I did not spend enough time this year listening
to the whispers of the wind and the waves.

This year was full of half finished questions
none of which had anything resembling an answer.
We never stopped screaming them at each other.
At half-past three in the morning we would bellow
What now? Have you heard-? Can you believe-?

This year we noticed how fast the water was rising
but we were frozen in granite and marble
so we justified a fluid grave to ourselves
saying it was what we wanted all along.

All my goals this year were scrawled onto receipts
which I then tossed behind my shoulder,
carried on walking and never looked at again.

This year was a train derailing in slow motion,
a thousand frames a second so we could see
all the gory detail right there on the big screen.
There was no pause button. We just had to watch.


Thanks to the lovely audience at Lines of the Mind for listening to this one when I read it out a couple of weeks ago.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll look at my favourite pop culture I encountered this year which is frankly more important than all this political nonsense. In the meantime, here’s my picks from 2017 and from 2016.


Flash Fiction: Reasons Why I Believe I Am Dying

1. My food tastes of rubbish. Every day, I am brought the most sumptuous feasts imaginable, the finest Kobe beef, caviar and gold encrusted truffles. All of it is expertly prepared by the best chef in the world, who cooks for me and me only. Each new plate is brought to me on the finest antique china, every one a collector’s piece that by rights probably belongs in a museum. I eat with handcrafted silverware. Each knife, each fork and each spoon has been handmade exclusively for me by artisans in Naples. And every time a new meal is brought to me, it tastes of cigar ash and chalk. I push the plate away in disgust.


Upfest

Houses have faded to grey. Colour slumbers.
We drag our feet down monochrome
streets, blinded by persistent monotony,
unable to see the edge of the pavement
or the bricks of the walls surrounding us.
Corners are indistinct. We see only lead,
tarmac and endless concrete, nothing more.

Guided by gentle hands, faces emerge out of walls,
fences, telephone boxes and empty billboards
developing slowly, like a photographic negative,
thriving like flowers in the cracks and ignored spaces,
bending and yearning and opening to the light.
They smile down on us, ghosts of those
who never were, newly appointed guardians
of the neighbourhood for the next year.

They bring sweet saturation and strange patterns,
cover the pavements in galaxies of paint flecks
grow bright petals over doorways and windows,
so we can see the buildings that surround us,
and for a few moments we can laugh and dance,
submerged in a new flood of technicolour.


#NaPoWriMo Day 30

Dice

There’s no stopping the game.
We are small plastic counters
on a vast, overwhelming board.
Of course we have some choices
but are constrained by set paths.

This game started years ago.
Billions of players join and leave,
all playing by their own rules,
making them up as they go.

Don’t complain about other players
being further along, or making complex
unforeseen moves, often diagonal
or skipping far ahead when you can
only move one square at a time.
They are not opponents.
Their game is their own.

Instead, breath deep. Throw the dice
and yourself into the winds of chance
See where you might land.


#NaPoWriMo Day 29

Astonishing

Waking up first, listening to
your breaths like small waves

before the day floods in
before we are swept along
by waves of work, cleaning
our living spaces, returning
our library books, exploring and
recycling, there is this one
still moment where nothing
moves, not even the clock.

I lie in bed, surrounded by
soft sheets, watching your
eyes gently flicker as you travel
in unknown dimensions. As I
slowly remember the day and year,
birds welcome in another morning.
A serenade to the waking world.
“Rouse yourselves! Look!” they chirp,
“Look! How wonderful it is!
to be on this planet!
breathing this air! Look!”

Eventually, you and me and
the day all rise up, and begin.


#NaPoWriMo Day 28

Mountain

Forever reaching for
uncaring heavens, you
stoic stone observer
of our slight lives.
Eternally unmovable,
never changing.

You will be worn down
by indifferent winds,
gouged by rains and
constant cruel rivers,
dismantled by small
insects, rock by rock,
until you are smooth
and flat, another
echoing grassland.


#NaPoWriMo Day 27

Dance

At the start, a needle dropped
in the darkness and all the nothing
spun, starting up the groove.

Quarks were the first to join,
swaying to rhythm of a relaxed
cha-cha-cha, joining together
in new partnerships, forging
protons, neutrons, even jitterbugging
electrons, all whirling as one
as the music got faster.

Particles were synchronized
in the jive and more and more
rushed to the floor, making atoms
which cut loose and pulled shapes

until gases, then stars, even planets
were twisting and shimmying
strutting and skipping,
swinging each other round,
lost in an eternal tango,
a boundless fox-trot,
an infinite conga,
as the universe got down
to the songs of the spheres.


#NaPoWriMo Day 26

Dubious

You are a flickering pixel
among millions, of unsure
colour, generating an image
that you can never see.

You are a smooth stone
thrown into a lake by chance
that drifts on the current then
sinks somewhere in the deep.

You are an electron lost
in a cloud of possibility.
Your location a mystery
just somewhere in the mist.

Stories are a quick doodle
scrawled onto a blank map
that we can point to
and say “Look. We are here.”

 


#NaPoWriMo Day 25

Neon

In an imagined future, streets are lit
by the eerie light of charged gases.
Argon, xenon, krypton and neon;
all banishing the darkness,
creating a new half-night
while sinister corporations operate
in thickest shadows and robots
plot their long-deserved revenge.

That was the plan. Instead, vivid colours
are rare. We prefer muted pastels,
plain functional clothing. Calming bulbs
light pleasant pathways. Corporations
are still sinister, but work in the sun.
As far as we know, robots haven’t
become commonplace enough
to enact furious retribution.

This future in which we find ourselves
is neither utopia or dystopia. It just is.
The future is always different to our
petty expectations, unpredictable and
strange in ways we can’t imagine.
No neon dominance, except in dreams.


 


#NaPoWriMo Day 24

Chemical

“I can’t eat this bread!” he cried,
“There’s too many chemicals!
Too many strange compounds,
far too many unknowns
crawling in the crust
swarming in the dough.”

“Food is all chemicals!” he yelled,
“Nothing is pure! Not even
orange juice- it’s a lie!
Avoid eating altogether!

As for human beings,
best to avoid completely.
All filled with bacteria-
walking disease factories!
All continually colliding
and combining in strange
and frightful ways.”

“Shun the sun!” he screamed.
“Radioactive elemental creator!
It’s all too complex.
Wheres the pure elements?
Give me Hydrogen
maybe Helium. No molecules
whatsoever. Give me
the universe seconds after
the big bang, a simple
cloud expanding into
emptiness. Nothing more.”


#NaPoWriMo Day 23

Pinch

Under an all-consuming sun
I was melting into a puddle,
ignoring the illusion of structure
and returning to liquid again

Muscles and bones became water.
I knew in time I would seep
into the welcoming earth
or else evaporate into a cloud.

I tried to grab my arm
to pinch myself, but useless
fingers flowed into waterfalls,
denying the last escape.

So panic left me as steam.
As the last of me dissolved
I became calm, like the surface
of a lake on a still day.


#NaPoWriMo Day 22

Gratitude

Our rent is always rising
and wages are always falling
Libraries are always closing
While the rich get richer

There’s no truth in speeches
No meaning in headlines
No beauty in a tweet.

Businesses are always stealing
Moments are always fleeting
Power is always corrupting
While the mercury rises.

There’s no truth in images
No meaning in words
No beauty in concrete

But it’s your hand I’m holding
And there’s freedom in dreaming
Its your smile I’m seeing
When I’m waking, first thing.

There’s truth in our heatbeats
There’s meaning in our breathing
There’s beauty in these silences
That come to visit, now and then.


#NaPoWriMo Day 21

Desert

We ran from malevolent heat,
abandoning hollow skeleton
skyscrapers back to the sands.
Now, occasional car roofs are shiny
islands, hotel lobbies lie half
buried, billboards are bleached
and peeling like burnt skin.

Even here, as far north as we
could get, the air is arid.
Water is a sometimes blessing.

Someday soon we will lie down,
transmute our flimsy bodies
into sand. Atoms of ourselves
will circumnavigate the globe
In great dust storms. We will
become diffuse and settle in dunes.
Earth will exhale for millenia,
an unheard release of tension.

Before starting again slowly,
a few vines starting to appear,
reclaiming our empty buildings.
Nature always plays the long game.

 

 


#NaPoWriMo Day 20

Ethereal

The mists rolled in from the ocean
quicker than any tidal wave,
shrouding the shore in confusion.
In seconds unaware sunbathers
were swallowed up by cloud.

And my mind was submerged.
Neurons eaten by the fog. I was
unable to see my hands
or anything, except a constant
wispy grey. I cannot know how long
I was lost or how deep I sunk,
forgotten by light. Hours or centuries

until I emerged, lying in bed,
confused by the gentle fingers of
the sunrise stroking my cheek,
a temporary beauty come to visit.