Tag Archives: prose

Ghost her own home

She bumps in different rooms, she bumps in different worlds, different time zones, different countries, different beds. The midnight footsteps. The doors that open and close. The cold, always the cold when she’s around. And then the laughter, warmth on another plain, audible through this membrane, audible and awful and terrible.

Like in the beginning, she gives me sleepless nights. I hear her in the kitchen at odd hours; water runs; she makes toast. It’s dark. It’s three in the morning.

There’s excorcism in arguments, my accusations, her threats and abuse. I start to count my blessings, each and every one I’ll leave behind. Existence streamlined. Just to walk away, let her haunt someone else.

Midnight winter woods

It’s a wild night, that much I confess to myself, setting out in hat and coat and scarf. Too wild for the likes of me, the sane and the still-too-sober, to be out of doors, too late to be wandering the streets, far too late to be stepping out and into the woods. And as the light of the last street lamp flickers and disappears behind one too many trees, my pluck goes with it, another flame extinguished whether by lack of oxygen under the heavy midnight drape, or by the thumb and forefinger of the forest that says, simply, no.

But I was called, away from the hearth and my glass by a sensation that said seek, a call to a void that said find me. It came in the clink of glasses and the rhythm of merriment. Out the door it giggled in the gurgle of the rain just-stopped, flowing in the gutter. And so it led me away from my home, through the village and out.

The trees offer no respite, from neither cold nor gale. Ignoring the thunder that has moved on to rumble in the distance, the distillation of rain through the trees takes me back in time to wet me with a storm that I happily sat-out in the warmth of the pub. The wind whips between trunks and branches to lash about my limbs, to take my hat and fling it far – and at that I find the folly of my endeavour. Emboldened by a drink that lies and says I’m sober, that stokes my nerve, that builds me up and will, I know it, knock me over.

Now home is in my mind. Out the dark and the wet, back to a house with warm winter glows, the comfort of my wife’s scolding tongue. But which way?

Odd worship

Previously posted in part, entitled “there’s something about watching”.


Smoke fug hugs him, tugs at him, its fingers linger in threadbare cardigans, as he shuffles the scuffed trail across the room. Burnt toast and mug of tea to find space amongst cigarette cemetery, and the death rattle of countless martyred ballpoints choking their last dreams and declarations over stained sheaf.

This desk is wombed, cocooned in a wall cavity, plasterboard removed, wood frame remains and then just honest brick. Honest brick honeycombed. Twenty four seven he is drone. His glasses removed, red-ringed eyes rubbed raw, bloodshot, mind half-cocked, semi-detached. Assimilated in his chair. To watch her through the wall, her, in there.

Outside is bitter cold and just light, white under frost and hazed through fog. People move about on this Tuesday, this work day, to offices and factories, to nine to five. This, his inside, is nine to nine to nine to nine  all-time. ‘Career choice’ (with air fingers and in reverse order): philosopher, detective, deity.

For her it is admiration, worship perhaps, to be creation, moulded melded bolted welded both organic and utterly man-made. 
Not a job but a calling, to have them falling, head over heels over her, over each other, desperate to please, to be the perfect lover. For their whispered words and bowed heads to wash against her sure as against the shore, leave her unpierced, but different from before.

She is risen, raising in sheets, like breezes blown in sails to fill to full flow and find steady rise to gale. Footprints on the floorboards, that creak and ease to carry too towards, to doors, to wash nocturne flaws. For it is here alone that she is her, alone.

He sits with headphones, chin in hand in God’s swivel-throne. Ignores digits and dials, the pinhole the way to watch crocodile smiles. Instead he rifles, fingers idle or bayonets to probe, to send half-written notes and doodled motes drifting to the floor.

Undercover, covert on his desk, hidden ‘neath scribbles disguised as mess, a long-forgotten promise from his Miss, that this is his, this, his odd worship.

Off Island

It started with a childhood pride for writers who share my name, we got Shakespeare afterall, and Blake, and then Golding crashed an aeroplane and left a wound in my innocence, a burning trail half-a-mile wide through the jungle of my mind – that plane that went down in my youth, that plane that disappeared from the radar without notice, and went down in my youth.

It told me to do what I can. It said never trust your fellow man. It said dig in and prepare to run. It said “I’d expect more from English boys.” Well expect away, we’re nought but animals, all of us, just, some in denial. But that aeroplane tore from the sky and left a scar that two-and-a-half decades later leads to me and leads me too, a leash on this beast, a submissive streak half-a-mile wide. 

And on that island she stepped, all white gloves and expecting respect. She found the scar, the blackened ground and splintered stumps between which bluebells had begun to grow. She walked the trail, at once boots and heels, from my brain, my throat, my heart and gut and cock. She stroked the twisted wreckage and stoked that beast again, she took handfuls of hair and had her words bite my ear – “whatever it takes to get you off.”

Up on The Downs

A girl sits under skylark and buzzard, her shoes and knees scuffed with chalk dust, she tosses a stone to the millpond. She is beautiful but this doesn’t matter. The wind in the wheat and the distant hum of the contented dairy herd. Below the hills sits the world. A world of avenues that look like hedgerows from up here. A world of toy villages with silent church spires. A world of kissing gates in the twitterns. She tilts her head and sends a mercury glint of glass rushing along hidden country roads. Up here just the rolling green, the song and the sky. Up here, stiles on broad tracks.

She tosses a stone and watches that perfect circumference expand, touch the edge and bounce back, meeting its children coming the other way. This is practiced and perfect.

The kestrel on the fence post stares. He tilts his head as if he’s a songbird, considers her, then he’s off, to hover swoop and abort, hover swoop dive and abort, until a dive takes him in to the long grass and out of sight.

There’s a horse that gallops but never goes anywhere, he doesn’t need to, from up here everyone can see him. And people will come to see him. The horse means the hills belong to her. So she tosses another stone and watches the ripples slow their children.

Morning

I enjoy the morning in coastal towns, this is not an Instagram thing, it is not sunrises and picturesque people sipping lattes outside artfully independent coffee shops with watercolour filters thrown across the whole scene.

I enjoy the morning in coastal towns, the morning after paintings by Atkinson Grimshaw, the mornings that start as early as it’s light enough to inspect the streets.There’s a sense of survival, of having made it through another night, a sense of wishing to check, to see, it’s all still there; that the defences weren’t breached; that the pier didn’t wash away.

I enjoy the morning in coastal towns, regardless of the weather we seem to need to sweep away the sea’s detritus. Half a mile from the beach and there’s seaweed in the streets. In the morning when we see what she’s done, what she’s given us and what she’s taken, in the dark. In the morning when she may still be rumbling on or may have calmed and slept. In the morning when we’re just pleased to be beside her.