Apologies, Readers.

So.

It’s been a while.

How are you?

I’ve been moving house, packing, finding resources for my summer camp, etc. etc. I’ll skip the details, but I’ve genuinely been very busy.

At 1am tonight, I’m off to Madrid by overnight bus. Then I’ve got two days of tourism and holidays, before I scoot to the North West coast on another ridiculously long bus journey, and teach teenagers for 3 weeks.

The good news is, that while that is bound to be a busy and stressful time too, it is also just 9-2 work, so I’ll have evenings and afternoons to get a bit of writing done. I’ve got something written by my tiny-co-author to edit up, and that blessed serial short story I keep promising. Perhaps that’s one step too organised for me. But hey, deadlines are part of an authors life, so I should start respecting them.

So whatI’m saying is, sorry y’all for leaving you storyless, but I’ll be back, probably on Sunday, with my twice-weekly updates.

In the mean time,  here’s a new favourite poem of mine:

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Let Me Die a Youngman’s Death

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Let me die a youngman’s death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death

When I’m 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party

Or when I’m 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber’s chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides

Or when I’m 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one

Let me die a youngman’s death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
‘what a nice way to go’ death

Roger McGough

The Moment

Argh, blog, must I update you while I have so much work to do with exams and reports and planning the next month and a half of my life? Not to mention organising an Intercambio nights, some flights, and finding resources to teach to 16-year-olds who think they know English but don’t? That expression “not to mention” is odd, isn’t it? The act of using it means that you are about to mention…. I won’t tax myself on that too much now, though, I’m busy.

Yes, that serial short story will come. I know which one I’m writing now, and have tentatively divided it into three parts. But I spent so long faffing with the other two stories I’ve got practically nothing done on it.

Instead, like pork loins to chasing wolves, I shall throw a poem at you to save myself from your fangs.

It’s called “The Moment”, and rose out of a conversation with an old friend. I find the conversation part of the poem clunky, so I will gladly take suggestions on how to improve it, as when I took it to my Creative Writing meeting, I didn’t get many comments on that part.

The Moment

“But everyone gets the Moment!
The sticky time.” “Sticky?”
“Sticky eyes, something circling
in the stomach. a something-
could-happen Moment.”
“Something?” “Between us, or
whoever, depending. It happens.”

“And that was ours?” “It was.”
“I hardly remember it.”
“It didn’t happen, though.”
“What didn’t?” “Anything.”
For the greater good
of our relationship

on that hill, in the dark,
we looked at each other,
by that cemetery, the jokes,
our separate thoughts
separately twining, and hoping
they were twining in the
other’s thoughts. Our minds
beyond our conversation,
on each other’s cautious eyes.

And we walked on, after
the Moment, we walked on.

Heat is Hot. (“How Fire Licks”, “Avant-Garde”)

Heat is hot. Did you know this? And not in the sexy way. I’ve heard the expression “it sucks me dry”, and maybe it does some places, but Barcelona has a humid heat, much worse this year than last. I think here, I sweat all my energy out.

And then, this evening, I went to a comedy meeting, and tried to be funny for 3 and a half hours, which robbed me of what little energy I retained.

I had the grand old scheme of writing a short story in serial. In fact, I have 2 stories that could be candidates for this. Two stories that I’ve plotted out, and know what’s going to happen, so I’m just missing words on a page. And, now that I think about it, a third that sitting there, in need of a dustin’ and a postin’.

However, since none of these has more than 2 coherent consecutive paragraphs, that will have to wait, and today, I’ll dredge the old cupboards for something else. Pictures to follow when I’m more awake or not busy (i.e. not tonight or tomorrow)

I’ve dredged, and I’ve got two shorties for you.

How Fire Licks

How Fire Licks
How Fire Licks

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The salamander’s tongue is

dry as it licks

at the blackened edges

that shrivel, shrinking

from its burning touch

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like your thin tongue

licks your soft lips

– but can’t reach your

smouldering eyes.

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And secondly, a little silly:

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Avant-Garde

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A poem aboutbook page stone
writing a poem?
It’s been done.

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How about a
poem about
a poem about
writing a poem?
How novel.

A novel?
No.

To Jo

This time I’ve tried to produce something which usually I fail at…. rhyming poetry. The first thing everyone thinks of when you say the word “poem”, rhyming poetry is great fun, but not as easy and the free verse I usually excrete.

To add to that, I’ve gone for a rhyme scheme that follows the style of  “Don Juan”, by Byron. While “Don Juan” was in iambic pentameter, I’ve chosen tetrameter, which is 8 beats to a bar, as I found it easier to work with. I’ve still not got the scansion perfect, but when I read it aloud, if I rush through a “she” and a couple of other words, it fits. Kinda.

This is clearly a skill I need to work on, though, as it has literally taken me months (of pestering from Jo) to get this done. Working to a commission, too, seems not to be my strong point.

On that note, if you want to commission a poem from me on any subject, email me, or post a message in the comments below, and I’ll get it done for you, probably in 6 months or less.

This is being written from the floor of my balcony on a sunny afternoon. Around 4 o’clock, the sunlight streams through the half-closed blinds in my bedroom, casting a kaleidoscope of leopard ‘spots across the walls… and making my computer (and myself) overheat. I’ve got my third comedy gig appearance this evening, so I can’t wait for a cooler part of the day.

So here is the poem, simply called “Jo,” and it tells the true tale of how I got bored of her talking about her weird diet(s) and started listening in on a more exciting conversation in the other corner, with amusing consequences.

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Me and Jo at Sitges in February
Jo and I at Sitges in February

Jo

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So I shall tell a tale of Jo,
a Scot whose heart is proud and true,
who can at times be rather slow,
with plans she doesn’t follow through,
she’s relentless in her quest, you know,
for love and fun and derring-do,
This “lady”‘s lived in Barcelona
For as long as I have known her.

Our tale begins one Saturday
a day fixed in my memory
the day that I am pleased to say
I first met Jo, (and she met me)
We all thought a close café
would let us chat and we could see
if we were colleagues after classes
or friends! (to good friends! Charge your glasses!)

So to a cafe on Arago street
is where we turn to set the stage
where Saturday teachers come to eat
we chat away – her name, his age
and, introductions soon complete
I quickly turn young Jo to rage
‘tween talks of drugs, or diets and food
I choose the former – rather rude!

Jo is ignored, and her teeth grind
with fury, for rejection cuts
a devious revenge she’ll find
she’ll wait a while, her mouth she shuts,
then she hears my voice behind,
“Supplemento terraza? What’s that?” “Nuts.”
(And never have we heard again
such wit explosion from her brain)

As I digest what I am told
Jo finds the old adage is rot –
revenge, she learns, when NOT served cold
tastes great – she likes it piping hot
and I, thinking her good as gold
and glad to meet a polyglot,
I trust her for her kind translation
– the seeds sown for humiliation.

Imagine, then, the barman’s look
when I ask for the “supplemento”
While Jo a mental picture took
of her success, a cruel memento
For she had read me like a book
and caused me great embarrassment – oh!
I turned in shock, her grin grew wide,
“It’s what you pay to sit outside!”

tatoo roseFrom this, a lasting friendship grows,
and when we meet, we spark and fizz
And we have never come to blows.
The moral of this story is
That after all, it really goes
to show what starts these amities
and as her tattooed foot reveals
her heart speaks how it really feels.

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P.S. It took me bloody ages to get the layered effect on the verses. I hope you appreciate the work I go to for you all. Grumble grumble.

Scribbles

Good news, I’m healthy again. What is more, I have a new keyboard for my laptop. It’s a  bit clunky on the keys, and I have to use a bit more force, but it works. Which is ace, as my laptop is slowly dying on me, and I’ve been doing most of my recent typing from my 5-year-old one…. which isn’t as bad as it sounds, as without internet, there’s less to distract me.

Today, I’ve finished off the comic Byron-style poem I was writing for my friend, but I can’t post that here until she’s seen it first, so I’ll just find you a few little tidbits.  You’ll hopefully also be pleased to know that the short stories are coming along gradually, and so they should emerge soon.

Here’s an old poem that I wrote when I was writing my final exams at university…. yes, it’s that old, but I can’t bring myself to change a word, so it must be “finished”.

Exam

aexam pen

Like oil compacted for aeons

under the earth, then realised in a torrent,

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so years of learning and weeks of cramming

find their vent on the white page,

aaipressure of knowledge released

aaiin a flood of ideas and ink

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aaiamongst a quiet desert of scribbles.

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And, if you’re hankering for something a little more recent, here’s a little Haiku riddle I wrote on the metro last night.  It’s called “y/í”

y/í

A word to describe

colourful art by that man;

his melty lizard.

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Good luck with that one. See you Midweek, hopefully with my Byron-style poem.

P.S. You can answer the riddle in the comments, if you want. If you want to have a go at it first, don’t read the comments!

Storm Vilanelle

I’m ill. It’s a sick day off work, and it’s ludicrously hot. My flatmate, too, are coughing and spluttering. So, as my older brother is visiting tomorrow, I’ve got to get something up today.

I’ve always been really fond of the Vilanelle as a form, mostly because I’m rubbish at them, and I like a challenge, but also because I like trying to find the poetry in it’s repetitions. This poem is an example of a Vilanelle that I remain unhappy with, but I thought if I post it, maybe I’d get ideas to improve it. I’ve had a few, but I still need more. Also, maybe it’ll provoke me to write more vilanelles. For now, I’ll post and then go back to bed.

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Storm Memories

orange storm

Storm Memories

I will remember this in years to come,
this storm that cracks a whip across the land
and each storm holds the memories of the last –

when over a wet yellow crust, we run
raining pelting the dunes and freezing our hands
I will remember this in years to come.

We sheltered in the caravan, and watch for masts
out at sea, by the lightning out beyond the sand
and each storm holds the memories of the last.

The hot French summer, the air con hum,
We leave the vines when the grey clouds expand
I will remember this in years to come

The night airs warmth and wet rush past
the wooden shutters, the hot wood fanned
and each storm holds the memories of the last.

So now, tonight, the thunder like a drum
the orange glows, our kiss goes as you planned
I will remember this in years to come
and each storm holds the memories of the last.