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.

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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.

Sudden Rain on an Empty Bus

This week’s been  an interesting week. The comedy performance went quite well, and the hours of writing, re-writing and then reading it all to myself in front of a mirror really paid off.

I’ve been also setting myself some amibitious targets in writing, both in short stories and poetry, to the result that I have nothing new to present, again. However, we’re definitely getting progression, and I hope to have something to present by Mid Week. Amongst my projects are:

  • A Byron-esque poem for  a friend.
  • Much more poetry connected with my current life in Barcelona
  • A Fantasy short story
  • A short story about an old man starting a new life.
  • The “Enrage” poem I mentioned a while ago to go with “Disentangle”
  • The “Stairlift” poem.
  • A riddle poem called “Tease”.

For now, I’ll just post a poem from last year… it’s another poem about being on a bus in Barcelona, like this one.

I want to write more about life in Bareclona, but it’s a tricky business. Poetry works on the fine detail much better than on the bigger picture. It’s about density of expression, not density of subject. Also, when life is very day-to-day ordinary, and I’m not experiencing any strong emotion about teaching or biking to work, or cooking, then it’s hard to get into the spirit of a poem about it. However, I think this last point is more conquerable. Also, I plan on writing about specific people I know in Barcelona instead, as they’re more focussed. Hopefully in the end, bits of Barcelona will be relfected through disconnected poetry.

I also suspect it’ll be easier to write about once I’m somewhere else, and memory’s power of selectivity will tell me what to write about. Her’s the poem.

barcelona sun rain

Sudden Rain on an Empty Bus

Minutes earlier, the morning bus
was warm and heavy like the day,
windows open so the press of
hot breath and smells could escape.

Now, a rush of cold spirals in.
Travellers duck out into the clicks and spray –
umbrellas pop, hoods up, and some run.

Those unshowered who left their sweat-skin here
are showered now; hair glistens
with a new damp, a cleansing sheen.

The bus stands empty, still clinging
to the scent of its custom. Cloyed,
my nose catches a passing swirl of wet concrete.
I don’t close the window;

though I’m not cold, I shiver in shelter,
the taste of rain on my dry lips,
flecks of spray in my hair,
as my grey view blurs with water.