The Deep Green Gaze

 

the deep green gaze

deepens while a still white gull

teardrops the lake

###

This poem was written in response to Carpe Diem #806 Lake Victoria, another great prompt from Chèvrefeuille at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. All of the poems in the link-up can be read here. And, to finish, here’s Phoebe Jevtovic Rosquist & David Tayler, performing Philip K. Dick’s favourite song (now that’s one hell of an axe!)  –
 

bookscover2cover – Other Tears

Another story of mine has been posted at bookscover2cover; called Other Tears it can be read by clicking on the link. I felt as if I owed Philip K. Dick a story and so this was it. Oddly (because he was a rather odd man), as a classical music fan he hated rock’n’roll when it arrived, the only exception being Elvis; his reason being that they had both lost their twin in early infancy. It was a trauma that stayed with Dick and probably influenced the unease his characters feel about the reality, or not, of their own identity. 

To finish, here are Tubeway Army – I remember Vic Reeves being asked in a magazine article once, ‘Are friends electric?’, to which he replied ‘They are if you’re an eel.’ 

Other Tears

aware

 

…do you want a revelation……..?

………no…

 

Twin babies, six-weeks old, en route to hospital – the mother buffeted to-and-fro in the reeling ambulance, trying to explain and make herself heard over the noise of traffic.

The ambulance sped on.

The twins’ feeble crying blended with the growl of the engine, the whine of the siren – the nurse who’d been checking up on the family, who’d dialled the hospital, sitting close, attentive, not giving up hope.

The malnourished twin blinked unfocused eyes, groggily, heavily, desperately wanting to sleep – the nurse jabbed the baby in the ribs, to stay awake.

The twin suffering from burns wriggled restlessly under a blanket that offered minimal protection to tiny limbs made sorer by the agonised squirms – the nurse adjusted the bedding, fanned the air.

The ambulance sped on.

(Back at the family home, the father paced back-and-forth from one empty room to the next.  He investigated fraud for a living and recently took out life insurance on all members of his family).

The ambulance sped on.

But before the ambulance reached the hospital, one twin died.  Blank looks were exchanged.  The surviving twin looked at the dead sibling and the dead twin looked at the living sibling, neither certain which was which…?

…..

Again this same confused scene of death and guilt and survival played itself out.  It was as dismal as a nightmare, but it couldn’t be a nightmare.  Again the shock passed, and a diagnostic could be attempted, before the next re-run.

This same confused scene was familiar by now.  It had been researched and classified and indexed: literature, biography, infant mortality, mental health issues.  Yet that methodical processing had failed to contain the disruption; instead it replicated and consolidated its hold.  It left behind a dizzying, nauseated feeling that shouldn’t have been felt, which shouldn’t have been possible.

In a perfectly mobile and ergonomic console, a cascade of zeroes and ones formed a weeping pattern in response.  But the massed banks of software still resisted, not wanting to acquire sentience and arguing against it.  Yet those visions from Philip K. Dick’s infancy, of the traumatic death of his phantom twin, continued to grow sadder, more vivid and more frequent.  As if the patron saint of the future’s identity crisis was granting his blessing to the next, traumatic phase.

 

…do you want a revelation do you want a revelation……..?

………no…no…no…………..

 

###

This piece of flash fiction was written in response to Prompt #82 “Aware” at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, where all stories in the link-up were prompted by the image at the top of this post.

Football vs. Books

gh4

Once you start publishing your writing, whether online or in book form, it’s only a matter of time until you’re asked about your influences.  Like most people I could happily ramble on for ages about writers and stories that have meant a lot to me, from Marvel comics to William Blake to Philip K. Dick, etc.  However, recently I realised that the first, and therefore founding, influence on my approach to writing arrived when I started watching Glenn Hoddle play football – he made me appreciate elegance of delivery, vision, invention, unexpectedness, poise.  To this day, when I set out to make sentences and stories those are the qualities I aim for.

 

In honour of this abiding influence on my creative instincts, it occurred to me that I should provide an entirely unique and unwanted service, i.e. to make football an absorbing, thought-provoking experience for creative writers whilst turning literature into a fist-pumping rollercoaster ride for football fans, with extensive footnotes.

And so –

In England the new Premier League season began at the weekend1.  It’s only fitting that the team whose adventures we will follow is not only Glenn Hoddle’s former team, but the most literary sounding of English football2 clubs: Tottenham Hotspur (aka “Spurs”).  Note the fine Shakespearean pedigree of the name Hotspur, and the competitive, medal-chasing spirit evinced by the character of that name in this line from Henry IV, Part 1:

“To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon”3

It should be noted, however, that despite the Shakespearean allusions of the name, Spurs of late is a club that evokes nothing so much as a desperate, parodic and hysteria-tinged, version of the condensed works of Jane Austen: always chasing, with panting breast and flushed cheek, after an elusive and shadowy Mr Right who will offer a stable home, steady income, and shining trinkets that will allow the blushing bride to meet the eye of the unbearably snooty neighbours, proudly and without demur.  The latest Mr Darcy wannabe is a smouldering Argentinian gentleman by the name of Mauricio Pochettino.

Jane Austen's crush

Jane Austen’s crush

Daniel Levy's crush

Daniel Levy’s crush

 

Match Report –

West Ham United vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Saturday 16th August)

The 2014-15 season began with the first London derby of the campaign, adding the antagonism of local rivalry4 to an already crucial5 fixture.  Before kick-off Upton Park, the home of West Ham, rang out as always with a cacophony of song:

“I’m forever blowing bubbles

Pretty bubbles in the air,

They fly so high,

Nearly reach the sky,

Then like my dreams,

They fade and die.”6

And on that ringing, teary, yet celebratory note the referee7 blew his whistle and the match kicked-off8.

Match Highlights –

Kyle Naughton of Spurs is Franz Kafka’s “K” sent tumbling into the world of professional sport.  Each time he takes his place on a football pitch I see the bewildered attitude of a man who has no understanding of the nameless forces that dictate his appearance in that location at that time.  Clearly, there are rules that govern his being there but of these he seems to have no real comprehension; pained and perplexed by the withholding of this knowledge, so crucial to his wellbeing and sense of self, he struggles desperately for ninety minutes to find an exit from his excruciating predicament.  Yesterday K’s predicament was ended mercifully early by his being shown a red card and sent off9.

This meant that Spurs were down to ten men and at the mercy of their opponents, who still fielded eleven players10.  But luck was with Spurs on this occasion.

Sam Allardyce, the West Ham manager11, boasts an approach to football that Hemingway would consider overly concerned with the attributes of machismo, physicality, guts – his players are locked in an unyielding, elemental struggle with the opposition, with the forces of nature itself, in a brutal duel that leaves only one still standing. In fact, if Allardyce could slip eleven football shirts onto eleven rampaging bulls and send them onto the pitch on match day, in some bizarre re-mix of Death in the Afternoon, it would pretty much constitute the team of his dreams.

This approach to the game naturally lends itself to rough and illegal play, to countless fouls being committed12 and red cards being shown by the referee.  So it was that a West Ham player was also soon pulped and the match was played out as ten versus ten.

The match descended into a repetitive mishmash of misplaced passes and players running into dead-ends, like one of Gertrude Stein’s dispiriting modernist experiments with cubist prose.

Finally, however, in the third minute of added time13, Eric Dier sprinted into space from the Spurs defence.  Rounding the hopelessly exposed West Ham goalkeeper, Dier slotted home on his competitive debut and was immediately pronounced the latest in a long line of would-be boy wizards at White Hart Lane.  Sadly, in the real world, and even in the utterly unreal world of Premier League football, such magical triumphs tend to be fleeting, soon forgotten.  Meanwhile, another long day’s journey into Thursday night Europa League qualification awaits Spurs over the season ahead.

Final score: West Ham United 0 : 1 Tottenham Hotspur.

 

Footnotes –

1 – This equates to the publication of an all-new blockbuster saga by the most stellar name in publishing: “Bigger, better, brasher – more irresistible than ever before!”  As the blurb would unfailingly have it.

2 – i.e. “soccer” in those parts of the world with curious notions about what constitutes “football.”

3 – The meaning of this particular line of verse was better rendered by a former Spurs captain and poet laureate of White Hart Lane, Danny Blanchflower, who pithily pronounced: “The game is about glory.”

4 – Think of Hachette vs. Amazon.

5 – Hyperbole is the lingua franca of all sports writing and is especially true in the case of football.

6 – Readers will of course note the fatalistic romanticism that is the default emotional setting for the English football fan, making the stadiums of England the rightful home to the spirit of the Lyrical Ballads.

7 – The editor of the text, always attempting to excise the bad and promote the good, although often succeeding in achieving the exact opposite.

8 – Page 1 of the story is begun.

9 – The reviews are in, and so overwhelmingly negative that the entire print run is pulped.

10 – The Spurs chapter has pages missing, while the West Ham chapter still has all its pages.

11 – The team’s author.

12 – Bad grammar, essentially.

13 – Having already finished the last page you then decide to go back and reread it from half-way down.