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legion

a glass from the bar
on the steps by the door
a fractional measure
of something you loved
lights on the white page
night’s dark beyond
engines to weary my heart

each shape you fashion
draws me once more
escape to the roof
and the shore
 
walk in the half light
out to the hills
delight in the danger
of solitude’s thrills
the clouds and the hairpin
break up my heart
old growth brings
lavender new
 
each shape you fashion
draws me once more
walk by the legion
then rule no more
 
 the blue of the sky
is the thrill of the ride
the comfort in talking
and nothing to hide
feed me on wildness
wrap up my soul
find me in rain
and the sea
 
each shape you fashion
makes me from clay
draws me in lines
of your making
draw me in rooftops
draw me in days
 
each shape you fashion
draws me once more
Featured

Don’t slouch …

So, Generation X, are you sitting comfortably?  You at the back?  Yes, you.  Don’t slouch. 

Well then, I shall begin.  Once upon a time there was a writer.  No, no, not that one. 

There was that one teacher in school, probably older than your mum, who constantly reminded you that you’d not be carrying a calculator around in your pocket when you grew up. Who’d want to? 

And the price of batteries.

Well, we showed her, didn’t we?  And that wonderful sound bite in Ghostbusters from Egon Spengler “Print is dead”?  And, as you read this on your tablet or mobile, that doesn’t entirely ring true either, does it?

Truth is I think you’d struggle to think of any period where consumption of the written word was higher?  You remember back in 2004 when you sent an SMS you counted the characters?  (My Generation Z daughter queries why I add a line break at the end of a text … the secret is … just because I can.)

I can Viber a school friend in Australia, Skype my boss in Blackpool, have a group chat with my colleagues and plan dinner with my husband.  Without speaking a word.  Now there’s risks in this. 

Not least confusion, popcorn brain and chronic social isolation.

This device in your hand is a rallying cry.

What for?  We’re not at war.  (Errors and omission excepted.  Not at the time of writing.)

Sorry.   Yes, we are.

As a minimum we’re on mission to win hearts and minds.  To draw customers to our businesses and supporters to our causes.  These words here.  Each one of them is a lure, a magnet and a sugar lump.

Each time you write online, write an email to a customer you are lighting the campfire and telling a story.  It is that simple.

Welcome to my local.  Here at the cross section between March Avenue and April Highway there’s a café.  Do come in and let me take your order?  While you’re here tell me your story.  And I’ll tell you what you’ve got is unique.  And there lies my purpose as a writer – to make your story engaging to your readers. 

Whoever they might be, whatever your business.

Now, when the Dragon got hungry …

Crossfire by The Reads, a review

Well then, The Reads; what’s new? An album, you say, “Crossfire” released next Friday? 

And as you’ll not be going out, any of you really, then you can stop in and listen to new music?

It’s been a while; so take a sideways step first.  Because with this album it’s the constants that strike.

For this, a third album, what endures? Pace, adventure and a sense of wonder.  Making space to feed our imaginations.  Much that’s familiar; a delight in building melody and counterpart, structure and lyricism as a coherent whole.

The Reads – live, Chester 2019

I listened to The Reads loads when their first album was new-ish, 2011-2012.  If we said that was a more optimistic time for the world at large; the Olympics beckoning in London and all the opportunities of a new century laid out to choose from, would anyone argue?   

Is right now the best time for a new album? Maybe not, but life comes anyway it can. 

And that, for me, is a large part of what I come to The Reads for, for the sweet in bittersweet.  A lightly drawn promise that it will get better.   And they’re getting radio play once more; the connections that need making are being made and that can’t be anything but a good thing.

Lyrical highlights: the softly promised revolution offered up by the “Top of the Rock”.  The sentiment’s neither nice or nor tidy and yet the delivery’s like velvet.  And the heart-on-your-sleeve torture of “Oblivion”; here’s an accurate knife for what’s dying; delivering a swifter death.

“Crossfire” stands somewhere between folk and pop with the added sensibilities of self-reflective rock.  Strings and synth forming non-standard shapes of their own, bass as bones and the whole drawn together.

“The Grecian Arm” strikes me deepest though; a thing trying to go faster than itself before then drawing back in.  There’s simple elegance in that.

The whole of the album bears the hallmarks of Generation X; a sense of the whole world falling and finding pleasure where it offers itself up; determined to find the footholds that it can.   (Are we a symptom of our times or are our times a symptom of us?)

Great to have you back The Reads … now about those gigs…

The Reads and their music can be found here https://thereads.co.uk/

Wine

The first of a series of ‘postcards’ – tiny, unconnected stories.

The edge of the table cloth moves under the breeze. Worn, white jacquard, soft on my hands, creases easily as my fingers undo its neatness.

Folds meet pattern; describing possibility. Dressing a table pleases me; a naked table’s as sad as a bare mattress. 

I’ve read Neruda for the last five nights, my mind’s there still.  Nights alive in his hi-fidelity landscapes; populated by dreamers. 
There’s a cut on your hands, short and dark with clotted blood now; evidence of work done.  The stamp of the story of your fence building. An unkept dry stretch between the boundary of my place and next door, overgrown with chaotic ivy.  And the perfect family live there; punctual, coordinated, dull. An unanswered dispute means this is territory they won’t discuss. 
It’s no good waiting for the weather to soften the earth; sometimes hard work is all there is.
You lower your voice to tell me of their conversation.  Your storyteller’s voice and expressive hands.  Her tears at the long weeks, the fear of solitude.  His defence of his kingdoms and and the lies beneath their accents and words. Your words and the setting sun reach into me. We are weary now.
You return from inside with a green cardboard punnet, over full with late raspberries, dripping where you’ve washed them roughly. Treasure from your journey out for tools and supplies; high from the heat of midday; soft fruit scent even in the early dark.  
Our talk slips back to work; the difference between what we must do and what cannot be avoided.  The ache for simplicity.
Droplets of water from the raspberries reach the wine spilled earlier.  Capillaries of red fruit juice draw a drunken pink moon on the damp cloth.
You reach to pour more wine and unspoken motives move me to place my scarf around your shoulders.  There you ease; grow in the warmth.
The wine is not a need.  
Already the lawn seems uncertain as to what role it should play; uncertain of its earlier choices.
I steady my hand, or your glass, or the bottle.  I’m not sure.  There’s a weight to your arm and together we place the bottle down.  Both glasses are full.
A lorry rumbles past in the street and the moment holds.   I can feel the warming.
You might have described the views of your childhood walk home as we sit closer.  The way the road rises to the town and the dark that thrilled you.
There’s no stars tonight, just the glow of the house.  A mosquito makes a drunken pass.  We share my scarf and you laugh at my turn of phrase. 
You tell me the choice of warmth indoors is wise now.  The cooling earth keeps its word and holds our steps till we close the door. 

Bananas – a conference

“Unbridled creativity is a bit nuts”

Why do we go on conferences? 

Because my boss said? But I’m self employed.

Because my professional body says I must do some form of ongoing education? As a copywriter I have no professional body as such.

Because it’s good for me?

Well, now you come to mention it.  Professional Copywriters Network run one conference, once a year, for one day.  I am 8 hours older and about six months wiser.

We’ve covered Nick Cave, Viz, Bluegrass, inappropriate humour and I’ve had the pleasant company of a bunch of very strong women.  

Here’s a few images; I’ll unpack the rest of the wisdom later.

Dandelion

a poem from my walking …

Dandelion

Our moon fell hard to earth,
soaked through night to soil.
The shivering ground waited;
swallowed silver gilded dust.

For winter a formless heart;
ice and rain raise no pity.
The world holds on …
for something better.

An imperfect star orbits;
reluctant saviour, pulling close.
Warmth and a debt of heat;
full completeness in time.

Gaudy, childish; bright beginnings;
each bloom a promise of love.
Fruiting, swollen. Hopeful.
Promised turn of seasons.

To tear up a weed seed head
is no great violence;
irresistible in temptation,
to be our own child.

The dark in that fullness; a joke.
A clock; the many seeded clock;
he loves me, he loves me not;
to eat, to sleep, to dream, to play.

A dandelion head to count on;
hours, lovers, children, chances.
Standing naked now in full sun;
hard evidence that we fall.

Lily – a drawing 

Lily

my dear father was long winter’s Equinox; he mixed into mother mine; last Moon of the Year.  

i remember this; their coupling made me. head in the sky and roots in the earth; i am Lily.

my feet have not travelled but these toes, in the soil, challenge cold Death. at your ending i will be there. i keep faith with your truth; a bodied spell to cast your soul out to lover and enemy the same. there are days when that is all i am, a funeral flower in a cave of gloom.

and depression dresses me.

but my breath was Cloud and i was drunk on Rain kissing my throat when Sun first rose. he is light reflecting beauty of the cosmos and bringer of life.

he turned the world, animated me, painted me. he held me still.

he drew me from my cave and created me as his wife. i empty out my mind in the strength of his zenith. i am joy.

myriad winged things pay court to me, paying for my stores with stories from places beyond my sight. i am their fragrant, excessive, plentiful perfume of survival. they fly slower, lower as Sun goes down. heat stays in the ground though autumn arrives spying for my secrets. there is the first footprint smell of damp that will lead to winter’s whispered myths of ending and decay.

tonight my five petals make a star against the night. as darkness starts I wait. with the rising night, from the silent hills, comes a whisper. the voice of Wind. from his first lullaby to his final storm he is the constant formless rebellion to the turning of the year.

tonight he promises dancing, asks me to leave my roots.

first draft – road home 

road home

empty house, no-one’s calling
dreams are maps; I am sleepless,
drowning at the end of the world 
choking on strangers’ needs

days inside the machine,
nights in a foreign bed,
looking for the road home

seasons pass, rain grows cold,
bricks and stone are prison, 
the moon cannot catch me,
my fear poisons the black 

days inside the machine,
nights in a foreign bed;
looking for the road home 

your phone rang out in silence,
the door’s open, window’s wide,
demons followed me devoted,
made my hope their home,

heart stopped then, I am falling,
damp house has rotted my heart,
plant no seeds; I am hopeless
cannot find my strength