Tuesday, 31 May 2016

poetry 2016/61

Shoes and Ships and Ceiling Wax

Stippled ceiling artex
spoiled by amateur plastering
where the ceiling cracked over a fireplace
long removed but the chimney breast
still haunts a dust-enshrouded loft;
the corpse of a previous resident
weighing on the mind of the house.

She remembers her parent's house
where lofty ceilings
mocked her miniature frame;
where spiderwebs danced on draughts
from ill-fitting leaded windows,
inverted forests of dust and dead flies
so far from outstretched hands.

Double gazing shuts out the wind
and the sound of blackbirds
nestled in apple trees
and the dream of her father was just a dream
and the night bus to Benwell
plies too distant from Tyneside docks
to rescue her dead brother
lost in the cobwebs of dirt and misery,
and the glass bottled Tizer
lies broken on Whitley Bay pebbles.


*As a child, I'd never heard of sealing wax and thought the phrase something to do with the artex.


© Rachel Green 2016


Thank you for stopping by

short forms 31st May 2016

one day
the house and land
will belong to just you
(assuming your father has no
more kids)


© Rachel Green 2016

fresh grass
through the seedlings
last year's raspberries


© Rachel Green 2016

heavy cold
even my tea
tastes of snot
too sick to garden
a list of jobs grows


© Rachel Green 2016

morning rush
a very ill DK
lu to the station

I stop in town for pain meds
then on to the refuse site
old office chair

back home for poetry


© Rachel Green 2016

the new painting looks solid black

© Rachel Green 2016

Monday, 30 May 2016

short forms 30th May 2016

Coping.
Her psychosis
paints everything bleak
death and bullying all around.
Help me?


© Rachel Green 2016

first light
through the apple trees
dark crow


© Rachel Green 2016

lurgy
debilitate my weekend
prevents training
at least I feel better today
than at the weekend


© Rachel Green 2016

oil on canvas
with the new-ish
water based oils

building up layers
a minimalist landscape
of muliple hues

Tor line


© Rachel Green 2016

mirrors. None of them show inside.

© Rachel Green 2016

Sunday, 29 May 2016

short forms 29th May 2016

the ghost
begs for revenge
and despite misgivings
she promises to do her best.
verdict.


© Rachel Green 2016

adolescent worms
through the new grass
tendrils of convolvulus


© Rachel Green 2016

two dozen cornflowers
from a man on a local website
delivered for a pound
when they arrive
they're barely more than seedlings


© Rachel Green 2016

summer cold
leaves me miserable
swollen throat

I can barely function
for coughing and sniffing
my list of outdoor jobs

I spend the day indoors


© Rachel Green 2016

still pleased to see her. Dogs.

© Rachel Green 2016

Saturday, 28 May 2016

short forms 28th May 2016

the ghost
of her mother
claims her suicide was
a deliberate overdose.
Murder.


© Rachel Green 2016

fresh grass
on the front border
neighbour's cat


© Rachel Green 2016

egads!
I picked up illness
sore throat and cough
seriously unhappy today
pass the tissues?


© Rachel Green 2016

evening walk
through cemetery grass
spotting fungi

the dogs romps through grass
comes back with a tick
attached to his nose

careful removal


© Rachel Green 2016

her greenhouse becomes an art studio

© Rachel Green 2016

Friday, 27 May 2016

To Marry a Queen

To Marry a Queen

Chloe looked at the proximity of her father's hand to her aunt Julia's. The placement was so casual, so accidental, that the connection between his thumb and her forefinger could only be deliberate. “Who touches someone's hand and maintains the connection?” she asked later, holed up in her bedroom with her best friend, Jessica, “other than a stalker, obviously. It's got to be on purpose.” She leaned forward to snag another packet of store-brand crisps. “And she didn't move her hand away, either.”

“I think they're having it off.” Jessica sucked more Bacardi and Coke through a straw, her cheeks flushed from the amount of alcohol a fifteen year old can put away when the bar has been left unattended. “It's disgusting. They're in their forties at least.”

“He can't be. He hasn't even paid for mum's funeral yet.”

“How do you know?”

“A man came round yesterday. You know the sort. Black suit and knuckledusters.”

Jessica nodded. “From the funeral parlour?”

“Yeah.” Chloe filled her mouth with crisps and chewed through them like a paper shredder. She hunched her shoulders up and lowered her voice in an impression of the man. “Tell your dad there's always a spare plot in the cemetery.”

Poetry 2016/60

Last Waltz

He's awkward in the ballroom
size twelve feet in regimental boots
linen slacks against a starched white shirt
creases you could stab someone with.
His lips move as he counts the steps
looking down, always looking down;
one meaty hand on a girl
her waist so small
a wasp would be jealous.
He smells on Brylcreme and cigarettes
his half of bitter untouched
though the ashtray is full of spent matches
while she smells of perming solution
and the cheap perfume she bought at Woolworth's
but the face powder doesn't hide her freckles
and her teeth are crooked yellow
but the kiss on the cheek she gives him
before she boards the 4A bus to Benwell
will sustain him for almost a year
and the death of his platoon.

short forms 27th May 2016

her mum
a bit loopy
after her son's death
but her father's still paranoid.
Demons?


© Rachel Green 2016

morning mist
encouraging worm play
zealous blackbird


© Rachel Green 2016

late walk
the dogs are happy
joyous barking
a quick stop at the shop
we're out of milk again


© Rachel Green 2016

day trip
to glorious Buith Wells
eight hours in the car

a modern stone circle
built to commemorate the Eiseddfod
holds our interest

deep fried veggie burger


© Rachel Green 2016

four stones heavier. New diet required.

© Rachel Green 2016

Thursday, 26 May 2016

short forms 26th May 2016

homework
she farms out art
to her new minion
studies her previous efforts.
Fails


© Rachel Green 2016

damp morning
raindrops on poppy petals
rosemary


© Rachel Green 2016

day trip
Lu hires a car
Wales trip
A change of scenery
for the empty head


© Rachel Green 2016

follow-up
pictures of my brain
from the CAT scan

spots of scar tissue
and dead areas
what did I forget?

I'll never remember


© Rachel Green 2016

she studies jiu-jitsu. Forgets everything.

© Rachel Green 2016

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

short forms 25th May 2016

her friend
in the shadows.
is it Toby or not?
Should she turn the other cheek or seek
revenge?


© Rachel Green 2016

lesser redpoll
sampling dry teasel heads
spring wind


© Rachel Green 2016

morning run
Lu to the station again
London day
Hospital appointment
followed by jiu-jitsu


© Rachel Green 2016

oil paint
in controlled flooding
across the canvas
takes an age to dry
but the effects are worth the effort
artist's delight

Peak Tor in multihue


© Rachel Green 2016

shades of regret. After-dinner arguments.

© Rachel Green 2016

Monday, 23 May 2016

ahort forms 23rd May 2016

her mates
from her old school
help. Rosie and Gilda
are old-school tough bitches who take
no shit


© Rachel Green 2016

Welsh poppies
among the hedge parsley
spots of colour


© Rachel Green 2016

painting
oil on canvas
abstraction
for the first time in twenty years
I feel like an artist again


© Rachel Green 2016

the dog
obsessed with Lina's guinea pigs
tears at the hutch

she's worn a path
around the outdoor cage
a sea of mud

constant barking


© Rachel Green 2016

martial arts training versus money worries

© Rachel Green 2016

Sunday, 22 May 2016

short forms 22nd May 2016

Hamlet
as a young girl
with some social problems
Yoric was always her best friend
(online)


© Rachel Green 2016

birdsong
through the leaf canopy
fingers of sun


© Rachel Green 2016

first oil painting
since I gave up my studio
completed
My greenhouse as studio
cramped but workable


© Rachel Green 2016

my sister replies
grateful I'm still alive
to write to her

she wants to be informed
of all my future illness
just in case

"I know we don't see each other often but I do care for you"


© Rachel Green 2016

scrabbling claws. Her dogs give chase.

© Rachel Green 2016

Saturday, 21 May 2016

short forms 21st May 2016

a claim
to want to die
teenage melodrama
taken seriously by the
devil


© Rachel Green 2016

peony
the red tinge of new flowers
cemetery polyanthus


© Rachel Green 2016

clearing the house
the toy farm my father made
still wrapped in paper
old lead animal figures
their paint chipped away


© Rachel Green 2016

my father's loft
stepping from beam to beam
imagining futures

a thousand dead flies
on dry rot window sills
pupating butterflies

drifts of snow through gaps in the tiles


© Rachel Green 2016

the decision to get fit. Again.

© Rachel Green 2016

Friday, 20 May 2016

short forms 20th May 2016

sticking
on a premise
how to write a queer
sympathetic protagonist
Chloe


© Rachel Green 2016

blades of grass
on freshly-seeded ground
sparrows


© Rachel Green 2016

musty shirt
infects the others
spilled lube
I throw it out
paint rag


© Rachel Green 2016

the cat
interrupts writing
"Hungry"

I go to push her off
and she goes apeshit
clawed face

she attacks Trickster
"and your little dog, too"


© Rachel Green 2016

you can't be queer. You're fat.

© Rachel Green 2016

Thursday, 19 May 2016

short forms 19th May 2016

sightings
of lesser men
their visions of angels
never quite resonated in
her mind


© Rachel Green 2016

warm rain
damp night footpath
slug party


© Rachel Green 2016

sheltering
under leafy trees
night rain
around the streetlamp bulbs
haloes of green


© Rachel Green 2016

jiu-jitsu
first time in six months
trepidation

familiar faces
and old friends
revisited

signed up again


© Rachel Green 2016

tears of lost opportunities. New joy.

© Rachel Green 2016

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

A Poem-a-Day 2016/58


It doesn't matter you didn't love me
I have the fire for warmth,
the dog for company.
Crackling wood becomes my conversation partner;
old tales of foxes and faeries,
deep within the green canopy.
Is this beech or oak?
I'm too lazy to get up and check.
I only know it's not the distinctive bark
of birch or cherry,
or the reluctant flame of Elder,
though the green flame indicates copper
a nail in the embers
or the flare of boiling blood
from the shirt you were wearing
when you asked for a divorce.
At least the pyre is hot
and your bones burn hotter.

Damage

Chloe pressed the phone to her ear and raised her voice. “I can't hear you.” She gesticulated wildly to Dean who was, as usual, immersed in a text argument with his friend Billie over the new Star Wars film. She'd tried to settle the argument two days previously by pointing out all three of the latest films were almost shot-for-shot remakes of the original three, just with different characters and robots for toy marketing purposes.

Between the traffic and his concentration, there was no room in his consciousness for his sister's frantic signals and he walked on, oblivious to his surroundings. He was probably still sulking she hadn't bought him a KitKat in the supermarket.

“What?” She shouted at the phone again choosing to ignore the caustic comment about her size from the bloke in the blue denim shirt ( Honestly! Was this the seventies?). “Thirty two what?”

She paused to turn the volume up further, wishing she hadn't caught her earbuds on that mannequin in Marks and Sparks and by the time she looked up again, Dean was several yards ahead. “The thirty-two bus? What about it? It goes to Insley, not Torstairs.”

She looked up at the screech of brakes and the bang. She couldn't see Dean anywhere.

short forms 18th May 2016

boxes
from moving house
she feels surrounded
by the ghost of her dead mother
unrest


© Rachel Green 2016

morning rain
on the first clematis flowers
sheltering bee


© Rachel Green 2016

nightmares
of unremembered fears
soaked in sweat
I agreed to meet
an old instructor


© Rachel Green 2016

Jack
always in the kitchen
begging for food

he ignores dog food,
cat food, biscuits
Amos has a field day

He accepts some milk


© Rachel Green 2016

my 'to read' list now digital

© Rachel Green 2016

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Service with a Smile


http://thumbs3.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/pict/252251333239_1.jpg


Hail beat against the windows as Chloe knelt on the living room carpet in front of the fire. They'd moved so late in the year that the house was still filled with boxes three days before Christmas. She unwrapped a figurine from its cocoon of tissue and stared at it, racking her brain to recall the ugly leering imp with its hammer and pillowcase. “Dad?”

“What?” His voice was fain from the downstairs kitchen.

“When did we get the ugly little imp tree decoration?”

“I don't know what you mean, darling.”

“This.” She raised the figure to the room camera. “Ow.”

“What's up?”

She sucked her thumb. “I pricked myself on a nail.”

“Careful, now.” The soft voice was not her fathers, but a tall, dark man in an expensive suit. “You don't want to hurt yourself.”

“Who the feck are you?”

“I'm a...” He paused, scratching at his five o'clock shadow. “A sort of djinn. Genie, I mean. What's your first wish?”

“That's it could be Christmas every day.”

“Done.” He clicked his fingers and smiled.

***

She unwrapped a figurine from its cocoon of tissue

***

“Tetanus, I'm afraid.” The nurse marked Chloe's records. “Persistent vegetative state.”

short forms 17th May 2016

she tries
to wheedle out
of a binding contract
but every decision made
turns bad


© Rachel Green 2016

sparrow
looking for food
my seeded lawn


© Rachel Green 2016

delicate blooms
pristine canvas
flushed with colour
treating oil paint
like watercolour


© Rachel Green 2016

breakfast
two slices of brown toast
with marmite

I analyse the change
in my regular habit
of cold cereal

Ah! I craved the salt.


© Rachel Green 2016

guilty of overeating. psychiatric help required.

© Rachel Green 2016

Monday, 16 May 2016

short forms 16th May 2016

story
in her new house
unwrapping ornaments
the twisted figure of a girl
musty


© Rachel Green 2016

garden snail
circumnavigating the greenhouse
solitary bee


© Rachel Green 2016

offence
taken by an old friend
online
Not sure what I said
but I can't fault her


© Rachel Green 2016

garden work
started with just one job
two hours of time

another job took three
a third took two
exhaustion sets in

aching today


© Rachel Green 2016

entering a competition purely for fun

© Rachel Green 2016

Sunday, 15 May 2016

short forms 15th May 2016

revamp
for Chloe Good
still overweight and shy
but the demons in her conscious
are real


© Rachel Green 2016

fire sparks
in the darkening sky
waxing moon


© Rachel Green 2016

garden work
brings aching limbs
smoke-filled hair
hot shower and sleep
relieves the weary bones


© Rachel Green 2016

partners are away
and I had such plans today
garden woodwork

this morning's bright sun
replaced by heavy clouds
threatening storm

maybe I'll stay indoors


© Rachel Green 2016

obesity seems the order of life

© Rachel Green 2016

Saturday, 14 May 2016

short forms 14th May 2016

Jenny
in Birmingham
meets up with a student
studying architecture and
elopes


© Rachel Green 2016

telephone lines
split the sky into hexagons
crow's wings


© Rachel Green 2016

do I want
to tell my story?
probably not.
it's an old tale and
certainly uninspiring


© Rachel Green 2016

seeing art
always inspires
but for selfish reasons

I can't afford a Hodgkin
a Matisse or a Van Gough
so I paint my own work

I want to own everything


© Rachel Green 2016

Finally well enough to exercise. Fat.

© Rachel Green 2016

Friday, 13 May 2016

short forms 13th May 2016

re-write
now completed
hopefully the heroine
now obviously lesbian
and black


© Rachel Green 2016

yesterday's sun
replaced by high wind
new leaves stripped


© Rachel Green 2016

Lu's phone call
a long series of yes/no answers
to an unknown questioner
it's either spam PPI
or medical insurance


© Rachel Green 2016

parkour thief
escapes from police
jumping from bridge

unknown to him
the container that's been there years
has been removed

misplaced landing

© Rachel Green 2016

she agrees to try squash #unfit

© Rachel Green 2016

Thursday, 12 May 2016

short forms 12th May 2016

she tries
to outline why
she can't have a girlfriend..
Seventies Cornwall backwater
backlash


© Rachel Green 2016

spikes of grass
among shards of broken glass
a line of ants


© Rachel Green 2016

tagged
by several people
on Facebook
Why do they think
I'm desperate for sunglasses?


© Rachel Green 2016

edits
grow apace
rewinding a tale
The twist in character
of a wary protagonist
closet lesbian
Dark-skinned suffragette


© Rachel Green 2016

early rising, The dog's insistent wuffs

© Rachel Green 2016

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

short forms 11th May 2016

Bryn is
a ladies' man
and definitely not
a fan of the glam rock genre.
Closets.


© Rachel Green 2016

black slugs
creeping across the pavement
cherry petals


© Rachel Green 2016

summer heat
switches to cold rain
British spring
all those marigolds you planted
have died


© Rachel Green 2016

descriptive noun
rattles around my brain
my mouth on repeat

everything today
becomes a cockwomble
descriptive portmanteau

I meant to say twatwaddle


© Rachel Green 2016

how to describe  an imagined desire

© Rachel Green 2016

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

short forms 10th May 2016

her comb
four-inch steel spikes
a seventies version
of  Wolverine claws. Walking home
at night.


© Rachel Green 2016

sparrows
among the broken glass
rainbows


© Rachel Green 2016

waterfox
is not responding
broken washer
Somewhat irritating.
What a fucktwaddle


© Rachel Green 2016

editing
an anti-love story
where death comes
not as a whisper
but as a constant babble
of disjointed voices
her daughter?


© Rachel Green 2016

Hearing loss. A minute of Hope.

© Rachel Green 2016

Monday, 9 May 2016

short forms 8th May 2016

her luck
seems to be in
what are the odds of a
lesbian moving in upstairs?
No chance.


© Rachel Green 2016

snails
around the garden shed
a snarl of thrushes


© Rachel Green 2016

writing project
with another deadline
stop dicking around
I need to make the decision
and knuckle down to edits


© Rachel Green 2016

do I make him gay
or her, with Bernie just
'not her type'
It would make sense
for a schoolteacher
to pretend heterosexuality

this is the seventies, after all.


© Rachel Green 2016

pruning roses. Hands cut to ribbons

© Rachel Green 2016

Sunday, 8 May 2016

May stories 2016/08

Piccalilli Painless

I tried to kill myself. Tried and failed, obviously, else I wouldn't be here to talk about it but it wasn't through somebody having a feeling and checking up on me, or a friend interrupting me when I was about to step off the chair with a rope around my neck or a random stranger yanking me from the edge of the platform as the 12:32 Portsmouth Express thunders past. What saved me – though I'm not certain 'saved' is the operative word here – was a red-horned demon with a cheese and piccalilli sandwich.

His name was Kevin.

short forms 8th May 2016

argue
with a demon?
there's a twist of logic
that cannot fail to impress it.
Sign here.


© Rachel Green 2016

contrails
against the blue
sun painted gulls


© Rachel Green 2016

Belper woods
bedecked with yarn bombs
tree animals
I am amused by Noah's Ark:
A Tribute to Incest


© Rachel Green 2016

new dog
plays with his toy
an old teddy

in his head
he imagines me
shaken to pieces

and then eaten


© Rachel Green 2016

social afternoon. Evening alone. Wind down.

© Rachel Green 2016

Saturday, 7 May 2016

May Stories 2016/07

He just Appeared in the Closet, I Swear


“So what are you? Some kind of genie come to offer me three wishes?”
“No. I'm quite offended by that, actually. Is it because I'm black?”
“Black? No. Don't be stupid.”
“Ah! Racial stereotyping as well, now.”
“No. Stop it. I'm not doing anything like that. Stop putting words in my mouth.”
“Why? It'd make a change from what you usually put in your mouth.”
“Now who's stereotyping? How rude. I'm only fifteen, you know. I could have you arrested for that.”
“For what? Suggesting you overeat? There are three four-finger Kitkats in your coat pocket, a multipack of Cheesy Bites in your rucksack and a cheese and sausage sandwich inside your pencil case. Any sexual reference you inferred was entirely in your own mind.”
“I could tell on you for verbal bullying.”
“Nothing but the truth, princess.”
“There, see? Calling me 'princess' is a form of bullying. Clearly I'm as far removed from the social ideal of a princess as it's possible to be and still be a human girl.”
“Quite the contrary. You're the direct descendant of Maria Alexandrovna and technical heir to the Russian throne. Not that I'd advise you trying to claim it, at least without a significant political change in the nation.”
“I'm a real princess? Cool.”
“You wanted to be famous. You could be remembered as the last princess of Russia to get her head cut off.”
“What?”
“It's a hundred years since your great-great uncle Nicholas the Second was executed but the Bolsheviks bear a grudge for a long time.”

short forms 7th May 2016

her mum
rotting away
a fulmination of
putrescence and  underground life
begins


© Rachel Green 2016

plum blossom
over the fresh-mown grass
orange tip butterfly


© Rachel Green 2016

overcast
but still quite warm
Saturday
I'm tempted to throw caution to the wind
as well as the grass seed


© Rachel Green 2016

Peak Tor
bluebells and laughter
among the beech trees
ten minutes
of timer photographs
to get one right
people in love


© Rachel Green 2016

wiping her runny nose. Gushing blood.

© Rachel Green 2016

Friday, 6 May 2016

short story (250 words)

Inside, Out

Caterpillar tracks wind between the graves, leaving long ridges of churned mud in the winter grass. It's twenty years since Tom dug a grave and he can't help wishing he'd had one of those then.

He dug a crumpled pack of cigarettes from the breast pocket of his denim jacket. He'd been told off for wearing it in his youth. 'Disrespectful,' his boss had said. How much more disrespectful was a mechanical digger tearing through the cemetery? Jim Chantry, the driver, had been well trained but he'd still knocked over a headstone or two and the fiasco with the unmarked graves still cropped up in the local papers from time to time. You wouldn't have had that trouble with a real gravedigger, not when they remembered the burial plots with or without a marker stone. Not that anyone read papers anymore.

“Got one of those for me?” Jim wore his customary green council overalls.

“Sure.” Tom passed him the pack and lit his own with a cheap disposable razor. “You ready for this?”

“If I'm not now I never will be.” Jim borrowed the lighter and ducked away from the wind. “Where's the grave, then?”

“Over here.” Tom led the way to his wife's grave. Everyone had witnessed the burial but not a soul had thought to check the coffin. “Two point four million in gold bullion.”

“And your wife?”

“Nah.” Ted pointed to an equally old grave. “She's shacked up with Charlie Hendricks.”

May stories 2016/06

I'm glad my father died.

Not because he was ill, or blind, or incontinent, or lonely or just fed up with the paucity of his life. He was all these things and only a year into retirement, but the reason I'm glad he died was because it gave my sister her life back, and gave me a chance to alter mine in a way he would never have understood.

My sister spent the last six years of his life almost as a nursemaid. She was barely thirty, in a committed relationship and she couldn't move away because she was all he had. Surrogate motherhood had already fallen upon her too early when our mother died when I was fourteen. Our father had been unable to cope and she had to take over anything I couldn't; primarily the cleaning and the laundry, though I was able to cook when I got home from school. When I moved away to go to art school, she stayed local to look after him. She renovated the derelict house his parents had owned so she could live next door and when he became ill it was not unusual for her to go into his house, clean and dress him, change his bedding and wash the floors before setting off for her own job, then repeating the process on her return. I did the best I could from a distance, driving the sixty-odd miles home every weekend.

When he died, just two days shy of her birthday, she was finally able to relax. She went away for her first holiday in six years, got married, spent time with her new husband. She finally got to live her own life.

With the money from the eventual sale of the house, I changed my gender. I finally got to live mine.

short forms 6th May 2016

nature
versus nurture
heterosexual
versus the desire of the
market


© Rachel Green 2016

garden snails
running from the chainsaw
old stump


© Rachel Green 2016

Amazon reviews
the briefcase gets four stars
instead of five
I like it just fine, but the cat
can't fit in her fat arse


© Rachel Green 2016

two hours
sawing at the tree stump
drilling holes in it
chopping with an axe
and hitting it
with a lump hammer.

Dean the Fish Man with his chainsaw


© Rachel Green 2016

out of spoons error -- accidental argument

© Rachel Green 2016

Thursday, 5 May 2016

May Stories 2016/05

Class A1 Science. Thursday.

Chloe was copying the formula for vitamin E into her exercise book when she felt something hit the back of her head. Mr Donal, the chemistry teacher, was still explaining the process of metabolisation, which she could probably explain in her sleep. She lifted one hand to the back of her head, careful not to raise it too high lest Mr Donal think she was raising her hand to ask a question. There was something in her hair. She assumed it was a paper spitball, courtesy of Richard Adams in the back row. He'd made her life a misery since last year, when she'd returned to school after the summer break with breasts bigger than anyone's.

The spitball didn't budge. Not only that, but it was sticky as well. The more she tried to dislodge it, the more it stuck to her hair. The giggles from the back row increased in volume and she twisted her head to glare at them. Richard Adams, of course, and the two boys on either side of him, Christopher Trant and Adrian Wilkes. They were having hysterics. Trant picked something up from Adams' desk and leaned forward. “Want some chewing gum, Chloe? Oh, no. You've already got some, haven't you?”

“Oh! You filthy bugger.” With the knowledge it was chewing gum in her hair, Chloe's heart sank. Chewing gum was the worst thing in the world to get out of hair.

“Language, Chloe Good.” Mr Donal's Irish lilt could turn to the crack of a Belfast rifle in an instant. “Is there a problem?”

“No sir. Sorry, sir.” Chloe dipped her head, letting her fringe fall over her face to hide from the teacher's view. She wasn't going to be a tell tale as well. She might as well top herself if she did that.

“Please, sir.” Ellen Coulter, on the next bench, put her hand up. “Richard Adams threw gum in her hair.”

“Is that true, Adams?” Mr Donal stalked down the length of the chemistry lab with the speed of a City fan with a bottle. His meaty hand closed over the packet. “Is gum allowed in school?”

It was a rhetorical question, but Adams answered it anyway. “No, sir.” He stared down at the desk.

“As you're an expert on stickiness you'll be washing out the glassware every night for a fortnight.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You can sit down.” He turned to Chloe, still glowering. “Now, Chloe. What's the best way to remove gum from hair?”

“I don't know sir.” She could see this wasn't the answer he expected. “Cut it out?”

“I doubt your parents would be happy about that.” He looked around the class. “Anyone?”

Several hands went up and he pointed to a girl in the front row. “Christine Bailey?”

“Olive oil, sir. Rub it in and the gum will slide off.”

“Good. Anyone else?” He pointed to a red haired lad. “Stevens?”

“Ice, sir. Freeze it and crack it.”

“Excellent, but it takes twenty minutes and it's only ten until break. We can go one better than that. Can anyone think what it is?” He looked around the room. “No-one? This is a chemistry lab. What do we have that's cold?”

“Lisa McNally's heart?” A boy on the second row.

“I don't think so, Nesbit. I'm sure her heart is perfectly fine, just allergic to your calloused one.” Another hand went up. The polish kid. “Schrebniak?”

“Liquid nitrogen, sir.” The kid barely looked up from his textbook. Freeze the hair then just snap the gum off.”

“Very good.” Chloe? To the front of the class, if you please.”

Cue one mortified teenager.

short forms 5th May 2016

gay man
can't find love
hangs out with his sister
in his seventies style tank top.
Lonely


© Rachel Green 2016

scree garden
a woodlouse
climbs a mountain


© Rachel Green 2016

blood test
provides actual blood
not treacle
the MRI scan showed nothing--
not even a brain?


© Rachel Green 2016

Chloe
written from first person
gives new insight

her reactions
are raw and unprocessed
thoughts as words

Not sure if I'd write a whole novel that way


© Rachel Green 2016

Her eyes streaming. Just a cold?

© Rachel Green 2016

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

May Stories 2016/04

Fighting Death

I first saw Death when I was fifteen. I wasn't afraid.

It helped that it looked, at least as far as semitransparent phantasmal effigies could look, like a boy about my own age. Similar clothes as well. People always relate tales of seeing ghosts in period costume like a ham actor stuck in last year's amateur playhouse performance of Scrooge but Jimmy wasn't. Apart from the whole I-could-see-the-telly-through-him thing he looked like any other kid who went to my school. Jeans half-way down his bum and showing his knickers, trainers with the tongues sticking out, a shirt with a band's name on. Nirvana, actually, which dates him to the noughts, I suppose. Dead twenty years.

He was helping my mam make some Yorkshire Puddings. I know Manchester's in Lancashire and technically we should have had tea cakes with our gravy, but there's no such thing as Lancashire puddings and if they were they'd probably be inedible anyway. More so than Mam's usual efforts, anyway. Jimmy was reaching over from behind her and flicking at the batter as she poured it. It was going everywhere and Mam was getting annoyed.

“What so bleedin' funny, then?” she said, staring at me with her eyebrows furrowed so hard she looked like she was a rapper with a baseball cap. She didn't consider that swearing. She reckoned everybody bled so it wasn't bad to say. 'Course, everybody poos as well but she don't like me saying 'shit.'

“Sorry.” I tried to stifle the giggles but Jimmy had realised I could see him and just made funny faces at me. “There must be a reason it's going everywhere.”

“It's my hands, love.” She put the batter jug down and checked the oven, pulling the shelf with the chicken out half way to tease open the tinfoil. “The tremors are getting worse, I reckon.”

Now I felt mortified. Mam's been having tremors for years but the doctor told her it was nothing to worry about. She just has to take these pills every day. I wanted to tell her about Jimmy but he put his finger in front of his lips and I kept shtum. I wish I hadn't, now, but as Aunty Veska says, hindsight is the best vision you'll never have.

She bent forward to check on the chicken but some of the batter had gone on the floor and before I could say anything she stepped in it. Her foot slid from under her and down she went. It was like watching a video on You Tube where someone falls and they film it in slow motion. There was nothing I could do but shout “Mam!” as her head hit the edge of the cooker, then the shelf with the roasting pan on it, flipping the chicken out in a perfect arc across the kitchen. It hit the wall next to the clock and fell, scattering oil everywhere. Mum dropped like a stone to the floor.

I screamed, and Dad came running but it was already too late for mum. I could tell she was dead because her eyes were open and she had like a glaze over them. Plus, nobody alive can bend their neck all the way around like that.

Jimmy just sat on the counter licking batter from his fingers.

short forms 4th May 2016

visit
with her mother
supervised by social
workers after a long school day.
Tired.


© Rachel Green 2016

rainbows
across my crowded desk
faded daffodils


© Rachel Green 2016

diverse garden
a slope of  soil
awaiting grass
conifer alpine corners
make for easy mowing


© Rachel Green 2016

stacks of canvasses
waiting to dry
slow oils

I try a watercolour technique
with acrylic paints
mixed results

water-soluble oils?


© Rachel Green 2016

sitting outside the visiting room. anxiety

© Rachel Green 2016

*Not exactly a lightsabre but May the Fourth be with you

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

May Shorts 2016/03

Finder's Keepers

“Hey, look!” Angela reached under the hedge and extracted a plastic bag with something round and head-shaped inside.

Chloe thought about how well her week was going. “It's probably a severed head.” She thought about the television program she'd fallen asleep in front of last night. “A zombie head. Still alive and desperate for brains.”

“It'll be shit out of luck with Angie, then.” Fiona Cunningham laughed uproariously and punched Chloe on her arm.

Angela scowled. “Knob off, Cuntingham.”

Chloe rubbed her arm. “You'll be witty one day, Fee. You're half way there already.”

“This is so cool.” Angela sorted through the contents. “It must have belonged to a special forces copper, look. There's a gas mask and a pair of handcuffs.” She pulled them out and looked again. “And a collar and lead.”

Fiona nudged Chloe and winked. “Must be a Special Police dog handler. Is there anything else in there?”

“A tear gas cannister.” Angela squinted at the label. “Aqua glide.”

Chloe laid her hand on her friend's arm. “I don't think that belonged to a copper, Ange. That's lube.”

“Lube?”

“You know. For making things slippery?” Fiona demonstrated a few pelvic thrusts.

The change in Angela's expression from excited to horrified couldn't have been faked. She thrust the bag at Chloe. “Take it away.”

“Could be useful.” Fiona intercepted the bag. “There are a lot of people into this sort of thing.”

“How would you know?”

She thrust an arm over each of their shoulders, the plastic bag banging against Chloe's jacket. “Let me tell you about it.”

short forms 3rd May 2016

legends
about the devil
describe the temptation
but never the raw animal
appeal


© Rachel Green 2016

tiny yellow eyes
on a blanket of green leaves
celandines


© Rachel Green 2016

morning
the dog adores me
cereal
just a paw on my leg
for milk in his bowl


© Rachel Green 2016

appointment required
for bloods to be taken
I log in online

first available
appears to be in June
seven weeks away

I'll have to phone up.


© Rachel Green 2016

she fudges three syllables into two

© Rachel Green 2016

Monday, 2 May 2016

short forms 2nd May 2016

she turns
remembering
her late father's warning
of travelling with a stranger.
Too late


© Rachel Green 2016

blocking the sun
a black and white fan
magpie's flight


© Rachel Green 2016

house visitors
one of them had a cold
now I have one
Sore throat keeps me awake
and now the snottiness arrives


© Rachel Green 2016

stories
are ten a penny
so they say

out of a thousand words
I forge the steel of a take
ten pound plating

I make less than that


© Rachel Green 2016

scars across her chest. Fractured heart.

© Rachel Green 2016

May Shorts 2016/02

Musings

Bernie flopped onto the bed and stared up at the crack in the ceiling. “What made you choose Cornwall?”

“There was a teaching position available.” Melanie copied her new friend, surprised at the firmness of the mattress, although the metal springs of the frame beneath squeaked. She tried to imagine having sex on them and fought back a snort of laughter.

“What?”

“Nothing. Just the noisy springs.”

“ They're in a right state. Better watch who you bring back at night. You'll have Da listening at the door.”

“Gawd, I hope not. That's be embarrassing.”

“Especially when he charges you double rent for having a guest.”

“He wouldn't, would he?” Mel stared at the crack above them. It was reminiscent of the march of the Nile across the Egyptian plain, or the oscilloscope display gain of a capacitor relay discharging.

“He would. Thinks he's the Lord Mayor o' London, sometimes, the way he makes up rules. He'd probably blame you for keeping him up, too.”

“I'd have something to say about that.”

“You ever been to Cornwall before? It's not exactly known for its nightlife, you know. Not like where you come from.”

“I came here on holiday once.” She rolled onto her stomach, her nose an inch away from the pink roses of the nylon eiderdown. “Well, not here, exactly. Penzance. We were doing the play at college and got an all-expenses trip to soak in the feel of the coast. Some of us, me included, hadn't even seen the sea before, never mind Cornwall. We stayed in a scout hut with no lav and had to either risk stumbling past the boy's tents in the night or pee in a pail.”

“I ain't never travelled.” Bernie sat up, and adjusted the waistband of his trousers. “Da took me to Newquay once, when I was little. All them big aeroplanes going all over the world. I want to go all over the world someday, not remain here like some sad bumpkin.”

“I'm sure you will of you put your mind to it.”

“I wouldn't be able to raise the money in a thousand years.”

“Maybe you won't have to.” Mel turned her head to view the profile of her new friend. Bernie had an uncharacteristic softness around the face, and not even a trace of stubble. Elfin, her mam would have said. A Peter Pan to her Tinkerbell.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

May Shorts 2016/01

Straight Man

“Ah, go on.” Bryn pushed the drink toward her. “I thought you people liked Coke.”

Mel scowled. “What do you mean, 'you people?' Black? Would you prefer I sit on a different table?” She pushed the glass away from her, into the neutral territory of the middle of the table.

“God, no.” Bryn held his hands up, fingers splayed. “I didn't mean that. I meant --” He lowered his voice to barely above a whisper. “I meant lesbians.”

“Right, because that's so much better.” Bernie tut-tutted at him. “Manners, dear brother.”

“It wasn't an insult.” He took a long swallow of his own drink, wiping the foam from his mouth with his forearm. “I was just trying to be inclusive.”

“Honestly, I don't drink any pop. Or beer, for that matter.” Mel forced a smile. “It's too full of sugar. I prefer wine, thanks. Maybe a cider on a hot day but that's about my limit.”

“Okay. Do you want me to get you some wine? Red or white?”

“Honestly, I'm fine with this one. I don't want to drink too much and give the wrong impression.”

“I won't say no, though, Bryn.” Bernie reached for the discarded Coke. “I'll have a Blue Nun.”

Bryn snorted. “You'd have anything in a skirt, you would.”

Bernie leaned toward Mari and nudged her with an elbow. “Don't believe him. I wouldn't at all. I draw the line at anyone over forty.”

“I should hope not.” Mari sipped at her glass. “That's like, as old as my mom. I can't imagine... doing it... with someone that old.”

“Why not?” Bryn heaved himself to his feet and collected up the empty glasses in one meaty hand. “Isn't that being as exclusive as you thought I was being? I've seen plenty of younger women with older men.”

“That's different.”

“Why?”

“Old men are generally well off.” Mel grinned, dispelling the oppressive mood. “I'd abandon my principles for a rich older woman.”

“Widows.” Bernie raised her half-glass of Coke into the air. “God bless them, every one.”

short forms 1st May 2016

she's gay
but her protests
fall on his deaf ears
how can someone so beautiful
like girls?


© Rachel Green 2016

blackbird hen
on the mossy lawn
Beltane fire


© Rachel Green 2016

full house
a glut of children
in the front room
the dogs are all eww!
small humans with sticky hands


© Rachel Green 2016

apples
from the supermarket
in plastic bags

remember when everything
came in brown paper
and had scabs and cankers?

halcyon youth


© Rachel Green 2016

a certain generation. Her novel audience.

© Rachel Green 2016

April Poems 2016/30

Barbara

She lived on Randal Avenue
a dead end without a gennel
where there was no reason to walk past
and be all casual like
Hey! Good to see you!
without looking like a stalker
(which I totally was)
this was in the days before internet;
before mobile phones were a thing
and we went to different schools
and besides,
my Catholic mother wouldn't approve.
Her family were Prossies.