Monday 30 November 2009

November Poems 30

A Good Story Stays with the Reader

She closed the book and sat back,
taking a long, slow breath and letting it out
three times:
in -- out – in – out – in – out
mixed emotions twisting her face
with relief the book had ended well
and for a story well told
but also sadness for the end of a journey
and a return to normality.

She rubs her fingers,
certain the print has come off the page
and transferred to her skin
but when she looks closer
she sees distinct words:
-- the needle burrowed deep –
burrowing into her skin.

She leaps to her feet
shaking her hand
trying to dislodge the phrase
but already it is in too far
she can feel the pricking as it enters the vein
and begins the voyage to her heart.


28-11-09 Queen's park

Sunday 29 November 2009

November Poems 29


One book. One heroine. One plot.
She tries too hard – it's all she's got.
One problem to pursue; one evil to subdue
She's the stuff of anti-heroes – not
one of your macho girls with muscles to employ
to take the baddies down with swords and guns to get the boy –
she's not the kind of character to give the guy a chance –
she'd likely blow his head apart than ask him to a dance.
She looks out from the pages as if to say 'This crap
is what you're churning out these days? You'd better take the rap
for pushing those neuroses on the crowd that likes romance.
Do you see what you've written? Do you dare to take a glance
at some of this forsaken prose that you pass off as done?
I'll be out of here directly so I guess you'd better run.

Crooked Spire from Vicar Lane

Crooked Spire

Saturday 28 November 2009

November Poems 28

Through this Novel Your Perception of the World will Change

Don't be afraid to open the cover –
if you are wise, or brave, or can leap
suppositions in a single bound over
the dread chaos of interrupted sleep;
if you can travel to foreign places
without looking like a tourist about
to step into god-forsaken spaces
between the rivers of a typeface – shout!
and let the world know you are the one who
shelters from the prematurely yawning
graves when there is nothing more to do
but steer a scented caravan 'til morning.

Or if you are the sort to read and sleep
run now, before they bring you nightmares, deep.

Image: John Henry Fuseli: The Nightmare

Cemetery Mirror

28-11-09 - mirror

All wood and objects (except fixings)
found during walks in the local cemetery

for sale
£80 inc P&P (UK) add £20 overseas

Cemetery Sun

25-11-09 cemetery greyscale

bright sunshine
mitigates the wind chill
old chestnuts creak

Friday 27 November 2009

November Poems 27

Aphrodite Rising from the Page

Her pupils
are the shape of an open book,
her irises the dull spines
of a library shelf
too long in the dust.

She steps from the pages
an Aphrodite
clad in prepositions and similes
and re-writes the world
in Her image.

Queen's Park, Chesterfield

Park Bench

Thursday 26 November 2009

November Poems 26

The Gratitude of the Saved

She claws the last page open
thankful for the epilogue;
a chance to reflect upon her journey
and the death of the man she might have loved.
Her journey has been as harsh as it was long
and the woman who began chapter one –
carefree, in love for the second time,
a connoisseur of art and fine whisky –
would not recognise herself now
nor the stiletto in a thigh sheath
or the spark of fear in her eyes.

Still, she places a rose upon a grave
and thanks the writer
for leaving behind a synopsis of the story
when she died so suddenly
from a blade in her throat.


Cotoneaster, pansies, beech

cotoneaster, pansies, beech

Wednesday 25 November 2009

November Poems 25

Celsius Four-Five-Oh

450 degrees Celsius –
the temperature at which paper auto-ignites
and books burn
(Bradbury thought Fahrenheit 451 made for a better title).

To increase the scarcity of her only novel
she elects to burn the remaining copies
(save her own)
but her oven only goes up to 225 degrees
leaving the pages brown at the edges
but otherwise unharmed.

She sells them all as pieces of art;
each ten times the price on the cover
and is content.

Selling Brushes

Gwerty Brushes

Tuesday 24 November 2009

November Poems 24

Nobody Says 'Give the Girl Some Money'

A week, a month, a year passes –
she fires off another e-mail to her publisher
'Hey! Remember me?
You still owe me a grand for the novel
and four hundred in royalties
from six months ago.
Any chance of payment?'

A reply comes back
'Oh no! We'll look into it
and ignore you for another month.
Hey! We know it's a breach of contract
just like the publicity we didn't do
and the review copies we didn't send out
but what are you going to do?
At least your book's in print.

And besides,
we all got out bonuses.
Did no-one ever tell you
Writers don't get rich?'

Ellen Slinn

Mary Ellen Slinn
1896 - 1961

Monday 23 November 2009

November Poems 23

The White Noise of Writing Novels

Among the daily rumble
of the washing machine,
and the clatter of the drier,
the fans inside the computer
whirr and hum and the hard drive
(old and in need of replacement)
buzzes and clatters.

Overriding all
is the clatter of keys
as she types, types, types –
pounding out words with two fingers
(and her thumb on the space bar)
though inside her head the demons are crying,
drowning the gentle
as her synapses snap.

South Kensington

Sunday 22 November 2009

November Poems 22

Not Even a 'Thanks For Entering' Card.

I misread the flyer and I think I got it wrong --
the competition ends tomorrow: I am truly screwed!
my printer wouldn't take the ink that I got for a song
I printed out five hundred pages – every one was nude!
I copied files to USB and opened up the phone
book to find a printing shop that handled novel things
I dialled up several companies but nobody was home
until I found one miles away and wished that I had wings.
A fiver for the taxi fare and tenpence every page
(why did they ask for double spaced? I could have saved a mint)
the printer man was very pleased to have me pay his wage
I boxed it up and went to the post office in a sprint.
Twenty quid to guarantee delivery A.M.
I shelled out and never heard a thing from them again.

Town Hall

Chesterfield Town Hall

Saturday 21 November 2009

Arrived today

November Poems 21

The Albion Press

In her studio, an Albion press;
little different from those designs
of the 1820s.
She uses it to print the cover
of her latest book;
one hundred copies only
of 'Daughter of Angels'
each numbered and signed:
four hundred loose-leaf pages
in a cardboard box;
each with a small surprise in the lid:
a miniature portal to Faery
just big enough for a goblin.

Doorway, Sourh Kensington


Friday 20 November 2009

November Poems 20

And Then Came the Error Monkeys

She is satisfied at last,
survived the epic journey
that took her from an average clerk
in a busy solicitor's office
to Champion of Heaven, Queen of the Circle Sea
(via Charing Cross and Seven Sisters)
by defeating the Minotaur of Discounted Tampons
and found her lost love
following her exploits on paper
until she dragged him
deep into the subtext.

With victory so close
she is laid low
by Printer eRRoR
and the Spectre of Inappropriate Covers
aided by the Dread Pirate of Age Banding.

Our heroine slumps,

Newcastle Central Station Bench

Do not sit here
St Mary's Gate
in the distance

Thursday 19 November 2009

November Poems 19

Planning the Future

"I cannot love you," the heroine said
running a hand across his cheek
and tucking the cow-lick of hair
back into the golden mass.
"I have seen the synopsis
and you would break my heart."

"I wouldn't," he replied,
catching her hand and pressing the
palm to his perfect lips
"For I will love the until the end of time."

"Which is in a hundred and sixty pages,"
she said, "but you die three chapters
from the end of the book.
I couldn't love a character
who leaves me so bereft
and hasn't a hope
of appearing in the sequel.

10:50 PM Warren Street


Wednesday 18 November 2009

November Poems 18

Our Intrepid Hero Declares a Wedding.

A parsimonious lady and a miserly old man
tried for a relationship of trust but she said "Stan...
What foolish notion prompted you purchase such a thing
as a 1927 twenty carat diamond ring?"

"Viola, dear," said Stan as he looked about the room,
"It's not acceptable to furtle in a chap's private costume.
The ring I bought for you, m'dear, to seal out love forever
but fear not about the cost because it's on the never-never."

"What should I care, you stupid man? Just put it on already --
there nothing more inflation proof -- diamonds are a steady
source of inspiration for the up and coming girls;
I've been given several rings since I stopped collecting pearls."

"What I meant to say, old thing," said Stan upon his knee
"is do you want a wedding and my loving wife to be?"
"The pages of the book," said she, "are almost at an end --
Of course I will consent to be your tax-deduction friend."

South Kensington


November Poems 17

A Novel Big Bang

Words explode
filling the page
in a frenzy of activity
lines of dialogue
collide with reams of descriptive passages,
settings, character portraits, plot
and is cut
until the whole thing
is almost
(but not quite)
entirely unlike a novel –

the characters
are drowning in purple
and sinking
under the weight of verbs.

I screw the whole thing up
an implosion
of plotting and writing
leaving just the premise
to survive

Sun after the Rain

Monday 16 November 2009

November Poems 16

Clouds of Character Consciousness

the book is closed, the jacket on

inside, like people caught in a 'freeze time' spell,
the characters stop what they were doing and wait.

Are they happy, reliving their stories over again?
Would the reader prefer they do something different?

Are they conscious of the world outside their pages?
Do their thoughts coalesce like clouds above the covers?

I picked up an Enid Blyton the other day – the same edition
I read as a child in the sixties with 2/6 on the corner
of the dog-eared cover.
And disregarding the upper-class hints of post-war racism,
I was transported back to an England where it was safe
to leave your door unlocked
and the postman always said 'hello'
where children could roam the countryside without fear
and the lady at the post office knew your name.

And I decided the it was better they didn't change
I don't think they'd like it here.

Queen's Park

roadside pumpkins
in the grey morning light
a ferris wheel creaks

Sunday 15 November 2009

November Poems 15

Writer's (head on the) Block

The writer pauses on the page
what should her heroine do next?
give the man an honest wage
or stand her ground and make him vexed?
He's dug the grave as she requested
with each spadeful she has wept.
Upon the hearse, the coffins wrested
from the crypt where they have slept.
The worker's waiting for his coins
should she ask a lighter price
or offer him her naked loins
or with her dagger slice and dice?

should the writer leave the banging
or end the verse and leave them

Low Tide

but the tide is far distant
clambering over stones

Saturday 14 November 2009

November Poems 14

The Re-emergence of the Romantic interest

You read the novel
with an ease bought of indolence
reclining with one leg drawn up,
the book held in one hand at the top
the lines like a drop-down menu
on a computer screen.

In the other hand is an apple
one bite taken
and I can see the line of your mouth,
your teeth,
etched on the russet flesh

the curve of your lip quivers,
moistened by a quick tongue
and the line of your trousers shifts
and I know you've reached the point
where the heroine remembers you

and you are lost.

An A-Z of Possible Worlds

I won this in a drawing on Caroline Smailes' blog

A-Z of Possible Worlds

An A-Z of Possible Worlds (Boxed Set) by A C Tillyer

Aerial Perspective

Shrouded in mist
the cemetery ìs silent
three magpies saunter

Friday 13 November 2009

November Poems 13

Another Chapter, Another Scene

tap.. tap...tap..
another scene committed to paper
or pixels, rather, or bytes of information –
the stories in my head
committed to data
is this how AIs are made?

I let it simmer
and an hour later
read it back. and sigh


Hartland Abbey Bench

no room to sit
a bench half hidden
by the bank

Thursday 12 November 2009

November Poems 12

If Only I had Begged

If only I had begged a small advance
on sales of future works of mine
I might have taken you to dance
in fancy restaurants and dine
on all the caviar of life
and swim in hedonistic seas
and pirouette upon the knife
of Occam's choice and tease
the very nectar of the gods
from outstretched hands and seek
no more approving nods
from publishers and agents, bleak

But instead I trusted to
the softly spoken words – a view
of independent authorship you see
who make their dough from mugs like me.
If only I had begged a small advance
my book might well have had a fighting chance.

Matlock Bath

sunny afternoon
motorbikes galore
on display

Wednesday 11 November 2009

November Poems 11

Story Time

We have a hero
a genuine, honest-to-goodness hero
(except that she's a heroine)
who comes across a body
in her flat
in her bed
in her clothes
but she's not the killer
(even though the police treat her as
numero uno suspect-o).

Released on bail she has a week
to find the real killer
and a romantic interest
(let's call him Bill)
and overcome some obstacles
(another body? another killer? Bill himself)
and have a showdown
(in which she fails)
and pick herself up again
and fight for the truth
(stopping for tea at four)
until she prevails
and is changed by the experience
(or not)

and then we've built
a story

Clay Cross

shopping for motorbike gear
while the sun shines

Tuesday 10 November 2009

November Poems 10

Papercut Descartes

She opens the pages
and sees
the object of her desire
in the curve of a type press snake;
a river of white space
reveals his profile:
his nose, his lips, his chin

she wonders
if he can sense her watching
for who was it said
that the object of attention
is changed by the attention
so surely he must sense her reading
of his deeds and exploits
and his skill
with the little sharp knife
he keeps in his waistband
close to his spine.
And look! Does the book
not have a spine also?
she hisses
with the sudden pain of a paper cut
and a bloom of blood on the cover

Wetlands Field

autumnal colour
the dew-soaked clover
looks blue

Monday 9 November 2009

November Poems 09

Compulsive Reading

it drips off his fingers,
his palms are slick with it
and he almost drops the knife –
he leaves tell-tale trails;
drops, splashes;
teardrop shapes suggest direction of travel
away from the body
lying there in a pool of rich carmine red;
a liquid trail which snakes
over the old stone tiles of the kitchen
and down onto the rivers of type
describing the scene.
Page edges are already tainted
and it gathers at the corners,
coalescing into a single drop
falling to stain the duvet
as she turns another midnight page

The Rutland

Rutland Hotel
an oasis of calm
under the spire

Sunday 8 November 2009

November Poems 08

Should there be a Reason?

The plot demands it by tradition but
in life it is not always apparent.
In the paper yesterday there was a young boy
found stuffed into a waste pipe
his trousers missing and one shoe
left some distance away
the laces still tied.
I think about that shoe
as my murderer carves off the face
of his latest victim and
pulls out the teeth with a pipe-wrench.
Why was the boy killed?
the police and I wonder and the answer
comes in rusted steep and a pair
of dental grips in my hand:

Because he knew the killer.


We didn't go in --
it was too expensive
photos and gardens

November Poems 07

Saturday 7 November 2009


blues and yellows
Michaelmas Daisies and Echinacea
leisure centre glass