Strangely Surprised. A poem.

Strangely surprised:
it would seem I believed
that I’d be so much wiser
from here on, indeed.

It just took one glance
and I’m back on the teat,
pride reined in per chance,
all humility.

Strangely surprised
that there’s no freedom ride,
and no tunnel end light
to set a course by.

It seems fate has decided
that it’s better for me
to be forever derided.
And so shall it be.

I never liked the thought
of being strangely surprised.
In an overwrought world,
perhaps this is why.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

Anvil. Part 3.

The little girl flinches, stepping back and hugging the teddy bear and Granny Chun’s leg. “Well what did you expect?” says the old woman. “You come here looking like some badass, muscle-head man and expect your daughter to recognise you?”

The Anvil steps back, shakes her head. Chun is right. What prompted her to make such an extreme change? Armatures come in female forms. Why take on a male version?

“Of course. I bet you’re thinking ‘why didn’t I take a female form?’” says Chun, rolling her eyes. “You’re just as stupid now as you were then.” The Anvil is taken aback—she still has no memory of who she was before, other than that she was the mother of Violet. She pops another two memjets for good measure.

“You keep popping those pills and who knows how your synapses are going to resculpt,” says Chun, grabbing the packet from the Anvil’s hand. She’s fast for a wizened, cranky old crone. “You’ll probably end up brain damaged, if you’re not already.”

“I need those,” says the Anvil, reaching.

Chun holds them back and wags her finger sternly. “Of course, you do. But better to see how much of your recall comes back naturally, rather than pushing your limits with memjet.”

The Anvil regards the old woman suspiciously. “And just what makes you an expert on Armature rebirths?”

Chun smiles slyly. “Who do you think recommended the upgrade?” She places the box of pills in her pocket. “Of course, I never said use a male version. What, did you think having a dick would make you tougher? Now that’s just sad.” Violet giggles, while still clinging and hiding behind Granny Chun’s lower leg.

“I need to get my daughter out of here,” says the Anvil. Her expressionless masculine face belies any concern. She’s not sure how she feels, yet. Maybe that, too, will come back in time.

Chun laughs. “Of course, you do. And where were you planning on taking her? You don’t even know why you’re here.”

The Anvil looks perturbed. The old crone has a point. “What would you suggest?”

Chun picks up Violet and hangs her on her hip. The girl chews her teddy’s ear (already dog- eared, no doubt her go-to in times of stress). “I’ll accompany you.” Chun goes behind the blanket dividing the room. The Anvil can see her infrared silhouette pulling gear from a cupboard. Violet is a multicoloured vision flicking her legs back and forth as she sits on the bed where Chun deposited her.

A few minutes later Chun emerges with full flexiplas body armour, ion ammo belts for her pumpgun and a wicked looking, six-inch NESblade in a scabbard on her right boot. “Of course, I’m prepared.”

“Where did you get all of that?” says the Anvil.

“From you, idiot. Before you rebirthed.”

The Anvil scratches her head. As insulting as this old witch is, her presence is reassuring. Or maybe that’s just the way the Anvil’s new brain thinks about someone before smashing them.

Violet exits wearing a sleeveless flak jacket. “Sorry, sweetie,” says Chun, kneeling to check the fit. “I don’t have anything else in your size. We missed the kid’s battledress Christmas specials.”

Chun stands and faces the Anvil. “Have you fully assimilated the guide yet?”

“I think so.” The answer is more hopeful than the Anvil would like.

More eye rolling from Chun. “If we get in a jam I don’t want a multiple choice from you when I’m asking for a mega-joule microwave emitter.” The Anvil smiles, but deep down she’s feeling a level of anxiety she isn’t used to (or is she—was she anxious before? Damn her useless memory).

The Anvil kneels next to Violet. “I have a compartment for you, Violet, in my back. It’ll keep you safer than that jacket.” The area of the Anvil’s back from splenius capitis to latissimus dorsi, opens like a multi-segmented flower. The portions lengthen fluidly and join to form an armoured capsule that extends from the rear of the Anvil’s torso. At the top, a clear plassteel cover has formed where Violet’s head will be, so she can see. Violet looks to Granny Chun for guidance. “It’s okay, sweetie,” says Chun. “It may look like a stupid male, but it is, in fact, your stupid mother.”

The tiny girl, gripping her teddy tightly, climbs cautiously into the compartment, which seals around her. At first, she is alarmed, but once the Anvil stands she calms and starts to laugh at the wonderful ride. It’s like she’s being permanently piggybacked in a super-strong baby carrier.

Chun and the Anvil step out of the crude shack onto the concourse. The stalls are empty, without movement. The familiar sights and sounds and smells have vacated like the passing of a puissant hallucinogen. A lone, shadowed figure stands not far from the pair, nestled between a throng of wicker baskets and laminated jackets.

“You’re not going anywhere,” it says in an amplified voice fit to grind calcium from bone shards. In response about twenty red targeting optics appear on the Anvil’s chest, laser lines knifing back to covered snipers positioned around the complex.

“Of course, we beg to disagree,” says Chun, cocking her pumpgun.

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here.

What is ANVIL?

ANVIL is a deliberately unplanned, multi-part short story I’ve created to challenge myself as a writer (I’ve done this before with The Sale – check it out). My intention is to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the dilemma and continue the story. I have no idea how the story will progress, no idea what it’s about until I get there.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoy my continuing experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Concrete. A poem.

Here I am, brought to heel
by poor choices and destiny,
to learn a well-earned lesson
of respect and humility.
Here behind this concrete veil,
my hope is born anew.
All thin facade and curtain call,
a life sentence, all askew.

Surrounded by the worst of souls,
(of which I am one, you see).
My brothers are the least likely relatives
I would ever want or need.
Their remorse is not equivalent
to the guilt and shame I feel.
Their self-motivation is not equal
to the self-hatred that’s in me.

True mercy is a learned response,
a cognitive form of truth, indeed.
Here I will languish long and hard,
face the judgement of my peers.
Here I will walk, work, rejoice,
for here my God will show me
the grace and everlasting spirit
that I truly need to see.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

A Captured Moment. A poem.

The most beautiful woman
in the world
smiled at me and
laughed with me and
had me hypnotised
with every sultry breath
and swollen, fulsome thought.

I was so enraptured that
I wanted one single moment
of this polychromatic
butterfly collection
captured and frozen forever
in a gracious sliver of recall,
pinned beneath glass.

So that, anytime,
I might bring it out, dust it off and,
for just a moment,
relive it all again.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

Haiku Friday. ‘Star Shells Sing’ – a haiku trilogy.

Star Shells Sing. A haiku trilogy.

1. Star

See the stars above,
sing songs of restless passion.
I know how they feel.

2. Shells

I would take them all;
capture all the star-bright shells,
cast them on your shore.

3. Sing

My shore-stars would sing
a melody of longing,
music just for you.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

Entwined. A poem.

Entwined, we two;
encapsulated in a mad
statement, read between lines
and screamed between pages.

A subtle madness,
shortness of breath,
long, laboured movement
and languid, liquid refrain.
Teetering on the brink
of apogee, into a light
that breaks this shared darkness
and brings ecstasy.

This pleasure and pain
could last forever and a day,
if we so choose.
But the yearning world
entices us beyond this
twined embrace.

Our coda demands
it meet a fitting end.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

Anvil. A short series. Part 2.

The bubble cab drops quickly. Through the transparent plastiglass roof the Anvil can see the city’s bottom, a mishmash of giant tubes, pipes, grav generators and spotlights. The ocean below rises to meet the taxi, a cacophonous tundra where waves crash against the broken skeletons of old skyscrapers half buried in the depths, the cracked and rusted torsos of ancient swimmers frozen in time.

The rain starts, drumming a familiar beat on the cab’s glistening, rounded surfaces. Lower and lower it goes, until the vacant sides of the half-submersed buildings come starkly into focus, all broken windows and crusted metal facades. The cab flits between the old structures, tracing an invisible path through the pounding rain and surf until it arrives at a globe-topped building, as cracked and worn as the others. “You have arrived at your destination,” says the taxi, demurely. The door slides up and a metal gangplank telescopes to the nearest opening, a gaping hole where the building’s outer veneer has crumbled away, exposing rusting and pitted steel beams.

The Anvil climbs out, the rain speckling his armoured hide as he clears the gangplank and steps into the edifice. “Have a nice day,” says the cab as it accelerates up and away. He places another two memjets on his tongue and swallows. Memories pour in, again. He remembers the little girl, but also this place—he has visited here in the recent past.

Before his vision (displayed in infra-red and ultra violet spectrums) he sees a busy market place, with stalls and stores constructed of plastic and metal detritus, covering almost every square foot of this building’s floor. Hovering glowglobes cast muted light and shadows. Everywhere people swarm: bargaining, buying, selling, trading. There are food stores, gun stores, places selling parts for water purifiers, street hawkers selling time keepers and illegal palmchips, Verso and Damage (the latest designer drugs). Buskers, poets and whores ply their trade between stalls, and skinny children run rampant through the crowds, unsupervised. There are no police here, but everything is fairly orderly. Most are dressed in little more than rags; their lean, dirty and despondent faces turn towards him in fear, and the place quietens.

The Anvil moves through the crowd. Once the onlookers realise he isn’t a cop the volume returns, and people are back to business. He checks his internal guide, works out how to display a hologram. At a Thai food vendor he shows the proprietor a holo of the address and the girl’s face. The man tosses vegetables in a skillet over a gas flame, checks the image briefly, and points to a shanty on the edge of the floor. The Anvil approaches the rude metal construction and knocks on a corrugated iron door.

A pumpgun barrel extends from a gap in the steel, aimed at his chest. “What you want?” says a female voice, old and grizzled.

“I’m here for the girl,” says the Anvil, the holo appearing above his extended palm.

“What’s the code?”

He searches his memory. The code is there, having filtered back at the same time as the memories of this market floor. “Rose Alpha Zen.”

The sliding of a bolt. The door scrapes aside. A wiry, weary-faced woman, with missing teeth and a permanent scowl, holding a pumpgun in one hand and the door handle in the other. He doubts the woman could stop him, even if he didn’t have the code.

The wizened hag lowers the weapon, checks around to see who’s watching, and pulls him into the shanty. “You couldn’t be any more conspicuous?” she says grouchily.

It’s a single room, with a small table, coolant box, gas stove and blanket separating this area from the bedding. A hovering glowglobe dimly illuminates the area. The Anvil’s muscular bulk takes up half the room. “I assume that’s your new form,” says the old woman. “I guess you knew what you were in for.”

The old girl’s name coalesces into memory. “You’re Granny Chun,” he says.

She looks at him like he’s addled. “Of course I am, you idiot.”

He taps his head. “Recall transfer issues from the rebirth.”

Granny Chun rolls her eyes. “Of course there were.” She moves to the blanket and pulls it aside, her voice and features softening. “You can come out, little one, it’s all right.”

A tiny blonde girl steps into the glowglobe light, carrying a worn teddy bear. She cranes her neck up as she takes in the Anvil’s size. “Who are you?” she says, a slight tremor in her voice.

The clouds in his memory are clearing. The shapes and forms on the periphery of his thoughts take on solidity. He knows who the girl is. He also realises who he is. He is not a ‘he’ at all.

“Violet,” says the Anvil. “It’s me. It’s mummy.”

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here.

What is ANVIL?

ANVIL is a deliberately unplanned, multi-part short story I’ve created to challenge myself as a writer (I’ve done this before with The Sale – check it out). My intention is to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the dilemma and continue the story. I have no idea how the story will progress, no idea what it’s about until I get there.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoy my continuing experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Deserted. A poem.

Deserted.
Desert winds wax and wane
around my anxious senses,
tinged with the scent of the exotic,
the lingering perfume of your passing.
I track through the remnants
of my wandering wastrel heart,
amongst tumbleweeds of loss and regret,
wondering if these angst-ridden components
will ever again rejoin and rejoice.
A fitting Humpty Dumpy end:
all the scattered, arbitrary pieces
you have left behind.
Deserted.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

My Black Walls. A poem.

My walls.                Are.

Black

                                             As oil and just as wet.

Wet. From. All. The.

Spurious

Aimless.                      Thoughts

                                                                                                    I throw at them.

All the pointless.                         Shit.                              That.

Leaves.                         A snail.                Trail

                                                                                                            In its wake.

That.        Wends.                            Its

Way.                             To.               The floor.

                              I keep throwing

my aimless.                   Pointless.               Thoughts

                                                        And hope that.                       One.                 Day.

They will Coalesce.                                                                             Into

Something truly

                                                                    Worthwhile.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

Meltdowns happen.

Every once in a while, I find myself in a mental space I’d rather not be in. And it doesn’t seem to take much to get me there.

It’s a sure sign of poor mental health when a clothes washing incident can bring you to the brink of despair. It’s not the incident itself, however, but the stuff that’s been weighing on your mind, piling up like dirty laundry in the corner, a tower of linen just waiting for a slight tap to bring it all down (I would have said crashing, but that doesn’t seem appropriate for a big metaphorical pile of clothes).

All the crap you’ve been carrying, all the anger and bitterness you thought you’d let go off, all the hopes and dreams you’ve quashed over time—they all decide now is the time to come out and play. And how they play. Not like your best childhood friends in the playground, but foul, demonic entities ready to pluck and rend and torture your soul until there’s nothing left to save.

Of course, it’s all well and good to say, “buck up, move on, get over it”, but people all too rarely do, despite all their affirmations and aspirations. And so they wait, all those little bugs, hiding in your mental cupboards, tucked away in your drawers, just waiting for the day when they will be set free and their fun can begin.

It’s at times like these I have to remember the importance of my anti-suicide vow: my commitment to stay alive for my son. I do NOT wish to be a poster boy/role model for taking the easy way out.

No, life is about facing s@“# and getting on with it. And, yes, every once in a while, having a meltdown and wanting out of it.

But life goes on. It must. Because while we’re alive, it’s all we have.

Stay strong.

Steve

PS I’m so glad I can blog cathartically. I don’t know what I’d do without it, because I certainly can’t wait until my next therapist appointment.

Anvil. A short, unplanned series. Part 1.

He awakens to a miasma of colour, of senses and routines flashing incandescently in his mind, before his eyes, of images and words and confusion and cacophony, as the world comes into focus.

Through the informational arrays filling his vision, to the drone of his internals and the pump of his synthetic heart, the glow of body heat beyond the containment walls and the greasy smell of human perspiration elsewhere in the room—all his senses are buzzing like a mescaline high. When he holds up his hand he registers the tracery of titanium bones and plasti-synth muscles; the blood that pumps through his arterial corridors is not plasma and haemoglobin, but viscous and oil-like synthetic blood. He is not himself.

The man in white across the room regards a hologram floating before his eyes. “You’re awake,” he says; his voice is a dry riverbed, cracked and drained of life. “Good.” The radiant display disappears. He forms a toothy grin, more grimace than smile. “The best Anvil available, just like you wanted. Newest L-series armature: subdermal mesh and thermal weaponry, protein revitalisers, endura core, extra-high spectrum sensates, reformative layering. It’s all there in the guide, it should be registering in your forebrain processor, now.” The man in white winks, as if the Anvil is in on some subtle joke. “The best money can buy.”

The Anvil rises from the steel bed and places his feet on the floor. The metal is cold, the pressure registered in his artificial toes and ankle joints is nominal and signals his leg musculature to adopt a relaxed gait. “Where am I?” he says. His voice is dark, warm and smooth. Like chocolate or a good liqueur. “Who am I?”

The Doctor frowns, removes a scope-like device from his breast pocket and places it against the Anvil’s eye. It glows briefly, fireflies flicker. “Odd,” he says. “Memory loss is not common on rebirths.” He walks to a cabinet, removes a fist-sized plastic box and returns. “Take two of these Memjets every hour for the next two days. They’ll help stimulate your neural passages and rebuild your memory from your base drive. If your memory doesn’t return, come back and see me.”

The man in white smiles mirthlessly, claps the Anvil on the back. “Time for you to go. I’ve got others to rebirth.” He points to the door. The Anvil walks slowly across the room, adjusting to his lope; he reaches the doorway and realises he is naked.

“You can constitute clothing automatically, as needed to accommodate your circumstances,” says the Doctor, as if reading his thoughts. “Check the guide.” As if by magic, a blue shirt, black jeans and leather boots weave themselves from nothing, a facade for the Anvil’s muscular frame.

* * *

Outside the clinic, the world is shiny, phosphorescent and neon-coated. It is a sunny day, although the hazy grey and overcast clouds punctuating the blue above indicate possible rain later.

Initially, he registers the gamut of people as ghostly, skeletal afterimages, until his senses adjust and the ‘guide’ is subsumed into his consciousness. Bodies take shape, becoming smartly-dressed men and women in motion.

Massive multi-storey spires hover in the air, hundreds of metres above the tumultuous watery plains below. There are no roads–multiple glowing cylinders connect each structure and through each the inhabitants swarm like ungracious ants, going about their black, grey and blue-suited business. Each floating building is connected to one another by multiple transtubes like tethers. Lines of flying vehicles fill the airspace in between, and the glow of skyscraper-high advertisements penetrate every sense.

The Anvil makes his way to the wall of the glowing linktube, avoiding the fertile crush of bodies. Through the near-transparent wall he sees the patina of airborne traffic carpeting the spaces between multi-storey colossi: transparent bubble vehicles, stubby-winged aircars, floating police transports.

He notes there is a small crystal chip embedded in his palm. A quick scan of pedestrians around him indicates this is standard. The Anvil sees a man hailing a taxi to the linktube by raising his chipped palm.

Hundreds of feet below an aged boat, seemingly crafted from junk, is capsized by a wave—scores of tiny people spill into the surf and struggle fruitlessly like ants in a toilet before being sucked below. No one else pays heed. The Anvil watches the distant struggle, notes the lack of concern around him. Apparently, this is commonplace. Life is cheap, here. Or perhaps those who float above place little value on those who float below.

He pops two Memjet pills. They hit his synapses almost immediately, registering as a sharp pain in his skull and making him wince. An image: a child, a girl with silky blonde hair clutching a teddy bear, no older than five. She means something to him. An address flashes up. A clue? Somewhere to start. The Anvil raises his palm and waits briefly.

A flying taxi arrives, a glistening sphere with motion-filled ads playing over its surface, and hovers beside the tube. A hole opens in the cylinder wall, transmetal flowing like mercury. The Anvil enters the cab and sits. There are two rows of seats facing each other, tinted windows on each side, no driver—fully automated. “Take me to this address,” he says. His chip is scanned, the address and fare debit registering automatically.

“Please be aware you have asked me to take you to a sub-level,” says the taxi’s eloquent sampled voice. “Sub-levels are considered dangerous and are unsupported. Once you exit me you are responsible for your own well-being.”

“That’s fine,” says the Anvil. “Take me down.”

To be continued…

What is ANVIL?

ANVIL is a deliberately unplanned, multi-part short story I’ve created to challenge myself as a writer (I’ve done this before with The Sale – check it out). My intention is to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the dilemma and continue the story. I have no idea how the story will progress, no idea what it’s about until I get there.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoy my continuing experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Surrounded. A poem.

Here I am, surrounded,
my enemies on all sides.
A pincer movement
designed to take my pride.
Am I not deserving of my pain?
Am I not due comeuppance?
I have unintentionally misled,
miscommunicated my intent.
I have been vain and bent
out of shape and arrogant.
So, let them come.
Let my enemies close in,
vanquish me, take me down.
I will not fight the inevitable
and will welcome each foe
with the open arms
of a man who’s learned
that in the final end
you reap what you sow.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

Beatitude. A poem.

Salt-filled streams in cotton valleys,
stuttered remnants of hazy fantasia.

Every shed raindrop that stains
this silky, cloud-like tundra,
is just another overture to redeem
my lonesome, enervated soul;
another blatant and monotonous
attempt at constructing
a beatitude of nearsighted ardour.

How I long to love thee,
to trade this near-infinite sadness
for a long and fruitful life with you.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

The Sale. Part 20. The Final Instalment.

The police lights twirled, casting brightly coloured fireflies against the mansion walls. Police wandered back and forth from the house. Everywhere you looked was yellow crime scene tape, cordoning off the building and grounds into their own little worlds where masked crime scene investigators in loose overalls prodded, bagged and played. The rain had stopped and the moon gaped full and garish from behind indifferent clouds.

The main police interviews were yet to come, but there was enough initial discussion when they arrived to realise this was a major case. The media hadn’t taken long to show up, and the street was full of television crews and reporters conversing with tripoded cameras.

Aisha sat beside my gurney after I was loaded into an ambulance. The EMS had triaged me and now joined the driver in the cab.

As the doors closed Aisha smiled and gripped my grimy hand. She’d managed to wash, although her hair was still stringy and matted with dried blood. A large bruise swelled on her left temple. A hefty woollen blanket enclosed her like a shawl.

“Hey,” I said. “You clean up pretty good.”

“As do you. If you like that beaten and bloody, ‘just stitched by the Doctor’ look,” she said, a tear forming at the edge of her eye. We both sniggered, but the act stimulated every cut, bruise and wound on our bodies, forcing us to stop. The suspended IV bag rocked gently back and forth as the ambulance picked up speed on its way to the hospital.

“We made it,” I said.

Aisha sighed. “But what now?”

“Lots of police interviews and stuff, I guess. I’m willing to bet money that Silas had more salespeople buried in his backyard. Could be the story of the year.”

“I meant about us. I don’t know about you, but my head’s screwed up pretty bad.”

I grimaced with the pain of my shoulder and jaw. “I guess we’ll just have to work through it.”

Aisha glanced away, wiping the tears from her eyes. She stared back at me. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Helping me get out of there, stupid.” She chuckled. Her tears recommenced their race down her cheeks.

“You saved me more times than I did. I’m just glad it’s over.”

Aisha leaned over and hugged me. I yelped from the pain, and she righted herself. “Oops. Sorry.”

“That’s okay,” I said, grinning through the pain. “No sale for either of us, tonight.”

Aisha smiled and held my hand tighter.

* * *

The ambulance driver was a young woman, no older than late teens. Her shoulder-length red hair bobbed as she threw the vehicle into another bend. The blood-stained body of the EMS next to her shifted lazily on the seat, head lolling back and forth with each turn.

“My mother was killed by a vacuum cleaner salesman,” said the driver, emphasising every word through clenched teeth.

The ambulance forged onward. The rain started again, the swollen drops a volley fired at the dark and sullen road ahead.

The End?

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

What is The Sale?

The Sale was an unplanned, multi-part short story I created to challenge myself as a writer. My intention was to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the issue and continue the story.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoyed my little experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Unrequited TV Love. A poem.

Why is it every TV show I watch
reminds me of what I want,
the desirous and palatable fuel
that I need from you?

Every heartfelt admission
of love unrequited that looms
heavy and untold in my vision,
every sideways glance and
momentary, tender indecision
that a character threads and treads,
brings a singular salty tear to my eye
because I know just how much
I engage and identify with the
nearsightedly looming situation.

It’s enough to give up TV watching.
But I won’t, because like causality
and infinitesimally awakened remission
I like being constantly reminded
just what I’m forever missing.

We could be together in
some telemovie screenplay,
lovestruck starlets preening
awkwardly on an ambient stage,
but it still wouldn’t be as good
as it if we were together, for real,
you and me as one, today.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

New Goal. A poem.

I often ideate about endless sleep,
when the lights are dim, and my thoughts are deep.
I sought it once, but I screwed it up
(if I wait forty years, I’ll get what I want).

My new long term goal:  stay   awake   for  my   son,
keep him wide-eyed at the wheel, to avoid a collision.
To overcome the challenges that his life does present,
to learn some much needed life experience.

Then I can have my endless, dreamless, painless sleep
from which I can forget about all of this.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

The Sale. Part 19.

The revolver was shaking in Silas’s hand as he pressed it against my skull. Water streamed down his face, mingling with his tears. I closed my eyes tightly. I could hear a rush of breath escape Aisha’s lips.

The hammer clicked. Again. And again. Nothing.

I opened my eyes. Silas was inspecting the weapon, his teeth gritted. He swept the useless pistol at my head, but I rolled away, avoiding the blow.

Aisha screamed, raised her knife and charged the huge fellow. Silas didn’t miss this time, clocking her above the temple and sending her stumbling and stunned to the grass. I tackled the big man’s legs and he gave way. As Silas hit the ground I started crawling my way up his body, but a well-placed shoe heel hit me directly in the mouth and knocked me off. I could taste salt and iron as sweat and blood mingled with saliva. I spat and rolled across the lawn away from him.

Silas climbed to his feet, the butt of the revolver in his hand, cursing and crying. Soaked with rain, he looked like a giant silhouetted scarecrow against the whitewashed house wall.

“Junifer,” he sobbed. “My Junifer…”

I kneeled next to Aisha, who groaned and held her temple. Her face was painted in blood, her hair hanging in strings down her back and chest. I grabbed the knife from the grass beside her.

“Give it up, Silas,” I said. “You can’t stop us now.” I rose up, bent over in pain, shaking from exhaustion and blood loss. “We’re going to the police. Your little house of horrors is done.” I smiled at the melodrama of it all.

“No,” he replied with a grimace. “It’s you who’s done.” He ran at me, flailing the pistol butt as he did. We connected. We both fell. Silas grunted.

“Nicely played,” he said, wheezing. The knife hilt extended from Silas’s chest—he gasped for breath as a murky blood stain grew beneath his shirt. Then he was silent.

Aisha clawed her way over to where I had fallen. “John,” she whispered, the drumbeat of rain punctuating her words. “Is it over?”

I lay my head back as she placed hers on my chest. “It better be,” I said. “I don’t think I can get up.” The rain continued its obsessive caterwauling on our shivering bodies. Aisha and I laughed; the manic laugh of insane asylum inmates, just prior to admission.

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

What is The Sale?

The Sale is an unplanned, multi-part short story I created to challenge myself as a writer. My intention is to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the issue and continue the story.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoy my little experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Blister. A poem.

The outer skin chafes
like the cajoling blister
on my consoling heart.
Only those who look deep
can perceive the anxious,
pitiful, exhausted souls
that have walked so many
miles in this inclement weather.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

The Shape of Water. A movie review.

I’m a big fan of Guiermo Del Toro. I loved the Hellboy movies and Pan’s Labyrinth is in my Top 10. I’m also a big softie for romance movies (so sue me).

The Shape of Water is Del Toro’s homage to the monster movies of the 1950’s, a ‘beauty and the beast’ romance about a mute girl who falls in love with a South American water monster being held in a secret government facility. The creature is due to be killed and vivisected, so the girl and her gay next-door neighbour break him out to save him.

the-shape-of-water-poster

This movie has all the elements to make it something special. Del Toro’s production design and practical prosthetic creature effects are on point. The actors are good, especially Sally Hawkins, who plays mute orphan Elisa. The 1962 setting is evocative, including commentary about the harsh treatment of African-Americans and minorities, and the brittle nature of Russian/American Cold War relations. There’s even a dance/big band musical scene with all the trappings. But something’s missing. What should have been an endearing and moving love story contains some jarring elements and has a predictable plotline that prevents this from being a Del Toro classic.

This is not a movie for kids. There are scenes of female nudity, masturbation, sex, and some brutal violence. Instead of lending the film an aura of realism/believability, they detract from the romantic, fairy tale plot and seem custom-made to titillate, rather than complement the characters or story.

Michael Shannon plays the same two-dimensional bad guy he’s typecast as nowadays. The ending is not only clichéd, but lapses into ET territory (but where ET the extra-terrestrial was a wonderfully woven story that remains a classic, Del Toro’s take on it is heavy-handed, derivative and predictable).

The Shape of Water was another near miss for me. So close to being good, but still disappointing overall.

Rating: C

Hollow Tree. A poem.

I’m just a                hollow         tree
on less than           hallowed     ground.

My sap is drained
and pain, profound.

Within this forest,
where my cries ring loud

I’m just a               hollow          tree,
one of                     many,           around.

Just a single, hollow tree,

praying                 to                   be
saved, and            finally           found.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

Feast. A poem.

Why do we hurt each other so?
Why do we tear at our bones
like brutal, savage, starving

DOGS

(begging and braying for blood)
until all the meat and gristle
is torn away and our ivory husks

GLISTEN

with the saliva of our folly.
When will this feast be over?
When will we fearsome beasts

LIE

engorged and sated
on memory and security
and rest forevermore.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

Sunshine Blogger Award. I don’t think I’ve ever been accused of bringing sunshine, unless it was out of my…

Thanks, Mairi, for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger award. Please check out Mairi’s cool blog, Hitting 60!

It’s always nice to be nominated, but it takes me so long to write a post about it – DOH! I may be a mature-age student with little to do, but I have only limited time in which do little. If that makes sense…

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to bloggers who are inspiring and creative (or, in my case, depressing and morbid). Once nominated, a blogger is required to:

  • Thank the blogger for nominating them and link back to their blog (Tick!)
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you (Aghhh! More work! See my answers below…)
  • Nominate 11 other blogs and give them 11 questions to answer (Because I’m lazy I’ll nominate some, but I may not make the total number. Does this mean I’m disqualified?)
  • Notify your nominees (Aghhh! Even more work! Can’t they just read my blog post?)
  • List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo in your post (Aghhh! Yet more work. Oh, alright, I’ll do that bit. I suppose it’s the least I can do…)

My answers to Mairi’s questions

Do you believe in God or another deity?

I sure do! The Big Guy Upstairs (as I like to refer to Him) and I have been in cahoots for about four years now. Every day is an adventure and every day is a blessing. Even when I’m depressed (which is often).

Don’t believe me? Check out this poem in His honour.

Are you a quick thinker or a deep think?

I’m a bit of both. And a bit of neither. I’m usually in two minds about that sort of think (see what I did there? I’m so funny, I crack myself up).

How long does it take you to write your average sized blog?

Depends on the size of the average-sized blog. A poem usually takes me about 10-15 minutes. About the same amount of time it takes me to deliver my ablutions.

Yep, I write most of my stuff on the loo. Not joking.

Why do you blog?

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: I have no life.

Actually, that’s not the real reason. The real reason was to use it cathartically and to encourage me to write every day, as I’m a lazy writer. It’s worked so far.

How many books do you read a year?

I’d love to say 100, but it’s more like 40-50. I’m slowing down in my old age. Uni and life gets in the way.

What was the last book you read and when?

I’m currently reading a number of books: The Zom-B Chronicles (Darren Shan), On Writing (Stephen King), The Making of a Poem (Mark Strand et al), Reaching Toward the Heights (Richard Wurmbrand), Stories of Your Life and Others (Ted Chiang), The Book of Joy (Dalai Lama/Desmond Tutu), Cultural and Media Studies: A Semiotic Approach (Thwaites et al), Batman Rebirth: Volume 1 (Tom King) and the Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Role Playing Game core rule book.

I’m also reading a few e-books on my iPhone: Slow Horses (Mick Herron), Skykeep (Joseph R. Lallo), and The Language of Bears (John Eidswick).

And, of course, the greatest book of all: The Bible (The Big Guy Upstairs).

I always have a number of books on the go at any one time. It’s exhausting.

What country are you blogging from?

The great and wonderful land of Australia, where the skies are always blue, and the people are too (well, I am, anyway).

What is your current profession?

I am a humble, slovenly, misanthropic, mature-age student with a penchant for writing half-decent poetry. I just published my first e-book of poetry, so I suppose I can call myself an author, now.

Do you have a hobby outside of work and blogging?

I love playing table top role playing games. I love working out (HARD!). I love walking other people’s dogs (HARD!). I love writing and recording music (HARD! I mean, not hard as such, actually more laidback…). I love spending time with my son (although that’s not really a hobby).

I love being miserable. Oops, shouldn’t have said that last one; now people will think I’m depressed, or something.

How many times do you laugh a day?

Not as much as I used to or would like to. But I get a few in here and there.

Were the above questions thought provoking?

They certainly took me long enough to answer. Who made up the rules for this thing, anyway? How about five questions, next time. Or better still, two.

My Questions for Nominees to Answer:

  1. What’s your favourite aeroplane story? Or airport story? Or failing both of those, your favourite time on a bus. (Oh, come on, you must have travelled on a bus at least once…)
  2. When you get up in the morning, do you blow your nose? No? Wow, you must get quite a blockage up there. How do you breathe at all? Are you a zombie or something?
  3. Now that we know you’re a zombie, how do you prefer your brains? Straight from the skull or with some kind of relish?
  4. If you were in a zombie apocalypse, which best friend would you want to have with you? (Make sure all your friends get a chance to read your answer so they can snub you when they find out it isn’t them).
  5. Okay, so now we know you have no friends. Are you a basement lurker or do you have your own place? If you have your own place, I know a guy who would make a great room-mate.
  6. How many more of these questions do I need to make up?
  7. Are we there yet? If you answer no, you should describe the scenery you are seeing RIGHT NOW outside your window in the form of a 39-line Sestina.
  8. There once was a man called ‘Backstabber’. He had some problems with his _________ . He bent over once, ended up with a ________ , and finally went back to his _________ . Fill out the spaces in this inspirational limerick. Make sure it’s funny (HAH! There’s a catch to everything).
  9. If you are a depressing person, are you on meds? What are they and where do you get them? Send some to me so I can test them out. If you’re on non-prescription drugs, send those as well. (REMEMBER, KIDS: Say NO to drugs.)
  10. I’m running out of ideas for questions. How much more of this to go? Not there yet? Damn!! Make up your own question.
  11. Ever been nominated for an award before? You have now. Enjoy my nonsensical questions. And write something interesting for this non-question.

My Nominees (Sorry, I’m tired. These wonderful blogs will have to do):

Thanks for making me work so hard, Mairi! Now I really am tired.

Cheers

Steve 😊

Whirlpool. A poem.

My head is spinning,
lost in your days/daze.
Your whirlpool pulls me down.
I clamber for extant purchase,
a drowning man on your razor edge,
gormlessly clutching at eidetic straws
as water chokes my lungs.

Your centrifugal force,
it wears my patience paper thin,
teaches me mock restraint
and leaves me listless
upon a narrowing ledge,
where vertigo takes control.

I have no love for who I am,
but who am I in this fixation?
You drain the life from me,
like a purulent vampire,
and let the swirling waters
claim my desiccated corpse.

Your twisting, seething depths,
that churn and bite and goad,
and send be back to whence I came;
embittered, emboldened,
to begin the game again.

 

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. A Movie Review.

No Spoilers!

My son dragged me (literally) to see the new Jumanji film. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Four teens given school detention find an old game machine with the Jumanji game loaded. They are sucked into the video game-world of Jumanji, where they take on the roles of four game characters to try to return the ‘Eye of Jumanji’ to the final level to stop some bad guy from taking over the jungle world. Along the way they discover the meaning of friendship, yadda, yadda, yadda. All very uncomplicated.

Jumanji_Welcome_to_the_Jungle

Dwayne Johnson (that guy is in everything, lately), Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan, all have a ball with their roles, with Black (playing a self-centred teenage girl in a middle-aged professor’s body) and Hart (a jock in a nerd’s body) getting the funniest lines (although most of the jokes fell flat with me, the teens in the audience seemed to be chuckling enough). There are some decent action set pieces, but the bad guy and the overall threat to Jumanji are pretty shallow.

The movie manages to deliver some nice moral messages—don’t judge a book by its cover; be yourself; your real friends are the people you can rely on—and it wasn’t even from Disney. And in an era of over-the-top violence and overwhelming narcissism (which, ironically, also feature in this film), that’s not such a bad thing, is it?

Jumanji is a movie best appreciated by gamers, teens and kids. And the occasional adult dragged along for the ride.

Rating: C

Icarus. A poem.

My love is Icarus,
screaming on molten wings,
searing clouds with body heat;
an elevator ride straight down
to my beckoning crypt.

The ground is a winsome friend,
cajoling me as I approach.
The flames are streamers
as I hit the finish line:
winner? loser? both.

The wreckage of my fuselage
lies scattered over miles
of quiescent plain.
How do I fuse these pieces
back together again?
I’ll need more than wax
to achieve a greater end.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

Upstart Photographer #6 – Dogs and Monuments

When I’m walking the dog around town (not my own black dog*, mind you, although he is always with me), I often pass by monuments that look pretty cool. Naturally, I want to take a picture of them.

Fountain - stevestillstanding.com

Here are some black and white, unfiltered (but slightly cropped) photos of things I’ve passed. Below is the Obelisk, a major monument overlooking the city:

obelisk - stevestillstanding.com

And a dog who ended up ‘following’ my father home when Dad found him wandering the streets early in the morning.

stray dog - stevestillstanding.com

He was returned to his owner after several days of advertising and Facebook searches. Yes, the offset shot was intentional.

Enjoy!

Cheers

Steve 😊

* Don’t know the Black Dog? Lucky you. Depression is the Black Dog’s name, hounding me is the Black Dog’s game. Check out this early poem of mine for more.

The Sale. Part 18.

Junifer Vasilikov limped closer. In the moonlight we could make out a ghastly, bloody smear covering her features. Her hands were empty. “My mother was killed by a vacuum cleaner,” she said, wearily.

Aisha leapt to her feet, knife at the ready. I stood up and we faced Crazy Junifer, together. I raised my hands in a conciliatory gesture.

“Junifer,” I said. “We don’t want any trouble. We just want to leave this place.”

The mad woman’s eyes were wide, her tears mingling with dewy raindrops. Every few moments she would quirkily brush her hand across her wet, stringy hair, as if something annoyed her there.

“My mother…” she said, the words almost a whisper. Junifer lowered her head. She stood trembling.

“Junifer,” said Aisha. “Please let us go.” She lowered the knife to her side and extended a shaky hand.

Junifer sobbed. The light rain was drizzling, now, and our clothes were wet through. Aisha looked at me sadly, indicating to go around the poor woman. I stepped to the right.

Crazy Junifer leapt forward, screaming like a banshee and clutching at Aisha. The two grappled, twisting around as I watched in abject horror. Then Aisha pushed Junifer away.

A trip. A scream. A nauseating crunch. Junifer had fallen down the open hatch next to the house.

Aisha stood in shock. “I didn’t mean to—is she?”

I knelt and glanced over the rim. At the bottom of the ladder, Junifer’s body was twisted, broken and deathly still. A pool of blood grew around her as I watched.

The rain’s intensity had increased, the sound of each drop a hammer beat on the mansion’s roof and walls.

“NO!” screamed Silas. I looked up; he was standing over me. He must have come around from the front of the house. His face was a contorted cacophony of pain and rage. Watery rivulets cascaded down his forehead and cheeks. His eyes were wide with fury.

“I’ll kill you,” Silas screamed.

To be continued…

Missed earlier instalments? Click here to read more.

What is The Sale?

The Sale is an unplanned, multi-part short story I created to challenge myself as a writer. My intention is to write an episode as often as possible, generally (but not always) ending with a cliff hanger, then work out how to solve the issue and continue the story.

Only you can tell me if it’s successful, or not. I hope you enjoy my little experiment.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Longing. A poem.

The loving and the longing
soaked into heart and soul.
Sponges wrung at a moment’s notice,
all captured in a bucket
and mopped across the entirety
of my empty little world.

Here loving words are written
on lonely pages in electric cursive,
tempting fate with imagery
born of perceptive symbiosis.
Singular takes on whole new meaning,
along with didactic metaphors.

I would douse this pain with you,
but you’re so far away;
an unearthly, flowering oasis
in the unimaginable distance.

And my mouth is so dry.
And still longing to drink of you.

My first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. To find out more, click here.

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