The Sadness. A poem.

The sadness creeps over,
a ponderous behemoth,
encompassing my lands and being.
It seeps into my streams, polluting them
with its murky ill-will,
making a mockery and a mire.

It kills off my grass and trees, turning
my greens to blight, leaving
animals once proud and determined
now abject and homeless;
caricature mascots.

It crawls over my buildings, infesting
every room and board, making
inhabitants into castaways
with the shore so near, so far.

And everything collapses under
the weight of its load, a gravity
far too serious for this light

head(ed) over heels,
a Hercules turned weakling,
bent knee and broken aspect,
an actuary who can’t reconcile his records
to account for the loss
of his greatest love.

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.

Fools’ Gold. A poem.

The road smouldered as
steel-tread fingers ran over it,
each car an indifferent lover.
Nothing was out of the ordinary
but the extraordinary.

I could no longer look upon you,
the pain too sharp, a constant thorn.
My cannibal hypocrisy consumed me
with self-deception.
One last glance
(you, the diamond amongst coal)
and I drove away into the
hazy mid-afternoon grey.

That was the day.
The day I let my muse fade.
The day I turned from you, away.
I realised dreams were
mirrors and reflections,
untouchable and jaded.

I wanted tears, but an empty
shell holds no water.
No reason to
cry/hope/dream/love.

Melodrama, my cold and
calculating friend, nudging me
awake and laughing at every
stuttered riposte
(all in good natured fun),
smiling in deepest irony.

I typed these words
and let my muse fade.
The clouds let loose their
ill-gotten gains to ply
a sympathetic trade.

Dreams are fools’ gold,
shining brightly.
And without my muse,
all mere deception.

Frost. A poem.

I live in surreality,
not quite alive, not quite dead.
I wander from one point to the next,
a confused and weary traveller,
conspicuously without intent.

The pleasures of the material
and the impractical align in
tacit disapproval.
I am a wanderer in confusion,
lost in the blizzard of bodies,
grabbing myself for warmth
like a frost-bitten seeker
faced with his last
insurmountable peak.

Someday this journey
will be done, and the last thing
I see, may be the first I ever saw.
As if all that mattered was the
concentric circle I travelled in
and the hoarfrost patina
on my windows,
obscuring what could have been,

and should have been.

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. A review.

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is Wizard of the Coast’s (WOTC) official new rules supplement for D&D 5e. Its 192 pages contain new sub-classes, racial feats, spells, magic items and lots of tables, including expanded magic items, random encounters and character background generators.

Overall, I felt a bit ripped off. All the content included is non-essential reading. Sure, it’s nice to have some new class options, and the tables of names and backgrounds may come in handy for some of my players, but the rest of the material is already available elsewhere (most of the spells are from the Princes of the Apocalypse adventure / free Elemental Evil Player’s Companion) or is stuff that I already homebrew (rules for simple and complex traps, for instance). This book is the same price as the core rule books ($60 AU / $50 US) with far less pages and useful content; maybe if it was $40 AU I wouldn’t have been so negative. XanatharsThe production and art is a high standard, as with all WOTC products, but is it worth $20 more than what a supplement should be priced at? And still no free PDF linked to the copy you buy, as most other game companies do. I’m willing to bet that this book also costs a motza on D&D Beyond, the new online pay-for-content digital toolset.

I would have preferred some of the tables (random encounters, for example) be added to the next printing of the DM’s guide, so that future DMs get the updated versions (I don’t use encounter tables, but there are others who would appreciate them). I must admit that I did like the inclusion of Tool Descriptions and DCs for tool usage (really, this should have been included in the Player’s Handbook originally), but once again, it’s not essential to play the game.

I am realistic and aware that WOTC needs to keep making money, so they can keep producing content. I’m hoping future supplements won’t be as short shrift as this one, though.

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is a supplement ideal for new DMs and players looking for new character options, spells, feats and backgrounds. More experienced DMs and those who own all the existing books may want to save their money and give it a miss.

The King Spoke. A poem.

The King spoke upon
the mount
to thousands who’d come far.
His words would
change
the world.

Did he know how much?
Yes, he did.

The same way he knew
He would be
betrayed,
and on his cross on Golgotha,
His Father would
forsake him,
then raise Him from the dead.

Did He know His
words and actions
would mean so much?

Yes, He did.

And He would do it all
again,

to save us with His
Grace.

Coriolis. A short tale.

He stared at the mirror, at the composite he had become. It held a reflection capturing his bitterest Hyde and Jekyll moments. He placed his hand firmly on the vanity, turned on the tap and watched the water spiral down the drain.

“You f$&@ing, arrogant, conceited prick,” he said. In the mirror his other self sneered, spitting vitriol. “Who do you think you are? Do you think you’re better than everyone else? Do you think you deserve more? Are you entitled? Who gives you the right to think you should be f$&@ing happy?”

The unblinking visage stared back at him. He was eye to eye with a ghost, a soliloquy made real. “She doesn’t even know you, you stupid, f$&@ing idiot.”

And there it was. The source of all his ire, ensnaring and holding him hostage, his personal Stockholm Syndrome. The one thing that kept him awake every aimless night. The thing that kept him longing insanely and losing himself sanely.

He thrust his finger at the mirror accusingly. “Why would you even attempt to believe that she was right for you? She doesn’t know you from a bar of soap.” He grabbed the slimy soap block from the vanity and threw it hard into the bathroom wall, where is clonked and slid to the floor. For dramatic effect? He didn’t know. He didn’t know anything anymore.

Tears welled in his eyes. He wiped them away with the back of his hand. “I’m giving her up,” he said. “I’m tired of loving and hating how I feel when she’s around. I’m tired of never being able to let her know how I feel. I’m tired of fooling myself anymore.” His mirror self slumped, the weight that should have lifted now magnified a thousand fold.

He looked at the empty eyes—the hollow, skeletal black holes were event horizons from which only sadness could escape. “It’s better this way. Who needs hope, anyway? There’s no point in purpose. It’s just another anchor to drag you down.”

The room seemed darker now, the embodiment of his thoughts. He slid to the floor, pulled down into a personal ocean of despair. He turned his back to the wall and collapsed into himself like the singularity he had become.

“It’s better this way.” But there was no one else to listen, and the whisper of his voice sounded even more hollow in the tiny tiled room that was just as much a cage as his head. Better this way, he thought.

The tap kept running, the stream of his pain a twisting coriolis, swirling downwards to a confusion of pipes and an endless, empty sea.

.

Actually, a true story. But if you’ve been following my posts you’d know that, lol.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Haiku Friday. ‘Bereft’, a haiku trilogy.

Bereft. A haiku trilogy.

1. Ebb
The last ebb of life,
seeping like sweat from my pores.
Let it go, you fool.

2. Ash
My heart is sliced
from my chest, burned alive;
all feeling, now ash.

3. Bereft
My solution lost
upon a sea bereft of
possibility.

.
Well, I hope you’ve had a better week than me.

Steve 🙂

When (part 3). A poem.

When will I be free of this life and all its bitter swill?
Force fed, every grueling meal mixed with bile and contempt,
returned to sender in a spray of misgivings,
a spent force that paints the tile in acrimonious colour.

When will this life leave me be, so I can rest in audacious peace?
When will I sleep and dream of nothing, free from pain and imagination
that only ever led me astray.
When will I break the chains you locked me in, through no fault of your own.

When will I leave this sad and weary shell behind,
wander with spirits, both bottled and ghostly,
and drown my last remaining dregs of hope in failure.

When?

When (part 2). A poem.

When did I lose you?
When did I turn my back on you,
then turned around and you were gone?

When did any hint of recognition
leave your eyes.
When did I become a third wheel,
constantly turning out of place
in time and space.

When did this supple heart grow dried
and worn, to wither in the sun
like a weed.
When did I lose the will to be with you,
let the scales unbalance and my
love be cast aside in bitter rebuke.

When will I ever learn?

When (part 1). A poem.

When I talk to you,
when I’m lost to the sanguine artfulness
of your words.
When your silken, soothing tones
surround me like the warmest winter blanket.
When the only light I need to guide me
is in your rainbow eyes
and sunshine smile.
When the aspect of your face is the only
solitary star in the darkening sky.
That’s when I know
I’m home.

And that’s when I awake
and know I’m still alone.

Shopping with the Olds

I went to the mall with my aged parents to do some Christmas shopping.

Note to self: find some excuse next time to avoid going with aged parents to the mall to do Christmas shopping.

I don’t dislike my parents–I love them very much. All the more so because they’re allowing me to live under their roof until my property settlement is finalised. In fact, I don’t mind sitting with them in a car or at lunch and hearing them squabble over the smallest and most ridiculous things, as long-term married couples do.

Here’s some other things I don’t mind, either:

  • I don’t mind adding my mother’s mobile phone number into my dad’s phone directory because he didn’t realise he deleted it and doesn’t know how to get it back.
  • I don’t mind that my father buys innumerable pairs of underpants every time he goes out (he has a draw full of new, unopened, old man undies, and insists on getting more. Just in case of an underpants apocalypse, I guess. You can never have too many pairs of undies when the s$&@ hits the fan at the end of the world).
  • I don’t mind that my Mum insists on telling me how to drive, even though she can’t drive herself.
  • I don’t mind that by lunchtime I’ve done most of my shopping and they’ve bought one pair of socks.
  • I don’t mind that dad asks me to buy him the new Simon Scarrow book for Christmas, then goes and purchases it anyway without telling me, literally ten minutes after he asked me to get it.
  • I don’t mind that my mother argues with me over the price of a DVD box set I’m planning to purchase as a gift, because she thinks I’m too poor to afford it.
  • I don’t even mind sitting in the backseat on the long drive home as my parents have an extended phone conversation with a friend on loudspeaker without ever acknowledging to them that I’m there.

Shopping with the olds. I don’t mind it at all.

But I think I’ll go shopping on my own, next time.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Game Over. A poem.

I’ve tried to forget you
(I don’t want to forget you).
My emotions lay on the table
like spilt wine;
I tried to lick them up
in a desperate alcoholic binge,
without a care for my fellow
patrons’ regard.

Why are you fading from my mind,
like an Alzheimer memory,
like the seaside whispers
of a shell, broken to
pieces.

I’ve betrayed me, so.

I’ve
let
you
go.

I should let slip the
dogs of war
to chew on my weary bones,
to remind me that I’m just a
lonely man,
that you’re just a
lonely woman
and that soon you’ll be

gone.

Swept off your feet
by some new broom,
who’ll sweep up the dust
of my passing,
and soon,
every trace of my passage
will be polished from the wood
of your floors,
as they rightly should.

A fitting end for the man with
no name,
who in the end, was purely an amateur
trying to play
in a professional’s game.

Chuck. A character study.

I created Chuck for one of my short stories, written for uni. Following is a character study I wrote for him.

If you’re not familiar with a character study, it’s used to develop a character’s background and personality traits. From these elements the character’s mannerisms and dialogue come to life.

Some character studies are complex, some are very basic. I like to keep mine short and to the point. This gives me more ‘wiggle room’ in the story.

Cheers

Steve 😊

 

He had been Chuck most of his life. Charles was his father’s name, and the less he remembered about that man, the better. Chuck remembered Daddy’s huge fists and the indelible marks they left. But he remembered his mother much more, whose solicitous yet indifferent fingers crept to places he preferred not to think of, but could not avoid.

Chuck’s stutter and southern twang caused people to look down on him, even though he towered physically over them. His schooling had been the streets and a succession of foster homes; places where survival of the fittest was the credo and the only philosophy he required.

Chuck didn’t fit in. Naturally he gravitated to solitary roles, places he could be his own man–no complications with relationships or body language, as foreign to him as a cellphone to a neanderthal.

Chuck was a truck driver now and good at it. He tamed his mighty beast on the primal tarred veldt, his whip the double shift, country and western anthems his habitual companion. He worked the long highways like a corner beat, with scars as evidence; his belly peeped from under his t-shirt like a misshapen eye, Rip Van Winkle beard and Garth Brooks t-shirt decorated with spilt drink and dried food scraps.

Justice League. A movie review.

I read about twenty negative reviews of Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon’s Justice League prior to going. I took my son with me to see it and we and everyone else in the theatre had a fantastic time. Screw you, critics.

The big DC heroes come together in this huge romp ‘em, stomp ‘em popcorn flick. I’m not sure why critics had probs following the story. I didn’t, and neither did my son. And the CGI was fine.

Basically, Batman and Wonder Woman bring Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg together to face bad guy Steppenwolf, a failed Apokoliption commander who lost the original battle to take earth for Darkseid thousands of years ago. The forces of the Amazons, the Atlanteans, the humans and a Green Lantern(!) capture Steppenwolf’s three Mother Boxes (living energy sources he was planning to use to change Earth into a version of his home world Apokolips) and hide them away. When Superman was killed in Batman vs Superman, the Mother Boxes came back to life and called Steppenwolf back to finish the job. No more spoilers!

Every hero got their fair share of screen time. There were laughs, there was conflict, there were heroes facing off against heroes and heroes versus villains. And yes, it all made sense. The fight scenes were well done, the action was great. The camaraderie and the character scenes were great.

Yeah, the story was a bit old hat and the villain was a bit blah, but we had an absolute blast with this movie. Go see it. Oh, and hang around to see the two awesome post credits scenes.

Rating: B

Haiku Friday. ‘Wings’, a haiku pentalogy.

Wings – a haiku pentalogy

1. Moment
One tragic moment
to turn your heart into ice;
extinguish the flame.

2. Deficiency
Such deficiency
within your mind, body and soul.
Pray you find the light.

3. Your Turn
Heaven weeps tonight
with all the unworthy souls.
Is it your turn now?

4. Redeemed
Walk the endless night,
a tightrope of redemption.
Return on gold wings.

5. Open Arms
Dare you try to fly
into heaven’s open arms?
The earth holds you firm.

.

Wow, this became a bit of a 5/7/5 syllable opus.

Oh well, sometimes poems have a literal life of their own.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

What do you want to write?

What are the issues that you especially want to talk about / celebrate / examine in your stories?

There are a lot of stories in the world. There are many more hovering in the random threads and wings of my head. They long to burst forth from their cocoons, bright and beautiful butterflies ready to shake mountains, half a world away.

I’ve led a very interesting life, but by some measures it may not be very interesting at all (I have never run away from ravenous cannibals, for instance). I have many personally-affecting issues that I’d like to examine in my stories, yet when I think of what I really want to read in one of my tales, issues are not the first thing that come to mind.

As a burgeoning writer, I first and foremost want to entertain. I want to write stories that are emotionally engaging, that are exciting and that surprise with their twists and turns. I want my readers to feel that they connect with me as an author, that they “get” me in ways they didn’t think were possible except with perhaps a well-known friend or loving partner.

I may not be the best writer in the world, but if I can achieve this in at least some basic way (whether that be a reader’s fleeting smile or a tightness in their chest), I will have succeeded in what I set out to do.

Okay, so that didn’t really answer the question. In short, I love all genres of writing.

Like Iain M. Banks, I want to write speculative fiction and current-day serious fiction. Like Patrick Ness, I intend to write kinetic young adult novels. Like Nam Le, I want to write short stories of every type, that bring a tear to my eye and that provide a fascinating juxtaposition to life. Like Justin Cronin, I want to mix literate writing with the horror thriller. Like George R. R. Martin and J. R. R. Tolkien I want to write fantasy fiction that astounds.

But I don’t want to write like any of them. I want to write like me.

Cheers

Steve 😊

This was my response a number of months ago to a question posed to me in one of my writing subjects. My answer still holds true, now. (It also contains links to some of my favourite authors’ websites.)

So, what would your answer be?

Go wild in the comments, if you dare 😉

Peak. A poem.

You conquered me
like a mountain (or a molehill).
Climbed me and then left me here,
another spire to aspire to.

Was I just a rocky crag used as
a monument to your success?
What was my reward, just a
wanton moment, better to forget?

Here I stand, wind blown
and forever circumspect,
a peak waiting on another expedition.
Hopefully, one that’ll show me more respect.

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.

Black Rain. A poem.

I watched the black rain
from my window.
It spilled down the pane
in tarry streaks,
a Malevich canvas.

I watched the flowers
gently steam and wilt.
The dark water spilled down
onto the road and into the gutters.
It flowed into the sewers and
thence to the sea.

There it merged with
chemicals, plastics, dead fish
and carcinogens,
taking its rightful place
amongst humanity’s leavings.

Black rain
spilled down my cheeks
in tarry streaks.

Love Never Sleeps. A prose poem.

Are you faded and fated, to pass from memory as if you were an afterimage on grainy film stock? Or consume me whole like Jonah’s whale, where I will suffer forever and a day?

I have wanted/needed you so desperately that I could not move or breathe without you taking control of me, like some mad puppeteer, pulling strings while I dance to some obscure polka tune.

Why should I forget you? You, who stole anxious days and nights of worry, where my thoughts betrayed me and I wondered constantly if you hoped and dreamed (like me) or even felt one iota of what I feel?

Now I sit here in the dead of night, composing this troublesome melody that won’t leave my mind, the needle stuck in an interminable groove, like an annoying advertising line. A sleepless, endless night where I wish I could just hold you to me tightly and say the three words that rasp on my breath and catch in my throat like the rusted bearings of primal, petty conscience.

And pray you want to hear them.

Sometimes. A poem.

Sometimes
when I’m by myself
and the night has swept
daydreams away, like dust from
polished floors;
when lights click off
and the house settles in
with creaks and purrs
of contentment.

Sometimes,
I wonder where you are
and whether I’m in
your consideration.

And sometimes,
when my mind plays trick or treat
with facile retribution,
I want you here
to play those games in person.

Haiku Friday. Anxiety. A Haiku Trilogy.

Anxiety. A haiku trilogy.

1. Harbinger
Tingling on your skin,
harbinger of darker things.
The skies open wide.

2. Run
Run while you still can,
‘fore this acid rain melts you.
Too much weight to bear.

3. Hide
You can’t hide from this.
A pall hangs over you that
doggedly consumes.


I suffer from anxiety, but manage it much more effectively now than I did a few years ago.

These haikus are for all the anxiety sufferers out there.

Stay strong

Steve 🙂

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 Trajectory. A poem.

My trajectory:
sometimes straight
and narrow,
sometimes a drunk man
attempting to walk a straight line,
while the cop just rolls his eyes.

My trajectory:
never in doubt,
sometimes questioning.
A walk through a dark forest,
as the furry eaves and murky weave
close off any chance of escape.

Clearer in hindsight,
never misplaced.
God-given, forthright and true.

My trajectory:
is you.

Chat(less). A poem.

Fractious conversations;
half-hearted, lip synced.

Frantic fingers tracing familiar paths,
back and forth across time
and space.

How much longer until each
gives in, or
gives up?

Until the melodrama
unfolds, like poorly crafted origami
and becomes
a crumpled paper crane.

Aimless fingers tap dance,
until the music ends.
You need to be somewhere
else,
other than your own space
and time.

Stop typing!
Feel the breeze on your face.

The world awaits.

Tired. A poem.

I’m tired.

And my drifting aimless gaze
settles on a distant mist-like haze
that wells up continuously inside,
like savage, misplaced pride,
and makes me drop like a stone
into waters unknown.
Lost on cruel tides that wend
the capitulating ocean to its end.

So tired.

If only sleep could solve this quandary,
instead of leaving me on the periphery
of a world that spins aimlessly,
through head space and trickery,
and leaves me wanting nothing less.
And nothing more.

Just tired.

Time to leave this place.

Steve is a literal starving artist.
Please keep the dream of poetry alive by supporting his worthy cause.

Steve’s first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. For more information,
click here.

The Stand. A poem.

Just one tiny moment of her time.
Just one glint in her eye.
Did she look my way?
Is she thinking about me?
A lifetime of insecurities,
rearing like some untamed bronco,
kicking my ass before I’ve a chance to tango.

And now, here I am,
stupefied and indignant,
wondering what do I do to impress her next?
Maybe I could put myself down again,
or perhaps be less vexed.
Or maybe I could just retreat
with my tail between my legs.

No.
Not this time.
Time to make a stand.
Let me just catch my breath,
pull on the gloves
and listen for the bell,
before I go down for the count again.

For one more little glimpse of heaven,
and one more
tiny moment of her time.

The Fault in Our Stars. A book review.

It seems I can’t stop reading profoundly affecting books.

A friend of mine loaned me John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, the mega-selling young adult novel about two teenagers in cancer remission who fall in love. “You’ll need some tissues,” she said, and she wasn’t wrong. This book brought me close to tears on a number of occasions.The fault in our stars

The Fault in Our Stars is about 16-year old Hazel, a far too smart and interminably sassy girl permanently attached to an oxygen tank since her thyroid and lungs were attacked by cancer. She’s on an experimental drug which prevents her tumours from growing, but like many victims of the disease, she is somewhat cynical about life and her place in the world. Augustus Walters is a 17-year old interminably good looking ex-basketball jock who also happens to be smart and sassy, who lost his leg to cancer. The two meet at the local support group, hit it off and gradually Augustus’s positive world view starts to rub off on Hazel. They have a shared love for An Imperial Affliction, a book about a teenage cancer victim who dies abruptly leaving the ending up in the air. It was written by a retired author now living in Amsterdam and a big part of the story sees the two teens travelling to meet him to learn what happened to the book’s characters (An Imperial Affliction is a metaphor for The Fault in Our Stars’ protagonists and their yearning for something meaningful in a world that seems and often ends uncaringly).

I won’t spoil any more of this wonderfully written novel. John Green deserves the praise—this is a literary achievement, something much more than the average YA contemporary romance. It seethes with pathos. It’s sad, fast and funny. The characters are well developed and incredibly engaging. It’s a celebration of living for the here and now, because you never know how long it’s going to last. I found it hard to put down.

I guessed two of the major plot points—they weren’t telegraphed at all, but I knew they would happen (and no, I hadn’t seen the movie or read any spoilers), so I guess in some way perhaps those two elements bordered on cliché (or perhaps I’m just good at prediction). But other than that, this book was like a breath of fresh air (and that’s not a pun about Hazel’s lungs).

If you like tragic romance, you’ll love this. To paraphrase a line from the book: reading The Fault in Our Stars is “a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”

Dust and Rust. A poem.

Take down the green,
straddle the Earth with
the carbon footprint of giants.
Every tree felled, another wooden nail
in our meagre wooden coffin.

Let the next race be won
by whomever loves this
planet more than
humans being,
who in our rush to claim the prize
have won nothing but
dust, rust,
and forgotten lies.

Thor Ragnarok. A movie review.

By Odin’s shaggy beard, there shalt be no spoilers here!

I’m one of those moviegoers who felt the Marvel formula was getting a bit stale. Well, Thor Ragnarok hasn’t varied it too much, but has added enough humour and lasting change to a major character and setting that I’m still interested.

Thor Ragnarok is a fun ride. Thor has always been a bit, well…boring. Compared to the rest of the Avengers, anyway. Director Taika Waititi has added his quirky comic flair (and propped up the NZ film industry, judging by the number of Kiwi actors in this) and allowed Chris Hemsworth to display some impressive comedic chops (expect to see him in lots of romantic comedies over the next few years).

The supporting cast are great, even if they are given little to do (although Mark Ruffalo as Hulk gets more space here than ever before. And it’s about time). Cate Blanchett as Hela, Goddess of Death, is a bit of a missed opportunity to add real gravitas to the Asgard story (the film’s humour tends to overshadow any of the implied tragedy), but I think she’ll be back to link up with Thanos in a future movie (he’s all about hooking up with Mistress Death, after all, and I’m sure it won’t take Marvel much to tweak that and change it to Ms Blanchett. You read it here first).

img_0620

The special effects of Thor Ragnarok are impressive as always and the designs and bright colours really capture the Kirby-esque feel of the 60’s and 70’s Thor comics. As a lover of all things Led Zeppelin, I enjoyed the inclusion of their Immigrant Song. Jon Bonham’s drumming rocks!

Whilst I liked the lighter (and oddly, heavier) themes of Thor Ragnarok, I’m hoping Marvel doesn’t go full on camp with future outings. I love my superheroes and occasionally I like them taken just a bit seriously. But in the meantime I’ll enjoy the bright bluster of this.

Rating: B+

Phantom Limb. A poem.

I’m forever haunted
by this

phantom limb,

writhing in my sleep,
guilt stricken for my
sins.

I see you in every couple
on the street, and at the
coffee shop,
where we drank each other in.

It feels like you’re still
across from me;
the conversation,
imagined and forlorn,
accusing
eyes that follow me
no more.

Your ghost absorbs my
days and nights,
a peripheral blur,
just out of
sight.

Time
heals all wounds;
such perfect sense,
but not in my
experience.

You’re the limb I lost, that still
persists.

A phantom limb,
my will insists.

In The Winter Dark. A book review.

I read a lot of books, but don’t often get the chance to post a book review. Then along comes a book that stuns me into submission, like a two-by-four wielded by some grinning, dream-fisted maniac.

“If only we hadn’t had so many things to hide, so many opportunities for fear to get us.” Tim Winton’s In the Winter Dark is a short (132 pages) suspense novel. It’s about an aging couple and two strangers, who live in a country valley where their farm animals are being mutilated by an unknown agency. All four are brought together by circumstance for the first time; all four hold dark secrets that are played out slowly and succinctly, a tragedy in the making.In the Winter Dark

As with Winton’s other books, it is superbly written and paced (for more about Breath, click here). His prose is like liqueur: it’s smooth and warm and something to be experienced patiently and magnanimously. There is no rushing a Tim Winton book, even when the suspense is building and you can’t put it down. Unlike some novels, which can be overbearing to the point you skip sections parsimoniously to move the story along, Winton’s stories make you savour every moment. Every turn of phrase and piece of imagery is like dark chocolate, melting insipiently on the tongue and in the brain.

The theme of cats as a symbol of our darkest secrets and fears plays a big part in this book. I’m not going to spoil the story, especially one that demands so doggedly to be experienced.

Beg, borrow, steal (or better still, purchase) a copy of In The Winter Dark. If you love a thriller and love masterful writing, this is the book for you.

Cheers

Steve 😊

Let down. A poem.

I’m let down, again.

Every letdown compiling
like a coded compunction,
in synapses despoiled
by repetition and disfunction.
Swarmed and overloaded,
categorised and goaded.

Too many times to make
sense of it all.

Letdown, like so many times before.
Who has any tears left to cry?

And why bother
to even try.

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