Things to Make and Do

Promising myself I’d try video for the first time this year as a delivery medium for poetry was, on reflection, a bit of an ask. Production techniques aren’t frightening, however: I learnt how to storyboard at college, made films and have edited across various media. The programmes may have changed a bit in thirty years but honestly, most of the effort comes in ideas and content, not in the bits that pull processes together.

Having the idea is where it all starts and end, and we have one now.

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An old poem could have been recycled, something that’s already been written, but to be honest I wanted summat new and to start from scratch. That poem’s now in the final stages of polish, storyboarding has begun and assuming that by Sunday everything falls into some kind of workable order, next week is all about filming and faffing. I think there’ll be some ‘live’ work too…

Then, like it or not, I just have to put in the hours

I know how this works, what I’m looking for and where it needs to go. I get how Fair Use works. Let’s see if we can put the two together and make something interesting.

I’ll see you here next week for an update.

Free Your Mind

Weekly poetry is BACK and frankly, I could not be happier 😀

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Creativity is an odd thing: you can decide to set time aside to write, or draw, or indeed do anything else but unless your brain decides to also turn up and take part? All the planning it the world is largely pointless. What works best for me, undoubtedly, is having certain tasks running as a permanent background hum. After a couple of years working out the kinks, this is now the most productive means of being… well, productive.

If I want fiction to work, fiction needs to run in the backgrounds (hence why FINALLY EX/WHI is back this week) and the same goes for poetry. These daily mental exercises, literary gymnastics in my head, make it easier and simpler to push other things front and centre. So, whilst the front of house poetry this month’s all about HOPE, round the back it’s all much darker and… frankly a bit angry.

There is the potential for an awful lot of ranting in the next few weeks if I’m not careful, so all these OMFG YOU’RE ALL IDIOTS first drafts need to be tempered down a bit. There’s also later on the potential to revisit some old works, the back catalogue is finally beginning to attain both breadth and depth. I’ve discovered today a local Open Mic night, so it might be worth an exploratory expedition to see how that works.

Reading in front of an audience is an extremely enjoyable fringe benefit of the poems, after all, and that gives me the opportunity to refine technique and content. How something sounds is probably more important than the words themselves, and I can read one word as another when performance happens, means by which more depth can be inserted than simply exists when written…

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These are exciting times ahead.

2020 Week One Poetry: That Kills Us

I stopped writing weekly poetry for Social media when it became apparent that work could be used elsewhere… to maybe make me some extra cash, or win a contest. After a year where neither of those things have come to pass, it is time to go back to what was working best for me in terms of creativity. This is the equivalent of drawing every day. It is means by which my craft improves.

These words are the best ones.

That means 52 poems, including holidays: Monday to Friday (or in this case, three days for the start of the year.) Where months start mid-week, I’ll write less (Week Five will also only be three days long) giving time for a bit more rest. The proviso here is everything is written ‘live’: no weeks of polish. If it’s a verse a day for five days the original selection will be skeleton-built the week before and amended on the fly.

That means next week’s five verses are ready to roll starting tomorrow but might totally alter when I post them. We will see. 

For now, this is a solid start.


That Kills Us

Repetitive, blamed infamy
always somebody else
pointing finger, insinuate
your problem, halved
segment, rotten whole.

Slope, madness descends
cackling uncontrollably;
finger given, on the way
past circles held, restricting,
other people’s selfishness.

That kills us, possibility
this time, perhaps, is better;
sad inevitable, lies:
hope only held eternal
if goodness sets her springs.


December Short Story: Stardust

This story was first serialised in 31 daily parts during December 2019 via the @MoveablePress and @InternetofWords Twitter feeds [9am and 5pm GMT respectively.] It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.

Enjoy.


Stardust



The biggest mistake I ever made was thinking the little things don’t matter. You see, one small mistake you can forget, hiding it away for no-one else to see… but after a while, all those small stupidities become a larger mess. When all of those come together you’re in trouble. How do you deal with decades of your own failings? I ran away for a long time, avoided responsibilities… making this the end of the story, not a beginning. Redemption will serve someone else well before it’s my turn. My time, however, is almost done… but not quite yet. Almost.

I get one more chance, then it’s done.

This time, I promise to not fuck anything up.


For him it was Tuesday, a double shift. Everybody else was celebrating Christmas Eve. On occasions such as these Joseph’s glad dance music is his only religion, no one else waiting at home. He’ll work straight through, taking breaks when it’s quiet: 10-ish, 2-ish and 6-ish, if previous experience is an indicator. It allows Jay to not be here and at the airport, Chrissie to drive north to see her family. Joseph’s Christmas gifts to his colleagues covers their arses.

Ruben’s waiting, night shift about to take their one day off this week. He’ll go eat Christmas Meatloaf with his mum across town: Joseph’s bought them some Jim Beam, as requested. The kid’s still too young to be as good as he is, deserves a better gig than the middle of nowhere. It’s easier not to think about being nearly a decade older than a stick-thin, tattoo-covered boy. He’s the closest thing to a decent friend Joseph possesses in this town, mirror to his own ambitions and failures. Maybe one day they will get the cash to open a restaurant together.

This year, the boy’s made him a gift, and it’s a genuine surprise. The notebook’s full of recipes they’ve created together, cuttings from the press… printouts of their growing online fan base’s support and encouragement. The T&C Diner is edging ever closer to greatness, success. There’s that familiar ache too as he walks away, out the back exit, into falling snow. How do you tell someone that you want to be more than friends? How do relationships work, exactly… Joseph requires a Christmas Miracle, probably several bottles of Jim Beam to make it happen.

That can be tonight’s thought before sleep: right now the diner’s beginning to fill. Andy’s out front, all hands and teeth as usual taking Trudii Richards’ order. Will she stick to tradition, bacon and egg hash on brown or will their special Festive Menu alter creature of habit? He catches older woman’s eye, pulls out his best kilowatt smile and knows she’ll drop everything for turkey bacon with sage and onion biscuits. Today started special, will only get better if he believes the hype everyone else seems increasingly willing to generate on his behalf.

That’s how the day goes too: smiles as connection, fuel for preparation. Elise and May Ann’s voices, harmonising through Christmas songs that sound fresh, joyous in the throats of young women. Customers tipping far more than is sensible when everyone’s cloth is cut to the bone. The serving window slowly begins to fill, gifts from hardcore clientele who know him only too well: hand-knitted jumpers and socks, chutneys and preserves plus a couple of bottles of decent red wine. Rhonda’s kids made him multicoloured Christmas cookies, each one hand decorated.

It’s already lunchtime and suddenly there’s real singing to replace Joseph’s battered Christmas CD: the local band made good are back home for their holidays. Hearing he’s serving Turkey Meatloaf and Cornbread the Diner’s broadcasting live via phone to fans as they eat then play. These guys will be opening for the electronic duo Joseph’s followed since his teens next March, 60 date US and European tour. If that’s not the definition of success, it’s hard to know what is. Yet here they are selling his praises without the need to ask, enjoying Christmas Eve.

Within an hour, there are dozens of people at the Diner. Joseph excels at improvisation: main meals evolve into snacks. Plates are piled with finger-food, Andy drafted in as extra help in preparation. Without needing to make a call Rhonda appears, plastic boxes laden with treats.

‘Boy, I KNEW you’d want my help without getting the call: don’t you worry, Momma R’s gonna make sure all these people are happy before they pay for our hard work…’

If Joseph didn’t already grasp he needs Rhonda on board making sweet dessert magic full time, this was the sign.

That afternoon he teaches the band to sling hash. May Ann’s brother and Elise’s aunt come help out too, more than enough cash to pay them full rate at day’s end. As sun goes down the band pack up to leave, yet diner’s at capacity. Only then does Joseph realise he’s being watched. The guy with Santa’s beard, in red shirt and black trousers, at the back by the jukebox, single table that’s reserved for locals who struggle paying. He’s been there, off and on, across the last few weeks; never saying much but always grateful. Today however, he looks different.

Joseph knows he’s unable to afford palliative care, lucky to have made it to Christmas at all. Over the last few months he’s struggled but refused any assistance. Weighing a fraction of what he was, huge frame is no longer tense, uncomfortable. This old man is finally at peace. Rhonda’s asking about wine glasses, dessert options: distraction pulls him away pointing, sudden concern: when he turns back the man’s gone. Instead, on his chair, there’s a bag. Red suitcase sits, distinctly out of place; Elise retrieves it, carrying carefully to kitchen door.

There’s heaviness in his heart, sudden realisation what symbolism means: Santa won’t be coming back. This is his last delivery, walking away from the Diner one final time, into the snow. They’d talked about it, he’d tried to change the old man’s mind. No dice, son. I’m through. Joseph had promised: when the time came, no fuss or bother. The things in that suitcase were his now, gift from one man to another. He’d let him go, and not call the cops, because there were things he’d done that would make life difficult this late in the game. Accept this gift.


Then, you let me go.

He’s always been a good boy. Looked after his momma well after I was long gone, plus when this broken body’s just dust and memory he’ll finally understand why it was the fool could never stay. Maybe I should have told the truth. Maybe. It’s better this way. By the time things work out, I’ll be a memory, like it was all those times before. It was his momma who got mad, never him. That boy always understood what it was to be different. He’s the man I could never become.

I’m proud of chef who remains steadfast, always true to his own self, producing baby back ribs so tender Angels themselves will openly weep when tasting his special barbecue sauce: never overly sweet, exactly spicy enough.

I’ll miss them both in God’s eternal embrace.

Bye, son.


The suitcase remains unopened, propping open back door until last customer left her booth. Joseph could open it here but is compelled to do the deed away from staff. It’s surprisingly heavy, carried up stairs to apartment above his workplace, laid on kitchen table with care. The man thinks of dad, dumb enough to believe son had no idea who he was, that he’d just let the guy spend last days alone with terminal illness. The woman who’s looking after him right now’s being paid for thanks to medical insurance, so she’ll call him later with an update.

One moment represents an entire life, livelihood kept and nurtured away from him growing up. Except Joseph remembers this case brand new: open on the couch one Christmas Eve, decades past. Dad’s saxophone, propped beside: a musician was always on the road. His house, another gig. He may have singularly failed as a father, but Moses as a musician had played with countless greats across the decades: saxophone solos littered within the spectrum of modern music. If there were memories of those times within this case, Joseph would find means to preserve them.

It takes longer than expected to open: both locks are stiff, one initially refusing to open. Frightened contents might be damaged if entry’s forced, Joseph is slow, cautious.

Finally successful –

the case is stuffed full to capacity, countless neat stacks of used $100 bills…


 

Intro

It’s almost time to begin a COMPLETELY NEW DECADE. Blimey.

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Everything’s in place to go too, more or less. Some poetry will be submitted tonight, possibly some other bits and bobs towards the end of the week. There are two calendars up on the wall, with ACTUAL COLOUR CODING to keep up with what is submitted. Honestly, the last time organisation at this level existed, it was college. NO EXCUSES this year, everybody. Everything gets improved.

Last year, the ‘target’ of publication was hit, but only once. Bearing this in mind, 2020 is when I produce my own pamphlets for the first time. It’s when there’s an effort to make money and not lose it, building body of work that isn’t just digital. I’ll be looking for feedback in January, and am considering a return to Patreon as means by which to try and finance this effort at entry level.

Everything on that side is still in a state of flux.

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On Wednesday we’ll sound the 31 Days of Exercise klaxon for RED January, and instead of filling your Instagram feeds with Haiku for the month you’ll get 31 days of my sweaty body instead. This means lots of time to sort February’s Love Poetry out (had to be done) and an opportunity to get out more to do photography. I had so much fun in June doing that, for Places of Poetry, that it needs to be repeated.

Let’s hope the weather allows this to happen without incident.

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ALSO MORE POETRY AS ART IN 2020. I know, this is not reinventing the wheel, and other people are better connected to complete these tasks, but if there is not the means for expression, humanity has been lost. It all counts towards that vital Body of Work

2020 will, whatever happens, be all about the output.

Deliver Me

Everything’s a bit out of order here, for reasons that still include dentistry and Christmas. You sometimes can’t predict the outcomes of certain events: tooth pain is a special Circle of Hell which I can only hope is now gone for good. In the midst of it all however, a lot of good has come from the experiences. Most notable of all is the Altered Paths project which, this year, has made me more than happy.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself in 2019; to continue to do so in 2020 there needs to be a redefinition of what I read and consume via Social media. The changes are already in place, and a bunch of new and interesting projects will be investigated during the next 12 months, plus there will be the continuation of the body of work which keeps this site alive and relevant.

As a result I’ve decided to leave the Christmas week fallow of posts and content, allowing plenty of time to prepare for the new year. That’s included graphics work today, poetry contest submissions and other pieces being given much-needed love and attention. After this is all finished and I’m up to date with poetry, we can start planning for my January fundraising project.

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We’ll formally launch RED January on the 1st, and begin a year of fundraising for Mind (as well as my training to become a Mental health Champion) on a strong, positive note. There’s also Time to Talk Day in February, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. So much has to happen before that, including some fairly significant real life gubbins. Let’s see if this year, that precious life/work balance can be finally located and maintained…

For now, let’s clear the backlog and ready ourselves for January.

All Quiet on the Western Front

It has been a trying week, but this afternoon there’s been some concrete, forward motion in lots of things that yesterday were merely intractable and distressing. Once all the backlog is done, we can try and make some headway with planning: as means to ease that stress, the post I’ve been trying to write since Friday is consigned to the trash, and good riddance. Honestly, it was rubbish.

Instead, today’s been about organising the way forward for 2020. There’s a shonky graphic, couple of pages of A4 notes, with a plan to start printing stuff for sale in the New Year. After that we’ll have some discussion via Social media on what happens where, a push to get myself a bit higher visibility than is currently the case and then, in January, I’m flirting with the idea of vlogging.

I’ve said it now, it has to happen.

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This is to lead into Time to Talk day in February where I’ll be offering a special day’s worth of content, in an attempt to give back a bit to the people whom have stuck by me for I don’t know how long. You’re all really lovely, thank you to everybody who’s ever donated to my fundraising. This year I promise not only will it be different, but challenging too. It’s time to start thinking about your part in this equation.

There will be a fundraising drive this year, with some actual thematic gubbins as accompaniment. The normal features will be back too: short story’s too much fun to stop now, YouTube playlists will have some content to back them up… for the first few months of 2020 we’ll be going back to weekly poetry too, with Instagram going in hiatus until February. More on this in the coming weeks.

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For now, I have many things to stick in my 2020 planner 😀