Tag Archives: poetry

Mole’s Dream (Part 1)

“I have a dream,” said Mole.

“A dream?” said Dove, “I love dreaming.
Did you dream you were a super hero,
Saving people’s lives?
Were you a king in a castle,
On a throne,
With six wives?”

“It’s not that sort of dream,” said Mole.
“This is about something I need to do.
Instead of burying myself in dark, damp holes,
I want to live up high in a nest like you.”

Dove was confused.
Why did his friend want to be different?
And when word got out about Mole’s dream,
Well, you’ve never witnessed such a scene.
All of Mole Town threw their hands in the air,
As if they’d never felt such despair.

“We’re moles,
We dig,
That’s what we do.
Our holes,
Are big,
With room for two.”

“But,” said Mole,
“I want to build towards the sky,
I want to enjoy the view,
Touch the clouds,
Live up high.”

And so Mole followed his nose and his heart,
But when it came to looking up,
He didn’t know where to start.

Little Pig’s Book of Why

This is a kind of companion piece to Responsibility that a I wrote a few months ago. It’s still a work-in-progress but I thought I’d share.

Little Pig,
Wanted to know,
Why the sun makes us hot,
And the cold makes it snow.

Little Pig,
Wanted to know,
Why we start off small,
But then grow.

Little Pig,
Was full of questions,
About the world around her.

Little Pig,
Staring in to space,
And that’s how her brother found her.

“Little Pig,”
He oinked at her,
“Why do you spend so much time alone.”

Little Pig,
Barely noticed,
She was wondering why they called this place home.

Her brother,
Was infuriated,
To him it was clear to see,

That things,
Were just the way they were,
And that’s how they’re meant to be.

Her brother,
Knew that the snow came,
When the pig angel blew his nose.

Her brother,
Knew that piglet babies were found,
In knapsacks brought by the crows.

Little Pig,
Couldn’t take any more,
There had to be a way out.

Little Pig,
Wanted to roar,
Instead of squealing from her snout.

Little Pig,
Watched the angry farmer,
And his sweet and cuddly wife.

Little Pig,
Began to question,
How this could help to improve her life.

The more,
She nuzzled up to the wife,
The more she was stroked and held.

The more,
Her brother rolled around in the mud,
The more the wife was repelled.

One day,
A truck came to the farm,
To take the piggies away.

But the farmer’s wife,
Was having none of that,
She wanted Little Pig to stay.

One day,
Is all it takes,
To find your new beginning,

To be as happy,
As a pig in shit,
Or served with apple sauce and all the trimmings.

Advice on writing a 2nd draft?

In about a week’s time, I will print out the full first draft of my novel. My red pen will at the ready.

But then what?

Having not seen the first half of the novel for months, I’d like to read the entire thing straight through (as a reader would do) to get a feel for the full flow and rhythm of the story. But I’m also going to want to note down any clear changes that are required as I go along.

Maybe I can just underline or asterisk every amend that I spot – and then come back to make detailed notes later.

Or perhaps I should make proper notes as I go along as it’s important to capture my thoughts immediately. After all, I’m never going to be able to replicate that first read through.

So, my fellow writers… aspiring or pubished… I’ll take any advice you’ve got to chuck at me. Bring it on…

Mission: First Draft. Complete.

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“Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It’s one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period.”

Nicholas Sparks

Joy, relief, apprehension, excitement, yadda yadda yadda.

It may have taken a little longer than anticipated but Draft One is complete. You can’t see me but I’m lying on my sofa having just done a little celebratory dance (picture this: flailing arms, lanky legs pumping, shoulders jiggling. I always stay classy).

Written by hand, in pen, on paper – and transferred to my computer every 30 or 40 pages. Written in a form of free verse that I believe in 100% but still doubt my ability to pull off. But most importantly, written.

I once wrote a post in which my main words of wisdom were: ‘If you want to be a writer then write.’ That’s advice worth following – but recently I’ve struggled. As I got close to the end of my first draft, I started looking for a new job, then I got a job, and it’s a busy job, and my focus shifted, and I wanted to write but I didn’t write, and I didn’t blog, and then I said to myself ‘If I want to be a writer then I need to write’, so I wrote, and now I’ve finished my first draft, and it feels good.

But there are no laurels to rest on. I’m already looking forward to the second draft – to the re-writing. And trust me, it’s going to need some serious re-writing!

For now I’ve put the manuscript away. It’ll stay locked up for 3 or 4 weeks…. ready to be looked at with fresh eyes. I can’t even remember the last time I saw the first page so at the moment I’m mostly just hoping it isn’t completely shit.

And in the meantime I have two other projects that I want to devote some time to – so they’ll be getting some love and attention.

Just time to reminisce with a pointer back to my first ever blog post, which was an early excerpt from the novel.

Now, for one more arm flailing dance…

Stuff that inspires me: # 5 Gil Scott-Heron

The revolution will be no re-run brothers,
The revolution will be live.”

Words, heart, politics, anger, clarity. Teacher. Leader of a revolution. And most importantly, soul.

He began as a poet. Then he put beats to his beats.

He sung about things that mattered… politics, race, addiction, war… but he spoke to inspire not to incite hatred. He often spoke with sadness, but also with optimism. He inspired a generation, or two, and he also inspired me.

With a voice so rich and smooth, so wise and full of wit, I’ve always found it easy to be in awe of Gil Scott-Heron. And his final note was a perfect one. ‘I’m New Here’ (2010) was recorded just a year before his death. It floats and it rolls, it looks back and draws strength from hardship, and is as relevant and beautiful as ever. At only 28 minutes, it doesn’t need to be a minute longer.

“Home is where I live / inside my white powder dreams,
Home was once an empty vacuum / that’s filled now with my silent screams,
Home is where the needle marks / try to heal my broken heart,
And it might not be such a bad idea if I never / if I never went home again.”

– From ‘Home Is Where The Hatred Is’, Gil Scott-Heron

Relationship Forecast

This poem is going to seem very strange to those of you who aren’t familiar with the legendary BBC Shipping Forecast. So I’d recommend having a listen to some of the above recording as a starting point. The rest of us can just listen to it for the warm, cosy, night-time memories. Either way, it’ll help explain my inspiration…

First date; nervous; glasses of red wine; four or five; trying to impress; fair, occasionally poor.
Dates two to 10; exciting; sex good; occasionally moderate; weeks 4 to 5; veering northerly.
Argument; rough or very rough; rain at times; turning to drizzle; gusts three or four; fair.
Holiday; costa del good to excellent; worries; none.
Anniversary; comfortable; outlook warm; parents 4; hopeful.
Year two to three; fog patches developing; girl at work; busty; 21.
Separation; veering southerly; often poor; becoming repentant; moving on; 29 to 30.

How does memory work? (Another excerpt from my 1st draft)

This is a bit of a strange one but I thought I’d share it anyway. To (very) briefly explain –  at the heart of my story are questions about memory, and how our memories of life experiences affect who we are and how we behave. With that in mind…

 

It’s believed that our long-term memory comes in three flavours:
Episodic, Procedural and Semantic.

Your first kiss,
The best meal you’ve ever eaten,
Attending your daughter’s graduation,
Episodic memory covers the massive accumulation,
Of life experiences that are unique to you,
Things that have happened at a specific time,
At a specific venue.

Procedural memory comprises those skills,
That have been learnt,
But that we perform so effortlessly that it appears we weren’t,
Conscious of learning them in the first place,
Like riding a bike or tying a shoe lace.

And semantic memory is all about remembering factual information,
Such as capital cities or multiplication,
Often the sort of stuff you learn at school,
Right down to the most basic cognition:
That a cat is an animal and a hammer is a tool.

Stuff that inspires me: #4 Beasts of the Southern Wild

At the start of this week I went for a job interview. The final question put to me wasn’t exactly what I was expecting: what was the best film I’d seen in the last year? I didn’t pause; I didn’t have to think; it was an easy choice. Beasts of the Southern Wild is actually the best film I’ve seen in a few years.

Miraculous and magical are the words that most readily come to mind. I’m guilty of over-using the phrase ‘like poetry on the screen’ for movies that I love but, in this case, I think it’s absolutely justified.

The setting is the fictional community of The Bathtub, which is clearly a hall-of-mirrors reflection of the population that lived on the edge of New Orleans during the floods. It’s a bleak, derelict, backwards corner of society and is home to the tough-as-nails Hushpuppy, who survives in a mystical world that exists largely in her own head, and her dad, Wink. As they struggle to survive, we become as intimate with nature and as confused about the boundaries between reality and fantasy as Hushpuppy – but the film is never anything but brilliant and beautiful. And despite having a dream-like quality, it feels grounded and authentic thanks to it’s stunning novice cast.

Everything comes together here. The soundtrack (by Dan Romer and director, Benh Zeitlin) reflects and drives the film. Whenever I now listen to it, wherever I am, I’m transported to a different place… back to Hushpuppy’s world.

This film is touched by genius and I’d urge everyone to see it.

(Go on, click above for the trailer)

Responsibility

One morning,
The sun forgot to get out of bed.
His alarm didn’t wake him,
And the moon didn’t call by on her way home.
So it was dark,
For a very long time,
Indeed.

But then the sun,
Became lazy.
His bed was so comfortable,
And it did him no harm,
To rest for a while.
And so it was dark,
For longer,
Indeed.

Come on,
Said the moon,
I know we all forget things as we get older,
But the Earth is getting so much colder.

Enough,
Said the people.
We like the moon,
We really do,
But without your warm glow,
We’re feeling kinda blue.

Yawn,
Said the sun.
All I can hear is your damned whining,
But my pillow’s plumped,
The sheets are soft,
And this star ain’t for shining.

But the moon,
Was now working over-time.
To be honest,
She was pretty annoyed,
That the sun didn’t come.
So the moon quit too.
And it was dark,
Forever,
Indeed.

Morning after/Night before (another excerpt from my first draft)

Cold, dry air,
On hot, damp skin,
Mingled smells,
Of cigarettes and gin,
Clothes fighting,
Against being removed,
Two bodies,
Writhing and pressed,
And drunk and unrepressed,
Eros unmoved.
The morning after,
No romance,
Stilted conversation,
Awkward glance,
Hurried dressing,
Dried sweat smell,
Sheepish goodbyes,
Just as well.