Saturday, 26 July 2014

Romantic Rendezvous

The sun sank below the hills and Caitlin snuggled in closer, seeking Norman’s body heat as the temperature began to drop.

“I like that, sweetness,” he said, shifting a little nearer and wrapping his jacket around her. “In fact, I love it.”

The world stopped for a moment and Caitlin waited for him to say it. Expecting those three words she’d longed for for so long.

The two of them had only known each other for a short time, quickly jumping over the embarrassing coyness stage into full-on romance. But Norman had stopped there, digging his heels in and seeming to be unwilling to take the next step.

But now…

“You’ve become my world, you know that?” Caitlin nestled under his arm, looking up at the line of his jaw and drawing in a quick breath of his scent. “In fact, I don’t know what I’d do without you now.”

Norman grew quiet, his body tensing and his breaths becoming shallower and more controlled. Caitlin studied him closely, waiting for a reply; needing him to give her something more than he had so far. She cursed herself. Had she done it now? Had she pushed him too far too soon? Was this the beginning of the end? It was all her own fault for rushing him. If only he hadn’t mentioned love. What was a girl to think when they were in-close and her guy mentioned ‘that’ word?

Everything stopped. Except for her heart, which was threatening to push it’s way up through her suddenly-tight throat, and her thoughts which were racing away with her, making her throat and her heart even more of an issue. Her future began to collapse in on her and her hopes withered and died; her ‘happy-ever-after’ becoming a lonely attic shared with her even-older mother, the two of them identically wrinkled and dressed in matching pj’s. This was it. Lord, take me now. My life is over.

“I feel the same,” he replied, curling his arm more tightly around her and leaning in for a kiss. “Maybe we should move in together and see how it goes? See how we work out when we share the same roof. When you can’t help but see me in my scruffs. See my unguarded side.” He smiled, his cheeks dimpling. “Maybe you’ll change your mind when you see all I am?”

Caitlin released the breath she’d been holding. “Never,” she said.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Are You Man Enough?

The plugs went into his ears and the headphones went on.

“Can you hear me in there,” the technician asked.

The guy nodded, biting his lower lip nervously.

And then the serious business started, the collar and clamps engaging into place, the dull clunks and bright clangs of the clips snapping shut sounding like nothing he’d ever heard. He felt the pressure of them across his shoulders and against his head and knew he was in it now for better or for worse. The soft swell of the the bulb in his palm took on added significance and he swore he was man enough to take this.

“We’re going to start now,” the voice came, sounding remote and underwaterish. He looked up through the face mask, seeing her there in the control room, her thumb raised. The periscope optic gave him a limited view and he took a quick breath. Steeling himself.

The first tones began, like a guitar riff, sounding like the first blows of Page’s pick in ‘Communication Breakdown”. Only continuing on and on, his head ringing with the noise. As though he was entombed inside an amplifier, the anodes of the tubes directly in series with his brain. Ringing out. Getting louder. And never stopping.

Time passed. He lay motionless either watching the technicians in the control room or the steady rise and fall of his own chest. The tones stopped and then restarted; this time pulsing more rapidly, the table beneath him vibrating in time. His lower lip felt fat between his teeth and he started counting in his head. Trying to gauge the time.

Minutes passed. Maybe fifteen before he felt the table moving beneath him, his arms brushing against the ring carrying the magnets. The technician returned, her smiling face reassuring and calm. He felt her take his arm and then the cool stroke of a swab as she disinfected the entry point.

“You’ll feel a scratch now. I’ll move the bulb into your other hand and then we’ll finish off. Only another five, ten minutes.”

He felt the scratch and then her fingers kneading his flesh, hurrying the dye’s passage. He visualised the alien liquid suffusing through him, merging with his blood. The table moved again, pulling him in. More tones, sometimes in pairs, their pitch separated by a perfect fifth. Power chords. How cool.

It continued, his eyelids drooping into a meditative state. He could do this. It must be almost done.

And then everything went quiet. The table slid out again and he was alone with his own breath. And with his unbitten lip still fat between his teeth.

A New Dawn?

Colour drip-fed into the day, his consciousness' resolution shifting from soft monochrome to gentle pastels as the sun rose unseen in the distance. Birds cawed, the white-noise of tyre on tarmac filling in as an accompaniment to Nature's day-shift. Friday began.

It wasn't a day notable for anything other than what it was. There were no events unique to that day but it was still a day he'd set apart as being the first of his new era. Day One. A dawning of sorts. And a new beginning to what he hoped would be a life less ordinary.

(Newly awoken at 4:30am)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Martha stood masked before him, her whole body covered in a dusting of powered raspberry; the water-based paint clinging tightly to her skin's every curve and plane.

"Beautiful," Brandon said, his thoughts racing ahead. Studying the rise and fall of her; the textures, the way that the light and the shadows fell across her and the way that the paint shimmered in the studio's spotlights.

He spent the next five minutes just gazing at her. Instructing her how to pose, how to move, where to stand: stepping around her all the time; either standing or crouching himself. Needing to see everything she was and what she could be. His living canvas and the inspiration for his art.

Finally, he had it. His vision. Opening four of the tubs of powered poster paint he had, he shook a drift of colour from each onto his table: its plastic wrap covering enabling him to slide the paints into individual piles that he then split again; merging the colours together to create further ones and then even more. He looked up again at Martha. Gauging how she looked and how she held herself and then seeing layer after layer of powdered light applied one after another; like a tomography of colour and shade.

“You ready?”

Martha nodded, careful to return to her original pose. She knew how easily his visions could shattered.

He began.

At first he used his palms, sliding wedges of colour over her, moving slowly as he laid down the base-notes of his symphony. Then he changed pace, choosing the first of the combinations he’d made; using the edges of his hand to stripe her with bolder tones that spiralled and linked the continents of colour he’d formed before; each element rendered as per his immaculate plan. And finally he took the scant pinches of the twice-blended colours; adding percussive hits and accents that brought the whole to life.

Brandon stood back, first taking in his creation as a whole and then diving in with his hands, blurring and then adding further colour until it was finished.

And then he removed her mask, letting her see what she’d become, enjoying her gasp of awe as she stared at herself, amazed.

Image taken from A different type of Art (

Dizain#1 ~ Boxes and cartons:

Boxes and cartons and tea-chests and crates
I use them to pack up my darkest cares
Their lids all taped up and held down by weights
And then I secrete them all under the stairs
Behind my luggage and a set of chairs

I’ve filled each of them up, sealed them all tight
Left them to gather dust in endless night
They’re all out of sight but not without hope
Waiting alone there, till the moment’s right
When it’s the time, when I know I can cope

Monday, 21 July 2014

A Sonnet to Cyanide

A Sonnet to Cyanide

The lady was displeased, of course
Indeed, seriously vexed was she
Putting into her husband’s tea
Cyanide enough to kill a horse.
And then to make things even worse
She placed glass in his lunch with glee
Adding and baking it in brie
‘stead of asking for a divorce
The man in turn, he turned bright red
And he clutched grimly at his chest
Falling heavily to the floor
He gurgled once and then was dead
Leaving her all at his behest
With everyone happy once more.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Heart beat

“There you go. Two hundred now. And rising!”

Glenn slid his hand across his brow, catching a shower of sweat and flicking it discretely aside. “You’re so inventive, Anna. Who’d have thought you could use a pulse-meter like this?”

Anna nodded, feeling his heat and glancing at the instrument on her own wrist. “Time to pick up the pace, slow-coach. I’m dipping. You could be trying harder. Either that or I could be a little more physical…”

The two of them lay together, coiled about each other like amorous squid; mouths, arms and legs never at rest: their limbs moving as though self-guided. Heightened and transcending and at one together.


Some two hours later, Anna was sitting side-by-side with Glenn; her back against the bed’s head while he topped-and-tailed with his shoulders against the foot of the bed, watching the cool plumes of her smoke curling lazily up into the humidity of the room. Reaching across to her night-table, he pulled himself a cigarette out from her ever-ready packet, the flare of his lighter making them both look otherworldly and alien.

“Make it a quick one, hun,” she said, crushing her own butt out and dropping it with a fizz into her almost-empty wineglass. “If you’ve breath enough to pull through that, I can think of other things you could be doing.”

A response to:


Hesta turned her face to the light like an elegant sunflower, her cheeks blossoming with colour as the suns rays touched them. She was simply dressed, of course - her clothing budget was far too modest to run to the price of any well known designers - but she still managed to dress well, managing to befriend many of the up-and-coming students at the local college who had an eye for a stylish cut and knew how to use the bias to make the most out of even the most humble pieces of cloth. Of course, her clothes were just the least part of what and who she was. She transcended the conventional and rose to her own unique level: a solitary bud, gilt-edged but still with her own innate charm.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Edge of Reason

Charles sighed theatrically. “Tiffany, you’re driving me to distraction. Way beyond the edge of reason.”

Tiffany chuckled. “You really are an ass. And such a melodramatic fool.”

“I know. But you do love it.” He curled his arm round her waist and pulled her closer, laying a soft kiss on her cheek. “Like I love you.”

Tiffany flushed, still finding a thrill in it whenever he said those three words. She leaned back from him, finding pleasure in looking at him. Knowing he was committed to her when he could so easily have been with anyone else she knew. Heady stuff.

“You’re such a sap. And I love you too.”

The two of them sat side-by-side on the bench, jammed together like an incestuous pair of Siamese twins, entertaining the park’s ducks for a while longer while engaging in the usual cupping and fumbling common to a suburban Sunday afternoon until, hearing the tones of the church clock, Tiffany apologised and wriggled free.

“You know how much it hurts me,” she said, looking at him soft-eyed, running her fingers through his locs. “But..”

“I know.” Charles sighed again, tempering his mood. “Your folks.”

Tiffany stood, re-buttoning and smoothing her dress as she became ‘proper’ again. Readying herself for the walk home. “I’ll speak to them again, I promise. They’re coming round to the thought of you. Little by little.”

Charles rose beside her, his smile lacking his earlier exuberance. “Trust you to have the only old-fashioned white parents in Birmingham. But I can wait. You’re worth it.”

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Two wheels beneath me

Two wheels beneath me, the tarmac running smooth
The warm breeze streaming past my face
A marriage of man and his metal-framed steed
Exhibiting a most peculiar grace

With exotic metals and a carbon-fibre weave
All profiled and balanced to be light
They’re carrying their rider, an athlete at his peak
Engaging in supernatural flight

But when the road rises up, the rider rises too
Pistoning legs and with his face all strained
Wrestling the handlebars, push-pulling with his feet
Energy transferred through wheels and frame

Scant minutes after that, the hill’s brow has been passed
The pairing dropping down just like a stone
A rider tucked in on himself, as small as he can be
His senses focused in, a man alone

Exhilaration, perspiration, the satisfying work
The sense of freedom and of health and fun
A man in lycra riding, his muscles all afire
An experience that can be matched by none.


Carter flipped the coin from finger to finger. Left to right. Right to left. Left to right again. Back and forth without stopping. Never looking down: just a nervous tic he had.

“You gonna drink that coffee or just play with yourself all day? Cause if you’re not drinking it, I will.”

The coin vanished.

“Sorry, mate. I’m just distracted. You know how it is; you lose your job and the world changes overnight. People change. Friends fade away and everyone looks at you differently.”

“But still, it’s all the more reason to drink it up while it’s still hot.”

Carter raised his cup and nodded his thanks. “You’d think that, wouldn’t you. But you’d be wrong.” He took a slurp from the coffee and put the cup back in its saucer, glancing back at the counter to check out if he was being watched.

“The truth in the matter is,” he continued, “is that if you’re hard up, everything comes down to money. You can’t afford to pay your bills, so you wear more clothes and leave your heating turned off. Or you spend more time in the coffee shop, using their heat and reading their papers. At least until they throw you out. Course, if you’re a paying customer, they’ll let you stay. Least until your cup’s empty.”

Friday, 11 July 2014


Dog scratched the back of his shoulder, his all-black glasses jammed tight to his face. Bug-like. Giving away nothing. His stump-toothed yawn the only hint to what was going on inside.

We’d known each other about three years, Dog and I. He’d been there when I woke up in the street one day. Offering me a smoke and a piece of gum he’d liberated from a table somewhere. Saying he’d not seen who’d stolen my roll from under me, only that he’d give me the use of his while he was up and foraging for something edible. We’d hung about a while then: me showing him my places; the best place to sit when it rained, the rest-rooms that stayed unlocked longest, the diner with the sympathetic manager who gave us the cleanings off’n the plates that would otherwise have been tossed in the dumpster each night.

And then one day he’d gone.

I just came round one day, cursing my luck like I always do, spending the first three hours of the day trying to warm myself. Stomping about and looking out for cops. Needing to move but not wanting to be seen. Scrounging about for food or whatever I could guilt out of the folks coming out of the coffee house. Sometimes I got lucky. Sometimes the police came first. Either way I got warmer - either from whatever drink I could get someone to buy for me or from the exercise I got running away.

And then I saw Dog again. Same bug-eyed glasses. Same overcoat with a sleeve missing. Same attitude as he always had. Only this time he’d got a dog with him. A scrawny bugger with mange. And the dog was just as bad.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Don’t close your eyes!

Don’t close your eyes!”

Suzanne’s lips creased into a smile. “No, I never do. Not even when I kiss a man.” She laughed, her voice doing things to me that weren’t at all constructive to our chances at this moment.

I placed the heavy lump of the gun into her hand, watching her gauging its weight as she familiarised herself with it. Taking the butt into her palm and curling her finger through the trigger guard. Tentatively applying a little pressure on the trigger while holding it muzzle-down toward the ground.

Now, push that little lever forward and up. The one on the left-hand-side. Yes, that one. Now bring your arm up, keeping it straight but not locked. Then look down your arm and through the sights.”

Like this?” She turned to look back at me, her arm rising and veering to the right as she did. Her aim shifting to threaten the rear of the Buick sedan parked in front of us, its occupants clamouring to get out when they saw the barrel swerving toward them.

Yes. But no. Keep your eyes front and open when you’ve got that catch off. Even when your finger’s relaxed. We’ve enough problems now without you shooting someone who’ll be fighting alongside us!”

Okay. Sorry. Like this?” She raised the gun again, biting her lower lip and closing one eye to aim, focusing her attention on the pyramid of cans I’d arranged on the trestle-table backed up against the wall.

Kinda. But with both eyes open. If you have to shoot, you’ll find it easier to find your target, aim and then fire that way. And without the delay or parallax switch you’ll get from closing the eye and then aiming. You might not have much time if you’re being shot at. You’ve got to drop your man fast before he puts you down, you know?”

Dropping my man, that’s gotta be good, right,” Suzanne chuckled, her voice dropping into a throaty growl. “I know, I know. Focus. Gun in hand. Focus all the time…”

Your life might depend on it.” I looked over my shoulder and then back, judging the time by the colour of the skies and the height of the sun above the horizon. Time was running out. She’d have to be ready whether she was ready or not. There was no point teaching her how to reload: if she’d not managed to hit anyone before her gun was empty, she’d be dead already.

Okay. Now push the safety back forward. But pull your finger free from the trigger first. You don’t want to shoot a hole through your foot.” I grinned, giving her a brief respite from stern ‘teacher.’ “I know those heels are killer but your foot’s irreplaceable. A bullet through your instep’ll slow you down. Even with a gun in your hand, you'll still need to be able to run. More often than you’d imagine.”


Your presence, felt from afar. The sense that you were there. Waiting. Planning your next move. With me feeling ready and filled with anticipation. 

I sit here, my neck and shoulders open and already tingling, the light down covering my skin reaching out to you. Ready for your touch. Seeking you out. My thoughts split; my mind still in this moment and also racing ahead. Contemplating the lightness of your touch as your fingertips run and race across my curves like liquid passion but also here and now, feeling the need of you. The need for the resolution you bring me. Consumation. And fire.


Beauty and Harmony looked out through the window. 

"It's a wonderful day to be alive," said Beauty, revelling at the colours of the day and the motion of the clouds and the trees as the wind pulled them all about.

"That's so true," Harmony agreed. "And I particularly love the way that each single element is in balance and they all interact together. It makes me want to go out out there and roll in the grass and gallop across the fields and rub my side along every thorny hedge I can find. There are such adventures we could be having, the two of us and that world out there." His voice faltered and then he grew silent, the only sound being the plish of a singular tear hitting the window-sill.

Beauty sighed. "If only we weren't made of wood," she said.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Perfect Hosts

“I tell you, they’re not our kind of people!”

Candace gave me ‘that’ look. The one that trumped all my arguments. “Hush, dear. It’s just one night. Besides, I think he’s a Freemason. You’d do well to be well in with him.”

I grumbled right up to when Karl opened the door to us, clinging to the wall and looking oddly flushed.

“Jack, Candy. It’s just you two we’re feeding tonight, so go right on through and help yourselves. Jeannette’s been busy all day making up sausages and steaks, so I can guarantee it’s all good meat.” He waved us along, leered sickly at Candace as we passed and then lurched after us.

I waited for a few moments after Karl had gone off, doing hostly things. “I told you. Drunk already. And I bet Janey’s bombed too.”

“Shush. Look, she’s coming!”

Jeanette looked pale, unusually forgoing her usual summer two-piece for an unseasonably full maxi dress. She reeled awkwardly, falling heavily into her chair to face us.

“Hi, you guys. Excuse me, I’m just a little hot. And not stoned like you said,” she slurred, fanning herself and kicking off her sandals. “Honestly. I heard you both. As if we ever would!”

But whatever I thought of them, they knew how to entertain. The steaks were exceptional. Veal or venison or something. And then I noticed something.

“Candy,” I mumbled, hurriedly dropping my sausage. “Don’t say anything but… have you seen her feet?”

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Price that's Paid

The stranger standing at her gate asked how much her house was worth.

The woman leaning over it gave him a curious look. As though she couldn’t believe the question or the fact that the man had asked it of her.

“Dear Sir,” she said, because she was a polite and well brought up lady. “Are you a person who believes that everything has its price and can therefore be bought?”

The newcomer thought for a moment before answering, not wanting to seem overtly shallow and materialistic. Then, in a voice somewhat less certain than before…

“It is the recognised way in our culture, is it not, to assign worth to everything? To measure the need or the desire that each one of us has for each and every material and immaterial item or notion. Otherwise, how could we trade with one another? Even a system based on bartering has, at its heart, a measure of relative value, does it not?”

The woman nodded, nonetheless feeling puzzled by his query. “Can you tell me why you ask? You seem a well-settled gentleman and I’d hazard a guess that you already have a home of your own. This is mine. My one and only. The place that was a home to my children. The place that my husband brought me to that first day after we wed, carrying me across the threshold. The last place he saw too, I’m afraid. This house would only be a further building for you to claim ownership to, dear Sir. Albeit one with a pleasant aspect and a provenance to be envied.”

The man frowned, unused to hearing such reasoning these days. “Perhaps we could negotiate,” he said. “Not for money but for the real value of this dwelling.” He pushed his sleeve up his arm to reveal an intricately tooled timepiece, conscious of yet another commodity he assigned great worth to. He looked back toward his waiting car and tried again, reaching into his pocket to retrieve his leather-bound chequebook.

A few minutes later, the deal was done, the widow satisfied if not pleased and the financier’s business account fractionally lighter than before.


Twelve months later, the house was gone, with only the family’s memories as testimony that it had ever existed. Earth-movers grumbled across its plot, their tracks erasing every trace of this, the last remaining block that’d held up this development; the new shopping mall now growing apace.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Recovery: a work in progress.


I clamped my eyelids closed. So tightly shut that I swear I could have curled ten kilos with either of them. Expecting my brain to liquefy in that instant before I retreated into the total darkness I craved.


And yet, there was no pain.

None at all.

So I waited. Halfway between worlds. Between the dark and the light. The living and the dead. The past and the present.

But I couldn’t stop the noise.

The rip-saw howl as my skull imploded. The crushing noise. The…

The silence.

I lay awake, waiting for it to stop. For the onslaught to begin again. For the return to the end of my life .

And still nothing.

Just a feeling of nausea. Bundled up with… hunger?

I dragged my eyelids open again; ready to retreat.

No worse.

My room was quiet, the sash window open and the fine gauzy pleats of the net curtains billowed like Monroe’s dress. Birdsong layered over the soft noises of a Sunday house. A woman singing softly, the radio turned down low. The sounds and the smell of bacon, frying.



Heaving myself upright, I sat on my bed; looking at the bunchings of my bed-clothes, the scatter of my pillows and the lone shape of my duvet, still clutched tightly to my chest.