There’s a sheen to the water, a swirl of slick, slurp, sludge squirming up the beach surfing old tidal rips to suck down feathered flurries, their bone stuck wings submerged to make stones with panicked beady eyes, staring up at a surface mirroring startled starlings swooping in a grey choked sky and a small child with a face still plump young, trying to break the glass with one fat finger, all the while calling for his mother to come and look.
I followed your path, at a distance. You like the sun, or any volatile star burning a streak towards the horizon. A scorching vision to those of us watching, waiting. Aware that you would set before us. Terrified of dusk. Sensing its arrival anyway.
I remember you tiny, barely a handful yet fully formed. Face screwed into a perfect grimace. So put out that you were here again to do this all over with this unimpressive lot.
This weekend the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge is taking place. Last month I posted my entry for the second challenge of the first round: Stolen Silence and at the moment I’m working on redrafting my submission for the first challenge of this year’s first round. Redrafting is the part of the process where you quite often find yourself doubting that you have any ability to put one work in front of the other at all. You find typos, spelling mistakes, words that you didn’t even know existed. Tenses switch back and forth, character names suddenly change, and out of nowhere you move from mountains to city surroundings. Editing is where all your mistakes come to the forefront and you have to go back and fix them. If you’re luck you will have brilliant people who will help you with your redrafts and edits. These people (if you can find the ones that will give you an honest review rather than just ‘yeah mate, good job’) are invaluable for getting your past that snow-blind stage …
It’s an odd moment when you recognise his fingers for pins pressed through your skin, and into the wall behind. Must be the same panic, as an insect caught up in spider silk. Not all shimmer is gold. Too late to be free without loosing something perhaps all of you, yourself, in the struggle.
You shed it all despite my begging, and became so light I lost you.
The peas have podded. I’m not sure if it’s the snap, or your bog standard, good old trusty garden type, but they’ve podded first with the white petals of the flowers still stuck to the green of their shells. Inside the crop is still too small, too young. I checked today. Popped my nail into the seam, slit through the flesh, cracked it open. New growth, old book. They both sound the same. They are not ready for harvest, but when you bite down they explode. They taste like spring, or summer, or something else that’s hot days and sudden rain storms. They tasted like they should do. New and fresh. It’s been a wet one, this spring, this downpour of water thickening the green.
About five years ago I self-published a collection of poetry through lulu. I made exactly nothing despite apparently selling at least one book through amazon (according to the less that encouraging review posted), and in the end I retired the project. The experience taught me a number of important things. Lulu is not the way to go if you want to sell a physical book on Amazon and make any margin. I am not a good enough editor. I need to outsource this element to avoid the number of typos and mistakes that were in the last book. Reading poems you wrote five or more years ago can be a painful experience. Especially when you realise the bad review hit the nail directly on the head. So why am I about to give self-publishing another shot? Well clearly I’m a glutton for punishment. When I published ‘Before The Words Run Out’ there were thirty-two poems, a series of haiku, and some pieces of flash fiction (all of which can be found somewhere in the depths of …
In some cases, the letter won’t translate. Specified language is always a little tricky, not like asking for directions to the swimming pool, or how much for the loaf of bread behind the counter. You craft an art-form of assumptions. Cut loose the odd words, ones which clearly don’t fit in the rigid confines of business, ones surely not meant. Leave a framework of mundane. Puzzle a meaning from the scraps, a rhythm for the found poem butchered out of miscommunication. Send a response in English, cringe a little for the recipient, know they will likely do as you and turn to an app, a browser tab, punch in the words, frown at the nonsense.
‘Take a ticket,’ said the man behind the scratched perspex glass. ‘It’s empty,’ said James, glancing at the busted plastic dispenser. ‘Huh?’ The man looked up. ‘Oh, so it is. Well, take a seat to wait and we’ll be right with you.’ ‘We?’ asked James. The man didn’t answer. Turning, James shuddered and stumbled as the room stretched like elastic. ‘Careful there.’ A set of hands steadied him. ‘The voodoo throws you at first. It’s how they fit us all in.’ ‘Us all?’ James asked. ‘Yeah, all the demons,’ said the voice. ‘Sorry mate, looks like you got busted.’ With all the poetry I’ve been writing for ‘It’s All In The Blood’ I’m in need of a bit of fiction in my life tonight. It’s amazing how much focus it gives you to have a set word limit on a piece of writing. It makes you go back and think about each individual word. A very useful skill that transfers well into poetry.