Monday, 3 May 2021

Up There

 

 

Up there

On the stair

Is where, I sat

Listening in

Barefoot and pyjama-d

In the comforting sound of adult conversation

Six or eight voices, out of range

All the edges knocked off and muffled

 

Listening in also

For the tread, closer

And the pull of the door on the carpet

Someone coming to check the oven

A swift and quiet retreat

as the chatter bounced out into the hallway

and up the stairs after me

 

voices clear, recognisable,

overlapping each other

until the door pushes to again

the dinner checked and stirred

and I creep back down

as far as I dare,

no-man’s land beneath me

get caught there, sent back to bed

tummy-ache or can’t sleep fooling no-one

and everyone will know

 

Up there

On the stair

The bridge between sleep and grown-ups

Just sit and stay as long as you can

Until they troop out for their dinner

Younger then than I am now

 

Older and I’m there

On the stair

Creeping back in

Don’t dare wake

Who might clock the time

Miss the step that creaks

Tread the edge

Of the one that groans in the middle


Even now I know the routine

Plane tickets printed but still in the tray

Remembered at midnight for early flights

Still got the moves,

in and out


I have my own stairs now

It’s not quite so much fun

Up there

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

The Last Chance Saloon

I've been attending a work-based writing and wellbeing course, during which we were recommended to look at the monthly compeition 'Furious Fiction'. 

500 words, in 55 hours, with certain required words, items etc in the story. I had an idea which I worked through in my head, by which time there was only time to write it down, sleep and redraft by the 1pm deadline.

My writing group and my writing course gave good feedback which was very encouraging. 




The Last Chance Saloon

 

The bell trilled.

Strained conversations withered gratefully.

‘Okay everyone, mark your cards and get ready for your final encounter. If you haven’t found love at first sight already then don’t despair, this could be the one.’

Jake rose from his chair, wiped his still sweaty palms on the back of his jeans, and headed to the final table.

‘Nice to meet you’ she called after him.

He turned back, remembering his manners, ‘Oh yes, thank, you too’ and gave a kind but not-interested smile. He’d spent ten minutes nodding politely at her self-absorption, and the flat autumn light hadn’t done her face any favours either.

‘Before we start on our final round, thank you again for your understanding and like I said you’ll all be refunded for this evening, just enjoy yourselves, our gift to you’.

Due to multiple cancellations (‘there must be a bug going around’) the organisers of today’s events had combined the two age groups to have any chance of filling the afternoon. There’d been a few jokes about toyboys and cougars but everyone had voted to carry on.

 

‘Good evening,’ said Jake’s last chance at a match.

‘Good evening to you madam.’

‘Janice Smith’, she said, holding out a hand.

‘Jake Smith’, he replied taking the hand gently and bowing slightly, ‘Coincidence ?’

‘Maybe we’re related ?’

‘Maybe,’

The following pause was awkwardly long. But what to say ?

‘So . . . ‘

‘You seem rather young, inexperienced, for this ?’ said  Janice.

‘And you seem rather . . . charming, for this’, Jake replied, catching himself.

‘Well thank you, for not calling me old,’

‘You’re welcome,’

The tea light between them flickered.

‘So, given the limited time we have, can I ask you something personal ?’

‘You can ask’, said Jake, taking a sip.

‘How many sexual partners have you had ?’

Jake nearly choked on his virgin coke.

‘You know if I answer then I can ask the same question ?’

‘Oh yes, sorry best not to answer then. I didn’t think that one through, new to this. Shame I’ve been waiting to ask you that all evening, ever since they combined the groups.’

Jake mopped up a little spilt drink with a serviette.

 

‘So what should we talk about ?’

‘Oh our hopes, our dreams, ‘ Jake said with a mock flourish.

At a neighbouring table a couple were gushing over shared dog photos.

‘Be honest, really, do you think I’m too old for this ?

‘You’re fine, you’re lovely. You take care of yourself. You’ve still got it in you,’

‘Thank you, it’s nice to hear. You scrub up well yourself, ‘

 

The bell trilled again.

‘Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Please mark your cards and hand them in on the way out. We’ll let you know your matches tomorrow.

‘So Janice, back to mine for some 'Netflix and Chill' ?’

‘I’m not too old to know what that means, and that, is not, appropriate,’

‘Yeah, sorry Mum.’

 

 

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Waiting in the dark

There's a lot of waiting going on, waiting for a vaccine, waiting to see if Christmas will be locked down, waiting for a grown up in the White House (at least that's over), just waiting for things to get better,

 
Waiting in the dark
 
Take the volume from the incessant chatter
snuff the blazing lights
sit down in darkness
comforted by patience
 
Stretched between twitching hope
and the sleep of nostalgia
the comfort of newness, of possible change
Or the embrace of the rush of the familiar
 
Wandering from one day to the next
with no race to run
no flames to feed
the metronome clocks
another day
that slips spent to the pile 
 
I sit in the dark
fix on one dim shape
and build around that reality
rebuild a sense of me,
that has been dismantling
 
Washing dressing eating working
scrolling, petitioning
wishing for time travel
either forwards or back
 
Waiting in the rain of speculation
for a cure, a believable all-clear, or a way out
waiting for the same again, again
to stay safe is to stay still, and let go
accept this is out of my hands
 
Sweet nostalgic music has lost all meaning
return to that country cut off by shifting plates
lose myself in stranger sounds, for stranger times
textural landscapes, shapes and patterns
that emerge from groans and clangs
Sylvian and Sakamoto,
T.Rex and Tom Waits
from a different time
a different place
to repaint the here and now
 
So I sit in night
shrouded in the weight of these times
while shadow dogs guard me
sinking into the comfort of the dark