Monday, 28 February 2011

the courtesan

They said if she loved him, she would hang

up her nipple tassels, bury the red sequins

into a cardboard box for

no more winking.

She would have no need of

the anointments and unctuants

she employs; the bordello’s

curtains would collapse.

So: the courtesan retired,

folded her butterfly limbs into

their grey onion sheaths, set her

bawdy ruffles to rest, but

her lacquered lashes

began to droop; her curls

limped like cut

dandelions in

a crystal tumbler.

Without the UV glare of gazes,

her skin lost its sheen.

She forgot the seduction

of the angle of her instep

and he left her, for a dancer

who sparkled

like a rhinestone


iced with the cape

of a supernova.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

barbara gowdy on provocation

Any provocative thought, if you act upon it, seems to set you on a trajectory.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

summer recipes

You do not need to follow the recipe precisely. Be creative, and the results will surprise you.

Substitute the sundried tomatoes for a warm rock on a late summer afternoon.

Instead of julienning the fava beans you could, instead, slip your linen shirt off your pink shoulders and hang it on a tree branch like a white flag yelling “I don’t want to fight anymore, goddamit, this aftenoon is beautiful.”

Bubble the mixture on a long, low flame until the air caramelizes and the hum of mosquitoes sticks to your damp patches of skin.

You do not need to keep a close eye on proceedings. Relax. Leave everything to infuse, let the butter sweat the onions until they are translucent kisses waiting to be wiped away by the back of his hand.

Do not stir the pot.

Distract yourself with brie and half-completed crossword puzzles and refrain from lifting the lid to see. It will be ready when the sun ducks under the leaves’ canopy and the breeze raises the hairs on your forearms.

You will notice that you are ready to eat.

Leave it to cool until it is just right, then chew slowly

and thoughtfully

and have patience with your tongue.

Monday, 21 February 2011

feb 21st

It's february 21st which surely is some kind of solstice, so it seems a cruel trick that it just got bitter-cold again and we're huddled for warmth, fingerless gloves for fingering in, Turkish pide to keep our tongues warm. This fortnight has come around with an upsurge in work and a downturn in caressing by the canal, oyster afternoons and gin fizz. This is disappointing, but I have a hankering that March is going to be a delight.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

tom robbins on writing

"Never be afraid to make a fool of yourself. The furthest out you can go is the best place to be. "


Overnight, a briar patch has thickened
in the chasm between sleepfulness
and waking. I have no gloves to
trim the thorns and

morning is a shrill harridan
in another room, shrieking ceaselessly
about the chores
afternoon has to offer.

It is going to take
an Ethiopia of coffee
to slough the skin from my stare.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

mary gaitskill on writing

"Writing is being able to take something whole and fiercely alive that exists inside you in some unknowable combination of thought, feeling, physicality, and spirit, and to then store it like a genie in tense, tiny black symbols on a calm white page."

Thieving the Moon

A little more soppy than usual. Fear not, regular filth levels will soon be resumed.

The New Scientist explained that
if aliens stole the moon
the tides would set to slumber.

Earth would loom to a new
axis: half the year
we would shiver, six months
we would burn, and

the migration of moths
would cease.

There is, on the crook
of your neck, a swatch of
silken skin which tugs
at my gravity and yesterday
on the bus I felt

without it there is
my own axis off-kilter.

Without it I lurch too close
to bright lights, my broken
moth wings too tricky

to orientate in the
absence of the
wink of the moon.

Monday, 14 February 2011


It is time we spoke out in praise of bruises. Those ten-tone firework displays spattered across skin. Those thickets of wildflowers blossoming just below the boundary of flesh. Bruises are blood gone wrong, a coagulation, the body's memory of the thwack it loved too much to let go. Bruises are a postcard to a future self spelled r-e-m-e-m-b-e-r-?. Bruises remind you: yes. You did.

There are few things that can be done to us perfectly poised between the temporary and the magnificent, no scar and gaping wound, just a Rorschach blot blossoming that spells out the secrets of the psyche in glorious technicolour.

I adore bruises. I wake after drunken nights with shins that swell with target practice escapades, and I marvel. I watch them mature and develop like children, parts of my own body who I can no longer dictate and control. I run my fingers over them and feel the lumpen textures that lurk beneath and I wonder about the worlds which exist deep inside my skin, to which I can never attain entry. Our only communication these smoke signals sent to the surface. Encoded in colours for my brain to decipher: what the fuck happened that night, how?

Of course, my favourite are sex bruises. When I stand behind the bar with four perfect fingerprint circles throbbing black and yellow in the muscle of my arm, and the customers ask me if I've been in a fight and I smile, I turn away, the perfect waitress, because what if I had? They always ask. This surprises me, as if by paying for their drinks they have earned some right to question where and what it is I do with my body. I wonder how they would react if I said Yes. I was attacked. I don't. I smile, and I turn away. Head chockfull of the thought of fingers and fucking and being clutched at. Mouth full of giggles.

The black eye is the ultimate bruise. Patti Smith understands:

"I thought that was the heaviest thing I ever saw - Anouk Aimee with that black eye. It made me always want to have a black eye forever. It made me want to get a guy to knock me around. I'd always look great"

Wow. Of course! Black & white photos of black & blue girls. Heavy. All the lacquer and the liner in the world is only an approximation we paste on daily, wondering how dreamy it would be to have an eye ensconced in blood. Miaow! I don't mean to condone abuse: God, no. It's aesthetic, not ethics. I've just always wanted one, that's all, and it's so hard to give to yourself...

There are always the slice of the blade and the slit of the wrists, they have their adherers, but that's so obvious, so instant, so purposeful. So personal and private. So intended. All the glory of the experience is caught up, then and there, in the enactment. The bruise hops among the undergrowth like Pan, tootling his flute, waiting to catch you unawares with the wallop. Most often, you don't even recognise the monkey until it's leapt on your back.

That's the beauty. They don't remind you, like scars, of the moments of hatred towards yourself and your skin. They sneak up in the agonies of ecstacy and the stumblings of drunks; they are a postcard to your future self signed the girl so delirious she couldn't control herself.

I love them!

More bruises please.

Friday, 11 February 2011

something old to start with

You told me not to touch, but

I probed, I confess; it was so soft, so shiny, it was Christmas tree coral and my palm was wide. I tried, I folded my fingers, but I am sick to the stomach of this much me and then

there was that, taut as the bubble's skin. I wanted to quiver and my hands are pink-nosed moles, littering your lawn with clods. I'm sorry, you told me not to touch, but

as I sat on my palms distraught, curiosity worried my flaps of skin. I laid bare a crook of neck for the serpent's tongue to flicker. We flipped and flicked and we

fucked, no trimmed wicks on these candles, we sputtered like sparklers and we gorged. He tasted like all the gravy dripping from the boat,

staining the tablecloth. He tasted like Boxing Day.

new resolutes

The past eight months have been pitiful in terms of updates, it's true, though this isn't from lack of writing. I've been concentrating on short stories, working with a mentor, putting together a collection which started with The Cats' Gravity almost two years ago and which I plan to complete in the next few months. Then I will find someone to publish it and I will embark on a grand adventure of promotion. I will camp out in Shakespeare & Co in Paris and Atlantis Books in Santorini and slip my book onto their shelves with dedications in the covers. I will sleep in cupboards surrounded by short story collections and dream of plotlines twisting through my curls (I will, finally, get a perm). I will go to NYC and recite fiction on the L train and become a cult hero and spend many evenings in Barcade becoming an expert at Ms Pacman (if I look for myself in craigslist's Missed Connections, I will be there, often). We'll drink bourbon under the bridges like it's January 2010 all over again, except I'll have sex with fewer men and more women. Miranda July will pick up a copy of my book in some cafe-cum-bookstore in Portland and be instantly charmed. She will call me up and we will start a writing project together which will involve vintage lingerie, woolen pom poms and biros.

I know you think this is unlikely but actually I am charmed and it will probably happen. A year and a half ago I thought wouldn't it be great if someone gave me a load of money so I could quit my job and go back to New York and write stories? So the Scottish Book Trust did, they wrote a cheque for £2000 and said have fun.

They also gave me a mentor and a voice coach and many schmoozing events with free canapes. I went to one of those events last night. My mentor told a woman from the BBC that my writing was exciting, dense and sparky, full of eroticism with a hint of menace. I read a story to a room full of industry people and they projected a picture of my face eating a bagel on the wall and a quote from my story. People knew who I was because my giant face was up there, eating that bagel. The people came and said hello and we drank champagne.

I have also recently had acceptances from places which impress me, like Gutter and Foundling Review and 3:AM and I have discovered a boy who thinks it's incredibly sexy when I get things published. This is not an essential motivation for writing, but a nice thing nonetheless. When I have my book published I will dress up in stockings and lace-trimmed knickers and red high heels with bows on the toes and I will sit on a high stool with my legs crossed at the knee reciting things I have written until I am ravished.

I suspect this will not take long.

Anyway, the point in this post is that I have been a pitiful bloggette and I am going come back for a while, because I like writing things that do not need to be perfect and complete. Trying for everyday updates for the rest of February, because if we can get through that it will be March again, and springtime. Yum!

anne enright on writing

"Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand"