Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Bound/Take off

It’s isn’t real, it’s just
a feeling in this town that
I am bound, like
the feet of a Chinese courtesan, like
old tomes to their spines:
rare and old and unthumbed.

I am tired of the library backroom,
the smell of sawdust, frayed string
and patches of wool, the smell of
tea leaves powdered to dust.

I am longing for the pfft.

To be ripped and folded,
crease to the ceiling.
To be launched.

A paper airplane
cresting above their heads,
out the window, past
the stooped man on the
accordion corner,
past the bakery window,
past the bridges,

swooping with exhaled air
beneath my wingtips
and gasps—I’m ready
to crashland the canal.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Story of the Month?

If you enjoyed my story, The Wind Turbines, please vote for it at Bartleby Snopes to be their story of the month. That would mean I would get published in their magazine. Pretty please? Voting lives over here.

You can also read it there if you haven't already read it. It is racy! And full of Greek sunshine.

one methodical morning

I turned the hot water on and got the coffee maker down off the shelf. I wet the rod and measured the stuff into the top and by that time the water was steaming. I filled the lower half of the dingus and set it on the flame. I set the upper part on top and gave it a twist so it would bind...

...The coffee maker was almost ready to bubble. I turned the flame low and watched the water rise. It hung a little at the bottom of the glass tube. I turned the flame up just enough to get it over the hump and then turned it low again quickly. I stirred the coffee and covered it. I set my tinier for three minutes. Very methodical guy, Marlowe. Nothing must interfere with his coffee technique. Not even a gun in the hand of a desperate character.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Cabaret, darling!

We are leaving here; we are taking ourselves to the cabaret. Sloughing off the skin of winter, yelling Tschüss to London town. Funny, I moved to the big city but there’s something of this place that is small and villagey, or maybe just something of me in this place that tends that way. Hunkering down. Baking bread, strolling on the marshes, farmer’s markets and sourdough starters and feasts around a wooden table. A predilection for red lighting and providing. My library card and my window boxes. Something I have slipped into makes the corners of this city close. Yes, occasionally (last week, on the boat, on the river) I do roar here and that feeling of skyscrapers and subway clutches fistfuls of my hair. But these moments are fleeting. Here, I purr more than I scream. Eat more than I dance. Curl up more often than catapult. And goddamn, I’m too young to retire these wriggling hotpants. I still dream of comets and circus ponies and I miss the hunger and helplessness of gridlike streets, hipflasks, bridges, stomping. The questionmark curl of smoke from her cigarette. The arch of the eyebrow. The yelp.

So, we are leaving here; we are taking ourselves to the cabaret. I close my eyes and there will be bruised shins and sequins, I will be outdoor and feral and flirtatious. My pout will be lipsticked and there will be an unfurling of possibility like spring daffodils pushing through asphalt. I will howl. Fall over. Watch the sunrise from a Tudor bridge in the centre of the city. Give myself to a love affair with the harsh concrete monoliths, the graffiti, the Wall; give myself to bedraggled mornings stumbling home down a crumbling strasse, heels in my hand. I close my eyes and I think of the angles of other women, of descending the stairs to a room roiling with skin. I offer myself a second go at decadence, another swig from its gourd. I tell him that everything is permitted and we are able to take it. I roll the vowel sounds around, I hack up the consonants, I loll in the Welsh ls of Neukölln. I tie a ribbon around my thigh and start running and unfurling. I am ready for the next thing in all its elbows and stockings and glory. What good is this sitting alone in our room? Time for the wine, the band, the horn. Time for the cabaret.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Something Fine

I was asked to write a piece for the Something Fine project, "a project inspired by and created around the whimsical, overwhelming, awkward and agonising feelings conjured by first love."

You can read my words here and see many other interpretations of first love here!


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

I have a new blog

For my artistic sideline.


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A Good Man

He is a good man, she says; he is a good man and he gets out of our coddled bed nest to make me coffee when the mornings are jangled and our teeth furred from too much fun. He is a good man and he can poach an egg. Perfectly. He buys chives to pretend we are in the restaurant when I cannot afford the restaurant, when I cross the street to avoid the eye of the ATM. He is a good man and he does not crook his eyebrow to suggest my behaviour is inappropriate or sluttish except, of course, when that is what I want. He is a good man, she says, you cannot possibly understand the goodness of this man; he is the sound of freshly forged daggers hissing on the anvil and the smell of fondues bubbling on the moon. He forgives me when I am topsy-turvy and he licks the crook of my elbow with his neon fox tongue. You think you know love, she says—he lashes me to the four posts of a magic carpet and we surf the aurora borealis while I wriggle and squirm and wink at Sweden. You think you know love but you don’t know anything, she says. He is a good man. I am in love.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Stream of consciousness

You have cherry brandy and sticky fingers and a cold; you are alone. Quiet, don't disturb the shadows darting in the corners of the empty house. It's better this way. Sniff the air, tend to your subdued nostrils. The pink, rabbity patch beneath your nose. Poor girl, thrashing and screaming and begging for company. Or perhaps not. Perhaps that, like every other time, is a lie. This is a relief, no, to be alone? You can think of wide flower-basketed streets and not be interrupted by chatter. You can make eyes at the moon. Your foolishness is your own regard: nothing to abide by or apologise for. The cherry brandy is sweet on your tongue, too sweet, but the red wine is in the shop and the shop is far. Actually, not so far, but enough that it is outside and you have not yet quite learned to trust outside. Not now the darkness has fallen. It was one thing when it was afternoon and you were early in the day and brave with plans; it is another now you have lived with yourself for hours and seen the creature you are around the house. How to stare into the shopkeepers eyes and conduct transactions, how to make your feet step one before the other in a direction worthy of destinations: these are the problems you struggle with. No. Better to stick with the tongue-numbing cherry brandy and cackle at yourself while on the stove the potatoes bubble. Better to wait, lick your lips, run the tips of your fingers across the pads of your thumbs. Poor girl, feeling sorry for yourself because you are sickly, feeling impatient with the world because it is there. But stop: smell the burning beneath your phlegm, girl. Stop this ever-indulgent typing and take yourself to the stove.

A small room

It is a small room, a squat, pokey room, with cushions scattered on the floor like carbuncles. It's not where you want to come back to at the end of the day. Sure, the floor is there for lounging, but something about the place seems malevolent. Something in the angle of the light, prodding its way through the windowpanes. Something about the texture of the carpet, too squidgy, like mud in the ocean. Anything could be lurking there. Waiting for your toes.

So you decide to stay out longer. You ignore the tugging of your weary body and the seductive whispers of sleep. That way madness lies. The prospect of lying with your eyes firmly shut, trying to convince yourself its nighttime, are not appealing. The prospect of waking up halfway through the night with a terrifying number of hours to wait out until sunlight. No. Better still to drink and spin until something claims you, lose your keys, toss them over your shoulder with a tinkling laugh and an eye for the gutter. Do not wait for the plop, do not think of coathangers. Run from the waiting room and find a new place to wait this black dog out.

Look: the man in the corner. His eyes are soft; his knuckles look like they have seldom been clenched. If you close your eyes, things happen faster (so the man in the fairground whispered). You are damaged goods these days. They can smell the milk curdling on your collarbones. That is why the shop assistants shirk. The best you can hope for is one that won't hurt.

Hi, you say, hey there.

Up close he is old and wrinkled. This is ok. Old men need less. Maybe? Maybe he is tired too. Maybe you can go home together and use each other's bodies to block out the silence of the night. You can take it in turns to purr a low static hum. You can swaddle yourselves in the sounds of one another's breath.

What are you drinking, you say. I'm drinking gin, you say.

You have read enough articles to know how you are supposed to behave and you can see right through them. You know about craigslist, the men who demand.

wanted: filthy cum slut fr daddym, I will satesfy you're deepest desires

Sometimes you spend hours reading them, breathless, aghast at the words spilling out like sergeant's marching orders, the list of filth, this, the same as your body, the things that you think of, the things you will do.

But he is not like this, this man, this bar is not like this. It is a nice place, the lights are dimmed to a soft, buttery glow. There are no stains on the counter. You don't squat over the toilet seat, tensing your skin not to touch.

The man, who is old and quiet and probably listens to plays on the radio, looks up at you. This is what you would like: a man who listens to plays on the radio. A man who knows the difference between ruby and tawny port. A man with soft, unhurried knuckles which close around door handles and see you through.

A gin, huh?

Yes, a gin. And tonic, and lime. Unless you think they do a gin fizz here? I've never had a gin fizz. I always used to wonder what was in a gin fizz. Do you know? Didn't you always wonder what was in a gin fizz?

Your voice is bright polished plastic. Too bright for this room. There is colour rising in your cheeks. You wonder for a moment, but this is not the kind of man who wants to see that. You do not want another one that thinks about the red rising up in your cheeks. You are exhausted. Suddenly the last thing you want is another drink. The bubbles would riot and shriek in your stomach. The blood in your neck would pulse.

Home is a small room, a squat, pokey room, with cushions scattered on the floor like carbuncles and after what happened there you are hiding, hiding from the stains he left, hiding from yours, hiding from the sound of your own voice moaning Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes.

The things that went on there are waiting for you when you wake up and you would rather be in the company of strangers, in a room with a radio play, with (if you could hope for it) coffee brewing. Pastries, even. A room with an old man, who will not look for much, who won't demand. A man who will fall asleep, soon enough.

I saw you from across the room, you say. I thought I’d come over and say hi.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

New Years Resolutions That Worked Out, Part 1.

finish more letters and get round to sending them (I have a drawer of half-written letters and unsent postcards, which are now hopelessly out of date in their news).

Tom Robbins wrote back to me. He is my hero. He told me good things about the whirlwind and the left-handed path, urged me to persist with these words of mine, and said, "Phrases such as 'New York is poised beneath a pinata full of rhinestones and laughing gas...' are among the most exciting things I've read since social networking crippled the Language Wheel." He also felt-tipped red and blue stripes on the envelope to make it airmail.

Everything is about to gallop (I am). Everything is about to explode.

The Hop

There, listen quiet, to the moment before the hop. Knees bent, sinews gathering: the tendons are rigid and the blood posts close to the skin. Yes, there is snow on the foothills, a promise that we have not yet fled from our winter chassis. Yet. If you strain it is there: a preparation, an intake of breath, a momentary tautening before the coil kicks off. Shush. Try harder. Are you there? Are you close?

There is this: we are waiting to be sprung, to catapult our sitting room weary bodies into a sun speckled year. No more fearful indoor lurking. No sofa duvets. No naps. We are frogs who have been waiting, legs crooked, for months; we are frogs who never wanted for a kiss but will see our princesses and ping skyward. The princesses will gasp but shut up! This is not about pursed lips or brocade or golden balls rolling toward the well. This is about the sinews and the moment when our amphibian brains start to think about flight.

Snowdrops and daffodils are erupting from the soil; the sun is clawing to a point higher in the sky; and all around, wherever you look, the bears are waking up. The hummingbirds have shed their torpor. And our knees are about to straighten, our poor froglike knees giddy for the hop. We aren’t frozen; this isn’t stasis. Everything is about to happen…now.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Wind Turbines

New fiction at Bartleby Snopes about a girl who gets over her broken heart by going to Greece and having an affair with one of these.