day in the life

The old man who sits outside the K-Mart

Sun dancing on a silver can,

a man, sitting alone on a park bench on a cold evening,

remembers when he was twenty years old and was chased by the girls.

A cat, not having eaten in three days,

finds a piece of fried chicken behind a tall building.

It eats quickly, as

the sun sets and the light drains away.

The departing sun leaves the sounds of the day to become muted

and allows the sounds of night to grow.

No more children’s voices,

now car horns and conversations fill the streets.

A lamp is lit in a window

and the oak tree that has grown on this street for sixty years

shading this old park bench, is lit up.

The old man slowly raises himself from his seat,

his dreaming ended.

He wanders home to the lonely room he rents

in a building full of people

whose dreams look just like his.

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Why I wrote The Bomber

 

I wrote The Bomber because I wanted to see the world through the eyes of a man, returned from war, and facing the horrors of returning home to normal life. I read the New York times article today (http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/12/26/books/human-costs-of-the-forever-wars-enough-to-fill-a-bookshelf.html), and it struck me that my book is different for many reasons. Firstly, I have never been to war. I thought about it a lot in high school; I thought that I would do well in the Army, that it would be my sort of thing. I thought I could be a good officer. I based this on my interest in Napoleon Bonaparte and Arthur Wellesley, The first Duke of Wellington. I came to realise that the sort of people who succeed in the Army are probably the guys who do well on the football team. I was more interested in history and English. I do not think I am a great leader either. It did not take long to decide against joining the army. I also considered the Navy and at 34 still think I would like to go to sea and sail around for a while.

Secondly, my book looks at the workings of Joseph Starling and his descent into madness and ultimate recovery. The mindset of my main character is similar to one who has to descend into the underworld to save his lover, but ultimately loses her just before returning to Earth. It is a madness of throwing yourself into a system that will crush you because it does not even know you are there. The other books are more concerned with actual places and people; mine is set in a world of madness that could be anywhere. It is not clear cut, heroes and terrorists are as confused as they are in real life.

Finally, I feel The Bomber is successful because it deals with human issues in a human way. It is not because Joseph was a soldier that makes him interesting, he is interesting because he suffers. Just like anyone suffers. How many people do you have to meet before you find someone you actually like? What guarantees does life give you anyway? You could die alone, you might get cancer, your child could become addicted to drugs. Life is cruel and uncaring, but it is also beautiful and loving. Look at the sunset or the way the clouds sit still in the blue sky on a Spring day, The Bomber is a book that examines what it is to be human, faced with madness and fighting not to become mad as well. If Joseph loses his mind, the simple beauty all around him will disappear as well.

Choose books that challenge you. I love being recommended books by people who feel their lives have been changed because of them. I wrote The Bomber because the story changed my life.

 

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Hand on the telephone

Do you get sad, sweetheart?

Sitting in the park rotunda writing on your phone

When a man comes in and sits near you; He smells of wine and faeces

You leave, hearing him cry out as you go.

You tell me how horrible it was at that moment, his yellow teeth, yellow face, black eyes

I saw him sleeping on a blanket outside a café yesterday, or someone like him.

The flowers of the city have been trampled

The trees are wrapped in protective boards

 men work through the night cutting up the tiles

the scream of their drills echo in the city streets as I walk home.

But alone is really alone.

You have to close the curtains because the glow of the buildings

Light up your room

With painful, sharp white lights

I See the white steam rising from the building rooftops

And wonder where she is

Most likely she isn’t thinking of me.

Instead, she has a hundred phone messages to answer

Remember though-

Sitting in the Roman Room of the museum

How she sat and read her phone, not looking up at the 2000-year-old jars.

How that annoyed, how I complained

Those artifacts of human history, made before Caesar ruled,

Are not as interesting as what Michael or Brett are doing.

Close your eyes and forget,

Life is hard enough without recalling the past, reliving regret.

How will you get out of bed in the morning

If you let the fears of life

Sit on your chest like fat angry devils.

 

city

Yesterday, while I walked the city streets…

I found a café in a back lane in the city,

it looked like a nice old place, so I went inside

ordered a cup of tea and some toast.

An old woman, dark, with long grey hair brought me my order

and she stood before me a moment and said I looked like a man she used to know,

only I am a little fatter.

 

This man used to live on a farm,

she said,

he would take her for walks along lonely dirt tracks

they would light a fire and make love when the night fell

all in the open,

under the trees.

One day they were married

and he took her to the city.

She held up her hands and showed me the rings she wore,

this one, she said, pointing to a golden ring

is her wedding ring.

Three weeks into the marriage he started to beat her,

and he would beat her at least once a week.

It was the city that made him crazy,

she said.

But he is dead now

his heart stopped.

I’m glad the beatings have stopped.

She stood beside my table for a few more minutes

looking past me out the window.

The lane shone in the weak light,

its narrow spaces made the city seems taller,

but inside the café it seemed like a country town.

I’ve worked here for forty years; she said finally,

quietly

and moved away, leaving me behind in silence

leaving me with her memory.

 

 

Advice on life

Listen, the cop said to me, the thing that really gets you

Is when you’re standing there and their goddamn phone starts ringing.

I mean she’s been dead for an hour or two and her phone is ringing

And it’s on her.

You actually think you should answer it,

But what are you gonna say?

 

Listen, the cardiologist said to me, the thing is

These people have heart attacks

And then we fix ‘em and get them in for exercise

And the goddamn idiots

Actually complain about how hard it is to exercise

And all we ask them to do is walk a bit and maybe ride an exercise bike

And they don’t want to.

I tell ‘em not to eat cheese because cheese blocks up the arteries

I explain to them that they have to watch their diet

And they say

No doctor I really like cheese.

 

It’s riding two abreast,

The paramedic tells me

The cyclists shouldn’t ride two abreast,

I saw this just last week.

One guy knocked into the other

And they both went under the rear wheels of a truck.

It’s safer to ride single; I tell everyone.

 

I gave up cheese and riding two abreast, and I keep my phone on silent

But still, there’s a lot wrong with the world.

People get hard, and then they get crazy.

 

WHAT WAS SEEN

In this blog I will relate to your what was seen at a supermarket last Friday.

While innocently shopping I was moving past the cold meat delicatessen when two men, brothers aged about seventy and seventy one years, both men I found out later from a friend, had grown up on a farm together and since their parents had died, shared the running of that rural business. They had never married, never been away, always been farmers.

One of the men approached a display of donuts. The donuts, sitting on a small table, came in a packet of seven, enclosed in a plastic contained, the type where the top pops off and swings back on little plastic hinges. They were on special for about two dollars fifty.

The first brother picked up a packet, the second brother, approached the table and gave consent to the purchase. The first brother then dropped the packet of donuts, the top sprung open and all seven donuts rolled about the floor, one going slightly under the table.

The brothers are overcome with panic and a look of terror crosses their faces. Quickly they stoop and collect the seven donuts, ensuring not one is left behind and arrange them neatly in the container and close the lid. The first brother, with a firm grip this time, takes the package and carefully places the donuts back on the table with the others, and selects for himself a new packet, which they take and purchase.

I crossed to the table and looked at the display. They had put the donuts back so carefully I could not tell which one had hit the floor.

I did not buy a packet of donuts.

A day in the life

I thought I would share how my day went. I have different days where one of three things may happen.

One: Nothing out of the ordinary happens

Two: Good things happen and

Three: Bad things happen.

These days do not usually mix. I do not usually have a day where a good thing AND a bad thing happens. It usually goes that only one type of thing happens continuously on any one day.

So I thought I would share my day today because I cannot tell if it has been bad or good. This day has been an anomaly.

I woke up early because the sun came through the windows. I had forgotten to close the blinds. But I was happy to be awake early.

I took my book (Still reading Bob Dylan Chronicles volume one) out into the yard and I let my dog and kittens out for a run. The dog was good but one of the kittens ran away and it took me an hour to find him. He had run into the forest and was hiding among some fallen logs. Anything could have eaten him but luckily I found him and brought him home.

I caught a ride into town and went swimming. It is a beautiful outdoor pool, fifty metres long and clean-ish. (my spell check wanted to change clean-ish to clannish.) I was really happy to be swimming. The sun was out and the water sparkled. There were plenty of people swimming and there was only lane left was between a young woman (probably late teens) and an old woman.

Half way through my swim, I noticed something strange was happening. The young woman was a much faster swimmer than I was. I swim slowly but I go a long distance. This young woman would swim past me, wait until I came to the end of a length and then take off at the same time as me, then again she would wait and then take off at the same time. She may not have meant to or even thought about what was happening but it really stood out to me as something strange. She would be at the end of the pool each time I arrived over and over again. It was irritating but I ignored it and went about my swimming.

I bought a french breadstick and it was overcooked. I ate it anyway.

I took my car in for a registration check. It is a five year old car and only travelled fifty thousand kilometres. (31000 miles).

The mechanic checked it and then told me it needs new strut mounts, which are rubber caps that sit on top of the front struts and rub on the body. This, he told me, will cost me five hundred dollars. I figuratively died.

I am now thinking about replacing these strut caps myself. The actual part costs between $40 and $150 depending on the quality from ebay. These need to be replaced every few years and my parents car is the same model so if I do the work myself I could save a lot of money.

I had some little baby trees arrive in the post. They all look sick, I paid $8 each for them. They are Monterey Pines. John Steinbeck trees as I call them.

I sat for a long time thinking about my writing. I am plagued with self doubt. Take these blogs, I thought, with so many people writing why would anyone want to read mine? These thoughts troubled me for a good half hour until I decided to go outside and clean up some cans and bottles that had not burnt with the rest of the rubbish in the incinerator.

I think I will go now and watch a movie called Pacific Rim. I have not seen it yet but it is supposed to be about giant killer robots fighting giant killer monsters which is exactly the type of movie I really like.

So it was a day, nothing great and nothing terrible, just a day.

If you want to say anything to me please leave a comment. Let me know about your day or share with me any thoughts you have on mine.

Don’t forget to check out http://www.pennamepublishing.com for great competitions and writing advice.  They are holding a November writing contest and there is an opportunity to contribute to Dear Danny.

Nanowrimo comp: http://pennamepublishing.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/manuscript-monday-nanowrimo-with-french-press-bookworks/

Dear Danny comp:  http://pennamepublishing.wordpress.com/?s=dear+danny