amreading

Bronze lions

The lights of the street flickered in yellow and red, Maisie pulled her jumper down over her hands and looked at the red lights above the buildings. She always felt relaxed and sleepy when she saw a red light; she remembered the rooms she used to stay in when the streets were too cold. A bar heater would be turned on, and it would glow on the wall. It stayed red all night. The girls would struggle to get a bunk nearer to that heater. Tracy came and sat beside her, and they both spent a moment looking at the bronze lions that flanked the steps of the library.

“Tony told me that if he could flog those lions, they’d be worth a mint,” Tracy said. “Do ya have a smoke?”

A smokes worth a dollar, but I have one for you,” Maisie answered, pulling two cigarettes out of a wrapper that once held a hamburger. A little bit of red sauce stained the paper of one of the smokes and Maisie saw this. She wondered if it would burn ok or if it’d taste different. She held the stained one back for herself and gave Tracy the other. “Smoking,” Maisie said as she handed the girl the cigarette, “Kills 480,000 people in the US each year.”

“God, I hope I’m one,” Tracy laughed.

“So when’s Tony gonna do it?”
“Do what?”
“Steal them lions?”
“They weigh too much to carry off.”
Maisie lit her cigarette and then lit the other. They both took a deep breath of the smoke.

A working man coming past stopped and looked at Maisie. “How old are you?”
“Old enough,” she answered.

“You should be in school.”

“I’ve graduated with a degree in minding.”
“Minding what?”
“Minding my own fucking business.” The girls began to
laugh; the man said a few more things before walking off, but they ignored him. Just as he was speaking the morning sun came over the copper roof of the library and lit the square. The street lights, still aglow, would soon be off.

“I love this time of the morning,” Maisie whispered.

“I hate it; all the creeps are out. Early morning is the worst time.”

“Where’d you sleep last night?”

“I worked, I did a few jobs. I’ve not slept yet. Where’d you?”
“I stayed at Carla’s place.”
“Was her boyfriend home?”
“No, I wouldn’t be there if he was.”
They sat silently for a moment as a flock of pigeons gathered by the statue of T. S. Eliot.

“What are you doing today?” Tracy asked, dropping some ash from the end of her cigarette.
“I’m working at Ericson’s. They’re putting me on the register today.”
“It
don’t pay much, why don’t you come with me? I made twelve ‘undred dollars last night. Here look.” Tracy opened a cloth bag studded with red and blue sequins. Greenish blue looking notes were shoved in so that they were all screwed up, there were a lot of them.

“Give us a twenty?” Maisie asked.

“Sure,” Tracy pulled a twenty dollar note out, smooth it between her fingers and passed it to the thin blonde girl. Tracy was chubby, with a beautiful face, but she would, in a few years, become fat like her mother. Deep down she was jealous of Maisie; Maisie was thin and sharp like she had been cut from stone.

Maisie put it in her pocket. “I gotta start work now,” she stood up and lifted her jumper to show her supermarket uniform underneath. Her thin legs showed prettily under her dress. She let her jumper down and then dropped her cigarette and stamped it out.

“See ya; I’ll be here tonight at five if you want to get some dinner.”

“OK, I’ll meet you here.”

Maisie smiled and climbed down the wet steps that seemed to slope back too far so that each one held a puddle of water. Maisie then skipped from a patch of sunlight to another. She looked up and noticed the lamps were all off now and the early morning sun danced in the leaves of the Kurrajong Trees. She turned back to looked at Tracy and stopped. Tony held Tracy by her arm and was violently tearing her purse away from her. Maisie felt the twenty-dollar bill in her pocket.

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Volt Lane

The town shut off a lane and threw a party.

1000 strangers, eating, drinking, listening to music.

Humanity squeezed between two tall buildings.

I stand in a crowd, utterly alone.

A small man and a blonde woman stand next to me.

The small man is a doctor.

I turn and look at the lights strung between the walls.

The lights change colour. Above us, the night sky shines with the last rays of sun

mixing with the moon.  

I feel in such a position of weakness as I always do in crowds

And I feel…

Angry

Out of breath

Frustrated

Like walking

And I walk.

I think of her, she is away, gone a long way, maybe she won’t come back.

It is alone that we feel most frightened.

We have to be alone many times,

Some die alone.

Even in a crowd you can die alone.

My idea of terror

Is trying to keep a hundred friends who don’t know me,

My idea of joy is one true friend who knows me well.

I’d rather the sunrise next to you,

Than the sunset in a crowd of one thousand.  

Mostly Mr. Hyde.

There’s a guy I know,

And he sits around all day getting mad,

Or he works at some store or wherever he can get a job

And then he goes out at night running.

He looks for fights; he looks for trouble.

He’s crazy, and he’s angry

He’s never been in a stable relationship.

He starts dating girls; then he starts to agonize about their past boyfriends

Or over thoughts that he’s not good enough for them

Or they’re not good enough for him,

And he starts to break them down and drive them away.

I tell him he has low self-esteem

I tell him not to worry about the things he worries about

But it only gives him more things to twist over.

He tucks a knife into his running shorts

And then he’s off into the night, running all year around,

In summer heat or winter rain,

He goes for hours.

Sometimes he comes back and you can see he’s been fighting.

Some car driven across a driveway, and they don’t give way to him

Or some teenager yelling something at him out the window of a car

While it’s parked at a red light,

Or someone won’t get out of his way.

Most of them regret doing it when he loses it,

Sometimes he finds guys just as angry as himself.

One day, he’ll stab someone

And he’ll go to jail.

I wonder: what’s he got to lose anyway?

A refrigerator full of beer

And some poetry books.

That’s all he has.

He writes poetry sometimes too

Like me.

His writing is good, but that’s not enough.

He’s a mad dog, tearing at his own fur.

 

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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True love

 

He found me walking home one day, and he started to walk with me,

Every house we passed, he would run in and check for any food left out

And see if he could win a bite,

But then he’d catch up to me and walk at my side with happy pride.

He followed me four blocks

Until we came to a highway

And I turned to him and yelled at him to go.

His face turned to hurt fear and he left.

I crossed the road and regretted what I had done, turned and returned to the other side

and searched for him,

That black and white dog,

But he was gone and I couldn’t find him.

Chances come and go, but I had a chance to love and I let it go.

She stood in the morning light, a sad determined look on her face

And told me to leave.

I left and turned, looking one more time at her standing in the doorway

And my mind goes back to that black and white dog.

The real mistakes I have made haunt me, again and again,

They come like spirits at midnight and dance in front of me, screaming.

The woman didn’t matter, she found someone else and moved on

We did not suit each other,

She’ll never starve.

But that dog! What became of him?

 

anvilsoul1aanvilsoul6o1

On Smith Street and Nagle Lane.

 

 Outside the supermarket

A man surrounded by fat, heaving along his belly.

Is squatting on a chrome bench

Sucking hard on a cigarette.

He looks a cool breeze away from a heart attack.

On the same road

A young woman as beautiful as summer rain

Stands by a fast food restaurant looking lost.

Her eyes are wide and gentle,

She has all the innocence and none of the hardness

too many people in this place carry in them.

Around her are cold people, angry at life. People whom lovers have fooled

Life has lied to them, broken their dreams like old sticks

This woman is no reflection of these others,

I watch her walk along the street

And feel ashamed to follow her with my eyes.

She passes near the fat man

He drops his cigarette

And leans forward, like a boulder soon to drop

And says something I am not able to hear.

Her face changes, something horrid has been spoken,

She steps away; he is laughing now.

 The flower has been stepped on.

How long will it be before she is changed forever?

The world crushes what it falls upon.

That Queen, The Moon.

She started to stay away,

That beautiful woman,

And she didn’t share with me those sweet secrets she used to,

So the terrible feeling crept in like winter wind under the door.

I set out to a friend’s farm to keep away for a while.

I would lay awake in the morning, watching the sun arrive

Pressing against my open window, putting a foot inside warming what he touched.

Early, early, I would set out across the dew-wet grass,

toward the mountains, toward the pine forests.

Even as the sun rose, the moon still sat in the sky,

Like a queen, not moving, not being told to leave,

But pleased herself to walk in night dripping with diamonds

And to stay in the day, watching over that fool, the sun.

Slowly she would leave, unhurried, in her own time

To sleep in her private chambers over the hills.

In the forests, I could breathe, rest alone and witness the forest animals,

Like spirits

Dancing across the fallen logs and up the sides of ancient trees.

I listened to the silent streams and watched for fish.

I knew that without her life continued,

And no one is irreplaceable. 

Except for the moon, the moon alone is unique.

Winter not a summer

 

There is not too much speaking

We’re brooding quietly

While through the hills, the sun is peeking.

We’re just happy sitting here, doing our best thinking

You’re more beautiful than words and all of heaven’s holy birds

And I mean it – straight to you.

 

Many people think that all I say is true

Most of it is, but some lies

I say to stop feeling blue

But if I say you’re beautiful

I mean it through and through

And I mean it- straight to you.

 

Your smile, your soft hair

The pretty clothes you wear

You think you’re just normal but my hearts says beware,

You’re better than all others

More kind and more fair

And I mean it- straight to you.

 

You’re honest and you’re kind,

I love your pretty feet,

If I had to meet anyone again,

It’s you l’d like to meet

And no matter where you go I hope you’re always on a loving street

And I mean it – straight to you.

 

anvilsoul6o1

The heart opens to failure

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There are no words

No poems

Sad enough to describe

This change she said.

It is true

I am too sensitive

I am too full of self-doubt

My joy is secret, untouched, unshared

She does not want to be seen with me.

But I still have legs to go on with

Eyes to see by

And I thank God.

Someone more confident, certain of themselves

With a brighter face and keener wit

Would suit her.

Someone who never doubts, never worries

Happiness is different depending on the person

It has to be this way, so everyone gets some

At least once.

Wounded and dying

Do not add tears to parting

What good is crying?

There are women who inspire poems

And those who stay to see you write them.

 

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