amwriting

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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Young Entrepreneurs

I sat waiting to get an x-ray

In some depressing medical centre

When a thin man with long black hair walks in,

His eyes are crooked as if they are spooked

And fled to opposite sides of his skull.

He has a slimy look.

He sits near me and leans forward,

“Do you think they’ll be long? I have a meeting of the young entrepreneurs tonight,

The YEM.”

“I don’t know,” I answer.

He gives me an unhappy look

And then his eyes glance up and down, taking me in,

Sizing me up.

His crooked eyes do not seem to like what they see.

“We’ve had a lot of rain recently,” I continue.

“Yes,” he snaps and looks away.

 

A pregnant woman walks in,

A man wearing the blue uniform of a nurse follows.

They start talking.

“Will I have to wait long?” the young man interrupts.

“I don’t know,” the nurse answers and turns back to the woman.

“Only I have a YEM on tonight.”

No one speaks to the young man again,

No one likes anyone.

The long haired man walks away, probably to find someone else.

“What’s a YEM?” the woman asks the nurse.

“Young entrepreneurs,” I answer her.

 

After my x-ray, I see the young man in the street.

He is leaning on a black car,

The bumper is kept on with black masking tape.

He is yelling at someone through a phone.

There is a large sticker on the back window that reads “KORN.”

I wonder what that means.

His yelling continues as I walk away,

The day is sunny now, but it is humid,

Due to all the rain we’ve been having.

The War is a Class War

 

This war is a class war

Because he could not find a girl to love

Or a friend to greet,

Because his father left after one night in his mother,

He took a gun to school

shot at those he thought were happier

those once happy teens

dying in the halls, screaming with terror.

The boy with the gun had nothing to lose

So what could be done to stop him?

 

 

Because he saw his father lose job after job

And turn to drink

Because his father hit him

As he was hit by his father before.

Because the time the police stopped him on his way home

And he was already angry.

He pulled away and struggled and was shot.

No hero, bad enough to knock you over and rob you

But the hungry need a place at the table.

 

 

The prisons stand as warnings

Like bells in the night

Like fires licking out of windows

Each iPhone sold, each interest dollar paid

Tips the scales once more toward

That flood, which cuts down each man and woman

Regardless of wealth or colour.

 

I, who you thought drowned by God in the great flood

Have returned.

There was no room for me at the Caesars table

But there was room for me in his army

And it was there I learned to cut with knife and sword.

In the forest I see the collar on the hind

That reads ‘harm me not, for I am Caesar’s.’

But I, having seen Caesar cut down, cared no more for any life.

 

They put me to the guillotine as well

The blade took off my head, but I lived on.

I saw those who watched the executions

In their turn executed,

Now, in my age, I stand on the street of your city.

I see the gun in the hand of the man

I see the children kept from school

I see the woman with the bloody wound.

This war is not one of religion or race

It is as it has always been what it is now.

A class war.

Where one has too much

And many have too few

No number of guns can keep that door closed.

 

Check out my new novel Anvil Soul

Angie of office 93

She works in office 93,

A third floor view of a parking lot and a tree.

It is nice enough. At least she can see something.

A cold cup of tea upon her desk

A telephone and a computer

Stare her in the eyes

And ask her, ‘what is the point of all this?’

He left her last week, emailed her a note,

‘Get checked,’ it read, ‘I may have given you…’

She shudders.

‘I got it on the night I didn’t come home.’

She thought about the email and sighed.

Now she looked at the cold cup of tea

And dreaded having to get another

She didn’t want to have to talk to anyone.

The street at five was terrible and cold

The clouds hung on the tops of the buildings

And the advertising signs glowed redder than hell.

She let herself into her small cheap room

with no space for a proper kitchen

The bedroom just off the hall.

She puts on some music and cooks some food, enough for two.

At six a knock at the door

And she lets him in; she hasn’t seen him in years.

He was handsome when she knew him in high school

But now he’s turning fat

And his eyes are watery and always red

But she is glad to have company.

They ate in the cold room,

He looked from her hair to her breast.

She watched the clock near the door.

They sat on the bed and turned on the television

And soon he made his move.

She let him go, and he went all the way.

She was awake when he left, but she gave no sign.

He didn’t lock the door.

She turned to the window and looked at the darkness

A glow came from the city ten miles east.

Outside the street lamps glowed,

The man, his clothes wrinkled, his long hair over his ear

Tried to keep out of the puddles.

 

 

A life ended in Bower Road

The room is cold,

Shadows hide like devils.

Ben has died and lies in his lounge chair with the television playing still.

 When he was a child, he spent one summertime building a billy-cart

And racing it down the hill against his brother

Who didn’t fear the slope

But could not build as well.

 Once a man working for his father

Hanged himself in the shed.

Ben found him in the morning.

The man was well dressed, clean,

But his head was crooked at a strange angle

And a queer look of death pulled at his relaxed face.

Ben never forgot.

 The room is quiet in death,

Paid bills sit in a pile,

Unpaid are clipped to the refrigerator door.

 When Bill married

He cried on his wedding day

And turned his face from his bride, who smiled and touched his face

So gently, so kindly, the world took a breath. A kindness between two people

So gently expressed

And Bill never forgot her kind touch.

 In the kitchen, a chocolate Ben had saved sits still on the bench.

He will never enjoy it now.

 

anvilsoul6o1Anvil Soul

Buy Anvil Soul here

 

 

For Stella, who makes the stars fall.

A star fell in the field behind our house

But it fell silently,

Only lighting up the sky for an instant.

I was lucky to have been watching the night

And see the flash come.

I went to see our son

Asleep in his bed

He slept softly, gently, unaware of the universe.

His mother sits reading by a window.

When she was young, she fell in love with a statue of Jesus

In Saint Patricks

She took me to see the church, and I looked at the statue

Jesus stood, thin, melancholy, beautiful.

She told me the story of how she would come and pray

Because she loved his face.

She looks up and smiles at me

And the world spins as if I am drunk in a dream.

I walk out into the night field

And look for the star.

I find a glow in the woods, but as I go there, the light flickers and disappears

Like a fairy, fleeing mortal interference.

I stay a while by the pond, listening to the frogs sing.

The stars, less one, burning and secure in the blue-black sky,

Reflect in the water.

 anvilsoul6o1

Anvil Soul is available now, have a look

Below the city clock

She has a dream in her eyes

And heaven in her lips.

 

Treat her gently

So her love will grow.

 

The window, wide open

Allows the breeze to wander in,

Lifting the white curtains and reminding me of childhood.

She has a pair of jade chopsticks on the dresser.

Her books line the windowsill

And fill her bookcase.

The time has come to go,

Rain falls gently in the street

Turning the world black and shiny.

When it rains

Go to your window

And watch the drops rush down the pane,

They race and join, until they disappear.

Breath on the glass, my love,

And see the world mist.

Your sweet breath, your sweet touch,

Hides the world and I can rest.

Walking home to you

 

Along the streets of the city

I pass the open windows and see the yellow lights

Blazing in the cream rooms.

I can smell dinners cooking,

I see the children running to the front doors of home

after playing, the afternoon sun lighting their games,

but now the long shadows of the buildings create pools of darkness.

I hear music playing as I pass, someone speaking Russian,

A young couple fighting, their shouts rattling and short,

I hear two people making love, somewhere upstairs.

These are the sounds of the city.

Nothing is happening that will make the news,

But these are the things that keep the city rolling.

Roll on great city,

With the dreams of teenagers in their rooms, eyes of their idols on the walls.

The cars are parked

Pray in your Church

Hold your eyes to heaven

And remember your room as a teenager

Where you had dreams

And you played in the street until the sun fell behind the walls.

What happened to the time? It went by like the evening train.

 

 

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Reply to the wind, sweetened by summer nights.

You have loved before

But know this: Those loves are nothing

Compared to the love I hold for you.

Walking through the summer-warm forest

I came upon the moon, sitting on a log, looking over a lake.

A silent lake.

And her beauty shone upon the water and reflecting, lit the world

In a white fairy-glow.

Such joy filled the air; my eyes became teary, and I sighed

But I kept back; for I thought if I were to disturb her,

Break her silent reflection,

She would instantly fly back into the night sky

And I would lose her.

I waited in silence, but in that soft glow and silence, I fell asleep.

The rough hand of the morning sun shook me awake and said

“You have lost that love, that beautiful woman:

The moon,

Has left. You fell asleep and lost your chance.”

I sat in the morning light, and realised

That I had lost her and would never have that chance again.

The sadness tore through me.

But dear, the universe took mercy upon my ragged soul, and,

I found you.

I have a chance to love again.

I will never fall asleep before I tell you how I feel

Because I fear you will leave if I do not make my feelings clear.

I hold you tight as you sleep, I hold you near.