amwriting

run

They put the boot in when you are down

They know just where to kick

And it hurts so much more.

Give me a truck on a busy city street.

It’d be so quick

A couple of tons at speed to smash me into darkness.

It’s the slow death

Of a thousand pointless conversations

Of being stuck somewhere you don’t want to be,

Of being in a job for thirty years

And waking up too late to find

The hundred thousand cuts have finally led to your death

That is most painful.

Throw open the window

Climb out and run.

They might say you’re strange

But they didn’t love you to start with.

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.

 

In New York City

In New York City

She stands on the corner, in her raincoat,

Its pattern reflects in the street light and glistens with raindrops.

Her hair is pushed behind her ears

And she tilts her head down toward the street a little.

There is a golden puddle in the mountains, the water in that puddle

Is fresh and pure

There is a puddle on the street turning brown

And it is kicked by feet moving along in the crowd.

She stood on that mountain, in green summer grass

And I remember how she smiled as the sun sat upon the clouds and filled the valley with gold.

The sun has set on the street now

And my little room above the bodega is emptied of light.

Organ music plays down the hall

Someone is crying in a room nearby.

As I look out the window, the rain falls heavier still

And that woman moves slightly. In the electric light of the street.

She looks up; the light catches her eyes

I see that it is a stranger.

That woman, who spent that summer on the mountain with me six months ago,

I see her in bars, on buses, in theatres all the time,

 even though she is not

In New York City.

anvilsoul fb cover

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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Death and Roses

“We’re all going to die,” she said softly.

“It all ends so soon, just like our days off from work,

Sunday never lasts long enough.”

She would often say things like this and become sad.

“We’re all going to die, and there’s nothing we can do,

No matter how much fun we have, it all ends and ends terribly.”

I would never say anything to her when she became like this,

It was best to let her become quiet and sit in the dark

Like someone mourning every loss, and only the shadows give comfort-

But that comfort is nothing at all. Like eating ice for hunger.

Her friends were there once when she said this and they became angry.

“Why do you have to say that?” they wailed,

“We know we are going to die, what good does talking about it do?

Life isn’t just sadness; you’ll never be happy when you get like this.”

I watched her face become darker still as they responded.

When they left, she turned to me “They don’t really understand

How things change.” I listened to her quietly again, as I always did,

Like someone listens to the sea.

“They don’t think about things properly.

You aren’t you, what you were at six is not you at thirty,

That six-year-old is dead.”
“But it’s still you,” I answered.

She shook her head, “No, that is gone.”

I did not see her friends again for a long time,

We are all on the same path,

But for her to be reminded of death

Was to ensure she made special effort

To look at things carefully and truly love.

 

That girl

As the leaves turned yellow and Autumn tread among the trees

We drove black roads to see the colours of life.

The girl with me

Urged me to run down animals we saw in our way.

I laughed thinking it was a joke

But she was serious

No good came of that drive.

Later, standing alone at the bar, deep in the heart of the city

In came loud mouth Joe, laughing and wearing a coat he stole from the second-hand store.

He came up beside me, holding a letter like a fox might hold an egg.

He sits down on a stool, hard,

But lays the letter down soft

And points at it, inviting me to read.

It’s from a lawyer

Joe leans across and runs a dirty finger over a line

“You do not owe her any money.”

I know what it’s about, the eighteen-year-old girl he made pregnant

The girl I knew well.

“What’s this about?” I ask him

“I don’t owe her any money?” he yells

Slapping the paper, forgetting himself.

“It’s your baby; you must owe her something.”

“Can’t you see what is written in the letter? I don’t owe her.”

I stopped speaking to him, and watched him drink.

A young girl came across and sat next to him.

“Buy you a drink?” he asks.

She laughs, leaning across, her hand brushing down his leg.

He takes the letter and shoves it into his pocket.

Into the street, I step down out of the hot bar

Steam rises out of a grate; water shines like oil in the gutter.

I walk home in the dark, under the huge concrete overpass I stop and look one way

Along the dark road and then the other, toward a lighted pedestrian underpass

And I wonder what became of her,

What becomes of anyone?

 

anvilsoul1a

 

A day outside

Out my office window,

I watch the ducks rummage in the grass

The topknot pigeons chase each other

Lusty with desire,

 and the blackbirds surround and tease the plover.

The blackbirds seem to laugh as they dance about.

Red-headed green parrots step out of a low bush

And stagger as if slightly drunk and hold seeds to their mouths

With their clawed feet.

No blackbird ever teases a parrot.

Once I saw a hawk

Swoop down and rise like a god

To hover, its shadow passing coldly across the green lawn.

All the other birds disappeared, they did not fly away,

They melted away.

They fear the hawk.

I sit in my office and realise they are out in the sun and air

And I am in here.

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

Beautiful and Smart

She was a city lawyer,

Beautiful and smart, she was all that the city holds up as prime.

She killed herself.

Her body was found in the trees behind her house, a thick group of trees

Where people go to sniff paint and dump rubbish.

Her body was found by a man involved in the search,

She was in the tree where she took an overdose of some drug.

She was found folded over a branch, her beautiful long blonde hair hanging down like gold

But her skin was turning purple.

They suggested she killed herself

Because some foolish man had ended a relationship with her,

And she was so upset she could see no over way.

But she was so beautiful

And smart.

Perhaps things were too much for her

Perhaps the pressure was too much

And the bolts came out, letting the cold water flood in. I think she was tired,

And so she ended it all.

I knew a girl once who said

You shouldn’t write about beautiful girls

Because it’s so clichéd; but I’ll write about beautiful girls all I want.

She was beautiful and smart

And she killed herself.

anvilsoul6o1 

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.