#goodwriter

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

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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.

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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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

 

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

These are the poets

Poems are born from wild times,

From struggle, love and anger,

from men with soft hearts and hard fists,

from women whose smiles are like gold,

whose dreams are larger than the moon

And harder to reach.

Poems are not soft or weak,

They die if given 9 – 5 jobs

And secure homes with understanding friends.

Poems live at 2 am, drinking liquor and waking up in strange rooms with strange people

They live on new cities, tough attitudes,

Unplanned journeys, tall beautiful women on short dark streets

And fist fights with broken glass in their mouths.

Poems don’t live with old men who never danced in the fire

They don’t share a bed with someone who has never been broken

Poems see the devil and laugh.

Silas the famous poet, leaped from the ship at Troy

and dug his feet into the sand, his eyes surveyed the lines of men

heavy with shields and crazed with spear.

The sound of armed men crashing, ringing like thunder

Dying with choking screams and soaking the ground with their blood.

Silas wrote his best poems here.

Twenty-five centuries passing like shadows

Silas the poet still lives, standing on the city bridge, looking out into the lights

Seeing lovers walk hand in hand, deciding if he should jump or not.

Seeing the angry dying with a choking scream

On busy streets, in the arms of strangers,

The lonely driven insane by loneliness.

Pick up a pen and write of love that was never found

Of kindness that was never received

Poems are the children of the angry and mad, the ones not chosen,

Those who tried to hold another and were left

To lie awake at midnight cursing at the moon.

These are the poets.

 

To a good home

The sun coming down

over the crossroads

throws a golden light across the dust.

The wooden fences create shadow patterns of crosshatch.

I left town before light and now as the cool air melts away

and I notice the mud on my boots

my mind drifts back to you.

I picture you still in bed,

not waking at this hour, not yet,

missing the sunrise but smiling softly in your dreams.

I will never forget how we would talk in the mornings,

You would tell me your dreams and you’d laugh.

But I’ve had to leave, and when you hold someone else

and tell them your dreams

make sure they listen

and treat you softly

May kindness rain on you in torrents.