The Lady’s garden.

Through the day garden walked the knight.

He looked at the beds, heavy with flowers

then glancing up as one might at a bird,

his eyes land on her window.


What softer bed behind those curtains,

what pleasures a visitor to her room might see;

might experience.

The mail-heavy arm against the silk curtains, hard flesh on gossamer skin.


He has seen war

and knows what war brings,

the faithful and faithless both scream when pinned down with steel.

Men, both brown and white, crying in terror at the onrushing machine.


He stops a while beside a lily and considers the soft opening of the blue flower

he sees a bee, heavy with baggage climbing down the flower’s throat.

From habit, his hand grips his sword handle.

He imagines a time when this garden might be his as well as hers.

The last summer


It was our last summer together,

But there was no telling that then.

How do you know the last time you will visit somewhere?

How do you know the last day of anything?

The world can change in a minute.

She came into the room wearing only a white t-shirt,

She took it off and placed it on a chair.

Standing in the moonlight,

she let one hand drift through her long hair.

My eyes wandered over her naked body.

Her bare breasts, stomach and below that

The small nest of black hair.

She smiled and looked out the window toward the ocean.

This memory

Echoes in my mind

Like bells, pealing from a great tower.

I took her in my arms

And we danced to the sound of the waves.



The smell of fresh soap

in a crowd set him off.

A man walked passed who smelled like cheap soap

and Johnny lost it, screaming and punching people

until the cops came and arrested him.

I went to see him in the religious place they put him

St. Joseph’s Compassion,

a place for the broken minded.

When I found him, he was lying on a bed chair

on the back lawn in the sun.

I pulled another chair across and sat next to him.

“Hi Johnny, how are you?”  I asked.

He looked at me and smiled. He knew me.

“You won’t believe what goes on here,” he said, a big smile on his lips.


“The nurses come out on the lawn here, naked, completely naked.

You should see the sun shine off their skin,

they lie down, and then the doctors come out

and fuck them right in front of us.

We have to watch.

It all happens after the visitors leave.”

I listened to him, and I couldn’t remember if you should play along with a madman

or let them know you think they are lying. So I said nothing,

but I nodded and looked out across the thick green grass.

“We watch the doctors do this every night.”

“What do the female doctors do?” I asked.

His face became serious and strained

and he rolled onto his side, facing away from me.

It was a beautiful day, so I looked out over the grounds

The grass looked so thick and soft here.

used car

The car sat on the road, two wheels up the gutter,

two down on the road.

It was a big car, sleek, and flash

but it was old and well used.

“It has a lot of kilometres on the clock,” the man said

touching the steering wheel gently.

“But it’s a good car.”

“Why are you selling?” I asked.

“I want something new,” he shrugged.

The car was beautiful, but you could tell it had been used a lot.

The seats were crushed down; it had the smell of history,

and there were scratches and tears over it.

“Just because it has been around, doesn’t change the fact

it’s a good car. It has never given me trouble.”

I liked the car

but the thought of all the people through it

all the problems that might come up

made me worry.

“I once drove this car across the country,” he said.

“I had a girlfriend I used to pick up; she lived out of town.

We did it in this car a number of times,” he pointed to the large back seat.

“The guy before me drove it an hour to work and an hour home

five days a week.

Before that an older guy had it, but even he didn’t buy it new.”

We started it up and he let me drive.

I had trouble changing gears; they seemed loose and hard to find. It wouldn’t drive for me very well

as if it didn’t like me.

“What do you think?” he asked.

“Give me some time to think,” I said.

On the bus home, I kept thinking of it

and looking at all the new cars parked in the houses as we passed.

The heart opens to failure



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.


anvilsoul fb cover


I want to talk about sex today. In my debut novel, The Bomber, my main character Joseph Starling, has a sexual encounter with a woman. I did not add this just because I thought ‘some sex would be good.’ I added it because I want my characters to be fully rounded human beings who experience human emotions and desires.

Serious literary erotica and writing about sex is a very hard thing to do. There is a need to balance the exciting sensual aspect of sex with good readable fiction. Too far one way and it can be sleazy, too far the other and it can become boring.  People like Anais Nin and D. H. Lawrence were masters of the erotic in literature.

Recently a friend of mine caught her daughter sending nude pictures to a boy on the internet and this was of course very distressing to her. She wanted to express to her daughter that doing such a thing is wrong for a girl of her age, and that it is necessary to wait until she was older and in a serious relationship before considering doing that sort of sexual activity. She spoke to me and she said she wanted to sit her daughter down and discuss the issue but that it was a very distressing and difficult thing to discuss. She went on to tell me a week had past so the yelling and crying stage was ending but there still needed some discussion about why the activity was wrong.

She ran past me a few things she wanted to say to her daughter. One of the things she said was, “I want to let her know how valuable she is. I want her to have enough self esteem to value herself so that other people value her as well. She is like a Ferrari I want to tell her, there are a lot of men who would love to take the Ferrari out for a test drive but there are not many who can afford and look after such a sports car. Her body is like a Ferrari and she must not let people take her for test drives, but wait for someone who will appreciate what a wonderful person she is.”

I had no idea what to say in response and I told her so. I do not know if that is a good thing to say to a young teenage girl or if it is not. I do not have children and find it hard to give advice to people about them. What I can say though is I found the simile enlightening and illuminating.

I think it is a great simile to use for serious erotic writing. You have to create characters like any other work of fiction. The reader has to understand them as people before you throw them into sexual situations. If you want to create a serious work that deals with sex, it can’t be a pornography of words. Build the characters as humans, sex is a part of life and a part of literature. Because it is a real issue it must be approached with respect and not as something that may create a cheap thrill or your work of fiction may not be respected in the morning.

Following I have two excerpts from “The Delta of Venus” by Anais Nin. I have no problem with the extremely detailed and explicit sex scenes because to me Nin has such a literary talent and to me, literary talent is everything.

“Her two hands were as active as her mouth. The titillation almost deprived each man of his senses. The elasticity of her hands; the variety of rhythms; the change from a hand grip of the entire penis to the lightest touch of the tip of it, from firm kneading of all the parts to the lightest teasing of the hair around it-all this by an exceptionally beautiful and voluptuous woman while the attention of the public was turned towards the stage. Seeing the penis go into her magnificent mouth between her flashing teeth, while her breasts heaved, gave men a pleasure for which they paid generously”

Here we read an explicit sex scene. Shocking and exciting. Alone its value is low. Alone it wold be nothing more than a thrill but when the piece is built with a writers skill it becomes a story that has great value. Below is the beginning to this erotic story and it creates the life, the value of such writing.

“There was a Hungarian adventurer who had astonishing beauty, infallible charm, grace, the powers of a trained actor, culture, knowledge of many tongues, aristocratic manners. Beneath all this was a genius for intrigue, for slipping out of difficulties, for moving smoothly in and out of countries. He traveled in grandiose style, with fifteen trunks of the finest clothes, with two great Danes. His air of authority had earned him the nickname the Baron. The Baron was seen in the most luxurious hotels, at watering places and horse races, on world tours, excursions to Egypt, trips through the desert, into Africa. Everywhere he became the center of attraction for women. Like the most versatile of actors, he passed from one role to another to please the taste of each of them. He was the most elegant dancer, the most vivacious dinner partner, the most decadent of entertainers in tête-à-têtes; he could sail a boat, ride, drive. He knew each city as though he had lived there all his life. He knew everyone in society. He was indispensable. When he needed money he married a rich woman, plundered her and left for another country. Most of the time the women did not rebel or complain to the police. The few weeks or months they had enjoyed him as a husband left a sensation that was stronger than the shock of losing their money. For a moment they had known what it was to live with strong wings, to fly above the heads of mediocrity.”


How to describe a beautiful woman in your writing

One thing I struggle with and devote an inordinate amount of time to, is the description of beautiful woman in my fiction. How do I convey to my readers that one of my characters is in love?

For thousands of years writers have struggled with love and romance in writing. It is one of the most visited themes. Love interests are exciting and necessary. Necessary because it is real. People fall in love, falling in love is a major event in any persons life.

Helen of Troy is one of the most beautiful women in literature. She was described in the 1600’s by Christopher Marlowe:

“Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium”

This is a powerful way to describe a persons beauty without actually describing them. Could a woman be so beautiful that the Navy is launched and a city destroyed?

J D Salinger described a woman in the following way:

“She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”

So it is not necessary to gush over someones nose or eyes or to describe their face at all.

“He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.”

― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

To achieve an effect in literature it is necessary only to create a feeling in the reader. You do not have to hammer or repeat each point. You are not drilling out a cavity you are planting a seed. All these descriptions are powerful and give the readers hints so they create the appropriate images,

I will leave with W B Yeats. He is hoping his daughter will grow up to be a wonderful person. He does so with precision and lyrical majesty:

May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.

– A prayer for my daughter