Cliffs I Have Known

Unstable Cliffs, the sign reads. Stay Clear.

And I think of the unstable Cliffs I have known:

The deputy that has a meltdown whenever I call in sick:

my cousin’s boyfriend who punches holes in the wall

when he is denied,

and the glue-sniffing Cliff I taught in Year 11 who fell asleep

on the tracks coming home from a party and was run over by a train.

They should have come with warnings too. 

Recent Sighting

Pounding the pavements of Portland,

grim, gaunt , hunch-backed,

Matthew,

no singing, cheery, Disney

hunchback of Notre Dame

but a

bandy-legged, bushy eyebrowed,

Quasimodo, orange vis jacket

looks like an angry bee.

Prickly

I wasn’t going to wear it. ‘A hoodie is not a cardigan’, I said.

‘Anything that does up at the front is a cardigan’, he insisted.

‘A flack jacket does up at the front; is that a cardigan?’ I said.





We were off and running like the cabbie who couldn’t get us

to the venue fast enough. And then he started on my silver hammer,

why I used the word ‘silver’ when the important word was ‘hammer’.





I could have hit him over the head. And then he said I was embellishing

the tale. ‘I’m a writer’ I pronounced from the saddle of my high horse.

‘It’s the writer’s prerogative to embellish,’





‘You call yourself a writer,’ he said. ‘Your poetry doesn’t even rhyme.’

Now I admit calling him a ‘Neanderthal’ didn’t help matters.

But it’s not just writers who are prickly.

Rumble: Flash Fiction

We were holed up under the same roof, two people who couldn’t stand each other. And we had the whole night to spend in the same one bedroom flat. I took the lounge, she took the bed; we didn’t even say goodnight. We were murderous to each other. I could feel the old Minotaur in the labyrinth of my brain, gearing up for a rumble. But there could have been blood. Pray, I say, pray, don’t let her taunt me. I was scared of myself more than her. The Minotaur was raging. Just then the door opened

Solitary Confinement

skinx

Do you know, he said,  no one’s knocked on my door

for half a year since I moved in?

The other day I said hello to a neighbour

While putting out the bins — he jumped back

As if affronted.

And once I had to speak to Hagrid next door

about his musical tastes

I know ‘metal’ is supposed to be loud, but hey!

Well, I haven’t heard from him since.

There’s a dog that barks from time to time

whenever I hang out the washing

but I never see the owner.

We’re hermits here, he said.

I do see cars come and go and hear bins go out

So I know people are there. You just never see them,

that’s all.

The Woman in the Glove Box

20190812_104843

It is time to bring out the woman in the glove box again.

There are no gloves in there.

But there is Olive,

Quirky , off-kilter as this blog which is perhaps why I like her.

I like her feistiness too,

How she tells her husband,

“Stop shouting! Do you think that makes you a man?”

“All men need to be told this,” my partner tells me

Who likes Olive too.

She is getting the new book, the sequel, when it comes out.

But she is not like Olive.

Olive has a big personality and is not backward in coming forward,

As my mother used to say.

She is curious but curiously vulnerable.

She is the engine of the novel, the fuel, the vehicle

That takes you there.

She waits in the glove box like a car in a garage.

 

* have you a favourite fictional character?

* what do you admire in them?

Red Rubber Ball

index

He came bouncing into the world like a red rubber ball. Over time he lost his redness but never his bounce. He knocked over problems as if they were pins in a bowling alley. Hurts and insults found no purchase on him for though he was hard and rangy, his soul was round and smooth. He took the global view on things and realized that the earth had lost its bounce and needed nurturing too.

Do You Know What Your Rooster is Up To?

1280px-Royal-_A_Rhode_Island_Red_Rooster

As she lay in the hospice ,

cranked up by morphine,

she thought of Mr. Barnes

That little red rooster from her childhood days

In Battlelake, Minnesota.

That Barnes — he was something,

She said

Puffed out his chest and walked through life:

“I want the biggest and the best and the most of whatever

You’ve got”

He had attitude.

He had a harem.

One day when she was home from school with chickenpox

She watched Mr. Barnes

Fornicate with his hens forty six times and that was when

She was awake.

He was the sheik of Battlelake

Even strutting off to other farms.

That Mr. Barnes!

He thought the whole world belonged to him and beyond that —

The sun, the stars, the Milky Way — all of it

& as she lay dying

She hoped to meet him on the other side.

 

do you have a hero? what qualities do you admire in that person?

do you have an animal you admire, either in literature or real life?