Skip to content

Empire

It was the London summer that stretched to the end of September. In our heat we watched the wretched flies dancing above us and listened to Dusty relentlessly singing from Memphis on your neighbours’ CD player.

Occasionally, when the breeze blew in our direction, there would be the sound of the crowd cheering from the Kennington Oval as a wicket was taken, or a six hit into the stands. Cricket, an English game gifted to an Empire. A game never taken back if recent results were anything to go by.

On the last afternoon we were naked on the bed. Breathless, weakened and fluid. We both wanted a cigarette, but movement ached us.

“It’s time you went soldier boy. Time for war.”
“I know. I’m frightened.”
“Don’t be. You’ll be back.”

Later, in the evening, the storm came, washing away the season. Radios were switched on, anxious arms were folded, hearts were broken.

And the flies had gone.

Advertisements

FlashNano Day 3: The Levee

On that sheer, blue, New Orleans morning. I imagined the black wind, the dirty, needle rain that tore this city to bedlam.

As my watch ticked ten o’clock, I wondered through the Lower Ninth Ward, searching for her stricken body under a sunken church.

But the sweet whisper in the trees and the soft, brown, Mississippi River rendered my memory of Katrina to a girl I had met on the internet, flirted with from my armchair.

You see, there are those who were living down here, still clinging to olive branches over there. Whilst a second line of ghosts, trombone, alone in her mud.

FlashNano Day 2: To the Moskva River

People won’t die, but it’s going to be bad. The press and Vlad will humiliate her and Donald.

It was only a little peepee though, just a dribble, but enough to shade the thighs of her white trousers’ lemon yellow. She liked Vladimir, the way he could crack a walnut in his hand, tell a joke. Sexy man. There would be no more flirting after this fiasco.

Melania punched numbers into her phone knowing it would be useless. This was Moscow, the Kremlin, nothing works here. Slumped on the toilet seat she giggled at her predicament. “I’ve come a long way in my life and this will pass.” Her eyes closed, her phone vibrated.

“Melania. It is Virginia. Are you overburdened with it all?”

“Virginia? Virginia who? How did you get my number?”

“Woolf. Judy Garland called and said you have had a discourse with your undergarments.”

“Judy! The bitch. Yes, I have. My life is over!”

“So, it may seem. But remember, this is only fleeting. There is a resolution to dominance. Do as I suggest if you please.”

“Ok.”

“It will disrupt only them. It will be futile in the long run of course, all things are. I want you to walk away from there. It will be cold outside but keep walking on until you come to an end. Do you understand me, Melainia?”

There were noises in the corridor outside. They were looking for her.

“Yes Virginia. They are nothing but men with walnuts.”

“Go now!”

FlashNano Day 1: And You Can Win a Goldfish

“And she never came down.”

It began well, the day, which surprised him. He expected the usual Saturday morning grief. The snipe of the ex-wife to his part time fatherhood. But she was smiling as she handed little Hannah over at the front door. Perhaps it was the sunshine or maybe the promise of six hours freedom. Either way, it was a rare relief to him, the non-existence of the weekly pain, blame and regret.

On the journey to the coast Hannah showed him things from her jacket pockets. A plastic spider, a chewed pencil and a love letter from a boy in her class who she thought was a right ‘minger’. They both laughed, sang along to ‘This is America’ by Childish Gambino. They were so happy, and both wished that it could be like this all the time.

They walked along the promenade holding hands talking about grandma and how she always made a fuss of the things that weren’t important: a scarf until April, a thank you phone call for birthday presents, clean underwear. The sun high, the sea green and the waves as “big as giraffes Daddy!”

They got their tokens and made plans. There was going to be candy floss, the dodgems, the Waltzer and if lucky a prize in the ‘And You Can Win a Goldfish’ arcade. But first, as ever. The Helter Skelter. Hannah made a fuss of getting the right coconut mat, she waved at him, went inside and climbed the stairs.

Cigarettes

VG.jpg

We waited for details
throughout the night.
We ate toast and jam,
sipped instant coffee.
Phones ran out of credit.
Those moments defined us.

Danny never listened to me.
The worst of all his moves.
A man proficient in Geography
trusted with the treasure.
Your money, your girl, your car.
“We’ll only be an hour,” she said.

I heard it on the news.
A house burnt down in Luton.
They said it was her birthday,
they’d drunk too much cider.
Danny called me late from Turin,
first time we’d spoken in years.

On A Beeston Morning

One magpie,
Beeston’s little park
just outside work.

I remember the rhyme
and I’ll take its sorrow
with a cigarette.

The memory
of this morning’s
barely dressed little girl.

Leading the rattled man
to a derelict Holbeck pub.
Its heroin loneliness.

I’ve slept in these rooms.
Their smoke, their foil.
Their needle numbs.

Two magpies now.
A sun breaking through.
I’ve known joy too.

Blackbirds

It will get better, some say.
It was one of those bird

days, when they all came
to lodge, outstayed their

welcome, hopped into every room,
fluttered my thoughts, action,

even my food. At bedtime, music
played from the radio. Telling

the things I did to earn hatred,
from the four and the twenty more.