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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.

Tony Soprano And A Case of Pie And Mash

He loped around Bethnal Green,
the fragrance of Scorsese
still clinging to his overcoat
a fading comfort
like Frank Sinatra.

The gangsters here had no style,
just ill fitting Nike,
and bad teeth.

They did not know good shoes,
how to slice garlic,
or brew coffee.

Why was he here
on this godless street
in the pouring rain?

What had that damm lady
made him do
after only a week
in New Jersey?

She had eyes
this limey

and the promise of
morning tea in china cups,
afternoon walks along the Thames
and nights wrapped in
velvet thighs.

Her friends call him a geezer.

Time to make that call..

The Girl With No Name

Wish you’d been with me at the open window,
and that you hadn’t gone astray. We’d have
smoked rocks of crack at the open window,
waiting for the moon to come out to pray.

We could have spied on the neighbours from
the open window. Thrown weighted red gas bills
on passing cars. The open window a stereo
of traffic, off to Leeds, or maybe to Mars.

We would have kissed hard at the open
window, soothed the scorch marks fried to our
chins. We’d be framed in sepia at the open
window, planning a life in the rubbish bins.

We could have seen the dawn fly by the open
window, writhed on a mattress for the very
first time. Scraped the pipe at the open window,
confess our sins, our heinous crimes.

But you fell from your own open window,
whilst I fell into recovery. These days I
close the curtains of addiction. The
open window to the drudgery.

For a Few Dollars More

Just off Union Square
I eat the finest pizza served
for a few dollars on a paper plate.

The remainder of the night is spent
listening to overwrought poets.
Even so, I cannot shake the taste of
‘Joe’s Super Slice’, its warmth
on my tongue, the ripened peppers

and undercooked dough. Strolling back
to the hotel, I demand more, and I return,
but the sauce is not as sweet as it was before.
I’m disappointed that this evening has
faded to such a sad denouement.

Then, I remind myself firmly, yet fairly,
that despite such awful poetry, this is
perhaps, the second greatest meal of my life.

Peggy Seeger

At Kala Sangam in Bradford
late Sunday afternoon, one singer
sits on a hard chair waiting for the other
to take the stage, tune her guitar to
the required key before saying, “Hello
Ladies and Gentlemen.” There are
moments, in a life, that linger.

These two beloved women
stand on linoleum and talk
only briefly, about the songs maybe,
how they endure against the grain
of progress, how they stand up and fight
against the worst, the forever fascists,
time after time.

The folk singer’s eyes, alive with your
knowledge, as if you’d ridden trains together,
danced every reel, drank black coffee
in Buffalo, Oklahoma City, Oxford.
If you could, you’d link arms, climb
up the hill, to the Shish Mahal, break
the family bread.

As the room empties, the chairs scraped
away, there are goodbyes, the gentle touching
of soft hands. You turn and walk across
the room, smiling a secret never known.
At this exact moment, I knew it wasn’t the first
time I’d seen your face, but understanding
its beauty like never before.