Print: Wednesday’s Workshop


Print, Printing, and Prints
Wednesday Workshop

Tuesday evening’s Gents Night Out started with John and I, on our own, and after our usual jovial salutations, we talked about putting things into print.


John visited me last week and guided me through the placing of Monkey Temple on CreateSpace at Amazon. Then, when it was up, he talked me through the placing of the same text on Kindle. Now both are available online. He has read Monkey Temple and was kind enough to give it an online review (and a 5 star rating). He tells me it is his favorite among my books. Julie Gordon, another good friend from an online writing course we shared, has also read Monkey Temple, and she gave it another 5 star review, so it is doing well. Only one poem from Monkey Temple has appeared on this blog, Monkey’s FAQs. With it already in print, I may add an occasional poem to the blog, but I will not run through the whole text.

Though Lovers Be lost is also available on Amazon. John’s teaching was good, as I told him in our conversation, and I put TLBL up on my own. However, it is not yet available on Kindle, but it will be available soon. Now, Though Lovers Be Lost has appeared here on the blog in toto, so, if you, dear reader, have followed the blog and would like to contribute a review online … well, I would be very grateful.


I am just tidying up The Empress of Island and that manuscript, together with the flash fiction of Bistro, should go up on Amazon very soon. Two separate books, I should hasten to add. Again, with the amount of text from both that I have posted on this blog, if you have followed them, then please consider posting a review.

John himself is preparing yet another novel for publishing. We discussed the timeline and the structure of this novel, his twentieth, or twenty-first. He is trying to schedule gaps in the text of five years and ten years and is working out a plan to have all the characters age over those time spaces, not an easy task, as you can imagine, but then, John is a very good novelist. He gave me a signed copy of his novel, The Caroline, available online at Ex Libris, and Clare and I will be reading that, one after the other, if not together. You can find John on Amazon at John K. Sutherland, incidentally. You can find me most easily under my name and the book title: Roger Moore: Monkey Temple … that gets me every time. If you just type in my name, there is more 007 material than even James Bond and 100 secretaries could account for, all paid On Her Majesty’s Most Secret Service.


 A knock at the window of The Second Cup, right behind me: John points over my shoulder, it is Kevin, come late, with the most attractive … now, you really don’t know what I am going to say next, although you think you do, … nine week old Habanese puppy in his arms. Of course, she can’t come in, so we go out to greet her. What a darling … I refused to touch her. Puppies are catching and I don’t want to catch one: too much bending and house training at my advanced and creaky age. If I can’t tie up my shoelaces, I can’t clean up after a poo-pee — that’s the French for a puppy, la poupée, oh no, my mistake, a poupée is a little doll — just what Kevin’s puppy is.

Kevin left the dog in the car — in the shade, windows down to give air circulation, cool evening — John and I lectured him — he didn’t need the lecture –. and we discussed Kevin’s week. Things are going well and he is juggling work, writing — he is finishing his first manuscript and has a contract — wow! — I look forward to giving news of the publication of his book on a future Wednesday Workshop — and he’s also working on a new and very secret PROJECT — about which we can say nothing except ssssh!


Kevin didn’t want to leave the poo-pee in the car for too long, especially since she was fond of climbing her way into the driving seat — remember Clyde? — oh no, not another Clyde! — and so we all soon made footprints. Alas, Chuck’s were covered with dust and sand and we didn’t see him this week. He is busy with a building project and also with his fourth novel — The Underwater Road — for which he, too, has a contract. His other novels are doing well. I have only read Steal It All … but I must say that Chuck Bowie is a master of mystery and intrigue, as I said on my online review.

So, this Wednesday’s Workshop is a potpourri: lots of announcements, friendships, changes in momentum, new editions, and new additions, and not so much literary criticism and theoretical musings. Ah well, life’s often like that.

See you all next Wednesday!

A question and an answer

Question: I am curious if you’ve ever had any of your short stories/poetry published in any lit. mag? I’m wondering because I am travelling down that publishing avenue and looking for advice when pitching to literary magazines. Although the general consensus seems to be that it’s a wholly tough market to get into!
Tales from the Trunk

Answer: I have published about 135 poems in literary magazines, mainly in Canada. This happened mainly in the ’80’s and ’90’s when the market was probably a little bit easier to break into. I have also published 14 or 15 short stories (and won some awards and honorable mentions, same with poetry, too, incidentally).  It seems to me that there are two distinct ways to go: (1) Submit, submit, submit: paper your walls with reject slips, keep going, keep improving, no matter what, don’t give up, ever. You must be stubborn and believe that your work is worth continuing with and BETTER than what those who are rejecting you think it is. Mind you: listen to them, keep reading, check your markets, revise your work in accordance to what editors think (if they make suggestions), and, above all, be as stubborn as a mule or worse. I did that for years and then I started to take route #2: (2) Go Indie and publish your own work. With route #1 behind me, I knew who I was and what I was writing. If other people didn’t like it, that was their problem. Sure: I am a Welshman, writing in English, in Canada, about Spain, Mexico, and Wales … duh … so, as they keep telling me, it’s just not marketable. Why not write about the Maple Trees turning red and Maple syrup … duh … going Indie led me into two further directions. (A) I published my own collections, paid for them myself and, in a fit of pique, gave them away free to my friends, “because my poetry is too precious to sell for money”! NB I had a full time job and could afford to do this. (B) I am now publishing via CreateSpace ( This is for free and easy to do. There are other options out there. Some ask you for cash up front …. I wouldn’t pay for their services. Others are free and excellent. I also recommend Smashwords or is it Wordsmash? Anyway, it’s also free and you can control where your books go and what they do. I chose Amazon because I had a persuasive friend who talked me through the process. If you have someone who can talk you through the process, any process, of publishing online, that helps. If you have a writing group THAT IS HONEST WITH YOUR WORK — that is essential. You must have some reliable readers who can step up and say: “No, that is not up to your usual standard” or “No, you can do better than this.”Good luck and best wishes, and yes, if I can answer your questions and help, I most certainly will.

Empress: A Survivor Contemplates

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A Survivor Contemplates
the Crucifix on the Point
Ste. Luce-sur-mer

Christ of the Rocks
hanging here on the point
from the crucifix
with your open eyes:

do you see, out at sea,
where gray waves cover
the graveyard of the Empress,
at rest, her passengers,
caressed beneath shallow waters.

They have gone on before me,
those friends I numbered,
their piercing eyes
lie covered now.

Splayed toes:
last night’s footprints
erased by wind-blown
dust and sand.

 Dry crunch of skull and skeleton
crushed underfoot by sea boots
ascending, descending
the beach’s gentle slope.

these lands around me:
emitte lucem tuam /
send forth Thy light!

these mountains that surround me:
ipsa me deduxerunt /
such things have led me on.

these mysteries that confound me:
in montem sanctum tuum /
unto Thy holy hill …
in nomine Patris /
… in the name of the Father.

 I wander from grave to grave,
reading the headstones:
quare me repulisti? /
why hast Thou cast me off?

Coarse grass weaves bindweed
with columbines combining.

Incessant mourning of glove grey
morning doves,
drawing tears from dawn’s face:
quare tristis incedo? /
why do I go sorrowful?

 Verdant stems,
unsophisticated flowers,
weeds dark between stark
granite stones.

Whose names?
My long lost brothers’ names,
Eric, Phillip, Peter,
not yet carved in stone:

 non in tabernacula tua /
not yet in Thy tabernacle.

 This churchyard,
will it always be
as steady as a headland
even in a storm?

 Here, the terrestrial
centre is stable:
quare tristis es, anima mea? /
why art thou sad, oh my soul?

 The ark on the waters
moves from side to side,
lulled by the sea waves,
up and down.

 On the altar,
a gilded chalice,far from the far flung
malice of the sea:
quare conturbas me? /
why dost thou disquiet me?

Empress: Graveyard on the Point

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Graveyard on the Point:
A Survivor Remembers his Catechism
Ste. Luce-sur-mer

The survivor at the cross roads,
wreathed in his personal storm:

et discerne causam meam /
… and distinguish my cause

de gente non sancta… /
from the unholy nation.

Rising waves:
bells on buoys
peal out sea warnings.

Tonight there is a grief across the grève.

Sa griffe / his claw,
ma griffe / my claw
homophonic puns

scratching at reality’s surface,
hiding inner meanings,
leaving the depths unplumbed.

Did he really paint
the reality of the shipwreck,
this Magritte?

 Cette pipe, qui n’est pas une pipe! /
This pipe which isn’t a pipe!

Mi grito que no es un grito! /
My cry which isn’t a cry!

Cette vie qui n’est plus une vie!
This life which is no longer a life!

This littoral bay
no longer a literal bay.

ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me /
from the unjust and deceitful man deliver me.

Over bird frosted rocks,
a ring billed gull cries out whose name
on its early journey to greet pale stars?

 On the beach at the cross’s foot,
a grey robed pilgrim

stands in dusk’s failing light.

et introibo ad altare Dei:
ad Deum, qui laetificat juventutem meam

and I will go unto the altar of God:
to God, who giveth joy to my youth.

Mouettes, göelands muets:
sea gulls, silent sea gulls:
white arrows shot over sea wet sand.

He stands solemn before this graven stone
waiting to be blessed:

 sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper /
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be …

The eider duck sigh for their siblings,
tossed from the crèche and lost
in the long low swirl of the sea.

Empress: A Survivor Lights a Candle

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A Survivor Lights a Candle
During the Latin Mass for the Dead
Before the Main Altar
at the Sanctuaire Sainte-Anne

I am afraid of fire:

 in principio erat verbum /
in the beginning was the word.

 I am afraid of the loud voice of the match
scratching its sudden flare,

narrowing my pupils,
enlarging the whites of my eyes:

 et lux in tenebris lucet /
and light shines in darkness.

Booming and blooming,
igniting the soul’s dark night.

Voice of fire:

et Deus erat verbum /
and the Word was God.

 Flourishing to nourishment,
flames whispering on the flood:

omnia per ipsum facta sunt /
all things were made by Him.

Wool and water,
this sodden safety blanket;
and what of the cold plush

of the pliant teddy bear,
the staring eyes of the doll:

et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt /
and the darkness comprehended it not.

The lashes of their eyes
bound together with salt water,

they were doused in a silken mist:

hic venit in testimonium /
this served as a witness.

 Still the patterns pierce my sleep,
hauling me from my opaque dreams,

holding my wrists in this sailor’s double clasp:

 non erat ille lux /
he was not the light.

Oh! Curse these dumb waters rising!

“Not a hair on your head
shall be harmed!” he said,
hauling my sister up by her hair

only to find her staring eyes
belonging to the already dead:

et mundus eam non cognovit /
and the world knew her not.

Night waters rising.

The moon raising
its pale thin lantern glow:

et vidimus gloriam ejus /
and we saw His glory

 shining forth
upon the waters’
mirrored face.

Dark Night of the Empress

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Dark Night of the Empress

 Her cooled lights drowning now,
fires subsiding, dying under rising waters.

Grit and river-bottom clog the dream:
eyes and mouths wide open, faces blurred.

 Seaweed: mermaid’s hair
drifting slowly before the eyes;

the cold tide sucking in at ankle and heel,
pulling them down.

 Celluloid fictions,
black and white films,
their mouths stretched in a silent scream.

What became of the photographers,
of the men and women who stood their ground
clicking their cameras in unison
as the ship went down?

The air breaks apart:
delirious with dots and devious dashes.

 The lighthouse light goes round and round.

It points a finger of silence at the collier
looming silent through the mist.

What price the black pearl in the oyster?

 What price the nightmare,
cleanly wrapped in transparent plastic,
desperate fingers tearing the see-through
fabric from the face?

 Salt water dashed on mouth and lips,
this dream:
sharp bows, wet rocks, and a tugging tide.

Toys and boys and dolls and girls
and men and women,
their bodies disgorged untidily,
their useless limbs
flopping at the sea’s foamed edge.

 Last night,
mist shredded itself on the sea-cradled headland.

This morning, the spring tide is a gentle hand
erasing life’s autographs from the witnessing sand.

Silence after the storm:

a pocket full of posies
gathered into a dreamless sleep

they have all fallen down ….

Empress of Ireland

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Photo: Museum and Monument to the Empress of Ireland, Pointe-au Père, PQ.

M Press of Ire

 Background and Dedication

The poems that have come together to form the M Press of Ire were begun in Ste. Luce-sur-mer, Quebec, in May 2002.

It was off shore from Ste. Luce, in the early hours of the morning of the 29th of May, 1914, that the Empress of Ireland collided with a Norwegian collier whose bows had been strengthened for ice-breaking. There were approximately 15 minutes between the moment of impact (1:55 am) and the moment the ship caught on fire and sank (2:10 am). Although the disaster has received little international attention, more passengers were lost in this incident (840) than in the loss of the Titanic (832) or of the Lusitania (791).

I read these poems, for the first time, at the University of St. Thomas at Houston, Texas. The Virginia Tech shootings took place on Monday, 16 April, 2007, and I read these poems on Wednesday, 18, April, 2007, while memorial services were taking place on university campuses all over North America. I dedicated that reading to the victims and survivors of the shootings. I now re-dedicate these words to all those who have been touched by sudden loss, shock, and / or grief, and especially to those who have suffered loss under extraordinary circumstances.


I first heard those voices in the cries of the sea birds on the beach at Ste. Luce.

Borne on the wind, over the sigh of the waves, they seemed high-pitched, like the voices of children, or of men and women in distress. These were lost voices, the cries of people alone and frightened by the dark. I heard them calling to me.

That night, there were knocks at my cabin door and finger nails scratched at my window. Tiny sounds, almost beyond the range of human hearing: the snuffling of puppies when they turn over in their sleep and tug at each other, whimpering in their dreams.

“Who’s there?”

I started from my sleep. But there was only the wind and the waves as the tide’s footsteps climbed a moonbeam path to ascend the beach. When I walked on the sand next day, at low tide, there was a whispering behind my back. Little voices crying to be set free.

“Who’s there?”

A lone gull flew past my head and battered itself against the wind’s cage with outraged sturdy wings. That night, the mist descended. The church stepped in and out of its darkness and shadows gathered, persistent, at my door.

I walked out into the night and I saw a lone heron mobbed by gulls. It was as if an adult, surrounded by clamoring children, was standing guard over the beach. Then I saw the shadows of little children searching for their parents, the shapes of mothers and fathers looking for their off-spring, lost in the tide mark, among the seaweed and the grains of sand.

Beyond them, on the headland, the church stood tall above the shadows. I saw family survivors, their lips moving in supplication, kneeling before the granite cross that stands above the sea. As I approached, they turned to me, opened their mouths, mouthed silent words, then disappeared.

When I went back to bed, faces and voices visited me in my dreams. When I got up next morning, they came to me in the speech of birds hidden in the foliage, in the words dropped by the osprey’s wing, in the click of the crab’s claw as he dug himself deeper into the sand.

“Release us! Speak for us! Set us free!”

The words of the Empress of Ireland are not my words. They could never be my words. Foundered words, they are, rescued from the beach, and dragged from the high tide mark filled with its sea weed, carapace, charred wood, old rusted iron, and bright bone of long dead creatures polished by the relentless action of wind, sea, and sand.

Monkey FAQs


I have a busy day today, so a brief post: two poems. The first, Monkey FAQs, comes from Monkey Temple, a book of poems now (or soon to be) available at Amazon. I am also working on preparing the text of Though Lovers Be Lost for publishing, again at Amazon. My thanks go out to all who commented on these poems and thus assisted me in revising them for publication. So, a busy day.

Monkey FAQs
(with apologies to all those who draw them up
at their work place, knowing they will never be read)

“What news from the ark?”

“Only the dark waves pounding the hull, the wet winds blowing.”

“Who placed the whale ribs on this mountain
and called them a cathedral?”

“Sunshine blossoms through hollow vaults and shadows shimmer.
The day is striped across my back
and I bear its weight like a beast of burden.”

“When the anvil rings out, will the armorers appear?”

“When I snatched a blade of grass, its fine glass sliced my finger.
Yet, when I grasped the nettle, its swan-song perished in sunlight.”

 “Who will forge chains for sun and moon?

“The peregrine falcon slices my eye in two and I am a mole,
blind with a weather’s wind.”

“Who will carve a cell door for errant stars?”

“I snuffle round the tightness of the temple clock:
its legion of Roman numerals marches to the beat
of a dull, dry pendulum.”

“Why are there no birds in last year’s nests?”

“The ox tongue sandwich on which I snack
talks back to the lettuce and salt clogs the tomato.”

“Why are you avoiding these questions?”

“Speak up: the wind is high. I can no longer hear you.”

April Fools

When we were young
we used to wake up
at night and

Now we are old,
we wake up
at night and

Dialogue: Wednesday’s Workshop

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Dialog / Dialogue

The Tuesday night writing group that I meet with is very small. It currently consists of four members (Chuck, John, Kevin, and Roger), though it was larger. Several members dropped out for sundry reasons, but we four get on well and we have continued our Tuesday sessions for a long time now. We usually concentrate on discussions, sharing ideas, and encouragement rather than on anything else. We also share work in progress by e-mail for commentary online and we throw out current writing difficulties for discussion by the group. We also indulge in other activities. For example, on Monday last, John, one of the group members, visited me at home and kindly showed me how to process a manuscript for publication on Amazon’s CreateSpace. This was a first for me, though John, a very accomplished writer, has some twenty novels published in this fashion.

I thought it might be of interest to set out elements of the discussion that took place yesterday evening at The Second Cup Coffee Shop. Here are the notes, slightly amplified, that I sent round the group.

  1. We began by asking Chuck if he had benefitted from the previous week’s conversation, when he had set out a problem situation from his novel that we had all explored. He outlined briefly how he had responded to our suggestions.
  2. He then noted that some people can write dialogue with ease, others can’t, and illustrated this with info from a workshop he had given in which 13 of the 14 submitted manuscripts were narratives without dialog, and only one contained dialogue.
  3. This led us in several different directions and we opened with using telephone messages as a means of conveying information and also as a back up to “mysterious” dialog –can you hear both ends of the conversation?
  4. This in turn developed into texting and tweeting and electronics and from here we talked about the potentially deleterious effects of social media on conversational skills, and hence lack of dialog in society.
  5. Computer techniques and knowledge at a cross-words + game play + thought play + voice interaction to rival or replace writing novels came into the conversation and we added some comments on writing by dictation and computer transcribing of voice.
  6. The question of the historical development of the Dialogue form was opened: can Plato’s dialogues be considered monologues since many of the responses to Socrates are of the ‘yessir, nossir, three bags full sir” variety. We talked about creating action via dialogue and compared the modern newscast to the Medieval visitor who tells his audience what happened ‘over there’ and answered questions set by them. We also mentioned some dialogued novels of the 15th 16th C.
  7. The transition of the Quixote from single character (I, 1-5) to double character (the rest of the book) and the important role that dialogue played in the development of Cervantes’s novel also came forward. This led to the use and development of dialogue in other novels. We discussed dialogue on TV with reference to As Time Goes By and the Midsomer Murders. We discussed dialogue as a composite of what is said, how it is said, how it is delivered, and we emphasized the importance of timing of dialogue.
  8. We ended with a brief discussion of the age effect and development of narrative and dialog in children, especially in light of the effects of electronics on young developing minds and the substitution of screen for dialog.

Kevin was absent last night, but John and Chuck agreed to contribute a paragraph each in which they show their use of dialogue. I have added a poem in dialogue, just for the fun of showing a different usage. These are by no means state of the art models of how to proceed. They are examples of the type of work we are doing. Electronic links follow each example where appropriate.

Chuck Bowie: Steal it all.

“You know you got off lucky, Hendricks. It would have been so much easier, and given me so much more pleasure to have put the two slugs through that melon of yours. Now, get up. I want your seat.” While he spoke, he drew the blind closed. Walking over to the side of the small room, he turned off the ceiling light, leaving them with just the desk lamp to view one another.

Ace hauled his massive bulk out of the chair and shuffled around to the side of the office nearest the door. He eased into a dusty metal chair, taking care to avoid touching anything with his right arm.

“Tell me this.” Donovan waved his gun at the arm. “Why is it when a guy hurts his arm, he limps? I never figured that out.” This elicited another curse from Hendricks, and his attacker tossed him a roll of paper towels, which he failed to catch. Both ignored the useless roll as it found its way into a corner of the office.

“I’m very interested to hear your story, Ace. You’ve hurt a lot of people, some of them my friends. Want to talk about it?”

“You go square to ‘ell. My men’ll be here in a minute, and that’ll be the last of you, mate.”

Donovan shook his head.

“You have no more men. They’re all dead. Twelve separate industrial accidents, is how I heard it. Plus the scum you sent to kill Gemma. She weighs one hundred-fifteen pounds, by the way. Just before she killed him with her bare hands, he probably apologized to every woman and child he ever bullied. Nope, all you have left is that old

man, tied up by the garbage bin outside. And your millions. Um, nope, you no longer have that, either. Shit, you’re not really in good shape, my friend.

“But here’s what I can do for you. I can kill you, to save you the mortification of seeing your failure in tomorrow’s headlines. Is now a good time?”

Hendricks shook his head, unsure if Donovan was serious. The cloth around his elbow had darkened, and a drop or two had begun to puddle on the floor beside him.

“Okay, then. Here’s what I’m willing to do. I’ll name a name, and you’ll tell me the story. The more names you chat about, the longer you get to live.”


Buy Link for Steal It All:

John Sutherland: Convergence of Fates.

Before he drove off he decided to make another call. He’d better report what he had learned, to the Park Rangers in the Clark National Park. They’d had a bear go missing a couple of weeks earlier. The phone rang a few times before it was answered.

“Is Scott there, please?” Then, he recognized the voice.

“Melissa, it’s you” He identified himself. “Charlie Easton. Hudgin’s Mills. Remember that bear you told us to watch for, about ten days ago?”

He didn’t need to say any more, and nodded in response to her suddenly pointed questions, interrupting what he had been ready to say. Why anyone would nod into a telephone seemed a strange thing to do, but it was a reflexive action.

“It might be here. Hudgin’s Mills. At least, close to it. I just took two people into hospital. One of them had been attacked by a bear.” He listened for a while and responded as far as he could, giving her more details about his injuries.  She seemed satisfied that it had been a bear attack.

“Yes I can show you where I picked them up.” He listened further. “I don’t have a clue who he is, but I know the young woman. Susan Whitcomb. She’s….” Melissa seemed to know her, but of course she did; they were related in some way through her grandmother. He continued to nod.

“The Rollins road, ten miles out of town. The young man was pretty torn up, and bleeding like a stuck pig, but….”

Melissa cut into what he was saying and asked those questions important to her, getting the responses she needed to hear.

“It must have happened not long before I picked them up. Ten, maybe twenty minutes before. He was still bleeding. He didn’t say much, but he was conscious all of the drive in. I couldn’t see any injuries on her.

“It could be your bear. I thought I’d better tell you. From the looks of them, they should both be in the hospital for a day or two at least, maybe a week, for him, so you have time.” He listened further, and looked out at the weather.

“Rollins Road,” he repeated. “Where the river comes closest to the road and before it joins the main channel. Ten miles out, where it’s fordable. There’s only one place it does that. They were both wet, so they had waded across that river.”

He saw a flash of light and then heard a rumble of thunder about five seconds later (his subconscious told him it was about a mile away), and then responded again.

“I don’t know. You’d have to talk to him to find out where, exactly. You could probably follow his blood trail back on the other side of the river and find out, except for this rain. There’s only that one shallow place where they could have crossed, but it might not be passable by morning if we get the amount of rain they’re forecasting.

“If you call the Hospital in a couple of hours, they might be able to tell you something by then. Ask for Doctor Lewis. That young man I brought in might even be able to talk to you, if they let him. I’ll be home about midnight. You can call me there in the morning if you need my help to show you.”

From what Melissa said, Scott, her husband, the man to hunt that bear down, was already fairly close to Hudgin’s Mills on other business, so he’d be on his way as soon as she talked to him, and she wouldn’t be far behind.

“In the morning then.”

Charlie rang off, and decided that he should make one more call before he headed out.


Roger Moore: Monkey Temple.


Monkey FAQs
(with apologies to all those who draw them up
at their work place, knowing they will never be read)

“What news from the ark?”

“Only the dark waves pounding the hull, the wet winds blowing.”

“Who placed the whale ribs on this mountain
and called them a cathedral?”

“Sunshine blossoms through hollow vaults and shadows shimmer.
The day is striped across my back
and I bear its weight like a beast of burden.”

“When the anvil rings out, will the armorers appear?”

“When I snatched a blade of grass, its fine glass sliced my finger.
Yet, when I grasped the nettle, its swan-song perished in sunlight.”

 “Who will forge chains for sun and moon?

“The peregrine falcon slices my eye in two and I am a mole,
blind with a weather’s wind.”

“Who will carve a cell door for errant stars?”

“I snuffle round the tightness of the temple clock:
its legion of Roman numerals marches to the beat
of a dull, dry pendulum.”

“Why are there no birds in last year’s nests?”

“The ox tongue sandwich on which I snack
talks back to the lettuce and salt clogs the tomato.”

“Why are you avoiding these questions?”

“Speak up: the wind is high. I can no longer hear you.”

This Kevin Stephen’s  excerpt from DiAngelo: Revelations

“Can we talk Mel?” asked Caitlyn.

“Are we not? What is your mind?”

“I’m getting bad readings, like all the time, but you’ve been busy or gone for the last couple of weeks so I couldn’t talk to you.”

“Why not talk on our road trip?”

“Because. Everyone would think I sucked if I said that Tarot reading was confusing. Alex wouldn’t let me live it down.”

“Well, things are being… Vse ne tak. Crazy? For me lately. I have this moment. Ask your question.”

“For the last few weeks the Moon, the Hanged Man, and the Seven of Cups all came up in the same three positions, six, nine, and ten for everyone.”

“It is not impossible for people to be having same cards. Who is saying people do not have same outlook?”

“Well, in the last two weeks more than sixty people have had the same reading. You think that’s normal? I thought it might the sign of an impending natural disaster but then Roan came along.

“I thought the shared experience had passed when Roan pulled different cards but then he pulled the Death card in position nine time and time again. He even had that card face up when he drew a second copy of it. I didn’t have two Deaths in the deck but he really did look as surprised as I was. It had to have been a prank right? That’s what Fran thought.”

Somnambulant Flash Fiction


Bistro 25

Tommy has started to sleepwalk. Not that he really walks in his sleep, but when he gets up in the night to go pee he no longer wakes up completely. They told him it would be like this, the going pee. “Every hour or so,” they said, “probably in time with your emergence from deep sleep.” They were right about that, but they never told Tommy about the sleepwalking.

“It’s the injections make you pee,” they said. “But you’ll get better when the effects wear off, in about eighteen months time.” Well, it’s been a year now, and Tommy still goes pee every ninety minutes, as regular as clockwork. He’d say as regular as a train, but the trains he knew never went anywhere on time and Tommy can set his watch by his middle of the night aquatic meanderings.

It’s funny really. If he wakes up properly, there’s no problem. But if he’s only half awake, then who knows where the pee’s going. Sometimes he wets his pajamas, just pees on them, half-asleep. There’s nothing like warm urine rapidly cooling in the cold night air to shake Tommy from his dormant state. When that happens, he takes his pajama bottoms off and hangs them on the bathroom door. They are often dry again a pee or two later and then he can put them back on.

Tommy tries not to turn on the light, because it wakes his wife and she needs her sleep even more than Tommy does. His wife has started to become used to Tommy’s schedule and about four o’clock, every morning, they both wake up and pee together. On April the First, last year, Tommy wrote a poem about it.

April Fools

When we were young
we used to wake up
at night and

Now we are old,
we wake up
at night and

            It’s quite funny, really. Tommy and his wife now use separate bathrooms. Tommy uses the en suite while his wife walks down the corridor to the guest’s bathroom. Tommy remembers to raise the seat by repeating to himself: “Gentlemen raise the seat” like they used to say in the old railway trains back in the UK. Tommy has come to think of it as a definition: “Gentlemen raise the seat.” Sometimes, though, he thinks of it as a sort of toast: “Gentlemen: raise the seat.” It all depends on the punctuation and the intonation, and Tommy can never say it quite like they did on Beyond the Fringe. At Tommy’s age so much depends on so many things.

Tommy wishes he knew what the direction of his pee depended on: it seems to have a life of its own. While he usually remembers to raise the seat, he sometimes forgets and then of course he does his best to wipe the seat clean and dry. He’s usually pretty good at it, but it’s difficult to be certain in the dark. He found the high-pitched shriek that followed when his wife’s warm cheeks hit the cold wetness very disturbing, especially when attached to a roar of anguish turning rapidly into rage. They never said anything in the hospital about that either, but that’s the real reason why Tommy and his wife now use separate bathrooms.

And he’s started sleeping with his teddy bear in his arms. Teddy’s very good for Tommy. Tommy clings on to Teddy and Teddy never complains if Tommy wakes him when he gets out of bed to go pee. Teddy doesn’t complain about the night sweats either. Oh yes, they told Tommy about those in the hospital, too. Every time Tommy gets out of bed and goes into the cold night air, he starts to sweat. When he gets back into bed, Teddy is nice and warm, like a hot water bottle. Tommy gives Teddy a squeeze and a cuddle and Teddy never wakes up and never complains.

Tommy likes Teddy

Shit Happens Flash Fiction


Shit Happens!
Bistro 24

Pain in the joints so bad I decide to get in the bath and soak in hot water. I run the water, test the blend of hot and cold, if baby turns red, I remember, don’t insert elbow in bath, water too hot for elbow.

Bath water bubbles in. I set the fan for steam extraction. Test the water. Seems fine.

High the step into the bath and I cannot raise the right leg high enough. The left leg is worse. I lay flat along the bath edge, naked, of course, and think: “How do I get in?”

The left leg will not rise. I stand on tiptoe, pushing up from the right leg’s toes: cramp, shit! I slide back down, swivel, and my belly is cold against the bath’s edge.

I refuse to give in. I try again. I raise the left leg, ouch, cramp in the right toes, and slide the left leg over the bath’s edge. I slide weight to the left, raise the right leg and slip into the bath, on my knees, face down.

I grab the sides of the bath, flip myself over, and victory: I am on my back in warm water, feeling the comfort of the whirlpool’s heat seep into my bones.

Exercises: I raise my legs and move ankles, then do the windshield wiper, left right. I feel immediate benefits in hips. Then comes the slow military march, legs slightly raised against bath end, left, right, left.

Raise both hips now, then gyrate them, left to right, twenty times, and reverse. Now up and down, raising them in a familiar though nearly forgotten motion.

Twenty minutes, they say, or else you may suffer. So I call my wife and she runs upstairs and turns off the motor. The whirlpool ceases.

Now I must get out. I have a funny feeling that something is wrong. My wife pulls the plug and water drains from the bath. The last thing I want is to lie face down in an inch or two of water and drown.

I roll to the left and slip on the bath’s bottom. I roll to the right and slide again. I grasp the handle on the left … it comes out in my hand. With nothing to grasp, I can’t sit up. So I lie there with the water draining away.

I start to panic. Mustn’t panic. I’m in pain. Not that much pain. I must fight. I can’t give in. Again I try to turn over … and again.

Tears. Sweat. I get cramp in the toes, and in the lower legs, where I push against the bath’s end. Panic now and a tightness in my chest with bile edging up in my throat to choke me. I half-turn but fall again and bang my head. Don’t struggle. Don’t panic. Think.

I ask for the towel and my wife slips it under my feet. No good: my hips still slide. I need to pee. Hang on. I can’t hang on. I tighten my stomach muscles involuntarily and urine spurts. My wife slides the towel under my knees: I get more grip but my arms won’t hold. I slip and squeeze. Oh no: my bowels are turning to water. I groan and hope but I can’t hold on and bath and body are soiled. But I have rolled over and now I lie face down, in push up position, humiliated, soiled, tears streaming down my face, breathing above the absent water.

My wife goes downstairs to get the garden kneeler. It won’t fit in the bath. I experiment with my walking stick, but it’s no good, it slips and just won’t hold. Naked, shrunken, smelling like I don’t know what, I can’t face calling the neighbors or the fire department.

My wife kneels beside me. Together we haul the now wet towel beneath my torso and finally I gain a dry base on the slippery bath; no sliding now. I curse as my wife sinks sharp fingers into my fragile flesh and helps me to rise. Together we force me into a kneeling position. From here I can empower my arms and push myself up.

It has taken me twenty-five minutes to get out of that bath. I stink and I am no longer clean. Dipped in my own excrement, I hobble to the shower in the other bathroom and hose myself down.