Thursday Thoughts: An Old Song


Thursday Thoughts
8 March 2018

An old song

… an old song, words and tune wrapping themselves around your neck, a loose scarf, brilliant in the sunshine, and oh so warm, flapping as you walk the streets, and people see the scarf’s frayed ends waving in the wind, so they wave back at you, and then they see those same ends tucked back in your jacket, hugging you tight, a pair of arms borrowed from your lover, and oh the light in your eyes, and the sun picking out the gold spots in your hair, and all’s well with the world …

… or left, left, left, right, left … it’s a marching song and the world falls away as you walk to work or to play and every day is a new day with blood stirring and this call to arms, to alarms, to alarums, and everything up for grabs, and you, marching in tune to the tunes in your head and the words wrapped around you, warming you, comforting, as you sing and stride along …

… or maybe it’s a sad song, and there’s rain in the sky, small drops gathering, a heavy mist, or a light mizzle, and you walk as if through a cloud, and yet you are still dry and warm and comforted and the words wrap themselves round and round you, and yes, you are sad, but you are comforted, as if in a verbal comforter, and the sun breaks through and hugs you and the raindrops radiate the brilliance of that sunlight, winking off your tears, as they gather at leaf’s end and spread sun’s twinkle from the radiance of flowers …

… and today it’s a Nor’Easter … snow in the air … on the trees … on the ground … a steady accumulation … you know how its is … and a fire in the fireplace … warm heart … warm heart … no travel today … books and the computer beckon … a time to read and write … to remember the old ways … the old days … those memories … a warm scarf wrapped around the neck … and the comforter … comforted … and comforting … so much to wrap around you … so much to wrap your head around …

Wednesday Workshop: Writing from Inside


Writing from Inside
Wednesday Workshop
07 March 2018

Crave More: I hate those words.  I always choose a cart with the shop’s name on the handle. I can handle that. I can’t handle a shopping cart that screams Crave More at me every time I stoop down and place another item in the wire grid. If stores were honest they would write Think More and Crave Less on their shopping cart handles. But I bet that would quickly cut into profits.

Anyway, there I was, in LaLaLand, leaning on my cart, still half asleep, when this ghost drifted towards me. “Help me,” it said. “I’m hungry. I need food.” I woke up from my dream, looked at the ghost, tall, skeletal thin, cavernous eyes and cheekbones protruding, grey face drawn with shame. The single word “Sorry” came automatically to my lips. Then I too felt shame. I looked at him again. “I only carry plastic.” The excuse limped heavily across the air between. I saw something in his eyes, I knew not what, and I turned away.

In my mind, I added 120 lb of muscle to the scarecrow frame. Took forty years away. Filled his body with joy and pride, not shame, and remembered how he played the game, hard and fast, but true. I ran my hand through the card index of former players that I coached and knew: their moves, and attributes, the way they played the game, their stronger / weaker side, their playing strengths, their weaknesses. I remembered him holding up the Champion’s Cup. But I couldn’t remember his name.

I pushed the cart all over the store in a frantic search for him. He was nowhere to be seen. I went to the ATM and took out cash. I could hand it to him. I could tell him he had dropped it. I went through a thousand scenes. I could invite him to the snack bar. I could tell him to buy what he needed and follow me to the  check out lane. A single opportunity. One chance. That’s all we get. Miss it, and we blow the championship. Take it, and we win the game.





Red brick the universe,
red brick crumbled
sparrow crumbs now.

Red brick,
not lily-white limestone,
nor chalk,
white cliffs,
will tumble,
tugged down
by fierce tides

Red brick
and rough:
the builder’s hands,
life- lines fortified,
unfettered brick dust.

Red brick,
heart, liver, lungs:
red holes, not black,
where red roses

Red brick,
shattered into red
dust and this sun
a dwarf brick
shrinking in its

Red bricks:
their dust become
gas giants,
Saturn’s rings,
useless wooden wagons
drawn up
in second hand westerns.

The huff and the puff:
brick shit houses,
these red brick
universes, built to last
way beyond
those dreaming spires,
that failed, will fail,
and still fail to inspire.

“Here endeth
the second lesson:
Book of  Brick.”

Nobody’s There


Nobody’s There

a red brick
sitting on the master’s desk
in the ivory tower
of a Cotswold Manor.

The history master enters,
sees the brick,
sizes it up,
seizes it
and, without looking,
hurls it at the window.

Summer term:
the days are warm.
The windows are open.

End over end,
the brick tumbles
through blue air
to land with a thud
on the quad’s black tarmac
right at the feet
of the school pastor.

He looks around.
There’s nobody there.
The brick must have
out of thin air.

The pastor shrugs,
stoops down,
picks up the brick,
puts it in his briefcase,
and carries it away.

“Here endeth
the first lesson:
Book of Brick.”


Nec Plus Ultra


Nec plus ultra

A womb wound
this open heart
clinging crablike
to your sleeve

a sudden surge
this weakened urge
to end it all and sever
this wander-wonder

how many times
must you jump
eyes closed
through life’s open
circus hoop
red-nosed clowns
falling off their trikes
hoax after hoax

your life’s blood
leaks meekly out
dribbles from
your fingertips
drip by febrile


Avila 2007a 039



 Dead accurate he was
with a piece of chalk,
hit you wherever you sat:

right between
the eyes.

 “Pay attention, boy.”
“I was paying attention, sir.”
“Then repeat what I just said.”

 And the boy repeated it,
word for word.

Here, have a peppermint.”
“No thank you, sir.”
“Guess and how, then.”

 He put his hand in his pocket
and pulled out a handful of coins.

Sooner or later
we all tried,
but nobody ever guessed
how much money
he held in his hand.

Friday Fiction


Friday Fiction
Postcards 1

The door to her father’s house opened before Tiggy could raise the brass knocker.

“Oh, great,” said her father. “You’re just in time to cook me breakfast. Come in. Come in,” He stood aside to let her pass and she pecked a kiss at his cheek as she hurried by, overnight bag in the hand closer to him. Tiggy held her breath as she went. She knew the smell emanating from her father would be as ripe as it was during her last visit, if not worse.

“I’ll make you breakfast in a moment, dad. I’ll just take these upstairs first.”

When she came down, her post-drive ablutions completed, she went straight to the kitchen. Her father sat at the breakfast table, restless fingers playing the piano of the table top in arrhythmic Morse Code messages.

“At last,” her father muttered. “Where have you been?”

“Just tidying up, dad,” Tiggy smiled. “You know it’s a long drive.”

“I want scrambled eggs. On toast. Make them like your mother used to.”

Tiggy thought of the dry overcooked eggs her mother used to scrape out of the burnt to a crisp saucepan and sighed. Her almost-liquid, cordon bleu divinity was the real thing. Scrambled eggs, indeed. And so much salt. More like bacalao, dried salt cod with a little bit of yellow to imitate an egg.

Tiggy picked up a saucepan for the eggs. Filthy. She went to the sink and started to scrub it.

“You don’t need to do that,” her father said. “It’s clean.”

“It’ll be cleaner when I’ve finished, dad. Don’t you worry.”

“Here,” her father handed her some plates. “You might as well wash these as well. They won’t be clean enough for you.”

Greasy films layered the plates where yesterday’s bacon had solidified. Hard lumps of egg stuck to the cracks that road-mapped the plates’ surface.

“I’ll look after it, dad. You sit down and rest. I’m home now.”

“At last,” Tiggy’s father grunted.

Tiggy took in her father’s face. He had put on weight and red veins ran red and blue tattoos across the unshaven surface. He breathed with difficulty, but she knew he angered with ease. She also knew she must tread with care.

Tiggy looked for and found the end of a roll of paper towels, the same one she had bought on her last visit, and she dried saucepan, plates, and cutlery, putting the saucepan on the stove and laying cutlery and plates neatly in a space she created on the cluttered table. Her father pushed his setting aside and struggled to his feet.

“Here, let me help you.”

“That’d be great, dad. You do the toast, I’ll get the eggs,” Tiggy walked to the fridge, searched in vain for some butter, and carefully selected three large brown eggs.

Her father followed her to the fridge.

“Here, use up this cracked one,” he handed her a white egg with a large crack that mapped a thin contour from big end to little end.

Tiggy reached for the egg. She grasped it and felt the cold icy creep of the army of white camouflaged maggots that seethed along the crack. She shuddered and the egg slipped from her fingers, dropping to the kitchen’s flagstone floor where it shattered. A rich, ripe stench arose and ghosted through the air to tickle Tiggy’s nostrils. Her stomach heaved.

Having washed her hands, she cracked each of the three eggs individually into a saucer, checked each one, then put it into the saucepan. Next, she took a wooden spoon from the drawer and started to blend the eggs.

Meanwhile, her father sat back down at the table, toast forgotten, and recommenced his Morse Code save my soul messages.

Tiggy opened one cupboard, then another, in search of bread. Finally, she found the remains of a sliced loaf in a dark corner and brought it out into the light. The first slice she extracted from the bag reminded her of a painting from Picasso’s Blue Period. Lots of penicillin, but toast for scrambled eggs?

“I know,” her father said. “I’ve eaten it before. Just scrape the blue stuff off. It’ll be fine. I eat it all the time.”

“You can’t eat that,” Tiggy threw the bread in the garbage. “I’ll just serve you the eggs on the plate.”

Tiggy scraped the burnt, dry eggs onto her father’s plate.

“Lovely,” he said. “Just like your mum’s.”