This week’s guest-blog is from the desk of the inestimable Mike Rose-Steel, philosopher-poet, proofreader extraordinaire and many other pertinent things starting with p. He has kindly left with me for your delectation a small slice of personal abuse and three of his carefully sculpted poems… so read, enjoy and remember, never trust a man who can use the word “poikilothermic” in anger. I’m talking to you, Mr Rose-Steel.
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thanks very much to Josie for inviting me to fill in a blank space on her blog.
I’m writing this at my desk at home when I should be in my office, because the accelerator pedal on my car fell off this morning, half way up the A30. This is normally considered to be a bad thing for pedals to do, so I have decided not to drive the car anywhere again for the time being. This is probably a suspiciously neat metaphor for life, at some level.
I’m Mike, I mostly write poetry and short stories, and split my time between proof-reading, editing, office work, philosophy research and any other activities I can do without having to stand up. I’ve been published occasionally (partly because I’m very lazy about sending things off), but unfortunately the marvellous Heaventree Press, in Coventry, don’t appear to have a functioning website at the moment, so I can’t link to them. If you are in Coventry, check out their open mic nights at the Tin Angel – a really friendly, cosy event.
To fill up the remainder of this post, I’ve included three poems suitable to Josie’s general way of doing things. Two of these were sparked by Josie sending me a random set of instructions on poems to write, so she is at least in part to blame for them.
If you want to play the game yourself (and why not post the results?) here are the restrictions that applied to each (you will notice that I have broken at least some of the rules, because police enforcement in these matters is notoriously inefficient):
On Rough Tor – write a 12 line poem, rhyming ABAB etc, on the theme of someone being in a field in the very early morning and the reader not knowing why they are there. Mention Last of the Summer Wine.
In the waiting Room – Write a poem that includes the word “formication” (the condition of sensing or imagining that insects are crawling about under your skin) – one of Josie’s favourite words to mumble in the company of strict moralists – employing half-rhyme and at least one stanza break. Must feature a famous TV naturalist.
Have fun! I hope this helps you to survive during the dark night of the soul that is Josie’s temporary absence. I am assured that this is her only seal clubbing expedition of the year, so normal service should be returned and maintained shortly. Hand-made mittens for sale by mail order, usual contact details apply. Wishing you an excellent weekend,
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The trouble with not liking spiders
is that they creep up on you like
legs made of
needles and rust.
If spiders were as big as elephants,
you could look them in the eye
and ask them to stop skirting about
in such a shifty manner. You could say
“Why are you always running everywhere?
Why not slow down and enjoy the scuttle?”
But because spiders are made
of coal dust and coat-hanger shavings,
everything they see is a delirious dream
dreamt eight times, reflected in a fairground mirror.
The whole world wobbles
and blows bubbles on itself
when spiders try to look it in the face,
as if it were floating away, laughing itself apart
on a joke
with a terrifying punch-line.
So spiders don’t want to stop and chat.
They swoosh past sofas and carpets and wellington boots
and only glance at them
out of the corners of their eyes,
in case a chair lollops across the room and eats itself.
Being a spider is very hard work
and they never wear hats
because hats fly off when you run,
or knock against the ceiling where you are creeping
through narrow cracks in the floorboards.
And that’s why they coruscate about the place
as if planning to jump down your collar
and are never civilised company.
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In the Waiting Room
Full to his belly in twittering hairs
Our David is covering himself in scratches,
Red and long and straight, like a plough
Making its blind way north and south.
It itches, under thick skin and arms like branches
Cracking bones and sneaking in between each breath:
Ants! What if they make it into your brain?
Two nervous people sit watching this strange dance
In which David’s partner swims unseen
Out of pores and into the fatness of his eyes.
Night terrors, in a blue bright sky, his screams
Scatter like buttons across the emptying room.
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On Rough Tor
I am trapped in a tutu, heavy in fur and grasping a banana.
I am alone in wet grass, on a cold moor morning, getting far
down into my primitive soul. The world is slush, slush,
a grey formless skein, unravelling into the empty hush.
This is the worst maze yet devised; it has no walls, no bars,
and I have a string to follow that leads into the murk and briars
tied to my left shoe – a loose unbinding messenger cut mute
by distance and my blank memory. I am overheated in this monkey-suit.
I am left no bone but to follow the string, walk its wet path
in slippers of mud, hearing my own breath, rounding on air
and hope not to meet the Devil on the way, his weak eerie laughs
like dead balloons, skittled by an east wind, drowning on air.
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So there you have it! Thanks to Mike for his word-smithery, to you lot for dropping by, and watch this space for news of next week’s blog; in the coming weeks we hope to have guest-blogs from writers Lisa Hinsley and Mary Maguire, along with playwright Julia Lee Dean, among others.
In the meantime, take care, have a great weekend – and do drop by again next week!