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Written in the air

thoughts through the mirror

Author

transmutablethoughts

I am exploring ideas through writing and the placement of objects and imagery. I am interested in the placement of words, their physicality in space, as well as metaphor and allegory. I like artist's books and poetry. Music sustains me.

back-to-a-slow-death

The world according to Godistricksy

thin shafts of light light up my room,
lifting the seductive-seasonal-gloom,
popping the elfin mediocrity.

i struggle with my Christmas depressing gown,
all-fluffy-soft-as-down-terry-towelling,
which hangs on me like a stocking.

at 7am, i should be tucked up asleep,
not pacing dappled floorboards
in Christmas slippered feet.

coffee. ah. sweet caffeine.
a cup of joe on the go, a pick-me-up
before the bastards grind-me-down.

it’s been snowing again. hanging like
curdled semolina against window panes:
a sick back-to-work-joke.

all around the house is still.
contented snores fill the air as i,
suited-and-suitably-booted, depart.

the outside is not like the inside.
it is hullabalooic-unhappy-icy.
the morning light is weak and unkind.

there can be no turning back now.
post-festivious office banter beckons.
another cup of joe and a stale mince pie.

thin shafts of light light up my office,
lifting the seductive-seasonal-gloom,
popping the corporate mediocrity.

it’s horrible.

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Synapses and Other Conjunctions

O at the Edges

boot

Synapses and Other Conjunctions

My advice? Wear boots, even among the dead.
Our barefoot friend, having separated the rattler’s
head from its body, picked up the six-foot
length to show off, and stepped back onto
the head, which though not alive, still managed
to squeeze venom from the ducts and inject it
through its fangs, into his foot. Consider this
a metaphor, if you must, but don’t belabor
it. This morning I am searching for
connections. The plumber says that when
the overflow is clogged, the sink won’t drain
properly, and I notice similarities between
vision and words and the dryer’s vent — how
twists and hard angles and blurry lint may
confuse the issue, perhaps even start a fire.
And before you say, yes, yes, that’s what
I want, a fire, consider other possibilities,
not to mention consequences. Confuse
one word for another, and you’re an idiot.
Let…

View original post 118 more words

Scars

One on each ring finger.

One on the right hand where,

It got trapped in the door jamb aged 4

the day my mother slammed it in anger

but told the nurse at the hospital that

it had been the wind and I wondered

if that was another name for an argument.

This is a long story, but I’ll remember it to you because it has many important aspects to it, for me, and perhaps some will resonate with you too.

At worst, it may pass the time.

We lived in a sweet little council house, 3 up, 3 down, with a garden back and front made into 2 Paradises by my Dad. I lived there with him, my Mum, brother, Nana and Uncle. Another uncle would come back from time to time when his ship docked in Liverpool. He was an ex merchant sailor turned waiter on cruise liners such as the Cunard Line. To me, the house didn’t feel crowded, but tempers ran high from time to time probably through close proximity and insufficient money.

On one of these occasions when my Mum was arguing, I don’t know who with, I, aged 5, was hiding in the hall behind the door to the front room, listening. I must have had my fingers along the jamb because, all of a sudden, as my Mother slammed it shut, the ring finger of my right hand was trapped in it. Ouch.

I really don’t remember this at all, which is unusual for me because my long term memory for events and places is detailed usually. I suspect the original memory has been replaced by the story of it told and re-told by my Mother who was eternally guilt-ridden about it.

I know that I was taken to the Royal hospital in Liverpool and that Gerry Marsden’s grandad sewed the end back on, dressed it and put it in a splint for me.  (The Gerry Marsden who was the singer in Gerry and the Pacemakers who had big hits with Ferry Across the Mersey and You’ll Never Walk Alone). Everyone in our house, excluding my Dad, but including me, was very much into pop music and so this was an ameliorating factor that was used to gloss over the horror of the rest of the sorry tale.

When I think about it, the end of the finger throbs a little. The nail is slightly different to the others; its bed has a raised, rounded shape and the free margin extends into a tiny square a little further down the nail bed on one side than all my other nails. It is here that you can see a slight indentation in the flesh where the top of the finger came off.  The rest of the line has become very faint, but if I press the skin above it, it feels strangely empty. Perhaps the nerve endings never quite mended.

I don’t really consider it much now, except a little when I might paint my nails or try to file them evenly or in cold weather when it goes a little more numb than the others.

It’s healed really well considering.  Especially considering the fact that within a few days back at school someone trod on it as I sat on the floor during story time and I had to return to the hospital to have it re-dressed. I wasn’t allowed back to school after that until it was nearly healed. I forget how long that took, but I would have really enjoyed it. Perhaps the happy memory of this time has been overridden by the pain of my anxious Mother fussing over me.  One thing I do remember was how she was so zealous about it healing properly and it not leaving a scar that she took the doctor’s advice to lift the newly forming nail up and out of the nail bed with an orange stick each night to the nth degree and it became an ordeal of torture for me, made more surreal and excruciating by my Nana singing “when you’re smiling” in the background to drown out my cries, though she probably imagined she was trying to take my mind off it.

Whenever the whole thing was talked about, the argument was never referred to. The accident, as it surely was in any case, was blamed on a sudden gust of wind howling through the house. I liked the wind, I still do, but it did get entangled in my imagination with anger and danger and became a living entity that might perform acts of destruction both inside as well as out. It always reverberates inside of me.

On the other hand, same finger,

has a ring ridged around the top where

I ran it into the bandsaw whilst

making a small wooden sculpture

at art college aged 20.

It was a puzzle piece.

I finished it, then threw it away.

I didn’t think it would be considered

sculpture.

I got quite frenetic about making this thing. I wanted to create a 3D solution to a maths problem that we had been told about by a trendy maths teacher whilst in my third year at secondary school.

Maths had become my least favourite subject. When a newly qualified, lively, female maths teacher arrived and started to talk about a different kind of maths that didn’t obviously involve numbers, I, along with many of the other girls in my all girl class at our all girl grammar school, began to look forward to maths lessons, although I was always a little afraid that it was a bit of a con and maths couldn’t really be this fun and interesting.

She did sometimes talk about probability and throwing die, which was complex and did involve numbers, so that salved our guilty consciences, but mostly she talked about interesting problems to do with shapes and one of these was a spacial problem to do with fitting shapes together. It involved finding out how many shapes you could draw if the only rule was that they all had to have one side touching each other. It is apparently 7. I tried many many variations of this theme, some geometric, others more organic. It was a very relaxing puzzle that I toyed with in my spare time and bore surprisingly interesting results.

Later when I opted to study sculpture at Polytechnic, I tried out many approaches to that. One day, the maths puzzle came back to me and once again I became obsessed with it and, since I was involved in making objects, extending the number 7 by creating a 3D shape, a little like a Rubik’s cube was a natural progression.

I worked on it in secret because the atmosphere in the sculpture department felt combatitive, both amongst students and students and lecturers. We were always being challenged about anything we produced as if it might not be a good premise or the right approach or a satisfying result. Also, I had found myself amongst an unruly cohort who wouldn’t comply with those in charge; a running theme throughout my life. I seem to gravitate towards such people. We were under attack by the management for not producing proper sculpture in a traditional sense.

So, I produced many little maquets of my ideas in secret. It was difficult to find a way of thinking about it in 3D without actually producing an object, so I beavered away in a small storage room, nipping into the woodworking department to knock out rough versions on the bandsaw. They were fairly small. The finished thing was to be at most 18″ square. When it came to completing the final piece, I decided to take the guard off the bandsaw which allowed me to use it for more intricate cuts. I was in quite early. I didn’t want the technician to see. I worked quickly and was so engrossed that it was only the sudden spurt of blood that drew my attention to what I’d done.

Oh. What to do. I drew my sleeve over my hand. Took the wooden piece and put it in my pocket. Turned to make my retreat but the blood was of course revealing my sin. Lady Macbeth was I.

At some point, I was found out, taken, like a thief, by the wonderful technician who had assisted me so much throughout the year, to the A&E department to sit, pouring blood everywhere, in subdued silence together.

The workshop was closed for a week. I slinked in and out. attempting to make something else, perhaps a string table; the wooden puzzle hidden away with other secret vice objects in the little back cupboard I had annexed for myself to be hidden from prying criticism.

In due time, the technician forgave me and helped me make a large frame just the right size for me to stand in, based on the dimensions of my body. It was a kind of space frame, usually something imagined by an artist when making a drawing of a figure ” in space “. Made out of 2″x1” pieces of wood. I painted them white and displayed it as a thing in itself in a joint exhibition with the other mavericks from my year. We covered all our work in sheets and white flour. It gave them a uniform look.

Somewhere in-between, I threw the offending puzzle piece away. It’s not surprising really, though, looking back from here, quite annoying. I threw so many of the things I made away.  Partly through not having any fixed abode, but mainly through not valuing it sufficiently. Which was silly really, because I usually put a lot of thought and energy and care and time into them.

I could re-imagine them, but the thought process has moved on now, so I have to just let them go.

The two faint almost matching scars on matching fingers of each hand create a tiny electrical buzz if I press their ends together. Like the completion of an electrical circuit. There’s something contained within them that can remind me of something if I care to pay attention. It’s on the edge of indefinable.

Black is a Colour

 

On rainy days in school,

amongst the comics and games

of make a square from dots,

or consequences,

and jig saw puzzles,

and books, always piles of books,

there were the fat, mottled chunks

of wax crayon alongside the stubs of pencils

and the wide expanse of thin, creamy

coloured paper

waiting to be filled

with the dreams and jokes

of us kids incarcerated in

the noise and smell of the

dirty classroom on a rainy playtime.

I would sort and sift to find

the seven colours of my rainbow,

arcing happy line after happy line

of red, orange, yellow, green, blue,

then purple;

(no indigoes or violets

in this childish box of crayons,

and anyway, I didn’t know the

mnemonic at six, or seven,

or whenever time it was that

this memory relates to,

which is hard for me to say since

rainy playtimes

and my love for drawing rainbows stayed

with me for many years,

along with a love for covering them

with a last layer of the thickest black

wax my hand could muster until

the page was completely

disguised as night,

a deep and tangible black,

with subtle hints of all the other colours hid;

because the black crayons encrusted themselves

with particles of all the other colours they had

rubbed shoulders with).

After marvelling at the dense and subtle

screen for some time,

I would begin to scratch away the black

with a penny or a pin’s head,

slowly with delight revealing the submerged

beauty of the covered rainbow.

Flakes of scraped black wax would gather

and roll and sometimes stick to the arc

of the spectrum so that the ROYGBP

became scattered with tiny black atoms

and I loved their riotous infiltration

just as much as I delighted in

uncovering the jewelled rainbow.

There it was before me;

a bow of colours arching out of

a vast expanse of glittering black,

then returning into its eternity

of possibilities.

Moment of calm

in the classroom of chaos.

Image of peace

emerging.

Returning.

Throughout life.

That Hat

 

Picture this; I’m leaning across a pile of clothes in a boutique,

feeling the brim of a hat.  A middle-aged lady, out of place

though not caring,  

so thrilled by the appearance  

in actuality

the re-appearance,

of a hat.

Look again.

I’m on the cusp of old age

I’m familiar with these things

Styles come and go

and come again.

They’re usually in different materials, 

which adds to the effect that

this is not real.

Style as an affectation

It’s an illusion

But this hat,

with its black, slightly wavy brim, silk ridged ribbon round its crown

is the same hat

made of the same soft felt.

Hat incarnate

that I wore throughout my early teens

which collided with the early seventies

(a sepia-toned time when Laura Ashley was queen.

May she rest in peace)

Transported,

I felt its felt 

and thought about the time I travelled

on the train with my friend in the day

to dirty Manchester in the rain.

Me in that hat.

We arrived in the pub

Incongruous in our precarious

Silly elegance

Our two lads so sheepish and cocky in their scruffy best.

I kept looking across to the spartan houses 

with their small high windows,

and their dearth of gardens,

(we were wealthy in gardens),

then across to the drinking men,

mainly men, in the middle of the 

Saturday on the outskirts of grainy Manchester.

We were young, in love with life

A rich tapestry we were told,

To keep us going.

I am nearly old now, 

but I still

get a thrill

out of wearing that hat,

in my garden,

or, occasionally,

On a Saturday,

And usually

in the rain. 






First published in the Silver Birch Press “Me in a Hat” series (November/December 2016)

under the title of ” The Occasional Hat ”

Call for artist features (all genres) who identify as female — Les Femmes Folles

Trish Hopkinson

tumblr_lwz7olmuzw1qi1e0lLes Femmes Folles (LFF) is an organization and online journal that focuses on supporting artists of all genres who identify as female. It was founded and is curated by Sally Deskins. “Since April 2011 the LFF Blog has featured over 700 women in theatre, music, visual art, writing, performance art and feminist activism from around the world in various levels of their careers. LFF has also curated and hosted seven visual exhibits, over a dozen panels, readings and performances; and has published four anthologies of poetry, visual art and interview excerpts which are available at blurb.com.”

The features are wonderful exposure and customized to fit each artist/writer. I was pleased to be featured in 2016 and look forward seeing my interview/feature included in two books coming out in 2017: Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2016 and Shake The Tree: A Poetry Anthology, Volume Three forthcoming by Brightly PressLFF included…

View original post 498 more words

Dich otomy

 

Dicho                                                               tomy

two parts                                                       cutting

The beautiful mystery

that leads to growth.

A division of parts;

branching                                   and                                            branching.

The one that cannot be                                                                  the other,

or part of it.

The essential nature                                                                           of life.

Not Yin Yang,                                                                   more the moon in

its first quarter,                                                              then its third quarter.

The one that                         complements                                       the other.

The dance of a couple                                                  where neither touches.

The one place here                                                     and the other one there.

The never the twain                                                                shall ever meet.

Unless the universe reveals its other laws to us and growth takes on

an                                                                                                                        other

p

a                                                  t                                                                   t

e                                                                               r                                                                               n

If I ever get a Tattoo

 

If I ever get a tattoo,

It would be the symbol of a heart,

Cut in two,

An empty outline,

Drawn in red,

Or maybe blue,

Divided in half,

One for each shoulder.

Yes, you felt it coming;

Two teardrops,

To remind me of you.

Encounter Number 2

 

No. 2  Resolution of a kind

Some time later. Maybe a year. Stella will sit in the designated waiting area, watching people and trying not to look as if she is. A young woman will park her bicycle outside, come through the double glass doors and sit down opposite her with one leg under, then take out a book. Stella will discretely study her and think that she looks posh. There are certain clues to indicate this. A smart shortish dress with blue stripes, short, chic haircut will be the main ones. These, along with the bicycle which she will have noted has a basket on the front. Stella will wonder about the bike. Is it common to ride bikes round here ? Like Cambridge ? The girl will start chatting to one of the girls on the reception desk. Stella will wonder why she has come into this place since it is currently being used for interviewing prospective students. It is obvious that she is already a student or employee at the university by the way she knows the girl on the reception desk. She will wonder if she’s going to take over her job at some point.

The relentless drone of the video advertising the success of the university will annoy Stella to the point of her nearly going outside for a break, but she will resist, knowing that her daughter will notice if she leaves and this may unsettle her.

Her daughter will be involved in an interview. It will be conducted in an open, group session far down at the other end of the room and Stella will be able to watch how the lady with the very short grey hair looks up admiringly at her daughter who is much taller than the lady and she will notice how the lady looks particularly at the delicate expanding tattoo style choker that her daughter will have put around her neck for the occasion.

Then, a couple will come noisily through the double doors, struggling with a large portfolio, several files and a giant unidentifiable structure made out of what will appear to be paper mache and chicken wire. Stella will presume this is a piece of art that one of them has created and she will think, disparagingly and unkindly, that it looks hideous. She will watch as they wrestle with it all and they try to explain their business to the friendly and courteous receptionist. Stella will decide that the female is about 17 and the bloke about 30 odd. Stella will take in the dishevelled shoulder length badly dyed pink hair, tight drain pipe jeans, old pumps and revealing skimpy top of the young woman. She will notice and raise an eyebrow at the way the bloke keeps running his hand up and down the girl’s back, side and bottom and how he keeps chipping in and interrupting when the young woman tries to answer the receptionist’s questions. She will also take note of the fact that the young woman doesn’t seem to care about these two facts, which will be indicated by the way she keeps nodding and smiling at the bloke.

While all this is taking place, a huddle of young people will shuffle out through some kind of exit barrier which is situated at the opposite end of the interview section and seems to be the entrance to the college facilities. They will all be dressed in an interesting and arty way and will be laughing and talking to each other confidently as they move through the waiting area together and leave through the glass entrance doors. Stella will think how affluent and posh they all look and sound, despite their apparent scruffiness and will sigh a little sigh to herself. As a wave of anxiety washes over her, she will take a surreptitious side-long glance at the interview end of the room to see if she can still see her daughter. She will have to scan around, however, before she will find her now sitting at a round table with some other young people, apparently taking part in a discussion. Her expression will be pleasant and smiling, but Stella will know that she feels intimidated by this situation and another wave of anxiety will wash over her.

The young woman opposite will get up suddenly and, stuffing her book into her little leather backpack, rush out of the exit doors, smiling a brief farewell to her friend on reception. Stella will see her through the glass doors, rapidly unlocking her bike and wheeling it quickly across the road in the same direction as the group of young people. The bloke’s voice suddenly will then draw her attention back as he fires questions at the receptionist about some course that the girl he is with seems to be applying for. She will strain her ears to try to understand the situation being described and although she knows her imagination and prejudices are filling in the gaps, she will deduce that the young girl is trying to get onto a course that she is not really qualified for and that the bloke accompanying her thinks he can assist by being bullish and pushy. Stella will see the receptionist ask them to take a seat and then she will go through a door located in the wall behind Stella and be gone for some time, leaving the reception desk unattended.

Stella will scan the end of the room again to see how her daughter looks. She will catch her smiling and nodding as someone else speaks and then laughing at some remark another person makes. Stella will wonder if her daughter is really as relaxed as she looks and will decide to ask her as few questions as possible afterwards. Slightly to the right and over the other side of the waiting area, Stella will catch sight of the couple kissing and manhandling each other as they wait for the return of the secretary. Stella’s stomach will churn in response to this.

Some few minutes later, the secretary will emerge from the room behind her and go towards the canoodling couple. Simultaneously, the group interview session that Stella’s daughter is involved in will end and the students will stand, draw back their chairs and move back towards the interview area where they will have laid all their art work out at the beginning of the interview some half an hour ago. Stella will watch as her daughter, still listening to another student who is looking up at her and talking, shifts her tall frame elegantly as they negotiate the obstacle course that is composed of chairs and tables. Out of the corner of her right eye, Stella will notice the girl return to her reception desk and the bloke get up after kissing his girl. She will not have any difficulty hearing his booming voice explain to the receptionist that he has to leave now to attend an interview himself for a job in the area and will leave through the glass doors, waving at his girl who will now be hunched over herself, chewing her thumb nail. Stella’s stomach will churn once more at the sight of this.

After some indiscernible amount of time, Stella will see her daughter walking rapidly towards her, carrying her portfolio and the carrier bag full of sketchbooks. She will wear what Stella will recognise as a frozen smile on her face and Stella’s stomach will churn for the umpteenth time. Stella will rise and hold her hand out as if to take the bag of sketchbooks from her daughter, but her daughter will say no it’s ok she can manage and will lead the way out through the glass doors, barely stopping to say a brief thank you to the girl on reception.

Stella will follow suit and have to almost run to catch up with her daughter as she makes her rapid exit and heads off across the street, hardly looking for oncoming traffic. Once by her side, Stella will look side-long up at her daughter’s face and see the tears welling in her eyes. Come on, get me out of here, her daughter will say quietly and, Stella recognises, with suppressed anger.

These things take time to anatomise. As a parent you learn not to pry or to react too quickly. Well if you don’t, you’ll never get to understand anything at all. During the 180 mile drive home, Stella will talk about everything in the world except the interview. Her daughter will remain quiet and look out at the passing relentless monotony of the East Anglian countryside as they drive along the only road out of Norwich which is the endless A47. By the time they get to Sheffield, she might start talking about how posh and intimidating she found the woman who interviewed her. Stella will remember how admiringly the woman had gazed up at her tall and elegant daughter, but, of course, won’t reveal this memory to her daughter. And so the gradual unravelling of experience in parallel will unfold on the long journey home.

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