Thursday, 28 February 2013

Traditional Norms

I'm not going to lie, I didn't think I was going to make it through the poem today. While it may seem like I have hours and hours of time to frivel (is that a word? The verb form of frivolous? Well, I have a degree in English Language so consider it COINED) away, that isn't always the case. I'm a well serious writer me, with a job and everything, and this week has turned out to be rather busy. So I make no apologies for the strangeness of this piece. I feel like it's more of a two parter - I'm leaving you on a cliffhanger...OOOOOOO! Aren't I AWFUL?! Yes, in many ways I am. But aren't we all?


The Key

Upon disembarking the aircraft,
it was decided that we should
take luncheon on the runway.
Life is lived by the caboose
and we weren’t about to forget it.

The cold hard fist of the morning
had just broken open, showering us
with the long fingers of the sun.
Luncheon consisted of lightly battered egos
and a good selection of tapas;

we were growing more continental
with every minute that engulfed us.
Soon the white cliffs would be nothing more
than an infamous smudge of ice cream
across a naughty schoolboy’s sweater.

“I say,” I said. “Isn’t that Margot?”
And so it was. She floated across the tarmac
like some hideous dream of Hollywood,
waving and laughing for the paps
(also an ancient word for “breast”).

“Raspberries!” Margot said, ruffling
her turgid white hair with a neat,
leather-bound hand. A small key,
no bigger than a pine nut, fell out
and landed next to my foot.

Margot winked, like a jazz baby
is bound to do, and I leant down to retrieve it.
Before I could ask what it opened,
Margot was swept up on the wing of a plane
bound for St Moritz.

“Be careful with that,” said Wilkes.
“Life is all about opening a cupboard
and finding an old jar of cinnamon
when all you wanted was dried parsley.
Why not consider growing your own herbs?”

“Wilkes,” I said. “If I didn’t know better,
I’d say you were in love with old Margot.”
Wilkes turned into a sun blushed tomato.
Naturally I ate him and thought nothing of it.
But what of this dratted key, I ask you!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Joel Was A Legend

Hold up! What would you do? Get on my feet and stop makin' tired excuses! 

YEAH! That's what I'm talkin' 'bout. (Points if you get the above quote without checking.) Here is day 15's effort. FYI, some of these poems obviously still need tweaked, so any suggestions anyone has would be most welcome!

Peace OUT.


We have arrived at a destination
that no one quite expected.
The bus comes to a smoky halt
and we are invited to disembark,
taking with us the scrunched up
crisp packets and the scent
of the travellers’ unrest.

The driver, a good man on the whole;
balding but hiding his vexation;
will not be joining us.
He must go with the bus,
like a faithful hound trailing his master
as his master practices dying.
Just you and I for exploration today then, dear.

What are we looking for?
Why did we come?
A goldcrest chirrups,
a plucky little kinglet bothering the branches.
You fear you have packed too much
for a day’s jaunt just out of town,
I can see it in your face.

Something about the way you awkwardly hold
the straps of your backpack like two kite strings
caught in a strong drag.
Pass out the sandwiches, dear, let’s relax.
No mayo for you though,
you’re avoiding white foods.
Tell me about your blood pressure,

I’m dying to hear; so are the woods,
from what I can tell.
They are quiet for this audience with you,
the river running at half-speed,
the eggs not yet hatched to interrupt
with their cries of instant hunger.
The floor is yours in this moment, dear.

Later, as darkness draws over us
like a child with a thick black marker,
we walk, hand in hand towards the bus stop
hating one another more and less than before.
The lights sprout up over the crest of the hill
like two irrational hairdos
and we are pricked back into existence.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Compromise During Development

Howdy partners and non-stereotypical inhabitants of the Wild West and otherwise!

Welcome to Day 14. Today I've written a poem about one of my greatest obsessions in life, SPIES. It's not the first and darn-heck sure it won't be the last, but it may be the only one in this little collection I'm putting together. Ha, who am I trying to kid? There's no plan here, I just start with the first sentence and work my way out. Here you go!


We’d been out solving mysteries.
The falcon looped with the wind
and we fell, dextrosed into our briefcases.
It was the passion we’d been waiting for.

A red fox hid in the hotel room,
his paws a mess of street dust.
He said, “Find the raven and rule the world,”
and then jumped out of the window.

We made love on a typewriter,
continually banging out the word Babstock
on the well-worn keys.
It was the signal they were waiting for.

The crash came with a severing of limbs.
“Tomorrow isn’t for the zealous sultan,” you said.
“Every dagger will have its day,” I replied.
And then it was over.

The echo of a tear reaches me years later
as I sit within the walls of my generous pension.
At night the red fox comes through the thicket
and we dance together in the gap of you.

Monday, 25 February 2013

If You Do Not See The Image

Ugh, writing is really haaaaard. As well as writing all this darned poetry, I'm working on a novel into the bargain. It proving mentally exhausting to switch between the two forms day in, day out. So eat your heart out, people who *think* they have a hard life - I'm living it right here!

There might be some wee photographs to go with tomorrow's effort, but for today, it's just the words. Tell your friends! Or don't, because no one CARES!

On Failure

I’ve been eating pistachio nuts
as a way of coping.
I read somewhere
that they have calming properties,
like nuns on buses.

Life is all about finding a place.
I found my place in a musical score;
tomorrow I’ll take you there.
But you can’t tell anyone,
because they’d get all neural about it,

and I don’t have time for rational intrusions.
I’m not going to lie to you,
I’ve been lying to you all these years.
Calm days don’t just walk out of the ether,
you have to find them.

Generally, they hide in unopened eggs
and words you haven’t said yet.
Like splomorphia, which is a word I just made up.
The pile of pistachio shells increases.
We’re never getting out of here, are we, Pogo?

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Diseases Recorded

Just back in from moving all my stuff from not quite one end of the country to nowhere near the other end. I'm tired and feeling ill (someone has given me yellow fever or some such thing, though I'm neither yellow or feverish). So here's a poem about those things, but it has nothing to do with real life, really. I mean, for crying out loud, who acts like this?? The answer is all of us; we are all selfish, idiotic morons who act like this.

And so to bed on that cheerfully insulting note.

Home from Hospital
People just have no control nowadays,
when it comes to selecting a sandwich.
All these sanctimonious bits of lettuce
really wear me down.

Before I was allowed in, I stood
in front of the vending machine,
the cool blue glow making a fool out of me
as our minutes ticked by.

It wasn’t really my idea of a good time;
talking through glass
about why your socks weren’t right.
But you seemed to enjoy yourself

enough for me to forgive you, briefly.
In the curve of the steering wheel,
I see your eyebrow, arched and boring.
You’re weak, just like everybody else.

All this talk of pinheads and colonies is driving me mad.
What’s dust got to do with it?
Haven’t we seen enough exits to last a lifetime?
Why don’t these words make any sense?

When you put your hand up to the glass,
your fingerprints re-enacted my face,
as they always do when I’m feeling sad.
Talk about dramatic.

In the darkness, the mountains
look like despondent slugs.
I lean out of my car window and shout,
“Good luck getting any lettuce from me, ASSHOLES!”

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Long-Term Physical Effect

I've finally had time to sit and write properly this afternoon and this is what I came up with. You may find it a little strange, I'm not going to lie. I mean, why would I? It's not like I murdered anyone, is it? I don't know, you tell me, you're the one accusing me of fraud!

Ohhhh you make your own judgements. That's what you like best isn't it? You bunch of hypocrites! 


Varied Evidence

“Legs seem to have a way of catching up with you. Whether you’re flying coach or club, you can guarantee they’ll be there, documenting your ever move. In looking at this case, we have to remember the facts.”

“It wasn’t like I was hoping for a bad time. And I didn’t know she was allergic to parrots. That kind of thing doesn’t tend to come up in conversation with casual acquaintances. We danced regardless of it all though, until the point of her collapse.”

“When a person looks at you like that, it’s not easy to look away. The eye is a powerful tool, and hers was salted with assaults, both given and received. Someone cracked one open once and a children’s TV character came out. His catchphrase was, ‘Where’s my dignity?’”

“A secretary’s primary function is to keep secrets. Second to that is the practice of eating biscuits and third is passive aggressive deer stalking. She was proficient in all of these areas. I never understood why she didn’t become a secretary.”

“We have a duty to inform the world of our favourite type of shoe, as well as our preferred method of dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome. When paraesthesia sets in, there’s nothing left to do but make like our ancestors and sew our way out of the situation.”

“In my honest opinion, I would say the meringues were undercooked. The party was ruined. People don’t like raw egg whites any more than they like raw emotion, so why didn’t she ensure that the meringues were cooked right through?”

Friday, 22 February 2013


Today's poem, at request and with a tiny bit of help from a man known as Tom. It's a haiku...because I've been busy. Also, I realise I got muddled up with my this is now day 10.


Some days I feel like
a power station. Some days
I feel like a noose.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Not Even an Introduction

I don't even have a title today, or the will to finish it properly. Now that I've been indulged with a social life again, I can't keep up with the intense demands I've put on my psyche. But I don't expect anyone else to either, and that's why I'm running for Mayor next season. But also, this is a lie. End monologue. 

I start the day sneezing.
There’s nothing like it
to wrench your chest open
and expose your heart
to the cool wind of the morning.

In the milk light
time passes at double urgency.
My mouth makes its way
around various seed compounds
and my pancreas smiles.

I’m getting ready for something big.
We all are. There are songs about it
written inside toilet cubicles,
songs so cryptic that cracking them
would crack the egg at the centre of the earth

and then we’d be sunk, for sure.
But what’s it all about, Alfie?
I don’t know, and this poem
Is proving to be a lot more difficult
to finish that I thought it would be.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Complete Relevance

Evening all...or any of the very few people still reading this epic poetry journey I'm making. Yeah, I know guys, calm down! Poetry is awesome and really a real thing in the public eye! I get that what I'm doing is really stirring shit up here, but just deal, yeah?

No recycled poems today, this is brand new and coming at your eyeballs like the wrong side of a flashlight. Bonsoir!

The Mulberry Initiative

Upon examination the body was found
to contain deeply coded messages
etched onto the shadowy curves of the joints.

They had been written while the body was still alive,
but it’s unlikely to have caused any pain.
We can say things like that, because we actually don’t know anything.

When the bones were cracked open,
seventeen knitting needles were extracted
from their tubular innards.

There are teams working around the clock,
knitting an exact replica of the Coso Range.
In doing this, we hope to find freedom,

at which point, it will be hefted into boxes
shaped like catamarans. These boxes
will be burnt while spectators sing about falling off chairs.

The heart and lungs of the body
were bought by an anonymous bidder,
who chose to pay with their own heart and lungs.

The transaction was carried out online
and the delivery has yet to be received
due to a postal strike over font disputes –

many postal workers are offended
by the use of Times New Roman,
citing it as “old-fashioned”, “ageist” and “racist”.

The trial continues.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

At the Carnival

Dear all...

I'm afraid I've had to cheat a bit today because I'm so bloody busy...this is not an entirely new poem. Well, it's actually not new at all. At least not to me. It SHOULD be new to all of you though, and that's what's important, to me at any also means I can go out and get my love on with Alex, who writes a super sassy blog over at Inferior Design.

Please try to enjoy this, despite my betrayal - I've chosen this poem especially to highlight it. I appreciate your pity. 

Old Friend

My friend and I were friends for a long time. We grew up together in a shanty town just outside London. Not many people knew of its existence and the air of collusion that wove its way through the streets seemed to bind the residents irrevocably.

I’m flicking through the old photographs of us. Me, dressed as a bald man with a limp; she laid on a towel in the rain pretending it’s summer. It causes me a certain pain to remember what happened; pain just below the jugular, as though there’s a small man in there, opening tin cans and throwing the lids around with little regard for his surroundings.

For a long time my friend had acted strangely, pursing her lips when she saw me coming and speaking only in pound coins when I said hello. She started dating an old sea captain from the 1600s. When I tried to tell her it was an impossible relationship, she said, “When the witch watches the walkers in the woods, the woods won’t wake for the walkers.” When I told her I didn’t understand, she laughed and called me a philistine.

The day was June 16th 1972. I knocked on my friend’s door and asked if she’d like to come out for some Estonian street food. “I can’t,” she said. “I’ve fallen into a deep depression. The ocean of my despair will drown you.”

“I’m a good swimmer,” I said.

“Not good enough,” she muttered. Behind her, I could see a dinner party going on with an empty place, just big enough for her to fill. I took our friendship from around my neck and put it in a small cardboard box shaped like a mausoleum. “Bring this back to me when you feel like you want to talk.”

Sixteen years later I saw the box in a charity shop. I opened it and found it empty but for a few blades of grass, which acted as a perfect metaphor for the knives now lodged so firmly in my back. I called my friend on her old number.

“Hello?” she shouted over the Carnival of Betrayal going on in the background.

“It’s me,” I said.

“It was never you,” she replied before putting the phone down like a cancer-ridden Labrador.

I head out into the garden with a box marked old stuff from the past you’ve tried to forget and put it into the hole I dug with my hands last night. Six parts petrol, one part match and the smoke is waving its farewell into the evening.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Return of the Swing

Hey hey hey hey heyyyyyyy! I am....almost drunk. Because I'm back in Edinburgh this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh yeah, for anyone that didn't know, I left Edinburgh. Did I mention that earlier this week? WHO KNOWS?? Not me, for one. Point proven.

Anyway, I'm back and I'm excited and happy. As promised yesterday, today's poem is not dark. But it's not exactly see through. Let's go with playfully opaque. But you know, when you've read it, I think you'll agree, we've all been there.

"Love From" and all that vajazzle.

On Arguing

Due to unforeseen circumstances,
I’m hiding in my swanky inner-city
apartment loft conversion.
Franco, my churro-lipped lover
is standing outside the door shouting,
“Mamacita! Mamacita! Let me in!”

“Go away, Franco,” I shout back.
We had an argument tonight
about the political impact of the burrito
in modern society.
He believes we can improve government
one pinto bean at a time.
I think there’s already enough sour cream there
to last a lifetime.

I pull back the curtains and inspect the city.
Opposite me, a cat pops his head out of the window.
“Where’s my Vera?” he calls.
“Where’s my pig?”

I know that cat,
he plays bass in a jazz band.
His slap is as violently persuasive
as a TV infomercial.
“They’re dead and buried, Johnny,” I say.
“We ate tiny sandwiches at their wake, remember?”

Johnny stares at me for a long time.
Eventually a tear ekes from his eye.
In it, a tiny sandwich evokes itself.

Franco bangs on the door
in an insistent club anthem.
I find myself lost in ecstasy
and everything is forgiven
in the sweaty embrace of its whirlwind
so I let him in again.
As Johnny has taught us,
life is too short for political debate
amongst ourselves
and the Mexicans we’re in love with. 

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Particular Activity

Hello and welcome to Day FOUR of your life.

I often like to listen in to other people's conversations when I'm on the bus and such like and today's poem is based on a little conversation I overheard. I've elaborated on most (all) of it. I was going to write a longer introduction, but Casualty is on now, so that's IT.


“I’ve seen a lot of things,”
said the girl on the bus,
talking to her girlfriends.
“Too many things
as far as most people are concerned.
I once saw a wasp stinging a pig’s teat.
It was poignant,
but I got over it.
I come from good stock.
I’ll not be sent out as glue.”

The bus was clear, light.
It was filled with summer endings,
there was a scent of Soltan factor 5.
“When I get married,
I want everything to reek of perfection.
If anyone spoils it,
I will have them slaughtered;
brutally and immediately.”

Their bags were stuffed
with bridal accoutrements.
When one of the friends
reached up and scratched her arm,
the other said, “Don’t do that,
you’ll ruin yourself before my big day.”

“And another thing,” she continued.
“If you wear a yellow dress
with a white cardigan,
you’ll look like a child.
I don’t want you to look like a child
when I get married;
that would be ridiculous,” she said,
painting fast food icons
onto her fingernails.

“This wedding should be like a Range Rover:
as unnecessarily large as possible.
I want this wedding
to make us look small and insignificant,
so we can grow together
throughout the marriage.”

She held out her hand
and admired her artistry.
“I’ve stared at other people’s food
for a long time.
Somehow it doesn’t seem real
unless I’m the one eating it.
That’s how I know,
I’ll make the perfect wife.”

When they got off the bus,
they left the day behind, the sun dipping
under the Earth’s eyelid,
into the strange milk of twilight.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Fossil Records

Hey gang! 

Welcome to day 3, which for most of you is almost over, though for some is just beginning. And that's the point I'd like to run with in my poem for the day...BEGINNING. Now I'm not really one for evolution; we all know the dinosaur bones were just an elaborate rouse hewn of plaster of Paris, and that lobster eyes hold the key to the secrets of intelligent design...SO here's my take on the early days of one of the creatures we share the Earth with. Can't be that far off, can it?

A Brief History of the Long-Toed Salamander

It started with a nubbin,
black and slovenly.
And then it rained.
In the water
there were little pockets
filled with dollar bills.

The nubbin went to Macy’s
and bought two pairs
of snazzy boots,
proclaiming them to be
the hot dammin’est boots
it ever did see.

It paraded through the sagebrush plains,
basking in the attentions of the sun.
“Hot damn,” said the sun.
“Ain’t you just a surprise.”
And with that,
the nubbin gained sneak skills.

In the winter
the nubbin stored food on its back;
tins of Spaghetti-O’s and pineapple slices.
So heavy were they
that the nubbin crawled to a cave
and collapse with exhaustion.

When it awoke,
the tins had melted
into a neat black tail
and the glistening spoon of a head
that perfectly matched
those darling bootees.

Nowadays the nubbin works in a meat factory.
Inflation makes prancing about in the sand
a difficult buck to hang onto.
At night it opens up a can of Budweiser,
puts on its boots
and shoots a gun at the television,

thinking about the desert,
wishing it would rain again.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Day known as One

Hello chums!

In a break with tradition, I've decided to do a bit of serious blogging for the next wee while. A thought occurred to me today as I sat puzzling over what to give up for Lent. Having already gorged on sweets and having used Facebook and my phone just as much as usual, I thought, "Hey Marianne (which is my real name for those of you who don't know me - fun fact #1, this is the first time I've said it...on this blog, not ever in my life), why give something up, when you could in fact TAKE something up, like writing a new poem on your blog every day for 40 days? You know, it might help you in your plight to become a serious poet. Or it might alienate all your avid followers who only tune in to hear you mock and belittle this wonderful world we live in, but isn't that what Lent is all about?" And I thought, "Yes, Lent IS all about alienation and poetry! I WILL write a poem every day on my blog and try to force people to read them!"

So there you have it folks, for the next 40 days I'm going to -try- and post a new poem here on the Rattle Bag (fun fact #2: The Rattle Bag is a 1982 anthology of poetry edited by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney and is obviously where I took the name for my beloved blog all those years ago. See, I AM really into poetry after all). There may or may not be drawings photographs along the way, only time will tell. Right now, my graphics tablet camera and I have been separated, so you'll be gettin' a whole lotta nuthin' for the next wee while at least.

Anyway, HERE IS POEM NUMBER 1. Appreciate it, or else.

On Going Back

I have found patterns
woven on these pages
enough to paper a wall
and call it nouveau.

I’ve been hiding amongst them.
I sit, lonely as a bowl of trifle
after all the children have vomited
and gone home.

I don’t want anyone to see me
like this; a cherry pip
with its flesh chewed off.
History has planed away my armour,

and every vein in every finger
lies open now like some ancient burial ground
uncovered by diggers
and optioned for a show on Discovery UK.