WAITING OUT THE FROST – A POEM

Writing

Ground level, voided earth

Bound to streaks of coppered clay,

Open hands of branches

Robbed by seasons,

Morphed emerald lime to bronze,

Still to be stripped by frost

on the heave of menthol lungs.

 

A cotton tundra rapes

The blue, holds sunlight

Stuck in smoke, its hue

Hazed static, wedged,

Boundaries of sky and stone;

The valley clasps, constricts,

Pulls tight, a duvet for

A child at night

Without blankets of stars,

Naked as the morning dew

That seeks to wet the scars,

Retreating past the

White damask

That coats tomorrows heart.

 

MY OTHER WRITING – HERE 

YOLK – A SHORT STORY

Writing

*

I promised myself that the days weren’t cold. Beyond the fabric cascades that covered the windows, I knew the sun was shining; I saw it once. Puddled deep into the cushions of my armchair, I meditated, tried to breathe as lightly as possible so I could catch each echo of birdsong that managed to slip into the room. They were symphonies; the music of a world unknown. Mother had gone. She always tried to go unnoticed, but I had learnt to listen for the slide of locks, and the faint patter as her boots struck against the stone steps that ran a spine down the garden. Then nothing.

I rose from my seat, my heart a war-drum, beating ever faster as I begged myself for courage, tiptoeing across the carpet, a ballet dancer, free. Pausing every few seconds, I listened for her return. The curtain was in reaching distance, I stretched to stroke each thread, woven thick like matted hair. I trembled; on the other side, the window lay, each pane of glass painted in coats of black so dark it seemed to bleed. I gasped. Through a pin sized hole, where the paint had somehow flaked away, a beam of gold shone, blazing. It did not seem real. Perhaps I was imagining.

My hand, pale as milk, hovered closer and closer; I stopped so near, a single slip would have thrown my skin into the light. The smallest hint of warmth began a fire in my chest. The bolt slid back on the door.

Flying across the room, fuelled by fear, I leapt onto my chair, immediately resuming a position of innocence. The curtain rolled with movement, a breaking wave that seemed to stop as soon as mother entered the room.

“Good morning.” I smiled. She placed her bags down, each one brimming with enough food to last for weeks, and kissed me delicately on my forehead.

“It’s ever so dark out there, Florence, you wouldn’t like it at all.”

*

I was not a hostage. She was not my captor.

“It’s not safe out there; remember how it killed your father.” She used to say, her eyes bursting with tenderness, glossed with tears of nostalgia. I embraced her, she draped her arms around me and sobbed quietly. Her skin was warm.

“I know, mother, I know.” I reassured, looking around the room. I knew every inch; the dust that settled upon the coffee table, the imprints, pits and falls, on cushions that still clung to the aroma of tobacco, the perfume of a man I could not remember, but loved all the same.

“It’s not safe out there.” She repeated, this time in whispered tones. Her head found safety in my collarbone.

*

They were happy, again. I did not know who ‘they’ were; they did not exist beyond the sounds of joy; faint shadows of laughter and muffled traces of names all burst through the bubble as if they had somehow morphed into a knife edge.

I felt tormented; other than mother’s, I could not recall a face that did not lay trapped within the paper prisons of pages. Sometimes, if I was particularly lucky, I could imagine the faint outline of their lips, or conjure a glimpse of their hair, flowing as they ran. They were not porcelain; they had seen the sun, bathed in it, I had even seen a photograph of a boy with skin as dark as the old mahogany desk that cowered in the corner of father’s office.

They had gotten louder, then stopped altogether. I wondered what had happened to them, whether they had become bored of their game and sulked their way home, or if they had run to the fields instead.

“Are you okay?” Mother asked; I had forgotten she was in the room.

“Yes.” I lied. The fire in my chest returned. I wanted to run, but not from her. I wanted to taste the air.

*

Her silhouette lay, morgue-still, with nothing but the hum of breath to prove she was alive. My hands were shaking as I reached over her sleeping form and fingered the keys from the bedside; she twitched, moaned some indecipherable lyric, and rolled onto her side. I froze, a statue of pallid complexion, a sinner in the darkness. I crept backward, soaking up the image of her face.

I felt strong as iron as I stepped into the night.

*

The woodland heaved with every lick of wind that ran a hand through the trees. There was rhythm to the madness that I could feel resonate deep through every bone; trunks swayed in synchronised ranks, leaves bristled in percussive harmony. I stopped running and dug my hand into the earth, letting the ochre clay run deep beneath my fingernails. Under the freckled cheek of stars, I marched on, upwards, rising, toward the mountain made of stone.

*

I had waited for hours at the top of the world. Below me, the valley stretched lazily into the horizon, and the damask of night began to slip away. I rose to my feet, anxious that the day would never come, furious at myself for ignoring the wisdom of my mother, who would soon realise I had abandoned the safety of her nest. I turned, ready to run, weeping, already practicing my apology, already envisioning the shock in her loving, dimpled face as I announced my return. Suddenly, I felt it filter through my tissue paper blouse and settle warmth across my back.

Turning, I watched in awe as the sun, big and bold and bright, rose a slow yolk over the boundary of the horizon. Glorious, unimaginable light oozed, heavy honey, across every atom of my being.

In an instant, I was gone. A feather, I floated skyward, swam in waves of azure blue; below me, the stone edge of the land stood perplexed, embarrassed by the way it could not rise. I made out the ant sized shape of my mother scrambling wildly to the crest, flailing her arms, screaming until her lungs began to ache.

I watched as the light touched her skin. She turned silent; we drifted together, weightless, under the medallion of the sun.

 

 

MY OTHER WRITING – HERE

NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS (IN OCTOBER)

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After my return from travelling, I had a long mental list of things I needed to change or do in order to get my life on track and achieve my aim of living beyond the age of 25; like most things, these are simply small adjustments to routines rather than monumental changes, as I find it much easier to adapt to a new way of life if it’s not too obvious how much I’m changing.

Firstly, I need to be healthier. I enjoyed the European lifestyle of wine, abundant food, and cigarettes, but my body didn’t, and thus I have pledged to eat healthier meals, run/exercise daily, and stop smoking. It’s actually quite encouraging writing this all down as it means I have the added pressure of keeping promises to you guys as well as myself, so thank you for being there to judge me. I threw my cigarettes out two days ago and currently don’t feel like throwing myself through a wall, so that’s a positive.

Secondly, I need to write more. After trawling through a few sites, I found out that I could write news articles and get some form of monetary compensation for them, so I now have a profile at Blasting News, which you can go to here. It would mean the world to me if you went and read a few of my pieces; I’ve written one about Saudi Arabia and women’s rights that I’m quite happy with, so check that out.

In addition to that, I have this blog for poetry, short prose, and travel posts, which I hope to continue to update on a daily basis, and my novel, which I’ve started to fully work on in recent days. Planning it has been quite fun and I’ve stumbled upon a way to make the plot so much more amusing than before; I don’t want it to stray too far into humour but I want to keep a balance of comedic action/depressing event; I’ve never particularly tried to be “funny” in serious work before, so I’ll have to see how that goes… I need to conduct a fair bit of research too, so I’ve had to send off a few emails and talk to a few people in order to set up a line of communication; I really hope this goes as well as I want it to, but I can only try my best, wait, and see.

I’d also love to get involved in some small scale poetry/fiction publications, so I have a few magazines I’m planning to try and get into, as well as a couple of online ones that have caught my eye. If you know of any good sites/great places to submit to (physical and digital) I would love for you to leave such information in the comment box below.

Anyway, I’m going to go and write an article about supermarkets wasting food instead of seizing the opportunity to help the homeless. I’m enjoying these little journalistic pieces; it’s a free pass to be as cynical and grumpy as I want (which might help with the lack of smoking). 

I’m working on something cool for here too, but that’s gunna take me a little while. I’ll upload some poetry soon.

Happy Writing;

Fred x

MY OTHER WRITING – HERE

 

PIXELS – A POEM

Uncategorized, Writing

Pixels portray an age of screens,

Vision envisioned through light

in flight from stars

long forgotten,

Projected are the neglected,

An emerald bosom bleeds

and weeps as hilltops burn to

scar the feet of those that learn

to yearn for peace,

They are whispers on the breeze.

Tarmac traps, grabs heavy hearts,

Soles of souls walk roads

that glow with golden

hopes promised,

Aspirations of a nation,

Instead young faces drown in fear,

Ears echo with the sound of jeers

that creep up closer ’till they’re near

to shape new paths and make it clear,

They are cracks of thunder.

Daylight draws a happy few,

Once idle eyes see skies of blue

they idolise the world they knew

from their age of screens,

blossom from the billboards

that try to mould their dreams,

and fly with might out of their plight

with truth so loud it screams.

SHORELINE OBSERVATIONS – A POEM

Uncategorized, Writing

Heartbeats of the coastline

waves echo

through the petals

of your skin.

Erode the rocks

the shells

the masks

in silent power, crash

white foam.

Under turquoise sky

darkness hides

in depths, unexplored

and drags like claws

across the sand.

Drown or swim

in moonlight skin

that ripples in my hand.

THE GREAT RETURN – 5/10/17

Blog, Uncategorized

One month ago, I was sick of this place. Nineteen years in the quiet isolation of the Peaks had led to a stagnancy of my appreciation and gratitude; if you were to be fed a Michelin star meal thrice daily, you would most likely lose all knowledge of its greatness with haste. I thought it was time for a change of menu, and ordered from the buffet section; 13 of Europe’s greatest cities, an ‘all-you-can-eat’ of splendour and awe served promptly on the drop down tables of 21 trains in 10 different countries. I was busy. I was privileged enough to see what many consider to be some of the most beautiful things on Earth, and appreciate them accordingly, yet I found something unusual stirring from my being. I was yearning to return.

Far from the cacophony of blaring horns and perpetual sirens, an age away from the hordes of tourists, weaving traffic and dirt riddled streets, lies the Peak District. My travels taught me a lot of things, most notably, that nothing is quite like the acres of ochre clay, deep soil, twisting rivers and emerald greens I am lucky enough to call home. It is a place that cannot be attributed as the creation of a genius artist, nor the design of a Renaissance master; it simply exists, eternal, in effortless glory.

Whether it’s the sharp frost of a winter morning or the rolling blues of summer skies, although I admit the latter is a bit of a rarity, it’s easy to lose a sense of reality when separated from the rest of the world by the great spine of the Edges that run goliath through the land. I used to detest this detachment with a passion, worried that I would be stuck here, trapped like a lamb behind a fence, yet now I see it for the blessing it really is; an offering of peace and tranquility, a bubble of serene independence.

I don’t think there is a single person raised in this landscape that could honestly claim to have not been moulded by it. As children, we enjoyed the freedom of space, adventuring into the woodlands, biking to the moors, building dens, lighting fires, seizing the opportunity to relive great battles with sticks and valour and learning to live with a grazed knee or bruised arm. The local farms taught us to respect wildlife and educated us about the intricacies of our food chain; their ethos on hard work and commitment to the land making them role models for those of all walks of life, regardless of future aspirations. As a writer, inspiration couldn’t get much easier to absorb; the magnificence of the land and the eclectic variety of the people ensure that there is always something to talk about, a story to tell; all I have to do is listen.

I have, after much deliberation, finally realised that no matter where I end up in this life, I will always have a home in the Peaks. I have no choice but to carry this place with me; it’s shaped who I am, how I think, and how I act, and has built loving communities with those around me. I suppose it’s true, after all, that the Derwent runs deep in our veins.

 

 

TRAVEL BY NUMBERS

Blog, Travel, Uncategorized

Here’s my one month trip around Europe summarised into numbers:

Days: 29

Countries: 10

Cities: 13

Trains caught: 21

Trains missed: 1

Steps walked: 409,271

Miles walked: 63.47

Books read: 5

Pictures taken: 3,943

Time on trains: 70hrs 8mins (2.9 days)

Novel ideas thought of: 

Poems written: 11 

Pizzas eaten: 12

Wallets lost: 1

Wallets found: 1 (thank God)

Series of ‘The Walking Dead’ watched: 3

Men seen shitting in the street: 1

Men seen pissing in the street: 5

Men seen talking to pigeons: 1

 

 

 

FINITO! – TRAVELLING DAY #24/5

Blog, Travel, Uncategorized

After a couple of nights in Florence without any sleep, we were so tired yesterday morning that we sunk regretfully into our beds until 13:00PM, yet without this monstrous rest we would have been unable to enjoy the day.

Our first stop was a 2 mile walk to “The National Roman Museum” ; it’s just outside the main train station so if you have some changeovers in Rome with an hour or two to spare, you could easily pop over the road to this cheap and interesting museum! There are three floors of frescoes, statues, mosaics, and sculpture, and it’s only EUR 3.50 for the entrance fee! I actually saw two exhibits here that are my favourite pieces of the whole trip; the first is entitled ‘The Boxer’, a statue of exceptional quality depicting a post-fight boxer resting his battered body. Sitting with his legs apart, his hands are clasped together and still in gloves, and the way in which he is positioned draws the viewer’s gaze to his face. He concentrates with intensity from empty eye sockets, his cheeks and eyebrows covered in blood, bruises, and scars. It reeks of the brutality of combat and is really a sight to see.

The second, and best, exhibit that I will mention is “The Portonaccio Sarcophagus”. Found in 1932, the piece shows the progress of Roman horsemen as they annihilate those in their path; in a collage of soldiers, spears and devastating blows, the sculpture seems to leap from its bounds and re-enact each swing of the sword, stab of the spearhead, and crush of the fist as if it’s happening before your eyes. It’s absolutely incredible, and will definitely be remembered for years to come as a highlight of the trip.

Next, we trotted off to the “Capuchin Crypt” . Now, this place has no end of regulations that I’ll list so you don’t get caught out like the woman in front of us: no camera, no phones, no bare shoulders, no shorts, no smoking, no food, no drink. Who says the Church isn’t fun, right? Anyway, after paying EUR 8.50, we walked through the small museum rooms depicting monk’s clothing, religious artwork, and other interesting exhibits relating to their lives. We, however, were there for more macabre reasons, and swiftly made our way to the crypt itself. When the monks arrived at this church in the early 1600s, they trucked 300 cartloads of deceased friars with them, and packed some 3,700 skeletal remains into arrangements contained within the burial crypt. It’s really, really fucking weird.

Apparently, according to the Church, it isn’t macabre but rather an uplifting demonstration of the passage between life and death. For the monks, who lived lives of poverty waiting to earn their reward of being with Christ, that may have been so, but don’t ask me to walk into a dark room of decorated skulls, pelvic bones, and all sorts of deathly imagery and expect it to raise me up into some ecstatic state of freedom. It’s definitely worth visiting, as I suppose everyone will respond in different ways, but I found it a tiny bit unsettling, a tiny bit amusing (I have no idea why), and extremely interesting nonetheless. In the final crypt a sign, in five languages, declares: “What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be…” Spooky.

After a little stroll about the place, we wanted some dinner and a good night out, finding both at “The Meeting Place”. This is one of my favourite night spots and was rammed with students dressed up for a fun night of drinks and food; their menu of cocktails, beers, and wines is given to you as a newspaper, and after ordering two glasses of Old Fashioned, we paid our EUR 10 each to access the buffet and cracked on with dinner. Forget the image of lukewarm shitty food in dirty bowls, this buffet was amazing; one corner held a sushi chef creating eleven different types of sushi and sashimi, which all tasted divine, and led to a bar top counter with paella, fresh pizzas, cold wheat salads, cold rice salads, pastries, and pasta. Everything was of amazing quality and prepared on the spot, and after a few runs we were stuffed.

After a couple of hours, there was barely room to move. The students had descended in their hoards and turned the spot into a vibrant space of conversation, drinks, and good music; if you want a few cocktails in a brilliant environment, then I’d definitely recommend going. Cocktails are about EUR. 8 each, and there’s even a room selling cigarettes in there if that’s something you’d need.

Today, I woke up to find out my dog had died, so wasn’t feeling too adventurous. As luck would have it, Jacob was also feeling pretty tired, so we’ve sauntered around in the sun, read our books, and had a bit of decent grub, ready for the two days of 12 hour trains that begin tomorrow, and will result in us being home.

It’s been an amazing month, it really has, and I’ll be posting some summaries and reflections as soon as I can. You guys have helped us find some incredible nights out, fantastic restaurants, and enjoyable day trips, so I can’t thank you enough. Special homage paid to Rebecca as she’s travelled near enough everywhere and is a walking encyclopaedia when it comes to this stuff. Check out her blog!

Ciao! 

Fred x 

MY DOG HAS DIED 

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Hello there bloggers and esteemed guests; my travel blog from yesterday will be posted slightly later than planned due to me receiving news my beloved Dog Truffle has died this morning. She’s been with me since I was 5 years old and was the friendliest chum I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. 

She went peacefully and without pain, and she’s given me a lifetime of love and memories. 💖