The Nature Of Things

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What a treat I have for you today! A longer lyrical prose piece by Hull writer Julie Corbett, which just blew me away when I read it. I so hope you enjoy it too.

Undated Memoir

Yesterday I met a man at the bus stop, exchanged pleasantries,

as we waited. His bus arrived before mine. I resumed thinking

about mud, not soil, although my mud is a mixture of top soil

and boulder clay. The man lived at the coast; a town protected

by sea defences, concrete, Norwegian larvikite and hard wood

groynes. He was taking some new curtains home, in my bag

more library books. He didn’t show me the photos on his phone,

prehistoric forest, black twisted limbs stretched out to salty air.

 

Today I go out to tea, to meet my friend, who gives me a book.

A poetry collection about sheds. My mind strays backwards,

back to mud and forks and trenches and worms. Amazing worms,

not clagged by stickiness of clay. I guess they have a dubbin-like

layer of special lubricating slime, effective in bone- dry compost

as well. My friend is recovering from serious illness, plans visits

to all the people, she didn’t get to last year.  We drink three pots

of tea, talk about choirs, turbans, sarcomas and hair growth rates.

 

Tomorrow will be its odd, slipping self, arriving as it becomes

today, slipping to the past as breath clears the lips. I worry

about weather, not climate change. I worry about the texture

of the land I dig to plant potatoes and herbaceous borders.

Sometimes I will ask my father for his opinion or for advice.

He is dying from a complex blend of life and love and work,

fused with asbestosis and removed tumours. I enjoy waking

before my alarm to car noises and birdsongs from the street.

 

By contrast, mine is a ridiculous piece of (strictly-speaking, inaccurate) doggerel about Roman poet Lucretius and his treatise on Epicurean philosophy, called ‘The Nature of Things’. Obviously.

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Seafood Handbag

First week done! Thank you if you’ve read along every day with my Brigida Baltar prompts – I’m going to take a short break after this one to offer you a review of a new poetry pamphlet from Ink Sweat & Tears, so please stay tuned. And if you’d like to write something of your own in response to any of the remaining prompts, please do, and please send it to me to be featured! (imeldasays at gmail dot com)

In the meantime, here’s another prose/poem/flash thing from my notebook of experiments.

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Bonus features! A very short and wicked story from Iain Rowan:

A seafood handbag works like this.

First you take an old bag you might not miss – you know, in case of leaks – and line it with a freezer bag – you know, to try and stop the leaks – and then you fill it full of frozen prawns. Fold the plastic over, and close your bag up tight, because you don’t want to be chased by cats, or at least not tonight.

Then when you’re at the dinner party, you smile sweetly like you don’t know what she has done to you and every time you excuse yourself to the bathroom you open up your seafood handbag and you push those tiny prawns:

in the little cracks in their wooden stairs
where you can bend the panel under the bath back just a little
inside the brass curtain pole on the landing
to rest on the wooden frame at the back of the pictures of Degas ballerinas on the stairs
in that hidden hollow behind the pedestal of the graceful sink
deep into the dish of scented pinecones
between the slats of the bathroom extractor fan
under that edge of hall carpet that lifts just so

and at the end of the night you say goodnight like you still don’t know what she has done to you and you complement her on how lovely her house smells and is it those Jo Malone sticks and she says yes, lime basil and mandarin, I’ve always felt it’s so important that a house smells lovely, and you smile and say yes, you’ve always thought so too.

And this little gem from Lisette Auton

If my accessories were made of food I should never be scared of hunger, but fearful of the scorn of supermarket staff when I need to buy another bag as I wipe the remains of mine from the corner of my mouth

And this tongue-in-cheek piece from Ann Cuthbert

Fishing for more compliments? Feel your style’s become a bit washed up?

Surfacing on the trendscape, winkling its way into Mega-influencers’ wardrobes, what Instagram is going starfish-eyed about – The Seafood Handbag.

Warm the cockles with a range of classic maritime-cuisiney styles:

The oversized bait-bucket bag is scuttling sideways off the shelves. Boiled lobster pink’s a best seller or, for something just as shiny but with a grittier edge, get it in oystershell.

Social media won’t clam up about Fruit de Mer’s cross-body jellyfish purse in pulsating purple (£315) while Sushi’s fishtail multi-porpoise tote (£795) is to krill for with scalloped storage pockets, appliqued sequin shrimps and crispy kelp handles.

Don’t want to shell out quite so much?

Mariscos do a version, cheap as moules frites but just as style conch-ious, at £21.99.

So you don’t need to be the abalone one without one this season. Go net the Seafood Handbag today.

More pun-tastic fun from Caroline Walling! I hope you enjoy all the contributions here. Tune in on Monday for tales and poems ‘In Search Of The Miraculous’.

Cod you do with another bag, not just another bag but a bag like no other that you have ever had? 

This deep bag, cool blue, sea green, crystal edged, foam white, crisp tight bag. 

You can clam it securely and the scaled-up pockets make it just right for the important things.

Beach side, pool side, town or city this bag is the life and sole of the party

You’ll look quite a catch, carrying this bag!

Crab some style and nip over to our website or shops

So, you can net yourself one of the best served bags in town!

Body Nostalgia

Prompt 3 of 30, and I’m offering an alliterative brain-blurt, which was the best I could manage. In fact, I also very nearly managed to finish a short story for this prompt, but as prose is not my metier I ended up bogged down and paralysed. So – bouncing out with a bit of babble was my way to get back on track.

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And the ever-game Lisette Auton sent me one for number three as well – I can relate…

I mourn the lost body. I berate the folds and jiggles. Yet when I see a photo from before I think I looked beautiful then. Why can’t I think I look beautiful now?

Big thanks to Bernie McAloon for this snippet.

She considers this from another angle
until thoughts that escape from dresses
are suspended in stockings hanging
from the breast of a mantel.

Plus get a load of this flash-y beaut from Denise Sparrowhawk!

“Oh wow! Vintage! Can I try them?”  She watches covertly, as her daughter slides easily into the faded 501s and twirls for effect, hands on slim hips. “Perfect! Can I keep them?”. Without looking her mother nods, pushing away unwelcome thoughts of blue jeans days and the memory of thinner thighs.

Mary’s Flour

Time for reactions to prompt number two. Remember, you can still join in and send me something, we have 28 more prompts to feature 🙂

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Here’s a lovely response from Julie Easley:

They dissed Mary’s flour
said it tainted the fancies
but Mary didn’t care
for their sour responses
She flavoured her flour
with the decadent essence
of feminist spice mixed
with a pinch of opportunity.
Some choked on the power
of Mary’s floury produce
their taste buds unable
to swallow and savour
the equalising strength
of her sweet sisterly ingredients.
Plus a small, fierce statement from Lisette Auton, nut allergy sufferer

Mary’s flour does not say categorically whether it is made with gluten nor if it contains nuts.

Mary needs to work on her labelling.

 

And here’s a tiny little poem from me!
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Pleas be sure to go and see the photograph by Brigida Baltar currently on exhibit from the Middlesbrough Collection at MIMA, until the end of March.

Air From Other Planets

Just over a week ago I published a list of bizarre creative writing prompts that arose from some experiments made as part of my writing residency at MIMA. I asked people if they’d like to send me their poems and flash in response. To my delight, several brave souls have done!

So, here is the first of 30 posts where I will share my response to the prompt (in Instagram slides), and also a bunch of stuff by other people. Here’s the first prompt:

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I was reading ‘Changing Planes’ by Ursula le Guin when I started working on this, so I was influenced by her format of multiple very short stories all presented as travel guides to other planets/dimensions. My short writings came out as advertising blurbs.

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Here’s another approach from Lisette Auton

Is mars air coloured red?

Will it glaze my lungs in flames?

One way to find out…

And here’s another two pieces from me! If you’d like to have your flash, poem or micro-poem included in the next blogs, take a look at the prompts and email me something to imeldasays at gmail dot com. Cheers!

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And I almost forgot to add this fun piece from Rob Walton!

I was pure shocked to read in the paper about the big mountain of bloated bird corpses in Kent.
I said to Ken, I said, I said,
“Can it, can it, can it really be that there’s a mountain of dead gannets
grossly rotting on a beach on the Isle of Thanet?”
“Aye, well, you know what it is,” said Kenneth.
“They’d had enough of the poor air quality down there, so one of them – I think it was Little Jeffrey – went online and bought air from other planets. Turns out it was a bad batch. Cut with something or other.”
“Oh, that’s, I mean, that’s terrible. That’s such a shame. A crying shame.”
“Aye,” said Kenny. “Mind, they’re only gannets.”

Dinbych by Stella Wulf

Please click here for an audio recording of Stella’s wonderful poem.

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Stella Wulf hails from Wales but now lives in France with her husband and a menagerie of critters. She has spent her life restoring ruins and is yet to live in a house that’s finished. Her poems have appeared in Obsessed With Pipework, The High Window, Raum, Prole, Ink Sweat & Tears, Rat’s Ass Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, and many others. They have also been included in several anthologies: The Very Best of 52, three drops, Clear Poetry Anthology, and #MeToo. She has an MA in Creative Writing, from Lancaster University.

Utterly Otterly!

BathtubOtters

Hi there cutey lutraphiles! As some will have heard from my social media trumpets, all is going ahead with my second collection of poetry, Utterly Otterly! Containing poems and illustrations by Yours Truly, all otter-themed, many ludicrous. Also containing the writing prompts I was working from, and my excuses for why I ended up doing something else instead.

You too can pre-order a book, which will be published and sent out in October. You could even fund me further by ordering a print of Otters In The Bathtub (above), or a bespoke otter of your very own! Simply follow this link to my GoFundMe page, which will remain open for donations/pre-orders until we go to press in around 6-8 weeks time.

My mother’s eyesight

437926-contact-lensNew poem for you, should you fancy a shufty. This one was written a few days ago whilst on a Wolf At The Door writing retreat at Dhanakosa (the anchoring place of my spirit). It’s about my mother searching for lost contact lenses, something that seemed to happen on a daily basis through my childhood, although she swears it was a rare occurrence. Years (and soft contact lenses, and bifocals) later, my unearthed memories of this once-commonplace activity came back to me like hallucinations.

Contact Lens

My mother is blinking like an owl treading water.

She has spatchcocked her palms, is strip-searching

the carpet, patting the sofa down, looking for her sight.

 

The world, transparent and the size of her pinkie-tip,

has fallen out of her eye and now, out of malice,

it will not be found. Or worse, it has sailed away,

 

intrepid coracle, to the dark side of her eyeball.

She tents her lid by its guy-rope lashes. I see inside her

it’s as red as a desert noon. A morbid rolling

 

hoves the fugitive into view. Retrieved, she lathers it

with spitwash, pinions again her Clockwork Orange eye,

and deftly launches the tissue-thin glass bowl. It floats,

 

meniscus on meniscus, world upon world.

Ekphrastic – Agglomerations by Chun Kwang Young

images-1When the madness of the Edinburgh Fringe gets too much for me each August, I pop into art galleries to rest my brain from words. I especially like Dovecot Studios on Infirmary Street, which this year was hosting an exhibition of incredible mixed-media constructions by Korean artist Chun Kwang Young. Here’s a sort of prose-poem response to the exhibition – because you can run from words, but you can’t hide…

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The master works on a cosmic scale. For brushstrokes read boxes, that are not boxes, but triangles of polystyrene clothed in paper. Mulberry fibre, mulberry twine, twisted by assistants, legions wrapping landfill in nostalgia. Medicine packages, tincture of indigo, tinted taupe, dappled with the boxy characters of Korea, swaddled by the acolytes. He chooses the ones whose half-moon nail-beds please him, clean and cool-fingered even in August, blotchlessly cornerfolding crisp, crisp yet downy, the myriad boxes crawl, large and small and smaller, stutter over canvases, mothsoft rubbleheaps, rust-bled stains on the pre-silk, charred impact craters in among the chorus of paper-bandaged apices. In the master’s mind, immense moons of ice revolve in the open space of international galleries. What does it matter, the boys bickering girlsoft at the trestles, but the amiable static of the atelier? Their fingers are white moths, opening and closing. They all eat kimchi with their plain white rice. Their beauty depends on such interlaced tensions.

Ekphrastic project – James Cowie’s ‘The Yellow Glove’

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Oh my dear, it was too, too dreadful!

Mortal mind can scarce conceive –

At least, not yours, darling Vi,

Yours would have shrunk. Violets do shrink,

It’s an immutable law, like death, or gravity,

Or who sits to the left of the Bishop.

“Bother immutability” that silly boy would say,

And therein lies the drastic horror of the thing,

For Pongo positively pushed it this time!

Doubtless the dear old Duchess toot sweet

Snipped him merrily from the Will, singing

“Cold porridge to primogeniture!” So you see,

I simply had to pop back the jolly old ring

And hoof it hotfoot before the bean began blubbing.

It’s a rotten sausage, but there it is.

Now, do try one of mine – they’re Turkish.