Sunday, December 16, 2012

Everything - Part 2

You left a trail of crumbs. Birds ate it, but I saw a path in the formation in which they took to the skies. Thank you, I will find my way now...

... I doubt if I will be able to tell you everything, but what little I do tell you might feel like everything, if you read it in the right way... Will that make it enough?

There are infinitely more answers locked up in the puzzle that is the average human soul, than there is in the world... but sometimes you have to go somewhere or do something in the world, to be able to juggle the secret codes of the soul in the right combination...

... Maybe that is why we tell each other stories and sing each other songs... in the hope that their echoes and their reflections might lead us to the sudden recognition of clues...

If there is a treasure, it is nearly always in your own backyard... By all means, buy a map, but do not forget that you will most likely do most of your digging back home...

And remember this... gold seldom looks like gold when it is first brought to the surface... it is refined by what you do with it....

(I called this blog post 'Everything Part 2' because I feel sure that I may have written one called 'Everything' already... but I cannot remember what was in it... If you are unable to find the first 'Everything', I may have written it in a parallel universe... but perhaps... even so... someday, you might remember having read it and I might remember having written it... keep listening.... as Violet Baudelaire says in Lemony Snicket, 'There is always something'...)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Gold Standard

Pink Floyd. 1971. Live in Pompeii. In my opinion, this band, at this stage of their career, is about as close as you will get to a 'gold standard' of progressive rock music. In any of their filmed live performances of the period, their absorption in what they do is absolute and one hundred percent. There are no attempts to connect with the audience. In fact, for 'Live in Pompeii', there is no audience (except for a few village kids, who allegedly hid out of sight). The band became their music. In one performance, you would see Dave Gilmour stepping up to Roger Waters mid-performance to re-tune his bass guitar. In another, Roger Waters adjusts his phrasing to cover the instance of Nick Mason dropping a drumstick. Everything they do is a playful exploration of shaping sound. Elements such as shredding speed or vocal range do not even come up. Those are cheap tricks for lesser bands to employ. If the music calls for a specific note at a specific time, one of the band members will find some way of bringing it in - and it hardly matters which one of them it is, or how he did it...

There's a couple of things that's been on my mind for the past few months with regards to creative expression:

- reading up (for a writing assignment) about the Renaissance, a time when some of the world's most amazing constructions sometimes took generations to complete.
- listening to Neil Gaiman comparing the early part of his career to 'sending out messages in bottles and hoping some of them would come back'
- my own withdrawal from participation in a certain popular social network - for reasons I won't go into right now.

And again and again, it seems to bring me back to thoughts about audiences and the creative process...

A good creative artist becomes the work and disappears into it. Speaking about my own craft now, telling a good story is less about using clever words and sentences and more about making the walls of the existing world vanish. The best writer is the one who becomes invisible within the first three sentences of the story. That would be my personal 'gold standard' and to me, the only way to achieve this, is to forget that there is an audience.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bloody Parchment 2012: The troll apocalypse

Forget the Zombie Apocalypse. The Troll Apocalypse has come and gone and guess what - no one noticed...

They were all too busy on facebook or twitter...

The first wave of the invasion hit me when I opened a link to some story on blabbermouth dot net.

It sounded like this:

My temperature shot up and my breathing became faster. I began to type 'attention whore'...

Then I looked down. Warts were forming on my hands. They leaked green puss onto the keyboard. It was too late. I was infected. My inner troll had taken over.

(This was my 4th year of participating in Bloody Parchment, the literary segment of the S.A Horrorfest - I better call it by that name, as this year for the first time, the event took place in two cities.

The horrorfest is the brainchild of Paul Andre Blom (formerly the drummer of Cape Town's legendary death metal band, Voice of Destruction and currently bass player for the industrial metal band Terminatrix) and his wife Sonja Ruppersberg (also of Terminatrix). It began purely as a film festival, but in 2009, Nerine Dorman, at Paul and Sonja's request, took charge of organizing a litarary component which has seen participation by a number of outstanding South African genre authors including Sarah Lotz, Lauren Beukes, Joan de la Haye, Cat Hellison and Nerine herself. Um, and also me... but as I said when I had to wrack my brainz over some introductory bio with barely a 25 minute warning, I tend to engage in guerrilla writing, rather than anything marketable.

For this year, we did drabbles. Definition of a drabble: a flash fiction that is exactly 100 words long. My story does have a serious side. It is scary how easily a normal rational person can turn into a troll. All it takes is the Internet and a little anonymity to separate you from the consequences of your words and your actions.)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Parallel Worlds: The double life of Sugarman

Reality. What a strange strange plaything of the gods. Allow me to tell you a tale of two worlds.

South Africa, 1986 - Sixto Rodriguez is dead and famous thanks to songs like the one below...
USA, 1986 - Sixto Rodriguez is alive but mostly forgotten

Parallel worlds, unaware of its other's existence... You can read the whole fascinating story here or, just go out and watch the music documentary 'Searching for Sugarman'.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Not Quite #Fridayflash Fiction: The Hours of Chronopolis

No one knows the hour... but if you have lived within the city of Chronopolis for a some time, there is a good chance that the hour knows you or at least has brushed past you in a busy street or waited behind you at the ice cream parlor or bought the last half dozen of freshly baked rolls just before you entered Maria's bakery.

This is your first lesson when arriving in Chronopolis. Each hour will surprise you.

There are hours that will fill you with unexpected melancholy for the boy who sat next to you in the ninth grade, you know, the one you last saw five years ago unpacking sacks of fertilizer in his dad's hardware store. Other hours will bring sudden inspiration about what to wear for the Halloween party in two weeks time. You get hours that will see you stripping off your coat to hand it to the woman begging outside the Fried Chicken joint and hours that will make you grasp your shoulder bag a little tighter for fear that it may be snatched away. Each hour is different.

No one is born in Chronopolis. That is your second lesson and it will take a while for this to sink in.

At first you will not notice this peculiarity, but when you do, it becomes a quest to find the one person that disproves what you suspect. You will search relentlessly, interrogating friends, acquaintances and even strangers, and they will smile tolerantly, as they too went through this stage. After a while it consumes you, wears you out and eats you up inside. The quest always remains bigger than you are. It is never met.

Nothing will prepare you for lesson number three and this is that everyone has their hour. No one knows this beforehand, but one day, a knock will come, or a nudge or a wink or a hand beckoning to you.

Whatever you were about to do, you will feel compelled to answer the summons and it will lead you towards the Tower of Chronopolis.

This building is perhaps the greatest of the city's mysteries. It dominates the skyline of Chronopolis from each wind direction and is impossible to miss. Everyone you know will have planned to visit it at some time, but to your knowledge no one has ever done this.

You will climb the tower, light-headed with wonder. You will admire the strange, gothic reliefwork carved into the walls, and secretly plan to return at some later date to make a detailed study of it. You realize instinctively that this is not possible now. Later, the need to return will fade like from your memory. No one comes to the tower of Chronopolis a second time.

You will arrive just before the hour at the summit and be welcomed. This is the last memory most people have before coming to their senses in the street below, roughly sixty five minutes later. One or two may recall being strapped into a pod-like column, but they are the crazy ones, who harbour other memories even more suspect.

No one remembers their hour.

This is the secret magic at the heart of Chronopolis. Each hour has a different soul. It may be a soul that delights in feeding ducks and swans in the pond at noon, or an hour that lights the next cigarette with the butt end of the previous one and then gulps down scalding black coffee to get rid of that dry, dry taste. You never can tell beforehand.

The final lesson of Chronopolis is that everyone goes home after their hour has come.

This is not the home you left behind when you settled in Chronopolis, or the home of your childhood. A key turns, something shifts and you are standing within the home that has always been there, at the very edge of your consciousness, the home you carry deep inside of you, always.

No one knows the hour...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Child on the Tracks

Anyone who places him or herself within harm's way, will eventually have to deal with the approach of harm... Imagine a child playing on the railroad tracks and there is a train approaching... Let us make this the happiest of possible outcomes. The train driver spots the child, pulls the brakes and the train stops in time. The child continues to play. She has just learnt that in her world, she is more powerful than the train. It's a heady feeling. I can stop trains. Trains stop for me. I am the champion of the world. But, the tracks still belong to the train, and not the child. The train carries passengers and freight. It has a time table and a destination. Eventually, the child will have to move, so that the train can resume its journey and its purpose. Until she does, worlds, futures, realities are placed on hold...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Duality or insanity?

(this is a conversation that happens inside my head) She said, "Why do I imagine that I am two persons?" He countered, "Why do you imagine that you have two hands? Because they are more useful than having just one..." (maybe i should stop wasting energy on trying to act sane)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot

Dreams and ideals are as important as what happens to us. In fact, they are more important. What happens to us, batters us against some breakwater over and over, until we bleed. We go Whew, I hope that never happens again. Once was enough. But dreams are the eternal companions of our soul, the wise guides we trust with an instinct that goes beyond this world, spanning across the multi-dimensional truth of who and what we really are.

In The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot, Helen is cast adrift by the toxically dysfunctional aspects of her family, long before she runs away to become the girl behind the 'Homeless, please help' placard. The only thread that guides her through a maze of hidden scars and secret pain, is a fantasy and a dream. In the struggle against incest and child abuse, the monsters stay invisible. Therefore, the soul's champion too must come from a source that hides beyond the physical world. And so Helen follows the signs and prompts from the imaginary world like a trail of bread crumbs, each one providing a moment's nourishment to keep her going until she reaches the home of her soul.

This is probably why the world needs stories like this and many more. Stories cast out a lifeline when no one in the 'real world' wants to get their feet wet to save someone who is drowning. The world says No, that child is fine (I've once read somewhere that No, I'm fine is probably the most common lie in the world) or She is just acting out. So often an unspoken truce is formed with the abuser, where the victim actually feels bad about each honest thought he or she has. As if somehow embarrassing the abuser would be a worse crime than what was already done to him or her.

To quote from the afterword of the book: The utter selfishness of the abuser is the common denominator - not class, race or creed. The psychological aftereffects - despair and withdrawal; low self-esteem; feeling worthless, dirty and bad - can last for life. The children take the badness onto themselves.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Field ("stories" or "infinity")

Last week, when my sister was out of town, I was looking after her two cats for a few days. Because it was rainy, I took a taxi there (I don't have a driver's licence or car - another story of my failings but I'm not telling that now). On day two, as I got out the money to pay the driver, there was a tiny slip of paper in between. What was on the slip of paper was the following quote by William Blake:

“Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.”

So, being me (i.e. a little weird) I gave the taxi driver the piece of paper with the quote along with his money.

On the way back the sun was out, so I decided to walk. My sister stays just on the edge of that large empty piece of field that still contains a few of the remnants of streets and foundations that had been District Six in the 1960s. It's empty now. Drug dealers and copper wires thieves hide their wares there. At one time there were a few shacks, but the truth is, the authorities had forgotten who (which department or whatever) owned this piece of field so it just lay there...

As I walked this length, my inner muse said Go on, throw it. I knew instantly what he referred to. In my bag, I've got an old A4 sized diary in which I write my story ideas.

Every page, till the middle of March was filled, some with several different ideas on the same page... my creative wealth, it seems (although, to be honest, I've accepted that at least half of it will probably never get written)... now my mischievous muse was challenging me to throw it into the field, for the pages to scatter and be lost... I felt a mix of panic and longing... because part of me did see the attraction of clearing the slate, starting again... being empty... Then he said, I couldn't do it either. But he didn't need to say it for me to know one day, I will toss the book... when my bones no longer has the capacity to house my soul and my spirit would rise and the pages would scatter like seagulls... off to seek other horizons..

Later that day, my muse said... I could have given you twenty new stories if you did throw the book... now I can only give you ten...

And today... I was drifting into a dream, an imagining, surprised by what I 'saw' with other eyes and going cool I wanna put that into a story. I yanked myself back to the here and now to write it down.. and part of me realized that, my 'being a writer' was sometimes a little counter productive to the other needs of my soul. This impulse to go hey, that would make a good story sometimes slashed like a whip through my stream of consciousness, halting it...disturbing it... where perhaps it should not have halted...

Being a writer is wonderful, but am i really putting my imagination to the best use, by just mining it for ideas? By snatching the very first flowers along the path home and going heh-heh, got them, when perhaps instead I should be travelling further along those paths... perhaps this compulsion to take 'field notes' of every momentary dream is really an interrupt. Infinity is out there. I don't need to stuff it all in a chest until it loses its shine... it will be there till the end of me...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

winter song...

The familiar embers of the old
burns low
And fierce winds of change
howl and blow
The villains of the future
and the past
I fear they have me
cornered at last...

I tried to reach
for tomorrow
But my fingers slipped
on yesterday's sorrow
And every half made dream
turned to fail
My truth remains
on the other side of the veil... ?

(and i play its melody on my keyboard.... sometimes i sing it myself... sometimes i listen deep into the darkness of hidden dimensions for other voices to take over... t.y.m... i have become a bridge that reaches into other realities, but that has placed me ever closer to the borderlands of this one)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A conversation with the past

Here's a tip to twelve year olds. A cool project to make your own time capsule. Sometime this year, sit down and do what Jeremiah McDonald did 20 years ago. Take a few minutes and record one half of a conversation with your older self. Save it, but don't look at it again, or better yet, give it to a family member to keep for you. Very important DO NOT WATCH UNTIL TWENTY YEARS LATER.. (no cheating)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I had a dream in which...

.... I found myself in a Victorian study, with dark wooden panelling and book shelves with leather bound volumes and two men were discussing my skull and it was 200 years after I died...

This one had been at least fifteen years ago, and technically speaking, it was a hypnogogic vision - you know, one of those very vivid dreams that occur before you are fully asleep.

When I was much younger I had a series of 'Alien invasion' type dreams, in which I'd find myself threatened by this little aliens ('Grays'), but the real freaky thing about those were, I knew, inside the dream that it was a dream and always managed to escape by willfully waking myself up out of it. Then, a fresh twist came. One night, I dreamt I was practicing to fly. That must have been hands down the most enjoyable dream I've ever had. Swooping and diving and whirling through the air without a single thing to hold me back. The thing is, some time after the flying dream, I had another of the 'Alien invasion' type dreams, but instead of waking myself up, I reasoned, wait, you know how to fly now, you can just fly away. And I did.

A Chinese poet called Zhuang Zi wrote, "Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man. "

So, what DO we know about our dreams and about our waking... ?

This morning, first thing, my inner muse said... try this, tell something from your life, something that makes you feel sad and worthless, as if it was a only a dream from which you've woken up, so I did... and some things hurt a little less when you do this, and some things even make you smile...

I had a dream in which.... I lived in a place I hated and all I wanted was to leave and never never come back, but the more I wanted it, the more things went wrong and I could never come close to getting the money for a plane ticket... you know those dreams where you are in a supermarket and you know you don't have any money, but you can't leave and you can't stop piling things into your trolley.... well, it was exactly the same, except on a larger scale... (a snapshot from my twenties)

I had a dream in which... I had a million notebooks full of stories, and I was always telling myself start one, start one.... but whenever I tried to grasp one, it would shatter into a million pieces, that just became new story ideas....

The dreams themselves can explore fears, repressed emotions or even alternate perceptions...

I had a dream in which.... God gave me this cool body change, but then my Mommy didn't know me anymore...

I had a dream in which... I created this brilliant music, but when I woke I could remember only tiny bits of it... just receding snatches, nothing I was able to write down...

I had a dream in which... someone came to me and woke me up...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Mirror and its Reflection

Within every happy reunion lies another's tears of farewell, and sometimes it is impossible to avoid becoming the villains in other people's stories. Recently my inner voice said to me about someone... he is both your friend and your enemy. Everybody is both your friend and your enemy. You choose what you shape them into...

Every word and every action has a 'good' path and a 'bad' path, (for want of a better term)... if it is spoken, if it is done, it is out there in the world and you often have no control over its outcome, only the assurance that this chaotic multiverse has some purpose for it...

The birth of a flower marks the death of a seed... but how do I feel, when I look at those who see only the seed and weep over its cracked, broken exterior? Do I owe anything to the hungry ghosts of yesterday.... do I owe them my guilt for being able to smell the sweet scent of the flower that came after the seed died? Or should I just keep walking forward, cherishing that 'flower' forever in all of my tomorrows and beyond time...? I would love someone to say, it's okay... we're happy, if the flower is happy...

But... yeah, survivor's guilt... such a terrible, terrible thing...

... and there is the temptation to villainize the ones who weep out of an attempt to still my guilt for contributing towards their tears... (even though I never knew where my eternal flower came from, until afterwards, when it was too late) but to see the monstrous in another, is to wake up the monstrous in yourself...

(I understand and accept ~ mothers need fairy tales as much as their children do...)

"She (Death)said everyone knows everything. We just pretend to ourselves we don't... To make it bearable."

- Destruction, from 'Brief Lives', in the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Thousand lies...

I asked a wise man this: "Will I be able to swallow a thousand lies if I hold the truth in my own heart?"

He replied, "Not only will you be able to do it, but it is what you must do..."

So this is my fare. A thousand lies. Some of them are nasty little buggers who tear chunks out of the softer flesh of my gullet with their teeth. Others taste like nothing. There are a few rare ones that delight me like candy and make me smile at their aftertaste. But most of them are bitter and a bitch to digest.

"Now what?" I asked the wise man.

"Do you still hear the song of truth singing in your soul?" he asked.

I listened closely until I did.

"Good," he said. "Now you must wait for the lies to turn to poop in your gut."


Monday, July 9, 2012

Everybody falls...

I dedicate this song to a certain stupid stupid stupid little girl who tried to jump but ended up falling flat on her face instead... with all the shame and humiliation that results from such a fall and that stupid girl was me... and the fall was three weeks ago... What I'm feeling right now is the ground zero of that emotional devastation, and writing this is an attempt to take just one first step away from it...

I'm hoping that I haven't lost my courage forever, but only for a little while...

I'm hoping that I will have enough mercy and forgiveness left in my heart for everyone who comes to me with honest intentions and maybe that I will have just enough of the same to avoid being cut by some of the wounds that will inevitably come from those who don't have those honest intentions....

I thank the universe for added wisdom and I will pay its price...

Honesty hurts, but it's a bearable kind of pain that leaves the door open for help and healing and love and redemption to find you again...

Everybody falls, but hopefully everybody heals...

(t.y.m. - yes, my friend, i DID survive writing this)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

No one...

No one ever noticed
when the world turned cold
that every walking vagabond
wears teeth in his coat...

No one paid attention
to the missing parts
the hollow empty chambers
that used to house their hearts...

No one ever turned around and said
stop this train
I see a world come crashing down
and I'm flinching from the pain...

(t.y.m. - this one came to me as i was walking from Baran's where we had our Adamastor Writers Guild meeting to the bus station.... i wrote the last parts while waiting in the bus queue.. and looking down, I saw a R2 coin on the ground, which was roughly one third of my bus fare)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Brave little ship...

The Blooms of Spring
set merry sail
and sought adventure
without fail
Many kegs of rum
were drunk
and many dreams
cheerfully sunk
The parrot and the
tallied up each
gain and loss
And rudderless
it did embark
into the dark
It fought a storm
both aft and fore
To find its home
upon a distant winter shore...

(a poem dedicated to my other self)

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Somewhere in time
somewhere in space
two stars collided
one fell from grace...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ophelia at the Crossroads

Nearly every mistake robs somebody and gives to somebody else....

More than a year ago, I gained a friendship through mistaking someone for someone else... I have grown and learnt and gained through this connection. I am deeply grateful for it and believe (as soon as I began to realize the truth) that this mistake was a divinely inspired happy accident. It was, on some level at least, meant to be...

But at the same time, it is haunted by the 'not meant to be' of the error in judgement. It keeps stumbling over the loose thread of the other person.... the lost connection... I feel that the mistake runs like a faultline through the friendship. The energy of the mistake still lurks in some dark corner, biding its time. It warped something, distorted something, and even now, I am partly afraid that fate will someday snatch it back again. The fear echoes in my extreme reluctance to reach out to anyone... to publically befriend anyone.... It impacts on other connections....

For this reason, I have been wondering - what will happen, energetically if I go back to the crossroads....

My concerns are twofold:
- will the 'wronged' person forgive me?
- will I lose a friendship (that has meant a lot to me), because it was gained in error?

Or is it possible to hope for the best of all possible outcomes, that attempting to balance a wrong of many months ago, will also cleanse, purify and heal the bad energy that shadows the other side....

Friday, June 8, 2012

Review: What a Wonderful Dangerous Place by Dan Pocengal

First, it's confession time. About fifteen to twenty years ago, I was a heavy subscriber to the whole guitar hero sub-culture created by such icons as Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen. I hated and mourned the arrival of grunge and annoyed people no-end with my quoted guitarisms.

Dan Pocengal's solo instrumental album 'What a Wonderful Dangerous place' could easily have fitted the genre. I discovered Dan's website because of his involvement in the Midnight Project, but I found very quickly that I would have liked his music even without that connection. Leaving a message about how much I loved his music, led to a correspondence that took me by surprise on a number of levels, touching on various aspects of spirituality, perception, reality and a whole lot more. Insights shared gave me the benefit of familiarity with a lot of symbolism in his music and in the images on his website, but since this is really meant to be a review, I guess I better say something about his guitar playing.

In the days when I devoured guitar magazines, one of the ongoing debates revolved around tone vs shredding speed, the general consensus being that you had either one or the other. Having said this, though, Dan Pocengal can certainly shred both meaningfully and moodfully, without sacrificing tonal quality.

A number of tracks are noteworthy. 'Mouthful of Tail' expresses the frenetic, chaotic activity of creation which is symbiotically linked to its shadow-aspect of destruction. 'Transmutation' also offers a glimpse of Dan's acoustic mastery. (One of my favorite 'other' numbers by Dan is an unplugged gem called 'Monastery Bells' which used to be on his website, but is not included here.) 'Orbital Junction' carries the slightest suggestion of melodic industrial music... without losing the primary soaring indentity of prog metal guitar. Despite its brevity, Star-Heart Wanderer is filled with beautiful movements and progressions. To discover the multi-dimensional wonder of 'What a wonderful Dangerous Place' for yourself, go to Dan Pocengal's website.

Well worth a buy if you love the electric guitar.

Monday, June 4, 2012


I never held my father's hand
but I have his gauntlet
Brought by survivors from his warband

And every year I grew a bit
I stuffed wool and straw into his gauntlet
But I could never make it fit...

Rage and blood
watered this soul
and filled it up
and made it whole
and the man became
a fearsome thing
and the gauntlet fit
where steel and iron sing

But that was then
the monster broke
to free the man inside

and some of him
was lost forever
with the passing of blood's tide...

Thank God the gauntlet rusts
Thank God I have no son
my daughter counts the fingers lost
and strokes
what remains
when she's done

(The vague idea of this poem/song has been with me for many years. The original title was 'The Gauntlet No Longer Fits' and it has something to do with outgrowing your battles, but although I had the idea, I only completed it very recently. I wrote the first two verses some time last year, because I saw it in my head and realized finally that it was a progression of different stages in someone's life. Then it rested, until the second half of May 2012, when I saw the rest fitting into their slots, like puzzle pieces. Is peace possible despite wounds and scars of battles past, or because of them? t.y.m. for helping....)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My drabble: Birds of a feather

"Hey!" she said.

Her words reverberated through the emptiness of the apartment. What was there? Mattress. Kettle. A souring carton of milk. Some drying stems of lavender on the window sill.

"I love this T-shirt. Can I borrow it?"

'Love' took a distinct slot in the meaning chain of her vocabulary. Love meant want and want was never a passive word with her.

Everything cool I owned was either borrowed or stolen, but facing the pure onslaught of her 'love', I suddenly understood why magpies built their nests high in the branches.

Was this how magpies mated? I shrugged. "Whatever."

(this story was specifically created as a writing exercise for a meeting with the Adamastor Writer's Guild, on the subject of drabbles, which are, for those who don't know, a story that is exactly 100 words long. You can check out Cat Hellisen's drabble  for the same meeting here. )

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How Imagination Works

I believe we are all born with a wonderful application that expands the working of the human mind to take on the role of entertainment theatre, tutor, detective, psychic, creator and occasionally torturer. It is called the imagination. Some people claim that they don't have any, but I strongly suspect that (often through no fault of their own) it just got disabled. It can have multiple functions, but for the moment I will list what I consider to be the four most prominent ones.

 1. Open a frequency - incoming signal expected. Most artists, writers and musicians have experienced those moments when you are in the zone. When you sit in front of a keyboard to write a few sentences and end up looking at pages that just seemed to flow like water. When you appear to function as little more than a channel for something that blows you out of the water... This is when the imagination functions in its purest form, as a blank canvas, receptive to the unchecked flow of inspiration, where-ever it comes from, whichever spirit guided it.  

2. Start from scratch creation. This is when you have an idea, but for some reason, you want to spend a little time playing with it, as if it were modeling clay and you are in the mood to potter around a little.. You let it germinate, sprout a few roots and side branches.. experiment with the possibilities, do a test run, make a few adjustments along the way, until it comes together smoothly. This function is no less than the previous one - it just incorporates other elements. In the case #1, the idea probably chose you as a vehicle to set it on its path towards fulfilment. In the case of #2, you chose the idea, as a vehicle for learning and perfecting your craft, be it writing, art or music.

 3. Color the template. The first two functions were those of highly creative people, whose imagination will be fully enabled, but function #3 can be available to persons who will probably never write a book or produce a work of art. Do you read? Have you ever sat down with a book and halfway down the page you can sort of visualize this character or the setting he/she is in? Although you did not write the story, your imagination somehow got switched on by the writer's genius and while he/she gave you an outline, your mind is coloring it in, a bit like when you were a kid with your box of crayons. Music, art, games - various forms of art have the ability to draw you in to the point where you become a co-creator of a reality someone else created. Ever listened to a song and have this private movie running in your head? It's the same principle.  

4 Fix the chinese puzzle. In this case, you also get a template, but it is incomplete or there is something wrong with it. You have to figure out somehow how it should have been put together to make it work the way it is supposed to. This function is the detective, the trouble-shooter, the engineer. It can be used in combination with start from scratch creation, if you run into trouble, or it can be applied to an object or a situation that has been tampered with in some way. In all honesty, it can be the most difficult of the functions to succeed with. (t.y.m. - thank you to my inner muse for helping me work this one out)

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Case of Getting Your Guy's Mixed Up

Today would have been the 66th birthday of Guy Kewney, an early journalistic commentator in the world of computers. One of his more memorable quotes had been "I take a very simple view of news: first is all that counts." By an epic stroke of irony, though, he is best remembered in certain circles for that one time he had NOT been first, and through no fault of his own. Kewney had been waiting in a reception area at the BBC studios to commentate for television news on the outcome of the case Apple vs The Beatles. At the same time, in another reception area another man, named Guy Coma, was waiting to be interviewed for a job. The wrong Guy got directed into the television studio, and the embedded video clip was what followed... Here's also a link to Guy Kewney's obituary...

Vultures 1

Tell them vultures they can have my bones crack them broken with sticks or stones they can chew my flesh or swallow it whole just keep their dirty talons off my soul....

Friday, April 27, 2012

Not quite #fridayflash fiction: Ghosts

"Eeckkk!" said Lemon. "There's a woman. I just saw her crossing the floor." How can the place he occupies be described? If you focus on its texture for a while, it appears quite solid, but there are waves on all sides, up down, left, right, forward, backward. Everything appears identical at first. Waverings bits of light. If you think specks, they become specks. If you think waves, they elongate and snake - around and around. The appearance of the place sails through possibilies. The acoustics of the place was similarly open to persuation. Snatches of music, disembodies voices came and went, without seeming incomplete. They just shifted as the attention of the hearers did. Other sensory impressions wove in and out of an everchanging dance of perception. "Interesting." said Raft. "Describe her to me." "She is a shadow. All grey and stilted, as if there is something hindering her. Something holding her back, keeping her from manifesting fully. She walks heavily. But she seems quite thin." "Is that how you see her?" Raft asked. "Look again." Lemon himself wore the appearance of a small youngish monk in a robe. He kept his face round and blank of expression, and saw Raft as a bit of a rogue, a canvas across which wry smiles, raised eyebrows and frowns of irony painted themselves with ease. Each feature, the moustache, the beard, the slightly hooked nose had the potential for additional emotional punctuation. "Her hair is long, curvy and Titian red. It mostly covers her face but I think her nose is quite long, longer than average. She wears a gown of some sort." He squinted. "Above the chest, there is a glittery motif, but otherwise it is plain and seagreen." "Very good," said Raft. If you asked either whether they heard the conversation, they might not have been able to answer, but each voice was distinct, and spoke of the person as well as his words. "You see her also?" Lemon asked eagerly. "I've been looking at her for a while now. I'm surprised that you see her. Her name is Tiffany." , "You know her?" "She is... was my fiancee." Before, Lemon and Raft had not been acquainted. They gravitated towards each other, settled into a conversation and grew comfortable in it. They may have been at it for some time, but time itself wove in and out of their world. They were still trying to work out whether this was in fact their first meeting or not. "Why won't she talk to us? Wait... oh! Now, I see. She is..." "A ghost." "No. Yes. Must we use that word? Raft shrugs. He said several things, none of them verbal. "Why is she so sad?" Lemon asked. "Because she longs..." "For you?" "She longs for the warmth of a fresh wound, but all she has is a stale scar. She comes back out of habit. I can hear her words. I miss him. He is always with me. How can both statements be true. I have no trouble at all 'being with her' but maybe the real answer is that she is not always with me anymore." "How sad," said Lemon. "I always thought it was the other way around. That we haunt the living." Raft's face was a work of art, the interaction between his brow and his moustache all but forming full sentences. "That kind of traffic goes both ways. In our world, they are incomplete in some way. At times, she almost appears to notice me... Other times... Look, she fades again." Lemon shivered. He had the suspicion that for the moment his face was not bland enough. "Let's talk about something else," he said.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

And the band played on...Remembering one of the true heroes of the Titanic...

He left Southampton on 10 April 1912 as the owner of second classed ticket No 250654, courtesy of his employment for the music agency C.W. & F.N. Black, an organization that specialized in supplying entertainers for ocean liners. The return journey was of an entirely different nature, identified as Body no 224, described as a brown-haired male wearing a green-facing uniform, brown overcoat, black boots and green socks. Recovered by the Mackay-Bennett, Body no 224 travelled from Halifax to Boston, crossing the Atlantic, this time aboard the 'Arabic' to reach a final resting place in Colne, Lancashire. In between, he had been the Head Bandmaster aboard the Titanic. A veteran of some 80 Atlantic crossings, Wallace Henry Hartley's most prestigious assignment before the Titanic had been aboard the Mauretania, a vessel that returned to Liverpool mere days before the Titanic's maiden voyage. There were two separate musical units aboard the luxury ship, a trio comprising cello, violin and piano, and a larger quintet with which Hartley performed. Under normal circumstances, the two groupings had different duties, but on the night the Titanic hit the iceberg, bandmaster Wallace Henry Hartley assembled them to play, first in the First Class Lounge and later on the Boat Deck close to the Grand Staircase. It was the first and only occasion of the trip where the eight of them played together. Many agreed that their selfless act played a huge role in maintaining calm and order as the emergency evacuation of the Titanic took place and at least some of the passengers who did make it, owed their lives to the band who just kept playing. According to witnesses, Hartley's last words were "Gentlemen, I bid you farewell!" None of the musicians aboard the Titanic survived the voyage... In Hartley's home town of Colne, a plaque marks the house he grew up in and there is a 10 foot high monument featuring a carved violin - his instrument of choice. Over one thousand mourners attended his memorial service, and 40,000 more lined the route of the funeral procession, which featured seven bands. Today there are streets named after him and proud Colne residents continue to maintain his gravesite.

Do also visit this webpage dedicated to his memory for more info

(for anyone sharp enough to notice, i AM plagiarizing myself with this blogpost. I originally posted it almost a year ago on my Xomba profile)

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Sunday, March 25, 2012


the seed opens
the seed closes
captures the tree
and folds it within
to release it
in another place
near or far
as a human's soul
jumps from body to body
so the tree's soul jumps
from seed to seed
and worlds are bridged
the seed opens
the seed closes
a universe inside...

And then there's a tree
that grew inside of me
Its seeds blew in
on the trade winds of a tragedy...

Its magic roots dug in
and its shoots just grew and grew
there's wisdom in its rustling leaves
and laughter in its fruity brew...

(This poem 'sprouted' from the fertile grounds of a dialogue between myself and Dan Pocengal on the nature of reality and all sorts of related matters)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


As one of my writer friends frequently points out, I have a reluctance for naming characters that borders on compulsive. Check back my #friday flash stories, if you don't believe me. My characters are 'the mother', 'the muse', 'the guitarist', 'his friend'. In one story I named my main character J and said to the above-mentioned friend, "Well, at least I half named that one."

But maybe there is a little more than laziness or lack of inspiration at work, because ever since I was a kid, I've had this strong feeling to be 'free' and naming of course implies ownership. We get names from our parents, nicknames from friends (and enemies). Naming is a form of colonization. In the old Cape Colony, slaves and indigenous people could only participate in society by being baptized into the Christian faith AND BEING RE-NAMED IN THE PROCESS. In fact, slaves were also named upon arrival. Native Americans were called Indians by early explorers who mistaken thoughts they had discovered the East. The Xhosa tribe were named that by their rivals, the San and it means roughly 'The Angry People'. The San, on the other hand, refer to themselves as merely 'the people', a subtle implication that the claim to humanity from anyone other than the San themselves is slightly questionable. Naming is claiming. Naming is the encroachment of domestication upon the wild. Naming is taming, or sometimes making an attempt to tame the untamable. Naming draws borders. Naming lays claim and keeping something unnamed preserves just a tiny seedling of the feral and the formless within its soul... leaving it with the potential to transcend, to transform and to find its own path... A little vagueness leaves room for the imagination... and the infinite... gives the magic of the spaces in between some room to breathe.

I completed the chalk drawing this morning. I haven't drawn in chalk for a while... In keeping with the blog post, I am not naming the subject...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not quite #fridayflash fiction: Angels and Monsters

The mother did not expect it to be true, but there it was, one thick green tentacle slithering across the Spiderman duvet, while a lumpy sac of pulsating torso heaved and hauled to achieve summit of her son's bed. My poor baby.

She had thought he was lying or exaggerating. Night after night the screams would interrupt the dark slumber of the entire household. He has a vivid imagination. Sure, vivid enough to make her see his monsters, crawling - At least it's not touching him yet.

She took a step forward, then hesitated. The tentacle squirmed into a new curl. Its tip lifted slightly. She stared.

It's not there. It cannot be there.

There were hairy things at the tip of the tentacle. They waved slightly, like miniature reeds.

This is your mind. Playing tricks. You're a grown woman, not a five-year-old.

It didn't help. You cannot unsee a thing like that. And she only wanted to help him. Getting to this point was difficult enough. Oh, the so-called experts who had not believed her. All children have nightmares. If she had a dollar for everytime she was told that. The first person to come up with a deal solution was an ancient Indian woman, who was a hundred if she was a day.

Add these herbs to his cereal and to yours also. Spend the night by his bed. If it is something more than the usual, then you will see it.

The herbs had the fragrant aroma of cinnamon and were surprisingly easy to digest.

Weren't all medicines supposed to taste foul.

The tentacle groped a fold of the duvet, briefly pinching Spiderman's arm. The mother took a deep breath. She was supposed to intervene, but how?

OMG. It's oozing onto the duvet. I better wash it first thing in the morning.

The boy trembled, but did not wake. The mother wished it was all a dream. As the tentacle reached for his shoulder, she jerked involutarily. The tentacle withdrew and curled slightly, like a caterpillar that had been prodded.

It heard me. It knows I'm here.

The monster repositioned itself. Of course. The mother shivered. Had she really believed she could handle this? Then she steeled herself. This was her baby. She would die for him.

"Why?" she whispered, hardly daring to speak. "Why do you terrorize my son night after night?"

The monster grinned through row upon row of serrated teeth. "Your son? Oh, the boy. what makes you think I'm after your son?"

The mother took a deep breath. Was it even possible to reason with a creature such as this? Hope surfaced. Yes. Maybe it was.

"Well," she said, all business. "What do you want?"

The monster smiled. Very simple. Only one thing draws us to little boys and girls. The prospect of dining on angelflesh. Little children are always watched over by angels. If that were not the case, we would leave them be.

"Really?" the mother asked. "If there was no angel, you would not come?"

By the very hairs on my tentacles I swear this.

The mother had much food for thought throughout the next day, but because she had slept poorly, it was not very clear thought. So the angels were to blame. Interesting.

Midway through the morning, she was back at the Indian woman's decrepid stall. She was very excited about this. "Thank you, thank you, thank you," she said to the Indian woman. "You were the only person to help and now I have a plan. I need just one more thing. Do you have a magical herb for seeing the guardian angel of my little boy. I must have a word with him. Or her."

A hungry look entered the old woman's eyes. Perhaps she thought of other forms of bartering that were less sure, but more rewarding. "Indeed I do," she replied.

Again the mother had to sprinkle some herbs over the breakfasts of both her and her son, but the ingredient for seeing angels was pungent and a little more bitter, as if the taste alone already carried a caveat.

That night a second vigil commenced and the mother did not have to wait long before a beautiful golden glow surrounded the bed of her son. He smiled in his sleep, a lovely innocent smile and the mother hesitated for a moment. Then she remembered the monster of the night before and her resolve hardened.

"Hey you," she said. She was becoming used to communication with supernatural beings.

The angel turned and smiled also. "Well, good evening," she said. "This is a surprise. I wasn't expecting company."

"I was," said the mother. "I am here to ask a favor. As a concerned parent, I have been noticing that my child seems to have more than his fair share of monsters around. I looked into the matter..."

"I am always vigi..." the angel began..

"No interruptions, please" said the mother sternly. "Like I said, I looked into the matter and it was brought to my attention that the real and true cause of the problem is YOU!"

"Me?" the angel asked, perplexed.

"Yes, you. This is why I must ask, no beg, a favor of you. Leave my boy alone. Don't come near him. He won't be needing no guardian angels in the future. without the likes of you around, there will be no... "

The mother collapsed before she had a chance to finish her sentence. She fell gently, almost as if something cushioned her descent.

"My thanks," said the boy's guardian angel. "The problem with the adults is that they no longer recognize the shape of monsters. That one had its bulk curled all the way around her reason and it was squeezing the life out of her good sense, but she couldn't even see it. I don't know what I would have done."

"It's nothing," said the mother's guardian angel, "I was here all along. I've got it sorted."

"Good luck on the job."

"And you also. Looks like you're going to need it." The mother's guardian angel kicked something invisible. "And you, old flea-bitten, blunt-scaled excuse for a nightmare? Still haven't given up after all these years? You're not pulling that one on me again." There was a sigh that could have been the bed creaking or a window frame cracking under a sudden gust of wind. No one human heard it.

(Okay, it's a bit long for a #fridayflash, but this is where the 'not quite' would apply... I'm not sure if this is a children's story or an adult story... maybe a children's story for adults ... and it is anonymously dedicated to someone's mother)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Honesty Paradox

We are all Heaven's exiles. Kicked out of our true home at the very start of our earthly lives so it goes without saying that we begin with a whole load of rejection issues...

To wonder: will they accept me? does anyone really want me around? is normal, but we secretly believe we are the only ones who feel this.

We hear the world, but there are always ghost voices hiding in the texture of things, a veneer of meaning that becomes the map to guide us on the road back, maddeningly clear at times, but when we try to explain this to another, the response is so often "Huh? Huh?"

The way to see this as a union of two systems - an illusion of flesh and a reflection of spirit, neither absent, neither complete. The ratio is different in every single person. Did I mention this? Those two cannot occupy the same space - we have to negotiate an arrangement. What we really are, is perhaps the spasms of that struggle between 'here' and 'there'.

Emotional honesty fosters the connection with our true spiritual home, but try introducing too much of that honesty into the flesh and blood world around you and society very quickly vomits you up and cuts you off from the pseudo-comfort of the herd of sheeple.

Herein, of course, lies the paradox and the pain. Honesty reconnects you to heaven, but disconnects you from the world around you. It hurts - knowing the truth, but living so close to that carefully tended weed garden of lies.