Tales From The Town #93: Poems From Minor Characters

#1: The Spider

scuttling across ceilings
spitting at me
all my splendid children
demand to be free

#2: The Cat

only in sleep
are we truly ourselves
and no one is themself
more often than me

#3: A Crow

you cannot
you will not
ever
scare
me

#4: David

My beard is like a tangled bush
filled with cobwebs
and bees
rotting fruit
and sparrow’s nests
crisp packets, carrier bags
and old coke cans
turned pink over time
by rain
and sun

#5: The Ghost In The Well

I am no longer alive
and you are not yet dead
but give it time
and we’ll be together again

__________

Notes:

1. The Spider was written on May 20th, 2022
2. The Cat was written on June 4th, 2022
3. A Crow was written on January 3rd, 2023
4. David was written on May 10th, 2022
5. The Ghost In The Well was written on November 11th, 2022

Menthol

I still remember sometimes my friends smoking menthol cigarettes when we were 14 or 15 or so. I don’t know exactly, but round about then. Walking through fields in the dark, sitting on the sea wall, or the swings in the park, the only light the fading glow of the town behind us and the flicker of cigarettes in their mouths, occasional match bursts of flame between cupped palms. Practised movements copied from older brothers, older sisters, older kids, parents, films.

“They make your lungs bleed, you know?”

That’s what I remember. Not who said it, not any discussion of the point, no disputes to its veracity. Just the claim that menthol cigarettes make your lungs bleed.

Not even the smell of the cigarettes remains now, the taste of the menthol, how it affected the smoke. My memories are visual, verbal. Non linear. Patchwork. Collage. Who knows how much of this is true, how many memories its stitched together from, how many lies I’ve told here that I no longer remember are lies.

“They make your lungs bleed, you know?”

Across the river, the nuclear power plant hums in the dark. Sound of boats in the distance, ropes slapping against metal masts in the winds and on the tides.

Sometimes I wonder if they still make menthol cigarettes. Think about buying some in the newsagents to see what the medical warnings might say.

__________

Notes:

1. Written on the 15th July, 2022

The Dreams Of The Waiting Prince

Now this morning I woke to find the doors to the Palace had been opened, for the period of solitude was to begin, the date having been set for my Lord’s ascension to the throne. Here in his solitude, only upon his rising in the morning shall he speak, so as to recount to me his dreams of the night before.

Now to me did my Lord hand this pen, and the scrolls upon which I am to write, and though he was not yet permitted to speak, he said to me, “My dear Scribe, last night as I slept, I dreamt. And as I dreamt, I slept.” And then he took to the chambers of his solitude for a moment of rest, and lay down there to sleep…

The Dreams Of The Waiting Prince, Before The Occasion Of His Ascension, During The Period Of His Seclusion, In The High Palace Of Eternal Solitude, Above The Clouds Of The Empire’s Reality, Beneath The Many Moons Of The Empire’s Imagination is the story of a lifetime and the history of an empire told entirely in dreams.

Written by David Guy, and with illustrations and artwork by Virginia Frances Sterrett (1900-1930) and Frances MacDonald (1873-1921), it is available to buy in a beautiful, fully illustrated, pocket book edition.

Product Details:

Title: The Dreams Of The Waiting Prince
Price: £6.99/$12.99 (plus postage)
Pages: 112
Binding: Paperback
Illustrations: 12 (b&w)
Dimensions: Pocket Book (4.25×6.875in / 108x175mm)
Paper Quality: 80gsm

A PDF/ebook version is also available (with full colour illustrations) for free/pay what you want.

The One Hundred And Fifty Dreams Of The Waiting Prince

The First DreamThe Second DreamThe Third DreamThe Fourth DreamThe Fifth DreamThe Sixth DreamThe Seventh DreamThe Eighth DreamThe Ninth DreamThe Tenth DreamThe Eleventh DreamThe Twelfth DreamThe Thirteenth DreamThe Fourteenth DreamThe Fifteenth DreamThe Sixteenth DreamThe Seventeenth DreamThe Eighteenth DreamThe Nineteenth DreamThe Twentieth DreamThe Twenty First DreamThe Twenty Second DreamThe Twenty Third DreamThe Twenty Fourth DreamThe Twenty Fifth DreamThe Twenty Sixth DreamThe Twenty Seventh DreamThe Twenty Eighth DreamThe Twenty Ninth DreamThe Thirtieth DreamThe Thirty First DreamThe Thirty Second DreamThe Thirty Third DreamThe Thirty Fourth DreamThe Thirty Fifth DreamThe Thirty Sixth DreamThe Thirty Seventh DreamThe Thirty Eighth DreamThe Thirty Ninth DreamThe Fortieth DreamThe Forty First DreamThe Forty Second DreamThe Forty Third DreamThe Forty Fourth DreamThe Forty Fifth DreamThe Forty Sixth DreamThe Forty Seventh DreamThe Forty Eighth DreamThe Forty Ninth DreamThe Fiftieth DreamThe Fifty First DreamThe Fifty Second DreamThe Fifty Third DreamThe Fifty Fourth DreamThe Fifty Fifth DreamThe Fifty Sixth DreamThe Fifty Seventh DreamThe Fifty Eighth DreamThe Fifty Ninth DreamThe Sixtieth DreamThe Sixty First DreamThe Sixty Second DreamThe Sixty Third DreamThe Sixty Fourth DreamThe Sixty Fifth DreamThe Sixty Sixth DreamThe Sixty Seventh DreamThe Sixty Eighth DreamThe Sixty Ninth DreamThe Seventieth DreamThe Seventy First DreamThe Seventy Second DreamThe Seventy Third DreamThe Seventy Fourth DreamThe Seventy Fifth DreamThe Seventy Sixth DreamThe Seventy Seventh DreamThe Seventy Eighth DreamThe Seventy Ninth DreamThe Eightieth DreamThe Eighty First DreamThe Eighty Second DreamThe Eighty Third DreamThe Eighty Fourth DreamThe Eighty Fifth DreamThe Eighty Sixth DreamThe Eighty Seventh DreamThe Eighty Eighth DreamThe Eighty Ninth DreamThe Ninetieth DreamThe Ninety First DreamThe Ninety Second DreamThe Ninety Third DreamThe Ninety Fourth DreamThe Ninety Fifth DreamThe Ninety Sixth DreamThe Ninety Seventh DreamThe Ninety Eighth DreamThe Ninety Ninth DreamThe Hundredth DreamThe Hundred And First DreamThe Hundred And Second DreamThe Hundred And Third DreamThe Hundred And Fourth DreamThe Hundred And Fifth DreamThe Hundred And Sixth DreamThe Hundred And Seventh DreamThe Hundred And Eighth DreamThe Hundred And Ninth DreamThe Hundred And Tenth DreamThe Hundred And Eleventh DreamThe Hundred And Twelfth DreamThe Hundred And Thirteenth DreamThe Hundred And Fourteenth DreamThe Hundred And Fifteenth DreamThe Hundred And Sixteenth DreamThe Hundred And Seventeenth DreamThe Hundred And Eighteenth DreamThe Hundred And Nineteenth DreamThe Hundred And Twentieth DreamThe Hundred And Twenty First DreamThe Hundred And Twenty Second DreamThe Hundred And Twenty Third DreamThe Hundred And Twenty Fourth DreamThe Hundred And Twenty Fifth DreamThe Hundred And Twenty Sixth DreamThe Hundred And Twenty Seventh DreamThe Hundred And Twenty Eighth DreamThe Hundred And Twenty Ninth DreamThe Hundred And Thirtieth DreamThe Hundred And Thirty First DreamThe Hundred And Thirty Second DreamThe Hundred And Thirty Third DreamThe Hundred And Thirty Fourth DreamThe Hundred And Thirty Fifth DreamThe Hundred And Thirty Sixth DreamThe Hundred And Thirty Seventh DreamThe Hundred And Thirty Eighth DreamThe Hundred And Thirty Ninth DreamThe Hundred And Fortieth DreamThe Hundred And Forty First DreamThe Hundred And Forty Second DreamThe Hundred And Forty Third DreamThe Hundred And Forty Fourth DreamThe Hundred And Forty Fifth DreamThe Hundred And Forty Sixth DreamThe Hundred And Forty Seventh DreamThe Hundred And Forty Eighth DreamThe Hundred And Forty Ninth DreamThe Hundred And Fiftieth Dream

IllustrationsNotes, References and Acknowledgements

Tales From The Town #92: Tasting Menu (Courses 1-4)

1.

“What’s that?”
“It looks like some slugs.”
Dead slugs.”
“It’s liquorice. It’s nice.”
“Urgh! It’s not nice, Nanny!”
“It’s not nice at all.”
“It tastes like slugs.”
Live slugs.”

2.

“This stuff tastes like flowers!”
“And perfume.”
“And shampoo.”
“And eyeballs.”
“Eyeballs?”
Eyeballs.
“I don’t think it tastes like eyeballs at all.”
“I don’t even know what eyeballs taste like.”
“Well then how do you know it doesn’t taste like eyeballs, Nanny?”
“How do you know it does taste like eyeballs?”
Everyone knows what eyeballs tastes like.”
“I was a crow once. That’s how I know what eyeballs taste like.”
“You were never a crow, Daniel.”
“I was! I flew into a cloud and thunder came out.”
“Daniel was never a crow, Nanny.”
“He’s making it up to impress you.”
“Well, I certainly am impressed, Daniel. So, who wants another piece of Turkish Delight?”
“No.”
“No.”
“Definitely NO!”
“Yes.”
“He doesn’t, Nanny.”
“I do.”
“You don’t, Daniel.”
“You definitely don’t.”
“That’s how they get you, Daniel.”
“You’ll never escape!”

3.

“What is this?!”
“It tastes like ice cream!”
“But it looks like lemonade!”
“It’s cream soda.”
“Cream spider more like.”
“That doesn’t make any sense!”
You don’t make any sense!”
“I do!”
“You don’t!”

(repeat to fade)

4.

“You never ate these, Nanny.”
“We can’t believe anyone EVER ate these.”
“They’re not even food.”
“They’re weetabix, Nanny!”
“With butter on them!”
“And no milk!”
“I’m not finished yet. Look, next you sprinkle sugar on the butter like this…”
“Nanny, this is disgusting!”
“If Mum finds out you’re feeding us this she’s going to send you back to the moon!”
“Well, actually, this used to be your mother’s favourite, back when she was your age.”
“It wasn’t?!”
“It was.”
“Not Mum?!
“She would NEVER.”
“Mum only eats spaghetti bolognese.”
“And cheese on toast.”
“And christmas cake and wine.”
“But not this.”
“Never this.”
“Dad was sent to the caves for less than this.”
“The lodger went to prison for less than this.”
“The witch was banished to hell for less than this!”

___________

Notes:

1. Written on 27th May, 2022

A Sea As Pale As A Dead Child’s Eyes

The boy, Robert, my nephew, had been missing two hours now when I saw him in the harbour, his head bobbing up and down in the water between two fishing boats, as if caught in the ropes that tethered them in place and now calling for help in between the slow swell of the incoming waves.

The breathe caught in my throat, tears welled in my eyes, the shock of it, the surprise, the suddenness of the sight. I didn’t even think, no worries for my own wellbeing, no attempts to call for help. I didn’t even kick off my shoes, simply ran into the water, wading through the waves, clambering across the pontoons floating in the shallows, climbing into and out of boats before diving from a small wooden raft down into the depths of the sea.

A single vision then, clear as a painting, as staged as some devastating tableau. Robert floating in glass, the scene bisected by ropes fringed with weeds, his billowing hair lit by a single shaft of light from above, a bubble of air almost lazily forming between his lips, his eyes a piercing blue sharp enough to cut apart my soul.

I surfaced, coughing, choking, panic and horror and shame, of failure, loss. Clinging to the side of the boat I called his name, “Robert! Robert!”, then dived back down. Dived back under to try again, again, again.

There was nothing there, of course. Oh the water was in turmoil, sand swirling in the maelstrom, shapes redolent of ghosts in the tumult. But in those lifeless waters of the harbour there was nothing more.

__________

Notes:

1. Written on the 8th July, 2022
2. An attempt at a ghost story
3. And based upon a dream