David Stevens

Archive for October, 2013|Monthly archive page

A very good month

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2013 at 10:25 am

Hello David,
Congratulations! Your story ‘Avoiding Gagarin’ has been accepted for publication …

That makes me a very happy old builder. Second acceptance for the month … year … century … Details to follow …

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‘He says “Yeh yeh”.’

In Uncategorized on October 31, 2013 at 7:35 am

Any one else remember “Urgh! A Music War”?
We’re all Devo.

The sadness of Casper: Ghost

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2013 at 1:21 am

How can you live

with the fact

a child died

for your cartoon pleasure?

You did him no favours

taming him,

accustoming him

to humans.

Oh yes,

he is a friendly ghost,

and you may count that as

an accomplishment,

but what does it mean?

He craves companions,

he desires contact,

he is less without you.

He is your summer novelty,

your holiday hobby.

Better you had perfected

a coin flourish,

or studied German grammar.

Instead you made a freak.

A bird that cannot fly north for the winter,

a dingo habituated to camp garbage cans,

a politician kissing babies in retirement.

The life of the ghost is meant to be harsh.

It is a fierce path, not lightly chosen.

Yet here we have this bobble head,

trapped in his haunt,

unable to seek that which he desires,

waiting like a puppy dog for his victims.

We all avoid the olde manor now,

his tricks have worn thin

and eagerness is uncool.

It is for the best.

The living are butterflies,

colourful, vibrant, but

good for a season at most.

We move away, we die.

What you have made remains,

keening.

Are you pleased with yourself?

Stay well

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Mission statements, aspirational goals, EAP, policy compliance. On the one hand, box ticking.
On the other, reality.

It is very hard to suffer from a disease that doesn’t officially exist in your country, and is mostly ignored by the medical profession.

Loving the alien

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2013 at 9:07 pm

LOVING THE ALIEN

Sniff of chlorophyl
whiff of ether
Look down
see fronds part and unfurl
cupping
leafy embrace
cool breeze
tugs you in
moss is velvet
you sink the green
plant yourself
lean in and
skin unfurls to mask you
kissing inside and out
you are draped
try to make sense
of distant calls
lose yourself in
the wind blowing
through her branches
are you dead
or are you
loving the alien?

lost on mars
lost on venus
You have your compass
it doesn’t lead you home
spoiled forever
for earth girls now
spoiled like meat.
Press up against
foreign atmosphere.
Do you lose yourself
if you love the alien?

***

RIP Ray Bradbury
new sneakers hitting the pavement
forever

Among the Dead

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2013 at 10:34 am

My grandfather sits in the ruin of his house. It is always night when I am here. The sky is my skull, a low dome seen from the inside. His jaw is strong and held hard, grinding the fossils of his teeth. (Even if he still smoked, he could not. His pipe stem could not be forced between those lips. It would be snapped by those teeth. The end of it would stay in that mouth a hundred years, preserved.)

Wind sweeps the ash. I do not feel the cold. I stare at the strength of that head. I remember bending and kissing that head, like a child’s, as it lay on a pillow. The man I never kissed, who always shook hands. The skull beneath the skin.

That he came back to sit here, among the ruins. He does not decay, instead the house does. Each time I come, it has deteriorated further, taking his place in the grave. The elements do not bother him. If the wind wears him, if water drips him away, leaching away the minerals of him a drop at a time, perhaps it is for the best. Perhaps it is what he desires. As he weathers, mountains are ground down, oceans rise, seas fall. Forests grow and are consumed. The constellations shift, all sped up for him. He is the Time Traveller, he is Rod Taylor in his chair, encased in stone, then freed again. In my visits, I am a shadow. I am the flickering ghost. It is I who am death, I am mortality. We are worn down around him.

He gulps sometimes. The throat works, the jaw moves and clenches. He is biting deeper, getting a better grip on the world. Once or twice he has looked towards me. I stand close. He does not stop me. I am calm in his presence, calm with the nostalgia of grief. The longing for those other worlds I can never visit. Childhood. The past. The lives of others. The drowsy warmth of everything will be alright. The knowledge of grief to come.

That he has returned, and so far, not the others. Preserved in his pride, his inflexible ideas of proper behaviour. The feuds that burned silently within, in his room as he read, as he listened to talk back radio.

It is monochrome here. It suits the grey hair, slicked back along his scalp.

My aunt, white gowned against the window, arms raised and pressing the glass. Could only I see her? Were the adults pretending it was otherwise? My other grandmother, from the other side of my family, smiling, her lips uncertain, her eyes betraying an unease. She knew. We mourned when my aunt left, why did no one tell me she was back? Kept inside, a secret.

All the dead are kept inside, a secret that no one else wants to know. We are all haunted, and sometimes they stare out from the windows of our eyes. They come back, but they are not the same.

My grandfather sits amongst the exposed beams, the drooping wallpaper having outlasted the plasterboard beneath. He has made himself comfortable in the chair that was thrown away long ago. Its return is as great a miracle as his. He is silent. Why do we protest? Why do we bother to rage? The brave new world was always coming, and there was nothing we could do about it. We shall consume the whole world, we shall eat our young, the forests will die, the skies will burn.

There is no moon, no stars, no electricity, no peasant mob brandishing torches, but I see him clear in this night. I cannot think how I first found him here. I think I just knew. He cannot be in this house. It was sold years ago, and rebuilt, and another family lives here. Still, it is where I found him. Perhaps we are in one of those other twenty four dimensions of folded string. I do not know. I just gaze upon him and sit in his quiet presence.

The dead stare. What vision is imprinted on their eyes? We fear what they have seen.

His wife is not there. Will she come? Nobody told me my grandmother was in hospital. I could not answer the phone. I was freezing in a bath of ice, sitting with a child who refused to be comforted unless someone was in there with him, trying to bring his fever down. Later, when I finally was told, in emergency as she, unconscious, clawed at the air, as though prematurely buried and scraping at the coffin lid, I prayed and prayed into her ear, a hundred Hail Mary’s to calm her down, and then those arms rested, they allowed themselves to stop. Thank you God for that.

The dead are all inside. How many skeleton arms drag torsos forward through the mud of my mind, skulls drooping, exposed spines drifting away to nothing? How many more bony arms are yet to come? When shall I join them? What shall I see?

Or will death be banished forever, and we infested us with nanobots that work constantly to keep us fit, keep us happy in our jobs, content in the hell we have made?

These are thoughts I think, when I awake after my visits.

SURPRISE

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2013 at 7:21 am

SURPRISE
Cancer too is a prize
You don’t have to queue at the newsagent’s
to buy a ticket.
They slip it in with the teddy bear,
the Beatrix Potter china setting,
the first photograph album,
unnoticed.

The final draw may be foreshadowed
in the missed stitch in the booties
grandma made
put aside, only used at your Baptism.
(“It was her last pair. Do you think she knew?”)

Unlike the contents of your bowels
or your most recent projectile vomit,
it is not discussed in polite company.

It may stick its head around the corner at 3.30am,
pop into Dad’s thoughts as he tries to settle you
and sees his own mortality as he pictures his own father
rocking him 30 years ago,
and his grandfather walking the floor twenty years before that.
A link in the chain between first and last
Somewhere between the savanna and the heat death of the universe.

You can buy more tickets later on,
or be the lucky recipient of a random allocation.

Just like a five million dollar lottery.
You say you’ll keep working,
but you’ll find that you can’t.
Your colleagues no longer look at you,
well, not the same way.
Early retirement regardless.
And lots of time to think.

Why you should never accept sweets from Jared Diamond

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Don’t read this blog expecting latest updates on anything or commentary on what is happening now. I’ve started season 2 of Breaking Bad, I won’t get to watch the new seasons of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead until next year, and I’ve never seen an advance review copy of a book in my life. I’m behind on everything.
“Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond was a very important book for me, and I can even still remember standing in the store and purchasing it 15 years ago. His “The World Until Yesterday” has been out forever, and I finally obtained a copy the other day and look forward to reading it. Rather than make a comment on something I haven’t read, I include an off-putting quote from his previous book:

In 1849, hungry gold miners crossing the Nevada desert noticed some glistening balls of a candy-like substance on a cliff, licked or ate the balls, and discovered them to be sweet-tasting, but then they developed nausea. Eventually it was realized that the balls were hardened deposits made by small rodents, called packrats … Not being toilet trained, the rats urinate in their nests, and sugar and other substances crystallize from their urine as it dries out … In effect, the hungry gold miners were eating dried rat urine laced with rat feces and rat garbage.

– Collapse by Jared Diamond

Hip to the max

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2013 at 3:27 am

Don’t say I’m no hep cat, I’m hip to where the youngsters are at. I keep myself youthful by staying in touch with my inner child and staying alert to the latest jive. Wanna stay young, have to keep with it, dog! Been listening to Katy Perry singing Roar …

(Do you get the feeling that Poe has lost it since he … well, since he died? Sold out perhaps? Have you read “The Bloody Red Baron” by Kim Newman? Poe becomes the biographer of the Red Baron who is indeed bloody.)

(Thanks to Rachel Stanford)

The oceans die while the coward drinks his coffee and turns the page …

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2013 at 3:11 am

Am I the only person in the world to give up a coffee addiction after watching South Park? Watching Tweek treat his anxiety with coffee I thought, I don’t need the jitters or the upset stomach any more. Yet there I was this morning, having my second cappuccino in two days (I think my sixth cup for the year), and I could feel my nervousness rising. It was the combination of the coffee and reading this article by Greg Ray in the Sydney Morning Herald over breakfast. Ivan Macfadyen sailed across the Pacific and compared to an earlier voyage, found a silent wasteland. The fish are gone, and with them, the birds. I closed my eyes and pictured the massive factory boats, the huge industrial centres floating across the seas, destroying everything in their wake like a Fred Saberhagen Berserker or a city block sized Terminator. Out of sight, this gargantuan wasteful destruction going unchecked. I could not finish the article over breakfast, though I have now.
The work of these ships is described clearly in horrifying detail in George Monbiot’s “Feral“, where he sets out how nothing in the ocean escapes, as the machines even turn over boulders weighing tonnes on the sea floor. Day and night they work, sending us closer to the edge.
I struggle with this. I don’t want to turn a blind eye, yet I need to get through the day, and I cannot do that if I despair. How easy an excuse that becomes to turn away. Yet Monbiot, who has seen more of the world’s environmental horrors than many people, does not fall into this trap. If this was a proper article, I would give you his quote on why we should not despair, that despite the problems of this age, we have previously unavailable opportunities to act individually and collectively to change the world for the better, though we must have courage. However, I misplaced my note. But what I will give you is the final paragraph in an article he has on his website giving career advice which deserves to be repeated all over:

You know you have only one life. You know it is a precious, extraordinary, unrepeatable thing: the product of billions of years of serendipity and evolution. So why waste it by handing it over to the living dead?

Read “Feral” by George Monbiot