28 June 2010

Magpie Tales #20...Amy's Anniversary

  
      Amy would have been twenty today, she thought miserably. Twenty years that she would have spent laughing and living.
     She picked up the brush. The end was a little melted from the radiator, and the bristles were droopy with age. A hair was entwined around it, and for a moment she thought it was Amy's. Then she remembered. She had never seen Amy's hair.
     How could she pretend that Amy had never existed, when it was as clear as day she was being haunted by her ghost? She cradled the brush. It was supposed to be Amy's, she knew that.
     "Are you thinking about It?" Her husband said as he came up behind her.
     She flinched. She shook her head slightly and put down the brush.
     "Her name was Amy."
     He had gone into the other room. She looked sadly at the ceramic beneath the brush. The raised surface showed a lily surrounded by vines. A green stone in the middle had been chipped out roughly.
     Twenty years of marriage, and four children. And all she could think about was Amy.
     "Amy would have wanted to be here," she muttered.
     "What?" her husband asked from the other room. The TV almost drowned his voice out.
     "Her sister's wedding. She would have wanted to be here."
     "Just forget about It."
     "I can't just forget!"
     "I have. It's been twenty years, for God's sake."
     She wiped her eyes. "It was all your fault."
     "It was your parents' idea."
     "How could you let them - or me...why would you do something like that?" She was crying now.
     "She's gone. Think about your other children for once. How do you think it makes them feel to know that you care so much about someone they've never known, when you won't even return their phone calls?"
     "But I do! I care about them!" She sobbed hysterically.
     "I know," he sighed. "But they don't. You can never bring Amy back, no matter how much you try."
     "Amy is my best friend."
     She head the couch groan as he rose. He put his arms around her.
     "She can still be your friend. But she will never hold a conversation with you, or hug you, or tell you she loves you. She can't, but the others can. Let them be your children."
     "Okay," she said softly. She slipped out from his arms.
     She put the brush back into the wooden box. She stretched on her toes to slide it carefully onto the highest shelf. A collection of cobwebs and dust bunnies fell on her jumper. She sneezed involuntarily.
     He went back to the TV. He wasn't a bad husband, he had been as devastated as she was. He kept himself frozen to Amy by forgetting she had ever had a name.
     Amy's birthday always made the grief surface. She would sit for hours in the bedroom, then finally get the box down. Tenderly take the contents out, and sit looking out at the garden. Then she would get angry at him.
     He was angry with himself, for what he had done twenty years ago. Her parents were buried down the street, but she never visited their graves. He left flowers every Sunday, because he knew how they had felt. If it had been any of his daughters, he would have done the same.
     She came out of the bedroom and got her coat. He got up to drive her to Amy's grave.
     They sat on Amy's bench watching the sun set.
   
     She returned the phone calls and bought a new dress for the wedding.


Thinking of twentieth anniversaries, as this is the twentieth Magpie. Traditional flower; lily.The traditional gem; an emerald. The traditional gift is ceramic/china. It symbolizes the beautiful, elegant, and delicate existence of love for one another over the past years.

Microfiction Monday #37

"Everything is fun underwater," they cajole her. She almost follows their bubbly laughter. Then she decides she wants to keep her long hair.

24 June 2010

Theme Thursday: Triangle

Waves cascade over the ship as it fights time. It seems as though the wood ages before her eyes, and the ropes mildew and unravel. The sailors' clothes tatter, their strength ebbs as their spines twist and gnarl.
She cannot speak as the iron corrodes and gaping holes open to let in water. The ship is sluggish, but she can see a rocky pass ahead.
She closes her eyes and thinks of clocks turning widdershins, but they will only turn sunwise in her mind. She blinks back salt. Tears or sea water.
The ship rocks, but the pass is closer. The hull is down in the water, the bow almost lower than the deck. She can hear iron creaking, rusting, falling away.
The pass is just there, she can see the rocks poking through the water. Never before has she been so happy to see ship-wreckers.
The ship inches between them and passes though.
She breathes. Her eyes are open again, but she can't recall closing them. Before her the ship is intact. It looks new. Nothing is amiss, the ropes are not frayed, the iron not rusted.
She looks at the sailors in amazement. They glance back, unperturbed and relaxed. She looks behind her. The pass is as before, but beyond it there is only calm ocean.
She sits down again. It must have been her imagination. In her pocket, her compass spins crazily and her watch has stopped.

 Theme Thursday, where interpretations run amok.

22 June 2010

Dawn

One day, that is all dawn
wake to light seeping through lace
and sleep to light saturated music

One day of cold darkness
wake to close black atmosphere
sleep to wavering night-song

Two days that are opposites
where the sun-pendulum turns
and reflects halogen the other way

Two days book-end the year of light
and sleep soundly for another birthday
all-night and all-day are immortal


One Single Impression

21 June 2010

Magpie Tales #19...Knife's Story



He notices the blade is nicked as he runs his finger along it. Softly, slowly, so he doesn't get cut. It surprises him. This knife is his now, but before him it belonged to others, who were careful and would not have nicked it so carelessly.
He doesn't know its story, but the knife screams it to him. He cannot hear it.

Beechwood tells of green leaves blocking the sun. Dappled shadows across roots. Of axes and grunts, teetering, falling, thumping with a bounce. A fishtail, large calloused hands moved with care along it, smoothing it. Burning, leaving a rust coloured scar.
Steel tells of dark caves and chisels, booming explosions. Of melting pots and dripping like molasses. Being held against a stone while sparks flew. Fitting carefully to the beech.
Knife calls to beechmast, opened for bitter flavour, still food. It calls to oak and maple, and sycamore, carved and left on the mantle. It calls to the land of fir trees where it was born.
It longs for John the Baptist's fingers, slender and strong. It screams to stone and blood, where coffins rest forever. It shouts of death and pain, and graves. Where a woman died and a man sat with her. It screams of granite and scratches, and iron. Iron that dripped from it down the gravestone, and rusted when it was dry.
Knife reaches for missing piece. Evergreens have grown up around it where graves are unmarked and forgotten. It calls iron from arteries, bubbling up to the surface. Its pores soak up rust-coloured liquid.

He winces as the nick in the knife snags on his flesh. Blood dribbles down the blade, following the track of the past. He doesn't notice.

20 June 2010

Status and Haiku

I'm very happy to say that I'm almost recovered from being ill, MM has gotten worse but is also on the mend, and DD seems to be showing the first signs of illness.
I spent yesterday at a workshop. MM and I got up early and spent the better part of three hours driving to it. Luckily we listened to a very singalongable CD by the Wolfe Tones, so got through it okay.
We saw two very beautiful fields covered in golden flowers and a tiny train carrying peat with a manually operated barrier gate (complete with an operator no less).
The workshop was pretty cool. There were twenty there. It had already started when I arrived, so I snuck in the door and crept to the last available seat right at the front.
My favourite part was the group story. Each person said a line to as she pointed to them, not at all in order, so you never knew who was going to get chosen next. No one seemed to get that stuck for a sentence either.

This is one of the things I wrote while at the workshop:

across the highway
animal migration failed
red, raw, flat bodies

17 June 2010

Evil Illness Monster (Yay, Being Creative While Being Sick!)

I am very inclined to believe an evil illness monster lives in my carpet. Every time I go near it on my hands and knees I wake up the next day really sick.
Case one; last month, when I had to clean my room, so that the professional carpet cleaner could come in (don't you hate cleaning for the cleaners...). I got a sore throat, filled an entire large grocery bag with used tissues (yeah, you might not have needed to know that), was home from school for a whole week (did I mention I really like school), and was utterly miserable... Not to mention that I proceeded to pass it both both MM and DD.
Case two; two nights ago, when I dropped a needle (sewing paper is fun) on the floor and had to search for it. I got a really sore throat, and my whole head was fuzzy and heavy. My ears hurt, and my throat hurt, my eyes hurt, my scalp hurt (I tried to brush my hair and it felt like I was using sandpaper instead of a hairbrush). In fact, they STILL hurt. My ears are uber sensitive, I can't listen to myself typing without wincing. I can't swallow, let alone talk. Swallowing the paracetamol pills every four hours is torture, and I can't be comfortable with blankets or with a tee-shirt and shorts, because my hands are inevitably the total opposite of my feet in temperature.
I don't mind getting sick every so often. It makes up for feeling really great the rest of the time. I am just tired of being sick, seeing as how I was just sick not that long ago, and why is it so nice out? It's summer, and I want to be outside, not miserable.
Granted, my bedroom is really not a healthy place to sleep. Firstly, it is an exterior wall with little to no insulation. Secondly, it borders the bathroom, which leaks. My bedroom harbours mildew, mould, and spiders. The house loves to keep in moisture, and opening the window makes my bedroom cold and it gets very little sun exposure not to mention the trees outside.
Possibly being sick will strengthen my immune system enough to totally defend against any further evil illness carpet monster onslaughts. That is quite probably the very thing I said last time. Well look at me now. If my immune system was doubly strengthened, then the evil illness monster's attack was quadrupled. Backfire!
I wanted to post this for three reasons. One, to vent my frustration at being sick (again) and also living in such a crap house (and bedroom), which we can't move out of. Since we rent the house, there is no option of wood floors (the linoleum in the kitchen is placed right on the concrete...talk about great  installation). Wood floors are better than carpets for so many reasons; firstly, they don't have (as many) hiding places for bugs, bacteria, and other unhealthy/microscopic things. Secondly, they are easier to clean. Thirdly they look nice. Fourthly, the carpets are probably as old as the house (1950s-1970s anyone?), and wood floors would be new. I have allergies (cat and dog hair/dander and grass...I know, right? I love cats and dogs, and grass...who doesn't?) and asthma (thank you asbestos in senior infants building), so carpets are really really really a bad idea.
Okay...second reason I wanted to post this. Being sick is one of those things that's hard to imagine, unless you are sick at that moment. Just in case I need a record of how it feels to be sick for some short story/poem/passage in novel. And also in case I am finding it hard to be sympathetic with someone else who is sick.
Last reason; self pity. Maybe if I moan about it and wallow in misery, I might feel better when I'm done. Yeah right.
Oh and also, maybe telling other people about the evil illness monster will prove it to be a fake, and it will release its hold on the carpet and go live in a swamp somewhere.

16 June 2010

Theme Thursday: Camera

So, if you haven't visited Ireland yet, here are some reasons to get on a plane.



These were all taken in Ireland by me or a member of my family, so if you want to know any specifics about any of them, just ask.

14 June 2010

BUGGED...Eavesdrop to Get Published*


BUGGED is a brilliant new writing project for the UK in Summer 2010. This is how it works, so if you live in the UK, like to write, and can listen...

On July 1st 2010, go forth and…eavesdrop! Listen in to conversations and fragments of speech around you. Be discreet.

Write a new piece of work based on what you hear. Poems of up to 60 lines, stories up to 1000 words, flash fiction up to 150 words, scripts up to 5 minutes long.

Submit it to BUGGED by email after July 1st, and before August 15th {see here for more details}.

The best incoming work will be posted on the BUGGED blog. The earlier it arrives, the better chance you have of beating the crowd.

The very best of the work submitted will be published in a printed anthology.

*Obviously more steps are involved, and include writing a story/poem/script worthy of publication...Yes, the title was just to draaaaaaw you in.

13 June 2010

Paths


If you choose your path, how do you choose it?

Is it just that all the signs seem to point that way?
Or are you setting off into unexplored territory?
Is it a game of 'eeny meeny miniy mo'?
Or because somehow the path you were on led you to it?
Is it that you felt pressured to take it?
Or was it just a happy detour from a less favourable path?
Just because it would be fun?
Because your friends took it first?
Did you know you were on it before it was too late to turn back?


Just contemplating the different reasons for doing things...such as reasons for becoming a Goth {and no, I'm not talking about myself}.

11 June 2010

Magpie Tales #18...King George VI, 12 May 1937



George the VI would have curled his lips
disgusted at the petty toys made for the 12 of May
logos and dates, and maybe his name, but that's all
cheap things that crack and chip the next day

But for one, made on the last turn of the wheel
faulted slightly, too slightly to tell. It made it stronger
the man who bought it needed a jug, that's all
because he needed it, he kept it safe longer

Cracked by age, no soft hand, weathered by time
spiderweb cracks along  the crown almost invisible,
gossamer threads of age. George could not have asked
for a better reminder of his reign to be visible
seventy-three years after he took the stage.

05 June 2010

Magpie Tales #17...Angel at Heart


she is what
a frozen desert cannot weather
no icy winds can touch her
no whipping sand can smooth her
even years buried cannot mark her
time slips between stone and metal
and even birds avoid her
her lifeless eyes open wide in surprise
mouth agape to catch the ashes of a cigarette
when men lent to light it and stayed
watching her, expecting something
but what, from a cold bust?
something more than shock,
recognition...and a blink
to moisten dead eyes that can see now
I see it now why she looks the way she does
ecstatic and afraid, on the verge of flight and staying put
to see far beyond her gaze, to see the End
she sees it, and she fears it, but she wants it
to be no longer an immovable immortal...statue
but to be
an angel
at last

04 June 2010

Nostalgia

As I go back and label old posts, all the way back to September 2009, I can't help but giggle.

So many memes, so many stories, so many poems. And my most often used label is 'murder,' 'suicide,' 'death.'

Ah, the memories...

Another thing is looking back at all my old Magpie Tales. This is week sixteen, can you believe it? I was so naive when I stared it, such long stories, needing so much work. I think I am better now {I hope}.


03 June 2010

Theme Thursday: White

a diamond held up to the light is worthless
inflated to something special, precious
the real diamond is what comes from it
from facets that catch and release it
light that is every colour, any colour, but no colour
sprayed like the grotesque homicide of a faerie
across a surface that becomes three dimensional
with the the waves of light; violet, red, and clover
that caress the shores of chipped paint and peeling wallpaper
land in a cove where light bounces off tiles and chrome
and all in your kitchen, no renovation required
to make a palace worthy of you


I forgot it was Thursday today! oops! I planned to schedule this post a few days ago, but forgot. This week felt strange; Monday felt like Friday, and so did yesterday. I don't know what today feels like...Tuesday?:)

02 June 2010

Magpie Tales #16...Pinch-Toe Shoes

Yes I know, I missed it!
Today is Wednesday, and sadly the deadline for Magpie Tales is Tuesday. Despite my aforementioned excuse, I really should have posted. The thing is, I didn't find the prompt very...inspiring. No insult to willow or the shoes.
But now I am free of my academic chains for a whole three months, I shall get down to the very strict business of writing.
Ah yes, that forgotten word.
I have never missed a Magpie yet (I count it among one of my greater accomplishments considering my acutely tiny attention span). I don't count a day late as missing it, as long as it gets posted at all, so I will try something.


hairy as a yeti, stocky as a hobbit
big foot, left foot, they don't even stock it!
your feet are so big they don't fit in the car
your shoes are so enormous, leather shouldn't stretch that far!
but with a pair of teensy heels, you can be the fool
squeezing swollen ankles into pig trotter lumps
you think you look cool
Here's the sad truth, it's untrue you look nice
your red cheeks make your arms look like boiled rice
you look like a lobster three days dead in the sun
you can't even walk, let alone run
you totter and titter at your helpless state
no one can help you, they'd collapse with the weight
your support yourself on your umbrella with stains
it's so crushed outwards it can't stop the rain
you waddle and wallop people aside
never even changing your stride
it's a fact of life people get in your way
they would, when you eat the whole buffet
When your put on your pinch-toe shoes,
I can't help but giggle and watch you lose
what's left of your dignity, (not much to start)
your fat is in layers right down to your heart
some hearts are frozen, waiting to be thawed
but your heart is stuffed with acres of straw
if you were a scarecrow, you'd feed forty cows
not to mention three donkeys, four hens, and ten sows
you are funny to watch, but thrice super-sized
means you are a walking hamburger waiting to die
when you go, it won't be without a fight
on your way down you'll suffocate twenty knights
all the king's men and his horses too
can't even begin to consider moving you
they'd slip a disc or rupture their spine
or whatever happens when you try to roll a giant swine
you'd lie there and rot, the birds would pick you clean
there'd be a giant graveyard where you and the knights had been
and on the ground at the tip of your knee
they'd find a pair of little shoes under the cheery tree
they'd figure out that you had died of skeletal overdrive,
if not for the shoes, you'd still be alive.
it just goes to show
they don't make them in your size for a reason, you know!

‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’ Book Review

We read ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’ in school this year. Needless to say after you've read the review, I wasn't too fond of it. Not least because I felt like we were being insulted by being presented with a book far below the reading standard of our class (the reading level is 9-12 years old!). However, our teacher maintained that some students still had difficulty with it. 
I also have a bias of being subjected to slave literature and racism literature consistently throughout primary school in America to teach me the valuable lesson that enslaving other humans seems not to be a smart idea, though many people got (are getting) away with it. I may not condone slavery, but I still feel this is propaganda, even if it is the accepted truth.
I would have been far more receptive to a novel about Irish people, possibly the immigrants in Boston, New York, and England who were discriminated against, as long as we're on racism and discrimination. We do go to school in Ireland, yes?
Just one more disclaimer...I have not read the other two books about the Logan family, so I don't pretend to base my opinions on the entire "series." This is coming from the perspective of reading a single novel.
Andddd here it is!

A book set in Depression Era America, where a family struggled to keep their land and keep together amid many hardships. Sound familiar? ‘The Grapes of Wrath?’ No this novel is ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’ by Mildred Taylor.
The story is set in Mississippi where the Logan family is discriminated against because they are black. Besides the fact that this topic has been virtually exhausted, and one more novel about racism in the south, or racism in the north, or slavery in America, can’t be too much better than all the forerunners like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ and ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ one has to wonder at Taylor’s motivation for writing the novel. She says herself that the novel is based on stories her father told her as a child. Perhaps the rest of us would have benefited more had they stayed unpublished.
The novel is told through the point of view of a nine-year-old child, Cassie Logan. Successful, well-written, and thought-provoking novels like ‘The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas’ have pulled a point of view like this off extremely well. However, Taylor uses language like ‘…I stood up dusting my bottom…’ amid large words like ‘…emaciated-looking…’ that even a well-educated nine-year-old is unlikely to know.
The plot? Well let me put it this way; it is like climbing a hill where each time you think you are nearing the top, you see there is another small hill, and then another, and when you finally scale the summit, you find that it is all a huge disappointment. You can’t see for miles, and looking back the way you came, you feel only a sense of regret for the wasted time you spent climbing.
Somehow each time the children are singled out by a white person they find a way to get back without getting caught. When they are splashed continually by the Jefferson Davis school bus, they dig a ditch to stop it in its tracks. They are not caught of course, nor are they later when Cassie beats up a white girl for forcing her to step into the road.
Cassie’s brothers are somewhat stereotypical; there is her older bother Stacey, still a child but trying to be a man, younger Christopher-John, who is learning to make his own decisions, and impeccable Little Man, who must always be clean.
Taylor uses dialogue very effectively as slang and confusing phrases are kept to a minimum. However, I doubt it was too much of a challenge to her, being born in Mississippi. The only other good point are her descriptions such as ‘…the narrow sun-splotched road wound like a lazy red serpent…’ which are beautifully executed but don’t add much to characterization or the plot, the main drives of this novel.
Each major conflict is not resolved in a realistic manner for the 1933 time frame. Then along comes the end, which just leaves you wondering what all the build-up was about. Mildred Taylor can certainly build up the tension, but she releases it more like a slow leak than a big burst. The end is the only major event that is solved in a historically correct fashion, in my opinion. It is as if, by writing the novel about growing up, Taylor felt the only way to achieve a ‘big-bang’ ending was to let Cassie see the world through rose-coloured glasses right until the very last page.
The message of the book is; life is always fair until it isn’t. Everything works out at first, then one time it doesn’t, and you finally realise that all the other times something had to give, but you just couldn’t see it because you were a child. It’s okay now though, because you’re old enough to worry about taxes, and ponder the fleeting nature of dust and the permanent nature of racism.
The bad points about this book far outweigh the good, and I have to say that readers who have enjoyed other books written about the same time and with similar themes are likely to be grossly disappointed.
The only people I would recommend to read this book are those ‘tired men’ described by G. K. Chesterton, who said, ‘There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read.’ 

I don't pretend my views are fair or kind, but they are honest as far as honest about my opinions can go.
I would also like to say that I loved 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas', enjoyed 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', and didn't really like 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' though that might change with a re-read.
Now...after that lovely review, if you would like to buy the book (or leave a particularly nasty comment on Amazon, which I don't suggest), here you go. 
I give it:

Plot: **
Characters: ****
Voice: ***
Originality:
Dialogue: ***
 Which means:

And....I'm back!

Firstly, I haven't been blogging for five or so days, because of my Summer Exams (that's my excuse anyways). But I meant the title more like a "I'm coming back to myself."
Recently, all my posts have been fiction, but, while it's brilliant and all, that doesn't really say anything about me, just that I write good (only kidding, write well). I was reading over my previous posts, like from August 2009, and I was thinking, you know what, I really like my voice. I like to read my own writing! As a reader.
That's just a bit weird for me.
I was at a party on Saturday last, lots of writers and musicians which was great. Anyways, it was suggested that I do book reviews on the blog, because people like other people's opinions about stuff before they buy it.
I thought I dunnno, meh... Then I thought it over again, and I thought hmmmm, nice idea. Then I thought, well...I don't buy all that many new books (none). Then I thought, well who cares, right? It's my blog, and I am in charge, and I say I like the idea.
And since I already had a book review....


EDIT: MM has informed me that technically it's not my blog, it's our blog. "But you know, Aoife, if you want it that way, I'll just crawl in a corner and die back off."
Okay okay, so it's not my blog. Make it yours too MM; post something enlightening or entertaining :P