I (sometimes) call myself Mr. Pondersome. I'm a rather wordy, weirdy person. I say hullo a lot. I write a lot more. While you're here, why not give some of it a read?

Friday, 31 October 2014

ME AND HER (a.k.a. The Chiller Main Feature)

            No matter how much I try to keep up, I always end up needing to slow down to catch my breath. It's not that she's particularly fast, it's just that everyone seems to have longer strides than I do. She stops to look back.
            'You were telling me about this hill,' she says.
            'Was I?' It sounds about right, I do have some strong opinions. 'Yes, well. I think it used to be steeper.'
            'Really? The cobbles look old.'
            'Cobblestones always look old. Perhaps the first week they look new, but then they get trod on and covered in whatever's on the soles of passing shoes. Mud. Chewing gum. Other things that stick. Then the rain comes.'
            'I was going to say.'
            'Yes. Sorry about that image.'
            'I was the one who made it up in my head.'
            'But I prompted you.'
            'Yes, I suppose you did. It's your fault.'
            I like this girl but when she says stuff like that, makes jokes as believable as that, I really don't know where I am with her. 'Where are we again?'
            'On this hill. That used to be steeper.'
            'Let me rephrase: where are we going again?'
            She pauses while I catch up. 'You're escorting me home.'
            'Oh, yes.' I don't even remember her name. I check the time. It's dark out but then it's always dark when I set off home from work. We must have been walking for an hour. 'Wow.'
            'Don't worry about it,' she says. 'We're almost to my house.'
            'Sorry. I just completely lost track there.'
            'Do you usually keep to a tight schedule?'
            'Nah. I just notice that the time I get back is roughly the same each day. One of the benefits of walking, you rarely need to take a detour.'
            'I'm new to the area.'
            'Yes. I think you said.'
            She clutches her cardigan around her waist. I'm in my tatty jacket.
            'Are you cold?' I say. 'I can always give you my coat.'
            She smiles. 'You keep it. I'll be fine, I'm just a wuss.'
            'If you're sure.'
            'That I'm a wuss? Yeah, I'm definitely one of those.'
            'Don't bring yourself down. You have a lovely taste in cardigans.'
            'Thank you.' She's ahead of me again. 'So don't you drive then? At all?'
            'No. Never even took the test.'
            'Ever thought about it?'
            'Yes. I just don't think I'm co-ordinated enough.' I search for the peak of the hill. 'Also walking is healthier. Better for me.'
            'You are looking nice and trim.'
            'Thanks. A hard slog is good for the figure.'
            'Slog.' She chuckles. 'What a word. It's a very English word. Northern English.'
            'You mean Yorkshire? Well I don't know about you but I am bred that way.'
            'I was too but then I lost my accent. All this travelling about.'
            'Travelling where exactly?'
            'Here and there. I tend to stick to Europe though, move all over it.' She sighs and turns to me. 'That's a hard slog if there ever was one.'
            'So have you been to Italy?'
            'Yes. Why?'
            'That's where 'slog' comes from, I think. Latin.'
            'It's just it sounds so Northern.'
            We've reached the top of the hill at last. She turns right so I follow. If memory serves this leads to a cul de sac so it can't be much longer before we get to wherever we're going.
            'It was on a night like this...' I say for no discernible reason. I just like the sound of it.
            She frowns. 'Is this the beginning of a story?'
            'Hang on, just let me think. It was on a night like this...that I saw a spaceship.'
            'You knew it was a spaceship? Not just a UFO?'
            'Well I like to think it was a spaceship. It was probably just like one of the things they always say it is: light on gas or a prototype for something.'
            'I don't know why people aren't more excited about that second option. They're usually supposedly prototypes for new aircrafts, aren't they? I think that's more intriguing.'
            'I suppose so. Why would they be testing at night though? Are these night-flyers of a sort? Are they meant to operate on shadow as opposed to light?'
            'Possibly. But you were saying about a UFO...?'
            'Yes. The UFO. It was on a night like this that I saw it. I was passing Drucker Drive, which is somewhere back there, and I just looked up and saw something weaving through the trees.'
            'Tree-weaving night-flyers?'  
            'Possibly. It changed lights. Blue to white.'
            'Crikey. Perhaps it was the police.'
            'Flying that low?'
            'Or floating that high?'
            We laugh.
            'I didn't really see enough of it to say one way or another,' I say. 'I just kept my distance.'
            'Were you following your usual route home?'
            'Yes, actually.' I cough. 'To think, all the people who say they've experienced something and they really haven't. It must be terrible to not have other witnesses.'
            'Did you have witnesses?'
            'Not that I know of.'
            'Do you feel mad?'
            'Like I just made it up?'
            'Oh, yes. That's why I make jokes whenever I mention it.'
            She looks me in the eye. 'You have a good sense of humour.'
            'You must too to keep walking and talking with a UFO enthusiast.'
            'Hey,' she says though I don't quite know if this is to me or to her or to anyone in particular. She's looking down so she certainly isn't trying to get my attention. Obviously, she already has it.
            My phone buzzes in my pocket. For some reason I've put it onto silent. Seems about right: no distractions whilst I'm talking to a pretty woman.           
            It's dad. He says Pollyanna has been rushed to the hospital. He sent two texts which were presumably meant to be one; the 'g' that should be at the end of 'bleeding' is at the start of the second text.
            'What's wrong?' the woman says.
            'My sister,' I say. 'She's bleeding.'
            'A lot?'
            'I don't know.'
            'But she's in hospital?'
            'Well that's good. You can leave me here if you like. I think there was a bus stop back down that road.'
            'I don't think any buses stop here at this time.'
            'Then call a taxi.'
            'To be honest, I'm not even sure where to say to pick me up.'
            The woman blinks. 'All right. There's a sign right outside my house, you can ring from there. We're not far now.' She sighs. 'For a moment there, I thought you were just trying to get away from me. Absurd, I know.'
            'I really don't think faking my sister being rushed to A&E would be something I'd lie about.'
            'Of course not.'
            'How far would you say we are now?'
            'About five minutes.'
            I check my watch again. 'Right.'
            'Sorry. I only said that because of all the other texts.'          
            'The other texts?'
            'You mentioned two other texts: one at the beginning of this walk and one about halfway through.'
            'I don't think I did.'
            'Well, I certainly didn't imagine them.'
            I pull my phone back out. 'Did I say what they were about?'
            'One was work and the other a friend, I think.'
            I scroll down for the rest of my messages.
            Curtis: 'Hi. You left your key in the machine again. Had to report it to Bill, he was right there. He wants to see you first thing tomorrow. Sorry, mate.'
            Hannah: 'I need to talk. I've been thinking again. Not good thoughts.' Three missed calls.
            'Oh shit,' I say.
            'Are you having a bad night?'
            'But how did you do that?'
            'How did I do what?'
            'How did I just forget?'
            'I don't see how I'm to blame for that.'
            'No, sorry. You're right. It's just a case of bad timing.'
            'I didn't intend to distract you.'
            'I know.'
            'It just happened.'
            'Yes, I know.'
            'You're doing the gentlemanly thing here.'
            'Maybe. I just don't tend to forget important things this quickly.'
            'It's all right. You may have just blocked it out, it happens.'
            'Well, I am usually pretty tense about work. And my friend only really contacts when she's contemplating...'
            'Contemplating what?'          
            The woman looks down again. 'Oh God.'
            'She has people there to watch her.' I put my phone away. 'So it's definitely only a couple of minutes away now?'  
            'The sign? Yes.'
            'What road is it called again?'
            She pauses. 'You know it's dropped out of my head too.'
            'Yes. We've been talking for so long, I've forgotten. Whatever happened, it must have happened to both of us.'      
            'Then again it is work. Who really remembers the road that they work on? Unless you're in higher management, of course.'
            'Didn't you say you were going home?'
            'You said that you were going home. The long way round but still.'
            She dithers. 'Home isn't far away from work.'
            'Didn't you say you just got here?'
            'I said I tended to travel but now I'm working in this area for a bit.'
            'When did you start?'
            'Tonight actually, I'm set to start tonight. That's probably why I forgot about it. Blocking out work stress, just like you.'
            'How long have you lived nearby?'
            'About a week.'
            'Nice house?'
            'A bungalow.'
            'Very nice.'
            I look at her while she isn't looking at me. The rest of her is quite unassuming, a little frumpy in that cardigan but that doesn't really bother me. Right now it seems like I'm beside a real person, a woman who is at the very least pleasant to talk to if there is no other goal in sight. And yet when she looks me in the eyes...
            That's a phrase I actually hate: 'And yet when she looks me in the eyes...', it's a cheap lyric, love song fodder usually followed by the inevitable rhyme of 'surprise'. Nevertheless when she looks me in the eyes, it's like I'm suddenly on a quest. I don't usually escort strange women to places. It's creepy and, like she said, I usually have a tight schedule. And yet one look and I'm stuck walking with her until she finally reaches her destination.
            All I really know is that she has a cardigan and can walk for ages. She might have a bungalow, she might be working nearby. Only might.
            As soon as a familiar landmark turns up, a street sign, I'm stopping and calling a taxi. She can't have much further to walk and besides, the streets tonight have been surprisingly quiet.
            She turns to me and laughs. It's not the smile, the nose wrinkle or anything else, it's definitely those eyes.
            'Sorry.' I shake my head and blink. 'What was I saying?'
            'You were telling me about this cul de sac,' she says.

FLASHES OF DARKNESS (a.k.a. A Trilogy of Fiendish Flash Fiction)


    I knew a guy who worked there.
    He kept going on about a door at the back with a sign reading 'THIS DOOR IS ALARMED'. He took a crowbar to open it.
    He sent me a text: 'No sound'.
    Of course not. The alarm's silent.
    They even kept the crowbar.

Egg Timers

            Men in orange shirts were handing out old egg timers on the streets one day. They were already ticking, set for an hour.
            People went home, tried to stop the ticking but they couldn't so they waited.
            When the moment came, the timers hatched. The ringing started. It never stopped.

Murmurs of Approval

            Entering the boardroom is like entering an echo chamber. The only sound is low, quiet and perturbed.
            The source is just above the shadows cast by the tallest chairs.
            Listen, there are now two sounds: humming and drumming, lips and fingers.
            You've been called in. A decision has been reached.

HALLOWEEN NIGHT ACROSS FROM THE MANSION (a.k.a. The Horror Begins in Earnest)

            'There was a fisherman,' Monty said, getting comfortable on the grass. 'He was working early in the morning one day, near a cliff side. I forget which. Anyway he looks up for a minute and sees something on the cliff's edge, bright white cloth wafting about in the breeze. He manages to get the boat in a little closer and sees that it's a woman, possibly in her nightie.'
            'Like this twist,' Darius muttered.
            'Keep your eye out. They might come to the window.' Monty sighed. 'As I was saying, there was a woman on the cliff top in her nightie. Our fisherman is dangling his line in the water whilst he's watching this spectacle and suddenly he notices that all the fish are rising up on their side. Dead. He feels ambivalent, on the one hand it's his lucky day but on the other this is all fairly ominous.'
            Darius stretched out his fingers. Monty waited until the cracking had stopped.
            'He throws out a net and brings a few of the fish in. He pulls one out and examines it, looks it right in the mouth. There's something there, a small scrap of white cloth, not as bright as it once was. He checks a few of the other fish and finds that they all have tatters and tears of white cloth in their mouths too.
            'The fisherman looks back up at the cliff top again. The woman is now dancing naked.' Monty raised his finger before Darius could say a word. 'And then she dives. He steers the boat away as fast as he can but somehow she disappears halfway down. Even her scream fades away.'
            Darius picks up a couple of cashews and chews on them. 'That's a good tale. Quite spooky.'
            'Only quite?'
            'Hang on.' Darius looked out through the crosshairs. He fired once. Inside the mansion, a teenager's head exploded. 'That's one.'
            'Fairly sloppy,' Monty remarked.
            'Oh, get over yourself. Like the old man said: the messier, the better.'
            'I still don't quite see how this will perpetuate that old myth of his.'
            Darius turned to Monty. 'It's not about us new snipers, it's about the old bullets.'
            'I'm sure,' Monty said. 'Personally I just think he's extremely prejudice towards squatters.'
            Darius laughed before lining up another shot. It went clean through the kitchen window and through the target's leg. 'Now I've got a ghost story for you.'
            Monty fired at someone in the attic. 'Go on then.'
            'There was a lot of barking on my street when I was a kid. Some old girl kept this pack of Dobermans within her back garden. They barked late into the night.
            'One night the Dobermans got out. I wasn't there to see it, I was out on my first contract. Anyway when I got back, people said the dogs had split up, spread out across the neighbourhood, all barking, all driving the neighbourhood round the fucking bend.
            'The funny thing was they found the dogs dead, every single one of them, mysterious circumstances. So what was it that was barking? It took a while before it stopped.'
            'When the old girl died?' Monty said.
            'Something like that.'
            'I'll give it to you, that was chilling.'
            'Thank you.'
            Monty caught a teenager with a bullet to the chest as he was creeping past the thick ivy on the left side of the mansion. The lad span around and collapsed.
            'You could have sexed it up though,' Monty said. 'The execution.'
            Darius snorted.
            They just had to hold this position for the rest of the night. The old man would be round in the morning to 'discover' the damage, point out the old bullet casings and claim to be haunted.
            Another year of life for a deathly tale. The scary part was that Monty and Darius would be long gone by then.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

HULL IS NOT A FIELD (a.k.a. One Last Poem Before Halloween Stuff)

Hull is not a field.

Ships are not made of grass.

You can’t pierce the shell of a branch of study.

You can’t remove the outer rind of a sports venue.

East Riding is not an open land.

Well perhaps.


Maybe it is.

To an extent,

Hull could be a field.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

POETRY FROM THE POETRY CHAINS OF DOMINIC LUXFORD (a.k.a. Randomly-Selected Lines from McSweeney's Issue 22 Book Turned Into New Poems)


it looked so much like the real thing.
The Moon,
dark, hair growing back down there.

Expression: 'hell hounds on my trail',
almost filled our bed,
made of anything, except me
on the sea.


Couples spoke little,
small. It's like
hypnagogic trances of language,
my large magnetic car
after people, those poets wholly
now in these ones we have.
Two loaves of bread, white hands
see a domino going down.




TWO POEMS FROM DOG WALK ROUTES (a.k.a. Two Little Poems Which Make Slightly More Sense)


Don't think I didn't salute you
out of ignorance,
protest or
foul temper.
I just didn't like the look of the kids
surrounding you,
resting against your pedestal.


Autumn leaf scrapes down
the white load of a lorry
parked illegally.

MISHEARD (a.k.a. Can You Figure Out What's Actually Being Said?)

Oi, wash lead ashtray!
You cunt of bean!
Year of queues in me, off lion?
Apps sew loot, Lee!
Doughnut teller.
Oi, my taff two!
Cum a noun. Pleas.
Awe white. Justice wants.
Than cue.
Shut up.

THE PELICAN CLOSET (a.k.a. My Nonsensical Contribution to National Poetry Day 2014)

Bowler devotion at the Pelican Closet - 
Lizard sleepy,
Priest bored,
Fingers cowed;
their balling rumps. Peaches really.

The swooned waiter speaks,
Southern, dirty, licked.
Questions puffed - Hall or yard? 
Guttural. Hanged.
Replying muted.

In the backroom
quilts glow, track prose faithfully
while the fussy thinning boiler wrangles
vouchers for the tripped grad student,
his sulk honed,

You creak, Silly Cody,
grip baskets first cheated by Billy,
now quills rustling
and questioned by The Six.

We're drifting pied,
risky balls hiring,
skillfully sore but found in yeast crimes.
The beastly peal of moody willed dark
and the Fetish Drone announces
lurid malted debt.