Tag Archives: sketches

Mount Pleasant – Prologue

As you will now no doubt be reminded that Solkyri’s new album, Mount Pleasant, launches on March 6, 2020, and I am in the process of writing a piece of flash fiction for each track. Grab it, have a listen.

You can read Holding Pattern, and Pendock and Progress, the first two pieces.

The band is hosting an album launch on March 28, 2020 (if you’re in Sydney, Australia).

I am launching one more piece, a prologue to the album. After this I am setting out to write six more pieces for the other tracks and will launch the collection as a chapbook later in the year, probably before June (to allow for typesetting, set up, ordering copies and the like – stay tuned).

The prologue sets the scene for the thematic focus of the album: deception, decait and false facades. The stories are based on the inspiration behind each track, and interpreted in my own way, and my response to the music.

Mount Pleasant

Prologue

Four boys pulled up on their BMX bikes at the sign declaring the name of their suburb, dismounted and dropped their bikes just off the footpath in the unmown grass and collected rocks from the broken edging of the bitumen where it crumbled and exposed the road base.

The white reflective background of the sign mimicked a rainbow from the right angle as the boys took aim at the black and faded capital letters. This invisible line of demarcation creating a boundary of narrowed expectations as thin and carcinogenic as a cigarette. Scratched and pockmarked with its own acne.

The boys threw their rocks with no other intention than to score a hit, celebrating the ping as each rock struck. One of them drifted away, found a length of stick and started swinging through the heads of grass and weeds. He flung the stick towards his mates, skittering it along the footpath as it twisted and jumped, hitting one of them in the back of the legs. It was thrown back with greater force, catching him across the shins.

“Shithead.”

“Arsehole.” A smirk at having drawn spots of blood.

The honk of a horn and the rattle of ute pulling over onto the crumbled verge, tyres coughing through the gravel, passing the boys and pulling up just beyond the sign. Two council workers hopped out and began setting up tools at the base of the sign. The boys watched, ignored by the council workers. One of them pulled a packet of Burger Rings from under his t-shirt, filched from the servo where they’d pumped up their bike tyres. Another one passed around a packet of chewie.

A piece of gravel taken from the footpath and chucked it at the sign. It pinged and the council workers flinched and retorted, “Piss off!”

“What ya doing? Having smoko?”

“Changing the sign; what does it bloody look like?”

“Why?”

“Suburb’s getting a name change.”

“What for?”

“Because of hooligans like you, that’s what’s for.”

The four stood around as the council workers set up two step ladders behind the sign, climbed up and began loosening nuts. The spanner slipped from the hand of one of the workers and clattered in the gravel and dirt. The boys raised a mocking chorus of approval. They watched the name of their suburb come down, thrown into the back of the ute tray before the new sign was pulled from a cardboard sheath.

Within a few minutes the new sign was in place instantly changing the name of the suburb. The new sign gleamed pristine and fresh.

“Dad reckons changing the name of the suburb is like wearing a suit to the pub.”

“Yeah but your dad’s full of shit, too.”

Beyond the sign the suburb looked exactly the same, unaware of the name change and probably wouldn’t have cared for it anyway.

One of boys picked up another piece of gravel and chucked it at the sign, the ping ricocheting into the traffic noise.

“Different name. Same shithole.”

They spat their chewing gum at the sign, picked up their bikes, rode under the sign and headed home.

Pendock and Progress – A Short Story

“Pendock and Progress” is the second track released from Solkyri’s forthcoming album, Mount Pleasant.

Pendock and Progress (Track 3)

Circling Pendock Close with a bloodied nose. Dripping on to his t-shirt and caking above his lip. Pedalling hard to take the sting out of the pain. Up to the end of the street to the intersection and hanging a left. Barrelling down the footpath to the next intersection, turning around, and coming back. Looping through the cul-de-sac and up the other side, hanging a right and repeating the pattern.

He wiped his nose tentatively with the back of his hand and it came away with claret. Still. Caught stealing ciggies from his dad to give to older mates at school in exchange for pieces of silver and gold. Canteen money for a packet of Twisties. His dad clipped him with a backhander. Shouted how hard he had worked for something he enjoyed and the little bastard was depriving him of that pleasure.

He cleaned his hand on the back of his shorts. Kept riding laps of the cul-de-sac. The bike was a pick-up from the local hard rubbish clean up. Driving home after the nightshift his dad spotted it and lobbed it into the back of the car after giving it the once over and deciding he could get it up and running. Dad lapped the neighbourhood looking for other bikes for the parts he needed. It was one thing he was proud of. A labourer’s hands that fixed something. Made something good. Most of the time it was fabricating houses for posh fucks to inhabit. Other times it was demolishing houses for posh fucks to build another, larger house.

“Here you go, have a ride.” That’s all he said. It was mismatched, given a once over with spray paint to cover the rusted parts but fully functional and solid. His dad had made it. Respect born out of initiative.

But initiative that didn’t know how to move beyond the curvature of the street. The boy understood when a labourer’s hands became idle from a lack of work, they became hands of construction and deconstruction of the family and its relationships. Casual labour and seasonal work, packing shelves or running registers. An array of King Gee, flannies and singlets on the washing line in each neighbouring yard. A system that violently protected itself by keeping people on minimum wage. Keeping the idea of education at the forefront of their minds but at the back end of budgeting.

The blast of a car horn and a wave from an old man at the wheel turning into the cul-de-sac. The boy waved back and watched as the car pulled into his driveway. He rode down the street and pulled up as Grandad stepped out. A firm and static handshake exchanged. Grandad was a bastard of a brute. Nanna had died when he was little. Probably to escape Grandad. Nanna was orange cordial and Scotch Finger biscuits. Grandad was Reader’s Digest condensed books and talkback radio.

“Where’s your dad?”

“Inside.”

“Your mum home?”

“At work.”

“Your nose,” he pointed.

The boy shamefully wiped at the dried blood.

“My dad gave it to me worse.” A declarative comparison indicating the softening of generations.

The car door closed, and Grandad’s shadow lengthened towards the house.

Even though Grandad no longer struck his father, the boy could see how the generations measured up. Toughness was measured in how close you could get to the line of confrontation, prodding, goading, pricking, without copping a smack in the mouth from a backhanded swing. But that line was movable. He could stand his ground. Fight for what he wanted, even if it was only to piss the old man off. But always knowing who had the upper hand.

A genealogy of violence so circuitous and labyrinthine the boy wondered if he was the Minotaur at its centre, or simply the progeny of what was monstrous lusting after flesh and attacking people the way his Grandad had attacked his father, who attacked him and his mum and siblings. The fact a penis swung between your legs meant power and authority through the erect salute made between the pages of Penthouse magazine, and the flaccid outcome of making a mess in your own hands and wiping it away with wads of toilet paper.

The boy kneeled down at the front tap next to the letterbox and turned it on, letting the water run through his hand until it became cool. Splashing his face to clean the blood off, watching the red stain fade through his fingers. Slurping at the water cupped at his chin and feeling it run off the end of his nose, like blood. His hand shot up to check. Finding it clean he wiped his hand across his face. He looked down and began rubbing the spots of blood between his fingers. His mum would be angry he had stained his clothes but if he kept out of her way, he thought he could avoid the sideways glances. On his bike he could avoid the sideways glances of his dad and grandad.

The boy picked up his bike from the footpath and took off up the street. Each house he passed was a photocopied mimicry of an original that once had purpose. Untamed lawn edges or attempted front yard gardens of roses or murraya hedges. Kids’ plastic trikes next to Ford Lasers and Mitsubishi Colts. Fibro walls were good for fuck-all. Fabrication of pretence and a façade of neighbourliness as dog shit was tossed over the nearest backyard fence.

On his next lap around the cul-de-sac his younger brother came out the front door, probably told to piss off outside, and sat on the concrete verandah with a fistful of Hot Wheels cars. Lined them up along the top step and took turns pushing them off, one by one, down the three steps. The clatter of metal on concrete.

The boy felt the distance between himself and his brother, between himself and his father. Absence and ignorance stung like a father’s fist and blossomed into plum-coloured bruises. When they were visible, he learned to use mum’s concealer to hide them. Like she does.

He remembered lining up with his classmates, dressed in the category of ‘normal’ in their uniforms. On the surface it looked the same: blue shirt, grey shorts, white socks and sneakers. Or leather shoes if they could be afforded. But it was the idiosyncratic differences of how someone wore their shirt tucked out, longer socks or all the buttons done up to the very top he noticed as normal, too. Normal was having the shit kicked out of you at regular intervals by your father and turning up to school in the same uniform as everyone else thinking they too had the shit kicked out of them by their fathers on a regular basis. It was never said but always understood, as if bruises had their own telepathy to communicate with other bruises and share the pain as a salve of solidarity as the colours faded like the clouds of a summer storm.

He felt an underlying prickliness in his stomach when he looked at someone and they knew, too. Pendock Close had many faces, poverty being the most obvious. Yet poverty of affection, poverty of acknowledgement, poverty of awareness meant the boy let the prickliness tumble through his stomach, pass some of it out like runny shit to alleviate the stabbing for a brief time. But it was always there.

The desire to be seen, and noticed, not as a meat bag, a human sausage to be pricked and tossed; the fragile skin casing threatening to burst at the impact of a pellet spray of words shot from an arse.

And the boy continued on for another lap of Pendock Close.

* * * * *

The song is based on systematic violence and cycles of poverty named after two streets where the band grew up. I took inspiration from the accompanying artwork to develop the concept of the cul-de-sac, a closed road, a dead end, a place of going nowhere as a sustained metaphor throughout the piece. 

The plan is to have a collection of flash pieces written, one for each track on the album, by the middle of the year after the album is released in March as a download. Stay tuned for details.

You can read the first story, “Holding Pattern.”

 

Zentangle #29 Revelation

Revelation

we sit without
showing ourselves
I don’t really understand
how I can’t see you
you say you had been
in a way
revealing yourself
a clever way 
to get me into bed

 

This piece is for sale $15AUS (inc postage to anywhere in the world). For an extra $2AUS you can get a set of zentangle postcards.

If you wish to purchase this piece, leave a message in the comments and I will get in touch with you via the email address you use when posting a comment.

zentangle-postcards

Calico tote bags featuring “Coloured Pencils” and “Stupid Question” and postcards are available for sale HERE.

Handwritten Pages #2

The second instalment of Handwritten Pages. This one was inspired while reading Amanda Palmer’s book, “The Art of Asking.”

I cannot recommend her book highly enough if you are a creative person. It is a heartfelt and affirming read; quite challenging to accept her premise sometimes but as a creative person there is such a wealth of ideas to gain from it. If time is of the essence, listen to her TED Talk.

IMG_20160511_211904

The couple sit across from each other at the dining room table, each with a pen and a pad of Post It Notes.
In silence they share a communion of scribbled notes, stick figure cartoons and random doodles intermingled wiht a chorus of laughter, sighs and whispers.
There is a solemn but playful sincerity to their ritual as the notes pass back and forth.
He passes a note to her; the body of Christ.
She receives it. Reads and responds.
She passes a note to him; the blood of Christ.
He receives it. Reads and responds.
He offers his hand and they stand to leave with the benediction spoken on paper.
They leave the notes as holy writ.

Practice Pages – The Disappearance of Noise

As drills are to an athlete, or scales to a musician, practice paragraphs are to a writer.
Here’s a little sample of an idea I foraged from my notebook.
Feel free to remix it in the comments section.

The Disappearance of Noise

All of the clocks of my childhood are silenced into obscurity:

– the bedside alarm clocks in my grandparents’ bedroom, wound at the back

– the grandfather clock in the hall where time always seemed to move slower as I watched the pendulum arc back and forth, slicing the moment, shaving it second by second. The inscription, tempus fugit, the first Latin I learned, and didn’t understand the irony until I stood thirty years in the future.

– the clock on the mantle in Nanna and Grandpa’s house was more hurried, urgent, pacing the time to meet appointments, chiming the quarter hour in mimicry of Big Ben.

All of these sounds, the midnight soundtrack to treading the hallway carpet barefoot, its texture a fresh cut lawn, skipping to the cold tiles of the bathroom. And back again.

Now I lie awake and listen, in between the passing of cars at two o’clock in the morning, for the ticking of my watch. I know it’s battery operated, no longer the wind up mechanism of the watch of my youth. Finding it wound down to silence, bringing it back to life, then placing it to my ear to hear the cogs pushing and pulling.

It was the mechanical rhythm, a lullaby of space. The tut-tutting of disapproval for wasted time, the snap of Lego connecting and the skipping of Nan’s knitting needles.

The digital age has created silence.

A Little Prompting #5

A Little Prompting

How have you been doing? What have you been creating? I would love to hear if anything has transpired.

Here is this week’s set of prompts.

THEME Reconnection
RANDOM LINE PROMPT The telephone wires kept pace with the road; long tendrils connecting the lover and the loved as a physical symbol of their connection
PHOTOGRAPH RetroTelephone_01_640x-thumb-520x390

http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2008/12/04/a-perfect-nobullshit.html

SONG/MUSIC VIDEO Primitive Radio Gods – Standing Outside A Broken Phone Box
SENSORY SUGGESTION The pulse of the dial tone before you hit the buttons
QUOTE You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation – Plato

When In Doubt, Write Poetry By Erasing Words

Diving back into the classics for more blackout poetry.

You’ll find my first two attempts here (Moby Dick – Herman Melville) and here (Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad)

I have taken the first page of a range of texts and used the tone and ideas to create something new.

Epistemology

from Frankenstein – Mary Shelley (click image to enlarge)

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Who I Am

from The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (click image to enlarge)

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What Your Mind Has Made 

from The Picture of Dorian Grey – Oscar Wilde (click image to enlarge)

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A New Situation for Families

from Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy (click image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

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Like Ivy

from The Strange Case of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson (click image to enlarge)

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