Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vreski Warding System #6

Work continues apace - after much swearing and the ripping of heads from chickens, I finally managed to get Facebook talking to my website.

And now for a first stab at the pretty-pretties ...

(edit: removed, cuz they changed)

Monday, April 26, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010: 19-25 April

A mad idea has ripped me away from the sanity of NaPo.

Luckily this mad idea has involved the writing of aphorisms: I shall claim 3 aphorisms a day to make up for the past week or so.

I have no shame.

19 April: Aphorisms (1)

* Look to starlit skies, foretell your future; the rusts of the sun shall soon arrive.
* The most innovative carts are fashioned with the know of wheels and suspensions.
* However you gather and mix the ingredients, the cake still needs time for the baking.

20 April: Aphorisms (2)

* A dream can be caught in the nubs of fingertips, if the hand has practiced its grab.
* The stench of the cat can turn a stomach; still the mouse must eat.
* A clever cockerel crows a different dawn song when dogs arrive with the sun.

21 April: Aphorisms (3)

* The dance of the flame; the rage of the firestorm: the difference lies in the eye, not the tinder.
* A castle; a prison: does the hand that sets the bricks and lays the hearth know the difference?
* A good teacher opens the pupil's ears and eyes; the knowing smile is a shared gift.

22 April: Aphorisms (4)

* The sparrow weaves a careful nest; the storm's wind can ruffle no twig.
* The buttocks of glory and despair share the same seesaw.
* A billowing cloud fascinates us with its dance; kills us with its choke.

23 April: Aphorisms (5)

* Invest in a good horse; hold the world in a clip of hooves.
* The greatest art is a conversation, not a monologue.
* A master craftsman learns as much from breaking a cart as from building it.

24 April: Aphorisms (6)

* Monkeys watch for trees in bloom; plan for the next feast of fruits.
* The goat has no fear of the mountain; green shoots are found in unlikely crevices.
* A celebration needs a grand cauldron, with many ladles.

25 April: Aphorisms (7)

* Many hands shall build the village hall; not all hands hang from the same pair of arms.
* The pupil has much to teach the teacher: is the teacher willing to sit cross-legged?
* A gull surfs the ocean's storms alone; the cliff and the nest are ever-close to its heart.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vreski Warding System #5

Extra! Extra!

(Somewhere in the Facebook app, and the associated webpages, I'll need to put in a disclaimer - because it's all nonsense and a bit of fun, innit! Though that probably won't stop the nutters committed to other, "real-world" divination systems. Though I won't mind them too much, as long as they buy my book.)


What does the Vreski Wards application offer you?

When you first join the app, we will calculate your natal elemental levels for you. These give an indication of your potentials and vulnerabilities - you can learn more about your natal elements {{wherever}}.

Then each day the app will send you a note with advice on the most appropriate materials and colours to help you build a daily ward. You will also receive a short, appropriate aphorism - thinking about the aphorism while constructing your ward can help strengthen its potency. Furthermore, the app will supply details of the imp, demon or devil you are most likely to encounter that day.

There are no charges for using this app - I offer it as a community service. Be aware that the most effective warding materials are things you find yourself, often just lying around in boxes of old junk - the best wards should cost you nothing to build and wear!

If you do fall victim to an imp, demon or devil: don't try to build a ward to help you get better - it's too late for that! Wards offer protection, not cures. If you're feeling lost, talk to friends; if you're unwell, visit your doctor.

(this is the skeleton spec of what the app will serve up to the user ...

Sent daily to their wall/comments thingy:
- a generic graphic of their natal element with a short message warning them of likely dangers from (named) imps, demons and devils, together with a link to the app's home page.

When the user visits the app's home page they should see:
- a daily graphic showing an appropriate ward, calculated from that day's date and their birthdate
- text details of the proposed ward, together with that day's levels of each element
- more details about potential hazards that they may encounter on that day
- a graphic and brief description of the imp/demon/devil mentioned in their daily post
- a short aphorism which they can chant/consider as they go about building their ward

The whole thing needs to run automatically, with no imput from me - I've got better things to waste my time on. Though I can add to the collection of demons/imps/etc as the mood takes me, and also write fresh aphorisms every now and then. At a minimum, I reckon I can get away with 81 named imps/demons/etc (with a graphic for each) and say 150-200 aphorisms. Also, 10 element badges to go with the daily posts, and graphics (of odds and sods) for pulling together the generated ward image)

Vreski Warding System #4

The Elements (part 2)

'Polotcefta': the domain of Around
We live in a world that changes and evolves, often in unpredictable ways. But Polotcefta is also a world we can change and shape to meet our needs: fields can be carved out of forests, or forests replanted where fields used to exist. We build our homes and towns in the world around us, we make our friends and build our businesses here. Polotcefta is the realm of the pragmatic approach to life.

'Maha' - the element of Water
Dark blue is the colour of the great oceans, and long and twisting the course of the rivers and streams: these too are the colours and shapes of Maha. Just as water is clear when poured, so the clear glass is used to represent the element. Water is shared between friends, and frendship is central to Maha's purpose and meaning. It is the element of the eyes, and sight, and also of what lies behind the eyes: intelligence. The questioning mind is the driving emotion, always investigating actions and situations, always on the lookout for friends old and new. But care must be taken that inquisitiveness doesn't turn into a more controlling, bullying attitude towards friends and aquaintances.

'Luexna' - the element of Clay
As the water settles, so the clay settles out of the water. The orange of the well-tilled earth colours this element, and potsherds are its commonest material. Luexna goes beyond the friendships of Maha to encompass the whole community, just as the great cooking pots can feed whole neighbourhoods on celebration days. Individuals may die, but the community continues; Luexna is the element responsible for successful reproduction. Hunger and satiety are its senses. As the opposite of Maha, Luexna covers the emotions of negation and demurral, which can sometimes turn into stubborn refusal.

'Polocieva': the domain of Flesh
The realities of life may be harsh, but they can also be beautiful: it is our approach to life that determines our well-being and enjoyment of the world. Polocieva is the domain of pleasure and also of pain; to the Vreski mind one cannot be experienced without experiencing the other in due course. The flesh is the medium through which we experience the world, it represents life in all its glorious forms, but also death - for nothing lives forever.

'Kyopla' - the element of Wood
The most versatile of materials, Kyopla includes not only wood, but also leaves and roots, flowers and seeds, and even the flesh of those creatures that feast upon the world's bounty. Often represented by a swatch of cotton, this element's natural colour is the colour of life: green. In the human body, Kyopla is responsible for the skin and nerves, and for the sense of touch. Joy is its emotion and pleasure its purpose, though an overabundance of joy and pleasure can often leave a person insensitive to the needs of others.

'Koga' - the element of Bone
No flesh can survive without support: Koga is the element of the skeletons and scaffolds that support all living things. Taking the colour white as its emblem, more discerning people will substitute wool for the obvious bone in their daily wards. Overtly, Koga talks of death: it presides over the realm of pain, though some pains can be beneficial - such as the warning pain that causes the child to lift her hand from the hot pot. As sound is so often heard through the bone, sound is the natural sense of this element. The emotion of surprise is Kaga's gift, though surprise can so easily turn to shock in the unwary.

'Polosusa': the domain of Below
The land on which we live - and the seas we sail across - may change over time, but the change is so slow that we barely notice it. Even so when change does come it can be violent and deadly: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis. Polosusa represents the domain of the philosophers; it is the place where our deepest, most constant thoughts and beliefs are formed and reformed. It is also the realm of the long endeavour: wealth, status and respect - none can be gained without hard and constant work, and yet these things can be so easily lost, just as the city can be laid waste by the earth's tremor.

'Yooka' - the element of Rock
As grey as the granite pebble so often used to represent it, Yooka is the surface on which we all stand. Keeping our feet on the ground requires balance, this element's native sense. And surviving on its surface needs a strong stomach and digestive system. It is on Yooka's solid foundation that a person can build their status, though status can only be earned by gaining the respect of a person's peers and heirs; this element is the natural home for trades and skills. Yooka talks not so much to the individual, but to the generations, and to posterity. Yet status means nothing on its own - the keystone emotion of this element is sadness, which can often spiral into depression among the unwary.

'Dxaevma' - the element of Metal
The heaviest element, Dxaevma can be both the brightest and the dullest of all the elements. While its metals, worked from the rock, may be shiny its natural colour is black, for all metals tarnish when neglected. It takes much rock to produce metal, thus Dxaevma is the element of the bladder and anus - for every endeavour results in waste: the wise person will realise that there's money amid the muck. The natural sense of this element is vibration - close to sound, yet often unheard, deeper. Fear is Dxaevma's emotion, though a little fear, controlled, can be healthy. Uncontrolled, fear so quickly turns to terror, that darkest of emotions. Remember that while the coin may glitter and promise so much, many wealthy people have lived the last of their days in fear - even of their own children.

Vreski Warding System #3

The Elements (part 1)

Ten elements, according to the Vreski mystics, form the knit and weave of the world. But unlike the elements of the scientists, these elements are not real things; rather they form the potential of the world, and the potential of the life within the world.

These elements are in continual flux, each following a cycle during which their levels rise and fall. Some elements, such as 'Qaasla' (air), have a quick cycle: the air element takes just seven days to fall and then rise again; other elements - 'Dxaevma' (metal), for example - are much slower, completing a cycle over many weeks.

The natal elements

The relative levels of the elements at a time of a person's birth set out the potentials for that life. The higher a level of an element at birth, the more control that person has over the emotions and opportunities ruled by that element, and the less likely they will be to let those emotions and opportunities rule them. Knowing where your weaknesses lie can help you work harder to control and own them.

Each element is part of a pair, with each pair of elements controlling a particular domain: 'Polovosa' (above); 'Polospuesa' (spirit); 'Polotcefta' (around); 'Polocieva' (flesh); and 'Polosusa' (below). While people are quick to associate themselves with the strongest individual element at the time of their birth, the strongest domain - which may not include the strongest element - also plays a role in mapping out their potential.

Equally, it is important for people to know their weakest natal elements and domains, for it is on those areas of potential that a person will have to work hardest if they are to achieve a balanced life, where they are in control of their world, rather than the world being in control of them.

The domains and their elements

'Polovosa': the domain of Above
The skies above us are in a state of constant change: day and night; clouds forming and changing and dispersing. Even those constants - the sun, the moons and planets, the stars - refuse to stay still. Polovosa is an immediate place, the domain of action and reaction. But it is also a place of cycles and repetitions; look up to the skies and you can guess what's likely to occur in the next few minutes or hours.

'Qaasla' - the element of Air
The lightest of elements, Qaasla represents the touch of the breeze, and also the punch of the tornado. Represented by the blue of the midday sky and the form of the feather, this element covers the lungs and breathing. It is also the element of smell. It talks of beginnings. Gratitude is the key emotion of Qaasla, though there is always the danger that gratitude can devolve into the more erratic impulses of hero-worship.

'Dxeva' - the element of Radiance
Falling from the sky, Dxeva rains down on us from the sun, moon and stars alike. The wisp of hair strands, and the yellow colour of the sun, are representative of this element. Dxeva is all about communication - the rush of the chatter and the nuance of the facial expression, thus making it the element of the mouth and face, and also of taste. As the balance to Qaasla, Dxeva is the element of endings - though an ending can also be seen as a new beginning, a change of direction or outlook. Such episodes can generate confusion, the emotion of Dxeva, which in extreme states can devolve into anxiety.

'Polospuesa': the domain of Spirit
We are all born alone, and many of us will also die alone. Yet Polospuesa, the realm of the individual, does not need to be a lonely place. This is the world of creativity and inspiration; a place for dreaming the impossible, and then finding the inspirations for turning those dreams into reality, both for the individual and for the wider circles of their communities.

'Hepta' - the element of Fire
The delightful dance of the flame can so easily become the rage of the destroying fire; Hepta combines both within its boundaries. Represented by red hues and the discarded husk or shell, this is the element of the heart, blood and thirst. And yet it is also the element of the hearth, the centre of the home. A well maintained home is a proud home - pride is the rightful emotion of Hepta, both for what we dream and for what we achieve as individuals within the community. Though care needs to be taken that pride doesn't become a narcissistic love for the self to the detriment of others.

'Drjelja' - the element of Smoke
From Hepta comes Drjelja, the billowing cloud that can fascinate us with its dance, and kill us with its choke. Where the flames rise to the sky, so the smoke falls to the ground. Brown is the colour of Drjelja, and leather its representative material. This is the element of the liver; it deals with the fevers and chills that can afflict us; anger is its emotion, and rage. Yet it is also the element of exploration, for the journey away from the hearth and home - for only by moving beyond our known safety zones can a person develop and grow into their true individuality.

Vreski Warding System #2

Promotional blurb

Are there times when you feel the world has fallen out of your control? Do you find yourself bickering with friends over the most trivial of things? Do the petty frustrations at work sometimes send you into a rage, when on other days you could shrug off those same frustrations with a smile and a joke?

The problem may not be you. Bad vibes and blue funks float through the world all the time. But there may be something you can do to protect yourself. A well-built Vreski ward may well be enough to help you dodge the worst dangers.

The Vreski people knew all these malignant motes. They knew how to predict their most vulnerable days, and how to build themselves wards to protect themselves from the chaos the world around them could cause.

Basics of the Vreski warding system.

The Vreski warding system is an old method of predicting potential misfortunes. Based on the flood and flux of ten 'elements', the common folk of the Vreski Empire could work out - by knowing the state of the elements at the time of their birth and combining them with the current levels of elements - the most likely daily threats to their health and happiness.

People believed that threats came in the form of tiny, external entities called 'lecpaoslac' (devils), 'lecpemeqjac' (demons) and 'lecpocaatjac' (imps). Too small to be seen by the human eye, these bane-full motes swarm through the airs, waters and earths of the world, seeking out people to infect. Imps are responsible for physical ailments, while demons cause mental and emotional imbalances. Devils are more social ailments, the instigators of arguments, infatuations and social unrest.

To help them avoid the most prominent threats, the common folk would wear 'wards' about their body. They built their daily wards from a collection of odds and ends - feathers, bones, stones, scraps of cloth, coloured ribbons and the like. While ready-made wards could be bought from temple priests, healers or astrologers, the best wards were self-constructed and pinned to the most appropriate area of the body during the day, or hung above the bed when people slept.

How the Vreski warding system works.

The world, according to the Vreski mystics, is divided into five domains, with each domain further divided into a pair of elements, one light and the other heavy. Each of these elements was associated with a particular colour, shape and material - useful guidance for people when building their daily wards.

Each element was also associated with a particular part of the body and a body system, with a particular sense, and with particular emotions. As the level of an element rose, people believed that their control of the systems and emotions associated with that element also increased.

However when the level of an element was low, people were less in control of their health and well-being. At such times a person could become infected by an imp, demon or devil - outside forces delivering illnesses, arguments and emotional outbursts. Taking care of your personal wards was not just a case of personal safety, it was also a social obligation necessary for the good of the family, friendships and the wider community.

Vreski Warding System #1

I'm currently working up ideas for promoting my book, and one of the ideas I've had is to build a FaceBook Application for the Vreski warding system - referred to repeatedly in the book.

My thinking is: if people are gullible enough to sign up for those horoscope applications, then they might just be interested enough to take a peek at alternative 'divination' systems, and then maybe a few will be interested enough to check out the book, and a few of them might just buy a copy.

But for the idea to work, the warding system has to sound convincing enough. Thus my posts here. Comments and critiques of my thinking, and the presentation of the system, are very much welcome! Because it'll be a hell of a lot easier to change things as I develop the system than it will be to amend the system after I've deployed it.

Posts describing the system to follow ...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010: 18 April

We Make Room in the Ground for Incomers

In Crete they pay a priest to bleach the bones before
the village gathers round to check the dead for worth;
the struts of good and pious folk are free of stain.
My bones are cracked to charcoal. I am not your friend.

NaPoWriMo 2010: 17 April

The Bones of Levissi

After the bus departs – silence. Ahead,
the town invites us to walk its streets, a wreck
of tumbled roofs and weed-blown mortars stacked
within its bowl of suntan hills. Instead
we sit and read the guide, a summary
of dates and states and settlements that ripped
the artisans from hearths and tools and shipped
them overseas to Rhodes. We scope the debris
and climb a path to view the churches; here
we whisper comments, offer hands to push
ourselves through glass-less window gaps and bash
the thorny brush apart, two pioneers
discovering ... the well. I look within:
an oubliette of strangers guised in grins.

NaPoWriMo 2010: 16 April

The Lazarus Sign

When our neighbour dies she crosses
her arms to her breast; her trembly fingers
butterfly around the sags of her neck –

"a reflex, no more," tells the nurse
cradling a slosh of warm plastic
bed pan. "You should not be here

to see it." We turn and check her purse
for family data, a chain of digits
to bridge the faults of lost dramas,

one last link for the forge as her hands
fall still and settle in the curl
of her collapsed chest, and cool.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010: 15 April


The shock wears thin
after a while, like skin
punctured once too often.

I have grown a callus
smile, wry and polite
- almost honest.

Ruby and I check my numbers
like forensic accountants,
a joint taskforce:

my flesh-economy saps
are trending higher
for whites this quarter

and I no longer suffer
blue hic-cups after meals,
which is positive news.

NaPoWriMo 2010: 14 April

ArcelorMittal Orbit

It might be a hundred
fifteen metres high and cost
nineteen point one mill

to build but it still
looks like my upright
hoover to me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010: 13 April

The Sun Sets over Adley Street

My own silent prayer whips
at the clouds: bring me wonders,
I whisper, bring me riches
in the shapes of good friends.
The sky is an array of overlaps,

slick grey videos repeating
a story of faces, racing
to fade and reform, mist gods
watching me, cold and coiled
in their beards and winks.

As the sun gutters a shoal
of salmon ripples across
the roof of the road. Bring me
belief in my worth, I wish:
water worlds spatter the dust.

Monday, April 12, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010: 12 April

Circle Talk at the Mimic Support Group

Brass monkeys on the shelf:
ears eyes mouth ears eyes mouth -
my hands are so deft I incarnate
blue Shiva sat on his tiger.

Plaster ducks angled on the wall
beak to tail to beak to tail -
one duck's guano is another's
delight: "Keep in formation!"

Youtube editing: this party leader
hawks his wares at market, his mouth
synched to that leader's words. All
is choice, choice, choice; and trust.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010: 11 April

Competitive Plucking

My goose hisses as I walk the length
of the identity parade. The bespoke
suits of potential criminals crease
as each identikit man reaches in turn
to pet the witness; it eyes their ties
- colour coded gang tags - and rattles
its tongue in its beak as they tweak
at its tail. For this is the choice:
the spiv who plucks most feathers
with the least noise shall win
my harlot head on their pillow.

NaPoWriMo 2010: 10 April

The Shoppers' Choice

My weighted basket
is a stoutly woven
wicker affair, arch
handle stiff to hand.

The nation's basket
holds supermarket shelves
in its lidless recess;
hauliers, factory farms,
jovial hatless actuaries -
the decimal remnamts
of nuclear families,
their wages average
by gender, their houses
mortgaged on lease.

My accessorised basket
is better, as befits
the consumer talents
of a pound-pinked man.
Lifestyle wordsmiths
disagree: it needs
a coordinated cloth
to cap it, they tell me,
a time-limited choice
of single-colour swatches
on sale in May.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010: 9 April

Elemental Friend

Ninesteps watches his lion lie
in the bucket where he set it:
first to flare is the tuft
on the tail of the beast, curled
in the seam of the pail's base -
its tempo twitch a cub's annoyance
at the chafe of infant constraints.

Ninesteps, too, is impatient.
He coils a smoke-rope tendril
in his lung as his lion's loin
grows tuffs of hotblack curls.
As a heart's ember glows and dims
and glows in its chest he smiles
and shifts on his knee, and watches.

Ninesteps claps as the lion's mane
erupts from the neck - a pride
of flames to chase impala stains
across the dried savannah carpet.
His lion looks up at the sound,
lifts his paw to let the lick
of heat sharpen claws; it pounces

at Ninesteps, struggles to lever
its haunch across the rim
of its lair, leaps up to reach
the table cave where the boy
huddles with matches; when
he sets out his hand to stroke
his friend, the lion roars -

a deep rumble that sets a gale
among the bedroom curtains
and drives the angel mobile
to dance on the pins of soot
snowflakes blooming the air,
and across the peach fuzz
of Ninesteps' wrists the furs
of hot gloves knit to skin.

Friday, April 09, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010: 8 April

Party Political Fortune Cookies

Labour: a mass of sweat
spins to hide good deeds;
the bed is too comfy.

Conservative: trust redux;
prodigals honour fathers
with echoed slogans.

Liberal: market traders
peg localities to lapels;
the stock is raw, and sour.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Sod it

... I'll just change the price of the book.

The Gods in the Jungle - now available in eBook formats from Smashwords for just $3.99US.


NaPoWriMo 2010: 7 April

On the Front (Door) Line, 2010

They've started already, words
flapped through my letter slot
promising me visions of futures
colour-coded, branded and stamped
with their picture-perfect smiles,
each eyeshot market-tested -
a hint of wrinkled insincerity
batch rejected. They smother
each other, use the faintest breath
of draft to puff themselves
to the top of the pile, deny
the take-out fliers and taxi cards
the chance to catch my eye,
my wallet's vote. I hear them rustle
triggerpoint slogans as they flutter
across my hall, trip and slip
my feet as I chase them, heel them
to the floor; even as I crumple
roses, trees, glyphic birds,
their inks infest my skin,
printing memes and manifestoes
to my palm as I rip and bin
their tired, recycled pulps.

eBook pricing and promotion questions

Self proclaimed 'midlist author' Joe Konrath is saying some very thought provoking things about eBook pricing on his blog. Of course, Joe has a number of advantages that I don't: he writes genre thrillers for a start, and fans of that genre are rabid for the buying of new books. He's also been published by a large New York outfit and done all the promotion/tour stuff which has helped him build up some good name recognition and a loyal fan base. So when Joe talks about selling 800 eBooks a month (per title?) he's talking about what can be achieved by a good author with an established track record who already has a market to sell to.

Whereas I have no platform, no track record, no ready market. And no sales.

So I'm thinking maybe I need to revise my sales strategy, both on the promotion side of things and on the pricing of the eBook version of The Gods in the Jungle.

First off, pricing. The hardcover version of the tome is priced at £9.99 from, which gives me a £2 profit per copy sold. I need to sell 11 copies to break even; I would have had to sell around 80-100 copies to break even if I had gone with one of the lulu distribution packages, but selling the tome through Amazon would have necessarily doubled the unit price (so Amazon can do their 50% off cover price offer thingy). All-in-all, I have no particular worries about the hardcover price - I'm sure I can sell a minimum of 11 copies over the next few years.

Where I'm being clueless is on the eBook pricing. Currently the tome is on sale via Smashwords for $9.99 (US dollars rather than sterling, as Smashwords are entirely American). I chose that price point because that was the price that everyone - 'kay, Amazon and their Kindle hoardes - was bandying about a few months back. A price of $9.99 gives me a net profit of around $7 for copies sold via Smashwords; $6 for copies sold via iBookstore.

But Joe is suggesting that my price point is way too high. He's talking about pricing his eBooks at $2.99 per unit, which would garner a net profit of just under $1.80 for each iPad sale.

So, a question for you both: Would you be willing to invest $2.99 in a book by an unknown author (after you'd checked out the quality of the writing, of course)? Would you be willing to go as high as risking $3.99? $4.99?

Secondly, platforms and fan bases and stuff. I ain't got 'em. Which is not a good thing as if people don't know the book exists, they ain't gonna charge out of their doors to buy it. One way around this is to get people to review the tome, but I don't know of any reviewers willing to drop everything to read and post a review of my book in popular SF/Fantasy venues. Yet I need reviews.

So, another question for you both: would you be willing to review my book if I sent you a free pdf version of the tome?

Rik is edging ever-closer to penury. Something has to be done.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010: 6 April

The Ewe Seeks Her Lambs

She has the prim hips of one
who makes her own bread daily;
her sockets are fresh petals
around a brined curl of pearl.

"A father's curse is a heavy burden:
it weighs on the womb like idols."

She keeps a goatwool scarf tied
taut across the brow as I pour
whisky as blended as incests -
she refuses with a smile to tempt
an offer of long labour, gratis.

"I lost sight of him on the Efrat road;
a good man, worthy of sororital love."

Her white glance speaks of graves
and dust, birth-killed bones lost
between steads; her sumac breath
shows a devotion for hearths.

"He took my miracles, my desert fruits -
Atonement comes, and I must hug them."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

For my American techie friends

The Gods in the Jungle will be available for purchase at Apple's iBookstore from 6 April 2010. ISBN: 978-1-4523-0272-0

It will also be available on the Barnes & Noble store from 6 April, and from the Sony ebookstore from 8 April.

Remember you can read before you buy for free!

NaPoWriMo 2010: 5 April

Tense, this season is

keen bruise firework
to bust card bounds
petals itch the twigs

lemon trumpet stops
bladed baize doodles
each sunspelt glade

ice might gusts
April snow settles
the crocus muffles

taut-most half spent
reload coital guns
deadly dusty bullets

month within week
assault eye nose egg
quicken the spring.

Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere

Nominations for the 2010 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere close on 15 April.

Have either of you nominated anyone yet?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010: 4 April

You'll Never Guess What

This story comes from the mouth
of a man fashioned in threads:

I watch his mouth move; a fleck
of spittle tethers his lips

while molecules gel as whorls
in the spaces between us,

their morpheme tentacles merged
and tangled, a kelp swirl

amid the photon shoal, his face
a slattern broadcast -

a guernica of mirrors and futures
alien like sires and stock

and his words? Beyond the shock
of his white wide wet eye

a crash of waves on pebbles
is less empty; and we hug.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010: 3 April

Spring in the Lower Lea Valley

From tilled earths grow strange plants,
a new-season show of tempered stems
bursting in circles amid April's rain.

One is milliner's inspiration -
a race-day fantasy for Ascot ladies.

Another throws an ovation of arches
over concrete ponds. A storm stream
born in a mountain maker's track
hosts spawn scattered by lost frogs.

Each overcast morning brings a clutch
of fresh, tax-manured buds in this farm
for the cropping of precious metals
- bronze, and silver, and gold.

Friday, April 02, 2010

NaPoWriMo 2010: 2 April

Shoes in the Charity Shop

"Es verdad que lo ignoro todo sobre el."
Borges, 'Isidoro Acevedo'

Like a stack of footfalls they pile in tangles
against the creamy walls - that terra incognita
waiting for the first tread: a dotted lozenge
of an open-toe stiletto sole; an angled maze
of old workboot; the swirls of logoed trainer.

My jumble of shoes sit in their carrier,
quiet as the shy child in the new school
abandoned to his fate by those he trusts.
Behind the counter, a woman, perked in pink
and the sweet sweat smells of abandonment.

I want to say: look after them, as they
looked after me running for buses, stood
in queues, parked within desk-ceilinged caves.
This shoe caught the eye of one I came
to love; that boot chewed my heel to blood.

And yet do I know the secret lives of those
who shod me? Perhaps they plot and plan
incarcerations, the separation of ball
and arch from the polite societies of ant
and stump. Quis custodiet custodiam?

Thursday, April 01, 2010


SpinTrap is my current work-in-progress, which actually started life right here on this very blog (under the awesome title of Rik's Blog Story).

Now that the publication of The Gods in the Jungle is complete, alongside the republication of my various poetry chapbooks, I've run out of excuses for not working on SpinTrap. Furthermore, working on the tome will take my mind away from the tortures of NaPo - writing a poem a day for the next 30 days.

But rather than post revisions and new text to the blog I've decided to transport the whole project over to a website called WeBook, mainly because its got a very nice way of displaying projects, and a good posting and editing interface, and also a large and active user base - which gives me a chance to start building/joining mutual critiquing groups (which can only help the drafting process, I'm hoping). The direct link to my project is, in case people want to watch or possibly even critique.

Oh, and while you're over at WeBook website, check out the PageToFame competition, where you get the chance to rate the first page of wannabe novels - though be warned: it's highly addictive!

NaPoWriMo 2010: 1 April

Driving, not driven

Did I notice the signs? Perhaps
it was the tone to your parked purr,
or the way your seat cuddled into me
as I pulled the belt to a hug
across my full-inflated chest.

At every junction you chuckled,
the choke from your old dirge gone.
Each time my hand reached down
to re-gear our touch lingered, warm.

No, I caught no sign of our truce:
the metal fretworks decking the street
stole my eyes from your dash. Today
we fought killers beyond the windshield,
partners in our driving crimes.