Breathe In

autumn schedule

I’m here on a Friday to celebrate what has been a successful month for this little site. Starting on Monday is the very real possibility of multiple posts a day and a really rather packed schedule all the way until Christmas. Having already pre-warned you about Think-Tober, I went away and made better graphics, and that will begin via Instagram on Sunday. I suspect there’ll be a compilation of seven days worth of posts in this medium at some point across the weekends in October too.

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We’re still behind a bit, but once October’s Book of the Month titles are posted on Monday along with the last of the outstanding acrostics, there’s no excuse to keep up to date. This month will also see an alteration to Patreon tiers in an attempt to attract more interest, plus some subtle changes to the concept’s major remit. I’d planned to reassess every three months, so this part of my plan is still on schedule. Looking ahead, the Book of the Month will be taking a one-month hiatus in November to accommodate my participation in the 2017 NaNoWriMo event.

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I’ve written on and of for NaNo across five years, but only the last two have been serious efforts. This year, the plan is to come up with something I will turn into a potentially saleable novel. That level of completion and professionalism has, as yet, eluded me, but I believe I’m in a decent position this year to make that a reality. To make sure I’m utterly focused, rethought and re-organised Patreon content will launch again December 1st. Everyone who is currently a Patreon will also be getting an exclusive (and personalised) Christmas gift, as a thank you for your continued support.

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Until then, you can expect an increase in the amount of poetry being written, original works appearing and all sorts of other TOP QUALITY GUBBINS.

One Day Like This

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This year, poetry for me became something more than dusty pages and old blokes in church halls. When terror ripped through the lives of people who never asked for a war, killing the truest, most innocent lives, poetry galvanised an entire Community. One bloke stood up and, for a moment, everybody listened to his words and were moved to tears.

Except the smart people know that poetry has never just been for books and schools, it’s for everybody. It is the blood that drives every song on the radio, from manufactured pop to the anthems of a generation. Revolution is everywhere, and in every syllable, even now. When I was young it was Pink Floyd and Bowie sewing the seeds of diversity, swinging at authority. Now there is a new generation of poets, whose words have such strength as to stop even this cynical old woman in her tracks. I defy anyone with a soul to really listen to Tunnel Vision and not think, at least for a second, of the legacy the actions of a few have wrought on our Planet.

The greatest agent of collective human advancement is not free markets, despite what our leaders might have us believe. It is the ability to express ourselves without fear of attack or reprisal, of thinking beyond ourselves and collective greed to something better, nobler than wealth as aspiration. It is the means by which the World exists together, side by side and stronger, living longer, place where nobody is persecuted for being different. Poetry has always given a voice to the darkest recesses of the human condition: that window on our souls is never more needed than now, this moment, every second.

Poetry is freedom, and expression to believe in ourselves.

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It is a persistence of memory, growing old and looking backwards, looking forward with optimism to what yet might be achievable. It groans with angst and moans with pleasure and without it, I realise now, I was less of a writer. This year, I started writing poetry not as a chore, but with tentative ardour, and now my love affair is in full, glorious flow. It gives metaphors chances to illuminate unexpected corners. It has allowed a woman who was afraid of her own voice to once more stand upright, inhale and then speak her words with pride. It has transformed my existence, and there will never be the right couplet to express how grateful that makes me.

Never believe you’re incapable of change. I’m almost 51 and my poetic journey has only just begun: maybe if I’d started earlier… but there is no time for regret anymore. It is time to live each day as it comes and realise that it is us that makes life better not just for ourselves but the people around us. This day has given me the opportunity to share what I think and feel about a concept I hated as a kid, tolerated in my teens and then ignored for decades because I’d forgotten how to listen. Now ears and mind are open again, I can’t get enough of it. Poetry has transformed the course of my writing, and I’m grateful for one day where I can proudly stand up and admit that it will always be a part of my life until I die.

Poetry is worth all the effort. Take the first step into a wider Universe, and you may yet be surprised at what you discover not only about the world, but within yourself.

Book of the Month :: Throw 6 to Start

Throw 6 To Start

As the second sun goes down, Riz wonders if he’s done the right thing.

This is closer to disaster as he’s ever flown, far too late to start wishing the journey had never been undertaken. With Pleasure Planet Pixel in darkness, there is less than a rotation before the Game he’s attending begins, yet Desi is nowhere to be seen. Next time, if this all goes to plan, they’ll not need to take separate transports and can travel as an item.

That word has a comforting ring.

‘Oh, you weren’t lying, you did miss us: we are truly touched!’

Their hand on his arm sends every hair erect, frisson of desire inevitable and inescapable. Turning, they are still in the complimentary spacesuit, not bothering to change after arrival. Iridescent pearl skin shimmers: brilliant light from the nebula above, ethereal beauty that transcends this solar system plus thousands of others. His devil stands, head slightly tipped, reading every thought without care or permission. In their imagination they’re already entwined in the luxury hotel bed, his fears being sucked from a tired and tense body: the Earthman begins to relax.

Riz knows this last year of stress was worth every moment: the prize is already in sight.

‘You were the one who said our lives were getting predictable, so we did consider making you wait, but thanks to the Slingshot mechanical failure that will be the last transport of the day. We could have taken layover until the morning, but there’s too much to do.’

‘I’m sorry we fought at the Terminal. I… sometimes it’s easy to forget how much you can hear in my head.’

‘You have nothing to worry about, Lover Boy. The day somebody else attracts that primate brain, then we’re the one in trouble. Until then, it’s our job to make sure that your pleasure centres are never left wanting. We are VERY good at that task, and intend to only improve over time.’

They kiss him, mouth tart, alcohol and need both all too obvious. The relationship’s odd-fitting, even now: sometimes motivation gets misplaced in a sea of pheromones and sloth. However, his liberation is close: hatched over the NeuralNet, virtual chat room for those with debts that conventional employment would never pay off. The human who loved being fucked by everybody but eventually was screwed by his own naivety, and the Centuran androgyne with a flair for the overly theatric.

If it all worked out tomorrow, both of them would finally be free.


‘Do you believe in fate?’

They’ve woken tangled together but instead of pre-dawn intercourse it is discussion. Desi will know he has nerves that need to be assuaged: they wrap both mind and body around him, cocoon of reassurance, allowing Riz to awaken far better than would happen with stimulants. The question is taking time for them to process, and only now does he grasp why –

‘You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you?’

‘Oh, we grasp the human concept, don’t worry. We have an equivalent, we were just trying to work out a visual metaphor to explain.’

Centuran culture is not about words: as a race of telepaths, verbal language is largely redundant. Instead comprehension is based around imagery, often complex fractal patterns that have evolved directly from the very stuff of the Universe itself. The image Desi places in Riz’s brain however is very human: they’re at the last casino visited, win at which removed all but 5% of their joint financial debt. He stands and throws two dice, but then catches both before they hit the table.

Fate is the development of events outside a person’s control, regarded as predetermined by a supernatural power. You throw the dice, and it is fate that decides the numbers. For us, fate is that which cannot be affected by our own minds. We can control the dice in flight and precisely dictate the number that falls, but are unable to truly influence the person throwing.

Their voice in his mind is musical, soothing cadences that make their kiss far more potent than any given by his own kind. That’s what attracted him to Desi, he could indulge an almost constant need for stimulation with a being who had evolved simply for that purpose. Their race didn’t procreate in the same messy fashion as bipedal humans, so there was no need to concern himself with the physical and once that had happened… sensation stopped just being about release, biological offering.

Orgasm takes place in a different way: no body cavities, contraception irrelevant. His body and brain are warped, sensation shuddering from fingertips to follicles. The most intense and beautiful experience that Riz has ever felt, on demand, and which never gets old. There’s a small part of his brain that knows they should be at the Game venue, working out the best place for him to sit so they can still covertly communicate, but today he just lets them engulf his primal brain completely.

The sensation is so great, he passes out with the pleasure.


The water is incredibly cold: Riz is immediately awake.

It takes a second to realise an ice bucket was upended over him, he’s naked and tied to a chair, and that Desi is being restrained by a couple of Law Enforcement automatons. Only two things could have caused this sudden downturn in circumstance: random attack or deliberate action. Causality is a subject Riz knows a lot about: studying Freakonomics at NYSU for four years, working at Church built for the worship of Saints Levitt and Dubner. There wasn’t an outcome that couldn’t be tied to another if you were smart enough to play the algorithms…

This Game was one of many that the WolfIsi Group had manipulated for the last decade, without fail. By coming here, he’d guaranteed that his loan company would notice, and do what always happened in situations where they thought a client was about to escape control. As contract was signed not in blood but DNA, his body remained their property until such times as all existing monetary debts were paid in full: before then they could invoke repossession of that material at any time. He had anticipated them striking at the venue, but as they haven’t, that’s not a problem.

He’d also like to be more clothed for this, but no matter.

The WI officer’s uniform is starched to within an inch of rigidity, yet looks like it could disintegrate at any moment, straining across her huge, genetically-enhanced biceps. The woman’s face regards him not with pity but in a way that could almost be respect: the rules of this engagement might yet be about to change. Maybe they’re not here because of potential collateral loss; perhaps someone finally saw through this deception.

‘Mr Monteverdi, I must say it has been some years since we had a client come this close to completing their payments on time. You are to be congratulated on your industry.’

‘Thank you, I took it upon myself as a personal challenge to pay off this loan on time and to the penny.’

‘Which you will do by simply winning a round of the Game tomorrow, which my superiors feel sure you’ll be more than capable of achieving. That however would mean we’re unable to maintain you as collateral, and under the circumstances this will cause us an issue, especially with the amount of money you seem capable of regularly providing.’

Riz had read the old case files on Fully Paid Loans until he could recite them from memory: in three hundred years, only a handful of clients had escaped death by invoking the clause he would now be forced to use. It would all hinge on the Officer not grasping the significance of Desi, something that now needed to be confirmed…

On cue, comes invasion of his mind: their hands cover his eyes, slim fingers caress earlobes. No-one else is aware of the Centauran’s real identity.

‘Under agreement terms I invoke the Double or Nothing clause in my contract. Details of intention to do so are posted in three public forums plus via time-delayed message on SocalTwetwerks.’

The Officer blinks at Riz, clear confusion etched on hardening features, before headset implant prompts understanding. Robot spiders will be crawling the Solar Internet, confirming that the naked bloke in the chair just completely changed the game. He’s forced WolfIsi to allow him a chance to become debt free with one random action, at the discretion of the Officer. They have fifteen Earth minutes to decide what it will be: in the previous cases coin tosses (which were believed to be weighted to the company’s favour) had decided the outcome, but since all forms of physical currencies became redundant at the end of the century and his contract hadn’t been updated to reflect this due to clerical oversight…

Desi is a mask: beautifully smooth skin, pert yet full, heavy breasts that defied gravity, surgically added slit at her groin to make sure no-one ever checked the DNA details too carefully. It was amazing the number of people who didn’t: she just looked like a human with a skin job. That’s what the desk clerk had her registered as, which might yet be useful, depending on the intelligence of the Officer. According to the Citizens Advice Worldnet, races with a human equivalent IQ of 70 or lower made the best Enforcement teams, being able to understand instructions yet not argue with contentious interpretation…

Riz is confident: all bases are covered, regardless of what happens next. He’s about to gamble the loan he took for gender reassignment to completion, and win.

‘They said you might do this. My boss read your file really well. Thanks to you, there’ll be a new amendment to the standard proposal in the New Year. You should be proud you found a loophole that we’re now going to close.’

Respect turns inevitably to condescension: the Officer pulls from her pocket a small recording unit. If it’s on record, they have to play fair. WolfIsi Legal will now be well aware that if they try and bury him, this part of the Universe will know about the fatality very fast, thanks to many and various messages sent to a lot of very important and high profile media outlets.

Riz made sure nothing was left to chance.

‘Thanks to Clause 27b/6 in your contract, we have the right to substitute an alternative form of random action for the Double or Nothing gamble.’

Riz loved games from an early age: in a world where everybody could work out the odds, he’d taken gambling a stage further. That’s why Desi had been sought out, means by which to take probability and bend it to his own ends. The biggest trick was to lose and make it look as if it wasn’t cheating, by warping the Universe itself to his ends.

‘You have to predict the number on these two dice. That’s our offer. I’m waiting.’

Large, long table by the Hotel room door is picked up, almost dropped in front of Riz’s restrained torso. He has fifteen minutes to accept this offer or lose the Double or Nothing get-out completely. In his head, possibilities land: dice will be remotely controlled by one of the Law Enforcement units, so they fall exactly as dictated. The units will have been picked so they cannot be hacked or interfered with. Just like coins before, belief is that any final result completely controlled by the Company is intractable.

Desi is smiling in his head. Not a small and quet but loud and brilliant, promise of so much once this debt is finally paid. They love the simian, unconditionally, because no other human mind they have encountered was so good at predicting all the outcomes, and playing to win.

‘Six. You’re going to roll a six.’

As the dice are thrown from the giant woman’s hand, Riz decides he quite likes being tied to chairs.


Train in the Distance

ThinkTober

It may have escaped your notice that October starts on Sunday. A number of my art friends alerted me to a content prompt that takes place around this time: Inktober. This encourages artists to pick up a pen and paper and produce ‘traditional’ drawings… which one then reproduces virtually for promotion in an social media outlet of your choice. Understandably, there was a bit of fuss about this from those I know who are working exclusively in the medium of digital art… and it started me thinking. The thirty one prompts for the month are perfectly acceptable as words to use in… oh, let’s say Haiku.

Therefore, I’ve decided to produce my own version of Inktober, which starts on Sunday at 5pm BST.

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None of the prompt words here are longer than five syllables, so that’s perfect for the short form I’m now beginning to embrace like a long-lost sibling. However, instead of using digital as my medium, I will write these in (some form of) ink, on thirty one different types of media, before post the resultant poems on the new Internet of Words Instagram account. It shouldn’t need saying, but as I know how the Internet works it will be anyway: I’m not trying to rip off, disrespect or ridicule the original idea in any way, shape or form (I see the TM and respect that for what it means.) Instead, I am thinking outside the box that is presented, as to me it appears a tad restrictive to begin with.

This tends to produce my best ideas anyway.

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What this does is combine my poetry and make it… well, art (depending on the medium chosen) and provide a lovely project for me to do in what is my birthday month. I hope you’ll choose to follow this journey via Social media too. If anything it could be fun to see what I end up using as the media for my words… It also gives me the opportunity to flex creative muscles in a visual ‘environment’ and this is never going to be a bad thing.

Right now my daughter is spending a lot of time doing digital animation, and I appreciate the time and effort that goes into artwork far more than was ever the case. I spend too much time online to begin with, so making myself produce 31 different backgrounds for the haiku (and pushing myself to different locations as well as medium) is a challenge I am happy to grasp with both hands.

I look forward to hearing your feedback, and hopefully entertaining in the process.

GSME #24 :: Stupid Girl

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On Friday, I did something stupid, and paid the price by being soundly roasted to a crisp on Social media. What did I learn from this? Thing number one is that if you decide to start a fight, the benefits can initially appear more sensational than the personal trauma that results:

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At its peak, my self-destruction was garnering over 25% engagement. That’s the stuff of legends and ultimately, completely unsustainable. The only way you’ll keep that amount of interaction going is to reply to every thread until your eyes bleed and you’re down to zero followers. In fact, there were so many responses and retweets the entirety of my analytics went tits up for the whole of Friday. It was only when I checked this morning that the real numbers were revealed:

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The truth, in retrospect, is that engagement for the day was a modest 1.9% overall. 65k impressions means absolutely nothing, in the larger scheme of things, and tells me (if I needed to know already) that most people love to sit and watch other people having a fight. It is the same mentality that makes drivers slow down when there’s a road accident. That’s not what I started my journey for.

It is certainly never going to happen again.

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I know when I’m in trouble, and gut has always served me well in instances of drama. However, what I severely underestimated in this case was the responses of those with whom I interact. This is probably the most important lesson of all when ‘doing’ Social media: not everybody is your friend, and ‘business’ is something that some people don’t like to think you’re mixing with their pleasure. Someone asked me a while ago how you know who to trust and the reply has not changed since this entire journey began.

Everybody has the potential to destroy you whether you fuck up or not.

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What matters more in situations such as this is how you conduct yourself after the event. In my case, I issued a public apology on Sunday and wrote a blog post where I withdraw myself from making any contentious comments on the subject in public. This used to be my job, until I stopped writing about that particular game in order to concentrate on the Patreon. If there is a contentious opinion to express from now on, it will be posted on my Blog, where there’s a better chance of presenting my opinions with some depth. My job now, especially this week, is what should be taking priority.

Friday didn’t happen to get either views or attention, I just wanted to discuss an idea. This post however is capitalising on this spectacular failure as a basis for constructive criticism. If I wanted to use anyone as an example of how not to do Twitter, it would be me. I can’t say this won’t happen again, of course, because nobody is perfect.

I can say some very important lessons have been learnt and acted upon.

All the Small Things

autumn schedule
Next week’s quite an exciting one for me as a poet, as the UK celebrates a National Poetry Day. Whilst lots of famous people are doing high profile stuff, I’ve decided to embrace the subject matter [Freedom] and produce a whole day’s worth of special pieces around that subject. Whilst the logo of the day is clearly considering the more high-profile aspects of the concept (doves do conjure up some very specific metaphors) I am making it a priority to examine and present some very personal interpretations. I’ve even gone so far as to register myself on the Official Website, which is a step into what might end up as a far larger Universe. You never know until you try.

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What this means therefore is that instead of a WiP Day (which is normally what happens on Thursdays) I’ll dedicate an entire day to writing ‘live’ and posting the results. There’ll also be a week’s worth of Haiku and Micropoetry on the subject, starting bright and early on the 25th. If you are a Patreon user/supporter, you’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled starting on Monday. In a desperate attempt to build tension and create mystery, I’ll say no more than that.

Because music is a very, VERY important part of my life (and lyrics are effectively poetry, right?) there’s also going to be a Freedom Playlist compiled and posted via YouTube. I’ve already got plenty of ideas for this, but if you want to add any suggestions in the comments, please feel free to do so.

So, until next week…

Once Upon a Time :: Haiku and Micropoetry

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Okay, so I have a confession to make: when this was published via Twitter, I forgot the last part of the micropoetry. It has now been replaced and is back in its rightful space. I’ve been following the compelling World War 2 as it happens Twitter feed and this was the direct inspiration for these pieces.

I hope you find these stimulating as well as enjoyable.


Once Upon a Time… Haiku Edition

A lifetime ago,
The World stood at War: now, we
Learn from these events.

Europe divided:
Tyrants annexing countries,
Destroyed existence.

The human cost, of
A few’s desire for power:
Destruction shatters.

Decades later, comes
Chance to reflect: grasping why
These things came to pass.

Never forget: those
Years of suffering; landmarks,
Inhumanity.


Once Upon a Time… Micropoetry Edition

History dictates
Heroes and villains:
Resistance rising,
Great battles defined.

Decades have passed, yet
The stories remain.
Eerie, similar;
Mirroring present.

With time to reflect:
We must not repeat
Ancestors mistakes,
Altered the future.

Eventually
Contemplation, can
Fundamentally
Change long-term outlooks.

It is up to us,
Next generation
To alter the course
Improvement for all.