Fleeting fumbling writings

Poems and Stories by Chris Newell

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Teddy’s career

Teddy wanted to be a pilot
But in planes he was sick a lot
Especially after Apple Charlotte
So he decided it was not
A good career path.

Instead he would be a crooner
Then all the koalas would swoon a
Lot and throw their bloomers
And he would get to sing a tune a
Bit like Kiri Te Kanawa.

Teddy’s flat

Teddy’ s flat was in Camberwell
Next to the tube, past the dry cleaners, very near Eel’s.
They passed each other most mornings
But Teddy did not wave
To avoid hurting Eel’s feelings.

Odysseus on the phone on Christmas Eve in the Blitz

imageVOICE 1| ODYSSEUS IN A PHONE BOX 1943

Wax! You ears.
Now!

It’s Christmas Eve it rains tin shimmers
And oil burns the black streets blacker.
Waves of fire lap the wet sky dry
And while the V2 the doodlebug and the Heinkel play death metal toons
I hide in here strapped to my fear.

This is my sail ship against the sirens.
My red ribbed raft oars in a blitz of white surf smoke
Through sinks and shoes and Brooke Bond tips
And the dead and nearly dead that fry and lie
like frankfurters.

You, a phone, and I dial 999.
“Operator, which service do you require?”
Ambulance, fire, police and a storm
Strong enough to blow me
Past the seducing songstress birds
That curl the air’s steel hair.
Not available? Then send me a lifeboat,
A bold crew from Cornwall, a bird catcher and a net
That I may catch one and keep it in a basket
To sing later on, or wot not.

VOICE 2| ODY (A BARROW BOY)

Meanwhile Duck
It sucks
Clean out of luck
Stuck
In a phone box and you.

And them birds outside that sing
To my nightmare’s muse.
Best we keep talking, drown out the drowners.
“Is the call an emergency or of national importance?”

Well, I am sailing the London sea
When the sky filled and fell
Seven raven winged ladies
Who did tell
A ditty
In my shell
Like that was an itty bitty
Well
Good.

These ladies had ginger
Locks and were sort
Of lookers.
So much I thought
I might drop my anchor
In a non naught
Ical manner
And jump overboard
For Good.

Sorry to be flip
But I need to keep
My pecker up and not sink
Down so deep
To lie
Where the starfish sleep
In a sea sand sky.
So for pity’s sake talk to me.

VOICE 3 | DUCK

“Ody ody oh dear, what a pickle your in
Up to your neck in the briny and birds.
I tell you what…

You are through to Siren Sue
But in a queue
For whatever it is you want to do
You are through to Siren Sue
But in a queue
For whatever it is you want to do
You are through to Siren Sue
But in a queue
For whatever it is you want to do.

Hello Caller
I am Carol
Christmas Carol – ha ha
While waiting for Siren Sue today
Why not hang your Christmas balls
And fill my chocolate log
Stick in my big red box
With windows
And a door
Where you can get your rocks off.
Press button ‘A’ or say “take me”
If you want Carol to make your Christmas.
Aaaaaahhhhhh
(she sings)
Did you say say it?
Alright
Hold tight
As you might
Get a rush on and that won’t do
My libido
Oh nooooo…goooo….
(She sings)
Now we can waffle as much as we like
Make my tinsel tonsils tingle and …
Jump in.

VOICE 1| ODYSSEUS DROWNED

So here I am
Down here

Once
It is voices
Just voices
Bodies long gone to pot.
Loads, labeled
on sand shelves fifty million high.
An hallelujah of headless speakers
Each one a pink marbled ear and a mouth
A single membrane that hears and speaks at once
Hangs like a overfed flower.
These feathered waves of words wash a shoreless world.

This is me, it turns out.
And this is where I live.
I am ok like this, not bothered
Happy to mouth like fish
Happy to listen like shells.

A bubble floats by and listen.
It’s me still
a moon drop
pop
and my words flow.

“Once we had feet, now we can only float.
Our voices sea soaked drift to one and then another
Family, friend or unfamiliar equally happily lost.
We can cross the line,
then and now and never are all one splash.
Dreams swim by
And stories grow like weeds
One wrapped within another.
This is the soup we all sup.”

Teddy’s poem

‘Dartford bridge sprawls as roadkill
The sky belches black snow that tars and fills
The road that once flowed, now that stops still.

The glacial lanes tumble untethered
Cherubic curls of warm butter they slither
The toasted Thames flatbread dry river.’

Teddy wrote this while thinking about Trevor
MacDonald and Dartford. She had never
Forgotten the time when they went to Boots together.

Two steps higher

Wind blonde baby girl to the apple swing green teen
Caught in a photoclock
Ticking between sepia prints and sun bathed transparencies that
Step time in thirty six frames.

To me she is always a sister two steps higher
One plait longer, a leather satchel, bugger Brahms and beret
An ‘Energen’ rush, pram-push further on
Umpteen classes of little Kitties and Dickens
And thousands of well tramped
Treks and paintings, poems and friends.

Seventy steps forward toward a
Superwoman set in these chalk downs of Kent
Past the burrow of Harrow
To West Peckham where her spring chicks gather and grow like daffs.

Teddy’s cross

Teddy’s eyes were crossed
And they were just crosses
So everything she saw was a cross and crossed
And every cross she saw wasn’t.

A cross road was a road
Noughts and crosses was noughts
A hot crossed bun was a hot bun
And Jesus on the cross was just Jesus.

When Jesus saw this he was not cross
Because Jesus without a cross
Was like a teddy with cross eyes
Inscrutable

The tall wood that waits to stir the dream.

As the train grazes the platform so the silver shadow fish alight
And the slam doors whisper shut
A tail of raincoats and brollies and thin leather cases
Of old boys and men and neat girls with wheel bags
And Sidiq and Sid and Toni and Jack
And him and them and all the travellers of the eighty three
Branching to left and right
As bucket sick minnows they spin off
Squeezing through shut gates, to step, a key, a front door opens, a sweet green light and her and
I am back home.

Inside the place is amber dim now.
Warm smells hang where air should be
And oaky voices purr the day’s news.
He sinks sofa deep in the living room
And she stands busy to see me
As it should be, in the kitchen, stood on sand, barefoot,
Uncomfortable, nervous, meek like warmed milk
Together we steam and skin.
I offer words but they smile and flick past as
We wait to stir the dream again.

I am alone on the steep rise.
The woods are near here and it is just night.
Through the crack of next door I see it
Across the garden lawn, past the beds
The tall wood waits.

In three steps I am there and night drops now.
The way through the wood wraps the story twice
I am here and the minnows are too
Talking to me like a choir, mouthing, I think,
To a recording I made today, fifty years ago.
Faces and voices I more than know
Still between the trees, still in years, still here, the still same, same.

Us two tiddlers then, outside and about
We dash off scuttling across to the bright sun side
Where the rake has turned the sand to thin ribs
Seared dry and chalky we can suck up the dust
Dragging it down deep like smoke.

These years in one breath
Melt in the mouth
I savour their silver scales like bells.
These new sprats are netted now
Glass jars too full to put down safely, they will drown in air
Best fed with crumbs one by one.
Each year another crumb until they are fat to burst then
Sick and spinning as before
Back into this wood and another track.

The boy is there again.
Blond with bubble cheeks he is cradled by her
She talks now or rather sings
Soft wool spills from her gills smothering him in silent songs
It’s me that hears nothing
As I only have eyes
And I more than know this fish of fifty years
Living in a glass jar
In the tall wood that waits to stir the dream.

A mushroom space

Inside we see a cluster of grubby youth sat in a mushroom space below a tree
Shading sinuous pipes that fold them in coils of creeping, aching want.

They walked there.
Flatting a way through someone’s field, who cares!
The seeds fly free unzipped from the sticky arrows of barley
That strike our bare legs and the brown stung skin of Alison.

She’s bold enough to walk and talk with us of nothing but to be
First, funniest, biggest, bravest, boyest of the lot.
She is our centre, we satellite her like the sun, our Apollo 11
She burns us with her hot scent and wet neck.

We are friends.
One girl three boys, drowning in young.
John loves her, I don’t.
Russell loves John, I don’t.

My role is Robin Hood.
Stealthy with willow whip stick I can cut through
The thorn bush tunnel that gates around our camp.
My men and the maid follow
the sprung briars slash at our dust dry eyes
She is proceeded, protected by little John and the loan of his glasses
Chivalry arms our quest into the full bowl of the wood.
No paths, no people, no dogs on leads allowed here
It’s too dense with the dead of the winter
Still cold and moss sick, no light except us can get in.

Inside we see a cluster of grubby youth sat in a mushroom space below a tree
Shading sinuous pipes that fold them in coils of creeping, aching want.