Title: New Poems

SCREENPLAYS

 

Red Mercury

An occult political thriller. It won the Bronze medal in the thriller category at the Flagstaff International Film Festival, 1998 (128 pages)


Satyr

A cross-genre fantasy script. Option sold on the script in 2000 but the requisite budget package folded and the script is now available again. (120 pages)

 

 

Corday

Set during the French revolution this script is an alternative take on the assassination of Marat. (110 pages)


 

HAIBUN and SHORT STORIES

 

THREE BROTHERS

                                    discordant bells
                                    call the faithful to mass –
                                    a ferry’s deep horn

 

A pink dawn in St. Malo. Rain in the air. I’m waiting for the ferry in a limbo of time, half way between holiday-let and home. There is an hour to kill.

 

As I wander inside the city walls I look for old stones, a sense of history that will be agreeable. I decide to walk up the sharp incline from the City Gate to the Cathedral of St Vincent, warming myself against the morning chill with a comfortable anticipation of browsing  among images from the past that are secure and familiar.

 

As I approach the cathedral I gaze around me. Where the rose cobbles of Place Jean de Chatillon meet the grey setts of a small side street, I glance up to see the road sign. This obscure and narrow passageway is named after three brothers.

 

At the base of a sandstone wall there are the bedraggled remains of a bouquet of white roses. It seems there is someone in the town for whom the French Resistance and the Volentaire FFL is still a poignant memory. I read the dedication on the polished brass plaque – three brothers whose war ended before the war itself.

 

                                    in the Rue Des Frères Colteret
                                    flowers
                                    and the smell of drains

 

As I walk away I remember one of their names “Marcel, fusillé au Mont-Valerian en 1943”.

Returning through the city gate I glimpse the ferry gliding slowly into port. The harbour is a joyous chaos of masts and flags, sea air, openness, cranes and holiday-makers.

 

                                    I tighten the drawstring
                                    of my backpack – the toggle
                                    cold as a bullet

 

 

 SPRING BURIAL

 

early spring funeral –
the robin looking for worms
in the turned earth

 

bird-box in the yew
emits small squeaking noises
over the coffin

 

biting wind –
the mourners stand in the lee
of the pile of earth

 

graveside topsoil
a small child rescues
an unearthed crocus
 

getting out of the wind
a curled leaf - I huddle
in my scarf

 

fallen headstone –
the rosettes of lichen
turn pink in the rain

 

under the church porch
a confetti heart trembles
on the spider’s web

 

dead oak tree –
still a fine presence
over the gravestones

 

 

WAR GAMES

 

                                    lighting matches
                                    under my plastic soldiers –
                                    only the Germans

 

I was both more literal and more imaginative than my childhood friends. Or so I considered. In any case I preferred to play soldiers on my own. Out in my sand pit I became absorbed for some days in the sheer variety and complexity of the injuries that could be thus inflicted on my toy army.

 

Soldiers whose limbs had become flat, puddled extrusions at shoulder and hip; others whose khaki clad backs had become twisted and doubled; one whose headless neck ended in a twist of pulled plastic, and another whose melded head was fused with sand. All fell eventually to the brutalities of battle: the British; the Japanese; the cowboys; the medieval knights. All of them needed attention.

 

But first the nature of their injuries had to be enhanced. The wounds made more real. I loved the Humbrol model enamel paint, the crimson so shiny and thick. Then, with the addition of yellow and white, I made the livid pinks of flesh and fat, the glints of protruding bone. But then, what to do with all these injured? A field hospital had to be made.

 

                                    matchstick palisade –
                                    blood and the penknife
                                    together in the sand


I was not an expert surgeon. My mother’s dress-making pins held arms to torsos. A green upholstery tack became a prosthetic foot. Strips of my father’s Rizla cigarette papers were applied as bandages and tourniquets. The permanently seated soldiers, made for scout cars and jeeps, were fitted with crude wheel-chairs crafted from balsa wood. Even those soldiers who, through luck or favouritism, had so far been spared were withdrawn from the front line and given other duties. A German bazooka aimer and an English sniper had their weapons cut from their shoulders and were re-trained to carry a stretcher. Carefully they gathered an injured Indian scout who no longer crawled but lay face up, his crooked leg clearly broken.

When my friend Paul came with his army to do battle in the sand-pit, I had to tell him that my men, though brave enough, would never take to the field of war again.

 

                                    fifty thousand dead -
                                    the Prime Minister
                                    voices an opinion

 

 

 STATIONS OF THE CROSS

 

THE JUDGEMENT

 

between trial and trial
   wounds already healing
   wounds which will never

 

THE CROSS

 

known already
   those still unsuffered steps
   into unsuffering

 

THE FIRST FALL

 

no step but this
  on which I fall
  and then another

 

MOTHER AND SON

 

no pain to come
  as sharp as this which issues
  from her eyes

 

SIMON

 

another fall
  face in the dirt – an ant
  shouldering his load

 

VERONICA

 

not my face only
  but the print of womens’ grief
  upon your cloth

 

 THE SECOND FALL

 

the centurion’s cane
  whipping across the spine
  sappy              still green

 

THE HOLY WOMEN

 

faces of grief
  the mirror of compassion
  and to be loved

 

THE THIRD FALL

 

bruise upon bruise
  one face in the crowd
  not cursing

 

THE STRIPPING

damaged and stained
      the wives of mercenaries
      will wash out the blood

 

THE NAILING

a pause between blows 
     the soldier
     sucking a splinter

 

THE DEATH

 

imperceptible
      the blood still dripping
      now cold

 

THE DESCENT

 

his face, more than
the clamminess of dead skin,
      chills the flesh

 

THE ENTOMBMENT

 

across the dark
a closing crescent of light
      white shroud fades to black

 

 

TABLE TURNING

 

Revisiting the past is a dangerous pastime, even for old school friends, but we learn the rules quickly and catch up on each other’s lives with questions - “How many children have you got?”  “Oh, you were married twice then?”  “Thirty years with the same company? Remarkable!” Soon after, we get to play the game “Do you remember when…?” One thing in particular we can each recall. It’s the reason we have agreed to meet.

 

I haven’t spoken to the dead for decades. We’ve all forgotten how it goes. Our first séance was thirty years ago and the tense anticipation of this evening spans the time between, making us adolescents again.  We talk about old excitements while setting out the chairs. Memories, long unvisited, filter back, of a time when kisses and gravestones seemed a perfect mix. A remembered sense of teenage immortality pervades the room, mixed with the distant scent of barely defined romantic longings. We were all such close friends at school. And for a while back then, Sue was more than just a friend -

 

                                                talking of the dead
                                                my hand slips into
                                                her unbuttoned blouse

 

The wine glasses are cleared away, and the circular walnut table, slippery with polish, spirited with lavender, shines like a sunflower. The perimeter petals of alphabet cards are played out around its circumference. I think of my long-dead grandmother playing clock patience in her declining years in a diminishing one-hander against time. All of us now have old parents; dead parents. We wonder who will speak to us through the glass. Five fingers touch the base of the crystal tumbler and the radii of our arms meet at its sparkling hub. Under the light, it is the focus of rediscovered flames, of half-buried energies.  It moves, and small flashes of fugitive light, like evanescent memories, flicker round the room.

 

All those years before, none of us had been closely touched by death. Our imaginations were fired with images of earnest Victorian spiritualists, gathering in the intimate and theatrical gloom of candlelight and dark satin drapes. We were so full of our own energies that we felt we could enlighten the darkest of metaphysical corners.

 

                                                youthful séance -
                                                a bowl of narcissus glows
                                                white in the darkness

 

Now, once again, we are bridging history, with all its garbled dramas, talking through the moving glass, reviving memories, retrieving, letter by letter, the intervening years. Re-living talking to the dead. It all seems risky and illicit, the way it did when we were teenagers, but somehow the intensity, the belief, has gone out of our questions –
 “Are you a dead spirit?” Yes. … “Have you a message for us?”  Yes. … And so it goes –

 

                                                says he’s a plague victim –
                                                a scent of lavender polish
                                                in the upturned glass