Thursday, 23 June 2011


Whispers within the smoke,
drops of harmony,
that gentle patter of city lights.

Footsteps part the silence
our cheeks bed beneath a galaxy of memories
we topple toward sleep.

Tomorrow's rings smote the surface
and so finally another spiral meets.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Welcome to the Land of Phutt

Over the last few months I have been working with my good friend Paul Bloom on an idea called 'The Land of Phutt'. Our initial plan was to build a blog and each month use it to peer deeper and deeper into this mysterious land - so slowly revealing more about our hero, the landscape and the strange creatures that surround him.
    We therefore set to work - I composing plot lines and he composing images. A couple of months past and we suddenly realised that not only did we have enough material to fill our blog many times over, but also, that we had somehow established a very neat narrative!

On reflection then, we have decided that our idea would in actual fact lend itself better to the pages of a single book than it would the inside of a blog. The book is still a long way off and so for now, though what follows represents little more than a taster of things to come, let me introduce you to the land of...

Image by Paul Bloom

The Story So Far...

I do remember the world from which I came, and yet of myself, of my own life, nothing; not a single memory nor even the smallest of scars ...that is... except for the sounds of an almighty laugh and the faint scent of whiskey upon my flailing arms. Where once I must surely have held memories, aspirations, regrets... in their place now rests, I'm affraid to say, little more than simple darkness. A dark simplicity. Re-born, it seems, as if from the echoes of merriment so here I find myself, a lone soul within the vast lands of Phutt. I have nursed myself back to health. I have constructed a home. I have slept for as many nights as it is possible to sleep. For eight days straight I drank till I was drunk, ate till all was eaten. My fate? What of it I wonder... ...and so again my thoughts begin to wander, pencil grasped between my toes, and though each night I protest, come morning my philosophy remains plain, remains the same: I vow to roam, to go, set forth, to explore... This log therefore, my only hope, for even if I don't... may these words live on forever more.

'Base Camp' - Image by Paul Bloom

About Me

Name: Not applicable

Age: I feel pretty damn old.

Location: Phutt

History: Not applicable, my home is on Phutt now.

Appearance: As far as can be told without a clear view of my face, I appear (wrinkles aside) somewhat younger than I feel... Indeed, it seems I possess teenage limbs.

Height: Comparatively tall and yet... in equal measure, comparatively small (1 branch, 3 sticks).

Weight: 9 rocks 3 pebbles.

Hair Colour: Still awaiting adequate growth.

Daily Cycle: 10 hours sleep, 12 hours awake.

Muscles: Approx 600

Bones: Approx 200

Teeth: 21

Arrival Date: Marked as January 1st 0001

Eye Colour: Unresolved

Salvaged items: 1 fully functional steel door; 90 plastic bottles; 1 half pack of matches; 3 large heaps of plastic; 1 dried disc of dung; 1 knife; 8 meters aluminium; 2 medium heaps of shattered glass; 340 screws; 1 heap of shattered ceramics; 70 shards of finger/toe nails (crisp); 37 rusted copper nails; 1 very large (partially intact) silver disc; 3 meters of twisted titanium; sack of assorted bones; 58 sheets of crisp (crumbly) skin; 1 bucket of assorted brass; steel & amp; copper; 30 carbon rods, jeans, vest, one sock

New Items: My One-Compass, diary

'The Singing One-Compass' - Image by Paul Bloom

Concerning the Art of Survival:

Fear - Fear is a normal reaction!

*Note: my fear was little more than a prelude to the waves of panic, pain, cold, thirst, hunger, fatigue, boredom and loneliness which followed thereafter.

The secret, I surmise, is to anticipate an emergency situation – hence the construction of my One-Compass. The One-Compass refutes those seven enemies. Thanks to the One-compass no more will the seven enemies interfere with my survival. By the power of my One-compass I will, from now on, calmly and rationally assess each situation.

Pain - Pain may often be ignored. In a panic situation ignore pain. To panic is to ignore pain and yet neither should I panic. Remember, always deal with injuries. If I panic and lose pain I may lose a limb. Always deal with pain immediately, without panicking, so as to avoid the onset of seriousness.

Cold – My own brain works better when it is cold, and yet, simultaneously, I have also found that lower temperatures reduce the ability to think. This phenomenon I believe, owes not to the cold itself, but rather, due to the fact that cold causes a numbing of the body. This numbing of the body seems to reduce my will to survive and so, alas, I cease from thinking. Never allow myself to stop thinking, never allow myself to stop moving or to fall asleep, that is, unless I am adequately sheltered.

Thirst – Dehydration is to me a familiar foe, an outlandish wraith whom must not be ignored. She dulls my mind... her hollow eyes throwing trivial glances upon what once had been.

Hunger - Hunger is dangerous though seldom deadly. Hunger reduces my ability to think and darkens my mood. A destroyer of logic, hunger also cloaks the effects of cold, pain and fear.

Fatigue - Fatigue is unavoidable. There is not a situation alive without fatigue. Fatigue can and will lower my mental ability. Like panic, fatigue wears a cheap face.

Boredom & Loneliness - These enemies are quite often unanticipated and can lower my mind's ability to deal with a situation. Boredom and Loneliness... they are both fraudulent and damning. I remain loathe to discuss them.

'Tree Hugging Winkle Dancer' - Image by Paul Bloom
'Rock Clinging Hover Moot' - Image by Paul Bloom
'Moot Eater (Rock Clinging)' - Image by Paul Bloom 


Clothing - Clothes are best worn. Hats are a help though all seem to itch. When clothing think of both the heat and cold. The act of clothing is not necessarily always an either/or situation. Water proof outer layers!

Equipment – Dependent on sack size. Keep to hand: matches, sachet of crumble-skin, knife, eye-shades, my One-compass, trail food.

Survival Kit – ideas: waterproof, a container, also a cooking pot, also a water receptacle, also a weapon - somehow attach to belt? High Priority!

Backsack - Should weigh less than me. Inside items: reflective, extra rags, socks, serrated metal, food, tarp. 

'Spurg Plant' - Image by Paul Bloom

How to Build a Fire:

Find a sandy or rocky area. Look for a supply of sand, earth or water so as to avoid setting alight another running fire.

*NoteMistakes so far:
1. Poor tinder 
2. Failing to shield matches from the wind
3. Smothering the flames (make sure pieces of fuel arn’t too large. The four most important factors when starting a fire are: spark - tinder - fuel - oxygen. 

*Note - Best Ways to Create Sparks: 
1. Matches are best. KEEP THEM DRY! 
2. The flint and steel method - Aim the sparks at dry tinder to produce a fire. 
3. Remove half of the powder from a bullet and pour it into the tinder. Place a rag in the cartridge case of the gun and fire. The rag should ignite and then may be placed into the tinder. – Neither gun nor bullets remain.
5. Allow the sun’s rays to pass through focused glass onto the tinder. 

Tinder = dry grass, crumble skin, paper or cloth, rags and dry bark. Place tinder in a small pile, like a tepee, with the driest pieces at the bottom.

*Note: Smaller pieces of kindling such as, twigs, bark and shavings are necessary when trying to ignite larger pieces of fuel. Gather fuel before attempting to start fire. Dry wood burns better. Wet wood will make smoke. Dense, dry wood will burn slow and hot. A well ventilated fire will burn best.

'Camp Fire' - Image by Paul Bloom

'Walking Living Light' - Image by Paul Bloom
'Self Fertilising Husk Bean' - Image by Paul Bloom

How to Build a Shelter

!!Extremely Important!!

- Insulated from the bottom.
- Protected from wind.
- must contain a fire.

Before the build check that surrounding area provides what is needed to build a fire. Also need water source and/or shelter from the wind.

Types of Shelter

1. Cubby Holes (caves and overhanging cliffs): When exploring a possible shelter, tie string to the outer mouth of the cave to help find my way out. Cave’s are long and dark and often house at least three of the seven enemies. 

*Note - Caves may already be occupied! Also, if using a cave, build fire near its mouth to prevent animals from entering.

2. Pit: enlarge the natural pit under a fallen tree and line it with bark or tree boughs.

3. Den: Maybe near a rocky coastal area, build a rock shelter in the shape of a ‘U’, cover roof with driftwood, tarp or even seaweed (preferably dry seaweed)?

4. House of Cards: Lean together branches or fallen trees, cover with tarp, boughs, thick grasses or bark. 

5. Wigowam: Constructed using three long poles. Tie the tops of the poles together and upright them in a good spot. Cover the sides with a tarp, boughs, or other suitable stuff. Build a fire in the middle – remember to make a draft channel in the side and a small hole in the top to allow smoke and personals gases to escape.

6. If in open terrain, an earth cave will provide good shelter. Find a drift and burrow a tunnel into the side then build a chamber. The entrance of the tunnel should lead to the lowest level of the chamber; this is where the cooking and storage of equipment will be. A minimum of two ventilating holes are necessary, preferably one in the roof and one in the door (speculative).

'Map' - Image by Paul Bloom

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Echoes of Dawn: '...a zombie romance'

I was interviewed last year about my book Echoes of Dawn. It has previously been published as a limited edition booklet and was also included in Lazy Gramophone's The Book of Apertures project. The latest development concerning this journeyman of a tale, is a proposal for it to be turned into a full length graphic novel... I have both fingers and toes crossed! You can read my interview below:

Revolution No.1, Illustrated by Matt Black

Q: 'How would you describe Echoes of Dawn?'

A: 'Echoes of Dawn is a horror story, though it could also be considered a romance of sorts - a 'zombie romance' if you like. It is the tale of what happens when a young couple suddenly find their world disintegrating. With no other option but to run, the story is essentially what remains of the lead character's journals, a compilation of his writings and drawings. Echoes of Dawn is an attempt to make sense of what actually happened to the lead character and to those people around him, it is a fragmented history of a horrific period in time. It has been compiled in retrospect, with each section reflecting the different stages of his journey.'

Revolution No.2, Illustrated by Matt Black

Q: 'What were your influences when writing this story?'

A: 'More than anything else, this story has been influenced by film. While I was writing it I saw it as a very visual piece and pictured each 'revolution' as representing a scene from a much larger story. Essentially, I wanted to offer readers the spine of the story, therefore giving them the opportunity to use their own imaginations to colour in the rest. At the time I was watching a lot of westerns and horror films. The two horror films that particularly inspired this story were The Hills Have Eyes remake and Switchblade Romance, both directed by Alexandre Aja. However, more importantly, Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven and Dead Man by Jim Jarmusch, were really inspirational and very much the catalyst for the style of my story. '

Revolution No.5, Illustrated by Matt Black

Q: 'What would you like to convey through this story?'

A: 'In reading this story I hope that people will use their own frames of reference, their own opinions and perceptions when interpreting the story. In accordance with the themes that I was writing about, I didn't want to prescribe a story. Instead, I wanted to write something that engaged the reader, challenged them, the answer will not fall at your feet, it must be pursued.'

Revolution No.9, Illustrated by Matt Black

Q: 'What are the themes of the story?'

A: 'Echoes of Dawn is a kind of social commentary; it is a warning of what might happen if hope and love continue to be prescribed. If 'we' continue to tell people in such certain terms and in such unforgiving ways how they should behave, what they should aspire to, if we continue to prescribe lifestyles like we are doing, forcing pegs into holes, eventually something is going to give. Or maybe we have already gone..? Maybe, instead of rising up and striking out, we have already, quietly succumbed? Maybe we are already like the creatures in my story, wandering the earth, fuelled only by an empty consumerism, by the hollow desires of a past and a future that we have never been inspired to truly comprehend. Yet, even scarier still, what if one day we wake from this unprepared, unarmed and alone, the world still intent on consumption. What would you do then? When suddenly you realise that all of the things you thought you had chosen to love (even the one person you had chosen to love), had in fact, now, unrelentingly, chosen you.

'He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise.

(William Blake, 1757-1827)

This is the poem that inspired my story. In writing Echoes of Dawn, my aim was to turn Blake's idea on its head. The lead character in my story need not worry about binding himself to the joys of life, for it is actually he who finds himself terminally bound to them.'


- Echoes of Dawn is currently on sale in the Lazy Gramophone Shop

- Follow this link for a preview

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Sea Has Always Been Louder Than Me

The sea has always been louder than me... 

Than us... 

...than them.

So often I’ve witnessed attempts to shout it down. Not a single success. Not a single wave could their voices restrain.

With fish for thoughts, our ocean, it is too contradictory to sleep. 

Even when the water’s calm it can never be silent. For in those moments the salt of all the tears we’ve ever cried speak of sadness, paint its depths a heavier blue, a darker and more twisted shade. 

And so our silences sink helplessly, a little further each year, deeper than any hope in any wishing well. 

These days therefore, instead of voices, I read thoughts as words posted in the sand, watch as the waves wash them away. Each hieroglyph beneath my toes proof of those others who have learnt like me, the secrets of the sadness of the sea, of this dumping ground full of painful moods and memories...

...of introspection beneath surface peace.

"Boats are the nearest thing to dreams that hands have ever made." ~ Robert N. Rose

As If the Sea Should Part
by Emily Dickinson

As if the Sea should part
And show a further Sea --
And that -- a further -- and the Three
But a presumption be --

Of Periods of Seas --
Unvisited of Shores --
Themselves the Verge of Seas to be --
Eternity -- is Those --

“Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be part.” ~ Hermann Broch

“Wide sea, that one continuous murmur breeds along the pebbled shore of memory!” ~ John Keats

“ The walls became the world all around and an ocean tumbled by, with a private boat for Max and he sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year, to where the wild things are” ~ Maurice Sendak, ‘Where The Wild Things Are’

Further Links:

Maddie Joyce

Thursday, 31 March 2011


“Concrete poetry or Size poetry is poetry in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on.

It is sometimes referred to as visual poetry, a term that has evolved to have distinct meaning of its own, but which shares the distinction of being poetry in which the visual elements are as important as the text.” ~ Wikipedia entry

Helix nebula

I have spent much of this last month simply looking, often without thought, at the world around me. Each elegant silhouette home to a cacophony of complexities and so everything it seems, is suddenly breaking into life. The night sky washed with stars, the mornings laced with delicious silences, each day bustling with the joys of nature's new found enthusiasm.

Photo by Claire Fletcher

To experience the world in this way feels, to me at least, remarkably refreshing. Hampered by an inward tilt, autumn and winter have seen much procrastinating. Now however, almost unexpectedly, I feel a sense of release, a lightness of mind. The layers of meaning remain but instead of fervently delving deeper there now exists a calmness, my eyes content at last to rest a while upon the surface of each moment before digesting it... then, I offer up my latest attempt at concrete poetry:


 The words for this piece rose shyly one evening...

Eyes - Zoom x1

...each letter emerging slowly, out from the depths of my mug before setting themselves upon the page.

Eyes - Zoom x2


Tonight's sea of souls curiously bold
a shoal of eyes lie simmering beneath the moonlight,
patter of rings blinking upon the surface.

"...poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility." ~ William Wordsworth

 The Ubuweb Anthology of Conceptual Writing, introduced and edited by Craig Douglas Dworkin

...poetry is that form which "does itself actually exist in the mind." ~ William Wordsworth

Further Links:
"Concrete Prose" - Haroldo de Camposs Galáxias and After: 

Zoe Catherine Kendall, Precious Creatures:

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Morning Harbours Silences

There is something deeply evocative about those very first moments of each day, those first few minutes when the sun begins to rise, begins to colour the deep blue morning sky. With the clocks set to spring forward this weekend I have found myself enjoying slower and slower starts, taking the time to leaf through others peoples words and pictures before beginning to write my own. One image that particularly caught my attention was a piece of artwork called Jetty, by Tom Harris. I have worked with Tom before on previous projects and often cast an eye over his work in the hope of catching sight of something new. Jetty is not a new piece but I think, placed in the context of that morning, it was just the thing to set my thoughts spinning...

...and so finally, I’ll curtail my ramblings and come to the point of this blog: my poem ‘The Morning Harbours Silences’, inspired by Tom Harris’ artwork ‘Jetty’:

Jetty, by Tom Harris

The Morning Harbours Silences

The morning harbours silences cracked as bark
and so dawn's gristled talons depart.

Shell and splinters,
a massacre upon the marsh as if puddles of rust yet still
they lift, the clouds, those shadows that veil our sun,
miraculous as footsteps each drawn against the last...

...trussed, we gasp,
mouths halos within the dark.

Sunday, 20 March 2011


The onset of spring and so now it feels as if the time is right to open a new window unto the world; to unearth a fertile patch of web, a plot within which to plant my future scribblings. This space I have named Nedaseungreda....

...I found the word Nedaseungreda engraved on a medieval sword blade in the V&A Museum, London. The caption at the museum said they had no direct translation of the word but believe that, as if a spell, it had been inscribed upon the sword in order to protect the knight in battle. Looking at the inscription the owner would have been reminded of all those things his/her knighthood stood for.
Sword, with straight quillons and a wheel-shaped pommel, English, 1250-1300, recovered from Whittlesea Mere, Cambridgeshire in the 1840s. the long double-edged blade constructed of two parallel pattern welded rods to give a shallow concave medial fuller  which is decorated with an inlaid talismanic inscription in latten letters on both sides.
I believe that sometimes we all need symbols like this to help remind us what it is we stand for. I have a great admiration for those people who, despite the contradictory world around them, the challenges they will have to face, the sacrifices they might have to make, still aspire to a certain truth. For me 'Nedaseungreda' is representative of the battles we sometimes have fight in order to stay honest to what is we believe in. I hope that by baring this name upon my blog it will continue to inspire, just as it once did the knight who carried it.

I leave you for now with a piece I wrote, and which Matt Black illustrated, that was loosely inspired by the sword above. In three parts, as if themselves reflections, so these words will remain puddled upon the surface of my blog:

Part One

An oversized rocking chair, wood slowly splintering as if the emigration of a thousand tiny spines. They rise up, out from within its heavy arms and like flames their flickering reaches for the window. Each one a dusty tear blurring its single eye. In order to watch he tilts his own head, doubt blinded by emotion as they begin to spiral toward the black glass. Lids heavy, his slit of concious drawn to a close by the cacophony of what formally had been such seasonal tides. And so this winter hope's grin springs from the warmth of bulbs, the spread of his desk fallen icy cold. Fingers skate before him and yet still those memories sing, twist his ear lobes first east and then west. As always, the pendulum swings.

Part Two

Another moon chimes, the attic silence of old unfolding as if a new born flock of wings, air undulating as their limbs slip from the darkness. So once again the sands of time begin to decend, each grain drawn from the crest of mourning, herself a falling lament. Flakes of white, her toes reach for the crumpled yellow canvas, narrow eyes drawn against the tumbling shafts of light. Her lashes palms, their silhouttes stencils, petals enveloped by the eternal blue hearth she waits, for the sun's incandescent ashes to curl around her limbs, begin to swirl within the plams of her cupped hands.

 Part Three

The day blinks, all thoughts suddenly fireflies. The glow of yesterday's embers smoke beneath my soles sat so coldly now upon the doorstep; eyes to the sky, my cradled coffee cup and I, the winds silent reproach. Dreams rise shyly, with wry smiles freckle the night. Stll though I hear them whisper... '...listener? Once woken, be sure to sleep tight.'