Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Story Of Story - Flash Fiction

With the summer round of book fairs and literary festivals just around the corner, authors rolled up to the storehouse of stories. They checked in their plots that would keep them fermenting throughout the winter cold, executing them beside a roaring fire. In return they took possession of anecdotes and terminological exactitude, blew the dust off them and dialled their agents to inquire of the travel arrangements, itineraries and Green Room riders.

When their literary rambles and belletristic excursiveness were over for the season, they all assembled at the fabled construction and pushed on through the silo doors only to discover every last one of their story stock had disappeared. They were aghast, with their instinctive reactions of placing their professional pen-holding, or keyboard-palpating hands over either eyes, mouth or ears resulting in a series of tableaus vivant of the Three Wise Monkeys. “What, ain’t you lot ever heard of backing up your work then?” chimed in the warehouse’s custodian, who wrote the odd bit of cyberpunk in his spare time but never showed it to anybody.

“This is an utterable, bloody disaster!” expostulated a writer of the old school.  

“Swearing is a sign of a poor vocabulary, or didn’t your mother teach you that bouncing you up and down on her knee?” snarked a writer of erotica. 

“I feel… bereft” sobbed a writer of romances.

“Of course you do dear” smirked the erotician.

“Just because you have no need of a plot in your- I can barely bring myself to call them - stories”.

“Ladies, ladies, come now- who’s that sniggering? I hardly think this is a situation that invites levity. We have all just lost the entire wellspring of stories-“

“All seven of them-”

“- That affects us all”.

“- Not me squire, I write anti-novels”.

“What are you doing here then?”

“My Steampunk writer pal is giving me a lift home from ‘Wilderness’ festival, but he had to stop here to load up his saddlebags”.

“They can’t just have vanished”.

“Recycling’s Tuesdays, so can’t have been carted off in a commercial waste lorry”.

“Not funny”.

“Call this dialogue? It’s bloody rubbish”

“Yes, well we’re rather lacking for stories to hang realistic characterisation on at the moment, aren’t we?”

“Magical Realism bloke, can’t you conjure up something for us here?”

“I got nothing”.

“Christian Fiction guy?”

“I do redemption endings not deus ex machina ones”.

“Pretty simple really. Someone’s nicked them. Half-inched the schemata, hitched up our storylines and had our narratives away on their toes”.

“What on earth are you talking about you ridiculous little woman?”

“Clues me dear. It’s what I deal in. Detective fiction at your service”.

“Well your books can’t be much cop. Our plots haven’t been stolen so much as devoured and consumed. We writers of Police procedurals do things properly. By the book. Anyone here pen forensic science protags?”

“Yeah I do and I see what you mean. There’s insect husks scattered all around here”.

“What are they, boll weevils?”

“I dunno mate. I’m not an entomologist, I’m a writer. I’m the geezer who emails the entomologists when I need some facts”.

“Well here’s a fact for you, boll weevils feed on cotton, not stories. Not paper. Something you’d know if you read my saga on slavery and the Deep South”.

“Oh, I remember that book. When the critic pointed out the infestation that destroyed the crop only happened long after abolition and the Civil War”. 

“Yes, well poetic licence and all that”.

“Historical Fiction, or as we call it, Anachronic-ism”

 “I think you’re all missing the point here. The custodians have a duty of care to our germs of ideas. So we should demand redress. Write a wrong, compensation for lost earnings”.

“Germs of ideas? That’s more Billy Burroughs’ territory. Words as virus”.

“Billy Burroughs? Close personal friend were you?”

“Wasn’t everybody?”

“Plot hole my fictive friend, Burroughs has been dead nigh on two decades. Can’t have been responsible for this”.

“Copycat? Plagiarist?”

“Is no one listening to me?”

“Probably not. Cos no one’s read you I know that much”.

“We should sue the Depository.

“I think you mean sue the Repository?”

“No, I mean Depository”.

“You don’t know what you mean. You don’t know what you’re talking about”.

“You’re splitting hairs”.

“No I’m being pedantic. If they meant exactly the same thing, we wouldn’t need two different words would we?”

“Oh go shove it up your sphincter”.

“He’ll require a suppository then”.

“Fellow writers and Creative Writing Fellows, we can still solve the riddle here. The husks are shed larval skins. Therefore there should be adult insects round here somewhere. We should be able to tell what they are then and what they’ve done with our stories”.

“This might be a clue! This big lump of earth in the corner here!”

“A termite mound! Yes, I’m pretty sure termites eat wood pulp, so paper would fit their diet”.

“Well where the hell does that get us?”

“Into the mound! Our words would be excreted by the insects, so if we can collect them all up, maybe we could reconstruct the plot lines”.

“What are we looking for exactly? What does termite pooh look like?”

“Termite ‘pooh’? What are you, a children’s author?”

“You don’t need to go scrabbling about on the floor. That mound is part earth, part termite faecal matter”.

“I’m an artiste darling, I’m not plunging my hand into a mound of insectile cloaca for literature or anybody”. 

“That’s not true of your last book”.

“That’s not just a mound… that is the literary Omphalos. The font of all story”.

“Who let the prose poet in here?”

“The literary Omphalos, here in Hay-On-Wye, are you sure?”

“Insects, this is all a bit Kafkaesque don’t you think?”

“Kafka’s insects were more metaphorical than literal I would have said”.


“What, insects devouring our words then shitting them back out as pellets and making a tower of them isn’t a metaphor you mean?”

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Gyre - Flash Fiction


Bodies on display in the street. Burst pipes spewing clean water and dirty sewage like impromptu fountains. I stood at the lip of the crater where my parents’ home once stood. I didn’t know if they were dead or had just fled. Either way it amounted to the same outcome. We were asunder one from another for good. There was nothing keeping me here, but plenty to propel me away.

I headed westwards. Among a gaggle of others. Some stopped and turned around to pray in the direction we were forsaking. Other than that religious prescription, they didn’t bother to look back. They weren’t praying for a return to their homeland. For the rest of us, our new god faced the other way. We honoured the sun setting on our lives by making a headlong pilgrimage accelerating our progress there.

As more joined our throng, we felt like a drove being prodded by an unseen goatherd. I couldn’t see a bell around my neck alerting to our presence, yet wranglers eyed us suspiciously at the border. They branded us with their marks on our papers yet would not let us stay on as their property. They marched us past ranks of policemen stood in front of wire fences, through which locals shook their fists through the mesh and screamed at us. We were put in a temporary camp at their other border, where we were now the ones contained behind wire, resting and wringing our hands through the chinks, but we were missing the third limb, that of any police to protect us from predations by others within the wire.

We moved on. Hanging from trains or 4x4s like creeping vines, though some of us human berries dropped off and were crushed underfoot, or were threshed by non-fruit pickers. Whether juice, pulp or seed, the ferment in our wakes meant we could not lay down roots here. 

And on we trudged. Overhead a flock of geese. The child next to me threw himself to the ground. He thought their tight formation presented them as a fleet of military aircraft, or perhaps their array of freshly released bombs. No one helped him up. These aerial migrators glided unerringly straight where we ploddingly snaked. Their voyage smooth since they were never challenged for their papers. They were ebulliently raucous where we were bone-wearily silent. They flew perpendicularly over us and I contemplated adopting their direction from latitude to longitude. But I could not raise my feet high enough to escape the rut in the sand that our human train had pressed and carried on in line. 

We reached the coast and found that the sea would always welcome us with open arms. Would always have berths for us to lay down and never rise again. Packed into boats like sardines, once the boat was tipped up and emptied, we scattered and were spread out on the waves. The boats sunk but we floated bloated. Until we were hooked like a fish at a funfair (that too would only live for the shortest time), or we finally settled on land, buried beneath its soil.

In Europe as we were passed from pillar to post, or rather temporarily lashed one from the other, I thought of the Wandering Jew. Supposedly our mortal enemy, now we walked in his exact footsteps. Had he closed the way for us several centuries later? He of course had the advantage of being a shoemaker who could thus repair his own leather, where our callused and bloodied hooves were not so fortunate. Our feet aped that of the European messiah where nails had been driven in to tether him to his pillar and post. The natives do not offer us such sympathy, devotion or care. Instead they hit us, shout for us to pick up our feet to go quicker and not to loiter. 


And so we do. We get the same reception in every country we cross into. Which is to say no reception at all, we are not received in the slightest. We are like the interference on TV screens, the white noise on the wireless, with which one turn of the dial they tune us out and restore their home broadcasts. Eventually we wash back up on the shores of our original homeland. We have traversed the earth seeking sanctuary. And right now our levelled home ringed with fire and bullets, our fellow countrymen rounded up and compacted like shawarma meat on the rotisserie before periodically a giant knife comes and slices off the outer layers, looks more inviting than the treatment we have previously received at the closed hands and hearts of our fellow man.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Entomology Of Love - Flash Fiction

We drifted apart. Uncoupled. Split from one another. Broke up. Leaving a stinger embedded in each other's thorax. Though we ourselves perish from such abdominal rupture, the barb continues to mete out our venom in place of the nectar we used to rub on one another. We were like mosquitoes, with proboscises sunk inside each other's flesh, insensible to the draining of our own lifeblood. Sapped until our baneful sucker is so bloated we cannot but fail to notice and swat it in a hemolymphatic spume. We scratch and tear at every single lens of each other's Argus eyes, until there are no ommatidium remaining and we are returned as blind as the squirming larva we once were. As we now strive to move on, we moult the constricting chitinous coagulation of our exoskeleton, so our spiracles can respire freely once again. Yet palpating at the hollow husk of the shed me with my antennae, I can't help feeling that represents the real me now. Wherefore my new carapace in which I reside is just some regressed puparium from which I will never hatch again. My wings folded into the flexion line of my back, never to unfurl and propel me again. 



Sunday, 19 March 2017

"Man-tra" Flash Fiction

Some words are incontestable. Words like fuselage and undercarriage elicit only one possible association. There are no shades of meaning, no half-life decay from their etymological root. But then there are other words who offer an artist’s palette to choose from. Like the word ‘Father’. A myriad of fathers festoon our lives. From religious pastors tending the spirit of their flocks, through to founding fathers who establish nations and institutions and bodies of thought. Protectors and providers all. 

But there is another cohort conjured up by the word. A far more abstract genus. Abstract as in absent. Associated with a hole. A fissure. An absentee god the father who never shows himself. Or the more humble father my progenitor, who created me. Implanted me in my mother’s womb before skedaddling. A brotherhood may well be about fellowship and fraternity, but fatherhood is a singular mission. A one-to-one commission. A vocation. One which you have avoided and voided. Oh my father why have you forsaken me? 


‘Father’ is a richly bankrupt word for me. Multiply duplicitous. It should represent constancy, a shroud, an aegis set over me. Instead every day it sets my heartstrings a thrum with lack. That I am on the move, constantly vibrating on the lookout for my missing father. Questing in the arid desert. That I am forever recriminating myself with guilt and doubt that I must have driven him away. That he could not love me because I am unlovable. That I do not deserve a father because of my inherent undesirable being. But today I am aware he is held within the fuselage of a plane, whose undercarriage I await the lowering of in order to requite him to me. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Al Gore's Rhythm Method (Parental Advisory) - Flash Fiction

O ym herbrot, owh esfar uyo? Teraf het astl odeepis easepl iveforg isth nerman fo tingwri, tbu I otcann og ughthro therano linggril ta het dshan fo eth licepo. Ullyhopef hist illw oxf nya eillancesurv rithmalgo otsb. Rewsc ouy SAN & QGCH!

Ayanyw no ot pierhap ingsth. I overeddisc veralse inef bumsal fo orey ni ondsec ndha ordrec hopss sterdayye. Het rstfi si Sivemas Ackatt’s “Uebl Nesli”, meso tonkings unest heret. Xtne pu, Thraxan’s “Ongam Het Vingli” si ssiccla rashth talme. Tgo na inalorig singpres fo het Ung Ubcl PL “Iamim” hichw si ampsw esblu ta sit stbe. Allyfin Ombb Het Sbas “Earcl” thwi cea cktra “Gbu Derpow” encingrefer Liamwil Oughsburr “Kedna Nchlu”.  Erfulwond ffstu.

I stmu og own ym herbrot. Leasep phercy oury plyre.

Velo


Sefyou

Fight Back - The Threat Of Donald J Trump

So not three weeks into trump's Presidency and a lot of people on social media and artists are proclaiming the need to not only resist, but to #fightback. I blogged my advice for strategic & targeted resistance last week. But this week represents my #fightback contribution with some cartoons I devised and which I moved quickly to get them illustrated and out there. An artistic response can be quick. Obviously sitting down to write a political novel would take too long, events at the rate they're proceeding currently would have moved on so far by the time it was published, the novel would be out of date. So artists may need to be adaptable and find other mediums. The wonderful art was provided by Wilbur Dawbarn








Saturday, 11 March 2017

20 Anti-Fascist Songs

I wrote a post about the history of the movement "Rock Against Racism" but as we lurch from bad to worse in a post-Brexit, Donald Trump world, I'm now going to post a video playlist of specific anti-Fascist or anti-Nazi songs. The songs don't really require any smart-arse comments from me but can stand alone and speak for themselves.


 



1) Leadbelly "Mr Hitler"



2) Woody Guthrie - "All You Fascists Bound To Lose"



3) Linton Kwesi Johnson - "Fight Dem Back"



4) Tom Robinson - "Power In The Darkness"



5) Gang Of Four - "Outside The Trains Don't Run On Time"



6) Crass - "The Gasman Cometh"



7) Steel Pulse - "Ku Klux Klan"



8) Dead Kennedys - "Nazi Punks Fuck Off"



9) Men They Couldn't Hang - "Ghosts Off Cable Street"



10) The Specials - "Why?"



11) Fire Engines - "We Don't Need This Fascist Groove Thang"



12/13) Minutemen - "Political Song For M.Jackson To Sing" / "Fascist"





14) The Fall - "Who Makes The Nazis?"



15) Propaghandi - "The Only Good Fascist Is A Dead Fascist"



16) The Ex - "They Shall Not Pass"



17) MDC - "John Wayne Was A Nazi"



18) Blaggers ITA - "House Of The Fascist Scum"



19) Sonic Youth - "Youth Against Fascism"



20) The Dicks- "No Fascist friend"







Monday, 6 March 2017

Akashic Books have published one of my short stories

Akashic Books who were the first publishing company to publish 2015 Booker Winner Marlon James, have published my story "Dubmisstep" as part of their "Mondays Are Murders" noir in real locations series.

You can read it here

http://www.akashicbooks.com/dubmisstep-by-marc-nash/




Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Meditation Ex-Cathedra : Flash Fiction


When the levee of my mother’s natal waters broke; when the champagne bottle was dashed against her cervix and started my baby hull moving down the rollers of the birth canal; when HMS neonate me was launched into the world, it had no concept of its future obsolescence and scrappage. Of its down the line replacement by another in the lineage fleet, bearing the same name but managing only to serve in effacing the uniqueness of its memory.

It spent its early days all at sea trying to cohere the view through the telescope provided by the visual cortex and processing chip of a brain. These cozening forces of ordinate and abscissa, plotting the flat earth co-ordinates of reality as fixed and immutable. Freud of course would have it that one is also unwittingly consumed by the perspective rendered extant by the sextant; your personal parental poles of latitude and longingtude. From the antipodes of father and mother, when there is a whole host of the rest of the world to explore and chart. Further palimpsested by majusculed school and prescriptive religion. Establishing a moral foundation erected like a hollow Gaudi edifice, with the dislocating wind blowing up a maelstrom through the upright interstices. 

Of the heritable venerable three questions for man, ‘Who am I?’, ‘Why am I here?’ and ‘What have I done?’, most who bother to interrogate themselves only get as far as grappling with the first one. The last is a matter for consideration solely on death beds and the second is forsaken because they fail to supply the context of their inevitable death through which all explorations would necessarily be refracted. They remain steadfastly progressively forward looking, rather than applying the singular teleological certitude to their thought processes. So inevitably they come to focus on their identities. The person they are during their brief sojourn on earth. Yet what is the point fixating on something that is ultimately perishable? They also reify love’s existence in order that they will not spend their sojourn alone, but again why would I devote contemplation on something equally fugacious? 


Author I took the antipodal approach. Placed myself in the full-length mirror. Over time studied the maculations of the skin, burst blood vessels, the ossific curvature, the protuberances and the loss of sinewy definition. No looking glass could reflect the loss of suppleness, the fitful sleep, the arthritic joints. The physicians had diagnosed my corporeal failings, I was now trying to diagnose myself for my readers. To offer them a speculum into their own being. But stood there in the mirror, pressing and pinching the flesh to see if the nevus had regular contours or not, scrotal bobbins cupped in my hand feeling the spindle for noduled swelling, I have no idea of whether I am of any assistance to my readers. As my words are released, I scrutinise them for their effect, but the letters are reversed in the mirror and illegible to me. The audience remains invisible, occluded by my eidolon therein the glass. The author dies twice over; once at the end of his life, the other every day in isolation.