Four more years.

March 29, 2013 § Leave a comment


“I’ll sift through that static for a simpler sound.” – Cotton Crush – Kevin Devine. 

Coffee & TV

Coffee & TV (Photo credit: Spencer Finnley)

I turn up five minutes later than we’d agreed in the awkward and stuttering conversation that had preceded our first meeting for four years. I thought I’d get the drop on her and be the one who got to make the grand entrance. Four years later and I’m still trying to move chess pieces across her brain. As usual she was a couple of moves ahead and hadn’t arrived yet. I take my seat in the home town bar, all warm with open fire places and low ceilings, sitting chairs decked in red leather substitute, you know the drill. A candle on every table, the flickering light from the flame lights the faces of those enjoying their evenings above. Eight minutes, don’t be nervous. Breathe. She’s just making an entrance. Four years and she hasn’t changed a minute. I know exactly how I want to be when she walks through that heavy wooden door with it’s old fashioned latches. I turn my face away from it. I focus on the flat screen away to my right, above the TV, pride of place, football on, cover for those who seek it. I dare not tear my eyes away. I’m lost in the green of the pitch, allowing myself only to look at the clock on the screen to determine just how long she’s going to make me wait. I go so long without blinking that the pitch blends with the players and the whole room starts to match.

The second she walks in I know it’s her. Even though she’s out of site, even though she’s had four years to change, I know. She sits in spare chair out of my eye line and I can feel her eyes on me. Searching me out. Trying to see something, anything that she can pin something, anything too. “You’re late.” I say, with my eyes not leaving the screen, cool as a fucking cucumber, ice in my veins, I may as well have been James fucking Bond in that moment. She stutters on it, I can hear her think, ten seconds in and I’ve countered her first jab. In that moment I’m Jack fucking Dempsey. “Normal people say ‘hello’ to people they haven’t seen for awhile.” And those were the opening exchanges in a conversation that has fascinated me for the last four years. In those dark moments before sleep, in those times alone and walking, those long train journeys this conversation would come up and I would wonder exactly what I’d say. I’d wonder what she’d say.  Would we be amicable? Would we bitch and snipe at each other? Would we find that thing that would remind us exactly why we got so strung out in the first place? The next few hours would hold four years of answers.

I turn to face her. If, in the moment before, I was Jack fucking Dempsey, in this moment she was Cassius fuckin’ Clay and I was left on the flat of my back on the canvas looking at the new chap. It all came back. Her eyes cut through me and left me feeling like a deer staring into headlights, dumbstruck. Her face, well, it’s her face, to me there is no higher praise, no more beautiful a set of words to describe anything on this planet. And here I am having to act like I haven’t just been laid down by a ton of bricks.

It starts how I’d imagine it to start. Each feeling the other out. Finding out the mood, the reception. Gauging nothing real and coming to no real conclusions we moved to the next station. Gloves still up. Cards still up to chests. We start cherry picking moments from the last four years. Our lives start to sound like bad advertisements, like we are trying to sell it off to the other person, to convince them that to do so would be to win this exchange. I start to wonder that maybe, just maybe, if we are still doing all this mind game shit, then maybe we aren’t meant for more, maybe that proves that we haven’t grown a day. I force myself to snap out of this, I cannot afford to think such things in the heat of battle. From their we start to let it slip. We start to laugh. We start to share the less favourable moments of the each others missed years. The mistake stories. The lovers we didn’t love. The cute moments that make personalities stand out from others. It was in that laughter I felt it. The long drawn out laughter at the end of a story about a girl I didn’t love. I remembered how I felt the last time. Not during but after. I was the alcoholic who, from the depths of his hangover, had sworn never to drink again to find his lips attached to a full beer glass days later. I tried not to let this bother me in what used to be the heat of battle, I felt the lingering feeling it might have become the heat of something else. We laugh. We drink. At the end of the night we hug and part ways and once again I’m lost in a land without closure. But tonight I ripped open a cut that I healed years ago. One it took me a while to heal the first time around.

I’d spent so much time being a gun to hire that I’d forgotten how all of this felt.

Fuck it, four more years, I’ll never drink again.

I apologies for the ticker tape style presentation of the thoughts of a former hired gun.

Simon Blake,

No Longer an Astronaut.

Work don’t mean nothing to a boy like me who’s got plenty other things to do. It’s just been something to keep my hands busy, maybe pay for a little liquor too.

March 25, 2013 § 1 Comment


Cover of the 2001 CD reissue

Cover of the 2001 CD reissue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I had money on this earth to spend I would bury it right where I stand ‘cos somethings nothing is a real cool hand, sometimes nothing is a real cool hand” – The Retrospective Soundtrack Players – Real Cool Hand. 

The first line. I just had to get past the first line. From there the page was mine. From there I could be anywhere I wanted. Click. And from there, I was away. I caught a glimpse of exactly how it felt to be young. I felt it on the skin over my heart. In the beauty of a personal joke, shared between close friends, in the dim light of a small apartment overlooking a busy road. That innocents that we were so quick to chase away only to miss like a lost lover. To miss, and lust after in a different way to the lust that had driven it into to the see. It felt like home again. Like the last few years had just been a blip, a dream, and that I was just a kid, wild eyed and in love with everything and everyone. Ready to feel. Not this shut down wreck that I have since become. Is there any coming back? I’ve come so far here. Sunk so deep. So very deep. Is redemption that simple? Not easy, by no means easy, but simple. No wait. It’s what everyone is after. Maybe I shouldn’t be so childish about this, so quick-fix. Grow up.

I have been quiet on here for a reason. I have been switched off lately. I have been working hard and stock-piling money. A pile that I use for my trip around the world in a month or two. It’s hard to write when your day is repetitive and full of the same old experiences. I’ve come to realise that. Maybe if you’re better than me, you can, but I’m not. So I have to run around to America. I’m not going to find myself. I’m not going to awaken any sense of wonderlust. I’m going because it gets me excited. I’m going because when I think about it I feel it. I feel. For the first time in ages. I feel the wind in my hair as I whistle down a New Mexico highway. I feel the hangovers in Nebraska. I feel the night starting in New York City. I feel waking up on Californian beach. And my plan is to write it. To take you along. To make you feel every mile, every road, every bar, every beach, every truck stop and every stage. I think it will be the last thing I every do. It takes me back to that scene in Adventureland. The one where the main character is sat on a hill drinking beer with his friend and discussing recent events in his life. It goes like this:

Joel: What’s the point of being a writer or an artist anyway? Herman Melville wrote fuckin’ Moby Dick, he was so poor and forgot by the time he died that in his obituary they called him Henry Melville. You know, like why bother? They’re just going to forget our fuckin’ names anyway. I heard Em went back to New York.

James Brennan: I wish it didn’t end like that, I should’ve – I don’t know.

[Beat]

James Brennan: Your Herman Melville story that – that’s bullshit.

Joel: It’s true, they called him Henry.

James Brennan: No, I mean, he wrote a seven-hundred page allegorical novel about the whaling industry. I think he was a pretty passionate guy, Joel. I hope they call me Henry when I die, too.

Joel: One can only hope

-ENDS-

Fuck. “I hope they call me Henry when I die, too.” What a fucking line. That’s writing. That’s a ten word masterpiece. That’s a thousand tattoos just waiting to happen. But that’s how I feel. And should this trip be my last. Should I been so poor and forgot by the time then a few fates would be better fitting. I wouldn’t just hope. I think I would insist upon them calling me Henry when I die, too. What a line. That’s a bit special isn’t it. It makes the hairs stand up on my neck. Maybe I’m glad that this blog isn’t a sensation just yet. Enjoy the hard times. I love you. Thank you for everything. I’m pulling myself together.

Loose cannons.

March 9, 2013 § Leave a comment


Mahmudiye (1829)

Mahmudiye (1829) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He didn’t mean to make you cry the sparks they ring and bullets fly” Neutral Milk HotelHolland 1945

I hear myself rattle. Like a loose cannon thundering out it’s damage and then recoiling to the horror of those around. All iron and thunder in the belly of some old warship, dirty faces duck and dive for cover. Every other cannon in it’s place. Following suite. Happy. Unified and united in the a joint objective. That’s how it feels sometimes. As always, the truth is a little less poetic than that. I pull myself up from the all familiar surrounding of the floor. Bottles, butts, bystanders. The usual. Sick, stale beer, dried blood. More questions than when I embarked on my quest for answers. I drift out of the debris and make my way down onto the street. Back with the normal people. Back with the sane beauty. Going to work. Not pulling runners. At times like this too often rash decisions are made. About our directions. Our place in life. Our friends and our lovers. I’m sober now. I’m easier. I still feel all of it though. Most of it. The angst. Go easy until we speak next. I hope you find what it is you are looking for and I hope, that when you find it, it is as good as you’d hoped.

Whatever the fate of the loose cannon, be it nestled deep in hull of a ship it sunk itself or tamed and strapped back into line with the others, I know that, in that moment, it felt good to iron and thunder. It felt good to be loud and out of control. It felt good to break rank even if it was a moment of madness and potential selfish destruction of my immediate environment.

It felt good to be a loose cannon, but loose cannons are always tied down in the end. That, or they sink the ship.

That’s the story I’m sticking too.

Simon Blake,

No Longer an Astronaut.

I was living in Devil town.

March 6, 2013 § 1 Comment


Bright Eyes at Oxford Brookes

Bright Eyes at Oxford Brookes (Photo credit: jamesgrayking)

Anchor men spike their blood, wear masks of mud, cucumbers cut to fit their eyes so know would know how tired they’ve grown of talkin’ and tellin’ their lies.” – Trees get wheeled away – Bright Eyes

My hope is past and present but it’s place in the future is uncertain. At the moment, however, it is stead fast and strong and invested solely in the hope that the words will set me free. It’s the hope that kills you, you know? I read in the paper that the pessimists will out live us all. Their punishment for the lack of hope? More of the same. This one is bleeding out a little more morbid than the rest. Public life is staying in character, private life is letting yourself slip only as far as you can get away with. I’ve been looking for someone to light me up. Someone to burn the proof of the things that I’ve done. That’s me tonight. I stare at the floor of her North London flat. The noises around me rattle around and I wonder how I came to this. They say all roads lead to Rome, if that’s true I must still be on my journey. Or maybe it’s because I didn’t take the road. No road, no rail, but roads in a wood, the past less traveled was mine. No difference was mine. Oh poetry, there’s a beauty in you. It isn’t in the word play or the exclusive nature of you. It’s in the sadness. It’s that look in the poets eye that makes you think that maybe, just maybe, he or she might go home, and take their final steps, just to prove that all along, they meant it. I drift between notes. Those notes that hang in our brains to remind us of the tasks that we are taking this week. I try and focus a little less on the poets fate. That way I don’t narrow my choices and my aim and leave myself with a little more. I get a little sad sometimes. Have you noticed? Of course you have. Any regular reader should. Would. Shares that mood. It’s not Hollywood sad. It’s not bubblegum sad. It’s not childish sad. It’s poet sad. It’s the dull dragging sensation. It’s the lost school sad but without the desperation. It’s the apathetic disapproval of my life. It’s dangerous. There is no more cruel feeling than apathy. Hate show feeling. A caring as to what happens to something. Apathy is too cold to care. I wonder how I slipped to this. When I lost my ambition. When I lost it. How I lost it. How I can flutter between bouts of happiness and low low low. Books don’t help. That passive frustration seeks in along with the lost loneliness. Fuck. This isn’t how this ends. I’m sure of that. I know, grow up, it’s not so up and down, some people have real problems. Some people have real problems. “Once bitten twice shy” echo’s a boys voice in a memory from the night before. An unexpected burst of poetic reasoning. There’s hope. I wondered if it was a distant diagnosis from a very talented person. Fuck. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be like this. It’s just sometimes, I feel that should I put my feelings on here then they will have a place to be, a place other than inside my head. A place to sit. A place to dream. A place to be more than just bitter. A place to change. Maybe one day people will read this. One day they will have a look. I hope that they don’t ever find cause to comment at least I was sincere. At least I meant it. I hide it well. I always hid it well. We always do.

Hot coffee or scented pillow? I don’t know yet I just know that I’ve been told too strive for understanding over being understood.

Simon Blake,

No Longer an Astronaut.

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