Ocean travel without a boat

Journal of Peter Greenwell

Month: March 2015

Mervyn Peake and me (poetry)

A short free-form piece I did for uni

Merv, me old mate, there’s a darkness at the end of the library
It’s Fuchsia seconds before death, Flay with his knocking knees
Those twins with nary an expression between them
Did you really draw propaganda for the war effort?
Is the ghost of that time creeping out the darkness?
Merv, me old mate, me and Titus are heading down the freeway
There’s no life left in that old place
Damned be you that toils in the kitchen
Finding life in a crawlspace, making do with the ossified and stale
It was a signature moment in literature, Merv
Fuchsia falling from that height, the water drowning her at its leisure
The ugly girl that wasn’t ugly
She was a beauty trapped on the far side of the moon, invisible to all
You killed off all the women, Merv
Save the Countess, whom the cats could not be without
Cora and Clarice met their maker, whoever he may be
Nanny Slagg turned to dust, after a lifetime eating it
Keda, poor Keda, was that a million or a billion volts?
That darkness in the library is chasing us, Merv me old mate
You write “painterly descriptions” said one critic
Describe this darkness then, before it consumes us
Or you leave this life incomplete

My outsider (flash fiction)

This was a brief exercise I did for a uni project..

They say she’s kin with Lovecraft’s outsider. There she is, alone up on the hill, neither hag nor naiad, but ageless and deathless. At night she sings to far stars and planets, the words never distinct, but still unsettling in their clarity and her voice chilling with its unearthliness. Her music is what compels me from my bed at night. They tell me not to climb the hill – I’ll never reach her, they say. She’s like a fog that recedes if you come close, misty iridium grey too frail to thrive in the noonday sun.

Lovecraft’s outsider dwelt on the fringes and so does she. It’s like the spokes on a bicycle wheel – I’m moving from the hub to the edge along a thin and unforgiving path. Up I go, up that slope to where she sits on the rock, her eyes lifted to the sky. The path wants to defeat me. There are gullies and precipices on either side, waiting gleefully for me to misstep. The outsider hasn’t moved but she knows I’m coming. Her voice has shifted tone, changed in cadence, and now it’s almost sonorous, as though it wants me to stop and curl up asleep on this edgy path.

But I prevail. Step by step, I dodge pain and death, keeping my feet sure on the path before me. I reach the crest of the hill where she’s seated and for a moment, I’m elated. I’m like a conqueror standing over the slain, but now she beckons. I come up beside her to take a seat on that hard, unyielding rock. I have defied opinion; I have reached her and survived the challenge of the path. I sense her smile as I too turn my head to the heavens and sing.

The Church – Magician Among the Spirits

This is record number nine for The Church and it sees a semi-sort of return by Peter Koppes after he left the band a few years previously. The title is lifted from a Harry Houdini book and that’s the great wizard himself on the record cover.

So is there any legerdemain, wizardry or conjuring on this album? Yes, plenty of all three. It’s not as samey-sounding or as watery as the preceding effort, Sometime Anywhere but it’s still an acquired taste for anyone who doesn’t instantly dig what The Church do.

It commences in a deceptively straightforward manner with the measured and steady Welcome which rates among the sillier things The Church has done, then affairs moves into the rockier Comedown which was an obvious single. Beyond that, we move firmly into legerdemain and trickster/mystery land and any attempt at making a commercial record went flying away in the clouds.

Cockney Rebels’s Ritz gets the cover treatment and it rates among the most glorious things The Church have ever done. Then life itself get better with the aptly-titled Grandiose, one of the more impressive instrumentals in existence.

Beyond that, the songs get longer and more languid. There’s plenty of turns, nooks, crannies and fugitive glances as the band delve into their experimental vibe. Romany Caravan is delightful and album closer After Image is a sweet and sad little piano outing.

Where does this record sit in their impressive catalogue? It’s hard to place simply as it’s hard to categorise. It’s brilliant in places and woefully unfocussed on a lot of it. To be honest, some of the songs could’ve used a good edit as they’re allowed to waft along without aim. In fact, you might accuse the band of being self-indulgent but if you read up on the history surrounding their existence at the time of this record, facts weren’t quite so delineated.

Steve Kilbey has pretty much written this record off (according to what I’ve read) and the band re-released it later minus Ritz and added four other tracks, and called it Magician Among the Spirits and Some. And gave the cover a nice pretty bronze tinge.

A transition record between their earlier, sharper commercial records and the latter, more independent period.

magician among the spirits

Automatic writing is automatic (flash fiction)

From an exercise I did for uni.

Automatic writing? What’s wrong with manual writing, manuals about everything – sex, chemistry, geology, 5-speed Jeeps, a Jeep was a creature the US army co-opted for their vehicle. Greater vehicle, lesser vehicle, we go there, we go here, the Scarlet Pumpernickel is in the oven with the buns, the hot-cross variety, the Queen’s Command performance, Lemony Snicket in the rain, raining with Lady Gaga, Rihanna and all that jazz, driving their 5-speed Jeep down Ventura Highway in the sunshine, Darth Vader at the wheel, C3P0 his sidekick, a chunky beatnik poet in a pillion sidecar. She told me her name was Megan, loved the Lemony Snicket, lives in Equestria with my daughter and the other ponies. Megan Finnegan Begin Again, begin the beguine, dance the pavane with Keith Roberts, bring the jubilee with Ward Moore, once more into the bleach with Debbie Harry and get closer with Joy Division. It’s all fun and games in the jungle with the jeeps and bazookas, with Blue Peters and Edwige and Edgar Cayce and Ezra Pound, a pound’s worth of pennies, all automatic for the people, nightswimming? Yes, of course, it’s all near wild heaven, waxing and waning lyrical, dancing pavanes and salsas, rubbish in the tip, liquid paper in the drawer. Automatic for everyone, cheese, cabbage, bananas, whalebone corsets. Automatic!

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