Enough

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Enough

A smirk
She looks onto the world
Escaped
Joy is alive in her eyes
 
The house is silent
The only light is from the lamps outside
If she runs now they’ll never find her
 
She looks at the pool of blood
No guilt comes
He had it coming
Nothing left to do but run


The Man with No Identity – Review and Interview

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The Man with No Identity – Review and Interview

Tick tick tick tick tick tick.

The sound of a clock is often cited in creative writing manuals and classes as a wonderful way to add tension.  A clock puts your characters under pressure, pushes the crucial moment to the front of your audience’s mind, is so familiar, so haunting.

The sound of a clock is nothing compared to the tension created by a Newton’s Cradle being the only sound on a stage with more props than actors.

The first sound that Edgar J Harris makes before launching into a monologue on detailing his life, his loves, his successes, his failures, is the simple ticking of a Newton’s Cradle which he smiles at enigmatically before glaring down at his audience in disdain.

Edgar J Harris is the man with no identity, the creation of local Liverpool playwright, Christopher Woodward, and an example of what can go wrong when you will do anything to have everything.

The one night show was inspired by George Bouverie Goddard’s painting The Struggle for Existence which like play is painful to look at and impossible to turn away from.  In a world of wolves where the only chance of survival is to destroy, Edgar J Harris, always referred to in full, rants about self improvement in a world that hasn’t progressed and points out that with the right information you can have anything, and everything.

Money and materials are, for Edgar, the root of all happiness.  He is better than his audience.  He is performing a role.  He is a display of money and success and, as Shakespeare said, all the world’s a stage.  He quotes the Bard’s famous monologue, taken so far away from the comedy it normally nestles in, and glances at his pocket watch, a gift from May, the love of his life, who ironically shares her name both the first month of the financial year and the beginning of summer.

May is gone and Edgar is in winter.  Time is the great enemy of all men.  His reflection is empty.  The man he sees is not the man he is.  What can he do about it now?  Surrounded by so many beautiful things, but with no identity to call his own, it seems that Edgar is irrevocably lost.

The Man with No Identity is a haunting look at one man’s struggle for existence, painfully sad and darkly funny with an ending that hits you like a brick wall.  Flawlessly performed by Bob Towers in the Casa, the show was on for one night only, but will be re-performed as part of the Liverpool Fringe Festival on 23 June.  Go see it and become lost within yourself.

Afterwards I was lucky enough to speak to Christopher Woodward about his debut show.  Follow up questions were done online:

DMD: So this is your first play.  Have you written anything else before like fiction or poetry?

CW: Never.  Never wrote until last year, when I got the dream.  So it came from a dream.

DMD: Came from a dream?

CW: Yeah.

DMD: I read in the paperwork that it’s inspired by a painting.

CW: Yeah: Bouverie Goddard’s Struggle for Existence. It’s in the Walker Art Gallery. When I had the vision of writing the play I went.  I was just wandering around the Walker Art Gallery; I like art and I came across the lovely Bouverie Goddard painting and it just spoke to me and that’s where I got the characteristics for the character.

DMD: Yeah.

CW: Yeah it’s amazing.

DMD: Yeah, I’ve done poems inspired by paintings. Are you familiar with An Experiment with an Air Pump? It’s another play inspired by a painting.

CW: No.

DMD: It’s a Newcastle play so it’s quite a nice link with the local play and the painting.

CW: Ah I see yeah.

DMD: Another parallel I noticed was Dorian Grey.

CW: Dorian Grey? Yeah, yeah, I like Dorian Grey. Oscar Wilde.

DMD: Yeah when Edgar said his reflection was empty it reminded me of him looking at the portrait.

CW: The guy who inspired me most to write was Arthur Miller. Death of a Salesmen.

DMD: View from the Bridge?

CW: View from the Bridge is fantastic.

DMD: I’ve seen on your Instagram that you’re reading Henrik Ibsen.  A Doll’s House is one of my favourite plays.  Do you prefer European or American theatre?

CW: I mainly like the American theatre like David Mamett, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams but Samuel Becket is fantastic also.  Arthur Miller is my idol.

DMD: The Man with No Identity can be seen again at the Liverpool Fringe Festival.  Is there anything else in the pipeline?

CW: Yes I’m currently working on my second play which is about the daily struggle of homelessness.

DMD: After seeing The Man with No Identity, I’m sure Christopher will do that justice!

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

GloPoWriMo: Day 9

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GloPoWriMo: Day 9

TRIGGER WARNING Please note that this post, contains information about self harm which may be triggering.

The Day 9 prompt was to write a nine-line poem.  Shakespeare’s favourite, the fourteen-line sonnet is often considered the “baseline” form of verse in English.  Recently my niece had to learn one of William’s and recite it in class, showing how vital it is still considered as an element of an education in literature.  However, Sir Edmund Spenser wrote The Faerie Queene using a nine-line form of his own devising, and poetry in other languages, particularly French, has always taken advantage of nine-line forms. Further information about writing in the nine line form is available here.  However I haven’t followed any particular form.  Instead I have written this which is (vaguely) inspired by a character in the book I am reading at the moment.  I still have about 500 pages to go before I find out if this guy has a happy ending, though I don’t think it’s going to happen.  But mental illness has become a taboo that people don’t talk about often enough or openly enough.  I hope this does the feeling of battling with yourself and hiding that battle from society justice.

Piano Keys

Behind a mask I always hide
They say I need to open up but I
Show my emotion through piano keys

Through piano keys my emotion shows
A tiny peek behind the mask for all
I need the keys to open up my thoughts
Through the keys my emotions are unlocked

Without the keys I only open up
My veins

 

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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GloPoWriMo: Day 1

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GloPoWriMo: Day 1

Yesterday was the closing night of Shakespeare: War Play which has been a ton of fun but has meant that the quantity of my writing has been a bit slower since Christmas.  Obviously it hasn’t left me tired enough because now it’s time for GloPoWriMo, which is actually one of my favourite times of the year.  Last year’s has led me to work on a themed poetry collection which will hopefully be ready for release next year, but for now, the Day 1 prompt was to write a Kay-Ryan-esque poem: with short, tight lines, rhymes interwoven throughout, maybe an animal or two, and a sharp little philosophical conclusion.  Hopefully this just about covers it.  The content was inspired by various conversations I’ve had recently about ambition, encouragement and sloths.

Slothful Determination

Watch the sloth
climb up the
tree to the top.
Slow and
steady. Higher and
higher until he’s
ready to stop.
Cough cough
interrupts your wandering
thoughts and view
of the sloth near
the top caught
between two branches.
You’ll never make
it if you don’t
learn to listen
they tell you
again.
Daily reproach.
Nod silently.
Turn around
slowly just as
the sloth
reaches the top
and smiles down
at you.
Got there
in the end.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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Living in the past, the present, the future

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Living in the past, the present, the future

Mindfulness.  It’s trendy, or so I hear.  You have to live in the moment to be truly content and mindfulness lets you do that. Or, more eloquently:

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” (Anonymous, often wrongly attributed to Lao Tzu, correctly spelled Laozi, real name Li Er – now I’m tired!)

Now, I don’t know a massive amount about mindfulness, but I’ve had my fights with the black dog and my fair share of panic.  I’ve had moments where the future looks bleak and it’s made me depressed, past experiences have left me anxious and, sometimes, the present moment has been a depressing anxiety filled place to be.  I’ve also been able to look back at my past and smile and imagine a future where I’m happy.

The Ghost of Happiness Past

Memories can be a wonderful thing, especially when they come to you at random.  I like to think we’ve all sighed when that song has come on in a bar or the scent of a bouquet takes you back to a beautiful day.  In the end, life becomes a series of memories, some bad, some good.  There will be regrets, mistakes, lessons and pain, but there will also be smiles, places, people and moments that will make the rest of it worth it.

Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing, and yearning for a life that you used to have and cannot have again could drive you to breaking point.  But experience, learning from what you have been through and knowing that you have learned from it, makes you better prepared for what is to come.

The Ghost of Happiness Present

As I said, I don’t know a lot about mindfulness, though I have been told that the “mindfulness” that is sold to 21st century folk is not the mindfulness that has been practised for thousands of years, but rather a sort of quick fix solution.  I remember it being described to me as completely living in the moment, and never focusing on an irrevocably lost past or future fantasy.  Even if you are only washing up, you should concentrate entirely on the temperature of the water, the feel of the pots in your hands, the way the dried on porridge feels when it dissolves into slime and gets stuck underneath your fingernails…  OK the last bit I made up, but the rest of it is completely true.

So, great, yeah.  Live in the moment.  Appreciate what you have in the here and now.  Don’t depress yourself by either wishing for what has gone or what is to come.  Be content.  On the surface it sounds like pretty sound advice.  I do both conscious breathing and grounding to help with my anxiety, which I guess is along the same lines and it’s definitely beneficial to pause at least once a day and appreciate where you are and what you have.

But, surely to fully appreciate the present, you need to also appreciate how the past brought you to that moment and what is going to come in the future?

The Ghost of Happiness Yet To Come

For a lot of people the scariest place of all is the future.  What if things don’t work out how you want them to?  What if something terrible is around the corner?  What if there is no tomorrow?

For other people the future can’t come soon enough.  The things they will do, the success they will have, how happy they will be.

Worrying about a future that might not happen is pointless – I know this and I do it anyway, but I’m working on it.  Living in a fantasy world and taking no action towards it is equally pointless – you cannot enjoy success in any area if you’re not willing to put in the hard work to get there.  But letting your mind wander where it will may help you notice a risk that you hadn’t noticed before or a solution to a problem that you never thought of.  People often “sleep on it” when they have an important decision to make.  This comes from letting your unconscious mind deal with something rather than overthinking it consciously.

Although I am biased when it comes to mind wandering, as most of my writing is done that way.

***

Your brain is the most powerful computer in the world.  It has the ability to store memories, interpret everything you’re sensing into a coherent present that you can see, smell, hear, touch and taste, and plan and strategise for what is to come.  Yes it may put a rose tint on your memories to protect you from pain, it may warp your view of the present by interfering with memories, foreboding or hope, and it may lose all control at times and lead you to panic or blindly hope for things that will never happen, but your mind has the ability to live in the past, the present and the future simultaneously.

Perhaps we would all be better off by appreciating the good and bad in all three by loving and learning from our experience, appreciating and enjoying the moment and looking towards the future with hope.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

The Night Before Christmas

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Twas the night before Christmas, and all on the farm
People were arguing, is it breadcake or barm
Some from the east, and some from the west
But none could decide which bread was the best

It’s very important to know by the morning
For when Christmas comes and the day begins dawning
All in our jumpers and ready to eat
We must know for sure that our sandwich is reet

So is it a muffin, a bun or a breadcake
Is it a roll, a stottie or teacake
Forget it, to the kitchen, quick as a flash
I’m having my Christmas bap with a bowl full of hash

Forget Christmas sandwiches, it’s too stressful a job
Trying to work out if my sarnie’s a cob
Now they’re all arguing ’bout the name of my brew
It’s not hash they exclaim, but a bowlful of stew

Well we call it scouse and eat it with pickle
No it’s a pottage, or soup if you’re fickle
I know what it’s called, you’re all wrong you lot
Veggie it’s a broth, with meat it’s an hot-pot

Enough of this nonsense, I’m off up to bed
To hide from you all, put down my sore head
Every single year dialect leads us to a fight
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Copyright D M Day, 2016

Put an X in the Box!

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Put an X in the Box!

It’s all getting a bit political!

Whatever happens now, this time next week, we’re going to live in a different world.  Obviously, being British, I don’t have any say in what happens over the pond, but distracting myself with poetry anyway.

Enjoy!

***

***

Put an X in the box

Put an X in the box
It’s your right to decide
In what kind of a world
You want to reside

Put an X in the box
And tell us all
Whether to the left or the right
You want to fall

Put an X in the box
You know enough now
To make this decision
Without asking how

Put an X in the box
For your sick grandmother
Your unborn children
Pick one or the other

Put an X in the box
It’s vital you do
Or who knows what will happen
To me and to you

Put an X in the box
It’s your right to a say
If you don’t pick one
We’re all going to pay

Put an X in the box
It’s your right to complain
When everything goes wrong
Again

Copyright, D M Day, 2016

A Surprise Trip

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A Surprise Trip

This is a poem I wrote for a writing group.  The prompt was the annual summer holidays, which sadly, it doesn’t look like I’m getting this year…  Still, I’ve had a couple of lovely sunny days at home (when the British weather decides to be summery for 24 hours) and I’ve also had a few productive days hiding from the rain and writing.  So it’s all good.  Now it’s coming towards the end, I hope you have all enjoyed your summer, with or without holidays at home or abroad!

Here’s to blue skies and sunshine and, most importantly, lovely summery cocktails!

A Surprise Trip

One surprise trip
For our anniversary
Thirty minutes to pack
Everything I’ll need
Three rainclouds outside
Will be lovely to get some sun
Four maxi dresses
Should be enough for days out
Eight different bikinis
String, strapless, bandeau
Two strappy pairs of heels
For cocktails on balmy evenings
Five bottles of sun lotion
And one of fake tan, just for, you know
Two passports grabbed
One front door locked
Two ears covered on the plane
One big surprise
Two people land
One big smile
One step out of the plane
Into -2 degrees, in Stockholm
One big row

Copyright, D M Day, 2016

Chained to Earth

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Heavy
That’s how they feel
Heavy, dead, numb

Useless lumps of weight
Useless lump of weight I am

No pain

I wish there was
To feel pain
To feel anything
Would be divine

Enough

I have had enough
Why didn’t I pass?
Why am I stuck here?
In this state
In this manner

Heavy useless lump of weight

Chained to earth
Anchored to life

Too heavy
Too numb
To die

Copyright, D M Day, 2015

People Will Talk

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Amanda Barrett was unhappy. So so unhappy.

She was sick of cruises through the galaxy, touring gas giants that all looked the same, she was tired of staring at identical looking meteor rocks in Tiffany’s and she’d had enough of being in this damn hotel. And most of all she was unhappy being Mrs Barrett, Dominic Barrett’s wife. Dominic Barrett, humanitarian, environmentalist, all round good guy, and millionaire. Dominic Barrett perfect husband. Amanda Barrett luckiest woman in the galaxy. If only they knew.

She heard the en-suite shower turn off and groaned. She rolled over and laid face down in the pillows before he came back into the room, perfect white towel wrapped around his perfect tanned waist. It was funny how they still used towels. Showers hadn’t contained water for about fifty years.

She heard him walking around. Dressing. He didn’t speak to her. He never did. He didn’t care for her so why would he? She heard him stop. She could feel his eyes on her, as he stood there coldly staring at her. She sighed into the pillows, knowing he would hear her, knowing he wouldn’t really care. She rolled over and sat up, the sheet falling to expose her breasts. The focus of his eyes on her face didn’t move.

‘We have to go for breakfast now’, he said, his blank stare focusing on her eyes.

‘I don’t want anything’, she mumbled. ‘I’m not hungry.’

‘We don’t want people to talk,’ he stated, sounding like he couldn’t care less either way. ‘We have to go for breakfast now. People will talk.’

She massaged her right temple with her fingertips suddenly feeling very very tired. ‘Can’t you do something!’, she snapped at him. ‘Do you have to just stand there staring at me? Can’t you just read, or watch a blu-ray, or just do something?’

He tilted his head, looking at her with perfect uncomprehending eyes. ‘Very well’, and walked over to one of the massive armchairs by the window with the view of Earth. He picked up her e-reader and stared at the screen. ‘What would you like me to read?’, he asked.

She groaned, burying her face under the bedding and wishing she’d known on her wedding day that this was how it would be.

***

It hadn’t always been this way. When she’d met Dominic he’d been enthusiastic and excited, about everything, but especially her. His eyes had followed her around the site where they were rebuilding Paris. She’d fallen in love in what had been the most romantic city in the world. She hadn’t known about the money then. That had been a surprise when he’d knelt down in the wasted street with his mother’s engagement ring, the diamond the size of a fist.

After that had followed a whirlwind of cake testing, venue choosing, and ordering custom grown, real actually grown, flowers.

Then had come the serious talk with his parents. That moment when she was told about doing things for appearances sake. We don’t want people to talk. It would never do, people talking.

She’d been miserable ever since.

***

Amanda and Dominic had been prominently placed in the dining room by the hotel staff. Hotel Luna was obviously only frequented by the higher ranking members of society but still, having Earth’s golden couple providing free advertising just by being there wouldn’t hurt.

All waiting staff were androids now, but Hotel Luna had gone one step further and had their service staff fitted with wheels so that they glided about quickly, ensuring everyone who wanted caviar, canapés and champagne had it immediately.

The hotel owner had come over to their table. Dominic was smiling enthusiastically, he was able to when he put his mind to it. He was even managing the odd laugh. The owner was relating his plans for a covered garden so people could go outside for walks. Right now the hotel was an indoor affair only, as putting spacesuits on didn’t quite click with the luxury travel people wanted around here.

Amanda noticed the waiters were beginning to bring the soup around. Thank God, she was starving after refusing to get out of bed this morning for breakfast. No-one seemed to be talking. As she’d tried to explain to him, they probably actually cared as much as he did.

The waiter stopped at their table with the huge tureen of hot tomato soup. Apparently the tomatoes were even grown from seed. He spooned it into her bowl and then leaned towards Dominic’s. He rapidly raised his hand and said ‘none for me thanks’.

‘Very well sir,’ the robot replied and wheeled away. Amanda hadn’t noticed her handbag strap sticking out from under the table.

The tureen had emptied over Dominic before she’d raised her spoon to her lips.

The owner was up in a flash. ‘You stupid idiot robot! Do you have any idea who that man is? You’re made of metal! How the hell can you be so clumsy? Artificial intelligence! Artificial stupidity more like…’

The owner trailed off as he noticed Amanda leaning over her broken smoking husband trying to hide the skin melting off his cheek. Dominic had died in a building accident in New Paris before they were married. His parents had told her that they were having an android replica made. It had to be done. They couldn’t let their fortune fall into the hands of the government so she had to marry him still and then she would inherit everything. She only had to keep up the pretence for three years at which point the estate would become legally hers and they could create another accident and mourn Dominic properly. All she had to do was smile, pretend everything was OK, and keep up appearances.

But now she was covered in soup, in a hotel on the moon, while the crowd stared at her trying to keep the skin on the metal face of her cold unloving husband.

People will talk.

Copyright, D M Day, 2014