Category Archives: original writing

The end of the line

It slips from your fingers, abandoned like flotsam on the deck.

I daren’t look down. Your skin.

It’s warm, and salty, and smells of promise.

Soon it will be dark.

The tip of my tongue. The sweet muskiness of you. The air cooling on my naked arms,

sweet, crisp and cold.

Anything is possible, and I dare not

take my eye from the telescope.

The faintest scent of wildfire, barely discernible.

And from the desert

the distant sound of gunfire.

 

An exercise in creative writing, using the senses, that yielded a surprising result. Part of my portfolio for my BA in English.

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Little Blue Angels

I dreamed I was dying.

My mother lay across me

crushing my chest,

studying my eyes with interest

as I watched the little blue angels

fly out of my mouth.

Stretching carbon fiber wings,

gaining altitude,

swept up on my last. Gasp. Then.

‘Breathe,’ she said.

And so I did.

Shifting her dead weight,

she put her lips close to my ear,

and with a soft breath, whispered.

‘That’ll teach you to have mommy issues,’ she said.

‘The Pelican Tree and other poems’ by Marnie Devereux is now available from Amazon, worldwide!

New book: The Pelican Tree and other poems – out today!

Whoop! Whoop! My new book The Pelican Tree and other poems is out today, available to order from your local bookstore, or worldwide from Amazon.

Featuring illustrations by Prescott artist Lisa Hendrickson, The Pelican Tree contains an eclectic selection of poetry covering topics from Einstein and Matisse, to the delights of aging and sardines…

Here’s a rather complimentary review:

Devereux’s poems and Hendrickson’s artwork speak musically together to enthuse and inspire us to imagine the best within ourselves … You can never close the cover on The Pelican Tree nor put it to roost on the shelf with the rest of your old favorites; rather, it will ring euphoniously in your ears like the final cadence of a symphony, playing on and on, long after the orchestra has packed and gone home for the evening…

 – Alan Malnar, author of Voices of the Headland 

Solar Eclipse

Time, suspended. In gathering stillness

we breathe, and the pregnant air

hushes our expectations.

Night is come, mid-morning,

lulling the birds to sleep

and we wait

we wait

Time suspended

then huffed away on an ancient breeze

old as the universe

cool as the ocean’s deep.

USA 2017

Sidestep, sidestep, the liars’ gavotte

Gag the press and burn the lot

 

Buy the media, make them pay

Big the small man, make his day

Lay the pipeline, dig the mine

Build the wall and toe the line

 

See the future, it’s so bright

Jesus loves you if you’re white

Honor the flag and do your duty

Cry for us, American Beauty

 

Be a man, be unforgiving

Save the unborn, kill the living

Jail the immigrant, bash the gay

Mock the cripple, it’s okay

 

Shoot the black man, cross the street

Hammer the nail through the martyr’s feet

Fake the figures, tell the lie

Live the dream, American Pie

 

Liberty weeps while rich men rule

Line your pockets, play the fool

Silence the speakers, feed them bread

Bring on the circus, turn your head

 

Burn the native, take his land

Starve the child, twist the hand

Chain the woman, hear her scream

Wave bye-bye, American Dream

 

Sidestep, sidestep, the liars’ gavotte,

Gag the press and burn the lot

The Cabinet of Curiosities

Constructed of rosewood and dovetail, the Cabinet of Curiosities waits, gathering dust, for the watcher’s introspection. Rimed with silver, mother-of-pearl; a hinge that squeals when woken. Upon each sanded shelf my treasures lie. Mermaid’s purse and sea-glass from Lyme, an urchin, greedily plucked from an aquamarine Cretan seabed; free-diving, naked, off a deserted cove. And from a purple evening’s strandline at Cayucos, a fossilized sea-potato. But it is not solely objects that my cabinet holds. It cat-cradles my memories, as if balanced in a child’s playground game.

That rock-nestled urchin found whilst free-diving, naked, off a deserted cove; the sun bleaching our hair; warm ocean lapping at our skin like a thirsty lover; fish nibbling our toes.

The mermaid’s purse and sea-glass from mid-separation treks around the Dorset coast, the finder finding solace in the crash of waves.

A turquoise-banded bear fetish, the gift of a druid, for guidance. A wooden, jointed hare, a child’s toy from my father’s time, a century ago; reminder of a harsher life, when possessions were few.

A seashell from Orkney, found when I was fourteen, a relic treasured by a half-damaged girl in the years before it all came crashing down.

A California road-trip, passing places I thought I’d never see again; a lost child who I probably never will. His intricately-folded origami crane pierces my heart with happier times before love drove him away.

And my Cabinet of Curiosities, itself no more than a memory, mellowing those rememberings in a box in a room in a house five thousand miles away. For I have a new home now. And a new promise. I shall furnish a new Cabinet of Curiosities with New World memories, findings from desert and ocean, of exploration and learning, of forgiveness, of growing, and love.

 

Notes from a Broad: a ticket to Paradise. March 2016

I inadvertently do things which seem normal to me but which immediately mark me out as being different. Today I walk to the supermarket. In a culture where the car is King, this in itself is sufficient to cause people to stare. The only other pedestrian is Safeway’s resident beggar. Every supermarket in town has them. Usually a disabled veteran with no Federal benefits, or a young, haggard Hispanic woman, old before her time. More often than not a small child or a dehydrated dog features in the tableau. It occurs to me, rather ironically, that they are more a part of this society than I am; my visa is expired and I have no legal status in this country until the Department of Homeland Security decides to grant me residency. I am not allowed to leave the country until this process is complete; I am a stateless immigrant.

I am gradually getting used to the differences between American supermarkets and those in England. American stores are more reminiscent of the English grocery shops I remember from my early childhood, in the days when self-service was still a novelty. Food is more expensive, and the concept of the ‘value’ brand and fifty varieties of baked bean has not yet arrived. The jars of ‘Pigs’ Feet’ and piles of fresh cactus hold no fear for me. Potatoes are carefully arranged individually on display, as if they are rare fruits, which I suppose is what they are here. They are expensive, and of poor quality. The desert is not good arable country, and anything requiring a large amount of water to grow is a luxury item.

As I pay for my goods, Angie on the checkout offers me a third carrier bag which I refuse, explaining that I have to carry the shopping as I’m on foot. She looks at me as though she doesn’t quite grasp the concept. ‘You want a ticket to paradise?’ she asks. For a moment I wonder if Angie is going to turn out to be some kind of checkout evangelist, but it turns out she is just handing me my lottery ticket.

Being English and coming from a very rainy part of the country I am used to hurrying everywhere, coat buttoned to the chin and head down against the elements. The image of America I used to have in my mind was one where everyone is in a rush. That may be true in the cities, but here in the high desert, no-one hurries. It’s too hot, for a start. Today, in early March, shortly before lunchtime, it is just shy of 70 degrees, and that means a slow walk home. Arizona even has its own time zone. Imagine that in Somerset.

When I arrive home, hot and sweaty in the underwired department, I discover a note left wedged in the doorjamb, left by the Jehovah ’s Witnesses. Last time they came to the door I patiently explained that I was a Quaker and very happy with that, thank you very much. Again this prompted a look of bafflement. ‘Well, we get folks claimin’ to be all sorts of weird religions’ one of them said…the words pot and kettle sprang to mind, but I was too polite to say so. I unfold the leaflet, to find an invitation to a ‘free public event: You Will Be With Me In Paradise’. Superfluous capital letters aside, I spend a moment pondering on being with Jesus in Paradise, Paradise being apparently located at the Adult Center of Prescott on a Wednesday evening. If I attended, I was assured that I would hear ‘an explanation of how his death can benefit you and your family’. Trust the Americans to turn crucifixion into a development opportunity.

I feel brighter today, deciding to revert to good old British cooking making the most of the limited local resources. I improvise Cornish pasties with ready-made pastry cases and frozen veg. I’m not homesick exactly; there are not enough wild horses in England capable of dragging me back to the Somerset Levels, but I miss something of the familiarity of the land of my birth. So, I set about making familiar comforts: jelly with fresh Californian strawberries suspended in glorious, artificial ruby red nectar. I shall produce them from the fridge at teatime, as if by magic, and transport the two of us back to childhood Somerset. This will break all the food rules of the house, of course, this orgy of disodium phosphate and Red 40, and as I whisk it up I am almost drunk with the powdery candyfloss aroma of crystallised gelatin. I breath it in, and decide this is what Paradise smells like. It smells of red, and jelly and ice-cream, and candyfloss.