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Can I be the coffee stain on your desk

A ring of carelessness now sunk in.

Or the mug you chipped when you washed it up

And sucked your teeth and squinted

Then put it on the rack all the same,

Because it only made it more your cup.

By becoming less, it became more.

More than the sum of its parts.

 

Or perhaps I could be the watermarks

Wrinkling the pages of your book, from

When you were too impatient to wait

And took it into the bath with you.

It got a frown and a hasty blot

And that was deemed enough. Because

All it really meant was it was loved.

You didn’t want to be apart.

 

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I want to know if you think of me

When the rain it drums outside.

Because I’m sitting here all alone

And I have nothing to hide.

But then when I am with you I stop

And stare and stutter, retreat.

Then, I can’t get the words out.

But now, you see, I can’t sleep.

 

So I sit and I think all about you

You’re a wave, a wondrous lake

But I’m drowning and drowning, I’m not sure

If much more of this I can take.

I could though, I could hold it all

Bear it stoic, through and through.

If only I knew when the rain drums outside

You’re thinking of me too.

I wrote in vacuum, blank to the race

Penelope’s loom that sets her own pace.

But now I hear you’re writing too.

Envy spurs me, the heel of your shoe.

I know you’ll steal these words from me

As you congeal my vocabulary

I’ll be washed up, lonely, left with the dredge

Boring, predictable, meat and two veg.

 

Or maybe it’s an image you’ll get to first

Burn it on retinas of all who thirst

For something new, like fresh green lettuce,

While I peddle yesterday’s fish gone fetid.

And once they’re tainted by your tongue

That’s over, finished, yes you’ve won

I’ll have to capitulate, surrender, renege.

Bow down, lose the encore, go backstage.

 

So I mourn the broken phrases and stanzas you’ve robbed

Clutching at remains, hand stump, as it throbs

Because that’s what you’ve done, taken my fingers

Slowly and deliberately, blunt safety scissors.

It’s rivalry, battle, we can’t coalesce

Purgatory, be damned if I acquiesce

So I won’t. I’ll use it, fuel for my tank

Grasp at the helm, wrench away from the bank

So leech me leech while I’m still in the shallow

Knowing you’re about just gives me more ammo

And I’ll write full of hatred and realise then

All this time, really, you’ve been my best friend.

 

 

  

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There’s always too much green. Green grass, green trees. Bushes. Shrubs. The eternal creativity of nature, and it could only manage one colour for the majority of its foliage. Look at the colours it gave butterflies, birds, and all the leaves got was green. I guess rhubarb got lucky. They still loved it though, those two kids. A whole summer I looked after them, but I still can’t remember their names. I want to call the boy Charlie. But then I probably want to call all boys Charlie. I managed to keep this photo of them though, all tucked away at the bottom of my drawer. Moving house unearths so many treasures. Or trash. It’s amazing how many pencil sharpeners one can amass over the years.

They lived pretty far out in the countryside, that’s what I do remember. Well, the picture’s a clue. If only I had got them to wear large name badges. Tattoed them on their foreheads. The mother would have been so pleased. That was the last summer I was there, too. I don’t know whether they missed me. Probably not, I didn’t miss them. I was mainly doing it for the sense of community camaraderie; that mythical thing all the elderly insist was there back in the day, but really what they mean is now they’re old enough to benefit it should be further enforced. I didn’t mind helping out though, I’d been sentenced to a summer with my grandmother before, I knew what it was like. At least if I took them out, and all they could see was green, it was a break from the old style broderie and wallpaper of musty flowers that plagued that house, all feeble brown and acrid yellow. Pinks that looked like they were about to fall off the wall and crawl under the skirting board to die in peace, the sartorial equivalent of lumpy custard. Kids have got to have their vegetables, isn’t that what everyone’s always saying?

Charlie – yes, I’m going to call him Charlie – he used to carry around a train wherever he went. It was from the show ‘Thomas the Tank-Engine’. It wasn’t Thomas, though. That was very Charlie. He never went for the obvious, he was always slightly off-kilter. If the show was all about a blue train named Thomas, he wanted the runner-up sidekick, the next in line, the Percy. Isn’t that funny, I can remember the train he carried around but not his own name. But then I suppose Percy was about all the identity the kid had, the second-born, the next in line. Charlie could wait, he knew he could, he was destined for greatness, he didn’t need ice-cream now. He could own the factory, give him enough time. The girl was different; elder, immediate; demanding. Thomas. Though you could see her younger brother had an effect on her. Looking after him, she began to see life wasn’t all cutting down cotton fields to make clothes, sometimes you had to wait for the seed to grow. Patience. It wasn’t her middle name, but it was the word she heard most often.

They must be pretty old now. They can probably drive to their own wide, open spaces. Find which coat is there’s even without a nametag on it. Maybe they’re into drink, into trouble. Vices everywhere. But in my mind, I like to keep them how they were, look at them and think they are still young. Fresh. Green. There’s never enough green.

Arty Snail

This snail. He is just too cool.

‘I will make move, think and act, at my will this theatre of automatons whose strings I hold.’

Victor Fournel, 1858, professional flâneur

*Disclaimer: I am using the images for research and education purposes and not for profit. If however they do breach copyright please let me know and I will remove them. Thanks.*

Now, for anyone who lives around Dulwich, these pictures will not be new. Assuming you have some level of awareness as you walk around, you will have seen these pictures. But nevertheless I want to share them with the wider world because a), I think they are great. I really appreciate them as pictures in their own right. And b) I especially love them in the context that they are in; literally on the side of the road. Graffiti is controversial in terms of whether people as a whole appreciate it as ‘art’ or not, and appreciate its presence full stop, but I don’t think any such arguments can be imposed on the following pieces of art, because all they do is brighten up the place and give it some real character.

First, an artist called Stik. He was commissioned by the Dulwich Picture Gallery to adapt famous paintings into his own iconic style, one that particularly seems reminiscent to me of the Cyanide and Happiness comics. The two immediately below are adaptations of Gainsborough’s ‘Mrs Elizabeth Moody with her sons Samuel and Thomas’, the archetypal brief painting title, and ‘Couple in a Landscape.’

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This next one is the one I am most familiar with, because it is on the corner of Townley and Beauval Road, so I walk past it all the time. It is an interpretation of Pieter Coecke van Aelst’s (what a name) Adam and Eve, depicting the moment Eve tempts Adam with the apple. The apple has sadly now disappeared, it lasted a year (which is pretty good going, both for being an apple and for being a removable part of an art installation) but the painting is still easily recognisable, and I quite like the added need for imagination. It has been noted that despite having simply sticks for arms and legs, and no attempt at noses or mouths at all, the figures are able to portray an exceptional amount of emotion. Art at its most simple, and, simultaneously, complex.

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And finally, Alfred Hitchcock. I’ve tried and tried to find who did this, but all I could find was ‘AP’. Don’t sue me please. The bottle of ketchup at his feet, combined of course with the knife in his hand, is a nod to ‘Psycho’, despite a brand of chocolate sauce being used as blood in the famous shower scene. I particularly like that his head is not defined, and blends into the white background. The detail on his shirt, you can see the creases, the shine on his shoe, the subtle glimmer of the knife; the whole effect is incredible. This has to be my favourite.

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