GHOST TRACKS

Paul sat on the back porch of the motel and pitched stones into the long grass that covered all the visible land between his perch and the broken fence that failed to delineate the boundary between the motel ground and the abandoned railway line beyond. He’d been stuck here for four days, now, ever since his grandfather’s funeral. Four days in a nowhere town of eight streets so far up the bum of the Western Australian wheatbelt that even the grain trains had stopped rolling through town for lack of interest. Four days with no internet, no TV, no video games, barely any phone reception, one café that closed between 1 and 4 pm and after 8pm, three books of which two were snaffled by his Mum and dad and he wasn’t allowed to read the other one because it was ‘too adult’, no kids his age, no kids of any age, no interest from his parents and worst of all, if he stopped to think about it too much—although he didn’t… couldn’t—no Granddad.

One of the best parts of writing Magrit was reading it to Luscious and the kids every evening– the book started out as a way of giving Master 11 something to look forward to each day to help him cope with the Rumination Syndrome that was destroying his life at the time.  

Now that he’s recovered, and Magrit is in print, I’ve turned my attention to a new kids’ novel. That thar is the first paragraph of Ghost Tracks, and just like last time, I’m reading it to the family as we go. 3400 words in as of tonight; there’s going to be some lovely nights curled up, finding out what happens next together.


WORLD POETRY DAY

Today is World Poetry Day, a UNESCO initiative to support linguistic diversity and promote the use of poetry to give native and endangered languages the chance to be heard within their own communities. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to highlight the lyrical beauty of poetry, and its ability to articulate an image, theme, or emotion within a compressed, heightened, narrative structure.

And to read poems. Because, frankly, poetry rocks.

So, in the interests of sharing the love, find herein attached my favourite poem, Little Johnny’s Confession, from the brilliant Mersey poet Brian Patten, from his collection of the same name.

Little Johnny’s Confession

by Brian Patten


This morning

being rather young and foolish
I borrowed a machine gun my father
had left hidden since the war, went out,
and eliminated a number of small enemies.


Since then I have not returned home.


This morning

swarms of police with tracker dogs
wander about the city
with my description printed
on their minds, asking:
‘Have you seen him?
He is seven years old,
likes Pluto, Mighty Mouse
and Biffo the Bear,
have you seen him, anywhere?’


This morning

sitting alone in a strange playground
muttering you’ve blundered, you’ve blundered
over and over to myself
I work out my next move
but cannot move.


The tracker dogs will sniff me out.
They have my lollypops.








So: what’s your favourite poem, and where can it be found?

AND ONE OF MY OWN

And, for balance, one of my own.

I started out life as a poet: my first ever sale was a poem, to a University magazine, and over the years, I’ve published at the length far too infrequently. Good poetry is hard, and I am, far too often, far too lazy to craft and mould a good poem from its initial frenzy of wordplay. I’ve sold less than a dozen over the 15 years of my professional career, which always feels like a lack on my part: I always wish I could write more, and better.

Poetry, to me, is a proving ground of vocabulary, wit, and rhythm. I hit those scales too rarely for my liking.

Working for a Greener Narrative is one of those times. It appeared in Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine issue 36, back in September 2008. Enjoy.

Working for a Greener Narrative

Every time you say you don’t believe in fairies, a fairy dies.
Therefore, by Disney’s Law of the Conservation of Narrative,
If you say you do believe in them…

I believe in fairies,

pirates, honest politicians, dinosaurs, God, atomic monsters, the division of Church and State, yetis, a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, angels, vampires, Nessie, aliens, the Green Man, terror birds, Prestor John, serial killers, the Midgard serpent, zeppelins, children as the representatives of our future, and Daleks.

But I need to find two hundred and forty nine other true believers

Before I can set up viable breeding colonies.