Morning on the Beach
It's uneven where I stand, the beach, mostly.
The world sways whenever I think.
And that thought, next to me, unravelled
and twisted, quivers the world in the river.
Five or six swans cross my path.
Each, white-feathered and tired-looking,
Breakfast table-ignorant, quacking,
Dropping into the water. There is no other sound.
Only they are not swans, they are geese,
And one watches me as I pass, not saying a word.
Its feathers whiter in morning light, its holiness
Diminished with a look of mutual awareness.
If I were a swan or a goose I, too, would
Stand and stare at me. Because what else
Is there to do? The sunlight grows.
This morning magpies its jewel sunshine.
I turn to the right, the roar of wind and earth,
There is a sense of absolutely everything beyond me.
I turn my head to the left,
There is silence but the waves.
This is an untitled poem. I wrote both when I started jogging in the morning on the beach where I live. This one I used the leftover images from the previous one.
For me, when I run, I'm vacantly religious.
I don't have to think and I don't have to
live like I do when I'm slow.
Mediocre sand-colours swarm a bleak screen
Up to a point, blown like dust. A dog coughs.
When I run, I'm important elsewhere,
A mighty King of Nowhere, surrounded
By horizon, left soft overnight.
And the rocks, water-marked, breath-held
Like dead fish, present a familial presence
Somewhere. Back home, maybe.
When I run, the earth screams at me.
I love living when I don't have to think,
But I think I don't live when I love.
There is no sand so holy without me.
Back home, somewhere maybe, I am
Slow. A pregnant rat, its belly engorged
And stretched, pink and balloon-like.
She sees me and runs away,
She, too, is vacant. I see it
In her religious eyes. I see it in
Everyone I meet. Like a daydream.
I walk, most of the time, slow,
A lot less religious than I was,
And I think, perhaps, no less holy than sand.
I'm on Write Out Loud, a website that encourages performance poetry. Here's my profile: http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/michaelholloway
Here is my short story The Young Man and the Old Man which appeared on the wall of FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) which is an art house cinema in Liverpool. It was on display there earlier this year.
The actual story is here:
The Young Man and The Old Man
He got on the train and said goodbye to her. Held her in his arms as she clung to his chest, reluctant to let go. She stood and waved from the platform.
He sat down. There was an old man sitting in the seat opposite and facing him. He had white receding hair which flopped over the rest of his scalp. A huge nose. Skin rough and thick like the soles of his feet. A woman with a crying baby got off the next stop and the train went silent.
'What are you?' the old man said.
'I don't know,' the young man said. 'Yeah, something like that. Around five-nine.'
'Like me when I was your age. Tall lad. Nice girl you got. You look like me when I was your age.'
'Is that right?'
'Just think,' the old man said, 'you'll end up looking like this.' He pointed at his thick-skinned face, tobacco-coloured and wrinkled.
'I doubt it.'
'I know you do.'
'When I was your age I didn't listen.'
'When I was your age – '
'Okay,' the young man said. 'Okay. I get it.'
The train went silent once again, but for the rickety-rick of the wheels and the air whooshing in through an open window, from which a burning smell could be smelled from the factories.
'If I were you,' the old man said, 'I'd forget about myself. Just focus on her. On what you got right now. You don't matter.'
'Women are rare. Love is hard to come by.'
'You're not listening.'
'Hey,' the young man said, 'I don't know you. Why should I listen?'
'I'm just giving you some advice.'
'I don't need any.'
As the train picked up speed, the window created a pocket of air that roared like a fire, but then there was a fire outside. It was a person, burning alive as black smoke flew off her. And then they passed her by.
No one else saw her except the young man. The old man carried on giving him advice. But still the young man didn't listen. When the young man got off the train at his stop he was the only one to get off. He didn't smell any burning. Neither did anyone else.