Found Poetry/Un-creative Writing

The following poems have been sculpted from existing pieces of literature that are out of copyright. The idea is to take an extract of writing and to find connections between words that stand out, or make something new on their own. The first poem was found in Bartleby, The Scrivener by Herman Melville and the second found in Carmilla, by Sheridan le Fanu. As always, any comments are extremely appreciated.

Averse to Business

He was too energetic.
Flighty recklessness,
Dipping his pen
In the afternoon.
Augmented blazonry,
As if cannel coal,
Impatiently split them into pieces
In a most indecorous manner.
Nevertheless,
The quickest steadiest creature,
Not easy to be matched,
Remonstrated with him

The Figure

Deformity;
Smiling from ear to ear.
Monsters used to make my father laugh.

Compounded of parts,
He began to howl dismally.

Then,
In the midst of the courtyard,
His fiddle under his arm,
He gabbled,

“They are dying of it!
You may laugh.
I can answer for myself”

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The 50 Word Short Story Exercise

– Exactly what it sounds like! We were challenged to write a story with exactly fifty words, not including the title. Apologies for the content, the final line was based on an actual quote I felt had to be used in my writing somewhere!

Short Sighted

Adam kicked it hard in his frustration. Now it was dead, he felt bad. He picked it up and placed in its usual sunshine spot on top of the wheelie bin.

A man walked past with his daughter.

“Look Daddy” she said, “Someone’s thrown away a perfectly good cat.”

The Process Of Writing and Esperance

Here is an excerpt of something I may turn into a full length short story in time. I would just like to ask that any of you that know me do not take on board any of my writing as my own personal opinions. It is impossible for these pieces to be contextualised within my own life as they are not designed to be read in this way. I draw on some of my life experiences but my goal is to create stand alone literature and that means that my own emotions and feelings about a particular event are not the core issue. Therefore, the journey described below and the anxieties portrayed by the speaker have absolutely no correlation with how I experienced this incredible trip!

This excerpt was written under the instruction that it was to start and finish with a whole sentence, it must be on the subject of a journey and be written in a similar style to The London Underground Orbital. As always, your input is greatly appreciated.

Esperance

When you’re going to Esperance, it is wise to fill up the tank before departing. The place itself is named after the Italian word for hope; as in, I hope we get there. What you’re looking at is four hours into nowhere and then another four back into somewhere again. At least, thats what you hope.

On the road. Leaving Perth city. Transitioning into the outback bushland. It’s not gradual. Junction sign, no livestock on the highway sign, kangaroos next 200km sign, then dust, then straight. Trees, spiky shrubs, more dust. Then redder dust. More straight.

The roads are curved like an upside down meniscus and become a point in the distance. Sometimes, if you are lucky, the road segregates itself the way a kindergartener draws a christmas tree. Tiny waves, then bigger ones, only dustier. The dust is getting redder still. I spy with my little eye, something beginning with dust. Everything? Exactly. The car, unlike outside, is filled with icy air. I can still feel my face burning though, even through the windscreen and the standard Aussie brew factor 50+. I put on my hat inside the car. Proceed like a disguised criminal along the straight road. Esperance, as in, I hope we don’t die going to Esperance. No one would notice a criminal driving out here though. Pot holes. Mine holes. They say if you want to kill someone out here you should throw them down a mine hole. No one would ever know. No one would ever find them. Wombats next 20km. How do they know?

Little wooden crosses. Fake flowers. They’d melt. That New Year’s Eve disaster with the fire trucks and the TV news bulletin. Men roasted alive. Feel sick now. Coincidental fire risk sign. Extreme. One down from disaster. Big difference. Esperance. The dust is very red. There’s a bend coming up. Sign for petrol station in 120km. We could buy road kill jerky made from those who didn’t make it.

You know if you licked it, it would be salty. The road I mean. Or the air. Dusty, salty and red. You probably wouldn’t though. Its not unreasonable however as in this heat I am probably salty too. Inconspicuously lick back of hand. Yep. Flood risk? Where’s the water? Not here in January. Salt lake instead. Harder. Like a pink glittery ice skating rink. Pink from the dust. I don’t think salt can kill you at least. High blood pressure eventually. Not just from looking though. Did you know there are whole communities living out here? You can trade old furniture for gold. Seriously. Whole communities with a mountain of gold but no furniture. What do you even call that? Road train sign. More straight. Dust is less red. Koalas next 25km sign…only joking, this is Western Australia, still.

Bon Jovi playing through the one working speaker was timed for exactly four hours in. That means we’re going somewhere again. If we get there, to Esperance, it will all be worth it. We will see the whitest, crispiest sand, the purest sea imaginable and then, we will probably see sharks. Esperance, as in; I hope we don’t get eaten in Esperance.

Mr Curtis

It’s about time that someone made iPoet, don’t you think?
An app where you can dangle your worm in the water,
And if you get a little tickle, you have to try and land it!
I remember the time my granddaughter shook hands
With Michael Morpurgo in the green room.
Do you know who he’s married to?
Anyway, there was another time I went to this old bar;
All the names of the RAF pilots were burned into the ceiling.
If you don’t write about war, what are you really writing about?
Then I remember watching him in the remembrance garden
He was forcing sand into the name because it creates a clearer picture.
You have to deal with people killing each other or you aren’t dealing at all.
Those young men,
They died in the sunshine,
Never talking about what they’d seen,
Literally too pissed to know what had hit them.
You have to take note of this, like the council house letter to John.
The only hole in one I ever got was ironically on Valentines Day.
Witnessed only by a buzzard.
Back at the golf club bar I bought a round of drinks
For some of the most boring shits I’ve ever met.
He said things like, “Iambic Pentameter can be fun”
Then he rolled the binder across the wooden desk with two hands.
“Use your eyes and ears” he sang.
Then told us about the time he went to a funeral and was served prawns.
“They were huge prawns and stuffed too!”
Imagine it, you couldn’t make this up!
Never mind the Pricketeers!”
Sometimes I wonder should I really have written “sit tight on the stool?!”
Horowtiz is good though.
I recently learnt what it means to choose a peg and which peg is best.
So no-one gets shot or shoots anyone else.
The birds however, they don’t get a choice.
Only, why do the upper classes never turn on their heating?
I tell people, “Poetry is like basket weaving underwater;
I only have to sit at my typewriter until my brow bleeds.”
Remember, people were sent to war to paint!
‘Soup’ should have won.
Smell is always overlooked.
Everyone needs to be finished off somewhere.
Lastly there was the lady who couldn’t write it for herself,
About the baby on the platform, so I did it.
“It’s your duty to do it, to write it down and document it.”
Did you ever see a possum?
Fluffy-fickle, heavy-handed, sneaky-sniffling Aussie.

I Used To Know Things

He was sure he had only taken two, but then when he hadn’t been able to find the other one he started to seriously question himself. It was only 9.17am and already his head had begun pounding. He needed coffee.

He shrugged off his jacket at his desk hoping no-one had seen him walk in late. Taking purposeful steps, head down, he navigated the clinical cubicles towards the coffee room, unsure if the air conditioning’s objective was to actually succeed in penetrating his skin. He remembered the sensation of the carpet against his cheek and he flushed a little in shame. It was no wonder he was feeling a little tender.

As the coffee bar appeared in front of him he overenthusiastically doused the nearest cheap white mug with black coffee before haphazardly tearing at two sugar packets with his teeth and emptying the contents into the swirling liquid.

“See you at four Ethan”, her voice broke the mechanical silence and Ethan’s arm noticeably jolted.

“Didn’t see you there Ange, yeah, see you at four” he smiled as convincingly as he could muster.

His attention back on his coffee, he nearly missed the raindrop sized splashes of syrupy sludge he’d left behind. He quickly dabbed at them with a napkin and headed back to his desk. His desk chair felt like sinking into a bottomless marshmallow and for a second he wondered if he would be able to escape its seductive charms long enough to even pretend to look productive. Snapping himself out of this most recent wave of impending stupor, he grabbed at a stack of paperwork and began sifting through it, placing it into three loosely organised piles. Then he turned on the Mac and stared into the screensaver that had never seemed so accusatory until now. He remembered the trip down to the Norfolk broads last year and exhaled over the snapshot of happiness they had once had. It’s not that they weren’t unhappy or not even not happy, or whatever…his brain slowed. That smile was a good part of the reason things were this hard anyway. He stared harder until the picture became pixelated and increasingly unfamiliar.

“This is not my life”, he whispered under his breath.

Logging in he opened up his email server and immediately noticed a message from Gavin Wright; a client he had ensured he would get back to the previous day. This really wasn’t like him. His hands were already moist and his fingertips smeared over the keyboard as he made an erratic reply, as if the extra few seconds saved made any difference at all.

Hi Gavin,

My most sincere apologies for the late reply. I can assure you the time has been put to good use and we are now in the final stages of composing the advertising package, tailored specifically to your individual business requirements. I can have the finished draft ready for your perusal by tomorrow. Are you able to meet after 5pm?

Kind Regards,

Ethan Boyle

Advertising and Marketing Officer
EUG Marketing Pty Ltd.
0845 300 extn – 4783
The contents of this message are intended for the addressee only.

There was an audible and onomatopoeic ‘snap’ from the keyboard as he hit send.

“Fuck”, he flinched. He hadn’t meant to speak aloud.

He would have to reschedule date night with Anna. After 5 years of living with her she’d only recently introduced date night to try and “make things more spontaneous again”. He wasn’t quite sure how that worked, considering the whole point of date night was to schedule time together at the same time every single week, it seemed a little bit backwards in its logic. Then again, what did he really know anyway, anymore, ever. It didn’t really take a giant leap of his imagination to process how things had got that bad last night. The pressure was obviously getting to him more than he had realised though. His eyes glazed.

​He had laid there last night on the living room floor not knowing if he was going to be sick or explode instead. He had counted his breaths; one, two, three, heart racing at four times the pace, five six, seven, he vomited. He squeezed the Mont Blanc pen she’d bought him in his hand and tried to bring himself back into reality; back to the office. It’s OK to feel like it’s a chore having sex with your wife right? His breathing quickened again…

You can’t breathe when you’re sick like that…there’s nothing. Just an expanding space where anticipation is the only existence and all you can do is wait for relief, or worse.

He opened up a word document.

“Sort your head out Eth. Now.” He badgered himself.

He typed one finger at a time. T,o,space,w,h,o,m,space,i,t,space,m,a,y…

And then, from nowhere: Eight, nine, ten. He remembered how his senses had intertwined. It’s not possible to feel the sound of your own vomit is it? He’d sat with his shoes brushing that carpet drinking tea with Anna and Jas many times before. That had been the first time he’d really seen it though. Understood it. Felt it breathing with him, slowly though as if to soothe him, in, out, back and forth like a wave.

He’d seen the flecks of grey in the beige and felt the warmth of the shag pile, this time under his fingers. He relived the moment he had seen himself take two squashy fistfuls of wool blend into his hands and pull them up over his head like stretchy putty.

“Hello”, the carpet had said, “It’s been a while.”

He slammed his fist into the desk.

“You OK Ethan?” Jared in the next office space had his head cocked over the dividing partition like an obedient spaniel. Ethan thought he might just throw up.

“Fine!” he retorted a little too sharply before he threw himself out of the cubicle and along the corridor towards the men’s room.

His chin safely against the cool porcelain bowl he relaxed.

“Acid reflux” he joked to himself and let himself smile a smile that was probably just a little too wide.

In The Style Of Richard Brautigan’s, Trout Fishing In America

Duck Fishing In the Brayford

I told them I needed to catch the bus so I was leaving early and then I came out here instead. It was dark already and not far away from the main university building. Usually I don’t stick around here because I am not a fan of the ducks, not the normal ducks so much, mainly the ones that look like miniature turkeys. Turkey Ducks. Ducks that have faces, like a turkey.

Anyway, I was watching one of these turkey ducks as it made its way down the edge of the shore. Through the longer strands of grass it went, stopping every now and then to peck at some hidden object, its turkey neck willy-waddling mid air. I wondered what it would feel like to have all that skin wafting about my face like a boat sail. I shook my head in time with the turkey duck. It stopped. The turkey duck looked at me like it knew I was watching and I quickly looked over my shoulder.

The next day I googled turkey duck, and found out that apparently they’re called Muscovy Ducks. Turkey duck is definitely better though, I thought. My home office was warm and as I typed I thought about how a turkey duck would type if it was able to sit at my desk. Do they have two fore-claws or three? Turkey ducks would have a problem spelling ‘pug’, it would be a stretch, unless it used its face to type too. I thought about my own typing and realised that it was rather erratic, not unlike a duck with a face of a turkey pecking around and searching for grub. Grub, for its wrinkly turkey duck face.

I caught sight of something out of the window from the corner of my eye, for a moment I panicked thinking maybe one of the turkey ducks had followed me home. Jumping up from my desk with the mouse still in my hand I wielded it over my head like a turkey duck smasher; but the offending turkey duck was only a mismatched white car with a red bonnet, stalling in the road. The driver spied me at the window and I quickly put down the mouse and opened the window.

“Sorry!” I shouted down ” I thought you were a Muscovy duck!” I said, using the proper name.

He wound down his window. “Oh” he said, “I’m not”.

“Good” I replied.

Then he drove his turkey duck car away.

Writing On Demand

Today’s writing seminar included reading “The Singing” by Jon McGregor. The discussion surrounded the emotion that was evoked by the geography of the setting. To this end, we were asked to write a short similar sized piece in the same style. We were given a location by picking a random street on Google Maps and we had 15 minutes to complete the task. This is the unedited extract that came from this exercise.

I’m not allowed to make any noise. I did once. I won’t do it again. When he comes to make the delivery of things I’m not supposed to know about, I lay here, still. Watching. I lay down by the small flat window, not too close, but close enough that I can hear his footsteps on the concrete paving outside. Then I peer at his face through the net curtains. He looks like the criminals in those tv documentaries I remember seeing as a child; nothing but a blurred out stranger who has committed only ‘alleged crimes’. I still look though. Every second day when he arrives with the sack over his shoulder. I haven’t seen a new face in over two years now, at least I think that’s right. Its become a sort of game for me. I sometimes dream about what colour his eyes are or if his skin is wrinkled or smooth. I hear his voice sometimes, he sounds a little wrinkled, not too much, probably around my dad’s age. In the summer he came without his hat on, his hair is mousy, or maybe it was dark and is now greying.

I hold my breath as he walks up the steps. I know it makes no difference when I think about it, but its become habit and this way I can hear his voice. They laugh, they never use names, it is always over in under ten seconds. It’s like how you tell the day is over when the night comes, only he comes in two’s. It’s the marker, what I have to reach for next. Like a survival instinct I suppose.

There will be 48 hours before this happens again. This used to be when the tears would come, but that stopped happening quite a while ago. I hear them moving downstairs and him, going out to organise the delivery into the garage. I know its him; the only disruption in all this quiet. This is always the moment when I am most fearful. I think about the street and can’t remember if it bends to the left or right, I tense. Im most afraid now, not because of what is coming next, but because I know its only her downstairs and worse still, I know that if I’m ever to leave that now would be the only chance I’d ever get. Like clockwork, every second day, Im afraid because I never know if this time I’m going to try to run.