Category Archives: Creative

Three ravens

I’ve been singing this song for more than twenty years, on my own. I found it in a book and while I can’t recall the title of the book, I can remember the feel of the dark blue cover in my hands. 

Recently we added it to the Ominous Folk repertoire. This was very much for the purpose of singing it at Woodchester Mansion. We are stood a matter of yards from where the ravens nest in one of the big estate trees. I sang it for them.

Tom is off to the right in this video, you can hear him…

She saw the water-lilly bloom

(A little bit of fiction that might be part of a larger project)

You are pretty sure the man who said the answer to everything is make good art had no idea what he was talking about. You make the tapestry anyway because it’s all you have, and it’s that or throw yourself out of the window. It is not enough to make the tapestry. Not enough to watch the world through a mirror and always be separate from it. But you make good art in the hopes that you’re going to figure out an answer here. As though this mess is a puzzle to be solved.

The only way to know if the curse is real is to test it. There’s a fighting chance that you are trapped here under a misconception and that all you have to do is resist and the nightmare will end. If the curse is real, that choice is death, simply.

Every day your life hangs between the window and the loom. The world you cannot be part of and the pale reflection of life you make with your own hands. It is never enough. Every day so far you’ve chosen the loom, because it is a bit like being alive, and maybe that’s as good as anything can ever be. Perhaps the answer is to learn to live within these limitations and make the best of it. You try to be grateful for what you have, for the colours and textures of threads and for the reflected view of the world. It is something. You are alive and outside your window the seasons turn and you can smell the world even if you can’t touch it.

Today is the other sort of day. The need for sun on skin, and to sink your fingers into the long, damp grasses and down into the soil itself, is so strong it hurts. The need to feel the wind touching your face. To put bare feet into the cool expanse of the river and feel the water moving against your skin. Not to be separate from the world, but to be part of it. 

Today the bigger curse is this chilly, lifeless, lonely room. Today the living death of making sad, pale imitations of dreams is too much to bear. You finally choose to leave, because this half-life that avoids the danger is no life at all and you can no longer bear it.

Is it the curse taking effect? Or is your body so weak from its long imprisoning that your legs can barely hold you up? You find a boat, and you write your name upon it in case someone finds you and wonders. The river takes you, and holds you and carries you. Above, the sky is more beautiful than you remembered, and birds fly across your line of vision, each one of them miraculous in your hungry gaze. The taste of the river is in your mouth and the sensual warmth of the wooden boat is under your fingers. Willows at the river margins, workers voices from the fields. Life embraces you. If this is the end of the story, you regret nothing.

(Based very slightly on Tennyson’s Lady Of Shalott. I was curious as to what might happen without it being about Lancelot)

Soft creatures – a poem

I would ease this heart hurt rawness

Be the doc leaf balm to your stung skin

Wrap myself softly around the soreness

In your soul. Spit, faith and relief.

That warm, animal self, the puppy lick

The purr that soothes, the paw, the fur

To nuzzle and comfort as creatures do

When sorrow is simple, easy to address.

These shoulders broad enough

To put between a person and the world,

This body a pillow in face of weariness

Places to lay your head.

Warmth for the chill in your bones,

In your spirit, skin heat to ward off

The loneliness for a little while

Sleep safe beside me.

No matter how we complicate life

In essence we are just soft creatures

In need of shelter, craving safety

Asking to be welcomed home.

How to Make Bone Soup

How To Make Bone Soup is an ebook poetry collection that can be picked up for free from my Ko-fi store. I can’t do much to help people with the greed crisis making life unaffordable in the UK, but I can and will keep giving stuff away. Do check out the other free books in my store, too.

When times are hard, the first thing to go is likely to be the leisure budget. This inevitably makes creative stuff the most precarious line of work to be in. Although honestly nothing looks secure anymore and I can’t begin to imagine how this winter is going to play out.

I’m not especially affluent in terms of income, but we’re hugely insulated by owning our small home outright. Without that, it would be challenging to make all of this work, but not being at the mercy of mortgage fluctuations or landlord greed is a massive blessing and a privilege. I owe a lot to my ancestors.

It helps a lot that I have Patreon supporters. Having a monthly income from Patreon makes it easier to spend time on creative projects. Which in turn makes it feasible for me to just give ebooks away. If you would like to be part of that, please wander this way –

One-off ko-fi donations are also much appreciated.

If you are one of the many people struggling to make ends meet right now, please help yourself to the free amusements I have on offer. There’s lots more content over on my youtube channel – as well. 

The Cold Ones – fiction

Your adoration is fascinating. How your warm, soft bodies respond to our cold, unyielding forms. We hold the perfect balance of familiar and alien. We look like you and yet we are not you, and so you are enthralled by the heady mix of beauty and horror. We are so very cold to the touch, and there is no give in us at all.

You are so moist, with your many fluids, and there are so many ways to make those liquids emerge from your soft bodies. What comes out of you is like the sea, and perhaps that makes sense. We seem dry to you, like bone or stone. You are always drawn to touch what you do not understand. We frighten you, and you love to be frightened.

Perhaps it is because of all this liquid and softness that you change so much. Your faces change moment to moment. How you stand and move alters, especially if we make the moisture come out of you. It does not seem that you can put the moisture back in, when we have finished. This is clearly a weakness and we do not understand why you have evolved this way. If too much liquid comes out, your bodies cease to function, becoming cold and hard like our own, but unlike us, you do not move when you have become properly dry.

You tell me that you love me. I can only think it means that you are happy to give your soft body as sustenance. It is, after all, the quickest way you can become like us. It makes perfect sense that you would long to be as we are. It is the only thing about you that makes any sense at all.

(Art by Dr Abbey, text by me)

Listen to the silence

We are trying not to be silent, but you insist on drowning out our voices by telling stories about us. You do not listen, because you think you know who we are and what we did and how we live.

We scream, and you pat us on the head, one by one, saying ‘Never mind, dear’ and ‘don’t make such a fuss about it, you’re being very silly.’

We aren’t real to you, and you have a hard time thinking of us as people. As people who are outside your head and your experience, and who do not feel things in the way you think we should feel.

We are not your story. 

What choice did you give us? We did not ask for any of this, and we tried to explain. We tried to make you understand. We fought the hunger until it became impossible to control it, and all the time we wondered why we were fighting so hard for your sake when you would not listen.

If you had listened, we might never have eaten you.

And it seems unfair to us that we now feel guilty about your exposed bones.

(While we’ve been doing some art/tiny flash fiction things on Facebook, this is the first more involved piece I’ve done with Dr Abbey in ages. His image, my words.)

The trouble with being a person

One of my early memories is of going to playgroup for the first time, looking at the other children there and having no idea what to make of what I was seeing. Throughout my childhood, people and social situations were scary and incomprehensible. 

Over the years I’ve put in a lot of work trying to make sense of people – as individuals, and as groups. Being a person has never come naturally to me and I mostly feel that I just don’t qualify as one. I’m currently trying to imagine a more cheering approach to this, hence the picture. I’d probably cope better with all aspects of life if I had enormous, creatury ears. 

This was based on a photo of me. Something about the lighting and my head angle combined to make me look more like my mother and great grandmother than I usually do.

Cat Blorbs

I’ve been drawing Mr Anderson as he sleeps. Black cats can be hard to photograph, they become strange dark shapes that make no sense. So I thought I’d go with that. I have to draw fairly quickly to get the outline – he moves a lot even when asleep. I’m hoping to get faster and more capable so that I can catch some of the funny things he does when awake.

It entertains me that the middle image below only makes visual sense in the context of the others. He is a puddle of darkness. Mostly liquid.

Where even is his head?

I’m learning by doing this, and I hope to improve my drawing skills a bit. In the meantime, the notion of cat blorbs amuses me, and hopefully will amuse other people too. There’s some comfort in harmless humour, I think, and cats can be good for that.

Spirits and Goddesses

These images were all drawn by me, using pencil, and without looking at any references. Partly I wanted to see how plausibly I could draw these figures without having to look at anything else. Once of them owes a lot to Neolithic Goddesses and none of them are meant to be realistic, but I did want to see what kind of bodies I can manage.

These drawings helped me think about what makes the representation of a body seem objectified, to me. I also came to the conclusion that the world has enough images of tormented, malnourished and impossible-sexualised female bodies. Probably we need more that celebrates and is rooted in joy and delight, both in terms of how the person creating the image feels about what they’re creating, and in terms of how the person is depicted.

What makes me happiest are depictions of people who are themselves happy and at home in their own skin.

Inner worlds – fiction

There are worlds inside you. 

This is the place I think of the most, even though the sun can be punishing. I know the landscape looks barren and unkind, yet there is a stark beauty here I cannot help but love. The story of this place is harsh. Terrible things happened here and we do not speak of that. What excites me is the knowledge that this is not the end of a story, but the place where dreaming begins. 

We are going to regreen this land, you and I. We will make water flow again, through the old channels that barely remember they were once rivers. When we are ready, the trees will spring up here again, and there will be lushness and beauty. 

There are worlds inside you. This world is also inside me. I feel the sand rasping in the wind. I feel the weight of the same sky. I have been burnished rock and endless desert. I remember.

In the end, we must take off this armour. We must lie down in the heat, and become the shade. Where we have merely survived, we must learn to flourish.

(art by Dr Abbey, text mine.)