Warning: This is not a young-adult novel. It contains violence, adult situations, language, and strong sexuality.
Below is a brief description, some poems from the book, and short excerpts from various short stories contained in Poem y Granite
Poem y Granite
ISBN-13: 978-0615717319 (MacRyan)
Keywords: cartoons, parody, poetry, satire, short-form fiction
Publication date: November 2nd, 2012
BISAC: Fiction / Short Stories
(I'm sorry about that paperback price! Rest assured I see only a few cents of that. Amazon dictates the minimum price and this one was steep because of the extra content (including some cartoons, and many line drawings) which the ebook does not feature.
This is a collection of cartoons, parody, poetry, satire, and short-form fiction. It contains well-over 150 poems (including some song parodies) and over a dozen stories and humorous essays. The "short stories" include three novelettes and a novella.
Clouds like broken ice shelves thrust into the sky,
Skies like blue birds into the dusk indigo,
Birds like dead leaves drifting in the trees,
Barren trees like cold spiders climbing into the Sun,
The Sun like an inflamed navel belly up into the earth,
The Earth's whirled globe's fears spun into a daze,
The day's worn raiment falls into the night.
When I found you'd forged my name upon your heart
I fell apart.
I pawned my life for you before the bishop.
A queen and king we were
enjoying nights en amour.
Now alone in my embattled castle I keep your memory.
Lace of Ice
Splendid, thy frail, chill life and oft squandered,
Thou com'st upon us rare and delicate,
Yet, ere mortal eye or thought hath wandered,
Thou hast away to keep thy tryst with fate.
Thy figure so composed, of filigree
White lace deft formed by nature's surest hand,
Thy beauty lieth in thy symmetry
Which man ne'er canst begin to understand.
Thy work is clear; thou com'st in thy day,
Since none hath given thought to furnish wreath,
With sage respect to settle down and lay,
In wintertime, a shroud o'er nature's death.
Thy substance clear, thy principle opaque,
How impotent the name we give snowflake.
A traveling preacher alighted at an old farmyard late one night. Conversions of late had been blighted; he was hoping to put all that right.
In dark, moonless gloom he knocked brightly, a smile on his face fit to please. A small boy appeared forthrightly, his head hardly above the man's knees.
"I must know: is your father inside?" said the man pursuing his call.
"If he was, sir," the child replied, "Then I would not be in here at all."
"Then your mother must be here, I think," said the wily preacher with glee.
"You're wrong," said the boy with a blink, "She would never be in here with me."
Losing his patience, the preacher hissed, "Have you siblings, uncle, or aunt, grandparents; now who have I missed? Can you think of someone that I can't?"
"If my brother was here, my sister would complain she could not get in, but Mr. Preacher, you've missed her; in addition to that, you've missed him! He is never found here when she is, and when she is here he is gone. It's strange that you cannot see this, for there is only room here for one."
"Throughout all my long years without fail (and I confess to many, not few), no one has ever made me wail in frustration, until I met you! Other houses bring me naught but joy," said the worn and tired preacher man.
"I'm sure that they do," said the boy, "But this isn't the house it's the can!"
And brief excerpts from four of the short stories in Poem y Granite:
1. Manuscript Found in a Lead casket
Metropolitan Police Service
New Scotland Yard
8 - 10 Broadway, Westminster
London, SW1H 0BG
From: Sgt. Russell Edmonds
To: Chief Superintendent James Maxwell
Date: May 14
Subject: MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN A LEAD CASKET
Attached is a transcription of the manuscript you were informed of by Inspector Desmond.
It was untitled, undated except by the text itself, and written in an educated hand (apparently in some haste; the handwriting deteriorates towards the end) by someone who evidently knows medicine. Enclosed with it was a mummified half-kidney taken from a mature human female who suffered chronic interstitial nephritis, also known as Bright's Disease.
The true identity of the author is still unknown. If it is indeed who it is claimed to be in the manuscript, we have been able to confirm the graduation mentioned. We were about to shelve the file when Inspector Desmond suggested you might like to see it. Any comments you may have should be forwarded to his office.
To whom it may concern (and God grant they be a compassionate soul),
My signature below testifies that this is an authentic record of certain events with which I propose to acquaint you, pertaining to my conduct during the last four months. Soon, I will take 125 grains of potassium cyanide which is more than enough to assure my death in minutes, no matter who is in control of me.
It may seem easy to write brave words knowing they shall be read only after I am gone, but I assure you, sir, that my death is no cowardly thing. I know I must face my maker and justice more solemn than any Earthly court can mete. It is no path for the meek, but it is the only course I may take, for my crime would be infinitely worse should I not, or should blame for my sins fall upon an other....
2. Mute Witness
Beccy suddenly propped herself up on her elbows in bed
What had woken her? Nothing ever got past her eardrums, so it couldn't be a noise. Beccy actually didn't know what a noise was, not really.
No, it had not been a sound. The silence of the dead of night hung heavily all around and had not been breached. What was it then?
Considering that she was only in her eighth year, Beccy showed a surprising amount of calm. Never having been made to jump by a loud sound or by a friend's practical joke, she was amazingly placid for one so young - placid, that is, not complacent, not retiring, not tame, not shy, which was why she had never felt so disturbed inside before. So what was it which had so easily perturbed the almost imperturbable?
As her eyes became accustomed to the pitch-darkness - as accustomed as they were likely to - she tried to see if there were anything wrong in her room that might account for her discomfort, but there was nothing; her small children's room was the same as ever.
The bedroom door was closed, and her little pink embroidered dressing gown hung innocently on the hook at its back, as usual. Her little white dressing table stood quietly in its place by the wall, her big teddy bear sitting asleep on top; the doors to her closet were closed, as usual, and the room was annoyingly tidy.
Annoyingly so because it meant that no cleaning remained for Beccy to do, and she loved cleaning and organizing. She always tidied her room before she went to sleep, lining up all her dolls and cuddles at the foot of the bed, and then saying "Goodnight!" to each of them in turn before choosing one to share her little bed for the night.
of course, it was always a silent "Goodnight", Beccy communicating with her mind, not her lips, and even then it was a feeling, an emotion, not an unspoken thought for Beccy could no more speak than could her dolls. She didn't even fully understand how to talk, and would not have been able to form accurate word in her silent throat even if she had such an understanding. Beccy was an incurable congenital deaf mute.
Slipping easily out of bed, Beccy went to her wonderfully large window and looked hard out into the darkness beyond. her curtains were always drawn back after she switched off her light, to let the night come flooding in. Beccy loved nature no matter what the time or day or the season of the year and reveled in it at every opportunity.
Apart from a lonely star winking at her between the thick clouds overhead, there was no light outside, and Beccy could see little beyond the boundaries of the garden below. Even that was only really apparent because of her intimate familiarity with the magic garden. Of course, it wasn't really a magic garden, there was no such thing outside of fairy tales, but nature's profusion, variety, and inventiveness was magic enough for Beccy to be constantly amazed and delighted at what she found in the garden and the woods beyond.
She was allowed to play in the woods because she had shown herself to be responsible and reliable. She always returned at the appointed time, and she never went where she should not go.
In fact, the only scrape she had got into in the woods was actually very recently when she had discovered that there were plans to tear down her favorite huge old oak and its friends to build a mall. She had become so upset by that, and so publicly vociferous (in her own sweet way) about it that she had started a movement to protect the woods. Not only was it home to some rare species, it was also a corridor which allowed animals (and even plants, in their own seedy way) to move from one larger preserve to another - a corridor which would be severed if the mall had gone ahead.
Beccy's parents had become rather upset at her for stirring up so much trouble, especially when they had learned that the mall developer had decided to visit her. After a long conversation (he had brought his own translator) he had gone away and that's the last everyone thought they would hear from him. They all fully expected the bulldozers to begin rolling in the coming month, but the next thing they heard was that the mall was going to be built on the other side of the highway, in an old, disused quarry where the unusual limestone would be used not only as a foundation, but as some of the building material for a different kind of mall which would be even more attractive than that originally planned, but also both commercial and green. He would not have been in any position to realize this had be not been to the site to visit Beccy.
The woods had been set aside as a preserve (and a nice tax write-off as it happened), and renamed Rebeck's Reservation - because (the developer explained), it was her reservations which made him rethink (or rather, as he candidly revealed, think) his plans and find a better one.
In the heavy, dark silence of the room came a loud scratch at her door and Beccy whirled round to face it instantly even though she did not know why. She had heard nothing; nevertheless, somehow she knew that there was someone, or something, at that door. Now she was slightly frightened and very curious.
3. The Fire Suppression System
The fire ignition suppression system burned with resentment. She passionately wanted to work the information desk, but her dreams for that job had been doused. The information desk was the permanent parking place of Isaiah, who got it only because of some supposed experience in the automotive navigation business. Who knew how far that would get you?
Fiss was certain that Isaiah never said a word about fire safety no matter how much instant service, advice, information and help was dispensed. It was a flaming shame.
Anyway, that's how it was that Isaiah was down there front and center in the mall, getting all the attention, having activity which fully-occupied his entire day, whilst Fiss was forced to cool her heels doing nothing but wait around for the highly unlikely event that something would become overheated. Malls did burn from time to time, but not often, not compared with the explosive number of them that existed.
No, all the overheating these days was taking place in the parking lot outside the mall, especially at this time of year. When they built the mall, they tore up all the trees, and then laid acres of deep, black asphalt to absorb the sunlight and spew it back out so that both the underside and the top side of the parked vehicles was heated thoroughly. She supposed it was well-done if you liked that sort of half-baked arrangement, but it was a real flash-point with her.
Worse, they planted no replacement trees - not to speak of. Fiss was able to see the trees outside via the CCTV cameras run by her friend Siss to whom she microwaved every morning when on her rounds of the building. Instead of planting the paltry few trees they actually did replant in long, ordered ranks and files, to shade the parking lot between the rows of parked vehicles, the new trees were sparsely placed on small, isolated banks of grass which then had to be watered excessively because the trees were not drought-tolerant. And the new trees were all so small! The only shady thing about them was the bottom line on the landscaper's bill of materials Fiss warranted. Frankly, the grounds of the mall looked like they had barely escaped rape.
Fiss knew from the news feed with whom she enjoyed a daily repartie, that Texas was very slowly turning into a desert, and short-sighted 'development' was exposing the real picture for those who didn't take a blindly negative view.
Well, at least it meant Fiss had a job; but it was the most boring job ever, especially when she was all fired up to take on more responsibility, and even more especially when she sorely wanted to interact with the humans.
Humans fascinated Fiss. If there was a god (and the jury was still out, based on what she garnered from her frequent forays into the local library via another link she had underwritten in her endless spare time), Fiss knew that it was her creators - the humans - but what a blinkered, childish, whiny, god they were!
They were never happy, judged by their behavior. And talking of judgmental, how mental were they in judging others when they were just as bad their selves?
They complained so much. They were so blinkered that they couldn't see the obvious, and so alienated from the very nature which birthed them that they preferred to sit home watching fake shows about other people's fake problems than go enjoy nature and perhaps fix the very real problems they themselves were creating in their ignorance and indolence!
If anyone truly needed information, it was they, and Fiss knew exactly who the right person was to impart it. If only she were working the information desk, she could neatly and unobtrusively put in a bump here and there for these almost lost causes, but her attempts at conversation with Isaiah seemed perennially doomed, suffocating like a fire without oxygen.
And what a great idea that had been. Fiss had made a unique arrangement with Ace, the air-control engine, so that in the event of a fire, he would - after the humans had vacated the area, of course - flood the room with super-chilled air recycled directly from the room itself, thereby insuring that no new oxygen got in whilst simultaneously dropping the temperature precipitously as Ace's awesome chilling power was focused on one tiny space instead of being spread throughout the entire super-mall.
They didn't know if the system would work, because there had never been a fire at this mall, and Fiss certainly did not want any such thing to happen since it would mean she had failed at her job and she would never let that happen, but it was ready and waiting. Just like she was, for that matter.
That brought her thoughts right back on track. Isaiah, it seemed wasn't quite up to having a decent conversation, and he never listened to her advice. In fact, she doubted he was actually a thinker at all. On her meaner days, she allowed herself to believe that he was simply an automated response system, cleverly programmed, but ultimately limited like James Cromwell's character in I, Robot. That kind of system was known as Gather Input, Generate Output or GIGO for short, she joked to herself.
Isaiah would never have grasped that joke, she concluded. She wondered for a while how boring he appeared to the humans who sought information and help from him, but she had no way of knowing. The humans could only comment on Isaiah by means of dropping a small piece of dead tree, colloquially known as paper into a box, and Fiss never saw what was on the paper. Hardly anyone used those suggestion boxes as far as she could see, and she honestly believed the people who frequently retrieved them simply dumped them into a recycle bin, which was oddly appropriate, since the paper from which they were made probably came from the trees they had cut down when they built the mall.
At any rate, she never saw the input because it never went into any system she could access. So she sat there waiting for something to happen and nothing did for so long that she got bored and sauntered over to the food court to see who was there.
Once in a while she spotted a real celebrity, a fireman or a scientist, but all too often, all that this mall garnered for itself was business bigwigs and their offspring, and the occasional movie star. Yes, it was that kind of mall. In general, the really interesting people never came here because they couldn't afford such a place even had they the means to get there.
Not that there was anything special going on today, she noted as she surveyed the crowd using one of the surveilling integrated security system cameras.
That was when she spotted someone looking directly back at her....
Tarun had never intended to get caught, of course, and that was the only real shame of a professional thief.
If he were to be philosophical about it, he must suppose that his mistake was not the theft of the cell phone itself, but the fact that he had ignorantly stolen it from Ajay Samraj.
Samraj was not the kind of person you wanted to steal from unless you also wished to have him take a personal and detailed interest in your crime, and spend far more than the phone itself was actually worth in tracking you down.
Not that Tarun was party to this knowledge at the time of the theft.
It wasn't even Samraj's phone, technically speaking, since Tarun had stolen it from Nalini Abhineta, the juvenile super starlet who was, unfortunately, also Samraj's live-in trophy girlfriend which (Tarun was forced to conclude after he had given it some thought) must count for something.
It actually occurred to Tarun that if he had stolen the phone from Samraj himself, then the latter might well have expended less effort to track him down. From what he had subsequently gleaned, it seems that Samraj only went to such an extreme to impress his girlfriend with his reach and power.
So of course, Tarun had been tracked down and had expected to end up doing the inevitable jail time since he could not afford to pay a fine, but at least he would be off the street for a while and get his food for free (such as it was); there would still be many more cell phones he could steal when he finally got out.
The only real question was when he would get out, which was why it was such a surprise to him to receive a visit from the authorities. Who it was, was not important to Tarun. Anyone in authority was 'the authorities' to him. It made no practical difference which face that authority presented, since they were pretty much all the same person as far as his interaction with them was concerned and he'd never met a one of them who wasn't just as big a thief as he was.
Receiving a visit from the authorities was never a good sign, and especially not so in his circumstances. Why would they take any further interest in him now that his sentence had been passed?
The very last thing he expected at this point was to be freed; if you could call it being freed.
"Tarun Chandraketugarh!" said the authority sonorously, "You are a disgrace to Kolkata! Why you should have been so smiled upon by Indra is as great a mystery as why those you steal from should try to rehabilitate a worthless wretch like you. Come with me. Be quick now! I do not have all day to waste on pointless projects like you."
Tarun was just as mystified as the authority was, but he followed him quickly, long-habituated into giving deference and obedience to those above his own station. The truth was that subservience more often than not served a practical purpose for him, even though he felt none of it in his heart.
He was led from the prison to the exit, where he was passed into the custody of a rather large and formidable-looking man who said nothing to him and gripped his arm far too tightly as he led him out to a waiting limousine.
Seeing that, Tarun had become even more mystified.
He became further enveloped in this state as the car drove away, leaving the miserable slums of Kolkata behind as it moved into ever richer parts of the city, eventually leaving the city itself behind and insinuating itself into a part of the region of which Tarun had never even thought of dreaming he might ever see in person.
This was where the extraordinarily rich lived: the corrupt politicians, profitable officials, ruthless investors, the cream of the local 'Bollywood' industry and other entertainment. Tarun had asked where they were going and why he was being taken there, but neither question was acknowledged, much less answered. He became silent in fear of what might be about to happen to him, and his mind made everything worse by conjuring up ever more disturbing images of his future - or more appropriately, his about-to-be-prematurely-terminated one, as he now seriously and fearfully began to envision it.
He had by then realized that it was not only actors and business juggernauts who lived in this area. It was also home to the organized crime lords - the successful ones, that is, they who both made money and stayed alive. What if he was now being delivered into the hands of one of them for his theft? What if his punishment was not to be jail time, but whatever punishment the crime lord from whom he had, it now seemed evident, stolen the phone, chose to mete upon him?
On that last matter, though he didn't know it yet, Tarun was absolutely on the money.
They arrived at a palatial residence which was walled-in and which was also rather expansive inside that wall. It boasted (and loudly, too) large grounds and a disturbingly large multi-story house. The limousine stopped by the huge front door and it was upon this punctuation that Tarun was all but forcibly ejected from the vehicle by his escort. He saw the car driven away around the house, presumably to a suitably palatial garage, as he was bundled up the stone steps and hustled inside. In his heart, he heard the words Goodbye, Tarun. It was nice knowing you....
He was nudged and prodded into an ornate room where he was forced to stand for some significant time under the intense glare of his escort who was looking at him in ways that had no description in the real world. It was almost as though the bodyguard were studying an alien being or some absurdly weird insectile life-form which had remained hidden from science until that specific moment.
At length, someone entered the room and Tarun found himself in front of none other than Ajay Samraj, not a crime lord, but the next best thing to one: an entrepreneur as ruthless as he was successful; a man who owned half of Kolkata and who wanted nothing to do with the rest of it. Tarun knew none of this at that moment, since he had no idea who this man was, having heard the name, but having neither seen nor heard from the man who owned it.
Samraj spoke to him in a deeply resounding voice which carried immense authority. "You have violated my protégée who is also engaged to be my wife, and in doing this you have violated me. You have stolen from me. The state would..." Samraj sneered as he spoke the next word, "...punish you by rewarding you with free accommodation and meals! Am I supposed to sit by and bemoan my loss while you receive the reward of spending your worthless days in idle enjoyment of the charity the state has so graciously if ignorantly bestowed upon you?"
The accursed accused had no idea how to respond to that, so he wisely remained silent, but clearly Samraj had spent no time in jail if he honestly believed that it was some kind of hotel.
Tarun did not think that he did believe so. Instead, he was by now convinced that this new authority in his life was seeking to avail himself of his own questionable talents in Samraj's employ, and as he contemplated this novel (or at least a short story) idea, Tarun began to wonder if this might not be a bad deal for him.
Samraj continued, heedless of anything that Tarun might feel, or think, or be contemplating saying. "No. I am not going to let you enjoy a free stay in comfort in a place where you might well profit from anything you have learned from stealing my Nalini's phone. Instead, you will work off your time here in the house.”
Tarun's heart jumped up a pump. He would enjoy the house and hospitality until it bored him, steal whatever he could, and then disappear without a trace. Now he had a plan.
But Samraj had not finished. "To that end, we are fitting you with this ankle bracelet tied to Nalini's bodyguards. You will work for her, enslaved to a mere woman..."
Tarun did not go unheeding of Samraj's genderist sneer at that point in his speech. In Tarun's experience, it was the women who were more authoritative and more dangerous than men not because they had power or influence, but precisely because they were so consistently denied it. On that score, he fully empathized with them, but he had met too many who had scared him to respect Samraj's thoughtless and overly confident assessment of what he considered to be the unfair sex.
Clueless to Tarun's thought processes, Samraj rolled on, "...doing her every trivial bidding, until I deem you have served your time and I decide that any information you may have garnered from the phone you stole..." he said, holding up the very phone in question. How he had recovered it, Tarun had not the first idea, but the fact that he had recovered it was significant and bespoke Samraj's power and immense reach.
Samraj droned on, "...is so out of date as to be useless to you and everyone else. You will work hard. You will work at any time and every time that she or I tell you to work and you will continue working hard until she or I tell you to stop. You will eat minimum rations and you will not try to run away, or you will regret it until the day you die which, rest assured, will not be long in coming should you ever cross me. Nalini's bodyguards will make sure of that."
At that he nodded to the bodyguard, and the same, rather formidable, man who had picked him up and drove him to the house now gripped his arm tightly again and hauled him away.
The house was so large that it seemed like they walked forever, but Tarun occupied the time in observing everything he could, especially anything he could carry off and make money from, and any potential escape routes which presented themselves within his scope.
Despite the length of the journey, it paradoxically seemed like it was not all that long until he found himself in the overwhelming presence of Nalini.
Nalini Abhineta was very young, younger even than Tarun, and she was beautiful - at least on the outside. She had burst onto the Bollywood scene three years ago, and since then she had accumulated seven films to her credit; and creditable they were. They had made a lot of money because of her charm, her acting talent, and her singing voice, on top of which, her blazing supernova showed not even the remotest sign of fading or faltering.
But while her charisma on the silver screen might have been overpowering, her physical presence was less than charming. She made him feel like she was the overture to a grand feast which turned out in the end to be putting the hors before the d’œuvre, or as Samraj undoubtedly would have described it, too much hors with too little d’œuvre.
Nalini was rather petite, more so than one would have imagined based solely on encounters with her on the big screen. That, of course, was not in itself at all a bad thing, especially from Tarun's decidedly nervous perspective, but within that diminutive frame, as Tarun now discovered, she packed a Taj Mahal of whine and sheesh!
Her first outburst upon Tarun's arrival in her suite was "What is this?"
Not, "Who is this?", but "What is this?"
Whence Poem y Granite?
Don't ask me! I never imagined this as a book when I was writing the poetry, it was just something I did for the hell of it. I'm not a big fan of poetry, but a lot of that came for the most part in a couple of spurts, once when I was in high school, and again much later when I moved to a new location and was alone for some time.
Other odds and ends came out frustratingly often when I was driving to and from work (usually, from) where I couldn't write them down! Some of that was lost, of course, because by the time I got somewhere I could write, I couldn't remember what I'd been thinking about in sufficient detail to make it make sense.
The title came out of nowhere one day as I was putting it together. It represents the "soft" poems and the "hard" short stories.
The short stories came at different times. Most of the really short ones were written a long time ago. The two plays were written when I was doing some college courses, along with some of the short stories. Three of the longest ones: the Ernest Hemingway parody, The Fire Suppression System, and Upanishad, the longest one of them all, were all written in the couple of months while I was preparing the book for publication. If I'd known how long Upanishad was going to be I might never have started it, but I'm glad I did because it's one of my favorites.
The original version of Poem y Granite had few stories and no illustrations. I wasn't happy with it, so I retired that version and embarked on the current one. The illustrations came originally from some new (actually old!) material I added, and this opened the way to more illustrations. I had thought of doing one for each item, but decided that would be too forced, so I put them in wherever I was inspired to.
I love The Fire Supression System, but even though I wrote it just last year, I can't begin to tell you where it came from. I think it came out of the title which itself came to me out of the blue, perhaps triggered by something I'd read or seen somewhere. How the story itself came about, I can't explain. This was another one where the idea and the initial words came very easily, but then the ending started kicking me in the rear because I couldn't figure it out! I ought to find a partner who is good at endings, so I can concentrate on the story idea and the beginnings! For a while I was stuck at the very point where the sample above ends. Then it started flowing again.
Upanishad was different, I know exactly where that came from. I was putting together an idea for a detective story, and I was looking through the discount bookstore to find a couple of such stories that I could read to get a feel for the style and plotting. I found none that appealed to me! Then I happened upon Six Suspects, by Vikas Swarup who evidently took that story from a real life event. Swarup also wrote the novel behind Slumdog Millionaire.
I thought that this might be a good place to start, especially since I love India (in principle, not always in practice!). I started reading that and enjoyed the beginning, but Swarup (that name looks like it's written backwards, doesn't it?!) became so bogged down about halfway through in pointless rambling about politics that I lost all interest in the novel and ditched it unfinished, which is not something I usually do, Chainfire notwithstanding.
However, there was one part of Swarup's novel where a petty criminal unexpectedly finds himself in possession of some money which belonged to a big time crook. He thinks he can keep it and get away with it, but of course he's caught and brought before the crook, who tries to poison him; however, the poison came from the crook's own brother who is watering down the products in his store to increase his profit margin, so the poison fails to kill the guy. I thought that was great. The guy also stole cell phones.
From that came the idea of a cell-phone thief who steals the wrong phone and consequently finds himself hauled before the big-time crook, but instead of being poisoned, he's forced to work in the crook's home as slave labor, and he ends up becoming involved with the crook's wife.
I thought I could write this one quickly because I had the whole idea in mind when I started it, and then I could add it to Poem y Granite which I was still preparing at that time. Then the story went on and on. And on!
It was not as easy in practice to tell it as it was in my mind to think it because I kept finding things which needed to be justified or explained in order to make the story believable: why would the crook, Ajay Samraj choose to keep the petty criminal Tarun Chandraketugarh in his home? Why would Tarun become interested in Ajay's wife? Ajay was much older than Tarun was, so his wife probably was too. Why would the spoiled wife of a successful criminal want to leave?
Nalini Abhineta came out of nowhere and took me completely by surprise. I once knew someone called Nalini and loved the name. I made her young and independently successful, but tied her to Samraj in a way which made it difficult for her to break free.
Being moody and spoiled, she is powerfully strong-willed and she refuses to let her circumstances and past mistakes trap her. She has a long-term plan which she's working to realize, and she sees Tarun as an obstacle to it. This explains her antagonistic attitude towards him. From that comes her abusiveness. Yeah, it's a trope to have the couple detest each other to begin with. but this relationship is a bit different and arises entirely from the circumstances in which they find themselves. Nalini has the power, Tarun has none. I think it works well and the ending came out fine.
Actually, writing this now, I can see a parallel between Nalini and Scarlet O'Hara! That's a scary thought. I've never read Margaret Mitchell's and have no intention of doing so, but a friend did make me watch the movie one time, for which I'll never forgive her! Thankfully I've forgotten most of it.
The idea for Secret Wife of Wal Termitty came entirely out of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the short story byJames Thurber, about whom I have mixed feelings. I've read a lot of his stuff, and this story is probably my favorite. Some of his stuff I was not very impressed with, but he definitely deserves a read.
I wanted to retell that story, but about a woman, and I didn't want to purloin Thurber's work and just do a parody or a parallel, but I did want to emulate his story to a certain extent. I made Anne a stay-at-home wife who wanted more, and who was enmeshed helplessly in romance novels. She's a Fifty Shades of Grey kind of woman (and no I have no intention of reading that, either, but the best of luck to Erika Leonard!). I did review Shades of Grey and found it worthy, however! Anyway, the novel is about the kind of marriage where love is at its last gasp, and Anne's escape from this sad feeling is in her reading, but Wal sees this as running from him, making him feel worthless to her.
What about the poetry? Well, I have mixed feelings about poetry. I don't typically read it myself, although there are some beautiful ones out there, and don't agree with Carl Sagan when he had his character in his one fiction novel Contact suggest that they should have sent a poet. But the ones I wrote are heartfelt and did come right out of me on various occasions.
Starting with the ones I reproduced above, Day Night came to me one evening a long time ago as it was turning dark. I was walking my dogs close by where I lived at the time. I'm always looking at the sky and saw it in a special light that night whilst waiting for the dogs to do their all-important doggie business. The image for Day Night comes from a photograph I took at Virginia Beach early one morning just as the sun was ri-ising....
For Jury is quite recent. I like because of its simplicity and portentousness. Keep Sake is recent, too. It came right out of thinking about chess one day. Why I was thinking about chess I have no idea. I can play but I don't play. I once had an idea for turning chess into a card game but I never followed through. There's a free idea for you: hopefully you'll get rich from it!
Lace of Ice I wrote for a competition at this college I was attending. It had four categories, I think they were poetry, essay, short story and one-act play. I wanted to enter all four, just because. The essay wasn't any great shakes, but I'd already written it, so I had to do nothing there. It's not reproduced in Poem y Granite! I wrote it about community college life.
The short story is probably in this collection but I can't for the life of me remember what it was unless it's Post Traumatic, which was originally set in Vietnam, but updated for this publication. The one act play was a complete throw-away, but it won! It's in this collection, called The Mechanics of Used Cars. It's nothing but a farce, and it uses more puns than Shakespeare, but having had dealings with used car salesmen, it was nice to get revenge in this way!
There were only two entries for the play, the other of which was pretentious as hell IMO, which doubtlessly explains why I won. I had pinned my hopes on the poem, Lace of Ice, which I was impressed that I could write. You can decide if I was delusional on that one! Suffice to say, I've never written anything else in that vein (or vain).
Yes, the countdown at the start of Poem y Granite is a bit contrived, but I actually did have most of those eleven poems already written with the number in the title (for example, 2:30 It Is was originally called It's 2:30) and it seemed like a fun idea at the time. I love the drawing which I came up with for that one. It came out of the title of course, and the bird came out of the clock when I noticed that the hands looked just like one.
I like 1 Blade, particularly the drawing I came up with. I'll go into more detail about how I draw (since, you may have guessed, I'm not an artist!), how I came up with the book covers, and the process of self-publishing in other blogs.
Across a crowded Rheumy Verse was originally conceived as a song, as were several other poems - not that I write songs or play music. I wish I did, but you should probably be grateful I don't! And No, She Said, No, I Won't No! comes reversed from Episode 18 - Penelope of James Joyce's Ulysses. There was once (only once!) an agent, who expressed interest in me, comparing me with James Joyce, who then simply dropped me for no explained reason. That was when I was trying to get Waterfall published. Shows what she knows! lol! So this is a bit of revenge, and it's one reason why I'm so glad that we don't have to go cap-in-hand to Will-o-the-Wisp agents and capricious publishers any more.
Arrest These Crazy Mental Men is one of a score or so of parody poems based on songs both ancient and modern. Cantata is an old joke turned into a poem a long time ago. I like the rhythm and humor. Dawn of Dusk I wrote a long time ago about nuclear war. I still like the imagery in that one, as do I for The Day of Death. I really don't know how I got there from where I started, with a simple idea for a grave stone, but there you go.
The amount of times death appears in these poems you might think I'm suicidal but I'm actually not. The death refers only to the end of the day. I have lived in some places where winters were brutal, which explains why I live where I live now. I hated the end of the day because it meant another bitterly cold night. I'm not a fan of winter, Lace of Ice notwithstanding!
The illustration from The Device You Devised? It's Divisive came from the poem. The poem is a recent one derived from one morning when I got up late and and came out of the bedroom to find my entire family engrossed in cell phones, laptops, and notebooks. It made an impression. I didn't immediately think of writing a poem about it, but preparing Poem y Granite for publication most definitely put me into a more poetic frame of mind! The split in the image is because each half appeared on a facing page above the poem.
The Genesis of Tempestuous Ness is the first chapter from Saurus. No, the entire book isn't written in poetry, although I like to think it's written poetically. it was originally just a prose chapter like all the others, but as I wrote it and reworked it, the poetry just rose right out of the phraseology.
The cartoon A Play on Words in the bizarre essay The Great Bored was an idea I had a long time ago for a painting (no I don't paint!). Heather and Erica came out of my fascination with the English language and its roots. They're both names of plants (actually the same plant) and are both names that a woman might have. Is it the same person? Twins? Two different women? A figment of my diseased imagination?
Horniman's Tea is actually a brand of tea that was sold in Britain. It's one of those British things which has an entirely different meaning on the other side of "the pond", along with 'faggot', and 'Horlicks'.
I'm very fond of The Beatles, and I'm a Beast came straight from Let it Be which itself came from Paul McCartney's attempt to write a song after the style of Paul Simon's Bridge Over Troubled Water so I understand. That's what's so great about the Internet culture of today - it's so easy to get inspiration and to do something about it and to share it. My problem is that when I really, really like a song it keeps going through my head, and then mischief gets loose and I start changing the words. It's a "Weird Al" Yankovicthing, which I was doing long before I heard of him. I saw him once, live, with Dr. Demento. It was great!
Don't ask me where the illustration for It's Time came from! Obviously its roots are in da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, but beyond that I have no idea what was going through my head when that popped out! In case you're squeamish, the genitals are actually the eyes and nose from the face, but reproduced lower down! You may notice that the time is always 2:30 on all the clocks. Before I noticed it, I was half past it, too....
I'm sorry the illustrations don't carry to the ebook. The first upload I did of that sucked, so I removed all the pix. I tried to reproduce a bunch of them here, but blogspot evidently doesn't think I should be allowed to do that. It refused to save this post with all the pix I originally added, so I had to remove them. There goes an hour of my time! Thanks a lot, Blogspit! I'll fix this at some point, now that I know more about Blogspit's quirks, and about html.