Simon Barber's Blog

August 30, 2016

Float

Filed under: Uncategorized — sibarbs @ 10:38 pm

He used to sojourn here often, sit in the empty carriage under the midnight moon and survey the sleeping town. The stars in the heavens would wink wearily over him and he would tuck his knees up under his chin and hug them. He would cast his eyes over the water where no blinking green light would summon him; his story was not poignant enough for a tragedy so profound. Instead, he would see himself afloat in the dark ink of the vast sea, limitless and beautiful, at peace in the perfect solitude. The whispering winds would knock waves against the boat that even the harbourmaster would not know, and the sea salt would wash over the gentle child’s skin he had not yet grown out of. No seagulls would cry overhead for him like vultures for even they knew that this boy was not lost or dying, merely wandering the lightless abandon and resting out here among the riches of Solomon’s great temple in the sea.

He visits now again, his knees tucked under his chin as they did in his youth. Stubble frames his coarse face, and wrinkles begin to contort his eyes in ways he had never imagined. Still he sits, cushioned and blanketed and remembering, wondering where that tide took him, and where it will leave him next. The boat isn’t empty any more; the company is as profound and perfect as once the darkness was, but still the waves carry them, still the wind whispers to them, and still they rely on the water’s generous buoyancy.

But the silence becomes desperate and the vultures appear, and the salt water that runs down his cheek is not of the sea, and this cord of three strands is strong but a fourth would bring completion, and there’s space in this small boat for small company, and how beautiful it would be to hold knees other than his own, even if just in the palm of his hand. How profound it would be to be the wind that whispers or the waves which knock or the tides which carry. For so long he was a small body afloat, alone, then company came, and now he longs to be the waters upon which a tiny body may float and rely on his buoyancy and find his limits as the stars wink kindly down upon them.

Still he floats, but not without hope.

Contours

Filed under: Uncategorized — sibarbs @ 10:36 pm

I found this. I wrote it five years ago or more, but I think I quite like it. Made a few minor changes, but not a lot.
Your hands are so soft, so gentle and clean; mine are so calloused and mean.
Your eyes are so passionate, loving and wild; mine are so heavy, so tired.
And when you speak, your lips say the words; for me, my chest does the work.
And your heart. Oh, your heart.
And mine.
And the moon tonight brighter than ever before, and you look up in awe, and I admire the way the light contours your face and bounces all over the place. The way your eyes are so innocent and wide, like this is the only thing they’ve ever seen. And your arms are open and your feet apart, like this is the only place you’ve ever been.
And everything is ok.
But we’re living in a postcard.
We’re talking via postcards.
And the moon is so bright this evening. I know you’d just love it. I hope you can see it from where you are, wherever you are. But I can’t see you.
The moon can be as beautiful as it wants, but it’s true –
It can never be you.

April 11, 2012

Storyless story

Filed under: Uncategorized — sibarbs @ 1:50 pm

I’m already annoyed because I know nobody will actually like this. There is way too much implied story, which I suppose at some time I might bother to write. But I really like the fact that there isn’t actually a plot. Nothing happens. Because this isn’t a ‘story’ – it’s not about what happens. It’s just a reflection on this character, this one woman who has been abandoned in the most beautiful place, knowing that she will die there, and submitting to it.

I don’t even know why I’m publishing it but here you go.

 

Like always, it doesn’t have a name. Call it Ark if you want to call it anything.

 

The colour of my hands reminds me of home; it’s the first time I’ve seen blue in almost eight years. Things are different here, so backwards, but so beautiful. It’s like a dream and I’m waiting to wake up.
I’m sitting on a cliff edge. I managed to climb part way down to a ledge where my feet could dangle but my back could be supported. And I can see a scene I’ve seen before, but the orange sky is not ink. The silhouetted animals are not static. They look closer than they are, because they are so big, like nothing I’ve ever seen on earth except in the museums. There are species here I never got the chance to save, and it’s such a waste. To my left, a sun sets, as one rises to my right. It was in a similar twilight that I sat down and kicked my shoes off and watched them fall, bouncing off the blemishes in the cliff’s face, until they fell out of sight. How many days and half-days have passed since then is hard to tell when both suns look the same.

The sky is an amber canvas, pink-ribboned, beautiful. I woke to it naturally; even if I had an alarm I would not let it ruin this tranquillity. I haven’t heard a sound that I did not make in days. Even the calls of the birds don’t carry this high. They’re not entirely different from the birds I used to nurse at home; colourful and charismatic, but with bigger wings. The air is more dense here, the copper crystals which give the sky its ginger tint also make it heavy. I don’t notice the taste of the copper any more, and I’ve already been out in it so much longer than we were told was safe without a mask. But since the ship flew, taking with it all the oxygen chambers and purification generators and not me, I’ve had little choice in the matter. Eight years to get where I am, to collect the data, to study, monitor, understand. When, in two years time, they get my work home, my old colleagues will study, monitor, but they will not understand. And I will not be there to help; I will be long-since crystallised, and likely the whole planet, by that time, will have perished too. The two suns which march relentlessly around SC-J are its keepers, the masters of its fate, and the architects of its inevitable destruction as its sulphur core slowly cooks until a forecast simultaneous eruption from its bowels blows the surface into a myriad tiny satellites orbiting what will be the only known naturally-forming metal planet, forged in the furnace of its own micro-solar-system.

There is no place for life on that planet. Not for the animals we came to save. Not for the team that left without me. Not for me.

 

March 20, 2012

New Book

Filed under: Uncategorized — sibarbs @ 10:48 pm

Before you even knew me, you knew me. You knew me enough to give me the perfect present, my soul’s want, my heart’s need. You gave me a book.

It was the book I had always wanted. The book I knew so much and so little about. The perfect gift.
You gave it to me wrapped and ribbonned, perfect and pristine. I was too excited to look for the flaws.

I spent a lot of time with that book to begin with. It wasn’t your classic page-turner; the kind of book you burn through to get to the end and find out what happens. It was the kind of book you read slowly and carefully, addressing every detail and knowing every name. The kind of book where you read a chapter in bed even way after you’re tired, and re-read in the morning to make sure you didn’t miss anything. The kind of book you even enjoy the smell of.

I was half-way through before I first noticed the dog-ears. When I became aware of it I looked back and found there had been some already, I just hadn’t realised. I wondered if I had tattered the book, though I was so careful. I started seeing signs that I wasn’t the first person to thumb through this book, though perhaps I was the first to be so gentle with it.
As page followed page, so each became more scrappy and scuffed, and with each new revelation I found more I had over-looked already. It wasn’t long before I found narrative interrupted by missing pages, evidence of paper torn hurriedly from the spine, evidence that this book had been manhandled and mistreated by one, perhaps more, handler before me. And slowly the book became less beautiful.
And slowly your gift became less perfect.

And slowly you fell page from page in my hands.

December 14, 2011

Cracks

Filed under: Uncategorized — sibarbs @ 10:21 am

I forgot to ever clarify that this is a poem I wrote during a lesson on War Poetry. I got the kids to write poems and told them they must sit in absolute silence so as not to disturb me while I wrote one.

Not bad for 20 minutes… perhaps a little over-the-top with poetic devices but it what I was marking them on so I thought I’d give it some!

 

Cracks

Rain against the window like machine gun fire,
Spluttering and splattering and battering the shutters.
Cannons in the graveyard as the lightning strikes the spire;
I try to say a prayer for them but even think in stutters.

Lonely I have watched them lie in sleepless slumber,
Stuck inside the cell of my own body, so broken.
Slowly, over sixty years, I’ve seen them swell in number,
In sixty years not a single word I’ve spoken.

Cracks, my dry voice, and chokes,
And I see the puddles well.
“Amen,” the first and last words I spoke,
As at last I meet old friends.

November 9, 2011

Dust

Filed under: Uncategorized — sibarbs @ 10:58 pm

Here’s a fictional story I wrote.
It’s about a fictional guy who is tired and kind of fed up, and is realising he’s no longer good at the thing that used to be unique about him – writing.

I think it’s called Dust, or something.

I’m at the junkyard again.
It must be because I’m tired. It’s where I always go when I’m tired, and I’m tired now. That must be it – because I’m tired.
It’s my sanctuary, my solitude. My solace. See, there’s little comfort there, except the cold old blanket of satisfaction. Satisfaction, but nothing more.
It’s all I really know.
I let the crumbling rubble of old similes and metaphors and clichés sieve through dry fingertips. I don’t know exactly what I’m expecting to find here. Perhaps, somewhere amongst this scrapheap of vocabulary, there are a few forgotten words which hang sweetly together. Perhaps somewhere in this labyrinth of language there are a few lost thoughts, ideas, notions. An suggestion here, a nuance there, even a golden nugget of allusion.
Perhaps nothing.
And so it is, like always, I leave the jumble sale empty handed. All I can do is clap the dust of old words from my palms onto the page, and publish.

February 8, 2011

Hotels.

Filed under: Uncategorized — sibarbs @ 11:38 pm

I was gonna turn this into a poem, and perhaps eventually I will.
But for now, these simple musings will do…

They say life is a journey.
What’s your destination?

At the end of the road, there are two hotels.
Every action you take brings you closer to one or the other of them.
You haven’t booked your stay yet, but they’ve both got vacancies.

These hotels, they’re on opposite sides of the road.
Every action you take moves you closer to one or the other. But until you’re inside, you’re not committed to either.

So, on the left-hand side, there’s this amazing looking hotel. It’s got neon flashing lights, it’s really big, and the car park as buzzing. All along the road there are posters advertising the great nights they put on, the great times you can have there.
It sounds great.
And not only that, but it seems to be where EVERYONE is staying. All these attractive people are flooding in, people in the coolest clothes, with the coolest hairstyles, talkikng on the coolest phones. And there’s music banging out.

On the right is a quiet, modest hotel. It doesn’t look that big, but it’s tidy. The garden is really well kept. From the outside, it doesn’t look that exciting.

The difference is when you take a closer look.
See, the first hotel, the ‘cool’ one on the left, is dead inside. There are people in the windows trying to break out, or crying, or screaming. The paint is cracking, and underneath you realise it’s just a shell of a building; no substance, no style.
And inside the rooms, single beds.

Across the road from this is a hotel which stands modest, cosy, but when you look properly you realise that it’s not small at all. In fact, it stretches back further than you can see.
The doorway is small, but standing there, leaning against the door frame, waiting to welcome you in, is the owner, the manager, the builder. He’s old, but smiling. While the owner from the other hotel has sent his staff out into the road to hand out flyers, to bring people in, the owner of this hotel stretches out his hand to greet you, desperate for you to come in, but not forcing you. The garden, it appears, is not only well kept, but beautiful. The hotel built perfectly, it’s architecture and design flawless.
And in every room, double beds.

And with every decision you make, you draw closer to one or the other. And as you get closer to the one on your left, you get caught up in the crowd, and it’s so hard not to get dragged in with them…

I don’t know about you, but I know which hotel I want to stay in.

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