Barking Circus

Park Circus-260816-reduced

This is only my preliminary version of the artwork, the great David Rix of Eibonvale Press shall be working his magic on it in due course in order to arrive at a final cover worthy of us both, but… as you’ve no doubt gather by this point in the sentence (!) my next novel will be published early next year by Eibonvale. Depending on which books come out first (I have two other books coming out next year, The Fallen West from Snuggly Books and Eternity’s Windfall from Red Squirrel Press) then this will be my tenth book and my eighth novel. It took me 20 years to write it, my most personal yet, and I don’t know if there will ever by any more.

I shall leave you with the (very) draft blurb:

In the early days of the 21st century, an ‘Unknown Executive’ is killed by a passing car near Park Circus, the architectural office quarter of Glasgow. From his briefcase spill a series of mysterious and outlandish story fragments which blow across surrounding districts over subsequent days, each found and read by a diverse range of local characters.

Each of these stories do little to help the police establish the dead man ‘s identity, but seem to point instead to a higher reality, a series of metaphorical futures that throw light on the enduring enigmas of human life and love: the struggle for freedom against the forces of tyranny and decay, the redemptive power of change and rebirth. A far future Britain overtaken by rising sea levels, a near-future Scotland in which a nuclear accident has displaced the lowland populations to new experimental settlements in the north, a future America in which NASA has begun a mining colony on a distant planet to the detriment of its hapless alien inhabitants.

The story fragments also combine with biographical elements from the author’s own life, his struggle to come to terms with the legacy of his artist brother’s life and untimely death. The quest for hope amid grief, the gift and burden we each leave behind in the hearts of others.

All these disparate threads increasingly resonate as the book progresses, revealing a higher ‘meta-message’ in what is left unsaid between them, themes such as the adverse effects of social-exclusion at the personal and societal level, and the redemptive power of art.

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Borders

Barley-1-reduced

Into the endless
breeze-rippled sea
of barley and wheat
let me vanish
with the unknowable
hare and the deer
who run alone
hearts throbbing
and the blind shrew
who can never
know night.

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Rain Town

Glasgow Central station

Rain on the attic roof
tender footsteps of youth remembered
and all the unconquered possibilities
of immaculate Saturdays
waiting in glistening wrapping
my beloved city where the crowds
ebb and flow on station platforms
like the systole of a giant heart
wherein I know in time I’ll go
dying without dying
caught up in raincoats and shoes
umbrellas and hats
lipstick and conversations
powder mirrors appointments
hairdressers dry cleaners
dates and disappointments
pullovers, sleepovers, hangovers
finders keepers, rails and sleepers,
sidings, branch lines, points and crossings
comforting pattern of fixed life
as beautiful as the bolted girders
over Central Station the confident strength
of Victorian great grandparents
who built this infernal machine
streaming with oil and rain and tears
the dusty glass clouding overhead
with gentle doubt and mercy
when I die I’ll become a conversation
between two strangers on a train
the wistful look in the eye of a pretty girl
gazing outwards, upwards at a glimpse of sky
We built this maze to capture love
the city fathers say, to teach you discipline
and wonder, wonder for the blue above.

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The Great Escape

by Ally ThompsonThe dead aren’t coming back
how many levels to this revelation?
over time like falling leaves
the waves of the symphony of loss
impress upon us unexpected fragments:
the sound of their voices saying our name
their laughter and simple kindnesses
the undeserved reverence they held for us
a love and belief we must try to live up to
then deeper: the moments they spent alone
in despair swigging whisky in a curtained room
while mice and flies gnawed at
the fraying corners of their collapsing consciousness
layer upon layer of forgotten drawings hidden
suppressed, never shown to anyone
among yellowing 1970’s newspapers
where you find at last a haunting self-portrait
of the troubled young man you remember
leaving his last day at secondary school
one glowing summer before the shadows
began their life-long progress creeping
like a maggot in an apple inward to the brain
you look up startled to see from the bedroom window
some other young man dawdling by loved by his mother
unaware of how a world waits to consume us all…
at last we’re nearly there now, the final veil
is lifting, the features of beauty’s lost face recovered:
the dead aren’t coming back but we
while they stand still, are moving closer.

(picture inset: The Great Escape by Ally Thompson 1955-2016)

 

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Architect

venice-carved-head

Go, when I am dead
stand where I foresaw you would
on garden steps to watch the light of dawn
brighten the edge of a roof whose shape
dipped or lifted to the sound of inner music
which grew within me each gradual day
and now takes root in you
Turn as I would turn to grasp the handle
welcomed imagined for this door
in warmth to drift up mellifluous stairs
my thoughts drawn upwards
by light that drew me all my life
See how I contrived a window
and framed a distant view
to awaken your heart now
to this longing that has no earthly cure
that is nowhere and everywhere
yesterday and tomorrow
feel my embrace of stone at last
and know that I am you.

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The Fallen West

the-fallen-west-ally-thompson

This may or may not end up being the cover (an extract from one of my late brother Ally’s most apocalyptic oil paintings), but this is the point when I announce that cult independent publisher Snuggly Books will be publishing my tenth book “The Fallen West” later this year or early 2018. Unusually, and interestingly I think, at the suggestion of the publisher, this will be a collection of poems and short stories and prose, all mixed in together. Because categories suck of course. Innovation and uniqueness are what we’re always after. I’ll probably never be successful or famous now, but I can at least promise to go on being Douglas Thompson, as long as life allows me to, if that means I’m writing strange things that some strange people want to read.

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Warehouse Windows

Warehouse Windows

Drowned world of blue memory
broken warehouse windows
in fragmented reflections
moons sail like flickering white flags
darting fish play among underwater ruins
the chimneys stand guard smoking guns
vandals throwing stones become doves
wings mapped frozen in afterimage
punctured glass glittering of jewels
frost across the no man’s land
unending indelible handprints
fluttering freedom renewed each night
moonlight data stream graffiti
indecipherable revelation
pouring down from the stars
this viscous elixir
in which everything atrophies
motion progress language
time.

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