Brighton sunshine, autumn leaves and winter snow…

The BFS (British Fantasy Society) had their annual conference in Brighton last week, at which copies of the Autumn edition of their journal were handed out. On the cover is an intriguing painting by none other than Clive Barker, and inside (among other things) is a short story by myself and Allen Ashley, called “The Topography Of City Parks”. This is the first collaborative short story I’ve ever written (a second one, also with Allen, will be out in Postscripts magazine this winter), and is about a repressed and downtrodden nobody who loses his job then takes to following wind-blown autumnn leaves across the city every day. Of course, in the end it is all a metaphor, since these leaves, like him, are lost and doomed and yet strangely beautiful. The recession was just starting when we wrote it, and in light of what has happened since, the words seem almost prophetic. I should probably just post this entire story online some time soon, since without a BFS membership, dear reader, you are not going to get your hands on this one.

Anyway, I’m posting this in order to mention something else. Allen Ashley organised a poetry reading event at the Brighton Fantasycon at which I felt obliged to come out of the closet as a secret poet. The “Dreaming Spheres” poems by Allen and his partner Sarah Doyle were wonderful, as were many of the others read out by those there. Below is one of the poems I read. Actually, this poem is tucked away in my first novel (Ultrameta, page 238) where it masqueraded as the lyrics of a song by a mythical middle-eastern songstress called Hamira Mediora, but reading it out loud seemed to give it new life for everyone. So, picture falling snow now, and read the following out loud to yourself (or a friend) whilst adopting a slow waltz-like rhythmn…

S N O W

Snow is the blanket that God would throw over us

if he only existed, if only he cared for us

falling, caressing, protecting our innocence

slowly and smoothly removing our differences

his hand on this sheet now reclaiming his progeny

less like a shroud than swaddling for christening

colours depart, tones and shadow predominate

turning the ordinary to revelatory

showing the dream underlying his masterpiece

magical, patient, and gently victorious

a dance in a paperweight, a memory manifest

under the stars and the streetlights innumerate

sparkling of frost like a children’s kaleidoscope

the blossoms of flakes passing under a microscope

ceaselessly falling and taking our eyes with it

backwards and downwards away from self-consciousness

guarding our memories distracting our enemies

preserving our longing in ice for eternity

drowning all sound in a death that is beautiful

drifting, enchanting, and sweetly mysterious

laughable, playful, infinitely serious

snow is the blanket that God would throw over us

if he only existed, if only he cared for us.

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