A Shitty Situation In My Life

Which future point will I make decisions at and have no-one questioning competency? Maybe I’m disabled but my brain is functioning, like, 94% of the time, at my roughest guess. So I make choices, or minors steps towards possible choices, and I tell you about it, you should understand the utter privilege of being included at all; I don’t talk to anyone, now. I mostly know better than that.

I retract my permission slip to let you sift slick your POV on to me. I know my mind only. You don’t know it. It’s a best guess, and you’re guessing badly, sorry.

When I actually do it, will you stop asking if the right thing is a thing I’m thinking? Of course I’ve thought about it. A snap decision is seeming the total desirable thing, because the fallout shock, someone just doing something you didn’t expect, you have to come to terms, digest the grief. But this draw-out of my own enduring, is what sets the judgement switch to on.

Your judging makes me sick. I love you, but I could vomit earlier, at the fat of the implication I wouldn’t do right or best.

Be me now. Qualify yourself to say. Or STFU.

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The Internship

This year I was an intern for National Flash Fiction Day, which involved receiving, compiling and covertly reading submissions before anyone else saw them. Sure, it was an admin task, the core of which involved building a spreadsheet of all the anthology entries, logging names, email addresses and word counts. But it somehow managed to be super fun. It was great seeing entries arrive in the inbox, some from recognisable names, some from newcomers, and getting to read them first. I didn’t have a say in the judging process, but it was awesome reading the stories before anyone else, trying to guess what might make the cut. The main lesson I took from this was that a story might be great, but that doesn’t mean it’ll fit into any project, necessarily. There was such a volume of entries, it must’ve been tough to choose what made it into the book, and what didn’t. And a part of that has to be which stories create a product, fit together, are cohesive. A story doesn’t always find a home on its first submission. Which is why it’s massively worth re-subbing, over and over again if need be. It was cool to see the breadth of responses too, each about a piece of art, be it book, film, sculpture, each so unique, personal, different, new.

From the spreadsheet I created a mail merge, which built a word document containing all of the submissions, each uniform, all in the same font, anonymous, with title only, so that the judges could read every story without the prejudice of knowing its author. I like that Calum and Holly read all the submissions this way, it makes it so much more fair if the first time they see the work they have no idea who submitted it. Everyone has an equal shot.

Once the selection was made, I compiled a new document with the chosen entries in it, which Calum typeset (and I still can’t believe how quickly he made the book happen, and that we’ll have it in a week).

There are many reasons I love flash. It’s the first form I really enjoyed working in. I just got it and it, me: it’s like the most reliable boyfriend/girlfriend ever. Flash can tell a whole story, a half of it, or a moment only, as it passes. It’s at times impossible to define, maybe called poetry or a prose poem in the mouths of others. It works in sequence or solo, but it’ll never spawn 7 sequels like Die Hard’s going to. It’s so much more efficient than that. Sparse yet filled with possibility which the reader injects like a jam machine in a donut factory. It’s compact, resourceful, won’t waste morsels. It’s the opposite of a Kardashian. And I’m totally, one hundred and ten percent, in love with it.

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Flash Kardashian

(Originally published on the National Flash Fiction Day blog, 17th June 2013)

I’m a Spy (NaPoWriMo #12)

They claim fraud but it’s not
I saw you cry your make-up off
still in your slippers, robe
asking your sister how to feel
when you’re married

In your heart isn’t fraud
but Jack’s clogging ventricles
bubblegum
Tom’s can’t-do attitude
absinthe, Patrón
Terry’s seven night drinks
Ben Affleck
and your husband’s refusal
to look at you

To hold séances with you
compromise on restaurants
or art
and who’s funnier:
Owen Wilson, Adam Sandler?
And who’s at fault here.
secret mission

Miami (NaPoWriMo #1)

I’ll turn my hand to
anything.
Veterinary college, marriage,
Coco Pop cake baking.
The ring
is a nail’s width,
slides, so the underside
of my hand’s scratched.
One month
a handful of teeth
courtside seats
and the American dream:
stage Mom,
pension by your forties.

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Courtside

I will watch you on my smart phone screen, crisp as our marriage-day, contemplate the online posting of you, scooping as much of each hair and limb in the shot as possible.

You. I knew you before that patio party and the thirty day courtship won’t seem much to each magazine subscriber but when you recipe-perfect something, that is it, and any hater hasn’t the spell-concoction we have.

Once, I spat two day gum at my bedroom ceiling, and saliva fell first, to drench, stick. Now, you polythene coat me, lips and then legs. And my insides next.

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