I made an artwork and wrote a short story in solidarity with Ukraine, which I posted over on my other site The Atomic Mage… please check it out, thanks!
Image: Solidarity With Ukraine, by Ford
How The Book Cartwheeled
Imagine a child – some carefree girl, cartwheeling across meadows in perfect liberty, her hair the colour of the yellow sun, her eyes pale blue as the wintry sky… this image is what The Book thought to crush as it traversed the besieged land in pursuit of glory only a madman author might dare to draft.
The Book, mean-spirited and war-hungry, cartwheeled on, the sharp corners of its covers ripping up earth and flowers, its pages fluttering like the skirts and petticoats of that carefree girl we mentioned earlier, and of the likes The Book dreamed to crush.
The Book cartwheeled into towns and cities, firing off a multitude of bookmarks marking mistruths and misconceptions as…
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This week’s prompt word is Service
This DIY job is not a service but a replacement of vital parts, because the toilet cistern no longer flushes and its innards have fallen apart.
Luckily I remember some skills from when I was a 16 year-old apprentice plumbing and drainage engineer, back in Peaky Blinders land, ay, can still hear my gaffer say: “Water will always find its lowest level.”
Words of truth, but in this case the water has nowhere else to go – trapped, just sitting there idly in its ceramic fish tank waiting for replacement parts.
So it’s off with the tank lid, hands plunged into cold and calcified water, deep into the guts of this watery grave of broken plastic parts never meant to last or endure the hard water of our town’s supply.
Parts unscrewed, loosened, taken apart, brightly-coloured plastic contraptions of simple yet remarkable ingenuity pulled out like sunken hulks hoisted from the sea bed, then replaced with a brand new system all shiny and seaworthy for its future days in a 6 litre tank.
Job done – I marvel at my capability, thinking I have won; yet, water always does what it wants in the end and can easily make fools of our controlling ways; while some may believe the mark of civilisation lies in our art, our music, our architecture, our distribution of wealth – the true mark is simply how we try to manage the precious gift of water.
Editor’s note: The above is a true story – the flush has been threatening to go kaput for a while, so I ordered the spare part in anticipation. Also, I really was a plumbing and drainage apprentice based in Peaky Blinders land, Small Heath, Birmingham, by order! Props for good mate fellow WP blogster BK at Be Kitschig for telling me that if my adventures didn’t make into poem form I could always write a ‘flush fiction’ piece 🤣
Poem: by Ford.
Image #1: The Sleeze Brothers. Cloak and Dagger. Marvel. 1989. US.
Image #2: View-Master, 20,000 leagues under the sea. 1954.
This week’s cue word is Journey
To Bring You My Love
The night train watchman bids her a safe journey behind his mask,
And sails away along the carriage in search of fish the bigger to fry.
And she – she winds back her thoughts to a lady and a lord –
DNA domina, DNE domine,
The repetition makes the same sound as does her train
Clattering along rails under English skies.
A metal crate on wheels and track, parting mountains and rivers
To take her fast to her childhood love and a solemn pact.
Quickly now hurry, DNA-DNE-DNA-DNE, before my boy takes
His final breath, before he…
“My Dear, which train shall I take to bring you my love? For the love of poets is vast and unbound, and many a reflection may be seen in scripts from their souls. Cryptic. A puzzle. A treasure map to the heart. Meet me there in words yet said. Match my love with time yet spent. Reciprocate the loving sentiment with your own true words of poetic beauty.”
Words: by Ford, extract from The Remains of She, the upcoming collaboration between Spira and Ford.
Art images: Spira and Ford. Train images: Marklin, Hornby, Lima. Stafford castle photos unknown.
March 10. 2021.
I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given. This week’s cue word is Rodeo
Press Gang for a Bull
The rodeo clown chased me through town, his oversize clothes flapping in the wind, his shrieking laughter echoing about the deserted streets.
What a fool I was to get so drunk while on shore leave, to abandon my crew mates and walk alone in a strange town in search of adventure; yet, Lord, how could I have imagined to be so cursed as to cross that rodeo clown.
Finally he cornered me in a dark alley, and I bunched my fists to smite that crooked smile from his painted lips… but the last thing I remember was him clubbing my head with an iron bar.
Next thing I knew, I’m waking up at the rodeo, can feel syringes pulling out from my arm, and that clown telling me “Fella, all ya gotta do from now on is throw them skinny cowboys in the air and put on a show – who knows, maybe one day we’ll make ya champion.”
And as he led me out into the arena, I caught my reflection in the mirror of a Ford pickup truck, and, Lord, I was a bull – eighteen-hundred pounds of muscle and hide on four legs ready to buck, and that sonofabitch clown still telling me “Yes sir, you’re our prize Brahma now, and will go by the name of Lone Sailor.”
These days I’m treated like a star, and I put on a real good show for the folks who pay their dollars to come watch me throw cowboys in the air; though, Lord, I must confess, when I see that clown distracting me from making good a gore, I hunger for my old sailor fists to smite that crooked smile from his painted lips.
Words and drawing by Ford Waight.
My story Press gang for a Bull concerns just one of the many events featured at a typical American style professional rodeo – namely bull riding, which has been called “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.”
In Press gang for a Bull I wanted to explore the idea of a sailor transformed into a prize rodeo bull by the will of a magical clown. I was also interested in turning on its head the idea of someone in naval service being ‘press ganged’ into an alternative service. To press gang is to take men into a military or naval force by compulsion, with or without notice, and was a practice used by European navies between the 17th and 19th centuries as a means of crewing warships.
In this instance, my unfortunate sailor is press ganged into ‘becoming a bull’ and is renamed the ‘Lone Sailor’. He must now endure the rest of his days as a revered creature to the crowds, the judges, and the cowboys who try to ride him at the rodeo.
The rodeo clown
I based the clown of my story on the original rodeo clowns who back in the day were crowd entertainers who wore makeup and oversize clothing. As bull riding became more dangerous with the introduction of Brahma bulls in the early 20th century, the need for someone to act as distraction for a bull attacking a fallen rider fell to the rodeo clown. In the late 20th century, the term bullfighter began to replace the name rodeo clown, and in 2003 bullfighters in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) organization traded their traditional rodeo clown makeup and outfits for sport gear with corporate sponsor logos.
The job of the modern day bullfighter involves bravery and strategic team working to place themselves in the path of a dangerous animal to protect the rodeo rider. The valour of famous modern day bullfighters like Frank Newsom, Shorty Gorham and Jesse Byrne was something for me to behold while I was studying video clips when making research for my story.
I made it in pencils based on a photo of the bull rider Antonio Aguilars Charros riding a Brahma bull in Mexico circa 1975, although my story is set earlier than this.
Here are two digital renders of my original, as I wanted to see some colour and texture ‘popping’ in the scene.
Thanks for bucking with us 🙂