Future Past (Poetry)

I turn on the stereo and find myself stuck in the past,

When there was this music,

And there was youth and energy and vitality,

And there was dancing,

And alcohol and weed,

And there were boys,

And lust and love and sex,

And hope and dreams and a future,

And no clue that all of it would dissolve into this shitty, little life.

Advertisements

Ape Protest (Poetry/Pantoum)

Be a bonobo, not a chimpanzee,

A group run by matriarchy,

No alpha males posturing,

Instead, try to live peaceably.

 

A group run by matriarchy,

On two feet, stand tall,

Instead, try to live peaceably,

Do what’s right for the many, not the few.

 

On two feet, stand tall,

No fighting, no hunting, no war,

Do what’s right for the many, not the few.

In harmony with the natural world.

 

No fighting, no hunting, no war,

No alpha males posturing,

In harmony with the natural world.

Be a bonobo, not a chimpanzee,

Short Fiction – Crown Land

It was an old hat, but only just, held together by sweat and sheer determination. It was hardworking and weather-beaten, just like its owner. Fitting perfectly, it moulded itself to George’s head, so well in fact, it would stay on in a strong wind or on a fast moving motor bike. Not a belonging or an item of apparel, but an extension of him. He never looked himself without that old hat.

It once was beige with a brown band, but now was brown all over. The brown of years of perspiration stains, dirt and dust. Of crop sprays and animal dips, milk, blood and dung. There were holes in the crown, the band was only just holding together and bits of the wide brim were gone altogether, but still it did its job. It was impossible to tell how old it was. That old hat looked ancient, but hard work can do that to the young.

It worked seven days a week and in all weather. Drenched by pouring rain and baked by blistering sun. Working at all hours, from early morning when it was still dark and full udders had to be milked, and all through the night, when the irrigation gates had to be opened and closed around the clock. It never got a day off, a holiday or even a sick day. It had seen drought and flood. That old hat had endured hard times and in good times had worked extra hours planning and stockpiling for the next rough patch. Present when new life came into the world, and when life faded away. And sometimes it had to sight down the barrel of a gun, when a life and death decision had to be made.

Of course, there were other hats. The one that was only worn with a suit, to church, to weddings and funerals. There was the blinding white hat that lived on the shelf in the back of the car and was worn at lawn bowls tournaments. And there was the good hat, a younger version of the old hat that was worn into town when there was business to be done. It would one day become the old hat. But not yet. There was still life in the old hat. Life and plenty of soul. Soul that it had absorbed from its owner. And soul that it had absorbed from his land.

Your Instructions (Poetry/Pantoum)

Be brave, keep fear at bay,

It will want to consume you, do not let it.

Keep moving, forward or back,

There is no shame in a wise retreat.

 

It will want to consume you, don’t let it.

Follow your heart, listen to your gut,

Keep moving, forward or back,

Do not overthink your decisions.

 

Follow your heart, listen to your gut,

Be true to yourself and your beliefs,

Do not overthink your decisions.

Be sure to keep an open mind.

 

Be true to yourself and your beliefs,

Keep moving, forward or back,

Be sure to keep an open mind,

Be brave, keep fear at bay.

 

Bad Feminist

The producers of the TV show Doctor Who recently revealed that the next incarnation of The Doctor would be female. This led some to make comments such as ‘about time,’ as if this is some great leap forward in the feminist cause, the next step in equality for women. Some are suggesting that the next James Bond movie should also star a female in the title role – Jane Bond – and for the same reasons. Call me a bad feminist, but I don’t see this as necessarily good for gender equality.

Other movie franchises have recently been rebooted with female characters in the lead – Ghostbusters and Ocean’s Eight both take an old format in a new direction by using a predominantly female cast. However, they don’t take male characters and make them female.   From a writer’s point of view, I can see the allure of writing a character in a completely new way, from a completely different perspective or perhaps trying to find the old character within that new context. However, it can’t be ignored that often a character and their behaviour is governed by their gender. In the case of James Bond, his being a slightly misogynistic lothario is part of his charm. And take the character Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise. The line ‘get away from her you bitch’ is so much more powerful having a female protagonist take on a female alien menacing a small girl. The fight is not just human vs alien but taps into deep primal maternal instincts.

Agatha Christie’s characters Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple are both excellent sleuths, Poirot using psychology and ‘the little grey cells’ and Miss Marple using her experience of human nature as observed in the tiny village of St Mary Mead to solve crimes. One could argue that Poirot, as a character and detective could work equally well if portrayed by a female. There is nothing about the character that makes it essential that it be male. However, Miss Marple only works as a female character. An innocuous old person, quietly observing, gleaning information from parlour maids and butcher’s boys and being let into secrets and gossip, would never work if portrayed by a male. Her insights are gathered from the female world, from the female perspective, even from female intuition. And here lies the answer to equality. Creating female characters that work only as female characters.

There would surely be outrage if Ellen Ripley from the Alien movie franchise became Alan Ripley, if Mary Poppins became Martin Poppins, if Dane Prince were Wonder Man and Nathan Romanov became the Black Widower, but changing male characters to female seems to be acceptable, and all in the cause of gender equality.

George Miller could easily have made a Mad Maxine movie in Fury Road but didn’t. He kept his male lead and added a female, Furiosa, who was easily his equal and could only have worked as a female character. And surely that’s the key to gender equality. It’s not just about taking male characters and roles and making them female, but creating female characters that can only work as female and are every bit as engaging and interesting as their male counterparts.