harbertonbob / News / Mon 16th Jul 2012 Voicecafe at Ways with Words
Following Bob Hill's appearance at the Voice Cafe at Ways with Words at Dartington on 12th July, the following are the three prose-poems improvisations that resulted (ie Burmese kitten, Ray Bradbury & Nuclear eternity).
He left his muffin in the ante room & returned to the drawing room to inspect the paper, again:
tongue-tied gravitation fur
It still didn't make sense. It was his spidery writing but there was no connection. He'd drunk too much sweet sherry after the tennis match yesterday but that wasn't the answer: there'd been no blackout.
He wondered if he's written it years ago & it had dropped out of an old trouser pocket but… the date on the sheet of The Totnes Times was contemporary.
Then his Burmese kitten ran in & - as all good kittens do – ran up his leg, gouging his leg as the climb became more difficult. Absent-mindedly, he stroked the smooth-skinned kitten.
Then, gravitation took over & the kitten fell back towards the floor – he reached out, dropping The Totnes Times, clutched the kitten's neck, continued to fall over, rolled himself into a ball & threw the Burmese upwards – triumphantly. As it neared the ceiling she – his latest lover – came in, acting up, acting louchely (a tract he'd always admired).
'And can you explain this?' she inquired. But he, tongue-tied, couldn't. Instead there was only the sound of fur against the ceiling's rose.
Ray Bradbury peered over his glasses & addressed the audience: 'I was almost arrested last week for walking the streets at night – to breathe & think clearly'. He paused, licked his lips & continued his anecdote.
Two young Austrians – failing to have fully comprehended the concierge – entered the room &, not recognising Ray Bradbury or being aware he was in the middle of a lecture, walked on stage (& speaking German very very quickly).
To be fair to Ray, he handled the situation well: he bought into the Germanic gibber & turned it to his advantage. He asked the Austrians to act as the policemen. They, keen now to bathe in the spotlight of fame readily agreed.
Curling their moustaches, they pretended to arrest Ray Bradbury. However, the taller Austrian started to enjoy it too much & punched Ray quite hard. Drawing blood, they were led away & he sat down.
Soon people started to drift away. Ray, head titled back, saw only shadows & felt a light breeze as they passed him.
Left alone, he fell asleep. When he woke the nose bleed was over. The next day, as a key note speaker at the fanciest basilica on the west coast, he ignored anecdotes & – to be on the safe side – read exclusively from Fahrenheit 451.
We're told Strontium 90 has a half-life of 250,000 years. That interested me so much I stopped writing a poetic dictionary as, by then, no one would recognise my writings. Instead I spent time trying to uncover words that might last.
Wart? Probably, been around a long time, sounds okay.
Emission? Possibly – there's always emissions when you think about it.
Jaffa cakes? Stands to reason.
Love? Nah. Wayne Rooney? To some Mancunians & Merseysiders. (I'll take a punt on Wayne.)
Burmese kittens? Yes, - there'll always be catophiles.
All I now had to do was choose the right acid-free paper that'll last 250,000 years - & chose a place that would protect the words – Wayne Rooney, Jaffa cakes, etc – for that period.
I took a sabbatical for as long as it took, borrowing my wife's Aldi jotter & a friend's silver cigarette case &, with these accoutrements wrote the words down & slotted them in; the words rested against the silver.
As it grew darker & wetter & colder, I searched out my favourite acropolis – the one with the 5 Star Health & Safety rating.