Out of the Cupboard #12

Presenting: Dave Bryant

Slow Death Of Another Trade

I watch the fluorescent tube flicker.
I am still stuck here, but it’s dependable.
There are gentle erosions to mark the passing of time.
The bumper telephone message pad is almost finished.

I am still stuck here, but it’s dependable.
The fax roll needs replacing.
The bumper telephone message pad is almost finished.
Someone cracks a joke about women’s tits.

The fax roll needs replacing.
We are almost out of padded envelopes.
Someone cracks a joke about women’s tits.
Someone comments that all men are redundant and useless.

We are almost out of padded envelopes.
There are circulars about staff productivity to send.
Someone comments that all men are redundant and useless.
Someone kicks the photocopier and curses.

There are circulars about staff productivity to send.
A culling of inessential workers seems inevitable.
Someone kicks the photocopier and curses.
Poor budgets are blamed yet again for maintenance issues.

A culling of inessential workers seems inevitable.
The lift keeps jamming on the second floor.
Poor budgets are blamed yet again for maintenance issues.
The whole company seems in danger.

The lift keeps jamming on the second floor.
The union expresses its anger in no uncertain terms.
The whole company seems in danger.
Perhaps it would be wise to consider moving on.

The union expresses its anger in no uncertain terms.
Heads will roll about the static pay levels.
Perhaps it would be wise to consider moving on.
I begin to scour the classified jobs sections.

Heads will roll about the static pay levels.
Mass redundancies are said to be the most likely outcome.
I begin to scour the classified jobs sections.
I need work in a new trade that’s dependable.

 

 

Somnambluebirds

Those colourful talking birds,
they come to you in the middle of the
night, fly through the open
sash window like mis-fired
darts from the street corner pub,
scuffle and scrape beaks and
claws across skirting boards like
finger bones on wood.

They murmur their
demands in voices like a choir of
schoolgirls humming the national anthem
slowly, out of tune
with each other, plead with
trembling beaks like
tweezers delicately gripping at
the splinter of a truth.

They tell you they are exhausted,
demand that you build them a
plane large enough to carry them
across London, watch as you
cautiously fold it from this week’s paper,
flick jerky clockwork eye to eye
doubtfully over news pictures of
suited politicians, arms out-stretched,
mid-sincerity clause.

They made the classic mistake of
thinking humans like you
could build machines as well as
British Aerospace, could fly
better than they could talk.
They are just birds.
They don’t know, and
they don’t understand
that nor do you.

 

 

A Perfect Shot

she didn’t believe she could be struck by lightning, and to see her laugh in the face of a camera flash you’d guess she didn’t fear more earthly terrors too. It was picture perfect, each photo catching her radiance bubbling before it died. Every shot for her was the picture they’d use in the paper for you or I if we were murdered, in the lonely hearts column if we needed to be held, in the missing person column if we inexplicably vanished. Her face begged you to look at her, look out for her. It was if the lightning fork had found her on a distant plain, frozen in time laughing at the world, laughing at what was to come.

 

 

Memo re – Louise

I’ve worked opposite her for three years, but she doesn’t talk to me much. I have received, in total, three tight, fake, rubber band smiles, and a weighty freightload of frowns and incredulous stares.

She doesn’t care for men much – is quite open about the fact. She points out their aggression, childishness, and lack of compassion at any vague prompt she’s given. The only man she ever befriended here was eventually jailed for Grievous Bodily Harm. To all our criticisms, she sneered that we were just too dumb to understand that the trouble always came looking for him, not vice versa. She told me this slowly, as if she were speaking to somebody who was too simple to understand that the whole world and its cat were prowling the streets looking for fights with enormous, tattooed man-mountains.

I have often thought of telling her I love her, not because I actually do, but because the repulsion in her response would intrigue me – I am almost interested to see if the word could be more feared than a weapon. At lunchtimes, I sometimes have to fight the urge to scream it aloud whilst chewing on a mouthful of jacket potato.

If Louise ever sees what I’ve written about her on file, she will not be hurt or surprised – she’s beyond both. She will just state, plainly and simply, that she always knew I was as vicious as this, that this was why she failed to bother with me from the word “go”, right from when I nervously walked through the office doors on my first day. She can, she will point out, always tell what people are really like from first glance, and they always respond as she expects. She will point out key words, stabbing her blunt fingernail at them as evidence of misogyny, bad character, and cold-hearted cynicism.

She will finish by saying, with a slight smile followed by a horrified shudder, that my defence here in paragraph three is a blatant lie. As usual, it will be my word against hers.

I do hope you will wish me luck tomorrow.

 

 

Swinging London (an adult Choose Your Own Adventure game)

This mission – should you choose to accept it, adventurer – will only need one die. It is your task to attempt to find originality, excitement and wonder on the talent-crowded London gig circuit, which you must sign to your newly formed indie label Single Sock Records. With so much cutting edge talent to choose from in the Capital, you’ll need a keen pair of eyes and ears, and perhaps a bit of luck too!

ROLL YOUR DIE NOW AND GO TO THE CORRESPONDING ENTRY.

1.

You go to see Blind Box playing at the NME Spotlight Night at the Unigate Dairy Club. They are a band with two guitarists, a singer, and a drummer. The singer, Peter Variable, has a floppy fringe with spikey hair nearer the back, which has been dyed a sickly shade of tarmac black. It looks rigid and plastic, strangely inflexible. He wears eyeliner in a panda-ish way that would look profoundly ridiculous on a woman.

Their songs, such as “No Rest”, “Scarlet Trains”, and “Missed Again” are melodramatic affairs filled with epic choruses, rather like the ones the Manic Street Preachers used on “Everything Must Go”, but stripped of any string arrangements. The verses and middle eights are just distractions, mere afterthoughts that lead up to the Epic Choruses.

The lead singer is static on stage but screws his brow up at every intense bit, as if he’s trying to force drops of emotion from his performance rather like a dehydrated man attempting to wring drops of water out of a stone dry sponge.

A posh girl next to you instigates conversation. In fifteen seconds time, she will say “My boyfriend’s in a band. They’re called The Korova Bandits. They’ve been tipped for the top by Jonathan King. Have you heard of them?”

You leave. Adventure Over.

2.

You go to see Couldbe Queens play the Jump up and Dance Brothers Sisters and Aliens!!! Night in the Ploughshed. They are some sort of dated Electroclash band with a keyboard player, a singer and two obvious ex-drama students whose precise roles are rather unclear. They wear tight leather and make-up, and pull a variety of slightly camp faces which have clearly been learnt through careful study, both from bad drag queens and the mirrors in their bedrooms.
Their songs, such as “Your Mother’s Desecrated Ass”, “Motorbike Queen”, and “I Know Where To Shove It”, are all pounding electronic numbers where lyrical and musical subtlety is not at any point an option. One of the members, whose name appears to be Needles, spends much of the gig threatening individual members of the audience to a fight. At one point, he throws what appears to be urine at someone. It turns out to be Lucozade, though. Everyone is most amused, as well as being visibly relieved. Rock and roll!

The man stood next to you instigates a conversation, and in fifteen seconds time he will say “Do you know where I could score some coke?”

You leave. Adventure Over.

3.

You go to see The Lotion play the Go Johnny Gogogo Night at the Cow and Flagon. They are a band with two guitarists, a singer, and a drummer. The singer has Strokeshair, which has been dyed a sickly shade of tarmac black. He wears a rather ordinary suit jacket with a pair of far too tight blue jeans, and his performance speciality appears to be a pop-eyed glare which he directs at the audience to notify “intensity”.

The songs, “Reverse! Reverse!! Reverse!!!”, “Churchill” and “Plague Pets” are slightly mournful but somehow energetic ditties that manage to bridge the gap between Joy Division and The Ramones. The lead singer Joe’s voice is a hollering, barking cross between Jim Morrison’s and Ian Curtis’s. At one point he sings “I feel claustrophobic on the outside/ and safer on the inside” repeatedly and with some intensity. You wonder what this might mean.

The posh teenage girl stood next to you instigates a conversation. In fifteen seconds time, she will say “My boyfriend’s in a band. They’re called The Korova Bandits. They’ve been tipped for the top by Jonathan King. Have you heard of them?”

You leave. Adventure Over.

4.

You go to see Peace Corp play the Shilly Shally Night at the Tail-cock Bar. They are a band with two guitarists, a singer, and a drummer. The band all sport the kind of haircuts last seen in 1991, bowlhaired and possibly rather obstructive to safe road crossing routines. Alvin Stardust would consider them out of their tiny minds. The lead singer pouts a little, and shakes his microphone like it’s a maraca.

Their songs, “Cities”, “I Can See You” and “Ladders Without Snakes” all take their cues from the back catalogue of the Stone Roses, but are pale and diluted examples. The guitarist is average, the vocalist riding on arrogance alone, and the drummer too self-consciously showy and obsessed with random fills to cut it. They will also never play a four minute song where it can be needlessly padded out to nine minutes with bland repetition. Between songs, the lead singer cries out “Peace!” to great applause.

The man stood next to you instigates conversation. In fifteen seconds time, he will say “Do you know where I could score some coke?”.

You leave. Adventure Over.

5.

You go to see The Riptide play Pickled Onion Surprise Club at the Camptown Races venue, but the gig is cancelled due to the lead singer suffering from salmonella poisoning due to an undercooked meal he had from the kebab shop that afternoon.

Roll the die again.

6.

Congratulations, you have rolled a six!

You go to see The Glamour Chase play at the Sugden Arms. They claim to be a “reaction against mediocrity”. They are, in fact, a band with two guitarists, a singer, a drummer and a keyboard player. The band all sport Duran Duran haircuts, only dyed bright red and glaring peroxide blonde, and wear foundation and eyeliner. They do indeed look like Eighties Smash Hits cover star material.

Their songs “Return To Grace”, “Night Owls” and “The Backstreet Union Boys” owe an enormous debt to Bowie, Suede and Duran Duran. The epic choruses in particular have an anthemic quality which has been well thought through, but the verses and middle eights are afterthoughts, distractions, obstacles in the way of the rousing choruses.

The lead singer, Nicolas Hatherley-Gore, strides up and down the stage confidently, and screws his brow up at every intense bit, as if he’s trying to force drops of emotion from his performance rather like a thirsty man attempting to wring drops of water out of a stone dry sponge.

A beautiful woman stood next to you instigates conversation. She has a weeping cold sore on her upper lip. In fifteen seconds time, she will say: “My boyfriend’s in a band. They’re called The Korova Bandits. They’ve been tipped for the top by Jonathan King. Have you heard of them?”

You leave. Adventure Over.

 

 

Where to go next
myspace.com/davebryantpoetry
left-and-to-the-back

One thought on “Out of the Cupboard #12

  1. Dave Bryant is a diverse
    writer with lots of talent.

    He knows metaphor, he knows poetry;
    he’s smart, funny, and walks among us.

    Reading him is a privilege.

    Thanks.

    – –
    Okay,
    Father Luke

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