My Year in Writing, Editing and Publishing, 2021

Since I self-published Day of the Flying Leaves (Selected Poems) in March 2021 using Amazon/Kindle, I have posted the following new poems online in this, my Museum of Illusions.

I write this on December 6, 2021 and as yet Day of the Flying Leaves has had no reviews. To be fair, I only sent out one copy for review, to which came no reply. Sales were two or three in the first month, and none since. My poems have only been recognised online by one or two kind friends and a few far-flung WordPress bloggers I don’t know at all.

This year as editor, I published brilliant new short stories by Jack R Johnson, Jessica Fogal and James Roderick Burns in Stories of the Month. I continue to work on some unpublished short stories and two or three projects that have the potential to blossom into novels or novellas. There are also more poems in the works. Ever onwards!

Picture: Rejected cover concept for Day of the Flying Leaves

Some Lines of Late

Don’t do anything

Don’t do anything, don’t go anywhere,
don’t say anything, the water whispered,
and nothing will happen, you’ll be safe,
don’t rock the boat. The water in spate
then roared, keep still, you’re too small,
lie down and surrender to the waterfall.

People are like atoms

People are like atoms in molecules
bound tightly with other atomic people
as elements or compounds, stable/unstable,
in tension with the heat of passion,
volatile reagents, heavy waves of opinion,
wicked catalysts in the rolling news.
I’d go to mass only I haven’t got the energy.

The fearless old lady of Wood End Road

It’s raining but she walks with a stick,
its ferrule worn to 45 degrees.
Her feet are tiny but aright, her smile ready
to reply a morning to my good morning.
White hair under beret. Not tall.
I saw her walk with ski poles when it snowed,
the fearless old lady of Wood End Road.

I am a time traveller

I am a time traveller, same as you.
I travelled here from the nineteen-fifties
and I hope soon to visit twenty-twenty-two
and further into the future as well.
It’s always lovely, entrancing to see
old ones when they’re young, to meet
other time travellers in their home places
but heartsore to hear them wail.

Baby blue sky

Baby blue sky of November,
a touch of jaundice around your nape.
Nibs full of microscopic people
are drawing white lines on your face.

There are people walking behind me

There are people walking behind me,
I hear their steps and distant voices.
Will they see me looking here and there
At a willow or a birch, elm or linden,
A tree fern in a pretty garden? I wish
They would turn away somewhere
Because they make me feel uneasy,
Yet I laugh to imagine them saying
There’s a man who knows his trees.
I know nothing. Leave me in peace.

Photo: The Thames at Deptford, 25 Nov 2021

To the Get Hawking and Spitting in the Next Stall

With apologies to K.A.

Damn you and your slam door, hawk and splash.
I’ve been through the hands of the Christian Brothers
And their open-air urinals,
Burnt soup, shorts and vaulting horses,
The poor reeking boy ill beside me,
Canes slashing palms and wrists all day.
So damn you and your door slam.

I bet you’re one of those guys who
Tries to crush the other’s hand when they shake,
Who puts a foot up on a colleague’s desk or
Manspreads like a spatchcocked bullock on the train,
Unaware that all around you tacitly concur
We’re in the car with a stupid zombie.

There was one like you in the schoolyard,
Whose game was to kick boys in the balls.
Maybe it was you, and maybe you remember
I splatted you over my back with instinctive judo.
You were too heavy, landed hard, face first, flat.
You never bothered me after that.

All you door slammers, desk footers,
Manspreaders, tailgaters, hand crushers,
Balls kickers, street spitters, dirty lookers,
Fascists, clerics, misogynists, racists,
Self-adoring egomaniacs and bullies
Can go straight to hell.

Photo: Former Christian Brothers’ torture chamber in Dublin. I escaped.

Airs and Disgraces

I’ve re-released some ballad parodies in the Willesden Herald. I thought of publishing them separately but their best home is in the Willy. (Not something you hear very often.) Such things as Maruha had a little llama, Poor Paddy Works on the Software etc.

“In nineteen hundred and ninety-one
The stripy braces I put on
I put me stripy braces on
To work upon the software, the software
I’m weary of the software
Poor Paddy works on the software”

Read more

Beacon & Numbskull, a Halloween Story

It's Halloween 2021, the most haunted Halloween in my lifetime. So I thought I'd share this odd little story I wrote many years ago on the seasonal theme. Was it ahead of its time? Not really, the online circus had already kicked off when I wrote it. It was slammed by reviewers of the collection, the one they didn't like. Judge for yourself.

Nick was standing in line to check-out some Indian vegetarian food for his lunch. Living alone and working from his house, he made a point of getting out daily to buy provisions. It was the last day of October, and the local High Street was full of late harvest fare.

‘Numbskull!’ the cashier said, with a big smile.

Click the link to read Beacon and Numbskull by Stephen Moran (pdf)

From: The London Silence & Other Stories.
Copyright 2004, 2021 © by Stephen Moran. All rights reserved

Story of the Month, November 2021

I would like to draw your attention to this unusual story, give it a read. Go on, there’s more to life than Netflix! 😉

Willesden Herald Stories

Give your mind a workout with a short story that I, for one, will not forget any time soon. Ed.

The Willesden Herald Story of the Month

November 2021: The Blood of Our Virtue Smells Like Dirt by Jessica Fogal

Her mouth is wide and painted royal blue, her teeth stark white in comparison as she bares them at the ceiling in thought. She can pass for a corpse pulled cold from the salty water of the ocean outside her window, frail and blue and perfectly preserved.

“What do you want to be?” She asks me.

Jessica Fogal

Jessica Fogal lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest (USA), where she’s a full time legal assistant, amateur street photographer, and author. She’s been published in The Ilanot Review and has had many prints showcased in art galleries such as Terrain Spokane, and continues to use her lifelong passions for performance, visual, and…

View original post 9 more words

Why the Leaves are not Leaving

The trees of South Vale are in summer regalia.
October and hardly a leaf has left.
All must await the great oaks’ decrees,
Reluctant to fly and leave them bereft.

Ashes are quiet, aloof, preoccupied;
They’ll decide without a by-your-leave.
Evergreen laurels imprisoned in gardens
Have no opinion, and they won’t grieve.

Bent and scrawny, a hawthorn is fearful.
Italian alders would complain if they dared.
Winter cherry saplings are naively cheerful.
If only they knew how little we cared.

Photo: View of South Vale Harrow, 20 October 2021

Look Both Ways

Look right, left and right again before crossing. Unless you’re in a country where they drive on the right, in which case look left, right and left again. If you don’t know what country you’re in or which side they drive on, always go walking barefoot and someone will help you.

Photo: Two black shoes beside a kerb

Santo Niño of Sudbury Hill

Not Inniskeen Road but it’s fine.
Around the block, two women talk
while a slow old dog contemplates
a garden wall. Good morning.

It’s sunny, I feel carefree, elated.
Next to the lane, a fellow walking,
mask half-mast. I’ve seen him before
but never talked. Good morning.

I cross the railway bridge, all trees
in September glory, fading greenly.
Then by Orley Farm, another known
unknown man, weary. Good morning.

Before I turn for home, here’s wheeling
into South Vale, a mum on her phone.
Her small boy sits smiling ahead like Jesus
from a two-child stroller. Good morning.

Photo: Quiet suburban street, Harrow

Lee Watkins

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