The Poet Lorry Park Zeroes In.

I threw a stone cover for AmazonA few years ago I went to a public auction with a friend who was looking for some furniture. Whilst we were waiting for his lot to come up, an enormous quantity of cuddly toys came under the hammer. It seemed that it was the entire contents of a bankrupted shop. The price started somewhere at the edge of the cosmos and came down to something I could afford by raking about amongst the fluff covered boiled sweets in the sofa. Within a few seconds I owned several hundred cuddly giraffes, tortoises and some things that looked like socially disadvantaged wildebeest at the end of a hard day in the stampede.  I applied for a pedlar’s certificate and set out on a career as a door to door salesman. The giraffes and tortoises flew out of my sack. I sold only one wildebeest to a guy spaced out on wacky baccy who thought it was an alien.

Plan B in my retail conquest of the planet was a market stall. That weekend I was at the town tat-fest with my trestle table loaded with cuddly alien cattle. I figured that since the goods were not selling I would offer them at 50 pence each. After lunch I reduced the price to zero but still the poor beasts could find no homes. Then, a fellow trader wandered over and looked at the creatures and declared that they were from a top designer label and that by giving them away, people thought they were junk. Accordingly I increased the price to £5 and added a sign saying “Top Designer Brand”. By dusk, the herd of alien wildebeest had gone. I shared the spoils with a guy who had lent me a truck to transport them and the market stall authorities. There was enough left for a good old fish and chip nosh up and a week’s  caravan holiday. (It rained and the kids were sick). So much for my flirtation with Capitalism.

So it is with some worldly experience that my poetry collection “I Threw A Stone”  is offered for free until the close of play on the 18th December. It is of course a top designer brand. So far I have shifted one copy in the UK and have zoomed up 900,000 places in the charts. Sales are probably not helped by the fact that Amazon UK have removed all but one review apparently on the basis that people liked the book. (One could become quite annoyed about all this but poet karma keeps my thoughts on a higher plane).

Here are the links.

USA: http://amzn.to/QVtsVA

UK: http://amzn.to/TVdUke

Germany: http://amzn.to/U88fVT

France: http://amzn.to/UCmhO3

Italy: http://amzn.to/UCmhO3

Spain: http://amzn.to/Z0jCX3

Japan: http://amzn.to/TV0R2m

Brazil http://bit.ly/U7QshE

There we are then – Roll up! Roll up! There ya go my love, cheap at half the price me old China, perk ya selves up wiv a poem or two. Roll up! Roll up!

Sock It To Me Babushka.

I grew up in the shadow of the nuclear bomb and the cold war. A common form of conversation in the 1950’s was what would you do in your last four minutes of life. Many young people said “Sex” but I was a bit too young to know what that really meant. Nowadays 4 minutes would just about get me out of my poet’s overalls. The proposition was that 4 minutes was the length of warning we would have of Russian nukes arriving at a town near you. No one knew why they would be launched and we only knew that our boys were ready to do the same to them. I did not know where Russia was. I was very conscious of Cuba in 1962. When I joined the Metropolitan Police in 1977 we had to receive nuclear war training from two instructors who were dubbed “Nuclear Ned” and “Roentgen Ron” who explained to us about shooting starving looters and dealing with the thousands casualties beyond help. It was at about this time I began to wonder if the world controllers were necessarily the best guys for the job. The 1986  film “When the Wind Blows” which looked at Civil Defence in time of attack makes salutary viewing.

So, let us look at the Eurovision song Contest. The Russian entry has been chosen. As I reported to my American readers last week, the UK has chosen Eurobert Humperdinck (75yrs) to represent this Sceptred Isle, this Mother of Parliaments etc. We may as well give up. The Russians have won and for sure have my vote already. At first the choice of a band of grannies in traditional costume singing in Udmurt and (I think) some English may not have seemed calculated to win. However, their performance is so genuine and full of love that it will sweep the board. Check out the clip and at the beginning look at the old lady on the far left. A younger stronger woman next to her has an arm around her and they exchange a glance which is beautiful. It is about friendship and support. Seeing other cultures, their loves,comedies and struggles is the end to War. Ladies and Gentlemen here is Buranovskiye Babushki singing “Party For Everyone”.

I don’t know about you but I found that quite emotional. Look at those socks and remember that we were all going to annihilate each other a few years ago.

At this very moment my collection of poems “I Threw A Stone”  is free on Amazon KDP. Come on guys – just click on it. You do not have to read it. This could be the first time a living poet has got into the charts! It comes with MP3 Audio. Here are the links:

Amazon USA

Amazon UK

The Trouble With Sparrows

I’m having trouble with a sparrow. A male has got his eye on a nesting box on the house wall. Before he can move in, he has to establish rights to his territory. This means that the huge flock of other male sparrows who live in the lounge window have to be destroyed. The poor thing constantly sees his own reflection and hurls himself against the invisible barrier. My heart flooded with poetic sympathy and I now live in a dark cave, having covered the window. Seeing the frantic creature reminded me of my own attempts to find agents and publishers. Then, one day as I battered against the glass, the window flew open and I hurtled into the Universe of Amazon. It is rather like that old fashioned night time universe, but the dark matter is darker and the stars burn out with every new algorithm. At the centre there is the Black hole of the Trolls who have so much gravity and density that no one has found a way of  packaging it for sale. I wanted to be the first to review but the force sucked the words off the screen.

I have two bird boxes. One is a mark 1 model which is simply a home for birds. The other is a News International bird box which has been bugged with secret cameras. So far there seems to be far more interest in the original model. Please birdies – I only want to see the timeless wild struggles of Nature on TV with my remote control and a glass of beer. Please fly in.

A letter arrived. Given the recent spate of geriatric mail shots I was expecting some advice on incontinence. But No! Wait – I have won a major international prestigious poetry competition. I gasped and looked round for any incontinence info. No – it’s true and I did it all without entering. It’s a vanity scam of course. Kafka saw it all coming you know.

I did enter a competition. It was some kind of poem to make London laugh – but I was beaten by Prime Minister’s Question Time. Somehow my name and the address of the poet’s cave fell into the grasping claws of the World Poetry Movement who want to give me the recognition I crave in a leather bound coffee table. I kid you not. My special edition will be produced in this format. My coffee table will be called “Stars in Our Hearts”. The real issue here is that this reveals the extent to which every thing is for sale. I entered a competition in good faith and my details are shuffled off to some hovering hawks who know the struggles of a poor sparrow against the merciless window of fame, adulation, incontinence and supermarket lager.

Soon I’m going to write a poem, although it might be a story. I have been reading a new collection of short stories by an accomplished writer Claude Nougat. The book is called “Death on Facebook” and is very much of our age. Here are the Amazon links. For the next couple of days it is free!

Amazon USA       Amazon UK    Amazon Germany    Amazon France   Amazon Italy   Amazon Spain

Only Here For the Beer

I do not spend my life in supermarkets. However, the loving poet’s mate has a very busy life and the canned fish aisle is as poetic a place as any. Today I went on an important retail mission to buy anchovies and beer. A guy has to prioritise. You can buy a can of anchovy fillets for about 90 pence. It is an admission ticket to a world of Mediterranean sun, olive oil, swarthy leather skinned opera singing artisans  and the salt of centuries and oceans. They are also handy on a pizza.

For £7.50 pence you can buy a cardboard box containing 24 bottles of “Continental” beer. I figured this was a good way to spend my lifetime’s royalties as a poet – although I did have to add a heavy subsidy from my real wages.

As I waited at the checkout I fretted that the rather taciturn female at the scanner would scowl at me for being an alcoholic/anorexic. I was prepared with a witty biblical repost about loaves, fishes, water and wine. I recognised her as being the matriarch who had once rejected my basket of cold cure powder and ibuprofen tablets as being excessive medication and against Ministry of Sickness health guidelines.

As I lifted the beer onto the conveyor, the universe intervened with the perfect diversionary tactic. The bottom of the box collapsed and about a dozen bottles shot out, hitting the floor, the bar code barracuda and the conveyor.  Why do big swallowing cracks in the ground only happen in disaster movies? I stood there shrugging and smiling in my sweet/pervy old man deaf mute way as broken glass, beer and foam coursed around my ankles. I became someone else – perhaps a wandering poet uninvolved in a mob of screeching mop carriers. I considered trying to explain. No one seemed interested. Not surprising really.

Poet’s cave

I have been giving myself away on KDP. When they told me about this, I thought it was something to do with peanuts but I suppose it has when you think about it. Last time I offered myself I had few takers. This time I shifted about 90 copies and for a few moments was the world’s Numero Uno poet, even getting ahead of the dead ones – and that is tough. And that, of course, brings me on to the French Foreign Legion.

In the novel “Beau Geste” the brave legionnaires prop up dead comrades to fool the enemy into thinking they are facing an army. In my Kreative Blogger post I set out 10 “facts” one of which was not true. Yes – I never actually applied to join the French Foreign Legion. I got married and never sent off the forms. It was one of the biggest military set-backs  my mother in law ever suffered.

Dear oh dear – back to the cave.

Things That Go Pump In The Night

February 14th 2012. Yes – it is St Valentine’s day – although seemingly no one knows who he was, what he did or why he is associated with love. You know – it is rather British of me to see a sombre side to all the red velvet hearts and roses. My guess is that for each loved and delighted recipient there is a disappointed and lonely figure making the best of it somewhere. There are those who love the wrong person or who found the right one too late. There are those who love the shallow and the cruel and are trapped in their suffering. There are those who cannot love because they were never loved. There are those too wounded to love again and those who wounded cruelly, grown old now and surveying the withered loveless crop they sowed, those bereaved and those abandoned. Today will bear as many tears as kisses. As a poet, I have never written a proper love poem. I did write one about the crime of love. I used legal and criminal terms to reflect the sense in which love can often be seen as wrong and how the ruthless words of law freeze dry its passion.. Here it is:

Offender

No choking by chocolate
No cruel cut of flowers
For these would be treason
Against our State.
With counterfeit notes
Demanding honey with menaces
Loitering with intent to adore –
These be my petty love crimes.

A great favourite poet of mine is Robert Graves. In his poem “Man In The Mirror” he surveys himself and reflects upon his quest for the female. I checked him out on you tube and was amazed to find him performing this poem with video. Just catch that clipped British accent!

I can never let Valentine’s day go by without thinking of poor old farmer Boldwood who was so deranged with love for Bathsheba Everdene in Thomas Hardy’s “Far from the Madding Crowd”.  When she teased him with a Valentine’s card she set in a motion events that would lead to his destruction.

I am very loved in my own life. I reflect upon this sometimes remembering Ovid’s poem “Remedia Amoris” (the cure for love). He advises catching the horse while you can before it gets into a gallop. Then treat (the disease) early and fill your time with war or law. If all that sounds a bit active there is always the advice in Wendy Cope’s poem:

Two cures for love
1 Don’t see him. Don’t phone or write a letter.
2 The easy way: get to know him better.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1022230/Love–Poems-straight-heart-Wendy-Cope.html#ixzz1mNE5qzTz

What a miserable old git I am! I hope you are having a love filled day. If not – I hope my little dose of cynicism cheers you up. You are not alone.

If you fancy a few more dances around the bonfires of traditions check out  ” I Threw A Stone” which is my current collection available on Amazon Kindle. You will find learned masterpieces dealing with Erectile Dysfunction and love in the  “bargain bin consume today” department at Walmart. It has an MP3 audio download (which also plays on the Kindle) and tomorrow on the 15th IT IS FREE on Amazon, worldwide.

 

Amazon USA link
Amazon UK link
Amazon Germany link
Amazon France link

 

Blow Out Your Kite

I love kites. Just saying the word has made me want to write a poem about kites – not about the fabric but about their embodiment of hope and possibility, about the vision lost in the blinding sun, the futility of fighting Nature on a windless day, the paradox of a thing set free, yet to fly only because it is tethered. So many philosophical  thoughts arise in contemplation of the kite that it is hardly necessary to bother standing in the park, often with a bored child in attendance, running running running and running to launch a dream into the air of nonchalant breeze-less afternoon.

I do go on – but it’s the poet in me. The actual tethered end of the above ethereal paragraph is the subject of my FREE week-end on KDP select. As regular readers will know, I am not very computerate. Also I know nothing about building platforms, operating audio equipment, kite flying and e-pub/marketing. The more I read, the less I know. Writers selflessly give of themselves to help other writers. This aspect of the “community” is almost an antithesis of many aspects of our modern lives. Because I just cannot do all the left right click, hash pipe, salt delete I am grateful to a small outfit who keep me a little bit free to write, THINK and make some money by working. So it was that this morning I went for coffee with Rosina from Gallo-Romano and of course dear old Emma who is to blame for coercing me into this whole new world.

This is what has been happening. Over the past weekend both of us put our books out for free on all the Amazon platforms. Everything was pulled off other sites since Amazon is more or less the whole deal anyway. Emma will do her own take tomorrow for the Insecure Writers but she is happy for me to give her stats. OK – the situation was that we were putting out a collection of poems, a serious short story and a “supermarket” style romance novel. Even for a non worldly duffer poet, this seemed like an intriguing experiment. These are the raw download stats.

Supermarket Romance Novel: 7,600

Literary Short Story(With MP3 audio): 328

Poetry Collection (with MP3 audio): 121

All items were equally tweeted, splashed and splattered, battered and finally tattered. Downloads ran at about one per minute I think. Since the free deal ended, actual sales have continued at one per hour but only for the Romance. On a recent blog line I noted a comment by Jack Durish about so many questions in this whole business and I’m sure Rosina will be looking into her marketing ball. However, the quick snap shot suggests that these figures are in line with tree book shop sales. Although the poetry fared worst, it still reached the highest “chart” position for a living poet. What does that tell you about poetry sales in general and probably the acceptance by the e-reading public of this form? Rosina has a working hypothesis that the current e-read top up is like putting fuel in the tank of your car. You consume it. You do not  periodically take off the cap and sniff its essence. But – it’s all early days as these platforms evolve. I think the adaptation and media consciousness of writers will decide the future as much as the technology.

I will not grind on with analysis, but one odd stat. Emma’s “Sub Prime” was selling equally with the Romance when it was not free. Obviously it’s about the audience demographic…you can tell I’ve been mixing with buzzy bizzy folks can’t you.

Oh – yes  the kite. Somewhere above you there are currents of air. Can you run fast enough and long enough to tow it up to catch them? As you let go more line, the friction and weight of the string create more drag and you have to run faster. Oh – sod it, I’m off to the poet’s cave to write a kite poem.

PS For my non UK readers, an old London song carried the refrain “blow out your kite/from  morn til night/on boiled beef and carrots

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