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On one of my rare nights out last night, I was pleasantly surprised to meet a fellow Neko Case fan. How few and far between those are. He was the partner of a lovely lady I’d just met and through the course of our conversation, we encountered a couple of inebriated souls who could have benefited from having their drink confiscated. It led us to bond over our comparatively more level-headed behaviour. Once again, I’m struck by the voices of the quiet ones if you just care to listen.

Oak was written for my best friend, J. He’s always been the sort of person who would willingly give a stranger the shirt off his back if he thought someone needed it. This is more significant than you would think. He’s always been self-conscious about his own physical appearance and had never taken his shirt off in front of anyone. But despite the insecurity about his looks, he is ridiculously selfless and kind and sweet to everyone around him, even though he pretends to be uncaring. A little on the goofy side, he’s a little accident-prone, just like several of my other close friends, not to name any names (E and S!). He is protective and has a knack for leadership, whereas I am content to be led. Over the years, I’ve witnessed him take many wounded birds under his wing (so to speak) and try to nurse them back to health. But lame ducks are that for good reason, or at least they are not likely to change for their own good. And so these injured fowl accumulate… You have to let them waddle out into the open world eventually.

This morning I was accused of having no imagination. Oh my lovely acquaintance clad in grey, you have no idea… or perhaps you have favoured forgetfulness for a reason, since I’m quite sure we have covered this topic in our conversations prior. My problem is not a lack of imagination but rather an over-vivid one that never ceases to produce theoretical situations that I have no power to breathe life into. If I had less of an overactive imagination, my life would have been much much simpler and pain-free…

On a more optimistic note, my first draft of Tongue Tied is very close to completion! To think that I’ve written 38,000 words since January, all inspired by a person very dear to me, is enough to render me speechless.

It’s always a bit of a surprise to me when a friend comes up to me and says something like, “I expect my copy [of On the Edge of Consciousness] to arrive in next few weeks.” It’s even nicer when it’s your somewhat-significant other who tells you that, especially when you think they’ve simply forgotten about it. A few weeks ago, one of my closest friends, while flipping through the collection, asked me which my favourite piece of work in the collection was. I told her that it was without a doubt, Sleeping Sisters.

You see, I had an image in my mind when I first started that poem – a photograph of a group of people standing under a wire frame arch that would have been covered in flowers, had it been spring. The wintry sky was grey, perhaps a tad dreary, but it sparked a seed of inspiration. Once the first two lines were written, it was clear to me that although the initial source of inspiration was a picture, the style of writing would be evoked by my favourite singer, Neko Case. In fact, other Case fans would be able to spot certain nuggets, little phrases that appeared in her songs. The “warble of a magpie” and “a hint of the sun” are a couple of examples. To be honest, I didn’t really know where I was headed with it. It started with that garden arch, then moved indoors to an abandoned house, later focusing on a playground in the distance that was visible from a window in the house. The ending was as much a surprise to me as I imagine it would be to any of my readers. I think my intense fascination with the ocean is apparent in the ending. In fact, I have an obsession for most water bodies that borders on the morbid – this stems from an unpleasant swimming/drowning experience in my childhood. In the last three lines, there’s admiration, love and fear, a yearning to be closer to something you cannot really conquer.

More to come. Stay tuned!