Author Archives: Calmgrove

About Calmgrove

Book review blogger and piano accompanist

Feathered philosopher

Image credit: Tristan Ferne

Philosophising woodpigeon
poses existential questions
each and every morning, without …
fail:

Who do-you think you-are?
Who do-you think you-are?
Who do-you think you-are?
Who?

My very sense of selfhood’s
undercut repeatedly,
I really doubt I ever …
knew.

Before I make my own quietus
feathered Plato shifts next door,
interrogates our neighbours …
who

will too, in their turn, have
identities belittled by
his nauseating bill and …
coo:

Who do-you think you-are?
Who do-you think you-are?
Who do-you think you-are?
Who?

Compassion

Giant: illustration by Arthur Rackham

Giant: illustration by Arthur Rackham

When Mick was little he thought of big Gus as Shouty Man.

All he could think of while growing up was being big enough to give Gus a taste of his own medicine.

Only now, as a six footer, with Gus shrunk to a little wizened man, Mick realised what being Big truly meant.


· Flash Fiction Fifty Five, a short story of only 55 words (including title), first published on Calmgrove 9th December 2016. © C A Lovegrove

More on giants in this review here

Book blurb

Photo by Buse Doa on Pexels.com

From the front flap of a dust jacket of an uncorrected proof of an unpublished anonymous memoir

In 1984, the author took a sabbatical from his job as an indexer to research a famous biographer and historian who’d recently died. In the archive of her notebooks and papers he was astonished to discover she was preparing his own biography. Up till then he’d had no illusions that his life was anything but humdrum, ordinary and unworthy of note.

As he shifted through her clippings and jottings he found she’d painted a word portrait of him as an individual whose every word and deed had unimaginably far-reaching effects. This was the life-story of a man who’d inadvertently caused murders to be committed, injudicious political decisions to be made, markets to tumble — in other words, he’d been someone starting to change the course of world history, and he’d had absolutely no idea.

As he compares his ordinary life (as he sees it) with the biographer’s inexhaustible documentation and her critique of his actions he wonders at her obsessive chronicling and stockpiling of material — letters, emails, certificates, news clippings, photographs — and starts to think he’s noticed a note of derision and sarcasm creeping in.

There’s only one thing to do to get to the root of the matter — he has to start writing a biography of his would-be biographer and be as obsessive about her as she was about him. And she turns out to have even more secrets than he apparently had.

Continued on back flap

© C A Lovegrove

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Report

Report on Einstein-Rosen bridge experiment #1, Ganymede, Jupiter

Preamble

• I am Albert, a 31st-generation artificial intelligence robot built expressly to enter the Einstein-Rosen bridge constructed on the Jovian moon Ganymede.
• My mission is to be in position at the event horizon at point T (0.00 temporal units, recalibrated). This horizon will be artificially created to be optimally functional at point T to allow passage along the Einstein-Rosen bridge.
• This report will be transmitted at T direct to station Juno in Jovian orbit.
• For this experiment I shall also be internally transporting this report for the duration of the passage along the bridge. If delivered intact and uncorrupted it will demonstrate that the shielding design has been successful.

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Colour palette

For TV dramas set in hospitals the general rule is that nothing – neither sets, costume nor location shots – should include the colour red. Why? This is because it may limit the impact when blood is first introduced into the action. Apparently the shock of that crimson fluid staining a largely monochrome palate produces an atavistic reaction in most people, especially when it’s allied to a storyline that raises expectations of an immanent coup-de-théâtre.

Of course, I knew all about colour palettes, the theory of which all Art students must have in order to make it instinctive in practice. Maybe you imagine I was a struggling artist in an airy garret; the truth is I had to make do with a basement flat in a Victorian semi, with only a little light coming in front and back. This wasn’t ideal, but as it was billed as a ‘garden flat’ at least I got a consistent green tinge to that light through most of the year. And as it was all I could afford in my last year at Art College, hey, who’s complaining?

There was little to complain of. I got negligible hassle from my landlord, who lived above. I tried to be a model tenant – no loud music, no raucous parties, TV kept down at night. He himself was rarely noisy, though I did sometimes hear him pad-pad-padding around, there being little carpeting on his wooden floors. He rarely bothered me, only popping down occasionally to check if everything was alright. The flat’s Spartan conditions were no bother to me: in any case, that particular day I was far too busy trying to get work completed for my final exhibition to worry about tired décor in need of an overhaul. As every space was crowded with artwork being prepped for the Degree Show the anaglypta wallpaper and mismatched furniture were the least of my concerns.

Mr Legge came down a couple of times while I was laying out the work – mostly two-dimensional – which I’d selected for the show. I sensed little genuine interest; he hardly spoke but seemed preoccupied. A couple of hours later he came down for the second time. After some desultory conversation I asked if anything was on his mind. After some umm-ing and ah-ing he mumbled something about rent. As I’d paid upfront till the end of term I was somewhat puzzled. It turned out that he was asking if, after paying the rent, I had any spare money; naturally, as a near-impecunious student I hadn’t. Clearly embarrassed he mumbled some more — sorry he’d asked, he’d try other sources, forget about it, didn’t mean to disturb – and slowly went out, the door clicking quietly behind him. I heard some quiet steps above, some muffled thumps and bangs, and then the accustomed silence.

I ought to have questioned him more, but my mind too was elsewhere: the Degree Show loomed. I went back to laying out the canvases and mixed-media pieces. To catch the most of the natural light these were placed across the floor, the walls being too much in the shade. The theme I’d adopted to link the pieces was Metamorphoses, and I was trying to sequence them to create a narrative. Adjacent pieces would reveal commonalities while simultaneously shape-shifting and evolving across the collection. The palette was muted, some greens, purples, pale lilacs, but mostly a lot of greys across the spectrum, from ash-white to lava black. I experimented, leaping up and down from the vantage point of a bench pushed against the wall, moving and rearranging, considering, finalising.

The sequence was complete. The largest canvas, the most starkly monochrome with bare hints of leaf-green and lily-white, was placed at the climax of the sequence. I felt both elated and quietly satisfied. It was done.

I was suddenly aware something wasn’t right. There was a darkness on the canvas where I hadn’t expected it. A rusty patch was apparent off-centre, a Venetian red which upset the subtle colour balance I’d worked so hard to achieve. It seemed to expand, accompanied by a soft but insistent pat-pat-pat, as if Mr Legge was pacing his room. And at that moment I thought – no, I knew – that it wasn’t Mr Legge’s footsteps that I was hearing; and that it wasn’t red paint that was disfiguring the picture.


This is my effort for the short fiction assignment on the theme of red that we were given for creative writing classes. First published 4th February 2016 on Calmgrove. © C A Lovegrove

Nature’s daily aubade

Starling, from an Edwardian print

Anticipating baton’s beat
the redbreast trills the starting note
before day’s orb peers over backstreets,
opens up his boastful throat.

Then blackbird’s improvising weaves
a fluting countermelody,
inciting Jenny Wren’s crescendo,
chiffchaff’s seesaw hymnody.

Sparrows’ urgent chirps now merge
with traffic’s distant growing rumble,
songthrush ostinato verse
and pigeons’ constant wheezing grumble.

Thus Nature’s daily sung aubade
invades the street as well as glade.

© C A Lovegrove

Written for a Twitter readalong of Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden

Ode to the moon

WordPress Free Photo Library

I can’t bathe in your seas,
No cow jumps over you;
No Man here takes his ease,
You’re still old when called ‘new’.

But I’ll still bow to you
When they say you are new,
Silver coins I’ll thrice turn
In my pockets, to learn
If more money I’ll earn
And more riches discern.

Then thanks for good fortune
I shall give to the Moon!

© C A Lovegrove

Written for a Twitter readalong of Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden

By moonlight

© C A Lovegrove

O moon, it’s time
I wrote a rhyme
to you, Selene,
pale-faced genie.
But rhymes for Moon,
like June and spoon,
make me go slack-kneed,
they’re so hackneyed,
so I’ll just praise you
for each phase you
go through, Tide-queen,
Earth’s mate. Thus my paean.

© C A Lovegrove

Written for a Twitter readalong of Philippa Pearce’s Tom’s Midnight Garden

Coronaverse alphabet

Less shit. Image credit: unknown.

March has seen a series of alphabetical posts on Zenrinji on a coronaverse theme, many focused on inadequate responses from government and certain members of the populace to the pandemic.

Forms including acrostic, limerick, nonet, senryu, sestain, sonnet, tanka and triolet have featured alliteration, rhyming couplets, doggerel, humour, parody, and satire.

You may recognise some of the moods — anger, anxiety, bemusement, despair, disdain, disbelief, sadness — these verses are intended to convey.

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Zoom call

© C A Lovegrove

Thank heavens for Zoom!
Proof against gloom!
Where’d we be
without our TV?
And social media
has never been needier
on laptops and phones,
replacement for drones
for spying on friends,
for gossip, and trends.

When plague years are done
where will we find fun?


Today’s coronaverse is brought to you by the letter Z.

Year clear

© C A Lovegrove

Twenty Twenty, what a year!
As it spun on and on some thought,
Let’s get the worst over now
and then it’s back to normal.

And now it’s Twenty Twenty-one.
Okay, so it went on a bit longer,
and it’s got a bit more messy,
but Twenty Twenty-two will see us clear.

And when it’s Twenty Twenty-three
What’ll we tell ourselves then?


Today’s coronaverse is brought to you by the letter Y