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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

TMA02: Revisited

This is my TMA02, slightly disappointing as tutor suggested that it a very good piece, worthy of much higher grade but was let down by character's POV's (point of views), being unclear in places. Formatting gets a teeny bit lost posting on the blog but you get the idea ... enjoy!


SLICE OF LIFE

The fast, mechanical ticking was the first sound that Jonathan Carlton heard.  Struggling to comprehend the superheated darkness with face torn, eyelids hanging like ribbons of wet pasta; the young diplomat’s face a cocktail of bloodied flesh and matted hair, his slashed nose its gory cherry. Trying to comprehend the smoke, the stench of gasoline, he recalled the bright lights and horn of the oncoming truck on the rain-lashed Lagos highway but nothing more. No memory of his difficulty in negotiating the BMW across the poorly-lit carriageway towards Labejo in the atrocious torrent; no recollection of the impact with the juggernaut that had sent the smart saloon careering down the wooded embankment.

            He wedged his brogue into the door and pushed. It refused to budge; buckled by the rolling. The muscular Carlton shifted in his seat and kicked again; still nothing. He didn’t panic; he hadn’t when his patrol was penned down in the squalid Basra settlement over a decade ago and he wasn’t going to start now. He assaulted the door with the same ferocity as he had the Iraqi forces; the relentless attack overpowering his foe and allowing the Gulf War veteran a laboured escape from the blazing car. He limped into the malevolent Nigerian darkness, legs buckling and folding like a skittish foal.

 

‘He is coming … both of you, sit up!’ the woman chided.

‘Listen to me, children. Do not ask of him questions; nor of why he comes. Do you understand?’

            The fifteen-year old twins, still in their school uniforms, nodded in tandem, and although curious as to the identity of the stranger their mother referred to, they were preoccupied with swapping ballpark gossip, their animated hand movement and boisterous laughter as warm and fluent as the tropical rainstorm stalking the skyline above.

Ramshackle, its wooden frame permeated by the incessant rainfall, the shack gave the dim light a dirty excuse; yet it always reminded her of old family portraits, from when he was here, when they were happy. Peter had long since departed, soon to be a year, shamed and humiliated, forcing her to become adaptable and resilient; the irony was not lost upon her. She would scream at him that she had not been weak, had not encouraged them, imploring that the white men’s drunken, sadistic brutality was not her fault. Yet word had soon spread around the tiny village; his humiliation became too much and he left that humid December morning. Etched with thinly-veiled disgust, his face offered neither hope nor contrition and as they stared at each other; Obeya knew it was over. Men were not to be trusted or relied upon - it was why she had not gone to the police last year - , she had her girls and now they would fight the world together.

            Yet their need for money was desperate; her seven fingers, gnarled by the grimy machinery, kept them afloat but the refinery was moving nearer to Abuja, almost 500 miles away.  A company representative, ‘devil messengers’ she called them, was due to arrive tonight and inform her of the latest developments.

             The tin-roofed kitchen, Queen Elizabeth’s muted smile tolerating her broken frame; her empire poised to fall amongst the tatty chestnut food bowls, was filled by the cacophony of rain. ‘The Lord’s Dance’ she called it, yet it was anxiety and trepidation that were waltzing around Obeya’s chest. The oil vultures were never late when bearing bad news and the squat, balding, Mr Mokoi did not disappoint, arriving a minute before seven; the short man’s suitcase containing the family’s future, a more parlous state than Her Majesty holding on in the kitchen.
            Within ten minutes Obeya had shooed the girls to bed, not wanting them to see her tears, her shock, as the diminutive official informed her that her twelve-year association with the American oil conglomerate was over. Yet the reason he gave seared her soul. Degrading and hurtful were the untruths from his lips, Peter would have thrown him out if he was here but he was not and she had to listen alone as Mokoi besmirched her name.

‘Mrs Asbouni, Blue Star Petroleum has received information that you engaged in solicitous behaviour of a serious sexual nature involving other company employees, whilst on company premises. Such actions will not be tolerated; therefore, the company are terminating your contract with immediate effect.’

            Stony-faced and monotone, his voice faded as her eyes closed; her sobs meant nothing to him and by the time she had raised her face from the kitchen table, he had gone.

‘Lya, are you fine?’

            Ameke and Asunda would call their Mother by her Yorundan tribal name, a sign of respect and love, neither of which Obeya was feeling after Mokoi’s brief visit. Now the eldest, Ameke was asking, with concern in her voice.

‘Yes, sweetness, I am just tired, that’s all, my baby. Now, go, school tomorrow,’

Obeya replied, as her daughter sought physical reassurance. She hugged Ameke tighter than usual, feeling the girl’s reluctance to part, before tapping the anxious teenager’s arm twice.         

             ‘Go.’ Troubled by Mokoi’s words and their effect, Obeya wondered just how long she could keep their plight from the girls. The men must have made her out to be some kind of loose woman to save their necks but she had been unable to prevent them overpowering her defences; had been powerless to stop Peter leaving and now the devil messenger’s venomous visit … she knew the chattering wives thought her guilty; yet she knew two things they did not; the truth and that The Lord would see it come out.

Her thoughts were cut short by strange noises outside the hut. She moved to the door, locking it with haste. She listened, there was the noise again; there was definitely someone outside. She summoned the girls, her voice velvety like a husky, inappropriate serenade.

‘Asunda, Ameke, quickly, come, come!’

            The girls rushed in, confused to see their Mother gripping the bamboo-handled Hausa dagger that Peter had gained from trading further north; pointing at the sink, finger against her lips, motioning for them to be quiet. The girls each picked up the tiny needle-pointed spears they had used to eat their cassava only a short while before and waited by the door that separated the kitchen from their bedroom.

            Obeya peeked through the matting blind across the veranda; its skinny light bulb swinging wildly; the bruised heavyweight challenger was on one knee, head bowed, holding the post, waiting to be counted out under nature’s thrashing blows. She noticed that he was white, stocky and wore what looked a tie that was skewed, hanging down the back of his dirty collared shirt. He remained motionless as Obeya stared, perplexed at the stranger without shoes. Turning towards the girls, six eyes searched for answers as to what to do next.

‘You! What of you? Speak!’ Obeya tried to command an authoritative tone,

mentally chastising Peter for not being here when they needed him. The stranger looked up at the door, though did not answer and as he shuffled to face her, Obeya could see from the smeared steps that she had been wrong; he was not soiled with dirt, it was blood. She turned to her daughters and issued them strict instruction.

‘Wait here, do NOT follow!’ the siblings trusting their mother’s judgement as she

jabbed the Hausa in the direction of the table.

‘Wait there and be ready. Shut the door behind me. Be swift and strong.’

            Tribal anticipation filled the tiny kitchen as Obeya opened and closed the boundary between herself and the strange visitor. Hesitant and frightened, wet hand keeping the knife pointing at him, she shouted, louder than before, over the rainstorm.

‘YOU! WHAT BRINGS YOU HERE?’

            His voice frightened her, not in its tone but in its familiarity. She would never forget their foreign voices - she would later be told that they were American – , or their laughter as they violated her, beat her, leaving her crumpled and bloodied, just as the stranger was in front of her. Her empathy for him was countered by his possible alliance to them.

‘I … am John Carlton.’ The stranger clutched his ribs as he wheezed.

‘I had an accident. My car came off the highway; hence the lack of shoes.’

            His aside passed her by but the weak smile did not. Obeya called the girls, who appeared in the doorway.

‘Be quick! Stay well clear!’ motioning the blade-wielding pair away from the

entrance.

‘You! Inside … and stay on your knees!’ she ordered the stranger.

Carlton shuffled inside like a tourist attempting a limbo dance, before flopping into
the rickety chair. Asunda locked the door behind them and the three women surrounded him, their sharp weaponry still pointing towards the same table where Obeya had silently asked for divine assistance. Instead, a bloodied, injured foreign stranger had arrived.

            Again she ordered the girls in her native tongue; Ameke took string from the cupboard and tied the stranger’s hands behind him. The stranger did not protest; he understood their fright well, the tormented faces of young unsaved Arabs stalked the mental jungle behind his eyelids each night.

 Through the evening, the family tended the stranger’s wounds, finding out much information about him: former soldier John Carlton was thirty-five, a divorced father-of-two from Houston and an attaché at the American Embassy in Lagos. He had been en route to Blue Star Petroleum at the time of his accident; he spoke with candour of ‘strained relations’ between plant workers and local people, also of rumours and accusations that needed “his attention” but played down his role.

‘I’m only here to smooth things out, to make certain people understand that silence is best.’

            Obeya listened, letting the handsome stranger talk. She made him take Lipton tea before slamming a heavy flour bag on the table.

‘Sleep! Morning time I will get Koomu to drive you to the hospital in his truck.’

            The bound stranger had little strength to argue and lay across the table top, restless in slumber under her watchful eye.  

The following morning, she addressed the unbound stranger at first light.

‘The girls have gone to fetch Koomu the Farmer.’ ‘Wash your face at the sink.’

Carlton smiled in gratitude and stretched his arms wide.

‘Mr Carlton? These “certain people” that you are travelling to quieten?’ she asked.

‘Well, I wouldn’t say quie …,’ his protestation interrupted.

‘Sir, know this. Listen well, for I speak simple truths in front of the Lord. I am the lady who was raped and beaten like a dog by those men at Blue Star. I am the lady accused of encouraging it. I am the same lady who has today been sacked for it.’

            Dumbfounded, Carlton stared at the woman, noting her fierce, elegant beauty; disbelief and disgust flooding through him as she proceeded to recall with eloquence the precise events of the company’s previous Christmas party.

            She whispered how the amiable foreigners had lured her into the fields behind the plant on the basis of showing her and her colleague ‘something special’. One of them had waylaid her work colleague en route, whilst the rest – she remembered three but there could have been more - had dragged Obeya into the woods before carrying out their attack.

‘Do you believe me, John Carlton, that I am truthful of tongue?’

            He blew his cheeks out, staggered by what the Nigerian woman alleged.

‘Well … look, Mrs Asoundi, these are very serious accusations and whilst I don’t dispute your account, I do thi …’

            Carlton froze as he witnessed the most shocking thing he had seen in his life. Facing him, Obeya Asoundi was hitching up her lacy skirts, her intimate mahogany skin, only seen before by Peter, now visible in the fuzzy light.

‘Mrs Asoun …’

‘WATCH MR CARLTON … WATCH! NOW DO YOU DOUBT? DO YOU?’ she

screamed in anger, pulling her petticoat higher and pointing at the grotesque marking cut into her inner thigh. She wiped her eyes with her knuckles. ‘W.H.O.R.E.’ He read the jagged letters one-by-one, mute in disbelief at such savage inhumanity. He felt the urge to retch. There had been reports of similar barbarity in Vietnam but to see it in the flesh was beyond words.

            The kitchen fell quiet, the stranger’s hand clamped over his mouth in silent horror as she smoothed down her dignity. He couldn’t look her in the eye.

Koomu arrived as promised and before being helped to the truck, Carlton took her hand, silently noting the missing digit.

‘Obeya, your compassion saved me last night, whilst your honesty will stay with me forever. Neither will it will be forgotten. Rest assured that justice will be served and that I will put things right.’

She watched as the battered Toyota pick-up jerked its way along the rutted clearing before disappearing from sight.

Gazing across to the plains from the plush office window, defence barrister Mrs Obeya Carlton QC silently reflected how far she had travelled since that rainy night fifteen years ago;  the night salvation arrived in a wet shirt.

 

2, 192 words

 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Bloody hell ... for his TMA, he's writing a villanelle!

So, finally decided to stop making amorous eyes at her deliciously tortuous, twisted linguistic Size 19 form; knowing full well that by her very nature, she will lead me a merry dance in the writing! There will be laughter and tears, fighting and daggers thrown but by the final quatrain, I hope that we will have kissed and made up x

Oh and that leaves 21 lines (max) to use up; initial thinking is an additional 12-line octometric sestet (as per Leo on Ollie on blog) and a 9-line acrostic poem (as per 'We Stayed Calm ...' also on blog).

Frankly, they should both be a piece of cake in comparison to Little Miss Villanelle, who will indeed be the icing on my TMA.

:)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

More poetic stuff ...

Super-productive yesterday, so took an old short story - that told of a family car accident-  and reworked central paragraph into a poem (octometric sestet again); have entered this into a poetry competition.


Leo and Ollie
 
Watching silently as she left

Dragged away, flailing ragdoll arm

‘Mummy! … Mummy!’ baby bereft

Scorching, testing juvenile calm

Why is everything upside down?

Calling of names, frantic alarm.

 

Again, again … ‘Leo!’ ‘Ollie!’

Pulling, wrenching, the buckled door

Seatbelt stuck, Mummy I’m sorry

Screaming, frightened by orange roar

I see your eyes, you sleep so tight

Why don’t you answer anymore?

 

Noise of flame, I had never known

Black panic, big hands, eyes so green

Pulling me close, tight like his own

Then gulping air, unsmoked and clean

‘Ollie!’ I shouted at the man

Never to wake, always thirteen.





© Nigel Pamenter 2013
The right of Nigel Pamenter to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved.
 

 

Monday, 7 January 2013

Kerosene: second draft

Tried to edit the draft to improve the rhythm.


Kerosene


We first ‘Hi!’ in Tokyo Joe’s

Sparkling the eyes, later the lies

Strappy heels exposing your toes

Mirrors and smoke, perfect disguise

Apple vodka like kerosene

Heart taken, loins after your prize.

 

Foamy bassline, dancefloor bubbles

Heartbeat thumping, reach for your hand

Party hard, kerosene doubles

Flimsy dress shows everything tanned

I gamble, whisper in your ear

Barefoot giggling, we rush to sand.

 

Fiery lust on Catalan shore

Desperate needs take us higher

Naughty fun at two-twenty-four

Kisses sweet though turned to ire

Turn your back and on the pillow

No passion, no kerosene fire.

 

Four months later in Essex rain

Kerosene lies, so not healthy

Your choice you said, making it plain

Bit of fun, you wanted wealthy

You shrugged and said it was a girl

Kiss the stars, my baby Chelsea.




© Nigel Pamenter 2013
The right of Nigel Pamenter to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

More poetry

Written in uneven tetrameter, it follows an 'ababcb' rhyme pattern, as you can see from the last word of each line. Music was an influence here, using a 90's dance track to evoke some Mediterranean holiday memories ... some good, some not so good.   Again, poem is grounded in actual events but I have twisted it slightly ... authorial licence!  ;)


Kerosene


We first ‘Hi!’ in Tokyo Joe’s

Sparkling the eyes, later the lies

Strappy heels exposing your toes

Trance boy not spotting your disguise

Apple vodka like kerosene

Heart taken, loins after your prize

 

Flirting in the dancefloor bubbles

Through the foam I’m taking your hand

Party hard, kerosene doubles

Flimsy dress shows everything tanned

I gamble, whisper in your ear

Barefoot, giggly sprint to warm sand

 

Fiery love on Catalan shore

Urgency taking us higher

Such fun at o’ two-twenty-four

Laughing at me though, would transpire

I would see your true dark colours

No passion, no kerosene fire

 

Four months later in Essex rain

Kerosene deceit, not healthy

Your choice you said, you made that plain

Bit of fun, you wanted wealthy

You shrugged and said it was a girl

Daddy kisses the stars, Chelsea
 
 
© Nigel Pamenter 2013
The right of Nigel Pamenter to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved.
 
 

Uni Year 2: Fiction, Poetry and Life Writing

Here's a poem I wrote recently relating to one of my Workbook (all 670 pages of it) exercises: like most of my poetry, lots in there is crafted from reality, with additional elements of embellishment to keep the reader guessing!

Set in 1981, it takes cultural references and relates them to grief.


Mickey Baby


Sound of the Crowd no more, sweet Michaela,

black the wreath left,

Nefertiti kohl smeared under the metal,

my wretched Fade to Grey.

 

Mickey, New Romantic rebel queen,

You whispered “baby” when we kissed

that night against his Alfa, rabbits in headlights,

not knowing that Love Would Tear Us Apart.

 

Living on the Ceiling, how you raised me

yet our fall so great,  from the arcade highs,

Charlie and Lady Di from under your duvet,

her Prince and my royal Toyah  Just an Illusion.

 

Imagination, it made a fool of me thinking that

I was anyone to you.  No fight, too polite.

Devil’s hands on the wheel and as the Alfa rolled,

To Cut A Long Story Short, I lost you forever, Mickey.

 

© Nigel Pamenter 2012

The right of Nigel Pamenter to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

TMA all done!

Some of you may know that I have struggled in the last 3/4 months, with a distinct lack of study mojo kicking in.

Well, Christmas was great, got to see Harrison lots; him and his sister enjoyed opening their presents and I do feel invigorated as far my academic work is concerned. I have caught up and  poured absolutely everything into this TMA, especially important with its heavy weighting and my recent poor efforts. I will be happy with 75% but we will see!

If you're reading this, then please join in, comment or just say a passing Hi!