In Clacton on sea, under blue skies, I spied an artefact. It shone gold on ancient polished stone, pebbles they called them. It sat inconsequential among the shopkeeper’s wares, bearing the sign ‘Welcome to Clacton on sea’. A gold seahorse in a sailer’s hat smiled from behind the slogan. As soon as I saw it, I had to have it. I approached the sly looking shop keeper, he was short, squinty and gimpy, he regarded my interest with suspicion. I enquired how much the piece might be worth, he replied “The sticker says five pounds ninety-nine”. I reached into my pocket, feeling through my coins, I pulled them out into the light, to my astonishment it came to five pounds ninety-nine. I asked if he would take five pounds, he said no. I handed the coins to the reluctant sales man, he begrudgingly handed me the item with a warning “Take it if you must, but do not cross the Essex seal, or there will be terrible consequences”. I paused then asked “What sort of consequences?”. He hurrumphed and said “Terrible ones” He then scurried back through the door behind the shop. I do not believe in magic, superstition and suchlike, yet the artefact seemed to shudder beneath it’s paper bag, I paid this no mind and shoved it into my duffle-coat pocket.
I continued to enjoy clear blue skies throughout the rest of the day, before returning to my car, a Y reg Cortina, in reasonable running order, just needing some toupee tape for her vinyl roof, which flaps and trails giving her the appearance of a sprinting bank manager. I gingerly lowered myself onto the scorching plastic seats and started her up to head home. The artefact shuddered once again. I put it down to a misfiring plug and pulled out of the carpark to head home. Blue skies continued to bless my day until along the A12 a dull rumble filled the car, I was approaching London, the border to take my leave of Essex, I thought ‘surely that was nonesen..’. My thought was interrupted by a black lightning bolt firing from the blue, splitting my Cortina in two. In a whirl I was thrown from the wreckage onto the bank. I grasped the shuddering and vibrating artefact from my pocket and threw it in clacton’s general direction. I turned and began my walk back to London.
This was several years ago, I still cannot stand the sight of a ‘Kiss me quick’ hat.
Ashen skies host a charcoal dance
mercurial crows untethered
chatter with glee to celebrate
another storm weathered.
Climbing in the car for a drive, a drive just for my entertainment, no chore, no reason. I soak in the view, admire the engineering, the hours that went into the tiniest switch. Then look to the road, the black ribbon twisting from left to right over and down, the feeling of the road through the steering wheel and beneath the seat. Then to begin to explore, explore how the car moves at speed, how the weight moves around the car, how the car balances on just one wheel as a ballerina pirouettes. The car is not behaving as a normal car anymore, she is dancing as in the hands of a racing driver. Yet I am not a racing driver, I am not experienced in such a place. I press too far, the feelings become alien, soon I do not know the movements she is showing me. Her skirt swings flamenco, my heart chatters in alarming rhythms. I gather my adrenalin, my ego, my exuberance and slow. To listen to the engine purr, the chassis settle, my heart recover, after the invigoration of dancing off the leash.
Just below the surface she swims. When the light is right you can catch a shimmer of her scales, in the corner of your eye, you can see her tail whip. On a full moon she emerges iridescent green and blue, piercing the surface of this world. She then returns back to her realm, to tell of what she saw.
Drinking the stew made from shrew
would cue the wretched flu ensued
a rendezvous with toilet tissue
instead imbue a tier of tiramisu
ensure the trips to the loo are few
accrue from the shrewd food guru.