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Archive for October, 2020

POEM: On being upwardly mobile

#POEM:UpwardlyMobile #FrancesMacaulayForde #SoundcloudPoem #CityTowers #Cityscapes #Loneliness

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Coming soon at Vita Brevis LLC Gabriela Marie Milton’s poetry book Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings.

My poetry book Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings coming soon at Vita Brevis Press. — Short Prose

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POEM:Skywalker

Poem © Frances Macaulay Forde Artwork © Jessica McCallum from her ‘All The Pretty Ones Are… Exhibition.

#POEM:Skywalker #LISTEN:FMFPoem #ArtIsTheSparkFMF #WritingToArt #JessicaMcCallum #AllThePrettyOnesAre #ReadingPoems

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SHORT STORY: Solophyst

Thought I’d share something different, a short story written some time ago. Bit of a long read – just over 3000 words but I hope you enjoy it anyway.

FMF © 2018

In the 19th century Flaubert’s book about Emma Bovary coined a medical condition; an excessive dreaminess in women was termed Bovarysme.

SOLOPHYST

by

Frances Macaulay Forde

After seven years of marriage, Michelle began to question her love ~ not her husband Barry’s ~ his adoration was as solid and steady as a rock.  No, she questioned her state.

Was this all she could expect?  She yearned for more  ~ or perhaps a different ethereal mist of feeling which engulfs like a warm blanket of bright colours, flapping every now and then in the breeze of life.

“Damn those blasted fairy tales! Where’s my prince?  Why doesn’t Barry come home in the middle of the day and whisk me off to Paris for coffee?”

She day-dreams he’s sitting in his high rise office, gazing out across the Swan River, thinking of her in a flowing white peignoir, hair carefully styled, just risen from their marriage bed to meet her love. Full lips ready to receive his kiss, his embrace strong but gentle he smiles down at her, with one arm to support her swooning, body trembling with unspoken ardour.

Driven by his great love and vision, he must slam down his pen, gather his keys and mobile phone and tell his pale and very ordinary secretary he’ll ‘be unavailable for the rest of the day’. 

His driving is urgent, through Perth’s city streets then onto the wide open freeway, fuelled by his desire to feast on her eager visage, he know she waits only for him in their little house in the quiet northern suburbs.

Michelle’s bent over, concentrating on cleaning out the fridge, dressed in jeans and a bright pink shirt with sleeves rolled up to her elbows.  A bucket of warm water stands ready at her side.  As she turns to dip the cloth to rinse, he bursts in. 

The spilt, warm water flows around the kitchen like the tide of their love; ebbing against the stove where she lovingly prepares delicious and delectable meals, eddying around the kitchen stool where she often waits for his call, flowing back to splash once more (like his love)  faithfully at her feet. 

Her prince; who has taken her from a life of limited mediocrity to unimagined happiness and a passion whose flame cannot be quenched, has come!  “Get changed, we leave immediately.” 

Jumbled thoughts race around in her head, swirling this way and that, she’s not finished cleaning the bathroom, washing can be heard sloshing about in the machine, the iron is set up ready to do a couple of his shirts before picking up the children.

Michelle’s also due to do canteen at twelve.  

But his kisses erase all thought – all care as she tastes the freshness of his breath, the warmth of his tongue exploring her hidden recesses, the closure as he encompasses her mouth totally with his.  She pulls gently back, gazes into his slumberous eyes and murmurs agreement.   Then, taking her into his arms he carries her off.  She doesn’t know where – nor care, as long as it’s with him.

In her daydreams Barry is somehow taller, slimmer, harder but at the same time, soft with love.  In fact Michelle’s good country cooking has given him little pouches of fat on either side of his waist and a small belly.  Where he was fit and firm, he is now comfortable and content.  He is also happily fixated on his work – would never consider leaving before six o’clock.

She knows the honeymoon is over and yearns for romance.  The reality of her routine needs release.  It needs comfort in the imagined possible.  But Barry, a Prince? 

Once, yes, she believed that he was her ideal – her dream, he swept her off her feet with bouquets of favourite violets and sweet notes of love e-mailed between on-line chats…  Even before they nervously stood face to face – an ungainly self-conscious teenager and a sophisticated man of the world – she’d made up her mind he was The One.

They met through ‘Spark-match’ and after some correspondence, agreed to meet for coffee.  The distance between Bridgetown and the city simply a hurdle to overcome: a test of his love and her worth.  The differences in their lifestyles only added to his attractiveness.  When a company conference held in the Karri Lodge offered an opportunity for them to meet, it couldn’t be ignored. 

Michelle had seen Barry’s photo and on the big day, he was dressed in an elegant city suit and did not disappoint. They met in the restaurant and ended up sharing dinner with his fellow attendees.  Most of them had to leave their partners and wives in Perth, so enjoyed the legitimate female company introduced by Barry. 

Conversation bounced easily between strangers. Michelle noted Barry’s place in the company evidenced by his colleagues who seemed to think well of him. His esteem appeared to grow as Michelle and how they’d met, was discussed. 

For her part, all the magazines, all the movies were right; she was his ‘pretty woman’.  He spent money like there was much more and convinced of his brilliant future in business. Armed with his degree in Commerce (with honours) she too was seduced then convinced of his ability to reach the heights, to succeed, to achieve the fame and fortune she wanted. 

The company paid for a room with a double bed.  One touch and she was his.  In three days she had convinced him also that she was The One. They married three weeks later, unable to bear parting. Her father, secretly pleased the wedding was intimate was shocked at the speed of events.  She remembered how he’d stood proudly, but alone, at the end of the sloping drive of their little farm to wave them off in Barry’s sparkling, silver, company-supplied Fairmont. 

How proud she was too, content to bask in his glory: the city-slicker whisking a country girl off to bright lights.  A good family: mother served on all the correct committees, father a lawyer and well-respected in town.  Michelle would be a confident capable woman who kept a spotless house, beautiful clever children, always immaculately and elegantly dressed, leaving her country upbringing far behind.

The phone rang.  She let the answer-machine take the call. It was Barry.  “I’ve had Visa Card on the phone.  March and April’s payments haven’t been received.  Can you check up on it?”  No ‘See you later’ or ‘Bye, love’,no affectionate endearments; just another business call to be dealt with.  

To give her ‘something to do’ Barry decided, early in their marriage, Michelle should look after the financial side of their life.  After all, she ran the house and received most of the bills before he did.  It was a task she eagerly took on, imagining large amounts available for her favourite past time; shopping.  In the beginning she feathered their little nest with all the latest décor portrayed in her favourite magazines.  Then Barry presented her with the bills and gently asked if she could budget more carefully. He ‘wasn’t criticising, just being sensible’.

He loved her to distraction, even though his mother questioned her purchases; secretly resenting Michelle as she took precedence in her son’s affections.   “Surely it’s not vital to buy an old table, (the worse for wear) for four hundred dollars, just to place her Country Life and Hello magazines upon?”

When Barry relayed this comment to Michelle, her reaction was violent.  “How could your mother possibly understand?”  She didn’t need to convince anyone.  Her husband was established, accepted and never questioned.  Didn’t he understand?  Michelle shouldn’t have to defend herself or her actions?

Her tears tore him apart. He of course relented, saying that he believed in her.  Whatever made her happy, made him happy too. Though still resentful, she convinced him that they could achieve their dreams without his mother’s interference.  She would woo her in-laws with her thrift and unknown to Barry, would cleverly hide her little extravagances.  He was content but she still harboured feelings of disappointment, though she embraced the project, secure in their credit rating. 

They could not yet afford ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ however she prided myself on her adaptability, employ the little things she was good at; painting and sewing; crafts that converted the ordinary to something akin to the illustrated desirables.  Her mother-in-law was impressed ~ even recommended her crafts as little gifts to friends.

As for the table, new dinner set and crystal; Michelle was certain she needed these props to persuade Barry’s bosses when they came to dinner that he was a man with culture, ambition and ability, which needed to be recognised.  She was helping him up the ladder. The perfect foil, a perfect wife cooking perfect meals with fresh flowers and little touches of luxury here and there which she was convinced, didn’t go unnoticed.

She always appeared in a pretty new dress accentuating her best features, charmed his colleagues and made their wives jealous with her easy, relaxed and effortless style. Then later, privately, when Barry wondered where she found the money, she would slowly and sensuously reveal sexy lingerie underneath.  He could deny her nothing. She had a way of curling onto his lap, snuggling into his neck, smelling of Chloe and nibbling his ear, that banished all thought of bills from his brain.

Up until now, Michelle too had been content with her lot, certain that soon, things would change. Soon they’d have all she yearned for.  Lately she realised, they seemed no further forward even though Barry had received pay rises.  The creditors were beginning to send letters of demand!  She fretted one day, Barry would break his habit and come home early to read the mail before she did. Each month she struggled to pay bills using the credit cards, make payments on lay-bys and part-pay bills too large to clear at once, then use each credit card to make payments on the others. 

She also re-signed with ‘Spark-match’.  She did feel guilty but thrilled and excited at the same time.  What harm could a little flirtation do?  No-one would know ~ didn’t even use her real name. A safe release from constantly worrying about creditors: another daydream.  The men she chatted to were carefully chosen for their earning capacity.  Little presents started arriving, mementoes of possible secret liaisons; enticements for further intimacy.  Michelle stored them in the secret drawer of her latest purchase, a roll-top desk, relishing her ability to entice so many fervent would-be lovers.

She had been corresponding regularly with a gentleman by the name of Henry who kept insisting they meet.  A bachelor, who lives in Fremantle, owned his home, was a successful travel writer.  He wooed her with words of far-off places ~ exotic people living exciting lives.  Words tumbled, like flakes of chocolate savoured slowly by her tongue, nose twitching at the imagined smells of foreign soils ~ mind travelling freely across continents,  she ‘attended’ concerts in London, shopped in Europe, strolled through art galleries in Rome.

One day, Henry admitted he’d done a little research.  He knew where she lived, even driven past the house and watched her moving through the rooms…  How did she manage to always look so sexy?  He likened her to his favourite movie star; Sophia Loren, floating effortlessly ~ elegantly from one beautifully decorated room to another. He loved her hair up in a careless knot or down flowing freely and fragrantly around her shoulders like a curtain of sable, soft, enticing, asking to be touched.  He drank in the fact that she wore materials that either clung to her full breasts or swirled like warm liquid around her womanly hips.

Michelle panicked.  What would the neighbours think?  Had Henry seen him?  “Never – your reputation is sacred.  I would never do anything to harm you or disturb you family life.  Please meet me though, let us talk face to face, let me exist for one moment in your presence, savour the sweetness of your breath, hear you sweet words fall softly from lips that promise Heaven ~ if only once.”   The poor man was desperate so she relented, agreeing to meet just once ~ their attraction couldn’t be denied.

Michelle was wracked with guilt, anxious for the next taste of forbidden fruit, so much so that one day Barry noticed, saying she looked pale and sad.  Michelle explained she was bored now their son was in school, she needed some sort of stimulation.  Very proud of her artistic efforts, Barry suggested art classes.  She protested.  “They’d cost a fortune – it’s not just the lessons but also the materials – oils, canvas, charcoal was all very expensive.  We can’t afford such indulgence, just for me.”

Of course, Barry persisted, found a teacher in the yellow pages and watched as Michelle made a call to book day classes.  He pushed the Visa card towards her, told her to book everything – they’d find a way to meet the bill.  He’d some very promising clients interested in a commercial property which would bring a tidy commission ~ ‘so don’t worry your pretty head’. 

Michelle had the perfect excuse now, and carte blanche to spend on the clothes she would need for her tête-à-têtes with Henry. Whether it was the threat of discovery; indulging in a dangerous adulterous game or simply the romance making Michelle go back for more, she’ll never know.  But go back, she did.  After that first coffee in a quiet hotel lounge, she was hooked into her dream, the life she wanted to live – attractive people, living moneyed lives, visiting different, exciting places, tasting delights from all over the world. 

Henry undertook to educate her palette ~ and more.  He escorted her to restaurants and cafes frequented by only those who could afford the exorbitant prices, dressed in the latest and most expensive casual wear available, who drove Porches and old E-type Jaguars or rode BMW motorbikes. These people had no need to work; they enjoyed life in a constant round of social gatherings. She even saw lawyers riding the odd Harley and never once questioned the possibility of discovery by a colleague of Barry’s father.   Constantly she regaled Henry of her enjoyment and desire for this ‘dream’ to never end.

She always took the train into town from Whitfords, got off at Stirling Station to meet Henry in his gleaming Saab.  Immaculately dressed with that carelessly expensive air of confidence, she wallowed in his obvious admiration and generous compliments falling like soft healing rain on her damaged heart. 

Eventually she felt so comfortable and secure with Henry she confided her concerns about credit card charges and how they continually mounted even though she carefully paid what was required each month.  Henry for his part became alarmed.  Money was a sensitive issue for him.  He took pride in his lifestyle and achieved it through careful budgeting.  He would never mar his reputation with bad debts. 

The next time Michele mentioned their ‘running off together, into the sunset’ his brain clicked into reverse. Growing more concerned with every confession of financial difficulty from Michelle, he began to withdraw subtly, slowly, worried that perhaps next, she would ask him for help ~ perhaps even saw him as a way out.  He only wanted an affair, a heartfelt indulgence with a pretty, safely attached woman who wouldn’t jeopardise her marriage with public exposure or expect an elevation of status in his life.

One day, Michelle had just finished making the beds, was hurrying to leave for the train when a harsh knock sounded at the front door.  As she opened it wide, two men with shaved heads, stood clasping clipboards tightly to their chests, their feet planted squarely and unerringly in front of her door.  Deep voices with a sharp edge delivered what to them, was a routine question. They demanded her name. She told them as one of the men handed her form. 

He delivered another obviously well rehearsed speech about contacting the name on the form and turned to go. It was a summons for $12,486.00 from Bankwest.

In absolute shock, Michelle stepped back and watched the two burly men calmly walk down her path, looked right and left, as if to see anyone watching, got into their car, a dark blue late model sedan and uncaringly drove away, as her phone rang. 

On what must have been the twelfth ring, Michelle lifted the receiver to her ear.  The voice echoed from a vast distance but she heard every condemning word.  It was Mastercard.  “You have exceeded your limit of twenty thousand dollars by a further $3,213.  The card has been withdrawn and will be cancelled unless you can pay the excess within seven days.”  The click of disconnection was amplified in her head.  “What was happening? Why me!”

Distraught, she rushed upstairs, took the phone by the bed off the hook, flung herself down and let her unrestrained sobs echo through her immaculate house.  “What was she to do?  Who could she turn to?”

Barry mustn’t know how deeply in debt they were. What’ll they do next?  Will they ring him at work? He’s bound to discover her treachery one way or another.  Henry would save her.  He’d take her away from all this – he’s her Knight Errant and she’s his Maid Marion. He loves her.  They’d often talked of a life travelling the world, tasting the exotic. Perhaps the universe was telling her to follow her heart ~ her true love and destiny.

She missed the 9.30am train, pictured him waiting patiently by his gleaming car so dialled his mobile. “This service is currently out of range, please try again.”  She rang his home number and got the answering machine.  “Sorry guys – can’t answer the phone – e-mail if it’s urgent.”

Michelle raced the computer, waited impatiently for dial tone, then connection and raced straight through screens to sign on.  Yes – he’d left a message. 

Gotta go ~ been fun but I’m broke! Hope you find another bloke!”

THE END

#ShortStory:Solophyst #FrancesMacaulayForde #MadamBovary #Flaubert:Bovarysme

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POEM: Travelling Circus

Postcard of Artwork by Jessica McCallum © 2011 for ‘All The Pretty Ones Are…’ Exhibition.
Travelling Circus
 
When I was a child I remember thinking that chain around
the elephant’s leg wasn’t strong enough.  Elephants are tough!  
If he wanted he could free himself just by lifting that mighty foot
- shaking the metal loose and walking away... Why does he stay?
No-one could stop him if he chose to go - take his own path.  
So why does he kick sawdust, put up with a little lady who
leans unafraid into his ear to cup her hand and softly whisper?  
 
“Roll-up!  Roll-up!  Be prepared for wonder to lift you to the heavens!”
 
Miss Trapeze swapped four solid walls for the Big Top seduced
by the Ring Master’s red coat.  His smile dazzled her eyes, silver
tongue promised to transport her very soul, so she grabbed his hook
was lifted high above the crowd poised with one leg bent. High up
toes grip the metal tensioned wire - but will he be her safety net?
 
Fire-eating heart burns – who said it was my turn to kiss the flames, again?
 
Mr Bo, my heart jangles when your smile misses your eyes,
the face of a clown soft-shoe-shuffling through my heart...
Your contempt for my feelings broke something inside.
You judged me harshly; unworthy, beneath your regard.  
In total disgrace, I slunk away to heal.  I needed to breathe
deeply - to absorb, learn to swallow before wearing silk again...
 
Are we all clowns underneath white frills and painted masks – the ‘real’ -concealed?  
 
The Ring Master can reach a hand inside your chest and squeeze...
masquerading as a gentle man, lover, seducer he cracks the whip
- circles the horses, lets the monkeys laugh and play with careless
disarray around your heart.  I tip my hat to all who enter the ring.
 
 
Frances Macaulay Forde © 2013

#POEM:TravellingCircus #FrancesMacaulayForde #ARTIST:JessicaMcCallum #ArtIsTheSpark #AllThePrettyOnesAre #JMExhibition2011 #CircusPerformance #TrapezeArtist #Clowns #RingMaster #FireEater #Elephants

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POEM: The African Sky

1968 – Our Spanish House, Garneton, Zambia © Frances Macaulay Forde

LISTEN: https://soundcloud.com/francesmf/sets/1968-african-notebook

#POEM:TheAfricanSky LISTEN:FMFPoem #1968NotebookFMF #ReadingPoems #AfricanChildhood #KitweZambia #NorthernRhodesia #GarnetonKitwe

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POEM:Unsung Hero

It’s Spring here and I love my humble geranium; my ‘Unsung Hero’ who greets me with bright colors every day now, but also the following kind of unsung heroes, who award me by reading this page. Sorry I have neglected you lately… I will do better.

Geraniums © Frances Macaulay Forde

Unsung Hero

Pink is so stereo-typical.
Generic but also strong.
Judgement will be passed.
When the sun nuances shades
of purple and blue concealed
in perfect petals where
depth and passion settles...    

your status is confirmed.

Frances Macaulay Forde © 2013

#POEM:UnsungHero #FrancesMacaulayForde #SpringPoem #Geraniums #PinkFlowers

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Stephen Page

Author: The Salty River Bleeds, The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. Alum: Palomar College, Columbia University, Bennington College. Follow on twitter @SmpageSteve on Instagram @smpagemoria on Facebook @steven.page.1481

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