Saturday, May 30, 2009

Great VID!

Check Out


They have a neat video "VIRTUAL REP" and Ballistics gets featured twice. COOL!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Morning Prompts (2) at 07:10

M4, M5, M6, M42

A policeman in white dancing between cars

Stopping off at IKEA

I have stocks in the barn

Before, the shops are quiet, streets wait for feet

Grey brick upon grey

The day is suddenly rich, our friend

It might have worked but God was having none of it

A dirty dream of a rolling sun

I see from the paper that the last one is dead

All the needles, all the spoons


Scraping burnt-toast into the sink

Correctly, because he did it for his country

Up, down

His hands are black with blood. He loves his children.

Old, toothless soldiers

His eyes lived, but only his eyes, it was a trick

I would like to be collected

Young Christopher

Cows stumbling, enormous, slobbering cows

We were innocent then, on the banks of rivers

Who will it be, the last in the class to die, the first to live?

Sideways through the night

Prompts Ready for First-Thing Friday

I have know them all already, known them all

The water is bad

Marmalade, careful toast, butter in scrolls, tea

Talking to the old crew

That is not what I meant at all

The day of battle

The sun used to shine while we walked

I have mislaid the key

Rain all through the night, nothing but rain

The village is silent, except for the sound of the smithy, bang, and bang

I am traveling from the borders of sleep

Here love ends

I weep like a child for the past

She bathes and I watch, delirious

He climbed in the dark, looking for the sweet air

My little boat, my love

Her skin is soft, but something in her eyes is hard

I saw a naked man

The land here throws a finger at the sky

I drop a question in your hand

I am dying, I am dying. We are all dying


The water recedes. It's mark remains

Groping along the wall, step, stumble, step

The soot that falls from chimneys

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Prompts 07:30 Thursday

What’s happening feels like a story

You run towards her even though you know it’s too late

I am not sure what this means or what it will mean

As the man dies she does not know what to do

Standing in the Rain

My neighbours’ gardens

Which is to say, go fuck yourself

Some said it was Satan, others God

In small rooms with small light and small breaths

I would prefer to be nice

Various Churches


Chairman, The Sad Bastard Club

The sound of clanking tracks

They have fitted me with harness and saddle


That night the sea went out and the beach was broken glass

The wind rose up, we knuckled down

Rorke’s Drift

They are taking down the last tree

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Prompts at 11:09 Wednesday

Last night, had I been sleeping

Beat Me, Hammer Me

There is never enough water

Dark, dark and dark-dark coming

We climbed through steepening woods, smelling pine, earth

The old cowboy always died

A Man, a Woman, yet they are not quite together


Her herbs are not as impressive as my potatoes

Love me like you breathe

The foam of dirty oceans beats against the land

What is blocked in us, you, me?

Some bastard nicked the plums from the bridge.

Too tired to turn back, just going

The Book Man

Take it or Take it.

When I get home

Gassing natives is fine, says Mr Churchill

The power in a horse’s chest

A furlong by a chain, my Lord

When I came out of the bathroom

Uncertainty, beautiful uncertainty

August the First, everything shiny

Father forgive me, for I have fucked around a lot since last confession

It was a time of fools and genius

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Prompts Almost Before Noon

Talking over trains


It was here this morning

Sunday, when I was even born

They are marked on the map in red


From Mountain Tops to Valley Floors

Of Twisted Fingers and Twisted Hearts

Cutting Honey

Cracks are appearing everywhere

Homage to Spike Milligan, May His Aim Never Falter

And Cats Shall Run Over Cars

I hear dirty geese coming in like Stukas

Central Line

Someone has stolen the buttercups and daisies

I dare you to dare me to dare you to dare me

Basically, I don't give shit

Frogs and Toads

I am finished for the day

Do you believe in Dog?

I celebrate my corruption

Sorry your upload is illegal

My love, slicing bread and butter, pouring tea

Monday, May 25, 2009

More Pictures, More Prompts

The way dry dirt sucks water

The next part of this involves the sound of boots

We were five miles out when Jones threw away the oars

Small budget, Big hearts

Nothing ever happens twice, it just looks that way

The camera that saw people

What I mean is NO.

A Sparrow freezing to death

It's a cold evening, fishermen unbuckle their boats

I think of Porthcawl

Chairs, Table, China, Knives

A child looking from a train

You might hear who you are from a stranger

It's hard waiting for the potatoes

Pictures & Words (Prompts) 08:07 Monday 25th

It wasn’t something she’d intended
Midnight, and horses came, led by the whitest one
On lawns as smooth as shining glass

It is four in the morning
The press of dancing bodies
The city shrinks

When I would stare at lovely clouds in Heaven
The sound of angry fists on wood
Fruit of the wrong colour
When we travel to see the eclipse, that feels wrong
History is just one view

I might as well cut my own trail
Hold the time!
He loved her like a snake loves a mouse
Standing on a chair to reach the light
How the fog seeps
This is us, black & white, no argument

Business as Usual
I was with her, waiting, the sirens were a long way off
Lying like a cheap watch
He had to kill the dog first
He ran, with pebbles in his throat
The Collier’s Wife
Somewhere near Charing Cross
Mary Jones was twelve years old
Some places are just sad
Signed: Arbuthnot Grimes, Deceased.
Her mother’s name was Tears

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Prompts Sunday 15:55

The ground falls sharply
May, the wind is wet, slapping in off the sea
One day I shall find my skin again
Taking Dad’s bets down to the bookie’s runner
It is calmer here, amidst the danger
Dinner together, as if it was our last meal.
We worship electric gods
When I enter the hospital where my father is dying.
NOT Not breaking the law
Your fingers are swollen
They told me to shave off my hair
In the silence of my room
I think about zimmers and high-waisted trousers
We don’t like it when you kill one of us
They rescued me, fixed my leg
It’s early, almost six o’clock
On the table, two small photographs
They are killers, but they smile at the small children
All my birthdays coming at the same time
Damn this place
Where all that money went missing
Things that are hidden, into the light
To ride wild horses, drink with wild men
The eyes were gone, the heart
As you go on it gets harder
On holiday with the public executioner
Do you know REAL darkness
Songs of praise
The trail dies
With hindsight, of course, I might think different
I step in, it’s warm, I go deeper

On Photographs & Writing

On Photo Prompts

I see this morning, a book launched, Twenty Photos, Twenty Stories where every story in the book is joined by the photograph it comes from. See here:

My story “Miguel Who Cuts Down Trees” came from a series of unconnected (but all haunting) photographs, most of which I saw at an exhibition in the V&A Museum.

At Writing Courses we regularly toss out photographs and magazines and ask all the writers to find 1-2-3 pictures that, for them, ache. Those words, for them, are important.

Dorothea Brande, in “On Writing”, once wrote how two writers seeing something will not react the same. For one the image or incident might not “connect”. For the other the image might cut to the bone, go to the soul, open up dark caverns, release memories.
Brande explains that when things “connect” like that, whether we know it or not, there is something primitive going on, possibly a repressed memory, maybe (this is me) the image connects because of tribal memory, or ghosts, or possession. Who knows (and why should we care?) What matters is we can feel the photograph SWELLING. It has power. The photograph is like a poetry prompt but probably stronger, richer, more resonant, echoing. Bleeding, pulsating.

Can anyone look at the plane hitting the tower and not get a visceral response? Can we look at the belly-swollen child, flies on her face and not feel?

Photographs, move us, great photographs move us greatly.

If you’re stuck for ideas, blocked, or worse, just “flat” search out some photographs and let them do their work on you.

270 Words

Sunday Morning

We lay together after sex, dead angels

Throwing my cap in the air

Daffodils, Catkins, Pussy-Willows

Sunlight and shallow water

A snake slithered over my book

Praise turns to dust

I know how to build a canoe

Such a small wound

Is there anything sadder than fallen houses?

The buses couldn’t make it up Caerau Road, the men got off to push

Their children

Miss Duffner and Miss Wilce, they were, were…

Amaretto, poems, fire

Thank-you for the photographs. Is that really me?

We can start at the top and work our way down

Mrs Bartholemew, Oh, Mrs Bartholemew

Outside it’s raining


I am hungry, I have clothes.

In German, “clever” is an insult


My shirt that scares of flies

You wallow in your folly

Tom Evans beats his wife and she is silent

It is dark up there

Using Prompts

On Using Prompts to Find Stories.

Every day in Boot Camp we post at least one set of prompts. These are help around road-blocks, ways to find new directions, grit in the oyster, small, odd elements to make your thoughts a little different.

It is rare we post less than ten. We sometimes post as many as twenty-four. Writers can use one prompt, two, or twenty-two and they can use prompts exactly, partially or use them as inspiration and not directly use them at all. For example, I might post “Hickory-Dickory Dock” and a writer might think of mice and clocks and write about cuckoos. The point is to break out of the box.

Some writers, especially beginners, might freeze when they read a list of prompts. Well, first, remember, no-one says you must use these, any of these, or yesterday’s, or any prompt we have posted. The prompts say, “write”, that is all, and if the prompts help you, fine, if not, that’s OK too.

But I believe that freezing before a prompts-lists is like how sometimes, when we are told to read a boom (remember school?) we see only words, and even when we try to read “naturally” all we hear is a monotonous voice, and every line is treacle.


Read the list of prompts, go loose, be drunk, from the top to the bottom, from the bottom to the top. Try chanting them or singing them, combine them, alter their order. 49 times out of fifty some of the prompts will stick to you. Often it is not ONE prompt that hits you but two together, as a combination, as an echo. Look for the rhythms in lines. Presume nothing, allow yourself to be seduced.

Many of our prompts are poetry, lines either directly from poems, or similar lines tweaked a little. (Many lines, while being written are prompted themselves by lines from poetry, so are original, but cousins of the poem.

Understand that the line or its cousin contain. They hold my thoughts or the poster’s thoughts, and the poet’s and, deep within, his society and history and the literature he stands upon. A poem has DNA, a family-tree. We have to open up, though, to feel it.

I am a poor reader of poetry yet, every day, as I flick through books of poetry I am struck by lines. Not only are they sometimes beautiful alone, but I feel them resonate, pulse, echo ages, smell of sex. I hear the poet breathing.

Once that never happened. Once it was just words.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Morning Prompts 07:20

We were more or less accomplices

Old men reading newspapers

But she came to me, whispering, sucking, when she chose

Your gesture is appreciated

It is a trim accountancy

The air is poison

Hear careless children in the schoolyard, dancing on bones

It is kind of you to come

I loved my lover and I tried to love my wife

You drag out your days on your knees


I remember once, a nurse, not of my country

A face that called me deep, and echoing

The daily struggle ends in whispers

From what we have gathered we are not alone

A sadness waits here, like a tick in grass

Frankly, it would be nice to pause a while and take a drink

See death fly by confused

She loved a man who said he was a singer

They are all holier than I

What I believe is like a light across the moor

I stumble forward but the ground is treacherous

Every city has its ghetto

Of childhood, most, I remember fears

My name is Elias Jones, I have been dead these weeks

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Night Prompts 20:15

The small summer droops

We move at speed

We set out earthen jugs and water

My mother and my father sang, but not together

Again and again, horses, horses, horses

I am in no way eminent though I have dined with kings

I want a girl with white, white skin

It is the same, I think

A Chapel, but no garden and no view

I stole a bullet

I try to remember me, a boy, always forgetting he is dead

Aunties are fat, or stand like brooms, they are never in-between

Fat Moonsky

A bride with anger in her eyes


If all the blood, all the blood, a lake, an ocean?

Tell them about your country

I would die for seeing her

Really, it was being locked away

This is no place for ambition

They will shutter all this up

Friday Evening Prompts

There are places I don't go

Is this where God hides?

Where can I go then, from the smell?

Just an ordinary, bald man, from the bald mountains

John Corner

I see the girls with yellow teeth and wicked smiles

He is soured by years of celibacy

Too far, too far, too far

The sheep are grazing above the village

Twelve Angry Men

Do not go to the woods. They say there is a poet there

You Have Mail

We are a people thinned out by war, and old.

Diesel is not Petrol, and Vice Versa

I found a dead poem, slowly rotting, being picked over by critics

There are cries in the dark

We have heard these things before. We have heard these things too often

I will switch to another author

And you, my father

Civilisation walks on an edge

All day it has rained, and we are cold

They have built their tents above us

I sleep.


PS Buy a copy of Ballistics! Save SALT

Ongoing Blast

Why not join the Boot Campers who are "blasting", trying to write a piece a day through until the end of June

Prompts are Here >

Reminder: Ballistics: Salt

If you almost thought, almost bought a copy of Ballistics to help SALT PUBLISHING, but then didn't push through, please do.

If you love the short-story, help this fine publisher.

No charity involved, no subsidy, just buy a book (or two)

One day you might have a collection
and discover there are no SS publishers.

Prompts 08:50

A World to Build
A bag of six-inch nails, facts, a bag of brass screws
The Sequel First
Rain holding on, the dark branches
Small against the mountain
After the sun stares, glaring at nothing
Dead City
She wears the grief, deep to the bone
The other day she stopped me in the street
As he grows older, older
But when I think of Eliot
We are the women of the terraces
They tug reluctant daughters through slanting rain
The coal smells, the streets are black
Travels by iceberg
The Church of Clinking Glasses

or a story beginning: I do not ask you to believe me, only let me speak.

or a story ending: It was small, efficient, final

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Prompts 21 May 16:50

A white, fine skull, full up with darkness
And only heralded to the gaudy spring
A female, aged about twenty-two
And tender churl, mak’st waste in niggarding
And the rustling blood
But as the riper should by time decease
A bag of six-inch nails
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes
Dogs barked for me
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel
A tractor broke open the grave
From fairest creatures we desire increase
I heard the hooters blowing up and down the valley
His tender heir might bear his memory
I follow my mother in from the car
If this was America I’d stop running
In the night he was delirious, shouting of lions
Like stiff new boots
Making a famine where abundance lies
Officially described as a steelworker
On Sundays they play tennis in the park
Owain was ill today
Pity the world or else this glutton be
Seeing only our reflections in bottomless pools
She is a tree in winter
Sing me a tin-bath song
Some plague or violence came
Ten years ago, my father
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die
The mathematics of sunshine
The poorest house in the street
The women come with baskets
The wood has rotted, the mud has won
There is bleeding in Newport
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament
We were sitting having tea
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self so cruel
When a stream of visitors arrived
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.
We stare at each other, dark into dark
Within thine own bud buriest they content
White on a black sky
A buzzard watches

Ballistics x 4

I'm delighted to say that we sold four copies of Ballistics tonight (and 5 on the weekend)

Thanks to all.

Save the Short-Story!

21st May Prompts Set 1 00:15

The Corner House

Let the blood-sucking bat

We will not remember dying

Twelve hours, give or take a week

Planes explode

Between the belly and the mind


I am finely honed beneath this

You can be my furry godmother


You are neither bread nor knife, nor are you butter


I think they killed him off because he was fat

Mud so black with coal it burned

Touch me, remind me

We tripped lightly along the ledge

Thin, flat battery

It’s about time, or God, it varies

This is the hard-work part of love

I only claim for the four homes

You can die

Behind the ropes like the seagulls

Castor Oil & Malt


The first sound, the last thing I will see

Seems the Normans were right bastards

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Save the Short-Story

Folks, I heard on the grapevine that SALT PUBLISHING
have had a serious drop in cash-flow and really need some urgently

If we could all of us buy just one book
(but I guess a few more would be a good thing)
that would surely help a lot.

If you don't have a copy of Ballistics order one today, PLEASE.

I think if you order direct it's better for them, but you can order through Amazon or a bookshop, anywhere

Ballistics: Alex Keegan

ISBN 978-1-84471-477-3

Maybe you could buy 1-2 of mine as presents, help two causes at the same time?

(Smile at this point)

Save the short-story. Support short-story publishers.


20 May Second Prompt Set

Red Ring

Her I come to view a voiceless ghost


The enduring fascination of the difficult

I have met them each at close of day

Turning and turning and turning

Half-Term Activities in Milton-Keynes

We rested on a gate

Violence after violence,; violence upon violence.

Lake Geneva

Softly, on the evening, I hear a woman singing

There are days when life roars at us

And I was filled with such delight

It was a short war, and fairly neat


You and I, and the evening lying down before us

When the boys come back

There will be time, there’s always time unless it doesn’t matter


Fuck April. It is crueller to be alone in August

Death has undone us.


A hairdresser called Phoebe


I was walking along the Kennet, hoping


Trying out TWITTER,

I am on there as AlexKeegan136 (all one word)

08:10 More Prompts

20th May 2009-05-20

At the violet hour, when the eyes turn upwards

The Nine Fridays

We live lives our parents did not know

Once there was marsh here, men came in fear

She has fire that flashes in her eyes

Nobody steps in the same river twice, it changes

Or Bambi

It is not what we have built, it is what we knocked down to build


After lunch you said you wanted to pick flowers

Oh indeed my wife is handsome

I make the tea. I am quiet

Father Maloney’s glass eye

There is a boat on the river

The smell of meat on the air

They are selling the usual stuff

I live in you

A lost tribe is singing

Burnt-out buses

The zombie I met in Tesco

Circle into square and into circle

For days now I have been under house arrest


None of the substitutes work, but they are cheaper

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prompts. Set 1

A way with words
Alternatively books from both authors will be available at the centre
She grinds my eyes with answers far too short
Moored of Eritrea
Speaking of trees, fuck me with birds
Avro Lancaster Owner's Workshop Manual
The room is breaking out
For quality control purposes, calls may be recorded
This is the time and place to be alive
Lie to me
You weren't well or really ill yet either
Blood & Rage
Perhaps with help from my enemies
What makes us human
I did not imagine being old, or waiting here
The naming of parts
Or maybe Zulus
The next available agent
That Easter I was a few minutes late, but nothing to go on about
Here is a tricky question
We cannot take our eyes of the young
It could be seen as bribery
Back gardens, back gardens, back gardens, satellite dishes
Hanging like an old balloon

Fancy a Writing Blast?

Ex-BCers, Current BCers
Suck-it-and See-ers

Today is May 19, it's six full weeks to the end of June, 42 Days

Who wants to aim for some tough targets? A piece a day (minimum)
42 pieces in the 42 days?

It's not tough. It's just a case of ATTITUDE

19-25 May
26-01 May-June
02-08 June
09-15 June
16-22 June
23-30 June

If you are not BC, then you won't have the BC Crit Grid
and we can't promise any critical feedback, but you CAN join in the fun
and see what is possible when working with a motivated group

Or you can sign up with BC for a month with 2 weeks
extra thrown in and got the whole hog

email me alex.keegan(atsign)