Tuesday, June 30, 2009


SOME OF US had a very successful June "Blasting" but nevertheless probably wasted too much time on Facebook and other places.

So here is the deal for JULY

Join my Facebook group (JULY COLD TURKEY WRITERS) to write every day, BUT (here is the rub) other than getting your prompts, you must not look at emails or the web AT ALL until you have completed your daily minimum word-count.

SO if your minimum daily WC is 500 words, no internet access until you've written the 500

Trust me, your productivity will ROCKET

Join my group but only if you seriously intend to try this.

July 01 Prompts

Prompts for July 1st

The Complete Book of Knots

The mortal lady of our tale

Distantly related to the more famous Stan

Blackpool in December, Jesus Christ!

I am in my workroom

Tail-End Charlie

52 Ways of Looking

What We Believe But Cannot Prove

Spectacles, Testicles, Fags & Matches

I fell in love with an enigma

and the prompts below

A Nightingale Sang
Seven Uses for a Hedgehog
Hello Vera
The Bodyshop
As You Like It
Glow in the Dark
Eating out of my Hand
Paint Stripping
Twins, Bodies
Do You Want Chips with That?
Silver Water
Chocolate Purple
Indian Summer Days
The Beach Hut
The Rattle of Stones
Not About my Father
Up to My Ears
The Tutor

Monday, June 29, 2009


I am not religious, not even sure I believe in God, but I AM getting more and more "spiritual" as I age.

Things seem to happen to me in too many mysterious, amazing ways that they do not feel like accidents.

One partial example. My Dad is dead now but years ago, when I was still a dreamer, I asked him, "What did you REALLY want to do with your life, Dad?" and his answer, without any historical context was mind-bogglingly odd.

"I always wanted a little small-holding in Ipswich."


This was a steelworker from South Wales! Why a small-holding in Ipswich?

Part II

A few months ago I had a phone call from a woman asking if my Dad was "Ron Jones, RAF, born approx 1918"

He was all three.

"Well," said the lady, "My mother was born-out-of-wedlock from a liaison between HER mother and this RAF chappie..."

Gran was a WRAF. Are we getting warm here?

So I do my research. Gran served in East Anglia, but nobody knows where. BUT my research (I got my father's war records) suggested he never went NEAR Ipswich.

Then, while teaching a creative writing course in Wales,I got an email from a chap who served in my father's unit in WWII. This chap was actually on the same Landing Craft as my Dad going in to North Africa.

Interesting, spiritual, warm, life-filling (but no Ipswich)

Then accidentally I deleted the email and emptied my trash.

Took a week to find the guy again and we chat on the phone and he says, "When we were posted FROM IPSWICH to Loch Fyne"

I get an out of print book on the 3202 Servicing Commando from Alibris and there, sure enough, they trained at Ipswich before their commando training in Scotland.

Oh WOW, I may have a half-sister somewhere.

I once won a story comp (£300 thank-you) and the story title was, "Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet & Watch"

The name of the book I bought?

"Spectacles, Testicles, Fags & Matches."




Digging up Old Stories

I was talking about various things and remembered a story...

This was PUBLISHED 12 years and two months ago (first in the Southern Ocean Review) so I may have written it 13 or more years ago.

The Mistress

Tom is watching a movie with his mistress when something in the story-line touches him, and breaks through his well-constructed façade. His defences breached, he thinks of his son and his small daughter. He begins to cry soundlessly. When his mistress realises her lover is upset, she tries to be kind, but her kindness makes the guilt worse and Tom snaps at her. She doesn't understand.

They see out the film, leave, go to a restaurant. The waiter is an old friend, and Tom nods to him, orders garlic bread, then fresh Turbot. He also orders a litre of red wine, and a malt which he will drink while he waits for the bread. His mistress is tentative. She takes one glass of the wine and nibbles at it. When Tom has drunk his whisky and a glass of wine he reaches out a hand to her and she takes it. Tom squeezes her hand and he mouths, "I love you." He means it absolutely.

When they leave the restaurant Tom and his mistress walk a short distance arm in arm; to a little and expensive Victorian town-house. Inside, the door barely closed, they kiss and things progress. They fuck royally on the lowest stair but only when he has virtually eaten her, and she has mewed her delight, and he has felt so proud.

But then, when they go up to bed, Tom's mistress says nothing. She knows that every gesture of affection and any word of love can remind him. Sex is their shield. Tom's mistress walks a razor's edge but where it is sharp their life is still tremendous. They still lust after each other, like neither has ever lusted before, and when they reach their bedroom, still silent, she strips naked, stands above him, then drops down. She swallows him whole and tastes herself, then she climbs aboard him, controlling, to rock him to sleep. Afterwards, he slides into a special darkness which does not quite satisfy. He will not remember his dreams.

Tom's mistress would like to cook for him, but Tom doesn't like to stay in. Instead, they eat in good restaurants and joke with waiters. Once Tom loved the meals his mistress prepared, their quiet nights, the candle-lit nights, but now he doesn't want her to cook, he doesn't want to soften. And when his mistress dresses or undresses, though Tom is aroused and desperate, he prefers her simple, the lights dim. And when they play music, let it be the CDs they bought together, nothing older, HMV, Virgin, their times away in London, Paris, Amsterdam.

They never watch television now. Occasionally he will read and his mistress will curl up with the telephone, whisper to a friend, sometimes laugh. He pours her wine, himself a whisky.

He had realised long before it finally happened, but he loved his children almost as much as he hated his wife and he had thought himself capable of control, of strength. But then one day he was walking with his mistress, who was not then his mistress, towards Margaritas, for yet another lunch-time pizza. Innocent of course. They were walking behind a friend called Mike and some lady called Pauline down the crisp off-white pavement by the park.

He spoke quietly. His hand was inside her elbow, gently slowing her. He watched the back of the other two. Mike was happy, his arms everywhere, telling another outrageous joke.

Tom felt mature. He said, "Claire, I've got a problem;" then he hesitated and for some reason changed sides, moving outside her, nearer the road, "Claire, about lunches, about spending all this time with you. It's not just lunches now. I don't think of you as just a friend any more."

She had taken his hand. She had squeezed it, lifted it to waist height with a second firmness, then gently released him.
"If you want to stop going..." he said weakly.
"I don't," she whispered, "let's just carry on."

The lunch was a dream and when Tom spoke he heard himself. He had sat the same side of the table as his mistress, now his mistress, the inches closer that couples sit, sensuously, in each other's private space, their arms brushing, their thighs achingly close, shared moist air between their separate bodies.

By dessert he was turned towards her. He had a foot on the rung of her chair, his knee up as he talked lightly and sipped a liqueur. Occasionally, as she talked to the others, she would rest an arm or a hand on the muscle above his knee.

Later, when they had returned to work, he made mugs of coffee and scattered them round the office with precision. Claire got hers last. She was typing like a machine gun and breathing deeply, sensing him, waiting for him to come near.

He had rehearsed casualness. "Coffee, no sugar," he said close to her ear, but it sounded more like, "I love you!" His mistress took the mug and clasped it two-handed in front of her face, steam rising from it to lick around her glasses. Tom left and went to his office but his voice fluttered when he phoned and spoke to clients.

He fought for a fair time, aware he had fortitude but neither real courage nor strength. He knew he could no more avoid being with his mistress than he could give up loving his children, but he could, for a hopeful, self-deluding while, avoid fucking her, as if this act of non-action somehow excused him from the everyday crime of loving her and hating the mother of his children.

But oh, how he dreamt of his mistress, avoided her! How in the pinewet dripping forest he ran too hard, so long, so punishingly that his feet bled! And how he painted things, built things up, took things down, and read and argued and drank and sang, anything, anything, but spare himself the dark imagination, the scent of her, the eventual deep heat of her, the suicide, the giving up.

And he knew he would know the look, that look in her eyes, the timid power blurred by tears, that massive victory, that, he would remember. The late explosion, when it eventually would come, would be a comma not an exclamation, and he would remember only falling.

It was winter when Tom and his mistress finally got together. One night, she had cried, and he had simply not gone home. The next day, by phone from work, he told his wife. He was ashamed, and on the following Saturday his wife met him with his children in MacDonalds. He couldn't speak without shaking. His wife explained in front of him, that Daddy would be away this week, then she said they had to get back to the car and to hurry and kiss their father goodbye.

She left him an alarm clock, clean underwear, shirts, and a photograph of him with the kids. When the children hugged him, behind their backs he saw his wife's face, the cruellest victory barely masked, a whirling, bursting joy at his terrible mistake, so filling her up he thought she would explode into laughter.

That night, that first night, when he and his mistress had made love, if you could call it that, on a borrowed blanket on a borrowed floor, by a dying fire, in the cottage of her friend who suffered their mistakes and didn’t like him, it was love, at least love was there, but her partner had hovered, his wife had hovered, and the friend’s bedroom had creaked. The love act, it was something that had needed to be done, so had been done, some rubber-stamp, some symbol, an act to parade, a red flag to make something elsewhere absolute. He knew he had wanted to make himself leave.

Of course there were times, sober, quieter times, when Tom tried to explain to his mistress why they no longer laughed. At first he thought to blame the business, how, raging with success like a rampant cock he didn't have the time. And the money, the power, the two of them, drunk with the blackness of it all, driving through the ruins of the half-lives of others, ignoring amber lights, the warning signs, getting things done, all that, he said, didn't leave room for the petty, mere laughter.

"But," he said, "I love you and I could not love you more."


And they settled, they found a one-bedroomed place and he found whisky. Then one night, her face dark red, she screamed that he disgusted her and that he was fat, and he stopped drinking whisky and went jogging. The next night, when they made love he was cruel and hurt her and she told him she loved him and nothing, nothing was as good as this. And they took another holiday. When they came back they found the Victorian cottage, bought it quickly, then bought a good stereo system, talked about another holiday.

That weekend, Tom's children visited the new house. They were polite and they shook his mistress's hand. Then she went shopping and Tom's son played with the new stereo. When Tom's mistress returned the children had gone. Tom said he was thinking of taking them to Disney World. His mistress nodded. She cooked him creamed chicken and rice but didn't eat hers. Afterwards, they drank two bottles of ice-cold white wine and sat in the dark, listening to Elton John. They went to bed. In the morning she told him the holiday was all right with her, but one week, not two and he said a week was lousy value for money, but OK.

Orlando was hot, Disneyland crazy, and he was ardently foolish, dressed down to be like his kids, trying every ride, eating lunches at The Hard Rock Café, pizzas at night. His mistress swallowed her pride, fought the tears and laughed, went brown in the sun, went swimming with his boy, took photographs of the three of them, made love silently in the night. But when Tom was alone with his daughter, his daughter would shake her head, pull up her knees and ask, "How Dad? Why? She is so ugly!"

And Tom would shake his head too, and then smile sadly at his daughter and explain yet again that his mistress did not cause him to leave their mother. He just fell out of love, that was all.
But his daughter knew different.

After Orlando, Miami, even hotter - they had compromised on ten days - and in the islanded Keys he was wilder, even more child-like trying jet-skis, deep-sea fishing, even a barn-storming red biplane that sprayed him and his son with a faint film of hot oil. And for the first time she mentioned the money that poured through his fingers and his voice was raised in anger, not sadness and he said, "I love my kids, is that so hard to understand?"
And she looked at him differently, paused, then said, "Yes."

At the airports she walked fractionally behind the three of them, and she flinched when she heard Tom say they had to do it again. For the first time she wondered about David and how once upon a time, her life had been so simple. She had to remind herself that it had been unhappy too. She looked at Tom. Vaguely, she considered what having his child would be like, but as she looked at the back of his head she knew it would never happen.

Then one night Tom explained. He loved her absolutely. It was not them. He had never loved anyone so completely, so deeply. It was not them, it was the shadows, the others, the shadows of the things he had once created, the echoes, the ripples, the whispers; his wife's parents, her friends, his friends who liked her as much or more than him, the prickled skin of his children, the politeness that burned and left the air tainted with civility. He wanted to relax. He wanted to relax, that was all; he said. He hadn't known that love could be so painful or so wearing.

And he thought, "This is because you are my mistress, this is what they see. They don't see you, not the woman. You are a thing, a thing set apart, the cause of others' pain."

Then he spoke aloud, "But you're not, Claire. It's not fair. We fell in love, that was all. It was nobody's fault."
"Not what?" she said.
"It doesn't matter," he said.

And slowly she began to bend under the weight of his family, her bright, proud head lower, her eyes faintly dimmer. And though they still fucked well, and though they still fucked often, it was all of a sad darkness now and the explosions were painted red, and she began to wonder, could she walk away, even now, even after this third anniversary, could she walk away? And she thought, only if I can make him angry, only if I can make him say it, and she started to ask it, "Are your children more important than me?"

And every time he would say no, and they would drink and hold each other, and she would dream dark dreams and he would think I must suffer being in love still, and though he contemplated his own death he knew he could not accomplish it, not until the children were sixteen, and instead, he would whisper her name and slip his hands between her legs, and on the lower stair they would fuck again and he would sleep a while.

2,277 words

Not Enough Hints for Mrs Golightly

Thinking of Bridport (deadline tomorrow) I recall this article of mine from a while back and published in the Internet Writers Journal.

Please note the article is not sour grapes.

Not Enough Hints for Mrs Golightly

I recently picked up a second prize in a magazine competition, then in the issue announcing the winners I read from a subscriber: "Dee, A Dancer stood head and shoulders above the other competition entries. It's the only time I have ever been moved to give nine out of ten for a story."

PS, this is neither about "my writing" or "my story"...

Another reviewer wrote: "Dee, A Dancer gets under our moral body-armour and imparts an unacceptable feeling which robs our black- and-white judgment of absolute certainty...sensitive writing. A third reviewer wrote "I like the neutral tone to convey powerful stuff," another thought Dee was the most enjoyable story, but awarded marks to another for originality. Then a fifth reader said, despite awarding top marks: "the husband doesn't know what's wrong, fair enough, but I was frustrated that he, the writer, couldn't have dropped more hints that the reader could make sense of".

Yet, to others "Dee, A Dancer was insubstantial." "Depressing and self-conscious" and another "didn't understand the end. Was it only this reader or did others think that the last paragraph had slipped in from another story?" And third critic said "Dee, A Dancer tried confusedly and unconvincingly to relate."

If I ever actually understand that last sentence, I promise to let you know, but ignoring that, the whole experience leads me to wonder and to worry about the state of much of the short-story market. I have talked in the past about the "disease of competence" and at least three editors have confided in me that they daren't "push it too far", that they often dare not print material which taxes the reader at all. They tell me wanting quality is all very fine, but not at the expense of a readership. Though I might pretend to understand this, what this eventually means is that the safer (and often lack-luster) "decent" stories, find their way into the magazines, competitions are often won by these safe and easy (but smoother than the others) stories, and the readers think this is the norm, the top end of the mid-quality literary canon. Beginners imagine these are the story types to aspire too. The result? More blandness, and yet more authors dropping in hints that the character wouldn't know (terrible art, but we must keep Mrs Freda Golightly of Chiswick happy. She votes!)

Alice Munro would struggle, Borges would be laughed out of the room, Carver would be dismissed probably because he was "too thin".

My question is, where, below the top five-six American magazines, and the few dozen magazines based on American University campuses does a writer go if she wants to push beyond the easy-to-swallow general fiction that is often seen in many of the small British magazines?

I can take three of my stories, one near my best quality, rich and literary, a second, lighter, less ambitious, and a third a lightweight, relative failure. If I enter these three in a competition I can predict the outcome. The best flops, the mid-range is short-listed and the make-weight gets a prize! This hasn't happened just once, it's happened maybe five, six a dozen times. Why?

One why is "readers". Many volunteer readers for competitions, those who narrow down four thousand entries to a more manageable couple of hundred stories, have been raised on the mid-range "easy-to-swallow" magazines I've already mentioned. Many are writers or aspiring themselves. Often, I think, they choose, not the best work, not the most enjoyable, but the best works that they could imagine themselves writing. That is, if it's tough, if it's something currently that bit of an extra reach for them, it's dismissed as "arti-farty" or "intellectual junk" or perhaps "self-conscious" or "MFA stuff".

The result? Even if the final judge is Saul Bellow, what he gets to see are those stories where we've put in the crude make-it-easy-for-Freda bits, removed a few allusions, kept it under the glass ceiling. The poor judge gets two-hundred plain vanilla me-too stories, stories that (ask any judge) he can't remember a month later.

But does Ray Carver's "A Few Good Things" get forgotten? Do people forget the baby in "The Shawl" or the abortion scene in "Differently," the fisherman's boots in "The Ledge"?

I know the owners of magazines have a terrible dilemma, but doesn't something need to be done? Reader, ask yourself. Think of the copies of little magazines you have on your shelf, or the ezines you've read. Now close your eyes. What stories do you remember? Which ones got under your moral radar, which ones subverted you, changed you, even if only for a while. Can you remember ANY of the stories?

Someone once said, "Be one per-cent different and they call you a genius, be two-percent different they call you mad; five per-cent different and they kill you." The problem with much of the short-story market, particularly the competition-driven market is "different" never means "tougher", different never means asking the reader to think, to move through emotional application, into a greater realization, change. Different means, the same plus a one-liner, what I can do, with a twist.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Feedback on Capel Bethel Course

I have learnt more in one weekend of Alex Keegan's Bootcamp then I have in all my writing practice to date. Bootcamp equals action. From morning to night, there are endless discussions on writing and life. These are filled with intensity, laughter, the dawn of understanding and plenty of writing. Bootcamp is focused and directed, unfocused and indirected - the two complementing each other to give writers the perfect approach to the craft. Alex is a wonder and I'm booking my place on the next course. I've also connected with other writers and found new friends.

The chapel which is right in the centre of Llwyngwril is a beautifully converted space. Upstairs, you'll find a large open plan living-kitchen space where writers hunker down around the 12-seater table or sprawl about on the many sofas. Distractions include: Wifi, Bar billiards, a massive TV, books, DVDs and music. If you want to preach then the pulpit is yours for the taking. Downstairs there are bedrooms with comfy memory foam mattresses, bathrooms with power showers and an enormous roll top bath. There are books and pictures everywhere.

A hill stream rushes down through the village of Llwyngwril to the sea. The takes ten minutes to walk from the chapel to the beach - there are also other fantastic walks all around. There's a village shop (with cash back and booze!), post office, cafe and pub. The village also has its own train station and you can get a return, if you pre-book with Virgin trains, to London and back for about £25.00.

Runners Who Write; Writers Who Run

Morning Folks.

I am on Facebook as AlexBootCampKeegan (all one word) and I have just started a group called

Runners Who Write; Writers Who Run

The following is a note I've posted on FaceBook about it. If you write ad run (should be BOTH, that's the point) then why not join me?

I have only run three hours in the last 4-5-6 months but I was a serious veteran club runner AND I WILL BE RUNNING TODAY.

Imagine going on a writers retreat where you ran first thing in the morning and everyone was so ALIVE!

I have just finished a weekend of teaching creative writing in a very intense atmosphere, up around 0600, going to bed around 0100. That intensity was on the back of almost thirty days of non-stop, heavy-duty writing and too many late nights. I went INTO the course dog-tired.

Once upon a time, as an athlete, I would have been overjoyed at the surroundings of the chapel. All those fantastic runs, with great views. This time I went, only just recovered from an injury having done no exercise whatsoever for six weeks and abusing my body with too-long days, too much time at the computer and too much (I drink when I write a lot) wine.

But one of the ladies on the course was out first morning, out there running with the sea air in her face. Day Two I HAD to go out.

I was three stones and more (as much as fifty pounds) over my racing weight, unfit, slightly upset tummy, hungover, mentally running on empty AND WE WALKED-RAN FOR TWO HOURS.

We didn't exactly hammer things. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that our mile-running pace was nearer ten minutes than nine, but we walked up those hills, ran along the cliffs, saw an amazing blue lagoon, came back sweaty (and I was sore) but the day FLEW by and I was twice as good a teacher, full of energy again.

This is what I remember when I was running a lot (up to seventy miles a week at my peak).

The physical, mental, philosophical side-effects of running are fantastic. When I'm fit, especially through running (and carrying a lot less weight) I feel younger, sharper, cleverer and insights come so fast I can't catch them all. I used to say running "empties my head of fat".

So, I want to form a group of people who firstly consider themselves writers (whether professionals or serious non-professionals) people who wake up and 19 days out of 20 are immediately thinking, "When and where today will I get my writing space?"

Ability and publications is NOT the point, desire an seriousness, and how you define yourself is the mark of "writer". I was unpublished when my son Alex was born. On the birth certificate my wife, unprompted, put my profession down as writer. That must mean I was, even if the 350-400 publications I now have hadn't started.

And running?

Well, the definition of writer is above. My definition of runner is similar. Do you get up evry day WANTING to run? Is it your main way of being fit? You may or may not be super-slim or fast, but at some time in your past you ran seriously (say 4-5 or more days a week) and raced a bit (even if you finished way down the field.

You own running shoes, shorts, vests etc and you get somewhere and you want to run, want to run, want to run.

You might be like I am right this minute (but watch this space) grossly overweight and maybe a bit ashamed, with short-term and long-term injuries. Running might now make you breathless. You aren't supple, you may not be quite so young. There's no way you are going to enter the next County Cross-Country, and the idea of The National, try to stop laughing.

BUT, like with me last weekend, someone was going running and you HAD TO try, because that's what you are, even if you're a fat old fat, you define yourself as a runner, you want to be fit again, want to feel that sharpness in body, brain and soul.

You quite like the idea, a year down the line, of a half-marathon where every person in the field is a writer. Wouldn't that be glorious?



If you write and don't run, START.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Oxford Street!

I will be signing copies of Ballistics from 12 Noon until 4PM at

BORDERS, Oxford Street, London

Saturday July 18th

Please come along if you are in London that day and say hello.

Ballitics 3rd Amazon Review

5.0 out of 5 stars

A magician with words, 14 Jun 2009

By DJM King "david61751" (Australia)

Alex Keegan writes some of the finest short fiction around and this collection contains some of the best examples of his art.

`Ballistics', a chilling but poignant account of human anger that gives rise to disastrous consequences, was an excellent choice as the title story. Personal favourites are however those written in Keegan's inimitable Welsh voice: 'Meredith Toop Evans and his Butty Ernest Jones'; 'The Last Love Letter of Berwyn Price'; and 'The Bastard William Williams'.

Like the pauses between musical notes, the stories in this book will ring true long after the last sentence has been read. Keegan's magic lies in what is being said without the saying. His stories are never short in the real term.

David and Myra King

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New Amazon Review of Ballistics

4.0 out of 5 stars

Perfect Nuggets of Truth,

June 14, 2009
Diana Forrester "reader" (Grove City, OH)

Alex Keegan's Ballistics is a stunning collection of stories filled with grit, blood and truth. In the title story a toddler is blinded by his father's love _and_ anger. His life resonates with a need for understanding. In The Smell of Almond Polish(my favorite) Bridie Collins' life is filled with choices before it turns full circle taking her back to its beginning. In Post Cards from Balloonland, a man leaves a legacy for his children as he prepares to die. Each story contains its own nugget of truth, told perfectly, ready for you to read and ponder. You will not regret buying this book and while you are at it you should buy one for a friend

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spotted This!

Geri is by no means the only one...

Hi, All - I'm a former BCer, started with the group when it was formed back on CServe a decade or so ago (Hi, Alex, John R., Diana F., & Merc!). I have both fond memories and godawful nightmares about those days. Since then, I've written and published 7 novels - of which, book 7 made me proud by earning a good review in Publisher's Weekly and 3 out of 4 stars from People Magazine. Currently, I'm working on book number 8.

Geri Buckley Borcz

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prompts 23:30 June 11th

No sunrise, no noon, no city

When I am gone away

The night I lost you

I just need a little space

It is hard for us to get inside

We all have monsters

You could call me, if there was a point

I will lead the black horse

When I am dead, say what the fuck you like

I loved her, my dear stranger

I have walked a long way in the rain

We put his heavy body in

I keep thinking you’re still here

The deal is just for you, on the table

They are waiting somewhere near the big rock

What is, is, what goes, goes

Inside the tent, you were still breathing

I am trying to break in to the asylum

I am not just visiting

Nothing is lost, well not everything

There are no strawberries

I’ve brought some money

I woke and could hear the harbour shifting

It’s not THAT big a tornado

All night I have held your hand

It was Tennessee

I am trying to repair

Like wolves on the fold

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

9th June Evening Prompts

“Love usually does,” he said.
A red flash of something
Allowing for wind
He clapped his hands.
His heart beat so loudly he could not hear her speak
In the back of a garbage truck
My gray brother
No problems down here
Now he was smiling, “Well, piss off, then!”
Now it is far away

She danced on to his mouth
She felt as if she’d been out a month.
She knew she could do without this.
Among the dead cities
She told him she’d live with her loss.
She turned her collar up and ducked back into the day
Six blind men taking in the evening
The barman steered them to a whispy-haired old codger in the corner
The guy in the suit is a clerk
The masks didn’t protect them.
The night collapses at 2 AM
The time when the rat-people emerge
Them’s dusky types: South Americans and ayrabs
This is how the night takes us

This is the safety-catch
This should not be rushed.
This was going to be a bad weekend
You will have heard this before, often

Tuesday 9 June Prompts at 07:20

They have taken the sofa away
Slowly they are dragging themselves home, their ghosts dancing
Exposed beams
Settle for Half
He had it with him at the time of the accident

Working together for your future
I find it hard to believe
We will move him into the sun
My head aches and my body aches
I do not believe in the sum of the parts
Death like a small pink flower
At the sink and hopelessly in love with her master

A delicious softness
If our love had been in a book
Everything they said glittered
Under here, a town where people walked
I was much further out than they thought
Eat after I am dead
There’s dance tonight at the YM

The money in his name is mounting up
He disappeared in December
In the United States a policeman is shot every 53 Hours
Married to Marilyn
The blessed will not care how we look at them
Above the shops the old facades whisper of ancient sex

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Prompts Before Midnight

I confess that I was completely bewildered
Some two months ago, on an August afternoon
I met him on the square
After that I seemed to see him all the time
I remember, with painful clarity

They blamed the nurse
The doctor had soft hands and a disarming smile
We decided to live
It was a warm, still evening
He would not look at her

I am related to Herr general
Dark smoke, screaming
It can all be summed up simply
Southern Comfort
The room was dull with dull pictures and dull drapes
I recall very little of my childhood
Another official came towards us

It was nearly dark
I was on my way to Dresden
Tell me a story with not too many lies
And that was when she kissed me
The candles burned lower
I loved a soldier
He sat and played a little, then someone began singing

It was a heavy, brutal blow
A boy on a bicycle came towards us
The city rose, then softly sighed
My joy was to look in those windows

Ballistcs Gigs

JUNE 27th

I'll be signing at BORDERS, Newbury 11:30 onwards

JULY 11th

I'll be signing in Waterstones Winchester Saturday, July 11th, coinciding with The Music and Literary Festival there.



I'll be giving a reading/talk at BORDERS, Newbury after closing, in Starbucks upstairs

Prompts on Sunday Morning

Pardon the lateness of these, but just flipping through books and getting "tweaked" I managed two short poems. Well that's me complete for the day

I seem to have always known I was a carpenter
Some call this a city
I have never sat beside a river with someone beautiful and just looked
One spring a few years later
Here I am, a man of good sense
There is a certain way the light comes in

We drink it in the morning, we drink it at night
The touch of something carved
I have walked down side-streets under trees
I want to sing. I would like to play
Walking through the supermarket at night, the cans…
Nothing came from out the gloom
For you it’s no big deal, but this is my ambition
And he loved boiled sweets and sex

I would like to increase life
Why not salad for breakfast?
After swimming, down Stow Hill, extraordinarily fresh
Oxo and Bread, twopence
I miss the joy of body
If I fill my house with poems, must they all be good?
Men who take to railways or to tugs

I sat once on a lonely road, waiting for a vet’s needle
You must have had your hand up a lot of skirts
My son had not heard of Thalidomide
A word but not used up, is filled with light
We must die, or love one another.
The mere word freedom can kill
They sing such jolly songs, but they are dying, ignorant.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Writing Course June, Wales

I'm running a writing course at Capel Bethel Fri-Sat-Sun 19th-20th-21st June


The Chapel can cater for 24 people during the day, sleeps 12 in bedrooms, can sleep more.

There is a B&B next door. If the course is fully subscribed and people choose to stay there the costs of the course would be slightly reduced.

The Course

The intention to produce to near-finished stories from scratch and
to help with improving any existent ones.

Very useful for entering Bridport

Post course there will be another 9 days to tidy if necessary (if entering Bridport)
but the aim is that two stories will be finished structurally and blue-pencilled, so virtually done

The courses normally tend to be very "full-on" and for those who can hack the
pace there will be writing-talk from 7AM through to the early hours

For this course there would be writing breaks, for "relief"

If you haven't been on one of these courses and experienced just how much can change
ask around. Maybe some of the people receiving this could respond with comments?

The Chapel is fantastic. There are two double beds, six beds as bunks, two twins
and 3-4 double sofa beds... The French Oak table seats 12...

There FIVE stereos, one has an iPod Dock

There's 42" Flat (HD) screen, DVD and Blu-Ray Player (I use video occasionally to illustrate a point)

Bar Billiards Table, thousands of quality books, hundreds on writing prose and poetry

If you think that a full blue-pencil feedback on a 5K story would cost you £50-£90 the course is very cheap

£120 for the two days £150 for the three, but you are FAR better off arriving Thursday night and doing all three days

I promise you that you will be able to start 2-3-4 stories, will learn a load, can fix those stories that haven't quite worked.

I will be writing fresh alongside you all

The Chapel is at www.capel-bethel.com

also see the blog


Please respond asap


Alex Keegan
Newbury RG14 5TH

Telephone 01635-34317
Before we continue, may I just say

The street is empty, I smell smoke

I often wondered about other mothers

It's a small, pretty place, near Milford Haven

Probably isn't definitely

The hand that rocked the cradle has kicked the bucket

Slum Dog Millionaire

Perhaps I should return to my apartment

How Plaster Dries

Something in the night sky, lights

Red Sea Peril

We went kite dragging, not flying

Another storm is battering at the windows, the wind keens

Clothes lines flapping with white, the sound of children

She was, in the end, more or less unharmed


Friday, June 05, 2009

June Blast Update

The group has so far produced (at least)

42 Pieces

35,084 Words

Friday Prompts

They have killed a white bird
The woman was in a barn
I’ve put him on the transfer-list
They have filled the wells with bodies

One summer thirty years ago
Have you watched a bird kill a bird?
Streets where front doors touch the road
The softest, blackest, most beautiful bat
Talking to God is called praying; the other way round is schizophrenia
A busload of journalists burning, the firemen watching

I have dedicated myself to drink
Those who came before us
Drop the sword and use sharp words
I am blue and my friends are blue
A crap poem about a wheelbarrow
First is expectation
I am the man who holds up the shield when the women come
And nothing changed except perspective
Last night I dreamt I went to Basingstoke again
A place to suck a buck
I have accidentally started. An avalanche
Hitler and various popes, dead.
The leaf, which does not know it is a leaf, is upon a tree.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


There are, of course, loads of pictures of the Chapel

Previously known as Capel Bethel

Will be known as Capel Cader Idris

The web-site is here


(There are many Capel Bethels) This url should get you to the correct one (with Capel Cader Idris mentioned)

Special Intense Course in Wales

I'm running a course at Capel Bethel (LL37 2JU)

Fri-Sat-Sun 19th-20th-21st June

To book, please contact me

alex.keegan(at sign)btinternet.com

Intention to produce to near-finished stories from scratch and
help with improving any existent ones.

Very useful for Bridport, but useful anyway

Leaving another nine days after the course
to tidy if necessary (if entering Bridport)

The Chapel is fantastic. A purpose-designed refurbishment to run
writing schools.

There are two double beds, six beds as bunks, two twins
and 3/4 double sofa beds... the French Oak table seats 12...

Here are two shots of one of the bedrooms

FIVE stereos, one has an iPod Dock

42" Flat (HD) screen, DVD and Blu-Ray Player

Bar Billiards Table,

Thousands of quality books, hundreds on writing prose and poetry

There's telephone and broadband and a wireless network.

Four computers in-house but people usually bring lap-tops

and then there's me (cough)

Cost of the course is £120 for Sat-Sun £150 for Fri-Sat-Sun but I would strongly recommend people attend for the three days.

If you are wondering what Alex Keegan courses are like I think we can provide a few references, not the least being that Boot Campers have won more than 130 first prizes.

Prompts 4th June 15:25

I am baffled by you
Next door’s cat is shitting in my roses
He’s BEHIND you!
She whispers from the corners of her eyes, looks with a curled lip
They’re all doing a brand-new dance
Boots on white linen
An old man in a rusty wheelchair
Tell the Joker he’s not funny; give the Penguin the bird.

You and your strange ways
A story of lunches and love
The Zombie I met in Tesco
My Auntie is sad because she’s dying. My uncle is sad because he can’t.
Lovely Rita
Vinegar soaking through

I wanted to be a strange girl
Apart from that I am almost healthy
The next time I accidentally smile, tell yourself it’s wind
Eddie has the wrong kind of love in him
I missed last summer. I was in the bath

Ten Million Green Bottles.
Monica Monica Canteen Queen
The sound of padding dogs
As the rain falls, as the rain falls
A young women in an apron dreaming of the higgler
Brown paper, about this wide

07:30 Thursday 4th. More Prompts

(To York via Sheffield)
A fire breaks out on the line
A moment in time for a Cheltenham hero
All the guards and all the porters
But fifty-seven passengers
But imagine my surprise

Cool Calm and collected, up stood a porter
High Drama on British Rail
I had to post a letter that morning
In a matter of seconds
Looking for Skimble
Oh Love and you so far away. I never spoke to her but she heard every word.

Perhaps a small stick twisted through
Said this job, it will have to be mine
Someone too silly to see the obvious
Thanked the Lord that they had been saved.
The bagmen are playing cards
The bucket he carried was filled to the brim
The raging inferno was reduced to a mountain of soot

There’s a whisper down the track and a whisper coming back
We are Safe. We are Safe.
When he left nobody waved
When I was a pirate
With water (fire-outing) to put
It was true I was in a hurry
Like a butterfly breaking through

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Prompts 19:15 June 3rd

A mortgage payment, an education
Offered as a keepsake
A movie-star of Marilyn’s magnitude
A worn gardener’s hat
About sex and love and marriage
Affording a view of English society
An old rose fancier was dying

And always the bewildered queries
And make them feel her life on their flesh
Asking for money for an operation
Baffled women wanting to become wonderful
But occasionally a container of faeces would arrive
But what she is instead is hard to define

By the time of the congress
Daily the bags of mail arrived
Fifteen per cent were quite insane
Free of charge
Her wand, all sparkly and nice
I received many telegrams
As though she were a fairy
In some cases, for a fee in others.
In the Public’s imagination
Is obviously no longer human
One man invited her down a mine
Several offered to put her out of her misery
She is a form of longing

Some of the letters
That will somehow stop time for them
That’s probably unique
Addressed to her as an institution
The public holds her up before the sun
To collect its rays to a burning point
To go fishing in a Scottish lake
We invented replies
And in that sense Godlike
Without calling up the supernatural

Prompts 07:30 June 3rd

There never is enough water
Everyone will come to their front door
Long dark silence above me

The night of mothers
We should have built our houses higher
Did they speak or sing?
I have lost my tongue
One day when the sun was wicked and the fields stank
Snug as a policeman’s gun
And then my parent’s went, down a gravelled drive
Experts and other liars
In Gillian Clarke’s Porch
An old ewe not worth saving, a barn to pull down
From Bettws I could see her
Monday’s Drowning

Chairs are rising into the sky
They have come for me in a big car with dark windows
My father, reaching out
All things must close, and it wash over
The thing about geometry
On the other pillow
I have been removed from books

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Fourth Prompt Set 06:45 Tuesday June 2nd

01 There is someone here

02 Night cramp

03 Stink of dark creature

04 I want to be not in love with you

05 Suspicious-looking trucks parked in dark cul-de-sacs

06 Too many words for snow

07 A cow doesn't do housework or look in a mirror

08 Or a dirty joke

09 There are different kinds of silence

10 I watched it happening on television

11 It's a shame we are not endangered

12 Cherry Red

13 A man and a woman naked, OK as long as it's dark

14 Bully Sea

15 My You-Tube Suicide

16 Old Songs in the Background

17 This should do. Why doesn't it?

18 Festival of Crazies

19 And now she is cleansed

20 Before she was a virgin

Monday, June 01, 2009

Third Prompt Set 22:20 Monday June 1st

I am talking about California

An evening fades; there is a clatter far off

I am watching the milking

A View From the Bridge

The bath is ready

Chicken, sort of

Just off the highway between Orlando and St Augustine

Fecundity Management

She didn't bother with make-up


Sheep are desperately stupid

I have forgotten what we were like then

He is becoming invisible

I want to be a pig, a big snorty, honky PIG

I watched them once, then again

When you are old and botoxed and wired on caffeine

It was the joy in you that persuaded me

Second Prompt Set 16:23 June 1st

Indian Food in Piccadilly

It's a problem with John, the dark eyes

I have no preconceptions

I didn't have time to say I really cared

They may not mean to, but they do

He hung it on the back of a kitchen chair, then hung himself

I hear horses

Georgie's Swastika

I am not old, YOU are old

At least I'm not a fish

I am looking after the family's words

When John had a working liver

A door, five windows

He doesn't want to come down

It's just before the end of the world and these guys walk in

With babies and bayonets

They stretched his body on a tree

I am leading a quiet life, just one murder

I wear Egyptian clothing

He is a cat who creeps at night, a snake

Have you ever stopped to consider

Come lie to me and be my love

I'm over at Jack's trying to work out what comes next

Don't Wait.

1 Join the Blast

2 Tell Fellow writers and persuade them to join

3 Do it NOW!

It's free, it's fun, it will surprise you

June "Blast" Come and Join Us

Boot Campers and Facebookers are joining together to "BLAST" their writing for the month of June, share their work non-publicly, and see just how many pieces they can produce in the month.

We have run these blasts before, with great success. We push each other to produce and tell each other that the point is to produce, not worry.

In fact, time and time again we have found that quantity does NOT reduce quality. It does the opposite. The mere act of production and quickly moving on to the next piece makes each piece less threatening. people relax and produce work which is often a cut above their usual standard.

We produce prompts 1-2-3 times a day (here and in Boot Camp and on the BCK Blog)

These can be used singly, mutiply, directly, indirectly or not at all

We post privately via a secretary so that all poems, flashes, shorts are anonymous.

We respond (not usually properly critique [no time] just to note the piece.

We post daily word-counts and cumulative counts and enjoy trying to move up the league table.

I always win. I'm just too good


Prompts Monday June 1st 2009

The afternoon was flat, grey and ordinary

It is a big sky, too big

Walking into the weather, leaning on it

The fire died in the night

Not much wind, not too cold, not actually raining

Fifteen squaddies, a mini-bus, a football

A car puttered slowly up the road

The muscles of this place, how a house breathes

White-coated assistants in slow-frame

Winter rain rolled over her in an empty street

Doors opened with pinging bells.

Passing soft bread rolls in paper bags to solitary customers

A pastel town breathing in short, shallow breaths

Trying to conserve its body-fat

Cold Monday morning, six o'clock, November.

A winter-emptied window-box freshly forked

She dropped her shoulders

The windows were clean, the curtains drawn

Two black labradors.

It was someone's birthday and we all brought two bottles

They will, and when they do

The smell was no worse and she felt it should be

She switched her face back on


A man stops. He starts to recite a poem

A little permission is dangerous

Anger is better than despair

There's a dirty little hermit lives above the house

Love doesn't sleep and never should

Action isn't about joining


In Tescos they are doing a special, two for the price of three

Peas, possibly onions

Our Father, etc and the Holy Ghost and Stuff