Rest In Peace, David Bowie (a tribute)

On January 10, 2016, I wrote a poem called “Always the Starman” dedicated to the late great David Bowie who died on that very day in 2016 – and I can still remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard of his untimely passing, and I can still remember being immediately inspired to mark the memory of one of the most famous and celebrated music artists of the 20th Century – and two days later I published the poem that I wrote on my blog for all the world to read so that they may get a sense of just how inspirational David Bowie was and still is.

Not long after David Bowie’s death, I remember that I was writing a new short story called “The Man In Black” about this mysterious character – who I didn’t truly know the identity of, nor why they were so mysterious… all I knew at that point was that whoever they were they dressed all in black, they had mysterious and powerful gifts that enabled them to appear one minute and disappear the next, they could bring animals and perhaps people back to life, and they may or may not be some kind of angel or some other supernatural being. And something else that I knew immediately was that whoever this mysterious “man in black” was he also bore an uncanny resemblance to the late great David Bowie, as some sort of tribute to him. But that was it. I originally intended to include my short story “The Man in Black” in my 2016 short story collection “Too Close To The Sun”, however for some reason I held it back… and to this day I still do not know why, what, or who stopped me from doing so – but I am so glad that they did, because from that first story there followed others that featured the same “Man in Black” who at times was known to white also depending upon when you met him. And slowly but surely I wrote more and more, until I finally found myself with seven short stories that explored who the “Man in Black/Man in White” was and why he did what he did. And to this day the stories of my short story collection “Playing God” still remain close to my heart, because within them are characters who I know and who I recognise: characters in need of being saved by a hero, a friend, a rebel, an angel, a god dressed all in black, and sometimes dressed all in white – someone who we would all wish would pay us a visit and heal the world of the present from what we are currently being plagued by.

I wrote my original poem “Always the Starman” and “The Man in Black”, the first story of my book “Playing God”, as a personal tribute to David Bowie – but the more stories that I wrote about this mysterious man who looked and sounded just like David Bowie, I also found myself uncovering many different sources of inspiration – from ancient Greek mythology to the daily torments that some people have to deal with – and I also found myself learning more about why I love writing so much: that thrill of exploration and discovery that I find every time I embark upon a writing challenge that I know will take me to places that I never imagined I would ever venture to. And that is what it is so enthralling and exciting about being a writer and an author of fiction: you never know where it is going to take you.

I will always be eternally grateful to the late great David Bowie for his music, for his creativity, and for the gift of inspiration that he gave to me – which coalesced over time into becoming a book of stories written in tribute to him, but also a tribute to hope, optimism and the gift of life that we are all blessed with which we all sometimes take for granted.

Rest in peace, David Bowie

“David Bowie” by Derren Brown

8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #64: “The Queen’s Gambit” (2020)

In this episode Mark talks about the 2020 American coming-of-age period drama “The Queen’s Gambit” created for Netflix by Scott Frank and Allan Scott, based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Trevis. Set in the late-1950s to the late-1960s, the miniseries of 7 episodes stars Anna Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon – an orphaned chess prodigy with exceptional visualisation skills who rises to the top of the chess world, but who also struggles with drug and alcohol dependency, as well as the on again/off again relationships and friendships that she develops with other gifted chess players in their own right whom she meets along the way.

My Poem “Missing Time”

Since the start of this
world-shattering pandemic
I know deep in my soul
that I have missed the sound
of a particular source of music -
a soundtrack, a beat,
a rhythm of life that can be heard,
felt, and seen within your minds eye,
whether it be morning, noon, or night:
the same pulse of inspiration
that first surged within me
at the very moment when
I knew that I was born to be a poet.

What I love about writing
and what keeps me coming back
to the blank page time and again
is the same thing that I miss
about sitting in a café
surrounded by people,
before the days of mandatory masks
and before compulsory social distancing.

The thrill of the unknown,
the magic of the instantaneous,
the order and the chaos that to me
always made sense and which I could
always easily pull into focus:
all that being an artist is all about...
you can't plan for it, you can only create it
when you feel it within you boiling away
with such ferocity that you know
it is about to explode -
which is why artists need to capture
what occurs to them before
whatever idea forms combusts into dust
and becomes as spectral as a ghost.

I yearn to go back in time...
I wish that I could return to a place
at a point in the past where and when
I truly believed every moment
would always last...
I still cannot believe that we are all
living in the world that greets my senses
and compels my thoughts
and my emotions so overwhelmingly...
I wish that I could do something,
I wish that I could write something,
I wish that I could imagine something
that might serve to transport
everybody away from our current stark reality -
perhaps to a moment of peace, joy, and love
that the world once enjoyed,
or to a time in the future when I know
the memory of our current present
will not be as potent.

I have personal places
and I have particular times
where and when I return to within
my thoughts and within my dreams
that mean the world to me
that feel so close to me that I could
reach out and grasp them:
perfect moments the like of which
everybody has, which we all would do
anything to get back to,
which we never stop missing
and which are among life's
most precious of blessings.

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #62: “Cobra Kai – Season 3”, a review

In this episode Mark does a review of the third season of the exceptional American martial arts comedy drama television series “Cobra Kai” and he highlights some of the events that take place within the 10 episodes and the great character defining moments that occur – including some prominent cameos from some memorable characters from the “Karate Kid” film series.

My Poem “All will never be lost”

A new burst of sunlight
enlightens my view…
a new year has arrived
that will herald the arrival
of something that will enable
the world to slowly become renewed…
a new wave of possibility is beginning
to drift over and upon humanity
that will hopefully lead to us all
once again looking to an optimistic future
beyond the here and the now.

New additions to already established families
all around the world are being
welcomed with open arms
as symbols of hope of a new generation
who will be the beneficiaries of
what previous generations have
had to overcome, have had to adapt to,
and have had to discover along the way,
and a new constellation of distant
beacons of light will be what everybody
needs to fuel all the new ideas
and the new inventions that will
revolutionise how everybody
will stay connected to one another
as well as on another level of consciousness
with who and what once was.

A new dawn is the start of new verse
within the constantly evolving poem
and chronological story that is life –
so even though there may not have been
as many fireworks set off to end one year
and welcome in a brand new one this year
as there might have been in years gone by
there is always a reason to stay hopeful,
to look up, and to believe
that if everybody does their part
and continues to work hard at being
inspirational in their own way
all will never be lost.

Happy New Year! 😊

My Poem “Unbreakable Bond”

On Christmas evening,
as my family and I gathered together
around the hearth of our burning fire,
while enjoying some family time with one another,
I knew that after this day
nothing would ever be the same again
and we would never again
be able do this in the same way:
enjoy a Christmas meal together,
pull crackers with one another,
sit watching a favourite Christmas film of ours –
because what is going to happen next
will be unlike anything that either of us
have felt, heard, or seen before.

Every moment is unique,
every family has their own story,
every new day is a new dawn,
every time you wake up every day
we all have to reset the clock –
just as every player has to do the same
after they move a piece on a chessboard –
and adapt to whatever life has in store:
all the twists, the turns, the corners,
and the constant lessons that we
have to learn from like the constant
students of life’s school that we are.

Next year will be both the end
of one long chapter as well as
the beginning of another stage in life
that will impact so many peoples’ fate…
very soon there will be a sea change
and all predictions of the future
that have been shared will have to be remade;
however, even though I know
some things will be different,
I know now more than ever
that my family and I will always
have an unbreakable bond between us
that is unlike any other in so many
phenomenal and wonderful ways.