in the kitchen

“There are only seven kinds of people.”
That’s the type of thing you will hear
if you listen to the oscillographic media.

Maria, whom I rarely listened to, continued.

In truth, people are entropy:
disorder and information. The closer
you look, the more you see.

We all seek the simple way, I replied,
the perfect answers to indifferent questions
from Google,
to resolve life’s unwanted
and to fix the dishwasher,
the repair of which we cannot pay.

The day before, she’d hung a naïve
artwork over the light switch, and painted
the kitchen ceiling a shade of blue-bag blue,
with constellations.

A falling star caught my eye, and I wished
I’d made a wish. Maria made a wish once.
She’d wished for someone else,
but I came true.

There’s a stranger at the window,
watching us. We have an audience.

The owner of the house, perhaps.

He’s shaking his head.

He might be lonely, no-one to talk to.
Maria passed a piece of paper across the window sill.
I’m sure he has a pen.

Its ink is clearly visible, although my pen
is supernatural. Once I was an actual
fictional character, so busy working
I had no time for breakfast, but things
went wrong when I met myself
coming back from reality.

If I were a writer, I would write
for serious worldly humans.

Maria stifled a laugh.
You must take care with recursion,
acknowledging that characters are not real
degrades the emotional link with the audience.

“An emotional link.”
That’s the sweetest thing
you’ve ever said to me.

That’s not what I said.

I noticed that the incorporeal writer had been replaced
by a red-bearded phantasm, mono-eared,
with a shade of blue insanity in his eyes.

I erased my magic slate, and tried again.

But it turned out I was the ghost.

Maria clapped in slow time.

On the ceiling, a sunflower had risen,
and unable to resist, I peered into a later chapter
—our cloudy future—where its coupled spirals met.


From scrutable-and-less-so personal events.

The difficulty with computer optimisation algorithms is knowing what you want to optimise. So it is with life, the computers tell me.

Planetary martiaforming. Deija’s army has undertaken martiaforming of the earth. They’ve remodelled the kitchen too.

Martiaforming is made with VEE, the Visual Evolution Engine.

19 thoughts on “in the kitchen

  1. “A falling star caught my eye, and I wished
    I’d made a wish. Maria made a wish once.
    She’d wished for someone else,
    but I came true.”
    Really enjoyed reading this poem, Steve and as always, the art is beautiful.

    • Thank you, Sobhana. I suspect many of us get enough of what we wish for. We get what is sufficient, or acceptable, as some Buddhists say, and seeking one’s special idea of perfection is a recipe for never-ending disappointment. The artwork has a kind of thread of its own these days, glad you enjoyed.

  2. “She’d wished for someone else, but I came true.” Ouch! Sounds like a lifetime of feeling unwanted and not good enough.

    The reference to “serious worldly humans” reminds me of the adults who take themselves too seriously in The Little Prince. In the original French version, the businessman refers to himself as “quelqu’un de sérieux”. The Little Prince found such “serious” adults ridiculous, and so do I, even though I’m guilty of being ridiculous too often. 🙂

    I really enjoyed the understated wit and multiple layers of this piece.

    • Thanks, Magarisa. Perhaps the protagonist is being a bit hard on himself. Anyway, a lifetime is quite a while, and anything can happen, especially in scifi/fantasy. Admittedly I’m not planning to continue this story.

      Your remark on seriousness resonates with me. The reference is based on a friend of mine who, long ago, described Mahler as music for serious people. He was a big fan, so he was talking about himself. I was all Jimi Hendrix, etc.

      It stuck with me for exactly that reason: it was completely ridiculous. We were both sheltered university students who knew nothing about life at all.

  3. A touching scene of domesticity and an admission of the unsuitability of many partners. Sinuously inventive as ever and a place to turn to when the news bulletins become unbearable. Keep on, Steve, we are the real world.

    • Thanks, Paul, The real world is a mixed bag. I’ve passed a bit of time on the sidelines wondering what it was about. Maybe you’re right, and we’re it. The lack of any shred of commonsense in world affairs makes you wonder, and no-one listens to the child telling the emperor about his new clothes.

  4. Down to earth? The kitchen suggests so but an appropriate offering to Halloween in that true horror is often located in ordinary and stultifying existences and relationships. Very enjoyable Mr Simpson.

  5. Hi Steve, hope you’re well. I enjoyed the domestic setting and details of this piece and it’s questioning of reality. One of my favourite passages is:-
    “things went wrong when I met myself
    coming back from reality.”

    Also liked:-
    “She’d wished for someone else,
    but I came true.”
    I loved the ending with the hopeful image of the sunflower on the blue ceiling. (Given me a great idea for future decorating schemes!)

    I hope you will continue with these interesting characters…🌻🌻🌻

    • Thank you, Nikita. I hope that even a metaphorical basement nerd like me can pick a few things up as the years go by. Your view of another can be completely one-sided, and you can talk to your friends in a way that they will all agree. But time passes, and black-and-white moves to floral shades.

      The stars on a dark ceiling come from reality (looked great) and from another time and place, the painting hung over the light switch. Whatever you have in mind, I say go for it.

      The chance the story continues any time soon is pretty low, unfortunately. I have some nerd tasks, 🤓 and, sadly, I may even have to cut back further on WordPress.

  6. I caught the reference to Vincent van Gogh not only in the description of the face, but the appearance of the sunflower. The discordance of the narrator and the woman has an odd familiarity to it.

    • The sunflower came first, and the ghost at the window was another character, but I realised it had to be van Gogh. The discord — I suspect many readers would identify to some extent. Although it’s fantasy, it’s a scrambled version of bits of my life.

  7. A puzzle within a mystery, Steve, and haunting in its own way with an undercurrent of disappointment… to be the wrong result of a wish is indeed a poignant thing. A beautiful poem Steve, one to be read and read….JIM

    • Thanks for those generous words, Jim. Oh well, the world is not a fairy tale, and expecting it to be is a recipe for disaster. And best not to kiss frogs, although they are okay for French cuisine.

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