Categories
creative writing men wisdom writing

Father

If you had to invent your version of father,  or yours let you down. If you’ve let your children down, then I’m with you.
We project that it’s easy but it isn’t. A lot of it is you give up the time with them. A necessary separation from people you’d die for,  to support them. You don’t say anything about it because whining about it doesn’t matter. Yet you look at them and find comfort in having something worth dying for.

For me, my mistakes were in being afraid of them not liking me for making decisions which conflicted with their immediate desires.

I tell them I love them. They know what I mean by that. I’ve tested it but I know it exists and I thrive on it.

No man will tell you how it hurts to miss a moment of their children. How it hurts not to. You’re eternal and disposable in the same moment.

The moments of rage and terror come from your children.

Categories
books fiction men seduction women

Nothing Keeps Me Anywhere Chapter 2 by Dahlia Bliss

Chapter 2.

You’ll know them on sight.

There is not the easy camaraderie of a group of friends, nor its cousin, the polite fight for female attention that I grew up experiencing.
No, it’s somewhere between a field trip and a hunting expedition.
With a tutor who takes each group and encourages the students to approach women and work on their conversation skills.
That’s the platonic ideal, it allows for men to develop socialising skills in a direct environment and it’s good to see the philosophies in action.
Ben and his friends came with me because I felt responsible for them. Terry took the four best looking guys, forming them into extensions of his will. They all appeared dressed by his hand, and he had them making approaches as soon as we were in there.
I’d already connected with Ben. His friends were Freddy and Jimmy. They worked together at the same start up; they were building a photo app and had come here to network and improve their socialisation skills.
Even money wasn’t helping them meet women.
Freddy had been engaged, she’d left him for the building supervisor, so he’d been dumped and made homeless in the same decision.
The supervisor had been an extra in a shampoo commercial.
Freddy had been two days from making three million dollars.
His eyes shone when he spoke about her. The anger that was there. It seemed like something he thought he should have felt, but I leaned over and touched his forearm.
‘You will be ok.’
He smiled and nodded.
‘I know I am. It’s funny, I never played sports or anything, but today, it feels like I’m the fucking quarterback, you know?’
I nodded as the waiter took our order.
After that the conversation lightened again, until I felt Terry’s hand on my shoulder. I looked up at him.
‘There’s no energy in here. I want to get these guys sarging.’
I shut my eyes. I smiled and flexed my shoulders.
‘Okay mate. These guys are with me. Yeah?’
I made a point of looking to Freddy, who flashed a nervous smile and pointed at me.
‘Excellent,’ Terry said.
Terry went off.  We went outside to pile into the minibus again.
I patted Ben on the shoulder, Freddy and Jimmy were behind us as I turned to them.
‘What did he tell you your frame for tonight was?’
Ben explained that we they meant us go with something goofy. An ice breaker that would then transition into a half kino, full audit body space. Hiding the cringe was easy.
My frown made Ben stop talking.
‘You need to forget all that.’
He looked at Freddy and Jimmy, then back at me. Jimmy cleared his throat before he spoke.
‘With the greatest of respect, you’re not the attendee here. I doubt you have any problems.’
I smiled at him and gave a quick gesture towards my face.
‘With this nose?.’
They looked shocked for a moment, then Ben burst out laughing.
‘It’s not that bad,’
I shrugged my shoulders and shook my head before squinting upwards.
‘It’s not so much a Roman nose as the whole fucking empire, mate.’
Freddy brayed and we all looked at him, then burst into a round of laughter. I let it die down before I stopped and turned. They mirrored me so we stood in a circle.
‘You need to detach yourselves.  It might generate attraction, if you’re going after something frivolous.’
Jimmy shook his head.
‘I just want to get laid.’
I grimaced at him and shook my head.
‘It’s how you communicate that.’
He stood back, crossing his arms, retreating behind a front of bluster.
‘There’s nothing wrong with that,’
His voice had a sullen quality to it you could almost taste in the air.
‘Nothing wrong with what?’
I knew the answer, but wanted to hear him say it.
‘Women want men to make a move,’ he said.
‘And what does the act of approaching entitle you?’
He held my gaze for a moment before he looked away and exchanged uncomfortable looks with the others.
‘Nothing.’
I thrust a finger out, pointing towards him.
‘Don’t be needy.’
Ben frowned.
‘Expect nothing from the interaction. Be present and talk to women with no expectation or sense of entitlement.’
Freddy sniggered and I asked him what was funny as we started walking again. He said I sounded like Yoda and I smiled.
‘The Frank Oz one, though. CGI appals me,’ I said. ‘Except for Gollum, the apes from that movie and Groot.’
Jimmy grabbed my elbow, stopping me and stared at me, aghast.
‘Transformers?’
I shook my head, although I couldn’t keep the smirk from my face at his reaction.
‘They keep remaking my childhood, and it breaks my heart.’
He rolled his eyes, gesticulating towards me.
‘Yes, it’s better now. We got angel investment from a guy who did some post on one of those. You do not understand how much work goes into them.’
I stepped back, folding my arms across my chest as I smiled at him.
‘That’s it, right there.’
Jimmy looked at me, unsure of the point that I was trying to make.
‘You’ve got a point of view. Something you’re passionate about.’
I put my hand on his shoulder, squeezed it as I looked deep into his eyes.
‘You cannot give the gift of yourself and expect it received.’
‘So, I could crash and burn?.’
‘You only fail if you quit.’
They climbed into the taxi and I followed, smiling to myself as we set off to another club.

 

Categories
books love lust romance women

Nothing Keeps Me Anywhere by Dahlia Bliss

(Here is a preview of the next Dahlia Bliss book, Nothing Keeps Me Anywhere. Let me know what you think)

When a dating coach meets a waitress at a convention, sparks fly, but life throws many obstacles in their path towards love

CHAPTER 1
The jet lag meant my charm was running on fumes. Norwich. London. Dallas.
‘Are you with the convention?’
Her voice made me look up. Amused and challenging at the same time. The universe often challenged these small pockets of quiet contemplation. Sitting down and being quiet was a confrontation.
She cleaned the counter with a towel bunched into a ball of cloth. The raised knuckles on her right hand and the flex of lean muscle in her forearms caught my eye. Her green eyes peered at me with curiosity, highlighted by the spray of freckles across the bridge of her nose and the thick ebony hair trying to escape the tight grip of her hairband.
The distraction that she afforded was unmeasured. A restlessness dogged me, and even arriving a day before my part of the Better Men Project Seminar, keen to enjoy the atmosphere, did not ease it. It was more like arriving to give a terrible diagnosis.  Amusing.
‘I am.’
She sighed with something extra in it that made me smile. She shook her head and my eyes fell back to the page. The breadth and curve of her shoulders drew my attention again as she went back to the kitchen. Imagining the flex of muscle beneath her uniform distracted me further.
She returned with a fresh pot of coffee. There was a roll to her hips that made the muscles in my chest and neck hum with interest. A tautness in the midsection and thighs strained the skirt they made her to wear.
‘I wonder if you have more to offer on the subject.’
She chuckled as she refilled my cup. A scent carried from her skin to my nose, mingling with the coffee that she poured and the faint memory of peppermint on her breath when she spoke.
‘I do, but the hotel doesn’t encourage such blunt exchanges of opinions with its guests.’
Her eyes glanced upward, took me in as my stomach fluttered with anticipation.
She met my smile with a roll of her eyes.
‘So, you’re asking my permission or you’re being covert?.’
She wiped the table with a slow drag of the cloth, using it as a reason to stay there. The coffee was strong and it saturated my senses with each sip. My voice was soft, reflecting the playfulness that had stirred in me. No promises, no expectations, but a chance to have fun with someone. At least to make a single serving friend.
‘Are you allowed to sit down?’
She shook her head, lowering her eyes, but there was a challenge there. I pointed past her to the patio area and asked if I could smoke out there. She nodded as I stood up.
‘Come on, we can talk out there.’
She went to return the pot to the kitchen as I went outside.
Her footsteps scuffed along the concrete as I lit up and she came outside to stand beside me.Up close, there was the warm bouquet of her skin, green tea and cinnamon. She took the cigarette, then she lit it, her hands touching mine so, but the song of her touch made something shift in me.
Callused skin on her elbows, ashen against the black ink of her tattoos. Punches raised her knuckles, strength in her forearms. The worked out body that came from using it, moving it in a way that tested you. Each look was a challenge, sometimes playful, sometimes serious. My finger drew up to point them out to her.
‘That doesn’t come from wiping tables. The elbows, too. What is it, Muay Thai?’
The corners of her mouth twitched as she brought the cigarette to her mouth and took a shallow drag.
‘You think you’re smart, don’t you?’
I shook my head as I turned to face her.
‘I could pretend to be stupid, but it wouldn’t make you feel better. When’s your next fight or do you take a class?.’
She tilted her head to her left and narrowed her eyes.
‘Eight weeks.’
I leaned forward and held the cigarette down by my side as I whispered to her.
‘What did you want to say to me earlier?’
She squared her shoulders and darted her eyes away from me.
‘I would go off on you about the men’s rights movement, but it seems kinda rude now.’
A last drag and a raise of my eyebrow.
‘If I’m offended, that’s my choice not yours.’
She looked behind her and swore beneath her breath. She asked if we could continue our chat later.
I let her enjoyed watching how she moved. The customers were wearing the passes of attendees. Returning to my table, my cup still sat on the saucer and when I picked it up. The sound of men offered hope. Part of me still missed it.
I watched their faces and saw them file out of the seminar as they reacted to the other waitress when she came over to wait on a small group of them. One attendee leaned forward and put his hand on top of hers. She flinched.
I walked over to them and asked them if they were here for the seminar.
One of them shook his head in a slow, mocking gesture as he glanced at the waitress with a pinched expression.
‘ It’s a conference about Excellence In Masculinity.’
I nodded as I took them all in. I could see their flushed faces and the way their chests rose. They lost these boys who had a measure of self-esteem back.
They always reminded me how much more drunk you would get if you stole from your parent’s liquor cabinet as opposed to when you were old enough to buy your own. I asked open questions, and when the waitress asked for their order, I put it on the card as I brought another chair over to their table.
As we sat there, I saw one of them refer to his tablet, exchanging tight glances with some others at the table. He held the tablet up, showing me the profile picture.
I nodded and the table’s demeanour changed. The man who had touched the waitress peeked back at her and smiled.
‘I’ve got  game.  Did you see me anchoring her?’ he said.
I gave a small nod and I looked at her as the waitress I had been speaking to refilled the coffeepot as she looked at me with a curious expression on her face.
‘I did, but you missed out there.’
He leaned forward, eyebrows drawn, keen for my insight as I sat up and put my shoulders back.
‘Don’t approach someone who’s at work, when it’s a customer service gig.’
He spluttered.
‘ Anchoring creates good associations ‘
I raised my hand.
‘Sure it is, if they’re free to choose not to interact with you. She’s at work, mate. That takes away her choice.’
He lowered his eyes and his lips moved against his teeth as he struggled to maintain his composure. I reached out and touched his right arm as I told him to look at me.
‘Let go of the need.’
He sat up, his eyes wide. I locked eyes with him.
‘What’s your dream for yourself?’
His eyes shifted up and left as he sat there. His friends were all focussed on my actions as I fixed my gaze on his face and kept my hand near his arm.
‘I want to start my business.’
I nodded.
‘What does that feel like for you?’
He spoke about how his dad ribbed him for college. I saw him wince when he mentioned it, and I touched his arm again.
‘You hold on to that, don’t you?’ I said. ‘Your dad’s disapproval.’
He nodded before I thumped the table, which made him jump as I told him to let go of it.
He blinked as he sat back in his chair.
The smile on the guy’s face was worth the approach. He reached out his hand and I took it, giving a light but firm handshake. His palms were damp and embarrassment flushed his face while his eyes were bright.
We continued to chat as they ate. Then as the waitress cleared the table, they asked if I would join them but I waved them off, explaining that I had been on a lengthy flight.
They went back in and I wished them well, returning to my table. The waitress came back over with a pot of coffee.
‘What did you do?’
She poured.
‘Managed their expectations, you could say.’
She looked back to where they had been, then returned her attention to me again. I noticed that she had applied some lip gloss.
‘I didn’t get your name.’
I raised an eyebrow.
‘John.’
She grinned, biting her lip as she finished pouring my coffee.
‘Andrea.’
She narrowed her eyes.
‘You went to say something to me earlier?’
Her face went red as she rocked back on her heels.
‘I had this entire thing prepared about how exploitative and aggressive the men’s movement is.’
I picked up my coffee cup and looked at her.
‘I’d like to hear it, Andrea.’
She shrugged, trying to hide her discomfort. I remained seated, and she was about to speak when I heard her colleague call her name. She gave me a regretful smirk before going over to her.
I returned to the book but kept glancing up at her, feeding a tension that made my muscles strain with arousal until I could no longer sit still. I stole one final glimpse before swallowing my desire and heading up to the peace of my room.
The quiet was very little solace. My limbs buzzed with caffeinated energy that I knew I would need to burn off. I changed into shorts and ventured down to the hotel gym.
I set the bar up on the squat rack and loaded plates onto either side. I wanted to feel the resistance, to get into my body so I could burn away the excess.
Slipping a towel around my neck and dipping beneath the bar, I balanced it between my shoulders as I pushed upwards from my heels and lifted it free of the rack. I took a careful step back as I felt the weight and kept my core tight, before bringing my butt down to my heels with a smooth exhalation of breath.
I grunted as I rose back up, driving from my heels to keep my form. At the top of the movement, I finished my breath, so it connected me to it, and then I repeated the action.
Six repetitions later, I stepped towards the rack and replaced the bar before walking around a bit to get the blood back into my legs and recover. When I went into my second set, I breathed through it. By the last repetition, I could feel the pressure of my body resisting. It was on unsteady legs that I finished the final rep. I took it back to the rack and my hands shook while I stripped off the plates.
I stood there stretching when Andrea walked past.
I smiled as she turned to look at me. She shook her head, grinning, then moved on through the hotel. I laughed before I resumed my stretching and then walked over to the chest press machine. I did two sets on my chest, though I would have preferred a dedicated bench, but I still got a good workout from it.
I went out for dinner, having come in a half day before I’d needed. A bookstore browse which turned into an hour long cup of coffee with a book. I found a small steakhouse where I ate at a corner table as I read and enjoyed a porterhouse, a baked potato and a glass of cabernet.  My cab pulled up outside the hotel. The attendees were meeting up for the evening.
One guy waved to me. I raised my hand, walking over to them.My legs were aching but I sucked in a deep breath as I went over.
‘How was the afternoon?’ I said.
He nodded and his friend reached his hand out.
‘Are you coming out?’
Looking past them, I saw that Terry was there, in a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He had the platinum bracelet on his wrist he’d shown off the last time we had worked together.
He called them names when the doors were closed. He saw me and I watched the corners of his mouth flicker downward before he came over.
‘Hey asshole.’
I smiled as I asked the guys about their day. Terry had already done his part, so tomorrow I knew I wasn’t working against anything. He still had the night to fire them up though, and he always put up his peacock feathers whenever we worked together. He had made the less palatable traits of his personality generate an income. He would still bitch about missed auditions when he was an actor who believed himself capable of playing over one part.
Terry looked at them, then at me.
‘The minibus will be ten minutes. There might be room.’
He corrected his posture and I saw his chest puff out a little. I shut my eyes and took a slight breath before I told him I would see him there.
I went with a black shirt and trousers, with polished boots.
When I came downstairs, I went straight out to the minibus. I sat next to the adolescent man I’d spoken with earlier, Ben and we talked more about his plans and dreams. He asked a lot of questions about England, which I obliged him until we hit the city centre, when nerves stole his attention.

Categories
beauty love men poetry women

Vicious Angels

We are atoms

In collision

Collusion

Through it all

I feel you

As I go about my purpose

Through pain and hunger

Late into the night

Even as disaster looms

Like vicious angels

I remain

Endure

And in this

You surrender

Gentle animal

Kind to everyone

Implicit strength

Leaner now

But still

Tuned into

The symphony of you

I hear it

Can pluck it from silence

No matter how hard

You may try

Tear down

Or build

When it comes to you

All the same

Isn’t it?

Now shut up and come here

I want you to feel me

With a force I’m not sure

Wouldn’t leave marks

Categories
anxiety beauty books men poetry

Hidden Victories

Those pockets of silence,

Travel between them

A pilgrim seeking holy places,

Hands capable of violence

Yet at rest against themselves

When not at play on the territory of you,

But you sleep, I grind,

No one knows what it takes to be this,

How each day,

Is a battle with toothsome

Loathsome devils,

Some of whom look like old lovers,

But in the silence

They die at my hand

And so, to see me calm,

Amused rather than angered,

Is to frame me in the light of

Hidden victories,

My book Until She Sings is out now.

Ebook:

Until She Sings https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XJRDND8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_e9pLDbMJNZQ4E

Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1692105566/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4akEDb3FTWNKR

My Mailing List for announcements and news with a free short story as a thank you.

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

Categories
fiction mental illness

A Game of Green and Yellow

The birds sing me awake, their cries loud enough to drown out my dreams. I wind the surrounding sheets, still bearing the musk of my skin, stale and dry these days. It is a talisman against the wet, greasy decay of what hunts me. 

I hear it breathing – the pop and crackle of rice cereal, slow and hollow in a lake of lumpen, sour milk. I reach for my paints, unscrewing the lids on the Manganese Blue and Cadmium Yellow. 

I smear lines down my arms and chest, my thighs and around my crotch in patterns derived from Hermetic sigils but already matted and altered by my nervous hand. 

I dress in a yellow t-shirt, a long-sleeved green t-shirt and then a Norwich City FC top. I draw more lines on my face, warpaint against the thing that hunts me today. 

Ridicule is a small price to pay against your eternal soul. 

I grab the battered, incomplete copy of Call of Cthulu, with the irrelevant sections long since torn away and the spine is now so much tattered remnants of the glue and thread that bound it together. The both of us, falling apart whilst holding onto the illusion that we are whole. 

It stole most of my dice, but so long as I have one twenty-sided die, I can arrest its advances. I have enough pennies in the jar to afford something to drink or eat but not both. 

Location is everything so I consult my map and the closest congruence of ley lines is the KFC just before Regent Road. It will be busy, but my survival outweighs my concerns over the opinions of others. 

I run from Gordon Road, muttering a protective mantra to disguise my position. Its roar sounds, shaking the windows of the surrounding houses, already angered by my countermeasures and I sprint through the park. 

A warm, thick breeze brings the smell of sulphur to my nose and I almost lose the rhythm of my mantras. A car stops, a horn sounds as I dash across the road. I see the KFC and enjoy the gentle, lilting spark of hope that arises in my chest. 

I order a cola which is all I can afford and look around, seeing an empty table at the front which is where the best energy tends to pool. The young girl who serves me has a pained smirk on her face and manages to ignore my appearance long enough for me to pay and take myself over to the table. 

The screen. 

The book.

The die.

The game demands enthusiasm and focus to be effective. I miss the guys I used to play with, picked off one by one by marriage, work and social lives. They have stopped playing the game, but it has not stopped playing them. It never will. 

There is a father and his son to my right, who both shoot disbelieving stares as I set up and start playing. 

I describe the KFC, the surrounding people to add weight and reality to the ritual. I keep the descriptions brief to avoid insulting anyone but it is my desperation that offends people. 

How many pleasant afternoons have I ruined in defence of my soul? 

As many as I need to. 

The rules call for a perception check. I roll a one which is when a member of staff comes over to me, embarrassed but determined to do his job. I turn and knock over my cola with my right hip, which makes the father on my right stand up and swear as some of it splashes on his jeans. His hands are forming fists but the staff member calms him down in halting, thickly accented English before he asks me to stop playing. 

To everyone around me, this is an affectation, a game but to me, it is life and death. I turn and continue to play, hearing a chorus of disapproval rise behind me. Tears fill my eyes, a sparkling bitter anxiety flowing through me. 

Children stand at the window, watching me as they laugh amongst themselves. A smartly dressed man comes up and speaks to them which encourages them to leave, still laughing but nervous with it. The man looks at me with empathy and his eyes drift to the Call of Cthulu rule book. 

He nods and moves on. 

I make another sanity check and pass. The green paint tingles on my arms and cheeks, warning me of an incursion. I glance around and see that the team leader is putting his phone back into his pocket with a guilty smile on his face. 

I hear the wail of sirens, and I know that they are coming for me. 

I am close to establishing the ward and so I mumble my way through the rest, rolling the die and sending it spinning off the table. I knock into the couple on the other side and receive a loose, weak punch on the side of my head but it does not hurt me. 

The siren reaches a pitch and then stops. I see the flashes of green and yellow and feel a deep, powerful relief as they come to me, saying my name with a gentle familiarity. They take me with them, and one of them even picks up my book, my screen and my die to bring with her. 

I am safe with them. In the ambulance, the ritual begins again and I welcome the pinch of the needle then the deep, plasticizing relief of the drugs as they kick in. 

It roars at my escape, forever hungry and determined to catch me. They strap me in with care and we drive away. I manage to smile to myself before I allow myself the pleasure of surrendering to the drug, knowing that for now, I am safe. 

Categories
love masculinity poetry women

All the ways

To sit with uncertainty

Here amidst the ruins of

The person I was

Someone better

Lives here now

Yet the hungry ghosts of old weaknesses

Change forms as they stalk the future

They’ve no place haunting

But those, red in tooth and claw,

They fail to learn from history

My victories, come at a cost,

I get on with the work

Arms not too tired

To hold the sword

Above my head

I live, able to do anything

Quiet

Gentle

Strong

Except where I’ve shown

The last few hungry ghosts

And in the revelation

Came the ways in which

They are defeated

A slow learner, yes

But a sure one

In

All

The ways

Which matter

Categories
book reviews books fiction short fiction women writing

13 Postcards From Hell

My short story ‘Junkyard Redemption’ is featured in the anthology ’13 Postcards From Hell’. The link is below, and it was an honour to be featured alongside some great writers.

 

Categories
beauty love men poetry women

Appointments To Weep(Men)

Our appointmentsMade in transitionFrom one place toAnotherSit with the fearShe’s losing interestAnd your novelty is somehowWearyingIt passesAnother arrivesGuilt and the soft prayersTo find the balance between cosmic justice and acknowledgementIf you could apologiseYou wouldYou didBut people seldom hearWhen they’re settingYour life ablaze,It passesAnother butLess as time goes onYou wish you couldUncoil before herAs you always haveIn glimpsesSo matters settledEyes dampA shuddering breathThen anotherIt too,Passes and you areYourself again.My book Until She Sings is out now.Ebook:Until She Sings https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XJRDND8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_e9pLDbMJNZQ4EPaperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1692105566/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4akEDb3FTWNKRMy Mailing List for announcements and news with a free short story as a thank you.https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett

Categories
men

Open Letters To Old Friends

Scrape away the how are yous

I miss you

Because there are a million shitty takes

And awesome things

Which I still want to turn around and share with you,

And sometimes taunting that hunger

Sours the blood

Without being destroyed by it

Because I don’t want to embarrass you,

With my boyish earnestness,

Or my belief that although there are points of resolute crappiness

And genial idiocy,

I’m still close to wonderful,

Amused and appalled,

By this world

But hold this close,

Some part of me serves you

Us

And in time,

Of time

By time

I can still be stunned by your smile,

We were, and are surrounded by

Secrets

But never to one another,

Never.

My book Until She Sings is out now.

Ebook:

Until She Sings https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XJRDND8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_e9pLDbMJNZQ4E

Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1692105566/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_4akEDb3FTWNKR

My Mailing List for announcements and news with a free short story as a thank you.

https://tinyletter.com/mbblissett