SHAUN CLARKE
THE
WRITER

My writing explores life experience with a view to enlighten myself or others, exploring what makes us tick, our flaws and who we think we are... If you like or relate to anything below, pls let me know by any mea​ns.

I have written a Novel, a kindle book, short stories and articles for the Bristol Cable and Vocalise. And look out for Lyrically Justified at the foot of the page. 

For further information, or to comment please click on ShaunClarkeTheWriter here or above, and message me...

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A short story (written and read at Leftbank Talking Tales night - July 2016) 
by Shaun Clarke
“It’s the perfect holiday. Don’t you just love it, Liam?” my browning partner, Loretta, asked dreamily, as we sauntered along Long Bay Beach, looking for an economic breakfast, sweating in the September Jamaica-sun.
“Amazing, if you’re coming from the UK,” I replied, not really needing a tan with my ebony self, but blending in well and noticing something eye-catching at that moment. “What’s that?” I asked rhetorically.
  “I’m not sure,” she replied dismissively, sniffing for signs of cooked food.
  “Hmm, looks interesting,” I said, promptly glancing the area, twice.
  “Hmm,” she said, stopping to observe me.
  I stepped up to whatever it was that had just floated in from the ocean, washed ashore and looking like a message in a bottle. Except it wasn’t. It was something else – distinctive, nicely packaged and perhaps the last thing we expected to find. Was it a case of probability? That with the number of times we visited such places, sooner or later it was going to happen? I kept an eye on her while she kept an eye on me - while both of us kept the other eye out for anyone else. Strangely, every other morning someone was around, doing something. Culture, as he called himself, was usually here working on his makeshift beach bar while still serving anything from Plantain and Salt-Fish, to Jerk Chicken and Dumpling, but not today.
  I swiped it up like it belonged to me, but held it low by my side, obscured from prying eyes, a slick glass tube with black ends, one of which looked as if it screwed off. Through the crystal clear glass I could see something suspect inside. White powder, packed into a cellophane bag, at least it moved like that when I shook it. By the time I glanced back at Donetta, she was shaking her head as if to disagree with everything I might say. She was paranoid like that, but that’s one of the reasons why I hooked up with her, to keep me grounded.
  “What is it?” she asked inquisitively.
  “I don’t know,” I said ignorantly, looking for a place to put it down amongst our bags - where it would be hidden. She just looked at me like I was lying.
  “I know what it looks like,” I said sharpish.
  “Liam,” she said sternly. “What exactly do you think it is?”
  “I think it could be what we think it might be.”
  “Can’t you just be straight forward?” she asserted in a slightly louder tone. Slightly worried, I swung around. What was she trying to do, get everyone’s attention?
  Okay, I was becoming a little paranoid now. I raised a hand of apology but also one that pleaded with her to stay calm.
  “Okay,” I said, ‘whatever! I think its drugs, white stuff, or something like that. I’m not sure, but this sort of thing is not unheard of.”
  She shook her head a whole lot quicker, seeming completely unimpressed. “Liam, we can’t…” She paused, needing to say-no-more.
  I tried to keep my cool. What did she mean? “Maybe we could do something with it?” I suggested - a touch defensively. “I mean, give it to someone who can do something - someone in the family?”
  “But Liam, anything could happen…”
  “My cousin was saying just the other day; that a little bit of this or that, goes a long way over here…”
  “Just forget it!” she cut in angrily, “There’s no way, okay! Cos I’m not going anywhere with you, with whatever that is. I mean, what if you give that to someone and they get murdered because it was someone else’s, or they get stopped by the police and wind up in prison. If we get caught with it, we’d probably get locked up. Someone could be watching us now, and even your dad might get into trouble.”
  And I thought I watched too many films.
  What could I say? She’d pinned me into a corner with no easy exit. There was always an outside chance she could be right. I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s life, especially ours. We’d budgeted for the expected but didn’t imagine a dilemma like this. At least that’s what I told myself. “What else can we do with it? We can’t just give it to the police?”
  “Just give it to that guy,” she pointed over my shoulder, “over there.”
  I looked behind me and sure enough some lanky man we’d met, forgot-his-name, a Wood Sculpture Artist, was strolling towards us from a good distance. We had about two and half minutes. I closed my eyes with reluctance, and considered; If my family could wind up in all kinds of trouble, couldn’t his?
  Loretta and I were here for the first time together since my mum had moved back from the UK, a few years ago. Dear mummy would have a heart attack if the police showed up at her yard talking about drug charges or murdered family members. The shame alone would kill her.
  Loretta was resolved with crossed arms and a decided look on her face.
  We waited for the man to get closer and generously I handed him the item with a very brief explanation of how we acquired it. He smiled broadly, thanked us profusely, then suddenly played it down with a hush hush vibe.
  The next early morning, I gazed at Loretta as she slept and had to wonder if we did the right thing – if she was right. But then I wondered if the guy from the Beach was lucky or cursed. And I hoped and prayed he’d be okay…

 (Copyright © 2014/15 Shaun Clarke)






Away I go
Another short by Shaun Clarke

  Everyone was saying the same thing, “Bro! You work too hard, you need a break! You really need to take some time out! C’mon mate! We know you have work to do! We know you look out for the kids with your work. We know you have that music project and all – but hey! Everyone needs a break, man!”

  Did I really look that stressed?

  And when I asked them, “Yeah but who’s gonna do what I have to do here, and who’s gonna fight the wars against the Power, and who’s gonna tackle the issues that affect out so called BME communities?”

  They say, “You can’t fight every battle on your own. Everyone needs a rest - to recharge.”
And in my mind I agree, so I agree out loud. “Yeah, you’re right.” But I think, oh please, next subject. Let’s see how long we can dwell on them. Yet somehow it comes back to me, and they say, “Hey Star, you need to go way.” Now where have I heard that before? They must be right, if everyone is saying it.

  Ah now I tell them, “I’ve been away. Done that. I do go away. I’ve been to Norway, Montego Bay, Paris, Blackpool and Scarborough.” and sometimes I go away in my mind - through meditation, quite often too. This is where they look at me and search for someone else to identify with, to confirm that maybe I’m losing it.

  But before they can say utter another word I say, “Besides, I need to be here at the moment. You see - I’m setting up this thing to help people get jobs and training. It’s all good. I’m doing some good work - doing my thing.”
  Then they say, as I mimic them in my head, “You don’t understand, man… When you travel…”
As they talk my ears close and mind wonders. I see a blur and feel frustrated. Rudely, I interrupt and say, “What about the Wars and Famines, the ruthless regimes and new world slaves. My roots are West Indian but in Jamaica they call me English, and some treat me like a Tourist. Where do I go where there isn’t work to be done, where I won’t feel obliged to help? The struggles here are the ones I know best. Makes no sense trying to mend another part of the world when this part is broken?”
  They look at me, shaking their heads. “That’s deep, bro’ they say.
But do they actually get me. Can he or she understand what I’m saying? Is there hope? But around this point they usually say, “You could find the Woman of your dreams when you go abroad.”

  Nope, they don’t get me. Am I too extreme? I ask myself. Little do they know I’ve met the Woman of my dreams, living next door to me, ha! She may not love me, but that’s not the point.
  Meanwhile my interrogators have more. “We all need to eat, sleep and be loved, right?”
  “Yes we do,” I reply bluntly. And how different really am I? Am I such a rebel, that I can defy the behaviour of others? That I can ignore their well-meaning advice? Whatever the answers, I give up. Okay, maybe I do deserve a break. I’m still not absolutely convinced but here I go. I’m sick of all the encouragement. I refused to believe people wanted rid of me. Okay, away I go. Going, going, gone for a week to the Costas, Southern Spain.

  Woo-hoo! Great weather, nice views and tapas galore. But then as soon as I return, I remember, it was just like the last time I left, people asking, “Where’ve you been, man?” Saying, “we missed you, man… been too many problems since you left… where have you been?” And I smile, because although I had a good time, recharging, and meeting new people from different walks of life, I knew they’d miss me.

(Copyright © 2014 Shaun Clarke)
By Shaun Clarke


R.I.P. Like Robin Hood
Short Story by Shaun Clarke
  RIP Nathan...

  Like any funeral, gloom permeated the church’s atmosphere. There was a sea of faces from all walks of life, from Black to Asian, Chinese, White, and mixed, as far as George could see. Even with five brothers and sisters, he was surprised so many had come. For sure, Nathan was popular, although probably for the wrongs reasons.

  George, Nathan’s big brother, ‘the sensible one,’ as their mum used to say, knew very few people other than family. He’d escaped the madness, the muggers, druggies and car thieves, and all that, by moving down south years ago, away from local circles. 

  As people located their seats, and he acknowledged them mostly with murmurs, he checked himself for his poem, the only way he could find words for such an occasion. Meanwhile, Freddy Campbell, one of Nathan’s associates from back in the day, approached. George closed his eyes, thinking, who invited such riff raff! Without such people in his life, maybe Nathan would still be here. George wished him away, but opened his eyes to discover Freddy was standing right beside him, shoulder to shoulder.
  “Hey,” he said respectfully, “sorry brother. He was a nice guy.” Feeling uneasy, George smiled glumly, then reluctantly, awkwardly, shook his hand. “Lost but never forgotten though, aye!” Freddy continued, his head hanging.
  “For real, man,” George replied in a what-ever kind of manner, glancing into his eyes, looking for sincerity.
  “I’ll never forget. One day, he really sorted me out, big time. I used to follow him around because he was cool-innit?”

  George was baffled, but nodded him on all the same. “He was a good guy… I owed this guy some money innit once, but I was skint. And your kid, I mean brother, sorted it.” Freddy choked a chuckle, his head remaining downcast. “He ended up beating this guy up a bit and telling him about reality and ting. ‘Come out the place!’ Nathan said, laughing his ed’ off at em’, you know, like he does. Um, like he used to… ‘Bout yuh want dis’ my fren’, he said. ‘You shouldn’t have lent him the money, yuh fool,’ he’d said… Anyway the guy come for me, and your Kid just took his han’ and ben’ it like soh, an’ jus’ dash him pan de floor. Oh man, he was brave, your Nathan, and I respected that. He wouldn’t let anyone dis’ his people…”

  True, Nathan was the lone ranger and the avenger- the accidental Gangster keen to make good, a problem for Gangster’s and the police but not necessarily for the people. He liked to be liked.

  “He’d take from the rich and give to the poor," Freddy explained, "a bit like Robin Hood, innit? That’s how he was. Would never have robbed a poor person, would he?”

  George pondered a moment and was surprised at himself, that he was relating to this guy. “No, no – true,” he croaked. Freddy was right, Nathan was a good guy, in some ways. Often the light of the room, he was like fire amid ice, the one to add some spice, a cool customer with the warmest of smiles, one that revealed a prominent gold tooth which only added to his blingin’ aura. He beamed with an energy that encouraged everyone around to celebrate life with him. He like to make others laugh. Certainly, not everything he did was to be proud of, but we all make mistakes. He possessed a good side. They should put people like Nathan on the streets to work with young people, pay them well, and society could benefit. As long as he could eat and drive nice, all would be good. Oh, and give him less working hours, because he likes to relax and show off. He was that sort of guy too.

  The Vicar had started his speech with the usual grief stricken persona. “… to say goodbye, on this sad day, due to the tragic premature loss of a person, who was loved by many, who will be remembered fondly…” 

  It was time had come for George to unfold the paper and recap on his words, rhyming words that only came together the night before, everything he could say - Words that said, “Nathan was a lover of life, although he met strife along the way…” And freeze. Suddenly he wasn’t feeling it. Everyone was listening, watching, waiting, and he’d seized up like a car clean out of oil. And from a downcast gaze, he looked up, refolding his speech up. “He chose the good life, but had a date with strife along the way,” he choked on. “But no-matter what he did, he looked for a smile from all of us. And he didn’t like to see no fuss… He just wanted to live the dream to the full, though excessive passion may have led him astray. Oddly, in the end, love may have taken him away.” Helplessly, he shed a tear and sniffed, just as the Vicar passed him tissues.
  “In spirit,” George went on. “We’ll always be family, together. He was a brother, father, and friend,” he went on freely. “No way was Nathan perfect, but someone said something... He could be a really good guy, because like Robin Hood, he used to steal from the rich and give to the poor. He had guts, in that way. He’d stand up for his own.” George set his eyes on the coffin a few yards ahead. “Rest in peace, bro.” He half smiled as he stepped back and walked away. Someone started clapping, followed by others until it seemed like everyone somehow agreed that George’s brother was alright.

(Copyright © 2014/15 Shaun Clarke)
Shaun Clarke The Writer
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I'd be very interested in writing for anyone who is interested providing I can agree with the nature and cause of the work. I'm not entirely money motivated but it always helps in a Capitalist environment.

I'll be working on Volume 2 of Lyrically Justified soon, so if you're a writer with an unconventional background, and may be interested, let me know.

Contact via Face Book by clicking here...    Bye for now  
LYRICALLY JUSTIFIED
Volume 1 - Out now...
Published by Arkbound in Bristol, I'm a contributor, and compiled a new and enlightening urban poetry - print and e-book Lyrically Justified (voloume 1). 21 writers of our time come together in this important publication, “… from stage to the page… a brave move,” as Khadijah Ibrahiim put it. People you may know like Saiqa Rehman, J Bravo and Empress Imani (Leeds), Steve the Poet and Nadinne Dyen (Bristol), Axsom Nelson and EmpresS*1 (London). Redeye Feenix and Redlocz also appear, to name a few.
“The collection rings out verses that shine in the hearts and mind of each writer who are reshaping time and place,” Khadijah added.

​Volume 2 is being considered at present. See weblink below;

http://lyricallyjustifiedvolumes.weebly.com/

Shaun & his mini daughter...

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