Friday, 19 November 2010

#Fridayflash - Missing


Inspired by a Leeds Savage Club Writers' Group Task, for which the prompt simply read: 'Writers' Group'.
     
She pushed her way between the hedge and the gatepost, squeezing by to avoid the tedious effort of the heavy gate. Tonight, air was all she needed.

The fields yawned out before her, with their long shadows and their evening sun, and she heard the faint hum of traffic, on the roads beyond the trees. The world was still out there, but somehow, this was a place where she could barely notice.

It had been warm today. The office had been stuffy and the phones had been hot, and she was tired of being polite. The thoughts had been stirring in her head all day...but she couldn't seem to find a moment to organise them. She knew she had something that needed to be said...to be shared...but she was running out of time. With a conscious effort, she suppressed the conditioned urge to wonder what time it was now...not because she thought she had any more of it, but because it seemed crass to think it mattered here.

The hares in the grass 20 yards away, began to scatter with her stirring footsteps, and she decided to sit, unwilling to disturb them further. She closed her eyes for what felt like a lifetime, and breathed, filling her lungs with air. The scent of the outdoors was like nectar, and it flooded her core, seeping into every , crackling fibre until she felt like a thirsty tulip drinking morning dew. With the sun setting, low on her back, and the soft voice of a lonely cricket chirping somewhere beside her, slowly...finally...she felt her thoughts begin to tumble into place. She sighed, and pulled a battered notebook from the back pocket of her jeans. Hunching over to rest it on her knee, she put her pen to the page, and began to write.

The pen was hasty, confident and sure, and it moved without a pause or a scribble... It was just as she'd thought. This was something that needed to be said, and it almost wrote itself.

She was so engrossed, scratching frantically at the paper, that she barely noticed when he sat down beside her. He had to touch her unoccupied hand, lightly, to alert her to his presence, and she turned her head, dipping it gently against his as a greeting. It was the very briefest of tender gestures, before she resumed her task. Her thoughts had taken so long to be coherent that she was now unwilling to disturb them, and despite his being there, she steadfastly completed her mission.

It didn't surprise her that he waited in silence, shifting only slightly as he stroked his thumb over the empty space on her wedding finger. He knew her well enough by now not to speak when he found her here.

"When you were late," he said, eventually, as she laid her notebook in the grass, "I knew I'd find you here."

She turned to him then, eyeing the finger he was stroking with painful regret, before she met his eyes.

"I'm sorry..." she frowned. "I know I should have called. It's just...with what happened this morning, I suppose I've felt lost all day. I couldn't get things straight in my head...the words wouldn't come. I just...I really needed some air." He nodded, acceptingly...always accepting...his eyebrows knitting a little, as he tried to understand her world.

"And do you have them straight now?"

She smiled sadly.

"Yes, I think I do."

"Can I see?" She turned to the notebook and smoothly tore out the page...there were other things in there that she wasn't ready to show him yet. Folding the paper twice so it fit in her palm, she pressed it gently into his. She didn't watch him unfold it, and got up to pace, nervously, as he read:

Missing

I miss you today,
like water,
like rain,
that harnessed and poured on,
swept away the only beacon that has ever
truly retained the most treasured
moments
of my life - remembered for me
our mornings, my dreams,
our nights - heated and love-drunk; tender circle
of fire it seems I only pay note to
when I feel that it
is lacking.
And here
the knife
twists now,
withdrawing and plunging back in,
for I have only regrets...
of where my apathy greeted and met my
wantoness
and I lost you...
...I lost you through nothing
but inattention, and my own carelessness.

"So what do you think?" She finally asked, when he stood up and wandered over to join her. "It's the Writers' Group Open Mic tonight and I wanted to have something to read...but I think I've left it too late, haven't I? I've rushed it...it needs more work...?"

"No," he smiled, "you haven't...and it doesn't. I think it's perfect, beautiful...I think you're beautiful!" He pushed the paper back into her hand. "Go. Please." He told her. "Read it. They'll love you."

"Perhaps," she smiled, feeling suddenly and uncharacteristically shy, "but I think you're biased on that front. And besides...what will you do tonight? ...If I go?"

"Me?" he smirked and pulled her close to kiss her forehead. "I'm going to take the U-bend off, darling... You're not the only one who misses your ring, you know!"

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Etchings

    
If I stay,
I stay not
for requests that repeat,
but for want and longing
of the times we shall meet again for an hour
in twilight or rain,
and retreat to our sanctuary
of darkness ingrained on our hearts
and imprinted on souls,
where joys and comforts and truths
are told in the moments
when we don’t speak at all,
until our lives and our consciences
call us
back to the world
and we go in the knowledge,
that our cocktails of words
and touches, and our dreams
of the stars,
are creating most exquisite
and permanent scars that time
can never erase. And if I tell you I honour
your etchings with grace,
it is likewise honest, and true as the phases
of the constant moon,
and whispered for one reason,
and that reason alone:
Because I wanted to.

Re Vera (In Truth)

   
Who is anyone
but you or I
to question our constants,
our tainted reasons
to lie about time,
and wherever we have been
when most days
these moments with angels,
are needed,
just to breathe?
And surely
our methods
to heal
one another,
belong
to none but us;
for when we call
on the world
to grant that deafening hush,
and bring down the seasons
to soothe heartaches and groans, we know
we have bared
the depths of our souls,
been down inside one another,
and back,
seen where we are warm,
and swum where we
are black, and sullied, and yet,
still
we look to one another, with truth,
and say:
‘beautiful’.

Perhaps

    
How do I begin
to consider
what you see,
if you lay eyes, or breath,
or hands,
on me?

Surely, I can only
echo
your words…and
know that you love
my
untamed world and say perhaps,
that you see a soul
that answers yours
without notion to call out harshly
and ever roughen a moment
that whispers to your heart such quiet
and golden nuggets of gentle song,
that you ask me to stay
ever longer, as the light slowly creeps from day,
and you ask me to smile for you and to lay down
in grass,
to follow you and share a glass of heaven,
or beauty, in wet air and dew…and I
can only suppose that maybe you see things
in me
that keep you near;

perhaps you hear a language
you understand
when you walk at my side or touch
my hand to your waiting lips;
perhaps you are only taking welcome
sips of my medicine that seems to cure…
either way you see my doors are always open,
fences down,
and I welcome you in to drown, like an addict
at the bar who throws off disguise,
willing to catch you whenever you fall,
like the stars I hold in my eyes.

Night-Drunk

     
Drink with me;
come,
draw the curtains,
and close down the world.
Know
only
this…

nothing is more certain than
the morning light
the dawning brightness of
the waning night we will slowly
leave behind.
for we have
only hours now;
less time,
than ever we could
find
before.

Lie down; let us draw now
from the bleeding bottle
beside us
on the floor; forget the glasses;
and listen
as each
breath passes our wounded throats,
and we throw out our
ballast like stricken
U-boats; half sunken
on the edge of the world;
curled all around
one another
like tender stalks
of over-grown
clover
for protection
and comfort against
tomorrow…

for if we only refuse
to see it; or hollowly bear witness
to the gentle rising of the sun,
and if we loyally
beg the moon to stay,
then surely day
- and surely cold,
hard clarity -
can never come.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Lullaby In Glass

   
I’ve opened the wine
...to wish you here…
close your eyes and you
can be near and help me drink it;
help me sink
down into it, while we only
sit
and dream;
and you play
beautiful
music for me,
all night,
beneath the gleaming stars…
...it is simply our
secret balm
for all those
invisible scars,
and surely, a lullaby,
with sweetness and strength enough
to drown out any
rough or harsh regrets
we have foolishly let
set into
our souls
and there keep us
from sleep.

Miles

   
Tell me all the ways
you want to make me yours;
all the parts of me you want to
whisper to,
adore, and possess.
Come and question every
single
breath
I take when I am near you.

Come and touch me
like a broken arrow,
like an eagle’s wing in flight,
lift me up and force
my soul to sing aloud and give life
to yours.
Come and lay me
on the kitchen
floor and take
all those parts you named
before with caresses and smiles
in the smoky night.

Come ignite a raging flame of desire
on ice cold ceramic tiles…
I
surrender
now – take me with you -
and I will walk, or run,
or crawl
the thousand miles across your desert
to kiss you.

Rain Bathing

    
Mostly I’m laid
on my back, you know,
as I watch the sky roll over;
and I listen
to the drums
with a beer-bottle on my chest.
It tries its level best, I think, to take
these
raindrops
and cast them from me
into forever,
never asking if there is better,
yet to come or still
to be,

and it hums its way inside of me,
to soothe when I promise it kisses
and I let its wet blessings
caress my sun-touched skin,
until it sinks its gentle claws in,
changing and curling
my feathered wings
that feel
there has been
eternity
since they were allowed to fly.

So I close my weary eyes, and sigh,
as I lay back; the water’s feast,
and I suppose that I am thankful,
for the splashes on my brow
(and the taste on my tongue)
and the shivers in the cold
at least.

Comfort of Friends

   
Some things mend
without needles,
or thread…
…but simply with words,
or gentle forehead-kisses,
…or the knitted fingers
of friends…

The aches and stabs
of life,
they lend themselves
so well
to the cure
of this enchanted brew...

…and knowing only
the beauty
of that…
I gladly lend myself
to you.

Letter

      
You ask me silently
how far
I will let you fall
before you break,
and how far
I might ever go
away…
for although you say nothing, I
see questions below
your surface
that beg me, answer them.

But your answers, my friend, are
like the wind
on which we ride, as winged
horses or fireflies,
across moonlit lakes and misty
skies, with our lives on our backs…

Your answers are dreams, my darling,
- torture racks –
worth no more than the carpet
tacks that make up
your secret bed of nails. And so,
the truth is,
I will let you fall and flail, for eternity,
for where is the harm in wanting
nothing from me?
Where is the foul in comfort and glory,
and in time…and friendship…
immortal?

This much
is important…

…I will stay forever…

…if it only
makes you smile.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Sharing Stars

   
You whisper, “stay with me,”
beneath the falling stars
all the others
come to know
as rain;
“peel me like an onion,
shelter me,
lay me open”
you say…

then we talk one another
down to earth and grains
of sand and stones and grass
‘til we are filthy and wet, like horses,
muddy and writhing
on beautiful backs
with only clay to cover
our scars and our stains
when we draw forth stories of a future
of glass, the tarred and honeyed, glistening past,
and distant tomorrow’s fast kisses and you hear me say:

“are you more, or less,
a dreamer today than you were
when you promised
yourself
‘forever’?”
And I stay;
I stay just
as I told you I would
and together we touch
elusive freedom, and grace,
fingers stretched through the grey sky and rain,
then dragged;
wide open again;
across trembling, willing souls,
carving out a precious refuge,
a hole, into which we crawl,
whenever we
have need of treasure
or the sky begins to fall.

Due to be read at the Leeds Savage Club Writers' Meeting, 06.10.10

Monday, 30 August 2010

Two Truths

   
These two truths
have always been,
equal,
open,
self-evident
to me:
…all things change,
and everybody leaves…
…eventually.

So while I have you here,
for as long as you’ll
stay
and with no one else
but the waning day, and
the lengthening clouds to hear;
the evening’s rabbits and
lowing cows, as they gather
at the gate; while you and I
have nothing awaiting our attention;
nothing to do
to speak of
or to mention above
in passing;
let me get around to asking now,
who it is that you
really are?

And if you tell me,
as the sun goes down;
I promise only the stars
will be around to
really take note…

Well…
them and I who will listen
at your throat
and whisper
back
in your ear;
soft breeze stirring your hair
and your precious soul til you can barely stand…
And,
somewhere,
in all of this,
I will tell you too,
who it is
that I really am…

And it will not matter
if we are honest,
for we
may only be a summer long.

Missing

    
It is not that I lament
this solitude
nor look on it
with ingratitude for that which I
still have…but they
are cruel spirits who giveth
sweet liberty
with one hand
only then
to taketh away…

It rained today…like needles before the sun
came out;
but without a doubt, there could be
no streaking colours
painted for me
across a grey canvas sky…
for I
could not share them
or hold them,
still closer,
or ever tighter and golden
yet, with you…

and as life chewed at me
and gnawed my bones
and my flesh and
aching soul
I wanted nothing more,
right then, nothing less,
than not to travel,
and to breathe, and think
like fire,
all alone. And I wanted
not to miss you
and a time,
and a circumstance
I have come to know as home among
small hours
that I have leave
sometimes
to call my own.

Most Beautiful

   
Walk with me,
for we have not depths
that the lyrics would have us believe
we
live
only
in this gentle stream and the merry dusk-light
floating wild
like crimson kites, against a humid sky.

And we need
no more to survive, than this
our own heaven created,
indeed, no more,
than this nature incarnate,
and just to be.

And so we answer, “walk with me,
come,
lie down in the grass,”
cut off the shackles of present,
and past and cherish that unworldly crash
inside
as we go free
for here is where
you and I are seen, at our most beautiful.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Thoughts on Becoming Thoughtless

   
There is calm serenity,
or so they tell me,
in accepting inevitability
quite sedately…

One should not howl,
or question, they said.
One should not pound one’s
cursed, confused head,
but stop, take stock,
and plan one’s sessions,
of lethal lead poisons,
meant
to leak,
amongst my bones.

And one should not try to own
that pain
which could be layered out,
for family gains.
One must not care more
for one’s own fate
than that of suffering others.

One must, of course,
be…smothered,
in sad dignity.
One must not get lost
in health’s infidelity.

But here inside,
lies the truth,
of indemnity,
as I see with my own eyes.

One is becoming
Thoughtless,
long before one’s charted time.

One became diseased today.
It is happening anyway,
so why should one not
seek to say
all that has not passed
my cloudless, acutely conscious
and unmerry way?

It is not my choice;
this cruellest of jokes. But
for all one’s hopes
and plans and dreamscapes,
the escape,
I conclude,
(for you) as well as I,
is as random as love.

And I was always more lover, than fighter.
Now, more frightened
of the fight, than anything other.

Take cover, friend. You didn’t see that coming?
Well no, why on earth would you?
The world chooses who
will stay
and who goes out.

It is a basket piled high with woes.
A tale of the final horrors and throes,
you all shall see.

My mother will surely cry for me,
when I am gone.
But what of it?

Come death and welcome,
for clearly, some bastard lord of fate
would have it so.

Inspired by my grandfather, who died of cancer, and my mother who is suffering from MND.

Bird

    
Fashion me from straw and cut me,
please,
right down to size
for I have been anything
but wise amongst these days of late.
I have been but
a taste of many things,
most of them without the wings and halos
you’ve come to expect…yet
I’ve still grown those golden
flecks,
in my down,
that the sun breeds just
the same,
and I could live in a metal
cage,
in the lounge,
for all your friends
to prod and touch at the end
of warm nights –
with clipped feathers and a stunted
flight, they can marvel
at my plumage…and I’m sure
they’ll pay you homage,
for a genuine, fantastic choice.

Trapped Heat

   
Listen well,
for I want to tell you
of a minute's worth of empty heat.
And I want for you to feel
all
that I have need and
tender hopes for.

These are things
I would have closed doors for,
and forgotten,
some very little time past,
if only to remind myself
that I should never have asked for,
 - or deserved - ,
them better.
  
But the truth is, I'm as changeable now,
as ever,
as fickle as the weather, or the angels and these devils
that sit upon my shoulders,
and what is more, well capable, of hearing the songs
of both,
of rolling my own boulders
from the cavern's mouth,
...of letting myself out,
and promising her the world.
  

Home

   
My sunsets of pale ochre
glisten
on the waters of stolen time
that is no more
to some;
- unfathomably -
than a heathen, empty waste.
Have those who mock it
never tasted
what is true and blessed beauty,
after summer's baking heat
lays out
all grounded graces
on the surface of rain-soaked earth?
  
Have they never breathed
what mustard scent, caresses
mornings and bathes the sun's descent
on acrid, almost-August days? Have they never
begged a friend to stay and witness
a miracle
play out before their eyes? Never thrown off
feigned disguise and
laid themselves
bare
among wet grass? Never asked
to just be left there
with all that it is,
alone?
  
Tell me...
where do those,
who have not lived at all,
call home?
  
  

Let's Pretend...

  
Do you want to pretend
that the moths are fireflies?
That the areoplanes are meteorites, or shooting
stars in the dark
night sky, above our heads
as we lie on crushed glass? Do you want to ask for
a lonely wish to be granted? For a hopeless
dream to be almost answered
by these tail-lights
and beacons right now?

Or shall we not speak at all?
How about we just lie here
and stop
falling through these long days of life? Stop fighting
these sunrise-knights and their flaming torches
and the skull-aching torture
of this knowing insight...
Let's exist forever instead
inside the silence of dark
and the glow of twilight,
between the dawn and the
yawning evening plight of a sinking sun,

and we'll never endure another day, not a
single, vicious one - for we'll rise only
with moonlight and gentle stardust, to live
among the closed
and sleeping flowers,
and we'll dance away all
our beautiful hours, like ghosts,
without a care
or a worry undue...

Hush, be still...close your eyes...
take my hand...
We are there...
it is truth.
 
For a friend in need of a dream...

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Lullaby on a Knife Edge

      
These empty nights,
and tedious days…
it seems he only ever
now promised
to change. And it used to be
she loved his star,
no matter what it’s shape.

It turned out
she had peeled him,
like an orange over the years,
and only then
because he’d let her take,
every last ounce of sparkling grace, and make it
pass
for life.
And her beak fell sharper now
than the edge
of the knife he slept on
when I found him.

He told me then,
I was a sacred fountain;
that I made roses of nails,
that I put wind in tattered
sails and insisted he speed
towards dreams.
But I was just me.
And I told
the truth
in his eyes, that he should
see no more
than soothing stories,
as I wound my fingers
at his temples and he gloried in my golden sighs.

“Tell me just one more
lullaby,” he pleaded, and I caressed his neck,
as I talked of never
going back,
of being here always,
together
and free;
and whispered things that barely seemed
a hair, or a breath,
out of reach or sight…

…but I sent him home, night after night,
with an aching heart and a yearning soul
in fledgling flight…

- because I had to -

and somehow,
I hoped it cushioned the slicing,
and the sharpness
of the edge
of the knife.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

In Words

  
So…
put it into words, he says,
and for my life, I cannot begin
to describe such
sweet
sin, such guilt,
such pleasure as lies,
in these
stolen moments
of sublime
which perhaps
we treasure where we shouldn’t.

But surely the rest of the world
wouldn’t know
or understand,
that to walk simply,
hand in hand with
silence,
one must first
speak it aloud –
to a kindred spirit,
to a fellow wandering
cloud who longs to be free, who sees
all
unearthly beauty,
in rain walks and holy ground mist
and listens
only,
when the horses speak.

A tribute to the draw of the serenity & freedom to be found on horseback.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Don't Wake Me

  
"Look," she points,
to the sky,
and the trees,
and her smile breaks out
in truth
and freedom...
but they can only see
a field.

"Just lie here," she sighs,
on the wind
with her back in the grass
and the fairy-king,
- like a horseshoe,
glittering -
and dancing,
in her hair.

And she lets as much
time pass
as she dare,
before she wonders: "Do you hear that?"
And the whole world looks
straight at her,
as if she were nothing less
than a black hole
on the edge of space
and she laughs across
the sunlit plain;
she giggles, like the stream and says,
"If I dream now,
don't you wake me...

to save the world,

for the end of days,

please;
don't ever wake me."

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Rievaulx

     













Good day, old friend, it's been
some time,
but like one
gone
almost blind, I feel I am home;
for your stones have owned, moments,
of my
prolific life
without question or promise
of warm
safe nights or moral comfort...

...and I have always known,
your walls
had eyes.

You remind me now
as I sit on your carvings
of basest cravings long fulfilled;
you recall heaven
spilled in sunshine, on stone,
and things and hands long since cast from
my bones, and as I
trace my fingers on your
crumbling face
my own reddens for a lack
of restraint, in what was once,
holy space,
and I lick my lips and mouth
that name
and remember how we sullied
your tunneled drains.

Our backs to your sand, as the
swallows
flew over,
surrounded by moss and daisies
and clover, with filthy water
at our feet...
I see,
only now,
 - the first time I have been here since -
that as beautiful
as we thought
our act of defiance,
and freedom,
to be,
our supposed, sublime serenity
(and imposition)
was nothing here -
for it could not compete
with thee.


Written on a Leeds Savage Club Sketchers' Excursion to the stunning ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, North Yorkshire... ...the first time I had been here since! ;-)

Dream of the Hungry Heart

   
So you and I,
we talked about this before...
about what is and isn't
formed, in a fleeting instant.
And I guess now, all
we have to go on, is instinct,
and it will become
about those stories
I tell
to soothe you to sleep.

And as always,
you will say to me;
"keep talking,"
long after
you've begun to weep
for all the freedom
in the dream I mention;
for the purple stars and the big,
white stallions, we'd ride there instead of cars,
instead of trains
and noise
and painful life,
and I've told you all you have to do,
is take my hand and dive,
head-long
into tomorrow,
for I have borrowed a parachute,
to catch you
when you fall;

and I know I'll be beside you,
if you do...
for today, I find myself without you
and I miss
your heart's hungry call.

Inspired by a friend who taught me that I don't have a monopoly on dreams! :) 

Beyond the Bedroom

       
So I wonder why
it gets
this way, when there’s talk of nothing
but maybe and days
that seem to last
forever without touching,
without seeking
and seeing, and clutching at snatched moments
of instant satiation. And I cannot tell you it’s different
to the basest things
offered by creation,
for there are few
noble reasons,
I feel need to be near to you. There are few moments
where anything is due but general,
mutual
appreciation
of beauty
and pleasure,
of fate and desire,
of lovers, and liars, and of
this tiny furnace,
that seems ever
to burn in me.

Shut your eyes now.
Do you not see what is bare
and ugly truth?
It is all for want of having you,
and for bitterness when I do not.
It is all for a watched
kitchen clock that has never
struck past eight. It is all for the nights you were hours
late or never there,
for a watched phone that didn’t ring,
and the love songs you promised
but didn’t sing, if indeed
they were ever written…

…suddenly it looks very fitting,
(in its jumps and starts),
that pulling away, you should seem to me
not whole,
but as several
glowing
parts.

The Life of a Woman

(From Genesis to Deuteronomy)
    
See here, woman, how thou art unclean
of flesh, and all living wickedness art in thee,
but still, see, how thou art loved the same
and made as one with man,
made from him, no less,
born of earth and rib in Genesis,
as daughters have rights of sons.
See how thou art done well, by an honourable
God, despite thy vileness and thy sin?
See how thou didst begin in all deceit and gore?

See also how the mighty law protects thee
and defiles thee,
see how thou art free and guided
into chains. For thou shalt not kill, woman,
but thou shall be maimed
for thy whoring, and thy adultery…
…lest, of course,
thou be guilty…or be not.
And no sons wilst thou have begot
‘less in pain and misery, for thou deservest,
as the one who yeildeth first unto the serpent, and led men astray -
thus shalt thou crawl ever as he,
upon thy belly all your days.
And men shall be as angels yet, in My image,
to rule upon you for all’s sake.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The Gateway

The screech of the gate now,
fitted her mood,
for she could not rid herself of you,
and she found she was screaming
right on queue
for there was no more falling left to do.

In putting the unholy threshold through,
she had nothing but scars now
on fragile hands
that bent and folded to your every demand
that rolled over and bled upon command
and she could not care
much less
if she were damned
forever
for her part in this.

She threw back her head then
and welcomed your kiss,
though she knew it meant nothing but death –
beginnings and ends were both met
in a single, sweeping taste…

she trailed her fingers across your face
and left her perfume there –
stuck,
like black smoke,
to your skin
and hair.

And the screeching of the gate resounded,
like the sound
of lobster
in a boiling pot…

…to call
these
waters
‘hot’ was not nearly fair…

…by far the gravest danger
was that;
to kill or be killed;
for reward of you,
she dare.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

#Fridayflash - Unbeaten

    
She had been leaning on the fence for a while when she finally felt him approach her. Alissa sighed with relief…she’d been waiting for him, and somehow, he always knew that.

Despite her terrible mood, she found she rolled her neck and tipped her head back, welcoming the sensation of his breath in her hair. She smiled as the warm, humid breeze, stirred her dark curls. How on earth did he do that? She surely had nothing to smile about now… Well…nothing but him.

He stepped a little closer, chest pressed against her back now, and made no sound when he laid his cheek to her temple. Alissa felt him breathe against her, his chest swell and fall, and it was almost as though he breathed his strength right through her. Standing got suddenly easier as she reached to bury her fingers in the hair behind his ear. He was warm and safe and solid, and it didn’t take words to tell her why he had come. He was offering understanding… He knew exactly how this felt.

He pressed his chin into her shoulder then, comforting her, and returned her sigh as Alissa squeezed her eyes shut, wiping her tears. The bruise around her left eye, stung, from the flowing salt…but there was nothing left to cry for. Whatsoever she had lost, she still had him… And he knew her like no one else could; he listened to her very thoughts, trusted her with his life…and she trusted him with hers. It was so much more than she could ever say for Steven.

Alissa turned to face him then, and cupped his velvet nose in her hands.

“I want a divorce, Othello.” She told the great, black horse. “That’s the last time that man lays hands on you or I.”

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Islands

       
It’s 3am,
on a concrete island,
and you’re holding my hand
like the devil’s claw
as the lights swirl on a heated
floor of tarmac,
blacker
than coal
and you’re saying now
how you
can’t bear to let me go.

“So please,
don’t.”
I tell you,
“come,
follow me home,
we’ll pretend we’ve never
known
how very wrong
this is.”

Then you close your eyes and tell me,
mind my business,
because,
you have so much
loss to think about,
and love to worry for,
that you
can do without my
many flaws and failings at your door.

And then,
without games,
or warnings or more,
the wind slowly mixes
with the grimy earth
in the morning’s breaking dew,
and it joins
with my wandering soul,
as I cough up the taste of you,
on my tongue,
and make my way home
through the barbed wire,
denying any left
over morsels of desire that linger
yet.

And suddenly, saying ‘goodbye’ in the road,
on a traffic island,
seems as fitting as it gets.

Not quite a #fridayflash, but a story, nonetheless... :)

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Leeds Savage Club E-Book - Now Available for Free Download!

  
As many of you will already know, I am the current Press Officer for the Leeds Savage Club, a society for writers and artists in the District of Leeds and the surrounding area of beautiful West Yorkshire, in the north of England, UK.

Yesterday, the Leeds Savage Club launched their very first e-book...and not only is it FREE to download, and bursting with no less than 55 pages of stories and poems by our very talented writers (including uber-modest moi!), but there are also 59 images of brilliant artwork by our amazing sketchers.

Below is a portrait of myself (and Lydia, the horse I ride!) by Steve James, a founding member of the Leeds Savage Club and a long-term member of the sketchers' group - it's just a taster of the level of aptitude and ability you can expect to find in our publication... and of course, it's just to tease you...just to lure you in...'cause if you want to see (and read!) more, well...you're just going to have to download A Very Savage Affair, here, aren't you?


Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Farmer’s Boy

   
Inspired by tales of my dad's early childhood with his sister, on a Lincolnshire farm worked by their father and uncle. As a boy, my dad believed he would probably inherit the farm, but dreamed of broader horizons & someday living in the 'big house' instead!

You drove me insane,
you know?
Like twisted poles
on a carousel,
at a neighbouring county fair. And every time
I requested horizons
you were upright,
and standing there, in the road,
like a scarecrow,
with his arms
wavering in the breeze – you were ragged,
and always ready to leave, just as soon
as you had come.

And I remember the horses
in the fields were dun, and red
as apples in the setting suns
of nether-worlds we’d never see.
And we skipped across the golden barley
like flat stones
on surface water,
ever a contented son and daughter, of trees,
and of the cross-beams
that stretched along the barn.

And there was nothing like summer
sun farmed,
for best butter and cakes in the pantry,
and a dozen heifer-calves
raised by an aunty in the crew-yard
out the back; an uncle who slept on potato sacks,
on the steps of the tractor shed;
and a tilly-lamp lighting
our way to bed to dream of more wonderful days,
when we’d look to the big,
house on the hill,
for the will to grow
up and be,
lord and lady of all we surveyed.

My father's sister, Vivienne Maxine Taylor, was killed in a farming accident, aged 9. This poem is dedicated to her memory.

Needless to say, the farm was sold. My father never did inherit...nor does he live in the 'big house'!

What It Was

   
I have the taste of you
inside of me
and we keep talking
like we ever shall be able
to say
it is just the same
today, as it has always been,
forsooth.

But the truth is…
I want
to pull
it out;
that taste on my tongue
that seems only so wrong
as the instance it was
almost right. And so
I give you now
just one
more night of bitter lemons,
for it is surely only
the bells
of St. Helen’s church
that chime
their death knoll
for us;

and so we whisper loudly across the bay:
“Only let it be
what it was.”

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Complicated?

  
So
you’re all smoke
and mirrors,
are you?
Well there’s something
I don’t
believe –
come over here and sit, I’ll show you
you’re not so complicated
as you like
to think.

You want the same things
that the rest of us do,
it’s just that foolish,
valiant
you, would rather be brave;
would rather be
misery’s slave, would rather no one
ever says what is really
on your mind and written
right across your face
in those
big
black
letters –
upper
case…

Forget grace and dignity!
What about faith
and liberty and all
the natural calls of your fevered heart?
I see
through
that part of you that wants
only
to hide,
and I listen like a seashell to
the voice you have inside your armour plate -
I want you to hear now
that it’s okay
to laugh, to feel, and to lie about
the truth
and to need
- like air -
the very same things
as I do.

Mirror

  
Come out from behind
that smoke of yours
and I’m standing before a mirror
of me
and it’s been such a long time
since I have seen
myself
that I wonder all about the shelves I somehow
find I sit beneath,
choking, oh so quietly,
upon the dust that gathers,
as a sheep’s-fleece would,
around my feet.

I feel I’ve been walking
ever so long…
and yet,
I recall,
you searched for me once.
it was around the time I stopped
for lunch, on a blanket
made of dirt,
laid cold
upon aching earth,
in the glory of a setting sun.

And the dirt was running
through my hair that day
but it was the filth in my mouth that made
you stay and stand
and claw
at all the pretty words being spoken
about hunters’ eyes like yours.

“Throw open the windows, then”
I said,
“…and the doors,
…and we’ll let the smoke out,

for there is no question
anymore,
you are my mirror
without a doubt.”

Saturday, 10 April 2010

#Fridayflash - Thrills

“You just can’t help yourself, can you?!” he said, staring at her incredulously, over the top of his sunglasses as they waited for the lights to change. Martin’s leather-gloved hands gripped the steering wheel of the low sports car a little harder in irritation. “You’re doing it again!”

Felicity was slow to respond. She dragged her eyes, lazily, from the buttocks of a workman who was filling a pothole outside the passenger window. She frowned, as though Martin had been rude to interrupt her.

“What..? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She said, half-heartedly…and quite obviously aware of exactly what he was talking about.

“Oh, Flick, please, don’t try to be cute!” Martin said tersely, biting out his words. “It doesn’t suit you. Just put your damn tongue in, will you?!” Felicity’s mouth fell open in stunned disbelief and she felt her skin bristle with annoyance.

“Well! I am sorry, darling…” she feigned sweetness, rolling her eyes. “I hadn’t realised how much you dislike it when I admire something pretty.”

Martin ignored her, trying to be dignified…but as he pulled away from the lights with gusto, the revving of the powerful engine betrayed him.

“At least I only admire things…” Flick continued, deliberately provoking. “I mean…when they’re not mine… I don’t just go and take them…I’m not like you…”

“Flick…” Martin finally bit the hook. “That’s different! You can’t start complaining about that now! You knew what I was like when you met me…I’ve never lied to you. And let’s face it, you don’t exactly refuse the benefits I bring home, do you?”

“Maybe not…,” she smirked wickedly for a moment. “I’ll admit it, I do enjoy those… But I could live without them, Martin. The problem is, I really don’t think you could…and someday, your luck’s gonna run out. You won’t always be this young and in demand, you know!”

“Maybe I won’t…” he replied, pulling the car into the mouth of an industrial estate. “And then, maybe I’ll try and live without this…but would you really want that now? I’d be bored and grouchy all the time, Flick! I need the excitement…the danger! I have to have the thrills, the variety, or it’s like I can’t breathe!” He sighed heavily at the sight of her sceptical frown. “Please…don’t look at me like that! It’s just what makes me tick, that’s all. I don’t do it to upset you, Flick…I do it because I need to. I’m not me without it…and if the truth be known, you wouldn’t be you either.”

Martin pulled the car against the curb outside what looked like an empty warehouse. Felicity raised an eyebrow at him when he reached for the door handle.

“We’re not done here.” She said, pointedly.

“Just stay in the car,” he told her. “I’ll only be a minute.”

Watching Martin disappear into the warehouse, Felicity considered the things he’d said. It was true, she had always known, and she really did like the benefits of his ‘danger’ and ‘excitement’. Martin was always so wired afterwards…he literally came alive! But she wasn’t always sure it was worth it. Lately, Flick seemed constantly worried. Every time Martin left the house, her thoughts were consumed with where he was…and what he was doing! Someday she wanted to settle down, have a family…and they’d never be able to do that whilst he was still so…wild!

A knock on the window beside her, jolted Flick from her silent frustration. Martin smiled at her through the glass…a beam that lit the air around him and filled it with electric sparks. She found her own mouth twitching involuntarily as he waved a stuffed brown envelope at her, and his dark eyes grew luminous…

“C’mon! C’mon, get out!” he panted, pulling the door open. “Quick!” Flick stood up out of the low, sleek car and into Martin’s radiating cloud of exhilaration. Her eyes were fixed on the envelope.

“They’re gonna take her?!” She tried, and failed, to push down her own glee as her stomach flipped with anticipation. “How much?”

“Of course they’re gonna take her! Look at her, Flick! I’ve got great taste in other people’s cars!”

“Martin! How much?!” Felicity reached for the envelope, but he pulled it back, stuffing it into his pocket.

“£23,000!” He hissed, leaning to kiss her mouth, hurriedly. “Not bad for a day’s work, eh?” Flick caught the back of his neck, and pressed his lips to hers in a longer, heated assault. It left them both breathless, toes curling…not bad indeed! God, she loved him like this! It was contagious!

“Just wait ‘til I get you home,” she gasped, dragging her nails slowly between his shoulder blades. “…I’ve just remembered how much I love those…benefits!”

“Home?!” Martin grinned, teasing and sexy. “Oh honey…now you’ll just have to be patient! I work nine to five…I’m still at the office!” Felicity let him take her hand and started running…

“Quick!” he told her. “We’ve got a bus to catch…there’s a business conference in town…and apparently, the hotel has a hell of a car park!”

Felicity picked up her pace…just a couple more couldn’t hurt.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Knock Twice

     
You’re looking at me
from behind smoke and mirrors,
across a crowded bar that rarely delivers,
and I have never seen
more beauty
than this
in my clouded wake.

I have never regretted
a right decision made
in virtuous foolishness,
then preached without truth,
than the one I made
on a bar stool
with you inches from me,
like an unread book…

…and there are moments, I think,
you shouldn’t look at me
like that,
but the second it is gone, God knows,
I want it back, and front, and upside down,
and inwards and backwards, and I beg you,
lay me down on that guilty pyre,
for we’ve known it
ever so long,
we’re just dragging it out like the
chorus of a song and a dance, with too much
repetition, not enough
variation,
and I lied,
I want you,
every way in creation of man
and of woman from him…

…so ask me again, with that same, damned longing,
and knock twice…my stolen sin,
for this time,
I will surely let you in.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Bewitched

            
Take notes or something…
I’m working dark magic here;
some irresistible kind of heartbeat
that will draw
all innocents
near unto the flames
and the torrid, dark fires of Hell.

And if you dare to tell on me,
…you mark my words -
be sure to tread
carefully…for Lucifer himself
will surely fly
as frightened birds
caught
in a washing line, thrashing
and turning
and beating his wings,
and will bring all manner of unspeakable
things unto thee.

No.
You shall, of course,
protect me
and my heathen fairy-soup…
until it can be bottled and fed
to you - and make you mine
forever more.

Until then, remain, soldier at my door –
a sentry only for me,
bound there and bonded, unable to leave,
for an unspoken spell of bewitchment on ye…

…and who would have thought it?
Least of all me. For this
sorceress
didn’t need
to do a thing.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

#Fridayflash - Ladies Who Lunch

  
“How is your vanilla slice, Lucie?”

Evangeline tried hard not to sneer, as she tucked into her fruit salad with a dainty fork. It wasn’t as though Lucie had scope to be eating a cream cake…she was at least four pounds heavy in the hips!

“Oh, it’s wonderful, Evie!” Lucie declared with genuine enthusiasm, blissfully oblivious to the sly glances and smirks that passed between her companions. “Simply delicious! You girls really ought to treat yourselves now and again!”

“Oh, I couldn’t,” Evangeline smiled, though there was nothing pleasant about it. “I’m watching my figure…image is everything these days, isn’t it? And I wouldn’t want to show Daniel up at the next charity ball by looking a porker in my gown, now would I?!”

Jessica snickered at the thinly veiled insult, but Lucie seemed yet to be ignorant.

“I don’t eat dairy…” Jessica smirked, in an effort to confound Evie’s subtle nastiness. “It plays havoc with your skin tone…and, apparently, foreigners can smell you if you’ve consumed anything containing milk proteins! Stinks to high heaven, so they say! Just imagine…if Matthew’s overseas clients could smell me at dinner?! I would simply die of shame!”

Smell you?!” Lucie looked thoroughly amused and entirely sceptical. “Jess, that’s ridiculous! It’s like thinking all French people smell of garlic!” Lucie’s delight in the notion’s absurdity bubbled over, and she gave a hearty chuckle. The other women around the lunch table grimaced notably at Lucie’s frivolous, tinkling tones – her laugh was too loud, too crass…and it illustrated just one more way that she didn’t fit in to their world.

Lucie had married Richard last year…and everyone had been against it. There was simply no denying, the woman was from the wrong side of town!

Richard had clearly been smitten from day one…brainwashed, some might say… Lucie was so incredibly real, he’d asserted when he met her, suddenly strangely enthusiastic, his gusto rivalling that of a teenage boy. She was free – and totally unlike anyone he’d met before. Lucie did just as she pleased…was totally honest, and never apologised for being herself…

But everyone else could see, the marriage had obviously benefited Lucie far more than it aided Richard – he had got himself a shameful wife…a genuine disgrace, who wore inappropriate, short dresses at every occasion and never had the right thing to say. Lucie had earned herself a small fortune overnight…not to mention that gigantic country house in Hampshire! Oh yes…Lucie was very ‘new money’…and goodness, it showed!

Lunch, to Lucie, was about ordering the most expensive cream cakes, and drinking too much champagne.

“Let your hair down, girls!” she’d say, and have Evangeline and Jessica cringing, as she talked too loudly, ate too much food, and had the whole restaurant looking their way. Lucie simply couldn’t see that class and decorum were about less, not more…but less, in the most…well…respectable way possible. For the money Lucie paid for champagne and cream fancies, Evie and Jess could drink a £40 bottle of Appalachian spring water and eat organic rocket and crayfish salads – with no dressing, of course. Now that was classy…

With Lucie’s laughter reaching a crescendo, the women made their usual, untrue excuses, and left the Wednesday lunch in various executive models of Range Rover.

As she tottered to her own Barbie-pink version, on too-high Jimmy Choos, and watched Evie and Jess climb into matching, sleek-black examples, Lucie felt her diamond-studded Blackberry vibrating in the pocket of her designer jeans. As she worked the device out of the tight denim on her hip, she wondered which department store bathroom Evie and Jess would stop at on their way home, to purge what little lunch they had eaten.

Although Lucie knew how they felt about her…rude and loud, an embarrassment…she couldn’t help but feel sorry for these women. Evie and Jess were raised in this world, where nothing was expected of them but decorum, beauty and unconditional support for their husbands…so long as they were rich and successful, of course. Evie and Jess had never had the chance to know who they really were or what they liked.

Lucie read the message on her Blackberry. It was Matthew…again. It seemed Richard’s business partner was developing something of a liking for her. Poor Jess… Lucie wondered if she ever suspected her husband spent his lunch hour propositioning other men’s wives?!

Part of Lucie wanted to return Matthew’s message…something naughty and encouraging…as revenge for Jess’s suggestion that she smelled! But then, Lucie couldn’t do that to Richard…and she really wouldn’t want to.

Lucie smiled at just the thought of her husband, and wondered if he’d be finished with meetings early today. She’d bought steak for dinner. Climbing into her pink Range Rover, she threw the Blackberry on the passenger seat. Lucie stroked the pink leather gear-stick as she turned the key in the ignition, and slipped on her flamboyant sunglasses.

You might not be able to buy class, Lucie thought…or taste…but you can’t buy love or happiness either. Everything I need is free… she grinned to herself, still unable to believe her new life… and for everything I want, there’s a credit card!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

For Love Nor Money

  
For love nor money
I make you
nothing
but an eagle in flight
and less a child
that monsters might seek
to hide
beneath your bed.
Let it never be said, that I
turned the other eye
or was blind of cheek,
for it was me who peeled
the sheet away
and stood up beside you
to face the days and endless
nights, of black and green –
for I had seen
the colour of your
money long ago; but not your
love; no,
for that was buried too deep
and I would have to keep peeling
more than sheets,
more onion layers,
if I was ever to see it
baying
at the stars;
but for your love nor money,
I know,
I shall never ask.

Ode to the Owl & the Pussycat...

   
As a child, I really liked Edward Lear. So, when asked to write something close to utter nonsense for a Leeds Savage Club writer's meeting, I think he may have influenced my response! :)


Carpe is Latin for a Fish

“Carpe is Latin for a fish,”
they said,
and were patted proudly
atop the head
by the master.
“Write faster,”
he insisted, and steam
rose from
their viscous pens,
as they copied, parrot-fashion,
from the chalky surfboard.

The swordfish tutor tried his best
to invest the depth of his knowledge
in the tiddlers;
and the school was doing
rather well,
despite a controversial decision,
not to admit any
students in shells.

Shells,
you see…don’t do well.

He would stand before them
each day and tell
tales of life
under the waves,
hoping against hope that the shoal,
would learn of cars, and broccoli,
and caves,
and all things on land
that would stretch and expand
their little aquatic minds:-

“Carpe is Latin for a fish,” they said,
in unison,
and the swordfish swelled with pride.
Next week there’d be a fieldtrip
all the way
to the edge of the tide.

Why Not?

  
Why don't you just take what you want, when you want it? Even when it doesn't belong to you or it would hurt someone else?

Well...it's because that's wrong...isn't it? It's selfish and immoral. Even if you're an impulsive sort, like me, who generally does as they please and doesn't worry too much what others think...you have an internal 'halt' button when your actions would cause someone harm... So who do you reckon put that there? Were you born with morals? Or did your parents teach them to you? And what could possibly make you lose them altogether? 

There are definitely people who don't have limits, and who will just take what they want...regardless of the consequences. So, how are those people made? ...And what is it like to be one of them?

This poem was inspired by a Leeds Savage Club writers' task, which specified we should write about something rising from the ashes, a rebirth, or a resurrection. I wanted to explore an event or situation wherein, a person reaches dizzying heights of disgrace, and, due to touching the gutter, rises to live a life 'free' and unaffected by moral judgement...living then, by the new law of the Phoenix -


 
New Law of the Phoenix


So,
go right ahead –
pull me from the gutter
and lay me to rest;
- God knows where I belong.

Certainly not in the realms
of the strong, for I crawl
more than I walk;
I have an ever-crimson
mark
of shame
upon my head…

…it’s something I picked up in
your bed, no earthly doubt
about that.

But listen, sly, beautiful rat,
shut your mouth whilst I
hold court…
for I’ve always been
the smouldering sort…low burn
‘til the kindling ignites;
and there’s no stopping
a stalactite, once
it starts to grow.

So let’s
take
this
slow and win the race,
just like they said…
…and things will come,
true enough, I bet,
as a Phoenix
rising
from the dirt;
a blaze to feed my
insatiable thirst to feel
something more,

something beyond these
unwritten laws of
minding my hands.

Why should I not
have
what I can?
And what wants me back?
Why should we not rise from the ash
of devastation
we know we will cause,
flying a flag for something more
than the children we are:
afraid to fall.

Brief Tempest

  
Two things I am not:
an idiot,
or a child…better yet
I am
a wild thing, sent with the moon,
when the wolf did howl.

Today you asked me
very obvious things
that I thought you knew the answers to,
…and that,
on top of this,
is just the sort of mess,
that makes me want to kiss
or kill you.

“I don’t mean to bewilder you,”
you say,
as you skip and frolic away across
the dunes of our living room floor.
“Change your mind
a thousand times, my love…
….I will settle
all scores outstanding.”

So, I write your name in sand-ink,
and together, we wait for it to smooth.
For as much as this one crashes,
and breaks,
we know,
calmer waves
will be along soon.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

#Fridayflash - Black Jacket

    
As she drew herself, reluctantly, from the thick cotton wool of sleep, Penny caught sight of a tangled shock of shaggy, dark hair, splayed across the pillow beside her.

She rubbed at her tired eyes, still sore from the club’s dry ice and the heavy make-up she hadn’t quite removed last night. Her mouth felt as dry as sawdust, but despite the discomfort and thirst, she was more than able to smile at the owner of the dark hair’s presence. Well…rather at her own presence. This was, after all, his place.

Penny pushed herself up on her elbow and leaned gently across his naked back, until she could see his face. Her smile widened…Anthony…or was it Andrew?…was still fast asleep, his long, dark eyelashes, resting softly on his stubbly cheeks.

In the early morning light that filtered through the curtains, Penny noticed he had a large, electric guitar, tattooed between his shoulder blades. It’s neck and fret board were now clearly visible above the bed’s white sheets. Penny wasn’t surprised she hadn’t noticed his body-art last night. When she met him, Anthony had been wearing a black jacket that now lay discarded on the bedroom floor…and after that…well, she’d only really cared about what wasn’t covering his skin!

Penny pushed her own, tangled hair back off her forehead and breathed out contentedly, recalling the moment she first laid eyes on Anthony. His jacket was the thing that caught her attention… It was flamboyant, a vintage cavalry coat, double breasted, with pewter buttons and beautiful, intricate, charcoal beading. Rare and expensive-looking, Anthony had worn it well. The jacket nipped in at his narrow hips, and suited his messy haircut and the shiny, white guitar slung across his body. Up on the stage, he’d had an air of all the best things from the eighties…rock music and neon, the remnants of Punk, and the advent of Goth. His pants were just a little too tight and the music seemed to be part of him. He had reminded Penny of her self…aside from a voice like silk, he could have been her male incarnation. Watching him, up there performing to the crowd, she’d found herself captivated…and covetous… Penny had seen something she wanted to own…more than she’d ever craved possession of anything.

Penny had also known, it wouldn’t take much to get what she so desired. The musician was very sure of himself…but Penny knew her own charms. A glance alone had Anthony hooked. Just a few flattering comments, a couple of drinks on a set break, and a wry smile from a table close to the stage, soon had him playing only to her. Penny had flicked her wild curls in measured seduction, and raised a suggestive eyebrow or two…before she fixed her bedroom eyes on his and waited for her prey to bite.

He had taken the bait, of course. Hook, line and sinker…getting Anthony out of that sexy jacket had been little more than child’s play! He was, no doubt, used to attention – he clearly knew what he wanted too - and last night, Penny could think of nothing better, than sinking gleefully into what stood before her.

Truth be known, she thought, as she leaned over Anthony’s sleeping form, observing their abandoned clothes, she could still think of nothing better…

Quietly, and gently, so as not to wake him, Penny slipped out from under the covers. She needed coffee. The beer had flowed freely last night, and her veins were screaming for caffeine.

Moving with as much stealth as she could muster, Penny pulled on her tight black jeans and the vest with the shiny print that she’d worn last night. Anthony didn’t stir, even as she leaned over him to push the curtain aside and check the weather.

It looked warm outside. Strong sunlight filtered between the densely packed buildings of the city centre. Penny drew back from the window, and picking up Anthony’s jacket from the bedroom floor, she slipped it on, letting her self sink into its scratchy, vintage felt. The fabric smelled of him, she smirked…but that would fade with time…

Penny stood before the bedroom mirror, stopping a moment as she passed it…and it was just as she’d thought. The jacket looked fantastic on her! It clung in all the right places and was well worth the effort to obtain it.

Buttoning its shiny, double breast, until the jacket’s starched military collar stood almost upright, Penny gathered her purse and slipped quietly from Anthony’s bedroom… She needed to order that coffee.

‘One double strength Americano, please…’ she mused triumphantly, fingering a pewter button as she imagined her order. ‘…To go.’ There would be little point in pleasantries now…Penny already had exactly what she came for.

Sorry about my late post (again!)...was traveling last night, on a ferry to Rotterdam. Needless to say, the on-board musician was wearing a rather wonderful jacket... :-p

Saturday, 13 March 2010

#Fridayflash - Caitlin

It's Mothering Sunday in the UK on 14th March...so here's something fitting... ;-P   
     
Caitlin’s mum was one of those people who didn’t care much for life. That was partly what made it easier for the six-year-old, to watch when she drank the poison.

Caitlin knew that poison made mummy happy. And when mummy drank enough, she would sing - loud and raucous, at the top of her voice… Caitlin liked that! They would have parties, she and mummy, and Caitlin would sing too, staying up way past her bedtime. It was lovely to be so happy with mummy. When mummy drank the poison, she loved everyone – especially Caitlin – and she would tell her, over and over again.

Mummy liked poison so much that sometimes, she would spend her money for food, on poison instead. Caitlin was always hungry when she did that, but it didn’t matter. Mummy said life was very sad without the poison…and Caitlin didn’t want her to be sad. When mummy was feeling happy, that made Caitlin happy too.

Mummy kept her poison under the sink, or under the mattress…or sometimes under the sofa cushions when she watched telly. Caitlin had tried the poison once, when she felt sad, but it wasn’t a bit like the potions in Alice in Wonderland as she’d expected. Caitlin didn’t grow taller, or instantly start to laugh – the poison just tasted funny, like it would burn the skin off the back of her throat, and it made her cough until she was sick.

Mummy said poison made Caitlin ill because, it was just for grown-ups. One day, she said, Caitlin would grow to like poison as much as she did…maybe even as much as grandma had. Caitlin had never met grandma, but she’d seen poison make mummy sick too, and she knew she would never like it.

When mummy had too much poison, or worse, no poison at all, she would fall asleep for years, like Sleeping Beauty. When that happened, mummy would always be too tired to take Caitlin to school. Caitlin had tried waking mummy to remind her, but then she got very angry, which always meant getting smacked. So Caitlin would go to school on her own…because if she didn’t, her teachers shouted too. Sometimes Caitlin had dirty clothes, or put them on inside out. The other children laughed at her then, and called her horrid names, and mummy was right - life was hard and sad when she didn’t drink any poison.

Mummy hadn’t had any poison today. Or yesterday…and she’d been crying, a lot. There would be no money for poison until Wednesday, and that made mummy very sad, and very cross. The only time she wasn’t shouting at Caitlin was when she was sleeping. Then she seemed almost peaceful, just a little restless - like the princess from that fairytale…the one who could feel the pea under her mattress…

“Caitlin?” Miss Barratt’s voice drew the little girl back into the empty classroom. “You’re last again…” The teacher smiled. “Isn’t your mummy here yet?”

Caitlin broke her daydream, shoved her homework into her backpack and shook her head. Mummy had been asleep when she left for school, and she would still be asleep when Caitlin got home.

“Is your mummy coming to collect you?” Miss Barratt said, with concern. She’d been a little worried about Caitlin lately…the child seemed, well, neglected…but it wasn’t polite to pry.

Caitlin shook her head again, and Miss Barratt frowned.

“Is someone else coming to collect you?” The teacher crouched beside the little girl’s desk when she didn’t respond to the question. “Caitlin,” she said softly, “where is your mum?”

“She’s sleeping,” Caitlin whispered. “She’s always happy when she’s sleeping.” Miss Barratt looked puzzled.

“How do you know she’s sleeping, Caity? Is she sick?” Caitlin nodded.

“She was,” the little girl’s wide, blue eyes met her teacher’s. “And she was sad…but she won’t be anymore. I helped her.”

“That was very nice of you,” Miss Barratt smiled. “How did you help her?”

“Like the woodcutter helped the wolf,” Caitlin suddenly grinned, her milk teeth displayed in a sickly proud sneer. “She fell asleep then…so I’ve got a hundred years now to find her a prince and…” Caitlin caught herself abruptly, and looked a little panicked. “Miss Barratt?” she said, somewhat urgently. “Did I get muddled? Does a kiss still wake the princess if she hasn’t got a head?!”

Sunday, 28 February 2010

#Fridayflash - Dishes

 
I’m standing at the sink, my hands covered in suds, when she sneaks up behind me. She wraps her lithe arms around my middle and stands on her toes, resting her chin on my shoulder. I feel her lips nuzzle me there, and her hot breath penetrates my shirt like the heat from an open fire. Her long hair is loose around her face, and it tickles my ear.

“Thank you…” she whispers, genuinely, though her teeth are scraping playfully at the back of my neck. “For dinner…for tonight.” I smile and meet her soft eyes in the window over the sink. It’s dark outside, and it’s raining…and the glass is a mirror.

“What makes you think the night is over?” I ask her, trying hard to be suave as I attempt to arch one eyebrow and end up raising both. She laughs at me, like breaking glass, instantly mocking my feeble stab at ‘sexy’…and as she buries her face in my shoulder she isn’t even trying, but her act beats mine, hands down. My insides twist inexplicably, and I couldn’t love her more.

“Happy Anniversary…” she tells me, as I position a plate in the dish rack, watching the soap slide over its smooth surface, echoing the rain on the window. It slides too slowly, like the time this washing up is taking…

I wash a knife; a fork…and her hands push under my shirt, tucking themselves into my waistband as though they always ought to be there. She presses her fingers into the flesh of my stomach, and draws me back against her tantalising warmth, while I place the paired cutlery in the drainer. Her tongue runs itself, firm and wet, up the back of my neck, and I shudder. She wants my attention…and I no longer care if the dishes get done…

I draw my wet hands from the water and meet her wicked eyes in the black glass before me…then her hands are on mine, fingers interlacing before she draws the wetness back up my arms and spreads the suds across my skin.

I close my eyes as her damp fingers push themselves up the back of my neck, into my hair, and I can’t help but hold my breath when I turn to face her. She runs her thumbs over my cheekbones like she’s touching silk and barely rests her lips on mine as she breathes, instead of says, that she loves me.

And I want to tell her back…so I let my breath go…and I open my eyes…but of course, she’s gone.

Damn it. I really fucked up this time.

 
Sorry my #fridayflash was posted so late this week! Started a new job and been very busy. Promise to get back on schedule very soon. :)

Friday, 19 February 2010

#Fridayflash - September

  
My childhood days were full of wonder and glory…or so it seemed. The sun, for me, was always shining, and the barley was always golden. My skin stayed tanned year round and I was happy and warm, breathing perfumed country air.

Of course, as an adult I realise, it must have rained sometimes…but strangely, I don’t remember. To me, it was always summer…even when my Sundays were spent picking blackberries and the mushrooms scented the woods with their heavy musk.

My father, you see, was an excellent parent, and undoubtedly, the reason for my eternal sun. He loved my brother and I more than he loved his life, and it shone from him like starlight. We never questioned that we were his everything.

When Dad wasn’t working, out on our farm, he spent his spare hours by our sides, backing up my brother and I at our latest swimming gala or rugby game. He was always the proudest father in the crowd, even when we didn’t win – and as we got older, he revelled in the warm embarrassment we pretended his attention caused.

My mother, on the other hand, had never been around. Dad said she left when I was three, but that didn’t matter – it only meant he would have to love us twice as much.

I asked my brother about Mum sometimes, when it occurred to me that I ought to…but at barely 12 months older than I, he didn’t remember a lot. She had blonde hair, he said, the colour of our barley fields, and eyes like the blue of the sky. She smelled of earth and fresh bread, and made chocolate chip cookies on Thursdays… That’s how he knew it was Thursday the morning he woke and she wasn’t there - because the cookies were.

My brother remembered Mum’s breakfasts best, he said. She’d made him eggs, just like I learned to when I grew tall enough to reach the stove. Our Dad had never been there for breakfast…because cows need milking when the sun comes up…but my brother recalled that he and the dark-haired labourer who lodged with us, would come in later for cups of tea.

It was around the time my mum left, that my brother also recalled the commotion of an accident. Our labourer, Dad said, when pushed to talk about it, had slipped and fallen under the baler… We didn’t ask for more than that, as Dad found it hard to recount that day. With no neighbours for miles around, the two men were the best of friends…and Dad could never bring himself to hire help again.

Each year throughout my childhood, Dad would take us up to the woods in September, with bunches of summer’s last flowers…which we laid at the foot of a pair of oak trees Dad told us he’d planted there for his friend.

We didn’t understand back then, why the trees were two. You see, I had no memories of my infancy...and through the years, the truth faded from my brother’s mind too. We grew up without thinking about it…content with our wonderful father and our charmed country life… And in the midst of all that sanctuary, we hardly noticed that our raven hair wasn’t red, like our Dad’s, let alone detected the reality of how our true parents came not to be there. Not even when we stood at their graves…in sunlight…each September.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

'The Sight'

  
I could see souls,
you said, and I know
that scared you
half to death
for fear that I’d
see yours.

But you gave me cause to look
anyway,
didn’t you?
You wanted me to see through
your damage
and your lies –
you had something like
snake eyes, and they
looked daggers at me;
the doomed king (or queen)
to your Macbeth.

And you may call me damned
or blessed,
but I’d have hurled myself
from the tower for truth,
and it was clear how you knew that,
for there’d be no one there to catch me
when I fell.

I may as well have turned my soul
and all those seen,
over to the fires of Hell
and testified
to their lonely burning,
for only one thing is certain –
it wasn’t ‘the sight’ that left me yearning for
the rotten fruits of vile temptation,
for justice, love, and my own salvation –

No. You need not fear at all;
this queen never saw your soul –
just the choking blackness of
the hole
where once it should have been.

Been re-reading Macbeth this week, can you tell?! :-)

Monday, 15 February 2010

Medieval Architecture in my Glorious County - St. Hilda's Curves...

  
This is St. Hilda's, in Whitby, North Yorkshire.




First founded in 657AD, this glorious Benedictine abbey was the venue for King Oswiu of Northumbria's 7th century 'Synod of Whitby', wherein it was decided that the Northumbrian church would adopt the Roman Catholic calculation of Easter and monastic tonsure (the traditional monks' haircut!). It was also home to the Saxon poet, Caedmon.

The abbey was re-founded in 1078 on the orders of William de Percy, and re-dedicated to St. Peter and St. Hilda. It survived until 1540, when it was finally sacked during the Dissolution. 

The ruin has since been a landmark for many a sailor, and an inspiration to many a writer, including Bram Stoker in the process of writing, Dracula. I follow in their esteemed footsteps with a poem about my love of medieval architecture, and the compulsion to draw features and plans of St. Hilda's Abbey -


Drawing St. Hilda (Whitby, N.Yorks.)


I want to talk of curves and lines,
of willow trees, and creeping vines
and beautiful decay, I want to talk
of summer days spent
beneath your shade,
to vanquish all who seek to
take an ounce
of majesty from you.

O the things I want to do –

To touch you
And draw you
and coat you and call you
in dreams of sandstone and ice cream,
to hear you scream my name
back through time
in centuries infinitely more sublime than
this I dare call mine. I want to talk of
curves and lines –
Oh yes, and better still,
I want to caress them long and
Lithe,
Arched and true;
I want you – for as long as you’ll
have me, abbey, for as long
as you’ll let me
sit and copy
every swoosh and circle,
every rose and purple wildflower –

I want to taste you
for hours – to wrap my
fingers round pillars and butts
and cover you in the gelatinous
lustre of grace. I want to leave
it on your face, forever, – so you
stink of me, and I of you,
so we will be like the glued pigeon
feathers that cling to your hair and edges –
both of us soft and solid wretches,
unwillingly pledging
to be together until we are free.

Reflections

This ought to be two poems, side by side, reflecting one another, but blogger won't allow me to improve its appearance here (grr!).
  
Said I: Who are you                                   Said she: Who are you
sweet, joyous stranger?                               who looks on me
Who stares back at me,                               here from coolness and water?
a mirror of persuasion?                                This morning, more than most
Where did you come from?                          she is her father’s daughter of time and space,


Were you born on light in silver dawn?         she is ready now to hear the truth and
She who pushes soft tresses back,                 take off her face of heaven…for she
with hands like holy, waxen flax                  is older. The voice in her eyes grows
and dresses here each day,                           ever colder as she marches with the
with such life-consuming courage                 soldiers of life. She has known the cuts
and fire                                                    of several knives, and she has survived –
that it eats her blushing face?                      ever still as she was. Ever just
Will you not take your place                      as wonderful to look at, and ever plagued by
in darkness                                              demon cats, who brought her chains long ago
and bliss                                                 and fed her grains of sand. They shattered her
as you belong with those cherry-lips,           dreams and plans of fairy-castles;
my devil? And stop,                                 and taught her just one thing -
teasing my escape?                                   she could sing of freedom aloud,


Brush those glorious clouds                       yet throb with the wounds of battle,
from your nape                                         for the clouds would always
and smile, child –                                    be there
I’d give anything                                     to hide
to be so free.                                           her chafing, iron shackles.