Followers

Friday, 13 December 2019

CARROT

Dedicated to the memory of Robin Davies...


Utterly irresistible to me, he was
my first ever girlhood crush.
An addiction that drew emotions
into utter paradise. This boy
was the ultimate archetypal lover:
beneath red curls, the face
of a fifteen-year-old Adonis.

Oh how that half-smile sent
my senses reeling
and heart pounding wildly.
It remains my untold secret -
the endless unfulfilled hankering
to touch such perfection.
Oh yes, I believed in miracles then!



In adulthood now, and "Catweazle" revisited.
Easier to trace these days - online - typing, typing.
NO!! Devastating shock - my Carrot,
nine long years beneath the earth.
I SHOULD HAVE SENSED. As the axle of winter
turns from the sun, I've lost what I never had.
And yet...grief runs deep. So very, very deep 😢

Thursday, 5 December 2019

ACCEPTANCE

Day of uncertainty, day of frost.

With thoughts
apprehensive, I await
the judgement.

The crowded waiting room
is silent, except for

the TV mounted on a wall.

Through the window the trees
are bare, sky deep blue.
A muddy footprint
soils the pristine white floor.

No smiles in here.

Two tiny droplets poised
on the tap
of the drinking water chiller.

Lipstick mark on a plastic glass.

A woman emerges in tears
from the consulting room.

Today, I will not cry
if my consultant delivers bad news.
I will accept my fate and celebrate
each moment I still have left...


Written three weeks ago...I have now been given the all clear (at least for the present)! 😁

Saturday, 30 November 2019

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Boris and Jeremy going head-to-head
both promising us the earth.
But can we believe a word they've said
when words can be of such little worth?

They're slugging it out upon our streets
campaigning door to door,
predicting for us fantastic treats
and an end to being poor.

They'll cut our taxes, provide more schools
and fund the NHS.
What? Do they really take us all for fools?
We've heard it before in excess!

Who'll pay for Jeremy's free broadband for all,
the five percent super rich?
I believe his plans will go to the wall
when he encounters a major hitch.

For how does he think these elite will react?
They'll simply emigrate
and then the burden will be ours in fact,
leaving us in a sorry state.

The rich will be ok and the scroungers carried,
under Labour it's always that way.
But what of all those in between who are harried
and their earnings taxed away?

And how about the 'affordable' housing he's promised?
Where will it all be built?
Many thousands per annum is the gist -
and on green belt - does he feel no guilt?

And, anyway, who will foot the bill?
Once again it will fall upon us.
The alternative is more borrowing that will
be no less than scandalous.

We'll be plunger ever deeper into negative equity -
plus our worst recession yet.
Oh is this man so lacking in pity -
aren't we already too deeply in debt?

When challenged, our Jeremy skirts the edge
of truth, half-truth and lie.
He uses metaphor and deliberately hedges
in order to mollify.

Now Boris is a different kettle of fish,
his replies are far more direct.
They're loaded with humour and cleverish,
and the referendum result he'll respect.

Outlandish pledges are not his style,
his are believable.
And I sense no falsehood behind his smile,
nor in his absence of meaningless babble.

Oh I know he's a bit eccentric at times
and some see him as a "scruffy buffoon".
But when it comes to our rising rate of crimes,
he's committed to reducing them soon.

Well, I've watched and listened and made my decision
through intuition and logic combined,
and my vote will go to the politician
who will honour all he's outlined.

So my choice is Boris the Conservative
'cos I know he'll uphold the tradition
of our once-great nation, and carefully sieve
out all of this negative sedition.


Saturday, 23 November 2019

HEREDITARY

Lying here beneath my feet
is my story.
My history in these bones
gnawed by burrowing rodents,
relics of lifespans lived out
in unfamiliar lands.

These gravestones, lichen encrusted,
bear stark witness
to time's relentless onward march -
so irrelevant in my childhood -
that is slowly but surely grinding
my own flesh into dust.

Oh how they touch me, moment to moment,
these dearly departed!
My bemoaned loneliness becomes
hypocrisy. Just a glance around to see
they're all here and part of me.
Proof enough. And I consider now their lives:

the highs and lows of experience.
Swedish Great Grandmother, Danish Great Great Grandfather and the rest
reach skeletal hands to pull me in.
And an impression looms within earthy depths
of a gene pool, congealed into calcium deposits,
that once wore flesh and flowing hair.

Ah, these long lost relatives! They
are such a puzzling paradox:
perennially here, through births, weddings,
funerals and family heirlooms
and their blood pumping through my veins
takes me with them, like the undead,

into eternity, defying mortality
from century to century until I go,
a link in the hereditary chain of descent,
to rest beside them
and take root
while the living forget my name.

Friday, 15 November 2019

THE PIGEON



"It's only a pigeon," you said.
And the casual way you said it shocked me.
Through your eyes it was a non-entity.
Birds of any kind were merely things: unintelligent
and lacking the capacity to feel either pleasure or pain.
In fact anything feathered, in your opinion,
had no real reason for existing at all.
It was if they were some freak accident of Nature,
an experiment gone awry. Even common sparrows
were no more than an irritating nuisance.
Their chirping grated on your nerves
when you wanted to lie in. Impossible for you
to comprehend their discomfort
on frosty mornings. You were a camera
capturing images that lacked any physical reality.

I felt my world shift from yours.

The pigeon scrutinized us intently
like a scientist observing the multiplication
of a deadly virus, it's gaze fearful yet compassionate.
It's understanding
filled me with a powerful sense of connection
I had never experienced before. Enlightenment
came that day in the Nature Reserve.
Your intense aversion to pigeons:
"They are vermin that should be eradicated!"
Such rank hypocrisy! I saw red.
"No, we are the vermin. Look around you.
It's humanity who are killing the planet!"
The pigeon crooned in agreement.
Suddenly it swooped up, flew between us
and perched on a branch, still watching us.
And I could've sworn it shook it's head
as you carelessly tossed your cigarette butt
into a nearby hedge...

Thursday, 7 November 2019

A GRAIN OF SAND

A short story for Remembrance Day...


    As the train drew to a halt, Daniel slung his
kit-bag across his back and strapped it securely into
place. Then leaning heavily on his crutches, he hauled
himself up onto his solitary left foot and limped out
onto the platform.
    A peculiar sensation of timelessness swept over
him, as he stood gazing at those old red-brick walls
dotted with advertising posters for "Pears Soap" and
"Bournville Cocoa". And there, just beneath the apex
of the highest gable, was the clock.
    It's black Roman numerals stood out starkly against
the white face, and for some unknown reason it irritated
Daniel. Yet, he continued to stare at it as though
mesmerized, fighting the sudden crazy impulse to climb
up onto the roof and stop those hands from moving forever
onward. How he longed to wrench them backwards.
Two-and-a-half years backwards, to that December night
in 1942, the last time he'd been here...


What a night that had been! Jeanette had clung to him
as if her very life depended on it. And even
after he'd boarded the train along with all the other
men who were enlisting that day, she'd still clung on to
his hands through the open train window.
And as the train had begun to move off she'd walked alongside,
still gripping his hands so tightly that it hurt, with
tears streaming down her smooth round cheeks and dampening
her soft dark curls.
    "I love you," she'd cried out, "Come back and marry
me, Danny!"
    A moment later, her tiny slender figure had been
swept away in a tidal wave of sobbing wives,
mothers and girlfriends.
    Daniel would never forget her last words. In fact,
if he hadn't had his Jeanette to come home to, he felt sure
he would never have made it through those terrible days
and nights on the battlefield. But although it had been a
living hell for them all - knowing that any single moment
could be their last - Daniel, at least, had managed to
hang onto his sanity. And all because of Jeanette.
He'd owed it to her to survive because she'd depended
on him.
    And survived he had. Even lived through that final
blow!

    It had been a sweltering August day, and they'd
all been tired, hungry and depressed. The Jerries had
them surrounded, and out there in the desert there had
been nowhere left to run. Then the Sergeant had spotted
two high sand dunes and ordered them to lie face down
between them.
How that sand had burned them through their clothing!
    They had looked all set to escape, but then Archie
Cummings had suddenly cracked and gone berserk. Before
anyone else had realised what was happening, he had jumped
up and run out into the open, screaming obscenities at
the approaching enemy tanks.
    They had open-fired, blasting him a good six feet
into the air, as a fountain of blood spurted out of a
gaping hole in his back.
    The next thing Daniel knew, there was a massive
explosion and he had been showered by the shattered
remains of his mates flying at him from all directions
imaginable.
    Too terrified to move, he had just continued to
lay there, face down in the rapidly reddening sand - in
spite of a mouthful of blood that made him feel sick
and threatened to choke him.
    The silence that followed had been almost harder
to bear than the thunderous blast itself.
    When Daniel had eventually dared to turn his head
and open his eyes, he had been horrified to see a severed
leg lying right beside him. It had taken him a full ten
minutes for the awful realisation to dawn.
It was his own!

 
 "You alright, lad?"
    Daniel jumped and spun round to face the station
porter. The old man's eyes were full of pity. That
was more than he could take.
Ever since that blast he had seen it in too many pairs
of eyes. He wanted to scream at the old man, I don't want 
your pity. Just leave me alone!
But he smiled politely and replied, "Yes, I'm fine thanks.
Just thinking." Then he limped away and disappeared
through the station building and out into the road.
    The sun beat down mercilessly on Daniel as he made
his way slowly down the narrow side lane towards "The
Pines".
    Dear God, he prayed silently, Please let her be
there!
    He realised he had been reported missing and presumed
dead, and now all he could do was live in hope. But he
wasn't going to expect too much. After all, the sight of
such a broken apology of a man could well put her off
him for good.

    Daniel shook from head to toe as he paused in the
shade of the two tall pine trees which stood on either
side of the white spotless gate. The sight of that tiny
whitewashed cottage brought the past rushing back
to him in a tide of pent-up emotion. He could have cried.
He longed, yet feared, to see Jeanette again after so long.
To feel her arms around him, to see the love light up
her eyes.
    But the possibility that she might find him repulsive
was a phobia so strong that he almost turned and walked
away. But something in the depths of his Soul
forced him on. You've come this far, you can't turn
back now!

    Daniel opened the gate and walked slowly up the
flagstone path between the flower beds. To the right
of the front door a window stood wide open, and through
it came the gentle notes of music from a wireless.
    A tiny muscle twitched uncontrollably at the left
corner of Daniel's mouth as he approached the door.
    He took a deep breath, lifted the heavy brass
knocker, then let it fall.
    The resulting BANG almost deafened him, reverberating
around inside his head until he felt faint. And just for
a moment he could have sworn he was still laying face down
in the blood-soaked Algerian desert.

The door swung open and Jeanette's mother stood
there, staring at him in disbelief.
    "Aren't you going to ask me in, Olive?" Daniel
asked, not knowing what else to say.
    By way of a reply, she crushed him to her ample
bosom, almost squeezing the breath out of him. Then
she drew back and looked at him, while blinking back the tears.
    "Oh Danny, what a miracle! We all thought you
were..." she broke off, biting her lip.
    "You thought I was dead," he finished for her, and
she shivered.
    "Come on in and I'll make a pot of tea," she said
as though he'd never been away, and taking his arm
she led him inside.

    In the dingy little kitchen at the back of the
house, Olive drew up a chair to the unlit fireside and
Daniel sat down.
    "You haven't changed I see," he said, smiling, as
she filled a kettle. "Tea always was your cure for everything."
    The kettle on, she came across and sat facing him.
    "You've grown so thin, lad. What you need is some
of my stew and dumplings inside you. What happened to
your leg - oh I'm sorry! How tactless of me to ask that!"
she added quickly when she saw a dark shadow flit across
his gaunt features.
    "Courtesy of the bloody Jerry bomb that wiped out
our entire troop, save the sergeant and myself. The doctors
told us we were lucky to be alive."
    "Yes. And thank God!"
    The kettle boiled and Olive went to fill the teapot.
    Daniel gazed thoughtfully at her back for a moment,
carefully choosing his words.
    Then he swallowed hard and began, "Olive, you know
why I've come, don't you. Do you think she'll still
want me when she sees what I've become? Am I fooling
myself to believe she could still love a cripple?
I realise I'm no longer the healthy twenty-one-year-old
she knew, but I've never stopped loving her. I never
will. Do you know, if it hadn't been for Jeanette, I'd
never have survived that blast? Only my love for her
pulled me through."
    Daniel knew something was wrong the moment he saw
the sadness in Olive's eyes.
    "Jeanette was married last April," she said gently.
"I'm so sorry, Danny. Truly I am."
    She reached out to hug him, but he stood up abruptly
and shoved her aside.
    "Don't touch me. I don't want any of your bloody
pity. Not your's nor anyone else's. God, why couldn't
I have been blown to bits like the rest of them? I
might as well have been, because I'm already in hell
now anyway!"
    Unable to bear his anguish, he slumped down onto
the kitchen floor, great sobs of hopelessness echoing up
the chimney, as his heart finally broke.
    Olive knelt down on the kitchen floor beside him,
her own silent tears dripping down her apron, and for
the second time she held out her arms to him.
    This time he clung to her fiercely, his fingers
digging into the soft flesh of her back, until exhaustion
deadened his agony and he fell asleep.

    Daniel woke sometime later, still in Olive's arms
with his head resting on her shoulder. In spite of a
painful crick in his neck, he lifted his head and looked
up into Olive's face. She was looking at him, but she
didn't say anything, just smiled sadly.
    Daniel quickly snatched his eyes away from hers,
deeply ashamed of his earlier outburst. He struggled
up onto his crutches, picked up his kit bag, and began
to make for the door.
    Olive followed, frowning.
    "What are you going to do, Danny?" she asked.
    "Get the hell out of your lives and leave you in peace,
what else?" he replied, almost sarcastically.
He still kept his back to her in an effort to conceal
what he was feeling.
    As he opened the front door, she touched him lightly
on the shoulder.
    "Please stay a while longer. Don't leave like this.
Come back inside and I'll make another pot of tea."
    He turned round and looked her straight in the
eyes. "Tea won't cure this disease, Olive," he replied
in a choked whisper. And it wasn't until he was down the
path and out of the gate that he heard the door click to.

    Daniel wandered aimlessly down to the far end of
the narrow dusty lane, and finally stopped to rest at
the iron bridge which spanned the river.
    Leaning on it's railings, he stared down deep into
the swirling, gushing torrent below. It seemed to reflect
his own pointless existence, forever driven along by the
winds of fate.
    Suddenly a car backfired loudly, just up the lane
behind him. Daniel instinctively threw himself onto
the ground, covering his head with his hands.
    "Damn the Jerries!" he cursed, shaking with fear.
Then, with a strength he didn't know he possessed, Daniel
gripped the railings and hauled himself up onto his foot
in a cold sweat. He looked over the edge.
    Beneath a scorching sun, the grey sand was swirling
and flying around in front of him.
    Another bloody sand storm, he thought, but at least 
it will hide me from these murderous bastards!
    He was only mildly curious as to what railings were
doing in the middle of the desert, as he scrambled over
them.
    With heart pounding, Daniel threw himself into
the dense sand. But he was drowning in blood. He could
taste it and smell it. It filled his lungs. He was
choking.
    Loud, muffled voices drifted to him from somewhere
high above, followed by a splash beside him. Then a
pair of arms were reaching out for him.
    But, NO! The Jerries were too late. They'd never
get him now. Not here in this red desert. Here, he
could hide for all eternity and never be found.
    He was just a minute grain of sand. And it would
take them forever to discover exactly which one.
    

Thursday, 31 October 2019

THE DISCARNATE

A tale for Halloween...😉

Messing around with the Ouija Board
that Samhain. It was a Halloween gift
from a well-meaning friend. Oh how it's letters
and numbers intrigued me.
Pioneer in the arena of stupidity!
That evening I opened mind, body and Soul
to who knew what. I cared not. I was a student
gluttonous for knowledge of all things occult,
the entire cornucopia. I began calling out:
I had to do it right, like in the movies -
I called out loud, determined to be heard.
And my Spirit, and whatever unexpressed need
it harboured, called with me.
I'd assumed I was strong enough - was well protected
against unwanted intrusions by the circle of salt
I had spread around myself and my board.
But, suddenly, something breached my amateurish defences.
The sweat burst out.
I was shaking. My head! I was accustomed to migraines,
but this was something else. Pounding, stabbing pain.
Then, that night, on my pillow
the drumming of my pulse in my ear.
Visions:
a strange land, another time -
playing Russian Roulette with my sanity. Weird
to be lying on my bed
and watching the room morph into the unfamiliar.
It knocked me to pieces,
as if my entire being was fragmenting.
And yet - I was still me. But, was me still I ?
This I, that had always got me through
life's challenges, that I knew inside out -
how could it fail me now?
It had been with me forever, a kind of inner Guru.
A sudden spike
through the left side of my head.
Or a sword? Horrific image of a thin blade
piercing my crown and continuing down through my neck.
Or a knawing at my brain
from the inside. Even worse,
the terrifying dizziness - instant slip
from infinite thought to mental paralysis.
Physical movement jolted into neutral
and awareness no longer under my control.

How many thoughts in a day?
Hypochondria screaming in a language I couldn't understand.
Was I going to die? I tried to give voice to my fears
with a tongue that tied itself in knots.
I tried to write it down, but hands refused
to obey - wobbled uselessly, like half-set jelly.
My waking in confusion. Going to bed
with a favourite book that I didn't recognise.
The invisible block of concrete
that came down on my head,
knocking me senseless.
Sudden impulse: staggering to the mirror.
Blood oozing from nose and ears
like scarlet rivers - a ghastly omen
of impending doom?
I became a battering ram. Pounding, pounding
against castle doors unyielding.
Then the golden Mace, battering the doors
of Parliament. I was everywhere.
And nowhere. And through it all,
the horrifying panic.
Disintegrating from the inside out,
I felt already posthumous.
Whoever I looked at, their names escaped me.
And they stared clean through me, seemed to feel
a breeze and shiver, and maybe catch a glimpse
of a flitting shadow out of the corner of an eye, looked again
and saw nothing.

My redeemer
was the exorcist they called in.
I recall very little, only the agony
of being torn apart and then re-integrated
with sacred water and sea salt.
And many words, meaningless words,
drifting in and out of my stupor - that cast out
that incapacitating dead weight...

My new research:
who had invaded my body? Who
had slipped in between the letters and numbers
on my Ouija Board, to inflict such pain
and confusion? And was it simply to amuse himself?
Who was this discarnate joker
who had come to share with me
his death pangs from a brain tumour?
Wearing my skin, his consciousness composed
my poem, using my hand to record the physical agony
and the mental torture of desperately seeking
this mirror or that mirror, for confirmation
of continued existence -
only to find
nothing.
Almost worse than the pain,
the sense of being cut off, of being
ignored by everyone:
total solitary confinement
with no explanation, no crime committed.
Only endless punishment,
and such ghastly apprehension.

Only now do I fully understand.
Not so much the joker,
more a lost Soul
in torment and despair,
anxious for acknowledgement
and a way out of his personal hell-in-limbo...

and I just happened
to inadvertently open a portal.