Saturday 26 April 2014


Remember how we raced each other to the summit,
clinging on for dear life
as we navigated the almost vertical bits,
stomachs turning over
when heavy boots lost their footing
and sent loose rocks plummeting
to shatter nearly four thousand feet below?

Inexperienced climbers, our kit was basic.
Who was the most scared? Our nervous jokes
diverted attention from the constant possibility
of judgement error and certain death.
Oh it was definitely me:
in the shadows between those jagged rocks
I perceived hunched demons, presided over
by Death's own Black Angel.
And shivers ran down my spine.

You bravely tackled the Saddle,
while I clung, terror-frozen, to an outcrop;
desperately trying to suck the too thin air
into starving asthmatic lungs.
Suddenly enshrouded in thick cloud,
I lost sight of you.
A strange phosphorescence -
the angle of the Sun, maybe,
or something much more sinister?
My fingers, clinging to cold rock,
turned white as bone.
And the wind hummed a menacing lament.

A sudden chink in the cloud:
Llyn Llydow lay directly below,
a mere half inch in diameter.
a chilling inner voice challenged me:
Just step off the edge
and into this fascinating miniature world.
It's easy!
But logic intervened:
No. Remember how far up you are.
At this height, things only appear to be close.
You'd be killed for sure.

An abrupt vertical movement to my left.
A badly smashed sheep lay whimpering and twitching
in a rapidly spreading pool of blood
on a narrow ledge below.
I felt sick.
The shadow demons shifted
to enclose the unfortunate animal,
as if moving in for the kill.
A selfish euphoria gripped me:
It was clearly their chosen sacrifice,
not us.
We would be safe now!

A narrow shaft of sunlight
swept across the sharp tooth-like
edges of the summit,
sending those terrifying entities
flitting off into the ether
like the last wispy strands
of a retreating storm cloud.
Just then, I saw you
scrambling back to me
across that deadly Saddle
that has claimed so many lives.
Please be careful I mentally beseeched you,
then my gaze was drawn again to that poor sheep.
It now lay silent and still,
but it was a stillness totally devoid of peace.
I strongly sensed a Soul in purgatory,
desperate for a safe refuge:
felt it bolt into my aura,
where it resides in me still...

Thursday 17 April 2014


Echoes of Emily Bronte...

The blank white page appears to issue
a challenge - Emily sits frowning at it as if
caught up in some major inner conflict.

Their lives are so discordant,
these inhabitants of Gondal:
it's illustrious emperor, Julius Brenzaida
and his unfaithful married lover, Augusta Geraldine Almeda.

Although mere figments of a fertile imagination,
they have begun to elude Emily's pencil of late
and to take on a life of their own.
She no longer has power over them, can only observe
then record their epic adventures...
and today she is devastated.
She hadn't foreseen this:
the great Julius is no more.
His assassination has rocked the very foundations
of Gondal's great dynasty.
Augusta's numerous casual lovers are cast aside
as she mourns her one true love.
But it is Emily's heart that is breaking
as Augusta kneels, weeping, at his graveside
on that bleak northern Angora shore...

The page is no longer blank - it is filled
with words scrawled in unfamiliar handwriting.
She has no idea where they came from,
nor who wrote them here.
There is only the slightest recollection
somewhere at the back of her mind
of having temporarily escaped the confines
of Howarth's dreary Parsonage -
oh such a feeling of liberation, of utter bliss...

The clock in the hall chimes four times.
It is time to prepare dinner
for Papa, Aunt Bramwell, and her siblings.
As Emily clears her writing bureau,
she notices that the point of her pencil
is worn down flat to the wood...
yet she hasn't written a single word today.

Friday 11 April 2014


You were my life.
We pledged forever.
Then wet road.
Split second miscalculation
in speed and distance.
A silver thread severed.

Crumpling metal.
Intense pain.
Slipping into limbo.
of losing you.
Desperately trying to hang on,
but I am drifting...

Vague awareness
of swift movement.
Rhythmic sounds.
Shadows in the light.

Energy following thought:
our bedroom.
Ethereal arms reaching out
to hold you
one last time.
Oh why can you
not feel me?
Will you ever know
how much I'm grieving too?

in everything.
I'm messing with your head -
or trying to.
Didn't you just awaken,
mind filled
with images of me
and my voice calling you?
Or was it no more
than the drone of non-stop traffic
passing by outside?
And perhaps you've glimpsed me
shadowing your every move
within the darkened mirror?

Aware of your thoughts:
No...just imagination!
Dismissing my presence,
you move on.

But I'm still here,
watching you without me.
I'm living out our future
in a lonely place
where every moment
feels like eternity.
Oh I long to stay forever by your side,
but the Spirit is driven.
The Light is dragging me home...

Friday 4 April 2014


An afternoon in April:
sunlight patterns the bedroom walls,
finding unlikely kinship
in white reflective furnishings.
Children cycle past outside
racing each other,
their voices bouncing
off the worn grey asphalt
that is our street. leylandi trees
mark the boundary of our garden:
this sanctuary in the midst
of a grim urban landscape, impersonal
and intimidating, peopled with strangers
we assume to be potential enemies.
Hiding within the family tribe
has always been the safest option.
So we sit indoors, safe,
observing the outside world
through our computer screens,
like goldfish peering out through aquarium glass.
We remember the places we have visited,
or have passed through
in silent terror of alien customs
played out in foreign lands.
When we are recalling past lovers,
childhood friends now moved on
or present neighbours,
it doesn't show:
our faces remain rigidly blank.
At dusk, streetlamps light up
all across town.
An escaped pet budgerigar lands
on a branch of our sumach tree
and peers in at us
through the now illuminated window.
And we become the entertainment: absurd jesters
performing meaningless survival rituals
in our xenophobic prison.
But, unlike this small yellow bird,
we will never be free
of our debilitating mental bars.