Thursday 31 October 2019


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.
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
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.

Friday 25 October 2019


Our first home still looks the same.
I realised when we drove past it
how time has changed us
but not it. When we first moved in there
it felt cursed.
Blown apart by a gas explosion and rebuilt,
it seemed to whisper ominously, "I am the Phoenix.
I will outlive you!"
It's previous owners had become phobic
after being blown through the window
while still in bed. So they'd decided to sell.
But fear's restless spectre still clung to the very structure.
It confirmed my idea of life: impermanence, uncertainty.
Birth, life, death -
and too little time in between to achieve our goals.

How I disliked being alone there. The walls
seemed to creak continually,
so I had to play music to drown them out,
both day and night.
Gas in the pipes?
Would history repeat itself?
A long way down to the garden
with the rolling hills beyond.

We'd taken possession
amid the newness of plaster and paintwork:
a facade that concealed all that had gone before.
Would our lives cease abruptly: roasted alive
in a gaseous conflagration? Holding my breath
to avoid inhaling the ghosts
that still clung to bricks and mortar.
Youth shouldn't be so morbid - and yet...
our first night there, I broke down.
The guilt almost killed me. You'd practically
bankrupted yourself to provide a home for us.
Then all I'd wanted was to escape!
The unfamiliar terrified me.
Beautiful furnishings, spectacular views.
Ostensibly, everything I'd ever wished for:
possibility of living the dream
of domestic and romantic harmony. Suddenly
we had achieved it.

You, yourself, were my whole life:
lover, father figure, and all the girlfriends
I'd never had. You were saviour and protector
who stood between myself and life's cruel blows -
and all the might-have-beens. I had accepted
that you knew what was best for me.
But a strange morbidity frequently rolled
across my consciousness,
engulfing me in it's dark shadow.
You pitied my inability to see past it.
Onward through the rainbow of darkness I stumbled,
desperately seeking a moonbeam to cling to.
So we struggled on, hand-in-hand.

For me, that first home was our identity,
our first Christmas,
when I felt safe just being with you.
For you, it was a form of independence - and a good investment.
A solitary electric fire was the only source of heating,
apart from the laundry closet.
But I think you were happy too, just
being with me
and cuddling up on the sofa to gaze out over the town.

There, externalized, was our destiny foretold:
the distance, the passing seasons, and images of our older selves,
still together, in an uncertain future of laughter, tears
and devastating tragedy...

Saturday 19 October 2019


"Top Withens"...believed to be the inspiration for Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

Who could be Heathcliff incarnate? Only you.
Cathy? Only me.
It's how we were. Yes, quintessentially us,
from the very first reading. Our lives
playing out in the printed pages,
chapter by chapter.
Eavesdropping on parallel lives
that never were: just reflections
of us, mirror images. My passion
was demanding too much, an impossible ideal:
the Soulmate that never existed. Beelzebub
prodded me night and day.
The furious clashes were our nature.
Beelzebub was our master.
Both of us were driven
to dominate, to be top dog.
And both failed miserably.
The wild moors and crags
symbolized all we were: wild,
obsessive and half-crazed.
We fed off each other's paranoia.
My jealousy, your greed
terrified us both, like Emily's fear
of her own creations.

So who, then, was Isabella? Any one
of many: anyone young, blonde, blue-eyed -
naive, yet appealing. Oh I despised
as much as you lusted. You had
that power over me, could drag me
into the pit of self-loathing.
So I sought Edgar, to staunch
the bleeding of the deep wounds
you so carelessly inflicted. Nelly Dean,
alias my best friend, attempted
to make me see sense. Whose novel
were we living out? Too late to go back
and reread. Wuthering Heights in ruins,
a gaunt shell. Your rejection,
a shocking revelation
of shallowness. The mocking laughter
of Hindley became raging winds,
a destructive tornado. I hurled
the truth at you.
A molten thunderbolt, an avalanche.
The full moon's face
bleached the moor. I watched your features
distorting, fading into silver nothingness -
or were they mine?
Mine. It was I who was fading
and I blamed you.
But the true culprit was the pen - Emily's pen -
speeding across the page,
that had long ago sealed my fate.

Friday 11 October 2019


Now, time has come full circle
back to where we began - these words
unwritten, but spoken face-to-face.
Ah, such joy - truth is, last night I invaded

your aura in search of belonging,
my only bearings a juvenile obsession.
And, there, in imagination's furthest reaches
we touched - just for one mad, crazy instant.

It was the silence that provoked me -
and the absence of your physical warmth, as I lay curled
like a foetus, haunted by our shared history:
shrivelling here, cold as winter's frozen wasteland,

until daybreak...'til this...this torment
that defines my future in it's entirety took over.
And from the depths, what self-survival withheld
in compassion was brutally revealed.

For separation is our love's cruel metonymy,
and ours is this barren real world's
hollow persuits, that can neither comfort nor fulfill
the heart's endlessly brooding, desperate need.

Friday 4 October 2019


I first learnt to drive in my brother's bedroom,
sitting on a Meccano box planted in the middle of the rug.
"Back straight, head up!" Feet resting on Lego pedals,
I drove awkwardly: hands ok, feet twisting around each other,
as he barked out instructions like a cross Sergeant Major.
My knuckles turned white as I gripped Father's spare gear stick.
"Look ahead up the road!" I stared into the dark space
beneath his desk. What at I wondered?
He positioned himself in front of me. "Imagine I'm an oncoming car."
He swerved as I approached him in the middle
of a non-existent road. "Remember to check your mirrors."
He held them up, but I could see only the ceiling in them,
as I drove on the rug against invisible traffic
and concentrated on changing gear.
"Don't forget the clutch!" he yelled.
It was so much to remember
for a ten-year-old's constantly wandering mind.
But I persevered, all the while
dreaming of getting my PSV license next, easy,
and driving a school bus - or a coach ultimately -
further than the high street, the far side of Surrey even;
the farthest reaches of Europe...