Monday, 3 March 2014

And as the Sea gave, shall the Sea take away

Out in the straits, ships sail on in grey smoke: some with decks empty, some with men checking ropes, and one with a milling crowd taking their last glimpses. Each passing bow wave, rolling over a grey sea flecked with white, sighs on pebbles ,stretched out to muddy patches of harsh grass held back by a rock wall. Overhead, a seagull screeches, falling behind me towards the wooden framed house, where a lit window beckons in the early morning gloom. Five ships have drawn by and away since I rose to sit in the cold wind and remember a child not of mine, but one I loved. As always too soon he becomes a man, losing all innocence except hope. On birthday mornings. I would wake him with a tray made of sea-shore wood piled with a plate of scrambled eggs and the tea in a cracked bull mug. On a full moon, laughing together, it would be thrown high over the beach into the sea. In the mornings, alone on the shore, I would search for another year or to learn if the sea called. When he stirred, I would straighten the eiderdown and then sit on the nearby bench, moving aside his clothes. Sitting up, he would smile and reach for the tray. He always ate quickly before slowly sipping his tea, in silence. When ready we talked according to the mood of the sea: slow some days, others with stories taller then a mast. All the time I ignored the paintings and drawings; some of sailors weeping, others of ships, some with oars, some with sails, breaking apart in wild waves, and others of women like bleached bones on the beach looking out to sea. Some were by him but most were by the others who had rested here. Once they told my future but it was my past that betrayed. A husband dead, a sister dust - both mere words - when once one a chesty laugh and the smell of wood smoke and the other a giggle over secrets and gossip. And I had no child to comfort me. I prayed to the Gods, bled the Bull, and threw doves to the wind. Then on the day of storms, the sea gave me a son, his skin water soft and his breath of mist. I asked not the price. Then when my skin grew to wood bark, my teeth fall as autumn seeds and breasts became bloated baskets, the sea came for me. And my grandchildren found only the sea-spray of a hot summer’s day. Since then, many have seen my eyes and felt my embrace and learnt that no lamp window waits. Yet I keep some safe for women wearing the water of a child. Those children find me. At last the sun breaks away clouds and the light in my window dims. The cup with bull fresh and bold is taken out of my coat and I throw it up and over muddy grass and the sighing pebbles. It soars over the sea that is turning blue and falls towards the distant ships ready for its return.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Winter Blues

On a summer day Grasshopper dude was hanging when he saw Ant toiling.

‘Wassup bro come and chill', he called.

‘Far too busy, I must work or starve. Times change,’ sneered Ant.

Alas chill winter came.

Grasshopper warm and chewing on roasted Ant thought, Yep, change with the times, bro.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Work in progress

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'Take of the earth its fruits only if sown with the sweat of your labours,' said the LORD.

This was so said Kings and the lowly said Amen.

Till truth fell Kings to sweat in fields.

And then it came to pass that Bankers said this was so and the lowly said Amen.

Till truth...

Saturday, 15 February 2014

I told you I'd come back

What flowers should I order?’ said Harry struggling to stand as his legs trembled and the pain in his chest got worse.

‘Well what does she like’ said Kali the care assistant, trying to look interested as she wiped the dust around his room.

Harry, thought for a moment, then smiled and said ‘Roses'.
The blitz was still bad but Harry ran through the streets to Rose’s house. He was being sent up to York tomorrow for training and then being shipped out to the Far East. As he neared the house she was waiting for him. 

‘Hurry up, mum will be back from the factory in an hour or so,’ said Rose in a strange nervous tone. 

Shutting the door behind her, she kissed him and pulled him upstairs to her room. In one sweep her dress was off and she stood naked. 

Harry stunned, said, ‘No, it’s not right’. 

Rose just put her fingers to his lips and said, ‘you could be dead before I see you next and I don’t want regrets and might have been’. 

Throwing back the bed covers the sheet was covered in the petals of a red rose. 
In the morning, Harry’s son came to lay out the old demob suit that he had always kept just in case. Thanking him, he stayed with his thoughts. His wife, now long since buried, had always known she was second fiddle. Thank God, she saw me as a good man and knew that love comes in many forms. Our Mark was never left bitter. 

Seeing his father crying Mark said, ‘Dad you know that mam, would be OK with this’. 

‘I know but-,’ 

'No not for me to know.' Mark quickly got busy and distracted his father with shaving and dressing. 
Harry got the letter while on service about Rose and his baby and wrote back but was captured by the Japs, When he got back he only found bombed houses and half- remembered names. After a while he got on with his life.  Then one morning a knock at the door and a Hello dad,’ from a dapper grey haired man. 

'Pardon, I ain't lost me marbles yet, you're no son of mine.'

George just smiled and said 'Rose begs to differ.'
At the church, Harry’s younger son walked him down the aisle as they waited for his older son to push Rose down to meet them. Meeting eyes, they both knew it was right and Harry bent down to whisper, ‘I told you I'd come back.’

Friday, 14 February 2014

Strict Alice

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Alice was a good girl. All the boys said so. She said it was the practice.

She was especially good to the big bad boys, taking them in hand. When she spanked them, they said they deserved it and never complained. 

When taking her particulars down, the policemen agreed that Alice was very, very good.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Walking to the Moon

'My name is Lenny and I love walking to work. It makes me happy. I am twenty-two years old but when I walk to work people laugh at me. When I watch cartoons on the TV, I laugh because its funny but they laugh at me and shout at me saying I am stupid. Mum says I should ignore them but they make me feel sad. I try to be nice and smile but the kids run up and try to trip me and hit me and say bad words. They throw things at me. If you do not believe me, look at the scar near my eye. See it? That was done by a stone the size of my fist. My face got all hurtful and my eye went dark with blood. I cried and ran away. The big policeman came and let me ride in his car and asked lots of hard questions and said he would tell the mums and dads of the kids not to throw stones. They still did and Mum said a rude word about them and said their mums and dads gave lots of presents to bad kids and none to good kids.I walk to my work at the mushroom factory in Cable Street. I enjoy my work. Mr Armitage is the boss. He tells me to stand by the conveyor belt and pick out the brown and black mushrooms as they go past. These are bad. He says I am the best mushroom sorter he as ever seen and always gives me and the others a smile when he says that. Mr Armitage is nice. He says I am money in the bank. The others laugh and look sad when he says that to them. When I am picking out the bad mushrooms, I like that I can add and think about how many mushrooms I am sorting. And how many my friends are sorting. The small numbers make patterns in my head and I use them to count big things like where the stars are and how small things can get.I go and see Mike my friend on Saturday. I met him on the internet. I have lots of friends on the internet and we talk about numbers and what you do with them. Mum will not let me see the friends I make chatting. She says they may be bad and want me to take my trousers down and I must only allow Doctors do that when she is with me.That is silly. Mike has said he is not interested in my trousers and says I am the best in the world at looking at shapes and breaking them up into many small boxes, and adding them up to say how big or small things are. The words he writes are too hard for me to understand but he is showing me lots of new ways of playing with the numbers in my head. He says I can look at any figures and get answers quicker then a machine. Mike says he going to help me get work going to the moon. I have money for a train ticket and he says he will meet me at the station. And has asked me have I told my mum about meeting him.He says I can still walk to work but I will miss counting the mushrooms. If I tell the kids that say bad things to me that I am going to walk to the moon they may be nice to me. I will tell them when I walk home tonight. And I can tell my mum my big surprise. I bet she will be happy.'

Friday, 7 February 2014

Ooh, woo, wee Wild night is calling

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Dog wakes me up at 1am being sick. I sort as Wife sleeps on. 

Dog wakes up at 2.30am. I sort... 

Give up on sleeping to fumble for glasses - because you can't stare, if you can't see. Wife moans I've woken her. 

So now downstairs wondering where did the wild nights of youth go?

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The wind calls your name, get out of your bed

‘What was that tune, the one we heard at the Cart and Horse, just off Marrow Road at the back of Wheel’s stocking factory, the one they knocked down for those council flats. You know, we heard it around the time of the Coronation when we had a street party but not a telly as your Mam fall out with Aunty Grace over who had the last pork chop. Anyroads, the hospital is bigger than when I was rushed here to have Trevor, do you remember that night, you drunk down stairs with my Dad and me screaming out to me mother up in the bedroom. Dr Hoods was so nice – warm hands and a smile. Not like the ones today all beeps and cold questions. So was it a rock and roll song? Did we have them back then? It might have been country, but how would we have heard songs like that on the wireless? We had to listen as a family so none of our parents would have let us play what they would have seen as smut.  Where was I, so yes where I come in, the entrance is all glass and metal with lots of people sitting around waiting for other folks to call them to wards and clinics? I could see in the glass that wearing my best, shop brought, not catalogue were a mistake. The dress and hat made me look that I missed the church and had popped in for directions. Last time I was early, so I fancied a bit of ham and lettuce with tomatoes, no chance. The cafĂ© there only served chips and fry-ups; you’d think it would be better than that in a hospital. Didn't the tune have something about wind and being lonesome? Mine you, a boy like that would wouldn't he! So that does that sound country? Did we call music like that a name back then? We said it was American or Irish ballads like your Mam belted out after a gin or two with heaving bosoms, and your mother could heave with her being broader then she were tall. Anyroads, I found the nurse, or she found me with her clipboard and papers. She was, you know, one of those from abroad but her English was good. Well I say she was a nurse because she was in uniform but nowadays it could just means she wipes you know what as full nurses are as snooty as what the doctors are. Didn't we have a record once with singing doctors on; it was hit in the sixties, from one of those Doctors in the House films. The one with a big voice was in charge, and the nice one with dark hair and charm was the junior.  The loud one had had a moustache you could hang your washing off.  Or was that someone else? Perhaps that’s the song I were thinking of? Where was I? I’d forget my drawers if I had a fur coat, so she brought me up to your ward. They are better now than those mixed ones where you try and avoid seeing bits you don’t see in a decent home. And hearing noises that they think are as normal as passing around a bag of boiled sweets. I thought the tune mentioned stormy weather so it would have been ‘sitting out the dance’ music as we would had said in those days. I know that what’s our marriage has been like at times but you don’t start off with thoughts like that unless you’re in the family way and want to get wed before the kid turns up as a page boy. Mind, Nowadays, they get wed with five in tow like our Wendy.Perhaps I'm remembering the wrong tune and time. Anyroads, no matter, I found you and I can hold your hand until we work out what our song was in those days. Oh it’s coming back to me now, what was that lonesome song by those American comedians, the fat grumpy one and the thin stupid one. They were in the old movies and didn’t we see them one in the Albany Music Hall, long since gone, it’s a supermarket now, but would we have heard that song in the fifties?’

‘Mrs Whitfield…Mrs Whitfield. I'm so sorry but he-‘

‘I know love, I know, he slipped away as I sat down but we haven’t finished our song yet.’

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

When the builders take back their temples

The rain will come, your defiance of the Gods has made them angry.’ 

 The villagers didn’t stir. Their backs filled the corn stores of others. Their strength raised the stone palaces. Their hands held the desert back. Now was the time to act, to burn and return to ancient ways.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A thought when gardening

When death comes, do we fly over the leaves or dig under the roots? 

It depends my child on how well you water life. Burn and slash your way in the world and you become nourishment yet grow flowers from fields of weeds and you become the coolness of shade.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Friday, 31 January 2014

Unto the Seventh Generation

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The cry of the Hawk, the spring hatchling now flown meant soon his world would be mere sound.  For a man, now dust in the wind, had made bones of a country and punishment for his kin. 

As Joash screamed for his son, he hoped, as had his father, that he would be the last.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

For you have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life.

For a mere 1000 credits a month, we guarantee death, isn't fast forward but a slow fade. Each sense closes down so if you're a screaming, you're a dreaming.

Feel pain, we don't gain.

Try Back-up in a dash with the optional 15-minute wipe for a month and see why it's the quadrant's best seller. 

When you can buy, why die!

Friday, 24 January 2014

And he stepped out into the world.

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The third son now went travelling to make his fortune. Tom being more street wise was kind to old hags, trapped dragons and trees. At the castle of the dark Lord, the killer of worlds, he called on them for help. 

He won?

Get real, he died drowned in blood, life ain't a fairy tale.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Whose time has gone

Mark often looked up to the window hoping to catch his Brother smiling, and wondering why Ross wouldn’t come out when he waved. 

Ross avoided the window if he could but sometimes lost in thought he would find himself looking down, remembering the good times with Mark before the accident

Friday, 17 January 2014

Dads and Sons

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'You look like a girl, get your hair
cut. And turn that row down.'

'But dad, it’s Fairport Convention.'

Brian swore he would chill with his kids

And the years did past


'You look like a toilet brush with that haircut. And turn that
bloody row off.'

'But dad you have to play Dubstep loud.'

Thursday, 16 January 2014

When a Banshee sings, a prince finds peace, when she screams the devil licks his lips

It was dark, the blackness of a closed coffin, eyes struggling to see.  Outside of the farm cottage walls he heard horses clipping over cobbles, bridles jangling and wheels creaking as a wild wind rustled leaves like a dress pulled off by a lover.  Suddenly he could see, through a window, clouds scurried from the moon like mice away from a cat.  And he was standing trying to open the kitchen door. The black cast iron bolts were too high for his stretched out fingers and the hooves drummed ever louder and shook the ground making him fall down, ever down into the silvery light.

Cormac jolted awake, the dustmen were making their usual Tuesday morning racket with bottles and cans being sorted and thrown into the hatches of the revving recycling van. He could see his breath misting in the cold of the room, it was that bloody dream again. He shouted out to the pokey dirty-grey room, with its thick green curtains hanging up with string and cobwebs,

‘Not yet, I’ve still breath.’

Sighing, he reluctantly threw aside the three duvets, the old dog blankets and the odd curtain and before putting on his woollen hat - heating cost money, more bedclothes didn’t.  Bending down carefully, he pulled on furry slippers over thick purple artic frost-frighteners, and threw on a wool blanket with a hole cut through for his head before tying bale string around his barrel stomach and layers of long johns and vests. To his mirrored reflection he said, 

‘I might look like a sack of spuds but I'm as warm as a bag of chips.’ 

Once out of the bedroom, he shuffled carefully down the bare wooden stairs and corridors – the carpet along with most of the future had gone to pay her bills as the loan shark banks were too impatient to wait for his death.  

Opening the larder door and sniffing the milk, he suddenly caught the scent of heather on a warm autumn day and heard horses pull a carriage to a door, the wheels creaking but no neighs or the shouting of whoa as the slap of leather reins pulled in silence. Then the rumble of traffic burst back in. He shook his head, he wasn’t ready. 

Walking over to the greasy, rusty stove, he picked up the dented kettle and went to the only working tap to drum in water. Back at the stove he battled with matches and banged hobs to get the gas hissing into two horned misshapen flames.  He shook out the mug’s dregs and then popped in yesterday’s tea bags, dried and ready to be pressed into service. Pouring in the water, and cursing from the sting of the hot handle, he left them to brew, as he switched on the radio that burst into the room with chants like sunbeams that after cold winter rain summoned rainbows. He shouted, 


and the news of floods and indiscretion in high places shouted back.

Grabbing his mug, he stumped upstairs, got back into bed and pulled the bedclothes around him shouting,

‘This wasn’t the dream; this isn’t the life I danced every night for.’

Knocking the tea back, he sat up and threw the mug over to the dusty shelf of leaden cups and medals, knocking over fading pictures of ball-room dancers, the men like splendid waiters and the women in swirly lace and thick make-up.  Looking up and around the room, he raised his arm and wagged his finger saying,

‘I was the all-county champion once, and Sean’s friend’s sister had sworn I was made for a TV programme they planning. But she never came back to me.  They did for her of course, she got on. Always was the better dancer and only left me for the all -England champion because it got her on TV. I’ve still got the VHS Tapes even if the video went wonky.’

He fall back in to the bed before whispering,

‘She loved me enough to leave the house for her debts.’ 

Perhaps, he fall asleep, this time the door was open and he looked out to see a black carriage, and four headless horses stamping their feet.  From the carriage’s open door hundreds of white hands fluttered out like summer cabbage butterflies all clapping. Then a woman of sunlight curves and moon beam eyes stepped out with a diamond-glass bowl of warm blood and floated over to him singing of Princes who stole the land of gods so people could dance with fairies. The bowl rose from her hands and rose higher and nearer his head as he said,

‘So this dance is over.’

Soon he would be anointed and his fathers arise to greet him. He turned to a window that looked out into a summer morning of the old country, the boys running naked to the wooded pond, diving and throwing water at each other from a broken metal pail, each screaming and giving as good as they got - a time when dreams were fun.

Friday, 10 January 2014

A family reunited...

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Early morning chat was shattered with, ‘You're eatin my babies.’ 

McChickadees went very quiet, a six-foot talking Rhode Island Red kinda makes you slow-witted. But Tom was a rookie prankster. He forgot the CCTV and that truck drivers with hangovers and no coffee ain't messed with. 

What they did next with the eggs went viral.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Medical Advice we gluttons have ignored over the ages

Dr Edwin leaned on the table, forcing it to bend and his voice not to before saying, 'Sire, I must advise you against breaking your morning fast so early. You are of a melancholy humour so early eating weighs you down.' 

Sir Roger of Battly, rubbed at his paunch and rolled his eyes and said, 'But it is nothing but mere morsels such as a loaf of Kings bread, a flagon of ale and boiled beef barely covering a fist. And on fish days-' 

Dr Edwin raised his hand to interrupt,'I implore you Sire, for your health follow John of Milan’s advice to rise at 5, dine at 9, sup at 5, retire at 9, for a long life.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The clock never ticks fast enough

A Christmas past, I slipped through the bony black alders of the river, up to the mountain pines covered in snow, willing to fight for what I loved, not for what the politicians shouted for. It was soon clear to me that killing kills you as well, only slower, and perhaps with more pain. You shoot and a distant scarecrow falls and then you reload and move on pretending to be a movie action hero.  Yet movies don't show what burning houses, ones the scarecrows had built brick by brick, really means. Once a fire gets hold, and the screams start you get the smell of beef in a frying pan, and fatty pork on the grill. When the screams stop being human you get the coppery, metallic odour of blood boiling. When it goes silent, except for crackling flames and falling walls, you get a musky, sweet perfume wafting over in the smoke from the burning brain and spine juices.

You can laugh and kill again, or cry and run. I ran.

My parents knew. It showed in the stiff face and lack of questions as my mother stood to shake her black dress smooth before going into the kitchen to cook a lamb burek. My father, in his faded jeans and shirts from America, just kissed my forehead, and put his finger to my lips shaking his head. Of course they hid me in the attic. It's not just a dump for forgotten keepsakes. We had put up tourists, gangly men with haversacks or girls in pairs wearing trousers and head-scarves, when times were good. So I had a shelf for a kettle and stove but the bed at night smelt like a refugee's suitcase.

We are at the end of the village, 20 houses, many of them farmhouses like our. Besides the houses and barns, the village only offered two more buildings: a small school that also acted as a courthouse, and a mosque. Behind our house are vegetable gardens and pools for fish. At the end by a stone wall gleamed from the fields, there is a dirt path that I watch for hours, staring past sheep and cemeteries down to broken houses that once were neighbours you talked with about the weather, and sons disappointing in distant places when daughters gave you grandchildren. I could even see the witch hat shingled roof of Divac's place. As a boy I had watched his brown and black Barak dog, that was often more asleep then waking, no longer pulling on his chain - too old to hunt, too friendly to guard. As a man I had watched Divac shot.

No questions were asked in what remained of the village. I was the brave hero-son...resting to return. Only if I could. Sleep is flames and sweet smoke. Each dawn, brought the sounds of distant gun shots. And I shake under pillows and blankets, fearing they were the real heroes, the ones who hadn't ran,

This morning as the sun rose, I looked up into a blue cloudless  sky through the broken glass. My father was already up walking down to check on the sheep, he goes via the yellow field and  the deeply-saturated sweet, green floral scent of crushed everlasting comes in on a breeze. Then as an engine coughs and rattles below in the centre of the village , I hear my mother call up to stay quiet and then she rushes out to my father. They can hide by 'working ' in the fields. Men I had played football with, men who had mended my car  had come for the young women and shot any one stupid enough to protest. It's why we went to war, why men fought.

Once, on Market day, I had pointed out to everyone the woman I would marry. Lajla was short with dark eyes that made you alive. She had laughed and threw her flowers at me. The first time they came, they killed any man under 30 and took any woman they could find. Her last act of love was not to call through the small windows of the old German grey, square boxed  livestock truck as it pulled away. It's why I had killed and burned. As the truck spluttered away again, I crept out by the back door, I knew where they had to stop to cross the river and real death was better then this lifeless existence.

They had stopped at the river, having a smoke and a laugh. I knew the driver. We had played in the street as kids. The other two were from local villages, I had seen them on market days. From the cover of the pine, I raised my hunting rifle and became a hero. A spray of bullets killed them and me. It was just a zombie that let the women out, who cried and hugged first themselves and then me before running to hide.

Now sitting here in the woods, looking at the gun, I have to decide which killer has the next bullet.

Friday, 3 January 2014

I simply want to live; to cause no evil to anyone but myself

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The silence was the first lie and then Jo said,

'What you doing in the Holosuite later?

'Oh, I'll race my Hog across the desert under the moon.'

'What about you?', asked Ken.

'I’ll  watch children play on a beach.'

They fell silent, too ashamed to see each other’s tears. Far below, the dead Earth still burned.