My Words, My World

First drafts – A few pages in the large wilderness of the world of writing

Archive for the tag “Hope”

The pain and pleasure cycle

An intermittent intermission
while life melts in fission.
Fused and confused.
A pause for breath,
like death
but not so long
or so final
or so primal.
As each beginning is an end
in a cycle which contends with us
and renders us with reality bites.
Slights and fights,
while in the sand we bury our heads
and look for the treasure
of pleasure.
Delectable and delightful…
Any place to leave the pain.

Morning mist

Waiting for the kettle to boil I took my usual 5-minute breather on the balcony, around 5.30am.  It had rained heavily the night before and the morning found itself under a heavy grey cloak.  I always enjoy standing out there; breathing, observing, listening and thinking.  The mountains wore skirts of cloud.  I came in, tea in hand and sat down, with just the first sentence in my head.  Strange how things go off on a tangent as they develop.

___________________________________________________________________

The cloud clung to the sides of the mountain.  Beyond it, the sun had risen but the day had dawned pale and would remain that way.   Water from last night’s rain clung to everything.  Hidden blackbirds chattered in the trees and every now and again a crow would raise its voice above the drip, drip of the water.  Pine scent filled the air, which was clean but sombre.

It was time to move.

There was now enough light to get a helicopter in the air and heat imaging would see through the cloud.  He was sure he’d heard dogs in the valley below, and the rain wouldn’t cover his scent for long.

He grit his teeth as he tipped a little schnapps from his flask onto the blood-soaked gauze on his thigh.  The schnapps was the only thing between a usable leg and infection.  In this humidity gangrene would take hold soon if he didn’t find the help he knew was waiting for him.

Four miles to the border.  Four miles till the forest sloped down on the other side of the mountain.  He put all his weight on the pine branch he was using for a crutch and placed his holed leg forward.

It was time to move.

Positively Monday

Monday dawned, lumpy, grey and wet; weather to add a few kilos to already burdened shoulders. The Saturday sun had already done another circuit of the Earth and was now on it’s second; unseen.

He felt good. As most people struggled with the idea of getting up and going to work, he felt Monday as a renewal. Its sober slap in the face a reawakening.

As the rain fell and washed the streets so did this Monday morning cleanse him. Its sodden purgatorial followed the weekend’s excess (was it really excessive?). Yes; a whole new week lay ahead and who knew what it would bring? He was back in the seat, hands on the wheel, foot on the peddle and the long, sweeping curve was coming up.

A little piece of me

Once in a while I look back over my previous writing just to try and gauge whether, over time, it’s improving.  I think it is.  I also look for patterns.  Patterns reveal the state during a certain period.  My writing of late, especially the poetry, has taken a darkened path.

10 years ago I started having massive sleep disruption.  This quickly grew into chronic insomnia, which I chose to ignore at my peril for a few years.  6 years ago I went under the ‘care’ of the local hospital, following visits to psychiatric specialists who tried to fathom out what the problem was.  I was depressed, apparently.  No shit, Sherlock.  A few years of sleeping no more than 4 hours a night was conducive to wiping the smile off my face.  They put boxes of pharmaceuticals in my hand and sent me away.

During this time I started writing.  I was trying to read a book, unfortunately I can’t remember the title, which was so bad I gave up after 20-odd pages, which is something I never do.  One dark morning I decided I would try and write something, surely it couldn’t be as bad as that crap I’d just given to the charity shop?

Writing became a regular in my life and it helped me where no amount of Benzodiazepine or Escitalopram could.  In fact, I stopped taking anything after two years, against the hospital’s wishes.  Fine, the pharmaceuticals help you sleep, but they leave you feeling hollow, devoid of emotion.  I decided I’d rather not sleep.  So here I am, not sleeping.

For anyone who doesn’t know, insomnia is a bastard.  Mentally, it’s a dark and lonely place that leads ever downwards, where you will eventually come to your own private Niflhel.  It cleaves you open and wrenches your tortured soul from your body while leaving you running on empty.

You stop telling people.  You have to, because all you hear is “Yeah, I had a terrible night as well.”  What?  You can’t explain and they can’t understand so your interactions become sullen standoffs.  You spend the day with a head full of cotton-wool; thinking becomes laborious and even the most banal of tasks requires consideration and reconsideration.  Clear thinking is a reality enjoyed by other people.

Physically it leaves you hollow, like a wind-blown wheat husk dried in the summer sun, light and directionless yet always hoping for a respite, a resting place from its torments.

On the other hand, creatively it has been a wonderful input and output, where my notebook, 2H pencil and I join hands in the early hours and together we chase away the demons that frequently slip the pillow out from under my head.  Those deep still hours of the morning welcome me, absorb me in their serenity and give me time and space to write.  Ideas form and become words because of this.  The majority of what you will find here was written while the world outside slept.

I hope reading this blog gives you at least a little of the pleasure it has given me.

Black

The sun draws blinds on another winter’s day;

whose light grows longer,

whose warmth grows stronger.

The sun’s rays of orange, pink and violet

grip the deepening sky,

like cat claws on curtains.

The sun slips below the horizon

like a drowned man

to leave me cloaked in black.

Leaving

The hand moved across the table, casting a shadow under the glare of the uncovered light bulb, now dull with dust. There was still strength in the hand, and a life of hard work and physical activity showed in the knots of vein and muscle as it moved.

A muscular forefinger which had shot and killed men in war, under orders and without hesitation, now lifted, paused then started to tap, without rhythm, on the plastic table. The window rattled as the wind picked up snow and threw it against the glass, a draught blowing past the single pane. The finger stopped while a deep, chesty cough ripped the silence and echoed in the room devoid of furniture except the table and two chairs.  A car horn beeped twice outside

“It’s time,” said the voice, finding breath once again.

“Yes love, it’s time to go.”

“They’ll look after us Eve.”

The hand reached out across the table and grasped one no less young but smaller and softer and cold to the touch. A sob broke the brief silence.

“54 years in this house George. We raised children who’ve raised their children and all the while we’ve stayed here. It breaks my heart to leave it yet…”

Another gust of frigid air escaped from the rattling window pane.

“At least we’ll be warm my love, and we’ll have company our own age.”

The smaller hand gave another squeeze.

“You’re right George, I guess we have to go.”

The hand, cold and white at the fingertips, helped Eve to her feet and into her coat. It reached for the light switch, and hesitated, as it touched away a solitary tear from a wrinkled cheek. Wind tore past the loose window pane.

“At least we’ll be warm, Eve.”

Ink

I’m currently trying to work my way through the minefield of novel writing.  Now my teaching course is finished I try to dedicate at least an hour every day before life enters my world.  This doesn’t mean however that I’ve lost my love for the short story, in fact I’m using word limits of late as a writing exercise, to get the brain moving if you like.  Here’s another one of them, this time I gave myself 200 words.  It’s inspired by the black paint peeling off the gate – I just changed place and perspective.  Over to you.

__________________________

 

A hesitant scribble with the last stub of a pencil, trying to make it last.  Where would the next one come from?  He’d tried scraping the walls, adding saliva, hoping to make primitive ink but it dried and faded, a metaphor for life, he thought.  Like a rose, it bursts into bloom then slowly the ground is covered with a silken duvet.

The pencil was his saviour, his sanity.  He wrote to no-one but the words he scrawled were his words, his truth.  He held the stub of the pencil and wondered how many more words he could write before the lead finally gave way and became nothing.

As he lay on his bunk, listening to the night sounds, he heard a faint patter.  His thumbnail struck the match, expecting a cockroach or maybe a mouse for company.  He saw nothing except shavings from the ancient black bars, which he now held the match to.  The paint was peeling.  Before his fingers burnt he scratched the black paint and spat on it.  Salvation. The writer, with another six years to serve, lay smiling on his bunk.  Tonight he could sleep without worrying about his pencil.  He had found his ink.

Bleach dilutes

Heart
stopped
Sliced by razor
made hollow
bleached with sorrow
Hung out to dry
to die
Then I
saw your smile,
felt your kiss
The razor’s wound
internal, infernal
but never eternal
As the heart beats once again

The last long day

Today I left my place of employment after more than 11 years.  The big hole that has been left by such an absence will be filled however, as  I am now studying the Cambridge CELTA course to teach English as a foreign Language.  As one door closes…

*********

The last long day

I’m left static and still

and I must keep moving

just keep going

never slowing.

 

But now, but now

a halt has been called.

Time to take the time that’s mine,

to use, shape and mould

As a new life chapter unfolds.

 

I won’t be lead blindly

as I carve and scythe

and make my way

with my destiny

in my hands.

Splinter deep

The old year slipped into the new

While yesterday’s pain

is swept with a broom

Hard bristle scratch

My thoughts, my face

Dust choking

Acid soaking

The handle hands the hand a splinter

Through nail and skin

Deeper and deeper

Poisoning and malevolent

Burrowing and diving

Septicaemic

I can feel it

Arrow sharp

But not enough

To pierce my heart

So it turns on me

and burns in me

But spurs me

On.

God speed this bullet

96 years ago the First World War, the Great War, was finally over.  A generation of young men, those that returned home, were left to pick up the pieces of what they had experienced, seen and endured.  They said it could never happen again. but it did; 21 years later.  As terrible as the Second World War, the same as any war, was, there is something truly horrific about the trenches.

***

The ground heaves and shakes and small rivers of dirt fall, splattering my helmet and the pounding of the earth is like a fist in my back. I look at Jenkins; he’s now bleeding from the ears and nose from the concussion of this incessant artillery barrage. I look at the lieutenant; his face flares white in the explosion flashes; dark rings his eyes and he’s gaunt, like the rest of us. He’s one of us now. After two years in this hell-hole the only part of Cambridge that remains is his manners. He looks at me.

‘Don’t,” he says.

He knows I want to look, I can’t help it; George was my friend from the pre-war days. George who had the nerve to stick his head above the trench, only for a piece of shrapnel to tear it off and fling the rest of him across the trench. The trench, this devil-made wormhole. What will I tell his wife when I get back…if I get back?

A let up in the barrage and the shadow of the black Somme night passes across the trenches, leaving destruction, torn and twisted bodies, fatherless children and husbandless wives but now all was silent. We’ve been stuck here for months, barely advancing, barely retreating. The smell of the ripped earth and dank mud in which we wallow is everywhere, except when the wind blows towards us and the stench of death and decay replaces it.

‘Help…’

The voice is faint but it’s there. In the sudden and welcome silence it’s as clear as birdsong on a June morning, agony and suffering coming through in just one word.

‘Who the bloody hell is that?’  Symes; newly arrived from the train, all shiny boots, clean puttees and enthusiasm. They always arrive with enthusiasm. What the hell are they telling them back home? Five days a week killing the Hun then Saturdays and Sundays off, French whores and bistros thrown in?  ‘Can we not do something for that poor bugger sir?’ he says, turning to the lieutenant, who sighs.

‘Corporal, take a look and be bloody careful.’

I take off my helmet and place it on the butt of my rifle and slowly raise it above the trench, joggling the rifle to simulate movement: nothing. No sniper fire to split the night. The lieutenant hands me his field-glasses as I replace my helmet and climb the ladder. They say there’s nothing blacker than no-man’s land at night but that’s not strictly true, especially following a barrage. The artillery will always find something to burn, even if it’s just human remains, and little fires dotted around cast an unholy light in the field-glasses. I first scan the enemy lines, looking for movement, but I see none.

‘Help…’

My vision jumps from crater to crater, searching for life and hoping for it also, in this God-forsaken pit of human misery. At first I see nothing, then I take a slower, longer sweep with the glasses. I see movement; slow, shambling movement some twenty yards away where the barbed-wire is stretched across and upon which hang torn and crow-picked corpses, like some infernal spider’s web. A slow, crawling movement catches my eye and even in the dead-light I can see enough. It’s a soldier, a German soldier, gone from the waist down, pulling and dragging himself inch by agonised inch towards our trench.

‘Well I’ll be damned. It’s a Jerry sir and in an awful state by the looks of it.’

‘What the Dickens…’ as he climbs up, taking the field-glasses from me and looks upon the awful site before us. He wipes his mouth with the heel of his hand, sighed and turns, stepping down into the trench. Not a moment too soon, as a high whistling noise is followed by chaos. The concussion from the blast is enormous, filling my head with a death-roar and I could feel my ears and nose bleeding freely. Symes is on the floor of the trench, his legs pinned down by dislodged sandbags but he’s ok. Upon hearing that whistle, the lieutenant, Jenkins and I all threw ourselves against the wall of the trench. Symes will learn, if he has time.

‘Corporal, who’s our best shot?’ but he looks at Jenkins, the Welshman is a crack shot and needs no introduction.

‘Help…’

‘Take him out Private. I won’t risk stretch-bearers to bring him in but the sorry blighter has suffered more than enough.’ He moves aside from the ladder to let the Private through.  The figure is nearer now but still a good fifteen yards away. No trouble for Jenkins, who could shoot a canary in a Welsh coalmine from fifty. The first signs of dawn are beginning to pink the early clouds, which a rising breeze is scattering. Jenkins brings the rifle up to his right shoulder, intent only on what he sees at the end of the barrel.

“God speed this bullet and put that poor devil out of his misery”, the lieutenant says, to no one in particular.

“Amen,” says Jenkins, and his finger tightens on the trigger.

As if in response the morning sun throws its first rays of light through the breaking clouds and onto the battlefield. The bombardment has done a lot but not enough; the barbed wire is still in place. If we have to go over the top we’ll be torn to pieces by the German machine-gunners.

The report of Jenkins’ Lee Enfield barks out. The lieutenant raises the field-glasses but they aren’t needed. As more lights floods across the battlefield the sliding, shuffling figure shimmers and fades to nothing.

We look at each other in silence. We’ve all heard stories of ghosts on the battlefield and I guess with so many men butchered on a daily basis it was only a matter of time. I wonder, should God grant any lasting peace on this Earth, in 100 years how many of our souls will still wander here, lost in a foreign land far from home.remembrance_day___poppy_day_by_daliscar

***

I’d like to acknowledge http://femaleimagination.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/11-november-world-war-i-ends/ for the use of the photograph.

You are reality

The heart doesn’t flutter;
it hammers, in my chest.
On the train,
the rolling motion,
my rolling emotions,
as the station nears.
The final stop; full stop.

Months in the waiting,
weeks in the planning
and my heart beats the seconds
that pass, too fast.

Am I the only one
alive in this carriage?
This miscarriage of humanity.
Where is the humanity?
Talk to me!
You! The Ipod girl,
in front of Ipad man,
beside Facebook boy
and Candy Crush sister.

Ah! Enough of them.
I’ve been drawn to meet you,
talk to you and kiss you.
As I hold your letter.
A LETTER!
Words on a once-tree,
the Parker Pen veins
stand out, draw me in.
As you stand in the rain,
black brolly Polly,
dark as mystery,
deep as a desert night
but not so old,
nor so cold.

Sand stinging, hand wringing
a nervous encounter,
here at the counter
of the coffee bar.
Spoons clink and rattle
And our nerves finally settle.

There is no war to end all wars

One hundred years on and…

A brief truce broken
A steel head awoken
And glared into the night
A firefight,
Candlelight: mourners
Apparently security means a dawn raid
An air raid,
Siren
Not silent
Blaring, uncaring

The choke of smoke
Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
On whose hands the blood
That puddles the street
Beneath frightened feet
Running, fighting
Toe to toe
Door to door
Calibre counts much more

A prayer for the lost
And for those who remain;
Once again
The blinding smoke
The dust that chokes
The blood that soaks
The tears that burn
Amid the fires that turn
Earth to hell
A hell on earth

Suffer little children
As men hide among you
While their enemies’ bomb you
Poor innocent souls
As the death toll
Rises
Through wars’ devices
Bodies twisted and torn
Lives shattered and shorn
Of all hope of peace

A three day pull-out
A humanitarian hand-out
Look at me
Through your blood-shot,
Blood filled
Hateful eyes
They say security means war my friend
Do you really think
It will ever end?

The rain; incessant

The counter-argument for global warming as central Europe shows absolutely no sign of becoming a desert just yet.  We’ve had rain since May; I’m sure I never experienced a summer like this in England…

***

The rain; incessant
Incandescent, the lightning
Incisions in the dark
Scalpel thin and scalpel clean

The rain; incessant
Torrential, never ending
Chinese water torture
For the soul: where is the sun?

The rain; incessant
Artillery-like thunder
Huge calibre backdrop
As I sit, willing the sun

StoryADay May 2014 – Getting Home

Well, I didn’t expect to take part in this, I never have done. When I received my StoryADay May 2014 email this morning I paid it little attention as I had a busy, busy day ahead of me.  However a couple of inspired hours this evening have produced 1,500 words – whether they’re good words or not I’ll leave up to you.

I’ve no knowledge of Ohio but Google maps gave me a geographic idea. I’ve no way of knowing if there’s a bus station in Marion, Ohio. I know there’s a Route 23 – Google told me. Anyway, here it is.

Thanks Julie, thanks Neil.

**********************

It isn’t normal, there’s no way this is normal. Bob Dylan once said you don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows and normally I’d say Old Bobby was right. I do however wonder what he would’ve said if he was stuck here with me in this dog-turd bus station, where the lounge caters for both arrivals and departures, somewhere in these back-fields of Ohio, watching a little Vespa getting blown around like a dropped chewing gum wrapper on a Chicago street. The wind and storm came from the north; now it comes from everywhere. What can I do to get back in time for my presentation tomorrow in Chicago?  I look out of the greasy, finger stained window. The rain meets the glass two inches in front of my nose horizontally.

‘It’ll blow over,’ says some farmer Joe, probably a local from two fields down the road, ‘it always does.’

Genius. A down-home nougat of wisdom from the corn flats of Ohio. It most certainly always does, it’s called a weather pattern, and weather patterns; unlike other patterns, like those of the floral leaning on my wife’s dress, blow over.

‘You hear that honey? The man said it’ll blow over.’ Mrs 1978 big floral dress speaks just as I was thinking of her. Is that a sign of true love?

‘Blow over, my ass,’ not even bothering to turn around. I can see her reflection in the darkening window, trying to look sympathetic with arms folded, at least, when one of them isn’t shoving a donut into her cake-hole. Then, joy of joys, the baby starts crying. Tommy was fed only an hour ago but now he took up a wailing normally reserved for paid mourners at funerals. He takes after his mother; two peas from the same pod. I snatch half the piece of donut from her hand and shove it in the baby’s face. He shuts up and eats, he always does. It’ll give me a chance to think. If I wasn’t at the presentation at 9am the next day I was out of a job and out on my ass. And here I was stuck near Marion, Ohio. Not even Marion, Indiana, where at least they have the ghost of James Dean for company.

‘Don’t give him crap to eat; it’s not good for him.’ I presume she must’ve sprayed donut as she had a mouthful when I took half of it from her. Shame it didn’t fall backwards.

‘Start taking some of your own advice sweet cheeks and lemme think.’

‘The hell you think you’re talking to? I’m your wife and dammit you better treat me like it.’

I jump with a start as horizontal water turns to horizontal hail, big enough to bring joy to any gin tonic. My reflection mopes back at me in the now-black glass. The overheads come on full and an announcer’s muttering something through a wall of static. Hell you say boy?

‘I said, you skinny son of a bitch that you’d better treat me like it.’ A sugary paw that seems to be growing around the wedding band given aeons before pinches my shoulder and scatters refined fat-powder over my jacket. Enough weather watching. I drop my shoulder and spin round, nose to donut-crusher. The view outside was better. The rustle of the donut bag plays me in.

‘We flew to Cincinnati and we came here to this forsaken land of the corn, to see your father who doesn’t know who you are, your mother who’s too drunk to remember who you are and your shit-for-brains farmhand brother who doesn’t give a ding-dang-doodly who you are. Any why? Because you get…’

A chubby hand with weight behind it pushes me up against the window. A spray like a winter gritter truck fans out to great me. I blink.
‘You leave my family outta this.’ Another push and a podgy finger wave. ‘You leave my poor daddy outta this. Ma mama’s worked double shift trying to bring up Billy and care for pa.’ Tears somehow found their way around her ample cheeks. She’s a-hurting. Not as much as she will be if I lose my job and she has to cut back on her pastries. Hell, this is her fault anyway. Even the lack of rental cars is her fault.

‘Start eating three, yeah just three square meal a day and maybe, just maybe, you could get your ass in the car and travel further than the KFC before you start complaining and threatening to throw up. If we’d brought the car we would’ve been halfway to Chicago now.’

‘Maybe if you had yourself a decent car I’d be able to travel in it; that thing stinks and makes me sick.’

‘It stinks from the shitty Marlboros you smoke and the greasy food you eat. And what about my frigging presentation tomorrow?’ I bang my hand against the window, punctuating every syllable, raised voice barely audible over the wind trying its best to rip the roof off and the windows out.

People start to give us some space and make an unconscious ring around us. Great. End of the world weather outside. Hey honey; let’s watch the Laurel and Hardy couple go hammer and tongs in this excuse for an bus station lounge.

‘Maybe if you were the sort of husband you should be, I wouldn’t eat so much.’

‘What? I do 12 hour days in the studio to keep you in ices and him in diapers.’

‘You don’t know what it’s like bringing up a kid on your own, cos your husband ain’t there half the time.’ Thank God for small mercies. I take a series of deep breaths, my eyes blaze fire. She steps back and takes her hand away.

Noses and glasses peered over sports pages. To hell with them; I have to get out of here. I look around just as a gust hammers the window. Suddenly a garbage bin, the size of a small car, spins away from its post and heads toward the window. A communal intake of breath: even we’ve taken second billing now. I push my wife away from the window but she takes it badly, falls over on her ass and curses me to the four winds, except I think there are more than that outside.

Mr “it’ll blow over” comes over to me, holding up a key. ‘Son, we ain’t going anywhere yet. I got a cousin down in Columbus, you can take my car and leave it with him. You can get a plane from there; sure as hell get you there quicker.’

I liked the sound of down. The storm came from the north, from the lakes. Maybe it wouldn’t get that far. My wife, still sat on the floor, looks at me and shakes her head.

“It’s the job or us,” she says, without a hint of emotion.

I take the key and thank the man, and promise to fill up with gas when I get there. The address of his cousin is written on a torn flyer for a nearby agricultural show and tucked in my back pocket. I go over and ruffle Tommy’s hair and bend down to kiss him.

“Without my job there’ll be no us. Now get up and get going.”

She pulls Tommy away from me and holds him close. “Get away from us you selfish piece of shit.” The last word spat with cobra-like venom.

Against the advice of a security guard I head outside. The door is almost ripped out of my hands as I step out and hail rips into my body as I look for the brown pick-up. It’s sitting 50 yards away, rocking on its springs. I’m finding it hard to breath but tuck my head down and try to run. I fall over twice before getting to the door, fumble with the key in the lock and get inside. I turn the ignition and the truck starts straight away. Even with the lights on visibility is difficult. I head out onto the back roads trying to find my way onto Route 23.

I manage about a dozen miles, the last two through a black wood, without seeing another vehicle, which begins to concern me a little. I think back to my wife and kid sitting there in the airport, no doubt wondering how I can be so callous as to leave them there. Lost in thought I don’t see the fallen tree until it’s almost too late and I slam on the brakes. That was a close one. Now what shall I do?

I’m sitting here feeling the will drain out of me and join the puddles of water around my feet. A head-wrenching ripping sound comes from outside the car and I look up, and see a huge, dark shape crashing down in my direction.

Shadowplay

Living in a daily world of imaginary conflicts, in which the tide of others washed and pushed against him, He lived ever in anger’s twilight. The anger simmered, threatening to boil over but not quite managing to do so. In some ways it would have been better if it had.

In his make-believe world in which everything was a hurt against him, either directly or indirectly, he no longer lived; not in the true sense of the word. Whereas sensibility to his condition was heightened, other important aspects of his character were made obtuse. Happiness was an emotion felt by others. His anger would obtund any sense of enjoyment or achievement and his spiral continued downwards.

The world outside is bright
Spring fills the air
The fields and the trees are colour
Animals awaken from winter slumber
But within him the winter remained
And for him the clocks unchanged
He slivered on ice
where others walked on grass
He shivered with cold
while others warmed to the sun
He withered, his face white
when others danced with new life
He lingered in the shadows
whilst others cavorted in the long,
joyful hours of sunlight
He revered in his head
his sufferance in a world
where hurts imaginary
and conflicts obtusely
Beat him to the ground
into the dust, to be found
Where maybe hope one day
will bring him out;
out into the world again.

Depression can take manifest itself in various guises, this I know from personal experience.  Whilst at the height of my chronic insomnia 4 years ago the hospital put it down to depression which, personally, I couldn’t understand as there was no real motive, so I believed.  I just thought it was the other way around – that I was shot to pieces in the head, imagining scenarios which weren’t there simply because I didn’t sleep.  Thankfully, with loving support and no lack of determination, I managed to untangle myself from the shadow-spectre of this awful and destructive condition. 

During last 4 years I’ve started writing, which is a therapy in itself.  I still don’t sleep anywhere near the recommended 8 hours but whoever recommends this probably has nothing to do all day.  The above, in a very rough form, has been around quite a while, probably written during ‘recovery’ stage.  Ordinarily I avoid personally-related posts, but this is different – I want that reminder there.  I want to remind myself of where I was and where I am and be thankful for it.

C.

p.s. – Shadowplay is a track by Joy Division from their “Unknown Pleasures” album.  It just seemed apt in this case.

Flash Fiction Friday 132: Where There Is Hope There Is Hunger by Christopher Farley

Spring is now in full swing and I’m still writing with winter as a background. I think I need to see the sea…
As ever, thank you Morgen.

MorgEn Bailey - Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Writing Guru

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the one hundred and thirty-second piece in this series. This week’s is a 420-worder by Christopher Farley. This story will be podcasted in episode 40 (with two other stories and some 6-worders) on Sunday 25th May.

Where There Is Hope There Is Hunger

The bees were the first noticeable difference. Within just a few years there weren’t any. The pollen must have been modified in the same way the plants had been. The honey stocks fell quicker than a suicidal stockbroker after a Wall Street crash. They told us to be patient and that they would replenish the honey from laboratory stock, which they did. I don’t know what the hell it was made from but it was soft, runny and sweet, so I guess some people were happy. However, honey wasn’t the biggest problem; after all, we had sugar if we had the money…

View original post 747 more words

The Butterfly Prisoner

Life hanging by a thread

Cold and dark, am I dead?

This tiny, cramped space

Could it be my tomb?

Or have I been born again,

a return to the womb?

There feels like a weak spot

In the wall by my head

But I can’t move my arms

So I’ll use my teeth instead

To dig through the grey wall

And out into the light

Where I can unfold my coloured wings

Stretch, and take flight

Walking Out

The wall clock ticks off time as I sit in the pre-dawn darkness, a small white table lamp throwing faint shadows on the wall every time a bug goes near it.  I turn in the revolving office chair and look out into the darkness, trying to gather what kind of weather awaited my day.  I don’t want rain, I’m sick of it.  Every night for the last two weeks the only sound that has accompanied my dreams is the hard, flat beating of water against the hard, flat roof above my head.

I sit with my hands in my lap.  I look down at them, now almost devoid of colour, intertwined and wrestling with each other, a habit of mine.  I want to feel the sun on my skin, warming it, burning my face and reddening my neck.  Of all the things I miss the most, the sun is in my top two list.  The other is Lizzie, my daughter, the only family that has come to see me during the last 6 years.  I see the sun when I see my daughter, all beaming smiles, overflowing long, dark curly hair smelling of apple-scented shampoo and with wrinkles of laughter around her eyes; always pleased to see me.  Together we’ve sat and planned this day when I would finally walk from this cell and now, finally, that day has come and I sit at this wooden desk, scarred from a hundred cigarette burns and awaiting her arrival.  Even the guards had treated me differently this morning, maybe even those hard-noses appreciate the importance of today.

Before she arrives I have to have another interview with the warden.  While I sit looking at my white, continuously wringing hands he comes in, his hands resting on his thick, brown leather belt and trying to smile.  Yes, today they all seem happy for me.  If smoking were still permitted inside the building I think he may have even offered me a cigarette, hell, possibly even a cigar.

“So Mr Onfray,” he says, trying to wedge himself between the wooden arms of the chair and not doing a very good job, “your last day.  I guess it’s a stupid question but I want to ask how it feels.  How do you feel Mr Onfray?”

My hands stopped trying to strangle themselves and I look him in the eyes.

“It’ll be the last time my Lizzie sees her daddy in these prison blues, Warden.  I’m thankful for that.”

He raises an eyebrow and one side of his mouth, which I take to be a smile, and nods his head, his bulging neck doing its best to escape his shirt collar.

“I guess you’re right,” he says.

After all, how many men had he seen walk out of here, their last meal served at noon no longer weighing heavily in their stomachs.

That long, last walk.

A prayer for the Right

Aguilar, this one at least, wasn’t a real boxer, so boxing history buffs needn’t get their gloves in a twist.  I pulled a name out of a hat, liked it, and went with it.  It’s another pre-dawn creation that gets left to pickle all day until I can get back home and tinker with it.  I found my mind resting on a Cuban table just after the revolution

**************************************

We sat and listened to the Aguilar fight on the old, battered radio which normally lived on the shelf but was now placed before us on the table, with a couple of rum glasses and an ashtray filling with cigar ash for company, imagining the scene at Madison Square Gardens.  The crowd of Fedora-wearing men, looking like Sinatra and staring at the ring through the smoke of a thousand glowing cigarettes.  The ring girls parading around the ring while holding the number of the next round, and showing off their bathing suits.

We didn’t bet.  It was enough to go halves with old Fernandez for the bottle of rum and a few cigars.  The smell of the grilled chicken and rice we’d eaten earlier still filled the air, even above the cigar smoke.

“He’s going down in this one,” said Fernandez, his chin resting on his hands, squinting and coughing, “he won’t last until the eighth.”  I stayed silent.

The bell sounded for the seventh round, we heard that bell all the way from Madison.  A cheer went up, probably a sympathy vote for Aguilar.  We love to see bloody people, it must be a trait left in us from the days of the gladiators, they suffer and we love them for it.

“He’ll go down in this,” repeated Old Fernandez, “his legs have gone and he can’t see.”

Fernandez could sense how the fight was going even without the commentator.  His battered face a reminder of his bare-knuckle fights 50 years before.

I was willing Aguilar to stay on his feet and for the Lord to put strength into that mighty right of his.  I felt my prayers failing as he fell to the canvas once again.  The wind outside the open window moved the palms to a low lament, as the commentator lamented his bloody face.  I carried on willing my strength and prayers to cross the slip of ocean between my land and his.

Aguilar ha terminado, no puede continuar asi!” the radio screamed at us.

“Courage Aguilar!  Courage!” I shouted back.

The rum sat shimmering in the glass as my hands twisted and wrung themselves into knots in my lap, unable to help.  My cigar had fallen onto the table.

I would feel every hurt Aguilar took to the very end.  I stretched out a hand for my cigar but it never reached it.

Un milagro!  Un milagro!” yelled the commentator.  I looked at Fernandez’ stony, face and saw his wrinkled eyes shine.  A miracle?  What miracle?

He’d done it.  Aguilar had done it.  That mighty right hand had found the strength from somewhere and the referee was still counting out his opponent above the roar of the crowd.

My cheeks were suddenly wet and I look at the old man in front of me, his handkerchief in his hand.  Aguilar.  My little brother.  Quito, the fifth son.  The only one of us who had made it to the promised land but who could now never come back. 

The Old Iron Gate

In a recent edition of Writer’s Forum, I was interested in an article called ‘Morning Pages’, where you set yourself a morning hand-written (in my case) writing exercise of 3 notebook pages.  At first it read more like a diary and I was for giving it up.  Then I started pulling sentences out of the air and adding to them.  I didn’t really intend to air them but this morning’s one pulled me a little.  It’s not a story as such, more a descriptive exercise, however the last line leaves itself open for future ‘maybes’.

 

The path led out from the garden gate.  The forest appeared as a line of trees above the tall, well-kept Laurel hedge which ringed the garden.

            The grey gravel paths criss-crossed the smooth green lawns, unblemished by weeds or unwanted flowers and stopped in front of the tall, white marble water fountain, its centrepiece depicting St. George slaying the dragon and instead of spouting fire from its mouth, the dragon spurted water.

            From the fountain another gravel path rolled its way across the immaculate lawn, maintained like a tennis court, and to the huge iron gate.  The gate was 9 feet high, with a gargoyle detail atop its heavy wrought-iron metalwork, which twisted this way and that, and the gate made an impression, from one side safety and from the other a daunting, forbidden door.  A heavy iron bar bolted the gate and both moved without the slightest sound, as if the huge hinges were oiled daily.

            Turning my back on the gate I took in the whole garden.  The centrepiece fountain and the zig-zag paths which made their way to the old house in one direction, to the wide red-gravel driveway in another and to the landscaped gardens in another, the riotous, seasonal flowers vying for attention against the well-watered green backdrop.  I breathed deeply, as if inhaling the beauty and perfection.  Turning, I breathed deeply once more, because as soon as I turned and saw the gate, a dread surfaced in my stomach.  The world outside the gate fell into shadow by comparison.

            Wind-blown leaves, dead and dry as animal bones in the desert, stuck against the bottom of the hedge, unable to find a way through.  Outside the gate a path led in 3 directions; left to the village, right to the little churchyard and straight, if one had the nerve and courage, straight to the forest.  The last remnant of a much grander forest which was here at the time of the civil war, when even the cavaliers and roundheads shied away from it, unless need drove them inside.  Woodmen stayed at the fringes, their axes reluctant.  Firewood was taken from the ground, no-one ever thought or dared to cut fresh wood to make a fire, should they have to spend the night in the vicinity, whilst passing through, or rather round the forest.

            Now looking through the iron gate a dread chilled my blood.  My happiness at being surrounded by such beauty in the garden was extinguished, as the sun behind a raincloud, when I turned to look at the forest, the grinding of ancient branches in the breeze, the death-rattle of the leaves leftover from autumns past adding its voice to the melancholy chorus.  My hand touched the cold iron and without looking back, I took the middle path.

Flash Fiction Friday 108: A Shrinking World by Christopher Farley

Thanks once again to Morgen Bailey.
Still can’t get the hang of this reblogging malarkey though…

____________________________________________________

The greens and greys reflect on the surface of the lake. It’s almost 11pm and it’s still hot and humid. There may be another storm tonight.  More water.  At least the clouds will block out the sun, which won’t set, not this far north.  It’s like having a yellow moon in the night sky. Or what should be night.

You see, Greenland really is a green land now.  The glaciers turned into water quite a while ago.   This high up on the plateau we’re safe from the rising waters, for now.  Ice at the North Pole?  That’s a memory for some of us, for others, the kids, it’s just a myth, like dragons and hoards of gold.

Oh, the push on the boundaries of science.  Fools! In their search to prove or disprove something called Higgs Boson with their atom particle collider something went wrong, horribly.  They shrunk the planet.  Continents started sliding under or over each other and the world, as the old communications advert used to say, just got smaller.  All that water had to go somewhere and so it went up.

The world became estranged mountain communities; the Rockies, Andes, Himalayas.  I even heard there’s a small Alpine community but no one has ever returned to confirm this.  They want to and they try.  They leave in old, rusty ships from time-to-time.  People still insist on leaving, buoyed by hope but not by water.  The oceans are far too dangerous now.  The Earth has become one continuous stretch of water so when a storm hits there’s no longer any landmass to break up the huge waves that just continue to build and the wind continues to blow.  I’ve heard even the most massive ships wouldn’t have a chance out there.  My chance?  I’ll take it on the land under my feet, what remains of it, and hope.

At one time, the world worried about nuclear war and an atomic winter. Now the Earth’s crust is edging nearer to its core and it keeps getting hotter; they created an atomic-particle summer.

And the waters keep on rising.

 

MorgEn Bailey - Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Writing Guru

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the one hundred and eighth piece in this series. This week’s is a 349-worder by Christopher Farley. This story will be podcasted in episode 34 (with two other stories and some 6-worders) on Sunday 1st December.

A Shrinking World

The greens and greys reflect on the surface of the lake. It’s almost 11pm and it’s still hot and humid. There may be another storm tonight.  More water.  At least the clouds will block out the sun, which won’t set, not this far north.  It’s like having a yellow moon in the night sky. Or what should be night.

You see, Greenland really is a green land now.  The glaciers turned into water quite a while ago.   This high up on the plateau we’re safe from the rising waters, for now.  Ice at the North Pole?  That’s a memory for some of us, for…

View original post 738 more words

+books =Peace (+libros=Paz)

El hombre con un grande corazon. Raul Lemesoff, you are indeed a hero.
A huge thank you also to Doris, for bringing this to my, and therefore your, attention.
Muchas gracias Doris.

Become

Here am I
Who am I
In the mirror
My eyes
The eyes of someone
I no longer know
The eyes of someone
Who no longer shows
A light
A smile
I revile, myself
And who I’ve become
No longer one
Who was someone
To care
To share
To bare his soul
Insomnia has left a hole
But hope will not desert me.

A Wing and a Prayer

Originally to be called Angel Wings when I wrote it yesterday, following a thunderstorm after work, just as I got on the motorbike…nice..  However at 4.30am this morning that title seemed like an old UK advert for a sanitary towel (Sorry Ladies…).

***

This has to be the quietest flight I’ve ever been on.  Even the kids have stopped squabbling.  Thank Heavens for small mercies.

The television screens are showing the ocean beneath, from the cockpit camera.  It’s very blue out there in the tropical sunshine.  Every now and again a ship, possible a huge oil tanker or bulk carrier will pass by, appearing tiny from this distance.  Have you ever looked, I mean really looked, at the ocean from a plane?  The way the sun creates 10,000 mirrors on the surface and how you can see the wave ridges, even from this height.

I’m stuck between members of the Ipod generation.  The skateboard guy to my left has Green Day blaring into his ears, he must be going deaf.  The girl on my other side has some awful rap stuff.  I don’t know what’s worse.  I’ll just go back to looking at the screen.  The book on my lap, The Outsider by Albert Camus, lies upside down and open.  I know it’ll ruin like that but I’m otherwise occupied.

My wife’s in the row behind with the kids.  Every now and again her hand reaches over and caresses my shoulder or my neck.  I reach over and put my hand on hers, giving it 3 squeezes. It means ‘I Love You’.  We’ve always done it.  I’d like to change places with one of my children but they want to stay close to Mum.  I can’t blame them.

An hour ago the pilot took us up to over 40,000 feet to avoid a storm.  40,000 feet!  That’s like sticking the Eiger on top of Everest.  We’re out of the thunderstorm as well, so I guess that’s another small mercy.

This has to be the quietest flight I’ve ever been on.  We were just under a hundred miles from Miami when the storm knocked out our engines.  The guidelines tell us our plane can glide that far.  I continue looking at the screen.  I hope they’re right.

Flash Fiction Friday 094: The Freedom Train by Christopher Farley

Thanks once again Morgen.

MorgEn Bailey - Editor, Comp Columnist/Judge, Writing Guru

Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the ninety-fourth piece in this series. This week’s is a 580-worder (with an American theme – happy Independence Day yesterday everyone) by Christopher Farley.

This story will be podcasted in episode 31 (with three other stories) on Sunday 8th September.

The Freedom Train

He closed his eyes for a second.  He finally began to believe it really was over.  The mountain of lies and the rivers, even oceans, of deceit no longer mattered.  The affair was finally finished and could now be considered a thing of his past, where it should stay.  It had become like a tedious end-of-season football match; neither side wanting to lose but both would be content if the referee blew time.  Each had said their piece and each had gone their separate way.  The thought of returning to his old life before his spree as a shoplifter in the…

View original post 933 more words

The war, Baby.

The lines.  So many of them it seems, interconnected and weaving a spider’s web of expression (exhaustion) on my face.  My face.  My Insomnia.  My card.  I present me and myself to you, my expression (exhaustion) for you to see.  Is it not enough to just get through the day without having killed or been killed, to keep your job, to love your wife/partner/mistress/friends?  What does the world want from me at this hour – always?  Why does it not let me sleep?

We went through the war, Baby.  Almost 15 years, you and I.  Our war.  Troughs deep as trenches, trapping body, poison, blood but offering shelter.  A temporary escape?  Choose the sniper’s bullet or machine-gun mow-down.  The result’s the same.  Bleeding, twitching body on the ground.  Life-draining.

The war Baby.  Those truces. Those long (but not long forgotten) truces.  Not a trough or trench in sight.  Poppy-field sunrise.  Blackbird reveille.  No scars, bullet wounds or barbed-wire kisses. Just us: and the world.  When did you realise that Baby?  Just us.

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Senza di te

Lo zucchero è amaro

senza di te

Il giorno passa lentamente

senza di te

Non ho voglia di sorridere

senza di te

Spero che non è per sempre

senza di te

Damaged

Would you accept damaged goods?
Would you accept a damaged heart?
Not physically, at least I hope
But damaged in the wars of love

Could, or should I even offer such
What would you think of me?
If I tried to hide the pain and hurt
Pretending nothing ever happened

I’d be like the used-car salesman
Who filled the noisy transmission
with sawdust, to cover up
The damage done before

I’d try plug the radiator holes
But my pain would still seep out
The mileometer I’d try to rewind
But the miles done would remain

 

 

 

 

Grey sky, leave me

Monday morning, dingy grey

Rain and sleet, sleet and rain

My mood, my being cannot sustain

The will to weather the winter

I wonder whether

I will fade to grey

As will fade this winter’s day

But a ray of light, burning bright

Incandescent, infinite

Crosses the continental divide

Across the ocean, cold and wide

But wider is the chasm without love

When I look upon a grey cloud sky

I should see the blue above

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