Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Three Pieces

3 June 2016 Writing Retreat at Knepp Wildland Safaris
He tucks the gun under his coat and walks hurriedly across Alexander III bridge. The construction and refurbishment haven’t completely finished, but the hustle buzzle of the day has dissipated. The shadows of the workers and passers-by have melted into the darkness of the night. Only the river is still pursuing its course. In the dim moonlight, the murderer could get away effortlessly. Is a crime of passion really a crime? Is it not just poetry misunderstood by most? He wonders. In the distance, a woman argues with a policeman, what a perfect opportunity! He can get into the cellar unnoticed. He tried to suppress his rage with a deep breath, but it only served to infuriate his whole body, nearly setting it alight. He wants to jump into the rapidly rising water in the Seine. Tomorrow is another day. It’s a promise.

4 June 2016 Writing Retreat at Knepp Wildland Safaris
My unruly passions once upon a time were revealed the sight of him emerging from the Arrival gates. He came towards me with the smile so familiar many years ago. It wasn’t an illusion, the child of the journey meeting me again, emerging from a thousand wild dreams. My heart is like the sea, his words beating its shores like a wild drum, constant, erratic. The nomadic-hearted boy, have you really ended all your wild journeys for me? Have you chosen this most
unconventional destination? Are you returning to my embrace, whatever the cost might be? I carved words of my prayers in jaded beads and bond them into a rosary. Let my faith be the brace that brings you back from a crippled life. Let my rapture be the glow on your triumphant crown. Oh come and kiss me on the cheeks. I am a fat cat with cream. Oh kiss me on my lips now, just like our first time at your parent’s house, in another life. It’s hot breath. It’s wild truthfulness.
“My little Dot Kom, I missed you so much!”, says he. His rapture shining in tandem with the tears in his eyes. I still remember his hot breath and its wild truthfulness, the day we parted. He said we’d meet again one day. My heart was like the sea, giant waves wildly beating the drum, constant, erratic. I didn’t know “one day” would take this long. My child of the journey, nomadic-hearted love. The rosary of hopes dropped to the floor, in that lonely winter morning, when he wrote to say he was tired of waiting. He was getting married. One precious prayer falls through the floor boards. Shattered kisses spread across the kitchen, little beads bouncing up and down. My hand still clutching to the bunch of buttercups. My unruly passions once upon a time, when all hopes were gone and it was time to move on.
I watch him put his hands on my shoulders. Then, he picks me up and says “you’ve grown, my little Dot Kom!” My hands wrap around his head, in an unconventional crown of faith. Olivia,
Messy or Chandry, whatever her name was, none of it matters from this instant. Like a fat cat with cream, I know I could never resist him again. I want him to close his eyes and unbutton my dress, his arms braced tightly around my waist. For the first time in so many years, this wasn’t an illusion.
We get into the rental car and drive away from the airport. He makes a full confession to me about the lost years, the yearning and the hopeless nights filled with the most unconventional dreams. How could he escape from the black hole that engulfed his body and soul. The emptiness that braced him strangled our feelings, as if mother nature, father god, both of which he believed, had abandoned us in our silly billy youth. The only way out was through the sky light. Or could we climb into a rice barge and row to the shimmering shores of another life? From Daisy’s mansion to the Great Gatsby’s cottage? There were five children waiting down below. We were friends, we were the moons and the stars. “You are where I belong. Promise me not to disappear again!” He whispers into my ears.
He shows me a pocket full of stones, each a wild dream from the distant memory. Life in the wilderness is full of wild parties, wild imagination, wild passion… And yet, a wild life proved to be most creative and unconventional. I confess to have his name tattooed in white under my breast, so it can only be seen when I’m tanned. He never told his wife anything about us.
“You are going wild my friend!”, I’d often say to him. My prince of rapture, here is your crown. Here is a rosary of hopes you’ll carry around. They will remind you our history is not an illusion. Keep it in writing or transmit it orally. Today the past is our true destination.

5 June 2016 Writing Retreat at Knepp Wildland Safaris
A long lonely walk down the country road. What brought me here? I do not dwell on this question. Let’s go to the fete and have my fortune told. I’m not afraid of fate, so long as I’m holding a candy floss in my hand. The bells are ringing; people are gathering at the church. The mid-summer sun shining down on every earthly thing. Even mushrooms are radiant. Today the bucolic marries the romantic. Fate is a feast. Sour, sweet, bitter and sometimes spicy. What’s the destiny of that little boy, walking towards me, with an ice cream covered face, the milky way dripping out of his mouth? All the world’s a dazzle. He says a French word meaning Bon Ami. In the distance, in the field, a wheel with an old hankie dangling out where the wood cracked and some rusty bells lie beneath. What a dog daisy summer day! He has three weird sisters but he is the only one chosen by God. “I am destiny’s child.”

The copyright of these posts belongs to Viviane d'Souza

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Coronary Bypass

Coronary Bypass

Embrace me with anaesthetic.
Kiss my neck with curling long lines.
All my locks are already picked-
All you have to do is come on in.
Advance into the chambers of my heart
Caves- each one deeper than the last:
Crimson weeping walls papillary taut.
Strip me bare- subject me to your lost fortunes,
Bypass me-my bright and terrifying flesh and bone.
Cool me with your calculations
Cut me with your skilled scalpel
Explore me with your fine tuned fingertips
Then I’ll release you from being the reluctant apprentice
And, in recovery, I’ll say to my heart “Rave on!”
To dance naked in the rain.

The copyright of this post belongs to Sharon Mchale

Friday, 20 May 2016


She’s lost her teeth again.
‘She is my sister-in-law, you know, my future sister-in-law’, speaking firmly, insistently to nobody, or everybody, or the window, wall or cooker. I have stopped trying to work it out, I was as selfish as a child wanting to run out and play in the sunshine with my marbles. Her behaviour, challenging, robbing me of every freedom. Even putting out the washing was a relief from this monotony.

‘And he, he is a gipsy prince, you know…….’ Of course he is, the bastard. Feel again my shock. They’d only been but two farms north – seven miles? Gipsy prince, my water…….. I’m wiping the glasses of dust – the damp tea towel wrung through my hands – maybe he’ll see me – instead of how old she has become, sucking in her lips and chewing on nothing. The real gipsy, the wanderer, my sister, my dark, slim, catlike sister, Grainne, she who has run off, leaving me the responsibility, the work. That cat, she goes away with the gipsies, and now her friend, her Man Friend is back, and looking for her, and her gone, while he sniffs around, the loveless shite. My heart is ready. My mind is still.

He may come tonight. All men need food. The weather will change, later it will be a night such as only drunks would go out, and opening the door, with the lintels dripping……. Yes, he might be made to stay……
‘Might we persuade him to stay, Aunty?’
She unwraps the thin paper…..
There may be a poisoning……

‘The cat…….’ She sucks again, her craggy skinny lips into her mouth and chews….. ‘You will need the cat………’ and for a moment her eyes meet mine and she is here, really here………the cloying jasmine scent of her hangs as it used to in the smoky air of our kitchen.
‘For Grainne’ our minds say together, and in a gently inaccurate replication of her old spells she begins to chant
‘Tea…. coffee…. cocktails…. jam………..’

The copyright of this post belongs to Fran MacHardy

Tuesday, 17 May 2016


Bound on a Bumper Car Sea

Where the sand meets the sea's new horizons
The steam billows forth its curse.
A dogma of godliness rolls by
Dreaming it all in reverse.

The steam billows forth its curse
“What kind of fools are you two,
Dreaming it all in reverse,
Scrubbing at constellations true?”

“What kind of fools are you two
Wading into moonlit seas,
Scrubbing at constellations true?
A uniqueness of blemishes, a Venus?"

Wading into moonlit seas
They met at a pumpkin spice fairground.
A uniqueness of blemishes, A Venus
And her pirate aficionado run aground.

They met at a pumpkin spice fairground
Bound on a bumper car sea
And her pirate aficianado run aground,
He bade her, "Come, Sail with me."

Bound on a bumper car sea
The salt of promise entwined them.
He bade her, "Come, sail with me
Through this land of fish and men."

The salt of promise entwined them.
The bloated goldfish found them.
Through this land of fish and men,
Through a night of fine food to bind them.

The bloated goldfish found them
And sat they with sunflowers gold
Through a night of fine food to bind them
They did banish their solitary cold.

And sat they with sunflowers gold'
With crisp bread and seafood delight
They did banish their solitary cold
With passion fruit brulee tonight.

With crisp bread and seafood delight
She sat and drank in his flavours.
With passion fruit brulee tonight
All her constellations were savoured.

She sat and drank in his flavours,
They sailed to new lands, on and on.
All her constellations were savoured
Where the sand meets the sea’s new horizon

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Magical Ring

I started out in the landscape's cups and valleys, shrouded in a cloak of morning mystery. The postman had already got well underway, spreading his Santa's bag of parcels and cards. I could see his slow progress, a red bug crawling the meandering contours of the distant hillside. I climbed further up, further in, to the bowl of the valley, it's arms reaching around both sides of me in an earthen embrace. I left behind the wet meadow grass glittering with ice crystals melting in the weak warmth of the solstice sunrise and let my feet follow the mud path into the woodland. A melange of broken semi-skeletal leaves were strewn at my feet, dulled from their original autumnal passions. A tracery of frost sat on the leaves, and every so often a crème brûlée crunch would cut the stillness as my foot broke the surface of an iced dip or puddle sending skittering shards into disarray, a jagged spiders web of ice telling where I had been.
A figure appeared from the camouflage of moss and branches on the track ahead. His clothes made him almost indistinguishable from the surrounding crepuscular light. A trapper's hat was firmly fixed on his head and a worn out waxed long coat was wrapped loosely about him. There was no camera or binocular about him so I looked round for a dog. Normally it was a bird watcher or a farmer if I saw people out at at that time of day. No dog. I looked at the figure again. He appeared to be leaning forward, slightly hunched, with one hand clutched in a downward claw, as if he had been holding a ball or something, and it had been stolen from him. Instinctively I slowed my pace, scanned the woods again while walking but still saw no dog. Everything was still, even the birds had ceased their song. Something made me stop then, a dip in the temperature, a solidity to the air. I looked again at the figure, closer to me now. Odd that he had not moved at all, had not turned to nod or greet me.
"Morning," I tried experimentally. No reaction. Perhaps he was deaf. I didn't want to startle him so moved forward away from his peripheral vision. His face was pale and deeply creased, weathered with age, deep set eyes lurked in the shadow of bushy eyebrows and a crooked nose. An expression: surprise, anger, was frozen on his face. I shivered, my teeth chattering, feeling the intense cold penetrating my warm layers of clothing. I hadn't realised I was holding my breath until I let it out in a steam of condensation. And yet this man was not creating breath clouds at all. It hit me with a rush of adrenalin: he's not breathing. I pulled my gloves away from my fingers, holdings the back of my hand up to his mouth and nose.
"Hello? Sir, are you alright?" No breath, not even a blink. I pulled my hand away and reached for the phone in my pocket, ready to call for help. What should I say? I didn't know what had happened. I looked about for clues and noticed a shimmer to his clothes. The coat in particular seemed to glisten, and the waistcoat and scarf beneath. Instead of my phone I found myself reaching for his clothes. They were stiff with cold. Beyond stiff really, they seemed frozen but glittering with frost, a suit of lights. The clothes seemed rather old fashioned up close; a linen shirt with no buttons, the waistcoat roughly cut in worn leather, his shoes were simply cut, hand stitched leather and the trousers were split legged, felted wool. The ground beneath his feet seemed even more thickly coated with ice and frost than elsewhere.
Jack Frost.
The name came to me from nowhere.
"But that's a fairy tale" I scoffed at myself. "It can't be." And yet there was no sign of injury, he had not collapsed. This figure, standing stock still in the cold dawn, glittering like magic, defied logic. He appeared to be as old as the hills themselves but that was impossible, surely, and even if it was Jack Frost, how had he come to be here, frozen stiff, caught in his own trap.
I looked around for clues. I could hear the gentle burbling song of the brook still flowing nearby; it was not held in Jack Frost's curse! But there, on the ground, leading towards the river there appeared to be a trail of golden grains of yellow sand on top of the mud. It seemed so out of place. My curiosity piqued, I bent to touch the gritty granules and found them to be warm. I followed its morse code line first with my eyes and then with my feet, broken in places, puddling in others, to the edge of the brook and then back upstream towards the waterfall. The head of the valley was one of desolation, rocks split asunder many harvests before and smoothed by the mysteries of time. A mixology of tumbled trees split like broken bones, sat in company with raw earth and jagged roots, strings of moss and fern. Some rocks, like giant stone marbles, lay half submerged in the plunge pool at the foot of a curtain of water. But away from the fierce frothing of the deep water was a way across, a path of stepping stones, and on each there was a hint of golden sand. I crossed the slippery stones with care and carried on up the bank at the other side, the wayside lit with sunshine and emerging flowers of a species I had never seen before.
As I followed the path the flowers seemed to multiply and I was soon surrounded. It seemed in a space of a few metres I had walked from winter to spring and into summer. I marvelled at the wonder around me and, bathed in the delicious perfume from the blooms. A little further the trees too came into bloom, the new lace of lime coloured beech leaves curtaining the path. And then I came upon the shortest daughter of the Shah of Persia in a shallow dell. She was sitting on a tree stump a small mirror in her hand, crying rainbow tears quietly into the silk folds of her turquoise kurtah. She looked like a study of a young lady who had learned not to be noticed. I didn't know what to say, whether to stay or slip away. Could she even be real? Questions flooded my mind and I found I could not leave without satisfying my curiosity.
"Are you real?" I asked tentatively. She looked up startled, burnished almond eyes open wide, as deep as black holes in space.
"For certain I am real. Can you not see me with your own eyes?" She sounded put out.
"Yes I can. But, forgive me, I am not sure I trust them. There has been a lot of magic in the world this morning. Why are you crying?"
"Who are you?" She asked ignoring my question.
"I live here. I- I think I followed your trail to this place. The sand? Maybe it was in your gown. And the flowers. Did you make the flowers grow? We don't usually have many flowers in the winter."
"You ask many questions. Will you tell me your name?"
"Sorry, I'm Emille, my family live just down the valley, all seven of us. I come here to be alone sometimes. What is your name? Where did you come from?"
Seemingly satisfied she wiped her tears and stood to curtsy.
"I am Princess Nasmina, daughter to the Shah of Persia. I am the shortest of my Father's many daughters, the most overlooked. My Father was displeased with me for learning the Jin's Magic. He shouted at me, told me that he would never find me a husband if I continued to be so wilful. I was upset for displeasing him and ran away. But as I ran the Jin's seeing eye fell from my sirwal pocket and smashed at my feet. I was sucked through time and space and transported here.
"A man dressed in a suit of lights found me. He told me he was the King of Winter and would make me his Queen, but he was cold inside and out and I refused to go with him. I could see he was just greedy for my magic. He bound my wrists with trailing Ivy and forced me to go with him. He pulled me on until the dawn but then said we must both become invisible and ride the wind. He threw me to the floor and began to chant an ancient rhyme:
'Cold of night make cold the day,
Death upon me if I stay.
From the North winds I shall spy
In the cracks 'tween Earth and sky'
"As he chanted the air around him shimmered and cracked with cold. That was when I remembered the Jin's magic mirror. He had given it to me as a talisman against evil and I knew I must use it to protect myself. As I pulled it free of my sirwal the King of Winter saw that I had something in my hand and went to grab me, but in doing so he looked in the mirror and his own magic rebounded on him. The ice in his heart consumed him and he turned into frozen form.
"I ran away as fast as I could. But how can I run when I do not know which way to go? My only hope is to rely on the kindness of strangers."
As I digested her story she began to cry again and my heart went out to her. I had no idea if she knew about the celebration of Christmas but I knew it was a time of goodwill, a time to be with those you love and a time to help those in need.
"Tell, me, is there anything I can do Princess?"
She thought for a moment and then looked at the Hazel switch in my hand.
"Will you make me a gift of that wood?"
"Of course," I said, handing it to her, " but I don't see how that will help."
"You will."
As I watched she bent the wood into a circle, the wood blossoming beneath her hand into a berry wreath in all its bright glory, the two ends knitting together into an eternal loop. She placed the coronet on her head and made a deep curtsy.
"Thank you, Emille. What a beautiful gift you have given."
"But it was just a stick"
"Yes, it was, but the kindness in your thoughts made it blossom into something quite spectacular, wouldn't you agree?" I smiled and returned he curtsy a little awkwardly, feeling embarrassed. "I have nothing to give you in return Emille, but I can grant you one wish."
A wish! What would you wish for: toys, games, clothes? I wanted something that would last a life time. The knew that making a difference to someone's life would make me happy far longer than things I would grow out of.
"I've made up my mind Princess. No one should be lost and alone, especially at Christmas. I wish for you to go home to your family."
At that moment the sun's rays broke over the top of the dell flooding the hollow with golden light. I put up my hand to shield my eyes from the glare and saw the air waver around the shortest daughter of the Shah of Persia like a heat haze and heard her whisper her thanks, before I was forced to look away. A moment later and the dell was filled with warmth but the princess was gone.
Where she had stood by the tree stump lay the berry wreath on the ground. I picked it up and sat on the tree stump. I turned my face to the sun, smiling with pleasure at my good deed and imagining the homecoming she would enjoy.
Later, as I walked back through the woods there was no sign of Jack Frost. It seemed he too had been released from the Jin's magic when the princess returned home. I took the wreath with me and placed it on the windowsill at home for all to see. Many years have passed since that solstice in the woods when I was just a young girl. Now I have a family of my own and the berry wreath sits at the heart of my family table as fresh as the day it was made, a symbol of giving and of the gathering of loved ones, a symbol of rebirth and hope for the year to come.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The Bonfire

My view of you, skewed by experience and the dark slanted line of the bonfire structure growing between us, did not change, mangled by dusks imaginings. To everyone else you were a curmudgeonly old battler but not to me, I knew it was just a crust, a gruff exterior,the grit of crumbs on a piece of warm buttered toast. Other people, they didn't know how to approach you, didn't know what to say to disguise their own embarrassment at your misfortunes. They had not figured it out, the secret; that it wasn't about what you said but whether you were able to just be, listen for the wisdom and peace. There is communion in being with you, and even standing out here in the rain with you, silently, I could see there were angels in the margin of your notebook. There is far more to you than the eye can see, rays of sunshine at the heart of you. Already the tensions that had been spilling out of me, the frustrations of butting heads with my peers, literally and figuratively, as I kicked uselessly at the wood when I arrived, were beginning to slip away.
You always had a way to occupy my idle hands, my idle thoughts, and if I waited long enough you always instructed me.
"Rub off your sharp edges and fit in. Take time to find the right angle to approach someone. I know you have it in you, you're here aren't you." And there it was, a beacon of hope in the murk, a way forward. I was not required to reply, explain myself, just build the bonfire with you and consider the truth. You continued changing gear imperceptibly. "Triangular shapes make the most stable structures, wide and solid at the base. You want to make sure that the fire falls in on itself, not over you."
I watched the angles of the mangled branches knit together in a loose weave, manoeuvring them into relationship with one another and went to collect more of the brushwood from the side of the pond. The rain had stopped now, as you said it would, and feathered flies flew into the stillness of the water's tension, landing in the last rays of sun as it peeked from behind the sluggish grey clouds. The angle of the sun was so low that it lent the flies halos even before they were gobbled by the fish. I stood there a moment contemplating what had passed. The summer seemed so long ago now, the days of skinny dipping and paddling, of stolen kisses behind the reeds, of laughter and splashing, days where the pond would daily be fed with wet swimming costumes and hot limbs. It would come round again, I knew it would, as sure as the freckles on my nose, but it would not be the same. Innocence can only be lost once. Now the water was a shadow in which temptation swims.
I turned back and watched your elongated alter ego angled over the grass as you bent to strike a match. It began with smouldering and dry grass turning to glinting strands of tinsel and then the timber caught; a blister of heat and fire and life in the dark, a glow of ethereal mathematics, of fortune and physics. And there you stood, head bowed with age, arthritic knotted hands mangled together on the fork handle, your secret joy dancing in the waxing lights of it.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

Monday, 30 November 2015

O Krish

     "This is me in my short white dress". said The Lord Krish as he sat in the fruit-dirt. Long lengths of cloth hung from trees in red and gold like the sun, He blessed the kissed-crowd in their lace hems torn like hedge-rows. They gave him food and loops of white sweet knots for his kind neck. The wet waves in the pond knew he was a great man. His scent was hot spice. He could coil in their dreams like a King snake. He could cut the moon like a sharp knife and toss out the stars as though they were kites. He held light in his hands. Their eyes stung with his love. The black horse and dog bowed before him. The long and the short of it was they knew he would love them like a deep-knit stream; for a long time; for all time. One day he went off. Alone. The kind tree where he had been died. No one could speak. Their jaws ached. Their jaws were shut, tied in grief.

The copyright of this post belongs to Claudia Anne