Friday, 28 February 2014

Stalking Leo

Stalking Leo

I give you a love of cakes for the necromancy gathering. It will help concentration when boredom with the bones overcomes your usual enthusiasm for anatomical drawing.
Dear Leonardo, I cannot compete in your world. I have stalked you in the market place, watched you buying up the little singing birds in order to set them free from their caged oppression.
I am aware that for you illuminating walls and blank pages with your vivid imagination, is for you sufficient. I may be charming in my own way, but in this fickle universe I am aware of my limitations.

These funny days can blow my mind as I follow you, skulking secretly I observe the boys surrounding you. Your adoring satellites, some hopeful, some anxious, but most as insightful as me of your needs. We all remain engaging, respectful.

With less of a free reign whilst shopping in the market place today, I was abruptly brought to that unworldly conclusion: I love your hands more than your mystical spirit. Those hands, which will produce and paint the exquisite. That will be your permanent gift to history. It makes me smile to imagine the future joy this will bring. And my smile, dear Leonardo, is very mysterious.
One day we may meet.

The copyright of this post belongs to Valerie Anne Rule

Thursday, 27 February 2014


It begins with golden curls, golden tresses. The obsession with all things golden hued starts with hair. Wild curly locks, impossibly tiny ringlets, never combed, for all the world like sheep’s wool.  But the colour….oh, the colour!! Henry remembered his mother’s hair, all saffron and shine, easy to spot when he was lost as a boy. Look around, there she was, a golden beacon shining just for him.

He fingered the ridged lipstick in his pocket, his last gift to her, one she’d scolded him for buying, yet flushed with joy upon opening.  Never worn, always insisting it was too bold for everyday; she’d save it for the Opera.

One day, she’d say, one day we’ll go. Yessir, all dolled up, girl needs a gold lipstick filled with red to splash on.

Gold Bold Gold Cold Hold Mould Meld Mold Told Rolled Fold. Folded.
Folded in on herself a year ago and he’d had to go. Time to move on, couldn’t stay where they’d laughed and supped, eking out a living.  He moved around all the time, doing odd jobs, looking for a place to settle, a warm hearth, a safe drawer in which to store his golden memory, safely tucked in its yellow velvet pouch.

The copyright of this post belongs to Lynn McCarty Hillston

The Gift

The Gift
I give you a charming character,” bestowed the dainty fairy, her smile a sunshine of pleasure.
The sweet baby lay in the peace and tranquillity of her silken cot.
I give you the gift of love,” gushed the next fairy.
I give to you the gift of concentration,” pointed out fairy number three,
Can’t do with being fickle,” she added, popping a luscious fig into her delicate mouth. She walked off into the sunshine.
Suddenly, through the heated haze, appeared the uninvited fairy. She pointed her mystical wand at the cot and whispered, “I give you the gift…of insightful and engaging comedy – you shall be FUNNY!”
She winked and smiled and then, on cue, the beautiful baby loudly burped and trumped!

The copyright of this post belongs to Komal Patel

Sunday, 23 February 2014


As you whitewash the walls
you demand that I am opulent.
Spreading your arms wide
behind you a black shadow grows,
wings fanned, it steals up and out.

"You are harsh!" you caw, pop eyed,
tenting your hands to stop my flight.
With your roof over me
I am slain by the redundancy of hope
and weep. You sing, "You are mine!"

Obscured by your timpany of percussive notes
I grow, I straighten.
Strong and limber like a Poplar in the breeze
I jettison you for tastes new. To search
for a season of cherries sweet and round.

The copyright of this post belongs to Moira Cormack

Friday, 21 February 2014

Fortress of a Thousand days

Fortress of a Thousand Days

Today I have been up here five hundred days, it is beyond wish fulfillment. When I began the protest, I imagined it would last a single day, street protests being frowned upon by the State Authorities in this part of the world. When I first climbed up my tree, the peach blossom was bursting in the balmy spring sunshine. Sunshine so watery but so welcome following deluged vats of winter rain and flood.
Once up here in my tree, I surveyed the park with equanimity. No one else had climbed as high as me, and it was only because I had always loved scaling buildings as a jump artist that I could do it. I suppose the ant like people far below were jealous of my fortress, as they gradually realized ground protest was futile. Whereas I, like a latter day Tarzan with my good health and ladle full of optimism, ruled supreme in the canopy.
It is September now and the autumn winds are getting up; the park is emptying of children and mothers, and most of the landscape has been denuded of trees.
The Authorities will probably get their way and build the shopping mall, but until my own special tress is felled, I will sit tight. I may yet reign for a thousand days.

The copyright of this post belongs to Valerie Anne Rule

Saturday, 15 February 2014



Why did he take her hand?
I watched in fascination as the couple walked away. I felt compelled to follow. Furtive and soft limbed in my disguise of an elderly gentleman. My bottle of elderflower cordial left behind on the park bench, even though I had spent my last zloties on it, the bottle was cumbersome and I desired freedom of movement. Travelling light , “Ascribe greatness to my God” was the tune running through my head as my lips like a harp began to move with the rhythm in my brain. Following at a stately lick, my soft boots, so worn and loose like snakes in the grass, padded on and on.
The spring snow left stains on the red leather, and as I approached stealthily I heard the woman say “I’ve sold the painting – there will be buns for tea”.
I wish I was invited.

The copyright of this post belongs to Valerie Anne Rule

Thursday, 13 February 2014

It begins

It Begins.

It begins again.
Each time I step inside the tunnel it begins.
The terror, stalking me like a bluebottle fly, eventually maggoting down into my subconscious and eating away at my flesh; cleaning my bones white and smooth. Now, like the rumble of a dandelion clock, I can hear the exquisite solar wind rushing like blood through my adrenalized veins. This tunnel, this darkness, this eerie solar silence.
The universe is disintegrating like the dissolution of a wishing tree, and I am hurtling through space in my tunnel of steel and magma. My light wishes are blowing away in the wind, the solar wind that is eternity within this vast space.
The silver genie granted me three wishes, the silver rocket is propelling me through a matrix of dreams. It’s what I always wanted, to fly. A memory: the reflection of dancing shoes in the puddles of my childhood. The fulfillment of my tangerine dream.
I am sending my daily message to earth now, as I always do after the instrument check. Today I say “Weather here – wish you were lovely” that will make them smile and clap.
As of today I have been up here for five hundred days, it is beyond a wish fulfilled.
I am singing as the meteor hits.
I am dreaming.
I am ecstatic.
So…it begins and ends.

The copyright of this post belongs to Valerie Anne Rule

I Catch the Moon

"I catch the Moon, so high, billions of leagues way up in the celestial heavens where 3D shapes created by whole constellations seemed perpendicular to a triangle; shapes which resembled the Taj Mahal". that's what she thought.They were so large and yet felt like the cage of her life in which she was trapped. She couldn't look back for fear that she would breathe in her worst memories, like the smell of a rotting carcass in the midday sun, they would permeate her every breath. She couldn't move forward either; afraid of creating new experiences that similarly would haunt her. Why? Why was it so difficult to live, that's a taxing question to mull around in the mind; it would eventually become like a kaleidoscope confusing her, not allowing her to reach an adequate conclusion. She realised that's what he wanted, a confusing kaleidoscope, because he's fond of them and wanted her in disarray.

the copyright of this post belongs to Mathew Edwards

Seaweed and glitter

Seaweed and glitter from the ocean's box escapes through the water's meniscus wall above, causing birds to soar higher to avoid the hiatus. Ischemic creatures beneath the waves - with a punctuality worthy of a monkey seeking freedom from its cage -escape like the duty to obey the so-called laws of physics shown by like magnetic poles. The man saw all this and to pass the time, completely in his own world, laying them across his loin, with myriad peepholes, was using nets to make 3D shapes.

The copyright of this post belongs to Mathew Edwards

Monday, 10 February 2014



All of England’s watery eyes
On me as I descend
When for the last time?
This time, just a past time
For now, I’m sure.

To plunge suggests my own volition
God bless Eli Lilly, more potent than any icon
From cosmic force to coma
In the space of a single night, revolution in the head
Delirium, tremors, stutters, benders.

Now I transmit fitfully my tales from the void
Burrowed below the North Pole, some obsolescent circuitry outlives its fate
Weaves me charts from the girth of Mars, news of the stars, my sins.

You don’t need a weatherman
You don’t need the weather
You don’t need a man
Submerged, watery-eyed England watches me descend
One day I’ll break before I bend.

The copyright of this post belongs to Ben Hargreaves

Friday, 7 February 2014

Fragment of 'The Temple Plot'

The Queen is entombed and Merytaset acts upon the Goddess's sign in the hope of finding the missing Princess.

'Music splendours the soul', Isis the goddess of bird and fish and human, of all things, whispered in my ear. Tears fell like fronds. I marvelled at the power of the dancers and musicians to move me. We had wonderful, inspiring persons of this ilk in my own temple but this was the great Osirion, this was Alexandria. This was a requiem for a Pharaoh.

'You will be careful in the capital, won't you little one?'

I'd smiled at Userrera's use of the epithet. Only the old priest at Thebes, who had taught me, looked after me and loved me, still called me that. I'd smiled at his concern. We had been alone in our temple's inner sanctum. Two weeks and an age ago. I was on my knees, cleaning the feet of Amun with oil. I stopped and rose, turned towards the voice.

'Of course Aweni,' I replied, giving him the honorific he deserved, Master. 'But is there anything I should particularly be aware of?' I, as much as anyone, knew how dangerous our times were. Our leaders, all descended from the great one himself, Pharaoh Alexander, were, even if it may be blaspheme to utter it, a fickle lot. But, our present Queen, Pharaoh in her own right, was loved, truly loved, I thought, by all throughout Kemet. There had been peace for many years. Userrera had just raised his finger to his lips, the index finger on his right hand, like he'd done a thousand times to me before, when he wanted me to be calm, to stop running around, to listen, to study harder, to stop thinking and let the word of the Gods come to me. I had not thought to question him further. I'd turned back to my task of service.

Now I wished I'd pressed him. Had he known aught of what had transpired? Would it, could I have made a difference if I had been forewarned of the disaster. Had the Gods, had Isis been trying to tell me something? Perhaps, and perhaps I did not listen properly until I was being interrogated after the riot. Did not listen until it was too late.

I dried my eyes with a cotton square. The dancers refocused. Their dresses gleamed gold and blue, a fine fabric. A fabulous echo of the gilded sarcophagus we had recently carried here to the centre of the Osirion. Inside, the Queen's body lay, at rest, embalmed and soon to be entombed.

The song of revelation of Death, a song of transformation, finished. All eyes turned to me. Out of respect to the priesthood of Alexandria, I had hung back when the procession carrying the Queen had reached the temple. I had sat near the back during the service. But, the high priest had sent me a note late last night, and had confirmed his intentions in a whispered conversation earlier this morning. As the high priestess of Thebes, he felt it fit that I take part, moreover, he believed that Queen Cleopatra would have wished it so.

All eyes turned to me. I was to deliver the prayers of change, the prayer that supports us on our final journey, the prayer of supplication to Anubis, Nephthys and Djeuty. These prayers would ensure that the Ba of Cleopatra, if her heart were true, would be delivered to the halls of Amenti, across a sea that stretches beyond our earthly horizon. I lifted my skirts and on gravelly feet I made my way through the throng. To where my Queen lay upon a granite dais that had been strewn with flowers.

Do not ask me of the detail of what I spoke, This is not the time to tell you. You can find the prayers in any 'book of coming forth by day'. I cannot recall myself if I did the prayers properly. For my head was full of the damned plot that had taken our Pharaoh.


Two days later, sleepy and withdrawn, I found it hard to rest. Why did the perpetrators not strike at the city? Yes, it appeared they were not so crocodile hearted, for they had allowed us to observe the seventy days required to prepare Cleopatra for her journey, but she was now laid safely in her tomb. The high priest and I visited the sealed entrance every day. We gave offerings to Amun and Osiris, as was the custom. This would continue for fourteen days and then I would, should leave for Thebes. Except no one and nothing was moving. The chief of the local guard had, in fear, gripped the city in his hands, posting guards at the gates. No one got in or out.The atmosphere within the walls had grown into a siege mentality, the pressure palpable. Like a lidded pot forgotten on a fire, the city could explode at any moment.

The strange thing? There was no siege. No army camped on Alexandria's doorstep with a ruler in waiting. The chief sent his best, his shrewdest men to scout east, west and south. Nothing. Nothing nearby anyway. I wondered if this was a mental siege, an emotional oppression, to break the famous spirit of the Alexandrians and whomever it was who had slain Cleopatra would eventually sail up the Nile in the guise of a saviour not conqueror.

I shook my head in disgust, to free myself of this thought. Others just as unpalatable flooded in . Why could those born to rule us not live in harmony amongst themselves? Who might it be? The exiled sister Berenice, the half brother?

I remembered from my childhood there was an Uncle, brother of my Queen's father who quarreled with him and left the palace and Alexandria. As I was a young child and soon to be sent to Thebes, I never learnt the reasons. It could be any of them and it did not matter. The person most on my mind was in danger whichever Royal hand had blessed the assassin's blade.

I tossed and turned on my pallet, gave up on sleep and got up. Pulling back the curtained entrance to the rooms that had been loaned to me by the high priest, my skin was touched by warm water. July is always an uneasy mistress. The unseasonable rain, as if Nuit herself lamented the passing of Cleopatra, did nothing to allay the distrust in the air. It shimmered.

It was dusk but my tasks for the day were not over. Isis had given me a sign soon after the Queen's death. I'd known I must follow it but had waited. Now was the right time. I retrieved the oil lamp from my sleeping area and plucked my cloak from a hook near the door. Through empty streets, and breaking a curfew, I made my way to the old slave quarter. The quarter where I had been born.

At the entrance there was a cow that daily promised milk. It lay on the ground. Fast asleep. Its day done. Its keeper was no more than a boy. He rested his head against the beast's flanks, dozing, their breathing in harmony. I was loathed to disturb his peace but I needed to know, and know soon, if my reading of the sign was correct. And I could not afford to be caught by the guard and give the Chief another reason to throw me in prison. I gently tapped his shoulder.

'Priestess!' A little startled, he saw my robes and scrambled to his feet, bowing in a very sweet way.
'Please forgive the interruption, but you look like you know all about this place,' I gestured at the darkened walls behind him,'will you help me please?' I'd decided flattery would be the best path...
'Yes, Priestess,' he bowed again, 'of course, anything I can do I shall, and perhaps you will intervene with the Gods on my behalf,' he said, a roguish grin spreading.
I gave him a knowing look, I think! 'I shall make an offering to the blessed Lady for you, for your health and good fortune.' Even in the poor light of the lamp, I saw his face beam.
'Ahh, Adoratrice, thank you, how may I help you?'

My mother had known a seer when she was my age. He must be very old now if he was still alive. It was he that had brought me here, 'I seek the residence of Tel'eph, the...'
'Yes, the old one, the hermit. I know it, I know it' the boy interrupted and, having bent and whispered a sweet refrain into his cow's ear, he turned and made to go through the arch that marked the beginning of the quarter.

When I had asked my Mother why Tel'eph was known as the Hermit even though he lived amongst others, she told me that when he was but a young man he had taken himself off to the desert out west. He had been gone so long that his family, everyone, assumed that he had been driven mad and died. But, two years to the day of his leaving he returned with the powers of a seer. Ever since then, people had revered him and gone to him with their problems, for advice, for cures for all sorts of things.

I was not sure how apocryphal this tale was as I soon found out my Grandmother had told Mother the story. The truth was as likely lost as a city under the sand but, for sure, Tel'eph was the oldest inhabitant of this quarter and if anything happened he knew about it. I was convinced of that.

So, if she were hiding here, as Isis had shown me, then he would know. The Queen's daughter. Her only child, no more than five years of age I supposed. It was she that I'd searched for frantically amongst the tragedy I found in the Queen's quarters.

The boy was waiting, he tipped his head on one side 'yes, Priestess, he is here, I show you.'

I opened my arms to indicate he should lead the way, hoping I could summon the courage to save the girl if I found her. Around me, the shadows of Alexandria's buildings towered above.

The copyright of this post belongs to Gabrielle Goldsmith

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Magical Journey India 2014

This Magical Journey surpassed all of my expectations. Why? Why was it different to what I had imagined? I had known it would be a mix of new sounds, smells, wonderful writing pieces for me to listen to. But Magical Journeys India 2014 was much, much more.
It sparkled from the offset, fuelled by the adrenalin of a bunch of writers’ anticipation of fun, laughter and exploration. It was an adventure of the mind and soul and words flew through the Indian air with abandon forming themselves into wild and wonderful stories. We drank of the experience of places and people we were encountering. The stories fell from us effortlessly. Our words jumbled themselves into unique pieces of art, guided by our wonderful teacher Claire. Claire, whose own writing, support and encouragement spurred us on to explore and discover our own individual writing depths. Each writing session had a different dynamic and it was the precursor and springboard to further fun and exploration in our leisure times.
We embraced the Indian culture, discovered the joys of interacting with the locals and made new friends and shopped, and shopped again, buying everything Indian from spices to voluminous colourful trousers. We bought saris for the local tailor to make into own fashions, we bought singing bowls with which to meditate back home, we bought Indian snacks to tingle the mouths of our families (aptly called Masala Munchies). We swam in the Arabian Sea, frolicking in the warm waves that carried us shrieking onto the white sand. We spent a day travelling sedately on a punted houseboat through the Kerala backwaters, a series of meandering channels linking islands and lakes and ate curry off banana leaves in a jungle clearing. Our transportation on all our days was via tuk tuks – the bouncy crazy motorised rickshaws driven by our new friends Hami and Jami who looked after these crazy laughing English women as their own, and then invited us to share refreshments with their own families in their homes. Our restaurant meals exploded with taste and spices and nowhere else in the world could you choose every starter off the menu plus a range of main courses all for a couple of Pounds. We won’t dwell on the fish bone that became stuck in my throat as Jami saved the day by telling me the trick of biting a huge lump of banana and swallowing it whole. Quite a feat but it worked and less embarrassing than being thumped in public over a chair with the Heimlich manoeuvre!
But where did we lay our happy heads as night fell? Claire had found us a haven of peace and tranquillity in the middle of the cacophony of noise that is Kochin Town. The Secret Garden was a piece of paradise and the wonderful staff that brought us never ending cups of ginger tea, freshly squeezed fruit juices and home baked tasty breakfasts became an extension of our group of friends.
Was this an adventure holiday, a shopping holiday or a writing holiday? It was all of that and much, much more. It bonded an eclectic group of 7 women into a magical mix of words, warmth, adventure and constant bellows of laughter.
Claire Steele is the magical catalyst.
When is the next one please?

The copyright of this post belongs to Flo Kingfisher

Green Soul 2

Barely functioning - indeed, barely human – I crawl out of the forest, following a line of longitude that I can’t remember seeing before. The scent of morning leaks through the periphery of the trees; the light behind them is as sharp as lemon. The child, who has followed me on all fours, sits up and claps her hands with delight. She has never seen the like. She sets off ahead of me, bursting into this new world, fresh as a daisy and twice as smart.
What a pair we make. She has brought herself up in there but she has no nostalgia for the night before. It’s all about the future now. So far she has been little more than a mascot to me, but now I grasp at the understanding that she may become a talisman. These last years are just a dark diversion on the map of our lives. Finally I am not falling apart. Finally morning has broken.

The copyright of this post belongs to Julia Correvon

Green Soul 1

So green is the soul of the forest, beneath the wrapping of trees, that the scent of the morning does not penetrate. The air from the hills does not reach me in this cocoon of my own making. The hours roll over, falling in a heap at the back of my head. I try to count them, to pair them up, to pick out my position in the longitude of this exile, but they fizzle away. Daytime and night time are the same; the line between them blurs, goes in and out of focus.

I thought I had found my safe place, I thought here I would be bursting into a new world of light and life but the woods are not the considerate home they would have you believe. The forest pretends to be what it is not. I slip the last chocolate into my mouth. I am falling apart.

The copyright of this post belongs to Julia Correvon