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

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

And Still

With only skin to protect us, run deep in harm's way.
Stone has no breath,
Arms wide open, heart wide shut.
Above your still still waters
His veins thrill
With the skin you were born into.
Rising blood,
Arms wide open, heart wide
Wide above
With only your skin to protect us
Then above your breath,
Above your skin
Something in harm's way
Deep, open, still.

The copyright of this post belongs to Claire Steele


His veins thrill with rising blood, arms wide open, heart wide shut. Still waters run deep in harms way, stone has no breath with only skin to protect us; the skin you were born into. Then above your something waters thrill with rising blood - the harm you were born into. With only your heart, your breath to protect us. Still, blood rises above your open heart. In water’s way, only skin to protect us. Arms wide shut, heart wide open, something to protect us above your thrill veins breath. Still veins wide shut.

 The copyright of this post belongs to Ellen MacCree

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Walk

     Share this meandering alleyway with me, where the crow watches from a carved gate with his black eyes. I did not know he had russet feathers beneath his coal-black wings, just as I did not know there were flecks of topaz in your down-cast eyes. Take my hand and lead me in your imagination. On this uneven path of cracking concrete I still cannot bear your tears behind closed doors. Keeping it to yourself keeps me in the dark. Let's stop so you can spoon pieces of mango into my mouth like a baby bird. I open up to you waiting to be fed, to drink your breath which tastes like Jamaican rum. I am drunk on you and have to hang on for dear life. Such loads my back can carry. Such heaviness can bring you to your knees, and they are already swollen. I see the trinkets, the sweet gifts left in the gaudy shrine. The candle is lit but the wax has pooled in the plastic saucer. I stare into your face and I feel my cheeks grow hot when I see the shared laughter and the light in your eyes. I want to be in your movie but not as an extra. These gifts we give wrapped in heart-paper; my offerings on the altar of love. If only you could share.  

The copyright of this post belongs to Claudia Anne    Kerala  Nov. 2/15

Monday, 28 September 2015

The Makings of a Virago


     The signs were all there: insomnia, talking to myself wandering from room to room, kissing mirrors leaving bright scarlet lips, eating tubs of fudge ice cream while sitting on the dusty floor of my closet, squeezing the compliant cat so hard he ran out into the rain never to reappear. Like somebody else I know. I started thinking about underwear again. Not the super-enriched cotton full-size briefs and saggy vests designed for plain comfort, but beautiful, sensuous silk brassieres and panties sewn in delicate Belgian lace. This was my madness; this awful knowledge that my old undies must go. You see, I realized this fact when I found myself crawling across my bed, on hands and knees, nose pointed into the fragile fabric of the Venetian coverlet. Sniffing, inch by inch, for any sign of your earthy scent. Snarling like a police dog looking for a running man. It all seemed so futile. What I actually smelled was not clear. Whiffs of laundry detergent? Cat pee? After shave by Jean Paul Gaultier? No matter. I made a sad ceremony of violently balling up the bedspread and tossing it into the washing machine. I turned the temperature dial to 90 degrees, the maximum. I said it out loud. "Disintegrate, please disintegrate." I had one more important job. I emptied the top dresser drawer onto the carpet stained from the dregs of red wine. Once I took a sip of that Merlot and held it in my mouth while you kissed me hard and sucked the alcohol and spit it out, like a fire-eater in a circus. I've drawn your face on the large stain with a black magic marker. Now you are absolutely permanent. I can see your face whenever I want. the big brown paper bag was stuffed to the brim with my lingerie rejects, and I dumped the lot in the recycling bin.

     I've been thinking. I've always tended to rescue men as though they were an endangered species lost in the wild. I kept them as exotic pets. I loved them passionately until they wanted their freedom. I found them on street corners, smoking like old delinquents, recollecting their night raids of vandalizing cars in midnight parking lots. I found them angry in their leather jackets, pounding their steering wheels. I could make them shed tears on my shoulder. I found them exiting bad marriages, and biting their manicured fingernails until they bled over their suits. They were all ready to talk when I invited them home to huge bowls of spaghetti and plastic tumblers of cheap red wine. Sometimes I ironed their shirts. They fought over me in kitchens, punching with hard, clenched fists, and grappling on the linoleum tiles with the shouts, "Don't you touch her!" "Don't you go anywhere near her!" They came out with bloody noses. I should have been happy with that. They were clever and funny and ruthless. I walked down the aisle, knees trembling beneath white satin, and married the man who would leave me.

     There are some images that stay with you for the remainder of your days and nights. These continue to haunt my dreams. I've tried to make a film in my mind, splicing together the times of my life when I felt in love and alive. The film is finished, now. Of course, it has to be private. But I have the privilege of running the reels anytime, anywhere. I've seen the film many times: waiting for a bus, pushing a trolley down supermarket aisles, putting my head under water in the bath wondering how long I could hold my breath. In the kitchen I let the tea kettle boil dry. The red plastic clock ticks as loud as a metronome, and matches the thundering palpitations of my heart. Perhaps I could label these beats as 'Andante' or I could speed everything up and go for 'molto Allegro'. I'm watching as each frame moves by in slow motion. there is no sound except the lines I provide myself.


     1.  Late at night Richard tapped on my bedroom window. His Christmas-rush shift at the city's post office was finished. Under the blankets his body froze me until we held each other in a death-grip. I breathed my hot breath into the crook of his neck. He said, "I broke the guy's arm. He kept baiting me, calling me "Jew-boy", so we had a fight in the elevator, and I twisted his arm behind his back until I heard the bone snap." I wanted to say, "he deserved it." I wanted to be horrified. Instead, I felt some thrill of danger in him. So I rescued him that night, and lost my virginity. Blood seeped onto the sheets. For months I wore his engagement ring, with its tiny stone, on a chain around my neck. The secrets started then.

     2.   "Carry me to your castle", I said, and he would scoop me up, and gently place me on the bed. That night he was the conductor. On the turn-table was his surprise; the climactic movement of Wagner's 'Tristan and Isolde'. he instructed me. I was his eager pupil. The music played so I could recognize the soaring phrases, and hear the exciting build-up of the exhilarating crescendos. "Can you hear it?" he whispered. He started the music again. He wanted me to wait and wait, and I now knew when to let go. We made filmic-love for 6 minutes and 24 seconds. The timing of this was impeccable, and he came at exactly the right moment. The tormented chords moved over our bodies, and it was thrilling. But I was young, and wanted that night to be the template for our always love. More fool me.

     3.   When my husband walked in I had no idea where he'd been for all the hours I waited. his face was set. His lovely mouth looked like a slashed black line. His eyes were defiant when he said, "I don't have to explain to you where I've been." All I remember is the overwhelming rage and fear coursing through the hands, arms and legs that had been sitting, so afraid, yet quietly mending a dress that resembled a painting by Picasso; so colourful, such a happy pattern of abstraction. he seemed grey to me, standing across the room, legs astride. I still held the tiny sewing scissors, and I saw myself, from afar, run ning at him. I thought of spurned, faithful Jocasta, wife of Oedipus, and I wished I could stab out his lying eyes myself. For I was already blind. Vengeance is always a crowd-pleaser on film. We got a divorce, and I framed myself as a cinematic mourner in the court room. I can never remove the shock of walking down the office stairs, and seeing him with his arm draped so intimately around the long-haired woman, stroking her arm. Everyone knew except me. I can still hear him say, "You think making love has to be spiritual, but it's really just fucking." I'm going to burn this cruel bit of celluloid, now.


     4.   This is my favourite section of the movie: those wild and unconventional places to make love. here is a winter walk with Mason, our cold hands swinging, our talk leaving small frost clouds. There were snow drifts beneath the trees looking like soft eiderdown pillows from a Norwegian bed. He pulled me down on the cold ground, and lay my head on the settled snow drift beneath a tall, snow-laden Spruce. It was quick.
, minimal undressing, just enough openings. I felt the cold through my back and then the heat. Soft flakes fell from the branches like little cotton stars over our bodies, and I dreamed I was inside the most beautiful snow-globe that the Norse gods had violently shaken.

     5.   Under the old, dark eaves of the costume department; sneaking up the rickety stairs so no-one would see us. A Sunday. I said, "I want to put on the most beautiful dress for you." it had to be a courtesan's gown, yards of lace over vast crinolines. I'd wear a feathered mask. But there was nothing as erotic as that desire hanging beneath the plastic dry cleaning bags. Instead, I dressed in a simple, elegant grey crepe with pearls and sequins on the bodice and 21 hooks and eyes. I stood with my naked back to you, and you came to me in silence, and slowly fastened each one. I could feel your breath on the nape of my neck. You stayed in the same clothes. The uniform you always wore; jeans and a blue shirt. I don't know of anyone else who expressed her love on an improvised pile of winter coats, furs and an old chenille bedspread. I stole that dress.

     FRAME  6         FINIS

     6.   I threw your twelve string guitar at the wall. I have gone mad. I went from room to room in the emptied house, singing five versions of Ophelia's lament. When I reached our bedroom I chanted your name over and over and over until I lay down on the scuffed floorboards. You see, being awakened can be dangerous. I should know.


A cast of two

The copyright of this post belongs to Claudia Anne                                                    September/15

Wednesday, 23 September 2015


How many drops of happiness do you contain? Don't doubt that there are lost treasures waiting to be found within the chambers of your heart. Will you keep them a living secret like memories locked in a box? Do not be the ghost of a bride you once were, confined and defined by your past. Be whole again, explore all that you are. Let me drive the travellers from the heath. I will bring them in from the cold and set them up in the comfort and warmth of a Bedouin tent. They have a drunken three legged dog and a bear that plays the banjo and I defy you not to laugh. They will not scorn you, they will welcome your mirth and share in it with you. Come, bring me my locket in payment I have no need of that silver pebble at my throat and they will not uproot themselves for nothing.

Come now. Head towards the weeping willow at the crook of the river and you will see their fires blazing orange against the twilight, the air spiced with woodsmoke and something altogether more mysterious. I know your mother warned you never talk to the gypsies in the wood but she lived her life in fear of shadow demons, do not be hampered by those narrow lines. Go. Live your chameleon dreams, travel through meadows honeyed with dew, through valleys filled with the song of streams, dance naked under the moon doused in perfume and be true always to yourself for you are peerless and priceless and you will become whole again.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Mermaids and Marigolds

Wednesday was the worst day. It should have heralded the middle of the week, a peak from which she could slide back down into the weekend and her longed for day of rest. Instead it had become this pinnacle of dread. The Nursery gave out at mid day and the well-shod of Finchley descended on her for lunch, their chocolate-smearing, nose-picking, sneeze-swiping, sugar-sprinkling children in tow. The 'Terribles' were not limited to the twos in her experience, the three, four and five year olds that visited her cafe seemed equally capable of rising to the label, as did some of the Mothers. How was it possible to get cappuccino foam on the lamp shades for goodness sake? And yet there it was, mocking her belief in the propriety of a certain class. But they were reliable customers at least. When many of the other traders on the road had gone under she still managed to keep going and she knew it was these regulars she had to thank. She tried to forget that they were the stone in her shoe and smoothed her pinny, ironed on her smile and braced for impact.
The day did not disappoint: two glasses of spilt juice, four returned (half eaten) shortbread squares with smarties missing ( after all that is what happened when the children ate them) -"Smile" and a near emergency when little Amelia had to be taken to the kitchen with her Mother to empty the tea pot of its scalding liquid before the child's finger could be removed from the spout. Then there was the arrival of the raucous Barnston twins who brought with them their Harmonica and a toy kettle drum and proceeded to 'entertain' their unduly appreciative captive audience. What were these Mothers thinking Sky wondered, other than perhaps "Make it stop!"
When she had opened the tea shop Sky had envisaged a quiet clinking of tea cups on saucers, a genteel kettle whistling in the background of an aromatically steaming kitchen, clouds of pink frosted cupcakes and hand piped delicacies. These wild wanderers swishing in and the constant competition between the smell of bleach, floor wax, coffee and gentleman's relish ( don't ask!) was somewhat at odds with her dream. Now by the end of each day she was desperate to escape the marigold handcuffs and slip into a world of her own creation. The church bells would chime their evensong melody and under their spell she would lock up one life and enter another, forget the marmalade stickiness on the backs of the chairs and suck instead the sweet nectar of life; stroke her cat from whiskery nose to the tip of its tail, run her hands through the bowl of frozen peas, sink into a sloe gin at sunset and wait for her haddock to poach. After dinner she would submerge her skin beneath bath water, rainbow-slicked with fragrant oil and let her cares melt away. She would remember the ripples on the lake surface that she had enjoyed in the weekend's sunshine and imagine her silken skin to be that of an iridescent mermaid with magical powers, one who has never heard of marigolds.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Put Yourself in Cinderella's Shoes

Autumn curls her toes in the murderous morning's frost and decay, her leaves embroidered with Jack Frost's needlepoint. I set out along the path remembering the feel of shale and shell beneath my feet from that first Summer when we had crunched hand in hand along the sand but it all seems so distant now. Now as I walk the path I feel the emptiness by my side, the ice cracking beneath the heal of my boot, the crust on a creme brûlée. As a child I remember the joy of puddle jumping on these ice-glass surfaces, the innocent destruction that brought a sense of power: to crush the sheet to tiny glass-like shards and watch the splinters spin off across the slippery surface. Now all I see is how brittle things are, the veneer of our reality so thin, so easily broken.
It is a while since I have taken this path through the woods and I do not remember where it leads but I know I must follow it, put some distance between us and our latest dispute. I find I can forgive more easily as the miles extend between us and time serves to bandage my heart. I must lose myself to find myself, talking sternly all the way. Stand on your own two feet Cinderella. Why was that not the moral of the fairytale I want to scream? Can I not make a happy ending of my own? But I had never been taught to believe in myself, to be enough, and so I was bound by fairytale law to rely on you to bring my happy ever after. I am a glass slipper girl: I can dance the first dance and cast my enchantment but I have no staying power without your desire. What lies between us is ethereal, we both need to believe in it to make it real. It is hard to recognise magic in the utilitarian, day after day. But I would be lost without you. If I hobble home to you on lotus feet will you kiss my toes and mend the rift, make love glitter between us again? I may have one last dance to share.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Satan and Aladdin

At dawn Lucifer and Aladdin made their way down the huge flight of rough hewn granite stairs. They held hands, periodically gazing at each other.
'Where do we start?' said Lucifer.
'What do you mean?'
'You know, the whole 'coming out' thing. I mean, it's not every day the Lord of Hades announces he's gay.'
Aladdin leaned over, planted several rude, fat lipstick circles on Stan's cheek and said, 'You'll be fine.'
'Yes, sure.'
They continued down the stairs. Aladdin thought of a tune - the humming kind. He mouthed the words, 'Would you do that for me, would you let me do that for you?'
'What?' said Lucifer.
'Just a song. Nothing special.'
'What's it called?'
'Anoint my stump with a kiss.'
Lucifer pushed his hands into his pockets and sniggered, 'I think we've done more than just anoint it!'
'Very funny. Any other euphemisms? How about, "I can't see the wood for the trees"?'
'Aladdin, don't be like that. It really was my first time... I would never...'

The copyright of this post belongs to James Redden

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Story

The story is mottled—unclear, like a rain-stained window pane or the smudged colours of a ripening apple. There are pieces of it, fragments—a book with pages missing and torn corners; incomplete—as it should be, really, or as it inevitably always will be; as a story can never be told in totality: there is always more detail possible to add and parts omitted.
Memory is never the best testimony anyways—now you see it, now you don’t—and possibly never will again. Experience gets lived and lost in a maelstrom of brainstorm, buried in piles of stones like sea-glass pebbles broken and strewn. Sometimes hidden—like a bottle within a paper bag; or hermetically sealed, never again to be revealed. At times, memories glint up from within—glass prisms of broken glass, barely perceptible, but a reminder they are there—were there—and have a story to tell.

The copyright of this post belongs to Monica Jenkins

Wednesday, 8 July 2015


We are born into a world of life. We breathe living air, stride upon living soil, swim in a living sea. The earth yields plants that grow and nourish its inhabitants.
But we don’t perpetuate life. Like sparks on a leafy forest floor, we ignite and consume; fell trees and smoke the air.
We create death.
We sculpt elephants whilst the real ones are being slaughtered and decimated. We form inanimate objects that don’t require living water to keep cool or clean air to breathe.
The sculptor tips the scales with his artistic thumb and upsets the balance.
We cannot change what is past, regenerate what has perished, or return an accumulated mass to its former state of being.
If we do not govern the Earth, we will be left to guard dead men and sunken treasure.

The copyright of this post belongs to Monica Jenkins


What I invented for myself is our love. You were just you— yet another man on the same earth—another face in a sea of faces—the crowd of skin and eyes and hair—blurred and nondescript, melded together and indistinct.
I heard your voice, and your words enticed. I gambled a seed on you—and within your willing embrace, it sprouted. The bud that grew whispered a promise: I would never be alone- never anonymous. Face recognition would yield identity.
Now we water and fertilize this love with horse manure and bull shit. You offer it as a bursary to subsidize my initial loan. Can we persist in our invented bucolic bliss? I want to know the truth, but I’m scared of it.

The copyright of this post belongs to Monica Jenkins

Monday, 29 June 2015


       Hello darkness my old friend, I did not hear you over the sound of our child practicing her scales on the piano. You always arrive unannounced, just when I think I am protected,cocooned. I sink beneath a chant of plainsong and feel it will protect me. Or Tibetan isolation; prayer wheels spinning in my head, a rush of white noise, a roar, a talisman against your clawing, gnawing, never-letting-go thinking I will be untouchable there. But you find me and weave your fingers through the white noise closing your cold grip, insistent and serpentine.  Can I ever be free?
       I am transposed into another place, remembering the echo of raindrops on the drum of my umbrella, the syncopated beats of blood and hymns and prayers. I never heard an apology as I laid the Lily on your grave. There was no goodbye. The chaos of my apocalyptic cosmos consumed me, a noise like animals crying and cursing in anger. I yell my silent anger and fears to your inert form, maintaining social poise lest anyone should be made awkward by emotion. How could you leave me alone? Everyone is polite, caring, fearful, their kid glove love is like feather-touch: don't rock the boat. I am left to stand in the sound of my own silence.
     Weeks have passed, months.  And I remain at your mercy. I will carry on, put on the face the world wants to see but I know I will not hear a tree fall in the silence of the forest today, or see the infinity rings spread on the water as the children skip stones across the river. I will not hear the cave mouth swallow and hold its breath as we draw near or see new life sprouting from mossy banks. I am devoid of all but my grief.
Please, let me find a path. Let me breathe again.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Trader's Wife

I had been baking the plain flat breads since dawn so when the chance came I was out of the door like a spark from the range. The versatility of the cook was being pushed for the meeting of the guild elders this evening and she was too harassed to tear herself away from the preparation of lamb with pumpkin and lentil stuffing, sugar coated biscuits and marchpane to bother with the market today so she gave her blessing for me to go in her place. I was to be trusted. My goal was a rope of whole roasted garlics and more capsicum for the trout mouse, but I desired nothing more than freedom from the chaos of that frenetic steaming world of chopping, cubing, dicing mincing and grinding. I was to be free, for now at least.
As I run to the market I taste the iron tang of the butchers work in the air along with all the fruit and spice and marsh salt on the breeze. I feel the kiss of it on my skin, feel the honey-warm cocoon of the sun and her tracery of light on the Estuary waters. I lean on the warmed oak posts of the covered market, my face in the shade, drinking in the strangeness of it all. I take my time finding my bearings, watching the division of players and audience, all rehearsing their parts on the stage in front of me: aproned butchers men sharpening knives, the barber surgeon equally bloodied, grain merchants checking their scales and bakers knocking excess flour from the base of their loaves while dumpling shaped matrons and gnarled old men stand waiting for their cue along side beribboned maidens with lace hankies hoping to hear their spring-mincing Beau's spout poetry and perfumed words to make their hearts and fans flutter.The cumulus of people flow around the market in a worn groove of harmonies and misunderstandings, a sea of emotion. The independent sellers, versatile in their patter, adjust their prices up and down, negotiating the play of satisfactory deals depending on their audience.
I see her then, the trader's wife, pretty as a peach. She alone is the reason all women are referred to as the fairer sex. She is sacrificing blood oranges with a blunt knife. This is a far better end for the spoiled fruit, than having it go to the pigs. Gelatine and sugar will be added to the liquor and boiled down to make the finest delicacy, crystalised rose adding its gentle suggestion to the jelly at the last moment, food to touch the lips of gods and lovers.
She raises the cloudy pulp in a muslin bag allowing crystal dew drips to be released. The sun shows her silhouette to great advantage and my pulse runs in anticipation of tasting such a delicacy. The scent of the heady citrus is bringing her to the brink of intense happiness and for a moment I am lost in the dimple forming and reforming on the edge of her smile as she sucks the spilled juice from her finger. If I could make a wish I would be the orange in her hand to bring her such pleasure. I would be the oil on her skin so she would have need to kiss me away again and again. She would be my moon's compass. I could catapult to the night sky on the Cupid bow of her lips and bring her a blanket of stars. I would write her sweet poetry of flowering fruit and blue elephants under the moonlight and touch the cordial notes between us. The melted chocolate on our tongues as we kiss would be the only bitterness between us. Together we would understand all the divine secret truths of love.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

Monday, 15 June 2015


  I set off alarms. I am frisked by complete strangers. Intimate pat-downs. I hold out my arms like a crucifixion and I think how much I want to be frisked by you. In private. I would become brazen and hide my wrinkled nakedness beneath a black burqua. Even my face has a veil. My kohl-rimmed eyes are watching you. Waiting. Your hands blaze with heat. Your touch brands me as you begin to map my skin. Inside my dark curtain I do not worry what you will see in my country. Your fingers linger upon borders long since closed. I recognize my name as you spell each letter down my spine. You lift my tiny veil and sing into my mouth like a mythical troubadour. You leave a romantic inscription with your tongue. I become your orchestra and you conduct unlike long lost fragments of an erotic motet. I had dreamed of wild boys who would write poetry; fluttering, tormented words to break my heart. I wanted to sail down the ocean strait with you as the pilot, plotting the cold stars to set our future. But I am black and blue from your cruelty, bruised by your pummelling lies. You sailed without me. Once, your home was a shabby hotel room. I sat on the bed. You made an art out of unbuckling my high-heel shoes, your hand sliding up my nyloned leg. You said, "I wrote a song for you." You picked up your guitar. You serenaded me. "Traffic lights are full of snow. I love you I know I know. Sitting in my easy chair. Thinking about your crazy hair." Crazy hair. A permanent wave gone wrong. Hair like an abandoned bird's nest. Remember your fingers threaded through those frizzy curls as you pressed me against the wall of the cinema's projection booth. The flickering Hindi film running noisily, the Bengali audience chattering and laughing. The foreign dialogue blocked my ears as you kissed me hard,  only breaking away to change the reel.. left you then to walk through snow drifts. When I am very old I''ll wear a purple dress made of ripe figs. They will hang like exquisite purple breasts. Oh, how I could nourish you.

The copyright of this post belongs to Claudia Anne


I spiral through the lens to a world at the other side; Alice down a rabbit hole. Do the turgid grasping roots of fungus squeeze new life from the decaying blooms when they land in the compost,I wonder, as I sink down through the humus layer in a bubble of thought? I have no time to gather my wits, let alone the items that have fallen from my fruit baskets. I pass a lowly worm who gives me a drunken stare through his monocled eye and I return a slow wink. He looks outraged at my presence but I feel I should remind him it is him burrowing in my garden, well my Uncle's garden really, not the other way round. But all of a sudden I am not so sure.
I spiral through time and underground space assaulted as much by mushroom smells as flashes of sky as I tumble further from the garden. Surreal scenes flash past me: a mole postman on a penny farthing bicycle, belly dancing grubs, a tight-rope walker with a huge head and sequinned tights, a toy horse with a coronet of feathers cantering round and around like a motorbike on the wall of death, all defying the gravity that pulls me down and down. I was looking for answers in the compost, like reading tea leaves, truth, a different reality, a view to the horizon and beyond, a way out from narrow perspectives, but as I spiral through this strange new world I wonder if my perspective is not shrinking further. There is no horizon here, no sky even any more. All is shades of brown and strangeness.
The tunnel narrows and I fear I will be wedged but then realise the narrowing is due in part to a spiral of ants and beetles on the tunnel sides. My legs and arms bite into the thread of them and I spin more slowly, slowing, tighter, tight, stopping with my feet on stone steps. The insects melt away through the damp of ages, scratching through the agony of mortar. I look around at endless arches and staircases reaching and joining one another in a dance of right angles, sideways, inverted, until I spot a door. I find I am terrified. Now I have new horizons to explore, new possibilities, I am not brave enough to explore this new world now I have found it. Wishing only to find my way back to the comfort of familiar thoughts and expectations I can think of nothing but escape. I run the maze of stairs, pausing at the top of each flight, the bottom of the next, often finding they are one and the same, to consider my progress. Am I getting any closer to my goal? It is all a cruel joke, the stairs are mirrors and perspectives and for all my efforts I am getting nowhere. Eventually I sink to the floor on a half landing exhausted, and curl like a hedgehog with my head to my knees feeling keenly the absence of prickles to protect me. I am a jellyfish to be squashed and moulded by other forces. I drift into sleep, oblivion, relief.
When I wake the sun has sunk lower in the sky and I can feel the fabric imprint of my skirt and the grass on my cheek. I am stiff with the exertions of my adventure (or is it the damp from the earth?) and I unclench my body from its ball, spiralling up from the ground like a new sprout released from a corm, arms outstretched. The sun glints off my Uncles binoculars where he stands on the balcony and I know I will always be observed, inspected. I clean the dirt from beneath my nails, already longing to have been braver.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

Friday, 12 June 2015

Wake Up

The bottles are emptied, the hangovers hung, we’ve both been fast asleep…wake up little Suzie, wake up,  wake up little Suzie. The sandman steals her conscious soul and dandelion clocks blow melted memories down the corridors of her mind .The years stare back at her in the rear view mirror, a revelation. Suzie blinks and is a young woman, the world open before her and nothing out of reach. All that seems to matter is the promise of tomorrow and the sparkling crystal glasses from which she sips diamond shaped love. Well what are they going to tell your mamma , what they going to tell your pop, wake up little Suzie, wake up. She’s a child again running through  fields, honeyed pistachio ice cream, birds on the wing and the undergrowth rustling with secrets only imagined. The Summers are long and the sequined nights warm. There’s a peace here that once lost will never be reclaimed but always remembered. Suzie, a child of a time where innocence sings a nursery rhyme and magenta marbles roll with unfettered laughing.. The blessed cane of age raps on the ebony and ivory of her life, wake up little Suzie, wake up little Suzie, and there goes childhood’s casual walk to the march of responsibility. We gotta go home…
The copyright of this post belongs to Debbie Mitchell

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Making a Stand

The wolves chased me into the dense dead forest. I nearly slipped into the rapidly flowing stream, but I held my balance on a wobbly limestone rock covered in slimy moss. I continued on, sprinting over logs and twigs, each time only missing the debris by a few centimetres almost falling in the process. The wolves were snapping at my heels now, they were corralling me just like dolphins do to small fish. They all seemed to be harrying me to a certain point. And then I realised I was running full pelt towards the edge of a huge black granite plateau. In a split second I asked myself a simple question. Get torn to pieces or jump of the edge of the cliff not knowing what is at the bottom? I jumped.

I fell and hit the sea , which felt harder than the cliff itself. It felt like being hit by an elephant sized bullet. It took a couple of seconds to think about what had happened and what to do next, and then my natural instincts kicked in. I remembered the hungry, mangy, slobbering wolves, howling for the taste of blood. The only way I could get away was down, down into the water. I took one last gulp of air and then sank into another world.

As I swam I saw mysterious shapes, rocks with jagged edges. As I past them, they flashed like sunken lighthouses, only it was not an artificial glow, it was the kind of bioluminescent glow that an Angler fish might give off. Suddenly the lights began flashing faster, I was running out of breath. I started kicking upward but the sea just pulled me down. I really did think that I was sinking to my watery grave but then there was an explosion of light. I was out of the blue.

No, quite literally, I was out of the blue water, and in to the sky, falling more rapidly than my brain had said “runaway from the wolves.”  I  fell past clouds and mountains, my ears popping every bit of the way. I thought about where I was going to land, would I survive , would the wolves find me?  

But then everything stopped abruptly, and I was sitting in the hands of the most enormous gentle marshmallow creature. In him I saw all of the four seasons. He gazed at me with an inquisitive look through his great big black eyes and I looked back at him with the deepest interest. He put me down on the ground and I staggered away.

That would have been the end of it had he not have followed me. And then I realised why he caught me; he was lonely. From then on we were best friends. We played together and sat together until one day I sensed something was not right. I heard a bark and then a howl and then I heard their chorus. The wolves were back. We ran as fast as we could we sprinted across fields and scampered up mountains, but my friend tired.

We were at the top of the mountain when the fearsome wolves caught us, leaping behind him and tearing great chunks of his flesh off. I couldn’t bear to watch. As I ran away I saw his bloody body fall into the abyss. I was running again but this time I was sad, frightened. I wanted revenge. The wolves pushed me to the cliff edge, but I was the one that pushed them over.                      

The copyright of this post belongs to Roshan Khan (age 11)

Fashion Day

 The wind howled and the doors on the houses groaned. Far in the East one person was not having a good time.  The witch Arabetha called for her only friend, Bumble the Beetle. Arabetha said
"I want to make a potion." Bumble ignored her and pretended to be dazed. Arabetha wanted to make a potion for The Beauty Show.
"I will put in one spider, two cucumbers and five sections of that cobweb over there, Bumble, fetch it for me. NOW!"
Obediently Bumble scurried away to do as he was told.

Soon they had a bubbling cauldron filled with unusual ingredients. At twelve noon, Arabetha took the gooey substance out of the cauldron.  As carefully as she could, she took a spoonful of it, and ate it.  Then she pounced over to her magic mirror and whispered softly "Mirror, Mirror on the wall," (by now her body had transformed from ugly to beautiful,) "who is the fairest of them all?"
"Sophie," replied the mirror honestly.
The witch screamed with anger and split into frozen shards of ice.
"Until next time!" smiled the mirror.

The End 
The copyright of this post belongs to Rosie Khan (age 7)

No, You Can't Take That Away From Me

Every Sunday my brother and I visited our maternal grandmother.
She lived in a crumble of rubble that she called Eden and it was, looking back now, a sort of Eden.
A large rambling shack of a ruin that had walls a plenty, animals, fruit trees, the whole jumble merging together into a sort of paradise. For my brother and me, those Sundays were an education, as we learned about intimate aspects of ourselves, moaning about our parents, singing stupid rhymes and lying on our backs wondering about other planets. These memories, you can’t take that away from me, it is a wall of comfort now that he is dead, his physical presence may be no more, but the scent of him hangs about my being like vapour.
We would explore grandma’s house with a freedom denied to us at home. Our Scottish, skittish mother and brooding, bobbing Irish father. Father called mother his Boadicea of the bedroom and she called him her Bartleby of the boudoir. My brother and I didn’t know then what all this meant, only that their walls of respectability had dissipated into dishevelment upon our return every Sunday evening. Since I have now lost them, and also grandmother, I feel alone but have walled off that wounded part of myself. Therapy has helped in adulthood, but you can’t take that away from me, the long distant memories of my Eden childhood.
How my brother and I once roamed, feral and barefoot across the damson orchards, climbing the low dry stonewall that protected the sheep. Our games with wooden swords, our screams of delight, as we stabbed each other, enacting the wars from our school history classes. It is all past but ever present for me, my wall of dreams and desires. I miss them all but know that walls do make good neighbours. They are the neighbours of my heart.

The copyright of this post belongs to Valerie Rule
28 May 2015

Monday, 8 June 2015

Child Peggy

She always loved the story of The Little Match Girl, the Victorian truths embedded there that became myth, and therefore relevant.
Not relevant to her own upbringing with a wayward mother dressed in sequins
And pearls with a volatile temperament. Peggy’s mother could unleash her ideas in the flip of a second, rejecting the invention of childhood to dress her daughter in sophisticated outfits. Veiled hats, fox fur capes and high heels all when she was only ten years old.
In those days, Child Care Officers (before they became known as Social Workers),
would tut and fume at the frequent home visits, but helpless in the face of the pageantry, the family emblems and the intimidating spire of the ancestral seat.
No, poverty was not on the agenda, but the psychological neglect, the capriciousness of the mothering was evident for all to see.
Peggy read widely, the library her lair, hiding in the many cold, bare rooms of the castle where she grew up, preferring books to meals.
She read about the child transportation to Australia and fancied herself working on a vast, hot, outback farm with lots of rabbit shooting forays in the bush. But this was just one of her many poignant songs in the dark. In her battered children’s shoes she would raid the filing cabinet full of papers, looking and always searching. Looking, always searching for stories she could turn into myths to make sense of her life.
In those featureless rooms she would walk the wide floorboards and pretend they were the deck of a ship under a cloudless sky, she would lie down and dream. She would bang her feet and punch the fetid air, then, pacing again she would throw about the old dusty Mateus Rose wine bottles, taking out stubs of waxy candles, she would scrawl on the floorboards: these are my own Songs of Innocence: fuck you William Blake.

The copyright of this post belongs to Valerie Rule 4/6/2015

Monday, 25 May 2015


Now I sit, absorbing the serrated edges of the Jazz orchestra's 
syncopated rhythms rising to a crescendo while I look back over my 
journal, letting go of the present by looking to the past. I was so much
 older then, so fixed in my assumptions that this was how a grown up 
should behave, forever playing the role to a shifting audience. Thank 
God I escaped that trap, that charade. I can see now that I had been 
stuck, cradling the hummingbird in the cage of my soul, placating its 
ruffled feathers for fear of being discovered. I had been afraid of 
being different, afraid of the judgements others would mete out if they 
saw my true feelings, heard my true voice, my likes my dislikes. I had 
felt too small and vulnerable under the gaze of my peers. It was more 
important to fit the mould that they could be comfortable with. No 
longer, thank the Lord, what you gain with age is indeed wisdom (if of 
course you choose to listen to it). I am more free now than I ever was 
as an invincible young adult with the world at my feet. Hah, how was it 
that my twenties gave birth to such arrogance! I would not dream of 
being young again if spooning myself back into someone else's mould was 
the price to pay. But things were different then.
         We had met at one of those unplanned flat parties that seemed to 
happen spontaneously, everyone arriving from the cool night air as if by 
osmosis and then being caught by the one way membrane of alcohol and 
music.  I saw his smile appear in my memory first, like that of the 
Cheshire Cat, the rest of his face, his body swimming into focus after. 
He was holding out a shot glass to me.
        "What is it?" I asked, by way of introduction, not really caring 
about anything more than having caught his attention.

        "A little kiss of citrus for your tongue." He put the glass to 
my lips and salt mingled with fumes on my palate. As the fire spread he 
planted that first bitter lime kiss on me and all I wanted was to be 
swallowed by those flames.
          Bang. The journal falls from my 
knees to the floor and I lose my grip on the past. My previous life 
fades to memory and I jolt back to the present. 
The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan 


My father is tearing up bibles under the hedge in an agony of rage 
and frustrations.

          "Hear this if you are so almighty. I am the great defiler. Go 
on, Smite me. What's one more life to you?"  I watch from the verandah. 
Looking out into the heat haze it seems I am seeing the pain he feels as
 a halo fizzing around him. How will he manage alone? He has nothing 
without me. Not since Mother died. It's been worse these last few weeks,
 since the fever struck. He will get through this. I cannot afford to be
 drawn into his madness, not today. I must make my escape as planned.

         I must meet with my grandfather on the Jade Bridge where the 
poor and disenfranchised of the world wait. They gather in hope of alms,
  I go for deliverance. The elegantly dressed merchants and westerners 
who pass pretend not to see the desperation in their fellow men. Who is 
it do they suppose that holds them up in their superior ranks and ivory 
towers? There can be no upper class without a lower class. Surely they 
could afford some mercy, some humility.
         I know I would have 
no hope were it not for the generosity of my Grandfather offering to 
bring me out into society once we reach India. It is a chance for a 
future I did not dare to dream of. A chance to be part of society's 
mesh, rather than falling through the sieve with the dregs as my Mother 
had feared I would. I take my valise and hat box and set off to meet 
         How long will it take before my Father knows I
 have left? I picture him running the moth-eaten brim of his straw 
boater through his fingers as the fever dies in the cooling yellow air 
of sundown, calling for his gin and tonic with quinine,  unaware that it
 is Genesis burning to keep away the mosquitoes. He will stand in his 
cooling sweat, listening to the chant of the cicadas and crickets, 
muttering quietly to himself like a madman in his striped blazer. He 
looks like the consummate gentleman from the verandah but so much is 
hidden by distance.
"God, bless and keep him safe from his own destruction" I pray, a tear 
escaping below my veil.

         The steamer will pull out of the dock at sundown and I will 
leave behind everything I have known. The bridge comes into view 
spanning the sluggish water. This ornate stone bridge that has stood for
 hundreds of years offering safe passage will now transport me from this
 life to another. My leaving will not change this place, it will carry 
on regardless. Our presence on the earth is a mere blink in history, a 
flittering thought in a cloud of dust blown away in a heart beat. 
       My grandfather waves and tips the brim of his top hat to me. I 
recognise him from the photograph in Mothers album. I am flooded with 
relief that he is here and rush to kiss his greying whiskery cheek, then
 admonish myself for being so informal.  He smiles as he takes in my 
     "Ah, so like Evaline my dear. You have your Mother's 
spirit." Seeing the trail of my tears he squeezes my arm, then links it 
through his own, patting my hand. I feel the calm descend. I am safe in 
his hands. I will sail to India with my Grandfather to make a new life 
and take only the memory of my Mother's kindness with me.
The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Fragments of the Whole

I am secret and separate from this living world now. 
 My bonds are cut and I dance with the lights, 
 with Morris men's hankies, with maypole ribbons and flags of our fathers. 
 Do not play cat and mouse with the moonbeams shining on my coffin. 
 Arise from the ludicrous metaphysical Verandah of your mind 
 and take new life for yourself where I now have none. 
 Stretch into a new pose and feel the movement of the breeze 
 flowing across your skin, like water 
 smoothing the cares away from a boulder. 
 Understand that your future is there to be faced, 
 whether in fear or fortitude, so embrace it for what it is: 
 Laugh at the ludicrous, be philosophical. Accept your direction 
 and follow it to its conclusion just as the river follows the contours of the land. 
 Immerse yourself in colour and texture, space and time, 
 seek truth and knowledge unhampered by willful ignorance. 
 Who knows what visceral thing you may become 
 when you crumble your currant disguise and reveal a new 
 self previously hidden in the maze of burrows that lie behind 
 a rabbit hole. Seek, Discover, Relish, Understand: this is your path, 
 paved with prayers and possibilities, redemption and rubbish. 
 Make good all that you can be. Knot the pieces together and 
 make a new necklace of meaning, whole-hearted, 
 philosophical and ready to dance under the whole moon 
 striped by waves on water. Arch your hands in prayer,
 hold yourself quiet in the palm of his hand, 
 let discord fall from your heart strings and know all possibilities are open. 
 Before it is your time to shrine, make good something pure, entire, new,
 some unlooked for bonus and then you will be free 
 to unlock the secret door to the mausoleum and rest in peace. 
 The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan 


Friday, 8 May 2015

The Ice House

"Come again to me. I will wait beneath the silverside of trailing ivy at the ice house." Surely you cannot resist a free taste of abandon. It was our first meeting place, do you remember? Why do you not hold it in reverence and wonder as I do? Escaped from Cook's all seeing eye I had dawdled over the task of fetching the ice she needed and then, there you were, talking to me as if I was the only one in the world who could know you.
"Can you speak in sign language?" you had asked, but I did not know what you meant.Your touch had played me like the notes of a music box, each finger stroking a delicate note from my virgin drum. You were the Tutor of my desire and a fire awoke in me, Pandoras curiosity, and unknowing, I became your plaything. You made me swear an oath before the Green Man, knowing I would not risk his displeasure.
" I am the secret keeper, and I hold my secret dear."
I came often to the woods with a ready catch of words and gestures hoping to please you then and you had teased me out of my stays with your gentle words and insistent fingers
" What lies beneath the earths mantle?" said your sly fox smile, and then you warmed me with your probing fingers and other objects of curiosity. We learned our love through the seasons, mixed fire with ice, rolled in the bluebells, crushing their scent to our bare skin, the barley turned its ears to the music of your quickening groans resonating again and again rising in duet with my own, Wheat bowed in longing towards our snatched frenzied exertions under the bruised lightening skies of late Summer. You planted a seed of longing in me then, but now do not tend it. Why? Your marriage is a sham, you said so. You are a mirror of discontent, yet cool disdain is all I see in your face now as I bring breakfast to you and your new lady wife.

"Ah, you are come. Into my arms, my Lord, complete me. Can I guess how much you want it? I see your stiffness salute under the strain of silk. Fish deep into my cave of wonders and I will show you what it feels like to have molten glory at the core. She is ice and cannot melt for you like I do. The fire you laid in me burns still, if only you will stoke it my Lord. We are one, a beast with two backs that must be united in praise of The Green Man. He blessed our union of secrets.Why do you hold me at arms length Lord?"
"What is the code to creation?" you ask me. In the glowing dim light of the ice house I step back, confused, and look to you to teach me again while I hold steady to the saw blade. "To hold safe your vows, your rings, your babies teeth. My loyalties lie elsewhere now Martha, you must understand. My lady is with child."
"No matter Lord we are still one. Hold my eyes, my hands. Don't turn your back, don't look the other way I beg you, you cannot know what I am capable of. This love will turn on itself. No!"
Why did you not heed my warning? I cannot be held responsible for this.I see the life drain from you and know that the flames of passion are extinguished. We are both at peace then.
Is there blood on the knife? I wipe the serrated edge on your sleeve and sink to my knees in the crimson ice.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan


My dad used to eat the entire apple: core, seeds and all.
He’d chuck the stem—the only sign of it ever having been there.
If the seeds contained cyanide, it was of no consequence—
A tiny poison within a fruit of life was a metal heirloom etched with flowers—
An image of a thing that dies on an everlasting object.
He ate pears the same way—in their entirety—
Not to be smudged with sloppy, clumsy fingers,
Nor soiled with stickiness.
With a plum, he would suck the stone—
yearning to exact every last drop from the crevices,
polishing it to a shine.
Had he been Adam, he would have beaten Eve to the apple,
Not sit passively as a dining servant, observing and patient for table scraps.

I have inherited this passion. At birth, I signed my name to the document;
Nourished in youth to spell in his elementary ways; nurtured as a messenger of his words.
For a bond of family is as strong as steel—
Made of Earth metal and made to last.
Like a blood-sister bond, his bloodprint remains upon my thumb,
And will remain after that life that I celebrate is gone.

I celebrate life fully—engulfing it as a whole fruit—
Allowing it to flow unfettered to my core and return to its source.
Like a cavern, I will be carved by the ebb and flow of the currents of experience
Until I am egg-shell thin,
And carried along to the foot of the broken cross—
To lay dirtied and disregarded—
Humbled and fulfilled.

The copyright of this post belongs to Monica Jenkins

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Musical Memoires

We complete the magical jangle in the choir. You and I, pristinely attired in our royal blue and white school uniform, arrange our brightly coloured glockenspiels with anticipation. Considering that Ronnie and I must have been asleep when the angels were handing out harmonious vocal cords, then we are even more grateful of having the honour of our involvement. My little brother, Rueben is quietly scanning the crowded hall for my black haired braided face. He hopes, crossing his small fingers, for the wish to come true. With utter passion, I can imagine him inwardly praying for our group to win.
“Everything counts on this”. This thought floats above me, like a pink-lilac bubble. It hovers over me, suspended and shared, just like the bubble-gum I used to blow, before bursting the sickly sweet gunk over my braced mouth. To my practical and no nonsense natured mother’s dismay, this used to result in my little brother chortling uproariously until he broke wind or wet himself. However, it was worth reciprocating the sharp sting on my wrist from her firm hand and her even sharper tongue just to bring an up sided expression to his normally confused and anxious face.
My mother was the most treasured gold nugget in the whole of New Zealand despite her strict and orderly manner. Before Angela, three years my senior, came along, followed by myself and Rueben, Rueben, Mum had been a full time Senior Ward Nurse. Her meticulous and somewhat domineering manner had not been ironed out, just because her offspring had halted her career. This part of her persona remained with her, but I cannot complain, as I feel certain that she made us stronger. Josephina Hillcroft was right there behind him, holding on to his reins, which must have appeared slightly odd on a child of that age. Now, I must not let this bubble of opportunity pop, I instruct my eleven year old conscience.
So, here we all out, Dare the Dynamics from Blue Ridge High, assembled in this competition, awaiting the accolade that everybody has been painstakingly practising for since January 1973. Ronnie Walters’s endearingly dimpled chin is raised and his hands poised with readiness. I can’t help noticing how the golden shaft of sunlight is streaming onto his freckled and suntanned face like a spotlight. My knees tremble and my throat feels like a pebble is lodged in there, as I remind myself to breathe deeply. A sea of glassy eyes gazes at me, watchful and expectant. My furrowed brow is full of concentration, as my fizzy rush of adrenalin is tempered by my higher self.
“Be calm and carry on”. Suddenly, I spot Uncle Tom, as Mrs Winterbourne clears the way for him with a goldfish expression, as she dutifully scuttles towards the side of the red brocade curtains. My heart is then in my mouth as he steps on to the podium facing us, our bated breathed group. He was meant to be convalescing from shingles for another few days. Apparently, Posy his adopted daughter had been the guilty contagion, as we had all endured the chicken pox several years previously. With typical green eyed jealousy, I had bemoaned to her of the fact that she should have been in quarantine, because we needed Uncle Tom for this very evening. With calculative retort from her acid voice below her buttercup topped head, she informed me that he was not my Uncle Tom, and I had no real aunts or uncles.
“You don’t deserve any anyway Judy. And what sort of name is that for a girl, and where was Punch today?” She paused for a moment for me to witness her curled tongue to rudely protrude from her ten year old mouth. Considering I had addressed her as Rosie Posey, I suppose this quip was richly deserved for me, and before she skipped away back towards the cottage, two evenings’ before the concert, she called out with a most painfully sharp witted and wicked comment.
“You’d better go back home Judith Hillcroft to play nursemaid to that sad excuse for a brother. Oh and good luck for Thursday. I hope you lose with flying colours.” And before I could run after her in anger, Auntie May had appeared from behind the hedge, gripping her ear, as she was unceremoniously escorted back towards their cottage.
My addled mind was then whizzed back to the present, as Uncle Tom arranged his composure, as he displayed his trusty square jawed stance, and with a brief toothy grin and an acorn hued twinkle in his intelligent eyes. Our rather pale faced mentor is today wearing his trusted pea-green tweed jacket, despite the sultry warm air pouring into the hall. Only a few of us are aware that this is his lucky item of clothing, and I am now buzzing with the determination to deliver. He then began to raise his hands with majesty and delightfully calm control. The spicy aroma of his classic aftershave permeates in front of us, thankfully masking Mrs Winterborne’s overpowering stench of parma-violet toilette water.
How could this ever be complete without you, Uncle Tom? I had wondered with admiration to myself. Two weeks ago, before he was confined to his cottage with his illness, he phoned at my parents’ house, just so that he could speak to me.
“I’ll be laid up Judy-joy, for a while, so if I can’t make next month’s concert, then just remember this, my little ray of sunshine. Without you and Ronnie on the glockie, the choir will be as lost as sheep out of a pen. You must lead them, just as you always do, little one. I know you all can nail it. Just focus on the sounds at the carousel we went to last weekend. Just imagine yourself riding the golden mare, and bobbing up and down with the music, with the entire choir following you and Ronnie. Become part of that music, dissolve in it, and forget everything else. That’s all Judy. Promise me that.”
“I promise”, I pledged to him with a watery voice, before we bid each other good evening, as Rueben watched me with awe, his face once again creased in confusion. Gripping his trusted and damp comfort blanket, he clumsily manoeuvred his walking frame, with his eight years of struggle for survival, most poignant in my memory of that evening. Then, remembering dear Uncle Tom’s earnest warm words, which he shared with me, I prepare myself. All of the tumultuous gnawing in both my head and tummy dissipated, and discarded like unwanted ghosts into the ventilated evening air.
Ronnie and I then begin, after what seems like hours, as we tinkle the metal bars into life.

“Yesterday”, the choir commences, singing with mellow and honey combed notes. With increased gusto we then continue flawlessly, as we live, feel and breathe the words and notes into our metal bars.
“All my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.”
Our almost deliriously spirited choir’s voices fill the room with vigour, as our chimes and clangs complement the undertones with pure synchronised magic. Only after we finish and remove our instruments from their harnesses, do I allow an errant tear to drip down onto one of the purple bars.
* * * * * * * * * *
Now, as I glance at Ronnie, as he wanders into the living room, clutching a tray of tea, my reverie is broken. The last half hour, after my strong medication caused my afflicted mind and body into almost soporific oblivion, I gaze with oozing fondness at my husband. The opiate which masks the pain from my op after chemo has finally won the second round of battle. In fact, only yesterday morning, we’d received the tearful and liberating news that I’d been diagnosed as cancer free.
Unfortunately, Ruebin cannot be here to raise a toast to our wonderful and touching news, as his rare congenital illness, which stunted both his mental and physical development, and resulted in him losing his short fight against this condition in his twelfth year, just three springs after our pivotal school concert. This was undoubtedly an extremely bitter pill to swallow for all our family. Mum only survived another two years after the loss of her only son.
Dad, therefore had to begin working from home, changing career as a journalist to become a writer, which incidentally he became very good at. His eight novels, etched graciously in gold lettering now grace the bookshelves in the study. I am proud to state that John A Hillcroft had consequently, been nominated the most outstanding author of Ghost Story publications. Although, previously, in the background he had since Rueben’s death become very much in the forefront with my elder sister, Angela sacrificing her college course, which she managed to return to later, in order that she could help look after Dad and I.
Dad met lilting voiced and County Mayo born Kerry two years later, whom he lived with before getting hitched. Free spirited and alarmingly spontaneous, dressed in floaty bohemian dresses, she complements my father as the other half of a contented and interesting couple, most refreshingly. Now both in their eighties, the still animated pair live in a warden controlled apartment ten minutes away from our house. They will not be able to join us this afternoon, but we will film our outing, take pictures and upload them onto a disc, for them to appreciate when we visit them tomorrow, Easter Sunday.

I hope God will be looking down on us and smiling with pride, as he witnesses us in our celebrations of my saving grace, that I have won the fight, for now, that is, at least. This evening we will light 2 candles in the church, one for Rueben and one for Mum. I hope this makes up for us not being able to attend the Sunday Service, as I am not physically or emotionally strong enough to sit or stand for long periods in the draughty church with the hard seats, and withstand the sea of eyes at St Saviours.

I promise you God, that I will visit your house soon, just as soon as I am able to, and continue the charity work called Rueben’s Appeal. Ronnie will also help me, and has promised to continue his support for Ovarian Cancer too. Incidentally, it was his idea to sponsor our concert towards Rueben’s charity. Such maturity in a boy of twelve is very rare, and I can honestly declare that in all those long, long years he has been my most solid rock of stability.
Looking in the cheval antique mirror, bequeathed from my late Uncle Tom and Auntie May, I thought I saw him again. Uncle Tom sported the warmest smile, which reflected the welcome relief, as I nostalgically conjured up this mental image. My guardian angel, along with Ronnie, my children, Zack, Zoe and Angel had been the main driving force to spur me on through this challenge from living hell, and I thought of them too.
Zack and his wife Jenna with my six year old twin grandchildren, Thomasina and Libby, as well as Zoe and her expanding bump along with her partner Kai were due to arrive two hours later for a last minute celebration picnic lunch at Blue Ridge Brook. Angel, the last fledgling to have flow the nest for a gap year in Tanzania, has been home with us for the last three months, cutting her working holiday short, by staying with us and being at close hand all the while. She has been a godsend, not that my other two offspring have not been lacking in support in between school runs, work, and antenatal classes. With only one month to go before her due date Zoe has decided on the name of her unborn child already. Rueben, if he is a boy and Ruby if she is a girl.

“Still comely”, I quietly appraise myself, as I gaze at my sparingly lined face, after Tom had returned back into his other, pain free world. My mind then returns back with fondness, to the day the choir joined together, April 12th 1973, over forty years ago. After being rightfully awarded the Bronze South West New Zealand Choir medal, we burnt our bridges, or at least I did with regards to Posy.
In fact the very next day, after our debut performance, which had been televised on the local TV Station, and which resulted in the Blue Ridge Observer Press captivating our school grounds and our group, Posy apologised profusely. Although somewhat instigated by Uncle Tom and Auntie May, the white flag was honoured by me with newly found maturity, and we actually hugged each other, and she shed some heartfelt tears of remorse.

Not long after this, it transpired that Tom and May were soon to become my real Auntie and Uncle. Thomas Hughes-Barton, both the Head Principal of our school, and my Mother’s half-brother, had finally decided to tie the knot. Therefore they would soon, no longer be living in sin, and Posy, May’s natural daughter, would officially be adopted by her step-father. Consequently, our friendship flourished, as she became a very companionable but highly spirited cousin. She now lives two streets away from the cul-de-sac bungalow which Ronnie and I dwell in.
After never marrying or having children, Posy inherited the grand multi bedroomed house where my Uncle and Aunt resided in, before they passed away over ten years ago. Posy, my sole cousin, as well as best and lifelong friend, is also joining in with our celebrations, along with her long term and twice divorced partner, Miles.

Displayed proudly in the glass cabinet, with our school photo mounted next to it, I swivel my head back to my precious and iron-willed husband. Snuggled in between this memento and 1970s photograph, are the heart shaped collages of pictures which are framed with pride for me to admire all our children and two grandchildren. If you look to the right of the display cabinet, you can also see the miniature of Posy, next to the blue ornamental vase, and all our family degree certificates laminated underneath. Ronnie’s PHD for Music, which resulted in him aspiring into Elmbrook University’s leading lecturer of Music, and chiefly the piano for many years; my First and Masters for English Lit and Drama, which successfully assisted me on my way to become a script writer for several significant plays, and Posy’ paediatric counselling certificate is graced next to the green and whiteToby Jug.
I will now stop there with this description , as my legs begin to buckle underneath me, as Ronnie rescues me from my wobbling spell, supporting me gently from behind, as he steadily steers me towards the settee.
He is now seated next to me on the red leather sofa in the sunny living room. He takes my shaking hand in his with his strong but gentle spatula like grip. His breath is warm and his butterfly touch healing as he speaks, ever so softly next to my silk scarfed head.
“Judith Walters, (nee Hillcroft), we complete the magical jangle in the choir”.

The copyright of this post belongs to Deborah Stokes 1 May 2015

Saturday, 2 May 2015


The wardrobe door was jammed. Gripping the handle more firmly and bracing the soles of her slippered toes against the wooden base, she tugged. The heady scent of cedar wafted out, tailing a tattered cobweb, lifting it into the air in a circle, then dissipating—to leave it parachuting crookedly to the floor.
Unconsciously, she wiped her face, as if to remove the invisible residue, and she peered inside. Woodlice carcasses lay along the bottom—like mica in the rain, silvery and grey. She stood motionless, momentarily dazzled, but then shuddered. Was it narcissism that caused this sudden surge of disdain for these brittle, faceless insects?-- scurrying about in dark places; burrowing into dead wood with an industry that could feed an empire. They would just as readily nibble at the rotting limbs of a dying tree as they would her aunt’s coffin, freshly interred, ignorant of any associations. Born of death and sustained by it. Inhabitants of an autumn world of fading life; dim-sighted oracles whose very presence announce the approach of a life’s winter. A prophetic industry, leaving but a trail of fine sawdust in their wake—caked along the joints of the wardrobe walls.

The copyright of this post belongs to Monica Jenkins

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Price You Pay

I complete mindless puzzles to distract me from the dead hours of your absence.I just want you to come home. You did warn me you'd be away a lot. "If you think it's worth getting involved with me at all, that is." You added, with that little boyish half-smile of yours, and an I-dare-you glint in your eye.
I dared. You were already my opiate, my straight-in-the-veins, high-as-a-kite, mainlined habit. I am a junkie, doing sudoku, and screaming in withdrawal.
I'm sweating and moaning for my next fix. A text would do. Anything.But my phone stays silent and unused adrenaline eats away at my gut.
This is the price you pay for passion.
I can imagine my mum and all my most sensible friends shaking their heads at my most foolish choice of a globe-trotting aid worker. I can also imagine, only too well, the kind of man they would consider suitable for a woman like me, with a divorce and an (unmentionable) breakdown already behind me. And, of course, the little incident with the sleeping pills. They would set me up with some reliable divorcee, home by six every night, DIY and garden centres at the weekend. He would be content to sit around watching 'Top Gear', and picking his nose, before dozing off in his favourite chair by nine-thirty.
There's a reason you're gone half the time, my love.You're not this man and never could be. I love that you're always chasing manna from heaven to satisfy the needs that don't appear on the radar of most people's lifetime. I love that you live at the very top of the hierarchy triangle, seeking what can't be found in meeting mortgage payments, three square meals a day and a bit of sex on a Saturday morning.What most men of your age accept as their lives and are wearily grateful for it.
I've made my choice and I don't regret it. This is what I tell myself and anyone else who is listening. Day by day I keep it all tightly packed in, busy rationalising. I smile, I laugh, I function, knowing you're coming home.
But on nights like this I haemorrhage loneliness, my life blood a bright stain of protest on the carpet. And I stare at my silent phone like it's a grenade with a loose pin, to be put far away from me. Its silence is an ominous live ticking of threat. I snatch it up and run upstairs with it, sliding it into my undies drawer, where I can't hear its silence any more.
I was a mess when I first met you. My ex-husband had done a number on me, taking me apart over the five year period of our marriage so comprehensively there was barely anything left to identify as me. Dental records were required.
But you recognised the Self I thought had been lost. You put me back together, spent hours (and hours and hours) listening to me rehashing the past, 'processing' as the therapists like to call it. Long after all my other friends had told me it was time to be drawing the line and moving on. You held me as I sobbed, overwhelmed by the nightmare of my husband; a walking obscenity, a shadow of death pacing through my dreams. You mopped up the mess of my grief.
When I could give nothing back to you, you gave me everything. With your hours of devotion you opened me up to you, unlocking the barricaded doors of all the secret rooms of my life. Rooms of damage, rooms of treasure, you found them all.
You expanded my world, giving me eyes to see things I hadn't imagined. You patiently taught me about dark matter and quantum theory, about the nature of time and the possibility of other worlds, other realities and universes. You spoke about supernovas and black holes and what had to happen to determine which would be created from the ruin of a star. 'It's called the Chandrasekhar Limit.' you said. 'Named after the Russian chap who discovered it.' You talked about your recent visit to Cern, and I thought to impress you by vaguely knowing what the Hadron Collider was for. But the Higgs Boson was old news.
'They're looking for something else now.' You told me with one of your gleeful half smiles. 'It's called supersymmetry, the theory that every particle has a partner.'
'Ahh' I interrupted.
'A slightly heavier mirror image, if you like. If they can prove or disprove the existence of supersymmetry, then they may have a better idea of what constitutes dark matter. Which is a big deal, considering that dark matter makes up at least sixty percent of the universe.'
'It makes up about a hundred percent of my brain.'
You rolled your eyes, squeezing my hand. 'Don't put yourself down.'
the language of science fell from your lips and entered my heart like the most exquisite poetry (poetry that I didn't really understand, of course.)
You whispered to me your vision for my future, for the strong independent woman I was going to be, reaching out from my wounds to others whose wounds were still raw. You told me I was beautiful.
'You're a very special person.' You said. You slid your big warm hands up inside my blouse, along the length of my spine, and added in your best Devonshire accent: 'As well as being a propor comely lass my lover.'
You promised me intimacy beyond anything I'd known or hoped for. You tantalised me with a glimpse of your longing to be fully known, even while there remained something essentially unknowable about you. I told you one, teasing, that you reminded me of the main character in C S Lewis 'Perelandra'
'Sweetie, your eyes are impregnated with distance.' My teasing hid my frustration that they weren't more often focused solely on me.
I sigh and console myself with the thought that there might well be no-one who knows you better than me. My lips have worshipped every inch of your surrendered body; your flesh, my own, and in return I have unfurled in the fullness of your love, turned to face the bright darkness of your need, like a flower to the sun. I drink you in, take you down to the earth of me.
Restless, the sudoku numbers swimming before my tired, adrenaline-bright eyes, I look out of the window. Longing etches your shape into the descending mist. It's a grim pea-souper of a night, treacherous to drive in. You're not coming home tonight.
I think I can still hear my phone being silent on me, so I gingerly climb the stairs and root around in my undies drawer to switch the tiny object of terror off completely. I know you hate it when I do this, when you try to callme and all you get is my voicemail; but I have to protect myself from those times when you don't call. Times like tonight.
The phone rings from within my underwear, its tinny, glockenspiel melody making me jump. I fish it out, smiling with relief as your name comes up.
'Hello sweetheart.' Your voice sounds distant. 'How's it going?'
I try for lighthearted. 'I'm currently being defeated by a ten minute sudoku. So far it's taken me an hour and a half.'
A pause. Then you laugh 'Look, sweetheart, I know I said I might make it back tonight, but...'
'I know. You can't. I already figured that out.'
'Well, the thing is... I'm not going to make it back tomorrow either....Sorry, sweetheart.'
My heart turns to water and seems to drain out of me.
'Well, when, then? The next day?'
Another pause. the line starts to crackle and I just catch '...the end of the week...' before I lose you completely.
'I love you,' I say to the empty line.
I should try and sleep. But the bed is cold, the memory of your body heat lost from the heartless sheets.
I remember our first night together. Stirring from shallow sleep to find you still there, your warm body in the darkness curved into mine. And I woke up to your kisses.
'Morning, lover,' You said, 'Looking gorgeous.'
I snuggled closer to you, whispering into your neck 'Yeah in a blearyeyed smellymorningbreath kind of way.'
You laughed. 'We can't all be perfect.'
I flicked your earlobe, 'Not even you my sweet. You know how I adore you, how I was born to kiss your feet and worship the ground you walk on, but you snore worse than anyone I've ever heard. Like a sodding pneumatic drill.'
You laughed and shut me up by kissing me.
I want you, now. I want you here with me. I'm tired of paying this price.
Like someone drowning, slowly lifting each loneliness-logged limb, I go back downstairs.
It's the not knowing that gets to me. I can't settle, can't plan, can't allow myself to fully look forward to anything or get on with my life, as I can when I know you're not going to be around.I mustn't let myself have expectations. You live your life every day for the needs of others and I can't be yet another needy person in your life. But sometimes I want to be. I want to shout and scream, stamp my foot, refuse to let you go. To face you with  the question: 'What about me?' I want to confess that at times like this I don't care about the starving masses on some faraway continent or the victims of natural disasters. They don't need you more than I do.
And I think: Why can't I love an ordinary man? Even the nosepicking, 'Top Gear' watching type would be preferable to these nights of wall-climbing withdrawal.
Perhaps I should let my mum set me up with one of her safe choices.
Except that I don't want anyone else. I just want you.
I stop on the bottom stair, leaning against the bannister, trying to summon up the energy to go back into the empty, darkened living room and face the smug sudoku. Gazing wearily around, my eyes settle on the painting hanging in the hall, a present from my much-missed Granny. A sunset, an eagle, vivid colours; wouldn't have been my first choice. But underneath are the words 'They that tarry upon the LORD...shall rise up on wings as eagles.' Isaiah chapter 40 verse 31
And that's what you're doing my love.You are that eagle and you must be where you belong. I refuse to be the one who clips your wings, grounds your flight.
So I will carry on paying the price, knowing that you will come home to me.
I smile. It's ok that I miss you. It's ok that they joy of having you in my life comes with a  price. And it's even ok that I complete mindless puzzles to distract me from the dead hours of your absence.

The copyright of this post belongs to Alisha Bailie 29.4.15

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A Game of Cards

Seven tropical fruits glisten in their massacred translucent spill of juice and dark ambition.
The King of Diamonds stamps his foot " I said I wanted bananas."
The Ace of Diamonds descends to hell, an awkward cousin sitting at the top table on a subterranean plot and whistles into the quiescent air following the King's outburst.
The Jack of Hearts dribbles into his mead, a dew drop hanging from the end of his nose,
living dangerously before the opium ball waiting for the Queen.

the copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

The Knave of Spades

The Knave of Spades digs with desperation to secure his foothold in the kingdom. He digs in the seaweed damp of the night, the blood dripping from his hand. He is aware of the metallic cordite smell freckled to his skin and fights to ignore it along with the insistent throbbing stump of his newly missing finger, a small price to pay for duelling with that gangster, the Knave of Diamonds. Hearing of the duel, The house of Diamonds would be on his tail as light broke but he would be away with the treasure by then and they could do nothing.
Water drips from the walls of the cave as the wind stirs butterfly cobwebs, full of translucent dewdrops. The sand grits between his toes as they sink with the effort of his toil. The sweat is dripping from him and the cave once filled with moonlight becomes darker as she follows her path across the sky pulling the tide up the beach. Desperation beats loud at his heart and thrums in his ears at odds with the quiescence of the coming dawn. He urges himself on with every stroke of his spade. the shove and heave is a jolting pendulum in reverse.
He must reach the box hidden deep beneath the stalactite's point before the tide imprisons him or he will be left to sell his soul to the devil. There is no other way to escape with your life once the sea reclaims her cave.
The spade strikes the tin box, the clang of a gong a skylark ascending into the gloom and silence of the cave. He is released from poverty and servitude in an instant. There is enough power in this box full of diamonds to secure him an army. His destiny calls to him as the rush of water approaches the mouth of the cave. He will take back the throne of his father and throw the Diamonds to the dogs. There is sudden clarity to his thoughts: His fortune will change forever, the Knave of Spades will be King.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Beyond Words

The perfumed garden
Smudged glasses perched on nose
Paisley-pink passion
With warmth and understanding
A well-thumbed book that falls open
On a pertinent page
     Virginia Woolf

In search of the truth
The truth cannot be found in broken images
The cracked reflection
Lonely in a crowd
The silver breast-plate
Invisible but present
     Virginia Woolf

Waking up from the dream
The poor boy drowns in her arms
Strangled in seaweed
The cracked reflection
Weary, heartfelt and true

Toes curled
In the dark wet
Deafening silence
     Virginia Woolf

The copyright of this blog belongs to Claudia Anne, Terry and Teresa 

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Star and the Satellite

The star awoke one night ready to glint in the heavens, secure in his place in the firmament.
"Look at me, here I am, nights light with my burning core. I am confident. I am suave. Watch me as I wink at you brazenly through night's curtain, watching you when you think you are alone. I see your private moments and know you want me. I am the beauty that you wish upon."
But on this night as he gazed about his celestial brothers and sisters he found a new prick in the firmament. A man-made shimmering object that did not blink but stared with the open eye of a God. It seemed dazed, surprised at its own existence, not knowing of its own birth or creation as stars do. Its capsule form adorned with grated wings absorbing energy from the sun in osmotic ignorance.
How could the star envy such a creature as this. His life was not threatened. This object had no power of its own, it was a parasite of the sun. It had no burning heart, no brilliance, no life force, no pride in its time and place in the galaxies. It was an overrated ogre hanging in space, its life abbreviated by man's changing desires and the limits of his hardware. This satelite was no celestial being.
And yet, he had appeared unbidden and portentous in the sky, an extra unblinking button on Orion's Belt. Children would stare up enchanted and unknowing at the firmament wishing on this most constant of stars.
"Daddy, what's that one? It is so bright."
"That is a satelite, see how its light is constant."
Constancy, dependability: prized above all else by children craving stability in the tumultuous lives they lead. They do not know it is wrong to wish on space hardware thus the star is put firmly in his place.
The star bows in the orange light of morning to the satelite still shining. He knows he can have no satisfaction in dialling with one such as this and turns away chivalrously
"I will burn forever in the firmament but for now you have the stage."

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan


Complete in itself yet fractured, splintering light, reflecting this realm of nothingness, of dream work.
Your destruction reveals the archaeology of your heart – fury veined like a green and lilac bubble, serenity drawing the line and moving on.
Quantum clouds of chromophores drift quietly through the planes and interstitials of your imperfect jagged form. Dragged from the earth – yet you behave in accordance, do no harm.
Your flawed clarity keeps its secrets, reveals nothing; says ‘Just make a wish!’

The copyright of this post belongs to Clare Elstow

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Light

In space, stars collide, expand, implode. I am the light, I am truth, I am knowledge. I am held, a kernel at the centre of all things, at the molten heart of the earth. My journey begins.
I worm my way from core to mantle and come to rest on scorching sands beneath innumerable moons where I watch the march of stars, the paths of heaven, understanding love, truth, beauty: the eternal trilogy.
It was here, in the dunes, that I was found by the Jin of the dessert who was filled with wonder and fear at what he saw in me. In his limited wisdom he saw fit to hide me from the world in a gold filigree box, afraid of man turning my power to his own purpose. If his mind had not been clouded with sandstorms and desert desires I could have shown him that mankind already held me at his heart, as all matter did. Man had always been free to chose his own path. But like mankind, the Jin's mind's eye was stubbornly closed and double lidded like the camel that bore him, so he used his magic to bury me in a cavernous cathedral beneath the sands where no mischief could find me.
I glowed quietly beneath the sand, biding my time imparting my truths to the pillars of earth. I leaked in to the soil, feeding the plants that grew from their richness and in turn to the animals that fed on them. The creatures of the earth understood by this that their was a balance to all things, a reason and a purpose for everything.
But then came the rise of men. Some men understood the balance, the laws of nature. Their hearts were open. They knew that from the lowliest insect to the leviathans of the sea all were equal, born of Matter and returned to Matter. They respected the path and did not seek to own or rule with a power imagined for themselves. But the others, the majority of men, sought power, land and sovereignty to inflate their vanity, believing themselves more important than the other creatures of the earth. They waged war on each other to prove their superiority, heedless of the damage. They enslaved first animals to their will and then other men. But what ever they gained they were never satisfied. Blinded by greed, not realising they were straying further from the true path they blundered on causing unimaginable destruction.
The Jin saw. He could not hide in the shade beneath his date palm oblivious to the progression any longer. He put his head in the sand and called for me.
"Truth! Knowledge! Come Forth and turn the tide of men from their own destruction." Such was the Jin's magic I could not reveal myself to him, so I whispered to him through the wind.
"Find a man of power to bring together the elements. Do this and the way back to me will be made clear. Bring with him another, a man of pure heart, for only he will hold the key to my
release." The Jin did as I asked and whispered honeyed words in the ear of the Kings Vizier and sewed a seed of desire at his breast that swelled with every greedy breath. Unknown riches would be his if only he sought the cave that held the Heart of all Matter. Imagining chests of gold and the power to manipulate all men to his own desires he wasted no time in bringing together the elements. Finding a man of pure heart was more of a challenge to him as his mind had been poisoned by greed and manipulation for so long that he could not see that a diamond was still a diamond even in the rough, but after many days, and some help from the Jin it was accomplished.
Today they came to me. And the Jin whispered again to the Vizier, "Seek only the lamp and you shall prove that you are worthy of the treasure it holds." It was a trick of course, to give the Vizier one last chance to see if he was worthy. But he was not.
The elements were roused; water washed along the dry river bed for the sun to bake a dry path then the winds blew the dunes apart revealing a hidden door to enter the cave. The door was of heavy stone and carved with many cuneiform symbols. The Vizier tried many words of power and a great deal of brute strength to unlock it as the Jin looked on smiling to himself. Then the boy, curious about the symbols, laid his hand on the door and it unlocked and swung open at his touch. At this the Vizier remembered the Jin's words and saw that the prophecy must be true. Hungry and lustful for the riches that were to come his way the Vizier instructed the boy to fetch the lamp. The boy was simple and willing with no device or cunning and did as he was asked. He brought the lamp to the Vizier who snatched it from him throwing the boy back in to the cave as it's door disappeared into the shifting dunes. As the Vizier watched the door disappear the lamp turned to ash in his hand and he yelled in anger and stamped his feet upon the earth. I kept my word though, he received the unknown riches he so deserved: I unlocked the door to his deepest mind and relit the spark there. Humility, love, a thirst for knowledge, generosity, kindness and thoughtful curiosity, gifts that had been previously lost to him were all open to him once more.
And what of the boy? My voice led him to the filigree box that I had called home all these years. I shone brightly from within it making a display of dissonant stars on the walls and roof of the cave.
He picked up the box with tender curiosity and caressed the years of dust from the lid and as he did so the Jin appeared by his side.
"You are a rare boy with an open heart. I was afraid for mankind but I see in you a hope I could not have dreamed of. This is the light of the world, of knowledge. It can show mankind the way. I wish of you three things: take it into the world, be guided by it and let it be seen by others. Man has been lead by greed and envy for too long, he must be shown the light. Will you do this?"
"But who will listen to me," said the boy, afraid, "I am no-one."
"You are everything. If you carry the light, you carry the hope of salvation with you. You are Salah al Din, righteousness of faith. Let the light shine from within you, and all who have good sense and seek truth will know this is the way. Will you be the vessel?"
"I will try" said the boy.
So the Jin released me from the cave of wonders to take root in the boy's heart, shine from his eyes and pour golden truths from his lips that all men could find the path of light, of truth and knowledge. I reside still in the hearts of men to show them the true path if only they will take heed. The boy, Salah al Din, returned to dust in time but his story lives on in the legend of Aladdin.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan