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