Friday, 27 November 2009

#Fridayflash - A Dangerous Race

He stared around the ruined space, knowing he would have trouble explaining what had happened. It wouldn’t do him any good to lie about it. They would surely see the truth now, and the truth would, of course, have to start with her… He shook his head in desperation, trying to clear the ringing in his ears and the black clouds that filled his consciousness. How did one go about putting this truth into words?

He dragged his fingers, still bloody from the broken glass, through the thick ash that covered the floor. His black cuff trailed in the powdery substance that used to be wood. He had come here to pray to their God; to see if He was truly listening to all living things. He had spoken to the emaciated form hanging on the cross above their altar, but had received no comfort, no answers… He hadn’t meant to get so angry at the silence, but sometimes it was just too hard to keep control...

    *                        *                        *

She rolled over in bed and stretched out her hand into the cold space beside her. Where was he? She knew she wouldn’t sleep until he got here…especially not with them lurking out there. The news reports were now saying they'd been planning this for years; long before last Tuesday’s influx…that they'd probably been here since at least the 1970s…observing, learning…plotting. The BBC had even reported deliberate spies being sent amongst them, to settle with decent people, to marry and breed and carve out lives for themselves in preparation for the mass immigration that was now taking place.

Her blood boiled when she thought about that…how her people had been watched by them. No doubt they were watching for weaknesses and vulnerabilities, so they could take over her land and run things their way! Well, there was no way she was going to succumb to it! She didn’t care how many of them there were! So what if they became the majority population?! Everyone knew they were a dangerous race…that they did evil things when angered…she could not, would not, live under a belief system, political or religious, that advocated that!

And the little half-breeds…the children of the poor families infiltrated…which way would they lean? They were probably the most dangerous of all…trusted by neither race. She shuddered, hearing the shattering of glass outside…oh God, who had upset one of them now? How many more of her kind had met a violent end to soothe the wrath of one of them? It couldn’t go on like this…the deeper their anger, the more devastating and destructive the consequences. There had already been fires, plane crashes, bombs and building collapses…and there would be a war, she could feel it. Sirens wailed in the street outside and the formation of a chattering, baying crowd could be heard. Where was he?! She definitely wouldn’t sleep until he was home.

*                            *                            *

He picked himself up off the ground, brushing the ash from his clothes and darted through a hole in the ruined wall. Perhaps he could lie after all? The fire had taken a pretty good hold after the collapse. Any evidence had surely burned, and he didn’t think anyone had seen him. Maybe it wouldn’t be necessary to explain...

The crowd had gathered quickly around the collapsed church, drawn by the noise and dust, but they had not been interested in his shadowy, fleeing form. They were too anxious, too outraged by their notion of what had taken place there.

They were digging through the rubble now; searching for a priest they were sure had been in his vestry when the building came down. They were likely right, and the thought of the possibly injured man troubled him somewhat. He considered helping them, but he barely trusted the fragile stability of his mood…he still felt agitated, volatile; helping could do more harm than good. And besides, he had to get home. She would be waiting…worrying…she could never sleep until he was there...

  *                        *                           *

She felt his warmth against her back and his arms snake around her, even before she heard him. She sighed in relief and caught his hand in hers. Drawing it to her mouth, she kissed his fingers and tasted something metallic…blood?! Brick dust clung to her lips and panic gripped her.

“I heard it…” she said, her voice wavering with worry. “What happened out there? You promised me you wouldn’t get involved.”

“I know.” He said, his voice quiet, but steady and unapologetic. “But a church came down on Parlour Street and some people thought there might be a priest inside…”

“Bastards!” She fumed. “Have they no shame? A church?! A priest, for Christ's sake?! How can they believe their gods will reward them for this?!” He sighed.

“They don’t believe that.” He told her. “Not all of them.”

“Of course they do, they’re evil.” She said, wearily. “And I’m tired of it! Why should we all have to keep them happy so they don’t try to kill us every five minutes?! There’s going to be a war anyway, so I say the sooner, the better! It’s about time someone put them in their place!”

“Attitudes like that will lead to a war, for sure.” He answered, squeezing her gently, but there was no chastisement in his tone and, she found, his rationality was more comforting than irking. “I just think we misunderstand them sometimes. They’re not all bad.” He felt her smile then.

“You see, that’s what I love about you.” She said, almost dreamily. “If you’d been closer tonight, when that church came down, you could have been hurt…or killed…but still, you want to find something redeeming in them. You want to see the good in everyone. I love that.” Her words caused a thick blanket of calm to fall over him, and he felt a sudden, fiery warmth in his chest.

“It’s not about seeing the good in everyone,” he told her. “It’s about acknowledging it in yourself. I can’t hate them, because I don’t believe most of them want to hurt us. Sure…terrible things seem to happen when they’re angry, but I think those things are mostly accidental. They’re capable of a lot of good too.”

“Such as…?” She said, sceptically.

“Well,” he whispered, teasingly. “Have you ever seen one of them in love?” She shook her head. “I wish you could…” he smiled and kissed her shoulder. “They glow…it’s amazing.”

She sighed, unconvinced, but he felt her relax into him as she settled down to sleep, and he drew her back, more tightly, against himself. Even as the bony spines protruding from his vertebrae; the remnants of his anger in the church; were still fading to rounded bumps, he was glad of her body pressed so closely against his. It dulled the light that glittered, brightly, in his chest. No matter how often he prayed, or to which gods, he knew, he would never be rid of it. Like having curly hair, it was something he’d inherited. His father had been known to glow upon sight of his mother too…

Friday, 20 November 2009

A Story in Poetry

A tale, from middle to middle, in verse. The beginnings of these tales often cannot be remembered...and their ends often cannot be seen...

The Hunted

There is safety in being the hunted,
Long hidden behind tall grass,
In knowing and expecting
to translate as
He stalks me silently,
My hunter,
From the safest place I know,
Creeping from dark corners
of our neat, suburban home.
His eyes track me
in the kitchen
and though he's wearing
different clothes;
clearly a wolf now
less the lamb I used to
know him by
his softness and his gentle, contented bleat
Now where once were cloven hooves
claws exude his feet.
And he licks his lips and follows me
My hunter, to the stairs,
Snapping at my retreating back
Holding tight, allowing slack,
He bats me back and forth,
The mouse,
The cat.
The play resumes
and culminates
in the upstairs rooms,
a final blow,
the fall,
the pounce,
the crushing pressure of every
stone, pound, ounce,
He holds me,
my captor,
and I don't struggle,
let it be.
I don't bide my time and wait
For sleeping vulnerability,
To burst forth and exploit
My opportunity,
For being so long in chains I've grown
Accustomed, admittedly,
and as much as change is welcome,
my freedom frightens me.
I lie still and breathe
until I'm sure he will not see
and sliding silently to the back door,
where I may taste the air,
I mind my leash
Lest I should yank it on the stairs.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Beautiful Dawn

There is beauty in souls subdued
in lights turned out
and the rythym of life reduced
to something so basic and true as
the sound of heartbeats
and gentle breath
and weightless minds troubled by less than life's
ordinary woes.

There is clarity in all the holes
in all our veils exposed
when the curtains are drawn
in the time between rest and morning
when our eyes see all, but still,
are closed.

We roll
and in the half-light
all at once we have better sight
through heavy lashes and blankets of sleep
than ever we might
hope to achieve
by day.

For from under our rumpled,
tangled hair,
from beneath our dream-drenched sheets,
we allow ourselves the most sacred of peeks,
a revered chance,
to peel back the covers and
catch sight of one another
in the only moment we know to be real;
to gaze upon rare beauty

First Love

My first love
will always be the thrill of it
the hunt, the chase, the kill,
the remit,
the growling and grabbing and purring
at one another
until the inevitable.

My first love
will always be
the feel of my teeth in flesh
and the blessed satisfaction
of the bloodless demise
of my
For whom I forsake my pride.

The protection of my
is less than nothing
in wild comparison
to the raw and savage passion,
that drives me across the plains
to tempt you to a watering hole
and there to hold
you down
and cut your mane.

The Grandfather Clock

I hold out my hand in the hall
And let you take it
For old time's sake
For a time when I could think of
But your skin
And mine
Our painted faces, gilt edging, our cases,
The silk of them.
But polished wood is paper now
Thin and dry - old glory...
And it makes my soul chime anew,
In anguish,
Beating a familiar story,
To-ing and fro-ing where our flesh meets,
Striking long and low
And I know
I am certain,
I'm sure,
I can find new depths of Westminster melancholy
In the lamp-light and the evenly ticking knowledge
That I don't want you anymore.
And I leave you, wound and chiming,
As I close the bevelled glass door.


I have no more been near it
For so much time than I have
drawn closer to it in hunger
And headed this way and that
In search of it much longer
And tried to lose myself, I admit,
In forests and amongst desolate dunes,
To be sure of learning every which way to forget
And forgetting every way to remember
How burned and acrid smoking embers
Have been known to reignite
To smoulder only when and if the conditions
shall be perfect, and yet
To smoulder nonetheless.
In truth, yes, I have wondered
Every which way,
How not to look back and question:
If we stoked our embers, darling,
Did we stoke them to the last
Glowing glimmer
Of charred and empty hope?
Did we break them into dust?
Or did we leave our beach-fire burning
Slightly, at the onset of our dusk?

At First Sight

From the moment morning's gentle haze
Pushes its way into the darkened depths
of me
I have no other conscious reckoning.
From the moment I turn my clouded head
And force open my cotton-hazed eyes,
I am damned if I may see,
But that which lies before me.
and yet I know when night gives way
to day.
For then, dreams
are reality; joy and frivolity,
abound in my dancing heart,
beyond the calm of tender, nightly hours
that steal away my sleep
and spirit me up, in spirals,
through the twilight,
and the softest sunbeams,
into the rabbit-snare
of your dawn.

Entirely in dialogue...

Born of another exercise for the Leeds Writers' Group. The brief stated  I could use only dialogue to convey my intended message...

"The Heart"

“It fell from the sky,
with that terrible thump we heard last night,
and it’s been lying,
in the gutter,
ever since.”

“Have you been near it?”

“Close, but not near…”

“Can you hear it?
I think it’s still breathing.”

“Still breathing,
and surely
still beating…
Should we do something for it?”

“Should we just ignore it,
and keep walking?”

“I can’t think that would be right.
It’s been there,
and struggling,
since last night.”

“Perhaps we should help it?”

“Help it how? What can we do now?
The damage has already been done.”

“It’s breath is gone now,
anyhow. It stopped,
a second since,
it’s no longer

“We were only losing it
for a moment. There wasn’t
much to be done.”

“Perhaps it will shrivel now,
in the sun.
Perhaps it’s dead.”

“Not dead, for sure, but cold,
a dormant example of a tale of old
a lonely victim of a pain well known.”

“And at what appalling cost, was this one lost?
Will there be more?”

“For sure. More will fall from the sky in the night.
But they are not lost forever.
Some day they will get up from the gutter,
beat harder,
and go on.”

The Question

I wrote this some time ago after finding my watercolour pencils lying temptingly in my desk drawer and realising, that I still have the desire to use them...I just can't seem to find the time!

A Question of Time

Stare up at me
smooth incubi of persuasion
lying prostrate on the kitchen table
drenched in water now
liquid frustration
let me damage those sleek white sheets.

Sit down and feel
sharp marks and lines,
defined curves and angles,
softened by the tender fingers
of a vandal, such as I
who wants only to mould this world
to her match her lies,
her visions
of beauty
that sabotage your mission of truth.

Look at you…
I’m starving, famished.
I’ve been that way for years…
I lick my lips as I promise myself a taste,
bitter and thick like potter’s glaze,
of red and orange and deepest blue
in my mouth
on my hands
remnants of you that I savour as I
French-kiss the air and yield
to temptation
of you
reclining there.

Coloured soldiers of fancy,
upright, then dancing,
in heavy circles
light on your points as you meet the oracle that is muse.
Shamelessly, you have been used,
as mere willing tools in a moment of lust
that cannot endure or last forsooth
for there’s no room in my days for obsession
with you.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Unbelievable! More prose...must be the #fridayflash effect!

This idea developed from a sentence given to me in a warm-up exercise for the Leeds Writers' Group. The sentence said: 'When it went from yellow to black, she knew it had been left too long.' Here's my take on what that meant.


Her eyes squeezed tightly shut, she pressed her nose against the tank and let her hot breath exhale, misting the glass. The breath was ragged with tears and caught on the painful lump in her throat. It broke her heart to even think it this time, but she couldn’t ignore the situation any longer. It had definitely begun.

She’d first noticed the changes on Monday last week, but had chosen not to believe them. She’d already had him four years…and that was much longer than it usually took for the change to occur. She’d thought perhaps he was sterile; that he wouldn’t change at all. Of course, that would also have meant losing him, but in a way she deemed far more acceptable than his now unavoidable fate.

The sterile ones, once their condition was realised by their possessors, became the exclusive property of the government. Known as ‘The Infertiles’ and unable to breed, their pure and innocent truth-telling would forever perpetuate, becoming more proficient with time. Advice disseminated by mature Infertiles was fit only for interpretation by qualified peers, and as such, the creatures took pride of place, under lock and key in an ancient, gilded tank in the House of Lords.

Each week, the peers gathered for the Forum, and the Guardian was summoned to unlock the tank. Before the entire nation, on live television and radio, the Infertiles’ opinions were asked on current and pressing political issues. Their subsequent predictions were considered and acted upon accordingly. The creatures’ foresight determined the passing of laws, the deployment of troops, direction of wars, and economic and domestic policies on everything from pensions to education. It was a criminal offence to fail to carry out one’s patriotic duty by letting the discovery of an Infertile go unreported. Had she been sure she possessed one, she would certainly have turned him over.

But Armundo wasn’t an Infertile. She forced herself to open her wet eyes and stared through the glass at him. He waved a bright yellow tentacle slowly in her direction, as though he were stroking the tears from her cheeks, and another sob caught in her chest, burning there until she found the strength to control it. The end of the tentacle had blackened only this morning. Armundo cocked his elongated head to one side, confused at her constant staring, and blinked his three, ocean-blue eyes at her in unison. He’d already given his advice for today, and this was his signal to assure her there would be no more until tomorrow. So far, she considered, he was behaving perfectly normally, but he must surely know what was happening.

Of course, there had been others before Armundo. Six in total. The creatures received thoughts as well as transmitted them, and his predecessors had used her dreams to guide her through school and university. They’d given her advise on which courses to take in order to build the foundations of a successful future, which job applications to fill in and employment to accept. It had worked too. Before they changed she’d had a good few months of constructive advice from each of them. Almost a year from one. They’d given her a better salary, bought her a bigger house, better cars; but when they went from yellow to black, you were supposed to pay attention.

Mind reading and constructive advice quickly became mind control when the creatures blackened. In reaching reproductive maturity, they lost their innocence, and began to take pleasure in inflicting pain and destruction; disseminating advice that seemed still to make perfect sense to its recipient, but was in fact, pure evil.

She looked at Armundo and the black spots that were slowly appearing on his back and belly. Eventually, the spots would merge, and his yellow skin would be consumed entirely. She glanced at the box she’d collected from the exterminator yesterday afternoon. All she had to do was gently lift Armundo out of the tank, as she’d done thousands of times to change his sawdust, place him in the box, and painlessly close the lid. It would be over in an instant.

She sighed, her breath still shaky and a weight on her chest. She’d done it six times before, but it had never been this hard. Granted, she’d had Armundo much longer than the others – long enough to name him – but it wasn’t only the time they’d spent together that made her hesitate. Armundo’s advice to her had been the most precious counsel she’d ever received.

The exterminator’s box sat on the bedside table - at her side of the bed. Armundo’s gift to her was still sleeping - at his side of the bed - and he was everything she’d asked for. That was what made Armundo so different. He had never given her money or success. Armundo listened to her dreams more carefully than that. He had brought her love, and was the only one of her creatures who had made her truly happy.

She wiped the tears from her cheeks and stood back from the tank. Armundo chirruped his approval at the cease in her staring. He’d already spoken this morning and wanted his reward. She lifted the lid of the tank and dropped in a shiny blue beetle the size of a beer bottle top. It wriggled on its back for a moment before Armundo tore off its head with his right claw and stuffed it gratefully into his beak. She smiled, ruefully affectionate. So far, he was behaving perfectly normally.

She looked again at the box on the bedside table, and at the occupied bed. Another day couldn’t hurt. She owed it to Armundo to follow his last piece of advice. It was good advice, as usual, and made perfect sense in the circumstances. They had been struggling financially after the wedding. She smiled sadly…Armundo would have made a good Infertile. What better way to bolster your bank account than by collecting your inheritance early?

She took a last look at her sleeping husband before she stuffed the little silver revolver into her backpack. She glanced at Armundo’s tank as she slipped round the bedroom door.

“Thanks, Armundo.” She smiled and he waved a tentacle as he crunched his breakfast. Another day wouldn’t hurt…

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Wharram Percy (DMV) & St. Martin's Parish Church

There follows a poem, written in honour of one of my favourite archaeological sites, the deserted medieval village of Wharram Percy, in North Yorkshire...but first, a little history lesson...

The settlement of Wharram Percy (mentioned in the Domesday Survey and taking its name from its manorial lords, the noble Percy family) reached the peak of its occupation in the early 14th-century. Due to the economic impact of the Black Death of 1349, later that century the village began slowly shrinking as newly-free peasant families migrated in search of higher wages.

A lack of labour after high death rates meant power had shifted to the workers and a competitive wage market forced land owners to find ways of making profits with fewer employees. Sheep rearing required less manpower and thus, quickly replaced vast swaithes of previously arable farming in the Yorkshire Dales. Starting a vicious cycle, the sheep made employment scare. This meant workers continued to migrate, even after the population recovered from the Black Death's impact...and the sheep required grazing, resulting in vacant houses being swept away.

A victim of this economic change of circumstance, Wharram Percy was finally reduced to a single farmstead in the late 16th-century. All that remains of the village today are a series of earthworks, that single farmstead's 19th-century replacement (a substantial farmhouse last occupied in the 1950s) ...and the medieval parish church of St Martin...lonely, crumbling and roofless.

St. Martin's is the only building standing at Wharram Percy today that not only saw the rise and fall of the village, but recorded the population's increase and decline in its very fabric. In the outer walls of the church can be seen remnants of early 14th-century arcades, marks left by pillared aisles that were taken down as the space required to house the congregation reduced over time. Beneath the soil are the foundations of previous 10th and 11th century buildings, demolished and replaced as the village expanded into its prime.

It is quite fitting, since it tells the story of the village so well, that St. Martin's should be the only prominent reminder of the community that once resided at Wharram Percy. Up to 1870, the last of 700 members of the parish were still being buried within and without its walls.

A final service was held at the church in 1949. Since then the building has made bold statements most infrequently, its grandest protest being the collapse of it's 14th-century tower in 1959. Weather and nature are slowly muting St. Martin's tale of riches to rags...and a sad tale it is too. But though it's voice may quiet somewhat, I don't expect the church will let fifty years of neglect silence whispers that have already survived a thousand.  

This poem is also in honour of my heroes, Prof. Maurice Beresford, Economic Historian of the University of Leeds, and John Hurst, Medieval Archaeologist and English Heritage Inspector of Ancient Monuments. They spent over 40 years (1953-90), combining the expertise of historians and archaeologists to dig and research the site of Wharram Percy village; applying an interdisciplinary approach that is the only way to truly and comprehensively understand the past.  In doing so, they assisted and inspired medievalists everywhere in their studies of the DMV phenomenon...including this one!  

Wharram Percy is approached across fields, via what was once a medieval road. St. Martin's church, now a familar old friend, slowly reveals itself as you wind over the brow of a little hill. This is what passes through my mind each time I make that journey...

Upon sight of St. Martin’s Church
(standing solitary at Wharram Percy (DMV), North Yorkshire).

How now my once majestic soul?
King of your valley? Lord of your time?
You make for a sickly sight to behold
constricted and choked
by vines of ivy and bramble fruits,
surely not a fitting suit
for a gentleman such as thee?
After all the centuries that you have seen,
they dare wind among your tracery?
Embrace your pillars and strip your lead?
Drown out your candles and send you abed with soothing lies,
hiding away their vicious assault
under a beauteous guise.

How many unions of man and wife,
were fostered in your bare stones?
How many beginnings and ends of lives,
were blessed beneath the bones of these roof trusses?
How many lie beneath the grasses
that cover your long-tiled floor?
How many entered through that door,
and fell on their knees before your altar?
Yet you struggle now, in vain, to survive,
just to stay upright.

How canst thou go to dinner tonight,
my gallant, brave old Sir,
ailing and drunken, unsteady and slurred,
and without thy pocket watch?
(Cast thine eye across its face,
for it has long since stopped.)
How couldst thou stand proudly at the table’s top,
with ragged cravat,
and what was once a four-cornered hat
now crushed and reduced
to three?
How wouldst thou explain
the stolen saints
adorning every niche?

With eyes blackened
and forcibly closed,
over-run by Guelder Rose,
my good man,
you must be glad to be alone.

From riches to rags, and tired by the weather and the years...he must be glad to be alone indeed.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Office Gossip

Most of our time
was spent in its underbelly
where we crept our way
through its pillared alleys
of darkened concrete stained with love,
and explored its dimly-lit corners of trust,
our fingers passing over
new bodies
of water
after each and every rain.
It leaked like a sieve, you see,
and there were only
rivers of land to be walked on,
like ribbons in between.

Our hands were often shaking,
hearts trembling
cores aching
for truth or soothing lies,
as we hid ourselves away
in your metal coffin
(or mine,
dependant upon the day and time),
under the strip lights with broken bulbs
and it was in their eyes;
the others, the watchers,
as they peered from the darkness
outside the dim yellow glow
yielding the power
and glory
of doctored spin
and a story they told us
was older
than time.

We filled their days
with never-ending observance -
Will they?
Won’t they?
Do they resist or don’t they?
In the copy room? No…the parking level!
My goodness, that’s despicable!
But for all their talk,
not a soul really cared
nor interested themselves
in how we bled and died
on that cold concrete floor
beneath the tower lights
and lived on
years later
in the glow of office gossip
at the annual Christmas party.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Resting Comfortably

Her first conscious thought was the pain. It was white-hot and swept through her in waves that caused her skin to prickle with endurance. The sweat didn’t break until the pain reached her toes, where it offered her a moment of relief, before returning to the back of her head and pulsing, in readiness for its next, nauseating journey.

Were it not for the pain, she considered, she actually felt rather content. Her whole body was pleasantly heavy and relaxed, like the after-effects of far too much red wine. Vaguely curious of the sensation’s origin, she half-heartedly attempted to raise her leaden right arm, but found it wouldn’t budge. The limb was definitely there, she could feel its presence, but moving it was like trying to travel upwards through a vat of golden syrup. It made the little hairs on her finger-backs bristle with a cold feeling, like the precedent of pins-and-needles. Trying again, with more conviction this time, she found that raising the arm a fraction of an inch at her side caused it to be immediately sucked back down as her strength failed her.

Clarity inching further into her consciousness, she attempted to turn her head. Ow…! The pain became really quite severe when she moved her neck. She tried instead to open her eyes, to establish her location, but found it impossible to force them beyond a fraction of a millimetre. Straining her eyelids caused a violent stab of agony and a subsequent aching behind her eyes. It was definitely more comfortable to leave them shut. In fact, the less she tried to move at all, the more comfort her condition allowed her. A wave of fatigue swept through her, but she fought the urge to sleep. No matter how tired, immobile and drunken she felt, human curiosity demanded she explored her surroundings.

She flexed her fingers beside her thigh, caressing a seemingly padded surface beneath her. It was foam of some sort, perhaps? Her fingers slid over the cold cotton that covered the…of course, a mattress! That made a lot of sense, she was obviously hurt…she must be in bed, in a hospital. Beneath her was a foam mattress covered with a sheet. Satisfaction and pride spread through her chest, warming her from the inside out. Despite her injuries, whatever they turned out to be, she was still of sound, sharp mind! A hospital explained the quiet too, and the cotton resting on the backs of her stirring fingers and tickling her chin. She was in bed, and covered by a sheet.

A hospital…? What happened? The last thing she remembered was driving. I must have had an accident. There was that other car, too close behind me. Headlights filling the mirror…

She stretched her fingers a little further now, sliding her hands across the mattress, and made contact with the bedrails. It was a long time since she’d lain in a single bed. It seemed narrow…cheap! Barely room to roll over! I’m definitely in a hospital! The surfaces beneath her fingertips were smooth and solid, cold to the touch. Full bed-guards?! I’m in the ICU?! How badly am I hurt…?

Gingerly, she moved her neck again, just a fraction. The same astounding wave of hot pain shot through her body, churning her stomach as its violent stabs overwhelmed her. She gritted her teeth and breathed it away, sucking in deep breaths of warm, stuffy air. Why are hospital wards always so damn stale?! Surely it’s healthier to open a window!

When the pain reached her feet and passed for an instant, she regained enough focus to continue methodically assessing her condition. I can feel my neck…it hurts like Hell, but I can feel it. That means it can’t be badly damaged, right? And I don’t feel a collar, so it mustn’t be serious…probably whiplash…I bet that idiot hit my bumper! …He did! I remember…ran me off the road! She tried to shrug her shoulders a little, testing her whiplash theory. Ow! It hurt enough to bring tears to her eyes, but at least her shoulders moved relatively freely. The longer she was awake, the more the heavy, drunken feeling seemed to be receding.

She wiggled her fingertips against the sheets beneath her again and found herself able to lift her hands off the bed, raising them at the wrists just long enough to graze the surface of the bed-guards with her knuckles. She thought her face might have smiled then. I can feel my arms! And they don’t hurt! …Okay,…what about my legs? She stretched her feet, extending them at the ankles until her toenails reached far enough to scratch the cold panel at the bottom of the bed. My toes! I can feel my toes! Everything’s okay…neck, arms, legs, everything works! …I must have banged my head when he made me crash, but apart from that… Oh God, how long was I asleep?! Do my family know I’m here? I need to let a nurse know I’m awake…

She tried again to open her eyes, but even with the fog in her limbs lifting, her eyelids refused to co-operate. Attempting to force them open caused yet another wave of the sickening pain that beat in her head to pass through her body, bringing bile into the back of her throat. She spun wildly inside and the nausea weakened her, dragging her ever closer to sleep. She resisted, lying perfectly still, and waited for it to pass. Okay…I need to keep my eyes shut. Maybe I can shout for a nurse instead?

“Hello…” What was intended as a word, escaped only as a dry, whispered breath. “Nurse?” she tried again, but her voice remained only a weak rush of air. My throat’s so dry! Once they know I’m awake they’ll bring me water...I’ll be able to speak then.

Finding herself with no alternative, she tested the heaviness in her limbs again, lifting her hands off the bed from the wrist. If she focused hard, they moved more easily now. I think I can do this. She rolled her shoulder. Ow! Alright then, maybe just from the elbow… Taking another deep breath of the stale air, she raised her right arm slowly off the sheets from the elbow, and tried to wave it at her side, banging her wrist bone on the bed-guard with a hollow clunk. Ouch!

She raised the arm a little higher, sliding her knuckles up the smooth, cold bed-guard, and searching for its top over which to wave. I wonder how I got here? Did the guy who hit me call an ambulance? As her hand reached the top of the solid panel, her right thumb was the first part of her to know there was a lid on the narrow box…

She opened her mouth and tried to scream, but still, no sound came out.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Miracle of Boiler Poetry

It is as it says on the tin, ladies and gentlemen; I have long possessed the will, and the means, to produce poetry on the combi-boiler. The means however, are more complex than first they might appear. The semi-obsessive layering of magnetic words and letters is purely a basis for this delicate operation!

Bearing in mind the boiler is some 10 feet off the ground (I am almost 5ft 7" on a good day!) and located in the conservatory, this exercise involves heating up the little used radiator out there and hauling oneself atop a (rather tall and unstable) buffet, before waiting for one's muse to strike.

This makes the will for boiler poetry to exist all the more miraculous, I think. Although, it must be said, the boiler is above the beer cupboard, which, providing one remembers their bottle opener, is a plentiful source of...erm...inspiration.

Behold...a boiler poem...


Questions may now be asked...the most pertinent of which might be, why would you not do this on the fridge? Or more importantly, why do you not keep your beer in the fridge? I shall ease your minds...I have not lost mine. The conservatory is very cold without the radiator on...thus my beer is always cold (you may sleep easy tonight - no beer was abused in the making of boiler poetry). The fridge is one of those modern efforts that's hidden away in a kitchen cupboard...