Into white, my heart remains

We can’t remember the beginning.
And were ill prepared for the end.
You wipe these tears away with shaking hands.
Kissing where you know life begins.
Yet all we are now are bodies full of leaves.
Turned by the autumn of memories.
Dying inside, as your winter descends.
Freezing the love and covering all,
in white tragic space.

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Still

Sad footprints in the snow.
Leading us into the unknown.
The tiredness clings to our faces, having wasted such time.
Scratching and clawing our way into nothingness.
Silently they surround me.
Little birds of explanation.
Their vibrant feathers of understanding flutter in the summer sky.
How far had the fall been?
How deep did the chasm in my heart drop?
Never to be filled, yet clinging and yearning for the wanting.
For the void of the material.
Junk in the soul.
A whisper in my ear is not the breath of god.
The hand on my head is not an angelic caress.
It’s the apology I give to myself.
The embrace of my own arms, wrapped in forgiveness.
Head bowed in respect.
A stillness rises in me.
Loud like the winter.
Blooming like the spring of being the god within.
Sacred and defined.

White/Blue – where are you?

‘It was snowing. It always snowed. That’s how she liked it.

The swirling white that enveloped everything, dusting and smothering all in a wonderland. There was more variety in snow she’d always thought. A sunny day was nice, for a trip to the beach or a stroll in the park; but sunny days were predictable, ordinary, and what everyone wanted. Snow, on the other hand created such chaos and difference…..’


With some housekeeping and changes to this blog, this is an update for the ongoing sci/fi short ‘White/Blue‘. Fear not, the lady of the jars has not gotten lost and the girl from Europa has not returned to her planet yet. This serial short story has lain dormant a bit too long over the winter months, but has recently been seized by a new wave of investment. As such, their temporary home has moved to my other site ‘MarkryanHavoc‘. If you haven’t checked this out, there is new content there and more of a showcase for my other works. New projects are underway and a lot of creative plate spinning is happening.
Updates will continue here for their ongoing tale, and it’s about to get pretty interesting. So please be sure to take peek through the blizzard, and refresh where you left them. Enjoy.

(A final copy of the completed tale is now looking to be published in the near future.)

Flowers for Harold Jones

Sunken, like thoughts of survival.
Down deep where the waters darken.
A purple bloom that summons your winter.
We lay the flowers over you.
Hoping the petals rot into your bones.
Bringing a colour and beauty, to your sweet decay.
The irises glisten still in your eyes.
Reflecting a dull glimmer, from the hospital sad fluorescence.
Your golden sparkle, now alchemized to ruby red.
We’ll cast your soul out on a sea of lilies.
Keeping your head above the serpentine reef.
Floating above those sunken ships of youth.
And poppies will adorn our flesh.
Pricking and pinching our skin.
Remembering the pain you were in.
As the opium tickles our minds.
And we see you laughing, once again.

Salvaged in mid winter

I look for you, like a full moon rising.
Turning the tide on my sunken sullen state.
Each hour drips away, like a painting of regret.
Washed away in the fresh rains you bring to a crumbling soul.
You hold me carefully like a bruised apple.
The bloom of happiness spreading in my heart.
I hold your heart, like a precious artefact.
With tears that have now begun to retract.
Because of the light you shine on our patch of earth.
Those seeds sown in September, break through tough winter soil.
Finding new life from the Christmas lights that sparkle.
Dancing on the leaves, like frost in the morning.
Peppering our steps with a carpet of wonder.
This song will remain, and I will know its tune by heart.
Etched into these bones until time fades.
The harvest of hope in the winter cold.
A chance to dance once more into the future.
With you right by my side.

Shroud

Awaiting for the darkness to pass.
For a sting’s throb to relent.
Deep in this cave of uncertainty.
Where the buzz of doubt floods and overwhelms.
Yet there is a peek, a gentle stab at the white veiled sleep.
The sunshine finger of light that inquires into the bowels.
What beneath the shroud is alive or dead?
The smell of decay sits too absently now in the air.
You know what was buried there.
For you killed it with your departure.
Yet as the birds sing their larkening song.
That threatens a spring in winter.
So too the shroud is awakening.
Dropping its ghosts and mangled possessions.
To breathe and live once more.
And taste the April showers and life’s new blooms.

W/B – Sunshine and sadness

The sunshine beat down, making the dead still air hum like static. Nothing moved. Nothing stirred. The whole forest and world rested in the maddening heat of the day. She looked up into the sky where this giant tangerine sphere blazed away, and she mopped her brow. She was hot, and sweaty. Moving slowly back towards the sad little row of town houses where she called home. She heaved the panel of wood carefully and painfully slow to her house; the middle one. The brightest of all the little homes. It’s white paint glistening in the hot sun. She thought of her house as the last good tooth in a set of rotting teeth. Rubbish and filth marked the other buildings, faulted by the need for their owners to work long hours just to survive rather than to maintain a nice home.

But she did, and she worked harder than any.

She heaved the panel finally in through her door, propping it up for now in the hallway. She had gotten up early that day, putting her hours in early at the little shop in town where she worked so she could leave before five to get to the wood shop before it shut. She knew the owner well enough, and knew he never did business out of hours. And she wanted the wood today. She wanted to fix the door tonight, while she knew he would be out.

As she caught her breath in her little hallway, she sighed at the cliché of her life so far. Married when she just seventeen, to someone she never loved. Stuck, out of circumstance, to the man and the place for fear of having to start over with nothing. The money her parents had given her was swallowed up before she had even been married a year. Drinking and gambling away her inheritance it seemed was his favourite past time. And she let him; she knew she was indeed part of the problem. She allowed him to drink and stay out because it meant he wasn’t there, at home with her. Punching the walls and putting her down. Complaining and demanding things, and putting his foot through the back door.

She went now for a glass of water, fanning her arms to cool them down as best she could as she made her way to the tiny kitchen. Her house was cool, she made it that way the best she could, but in doing so it was dark and cave like, blocking out the scorching sunlight wherever she could. Their town; plagued by tropical heat and an unrelenting sunshine that cooked and boiled everything beneath it, was something she had come to despise.  She drank from a glass, looking now at the gaping hole in the door panel. An easy fix, and done before. This time she had made sure to get the gotten stronger wood, something that would not so easily be destroyed. But something had been different this time. A part of her heart had splintered and snared like the bits of wood that stuck out now like vicious thin teeth. Her heart, hardened over the years and placed under a cloud of criticisms and chaos, surprised her at making her feel something. Something where everything she thought was numb.

But what was it. Anger? Remorse?

She wasn’t too sure. Suffering so long in the dark, it’s painful to see the light after so long. She mistook the determination for her usual war-time mentality of getting things done, carrying on and making things right. Getting the wood panel for the door, fixing it so there was no longer the yawning reminder of the open wound that was her life. Letting the dank air in. Letting the light in.

Something within was screaming. Something determined to be heard and acted upon.

She filled her glass again from the tap, drinking down the cool water. Replenishing her fluids that had escaped in her long hike from the wood-shop, and the internal steam engine that was slowly gathering force to implore her to act.

And then she heard the door go.

The front door slammed shut, not caught in any breeze that the deadened air around them could muster. He was home early. Must have been a bad day. She heard the yelling in the hall, incoherent cries like the nightjars she passed on her way to work, gathering and chorusing in the trees above. Soon he was there, in front of her, gesturing to the hall way, no doubt the wood panel caught in his way. He looked hot and red, his skin crumpled and dirty; burnt by the sun after the long day in the fields and the alcohol that dehydrated him. His hollowed cheeks, gaunt by a wicked life and bad teeth, threw shadows on his face making him look like an angry red skeleton fresh from the grave. He banged and blamed, flailing his arms around. Knocking things off the kitchen shelves. She would have to fix things, she always did. Clearing up his mess while she slept off his mood.

She ducked more than once, mindful not to be the target of his rage and waited for the storm to die. But she did something then she had never done before. The steam engine in her had reached its peak and burst, empting out years of frustrating and hatred in a single event. She launched the glass she held in her hand out into the air, and watched it sail over the kitchen and smash on the stone wall. She screamed loudly, like one would into a pillow, so loud it sounded like an air raid siren. Momentarily it confused him. He stopped dead, unsure of what was happening. She was usually so passive. So subservient. Afraid to rock the boat which would lead to her to drown in a deep sea of chaos.

But the mouse had roared.

He acted fast, waiting for her screaming to subside. The chemicals inside kicking into gear to save his self-preservation of a life he had constructed. A life where he was the boss. Her grabbed her roughly by the hair, spinning her around and pulling her backwards. He wasn’t a big man, or even strong. But fuelled by fury and drink, he handled her like that of a ragdoll, pulling her free of the safety of her little home. Their little home.

Kicking free the remains of the broken door, and out into the scorching heat. Though the day was heavy, the sun drew up on them, an oppressive spectator in the unfolding drama. She didn’t cry out, too shocked and stunned into what was occurring. She was dragged out to the center of the garden they had, and roughly shoved into the middle, finally free of his hands from her hair. He grabbed a chair that was propped up by the fence, unfolding the deckchair style and placing it on the grass that had shrivelled into a horrible rug of dirt and dry leaves.

He pushed her into the seat. The silence signalling she had gone too far with the glass. Too far, and too brave to have even begun a journey on him. She sat, motionless; waiting and watching to what was to happen. She watched him find some garden trellis string, some she had bought last year to help keep the cucumber plants steady and vertical.

He was quick tying her to the chair, binding her hands and then her legs to it. She began to protest, pleading half-heartedly that she wouldn’t do it again. A lie, she knew she would. She knew then that if there were ever a next time, she would smash the glass on his skull and be rid of him forever. But he was fast, and tied a rag in and around her mouth, keeping it in place with the string. The string, which she felt now digging into her wrists.

When he was done, without a word, he stood back and quickly went back inside. She was left there, in the garden with the sun burning done on her, tied to the lawn chair. But his return was swift, and carrying a bag of rubbish which he emptied all around her and over her. Foul bits of food and muck covered her, lapped at her feet like a garbage tide. He returned two more times, fresh trash spirited from their neighbours houses, to be emptied on and around her. Crowning her as the queen this new tragic kingdom. He threw the last empty bag away and came close, his eyes piercing hers as he bent low. Grabbing her cheeks between her fingers, pressing his dirty nails into her skin, he hissed at her.

“If you ever do that again, I will kill you.”

And he realised his grip, and stalked back inside the house. A diminishing monster, back to the depths.

The humiliation was as bad as the smell, but it was the flies and the sun which were the real torture. She was out there hours, cooking in a putrid heap as the flies nibbled and pecked at her like tiny vicious birds. The sun radiated an intensity that nearly caused her to faint, pushing down like a fiery hand from god.

But she survived.

Woken out of the delirious dreamscape her survival mind had slipped her into by a bucket of cold water thrown over her once the sun had set. He loosened her from the chair, not saying a word. Not able to look her in the eye. Before disappearing out, off to drink and spend more money.

In the aftermath, she collected herself best she could. She cleaned herself off, and tidied the garden to keep the rats from overrunning the place. Despite her nausea she had some bread, to fend off the intense hunger and disgust that brewed and bubbled in her stomach. And then she went to her bedroom, and began to pack. She did not want revenge, no good could come of that. But something had snapped within her, the spun sugar strand of patience had fractured.

She collected only what she needed, throwing it all into a bag and bringing the walls down to this part of her life. She cleared out the little box under the floorboards where he kept money, the one he thought she didn’t know about. She put it back, empty, sealing the box to a grave of solitariness. She stripped the house of her, of the things she needed to go on with. Cutting the cord to an unhappy life here. She stood in the front room, wondering if all her life could really lie crumpled and stuffed in the small bag she held in her hand. And then she saw it, the snow globe up on the shelf. Twinkling away through the dust at the higher realms of display. She had bought it herself, years ago. A winter market in one of the neighbouring towns had brought it into her life. She had been transfixed with the winter scene at the time, like bubbles of snow dancing in a small sea like dust in the wind. It was small, no bigger than her fist. And she had remembered placing it up on the higher shelf to give it a better chance in her life there, out of the danger zone of fists and fits.

She took it down now, unsettling the snow that had gathered in the bottom like pebbles in an aquarium. Should couldn’t help herself, she shook it; making it and herself one with the disjointed feeling of a world in flux. How long she stood there, she didn’t know. No happy memories were there to be collected. Only dark shadows of the past that she wanted to put into the grave.

And then, she left.

The rest was a blur. She left the house, the street and the town. Traveling far on the little she allowed herself to spend. Finally settling in the little cottage she lives now. Currently entertaining the girl from Europa. Unknowing, in part, of the little eyes who watched it all unfold, and the man of the boxes who skulked around her house.

You may be asking yourself why she never used magic to save herself from a life so fraught at the beginning. Or why she never turned her husband fittingly to a bug to squash underfoot. That too is an interesting story. For you see, once she was married, she was taken away from her family, and where she had grown up. The choking rights of marriage had labelled her practically property, and her husband had concluded that she needn’t have many things in their new home. His own were suffice. What her family didn’t know, and neither did she until later once she had left, was that he had used a bit of magic himself in the first place; to marry the lady of the jars who at the time was the girl with the glass like beauty.

This may sound all too convenient and easily explained away, but yes; sometimes life is that clichéd. He hoodwinked them all, sloppily in the end, but had struck lucky one night gambling and had acquired what he needed to enchant her. It wore off of course, but by then she was cut off from her family, and of the aged magic her own mother knew and possessed. Her mind had silenced all she had learned from her book growing up; and that’s the thing about the book itself, it needs to be with the owner. It needs to have a connection in order to tap that power and manifest. More importantly, it needs to come from a place of positivity. A submissive mind is not the soil in which miracles to grow.

But magic, and good magic, finds a way. Which is why the book came to her; posted by her mother when she knew she was safe and free. Knowing the how, or the why or the ways this magic helped find its way back to her, is inconsequential. What we do know is that once she was in possession again to such wonders, she did all she could to block out the sickening heat that reminded her of that horrible day. Which is why it snows constantly there, and why she always feels happier cold and by herself, than hot and suffering, surrounded by those flies.

….to be continued.

To read the full story, click here

Sweet Whispers (poetry book)

For those who haven’t downloaded this yet for free, please do. By the the amazing Singledust.

‘Sweet whispers is poetry inspired by words spoken between two lovers in the early hours of waking as hearts warm together. It is also taken from an intense dialog between lovers against the back drop of snow and words of unrequited love.’

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35 degrees under ice

Broken and bleeding.
With sticks to keep my eyes open.
You left me, healing,
Asleep under winters duvet.
How scared was I when the nights rolled in.
Dark, and threatening, to never lift.
You said the tears would fix the wound.
The fox call, which entered the room.
Covering everything that was beginning to get cold.
You promised to make things better.
Nourish my leaf fell heart and welcome the spring of together.
Taking my hand to brace against the weather.
Which only heightened the storm inside me.
The tempest of old memories.
Old moments that lowered my pressure.
A winter’s flurry, to freeze the pain.
Hoping I could love again.

White/Blue – Part II

(part I here)

Ice on the edge of space

She slept of course, that’s how she’d gotten there. Trapped in a dream that travelled across sky and time. It wasn’t far really, not within her scheme of things. Europa was really the backyard to Earth’s green and blue house; compared to the places she’d been and seen. The trip was quick, a blink of the inner eye for her. Sleeping, forming, and settling into something new in which to emerge from. No-one knew she had left, she made it that way. It wasn’t sneaking out the backdoor or running away, merely moving to the place she knew she would blossom. Unfold in the weighted gravity and expand like the sea coral in her mind.

Getting there was the easy part. She would not miss her home moon, she was not one for looking back. Too many shards of ice poking her into a position she knew she’d outgrown. She had breathed her last and stepped into her waiting transport, bidding a silent farewell to her gods, before becoming one herself. She had shaken her teeth out, burying them deep into the subterranean ice, like planting a seed without the expectation of growth. A silly ritual, one from her childhood. Sealing overt the past and welcoming a new dawn. She’d marked the spot with taldium stones. Smooth onyx rocks that looked like fillings from a gigantic beast. This was all she left behind. New teeth grew inside her as she’d slept in the transport, hurtling across the cosmos as the milk teeth grew and fused together in the depths of space.

Her heart had guided it. The comet that buckled and flayed in the pressures of the vast unknown. Steaming up in the re-entry to a land she’d never entered before. It had lit up the sky across a remote part of china, heralding change and ill omens to the many onlookers who captured it in their eyes as they gathered around their small communal fires. Her heart beat, her skin stretched. Her mind collapsed a million times only to be reborn and steer the transport to that spot. A spot chosen, not for its ease or any strategic opportunity. It was chosen for its sole reason alone, the reason she had left Europa in the first place. It was where the one was, the one who could change her and perhaps, even save her.


Detach and connect

Steam began to gather around them now, the snow and air evaporated temporarily while the remains of the comet and the contents hissed and spewed in the hole in the ground. The lady of the jars didn’t hesitate, she hoped into the hole and began pulling away at the stray tendrils that had not joined the body. She pulled and heaved, working it free and pulling it away like a tooth from a root. Her hands were raw from the cold, but the blue liquid quickly covered them and the pain subsided. She was resourceful, years of chopping wood for her fire and toiling her own yard had given her strength and determination. She lifted the body like a doll off the floor, heaving it over her should; the doll now a sack of flour to be carried into her cottage. Snow began to cover the hole, the marked earth smeared black and blue began to be covered once more in the blanket of white the lady of the jars had always cherished. Soon there would be little evidence of any visitor. It was a secret she was eager to keep to herself, and with that thought she hurried quickly inside.

Closing the door, she took the body over to the fire in her living room. Her house was sturdy, and she could only just hear the howling blizzard outside, the fire crackling over the sound of the perpetual winter. She placed the body carefully, then stoked the fire before taking off her cardigan which was now wet with melted snow and ice. The blue liquid began to slacken, but it did not pool off onto the floor; instead it collected into droplets which lifted up into the air, disappearing like tiny ghosts.  She stood back and watched the transformation, the cocooned being separating into the body of a girl. The hair and skin humming to life with a florescent radiance which faded to healthy glow. The girl’s eyes suddenly blinked open and she sat up. Her eyes, those azure wells that pierced the room flashed and opened up a doorway to another space. A land beyond the stars. The lady of the jars handed her a throw which she kept draped across her good chair, and wordlessly the girl surrounded herself in it. Embracing the warmth and kindness the protection it offered. They sat there in the quiet for some time, having a conversation with no words but levelling out their worlds.

“Tea, that always helps a situation.” The lady said, standing up slowly as not to frighten the girl. The ageless entity that sat on her rug in front of the warming heat. “You stay by the fire, I’ll bring it in.” she said, bustling out into the kitchen. She boiled the kettle and took down the jar of green chai, tipping the leaves merrily into the giant teapot she always had on the side. Though she lived alone, she always devoured copious amounts of tea, and the giant teapot was a testament to it. She filled it up with the bubbling water, and added some crushed almonds, swirling them around inside. She grabbed some small glasses and returned to the living room with the refreshments; popping them down on the side. Though it had been snowing hard and the day was dark, it was now growing darker she noticed, finding the light from the lamp post at the end of her path gaining more strength in the encroaching shadow.

“You must have travelled far, here drink this; it’ll help.” She said, handing the girl a small glass of the tea. The girl reached out with her swan like hand and the lady noticed it then, the etching on her arm. It was a pattern, words even, in some sort of languages; she was sure her book could tell her. These weren’t just dead prints like tattooed skin. The pattern and words swam with life, like a moving aquarium dance of blue hue and light, rippling across the skin, growing strong then faint like a conflicting idea.

“Thank you.” The girl said, reaching for the glass. Her teeth split apart for her to speak, having fused together on her journey. The words were understandable to the lady’s ears, but anyone else from anywhere else would have understood, the language fitting the ear of the listening, wrapping around the mind and settling in the soul. A sweet whisper of a voice, like a feather landing on a petal. Delicate, but hiding a secret strength of flight.

“Are you…” the lady began, but was interrupted by an abrupt and determined knock at her blue door. It wasn’t the pheasants this time, that she knew.


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WINTER DUST

(For Gina)

Words fall like the snow in the sky.
Each one unique, each one different.
Each one caught on my tongue.
Turning and melting in delicious fires.
This alabaster landscape calls to me.
Threatens to cause such havoc.
Yet stabilize my soul.
People drift to and fro.
Covered in dustings like the souls of Pompeii.
White, as the swan feathers that tickle my brain.
Forge deep into those drifts.
And slip away as the body numbs.
Falling into a winter dream.
Hoping to wake in the spring with all the beauty.
Released from mother natures warm comforting arm’s.

The Silence in snow

What died in the night to still this air?
Silent and frightening like falling through a cloud.
A stillness encases everything.
Do we mourn the moon which has slipped away?
Devoured once more by the rising sun.
Now hidden behind a fog of flurries.
I move not, and the earth respectfully follows.
The world turned down as the blanket of white covers us.
The silence of the snow.
A familiar guest in our winter play, yet never guaranteed to come.
To visit and lay down its coat.
I catch the snowflakes, as I long to be caught.
Laid down in warm soft hands and gazed upon in awe.
My heart trips to a beat, the only sound I can hear.
No bird or animal quiver.
Blinded and stunned by the white light.
Closer to the light, I return.
Scarred like the sky that wept the whiteness.
And echoes a silence still.

Pluck

As a prelude to a harvest.
Of beautiful heads and slender stems.
Comes the bloom of life.
The rotting of the old to be buried out by the tree.
The one which hangs heavy in winter.
Topped by snow and sad inclination.
Each flower a moment in time.
Spun forth from destiny on tiny fingertips of the forgotten.
Names not to be held in the mouths of the mortal.
You pluck the rose from the marrow,
and gaze into the eyes of beauty.
While it slowly wilts into time.

Emotional oxidation

That troubled fire, occupying this traumed mind.
Fire, burning through thoughts of you.
Turning on time and the small electric heartbeats.
You were my king of birds.
Always taking my higher.
Wax these wings and claim indifference.
Leaking out a light that shone for miles around.
This burning flame within.
Scorching the soul and causing such havoc.
Where do the memories of me rest?
Floating in your sky like claustrophobic clouds.
Or sunken in your Atlantian ocean of remorse.
I know I cannot swim, and these wings are bound.
The fire spread.
The ashes turned to time.
And the wind took me away forever.
That winter breeze that froze you over.
Settling the snow for all time.

Anywhere else

I want you to remember.
As you struggle to breath.
While you shake and crack, and wither within.
Close those eyes which hang like dying stars.
And dream.
Welcome in the disassociation.
I’ll hang the universe on you while you sleep.
Remembering where it all begun.
You and the stars will fall silent.
Drifting once more into the beyond that calls to you.
Which has always called, but you’ve never responded.
I want you to remember.
All the things I feel.
All the ways the memories form like ice around your eyes.
A Siberian shift into summer songs.
Flavoured voices caught in the air and on your tongue.
Try and remember.
Which days to savour, and which to let go like planetary balloons.
Floating out of your solar system.
As you fall into now.

Orbiting the future

This space I’m caught within.
Where there’s no beauty in such sadness.
Hewn from the rocks and chiselled out of time.
Copper bones that bend to an autumn song.
The creeping winter that will come.
Round and round like a circle.
Memories eating each other’s tale.
Imprinted in carbon like life’s fingerprints.
A sorrowful scratch in god’s vacant eye.
But within, a sound of escape.
Roaring into a new dawn.
Too big for the cavern it once called home.
Chasing the future and creation.
Hoping to prove both wrong.

Into stars

Bury us where we fall.
Let the pillars of salt tumble, washed away in the monsoon rains.
Stain our souls with an oil of an age.
Squeezed from the ruby fruit swallowed by God.
Bones break and winds change.
Breathing a new time and vision to assemble.
Unpack the dreams that were lost to us.
Glow them out like phosphorus diamonds in our minds.
Let us turn and change in the weather.
Weathered too many storms and cracked by too many winters.
Lay down into the ivy and close the eyes of the young.
Speak tender words of softened touches and understanding.
Leave us to fade into time, our sorrow to crumble like stone.
Speak our names as we finally disappear.
And turn back to stardust

Somewhere in this memory

The snow had begun to fall early that evening. Though the sun had long since slumbered down, it was around six o’clock when the few flutters of snow started to whip past his window. Daniel had left the curtain s open like he did most evenings, watching the wild sky drip away beyond the horizon. It had rained lightly that day, and it took a while for the snow flurries to leave any impression on the ground. But as he watched from his small window, his face illuminated by the Christmas lights, he watched as some people came out of their houses to investigate the snow. A few kids ran about under the street lights, already bunching up snow into cold balls to throw at one another. It was shame, Daniel thought to himself, that Christmas had passed already and the snow had waited until after. Another bleak grey day that offered only the magic of the season than from the endless possibilities of the weather.

He went to the kitchen and made himself a spiced tea. The smell of cinnamon and spices hung in the air, warm and inviting. He then went into the main room to where the Christmas tree was, sipping the tea which burnt his lip. He’d put it up alone this year, the first time the ceremony had ever been performed that way. He looked at the huge golden bell that sat a top of the tree; sparkling, like everything else did, in the strung Christmas lights that dotted the place. He couldn’t remember ever buying that bell, yet it appeared every year to tip the tree they always had. He sighed and placed his tea down, pulling one of the boxes towards him. He hated taking the tree down, or the Christmas decorations. As a child he’d always pleaded to his parents to keep them up longer. But they were bound by the laws of the season and the far away court, and all the decorations had to be down by the twelfth night. Why? No one could ever tell him, that was just how it was. Yet this was how things were now, every year it seems. Him, alone taking down the very things that were put up to enliven his life if only for a few weeks.

He started to take off some of the ornaments, some of which he remembered putting on the tree even as a child. These must be so old he thought suddenly; vaguely aware of his own decent now into adulthood. His phone began to hum into life nearby, but he ignored it. He wasn’t in the mood to argue again, and that’s the only thing that phone was offering to him this evening. He placed some of the baubles carefully into their homes, snug in a box that would keep them safe for another year. He turned up the music he had playing, his new tradition; Christmas songs to ring out in the stripping of the tree. In a way, such a violating act. The trauma of the season. He hummed along to some of the carols, there religious message washed away now he thought in the progression of the years. He felt old, and tired. Like his youth had slipped away without him even noticing it. He might as well be boxing up his memories instead of these decorations, freezing all he ever wanted and all he dreamed off in these magical days of Christmas. Spun up like candied sugar and placed away safely, to be removed once a year along with his heart.

He sat down on the rug, patches of glitter peppered the tufts still from the wrapping paper that had been destroyed last week. He closed his eyes as the choir music filled the room, taking him to a place in his memory. He watched as his younger self ran down the stairs, eager to see if Father Christmas had been. His parents, holding hands and smiling as they watched their children tear at the presents that had been carefully placed hours before beneath the silver Christmas tree. Though the tree was fake, over time it had faded and fallen apart, much like the marriage and the moments he now saw in his mind. The presents, along with this love within the family had been torn apart and forgotten about. Thrust up each year like some special spectacle. Packed away when all were done.

His phone rang again, bringing him back. He opened his eyes and looked at his phone on the table, lighting up and convulsing in an epileptic dance. He ignored it again and went back to the tree to finish off. The lights were always the trickiest. It was easier with someone helping, and fun too he thought as he remembered how they had joked around putting the lights over one another, pretending they were trees. The time when one of the fuses had gone and the whole house had been plunged into darkness, not before the sparks had succeeded in frightening them both. Lights were always a pain to put away, but he resigned himself that it would be another year before he had to worry about them, and balled them into the old shoebox he kept; sealing the lid and the doom of the lights till next year. The rest of the decorations found their way into boxes relatively quickly, only a few things were placed around his small house as it was. He nearly forgot about the wreath on the door, only remembering it when he glanced outside to see how the snow was. It had come down pretty heavy now and he thought about going for a walk later when he was finished to enjoy the winter landscape.

He finished his tea and snatched up his phone, looking at the missed calls. He sent a message quickly and then stood back looking at the barren tree, back now to its natural coat. They usually had a fake tree, but this year they had gone for the real thing. It stood now, just a hair smaller than him, shedding pine needles below itself like some defecating potted creature.  He closed his eyes and could smell the aroma of the tree, the fading pine of a dying spirit. He wondered where it had grown, what bird or beast had called it home in the time it grew to its seasonal perfection. To be adorned and beheld for a few weeks only to then be thrust out with the other junk of the season, left to decompose in the street awaiting to be whisked away to somewhere out of sight. In that moment he saw the death and cruelty of Christmas. How things were cherished, only for the moment, then forgotten about and placed away. His phone nearby rung a reply, and he glanced at the preview from where he stood. A small tear appeared, and rolled down his cheek, the air leaving his lungs before a gasping inhale.

Daniel went to the french doors and cast them both ajar dramatically. The cold winter wind swept into the room, and some snowflakes fell onto his carpet. He snatched up the tree by the middle trunk and took it out into his garden. His bare feet sank deeply into snow that had settled already, but Daniel did not care. He went back inside and picked up matches that rested by the Christmas candles. He returned back to the garden and struck three matches at one time, letting the oxygen breathe life into the flame. He threw them onto the tree and lit some more. The snow whipped around both him and the tree, but eventually the flames took and it began to burn. Flames licking the innards of the branches as he stood in the snow that numbed his feet. Drifting from his living room, ‘O Holy Night’ lifted into the air and encased them in that moment. Frozen for that blink in the eye of god.

 

Coconut ice & candied eyed

These thoughts entertain me, for the hundredth time this week.
Dropping into my mind like pennies into a well.
I swing between actioned and complacent.
As you swing me back to forth in time.
This pendulum of your love.
Happy in the tinsel of us you deck me in.
Yet unrequited feelings of doubt then crawl in like a frost.
No doubt blossoming at Christmas time.
Fearful of the joy you offer.
Mindful of my usual self-destructiveness.
I cover you in cotton wool and hide you in the Christmas stocking.
Away from the mice and my thoughts of decay that would nibble away at you.
These hungry moths in my mind.
I swallow these feelings down.
Learning to live; not for tomorrow, but in the moment here with you.
Biting off only as much as I can chew.
As I wash away the taste of my usual foot.
Let me substitute for sweet candied swells.
Catching in my soul like coconut shavings.
Licking you clean of the sugar you must be covered in.
Savouring the delicious center of your love.

THE FIREFLIES

‘The fireflies will take you there.’

She heard the voice, strong and determined through the muddling noise of her day. It had travelled with her since she’d left her house that morning, echoes on the wind and fingers on the back of her neck.

“Stop that now please.” She said, startling an old lady passing her by. She turned away and hurried up the street, mindful of the ice on the path. The first big winter frost had settled in the night, and the overcast clouds threatened a grey and cold day ahead.

‘Come listen….’

That voice again, buzzing around her head like real fireflies. She stopped in the middle of the path outside a small coffee shop. Her warm breath exhaling in mist around in her in the coldness of the morning.

“I mean it.” she said, though there was no malice in her voice. She turned abruptly, and entered the small shop which was partially filled with people eager for their coffees on their way to work. She stood looking up at the board, her mind in two places. She looked at her watch and realised she was late for her interview. Time for a coffee at least, I’m only human she thought. She approached the counter, smiling at the man behind it; all smiles and eager to take her order. There was suddenly a huge creaking sound as if something were breaking. She looked up to find the entire roof being pulled back, opening like a can of beans.

She gasped as the seams of the room dripped in a starry gold dust, exposing the sky above them. But it was not the bleak winter clouds that she had seen outside, but a glorious sun baked blue haze smiling at her through the opening above. She staggered back from the counter, knocking into the person behind.

“Hey, watch it.” He said, unimpressed with her foot landing on his shoe, and clearly apathetic to the sight of the roof now missing above their heads. She glanced around her, the whole shop casting their confused eyes on her and not the sight above her heads.

“What? Oh Sorry!” she mumbled before flying out of the shop, letting the door smash behind her.

Out into the cold and muddling crowd, she tried to catch her breath. That was a new one she thought as she glanced back inside, watching as the people careful sipped their coffees as their own little world’s continued to turn. She felt their eyes on her still, so she moved off down the road in the same direction she had come.

“The fireflies are waiting.” She heard once more in her ears. Quietly this time, like whispers of a ghost. She shook this off and hurried quicker, making her way as fast as she could back to her apartment.

Inside she locked the door forcefully, though she knew nothing from outside was the problem. She turned around and with a flash of light the floor beneath was transformed into sand. The apartment dripped away, with a sea lapping the shore where her sofa used to be. The sky above exploded in a million sparks as if the stars were coming down from the sky. Fireflies buzzed around her, tingling her skin and whispering in her ear.

“Heena booraa, conallou.” They sung.

She smiled, she couldn’t help herself. The beach at night beneath her feet, the smell of the sea on the breeze that flowed so softly and silently down into her lungs. She walked forward and dipped her toe into the sea, her black work shoes finding a bit of sea foam on the end like a tuft of snow. She dropped her bag on the sand and walked along the beach until she walked into something hard with a loud thump.

“Ow!” she said aloud to the empty apartment which had now appeared in its headache haze around her. She rubbed her head where it had bumped, and sighed. A long deep-felt sigh that weighted with realisation and defeat. She steadied herself by putting her hand against the wall, thankful momentarily it hadn’t turned into a palm tree.

“Come back to us Stacey. We are waiting.” She heard quietly, whispered around her empty apartment.

Her mobile phone broke the silence, echoing from her bag that she had dumped on the floor. She wondered for a second whether to answer it, then quickly found her way to the bag; brushing off the sand on the bottom and retrieved the irritating device from within.

“Hello?”

“Hello, is this Miss Adams? I’m calling from Stacks Global.” The shrill voice called out from down the line.

“Oh, yes this is she.”

“Well Miss. Adams. We were expecting you promptly for an interview this morning.” The voice stated, hovering in an expectational way.

“Ah, yes. I’m sorry I’ve had a few problems getting in this morning.” Stacey said, noticing now the curtains beginning to shimmer with the gold dust she’d seen before. The woman on the line made a disgruntled snort as if she’d heard nothing so preposterous in her life.

“Miss. Adams, I needn’t tell you what a reputable company we have here. We don’t give interviews her needlessly to fill our time. You are making a very bad first impression and I must stress…” But Stacey cut her off.

“Okay, thanks then. Have a good day”. She said and hung up the phone, placing it on the sideboard. She stood there, no longer in a daze but with a twinkle of determination in her eyes.

“Okay. Okay. I’m coming. I’m sorry it took so long. Hana lowlalei.” And she made a circle with her hands in the air. The ground shock for a second and room burst with a flash of light, raining sparks all around her. She smiled once more and walked across the room to find her laptop. Still with her coat on she logged in, finding the cheap website for flights she had used before. Using her credit card she booked herself a ticket, first class none stop. And only one way.