Welcome to my A-Z 2018, for which I am revisiting Africa, the continent of my childhood and my dreams. The posts are, as always, infoheavy and opinionated, but they are sectioned off - some music, the day’s topic, couple writers, a slideshow from the safaris – plenty ways to cherry-pick. So you may consume just as much, or as little, as you're cool with. Zero obligation to agree with any of my views either, feel free to air yours :)

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The worst kiss.....and Happy Halloween!



He had stalked me for days. His lips were rubbery, too large, too wide open, hot-wet and slimy.  Gross didn’t begin to describe it.  He was taking his time too, as if he was wooing some swooning heroine in some crazy version of a Brontë romance.  The worst kiss ever. And his limbs were like bloody suckers, I pushed at him hard but he hung on like one of those tree-huggers. How could this be happening?  Why had I allowed it in the first place? I groped for the knife, found it and slashed upwards. He broke away with a repulsive sucking sound that made even my toenails curl. 


I sat up, my chest heaving, my heart beating a frantic tattoo against my ribs.  My head swam with a potent mix of emotions – disbelief. disgust, outrage, abject terror.  I shut my eyes and tried to get a grip.  When I opened them again, everything was quiet.  Moonlight came in through the blinds and lay in deep slices on the floor. I could see vague dark stains on the bedclothes, they were twisted around my torso in a python-coil.  The rest of the room was strangely and chillingly untouched by the upheavals I had just experienced - my clothes were still on the pegs, my books as I had left them on my desk.  Only Toddy had fallen out of the cubbyhole and lay spread-eagled on the papers. 


I untangled myself slowly from the snarled sheets.  Piled the pillows behind my back and half-lounged against them.  Not to sleep for the rest of the night felt like a sensible decision.


Monday, 26 October 2015

Parsing





It’s the same, yet different after decades,
the smell of aftershave, a fleck of foam
left on the mirror, and the sense of home
ebbs out as you leave, courage fades a few shades.


You’ll say nearness is nothing, I know you will;
once I had said it too, and could ignore
who came in and went out of my front door.
I could breathe a smell and smile and sit still.


And even as time blends and changes things -
love grows a deeper, richer underground seam,
I fidget a bit now in the slipstream
and I parse the patience in my feelings.


I once knew to be content with faint smells;
now I'm made breathless by distance, and farewells.







Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Write...Edit...Publish : Halloween Fearfest




Thinking back to childhood, long time ago now, I can’t remember any monsters…all very fuzzy…The only thing that I remember being seriously frightened of were masks - they gave me the heebie-jeebies.  The fright quotient tapered off as I grew up - I now have a corner with several of them. But I am still disturbed by the less literal masks I come across sometimes as an adult.  

Welcome to the Halloween Scarefest of Write...Edit...Publish, hosted by Denise Covey (who has just published her vampire novella! Congrats Denise!) and by murder-mystery writer Yolanda Renee.  Read the rules here and join in the Halloween fun!  We are talking about -




Monday, 19 October 2015

Maybe aubade



The night’s fine, and nothing can go wrong -
this cushion of time means comfort, means calm
the winding darkness itself its own psalm
through the valley, the shadows however long


are pushed back at the tip of your eyelashes;
at the steady pulse of your relaxed wrist;
your smile’s proof enough that worlds exist
in one fallen leaf; in shooting star flashes.


The day comes; light uncovers primal fears
bred into the bone of every moment;
the foam of calm ebbs out in one spent
tide, scoops out the solid resolve of years.


Stay please, let the darkness be the morning
light does not always enhance everything.



Monday, 12 October 2015

Mahalaya 2015






The temple gates are far, I cannot see
the goddess from where I stand, only feel
this slight coolness in the air; verdigris
on an old brass lamp; the usual spiel.


The grass’s gone to seed, different feathery
white or less than white, flowers too unknown
and admit it, what’s the temple really -
an idol raised in mud, slight scratch on stone.


Rivers skirt their banks in one sacred sweep,
skies, oceans swoop and swell in kingfisher blues;
far too many lives sold out far too cheap -
the goddess puts her arms to a modern use.


Dreams still come in conch-white and marigold;
but I dream no dreams, the centre does not hold.






It's the start of the festival season back home - happy Mahalaya, Navratri, and/or Durgapuja to you if you are celebrating.




Monday, 5 October 2015

Working late ...and not alone





The door behind her shuts with a loud bang,
disconnected with the force she employs.
A sinister draught eddies, unseen hands
move window louvres in a spasm of noise.


The office, drained of its usual talk,
the corridor emptied of its milling feet,
floats high above the ground. Peak traffic clots
in pinpricks of light in thin threads of streets.


From the ceiling lines of fluorescent tubes
size her up through hostile, slit cross-eyes;
the security’s left, except one small group
somewhere in the innards of the high-rise.


Is it her heels that strike too loud a note
or is it her heart that’s thudding in her throat?