Death and poetry

I wrote this poem last year, as part of the one word challenge on Writer's Talkback, which was inspired by real events, the kind that happen all too often when we mix alcohol and driving, and the ignorant way that we often think we can get away with the occasional misdemeanour. Death has no obligation to young or old; he takes without prejudice or compunction, but more often than not it's our own fault that he comes knocking.

Literature draws him as a dark caped interloper carrying a scythe to harvest souls.  I decided to keep to tradition and let the Grim Reaper keep his scythe for the title of the poem.

Death and the Scythe

When the darkness came,
I felt utterly alone,
Except for the moon;
His quicksilver smile,
Guided me to the scene.

The dark scar,
In the meadow,
That’s how I knew,
A black tide was coming,
To smother me, too.

Wheat gently swayed,
Unsullied by fear,
The wrecked car
Was silent; the breeze,
I could hear.

A gentle hum,
Of life letting go,
A last sigh into the night;
I was too late to save you,
Too late to know.

You were still warm,
But I grew cold,
I held you for a time,
As shadows retreated,
And stars hung low.

The tide was out,
Never coming back,
The silence crowded,
Despite the moon glow,
My life turned black.

A drunken night out, son,
You had nowhere to hide,
You baited the darkness,
He came for you...
Death and the Scythe.

Another winner...

For those who are regulars to Lily's Feardom, the weekly flash fiction Friday Prediction challenge provides the opportunity to stretch one's writing muscles by constructing a flash piece around three pre-chosen words.  My piece 'The Road to Kigali' won, judged by fellow scribe R.S. Bohn. 

The words leaped out at me and demanded I write this piece.  The dark side of human nature fascinates me and this dark episode in human history still lingers.  How unfortunate it is then that humanity can still act so atrociously.  We never learn.

The Road to Kigali

Their semen glimmered like a garland of bloody pearls around her fleshy purse. Heart stilled by the fear they’d forced on her, she stared up at the sky, eyes locked, as though wresting the stars from the darkness.

Moments earlier, she’d sucked in her last breath.

Wide open wounds glistened as a dark shroud began to spread from a body that resembled a slaughtered pig.

Their saliva had already dried against her skin, leaving a sullied sheen.

The Hutus walked away into the evening; machete blades moist with coital residue, dragging the remains of the baby she would have had.

Sticks and Stones...

Here's a 200 word piece called Passing Judgement. The old saying, 'sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me' may be a testament to resolve, but we all know that words cut deep, and when they do, they always hurt.  Words have a unique power beyond any sharp instrument.

The theme of prejudice is running throughout my creative fiction at the moment.  I'm looking at how destructive it really is, how powerful it can be and the consequences it can cause.  Besides, we as writers speak from experience when we write from the heart.  I was recently asked if the main character in this piece is me.  Well, that's for the reader to decide.  What I will say is that it was written with great emotion.

This is the original flash fiction piece, however a longer version is being written for the short story market.

Passing Judgement

The cloud that hovered close seemed oppressive, tight like a rope around the larynx, pressing against the skin.

Sticks and stones might break bones, but their words were always sharper, and their ability to find their target was matched only by the invisible pain they inflicted, the discomfort braying against her like open sores soaking in salt.

She had taken the pain they inflicted and had woven it into a rope.

Words hurt; they sliced through the dermis and wriggled like maggots beneath the skin, then picked away at the mind, thinning out the rationality from within. Spite and malice and misplaced thought; they had not listened or understood her, and now she was maligned, like a thick fibrous ball of cancer, an unbearable stench.

The anger remained fresh in her veins, seemingly unsullied by their prejudices, but the rope she had forged turned out to be her saviour. Vilified and shown up like a stain, she had beaten them to it, beaten them to the sticks and stones.

Wrong accusations fell like snowflakes on ignorant faces and evaporated into the stillness.

She dangled in silence from the oak tree on the hill. Just as her innocence finally became clear.

Inspired Flash Fiction

This short little flash first appeared over at Lily's Feardom, an entry in the Friday Flash challenge that takes place every week, and was inspired by misplaced prejudice which happens to people all over the world, but more importantly, it's about the fear rather than hatred, that prompts it.

A Bad Colour is a symbolic title, not just a literal one.  More importantly, metaphor and colour plays throughout the entire piece.

A Bad Colour

Amber slices projected through the trees, the haze of the fire began to swell. The hint of burnt sienna wafted close, scorched a path beneath their noses.

Rope fibres moaned as they became taut, to temper the weight.

Shadows appeared through the smoke, circled him. Milk coloured robes flapped in the breeze, bathed by the fire glow, their faces hidden by hoods.

Red over black; the colour of life slinked down his skin, snaked down the channels they had gouged through his flesh. Open viscera gleamed.

He swung from the tree as the cross burned; the price for being different.

Winning Poetry

Another little winner, this time free verse poetry, in the shape of a piece called Roadkill.  This recently won the One Word Challenge over at Writer's Talkback.  It's a dark piece, and needs no explanation.  And as always, it deals with a central theme, this time death and loss, and it makes no excuses.


Fresh from the oppressive grip
Of an oily back night, the heavy jab
Of a thankless job, the anguish;
Battling through the flashing lights
Parting the dusk and pulling back
The protective drapes of life
Scraping up the viscera
And hoisting the remnants for the kin
Sealing bags of personal things
Waiting for the adrenaline to kick in.
Cold frost through the veins
Watching everything unfurl
Slow, like time-lapse, frame by frame
Pressing against urgent cries
Mingling with the noise and fear
Clinging low to the road;
It sported a spiteful sheen
A child’s bloody spill
Fresh kill
Reflecting bright in the light.
And slinking from the awful sight
Quietly leaving behind
Mangled metal and dulled chrome
The sticky russet pools
That covered a broken toy, a tiny shoe
And bits of Mummy too
Packing away another night
Looking into the driver’s pallid face
The dulled eyes and passive stare
Of Daddy, the drunk; a disgrace.