Have you ever been on a train late at night and strange desires tease your ego?  No?  Well I have….

Being an avid people watcher, there was plenty of interest in the crowded train carriage. While actually too crowded for my comfort, station by station the commuting assemblage thinned until there were only a few of us left. My mood relaxed in tandem.

Those passengers left were unfortunately positioned to be reduced to just domes of heads, all different hair colour, scalp tone, hat style; I was disappointed.

Although I know it couldn’t have been by design, there was only one face to be seen from where I sat tightly in my corner. Actually there were two faces, one in profile, warm, friendly, passively looking out into the darkness, the same night-time creating a mirror to accommodate the second; a rather paler reflection that seemed to be looking in my direction across the seat tops. In my direction but there was no eye contact that constituted recognition or communication. My interest was pricked but I was drawn away to muse over a rather shapely dark skinned scull a couple of seats behind him; them.

Further distraction came as the next station slid alongside and my eyes flicked about in hope but returned to the warm face which was now alone, it’s counterpart lost in the whiteness of the platform lights. As the carriage doors cycled open and closed, I studied his rather attractive features. Smooth tight skin, mid thirties, perhaps younger, yes younger; I was trying to kid myself that I didn’t need to consider the youth. Pale grey irises stood out clearly in their clean white pools but a blink hooded then a little and the long dark lashes linking to manicured brows showed them off to perfection.

A ripple on his temple was driven by some agitation of the defined jaw, I caught a pout of gentle rouge brown lips and the forehead rested once more. To one side a neat flat ear was nestling beneath the tightly cropped hair line that gently developed upward only to disappear under a shock of sculpted silk strands wrapping smoothly out of sight to the nape; I could easily picture the 360 degree image in my practised mind’s eye. This indulgence was brushed aside but the sudden reappearance of the boy’s co-conspirator, this time the black backed reflection was not so isolated, in fact it was staring at me, not past me, not through me, right inside me.

Embarrassed, I looked away, but the attraction had already been secured by my psyche and I allowed my peripheral vision to keep the image available; indistinct but available.

They were inviting eyes and my resolve failed quickly and I allowed mine to be locked into them. It lasted for only a millisecond but there was something wrong with this picture; it was my rational brain speaking to me; I couldn’t determine the problem but there was something odd going on.

In the previous minutes, neither of us in this detached intimacy had moved more than the occasional discrete muscle but I froze as the reflective face broke into a smile, I could see it clearly although still locked into the grey pools. His cheek bones had filled out with raised impudence, teeth, white and even, glistened inside lips full. The problem resolved.

The face, the living face hadn’t changed its stoic beautiful profile. Trying to break myself away to confirm this peculiarity seemed impossible but when the wink that was tossed, definitely didn’t come from the statuesque form. Confusion slapped me hard on the cheek and my neck swung round only to be met by the confusion of reflections of reflections in the opposing windows. It was too much to reason and I bounced back to the original conundrum.

The smile was still in place and although I returned it willingly, I hoped that mine was hidden by the high velveteen seat backs between us. Knowing that my reciprocation had been registered, a more comprehensible set of facial niceties beamed out their acceptance of my complete attention.

Still confused I glanced momentarily to the left but felt guilty as a frown dig into his forehead. The visceral version of this peculiarity still hadn’t moved it’s ravishing contours. As my eyes flicked back, I could tell that he displeased as the corners of his mouth had dropped slightly in silent admonishment; I tilted my head and raised an eyebrow in apology. What was I apologising for? I was flirting with a reflection, beautiful, but still only a refection. Was I so desperate for attention? So gullible? My eyes stabbed with pain and they screwed up against another set of bright lights, my head fell forward and hit the seat in-front of me. The train screeched harshly to its rest.

The atmosphere changed. People were getting in my way, there was no room to manoeuvrer or escape as a rotund panting body exhaled some obnoxious curry flavoured breath as it sat heavily almost in my lap; my stomach turned. Disappointment rocked me back into the uncomfortable seat. Craning a stiffening neck around the seat, the vision of beauty was gone, as was its counterpart, leaving only an invisible imprint on the weather streaked glass.

All I could do was scowl at the unfortunate mass next to me.

Dark Island

It’s a dark day today

This narrow circle of life in an ocean of sharks is getting smaller by the day. The dark water lapping inexorably at the delicate shore-line is eating inwards towards wrinkled feet where the general isolation is beginning to feel cold and more desperate, almost by the hour.

For years this had been your happy place to live, despite being only a sad rocky outcrop, there were small pockets of lush enveloping scented greenery and cool satisfying pools of delight to submerge in and rise refreshed and sated; but now even these were drying up and wilting in the emotional drought.

Pacing around the shoreline, avoiding its grey foaming lips, the tip of a once tall proud outcrop flicked into view but remained swathed in the feathery spume of the waves that washed it clean of all humanity and hope. You can’t bear to look it for long fearing that the memories of more intimate times will overwhelm you. It’s lone inhabitant that had often allowed the heat of human entanglement was long washed to their uncertain death in the watery hunger. The few other such places were now only clouded memories but at least they couldn’t taunt you with lingering promises but the certainty of a dry shrivelled humiliation.

Even the occasional glimpse of a white-topped rescue only prove to be tricks of the mind, often only theirs as yours has given up that hope long ago; a knightly vision on rearing grey dappled stallion is a thing of beauty but holds no benevolence in this jaded pit.

With less things to distract a crumbling ego and forgotten care, you stumble back to the shelter that now only hangs together with wisps of dreams. Darkness is quickly drawing you in, the light of a life clouded in mouldering billowing fungi and the threats of rumbled horror.

The hiss of the foam creeping ever closer makes you draw up the rough sackcloth and you croak back a cough from the dust of ashes now long cold, night could take you now and no-one would know, would they even care?

Beside you an email pinged into its inbox but just from the subject line you know it wasn’t from him; that boat has sailed and deep down you know there would be no others cruising onto your horizon anytime soon.

Dark Island

The first cut

The pale skin reflected the flickering flames of the guarded open fire with only a dull shine on its mottled and now rather pitted surface. Age and environment had not been kind to the poor old thing now nearing what was the end of any useful life.

A small hand grabbed rather roughly at the dry wrinkled neck and rolled the firm but distended body round to have the best side of it face forward in the shadowy light ready to receive some rather more intrusive attention.

“Be very careful Jake,” his mother had a pensive note in her voice, “you only get one chance to get it right remember.”

Jake only half turned his head in silent reply but a bright reflection from the broad polished implement in his steady but obviously eager hand gave a sharp highlight to the already obvious glint in his eye.

“It’s OK mummy, I know what I want to do.”

He turned back to concentrate on the inviting and as yet blank skin. In his mind’s eye Jake had a good idea what he wanted to do but his enthusiasm was dampened by a lack of experience and a nervousness supplied by the enormity of the privilege he had secured for the first time on his own.

The hesitancy had not gone unnoticed but ‘mummy’ stayed back from the arena of carnage that she knew was going to develop. Despite preparing as best she could with an oil cloth cover on the table and suitable bowls and pans ready on the side, she was well aware of the task that would fall to her, as it always had done in the years that they had sacrificed this humble soul.

With Jake taking the first blow this year, it was almost a right of passage in the century< old suite of special things that they looked forward to on their rolling calendar of excitement and excess.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to start you off?” She couldn’t control her excitement any longer, “Just so you have something to work around, I..11

“I can do it!” Jake retorted without taking his eye off the prize, “I’m just thinking about it!”

“OK dear just wanted to help.”

Secretly she wanted to take a firm grip on the blade and plunge it into the softening flesh, through the now unresisting skin to reveal the juicy interior and all the possibilities that it offered her culinary experience. She focused again on the ironing that she was mechanically getting through all the time planning the rest of the evening in her kitchen. The scraping, slicing, roasting, pulping; she licked her lips at the thought of it and in the momentary closing of her eyes in the pleasure of anticipation found that she had missed that most important event for her young protegé.

The point he had chosen would not have been the one she might have but, it was his journey and he had to make the same mistakes that she had at his age. She almost verbalised her concerns as she watched the speed that the assault was being inflicted.

The second and third incursions had been relatively successful and the space that manifested was recognisable, unfortunately the fourth was totally misguided. She knew that there would be disappointment if she didn’t step in but a mother’s hopes and the indecision that goes along them made her miss the moment and the blade was in, almost up to its short hilt and the second opening that Jake had so clearly seen for his creation was lost.

“Oh, dear,” his mother couldn’t stand back any longer and the iron clattered into its holder and the shirt fell off the end of the board to the floor; it didn’t matter, “now then it’s OK, you’re doing a great job there son, there’s no reason we can’t have a face with an upside down eye, it’s only a bit of fun.”

She had seen the disappointment flood his face knowing that in his world he had messed it up but all she could do was take his hand and guide the blade with him to bring out the face that resides in every pumpkin, which they did.

With the job done and a satisfactory result all round they both brought it to life with a small candle that Jake lit with a long taper through the creatures suitably haphazard nose above the gruesome grinning almost toothless mouth.

“Hot chocolate anyone?”

Jake smiled and leant into his mothers arms with a grin almost as big as the one he had helped to create.


Another stumble in life

Having an elderly parent there is always a degree of fear lurking at the back of your mind, this is one more.

The darkening skies from the ever-present shadow of death drew the horizon a little closer on this particular day. As if she knew it was coming, an increasingly vacant stare out to that encroaching gloom was beginning to cause some concern to both care staff and visiting family alike.

Through years of a naturally failing health, a certain amount had to be chalked up to human frailty in form and frame but at approaching 90 years of age, more and more was being accepted as just inevitable. The recurring factor was the distancing of response, no questions, no general chat just functional answers to repetitive enquiries each more difficult to pose under the circumstances.

It had all been seen before and to some extent was just part of it, life, another set of pills and signs of improvement would hopefully encourage a lift from the malaise that was more difficult to watch then endure; that was my ardent hope anyway.

The late-night telephone call to say that the paramedics were making their assessment pushed things over the edge, falling from mild concern to the unthinkable consequence; that day would come all too soon, it didn’t need heralding.

The guilt of no meaningful transport quashed all possibility of sleep but the drone of a voiceless television at lease created some distraction from the unknown possibilities. The phone just sat there bursting with silence, waiting for you to look away before it dealt its flavoured news and blind gamble; would it be sweet or sour. You hoped for the sweet but in some quiet corner you could accept the sour.

Tasteless moist toast that grated in a tired throat was coughed down as the harsh ringing was perfectly ill-timed.

Another water infection only extending up to the kidneys this time would no-doubt mean weeks of hospital visits to a mind that was in some other dimension for the duration until the medical marvels worked their magic and once more life was preserved forcing the shadow to retreat once more towards the horizon, only not as far this time to continue its watch over a known but unacknowledged future; who could say if was right or even fair.


Painless Agony

99 words that speak quietly of a dark night

 The night wasn’t there. The sleep wasn’t protecting me. The smooth-faced young warder was harvesting newly formed skin from my raw back; I was past screaming.

Working a hand loose I grabbed that distracted face as it concentrated on peeling my epidermis. Catching a finger through his large earring, he was incapacitated with the pain and I made it clear that I wanted out.

Staggering from weakness, hanging onto muscular shoulders, we moved awkwardly towards the brightness of our escape.

The alarm went off at the side of my bed and I shuddered myself out of the nightmare.


Painless Agony


The second of the series, the nights draw in and there’s a nip in the evening air

Bright blooms turn slowly more dark, full and rich,seasons1Autumn
into every corner, across expanse, in hollow, crag and ditch,
Summer’s now slid away to its older, more sumptuous bother,
in the rich family of earth’s seasons, where nature is its mother. 

Colours change to deep gold, russet brown and ripe red,
and you feel an ethereal need to spend a little longer in a warm bed,
misty mornings murk is somehow now far less inviting,
everything seems to feel the need, to indulge in contest and fighting.

Stags bellow deep and stallions throw high sharp edged whinny,
as they round you their herds, every last jack and jenny
migratory birds have a hankering, for far more of their food stuffs,
filling their breast out with it all, from geese, right down to the small chuffs. 

In house, washing is now more often dried in front of the fire
because with cool days, sun damp, the lawn now is reverting to mire,
the door mat takes a beating from ever muddy and wet feet,
but you insist that they get wiped, shoes left in the hall, before you take your seat. 

Flowers in the main, will soon be slipping right over,
but on the bright side, cool days slow down growth of pretty, but invading clover,
but its that time to accept it and attend to the veg beds,
there is still much to take, or the harvest to find shelter and pot luck in the sheds. 

For those that avoid, such forms of outside cultivation,
it may be time for just one more, perhaps more active type of vacation,
perhaps to one of the many spectacular, multi coloured foreign vistas,
or perhaps a leisurely short break, maybe to the least seen of your sisters. 

One more delight is left, as it will soon be bonfire night,
collecting wood, building high, anticipating its ever inveigling sight,
hot dogs, onions, soup, thick and steaming you keep it in hand,
to warm you through as you amaze, at the fireworks announcing Autumns last stand. 

While you clear away the last, of the damp ash and stick,
you finish off the rest of the garden, find a lost football, take just one more kick,
boots now lined up like soldiers, on parade at the back door,
you swap you light mack for thick coat, and hang it away, not wanted any more. 

Hats and scarves soon become more of an essential,6
and unfortunately the rain is often rather menacingly, torrential,
but its been another time, onto which you just can’t hold,
so the season slips by for another year, at least this one ended bathed in gold.


Another night time falls

Is it me or does anyone else not look forward to night times?
I’m expecting that it’s just me.

Once more the silence speaks its insidious breathless jest into the very pith of your mind

The darkness it wears as a mantle threatens to starve you of oxygen to the point of panic

Its cold breath inhales the life from your lungs and the shaking returns to unfeeling limbs that vainly try to hold you safe

Your mouth opens to cry for desperate attention but the tears that roll down inflamed cheeks choke the words away

The silence wins yet again and you can only wait for the hope of a new day, the only comfort in the vastness of an empty bed, yourself

Even here comfort hides itself in the creases of recessive foetal folds and you know you really are….



From a Darkness

This is a piece that I wrote some time ago now as an insight on depression and near loss

From a Darkness that crowds out all reasonable sight,
you crave just the smallest chink of some life-giving light,
if not to complete you or bolster your sagging resolve,
at least it might warm you and make you involve
yourself into something constructive, definitely far more
than hiding all those festering fears behind your minds triple locked door.

From a Darkness that’s oppressive, empty, so cold and stark,
there has to be a way of re-modelling, your once envied mark,
even with all the troubles past, be they by honest curtailment,
who can live without some degree of comfort and mild entertainment
which once lifted your heart, lifted your mind, lifted your body your soul
and worked out a way of reaching, some more meaningful goal.

From a Darkness where light’s been almost snuffed out,
locked away not by choice, its loss only fuels your nagging doubt,
that were you ever someone who might have had any worth,
any kindness, if ever you did, distinctly now, there’s a deepening dearth.
But if you cut out some of your ‘things’, you could move past all that now,
but it’s still down to a strict society to dictates all your why, when and how.

From a Darkness where light struggles so hard to escape,
no matter how much you play it down, stand it up, or ape
in ways that seem so false, many crude, rude, insincere,
fed only by bravado and bluster but formulated from a very real fear
of the stronger side of your menacing, mangled, inverted mind,
that snuffs out what’s left of the goodness, leaving you blooded and blind.

From a Darkness, light somehow has to come through
to give you a life back with some validation, let you start again, anew,
plumb some depths, be more honest, if only it were for real,
some sort of life might be found, one that might even have an appeal,
or is the old one the better one, personable, at least more congenial
do you go with the safe? the straight? or the lifeless and the menial?

From a Darkness, Light, oh yes they tell you it’s all out there,
but it’ll get no closer if you just sit there, blank faced and stare,
but every effort and really trying finds you empty still firmly chained,
‘cus at the back of mind your inner truth is still intact, if firmly reined
to that cruel course you’ve long chosen, embedded now oh so deep,
it’s the way that you are, every minute, even through sleep.

From a Darkness, points of light still sharp if faint ever so tantalising,
but then they always were, no, your lost, to simple romanticising
of what others all managed, albeit with some pain, only to find,
that nothing matters, it comes as no blow but never good, never kind.
You make it seem that you’re still happy, but knowing that you’ve lost,
doomed to live your own life, cold, alone, and very singularly cursed.

From a Darkness, you sit there in the gloom,
it’s safer for all if you stay away, except for a few to whom,
you make out your coping just fine and in a perverse way you still are,
anyway who really needs things material, you’ve managed thus far.
But there In your darkness you steer away from the light,
at least sane society is saved from your malignancy and blight.
But the darkness still threatens, the lights, they seem to be gone
what’s left for you now, perhaps just the one final act and there, it’s done.

The Caller

This is the first of a number of pieces I have written in 99 words, an idea I have unashamedly cribbed from another well know blog, but then what is truly  new…. perhaps just different and I hope you enjoy them from time to time.

The tapping passed into reality and he came face to face with the swan’s black and orange beak beyond the boat’s glass where the water level gave level eye contact with the milky white creature.

Recognising the sideways nod, the man slid off the bunk and padded to the rear doors, still stiffly aroused.

Drawn not to the water but the shadowy towpath, the luminescent but unmistakable outline stretched its long neck tall as it transformed into a more familiar slim shape, a wide wing melted into an arm, a slender finger called them both back into the dream.The Caller

Saturday dies

Last thoughts for a dull day.

Saturday night slides inexorably towards its end

A solitary figure stares at the pitiless TV screen

Subtly is long-lost

The summer chill sets in and

He slides towards the shapely but cold duvet

Sleep eludes

Silence deafens

Staring eyes drill holes in the ceiling

The dawn is stagnant

Will it ever start?

Will it ever save him?

All will’s lost