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November 2009

 08 May 2012

Risk and Reward?

He counted his money. There wasn't much left, $3.88. It was all he had left after everything. He could eat a little better this week or... He sighed. I guess its macaroni and cheese or baked beans again all this week. The story he had written was eight pages long. To print it out would cost 10 cents a page, 80 cents all told. Postage was likely to be a dollar something this way and that. Well at least he already had two manila envelopes. Crap! He had forgotten about the cover letter that was another 10 cents.
He printed everything out at the Public Library. He did not have a computer of his own. He addressed one envelope to the magazine and one to himself, packed it all up. His stomach growled and he needed a cigarette.
On the way to the post office he past the tobacco shop, almost went in. He did not have enough for a pack of cigarettes but one of those little cigars would be nice. The ashtray out front had one nearly whole cigarette stuck in the sand. He looked around. Screw it! He took it. Manna from heaven. I must suffer for my art, he told himself. Yeah right.
Two blocks he was one block from the store if he turned right. He was very hungry and a chocolate bar would be very good. He passed it up.
At the post office he got everything underway. Well you have got to spend money to make money. Yeah let's hope so.
He got outside looked at his change, 18 cents. Not even enough for a cup of coffee. He had a long walk home. He had no money for gas in the car either.
I will suffer for my art. He told himself this repeatedly all that week as he ate either macaroni and cheese or baked beans. Some days he would have one for lunch and the other for supper. Some days the other way around. He did not know if he should laugh or cry. Spend money to make money this was his mantra, along with suffering for etc.
The magazine could take anywhere to six weeks to three months to respond. He waited. Each day the mail came a little slower. And he waited.
Thomas Ritchie


The words step out from heavy textured paper;

they mean business. No one should take them for 'small print.'
They are your insurance policy and in your face;

"we are in a 'fiduciary relationship'

and you had better spill the beans, tell all
and by no means imagine the worst:

so you are an accident of birth, yet somehow it gets

...better, and you happened to be not thinking
when you voted for Murphy's law, and had his chips.

Go on, make your list of trips and slips,

the casual mishaps, while tracing the lemming's route
to disaster, and sign. No leaky biros please

or next year's date."

Bruce Barnes

WHY?------NOV. 2009

I look backward and think

of both men and women,
who have given life and limb
to their ideals and beliefs
for the reasons of sacrifice
and their hopes for peace.

The soldiers, the airmen,

the sailors and merchant navy,
in this month of November
I place my poppy upon my breast
and feel proud to remember.

I shed my tears and

think of the heart - ache
that every family shares,
for war touches all our lives,
history walks beside us
the risks we are expected to endure.

But teaches nothing?

as long as we bear arms,
each year we remember
as day by day, our troops still leave
and too many boxes return.

And I, as a mother, wonder

"Is it worth the risk?"

Sally Flood
Newham Writers


Believe in Self Belief

Take a risk and leave the shadows

With vibrant clothes that sing out loud
Be yourself in rhythmic echoes
Emerge with strength, discard the shroud.

Draw your breath as the music grows

Play your cards, to the captive crowd
Take a risk and leave the shadows
With vibrant clothes that sing out loud.

Hail! The gift of melodic vows

With which we are richly endowed
Blow the whistle silvery proud
Hear the applause, embrace the bows
Take a risk and leave the shadows
With vibrant clothes that sing out loud.
Jan Hedger

Winter's Bride


Aborted marriage, flushed away

To chase the love that went astray
And all that's left from yesterday
Is her tarnished band of gold

She's not the first to feel like this

Betrayed by her own husband's kiss
A fractured heart, love's greatest risk
For her tarnished band of gold

Jagged dream shards pierce her sleep

Her loss is all she has to keep
When walked alone, the road is steep
With her tarnished band of gold

So love fell down before his pride

And hope drowned in the tears she cried
That was the fate of Winter's bride
And her tarnished band of gold

Ashley Jordan

A Far, Simpler Fate

One dark rural Ohio night, the low hum of car tires filled the ears of its college age passengers. As Darryl's Ford Escort carried he and his ex-roommate along the quiet roads that divided the cornfields near the Indiana border, Lyle's flashlight, poised over his notes, cast a dull glare on the dried stalks nearby.

"Dude," Darryl spoke. "Do you know where you're even going?"

"Kinda. I know this is the right road. My buddy told me to look for the wide, old tree at the intersection that had grown around part of a fence. Then, head North," Lyle said.

"How do you even know where North is?" Darryl replied.

"Man, it's Ohio. Everything's a grid. If you know where Lake Erie is, you always can find your way around." Lyle said. "Wait," Lyle quickly added, "pull into that driveway. I think this is it."

"Cool. Is this the place that's haunted with that ghost of a crazy lady?" Darryl asked.

"The story goes that she was taken to a windowless room in their basement and sealed her in." Lyle said. "She allegedly had lost her grip with reality, but if not, I bet she did being locked up like that."

"Well, grab the backpack and I can check the flashlights." Darryl said. "Let go find ourselves a ghost. Do you have the camera?"

"Yep, Let's go around back to see if there's a subtle way in." Lyle said.

Darryl and Lyle slowly made their way through the darkness. Their eyes still adjusting to the now-absent headlights. Darryl paused a moment, wondering if they should hide the car, but then changed his mind. No one would be wandering by a place this isolated, he thought. We'll be out of here by morning. Two rusted metal doors angled towards the basement lay at the back of the old farmhouse. Lyle stood before the doors a moment to rethink his next move.

"Are you sure you wanna go in?" Lyle asked. "This place looks pretty run down. We could get hurt."

"We'll be fine. If one of us gets hurt, the other can go for help." Darryl said. His thought lingered on the possibility of being alone and injured in this house, shuddered then chose to appear somewhat bolder than his friend. "Let's do this." Flashlight beam pierced the night but we soon absorbed by the basement darkness.

Dry, dusty air mixed with a slight heavy smell of oil filled the boys nostils as they descended down the concrete stairs inside. A thick layer of dust shown that it had been some time since anyone else had passed through this home. Lyle noticed some finger and handprints on the workbench on the far wall, but even dust had filled them. Remnants strewn around the basement gave glimpses into the lives there before them. Bicycle rims, old tools, unused lathing strips, old metal toys hung from the ceiling but the floor - other than dust - was uncluttered. As the sound of the wind caused a disconcerting buzz outside the house, the young men were startled and looked briefly towards the sound. Recognizing it, went back to their exploration.

"I think I found it. Over here." Darryl whispered loudly."This part of the wall looks different from what's around it."

"All right. What do you want me to do?" Lyle asked. "I haven't seen much of anything particularly scary. Should I find some chains to rattle. Maybe moan a bit."

"How about you find something that can help me break through this wall, Captain Obvious?" Darryl replied. "Let's see if we can wake the spirits and get some photos. Anyway, didja find anything?"

"Just a couple of crowbars." Lyle said. "We might be able to get through the block, especially if it's old."

The gentle taps of metal on concrete were soon traded for loud rings of hardened steel. Their eagerness focused so strongly on tearing down the wall, they failed to notice the ceiling above them weakening as the basement was being compromised. Large chunks of the wall, appearing as quick progress, soon changed the message to impending doom. The metal clangs were silenced by a large crash, low rumble then the gentle hiss of dust settling on the partially collapse basement. The night soon returned to its regular orchestra of noises that included the ocean-tide like pattern of the cornfield stalks in the wind.

The morning sunlight diluted the daunting presence of the house once again. The empty car sat at the end of the driveway, eventually catching the eye of a local policemen on patrol. Calls had come in the night before of a burst of noise, but a quick drive around town the night before yielded no obvious answers. There were no reports or eyewitnesses in town for any disruptions, so Officer Dalton would follow up in the morning. As he pulled into the drive behind the abandoned car, he called in the license plate. He made a quick check of the property and eventually found the remains of the young men. He returned to his car to call the coroner, although this looked like a clear case of trespassing gone awry. He had pulled what had obviously been a backpack that had belonged to one of the men. His curiosity drew him to look for some specific reason to explain what happened. The coroner, just then, pulled into the driveway.

"What's up, Mike." Officer Dalton asked. "Looks like we have two dead bodies in the basement. It's gonna take some time to clear, but we should be able to get them out. Looks like the part that's still standing should be o.k. for now."

"This isn't the old Treskow home, is it?" Mike asked. "The one that was supposed to be haunted, was it? I thought that had been torn down a few years ago. It was nearby, if I remember correctly."

"Yep. You got that right." Officer Dalton said. "I was trying to figure out what happened here. After all, I have to track down these kids' parents to let them know what happened." Officer Dalton said, grimacing at the thought of breaking such news. "The sad thing is that, this isn't the house they probably thought it was. This house wasn't haunted, as far as I know. These guys were lookin' for a supernatural thrill and got something a lot more natural than they bargained for."

"That's just sad." Mike said. "Well, I suppose we could call in my brother who's in the construction business to take a look at the structure before we go in. Let's check the barn to see if there are any shovels to start gettin' them boys out."

(c) Drew Spevak
Pottsville Open Writers Group



Diving headlong with vined cords

To ease your fall adrenalin pumping
As heartbeats racing and
Nerves anticipating

This natural rush between life and death

The flimsiest error could be fatal as
Junkies of life and exhilarating times
Are often so fine

With eyes out popping

And mouth agape
This body suspended
Like a puppet on a string

Dependant, vulnerable

Needed and reliant the
Risk is to do it without thought
Or reason take a chance and feel it
(c) Paul Evans
Stevenage Survivors

In whom do I trust?

Me mate and me

out on patrol
eyes peeled
for any unrest,
scanning the roof’s
for snipers.
A car cruises past
thumping hearts
till it speeds on by
danger imagined.
A rock – skirted
for fear it’s real,
every step
a threat.
A typical day in Iraq.
Then in a vision
comes a woman
in black,
laden with goods
fresh from
the market.
Weighed down
she stumbles
dropping her wares.
Quick as a flash,
my mate races -
across the dusty road.
I meet her look
stomach churning
something’s not right
something is wrong
the body is old
but the eyes are young.

I scream

as the
water melon
in his hand -
into fragments
of man – woman
into pulp of
flesh and bone.
I rock myself
to sleep
that night
full of
full of doubt.
TELL ME; how
can I defend
when I know not
who to trust?
TELL ME; how
can I fight
when I achieve no good?

TELL ME; how

can I fight
in a war that’s unjust?
HOW can I kill
a woman
in cold blood?
Answer me.
For I do not know
I just don’t know anymore
I just don’t know.

Footnote; Inspired after hearing a poem - written by Brian Turner (War poet) - which he read out on Poetry from the Front Line on Radio 4 – where the women and children you befriend one day could ‘dance on your grave tomorrow.’

Trust and risk - not too far apart from each other.

(c) Jan Hedger



It was Halloween

a risk at any time
for me to try to walk
on my new four wheel frame.

The whirr-rr of fireworks

flying past my window
reminding me of the times
I would watch my own children,
with sparklers and catherine wheels
attached to the garden wall
I would see the sparks fly
lighting up the London sky.

Tonight, I watch my neighbours'

children and grandchildren,
I open my garden door
"a risk" I will dare to take.
(c) Sally Flood
Newham Writers



What risks are we humans encountering simply by living on this Planet? Well, apart from the obvious ones like earthquakes and extreme weather, there are a host of others which many people do not recognise. For example, we are now wholly dependant on electromagnetic data storage; Now, if a very strong dose of solar radiation were to strike the Earth and overcome the magnetic field which normally prevents such an occurrence, all this data could conceivably become erased. This would mean, among many other others, no electricity, no ‘phone service, no airline or other transport systems and a total loss of all computer and internet services. Or, to put it simply, we would be back in the nineteenth century at a stroke. I have no idea what the chances are of this happening, but another potential disaster is going on now even as we speak. The magnetic field of the earth reverses itself every three to five thousand years and there are signs that such a reversal is in progress now. Apart from the obvious navigational problems, there is the added complication that it is this magnetism which prevents harmful cancer causing radiation from reaching the earth’s surface. As it decays to virtually nothing before building up to the reversed state, all this highly lethal radiation will strike the surface resulting in the decimation of the Human Race and the Animal Kingdom. The Pundits do say, however, that the Human Race will survive to rebuild after the reversal.

At the moment we have all this kerfuffle about global warming. Now as our atmosphere is composed seventy nine percent nitrogen, twenty percent oxygen and only zero point zero four percent carbon dioxide, I really cannot understand how adding to a very minor gas would cause such problems. It strikes me that scientists support this popular myth in order to retain their comfortable research positions in the universities and politicians see it as a vote winner. Maybe I am missing something, but I honestly believe that this climate change is due to other factors of which we are currently unaware. After all, going back to the hole in the ozone layer a few years ago, how can we be certain that this is not a regularly recurring phenomenon? After all this could have been the first time that the technology had been developed for us to observe it.

How can Mankind have the audacity to assume he can overcome the forces of nature? The measures being taken to reduce carbon dioxide are laughable! Electric cars? Wow!! Where does the electricity come from in the first place? Mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels of course. Hydrogen cars? In the context of carbon dioxide emission prevention, a total joke There is very little free hydrogen in the atmosphere and to produce it a process called electrolysis is used where water is split into it’s two components. This consumes considerable quantities of electricity and then what happens? It is burnt in an auto engine and produces the water with which we started!

I have drifted away from the original concept of this essay, but perhaps, dear reader, you will be a little more aware what a risky place is this Planet of ours.

(c) Henry Dallimore


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