A Network of Writing and Community Publishers

February 2011

04 May 2012


Ahhh!!! not football

Does an obsession for football turn into a compulsion? I think it does.

I regard myself as a football widow in a huge way. My husband has always loved football but it seems to be an even bigger part of his life now than his family ever will be. Let me tell you a story, all of which is true. Sorry to say. It started about 14 maybe 15 years ago that hubby used to follow his local football team down in London every Saturday.

Sometimes the matches were played at home while others were played further away and would take hubby away for the whole day and into the evenings every other week. As the years rolled by and two children came along, football dominated his life more and more. When we moved from London to Hastings the compulsion for more and more football grew and grew. Not only for the usual Saturday matches, but now also midweek matches happened too. Occasionly he'd go straight from work to the match if it was near London where he works. He wouldn't get home till late and the kids were asleep. He'd often come home from football and put football on the t.v. If the local match had been posponed because of bad weather then him and his friends would look for any other match around in which they could go to. Does this count as compulsion or is he just nuts? There's even more football on when the world cup comes on as he'll watch every game possible. He has to watch games at home alone as the rest of us hate it. He's always ready to talk football to anyone we meet when out. If any of my friends like football he talk about it for as long as possible to them. He keeps all the programmes from every match he's been to in a cupboard in the house. He doesn't understand why I don't like it. I don't understand why he does so passionatly. He thinks that because it's played all over the world that everyone should love it too. Today he even told me he had a dream about football. How very sad.

Debbie Feltz

Taste And See

Without any impulses impulsively rising;
or creative jerks creatively calling;
knees would not bend,nor bones be broken.
Nothing would start,nothing would end;
we'd all be blank pages with nothing written.

Adrenalin pounding,decision making;
pumping blood from the heart
into body starved of attention
inhaling stages of growth
before the shroad clasps him to itself
How will this be recorded on his epitaph?

Thoughts and emotions elaborate actions;
a drunkards gait; a gamblers fate;
a injured horse on the Aintree course.

Out with a bunjee, Take to the sky,
let the people ask them why
they all refuse to look down,
is it because the look for a crown?
To underline a winning mentality;
above dirge and dross of reality.

Take a bite - have a sip
it's the start - of one drip
that might - like a flood
leads to a flow - in which a body -
should not go - moderation -
therefore abstain - in the long term -
causes less pain.

That's really dull - he replies -
types of food - we did try -
spat out tastes - decided we hated -
looked forward to favorites -
when we waited. - Each was formed -
with a unique flavour - which our taste buds -
were designed to savour.

compulsive indulgence - a bend in the road -
a waiting victim - for bullies to goad. -
A banqueting feast - creates a scene -
cakes and truffles - a ruptured spleen........

Hungry mouths have been fed;
last few words I thee wed.

Authors Note:
By way of explanation verse 1 is a general observation on compulsion which leads on to a brief picture of a man affected by the same in verse 2. The third verse gives three examples of those who may have a compulsion followed by the experience of someone who uses heights as their inspiration. The longest section at the end is a conversation between two people in poetic form who hold different views on compulsion with a twist at the end from an observer. I am indebted to my fellow writers; Andrew,Sheena and Zaida who suggested an explanation for this piece.

Simon Walker
Goodmayes Writers

A Warriors Compulsion.

What pulls me back to that place?
Where the sun burns on my face,
And the sand hides many dangers,
Put there by bitter strangers.

There is a compulsion to go back there,
Where every step is to be taken with care,
The sweat trickles not just from the heat,
Thinking of the enemies we try and defeat.

To be there to do what we trained for,
To give freedom to who had none before,
This is the feeling that I get,
Like needing another cigarette.

Trying to get rid of these temptations,
And stating with our close relations,
But always thinking of patrolling the underbrush,
And looking for that eventual adrenaline rush.

22 Feb 11.
Alex Roissetter
Forces Poetry

Click, click, click

Click, click, click
goes fountain pen.
I ignore it.
Typing slows down,
more errors occur.
Click, click, click.
Concentrate, think
about something else;
or use a pencil.
Click, click, click.
I chew on pencil.
Do not eat a lead.
I chew and spit
out splinters.
Click, click, click.
becomes obsession.
If I'll hear
click, click, click
one more time
I shall scream.
I couldn't ressist.
Click, click, click.

Marie Neumann

Compulsion - the need, the must
In compulsion you cannot trust.
Free me from this need at great speed.
I cannot live, I will not strive
I do not need compulsion to stay alive.
Left sock first, then the right,
Right shoe next, do not fight.
Teeth to brush, hair to comb
When will everybody come home?
Jackie Primett
Stevenage Surviors Poetry

Phil won’t, Phil does, Phil wins

“Who? Who’s died?” Phil carried on reading his yachting magazine.

Susan repeated, “Arthur.”

“Arthur?” Phil sipped his coffee.

“Elaine’s father.”


“My sister-in-law.”

“Ah. Was he ill?”

“I told you, weeks ago.” Chewing on a corner of toast behind his magazine, Phil could feel Susan’s eyes on him. She continued, “I’ll check when the funeral is.”

“Are you sending flowers?” Still holding the magazine, Phil sprinkled salt on his boiled egg.

“We’re going to the funeral.”

“Do you have to?” Phil looked at his egg. Realising there was no way he could eat it without putting down the magazine and confronting her, he opted for another bite of toast.

“We have to.”

“Not me. I don’t know the man.”

“We met him and Shirley at my brother’s wedding.”

“Okay, but that doesn’t mean I know him.”

“You talked to him for hours. About boats. You even invited them to join us on Sexy Susan, sailing to the Channel Islands. That constitutes knowing them.”

“Not really. They didn’t come.”

“Look. We are all going to the funeral, and that’s final.”

“The twins as well?”

“Of course.”

“They’re teenagers. A funeral will upset them.”

“Nonsense. They’ll love meeting their cousins.”

“Oh.” Phil put down the magazine and finished his egg.


“Phil dear, that was Elaine. The funeral’s a week on Wednesday.”

Phil continued to watch Man U versus Liverpool. Happily Liverpool was losing.

“Did you hear what I said?”

“What?” He took a swig of Beck’s.

“Funeral. Arthur. Week Wednesday.”

Man U was about to score again.

“Did you hear me?”

Phil kept his eyes on the screen. “Yep.”

“Do I need to take your dark suit to the cleaners?”

“What for?”

“I’ll take that as a yes.” Susan sat down opposite him. She put her cup and saucer on the coffee table and pulled it closer. Phil’s Beck’s was now out of reach. He decided it would not be politic to tug the coffee table back.

“Tell your partner you’re taking the day off.”

“The day off? Why do I need a day off?”

“Arthur’s funeral.”

“I thought it was you going.”

“So are you.”

“No. He’s not a relation.”

“He’s my sister-in-law’s father. I’m going to his funeral, and you’re coming with me.”

Phil gave up on the game; the result was a foregone conclusion. “I don’t see any need. You can represent both of us.”

“Just arrange the day off. I will take your suit to the cleaners; I will iron your white shirt; I will press your black tie; I will even clean your bloody black shoes. I will put out clean underwear and black socks. All you’ll have to do is put them on and get in the car. I will drive. You can listen to sport or read your jolly boating magazine. But you will be there.”

“It’s not a boating magazine, it’s a yachting magazine.”

“Yachting, boating. Same thing.”

“I’m a yachtsman, not a boatman. And if I’ve got to take a day off, I’d rather be out on Sexy Susan.”


Just then his Blackberry rang.

“Ah. Derek here. The Penford contract.” Since his partner tended to witter on, Phil immediately switched off his brain, though he conceded he was a great dealmaker. “Look here,” Derek continued. “I think it would be better if I handled the Penford negotiations. I’ll tell them you’re in New York or something.”

Phil jerked his brain back to life. “I’d like to be there.”

“So we’re agreed.”

“No we’re not...” Phil started to say, but Derek had rung off.


“What are you doing, dear?” Susan, wearing a black dress, stared at him from the mirror of their en-suite. She was inserting earrings, pendant black onyx with a cluster of tiny diamonds.

“What’s it look like? Getting dressed.”

“Not in that.”

“Why not?”

“You’re not going to work. Your clothes are on the bed.”

“What d’you mean? I can’t just take a day off.”

“It’s Arthur’s funeral. Put on your dark suit, black tie and black shoes.” She came and stood directly in front of him.

“Arthur’s funeral? I’m not going to Arthur’s funeral.”

“You are. We all are.”

“Ryan and Darren as well?”

“They’re already in their suits.”

“What about school?”

“I’ve taken them out for the day. Now get dressed.”

“But I haven’t arranged a day off.”

“I knew you wouldn’t. So I phoned Derek.”

“You phoned my partner to arrange me a day off? We’re finalising the million plus Penford contract today. The staff will think me a complete idiot.”

“I’ll keep it secret. But I told him how upset you are about your sailing partner’s death. He was actually quite pleased. He said the Penford negotiations will go better without you.”


“He said you’re better at organisation than negotiation.”

“My god, you interfering old....”

“Don’t say it. In fact, don’t even think it.”

“I don’t want to go. I hate funerals.”

“It’s about respect for the dead.”

“They’re past caring. What’s it matter?”

“It’s important for the surviving relatives.” She paused, and then, enunciating slowly and very clearly, said, “You - will – be - there.”

“I won’t go. You go. Tell Shirley funerals upset me.”


He looked at her. She stared straight back.

“I’d hate to use compulsion.”

“You can’t make me.”

“No?” She paused, still looking straight at him. “You know Sexy Susan you think you own?”

“Sexy Susan? What do you mean, I think I own?”

“Obviously you don’t remember. You tried for a loan but they said you were overextended financially. The loan’s in my name, and so is Sexy Susan.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Try me.”

They stood, glaring. Susan had never maintained eye contact for so long. In a gunfight he knew she would be faster on the draw. He looked away.

“Now put on that suit and get in the car. Your latest boating –
yachting - magazine arrived today, so you can read it as we go.”


“What did you think of the service?” The woman looked in her late twenties and, while she seemed familiar, Phil had difficulty placing her.

“Not sure. I don’t attend many funerals.”

“I thought the priest’s remarks were a bit off. He can’t have known Dad very well.”

“Mm. Sorry, but should I know you?”

“I’m Elaine, your brother-in-law’s wife. Arthur’s daughter.”

“Oh yes. Yes, of course.” Too late, Phil felt embarrassed.

“I think you have more of a thing about boats than relations.” She indicated his untouched glass. “Do you like that?”

“It’s okay.”

“Mum’s only offering wine or sherry, and her taste in both is awful. You look more of a beer person, or maybe scotch.”

“I’ll manage.”

“There isn’t any beer, but Dad was partial to single malts. He’s past minding if I give you some.”

“Oh, thank you. That’s very kind.”

“Won’t be a sec.”

Phil looked round the room. Susan was talking to Arthur’s not-so-grieving widow. There were some small children running around, probably Susan’s nephews and nieces. The twins were chatting to two
very pretty teenage girls.

Elaine reappeared. Phil decided she was probably older than he thought. She was carrying a tumbler and three bottles.

“There’s a twenty-five year old Macallan, a twelve year old Glenmorangie, or a thirty year old Glenfiddich. Which would you like first?”


“Try the Glenmorangie. Can you please hold these?” Elaine handed him
two of the bottles. She used her teeth to uncap the Glenmorangie, and
then filled the tumbler.

“Hey! Steady on!”

“Susan drove down; she can drive back.”

Phil decided perhaps this funeral would not be such a bore after all, especially when his boys came over, accompanied by the two pretty girls.

“Hi Dad. Enjoying the scotch?” Ryan asked.

“Elaine told us to look after you,” the blonde girl said.

“She said you liked single malt whisky.” The dark-haired one waved bottles.

“She told us to keep topping you up,” the blonde one added.

He was unsure who they were and was about to suggest the boys introduce him, when the blonde girl asked, “Is your boat really called Sexy Susan?” He saw she was holding Ryan’s hand.

“How do you know about my yacht?”

“Ryan told us,” the other one said.

“Darren said it’s a proper yacht, and it sleeps eight.”

“Well, it’s a bit cramped if you try to sleep eight up as four berths are in the saloon, but it’s okay for six,” Phil told them.

“Perfect. I’ve never slept on a boat.”

“Do you think we could go out on her sometime?” the blonde girl asked.

“I’m not sure how sleeping arrangements...”

“Please,” Darren cut in.

“I’m just thinking what your mother...” Phil began to say.

“Dad!” Ryan glared.

“We would be more than happy to entertain your sons while onboard.”

“Go on, Dad.” Darren’s arm was round the dark-haired girl. “It’d be such fun. Not just boring old you and Mum.”

In his semi-inebriated state, Phil realised he had consented to taking two unknown teenage girls on a weekend trip along with his sons, on a
boat with only two double cabins. He wondered whether Susan would
murder him just for agreeing, or wait until the trip was over.


Several tumblers of different whiskies later, Susan came up to him.

“How much have you had to drink? You look totally out of it. Didn’t you have anything to eat?”

“I was feeling a bit emotional about the occasion,” he lied.

“You mean tired and emotional.”

“Tired and emotional?”

“Private Eye euphemism for drunk. I think you should get in the car
before Shirley sees you. By the way, what did Elaine want with the car

“Haven’t a clue. Why not ask her?”

“She was being a bit secretive. I think she wanted to give you something of Arthur’s.”

“She didn’t tell me anything.”

“I’m not surprised. In your state you probably wouldn’t have taken it in.”


Phil woke when Susan stopped the car. The boys scrambled out and ran straight upstairs, presumably to divest themselves of their suits.

“I’ll make some coffee to bring you round,” Susan told him. “And thank
you for coming. I did appreciate it.” She smiled at him. Phil tried to smile back, but in his mind was the threat she had used to force his attendance.

Phil sat over strong black coffee and smoked salmon sandwiches which
Susan had prepared to mop up his alcohol, and was not really listening
while she chattered on about people at the funeral. Until that is, she said, “I think it was very considerate of you agreeing to take Deborah and Rebecca for a weekend with the twins on Sexy Susan.”

“I did? Who are Deborah and Rebecca?”

“Elaine’s nieces. You were talking to them at the party.”

“Oh. Is that who they were?”

“You’d know if you hadn’t drunk so much. I think they rather fancy our boys.”

“Maybe it’s the yacht.”

“I think you’ll find it’s the boys are the attraction. The boat’s just a bonus.”

“Talking of the boat, I mean yacht.” He looked at her, but she had not
noticed his slip. He continued, “You wouldn’t really have carried out
that threat, would you?”

“You want to know, next time call my bluff.” Unblinking, she stared straight at him.

Phil decided not to pursue the subject, then remembered Susan saying
something about Elaine and car keys. Having revived somewhat, he went to the garage and opened the boot of Susan’s Merc coupé. Inside were three cases of scotch. Two were full, while the third held half-a-dozen bottles. Elaine had attached a card. It read:

Dad couldn’t take this with him.

Deborah and Rebecca looking forward to sailing trip.

They think you’re wonderful!

Just then his Blackberry beeped. Derek’s text read, “Penford contract agreed. £2.1m. Buy a bigger yacht?”

Phil felt a warm glow. Not a bad result really... happy family... bigger yacht with Sky Sports on satellite... two-and-a-half cases of single malt.

John Malcomson
Heeley Writers


Each year around this time
I feel the need to write a rhyme
one which tells my turtle dove
of all my everlasting love
and talks of violets and roses
and us entwined in unlikely poses.

It must especially rhyme with nine
and hopefully be a bit divine
not at all Trappistine,
equine, bovine or malign,
in any way, instead it must say
something soothing, calamine
something that would define
what will assign
to me what I ask to be mine.

Each year mustn't be the same
as any sent before in the name
of the addressee.
This was fine
when in my teens I wrote nine
such rhymes, all really genuine
with the energy of a turbine
hotted up and sanguine
super macho masculine
whether in the sunshine
or softly bathed in moonshine
and, just a teansy bit Philistine,
except the one to Caroline.

That one was always fine,
always of exemplary design
expressing adamantine
resolve, diaminitine grit
I had something in mind
But when teacher made the find
I spent time with headmaster
heart beating a little faster
something I should not have said
there were rhymes in there with bed,
and jet propulsion
and he, filled with revulsion
and me, near convulsion
when I heard the word expulsion

I got a warning, not benign,
I must not undermine
the school
It made me feel like I was a fool

But crumpled note “see you at nine
at the place, and I'll be thine”
signed Caroline
brought the shine back to mine
wide, wide eyes, I saw the prize.

When we met at the place
it seemed the whole human race
had turned up for a cup
of coffee. 'Course they would be there
we weren't the only pair
carpeted that day
carpeted not in the way
we wanted, me and Caroline
We'd other things in min'
but I was left alone to pine
when her Dad's job went transmarine
and I lost my Caroline
to some riparian riverine
when they moved to Newcastle-on-Tyne

Now that memory I consign
to the past, I no longer I pine
for Caroline
No longer write nine
just the one, but for the fortieth time
to rhyme with nine
trying not to reassign
the words. I haven't the wit
I need that youthful diamantine grit
and adamantine resolve
to finally solve
where is the sunshine?
Where is the moonshine?

Now I colour with emulsion
so that creates a fine divulsion
I write a lovely introduction
and begin the reconstruction
of my compulsion,
exercise my impulsion
prevent my convulsion
and my expulsion
so that I may recline
in my declin-
ing years,
have no fears
'Cos when I get home very late
clearly gone one over the eight
I say “Yes Darlin', that makes nine,
Will you be my Valentine?”

Dave Chambers
Newham Writers Workshop


The paint swept across the easel
Frenetic, wild, and out of control
Imagining a canvas there…
There being none;
Its tears fell to the floor
Pooling into a cascade of colour
On the cold, stone tiles
Of the deserted artists studio

Jan Hedger


They are not blanks, loaded in language's gun
to the head: needs must, ought to, have got to,
and, of course, you've no choice. Ammo enough
for a gattling gun, with you at the messy
end of life's firing squad. El Presidente might
see his way to signing the pardon, freeing you
to the land of Manyana and couch potatoes,
but he's too busy for words,..expletive
and his sombrero is off in a cloud of dust.
But you wait, the trickle of sweat that makes time,
dries, and you wonder how often words practice,
because they are bloody bad shots, pinging
into the door you stand by, taking out the lock,
so it swings open; you make your excuses and leave.

bruce barnes


Click, click, click, click;
Clicking the top of my ball point pen.
I succumb with my thumb time and again.
With cartridge protruding, then loudly retracting
The people around find me rude and distracting.
A colleague once grabbed my pen and she threw it.
If I had a pencil I’m sure I would chew it
For I have to play with what I use to write,
Though I put it away when I go home at night.
But each day I arrive at my office and then:
Click, click, click, click;
Clicking away on my ball point pen.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers


You want me to fly.
I am already flying.
Upside down, sideways
and loosing myself
in the deep of the sky.
So dizzy
I do not recognize,
where is the ground.
I am flying, flying
farther from reality,
crashing to the ground
with all bones unbroken.
It was only my mind
swollen like big balloon
landing in the parking lot
and bouncing
on the sidewalk.
A tune about loneliness,
about solitude,
about unwritten song,
about flying,
is ringing in my ears
without words.

Marie Neumann

Too Young

Please Sir, don’t make me do this
He’s my mate, he’s only young Sir
He broke the rules lad
And sentence is passed
Now come on soldier
Move along there
But, me legs won’t move Sir
I’m shaking, look
What are you soldier
Man or mouse?
I’m neither man nor mouse Sir
I am just a boy, a boy
Just like my brother Sir
Then aim true lad
And spare him pain
Soldier, cock that rifle
Or you’ll find yourself
Against that wall
But, but Sir I can’t see
I’m blinded Sir
Enough now soldier
Pull that trigger
And that my boy


I am sorry, so sorry mate…
Was the last cry he uttered
As he fell by the hand,
Of his own gun
Never to be a man


‘Shot at Dawn’ was the phase given to the execution of those labelled as cowards on the battlefields of World War One.

These brave young men were not cowards, they were suffering the devastating effects of shell-shock – now known to be PTSD.

Some were no more than boys, thrust into the horror of trench warfare. Amidst the mud, the pain and the daily sight of death, these young minds were emotionally shattered.

Often used an example, as a warning to others and with an illegal court martial, they were shot by their own unit, forced to make up the dawn firing squad.

Some could not live with their guilt.

After a relentless campaign by many committed to the cause, all 306 soldiers of the First World War that were shot at dawn for cowardice or desertion, have now been granted posthumous pardons.

Jan Hedger


I lie upon my bed
The luminous face of the clock
Watches me from the shadows.

My eyes refuse to close
The ticking of time
Hypnotises and refuses to stop.

I have served my time
I no longer have to be ruled by this tyrant
But the ticking won’t stop.

Retirement, Release from
watching the clock on the wall
Telling me when and what to do.

But old habits never die
I need to hear the time pass
Without it, I am lost.



Words that disturb
Thoughts that destroy
Run through my mind
To taunt and annoy.

I rise from my bed
With paper and pen
This is the time
To scribble again.

Compelled against will
How can I sleep?
Must capture the rhyme
In my mind running deep.

Like a river that bubbles
Bursts like a dam
Captures the moment
Wherever I am.



She really couldn’t help it;
She had to catch the mouse.
It was in her nature;
She chased it through the house.
She trapped it in a corner
And bit it on the head,
Then proudly placed it at my feet
To prove that it was dead.
She looked at me defiantly,
Then jumped onto my lap
And then she curled up in a ball
And had a little nap.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers


I take the broom
and sweep the dying leaves
the cat eyes me with disdain.

The Kerria that covered the wall
has withered neath the frost
no sign of Clematis.

High above where I can’t reach
plants clutter the gutter.

If only I could lift my arm
to cut the binding branch
that holds tight and taunts.

I have this compulsion
to do the things I used to.

The hoover stands idle
watches me from its corner
while I push the carpet sweeper
that has no impact.

Dust settles in places
high above the norm,
grease clings to backs
and stains the walls.

And I
knowing I can’t , still must.

Newham Writers

The Jury

They put me on a jury;
Compelled to serve my time.
I said that I would string them up
If they could prove the crime.

The judge was a Recorder,
A stand-in I presume.
In order to keep order
She banned titters from the room.

The witnesses were nervous,
The jury was as well.
The prisoners were downcast.
Were they guilty, who could tell?

But then it all got boring
And as the Counsel fought,
I slept and started snoring,
So I got, “Contempt of Court.”

The jury was disbanded.
They tried the case again
And they will never have me back.
Oh what a bloody shame!

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

Under The Stairs (Compulsion)

I sat on the edge of my bed and I watched the silver blade of the knife glinting in the sun that shone through the window. I twisted the black handle round and round in my hands, watching the shadows of the blade reflecting on the ceiling.

Thoughts raced through my mind, over and over like a film. I ran my fingertips across the blade and in my mind her voice came to taunt me. I was truly scared it felt like hell had descended upon me. The pain in my head and insides intensified. I want to escape from the sound of her voice. I want to run, run from this room forever.

If only I could tell her how I really feel. Tell her the truth. She doesn’t know what the truth is stuck in a haze of alcohol day after day.

She doesn’t know what’s happening to me, she’s stuck, rooted, tied up in her own world.

I can’t remember when I first noticed my mother having a love affair with the bottle, but I do remember lying in bed listening to the chinking of bottles when she rummaged in the cupboard under the stairs.

Sue Rabbett

Man or Beast

Predator stalking
Driven by pure compulsion
To bring its prey down.

Jan Hedger

One Voice

The land is dry and barren,
grazed by constant hunger.
The atmosphere is restless
rippling through; infectious.

I feel it in vibration
of the hardened earth.
I hear it from deep throat
calling of communication.

Instinct strong, I know it’s
time to be moving on, for
my calf cannot grow here
and I cannot stay alone.

Herds converge, buffering,
masking the young.
Swollen in number, we
traverse the African plain.

Amid a cacophony of panic,
I arrive at the Mara River.
Murky and flowing fast,
dust rising, choking, beneath
the scorched cloudless sky.

Hemmed in by stamping hooves,
I freeze. Sheer trepidation alone
holds me back from the water.
Bank too steep, drop too vast
only the foolhardy cross here.

A thousand eyes roll; anxious.
Except, for the voracious eyes
of our jaw salivating predators
Waiting to twist and thrash, and
tear us apart limb from limb.

Others wait in ambush, skulking
sandy, indistinct in the scrub-land
weakness their last vestige of food,
before once more we return en masse
to grace their rain refreshed land.

Survival bites, and I follow the tide
of steaming sinew further down river,
to a less precipitous approach.
The queue is noisy and impatient,
with bodies jostling for supremacy.

Suddenly, I am at the front, knees
buckling in the pressing weight
of Wildebeest and Zebra. The lighter,
Gazelles choosing their own path.
We all know what we have to do.

Mustering my hidden courage
I leap into the swirling melee;
galloping, legs flaying; ignoring
the debris of trampled muscle,
I focus only, on the bank ahead.

Midstream, I lose my footing.
Awash in the promise of death
I kick hard against the current.
The churning silted water;
floods my fully-flared muzzle.

With neck at fullest stretch
and channelling all abject fear
I strain for life-breathing air,
as my scrabbling feet, regain
the grip, of the solid river bed.

Grateful for release, and
with three reaching strides
I make it to the other side,
scrambling onto dry land.

I hear a desperate cry
individual from the rest.
Lost calf to a mother
survived to be reunited.

Joining the exodus
of the cloven snake line
we travel the way of our
ancestors to the new grass.

Moving, transient
following the rains
whilst he, will carve
his own charted path.

Jan Hedger

Bottle Alley

They hide from the sun
They hide from themselves
They hide in a bottle
In denial
Who stole their lives?
In Bottle Alley
With shattered glass
Of shattered lives
They sit.

Bottle Alley is an area of St Leonards, where vagrant alcoholics used to congregate. It takes its name from pieces of coloured glass decoratively inserted into its back wall. I make no apologies for its inclusion in this book; as quoted by Tom O’Brien writer of the play ‘Down Bottle Alley’ (adapted from the book ‘My Wretched Alcoholism: This Damned Puppeteer’ by Brian  Charles Harding) – ‘there are similar places – and similar people – in every town’.

Jan Hedger

A Wreath of Teddy Bears

They all think I like my life
Bound as I am, by manicured front gardens
And uniformed red brick drives.
Everything dusted and polished by the person,
That is the\opposite of me; a body outside of itself.
My hate transcends itself into the pummelling,
Of cushions; in which I see their faces
Condescending in misguided ignorance.


Toy’s inanimate without a guiding hand,
See me alone for the person I have become
A pitied orange; lost amid a bowl of ripe young fruit
Dried, shrivelled – devoid of its life sustaining juice.
With a mind damaged in a breakdown of confusion
Segmented, compartmentalised with no semblance of order.


My eyes flick in silent annoyance; taking in,
In one sweep, the scattered cornflakes, a dropped schoolbook,
Lipstick smeared baby blush pink on the hall mirror.


The book lies agape, an exercise in stick figures,
Of tangled straight lines, yet somehow disjointed
Set apart, the balance all wrong. The voice in my head,
Screams ‘where is the justice in this life of non reality!
I call out in despair to the alien reflection. ‘Help me’.


The figures cross the page, forming a perfect family.
I fling the book from me in abject horror and revulsion
The ink now smudged by my helpless tears
Tears full of repressed guilt; spinning from eyes,
That see no future, no way ahead, no way out.


There HAS TO BE, a better place; an escape,
From this unremitting, torturous pain of false pretence.
A deathly calm; stills my shaking body.
I know now what must be done.


The cushions sit plumped and whole,
Tonight; as the house breathes in suppression.
Its walls the only witness to my emergence,
From the chrysalis of self imposition.
I became a man again! I took control.
I made the decision. I made their choice.


Dazzling lights play shadows on the wall
Unconsciousness; calling.
Incessant hammering on the door
Unconsciousness; deepening.
Concerned voices, rising, rising; anger.
I slip into a disturbed peace
It was all, all too late.
It was always too late.

Jan Hedger


I walk along the side walk see posts in a line
I feel that they've been put there and that they are mine.

I stand near the closest ready to jump right through the air
Playing a quick game of leap frog and let the wind run through my hair.
One leap, two leap, three leap and four
I come to the end of them, wishing there were more.

My destination was the park where I go every day
If someone tells me stop I say no way.

There is so much around it but there was a tree
I consider the highest was planted just for me.

When I get up to it there's something I must do
Climb up as high as I can to see the lovely view.

After a few minutes of looking around
I decide that it is time to climb back to the ground.

Then I go back home, but on the way there
But I like it a thrilling way, some dangers getting every where.

Cars may be fast on the road that is run
I cross the road running, finding it such fun.

I might get run over or to the other side
But I don't care just let them come, I will not hide.

All the thrills I've done it shows I'm out of breath
Running and that climbing facing a near death.

I'll find some more tomorrow, something wild to try
I'll find these and I don't care if there's a chance I'll die.

Jamie Fidgett



She needs to see the blood
To know that she still lives
She cuts, sees it welling
Bulging with every pulse
Sticky, scarlet trail
Leading from her core
Out to the world
And on to the floor.


It mesmerises her
Surging with every beat
Riding on the rhythm
Of her breaking heart
She stares dully down
Her life's fluid pool
Congeals at her feet
The air turns it to rust


The pressure inside her
Is dissipating
Diminishing her pain
The knife has fulfilled
Its promise of release
And all her hidden hurts
Secrets she could not keep
Are painted in red.


Ashley Jordan


Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: I used to be a footie fan - but I grew up ha, ha. Good challenge entry Debbie!

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Simon - such clever construction - will re visit this piece, there is so much in it to be extracted.

Your Name: Antony May
Your Comment: Good to see such a lot of writing again this month!
I did write something myself John but it was based on my interest in the Jack The Ripper murders and thus isn't suitable for this website.
Thanks for the inspiration though!

Your Comment: WELCOME ALEX
looking at feelings from the other side is always welcome, what a world
to live in, I know a young man waiting to join up, he has been training
since schooldays, I asked his mother how she felt, she said coming from a
military background she expected it, compulsion is a strange bedfellow,
I enjoyed your poem look forward to more

Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Your Comment: Hey Alex! Great to read your writing on TheFED website.  Hope we'll be seeing much more of you, now we've hooked you in :-)

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Cheers for posting on the challenge Alex!
V G poem - exploring a soldiers feelings with honesty.

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Great story John - could just see the whole scenario!Or should I say 'here it' it smacked of a rather decent radio play!
Dave your ability and humour - shines once again! Wordsmith!

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: I know what you mean Marie! Arrghhh!
Good writing!

Your Name: Maia
Your Comment: Troubadours!

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Very powerful Marie,

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Both of your contributions did Andrew! Thanks for the 'titters'! Great metre!  Sally - written with perception - very clever use of thoughts into words!

Your Comment: Compulsion has produced some wonderful pieces of writing, also some sad memories, Thank you all for sharing, I laughed at Andrew's Jury, SALLY

Your Name: Andrew Diamond
Your Comment: Great writing from everyone on a very serious subject, so I thought "The Jury" would lighten things up a bit.

Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Your Comment: Well done Jamie - so nice to see a positive compulsion! 
Excellent writing Jan - a wonderfully diverse collection of poems that each uniquely expresses a particular form of compulsion.

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Great take on 'Compulsion' Jamie! It doesn't always go away in adulthood either!

Your Name: Jamie Fidgett
Your Comment: Very Pulsating lol

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Very powerful Ash and very 'real'. I shall, forward this to my daughter, who is a support worker in this field, as I have myself. Good challenge - to release my writers block!


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