A Network of Writing and Community Publishers

March 2012
04 May 2012


I was scared.
For a moment I had courage.

I was caught outside with yellow hair.
I had lived till now in blue/green shadows.
I thought I’d blend with the yellow
but I was bent double with fear.
They had told me never to appear in public.
They came in the night, they beat me colourless
till I admitted I had been caught on camera.
Now it’s life in black and white, in fear,
I much prefer it here.

Louise Glasscoe



in the purple darkness
a child in waiting stirs
a murmur turns
and shadow burns




Twinkletoes the fairy and Licklelips the elf,
love to see fresh flowers in the vase upon the shelf -
especially bluebells from the dark green wood,
singing those old bluebell songs they understood

Songs to say may all go well thats how we pray,
may all go well thats what we say,
tho we dont know for sure today,
and so we pray.

No matter what it is we dread,
may all go well it must be said,

and then we find a friend is kind and listens,
when we need someone to tell,
that we can't be certain
it will all go well,

we can't stand to brood upon the worst possibility,
naturally we want the best and wish it may be.

If either way we arent quite sure
we must wish, wait and see ...

but not for hours in secret fear,
we tell our friends we cant be sure,
we say we had a scare,
we sing our prayer:

may all go well, please, a breeze
to put our minds at rest today,
then may all trouble blow away,
easy, I wish you all the best

How would Individual TheFED Members and other TheFED members like to keep in touch as a loose group of odd-bods?


Twelve-year-old Aaron Booth stared out of his bedroom window across at two Peabody
Trust apartment blocks, one stood on each side of a well-kept street. Amidst the blossoming trees, and the cascade of colourful flowers, smothering the verges of the grounds and window boxes, residents not only waved at each other and exchanged pleasantries, but also fed a flock of seagulls, with silvery grey wings, pure white plumages and golden beaks, which had descended between the two blocks.

One particular seagull flew towards the window, where Aaron was stood, hitting the pane and smashing the glass. He woke up screaming, struggling to release his body from the tangled up duvet, before falling off the top bunk and colliding with the clutter on the floor, nearly hitting his head on the identical piece of furniture, on the other side of the room.

Moments later, Aaron looked across the room at the clock, which peaked out from the multitude of sweet and crisp wrappers, an empty mug, and the odd sock, on the chipped drawless bedside table.

It read 2.30 pm, that time when many children, of his age, were in school studying hard to gain a decent education. Expelled for disruptive behaviour, he was destined for a life of social degeneration, wandering the streets at night and sleeping most of the day.

Aaron searched through the clutter of clothing sprawled about the bedroom floor, until he came across some threadbare sportswear, which he quickly got dressed into, before tidying his straight mousey brown hair with his fingers.

He rushed down the stairs, the sound of his footsteps reverberating through the partitioned walls and creating a flow of dust from the unvacuumed worn blue carpet. Opening the front door, Aaron was hit by the fresh smell of early spring rain, which seemed to replenish his breathing patterns, once marred by the stuffiness of the bedroom, and the odour of dirty linen.

Pulling his hood up, Aaron rushed towards the nearby bus shelter. Through its smeared Perspex partitioning, which reflected his single scarred angelic face, he looked across at the two Peabody Trust Apartment blocks, the street cutting through them, now dilapidated, no longer the sight of blossoming trees, nor colourful flowers that were once embedded in his dream.

The rain eased up as the sun attempted to break through the grey overcast clouds. The other side of Aaron’s life was drawing to an end as groups of school children, free from the daily grind, were making their way home, the last one of which was a lone school girl, roughly the same age as Aaron; that very girl, in which her expensive mobile phone, had caught his eyes.

“Give us your mobile!” he demanded threateningly, as she approached the bus stop.

“No!” she replied, abruptly stepping back.

“I said give us your mobile,” he shouted, wrapping his arm around the girl’s neck and forcing her to the ground, before snatching the item, and running towards his house.  Aaron’s decision to run was not for reasons of being spotted and recognised by a local passerby, but for more sinister concerns because, during the attack, a mobber of seagulls had started to congregate on the roofs of the flats, each one looking down in his direction, cawing out loud in the process.

Rushing into the back garden, Aaron leant back on the wooden fencing, trying to get his breath back. Amongst the jumble of plastic garden chairs and broken furniture, not to mention an old stove and fridge, two young boys, dressed similarly to Aaron, jumped out at him.

“Who’s afraid of seagulls? Who’s afraid of seagulls?” they chanted tauntingly, before Aaron could chase them away.

Mrs Booth finished off the large bottle of whisky, spilling some of its contents down her mismatched clothing, before slamming it down on the dining table, in the midst of jumbles of ironing.
“Where did you get the money to buy that?” said Charlie, a middle aged, overweight balding man, who was sat watching television.  Mrs Booth looked at Charlie across the filthy and unkempt living room, with its bare floor, chipped paintwork, and slightly torn wallpaper.

“I found it, all right!” she replied cockily, straightening the ponytail of her brown hair.

“Stole it more like,” said Charlie chirpily. “Been cleaning old Mrs Webb’s living room again, have we?”

“What do you know? Just saw some money on her table and decided to borrow it.”
“I bet you did!” chuckled Charlie.

Just as Mrs Booth was about to start the ironing, Aaron entered the idly through the living room door, scuffling his dirty worn trainers across the floor.

“Where the hell have you been?” snapped Mrs Booth, staring at him angrily.

“As if you care!” said Aaron, answering back.

“You should have been here to meet your Uncle Charlie. He’s been away for years.”

“Uncle! Don’t make me laugh. One of your shag pieces more like. You’re pissed!”

“I’ve just about had it with you,” shouted Mrs Booth, slapping Aaron hard across the face.

Suddenly, Aaron lost his temper, kicking over the table, breaking one of its legs, before un-ironed clothes, and an old darts board, scattered the floor, the commotion of which caused Mrs Booth to burn her hand on the red-hot iron.  Picking up the darts board, Mrs Booth threw it in Aaron’s direction, missing him and hitting the wall, before sticking in the plaster, not only scattering bits across the floor, but making the whole room vibrate, amidst the sound of knocking from the wall next door, followed by murmurs of shouting.
Mrs Booth stormed across the room, nearly tripping over one of Aaron’s little brothers and crushing some of their toys, which were sprawled across the room. Finally reaching the darts board, she attempted to pull it away from the wall.

“What do you think you’re doing, you stupid cow?” shouted Charlie, stopping her. “You’ll pull the whole bloody wall down.”

"Get out! Go on! Get out! And don’t come back," shouted Mrs Booth, glaring angrily at Aaron, and pointing to the living room door. 

Walking sheepishly towards the sideboard, Aaron snatches a five-pound note.

“You thieving little git,” she said out loud, as Aaron ran out of the room, before rushing out of the house and down the street, chasing after a bus, which had just pulled over into a stop.

“Come back here, you little bastard,” said Charlie, as he chased after Aaron.

Flying down from a hill, in which the ruins of a castle majestically overlooked the whole town, a seagull began to circle around the promenade area, landing on top of a lamppost. After spotting a bus stopping in the distance, it starts to caw out loud, like it was a signal for other birds, of the same species, to follow suit.  Aaron got off the bus, yawning and rubbing his eyes in the process. He had fallen asleep and only just realised where he was; that very place, the seafront, where to Aaron, had felt like he had walked straight into a trap, like a fly caught in a spider’s web, or a rabbit in a snare.

Pulling his hood up over his head, to avoid being captured, Aaron walked warily along the promenade, which was a hive of activity. Amusement arcades, with their flashing cascades of colourful lights, blasted out a host of sounds, which attempted to drown out the wind and traffic noises. Crazy golf course punters braved the weather conditions, trying to putt their balls; a middle-aged couple, wearing ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hats, ate candyfloss; an irate father shouted at his young demanding children; and an elderly couple, sat in a shelter, picked at their fish and chips.

Across the road, front ground floor guesthouses donned neon ‘Vacancies’ and ‘No Vacancies’ signs, gift shop windows displayed souvenirs and sticks of rock, and people sat behind the steamed up windows of cafes.

After passing a small closed down funfair, with its tarpaulins flapping about in the wind, Aaron arrived at a cavalcade of beach huts, of different sizes and garish colours, all assembled in a maze like pattern.  After breaking into a dilapidated hut, Aaron shined his ignited cigarette lighter around the interior, past stacked up beach chairs, fishing equipment and a deflated dinghy. Lighting a gas lamp, he sits down, resting his back against a cushion, before Taking out a crumpled cigarette from his tracksuit bottoms pocket.

Suddenly, Aaron becomes alarmed when he hears continuous tapping on the hut’s roof. Peaking through the door and looking up, he discovered that a mobber of seagulls had descended onto the beach hut. Panicking, he slams the door shut, and takes out the stolen mobile phone from his pocket, and desperately dials 999.

“Help me. Please help me,” cried Aaron in desperation. “The seagulls are after me. They are going to get me.”

“Look! Don’t waste our time,” replied the receiver of the call. “We’ve got better things to do than deal with drugged up layabouts like you.”

“Look! I took that mobile. I attacked that girl this afternoon. Will you come and get me. I need protecting. Help…” pleaded Aaron as the phone’s battery ran low, leaving him cut off.  Moments later, the beach hut door flew open, causing Aaron to jump in fright.

“What do you think you’re playing at?” shouted the beach hut warden.

“It’s all right. We’ve got it all under control,” said a policeman, grabbing hold of Aaron’s arm. “All right lad, on your feet.”

Lying on his bed, centred between the basic furnishings, neatly positioned against the white washed walls, of the austere cell, Aaron had started to reflect on his past life, and why these seagulls were terrorising him; that very species of bird that had attacked him years ago, when he had maliciously disturbed a nest.

“Oh, well. I’m safe. At least they can’t get me in here,’ he thought, running his fingers down the scar on his face.  How wrong he was, because outside, numerous seagulls had flown inland in the direction of the secure unit, landing on the corrugated roof and the windowsill of the cell. They looked through the glass at him with menacing and threatening eyes, before viciously tapping their beaks on the window, shattering the glass.

Aaron suddenly woke up, in the social worker’s car, gasping for breath.

“Now! You have nothing to worry about. Your family have decided to take you back,” said the social worker.  But Aaron did not acknowledge what she was saying, not to mention what she looked like, for he was still in a state of confusion, unaware of what was going on around him.

After getting out of the social worker’s car, in the empty and silent street, Aaron excitedly ran towards his house, entering the slightly opened front door.

“Mum, Charlie, kids. I’m back,” he yelled, entering the darkened living room. “My fear of seagulls has been cured. It was all a bad dream.”

“That’s what you think!” said Charlie, who was now a man-sized seagull.

Suddenly, Aaron became fully aware of what was going on around him, acknowledging that the social worker was also one of those birds.  Across the living room, a seagull did the ironing. Two fledglings were sat on the floor, playing with toys. Another stood in front of the doorway, blocking his path. Rushing towards the window, he attempted to open it,
trying to escape, only to find two seagulls peering in at him.

“Help! Help!” cried Aaron.  Charlie walked slowly towards Aaron. Slapping him hard across the face with his wing, before falling and hitting his head on the table’s edge and
collapsing to the floor motionless.

Charlie left the house, walking up the street towards the public house, passing several seagulls on the way.  In the window of a nearby house, a child sat in a cage. He had a sad expression on his face.

Mark Crittenden


This, or so we are led to believe,
is common to everyone, otherwise
horror writers, directors of terror films,
and your common or garden fascist,
would be out of business and seeking
a proper job or justifiable vocation.

It starts with your parents beating
or intimidating you as a child,
continues through your schooldays
where a succession of teachers
& bullies may keep you in a state
of fear for reasons you can never
explain properly to your parents.

Adolescence brings its own fears
& existential terrors; failing
to master whatever life skills
society currently demands may
make things worse, or make you
a stronger individual or better
person if you learn at least two.

As we grow up, or grow older,
our fear of the unknown mutates,
our experience of the dark
may become a bus stop at night,
walking the wrong part of town
with no money, torch or stick,
or knowing that the next allnight
party will start in half an hour.
Finally, there is a darkness
we can only experience once.

Brian Docherty
Word for Word

Pevensey sluice men               

Will put his finger to his lips, which meant trouble I peered through the darkness. But the rain was coming down in torrents; I could hear the blockade men searching for us. If they found us it would be the gibbet for us, their were six of us that had got cut off from the rest of the gang. The others had escaped but we had tried to carry some of the bootee with us. I shuddered ,we were wet and cold it was late November in 1832 the blockade men were stationed at the Martello towers watching for our gang they were mostly Irish men And their blue jackets stood out. I could see through the thicket they were thrashing the undergrowth looking for us. We were at Pevensey sluices a remote beach on the south coast. . The money we would have got for it would have kept our families through the winter. Still this was the risk we took.

The boat was washed up on the beach we had set a light to draw them into the bay. We had wrestled with the sailors and someone had fired a shot that was what had brought the Blockade men. We dived over the side carrying what we could, the others had just scarped and got clean away, but the bootee had slowed us down so we had got trapped in the dunes, we were part of the Sluice men that operated on this part of the coast. It used to be thought of has sport robbing the revenue men, but the tide had turned and it had become an hanging offence also anyone who helped us were made a example of. I thought of my Mary waiting for me to come home, the last words she had said were Tom now don't take any risks you don't need to ,we'll get through the winter somehow. I don’t want to loose you, then what would me and the children do.

Will beckoned and we crawled back towards the sea ,the idea was to conceal the bootee under the sea so we could recover it later, and we would have more chance of getting away without the bootee. We had got to the edge of the sea in the marshes when we heard a whistle. It was the Blockade men they had got hold of one of our gang we couldn't see who it was but they all ran in the opposite direction to us, so we decided to risk taking the bootee with us.

We had split up me and Will stuck together, we had been through a lot together and our old  women were friends. We climbed up a gully and headed inland listening all the time but all we could hear was the crashing of the waves it was a wild night and the wind was whistling through the gully. Crossing the pathway was dodgy looking for any sign of the blockade men. I thought we had made it and we were just below the lip of the ridge, once we got past there we should be safe the ridge would hide us and we would soon be home. I couldn't wait to get into the tub and get warm and dry again. We climbed over the lip and then felt someone get hold of our collars We automatically reacted and swung the bootee like a weapon  we fought like our lives depended on it. In truth I don't think it came into our heads we just hated these blockade men and we wanted to get away. Suddenly one of them went down with one of our blows, we panicked then and tries to run their was a crack of a pistol, it caught me in the shoulder and I fell down, I remember being hauled away. Will stopped not quite sure what to do it was enough they had him  and several were all round us it was over,of, we were doomed they had been waiting for us, someone had split. They had a policy if  they caught a smuggler, if they betrayed the others in the gang they let them go free, it was an incentive to get the most smugglers.

I didn't think anyone in our gang would do that but fear does funny things to a man. I was in a lot of pain, they said they'd get me a doctor, though I didn't deserve one.

We were taken to the martello towers till they could take us to jail. That would be in the morning. They tied us up and stood guard over us.A doctor came and dug the bullet out, I've never felt such pain, but he dressed it and said I would be ok.

Next morning we were marched to Chichester and put in front of a judge,who told us  of the offenses we were charged with  and that the crown would prepare a case against us. We were to be kept in Chichester jail awaiting trial. So we were taken down and put in jail, we were put in separate cells So I was sitting by myself thinking of my family, they would be devastated. If only I could see them just once more, but I knew that wasn't going to happen. I, imagined what it would be like to be hanged, it wasn't a pleasant picture in my mind, I know it only took a few minutes but I could imagine it seemed like a lifetime. I tried to think of my family of happier times I had two children Eliza was three and Dan he was seven they were good children they didn't deserve this to be named has a smuggler's children it would be like a manacle round their necks. My poor Mary wouldn't be able to hold her head up, Oh! What have I done to them. I slumped down in a corner and sobbed not for myself but for my family.

I was informed we would be tried at Chichester Assizes in February next their were just Will and me charged with murder I didn't even realize the blockade man had died, and I don't know which of us gave the final blow but I suppose we were both has guilty has each other.

The trial was held at Chichester crown court we had no defense we pleaded guilty it didn't take long and it was all over the judge was giving us his sentence, We were to be taken from here to a prison ship and deported to New south Wales in Australia to work.  I didn't hear any more.  I passed out I was all geared up for the gibbet when I came round I was told they didn't believewe had killed deliberately so hadn't got the death sentence but in a way it was worse has I would never see my family again.

Heather Benn


I'm sitting in my cell waiting for the inevitable. I've been convicted of multiple murders, but they just don't understand I had to do it, the voice told me to cleanse the world of prostitution. So I had no choice had I. I was just doing my duty, I hope the voice found someone to carry on the  work.

It all started when I was working has a grave digger, I heard a voice, it said that grave is for a child that  was  a product of prostitution and it had died in childbirth because the mother had carried on working has a prostitute. The voice said you've got to stop these prostitutes, they are a blight on society, I want you to go out and rid the world of these loose women who do it for money, they are a scourge on society.

So that’s when it all began. I went out at night  to find them, I pretended  I wanted their services and I must admit I did partake of their services and then I killed them. I had an
hammer and a knife in my pocket, I got a real feel for the job, I could feel myself getting excited at the the prospect of killing again. It became an addiction so I really couldn't help it, could I. First I was carrying out orders, and second I was an addict and they should give me treatment for it.

I can see the faces of those I had killed, they haunt me now I wonder why. I was only doing my duty, its only like I was a soldier in a war but society doesn't see it that way.

I'm doing some exercises now to keep myself fit. I'm doing press ups and sit ups and then I run round my cell. I think its good to keep fit, I've told them I don't want any rubbish to eat, I want a balanced diet. They mostly give me what I want.

Its dark now, I can hear someone sobbing I wonder if they have got a death sentence. Perhaps their frightened. I don't cry, I've got a clear conscience its not my fault society doesn't recognize the good I've been doing.

Well today his my last day in this world,how do I feel? I don't really know tomorrow at 6am they take me out to meet the hangman. They asked what I wanted for my 
last meal, it seems a bit pointless really. Still I might has well have a nice roast, that will do nicely. I asked if I could have some wine but they just laughed and said don't push it. Well it was worth a try.

The Padre has been to see me wanted me to make my peace with God, but I told him I was carrying out God’s orders. So I've nothing to be sorry for. He went away shaking his head.

I'm still doing my keep fit regime, the warders think I'm mad, but it occupies my mind.

I wonder if the voice was God or was it Satan, I'm not sure now.

Heather Benn

The Last Train       

Amy ran to catch the last train to Wilmerton, 11. 20 was the last train it was really early but Wilmerton was only a small market town. Amy had been to Princetown to meet her boyfriend Stuart, but they had fallen out and she had stomped off saying she’d find her own way home. She didn’t need him and he’d better not follow her.

So here she was running to catch the last train, she had only just realised it was already time for it. Has she reached the station it was just coming up to 11.20.  She raced to the platform just in time to see her train pulling away, she was too late to catch it up ‘don’t believe it I really don’t,’ she muttered under her breath. She stood there and stamped her foot in frustration. What was she going to do now? She lived to far away to walk home.

She thought should I go back and eat humble pie and ask Stuart to take her home, but he would have probably gone by now.
She took her mobile out and decided to ring home; her Dad would come and fetch her she thought. She rang the number and an automated voice said you are out of credit. I don’t believe it I really don’t. What am I going to do now!

Amy walked out of the station and checked to see how much money she had, certainly not enough for a taxi. The buses stopped much earlier so that was not an option. I’ll go and find a phone box and ring my Dad she thought. There must be one in the station, so
she went back into the station. She found a phone booth but it was a card phone and she didn’t have a credit card her Dad wouldn’t trust her with one, she didn’t blame him for that, still it didn’t help her now.

She came across a payphone but it had been vandalised, Amy just sat down on the ground and cried.’ What am I going to do’ she said to the air I can’t walk it’s just too far and it wouldn’t be safe for a young girl on her own anyway.

Ralph was watching the girl’s antics, he smiled to himself. This was just what turned him on he could see the girls panic, in her body language. That excited him; he could feel himself being sexually aroused by her anxiety. He would be able to turn that to abject fear or probably terror, he smiled has he thought about it. That’s what really turned him on. But he’d wait for the right moment. He had a hammer in his trouser pocket which he fingered comfortingly. This was his trademark; he always finished them off by spoiling their beauty.

It was usually prostitutes he went for, but he didn’t think this one was but her vulnerability just turned him on. He watched Amy leave the station for the second time and decided to follow her. He would offer her a lift; she was so distraught that she would probably be grateful. He smiled to himself in the dark his excitement was mounting.

He went towards his car it was an old Skoda estate car, so has not to draw attention.  He
kept an eye on the girl; she was walking away from the station. So he jumped into the car and started following her keeping his distance, and keeping his eyes open for any coppers.

Amy decided to find a police station, to see if they could help. They might ring her Dad for her to come and pick her up. She walked down the road from the station; she thought she remembered seeing a police station, mind you it would be a bonus if she saw a policeman but you never saw one when you wanted one.

She was suddenly aware of a car following her, she speeded up to try and get away from it. I suppose it could be innocent but I’m not taking any chances. She looked at her watch it was just coming up to twelve o’clock. She would have thought their would be more people about but the road was deserted apart from that car and that had stopped now. She breathed a sigh of relief. She set off smartly and decided to turn off the main road and turned onto a pedestrian area at least the car couldn’t follow her there.

Oh no he exclaimed the stupid girls she’s, turned off into a pedestrian area. He got out of the car and followed her keeping to the shadows. He ducked into a doorway has she turned round to check if she was being followed. He waited a minute then he made a sprint she half turned and let out a shriek.

He emerged whistling to himself, I wonder if I could get a take away. He suddenly felt really hungry, but thought I’d better go home. My old mother will get worried if I’m late.

Heather Benn

The Verdict        

I stood in the dock, and looked around me; I’d never been in court before. There were the barristers in their wigs and the court clerk, I looked up and saw the people in the gallery, who had come to watch, I saw my mum their and she gave me a reassuring smile. I had a policewoman on either side of me. I was very frightened. The Judge came in and everyone had to stand till he was seated.
‘Are you Sandra Fletcher, of 18 Culloden Road, Markfield, West Yorkshire?’
‘Yes Sir’ I replied.
‘Were you on duty on the 18th of October 1962, on Burton ward of Markfield General Hospital’?
‘Yes sir’ I said.
‘You have been accused of Manslaughter of your patient Mr Thomas Lake, how do you plea, Guilty or not guilty’ he asked.
‘Not guilty sir ‘I said.

I remembered I was on night duty on that fateful night in October, we were short staffed and the staff nurse with me had been moved to casualty for a Road traffic accident, which had come in and they needed help. So I was left alone on this busy medical ward I was only in my second year of training but we were often left in charge with the night sister checking on us. I felt really proud to be left in charge.

That night I was very busy and this patient Mr Lake, wouldn’t stop calling out. There were forty patients on the ward so it was very exasperating for him to keep shouting I tried to tell him I was very busy but he just continued to call out nurse, nurse, then he would ring his bell and just kept ringing.

I had turned the lights out and there was just the light on the nurses’ station. I had got everyone bedded down, I looked at the clock it was 11-30 and I should have been relieved for my supper break but I doubted that I would get one tonight.

Mr Lake was still calling and ringing his bell, the other patients were complaining about him has they couldn’t sleep for him.

I went to him and tried to reason with him he didn’t want anything he just wanted one to one attention, I said that wasn’t possible and he started shouting it was his rights, and I just lost my cool and shook  him and said don’t shout at me I’m doing my best. Just stop ringing and shouting I can’t take any more.

I walked away and the other patients said good for you perhaps we’ll get some peace now. I continued with my duties.Mr Lake was very quiet it must have done the trick. But I’d better check on him, I went over to his bed and I just couldn’t believe it he was dead! ‘Oh no what have I done’
I ran to the phone and rang the night sister then I rang the duty Dr. When the night sister came I told her what had happened and she looked at Mr. Lake and we made him look presentable and waited for the Dr to come.

The night sister took me on one side and told me what I’d done was abuse which had resulted in this man’s death and so I was responsible for his death. So I had better go home and come back in the morning to see the matron. I was just devastated I just couldn’t believe what had taken place.

Next day I went to see the matron who said I would be suspended on full pay while an investigation takes place. She said go home and you will be contacted in due course.

Two days later two detectives arrived and formally arrested me for Manslaughter.  I was taken to the police station and had to give a full statement of what had happened.  I was released till the trial came up.

So here I was six months later, the daughter spoke saying what a gentle man her father was and how I had been guilty of abuse and even murder.

The night sister spoke of the events of that night and that she didn’t think I was aware of the severity of what I’d done. 

Next the medical forensic doctor spoke of his findings at the post mortem,
‘I found evidence of a Cerebral Vascular Accident   he had suffered whether the action’s of the student nurse had any part in causing his death’ I really couldn’t be certain.’

They started the defence then they had a former patient that was their on that night and they spoke of the unfairness of the charges against me. She said how he had goaded me
and was quite unreasonable demands on her, she was alone on the ward and didn’t have the experience of a trained nurse/. She shouldn’t have been left on her own.  It was the hospital that should be on trial not me.

They put me in the dock and I spoke of the events of that night and how I regretted what had happened I didn’t mean any harm to Mr Lake.They cross-questioned me and I ended up in tears.

At last it was over and the jury went to think about their verdict.

It was a couple of hours later when I was called back to court the jury had reached a verdict. I was shaking has I took my place in the dock.

The judge came back and everyone stood till he was seated.  He addressed the foreman of the jury
‘Are you all agreed on your verdict’, he asked.
‘Yes we are, we believe that she shouldn’t have been left alone in her capacity of a young student nurse and that the hospital must bear some of the responsibility for this tragic death, and so we give a verdict of not guilty in view that she was untrained and couldn’t be held responsible for what happened due to her lack of experience’.

I didn’t hear any more I think I fainted I came round with the police and a doctor peering down at me.

I was taken back to the dock and the Judge spoke kindly saying what an ordeal it had been for me but that I was free to go and their were no charges against me.
‘Thank you my lord.’ I felt lightheaded as I walked to meet my mother she through her arms around me and said
'It's all over pet, lets go home.'

Heather Benn

Feint outline
(Veterans Sonnet)

As I in shadowed former self appear
Presenting silhouette of life, ‘tis true
To wish this day, pray rid my conscience clear
Lest time as was, may scurry out from view
Should e’er thy search be deemed a tad unkind
Result in cloak of darkness o’er my heart
Perchance in corners seek and yet to find
Whilst I in flight from fear, attempt depart
N’er wouldst lay blame at someone else’s door
Mere words cannot express an actioned plan
Tis time this mind reveals, what’s at my core
Sad circumstance beyond the realm of Man
Sweet innocence once bathed in light remains
Whence Heavens chorus sings of sad refrains

Richard Gildea

All around me all I can feel is fear

One stupid mistake has bought on all this fear
I had been out for a drink after work with my peers
Just one more for the road I still hear my friends jeer
Showing off, doing handbrake turns, I hear my friends cheer
Their excitement increases as the car roars through the gears
I didn’t see him coming he just suddenly Appeared
The effects of the drink has made my vision less clear
I tried to avoid him, tried with all my might to steer
With screeching brakes the car begins to veer
But it is too little to late, I hit him I fear
The man is hurt severe, his injuries are severe
His name is Michael Johnson but his end is near
Help is on its way, police and ambulance Sirens I Hear
The paramedics pronounce him dead, I can’t stop the Tears
Police question me, my mind panics I have only had 2 beers
6 points on my licence and the end of my driving Career
I sit in this cold dark cell and question how did I end up here
They say I could be in prison for up to 5 years
All around me all I can feel is fear
This will stay with me for life, it won’t disappear
I can only begin to feel the loss of those he held dear
All of this could have been avoided if I had said no to that last beer
If ive learned one thing the message is clear
Don’t drink and drive it’s not a good idea

Liz Jury

“For Whom the Bell Tolls” - 9/11

What’s happened here this day, this hour, I cannot fathom still
Yet here I am embroiled in cause, which seeks alone to kill
Forgive this action that I take, in faith that’s notwithstanding
Of consequences I believe, beyond one’s understanding

Searing heat may take my flesh, yet doth my soul survive,
If I should take my life in hand and like the swallow dive
No rescue plan can save this man, I tell my tortured mind
No sacrifice of heroes made, in seeking for to find

I’ve prayed the Lord please heed concern in thoughts of family
Of loved ones dear and friends so near, who all do care for me
Pray warn the ones below on ground, of imminent demise
Lest not one passing innocent, may suffer by surprise

I share the realm of Angels, as I hurtle down to earth
I sense the cradle of their wings, in spirit of rebirth
Existence not yet over as I bid my last farewell
For those who perpetrate such deeds, I hear the tolling of the Bell

Richard Gildea

"Optimistic Pessimist"

“I do wish the future was over” when shooing my life away
In dread of pain and suffering, when ushering out the day
Commitment, death and evil, the list goes on and on
It comes in many guises; this fear which sets upon

To age for some, to be infirm and then to be alone
Yet nothing is as fearful, as that of the unknown
How should we deal with this strange beast, when knowing of it not
It haunts our every waking thought when weighing up our lot

Logic states we know not how or whence it ever came
Scientific testing may prove the premise as insane
When life becomes a burden, this added factor to our woes
Will manifest within the mind as worst of all scenarios

Pessimism feeds our fears and fills our nights with dread
Images of netherworld are painted of the poor undead
Optimism comes with Faith when putting us to test
Structures of belief abound, to set our minds at last to rest

Richard Gildea
Note: “I do wish the future was over” – Gilbert Harding 1953


Oh my dear,
oh my dear,
tell me
a taste of fear.
Oh my dear,
oh my dear,
draw me
a picture of fear.
Oh my dear,
oh my dear,
show me fear.
Is a dentist
going to pull
your tooth out?
Oh dear, oh dear,
there is nothing
to fear.
Did a dog brought
home fleas?
Oh my dear,
oh my dear,
kill them, spray them,
douse them in powder,
murder them,
but spare the dog.
You will kill the dog,
I fear.

Marie Neumann

Honour Thy Brother

Some say life is a journey that is yet to be explored, by all who are willing to embrace it. I say life is a frightening thing to pursue without the right level of experience, when I was 16 years old my family and I had suffered what can only be described as the most horrific
tragedy of our lives, the death of my brother. PTE Christopher Gordon Rayment.

What took place over those coming months is nothing short of a personal journey of discovery, I speak for myself when I say this. Christopher was the middle child, and he was born on july 2nd, he always wanted to join the army there was never a day he did not speak of it.  Chris was lively full of soul and passion for helping those around him those who needed to laugh, those who needed support and encouragement, those who needed a cheeky grin to stare back at them!

Yes... that was Chris never a dull moment, as years passed us by and I grew up I was aware that me and my brother we had a some what strained relationship, he constantly wanted to protect me from the evils of the world, once told me I was never to go with a man on drugs, and advised me strongly against a man in uniform. Now im pleased to say I didn't ever date a man on drugs for fear of what my brother would do ... on the other hand I believe fate & destiny led me to my husband who is in the army. As you can see I never took my brothers advice completely.

So there it was me, my brother and my eldest sister Mandy and my parents we were one unit, what can typically be descrbed as a nuclear family.

Then on the 04th August that all changed, and the sentiment of this story comes into play ... Many never get over losing a close relative for example a mother, father, brother, sister! Any one who can move on has courage and sheer determination to say I will meet that person someday. I try so intensely to believe that one day when I die I shall meet my brother and it is at that point I shall tell him how much I truly missed him, and how he shaped my life, and all that I ever desired or achieved within it.

I remember the day my brother left for Iraq, like it was yesterday funny how the mind  chooses to remember the most significant parts of a day. It  was the day of all days the day since I was nine years old I grew to dread. The day I knew my brother’s life was going to be in danger in a war zone country where Iraq’s had huge faith that if they killed themselves they would go to a better world. This wasn’t a country this was a place where sheer evil laid where god tried to protect the innocent and evil trying to destroy them.
That day for me was horrific inside I was unaware of what the months ahead would be like. I didn't understand the signifance of this war.

Months passed by and times were changing, exams had been completed and every
spare moment of the day was spent thinking of Chris, what would he be doing, when the calls came I used to stop in my tracks, hear here his montone voice over the phone and know instantly he wanted to speak to mum .My mum could chat for hours with Chris I realised over the years that my mum and brother had an interesting relationship they clashed when put together but separated they were blissful. My mum’s face lit up with intense joy never once did her smile fade or erase during that 20 minute phone call permitted.

When the day arrived, the 04th I remember waking up thinking not long now and Chris will be home , I was nervous and mum ws preparing banners, we literally had days and it felt like eternity. We heard the news from two soldiers from Royal Artillery Barracks it was the 4th August 2004 at precisely 5:30 and me and my mum had our hair done previously before and the adrenalin rush of Chris coming home was overwhelming inside I had a sense of fear that Chris would have changed. But then my fears changed when two people, a women and a man, stood in smart suits I thought they were sales-people and I was going to say in a polite tone were not interested. That was when they looked at me with such sympathetic eyes  My mum overhearing walked downstairs and asked what the problem was now the soldiers gave another sympathetic glare my mum invited them in and acting in a sincere manner offered them a seat. It was at this point that they explained I had to go upstairs those silent moments on my own felt like hours I prayed to god so many times then I could hear a scream a loud rebelling tone that shrieked through my ears I knew then what had happened....

Our family was never the same, and you truly have to be in the situation to appreciate the immensity of pain and grief that the mind goes through, my mum and dad often say 'we do not live we exist,' .. there lives will never be the same again, no parent should ever have too see their child being buried before them, it goes against every biological principle that with age should come death.

Over the coming days everything seemed to be a blur, all so vaque.. and on the 10th August we had confirmation that Chris was coming home to Brize Norton, I never went
with my family to his homecoming that would have been excepting that my brother had died, and I was not ready to do this.

When I visited my brother in the chapel, I stared at him in the hope he would suddenly
burst into a 'Lee Evans catch phrase' as he so often did, but nothing happened he looked at peace with the world, like the lord had said let me take the heavy burden that weighs on your shoulders soldier and in return you can have eternal rest. I was to sing at my brothers funeral and the realisation of Christopher dying was beggining to creep up on me.

The cars arrived on schedule, on time just as I knew they would I saw three lengthy, black cars all highly polished and when I waited for the door to open I saw my face reflect back at me my stomach began to create butterflies and now I was even more confused about how I should react. I was in so many ways nervous and distraught but when we sat in the car I felt at ease until I felt the slow pace of the car moving. I looked ahead to see about six or eight men all in a vertical line along with Captain Bob Wells who stood in front and  who led the men to the end of the road.

In my lifetime I will never attend a funeral as maginficant as my brothers, it was over-whelming, people standing in the church, people gatherine outside, shredding tears in there cars for my brother, my silly funny, vibrant, normal brother had such an impact on these peoples lives... I remember thinking Dam you Chris ! I have to sing infront of all these people. To this day I still stop in my tracks when I hear the lyrics of 'Amazing Grace' and I returnright back to the day of Chris's funeral.

I ended that day lying in my bitter, basic, be-mused bed I lay an stare at the ceiling and the fours walls around me I suddenly had a thought every wall, every door has distinct memories of Christopher and while I lay in my bed and continue to grow older with every second there’s one thing I will remember my brother will always remain young.

As I now stare down at my son, and wait for the eager return of my husband I realise how
far I have moved on, I still cry at night over untimely death of my brother, sometimes I have speak to him in my mind tell him how I miss him everyday... How with great sadness and grief I managed to achieve one of my greatest things. How I met Dame Vera Lyn and went to a book signing where I signed peoples books, with poety that I had penned.. in
years to come I can say that the ink will be forever in trace with your memory.

Christophers death lead me to a world I could only have imagined, but if I could change the sequence of events that took my brother I would gladly do this, jsut to see one genuine smile from my parents and my sister. From my brothers death I have learnt a valuable lesson, that teamwork really does exist in our family.

Though we have been granted a life sentence we will find the power to laugh at the
memories of Christopher not to stand over his gravestone and weep tears that shouldn’t be wept for as it said in a great poem 'do not stand over my grave and weep and I am not there I did not sleep, do not stand over my grave and cry I am not there I did not die'… and these words speak truth for my brother is not dead he has just gone in the room next
door and he waits for me and my family but he waits for us all when we die grey and old no other way for I have come to see I have more bigger and wider things to put into this world that Christopher will not see well not in the sense I want him to.

As for you Christopher I hope you are okay and well and this story is in memory of you and I forgot to say when you left for Iraq that as much as I forgot to say it I love you Christopher for you are my brother and I miss you more then I could possibly put in to words. No words could describe the ache, pain, bitterness, and anger we feel that god took your life so near. I hope heaven is everything you would imagine it to be and more.

I know that for as long as I have my family around me I will never be alone in the world and I will always “ Honour thy brother.” 

Ruth Victoria Duff

hidden carnage

The horror crawls and sprawls
coz down the local hospital
they think they
know it

Do Individual Members of TheFED want a loose-knit grouping to meet by fone / internet / post?


is something
I am not
curious about.
I hope I'll live
the rest of my life
without fear.
To describe fear
as a personal
or to describe
somebody else fear?
Is it still fear
I can look in
I feel sorry
for victims
and despise villains.
You want me to be

Marie Neumann


Fear is a Psychological emotion to a stimulus. Fear is usually developed due to past events or circumstances.  Its a response to a repeated events in a row. Most of us are obsessed with fear.

All individuals have some degree of fear in them. Degree varies from individual to individual.

A fear is inbuilt in some since childhood and most of us tend to grow with it and many of us choose to live with and include it in our daily regime.

Once fear is inbuilt its difficult but not impossible to part with it. With patience, perseverance and persistence one can eradicate fear from our systems.Fear can be a daunting experience for most. Hence, the sooner we face fear, the better for us and healthier we.

Its observed those are successful, confident and with high self esteems who have faced it in time bravely. The only way to conquer fear is to face it. Many of us find it easier getting away than fear of facing it. As we all know body has its own mechanism to deal with fear as per Internet, called the fight and flight response, in which the body prepares itself to either enter the combat or run away.

Fear can counter us in any form such as, fear of heights, fear of drowning (water phobia), fear of failing examinations, fear of being scolded et. al. Many have their own way of dealing with fear. Some deal with it passively and some aggressively through laughter, anxiety, anger , cry or combinations for few.

Morale, fear if treated lightly and not dealt in time, it can impact our daily lives activities in long term both on personal and professional front, attract negative thoughts and welcome ill effects of fear.

As I said earlier, the sooner we recognise it, the happier we.


Priyanka Gupta
Goodmayes Writers Group

Beyond what we see

After six knocks on six doors
in a grey filled sky - as the sun shines today
can we give thanks for their young lives and
also pray for those that witnessed the devastation
and those that repatriate these young men - for
war has far reaching consequences beyond what we see
Thank you

Jan Hedger

Phobia : an irrational fear of an object, person  or condition.
A submission for FEAR (mostly found on the internet - so not my work.)

Aibohphobia – a joke term for the fear of palindromes, which is a palindrome itself. The term is a piece of computer humor entered into the 1981 The Devil’s DP Dictionary

Anachrophobia – fear of temporal displacement, from a Doctor Who novel by Jonathan Morris.

Anatidaephobia – fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you (Derived from the word Anatidae, which is the family contain ducks, and the suffix -phobia). Comes from Gary Larson’s The Far Side.

Anoraknophobia – a portmanteau of “anorak” and “arachnophobia”. Used in the Wallace and Gromit comic book Anoraknophobia. Also the title of an album by Marillion.

Arachibutyrophobia – fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. The word is used by Charles M. Schulz in a 1982 installment of his “Peanuts” comic strip and by Peter O’Donnell in his 1985 Modesty Blaise adventure novel Dead Man’s Handle. It had
circulated, unattributed, in the Internet for some time until it landed at the CTRN Phobia Clinic website: “Working one-on-one with one of our team, with guaranteed lifetime elimination of Sticky Peanut Butter Phobia. From $1497 and up.”

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia – fear of long words.[8] Hippopoto- “big” due to its allusion to the Greek-derived word hippopotamus (though this is derived as hippo- “horse” compounded with potam-os “river”, so originally meaning “river horse”; according to the Oxford English, “hippopotamine” has been construed as large since 1847, so this coinage is reasonable); -monstr- is from Latin words meaning “monstrous”, -o- is a noun-compounding vowel; -sesquipedali- comes from “sesquipedalian” meaning a long word (literally “a foot and a half long” in Latin), -o- is a noun-compounding vowel, and -phobia means “fear”. Note: This was mentioned on the first episode of Brainiac Series Five as one of Tickle’s Teasers

Luposlipaphobia – fear of being pursued by timber wolves around a kitchen table while
wearing socks on a newly waxed floor, also from Gary Larson’s The Far Side.

Nihilophobia – fear of nothingness (comes from the combination of the Latin word nihil which means nothing, none, and the suffix -phobia), as described by the Doctor in the Star Trek: Voyager episode Night. Voyager’s morale officer and chef Neelix suffers from
this condition, having panic attacks while the ship was traversing a dark expanse of space known as the Void. It is also the title of a 2008 album by Neuronium. Also, the animated version of George of the Jungle (2007 TV series) is seen suffering in one episode of the cartoon, where they are telling scary stories.

Venustraphobia – fear of beautiful women, according to a 1998 humorous article published by BBC News. The word is a portmanteau of “Venus trap” and “phobia”. Venustraphobia is the title of a 2006 album by Casbah Club.

My personal favorite : Nomobiphobia - Fear of failing to get a signal on a mobile 'phone.

Some more unusual phobias : http://listofweird.com/phobias/


The Green Machine

Soap, socks, lampshades;
Manufacturing through recycling.
Spectacles, clothes and shoes
Harvested from Europe’s Jews;
All turned into useful goods
For use in German neighbourhoods.
This was their final solution
To what they saw as their pollution.
But then tables all were turned,
Because as Europe’s Jews were burned
The allies won a victory
And the world was Nazi free
So it was said.
But that’s not true;
I fear I still know one or two.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

Strange Bedfellows

This is just a little personal story
When Kathy was a teenager no more
At the tender age of twenty years
She travelled to a Foreign shore
She landed in the Islands of New Guinea
A young lady from a Rural town
On a visit to be among the natives
And a Mission of small renown
As a Catholic she was familiar with Nuns and Priests
But here they were in a different guise
No longer dressed in surplice or gown
But in old shorts with mud around their thighs
She was shown to her accommodation
Which was a hut made from the leaves of a palm
Woven together to form walls and the roof
To keep out the rain and shelter from harm
Altho’ the hut kept out the weather
Strange creatures it did not exclude
Which were plentiful in this primitive area
Scary for one when in solitude
She’d woken at night to see things there
On the table beside her bed
Not just belongings or water in a glass
But all sorts of creatures instead
But a large size rodent was sitting there beside her
She’s never seen one as big as that
Not in her wildest imagination
A rat that was nearly as big as a cat
She imagined what it was thinking
As before it’s evil gaze she lay
Would she be the first victim
That this nasty creature would nibble today
All sorts of things went through her head
Whilst she stayed in the rodents glare
How many times had she slept unknowing
Of the creature watching her there
You may ask why didn’t she rise and run
Into the open away from the bed
It was because of a damaged and swollen knee
Or she may have upped and fled
So she thought to herself as she grabbed her pillow
Maybe she could take control
Of a situation where she was hostage to a rodent
And then her retribution could extol
Then as she started to lift her arm and swing
Onto the bed the Rat leapt
Running around on top of her as she scream aloud
Waking everyone who may have slept
Then in walked the Priest and said ”What’s going on”
In a voice that would never fail
To instil any Damsel’s confidence
As he grabbed the Rat by the tail
And threw the creature as far as he could
Then escorted young Kathy to the Toilet in the dark
As any Priesthood father would
Akin to any everyday occurrence
Or that is the way that it would appear
Always take control when faced by terror
And never give way to fear

Dennis Shrubshall
4th December 2012


The lights turned green, the road was clear,
The car moved forward, turning right,
I was sitting in the back,
A police car followed close behind.
Suddenly a car appeared,
Ignored the lights, smashed in our side.
I was thrown across the seat;
Nobody wore seatbelts then.
I was sure that I had died
And looked down at me being thrown,
Then slipped back into my skin.
We had just gone for a drive,
Luckily we'd all survived.
Nobody was really hurt though
Neither car could be repaired.
None of us had been so scared
And when in cars I still have fears
Of that night, after all these years.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

Fear In Gear

I pulled into the kerb
To fiddle with the radio
And then as I looked up
Some youths had crowded round the car;
A hand upon the handle.
Instinctively, through fear,
I quickly locked my door
And slammed the car in gear.
Then when I sped away
I think I drove on someone's foot.
I really didn't care;
I just got out of there.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

Like Serpents
Like serpents they flex and coil
Spiralling menace
Weaving courage and inducing fear
They revolve slowly around each other
Emerald eyes fixed resolutely upon citrine
Blazing their feline challenge

Ashley Jordan

Shadows shiver tremulously in the trees,
Flicker at the dawn of consciousness,
Caress the sleeping
And stream away from light.

Shadows are always the last to leave the party
Hide danger, and blanket fear
They bleed too
And smell of lavender and roses

Shadows dance recklessly round the campfire
Blacken the moon and bruise the snow
Gallop across the sky
And slip, sensuous, between the sheets

Shadows probe deeply into dreams
Lurk where cats disdain to tread
They get into your eyes
And taste like ice cream spirals

Ashley Jordan


I hide my pain, lest they be hurt
Conceal my vulnerability
Lest they hurt me again
My fortress is built
Brick by painful brick
And I am trapped

Ashley Jordan

Now he sits alone
In purple haze of grief
Her guests have all gone
Much to his relief

They've paid their last respects
And eaten all his food
Left him in a mess
With washing up to do

He's in a lilac fear
For death has lingered on
Who else will now come near
Now that she is gone?

Ashley Jordan

The Unknown Poet
Posting his poems in halting English
That told us of his love and hurt and pride
Allowed us to walk through his inner childhood
And demonstrating how he felt inside

He painted the moon, the sun and the stars
Described all that he had seen, heard and thought
Openly sharing with all who would read
The answers he'd found and those he still sought

He shyly presented his own true love
Inspired by radiant yearning and hope
Misunderstandings, courtship and wishes
Romantic musings that broadened his scope

He wrote about his forthcoming marriage
And the ecstasy of his wedding night
He eclipsed the political darkness
With his dreams for the future shining bright

He rejoiced at becoming a father
Wanted a peaceful future for his son
And barely mentioned the distant gunfire
The anxious sorrow that darkened their fun

He shared with us milestones, first words, first steps
And how his wife blossomed with motherhood
How his love for them deepened every day
We read his poems and we understood

He gave us the war, the terror and fear
The hardship, the hunger, the blood and dust
Yet through all the darkness and despair
His words shone, a beacon 'in God we trust'

I wonder if that poet ever guessed
How we suffered all his anguish with him
Mourning the murder of his wife and child
By the ones who said they'd come to save them

And that is when and where the poems ceased
Muted by his grief, or killed by the bombs
His gentle words of wisdom, his poet's soul
Are back with his family, where they belong

Ashley Jordan

At Heaven's Gate
I had a funny dream last night
I stood at heaven's gate
With all the other happy souls
Who'd finally made the grade

They asked me how I'd got there
I shrugged, I couldn't guess
Although I'm not the worst I know
I'm not amongst the best

'Was Jesus Christ your saviour?'
I laughed and shook my head
'But did you believe in God?'
'Not up till now' I said

'Will you share your faith with us?'
By now there was a crowd
I became irreverent
And shouted very loud

'All I've ever cared about
Is having the best time
With lots of fun and laughter
Good food, bad men, great wine'

They all looked most uneasy
And glanced around in fear
'Be quiet you fool,' they whispered
'Do you want God to hear?'

'Haven't you figured out yet?
It's all a great big con!'
But when I looked around me
Everyone had gone

A clap of thunder rent the air
A gale began to blow
Flash of lightning. He was cross
'I say,' I said, 'good show!'

There came a deathly silence
I couldn't hide my grin
I bet that was the first time
That someone answered Him

He put his arms around me
And threw me to the ground
I thought that I was done for
My heart began to pound

'What about forgiveness God?'
I yelled 'You're just a fake'
Well that made him really mad
The ground began to quake

'Go ahead,' I raged at Him
'The worst that you can do
'Coz I can always laugh at me
But you can't laugh at You!'

And that is when I woke up
I've never felt so bad
God pinched my sense of humour
I ask you, what a cad

Ashley Jordan

The sun rains down upon the pebbles
And the sea washes gently over them
They glisten, cold, shiny and wet,
Each perfectly unique
A precious gem.

The sea wells up in its basin,
Moving turgidly, bombastic and pushy.
Each wave shifts and I see the beach
In a new and different way -
An order unlimited by staticity

I think of Fear.

Creeping in, a spider,
Stalking its prey.
Crouching in the shadows,
Behind smiling faces,
The mind of a murderer,
Waiting to lunge.
Metal hitting stone.
Silence of flesh
And screaming of spirit.
Staring blindly from the
Whites of your eyes
Trying to gauge the future.
Tasting like blood, salty,
Sticky and congealed.
Holding families together
And tearing them apart,
Like Velcro,
Always on the verge of
Re- or disconnecting
Odour of the wolf pack,
Sharp toothed and musky.

My ascending anxiety
Is tightening my chest
Constricting my lungs
I breathe in deeply
But the air is thin, unsatisfying
I am suffocating
Gasping like a fish
Out of water
I close my eyes
Feel my mind search
For a happy ending
Waiting until my
Panic attack subsides.

The sun rains down upon the pebbles
And the sea washes gently over them
They glisten, cold, shiny and wet,
Each perfectly unique
A precious gem.

Ashley Jordan

Fright of the Night

As I lie awake in bed
My fears are racing through my head,
A constant ritual that I dread.
I think of what could do me harm;
A terrifying nightly storm.
If only I could find some calm,
Then maybe I would get some sleep
But all my fears run far too deep.
Though when I rise to start the day
My fears just seem to slip away.

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

Sweets in my Pocket

The mission today is to go into town
An exercise in PR; they call it
Whilst I live in fear of losing my legs

One doesn’t share that of course
Part of a soldier’s dress code
Is the wearing of a confident smile

No sooner had we jumped from the truck
Than they were there; the children
My forced smile relaxes a little now

Tousled, dark-haired children;
The innocents; wanting only security
And the sweets from our pockets

Clinging to my roughened combats
Jabbering away; no pause for breath
Clamouring for individual attention

A few English words; intermixed
With their own foreign tongue
They learn fast, these children of war

Except I am not their teacher.

Jan Hedger

In whom do I trust?

Me mate and me
out on patrol
eyes peeled
for any unrest,
scanning the roofs
for snipers bullets.
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.

I was struck by a comment on the recent Radio 4 programme, that, how can you trust when you are befriended one day and become the enemy the next.  It instilled an image in my head – the darker side of imagination spoke and this poem was written.

Jan Hedger

Empty Teacups

The knock came at night, crashing into the midnight stillness.
Pulling the bedclothes high, I encased myself in their security
Abject fear engulfing every muscle, every sinew in my body.
Dad was the one who moved, sliding bare feet into slippers
As if they were placed there in position for this very reason.
I felt his cold, tremulous hand, gently rest upon my shoulder
Just briefly; before the incessant knock sounded again.
As he clicked the bedroom door quietly, but firmly behind him
I felt an overwhelming vacuum of complete and utter emptiness
The blood draining from my heart, leaving in its wake an echoing beat
I buried down deeper, to silence it. I am sorry Dad, you have to go alone.
I willed myself, indeed ordered myself to return to the state of sleep
To hide, from the compelling, waiting truth, behind tightly shut eyes
See the nightmare through, wake up refreshed, to a new spring day.
A day renewed with hope, that in two weeks my boy WILL be home!
Two weeks is nothing, for I waited twenty years for him to be born
Their came no others; he is my one pride and joy; and still my baby.
I don’t know if I did sleep, or just lay comatose into the early hours
But daylight was filtering through the curtains when my head obeyed,
A sudden inexplicit need to lift itself from the pillow comfort.
I thrust my arms firmly into the sleeves of a blue, corded dressing gown,
With a belied resoluteness, that I should pull myself together, be strong,
Go down, put the kettle on, Dad will need a cup of tea, sweet tea,
Always a comfort in a crisis, it’s what they had drunk in the other war.
My tread fell soft upon the carpeted stair, tentative and afraid,
Of the hidden truth of realisation, that awaited me; for a mother knew.
Dad was standing looking out at the garden, where a swing once stood
His shoulders stooped, his body collapsed, barely holding the weight of his frame
Lost in his own pain, he didn’t hear me come in, or feel my presence in the room.
It was the teacups that did it; just three white empty teacups,
Drained by the midnight callers, leaving their mark on the polished table.
A scream I couldn’t suppress unleashed itself from the depths of my womb
Filling the air with a grief that would never be explained or understood.
‘It’s our boy, isn’t it Dad. It’s our boy, he’s gone. My baby’s gone’.
Dad caught me just before I fell, ‘I know mom’ he uttered with a,
Strangled sob, ‘I know’.

Jan Hedger


Your Name: Jan Hedger
Your Comment: Amazing story Mark! As well as the seagulls you have captured ' social difficulties' of today's living - and very real characters - even the seagulls were real! Well done!

Your Name: jan hedger
Your Comment: Very good wee short poem Maia - what is fear?

Your Name: Richard Gildea
Your Comment: WHO’S AFRAID OF SEAGULLS? - Mark Crittenden.
Hello Mark, At one stage I was on the 'set' of Alfred Hitchcock's "Birds" movie. I enjoyed the way you introduced the "single" mark on Aaron's young face early in the piece. The later revelation of how it came about was well 'timed' in the context of your story. An excellent message about how early misdemeanours may come back to haunt us. Fear of our Avian friends by way of retribution, may relate to the avenging 'Dark Angels' within our psyche. Much enjoyed Mark, God Bless, Richard

Your Name: Richard Gildea
Your Comment: Honour thy Brother - Hello Ruth, I was so very moved by the fearful circumstances related to your Brother's story. Your remembrance of "That day of all days" when (Aged Nine) you realised for the first time He may be in danger. Such a sense of foreboding in one so young. I do believe it enabled you to cherish Him all the more.
God Bless, Richard

Your Name: Richard Gildea
Your Comment: Empty Teacups - Hello Jan, A Mothers loss so exquisitely expressed in this now sadly oft' familiar story. "The blood draining from my heart, leaving in its wake an echoing beat", these words tell us of the emptiness one feels, with the constant beat no longer echoed by that of a loving Son. My own heart aches for all Mothers and loved ones who experience such a loss. God Bless, Richard

Your Name: Jan Hedger
Your Comment: What a visual image Richard! Poets wandering around with paper and pencils - through a wildflower meadow with secret hide aways for the retreating ones amongst us! May I book the third rose arbor on the left please!

Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Your Comment: We'll be in great company if there is a special heavenly garden put by for us :-)  and I'll be in big trouble if He hasn't got a GSOH!

Your Name: Richard Gildea
Your Comment: "At Heaven's Gate" Hello Ashley, I have oft' pondered this scenario without such an 'In Your Face' exchange with my maker :) Do you suppose He has a special area set aside for poets, a sort of metaphorical garden where we are never really sure if we have 'Made it' (Published). What a shock to hear a rendition of "Come on baby light my fire" as our back catalogues fan the flames :) I am sure He has a sense of humour, difficult to express when you have heard them all before. God Bless Richard.

Your Name: Jan Hedger
Your Comment: Yes it is isn't it Ashley - welcome all new faces! Thanks for popping over Richard! Well done girls! Great diversity this month!

Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Your Comment: What a pleasure to see so many new people entering the Writing Challenge this month - I'd like to extend a warm welcome to Maia, Priyanka, Ruth and Richard :-)  Ruth your story brought a lump to my throat - thank you for sharing it with us.  Richard your piece struck a chord with me - so many dire prophecies and warnings seem to be manifesting around us -  let's hope our ending is as positive as your optimistic pessimist!

Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Your Comment: TheFED GroupSpace already has a forum.  Please feel free to set up a new category for your loose connections :-)
The address is http://groupspaces.com/TheFED/forum/

Your Name: Andrew DiamondYour Comment: Nice to see your work Maia. Yes, I am always happy to be in touch and a loose group of Fed members is a great idea. I wonder if the web site could provide a forum as well. Perhaps this is something we can follow through the Exec. Andrew

Your Name: Jan Hedger
Your Comment: Hi Marie - a good question Re; fear!

Your Name: Jan Hedger
Your Comment: You are never in the shade Andrew - you poems shine for me! No shining in this one though - just the creeping nightly darkness - caught in your words!
Ashley - esteemed leader - what a plethora of work! Gosh you are so poetically talented!
Shadows - magnetic. Serpents - a true cat. Fortress - emotionally deep.
Bereavement - lump in throat , so perceptive. Unknown poet - Based on a sceptre of truth - or powerfully imaginative. Fear - a mature piece indeed! And yes God does have a sese of humour! Fear balances our 'otherside' and so balances the FED challenges!

Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Thanks Jan - twice over in fact :-)  This website has 2 comment entry sections - although the 'built in' one only displays comments when you actually click on it.  I think this might be a click too far for some so I will try to remember to check it for anything left there and copy it onto the relevant challenge page.  Your original comment is above :-)

Your Name: Jan Hedger
Your Comment: re-submitted comment - first time lost in a distant galaxy! Andrew - slap your wrist! Thanks for you generous comment - but don't do yourself down - I love your work and I am glad you survived the crash!
Ashley - my, you have been super productive! Shadows - magnetic, Serpents - a true cat!, Fortress - emotionally deep, Bereavment - lump in throat, so perceptive, Unknown poet - Don't know if he was real - but your words made him so. I really felt this one. Fear, a mature piece and yes God does indeed have a sense of humour! You are a very talented poet dear friend.

Your Name: Ashley Jordan
Your Comment: A diverse collection Jan - it is the variety and interpretation of these challenges that make them so interesting and exciting to read! 
Andrew a great description of the night terrors disappearing in the light of day - it's hard to even remember what they were sometimes lol.

Your Name: Andrew Diamond
Your Comment: Brilliant and powerful Jan. Puts my stuff in the shade.


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