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Write Out Loud
29 October 2012
You thought you knew,
as you knew you thought
an assumption had killed off
the irritating ‘who am I?’
But did you turn your back, ignore,
or was it when your back was turned,
that the innocuous hand mirror,
lying in the place especially forgotten,
It happens every year on the 31st of October
October should be called Shocktober
Because of course it is Haloween
Its so much fun to hear the people scream
Me and my friends will take to the streets
knocking on doors shouting trick or treat
They come to the doors are goulish faces to meet
They load our baskets with chocolates and sweets
There are so many people to scare
But the problem is what am i going to wear
I could go as a witch with a tall black hat
I could even take along the family black cat
Or get a white sheet and go as a ghost
they are the ones that seem to scare the most
Or should i go as a skeleton with rattling bones
I cant wait to hear those haunting moans
I might go as a zombie risen from the dead
With fake blood oozing from my head
i cant decide wether to go as a vampire
with blood as my one and only desire
I for one love haloween
the undesirable things that it means
Then there is the scarey spiders and creepy cobwebs
such small and innocent creatures yet people seem to dread
I love to make lanterns from orange pumpkins
My mum always uses the insides to make something
Haloween is my favourite time of the year
As out of the woodwork strange things start to appear
Kooky in Marcus Garvey Park
When you find yourself inside of a space on the edge of time
Surrounded in a strange place bang bang bang
Under a long sleep
Still Water is my name
As you seek refuge in the power of darkness
As the black raven flies in common rhythm
In the still of the night
© 10/19/12 Carlos Raúl Dufflar
The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective
There are a million eyes upon you passing down a dark avenue.
How does democracy live where the pathway to the truth
is strewn with danger in speaking your mind?
When Spooks Incorporated scares you into
You are left much more ready to survive than to fight!
© 10/19/12 Ángel L. Martínez
The Bread is Rising Poetry Collective
Cloud walkers of the red thread
My atoms were rearranged
Providing a covering
For the earth and a pattern for tomorrows flowers
Records of my history, my existence
Are randomly distributed
Amongst far greater amounts of information
Though I know not where
Archaeology has sway over this now
The sunlight I used to absorb
Will be spread amongst
And the wind once upon my face
Will blow unhindered to the south
The space I have left
Is for experimentation and research in awareness
Any monuments I have erected
Will soon be forgotten
Unless as a reminder of the futility
As time merely exists
To stop everything happening in the same moment
Once you have gazed upon Kali’s face
And raised the serpent of Kundalini
You see everything is here
And always will be
So I consult myself
The cloud walker
My elongated finger
Able to reach the most distant lift buttons
And the curious pale blue powder
I am liquid
And the cabled box drops opening to the corridor
I do not recognise
Intricate red thread crosses my path
As I become aware
I am naked for my appointment with a hooded judge
Flanked by jackals
And the flames of immortality
Fanned by the tunnel wind
Cloud walkers of the red thread
Once you have gazed upon Kali’s face
And raised the serpent of Kundalini
You see everything is here
And always will be
In my haste to escape
I break the thread
And the frogs I trapped as a boy
Tumble from the sky
My entrails are laid bare
To show my condemnation
Revealing the black draw string bag
I stole from my mothers drawer
These are placed upon the ornamental plinth before my gaze
I bow to the inevitable needle of my failures
To be transported to the empty desert
Where I find sweetness and freedom
In the noon day sun and warm sand of shortest shadow
Freud sits behind my bed
To win praise for his description of my castration anxiety
I become a cloud walker
Of the red thread
[The trance vision of the shaman contacting the ancestors - an experience I had]
Andrew Henry Smith 2007
HARRY’S GHOSTLY ADVENTURE
Little eleven-year-old Harry Craddock was lying in bed awake. Not noticing the teddy bear, seated on the chair in the corner, whose shadow loomed over him like a menacing phantom, Harry stared impatiently past his favourite football team printed wallpaper, globe, and Airfix space rocket towards the bottom of the bedroom door, at the gap, which gave off a long strip of light. He let off a huge sigh of relief when it finally disappeared into the darkness.
Suddenly, there was a slow tapping noise on the window, making Harry jump out of bed in shock, for he had remembered the televised local news bulletin, earlier on, warning all children to be vigilant, as a crazed madman had escaped from the local asylum. That very madman, known as Old Skip, a fisherman once lost at sea, where, according to Harry’s Grandpa Bert, the rest of the crew had become somewhat part of the lunch menu.
Reluctantly, Harry slowly pulled open the curtains, nearly freezing in terror when a creepy old man’s wrinkled face, with wild piercing eyes, stared in at him.
“Harry! It’s me, Earnest,” said the figure, removing the mask to reveal a brown haired boy donning rounded spectacles.
Excitedly, but quietly, Harry changed out of his pyjamas into a yellow t-shirt and his favourite pink flared jeans (with a blue embroidered seahorse on each leg), before shaking his blonde hair until it fell tidily into place.
Leaving the bedroom, Harry tiptoed into what appeared to be a black empty space that seemed to lead into the unknown; a somewhat different space to what he was use to seeing during the daytime. That time when he had spent endless mornings sliding down the banister, before landing on both feet and colliding noisily with the coat stand, which now resembled a silhouetted figure that was about to ascend the stairs towards him.
Warily, Harry slowly descended the staircase, each stair creaking louder than the previous one, drowning out the loud breathing noises emerging from the darkened landing.
Suddenly, as Harry reached the bottom, the clattering of milk bottles could be heard from outside, followed by the kicking of the front door.
“Old Skip.” thought Harry, running into the living room, before the front door burst open, slowly creaking in the process.
Harry peered through the gap in the doorway to discover a wavy dyed black haired young woman, donning tartan striped clothing, running upstairs, the sound of her platform shoes drowning out The Bay City Rollers’ ‘Give a Little Love’, coming from the vehicle outside. Its headlamps lit up the whole living room, especially the one-day calendar, which read, Friday 31st October 1975, not to mention the paintings of the green faced lady and the weeping boy, whose eyes seemed to follow Harry around the room. That very room, where family arguments took place nearly every breakfast time amidst sister Maureen’s tinily transistor radio, noises that now only seemed to be distant echoes of the past.
“Is that you, Our Reeny?” shouted a female voice.
“Yes!” replied Maureen.
“Well! Would you mind keeping the noise down? Your father has got to be up early for his morning shift.”
“Not my fault I forgot to take my flaming front door key!”
Harry waited a couple of minutes, before leaving the living room, putting on his blue platform shoes, grabbing his green parka and sneaking out through the back kitchen, the slow drip-dropping of water, from a tap, breaking the deafening silence.
“Wohhh!” exclaimed Harry as Earnest peered round the back door, shining a torch up into his face, causing Harry to rush past and collide with the ladder, which fell against the outhouse roof with one almighty crash.
“Quick!” said Harry, grabbing his red chopper bike, rushing into the ginnel, with Earnest following suit.
Both boys wheeled their bikes down the darkened back alley, before reaching the bottom of a cobbled street. A mist was escalating as Harry and Earnest past the many red-bricked terraced houses, the light from the street lamp reflecting their darkened windows, creating the illusion of sinister shadows lurking behind. All dark apart from one upstairs front window, where an elderly woman sat staring at the two boys, her fixating eyes starting to become embedded within Harry’s thoughts.
Both Harry and Earnest leant their bikes up against the wall at the side of a two-storied medieval building. A building, where, from the front, at a distance, resembled a sinister looking face. Its windows were like gaping eyes, and its main entrance, a widened mouth.
“This,” said Earnest, grabbing hold of the corrugated shutter, which covered the whole of a small window, “is the old haunted priory.”
Both boys pulled at the barricade.
“Heave! Heave!” they shouted, before finally releasing it and falling backwards, causing a loud crash, which disturbed a nearby cat, its sudden snarling making them freeze in terror.
“Come on!” snapped Harry, already halfway through the window.
Coughing and wheezing as they entered the dust ridden darkened room, Harry and Earnest had trouble breathing as they hit an invisible wall of musty stale air.
A long wood wormed table, with two long benches on either side, could be seen as Earnest shone the torch around the room. The light circled past a large window, which looked out onto an overgrown lawn surrounded by high bricked walls, before reaching a winding narrow staircase, some of its stone steps corroded and broken over the eons of time.
“Wohhh!” shouted both boys, as the glow suddenly halted in front of an upper alcove, its inhabitant taking the form of a monk-like figure, whose hand seemed to be pointing in their direction.
“Oh!” exclaimed a relieved Earnest. “It’s only a mannequin.”
“Climb up on that chair,” said Harry, “and give it a nudge.”
“Are you mad?”
“Go on! I’ll give you one of my Chewits.”
“Oh! All right then,” said Earnest, hesitantly climbing up onto the chair.
Suddenly, as Earnest tapped the figure, the hand came loose and dropped to the floor, after nearly hitting Harry in the face. His sudden bout of shock was short-lived as he leant down to take a closer look at the limb.
“Bah!” exclaimed Harry. “It’s made of rubber.”
“Can I have my hand back?” whispered the mannequin slowly.
Both boys jumped back, as the monk-like figure jumped out of the alcove, landing on the floor in front of them, before laughing and removing the black robed costume to reveal a plump body with a head of long curly hair.
“John!” snapped Harry, slapping him on the shoulder. “You idiot!”
“How did you get in?” asked Earnest.
“Through the front door, of course!” answered John.
Suddenly, as all three boys started to push each other around, the whole garden lit up.
“What’s that?” queried John.
As each boy took a closer look, a shroud of robed monks, with their faces blacked out, entered, led by one who was a lot smaller than the others. They circled around the moss-ridden sundial, making strange murmuring noises.
“Let’s take a closer look!” whispered a scared, yet intrigued John, who had tripped over what felt like a piece of cable, creating a crashing sound in the process.
“Leg it!” shouted Harry, as the ghostly monks stopped and then proceeded towards where the three boys were stood.
Outside the main entrance, Harry, Earnest and John rode their bikes at full speed along the overgrown gravelled driveway, whilst the monks stood silently watching them until they were out of sight.
Harry, Earnest and John slowed down, before dismounting their bikes, after reaching a towpath, a route adjacent to the canal, which snaked through the upper central area of Darlsbrough.
A thick blanket of mist had formed on the murky water’s surface, rising upwards towards the path, settling on the three boys’ parkas and jeans, making them feel damp.
As they pushed their bikes along towards an underpass of a bridge, munching their Chewits, which Harry had passed around, they felt, at long last, safe within their urban concubine, or so they thought until the lighting in the tunnel started to cast three sinister shadows.
Before they could reach the other end of the towpath, a ghostly looking monk appeared through the mist. It silently stood in front of the boys, blocking their escape route, entrapping them between the two ends of the path and the icy water on one side, and boarded up derelict houses on the other.
“Right!” snapped Harry, plucking up courage. “I’ve just about had enough of this.”
Harry mounted his chopper bike, and cycled at full speed, with Earnest and John following suit.
“Okey dokey!” he shouted, raising his legs outwards, knocking over the three monks as he passed under the bridge, not acknowledging that a green Citroën CX, blasting out Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, had stopped above, where its passengers, four monks, had got out and made their way down the grass verge.
Suddenly, Harry braked, for out of the mist emerged a scruffy looking elderly man, with a wrinkled unshaven face. It was Old Skip.
Harry froze in terror, making a gulping noise in his throat, as Old Skip’s piercing yellow eyes stared right at him.
Lunging towards Harry, who quickly moved out of the way, Old Skip tripped over John, landing flat on his face.
“Quick! Let’s sit on him,” said John, oblivious to the arrival of a police panda car.
Two policemen came running down the bank.
The monks removed the hoods, pulling black stockings away from their heads.
“That’s Mr. Lawson!” said John, pointing to a grey haired man, donning black thick-framed spectacles. “Our old caretaker.”
“And that’s Miss Ribbon,” remarked Earnest, looking towards a young woman, whose blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail. “Our ex-primary school teacher.”
“The Mayor of Darlsbrough,” said Harry, coming face-to-face with a balding short stocky man, with a moustache.
“Shut up!” snapped the Mayor. “We were making a reconstruction documentary about ghostly monks, until you and your ilk smashed up our filming equipment. You’ve ruined everything.”
“On the contrary,” said one of the policemen, approaching Old Skip. “These lads have saved the day.”
As Old Skip was being led away, the smallest dressed monk approached Harry, pulling down the hood and removing the stocking to reveal a head of brown hair tied into bunches.
“Hello Harry!” said the girl soppily.
“Veronica Dribbleswaite,” snapped Harry. “Not only have you been following me about at school and on the streets all those years, but stalking me whilst dressed as a monk.”
“Yes! I’ve been helping my daddy, the Mayor, with his film,” said Veronica, stroppily, “until you and your stupid friends came along and ruined it. But I’ll forgive you, if you let me give you a kiss.”
“Oh no!” exclaimed Harry.
And what could be worse than being stared at by a creepy old woman, made to jump because of a screeching cat, chased by sinister looking monks, and frightened by a lunatic, was having two slobbering lips coming towards your face.
Jack had always admired her necklace. It was Mrs Jenkins pride and joy. It was a present from her husband Gerald who had been killed in the Korean War so many those years ago, but she felt him close when she wore it. It was a Red Indian chief fashioned in silver with reds and blues for the headdress. It hung on a thick silver chain around her neck. Every time she came into the minimart Jack would ask to look at it and she always obliged. He was fascinated by it.
Jack was a pleasant young man and worked for Mr. Patel the owner of the minimart. He always helped her fill her shopping bag.
Mrs Jenkins lived alone in her big house. She had run a lodging house; but it became too much and now she just lived in the downstairs flat with Betty and Prissy her cats and the Myna bird one of her lodgers had given her. It was an incessant talker and a great mimic, you only had to say a word and it could repeat it.
It was few days before Christmas and Mrs Jenkins was getting stocked up for her family coming on Boxing Day, but she had so many groceries; and so heavy. Jack helped her fill the bags.
“Now how are you going to get them home Mrs Jenkins?”
“I’ll have to make two trips Jack. She said.
“Nonsense said Mr. Patel, Jack will help won’t you.”
“Of course I will Mr Patel.”
They both set off with Jack pushing one of the shop trolleys.
“I’ll help you in with this lot Mrs. Jenkins”
Thank you Jack.”
When all the groceries were in she gave Jack a cold drink and £5.0 for his kindness. Jack admired the necklace again.
No one noticed that Mrs Jenkins wasn’t around, because of Christmas and because she’d stocked up, until Boxing Day when her family couldn’t get in they rang the police; who, with their permission broke in.
Late on Christmas Eve Jack lay in bed wearing the Indian Chief medallion around his neck, stroking it. He’d kept it hidden beneath his shirt all night no one would see it so that but now alone he was admiring it in his drunken state. As he stroked it the chain seemed to be getting tighter and tighter.
When they found Mrs Jenkins body, the Minor bird was squawking “Don’t hurt me Jack. Please don’t hurt me.”
When Jack didn’t turn up for work after Christmas they broke into his digs and found him dead, apparently choked on his own vomit. They couldn’t explain the mark around his neck.
Mrs Jenkins precious medallion was found clasped in her hand and was buried with her.
By Jim White
I walk down the street.
On the left side
there is a cemetery.
There are houses
On the right
Ready for Halloween
Each of them decorated
With some kind
Sitting on the porches.
One of them
Is pinned to the wall.
Ghosts are everywhere.
With big toothy grins.
Hand-carved pumpkin heads
Sitting on the steps
Together with pots
Of autumn flowers.
Even the apartments have
In the windows
Like flying witches
On their brooms
Or cooking in the cauldrons
Their homemade brew.
It is one spooky town
And it will be full of spooks
On trick-or-treat night,
Will be collecting
Their sweet dues.
What is your name I asked?
The glass jerked beneath my hand and I was unable to hold it back. It circled my home-made ouija board once, twice and then stopped at the letter I.
“I” I said aloud.
“X?” I asked, confused. It took me to 'yes' and then T.
“T” I said. A and B followed. Then the glass was still.
“Ixtab? Is that your name?” I asked. The glass shattered in my hand before I had a chance to drop it.
“My name is Eesh-tarb.” A woman's voice said clearly, from just behind my left shoulder. I gasped. I knew that I was no longer alone in the room. I started to turn around.
“Don't” she commanded. So I looked at the broken glass in front of me. The jagged edges all seemed to be pointing directly towards me and I felt all my potential, choices and options constricting around me twisting, rope-like, into a single, unbreakable chord. The connection had been made.
“What do you want from me?” we both asked at the same time. Her voice was rich, heavily flavoured with an accent I did not recognise, although I could tell it was South American.
I waited for her answer – and she waited for mine. After some seconds, I realised I would have to go first. Words and explanations tripped over themselves as I tried to extract the truth I wanted to convey from the confusion in my mind.
“I” I began, uncertainly,
“I understand” she replied. And I knew, immediately, that she really did. Overwhelmed by relief and gratitude, I neither noticed nor cared that she did not answer the question herself.
We worked side by side. Her stories flew through me so fast that I had forgotten them as soon as they were sent. They were accepted and paid for with astonishing speed. My maxed out credit cards were paid up in full, my mortgage repayments were up to date and my bank balance was going up and up.
My days were spent typing furiously, and the last thing I did at night was nip downstairs with the latest bundle of addressed manuscripts, which the doorman kindly posted for me. I had always done this myself in the past – but Ixtab was adamant. If she was going to work with me she wanted 100% commitment from me. Had the creative energy I was using been my own, I would have burned out within a few weeks, but as I was merely the conduit I was able to survive on my daily sandwich and canned soup supper. Although I never had time to read them myself, I heard from my friends that they were getting very favourable reviews from the critics and general public alike.
We slipped into an easy routine, Ixtab and I. I awoke, made coffee and sat at the computer. She wove plots, characters and scenes from behind me and it no longer seemed strange to be taking dictation from a disembodied voice. If my attention wandered, or I allowed myself to be distracted I experienced a tightening sensation around my throat. I did not feel any pain or fear, but it was uncomfortable – and so she taught me to ignore all incoming calls and emails from my friends. Eventually, even this contact with the outside world dwindled – and almost without my noticing, my former life slipped away and was lost, unrecalled and unmissed.
Five years passed by, with very little variation. By now my life was running like clockwork. Groceries were delivered each week from the local supermarket. My bills were paid by direct debit. I was secure, comfortable even, and I had not set foot outside my apartment block in four and a half years or spoken to anyone in almost three years.
Then one day Ixtab was gone. I waited and waited for her to return. I called for her – even recreated the Ouija board I had used to summon her in the first place, but to no avail.
I thought about writing on my own, but fear and doubt held me back. What if my own stories were no good? What if my mediocrity as a writer overshadowed the brilliance of Ixtab's work? What if everyone guessed that I was a fraud and a cheat, putting my name to another woman's stories?
I had time to reflect, and my reflections were not happy ones. I had taken from her and offered nothing in return. I had never acknowledged her or even admitted that she existed. Guilt and shame welled up inside me. I finally knew what I had to do.
So, awkwardly, clumsily, I wrote the true story of my connection with Ixtab. I printed it, placed it in an plain brown envelope addressed to my editor. It was professional suicide.
The last thing I wrote was my personal suicide note.
There is no-one left to address it to, so I am leaving it on my desk, for whoever discovers me...
Ixtab is a Mayan name for Goddess of suicide and hanging.
The cemetery at Abney Park
On Halloween, just after dark,
Has witches gathering at its gates
Who've come to play with all their mates,
The spirits rising from the graves.
On this night nobody behaves
And anybody passing by
Who's gifted with the Evil Eye
Will see all the frivolity
Occuring in the cemetery.
They will hear the banshees wail
And watch ghosts rolling in the aisle
Between the tombstones through the night
While witches dance in sacred rite
To cast their spells until the morn
When, magically, they all have gone.
Old Stan wrung his cap in puzzlement, something was wrong, deeply wrong. He stared down at the huge cross-over pulley and tried to remember - - - Yes! The tailrope, the tailrope was slack ! This was not right. He looked up to the familiar corner where the bell pull hung, but was confounded again, nothing hung there. Must have been gnawed through by the rats again, he thought. Nothing for it, he would have to climb up to the upper station. The track seemed to be getting steeper, or he was getting older. On the way up, the down car passed him and a dozen kids waved. Stan hurried, shocking images in his mind of what could happen if the cable broke - steel wire released from tons of tension, whipping about, flaying anybody in the way. In his mind, the car full of happy faces plummeting down the track to crash disastrously into the lower station. Stan finally reached the top and climbed down the ladder to the engine h ouse. He was short of breath and his eyes took time to adjust in the dark underground room. He just could not understand what he now saw. Where there should be a beautiful gleaming gas engine was a heap of old junk rusting away. Stan sat down heavily in astonishment, then slowly faded away. You see, old Stan died saving 10 children in a lift accident at the West Hill Lift in 1924.
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.
Phantoms of the Forest Mist
In the woods, dead of night
Snapping twigs give you a fright
Fog drifts in through leaves and trees
You start to feel ill at ease
Creeping slowly up behind
Tell yourself, they're in your mind
Hurry, hurry, faster go
They're getting closer still you know
The wood's edge is now in sight
Start to run with all your might
Trip and stumble, then fall down
So you crawl across the ground
Branches hold you back it seems
This is a nightmare not a dream
Frantic now, you try to wake
But this time there is no escape
Within your chest your heart is pounding
Silently, the fog surrounding
Eerily they writhe and twist
The phantoms of the forest mist.
Mum and Dad
That was her chair
She always sat there
Her natural place
No invading her space
That’s where she sort
Of sat and held court
And after she died
Dad sat there and cried.
I looked in his grave;
He lay next to Mum
And then, in my head,
A picture had come
Of days when at school
And home for my lunch.
My friends all would call;
A glad, noisy bunch.
My parents were there
And they both looked on.
I thought of those days
And realised they’d gone.
But there are now times
When my parents return
Because there are lessons
I still have to learn.
They're seen in my children
And granddaughter Beth
And that's how I know
There is life after death.
I look in the mirror and see my dad;
It happens more often as I get older,
I look more like him above the shoulder.
I look at my daughter and see my dad.
Wherever I look I seem to be spooked;
I find it daunting, he seems to be haunting.
When I search for my mum my dad seems to come.
It isn’t funny, I owed him money
Which took him so many years to earn
And which we both knew I’d never return.
I didn’t see him frequently;
He’d be up with the lark and home after dark.
We’d pass on the stairs, I was always polite;
I’d wish him good morning and good night.
He always worked hard for his family,
His one responsibility.
I took advantage, contemptuously
And enjoyed myself, tremendously.
Now he’s always there whenever I stare
And he won’t go away; he’s making me pay!
The Ghost Who Lives in the Toilet
The ghost residing in my loo
Wipes my bottom when I’ve been.
A hand emerges from the bowl
And makes sure I am nice and clean.
If other people use the seat
My phantom likes to have some fun.
He’ll wait until they’re comfortable
And then he’ll pinch them on the bum.
I don’t know when the ghost arrived
And I don’t know how long he’ll stay.
Perhaps he must be exorcised
If I want him to go away.
But I find it convenient
To have him living down the hole.
It saves on toilet paper
Which just stays upon the roll.
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