Damn Right I Am

but it was dark in the garden

the night was thick

it blotted out the light

inky, inky night

with cut-out stars

and ribbon winds

slithering through my coat

the leaves rustle

he’s here

what took him so long?

hey, he says

don’t hey me, punk.

I’m mad at you.

I found this girl, he says

oh, really?

That’s where you were?

Mmm-hmmm.

You mad?

mad?

You ditched me for

some other girl

what do you think?

But Ma, he says.

You’ll always be here.

here?

It’s too dark to see you tonight

he says

but I know you’re there

the clouds move

Oh! Ma!

he says

There you are!

the brightest star of them all

damn right I am

Love you, Ma

love you too, son

I’ll bring her to see you

tomorrow

excuse me?

this place ain’t big enough

for some other girl

see you later, Ma

see you always, son

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Welcome to my Prison

There are no colours in my life

They died.

JUST LIKE THAT!

and i started to cry.

DON’T HURT ME!

i said

they didn’t listen.

and now

I’ve hardened my heart

it’s here

welcome to my

Prison.

Bled Inside

I walked through the graveyard

Not a soul left in sight

The rows of coloured flags

Waved gently in the night

My steps were not as heavy

As the tombstones all around

But there was one half-hidden

As it lay, cracked, upon the  ground

The stone was dark and grimy

Its message, hard to read

But I knew of its story

Its death, a horrid deed

No demon is more evil

Than the one the fates foretold

Would slaughter all our love

And turn all our hearts cold

The tombstone bears the date

That I’ll rue forevermore

The day we fell to pieces

The day we lost the war

Do you remember it at all?

It was the day love died

When all of Earth turned its back

As we stood and bled inside

Damn

i didn’t know

blood was so red.

the way it flows

so fast

it drips

from the knife

to the floor.

Damn.

I’m in a puddle of it.

all i wanted

was a piece of your heart.

A Little Prop

I was wearing jeans for the first time to the hospital, and had left my stethoscope upstairs. I had just come in from outside. The day was hot and breezy; it was no surprise, therefore, that my greasy hair was windblown, and my lips were chapped.

I didn’t care; there was no mirror nearby, and I was hot, sweaty, and irritable. But I didn’t realise how bare my appearance had left me to the assumptions of others.

“Excuse me, dear,” said a fragile, elderly woman, wearing a pink coat larger than she was. “Where are the hats?”

“H-Hats?!” I’ve been asked for many things in my short career, but never for ‘hats’. I glanced around, wondering if she’d been speaking to someone else.

Nope. Just me.

“Yes. Hats. You work here, don’t you, sweetie?”

I looked down at my jeans, yellow t-shirt, and badge. I could see why she would have thought that. Although I’d never worked in sales in my life.

“N-no,” I said, still not having recovered from this foreign role thrust upon me. How did you respond to these sorts of questions? “…b-but I can help you look! I think I saw some over there.”

“No, not those.” The woman waved her hand dismissively. “Those are too big.”

“Well, what about…”

“Don’t worry.” The woman turned her back to me. “It’s okay. I’ll find someone who actually knows.”

Later on, when I had fixed my hair and recovered my stethoscope, I saw the woman in the cafeteria.

“Did you find your hat?” was the first thing out of my mouth.

“Oh, yes, dearie!” she said eagerly, reaching in her bag to show me. “Thank you so much for your help! Just look at it! Isn’t it darling?”

Help? I hadn’t remembered giving any help. In fact, I remember her distinctively dismissing my help.

Funny how a little prop around your neck can make a world of difference.

Jackpot

Sometimes

the shadows win

sometimes a feather in the night

is nothing more

and everything you once feared

Lives.

It lives in you

and me. Sometimes.

But, it is stronger, in you.

It lives in your eyes

your soul

your voice

and it grows

OH! It’s HUGE!

don’t blame me when I run away.

Oh, yes, she loves me!

But she is strong, like fire and rain. She hold my

hands, and shields me from pain. Oh, she loves

me, and tells me that our love is like fire in the

night, and it will always burn bright.

No, there is neither wind nor water which will

extinguish our true because it was sent from

heaven, you know, straight from God above

and maybe someday you will know, yes, you

and all those others who laugh and scorn and condescend

because you are all jealous of my mother.

Cherry Mahogany

Her skin was dark. Cherry mahogany. The way she smiled
the way she looked at me was so foreign. So unfamiliar.
I didn’t know what to say. She thought
I could make it all better, make it go away with just
the touch of a hand. I wanted to tell her, I’m just the student! Let me go get the doctor!
But even the doctor couldn’t make this better.
She looked at me like I had a power. The power to make everything
better. She was kind, and bright, and open. But everything else was dark and closed.
She looked at me like I had answers. She wanted answers. She wanted to know.
But I had no answers. Not for her. Not for me.
No one did.
And so she died. And a little part of me did, too.

The Red Shoes

Dame Vivica, the witch’s apprentice, climbed the steep steps to the castle doors. It was dark, for there was neither moon nor stars. Even the air seemed stifled by the black, velvety night; the only sound was that of Vivica’s shoes clanking against the stone floor.

When she reached the final step, Vivica looked down. Her shoes were red today. Bright red, with high heels. It was a bit impractical for the muddy woodlands, Vivica reasoned, but she hardly cared. The sombre, modest attire traditional for witches didn’t suit her tastes. She needed something of her own. Something flamboyant and flashy. Something which would catch the eye.

Vivica raised her hand to knock, but the door opened before she could. “Come in,” said a disembodied voice.

Vivica obeyed, her long gowns flowing behind her as she took large, confident strides. The antechamber was as dark as outside, bar a single candle which floated in the middle of the room.

“Shamanka Yasmina,” said Vivica, acknowledging her mistress. “I did not expect to find you here at this hour.”

“I did not expect to find you wandering through the woods at this hour,” said Yasmina. “You are late for midnight spells. Need I remind you of the importance of the work we do here?”

“No, Shamanka,” said Vivica. “I apologise for being late. Shall I start the fire for the Larkspur Potion? There is no moon tonight.”

“…was it a boy, Vivica?” The question was pointed, sharp.

“I’m sorry, Shamanka?” said Vivica.

“Don’t play ignorant, Vivica. It doesn’t become you.” Yasmina sighed. “Was it a boy? A man? Another warlock, perhaps?”

“I’m sorry, Mistress,” said Vivica, folding her hands. “I don’t know what you’re speaking about.”

“Young ladies don’t wander the woods at nights alone for pleasure,” said Yasmina. “Not even the apprentices of witches and warlocks.”

“Shamanka!” said Vivica, aghast. “I would never dream of it! I know our code. I swore an oath to it! I have renounced the company of men, under the pains of death and eternal damnation.”

“Is that so?” said Yasmina, sounding slightly amused. “Your shoes suggest otherwise.”

Vivica looked down at the mentioned objects. In the dim light, they seemed even brighter.

“We didn’t do anything, Shamanka!” Vivica said, in spite of herself. “We’re only friends.”

“Only friends.” The disdain in Yasmina’s voice was clear. “Next you’ll be telling me that you’re ‘not pregnant’, and then that it’s ‘not his baby’. Or that you’re not going to keep the baby at all.”

“I had to see him, Mistress!” Vivica was desperate, now. “This was the last time, I promise!”

“Of course it was.” Yasmina blew the candle out. “I’ll take those shoes, if you please, Vivica. I must meet with Lady Petra in the morning to discuss this matter further. She will determine your punishment.”

Vivica handed over said objects with reluctance. They were her prized possession, and she knew that, even in the best case scenario, she would not be seeing them again.

It was lucky for her that Shamanka Yasmina would be leaving at first light. It would give her time to find a potion which would kill the babe growing inside her before it got too large.

The Bishop’s Wife

She stands by the window. Lady Petra, the Bishop’s wife, wearing a flamboyant gown from her youth. But the corset is pulled too tightly, and you can see the threads struggling. She is neither as thin nor as fair as she once was, but she paints her face to give the illusion of youth. An illusion many of the passers-by fall prey to. They are easy to fool. She watches the young men of the village go by, happy with their wives and their newborn babes. They are oblivious to the jealous eye of the vile Lady Petra. Oh, woe to the man who catches her eye! His moral mettle is no match for the beguiling charm of the Bishop’s wife.

As the Bishop’s wife, of course, she must follow the rules he sets rules for the town. Lady Petra is faithful; she does not break her vows. But there is no rule to say she cannot bend them for her amusement. Especially when her husband is as flat and boring as he is!

Many a young man has been swept into her curse. She hides in the shadows, whispering sweet nothings over the telephone in return for a pledge, a word, a sigh. She stares — oh, yes, she stares! — at the men passing by as she rides through her carriage, silk fan in hand, the neckline of her dress cut just low enough to be noticed. She is a flirt, a tease. But she never goes all the way.

The Bishop’s wife is cunning, to say the least.

 —

Today, the Lady Petra sees a familiar face pass beneath her window. Not a man, but a woman. It is her young sister, the fair Lady Anne, walking with a stranger. Lady Petra licks her lips. He is quite handsome, this strange man. Why has she never seen him before?

The stranger passes Lady Anne a small pouch. Petra’s eyes widen. What is it? Money? Jewellry?

But Lady Anne doesn’t open it. She only curtseys and leaves the man standing alone, his eyes following Anne all the way out the gates of the manor.

He never once glances up at the window, where Lady Petra stands. Petra is outraged. How dare a man not notice her, while noticing her pathetically noble sister instead! She is the Bishop’s wife! She is the one men worship!

Not that wretched Lady Anne.

Later that night, Lady Anne and her maid arrive at the Bishop’s house to pay their respects. Both of them have arms full of fresh fruits and breads from the market. The Bishop is cordial to them, perhaps because they have brought his favourite sweetmeats. But, behind him, Lady Petra is furious. She corners her sister as soon as the Bishop excuses himself.

“Who is he?” Petra asks, her voice laced with venom.

“Who is who?” says Anne.

“Don’t be daft,” says Petra. “Your secret lover. The one you were walking with today.”

“Lover…?” Anne asks, confused.

“You can tell me,” Petra says, swinging an arm over Anne’s shoulders. Adultery is punishable by death. Petra can only imagine the glee if Anne’s lover is a married man. “It stays between the two of us.”

“Ain’t been no one new, mum,” Anne’s servant chimes in. “Less’n you mean Chris.”

“Chris?” Petra says. Is that his name? It sounds so plain!

“Oh, Chris!” Anne laughs. It sounds forced. “Don’t be silly, Nina.”

But it is too late. Petra has caught up to her game.

“Who is ‘Chris’?” says Lady Petra. “Is he tall and dark, with a moustache and an unshaved face?”

“No!” says Lady Anne. “He is our new garden gnome, who tends to the cauliflowers and carrots, and helps Cook with the stew.”

“Oh,” says Petra. A gnome? She knows that Lady Anne is famously generous, but employing a gnome seems a bit too much, even for her.

Petra decides her sister is lying. “Then who was that gentleman you were seeing earlier? The one who gave you a gift?”

“Oh, that man!” Anne laughs again. This time, it is genuine. “He is the herbs dealer. We’ve had a long winter, and the forests aren’t full as yet. I’m surprised you haven’t noticed him as yet. He is often around.”

Herbs dealer, Petra thought, as her eyes darkened. I suppose I could work with that.