Two Sides

I split in two, I divide,
I side with me, with you, I hide
from the out, from the in,
run from the religion who damn as a sin
the divide, the division of soul,
of confusion where help needs a goal,
but, where rational thought,
does not.

I won’t play the game, play the stereotype,
live up to the hype
of the image that’s played
and no matter what’s said,
I can’t become that and it’s wrong to assume
the pretty-thing room
is the end of the road,
just because,
I follow a different code.

I’m forced to take blame in splendour
for all the idiots of my gender,
while facing the ultimate snub
from those in the opposite club
so, I split in two, I divide,
I hold my head up alone,
with pride.

‘Quarrels with the Gender Binary’ – an upcoming anthology exploring the diverse spectrum of gender discourse and experience: Click Here


New Moon

Deep within the darkest shadows’ dance
lies unseen, the bright new moon,
and so my unanswered questions fall
and leave me in this empty room.

But enduring loss the night sky shines
and blazes with a different wonder,
while my deepest questions are left to probe
past lightning and past thunder.

So standing here, under this new night,
my darkest questions should leave,
but in shadows cast by a different light
they all remain and grieve.

Daily Post Word Prompt: Suspicious

Hopeside Manor

PPJan2018The car started first time, which was rather surprising. April fumbled for a moment with the gear stick and slowly moved out of the garage and into the open. Immediately, the sound of the rain hammering on the roof hit her ears and she paused in the driveway for a moment. Perhaps this wasn’t such a good idea after all. However, she took a deep breath and, clicking the remote to close the garage door, slowly made her way into the street and drove off.

The windscreen wipers were now on full speed, but it was still difficult to see. The constant thumping on the roof, the hiss from the radio and the wash from traffic as it passed close by worried her. She had made her decision, however, there was no going back, she was going to go, she was going to see the place one last time.

There was a loud noise, of a sudden. It reminded her of that first time when she’d met Graeme in the small air-raid shelter.

I was so frightened, she remembered, not knowing if it was perhaps my house that had been hit, perhaps next door, perhaps a street away. Father was away, in France I’d been told, and Mother was rushing around helping everyone else, as usual. Graeme had spotted me and came over, putting his arm around me. He might only have been 17 or 18 himself at the time but he was so kind.

I remember looking up into his soft, brown eyes and melting. I felt safe for the first time in years. I think I fell asleep in his arms. What was I then, 15?

Outside, lights, colourful lights merged together in the wash of the windscreen. It reminded her of the first time she’d come to Hopeside Manor.

I remember seeing the house for the first time. Gosh, it was huge. I mean, I knew Graeme was from a wealthy family, but this! This! There were lights in the garden! Who would have guessed you could have lights in the garden? And meeting his mother for the first time, my she was a stern woman.

I remember being introduced to her, rather formally I thought. I think I might have curtsied I was so nervous. I spoke to her about books and how upset I was that the library had had to close.

‘A terrible mess this war isn’t it?’ she’d said, and then I remember so distinctly her turning to Graeme and saying, ‘She’s very pretty Graeme, wherever did you find her?’

I remember Graeme holding on to me tightly then, squeezing my hand to reassure me that all would be fine, he was always reassuring me that all would be fine.

There was a sudden stillness outside, save for the patter of the rain, quieter now. A small tear escaped from her eye as she remembered him more.

Then he had to go away, called up on his 19th birthday. I thought I’d die.

‘Wait for me’, he said, as he walked away in his uniform. So handsome. I have a picture still, somewhere, of him in that uniform, looking so young. I thought my heart would break waiting, always waiting for letters, for postcards, for the war to end.

The rain continued. She seemed to be stuck in a traffic jam now as nothing was moving.

I remember going down to the docks, when the ships sailed in. I remember looking at every single man as they came off that boat wondering if I’d even recognise him. Worried that he’d no longer love me. When I saw him finally, my heart almost stopped beating and I couldn’t move. I stared at him as he simply strode over to me, smiled his big cheery smile and held me so close I couldn’t breathe. I remember his first words to me on that return, ‘Marry me April, marry me now and let us never be apart again’.

Now, outside, there were strange sounds. Could it be bells? Why would there be bells? She remembered the bells ringing out at her wedding.

Growing up as a girl on a little estate, who would have guessed I’d ever have a huge society wedding? I still don’t know, to this day, what that dress cost but it was beautiful, and so heavy to wear. We stood there, together as man and wife on the steps of that massive church and I felt as though I were a princess in front of adoring crowds. My only wish would have been for my father to have given me away, but he never returned from France.

Were there now the sounds of crying? A small child?

When Jane was born I was the happiest woman on the planet. She was a difficult birth but it was such a long time ago I almost can’t remember. She’s been good to me Jane, best daughter a mother could ever have asked for. It was just after she was born we moved into Hopeside Manor and made it our home. How long did we stay there? Long after Graeme died.

The cars were not moving. The rain had not stopped completely but the windscreen wipers were no longer moving. It seemed calm for some reason. Someone was at the door. Why would someone be trying to get into her car?

Something snapped the day Graeme died. It was peaceful, sitting at his desk in the small library, Hamish curled at his feet keeping them warm, but the paper unread and the tea cold. When I saw him I knew straight away, and I think Hamish knew as well. He lifted his head and looked at me, and flopped back down.

I sat with him for a while and chatted about Jane and the children, how they wanted us to spend Christmas with them that year. But I loved Christmas at Hopeside, and besides, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to leave it. I don’t think I was ever the same again.

The car door opened and for a moment April was confused. She murmured something about, ‘a Graeme come to reassure her that it would be alright’.

It was Jane who finally persuaded me to leave Hopeside and into the small bungalow. It was closer to her place and I could see the grandchildren more easily, though Iain had gone to the University soon after I moved in. Hopeside was too difficult to look after, the servants all but gone, and it was sold. I read in the news some time ago there’d been a fire and it had burnt to the ground, which upset me greatly. However, I still wanted to see it one more time but it doesn’t really matter now that Graeme’s back.

The ambulance finally arrived and April was carefully removed from the wreckage of her car. Who knows what went through her mind in those last few moments of her life, but to everyone who saw her, it looked as though she’d died peacefully, with a gentle smile on her face.

The Visitors


Sean visited every year at this time, and had done so for seven years now. The first visit had been quite a surprise, but Frank had grown used to it, expected it, even looked forward to it in a strange, self-loathing kind of way. He kept the best armchair by the fire free for him, ensured the fire was well stoked so needed no attention for the duration of his visit, and placed a large whiskey on a little three-legged stool next to the arm of the chair ready for him coming.

He himself sat on a hard dining chair, some way to the back of the room, within the shadows of the old sideboard, dusty ornaments and fading pictures hanging on angled strings, a deeply patterned, rust coloured wallpaper as a backdrop. He had the rest of the bottle and his own glass by his side, keeping it refreshed regularly. The old grandmother clock on the wall behind him filled the frequent gaps in conversation with a gentle tick, measuring the time to when Sean would eventually leave as the fire crackled and sent images around the room, lighting up Sean’s figure which Frank would only view from behind, off to one side.

‘Lagavulin?’, enquired Sean, as he bent over the armchair and stared at the glass, the side of his face clearly visible to Frank by the light of the fire, though they made no eye contact at all.

‘Of course’, Frank replied, ‘Your favourite’. The clock ticked for a moment.

Sean straightened himself and stared back into the fire, though did not touch his whiskey. ‘Do you remember that first time we tried it, out by that bothy, what was it called?’

Frank knew the story. ‘Lochan Dubh’, he replied.

‘That was it’, Sean continued, ‘Lochan Dubh’. A spark leapt onto the carpet at Sean’s feet and fizzled out without either man attempting to extinguish it first. ‘And that shepherd bloke came by, do you remember?’

‘I do.’

‘And we’d been out on the kayaks that day, out on the loch, just the two of us mind? And he came in for a bit of shelter, seeing the smoke from the bothy. Mind that?’ Sean half-turned towards Frank, though still did not look directly at him.

Frank remembered the day well. It was cold and the fire they had built a welcome relief from hours on the icy water. He wasn’t used to whiskey and when the shepherd had offered the bottle around, he’d coughed and spluttered his first measure into the sharp air. They’d laughed.

‘I loved it then, I love it now’, Sean sighed as he peered at the glass over the arm of his chair. ‘Shame the second time at that bothy wasn’t so good, was it?’ he continued.

The shadows within the room seemed to die a little as the logs shuffled themselves within the hearth. Frank watched them until the flames grew strong again. The second armchair by the fire, until then seemingly empty, now revealed a second visitor while Sean continued reminiscing, ‘Aye it was a damn shame, such a lovely boat you know?’

‘I know’, replied Frank, stretching his neck to see his second visitor better. She turned slightly and smiled a soft smile at him.

‘Oh God no.’ Frank dropped his glass. ‘Not Jeanie.’

‘’Fraid so mate’. Sean turned further round in his chair and for the first time made eye contact, a hard stare, a plain cold face with a deep scar running from left eye across his cheek to the edge of his mouth. ‘Her machine was finally switched off this morning, the eighth anniversary of that day. A hard decision for her parents. She wanted to see you.’

The woman nodded slightly, a single tear escaping and slipping down her face before she turned back to face the fire and nestled deep into the chair.

‘And what of Tommy?’ Frank almost shouted, ‘So where’s fucking Tommy?’

Sean returned to face the fire. The clock ticked. The fire crackled. ‘I’ve been coming here for seven years Frank. Not once have you ever asked about Tommy, not once.’

Frank wiped his eyes and spoke through gritted teeth, ‘I’m asking now.’

‘Well’, said Sean, last I saw he’d his ankle trapped and he went down, right down to the bottom of the loch and I swear his soul kept on going. Envy is a sin you know, you should think about that.’

Frank stared at the second chair, where Jeanie had sat. ‘Will she visit every year?’ he asked.

The clock, of a sudden, chimed. When it grew silent again Sean shrugged, ‘Not my call’.

‘And Tommy?’ Frank asked.

Sean looked at Frank again. ‘It was you that was supposed to go down you know. He did it to get you, not us, we were just collateral damage.’ He then stared absently into the fire. ‘For your sake’, he whispered, shaking his head slightly, ‘I’m hoping Tommy doesn’t take to visiting.’

The clock ticked within the silent room, as Frank finished the bottle alone, and cleared away the empty glasses.

Surfer’s Paradise


Waves still crash, soft on the hammered shore,
while people dance, and sing,
nursing what went before,
though why this long line in the sand?
Living in deep waters, riding high on a crest,
we always sang, and knew our place,
and our place in Paradise is close, but lest
you steal it away,
while grains of sand create a beach,
in our single, softly trodden patch, we sway
in rising storms,
and now, where merging waters kiss
under open skies, and warm sun bakes,
we surf,
and ask you journey with us,
for all our sakes.


With my fingers all a quiver
She sings
And we begin our merry dance.
What wondrous chance
Has sought us two out
To come together in this way.
And soft sounds silence the air
As we sway as one
Entwined, a love so rare
My heart-strings pulled, stretched, fulfilled,
Overcome as we ignore all other types.
There’s just me, with you,
My fingers dancing
On my Irish pipes.

My Voice

Finding my voice, in this choir of calamity,
each chorus a mystery,
singing parts I can not reach
is a task I’ve been set

by choristers and masters alike,
demanding I find it, own it,
look for it in places I find hard to seek,
so fail

and instead settle into
my comfort zone, humming, drone,
soft circle of my personal scale
and feel some nurture there.