Messenger

I wrote my name
Amongst the stars
Alongside yours;
Together we traced
Our fingers
Through space, between
Planets and moons
Suns and asteroids,
Amazed by the intricate details
Of those impossible places
Never touched by man.
I dispersed my being
Across the sky,
Every flaw exposed
And hoped
That when you looked up
At that sky,
You would see my message;
Wherever we laid our heads,
Whatever misery
Our separation brought us,
I was still with you.


© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City Of The World”

Please visit my author page and share my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

Advertisements

VALHALLA RISING – Part 2

Need to catch up before you read this part?

VALHALLA RISING – Prologue

VALHALLA RISING – Part 1


Starg was short for a virn, which still put him at over six feet in height. He limped on his right leg, an old battle wound, and he stooped a little as he walked, making him look shorter than he was. It was his responsibility to oversee peace in the Piku region, which shared a border with the camp of Valhalla.

He had a proud military background. Once he had spent his maximum permitted time in the virn army – thirty years, unless one’s military feats were considered so great that it benefitted the Empire for the soldier to stay – he had been offered his current position, which he had been in for twelve years. Starg was no longer a military officer, and he did not have as much authority as the local security forces, but what he did have was sway over the relationship between the virn in Piku and the humans in Valhalla.

His official title was Keeper of the Peace, but whenever Starg was asked to describe his job he referred to himself as Receiver of the Nuisance. When he was not dealing with his own people, some of whom did everything they possibly could to start fights with humans, then he had to handle the humans themselves. He did not like humans, at least as a rule, and he liked associating with them even less. One thing he despised more than humans, or at least on par with his hatred of them, however, were virn who deliberately provoked trouble between the two species. That was not because he felt particularly sorry for the way that humans were forced to live by the Empire – he had, after all, fought in many battles for the Empire – but instead because when virn provoked humans, humans tended to respond negatively.

For this reason, Starg did everything he could to keep the humans content within the walls of the camp.

Most of the incidents Starg had to deal with were relatively minor. Somebody had offended somebody else, somebody had insulted somebody else’s cultural heritage, somebody had started a fight with somebody else, and so on. Occasionally, though, something happened that shook Starg and his team from brow to tail.

The near-bombing of the shopping centre was one of the most extreme cases he had ever had to deal with. It had caused a great deal of panic and Starg was at something of a loss. Bombings happened every now and then, and humans were by no means the only rehoused species to attack the virn because they felt their lives were unfair. What was so alarming was how far the two humans had managed to get into Piku in order to threaten the richest part of the district. Nobody had stopped them; only a few had spotted them. Somehow, they had managed to build themselves a couple of rudimentary devices and walk straight into one of the most prestigious malls on the planet.

And these had been young humans, not yet adults. Imagine what they might have been able to do if they had been fully grown!

Zuwrath had begun hassling Starg for information on what he was going to do to punish the camp from the moment he had heard about the near-miss. A message from Maureen Bradshaw a short while later had confirmed that she was just as concerned about the safety of her people and the negative impact of this nastiness.

“It’s not something that the 99.9% of humans do, or even consider doing,” she had put in her message. Starg knew that. He was hardly going to deal out blame unconditionally, even though he thought so little of humans. Of course, he knew what Zuwrath’s response to that would be without having to hear it: some humans did do it, which was apparently enough to warrant sanctions upon them all.

That was why Starg had visited Valhalla after the incident, only to discover that Maureen had been summoned to Louch to meet with Zuwrath. That was typical of Zuwrath: she never thought Starg was important enough to know what was going on. He was the Keeper of the Peace in Piku, and yet she had not even bothered to invite him to attend: all she cared about was what he was going to do to make other humans suffer for this. The Controller was always going over his head, and Starg was not the only official on Montague 7 who took issue with her.

The government in Valhalla offered him a place to stay and wait for Maureen’s return. It was a small, stuffy container that was more like a tin box than a building. Starg was convinced that he had been left in there on his own to get a tiny taste of what humans experienced every single day. As the hours passed, he increasingly considered getting up and leaving without a backwards glance.

He knew that humans lived in poor conditions, but that did not mean he had to live it himself. After all, they never helped themselves. The cold silence built up around him until he could stand it no longer.

His need to go to the lavatory was the final straw. Starg was not as young as he had once been. He grunted and lifted himself off the metal bench he had been uncomfortably squatting on, stomping as he walked out of the container and away from the camp. He relieved himself where nobody could see, then climbed into his rover and began the long journey back to his office.

~

Maureen spotted Starg’s rover from a distance. She recognised it and called for the shuttle driver to pull over. The shuttle only stopped for long enough for her to jump off, and she watched it move away before she waved down the rover. Starg saw her and pulled over by the side of the road. He climbed out of his rover and walked towards her.

They shook hands in the way that humans typically greeted one another.

I hope I find you well, Starg,’ Maureen said.

I visited the camp to look for you,’ Starg replied. He limped over to the kerb and swung himself down into a sitting position. Maureen walked with him and sat down next to him, aware that Starg would not appreciate it if he had to strain his neck to look up at her. The Keeper of the Peace in Piku would not be made to feel uncomfortable at the Liaison’s expense. ‘Zuwrath failed to tell me about your little meeting – I suppose she thinks I’m not important enough to be included in a discussion concerning the affairs of my own region. I believed I would catch you in Valhalla.

Where you would’ve had me at a disadvantage, surprising me in my own home,’ Maureen commented. Starg was easier for her to talk to than Zuwrath, and Maureen had a lot of experience speaking with him. They had no reasons to quarrel; they were both just trying to do what they thought was best. Zuwrath was direct and final, but Starg recognised the importance of treating humans with decency. He was not very good at it, but he tried.

Perhaps so. It wasn’t just the shopping mall I wanted to see you about. I have some information I doubt the Controller would want to share. Valhalla seemed like the best place to do it.’

Maureen rest her elbows on her knees and put her chin in her hands. She leaned towards Starg. She knew what he wanted from her: the exchange of information was never a one-way process with men like Starg. ‘We only discussed the repercussions of the bomb attempt. Nothing to do with your people, and I suppose by not inviting you along Zuwrath thought she could make it doubly hard by getting you to punish us, as well.’ Maureen paused; the look that crossed Starg’s face revealed that she was correct. ‘She’s refusing to deliver two thousand containers that we’ve been long waiting for. Think of all those humans back there living in tents, waiting for the day they can get a safer, stronger, weather-resistance home. That’s two thousand families who won’t get what they were promised all those years ago.’

Starg grimaced. ‘I have seen some of those tents,’ he said, ‘and I have smelt them, as well. It’s a poor life. Perhaps if those who lived in them worked a little harder, or –

Oh, don’t start that, Starg, I’ve had enough nonsense from Zuwrath already. You know those stories about humans being lazy aren’t true. Every species, every nation, every community has its own examples of those who want a free ride, but that doesn’t mean you can label all of those people in that way.’

Well … that’s how things are, I suppose. That’s how humans look from the outside.

Maureen clenched a fist and reminded herself of the importance of patience. She nodded her head, and waited for a few moments for Starg to speak again. When he did not, she had to push him.

There’s something you want to tell me?

There is.’ Starg looked up and down the road as though checking that it was clear before he continued. ‘Zuwrath’s office sent some information out to the Keepers of the Peace. I know you’re closer to me than to any of the other Keepers. In another life, we might even have been allies.

Starg. I’m welling up with tears.’

I’m serious, Maureen. Though … if you don’t want to know …

Oh no, no, I’ll hear you out. I don’t mean to be snappy, I don’t, it’s just these meetings with Zuwrath … they make me so frustrated! I find myself making smart remarks to everyone when I get home. So, please, do go on.’

Indeed, she expects a lot while giving nothing in return. Which is, of course, what she’s done this time. Zuwrath’s given virn news broadcasters more powers to discuss the “Human Issue”, as they’ve been instructed to call it. There’s a list of specific broadcasters who have her permission – she’s not exactly tried to conceal what her intentions are.’

Starg reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a slip of paper, which he passed to Maureen.

She’s been watching my communications for a while now,’ he explained. ‘She can’t watch a pen, though.’

Maureen turned the folded slip of paper over in her hands and opened it, her eyes scanning down the list of broadcasters. A sickening feeling rose from the bottom of her stomach and filled her mouth with the bitter taste of bile.

They’re all extreme, virn-first, broadcasters,’ she commented.

And they’re all anti-human immigration.’

Yes, yes, I can see … listen, Starg, do you want this back?’

No! I want it destroyed. Might fall into the wrong hands if not – I’m sure somehow Zuwrath will be able to trace the handwriting back to me. Actually, I brought my light.’

Very well. Give me a moment to memorise what I can, then.’ Maureen looked down at the list again. There were names of news broadcasters in print and digital media, from every region of the planet and even some off-world agencies. One of them broadcast empire-wide. When she could not bear to look at it any longer, she passed the paper back to Starg, who set it alight with the flick of his lighter. He dropped it on the road and they watched it burn until there was only a pile of ash.

Those channels will not attempt to discuss the Human Issue fairly. Neither will the papers. Digital media will love it – communicators will be filled with anti-human stories every minute of every day. Virn don’t need the truth, providing they have enough news stories saying the same thing. The more attacks – or attempted attacks – there are, the more the anti-human sentiment will grow. This will only add more to your troubles. That is what I wanted to tell you.’

Finished, Starg stood and dusted himself down, then made his way to his rover. Maureen followed him. Before he climbed inside, he spun around to face her.

Do you want something more?’ he asked.

Only to say thank you for warning me about this,’ Maureen replied. ‘Sincerely, Starg. I mean it. Thank you.’

Hmm.’ The Keeper of the Peace of Piku scratched his chin, and Maureen was not sure whether he believed her or not. ‘You think that things are going to change?’

Things are changing every day. The only thing we can do is try to point them in the right direction, so that one day, humans will wake up in a better world.

Well, I hope you’ve got a plan to make that happen,’ Starg said. ‘For the record, my right direction is a little different to yours. I see your people’s pain, and I acknowledge it, but I’m unconvinced by the arguments for full human integration. There’s not much need for it. What we do need is a world where virn are told the truth about humans, rather than this slander.’

I think our truths may be somewhat different, too.’

Whatever do you mean?’

Maureen brushed a stray hair out of her eyes and blinked slowly at Starg. ‘Do you think I’m worth the same as a virn woman, Starg? Are any women of any of the species that so enjoy the pleasure of living beneath the banners of the wonderful Virn Empire worth as much as a virn woman?’

Starg appeared to be visibly uncomfortable. He gripped the handle on the door of his rover and flexed his fingers. He could not look Maureen in the eyes.

I fought for the Virn Empire,’ he reminded her.

I know that. You won’t hear a word against it – but I wasn’t attacking the Empire.’

There was a long pause, which Maureen enjoyed more than she was willing to admit.

You’re a good woman, for a human,’ Starg said at last.

Like I said, I think our truths may be somewhat different.’

Starg shook himself with a huff and turned to climb into the rover. Maureen watched him disappear at the next junction, heading back to Piku, before she set off walking in the opposite direction, back to Valhalla.

Broken Down

She stopped
In the middle of a three-lane motorway;
I pulled her over,
Took her to a pair of dodgy
Repairmen on the corner
Who charged me over the odds;
I watched them
As they took her apart
And examined her,
Discussing the repairs with one another,
Her flaws and how to fix them,
Right in front of her
Without a single thought
For her feelings.
She stood there and took it all,
Every harsh word
Every snide comment
Every rude insult;
She acted as though she could not hear them
And remained still and silent.
She knew they were unaware,
Or that they did not care
Of how their words
Would make her feel –
And she could fool them,
But she could not fool me;
I paid them with reluctance,
Grasping for the notes
That slipped through my fingers
And could hear her
Questioning her value
As the money was transferred.

I bit the cheeks inside my mouth,
Forced myself to smile:
She did not need to know
That I had forked out too much
For her repairs;
I took her home
To console her there,
Let her cry out her frustration
With a low rumble
Over their cruel conversation about her.
Their words had pierced her deep
And she never went
The same again.


© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City Of The World”

Please visit my author page and share my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

YouTube Tuesday: The First Lesson

Welcome back to YouTube Tuesday! Today’s poem reaches back in time to November 2013, and the first time I ever taught English – to a class of primary school kids, who still somehow managed to terrify me. Please check it out below, and let me know what you think either below or on YouTube.

The First Lesson

What great fear paralyses you?
There are those who fear spiders,
Innocent as the majority are;
Others who feel faint up high
When they look at the ground below;
Some whose concerns are amplified
By the close proximity of a crowd;
Mine strikes me down when I need strength:
A presentation leaves me with chills.

So why then did I gravitate towards them?
Teaching, whatever age the students,
Is all about presenting information:
Public speaking I have always despised,
But I try never to flee from a challenge
And, aware that my uneasiness had
Total control over the person who I was,
I chose to force myself into a position
Uncomfortable to me, so I could master fear.

I would be a liar if I claimed
That it had been easy or enjoyable
To teach that first lesson, when not only
Did it frighten me, but I also had
No skills, no practical training to speak of.
But if life is not for diving in head first,
Then what is it that we’re living for?
I worried, I stumbled, I quaked from head
To toe: my hopes of victory seemed pathetic.

In a moment gripped by our fear
We can be quick to condemn ourselves
To fates most unfitting, early deaths, or
Embarrassment that we imagine to linger.
And so in that first lesson, I believed
That my time was already up.
But afterwards, observed what errors
I could look to correct – and had proven
To myself that fear can be defeated.

© Laura Marie Clark

If you enjoyed this, please visit my author page to purchase a copy of the book: http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html — or find it on Amazon

Estrangement Isle by Stacy Gleiss

unnamed.png

I live on the Isle of Estrangement,
mourning the one who sent me here,
with the words “I’m cutting you off.”

The mainland Normalcy–
a place where people forgive and talk things through,
is sometimes visible through the haze.

If I thought I wouldn’t be turned away,
I’d attempt to cross the frigid straits,
As it is, with no beacon, the one with the boat must return.

In the meantime, I worry all those who visit,
this private space where I grieve,
will tire of my sad face.

So with a sense of desperation I teach,
of how it was I came here to exist,
hoping they will stay a while,
on my island of exile,
this place called Estrangement.

About Stacy

Stacy Gleiss has lived a life immersed in Japanese culture—a culture vastly different from that of her home state of Michigan. In her experience as the teen bride of a traditional Japanese man, Gleiss found inspiration for her memoir, The Six-Foot Bonsai.

Visit Stacy’s blog here: https://thesixfootbonsai.com/

And here’s the link to her book, The Six-Foot Bonsai, on Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Six-Foot-Bonsai-Soul-Lost-Rising/dp/0692773134

YouTube Tuesday: Moving In

Welcome back to YouTube Tuesday! I’m really enjoying posting my poetry to YouTube, it’s a new challenge that lets me revisit old poems and look at them in a different way. This week, I present “Moving In”, from my book of poems “City of the World”.

Moving In

The thunder of busy roads becomes a constant reality,
Litter on the streets attracts a plague of misery;
Unwelcome guests can crawl inside underneath your door
A padlock is the only thing that keeps your home secure

There’s a three-lane motorway at the end of the street,
A shopping centre down the road with great places to eat
From western favourites to untried eastern delicacies;
All desires catered for with exquisite recipes

This narrow street feels separate from everything around
Lonely motorbikes and busy chatter are the only sounds;
Drive up the ramp into your house, park it in the front room,
Four or five bikes stood together in the gloom

The building is four stories high, a balcony at the top
The spiral staircase in the centre seems to never stop;
Ceilings high, spacious rooms, simple decoration,
Designs that do not fail to suggest a temporary location

This is not a place where you would have expected to live
But the more time you spend here, the more it seems to give;
Empty walls provide no more than a room to rest your head:
Your time is spent out in the city, occupied instead

A hotel home shared with others, also there to see
Everything that is on offer in this vast city;
Possessions few, a suitcase full of clothes and favourite things
But within this community you will feel like a king

Money aplenty to spend on food, on fun, on booze;
You’ll be surrounded every day by a world to amuse
And once you’re comfortable in this intriguing place,
You’ll find it hard to picture anywhere else as your base

If you enjoyed this, please visit my author page to purchase a copy of the book: http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html — or find it on Amazon

5 Things Not to Worry About When Writing Your First Draft

Creating the first draft of a novel is a long and complicated process. It is easy to become distracted from what is important: consistency, logic, and readability are typically my main focuses. Here are 5 things not to worry about when writing your first draft so that you can keep your attention fixed on the story you’re trying to create.

  1. Spelling/Grammatical Errors

Writing ‘their’ instead of ‘there’ or ‘the’ instead of ‘then’ is something that all writers do. Ignore the spelling errors when you spot them, and fix your attention on the world or the characters you are trying to create. You won’t be able to get them all – that’s what the editing process is for. And you’ll go through several (if not more) other drafts before you even get to that stage. For a first draft, readability is of more importance than these little mistakes.

  1. Missing Words/Punctuation Marks

Sometimes, when you return to what you were writing after a break – a cup of coffee, a sleep, a holiday – you notice words or punctuation marks that you missed (or duplicated) the last time you wrote. Don’t waste your time going back through what you wrote to find and correct these errors – focus on the content of your writing, and return to how it is written at a later time.

  1. Writing a Story from Beginning to End

Stories, essays, articles, poems – lots of things that you read, whether online, in books, or in journals, have not been written by the author going from point A to point B all the way through to point Z. Authors can jump in and out of scenes and parts of the text, then piece them all together to create a first draft. So long as you have a plot outlined for each section, you can move around when you write, according to your inspiration – this helps a great deal when trying to create a consistent pattern of speech for individual characters.

  1. Filling in the Little Plot Holes

Big plot holes are a big problem, but small plot holes are more difficult to identify, especially when working on a first draft. Eventually, you’ll want to get rid of these niggling little issues to create a more logical narrative, but if you spot them during a first draft merely make a note in the document (or somewhere else you will spot it) and come back to it later. Focus on the glaring points that need to be made for your story to progress towards its ending.

  1. Creating the Next Best-Seller

It would be awfully nice to see the cover of your book in shop windows, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, sitting and daydreaming about it won’t get your story written, and it won’t get it any closer to being published – whether independently or by that publishing house you’ve got your eye on. You can’t create a best-seller every time you write. If you’ve never been published before, then your first book is unlikely to leap off the shelves into readers’ hands – that’s why you have to keep writing!

Remember: your first draft will likely be very different from your final draft. There will be things to add, things to remove, and things to alter – but those things can come later.

YouTube Tuesday: City of the World

Here’s a short one for this week. The first poem from my book “City of the World”, also called City of the World:

City of the World

So many faces, so many names!
How am I to immortalize them all?
The marvels, the jokes, the many joys
That belong to every one?
Around the globe, from East to West,
We came to sample the fruits
Of the home we found together
Far beyond our simple beginnings

If you enjoyed this, please visit my author page: http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

The Motorbike Taxi

Canvasimage_jpg

Left

Right

Zip here

Zip there

Pick up speed

Slam your breaks

There’s always a path

Through the traffic

Xe om xe om xe om xe om

Xe om xe om xe om xe om

Left

Right

Turn here

Turn there

Don’t indicate

No time for that

So hug the driver

And don’t look back

Xe om xe om xe om xe om

Xe om xe om xe om xe om

Xe om driver rules the road

Forges a path with his bike

Xe om driver has no fear

Gives you the ride of your life

Xe om xe om xe om xe om

Xe om xe om xe om xe om

Xe om driver does not falter

Knows his way to anywhere

Xe om driver’s bold and reckless

Swiftly moves without a care

Xe om driver’s price is heavy

For those who do not know

Xe om rides should be cheap

Wherever you wish to go

© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City Of The World”

Please visit my author page and share in my adventure:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html