… And a Dance

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Two dragons,
Each composed of two grown men;
Another man dressed as
A large, golden Buddha.
They progress around the room, pausing
At each table
To spread smiles
And bring cheer
To their audience.

On the stage, they dance
And twist, flashing colours
Before our eyes,
Filling our vision with rainbows
Of red and gold.
However long they spark amusement,
Time flies by at double speed.

We see ourselves as strangers in our homes,
Outsiders looking upon
Our own cultures, wondering
Just as we are marvelling,
Viewing Christmas lights
And Easter eggs
And media obsession with royals
With alien meaning and intention,
All understanding lost. For this
Is who we are,
Watching the dragons dance,
Observing without knowing
Blind although we see.

It makes the moment
No less beautiful,
The evening no less enthralling;
We have no bias, existing
Purely to enjoy
And nothing more.

© 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

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Tet: A Meal …

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Lunar New Year is a time
For relaxation, celebration, salutation
And great joy for all. Flags unfurl,
Hanging from every building,
Swaying with the same energy that infects
Everyone below.

We take a break
From all our efforts, joining
Together to observe the celebrations.

There’s a large meal put on
For all the teachers, organized
By our boss, enough
To impress
The stockholders. We inhale
The scent of good food
And our stomachs answer in earnest,
Begging to try everything.

Tables laid out in perfect design,
Each a splendid replica of the last;
Vivid pictures in our minds
For years to come.
Melting on the tongue,
The food takes centre stage,
Lighting up our mouths with
Unique and wonderful flavours.

Then the drums begin
From somewhere behind us,
Confusing our ears
As we search for the source
Of the sound.

Thud, thud, thud
And thump, thump, thump
And rat-a-tat-a-tat;
They make our fingers tap.
The sounds infect our bodies
Until they feel as though
They come from inside of us.

Where is that noise coming from?
It grows in volume, intensifies
Until we could explode
From the vibrations coursing through us.
Then through a door
That bursts wide open
Comes the evening’s entertainment.

© 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

A Reminder for All

Applaud yourself
For what you’ve achieved;
Let no one do it louder.
You are not egotistical
Or self-centred
When you give yourself praise
Those times you deserve it.
Let the good things overcome
The pitfalls and the errors;
Be positive when you do well
And convince yourself
That tomorrow you will do
Even better than you did today.

A Matter of Respect

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A million voices rise yearly
In their thankful respect,
Cheering in warm delight
Giving praise where praise is due

Unheard of in England,
We marvelled at the sight
Of young students presenting
Flowers to us on Teacher’s Day

It taught us all a lesson
When we witnessed that homage:
The reverence we received;
The rewards of appreciation

It was never a part of my education.
The media, the public, the students;
From every direction I learned only
To disrespect my teachers

This refreshing show of courtesy,
Giving teachers their own day:
In Vietnam, we found this a relief
From disdainful home customs.

And so on that day I paused
To ponder my own ignorance;
When children admire their teachers,
It shows within their results

It is a method of mutual respect
I never knew between my teachers
And my young self; so I decided
To bring that sweet ovation home

It raised a question of our opinions,
Our image of greatness in this world:
Without venerating our educators
We reveal a darkness in society

We bow in respect to this system
But pay little heed to hard work
And every child in every school
Is taught to despise their teachers

But the best part of the day
Was by far the celebration:
On Teacher’s Day we drank and drank,
With no need to teach lessons!

© Laura Marie Clark

Excerpt from the book “City Of The World”

Please visit my author page and share in my adventure by purchasing your own copy of City of the World:
http://www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html

How Lucky We Are

We gather together
A mockery of hunger
To eat and to indulge
As often as our excuses will allow

For every celebration,
Holidays and birthdays,
We fill ourselves to the brim
Until the next bite could be our last

With songs and merriment
And rivers flooded with wine;
Basking in the afterglow
Of our mutual greed and satisfaction

Somewhere far away
Another family rejoices
For today, after many months,
There has at last been rain again

How easily
We forget
How lucky we are.

Sibling Love

The glasses clinked together at the other end of the table. Small chuckles grew into roaring laughter, and before long everyone seated at the table was grinning – save for one. More clinking, more drinking, and finally the birthday boy, Roger, stood on wobbling legs. Silence fell at his end of the table, creeping from person to person until it reached the other end.

One of the other lads, who seemed to think he was very clever, shouted ‘Speech!’ as though nobody else had twigged onto what was going on. The laughter erupted again – this was obviously a very amusing thing to say – and in his attempts to calm them all down with a wave of his hand Roger almost tripped over his own feet. The pint in his hand was sloshed around, some of the beer spilling onto the table top. The same clever sod who had shouted before applauded Roger’s drunken behaviour.

Roger waved his hand without tripping over this time, a blush rising onto his face. ‘Ah, shut up,’ he muttered, before going into a slurred and misguided speech about becoming eighteen that would have made his parents wince.

Luckily for Roger, his parents were not there. No, it was Rachel’s job, as his big sister, to sit through her brother’s eighteenth birthday piss-up with his wasted idiot friends. Someone had to make sure that Roger got home safely as as their parents sure as Hell didn’t trust any of his friends with that responsibility, the burden had been passed to Rachel. Judging by the amount the lads had drunk so far, that had been the right decision – but it didn’t mean that Rachel had to like sitting in the corner nursing a soft drink and being systematically ignored.

Actually, Rachel had decided as the night had gone on, it was not a bad thing that none of the lads were paying any attention to her. Sure, it was lonely sitting there quietly all by herself, but if their conversations were anything to go by then she was not missing much in the way of socialisation. At least she had managed to avoid the lengthy conversation about their toilet habits. She watched the clock at the back of the room tick slowly on as they became more and more bladdered.

By eleven pm, Roger and his mates had been wasted. They had been getting wasted for years, of course, but now they could do it legally they had a new excuse not to recognise their own limits. At half eleven, one of them had actually been so pissed that he had been forced to go home. Rachel had got up and helped him out of pity when it had transpired that nobody else at the table had enough sense left to realise that he genuinely would not recover by downing another pint.

At that point in the evening, the whole group was supposed to have gone on to a club, but – thankfully, Rachel thought – the lads had been so drunk that a whole hour and a half had passed before they had managed to gather themselves together enough to move. By then, there had been no point. The pints kept coming from somewhere, though nobody was getting up from the table, and it transpired that one of Roger’s friends had a brother at the bar, who was also serving himself drinks.

People began disappearing from the tables around them. Roger and his friends were the only people left in the bar and the staff were beginning to look annoyed. Apparently, only Rachel noticed.

Her brother fell off his seat to loud cheers, and Rachel rolled her tired eyes. She took out her car keys and rattled them as loudly as she dared. Nobody made any sign that they had heard it. Roger tried and failed to get back into his seat a total of three times before one of his mates decided to help him up.

It was ten to three before Rachel managed to get Roger back to her car. He threw up over the passenger-side front wheel and knelt down on the floor next to it, retching. Rachel did not remember being so wasted on her eighteenth birthday, but then she did not actually remember the vast majority of her eighteenth birthday at all. She couldn’t be too angry at Roger for letting himself go.

‘You better take good care of that car mum and dad got you for your birthday,’ Rachel warned Roger as he knelt there in the mud and filth. ‘Because next weekend I’m gonna invite all of my mates out to get pissed and you’re gonna drive me there and back. We’re gonna make tonight look like child’s play.’

‘You and your mates can’t party like us,’ Roger replied weakly. Rachel stared at him, her eyes narrowed into slits. Roger was lucky he was her brother.

‘Oh, you just wait,’ she told him. ‘You just wait. Next week you’ll be the one sitting at the end of the table, pretending you don’t exist. Now, that’s sibling love!’

May 22 – Time for Something Different

Today’s prompt for Story a Day’s May challenge is to write a story in a style/tone that I never use. You can read the full prompt here.

I feel silly *hides in embarrassment*.


LAURA’S CHRISTMAS LIST AGE 6

To Mr Santa (and Mrs Santa and all of the reindeer and the elves and your friends)

This year I have been so good I am a really really good girl. I have been the best. One time in April I punched my baby brother but that was because he was crying and every other time I have been really good. Please bring me these things for Christmas because I have been so good.

  • A new Barbie car because granddad sat on the one you brought me last year and now the screen has fallen off.
  • Green paint for my play shed because I like it.
  • Lots of money but don’t let mummy put it in my bank account please!!!
  • A new top. There is a top with flowers on in one of the shops in town that daddy won’t let me have because it is lots of money and I can’t remember which shop but I would like it so please send me that.
  • More chocolate than last year and please take away the vegetables for Christmas dinner we don’t want them.
  • A different baby brother OR NO BABY BROTHER.

Remember Santa I have been really really good this year I would like to wake up on Christmas day to all of these things or if you can’t bring them all then just the Barbie car will do.

Day Fifteen: Your Voice Will Find You

Today’s Prompt: Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your worldview. Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force.

How does that make you feel?


How disappointing! Must I resort to sounding selfish in this post?

The greatest band I have ever seen was Motorhead. I was at a festival, although I do not remember which one, and I spent the whole set just staring up at Lemmy. In those moments, I understood everything. I understood why people are in awe of him. I understood why women flock to him, despite his less than handsome (sorry!) appearance. I wanted the music to go on forever. I had no concept of time. There was only Lemmy.

The best party I have ever attended was a ‘surprise’ party. It was about a week before I left for Vietnam and the surprise was actually on the guests – only my mum, my dad, my brother and myself knew what it was really for. We invited my aunts and uncles, my grandparents and my cousins and pretended to be throwing a surprise birthday party for my dad, who conveniently went out for the day. When my dad came home, everyone jumped out and shouted surprise – at which point I announced to the bemused party guests that, actually, my dad had known about the party all along and I was going to leave for Vietnam. My favourite part about the whole thing was that my grandma, who has selective hearing, paid no attention to my announcement. As she knows nothing about Vietnam besides the Vietnam War, when I repeated myself she went white as a sheet and asked me if I was joking. Nobody will ever trust us to throw a surprise party again.

There were celebrations in Vietnam, too. For Tet Festival (Lunar New Year), the company I worked for held a fancy dinner, mostly to impress the shareholders. There was traditional food and a dance involving two dragons and a guy dressed as Buddha that went on for entirely too long for me to concentrate. It was a nice way for the company to show that they appreciated us, although I would have been fine without the long speeches.

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The problem I have with this prompt is that these things are very much a part of my past. I don’t attend gigs or festivals these days and it doesn’t bother me at all. Motorhead will not continue to produce music forever and with Lemmy’s recent health issues there’s not a great deal more to say on the issue. My life would not be over if my family had a massive fall out and we never met up again, because family is not the be all and end all. I made the choice to leave Vietnam because it was my time to go and I won’t be going back in a professional role. If I never get to go back again, I will not despair.

To put it simply: if music festivals were cancelled forever, nothing within my life would change. My life would change more if my family fell apart, but I have always prided myself on my independence. If we never held another family party again, then nothing about that would bother me. As for the company I worked for in Vietnam? I’d like to see you try to find a more evil corporate force.

Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!

Today’s Prompt: Tell us something about your favourite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.


In my family, we don’t go out for meals that often. When we do, it’s nearly always due to a special occasion, such as someone’s birthday. It has to be a special birthday, too. There’s one day that we do meet up every year and have a large family meal – and that’s Christmas Day.

We’re not a religious family, of course. If I was religious, there would be a lot more information about my beliefs on this blog. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not atheist, either. People seem to assume that because I say I don’t believe in a religion, I don’t believe in anything, but that’s not true. I simply acknowledge that religion is a man made concept that has been shaped by society and that holy books reflect the time and society in which they were written. Many of the morals are relevant to today. Far more of them are not.

Christmas isn’t a ceremony for us. Instead, it’s a day for the family to get together and celebrate the fact that we’ve got a little while off from work or school. In my house, there’s a routine, which my mum put in place when I was a kid. We can’t open our presents until everyone in the house (usually six of us at that time) is up, washed, dressed and has finished their breakfast. I used to dance around my grandparents begging them to finish eating when I was young. After we’ve opened our presents, my mum cooks Christmas dinner for approximately fifteen of us, depending on who’s coming that year. It’s turkey, of course.

We all sit around a large table these days. When I was younger, the adults would sit on one table and I would sit on another with my two (later three) cousins and my brother. On the “kid’s table”, we had our own crackers and we got to have our own conversation, away from the adults – and likewise they got to get away from us!  As the whole family loves dessert, the main focus of the meal was never the turkey: it was the Christmas pudding, as well as one hot and one cold dessert. I’ve always followed in my dad footsteps – I try all three.

Christmas dinner was much less of a farce when I was younger. It seems like a chore now. I was never asked to serve the food or wash the dishes when I was a kid. I never had to clean up after anyone. I was happily ignorant of the tension that exists between my two aunts, but now that I’m older I’m far more aware of it. I dislike the fact that my family is divided over the issue of one of my aunts, but I’ve listened to the arguments and I understand why the others have a problem with her. I just want to remain out of the discussion as much as possible, but now that I’m old enough to hear about it, the topic even manages to disturb Christmas dinner. Nobody tries to hold it in any longer.

Once we’ve finished eating, we open our table presents. These are little gifts, usually bought by my mum (she does a lot at Christmas time). The women tend to receive the same presents as one another; the men likewise. The table is cleared and I play board games or card games with my cousins and my brother until it’s time for them to leave.

I’ll be honest: I’m not a big fan of reminiscing like this. I think it gives people the wrong impression of me. I don’t want to be a child again and I wouldn’t want to go back to those old Christmas dinners, because the nonsense these days doesn’t destroy the occasion. I don’t miss them.

I have my own life now as an adult, and I wouldn’t change that for anything. Life goes forwards, not backwards, after all, and there are things in my life that are far greater than those old meals. I’ll happily forget my childhood Christmas dinners just to enjoy the wider variety that I eat – and can cook – as an adult.