YouTube Tuesday: Death in the Summer

Well, I’ve been away for a couple of days, super busy with the 50th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies at the University of Birmingham. The Symposium was fantastic, I got to see some great papers and meet some inspiring academics.

12 hour days of volunteering now over, it’s time for another YouTube Tuesday. Here’s Death in the Summer.

Death in the Summer

Icicles hanging in rows from the ceiling
Dripping freezing water onto the tiles
Until a pool that chills me forms below

It’s summer outside; inside winter reigns
Where heat cannot penetrate, and water drips
Though the icicles refuse to melt away

Children play merry games of chase in the playground
Parents bask in the midday sun with lazy abandon
And there is frost around me in this frozen wasteland

Smiles should ease the harshness of this storm
Should, a word on which to focus all attention
But still those icicles drip water onto the tiles

The kitchen is abandoned to another dimension
Where this bleak wilderness has not taken control
Nor the universe agreed upon my icy tomb

The tiles were the final place you laid your head

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Live On by Joyfrida Anindo

The road is tough and rough,
Corpses grow like weeds on bumps,
Live on, Don’t stop,
Avert your eyes where need be,
Don’t look them in the eye as they die,
They said,
But I couldn’t understand
Why they chose to look but not see,
Why they could see and not feel,
Why they could feel and do nothing,
Keep living,
They said…


About Joyfrida

This poetry was written by Joyfrida Anindo. She is a Kenyan lady who lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya.

You can visit Joyfrida’s blog and read more of her writing here: https://joywrite.wordpress.com/


Another great submission from Joyfrida! Check out her last submission, Cracks of Time, or visit the Submit page to submit your own writing. I’m especially keen to see good writing tips and poetry right now.

Beneath his Fingernails

The soil was rough and irritating beneath his fingernails. No matter how much he tried to dig it out from under them, there was still some left there. He could no longer see it, but he could feel it, buried deep.

He slipped the pointed end of the nail file beneath his thumbnail again, and hissed though his teeth when he felt the skin rupture. The constant filing had worn his nails down, and turned the skin so raw that it had finally broken. Blood pooled down in two directions: down his thumb and across his palm, and down the metal nail file, dripping onto his jeans. He withdrew the nail file, but he could still feel the soil there beneath the nail.

Other reminders hovered over him, too. He could still see the empty stare she had worn, once a look of surprise from his sudden, violent outburst, turned blank from the death of the light in her eyes. She had been heavy as he had carried her out of the house and into the car, and as he had lifted her out of the boot and onto the ground. Heavy and cold.

He had started digging with a shovel, but at some point, his growing panic had taken over and he had sunk down onto his knees in the dirt to dig with his hands. Scoops of dirt had been thrown behind him wildly, some of it landing on his trousers and shoes, working its way beneath his clothes. At least, that was how it felt. He had showered for more than an hour, but the sensation had not gone away.

Once he had buried her and made his way back to their home – to his home, now – there had been time for him to stop and think. He had not meant to push her so hard that she fell and cracked the back of her head on the counter. It had been an accident. Not that anybody would understand that – it was not something he would have believed.

The soil and the memories would never leave him, and eventually someone would put two and two together and come up with a correct answer. But for a while, a short while, he could limit his punishment to the image of her empty eyes and the blood beneath his fingernails.

Sacrificial Hiccups

Fantastic imagery in this poem, great writing.

Dunstan Carter : Poetry

From the unmarked graves
On the cusps of dusty hills,

To the messages on fallen walls
In the hearts of war torn towns,

There is a need to just
Pause and take breaths

Now there’s nothing left
But the icy sheened eyes

Of the puppets
And the infamous thieves,

The blood on the chins
Of the ruthless,

And the stains that shouted loudest
Through rectified dark skies.

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On a Pale Horse

I move in and out of your reality
I am the whisper you aren’t certain that you heard
I drift through the space between your bodies
I am the awkward pause
When there is nothing left for anyone to say
I make the lonely nights long
And the time that remains to you tick on
And on
And on
I flicker past you
Faster than you can spot me
Was I ever there?
I am the bringer of endings
The beginning of demise
Come and see me, behold
And fear what follows me

The Beautiful Boy

I first heard the word when I was seven years old. Two girls stood together in the middle of the playground, close enough to whisper. One of them pointed at me, in her unsubtle childish way; I assumed that they were inviting me over to play with them.

Then when I got closer, the one who had pointed panicked. She withdrew her hand as though she had been scolded, and said loudly, ‘Ew, oh no, the monster is coming over!’

I recognised the word in an instant, and a small part of my confidence died right there, on the concrete ground.

*

When I got home that day, I told Mama what they had said. She grabbed me and hugged me tight, saying, ‘It doesn’t matter what they think. You’re beautiful. You’re my beautiful boy.’

I didn’t feel beautiful, though. When I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw the left side of my face, where my skull and face were disfigured, my ear and eye pulled tightly towards my hairline as though they were drooping, I felt ugly. The empty, lonely stare from my right eye bored into me until I collapsed and retched on the cold tiled floor.

I cried myself to sleep wondering why I had not been born like the other children. The ones who were normal. Back then, the word normal meant nothing more than looking like everybody else, and it was exactly what I wanted to be.

Nobody, not even Mama, could comfort me.

*

It was a while before I heard the word again, but I knew even as a child that I would not be able to escape it forever. Mama kept calling me her beautiful boy, and after a while I started to believe her.

That was, until one day when I was nine. Mama and I went out shopping for some new school clothes for me, and a boy younger than me spotted me from across the store.

‘Daddy,’ I heard him say slowly, to the man stood next to him, ‘is that a monster?’

The boy pointed at me, and his father looked up from the shoes he had been examining.

They left the store quickly, before Mama could catch up with them. She had defended me, but I was up against it again. Her soothing voice did not convince me that the other boy had been wrong.

It was even harder to forget the second time.

*

All through school, Mama told me to ignore what the other kids said. She claimed that none of them were special, like me. She said that when I met good people, true friends, they would see me for who I really was: her beautiful boy.

I wondered who these real friends were, where they were, and why I had to wait so long to find them.

The more comments that the other kids made, the less I listened to Mama. They called me every name they could think of, but nothing ever hurt as much as monster hurt.

I was not a monster.

It was not my fault that I had been born this way. It was nobody’s fault. It was just how I had been made. This was the way my face and skull had grown, and it was the way they were always going to be.

School was long and hard. I performed average at best, and would probably have done much better had I not had the added burden of my deformity. Nevertheless, by the time I left, I was proud: I had not pulled out of school to be tutored privately, as several people had suggested, and by then my disfigurement was a part of me.

This newfound feeling of positivity did not last long.

*

After finishing school, I found it all too easy to retreat, and hid away from the world. I would have stayed indoors forever, had Mama not forced me to go outside and face the real world once more.

Being older, I could stand the stares of children a little more than I had ever been able to do before. They were too innocent to know that the names they were using would hurt me. It was the reactions of adults that now stung.

They were shameless. No apologies were made for the behaviour of their children – or, indeed, of themselves.

Despite all of this, I was stronger than I had ever been. Something about my time locked away had taught me a valuable lesson: I could not pretend that I did not look this way, and there was no shame in who I was or how I looked.

It did not matter that people turned their heads from me. It did not matter that they called me monster to my face. It did not matter, because I was a good person. I did my best to do my best.

That was the only thing that mattered.

*

You were special. You were beautiful, the perfect bride to Mama’s beautiful boy. You never did anything – intentionally or otherwise – to hurt me, and you only saw the man inside.

All of my strength, I owe to you. My past was only a build up to the moment when I met you, when you made me see all the goodness in the world with new eyes. That is why, though you’re gone, I will remain strong. Everything that I will do from this moment on, I will do for you.

The monster is not I; it is the disease that killed you.

Slipping Through my Fingers

Sand trickles down through the neck
Between the two bulbs of my hourglass;
The Cup of Yesterday is filling fast

Every second more sand becomes trapped
Within the mound that belongs to the Past;
Too many years have come to pass

What happened to youthful dreams?
Before Time was my greatest enemy,
When the Cup of Tomorrow was still full

The world works so hard, it seems,
To make a fool out of me;
My hourglass counts down to null

The sand of my Time, it is spent

Short Story: Nice Guy

This is a great story, really enjoyable.

Joe Hinojosa

Lance sat alone, stirring his Jack and Coke with his finger, gazing morosely at the clock above the bar. He would have preferred to have stayed home, not wanting to meet the woman whom had already kept him waiting almost half an hour, but she had begged and pleaded until at last, in exasperation, he gave in. He regretted his weakness.

After waiting another five minutes, Vanessa finally showed up, looking slightly harried, but otherwise unapologetic for being more than thirty minutes late. She walked to the table and waited for him to acknowledge him, but he continued to play with his drink. Finally she cleared her throat. “Lance?” she said inquiringly.

“Vanessa,” he retorted flatly, keeping his eye resolutely on his drink. “Have a seat, I guess.”

She waited for him to stand, thinking he would at least do that one gentlemanly duty that common courtesy demanded, but seeing…

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Prompt 030: Atrium

A really intriguing story.

nicholasjparr

Duration. This image, taken in an abandoned VEB in Eastern Germany, was taken by Johannes Burkhart. You can see more of Johannes’ work on his Flickr photostream.

The blood trail led him to an opening in the trees and a building emerged from the forested landscape that took him somewhat by surprise. His eyes searching not for static mass but a limping creature with frenzied eyes and fur slick with sweat, instead found this concrete structure.  For some time he watched it then scanned the ground for blood before lowering his rifle to study the structure once more. An old factory or manufacturing plant he guessed. But no sign of blood or disturbances in the undergrowth and no sight of a dead or dying deer. Don’t crawl off and hide somewhere to die friend, he whispered, that way neither of us win. Advancing across fallen leaves he approached the entrance, observing…

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Matthew Hopkins

You’ve heard of me, I’ve travelled far
From Bedfordshire to East Anglia
John Stearne and I cure the fear
Of those caught in the witches’ snare
These Devil’s whores confess their sins:
The Witchfinder’s trial begins.

As civil war wages across the nation
We hunt the hags in league with Satan
Our methods and knowledge used abroad
As far as Salem, to please God
By locating the Devil’s mark:
The Witchfinder has done his work.

Parliament has sent us round
To bring this evil to the ground
To crush the sinners under our boots –
That’s what we claim as we pursue
Their execution, our good pay:
The Witchfinder will have his way.

One hundred people to my name
A dark, despicable, ghastly fame
My legacy will endure forever:
Torture and trials are my pleasure
Though my time has now come and passed,
The Witchfinder’s reputation will last.