Friday, December 30, 2011

The House (part I)

The house seemed pretty new. In fact, none of them could remember it being there the day before. But as the four boys stood there, gazing up at it, they could only wonder in awe. Had you been standing there, you wouldn’t have said it was beautiful. But you wouldn’t have said it was ugly either. It was rather puzzling; this massive house standing on the exact spot where there had been nothing but a few trees and some grass the day before – that’s what the boys would have crossed-their-hearts and sworn to you, at least. And yet they stood there, and the more they stared up at that giant house, the more interesting they found it.

Why it was interesting, none of them could have told you. It just was. The wide, red cobblestone path that made its way from the pavement was guarded step-by-step, side-by-side by small hanging lanterns, until it reached the front porch. Supported by four colossal pillars, the entire house seemed to be hunching over the covered portal. Tall, arched windows grew several meters high on either side of the front door and porch, with long maroon curtains that fell from top to bottom; drawn shut to lock out light… and spying eyes. The house stood three stories tall, its shadow looming over the garden that stretched out to meet them – were it not for the gate. Before house, path, garden and all stood an enormous wrought-iron gate, adorned with gold-crested leaves and thorned, ivy vines that wound their way around the gate’s height. A strange gust of wind swept out from behind the boys, blowing the small lanterns on the path back and forth; their tiny lights flickering teasingly. It was almost as if the entire building were beckoning to them.
“I like it,” said the smallest of the four.
“Shut it Ronny, you like everything,” said James, not taking his eyes off the house. Ronny scowled, but turned back to stare at it again; mesmerized.
They were silent for another while, before the tallest turned to the other three and said “Alright lads, s’more than enough. Let’s head back in. Mum’ll have supper set out.” But the words had scarcely left his mouth, then a shrill cry could be heard echoing from the crescent’s key.
“Buggerin’ hell,” said Flynn “There she goes, didn’t I tell yeh? Now we’re gonna get it!”
The three elder boys quickly sprinted off towards the impatient cries, leaving Ronny still rooted to the spot and staring at the house until Flynn had run back and tugged him painfully by the ear.

When the four boys arrived, out-of-breath and red-faced at the front porch of number 27, they were greeted by a short, plump woman in what must have been at one point, a white apron. She was wielding a rather long, wooden spoon and was tapping her foot impatiently. She ushered the boys in quickly, rapping each of them sharply on the head as they passed through the door. A few bowls of beef stew and some dishwashing later, the four boys rushed outside to the old birch tree that stood solemnly in the corner of the garden. Climbing a fraying, brown rope ladder, they crawled into the small wooden house that sat nestled among the old tree’s strong arms.
“Keith, are yeh sure yer mum won’t mind yeh stayin’ here with us ‘fer a while?” asked Flynn.
“Nah, she’ll be just fine, dontcha worry,” said the young boy with the flaming red hair.
“Well, alright. What about you Ronny? Won’t yer mum be worried with you stayin’ out so late? I mean, yeh’re only 10 after all,” said Flynn, turning to the little golden-haired boy.
“10 ‘nd a half,” grumbled Ronny “I’m 10 ‘nd a half, and my mum can’t tell me what te do anyways! I’m old enough!”
Flynn looked to his younger brother James, who shrugged and laid back on the pillows and blankets that were strewn across the tree house floor.
The cool, July air that came in from the south breezed through the tiny town of Dover and the four boys could smell the faint sea-scent of the ocean, as they sat up in their little tree house, isolated in their safe-haven from the rest of the world. Swapping stories, jokes and laughs, they lay back on the cushioned floor of the tree house and by the time they looked out the windows, the sun had already sunk beneath the horizon, leaving the sky streaked with brilliant shades of orange, yellow and red. Soon enough, stories ran out, laughs grew thin and one by one the four boys nodded off to sleep.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Lovely Lie (part III)

The rain started to fall slowly, lightly. More lightning lit up her face beneath her hood, and I noticed that those eyes no longer held their usual lustre. Something was wrong. The rain fell harder. I went to throw my arms around her, but she backed away. I was at a loss. I wasn’t sure what to do; my thoughts were streets behind my emotions. I reached my hand into my pocket, but she just shook her head at me. I couldn’t make out what she said, her voice drowned out by the thundering skies, and the rain was falling so hard I could barely keep my eyes open. She seemed so calm in her long black coat as she spun on her heel and walked away, leaving me standing there cold, alone, bewildered and soaked to the skin. I was lost. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know what to think. So I slumped down underneath one of the street lights, and sat there with the rain pounding down upon my bare head, lost in the empty expanses of my mind. Until daybreak, when the sun’s sweet rays shone through the depleted clouds, I sat underneath that street light. No ideas, no thoughts and no ideas came to me.

I finally picked myself up, ran my hand through my hair, sweeping it out of my eyes, and walked back to my car. I revved the engine and wheeled out onto Main Street, onto the highway, towards the beach and the present moment where I find myself now.


I sit here in the sand with my back against my trusty Ford, looking out onto the waves. The deep blue sea stretches out its frothing arms towards me, beckoning to me again. I realize that I was living in a dream. I was a prisoner of my own design, incarcerated in an illusion of my own making. In creating such a flawless image of Love, I had doomed myself. I had built a wall of lies to shield myself from the hideous truth: this was not Love. I was my own worst enemy. I can't even remember the web of thought I had disentangled last night - I don't care, either. 

Did I even know her?
The sky gently lifts the sun from her bed beneath the horizon as the morning sky welcomes her arrival with warm tones of red and yellow.

Why did I love her?
The gulls squawk as they flap into formation, heading south for warmer seas, for new adventures and new lives.

Was it real?
The milkman’s truck races down the highway behind me, his rusty beloved Chevy late for its old, familiar routine.

What was the point of it all?
The sweet smell of the morning dew wafts down from the meadows and the fields of Old Man Pidget’s farm, mixing with the spray of the incoming tide.

What is Love?
I look down; I’m unconsciously fiddling with the little box. I had forgotten all about it. I flick it upon and closed, its contents wink at me through its velvet pillow. I get up and the Ford groans under the support I’ve asked of it. I have to lean against it for a few seconds until my balance returns to me, before I start towards the beach again. I kick off my shoes and wade out into the water in my jeans. I flick the box upon one last time, sigh and grin. The box clicks shut as I wind up and whirl it out to sea. I don’t hear its trivial splash among the deafening crashes of the tide against the rocky shore.

I walk into Mike’s a few minutes later, my jeans still dripping and smelling of sea salt. He knows better than to ask. He nods at me and smiles: “Don’t worry ‘bout it”. He knows. In all likelihood, the entire town knows. It’s not a big place. It was probably Ronnie’s fault; he can’t keep his bloody mouth shut. “One root beer float, comin’ up…” yanks me back to the present. I lean over towards the tiny Italian and grin: “Mike. I’m twenty-three for Christ’s sake; make it a shot of Bourbon.”


Monday, December 26, 2011

A Lovely Lie (part II)

Every odd day, every stray night, every bottomless hour I spent thinking of her. She consumed my every thought. Every song I wrote, every note I played, every word that left my lips was for her and only her. We’d meet in the dead of night, and we’d drive as fast and as far as we could. I had lost all logic, all rationality, and all sense. It was for those brief hours with her that I now lived. My life had new meaning, and I embraced it with all my heart’s ardour, never once looking back. We spent the night in my car, overlooking the ocean, the city or the forests, awaiting the dawn’s early gaze as the sun peeked her head above the horizon, giving new life to our love. Our kisses would last hours, and we would never grow tired of each other’s company. I would pack a picnic basket and we’d drive down to the beach, steal a yacht from the marina for the afternoon, and I would serenade her with my guitar’s gentle chords as the beckoning waves swept us out towards the horizon. I never felt so at peace as when she lay sleeping in my arms, the only sounds that pulled us back to reality being the gentle lapping of the waves against the yacht’s hull, the squawking gulls overhead and the firm, steady beating of her heart beneath her chest. The first time we made love, the night never knew such passion. The soft, smooth, warm touch of her skin brought out the rough, coarse and calloused skin of my hands as they held her tight. I hated my hands, though she would never cease to tell me she loved them. Every little detail of myself I despised, she seemed to rejoice and take comfort in, leaving me with a sense of fulfillment. I felt invincible, as if no evil, no sin and no wickedness could touch me. As our getaways grew more and more frequent, I began to think past them. My mind’s eye turned to the future and to the wonders it too would hold for me and her, together. I asked her about her family, but she would quickly change the subject and I, being too weak to push the matter further, let her. I would bring it up from time to time, but she’d toss it aside, finally asking me to just leave it alone. I did.

Patience has never been my forte, and so one afternoon I popped in to see my pal Ronnie. Ronnie’s family owned a small jeweller’s shop at the corner of Hall and Oates, and we’d been friends since primary school. But this time I wasn’t there to chat: I was in and out in less than twenty minutes. I gently slid the small box in my right jacket pocket and stopped by Mr. Johnston’s garage to fill up my car with what little money I had left. A few hours later I was standing in front of our customary rendezvous, the car still running, waiting for her. I drummed my fingers on the dashboard, tapping my foot in anticipation. Why was she so late? It had taken four hours in line, an hour of bartering, arguing and thirty dollars to bribe Mickey at the movie house for two tickets to that new Humphrey Bogart picture with Ingrid Bergman. Maybe she was waiting there for me, so I kicked in the clutch and the Ford roared to life. I pulled into the Jackson Theatre parking lot a few minutes later and decided to wait at the front door. The sky darkened, clouds rushed onto the scene, blotting out the moon, the stars and the night sky. I saw lightning light up the heavens before it bellowed through the streets, shaking the street lights and causing them to flicker like candles in the wind. It must have been so loud that I didn’t hear the footsteps behind me, so when I felt a hand tap my shoulder I whirled around, my heart in my throat.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I Want To Give

For Shalina. Merry Christmas, baby.

A few days ago, my girl and I drove downtown to donate some non-perishables. We loaded two cardboard boxes heaped with cans of beans, soups, corn, fruit and peas into the back of the car, and headed out. Traffic was terrible and the icy roads didn't help, as we watched cars helplessly slip n' slide through intersections and in-and-out of their lanes - their winter tire investments coming up short. But the weather was beautiful. The morning sun shone effortlessly through the sparse clouds that littered the bright blue sky, bathing our little city in an ironic December warmth. The drive was lovely and it set the mood for what was to come.

We pulled into the closed school's parking lot a little while after, but it was almost full. I squeezed the car into a spot near the back, lodged between two giant Chevy Suburbans, and hopped out. Popping the trunk, we took the first box and began the long trek towards the school's doors, but before we could make it even halfway the doors swung wide open. A young man (couldn't have been much older than me) burst from the opening and tried to keep his balance on the icy pavement as he sprinted out towards us.

"Hold on!" he yelled out "Lemme help you guys with that!"

We were a little taken aback, so we froze.

He didn't stop to catch his breath in the brisk morning air as he skidded to a halt in front of us: "Let me take that from you! I'm Bobby, by the way." Before I could say another word, he gently took the box from my arms, smiled and nodded his head in the direction of the school. "Follow me!" he grinned and, have first made sure that we were in fact following him, began walking back.

"This looks great!" he said over his shoulder, "Thanks so much! I just know the family this is going to will be absolutely thrilled!"

I could see the smile spreading on my baby's face as she gripped my hand tighter in hers. There was even a noticeable skip in her step. It made me smile too. She piped up:

"We've got another box in the car, actually."

Bobby spun around suddenly. "Another box?!"

She nodded.

He looked down at the heaping contents. "Well, that's just… amazing! Thanks!" Shifting the heavy load in his arms, "As you can see, we're rather busy, but I'll go put this inside, if you wouldn't mind grabbing the other one?"

I shook my head and smiled. "No, that's entirely out of the question. I've never heard such insanity."

Bobby looked taken aback, but my girl lifted her arms and cut in. "Oh, don't mind him. He's got a weird sense of humour. We'll be right back!" She grabbed my arm, spun on her heel and tugged me back towards the car. Bobby smiled, shrugged and continued walking on.

"Don't be silly." She smiled, "Not everyone knows you're an idiot."

I swung her hand back and forth like a child. "Can't help it. It's in my blood." Grinning, "Besides, I do it SO well."

She laughed and playfully nudged me with one shoulder. We got the second box out of the car and started walking back towards the school once again. I hadn't been entirely delighted about getting up early, but seeing the smile on her face, I would do it a thousand times over. And a thousand times again. The warmth in her face, the light in her eyes, the bounce in her step and the song in her voice. I mean, she's already one of the happiest, optimistic people I know - but this kind of joy and cheer was special. I'd be a damned liar if I said it hadn't already rubbed off on me.


We finally reached the school doors, but we weren't alone. Shuffling from cold foot to foot, stood an old woman. Her withered face hid under an old grey hat, but the piercing blue eyes studied everything around her from its shelter. Confident? No. Uncomfortable? Possibly. Shy? Definitely. In an old knit-green sweater that hung like a drape on her short form, she tried to avert her eyes from the couple that now approached her. She eyed the box we carried, but wouldn't dare look us in the eye. It was as if she'd been here before, no stranger to the school's shelter, but felt an outsider all the same.

"Merry Christmas." we said in unison.

She kept shuffling uncomfortably, but we managed to make out a small "Merry Christmas" from underneath the hat and through the tattered scarf that wound its way around her neck. The awkward silence was shattered as the doors banged open and Bobby walked out.

"You weren't kidding!" He said gladly, looking at our cargo. The old lady caught his eye and he turned his head towards her. "Oh, hi there! I'll be right with you!"

But, being the person she is, my girl spoke up again. "That's alright! We've got time." And we stepped back to give the lady some room.

She finally looked at us, locking eyes with the pretty girl at my side. She didn't say thanks, but her eyes did the talking. Even my blithering mind could see it. She turned to face Bobby and in a frail voice, started to speak.

"Well, I don't really have a call-number you see… because I haven't the money to buy for a whole family." She shifted in that old, sickly-green sweater and shoved her black gloved hands into the ratty canvas bag slung over her shoulder. Pulling out two lone cans of soup, she went on. "This soup's all I have to give, and I was just wondering if you could add it to the other carts?"

Bobby broke out into that contagious smile and laughed. "Sure, of course! Thanks so much!"

She nodded quickly and gently placed the two cans in his outstretched hands. The shy look on her face never dwindled and she kept her eyes near the ground. She almost bowed a small 'thank you' and, turning around slowly, she began walking away.

We were all taken aback, our jaws on the ground. She looked so hungry herself, and was probably one of the people that came here each year to collect some food for the holidays. Yet, here she stood giving what she could simply for the spirit of giving. Eventually, Bobby called out to the old lady as she reached the edge of the parking lot: "A very Merry Christmas to you!"

The rest is pretty standard. We left the second box in the school, wished the volunteers a Merry Christmas and began the drive back home. But I could feel the true spirit of Christmas that day. It wasn't how much you gave, but how you gave it. It's true, we had donated two whole boxes rather than two cans - but there was so much more we could have given. We weren't lacking in food. We hadn't known true hunger (except for when my girlfriend actually cooks). We had never been forced to swallow our pride and ask for help when it came to our basic needs. I couldn't even begin to imagine what that would be like, neither of us could. Giving is not a number, it's a feeling. It's not a means, it's an end. It's not consumerism, it's love. Love of the truest, most basic and fundamental kind: love for another human being. Not someone you know, relate to or even like - but love for someone who you know needs it.

To watch that old lady give a day worth of meals away, her hunger eating away at her body and mind, drove me. It was that tiny tinge of being outdone, watching someone give so little, yet give so MUCH. But with that sense of competition and loss, came a surge of power: to know that whoever received those cans would be more grateful than I had imagined. To me, two boxes of food was pocket change. To someone in need, it was new life. It was hope. I felt a hunger to feed hunger. A need to quench need. Desperate to quell desperation.

We sat in the car driving back, as Peggy Lee drifted out of our radio and filled the car: "It's that time of year, when the world falls in love…".

My girl gripped my hand as I kept my eyes on the road: "Baby?" she said.

"Mhmm?" I replied.

"I want to give to the world."

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Lovely Lie (part I)

I gripped the steering wheel tighter and adjusted my mirrors. It was just so unnerving; I tried to focus on the road. I looked out the window at the sun as it finally dipped its head beneath the horizon, shedding its orange hues across the incoming tide. The waves lapped at the beach sand, coming in and going out, beckoning to me… the way she beckoned to me. Damn, I thought, it’s not working. I shuddered and turned on the radio, as Frankie’s words floated out on the cool night air: “Strangers in the night… lovers at first sight…” I cursed loudly, as I flicked off the box; nothing was working. I took the next exit and parked the Ford off on the beach. It was getting darker, and the stars had started to blink their eyes open, twinkling in the celestial darkness, awaiting the moon’s arrival. I stepped out of the car, slammed the door shut and shoved my fists into my pockets. I walked out towards the shoreline, kicking stray pebbles, trying to focus on anything, anything but her. I felt around in my pocket and pulled out my velvet kerchief. Opening it up, the number and name that had been scrawled on it so many weeks ago at that diner were barely visible; “Lily” and then an outline of red lipstick. That had been so long ago, before the doubt set in. I muttered to myself, turned and began to stroll down alongside the lapping waves. I could remember it as clearly as if it had been only been a few hours ago, rather than a few months.
The couples walking hand in hand, laughing and smiling as they walked down the streets, sharing kisses and sunsets together, nights in each others’ arms, left me only able to hope for such bliss. A novice in such matters, almost a mere babe though I’m already 23 years old, I knew next to nothing about Love and its fickle whims. I walked into Mike’s on Amorous Street, took an empty booth all to myself and pulled a tattered book out my pocket. It’s binding weary with age, its pages far from crisp, scarred with hours upon hours of constant flicking and handling: The Great Gatsby. The light from the window was suddenly dimmed as she stood next to my table. I looked up and tried to squint through the bright sunlight that outlined her frame. I couldn’t see her clearly, so I gave up trying and just ordered my regular; a root beer float with extra ice cream. It was childish, I know, but it must’ve appealed to her because she sat down across from me when she brought it to my table. I finally got a good look at her; the window bathing her in the sun’s warmth, her hair done up in a ponytail. She stared at me, a boyish grin spreading across her face as she reached back and pulled her hair out, letting it cascade down in rich golden curls to her upper back. I had only been peering up from the book now and then until that point, until I finally decided to look up altogether. Her eyes struck me first. Dark blue sapphires gazed back at me, their centres fading into a comforting grey, like the sea after a storm. I felt like I should be more subtle, or at least more polite, but it seemed almost an insult not to stare. I must have looked so pathetic, trying to avert my eyes, but staring all the same. They weren’t just mesmerizing, they were imprisoning, and it scared me for a moment that such power could exist in so simple a thing. Yet I leapt into it willingly, without a second thought.

Things only went downhill from there. She asked me for my handkerchief, to wipe the oil from her hands, and I obeyed like a small pup; already putty in her hands. She took it, turning it over and stroked it, feeling the velvet embroidery of my initials between her thumb and forefinger. I shivered and shuddered with every gentle stroke of her fingers, every smooth caress, as if she’d captured my soul within that small fabric. She looked up at me, smiling all the while, and began to fold it neatly. Her eyes still on me, she lifted it to her lips; those lush, soft-as-petal lips, and gently kissed it. I took in a sharp breath, as she placed it on the table and slid it over towards me. She took a small sip of my float, flashed her devilishly seductive smile, that boyish grin that captured me so, got up from her seat and walked away. I let loose my breath, feeling reborn; as though every shade and every tint of colour in the world had been amplified a dozen times over. The orange walls bloomed like a pond of tiger lilies, the red ford parked outside blossomed like a bouquet of roses and the yellow doors down the street sprung to life like a row of daffodils. I sighed and looked down at her parting gift. Handwritten in a dark blue fountain pen were 7 digits. They might as well have been letters spelling my “despair”.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Written Word

The written word is freedom. Where this world has limits, it has none: it can be anything and everything. From a field of endless possibilities to a sea of unchartered waters, it revises, refines and reshapes into anything it needs to; adjusting, adapting and altering its very being to achieve its end.

It is strong, it is fearless and it is proud. It knows what it wants, it knows what it needs and it asks for nothing.

It is unselfish and ungrudging, offering only life and light for those who will hear its voice. Never forget it, and it will never forget you. It will serve you with undying loyalty through the good and the bad, the light and the darkness with all the passion and devotion it can afford. 

It is an ally to be loved and an enemy to be feared. Learn it, love it, live it and you will know true immortality.

It is a friend of the truest kind, and it is beautiful beyond the boundless reaches of the imagination.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Grit So Grand

This is my first post in a while, I know. But school's growing increasingly territorial (as if it wasn't in the first place) of my time.

Thankfully, one of my professors gave us the option of writing either:

a) a comparative essay detailing contemporary theatrical methods with those of earlier days


b) a ballad of our own creation based on whatever subject we so whimsically chose.

Yeah. The choice was clear: ESSAY... (No, not actually.)

With that in mind, I wanted to write an epic ballad rather than one about budding flowers, fluttering butterflies and other boring shit. So, I figured I'd write about William Wallace - being the traditional rebellious badass (and because I love the movie Braveheart)- and the underdog-Scottish victory at Stirling Bridge during the First Scottish War of Independence.

The battle took place in September 1297. The English forces, led by John de Warenne, numbered over 12,000 infantry, archers and cavalry. Across the river Forth awaited the Scottish army with William Wallace and Andrew Murray at the head of almost 2,500 men.

Here goes:

Grit So Grand

The Forth, she still flows free and strong,
To courage she’s bore witness.
But ne’er did she see grit so grand,
As that of William Wallace.
The Sun sat high upon her throne,
Clouded servants clothed in gold,
Awaiting on her hand and foot
As she watched this scene unfold.
The Scots, they all stood arm to arm,
Their breath, it grew thin and light.
‘Cross the wide Forth waited their doom:
De Warenne’s fierce English knights.
The Scots, they had fought long and hard,
To be where they were that day.
‘Gainst bondage and for freedom’s sake,
They had shed brave blood and prayed.
But the English they knew battle
And stood ten thousand strong.
Against Wallace and his two grand,
Who burst in merry song:
“Ye English bastards, come along.
Bring spears and horses again.
But take good heed and mind yourselves,
For ye face and fight free men!”
Yet all that stood ‘twixt Scot and Brit
Across that mighty river:
A path hewn of wood and timber,
Would the battle deliver.
Orders given: cross and advance!
The English, their attack pressed. 
Yet this narrow bridge just allowed
but two lone horsemen abreast.
Wallace halted and stayed his men,
“Wait, my friends, to start this fight.
We’ll bide our time and sit in wait,
Until the moment is right.”
Oh, beautiful Fortune has smiled!
The English crossed the water.
De Warenne sent his hardened knights,
Just two by two to slaughter. 
Wallace grinned to see such folly:
He knew the battle was theirs. 
And so he loosed his ready men,
Like mad dogs upon weak hares.
Their numbers counting for nothing,
The English were torn to shreds. 
What poor souls could, ran for their lives.
Those that could not lost their heads.
De Warenne, he watched in terror,
To see his strong knights bested.
His ego had cost him dearly,
As England’s strength was tested.
“Retreat!” he called “Retreat at once!”
Before he turned tail and ran. 
What English remained joined him too:
  Save those across the Forth’s span. 
Blood caked the river’s mighty shores,
Victory did the Scots reap.
The Sun, now weary of this scene,
Lay her royal head to sleep. 
The Forth, she still flows free and strong,
To courage she’s bore witness.
But ne’er did she see grit so grand,
As that of William Wallace.

If this was absolute pigswell for you, didn't make a word-of-sense and you feel the need to waste your time even more, go ahead and click on the link below to know more about the Battle of Stirling Bridge.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Blossom Of Our Knowledge

Age and damage have not withered this bloom,

As long as words live, reality's doom

Cannot touch it. It lies in kept fields.

Untainted by today, Respect is its shield.

It gathers its spores as time rushes ahead,

Until it is plucked for some light to be shed.

Forever generous, so willing to share.

A task so eternal, its vast knowledge to bear.

Step in through the portal, the petals reveal

A new teeming world at your feet does kneel.

The overwhelming beauty of a place unknown,

A unique view of the world is sown.

A mirror to the past, of beliefs and ideas.

A look to the future, of thoughts and fears.

Leather's coccoon, within lies Beauty's devotion,

Binding its pages, my mind and emotion.

But now my friend, this tale is at its end.

Leave this world and let another transcend.




Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sky's Love

Grace incarnate; they gently sway to the row and rhythm of the universe herself. Sweeping back and forth across the great ballroom's dark floor, flecked with flickering candles, they are one: inseparable.

No words swapped, their dance speaks volumes as they stir and kindle passion in the hearts of the enthralled audience. Auroral ardor drives them, not lust nor mania, but an indescribable, natural need for each other.

Completely oblivious to the worlds around them, all willingly and knowingly ensnared in their spellbinding swing, they dance only for themselves: as simple as a kiss, yet as powerful as making love.

The tempo builds, the rhythm throbbing and thirsting for more as their natural cadence reverberates through the unnatural world.

But all things find their end and, as unpredictable and fickle as Love itself, the music finally dies. Silence still.

And in a final almost-fluid gesture, taking their bows, the partners dance off into the dark. Waiting 'til their song starts anew.



Monday, September 19, 2011


It's cold.

There is no wind, no breeze and everything stands still. I rub my hands together desperately, sparking something as of yet unintelligible. As I shrink into my long coat, my eyes dart from side to side of this desolate highway. Nothing for miles. Not as far as the eye can see. The trees are bare. The grass has long since died. My eyes dart up. Where is the light? It's neither bright nor dark. It's eventide, but the source eludes my wary mind. The sun has disappeared, though not a cloud lies in his stead. The moon is gone, her starry children orphaned and hidden. I am alone.

Where am I going? I don't know. Just keep moving forward, I guess. Some small part of me remembers something. Something vague. Something blurry. A sign? I strain my eyes, squinting to see something I know isn't there. Where is it?


My mind is my own, but my body isn't. It shakes and convulses, dancing to a sick, twisted and unnatural tune that nobody can hear. I'm spinning out of control. What is this? But before I can answer, before anyone can answer, I go limp and fall to my knees. Head bowed, I keep my eyes closed shut. Where can I go?

The road before me melts. It's dulled white lanes sink into the black pavement - now grey. No feeling. No emotion. Nothing. I pick myself up slowly, getting to my feet only to feel something deep, dark and dank. My heart seeping through the soles of my shoes. Lost. I try to fight it. I desperately grapple with such intense gravity, but it is a losing battle. The more I fight, the less I feel. The more I win, the weaker I grow. It's gone.

I feel rain. But it isn't rain. The sky isn't grey. Isn't blue. Isn't black. Isn't anything. Where is the sky? What it might have been, now drips from above - like paint on a canvas. It's falling apart. All of it.

Why do I bother? My wall of my strength is torn down, ripped asunder by catapults unseen. I crumble once again. I feel nothing. See nothing. Hear nothing. Deaf, dumb and mute - this place is empty and full. Standing and sitting between nowhere and everywhere, it cries silence and reaches without limbs. I cannot define what I cannot sense. It isn't gloom. It doesn't gleam. I feel something tugging at my sleeves, my very essence. It warns me. What is it? What is this feeling of utter inability, helplessness, impotence? It stifles my mind's screams and I come face to face with it's blank, ever-changing face: Dread.

If only I knew what this place was. If only I remembered. If only.


But I can't sit still and standing. I can't go screaming quietly into that dark day. I remember that I cannot see, my eyes useless. But I feel. Not with my hands, my skin - but with my mind. I feel this place around me. I feel it.

I forget the cold, burning pavement beneath my legs, it's jarring teeth that bit through my skin. I forget the chilling warmth that cleaved my soul. I forget the soft sky that dropped to earth. Past. I've left it behind.

I rise into the air. Between earth and sky. Between hell and heaven. Balance. I make my claim - It's mine. This idea is mine. It circles around me, and I around it. Leaving this body behind, I merge with the idea. We are one.

This place of thoughts, without feeling, had drained me. It draws us all. But we persevere. We persist. We prevail. As I leave the fluid of my mind, I remember my purpose; the goal. I remember the idea I now hold close. In this promised nowhere-land, beneath it's hard, inconsistent soil - it holds riches beyond your imagination. You need only look. I sit staring at this blank sheet, and gently put ink to paper.

It's cold.


Sunday, September 18, 2011



Gone and lost my way this long winter's day.

Honour affords no pay, so join the fray they would say, and I just might, I just may...

But the sun's hopeful ray fades only to grey, and no matter how far I stray, how hard they pray, I'll ne'er be able to stay.

The unknown holds its sway, no dismay, feelings to convey, I've naught for which to stay.

My mind in disarray, so far from the trail, some stains won't wash away.



Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I had always been a deep sleeper, but not entirely unobservant. Heaving my heavy eyelids open, the first thing I saw was the rain on my window pane. I quickly looked over at my brother's bed. Empty.

"Huh." I sighed. There'd been a thunderstorm.

I lay on my back a while. I didn't wanna go back to school. The second week of 4th grade was off to a rocky start, but at least it wasn't Monday anymore.

"Four more days til the weekend..." I thought, staring at the ceiling.

My bed and blanket was wrapped around me like a coccoon and I tried to roll back into the comforting warmth. Instead, I ended up rolling off the bed completely and hitting the floor, winding me as the air was driven from my lungs with a groan. I struggled to my feet, tending to my sore back and pulled on a pair of worn jeans and a Sex Pistols T-shirt. Groggily dragging myself into the bathroom, I finished washing up and slumped down the white carpeted stairs with only one thought on my mind: Breakfast. I walked past my parents bedroom, passing long enough to glimpse my baby brother sprawled all over their covers. Lucky bugger didn't need to get up and go to school. I kept going past the kitchen and into the living room.

My parents didn't even turn around to say 'good morning'. Odd. Instead, they were sitting on the edge of their seats on one of the sofas. Mum was close to tears; her face turned away and tucked into my dad's neck. Dad had his giant, tree-trunk arm gently wrapped around her - keeping her safe. Mum began to sob, and that didn't happen often. It was only then that I noticed the tele.

I slowly drew closer to the couches, careful not to make any noise. I let my hands slowly grasp the sofa's soft, supple leather and watched as a pair of jumbo jets flew dead into two towering sky-scrapers. Watched as infernos erupted and piercing screams rang out. Watched as clouds of smoke billowed from the two dying giants. Watched the ensuing chaos. The fear. The terror. The horror.

"Make it stop, Ollie. My god, why? Why?!" sobbed Mum into my dad's royal blue shirt. He said nothing - just held her closer, flinching each time the planes crashed and re-crashed, as the nauseating clips was played over and over.

Something yawned behind me and a small, dazed voice managed to say: "What movie are you guys watching?"

They finally turned around to look at us. "It's not a movie, baby. It's real." struggled Mum.

My eyes never left the screen.


It's been ten years. Ten long years since that day. Some of us remember where we were when it happened, some don't and some of us can never forget.

The opening ceremony of the 9/11 Memorial is a testament to that fact. The two cascading waterfalls, moulded into the once-lost footprints of the two towers, were visually stirring. The rebuilding of of one tower - as of yet not complete, even after ten years - kindles hope. And the aloud-reading of the victims' names lended an emotional hand to their families and friends.

However, when now-Mayor Michael Bloomberg said people should no longer refer to this place as "Ground Zero" because "that's in the past", I shuddered. Why? Why the hell shouldn't we call it that? Why the bloody hell should we forget that this was not a simple tragedy, nor a natural disaster, nor a tragic accident? This was pure, unmitigated evil. There is no other word for it.

Yes, this memorial now stands to commemorate the dead - but history knows no better commemoration than Justice herself in all her beautiful glory. I say, never forget what happened here. Never forget why these innocent people died. Never forget what we still fight for. Never.

Expunging the reason and the truth behind this beautiful testament, this magnificent memorial, is to forget our reason. To forget this reason - while hundreds of thousands Americans and Canadians continue to lay down their lives each day in chilling courage and bravery - is the true travesty. We can never allow this to happen. Never.

We are still neck-deep in this war. It is not over. Churchill didn't tour London during Hitler's blitz with a comforting hand, trying to brush the dirt and debris over the whole mess - he called for victory! Roosevelt didn't just pat the surviving troops on the back after the destruction at Pearl Harbour - he called for triumph! Finish and bring the boys home, I say. 9/11 must never cease to be a day of remembrance and empowerment. Never.

This war is not about gold. Not about god. Not about glory. Not about resources, faith or vengeance. It's about Justice - something we must remember.

A decade it's been now. History will never forget, just as America never has and never should. Never stop remembering. Never.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How Dumb I've Become

School's not cool. Whoever said that?
Must've been a fool, some smart-ass brat.
Books, studying and wide-eyed nights.
Already wishing for my own last rites.
Missing the summer, the clear warm days.
The good times, great times, now all a haze...
And yet here I lie, awaiting the sun.
To hear some black-tie tell me how dumb I've become.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Burns & Bruises

Her awkward, tiny steps down the street set her apart, but nobody bothers to notice. She passes in and out of our peripherals, like a blindspot we've grown accustomed to ignoring... to forgetting. Time has bent her now crooked back, weighed down under a lifetime of trial and tribulation. Drab, floor length skirts barely hide the worn sneakers that have taken her back and forth across the city a million times, and a million times again. She gathers her shoulders inside the frayed, royal blue cardigan, somehow drawing her arms further into its lengthy-sleeves - thin protection from a cold world. Thick, horn-rimmed bifocals sit perched on the bridge of her nose, but she keeps her eyes on the grey, unbiased ground in front of her.

When she does speak, her voice is thin and frail, yet with a lighter tone. Something that might have once held a music of its own - a symphony lost, a composer forgotten. She stumbles over her words, unsure of how much to say at any one time, as each trips out. It's not the language itself that's in short supply, but the confidence and poise. She doesn't care for it anymore though. It holds no meaning, no necessity for her. It has become but a means to an end - and not the end itself.

From a far land, she made the journey to this land of promise and dreams. She invested her hope in a new, better life for her and her family. One without political turmoil. Without social limit. Where the only limits to what you could achieve was what you could believe - and where, for once, what you believed could set you free.

Over 50 years later, she is alone. Her husband died long ago. Granted a small room in the basement of his house, she lives under her now wealthy, successful son - happy for his prosperity. She loves her quickly-growing grandson with all her heart, even as he makes his way to leave home. But she is alone. To everyone around, she has served her purpose: an archaic staircase for a machine that resorts to elevators. She is obsolete.

I see her now, as I leave the house to fetch the mail. She tends to the tiny garden with a giant house all to herself. A 9-5 housesitter. No friends - her family was the be-all, end-all of her life. She treks each day to her daughter's home, to take care of her younger grandchildren while she's at work. Nobody picks her up or offers her a ride - she does it willingly. Taking the same bus every morning. She lives for others, to feel needed, to escape her isolation.


Have you ever seen loneliness?

Humanity. Unlike any other form of life on the face of the earth in one, single, unique respect: our ability to communicate.

We are social beings; creatures of communication. We thrive on interaction - from a smile and a laugh, to handshakes and sex. We need others. Others to care for and be cared by. To love and be loved. To understand and be understood. To lean on and be leaned on. To live. A life without that kind of connection, that kind of tie, that kind of bond... is to be without that which gives us our fruitful existence. It fulfills us in ways we can't imagine being without.

Try to imagine a world without any interaction. Where day and night pass like cars on a freeway - countless and meaningless. Where every hue of every colour in every tiny, natural detail was lost to the depths of your mind - passing each rational barrier and every logical strain. Why? Because there would be nobody to share it with. No basis upon which to think, to learn... to grow. And if we can't grow, we can't live.

No man is an island, true enough. There's a reason 'Solitary Confinement' is the next-to-last resort in federal penitentiaries. It can drive you insane: alone with your thoughts, bereft of all human contact. We cannot do without it. Like a drug, this connection has its highs and lows, bringing pleasure - but always with the risk of pain. And not all pains are burns and bruises.

As this connection grows stronger, we feel needed. And to be needed, in even the smallest way, is something each of us craves. We feel purpose. We feel motive. We feel important. It's true that our relationships can weaken us and expose our vulnerability, but they can do far more than that. Our resolve to remain in another's life, to help them, mend them and be with them can make us powerful in a world where Life's own crux eludes us.

"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others." - Dalai Lama


I grip the shifter and throw the car into 'reverse'. Looking over my shoulder, I slowly roll back down the road towards the old woman. She doesn't look up, keeping her steady pace on the pavement. She doesn't see the beautiful summer blossoms nor the colourful billboards up ahead. Doesn't hear the whistling wind nor my car's rumbling engine. Smell the freshly fallen rain nor the propane from my neighbor's BBQ.
I roll down the passenger window and lean towards the opening:

"Do you need a ride?"

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brave the Fear

"It's really not so bad once you get up there, you know."

Caleb strained his neck to see the top of the towering structure. Just looking at it made his head spin.

"I don't think I ca-"
"Then don't think! I've done that for you." laughed his older brother, slapping his back. "This is just one of those things, bud, that you can't think about... until it's too late."

Caleb's head whipped around. "Too late for what?!"

"Ermm, to... uhhh..." Calvin struggled.

"To realize how much fun you're having." supplied their dad, stepping in and shooting his eldest boy a look that said "Just keep your mouth shut."

"It's OK, Caleb." offered his mother, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Take your time and do it when you feel ready. There's always next year."

The little boy looked down at the ground, then back up at the giant structure. Massive neon letters blared red, green and blue all at once. And it always seemed to go the same way for him. Walk up, look down, walk down - rinse and repeat. Why do people feel the need to do something so dangerous? Strapping yourself into a rickety metal body and then shoot high and low through loops and falls... it just didn't seem sensible. Hell, didn't seem sane. Looking around, names like 'The Obliterator' and 'Killing Machine' didn't make it seem any more appealing.

A dad carrying his little boy on his shoulders waltzed through the entrance; the tiny youngster laughing the whole way through. That kid couldn't have been older than seven or eight! Damnit!


"I can't." he said, keeping his eyes on the ground.

Before Dad could stop him, Calvin crouched down and looked his little brother in the eye. "Look. It's ok to be afraid."

Caleb looked up. "You're not afraid."

The older teenager grinned. "Everyone's afraid, bud. But the only way to deal with it is face it."

"I'm not as brave as you are."

Calvin laughed and put his hand on the younger boy's shoulder. "You think so? Why?"

Keeping his eyes on his feet, he mumbled "Because you have more courage than I do."

A slight pause, as his older brother ran his hand through his hair. "What is courage, Caleb?"

"Not being afraid." he answered, eyes still on the ground.

"No." Calvin replied, shaking his head. "Courage is choosing to face the fear. Choosing to overcome it. It's the feeling. Being brave is just sticking with that feeling, going through with it - the actual act of facing fear wherever it might be."

Caleb lifted his head to look his brother in the eye.

Calvin continued: "Whether it's slaying a fire-breathing dragon..." He nodded his head at the entrance. "... or bunging it out on a roller coaster."

Caleb thought for a moment. "How do you know?"

Grinning, the teenager looked up at their dad. "'Cause a very wise man told me that when I was your age."

Two parents beamed down at their kids, and Caleb followed his brother's inspired look.

"Now." started Calvin, taking a breath and getting to his feet. "Whadyeh say?" He held out his hand. "Let's put 'scary' to the test."

Caleb smiled shyly, shoved his fists in his pockets and walked ahead of his brother. "Put that hand away, everyone'll think you're some scaredy-cat."

Calvin shot his eyes to the sky, but jogged after his brother and through the coaster's brightly-lit entrance.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


The colours faded,
Their luster gone.
No darkness nor light,
The twilight's eager dawn.

Our heart's hollow,
Our mind astray.
Senses clouded,
As the heavy fog's Grey.

We seek, search, forage,
For something hidden and lost,
Yearn to feel its comfort hold,
No matter what the cost.

But it's no item, no useless trinket,
That belies our aching mind.
Like a summer breeze t'will come,
To its will; resigned.

No power, nor say,
To forego its seamless right.
Veiled; your soul it seeps,
For all the endless night.

Question your heart, your longing lust
And all you that hold dear.
So then you see, what you want
Is really not so clear.

That thing worth finding,
S'not to be found at all.
Til we cease the search,
And heed it's timely call.


Crossed Paths

What-might-have-once-been a white mercedes touring van - caked with dirt, sand, and mud - pulls up to the Departures drop-off at Johannesburg International. It's already dark despite the sun having only just dropped below the horizon. The dodgy van's idling engine rumbles as the blaring sound of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody filters through its windows, turning the heads of bustling travellers that pass through the terminal's sliding doors. To match the van, a group of just-as-soiled backpackers file out from the rear while a mismatched pair - one tall and lanky, the other short and portly - squeeze out of the front seats and set about unloading the rickety-trailer in tow behind the van. The tired group stretch their limbs and yawn as they go about gathering their respective duffel-bags and backpacks. Their teamwork, like a well-oiled-machine, makes quick work of the heavy load and before long, the trailer's cargo stands neatly stacked on the terminal's cold pavement. The group then turn to face each other, at first unsure of how to say goodbye, but that quickly changes as they sidestep bags and trolleys to exchange hearty handshakes and heartfelt hugs. Emails and telephone numbers are quickly scribbled down and swapped, as the two mismatched guides stand to one side and look on. Their fists shoved into their pockets, they try to keep straight faces and blink away the tears that well up at the corner of their eyes. But they don't go unnoticed and the rest of the group quickly turns on them, smothering them with bear hugs and ardent thanks. The same are returned, amid lively laughing and thorough promises of returns and calls. But the planes and trains aren't patient, and the group remembers that their time is up. The night is wearing on, and after a few last handshakes, kind words and spirited waving, the group go their separate ways, some homeward bound and others on to other exotic places. And despite their different languages, home countries, beliefs, ideals, religions, ages and careers - they all shared an unforgettable time together.


It's an odd thing, really. It's one of those things we don't actively think about or even consider - at least, I didn't, until it was my turn to say goodbye. After 10 days and thousands of kilometers spent singing, laughing and sleeping in the back of that dodgy old van, I'd actually gotten to know that small group of people rather well. But as I fell asleep that night, I realized 10 days really isn't that much time at all. And yet, we each pass millions of people throughout our lives, each one slipping out of our conscious mind as quickly and silently as they came in. It goes on as we joke about prices at the gas pump, argue at the traffic lights, bump trolleys at the supermarket, or talk ourselves through leaping off the Victoria Falls (anybody?).


The fact is, we meet these people through the most unlikely, uncommon, unbelievable and unforeseeable ways, and yet we hardly ever consider how distinct and unique these lives are that we so briefly touch. But a group of 16 people make a 10 day journey across southern Africa, from Johannesburg to the Zambian side of Victoria Falls, back through Botswana's Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta, covering thousands of barely-paved kilometers and hundreds of personal stories - and end with tearful goodbyes. How? Such an unlikely group come together from across the globe - from England, Ireland, Holland, Canada and South Africa - to discover the beauty of Africa, but share so much more.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shades of Grey

Everything's still a little hazy, nothing like Hollywood's stuntsmen had taught me. Oh sure, the adrenaline's still pumping and my vision's sharpened - but my knuckles hurt like a bitch. I massage them bitterly, lifting my right hand to my mouth and sucking at the open wounds. It stings, but somehow feels better. The bitter metallic taste makes me gag a little.

We're standing in the corner of the alley, near the dumpster, and though I can remember the pungent reek of rotten eggs and off-milk from before - I can't smell it anymore. Matt and Frank are shuffling from foot to foot in the cold. With these temperatures, we had expected it to snow by now, but I guess Mother Nature's getting old and behind with the times. Three cops are standing in the opposite corner, talking to the pub owner; Ian. He's a small man, but he's got a big heart, often donating much of the pub's revenue to charity. Swell guy, he doesn't run it for the money. All of a sudden, one of the cops breaks off from his comrades and strides over. Jesus, I think, the guy probably has "anabolic" tattooed on his arm. He stops, puts his gigantic hands on his hips and looks down at us.

"Well, gentlemen?"


We pause for a second, looking at each other, unsure of how to proceed. The cop sighs and reaching for his back pocket, pulls out a pen and pad. He flips a few pages back and recites:

"One Mr. Taggert," he says confidently, looking back to us, "is currently in hospital with a concussion. Unfortunately, in his state, he could not answer many of our questions. The most important being, 'who hit him.'" He tucks the notebook back in its place and crosses the massive pythons across his chest. "Now, boys. I trust I don't need to explain the seriousness of the situation?"

We shake our heads unanimously.

"Good." He nods in approval. "Now, I'll still be needing an answer to that question."

Matt blinks a few times, totally flipping out in his mind. He's never been confronted by a cop before, and this arrogant dick isn't making it any easier for him. I guess that's his job though, I think to myself. I don't need to look at Frank to see the sweat breaking out on his forehead. Even in this cold. He's got a damn hot temper, but he's a solid friend. Always at your back, fiercely loyal and damn honest. I can see his breathing grow shallower as his asthma kicks in. Go figure, a fighter with asthma. Breathing problems aside however, Franky's biggest problem is his record. I shudder to think of how many times he's been involved in 'public disturbances' - almost always standing up for the proverbial 'little guy', in fights he has no business interrupting. But he does it anyway, any day, come rain or shine. He can't take another legal-hit.

Frank may be sweating, but he sure as hell doesn't flinch. I hear him suck in a deep breath, but I take advantage of how long it takes him to get started.

"Officer, It wa-" he starts

"-me." I finish.

So cliche. Everyone looks to me. Matt looks up from his frozen feet. Frank's eyes shoot to me, completely taken aback. Even the cop raises his eyebrows. Yeah, alright, I don't make the most convincing fighter - I'm a 5'10'', lanky computer-engineer that can't hold liquor to save his life. But it's not as if I couldn't hit anyone? My poor, split-knuckles sting more than ever. I should probably see a doctor, I think to myself.
In all honesty, I had started the fight - trying to take a leaf out of Franky's book and help the poor girl that Taggert had his hands all over. Ended up using his jaw to break my fist. If my friend hadn't come to my rescue, I'd probably be the one in the ER.

Franky's still flabbergasted, but I can see the gratitude in his eyes. The cop looks to me, obviously not the brightest, and asks: "Name?". I give it, "Richard McLeod". No flinching. Just like Franky.


This world isn't painted black and white, absolutists can spout and spew all they want. Yes, there is good and evil, vitue and sin (not in the biblical, staunch sense of the word),  but everything is made up of a combination of the two. And unfortunately, balance isn't something that comes to humanity naturally, so there tends to be more of one than the other at any one time. It gets a little trickier when you think about morality. It makes me wonder whether obvious evils like lying and killing are really so obvious... so pitch black. Richard lied - but he didn't do it selfishly. Does that justify his sin?

Yeah, sins like these are inherently evil, but I say again - this world isn't painted black and white. You'll have unfair run-ins with such moral paradoxes throughout life and the real answer won't be so obvious. I guess my point is: to fight the shades of grey, you need to choose the right combination of both.