November 21, 2017

The Standard-bearer

A roseate sky to greet the sun,
Below the tall, greying mountain,
Blood-soaked sand crunch beneath men,
As they march through the noisome fen.

The carrion fowl circle the sky,
Early come; ranging far and wide,
Lowering now; as the armies cry,
When men war in senseless pride.

Their frenzied mob in fevered awe,
A hush pervades as the Captains halt,
A cry bursts forth the Leader's maw
Eager soldiers begin their assault.

Banners waving; the Cornets bawl,
The army gathers in the Flag's thrall,
The Ensign forth; brave and tall!
Proud his slogan; heed his call!

Forces clash with ringing steel,
As helms split and shields yield,
Red rivers flow as the sands beal, 
Brothers fight on for the sallow field.

The Ensign leads, the loyals charged,
A halberd unseen, his gut enlarged,
The Standard planted, his duty discharged.
Dead eyes behold the pennon, love writ large.

When the battle is over and all is done,
And the old wails for the fallen son,
And voices shout that peace is a mun,
The pennant stands still; alone it has won.

October 29, 2017

The Travel Companion

He wasn't a regular passenger – she knew pretty much everyone on that route. She took the bus everyday to the paintball arena where she worked. Day in, day out. She enjoyed working – sometimes when the customers didn't have enough members on their teams she got to play to make up the numbers. Consequently, she was a decent marksman; in her own words - “wicked cool”. She knew the driver and the conductor. She knew the young boy and his father who ran the butcher shop down by the market. She knew the two old women who ran the little clothes store a couple of blocks down. She even knew the short, muscular young man who was no doubt going home after another night guarding the bank near the bus stand. No, he wasn't a regular.

She had just managed to settle down on her seat – not that the bus was crowded so early in the morning. But she had her favourite seat right in the middle of the bus where the creaky leaf springs still afforded some sort of shock absorption. It was by the window so she could look around both forwards and backwards during her journey. She never tired of her beautiful little town. It was a matter of perspective, she surmised. The smoke from the heavy, lumbering vehicles left over from the American invasion she studied about in school; the filth accumulated in piles behind the street markets and the alleyways where tourists could satiate their desires for the right price. In stark contrast were the temples and pagodas with their serene, gold domes; the gently flowing river with blossom-leaden trees dipping in their heavy branches in time with the whistling breeze and the happy people going about their businesses in their colourful clothes. Her town was a happy place all in all. Which begged the question as to why the stranger had a frown. He wasn't a regular passenger for sure.

He got on the bus at the stop next to hers. He made his way past the first few seats acknowledging the passengers with tiny, jerky nods of his head and made his way to the middle of the bus. Hesitating a moment, he set down his bulky frame in the seat opposite her. Curious, she studied him surreptitiously. He was a heavyset man in his early seventies. A two-day old stubble crept around his cheeks. His clothes were, while shabby, not decrepit and seemed to accentuate his slumped shoulders. In his hands, he carried a bouquet of fresh garden flowers that didn't boast of arrangement by a practised hand – he had made it himself, she surmised – and a white plastic bag that didn't seem leaden. His eyes were dull & listless and his lips were pulled down in a spectacular frown that made him look like he had been burdened with all the many evils that were once stored within Pandora's famous box. Quite suddenly, as if he was aware of her scrutiny, he turned to look straight at her. It was so unexpected that she sat there frozen, their gazes affixed. She felt her skin heating up as her cheeks coloured. The man's eyes slowly brightened and his lips slowly pulled up until his frown became an indulgent, avuncular smile. 

Pretty soon, she was talking with him like she had known him for ages. He was a factory worker at the canned goods company near the docks. He had saved enough; he would soon retire and live a quiet life running his very own souvenir store near the floating markets. No, he didn't come this way often. He had a daughter who he was going to visit. The flowers were for her. There were sweets in the plastic bag – her favourite kind. He told her stories of the war, of how he had been a scout during it. He spoke of the many regimes and rulers of the past. He seemed so animated when he had someone to speak to. Yet, during intermittent moments of silence he succumbed to his dour countenance once more. He was such an enchanting old man that she didn't even realise how the time flew. 

A stop before hers, the old man raised his prodigious bulk out of the seat and announced that he had to get off. She wished him well and asked him to pass on her greetings to his daughter. He smiled again and thanked her for her companionship. Collecting his belongings, he alighted from the shuddering vehicle. As the bus backfired and trundled ahead, from her window, she saw him amble slowly; head downcast, shoulders drooping; into the cemetery.

March 11, 2017

The Bubble

I exist. I suddenly came into being. I was.

A gentle breeze on a hot summer afternoon lifted me from the plastic womb that formed me. A child, laughing, breathed me into shape. I was floating; carried this way and that by the rising currents of warm air. The warmth - it held me; surrounded me; willed me into my rotundness; made me feel lighter than a feather.

I am. I am, but a wispy, film of soap and water. I am beautiful - I know I am. I see the children pointing excitedly at me; My ballerina-like movements bring unfettered joy in the eyes of the old woman defiantly plodding in the wake of her dancing granddaughter. I sport a rainbow all around me: the iridescence promising infinite, unfathomable possibilities. The colours clashed and melded into patterns that defied logic and the imagination of the crowd that had gathered around me, admiring. I see an older boy draw near. His appreciation for me seems to know no bounds. He is reaching for me. I glow extra-bright with the adoration.

I wasn't. I suddenly winked out of existence. I ceased to be.

February 20, 2017

An Allusion

Meandering the paths of manic reflection,
Pursued by insomnia's muted suggestion,
Overwhelmed by guilt; the feeble natation -
A snaring of the senses; panic's vaticination,

A gathering of the distraught; fears' prehension,
The erosion of reasoning; mental denudation,
Hate & discord entwined in social isolation -
With hopeless regret; an emotional imbrication.

Diquieted by the disgrace of dread's desolation,
Uncertain of the absolute; anxietic abduction,
Mired in apathy's dispassionate subjugation -
A constant whisper; of suicidal solution.

A vision of frailty; fraught in illusion,
Born of the mind's disconnected seclusion,
Ends with the single, inevitable conclusion -
Of grandiose deception; a fractured delusion.