Telling the beads



Between the wanting and the wishing,

And the fist curling tight,

Is the quenching of the dream.

The cruise ship and the beach parties roll on into the dark,

With the heat and spilled wine,

The laughter with forgotten friends.

Was it in Tenerife?

What was it was had for dinner then?

We should have bought the blue one not the red.

And the stars were the same as ever,

And his hand next to yours,

And the jokes were ones you’d heard before,

So you cast about, among the silk scarves and white doves,

For another dream,

Another windmill flailing useless arms.

The night comes to us all,

Though the string of our bright beads is not enough to light the way,

While in the belly grows the griping fear

That for us there is no pier,

No green light, nor even a red,

Only desires plucked from a catalogue,

To hold beneath the hand,

To hold tight and high, to admire in the sun

And pretend we have not crushed their fragile wings,

And they will never ever fly.


Other eyes

The Daily Post prompt is: tourist

I used this painting very recently, but it’s the kind of image that preys on my mind.


In that village on the hill,

Where every house has shutters green,

And yellow ochre plasters walls,

And pines cast shade, a midday screen,

The people move with gestures same

As yours and mine, they eat, complain,

They lean on windowsills and plan,

They long for places we disdain.

Old men beneath the church wall sit,

Or by the fountain’s shady side.

Women call their children home,

Good smells waft through windows wide.

We walk in wonder cobbled streets

And wish that this could all be ours,

We’d make such beauty food and drink

And never pine for fog or showers.


The girl stops peeling beans to watch

The tourists passing in the street,

Her eyes so wistful full of dreams

Of the people she will never meet.

The peace to her is boredom pure,

The future planned to her last breath,

No beauty in old stones she sees,

Only slow and lingering death.

Christmas blues continued or: what I am going to do with the rest of my life

Today was supposed to be big book promotion day for The Dark Citadel with an Amazon countdown deal and a couple of advertising sites weighing in. I’ll have to take Amazon’s word for it that the deal is actually on because I can’t see any price change. So, no more promotional links from me, as they don’t show a new low price.

There are also only three shopping days left until Christmas. Having abandoned shopping last Friday, I had a look on the flea market yesterday and found a few pretty bits and pieces. I had intended looking up town this morning before the crowds get there, but wasted half of it in futile emails to Amazon. Taking my boiling blood to the shops was not a good idea, so I took Finbar for a long walk instead.

The morning was beautiful, sunny, cool and the colours all so vivid. We were overtaken down by the river by a Tibetan monk, saffron robes, shaved head, sandals, the lot. He stood in quiet contemplation, looking through the golden trees, across the beautiful blue river where a thin veil of mist was dissipating in the sun. His hands were lost inside his robes and I assumed he was looking for his rosary beads or whatever thingies Buddhist monks use to get the spiritual juices flowing. When I looked back he had got out his smart phone and was taking a pic of the cityscape behind us. Somehow, that made me feel even more depressed.

What I realised though, as I watched the placid river, the robins, and a pair of magpies inspecting a likely-looking nest, is that this whole book lark is taking over my life. I spend hours each day writing. When I’m not writing new stuff, I’m trying to write synopses, query letters, polishing completed mss, or looking around for places to submit novels or short fiction.

Many writers claim that the creative aspect is enough to keep them going. I thought it was too, with a little recognition from time to time. When a lovely review comes in, or a story or a poem is accepted for publication, I get a real thrill of happiness. But it would also be nice to see my paypal account filling up. That is the real litmus test—do the punters, not just the literate, like-minded and possibly indulgent people who ‘know’ me, want to buy my books? If they don’t, I feel that I’m bashing my head against a brick wall.

From now on, and I suppose this counts as a New Year’s resolution, I am going to spend more time on OTHER THINGS. I will sit down and write when I feel I have something to say, not because it’s like a nine to five job where I sit in front of the computer until I find something to whitter on about. I am not going to sweat to get Beyond the Realm of Night into paperback because I don’t think it’s worth the time, hassle, and the expense of buying a proof copy.

I’m going to…well…I could wash the dog’s blankets, or clean out the kitchen cupboards, or…something.


Sometimes, especially during the long summer holidays, the family cocoon feels more like a pressure cooker.


Anger spikes, flaring like lit fuses
Among unwashed dishes and wet bath towels.
Small detonations echo through the neglected house
Racketing around the uncleaned shower.
Shouting clouds the air
Where faces hang sullen and silent
The eternal expression of the wrongly accused.
I halt in my tirade, your hand on mine
Voice low and soothing as a summer breeze.
And I long to take your arm,
To fly away from the squalor of family life
And find a love nest just big enough for two
Where we can live our lives whole,
Not chopped into a hundred pieces
To suit the whim of this one or that.
Your calm strokes my skin
And coats my ear with honeyed words.
Not run away, you say
Push aside the unimportant tasks
Take up only those that count.
With soft words you lead me from the fray
Usher me into my world of embroidered words
Wrought in gold and silver, forged as hard as steel
In shades of all the feelings a fiery heart can shape.
Here, in my realm
Sun shines warm in an eternal spring
Rain falls soft as thistledown, sweet as the thrush’s song.
In my world you are always there to take my hand
And the shower is always clean.