How books shaped my perception of the world

Growing up,

I was convinced,

That the famous five would turn up and take me on an adventure,

Or that I’d find fairies in the garden-

A secret garden- a secret garden possessed by magic;

And I’d explore and meet a ghost, or a wizard,

Or a talking lion and maybe I’d discover a whole new world

And battle my fears and pirates and growing up

I somehow knew

That life would be exciting,

Because I’d find buried treasure and be famous

Or I’d foil a dastardly plot against the Queen-

Either way, I’d be a hero back in my small home town,

And my neighbours would actually know my name,

And I’d have a dog. My partner in crime.

Growing up,

I realised that it did not matter if I was tall, or awkward,

Because handsome princes have to marry the heroine,

That’s just the way it’s written,

So I was sure to have a happy ending in the end.

And I’d live in a castle, with a library,

With enough books to fill my head with nonsense.

Submitted by fullstops

towering above our heads
beams and glass

stretch     m i l e s   u p    to the firmament
sheafs of metal and stone
a proud monument to the humanity
obidiently moulded in the

d

e

p

t

h

of ignescent jaws of a foundry.

Submitted by ink-phantoms

On Memory

An original composition. 

Let it all out. Enter the sweet, never-quite-true world of memory, where everything runs through the filters of music and color and nostalgia, passes through the Gateless Gate beyond which even the most ignoble sufferings seem to have the same magic of the past. The present slips through you and becomes film photographs, remembered melodies, great friendships and beaming smiles, and before you know it your whole life is behind you. Take in the mysticism of bravery, of sex and dreams and demeanor, of French girls in photographs and of sweet love made for the first time, of the simple ineffability of every single experience, which only seem comprehensible and meaningful when you revisit them by wandering through the black attics of memory, where they pulse like luminescent butterflies, alive with the glories of play and the wistful teardrops of all that we have done, because all we have done has brought us to what we are doing right now. Who could or would be free from the magic of a bike ride down a long trail, of a walk taken with a stoned friend, of all the enchantments and disenchantments of high school, which bind and release as often as the sun rises and sets? My remembered life is not a progression of moments but a pastiche and a panoply, a Picasso mural full of all the things I succeeded in and all the things I didn’t, full of snapshots and snatches of conversation and the spiderweb of moments that influenced and tugged on each other across the shuffled card deck of time, all of it bringing about the sad smile which only ever comes from reflection. Our brains and our souls do this, send us spiraling into the past, revealing the pattern that emerges when the waves of time have eroded the moments in between defining flashes of light that seize what was temporal and turn it, like the transduction of energy brings the world into ourselves, into the eternal humility of a snapshot. Tenderness saturates your being like a conciliatory quicksand around the legs, and looking back on the scatter of what I’ve managed to snag from the river of time and store with me in little albums and mobiles and dreamcatchers, I embrace even my enemies, wish somehow I could move beyond the faded stillness of what is after all a memory, a symbol of something which during its own time bloomed with incredible flowering motion. The mind is like an aviary full of yellow canaries and sailors that spend all night playing patience whittling and drinking from old green bottles, and by the time we realize this the canaries are already fleeing or else holing up for the night, done with their singing, so seize it all now before it fades, regardless of how many ancient globes spin in your memory and entrance you with hypnotic numerologies that you could not see when they spun before you the first time; once it has passed it is subject to the many predators of the unconscious, who bend and twist and sprinkle fairy dust on what happened before, and the jungles of memory become a place to see that each of your friends was a steeple before which to kneel and pray, a bundle of sizzling nerve fibers more precious than a bowl of diamonds, that every love no matter how impure was still an intimation of the great Maternal Soul who presides over all such matters, that each tragedy was a lesson imparting volumes and volumes of wisdom through the simply stark meaningless fact of its happening, that each leaf and piece of mulch and ignorant comment is integral to life, that it all happens because … so use this knowledge, this late-night grasping for the lost & hinted worlds of your memory, where dreamtigers stalk, footprints leaving Arabic sentences in the mud, and where ghosts dance with living folk in the ballrooms of Regret and Remembrance, use this knowledge to throw yourself forward, into the immense shining value of everything and anything that will ever grace your being with its simplicity or complexity: doing this, become the river. 

Submitted by vast-flowing-vigor

Funerals. They’re a frightful bore, aren’t they? I’ve been to far too many, but that’s what happens when you come from a ridiculously large and archaic catholic family. They all spend their time clamouring to die. Must get to heaven before Cousin Doris.

But this one was interesting. I had a quick peep in the coffin, my face covered by a handkerchief in mock grief- they’d sewn her up quite neatly, I thought. And the Boy’s family on the other side of the church. A double funeral, no less. I was so sure Father Laurence wouldn’t agree to that. What was he thinking, letting our families in the same room? But then the rumours reached my ears. About Father Laurence, and a shadow of implication. It made sense. He was sweating up on the pulpit.

Everyone cried. It was awful. There was Aunty C, clutching at his mother, drowning in tears behind their black veils, and everyone muttering and shaking their heads. A tragedy, a bloody tragedy. We’re sorry for your loss. I didn’t think it was a tragedy. I thought it was bloody stupid.

 I tried to warn her, really I did. But she just said I was jealous, jealous because he wasn’t interested in me anymore. Now that was amusing. I told her, as plainly as I could, that I was glad the freak had stopped following me around town and pawing through my rubbish. It was wonderful knowing I could turn up to a party and not see his eyes following me across the room, like a wounded stag begging to be put out of misery. And it was a relief when he stopped bombarding me with love letters and leaving tear stained poetry on my doorstep. Honestly, the cringe worthy sentiments he sent to me were enough to make me want to vomit.  She blushed. Interesting.  Has he been recycling those little love notes? I asked, and she blushed harder. I laughed, and told her about my favourite one. Rosie, you are the sun. Marry me?  She called me a liar. I told her I’d sent the ring back, along with a restraining order.

You’re a slut. That’s what she said to me. You’re a slut and I hate you. He loves me now.  Fine, I said, fine. What is it you’re planning, Ju? Running away from daddy and straight into his arms? A moonlight flit? Are you going to marry him? Fine, I laughed. Go ahead, I won’t tell anyone.

But it’s your funeral.

Submitted by fullstops

she had skinny wrists
and a broken heart
and a necklace she wouldn’t take off—
you could watch her hesitate doing
the tiniest thing.
she wanted to learn to run headfirst,
keep her eyelids closed
and swim while trusting the water
to keep her afloat.
she had a rusty pair of scissors
gripped in her white knuckles
and wished she could be brave enough
to shear off her
lustrous black hair
and the pretty,
delicate image of her
you have in your mind.

Submitted by thegreatbigquestionmark

Never Land

London, 1917

He was the brave one. He’d never been scared of anything, he’d boast, and she was glad, glad because as long as he was there to take care of her, and fight for her, and rescue her, she could continue to love him. But now she must be the brave one. For him.

But she told no one that every evening, she would light the long forgotten night lights, blowing away the dust and humming an abandoned lullaby. Every evening, she’d falter in the doorway to their bedroom, then turn and head for the nursery. Bent double in a tiny bed, she’d breathe in the scent of her childhood, and pull the covers over her head, tracing her fingers over her memories. It had been so easy, back then, to escape the nightmares. How easy it had been, for a small girl to feel safe in the arms of a boy.

During the day she’d rattle around the old Kensington home, writing ridiculously cheerful letters then tossing them into the fire place. Uncannily astute, he’d see right through them, and she mustn’t let him know that she was afraid. Some days, she could no longer bear it. Some days, she would sit by the nursery window, and wait for the stars to come out.

She’d only received three letters from France. The first had been ridiculously cheerful, filled with adventure and pleasant descriptions of the country side, and the food, and the men, and the training. The second had been filled with desperate assurances. The third had arrived only yesterday, three months after his last.  

The generals say that we have arrived as boys and will leave as men, but that isn’t true. None of these boys will ever grow old.

I love you, Darling

Peter

Submitted by fullstops


blue

take the time to blink twice
and let the music of the sky
sink into your eyes

breathe



Submitted by thegreatbigquestionmark



your lips taste of the 
peanut m&m’s straight from the jar
and of drunken promises
in the dead of night.
our eyelids are shut
and our eyelashes tangle
from the closeness of us. 
your warmth is everywhere
and i can hear every word
you murmur against my skin:
“you’re lovely, beautiful,
i wish you were mine,”
and i tell you to stop talking,
because it makes no sense
to wish for something
you already have

Submitted by thegreatbigquestionmark

Sick Note
Sick Note

They called in sick again.

It was easier for him; a quick email to his boss- a woman too busy to take phone calls, and a woman too busy to care- was all that sufficed. She had to wait until 9.30, until she knew her boss would be at his desk. That gave the rest of the office plenty of time to notice yet another absence, but it was plenty of time to sing herself hoarse.

She positively croaked down the phone.

The snatched back morning was slept away. She opened the windows wide, to let in the morning sun, and they stretched out like cats beneath the duvet. The sunlight splashed across her face, and he laughed and said that maybe she’d get a tan. They could not afford a holiday this year. This was their holiday.

The rest of the day was frittered away, filled with warm G&T’s and idle, hair brained schemes to get rich. She repeatedly vowed that this time, they’d clean up their act. He strummed his guitar and repeatedly ignored her.

After the fourth bottle, they were truly drunk, giggling as far away, termination papers were signed. They both fielded the news with good grace, not caring at all about substandard work, or unacceptable behaviour, and spent their last fifty on enough gin and cigarettes to get them through the rest of the week. They’d worry about it on Monday.

Submitted by fullstops
Words

Words are

practical tools

for assessing a relationship

or a discerning device in which you

can articulate properly the mishmash

of raging, disorganised thoughts

that you otherwise could not share

or a sensible mechanism for laying bare

your almost broken heart

without showing me the pieces

or a means to communicate just how

displeased you are with me

or a way of conveying just how

much I care.

Submitted by fullstops

The music and revelry did not stretch to that part of of town. The frequent fireworks did little to light up the row of filthy houses and abandoned shops, merely illuminating the grimy walls in bursts of neon before they were plunged back into gloom. The excitement of a New Year could not be found around here, in a tiny back street that time and the local council had forgot. The party had ended long ago.

A small old woman sat in a grubby pub, propped up alone in the corner. She was ignored by the other grey and fading patrons; she could hardly be seen for all the smoke and anguish that surrounded her. Unlike her, slovenly, silent companions though, she was dressed in her finery. Strings of tarnished pearls and discoloured diamonds hung in coils around her neck, and each finger was studded with stones that struggled to sparkle in the dim light. A magnificent, moth eaten fur had been delicately draped around her shoulders, and a dust filled, ostrich plume hat had been carefully placed on the table beside her, steadily soaking up a puddle of spilt whisky. She did not care, instead staring at the door. She would stay that way, her thicky rouged face etched in concentration, refusing to even turn her head, until the church bells chimed twelve and the town erupted in the celebrations of the new year.

Perhaps this New Year’s Eve, he would come back for her.

Submitted by fullstops

Dear public servant,

Submitted by Halflight101

Kira-Kira

I miss her,

I hear her voice in the waves,

Kira-Kira

Kira-Kira,

I hear her voice in the waves,

I miss her,

This is a poem that can be read backwards and forewords.

Submitted by the3booknerds

A Segment from a Novel-in-Progress … Taxi

The cab driver, Chicago-born and Chicago-raised, pulled up at the stoplight, back seat empty of passengers, and stopped to look up at the sky. The red lights in Chicago were long. He peeled back the greasy wrapper of a McDonalds hamburger that had been sitting in his car for a few hours, and then bit into it. He paused to push back a strand of equally greasy hair curled down around his lips. A black beret sat atop his filthy head. Phil Collins’ “Son of Man” blared from the taxi’s tinny radio. The cab driver craned forward to get a good look at the sky, and chomped in approval as he saw the sighing stretch of pure blue above him, past the tops of the buildings. Nature hates corners, the cab driver thought, and imagined the jolly blue belly of the sky wiggling in disapproval as the sharp edges of the skyscrapers poked it. Sky-scrapers, he mused. The cabbie tapped on the wheel to the music, very off-beat, and sang in a gruff voice, very off key. He sniffed the air and recoiled from the blend of smells coming from his body and the landfill on the floor of his car: discarded chicken legs, spilt gasoline, genital sweat, long-flat Coke, the uncleaned remains of one passenger’s vomit, and far more. The cab driver stuck his head out the open window, feeling the spring’s tickling breeze, the playful chorus of city noises, and taking in some more of the big glossy sky. I was a blockhead, I was a true asshole, he thought, but it’s sights like these that redeem me. It’s skies like these that redeem me. The light turned green, and he eased his foot off the brake, saying good-bye to the sky and driving on. His windshield was stained with bug corpses and mucus from the cab driver’s sneezes; visibility was low. He drove on, smiling, singing, belching. 

As he turned right onto Lake St. a businessman, shirt only halfway tucked and tie flapping, tried to flag him down. The businessman yelled and flailed his arms at the cabbie, one of which was holding a leather briefcase. The cabbie pulled to the side of the road and braked hard. The businessman slowed down but as he swung his briefcase both of the latches popped open and a whole cosmos of papers poured out onto the sidewalk, files and reports and notes in pen and pencil on papers white and yellow and lined and unlined, all of them scattering behind and in front of the moaning businessman, some dashing into a storm drain and others floating into the middle lanes of traffic. The businessman dropped to his knees. He threw off his suit jacket and exposed a white dress shirt coated with wide blotches of sweat. With a fuss of scrambles and mumbles the flustered man hurried to pick up all the papers he could, motioning at the same time for the cab driver not to leave him. Calmly, the cab driver opened his door, stepped out into another lane, and walked around the car to help the man. Cars screeched and bleated as they swerved to avoid missing him. Without saying a word, the cabbie scooped up all the papers around him, collated them into a neat, if damp, stack, and handed them to the businessman, who was still cursing himself and lunging around on his knees with only a few papers in his hands. The businessman looked up in awe at the cab driver, who stood grimy and sloppily dressed, a towering 5 feet 4 inches, and took the papers from the driver’s blackened hands. They both got in the taxi, the cabbie taking his sweet time, whistling and walking around the car into the road again. A car behind them, at the forefront of the growing clot in traffic, spied the “HOW’S MY DRIVING?” sticker on the back of the yellow taxi and telephoned the cab service to complain.

“Chicago and La Salle,” the businessman blurted. 

The cabbie settled in and turned the key while the businessman inspected the cab floor with a mixture of disgust and outright fear, trying to keep his loafers from touching one of the moldy banana peels or pools of shattered glass. The sights and the smells attacked the businessman, and he caught himself curling into a fetal ball. The taxi lurched left and the businessman felt what he hoped was not a cockroach tickle his naked ankle. 

“Maybe I should just walk … I can make it in time,” the businessman said, reaching for the door. The cab rolled on. The taxi driver didn’t respond.  The businessman’s hair was ragged and ruined. His clothes were soaked through with sweat. His cell phone was ringing in his pocket like a rodent nibbling on his leg. 

“What’s your name?” the cab driver asked.

The businessman spluttered. “I don’t have time for this! I’m very late.” His voice had the sharp, preening jumps of those very uneven people, those whose breaths and words are shallow and quick. He had the limping angst of a wounded animal or an army close to defeat. “If you’ll just get me there as fast as you can I’ll make it worth your while, I’ll pay you double. Hell, triple!” That’s when the businessman glanced over at the display on the taxi’s dashboard and noticed the driver hadn’t even turned it on.

“I’m Lou,” the driver said. 

“And I’m late,” the businessman said. “Your cab is dirty, Lou. You ever consider cleaning this thing?” Lou didn’t answer. He smiled. The businessman’s breathing was still frantic, his eyes still animal wild. 

“Don’t swim,” Lou remarked. “Float.”

The businessman just furrowed his eyebrows, sighing in despair and leaning his head against the dirty window. He emitted tiny sobs, in little choking bursts of three. Lou was quiet for a long time.  Then he took both hands off the steering wheel and turned it with his elbow as he burped and lit a cigarette. 

“You oughta take a nice long walk and let go of everything,” Lou said. The moment Lou’s voice appeared in the taxi, the businessman’s heart breathed a little bit deeper. The voice was gruff yet serene, sure yet humble. Each syllable seemed a nougat of truth. “That’s your problem, that’s the problem with you people. You change like this taxi turns, in sharp little jerks, maybe only five or six times in your whole life.” The businessman had to strain to hear Lou’s words through a mouth full of hamburger, but he didn’t dare ask the cab driver to repeat himself. The businessman felt like he had been quickly awakened and rocked gently to sleep all at once. His muscles relaxed, and his feet touched the disgusting floor without flinch or shiver. 

“You’re already going to be late for whatever it is you’re going to,” Lou said. “Why not take these few minutes and enjoy some good old silence? Some good old peace? Enjoy it with me.” 

So they did. The taxi rolled on from block to block, and even with the windows rolled down and the noise of the city pouring in, the businessman and Lou were both in the middle of a silent piety, a long slow inhale, a moment’s lapse in a wild symphony. Then Lou pulled off to the side of the road and said good-bye to the businessman. 

“But La Salle isn’t for another two blocks,” the businessman said.

“Walk it,” Lou said, spitting into a styrofoam cup and missing. He smiled at the businessman. His open lips showed maybe eight or nine rotting teeth. 

The businessman nodded and got out, briefcase in tow. He walked off towards La Salle, rejuvenated by the little clue the world had given to him, the little seed of life he had reaped from the fields of circumstance.

Submitted by manypetaledlotus

(Source: inspiredbylit)

Night Wanderer

The crisp, cool night air wakes up the great lion as it breezes through his majestic mane. Aslan looks up to the clear and cloudless night sky where the stars reign. His friends are up there, but they are hard to see. Although the lighted campus brings safety, it also pollutes the night sky, hiding the brilliance of the stars’ light. Sadly, sometimes, even the best intentions can block what’s true.

Yearning to fully gaze upon the stars, Aslan stretches from his slumber and jumps through the windowsill onto the plush grass below. Strolling through the university’s campus, the majestic beast revels in the solitude that comes from the hours just before sunrise. He finds a lonesome soccer ball and plays with it for a while, tumbling and wrestling with his prey. Victorious, the champion hunter leaves the deflated kill and continues on his mission to see the heavenly hosts.

The gurgling sound of the fountain is pleasant to the untamed creature’s ears as it tones out the sounds of cars, factories and a passing train. This is his favorite spot, a garden laden with flowers blooming in this tiny utopian corner. Aslan walks up to the fountain and sits on the ledge to drink the cool, clear water. Then, he looks straight up at the stars. He misses them and once being able to walk among the stars. He knows them all, by name, and silently greets them, admiring their beauty. Yet although Aslan wishes to be with them, he knows that he must stay here for the time being. He is needed.

Yawning, Aslan sees that the sun will be coming up to greet the world soon and wordlessly says goodbye to his old friends. The lion begins to make his way back into room 206. Ambling back through campus, Aslan happens upon a poor college student walking home for a few hours of precious sleep. The young man stares at Aslan from across the street, enraptured by the great lion’s size and magnificence. The student’s eyes connect with Aslan’s and in that moment, the boy experiences peace and a trembling fear of being near something so great. But then, he realizes that he is staring at a lion in the middle of campus and shakes his head, muttering that he really needs to stop drinking so much coffee late at night. As he walks off, Aslan watches him go. Sometimes people can’t even believe what their eyes are seeing.

As the night wanderer goes back into small apartment room, he gazes back up at the sky. The quiet pale streaks of the sunrise have already overpowered the light of the stars but Aslan can still see a lone faint star clinging to the night. As the sun gets brighter, Aslan says one final goodbye to the star until the next night and curls up for his sleep till his next adventure.

Submitted by adventureswithpookie