Autumn & I

I welcome Autumn
as she drapes me
in a blanket of bronze and straw-gold
whispering seductive sweet promises of
late lavender sunrises
and delicious red sunsets
she mentions velvet night-skies flecked with tiny diamonds
and an occasional silent symphony by the Northern Lights
even the rain softens under her presence
guiding acorns to ground
while winged sycamores float safely down
and when the wind wraps itself around her
it whistles happily
carrying her scent of blackberry and pear
feeding my nostalgia of years gone by
everything about Autumn is chaos
everything about Autumn is just so
I long for her and her embrace to return
by the time Winter shakes my hand
with his icy fingers.

Thanks for taking the time to read this poem , I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to leave any comments you may like.

Take It Easy,

Paul

BIG NEWS!!!

Hi everyone, I would like to share some big news.

A few weeks ago, I was asked by the amazingly talented poet Damien B. Donnelly, who also runs Eat the Storms poetry podcast to join him to read some of my poems on his show.
Finally, I was able to free up some time and join him on the podcast (making my podcast debut, no less!) and the episode came out on Saturday October 9th at 5pm GMT. (I have just finished listening to the podcast thats why this is coming out at just after 6pm!)

The episode is Season 3, ep 14 and there are some incredible poets reading some outstanding work. You can listen on Spotify and most other podcast platforms. Why not get stuck into all the previous episodes as well?!

The Eat The Storms website can be found here: https://eatthestorms.com/

A direct link to the episode featuring me is here: https://open.spotify.com/show/0mOECCAcx0kMXg25S0aywi

Thanks for reading and hopefully listening,

Paul 🙂

Reincarnate

The last of the dahlias
were picked last week
ruby red, imperial, majestic
they ruled the garden
so to let them drown
in the relentless October rain
would have been be sacrilege
instead we slipped them into a glass-vase coma
keeping them alive
until scarlet turned to rust
and petals slipped away
and we were ready to say our farewells

softened stems were carried
and placed among the compost pile
so memories of their life
can grow a new family of flora
and their majesty return.

———

Thanks for taking the time to read my poem. Please feel free to have a look around my site for more of my work.

Take It Easy

Paul

Ricard’s Fall

His midnight-blue suit was sharp and shoes were polished. He flipped his lucky coin. Heads. He felt good. To the casino it was.

He walked outside into the winter air, blowing rings resembling sleeping dragons. The higher they floated, the more they grew.

The car pulled up. Tonight he was using the Silver Phantom, his favourite, his driver’s favourite. He won it last year in a game of cards. His driver was dumbstruck when he’d handed him the keys.  Ricard, the previous owner, still wasn’t happy about it. Especially as he’d rigged the game and still lost.

The Phantom pulled up to the casino. This wasn’t what he expected tonight. He just wanted to play some dice and speak to some interesting people. Out of the darkened windows Ricard and his crew were standing outside, guns visible and a hungry look in their eyes. He knew the guns were for show only. Ricard and his crew didn’t need weapons to kill. He flipped his lucky coin and caught it on the back of his hand. After three taps it sunk into his skin. He opened a compartment in the armrest, pulled out a silver sabre and silver rope, got out and slapped the car to leave. 

He breathed three rings out into the cold air touching each one. They floated higher, changing colour in the reflection of the casino lights, then disappeared. He smiled and said “I don’t want any trouble. Why don’t you and your pals just put your weapons down. It’s the only way you’re gonna live”.

“You against us? You don’t even know what we’re capable of”. Ricard replied, baring his teeth and long reptilian tongue.

“Oh I know exactly what you and your followers are. A bunch of cheats and sore losers. Look, let’s be as civilised as possible. I’ll count to three. After that I’ll have to draw my sword. I really don’t want to ruin my suit and shoes. One,” he said.

“Brave words for one man against twelve of us.” Ricard loved an audience.

“Do you want to call more men, I still fancy my odds. Let’s make it interesting? You can have a hundred if you want, that’s two by the way,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Who the fuck do you think you are. Nobody threatens me. I’m gonna have fun killing you. Maybe I won’t kill you, maybe I’ll keep you as a slave.” Ricard snarled, he hated losing face.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you. That’s three!

He drew the sabre and whispered something in a dead language. Two of Ricard’s guys rushed him, teeth bared, fists clenched, salivating. He sliced through the air. Their bodies were no more, disintegrating immediately into the ether. He took his handkerchief from the suit and wiped the sabre. 

Five more stood on the casino steps in a crescent formation. They leapt. The rope in his right hand slackened. He raised his arms, cutting the air like a circular saw, every circle expanding. He watched four of the five explode when the moonlit-silver rope made contact. He smiled to himself. Ricard was shaking with rage.

The earth gave a tiny ripple as the fifth of the pack landed behind him. He let him approach. Clenching his fist, he pirouetted and threw a right hand, catching Ricard’s footsoldier clean on the jaw so he dropped to his knees. Lightning fast, he followed through with the sabre again and took his head clean off. There was no blood because they were already dead. His suit was still sharp but there was a scuff on his shoe. He cleaned  it with the handkerchief in the breast pocket.

“Ricard. Let’s stop this. You can leave. Take your minions with you.” he said calmly. A few people were watching them now. He gave them all a wave and a smile. They turned away walking inside the casino.  Ricard was mouthing instructions to the last of his men and stepped forward. In an instant they vanished from the steps and he found himself surrounded.

“Your luck’s eventually run out. Who even are you? I could make good use of your skills. Join us. I’ll give you eternal life. I’ll give you this casino. I’ll give you all my casinos.” Ricard still seemed confident. Replying evenly to Ricard and the last of the group around him, he said,“You must be scared or stupid or both to be trying to bargain with me.”

“Not scared, just intrigued. I think I’ll enslave you after all”, Ricard smirked.

Just as Ricard had said that, there was a change in the air. Warmth just above them. Five dragons the colour of the night, the colour of dazzling neon lights,  the colour of the moon, swooped down like mist on the wind grabbing Ricard’s gang, tearing them apart, then engulfing them in flames. 

He watched Ricard’s face. Saw his mind racing.  He felt the back of his palm again. Pulled out the coin and flipped it. Heads. A little smile. He saw Ricard’s expression change to panic, because he didn’t understand what it meant. He knelt down placing the sabre and rope in front of him. Ricard flinched and anger flashed behind his dark eyes.

“How long have you been around Ricard?” he asked.

“Long enough to know I’m not going to die. You’re too weak to take me on” Ricard replied.

“But you’re already dead aren’t you. Why don’t you show your real form Ricard? It’ll probably make you a little stronger, won’t it?” he asked.

Ricard smirked. “I’m dead, yes. As for my form, this is my real form now. I made a deal a long time ago to make sure I’d always be the strongest I can be in this form.”

“So you’re at full strength? Tell me then how long you’ve been wandering the world, building wealth? Were you a greedy man when you were alive Ricard? Is Ricard your real name?

“Yes, I’m at full strength, don’t you believe me? My name, I forgot my birth name a couple of centuries ago. I’ve been here since the English came to the Americas. I sailed on the first ship. My ship. They were all my ships back then. All the people belonged to me as well. Then freedom happened.” Ricard spat the words out.  

“The thing you made the deal with, what did it take in return? For you to keep your wealth, make more and make sure people would always belong to you or serve you?” he asked. “You’re very knowledgeable about my history. I suspect you’re the same as me. A creature of darkness, yes? All I had to do was kill a pagan on each full moon. In pitch black. It was easy.” Ricard was arrogant again. When Ricard had tried to cheat him out of the Phantom, he had the same tone.

“You will pay for your crimes.” His voice was getting louder.

“Not today I won’t.” Ricard hissed then vanished, appearing for a split second, dust rising from the earth, a couple of specks hitting his dinner jacket. He’d stolen the sabre. A scream echoed through the wind and Ricard reappeared, on his knees, his hands on fire.

He picked up his rope, it was shifting between glimmer and shine. He straightened it through his palms, transforming it into a spear. He struck it in the ground then removed his jacket and waistcoat and hung them on it. He did the same with his shirt and tie. His eyes were fixed on Ricard. He put his hands in his pockets. “Ricard, it’s time”. The wind carried his whisper, extinguishing the flames that were once Ricard’s hands. 

Pulling out the coin, he flipped it and let it fall to the floor. A great light enveloped them. Horns grew from his head and down his back ending at his waist. Black and white wings expanded from his body. Finally, his hair grew down his back, a shimmering haunting silver. He held a giant glowing longsword. “Ricard, you asked if I was a creature of the dark? I am so much more. The darkness cannot truly exist because of me. Some know me as Tsukoyomi, others as Khonsu or even Máni. I am the Moon God. STAND UP AND FACE ME!” His voice boomed inside the light, it was everywhere at once, in every language, known and forgotten. He watched Ricard stand up, his eyes were hollow with jet black smoke snaking through each one. He spoke the dead language again. “For the slaves, for your greed, for the suffering you have caused, and for all those you have cheated of life, I JUDGE YOU UNWORTHY OF EXISTING ANYWHERE UNDER THE SEVEN SACRED SKIES AGAIN. With one quick nudge of his arm he, the sword sliced through Rickard top to bottom and he was gone. A black cloud expanded trying to escape the light from the sword’s blade. Khonsu released a sliver of silver and sapphire lightning. It covered the smoke, swallowing it up. Nothing remained of Ricard, but Khonsu wondered which God provoked him.

Returning to human form, he flipped the coin again. Heads. He walked into the casino. He wanted to listen to some stories and throw a couple of dice. 


Thanks for taking the time to read this short story. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know in the comments. Khonsu will return…

Take It Easy

Paul

Welcoming Back The Wild Things

I stopped watching the news
after the third week of decimating death
and morbid press briefings
it had become statistically gratuitous

instead, I watched
the playing fields
opposite the front door
start to overgrow
welcoming back the wild things –

discarded council lawns
no longer littered by
kids from the secondary school
and couples walking their dogs –

I observed the radiant whimsy
in a family of deer
frivolous in the pre-dawn haze
dancing among the tall grass
rose-gold fur in soft focus

impressive were the foxes
drifting around the wildflower verges
almost hidden in the dusky milk-light
gorging on the rodents
next-doors cat couldn’t catch

I chuckled at
lopping chestnut-hares darting
among the hedgerow
scaring the bullfinches
from the
rosehips and brambles

until now
I never really appreciated
the nurturing noises of nature
notably the cresting and chirruping birdsong
against the percussive branches
of council-planted beech trees

ever since opening the door
to the nurture of nature

– life feels gratuitous.

Thanks for taking the time to read this poem, written about something positive that happened during the peak of Corona in the UK. I hope you enjoyed. As always,feel free to leave a comment I love reading and replying.

Have A Great Day,

Paul

The Stranger

The New York night was bleak, cold and solemn. Even the moon concealed itself in the comfort of clouds so it would not bear witness of what was to come. Tonight, death felt inevitable.

Carter Samson’s stomach rumbled as he got out of the elevator at basement level. His senses took ten seconds  to adjust as he stepped out of the soft lighting and droning muzac into the pitch darkness of the subterranean garage. Clumsily, he pulled out his keys and used the mini torch on his keychain to light the path to his car, clicking the remote central locking. He climbed in, started the engine, then felt the firm crush of steel on the back of his shaved scalp. He checked his mirror and stared into the eyes of a face he didn’t recognise. 

‘Where did you hide the bodies Carter?’ the Stranger asked calmly, in a thick Russian accent.

‘W-w-w-what do you mean? I think you have me mixed up with someone else’ he snivelled.

‘Carter Samson, or should I say Cesar Samsonivich you’re not going to get away with murder any more, I know who you are and what you’ve done. This is the last time I ask, where did you hide the bodies?’

The worry on Carter’s transformed to a wide grin, a gold tooth glinting in the mirror’s reflection. ‘I didn’t hide the bodies, Comrade, I feasted on most of them and fed some to my wolves back in Saint Petersburg, well my Russian delicacies anyway. I am the embodiment of the demon, Bauk and tonight I will feast on you. It has been a while since I’ve tasted a Russian eyeball and heart. and I am hungry’

‘Oh, tonight you will only be tasting justice for the lives you’ve taken, zasranec. Turn off the engine. Now’, the Stranger replied angrily.

‘You can’t kill me here, there is security all around, you will never get away. Mmm, I  can smell the doubt on you now. A pity. It sometimes gives flesh a sour note. Maybe your blood will be sweet, though, we’ll see’ Cesar said matter-of-factly.

‘You talk of security, Comrade, but I got in here unnoticed. Very easily. I have no doubt I will be ending you tonight. So tell me, how many have you killed in total? I know of forty-seven in the Motherland and thirty-five in Finland, and for the last time turn the fucking engine off, ’ the Stranger demanded.

‘You are quite the investigator, aren’t you. Okay I’ll play along. You’re right about Russia and Finland, very tasty morsels there. Especially that young couple from Lieksa, they were pure, saving themselves for marriage. I gave them a taste of each other before they died, it seemed fair but they didn’t want to taste each other so maybe their marriage would have failed. There were only ten in England, I wasn’t there long. Then two here in America. The Americans taste of processed foods. My palate is more  refined, I can keep you alive while I gorge on you and tell you how you taste if you wish?’ Cesar replied with a maniacal look in his eyes, his lips being soaked by his meaty tongue.

Seeing the disgust in the Stranger’s eyes, Cesar used this as a distraction and pressed his foot down hard on the accelerator then braked. He no longer felt the gun on him. He turned his head, hoping to see the Stranger crumpled and disoriented in the back seat but his hope immediately turned to horror. The gun’s chamber met his eye and he felt the faintest glimmer of heat on his eyeball a millisecond before the bullet killed him.

The Stranger climbed through to the passenger seat and turned off the engine. He pulled a small axe from the back seat. It had nearly ripped him open when Cesar had tried to knock him off balance but now he was meticulously hacking through flesh, sinew and bone. He started with the head, it always took the longest time and the Stranger wanted to get this done as quickly as possible. Once the head was detached, the hands, feet, arms and legs quickly followed. It was a tight space to cut up a dead body and somewhat impractical but the Stranger had worked in tighter spaces before this. He knew once the remains were bagged up, there would be much more space. 

The Stranger drove Cesar Samsonivich’s car to the Russian embassy. He wasn’t worried about being caught; the tech team knew how to get the Motherland’s preferred candidate into The White House, so making a car disappear from traffic cameras would be easy. When he pulled into the gates, a man he recognised as Ilya took the keys and drove it to the hidden workshops where there was a team ready to change the car’s silver colour to something darker and remove the New York State license plates. The Stranger knew the plan; the car would be sent to Russia by plane tomorrow with the bags of Carter’s body laid out on the leather interior and be used in a propaganda campaign to arrest some foreign nationals the FSB had identified as terror cells. Some information would be leaked. The State media always needed fed and dead bodies and terror cells always kept them full for a few days. 

The night felt cold and pure as he walked through the embassy gardens toward the rear door. The guards on duty saw him approach and waved. The youngest asked him for his identification even though they had sat together at the breakfast table earlier that day. He appreciated the normality after killing that piece of scum. The Stranger looked up watching the breath escape his mouth. He caught a glimpse of the moon peering out from behind a cloud seemingly happy at what was going on underneath it as it grew brighter. He opened the embassy door and let the rest of the night swallow him up.

Thanks for taking the time to read this short story about The Stranger. I may do a crossover with the main character in this and Killing Time in NYC. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Take it Easy,

Paul

The Shows

We called the travelling funfair
“The Shows”
the same way our parents did
when they arrived in The Wick
late summer excitement
that smelled of hot sugared doughnuts, flowing diesel and damp trampled grass
the air was always a kaleidoscope
of flickering lightbulbs and brightly painted plywood
shrill screams of exhiliration could be heard over a mile away
layered over a techno soundtrack
thumping with the pulses of waltzer-spun teens
and kids riding the ghost train anticipating the supersoaker squirt on exit
sometimes I liked to play the bandits
tuppence to ten-pence a go
so nothing to lose really
the games were good to –
one night I hooked six banana-yellow ducks
and walked home with six goldfish
struggling to hold the punch balloon and pink-pillow candy floss in my other hand
it was a great time to be alive
amongst crowded smiles and double denim
spending my paper round and pocket money like fun was going out of fashion
and just the other day
I saw an internet flyer
“The Shows” are back this year
travelling up and down the coast
and although I’ll not see them
I can taste the air –

the flavour of excitement.

Thanks for taking the time to read my poem and feel free to check out some of my other writing.

Take It Easy,

Paul

Birdsong

Instead of sleep
in the early hours
I sit and listen to the
siren song of the starlings and finches
at four am
they gather on the dew-kissed fencetops
when the delicate new day
is climbing from grey earth
to sherbet-pink sky
and I wonder what’s to come
in the next 19 hours
before my head hits the pillow
because – although most days are the same –
like the dawn chorus
everyday is different.

Thanks for taking the time to read my poem. If you want to read more, please explore the site.

Take it Easy

Paul

That Shirt

that thick cotton shirt
shade of  deep midnight
with moon-silver thread 
glistening ethereal under streetlights
wearing it
felt celestial
so I only wore it once
for our first date
drinks and pizza
looking at each other
over red gingham cloth
and flickering candle
wax dripping down
an empty bottle
of last week’s
house wine
conversation mostly answers
to silent questions
asked with eyes
and the curve of
nervous lips
I tried to be a gentleman
and pull out your chair
as we were leaving
the waiter saw it as an affront
for which I apologised
to show I was a gentleman
and when we hugged goodbye
I felt our cheeks touch
both warm with wine
and affection
so when I see
the same shirt
folded neatly in your drawer
close to the memory box
and wedding album
I catch a glimmer from
the moon-silver thread 
that helped stitch
our lives together
I believe in magic.

Thanks for taking the time to read this poem, dedicated to my beautiful wife.

Take it Easy,

Paul