Witch – Christine Ray

the god-fearing men
who wish to tie us
to stakes
sew lions on their standards
to give them courage
play at soldier
like little boys
carrying pointy sticks
and bibles
in their self-righteous hands
hypocrites
who lust for the maiden
revere the mother
deathly fear the crone
we are all faces
of the triple goddess
we worship her
by the light of the moon
we are the witches
the keepers of wisdom
who pass down the lore
of our foremothers
we remember
and honor
the magic in the earth
the power in our blood
granddaughters
of the women
your grandfathers
could not burn

© 2019 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved

Inspired by Tish Thawer’s Quote: ‘We are the granddaughters of the witches they weren’t able to burn.’

Somebody – by HLR

Stumbling out of the pub last night we heard the helicopter before we saw it. “Air ambulance,” he said. “Trouble in someone’s home tonight,” I replied.

Then, first thing this morning, the news:
A few doors down from the house where I grew up.
Mass brawl turned into knife fight.
3 men stabbed.
2 in hospital.
1 dead.

The street where I learned to ride a bike,
where I used to play football
with the other neighbourhood kids,
where I used to climb the trees,
where I had my first kiss
is now a crime scene.

Murder inquiry. Police cordons. Forensic tents.
The street that held so many innocent
childhood memories now runs red
with the blood of three young men.

Immediately, panic. “Please God, let it not be somebody I know.” Panic, panic, panic, thinking of the people I know who live around there who would likely be involved in such a thing. There are many names running through my mind, too many. But no confirmed names. So we all keep praying: please please please don’t be someone I know.

Text to my brother: are you alive???

The rumour mill starts up. Gossip. Nosy neighbours. Twatter. Somebody who knows someone who knows someone that was or was not there or was nearby or heard something or spoke to a copper or knows a guy that knows another guy who heard something somewhere from somebody.

Text from my brother: yah just seen the news. way too close to home man

The story changes every 2 minutes. “Foreigners.” “Domestic incident.” “Polish.” “GMG.” “Drug dispute.” “Blacks.” Whole human lives and a world of misery reduced to a word or two. Still we wait for names and pray to a God that clearly isn’t here.

Text from B: Very sad. house has been taped off back garden has blood everywhere waiting for the forensic people to come out let you know if I find out anything

Text from J: Fukin terrible mate. Streets aint safe anywhere anymore. Waitin on names to come out hopefully not anyone we know

Text from M: omg do we know them? jesus this horrendous !!! RIP.

Text from D: Just heard on radio, bloody hell. It wasn’t outside the pub was it? x

Text from S: ive herd 10 diffrent stories! better not be anyone we fukin kno xxx

Text from F: Sad news about our street. What is wrong with the world 😥 Hope you’re keeping well babe, must meet soon, it’s been aaages! ❤

Then, news from a reliable source. “Not from round here.” “No one we know.” “Not one of ours.” Relief. Sick relief. Cruel relief. Shameful relief. Inappropriate relief. Insensitive relief. Somebody died last night but not someone we know. Thank you, God. Shameful relief, but relief nonetheless.

Then, anger. Somebody died last night. What the fuck are we going to do about this? How do we stop this? Where are the police? Where is Sadiq Khan? What on earth are politicians doing about this? When are judges going to start giving hard sentences? When are prisons going to become less like hotels and more like hell? How many more people have to die before something changes? When will this stop?

I fear that knife crime in London
will only cease to be a problem
once everybody has been
stabbed to death.

The heavens have opened over north London.
The rain has come to wash the blood away.
Another day, another slain by a blade.
The forecast for tomorrow: more of the same.

HLR is a 20-something writer of creative non-fiction, mainly short prose and poetry. She writes about challenging subjects such as mental illness, addiction, suicide and grief with an injection of sardonic British droll—a style acquired through years of mental angst and too much time spent in the pub. Perpetually on the verge of either a breakdown or a breakthrough (sometimes both) HLR was born and raised in north London, and is yet to escape. A list of previous publications can be found here.

Find more of HLR’s fabulous and powerful writing here on her webpage and with the writing collective Hijacked Amygdala  here

The border and the line – Candice Louisa Daquin

There are two people who live in my house

One hates the other

When she gets dressed she seathes with irrational rage

Undo good intentions, break promises, bury the light

Her reflection is an anathema

She didn’t ask to be

Born on a frigid wheel

Where half her life she is dunked in freezing water unable to breathe

And the other half sees the sun but knows she is soon to drown

Following the cycles of the moon like a lightning struck tree

Is hollow without its ghosts

They could be twins, she and me, but for the discrepancy

One is stable and reliable almost predictable

She can sit still too long, she can behave, she is smooth like a lucky pearl

The other doesn’t know what she’ll wake up as

Will it be full of a desire to hide from every living soul

Or flay herself

Or make love to her rage

Or sit quietly screaming picking at her scabs?

Will she try hard to “do what normals do” before floundering

And exposing

One by one

The unstitched hem of her irrationality and flounder

See, she knows it

The border and the line

Love and hate

Nice and fearsome

Just as she knows her eyes see too deep

Underneath the social lie

The polite surface

Where faux people demand to be trusted

And she’s never going to

One day pretend, the next day damned

Her mercury is poison only to those with expectation

She’d like to be stable but her emotions are daggers

They pierce at random

Paranoia, truth, paranoia, truth

Unfortunately she’s usually correct in her assessment

Of people and their shuffling tokenism

So burn brightly babies

You won’t eat her ashes tonight

She protects the girl who has a ragged heart

From further harm

She can’t ever be relied upon

She’s a convulsing spirit with no arm bands she can’t float

And it’s a lucky thing really

Since you seek to shatter her doupleganger

The last defense

Is usually your own

And I understand the broken

As they intuitively seek me

We eat our dinner together

Over broken conversation

And a shared silence where we need

No words to explain

Why children inherit

The mixture of right and wrong

Frayed souls, torn people

Pulled in two directions

First by others, then themselves

Carrying on the song

Of solid and insubstantial

You can destroy a person

And their pieces will reform

But they won’t be who they were meant to be

One watches the other

Wishing they could be reliable

And every day we wake

Unsure if we’ll want to live or self harm

The cut off a knife from your own hands

The stranger in the mirror when you look closely

At why you can’t act normal

And fit in with the world

One day pretend, the next day damned

Tribe – Candice Louisa Daquin

Hold still

it won’t hurt

and if it does

then it’s your fault anyway

you’re lucky to be getting anything

if it were up to me, I would leave you where they found you

hunched in a mess of splayed arms and legs, barely moving

you must have asked for it somehow

they all do

Hold still

it will hurt

because for ages women have sought

to repair their broken parts, find a way to piece together

those patches of their souls

only to be berated and shamed

hobbled, judged, vilified

burnt a second time with stronger brand

what is it within humanity, wants to further damage?

the survivor

hold on

it shouldn’t hurt

we are creatures of the fall, we are not fallen, we are good

women ride alongside men in equal canter

when one of us is hurt, it hurts us all

love heals the torn soul

in a world that does not exist, I would claim a dream

no violence, no rape, no distortion of events

but that world is far from here

hold on

some of us stand next to you, helping

as you feel you cannot go on

you can

as you feel you are going to give up

you won’t

you are a woman of us all

you share our strength

we form a circle together and hold hands

there is no damnation if you refuse permission to damn

there is only the power of sisterhood

hold on to your tribe

the only shame is when we don’t stand

together

 

For the unjust – Candice Louisa Daquin

No

the meek did not inherit the earth

the unjust did

they built towers, tore down land, put up artifices

to their glories

giant gnashing flesh consuming machines they were

so long absented from Eden, Hades, Siddhartha, Zarathustra or Paris, TX

they no longer knew what was cruel cruel CRUEL

she knew, as she placed carefully and with some delicacy

her head in the proverbial lions jaw

she smelt salivation, a drunken lust to abhor

even as she stood her ground, smiled, did not give an inch

felt the carpet of the world being pulled UN-magically

with the wormy writhe of tongues imbibed on sarcasm’s quill

addicted to stabbing in the back, anything not approximating themselves

for the unjust then

it is enough to say

I know you

when I published my first poem, you

wrote your friend; ‘she thinks she’s something special but she’s trash’

I asked you to your face

why did you say this? In the same breath turn to me and smile?

I would rather you told me point-blank

the barrel of a gun is more honest than a knife behind your back

had you told me what you really thought of me I would have said

that is your prerogative

your opinion, you can share it when I am gone

but don’t pretend to like me at the same time

do not kid yourself into believing you are splendid

for the unjust

may play that sick lyre of spite

one moment hold you up, while planing your defeat

I have had so many times, this cold feeling in my gut

now it is part of who I am, to mistrust

when you have taken that, I have nothing left to lose

shock me once, shame on you, shock me twice, shame on me

you were embarrassed, outraged to be caught

I felt no need to forgive what you did not believe was wrong

no the meek did not inherit the earth

the unjust did

I see clearer than before

when object to pinch and humiliate

it was once said, they cannot hurt you if you do not care

but I care

for no truth will be spoken without risk

so I risk

in speaking I know there is much desire to stifle and shame

though I have never understood why some find it necessary

for the unjust then

you rule this thin world

I am just a voice

if I could vanish perhaps I would

but then you’d have gotten what you wanted

so I persist