25 September, 2010


A war zone is not a safe place, yet when the fireflies come out in the evening during the still of battle, there is a sense of peace. Momentary, but still there. Like soldiers in the forefront of battle, their lives last but a while and in a night, may be no more.

In a rough skewed movement, small things may break. The subsequent consequences may be dramatic. In retirement, one forgetful moment can lead to a fire storm. So much for 'experience comes with age'. It doesn't help when one returns to live in the past and does not realise their presence.

A forgotten pin. A lost cap. A missing manual. A dropped canteen.

Hail the replacement of the fallen! The brave who take the most dangerous of positions! Hail the reinforcements! They strengthen the weary hands; their coming opens the bleary eyes and brings hope to the failing heart. With them comes a breeze of newness, smells of fresh uniforms, the sparkle of life outside the booming dust and bloody bodies. But soon, too soon, they too become like the others on the front. Dull eyed, heavy hearted, aching, afraid and yet determined to do their duty. The lights of cigarette butts dot the coming night and the smell of smoke brings little comfort to the looming spectre of death. Mud finds its way into the itchiest of places and small insects burrow and bite. Wet, sog, must.

How is it that they say war is a glorious thing? The adventure of a life time? The dreams that follow. The memories that grow in strength and haunt every hour, waking or sleeping - for the rest of their lives. Brokenness, sadness, anger, pain. Relived over and over and over. Does it ever end?

An ant trundles stolidly, toiling though its work is futile. A mouse licks at the rainwater that has collected in a deep boot print. Behind the front, there is a plum tree in full bloom, its white petals making look like fairy floss on a stick from afar. Food that satisfies the belly, sufficient warmth for the night. A fire to cheer the lonely soul, thinking and dreaming of home.

It's the little things in life. What you do with it. Observe carefully. Look around you. All is death and yet there is life. All is broken and yet there is return.

For what purpose is revenge? Will the death of another man relieve the grief of the deceased's parents? Will it bring him back to life? Surely it will bring with it a never-ending cycle of strife; where to avenge one, another must avenge him. One dies. Another is killed. Yet another murdered and some are slaughtered. Is there a difference?

Yet there are times and there are times. Sometimes in standing firm, one person's lack of control can bring everything to chaos. Sometimes, when standing firm, one must fight. To the death. To protect what is held most dear or risk losing all.

In the end we are the fireflies. All fall, all die... but at least those still living have been given a chance at life. A gift. A present like no other present. What will you do with yours?

16 September, 2010


To whit, to whom shall the first and foremost fly?
Which lair, which share shall the last and rearguard try?

It started thus on an airtight day, during the new moon of a brisk and chirpy night. Two goggled men stood posed to fight, by the dolphin fountain in the day's half-light. On the parkbench sat she, a severe face with equally well-controlled expression. At present, it wore the mask that stated boredom.

"Well?" she called, her voice piercing the night breeze and killing it, like a butterfly pinned to a board. "What are you waiting for?"

One of the men relaxed and turned to speak, his expression shouting his reluctance and yet admission that he was royally screwed. But as he opened his mouth, the other man took the opportunity and lunged like a slavering dog. A squeak. A dull thump and a crack as the head bounced on the concrete. Once. Twice. Then rested.

"Finally," the woman rolled her eyes and flicked a finger at the victor. "Go finish the job and this time, don't mess up."

The man bowed, removing the goggles that blurred his vision and hurried away, shoulders sagging. What would his mother say when she found out what he had done to his brother? Away flew the goggles into the vacant air.

Snorting in disgust, the woman shook a droplet of silver liquid from a glass bottle onto the body. Then checking her jewelled watch by the light of a yellow streetlamp, strode in the opposite direction to which the man had gone, heels clicking out a rhythm. Fa-tal, fa-tal.

A wisp of smoke arose from where the silver liquid rested upon the flannel shirt of the deceased. A crackle. A flicker of flame. Ka-whoosh and the body burst into flames, the fire reaching up higher and higher into the sky, singeing the lower branches of the nearby plum blossom tree.

All good citizens remained indoors. The curfew was there for a reason and no man in his right mind went out or even looked out the window at this time of the night - or was it day? One could never tell exactly which it was. Only the regulated clocks told them when to rise for the 'day' and when to rest for the 'night'. As such, the barbecue went unnoticed. People just thought it was their neighbours burning dinner again.

A lizard crawled out from beneath a nearby bush to bask in the glow of the unexpected fire. Fizzles and pops of spitting fat made it scuttle back undercover. Warmth at the price of being cooked was not worth the trouble. Just as suddenly as the bonfire had started did it die down, leaving a patch of scorched concrete and greasy flakes fluttering in the breeze that had resumed its course the moment the lady had left.

"Where?" demanded the constable, irritated that he hadn't yet had the chance to down his extra strong cup of black coffee. No sugar.

"Here. Right here where the blackened ground is, sir," hunched shoulders and lank hair wished they were back under their bed covers.


"Preliminary reports state that there was a potential cremation of a body here last night."


"The locals wish to know whether you will investigate," the overgrown boy-man tried to hide deeper within the collar of his coat.

"No point. Just add the case to the pile already on the desk. We wouldn't find anything," the constable was already striding back to his car, wanting to get out from beneath the almost empty sky as soon as possible. Who knew when it would fall on his balding head? This secret fear was alleviated by earnest stretching of his legs to take up as much ground as they could with each step. He was a tough man. A busy man. Everyone knew that.

"As you wish, sir," the boy-man clicked a few more photographs of the area, knowing he'd been dismissed. Might as well process the scene properly, just in case anybody ever bothered to come back to this case. A glimmer caught his eye.

Flicking the torch light clipped to his belt, he knelt beside the rosemary for a closer look. Goggles? Using a glove, so as not to get his own fingerprints on the potential piece of evidence, he carefully shook it into an evidence bag. The boss would want to get a close look at it.


This has been sitting around as a draft for a while, so I thought I'd better finish it.

aggravate, aggravate!
listen to the swish as the rumble draws nearer.
if you look down, you will see the leafy tops of trees
looking up, find roots waving in the air.

aggravate, aggravate!
hear your neighbours leg a-shaking to a rhythm only he can hear.
the floor trembles like an earthquake
the chairs jump and skitter like 'fraidy cats
and the tables frisk like newborn lambs.

aggravate, aggravate!
listen to the hairs marching in time with the retreating trumpet.
exposed scalp shines like the lightbulb in the night
and people shake their heads sadly.

aggravate, aggravate!
listen to the wordstream rushing like the river rapids.
hard to stop
hard to pinpoint
hard to slow down
hard to replicate.

aggravate, aggravate!
listen to the scream of the inner man.
he stands at the windows, staring at the world.
he disagrees and yet agrees
and cannot fathom depth.