Moonchild - have you heard the Moonbird's song calling where the moonstreams trickle down the pearly mountains white, plunging down steep cataractsto fields of pulsing star-lit night?
Once I heard the Moonbird's song calling from a crystal Keep carved of fluid glaciers, finely fluted, high and steep.
Clear across a mercury crater came the notes of its strange tune - a thousand leaques of space and ether on some other, dream-scried Moon.
Moonchild - in your eyes I sometimes glimpse worlds no longer joined to Earth though dreamers sometimes travel there on wings of thought or in fantastic boats of glass spun by master-craftsmen in remote harbours known only to a few.
Moonchild, Moonchild - are such visions true?
Yes, I have heard the Moonbird's song, singing of great beauty and doom, in twilit forests by the sea, in quiet glades beneath pale stars and in the silence of my room... leaning over baby's cot I hear its plangent melody call across grey shadowed waves or walking the dim streets at night I hear it echo from stone graves.
Sometimes sweet, sometimes sad, no earthly music can compere to the song the Moonbird sings perched upon the astral Stair, filling hearts and souls with wonder,releaving the weary of their care.
Rare, beautiful Moonbird come to me again this night...
Where are the Flower-women of Alphonium.
Where are the Flower-women of Alphonium - The fields and meadows are bare of all but stubble where gaunt rasping crows and their shadows stamp for worms and shadow-worms; the song of the forest is still, the bright eyes of mammals closed, bodies curled tight in nests of fallen leaves; Colours have fled the fields and forests and sky: even the mountains have hid themselves behind grey curtains of drizzle and fog.
Where are the Flower-women of Alphonium?
Where are the naiads of the living River - the streams no longer rush down the mountains, past my little house half-way between the Earth and Sky, filling my room with happy gurgling sound, filling my dreams with the love affairs of nymphs and errant beams of moonlight. When I walk to the village to fetch my provisions the lowlands are empty and bare, ringing with the silence of the rushing river's absence; I cross its weary trickle and never wet my feet - no teasing maidens greet me with sly or mocking glances. Where are the naiads of the living River?
Where are the genii that live in the Sun, the trolls of the Hobgoblin Moon? The days are dreary and grey and evenings lacklustre and long. A rat or spinning spider would make an admirable companion in Winter's house of bone. Snow would be welcome, an excellent adventure, but the heavens are miserly with weather, the stars reluctant to shine. Where are the Sons of High Heaven and the Ice-crowned Daughters of Light?
Where are the Flower-women of Alphonium - my heart is bare of all but faded petals and well-trodden dust, its hollow chamber empty even of the faintest of echoes to cause my lips to twitch in the half-ghost of a smile, its thin blood barely warm enough to heat my bones or reach my fingers and toes. Colours have fled the fields and forests and sky, I barely have the energy to dream. Where are the Flower-women of Alphonium?
“You must not pass over in silence the mountains called by the Welsh Eryri, but by the British Snowdon, or the mountains of Snow, which... seem to rear their lofty summits even to the clouds”
Morgana Elfinstone is Queen of mysteries and things unseen - dressed in kirtle stitched with stars, she rules the gardens of men's hearts. From her palace on the Moon she plucks a thousand perfumed tunes from a harp whose strings are light strung upon the frame of Night. Over hills and meadows green, her music drifts in sonorous streams into souls awake or sleeping, into hearts at ease or weeping.
At her touch the greatest schemes of Kings and Princes are halted, empires crumble, beggars are exalted; the orphan born in sorrow's dust is 'throned upon high Heaven's cusp, the iron gates of Purgatory are covered with blossoms of rust. Angels of the Seven Skies deem her terrible and wise; Demons of the Ancient Wastes bow before her hidden face.
Amongst the spirits of the dead I sometimes hear her gentle tread; in woodlands where the unborn wait before the field's of Earth's dim gate Morgana Elfinstone is Queen of mysteries and things unseen. In dreams her handmaidens caress the brows of youths and maidens breasts; they sprinkle childrens sleep with stars from sun-encrusted night-black jars.
On the rosy lawns of Dawn the infants of her joy are born;dew-kissed flowers shew the way on the pathways of the day. The Sun and Moon, at her command, rise and set from her two hands; at her request the wind and rain invigorate the hills and plains. She gathers up the hopes and fears of men and women, their joys and tears, and from the passions of the free she weaves a coloured tapestry.
Gods and Elohim on high perceive her not, nor can descry the subtleties of her Art or read the secrets of her heart. Haloed with the precious jewels of arching rainbows and mountain pools, the gems that sleep within the earth dream of future splendour's birth upon the meadows of her breast where the coloured dreams of poets rest and dreams of men and women fair pass upon the
Hidden Stairs that wind between the Earth and Sky, where truths are born from shallow lies, and ancient needs and ancients musts hold court between the dawn and dusk... Dressed in kirtle stitched with stars Morgana Elfinstone is Queen and in the gardens of men's hearts and sows the flowers of God's Dream.
A child was born on a rubbish tip. Its mother was the shell of an old broken fridge and her father was a rusty old pick up truck. Her name was Mariko-san and she had thick black curly hair, golden-brown skin, eyes like glorious stars and a little mouth like a rose-bud. When she smiled, which was most of the time, her face was a garden of beautiful flowers. When she cried, which was not ery often, little silver tears fell from her eyes and watered the garden of her face. Soon her sorrow would pass and the garden of her smile wouldopen all its petals even wider to the bright yellow son that danced and sparkled on the discarded television sets, the mangled wheels of ancient prams and bicycles, the mountains of cans and bottles and stinking, rotting garbage that was Mariko's home.
Mariko's playmates were other little children who also lived on the rubbish heap, but her best friend was an old black doll with only one leg and one eye missing and a hole in her skull. It wore a dirty old cotten dress with faded pink roses on it and pale greenleaves. Most of its hair was missing. Mariko's dress was allso cotton, just as dirty, but had yellow butterflies little green caterpillars. Mariko would talk to her little black doll for hours on end, tying bits of ragged ribbon to its straggling locks of hair and looking through the rubbish for scraps of cast off cloths and jewelry for it to wear. One day she found a necklace of chipped green glass. It looked very pretty on the little black doll but eventually the string holding the bits of glass together broke, which made Mariko cry. One day a big machine came to the rubbish tip and picked up Mariko's mother and father in its cruel metal claw - it carried them up in the air and dropped them onto a pile of other broken fridges, washing machines, micro-waves, cars, bits of machinery, iron fencing and sheets of twisted metal. Then another machine came and pressed all the pieces of rubbish including Mariko's mother and father into a small metal cube. The noise of screeching metal was terrible and Mariko put her hands over the ears of her dollie so it would not have to listen Many of the other childrens parents were also crushed into small metal cubes and some of them started to cry. Mariko pulled them away from the terrible machines in case they came to crush them too.
Life was very difficult at times. The growing children had to fight the hungry rats and birds for scraps of food, and always they had to be careful of the cruel machines and their terrible claws. New rubbish arrived everyday, and with it new children. Not all of them survived, some were cut by broken glass or cans and their wounds became infected. Some were buried beneath the land slips of rain soaked garbage and filth. Some of the very young were eaten alive by the rats. Naturally the older ones tried to look after the new arrivals as much as possible, and of courser there was always new parents arriving on the big ugly dumpster trucks. But eventually the cranes and crushing machines would come and they would be collected up and compressed into the tiny metal cubes and taken away again to be sold for money. Mariko didn't have any money , but she knew it was essential for the people who lived in the city of steel and glass that shimmered in the distant heat-haze of the horizon. The machines came from the city and one day Mariko knew she must travel there to fulfil her destiny. Of course, Mariko was only a child and knew nothing of "destiny" but she had the feeling in her bones and in her heart, as sure as the King Rat had feelings for the choicest cut of the rubbish and the tenderest piece of garbage. Often at night, Mariko would lie on the rubbish tip and gaze up at the stars. They reminded her of the necklace she had once found for Dollie. On very clear night they stretched from horizon to horizon just like a vast glittering necklace but try as she might Mariko could not make out the face above the neck on which the necklace was hung. "She must be black, just like my Dollie," thought Mariko. Mariko wondered what would happen if the string on the necklace of stars were to break and they came tumbling down to earth. Perhaps it would be like rain. The rain was very pretty but it was very dangerous. When the sky cried, the rubbish tips became a shifting unstable place of slime and mobile filth into which the careless child might easily sink and never be seen again. Curiously, there never seemed to be many stars over the city: instead a cloud of orange haze settled over it at night, an orange haze full of strange glittering and winking lights that burned in the tall thin buildings that seemed to scrape the belly of the sky. Maybe that was why the sky was orange, maybe it is the blood of the sky where the buildings of steel and glass are cutting it, thought Mariko. They were a bit like the millions of broken cans and bottles that littered the rubbish tip, thought Mariko, although she knew in reality that they were very tall and thousands of people lived in them. But because they were far away they looked quite small. Perhaps a broken coke bottle looked very big to an ant, she reflected.
When Mariko was twelve years old she finally left the rubbish tip and hitched a ride for the city of towers that sparkled in the sunlight, climbing surreptitiously onto the endless trucks that ferried fresh garbage to the tip and took back the compressed cubes of recycled metal. Dollie had long since merged into the underlying layer of gelatinous black ooze upon which the entire mountain of the rubbish heap rested, but Mariko still remembered her with affection and sometimes she would dream of her.
The city was full of hectic noise and light. Cars and buses and trucks raced like giant rats through the endless corridors of interesting streets as hordes of well-fed but dull faced people scurried along the sidewalks trying to avoid them. At various intervals along the pavement there were metal poles with different coloured lights on them. When these lights showed red the cars and buses and trucks would stop for a short while and people would scurry nervously across the road whilst the impatient traffic snailed and growled at them. At first Mariko found it very frightening but eventually she got used to it. Sometimes somebody would try to cross the road whilst the lights were showing green or amber and the cars would growl furiously and run after them. Mariko saw several people killed this way and wondered why they did it, it made her think of Dollie and her broken skull. Sometimes a rogue vehicle would refuse to stop at a red light and leap at the people hurrying across. Occasionally one would go beserk and mount the pavement itself, crushing people just like the machines at the tip would crush the broken washing machines and fridges. Mariko wondered what happened to the bodies of the people who were knocked over and broken by the cars like this, after the ambulances with the flashing lights and whooping screams came and took them away. Were they too compressed into tiny cubes and sold as scrap?
When Mariko was fourteen she fell in love with a strange boy with spikey hair and a surgically implanted Walkman. He came from another big tip on the opposite side of the city. When he wasn't listening to his Walkman he broke into cars and sold the things he found in order to buy heroin and crack. His arms and legs had lots of little scabs from the holes where he injected the heroin. Sometimes when he was unable to get a fix he would beat Mariko, but Mariko would beat him back and then when they had nearly killed each other they would sit back panting and laughing. Because she loved him and because he needed the money to pay the rent on the little room they rented, Mariko took to whoring. It was the only real work available and more kids were coming to the city from the tips, and all of them were looking for work. There weren't enough decent jobs to go around, especially for kids from the rubbish heaps, and anyway the money was lousy. Mariko had a good body and some of the punters were not so bad. A few of them wanted sex without a condom but Mariko would have none of that, she wasn't dumb The older men were the best. They were easily pleased and gave generous tips and presents, sometimes she even enjoyed it. But of course the inevitable happened, as she knew one day it must. She had long since left the boy with the spiky hair and was working for herself. Sometimes she would shoot a line or two of coke or pop a few bubbles, but really she was not into Bourbon. At first it had made her happy but then it became necessary. It was a bummer and she knew it. She had somehow drifted into dependancy and just couldn't find the energy or inspiration to lift herself out of the habit. She became less careful about her appearence and took to letting the occasional punter make her without a condom. It paid much better and at times she needed the extra money.
Mariko died of AIDS when she was nineteen. She didn't die in one of those fancy hospitals however. She took herself wearily back to the rubbish heap, where the little children scavenged for scraps, fighting off the birds and the rats and dogs with sticks and stones. And it welcomed her. She lay her aching body upon the soft stinking garbage and stared at the beautiful glittering necklace of the stars. During the day she slept. She lay like that for several months.
Some of the children brought her food. Sometimes they forgot. She was bitten several times by rats and the bites became infected and began to leak a horrible yellow pus, but Mariko didn't feel it very much. Then one night the string that held the necklace came tumbling down and cut Mariko's bruised and fragile body into little tiny pieces.
Goodbye, Mariko - san......
I slept through the war I slept through the invasion I slept through the plague and I slept through the famine. I slept through the birth and I slept through the wedding, I slept through the renaissance and I slept through the revelation. I slept through summer and I slept through winter, I slept through the age of gold and I slept through the age of brass, I slept beneath the mountains and I slept beneath the sea I slept through miracles and I slept through madness. I slept all day and I slept all night. Finally I grew tired of sleeping:
I woke up, stretched my limbs, yawned and looked around me. Alas, already it was time for me to die!
Welcome to your weekly update from Play-Asia.com.
New games up for preorder: Tales of VS., Tales of Vesperia (PlayStation 3 vers.), Blur, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, SAW & much more!
Cute avatars and punk action - Kingdom Hearts Avatar Mascot Phone Strap, Gantz - Figma Reika + manga vol. 26, Weekly Famitsu No. 1072 & more!
Weekly Movie/Music update: Around 200 new J-Pop, Anime, Soundtrack & Movie releases - K-On girls Yui Hirasawa and Yoko Hikasa CD singles, Ratatouille, Sword of the Stranger & more!
Weekly Games Update: Singers and Swordsmens - Black Sigil, Class of Heroes, Fate/Unlimited Codes, Guitar Hero Smash Hits, The Legendary Starfy, SNK Budget Price games & much more!
Weekly Toys Update: Soft, cute and comfy - Mario Plush, Cinnamoroll, Chopper plushes, Grandline men - Luffy & Shanks, Nia, Viral, Princess Knight - Lily Saber & more!
Fight scene of the week - Fate/Unlimited Codes Portable, Juusei to Diamond, SNK Best Collection, NeoGeo Online Budget vers. & more!
Weekly Special - Prince of Persia for Xbox360™ (NTSC-J Korean vers.) is now available at an unbeatable bargain price of US$ 16.90 only - offer available for 1 week only!
The best of the best - Guitar Hero Smash Hits, Golgo 13: File G-13 o Oe, The * Kayou Generation
A cursed knight, a magic school and the legendary Starfy - Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled, Class of Heroes, The Legendary Starfy, & more!
BEWARE! Beware the witches when they throw their hazelwood switches! Beware the watchers when they wind their cadmium watchs! heed not the creed of the Foul Centipede or sit on the grass where the Millipede wee'd - for urine of such and doctrine most foul are harmful to touch with bargepole or trowel: The camel hawks not nor proud lions growl and silence subdues the hoot of an owl. Beware the deposits of multi - limbed creatures, of poets, and painters, and itinerate preachers. Shut up your ears with cotton and wax, with plugs of soft moss and shredded up fax... Above all, beware of witches that whistle, who juggle with plums and gargle with thistles. Beware of the Watchers who squint and who stare and never ride twice on the same Midnight Mare. Beware of the Bogie and the Hob-goblins mum - Never make jokes about the size of her bum! Beware of the men who live in dark sheds, especially the ones with hundreds of legs. Beware, beware, O children beware, beware of the Watchers who leer and who stare, beware of the Witchs with tall, pointed hats, and never go off with any talkative cats!...
The Moon and the Sun chased each other across the sky. "One day I shall catch you," said the Moon, "and steal a kiss from your golden lips."
"But you shall surely melt in my embrace," replied the Sun and leapt away from him, across the South China Sea and the monkey guarded temples of India, and the plains and deserts of Africa.
"How can I contrive to catch her?" thought the Moon to himself as he dallied one night between the stars. " I might conceal myself behind a great and cunning concentration of clouds," he though, but a drifting cumulous over heard him musing thus and reported it to the High Caliph of Clouds. "We cannot allow it," he said. "Should the Moon embrace the Sun, it will undoubtably cause an overheating of the atmosphere; the winds and their retinues of zephyrs will become torpid and sluggish. This will result in laziness and bad temper and they might refuse to blow us about the world. I cannot be responsible for what might happen. A great many clouds will become agitated. Trouble-makers and anarchists are always on the look out for opportunities such as this. Dada-ists and followers of Turner will follow suit. Before you know it there will be monsoons in the cool season and snow falling in Morocco. It will set a very bad example to the younger clouds. No, I cannot allow it! "
Every day and night for fourteen weeks, the Moon sought a great a cunning concentration of clouds. So distracted did he become that the Sun became anxious and fretful. "Perhaps his love for me is waning," she thought to herself. "Everyday he follows me as before, but his attention is elsewhere. Perhaps he has fallen under the spell of some fallen star, or become enamoured of some Goddess dallying as a Woman amongst the mortals." Inspecting her face in the great silver mirror of the Atlantic Ocean, she thought to see some blemish upon her surface, some dimming of the mighty flames that leapt from her corona. But no, she was still as beautiful as ever - or was she .... ? Faltering in her regal orbit about the jewel of the Earth she scorched the south coast of England so that dozing pensioners in Torbay and ournmouth swooned in their deck-chairs and childrens ice-creams melted in there cones before they had even raised the to their lips. A donkey called Harold came down with distemper and bit his master.
Awakening from a daze of self-doubt and incapacitating ennui, the Moon saw his chance and rushed upon the embarassed and distraught Sun. Startled by his sudden show of lunatic, and to her mind, ungallant opportunism, she was momentarilly flustered (all of Devon held its breath in fascinated and horror struck awe), but soon recovered and delivered a hearty and resounding slap to her would-be suitors cheek, which reverborated throughout the heavens, causing immediate tidal waves to inundate Paignton, Penzance and Weymouth, and to shatter windows, wine - glasses, the occasional gold-fish bowl and even a much loved antique cuckoo clock face as far away as Dussldorf in the heart of industrial Germany. One couple in Merseyside were particularly irate that their television screen shattered completely during a highly crucial moment of "Take it or Leave it."
The subsequent worldwide earthquakes and subtle shifting of the planets underlying tectonic - plates, not to mention the melting of the polar ice - caps and the rushing of a good deal of Earths atmosphere out into the vacuum of space, did little to appease their consternation. On top of which, their pet budgie Albert, a sensitive soul at the best of times, vomited up copious amounts of half - digested "Trill", squawked horrendously and fell off his perch - stiff as a dead parrot.
Thus it is, friends and eunuchs of the Provinsional World Government, that even amongst the celestial bodies, the course of true love does not always run smooth, and not all marriages are made in heaven. As for the tale - telling cumulous, the last I heard she had run off to Venus and was having a whirl wind romance with a dust - devil there, raising up a regular storm, tripping the light fantastic, high on neutrions and obscure anti - matter particles....
Here is a Classic Video for you to watch, but me, I lie back with my eyes closed and just relax and wonder at the magic that pops out from the speakers.
Sabre dance from ballet Gayaneh, by Aram Khachaturian. Berliner Philharmoniker. Seiji Ozawa, conductor.
Flight of the bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Berliner Philharmoniker. Zubin Mehta, conductor.
An impressive performance of Ravel's Bolero by the orchestra directed by the Dutch violinist and conductor Andre Rieu.
1978 - Carlos Kleiber - Conductor Chor der Wiener Staatsoper Die Wiener Sangerknaben Ballett der Wiener StaatsoperBuhnenorchester & Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper
Angela Gheorghiu sings the Habanera (L'amour est un oiseaux rebelle) from Bizet's opera 'Carmen' (Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands Silver Jubilee Concert in Amsterdam, April 29th, 2005)
Ying Huang: Soprano Madam Butterfly "Un bel di vedremo", Puccini
Roberto Alagna as a wonderful Mario sings the famous tenor aria "E lucevan le stelle" in Puccini's opera 'Tosca'. Conducted by Antonio Pappano. (Film directed by Benoît Jacquot)
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sings "Summertime" from the opera "Porgy and Bess" by George Gershwin (1898--1937). With Royal Philharmonic, Carl Davis / conductor. Recorded at Barbican Center, London, UK, 1989.
The Chamber Orchestra of S.João da Madeira Music Academy directed by Richard Tomes plays 'In the Hall of the Mountain King' from Peer Gynt by Grieg, during a concert at the Music Academy SJM. in June 2006.
From Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov. Nordic Youth Orchestra, 2007, Lund, Sweden. Concertmaster Alexandra Hjortswang.
Polovtsian dances from opera Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin. Berliner Philharmoniker. Seiji Ozawa, conductor.
A Child Stares up at the Moon.
A child stares up at the moon and aquires a fear of her shadow. The Moon stares down at the child and aquires a fear of the sun. The stars instill fear into no one, they are small and far away. Once I saw a very young star playing in a quiet field in the very small hours of morning. She was chasing moths and dancing with a scarecrow. I watched her silently for several minutes until I flinched to avoid an adolesent bat out hunting. She saw my sudden movement and froze for an instant, a look of astonishment upon her delicate luminous features. Then she was gone, gone and I was alone in the empty night apart from a somewhat gueralous scarecrow.
A child stares up at the moon and aquires a fear of her shadow The pitted face of the moon stares down at a child and acquires fear of the sun.
Somewhere, out among the stars A scarecrow is dancing, dancing.
Beyond the Wall of Sleep - the pit is deep,
Its walls are steep, and at the bottom - dark things creep.
Darkness extends a sullen lure that compels me to the narrow door
To turn my back on daylights roar with its bleak and hostile sun.
In the purple starlit gloaming - my weary soul is slowly roaming,
At my feet the dark waves foaming - all around in dismal moaning.
Look! the imprints of Her naked feet remain.
Look! the fiery stars still write her name in the script of celestial bodies.
I walk a narrow tree-lined lane, to lost Loves weed-choked ebony fane.
Dark and pallid blossoms bloom, in the temples ante-room :
Dark throated Night, and the white-petalled Moon;
The whispering leaves know only one tune,
Their branches depict an unspeakable Rune.
Silence descends.... and the Dark Thing draws near;
My teeth, blood and heart beat the tattoo of fear.
The gilded image of your Death mask begins to crack and slide,
Beneath it, the worms have devoured my Bride.
Twelve centuries have passed in the Land of Sleep
Since the Angel of Fire arose from the Deep
To pluck the stars from Nights invisible Tree
And returned them to Mystery and the embrace of the Sea.
The dark ruin of my body rests upon the Oceans floor,
The cracked and broken bones of Loves temple
Presents its sand-clogged door,
Its vacant eyes and fleshless grin
To the watery inspection of Oblivion
Whose cruel-beaked guardian Octopus
Writes a cryptic message with its mocking eight-fold,
Many suckered limbs
Upon the final, tideless shore :
The Beggar Girl
A young child stands on a busy pavement outside the market, a tin cup in her hand as the hectic crowd parts and streams round her. She may as well be an inaminate stone in a fast rushing river - but she is not, she is a small little girle, withdrawn and shruncken into herself, confused, lost and traumatised by the noise and swarming bustle her mother has left her in. The life of a beggar starts young, and she has not yet learned the rules. A few yards down the street , on another invisible island of dirty pavement, an older girl lays on her stomach tickling her naked four month old brother, her tin-can momentarilly forgotten in a moment of sisterly affection. A foreign tourist passes by arm in arm with his local prostitute "girl-friend" and drops a coin into her cup. At the end of the day, the working mothers will come to collect their children...
A little girl sits in the front seat of a supermarket trolley, her sister picks her dummy off the floor and wipes in on hergrubby jumper.
They don't have that many items in their trolley, some baked beans, a 19p loaf of white bread, tub of cheap marg, a large packet of assorted crisps and two large bottles of coca-cola. It is quite noticable that the other shoppers try hard to avoid the young girl and her little sister, who by now has found the remnants of an old chocolate biscuit and is enjoying it twice as much, as it is accompanied by her runny nose. The elder girl, reaches up to the top shelf to get a packet of cheap pasta, it slips from her hand and crashes to the ground. The bag bursts and its contents bounce and ping as they hit the solid floor. "God forbid", mutters the floor manager. "Why they don't stop these kids from coming in on their own, is beyond me," she glares at the child who offers to help. "I don't think so, somehow," retorts the floor manager, "God knows where your hands have been." The young girl accepts the help of an older gentleman who passes her a new packet of pasta. She smiles and says "Thankyou," in a well-mannered voice. Noticing the dirt on her hand she tries to wipe it on her jacket. Making her way to the till, the youngster count up the prices of her trolley inher head, then she opens her pure and counts the contents.She smiles, she just has enough.
At the checkout the till lady looks her up and down, then before she starts to pass the things through the till, she askes roughly "Have you the money to pay for this girl." The young girl nods her head and quietly answers in the affirmative. The food is transferred from trolley to plastic bag. Tiny one in the trolley has fallen asleep, her chocolate fingers wrapped in her hair. Smiling tenderly at the baby, her sister wheels the trolley outside the shop door and waits patiently. Fifteen minutes pass and eventually a blue mercedes drives up to where the girl is sitting. A lady dressed in a blue silk suit gets out from behind the steering wheel and after collecting the first the little one then the shopping, she tells her other daughter that she will see her when she gets home from taking old Miss Green's shopping to her.
A short time in the life of a busy child in Liverpool.
She is the last one, the last of her tribe. At twelve years old her skin is still unblemished, untouched by the chemicals in the water and the drugs in her blood.
She moves from table to table selling plastic poppies to over-dressed off-worlders and their loud-voiced women with skin like lizards and laughter like stories, their blonde designer children with cold dead eyes.
She lets them trace the outlines of the lily flowers engraved on her palms, their sweaty pink fingers cautiously stroking the fur on the back of her hands, nervous of vermin (she is cleaner than they are in their cloying perfumes and reeking anti-perspirant's).
They gape and giggle nervously at the exposed stump of her vestigial tail, her filed and blackened teeth.
Once it had been all the rage for well-to-do families to have one of her kind as a maid or handsome page-boy, perfumed, groomed and manicured in stylised ethnic costume, but now she is the last, the last of her tribe.
Tourists and sensationalists come to seek her out despite the government ban on fraternisation.
The clandestine government-backed experiments by secret off-world laboratories into cross-species cloning and gene control had eradicated the traditional falifa disease of her people but also made them sterile.
Now she is the last, the last of her tribe.
She moves from table to table selling plastic poppies, smiling to expose her incisors for the endless photographs.
When they have gone, the manager lets her scrape the half eaten meals from the plates to take home to her mother in their lean-to by the river.
The vaccinations came to late for Ooo'nek's mother, and the medicines are expensive, especially now that the war is spreading to the cities.
Prices of everything are rocketing and people, even off-worlders, less willing to part with their annas and half-annas.
At twelve, her skin is still unblemished, her pelt smooth and silky.
She is still a virgin, although sometimes when her mother is particularly bad, she will let men fondle her soft furred breasts, grope and push at her sex with their pink and sweaty fingers.
Her mother does not have long to live now.
Her fur is white and ragged, the skin of her face and belly covered in pale white scabs that continually crack and leak foul pink pus.
When it is over, when Ooo'nek has arranged and paid for the traditional respectful ceremonies, and the soul-songs have been sung, she will go to the steel and glass bridge with its pretty coloured lights and endless flow of traffic, and cast herself into the dark and cleansing waters.
OH GOSH THIS DOES MAKE ME CRY, I AM NOT SURE I COULD LIVE IN THESE COUNTRIES, OR GO ON HOLIDAY THERE. I WOULD FEEL ASHAMED OF HAVING WHAT I HAVE AND SEEING WHAT THEY HAVEN'T.
THE POEM OBVIOUSLY COMES FROM THE WONDERFUL PEN OF WILLOWDOWN, HE WEAVES SPELLS ON THE PAGES. IF YOU WANT TO READ MORE OF WILLOWDOWNS WORK, THERE IS A WEBSITE WHERE HE AND OTHERS GO TO SHOW THEIR WORK IT IS CALLED :
Connie had lived next door for as long as I could remember.
She had faded yellow lace curtains on her windows and inside her hall and living room the wallpaper was stuck to the damp walls with drawing pins.
She did her washing every Thursday with a dolly-tub and mangle.
Her backyard was overgrown with weeds and stank of cats piss.
When she was a young girl of eighteen she had fallen in love with a sparkle-eyed sailor who had his way with her and then sailed away to China.
For a while he had written, and she kept his faded letters pressed between two
sheets in a bottom drawer upstairs.
One day the council decided her house was too damp and unfit for human habitation, so they moved Connie into a brand new Old Peoples Residential Estate, somewhere off Lodge Lane, with an intercom on every door and a security guard on patrol at night.
But Connie didn't like it much.
She always came back to Aigburth Road to do her shopping and before the
year was out, she was dead.
The council renovated her house and moved in some young couple with a baby.
Sometimes I would hear the baby crying through the walls at night as I lay in bed reading The Lord of the Rings or listening to Captain Beefheart.
Sometimes Connie's faithful old cats would reappear from nowhere to take up
their customary places on her backyard wall andyowl in the silvery moonlight.
Did you ever meet your sailor again, Connie, sailing some old junk over the
starry bosom of the Milky River -
what could you possibly have had to say to each other?
THIS IS ANOTHER OF HIS STORIES THAT I REALLY ADMIRE,
HE IS A WONDERFUL SCRIBE.
The Classic Willowdown
CHILDREN OF THE BLACK SNOW
When the black snow fell from out of the depths of night, covering all the Earth in a sooty, velvet shroud in the space of a single moons journey across the familiar heavens obscuring even the light of the stars with gentle falling darkness. The people were dismayed and full of terror. The fields and meadows were choked with the soft ebony crystals, trees transformed to outre black sculptures of twisted, suggestive malagnancy, "like guttered Devils candlesticks," the villages said, testemony to some invisible satanic flame. The woodlands and forests, the people shunned completely - to peer between their night shrouded eaves was to gaze into some nightmarish grotto of the Underworld. Who knew what demons and imps might prowl the stygian aisles of such a fane to ancient, brooding entrophy? But what disturbed men and women most was the eyes of their very own children. Bright as fallen stars shone the whites of their eyes, white stars wherein burned the jewels of crystal blue, feral green and dark obsidian. Darting, inquisitive eyes that knew no terror at the strange dark snow that fell upon them but only curiosity and avid wonder.
What unlooked for river ran through their sons and daughters souls that they were not disturbed or dismayed by this sudden and world changing event in their lives and surroundings? At first their parents pretended that nothing was amiss, but their offsprings bright-eyed fearlesness un-nerved them and they began to look askance at their games of hop and jump, of skip and tag, and catch and catch can. Their laughter and high shrill whoops of joy which yesterday would have brought smiles of amusement to their faces, seemed misplaced and out of context in this strange dark world which had consumed them, and they furtively made the sign of the evil eye. As the soft black snow continued to fall, obscuring the stars, and even the hallowed brightness of the White Lady of the Moon, weighing on their souls and making their sleep heavy with troublesome dreams, ut bringing only fervent delight to their daughters and sons as they gamboled and played in the uncommon black snow. Their fearless eyes gleaming as they built figures of black shaped men and beasts out of it, palaces and castles, miniture towns and Kingdoms.
"Perhaps they are not our children at all!" One father muttered, "Perhaps the night has stolen our children and replaced them with changelings. Why else would they know no fear, but skip and gambol in the strange black snow, building these unfamiliar shapes and foreign men and beasts, these palaces and castles. It's not natural." he said. "they make the sign of the Evil Eye! I will keep no changeling under my roof, in my house." Many of the neighbours nodded their heads in agreement, so it was decided. That night they took the children aside and placed them in a large hall, that was usually used for storing grain. Still the eyes of the children looked about them, curious and fearless. They asked of their parents why had they gathered them together in the hall. But the elders would not answer them and would have left them without their evening meal, but the women-folk were uneasy and persuaded their husbands to relent. Still it was a marvellous game to the children, as the villages trudged back to their cottages in the thick black snow, the fine ebony crystals covering their eyes and lips, which also clung to their leggings and gloves so they had to stomp and thrash their clothing before crossing the threshholds of their own homes, securing the doors and windows with bolts against the night, and the thought of their children who may not be their flesh and blood at all, but some cangeling spawn of the Devil.
Sometime during the night, the eerie black snow ceased to fall, the stars resumed their former brightness, shining in the clear heavens. By morning, little was left of the mysterious black blanket that had shrouded all the land, the soft black crystals had melted away or been absorbed into the soil, almost as though it had never been. Some clots of melting grey stuff still clung to the larger trees but was disappearing rapidly with the rising of the sun over the familiar green horizon. Puddles of dull slush, soaked into the ground and vanished without trace. A shadow still hung over the forests and woods, but birdsong filled the air, heralding the approach of normal conditions even to those ancient bastions of Old Chaos, and soon, the topmost canopy of the age old trees were lit with tongues of flame as the sun reached out to touch them. The waking villages looked about them in dull wonder and slowly the weight of fear left them Hesitant smiles returned to their features as they stamped their feet against natural brown earth and fresh green grass... Had it been an evil dream? "Our children," they whispered shamefacedly to each other. "They will be cold and hungry. How could we have allowed them to talk us into letting them spend the night in that cold and empty grain-hall? Always they are playing such strange and nonsensical games! They are only children after all.."
The back ground to this poem is called "The Artist" and you must admit it goes really well with "Lydia".
She also reminds me of the "Lydia" who was in "The Fisher King" the film with the wonderful Robin Williams.
The Driving Snow
The killer walks slowly into the kitchen. He reaches to stroke the cat that has taken up residence on the table for the past few days. He takes the open tin of salmon from the larder and feeds the cat. Automatically he then walks over to the clock and winds it up, something he has done every day for as long as he could remember. Picking up the empty milk bottles he deposits them outside the backdoor with a note to cancel further deliveries. The fridge has been defrosted and wiped down and the cooker gleams and sparkles. He has signed the cheques and posted all the outstanding bills to the Manweb and the Council Tax. Has he forgotten anything? He didn’t think so. He had always looked after that side of things. He had cancelled the newspapers yesterday and returned his wife’s library books. Her wheelchair he has left in the shed outside along with a few more of her disability aids.
He looked down at the girls, his daughters. He has dressed them in their matching Tellytubbie pyjamas, gently settling Mr Woofy in Amy’s arm and smoothing a stray lock of hair that has wandered over her peaceful face. Piglet was clutched in Celine’s tiny hand he was confused a little by the fact she had not let him go when he smothered her. Muriel lies besides the children. She looks at peace like an angel. Her pain has gone now; she will no longer need him.
They are beginning to smell just a little bit so he sprays the air with floral Mountain Mist. He picks up the can and soaks the bodies in paraffin.
Entering the living room he turns on the television but mutes the sound, it is only Trevor McDonald reviewing his topic of the night, Irac, terrorists, cricket.
He pours himself a large brandy and opens the bottle of pills. “Goodnight my darling, Goodnight.” He says to the picture on the mantle piece above the fireplace.
He finishes his drink and immediately pours himself another one; he swallows the rest of the pills. In the background he is listening sadly to the steady growing murmur of the flames, they are already near the door. He can hear them crackling like a thousand golden leaves scratching at the back door in autumn.
“Sorry my luv” he says once again to the photograph of his wife Muriel, “It is the only way."
His breathing is deep and laboured. He is becoming warmer and his eyes are heavy and tired. He unbuttons his shirt and struggles to take it off; he lets it drop to the floor and lolls his head back on the chair.
His hands fall over the side of the armchair.
A sudden sound fills the room as his hand accidentally touches the mute button on the remote bringing the television to life again. As if awakened from a nightmare the killer sits upright in the chair and looks around the room. It is foggy now.
“There is a great possibility of driving snow tomorrow” says the weather girl, “so make sure you wrap up well.”
He closes his eyes again and sinks back into the armchair.
There is a sudden loud crack as the living room door explodes and the hot air whooshes in followed by a wall of intense heat. Incandescent flames began to dance around the room.
“Now remember, wrap up warm and don’t leave home unless you really have to.”
Strangely and inexplicably, when the firemen and police are going through the charred remains of the gutted house, the television set is still working. The cables and wires leading to it completely untouched by the devastating fire, and the screen of the television is flickering as it shows fully the driving snow of the early morning static.
I used to come to this place before the demons came. It was quiet and I would sit in the shade of the yellow blossom trees watching ships go up and down the river. The locals seem to regard the great pits that the demons are delving into the earth as some sort of future tourist attraction. People, they say, will come by the hundreds to admire the sulphurous flames burning in the fiery strata revealed to the eyes of men forthe first time in millions of years.
They do not seem to mind the thick yellow fumes hanging in the air or the harsh gutteral cries of the satanic workmen labouring with their picks and machinery. I do not believe they can even see the thousands of slaves that are being used in 48 hour shifts, or how the corpses are disposed of, quite openly in kilns and quicklime and acid. "It will be good for business," a young mother tells her rheumy eyed grandmother peering dimly over the scarf pressed to her mouth, eying her two children as she does so. "Stop that dreadful coughing, children. You know that I know perfectly well that you're only doing it to get attention in the hope of staying away from school again. Teacher Atkinson says there is a plague of such wilful malingering going about the valley at the moment - a type of pyschosomatic hysteria, he called it - and he says it must be dealt with strictly and forcefully or the children will become quite spoilt! Do you want to miss your suppers again? And Jenny, have you been fighting with those girls at school again - where did you get those bruises?" I haven't been fighting, Mother, it was the demons - a group of them tried to drag me into the bushes for sex until Tommy Morris and his gang laid into them and broke their noses! "What
nonsense you girls talk, I won't have it, do you hear? I simply will
not have you maligning the demons in this way - they are perfectly
harmless and respectable folk who are simply working for a living like
your Ma and Pa. Just because they have horns and a tail is no reason to
make up wicked stories about them. If I hear any more of it, I'll have
Pa beat you!" "But
Mother," wailed Jenny, outrage getting the better of common sense,
"it's perfectly true. Why only last week little Josephine Smallpox was
killed and dismembered by a group of drunken demons - you know perfectly
"Josephine Smallpox was a little whore and a slut," rebuked Jenny's mother through pursed lips, "and if anything untoward did happen to her I'm sure it was her own fault - but if you must know she's gone to visit her Aunt Elspeth in the City and will be there for some time: until she learns to act like a decent young woman. Mrs Smallpox was at her wits end with her licentious ways." "But
Mother," Shouted Jenny sharply, "you know that's rubbish, Josephine was
murdered - as many children have been and even adults. What about old
Mr Postlethwaite who used to run the Post office. "Go home at once
Jennifer!" screamed Jenny's mother. "I will not have you speaking that
mans name. Did you hear her grandmother? Perfectly respectable demons
maligned by my own flesh and blood and the name of that person Postlethwaite bandied about, and by my own daughter, as if he was a hero." "But
I used to go to school with him," said her grandmother weakly, "He was
such a lovely boy. I simply can't believe the stories about him. And I
don't like the demons either." she added and stamped her foot in a
daring show of rebellion. Mother glared at her. "Twice your usual dose of medicine tonight, I think!" "Oh,
good-day Arch-Duke Beelzebub, I was just remarking to my silly old
mother how well the pits are coming. It's a real blessing having you and
your cohorts in the town. It used to be such a dull and sleepy place.
At last something is happening here. Though goodness knows, there's
those that don't deserve it!"
We work for the benefit of non-believersas well as believers," replied Arch-Duke Beelzebub unctiously, giving Mrs Wandlemass a sly leer that made her heart quiver and her body get weak at the knees. But you and Mrs Wandlemass must come to one of our Great Feasts sometime. We're an insular but genial people and are always looking for new blood to join our little soirees, so to speak."
Why," said Mrs Wandlemass, quite flushed now, "my husband and I would be absolutely delighted." Excellent," said the Arch-Duke Beelzebub. "Let us say this Saturday evening at eight, then. I'll have two of my best imps come round to pick you up. Oh! and do bring your delightful children: my wife and I simply adore youngsters....." Yes, I used to come to this place before the demons came with their work-crews and schedules and programmes for reform. I'm committed to being here for a month now but once this stint here is over somehow I don't think I'll be coming back this way again.
The Little Girl Plays
A little girl plays with the dirty mud outside her parents huthumming happily to herself, oblivious to the flies.
The stench of refuse, the not so furtive scuffling of rats looking for scrapsthat the dogs have not yet found. She mould's the mud into a little figure and gives it eyes and a mouth. She laughs with delight and very quietly sings a song to her new friend, holding a hand to her mouth so that her rother,watching from the open doorway of their shack, will not hear and tease her. “Listen, my dolly,” says the little girl.“Today Papa brought home some rice and fish from the marketand Mama is busy cooking it. Hmmm, how delicious it smells!If you are very good I will keep some for you and bring it to you later.” Suddenly there is a great commotion. The air is full of loud shouting and women screaming. People are rushing everywhere, dogs barking, chickens squawking. A silver bullet smacks into the side of the little girls head, shattering the skull completely and jerking her naked brown body forward into the stagnant river, full of filth and mud, where it is soon trampled to pulp by the feet of the many women and children running and the boots of the soldiers pursuing them.
When the evening falls and the monsoon rains fall,dampening the fires of the smouldering huts, the dogs and the rats return to the village to tear and nibble at the charred and steaming scraps.
Who will love the child when the Mother steps aside? Who will love the child when the father wanders far and wide? Will the wild wind feed it, will the moonlight and the foxes suckle it or the owls bring it titbits and worms or the pine forest sing it lullabies beneath the twinkling stars? O the night is very cold, and the little child is naked.
Who will teach the child when the Mother turns her face away, who will instruct the child when the father has no word to say? Will the badger or the scarecrow educate it in the simple ways of survival? will the little sparrow share its store of wisdom and joy or the squirrel show it where to look for nuts? Will it build itself a nest of moss and snow, will the pale winter sunlight warm it or the busy bee of summer share its golden wealth of honey? O how long will the little child live, - days or merely hours?
Who will look after the parent-less child, the little bundle on the battlefield - who will give him milk to drink and fill his hungry belly, who will wrap him in a shawl of rags and let him suck their fingers? Who will protect him from the rain of shells,
from the teeth of predators and carrion-eaters, from the guns of soldiers and the bayonets of the depraved?
Whose sweet breast will he nestle against when the Mother steps aside, who will shelter and provide for him when the father wanders far and wide – who will look after the little child, O who will love the child?