Autumn Poems from Angela O’Connor

Angela gives us a leg-up to Autumn

AUTUMN’S RAMBLING GLORY 

There she goes moving stealthily

amongst the trees.

Her glorious locks glistening in the

dappled shade.

Languidly she turns,

gazing and alighting where

her beauty decides to bask.

Virginia, you possess a nonchalant presence.

Boldly, yet without fanfare she arrives.

Her leaves creeping into my heart.

Dance, my Virginia, dance

Can you see what she has done here?

SEASONAL INVERSION

Surreptitiously she awakens

Elemental error is repeated

Association of mis-matched months

Semester deviations do confuse

Only to be relived further on

Naturally it is here and there

Australian autumn

Languishes at the feet of March

Invisible to my eye now

Never far from my mind

Veiled in summer sundances

English autumn awaits

Reverent metamorphosis of life

Subtly transforming hues

Invigorating the pleasure palette

Oh the wonder of her

Navigating through hemispheres

Did you see it? There’s points in it – and points mean…
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SWAN LAKE

By David R Graham, 28.04.16

‘Oriole Tighe,’ DS Graville said placing the odontology report back on his desk in the open plan office on the first floor of the London Heathrow Airport Police Station. He leaned back on his swivel chair and slowly linked his hands behind his aquiline head and glanced at the tree that obscured his view beyond the window to his left. He could hear the world going about its business. But he couldn’t see it because of that bloody tree.
‘What’s that, serge?’
Graville turned from the window and lowered his hands to the desk. ‘That, is a name,’ he said.
‘Of?’ his colleague DC Chappell asked looking over his right shoulder.
‘The body found in Swan Lake.’
‘Oh. Right,’ Chappell said turning to rest his arm on the back of his chair ‘You got the report back, then.’
‘I did.’
‘Anything we can use?’
‘The name,’ Graville said with a questioning glance.
‘Do you want me to check the MPB?’
‘I’ll do it,’ Graville said turning to his computer. ‘According to the pathology report,’ he said as he logged on to the MPB site, ‘the body was in the lake between six and eight months. That takes us back to between last July and September.’

‘Any luck?’ Chappell asked entering the office twenty minutes later with two cups of Costa coffee.
‘No,’ Graville said without looking up. ‘There’s no Oriole Tighe on the MPB. And I can only find one on the Web. A wedding singer.‘
‘It’s not her, then?’ Chappell said, finding a space on the desk for Graville’s coffee.
‘I hope not. She’s got a midday booking in Galway tomorrow. Besides,’ Graville said, putting the fingers of his left hand round the coffee cup, and carefully removing the lid with his right, ‘our Oriole was a shade over six feet. The wedding singer is more than a shade under six feet.’
‘You’ve nothing to go on, then?’ Chappell said turning to his own desk.
‘I have a name.’
‘What’s in a name,’ Chappell muttered.
‘Nothing,’ Graville said, taking a careful sip of the steaming coffee, ‘and everything,’ he added, lowering the hot cup to the desk.
Chappell turned. ‘Everything?’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t exactly call an eight month old corpse, and a name, everything.’
Privately, Graville had to agree. But he sensed that there was more to it than that. A lot more. He tried to put it into words. ‘A little more than eight months ago, that corpse was a living person. A person called Oriole Tighe. I wouldn’t exactly call that, nothing. She had a life, a history. People must have known her: friends, family, acquaintances. Someone must have missed her.’
‘Not enough to report it, it seems,’ Chappell said and turned away to ease his neck.
Graville turned the coffee cup slowly with his fingers. ‘No,’ he said. ‘But someone, wanted her to stay missing.’
‘You think she was killed?’ Chappell asked over his shoulder. Then he stood up and sat on the edge of his desk. ‘Murdered?’ he asked over the top of his coffee cup.
‘The feet were missing?’
‘Yes?’
‘That can happen if the body is weighted down by the ankles. Eventually the flesh decomposed and the body floats to the surface. Yes. I think someone murdered Oriole Tighe.’
Chappell shifted his weight. ‘That name’s not going to get you very far. You’ll need a lot more than that to go on.’
‘I know. I’m going to see if I can get a facial reconstruction done: put it on Crimewatch.’
‘Good idea,’ Chappell said sitting down again. ‘That usually gets a good response.’

‘Not bad looking,’ Chappell muttered as studied the clay features of Oriole Tighe, in a studio in Highgate, a week later.
No, Graville thought, looking at the lean well proportioned face, with its cupids bow mouth, shapely nose, and well spaced eyes, above high cheekbones. Not bad looking at all. Very good looking in fact. Like a model. Or a…
‘What about her hair?’ Chappell asked straightening up and directing the question at the self conscious young forensic scientist standing close by with her hands in the pockets of her white coat.
‘When I’ve cast the model, and made it up. I’ll take pictures, using different style wigs.’
‘Right,’ Chappell said looking back the clay bust.
Graville smiled at the young woman ‘What’s your name?’ he asked.
‘Stephanie.’
‘Well, Stephanie. I think you’ve done a remarkable job. I think you have reconstructed Oriole exactly as she looked before she…when she was. Will she be ready for next Tuesday? For Crimewatch?’
‘Yes. She’ll be ready for Monday.’

An email transcript and two monochrome pictures lay on Graville’s desk. The email had been received by the Crimewatch production team; after Oriole’s reconstructed image had appeared on their show the previous night. It was the only response they had received. It was sent from an Internet Cafe in Portsmouth. One of the pictures was of a person entering the cafe wearing a hooded jacket that completely concealed their face. The other was of the same person seated at a computer console. Whoever it was was aware of the cafe’s CCTV and had chosen a console out of direct line of sight of the cameras.
The transcript covered a third of an A4 page. Graville looked at it. He hesitated to read it. What would it tell him about Oriole Tighe? Was he about to learn who she was? Every name has a meaning; a history, a life, he thought. He drew in a quite breath, picked up the transcript, and read the following:

‘Oriole was murdered. They did it at a big house in Harmondsworth. After the sex games they started getting rough. They were out of their heads on crack. They started getting vicious. They punched and kicked us round the room like we were rag dolls. They were laughing like it was a game of football or something.
They’re looking for me right now. They won’t stop until they find me. I know who they are. I know who he is. His name is Wasyl Kozachenko. He started punching Oriole like he was boxing with her. He egged the other four to join in. He threatened them. They’re afraid of him. He started on me. I pretended to lose consciousness. Then I did lose consciousness.
It was dark when they took us to Swan Lake. They used Oriole’s tights to tie rocks to her ankles. She was still alive when they threw her in the lake. I came round while they were doing it. I could hear Oriole moaning. It made them laugh. They were going to do the same with me. I ran. I ran faster than I have ever run in my life. They lost me in the dark. They could barely walk straight. They just kept laughing. I kept running. I’ve been running ever since. I will always be running now.
They’ll find me. I know they will. Kozachenko’s got the Ukrainian government to help him. I just have me. If I go to the police he’ll know where I am. My only chance of staying alive is to be invisible.

Graville put down the transcript. He realised he was holding in his breath. He slowly released as he Googled each character of Wasyl Kozachenko. He came up with a Vassilii Kozachenko; a Ukrainian poet, born in 1913. He typed Wasyl Kozachenko in the Ukrainian Government, and drew a blank. He typed, Wasyl Kozachenko in the Ukrainian Police, and drew a blank. He paused, for a moment. Then he typed Wasyl Kozachenko in the Ukrainian Security Service, and got a hit.
A Wasyl Kozachenko was Deputy Director of the SBU. Ukraine’s State Security Service.

NOW THAT I AM OLDER by Faymarie Morris

Faye’s response to the ‘Now’ Trigger. The next one is of course ‘then’.
NOW THAT I AM OLDER.
Now that I am older and my world is slowing down
And my life is mainly governed by how to get around,
I can look back to another time, when I was young
And the days were always endless and packed full of fun.
Computers weren’t invented then, mobile phones or texting.
I played for hours out of doors, no time for resting,
Until the sun was going down or tummy was rumbling.
No rain or snow or sun or blow, or mother grumbling.
Summer-time went on forever. I was never bored.
Things to see, find and do. Building dens, making swords.
Skipping up and down the lanes or fishing in the stream,
Collecting frog spawn, sticklebacks. Life was one long dream.
And even in the darkness of a long midwinter’s night
I’d still be outside with my friends, underneath the lights.
Freedom should be each child’s right, to live life to the full,
Learning how to improvise and never being dull.
But it isn’t like that any more, kids can’t be free
To play for hours and hours on end, wherever they please.
There’s danger round each corner, lurking in the shallows.
Hiding in the undergrowth. Prowling through the shadows.
We never saw it coming. When did it come to this?
Did it happen overnight or bit by little bit?
What if it was always there and parents never knew
Or chose to just ignore it, like adults sometimes do?
But this is how it always was, back then, in the day.
The many dangers I encountered, just out at play.
Like standing by the railway tracks with steam trains chugging past,
Waving at the people as they went by, in a flash.
I still grew up and lived and thrived and wanted for nought
And ate the things I shouldn’t have. Sometimes I know I fought
To try my best to understand the workings of the world
And how to grow into myself, while the cosmos unfurled.
And nature was my best friend, it helped me to survive
The miles and miles I trudged to school, when I was just five.
Birds were always singing whether skies were grey or blue
When every precious moment was filled with things to do.
By Faymarie Morris

Give us your call sign by Pete Brammer

Pete’s response to ‘Fire’ Trigger.

Give us your call sign by Pete Brammer.

The surrounding area around St Paul’s Cathedral lay in rubble and ruins, as Londoners desperately tried to get on with their miserable lives. The cathedral stood defiant in the face of Hitler’s indiscriminate night after night bombardment, as if sticking two fingers up to him. On the other hand, their leader Winston Churchill did in fact stick two fingers up. This was not only in defiance, but in the sign of victory he believed would surly come.

On the 5th January 1941 in adverse weather conditions, an Airspeed Oxford flew over the river Thames. Its pilot was ordered to give its ‘Call Sign’ and identify itself.

Several times the request was made, but unfortunately this was not forthcoming, so, the Ack Ack battery guarding the approaches to the capital received orders to ‘Fire’.

Several shells exploded in the dark sky until the plane finally took a

hit, bringing it down in the murky freezing river below.

The crew of HMS Haslemere a small, former ferry used as a barrage

balloon ship, spotted the parachute coming down, and saw its pilot

alive in the water, calling in English for help.

Lt Cdr Walter Fletcher commander of Haslemere, bravely dived in,

attempting to perform a rescue. Due to the movement of the ship in

the rough weather, her crew were unable to pull it back in time and

the stern crashed down on the unfortunate flier, who was sucked

into the blades of the propeller, and the body was never recovered.

After failing in his rescue attempt, Fletcher was in fact brought back

on board, but sadly died in hospital a few days later.

The report regarding the plane being shot down by British soldiers

was quickly suppressed, maybe for moral reasons, as the dead pilot

just happened to be the legendary Amy Johnson.

The reasons for her crash were given, that she had run out of fuel

and ditched the plane.

For nearly 60 years the Ack Ack gunner Tom Mitchell carried the truth, until in 1999 he eventually told his story. Amy had failed to give her ‘Call Sign’ and correct ‘Identification Code’. “She gave the wrong one twice.” he said. “Sixteen rounds of shells were fired and the plane dived into the Thames Estuary. We all thought it was an enemy plane until the next day when we read in the papers and discovered it was Amy. The officers told us never to tell anyone what happened.”

A memorial service in St Martin in the Fields was held on 14th January 1941 for Amy. Walter Fletcher was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal later in May of that year.

As a member of ATA who has no known grave, she is commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission under the name Amy V Johnson on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede.

 

Element of a crime by David Graham

For the ‘Earth’ trigger from our ‘elements’ sequence:

Element of a crime by David Graham

‘Earth?’

‘Soil,’ DS Cage said, in response to the inspector’s puzzled expression.

‘Soil?’ the inspector said, without altering his expression.

‘Yes. The stuff you get in gardens,’ Cage said, patiently attempting to clarify the obvious.

‘In his throat?’

‘Yes. His entire trachea was blocked with soil.’

‘How did it get—? Was he—?’

‘Forcibly,’ Cage cut in, ‘With a stick. Or some such implement.’

‘So he was murdered?’

Cage resisted the urge to say something else, and responded with a controlled, ‘Yes. That does seem to be the case.’

The inspector fingered the edge of his desk. ‘Good lord,’ he said at length. ‘Choked to death, by soil. That’s bizarre.’

‘Yes,’ Cage said, and waited.

The inspector left off fingering the desk. ‘From the beginning again, Frank,’ he said.

Cage lowered his head to conceal his inhalation, and then slowly read from his PNB, ‘At nine fifty-three on the  morning of Friday the seventeenth of June, a Mr. Julian Valance, a housekeeper, at number 9 Han Street—a leasehold property, off Eaton Square, in Belgravia—made a 999 call to report the discovery of the body of the deceased. Upon our arrival, myself, and DC Wales, found the body of the deceased on a sun lounger in the rear garden. Lacking any immediate evidence of foul play, or of a struggle, my initial assumption was that the decease had died of natural causes: possibly, a heart attack. On closer inspection of the body however, I discovered that the mouth was filled with what myself, and DC Wales, took to be some form of dark soil. On making that discovery, I immediately informed the Coroner’s office; arranged for the house and grounds to be sealed off, as a potential crime scene, and called in SOCO.’ Cage closed his notebook, and looked up.

‘And what did SOCO come up with?’ the inspector asked.

‘Jerry,’ Cage said patiently. ‘It’s all in my reports: and Paul’s.’

The inspector smiled, placed his forearms on the desk, and linked his fingers. ‘I know, Frank,’ he said. ‘I’ve read them. It’s just that I get a better feel for the case, if I hear the details. Indulge me.’

Cage relented somewhat. ‘SOCO came up with very little of substance,’ he said. ‘No signs of foul play, or of a struggle; either inside the premises, or in the grounds; and no fingerprints—or footprints, for that matter—other than those of the housekeeper, and the deceased.’

‘Only two sets of fingerprints?’ the inspector said sceptically. ‘In the whole of the house?’

‘Yes. Either the perpetrator, or perpetrators—I’ll wager there was more than one–wore gloves,’ Cage said, ‘or he, or they, took care not to touch anything. Probably both.’

‘And the Coroner’s report?’

‘That proved much more rewarding. And much more intriguing.’

‘How so?’

‘Because the soil found in the deceased throat, is not found anywhere in the British Isles.’

‘It wasn’t from the deceases own garden?’

‘No. It came from a very long way away from there. A very long way indeed. It is a type of soil unique to a certain region of Iceland.’

‘Iceland? How on earth—sorry, no pun intended. How did soil, from Iceland, get into a man’s throat, in a garden, in central London?’

‘Well. I can only surmise that someone brought it over here.’

‘Someone brought soil all the way from Iceland. Just to force it down a man’s throat?’

‘It would seem so, yes.’

‘Good God. That’s positively macabre. What possible motive would anyone have for doing that?’

‘I don’t know for certain, yet. But I am fairly certain it wasn’t a random act. In fact I believe that the deceased was targeted.’

‘What makes you think that?’

‘Because of who the deceased is—I mean, was.’

‘Go on.’ 

‘His name was—is, Agust Himarsson, and up until eighteen months ago, he was a political correspondent for a weekly tabloid newspaper, based in the suburbs of Reykjavik. He left, under something of a cloud, when the paper refused to publish his accusation that certain, unnamed, Danish criminal elements, were attempting to use Iceland’s State owned Alcohol and Tobacco Company as a conduit to funnel their dirty money through offshore laundering accounts and receive it back cleaned. Eventually, he must have thrown caution to the wind, because he went public, and published his report online. Ironically, since the leak of the Panama papers, much of what he had to say, has proved to be pretty close to the bone.’

‘So you think that Danish criminals came over here and killed him?’

‘It’s possible. But because of the source of the soil, I suspect it was an Icelandic element: possibly sending a message; a warning, to anyone else who might be thinking of trying to exposing their setup.’

‘Well,’ the inspector said, sitting back, ‘if that is the case. I suppose we ought to hand it over to the Icelandic police.’

‘I agree,’ Cage said. ‘In fact, I was going to suggest that I go over there, and liaise with them.’

‘Mmm,’ the inspector murmured knowingly. ‘Maybe we should both go.’

After a moments consideration; they grinned, and said in unison, ‘Naw.’  

The Crows by Pete Dome

The Crows by Pete Dome
Hideous craving raucous crows
Lurk in the dark shrouding  shadows
Of the human soul
The labyrinth of the unconscious mind 
Harbors thoughts trapped 
Within the cobwebs of ravaging time.
During slumber our darkest thoughts 
And fears awake within the confines
Of nightmares wake
As the ferryman awaits
To take you across the scary lake.
To a far off distant land
Where you are bound and tied
By feet and hand
Helpless the scary movie unfolds
Enter the hideous craving raucous crows.