Solution by Margaret Moreton

Margaret’s response to the trigger ‘word’:

Solution by Margaret Moreton

‘The word was made flesh … and dwelt among us … full of grace and truth…’ The word was “solution” and was proclaimed to the world. It too was flesh – nothing more nor less – and dwelt among us – full of dread and despair … and yet hope.

“Arbeit macht frei” – so many times have I seen this maxim proclaimed in news bulletins or I’ve read it in journalistic articles, but never have I felt the chill of its impact so deeply, as I stood beneath the gateway carrying its message. My mind ranged through the translated meaning which I understood from schoolgirl German, and which I’m sure lay behind the hoped for message greeting impending occupants. The dastardly underlying meaning hit me and clearly I saw the man who put it there. He who dreamt it up must have borne a triumphant, cynical smile across his lips. A more loaded welcome would have been hard to extend.

What did I expect as I stood there? This epic chapter of history I had lived through. Had I been asked that question in the late forties, my answer would have been different from that which I may have offered a few weeks ago. Even with that answer, I would not have come close to what now I saw and learned. I had seen photos of ‘striped pyjamas’, ‘Goon boxes’ and barbed wire, but none began to relate the choking horror of what was preserved, telling of what happened. As I walked on, between the harsh naked once-dwellings of selected and herded humans, I was eerily forewarned by the chilling silence, of the awfulness of what I had to address as I went forward. No birds sang; no dogs barked; indeed, in the vast openness of Birkenau, no rabbits scampered, no foxes prowled.

Everywhere was evidence of the dehumanisation of people; of men and women like you and me, and of children like ours. Names ignored and numbers used instead. Thus dignity was gone – indeed how would a number need – on demand – dignity? Clothes removed, comfortless striped pyjamas supplied in return. Dignity and individuality were gone. Barbed wire and electric fences corralled all, and all were watched by armed guards in elevated wooden towers. Dignity was gone! Even in death there was no dignity – corpses were haphazardly cast into mass graves, body on body. Unsuspecting souls were promised much-needed showers; instead were stripped, cornered and poisoned by Zyclon B, then cast into an oven inferno.

The stark reality of rows of supported wooden planks with holes over buckets every two or three feet – latrines in a very open communal area – no question of a label or a latch on a door – no question of a door. Privacy and dignity were words far divorced from the vocabulary of the master. The dormitories were grotesque – indeed the derivation of the word was a mockery – sleep could only have happened in exhaustion. Just tier upon tier of stark, rough, wooden, crate-like structures, each one shared by, I believe, two or even three people – often by corpses.

Seventy years of suns, snows, rains and fogs have not cleansed the chill concrete ‘shower-room’ of its awful gasping cries; of its bitterly dashed hopes for a future. It is still there, that aching mausoleum of innocents. Neither have those years cleansed and erased the shuddering ghastliness of the vast ovens, nor the sight of crammed heaps of empty Zyclon casks, nor yet the impact of the towering chimneys.

While I was there I bought a book: ‘Man’s search for meaning.’ Its cover carries the picture of an imaginary but splendidly vibrant bird, poised for flight, perched, on a barbed fence surrounding an open space, guarded by observation towers, wired electric fences and flood lights. I see it as a defiant salute to hope, despite the awfulness of Holocaust – a message voiced in its forthright writing. We all need hope in our lives. So felt the man who secretly fashioned a tiny rosary from his once-a-day ration of bread.

Towards the end of my visit, I became aware of the biting wind and my deeply blue hands. It seemed to sum up and underline the pervading chill; the insidious lack of any feeling of warmth anywhere. In quiet moments now, there still thunders through my mind the phrase, ‘Man’s inhumanity to man.’ I have seen in widescreen, pictures of those words drawn in abject sufferings. May they never be so clearly portrayed again.

The word? The word was ‘solution’. And the solution? Was it final? I think not. I was helped in my aching tiredness, over the last hours there, by three groups at various times: firstly by a party of young Jewish men, then by a party of Irish visitors, and finally by a French family. There lies something towards a solution, with natural barriers down and help given as and when it was needed. We can preserve our differences without resorting to aggression, if we have humanity, nation unto nation.

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Bucket List by Chris South

Chris’s response to the trigger – Bucket List

Bucket List by Chris South

Before I shuffle off this mortal coil
Undertaken deep beneath The Makers soil
Could there be anything undone I should regret?
Kindled in my youth which I forget?
Everything that I am now, I’ve lived to be
Today, all my experience is me!

Let me not long for life I can’t insist
Indeed, despite those things I might have missed
Sorrows, why be sad? I shalln’t be triste
Tomorrow’s all that’s​ on my bucket list!

‘Dirty deeds done good’, by Kevin Murphy

‘Dirty deeds done good’, by Kevin Murphy

Jack choked on his mead as he heard a commotion in the outer office. He swept the nucklebones off the table and indicated the mead flagon to Harold, and the goblets to Ned. They slipped their playthings out of view as Jack sat back into his ample leather chair.

There was a scream from outside. The door banged open and three roundheads rattled in. The captain stood up to the desk.

The guardsmen blocked a swift exit with stamped feet and crossed lances. Not that anyone had legs to run with.

Jack’s nonchalant grin greeted the glare. He sucked his teeth.

‘Smells like a whorehouse in here,’ snapped the captain.

Jack sniffed. ‘I wouldn’t know.’

‘Sir!’

Jack looked around.

The captain, slapped a handbill on the table. ‘Is this your handiwork?’ he said.

Jack struggled up from his slouch and peered at the object which appeared to be causing some offence. ‘No sir.’

‘No sir! No sir?’

‘Prin’ers ’andiwork, sir. Nice ain’t it?’

The captain narrowed his eyes and took a noisy breath through flared nostrils.

‘Ow,  I gets ye, sir,’ said Jack, ‘ye sort a means is the rats my ’andiwork, but er…you gid me that job … so ye kinda threw me at first.’

‘Stand up when I speak to you!’

Jack wriggled in his boots. His voice changed. ‘I am sir.’

The Captain looked back at his smirking men. He stroked his chin and said, ‘of course, just the man for the job. Ferreting the vermin out.’  He turned and jutted his chin into Jack’s face. ‘But you haven’t, have you?’

‘Well your boys pretty well cleaned up round ’ere. Not left me a lot to go at.’

‘When did you last see your Master?’

‘Now, that’s another question I knows you knows the answer to, sir,’ said Jack drawing his left cheek off his teeth. ‘It were you dragged him and the Missis out, what, free month ago?’

The Captains eyes were now a squinting slit. Through gritted teeth he hissed. His looked to his gloved fists as he clenched them and banged them down on the desk. ‘He was sprung, you insolent slob. You know he was sprung!’

Jack stood back a little, almost falling into the chair, then up onto his tiptoes. His face blanched. He cleared his throat. ‘Do I?’

‘Do I? Do I?’

Jack wasn’t trying to be facetious. Try offended, Jack. ‘Well I don’t know sir. Who…?’

The captain looked at Jack’s two henchmen one at each side of the ‘desk’ … table. They didn’t look like they could hench much. ‘Stand up!’ he bawled, ‘both of you. Get over there with your master.’ He stood back between his two men and three faced three.

The Captain drew his gauntlet across his mouth looking steadily into each man’s eyes in turn, before addressing the sentries.

‘Like looking into the eyes of fish in a barrel – long dead. Smell like them too, I’ll be bound.’

Nobody laughed.

‘Are you trying to tell me that we let you keep your room in the manor house, and the Squire has not been back to…?’

‘Very kind of you, it were. Nice it is too … having it to ourselves…’

Our selves? Our?’

Jack shuddered. ‘Well yeah. Not these two, like. Missis an’ me sir. Me and Missis. Dint expect me to live there and her back in the cottage?’

‘But I did expect you to do something for the privilege, Horner! This is a damned Royalist hotspot. Veritable nest of Papist vipers.’ He stabbed the handbill. ‘What’s that say?’ He said pointing to ‘RATS, LICE, VERMIN’.

Jack looked at the captain. ‘Dirty deeds done good, sir.’

The Captain double checked and glanced at a sentry, who smirked out of the window.

‘It – says – rats, lice and vermin…’

‘That too sir, yeah.’

‘Dirty deeds, not done…!’ he growled. ‘Not done, are they?

‘Run off our feet ain’t we boys?’ He elbowed Harold to stop scratching his arse. ‘Printer done a great job and everyone callin’ on us to … look at that,’ he said shoving his rat-bitten hand under the Captain’s nose.

The officer slapped it away. ‘For us who are paying handsomely.’

‘We got some good leads, for you, ain’t we boys?’

They were all nodding like donkeys.

‘Just need to get a … well don’t want to send you in after any wild gooses. That’s our job. But, we will get you some sitting ducks ..’ He looked to his men ‘…this time next week. How’s that?’

The Captain took off his gauntlets.

Jack wondered if that meant either business, him in the rat trap, or the soldiers were going to get comfy. He glanced hopefully at a full flagon on the shelf behind the door.

‘That Manor house you are living in: you do know it could be yours?’

Jack thought it already was. That was the deal. He had given them seven houses – well the deeds he had found in the pie – and Lord Frederick had agreed terms. Keeping one was only fair. Did the Captain know? Did he care? He wheedled, ‘His Lordship … enjoyed the pie I took him?’ He waggled his head. ‘Not got indigestion, now I hope – Lord Frederick, I mean.’

That seemed to hit the spot. The Captain stood back, looked at his gloves and put one back on. He raised an ungloved finger very close to Jack’s nose.

Jack looked disdainfully at it, as it slowly retreated.

‘A week, Horner! Seven days. Same day next week – that’s Thursday, but morning, not late afternoon. You had the wits to look into that pie, and to bring it to his Lordship. You might not be able to read the word ‘deeds’, but you know what a Deed is.’ He stopped to ensure a reasonable tone, before continuing. He tapped the lose gauntlet on the table. ‘His Lordship appreciated you bringing him those other six…’ he looked all round and coughed ‘… but if it had been me, I would have you for spoiling the pie in the first place…’

‘What and take the pie where it was sent, eh? To one his nibs Royalist cronies, Eh? Eh? I ask you? That what Lord Fred…’

‘Calm down man. Of course not. Let’s be reasonable.’ He coughed. ‘Lord Frederick, is a fair a reasonable man and well … we don’t want that good nature being taken advantage of now, do we?’

Jack was beginning to relax.

‘You and me, Jack?’ He let the stress sink in. ‘That Manor is yours. Yes. The deeds from the … pie … are for keeps. His Lordship did indeed … if you’ll excuse the joke … enjoy the pie. He drew himself up to his full height and raised his voice, just a little, ‘but he is busy about the Parliament’s business, and you must be also.’

‘I realise what you are saying Captain, I need to deliver some of my Master’s friends, if I am to … enjoy my slice of the pie … and live in peace. Yessir.’

The Captain leaned in. ‘You pulled out a real plum, there Jack, and don’t we know it? But there is a reason why his Lordship let you keep it. Have some nice juice for me next Thursday, else I’ll leave with you just the stone. He indicated the door to the sentries and they turned out.

Jack’s mouth hung open.

The captain’s round-head helmet flashed sunlight from the street as he turned in the doorway and shouted ‘That’s a good boy.’

Jack clapped his hands, ‘Gives me the pip, that bastard’, but he cackled and pointed to the new flagon.

‘Yes indeed lads, what a good boy am I.’

www.respect.com by Faymarie Morris

www.respect.com  by Faymarie Morris

What happened to respect
for every living thing
that shares our perfect planet,
be it animal or human being?

Buildings, the environment,
all peoples and oneself.
Every living creature,
their welfare, and our health.

It is something taught in childhood
by a caring adult, who,
respects the child they’re teaching.
Can this be said of you?

To get it you must give it.
It is not an inborn right.
And youngsters with respect these days
is not a common sight.

But respect is inside all of them
and with guidance from the start,
a child grows up with values
that come straight from the heart.

If respect was on the Internet
with Worldwide Web access,
then children might apply it,
like computer games, with zest.

For kids are like computers
and if programmed while still young
to show respect to everything,
they will treat respect like fun.

By Faymarie Morris

THE CALL by Angela O’Connor

THE CALL by Angela O’Connor

She spat down the phone, vile words of attack;

Meant to harm

Meant to humiliate

Meant to help her

 

Holding the phone like a white hot coal

No sentence formed

Simple or complex

 

My ears accepted their host’s brutal yet beautiful deceit

I placed it in its cradle, ceasing the explosion of betrayal.

 

Shaken with cruel reality, I slumped into an old chair

Outside rain hit the panes, tinkling on the glass-

Sounding my resurrection

TEN ASPIRING WRITERS by Barrie Purnell

TEN ASPIRING WRITERS by Barrie Purnell

Once there were ten aspiring writers

At first everything was fine

One did not understand punctuation,

Notably the apostrophe’s location,     

So then there were nine.

There were now nine aspiring writers

But one failed to differentiate

Their acronyms from their synonyms,

Their allonyms from their pseudonyms,

So then there were eight.

 

There were now eight aspiring writers

Sadly one was taken up to heaven.

Their death by electrocution

Severely limiting their contribution

So then there were seven.

 

There were now seven aspiring writers

But one was given to polemics

Chairman ruled it counterproductive,

Said this criticism wasn’t constructive,

So then there were six.

 

There were now six aspiring writers

But one of them didn’t survive

The pressure of periodic presentation

Which led to the death of inspiration                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

So then there were five.

 

There were now five aspiring writers

But one was shown the door

The pieces they wrote were much too long,

And the sexual content much too strong,

So then there were four.

 

There were now four aspiring writers

One was told their poetry should be free

But, for the purposes of timing,

They insisted it must be rhyming

So then there were three.

 

There were now three aspiring writers

There was him and me and you

They said I used too many clichés, I was cut to the quick,

I could see the writing on the wall, I had to get out quick,

So then there were two.

 

There were now two aspiring writers

They could see nothing could be done.

These writers were quite bereft

They put their pens in their pockets and left

And then there were none.

 

With the writers gone the room was silent

The empty table spoke of shattered dreams

Empty chairs a testament to their conceit,

Their struggles and their ultimate defeat

They’d found writing is not as easy as it seems.

SIBILANT SIBLING by Angela O’Connor

SIBILANT SIBLING by Angela O’Connor

Wish wish upon a star; shouldn’t have reckoned

On celestial deliverance this far. She’s here now shaking

My world with her sisterly sounds. Baby’s screeching

And screaming, then seven’s shouting and screaming,

Then seventeen’s sullen silence –no screaming.

 

She slowly saunters into rooms, the venomous gaze

Sizing and despising those surrounding her. Together with

Today’s friends, muffled whispers conspire like busy bees.

Yet she serves no pollination potential, instead her substance

Needs wastes her once strident soul.

 

All that is left is the scraping

Sound of the empty mixing bowl.