Carrying out Father’s Bucket List by Rachel Hilton

Carrying out Father’s Bucket List by Rachel Hilton

Jodi pulled her car to a halt outside her father’s house with a feeling of trepidation creeping over her.  The house loomed in front of her, the Gothic style with its narrow, tall peaked roofs, decorative stones and many columns and arches appeared no more welcoming than when she’d been a child living here.

 She looked across and saw Quinn’s car was already here.  Quinn was her younger brother who had been living god only knows where recently.  It was a good job he always had a topped up pay as you go mobile phone – she couldn’t contact him any other way.

As she walked to the heavy wooden front door she took a deep breath and knocked using the ugly doorknocker she’d always despised.  Waiting, waiting, waiting, no one answered the door so she tried the handle whilst calling “Hello”.  Nothing, but as she entered the house she knew someone was there.  She heard a noise from the back of the house but steadily gazed around.  Everything was as she remembered it even down to the portrait of her father hanging halfway up the giant staircase.  She truly hated that picture; he just looked so pompous, pretty much like his everyday life really.

She passed the office where her father had set desks up for her and Quinn to study and do homework.  Their father had quite often locked them in this room when they were younger to keep them out of his way.  Jodi had found reading and writing more difficult than most children as she was dyslexic and had experienced major problems with words as a child.

Her mother had been so patient, happily spending time helping her daughter overcome her learning difficulties.  Jodi had missed her terribly since the divorce.  Her father had agreed to the divorce but the children had, unfortunately, had to stay with him. 

She carried on further into the house calling “Hello” again.  She heard a reply from Quinn, “In here, by the pool.”  He sounded strange, not the usual Quinn.  It could be the room distorting his voice, she thought.  She hurried through to the extension where the pool was and stopped short with an audible gasp.

Her father was in the pool, in the deep end but not swimming.  He was face down in the water, not moving.  Sheer terror bolted through her body.  “Oh my god, do something, help him Quinn.”  “I can’t swim,” came the reply.  “Neither can I, what can we do?” she wailed frantically.

“He’s gone Jodi, he’s gone.  He fell, he slipped on the tiles, he fell, he hit his head and then fell into the water, the deep end.”  As her legs gave way, Quinn caught her and went silent.  “What are we going to do?” Jodi asked.  “Do we call the police, an ambulance, what?”  “No, none of them.”  Quinn’s cold reply shocked Jodi.  She turned to face him; she wanted to see his face, his eyes.  “What do you mean?  We have to do something!” 

“No, we don’t.  He demands our presence here today, again without any explanation as to why and…..

“Quinn, stop, for once I know why.  He called yesterday from his solicitors; he’d changed his will.  Everything you were inheriting he willed to me, to teach you a lesson, from the deeds to this house to the ownership of his business.  Except he never wanted me to inherit anything, he intended to change it back in a week, a month, whenever you fell back in line.  He told me so.  That’s what he wanted to talk to you about today.  Bit late now though I suppose.”  Jodi surprised herself at how cold she now sounded.

“What?  Why?  That should all have come to me; I’m his son and heir, what’s going on?”  Jodi held her tongue until Quinn had finished his outburst.

“You were ‘bumming around’ as he put it and he thought it the only way to teach you a lesson.”  Quinn went to open his mouth again but Jodi stopped him.  “Quinn, shut up and listen.  I never agreed to this, I didn’t want anything from him.  He feigned the title of philanthropist to the outside world while being nothing but a miserable bully at home while we were growing up.  He never hit Mum but he psychologically abused her.  She was a shell of her former self when she was finally able to leave him and move away where he couldn’t control her, that was when he finally accepted it was over.” 

Quinn was astounded.  “I never knew, Jodi, I never knew.”  “You were young Quinn; she wanted it kept from you as we were having to stay here.  It was too late for me, I’d seen it all – he knew I had lost respect for him but you doted on him, as all little boys do with their dads.”

 “I wasn’t that little, I was 12 when she left.”  “Yes, but you were away at school most of the time, I was here, at the local college.”  Quinn looked past her, out the big glass window.  “Did you blame him for the break up, her leaving?”  He asked.  “Honest answer, yes I did Quinn.”  “You never said anything Jodi.”  “I couldn’t, but why do you think I moved out after she left?  She moved as far away as she could, I don’t know if you know but she’s recently settled in Barbados.  I dearly wanted you to come with me but you were too young.  He would never have let you come with me anyway.  I think he saw himself in you.  Until this past year I think he had the highest respect for you but that faltered when you decided to leave your job with the company and go travelling.”

“I didn’t want to be tied without having seen a little of the world, he knew that Jodi.”  “Yes, I knew it too, but that’s not our main problem right now is it?”  She said while gazing at the pool. 

“I know exactly what we do!” exclaimed Quinn.  “We go, we leave, we do nothing.  He was perfectly fine today when we called in to see him, we talked about the Solicitor, the Will and everything, and I agreed to go back to work for him.  We left him as he wanted to change and have a relaxing swim.  The cleaners can find him.  They come in once a fortnight and he told me before he fell that they were here yesterday.  So his body will have been in the water the better part of two weeks before he’s found – and we are each other’s alibis.  What do you think?”  He looked over at her tentatively.

“Then what?”  She smiled weakly at him.  Quinn was soon back in full flow.  “We wait till the cleaners raise the alarm, we wait till everything is cut and dry, so to speak, and then we organise a funeral service.”

“You know what I was thinking?”  Jodi said, “When we were younger he always wanted to do a parachute jump, it was on something he called his bucket list, but he was either too lazy or fat to do one.  Well, I’ve seen it advertised where a loved one can be cremated but instead of being buried or chucked in the sea or whatever, the ashes can be taken up in a plane and a skydiver empties the urn on the way down.  What do you think?”  “Yes, that sounds perfect” agreed Quinn “as so does both of us as joint partners in the house, the business and everything else, if you are willing to share your inheritance with me?”  “Yes, that’s the only way I could see it working now, just promise you won’t disappear from the company to go travelling again, unless it’s with me and going to visit Mum.”

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THE PROBLEM WITH WORDS by Barrie Purnell

THE PROBLEM WITH WORDS

I met her in the long hot summer of sixty three
On a surfing beach in south-western France
I wanted to grab her attention with my poetry
I just hoped it would give me a chance

The words I needed were there in my head
But were cryptically concealed in my mind
They were words that I’d heard or words I’d read
But those damn words were so hard to find

I needed to write some lines to give to Nicole
That would tell her I wasn’t a naive hanger on
Words to pick the lock letting me into her soul
I needed to strike before the moment was gone

Words those lyrical poets seemed always to find
Words to tempt her away from the glitz
To persuade her my love was worth leaving behind
Her hedonist friends on the beach at Biarritz

Why is it when you try to write what you’re feeling
The words are never what you want and you know it
It was never an ace that I seemed to be dealing
But the joker mocking a wannabee poet

Like drunks my words staggered and fell off of the line
Forming a jumbled lexicon piled at my feet
My pen itself appeared to be hostile and malign
Leaving me staring at a pristine white sheet

Too late I found the words that I wanted to say
Another troubadour had enraptured her heart
My love turned to malice when I heard her say
That I was not in the race from the start

So in place of verses that were full of love and desire
The words were those of resentment and spite
I ignored her contrition and appeal for a ceasefire
Because I was totally absorbed in the fight

I dealt out my words like sharp stainless blades
Each syllable became a barbed arrow of pain
Each sentence simply one more heartbreak repaid
For that love lost down in Aquitaine

It was so much easier to find words for my malice
Fired like bullets from a gun onto the page
My jealousy proving a willing accomplice
For my humiliation, frustration and rage

Too late I realized some of the words that you write
Can fatally wound without leaving a trace
Each word is forever and lies there in plain sight
You cannot recall them or have them replaced

I wish I hadn’t wasted my words on anger
But then what is life without any regret
For a poet each word they write is a failure
There are so many failures I need to forget

This poet sees life as a glass that’s half empty
I don’t look for the silver linings on clouds
Life’s disappointments and tears I find aplenty
You’ll find me hiding at the edge of the crowd

So if you are trying to win yourself a new lover
Don’t try ensnaring her with eloquence and rhyme
When you find her just tell her simply that you love her
Using poetry will be just a waste of your time

Jenna the elephant was so proud by Michael Healy

Jenna the elephant was so proud.

 

Jenna was an elephant, who came with Royal blood.

His father was so stately, the massive Arjuna was so good.

Jenna was quite shy but knew he had his duties.

Arjuna for many years had been the Royal transport,

Now the time had come for Jenna to take over.

Arjuna’s saddle was huge, decorated with jewels and gold.

Jenna had been fitted for his.  It was now built, but nothing like as bold

He had yet to earn his status, by carrying the Family Royal.

His rider was Majub, a wiry little chap.  He would show him how to toil.

The day came, at least for a practice.  He was to take the Royal boys to town.

 

Soon he was dressed in all his finery with his saddle fitted along.

He was feeling quite wobbly as the boys climbed on.

His tummy was rumbling and there was little he could do

Suddenly from the back came a tremendous rumble and ‘phew!!’.

Fortunately the boys thought it funny and held their noses tight.

Majub was not at all pleased and said, ‘good job not their father, right’

 

They set off for town walking slowly down the track

He must note the way so he could lead them back

The further he went the better he felt.  He held his head high with pride.

Majub also looked very smart, indeed he now felt proud

But seeing Jenna act the same, he said we should not yet be proud.

‘There is still much for you to learn’, he said out very loud.

 

Jenna realised Majub was right and they must be a team.

As they passed along this road with trees on either side

Something stirred within the bushes and Jenna watched his ride

Alarmingly, there was a family of lions that frolicked back and forth.

Majub turned to Jenna and held his rein most tight.

 

‘Just keep walking on’, he said.  ‘That really is a pride!!’

‘Yes, a pride of lions’, thought Jenna.

He was proud of his bravery.

Dr Michael Healy

The ploughed field by Joe Lyons

The ploughed field by Joe Lyons

A furrow dug deep turning earth from below

Revealing bones and metal from long ago

The bones still encrusted with soil and clay

Before the rain comes to wash the earth away

 

Remembering bygone days where valour stood the test

The strongest and wiliest would survive the best

The weaker unskilled fighters they would quickly fall

In time victors survey the vanquished, while standing tall

 

Months have passed now bones bleached by the sun

The field left fallow this season no work to be done

At night the bones turn into skeletons to fight once more

With no flesh to bleed bones fall back to the floor

 

At night these unknown warriors come to fight another battle

By the time the fighting’s over all you can hear is the bones rattle

Come morning they lay fallen to be warmed by the morning sun

In the full moon refreshed, once more the fight’s begun

 

Until these remains are collected and put under lock and key

A battle forever wages on each moonlit night if you could see

When the darkness of each night falls it pass as time before

Until collected and preserved the skeletons will fight no more

SPRING by Barrie Purnell

SPRING by Barrie Purnell

The pale light diffuses through the clouded window

Signaling the start of yet another new day,

Not just an ordinary day,

But the first day of spring.

The mornings’ irritations fade when I look out to see

The world shining fresh and new after the rain.

New life is returning

After winter’s vandalism.

Pussy Willow catkins show like tiny fingers;

A few carmine red shoots are already visible

On the pruned rose stems,

Prompting a memory of

The breathtaking blooms of last summer’s roses;

Leading actors in nature’s endless resurrection,

But now the stems stand stark

Against the dark damp earth.

 

The rising sun throws dancing shadows of leaves

Across the ivy clad railway sleeper wall.

The broader shadows of

Clouds glide across the path.

A pale, lemon yellow, primrose pushes through

Its’ winter ravaged, worn out rosette of leaves,

And lifts its’ pretty head

Towards the tepid sun.

Raindrops, like a shower of pearls, hang from branches

Under which scattered troupes of febrile insects dance.

An insolent noisy robin

Challenges every intruder,

While a tiny, ever mistrusting, Wren retreats

Into the safety of its hidden priest hole home.

Somewhere in the windless

Morning a Blackbird sings.

 

The vibrant saffron yellow cups of crocuses

Are painted onto the the lawn’s bright green canvas.

Moss has occupied spaces

Between the sandstone slabs.

The fresh green shoots of the Iris give little

Indication of their future azure blue beauty;

The exclamation marks

Of the flower world.

I love the spring, when everything looks brand new,

But I feel sadness too that it is so ephemeral.

So are our lives

Within eternity.

We can’t hold on to beauty, it is bound to fade.

We should enjoy our springtime while it lasts,

All too soon it’s over, and

Autumn leaves cover the ground.

 

I am reaping the harvest of all the deeds I’ve sown;

Both kind and hurtful have had their consequence.

Unlike the flowers that fade,

Returning good as new each year,

There is no rebirth for this creature I have grown.

My finality assured by inescapable decay.

I envy the innocence

Of the reborn flowers.

The springtime of my years is now long since gone.

I give little thought to all those dog-eared yesterdays.

I remember little of

The spring except its beauty.

I am living through the winter of my life.

No flowers will grieve for me when I am gone,

They will bloom again

To please a strangers eyes.

Bucket list by Kevin Murphy

Kevin’s response to the ‘Bucket List’ trigger:
Bucket List:
‘I am just a poor boy though my story’s seldom told’… is one of my mantras. My mother was incredibly practical, perhaps out of necessity as my father was not; perhaps from the make do and mend attitude of the war; perhaps because her father was a shoe mender – the inter war years being a busy time, but also one where customers did not return to collect the shoes he had repaired because they could not pay.
My mother got permission to start work not at the statutory accepted end of her 14th school year, but the Monday after her October birthday, just two weeks after war was declared in 1939. For decades after her father died in 1956 (from his Great War wounds – gassing) we had one of his lasts in our cellar.https://i0.wp.com/i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTA3MVgxNjAw/z/2VMAAOSwnNBXZ9xT/$_35.JPGThis had use right into the eighties – a trade secret to stop heels rubbing – gently hammer out the leather to stretch it.
One of our most famous family stories is about the time my Father got my sister and me to surprise Mother, who would normally wallpaper all by herself, by papering the hall ceiling for her while she was out at mass. All of us on ladders, he at one end, passed to Ces in the middle who passed it to me at the other end. We had difficulty making it stick in the stretches between us. It slowly drooped at one or two points and gradually, oh so gradually, gathered pace until it effectively dressed Ces atop her ladder. She was intrepid though. She did not let go her hand. She did let go of something else. At first the giggle … led to tears of laughter … before she eventually wet herself.
When Ma returned there was a six inch patch of paper in the middle of the hall ceiling, a twelve inch puddle on the hall carpet, and a wasted roll of the wallpaper we could little afford in a corner.
I do try to do all the jobs. Laying a hedge I swung the billhook back and caught the back of my head. Only the dufflecoat hood saved serious injury. I’ve electrocuted myself fixing the washer, and broken a finger dropping a car axle onto it. Though the list of fixables did reduce over the years, I persevere, I am intrepid. I’ve fixed the flat screen TV in the last year … but now I am a bit of a ‘Gunner’ and the list of things I’m gunner fix is getting longer again.
There is no need to fix. I am no longer a poor boy. Money in the bank making negative interest. My kids deny it when I sing ‘I am just a poor boy, though my story’s seldom told. ‘
There’s a hole in my bucket dear Kevin,
I’ll fix it dear Diane…
DON’T FIX THE FLIPPIN’ THING, JUST BUY ME A NEW ONE!