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.”
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.
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
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
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
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.