‘Locks’ by Kevin Murphy

Thanks to Kevin for his response to our trigger ’lock’. Kevin writes:
‘Here is a short extract from my current work in progress, and autobiographical novel based on my experiences looking for love after leaving a Monastery.

Every other weekend, now without fail, and with Alan’s help, I went back home. The adults of the Youth Centre Management Committee showed that great lesson I learnt at Greyfriars: their trust that young people could be responsible. They took some persuading, but I had to fight to save my lost love.

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‘Life on Earth’ by Andrew Bell

We love you,
Mother Earth
as much
as we love our kin,

even as we bear witness
to your defilement;

even as we disable
your natural rhythms
lay waste your lands,
poison your air and soil.

For we came to see you,
long ago, as separate,
as a lifeless mechanical force,

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‘You’ by Kevin Murphy

This is an extract of a larger piece that Kevin has written around the prompt ‘You’.

Liam brings Tack up short telling him that his story of love for girls is all about him.

Liam sucked his lip loudly. ‘You…’ He wasn’t sure he wanted to go there. ‘The girls – you … what do they think of you?’
Tack looked at him, somewhat blankly.
‘I don’t wish to be cruel, Tack, but what you are telling me is all about you, with the occasional reference to what they look like.’
‘I see,’ said Tack, not a bit convincingly.
‘You seem to fall for a girl, you don’t really say why, and then you, well you chase them. Is that fair?’
‘My sister did pull me up on that.’
Liam laughed. ‘What notice did you take?’

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There are some things in life you can’t comprehend or control
Affairs of the heart and that which lies deep in your soul.
Love is a mistress that you cannot command or constrain
An enigma a mystery that you can never explain.

If you are looking for love then you had better beware
If you take love as your mistress she isn’t forgiving or fair
She will mess with your mind until nothing is what it seems
She is just too dreamy for real life and too real for dreams.
She is a fallen angel who comes to you while you sleep
Searching your mind for commitments to steal and to keep
You are in a prison without bars and her hypnotic hand
Will hold you without touching wherever it is that you stand
The drug of her beauty will invade your heart and your mind
She will prove without doubt that so called true love is blind
When love is your mistress her rules you will have to obey
If you give her your love she’ll take your freewill away.
She will bind you tightly with jealousy and with mistrust
And will ambush you with a confusion of passion and lust
And when your emotions are laid out naked before her
She will clothe them in your tears which is all she can offer
When love is your mistress she’ll drain you of reason and sense
You may meet by design or just by coincidence.
She can take you without warning and give you no time to flee
Very soon you will have forgotten what it’s like to be free.
If you take love as your mistress she will seduce you with lies
If she succeeds you find she’s taken your soul as her prize.
She can be all things to all men and will enslave you with her charms
As you lie innocent and unsuspecting in some lover’s arms.
She is without mercy demanding surrender right from the start
Leaving you defenseless against another attack on your heart

Picking love as your mistress is just a gamble you take
You are gambling with your heart if you lose it will break.
The book of love gives you all the odds if you bother to read
Why when so many have failed are you so sure you will succeed?
Love’s a one way journey which has no route map or chart
And few successfully end it from the many hopefuls who start
She will change you forever for better or maybe for worse
Too late you will find out if she is a blessing or a curse

If you take love as your mistress and drink deep of her pleasure
You know from that moment she is your mistress forever
If you’re lucky she will give you eyes that won’t shed any tears
And a transfusion of trust to banish your doubts and your fears.
She will weave you dreams from roses to blot out your yesterday
You will have no regrets you will be happy that she stood in your way
She will invade every part of you from your head down to your heel
Mere words on a page won’t describe how she’ll make you feel
She will ignore all your weaknesses and tell you that you’re strong
Let you live the romance you knew before only in poetry and song
So go ahead and take love as your mistress that is if you dare
But remember my warning from someone who’s already been there
Only take love as your mistress if you think you can handle the role
She may be your one true love and you’ve nothing to lose but your soul

THE WAR IS OVER by Barrie Purnell

THE WAR IS OVER by Barrie Purnell

When I told you our affair was over you reacted with surprise.

I honestly believed by now, that even you would realize,

Your deceptions and betrayals I no longer can forgive.

Our love a desert of duplicity was somewhere I couldn’t live.

You do not need me for a citadel, where you can run and hide,

When the next ephemeral lover casts you and your love aside.

I don’t want to argue with you, discuss it with you, or explain,

Our love affair was simply something that neither of us could sustain.


Why do you ask if you can return to live with me again

Knowing that would just result in yet more misery and pain?

The love we had proved at best to be a weak and transient spark

Sufficient only to illuminate one small corner of the dark.

You could say we were two random rocks, both hewn by chance,

From life’s inexhaustible quarries of fateful circumstance.

You promised exclusivity but the contract was never signed,

You loved me with your body but never loved me with your mind


This is not the time to regret it, resurrect it, or to weep,

We both made many promises that were too difficult to keep.

I opened up my heart to you but you still demanded more,

A rip tide dragging me away from the safety of the shore.

You knew I could not swim yet pulled me out into the deep,

You were an insurgent in my head driving out my sleep.

I asked you for a cease fire between my love and yours

You demanded my surrender but could not get my signature.


I lie alone on my barren bed staring blankly at the moon,

Which still throws your absent shadow across the empty room.

You are there hiding, like an uninvited guest, inside my brain.

Your pleas for my forgiveness haunt me like an unwanted refrain.

If a cure for one more broken heart is what you’re talking of

I can offer you my sympathy but I cannot give you love.

Listening to the late night radio realizing, but too late,

How fragile was the border fence between true love and hate.


So don’t tell me now you are surprised that our affair didn’t last,

Our dreams are now just worn out yesterdays fading to the past.

Your treachery left us talking through a veil of poisonous pretense,

My failures just ammunition for you to use in your defense.

This time you’re going to reap the harvest of the lies that you have sown

But just believe me, you don’t need me, you can make it on your own.

You were only ever an itinerant gypsy girl visiting my bed,

Now at last our war is over and not a drop of blood was shed.



The look by Kevin Murphy

This trigger was to use a one minute thought stream – yes we are thinking/dreaming all the time – as the basis for a piece of flash fiction or poetry. What can you come up with in, say, fifteen minutes?

The Thought stream:

Fay,  Grenley, Gringley Beacon, you can see 13 power stations from here, Boar’s Hill, you can see the city of Gleaming spires from here – or you used to, Greyfriars, Fr Peter, Ss Anthony and Francis at the foot of the cross – Oxford in the background. Boar’s Hill belvedere donated by a philanthropist – gone to seed, trees now overgrown the view. Huge waste. Gringley pace egging down the slope, bit easy.

I picked out the Gringley (Armada) beacon in North Notts and compared it to the Boar’s Hill Oxford Belvedere as captured in a painting in Greyfriars Oxford when I was a boy. Love crept in between.

The Story:

The Look

‘You can see the City of Gleaming Spires from here – or you should be able to.’

An overgrown clump surrounded by trees – could be anywhere.

She decides to raise awareness and funds to sort it out.

Compare and contrast: poor little Gringley, a beautifully kept beacon  ans you really can see thirteen power stations from there.

Rich Oxford, not bothered with the view which has provided its epithet. I’m visiting and see this girl who won’t catch my eye.

In a skinny rib, did they call it?

Hides her paperwork, back to me.

See her bra strap.

Likes the interest I’ve shown – told her about my village Beacon.

Hands me the sponsor form and a postcard view – it’s the one on the Greyfriars backdrop – I bet the artist used it. I wonder if this is his original, the basis on which  the Friars commissioned their painting?

Then the look as she goes to pass me.

I felt her bosom against the back of my hand as she squeezed past.

There really was no need, there was plenty of room.

Was that a kiss?

I don’t know. Was it? Did I dream it?

I make sure I get plenty of sponsors and a bunch of friends from college to join too. ‘Pace Egging? You’re joking!’ But they joined in anyway.

I thought I’d help her set up. She had a few there. I was a bit of a spare part. Most important thing is to be able to find your bloody egg, sorry, I beg your pardon, that sort of lang… won’t get me… who am I kidding, she’s spoken for?

She’s looking at them. She’s really looking at him. But it’s not the look – not the one I mean.

This beacon thing, this heap that the old boy had built – probably like us and bunch of fellow students he bamboozled into barrowing  … you couldn’t barrow up there. It was an engineering feat. Anyway, it’s all overgrown – couldn’t have been mown all last season. Two hunks have brought scythes. Scythes! Where on earth did they find them. They can work them too. Grass and weeds falling neatly in swathes, waves round the … tumulus, hummock, barrow … what is it?

Bet she’s got some lumberjacks on the city side … maybe that’s what the funds are for. There are full trees blocking the view.

But not my view.

Her back again.

Her arse.

Look away.

It’s not for the likes of you.

Look back. Such a figure. Petite with long hair, short and narrow waste. Shape. Auburn. Swishy. (That’s my brain I think.)

She turned and caught me. A nod. She knows. Looks away. Looks back. That look. Looks away.

‘… Oh and this is Darrel.’

Darrel. Oh. It is, is it? It’s Darrel.

I ache. I ache all over. It’s not ache, but I can’t describe it and it is all over.

It was that look.

A GOOD CATCH by Pete Brammer

A GOOD CATCH by Pete Brammer

It was 5 o’clock Saturday morning, in the quiet neighbourhood of Ballymurtle, Northern Ireland.

An alarm clock was going off, in the bedroom of Shane O’Callaghan, on his first day of retirement. Today he was going carp fishing, in Marley Park.

“OK, OK, I’ve heard you!” he snapped at the clock.

Once washed and dressed, he made his way down to the kitchen to

make a flask of coffee, which was placed in a rucksack, along with the

corned beef and jam sandwiches, made the night before.

After quickly downing a bowl of cornflakes and a mug of coffee,

Shane set off with his fishing gear, in his blue Ford Fiesta.

At the end of the street, he stopped to pick up a Daily Mirror, two

cans of beer, and a packet of strong mints, from Patel’s corner shop.

“Have a good day.” old man Patel called to him as he left the shop.

“Oh I will. You can be sure of that.”

The drive to Marley Park, took approximately thirty five minutes, mostly along narrow country lanes.

“Right you little beauties. Come to daddy.” he said as the hook and bait hit the water.

Two and a half hours later, without so much as nibble, Shane poured

himself a drink and began reading the sports pages in the paper.

“Hello there, Mr Fisherman.” a voice called out.

O’Callaghan looked round, but was unable to see anyone.

“I’m down here, sweetheart.”

Again he looked round and still saw no one.

“I’m down at the side of your flask, over here.”

“A talking bloody frog? I don’t believe it!”

The frog looked up at him. “You better believe it my friend. I’m going

to make you an offer, you cannot afford to turn down.”

“And what’s that?” he shook his head. “I can’t believe I’m talking to a bloody frog.”

“Well you are, so listen.”

“Go on then, let’s have it.”

“If you pick me up, then kiss me, I will turn into a beautiful, vivacious young woman. I will fulfill all your wildest fantasies. We can marry, and I promise all your friends will be envious of you.”

After thinking for a minute or two to considering the matter, Shane picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.

The frog went ballistic. “Why in heavens name haven’t you kissed me, you ungrateful swine? Are you crazy? Didn’t you hear what I said, for Christ sake? I’ve offered to be your beautiful bride.”

“No” replied Shane. “At my age, I’d rather have a talking frog.”