Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Seasons of Leaves


Today - they wave in warm sunny breeze

Tomorrow - they flutter down to the ground

The next day - they’re hardly seen at all

The seasons of leaves once more.

Today - they shush with all their friends

Tomorrow - they rustle and start parting ways

The next day - they’re hardly heard at all

The seasons of leaves at your door.

Today - they’re green and shiny and bright

Tomorrow - they’re brown and dull and wet

The next day - they’re slush and composty stuff

The seasons of leaves – just enough.

So next time you see or feel or squash

The shapely veined babe of the tree

Spare a thought - Take time to consider

The seasons of leaves

For you - And for me.

( 23 Jan 2012)

Going home.

This is it. The day has come. The crosses on the calendar will stop. It’s time.

Janey stared at the taxi man watching his lips move but not hearing a sound. Watching him stretch out his hand to take the small overnight bag slouched at her feet. She didn’t move. Her thoughts were on pause.

From across the seas she felt her heart start to beat, her neat breasts twitched as the breath of what was to come stirred inside. The edges of her glossed lips climbed to meet the sparkle which suddenly shone from her green eyes.

The taxi man’s eyebrows rose questioningly into the wise furrows above and Janey smiled. “Hello! Thank you, and this…,” she stepped aside to reveal the monstrosity! Taxi man’s eyes engulfed his chubby cheeks, as he envisioned staggering down the path with the polished pirate’s chest across his skinny arms!

“Whoa! That thing looks like it’s come out of Jack Sparrow’s Black Pearl!”

“It’s going home,” said Janey and her assertive tone snapped him back to his professional duty.

“You want me to put that in the boot?” 

Fortunately for him, Janey’s rugby playing brothers thundered down the stairs as if on cue and without a word they each took a sturdy handle and glided out the door before taxi man could take a second breath!

“Good luck, Janey.” Bear hugs, no tears, just knowing smiles and they were gone.

The tickets were safely stored in the roomy patchwork bag slung over her shoulder: Dar Es Salaam, 1 Adult, one way. The first leg was easy; after that trains, taxis, and finally boat. Grandfather ‘Pappa’ Jackson was waiting. The Black Purl was waiting!

Janey was the chosen one to return childhood memories to her elusive Pappa, Pirate Jack!

( 31 Jan 2012)

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Culture Shock

              They say you can’t go back, isn’t that what they say? We looked back, although inwardly had all told ourselves we wouldn’t. Looked back at our home, the green lawn stretching out like a lake, the edges dancing with colour as the new born sun gently swept over pansies, impatiens, roses, cassia, blossoms, pampas grass and lavender. We looked back at the pastures beyond and the cows grazing in slow motion, the picture we’d been part of many a morning while sipping coffee on our veranda. We looked back at the homes around, the dogs stretching from a night’s rest, the cat’s chasing moths, butterflies and other imaginary insects in their large spacious gardens. We looked back, with a grin, at the Hadeda Ibis violently jabbing his long beak deep in the grass to spear the choicest worm, and then startled by nothing but the silence, he rises clumsily, squawking in fright. We wouldn’t miss him - or would we?

We drove silently through wide empty streets, the cars still sleeping in garages, safely locked away for at least another hour or two. There’s no going back. Tomorrow a new family will discover the tranquillity and delight of the gentle farm-like landscape. Another little girl will be rolling over the soft green lawn. Another dog will be darting in and out, overawed by new smells. Another cat will be cautiously tiptoeing through unknown territory.

                The plane landed. The weather in the northern hemisphere had been unpredictably warm and so we stepped out into a bubble of warm sunshine – much like ‘back home’ – a gentle introduction to a new home, a new beginning, a new life. The bubble kept its shape for two weeks, as we enjoyed a holiday type period living in a friend’s home with greens in the distant hills and vales visible through the small side window.

But the bubble burst as we walked into our ‘own home’ – a box within a box. A garden of three or four bushes leaving a narrow strip of … is that grass? The bubble had burst. Travel cases were emptied and packed away. This is now home.

Cars line the streets parked half on and fully on pavements, and even then there’s only room for one car at a time to move towards the ever wriggling snake of metal boxes on their way to central London. No cows grazing, just neighbours dressing with curtains undrawn. No dogs barking or wagging tails, and the one or two cats glimpsed in the wink of an eye, slink under cover of trees and sheds.

              No privacy to sit in the middle of one’s garden and shed sad tears. The neighbour is just a few feet away pegging her undies to the wash line which stretches the length of her garden. The sun plays on the yellow t-shirts, pink panties, white pillowslips and green dresses. And I long to go back. But this is now where I live; this must become my home. Many tears will flow, but it’s time, we can’t go back. A new life has begun.

(Published in Carillon Mag 2011)

Jessie - Winner December 2011

      It's always exciting to see someone appreciates a story!! The story of Jessie started when I was walking to work one summer morning in south west London. It was nearly 8am and the couple in the story were ahead of me. He was just as I described and presented a very comical picture - the trousers were proudly showing off his socks, his feet were flopping and his coat was long. An original draft included his black NHS prescription glasses which appeared to spell the word NERD across his face! Her dress was adapted for the story, but her reactions to the young man were as told until they separated at the intersection.

       The sad thing is, I wonder if the picture I painted in the story could possibly have been anywhere near the truth. And the sad thing is that a place like Lulu's possibly doesn't exist.

       Real life offers many writing prompts, it just takes imagination to build it!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Starting Point

In the beginning

A few years ago I bought a writers magazine for my daughter who was about to embark on a university course in creative writing. However, I found the mag fascinating and started putting pen to paper myself! One of the competitions in the mag was to write a short story based on a simple photograph. I remember the picture well – it was a woman with a red umbrella walking up some steps. I wrote the story but didn’t submit it. At least it was a beginning!

Soon afterwards I read Jonathan Coe's book The Rain Before It Falls (didn't finish it!) which at one point had someone describing photographs to a blind girl. There was a story in everything she described: the reason why the caravan was at an angle, the weather, the tree, the Spring flowers. This inspired me to start building a family story book on the photos I have in biscuit tins and ice-cream tubs. It was like stepping into a time machine with every picture; I recalled the occasion, the place, the people, the laughs, and the tears.  Needless to say this can leave one in a rather quiet and melancholic state of mind.

When my mother turned 70, we bought her a lever-arch file, a pad of paper and a brand new pen and instructed her to write down her life story! She was always saying things like: “When we were kids….”, or “Your Granddad used to….”.  She enjoyed the experience and we now have a lovely story of her childhood, early days of marriage, travels to a far away country, fears and aspirations. Although I’m nowhere near 70, I decided I needed to at least start on my own life story – for my children and still-to-come grandchildren!  I’ve got 67 pages, with a few photos, and haven’t yet got to the part of meeting my darling husband!

Fortunately I’m a diary writer. For my first Christmas after finishing school, my sister gave me a very small page-by-page diary to record my first impressions of working life. The following year I continued on note-pads – which are now falling apart and almost out of date order! Apart from quite a gap when my children were very small – which would probably have been good fun and the most interesting parts of a diary – I’ve sat each morning over coffee and breakfast and recorded frustrations, the weather, and family news, so it was easy to start writing a life-story, but it’s possibly also a life-long task!

And then to blogs ….. And a family website ….. And an internet-published story …. And a real published poem!
Come to think of it, I have a vague memory of saying I was “writing a story” as a 9 or 10 year old, so maybe the beginning is earlier than I thought!?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Chameleon Leaves

A bright yellow sun

Shines light on earth

The leaves glow harlequin and Kelly green,

Olive, Lime and Forest Green

So clean and sparkly

Polished and clean.

The seasons change and soon

The skies are paler blue

A little less sunshine

Coming through.

The leaves desert their lofty home

And lie in splendour

Bronzed and gold

The people “Ooh” and “Aah” again

As sparkling rust and orange red

Those same green leaves

lie changed



Pumpkin and Venetian red.

But very soon the skies are grey.

Our chameleon trades his hues

For amber, corn and school-bus-yellow

Chartreuse and poppy golden ochre copper

But come the rains and hail and snow

Those very stars of earth’s great show

Begin to fade

And bleach

And tear

Until you look

And nothing’s there.

And so the pattern continues on

From green to gold

To yellow and


Winter 2008 * Rose Kelland