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The Seasons of Love: autumn by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace #4)

11 Nov

 

Universe

 

The Seasons of Love: autumn

 

Foundations

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I turn the page, you stay put. It’s okay. We can do that, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be together; I tell myself this as a mantra when I sense that shift in either of us.

I like to drink until my head fizzes. Not every night, at the weekends. I like to discuss human nature, the world, the universe, its stars, galaxies, time-travel, or the possibility of other selves. You call it, talking about the “ins and outs of a rat’s arse”.

You like to earn money, and relish the challenge of persuading people to part with notes or coins. You start campaign groups after watching political debates. You separate out glass bottles from empty tins for the bin men, and remember more about the reality of everything. I admire your efficiency: you won’t waste a Joule on matter you can’t influence.

At night, we curl up and wait for the cat to come home. I balance a novel in one hand and rub your shoulders with the other. You watch documentaries until you can no longer keep your eyes open. You’re ready for bed before me. We’ve given up on compromise. Compromise means you get crabby and I’m wide awake at 3am.

I wait in the yard for the cat. I scan the night sky by the back door and try to count the stars. The cat makes his demands: supper and sofa. I rub my arms in the cold-spiked air, and am ready to return to the house.

I carry my novel and glasses upstairs, in case I wake before the alarm. I’m thinking of the duvet and its comfort. I imagine the feel of you shifting towards me, your half-conscious mutter that you love me, your breath hot on my neck, your arms tightening around my waist.

And like leaves in autumn everything falls away, leaving our skeletons in readiness for the next spell when light and warmth trigger buds to unfurl.

 

The Seasons of Love: autumn is the 4th of 4 short pieces by Shirley focusing on the theme of seasonal love.

You can find winter here, spring here and summer here.

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes. She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing. She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies. www.shirleygolden.net @shirl1001

Shirley’s debut novel, ‘Skyjacked’ is to be published by Urbane Publishing  in 2016.

Big thanks goes to Shirley for sharing her Seasons of Love series with us!

 

 

 

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‘Invocation’ and ‘Forward to the Americas’ by Carol Whittam (FreeSpace #3)

14 Oct

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I hope very much that readers liked my first 2 poetry slots. I have chosen a consistent theme to conclude my showcase: super-human bravery, endeavour in potentially life-threatening conditions, work from May 2014 which was inspired by a modern day ‘Viking’ ie an ex-pupil of mine (Matthew Mason) who, as part of an 8 man team, rowed the Atlantic from West Africa to Barbados. Each shift over 24 hours involved 2 men rowing for 2 hours (for a gruelling 30 days in 40+ heat) They rowed for personal challenge and charitable causes, missing the world record for such a team by a mere 7 hours. Messages and 4 poems were written as encouragement and sent by magic!

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‘Invocation’ was inspired by the name of the boat ‘Titan’ so I imagined how sailors of old would appeal to ancient gods, such as Oceanus, to assist their passage. The second poem: ‘Forward to the Americas!’ is self-explanatory and references ‘as did sailors of old’ hence the link with the Norsemen! 

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Invocation

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“Oceanus!
O son of the sky,
We call to you ….
Oceanus,
Blessed ruler of waters and seas.
With Earth as our mother
We heed you,
We men
Are a different breed.
But accepting our challenge
As Titans,
We set out
On primordial seas.

Oceanus!
Arise with a new dawn,
Re- light the bold fire
In our eyes
And blow with your breath
To inspire us …
And grant us a following wind!”

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Forward To The Americas

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As bare-skinned boys
With a fire in your eyes
You set out
With the heat of Africa
Across your shoulders :
“Forward to the Americas!”
To ‘Ichirouganaim’
(Called by the Ancient Ones)
-Red land with white teeth-
Your ‘Barbados’, tiny bearded gem
Set amongst coral reefs.

Far, far , and fathoms deep
Across an Ocean ridge,
Rowing with the heave
Of your heartbeats.
What do you see and hear
In the Silence?
Earth, Sky, Sea,
Stars, Moon, Sun.
And the sea,
Always, the Atlantic Sea.

You bare-skinned boys,
Armoured now,
With fire in your heads,
Hauling oars,
Against the law & the lure
Of the sea;
Skimming shoals, sharks & turtles,
Time-travelling
Across 200 million years
Of a spreading ocean floor
In the wake of Conquistadores.
Like them, carrying personal faiths
As your talisman.
But your family bonds
Are Your Gold!
As did sea-farers of old ,
You go forward
With navigational magic —
And now satellites — message
Heaven-sent words.

You have marked your place
In this vast Universe.
“Now go on!
Forward, t’ward the Americas!”

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Carol is a retired 3/4 Irish teacher of English, from Accrington, Lancashire, aged 62. Her love of drawing and painting … was overtaken by writing in the hectic course of her career. For 34 years she had the fun filled privilege of creating and selecting pieces to stimulate and facilitate children’s writing. Particularly fond memories remain of collaborative workshops ending in much appreciated performances….so, although she is not actively involved in social media …she was inspired to collaborate off the scene, becoming a ‘pupil’ by responding to the info posted by ArtiPeeps ( last year on Transformations) and for this year’s much bigger extravaganza on the Vikings. She found that following the crescendo of progress by tuning in, tends to promote infectious enthusiasm and the question: What would I make of that? (Who knows …but it is likely that there are others out there who had the same reaction!) In this situation, she says, “I find myself still thinking like a teacher considering a narrative style, offering a way in for the uninitiated by choosing a suitable voice which will address the reader directly whilst paying homage to the factual and emotional aspects of the subject. 

You can find Carol’s previous two FreeSpaces here and here

 

The Seasons of Love: summer by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace 3)

7 Oct

 

Conceptual cells

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The Seasons of Love: summer

 

Reboot

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He builds her, piece by piece. He doesn’t need to compare the image, grainy, not designed to display on current tech. He knows her by heart: violet eyes, long lashes, button nose, black silk hair and pale skin.

No one cares how the thing looks. He works for perfection but they’d be happy with bolts and big stitches. She needs to be wise and strong, obedient without question; something that will serve and protect; something that will adore, not destroy its creator.

He keys in height, based on estimation, body shape, based on his data entries – a combination of how he imagined, and the machine predicted, she would look.

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She’d run up the path, arms open to be captured by him. He’d scoop her into a bear hug and tell her he’d missed her. It won’t be forever, that’s what he told his wife. Contract work, high paid, away from Earth for months at a time. He’d stop when the code was complete – he promised – they were so close to a break-through. But that was getting old.

His wife didn’t trust bioelectronics. Where should one life finish before the other thing takes root? She wouldn’t allow them to test the implant when Isha got sick. The therapy was high risk with side-effects. But they both knew the alternative. His wife argued treatment was too much for her, too much for them. Let’s enjoy the time she has. He watched his daughter transform from flesh to threadbare.

After the service, his anger multiplied. He should have forced his wife to agree to the programme. He didn’t know who to be mad at, his wife or himself.

He stayed at work when they insisted he should go home.

***

His creation sits up and opens her eyes. ‘Hello,’ she says.

He can barely look, or look away. She’s a blur through his tears. Already he plans how to make more, hundreds, thousands; if one crashes, there’ll be another ready to spark into life. He pictures how they’ll spring, fully grown and armed, like Athena. And how, godlike, she’ll remain unchanged, like summer on playback forever.

 

The Seasons of Love: summer is the third of 4 short pieces by Shirley focusing on the theme of seasonal love.

You can find winter here and spring here

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes. She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing. She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies. www.shirleygolden.net @shirl1001

Watch out for the last season…. coming soon!

 

 

The Northlands by Carol Whittam (FreeSpace #2)

30 Sep

Vikings

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The Northlands

by Carol Whittam

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Out of the Northlands,
From that – huge before time
Before? When the world was new.
From that – ‘Once upon a time…
A deeply woven mythology grew –
When a man’s world was small.

Norsemen created their cosmos
…. As a world tree ….
Yggdrasil

To try to make sense of it all!

Heavens of stars,
Misty clouds and ice,
Dark chasms and wells below,
Whilst in the primordial centre,
A giant Ash tree started to grow!
Betwixt the Heavens & Hell,
Stretching and branching,
– Evergreen –
From gnarled roots
Deeply growing
Yggdrasil
Nine realms find!
Above, around and beneath
The tree’s gigantic girth,
One home in Midgard
For humankind,
The Viking farmers
Of
Middle Earth.

From thence sailed the brave,
– Leaving warm home fires –
Not knowing where they’d go!
Hauling wooden longships
Away from fire-stone, ice and snow;
Across serpent-ridden seas,
Steel-eyed, warrior minds,
Searching horizons, learning tides,
Battling storms, risking lives!
Crossing Utangard
Never knowing what they’d find!
Not knowing where they were going,
But knowing from whence they came:
Created from giant Ymir
Whom Odin ripped apart!
In sacrifice and renewal
He became their ancient sire.
In homelands formed of volcanic stone
Such folk were born with hearts of fire!
Their land was of his flesh,
Sacrificed to make their home.
Blood of blood and bone of bone.
O how his eyes made the sun glow!
O how his mind made the moon!
Powerful blood became water,
Breath of life the airy wind!
In this elemental world
Such Norsemen were born:
Born to be farming the land,
Born to be tested by waves,
Born with fire in their hearts,
They who were valiant and brave!

And Ymir, the life-bringer,
Sacrificial source of Earth,
The Heavens, the pounding waves of the sea!
And at the World’s centre, Firm and strong,
The mighty Ash: The Yggdrasil tree!
From this elemental world
Of the Northlands
These Vikings came!

 

 

Carol is a retired 3/4 Irish teacher of English, from Accrington, Lancashire, aged 62. Her love of drawing and painting … was overtaken by writing in the hectic course of her career. For 34 years she had the fun filled privilege of creating and selecting pieces to stimulate and facilitate children’s writing. Particularly fond memories remain of collaborative workshops ending in much appreciated performances….so, although she is not actively involved in social media …she was inspired to collaborate off the scene, becoming a ‘pupil’ by responding to the info posted by ArtiPeeps ( last year on Transformations) and for this year’s much bigger extravaganza on the Vikings. She found that following the crescendo of progress by tuning in, tends to promote infectious enthusiasm and the question: What would I make of that? (Who knows …but it is likely that there are others out there who had the same reaction!) In this situation, she says, “I find myself still thinking like a teacher considering a narrative style, offering a way in for the uninitiated by choosing a suitable voice which will address the reader directly whilst paying homage to the factual and emotional aspects of the subject. 

The poem above evolved from taking that approach and looking at some of the lovely Viking imagery and visualisations of the Yggdrassil tree on line. I had fun writing them and offer them retrospectively!

 

Watch out for a third piece from Carol in the near future….

A Mother Sings To Her Fatherless Child by Carol Whittam (FreeSpace #1)

22 Sep

yggdrasil-bronze

 

 

A Mother Sings To Her Fatherless Child

by Carol Whittam

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You came as our human child –
How can I make you understand?
For you are just a boy
Who fights to become a man.

So soon – you are knowing!
Growing, in this harsh North land of ice and fire,
Our earth, this realm of Midgard.

You came from valiant seed
Planted in a warrior’s tryst
Where Dragonboats, moored in rustling reeds,
Set out to sea
In the thawing of the year.

That year no ships returned.
Then sorrow crowned your head
As you were born my fatherless child,
Protected by his homestead fence.

In the glory of the midnight sun
We sensed his strength, now living on –
In you, my special one!

And you received his spirit
When bedded deep
In steaming straw, in warrior halls
Where mead ran sweet on victors’ lips
And the dark walls sang.

Sharpen to ancestral tones,
Tune your ear to heroic tales;
Round Thingstead fires hear wisdom
As your Father’s name sounds loud!
Your time will come!
You too will be a Viking king!

Watch hauled ships
On turning tides
Proud-set for lands anew,
See his face in valiant men,
Understand the things he knew:
Runic stones bring portents good,
Whetted swords raise battle cries,
Ever on, t‘ward lands afar
And the unknown chaos of Utangard!

Gaze South
O’er sunlit waves
On serpent troubled seas,
Dream wild
Strange shores,
You Viking boy –
This future – Yours!
Your time will come.
You will be a Viking King;

Yes – You will hear Valhalla ring!

 

Carol is a retired 3/4 Irish teacher of English, from Accrington, Lancashire, aged 62. Her love of drawing and painting … was overtaken by writing in the hectic course of her career. For 34 years she had the fun filled privilege of creating and selecting pieces to stimulate and facilitate children’s writing. Particularly fond memories remain of collaborative workshops ending in much appreciated performances….so, although she is not actively involved in social media …she was inspired to collaborate off the scene, becoming a ‘pupil’ by responding to the info posted by ArtiPeeps ( last year on Transformations) and for this year’s much bigger extravaganza on the Vikings. She found that following the crescendo of progress by tuning in, tends to promote infectious enthusiasm and the question: What would I make of that? (Who knows …but it is likely that there are others out there who had the same reaction!) In this situation, she says, “I find myself still thinking like a teacher considering a narrative style, offering a way in for the uninitiated by choosing a suitable voice which will address the reader directly whilst paying homage to the factual and emotional aspects of the subject. 

The poem above evolved from taking that approach and looking at some of the lovely Viking imagery and visualisations of the Yggdrassil tree on line. I had fun writing them and offer them retrospectively!

 

A second of Carol’s Norse-themed poems will be posted on Wednesday 30th September. We’re so pleased Carol has found The Nine Realms a springboard for her creativity. 

The Seasons of Love: spring by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace 2)

8 Sep

Shirley's FreeSpace Picture 2

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The Seasons of love: spring

Afterwards

Dana can’t cry, not in front of everyone. Bradley breaks down a couple of times. He leans against his wife and children for support. Dana holds onto the front row pew as the coffin appears. The service wasn’t her idea. She’d have preferred a woodland clearing surrounded by oaks and beech, the whisper of a breeze disturbing new shoots and a carpet of bluebells. But it was November.

Instead, she stands to sing, ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’. She mouths the words, never comfortable with singing out loud, and listens to the rain lash against stained glass. She checks her watch, no need to retrieve the ten o’clock pills from their box. Her fingers twitch.

Bradley said she looked tired and asked about the Will. She’d gone grey since the last time they met. He used to phone once a week. Their mother would wait for his call while Dana ran her bath or made sure she had the right sized clippers for toenails. The rest of her evening consisted of drying, moisturising and plucking, whilst her mother reeled off Bradley’s achievements: his commercial appearances, his talented children and wife, his house, his car, his fancy suits.

Dana had fallen in love, years before with an entrepreneurial man, but she was never a part of his long-term plans. She retreated into her paintings. Her mother referred to her work as ‘Dana’s little hobby’. At first Dana took it as an expression of interest and would show her the pieces she was working on. Her mother would glance at them and talk about the time she won the school trophy for her collage. So Dana stopped doing that long before her mother lost hold of reality.

Their mother forgot when she was supposed to wait by the phone for Bradley’s call, so she’d sit close to the handset every day. Dana tried to persuade her that she could carry it in her pocket, but her mother didn’t trust that. Bradley’s calls became less frequent.

Dana ran baths, cooked meals and clipped nails.

She kept the trimmings, and stained them a multitude of colours, creating a page of flowers from her mother’s offcuts: bone-thin crocus petals, bursting from layered, green, convex stems.

She never showed anyone but intended to hang the piece on an east facing wall once she had secured a bright dwelling of her own. After the funeral, once everyone else had forgotten.

 

The Seasons of Spring is the second of 4 short pieces by Shirley focusing on the theme of seasonal love.

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes. She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing.She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies. www.shirleygolden.net @shirl1001

 

There will be another 2 seasons to come so watch this space!

 

 

The Seasons of Love: winter by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace #1)

13 Aug

Welcome to the first of 4 FreeSpaces featuring fiction writer Shirley Golden who, over the next few months ahead, will be sharing 4 pieces of fiction around the theme of seasonal love. Here’s her first piece:

 

Shimmering

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The Seasons of Love (winter)

SAD

by Shirley Golden

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He wanted to ride all the time, feel the air, driven tepid by speed. She’d cling to his back and watch scorched wheat fields pass. They’d stop, if she begged him to sunbathe in the grass, pour melted iced water from wet plastic bottles over the other one’s throat. She liked the way the liquid pooled into his jugular notch. They never stayed still for long.

The roads were slimy with heat.

She can still hear the crack and blister of tarmac, the spark of metal and snap of bone on road.

When hot weather descends, she draws down the blinds, turns up the air-conditioning, and retreats from stark chinks of light.

It doesn’t take much to pretend that she’s caught in dead winter’s grasp.

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First published by Visual Verse

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes.  She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing.  She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies.

shirleygolden.net

@shirl1001

 

Image: Shimmering Lights on Sumida River by outakuwannabe

 

More soon….

 

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