Tag Archives: new writing

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!

 

 

 

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.

***

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 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….

 

Alfheim: Movement and Light 3/4 The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

15 Jul

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 19 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

.

Alfheim

(the realm of the Elves)

Featuring:

Nat Hall, Lenka Monk and Jim C Mackintosh

 

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Guardian Angel from the Ninth Realm

by Nat Hall

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You,
luminous loving being,
so much more than a thousand suns in
darkest corner of my head,
you are sensitive to
my tears,
so far away from fern, foliage,
evergreen feel of
thick forest,
Light Bokeh style –
the untouched side of Freyr’s world…
To
avoid eyes,
hiss and whisper from
haunting mare,
my mantelpiece littered with stones
I once collected from a now
dormant volcano where
hardened rock dances with salt,
leaping fury from young ocean,
I light candles night after night,
chisel your smile out of cold wax, and
seek wisdom out of
a match.
You,
luminous loving being,
you rescued me from the cliff edge.

.

.

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And lead me to temptation

by Lenka Monk

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Inspired by story of Freyr and Gerðr

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Through the eyeglass, inner mist
Tempted fate, now I can’t resist
Lips that haunt, curves that taunt
A tortured sigh.

In a drunken fog, endless hunger
Bittersweet taste, spell I’m under
asunder bursting mind, lifetimes find
A Divine comedy.

Wrong feels right, heartbeat elevates
one lustful look, reason obliterates
Resonates with force, no remorse
A string less puppet.

The heart, the insurgent of reason
that beautiful face, led it to treason
seasoned sixth sense, forget consequence
A complete surrender.

.

.

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under the heavens dome

by Jim C. Mackintosh

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under the heavens dome
the halls tower in this place
where maddened spirits bind
the claws of ravens haunting
blind trees and bright rooms
enclosing his hypnotic power
unseen to those for whom life past

beneath the high throne of Freyr
circled by meadow throngs
floating on pillows of gold
the words of the wish-giver
in bundles tied with sinews
of outlaws crucified on the way
speared in the crossfire of elf shot

felled in the grapple of light where
dark elves stripped them of belief
a thin path winds through briar rose
where a thousand eyes, black spots
in the gloom sense the fear
dripping from the pilgrims folly
seeking to kiss the feet of Freyr

yet destined to leave empty handed
happy to escape the elven grasp
to answer their quest elsewhere
and rid themselves of this brothel
built in the tangle of angels hair
nourished by the rot of souls
quietly disappeared, lost forever

in remote corners of all realms
where the light elves prey upon
battle weary warriors, robbing them
of their exhausted glory to light
the bloodied moss halls of Alfheim
their fine mesh weave of gold to
line the dark walls of winter nights

under the canopy where Freyr sleeps
and confused sayers fall at his gaze
fighting over the scraps he scatters
in return for the lure of his mystery
/ so why are you still here?
so why do you believe this sermon
will lead you to anything but your betrayal?

through the valleys of temptation
they will swoop down and lift your eyes
to where the single, deadly snake coils
hissing promises of everlasting glory
a ticket to cross the rainbow, only to die
under the wheels of martyrdom
to be denied by your band of brothers

where the Gods assemble to divide
the spoils of your blood and tears
gathered by the scrum of vultures
/ let your death join me
in the salvation of our tomorrows, free
from the shores of false dawns
where your heart will awaken

in sanctuary from blunted threats
where the earth and the sea and
the stone and the roots and the rain
are true and the stag will roar again
and the kiss of blood, the unity
of your ken folk will ease
your righteous birth once more

.

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Find out more about Nat, Lenka and Jim here:

Nat Hall

https://twitter.com/nordicblackbird

nordicblackbird.weebly.com

Lenka Monk

Contact ArtiPeeps

 

Jim C. Mackintosh

bigbaffy.com

https://twitter.com/JimCMackintosh

 

As always, thank you for your interest.

 

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Alfheim: Movement and Light 2/4 The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

10 Jul

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 19 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

.

Alfheim

(the realm of the Elves)

Featuring:

Tom Murphy and Eleanor Perry

 

Alfheim

by Tom Murphy

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inside the fence
I know you as I walk towards me
seeing everything through your eye
I see it on my face
as you step into the firelight
we smile the same smile
as you look at me
and see the toll you’ve still to pay
you see the sons we will sire
the daughter we lost
the eye you have yet to lose

in my pocket
I have the apple I will offer you
before you offer yourself
the ninth knot

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washrag nouns

by Eleanor Perry

Snipped washrag

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Find out more about Tom and Eleanor here:

Tom Murphy

https://twitter.com/sandcave

 

Eleanor Perry

https://twitter.com/nellperry

 

As always, thank you for your interest.

 

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Alfheim: Movement and Light 1/4 The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

30 Jun

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 19 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

.

Alfheim

(the realm of the Elves)

Featuring:

Shirley Golden  and  Joanna Lee

 

 Fairer than the Sun

by Shirley Golden

.

I feel the pull of it. I slip in through the crack between mortar and sill.

The child sleeps across the room, mouth partially open, revealing the missing lower, front incisor. His bedroom is dimly lit by a nightlight, not that I need light to find my way. I step over an action figure in combat gear, face down, still clutching his gun. I smell mint toothpaste, milk and talcum powder.

In a single bound, I land on the graphic print Superman beanbag. I don’t need wings.

Lego and train track sprawl across the floor. I skip around the boy-sized teddy bear and freeze. Loki points at me with one hand, his sceptre in the other, a green cape flows across bronze-coloured armour.

It takes me a moment to see, he is just another toy. I gain pleasure in pulling faces at him without fear. I step closer, remove his dagger and chop, chop at his synthetic, black locks. I admire my handiwork, not so handsome now, punk god.

I climb a stack of books and puzzle boxes, and make my way along the duvet, towards the child’s pillow. He whimpers in his sleep as if my presence has snaked into his dreams. He’s left a note. Dear tooth fairy, I really good like Mummy told me. Please leave a pound. Sam x.

Fleet of foot and nimble, I search, fingers reaching, clawing until I find my treasure, and I grin.

Back on the window sill, I brush fairy dust off my palms, spit on the coin and buff until it shines. Quite a night’s work; Freyr will be pleased. I slip out of the crack between mortar and sill without a backward glance.

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To light up a sky that never ends

by Joanna Lee

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An early summer comes dappling
over green banks, as hard to cup
in human fingers
on the heels of May’s cruel caress
as the wide-blue of childhood memory;
as a lust poem bathed in riverlight
after all these lonely months;
as heaven to those
with no faith left. Yet

the sunshine is so real you can almost touch it,
and the dawn’s blushing break
like waves on a white sand paradise
holds out the hope
of Ju-ly fireflies luminous
enough to light up
a sky that never ends, enough
to make you believe in magic
once more.

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Find out more about Shirley and Joanna here:

 

Shirley Golden

shirleygolden.net

https://twitter.com/shirl1001

Joanna Lee

 https://twitter.com/la_poetessa
the-tenth-muse.com

 

As always, thank you for your interest.

 

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Midgard: Survival and Destruction 3/4 The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

24 Jun

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 19 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

.

Midgard

(the realm of the people)

Featuring:

Nat Hall, Tom Murphy and Joanna Lee

 

Tun & Scattald

by Nat Hall

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Garth,
fae da Old Norse,
an arrangement of long houses with 
smoky stacks,
where farmers grind their
daily grain,
man’s wheel of life around
fire, sun and
seasons,
Voar-Simmer-Hairst [1]
to tame the land,
plant-grow-harvest
before black
leanness
of
winter. 
Around
this lush realm for mortals,
they build their ting [2]
and chamber 
cairns, [3]
harvest from the sea & the land –
scrutinise waves & horizon from
basalt edges of
old rocks,
share
their home with
wandering dead in between
stars & Northern lights.
On either side of
dry stone wall,
tun and scattald [4]
feel a safe 
world:
a
place to be born & to die,
raise your offspring with each harvest,
write your story on
every stone –
that perfect realm
you can call
“home”.

© Nat Hall 2015

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Notes:
[1] voar-simmer-hairst: [Shetland dialect] spring-summer-autumn
[2] ting: Viking field of parliament 
[3] chamber cairn: old funeral chamber 
[4] tun & scattald: the inner & outer side of an enclosed human settlement, traditionally with a stone wall.

.

 

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Midgard

by Tom Murphy

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ripe garden
shallow pool
wet grass
branch
root
peach
plum

sweet nectar dripping on the floor

as the straps tighten
as the moan escapes
as if uttered by someone else

into the melt
the cotton sticks to your back
soft and slubbed
under her fingers

 

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The realm of men

by Joanna Lee

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They laid the body of the firstborn
into the void of the Universe:
his flesh became land;
his blood, oceans;
his bones, mountains;
his hair, trees.

His skull they held still:
the four points
of the compass, empty.
They shook out his brains
and flung them wide to become
the cottony stuff of clouds.

Perhaps this is why
we, shaped from the dead
hewn hunks of elm and ash,
our home girded by the eyebrows
of giants, hold
such preoccupation

with our own skins.
A world encircled
by a serpent has no need
for creation myths
of temptation and flood,
no; we pluck at our bodies,

pick at imperfections,
dream of shedding
and of rainbow bridges; cut
ourselves, re-shape our-
selves, mold, curb, color, smoothe,
tug, press, hack, squeeze

out our skulls and fling
our brains over the edge
of believability, looking only
to look in the mirror
with satisfaction, looking
only to live forever.

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Find out more about Nat, Tom and Joanna here:

Nat Hall

nordicblackbird.weebly.com

https://twitter.com/nordicblackbird

Tom Murphy

https://twitter.com/sandcave

Joanna Lee

the-tenth-muse.com

https://twitter.com/la_poetessa

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As always, thank you for your interest.

 

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Midgard: Survival and Destruction 2/4 The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

18 Jun

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 19 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat: a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

.

Midgard

(the realm of the people)

Featuring:

Mina Polen and Shirley Golden

 

.

It is there

by Mina Polen

.

Can you see it?

It is there with its days and its nights
with its darkness and its light
with its cold and its warmth
with its love and its hate
with its poison and its cure

can you see it?

right there in the middle
right there by the sea
right there being born
right there being destroyed

can you see it?

it is the place that falls
it is the place that rises
it is the place far away from the gods

can you see it?
it is right over there

it is the place
it is there
it is life
it is us.

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Duck, Cover, Hold 

by Shirley Golden

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He’s not a hero. He’s not a god.

The press form a small circle around me, and a larger one around him. He smiles and his eyes glint red and gold. Beneath our feet broken glass glistens in crystal rainbow shards, the bridge between what was and is. Buildings and pavements are crazy with zigzag cracks, hairline splits and yawns. Photographers lean into chasms to take the best shots, the ones that show the magnitude of devastation and include graffiti artwork in the backdrop. They highlight cars, taxis and trams tangled in heaps, discarded toys in the San Francisco streets.

Someone placed a blanket around my shoulders but I’m cold to the core. The medics abandon me to attend more pressing cases. Reporters open notepads and ready pens to construct the story they want to tell, a tall one about a trickster whom they’ll cast as a god.

But it started long before the rumble and shock. He appeared, as if magically birthed from another realm. He was good at talking his way into things, and better at slipping out. He secured his position with forward-thinking, technical skills and a silver tongue. He was expert at delegation and liked to shake things up. He watched us with a keen eye, but never was one of us. There were times I imagined he mocked us all. But I kept my mouth shut and did as he said. One time he told me the end of the world was near, and he shook his fists as if caught by the entrails of invisible bindings, as if they might be holding him from starting an apocalypse himself.

We were in a meeting with the boss when a cellophane sandwich wrapper started to tremor. From flutter to flurry, tremble to quake, cabinet drawers exploded and pictures pirouetted off walls.

The boss said, ‘Down! Find cover! And something to hold.’

The boss squashed under his desk. I crawled beneath the sofa and embraced radiator spines. And he writhed beneath the table and held fast to legs. Pens fired like arrows. The printer squirmed towards the edge of the desktop its progress interrupted by a mangle of wires. The plug broke loose from the wall, and its crash-landing preceded a flurry of blank page debris. The floor abandoned its horizontal certainty. And the desk was carried off by a wave of displacement; the boss sailed with it, tumbling towards a chasm.

I glanced at him. I saw only that gleam in his eyes. I shan’t say he didn’t try. I couldn’t be sure of anything, except the fury of falling apart.

Once the tremor settled, he emerged from rubble.

“The boss?” I said.

“There was nothing we could do.”

He found the best escape route. I was grateful for his instinct of slithering free.

In the aftermath, he worked tirelessly; superhuman in his quest. To the press, he spoke with just the right measure of sorrow and determination. He moved into the boss’s old office, bolted a desk to the floor. Everything slotted back into place. The city rebuilt around us, higher than ever with further to fall.

I remember his knuckled whites, gripping the table leg. How he observed us as our world fell apart. The sneer of satisfaction he thought I didn’t see. Imagined? Perhaps.

He’s no hero. He’s no god. He dwells in a place in-between. He waits for his moment. Advice? Keep low. Cover head. Cling on.

.

 

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Find out more about Mina and Shirley here:

Mina Polen

aldebaranylosnarvales.blogspot.com

https://twitter.com/minafiction

 

Shirley Golden

shirleygolden.net

https://twitter.com/shirl1001

 

 

 

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As always, thank you for your interest.

 

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Realm 7: Muspelheim – Overview and writing prompts, The Nine Realms, an ArtiPeeps Combined Arts Collaboration 2014-2015

14 Apr

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 19 poets and writers, 23 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat

 a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

Muspelheim

(the realm of fire)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

Here we are in the middle of April,  with the deadline for the poetry and writing for the 6th realm Helheim Thursday 16th April. I shall be posting out the remaining Nifelheim poems this week and then Helheim the week after.  This month we are outlining the realm of Muspelheim. The deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for this realm is Monday 11th May.

These monthly posts will draw from a range of primary and secondary source materials and focus on selected gods, themes and stories that circle around the highlighted realm. They will not attempt to cover everything, and writers can embrace any other stories and characters within their writing which is not covered. Month by month we will be building our own magical, contemporary norse world whilst exploring the themes of POWER, NATURE and RELIGION. The project’s overall intention is to embrace orality, translation, storytelling and rhythm all of which are inspired by the origins of the oral tradition of the Norse Sagas.

I may well put out little mini-posts intermittently focusing on orality and poetic form as necessary.  

What is presented below is designed to inspire, present basic information and offer a starting point for individual creativity within the project inspired by the themes, characters and spirit of the myths and stories.

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Surtr

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1. A brief  Overview of Muspelheim

Mentions of Muspelheim and Surt/Surtr are sparing within The Poetic Edda and The Prose Edda, and primarily, it seems, centred around Ragnarök

Muspelheim was to the North of Ginnungagup, the large chasm at the beginning of the world, where Surt/Surtr, ‘the swarthy one’, the fire god, stands guard with a flaming sword. It is where the Gods, as the world was created, scattered sparks across the sky as stars (Allan: 34). Muspelheim is fire; and the land to the North, Niflheim, is ice. The two mixed and created water from the melting ice in Ginnungagap. The sun and the stars originate from Muspelheim. The residents of Muspelheim are known as  the eldjötnar (“Fire Giants“). They are also known  by other names in Eddic poetry, such as the Múspellssynir (or Múspellsmegir — “sons of Muspell”) and the Rjúfendr (from rjúfa — “to break, tear asunder”, Destroyers of Doomsday). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muspelheim

In The Prose Edda, In chapter 4,  the  Gylfaginning, the enthroned figure of Third tells Gangleri (described as King Gylfi in disguise) that the flaming region existed prior to Niflheim, and is impassable to those who are not born to the realm. To protect Muspelheim Surt/Surtr is stationed at its frontier.

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 2. Surt

220px-Surtur_mit_dem_Flammenschwerte

Surt with flaming sword

 

Surt/Surtr plays a major role in the tra.jectory towards Ragnarök, through his battles against the Æsir,  fighting particularly with  Freyr. The fire that Surt engenders engulfs the Earth in its final moments of existence (before it is reborn).

Norse Academic Simek says that “in Iceland Surtr was obviously thought of as being a mighty giant who ruled the powers of the (volcanic) fire of the Underworld”,

Surt/Surtr is mentioned twice in the The Prose Edda particularly the Völuspá, where a völva (a Seer) states that Surt/Surtr will come from the south with flames, carrying a  bright sword:

 

Sutr ferr sunnan
með sviga lævi:
skinn af sverði
sól valtiva.
 

Surtr moves from the south
with the scathe of branches:
there shines from his sword
the sun of Gods of the Slain. 
Dronke (1997:21).

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There are few details given about the fight between Surt/Surtr and Freyr in the Völuspá .The poem focuses more on how Odin is to be killed by the wolf Fenrir.  However, it is mentioned that Surtr will go to battle against “Beli’s bane”, a kenning for the god Freyr, who slew the giant Beli.

You can find the whole Völuspá  here

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3.   Ragnarök  and Surt/Surtr

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According to the Ragnarök predictions in the Gylfaginning, the sons of Muspell , the fire giants, will break the Bifröst bridge, signalling the end of times:

In the midst of this clash and din the heavens are rent in twain, and the sons of Muspell come riding through the opening. Surtr rides first, and before him and after him flames burning fire. He has a very good sword, which shines brighter than the sun. As they ride over Bifrost it breaks to pieces, as has before been stated. The sons of Muspel direct their course to the plain which is called Vigrid…. The sons of Muspel have there effulgent bands alone by themselves.

You can find the whole of the Gylfaginning here

The story goes that Surt/Surtr  will come via land  and ride over Bifrost, the rainbow bridge, to Asgard. Here the armies of the gods and giants will meet for one last battle. It is where Surt/Surtr remains until the end,  and once Heimdallr and Loki fight ( killing one another), Surt/Surtr flings fire over the world so that both men and gods will perish in an overwhelming sea (Ellis Davison: 38).

The sun becomes dark. Earth sinks in the sea.

The shining stars slip out of the sky.

Vapour and fire rage fiercely together,

till the leaping flame licks heaven itself

(ibid)

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4. Sinmara

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Sinmara by Jenny Nystrom

Sinmara by Jenny Nystrom

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Is a female who is often considered to be a companion of Surt/Surtr. A mention of her can be found in the poem Fjölsvinnsmál (The Sayings of  Fjölsvinnr) where she is said to have a weapon called Lævateinn which is considered a kenning for a sword, ‘damage tree’. Her name, mara, may be linked to”(night-) mare”, and the two figures together can be seen as quite a powerful combination.

Here is a section from Fjölsvinnsmál: 

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Benjamin Thorpe’s translation:
26. Tell me, Fiölsvith! etc.
whether there be any weapon,
before which Vidofnir may
fall to Hel´s abode?
27. Hævatein the twig is named,
and Lopt plucked it,
down by the gate of Death.
In an iron chest it lies
with Sinmoera,
and is with nine strong locks secured.
Henry Adams Bellows translation:
41. Svipdag spake:
“Now answer me, Fjolsvith, the question I ask,
For now the truth would I know:
What weapon can send Vithofnir to seek
The house of Hel below?”
42. Fjolsvith spake:
“Lævatein is there, that Lopt with runes
Once made by the doors of death;
In Lægjarn’s chest by Sinmora lies it,
And nine locks fasten it firm.”
 

See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinmara

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Themes, Relevance and Questions:

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Life,  Death, heat and renewal: 

Interestingly, many connections have been made between Ragnarök and Christian Notions of Judgement Day. Fire and burning have played a large part in many religious ceremonies and rites for 100s of years.  A cycling of conflict, punishment and then renewal. Fire keeps us warm, but equally fire is volatile and chaotic if untamed. Surt/Surtr and Muspelheim could be seen as a symbol for that volatility,  and when they reach Asgard- might meets might!

There is something very intense and dynamic about heat, about flames. There can be warmth and comfort, but if fire gets out of control there can equally be searing, skin burning, pain. Surt/Surtr and fire are what we have at the end of the world just before the new world begins.  The new world begins not with ease, but through a clash of force, devastation and power.

 Exploration Point: Take a look through The Prose and Poetic Eddas and track how fire is used within the stories. Are there any patterns? What symbolism does it have? 

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Things of Interest:

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1.  The Road To Asgard: BiFrost:

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 2.  Three videos about Jesse Byock’s (the translator of the Penguin Classic edition of The Prose Edda) multi-disciplinary research which combines the sagas, history and archaeology

Part 1

Part 2

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Part 3

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Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Curtal Sonnet

Established by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and is a ten-and-a-half line form,  a sonnet but three-quarters the size. Hopkins’ poem Pied Beauty is an example.

The rhyming scheme is abcabcdbcdc or abcabcdcbdc.

See here for more details.

Writing Word Prompts:  Tormentors, Unfinished, Moment, Burst, Climb, Universal,  Destiny, Helmet, Hearts

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To confirm, the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for the Muspelheim realm is Monday 11th May 2015.

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 Thank you so much for your interest.

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References

 Allan, T (2010) Vikings, The Battle at the End of Time, London: Watkins Publishing

Crossley-Holland, K (1993) The Penguin Book of Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings, London, Penguin Books

Dronke, Ursula (Trans.) (1997). The Poetic Edda: Volume II: Mythological Poems. Oxford University Press.

Ellis Davidson, H.R. (1990) Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, Penguin Books

Hollander, L.M. (1996) tr. The Poetic Edda, Austin: University of Texas Press

Larrington, C. (1996) tr. The Poetic Edda, Oxford University Press

Simek, Rudolf (2007) Dictionary of Northern Mythology,Translated by Angela Hall. D.S. Brewer

Sturluson, S. (2005) The Prose Edda, Penguin Classics, tr. Jesse L. Byock

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