Rivers Of Consciousness

Don't worry, be happy. Who knows what may happen?

Archive for the tag “Winter”

Shielded From Snow


In a city tunnel, shielded from snow
Your lips sealed the terms, so now you are mine.
I am never going to let you go.

Your nervous laugh, shy smile, they let me know
That fear will not crush. Yeah, we’ll be just fine
In that city tunnel, shielded from snow.

Your roots anchor me, so now we can grow
United, unbroken, fingers entwined.
I am never going to let you go.

My chilled bones accept your welcoming glow,
My winter’s frost shattered by eyes that shine
In a city tunnel, shielded from snow.

Sincere expressions, it’s not just for show
You now break the boundaries I designed,
So I’m never going to let you go.

The bear’s courage, gentle grace of the doe –
Steady hands guiding me through troubled times,
In a city tunnel, shielded from snow.
I am never going to let you go.


A villanelle from December which I submitted for assessment, I’m pleased with the result I got 🙂

Image source:

Keep Out

Blogger Sethsnap often posts photographic story prompts, where followers are invited to take an image he has taken as inspiration for a story/poem/creative writing outlet. I often read the contributions but have never taken part myself, until now. It was a fun little exercise which I recommend, whether you want to break Writers’ Block or have fun trying your hand at something creative.

The original post: http://sethsnap.com/2013/01/28/your-storykeep-out/


Crestfallen, she ran her hand through the unruly halo of hair that tumbles down her back. It wasn’t there before, honest Teddy. Hopping from foot to foot, she chewed her bottom lip indecisively. ‘KEEP OUT’. The words taunted her from a foot above her head. She hugged Teddy to her chest, pulling the scarf wound around her thin neck tighter. ‘PRIVATE PROPERTY’. Glancing around, she sighed. Why? It’s not fair! No-one ever comes here, not anymore. Her coarse boots barely made a sound as she crept forward, the snow muffling her footsteps into a dull, softened padding. She had been down this track a thousand million times, twirling with autumn leaves and singing the springtime bird calls. But now, in the biting wind desolation of winter, her playground was forbidden. The land was no longer anonymous, and this sign built a barrier between her path home and her path to serenity, found in the deep, cave-like knotted undergrowth. Her heart pounded in her chest. She had never broken the rules before, at least not like this. Of course, she had swiped chocolate from the pantry and stayed up past bedtime before, but this was different. Big, scary world kind of different. Temptation snaked into her mind. She had been here every day for a nearly a year, one sign was not going to change that. Full of resolution, she took a step forward.
Behind her, a flock of birds screamed into the air suddenly, a cloud of distress fleeing from an unknown disturbance. Startled, she crouched like a tribal hunter, alert, poised and steady. Eyes wide, they scanned the shadows, but though they found nothing, she did not feel at ease. Her chest heaved with nerves, the bellows to the fire of fear. There was no way she was going back home now, not past those trees. She had seen a fox once, evil beady eyes staring at her while his tongue flickered across pointed teeth, and she had screamed, scaring it away. She didn’t want to see one today, not a fox, or, or worse. Facing the track once more, she glanced at the imposing sign with a deep breath, before darting with the agility only a frightened child could possess into her familiar haven. A puff of snow kicked up a wake behind her as she ran, leaving the sign at its watchtower as she disappeared deeper down the track. She didn’t hear the snap of twigs. She didn’t see the sliding shadow gliding from the tree-line to the track. She didn’t see the dark silhouette facing of the entrance to her beloved forest. She only saw her breath rising before her, the twists of the path guiding her further until it turned sharply to the right. She didn’t keep following it. She pushed herself straight on, tearing through the lower branches of skyscraper trees until her den came into view. Trembling, she slipped between the boulder and the tree stump into the dipped den, pressing her stomach to the frosted dirt floor. She leant her forehead on Teddy, praying each punch of her heart didn’t reveal her hiding place. She’d be safe here, right? 

Would you rather…


When relaxing with my housemates yesterday, we embarked on the classic game of ‘Would you rather…’ to pass the time (I think it originated from ‘would you rather have arms for legs or legs for arms?’ – arms for legs of course!) Quickly running out of comparisons, we enlisted the help of one of many websites that generate these binary oppositions and briefly entertained ourselves with debating this or that. Of course, we couldn’t leave it black and white, we had to inject some grey areas of ‘it depends if…’ or ‘do they mean…’ to see if we could find a loophole ourselves.

One example was:

Would you rather…

Never read a book again OR never hear music again?

I decided I would rather never read a book again, on the basis of the loophole that exists – the wonderful world of audio books. But of course, this is not truly satisfactory.

I have pondered over this question more than others we had asked, because I can honestly say I have no idea which would be better, or rather, which would be worse. I mean, think about it from my point of view. I love books. I’m studying a degree in English, for crying out loud. While not every book inspires my life, and I certainly don’t hold some of the ‘Classics’ in as high regard as they receive, there’s still something so attractive about reading a book.

Picture this: it’s a freezing cold day in winter. You can’t feel your hands, and in fact you’ve pretty much convinced yourself that you have frostbite in your fingertips now. Your jeans are damp from the rain you trudged through and the splash by that puddle at the bottom of the garden path you always forget about. The key seems to take an age to find its home in the lock, delaying your return to sanctuary. You practically fall through the door, dropping the stack of paper you had been clutching and the ten-tonne bag on to the floor, entering your domain in a far from graceful manner. A sigh. Scooping everything back up, you make it to your bedroom and drop everything on the desk, rubbing your hands and seeking the warmth of your radiator. A trip to the kitchen for that much-needed cup of tea, slightly sweeter than normal, and returning to the bedroom. You change out of your clinging wet clothes and throw on those old fluffy pyjamas you probably should’ve thrown out years ago. The steam from the tea warms your face as you tentatively take a sip, careful not to scold your cold chapped lips. Perched on the end of your bed, you pick up the book you’ve been dying to read, flicking the pages with your thumb like a flip book. Unconsciously leaning back against your pillows, you open the cover. The traces of set jaw and frown fade the stress of your day away, and you visibly relax. The marching procession of curves, lines and dots parade the page, hooking a lasso around your mind and tugging you in. That’s it, you’re found.

You’re found in a world only you can build, guided by an unknown entity which presents to you a skeleton, which you alone can flesh out. You meet people you don’t realise you already know, their faces sculpted by the thousand faces you pass each day in the street. You discover which ones you like, relate to, are attracted to – and their opposites. You get sucked in to a whole universe of someone else’s life, following their days and relationships, their emotions. But their emotions are your emotions. You feel tense when they tighten up, worry when it all falls apart, celebrate when they fix it back up, and wonder what will happen next. You might meet their Mum or Dad, a close friend, or fall in love with their perfect match. A perfect match who, coincidentally, just happens to tick all of your own boxes. Perhaps they travel the world, get in a fight, rob a bank, save the day, who knows what could happen in this place. You walk their streets, wear their clothes, say their words, you think their thoughts. The edges are a little blurred now, who starts where?

At some point, you are jolted back to reality, catapulted into Today, landing with a bump into Now. Looking around your room, you find yourself pondering the latest events of the book. What would you do? How’s it all gonna figure out?  Without realising, you’ve shoved your feet into a cocoon in the duvet, you’re led practically in the foetal position and yep, when you go to take another sip you find you’ve finished you’re cup of tea already. An hour has slipped you by. The tasks you were supposed to do are now calling your name fervently, but it doesn’t seem so hard now. Even the sun seems to have repelled the rain for a while. You get up and continue with your evening, but in the back of your mind a little door creaks open, a face peeping out with a ‘pssst!’ beckoning you back into their world.


Image source:


Together Again

old couple

I smile at you now as I always have,
cheeks pinched by nature’s fingernails.
Your eyes don’t see me well anymore,
but somehow, somehow you know I’m still there.
My lungs’ vapour squeezes through my parted lips,
spinning fluidly into an arabesque and then,
Invisible to the eye, yet mingled with the oxygen
pumped to you by life-saving devices that have never lived.

I am haloed by an amber glow.
It’s a warm palette against my iced skin,
tinting me the shades of the old oak tree by the river,
when it would erupt a last-ditch attempt at radiance
with blazed leaves, fading out with a flourish
to reveal the charcoal skeleton beneath.
Your frail fingers caress my face, knuckles bulbous
like the gnarled branches from that winter walk.

Our children are talking, chattering, babbling;
trying to stamp the silences that seep slowly
through you into the room’s monotony.
They know, though they will never say.
They see me too, clasped in your hand, obscured by your tag.
Sympathetic smiles and a bittersweet kiss signal the goodbye,
tears gathered in the hollows of a throat, choking them and you.
Don’t cry darling, it won’t be long now.

One click, as resonant as a gunshot and yet,
more dignified.
My arms are open wide: I’ve waited a decade for you.



Part of the collection I’m submitting for assessment.

Image source:
Edited by me.

What’s the big deal with fireworks?

What is the big deal? What is the fascination with fireworks? Every year they are the same rockets, just a different order. No matter how much money they spend, the same outcome occurs. Standing around, freezing cold, staring at the sky as deafening blasts hit that uncomfortable pitch in your ears, the one which makes you wince a little before your face is illuminated by coloured lights.

But perhaps the fascination is more for the atmosphere of the event than the event itself. The mist rises from your mouth, peering over the edge of your tightly wound scarf to mingle with the smoke drifting lazily through the black, curling away from the mountain of flames devouring Guy’s doll. Then it clears to show the children staring wide-eyed at the sky, mouth’s encircling their wonder. Sliding lights shimmer across their irises as their pupils widen, occasionally breaking their reverie to tug on the sleeve of their parent, urging them to ‘Look! Look!’ and you can’t help but feel your inner child stirring from her slumber.

Of course, not every child is as enthralled by the symphonic explosions ringing through the night, but something hazy settles over you so that even their shrill shrieks of misplaced fear sounds distant and muffled. You tug your coat to envelope you closer, just as the numerous couples envelope each other, pressed tightly like penguins in the face of a blizzard. The old dear raises her crinkled smile as the youngsters revel, their parents cushioned in a moment of peace.  The last sizzle fades as applause rises, the unspoken thank you to the organisers of your event.

This is the fairground’s cue, whirring back to life to entice visitors to spin, drop, twirl, twist, soar and scream. Synthesized music pierces your eardrums once more, following a moment’s respite from the fireworks. The fairground workers, travelling men with stern eyes set in boredom, repeatedly hit the buttons to fire a booming voice over the people, calling for your ‘ATTENTION!’ in an accent that may or may not be French (who knows why?), and then ‘ARE-A-A-ARRRREEEE YOU READYYYY!!’ Well, are you?

A trail of sweet scents tease your nostrils, tantalizing aromas of doughnuts and crepes that smell even better than they look, with candy-floss disintegrating as the warmth of tongues dissolve the texture you can’t quite grasp. Once you eventually collect together the assortment of coins to buy these pleasures, you always realise that they definitely look better than they taste. The overkill of sugar and carbs tingle your mouth a little as you pass various lights and delights. Wandering the dusty path, adding your imprint to the many before yours, you find yourself perusing the stalls of stacked cans and polka-dotted dart boards. Your eyebrow is raised as challengers step up, lifting gun to shoulder or dart to eye line in order to win the lion with a distorted face which has swung from the rafters for weeks now. Who knows how many people have been conned on these travelling stalls, and you know that the probabilities are not in your favour, and yet you can’t help wanting to see if you will be champion today.

You’ve probably lost feeling in your fingertips by now, so you drag yourself away from temptation to find your friends, but they are lost in the sea of knitted hats and dark coats gliding by each other. Drifting into the slipstream, the current carries you deeper into the belly of the fair, spitting you out by the dodgems who’s music tramples over the rival rides own melodies. Your friends zip around the temporary arena in a flurry of blinking lights and collisions that make you wince, all except the one friend loaded like a packhorse on the side-lines, who you sidle up to with a smile. They murmur something about feeling nauseous after the last ride, their deely-boppers flashing while they munch on the pick-a-mix sweets which lure children into hyperactivity. You stuff your hands deeper into your pockets, settled in serene silence despite the crescendo of activity around you, and realise that maybe, this is what the big deal is.




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Copyright belongs to the original artist

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