rain

Contemporary poetry has a very strange fate in England I think as compared to America and possibly on the European continent. We seem to be party-going poets. […] I think one of the reasons for the loss of nerve at the present time is that the scientists have given us a picture of nature which is competitive, alien, empty, mechanical, and a universe in which we are complete strangers, and in which – talking about continuums – there is no continuum between ourselves and nature. This is the great romantic quest, that a continuum between nature and mankind should be proved … Science still proceeds on behaviouristic principles. Scientists, for instance, have to be very careful in testing drugs, or in doing any psychological experiment, not to allow suggestion to enter into it, no suggestion of the result, no placebo effect must be allowed in. But the placebo effect is a very wonderful thing indeed. It means you can take a sugar pill believing it will do you good and it will do you good. This is worth looking into I would have thought, but it’s the very thing that science keeps out: the power here – the Romantic idea – of the mind over the body, that the material world is responsive to the energies of the mind, or to immaterial energies. We live in a situation where these things are systematically undervalued. The Enlightenment was concerned to display everything visibly, with every factor controlled – and this is when the idea of the scientific controlled experiment came in. The Romantics were in contradiction to this. They wanted to know what was invisible. They protested against ‘the tyranny of the eye’. There is so much in Romantic poetry about weather for instance. Weather influences us profoundly. It is an invisible and visible series of changes which alter our moods and alter our access to ourselves. We are inspired or depressed by the weather. It is both objective and subjective in its effects. Thirty per cent of the population are intensely weather-sensitive. There is a kind of feeling-knowledge of the world which arises from meteorological changes. There is a response, an invisible response which is not accounted for in medical science. The facts are that very many diseases, very many sicknesses and illnesses, are intensified by the processes of storm. Heart palpitations sometimes synchronize with radio static from storms. You can watch, on a computer, the meteorological pattern say over the city of New York, and superimpose the deaths from heart attacks, and you can see that these two patterns follow each other, and there is a causal connection which appears to be electrical. We know that many people suffer from weather-sensitivity to a psychiatric extent – you get this very much in Cornwall, which has a great deal of weather as they say. But what happens? How are these people treated? Well, of course, the tranquillizer and antidepressant. There is no study of medical climatology, there is no school of it in this country as far as I know. There is no school of bio-meteorology. This romantic thing, the weather, this daily demonstration of our response to the whole situation of the earth and the atmosphere, the temperature of it, the humidity of it and the electricity of it – we can’t deny this anymore – is just ignored, because of course, to adjust this, to treat weather-sickness – well, there are certainly herbal and homeopathic remedies for it, and another solution is to move, which may not be viable economically. What is viable economically and which props up our system is to prescribe another of these invented drugs, at great cost. The alternative is to seek union with the invisible but actual world, as the Romantics did.

Peter Redgrove
The Science of the Subjective
A 1987 interview with Neil Roberts

The Idea of Entropy at Maenporth Beach
“C’est elle! Noire et pourtant lumineuse.”

A boggy wood as full of springs as trees.
Slowly she slipped into the muck.
It was a white dress, she said, and that was not right.
Leathery polished mud, that stank as it split.
It is a smooth white body, she said, and that is not right,
not quite right; I’ll have a smoother
slicker body, and my golden hair
will sprinkle rich goodness everywhere.
So slowly she backed up into the mud.

If it were a white dress, she said, with some little black,
dressed with a little flaw, a smut, some swart
twinge of ancestry, or if it were all black
since I am white, but- it’s my mistake.
So slowly she slunk, all pleated, into the muck.

The mud spatters with rich seed and ranging pollens.
Black darts up the pleats, black pleats,
lance along the white ones, and she stops
swaying, cut in half. Is it right, she sobs
as the fat, juicy, incredibly tart mud rises
round her throat and dims the diamond there?
Is it right, so she stretches her white neck back
and takes a deep breath once and a one step back.
Some golden strands afloat pull after her.

The mud recoils, lies heavy, queasy, swart.
But then this soft blubber stirs, and quickly she comes up
dressed like a mound of lickerish earth,
swiftly ascending in a streaming pat
that grows tall, smooth brimming hips, and steps out
on flowing pillars, darkly draped.

And then the blackness breaks open with blue eyes
of this black Venus rising helmeted in night
who as she glides grins brilliantly, and drops
swatches superb as molasses on her path.

Who is that negress running on the beach
laughing excitedly with teeth as white
as the white waves kneeling, dazzled, to the sands?
Clapping excitedly the black rooks rise,
running delightedly in slapping rags
she sprinkles substance, and the small life flies!

She laughs aloud, and bares her teeth again, and cries:
Now that I am all black, and running in my richness
and knowing it a little, i have learnt
it is quite wrong to be all white always;
and knowing it a little, I shall take great care
to keep a little black about me somewhere.
A snotty nostril, a mourning nail will do.
Mud is a good dress, but not the best.
Ah, watch, she runs into the sea. She walks
in streaky white on dazzling sands that stretch
like the whole world’s pursy mud quite purged.
The black rooks coo like doves, new suns beam
from every droplet of the shattering waves,
from every crystal of the shattered rock.
Drenched in the mud, pure white rejoiced,
from this collision were new colours born,
and in their slithering passage to the sea
the shrugged-up riches of deep darkness sang.

Peter Redgrove

True Ghost Story

December 10, 2017

Floris M. Neusüss

As a teen, my friends and I would sometimes spend evenings on Dundry Hill – a large area filled with farmland and small village homes. At the top, past a few cow fields, was a small pit used for fires and barbecues. We spent many summer evenings there, staying out until the sun had gone and the embers flew into the air to join the stars. Once the fire had burned out we all made our way home together in the dark, drifting off one by one as we approached home.

On one of these evenings, I was staying with a friend of mine and so rather than heading off to my house, we turned towards hers.

Ten people became five, became two.

We walked alone, in the dark, down a road lit with street lamps. Talking quietly, happily, as teenage girls do. To our left was a small field. It was there we heard it first.

A young girl’s laugh.

This was odd, certainly, but it was an area with a lot of children. Near a school. It was ten o clock at night, sure, but it was still an explainable event. We didn’t even acknowledge the sound, we only kept walking.

We moved past the field, down a small alley that took us through a cul de sac. We went through a small gate and heard it again. This time we looked at each other, quickly. You heard it too, the wide eyes said. But we brushed it off. Continued our talk.

We saw nothing, heard nothing, until we were back on the road.

To our right, a garage.

Again, the laugh.

The same pitch, the same tone, identical in every way.

People roll their eyes at children in horror, it’s so overdone it’s become a cliche. But when you hear a child laughing on a deserted street in the dark, it is the scariest sound you could ever imagine.

We looked at each other again, eyes wide. Both realising what we had heard. Both unsure of what to do. The sound had followed us, but there had been no way to move from the field to the garage without being seen.

It was not explainable. Not to us.

The laugh.

Again.

To the left.

Louder.

We ran the short distance back to my friends house, almost laughing with fright as if unsure what else to do.

We slept with the lights on.

And we never heard the sound again.

An unsatisfying ending to a ghost story, perhaps. But a real ending to a true story.

Baylea Hart
My True Ghost Story

A ghost walking

December 9, 2017

silent darkness

Everyone has a ghost story. It might be a schoolyard tale whispered under the slide, or that time your dog howled before you found out your grandmother died. It might not even be your story, but an urban myth that made you scared to drive down the lane, walk past that house, or look in the mirror in candlelight. The point is, we all have stories that have crawled into the deepest parts of us and never let go. If you’re very lucky, this happens when you’re young, before you’ve thrown up your defenses of cynicism and doubt.

Some stories are universal, variations on a theme that act as modern day fairy tales — warning us against irresponsible behaviour or sexual “deviancy.” What is the Bloody Hook story — where teenagers on Lovers Lane rush home after hearing of an escaped, hook–handed serial killer only to discover a bloody hook hanging from their car door — other than a cautionary tale against teenaged sexual experimentation? My own childhood ghost story, assuredly handed down by an older sibling, is pretty easy to parse. After all it was the 1970s: there was nothing more horrifying in white suburbia in the 1970s than an unwed, pregnant teenage girl on drugs. But none of that mattered to eight–year–old me. I hadn’t yet built any walls of cynicism. All I knew was every few weeks, we would gather our courage, hold hands, and creep closer to the fence. Maybe the story wasn’t true, we told ourselves. Maybe there wasn’t a ghost walking through the woods. But what if there was? It was scary and unknown and the very idea of it thrilled us to our toes.

Deborah Stanish
Everyone has a ghost story

About me…

December 9, 2017

The House of Death

December 7, 2017

Lo, a house untenanted
Stands beside the road of Time;
They who lived there once, have fled
To some other house and clime.

Towers pointing to the sky

With long shadows on the ground,
Never shade a passerby,

Never echo back a sound.

William Stanley Braithwaite

imagine the future…?

December 5, 2017

Reading New Scientist, I am acutely aware of how fast science and technology are changing — and in so many areas. Cybernetics, biotechnology, nanotechnology are all evolving quickly. Theoretical physics and cosmology are very much in flux, with facts that don’t fit into current theory, such as dark matter and dark energy, and hypotheses which can’t be tested, such as superstring theory. So how does a writer imagine the future, with so much changing rapidly and so much uncertain?

Eleanor Arnason
Me and Science Fiction: Dystopia, Dark Urban fantasy, Zombies and Monsters from the deep.

Lady of the Lake

December 3, 2017

Body of water
Body of work
“A body of collected knowledge about the therapeutic properties of any substance used for healing”

Call it a healing ritual
Or a mercy fuck, whichever you like.
Corporal act of mercy — that sounds nice

It was on an afternoon woven of equal parts
Sunlight, aimlessness and proscribed botanicals
A young hero in need
As they often are,
Of a body of collected knowledge
A body of work

Where the sun came in I was gilded
Where the shadows fell he was oak leaf and ivory
A cascade of glossy black down his back
Where the fire inside touched us both
We were molten copper
A burning ship
St. Elmo’s fire wreathing the mast
Climbing along the rigging
Reflections like flaming coins scattered
On frantic waves

Ocean?
No. Not ocean.
I was a lake,
I have always been a lake
Quiet,
Until some idiot threw a sword in me.
There’s always some idiot with a sword.
How’s a natural phenomenon to have any peace
With people always mucking about making an omen of one
Requiring auguries, questing after this vision, that revelation
Or simply demanding that one reveal or conceal the artifact of the week?

My sister’s a cenote.
What’s thrown down her, vanishes.
Cold jade waters.
Colder silence within.
I am more temperate, if no warmer.
I prefer the give and take
Though it means my contemplations will be disturbed from time to time
By this one making a deposit
And the other one drawing something forth
A regular lending library, some centuries.

The sword was hot, newforged
Or so I recall.
There was, as always, enough and more
To quench the burning brand, temper the steel
I think, from time to time, this annoys some of them
The sheer inexhaustibility
Of a body of water, a body of work, a body of collected knowledge
As if it were somehow a reflection on them.
No matter. The sword went in.
As I recall, I gave it away again later.

My old lover the witch in her tower
Used to tease me
Call me a plaguey thing for giving her gifts away again
Roses cast up on shore,
Bits of ribbon for the ravens to carry off
Hey, offerings come and offerings go.
Collect knowledge. Disburse.

The sword stayed for a while.
The hero died.
They do, you know. It’s generally part of the tale
Though people may not always want to hear it.
Swords outlast them as a rule.
Lakes outlast swords.

There were currents cold within me
Green weeds wreathed my heart
As I took in the sword, drew it down
The word “fathom” was not made to describe
What was in my young hero’s eyes
They widened as he felt the water close over him
I was still too much lake
To tell him that he was a hero
That heroes die.

My silence disturbed him
More than he had disturbed mine
But the waves we made together
Rocked him to peacefulness
Or exhaustion.
A body of work, whatever else it is, is just that. Work.
We came back to ourselves
In that room of dust and oakleaves.
The shadows were longer. We had come very far.
What water was left spilled down my cheeks.
Struck dumb as any oracle, I held him,
And with what little kindness I had left
Carefully told him nothing but stories of swords.

Elise Anna Matthesen

web scream

There was a girl who died every morning, and it would not have been a problem except that she kept bees.

When her heart had shuddered back to life and she had clawed her way back from the lands beneath, she sat up and drew a long sucking breath into the silent caverns of her lungs. Her first breath was always very loud in the little cottage, but there was no one there to hear it.

She wrapped her robe around her. It was a dressing gown in the morning and winding sheet at night. Then she swung her feet over onto the floor and the cold tiles were no colder than the palms of the newly dead.

She stumped out to the beehives and tapped each one with the key to her cottage, three times each. “The old master is dead,” she said, as the hives buzzed and the bees swirled around her. “I am the new master.” And she said her name, three times each over every hive.

T Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon)
Telling The Bees