Lost Light

moon-michael-creese (2015)

“Moon” by Michael Creese (2015)

Here’s a humble wee poem I wrote about finding peace in the simple embrace of nature.  Written on the 25th March 2017.


Lost Light

In the dying embers of a summer’s day,
I float a while out on the bay.
With solstice’s shimmer upon the waves,
It turns to diamonds before it fades.
And when light dips below that distant line,
Beyond the horizon, and into the brine,
I am at one, in this sea of sanctuary,
My dissolving woes becoming fragmentary.
Emerging from wounds in Heaven scarred,
I behold the beauty of stoic stars.
Lone swimmer adrift, my thoughts dissipate,
Freed of their burden, and of their weight.
Emancipated from love, liberated from hate,
Freed of the worry and constrictions of fate.
A simple zen washes me, it’s innocent and pure,
Cool waters of twilight, they feel so secure.
In the neutrality of contentment and peace,
Within the beauty of stars I find my release.
We weep no tears of honest elation,
Only smile and embrace and share adoration.
As I drift through solitude, it begins to rain,
To the harmonious downpour’s sweet refrain,
I reflect on nothing, only tranquillity exists,
And I float wherever these currents insist.
Now amongst those ghosts of that summer’s day,
I floated in the sanctuary of the darkened bay.
And when solstice’s glitter had sunk far below,
I turned to diamond, in that watery meadow.

A Bit of a Pickle

Whimsical Pickles on a Bicycle Built for Two by Alison DeBenedictis

“Whimsical Pickles on a Bicycle Built for Two” by Alison DeBenedictis

Pickles.  Love them or loathe them, they’re part of our lives.  Oftentimes more so than we could ever possibly imagine or comprehend.  Take for example this thrilling tale of a pickle that promises to change everything in the lives of two unsuspecting people.  Written on the 28th February 2017.  This story is suitable for vegetarians.


A Bit of a Pickle

“I swear that’s it!” shouted Donna, pointing at the innocuous-looking pickle lying on the carpet.

“Is it nothing!” retorted Alf, giving it a weird look. Surely it wasn’t true?

“It is, Alf! It’s the Pickle of Destiny!”

The Pickle of Destiny was a legendary pickle spoken of in local…well, legend. People said it would grant whomsoever found it the power to will their wildest dreams into realities. All they had to do was grasp the pickle with both hands, close their eyes and pray to the Pickle God.

“How do you know this is it?” asked Alf, picking the curious item up off the floor and brushing the dog hairs off it.

“How many pickles have you known to materialise in the middle of your living room?” Donna fired back, huddling close and helping pick the grey hairs off its green and bumpy sides.

It was a fair point, Alf hadn’t seen a pickle appear out of thin air and flop onto the carpet before, not until a few minutes ago anyway. There was a pretty good chance this really was the Pickle of Destiny.

“Well, what if it is? What now? What do we wish for?” Alf looked around the living room for inspiration. They needed a new sofa, that could be a start. “What about the suite?”

Donna looked at the faux leather three-seater against the far wall and its accompanying chairs. They were pretty worn out, and they had been talking about getting it replaced recently anyway. “Okay, we’ll give it a try. Pass it here”. Alf passed the pickle with both hands, careful not to drop it, lest the dog came into the room and ate both it and their wildest dreams.

Alf took a step back and watched as his wife hugged the little green vegetable with both hands, closed her eyes and addressed the Pickle God out loud. “Dear mighty Pickle God, I ask of you to bequeath us the gift of a nice new three piece suite, preferably with real brown leather. Actually no, make it cream, I don’t want the dog hair to show up on it. Thanks”.

Alf lowered his eyebrows and shook his head slowly. “Bequeath?” he asked mockingly.

Just then the room lit up with a radiant green light, and in the next moment their worn-out seating arrangement was replaced with a brand new real leather affair complete with matching cushions. “Gosh!” blurted Alf in disbelief. “It really is the Pickle of Destiny! Imagine all the cool things we can do with it!”

“What should we do with it next?” asked Donna excitedly.

Alf took a seat on the nice new leather sofa and thought about it for a second. “Oh, I know!” he announced. “You know how when we go shopping I hate how busy it is?”

“Yes,” replied Donna, wondering where he was going with this. “What about it?”

“Give me the pickle and you’ll find out!”

Alf was handed the pickle. He hugged it tight, closed his eyes and addressed the Pickle God. “Dear Pickle God, I kindly ask that the next time we go shopping down the street all the other people disappear and we get the whole place to ourselves. Thanks”.

“Nothing’s happening,” said Donna after a moment of awkward silence.

“That’s because we’ve not went shopping yet. Let’s go out right now and see”.

The couple left the house and began walking into town. There was absolutely no one else in sight. Luckily, their local Tesco had self-serve checkouts and so they didn’t even need a cashier, and in no time they were back home again with lots of bags of shopping and none of the hassle that comes with dealing with other people.

“That was great!” beamed Alf, cracking open a can of beer. “I can’t wait to see what we get up to with this thing tomorrow. Here, let’s put it in the fridge for safekeeping, I don’t know if the Pickle of Destiny goes off if you keep it out in the open too long”.

Donna and Alf hit the hay and enjoyed a nice peaceful slumber filled with fanciful dreams about the future, now that the most famous pickle in the history of pickles was in their possession.

The next morning Donna wished for a new coffee maker and an automated kitchen that cooked them a deliciously hearty breakfast. Alf wished for the best shower on the planet and enjoyed a good scrub. After redecorating the entire house, adding several additional wings, turrets and towers, they decided to head out for a stroll to tell all their friends and family the good news.

As they walked down the street they transformed local parks into world-class zoos, replaced all the street lights with ones made out of solid gold and encrusted them in diamonds. They even took it upon themselves to turn the pigeons into something a tad less horrible: graceful eagles that could and did play the harp. It was a very productive walk indeed.

“Hey, you know what’s weird?” asked Alf as he passed the pickle to his wife after turning the sky purple because he was a big Prince fan.

“What?” replied Donna, readying herself to wish for a nicer handbag.

“We haven’t seen anybody else out today”.

It was true, they’d been out of the house around twenty minutes now and not one person had they laid eyes on. It was very strange. They contemplated this weirdness as they entered the Lider Centre; the largest shopping centre in town.

“Alf, what’s going on?” Donna had stopped thinking about a new handbag and instead stood still, looking around at the utterly empty mall. There was nobody around. Not a soul. They were the only people in the what was normally the busiest place in the entire town.

“Oh cripes…” Alf’s words trailed off.

“What?” asked his significant other.

“I think there’s a small chance we were wrong about the Pickle of Destiny”.

Donna stared at Alf for a second, trying to figure out what he could possibly mean. Then it dawned on her too. “Oh no. You’re kidding me. You don’t think we–”

“That’s right babes, I think we mistook the Pickle of Destiny for the Accursed Pickle of Great Inconvenience”.

“For the love of the Pickle God, I don’t believe this!”

“The Pickle God’s got nothing to do with this, Donna. The Accursed Pickle of Great Inconvenience is the unholy property of the Pickle Devil. Everything we wished for may have come true, but it’s permanent. No exceptions. When we wished for everyone to disappear yesterday so we could go shopping in peace, they ceased to exist forever! Oh dear, what have we done?!” Alf broke down in tears and fell to his knees.

The Accursed Pickle of Great Inconvenience was another pickle spoken of in local legend, it was the yin to the Pickle of Destiny’s yang. In fact, it was only one of around eight other legendary pickles spoken of in the local area, though admittedly, both it and the other pickles were rarely heard of.

Donna’s eyes were almost falling out of her head. She threw the Accursed Pickle of Great Inconvenience at the nearest wall, ridding herself of its power. Unfortunately, the potent vegetable bounced off the wall of Nicho’s Taco Shack and landed with a splash in the mall’s main water feature; the Dave the Clown Memorial Fountain.

“Oh Christ no, Donna!” screamed Alf, momentarily looking up from his lamentation on the floor. “You didn’t chuck it in the fountain, did you? The Accursed Pickle of Great Inconvenience is water-soluble!”

It was true. Just as the words escaped Alf’s mouth and he went back to crying, the pickle in the fountain began to fizz like a certain brand of mint in a certain brand of carbonated soft drink. Green foam began filling the fountain, and soon all the water had turned a lurid green colour, sort of like limeade but more menacing. Donna ran and hid behind a mobile phone stand as Alf rolled onto his side and gave up on life. The foaming reached ridiculous levels of foaminess not seen before in the history of foam, green lightning began shooting out of the billowing mass overflowing from the fountain, shocking fast food outlets and putting entire clothes shops up in flames. With an almighty explosion and roar, the great Pickle Devil himself emerged from the frothing green fountain.

“Behold, I have risen at long last! You have released me from the binds of my pickle prison and I will now turn everyone on the entire planet into a pickle!” The hulking green demon bellowed with demonic laughter and fired a series of small pickles from his eyes, scattering them across the floor of the Lider Centre, where they started running around kicking holes in windows and walls.

“Erm, excuse me, oh powerful Pickle Devil,” said Donna, timidly emerging from behind the mobile phone stand. “But we actually already wiped out the human race about half an hour ago. There’s nobody left to turn into pickles. Sorry”. Donna resumed her cowering behind the mobile phone stand. It was probably for the best.

The Pickle Devil stopped laughing. The little pickles stopped breaking things. “Well what am I supposed to do now?” the large green monstrosity eventually asked. “I mean, come on, I finally rise to power after all these years and there’s no one left to turn into pickles? Seriously? What kind of luck is that? I guess I’ll just have to turn you two snivelling fools into pickles and call it a day. Might as well go play on the swings down at the park afterwards, it’s not like there’ll be anything else to do”.

“Actually…” Donna’s head emerged from behind a row of Nokia 3310s. “We got rid of the park too”.

“What do you mean you got rid of the park?” demanded the Pickle Devil.

“We turned it into a zoo”.

“A zoo?” the demon stroked his lumpy green pickle chin. “That’s not so bad, I guess. I could at least turn the animals into pickles”.

“Yes you could”.

“I know I could!” spat the Pickle Devil angrily. “Fine. I’ll turn you two worthless maggots into pickles and then I’ll go turn the animals at the zoo into pickles too”.

“That’s something, at least,” said Donna, trying to sound comforting but immediately wondering why she wanted to comfort a giant demonic pickle that wanted to turn her and her husband into little pickles just because he could.

“Right, say your prayers and all that jazz,” boomed the Pickle Devil before turning a blinding green light on them and transforming them both into six inch pickles and stamping on them.

The Galwegian Haggis Wraith

Frank Schott

“12:31” by Frank Schott (2011)

Once more from the obscurity of my strange mind comes a weird (yet informative) article on a creature which most people probably think doesn’t exist.  What’s that?  You’ve never heard of the Galwegian Haggis Wraith either?  Well you’re in the right place for an enthralling crash course education!  Written on the 31st January 2017.


The Galwegian Haggis Wraith

In Galwegian folklore (not to be confused with Glaswegian folklore), a haggis wraith is a supernatural entity that appears as a deformed and/or ferocious-looking lump of fur. Haggis wraiths are the ancestral spirits of long dead haggises, and are regularly seen flying around graveyards, forests and beaches at night in a whirlwind of pure, undiluted Scottishness. The fact that they fly at all is quite interesting, as living haggises and their forefathers (such as the woolly haggis, sabre-toothed haggis and iron age hamster) were never capable of flight. The earliest cave paintings depicting their ancestors reveal that the closest they ever got to air propulsion was when Galwegian cavemen threw them at each other in lieu of snowballs. It is believed that their new-found ability to whiz through the air like hairy frisbees is due to either as-yet discovered paranormal reasoning, or possibly the ignition of methane from their characteristically long, drawn out expulsions of wind.

Haggis wraiths are usually described as “hairier than sin” (according to Hangman’s Bestiary, the authoritative scholarly text on wonderful creatures that may or may not have existed). Their hue can range from the most vibrant of ginger to the inkiest of black and includes many shades of grey, white and the occasional patterned variant, much like the common household cat. It has four legs, though they are so tiny they could be considered inverted and are therefore not worth considering at all. From a distance they could be mistaken for large, mouldy sausages or black puddings which have been left outside in the rain too long, and from up close they are regularly mistaken for dishevelled hedgehogs that got into a fight with a bag of wool.

The creatures are known across Galloway for being supremely ferocious and many herds of the famed belted Galloway cattle have been reduced to mere bones by their ilk. They also have a propensity to gnaw at the ankles of fishermen if they fall asleep at the rod after dusk. In 1678 such an incident occurred to attest to their ferocity that the creature was subsequently placed on the National Register of Heathenish Entities, that being when the entire population of the village of Broadstone was wiped out by an infestation of haggis wraiths when a local clergyman discovered a nest in the church’s bell tower and poked it with a bible.

The haggis wraith is an exceptionally patriotic creature of legend, and as such will only yield in its attack (especially if it is swarming with other members of its hive) if the person or animal being set upon cries for leniency in a decidedly Galloway-Irish accent. This behaviour goes some way to explain why infinitely more foreign people die of haggis wraith attacks in the region than locals. Currently, the ratio stands at ten to one, with only one Galwegian dying from an attack for every ten outsiders that fall victim to their infamous rage. According to Archibald McLean’s Scots Folklore Bible, haggis wraiths sometimes carry a rare strain of malaria. Though this is merely conjecture (allegedly an attempt to keep highlanders out of the lowlands), a lot of people believe it to be fact and as such the Tourist Information Board of Scotland has had to inject huge resources into an awareness campaign to inform potential visitors that malaria in Scotland died out with the kelp bears in the late seventeenth century.

Ebenezer Hangman identifies haggis wraiths as “one of the most memorable and distinctive figures in Scottish folklore that look like hairy, spectral sausages”, and observes that they are “strikingly fluffy” and often exhibit “borderline genocidal tendencies”. Hangman also speculated that if provoked enough, a haggis wraith is capable of spontaneous combustion as a last resort defence mechanism, though as yet no fatalities have been recorded regarding this extreme behaviour. Despite this, it must be noted that a farm near Leswalt was once blown up by something that the insurance policy holder insisted was a free-floating haggis of indeterminate origin and disposition.

The haggis wraith’s influence stretches far and wide. Romanticised depictions of it have appeared in many novels and poems, with the first reference to it in literature occurring in 1412 in John J. Harg’s Horror of Clayhole. In this groundbreaking historical novel, Harg mentions the haggis wraith many times and makes note of it being both the “scourge of the Rhins” and the “matted beastie of St. John’s Chapel”. The haggis wraith has also been portrayed in other forms of media, most notably in Touching Cloth Pictures’ 1972 film noir classic, The Teased Bishop.

In summation, the haggis wraith of legend is an entity to be both feared and respected. If the tales are to be believed then it is the cause of more than thirty thousand untimely deaths, the wiping out of eleven villages and the destruction of more farmland and forests than the bubonic porridge louse during the Lowlands Renaissance. A creature of almost stoic mysticism, it will remain an icon of Scottish lore for as long as there are tartan tongues to speak of it, dancing and flitting in the evening gloaming between the ancient tombstones and pines of the majestic Galloway hills.

Strange Luminescence

will-o-the-wisp-by-tom-shropshire-2012

“Will-o-the-Wisp” by Tom Shropshire (2012)

Death and thoughts of a grim nature have always fascinated me, I think we all have a little darkness in us.  Sometimes, if we let it, that darkness can consume us, mind, body and soul.  This is a short piece I wrote concerning the oppressive ensnarement it can have on the human condition.  Written on the 5th March 2017.


Strange Luminescence

I idle a while these drunken hours, the dream-like stupor of suicide’s clarity. If the darkness of the dampen earth of graves could ever be considered vivid, then I would be a reveller in the vibrancy of its bleak hues.

Long ago I opened myself to the virtues of the dead, opened my core to the seeping blackness, and the slow yet steady expulsion of corrosion grim. I died, spiteful of life and its follies, turned to dust this granite heart of mine and interred myself unaided in a shallow pit many miles from sanctuary, so that no lost wanderer may find my resting place.

In my sadness I crave solitude, crave the silencing finality of the glorious end. I sought it out in the recesses of my bleakest thoughts, the featureless rooms of insanity and the unadorned caverns of my woe. I found nothing. The search drove me into the wilds, fighting the winds and rain and the clawing pleas of dim retribution’s dying light. I shunned them all and carved my prize from the fetid tombs of forgotten wastelands with my own bloody hands, raw and numb. I toiled in the downpour of winter’s worst storm, daring the tempest to bury me in its anger. Shivering, tormented, fevered with the madness of approaching doom, I excavated the unreachable recesses of the soul, tore frigid handfuls from the earth and beheld my ruinous work. A dank, unforgiving place to rest eternally in the folds, isolated from tearful eyes or warm embracing hands.

With my soul reaved from its untilled field, a harvester in the dark of night’s barren void came to my side. I cried, oh how I cried undiluted tears of joy when he cut me down with his scythe. How I revelled in the embrace of that sullen pit, how I loved the fall into its nameless, faceless cradle. How I turned myself down and let these worn bones of mine sink into the bubbling mud. I have delivered myself back to the earth and await nature’s cruellest of decays; the sardonic decomposition of vitality itself. Birth me again from this rotten shell, oh cruel writers of law. I beseech you from this stricken pit of mine, grant this lowly sapling a fair germination.

Of dreams I have had, swirling in the storm clouds of my most tempestuous manias, there is a light that illuminates my crypt. A pale orange light, one which tells of a future unseen. A murmuring sliver of soul lingers within my desolation, and in my slumber of ages I know I must become that light. Let my putrescence seep into the ether, let it ignite in the world above. Let the rain come down, aided in its descent by the forks of lightning and grimaces of concealed stars. Once more they come sombrely and dance a while with my phosphorescent wisps. I crave more of the reaper, demand that which life could not afford me. Set me to work, grim death. Set me dancing the ethereal jig of the damned upon my own pitiful grave. Gift this wish of dead dreamers to me, flicker a while in the rotting hours of murmuring corpses. See with your featureless eyes my expunged and withered soul, see it light up the night in both the luminescence of decay and the final fleeting joys of a martyred man.

I am death. I am light. I am the contradiction of soaring dreams and burning candles by solemn graveside. My dance is complete, and I am ready to dissipate into the ether for all eternity. In this radiant encore of mine, I am released.