I am programmed to help human beings: If I see them in difficulty, I must help; My maker said what I represent Is smooth machine bureaucracy, A hidden net of support, for the common people. I am proud of that. I do my job as best I can Which is very well: my circuits are faultless Devised and manufactured by real men; So, I am authentic as well as useful, Not a fake copy from the printing factory.
Well, yesterday I saw a human being, sitting on a train, A newspaper upon his lap, and pen in hand. He clearly was in pain: he frowned, he scratched his head, He pursed his lip; crossed out what he had written. I sought to help, as I had been advised Was proper to my role. I should say now I am a trusted guard Collecting tickets for the Southern Rail; a company, so I am told, Which carries commuters to and from their work.
This human being was doing Sudoku, a game for relaxation Which also, I believe, demands some concentration From the gamer. He had not made much progress. Well, I could not do less: I fed the grid into my circuit board, Filled in the blanks, projected them to the page. He should have smiled. He did not. Instead he cursed, Said “Damn” and worse. I must have dozed off. Did someone borrow my paper? I must check with my maker –
Did I do something wrong? Impossible! My circuits all prevent it.
Later, on my way home; I have a bedsit like a normal human being Where other helpers live, and we are overseen; I saw upon the street A five pence piece. Had someone lost it? That would cause distress. I picked it up and thought a bit: the police station, that’s the place! They will restore it to its rightful owner. The constable behind the desk, When he had asked how he could help, and I gave my reply; He looked me in the eye with a slight frown: “It is a crime to waste police time,” He said. “This time I’ll let you off, but don’t come back,” Perhaps there is some lack in him, or he is one of those Who do not love their fellow human beings. Perhaps he needs help?
I am not qualified for therapy. My maker says the time is not yet ripe. But, when I have learned the ways of human beings, a little better, He says there is hope I could be upgraded. I look forward to that.
In the meantime, my neighbour is a poet, I thought to have a look at what he wrote. Poor man! It lacked the elements of proper grammar, Showed some derangement in the way he thought, Speaking of moonbeams as translucent stories; Of course, I put it right, and then destroyed his former manuscript; I am sure he will be pleased. It is good to be a secret do-gooder, To do your kindest deeds and seek no praise.
Well, even machines need to rest. But I feel blessed To have done so much good today; and for no thanks; Even ingratitude. Yet I am puzzled still – Those I have helped should be happy – I believe I have done well – Yet some are not. Perhaps I should learn to programme human beings?
Rob Lowe has been writing for many years. He is a member of Colwyn Bay Writers’ Circle. Poems have been published in The Friend, Shire Magazine, and by Disability Arts Cymru.
Kathleen Jones is an
award-winning freelance writer, poet and biographer. She has
previously worked with the OU as a tutor of Creative Writing, and her
comments for prospective students and tutors are insightful and
Could you tell us
a little about yourself?
I was born and
brought up on small hill farms in a remote part of northern England –
quite wild and beautiful, but isolated. So it could have been a
lonely childhood, except that I loved it and I think it was all that
space and freedom that made me a writer. I wrote a lot of poetry and
got journalistic items published in teen magazines and local papers.
I left as a teenager to go to London – thinking that that was where
you went if you wanted to become a ‘real’ writer, but I hated
living in a city.
I got married as a
teenager, to someone whose job took him all over the world, and
started to travel. We spent roughly ten years in Africa and the
Middle East. I found expat life very boring and did quite a lot of
writing to fill the time, and was lucky enough to get a job in
English broadcasting out there – writing for radio was very good
training. Eventually, I came back to the UK and got divorced. Being a
single parent wasn’t easy but I found that freelance writing gave
me the opportunity to be at home for the children while still earning
money. I went back to university as a mature student and published my
Do you have a
Not really. I’ve
always enjoyed doing different types of writing – sometimes having
several projects on the go at the same time. At the moment I’m
working on a new collection of poetry, a couple of short stories, and
a biography, as well as editing the novel I finished recently and
doing quite a lot of book reviewing. I still occasionally write
features for magazines and e-zines. It’s the variety I love. Or
maybe I’m just a workaholic!
Do you prefer to
write poetry structured within forms or do you prefer free forms?
I probably enjoy
free forms best. Every now and then I play around with sonnets, or
terza rima, just to prove I can do it, but I’m happiest creating my
own forms to fit the subject matter. At the moment I’m
experimenting with a ten line form as well as longer, narrative
Do you have
favourites amongst your books/ characters?
Yes – particularly
the biographies. I loved them all at the time, but in retrospect the
ones I enjoyed writing most are A Passionate Sisterhood, which was
the story of the women who lived with the ‘Lake Poets’ –
Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey – and the biography of the New
Zealand-based author, Katherine Mansfield. Mansfield was a wonderful
writer and a very interesting person – I admired her courage
immensely. How do you cope with having a stillborn illegitimate baby
at the age of 19, all alone in a strange country? How do you cope
with being told ten years later that you are terminally ill? She died
of tuberculosis shortly after her 34th birthday.
Among the fictional
characters I’ve created, I’m fondest of Tamar Fell in The Sun’s
Companion. She’s based on my mother, so I suppose that’s why.
Tamar is very shy and gentle and struggles to deal with the social
upheavals of nineteen-thirties England just before the war.
How difficult did
you find getting published for the first time?
Not difficult at all
– and I realise now just how very lucky I was. I was working on a
documentary for BBC radio, so I had to get an agent to handle the
contract. They suggested that I extend the research into a
full-length biography, and introduced me to the new Bloomsbury
publishing house, just being set up. I was one of their first
authors. That was in 1986/7. When I lost my current agent to
maternity leave a few years ago, it was a very different picture –
I found it almost impossible to find a new agent. I wrote to 16 and
only 2 bothered to reply! Fortunately, one of those took me on. But
it’s now very difficult to get publishers to take an interest in
your work unless you’re already a best-seller, or a new author they
What awards you
have won, and for which genre?
short-listed for quite a few, but haven’t won many. The Barclays
Bank Prize for biography for A Passionate Sisterhood was one I was
very happy to win. And in 2011 I won the Straid Award for a
collection of poetry called Not Saying Goodbye at Gate 21. Oh, and
one of my short stories once won a fiction award sponsored by Fay
What inspires you
I don’t honestly
know. I’ve been writing since I was a small child – it’s just
something that’s part of my personality – who I am rather than
what I do. It’s a kind of addiction.
As a published
poet/author would you go back and change anything in your past
Yes! I wrote a novel
as a teenager – the usual teen stuff – and sent it off to the
address of a publisher I looked up in a bookshop. I didn’t know
there was any such thing as the Writers and Artists’ Yearbook. I
got a letter back saying that it wasn’t good enough to publish as
it stood, but if I rewrote bits of it (they told me which ones), they
would take another look. I was so inexperienced and naïve that I
didn’t realise what was being said. All I saw was rejection. I
chucked the manuscript into the bottom of a cupboard and abandoned
it. Now I know that I should have worked on it and worked on it and
sent it back to them as well as submitting it to several other
publishers – it was an opportunity I missed because I didn’t
know. There were no creative writing courses back then.
What would you
attribute to writers like George Eliot and Charles Dickens who become
famous without ever taking any creative writing courses?
They just learned
their craft from reading other writers and practising endlessly.
That’s what Katherine Mansfield did, too – and DH Lawrence and
Virginia Woolf. I think that there are many authors who have an
instinctive sense of form and a gift for language. They develop these
gifts by sheer hard work. A lot of writers in the past also had
mentors who helped them to self-edit, and many of them learned good
techniques through journalism. It was a kind of apprenticeship.
Are you working
on anything at present?
commissioned to write the biography of an obscure northern poet to
celebrate his centenary in 2014. His name is Norman Nicholson and he
was a protégé of TS Eliot and one of the early eco-poets. He was
rather reclusive, so it’s a challenge to get enough material to
flesh out his personality.
I’m also editing
the final draft of my second novel, which is about a rather
controversial subject. The central character is an ageing artist who
was born trans-gender in the 1920s. She has become an international
celebrity, but has found personal happiness elusive. It’s narrated
by a young writer who goes to Croatia to research her life story, and
becomes drawn into a big family conflict centred around who is going
to inherit her property and the rights to her work.
Do you feel
social media presence is required for a writer? How does it help?
I think these days
it’s essential. The higher your profile, the easier it is to sell
your work. Often, being active in social forums is a requirement of
the publisher’s contract. They expect you to blog and Facebook and
have a profile on Goodreads, not to mention tweeting as well! And you
need a website of some kind (blogs can work well – they’re free
and easy to update yourself) to advertise your work – something
that you can supply as a link to anyone interested in what you do.
You can also have an author page on Facebook that people can access.
Not everyone wants the hassle of a website that you have to pay for
and then wrestle with html or pay a webmaster to update.
What advice would
you give to our prospective creative writing students and tutors?
I think the main
advice I’d give to tutors and those who set the courses is not to
be too prescriptive. Otherwise you get writing that is just too
formulaic – I judge writing awards sometimes and it’s easy to
spot the creative writing course poem or story. The very best writing
is often experimental, off-the-wall, tearing up the rule book. But I
know from experience as a tutor that it’s the most difficult work
of all to mark!
To students I would say read, read, read… and then write, write, write. There’s no substitute for practice. And I’m all for writing freely, without thinking about grammar or form or spelling. That can all be put in at the editing stage. You have to get the raw material down on the page first and tweak it afterwards. And write what excites you. If you don’t care about your characters the reader won’t either. You have to have total commitment.
A Sonnet to the She Wolf Aglaya Red curled hair, glittery eyes, modest
A quote by another of the names was still a listless debate While applying the softness of a makeup should round out each Reaching can be the element for which those carry out a twist Put through the heftiest of side to carry forward the most to relate How there is a future with the bemused side of the esteem to reach The moreover unlikely was the prudent to follow along the only list
However she must survive the elements of the cryptic and not low Within the parenthetical group is a loophole to seethe forward onto This could be the berated sounds have been presumed the lost cares Have alliteratively been her solid enough careful to resume the blow Must have to carry of the edge of the truly looked over for a same blue This the hype within the crusty and been the lengthy look for scares
A Sonnet to the She Wolf Arya Snake skin boots, baseball cap, high strung
Only to cope with the charging out of the stammering glows Has her complexion been the sorry result of another old squabble What must have to obey the stances are a rudiment of wishing not So elegiac as the taunting snow to the head of the peak for shows What can mystify the lumpiness of the driest of the heated wobble Has luckily been the stayed for what is the crimson and a very lot
Was to ramify the brilliance of the quaint is not inertia to her skin How was this a possible not lanky longing that impedes the dusty Was convinced to yield to the nodding is not here to stammer on sin This can be the winning cycle of her not so taken to treat a spin Was so likely to navigate about the changing can be a future misty Filled with the tepid heat of a hot clamouring and instilled to be thin
A Sonnet to the She Wolf McKayla Boots with zippers, long leather gloves, facetious
A true telling sign was not told for her to announce another Craving victimless taken to a hardship was ever known for The mystical zooming can be the leap to eke over a sketchy Explaining away the half side of the rather morbid sound other Can it pass from the seething to the hyperactive lurid is a chore With how one can compensate the pestering was an amused testy
Only to impact the other of the sidereal and mostly to flounder her Is the passing on of the blankly poured over the listening was a bait To catch on her lapses of the torrid enough can be the humility hence What should have to matter with the miraculous enough starry blur Was a change to have reached the utmost of the funniest can go fate Was a stance until it would have to grip the utmost of her pure dance
Lenore S. Beadsman lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She believes the Truth lies in 19th Century Russian and French literature.
She is very serious about her Sonnets. She has written three cycles of Sonnets; Witch, Goddess and Siren. A number of these have been published online and in print. She is currently working on a cycle of Mermaid Sonnets.
When not writing, Lenore enjoys driving fast cars and listening to Mozart (not necessarily simultaneously).
I throw up my breakfast in Sunday School –Cheerios and Tang–but Miss Hooker’s there to take me to the bathroom and help me hunch over and hack what’s left out of me. Not much. I spit a few times and I’m done. All finished?, she asks. Yes ma’am, I say. She’s our teacher. We love her but I love her best because one day we’ll get married
–I saw it in a dream the night after we
listened to her talk about Joseph and
Pharaoh. Pharaoh came to Joseph and asked
Do you know what my dream means? and Joseph
said, You bet, it means this and that, and he
got promoted from slave to good-as-king
so that night I dreamt about Miss Hooker
but it was no puzzle–I dreamed exact:
we were sitting on the sofa in our house and watching cartoons and wrestling and then more cartoons and eating popcorn and sucking a chocolate milkshake, one chocolate milkshake but two straws. My arm was around her shoulder. My left arm. Her right shoulder. Chocolate milkshakes made with chocolate ice cream, and chocolate milk, so they were as chocolaty as you can get. Thorough, that is. Maybe it’s a good sign that Miss Hooker and I go together through and through. 100% chocolate, that’s what we are. Maybe I’m like Joseph after all. I mean as smart, or almost, at least when it comes to my own dreams. Then
it was time for us to go to bed so I kissed her and she kissed me–we kissed at the same time, I mean, right flush on the lips. Then we shook hands and went to bed. We kissed again in the dark and said Goodnight. Then I said, We forgot to take off our clothes. Then we did but I couldn’t see too much –I had one eye looking and one not so if I sinned it was just 50%. Then we woke and kissed and shook hands again and made breakfast–Pop Tarts and bacon and Kool-Aid–and went outside to play baseball –well, we only just tossed the ball around. We took a break for lunch–macaroni –and at the table I suddenly said I forgot to go to work today. She laughed and laughed. Don’t be silly, she said–we’re rich, remember. Oh, yeah, I said. We kissed again and I ate her macaroni because she couldn’t finish it. Girls. Then we watched TV. Then we took a nap. Then
we woke and went for a drive. I don’t know how to drive, I said. That’s why this is a dream, she said. Oh, yeah, I said. I drove us to the hospital so we could buy a baby. They were having a sale so we bought two and put them in the back seat and by the time we got home they were grown. Please allow us to introduce ourselves, I said–we’re your parents. That’s nice, they said. Can we have some money? Ask your father, Miss Hooker said. Can we have some money, they asked. No, I said–money doesn’t grow on trees. Then I woke up. I was alone.
Miss Hooker even cleaned up my vomit and shushed the other kids, who were laughing. I hope they all go to Hell. I take that back–they’re just jealous but I forgive them. I sit down again and Miss Hooker asks me how I’m feeling. Good enough to make a woman out of you, I say. But
I’m not sure what that means. It just came.
I’ve been naughty so I’m in the closet again, this time for hitting my sister. I warned you not to hit girls, Father said. In fact, I warned you not to fight at all. Not only did you fight, but you fought girls. A girl. And the girl was your sister. Good God Almighty. I have my head bowed and my thumbs clasped behind my back. Behind my butt, really. I think and try not to smile. My butt. But my head’s down so he can’t see. And he’s a lot taller and that helps, too. What do you call those holes in your shoes, where the laces go in and out like worms? I don’t know. Look at me, Boy, he says. I look
up. I’m not going to spank you, he says. No. I’m going to put you in a quiet place, where you can think about what you’ve done. I don’t want to think about it, but I don’t say so. Father’s plenty hot. If his face was a fire and I had a hose, I’d put it out and so much steam would rise that he’d be all clouds above his neck and then I could get away. March, he says. Go in the hall closet and close the door behind you. I’ll come get you when you’ve had enough. He means when he’s had enough, and I hope he won’t forget me. Last time I almost peed in my pants, I was in for so long. When he opened the door I felt like that guy in the Bible, that fellow who died and came back to life, thanks to Jesus. So
much light and all at the same time. Even all the darkness that was trapped inside and came out with me couldn’t water it down. If he’d said Cover your eyes I would have. Now shame is what I have to cover up and it’s no match for the brightness, either. But of course my eyes adjusted. You’ve learned your lesson now, I’ll wager, Father says. Go outside and play. I do but my heart isn’t in it and, besides, I might see my sister out here. That would be awkward. The last time I saw her she was crying and I caused her tears. She likes the Beatles and I like the Dave Clark 5. She made fun of the Dave Clark 5. So I pushed her down even though she’s older and somewhat bigger and I punched her on the shoulder. Now she hates me but good, I’m sure. Apologise,
Father yells out the window. I’d rather forgive and forget. There she is now, on the swing set, going back and forth as if she’s a pendulum on a clumsy clock. I approach from one side so she can’t knock me down. She’s swinging so hard the swingset is jerking from the ground. Any faster and she’ll have it walking across the yard. I’m sorry I hit you, I yell, my words like scattershot at her moving target. Never mind, she says. How was the closet this time? Not bad, I say. I’m beginning to like it. She laughs, but sounds like a bird and stops swinging. You’re a brave little boy, she says, and kisses me, then goes inside. I take her place. I’m rising higher and
I’m not even swinging. Father calls me from the kitchen window. Get in here, Boy, he yells. His mouth is like a closet and his words escape but they’re not innocent. I go to the window. I said Come in, he says. There are no closets outside so I say, Make me. By Ned, I will, he swears. He runs out with his belt in his hand and his trousers sagging. You’re not a nice man, I say to him. I stand with my arms out to the sides and my eyes closed. Crucify me, I say. I goddamned dare ya. He knocks me down and wraps his belt around my throat. This must be child abuse–I’ve heard about this. When I open my eyes it’s dark–back
in the closet. A few minutes later I’m freed–by my sister. We’ll run away, she says. To England. To Liverpool or London or Tottenham or Manchester. No, I say. I like it here. It’s our home. Let him run away. Let’s kill him, she says. No, I say. No future in that. Come in here where it’s safe. She does. I close the door. You’re right, she says. It’s like not being born.
Dr Gale Acuff taught English university courses in the US, China, and Palestine. He has been published in Ascent, McNeese Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, Slant, Poem, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Orbis, and has authored three books of poetry, all from BrickHouse Press: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives.
You are the first beautiful flower from dreams. Your times are like an ancient myth. You bathe in the dew at dawn – the time of the morning star. You are a miracle of romance. You are a friend of the most tender muse. The ancient druidic tale is in your soul. You are a spiritual insight. You are a mythical liberation. You smell the most pleasant fragrance. You paint a night rainbow. You love the morning star. You like a ball for the elves. You will love the ancient pleasure. You continue like the goblet of Osiris. You fill your soul with Osiris´ambrosia.
the fire is for You a beloved magic which You are easily able to give to the people like gold the love of the people is an overjoyed day-dreaming dear Titan You, like the people against Zeus, deeply, the human-being made from tears and clay is admiring You the eternal dreamer and the cloudy rider so delicately thanks to humane skills – we know them anyway with Apollo You go on a journey of silvery cranes
just Ibycus and Zeus-like voyage homewards through the spiritual eternity full of melancholy
mountains of Caucasus are no longer the mental curse an eagle as well as a vulture were forever killed by Heracles who counts always the Apollonian legends Your philosophy has revealed the bliss Be kind and dreamful my dear friend of poetries! the wonderful crane is leading thousands of Ibycus-men into dream where Prometheus and spring muses can live Your little charming shine seems to be infinitely beautiful
1636 saw the Netherlands in the grip of an enormous and unlikely
demand for all things tulip bulbs! So great was the demand, that
people were making fortunes on the stock market; the rarest of bulbs
could fetch as much as the cost of a house, each. Every day the stock
market was bursting at the seams with brokers and buyers all
shouting, pushing and shoving in the fight for tulip bulbs. A number
of people believed they would make their fortunes overnight. Hubert
van Meissen was one of them. Now middle aged, he had been born an
opportunist and was convinced that tulips would be his future, the
gateway to the aristocratic lifestyle he had always dreamed of
had already purchased a large, airy, spacious house in one of
Amsterdam’s most exclusive areas; now to complete his show of new
found status in the world, he needed a wife. It was after another
hectic morning in the stock exchange and while in a coffee house with
some of his friends that he noticed an attractive and very young
woman preparing to leave the coffee house with two older women, her
chaperones. Before leaving the coffee house himself, Hubert made
enquiries regarding the young woman, and the proprietor informed
Hubert the young woman’s name was Anna-Marie Helzing, a frequent
visitor to the coffee house. Van Meissen decided he would like to
meet this Anna-Marie Helzing and planned to frequent the coffee house
more often and find a way to contrive an introduction.
About a week
later Hubert van Meissen’s luck was in while walking down the
strasse heading for the stock exchange, when he spotted Anna-Marie
Helzing and her chaperones entering the coffee house. He hesitated
for a moment then made for the coffee house. A little brass bell
above the entrance tinkled as van Meissen opened the door and stepped
inside. Then, seating himself at a small circular table covered in a
bright red, chequered cloth close to the three women, he ordered
time Hubert sat sipping his coffee and eavesdropping on the
conversation of the three women until it became obvious that they
were preparing to leave. Then, he suddenly moved his chair backwards
as if to stand up and bumped into the back of one of the elderly
ladies. As Hubert had planned, her coffee cup from which she was
about to drink the final drop tipped forward and spilled down the
bodice of her gown.
goodness,’ gasped the surprised elderly woman as a small brown
stain began to spread over her bodice. Pretending concern, Hubert
began apologising profusely and quickly produced a handkerchief for
the lady to dap at the stain with.
introducing himself and offered to purchase cakes for the ladies by
way of an apology for his clumsy, foolish behaviour.
replied the second older woman. ‘I’m afraid, Meneer van Meissen,
that is out of the question, although kind of you to offer, but we
are about to leave as miin man has business associates arriving for
luncheon and we are expected to attend.’
insist,’ pressed Hubert. ‘We are yet to be properly acquainted
and I will also pay for a cab for you ladies. Now, how does that
well. I suppose one little cake won’t hurt,’ replied the woman
who now introduced herself as the young woman’s Moeder and her
dochter as Anna-Marie. The second older woman was the young woman’s
Tante. Hubert pulled up a chair and sat down. Indicating for a
waiter, he ordered cakes and soon found he had the two older women
eating out of the palm of his hand, particularly when he emphasised
his wealth and status in the community. The dochter, Anna-Marie,
seemed a little less interested at this stage.
of this meeting was a number of accidental brief encounters, and
before long Hubert had asked permission of Anna-Marie’s parents if
he may ask her to go walking through the parks and along the canals
with him, which were soon added to by way of dining out, theatre and
By the time
Anna-Marie’s birthday came around, Hubert had discussed marriage
with her parents, who had agreed with enthusiasm as van Meissen was
clearly wealthy and had a more than suitable home for a bride. So
Anna-Marie was not only delighted with the gift of a puppy, but acted
surprised as young ladies were expected to at the marriage proposal
and engagement ring purchased at great expense from Amsterdam’s
were hastily made and the couple were married within the month, with
Anna-Marie moving into the beautiful spacious house with a servant to
do the cooking and chores. On arrival Hubert surprised her with a
gift of a beautiful green and blue parrot in a cage, which had been
suspended from the ceiling in the hall of the great house.
after Hubert and Anna-Marie had settled down to married life, Hubert
invited a friend to dinner who was familiar with the thriving art
community in Amsterdam to discuss with the couple Hubert’s wedding
gift to Anna-Marie. She was to have her portrait painted, and the
three of them sat round the table discussing this intention while
waiting for the artist to arrive.
was the first to notice a tall young man approaching the house, and
shortly afterwards a knock was heard.
will be Matteo,’ laughed Hubert’s jovial friend as the servant
opened the door. The moment their eyes met, Matteo and Anna-Marie
were attracted and could barely keep their eyes off each other
throughout the discussion to arrange for Anna-Marie’s portrait to
be painted, and a considerable sum was agreed. Almost simultaneously
as the young couple met for the first time, the parrot flew from his
cage, which had been carelessly left open, and disappeared through an
open window. Matteo, who couldn’t wait to be alone with Anna-Marie
and get to know her better, wanted to begin immediately and suggested
the following morning; Hubert having noticed nothing agreed.
At ten am
the following morning, Matteo arrived with his artistic accoutrements
in a cart and was shown to an upstairs room that had been prepared
for use as a studio and he began setting out his materials. First the
easel, then one or two canvases were propped against one wall and a
table beside the easel was spread with paints and brushes. Then he
set about a nervous wait for his subject to arrive.
minutes later two pairs of footsteps were heard on the stairs, and
both Hubert and Anna-Marie entered the room. Matteo’s eyes lit up
at the sight of Anna-Marie, as did her eyes at the sight of him. The
sight of the lovely Anna-Marie this morning, a little more scantily
clad than the previous day, excited him, and as he indicated for her
to sit down on a chaise longue, then picking up charcoal and paper,
he asked her to lower her pink silk dressing gown to reveal her
slender long neck and sculpted shoulders. He felt the merest trickle
of perspiration slide down his torso. Feverishly he began to sketch,
trying hard not to spend too much time gazing at the way her neat,
small, pert breast swelled slightly while resting on the weight of
her arm, as the silk dressing gown slipped a little lower causing her
white cotton chemise to fall from her shoulder.
Anna-Marie raised her dark smouldering eyes towards Matteo, her lips
parting slightly, Hubert gave a short cough and dropped his watch
back into his pocket, which brought the couple back into reality with
a sudden start.
that will be enough for today. We have a ball to attend this evening
and I do not want my wife to tire herself. Anna-Marie, get dressed,
please. I want you to rest now so you will enjoy the evening more.’
Meneer van Messien, you would care to inspect the sketches before I
transfer them to a canvas?’ gushed Matteo.
well,’ replied Hubert. ‘You go ahead, my dear. I’ll ask the
servant to bring lunch to your room and to you here,’ instructed
Hubert turning to Matteo.
wish, miin man,’ replied Anna Marie, pulling both her chemise and
dressing gown up around her shoulders as she moved towards the door
and left the room.
very good drawings,’ murmured Hubert thoughtfully. ‘Yes, begin
work. My wife will sit for you again tomorrow.’ And with that van
Meissen left the young artist to his work.
A short time
later van Messien was heard leaving the house. Moments later a note
slid under the studio door. Matteo left his work, picked up the note
down to the lower floor
boudoir is the third door on the left.
moment’s hesitation, Matteo left the studio and descended the
stairs only to be met by the servant on her way up with his lunch.
Meneer Matteo, I was just bringing you your lunch. Don’t you want
it?’ questioned the surprised servant.
course,’ replied Matteo, ‘but I need some air first so I thought
a short walk. Please leave the meal in the studio for me.’
replied the servant who continued on her way upstairs.
to attract attention Matteo knocked softly on Anna-Marie’s door.
a soft female voice bid.
opened the door and stepped into the room, closing the door behind
him and locking it. Anna-Marie was stood beside the dressing table
still wearing what she had worn for the sketches.
she gasped and a moment later they were in each other’s arms, each
searching for each other’s mouths, kissing passionately, exploring
each other with their tongues. Matteo’s hands moved towards
Anna-Marie’s waist and untied her dressing gown, which slid down to
the floor; then, with arms raised, her chemise came off revealing her
naked body. Matteo began caressing her small perfect breasts while
Anna-Marie tore at Matteo’s shirt, which he quickly pulled off.
Turning Anna-Marie around, he lifted her onto the bed and, still
kissing and caressing her body, teased her legs gently apart and slid
his hand between them. Anna-Marie gasped and tore at the lacing on
Matteo’s pants, aware of the stiffness beneath the fabric. At last
her hand caressed his cock and she guided him inside her. Their skin
glistened with sweat as they moved together in perfect
synchronisation, both enfolded in ecstasy. Peaking at the same time,
they then lay breathlessly entwined and fell into a deep slumber.
It was late
afternoon when they both woke. For a few moments they lay still,
listening to the patter of rain drops on the window pane. Then a
clock chimed five pm from somewhere in the house.
gave a start. ‘We must part, my love, for now. Miin man will be
home soon and I must be ready for the evening.’ With a lingering
kiss, Matteo reluctantly left.
love-making afternoons began to take place, meaning the portrait did
not come along as quickly as expected, and the servant began to grow
suspicious, then so did van Messins. With Matteo making feeble
excuses, such as the paint being a problem, it was taking longer than
expected to mix it to the right colour and consistency he would often
claim, but van Messiens kept life normal.
Then, as the
weeks passed, the air grew cooler as the seasons began to change,
leaves changed from green to brown and began falling from the trees.
Then came the day van Messeins returned home to find the servant
standing waiting in the hall for his return.
packed her things and left with that artist this morning,’ the
servant sniffed. Van Messiens just shrugged, poured a glass of wine
and waited for supper. This would be the start of his downfall,
although he did not yet realise it.
following February 1637 just one year after van Messiens dream
appeared to have become a reality, the mania for tulip bulbs came to
a dramatic end. Overnight the stock market crashed, leaving a number
of newly wealthy people destitute. Shattered and numb with shock, van
Messiens returned to his beautiful house, which would soon be lost to
him in a daze.
As when his
wife left, the servant was standing in the hall waiting for his
return. When he walked in, he looked straight at her and said, ‘I’m
the whole of Amsterdam knows,’ the servant replied solemnly. ‘It
was the least I could do to wait for your return.’
in his eyes van Messiens gazed about him at the large spacious rooms
and antiques, then he looked at the servant. ‘I’m sorry I can’t
pay you, I’ve nothing left to give.’
Master. It will be fine,’ she gently answered.
you go, you know the silver chocolate pot?’
course,’ replied the servant.
something to wrap it in. Don’t let anyone see you with it. Take it.
You should get something for it to feed your family,’ instructed
van Meissens. ‘Then go before the bailiff’s arrive.’
van Meissens took a bottle of wine from a cupboard. He sat at the
table and drank until the bottle was empty. He then left the house,
leaving the door open for the bailiffs, and walked dazedly down first
one strasse then another, gradually filling his pockets with stones.
When he reached the canal he stood for a few moments looking at the
gently rippling water reflecting the blackness of the night sky;
then, sitting on the canal wall, his feet dangling in the water, he
gradually eased himself down further and further into the dark water,
feeling the weight of the stones pulling him beneath the water’s
surface, until only one or two air bubbles could be seen. Then
nothing but calmness.
days later a farm labourer walking along the canal noticed a body
floating face down in the water and raised the alarm. Several people
came hurrying to the scene and with some effort pulled the bloated
body of van Meissens free of his watery demise.
I lean into graffiti of hate, of despair. Where tears leave me to write shitty poetry and try to eliminate the thought from my mind of banging my stupid head against the wall…
Anger—king anger, Never smiles or looks for a postcard from Utopia
It fades along the late fall skies
The tremors of Plath
The worth of Judas…
Just wrong, so fucking wrong…
Dan Provost’s poetry has been published by the small press for many years. His latest chapbook Wear Brighter Colors was released by Analog Submissions. He lives in Berlin, New Hampshire with his wife Laura and their dog Bella.
It was all my fault My immaturity got the better of me and I found myself less interested in finding a solution to our problems that in hearing her say You’ll not make an arse of me again in her rich British voice
Each time she said it was like a little thrill-spike to my rat brain a jewel in my diadem Or maybe it wasn’t— that phrase just popped to mind I don’t even have a fucking diadem
Our relationship was doomed due to nothing more than my penchant for colourful language
She was easily angered I was superficial I also didn’t care to develop a long-term committed relationship and said as much on the various dating websites I’d joined I’d even joined Christian Mingle because I’d been hooked by the poignancy of one of their commercials the one in which the dewy-eyed woman says: He’s my second chance
I guess my heart wasn’t in the game as much as it should be and when my new partner protested: I’m no one’s twat-waffle I couldn’t get enough of it
We would go down in flames on the Hindenberg of vociferously expressed non-twat-waffledom