By Scott Bailey © 2017
Kept in deep dark fog
With tantalising beacons
But we remain lost
Kept in deep dark fog
With tantalising beacons
But we remain lost
In all the bluster and noise
There is lust
In the deepest dark
There is a pest
A ring of solid light
Hovers just above the ground
Spinning with infinity
Casts glamour all around
Where the white wolves dance
It is said the be the child
Of the seed of forbidden fruit
Born from secret knowledge
Found on a hidden a hidden route
The white wolves still dance
The colour pulses wild
Blue, silver and pure white
Dragging hearts round and round
Beneath the starlit night
On the white wolves dance
In a time-worn trench, they dance
Circling below the light
So deep the light they cannot see
The circle is out of sight
On the white wolves dance
The circle has been burnt
Into their very eyes
So while the dark wolf dreams
And while the dear time flies
The white wolves dance.
So high upon their mountain
On an island on a lake
Isolated and secure from
The world they do forsake
Where the white wolves dance
No matter the tailor
Clothes just don’t fit me well
And happy to be
We bumble along
In this universe
Buzzing with trivia and angst
While the sun roars
Black holes yaw
And starlight races by
Life bubbles up
Here and there
Obsessed with itself
As it is wont to be
The vacuum does not care
Maybe one day
Life will stumble
On the correct change
In the few idle moments of the day
The very few
How I can achieve my goals
How I will relax tonight
Finish my masterpiece
Find fame and fortune
And then the moment’s gone
Decisions are taken away
And I am the whim of everyone else again
I should stop thinking
So my dreams
Are no longer buried
Rapists come and go
grit your teeth
Carry a dagger
Hide in the woods
a thousand bones
You make it a film!
a hero’s theme
My mother didn’t pay
didn’t bear her cross
didn’t carry her cross
now lays beneath hers
My best suit
stained by the passing
the violent end
of my daughter
in my arms
Now you tell me
in your yellow coat
Go back whence you came!
The caper is up
The plot has escaped
From all those lords and ladies
In their ermine capes
We know their game
Time for revolution
Is that what we’ll do?
Or just carry on the same?
“My patience is almost spent.”
“I apologise Mr. Dickens. The situation is complicated.”
“I have been hearing that for two weeks now! And have been given nothing! No answers! I don’t know where I am. I don’t know what has happened to me. Everyone talks strange and treats me like some kind of alien or freak show. And where are my fucking family!”
For a second the Doctor looked horrified. Then he quickly composed himself.
“Again I can only apologise. But I will explain now. When I do you will understand our … reticence. “
“About time..”, muttered Henry.The Doctor gave him a look of pity.
“Brace yourself. “
Henry suddenly felt cold. The Doctor went on.
“Our records show that you were in a cycling accident.”
He pronounced cycling as if he didn’t know what the word meant.
“You suffered severe brain injuries. You were put into a coma to try to protect your higher brain functions. When the swelling had subsided the medical team tried to revive you. They failed. You remained in a coma.”
Henry shifted in his chair. His voice was broken as he spoke.
“I have been out for ten years?”
“It’s more complicated. While you were under the world around you changed. It got worse, a lot worse. Your wife… well it seems she was a sharp woman. She saw things clearer than most. For one thing she left us plenty of notes. That’s why we know so much.”
Henry felt a growing sense of dread. But he kept silent.
“Because she saw things clearly she prepared, took action. What I am going to tell you will be hard for you to hear. But bear in mind that with the benefit of hindsight we can see that what she did was for her family. For your children. She took steps to protect them.”
“Protect them?” His heart was racing. “Protect them from what?”
“There was a fucking war?” The Doctor flinched again, but he went on.
“Yes. It was a dark time.”
“World War Three?”
“Not quite. I mean that’s what people expected. What your wife thought was coming. But it was not and all-encompassing war like that. No one side against the other. No. What transpired was a series of many many, small wars between countries.”
He shuddered and continued.
“You might think that would have been better than a world war, but it was not. It was far worse. With just about every country in the world caught up in their own conflicts there was nobody to coordinate any kind of peace deal. No one to talk to anyway if there had have been. So the wars dragged on, for years, decades.”
“Decades? I thought you said ..” the Doctor stilled him with a look.
“Your wife saw the dark times coming. She took steps to protect her family. The first of which was she remarried. “
“She… what? She..”
“She married into immense wealth. And she used the money to protect her children and you. We know she did this well as we know they survived the dark times.”
“They are alive! I can see them!”
“No. You cannot. They are…. let me finish.”
A lump of dread was threatening to strangle him.
“She also tried to protect you. With all the resources of her great wealth she threw everything they had at the time towards reviving you. Nothing worked. Finally, when it looked darkest and there was no guarantee that anyone would survive she threw you one last desperate lifeline. An experimental treatment.”
The Doctor paused, looked him deep in the eye.
“She put you into suspended animation.”
Henry felt chilled to the bone.
“So no, you cannot see your wife and children. They have been dead for over two hundred years. We have only just been able to awaken you.”
“No. No, this can’t be. It’s some sort of sick joke isn’t it? There’s cameras in here. Well it’s not funny! I want to see my family!”
“Please Mr Dickens, please calm down. I know this is a lot to take in and I am sorry. But there is more. There is something else you need to know.”
“Calm down? Calm the fuck down? I want my family in this room! Here and now! Don’t give me any more bullshit.”
The doctor nodded very slightly, subtly, but Henry noticed.
It was too late.hands he didn’t see took a firm hold of his arms. Held him steadfastly. He felt a cold disc of metal against the skin of his neck, there was a hiss, then he fell swirling into darkness.
“You want me to what!?”
Henry looked at the panel before him, twelve men and women, with utter disbelief.
“Mr Dickens. We understand that you have a lot to take in over the last few weeks.”
“A lot!” Henry stared. How could they possibly understand. He has lost everything. His family, his love, his world. He had seen very little of this world but he had seen enough to know that it was not his. He was an alien here.
And now this.
“We understand that you have lost a lot. You have to understand that the world has lost a lot too.”
“I have heard all about your wars. Lots of people died. Yes.”
“They were not our wars, “ said the chairman of the panel, his voice calm and cold. “And I don’t think you have an appreciation of just how many people died, or what that meant.”
Henry didn’t see what any of it had to do with him. The chairman continued anyway.
“The population of the earth was cut by 75%. You have no idea what that did to us. There were very few people left to run things. Very few who knew how to keep things running. Power stations failed. Oil wells stopped pumping. Machines broke down. Nobody knew how to rule, how to respond to the disasters. All that had been wiped away in war after war.
“The times after the wars were darker than the actual wars. The world came close to slipping into barbarism. In many places it did.”
“And you came along and saved it,” said Henry sourly.
“We survived. We were not involved – because we were overlooked. We had no wealth, no strategic value. Largely we were forgotten up in the mountains.”
He paused, letting Henry take in his words. Henry said nothing so he continued.
“We don’t really know what triggered many of the wars, people say it was largely financial – but those are theories, based on times gone by. What we do know is that as things got more and more desperate the terms of the conflicts changed. They became more ideological. In many cases fiercely religious. This was why many of them could not be stopped, there came a point where reason stopped being any part of the fighting.
“It was another reason we were not drawn into it. As Buddhists we eschewed all the arguments for fighting. But we were also no threat to anyone. Those that were bent on converting the world, well – most had forgotten us, or were just leaving us to last.
“So in the end, we survived just by being the last ones standing. We were the only thing left close to being a coherent nation.
“And we were used to living frugally. We were in a unique position to fill the niche so to speak.
“So people flocked to us. They saw our way of life working. Saw it as a light in the dark, a hope.”
“And you made them all convert!” Henry spat.
“Not at first,” replied the chairman. “That was not our way, never had been. But it was a disaster. Trying to accommodate everyone’s views, conflicting ways of doing things. Trying to keep on top of all the old tensions, historical hatreds and prejudices. Well it almost tore us apart. And we were so fragile then, we still are.”
The chairman leaned forward.
“You have to understand something. The earth is damaged. It’s worn out, and depleted. It will never recover, not in the ways we would want it to. The comforts and luxuries of generations past have gone. If we are to survive we must change our ways. And some of those ways might seem extreme to you. They are – but so is our situation.”
“So I have to convert to Buddhism! No choice!”
“That is correct. and it has to be genuine. You must live by our ways.”
“What do you do check up on me? Monitor me? Give me exams every month or something.”
“We do not need to. The way our society is structured, if you do not follow our ways, it would be obvious. If your thoughts do not flow with those around you – it will be grossly evident to all around you.”
“So I am not even allowed to think outside of your precious bloody ways.”
“As I said, the ways are extreme, and your manner does not fit – at the moment.”
Henry snorted in derision. Did they really think he was going to take this.
“And if I refuse?”
“We cannot allow the possibility of disruption to the balance. You will be executed.”
Henry stared open-mouthed.
“You are kidding! That doesn’t sound very like the Buddhism that was around in my time.”
“Maybe not – we have had to make our sacrifices too. But we are humane.”
“How can killing someone be humane?”
“You would die happy and fulfilled. We have our ways”
“Well hoo – fucking – ray!”
“Are you sure that you do not want to change your mind?” said the monk. Henry assumed it was a monk. He looked like the Buddhist monks from his own era but he just didn’t know any more.
He wasn’t sure he cared either.
“Why would I do that?”
“So you can live,” said the monk with surprise.
“What for? My life is gone. Everything I knew is gone. My life would be as a stranger in a cage of rules I don’t want and don’t understand. I can’t live like that.”
“You haven’t given it a chance. You have no idea the peace and joy of our lives. You are judging us by your primitive standards. You…
“Enough!” A voice of authority barked from a hidden source. The monk started and looked guilty and continued preparing the elaborate machine Henry was embedded into.
Joy indeed! Henry snorted to himself. Get on with it, he thought.
The monk appeared to comply. He stepped back, nodded at the back wall and left.
The machine hummed and enclosed further around Henry like some futuristic iron maiden. A needle swung into his vision, poised at his neck and then stopped.
The voice spoke again.
“It saddens us to do this friend. But our society, mankind, must survive.”
“Yes, yes. I can imagine the tears you are shedding.”
“You will not change your mind?”
“You will not let me live among you without converting?” Henry countered.
“Not even for a limited time – say a month, to see if you can change my mind?” The sarcasm in his voice told them all he did not expect any reasonable answer to that.
“Then get on with it!”
“Very well. Judge! Carry out the execution.”
Henry didn’t even take a breath. He’d had enough, reached his limit. He wanted it ended.
Nothing happened. He looked up, the needle stayed poised, he could almost see the poison dripping from it.
“Judge! What is happening? Carry out the execution.”
“No.” The new voice was quietly defiant.
“What? Judge, carry out your task, execute him.”
“No!” What Henry presumed was the Judge’s voice was louder and firmer this time. “I will not. He is right. We should give him time amongst us.”
“This is not acceptable, Judge, do your job!”
“What does it say about our society if we do not trust it to be good enough to sway him? If we are scared that it so weak that a single man can topple it? We need to start our own healing, and it should start with him. We will give him his time. One month. If he is still not convinced, I will carry out the sentence.”
“This is not acceptable, Judge!”
Something stirred in Henry. Suddenly, out of nowhere he wanted what the Judge was offering him. A chance. A chance to live.
“You will accept it. I am the only one in this world who can carry out this sentence and I will not.”
“Will not be able to carry it out. I have already locked him out of all the processes. Only I can release the locks. He will have his time.”
“Next up, we are talking to the sensation of the age. The man who was frozen in time and has awoken to join us in the future. The man who escaped death twice and who is shaking the world. The man the leaders fear, the man who asks questions.
“Well today, we hope, he will be answering some of our questions.”
The interviewer turned to Henry while the applause of the audience died down. Henry squirmed uncomfortably. Of all the damn things to survive into this century it had to be talk shows! And he was the fucking subject.
He had to remember not to swear too. He had learnt it was considered way more offensive in these times than his own.
“Mr Dickens, thank you for joining us, let us begin with the biggest question.
“OK.” said Henry.
“We have all heard your remarkable story, it has tugged at all our hearts, we all grieve for your losses. The question we have is, why did you refuse conversion when offered at first? Why, as it appears did you choose death?”
Henry was suddenly overwhelmed with emotions that he struggled to keep under wraps. Grieve for my losses? What could they possibly understand about his losses! The very stupidity of the question betrayed how little they could understand.
How could he answer that?
The audience did not let him. A voice shouted out.
“Why didn’t you just convert!? What’s wrong with our way of life?”
Henry couldn’t see the source of the voice. He sounded like a fanatic, a tone not uncommon in this new world he had discovered.
“I knew nothing about it, you expected I would just convert, without questioning what I was getting into.”
“What’s to question? This way of life has saved us, saved humanity.”
People clapped and cheered the questioner.
“Has it? Or has it turned you all into cattle? Sheep that blindly follow ‘the way’.”
The audience booed and jeered at him, he was a little surprised. His opinions were not exactly secret, they had been broadcast around the world for the two weeks since his stay of execution.
He was the biggest news story of the time.
Hardly surprising as very little else seemed to be happening in the world.
They had peace OK. And it was boring.
“Let him speak!” another voice rang out above the protests.
The audience quietened down, shocked that someone, one of their own appeared to be supporting him.
“Let us hear what he has to say. If our society is so perfect then what possible threat could he be?”
Henry was surprised himself to hear a small ripple of applause supporting this new stance.
“Sure, you have peace. Your society is a model of sustainability and balance. I admire it in many ways. But it is frozen, you are so scared to upset the balance you allow no change. You have stopped growing. You might survive for now, but when change comes – when it is thrust upon you, you won’t know how to deal with it, how to adapt.
“You are like a rose, frozen in liquid nitrogen. Beautiful, preserved for all time, but dead. And easily shattered with a single blow.”
“Why didn’t you just pretend? Just convert and be quiet?” said the original voice.
Henry stood angrily now.
“I spent the whole of my old life dreaming of being someone. Of making my mark on the world. Leaving behind a legacy beyond just my genes. But I didn’t, I was nothing. I worked, I existed, I supported my family, I loved. But nothing more than what every other person was doing around me. I always dreamed one day, one day – but that day was never to be.
“And now – you expect me to just shut up and become just another cog in the machine again. With even less freedom and liberty than before? Well fuck you all if that’s what you think.”
“Savage!” a woman screamed.
“No! He is right! Why can’t we question things? Why can’t we change things?”
“Do you want war to return? Do you want our blood?”
“We can question without conflict!”
Suddenly the audience erupted. Everyone was on their feet, trying to shout down each other. Henry thought it looked evenly split but it looked messy.
The aggression was rising.
The flabbergasted host turned to his assistants.
“Get him out of here!”
Hands grabbed in and he was whisked away.
Two days later he was back in the machine. He was not afraid, or angry any more. He just felt resigned.
He couldn’t resist a dig though.
“What happened to one month?”
“The situation has become critical,” said the hidden voice. “As feared your presence amongst us has caused much disruption.”
So he had heard. It seemed the feeling of that show audience reflected that of society at large. It has sparked great debate. Even some protests he had been told.
Well, maybe that was something.
“So Judge?” Henry asked wryly. “Changed your tune too?”
“The Judge is not present,” said the original voice. “His apprentice will carry out the execution.”
“Oh? Worked out a way past the safeguards and locks then?”
“Unfortunately no. We have been forced to take more drastic measures. This injection is more direct, more painful I am sorry to say.”
“What happened to your humanity then?” smiled Henry. He felt slightly manic now, he could almost laugh at his own imminent death.
There was a sudden bang, and he thought he could hear shouts in the distance. He looked up surprised. It felt suddenly like something unplanned was happening.
“Please continue,” said the voice. It sounded hurried, unsure.
The machine hummed into life, the needle bore down on him.
Well this was it, he had tried, in this his second life, to make a difference. It was a shame he would never know if it had worked.
There was a louder bang and suddenly glass broke. Henry turned his head to see the room being broken into. People were storming the place.
He seemed to suddenly see very clearly what was happening. They were trying to save him, but they were doing more than that.
They were leading a revolution.
Maybe they would bring conflict back to their society, maybe they would tear it down, but he was sure they would build something better.
As the crowd tried to surge past the security trying in vain to hold them back the needle pierced his skin.
They were too late. Even as they broke through he felt the darkness descending.
But he was happy and fulfilled.
The red sails are rising
In the grey of the dawn
The grey spume is parting
Before the forlorn
Drawing out passion
To the young and the lost
Into the sea they stream
The red sails are gone
Over the blue
Long is the draught
Of its bitter brew
The red sails are parting
Lovers and mothers
From the vein of their hearts
The red sails are empty
Of all that they took
The decks all wiped bare
Dreams all forsook
The red sails are cursed
My mother’s onshore
But none will set sail
To settle the score
The secret passenger
Just looking for a snack
Of the death that he carries
Why aren’t we railing?
Why aren’t we mad?
Why do we sit in silence?
In apathy so sad.
Is the sickle blunted?
The hammer dropped and cracked?
Has the guillotine lost its edge?
Has liberty backtracked?
The peasants have moved on
From field to factory to desk.
Is it beautiful progress
Or captivity grotesque
So day after day
after day after day.
We struggle and toil
No time to play.
We hand over our freedom
We hand over our cash.
While the fat cats sleep
on their growing stash.
Where is the spirit of liberty?
The hero in the square?
The lone horse trodden woman.
Defanged are those who care.
Where is the local
The friendly greengrocer
The watering hole
The fire we gathered around?
Now we are islands
Floating in a digital sea
Waving to each other
Smiling, winking, liking
While we drift apart
We all have those moments
That we cringe to recall
Should we try to wipe them?
Or are they signposts to us all?
Time for illusion
For magic to be cast
For the world to fade
And dreams to ascend
Blank piece of paper
Or an idle doodle
Or a poem of grief
A stiff complaint
A soft seduction
Of a whole new world
We should meddle
With the peddling of their lies
We should obscure
All the surety of their spies
We should extrapolate
What they obfuscate
To find truth
We should hold hands
In bands and lands
The suits stand ready
To relieve you of your cash
Thus I am relieved
A rustle of brown
A song trilling in the trees
A fine spread of delicate feathers
High, in a clear blue sky, a buzzard soars
Mobbed and harried by dark ravens
The red and gold darting finch
The woodpecker drill
The hooting owl
These are the birds
Catching my eye
Is life just spin the bottle
As the bottle maker laughs
Or a game of hopscotch
Lines drawn in shifting sand
Children’s games and distractions
Carried over time
Methods and controllers
Ugly the scar
We leave upon this earth
As we puncture
And drill, and frack and crack
A long, searing scar
If this is what marks
The passage of our lives
What then will mark
The red taper burns
Slow, slow, slow
Till the orange flame gives up
And its wispy soul
Blue and grey
The greater the volume
The more stress upon the foundation
The higher the lofty morals
The shakier the ivory tower
Oh how the papers wail
How the timelines howl
The mad feeding frenzy
Of the trolls
Hot metal smell
And deep green metallic
The Triumph roars
Spit and polish
Iron and wash
Put out the bins
Head off to work
Stuck in a jam
Ground to a halt
In the program
He was natty
Always wore a smile
Going the extra mile
Clearly had a plan
On a roll
Simply, the Man
When he stopped
And that was that
He took aim
Such a shame
Ended with a splat
Just like school
The non-uniform times
Are when our true colours show
So what does that say
Simple white paper
Flowing blue lines
Beyond the bounds
When the white wolf walks
Hunting in silver moonlight
The red deer shivers
Strings and drums
Swells and thrums
Filling halls and domes
Even sneaking in our homes
It warms our hearts
Can upset carts
Evoke our tears
Even stoke our fears
Calm the day
And send away
The darkest thoughts
Even move the worst of sorts
In empty air
So play the notes
Even on our dreams, it floats
In response to my daily prompt Pressure
#DailyPrompt, #amwriting, #postaday
The trial of damns
Before the salmon’s reward
Bringing death and life
Mighty angel falls
Rules over a new domain
Longer verse explains
For perfect lives
We give our teens
Of fame and fortune
And every flick of every light
Every glossy page so bright
Every song of every type
Every ad with teeth so white
Every billboard, every bus
Every website we like or plus
Every search and every text
Every life that we connect
Every meal and every drink
Every label phrased succinct
The many many many times
Perfect views assault our eyes
Programming the soft and greying minds
The wrong things
So much effort
For those minds
Are really wired
With the truth
It purrs like a magic cat
Glows like a willo’ the wisp
Warms like toasted buttered bread
Its spell cast out to the silver screen
Childhood senses Seep away The textures of touch Savoury tastes And sweet The exhilaration Of G-Force The warmth Of a bed The brightness Of a blue sky All wilting away Smoothed plain by time and tasteless demands and saccharine Bound by safety belts and laws Hot fevers of uncomfortable dreams Under greying skies How to get it back?
Flash in the dark blue sky
Clash of sword and bone
Roar of fire high above
Heaven’s thunderous tone
Samurai meets his nemesis
A dragon of the sky
Golden claw fights silver blade
Above the mountains high
Gods look down with fearful frowns
While people gaze above
Do they fear the fiery jaws
Or the hardened iron glove
The enduring will of the flying knight
Feeds his skilful blade
The ancient wisdom of the drake
Ensures he’ll not be played
Red streaks of fire on velvet sky
Silver streaks cut through
Showers of sparks come raining down
To birth a magic brew
And still the battle blunders on
All over every land
Until the both when both are stilled
By a cold and magic hand
The thistle embraced the wilting rose
Joined the lands as one
Wars still rumbled across hill and plain
Dividing faith from faith
The stewards who ascended high
Would rise and fall and rise
Held heads so high they thought divine
Then tumbled to the ground
Sons of the island lost to war
The people scarred and tired
One form of tyrant sent to death
Another imposed dark law
Return and rise the steward’s house
Shaky on the seat
Look to longingly to the holy see
The thistle withered away
In response to my daily prompt North
#DailyPrompt, #amwriting, #postaday
Waves of gold crash onto the shore
Bringing fire and steel and songs and roars
Colour and light bleed into the dark
Writing new borders, new Gods, new laws
Times of war and the shining axe
The pagan, the warrior, the thegn
The land divided up once more
Darkness was here again
Lost the marble luxuries
Returned to hall and hearth
Here began the journey
Of these words winding path
And here were born the names
That linger down through time
That gives us all identity
Born from conquests crime
In response to my daily prompt Marble
#DailyPrompt, #amwriting, #postaday
Once held back the sea
My name lent to these lands
Wandered since the dawn of time
Wander lonely still
The unseen walker in the trees
Always close behind
The whisperer good rulers heed
Then drowned out by greed
have been, am still, will be
When the time is right
Fatherless, explorer, wisdom’s well
Poet for the fight
Spark and dart through time and night
Dealing fate some blows
In response to my daily prompt Barrier
#DailyPrompt, #amwriting, #postaday
I hold aloft my steel
With invaders blood
My flag whips
High on the hill
A victory that will echo
Across the land
At my feet
Men women and children
Warriors and supporters
Murder of an infant nation
That will yet rise again
My sword and I
Will be hailed
The hero and his weapon
In response to my daily prompt Victory
#DailyPrompt, #amwriting, #postaday
The act of fixing someone else’s
As it’s also known
Early sun rises
And a lazy eye opens
We create darkness
Where we can’t explain
Holds the universe together
Expands it fast
But most powerful of all
This will tear us apart
Dark gathering cloud
Brooding and beautiful
Waiting for the flash of light
The piercing blue-white crack
And the wind
The raw whipping wind
And the release of rain
and the rainbow
The gulf between us grows and grows.
I wonder were we ever close?
Is it a myth we tell ourselves?
To give us false kudos.
One looks on one with envy
the other with disdain
But neither can leave the contract
for nothing is to gain?
Still the gulf grows wider
bridges tumble down
Yet the ties are tighter
Deeper runs the frown
Round and round this story goes
Will it ever end
The futile fixing of a problem
That will never end
So we have to ask ourselves
For richer? For poorer?
A word is a ripple
Spreading through the world
With slow, subtle effects.
Imagine then what a few more, well placed, can do.
By Scott Andrew Bailey
The poor relation
In the metal family
First to be used
Didn’t even get an age
That draws you on
Inside our own little
Only our way
The world wide web
Promised to widen the world
Narrowed our minds