The Northern Crack 1st April, 2021. Exclusive Interview Reveals All: Were they really Sirens?
I was driving home after night shift at Wick General. The sun was rising and it was quiet on Cliff Road. I approached the roundabout at 15 mph. Visibility was poor. A whisky mist hovered over the river. At first I thought they were new road signs but then I saw wings. So I thought maybe pelicans or those big birds with fancy feathers, ostriches? Perhaps they’d escaped from a zoo? But then I saw the bare chests (in April!) chiselled, bronzed and sleek like Chippendales and I thought they must be three guys letting rip on a stag night or hungry patients on the run looking for a cooked breakfast. They had long blonde hair like the Angel Gabriel and one of them strummed a guitar. I forgot to keep left or look right and never saw the red Fiesta crash into the wall of Mackay’s Hotel or the Transit van fall off the bridge. The old lady with the cocker spaniel walked right in front of me. It was too late to stop. I’ll never forget her torn face and the blood. I could see the three of them in my mirror peeling her skin like gold foil from a chocolate Easter bunny. I was listening to AC/DC’s Highway to Hell full blast to stay awake so I never heard them singing. That’s why I’m still here, I suppose…
The Haar is the name for my new bimonthly magazine slot. I’m inviting writers, poets, artists, photographers, cartoonists or anyone with something different to say to send in contributions on a theme. This is an online community feature and everyone is welcome so long as the work is original. All work will be clearly credited to the author who retains copyright. Please use the contact form to get in touch if you want to submit a piece. There are a limited number of slots. I want to keep this feature small scale so sadly not all work will be selected.
The word limit for short stories is 2,000. Poems must be no more than 40 lines in length.
The theme for April’s The Haar is ‘Behind the Mask’
The deadline to send in your contribution is 31st March.
I’m looking for the broadest interpretation of the theme, not just Pandemic related. Who are we when we remove our masks? What lies behind the personas we create to survive in society. We are all different people in the privacy of our own homes and we behave differently according to where we are. We all try to fit in one way or another. I’d like to see and hear what happens when we let our hair down and truly open up…our loves, fears, jealousy, anger, hopes, worries, mistakes, secrets…
Looking forward to receiving your contributions.
For those who don’t know, as well as being a cool name for my creative arts e-zine, Haar is a special type of fog that suddenly rolls in from the sea transforming the world into a mysterious dream. Even on a sunny day in Scotland nowhere and no one is safe from the Haar!
Here’s a sultry, sensuous poem from my guest poet for this post, the talented Meg Macleod.
I remember braiding her hair, the woman who shared her island with me. “I can’t reach it now,” she said to me. Her hair, as soft as silk, pale golden silk. My fingers lifted it, brushed it out, dividing it into three strands. I slowly braided it letting it fall down her back. “So fine,”I said. “Beautiful.” I walked out across the sun bleached porch and stood looking out over the sea while she wrapped salmon in seaweed and baked it in a fire between the rocks on the shore.
Poem copyright of Meg Macleod
Meg was born in 1945 in England. She lived in America and Canada before moving to Scotland in 1974 where she now resides on the north coast in a house looking out over the sea towards Orkney Islands. Meg has a BA in Fine Arts. Her beautifully illustrated book of poems entitled Raven Songs is available to buy from Amazon.
For the first time on the Purple Hermit we have a poem from a guest poet, fellow Scottish writer and friend, Alastair Simmons. Enjoy!
Blue Poppies (In memory of Esther)
She took ages to answer the door in the heavy summer rain. Finally, she fumbled open the catch. Her hand was bandaged, her eyes blackened, on a white face. “Err, I’ve had a fall,” she said, her hands still shaking. “Err, I’ve come about the garden, gardening,” I said. Suddenly, her eyes sparked then ignited ninety plus years held in darkening pupils, the delicate filament in her blue iris illuminated. “Did I tell you about trekking in the Himalayas? Right over the pass for six days. I remember now, the blue poppies, wonderful,” she said. She began talking, as if she’d known me all of my relatively short life. She took my arm and leaned hard on the old wooden stick, “Now let me show you the roses.” The summer rain pelted like an Asian monsoon. We didn’t notice.
By Alastair Simmons 2012
Alastair lives on the Northeast Scottish coast, finding inspiration in the landscapes of Scotland and Northern England, and also it’s cities. And the gardens he creates, working as a gardener. “Poetry is about finding connection and expressing that feeling, whether it’s people, nature or worlds we find ourselves in.”
Something is wrong. A grey fog stinking of wet wool hovers above my bed when I wake. I hit reset and instantly a citrus glow permeates the Sense-o-Net. Lemon scent cuts through the fug. Bitter-sweet, my six naked limbs dissolve like butter on hot toast. I hit open and the view unreels; a newborn sun rising from the sea, a debonair yacht with a white sail, a labrador chasing a beach ball. Let’s get this show on the road, I hit extraterrestrial to transcode.
“The poet’s job is to translate unspeakable things on to the page…”
“Poets don’t get into poetry for money, they do it for vocation – I feel like that anyway. Poets can touch hearts and minds; they can translate trauma into something people can face. Sometimes there’s a cost for the poet to do that as it takes looking at the trauma right in the face and then allowing others to bear the idea of trauma safely. That’s why I write poetry. Poems are empathy machines.
Racism is a system that keeps propagating itself. It wasn’t the bankers, millionaires or computer magnates we turned to in the crisis – it was the nurses, garbage cleaners, supermarket workers; I hope those people will be valued more.”