The Darkening

Shadows rooted in the sour
grooves that framed
her mouth. Invisible at first,
they bloomed in the living
map of her face, festered
in the lines on her brow,
in the web of crow’s feet
perched on cheekbones
and in every pore
of once perfect skin.
Within the purple moons
beneath shuttered eyes
darkness multiplied
spread along the wrinkles
of her neck, the valley
between breasts, the soft
folds of belly and genitals,
filling hollows and dimples
right down to the pink tips
of her toes. Eventually
shadows enveloped her
like a miasmic cloak.
In the mirror she saw
memories of memories
and not the shudder
of dust she had become.
In the street, folk saw
a swirl of fog and not
a woman named Margot.
They walked straight
through her and shivered.
Her words became a wild
keening of wind, creatures
of night her only friends.
Bats, moths, owls gathered
safe in her twilight wake.

Image created by the author

Other Worlds

The Haar is on the horizon again! After a successful launch last month The Purple Hermit’s creative arts e-zine will be back in June and is now seeking contributions from writers, artists, photographers, cartoonists and anyone with something different to say on the theme of ‘Other Worlds’.

Other Worlds, real or imaginary have fascinated many writers and artists including Shakespeare, William Blake and H.G.Wells. Dreams or nightmares, utopias, dystopias, parallel universes, Other Worlds offer the possibility of escape from our mundane reality. But we don’t need a time machine or space ship to find Other Worlds. They exist right here amongst us, in the mysteries at the bottom of the ocean, in the chaos of a forgotten garden shed or attic, in the alien environments of deserts and peat bogs or just behind the lace curtains of the house next door. Other Worlds also exist in the privacy of our own minds, within the sanctuary of books and films.

Photograph by Magenta Kent

Please get in touch via the Contact Page above for details of where to send your submissions.
Poems, short stories, non-fiction must be sent in a single Word document, images as a jpg. Poems must be no longer than 40 lines, short stories and non-fiction no longer than 2,000 words. Please send no more than a total of 3 poems and/or short stories and no more than 2 pieces of visual art. There are a limited number of slots. I want to keep this community arts feature as a small, friendly space so sadly not all work will be selected.

Everyone is welcome as long as the work is original. All contributions will be clearly credited to the author who retains copyright.

THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS MIDNIGHT 7th JUNE, 2021.

Get writing and clicking, the clock is ticking…

I very much look forward to reading your work on Other Worlds!

Best wishes from
Nikita Shackleton
😊

And finally as an inspirational PS here’s a film clip from Lars Von Trier’s stunning film Melancholia:-

The Crossing

Spheres of eau de nil slip through, careless.
The island glimmers like crushed glass.

She doesn’t look up when I speak
the sound of silence spiked with roses.

She is wearing a wolf jacket, face tilted
and edged with gold. A fandango is a gift

not for everywoman, she was someone
ten minutes before and her own name

centre stage. Now she prays as the invisible
life of the sea spills skywards. Pink naked

in newspapers, dislocation strikes a pose.
She turns. No place for strangers they say.

The first time is the hardest and she twists
for her dreams. I want to laugh until

I see rain pelting cheekbones and roll-ups.
Where was my power over water?

Image by the author

Strange Sightings

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…

Image by the author

To Whom It May Concern

It is highly likely your missiles will fly.
It is highly likely innocents will die.
It is highly likely children will cry.
It is highly likely your lips will lie.

Repeating a lie does not make it true.
Repeating a lie does not make it.
Repeating a lie does not make.
Repeating a lie does not.
Repeating a lie does.
Repeating a lie.
Repeating a
Repeat.

image by the author

The Hill O’ Many Stanes

My third and final guest poet is Mandy Beattie. Here is her mysterious poem inspired by a local Scottish landmark of standing stones.

A pantry of organic nettle tea
and skeins of wild raspberries
tumble through the turnstile
between times
of concrete & standing-stanes
where sky sits
a duck-egg blue ceiling
on the Hill O’ Many Stanes

The Land O’ The Cat
where Hairy-Brottachs hatch
into Louded Yellow and
Green-Veined White butterflies
and dandelion clocks puff
among mosaics of standing-stanes

Kneeling at a silver stane-pew
palming ley-lines with my life-lines
I am litmus among lichen
waking-dreaming of way-back-when
the Wee Folk jigged
in amethyst heather and fairy rings
in The Land O’ the Cat
where the veil’s still thin between worlds.

Poem Copyright of Mandy Beattie

Note:- The Hill o’ Many Stanes consists of about 200 small stones arranged in rows running down a low hill in East Caithness, Northern Scotland. They were erected about 4,000 years ago, possibly for gatherings and religious ceremonies. Caithness was once known as the Land of the Cat People, a reference to an ancient legendary tribe of Picts who inhabited the area.

Mandy Beattie, is a feminist from Caithness, with an MA in Social Work Practice & Research. Her poetry is a tapestry of stories and imagery, rooted in people, place & the natural environment, set at home and abroad. 

Image created by Mandy Beattie

Island Woman

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.

Meg in her garden

Zooming

Dutifully muted we wait in our bubbles, looking
at ourselves looking at ourselves smiling, looking
for clues in book shelves, potted plants, interiors.

Sid’s iPad is a shadow. Patrick props a stepladder.
Magi’s tablet belongs to a Ragdoll with blue eyes.
The third row shows bearded minimalists in grey.

The cool ones are sipping tea from chunky mugs.
The patient ones are still holding hands raised
while their rictus grins slip off screen to scream.

Three minutes to write a poem about the sea.
Try to recall how the sea looks, sounds, smells.
Time rubs out. One by one our bubbles turn black.

Photo by the author

Prelude

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.

Image created by the author