Precious Sparkle  

Deep inside, safe and sound; 

resurfacing when energy abound: 

a different life lost: a new one found. 

Grim torture: an invisible prison. 

Cruel and confusing; no rhyme: no reason. 

Sleeping, while my body commits treason. 

Chronic symptoms known only by a few. 

Learning to cope with this perplexing view: 

so familiar, yet sadly feeling new. 

Life is sporadic: we all slip and slide. 

Chapters of history missed; but I’ve not died. 

Carefully on my way back: full of pride. 

I’ve kept afloat with positive thinking: 

these painful symptoms are slowly shrinking. 

In remission, I’m no longer sinking. 

I’ve … I’ve been here before, so many times before: 

lessons refreshed with a new hidden law; 

relearned, more frightening, heavy and raw. 

What is the secret to getting a parole? 

What’s good for the body is good for the soul. 

My continued good health; that is my goal. 

Precious sparkle, deep inside, safe and sound. 

Resurfacing when energy abound. 

A different life lost; yet another one found. 

By Lorraine Close, a performance poet and M.E. Survivor!
This poem has been published in M.E. magazines in the U.K and abroad

New Forest Awakening

A frosty morning with sun cresting the horizon

Vapour rising soft and  white.

Air clean and crisp.

A prism of light filters through shrouds of mist

And a sudden blaze of light

spotlights an Autumnal stage.

A robin sings shattering the calm,

whilst leaves drift down

spiralling on wings of the air.

Fir's naked limbs stretch skywards,

their tops bushy with needles

stretching endlessly towards sunlight.

And slash red holly berries herald

a cold winter

in the bright eye squinting sunshine.

By Tina Shaw,

Published in the Bucks Mills Poetry Magazine, Autumn 2018

“The King, my Lord, is dead!”

The lure of the limelight – a standing ovation – footlights – a rave review – acting – amdram – the wish to Break a leg!  Call it what you will, so many have heard the call and heeded the lure of the theatre. They have responded, trodden the boards, and with or without fame, their life has become changed.  Irrevocably altered, beyond recognition.

So it was with Aloysius. He had grown up listening on the wireless to heroes like Tony Hancock and The Goons; he could imitate perfectly the accents and nuances of the whole cast of The Navy Lark (including Wren Chasen) and he could recite a whole strong of Kenneth Horne’s farewell thoughts from listeners (“Horse racing – does it have its Epsom Downs?”).  But at school he had been ignored for school plays, mainly because he always had to run to the station and catch the train home, and so missed the after-school rehearsals. Then studies, a sort of career, marriage, and family commitments had meant that his ambitions and dreams had to be paced firmly on the back burner. But there they had lain, smouldering, and so when, his children having flown the nest and his wife too (she settled in Cannes with a starlet whose amazing figure owed a lot to the plastics industry) – when all that happened, he finally took his courage  in both hands and joined the local amdram group.

He quickly settled into the group, which met every Wednesday evening.  He was popular with the established players, because there was always a need for new members to do duplicating, and sourcing props, building and painting scenery, printing tickets and of course selling them, arranging the seating in the hall, reading the book and being ready to prompt the established actors – in fact to do anything other than act, for all the parts had been allocated amongst friends (or sometimes enemies) for several productions into the future.

And thus a year passed, then two, a third also.  But then, suddenly, an established member retired and was moved by his wife to a bungalow by the sea – and here at last was the chance for Aloysius (who, after all, surely already had the name for it?).  He was to be a Courtier. That was the title, although both the character (nebulous) and the costume (found at the bottom of a big chest) lent huge uncertainty to his identity. He could have been a nobleman, or an envoy, or indeed a rather glorious servant – but there he undoubtedly was: Third Courtier, Aloysius Thomason.  He marched in, he stood in line with others, he offered advice with his hands, he expressed shocked horror, and he bowed, before retreating. But – and this is where stardom at last crowned him – ten minutes later he alone of the courtiers strode onto the stage and announced to all and sundry, “The King, my Lord, is dead!” before the curtain fell and tumultuous applause broke out (for the whole play, not just for his line).

He practised day and night, and night and day, and after driving his cleaning lady mad, and shouting out his line in several wrong places during rehearsals, he finally got it right, and the actual performances (Thursday to Saturday, with an additional matinee on Saturday afternoon) were a resounding success, and Aloysius glowed with pride.

It was his crowning moment of glory, the high pinnacle of his career, the summit to which his life had lead.  He at last had achieved all that he had dreamed of, all he ever asked for! But he could not let the moment pass.  It was for ever with him. And with others. “The King, my Lord, is dead!” he announced regularly to his cleaning lady, before she handed in her notice.  “The King, my Lord, is dead!” he told his neighbour, who went indoors. “The King, my Lord, is dead!” he announced to the postmistress, who slammed down her grill.  “The King, my Lord, is dead!” he declared to his charming but not naive GP. “The King, my Lord, is dead!” he roared at the men in white coats who hustled him into the dark, waiting van.

By Harold Wonham