LEADERS - not followers

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Sunday Scribblings – ‘A Winter’s Tale’
Writers Island Journal 8 – ‘Memories’
Matinee Muse – ‘To Overcome’

The $700 price-tag, attached to a simple, but essential journey

(Includes accommodation and transport from/to Bangkok)

Visa-run; vacate Thailand.
Can’t buy
No fly

Hualamphong trains are full
No fuss
Don’t cuss
Take bus

VIP coach, door-to-door?
First class?
Hopes pass

Twelve seats; sixteen passengers
I mean,

No fun for the feint-hearted
Seat share
Sleep, rare

Thousand kilo plus journey
Wrong ways

Adds two hours to the timeframe
No pain –
No gain

Trang, Songkhla, Hat Yai, Sadao
Ease cramp

Border post formalities
Check bag
Smoke fag

Warning to in-bound tourists
Drug scan!
Don’t plan!

Butterworth, Malaysia
Short trail
Set sail

Nearby island, our target
Calm seas
Cool breeze
At ease

Disembark Pulau Pinang
Port town

Looking for a place to stay?
Cheap rate?
Room mate?

Lorong Cintra, hostel dorm
Twelve beds
Dead heads
No zeds!

Late at night, Chulia Street
Beer shack
Street snack

New-age travellers abound
Long hair
Tale share
‘Stoned’ stare

Impromptu midnight market

Daylight street sights come to life

Indian, Chinese, Malay
Food trade
Gold weighed

Imposing Komtar Tower
Chain stores
Brace scores
Of floors

Penang Road Bridge; direct link
Strait spanned

Passport process to complete
Join queue
Then stew

Two days in the ‘waiting room’
Time out!
Get out
Find out

Shun tourists; check out locals
I steer
To rear
Folk here

Liven up a bland sojourn
Feed me

Tell me of their history
Brit rule
Life cruel
No school

Faced with abject poverty
No stash
Of cash
To splash

To ease the wretched lifestyle
The poor
But more

Uncomplaining dignity
They dare
To care
And share

Welcome me with open arms
Glad I
Came by
Said ‘Hi’

Suitably shamed, yet inspired
Trust fed
Street cred.
Face red

Immigration; visa stamped
Long wait
Pay rate
New date

Border crossing to Thailand
Last chance
Quick glance

Still twenty hours from Pinklao -
Sai Thai.
Hopes high
Hours fly

Say ‘Sawasdee khrap, Krungtep’
Year more
In store

The process begins again

Hualamphong – Bangkok Railway Station
Trang, Songkhla, Hat Yai, Sadao – Thai place names, en-route south
Pulau Pinang – Penang Island, (Malaysia)
Lorong Cintra – Love Street
Roti – Similar to Naan Bread
‘Toddy’ – Alcoholic drink made from fermented coconut
Pinklao – Area of Bangkok
Sai Thai – South-bound bus terminal, Bangkok
‘Sawasdee khrap, Krungtep’ – ‘Hello, Bangkok’

Self Catering breakdown

Public transport to Hualamphong - $1
‘VIP’ bus to Penang - $20
4 nights hostel accommodation - $8
‘VIP’ bus to Bangkok - $20
Public transport home - $1
Total - $50
(Plenty of stories to tell)

Package breakdown

Taxi to Bangkok airport - $20
Economy class Penang return air fare - $400
Taxi to hotel – $15
4 nights mid-range hotel accommodation - $240
Taxi to airport $15
Taxi from Bangkok airport - $20
Total - $710
(Nothing to write home about)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fourth Millennium (13)


8 The One That Got Away (Cont)

In his weakened condition that only offered him brief moments of consciousness, Marc not only survived, but realised, once he’d managed to convince himself he was not hallucinating, that the violent turbulence he’d endured for several weeks, had miraculously come to an end. It wasn’t, however, until a further six hours had elapsed, and the sensations of turbulence within his own body, that mirrored the hostile phenomenon, had eased, that he was able to leave the confines of his casket. For the first time in his life, and despite the uncontrollable trembling that hampered his progress, he viewed what had remained hidden behind the ‘Ring’ for over a century; the ‘other side’ of the world.
The sudden return to natural light; in fact dazzlingly bright sunshine was the greatest challenge so far posed to the effectiveness of his artificial eyes. The loss of the boat’s power source had disabled the sun visor tinting feature of the vessel’s viewing panels, allowing the blinding brilliance, free access to the interior of the forward observation post. In response, Marc pulled his tunic up around his head and closed his eyes, re-introducing them to the light, in slow, uncomfortable stages.
He’d been neither hallucinating nor dreaming; the sea was dead calm. It spread before him in a perfectly flat expanse of blue, while behind him’ a kilometre or more away, the ‘Ring’ lurked threateningly.
The ecstatic sense of pure relief this brought to him, drew reserves of strength and belief from somewhere within, that renewed his optimism, and took his mind, temporarily, off his fragile condition. He was able to gain access to his main supply of fresh drinking water, on which he continued to survive until he sighted land.
The calm waters of the deep ocean were replaced by the roll and bounce of the tidal, coastal swell. A strange and discomforting sense of déjà vu threatened to unbalance his sensibilities further, as he relived, momentarily, the experiences of the ‘Ring’. When he recovered his coordination sufficiently to realise, in the fading light of evening, that conditions were of a much tamer nature than previously, he was only a few hundred metres from the shore. The tide was drawing him closer to the treacherous cliffs that lay between him and relative safety. He had no idea of where he was, but could not rule out the possibility that he had achieved the impossible, and actually crossed to the far side of the ‘Ring’.
A million questions entered his head, but one in particular, returned repeatedly, to dominate his thoughts.
Were the natives hostile?
The question of whether or not he had been spotted, seemed irrelevant; unable as he was, to make any attempt to escape. His only hope, he felt, was if he could make it ashore, he would have to somehow conceal the boat and lie apparently stranded, on the beach, until someone found him. They could draw their own conclusions about his fate, from his emaciated, bedraggled appearance.
The boat was battered against the cliffs, time after time, before the surge of the tide carried it into a fissure in the rocks, where it came to rest in a pool, inside the cavern that had been formed.
When nobody came to visit the short stretch of beach in the cove, the following morning, Marc assumed that fortune had guided him to an unpopulated region. The four hundred metre trudge through the soft silvery sand, all but depleted his final reserves of energy. Scrambling over the rocks, in a desperate bid to locate a source of water, food and much needed medical attention was an effort of immense, strength sapping proportion.
Although public access to the coast, throughout the Nation, was ‘officially’ forbidden and physically restricted, the sea itself provided a source of food that the Nation was keen to harvest, in order to nourish its citizens. Fish were kept and bred in immense farms that stretched for thousands of kilometres, around much of the coastline. Countless sheets of Carbolite mesh had been submerged and arranged to form football field sized caged areas, containing every edible species of vegetation, crustacean, and shell, as well as fish. Birds and aquatic mammals also formed part of the project, which was staffed by the ‘Aquacultural Labourers’, who lived, separated from the ‘Riff Raff’, in the single-storey, low-level complexes that extended from the narrow walkways, surrounding the caged areas.
The labourer who found Marc, lying panting and exhausted, on the narrow stretch of sand close to the access pier to the farm, assumed by his unfamiliar clothing that he was a labourer from a neighbouring farm, who had fallen into the sea and been swept by the tide, to be washed ashore, close to her section. She raised the alarm, and Marc was dragged to safety, before being transferred to a medical centre within the Sector. Marc had no recollection of the events that followed, but regained consciousness some days later, hooked up to a drip and wired to a monitor that recorded the various functions of his brain and vital organs.
Marc could gauge from his relatively primitive surroundings, and his unfamiliarity with the instruments to which he was attached, that he hadn’t come ashore in St. George. This left only one improbable explanation; he had indeed, beaten all the odds, and become the first Georgian to set foot on, or even, see the Nation, in a century, or more.
The main thing was, he felt, remarkably, no lingering effects of his horrific ordeal.
Inevitably, no sooner had he displayed the first signs of consciousness in almost a week, than the questions regarding his identity and details of residence, began. These questions, although intended purely for his own benefit, were ‘official’ responsibilities, and as such were asked by uniformed ‘Service Personnel’. Unaware of any aspects of ‘official’ procedures in the Nation, Marc decided that a plea of ignorance would be his best course of action, and to each question, he provided the same answer;
“I don’t remember.”
As time passed and the questions continued, he realised he wasn’t going to be allowed to leave the hospital, without satisfactory answers. He didn’t want to reveal his real name; for fear that this might lead to the revelation of his origin, and had to devise an appropriate alternative.
It had been explained to him, in an attempt to jog his memory, that he could only possibly have come from one of the many fish farms in the vicinity, which meant that his family name should also represent a species of fish, but that he should also have an ID number with a Sector prefix of seven digits.
Over the course of a few days, he ‘remembered’, gradually, that his name was Carp…something; a corruption of his real family name; Carpenter. He was also able to tell the ‘Service’ men that both of his parents had died, fairly recently…he thought, and that he had no brothers or sisters.
This was all his inquisitors needed to know. Within forty eight hours, they returned to inform Marc that they were satisfied with the validity of his identity, but that as he continued to appear to be suffering the effects of his trauma, they would have to relocate him to a private residence within the Sector, and issue him with a new ID number, in order to distinguish him as a Sector resident and not an Aquacultural labourer. The fact that he was unable to remember his previous ID number was no longer significant.
A simple solution to a potentially frustrating problem for the ‘authorities’. If anybody ‘misplaced’ or even genuinely forgot their identity, merely issue them with an alternative, thus eliminating the time consuming and potentially expensive inconvenience of genuine investigation. As long as a person could be identified, the only consideration was the actual ID number, and as long as it didn’t clash with another, it would serve its purpose.
The fine print meant nothing to Marc, who was relieved that he was finally going to regain his liberty…whatever that might mean. He only hoped that it meant that he would be left alone, and perhaps, in time, find a way of returning to St. George.
At his new home, in Sector 747, Marc continued his charade of ‘memory loss’, in order to maintain a low profile, and avoid further questions from inquisitive neighbours. He maintained his masquerade until he got to know people better, and determine whether or not he could actually place his trust in anyone.
Over the years that ensued, he would put his valuation of his perceived dependability of certain people, to the test. He began by telling selected ‘friends’ of certain ‘dreams’ he had experienced; of a place; he didn’t know where, or even if it actually existed, where none of the restrictions that applied to the Nation, were enforced. Unable to invent a suitable name for this ‘imaginary’ place, he referred to it simply as ‘There’ and to its inhabitants as ‘They’, or ‘Them’.
He had, unwittingly, given birth to a legend, or at least, revived one that certain Nationals had whispered amongst one another, since shortly after the time of the ‘Purges’.
Realising that access beyond the coastal defences; the wall, was now impossible for him, he resolved to wait, patiently, for as long as it might take, for a suitably qualified, and similarly ambitious person to come along and help him realise his real dream, of one day returning to his homeland of St. George.
In order to keep his dream alive, he decided to continue to tell his ‘stories’, of ‘They’, and ‘There’, at appropriate times, to people he believed may be able to influence the appropriate response.

Copyright © Stanislaw Skibinski

Monday, November 24, 2008

TOP Kyrielle


As wishes filter through the trees
And drift forever on the breeze
We celebrate an answered prayer
A gentle breath of cool, fresh air

A new addition to the clan
To complement The Master Plan
A gift of graceful beauty fair
A gentle breath of cool, fresh air

กรพิณธุ์Gorrapin - ‘Diamond’
Born 26 Feb 2008

Seductive sparks that mesmerise
Define the smiles that light her eyes
The wind that whispers through her hair
A gentle breath of cool, fresh air

Such priceless treasures for our boy
Inspire displays of heartfelt joy
And acts of love, beyond compare
A gentle breath of cool, fresh air

ภูรินทร์ – Purin - ‘Changnoi’ (Elephant Small)
Born 9 Aug 2001

As patient play develops trust
His influence descends like dust
Illuminates the dark, to share
A gentle breath of cool, fresh air

So wish upon a summer breeze
And rise above the reach of trees
Unleashing thanks in words of prayer
A gentle breath of cool, fresh air

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Matinee Muse Power Of Hope


Presence of mind
Light of day
Act of kind
Right of way
Pair of jeans
Stick of gum
Full of beans
Rule of thumb
Pint of ale
Sense of smell
Bill of sale
Depths of hell
Band of pipers
Ring of fire
Knot of vipers
Rush of desire
Victim of fashion
Out of reach
Crime of passion
Figure of speech
Time of strife
List of claims
Proof of life
Ball of flames
State of affairs
Short of breath
Flight of stairs
Cause of death
Bag of sand
Length of rope
Sleight of hand
Power of hope

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sunday Scribblings Grateful

I'm very grateful for my experiences in India


Bring a packed lunch, just in case
you don’t catch any fishes.
Sometimes it just doesn’t pay
to be too optimistic.

Coco Beach, where fishing boats
congregate at Picnic Time,
and drifting sounds of Floyd, alight
in brief, windswept appetisers.

Guitar solos, and Gilmour’s song
satisfy our sentiment.
We’re feeling ‘Comfortably Numb.’
All aboard; we’re setting sail.

Another course to navigate.
Headland highlights harder ‘Time;’
Fort Aguada; jailhouse rock,
and airborne roll call backing track.

Candolim comes into view,
where Holy Cows bemuse bathers.
We pass them by, to coax our craft
to Calangute, where we sample

‘twitchers tipple’; darling-bud draughts
of Kingfisher, and Sandpiper.
Bar-bill change repays Rupees.
‘Wish You Were Here;’ Floyd theme thought

pencilled clearly onto postcards.
Smiling Skipper starts her up;
rolling and bouncing to Baga.
Disco, very deserted,

save for daytime beach debris,
remains from beyond the Rave,
and dancers decaying dreams.
“Shine On You Crazy Diamond;”

an apt all-nighter’s epitaph.
Anchoring at Anjuna;
mystic merchant’s marketplace,
we check out the charmers of snakes,

turners of wood, terms of trade,
wholesale prices, hot surprises.
‘Money,’ only the object
of desire for light-fingered,

well travelled, wayward tourists;
takers of well-stocked wallets.
Sunset stop, in time for tea,
al fresco, at Arambol.

Our first sight of fresh caught fish,
waiting to be fired for us,
transforms us to a panting pack
of Pavlov’s ‘Dogs,’ as we become

tempted by Tandoori Kingfish,
with Steamed Rice, and Naan Bread.
Then, ‘The Great Gig In The Sky.’
Leonid Meteorite

display, ignites the heavens.
Kingfisher kick-in playing tricks
on our eyes? Or is it for real?
Have to see it to believe it.

Incredible India,
all just a memory now,
as we fly, sadly homeward,
to ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon.’

Mad Kane's Dental Verse


In rural Thailand, a habit of many, mainly older women,
is to mix a lime-based powder into a paste, spread it on

an ivy-like leaf, and add TON KHUEN – wood chippings
from a certain tree. Then roll it all into a ‘parcel’,
place in the mouth, and chew, before spitting out
the resulting red-stained solution. The teeth also
become stained, and gradually turn black.

Photographs by Kanpirom Srisongnang


Bored with pearly whites?
Apply KHIEO MARK twice a day
For that darker look.


Old age is affecting my teeth
No longer can I eat roast beef
The thought of things dental
Is driving me mental
Though false teeth might be a relief

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fourth Millennium (12)


8 The One That Got Away

Optical transplant surgery was relatively uncommon in 30th century St. George. Those unfortunate enough to lose their eyesight, even their eyes, faced an extremely expensive course of treatment, with no guarantee whatsoever, of success. Therefore, such procedures were the unfortunate luxury of the extremely affluent. Even for those who possessed the wherewithal to squander on executive, vanity gadgetry, which was how most people classified artificial eyes, it presented a gamble that few were prepared to take. It was an extremely risky operation, requiring as it did, much more than merely a successful graft to the optic nerve. Other considerations to take into account, included compatibility with the unique function of each individual’s visual cortex, perception of images, and each individual brain’s sensitivity to image definition. Effects or more accurately, defects, that patients could expect to experience, or suffer, covered the entire range of the characteristics of photographic filters. Success or failure of the operation was not gauged so much in terms of whether or not it actually provided any sort of vision, but in terms of the longevity of the laboratory developed tissues. The results of the surgery varied vastly, in terms of quality and longevity.
As yet, a lifetime of anything, from a few hours to several months was considered the ‘rule’. The exception was perfect vision for the remaining lifetime of the patient; an unprecedented achievement, until now, when it seemed to apply in the case of just one, solitary recipient. Perfect and permanent ability to see once more, was what he could potentially and quite literally expect to look forward to.
Rejection, which was more generally the outcome, was not detectable until after the new eyes had been positioned permanently.
The art, or science, of artificial generation of tissues, had been far from perfected, but as all forms of cloning had been vehemently opposed by the ultra-religious, ethical and moral, pressure groups that formed the solid coalition government, it was the only available option. With cloning outlawed, there was never going to be any opposition to the artificial techniques, but the process had taken decades to develop to even a less than satisfactory standard.
For Marc; full name, Marcel Carpenter, the surgical procedure had been a complete success, as far as anybody was able to tell. A mere two hours under the knife, followed by three days of tests and observation to ensure correct function; much longer than most patients new eyes survived. This seemed a small price to pay for his unique success story. The monetary cost, however, was a staggering, two million Dollars.
Fortunately for Marc, he was well capable of footing the equally unprecedented medical bill.
The average income in Port Elizabeth, the capital city of the island nation of St. George, was just one thousand dollars; double the national average in the democratically governed independent republic. There were no poor people among the fifty million plus inhabitants of the island. Full employment had always been the proud boast of every president in almost five hundred years of modern history.
In 2965, the year of Marc’s operation, one thousand dollars could buy a brand new, family Hoverjet; the trackless, self-navigating, popular conveyance of the time. Ten thousand could purchase a six-room apartment in a respectable neighbourhood of any major centre of population. However, none of these expenses were of concern to Marc. He had been born into money.
His father, who had been killed in the skiing accident that led to Marc’s own hospitalisation, had been the president of Transys, a company of trend analysis experts, whose job it was to compare and contrast products versus produce. In other words, the complete spectrum of attitudes; pro’s and cons, likes and dislikes; preferences, to modern, genetically modified foodstuffs, or natural, traditionally yielded food with its erratic variation in quality and quantity, availability and price.
By only nineteen years of age, Marc was already number one in his field of expertise. The work of his father’s company was wholeheartedly supported, and backed, by the government, who advocated the promotion of the ‘natural’, and a return to more traditional values, when it came to lifestyle choices.
As a direct result of his father’s death, Marc was the natural successor to the day to day running of the organisation; a task for which he required the use of his eyes. From being a very rich and successful employee of the company, he became the billionaire owner, overnight. This was thanks, in no small measure, to the success of his eye surgery. He had been the youngest patient to undergo the procedure, which many doctors attributed to its success.
By 2969, at the age of twenty three, he had put behind him, all fears of suffering any side effects or rejection, and had once again, become involved in a wide range of physical and sporting activities; especially his passion for water sports.
It was in this year that Marc accepted the challenge to participate in the single-handed powerboat circuit of the two thousand kilometre expanse of sea to the ‘exclusion zone’, that separated the territory of St. George, from the rest of the world; the Nation.
The ‘exclusion zone’, applied by the ‘authorities’ of the Nation, more than a hundred years previously, at the time of the ‘Purges’, was a ‘Ring’ of computer generated ‘protection’ in the form of a cloud of dense fog, spanning a further two thousand kilometres. Inside the ‘Ring’, almost zero visibility combined with the most severe weather conditions, and a highly sophisticated intruder detection system, ensuring that neither passage, nor aerial attempts to cross or attack the barrier, were possible.
Marc had embarked upon his ‘adventure of a lifetime’ in perfectly calm conditions; confident of victory, in what was billed as the ‘ultimate test of endurance’.
Difficulties were the major theme of Marc’s attempt to prove his return to full visual awareness. Just days into the race, he lost his main source of power, when the outboard propulsion inlet encountered a mass of submerged seaweed-like vegetation, and the internal components of the housing became entangled. The entire unit was ripped away, detaching the integral auto-navigational console. Marc would have to manoeuvre the boat physically, relying on the position of the sun, by day, to maintain his course. The star filled sky at night was of no practical help to him; its usefulness as a directional aid, having become long redundant, as a result of the advances in computerised, auto-tracking technology. The extent of modern reliance on micro-particle devices meant that neither Marc nor his boat possessed even a compass. Communication with St. George was now impossible, and only close proximity to his fellow competitors, could have alerted them to his predicament But Marc was already several kilometres off course, meaning that a similar misfortune, by another vessel, would be the only way in which his condition could be acknowledged.
Using only his temporary back-up power cells, and drift mode, emergency propulsion unit, he was able to make only limited further progress. Without any other artificial power source, his boat drifted ominously closer to the ‘Ring’.

The solid wall of darkness that enveloped him rendered his vision ineffective, once more, and he was unable to see the dangers that the ‘Ring’ held.
Gigantic waves tossed his boat, relentlessly. The ‘ultimate test of endurance’ had been a minor inconvenience, compared to the physical as well as mental torture conditions inside the ‘Ring’ dealt him. Anything not integrated into the virtually indestructible structure of the vessel was washed, blown, or beaten away by the artificially intensified elemental forces.
Marc himself was strapped inside his sleeping hatch, in a desperate bid for survival. Much of his drinking water, and large quantities of his nutrition capsules were stored just a couple of metres below where he was lying, but were, effectively, inaccessible, such was the unabating ferocity of the prevailing conditions. Marc attempted to ration himself wisely with the emergency supplies, stored within his coffin-like compartment, hoping optimistically that his ordeal would soon come to an end. He remained dubiously confident that the natural buoyancy of the materials from which the hull of the boat had been manufactured, could survive the tempest, but it was his own chances of survival that were of increasing concern to him, as days became weeks, and supplies became depleted. Eventually, Marc lost all track of time, space, and reason as he was forced to endure all the mental, as well as physical, effects of malnutrition and dehydration.
Just twenty years previously, even close proximity to the ‘Ring’, would have triggered its highly sophisticated, early-warning, defence mechanism, rendering illegal entry into the zone, impossible. If the ‘impossible’ had ever been achieved, summary destruction would have been a matter of course, as these systems were activated. Exposure to the hurricane force winds, driving rain, and mountainous waves, would have been short lived and terrifying experiences, as the additional onslaught of laser guided Micromax missiles took devastating effect.
Now that the mutual ignorance and apathy of the authorities of the planet’s two remaining land masses, towards each other had rendered continuous vigilance irrelevant, the defence mechanisms had been partially dismantled, in a cost-cutting measure by the Nation.

To be continued

Copyright © Stanislaw Skibinski

Click Fourth Millennium (11) to go back to Chapter 7

Monday, November 17, 2008



One stanza of my recent
(click the link)
TOP Marketplace Poetry post
Was loosely based on a incident
At school, years ago.

The teacher said

'Write 1000 words, inspired by the phrase
If silence is golden, what colour is sound?’

I wrote:

If silence is ‘golden’
I’ll keep my ‘silver’ tongue
In the place it belongs
Inside my tight shut mouth

He gave me an ‘A’, and said
‘Next time, keep it to just 1000 words’


“Watch my lips,” she said to me
And mouthed a word, a blasphemy
Commandment broken
Though word not spoken
She’ll burn in hell eternally


I went around to sound him out
About a pound he owed me for a drink
Off like a hound, he crowned my day
Let’s say I frowned, perhaps not what you think
So I’ll be bound he wound up drunk
Sunk to the ground, leaving mine at the bar
But when I found he’d downed my glass
Alas, I turned round from my empty jar
Curses abound, astound and resound
Sound asleep, run aground like a jeep
Paradise found? A burial mound?
A hound in a heap, surrounded by sheep
Sound as a pound, he’d downed the round
Clowned around, and wound up on the ground
Sorrows drowned, or victory crowned
When he comes around, I’ll claim back my pound.


I think E said ‘straw’
But U know that’s just like A
O, is it really?”

Friday, November 14, 2008

Writers Island

For WIJ6 Embarrassing Predicament



October hanging heavy in the air
Kippax crowd subdued throughout half-time
Someone passes wind amongst the throng
Silently, anonymously – then
A stench that lingers, clinging to October
And cigarette smoke, and fumes of alcohol
Turns murmurs into gasps of deep disgust
From twenty thousand City fans – or more
A plaintive voice is heard, above the moans
“Who’s shit?” He cries – The culprit won’t admit
Silence follows; rancid reek remains
Another voice cuts silence like a knife
“United.” is his logical response
Howls of laughter, all around the ground

Like my mother always used to say
“Ask a silly question…”

For Matinee Muse Communication Barriers


For a second there, I thought you were serious
Do me a favour, and say it again
Say it like you mean it; the same as the last time
Without the smile that disguises your pain

That ironic guard, a defence mechanism
That tells me you don’t believe what you see
Acknowledge the concept of mutual respect
Take it as an absolute; guarantee

If you open your heart, as you open your eyes
The fog that shrouds your perceptions will clear
Discard the attitude of notions agnostic
Doubts will fade, as your mind clicks into gear

Now that we’re certain we understand each other
Nothing can deflect our integrity
Confidence ensures we achieve the next level
Reflecting our depth of sincerity

Fourth Millennium (11)

For Sunday Scribblings 137, Stranger


7 Beside The Seaside

A choppy surf, which left it’s residue of brown stained, white foam, broke onto the shorefront far below. For Starling, Nightingale, and Rose, it was their first glimpse of the ocean. From their viewpoint, atop the high, weather beaten cliffs that formed the rugged coastline, they were able to see for kilometres, into the distance, until the graduating shades of the sea, merged with the sky, at the horizon. To the three first-timers, it appeared as a continuous length of some magical fabric. It seemed to continue for ever, which in the case of the sky, chances were, it actually did.
The combination of the stiff breeze that whipped at their insignificantly small and delicate frames, from all directions, and the altitude of their position, which had joined forces, in a conspiracy to disorientate them, was taking effect. They were forced to clutch tightly, onto one another’s hands, and clothing, in their uncertainty as to whether or not they could maintain coordination and remain upright. This five-pronged, dizzying sensation of danger, excitement, uncertainty, risk, and confusion, was the closest they had ever come to the experience of freedom. They huddled closer, as though to demonstrate the depth of their trust in one another. It was fitting that this display of unconditional faith, occurred outside the limits of the familiarity of the Sector, where, ironically, rules, and even the restrictions they’d all been forced to to endure, acted as a kind of safety net, providing a comfort zone, to protect them from the perils of inexperience.
Several hundred metres behind them, a five metre high wall, which dominated the near distance, had been erected with the dual purpose of deterring further, unauthorised development, or any form of illegal land use, and preventing citizens from looking at the view. The ‘authorities’ feared erosion of the cliffs, and encroachment of the water, to claim the land, as well as the danger of citizens becoming inspired by what they saw, and entertaining notions of aquatic exploration. Previously, the wall had been continuously manned by ‘Service Personnel’, at regular intervals, for the purpose of observation of the population, in order to ensure the wall was never breached. Now, for unknown reasons, the approach to guarding the wall was slightly more relaxed. This was how Starling, by utilising his travel permit disc, once more, had gained them access to the forbidden area.
The salt air that drifted with the breeze, added to the strange sensation of weightlessness they were experiencing. It had the effect of clearing their respiratory passages, and causing them to feel giddy and light-headed, with the additional rush of oxygen this provided.
Seagulls circled and swooped, to catch titbits, served up by the cauldron below. Whether these invisible morsels were real or imaginary was impossible to tell.
The beach itself, which was the final frustration to the progress of the sea, was deserted, save for scattered clumps of stranded seaweed, and assorted debris, the tide had washed ashore.
The insipid rays of the late winter sun, cast their golden glow, to form shimmering bolts of treasure, on the crests of the relentless waves, which reflected their promise into the eyes of the awestruck spectators.
Further along the short stretch of coastline, a pack of dogs played chase, along the decaying concrete structure that spanned inexplicably, a hundred metres or so, into the watery void, before ending abruptly. It was almost as though, whatever it was, had been abandoned in mid-construction. The trio was fascinated, as well as confused, wondering why it had ever been built, and what possible purpose it could serve.
Nobody had any idea that boats and ships sailed the seas, once upon a time, transporting people, livestock, and commodities, to places far away. By the same token, nobody was aware that ‘places far away’ ever even existed. The fact was, they didn’t; not any longer. The huge continental land-mass on which they were standing was, ‘officially’ at least, all that remained of the earth’s former, many and varied habitats. The elements they were viewing and experiencing, plus a whole host of other natural phenomena, had seen to that, aided by mans self-destructive, ambitions of dominance in the third millennium.
This was all prior to the ‘Purges’, which had been intended, originally, to cushion mankind’s headlong fall into oblivion.
As with all ‘good’, political intentions that had preceded the ‘Purges’, there was a massive, human price to pay the successors of the instigators of the concept; the ‘authorities’. They were the one’s actually responsible for implementing the process of ‘salvation’.
All of this was unbeknown to Starling, Nightingale, and Rose, who continued to sway in the encircling breeze, savouring the unique sensation of escapism that the mere sight of this vast expanse of nothingness lying before them, brought to their collective imagination.
“I think I could die happily here,” began Rose, “but right now, it’s all making me feel a little nauseous. I’d like to go now, if that’s alright with everybody.”
Nightingale nodded his agreement, but Starling needed to stay just a little longer.
“Give me five seconds, please,” he requested.
The pockets of his slacks now contained an additional item.
Birch had said;
“See if you can work out what this is,” as he’d handed it over, almost a week ago. “It’s foldable, but you’ll never get it to crease. It’s water repellent, fire resistant, and never loses its colour, or gets dirty. It’s manufactured from a totally mind-boggling fabric that can’t be torn or cut…with anything; and believe me, I’ve tried.”
Birch had, in fact, presented Starling with a banknote.
On one side, it depicted an elderly man, wearing his hair long, like a woman; tied back with some sort of ribbon. Close by, surrounded by a circular frame, containing more of the strange symbols that were, in fact, words, was a rectangular shaped building that appeared to contain neither doors, nor windows.
More words appeared, spanning from left to right, along the top edge, and in the bottom, right-hand corner, was printed a series of numbers, that read: 37 6028 141 73. At the bottom left-hand corner, inside another circular frame, was the number 1, which also appeared, as a smaller character, inside a square frame, at each of the remaining three corners. By the man’s left shoulder, was printed the number, or numbers, 2955.
On the reverse side, in three further, circular frames were displayed scenes, respectively, from left to right. The first was of a traffic-filled road system, unlike anything that existed in the ‘Nation’. The second, a long, articulated vehicle that appeared to run on some kind of track. The third was also a vehicle, but this one seemed to be suspended in mid air, judging by the clouds surrounding it that so clearly represented the sky.
When held up to the light, a strange phenomenon occurred. Behind the three images on the reverse; or was it in front of them? It was difficult to determine; appeared an image of an unidentifiable animal. It was neither bird nor reptile, but a combination of both. Moreover, it appeared to be emitting a ball of flames, from its mouth, or beak. What added to the evidently hostile nature of the creature was that fact that it actually appeared to move, or at least hover, when held aloft.
The detail on the rectangular, pocket-sized strip of…whatever it was made from, was incredibly intricate. It was almost life-like, although clearly crafted by some amazing process.
Starling fondled the banknote with the fingers of his left hand, while doing the same to the coins that were grasped in his right. The sense of courage, combined with comfort and confidence he derived from their mystery, were enhanced as he pondered their origin.
“Thanks for that. I’m finished now,” he informed, after an interval of perhaps ninety seconds. Taking the lead, he raised his right hand to his face, breathing in the unusual, though clearly metallic scent that emanated from his sweating fingers, as a result of handling the coins in the warmth of his pocket.

Copyright © Stanislaw Skibinski
Click FORBIDDEN to start at Chapter 1
Click Fourth Millennium (10) to go back to Chapter 6
Click Fourth Millennium (12) to read on

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fourth Millennium (10)


6 Perspective

All the roads had been meticulously and spotlessly cleared of all evidence of the wintry conditions, which had resulted in the off-white backdrop to every scene. In all directions, a slow thaw was now setting in, as the weather turned slightly milder. This milder weather had been present since the previous morning; the day after Rose had been made part of the quest. The soft slush that the lying snow had become, had receded slightly, leaving uneven borders of green, where vegetation was present, around the stubbornly persisting, widespread covering it still provided. Immense man-made’ drifts’ had been created in the massive road clearance exercises that had been, largely unnecessarily undertaken. These exercises had been designed primarily, as a method to promote ‘Community Unity’, as it had been clumsily labelled, than any practical traffic safety function it may have served.
For the first time in their lives, Starling and Nightingale had witnessed the creation of ice sculptures, depicting realistic representations of common wildlife. Like the receding borders of the ‘ice fields’, these sculptures were also beginning to melt, dripping to leave further patches of greenery around their bases. This caused the once beautifully artistic examples of ‘still life’ to take on the appearance of grotesquely, deformed mutants.
Artistic freedom, like other personal freedoms, had been, until recently, very actively discouraged by the paranoid ‘authorities’. It was only at the suggestion of one, talented artisan, that the local ‘authorities’, who were in fact, powerless to refuse or deny the request, such was the disorganised state of their system of procedures, relented. The aesthetically pleasing examples of art work had been a temporary feature of Sector 4735 winters since 2997.
Several melting examples were sadly, still in evidence on the short trip south that Starling made with his two companions, Nightingale and Rose. Walking outdoors, without the requirement for added protection of overcoats, for the first time in six weeks, was a refreshing and pleasurable experience. Despite the efficient insulating properties of modern clothing; those who had been brave enough to challenge the effects of winter, were still subject to all the usual discomforts. Chilblains, loss of feeling to their extremities, and that strange sensation of stiffness of the spine that accompanies the act of posture adjustment, to combat uncontrollable shivering, and brace the body against the onslaught of frigid air, were all still as common as ever.
Starling kept the two coins Robin had given him, in the two front pockets of his plain black slacks. He felt somehow comforted by the gentle rhythm of the impact they created, as they beat their silent tattoo against his thighs in response to his forward motion as he paced steadily. He also felt that they, like the lion on the reverse of the coin that displayed the number, or value 500, symbolised courage. The two faces, on the front of the coins, symbolically represented his companions Nightingale and Rose.
He slipped both hands into his pockets, in order to make physical contact with the two metal discs. He had actually come to regard them as good luck charms, partly in his response to Robin’s suggestion that he may later be able to come up with a reason for their presentation. He wasn’t at all sure if it was actually the case, or if somehow his desire for the discs to provide him with good fortune, allowed him to derive comfort from the feel of them rubbing against his hands. More than this, he actually drew inspiration from the mystery of their origin. In this way, he was able to formulate a workable plan that would lead them to the location of their next contact, Hawthorn.
The journey south had come about as a result of this inspired plan.
Inside the ‘Social Relief’ section of the local ‘official headquarters; nicknamed ‘Lost and Found’ by the ‘Riff Raff’, in reference to its rarely practical function of search and rescue, Starling put his plan into action.
“We’re here on behalf of the representatives of a man named Hawthorn,” Starling announced to the spotty faced teenager, who stood behind the reception counter.
He flashed his travel permission disc, to prove his ‘official’ status.
“This is his grand-daughter, from Sector 303, who became displaced from the family group, in the throng, during the New Year celebrations. They’d joined friends in the central area of the district, to witness…and enjoy...the pyrotechnic display; a harmless activity. Having only arrived in this Sector on New Year’s Eve, she was unable to remember the route back to the house. It’s her first visit to this Sector, and this happens!
I spotted her, sitting on the frozen roadside, crying. I alerted my parents to her predicament, and they offered to assist. She’s been staying at our house ever since, waiting for news. We’ve already received confirmation that Hawthorn doesn’t belong to any outlawed group, and has not been detained for ‘conversation’ by the ‘Service’. He may have already contacted Citizens Advice to report the incident, but what we really need, is a little bit more priority attached to the situation, in order to discover the location of the family home. Her grandfather’s name is Hawthorn…473520. That’s the right ID number isn’t it, miss Hawthorn?”
“Yes, that’s it,” Rose answered, timidly.
The gamble of using his travel permission disc, as well as ‘official’ terminology, such as ‘outlawed’, ‘detained’, and ‘conversation’, paid off.
The receptionist, possibly on day-release from ‘Education’, responded instantly and decisively. He produced a chart, on which was drawn a mesh-like representation of the hundreds of Sectors in the nation. He referred to the grid, in order to locate details pertaining to Sector 4735 that were stored in a cabinet behind him. Further charts were stored inside the cabinet, each one of them illustrated with a different variety of tree; all of which he’d memorised the name’s of. He wasted no time locating ‘Hawthorn’, and the relevant ID number. Noticing that there were no colour-coded marks against the entry, to indicate reports of ‘anti-social’ activity, or situations pending attention, he proudly announced;
"There haven’t been any reports against him, of any description, but he lives in south-central four. I’ll arrange immediate transport to take you there.”
Within five minutes, a bus had drawn to a halt outside the reception area, and the threesome had seated themselves inside.
“That was pure genius, Starling,” congratulated Nightingale.
“Yes, a stroke of brilliance,” added Rose.

Hawthorn was neither a grandfather, nor a father. He was an overweight, single man, in his thirties; unshaven, with longer than regulation hair, and unsightly food stains, discolouring his inappropriately pale-coloured tunic. He rubbed at the overgrown stubble on his chin, continuing his hand motion into a full sweep of his face, over the top of his head, before coming to rest at the back of his neck, to rub further.
“What do you lot want? I’m not expecting any visitors,” he barked through the accumulation of phlegm and only partially swallowed food that had collected in his throat.
“We’re here to meet a gentleman, named Hawthorn. Do you know him?” Starling placed as much emphasis as he could, on the word ‘gentleman’, in an attempt to trigger an adjustment of attitude from the impolite stranger.
“Why? Who’s asking?”
“Actually, we’re here at Robin’s request.” Nightingale chipped in.
“What? Who? Why didn’t you say so in the first place? Get inside, quick.”
“Thanks,” smiled Rose, as she took the lead.
They were invited to take a seat, in the surprisingly spotless living room
“Wait on a bit, I’ll just be a sec; need to take a leak.” The fat man disappeared behind the door of the cleanroom.
“Is this some sort of joke?” Starling asked, looking at Rose.
Unable to confirm, one way or the other, she shrugged her shoulders.
Within a minute, the door to the cleanroom opened, and out stepped an athletically built man, in his thirties; clean-shaven, with short hair and immaculate clothes, which Starling recognised as an Attire, design.
“I’m dreadfully sorry about my less than welcoming…er, welcome. It’s all part of my act; the belly, hair, beard, and clothes are all just a decoy, so ‘nosey’ people don’t come too close. I’m the man you’re looking for. Hawthorn 473520, at your service. It’s a good job for you that you mentioned Robin’s name as quickly as you did. I can keep up that obnoxious act for hours; days if I have to.”
Sighs of relief were exhaled, and chuckles of laughter allowed the three visitors to return to more acceptable levels of comfort and confidence.
“You really had us for a minute there,” complimented Nightingale.
“Not me, I knew it was just a joke, didn’t I Rose?” lied Starling.
“Sure you did,” doubted Rose.
“So this is the beautiful Rose? My pleasure,” commented Hawthorn.
“The pleasure’s all mine,” responded Rose, with a touch of irony in her voice.
“Well! No reason for delaying. Follow me, all of you, into the back room.” Hawthorn instructed.
The sparsely furnished room contained only four chairs, on which they all sat. A curtain, or screen was drawn across one corner of the room; evidently some kind of storage compartment.
“Is that where you keep all your disguises?” Starling asked, pointing.
“Among other things, of a personal nature, yes,” answered Hawthorn. “Now, let’s get down to business. From memory; no peeping. What did Robin give to you when you saw him last, apart, of course, from his stunning niece? You won first prize there, boys. Excuse my ill-mannered informality, Miss Rose.”
“Compliment accepted,” smiled Rose.
“A silver disc with a woman’s face and 2765 on the front. On the back, it had a lion, and 500,” blurted Starling; just as much to draw Hawthorn’s attention away from Rose, as to answer his question.
Rose was flattered by Starling’s act of chivalry, and lowered her eyes, smiling. Perhaps, she thought, Starling felt as attracted to her as she did to him. But no fraternisation during the course of business, she reprimanded herself. There will be plenty of time to entertain such thoughts, once they’d completed this, or any, part of their ‘duties’. She made a quick promise to herself that she would maintain her discipline, where appropriate, and engage in distractions from the quest, whenever opportunity permitted.
“Good; well that’s that trivial matter out of the way. Now; here is your next assignment. You are to find a way of getting to Sector 900. There you will find a person named Aspex, and you will say that I sent you. That’s it. Off you go!”
Nightingale and Rose stood up to leave the building.
Sit down a second please, you two, I have a question,” instructed Starling.
Nightingale and Rose complied, hesitantly, wondering what there was to ask. Starling patted the air with both hands, indicating he wanted them to keep quiet and listen.
“Gosh! I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend with my informality,” he apologised, realising he’d performed another action, another trait he’d borrowed from Robin.
“You wish to ask me something?” Hawthorn queried.
“Oh yes; a few questions, actually.
First of all; how come you never asked to look at the disc, to confirm possession? I know it’s a long shot, but I could have just made a lucky guess for all you know.”
“Anything else?” Hawthorn encouraged.
“I’ve been thinking about Robin’s instructions for today. He told me to pay particular attention to numbers. At first, I thought he meant the disc, but when you gave us the assignment, something about your instructions made me realise exactly what Robin meant.”
“Keep going; this sounds good.”
“OK, Sector 900 doesn’t exist for a start. It’s an oddball, because Sector 899 is followed by Sector 901. Don’t ask me why. I only know because I spotted it ion the chart at ‘official’ headquarters. What about this person; man or woman? And that name, Aspex? Aspex was only invented ten years ago. You don’t seriously expect us to set off on a journey to nowhere, to meet up with a kid, do you?
Now; about the disc. Is it worth showing you, or should we just go back home and forget about our quest?
There was me, thinking we were being taken seriously. Nothing personal, Hawthorn, but I really don’t appreciate being laughed at, when I’m trying to be sincere.”
Expressions of shock appeared on the faces of Nightingale and Rose. They’d never heard anyone speak in such defiant tones, in the presence of others.
Hawthorn smiled, and held up his hands.
“I have to hand it to you, Starling. Birch told me you were the man. He wasn’t wrong. You made an amazing recovery, from the shock of my transformation, and handled my distraction tactics with consummate ease. My apologies, once again Miss Rose. Starling, I applaud you.”
At that moment, Birch, of all people, appeared from behind the screened portion of the room. He’d listened to the entire process. He was smiling broadly and clapping his hands silently.
“Birch, you…How did you get here?” Nightingale gasped in surprise.
“Questions and lies; if you don’t ask, you don’t get. If you don’t want, you don’t ask.
Now give them their real assignment, Hawthorn; once Starling has shown you his silver disc, of course; if it even exists…Starling.”
Birch walked purposefully, towards the exit.

Copyright © Stanislaw Skibinski
Click FORBIDDEN to start at Chapter 1
Click Fourth Millennium (9) to go back to conclusion of Chapter 5
Click Fourth Millennium (11) to read on

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TOP Expectations


When I smell it,
It will smell of roses
I have the nose to take in the bouquet
When I taste it,
It will satisfy me
I have the mouth to savour the flavour
When I hear it,
It will then be spoken
I have the ears to listen to voices
When I touch it,
It will assume substance
I have the hands to feel the shape of things
When I see it,
It will be apparent
I have the eyes to witness the event
When I think it,
It will make perfect sense
I have the mind to imagine concepts
When I say the words,
They will all be sincere
I have the tongue to say what I believe
When I open it,
It will then be unlocked
I have the key to the door to your thoughts
When I use it,
It will be practical
I have the skill to perform the function


When I need it,
It will abandon me
I haven’t the confidence any more

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Writers Island 5

For Matinee Muse - Bond of Brotherhood

It also works for Sunday Scribblings - Change


Village Isan; Amazing Thailand
Here’s a thing that’s truly exotic
Don’t call them ‘Siamese’ twins; they’re Thai
Identical; Monozygotic

Tong, on the left (or is it the right?)
Won the ‘Long’ look-alike contest
Long, on the right (or is it the left?)
Won the ‘Tong’ look-alike contest

It’s pure poetry watching them play
Synchronized structure to their games
Interchangeable identities
And they’ve even got those rhyming names

The bond of brotherhood that exists
Between twins, is like no other
I should know – I’m one of a pair
With my Dizygotic twin brother

For Writers Island 5 – Champion
and Sunday Scribblings - Change

We need a CHAMPION to combat
Global Warming and Climate Change


Equinox confirms the rumour
Spread by merchants of gossip’s ware
The wicked queen, called Winter, is dead
Long live the Spring – Her son and heir

Bashful buds begin to blossom
Birds, in song, relieve the gloom
Their news provokes the latest issue
Of Life, from Mother’s swollen womb

The aging king submits to Summer
Abdicates; can’t stand the heat
New Chef crowned, to run the Kitchen
His reign is short, however sweet

Pressure rising from the outset
Well-meaning Monarch fans the fire
Glorious Summer, but a heartbeat
Dreams diminish…ebb…expire

Death-throes in September sunset
Perspiration pours from the ground
Sultry Summer is laid to rest
As twilight falls, without a sound

Desperate Despot, Autumn attacks
His toxic onslaught strips Earth bare
Harvest Moon, the reapers watchdog
Smiles on spoils, the toilers share

Fall’s legacy or deja-vu?
Crystal tears greet God’s sad sigh
Veiling the vanity of Venus
First to form in the ferment’s eye

Regina rises; resolute
From Autumn’s ashes; duty bent
No frigid fragment of the former
A latter-day Lady of Discontent

Bleached blonde, by the biting blizzard
Winter’s wasteland; desolate
Designed, contrived by Royal Decree
Signed and delivered, to seal our fate

(20 CHAMPION tracks
Each a landmark in my life,
provoking some fantastic memories.
There are many others, but I whittled
it down to just 20 classic tracks)

‘Evening Over Rooftops’
By The Edgar Broughton Band
Pharaoh Sanders – ‘The Creator
Has A Master Plan’
‘The Harder They Come’ – A lesson
Learnt by Jimmy Cliff
‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’
Says Morrissey and The Smiths
“Feed The Enemy’ - Magazine
Joy Division – ‘Atmosphere’
‘For A Dancer’ – Jackson Browne
Pink Floyd – ‘Wish You Were Here’
‘Four Strong Winds’ – By Neil Young
‘The Passenger’ – Iggy Pop rocks!
‘The Future’ – Leonard Cohen
‘When You Walk Through Me’ – Ultravox!
‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’
Maya Angelou/Branford Marsalis
‘A Salty Dog’ – Procul Harem
‘Ripples’ – Sung by Genesis
Digable Planets – ‘Cool Like That’
Van Morrison – ‘Enlightenment’
The Stone Roses – ‘Elephant Stone’
The Doors – ‘Land Ho’ – Excellent
And ‘Free Bird’ – Lynard Skynard
Makes twenty tracks, all told
Words and music – memories;
Worth their weight in gold!

(But there is one in ChampIon)

The only sport I ever wanted to play, is Football
(The Beautiful Game)
The best football teams all have an ‘I’ in them:

World Cup:


2008 Olympic CHAMPIONS:


European Clubs:

Man United
Glasgow Celtic
Real Madrid
AC Milan

And just take a look at the recent exploits of these teams:

Wigan Athletic
Hull City

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fourth Millennium (9)


5 Eye Contact (Cont)

Nightingale remained seated as Robin led Starling, back up the earthen steps, to the living room above them. When they reached the door to the front bedroom, Robin stopped, holding out his arm, to indicate to Starling that he should do the same. He pushed the red key on the Introcom, and waited for a response from inside the room.
Almost immediately, a woman’s voice could be heard, asking;
“What is it, uncle? Do you require some assistance?”
“No, Rose, but I would very much like it if we could continue the discussion we were having.”
There it was again, that…individuality; that personal…something; in the name, Rose. It sounded so deliberately considered; rather than just a title, passed down by default.
The door opened, slowly, and Rose made her appearance. To Starling, her stunning beauty was not a figment of his imagination, influenced by his romantic appreciation of her name. She was young; early twenties, slim, tall, and confident. She had a smile that Starling thought capable of melting the heart of the most committed misogynist. And her eyes…her eyes were neither blue, nor green, but somewhere in-between…both, in fact. They seemed to change colour with each subtle movement of her head; or perhaps the changes of intensity of light and shadow. Starling couldn’t decide which. Whatever it was about her, or her eyes, Starling was transfixed. He found himself staring; unable, even if he wanted to, to avert his gaze.
Robin brought him out of his reverie, by stating;
“Starling, I’d like to introduce you to Rose, my niece. Rose, meet Starling; the young man I told you about”
Rose’s smile became even more radiant; if that was possible.
“Pleased to meet you…Starling. My uncle’s told me lots about you.” She had never stopped looking, directly into Starling’s eyes.
There was something in the way she articulated the word, the name, Starling. It sounded so…intimate. Had she actually said ‘darling’? Once again, Starling had to snap out of his fantasy, which was beginning to possess him.
As a teenager, the sort of attention that he seemed to be receiving from Rose may have caused him to turn away; even blush. Now…today at least, he continued to stare. He didn’t flinch as he drew a breath to speak. Confidently, he said;
“I very much doubt it; we only met for the first time on New Year’s Eve.”
“But that was a thousand years ago, and my uncle is a very perceptive man.” Rose countered with the type of repartee that was the trademark of her uncle, Robin. She continued. “He is able to judge another man’s character, with a single, seemingly nonchalant glance. He speaks very highly of you, Starling. It’s such a shame he is not able to perform similar assessments when it comes to the ladies.”
That’s quite enough for now, Rose. I think Starling understands your…drift. We have more serious matters to discuss.” Robin sounded somewhat irritated.
This had been the first sign of hesitation, weakness Robin’s character had displayed. Women were quite evidently a sore point with him. Had he really been unlucky in love, or was he merely attempting to disguise some unspeakable tragedy that he’d prefer to keep hidden?
Starling discerned a hint of what the answer might be, in Rose’s reaction to the unintentional severity of the reprimand. Starling took mental note, once again acknowledging the teachings of the man he now considered his mentor; Robin, for his ability to do so.
A bitter-sweet sparkle, that possibly indicated a clue to the secret behind the blue, or green, or blue-green eyes of twenty three year old Rose, made a fleeting appearance. With the identification of this ephemeral phenomenon, Starling was transported momentarily, to a secret world; a world in which both the harshest and most pleasurable conditions existed, side by side; extremes which ranged from the utterly dark and depressing depths of sadness and sorrow; to the giddy, intoxicating heights of pure and unadulterated ecstasy.
Was it just another moment of reverie, or had he experienced a mystical, magical flash of insight into the essence of human nature; the human condition?
This time, Starling had to shake himself physically, in order to concentrate on matters at hand, while still retaining a permanent imprint of this vision that had etched itself into his consciousness.
“So…er, where were we?” Starling attempted to return to reality.
“My niece can be quite brutal in her observations, at times, but she knows I’ll never stop loving her.” Robin had experienced his own, personal ‘moment’. His, however, had been one of painful recollection that needed no repetition of the unanswered questions he’d spent more than ten years attempting to come to terms with. His outward display of self-confidence was a façade; a mirror image of the lost soul that dwelt beneath the, once solid surface, of the now fragile, rough diamond who called himself Robin.
“Are you going to tell him, or should I?” Rose’s impatience was forgivable, under the circumstances.
Both men actually appreciated the jolt that served to correct their deviation from the course Robin had intended to steer.
“Rose will be accompanying you from this point onwards. This is a condition attached to the continuation of your quest.” Robin spoke directly, turning to walk away, when he’d finished.
“Hang on a second, Robin. Don’t I have any say in this?”
“I’m afraid not, Starling; this is my call.
Come downstairs with me, both of you, so that I can explain to you and Nightingale, together. This decision affects him just as much as it affects you.”
Nightingale accepted this new development without opposition. Instructions, conditions, and advice, he could accept without question. It was problems and incompetence, if anything that may have caused him to re-assess his role in the quest.
The explanation followed. For the first time in a decade, Robin spoke of the horrors that had haunted his dreams, as well as his every waking moment since.

He and his sister, Rose’s mother, had been very close, until she’d left home, at twenty years of age, to marry, outside of her native district. Five years into the marriage, she had given birth to Rose. During this period, Robin had also been married. Unlike Rose’s mother, Robin’s wife had been unable to carry children. Then one day, a little over ten years ago, Rose’s father had been taken away in a ‘Service Raid’. Rose and her mother, returned to Sector 4735, to take up residence with Robin and his wife, in a house in the south of the Sector. They’d brought Rose’s grandfather, Sycamore, along with them, and he’d remained with Robin until this day. Day’s later, Robin received news that the two women had also been taken away by the Secret Police.
“This was in the days when raids were more common, due to the daily Voice of the Nation bulletins, which demanded increased vigilance from everybody, and when torture, or just pure sadism, was used on prisoners. It’s quite clear that the intimidating broadcasts were responsible for their abduction. The frightened citizens were just as likely to be taken away for not inventing reasons to have their neighbours arrested. You have to be aware of the fact, and believe, that that they were, all three of them, totally innocent. The arrival of newcomers to the area was the perfect opportunity to draw ‘official’ attention away from the rest of the neighbourhood. I don’t hold any of my ex-neighbours personally responsible for the atrocity”.
No explanation had ever been given for the abductions, but Robin had been summonsed to ‘official’ headquarters, where he was casually informed that he was now the child’s ‘father’. His protestations fell on deaf ears, and he was forced to accept his new role; one that he actually cherished, as reminder of his sister, Rose’s mother. What had been particularly haunting him all this time, was the apparent indifference he’d displayed towards the abduction of his wife. The truth of the matter was that he had wanted to experience the same sense of loss, for his wife that he felt for his sister, but found that, no matter how hard he’d tried, his wife just didn’t feature in his thoughts, to the same extent as his sister.
“To cut a very long, and extremely personal, story short; it has been Rose’s ambition, ever since, to embark upon a similar quest to your own. I…we have been waiting for just such a team as the two of you, to come along and turn this dream into reality. Rose has genuine scores to settle, for sure, but this will in no way detract from her professional approach to the quest; you have my guarantee of that.
It is our firm belief that her mother, and her father, are both still alive and well; as, we believe, is my wife. It is also our belief that a successful conclusion to your quest will not only reveal the truth behind their arrest, but will also secure their release from incarceration.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that I’m acting on impulse. There have been others like you, but none have qualified to assist my niece in her quest; until now.
She goes with my, somewhat reluctant blessing. I know, without doubt, that you are both capable men. I’m just not sure how I’m going to fill the gap her departure will create.”
Starling now felt he understood the sensations that had visited his consciousness, during his initial exchanges with Rose, and wanted to defend his impetuous response to Robin’s introduction to the subject of her inclusion in their personal quest.
“My earlier reaction to Rose’s inclusion was an instinctively protective one. You know you can depend on us.” This served the equally practical function of apology for his spontaneous outburst.
“It was the appropriate and correct reaction, Starling. It re-confirms my existing absolute faith in your abilities and your integrity. My heartfelt blessings, for what they are actually worth, go with you; with all of you,”
“Thank you Robin, that means the world to us.” Starling offered.
“I hope you’re referring to the world you are about to discover, and not this sad excuse of a world, which we all share the misfortune of inhabiting.”
“Touché,” seemed the appropriate response.
It was understood and agreed then, that Rose would be joining them on their quest. Nightingale, was grateful for the extra company, while Starling privately entertained further fantasies about how his own relationship with this goddess, Rose, might develop. He was convinced that a mutual connection had already been made, but his naiveties, and inexperience with members of the opposite sex, were the potential obstacles to any possible romantic encounter that may develop. He was also only too aware of the potential consequences of allowing himself to succumb to the strange and beautifully, haunting voice of the siren that was already beginning to fill his head.

Copyright © Stanislaw Skibinski
Click Fourth Millennium (10) to read on
Click FORBIDDEN to start at Chapter 1
Click Fourth Millennium (8) to go back to start of chapter 5

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

TOP Marketplace Poetry


They’re only coining phrases at the mint now
Priceless words of wisdom and respect
A debt of gratitude is due to pay though
Words are power; money talks no more

Transactions are replaced by Interaction
The ATM’s are ‘telling’ everyone
‘Forget Cash; put your mouth where your money was’
‘In-voice’ means just that; the spoken word

Drinks are on the house at the Speakeasy
The staff are only working there for tips
Sound advice to earn their keep, and bank it
Withdrawing only comments made in haste

So think before you waste your precious words
Golden Silence preserves your Golden Handshake
Loose lips spill loose change, so keep them pursed
Save your Silver Tongue for Rainy Days

Foreign Exchange students; ply your trade
Language is your hard-earned currency
Commission is Vocabulary, free
From Errors and Omissions that cost dear

Builder’s bills bust banter’s bulging budget
Maintenance must match more modest means
Al-(li)-terations keep your house in order
Caution caps conversion capital

The bottom line reads well on the quotation
It’s accurate, word for word, not pound for pound
Check to see if your account is current
To your credit, words don’t let you down

If you owe apologies to loved ones
Unlock the vaults and let your own words loose
Free speech still cannot buy love however
Borrow a phrase or two; get your ‘Words-worth’

Value Added Thought maintains the context
Remember that good manners have no price
Deal words wisely; try to keep a balance
Interest should increase a few percent

Sincerity’s an honest, open market
A luxury you can afford to own
Spend time, and pay heed to my final statement
Admission fee is nothing…but the truth

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Extraordinary Mysterious

For Matinee Muse 16 – Extraordinary Determination
Writers Island 4 – Mysterious


2. Whatever Happened To…?

The great man took the stand to address his audience.
With a confidence that is the product of a lifetime of success, he delivered his speech.

“Somebody once said to me: ‘If you want to know the shortest and surest way to fame and fortune, follow this simple guide: It’s not what you know that’s important, it’s who you know’.
I’m sure this is an expression that we’re all familiar with.
I carried these apparent words of wisdom around with me for years, believing that they made total sense; all the while, acquainting myself with the most influential people around me. For sure, I made some good friends, who, no doubt were able to help me in small ways. But it wasn’t until I reached adulthood and realised that I had acquired neither fame nor fortune, that I took stock of my situation and eventually came to the following conclusion:
It’s neither who you know nor what you know that counts, but rather, how you use what you know that will ultimately determine your true value in terms of both fame and fortune.
If something needs to be done and you are able to complete it in the most effective and efficient manner, then this is a clear example of your own character sending you on your way to earning a reputation. As a consequence, other people will begin to respect you. The more original you can be, the more of yourself you can apply to, or express in your actions, the more your reputation will be enhanced. People will trust you; have faith in you.
But did I hear someone say ‘Faith can move mountains!’?
Not so, sir. Faith is for followers, not leaders. Leaders have confidence and character and it is leaders who get things done. It is character, not faith that moves mountains, or indeed, any obstacle that crosses our paths. Strength of faith is merely an affirmation of our belief in what we follow. Strength of character is the true measure of an effective leader.
And believe it or not, we all have the potential to become leaders. We all possess character, to some degree. In some people, it can be more apparent than in others, because it is our perception of character that determines how we measure it in others. But in order to strengthen our own characters, we have to remember the words of our teachers, so that we may effectively use what we already know.
When I say ‘teachers’, I’m not just referring to our formal educational instructors, but to all the people we’ve met who have influenced us.
Think about it for a moment.
True enough, we learnt many things at school, but our greatest, most valuable lessons were learnt at home, in the playing fields and on the streets.
Our teachers? Parents, family, friends.
I have the greatest respect for all these people. They shaped my thoughts, my dreams...my life.
Unfortunately, a great many of them are no longer with us and I miss them all terribly. My finest teachers are among them; my grandparents and the most precious treasures of my life, my parents; God bless them. My respect for these people in particular, is absolute and unconditional.
The mere thought that I may one day accumulate their collective, supreme wisdom, together with the knowledge that it is my duty to pass this wisdom on to others, causes me to tremble.
To those of little faith and weak character, who are content to follow; know this:
My critics have often chosen one of two words to form negative assessments of my achievements and these words have remained my lifelong companions, because, paradoxically, I’ve come to realise just how appropriately they describe the events that have led to my greatest successes. The words are ‘irony’ and ‘metaphor’. Those who know me personally will appreciate their significance and will be able to develop these words into the idiom that best answers my critics and best summarises my current situation…….Poetic Justice.”

Extract from: ‘A FETISH FOR FRUSTRATION’ Copyright © Stanislaw Skibinski