Helicopter

High above, it prowls
Circling and scanning
Body thudding with a gruesome heartbeat
The propellers shred the skies
Compressing, squeezing, ripping up the clear night sky
Throwing down the heavens to cram into our eardrums
Children listen, wide-eyed, and yank their covers up to their chins
The noise becoming the backdrop of their nightmares
Parents wake to the throbbing sound and the scared whisper of their child
Above the city, the black fly buzzes
Restlessly circling, haunting, hovering.

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The Girl Raised Wrong

This is the childhood fear
Of a sweet little girl raised wrong
To wake screaming from nightmares of sirens
And shudder away from men in uniform
To hide under the stairs at a knock on the door.
Now, as a grown woman
She walks the city streets with frozen eyes
Deep inside the child still sobs
And fear as ancient as god himself
Still tears her joy from lips that dared,
Just once, to smile.

Watchful Moon

“Mama, I can’t sleep.”

I sit on the edge of the bed. Sophie’s feverish little hand sneaks into mine, all sticky with sweat. Her forehead gleams and her eyes are too bright, too shiny, and I can’t let her see how exhausted and scared I am.

With a weary smile I stand, drawing her curtains to let the moonlight flood into the room. Her walls are painted painting with silver and it feels like we’re underwater. Outside, it’s a clear night. The stars look like pinpricks in black cloth, letting light through tiny holes – perhaps the light comes from heaven.

“Can you see the moon?” I ask Sophie. She notes mutely, hands folded on her stomach.

“He’s there to watch over you,” I tell her softly, watching her face as she watches the moon. “He’s a kind old man that shines at night to show you that nothing is too dark for you to handle.”

Sophie’s chapped lips curve into a tiny smile, and my heart aches. I continue my story, choosing each word with care. “But sometimes we can’t see the moon. On some nights it’s too cloudy and everything looks dark.”

The last couple of months have been the darkest of my life, and I’m sure Sophie’s known that too. She knows that she’s not getting any better; she’s just not asking questions. I brush back hair that has stuck to her clammy forehead, and her eyes flick to me. “But remember, Sophie: even though everything is scary and you can’t see where you’re going, the dark is never too much for you to handle.”

She blinks, and I pray that I’ve got through to her. “Do you understand, Sophie?” Her chin dips with a nod.

“The moon is behind the clouds,” she says, unprompted. “When it’s dark, he’s not gone, just hiding.” I smile, so relieved – and the feeling of my heart tearing in two. My eyes prickle with tears.

“That’s right,” I say thickly, bending to kiss her skin. She’s like fire under my lips, her skin burning up. “You’re such a good girl. I love you very much.”

“I love you too, Mama,” she whispers, and I have to go. Fleeing from the room that has become her hospital, I fly down the corridors. I make sure I’m well out of earshot before I start weeping, great gasping sobs that want to tear me apart. Once I’ve begun I don’t think I can stop. And all the way through, the only thought in my head is ‘oh, god, please – I can’t lose her too’.

Grandma

In the kitchen my mother is standing
Broken, arms cradling the dead baby
Of her smoky childhood.
Her eyes are shattered snowglobes
At my entrance,
She wipes her bleeding cheeks and smiles
Nothing is wrong, she tells me
But I know better

I know what day it is; the anniversary
My grandma, wide-eyed, lying on the bathroom tiles
I was only seven.
I did not understand, only knew that my mother’s tears
Were the most terryifying thing I’ve ever seen.

The Room of My Childhood

My bedroom has memories as wallpaper
They shine brightly on the walls as I gaze around
This solid wardrobe took me to Narnia, on incredible adventures
The glow-in-the-dark stars were a secret computers system my head
And the most delicious secret; beside my bed, a secret trapdoor
Inside, a twisting slide led to a playpark where my friends and I went
Every single night while all our adults were sleeping.

All grown up now, and sleeping in the bed of my childhood
I slip my hand underneath the pillow and touch the hard spines of hidden books

I was a rebellious child.
After being tucked in I would take out my bounty, lie on my stomach and read for hours
I would tie string around my barbies and lob them out the window
Claiming that they were bungee jumping
The first time I was given a pair of scissors I hacked half my hair off
And I would sleep with all forty-six of my cuddly animals stuffed up my nighty

I suppose my biggest crime was the most expensive;
I would peel the wallpaper from the walls in great strips
To the point where my parents, with many stern words, were forced to redecorate

So now, the walls of my bedroom shine with memories
And with these old eyes I greet the wild child that I used to be.

What You’ve Taught Me

I’ve been involved in sick brutality
An apprentice to this world’s deprived humanity
Evil was the only lesson I’ve ever learnt

But you treated me like a person,
Looked deeper than my actions
My cruel nature didn’t repulse you

Instead, you took me into your garden and showed me the bees
We spent a whole golden afternoon watching their flight
For a few brief hours, I felt perfectly human

In all my life I’ve known nothing but brutality
But you have taught me the meaning of beauty

Clever

Dear World,Roger Hargreaves

I hate being clever, and this in itself is wrong. If you’re clever you should be happy, you should be respected, you should help those that aren’t – and those that aren’t should be in turn helped to improve.

When I find that I dislike being clever, there has to be something going wrong somewhere. Why is it that I feel like I would be happier at (private school)? I know that I would end up being a nerd, but there I would be normal. I would be average. I wouldn’t be best in class and I wouldn’t hate it like I do here.

It’s not fair. I want to do my best but I don’t want to be teased and bullied for it. I want to feel happy with my achievements and not embarrassed. I really, really hate being ashamed of getting A stars. I hate it when people go, ‘Oh, I bet you got an a star’ and you have to agree, and they go all snotty on you. I hate it.

Something is wrong if I feel this way, and if others do too, then something should be done. Now.

-Anon.

Sexist

The first time I read this, I went, ‘Awh, isn’t that cute’ and promptly forgot about it. It’s only a couple days later that I remembered this and realised that actually, it’s a very sexist thing to say.

First off, why is the girl more of a victim than the boy? Aren’t they just as likely to be bullied? And is the girl going to cry because she’s emotionally weak, or is it just because she’s the youngest?

Secondly, why can’t the girl defend herself? Why does she need her hypothetical older brother to defend her? I think that some girls can be pretty terrifying when angered. And they’re even more scary when they cry!

Thirdly, who’s to say the boy even wants to fight for his sister? I know plenty of pacifistic boys who prefer mind games over muscle games. And plenty of kick-ass girls too for that matter.

Lastly – if I am the parent of these two hypothetical children – shouldn’t I be beating up whoever it was that made them cry? It’s not the responsibility of the child to defend the sibling, but the responsibility of the parent. Until the child is 18, of course; then they can legally defend themselves.

Anyway. Rant over.