What happened ……

When DH and I go to visit my mum and dad we often drive past a hobo sitting forlornly on the side of the road with a mismatched, ragtag bundle of meager possessions. He’s a big man, long hair and a full beard – filthy dirty with a puce colured coat and head down, never looking at the passing cars. I always wonder how he ended up in such a dire state?

“I used to be somebody you know
People used to look me in the eye, shake my hand and call me sir
That was before
That was before that night – I signed the deal and they told me I was the best
Everybody wanted to buy me a drink and I didn’t say no
Dave wanted to drive me home but I told him to piss off, I was no girly that couldn’t hold my drink
I got in the car

I killed him you know
They say I hit him so hard that he ended up in the ditch across the way
Just 16 he was, on his way home from football practice
They put me away for a while but I got parole for “good behaviour”
Bloody joke, no booze inside.

And now, sleeping rough,
My family moved away, no forwarding address
They deserted me – the bastards
I’m afraid, especially at night
I hide behind the station
Under the boxes
They hurt me when they can find me
They take my stuff,
I’m all alone.”

Postscript – I wrote this a few weeks ago and didn’t get around to posting it. The irony of the situation is, when we went to fetch my parents for Christmas lunch at my brother’s today, there was a plain wooden cross in the spot where he used to be. Willie, that was his name, died on 17 December 2012.

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Five Days – Day One

I’ve a lifelong passion for military history and military graveyards (which might sound morbid I guess but its the story behind those thousands of gravestones that fascinates me). From Arlington to Gallipoli, Montecasino to Dunkirk millions of men and women and their families have been affected by the endless grind that is the machinery of war. With this is the ever present spectre of death ……………..

The sky is grey and wet

I’m sitting staring at the nothingness,

I’m searching for you

My hands are restless

I can feel the warmth of your skin but you’re not here.

The silence is so very loud,

I’m screaming your name,

Where are  you, why don’t you hear me?

They keep asking me if I’m alright

Keep bringing me a blanket,

Keep wanting me to eat.

I want to laugh, alright?

What is alright?

My soul is empty,

My head is full

A whirlpool of angry thoughts, you promised you’d come back.

And now all I have left is a handful of photographs,

You, so full of life

In a barren wasteland obliterated by war.

A white cross on a distant hill,

Come home

Please come home.

(photo courtesy of 123RF)

The story in a photograph

 

The photograph is from a recent birthday break in the mountains, the story is whimsical flim flam.

 

“Gramps, where are you” she cried. Anxiety made her quicken her pace as she hurried around the corner of the house.

The old man wasn’t answering the phone and Mrs Dimble from down the street hadn’t seen him either.

It was two years since Gran had died, two years today since the sadness took over his every waking moment.

The patio was deserted, the only sign that he’d even been out of the house were his spectacles and his books.

He never went anywhere without his specs.

Her gaze turned to the mountains, strong in their silence and a constant presence.

Surely not,

he couldnt,

he wouldnt,

everybody knew how dangerous the path was – especially after the rain.

Death Becomes Her

My best friend and a work colleague both lost their mums over the past three months. As a result, what is normally a topic banished to the recesses of my mind has been much more prominent of late.

I’m very fortunate to still have both my parents and thus harbor no illusions of having any answers related to loss and grieving. In both these cases mental and physical illness was rife and their passing was a blessing – I would imagine for them and most definitely for their loved ones!

Yet again, nature becomes my point of reference. While walking the river on our last weekend break, a fallen tree caught my eye. With DH’s warning of “watch for sun bathing snakes” ringing in my ears, my camera and I went to investigate (DH couldn’t be separated from his ciabatta and “monitored” progress from a grassy bank).

A most fantastical display of plant life had sprung forth from their dying host. A veritable forest of fungi and traces of numerous bugs dashing about but I resisted temptation to break away some of the bark for a closer look. You can justimagine the headline in the local Insect News ….. “Monstrous alien invader destroys numerous homes in unprovoked raid”

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”

There was a shy, new moon out last night – barely cracking a smile. In fact if you blink you’d probably miss the silver sliver. Yet there was just a hint of “watch out world, here I come”.

For some obscure reason, it brought a flood of sentiment (not particularly useful while dodging traffic but there is no leash powerful enough for the beast that is the human psyche). There is an afrikaans word that perhaps best encapsulates the emotion – “huimwee”. No literal translation as such – hankering, yearning, nostalgia  … yet more ethreal somehow, a more will o the wisp thing. The what ifs, perhaps and maybe’s, different roads to take, different choices to make.

The fraility of human existence was never more clear than during a documentary on television filmed by an ITN reporter called Jon Steele and called “Baker Boys – Inside the Surge”. Based on the experiences of a company of american soldiers in Iraq it chronicles the experience of being at war in the modern age. No short sharp battle, a winner and a loser – instead a constant, draining war of minds and hearts. I’m fascinated by history and hand in hand with that military history courtesy of us war-mongering humans. I feel unqualified to pass judgement on being at war – my ground level, uncontaminated opinion is that death cannot be recommended but sadly good people die while politicians play at puppet master.

A sea of blank eyes greeted the documentary maker’s questions – “how do you feel”, “what do you think”? Optimistic to expect the truth I guess. Would they do it again – I would imagine the majority would sign on the dotted line. War generates income and in an economic recession people do what they need to to put bread on the table.

It begs the question though – what does the average 20 year old see by the quiet light of a silvery moon on foreign shores?

Baker Boys – Inside the Surge