The Barn

Sometimes, when I head back to the island, I take myself off to visit the stone barn on McClintocks land. It has stood in the shadow of Ben More over a hundred years, and the dark, dank smell of stone is reminiscent of the years passing. Cobwebs display themselves in grotesque mysteries in the corners of those walls left standing, but the roof finally gave in, now a rotting mass of wood under moss and slate. I can hear myself shouting as I stand here; can smell the dampness on my fingers. A mixture of soil, and the secret scent of eroticism. It would be easier to write this reverie in the third person, thereby being aloof to offending my better morals, but I take the blame for what I’ve done and each tender, misguided, sortie my mind explored back then is what I am today.

I was still a virgin child after my fun in the ruins of the old barn. Back then, being thirteen, I’d go there alone, but one time took a girl. She lived at the far end of the village, the daughter of a policeman, and the school girlfriend of Billy Harrison, the class bully. A couple of the boys at school had told me Susan wore no panties under her skirt. Such silly indiscretions were then, and probably still today, the mindless occupation of a boy’s thought. It wasn’t true on the day I took her to the barn. Then, with the sun’s fingers stretching though the holes in the roof, we rolled in the soil. It’s not that my life was so depraved. It’s hard to remember how I learned about girls, or even if this particular girl was learning about me, but there in the soil we searched for answers.

One wonders now if thirteen was just a little too tender age to learn very much at all. In my innocence I considered it a journey into my own courage. Were I to be caught the world would surely have ended. She roughly pulled my zipper down and grabbed at my teenage penis. Even in this height of excitement I wondered why her eyes never opened wider, and why the blue in them never looked at me for longer than a few seconds of desire. It was rough play, lasting a couple of minutes for fear of being caught by a passer by. It just seemed, well, exciting and mysterious. Susan left the village a year later though I never touched her again.

I had taken my place among the sexually aware! Even back then I was a daydreamer. It was the time of raging hormones, and a growing awareness for the sculpture of the breast. The boys I grew up with knew nothing of the things I knew. I went to church with my parents on Sunday mornings and listen to the preacher tell me about sins and other intriguing possibilities. After church we were free to roam until lunch, which was always mid-day. I had to make the promise not to dirty my ‘church’ clothes and be on time for lunch and, when promised, was set free. It’s hard to describe freedom. For me it was the fields of wheat beside the yellow lanes that turned and buckled and disappeared round curves on the way to my beloved ocean. Come December the pale days and falling snow hid the lane, but I knew every inch of it by the twigs of life visibly poking through the white sheet of winter. The barn on the top of the hill stands today like a gravestone against the sky, the cabbage-colored moss spreading itself between the cracks of its stone walls. I did eventually find the love I searched hopelessly for there in that soil, but she, too, left my life in ruins, half built, finished.

Barn on mUll

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Posted by on November 15, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Sailor’s Fear…His Mistress! (Inspired by Cee’s wonderful photos. Thank you, Cee)

Horny doggies and children play around her skirt. Men photograph her. The sun adores her. Lovers, long after midnight, do their courting beneath her while dead men rise under her. Yet, come what may, she remains stoical, serene, standing alone above the meringue topped waves. There is no denying her beauty.

Slender, curvy, she carries her height with dignity; neither shivering, nor retreating in the face of nature’s onslaught. Don’t look for toes – don’t imagine breasts to feed a wanton child, for she has none of these. No silk panties beneath the fall of her dress. There’s no biting of her ass, no brushing of hair, for she is excited only by the north wind; a wind that whistles a requiem for the passing leviathans. She needs no extra bed clothes, nor has any appetite for sleep. No legs will she spread, yet sailors have yearned for the direction of her beam.

She’s as much at home with tragedy, and catastrophe, as she is tranquillity. Those men not blessed by the sympathy of her Fresnel glance, run the risk of journeying to hell.

Seas rise and fall, while sulky squalls, like angry mobs, attack her aloofness. ‘Come close at your peril.’ That’s Arena’s message, every six seconds, of every day.


(Point Arena Lighthouse)


Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


Daily Prompt: handmade gift

I sat in the tree a lot as a kid, when I came down dad was either away on the waters, or at home in his workshop. I was a scary boy, but I was the greatest kid who ever lived, the funniest, the most adorable boy in all the world. I know this because my mum told me, repeatedly. I remember I came home after running away for the third time that week, mum was hanging out the washing, and the food she had prepared for my journey had been eaten. Tomorrow was going to be my birthday, I would be ten-years old, finally. Tomorrow, yes, when I would get to go to bed a whole half hour later. Other kids could be heard from my bedroom, playing soccer, or yelling their tag games. I didn’t mind because when dad was home he would turn my bed into a ship, and we’d sail through storms…crash goes the mast…he would shout. When I woke up that next morning, next to my bed was a complete circus made of wood, with animals, clowns, and a circus master dressed in red. I have it to this day.



Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Academic Hermit

I have not come to my computer to say anything new, or to say much that has not been said before using different words. I seldom have much to do with academics, tutors, or even people who are in leadership roles. I’m a sailor. It must, however, always be borne in mind that character and integrity count in the market-place more than brilliance. My father taught me many things, how to tie a knot, sew a lobster pot, but more he taught me that a man should possess both capacity and character, and who having chosen a path, stick to his plan undeviatingly. Such a man will meet much that he will not like, even appear to him at the end of his days that the fruits of his exertions are to be no more than material acquisitions. My father was not a wise man, just a man of quality. He believed the most enjoyable course of his life was in its development. It is always the case that people can readily be helpful to each other. He lived that. Personally I have no longer the good fortune of many years to look forward to, but do have the better perspective of many to look back on. Without knowledge of great literary works, he found joy in writing poetry. ‘Bad poetry’ he would say. I never met another man I thought could aspire to the singleness of his life’s purpose. His family. His crew. The plan he put in place for himself was not an easy one, it was, in fact, his passion for excellence. He taught me one over-riding thing about life; that the real test of highest success lies in one’s deepest sense of humility.

This is what I will say in conclusion: to form a judgment based wholly on your own rules is the humor of the academic. ( Francis Bacon)


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Posted by on November 13, 2014 in Uncategorized


A Cockney born living in Mendocino!

Prompt: Ten minute free write.

Ten minutes of writing…ah, simply done, but first I must take my ol’ duchess a cup of Rosy Lee in bed, up the apple and pears, before I ‘ave a jimmy riddle, and make my call back ‘ome on the dog and bone. Got myself a stormin’ ‘eadache goin’ on in the ol’ loaf and bread, me own fault, got Brahms and Liszt last night.  ‘mericas a funny ol’ place, cold tea, iced, can yer imagine!

Them neighours we ‘ave, what a pen and ink comes outta that ‘ouse! Must eat Ruby Murray every night. But then my ol’ dutch finks its some weird plant, medical, she says, what the ‘ell, I sez, stickin’ out me ol’ salmon and trout! Ok, so I better stop the rabbiting and get me in my ball and chalk, before I gets to ‘ear the next darby and joan coming down them apples and pears…ten minutes, ah well, I’ll be letting you folks have a butcher’s hook at it while I get myself into them daisy roots!

cockney slang


Posted by on November 13, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Corduroy Jacket

The brown corduroy jacket, still hanging in the closet was, even when she was alive, more beaten up, more creased than even my face today! It’s fading, and long past its fashionable sell-by date. But the jacket is what she will recognize if I’m to finally do this. It seems somehow appropriate that I should don it one more time; say goodbye to her wearing the jacket I first said hello in.

So here I am, waiting. I chose the old denim shirt, as old as the jacket and still with a tear in the sleeve. I remember I apologized to her for the tear in the sleeve on our second date. ‘It’s who you are,’ she said, ‘and more importantly, who you want to be.’

Waiting now, I feel as clumsy as ever, dressed like a drunk, a man trying to fit the clothes of a living ghost. I swore I’d never love anyone but her; burned by passion, secure in her faithfulness, shot through with pride every time I looked at her, yet here I am, waiting to tell her I’m in love with another.

I’m tired of worn out, and badly written poetry? I’ve been open for the finding. Hallucinations simply fail to work anymore. I’ve said a thousand farewells, stomped a hundred shores praying to God to give me back her stinking flesh; bring it home among the tankers garbage, the flotsam, and the beer bottles.  She never came, not on any shore I ever stood.

There is no explanation for the magical sophistries, self invented, which got me through days of exquisite pain.  Even this one.

Is that her face, or the one time has created? A question I have asked ten-thousand times during those five-minutes of uncertainty, somewhere between the moon’s rising and midnight. Tonight it’s not there at all. Nor do I remember the softness of her skin, the purity, or its familiarity. I try to recall it all the time, but mostly when I’m pouring cool milk on summer cereal.

I’m shivering, waiting here for the wind to take her away. Take her and lay her somewhere I don’t know. No, not really. Why would I think that, damn my stupid talk.

My courage has folded its wings and dived back into humility. Into regret.

Then, to the sound of the ocean’s petticoat shores, she’s here.

‘I’m so done with you. I’m done with the world. We can quibble about this for another fifty years, it won’t change a thing.’

I turn away my head, eyes brimming with tears.

‘Do you know why you can’t look at me? Because I’m salt and tide. You’ve lost me, still you invent, and re-invent. It won’t work. Don’t you see that? I never thought you’d use me this way; not when you were my inspiration. I was never your sole reason for living; now you and your brilliant arguments are no more than literary madness. I’m deader than a fossil, yet you continue to claim unfathomable things. It’s a waste. You’re not learning anything. Visions are never educational. I’m in my own ecstatic flight through things unheard of. Nothing you can ever imagine will help you understand where I am. The ideas and forms you conjure up simply restrict me. Lay my memory to rest. Let me go lay among bone hardened coral.’

I want to scream; suddenly the pain is too much. ‘Don’t talk like that. You’re not dead. You’re all forms of love to me. You only want to exhaust me with your poisons, coming to me faceless, having the soul of a monster, wanting to graft warts on my heart.’ But my throat won’t allow the scream an exit. ‘And to add insult to injury you wear the very clothes I couldn’t bear to see you in!’ She smiles, letting the dawn light cross her face.  ‘I’m okay, honey…let go…’

She’s dead. I know that. But I’ve never been able to lay my memory of her to rest.

I mumble something about how love has found me again. The breeze changes direction, now pushing away from my face.

I’m not sure how long I’ve been standing here as I feel the gentlest of squeezes, a little finger tucked into mine. My chest quivers, eyes feel blurry, and now her voice is as real and as soft as a velvet curtain.

‘I knew I’d find you here.’ My new love has come to stand at my side. ‘She’s out there, I know that, and I know she’ll call from time to time.’ I feel the palm of her right hand warm on my chest.

We turn from the shoreline to face our future, accepting completely the ecstasy of the unknown. The chill of memory fleeing to Cimmerian shores. We walk, tiny fingers entwined, while the tatters of corduroy memories fall in shreds behind us.



Posted by on November 13, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Cell Phone

I feel warmth first then, as the blur over my vision clears, I see her shape, the smile on her face, the brown hair, hazel eyes, and the tilt of her head. She’s rubbing the back of my hand.

“You’re okay, Mr. Shaw, you’ve been involved in an accident. Just relax please.” She reassures, patting the back of my hand.

I’m hearing the word repeat itself in my head…accident? Her voice repeating out there somewhere, hollow and distant, yet she’s right here, right by my side, holding my hand. Is there pain? I try to feel for pain, but feel only numbness, paralyzed?

“You’re fine, Mr. Shaw,” she says, perhaps sensing my panic. “We’ve given you a little something to help you relax, okay? You might feel slightly panicked, perhaps not feel your legs, but everything is as it should be, do you understand?”

It isn’t exactly reassuring, but I nod. Try as I might I cannot feel any sensation in my legs. I can, however, feel my hand being held, so why no feeling in my legs? I try to remain calm. My head is reeling but she said, everything is okay, no need to panic, just keep calm. I feel a coldness descend.

“Mr. Shaw….. Mr. Shaw,” she repeats, awakening me out of these scary thoughts, “we have someone here who wants to ask you a few questions, do you feel up to it?”


“Sure, I think I’m okay. I am okay, aren’t I?”

“Of course you are. I’ll be right here, Mr. Shaw.” She smiles and beckons with a movement of her head. I grip her hand with my fingers. A man is at the side of the bed.

“Hello Mr. Shaw, I’m sorry to see you this way, I’m afraid I have to ask you some questions. The nurse tells me you’re doing okay, out of danger. That’s good.”

Out of danger!

“I can’t feel my legs, do you know that?”

The nurse chimes in…

“You will, Mr. Shaw, I promise you, perhaps a few minutes, that’s all, and your legs will be fine. Please relax and just answer the policeman’s questions.”

Policeman? I look at his uniform, cap help under his right arm, notebook in his left hand, white shirt, black tie, smart. I feel a shrink of cool enter into my stomach.

 “Do you remember anything of the accident, Mr. Shaw?” He asks, looking down at his notebook, pencil poised.

“No, sir, I don’t.”

“Do you recall leaving home?”

I’m still conscious that I have no feeling in my lower body. I can hardly think straight at all.

“No…no…I’m afraid I don’t.”

“You do know who you are, correct?”

“Richard Shaw, yes.”

“And your address, sir?”

“17 Ragland Square, San Francisco.”

The policeman leans toward the woman. I hear a whispering sound, like a moth caught in my head. I try to look back, pushing my neck into the pillow, straining my eyeballs till they hurt, upwards to see what they are doing, but cannot see them. Just hear the fluttering of mouths speaking inaudibly.

“Mr. Shaw, I have to tell you some sad news I’m afraid. The car you were driving…it mounted a pavement near your home. I’m afraid a mother and a child were killed.”

The pressure of blood going to my brain immediately reverses its flow, sluicing down my neck, away from my head. Nausea overtakes my stomach. I feel a blue depth approaching as this news washes over me.

“Mr. Shaw…Mr. Shaw…It’s okay, gently now…gently…you’re okay….and again I can feel her hand gripping mine. I hold onto it tightly.

Oh my God, my head is exploding, barking bouts of pain are entering and leaving my gut in cycles of agony. My brain can hardly control the thought, running wild, why…why me…what happened?

The nurse helps tilt my head forward. I sip at the water, feel the coolness, but I can’t swallow. The surplus spills from my mouth, seeping passed my lips, running down my neck, and forming a puddle in the well below my Adam’s apple.

“Try to relax your body, Mr. Shaw, you’re having a hard time breathing. In…out…in and out…keep in time with me please, big breath in…now out…and again…in…and out, that’s better, keep that going.”

She signals the policeman over. “You can continue now.” She squeezes my hand.

“Do you recall using a cell phone at any time, Mr. Shaw?”

I feel a sudden drift of guilt. Did I have my cell phone?  I try to imagine myself at the wheel, see the cell phone.

“No, sir, I do not recall a cell phone?”

“Eye witnesses say you were seen driving without due care, you were using a cell phone. You definitely don’t recall this?”

There’s a deep and dark resonance to his voice. He believes I did recall and not admitting to it. It’s in the timbre of his voice, the inference of his accent and the emphasis on the word ‘definitely’. A mother and a child dead. A fog thickens before my eyes. I feel profoundly alone and afraid. I’m alive and a mother and child are dead because I’d used a cell phone while driving. How could this destruction have happened to me, to them, innocently standing, walking, playing, when my car smashes into them? My thoughtless act. The cell phone. A call…to…who…why…what could’ve been so important that I risked such havoc and death for a phone call?

The lamp above my head appears distant. I feel far…far underground. What a senseless world, a phone call. I wasn’t drunk. I wasn’t on drugs or medication, I’d been using the cell phone and somehow driven my car into a woman and child. Nothing makes sense.

“Do you have a reading there, nurse?”

It’s a distant question, somewhere out there, but audible. I turn my head.

“Yes, Mr. Tomlin, it’s a good reading. I think we’re done here.” She replies.

“Good, I’m meeting with my wife this evening, it’s our twentieth wedding anniversary.”

“Congratulations…here, let me take that jacket from you.”

The nurse slides the jacket from his shoulders. I feel my leg twitch.

“Let me have a look, please….” The Policeman, now in shirtsleeves, wrenches the paper from the printing machine. “Hmmm… quite good, good enough, I’ll sign him off and if you don’t mind I’ll make my way home, the traffic will be building up soon.”

Blood is flushing down into my legs. My head is clearing to sounds; perfect sound, no echo, not sense of the noise being far off.

“Do you feel you can swing your legs off the gurney?”

Her voice isn’t the same tender voice that has just reassured me. It seems ordinary, not distant. I hear traffic. I hear people talking outside the door.

“You’ll be remembering why you came now, Mr. Shaw.” She says, busily signing papers at a desk.

I look round, feeling half drunk, feeble, and slightly nervous. I’d left home…yes, it was beautiful, crisp, a great morning to get my first driving license!

“Don’t worry, you’ve passed. You now have your full driving license. You’ve passed the simulated accident scenario. Your guilt level is excellent.” She holds toward me a paper sheet. “Just hand this to the receptionist when you leave. If you need a cup of tea, the receptionist will get you one, and there’s a waiting room if you still feel a little unsteady.”

PLEASE…DON’T DO IT!   cell-phone


Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Uncategorized