Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Day I Heard The News

The day I heard the news,
The World didn’t end – at least not that day.
Instead the sky grew a little darker,
And I realised there was no longer any way
That we’d accidentally bump into one another
On some far-flung shore, and laugh about the old times.
That morning I said, ‘see you later’ was to be our very last and
Neither of us even knew.
The day I heard the news,
A billion candles on the Sun blew themselves out,
And my shadow grew a little paler against the Earth.  

bobby stevenson 2018

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Peter Rabbit

He remembers one night - when Peter was about twelve summers old - that he and his best friend were sitting in the light of the dusk, puffing a found cigarette butt and talking about love.

Peter’s pal was excited about the prospect of kissing a girl – a human girl – and although Peter went along with the conversation, he couldn’t stop himself feeling empty and lonely inside. Peter wanted to tell his best friend in all the world, that on the outside he might look human but on the inside, he was most definitely a rabbit.

As the days continued into weeks, and the weeks bound together to make months, Peter felt more and more that he would be happier in this life, if he lived it as a rabbit.

One of the kinder teachers in school had noticed the differences in Peter and told him that if he ever need to talk, he could call on her at any time. Peter made a lying smile, and told her that he was happy, thanks for asking, but he felt happier than he had ever felt.

That year, the head of the government in Peter’s country changed the law about promoting being different in schools. It was against the law to talk about wanting to be anything other than human, so Peter’s teacher could no longer talk to him about his feelings of being different. It was said that many humans who had felt that they should be animals wanted took their own lives. Peter never forgave the head of the government for that.

When he was a teenager, Peter and his family went to church. It was there that the vicar gave a sermon on the topic of being what God made you. If God had wanted a person to be a rabbit than he would have created them as such.

Peter wondered about the fact that God might have made you a human who thought that they should be a rabbit. Peter hadn’t invented his rabbit desires – so how could it be a sin to believe what was in your head?

Some of the kids in school suspected that Peter was not really human and would call him names or make rabbit ears behind his head. Peter knew that these kids came from homes, where difference were ridiculed, because the people in those homes were scared of differences.

One day, on his eighteenth birthday to be exact, he sat his mother and father down and told them the truth about wanting to be a rabbit. His mother cried, and paced about the room, saying that it was all right to be who he was, but she would have loved human grandchildren. His father stood up, went upstairs and threw all Peter’s belongings into the road. He was never to darken their doorstep again – whatever that meant.

He never did.
Peter went to the big city and found that some folks were bad, and some were good – probably more of them were good, he decided. Then one night as he passed a little cafĂ©, he saw a whole warren of rabbits sitting having coffee and talking. He wasn’t alone. He cried.

It took him several more years to have the operations but in the end Peter became the rabbit he had always dreamed of. He found a lady rabbit who was an ‘Ex’,as they called it (ex human), and they adopted several little rabbits to bring up as their own.

Peter knew deep down that if any of his children grew up and wanted to be human (because it was in their hearts) then he would never stand in their way.

bobby stevenson 2018

Friday, 19 January 2018

Amy and Hector

There are two people in this story – as well as Hector.

Hector’s the elephant. The little girl is Amy, and her granddad is the other fellow. From the moment she could walk Amy took Hector everywhere - after all he was a real elephant and wasn’t he Amy’s best friend in the whole wide world? So why wouldn’t you?

Amy loved Hector and Hector loved Amy. Amy’s mother could hear them having discussions in the bedroom directly above the lounge –  at least, she could hear Amy, only Amy could hear Hector – and perhaps that is the way it should be.
One fine, sunny, morning Amy and Hector were talking about this and that in the garden – and although Hector seemed to know more about that, than this - it didn’t seem to bother him at all.  Amy and her pal were in the middle of a tea party when a little kid from a house along the street stood and watched as Amy and Hector enjoyed a day in the Sun.

“It isn’t real you know,” said the horrible little kid with the runny nose.
“What isn’t?” Asked Amy.
“That stupid toy of yours,” added the boy with some relish.
“I haven’t got a toy, there’s just me and Hector here. That’s all.”
“You call your toy, Hector?” He sneered.
“No, I call my elephant, Hector but I’ve already told you, I don’t have a toy.” 

Amy went back to having tea and chit-chat with her elephant.
That night, was Granddad’s night to baby-sit and as he was putting Amy to bed, he noticed that she seemed a little upset.

“What’s the matter, honey?”

At first Amy didn’t want to talk about it, but Granddad being Granddad, he eventually got it out of her. And it was worse than expected.

“Perhaps, Hector is a toy after all,” she said.

This cut Granddad to the core.
Granddad wanted to be there the day that his little precious, Honey discovered gravity but today wasn’t going to be the day that it happened.
A few days earlier, Granddad had been watching a movie on television about Santa Claus and how people didn’t believe it was him, and this gave Granddad an idea.

The next day, he telephoned his friend in the Town Hall and asked him to put a notice on the front door. Later, Granddad and Amy went into town to take a stroll. Granddad said that he had to go into the Town Hall to register something or other. When Amy and Granddad got to the door there was a sign that said: ‘Strictly No Elephants’.

Amy looked worried, so Granddad went into the Town Hall and fetched his pal. The man came out with Granddad and he looked at Hector, and ‘tutted’ some, then he walked around the elephant and ‘tutted’ some more. Then the man shook his head and said to Granddad straight out – “I’m sorry sir, but this is a genuine elephant and as such is not allowed in the Town Hall.”

On the way home, Amy (who had started to smile again) apologised to her friend, Hector about the man being so mean to elephants.

bobby stevenson 2018

Thursday, 18 January 2018

When I Was Out Walking

Sometime while I was out walking, the wind changed,
No longer at my back with my face always towards the sun,
It cuts a sheer cold front that takes my breath away,
And steals the words out of my mouth,
Names are harder to recall and thoughts are grainy,
It blows the dust of time into my eyes,
Causing them to stream and flow with tears,
Friends wander into the fog and don’t return,
Sometime while I was out walking, the wind changed,
Never to blow this way again. 

bobby stevenson 2018

Monday, 15 January 2018

Enough Sunshine For Everyone

That summer, that sultry humid one, in ’46 was the hottest on record. She still remembers it. How could ever she forget?

From her apartment window on the first floor she could view most of the comings and goings for a block. And she never got bored. Never.  There was always the odd soldier returning home from the war overseas. Those kids in khaki would run up the sidewalk throwing themselves into the arms of lovers, mothers, brothers, kids, and wives and always the same hugs, as if to say: ‘I’m home – let’s never be so stupid again’. 

Before the war, there had been Edith and her son, Eugene. Now Edith was alone. Her last letter from her only son had come from a prisoner of war camp in the Far East. That was two years ago, and she still had heard nothing. She felt that if he was dead she would know, and she was sure she could still feel the tick of his heart in the universe.

When Eugene, or Gene as the liked to be known, was eight years old, he had 
run out in front of an automobile which had been speeding up Montrose. The car clipped her son and knocked him flying back on to the sidewalk. Her boy, her love, had been in a coma for six weeks before he had opened his eyes again. Edith had never, ever prayed so much in her life.

It was the Japanese lady on the second floor who had saved Gene’s life. She was a nurse and had been approaching home after a double night shift at St Edwards, when she saw the automobile hit Eugene. She had given him the kiss-of-life until the ambulance had arrived. Her name was Hana Tanaka, and after that accident, both Hana and Edith had become close friends.

When Eugene lay unconscious in St Edwards, Hana would come around to the room and sit with Edith during her darkest hours. In fact, Hana had been attending Gene when he first opened his eyes.Hana had given Edith the good news in the morning.

“You and your son deserve happiness, after all, isn’t there there is enough sunshine for everyone,” said Hana, as she hugged Edith.

The war ended, and many folks danced and kissed their way up and down Montrose Avenue. Edith watched most of it from the safety and sterility of her apartment window. She couldn’t party until she knew her boy was home and safe.

It was in the Spring of 1946, that George, a single man, who had also been captured by the Japanese, moved into Edith’s apartment block. George tended to keep himself to himself, but on the odd occasion when Edith passed him in the corridor, Edith would exchange a ‘hello’. She was desperate to ask if he had seen or talked to her son, but she never seemed to get the chance.

So it was in shock that Edith found herself in the backyard of the apartment block that sultry summer in 1946, staring into the face of George as he held a knife to Hana’s throat.

“Goddamn Japs! Ain’t no good. Ain’t no good at all, with what these folks done to me,” shouted George as he pressed the knife closer to Hana’s neck. Edith was sure she could see some blood appearing. From a top window across the way, a woman signalled to Edith that she was going for help. Until then, Edith would have to think of something quick.

“This woman, George – can I call you George? – This woman saved the life of my boy right outside here a few years back,” said Edith.
“Don’t care if she did, don’t care if she didn’t,” said George. “She’s a Jap and they all deserve to die.”
“Why George?” Asked Edith.
“Just ‘cause, just ‘cause. Just ‘cause of what they did to me and every other poor soul. They is the devil. They is the devil. They surely are”. Edith noticed a tear running down George’s face, and so decided that now was the time to act.
“She saved my boy’s life, George. What kind of devil does that George? Tell me? You can’t blame Hana for the sins of others. She’s a kind decent heart and deserves to be treated as such. She grew up here, George. She’s an American. She’s proud of being an American. She is love, George. Love. You understand?  After she saved my boy’s life, she sat with him day and night tending to his every need. She’s an angel, George. She ain’t a devil.  Know what she said to me, George? Hana said we all deserve happiness. Each and every one of us. I know folks out there did some pretty bad things to you, George. Things you might not forgive, but it wasn’t Hana. Not this gently lady. Hana said to me that there’s enough sunshine for everyone and I think she’s right George. I surely do”.

George thought for a bit, then dropped to his knees. Edith picked up the knife and throw the object as far as she could. The cops never arrived that day and a few weeks later George disappeared.

Edith still stands on the steps of her apartment waiting for her boy, Eugene to walk home up Montrose avenue.  She still has hope in her heart.

bobby stevenson 2018

Friday, 12 January 2018

The Man From Montana

It was on a mild Spring Thursday morning when it happened. No church bells, or fireworks, or even a spontaneous applause marked the occasion; for on that Thursday, at 9.24am, the last book that had been read was closed for the very last time.

It’s not as if anyone could have failed to see it coming. For years people had read their stories on little pads – never having the satisfaction of turning and folding paper pages. The population would binge on streaming drama, and comedy, and documentaries from Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and a million others. 

People didn’t want to read anymore – because with reading meant bringing your imagination to work – and that took time which no one could spare.
You see it wasn’t just books – for, not long after the last book was read, the electronic versions, also got discarded. Reading was so last decade. To be honest, most folks found it difficult to write in anything other than EstuaryText (ET): ‘You’re’ had become, ‘Your’, had transmuted into ‘UR’. Slogans were written in ET. Shop signs and street signs, the same. Mostly graphics provided information – the way you knew where a toilet was, or a car parking, back in the 20th century.

But there was still the need for stories, meaning there was always a requirement for story writers. Sure, people read scripts for movies – but the words were projected immediately in front of them. No one needed to commit lines to memory.  Some of the team of media writers would still use old methods to record their thoughts for stories – but these were the exception.

Then it happened – one day, about 130 years after the last book had been read, a man turned up who had spent his early life in the hills of northern Montana. 

He had grown up with his grandmother, in a small cabin. He had hunted and fished, and in the evenings, his grandmother told him stories that had been handed down through the generations. His favourite story was one called ‘Great Expects’ – which had been written by a man called Chuck Dikkens, apparently this dude had written stories in sections, and would sell them bit by bit, leaving the readers excited about what would take place next. Of course, they had to buy the next instalment to see what had occurred.

This man from Montana, called Aster, decided that perhaps he could be like Chuck Dikkens and create stories.

At first, they were verbal. He would drone-travel around the town and tell a story or two. Most folks told him to be quiet while they would binge inside on their latest streamer, but one or two listened and asked him when he would be back with the next story.  Two became four, which became fifty, then a hundred. Aster’s visits would be greatly anticipated.

One of those listening to Aster’s stories was a woman by the name of Fara. She had studied stories and story making, and this included a rudimentary understanding of a written language, once known as EstuaryText.  She started to convert Aster’s stories into Text Speak – and one day, when she had the courage, she showed it to him. Of course, there could be anything written in the strange shapes – according to Aster. So, to appease him, Fara taught him all she knew about writing language. Eventually Aster not only told his stories but handed out single page leaflets which contained the same in Text. Not many could read these stories to begin with, but after Sara started up a class in town, more and more folks began to understand what the shapes meant.

More than a few folks got excited, as they had probably done, several hundred years before with the stories of Chuck Dikkens and – okay, so it wasn’t a book – but people began to read for pleasure and the world lightened a little.

And perhaps one day, maybe in the far-distant future, books would come back and be read on hillsides.

bobby stevenson 2018
painting: Quint Bucholz.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

You Think You Have Time

You think you have time,
To be annoyed, or to be angry,
To not speak, or not call.
You think you have time,
To work up the courage to say hello,
Or tell the one you want, that you love them.
You think you have time,
To consider this, or ponder that,
Or shrug and say, next week I will,
You think you have time,
To return a long-lost kindness,
Or make a long-held deal.
You think you have time,
To begin to learn to love yourself,
And to cease the worrying in your heart,
But you don’t,
And you won’t,
And you probably never will;
Because you see, you think you have time…..

bobby stevenson 2018