Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Be Who you Are in 2012 by Bobby Stevenson


Be who you are,
Be magnificent,
Be strong,
And except to those who cared too much,
The one who never quite belonged.

Be who you are,
Stand tall, unique
Be grand
The one who smiled at little jokes,
That no one else could understand.

Be who you are,
Let laughter roll the same as tears
Take pleasure in the here and now,
Not in the days or months or years.

Be who you are,
Be loved
And loving everything,
Don’t back away from chance nor dare,
You too will have your song to sing.

Be who you are,
Let happiness and joy
Break through,
The universe was wise enough
To only make the one of you.



















Tuesday, 20 December 2011

An Angry Sun by Bobby Stevenson


He had to lay his hands on them,

To hold them, to caress them would be enough for now.

They had spoken of them, the elders, but no one could remember

When last they saw them.

That had been the problem, all the words and all the photos,

all the music and all the knowledge in the world had been

Stored as binary: on chips, on phones, on tablets.

So when the Sun grew angry and sent the storm earthwards.

Nothing was left of the memories

Except those,

The books,

They were out there somewhere and he would find them.







A story in 100 words.

Little Devil by Bobby Stevenson



Our Christmases were always grand
Our happy little family band
We’d celebrate each snowy year
With song and dance
And merry cheer,
But cousin Tom who couldn’t spell
Sent all of us to flaming Hell….

….He asked Satan for an X-box 360.

Write or Wrong by Bobby Stevenson

I never really quite belonged,

To anyone or anywhere,

Except the worlds inside my head,
I’m always made so welcome there.

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Flight of the Geese by Bobby Stevenson




She stood staring at the sky and with one deep breath the arctic air slashed the back of her windpipe.

She had almost to close her eyes to see their forms in the upper field as the sun seared the earth.

The wild geese had been there for days, nestled in the higher ground, feeding from the tilled soil and waiting – just waiting.

Every year they came and every year their presence caused a stirring in her heart. She felt right again. She felt needed.

She painted pictures of them as they fed in the field, she sketched their flight and sometimes she just smiled. She listened to their cries and more than once she was sure they called her name.

The geese swept in formation over her house and bestowed upon her a victory wave as she lay in bed, grasping her bedcover whilst looking from her window.

On the morning that she never woke again, the geese prepared themselves to take to the skies; to head home and to carry another soul to that resting place in the far, far north.

They had got what they had come for.




To Sheila, Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Still by Bobby Stevenson



                                                             hidden face in lake illusion



I

Still love you
Though
It’s been a
Long time, it’s been  a
Lifetime of

Living without you.
Our secret moments scar the
Visions I have of anyone
Else.

You were everything –  a
Once chance meeting in this lonely
Universe.


Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Gardens of Happiness by Bobby Stevenson


 
It was a blue-cold winter’s day and another poor soul was lying dead at the bottom of the Hungerford Stairs.

The boy was just standing there staring at the corpse. 


That was the first time I ever clapped eyes on the little urchin. He was surely no more than twelve years of age at the time and making him a year or so older than me.


I will always remember his eyes, for in those eyes was the story of a child who had been rattled by his life thus far. 


He became my friend and my companion and not a day went by in those glorious few months of the winter of 1824 into the spring of 1825 that I was not spending time in his company. We were the best of friends.


On that day that I write of, I had only, a few moments earlier, sneaked out of my kindly Uncle Bertie’s haberdashery store on Charing Cross Road. I had been instructed to ‘remove the snow from the entrance’ for the tenth time that particular day:

“And, Sam, for pity’s sake don’t bring upset to any of my customers” 


Perhaps I should introduce myself before we go further dear readers, my name is Sam Weller. I was born and raised in Bermondsey, London and due to my lack of schooling I was sent off with unnatural haste to work with my uncle. 


“Goodness knows young Sam Weller will never amount to much, but he must acquire a trade.” 


I was now in my second year of such an endeavour. I neither begged nor looked for sympathy because the way I considered it, it left an individual free to take upon everything that life had to offer. For surely not everyone in this life who reads a book is a gentleman? Just as not every uneducated child is an idiot. Because, dear reader, as you can appreciate, I had learned much in my short life. 


But I digress - such a disagreeable trait - but that is the making of my heart, I am afraid to say.


The poor man whose body lay at the bottom of the Hungerford steps had expired in the black of night having succumbed to the freezing air, one shouldn’t wonder. There were many similar finds in a winter of such magnitude. Each day the snow came faster and thicker and I would secrete myself to that part of the Thames hoping to discover some gruesome find. I was rarely disappointed. 


That day was the first I remember seeing Charlie. He stood at the top of the stairs promoting such an unhappy account of himself that I thought he too would expire at any moment. Happily for the world, it was not to be.

My inquisitiveness drove me to question the lad. Had he seen the man die? Did he know the man in question? Was he working in this part of the river? 


My final question did raise a look from the lad. Yes, he was indeed working next to the Hungerford steps at Warren’s blacking warehouse. The boy said those words with so much sadness that it was all I could do not to offer him a smile there and then.  


“My name is Charlie and I work at the blacking warehouse in order to free my father from the Marshalsea.”


“The debtor’s work house?” I clumsily enquired.


“Indeed.”


It seemed, from what I could glean from the lad, that his whole family was currently living in the Marshalsea with only the boy himself living outside the premises, in the area of Camden. 


I just knew there and then that we would become great friends and indeed it came to pass.

As the winter grew colder and sterner, Charlie and I would spend a few quiet minutes in the grounds behind my uncle’s haberdashery.


Although the gardens were only truly for the customers to gaze upon, it had been kept in the most wonderful of conditions by my aunt’s gardener, Mister Wilkins Micawber.  Both Charlie and he seemed to take to one another and would spend time discussing their interests in gardening. 


Charlie loved being in that place and when he was older, he wrote to me the most wonderful letter describing it as the ‘gardens of happiness in a woeful forest’.


His life was a miserable existence at that juncture and he much appreciated the merest time spent away from Fagin - the ogre who ruled over the warehouse with an iron fist.


My cousin David Copperfield joined us one day prior to Christmas and both he and Charlie laughed so hard that they made themselves cry.


I will always remember the man on the other side of the high garden wall, a Mister Pickwick. In all those weeks we never saw his face and yet he would entertain us with stories of derring-do, of adventures in battles and ghosts at Christmas.


Every shoe that Charlie blackened that winter was a step nearer the door and freedom for his dear papa. The little freedom of his own that he tasted in my company and in my uncle’s garden seemed to raise the gloom that sat so easily on his young shoulders.


When the winter melted away to spring so, sadly, did our friendship. 


I will always remember the boy who grew to become one of the world’s greatest writers and I am proud to say that he was my friend. When I read his Pickwick Papers and saw that the happiest character was named Sam Weller, after me, I shed a tear.


Just as I do today, all those years later. They buried my childhood friend this morning at Westminster Abbey in the quietness he would have wished for.


When a flower requires to grow from a seedling into a beautiful form, it needs the frosts and snows of winter and, in his way, so did Charles.


So do we all.













written for jottify.com - 1000 words on the theme of winter.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Can't Stop This Gun From Crying by Bobby Stevenson



It had been welcomed by the scientific community as a life saver, as the next step in metal technology and a new generation of those shining babies was about to be unleashed on the world.

The team that had developed the idea at Los Alma had received the Nobel Prize that year and were ready to be courted by every large manufacturing company.

They had no need to worry where their next research dollar was coming from, indeed none of the team had any need to work for the rest of their lives. 

The principal was simple although the actual practical solution had taken decades of research: 
A material that repaired itself

You see it wasn’t so terrible when you put it down on a piece of paper like that. It seemed so innocent, beneficial almost.

The plan was that one day, aircraft while in flight could self-medicate, a nut or a bolt here would be re-grown and replaced. However that was still some way off and the actual exposure of the general public to SeRep (Self Repair), as it was christened, was minimal.

It was planned that cars too would have the ability to repair themselves - although there had been several showdowns at government level between the makers of the materials and the car manufacturers. The way things were looking, it meant that after you purchased a new car, and with a good headwind, it could last you a lifetime (and the rest). 

As you can imagine, the automobile industry was readying for a fight - big time. 

The first public structure to be made of SeRep was a bridge in Illinois, chosen by some wise guy at Los Alma who had stuck a pin in a map of the Ohio river. 

A Bridge had been selected as a structure that could suffer wear and tear, be exposed to public use and certainly be enhanced safety-wise by the use of the new material. 

The Tamaroa bridge was the one chosen and it crossed the Ohio at the southernmost tip of Illinois. 

As with all great ideas there were teething problems. The material, for instance, had to be guarded because of theft. The ‘bridgits’ as they became known would hack off a piece of SeRep meaning the bridge would have to repair and replace and then they'd sell it (or at least try to) on the 'Net.

Sometimes the material that had been stolen was so large that the bridge displayed a permanent scar. Just like human skin. 

At night when there was less traffic going over the bridge (that’s not to say it was totally quiet as people came from all over to see the wonder – day and night), but at night when the bridge was repairing itself it sounded like a muffled cry and this caused the bridge to be nicknamed the Bridge of Sighs. It almost sounded like a child in pain.

There had been the odd accident, the biggest of which was the General Custer, a tourist boat hired by some big corporation, packed with sweaty, drunk salespersons on a free trip to see the Bridge.

At the inquiry it had been shown that the Captain had been more than a little drunk and had almost destroyed the bridge supports on the Illinois bank. The damage was so severe that the SeRep guys decided to give the bridge a helping hand and assisted in the repairs. 

Yet anytime the bridge was left alone it would still continue to do the work it had been created for and it could always be heard to sigh. 

Janus Jones was a mid western boy straight out of college and about to set off for the Florida panhandle in a car his Pappy had bought him. The present was not for finishing school but for staying out of jail unlike Kevin, his older brother. Janus could have flown pretty cheaply but he wanted to follow the Mississippi all the way south and then cut across to Tallahassee. 

So it was a surprise when he found Kevin loading a bag into his new car on the morning of his trip.
“Coming with you Bro’. No arguments, I got nothing from Paw but aggravation and you get this brand spanking new car – so the least you can do is take me as far a New Orleans.”
Then Kevin jumped in the car.

And so the two Jones brothers (you’d have sworn they’d had different fathers) set off on a trip that would shake their worlds forever. 

At the trial Kevin, although missing most of his left arm, was still able to act as a credible witness. The way he told things it was as if the brothers had been the innocent victims. That wasn't totally true.

Just before the incident Kevin had driven for several hours south which had let Janus sleep, although with Kevin at the wheel Janus tended not to sleep too soundly. They’d stopped at the very last bar in Illinois going south to allow Kevin a few beers, Janus drank cola and several of the witnesses had told the court that Kevin had forced Janus to stay, and that Kevin had drank too many beers. That was just Kevin. 

As they left the car lot, instead of Janus driving, Kevin jumped into the driver’s seat and was beginning to move off. Janus had no choice but to jump in over the rear of the car. Chances are Kevin would have left him for cold, just standing there and let him make his own way home – Kevin had done it before.
“Where you at?”
Kevin ignored Janus and continued down the narrow road.
“This ain’t the way.”
“Tis, if you’re going to the Tamaroa. I wanna see the magic bridge.” 

The traffic started slowing about a mile from the bridge as there was a queue of cars taking their time crossing. At one point, due to the weight of cars on the bridge and regardless of its properties, the cops had stopped the cars coming north, to allow the south bound queue to clear. 

As Kevin approached the bridge he swerved over to the left hand lane and drove down the wrong side. Some of the cops started giving chase on foot but Kevin put his foot on the accelerator and then started hollering and whooping. 
“Yee-haa, little bro’, yee-haa. Let’s just see how good this thing is at rebuilding.”

Kevin drove the car so close to the edge that sparks flew from the girders. Janus’ new car was badly damaged down that side. Not satisfied with this, Kevin started to run the car into the supports causing them to buckle and bend. 

It was just as Kevin was ready to inflict a fatal blow on the bridge that the road beneath them opened up and Janus, Kevin and the car plummeted to the river below.

The cars behind, seeing what had just happened, had managed to swerve around the hole. Kevin swam to shore leaving Janus to sink with his new car. The older boy was way too drunk to try any heroics and was probably lucky just to save himself. 

Janus’ father grieved for his good son and wasn’t going to let something like the Bridge of Sighs or its owners or the Los Alma scientists get away with their responsibilities and so he took them all to court.
I guess it would be more accurate to say he put the bridge on trial. Janus’ father claimed that the bridge had opened up the road to dump the car in the river in order to protect itself.

The newspapers had a field day – ‘The Bridge that kills’ 

What the father attempted to prove in court was that the bridge, or at least the material, was self-aware and that it had made a positive decision to break a hole in the road in order to rid itself of an irritant. 

Of course the court over-ruled the claim and declared the accident as death by misadventure. Whatever was fully known was never put in the public domain, the bridge manufacturers were ordered to dismantle the structure and the material SeRep was banned from use in any public construction. 

It wasn’t the end of SeRep however, the armies of NATO built tanks and weapons from the material. They’re using them at this very moment in the wars out east. 

I hear tell that the soldiers talk of the weapons that cry in the night.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

To Fill a Human Heart by Bobby Stevenson



To fill a human soul,
Takes strength and smiles,
To fill a human head,
Takes wisdom and time,
To fill a human life,
Takes courage and hope,
But to fill a human heart,
Takes love,
Takes love.

To fill a lifetime lived,
Takes all that we have,
To fill a child with hope,
Take kindness and patience,
To fill a lover’s dreams,
Take selfless devotion,
But to fill a human heart,
Takes everything.

LAHTI by Bobby Stevenson

Written for a competition - 900 words exactly and the title of a European City.

 

The Midnight sun seared the ice-cracked streets.

He sat drinking a Finnish beer and watching the old vintage cars making their umpteenth circuit of the same block. That’s what people did up here, work all winter on old American cars, making them look fine and dandy and then come the summer, drive them proudly through Lahti’s city centre.

To live at the edge of the world made you a different creature from the rest, it made you harder, more observant, more ready to indulge, more patient, more sorrowful.

There is a sliver of sorrow that punctures all of life up here and leaves the heart wide open. The difficult language sets the Finns apart from the others. They are proud of its complexity and its differences.

He was lonely but then who wouldn’t be up here? Scandinavia was the mother-lode of loneliness; they mined the stuff in the hills and shipped it to the world. 

He checked his pockets and found he’d spent the money he’d taken from the room, so he managed to steal a lonely beer from the table opposite. 

It was three twenty-five am and he’d almost forgotten the time such was the light blue sky. Like a summer’s day in London. He’d almost forgotten a lot of things but they always bubbled their way back to the surface of his thoughts. 

He’d been living at the Hotelii Helsinki for nearly five months now and was starting to call it home. In that lay a danger, Finland was not home but then neither was anywhere else. 

He just wished, right at that precise moment, that the world would just stop, maybe for an hour or two so that he could think of what to do next. But it never did, it just kept going, it kept catching up with him and he was afraid. 

When had he first met her? In the street? No. At the dance? Probably the dance, it was the most obvious place. You couldn’t say she wasn’t attractive with her fine blonde hair and those cheekbones; God, those cheek bones that were borrowed from an angel. 

In any other society she would have been fighting them off but not here. Here, she had to travel over forty kilometres to attend the dance. Was ‘a dance’ the right words? It really didn’t do it justice. This was a gathering, a social event, a news swapping forum and a pickup joint. 

They were mostly farmers, foresters and their families and each Saturday, every Saturday they travelled vast distances to meet at the Traffic Light Saturday Dance. 

Every weekend he’d sit in the Reception Hall of the hotel watching them arrive. Faces that had been ground down by the wind over the years, faces that sat on top of bodies all decked out in fancy sports clothing. Not the real designer gear of course but cheap copies probably bought from a travelling Russian.

All of them happy and drunk, the same way a Titanic passenger would have been happy and drunk. There was a forced camaraderie about them all, perhaps due to the fact these were the first humans they had felt heat from all week.

There were never any pretty ones - was that because they had left the backwoods to trade in on their looks? Or because the midnight sun eventually stole the pretty faces? 

Sometimes he would ride up in the elevator with them, not that he understood their language but just so that he could feel the heat of another. 

They would all fall out at the same floor and he would be left with only the smell of booze, cheap scent and himself; and the coldness. 

There were only two modes to living in the north: Dark and Light. Several months of twenty four hour darkness brought a resignation to nature, then it brought the ghosts – the dark thoughts that usually inhabited the night and were gone in the morning - were not washed away up here by the light of day. The dark thoughts persisted. 

Then came the bleaching of the constant daylight, there were no contrasts, no shaded area to take shelter, and the ghosts persisted in the sunshine. He thought that funny, that once the ghosts came they came to stay.

The Traffic light stood in the middle of the dance floor, when it was green the man could ask the woman to dance. When it was at red, the woman could either sit a dance out or ask the man. 

There was no doubting it, she was very pretty.

She had asked him to dance and then he had asked her. Her English was as bad as his Finnish, so they signed to each other then they kissed. The universal kiss, there was no doubting that. 

What he hadn’t expected was to find her gone when he awoke. The pillow was still smelling of her scent and still warm from her heat. 

The bed was growing cold again and sunlight burned through the curtains. 

It would be another week, another seven days of living until he felt her body next to him again, to feel that heat again. 

He understood them now and he understood their dances. There was a need in all of us to feel the warmth of others. 

So he turned away from the light and wept.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Bow Wave by Bobby Stevenson



There was a time, maybe it was ‘once upon’, I’m not too sure but I know it was when I was young and the world was new.

I dreamed of building a sailing vessel that would take me to some unknown land where I could tell my stories and be happy.

Throughout the years I built the vessel on dreams, on hopes, on tears, on lost time, and on the way the world should have been,and could have been, but mostly on hope.

Then the day came when the vessel was ready to sail.

There were many at the quayside that day. There were those who wished me well and many more who told me to stay where I was and there were those who didn’t care.

As I left the quay I knew it would be a long time before I spied land again.

It didn’t take me long to realise the mistakes I had made. I had been given maps by others who had noted the areas of ‘troubled waters’ and ‘here be monsters’ but it was their troubles and it was their monsters. So I threw the maps overboard.

By the third day the ship had barely made any headway and then I realised that the bow wave was slowing me down and washing aside everything in its wake.

I had to lighten the load and so I looked to the cargo. One trunk was marked ‘fears’, so I threw that over, as I did with the boxes marked ‘jealousy’ and ‘anger’.

The ship rose in the water slowly and the bow wave became smaller. I was sailing faster.

The final box, the heaviest, was Pandora’s and full of everything I thought of in the night, all my woes.
Over it went and the bow wave vanished.

As I looked back, I could see those on the shore still shouting that I was heading for the edge of the world, that no one could sail on a boat made of hope.

Do you know what I did?

I just gave a Bow and a Wave and
sailed on.