Battery Hens


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Back in the day I felt sorry for battery hens. Didn’t we all? Caged up, cooped up, there only to live then die then feed others. Feed us? Barely able to move, stuck in the seeming eternity of waiting until the real eternity of the end.

But like most of my sympathies, if I was honest, it was a thing apart from me. A musing or a faux outrage designed to virtue signal when I shared a meal with a friend I wanted to become more than a friend. Or a post on twitter, designed to gather likes and follows, costing me nothing but a few seconds of my time.

For hens were lesser beings. Inside, that is what I believed. We all believed that – let’s be honest. Even those who didn’t eat them, in their heart of hearts, saw them only as lesser forms they were protecting.

I didn’t know back then there were already other forms of entrapment, encagement, that weren’t designed just for hens. Back then, it was hidden, a delicacy known only by the ‘elite’. The menu, had we seen it, would have seemed an obscene joke – unable to be believed. What to make of adrenalized baby blood, heightened by trauma and fear, or the spinal fluid of young and vital ‘donors’? Or human flesh, prepared by the finest chefs?

It couldn’t be real, could it? No-one could consume that. No-one could become addicted to it. No-one could come to need it just to survive.

But they could, and in time we came to learn the harsher truth. It isn’t only between species that hierarchies exist. When they finally ‘came out of the closet’, the cannibals ruled. They’d spent centuries building their wealth and power, on the blackmail and blood of others. And they’d showed us all the time, in movies and stories, of their design.

They said that made it our fault. We were complicit. It ‘entertained’ us. It fed them. We were the true dissolute, enjoying it vicariously. And they – they the virtuous – only did it because it was necessary to live.

That proved – did it not – that they truly were the elite?

Now, we’ve been rounded up and live in tiny cells, squashed together, counting the days of our youth as markers of the final end. I’m not that young anymore. I’m not that fit. Eventually it is the abattoir for me I suppose.

And I will welcome it. For the freedom from captivity. For the end the pain. And for finally, finally, ceasing to be just another battery hen.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Tell us all you know
Sacred crow
We have brought you blood
All that is required
In the fire
Tell us what you know
Sacred crow

Darkness is an art
In our hearts
Power for the true
Comes through you
Psychpomp you fly
Through the sky
Darkness is an art
In our hearts

Speak now if you will
Guide us still
Flying on your wing
Hell may sing
Each and every day
We will pray
Speak now if you will
Guide us still

Tell us all you know
Ancient crow
Eons you have lived
None forgived
Judgement by your name
Fans the flame
Tell us all you know
Ancient crow

(c. ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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The priestesses haunt my dreams. they always have, even when I was a child.

I do not know when I first saw them, when my parents first took me to a ritual, it is too long ago to recall. I only know that they feel like the one constant in my life, returning every sacred night, in their terrible, fearful glory.

I know them as silence. I know them as masked faces. I understand perhaps I mix with them in the day to day, never knowing it is their faces behind the solemn purity of the masks. It is not mine to know who or why. Not now, and perhaps never.

That depends, that depends on how I learn and how I behave. It is all up to me they say.

I must come to love blood, and the redness of pain. I must learn to give this and receive. I must understand that death is just passageway, and that life is an energy to be transferred for the higher purification of the all.

They teach me, they teach me. And they are kind in their terrifying terribleness.

So I dream of them, every night. They are my guarding angels, fallen from the light, beckoning me to join them.

One dream I transgressed and reached and took off one mask, only to see my own face looking back at me. It is this, in the end, that gives me hope. That allows me to think one day I will be a priestess too, and have passed all my awful trials. Hope that I am, as they call me sometimes, a little Cassandra, a prophet in her time.

Hope that indeed, dreams come true.

(c. ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Mommy disappeared into the portal on Saturday.

Daddy said he thought she didn’t mean too, but she did anyway. Mommy often did things she didn’t really mean to, it was one of her things.

One of Daddy ‘s things was to shake his head and gently laugh at her. It was a good feeling when he did that because it kind of made you sense it was ok to do things wrong, or just the way you wanted, and ‘damn everyone else to hell’ as he would say. It made you feel safe.

But Mommy’s thing this time didn’t make him laugh or gently chide. And it didn’t make us feel safe. The portals opened up too often now, and when people were gone they were just gone.

I asked Daddy if Mommy had died. It seemed kind of like what the preacher says about souls ascending to heaven. Daddy said he didn’t know but he didn’t think so. Maybe there was life on the other side.

But then he shuddered, like that thought was worse. Maybe heaven is better than lots of other types of life. Or maybe he just worried because he didn’t know.

Later I heard him weeping. I didn’t understand the sound at first because he’d never cried. Then I remembered my own tears when I fell and hurt myself, or that time that the other kids at school picked on me and made me run away. But I couldn’t understand Daddy crying. I only knew it was that damn portal and Mommy being gone.

So when I saw the new portal open today I knew what to do. I knew what my thing was. The thing no-one else did or would have approved of, but damn them all to hell.

I had to go through and bring Mommy back.

So I’m standing right beneath it now, just as Mommy did. And I can see Daddy in the distance running towards me, but I’m shouting above the portal noise that it’s ok. It’s so loud though, so I don’t know if he hears me. I just hope he does.

And I’m hoping that as it takes me I hear his gentle laugh again too, when he understands what I’m doing, and that it’s all ok.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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My Story


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Everyone has a story so they say
And this may be as it is
But be that as it may
It does not follow here
That any need agree
Another’s point of view
Means anything to me
Or that I need give others
The time of day

We once pretended that we cared outside
The worries of our souls
And no-one was denied
But now these many years
Isolated and online
No mere humanity
Has lasted through this time
We’re only groups of memes
And wretched pride

So if I have a story I’ll deny
The telling of it now
For now I needn’t try
You wouldn’t give a damn
No more than I would too
If you were now to ask
That I listen to you
For any attention now
Is just a lie

(c ) Helen M Valentina

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I’ve heard that in ancient times identity counted for something. Drones in the hive sometimes speak of it, the concept of individual thought or action, not aligned to the collective goal.

It sounds a quaint concept at times, like an errant child running free. And other times it sounds frightening, each little soul struggling to mean something in a vast, roiling mess of divided humanity.

I try not to think too much on this, for it diverts my attention from our common goals, and I sense it sends ripples of agitation through those closest to me. In fact I fear at times that even dwelling on such thoughts opens me to the accusation of the greatest of crimes – true thought.

We must avoid this at all times, it vexes a soul that is united and it disturbs the carefully calibrated universe. If it happens too often we have heard, it signals a breakdown in the flow, and the aberrant form responsible must be removed.

I do not want that to happen to me. But at times I have this strange drawing sense to wonder of the past. I understand it all, as I am supposed to do, as cautionary tales, and ones best left to contemplation back in school days when we learn our allocated duties and responsibilities. And why things must be always as they are.

But still…

So a creeping fear rises each day now when I open my eyes to the scan for my check up. I wonder if something of this distraction flickers like an accusatory flame in my iris. So far it has not been so. So far, so good.

But still….

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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What do I spy
With my little eye?
The food on my table
The day that you die

What do I see
Running from me?
A sheer delicacy
Waiting to flee

Reptilian cold
I am so old
Your fortune told
Your soul is sold

Taking my due
Waiting for you
Nought you can do
I’m seeing you

What do I spy
With my little eye?
The food on my table
The day that you die

(c. ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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We Didn’t Notice


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We didn’t notice
When things got real
We’d forgotten truth
Or how to feel
Just watching movies on
An endless reel

I heard them laugh
Though little knew
It wasn’t a movie
They came leaking through
And by that time
There was nothing to do

Our minds had been numbed
To what we might fear
We didn’t yet see
The threat was so near
We didn’t understand
They could come here

We didn’t know then
The way they could creep
Out of the screen
That put us to sleep
Now we gnash bones
Bleed, scream and weep

We didn’t notice
When things got real
We’d forgotten truth
Or how to feel
Just watching movies on
An endless reel

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Do you believe in magic?

My mother did. I think she practised it. She never admitted as such, but I knew about her books. She kept them with candles and incense and other things I didn’t recognise – and probably didn’t want to recognise – in our basement.

And sometimes she’d go down there alone for long hours and lock the door behind her. She didn’t really need to do that. We wouldn’t have followed. Me and my sister were too scared, and my father didn’t want his sports watching time disturbed. But she locked the doors anyway.

You might think I’m imagining it all. Perhaps she just did that to make us want to stay away so she could have some peace and quiet. She often would say that, actually.

“What I would give for some peace and quiet!” she would lament, usually when we were playing up or dad had his friends over for the footy games on tv.

And it could be so, but then things started happening. The tv died and even when our father replaced it the same thing would happen, over and over. He got though five tvs before he gave up.

“Damned electric wiring” he would complain, till eventually he decided to visit his friends to watch the game rather than bothering with ‘electrics’.

Then my sister won a scholarship and moved away. I didn’t mind that really, though I missed her a bit.

But that just left me, and I tended to be the noisier one of the two. I liked to play act and sing, and my mother would hold her forehead and complain about her migraines, and go down to the basement.

Then one winter I caught the flu .A really bad flu and I lost my voice.

And so what you might say, that happens from time to time. But see, I never got my voice back. It never returned.

Now our house is very quiet and my mother seems very content. She doesn’t go down to the basement much anymore either. She put sits by the windows, looking out, like a contented domestic cat who got the cream. And I creep around the house, voiceless and wanting to be as quiet as I can be.

So now do you believe in magic?

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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When I was young my father once took me to see an old train which was kept as a kind of historic relic at the train yard.

In those days that sort of trip was exciting, because my father was rarely at home or able to spend time with me. He was a travelling salesman, always on the road.

“Come see a train, son,” he said. “Like ones I might have travelled on for my job if we lived about a century ago.”

And so I went with him, eager to see what he saw in such history. I wanted to be like him back then. Perhaps I still do.

All I know is I miss him, and it all goes back to then, that day. Because after that it wasn’t his job that kept him away.

The train itself at first just seemed old and run down. He told me about how beautiful it would have been, back in the day. How wealthy clients would sit in first class and drink fine wine while it took them to places unseen and destinations dreamed of, all through the glorious night. And because he was a fine salesman and an even finer storyteller, he made it sound magical.

Perhaps it was.

For as he spoke it did seem to shimmer somehow, and for a few brief moments I literally saw it transformed. I saw the carriage and the rich elite. I saw them enjoying the beauty of the night. I saw them so alive, even though it was so long ago. And I think my father did too, for his glorious voice stopped talking for a moment and we just witnessed the past come to life.

We saw it all. But you see, they saw us too. or my father at least. I saw one woman in particular turn and see my father, and he was a handsome man and she looked like a lonely woman. And she beckoned to him in a coquettish manner that was wrong for her age for she was a bit too old for that. And a bit too old for my dad.

But that didn’t matter. He stepped towards her, like he was hypnotised, and the world shuddered and then they were gone. And he was gone with them.

I ran through the carriages, calling for him for what seemed like hours. I tried to tell his stories to the air to call them back, to call him back. But I was my father’s son and not my father, and I didn’t have his skill.

I finally fell to my knees crying for a loss I could barely comprehend. This damnable train and its damnable woman. Too late, too late. He was gone.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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