Little Piggie

 

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Little piggie with a knife

Little piggy dripping blood

Little piggie takes a life

Little piggie understood

 

Laughing masked man in the dark

Screaming music like a lark

Drawn across a bed of nails

Dripping fear and screaming wails

 

Little piggie bringing death

Little piggie’s sacred space

Even with your dying breath

Tasting sweet forsaken grace

 

This last vision in your head

Leering wish to see you dead

Crush your spine just like a twig

Dark the victory of pigs

 

© Helen M Valentina 2021

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The Skull

 

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My family have a gift. Every one of us was born with it. The prescience, the sense of death or disaster coming. Like a little tribe of Cassandras, it’s not a pleasant offering, and we quickly learned not to tell the truth we saw. But still, we saw.

I experienced it first when my grandmother died.  The night before I was finding it hard to sleep. Something restless susserated in the air above me, calling for my attention, till finally I turned and looked up, lying on my back, defying the night’s blackness. And then I saw it, clear as day. The skull.

It materialised out of shadows and what looked like smoke, high above me in the air. I knew what it meant. I’d learned this at my grandmother’s knee, when I was first old enough to really understand the story. So I guess it was fitting it came first to tell me my beloved grandma was about to go.

It didn’t speak. It didn’t say what it presaged. It’s never that distinct, never that clear.  My mother said oracles never are. They are always vague, and you only ever understand them in retrospect.

So they’re useless really, except to make you scared.

I wasn’t scared of the skull, only of what it meant.  Days later at my grandma’s funeral, I wept. I prayed I’d never see the skull again.

But you might as well wish away the moon. People die, all the time. And it doesn’t only come for our family. Sometimes it signals something awful.  The night of September 10, 2001, every one of my family saw the skull. The next day, the world mourned the death brought by airplanes in the bright lit air.

I saw it last night. I’m now quite old, but it never shows itself to the one who is going, only those who will mourn.  So it isn’t for me. I’m frightened, because my niece is sick. So I’m praying it’s someone else, something else. Terrible, I suppose, to wish a curse pass by your door and settle on other. But I’m human, and this gift makes no saint of me.

So I pray.

© Helen M Valentina 2020

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Red Queen

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White as white as white

With blood red stains to tell their tale

The pomp and circumstance

The wailing, wretched, dark trevail

 

The red queen comes

And by the pricking

Of childish thumbs

We hear the thunder and the drums

As the red queen comes

 

Black as black as black

A sacred heart is bleeding out

A bloodied crown of thorns

Replaces abject faith with doubt

 

The red queen cries

And innocence

With all hopes dies

We’re steeped in treachery and lies

As the red queen cries

 

Red as red as red

The clicking of the shears that rend

And not a soul is saved

For all the pennies that we spend

 

The red queen stands

In words that all

Can understand

And none among us can withstand

Her dread demands

© Helen M Valentina 2020

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The Scarecrow

 

Lilly always said the scarecrow was her friend.  The rest of us kids didn’t like it. We wouldn’t admit it, but we found the ugly monstrosity really scary. Kids never admit they’re afraid, but they usually are. Of thigs that go bump in the night, or lights out, or some godawful half human/half stuffing thing staring down at you out in the field.

But not Lilly. She loved the scarecrow. She named him Jim, after some cousin of hers she’s seen in photos but never met. Her family moved out here about a decade ago, before Lilly was born. Leaving everything behind. Some said they were running from something. I always thought they seemed more like they were running towards something – us, our community, the farm.

I don’t know. Just seemed that way to me when I was ten. Not sure how it would seem now. But that was so long ago.

She said Jim, her cousin, died that summer when she really took to the scarecrow.  She’d swear blind that Jim was there, in the stuffed thing. She said he had nowhere else to go and no-one else to love but her. A she said sometimes he’d even come out of the field to talk with her. Because he was lonely.

I think Lilly just wanted someone to love.  Her family were strange. Real, real cold. They never mixed, never came to church, and little Lilly used to run away all the time to the fields to see Jim. I think she was lonely. Hell, I’d have been lonely living in her house, with her family.

Then Lilly said she was going away with Jim. They’d decided to run away together. What a fanciful girl, I thought. I laughed at her. I guess most of us kids laughed at her. Most of the time.  Lilly didn’t care. She was quite sure of it.

Then one day I saw her in the field, near the scarecrow, and she wasn’t alone. Some man was with her, head bowed, leaning over to talk to her. The scarecrow looked thinner somehow, like the man had jumped out of it. Stupid I know.

I should have gone to check. Lilly disappeared that day -I guess with the man.  It’s scary to think. I tried to comfort myself that the scarecrow looked smaller, like Jim really did jump right out of it to ran away with her. My childish self did kind of believe that.

But now I’m grown. And scarecrows don’t turn into people, do they? I mean, there’s darker and more realistic versions of this story. 

Still, whenever I visit the field I check to see the scarecrow still looks thin and bedraggled – more so than always. Because at least then, I can hope….

© Helen M Valentina 2020

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Full Six Feet Deep

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Full six feet deep we sleep

The canopy of stars and clouds may weep

Across the centuries we sweep

Our secrets and our lies to keep

Full six feet deep we sleep

 

Full six feet deep we lie

Our wars and all our death decry

Till we may meet here by and by

So still, we simply moan and sigh

Full six feet deep we lie

 

Full six feet death remain

The wind will whisper sweet refrain

As though we’ve something to explain

Bu even on this darkling plain

Full six feet deep remain

 

Full six feet deep we sleep

And dream that in the stars we leap

No valley low, no mountain steep

As though our promises to keep

Still, six feet deep we sleep

 

© Helen M Valentina 2020

 

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Man In Shadows

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Man in shadows in the rain
Face is hidden from your sight
You might wish he would remain
Or on seeing him take flight
He’s like death
And on his breath
A promise sparkles bright

In the rain such shadows cast
Images your mind reveals
Prisoners held against the mast
You can tell them how it feels
Promise made
Is yet betrayed
With every breath he steals

Man in shadows hides his smile
Softest voice caress your ears
He’s been waiting quite a while
Just to draw you ever near
He’s a curse
And what is worse
The one you never feared

(c). Helen M Valentina 2020

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Purple Princess

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Purple princess of the dawn
From the flesh your beauty torn
From the air your whirling mind
You’re a creature of their kind
Half like us and half insane
Beauty saturates and stains
Till nothing else remains

Purple princess of the night
Red and raw your hunger aches
Dark and drenched the blood you crave
Innocence becomes depraved
Half of dark and half of light
Perfect bounty in our sight
Eyes that weep and teeth that bite

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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The Hands

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The last thing I saw was the hands.

I’m the only witness, the only one left behind after the picnic. The one who wandered off, following butterflies into the forest in the other direction, only roused to return when I heard the screams.

Didn’t see what got them. I didn’t get there soon enough and something tells me that was for the best. For me anyway. Something whispers in my bones that if I’d got back quicker I’d have gone too.

Where my friends went I have no idea. I didn’t see a world open, or a flash of light, or them being drawn into some form of whirlpool or warp in the fabric of the air. All I saw was the hands. Still grasping that one tree, holding on, as though that could keep them here, with me, with us, not let them go…there.

Wherever there is…but it was just the hands, and only for a few mere seconds. Grasping, desperate, disembodied.

Before they were gone. They were gone too.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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Re-Membering

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They call it re-membering. The process makers have a kind of dry sense of humour. It’s actually the head that comes first, to bring back the seat of the soul, and the sensory apparatus, but that’s cruel really, as then every bit of re-configuration, re-being, re-membering (literally) is painful, conscious, aware and slow. Horribly slow.

So the joke is, the members – be it arms, legs, or other more personal things – come last, and it’s excruciating.

They don’t tell you that in the pamphlets, the brochures. They only say, if you get a disease we can’t cure yet we ‘dissolve’ your essence and hold it in statis until we can cure, then we bring you back. They don’t say how. I reckon if they did, most would just choose to die by the illness.

But perhaps that’s just me.

I know because I’m a nurse here. I’ve see one too many re-memberings to ever take that course myself. But I still I smile and speak softly and never tell the truth when we are drawing in the clients. And those that come back keep quiet because we can always dissolve them again remotely if they threaten to tell too much – having done it once, they’re ours.

We make sure they know it. Oh yes, we are much more informative on the other side of all of this. Before – ignorance is bliss, but after the re-membering, silence is truly golden.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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Crows Fly at Night

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Crows fly at night
Dawn wakens bright
Red with blood and death
As we lay the wreath
Perfect in our sight

Crows sing at dawn
New world is born
Red with death and blood
Ushers in a god
Heaven plundered, torn

Crows soon depart
Broken like hearts
Red with blood and loss
Each must pay the cost
Promised at the start

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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