Black Cat


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Black cat watching
Deep in the night
Spring out one moment
Kill us with fright
Black cat purring
Stalking its prey
Who will survive till
Sweet break of day?

Black cat omen
Witches and spells
All of your secrets
Nobody tells
Black cat fortunes
Tricksters and lies
By the morning
Which of us dies?

© Helen M Valentina 2019


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Night Stalker


Image credit: Illkin Zeferli/

He was a night stalker. Her night stalker.

He came in the dark of the night, pitch black like his heart, a shadowy form at one with the shadowy realms.

He never touched her, just watched her sleep. There was a kind of strange, distorted tenderness to it perhaps. A vigil, watching over her. But then, who knew what might have happened if she had woken and had seen him there. Would he be protector then, or the one she needed protection from?

It never came to that. He was quiet and careful. He imbued his very essence in the house so that during the day she would sometimes startle at something, and turn around quickly, expecting to see something or someone. But there was nothing, just the invisible imprint of his nightly visits, speaking to her unconscious in a language she could not understand.

This lasted years and never changed. She changed, she grew, she lived her life. But the nights were the same, and belonged to him.

Until one night, for no apparent reason, he did not come. And then another night he was absent, and then another. Till eventually the house knew, at least, that he was gone.

Had passion died, or transferred its perverse obsession to another? Or had he died, or been force to leave town?

She never knew he was there in the first place, so of course could never know why he had gone. But something in the darkened hallways seemed to miss him from then on, their ghostly, ghastly visitor. And that sadness and loss seeped into her until she left the place, moved on, never really knowing why.

Leaving the house completely alone.

© Helen M Valentina 2019

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Image Credit: Ilkin Zeferli/

Don’t be a die-baby
Don’t make us die
Never a cry-baby
Only we cry
Over our heads
See how you fly
We’ll never catch you
We’ll never try

Dear little die-baby
Mercy is sweet
Don’t make us sigh, baby
Fall at your feet
Dear little demon
You know too well
We’re too afraid to
Fall down to hell

Please little die-baby
Don’t sing your song
Even on high, baby
You can’t belong
We’d much prefer
A sweet lullaby
Please little die-baby
Don’t make us die

© Helen M Valentina 2018

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The White Lady


Image Credit: Joe Therasakdhi/

After a while the people stopped visiting the house. It didn’t matter how grand the estate was, or what the purple prose of the advertising said.

‘Come see a place as close to Pemberley as you’d ever imagine’ they said to the literary minded. “Come see a place even the Kardashians would envy’ they said to those addicted to social media. ‘Come see a place where the elite would party’ they’d say to the socially ambitious.

And it all worked for a time. But only for a time.

Because they all started to see her. The White Lady.

And she wasn’t Lizzie Bennett, that’s for sure. Nor a selfie-obsessed starlet, nor an incipient mistress of the universe either. She was something else entirely.

Something that made you look away the moment you saw her to save your very eyes from burning in their sockets. Something that wailed and shrieked like a true banshee, making you stop up your ears and run. Something so clinging, so needy, you could almost feel her sepulchral touch from metres away, and you’d turn and run from such a ghostly embrace because you feared – no, you knew – your very life depended upon it.

They tried to just shut off the room she first appeared in, but she could travel through walls. They tried ghost hunters, but they ran away. They tried an exorcist, but he died of a heart attack in the middle of a failed ceremony.

They tried everything, but she just stayed, an imprint indelible on the house, unable to be removed.

Eventually the once hopeful owners tried to sell the house, but word had travelled too fast. They had their very own white elephant, in the guise of a manor house haunted by the White Lady.

I heard it bankrupted them, and that might have been enough. But no, she stayed.

They kept the house because they had to, right up to the day they both died. They died together – maybe naturally, maybe not. Either way, talk about a deceased estate!

I wonder if they’ve joined her now. It was their house too, after all. And if in the afterlife they can stand her company.

But I’m never going to go check! I mean really, would you?

© Helen M Valentina 2018

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Image Credit: Nomad_Soul/

She offered herself for the ritual. It was to be her twin sister, but she loved her sister too much. She said take me, and so they did.

She was a believer, she always spoke in mystical terms, and saw her life as a way station. So for her, this passage was maybe easier, even an honour.

She knew how it would be, how hard, how painful, how terrifying. We all knew. It was part of the doctrine. From the age of five we learned the litanies, the prayers to the dead, the offering verses. We knew what accompanied them.

We honoured the fallen, those that went before. So we would honour her. And her sister would live, and the world would turn another year, and the crops would be blessed, and by the time another ritual fell due her sister would be too old. So it would fall to another family of the faithful.

To know this was enough for her.

Her sister wept, she wailed, she argued that it should not be so, for she was first born of the two, and she loved her sister also. But the laws of the ritual were set in stone. One was chosen, and one could offer themselves instead, and once done, no further change could be allowed – even a return to the first chosen.

She had kept her plan to herself so her sister could not offer herself twice, negating the offer of another. This had happened once, many years before, a precaution taken from similarly sisterly love. So she kept still the tongue and pretended to be happy she was spared, and proud of her sister.

But she loved her sister, far too much. So she spoke when it was opportune, and now she goes to the ritual, never to return.

Blessed be her bravery. Blessed be the town. Blessed be us all.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018


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Image Credit: Chakrit Yenti/

This carousel makes you ride forever. It takes you somewhere else. It’s a portal, don’t you see? To a world of infinite games, infinite fun, infinite youth. That’s the sales pitch, anyway.

Parents who don’t want their children bring them here, if they have heard the stories. They pretend it is for the fun of their offspring, but it’s not that. The children are tiresome, bothersome, a drain on life, on liberty, on finances. A mistake – an idea that seemed good at first, a little family, until they saw the reality.

As my uncle Malcolm once said: “Raising a child costs as much as a high class sports car, or more. To be honest, I’d rather the car.”

Not long after that my nephew disappeared. Went for a ride, no doubt.

And so they come, on a whisper, not even allowing themselves to full believe, for in ignorance and doubt lies plausible deniability. How could they know they’d lose the children? Surely it was not possible? So how could they be blamed?

All a con, really, given so many left the fun fair childless and free. Eventually you’d have to say they knew. If they were honest.

But then, how honest is a parent likely to be that brings their child here? How would honesty matter to them if the child did not?

No-one knows where the children go. It may be to a better place. They would hardly be leaving an idyllic home if their parents brought them here I suppose. So it could be for their good, for the good of all.

But like most things we never know enough to wisely balance the pros and cons. I can see the benefit to the selfish parents – though I begrudge them any happiness in the act. I can’t see for the children, because the only way to do that would be to follow them. To get on the carousel and ride.

And my friends, curiosity be damned. There is no way in hell I am ever going to do that.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018


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Image Credit: che’ supajit/

I’ve got a secret
Shall I tell?
You think you’re in heaven
Welcome to hell

See me winking
Hear how I laugh?
I am the lord here
You’re the fatted calf

You think you matter
You think they might care
Your little birthday
No one is there

No-one but me
Holding your hand
Making sure you see this
That you understand

Parents indifferent
Worlds just for show
You think you see clearly
Only I know

I’ve got a secret
Shall I tell?
You think you’re in heaven
Welcome to hell

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Hallowed Grounds


Image credit: Garry Quinn/

They would come to worship in the depths of night, to these hallowed grounds.

The forest marked the edges of humanity and the realm of the divine seemed but a heartbeat away, bleeding into their world through little candle lights.

In hushed tones they prayed, prostrate on stone cold floors, willing the angels to descend from heaven, drawing them down. But the angels never came, not to such anodyne offerings.

And so in time they came to believe that more must be offered than just spiritual belief and fealty. The ancients knew what was needed, and now the modern world had forgotten.

The gods crave blood, they started to say, and angels must imbibe in this holy offering to rise, to fight, to bring the new world so yearned for, so needed.

Once said, it could not be unsaid or forgotten. It frightened them at first, and they prayed ever more earnestly, hoping to be wrong. But the church was silent and empty but for them, resolute in its demands.

“These are hallowed grounds” they finally admitted. “And they must be appeased.”

That’s when the children started to go missing from the town. Chosen carefully one might assume, given few that disappeared had attentive or caring parents. Most weren’t even noticed, not really. Few even had photos on milk cartons. Still, they disappeared. I noticed.

But when it started I was just a child, so I kept my silence, not wanting to disappear too. My parents cared for me and weren’t involved. They travelled from town to town with work, so we left soon enough. And that might have been an end of it for me, but I remembered. One of the missing was a friend. My best friend. And you don’t forget that.

So I have returned, all these years later, to these hallowed grounds. Life has toughened me, taught me, and I have now – as they say in the movies – a very particular, special set of skills.

And I don’t believe in gods or angels. But I do believe in children. And I do believe in truth.

And I know a time for reckoning has come.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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Image Credit: TeodorLazarev/

I am living entropy dissolving
Into the uncaring sky
Surrounded by the cacophony of lives lived unseeing
Floating dissolution, dislocation
Piece by piece
I am my father’s child
Loveless and alone
Barren and old now
Fulfilling the genetic blueprint
Set far before I was born
Before the world even breathed it knew
Its end came as aspirin in water
Falling apart

Nothing material can withstand the gravity of time
We are made to be obsolete
To struggle with the blindness
Of stupid hope and the sense of eternity
That foolish egos indulge
Forgetting time existed before us and will prevail
As we are dust to dust
Spread on an indifferent wind
Across the endless sky

They’ve all gone before me
My little distant family
Left without a word forgetting
The aberrant child they never loved
So be it, I am used to separation
So this dissolving is expected, even welcomed
Even though there is pain
They will not return again
Not for me
And so my only sister, brother
Mother, father, family
Is entropy

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018

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The Journeyman


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Did you hear the story about the journeyman? They say he comes on the coldest of nights, walking only by the light of the moon, from the darkness into a small town, somewhere, in the heartland, always the same.

He’s a harbinger of a changing world. He brings with him disease, or crime, or insanity. The last was always the worst. Whole towns, torn apart by the darkness within, coming out. That was worse than a plague, or calculated crime. Madness cannot be cured, cannot be cajoled. When the journeyman brought that, there was literally no hope.

He stays a day or a week at most. Rents a room in a hotel, pulls all the blinds, and just stays within. But something in him seeps out, every time, playing his games. His infernal tricks.

Nothing he did ever touched him, of course. He was the carrier of the curse, not its victim.

Just an urban myth, some would say. A cautionary tale designed to create a lingering xenophobia. A political ploy.


If we fear the other, the stranger, enough, we’ll do anything to keep them at bay.

But I think he’s real – the journeyman. My blinded grandmother certainly thinks so, after he came to her town, all those years ago. He brought disease then, when she was but a child. A disease that took her parents and damn near took her too, leaving a shell, a blinded soul struggling for life. She said she saw him come, that lonely night, and that’s probably why she lost her sight.

She had no reason to lie, or tell me tall tales. She never sought to frighten me, only warn. So I take her seriously, and I take the journeyman seriously.

So every night I watch from my window to make sure I never see him, walking the lonely streets, invading this town. It’s my vigil my watch, even if it is to take my sight also.

Just in case, just in case seeing him soon enough might help. Maybe I could stop him, turn him away. Maybe I could kill him. It’s the only hope we’d have, but I’ll take a little hope, every time.

So I watch.

(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018


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