Guest Post #9 Dreaming Of Another World

Dreaming of another world is a new feature on my blog where I welcome fellow writers or bloggers to talk about their experiences of Covid 19 and lockdown. I wondered whether other creatives felt like me – that another world was possible and could just be glimpsed once we were forced to stay still. I’ve had a great response and each week I will be publishing a post written by a guest -sharing their thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears during this strange and unsettling time. This week please welcome Suzie Ankers to The Glorious Outsiders. Suzie is a member of my writing group (Chasing Driftwood Writing Group) and is currently working on her debut novel, a thriller. The stresses and strains of lockdown prompted her to write the following poem.

My Daughter Turns Fifteen

It approached like a dark circling tornado,

Full of the threat of violent destruction and menace,

We watch the news in nervous anticipation whilst around us other deny its very existence,

We become doomsday preppers gathering our medications and food to withdraw from society,

Then we wait and life for a while, continues unabated.

Two weeks later and the landscape of the world has changed,

The once busy shopping centres lie empty as a silent killer stalks their aisles,

Our airports and ports keep inviting further unbidden guests to our homes and families,

The doors to my own business remain resolutely shut but my shame escapes,

There is a huge sorrow and fear in the air as my colleagues prepare the NHS for its onslaught,

They are being sent to war without shields and weapons,

Those low paid workers are now the new heroes of our society brought to its knees.

I watched your silent anguish as everyday you swallowed pills which you knew increased your vulnerability,

Whilst your brother and sister railed against the injustice of their false imprisonment you had no such complaints,

The creases in your forehead an indicator of your climbing anxiety,

The news spews forth the dire nature of the battle we have entered into and the fact that we are unprepared,

As we watch our prime minister, an expectant father, now fighting for his life,

I guess you wondered if this is what Corona had in store for you.

Fortunately, the storm abated,

The blue skies of summer heralded the way of greater freedoms, but we didn’t realise we were in the eye of the storm,

Still you hung back and waited until we could at last change your medication,

Fearful of the very thing that makes us human, social interaction.

Your brother left for university,

He partied his way to newfound freedoms,

I saw you watching and shaking your head and yet there was resigned joy in the fact that he had managed to get some semblance of normality,

Beneath that we held a knotting fear in our stomachs,

Would he pay for wanting to be like everyone else?

What risks would he have to navigate in his future career as a Physiotherapist?

Your sister, the most sociable of her family had missed groups,

As soon as she could she reclaimed the reigns of her social life but guided her horse skilfully around the hurdles of the new rules,

Even she was chastened by the virus for wanting normality,

Her boyfriends brother tested positive for Corona after returning from holiday and we missed out being in contact by a hair’s breadth,

I questioned my boundaries and yet I knew this is not the summer she sought,

She had plans of festivals, illicit alcohol, boys, and music. Parties on the beach.

Instead she got family time and more family time,

Yes, we tried teaching her to drive but how could we replace her peers?

Finally, you return to school and I am so proud,

You are the only child in your class to wear a mask,

I see the worry though in the dark circles around your eyes,

I hear the anger as they confirm cases at school and still walk around the corridors without masks,

I sense the rising frustration that people are not taking things as seriously as you believe they should.

I watch you attend your first interview wearing clothes that make you look like a middle-aged woman,

I realise what a warrior you have become and how you have had to wear an old head on young shoulders,

My heart swells with pride as you patiently explain yet again that you wear a mask to keep vulnerable members of society safe.

The interviewer nods yet I wonder if he really understands

I lie in bed at 3am unable to claim sleep worrying about the future,

That’s when my husband holds me and I hear his heart beating deep inside his chest,

It marks the rhythm of time passing and I think how we have made it this far without arguments and together,

He whispers to me that I am a good mama but not even I can protect my children from the air,

My heart does a somersault and my eyes search the ceiling for answers that just are not there.

Thank you so much to Suzie for sharing her words with us. Suzie’s bio is below.

Suzie joined the creative writing group a year ago. For her the act of writing is akin to the joy of reading and transports her into another world. She has three teenage children and works as a Therapist supporting children with Autism, ADHD and Sensory issues. She lives with her husband and children plus their energetic cocker spaniel named Beau. This piece was inspired by her daughters return to school post lockdown and it proved cathartic to write down all her anxieties.

Poem-The Battle

The battle started when I was ten

Though I didn’t know it then

A line was drawn upon the sand

When you slipped free and took my hand

I did not know, I did not see

You’d always be a piece of me

What were the words that set you free?

That helped shape my identity?

You’re a big girl, the biggest in class

That can’t really be all your arse

Fat cow, puppy fat, kind of chunky

Are you my best friend? Or worst enemy?

Now we hold hands forever more

Across the line of an eternal war

Dark little girl, with me endlessly

Claws in my back, I carry you with me

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Poem; Fine Wine

I need time for fine wine

Actually, it’s pretty cheap

Long as is doesn’t taste like vinegar, I’m good

And I refuse guilt

On a Friday, having survived

Because that’s what life is

A bloody fight and you know it

Like I know it

And we laugh about it and mostly

We swear fucking loads about it

And that makes us laugh more

Reveals the tension, the underlying strung out, pain and regret and

Anger

Licking lips, shaking heads, shaking it all away, we say

All you can do is laugh

All you can do is fuck it

Because life is short!

Fine wine, at the right time

Is never, ever enough

It lifts you up, lifts you out

The glass in hand, the bubbles glistening

The tall thin stem

The fragility of glass, like human pain

Human potential and blood

Your mouth rejects then consumes it

Your body likes it, your mind craves it

Music gets louder, means more

Touches you, nodding

You are gloriously amplified

Even, alone, typing, thinking, feeling, smiling

Taking lost selfies

You are smiling, with your fine wine

Your reward, your reward for the fight

And what does it mean

Except, anything can happen, anything will

Probably, you will roll into bed and sleep with

A smile on your face

But you don’t know that for sure when you start the fine wine

You feel the possibilities then

Of words unspoken, of laughter, light, danger

It’s all a ball of reckless desire and needing to be seen

It propels and laughs slyly

Trips many a fine human up

Ties them in knots

But not you

You know, fine wine, cheap wine

But only on a Friday

It is a caged beast, after all

Guest Post; ‘The Alt-Right and Their Irrationality’ by Toby Martin

This month’s guest post comes in the form of a poem written by a brilliant 19 year old, who comes to my writing group. Toby Martin is studying Screenwriting at Bournemouth University, but he also writes short stories and poems and is working on his first novel. Toby read this poem out one evening at writing group, post Brexit. As we are generally of similar opinions, we were all laughing and nodding as he read it out. We look forward to Toby’s poems and short stories at group, as they are always full of dark humour and never fail to make us laugh. Thanks for this Toby!

Is it really true that sanity has died?

That people didn’t know Farage had lied?

And now Brexit’s happening, but not so swiftly.

The government is unwilling to trigger Article 50.

And why should they? It’ll be suicide economic,

And May’s too busy preparing for apocalypse atomic.

I know I should be grateful we’ve finally got a cabinet sorted,

And that Michael Gove’s gone – perhaps hopefully to be deported.

But at the slightest criticism, May will rebuke us,

Just like she did to Caroline Lucas,

When the latter suggested just the slightest doubt,

That nuclear proliferation could ever work out.

To me, the problem lies with misinformation,

Twisting the truth coupled with outright fabrications.

The Daily Mail is the most popular paper,

Which is depressing considering the many capers

The rag has performed over its many years of circulation,

Baiting minorities, and deceiving the nation.

It’ll get away with lies, slander and exaggeration,

Claiming things to be fact without proper citation.

Consider when they attacked Ralph Miliband, father of Ed,

He hated Britain! The tabloid read,

Despite his dedication for the country’s armed forces,

While the paper’s creator, Lord Northcliffe endorses

Hitler’s Germany, fascists and Italian blackshirts,

At least until we went to war, and then he averts,

Any association he had – he puts it to bed,

Then goes on to attack other groups instead.

Even worse than the Mail (excuse me will I gag)

Is The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s favourite rag,

That used to be the most popular, and probably still would be,

If they hadn’t done away with the topless women on page 3.

Because that’s what we need in a modern liberal nation,

Public pornography and blatant objectification,

(No doubt subjected to excessive masturbation,

And if they get caught, they’ll blame immigration.)

Despite having half the world’s media under his control,

Murdoch will still claim his views are unheard, on the whole.

And whilst UKIP are laughing about their victory,

An exit from the EU will be rather contradictory,

As nothing they care about will likely change,

They’ll still be foreigners in their visual range,

And in anger at being deceived by their leaders,

They’ll go the same route as tabloid readers

And blame any minority group that they see fit,

And it’ll be blameless victims that get the worst of it.

Not all Brexiters are racist – just short on facts,

But now it’s being used an excuse to commit senseless acts

Of mindless xenophobic violence and hate,

While government opposition are declared enemies of the state.

Over in America, things might get steadily worse too,

After Donald Trump’s support unexpectedly grew,

A madman is now in a position to take control,

(Although even he might get fed up of Boris Johnson being a troll.)

And his supporters are too making a spectacle as they see fit,

Like Milo Yiannopoulos, the internet’s favourite hypocrite.

Finally banned from Twitter after racist abuse,

On top of his record of misogyny and homophobia that he would excuse.

And his first claim following his suspension,

Was that he was being oppressed by hate-crime prevention,

Forgetting conveniently enough that he claimed before,

That Twitter didn’t have the stomach to tell him what for.

Why then, do these liars get away with their lies?

Well, in many respects, it’s a curse in disguise.

Personal opinions are important, there’s no doubt about that,

But the danger comes with conflating opinions with fact.

Suddenly there are multiple truths, not just one,

And you get to choose which, to you, is the most fun!

So you can believe in a hollow Earth, or an expanding Earth or an Earth made of sponge cake,

You can believe in Phantom Time or that the Apollo landings were fake.

But some conspiracies are much more harmful with a lot more danger,

That play upon our instinctive fear of the stranger.

I’m talking about those who claim that vaccination,

Is an attempt at government world domination.

That jabs will make your child autistic,

Despite going against the accepted statistics.

But internet culture has a habit of demonizing reason,

Thinking that they’re out to get them for committing high treason.

As a result, we had thousands of children who weren’t immunized,

And as a result had their overall health compromised.

And once again this was a confirmation of the worst fears –

And the first death from measles in Britain in 14 years.

This is just one example of such a foreboding act,

That occurs when we value personal feeling over objective fact,

Be sure to spread this lesson amongst our impressionable youth,

Or we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.

You can follow Toby on TwitterWattpad and his excellent blog tobythewastrel

 Look out for next month’s guest post, a detailed piece on why going indie was the right decision for him, by horror writer Anthony Morgan Clark

Do you have something you would like to submit to this blog? It can be a poem, short story, novel extract, or a blog style post about writing, reading, or an experience of being an outsider (and not caring!) As long as it is glorious then sent it my way! Guest posts are once a month.