Value of the gold of gods
diminished in the eyes of men.
Atrocities of blood long shod
Convince us not to start again.
Death, destruction, fear and doubt,
A people running, hiding scared.
Glass in the throat. We cannot shout.
It’s war and we are unprepared.
Electric tongues of famous faces
spit their lines amongst deaf ears.
They try to shock, their lies leave traces;
lightening scars awash with tears.
Athena won’t you come to me,
explain the reason for this woe?
She will not come, our destiny,
to take a seat and watch the show.
Smothered in a napalm blanket,
tiny hands begin to reach
up into the flames that drank it.
No more children left to teach.
Through echoes of the promised land
the sound of drums attempt to tell
the story we don’t understand:
we are the reason we’re in Hell.
They arm themselves with dictionaries
for words too striking to ignore.
They slip them into policies
they don’t explain, but kill the poor.
Cry me a river, grab an oar.
O, Amphitrite strike me down!
They took our freedom, then took more.
Faith can’t save us. Let me drown.
There is a lesson left to learn:
do not succumb to this defeat.
Through glass walls we watch it burn
and play our mantra on repeat.
“O, woe is me, this world is cruel.
Please, no more, my heart will break”.
We make our coffins, fit to rule,
and lay down in them. Our mistake.
O, why must I be Hamlet?
Two feet walking step by step
along a line that is paved with blood.
Poison in my heart, pierced.
To my left I see a family,
all smiling like they mean it, yet
plotting my demise.
I must deny you, sweet girl.
The right is all-destroying Darkness.
Though true, it’s right, but is it right?
Whether ‘tis nobler to agree,
or walk the endless walk of Time
and His cruel agony,
perhaps soft Sleep will tell. To sleep
perchance to dream. Dream forever.
O, Ophelia, why can I not choose like you?
Sleeping with the fish, warm in the riverbed,
I envy you.
To sleep the final sleep, it’s true,
may not have been your choice.
But you could make one.
The crazy girl that sung
and broke out in hysterics just because she could,
because your fate was sealed by foul lips
that uttered words like nails to your coffin.
You were so pretty. They thought it a waste.
You made the choice to take it, crushed
though you were by the weight of your rejection.
I could not, cannot, choose.
I walk the line once more, my dear Ophelia.
I do not, will not, drown.
My eternal Princess of the deep.
I am but Hamlet,
and I’ll never choose.
from a voicebox unprepared.
Physical, the trepidation
of the sentence, piercing.
Trapped between the walls
that make them.
Broken letters lose their meaning.
Harsh are the shards
of a syntax born of Mutiny
A fist unclenching in
the throat of the destroyer.
They will not come.
Glass fragments of Soul’s window
those suicidal words of murder.
A knot entangled in
the fleshy chamber, lodged
somewhere behind the traitor tongue.
Intent betrayed to silence.
But for the throbbing ache
that stabs in spite,
all is unchanged.
He shall not bleed.
swirling torment over water;
destruction in a blink;
here one moment;
gone the next.
Never does it solve itself,
the grey skyline confliction.
Never will the dust settle
on this heavenly candyfloss annihilation.
Above the water,
where the shipwrecks sleep,
an ever-watching pair of eyes
awaits the fall.
Mind and iris.
Fuzzy edges of a feeling.
Sense nonsensical and
meticulous line of poison red.
Slice of rust.
Liquid pulsing into
flakes of coal-stained ruby.
forever etched now with those screams.
Oppression in a vaccuum.
All is lost.
The following short story is in need of your help. It’s working title is ‘Exchange’ however I am displeased with this. I therefore invite you all to read this 600 word piece and come up with a title of your own. Post it in the comments section and the best one will have the honour of, well, being the permanent title. Here goes.
There’s a man in my neighbourhood that likes to be talked to. He’s a hobo but he listens good. I see him slumped in underpasses when I go to lectures, pick up a ten bag, buy a box of Minstrels. He has one of those hats, you know the ones. Flappy ear bits that make him look like Goofy on a windy day. I give him a bite of my Snickers sometimes, I know he likes the crunch. It’s the sound it makes, you see. I bet his soul makes the same sound, like throwing a handful of peanuts in a washing machine and spinning the drum.
I’ve grown pretty accustomed to that upturned palm. Never get to read it much but he says he’ll crack me a peek one day. He’s a hobo but he lies good. I know he pays no mind to visual affairs. He can’t read none but he likes to hear a pretty tale any day. Even painful ones have a music that quivers a man’s heart strings he says. A lot can be revealed in a Devil’s chord. I played him some Debussy once. I didn’t hear the sea until he sung it back to me. See? See lad? He cried that day into his cavity-smile.
Most folks won’t shine a watch in his eyes but he doesn’t care for them. No point wasting time on the Rolex-clad. He’s a hobo but he holds himself good. I asked him one day about the napkin he always had tied to his belt. It was the colour of rust. He tapped his nose and smiled his smile and sent me on my way. I thought he meant to learn me something so I came back again the next day. Again I asked and again he brushed me off. I never saw that pouch get bigger or smaller until one afternoon when I saw an old broad walk his way. My eyes were glued but therein lay my lesson I assumed. So I shut my eyes, sparked a J and listened.
Penny for them? Clink clink. Oh, oh alright, dear boy. Well, it’s my husband you see. We met oh so long ago, right after the war. He was wearing his beret and looked dashing, he was such a handsome man, my Bert. I was a simple girl back then but he saw more in me somehow. He always seemed to … it’ll be so hard without him. He had a weak heart, you see. He loved too fiercely and it just … gave out. Oh but I mustn’t be too sad. He lived a long life and I’ll join him on that porch in Vienna soon enough. Thank you, my boy. God bless you.
I poked my nose round the corner to see the old man bathing in his tears. He was smiling that cavity smile and savouring some private melody. Through all of this I hadn’t seen the purpose of the rust-coloured napkin. It looked the same to me as it did before. The woman crossed my path in a talcum cloud and in her hand was a dirty coin. I had to know, so I went to him and posed my question for the final time. Morning, Trash-Can Dan. What’s in the napkin? Through his salty streams he tapped his nose and smiled his smile and sent me on my way. I never knew my Dad. Fresh liquid pebbles manifested in his lashes. He’s a hobo, but he cries good. His fingers worked at the napkin package for a second then he turned and pressed a copper coin into my hand. Penny for them?
I am not a playwright and I am not from Edwardian England. I did however take a crack at writing a play in Shakesperian English. The task was to write a piece in any form so long as it was an adaptation of an existing piece. I chose a Spike Mulligan poem. The result was a 5 Act Shakesperian play-pantomime that fit into just over 2000 words. This is one of the creative pieces I am most proud of having written and, as this was submitted for my degree module last year I feel it has been long enough to justify posting it without any plagiarism repercussions. I hope you enjoy this and, should any of you be aspiring stage actors, I am open to seeing a re-enactment of this. Nudge nudge.
The layout of this is a little all over the place. Spaces aren’t where they are meant to be and, while in part this is down to my lack of knowledge of the correct formatting, it is largely the fault of the WordPress site itself. Many lines are out of sync with each other but the content is all in the correct places. I have, for the purpose of making it stand out, made the character names bolder. I hope this helps.
So here it is, The Most Lamentable Tragedy of The Lotofus.
Chorus: In this, the story of the Lotofus
And his fear of the monster in the dark,
The tragedy of the Hippopotamus
Is told through how this fear did miss the mark.
With jaws and body, teeth so large to see,
No animal would venture forth to know
That the giant they shunned eternally
Could be a friend, but also be a foe.
The fatal fear projected on the creature
Allowed for the destruction of his friends,
And though his power was his biggest feature,
‘Twas fear of this unknown brought tragic ends.
The power he did have, and could have used,
Yet he did not, and thus he was abused.
ACT ONE SCENE ONE
Forest. Enter LOTOFUS and PUSSY CAT along with mice and rats.
LOTOFUS: Hark, friend! How do you do?
PUSSY CAT: I am well, friend.
LOTOFUS: And here, I see you brought along some lunch!
PUSSY CAT: A snack or two, should the occasion rise.
LOTOFUS: A wise decision! Pray, what hour is it?
PUSSY CAT: Eight, Lotofus. He will not rise till nine.
LOTOFUS: An hour then. Good. Yet how I fear the hour.
It brings such dreadful things that make me weak
And tremble where I stand.
PUSSY CAT: We shall be gone by then.
LOTOFUS: And pray we are. Terrific creatures dwell
In these parts. Like the Hippopotamus.
I do not fear you Pussy Cat, oh no,
For you eat mice and rats and leave me be.
You are my friend. But he could eat me whole.
In this I fear.
PUSSY CAT: Don’t fret. Here is no harm
If we do not disturb the river. Peace.
LOTOFUS: Alas, you are correct. I’ll shake no more.
PUSSY CAT: Hear, hear. Now I am hungry. Shall we dine?
LOTOFUS: We shall. But pray that we be gone by nine. [Exit.
ACT TWO SCENE ONE
River. Enter HIPPOPOTAMUS on the river bank.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: To use the power in my jaw to kill,
To kill for food, to satisfy my hunger?
Whether ‘tis nobler for a one as I
To use my strength to keep myself alive
Against the hunger that my size requires;
To hurt the ones I wanted to befriend
In here, this solitary place of woe
Where I am big, they small, and me alone;
To snap my jaws and with my teeth destroy them
For a mere morsel? To destroy: perchance to lose:
Ay, there’s the rub. If I did use my power
To destroy the creatures of the forest
I would lose my chance to gain a friend at last,
For if I were to eat a one of them,
The others would all run in fear of me
And I would be mere Hippopotamus
Alone, lost on this river ever-more.
[Enter LOTOFUS and PUSSY CAT]
Yet soft: the noble Pussy Cat here comes,
And who with him? I shall enquire the name
Of the stranger at his side. Good day, good Cat!
LOTOFUS: Ay me! He sees us! But why does he wake
When ‘tis not yet nine? What shall we do?
PUSSY CAT: Stay here.
I’ll venture forth and ask what he desires.
Good day, old chap.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: Good day. May I enquire,
Who is that creature that you bring this way?
PUSSY CAT: A friend.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: A friend!
PUSSY CAT: A friend of mine
And one that frightens easy in this clime.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: May I meet him?
PUSSY CAT: I doubt he will accept
Your invitation. Yet I will ask and if
He does deny you, please, good fellow, yield.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: [Aside.] A friend of noble Pussy Cat that I
Have yet to meet? Haply he’ll be mine too.
But he returns!
PUSSY CAT: He will not venture near.
He is too scared of your great size and jaws
To come closer. Yet don’t be sad, good chap,
For I will speak with him and see if I
Cannot arrange a meet another time.
For now be still.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: And on your word I will.
Good day. [Exit LOTOFUS and PUSSY CAT]
So friendless and alone I stay. [Exit.
ACT TWO SCENE TWO
Another part of the forest. Enter PUSSY CAT and LOTOFUS.
LOTOFUS: O, dear Pussy Cat! See how close he came!
I saw it. Like a prophecy, I saw
Those teeth open up as he ran at me,
And my head, entering those savage jaws.
O, why does such a creature here dwell?
PUSSY CAT: Peace,
Good fellow, peace. Let me explain it all.
That creature you call savage bears no harm.
He chooses not to eat the folk that live
In and amongst the trees and waters here.
A friend is all that he desires, and so
He starves himself in pursuit of a one
Who will not fear him. Lotofus, please come
And meet him. Do not be afraid, I plead,
For he is but a woeful giant. Heed.
LOTOFUS: I cannot. He has the power to kill
Me in one blow. And what becomes of me?
I have done no wrong. I don’t deserve to die.
But he, I know, could kill me where I stand.
I shall not go.
PUSSY CAT: Good Lotofus, please hear.
The Hippopotamus should not be feared.
LOTOFUS: It can’t be so. He is too big for me.
That is my last. I shall not speak again.
PUSSY CAT: So it shall be. Clownfish, come to my side.
CLOWNFISH: I’ll come to your front as I am forced to swim.
What is it you want?
PUSSY CAT: A message I have
To send up-river, yet I cannot leave my friend.
You are the swiftest in these waters.
A quick lap I could muster up for you.
And the message?
PUSSY CAT: Tell Hippopotamus
That he shall not meet with the Lotofus.
His fear of his great size does overpower
His will to make acquaintance with his person.
CLOWNFISH: So it is true. Size really does matter.
I shall relay this message, but beware:
The calm of hungry, lonely men is rare.
PUSSY CAT: Lotofus, will you not explain to him
Yourself? [Pause] I take your silence as a no.
Clownfish, tell him of this and then return.
CLOWNFISH: And while he turns yellow, I, the big man spurn. [Exit.
ACT THREE SCENE ONE
River. Enter CLOWNFISH moving up-river.
CLOWNFISH: Could, would, should: the great debate. Which is right?
The Hippopotamus could eat him if he might
But would he if he could, but so he can,
So would he, will he, when it hits the fan?
And should he, as he could and would no doubt
If eating him, no good could bring about?
He could. I think he would. But should he kill?
He’s hurt again. My God, I think he will.
Here comes my man; the giant they all fear;
The one the yellow-bellied won’t go near.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: Good day, good clown.
CLOWNFISH: As good as any round.
I bring you word, and such a word I bring
From Pussy Cat that surely has to sting.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: And what word is that, ho?
CLOWNFISH: The word is ‘no’.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: “The word is ‘no’”? Whatever do you mean?
CLOWNFISH: That in your presence the Lotofus won’t be seen.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: He will not come? Does Pussy Cat say why?
CLOWNFISH: He says a ‘y’ but not a why you’ll like.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: How so?
CLOWNFISH: The ‘y’ is ‘yellow’. Cowardice.
And by this ‘y’ your friendship he’ll dismiss.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: Dismiss me, without even meeting me?
The fool! The coward! Heartless! How he mocks
My way of living in a foreign land
Without a gram of discontent at it.
He cannot understand my pain, the daily
Suffering that keeps me weak though I look
The part as I am large. I cannot bear
Another day of it. My fast is over. Done.
Let the hunt begin. The Lotofus is first.
Mock me, spurn me, now taste the strength of me.
It’s time to let my jaws do what they will. [Exit HIPPOPOTAMUS]
CLOWNFISH: I thought they would. Now he shall foot the bill. [Exit.
ACT THREE SCENE TWO
Forest. Enter LOTOFUS and PUSSY CAT.
PUSSY CAT: I hope the news did not upset him much.
His is a gentle soul. On this I trust.
What does he say?
CLOWNFISH: A lot for which he’ll pay.
PUSSY CAT: My apprehension grows. What were his words?
CLOWNFISH: A few he spoke before he went berserk.
PUSSY CAT: Berserk? Clownfish, tell me, is he insane?
CLOWNFISH: He is in something but it’s more like pain.
PUSSY CAT: Where is he now? I must apologise.
CLOWNFISH: He looks for the Lotofus. Tonight he dines.
PUSSY CAT: Good God. And so he comes for him?
CLOWNFISH: He comes.
For him; revenge; perdition; yes, he comes. [Exit CLOWNFISH]
PUSSY CAT: You hear what Clownfish says? He comes for you.
I doubt that now my words will have effect
Sufficient to dispel the rage he feels,
And yet I have to try. For his sake and
For yours I have to try. Stay here, my friend.
This bush will well conceal you from harm.
I will return. [Exit PUSSY CAT]
LOTOFUS: He left me on my own!
He means to talk him down but that won’t work.
A brute his size knows nought but savagery.
I shan’t stay here. Instead, from him I’ll flee. [Exit.
ACT FOUR SCENE ONE
Another part of the forest. Enter PUSSY CAT front of stage.
PUSSY CAT: I have to find the Hippopotamus
Before the pent up anger of his past,
Friendships unrequited, and his hunger
Break the peace in which he lived so long.
I fear I am too late, but I must try
To save both prey and hunter from demise.
[Enter HIPPOPOTAMUS behind. Crosses stage]
If only I knew where he was, I could
Stop him from bringing pain into the woods. [Exit HIPPOPOTAMUS]
I shall look elsewhere. He must not be near. [Exit PUSSY CAT other way]
[Enter LOTOFUS below stage]
LOTOFUS: O God, save me from this untaméd beast!
I am too good to end up that thing’s feast.
[Enter HIPPOPOTAMUS onstage. Approaches LOTOFUS from behind]
O, Pussy Cat, why would you leave me now
With that almighty hunter on the prowl?
[HIPPOPOTAMUS tries to grab LOTOFUS. LOTOFUS steps aside and HIPPOPOTAMUS misses. LOTOFUS does not notice him]
I dare not stay too long. He’ll find me soon,
And then I’ll end up dead, or worse, his food. [Exit LOTOFUS]
HIPPOPOTAMUS: He thinks that he can hide from me. More fool!
What impudence to say that he is good,
Better than I, when he’s the one who threw
Distempered greetings at my feet. The swine.
No matter, Lotofus. You’ll soon be mine. [Exit HIPPOPOTAMUS]
LOTOFUS: Perhaps I was a little overhasty
In my judgement of him. I should have stayed
A while. Haply I would have charmed the brute
And then he would not have it out for me.
I should have tried. But it’s too late. I’m done.
Can I, for my wrongs, repent? Let him come.
Here is the beast! I spoke too soon. I am
Not ready for him.
HIPPOPOTAMUS: I found you at last.
Too many times have I been put down by
The ones whose eyes did fuel their fear. Too long
Did grave starvation grip my sides in anguish
As I sought a friend in food. Now I feast
Upon the coward that called ‘beauty’ Beast! [Chases LOTOFUS offstage and a scream is heard.
ACT FIVE SCENE ONE
River. Enter PUSSY CAT and HIPPOPOTAMUS in chains on river bank along with mice and rats.
PUSSY CAT: Old chap, I heard of your foul crime. You ate
My friend, the Lotofus, and now the wood
Calls for a reprimand. Your heinous deed
Has brought such chaos to our midst that all
Around are petrified. I cannot hope to quell
The anger in your heart, nor gloom in mine.
The only method I have thus devised
To keep the peace among the people is
Exile. Down river on the muddy plain
You’ll spend your final days in solitary.
Neither food nor friend you’ll find around.
This is your punishment. Let it be said:
The Hippopotamus is banishéd. [Exit HIPPOPOTAMUS with mice and rats in escort]
And so the fear of one brought on his woe,
While the anger, uncontrolled, of his foe
Did strike him down in blows almost as low.
Take heed, the story of the Lotofus,
And, too, that of the Hippopotamus. [Exeunt.