Of the People – Haibun – February 28, 2016

145 02 February 28th 2016

They’d met to protest and the Government actually thought there’d have been more people than actually showed up.  Their concern was about the drought which had lowered the levels of sweet water all throughout the land.  People had been grumbling about the raising costs of water for years, but now that the price of water had risen to  an euro fifty a litre the grumbling was becoming a movement.

The march on London was fixed for the 28th of February 2025 – 6:30 A.M. at Victoria Station.  As it turned out, there were more policemen than protesters.  The Government let out a collective sigh of relief … years of education had assured once again that the people had remained firmly under control.

of the people for the people
by the people

© G.s.k. ‘16

One of the major problems the future generations will be facing if we don’t do something about global warming will be the scarcity of fresh drinking water.  Our planet may be 3/4 water and as the caps melt down, many of our coastal cities may begin to flood, but all that extra water will not do us much good as we can’t drink it or use it to irrigate crops etc.  Already in many parts of the world the lack of drinking water is a cause of disease and hardship for over a billion people.  We in the West take water for granted .. but once we have to go and pump it like petrol, perhaps our ideas might change.  Will we finally do something or will we continute to wait for someone else to find a solution?

Water Scarcity – WWF

Written for: Sunday Photo Fiction

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Hidden Visions – Haibun – February 16, 2016

I walk through the  town square and it occurs to me that all these tourists snapping their photographs and drinking their drinks at the side-walk cafes are completely oblivious to the cares and worries of our daily lives.  We walk in different dimensions.

They’ll never know about the terrible divorce between Martina and Giulio.  They’re the owners of this  gelateria the tourists love so much.  Once they were considered to be the ideal couple, so in love and so happy,  by one and all. They’d kept their secret well even from us … and then it all fell apart.  But they keep the gelateria* open and the tourists know nothing of the price Martina and Giulio pay each day as they smile and serve up their ice-cream treats.

Ah, there’s Nando, whistling down the street over there.  He serves drinks at the discotheque.  Everyone enjoys his jokes and easy manner he’s really popular with the visitors.  Everyone admires him,  but not his wife. She hasn’t had the opportunity of seeing that aspect of him in quite some time.  Nando’s social drinking has gone too far and now he drinks his pay check up before he even gets it home, unfortunately he feels guilty about this so he beats his wife because she complains.

Here there are many stories hidden behind all the windows and shop fronts in our town square.  All go unheeded by the visitors as they ooh and ah over our beautiful architecture and tidy streets with their pretty flower arrangements. Our image too is clean and tidy, so they never see us at all.

hidden visions
lurking behind polished glass
untold stories

© G.s.k. ‘16

Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie – Photo Challenge #10

*gelateria is the name of an ice-cream parlour in Italy.

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Reflections in Padua – Haibun – February 3, 2016


© Gabriella of dVerse

I walked in the rain in Padua remembering other rainfalls and other cities.  Weaving through the people coming and going from the station, I soon found myself at the bus stop.  A sea of umbrellas over a mass of people stood waiting for the same bus, and I contemplated taking a cab to my son’s house.

Her mind flipped back several years. I’d come to deliver our travel documents to my husband’s company in San Donato, a nearly deserted area of Milan back then on a Sunday. I was waiting alone for a bus, the rain trickled listlessly from the grey Milanese sky.  The rapid passing of cars going and coming from the local airport made me feel even more alone.  I had to catch a train for Rome in three hours, I’d been waiting for the bus for over 45 minutes.  The schedule said buses passed every half hour.  I went into a nearby cafe thinking to ask information – I was roundly ignored by the everyone.  When I asked to use the phone to call a taxi, I was told that it didn’t work, although someone had been using it only 5 minutes before.

I went back out onto the street.  No sign of a bus, but a carabinieri prowl-car passed and I gestured desperately trying to get their attention.  I was pretty close to panic by now.  Two carabinieri were in the car, the youngest got out of the car and frowning asked me why I’d hailed them “like we were a taxi service or something”.  I explained my plight and said: “In my country when we’re in trouble we rely on the authorities for assistance.”

The elder officer smiled and said: “Yes ma’am you did well!  The buses are irregular in this part of town, especially on Sunday.”  He invited me to get into the car and drove me further up the line to another bus stop.

Twenty minutes later, I was still there and my train would leave for Rome in just under an hour and a half. It was all I could do to hold back tears of frustration.  The carabinieri had passed me by twice.  I saw them roll up again and stop.  They offered to take me to a taxi stand and I gratefully accepted their assistance. My heart racing I caught my train just as the whistle blew announcing it’s departure.

I looked around me, the old memory fresh in my mind.  The rain had stopped falling so I decided to walk to my son’s home.  After all it would be nice to take the twenty-minute walk rather than be crunched in a bus.

in a sea of umbrellas
old fears

© G.s.k. ‘16

dVerse’s Haibun Monday #6

This month Gabriella from “Gabriella’s Writing Corner” presents dVerse’s Haibun Monday offering four of her lovely photographs as inspiration – you can click the first link above to see them all and on the link here to visit Gabriella’s blog.

By the way, this is a true story and I’ve other lovely stories about Milan and its hospitality to add to this one.  I’ve never been to a colder greyer place throughout all the years of my travels, I’ve grown to avoid Milan if I can possibly do so.  I’ve heard that other people have not had my problems .. and one of my dearest friends lives there, a Japanese entrepreneur who has asked me to come  visit so she can take me to the tea house she goes to weekly and the local zen-do.  So, perhaps in the future I’ll overcome my age-old allergy to Milan.  I hope so.

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The Voice – Science Fiction – January 28, 2016

abandoned house with doll

Abandoned … this house and all that is hidden within.  Years of silence has fallen upon the house but once there was the sound of human life.  Not only is the house abandoned, the whole town has been abandoned.  If you look inside the houses you will know that the place has not heard a human sound for many many hundreds of years.  Before we explore these ruins let me tell you the story.

The people sat down into a circle.

This was once a prosperous community.  It had grown up over the centuries, first it was a hunter’s camp, then a few families had built some huts, farms grew up then a place of worship was dedicated first to the river, then to the sun and finally after many centuries to the one god.  Eventually a small fortress arose to protect the people from marauders and the people gladly gave up a tenth of all they produced to maintain the headman, the soldiers and the priests.

A sigh arose from the people.

As the years went by as happens with humans, priests, soldiers and headmen (no longer chosen because of their wisdom, but because their father had been headman) became corrupt and greedy.  Now the people of the village were no longer very happy. The tenth part of their produce freely given in times now forgotten was all that they had left after the “leader and the wise men” had taken their part, collected by the soldiers.

A murmur of disapproval floated on the air.

From among the farmers and craftsmen however, grew a new class of humanity, similar to the Wanderers.  They travelled from town to town and then farther and farther away, trading.  Soon they had what the leaders and priests wanted most, wealth which is one of the material manifestations of power. Over the years they became merchants and bankers; they used their wealth to buy influence but unlike the farmers and craftsmen, they didn’t sit in awe of the powerful leaders and priests, in fact they chaffed at the restrictions and the arrogant demands of these traditional rulers and eventually overthrew them.

Quiet reigned in the clearing.

Time passed, plagues and wars destroyed the city and it was abandoned over and over but it was always rediscovered after a time.  If an archaeologist knew where to look, he’d have seen that the city which became this small town we see abandoned today, resurrected at least 15 times over the eons.  But no more will it arise.  And there are no archaeologists to explore, no farmers, leaders, soldiers, priests and no bankers.

Birdsong drifted on the wind.

The humans used their adaptability very well.  They modified plants to feed themselves and changed the very land to suit their needs, killing whatever they didn’t need or that might interfere with their progress.  Whole swatches of continents became deserts as the top soil lost its roots and blew away, there, only the most hearty of beasts could survive, usually under rocks or in the deep earth.  They learnt how to harness first rivers, then the wind and finally they discovered how to make machines that weren’t dependent on fixed locations, so they could produce whatever they liked, where ever they liked.  Factories were born and the farmers thought to make their fortune going to live in cities, where they only found poverty and endless labour.

A baby cried and was comforted.

In very few years, everything began to change at a pace that had never been seen in all the lives of humanity.  They learnt how to make new and powerful machines and how to create cures so that fewer people died, ah it was prodigious!  But alas one day, the humans found that the land no longer supported them.  They could no longer breath their air.   They had dirtied and changed the water, so it became a poison.  Never being a peaceful species they became even more violent and began to kill any who wandered onto their land.  Their medicine could no longer cure them, new strange illnesses took the place of the older ones.

The wind rustled the leaves in the trees.

When the atmosphere degraded further thanks to all the chemicals released into the sky and the body wastes and heat produced by the so-called human civilization finally killed most of the water, people died like flies.  Illnesses, famine, mental diseases, congenital diseases, mutations undermined their strength and intelligence.  Indeed, their intelligence began to diminish to such a degree that many of the new generations could no longer care for themselves.  Millions died in a few short years and the millions became billions.  War, famine and stupidity killed them.  For awhile a few survived in the cities … but the illness that they had created continued to eat away at the species.

Soft sobbing could be heard.

Now, only a fraction of us are left.  We are the Wanderers. We gather what we can to survive and sometimes, we hunt the beasts of the land as well as the cats, the dogs and the rats. I am your Voice, my group.  Singing Wind before me was the Voice in her day and many others before her learned the stories of our species, the humans and passed them down to us.  I only call myself the Voice and this my young chosen one who will now begin to learn the truths of our ancestors and when her time comes, she will tell the tales and choose her name. Because we are the survivors. Now let us go into these places with reverence and sadness, before we travel on.

And slowly the Wanderers arose in silence.

G.s.k. ‘16


This story is linked to : The Voice – Free Verse – January 28, 2016

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Silence Fell – Dark Fiction – January 25, 2016

sunset Malcesine_small

“The sun is fading over the horizon and there will be no staying your dolorous state of guilt.  You might have elicited the help of a deity, like myself,  in order to deaden the pain of those immortal claws that will shred your soul when darkness brings you into contact with your mortal isolation.

Ah – but you did not dare, for fear the price of attrition might have been an unholy tribute to be paid.  That should have been irrelevant  in the face the more awesome eternal draining you’ll experience by my adversary.  You feared, you never though further than the next hour.  Now you’ve made your choice to face the night, to face the guilt.

Ah, how lovely is the sunset, how cool the air becomes when the fire of  summer’s heat is  extinguished by the downpour of the night’s relentless rains.  Smell this!  It begins, do you smell the cloying perfume of the hibiscus as it seeps through the crack in the window.  The beast is near now, no one can save you for you chose, unwisely.”

He moved away from his prisoner, his long robe hissing along the floor.  His emotionless smile gave no clue as to whether or not he was actually pleased that the prisoner had refused to pledge allegiance to his person.   The prisoner would have given him little joy or profit, as he was quite insignificant, but he loved to taunt them before leaving them to his sister.  Let them have the added pain of thinking they’d made the wrong choice, when indeed both choices were the wrong choice. He opened the great glass window and then left the room.

In the darkness silence fell.

G.s.k. ‘16

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie: Wordle #95

1.Fade 2. Human 3. Dolorous (full of, expressing, or causing pain or sorrow; grievous; mournful) 4. Elicit (to draw or bring out or forth; educe; evoke) 5. Deaden 6. Hibiscus 7. Claw 8. Downpour 9. Irrelevant 10. Fear 11. Adversary 12. Attrition (a reduction or decrease in numbers, size, or strength: a wearing down or weakening of resistance, especially as a result of continuous pressure or harassment: gradual reduction in work force without firing of personnel, as when workers resign or retire and are not replaced. the act of rubbing against something; friction. a wearing down or away by friction; abrasion. Theology. imperfect contrition.

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Hula Hooping – Short Story – January 23, 2016


Sharon used to trip up as the hoop refused to go ’round and ’round her waist  and sometimes she’d fall when it’d reach her ankles.  The uncoordinated rapid back and forth movement of her pelvis, which she thought should have kept the colourful circle twirling, just didn’t, no matter how quickly she pumped.

Her friend Mahiya giggled, she’d learnt the trick and could keep the hoop twirling even for up to twenty minutes now, in fact Mahiya was inventing new things to do with hula hoops.  Patiently she explained again that the trick was actually a slow, circular motions with her hips, saying: “You’ve got to work with the hoop!”.

Now many years later, Sharon and Mahiya have integrated rhythmic dance steps with their artistic use of their hula hoops.  Bashir, who had often hid giggling just beyond the hedge watching them when he was little,  now had problems of his own, keeping his heart pumping at a slow natural pace as he watched the girls, hula hoop.

© G.s.k. ‘16


You remember how to play?

  • six sentences, no more, no less
  • any genre
  • use the cue any way you choose
  • the cue this week is TRIP
  • LINK IT UP! The link is open until Tuesday!
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Kitsune and the Frog – Fairy Tales – January 23, 2016


“Grandma, before I go to bed, tell me why you have that stone frog praying near the fish pond.” the little boy said, trying to prolong having to go to bed.

And his Grandmother replied:

One day the beautiful but impertinent  Kitsune walked down a garden path not far from a Zendo near Edo in Japan.  In the garden there were many splendid things to see but Kitsune was enchanted by the calm beauty of the purple wisteria, the cherry trees and most of all by the mossy old pond. She was also a little bored and would have liked to talk about how serene she felt, because she though:  ‘what is the use of being serene if no one knows I’m serene!”

She saw something near the pond, and upon looking closer she was surprised to see that  it was a ponderous frog sitting on a stone. Kitsune looked at the frog and realized that it was meditating.  It was bright green and the only thing that moved was its sack like throat as it breathed.  On the other side of the pond there was a Buddhist monk.  He too was sitting on a stone contemplating the mossy pond.

Kitsune bowed low to the frog and introduced herself.  The frog acknowledged her by opening one eye.

“Can’t you see I’m meditating my dear Fox?  Whatever do you want from me?”

Kitsune blushed, in fact, there was no reason for her to interrupt him, outside of her disrespectful nature and she felt a little embarrassed by his direct question, she felt he should have been more discreet.

“Oh, I was fascinated by how spiritual you looked dear Frog and how serene.  I too feel very serene at this moment but I was also moved to try to understand why you are so fortunate.  It is  true what everyone says about you being the most fortunate of creatures?” Kitsune yammered.

“And who says this? Who are these “everyones”?” asked Frog surprised.

“Just everyone! From the Moon Goddess to the humans who call you, “kaeru”,  you know!*

The frog realized that Kitsune had nothing useful to say and that she just wanted to chatter and distract him with her blandishments, so annoyed, he hopped off his stone into the water.  The monk in turned looked on with surprised delight and smiling said:

Furu ike ya – kawazu tobikomu – mizu no oto*

The old pond,
A frog jumps in:

Basho ***

And so my dear Jason, that is how Kitsune caused the most famous haiku in Japan, and maybe the whole world, to be written.  And to honour the frog, who is the most fortunate of creatures, I put a statue to remind me of him near my fish pond.

Jason went to bed thinking that the statue should have been of  Kitsune who’d made the haiku possible.

© G.s.k. ‘16


*””Frog” in Japanese is “kaeru.” While the kanji/kana involved in writing the words are different, it is pronounced the same way you say “return/to return” (also “kaeru”). According to Japanese folk belief frogs can be linked with things/or people returning to a place or origin. They are lucky to keep around so that money, friends, good things stuff which you usually see off or give away will at some point “kaeru” or come back.” Source

**”In Bashô’s haiku, a frog appears. To Japanese of sensitivity, frogs are dear little creatures, and Westerners may at least appreciate this animal’s energy and immediacy. Plop! “Plop” is onomatopoeic, as is oto in this instance. Onomatopoeia is the presentation of an action by its sound, or at least that is its definition in literary criticism.” Source

***Basho (Translated by Alan Watts) – source same as above.

Tale Weaver#49 – Fairy Tale Prompt

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Ghostly Keys – Short Fiction – January 21, 2016

In the silence rusty locks creak as ghostly keys open the cells. Through the dust mote dance in the light a daily life continues.  The shuffling of the slippered women in drab drill smocks shuffle down the corridor out into a hall. Each day the same routine:  a meal, some work, a walk, a meal, some work, a shower,  a meal and back down to the corridors of cells – each one finally home.  Day in day out.  Except for Sunday, the day of rest.  …

One day for each,  the routine ended.  Sentences were served for the misdeeds against society.  Inevitably, the prisoners, rehabilitated with a cardboard suitcase, the few dollars earned working for the State and two changes of clothing, were escorted out of the gates. Sometimes there was someone there waiting to take them home.  Others just caught a bus that took them into town. And some never fulfilled their sentence, they are buried somewhere. …

No more routines greeted those women then.  No certainties, no satisfactions from their jobs, no friendly faces at the table to whom to talk, no one to go to walk with;  alone, abandoned, some fell into destitution, some killed themselves, some committed another offence but some adapted and made new routines. …

The State closed the prison.

As the years passed the empty corridors seemed to fill up with the echos of what once had been its life. In the silence the rusty locks creak as the ghostly keys open the cells. Through the dust mote dance in the light the daily routine still takes place. The shuffling of slippered feet and the chatter in the hall and the laughter at the breakfast table. …

Photo Challenge # 96: January 19, 2016

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Snow Dreams – Short Fiction – January 18, 2016

139 01 January 17th 2016There’s something mystical in the first snow fall of the year. A special quality of silence, Janice thought,  one could almost hear the snowflakes fall.

She’d arrived early and was waiting for the night shift to get off.  Listening to classical music, she began to day-dream.

She woke-up with a start, cold penetrating into her bones.  She’d no longer been day-dreaming but soundly sleeping.  The windscreen was covered in snow, the silence was penetrating almost unearthly.

She’d no idea how long she’d been dozing, maybe an hour.  No, more, her audio player was nearly at the end of it’s eight-hour playlist. Light filtered through the snow.  She tried to open the car door.  Stuck.  Panic began to flow into her and  fear’s voice had moved its register from a whisper to a shout.

“Crap, crap, crap! I’ve got to get out of here!” she said on the verge of tears.  She remembered her phone and pulled it out of her pocket.  Hit her emergency number, put the phone to her ear – dead.

Then she heard the knock on the window: “Hello Janice. Sorry I’m late, I’ve come to pick you up.” said a chilly voice.

© G.s.k. ‘16


When I was a teenager in Alaska every once in a while someone would freeze to death, maybe they’d had too much to drink or their car broke down.  We were told by instructors and adults that what would happen was that one would just fall to sleep and never wake up and that one had to try to stay awake.  I think that probably there’s a lot worse ways to die …


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A Voyage – Flash Fiction – January 18, 2016

snow trees_small


Riding down a country road, the snow lays even and crisp, the trees laced in fairy ice and a soft piece of music plays on the radio.

There’s no pressing schedule, just being together is enough, we’ve nothing to prove no goal to meet, a cloud hides the sunlight, all becomes grey.

Just being should be enough now, even though we never thought it was when we were younger, one always had to prove one was brilliant, on top of the “situation” … even when there was no situation.

Even now, when all’s been said and done, we hide the desire to change the other, remould that other into our own image – it seems that we can only let a tree grow as it will, if we can pot it from time to time.

Hey, look at the blackbirds hop around on the snow under the bush, they never seem to be bothered by the winter cold, but then really what would I know?

The sun comes from behind the cloud, it’s blinding light reflects off the snow hiding what is and what was in white light.

© G.s.k. ‘16


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