Spell Check

Don’t walk too near the woods, go ’round

Especially at night

And if you must, don’t make a sound

Keep low and out of sight

Don’t whistle, sing or kick at stones

Don’t stop to climb a tree

For, if you do she’ll boil your bones

And have you for her tea

Because The Witch of Oldham Woods

Takes little ones who stray

Extinguishing the childhoods

Of those who lose their way

Who’ll never hear a mother’s words

Before their empty grave

Whose names are rarely ever heard

Whose souls no man can save

Don’t walk too near the woods, turn ‘round

For, all I say is true

And pray you’re found on hallowed ground

When she comes after you

Soup For One

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I don’t remember what I wore
Or who sat next to me
I don’t remember who cried more
And who came just to see

I don’t remember hymns they played
The readings that were read
Or why he paused before he said
That you weren’t really dead

I just remember how you looked
When you slept next to me
The Sunday dinners that you cooked
And how you sipped your tea
Those corny jokes you always told
Which rarely made me laugh
How next to you I looked so old
In every photograph

I don’t remember telling you
To leave me all alone

I don’t remember telling you
I’d be fine on my own

I don’t remember

Constellation Prize

The figure on the mountain knew
Far higher than the eagle flew
Beyond the sun and past the light
Were men who crossed the sky by night.
Soon after dusk their fires appeared
Then slowly, once a course was steered
Their caravan set out en masse
To make its empyreal pass.


Like beasts migrating on the plains
Like swarms that form to greet the rains
He found no word for the amount
Of travelers he sought to count.
A gallery would pass him by
Whose outlines seemed to signify
Proud emblems of a noble clan
Led by an even a greater man.


The bearing, always east to west
Suggested they were on a quest
Or maybe searching for a door
They’d passed through in a time before.
Each night the figure danced and prayed
Around the fire he had made
In hope his kin might see its glow
And teach him all he wished to know.


Then with the last beat from his breast
Great Spirit granted this request
And drew his outline in the sky
That men as he should never die

Double Cross

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But somewhere, somehow Judas turned

And walked away from all he’d learned

So, when the two men dipped their bread

They both knew one would soon be dead.

We’re not sure how it came to this

Why he betrayed him with a kiss

To bring about the earthly end

Of someone he had called a friend.

Arrested, tortured, hung to die

While soldiers laughed and women cried

His friend collected his reward

And hoped the cause had been restored.

But this betrayal had a price

Which cost poor Judas paradise

He lost his friends then lost all hope

And wound up swinging from a rope.

Where is he now? God only knows

Good people pray for his repose

In hope our own friends keep us close

At those times when we need them most

Mother of Invention

At Cana, water turned to wine

Delighting all the guests

And showed the world The Great Divine

Considers all requests.

Although some question Was it prayer?

Or did a son discover

The force behind a mother’s glare

Is unlike any other?

Local Weirdough

“I’ve gone into hiding.”

“We’re in a Pizza Hut.”

“That’s what they want you to think,” Laverne lowered her voice. “Look around… what do you see?”

“Happy fat people.”

All of them?”

“All the ones eating pizza,” I was able to confirm.

“What about him on his own over at the salad bar? What’s his story?”

“That’s a woman.”

“Okay, whatever, but ask yourself this: what type of person comes to Pizza Hut to load up on celery?”

“Maybe she’s the nurse.”

“Restaurants don’t have nurses.”

“This one should.”

“John, what am I always telling you?”

“It’s only a phase?”

“That was your mother.”

“Never make eye contact while eating a banana?”

“That was your cellmate.”

“If someone’s crying don’t ask them if it’s because of their haircut?”

 “There are two types of people in this world: those who like pizza and -”

“- nurses?”

“Communists.”

“You’re why aliens don’t talk to us.”

“The Macarena is why aliens don’t talk to us,” Laverne sniffed. “Anyway, I need to talk to you about something else.”

“Shoot.”

“How can I get myself into The Bible?”

“Oh my God…”

“Is that what I should do? Should I pray?”

“That wasn’t praying.”

“Then you, my friend, have just blasphemed,” Laverne waved a menacing finger in my direction.

“Since when have you been religious?”

“Pam’s published an eBook.”

“And…”

“It’s a collection of poems which are just dreadful.”

“So…”

“I think one’s about me.”

“Because…”

“It tells the story of a beautiful Mesopotamian goddess.”

“You’re from Wisconsin.”

“Maybe it wasn’t always called that.”

“So, you’re thinking that if you’re a goddess you should be in the same book as God.”

“I should at least be on the cover with Him,” Laverne reasoned.

“Right, here comes the waitress so would you please come out from under the table?”

“Are you ready to order?” the young woman asked.

“Have all of these animals on the menu been freshly killed?” Laverne enquired, emerging to take her seat.

“Please excuse my friend, she’s Mesopotamian,” I interjected.

“Uh huh…” the waitress was going to need a lot more.

“She was just looking for somewhere to bury the leftovers.”

“You’re not really allowed to do that,” she advised us.

“Then I’ll just have the buffet special,” Laverne set down her menu.

“Anything to drink?”

“I’ve just topped up my gourd so that won’t be necessary, thank you.”

“I’ll have the Buffet Special and a Coke,” I jumped in again.

The waitress stared at her pad, unsure of what to write.

“Two Buffets Specials and one Coke.”

“Right,” she sighed with relief. “You confused me there for a minute.”

“I apologise,” Laverne continued, “it’s just that all of this takes me back.”

“All of what?” the waitress asked.

“These ancient murals. That one, for example, is it Babylonian?”

“That’s Cher at The Oscars.”

“So it’s not a mummy then?”

“I can check, if you’d like.”

“Would you?”

“I’ll be right back with your drink so please help yourself to the buffet,” the girl managed to get out, before backing into the table behind her on her way to the kitchen.

“Mesopotamia?” Laverne laughed.

“From a mud hut to Pizza Hut within the blink of an evil eye.”

“We’ve got her on the run, poor thing.”

“Excuse me, but did you find your earring?” a dashing maître d’ approached our table.

“How did you know that’s what I was looking for?” Laverne asked, delighted.

“It’s my job to notice everything. For example, I also noticed that you didn’t order a drink. May I get you one now?”

“A gin and tonic would be lovely,” came the order.

“When I return, I’ll help you look for your earring,” he promised, before waltzing off.

“Dark and swarthy with an accent. Good thing he wasn’t selling sand because you’d have ordered it as a starter.”

“You know us Valley Girls,” Laverne sighed, “we just can’t resist a man in cuneiform.”

High Stakes

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Should I love you?
Take hold of you?
Our first kiss would be your last
Blood pulsating
Seeping, sating
Taking more than I had asked.
This lifeless life out of the sun
Exiled from God’s own plan
Its beastly feast that’s fit for none
Was not how I began.
Still, you near me
Don’t you fear me?
I can suck you into hell
No
I’ll leave you
Let me grieve you
In that place where monsters dwell

Chat Room

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The cashier took my money

Without even glancing up

So I said something funny

As a means to interrupt

Her name tag spelled out Mary

And she didn’t think it cute

When I rhymed it with scary

Before asking: Are you mute?

The parking lot attendant

Waved me past while on the phone

A job that’s not dependent

Upon people skills alone

His name badge boasted Wainwright

And that’s all I gleaned from him

While he kept playing Fortnite

With a gamer in Tianjin.

My lunch was served by Lizzie

In a small, outdoor café

Where staff are far too busy

To cite Specials of the Day

Instead when it gets hectic

They just gesture to a wall

Good luck if you’re dyslexic

When you try read the scrawl.

The bank staff social-distanced

As they monitored the line

And then at their insistence

I saw Teller Number Nine

Laverne asked for my password

Followed by my date of birth

Then after that all I heard

Was my after-tax net worth.

Without a chat

We’re hardly here

Soon after that

We disappear

But I endure

This guessing game

Because I’m sure

God knows my name.

The Abomination

Dark Russ Type Beat 'Praise' Freestyle Instrumental (Prod. By ...

Father Marc assumed his usual seat in the front pew of St Jude Church and unfastened his collar. Each evening after mass the old Jesuit liked to collect his thoughts for several minutes before extinguishing the candles and clearing the altar. His church had a cheery interior by day but sunset draped a grey cowl over the building which he didn’t like, entombing everyone and everything inside. Now peering into the shadowy recesses around him, he decided he’d turn on more lights for evening mass, even in summer.

In a grotto to the left of the altar stood a life-sized statue of The Virgin Mary, illuminated by several rows of red offertory candles. Earlier in the day an elderly parishioner had brought in a dozen crimson roses from her garden and asked if she might lay them at the statue’s feet. In the flickering candlelight the carefully arranged blossoms created a dramatic effect against the white linen which he now believed merited closer inspection. Genuflecting before the altar, he followed the raised marble railing which led to the grotto.

Weeping, growing Virgin Mary statue inspires Subang Jaya church ...

Father Marc gingerly lowered himself onto the wooden prayer kneeler before The Virgin. He could remain thus only briefly before his knees locked and he leaned forward to transfer some of his body weight onto the wooden book rest. The solitary figure studied the statue’s expression and thought she looked more melancholy than he remembered, while The Virgin’s gaze never wavered from the front entrance to the church. Reaching over the rows of offertory candles, Father Marc selected one of the roses to enjoy its scent but discovered it had none. Disappointed, he replaced it and began counting the number of offertory candles lit that day by the hopeful.

Nineteen… no, twenty. Will there be $20 in the donations box, I wonder? I doubt those three little monkeys threw in anything.

A deep, sinister chuckle rose from within the shadows behind him at this last remark. Father Marc tensed and the hair stood up on his arms; he was not alone. For a moment he thought he’d unknowingly locked in a straggler but dismissed the idea just as quickly. Every instinct told him this was not a believer. The laugh was not human.

“Let me blow those out for you, Father,” came the low, menacing snarl. “You know me… I prefer to work in the dark.”

This time the guttural growl came from much closer yet he’d heard no footsteps. His blood froze and his knees were now on fire as he tried to stand without success. Bracing his arms against the book rest, he looked to The Virgin for guidance but her gaze was fixed upon what was now approaching.

Help me, Blessed Virgin. What has come into my church?

“She can’t hear you, you fool!” the voice snapped angrily. “But I’m listening to your every thought.” It then softened in tone but couldn’t conceal an underlying rage. “Don’t be afraid. I’ve journeyed a long way to find you.”

In one final effort Father Marc managed to get to his feet and turned around but saw no one. The church appeared empty but he knew this was not the case because every nerve in his body screamed he was in mortal danger. Whatever was hiding was playing a game. Waiting. Watching.

“I need to make a confession,” the voice whined mockingly. “I’m about to revert to my old ways and you wouldn’t want that, now would you? Won’t you come in and join me? I really don’t want to have to come out there and get you,” it hissed.

Old-Style Confessional - The Sacred: Catholic Liturgy, Chant ...

At that moment the light above the confessional door lit up, giving the cleric a start. It was in there waiting for him. Father Marc took a tentative step towards the confessional then stopped. As a Jesuit he’d been trained not to fear evil and although every instinct was telling him to flee this was not an option. Whatever had entered his church had no right being there and he grew angry, not only at this act of defilement but its sheer audacity. As his anger grew, so did his resolve. All the years of training now took over and he advanced slowly forward.

Blessed Mother, stay with your poor servant.

“It’s only you I want for now, Father,” the voice threatened. “I’ll deal with her later.”

Father Marc was no longer listening to the demon behind the door. Whispering the Act of Contrition, he was imagining what God looked like. He hoped his creator would be forgiving and reward him for what he was about to face in his name. The priest also wondered where God was at this very moment. Was he watching events here on Earth? Was this a test? Was the plan to intercede at the last moment and then reward him for his faith? His mind now racing, he hadn’t noticed that the sun had now set, plunging the church into total darkness except for the candlelit grotto and the ominous light above the confessional door.

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His knees no longer hurt and he’d regained control over his breathing. The only sound was the loose change in his pocket which rattled with every step. He tried to visualise the demon that lay in wait for him and how best to fight it, fully aware the odds did not favour an old man. Martyrdom seemed inevitable and the priest accepted his fate as many others had before him, while his mind continued to release thousands of memories, one of which was a prayer his grandfather had taught him:

Aronhiate, onne aonstaniouas taitenr

“You don’t know which gods to call upon, do you?” the fiend tormented him. “How pleased do you think they’ll be to learn you’ve been playing them off against each other all these years? If you’re afraid now, wait until they get hold of you…”

When Father Marc arrived at the confessional the light above the door went out. Maintaining his composure, he pulled a plastic lighter from his shirt pocket and flicked it. He listened for any type of sound coming from inside the confessional but the church was shrouded in silence as if every living thing was hiding and holding its breath. His left temple ached and his stomach was turning.

God have mercy on my soul.

He reached for the door handle but his right hand stopped short and hovered above it, shaking, while the small flame from his lighter continually rose and fell, threatening to abandon him at any moment. Scarcely breathing, he silently closed his grip on the door handle and was about to turn it when he had a revelation.

It’s behind me.

Before he could turn around Father Marc was set upon. The old cleric was seized from behind and hurled across the church, landing in a broken heap beside the grotto. Disoriented and bleeding badly, he was again raised off the ground and slammed face down into the prayer kneeler before The Virgin. He clung onto the book rest with the last of his strength, realising this was where his enemy wanted him. Daring to open his eyes, he tried to focus but all he could make out was a pool of blood at the feet of The Virgin where the roses had once been.

Older 34" Oak Wood Church Kneeler + "Prie-Dieu" + chalice co. (CU ...

“We need to talk, old man,” rasped the voice, its breathing now heavy and laboured. “It’s coming and I know you feel it too which explains that prayer.”

Father Marc couldn’t speak but he knew his thoughts were no longer his own. He also knew these were to be his last moments on Earth, a prospect which now filled him with joy because he was ready to meet his god.

You thought it was me, that’s why you came here.

“Yes, I now know you were only a diversion, a fatal mistake on your part.”

We all have roles to play and I’ve played mine.

“I’m getting closer each time, Father.”

Time is against you. It’s started and you can’t stop it. No one can.

“I can make one night last a thousand years,” the demon reminded the Jesuit, “or have you forgotten that?”

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Raging it had wasted time pursuing the wrong quarry, the fiend had nonetheless gleaned vital information in its race to find answers, but it didn’t like being mocked and Father Marc would pay dearly for his defiance. All promises of mercy were now forgotten as the demon snapped the priest’s head back, breaking his neck, before bearing down for the final, frenzied attack upon Mary’s poor servant.

Don’t Stand So Close To Me

The Mean Old Lady!!! Storytime - YouTube

The new teacher entered the classroom and took her seat, greeting no one. Perpetua Tightwaters was having a bad day but her deportment made it impossible for the students to tell because she held only one expression in her armoury: disapproval. A fierce-looking woman with grey-blue eyes which devoured their prey whole, she could scan an entire school assembly at a glance over horn-rimmed glasses designed to gore enemies at close range. Thick, silvery hair which still held its lustre was meticulously hoovered up into a tidy bun, giving her the air of a grande dame of the Bolshoi who had long since exited the stage, but not the company. A smooth complexion required only a light touch from a modest palate; it was only her mauve lipstick which strayed into the adventurous, considered redundant by many because her lips were permanently pursed until they parted to issue a summons, reprimand or decree.

teacher old - Imgflip

Perpetua Tightwaters loved crosswords, hated skateboarders, still bought her meat from the local butcher, donated to the Red Cross by direct debit, considered pet ownership overrated, knew her brother-in-law had a drinking problem before he did and stopped listening to Engelbert Humperdinck the day the singer made a joke about the Queen Mother during a live interview on Radio 4.

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Alert and self-assured, she made few demands of others and expected the same courtesy in return, preferring discretion at all costs. During her morning commute into the city, Perpetua remained vigilant lest she should drop her guard for even a moment and, in doing so, make eye contact with a fellow commuter just bursting to talk about his gifted toddler’s progress at Junior Montessori. She had nothing against the public, she simply regarded them much as she did junior royals: odd-jobbers whose pivotal role might one day involve organ donation. In an increasingly unrecognisable world where meat was murder, Drag Queen Storytime had replaced Show & Tell and a pope had wavered ever so slightly on the question of married clergy, Perpetua Tightwaters chose to anchor herself in work, God and country for everyone’s sake.

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In her opinion, social distancing wasn’t overkill.

It was overdue.