200 Section 24 Kseniya and Zhenya do Sunset Boulevard

Kseniya had always fancied a pool

and one of those old Citizen Kane-style

mansions shielded from the Boulevard,

should she be so lucky some oligarch

sweep her off her Pretty Woman feet

one fine day. Zhenya can come with.


rests one middle finger on the wheel,

as Kseniya looks out through 1950s

shades at residences of the well-

to-do. “Stop right there, kid!” she barks sharply

and takes a snap of the pharmacist’s.

“Let’s drive on up the hill,” Zhenya grumbles

but obeys her friend. The old car grunts

up the steep secluded private hill-

side drive in too high a gear. The tires crunch

over the gravel forecourt.


steps out headscarved and takes another snap

of the old place. Zhenya sits arms crossed

and stares tediously out through the wind-

screen and the haze of chemical smog

draped over the tinsel town horizon

like a poorly executed fake

eyebrow under the scorching LA sun.


“Are you the girls from casting?” booms out

the voice of an overweight African-

American security guard.

“Yes, we are!” Kseniya pipes up, lowering

her shades and fluttering her eyelids,

as Zhenya firmly barks out “No!”


heels stumble on the steps leading up

to the dream house. The heavy oak front door

eases ajar. A portly old care-

worn man’s balding head looks out after her,

in wine-stained opened dress shirt, grinning

through bad drooling teeth, and beckons her in.


Sunshine Blogger Award


I am truly grateful to Rizza Jairi for nominating the dark little corner of the Web that is my blog for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Rizza is a budding blogger from the Philippines who deserves our support. https://younggirlsvoyage.wordpress.com/

The Sunshine Blogger Award Rules are as follows:

  1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  2. List the rules and display an award logo on your blog post.
  3. Answer the 11 Questions the blogger asked you.
  4. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and notify them by commenting on any of their posts.
  5. Ask the Nominees 11 new questions.

Here are my answers to Rizza’s Questions

  1. Describe how you first got into blogging? I was looking for something to do in my retirement and had a lifetime’s worth of writings and reflections that I wanted to publish in some way.
  2. Can you tell me some of your strengths that really helped you in blogging? Liking writing obviously helps. Being kind and generous in dealings with fellow bloggers is important in today’s online jungle. I am forever grateful to my mother for teaching me to touch type.
  3. What type of networking do you think is better to enhance your traffic to the blog? This is something I confess I am not good at. I am too shy. I try, in the words of Philip Larkin, to be ‘true and kind’ or at least ‘not untrue and not unkind’.
  4. What do you think is the best service a blogger can provide to his readers? Food for thought
  5. What would be your ideal working environment? A walled garden in summertime.
  6. How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently? I have plenty of time and really should spend more of it blogging. I find interaction with other bloggers a great spur to productivity.
  7. What is your greatest achievement outside of blogging? Surviving thus far in life with a lot of help from others.
  8. What was the most challenging moment in your blogging journey so far? For me, the most challenging thing was plucking up the courage to start in the first place.
  9. What do you find the most frustrating aspect of blogging? I find it quite lonely a lot of the time.
  10. What is the biggest difference in your life post-blogging? I am much more confident, fluent and prolific as a creative writer,
  11. Would you encourage other people to make their blog? why? Writing is the best way to develop your soul and blogging is a way of sharing that process with others.

My Nominees and their websites are:

And here are some questions for my Nominees

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What qualities does a good blogger require
  3. How do you attract visitors to your blog?
  4. What is the nicest comment anyone has posted on your blog?
  5. What is the nicest comment you have posted on someone else’s blog?
  6. Why is writing important?
  7. Why is blogging important?
  8. What is the purpose of poetry in this digital age?
  9. Can images be as powerful as words?
  10. What is your favorite part of speech—noun, verb, adjective, preposition etc?
  11. How do you stay sane?





200 Section 23 Bell at Seven Part 2

Bell at Seven — Part 2

Bell at seven. Bella leaps

up out from under duvet,

grabs peach-colored dress laid out

pressed on dressing table, skips

happy downstairs to breakfast

table through strewn mail, front porch,

out through flower garden and

drive, to car to school, mum at

the wheel.

The schoolchild crocodile

snakes, boys, girls hands held in hands

in quaint anticipation

of coming matrimony,

along urban kerbs, crosses

the pelican and zebra

crossings between traffic

lights and Belisha beacons,

led by lollipop lady

through danger to the city

zoo, to watch panthers prowl through

bars and penguins fill their bills

with fish and lions roar and

gorillas beat their chests, to

sit on benches out the back

of the rhino compound and

eat egg and cress sandwiches

and animal crackers out

of tiny plastic boxes

and sip pop through fluted straws,

as pink flamingos squawk.


is led off in the blood-stained

keeper’s arms, exotic scent

of hippo excrement, and

primate grunts and gibbons’ shrieks

and ululations: too young

for love, her silent tears cry

out to the whole animal

kingdom for mercy and sweet

relief from sin, as church bells

gather congregants in prayer

and children board the bus back

home for tea. Bell at seven.


Flipping back through the scrapbooks,

the fading Polaroids, the

power cuts and birthday cake

candles blown out, the strikers

huddled around braziers, as

hippies love and dance and hate

war, Nixon lies and Manson

orders family murders

and men’s boots stomp on the moon,

Bella curls up in the safe

space of the womb, the journey

over. The backward-ticking

clock unknits her wet fetal

tissue and unpicks her genes.

The coup de dés of onto-

genesis undone. Two dice

and seven is commonest,

plainness the default. Bella

slips back into a happy

nothing and disappears through

a pinpoint of pure non-being:

better for not being born.