Sunday Salon

I haven’t posted any reviews since last year… for a good while actually. All these reviews are on Goodreads, but I am still not having much luck with Amazon. I reviewed ‘Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive…’ last year and Amazon rejected it. I submitted my review for Dog Bone Soup yesterday and the rejection email came back in ten minutes! The other two reviews I submitted today, but have yet to hear back.

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I’m starting with the poems of Frank Prem, because the fires in Australia have been on all our minds. He has been posting new poems about living in fear and smoke and I have put a link to one of his recent blogs.

Devil In The Wind by Frank Prem

When I started reading Devil In The Wind I couldn’t have imagined that the latest fires in Australia were going to build up to the most terrible conflagration ever known. Frank Prem’s unique style of poetry tells of the 2009 Black Saturday in Victoria. His opening dedication says ‘For all those affected by wildfire. May our love for the bush remain, while our hearts grow ever more resilient.’ Words needed more than ever.

As soon as I started reading, the voices were real; what people saw, trying to explain how it happened. His brief lines, often just one word, no punctuation or capital letters, tell the story perfectly ‘…anyway … out of the smoke came a sort of convoy…’   ‘she could see the glow from over murmungee way…’

This is the second book I have read by the author and I am looking forward to reading his third volume. Looking back at the words of Devil In The Wind I find myself reading it again. 5 Stars

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/111750606/posts/29533

 

Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car:: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark

Kindle Edition
by Jo Elizabeth Pinto (Author)

We all love to peek into other people’s real lives and I expect most of us who are sighted played that game when we were children, screwing your eyes tight shut to imagine what it is like to be blind. Computers have made the world more accessible for the visually impaired, as long as they have the right technology, but this author tells us about the domestic side of life, shopping, cooking and caring for a child. The title came about when the young daughter was envied because her mother was allowed to bring her dog into school. The teacher asked what it was like to have a blind mother; silly question because the child knew nothing else, but this little girl sounds a very sparky character and replied ‘Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive The Car’. The short episodes from the lives of the mother and daughter are told with humour and the problems faced are not always the disability, but other people’s attitudes. A big positive side is the time together; walking everywhere means time to talk and a child looking about her so she can describe the world to her mother. How much better than being stuck in the back of a car. Most of us find it hard to cope with a lively toddler. This book mainly covers 8 and 9 years old, I would love to read about the early years. 5 Stars

 

DOG BONE SOUP (Historical Fiction): A Boomer’s Journey Kindle Edition
by Bette Stevens (Author)

If you are not from the USA or have never been there you will surely know this country through the eyes of your television set. Starting with Hollywood and moving on to the television era this was the first country to project an image to the English speaking world and beyond. By the fifties and sixties other countries were catching up with television, but most of us will have grown up with American programmes, funny or glossy. As adults we know life is not always as portrayed on television. The story of Shawn and his family is totally captivating. Poverty is relative; if everybody is in the same boat there is no shame. Shawn’s family are struggling to eat, no running water, but they have a television set. Most children at their local school are living the good life portrayed on television. The late fifties and early sixties were prosperous, the space age had started, but not everyone was sharing the good times. For everyone there will be the shock of Kennedy’s assassination. Shawn as the eldest has to use all his ingenuity to keep the family going. This is also a universal story that happens in every time and place; the woman who soon finds out she’s married a loser, alcohol leads to domestic violence. The story wisely starts and ends with Shawn leaving to join the army; a poignant ending because he has achieved his aim, but at what price with Vietnam surely his destination?
5 Stars

 

The Chalky Sea by Clare Flynn

Two lives and two stories, people torn apart by war and brought together. The author has written engagingly about life during the war for ordinary people and the ironies; soldiers signing up to fight then finding themselves in limbo. There is the unique situation that usually only comes with war, when some couples were separated for years, not every soldier got to come home on leave; some are lucky, some families won’t survive the war, let alone see each other again. 4 Stars

 

If you enjoy crime fiction and television adaptations take a look at yesterday’s Silly Saturday.

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Here is the reply Amazon sent me for Dog Bone Soup

Thank you for submitting a customer review on Amazon. After carefully reviewing your submission, your review could not be posted to the website. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:
Amazon Community Guidelines

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A few common issues to keep in mind:

Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at http://www.amazon.co.uk/feedback.
We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.
Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.
Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.
Any attempt to manipulate Community content or features, including contributing false, misleading or inauthentic content, is strictly prohibited.

UPDATE

Today, Tuesday, I received the same rejection e-mails for Devil In The Wind and The Chalky Sea.

The Wonder of Wetherspoons

Christmas and Culture in Margate

We spent Christmas with Team H in Margate and as Team AK were also coming down we volunteered to stay at the Premier Inn.

Premier Inn is a British hotel chain and the UK’s largest hotel brand, with more than 72,000 rooms and 800 hotels.

On our various trips and breaks we do stay at blogworthy bed and breakfasts and hotels of character and weirdness, but Premier Inns are a good choice if the location is handy. You know what to expect; the rooms are big enough, the beds comfortable and everything is purple. The Margate Premier Inn is by the railway station, looks out to sea and the walk to the home of Team H takes us within view of many cultural landmarks.

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We have stayed a good few times and never had a room with a sea view, this time we did, but the view was blocked by the air conditioning unit on top of the Brewer’s Fayre pub and restaurant below. But the winter afternoon was drawing in and it was time to check in with the rest of the family, then back to the sea front for another family tradition – dinner at Wetherspoons.

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J D Wetherspoon plc is a pub company in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Founded in 1979 by Tim Martin, the company operates nearly 900 pubs and a growing number of Wetherspoon hotels. The company is known for converting unconventional yet attractive premises into pubs.

Another chain where you know what to expect, Tim is obviously a chap who, unlike most politicians, cottoned on to what people want. Cheap pub food, refillable coffee cups, meals served from morning till night and a relaxed place where you can take your granny or your grandchild. As you order at the bar, or with your smart phone, you can wander in and out for a handy loo visit or perhaps hang out all day. The added bonus for writers is that you can watch all sorts of people and for photographers many of the branches are in amazing buildings rescued from neglect. Another interesting fact; it is claimed that every Wetherspoon has a different pattern of carpet, inspired by the location and specially woven; you can even buy a book about them.

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The Margate Wetherspoon has just been refurbished and now boasts comfy booths where you can charge up your various electronic gadgets. The walls are adorned with framed snippets of the town’s history. It is called The Mechanical Elephant, recalling the creature that used to give rides along the promenade in the 1950’s. This little bit of history inspired my short story ‘Thanephant an Elephantasy’ which was included in Thanet Writers’ anthology ‘Shoal’.

On Christmas Eve morning it was time to return to Wetherspoons for breakfast, but first another cultural landmark. At this end of the main sands is the Victorian Nayland Rock shelter. In the late Autumn of 1921, the bank clerk poet T.S. Eliot came to Margate on doctor’s orders to convalesce. He was in a fragile state physically and mentally and took a tram to sit on the seafront every day. While looking out at the expanse of grey water, watching children playing and war veterans exercising on the beach, he drafted part of The Waste Land.

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“On Margate Sands/ I can connect/ Nothing with nothing/”
I have to confess I haven’t read The Wasteland, but I have just downloaded it onto my Kindle for 99pence.

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Margate is on the Isle of Thanet, a real island until a few hundred years ago. It is on the east coast of Kent, but actually faces north across the Thames Estuary, so the sea can be grey on a grey day. The first day trippers used to come by steamer down the Thames.
On Christmas Eve morning the sun had come out and on the beach we saw the new attraction, a recreated bathing machine; the steam arising from the roof gives a clue to its secret, it is actually a sauna. I was almost envious of the chap emerging from the sea to clamber inside.

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Near the Mechanical Elephant is Dreamland. Amusements have been on this site since 1880, it was first called Dreamland in 1920 when the Grade 2 listed Scenic Railway wooden rollercoaster was opened. After going into decline early this century and being closed down there was a public campaign to restore the park and it re-opened in June 2015.

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Dreamland’s morale has been greatly boosted by the opening of the Turner Contemporary Gallery in 2011, bringing a big buzz to the town. Cheap property prices and a fast train route to London have brought artists and fresh blood into the town – DFLs Down From London. The gallery is built on the spot by the harbour where the painter JMW Turner’s landlady had her boarding house.

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At the end of last year the Turner Prize took place in Margate, the four artists exhibited at the gallery and the award ceremony was held in the Hall-by-the-Sea in Dreamland. It was an unprecedented event as the prize was shared between the four artists.

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Our Christmas break finished with a family breakfast at Brewer’s Fayre. If you are staying at Premiere Inn and want breakfast this is where you go, sneaking in a secret door at the back…

Brewers Fayre is a licensed pub restaurant chain, with 161 locations across the UK, known for serving traditional British pub food and for their Sunday Carvery.

There are several advantages to be enjoyed, refillable coffee cups, up to two children under fifteen can eat for free at the breakfast buffet and there is a soft play area where your toddler can end up well beyond reach and stuck there forever unless you persuade him to come down in the slide tube. If your child is a strapping fourteen year old they will be too big for soft play, but can eat twice as much as the adults for free!

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Where do you like to stay when you are away? How many doctors these days advise their patients to go on holiday to convalesce and write?

Part of my novel ‘At The Seaside Nobody Hears You Scream’ is set in Margate.

Silly Saturday – Sing a Song of Sixpence

While others cherish all their lives and quote verses from the world’s great poets and song writers, some of us have only childish or banal words and tunes fixed in our brains. I can’t remember what was on the shopping list I left at home, but can recall all the verses of Sing a Song of Sixpence.

My uncle made strange songs up that I still remember. ‘There was a song that I recall, my mother sang to me, she sang it as she tucked me in when I was ninety three’ –  (to the tune of the Christmas carol God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen ). It wasn’t till years later, when I heard old recordings of The Goon Show, that I realised he had borrowed that and other great works such as ‘ying tong, ying tong, ying tong…

What geniuses are they who write complete rubbish that will stay in our brains forever? They should be celebrated, though they can cause havoc. How many great operatic singers have had their career destroyed when, despite having memorised the libretto and rehearsed the sublime music, they open their mouths for the famous aria only to sing Bill and Ben, Bill and Ben, Bill and Ben, Bill and Ben, Flower Pot Men.

The best music can be stolen and abused; Tony Hancock in the classic comedy episode ‘The Blood Donor’ sang the words of the poster on the wall to the tune of the German national anthem, it is also a stirring hymn tune, but the words stuck in my head are ‘Coughs and Sneezes Spread diseases’.

When we were new migrants to Australia the Mavis Bramston Show was the first satirical sketch show to gain success on television there. Topics included the then controversial building of the Sydney Opera House, but the sketch seared in my mind forever had the song ‘Go to the tip, go to the tip, all the Australians go to the tip’. This struck a chord with our family as Dad was very good at creating useful things from scrap found at the municipal rubbish tip; it still comes into my head every time we go to the tip.

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Not all verses I remember are worthless, though I hated learning poetry in infant school I have never forgotten the prayer we sang at the end of the day when we had put our chairs on the desks. Thankyou for the world so sweet, thankyou for the food we eat, thankyou for the birds that sing, thankyou God for everything.  A simple verse that could replace all the world’s religions and please environmentalists.

Some of my remembered ditties are useful; also at infant school we learned the alphabet song. I know adults who still are unsure of the alphabet, but for me the letters are firmly entrenched as four parts ABCDEFG, HIJKLMN, OPQRSTU, VWXYZed.  Never superseded by the Sesame Street version ending in Zee.

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But let’s get back to the something silly. My brother had a story book with one of the characters a rag doll who was always losing her stuffing and when she did, all she could say was Piggle Poggle. Oh Piggle Poggle, became a family saying whenever anything went wrong. What a brilliant replacement for angry swear words and what if politicians  just said Piggle Poggle when confronted with national disasters.

Children are still being imbued with the inane. Why on earth did I wake up one night with the words ‘Hello Tombliboos’ in my head? Watching too many episodes of The Night Garden? The Night Garden does have very soothing music, perhaps we should all watch it before going to bed.

Perhaps on our death beds, eyes closed, with relatives uttering meaningful words in case we are listening, the last music in our heads, the last words we try to utter will be such music greats as ‘Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat and his black and white cat…’

Sunday Salon

I have been catching up with my book reviews; two novels, a poetry anthology and two novellas / short stories. Authors from England, the USA and Australia. Yeshiva Girl was the novel that stood out for me and I was delighted that Amazon posted my review after my recent experiences. I post all my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, you can see Amazon’s response to Finding David, but I have not yet heard back from Amazon on the other three. So the mystery continues; I and other reviewers have concluded it could be the rule that you must have spent £50, or fifty of something in your own currency, in one year to be able to leave a review. As Amazon allows authors to sell their e-books for as little as 99 pence this does not make sense. Nor does it make sense they accept a review for one book and not another. In the meantime, enjoy a look at five very different books and writers.

 

Yeshiva Girl by Rachel Mankowitz

 5.0 out of 5 stars A novel that will stay with me.

12 August 2019

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

I came across this novel after reading a review by another English blogger. I thought if an English agnostic chap could be so moved by a story of a New York Jewish girl it must be special. I went over to read the author’s blog and was even more keen to read. Being a teenager involves lots of angst wherever you live, with the pressures of school, friends and awakening sexuality. If you also lived in a tight community and had dark secrets how would you cope? I am fascinated with closed communities of any sort and I really felt I had an insight into the hows and whys of the orthodox way of life. Teenagers are attracted to the security of belonging to a group and some of the teenagers in this story wanted to follow a strict orthodox life, not just because their parents had put them in that position. In the meantime, our heroine is trying to make sense of her parents’ and grandparents’ lives and she is trying to tell people what happened to her. Gradually she reveals to the reader.

 

Life and Other Dreams by Richard Dee

What does happen when we dream; as far as I know, no one is sure, but most of us don’t keep returning to the same dream. I was soon wrapped up in Rick’s story and Dan’s life on a planet in the future which was totally realistic. Each story was so involving the reader might forget about the other side, but both lives get more complicated and the two worlds are brought together dramatically. This is the first novel I have read by this author, but I would look forward to reading more.

 

 Small Town Kid  by Frank Prem

This is the first time I have downloaded poetry onto my Kindle. I had read some of the author’s verses on line which led me to buy this and his following collection.  The verse, without punctuation, words kept to a minimum, is liberating. I was gently lulled into the first poem, setting the scene for a quiet country town. Delicious cooking, a wedding, church on Sunday, but suddenly a letter changes Sundays. Then there is a picnic, a picnic bigger than most of us have known. All life is here including the outhouse.  The boy grows, school, seasons, school report, growing up, the town changes with modern life, friends lost and in the last verse closing the circle.

 

Finding David by Stevie Turner

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Finding David: A Paranormal Short Story ★★★★★   from Janet Gogerty on 15 August 2019
 
Not your usual missing person story.
 
People go missing all the time; when a child goes missing it’s every parent’s nightmare and never knowing can perhaps be worse. The author turns the usual missing person story on its head. Would you talk to a psychic, would you trust them? Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, would you take the chance of ignoring a loved one trying to contact you from the other side? We are soon swept along in this novella and the reader is not sure who to trust, nor is David’s mother Karen as her marriage is threatened.
 
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  • Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at www.amazon.co.uk/feedback.
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Samantha

I was interested to see what other reviewers wrote. This is a short story that races along, but it needs better formatting to do it justice. When a different character speaks the dialogue should start on a new line to make easier reading.

A dark tale that does have a positive ending, but is not a fairy tale, realistically it does not just end happily ever after. I would have loved to have seen the latter part of the story developed as the main characters have more to offer and we would like to see more of how Samantha put the past behind her.

 

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Penny the Poet

sunshine-blogger

Today I have a new guest blogger, Penny the Poet

Penny is one of my local writer friends and we have both been going to the same writers’ group forever. Penny amuses, entertains and makes us think. She can say in a few words what most of us take thousands of words to say. ‘The Lesson’ reminds me of a folk ballad.

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   THE LESSON

I must believe that he, my son, was good

He never lied, nor spoke a bawdy word.

He’d sit against a tree in yonder wood

And whistle in response to every bird

That dared to sing its song to one so still

Then fly away up and around the trees,

Able to soar and swoop at its own will

To each and every place where no-one sees

The mating rituals which, when touched by spring

The birds delight in what each union brings.

 

My son was just like all the birds that fly

He’d spread his wings in haste to find a mate

Betrothed, which often he’d deny

Playing with fire until it was too late.

Each maid in spring with rosy cheeks

And breasts that rose and fell, filled him with lust

Succumb she would in days and not in weeks

His true love unaware he was unjust

Till when his elsewhere pleasures reached her ears

He burnt his fingers on her pain and thus her tears.

 

My son now lies beneath the oak

In yonder churchyard bathed in sun.

He begged forgiveness for he broke

His true love’s heart and was undone.

A maid now carries my son’s child.

Her father, spitting feathers killed

With arrow swift my son so wild.

Lustful, carefree and strong willed

He played with fire, his fingers burned.

No longer loved and lesson learned.

 

Penny Cull     2019

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Friday Flash Fiction – 345 – Little Weed

LITTLE WEED, THE LONG YEARS OF ABUSE

The old gardener’s hands trembled as he picked up the newspaper from the door mat. He slipped out to his potting shed as he heard Mrs. Gardener coming down the stairs.

He laid the paper on the old bench, sunlight barely filtered through the cobwebbed windows, but it was enough to read the main article.

Detectives from Operation Motherwatch are investigating claims that Little Weed was abused for years by one or more flowerpot men. The identity of the flowerpot men is not known, but they have been named locally as Bill and Ben.

The shock allegations follow on from last week’s claims that Looby Loo was abused by both Andy Pandy and Teddy. If Little Weed’s claims are true it will be the first time a plant has made such a serious allegation.

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The gardener had never believed people who said they did not know what was going on, now he had to come to terms with the fact that he knew nothing about what was going on at the bottom of his own garden. But surely Bill and Ben were innocent, perhaps it was some other flowerpot men… Little Weed could be vindictive, she was not the shrinking violet people thought. If only he knew where she was now. It was all Alan Titchmarsh’s fault. The Gardener had come back from recording Gardeners’ Question Time to discover his wife had arranged a makeover; only the potting shed remained. Gone were the greenhouse, vegetable beds, earthenware pots; all replaced by decking. And gone too was Little Weed. Mrs. Gardener was always jealous of the plant, said he talked to her more than his own wife… perhaps that was true… she was no ordinary weed, the first weed to appear on BBC Television and there had been none like her since… She was tough, a survivor, he was thankful she was still alive, but why now, why such allegations now, after all this time? And if it was true, was it Bill or was it Ben?

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Thoughtless Thursday – the antidote to Valentine’s Day

Forgotten it’s Valentine’s Day, can’t be bothered with all the hype? All you need is scissors and glue and old greeting cards to cut up. Make your own card then copy these verses. No need to buy a gift as it will be obvious from the words of the poem that the loved one won’t be expecting any.

 

 

I never buy you flowers in a bunch,

Or your favourite box of chocolates to munch,

I always forget to take you to lunch.

 

But you don’t need those things to know

You’re the one to whom I go

When my heart is full of woe.

 

I never tell you how much I care.

To make up poems I do not dare.

Expressions of emotion are rare.

 

So I made this card

To explain how hard

It is to say I love you.

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Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Poetry

Kite

The flight of a kite

Is a glorious sight

As it reaches great height

To the watcher’s delight.

 

On the Isle of Wight

It’s quite a sight

To show your might

In the annual kite flight.

 

At the regular site

They hold their strings tight,

Fly blue, red and white

If the wind is just right.

 

The rules some will cite

As day turns to night…

His kite was too light

Her cords were not right.

 

The flight of a kite

Is a glorious sight

As it reaches great height

To the winner’s delight.

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How long is a poem, how long is a piece of string?

With more than 220000 (100000 shloka or couplets) verses and about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahābhārata is the longest epic poem in the world.

The early English epic poem Beowulf comes to just over 3,000 lines, while Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner runs to 625 lines.

But there is no need to write lots of words and lines, follow this simple plan. Think of one word, write down as many words as you can that rhyme with it… then start writing without thinking too deeply…

 

For more poetry cheats visit Chapter Six at my website…

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-six-fiction-focus/

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Who am I?

At my beginning unnoticed,

Disturbing a few blades of grass.

At my departure miles wide,

Or so it seems to those who pass.

 

Older than any empire,

I’ve watched over cities and towns.

Crossed by legions, traversed by millions,

So often I’ve changed my bounds.

 

I am the setting for history,

For politics and power.

Painted and prosed by the famous,

Unfortunates dreaded my tower.

 

I’ve sucked down many to their deaths,

That was never my intention.

Gentle meadows are what I love,

Not man’s intervention.

 

The city turned me dark,

Hemmed me in with squalor and hate.

I’ve been loched, bombed and tunnelled,

Till my very bed vibrates.

 

My fortunes like tides fall and rise,

Stories captured for many to tell.

Painted by Turner, Canaletto,

Written by Dickens, Jerome and Wells.

 

I dream of a spring in the meadow,

And wonder am I still me,

As my banks sink and salt currents swirl

And I’m swallowed by The North Sea.

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Silly Saturday – Finding The End of The Rainbow

Reginald loved painting

Adored colours

Inspired by what he saw

Never stopped trying to create

Beautiful pictures

Of all the colours in the

World

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RED ladies dancing gracefully

ORANGE  shades of autumn trees

YELLOW downy hair of his baby son

GREEN turbulent seascapes

BLUE skies with Constable clouds

INDIGO flowers in his garden

VIOLET vivacious surrealist shapes

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Robert took photographs

Anytime, anywhere, anything

Integrated technology

New digital camera

Beautiful images

Of the real and unreal

Wonderful colours created by the computer

Salisbury Cathedral

RED balloons in the sky

ORANGE flowers magnified

YELLOW striped bumblebees

GREEN rolling hills and fields

BLUE racing cars

INDIGO  eyes of lovely ladies

VIOLET twilit skies

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Reginald regularly exhibited

At shows and displays

In galleries and art rooms, but

No one bought a single scene

Browsing, gazing, frowning, smiling, leaving. If

Only, thought Reginald, I could see the

World and find more colours.

 

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Paint the perfect picture, try a new

Approach

Investigate

New colours

Try to find THE END OF THE RAINBOW

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Photos are the way, said Robert

Acquire a computer, find a new

Interest, begged his wife,

Never leave us, but Reginald

Took his leave

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RED desserts he crossed

ORANGE robed monks he met

YELLOW sunrises beckoned him

GREEN turbulent seas carried him towards the horizon

BLUE southern skies warmed him

INDIGO light on the mountain top dazzled him

VIOLET flower that bloomed once in a lifetime, pierced his heart, but still he

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Roamed on and on

Around the world

Into the wilderness

Never giving up hope of finding

Better colours

On the other side of the sky

Wondering if the end of the arc lay there

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RED tinted clouds

ORANGE sun

YELLOW rays

GREEN waters

BLUE raindrops

IDIGO mist

VIOLET shimmer

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Pausing, praying

Reginald asked for

Insight

Saw his

Maker, who said

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Remain still

Avert your eyes, do not go

Into the colours, But

Nearer he went

Brighter and brighter

Onwards in

Wonder

 

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Gazing at the shimmering spot where the

Rainbow burned into the

Earth, darkness fell on his soul and he saw a

Yawning chasm where all was GREY

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God spoke to

Reginald. I showed you all the colours of the

Earth, but still you asked for more. Go

Yonder and see no more.

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