Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Terror by Grant Harbison

Terror thrives
Innocent lives
We want to kill
But the grace we were given is one of free will
Two wrongs have never made a right
History has proved that again and again
Evil is constantly tumbled
Every single empire has eventually crumbled
It may feel now that they have the world at their knees
But evil is just another disease
Religious fanaticism they is say is to blame
Have you forgotten the Irish?
They played the same fucking game
The problem with religion when it’s organised
Is more and more are compromised
Tunnel vision
“The opium of the masses,” said Karl Marx in his crusade against the classes. 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Humble pie by Grant Harbison

She smiled when I walked through the door
A quaint little place I’d visited many times before
“Good evening, sir,” she said. “The usual table?”
“Yes,” I replied. “Thank you, Mabel.”
With that fixed derisory smile
She said, “I haven’t seen you in quite a while.”
I hung my head in shame
And said, “It’s not always easy to take the blame.”
“Yes, that’s quite true,” she told me. “But as long as you realise that the fault lies with you.”
She led me to a table that was totally bare
Situated in the corner with a rickety chair
Devoid of cutlery and bill of fare
And with an inevitable sigh
I ordered a large slice of humble pie

Saturday, 6 May 2017

I walk alone by Grant Harbison

I walk alone
Desolate roads so bleak
Resolve diminished
Outlook firmly bleak
He who commands
Don’t think that He understands
Don’t think that He hears
Surely He must recognise anxieties and fears
But still
Those who thrive get the bitterest pill
And those who walk alone
Remain here still

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

White Slavery by Grant Harbison

So I stole a bit of bread
And the authorities were sayin’…”Hang him till he’s dead!”
It was just a piece and I didn’t need more
I even gave the crust to a needy whore
But mercy was absent on English shore
Their words filled me with dread
I was still a young man and didn’t want to be dead
My punishment was the whip
And then ripped from my family and put on a ship
God, Almighty. No more would I see them or go back to Blighty
Well, that was their way
Us lowers classes didn’t have a say
No say in it
The attitude of the upper class was really quite shit
We arrived
Not many survived
I was angry but I knew that I had to behave
 “You are now in Australia,” they told us when we arrived. “And you’ll be here until your grave!”
It might have had warm and sunny weather
But conditions drove us all to the end of our tether
And just men
Ship loads of them coming again and again
I needed to see a woman
This bloody punishment was completely Inhuman
And then I saw her at the end of the strand
The way that she was gesturing suggested command
Making sure no one was watching me
I wandered up the beach to see
We struggled a bit with communication
But the act of love needs no interpretation
I saw her every now and then
But I never breathed a word to the other men
Because in a land where there’s no escape
Even the good man might consider rape 

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The poacher by Grant Harbison

It’s the goodness of my soul that lets you live
But I am not God and I refuse to forgive
For your cruelty I cannot  comprehend
And on the grace of God you can only depend
Our Creator created the animal first
Not a toy for our blood thirst
In the beginning all was good
The hunt for that necessary food
Through time we should have grown
Yet our human existence has shown
When their world we so callously encroach
And when they turn to ours we viciously reproach
And poach
So beautiful is the wild
And so protective is the mother with child
For her life and her offspring just to spare
Evil doesn’t care
Poacher raises his gun
Smiles because he is having fun

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Subjugation by Grant Harbison

A man
No less
Furtive proclivity
Can’t suppress
A man
No more
Transformed behind the bedroom door
Hetero aberration
Alter ego’s subjugation
Satin and silk
Heels and lace
Cerise lips
And made up face
Desire attests life’s complexity
A contradiction
Compelled to concede to anomalous affliction
Devouring delicate manly pride
With the need to express the feminine side

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Choose life by Grant Harbison

I saw her there
Jocular eyes and long dark hair
And that perpetual air of devil may care
I was curious to know what was on her mind
Would she be cruel or would she be kind
Her reaction was not what I anticipated
As I was neither praised nor berated
Instead she offered me her hand
And I grasped it although I didn’t understand
Moments later I gasped in surprise
When I saw my life flash in front of my eyes
For the first time I really saw me
Seeing what I was and what I could be
Suddenly I had the urge to break free
To bask in this joy perpetually
My hopes began to soar
Until she stopped in front of a very large door
And whispered in my ear just before she went through
“First you have to be me before you can truly be you.” 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Foolish Pride by Grant Harbison

Stand aside foolish pride
For thou are but a burdensome thorn in my side
A millstone designed to make fools of men
Have not thee done that time and again?
With haughty superiority
Mocking man’s inferiority
Desiring to tempt
Thine power too persuasive to pre-empt
Stand aside I say
No longer will I allow thee to sway
For I do decree
Sagaciousness shall set me free
I am who I was meant to be
And with that willingness just to be me
Nothing more and nothing less
I shall pave that road to success 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Winter kills by Grant Harbison

She tosses and turns in her bed
So many thoughts inside her head
Keeping her awake
Winter brings that familiar ache
Of times gone by
Fighting the urge to cry
She takes a deep breath and lets out a sigh
Listening to the wind as it drives the rain
She stares at the droplets running down the window pane
It’s the empty season
Where melancholy needs no reason
And when the latter years are devoid of frills
And lonely has replaced desire and thrills
The prescription for life has the bitterest of pills
So easily and so callously
Winter kills

Friday, 14 April 2017

In the name of their God by Grant Harbison

They create their own killers for their belligerent God
Mind washing the brain of a hapless sod
Others lie and abuse
Devoid of compassion for those that they use
They create their own words
Not according to their Book
Knowing that most won’t even bother to look
They pretend it’s about love
When they instil minds with fear
Using that cliché that the world’s end is near
And if you don’t pray
Or see things their way
They’ll tell you about hell
And how you’re going to pay
It’s no wonder the world is in the mess that it’s in
For the Power is not external
The Power is within
Closer than we know and not high above
Without judgement and vengeance
Unconditional love
Yet still we allow
And to the charlatans we bow
Feeding their greed
Thinking that somehow that they might fulfil our need
Life might not be fair
And we need someone to care
But the perfect existence is so very rare
As we all have our troubles
Anxieties and woes
Without that the human soul never grows
Yes, we’ve had the great prophets in days of old
Great Messiahs and the stories they’ve told
But those great men who were born in the East
Have followers who have turned them into the biblical Beast
Convincing the masses to confess their sins
While in reality it’s only their power that wins
And still we are drawn
Like the chess opening pawn
To submit to the falsehoods of unscrupulous men
Repeating that process over and again
I just wish you could see
And know that you’re free
This is a world that belongs to you and me
Our Creator has given us His Almighty grace
For us to progress as a proud human race
And believe it or not
Or call me insane
But I know that I’ve been here again and again
It’s just a short journey from that Heavenly plane
Where love is abundant and no cries of pain

Monday, 10 April 2017

What I'd give by Grant Harbison

I’d give her the moon
And all the stars that shine
The universe too if only she were mine
I’d give her my heart and everything that I own
Make her my queen and give her my throne
I’d walk on coals and run through fires
Do anything her heart desires
I’d walk miles in the rain and sail through a storm
Just to keep her safe and keep her warm
Gifts of love I’d constantly shower
Attend to her needs every waking hour
Be utterly fearless and even risk my life
If only she’d agree to be my wife
I’d love her until my very last breath
And if there’s a chance to extend that love after death
I’d keep it stored deep inside
Until once again we meet on the other side

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Where we were and where we are by Grant Harbison

It had all started when we’d reached high school. In primary school we’d viewed girls differently. It’s not that we’d disliked them or anything. They had just done their own thing, like playing with skipping ropes, while we’d played football. I think in the last year of primary school we’d started to see them differently. Not ones to perpetually tease as we’d done in previous years, but ones that were making us feel more and more awkward. One in particular had grabbed our attention. Emily Sharpe was her name. She’d blossomed quicker than the other girls and some of the braver boys had often tried to get her attention.
It had been the day when we’d all started high school that the boys had really taken notice. I don’t know what had happened in the six weeks summer holiday that we’d had, but she’d appeared very different. It could have been the new hairstyle or the self-confident way she’d presented herself, but whatever it had been, she’d stirred an excitement in the boys that had never been present before. Soon some of the boys had even gotten into fist fights over her. But the winner had been Eddie Walker, captain of our junior football team and by far the fiercest of the first year students. Suddenly all my friends had taken likings to other girls in school, but the whole thing had mortified me and my life had been turned upside down. I hadn’t been a weakling or anything like that. I’d played in the school junior football team, and I’d never once backed down when it had come to a scrap on the playground. But the thought of even speaking to a girl, let alone trying to chat one up, had utterly terrified me.
My friends had immediately noticed and had teased me mercilessly about it for a while, but soon they’d got bored with it and I’d been left alone. Alone had been the word. I’d never felt so alone in my life. Before that, most weekends had been spent playing sport, riding skateboards and generally getting up to boyish pranks.
Now everything had changed and weekends were for taking a girl to see a movie or meeting up at the dances that had been held at the local youth club on Friday and Saturday nights.
To say that I’d become bored at weekends would have been an understatement. Sitting in my room on Saturday nights watching videos had been amusing to begin with, but eventually I’d gotten very lonely and had waited patiently for the weekend to end so that I could get together with friends and play a bit of football.
One Saturday evening, as I’d been prepared to put a video in the machine, my mother had knocked on my bedroom door.
“Laurie!” she’d cried.
“Yeah, mum!”
“Steve and Brian are here to see you.”
I’d opened my bedroom door, and there had stood my mates and players in our football team.
“Hi,” I’d greeted. “What’s up?”
“Get ready, Laurie. You’re coming out with us,” Steve had replied. “You can’t stay at home by yourself every weekend.”
“No, I’d much rather stay in,” I’d said.
“Don’t be silly,” Brian had said. “How are you going to meet girls if you spend every weekend at home?”
“I don’t know,” I’d replied.
“Then it’s settled,” Steve had said. “Go get showered and dressed. You are coming with us.”
Reluctantly I’d done that and had gone with them to the local youth club. For most of the night, I’d sat alone in the corner, with paper cups of coke in my hand, which I’d occasionally top up with vodka Brian had managed to sneak inside. I’d just topped up another cup, and had smiled when my favourite song at the time had started playing. Although all my friends had been up dancing with their girlfriends most of the night, leaving me alone most of the time, I’d found some small comfort in the vodka and music. Lost in thought, I hadn’t noticed Melanie Anderson appear in front of me.
“Hi, Laurie,” she’d greeted.
“Hi, Melanie,” I’d responded somewhat nervously.
I had liked Melanie. She was very intelligent and probably the only girl in class who had ever spoken to me.
“Do you want to dance?” she’d asked me.
“I…er…” I’d stammered.
“Don’t worry, I understand,” she’d said, smiling broadly at me. “Can I sit here with you?”
“Yeah,” I’d responded, feeling my heart beat very fast.
My initial nerves had soon dissipated when I’d found out that her interests were very similar to mine and how easy she was to talk to. Soon we’d been talking like we’d known each other for years. That’s when my hell had begun, as Eddie and Emily Sharpe had suddenly appeared in front of us.
“Well, if it isn’t sorry Laurie and meek little Melanie,” she’d mocked.
“Oh, come on, Emily!” Eddie had cried. “Laurie is the star striker for our team.”
Emily rolled her eyes. “Let’s go,” she’d said. “I don’t want to be seen with losers.”
Melanie had merely patted my leg when Emily and Eddie had gone. “Don’t worry about her, Laurie,” she’d said. “One day she will be the loser.”
I hadn’t been able to understand that at the time. Emily had been the most popular girl at school amongst the first years, and Eddie had been the captain of the football team.
How could she ever lose? I’d asked myself.
That had been the start of my hell at school. It had been occasional remarks to begin with, but had soon escalated into something else.
“Ooh, Mr Clever clogs,” she’d mocked whenever I’d answered a teacher’s question.
Although she’d been reprimanded several times, it hadn’t stopped her continuing. Melanie had told me that I should just ignore her, as one day we’d all be out of high school, and that I’d never have to worry about her anymore. I’d found it hard to see it that way, as the laughter at her remarks had started coming from guys who were supposed to be my friends.
One day I’d managed to pluck up the courage and confront her.
“What is it you have against me?” I’d asked her.
“Everything and nothing,” she’d replied as she’d walked away with her friends laughing hysterically.
Worst was to come when the name, ‘Sorry Laurie’, she’d given me had stuck. Now everyone in our year had begun to refer to me with the same name. I’d been miserable. Not even Melanie’s sympathy had been able to console me, and worst of all it had affected my performance on the football field, causing much scorn from my teammates, eventually leading to me being dropped from the team altogether.
My life had been in ruins, and if it hadn’t been for Melanie’s help, my schoolwork would have probably suffered too.
Over the years, I’d suffered the torments, but in our last year at school, I’d seen some hope, knowing that I’d never see most of them again. Melanie and I had started out as friends, but our relationship had blossomed quickly because of everything that had happened. We’d promised each other that we’d always be together, and as the days had gone by and our time at school was almost done, we’d known that we’d known that we’d be rid of the torment and that university was just around the corner.
Two months before we’d graduated, Melanie had been attacked by Emily and her gang. She’d received multiple cuts and bruises and a head wound that had caused concussion. I’d rushed to the hospital every night and had sat with her parents holding her hand, feeling a love that I’d never felt before.
Emily and a few of her friends had been arrested and had subsequently been expelled from school. My main concern had been for Melanie at the time, and to my relief, she’d been back to normal within a few weeks. Even having missed so much schooling, Melanie had graduated with good grades like me.
Years later, after she’d qualified as a doctor, and I’d become a lecturer at the university, we’d gotten married and had two children.
Life was great and we’d to put those years behind us, even laughing about how trivial it had now become. Walking down the street one day, I’d heard a voice as I’d passed the doorway of a shop that had long closed down. The voice was like a croak, but I’d instantly recognised it. I’d turned to see Emily, dressed in rags and shaking a paper cup with change inside.
“Got some change, mister,” she’d asked not even recognising me.
“Emily?’ I’d said.
She’d stared at me for a few moments and then I’d seen something spark in her eyes.
“Laurie,” she’d said almost tenderly.
“Yeah, it’s me,” I’d replied, strangely feeling sorry for her at that moment.
“Got some change?” she’d asked.
I’d shaken my head and had walked away, but I hadn’t been able to leave it like that and had turned back.
“Why did you hate me so much?” I’d asked her. “I’d never done you any wrong.”
“Oh, sorry Laurie,” she’d said and had given me an almost toothless grin. “I never hated you. I loved you,’ she’d replied.
Feeling an extreme sadness, I’d taken a wad of notes from my wallet and had given her. “Take care, Emily,” I’d said before I’d walked away.  

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Jean Genie . A short story by Grant Harbison

The Jean genie. A short story by Grant Harbison

The metamorphosis is happening, so I’d better get started. What I have to say might sound like the utterings of a raving lunatic, and believe me, when the insanity had started, I had questioned my own sanity. Whether you believe what I’m about to tell you or not is entirely up to you, but I can assure that it is entirely true. Thank goodness I still have an old cassette recorder and a few blank cassettes that I’d bought at a jumble sale a few months before he’d turned my world upside down. I do have this proclivity for collecting out-dated items such as these. What I’d never imagined was how useful it would turn out to be. As usual, my wife hadn’t been impressed, and who could have blamed her. Just more clutter to add to the existing junk that I had stored in the garage. Well, that’s all gone now. Apart from an old mattress, a million or so Monopoly notes that I have packed in boxes, a blow up doll and a matchbox toy Ferrari, the cassette recorder and cassettes are the only items that I have left in this world. Even she has gone. She’d left shortly after the madness had started. Even friends had stopped coming by, and having been raised in an orphanage, I have no other relations that I know of. I suppose I’d better hurry this along. I’m shrinking at an alarming rate and very soon my voice will be no more than a barely audible squeak. So, let me tell you how everything had started.
It’d been Christmas last year and also my thirty fifth birthday. My wife and I had invited friends over to celebrate and she’d prepared the traditional feast. Afterwards we’d all exchanged gifts. Nothing expensive; more the ‘it’s the thought that counts’ kind of gifts like alcohol and chocolates. It was the gift that my friend, John, had given me that’d had me intrigued.
Knowing how much I enjoyed a good red wine, and having been on a recent trip to France with his wife, Patsy, I’d kind of guessed what it would be before I’d unwrapped the present. It wasn’t the 1996 Bordeaux that’d fascinated me, but more the unusual spiral shape of the bottle. I’d thanked him and had put it in the rack with the rest of my collection.
It wasn’t until months later that I’d decided to open the bottle. Stephanie and I had chosen to have a quiet meal at home to celebrate our tenth anniversary, and after we’d finished preparing the food, I’d taken the bottle out of the rack and two glasses from the cupboard. That’s when it had all started. For when I’d removed the cork with a corkscrew, a thick vapour had emanated from the bottle, hung in the air for a few moments, before floating out of the room. Not only that, but the bottle had felt much lighter than when I’d taken it from the rack, as if there was nothing inside it. Confused, I’d tilted the bottle to fill the glasses, but as I’d surmised, the bottle was empty.
“Is there something wrong, love?” Stephanie had asked when she’d seen the look of amazement on my face.
I’d been too flabbergasted to speak.
“Robert?” she’d said with a look of concern.
“There’s nothing inside,” I’d managed to blurt out.
“What do you mean there’s nothing inside?” she’d asked. “I know John has a liking for practical jokes, but giving an empty bottle as a Christmas present, would be pretty inconsiderate, even for him.”
“But that’s just it,” I’d said. “The bottle wasn’t empty. It was full when I took it from the rack.”
I’d gone on to tell her about the strange vapour that had exuded from the bottle when I’d opened it, but she’d just shaken her head and sent me out to buy another bottle. I’d returned with a bottle of claret, and we’d settled down to a delicious prawn curry.
Afterwards, we’d gone to shower, made love and drifted off to sleep. It’d been around two in the morning when I’d heard the noise. It was a scratching noise that had come from inside the wardrobe. At first I’d thought that I was imagining it, but when I’d heard it again, I’d got up to investigate. When I’d opened the wardrobe doors and had seen the miniature person pop out and scurry across the room, I’d fallen backwards to the floor in alarm. The noise had immediately awoken Stephanie and she’d been up like a shot.
“Robert, are you okay?” she’d asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“The man,” had been all I’d been able to say.
“What man?” she’d asked, looking very perturbed.
“A little man,” I’d replied.
“What little man?”
“He ran out of the cupboard,” I’d replied as I’d looked around the room.
“I think you’d better come back to bed, love,” she’d said. “And I think it’s time that you considered taking some time off work.”
“Yeah, you may be right,” I’d responded as I’d picked myself up from the floor.
I’d taken her advice and had put in for a week’s leave. For the first two days, everything had been normal and I’d managed to get things done during the day that she’d been nagging me to do for months. On the third day, having completed all my tasks, I’d grabbed a beer from the fridge, and watched some music DVD’s that I hadn’t seen in ages. During a song by David Bowie, I’d felt a presence behind me, and when I’d turned around, I’d screamed when I’d seen the huge man behind me.
“Monsieur, do not be alarmed,” he’d said in heavily accented English.
I’d stared at the monstrous figure unable to speak. It should have been hilarious, as he’d had that look of the stereotypical Frenchman with the jersey, thin moustache and beret. All that had been missing was the string of onions around his neck.  
“Who are you?” I’d managed to stammer.
“Jean Genie.”
“I’m going out of my mind,” I’d yelled and rubbed my eyes, thinking that I’d drifted off to sleep and was experiencing some kind of bad dream.
“No, Monsieur, you are perfectly fine. You have freed me and now it’s time for me to grant you three wishes,” he’d told me with a huge grin on his face.
This can’t be happening, was what had being going through my mind at that particular moment.
“Pardon, monsieur, I know this must be a shock for you, but I’m duty bound to grant you those three wishes.
Somehow I’d managed to gain some composure, and had decided to humour him. I hadn’t seen any harm in it as I’d still been convinced that he was all in my mind.
“Okay,” I’d said. “Give me tons of money, a beautiful brunette, and a very expensive car.”
“Merci, monsieur,” he’d said. “Tomorrow when you wake, your wishes will have been granted. But I must warn you that all wishes granted must be granted to someone else when the change has happened.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I’d responded, thinking that I should have an early night and sleep as long as possible.
The following day I’d woken to Stephanie’s screaming, and when I’d come to my senses, I’d seen the enormous amount of board game money on the floor. That hadn’t been the worst of it, as in between my wife and I had been an inflatable doll, and next to my pillow I’d spotted a matchbox car, similar to the toy ones my father had once had.
“What is all this?” Stephanie had yelled.
“I’m not sure,” I’d answered. “I can only assume that it must have been the genie.”
“The genie? Have you gone stark raving mad, Robert?’
“I thought I was, but…”
“But what?”
“I do think that the man has a sense of humour.”
“What man?” she’d yelled.
“The little man I told you about,” I’d answered. “He’s pretty tall now.”
“Robert, you need help,” she’d said and picked up the inflatable doll. “And what’s this? Am I not good enough for you?”
I’d tried to explain, but the more I’d spoken had just made it worse. Within three days, she’d left, taking most of the house contents with her.  He’d appeared once again three days later.
“I suppose you find this bloody funny!” I’d shouted at him.
“You are not pleased with your wishes?” he’d asked innocently.
“Of course I’m not pleased!” I’d responded irately. “That wasn’t what I asked for.”
“Oh, monsieur, that was exactly what you asked for,’ he’d said and chortled. “Maybe you should have been more specific.”
Feeling an anger that I’d never felt before, I’d rushed towards him with arms outstretched, aiming to grab him by the throat, But as I’d gotten closer, he’d disappeared. Moments later, he’d reappeared in the corner of the room.
“The change will happen soon,” he’d told me. “When the time is right for you to enter the bottle, I will be here to seal it. Au revoir, monsieur.”
“Wait!” I’d cried, but he’d disappeared into thin air.
At first the change had been very subtle. One inch every few days. But now it is happening faster and faster, and soon I’ll be smaller than my pinky finger. All I ask is for you to listen, and open the bottle when you find it, whether you believe what I’ve said or not.