Poetry

Reawakening

It’s a firecracker with karate oomph.

 

No lace involved at this point.

No webs spun, no leaf skeletons

to be collected, analysed, stamped.

 

It took a while to create the right mix

of mineral and powder,

testing and re-testing until the colours were held high,

shouting, ‘we are to return to our maiden voyage.

We are to return

to the sea and its torrents, its salt and seaweed

and the lights of anglerfish in its belly.

 

We are to fight the storms and ride them through

until the calm

spreads her fingers across the surface

and we find the land

we’ve always searched for

bit could never find until now.

 

The homeland of our hearts,

where our roots can be unwrapped

from their protective cloth

and left to spread as they wish.

 

 

 

 

Poetry

I am your mirror and you are mine.

I could go on about how it was a glimpse

of some things I didn’t imagine.

My brain still turning

despite the gears being clogged.

 

You made a box for me.

Hidden compartments, secret codes,

a smile, that does glisten,

an endless stream of patter,

a bond stronger

than papers and regulation.

 

Cradle it. 

Cradle it.

Cradle it.

 

I know the answer, what

all the decisions have led to:

different ends

of a spectrum but closer

than anything.

Poetry

A funny thing, hindsight.

I didn’t know you’d be there for me.

I didn’t know that you’d see the things every one else missed,

help me without thinking,

come to stand beside me when I needed to stay grounded.

 

I didn’t know how much you would help me.

I didn’t know how much I would help you.

 

I didn’t know I’d bring you back to yourself.

I didn’t know I was the only one you’d share your deepest thoughts with,

be the inspiration for the words coming from your heart,

be trusted with your past, present and future.

 

I didn’t know any of this.

But if I could tell my past self it would happen,

I wouldn’t.

I’d stay quiet, and let her experience it all fresh,

gently strolling

hand in hand with you

on this adventure that’s still going.

 

Poetry

Nova

There are stars.

 

Forming in every moment, every breath,

every beat of a living heart.

Even as one dies, another is born.

But these stars

spend most of their time

invisible —

or perhaps it is simply that we

lack the ability to see them

in our narrow, bittersweet view

of reality; reality

that is only such

because the vast majority believe it

to be so.

Yet if we’re observant,

if we’re true

and if we’re willing to lower our wards

just for the briefest of moments,

these stars can creep in

to our lives

and change our perspectives

at times

when we may think all sight is lost.

And if they’re particularly strong

they’ll never leave.

They’ll be beside you forever,

helping you create your very own star

that in turn

can light their way.

Poetry

Salt Crystals

I balance on the edge, my little boat bobbing along

above sunken wrecks with bottles still clutched in their hands.

The ocean spray on my cheeks is stale

and tastes like tears that have frozen on my face,

for all the world to see.

I could hide them with a mask, but all the ones I’ve tried before melted.

I shall keep following the water

and see where it washes my boat ashore.

Poetry

Exhibition

The gallery is vibrant.

I know this because I’ve been told.

They said the subjects of the paintings

are brimming with colour,

rainbows practically spilling out of the frames and onto the smooth panelled floor.

I see only the colour around the subject.

Blocked from seeping in,

as though simply touching those sketchy outlines

will leech away the pigment

until nothing is left.

They told me I see the world this way because I’m depressed,

that the chemistry of my brain has gone awry

and muddies everything I lay eyes on.

I don’t think they’re wrong,

but I also think that maybe

I’ve just developed the superpower

to see another dimension.

Poetry

On making good art

It lets me examine it

smoothing my hands along its contours

gazing into each space, searching those pocket spaces

for wisps of goodness

where I can spend time being myself.

 

Sometimes

it shows me my mistakes

sometimes

I can see future pictures of wells

where I jump into the unknown.

 

If I walk past it in the morning

I see one thing.

If I walk past it a minute later,

I see another.

 

If I stumble to down to my hands and knees,

not looking at it directly but from the corner of my eye

I can see every part of it, pixel fine.

Or nothing at all.

Reviews

Review: Moroda by L. L. McNeil

Moroda is the story of a girl who escapes from her home city as it is burnt by Dragon fire, and tries to find her place in a world now threatened by war. With her sister, a foul-mouthed sky pirate, two weapon smiths with the ability to transform into animals, an ex-solider from the city, a man with the power to fly and control storms, and a man whose race is known for being deadly killers, she travels across the world of Linaria in search of the answers she so desperately seeks.

I first heard about Moroda via Twitter, as one of the people I follow retweeted a post by the author which showcased the cover. It caught my eye immediately, and led me to read the synopsis, which I found very captivating. I think the reason for that is it hinted at the idea of the plot itself revolving more around Moroda’s own personal journey of self-discovery than the typical fantasy quest of saving the world with an object/magic/intense training. It does have this basic element within it, because of the threat the dragons (and certain others) pose to all of Linaria, but McNeil has cleverly twisted it so that you don’t really notice such a trope is being used.

What’s captivating about Moroda’s character is that she is forced to recognise her own short-comings by spending time with characters with vastly different backgrounds and ideals to her – she and her sister grew up in relative luxury compared to most, but when their father suddenly died, all financial stability they had went out the window. So as she watches her companions, she starts to realise that she has very little experience in most areas of life and is eager to improve on that.

The other characters in Moroda were equally interesting. The sky pirate, Amarah, who is strongly independent and not afraid to speak her mind, is so well-written that I had a solid sense of who she was from the off. Palom and Anahrik, who have the ability to transform into animals, played well off of each other, highlighting that even though they have a strong friendship, they are very different people – Anahrik is hot-headed and quick to take up a challenge, whilst Palom is more rational and patient (until a certain point in the story, where Palom actually takes on some of Anahrik’s personality traits, for reasons I can’t state because of spoilers). Morgen, the soldier – in fact, I believe he is a captain – is a bit harder to get to know because his arc is somewhat slower that the others, more on par with Moroda’s, where he doesn’t really know what to do or where he belongs after the city is burnt. But I slowly picked up who he is: a good man initially quick to follow orders, then after he becomes aware that those orders may not be for the best, just a man trying to do his best to help prevent the oncoming war and protect those he loves.

Then we have Kohl and Sapora, both from races which Moroda knows relatively little about. Kohl calls himself a dragon hunter, and initially warns Moroda and her sister about the dragon heading to their city. He is an outcast from his race, and we don’t really find out why until a good way through, though the whole time it was unclear whether he was trustworthy or not – I wanted to, but felt like I should be wary. Though he can’t transform into an animal like Palom or Anahrik, he has wings on his back which allow him to take to the skies. His race all have the power to harness thunder and electricity, though his powers go a step further as he can freeze things. But it does seem very much like a power he doesn’t want.

Sapora is my favourite character, mainly because all the reader knows about him initially is that his race is associated with violence, and even though Moroda wants to look past that, his very presence put her on edge. The arguments he and Amarah have reveal a lot about both characters, and show off his sharp tongue.

Eryn, Moroda’s younger sister, is introduced very strongly, but as the story went on, I felt as though her individuality was lost. She follows Moroda because of how close they are – they have no other family, so they’ve had to depend on each other since losing their father. While Moroda can be a bit rash and impulsive, Eryn tends to hold her back to get her to consider things first before she takes action. I enjoyed the fact that even though Moroda is older, Eryn is the one who is most mature. However, some of her reactions and traits were ‘told’ rather than ‘shown’, and I think that’s why she paled as bit as a character for me.

With such a cast of characters, the plot is very driven by them, which is rather refreshing to see in fantasy. If I hadn’t enjoyed the characters, and had they not been so well written, then I would have said this was just an okay book. As it is, I think Moroda is quite the riveting read, and actually got me out of a reading slump I’d been in for a while. Yes, there is a lot of world building, and some of the lands and customs are only lightly touched upon, but I have to consider that this is the first book in a series, so many of the questions I have about Linaria will probably be answered in the sequels.

I consider myself quite an avid fantasy reader, and personally,  I would rate Moroda well up there with some of my favourite reads by authors published by big publishing houses. I really highly recommend it – even though I finished it a few days ago now, the story is still with me.