Poetry

Thoughts from a shipwreck

Ocean life ignores the iron

desperately holding onto its skeleton, only knowing

another part of bed where prey can hide and predators seek.

Motes of debris sink to the port hole, or where it used to be

before rot came and the coral took root.

The ghosts don’t mind, the deep is quiet

and the pressure a comfort. Here they can rest

far better than their kin in the ground,

away from the irritating buzz of fear.

Poetry

Rival

She places her feet down

with stubborn steps,

head on.

Cut, angled fringe, red eyes, ice lips.

Fingers curled, uncaring, in the waistband

on her hips.

Eagle grip.

 

I place my feet down

with weighted steps,

heavy lids,

creased, fluffy jumper, wet hair, dry lips.

Fire up as I catch sight of her with a match

to my manuscript.

Solar eclipse.

 

Mirror says,

take a step back.

Don’t give me that.

 

This is my war and I’ll wage it as I please.

Even if I’m the one

bringing me to my knees.

Poetry

Leech

So you think you can dance and summon the winds

of every direction, weaving them into a web

that captures every episode of life?

 

You think you can harness it and grow fat

without ever living yourself?

 

You think you can feel every emotion just as intensely

as those it was birthed from;

 

those grieving for fathers and mothers and children

and grandparents and cousins and lovers

all torn from them in needless conflict;

 

those making vows to be together for their entire lives

because parting would cause them to lose part of themselves;

 

those suffering inside their own heads knowing that those who truly understand them

are so few that they’ll never be able to connect fully with anyone;

 

those so distraught over the sheer scale of pollution and destruction

occurring in the world that it brings not only tears but a knife

to their hearts, buried up to the hilt?

 

 

You can dance and summon the winds

and weave them as you please,

but you’ll never feel what they feel.

 

How can you when your own heart and mind are empty?

Poetry

Imprint

I stand now in a green field,

greener than any around it.

I stand now in a mass grave,

more drenched in blood than any quiet churchyard.

 

Touching the soil, my fingers catch

on the lip of a twisted belt buckle,

and the last moments of its owner illuminate my shadow,

their pain becoming my own,

as if centuries have not passed

and we are twins,

sharing the same blood, the same heart.

 

Flowers around me.

Cornflowers, daisies, Lady’s bedstraw.

Bones around me.

Long trampled and hidden, only ghosting up

to those who bother looking.

 

The long grass stains my hands as I pull at the blades,

thinking only of how other blades

drew out crimson:

a stain that would never wash out.

Poetry

Society

Sometimes I’m amazed at how kind complete strangers can be, even if it’s just a simple gesture – stopping to let me cross the road at a busy time.

Occasionally, it makes me forget that just because I can’t always see the shade, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Crash. The day is hazed as it all leaks back to the forefront again. An article about the state of animals transported abroad.

It makes me choke. So much cruelty. So much ignorance. So much death.

Enter news of wars and children killed in a mass of explosions all because grown-ups can’t shake hands.

Tidal waves within me, and I feel powerless and angry.

Yet despite all this, the great hive still buzzes. Even for me, hiding that data in code for the sake of living.

Poetry

Return to sender

I don’t want to stand out here in the dark

waiting for a train that may never come.

All the others have been collected,

but no-one wanted me.

They looked at my identity, flicking the tag

away in disgust. Waving me off.

 

It’s quiet now that the crowd has gone.

And cold. I wonder if my parents ever considered

that no-one would take me in.

I was sent away. Now I’m being sent back,

returned to sender. I am useless

like the unused gas mask around my neck.

 

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.

Poetry

In this light

It’s easy staring out into the dark. Turning away from the cries, the smoke, the sound of a full room discussing the wonders of brick while wood burns only a few feet away. The darkness quiets me. Lulls me into a soft sleep, intent on making me think I can forget. My dreams wage war for eternity.