Today, I am delighted to feature writer and poet, Willow Willers, as my Treasuring Poetry guest. Willow blogs at willowdot21.
Which of your own stories is your favourite?
Well Robbie, my real first favourite is a trilogy I wrote about young boys who get caught up in drug running gangs and knife crime. My real ambition would be to have a chance to read this to young people at clubs and schools.
The bench was hard but he could take that, it was the pain in his side and chest which filled his being, everything else was flat.
Fear gripped his mind, he was so cold inside yet a sweat was rippling down his back. His sight was blurred, was he going blind?
Slowly a long hidden memory came to the fore. His mother had taught him it long before he had changed. “Gentle Jesus meek and mild look upon me a little child.”
OH! Jesus if you are there help me now, I did not need you then but I do now. Jesus this pain is f###ing killing me, help me help me please. Slowly he slipped forward onto the floor and darkness washed over him and he knew no more.
“Where are you going son. No, out, will not do! Listen to me boy I am asking you. Why must you run with that pack it seems to me now there is no coming back. What has happened to you, you were such a good boy at school I had hopes that you’d go far but your just like your brother playing the fool.
No your not wicked but you are not a fool and I am telling you this, in my book you’re not cool.”
“What are you doing with that? Give it me back , don’t you threaten me son I’ll give you a smack. OH! Please will you listen to me don’t take that knife it will not set you free from the boredom in your life. It will not get you a job, it won’t make you a man what has happened to you and your world changing plan? You had vision and hunger for work as a decent and pleasant boy not as you are now , just a jerk.”
Clearing up quietly the priest approached the last row when something on the floor that caught the suns last glow. Red and sticky he knew what it was but he prayed to his God that it would not be true. The boy lying his arms out wide, blood flowing from his side. A thought crossed his mind but he dismissed immediately. He looked like Jesus did, you see. Arms out wide , blood from his side a cut round his forehead dripping, blood in his eyes.
He took out his mobile and took a deep breath as he dialled, ambulance, police he begged his mind running wild. The operator was telling him what to do, “Keep him warm and stem the blood is what I want you to do.” He ripped off his cassock and swaddled the lad he then noticed blood on his jeans ( the best ones he had) He cradled the boy and prayed in his ear “keep trying to stay ask now, Jesus will hear.”
It was half an hour until anyone arrived the paramedic crew gently moved the priest to one side. It was too late the boy was gone, then with their radios crackling loud, the police taped the area off, people from everywhere arriving, such a crowd.
Standing back and looking around the priest said a prayer without making a sound. “Dear God take the soul of this boy who died here today and give him some peace, and if you have time help me find words to soothe his family, at least ” Then he sat down exhausted, he was just a man even though he was called a priest.
A woman on her way home from work regretting an argument at the start of her day was wondering how to fix things and what she could say. She always said never give up, never leave a good word unsaid. Never leave things, sort them before you go to bed. Passing the church she saw her youngest boys friends , he wasn’t there perhaps they could make amends.
He awoke with a jump. It was his brother rolling in drunk! Damn only 4am please don’t go over what’s to happen again. I know I must do this. I must prove myself.
It was all too easy a year ago when his best friend introduced him to the boys “you need to know” It had been simple things at first making old ladies jump, stealing traffic cones all laughing fit to burst.
When he was really trusted, got himself a name.Things became more serious it suddenly was a whole new game. They met the older boys, the ones with big fast cars. They all wore hoodies, bling and they all had facial scars.
It was money and messages that he had to run he was fit and had a bike.Now that is how easily it had begun. He often skipped school though not always willingly. There really was not any choice, what the big boys said, had to be.
His teachers all asked him why his work had slipped away he had a brilliant future and he had thrown it all away. He was a little worried but he shrugged his shoulders and wandered off, his teachers called him back but his friends told them to f### off.
Mum, she was desperate working on her own doing all she could to keep the house, the boys and to make them a home. The oldest she had lost him he had gone to drugs. She had tried so hard but he just robbed her blind and made her look a mug.The young one she had dreams for she had prayed to the Lord each day but now he was on the wrong track, he was slipping the same way.
He knew he had become a waster, he knew that he was bad . It was the only way to be accepted and safe but the pain in Mum’s eyes made him feel sad. So he just avoided contact and hardened to her pleas. He was knocked back the other day when she begged him to stay home down on her knees.
He tried to ask his brother who ran with an older crew but he was useless as he was trapped there too. What chance was there, his brother asked, what was there for them to do there was no work or opportunities running with lads was at least something to do. It was all about status and how hard you are , what clothes you wore , what trainers and did you have a scar.
His brother had one, on his face, from a fight with a rival gang. Okay it hurt , six days in hospital 17 stitches but he was now a big man??
Today was his chance to join the glorious crew. To take part in the big ruck was all he had to do.
Two weeks he had known about the fight , where and exactly when. It was on his mind both day and night . His thoughts were full of dread , through his blood ran pure fear it was nearly six now, the day was finally here.
Later in the kitchen when he was taking the knife , his mother caught him and shouted at him. He raised his hand to her for the first and last time in his life. Luckily she was small so he pushed her to one side as he crashed through the door and out the gate . His mother sat on the floor and cried.
Later he met the guys when mum had gone to work, they knew a squat they could use to complete their plan. By 4pm they were jumpy they were ready to a man.They left the squat and through the railings ran. Jumping , punching the air and making feral calls they had it now they all knew the plan, they had all the balls.
He wished he’d picked a smaller knife this one was too large . As he was changing it’s position. Into him a couple of the lads all barged. At once he felt a sharp and stinging pain as he fell to the floor, it felt worse again. His side felt wet and his forehead was cut where he had scraped along the floor..
What’s wrong man, stop messing we haven’t got the time it’s 5 o’clock now hear those church bells chime. Oh! hey you’re hurt man what did you do. You stupid f### you stabbed yourself. We have to leave you here, no good to have a burden on the crew.
His best friend helped him into the church and sat him at the back , hold on, he said, laters. then ran off to join the pack.
So he alone now, life ebbing from his side thoughts of mum, school, his brother and he cried. He asked the lord for comfort but comfort did not come. He prayed a childhood prayer from deep inside his mind. The priest found him,and he was very kind. He wrapped his chest and held him and asked him not to go . He tried to but he couldn’t stay he felt too tired, too low.
He heard the priests’ desperate call as he slipped away forget the ambulance he though and just pray for me today. The priest felt him go, but he would not lose his grip he felt he needed to guide this lost boy, some mothers pride and joy.
Getting off the bus and heading home, she was tired her feet aching but she was determined not to moan. This was important, it had to be done she needed to put her whole being into saving her youngest son!
Pushing the front door shut behind her putting the bags down on the kitchen floor she looked into the living room but there was no one there. No television no shoot’em’up games standing in the hallway she called out both boys names.
OH! well, she put the kettle on and maybe she’d ring around she had both their mobile numbers but they did not always want to be found. The doorbell rings , damn she had only just sat down, walking toward the door the phone begins to ring.
There it is the sight every mother dreads, a policeman and a policewoman , OH! god she thinks someone must be dead.
The hospital was noisy but she didn’t hear a sound her lungs were filling up as she were about to drown. She had been waiting for an age now, would no one take her in. She was feeling really sick now and felt like things were crawling on her skin.
It was so cold in there and he only had a sheet on . God he looked so pale but she supposed that was what you would look like when all your blood was gone.
She woke up with the headache she had, had since that day, the shock of the police visit and what they had to say.
She knew she had to get up she knew she must today, it was the funeral and that would not go away.
Things had been different her elder boy had stayed home he seemed to want to help his mother and not leave her on her own. She dared not to hope he had changed but she was glad that he was there.
She slowly put her face on and then she brushed her hair.
His friends were at the church like they had been that day , he was not with them. Would this pain ever go away.
The priest seemed glad to see her and he offered his support, she felt close to this man who was with her boy when for his life he fought.
His favourite track finished and the last notes drifted away she stood up and looked at everyone and said she had something to say.
She knew that there was no work and that there was not much hope but joining gangs and using guns and knives was not the way to cope. Please listen, she pleaded you are slipping away too many lives are wasted too many die this way. Something must be done and it must be soon we are losing a generation it might be two if something is not done soon.
How many more mothers have to suffer like she.
We really need to sort this out……… her voice trailed off to silence as she repeated, how many more mothers like me?
What inspired you to write this particular poem?
I wrote this story in 2014 but with the news of yet so many gang related killings in London in fact all our towns and cities lately. There have been so many knife crimes these last years. In light of this I felt compelled to write about how easily you people regardless of their ethnic background get sucked into gang culture. I felt the need to show how far the ripples spread and how even the innocent are touched.
What are your plans for your poetry going forward?
I love my poetry and I hope to continue to write until I die. I would love to publish a book of poetry but something is holding me back. I don’t know what really.
What is your favourite poem?
My favourite poem is High Flight. by John Gillespie Magee JR.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of-wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor ever eagle flew-
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Why do you like this poem?
It always makes me cry. It’s the fact that this young man born in Shanghai, China, to an American father and a British mother, who both worked as Anglican missionaries who flew Spitfires for Great Britain during WW2. died not long after qualifying in 1941 in a routine training accident.
The beautiful words are so prophetic, I hope he got to touch the face of God.
A poem by Willow: Broken Angel
My wings are clipped my feet are tied.
I need to scream, but I can not cry.
I need to run I need to hide,
Afraid to stay , too tired to fly
Alone under a moon lit sky.
Can I run, can I hide,
Can I beat this pain inside
Will it end, will I be no more
Will I find the key to the locked door.
Broken angel that is me
No longer blessed no longer free.
Shackled, so harshly tied down
Lost to all, now bound to the ground.
Find out more about Willow here: https://willowdot21.wordpress.com/about/
About Robbie Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.
The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.
Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.
Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.
Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.
Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.
Find Robbie Cheadle
Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram
Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books
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