The Child is Gone

Natasha Sinclair

The hand strikes
A forgettable second
Within a minute of infinities
A single beat
The heart stops
Unknowing, silence befell within
Maybe yesterday

A bustling room, waiting
A bed on a register
Ice-cold gel
Smiles convert to frowns
Twin mask
I already know
Before the backup arrives
The child is gone

Dead inside the fluid of life
Everything stops
The hand keeps ticking
More minutes
Other rooms
Happier stories

Floating deceased
In my belly remained
Bodies reluctant to depart
Tear apart

Keep her in
Maybe life will begin again
It was a pause
A monitor fault
A technical blip
Chest tightens
Throat clams shut
Tears won't cease
Beneath the duvet
Fort of solitude
Alone
Grief spreading from belly to bone

One last weekend
Of motherhood pretend
Viscous connection
Umbilical short circuit
My belly her deathbed

Many strikes later
The hours had fallen away
Empty cotton cave
Just us
No heartbeat still
No rush to move
I could've held her there forever

Chemical help swallowed
Washing away
The static infinity

Another day
Another dose
Grief and planning ahead
Terms aired before taking the bed
Alter of birth

In that other room
Hidden from coos
Expectant cries
Life to life
Mine was the room
Of quietus
For the mother of death
Me
As I always knew
As I had been before
In another place
Another time
Another father

Here I was now
Mother of death again
My terms they'd meet
Another pain for later
Pacification for the morning shift
My mourning moon

The contractions
Too soon
Too late
Pregnancy infraction
This labour of death
Babe's birth unto death
Ultimate labour of love
Combusting a broken star

Then she was there
Stillborn silent
The hand struck
A mallet to a gong
The child is gone

Another moment
Rooting time
Nothing and everything
I know where I was then
As is this day

With every score
She was no more
And evermore
My sweet tiny girl
Embossed in flesh
How I held her after
Within my clammy palms
Tattooing her existence
From one bleary orb to the other weary

Sinking into dark silence
The void sucking me in

One night of her
Held in mother's hands
Eyes burned
Taking her in
Her translucent skin
The curves of her mouth
Fine fingers ten
My jelly baby star

The child is gone.

Blood On Your Hands

Won’t keep your distance
Blood on your hands
Won’t wear a face covering
Blood on your hands
Won’t wash your hands again
Blood on your hands
Your exponential deviation from definition of essential
Blood on your hands
It’s just one hug, one kiss
Blood on your hands
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble
Just one day you say
Blood on your hands
It could’ve been anything
Him, her, that other thing
The finger pointed can’t be proven
Asymptomatic, screaming lies of hoax
Blame the media
Pandemic naysayer
Systemic stupidity at the helm
Throwing around blame like it’s some game 
Voiding yourself of responsibility
Insane
BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS!
Even if you can’t see it
Know this is true
It’s not all about you
Except for, that’s right…
The blood on your hands
You think you're asserting your rights
Your right to kill
Dominating social discord
It’s just some cheap thrill 
Blood on your hands
Your right to your idea of freedom
Enslaved to conspiracy, half-truths – all lies
Ignorantly, defiant, belligerent, delusional
It’s staining 
That blood on your hands
These inconsiderate, selfish acts
Because it’s your right to protest
Catastrophic fires rage
The blood is still on your fucking hands.
Carry on, send your best wishes, your mother fucking prayers—
Until you take actions that count—
Your prayers are a joke
Hoaxer Hocus
You know what isn’t?
THE BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS!

Just Words

Their love
Demanded a price
Obedience
Blood
Sanity
Unspoken (at times)
Until she spoke up
Raising from a whisper
Unnoticed
Unheard
Unwelcome
Pitchforks
Faux assurances
Platitudes
Lies
All of which she despised
A continuous cycle
Only she could break
The black sheep
The unwanted
The failure
Witch bitch
Her death worth more than her life
The life begrudged
Cell division
Damning their youth
Sealing fates
She to blame
Because someone had to be
She tried
Talked
Filtered
Diluted herself
Until there was barely anything left
Shut up
Medicate
Put between some miles
Time
Distance not enough
Their disdain plain
As long as she exists
It’s all Futile
The failed investment
It’s all too late
Consummation sealed fate
Abortion option too late
You are your faults
Your decisions
She is not your scapegoat
Anymore.

City of the Dead

Twisted Legends: Crimson Pinnacle Press

When propositioned to create a story based around an urban legend, I was keen to offer a Scottish framed piece for consideration to this popular anthology theme. With an abundance of folk tales around Scotland and its many isles to inspire, I decided to dip into what I’m more intimately aquatinted — Glasgow. The central belt is brimming with inspiration. Three urban legends immediately sprung to mind. However, when I began drafting a story, I hopped, unfocused between tales and my first attempt got pinned as I had a stronger pull towards another.

Children playing in Glasgow’s Southern Necropolis. Circa early 1950’s

Much can spiral from classroom whispers and the imagination and zest of children. The inspiring legend of The Gorbals Vampire (or Ir’n Jenni), which spawned hysteria, climaxing in September 1954, and Alexander Anderson’s poem, Jenny wi’ the Airn Teeth, led the way for my creation. The Gorbals Vampire incident brought much debate about censorship of literary material (from poetry in the classroom to imported American comics) to impressionable children, and the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955 was passed through the House of Commons. Censorship is an area that is still very much debated today through the arts, worldwide — and not just with children in mind — this deepened my draw to this particular event.

Sunday Mail article 26th September 1954

My story, City of the Dead, was created as a nod to the notorious child vampire hunt of 1954 in Glasgow’s Southern Necropolis and Alexander Anderson’s poem from 1870. I love a good cemetery setting (typical goth, I know), so taking on The Southern Necropolis — which is home to over 250,000 buried souls was a lot of fun. I enjoyed writing this one. It’s always satisfying to weave regional dialect through a piece — bringing authenticity to the characters and reverence to the urban legend’s roots.

I won’t share spoilers beyond the base inspiration for my own story, as City of the Dead was submitted and subsequently accepted by Crimson Pinnacle Press for their Twisted Legends anthology!

The book received a high volume of submissions of twisted takes on urban legends from around the globe. The editors chose the top 13 offerings, and I am thrilled to have made the cut, alongside; Thomas R Clark, Lance Dale, Lance Harkers, Stephen Johnson, Ruthann Jagge, Jae Mazer, Jason Myers, Pamela A. Parish, Chris Puzak, RJ Roles, Vic Kerry, and Robb T. White.

Graphic created by Lance Dale.

Having been published in Crimson Pinnacle Press’ (invite only) inaugural anthology, Fairy Tale Horrorshow, I am ecstatic to be accepted into their pages once again! The duo who run the press, RJ Roles and Jason Myers, certainly have the eye for unique, quality indie horror, I promise you that! You’ll have to pick that up to read my take on this urban legend from Scotland and the 12 other twisted legends, launching October 25th. The eBook pre-order is live.

Thanks for reading!

In addition, if you’d like to listen to me reading Anderson’s poem the video is below.

Undertow City

Strolling through the city of ghosts
Mine and others
Life lessening; remnants many
The only commodities exponentially growing
The less-ness and the dead
Faces curl by, mighty and mellow
Jesting jesters
Secret stalkers
Smooth and lined
Chiselling the face of ages
Charcoal sketches in a dusty book
My neck cranes from the tarmac
To sandstone stretching skyward
Behind blacked shades I hasten a look
Faces carved into stone statues
Corrosion of time changes their masks
And I see you there
Dancing among the gargoyles
Faces I’ve known
Faces I’ve kissed
Faces long dismissed
Echoes of ancient conversations
Undertows hidden behind music
Soothing ears and fears with every pluck and stroke
Muffling hyper consternation
Rapid beats in the throat
Lost words imprint the atmosphere
Bare toes curl into the black cracked pavement
They keep remaking it
Covering the splits
The old tracks; spectre paths
Undertows ripple underfoot
Soon only remnants shall remain
Ruptured
I’m one of them; a mere echo
In this Undertow City.

Figment

Pressing, softly through the cracks
Fragments of consciousness
Piston hissing speckled the dead-night

Moving electricity aside
She slips in like butter
Melting and reforming to what I once knew

She was melancholy like my heart
Sullen of soul
My scion mirror

The tunnel formed
Attuning the station
Between pre and post mortem
A hollow in this verse
A meeting place

We spoke about mortality
Not with words
It was all there, though
Moths fluttering in the air
It’s been a while…

Since we shared space
Since we shared time
She keeps reminding me, though
Those are figments...

Of faux comfort
Fool’s restraints
Flimsy, weak cortex
It’s not everything
Not even close

The cat’s body is in the next room
Upon the pink bedspread
His marbled fur of coppers and black
Still as the void
I can look if I want, she tells me
He won’t stir yet
But I can’t leave
Paralysed in the serenity
Permeating from her form

There’s so much more to that cat

The sun seeps in
Glimmers strain against the sides
Dagger sharp
Fragments tear the space asunder

I’m here again…
She’s gone.
© Natasha Sinclair

Marching

There’s been some writing and lots of editing on the go this month — one in which my home life has also hiked up the demands. Though that could be the cumulative effect of this year of, well, you know, it’s been mental for many of us! To say a balance has been tricky would be playing down how much of a riot things feel. The execution, thankfully not so much, but certainly my panster and parent brain are on the juggle, with at least one child jumping on top of it incessantly ringing the jester bells on the cap feels out of whack. Who am I kidding — it’s a shambles in there!

Moving on from that shambles ramble…

I was delighted to be enlisted by Kevin J Kennedy to edit his debut solo novella, Halloween Land. For which I also created some supporting promotional graphics and synopsis for the release.

Kennedy’s solo project has been a long time coming! Given how hard he works as an anthologist, engaging and gathering horror voices to present to eager horror fans – this solo piece is eagerly anticipated by fans of his writing.
The super cool cover art was created by François Vaillancourt, internal artwork by Mar Garcia and a closing poem written by James Matthew Byers.

He kindly asked me to write the foreword introducing the book, which I was taken aback by. To introduce such an important work in a writer’s career is a tremendous honour, I was delighted to oblige.

Halloween Land is out now and is available to download worldwide from Amazon, and the paperback will be available in the coming days. If you pick up a copy, please do leave a review! Kennedy loves engaging with readers and fans of the genre — you can reach out to him directly via Facebook, Goodreads or Instagram.

Writing — I have two short stories I’m working on with deadlines looming, which I can’t share much about yet. Both horror, one is extreme, which I am at the idea outline stage — this one will be sleazy and gore-filled. The other is further underway and is an adult-horror spin on a children’s classic. Though the inspiring story, I would debate whether it’s ‘children’s’ at all. Certainly, lots of coming of age issues addressed, particularly the challenges of girlhood and adolescence. The original story is heavy in bizarro / fantasy. If anything, there’s too much inspiration to play with for creating a new short piece. So I am keeping my distance and tipping my mad hat to this beloved literary classic only.

Being invite only opportunities, it’s imperative that they each fit their retrospective bills, which adds a little bit more pressure to the creative process. That time has been more of a challenge than I anticipated this month. It’s getting into the flow with it when batting different characters and plots around. All that being said, I shall get there with them; the engine is revving, I just need a clear stretch to slam down on.

Time being so restricted for longer pieces, I have ended up playing with another writer, David Owain Hughes, this month and co-writing some drabbles, as well as throwing a few solos down. March procrastinating at its finest! Productive down another road, at least. So there’s a bunch of these little bad boys being published with Black Ink Fiction this summer.

I’ve also shared a few free quick-fic pieces right here for those who fancy a gander! That’s it for now. The sirens are wailing, I better skedaddle!

People Pleasing Massacre

A poem

From this tomb
I look at the massacre
I’ve made of myself
Taking in every ripple of depression
The marches of its succession
Binging and fasting like waves sloshing
Overwhelming loose skin
Drinking in the scars
Grooves deeper than can be seen
Slashes from the blade
Tracks worn into this sick façade
Embedded in the tomb
For me, there’s no room
Depression’s refusal to be released
Sagging waves of torment
Dropping into the scalding water
Reddening surface and silver deep
Lie back
Just lie back let it sink in
Conquer the concave slave
Drench black-eyed face under
Revell in the nearing thunder
I can see through my corpse to the decomposition
My life’s mission
Taking in their rot
I’m rotting alive
No need to be a giver
They keep taking
Clawing at the veins
Sucking my blood with straws
Lie back further
Steer across the landscape
It ain’t too horrifying from this angle
The sags tighten
Silver streaks lighten
Red fades to blush
Embrace the incoming hush
I’ll lie here
Lie to myself for a while
Let the silver lining twinkle
A perspective shift
A momentary lift.

© Natasha Sinclair

One Last Time

Biding time until reaper's weepers dispersed
The mourning departed to spread grief song

I linger until silence befell cemetery gates
Beyond the ceremonial bound

In observance
Solitary silence
Spiritual widow
I’ve waited…

Making way across the damp green
Souls stick in the mud sinking
Making my way to you
One last time

Love out of sight
Residing now on opposing dimensions
Held in the brevity of penumbra
Lovestruck in shadow
Your dark spell, loves curse

By the mound afore you
I stare into your pit
Imagining the pits of your eyes behind the box
Pondering the transparency of your boxes of fabrication
Heart-shaped carpentry, weak to these sorrowful eyes

My love on a fine line
Kneeling with my hands in your mud bed
I climb into your grave
Lay atop of your box poured with flowers you hate

Deep in the hole upon my love’s burial bed
Breathing in the fumes of your death
Feeling deaths whispers swarm my head

Love eternally buried in me
Beyond the finite blood and bone
Can you feel the heat penetrate your cold corpse?
I lie in your pit
Widow death shroud
On top of my love…

One last time


© Natasha Sinclair

No Good Grief

Gnashing and gnawing at my innards
Viscera shredded; trauma tombs embedded
Stitch in bells, weigh down the nauseating flapping
Jangle a euphonious jingle
Steady placement of chinked shield
Conceal agonies.

U-bend blocked
There my guilt brims
Shame for wishing away rapid cell division
Liquor and voluntary scalding
Natures way away
Life folding poured out
Out of Order; terror of disorder

For two, a freshly dug hole
The morning after
Mourning follows
Nipping at heals with the snow
A hollow in another garden
There, a piece of my heart lays
A depression for my first’s succession

She wants to see my torment on display
To harvest in morbid grief games
Pretend she’s just the same
Catfish loss-mother
Conspiring tiring
Yearning to reap from the suffering leaks of my soul
Observe my lamentations trapped in a fishbowl
To don a cape, be in control
Prodding my wounds, infecting

Imitation empath storing stories
Catalogued, indexed, held hostage
Latching of grief vampires
Sucking ephemeral life’s marrow
Chipping stones off my bones

An archaeologist scraping the shovel
No delicate brushing of bristles
Attention desperation
Desecrating my pain
Self-appointed steward on my cradle’s grave.