Perverse – a collection of short prose and verse
By Tim Walker
PERVERSE is an eclectic collection of short, snatched memories and random ideas that tumbled out of a monthly spoken word event called The Innerverse.
‘Perversity’, is an obstinate urge or contrary behaviour; a wilful desire to not conform.
That made me think - life can sometimes be perverse – full of contradictions, disappointments, grief and sheer bloody-mindedness. But despite this, our sense of what is right and our collective willingness to submit to the rule of law, provides a counter balance that somehow gets us through.
I hope you enjoy this collection of verse and prose - a pastiche of my life, a nod to history and current affairs, a wistful look back, a hope for better days, and a celebration of life and all its riches.
SLOUGH, YEAR 100 AD
We cry and spit the bitter taste of defeat
Our men slaughtered and our women weep
Children only remain to harvest the crops
An ill wind blows along the track to our village
Swirling around the post where a dead owl wards off evil spirits
We are the Cantuvelauni people
Fishers of the river, hunters and foragers of the great forest
When the men from Rome first came, we ran and hid
We listened from the dark forest to the rhythmic tramp of boots
Clutching our charms to protect us from evil spirits and mumbling the words
The jangle of metal, the cries in a foreign tongue as they approached
Through our wooden gateway into our stockade ringed with sharpened stakes
That keep out the animals of the forest and deter other tribes
But not the men from Rome, wherever that may be - A new name for hell, perhaps.
They scattered the fowl and pigs and yapping dogs soon cowered and whimpered
Their Trinovante guide tells our headman they will pave our road to make it strong
What is a road? Our grey-haired leader asks.
The narrow tracks that connect our villages have been there since the dawn of time
Given to us by our mother, Brigantia, who whispers to us in the wind
But now our conquerors will make use of them to keep us at heel
They will put flattened rocks on a stony pathway to connect their forts.
They are here to stay.
They ask for our cooperation from behind a row of red shields,
The sunlight glistening off polished helmets and spear tips
Our new masters send men to show us how to grow their crops
barley, wheat and vegetables we have not seen before
They take our goats and fowl but give us only round silver discs
This is their money, our elders explain, to barter with at market
They take our young men and mother’s weep
Their tears stain the cracked but unyielding earth
Their cries the anguish of the conquered
powerless before the new gods of Rome.
Our druid tells us not to be afraid
But he runs to hide in the forest whenever they approach
Our young men come to visit and stand proud and tall
Dressed in the Roman fashion in toga and sandals of leather
We laugh and hug them and covet their shoes
The Romans have taught them their ways and they can read their symbols.
They show the boys how to catch fish in nets
Their laughter entwines with the splash and flash of silver as they take turns to cast it
Small stones dragging it to the depths where sits Father Tamesis, waiting
Our mighty river flows from before the dawn of men
That feeds and refreshes us and receives our offerings
It never lies nor betrays, but sometimes takes one of us
We are the new slaves of Rome but one day will be free
The rushing flow carries our hopes to the sea of life
They command us but they will never own our souls.
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Tim Walker is an independent author living near Windsor in the UK. He grew up in Liverpool where he began his working life as a trainee reporter on a local newspaper, The Woolton Mercury. A media career ensued, including a stint overseas in Zambia.
His creative writing journey began in earnest in 2013, as a therapeutic activity whilst recovering from cancer treatment. He started an historical fiction series, A Light in the Dark Ages, in 2015, following a visit to the near-by site of a former Roman town. The aim of the series is to connect the end of Roman Britain to elements of the Arthurian legend, presenting an imagined history of Britain in the early Dark Ages.
His latest book is Arthur, Dux Bellorum, a re-imagining of the story of King Arthur, published in March 2019. Book four in the A Light in the Dark Ages series, it won two book awards in April 2019 - One Stop Fiction Book of the Month and the Coffee Pot Book Club Book Award. The final book in the series, Arthur Rex Brittonum, is due out in June 2020.
The series starts with Abandoned (second edition 2018); followed by Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (2017); and book three, Uther's Destiny (2018). Series book covers are designed by Canadian graphic artist, Cathy Walker. Tim is self-published under his brand name, timwalkerwrites.
Tim has also written two books of short stories, Thames Valley Tales (2015), and Postcards from London (2017); a dystopian thriller, Devil Gate Dawn (2016); and two children's books, co-authored with his daughter, Cathy - The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2017) and Charly & The Superheroes (2018) with a third in the pipeline – Charly in Space.