It seems that when speaking to people of advanced years,

we speak only of snowflakes,

a stereotype so richly enjoyed,

yet one no one will call me to my delicate, icy face.


“So fragile, so momentary, so fleeting…”,

these people have surely never observed the beauty of such things,

of a perfectly unique glint,

on the stubborn canvas of an ashen grey sky.


Perhaps they feel themselves bitter?

For they simply rained down,

in harsh, clumsy, listless drops,

bound solely for the gutter.


Or perhaps it is true?

That these winter winds have ruined us.

That we have become flakes too thin and fragile to consider,

who it was who caused the weather to change in the first place.



Long Live The Paperback!

My friends, family and colleagues fervently remind me, that in most technological spheres, I am at the same level as an elderly man. I still send letters by post, I don’t understand snapchat, I still sustain that music sounds better on vinyl, and it was only yesterday that someone told me what Whatsapp is. After arguing on these subjects, I am usually quite happy to be branded a neo-luddite, and to carry on in my technological naivety. But there is one advance which upon which I cannot stay silent: The Kindle or e-book reader.

My major qualm is simply that these devices dehumanize an act of leisure, which has been passed on for thousands and thousands of years. Every tatty paperback tells two stories; that which the author wrote, and one which time has written on the pages through those who have read it.

For example, my copy of “Orlando” is covered in underlinings written by myself a long time ago. A friend recently consulted me on these annotations, and I failed to remember the meaning behind any, save for those simply indicating Woolf’s glorious turns of phrase. The pages of this volume felt lived in. It had been turned inside out, and my question is whether an e-book ever earns the same treatment.

Furthermore while leafing through novels in research of this essay, I found a variety of bookmarks tucked in the back covers, which evoked remarkably strong emotions. A train ticket to visit a long lost lover, a receipt from a bar on Lake Como visited many years ago, and a street map of Marrakech were found, amongst many others. EBooks just remember at what point you were, they do not say anything about what was going on in your life while you were reading, and I consider that a pity.

Another failing of modern reading technology is that it cannot be lent to a fellow enthusiast. Many friendships of mine have been built upon the love of Hemingway or Fitzgerald, yet without loaning these books to the aforementioned camarades, no such friendship would exist. Admittedly, every now and then,   one of my books is returned having been dropped in the bath, or with sand between the pages, but this only serves to further the story told by the pages.

I suppose my argument is based essentially on romanticism, which rarely stands up against logic, but on this point I am adamant. From the sound of my Grandad turning the weathered pages of “Wind in the Willows”, to jamming a scruffy copy of “Down and Out in Paris and London” into my coat pocket to avoid extra baggage charges at an airport, books in their physical form are part of human history. As technology constantly sterilizes and dehumanizes our culture, I say stand strong by the format which has always been there for you, even on the rainiest of holidays, and never lets you down by running out of batteries: Long Live the Paperback!

My God!

My God.

My God is bigger than problems!

My God is bigger than insecurities!

My God is bigger than the caverns and chasms of my mind!

My God is bigger than the plagues and pitfalls of my being!

My God is not momentary, but momentous!

My God is not in essence, but in all!

My God is more than pain, more than shame,

More than hurts, even more than words!

My God is,

And will never cease to be!


You ask me why I’m always on edge and really there is no concrete answer that’s the problem in itself I cannot help but envy those who have their lives in order running to plan chugging along in silence it pulls me so many ways trusting so much it wears me thin to the point where all elasticity is lost and I just lie across this rocky ground each day is a struggle but then a struggle in the right direction as every day I draw nearer to my unknown goals so I’ll run on inertia until the peak is reached and I see the point of all of this and dance with jubilation but just for now please stop asking these questions.

A Sleeping Man Awakens

I cannot stand it any longer. My walls have fallen, my patience vexed. The final name is painfully struck from my list of the trusted. A sharp tongue ends it all.

I am alone and I am growing tired of my own venom also. I cannot manage alone, and I cannot survive at home, it is merely a nest, which cossets my abuse, and raises it to be stronger.

I am nothing but my adjective. It is my name, my identity, my being; and I detest it. But I am a man, and can tell nobody. Men solve problems. I cannot BE the problem.

I will never be loved, until I am something else. I am the broken toy, an error to be discarded.

I make a decision in my mind. I will fight my failure, so that I might become something other than a punch line, more than the adjective that has plagued me since my youth. I can no longer be fat.

* * *

I lie awake, scratching at my waist, where the skin pulls tight across my wretched bones. I toss and turn, battling my thoughts. Why can’t I be what I was? Surely nothing can compare to this? But remember the pain for which you chose this?

I have found ways of numbing such encounters with my conscience. This morning I awoke in the hallway. Yesterday slumped across the kitchen counter, but tonight I will stand up to my demons, and maybe win, maybe lose.

I am happy. I am happy. I am happy.

* * *

Four days. Four days of tugging at my hair and praying it might end. A pain so sublime that not even time can numb it. Another failure. I see no solution, but then again I barely see a thing nowadays. I AM happy.

* * *

I sit beside the brook, clutching my head. If only I could pull my brain away from my being. But what would be the point? They are equally abhorrent to any thinking man. I am pointless. But one waking hour sends me into a haze of migraines, collapse and nightmares.

My mind races. It races around the day’s event. Cooked breakfast and not enough movement: a failure. My in-tray is full. The letters spew from the letterbox. The message is booming from the earth. You will never be enough…why even try?

I scrabble around for the final solution. I find a rock. I assume it to be sharp and heavy enough to break bone. I hand it between my limp, tired arms, and succeed in lifting it above my head.

I lift it again, and hold it there. The ado of life is too much, but somehow I cannot follow my heart this time. I lay the stone down, and begin to weep, but I feel that soon my tears will run dry.

* * *

I no longer want to die. But I have no desire to live. The weight of this loathsome soul is too heavy around my neck, but I could not bear to hurt my family so. I run the scene over again and again in my head, as my family gather around my grave, and each time moves me further from the act. Thus I drift between vague and bleary scenes in a tasteless tragedy as people offer condolences. I may as well be dead; I am a character whose lines are written.

* * *

I find myself in search of the God who I seem to have lost touch with. In an uncanny moment of lucidity, a figure speaks from a stage, and although my decaying eyes cannot see her, the words she speaks speak directly at me. She speaks of love and grace, from the almighty God who I seem to have forgotten. I AM Loved. My failures ARE forgiven. I AM enough. In his eyes at least. But what more is there? My frail frame leaps with joy, as the notion hits me: God loves me enough to pursue me. He has followed me into the depths of despair, with the aim of pulling me out to be his son again. The mist lifts on my soul. My body and mind follow months later. I am not fat. I never will be in God’s eyes, and who cares what anyone else thinks. I have the ultimate affirmation that I am blameless and that I am loved. I am happy. I am loved. I am happy.

Abstainer’s Blues

It’s times like this I wish I smoked,

But it all just tastes like hell to me.

I have a smoker’s habits,

But no taste for nicotine.

Because ten minutes alone,

The bitter cold for company,

Is all I really want,

It’s just my personality.

The selected scribblings of Ben H