Vast underworld of lust


The vast emptiness

of a muddled mind,

fractured beyond

the splintered remnants

of the devil kiss…

…where now are the fireflies

that once had enlightened

my soul to celestial skies.

For all about me lays the

vast wastelands of the underworld,

the river Styx whispers to

me at nights promise as

slumber pulls me under,

I am fallen,

the broken remains of

belief swimming

now in Stygian darkness


drowning my sins in lust

suffocating my love in desire

saving myself from the

mundane wishes of

the blind.


Karen Hayward ©2018


She was graphite, rough and raw.
She’d erase rough lines of guidance,
use the indents as a reminder of where not to walk,
how not to cry,
when not to break.
She’ll sit up into the wee twilight
Hours curving letters across
nipples pert bud,
gently caressing sensuality,
as the sharpened pencil defines
contours of need,
black lines of repression smeared by charcoal nips and probing tips.
Blurred definitions
tainted revelations
deceitful realisations
Graphite creations… how she pondered
now the way we draw our lines
in pencil, temporary markings
leaving a gentle trail
of destruction across
naked bodies beneath Lunar glows
Wild oats, taken, made and sown
Pick ups and throws…
The allure of graphite, need
erased, redrawn… Redrawn.

Karen Hayward ©2017

Image and words 

The essence of now.


I forgot
I forgot to look to the skies
As silver petals fell from the celestial heavens ,
And then I saw, and then I felt,
the angels golden breath upon my brow.
Worn down by words spat from Satan’s mouth,
I wonder is he devil sent?
Again I look up, I look up high,
silver petals falling from celestial skies,
the angels golden breath upon my brow
I feel the presence of the earth,
I feel the essence of now.

Karen Hayward ©2017
Image and words

A whisper on golden rays.


Yonder ethereal skies your essence

sweeps across my soul embracing

my darkest shadows with tender

kisses of devotion. And I am defenseless,

the ancient echo of love sung by the morning

bird tingles across frozen drops of dew.

Spiraled imprint of frost delicately

painted across whimsical dreams thawing

at the warmth of your tongue,

the caress of your lips,

the embrace of your love that


countless seconds dispersing the atoms

of our existence.

Breaking times barrier,

colliding with celestial storms

reaching now from beyond the realm,

a single flame we burn in the echos

of our infinite universe an eternal

love the expansion of our souls united in

a chaotic flurry of brilliance.

Karen Hayward * ©2017

Image and words.

Soldier of ancient knowing.


My soul is the creation of a million broken pieces,

decoupaged together with vintage paper towels

covering cracks, slithers of white glue barely filling

the crevices of histories voice echoing through the

lost caves of innocence.

Smashed China, pastel floral’s

lost in the vivid hues of self destruction…I wear my scars

with the whispered honor of shame, the rivets caused

by the dull blades have become storage boxes of rational

thought, irrationally taped together in tears that fall only as

darkness reigns…Even I must stay relatively sane.

And deep within this constellation of thoughts I search

the battle ground for your essence. Praying I will find you

safely jumping across the stepping stones of

my existence, but alas my horizon is clear and yet

I feel you so near. A soldier of love I find you

peeling back torn memories, embracing the deep

etches of self doubt and kissing away the deep echos of

darkness that shroud me from light. My honored Knight

taking arms against this lifelong fight.

My soul…

is the creation of a million broken pieces,

decoupaged together with your love and vintage paper towels

covering cracks, slithers of white glue and your gentle insistent

whispers of encouragement  filling the crevices of histories

voice echoing through the lost caves of my innocence.

Karen Hayward ©2017

Image Michael J.Garland. ©2017

When the shadows speak.

Your Dad was right, youre useless, a failure. No wonder your Mum ran of with the shop keeper To escape her good for nothing son

Tim edgily paced around the small cluttered living room. His hands shaking from three days without sleep. His muscles tired and weakened. Taking a long swig of whiskey, he silently begged for the alcohol to invade his body, to comatose him, he begged for sleep, perhaps even death.

Your not a failure. He stole away your Mummy, your childhood. You can still make Daddy proud

The sweet, innocent female voice, reminded Tim, of his Mother.

Pick up the gun, Tim” she whispered to him.

Tim paused in front of a broken mirror. His eyes sunken and bloodshot, skin deathly pale. It had been three days since his Fathers funeral. He tried to sleep, but memories of his fractured childhood stopped him. For seventeen years his Father had controlled his every movement. Had beaten him to within an inch of his life. Had constantly reminded him, that it was his fault ’Mummy’ had left.

Are we doing this, or what

Tim turned to where he had heard the mans voice come from. Looking directly at the armchair, his drunken dad had occupied for so many years, he half cried, half shouted,

I just want to sleep, I want my Mummy”.

No one noticed the anxious, paranoid man walking along Main-street. His hands dug deep into his pockets, as he rubbed the cold metal barrel. Without hesitation, he pulled out the 22 Calibre gun, and pointed it towards the shop keeper.

You stole my Mummy

The shopkeeper looked from Tim to the gun. His shaking hands rose in a peaceful gesture. Tim pressed hard against the trigger, hoping for relief from the voices.

Please, I did it. Let me sleep

It was quite the voices had gone. for now.

Karen Hayward ©2017

Saving Timmy. (Short story

Please, pick up, pick up

Clarise gripped the phone tightly, her hands shaking. The TV blaring behind her.


John, John its him

Clarise, is that you? Its who? Don?

Oh John, its him, its Timmy

Clarise was no longer able to hold back the tears, they shook through her body. She crumbled to the floor. The soft pink carpet pressed close to her face as she pulled her body round into the feotal position. The phone cradled between her ear and the carpet she could no longer speak, her sadness over whelemed her.

Clarise, Clarise. Im coming home

John slammed down the receiver, and ran from the office. He was at least a twenty minute drive from home, but knew the roads would be quite,. The school run mums would just be getting in for their mornings cups of coffee. At this time of day he could do it in far less. John felt the rush of warm air, being forced through the car windows as he raced home to Clarise. He was confused, Timmy turning up was cause for celebration not tears. Clarise had longed for this day for fifth teen years. Leaving her son with Don had broken her, so why would she be crying. As the car turned the corner into Maddison Road, John was met with a crime scene.


Excuse me mate, whats happened here?

Johns voice was full of anxiety, a detour now would add precious minutes onto his journey. A young man in a grey suit, approached the car.

Been here twenty minutes already mate, apparently, its that serial killer again. Killed the chap that runs the shop up the way there. Of course the police arent saying much

Shit, Eddie? No way

John had known Eddie since him and Clarise had moved here, he had worked for him in the early days. He would grieve for Eddie later, for now he had to get home to Clarise. The cars were backing up and turning the car now would prove almost impossible. So pulling the car over into a free parking spot, John grabbed his phone, and left the car there and walked, or perhaps ran the rest of the way.

As he approached the house he could see the curtains were closed, this was not unsual. Clarise suffered from depression, years of abuse at the hands of her ex husband had left her fragile. Leaving her son behind had tipped her over the edge.

Clarise, Clarise

John called her name as fumbled at the door. Slamming the door behind him, he ran from room to room before finally discovering her on the bedroom floor. He wrapped his arms around and gently lifted her onto the kingsize bed.

Clarise, my darling whats happened?

The TV still blaring out, Clarice reached for the remote and pressed rewind, hands shaking, tears rolling down her tear soaked cheeks she croaked,


John looked at the TV screen, news footage of the recent murder was being played out in front of him.

Clarise I dont understand, that wasnt Timmy that was murdered.

The TV began fast forwarding, before coming to a stop . A mans face filled the screen. It wasnt the blue eyes, or the blonde hair that had caught Clarices attention. It was the vivid birth mark that sat below the mans left eye. The dark brown Eagle shape, that she had seen so many times. John leaned in close and ran his fingers across the brown Eagle that sat on Clarices left cheek, he looked back towards the TV. The resemblance was clear, but the man looked nothing like Clarice.

Clarice, sweetheart, this man could be anyone. Just because he has the same birthmark as you doesnt mean its Timmy

You mean the same birth mark me and Timmy have.

Clarice handed John a photo. The young lady and small boy smiled lovingly at the camera. The boys blonde hair and green eyes contrasted alongside the young ladys brown hair and brown eyes. Their faces so close to the camera the brown eagle shape visible on their cheeks, seemingly the only genetic connection they had.

Clarice reached again for the remote controller.

He needs me John.

A female news reporters voice echoed through the bedroom.

An eye witness, has reported hearing the young man that is wanted in connection with this murder, asking for his Mummy

Clarice paused the TV. The details were beginning to sink in and John sank back into the pillows. He reached over and took the phone from Clarices hand.

Clarice, we need to ring the police.

Clarice turned and looked at John, a frown settling above her red puffy eyes.

The police? Why would we need the police? You heard them, he just wants his mummy. John we need to go find him. My boy needs me. This is my fault, I never should have left him

Clarice, you had no choice

John thought back to the day Clarice had turned up at his shop. Her eye bloodied and bruised, her clothes ripped about her body. Days later the bruises mapped out across her broken skin. She had stumbled sobbing into his arms. The most he had gotten out of her that day was that they had to go, now. The car was already packed, their affair had started of innocently a year before, they were friends she could trust him, unlike her husband. John had finally convinced her to leave him, had promised to take care of her and Timmy. But that day, it was just Clarice, no Timmy. John begged Clarice to go to the police, promised they would get Timmy, but she told him simply to drive.

Two years ago, sitting beside the Christmas tree, wrapping another present Timmy would never open, Clarice told John about that day. Timmys green eyes had opened in shock as the cold barrell of the gun was pressed hard against his temple. He was only five, fear paralysed him as pee ran down his legs onto the kitchen floor. Half dragging him, Timmy had slipped, Don not expecting it had lost his grip, Timmy had landed face first in his own urine. Clarice raced over to him, Don held out his arm, hitting Clarice, he beat her again and again for daring to try and leave him, for trying to take away his son, for embarrassing him, for so many reasons. Timmy cowered under the kitchen table watching as his mum was beaten. Don reached under and dragged him out holding him in his arms he pushed the barrell of the gun into Timmys small mouth. Blood was filling into Clarices mouth and for a second she wondered if the metallic taste was similar to what Timmy was tasting.

Get the fuck out, or I kill him, you hear? Now fucking go, dont ever come back come back. Dont bother going to the police either, cos by the time they get here, little Timmys guts gonna be covering the walls

Don, please, please

Don took the safety latch of the gun and pulled back the trigger. Clarice stood up and ran as fast as she could, she hid amongst some bushes on the deserted road, afraid of every bang she heard, before finally leaving and heading towards the shop.

John wondered if the 22 calibre gun being used by the serial killer was the very same gun that been forcefully pushed into his mouth when he has just a small boy.

Clarice, he needs help. We must tell the police

No John. No police I have to go to him, he needs me

Clarice walked over to her dresser and through some clothes onto the bed, she was muttering under her breath and moving solemnly around the room. John placed his hands over hers and begged her to reconsider.

He might be dangerous Clarice.

He wont hurt me John, he needs me

Clarice he could be anywhere.

Oh no John, I know where he will be. By the lake, under the old oak tree, its where we always went to escape

Please Clarice we have to call the police.

Clarice was no longer listening. She hurriedly dressed herself, and placed the bag into the back of the car. She wrapped a cardigan over her shoulders, the summer sun was hot, but she knew next to the lake the cool breeze and over grown trees would offer no warmth. She looked over at John who was standing by the front door, colour having drained from his face he was looking hurt, confused and scared.

John, you can either come with me or stay here. Either way I am going to get my son back. Every boy needs his mummy

Her face was filled with determination, her brown eyes large and scared looking had taken on a lease of life as the excitement of seeing her son again sunk in.

Ok sweetheart, youre right. We failed Timmy before, not this time. I need to ring work let them know I wont be back, and let me grab a few things. Can you wait that long?

Sure, but be quick

John walked over to Clarice and pecked her on the lips, smiling into her beautiful face he rubbed his thumb along the birthmark. He hurriedly went back into the house, his heart thumping, all he could think was that he failed Timmy and Clarice once before he couldnt fail them again. He picked up the phone and dialled the number. The conversation was quick, and he replaced the reciever, wondering if he had done the right thing.

The bags sat neatly in the boot, anyone looking would think they were heading away on holiday. Looking back at the house, a small tear raced down Johns cheek. The two bedroom house had never heard the sounds of childrens laughter, it was meant to be a family home, but John wondered how that would ever be possible.

Why dont I drive sweetheart, you rest

John stepped round to the drivers side, all the while smiling at Clarice. He reached for the sat nat and punched in the postcode that even after fifth teen years he could still remember, as they got closer he would ask Clarice for further directions.

It had been maybe 3 hours since the murder in Maddison road and John wondered if that would be enough time for Timmy to have travelled back to his home town. The trip would take roughly an hours driving, assuming Timmy could drive.

Clarice sat back in the seat, the leather seat felt cool against her skin. The strawberry air freshner that hung from the mirror was new and the smell was intense. The blue skies above filled her hope of a new day. The shock of seeing her son on the TV this had all but gone, she saw now that she could save him. For the first time in fifth teen years she felt truly happy, like she had a reason for living. She looked over at John and smiled. Her saviour, he had saved her, and now he was going to help her save her son.

Turn left at the next road John

Johns palms were sweating and his hands were slipping around the steering wheel. Looking out from the window, all he could see were trees, and the long deserted dirt road that led to the house Clarise, Don and Timmy had shared.

‘Pull over, we have to walk from here’


John nervously pulled the car over, and stepped out. Whilst Clarise rummaged around in the boot of the car, John looked around them in all directions looking for signs that they had been followed. The walk was short, far shorter than John had been expecting. Recent rainfall had left a slightly damp smell of moss in the air. The thick brambles, foliage and bushes looked impenetrable, but Clarise glided through cutting from left to right as if remembering a well worked route. John fumbled with some torn up paper in his pocket, idley ripping small pieces and dropping them, for fear of never being found out here. John was reminded of the child hood story Hansel and Gretal, walking towards the mouth of evil.

‘Stop, John. It’s him’

John looked over at the young man sitting at the edge of the lake. His eyes red, his body visibly shaking. The young man was talking rapidly into his hands, looking all around him, the gun lay at his side. Timidly Clarise stepped forward into the clearing, the sun shone down on her, crowning her in light.

‘Timmy, it’s mum’

Her voice sounded angelic, soft and caring. The young man looked up at what he believed was an angel in the disgiuse of his mum. Standing up slowly, tears rolling down his face, he stepped toward Clarise.

‘POLICE, FREEZE, you are surrounded’

Clarise looked over at John, the hurt so clearly etched on her face.

‘John, what did you do?’

‘Im so sorry Clarise, im so so sorry’

What happened next is a blur. Timmy reached into his pocket. The police assuming him to be armed, open fired. Clarise, well John wondered if he had ever seen Clarise move as fast as she had that day. Then the deafening silence, followed by a soft wimpering.

‘Oh no Clarise, Clarise’

John held Clarises bleeding body in his arms. Clarise whispered to John.

Did I save him, John?’

John looked over at the bleeding body of the young man. His bare arms on show, cigarette burns littering along the mottled skin of his arm. The young mans face looked relieved. John wondered whether Clarise had saved her son, death surely was the only escape the torture this boy had surely endured over the years, a boy so broken he had turned to evil itself to find sanctuary.

‘My beautiful angel Clarise, yes you saved him.’

Clarise let her heavy eyelids closed, s small smile sat lovingly on her lips, as she took her last breath.

Karen Hayward 2017

The Essence of Gold Dust.

SS850353 (2)

Drowning in the essence of your love,

pool of desire pulling me in as your

ocean embraced my soul in sudden

distraction as the air was pulled from

my loveless lungs. Seconds turned

to minutes, hours crashing through

days melding into weeks…now time,

is the foundation of our existence.

Clarity of thought to which you have

whispered, a constant ebb of love,

the ocean, Pandora’s stained essence.

You? You are the gold dust sprinkled

on the oceans surface, calling to my soul,

pleading I rise, I breathe, I live …I love.

Treading water beneath horizons of eternity,

celestial skies illuminated in your

cyan eyes.


I have never felt so free.

Karen Hayward ©2017