Garage roofs. Memories.


When I was young my brother taught me all the places to hide so as to avoid the wrath of our mum. She once came in from work and on seeing that there was washing up still needing doing she stood at the back door and smashed plate after plate after bowl. The cupboards were bare. My brother is just a year older than me, we have the same blue eyes and pale skin and soft temperament. He taught me to shimmy up between the ‘Turkish’ garage and ours, ‘don’t worry about the blackberry thorns’, he said as he trampled them down. ‘Just shimmy up’, he said. Climbing up was easy, we would lay on the roof and watch planes snaking through deep blue skies. She never could reach us up there and she soon forgot what it was she had been planning to punish me for. I missed many a dinner in those days, often waiting until after dark when i was alone, before I let the tears fall as the realisation hit, he had taught me to get up but never how to get down again. These were the days when I forgot my childhood and aged beyond my years. Gaining a wisdom that would become the essence of my soul.

Karen Hayward ©2016

Empty bottles fill your yard.



I sometimes sit at the kitchen table and just listen.

From here I am perfectly placed to hear the echos of

your childlike shrill as you protest in a drunken haze.

‘No, i ain’t ‘aving dat.’ I can hear your tears at the back

of your throat, you’re dragging them across your tongue

forcing them to fall, but your eyes remain dry. I have to

remind myself that you are my age and still living

like a child. A child lost somewhere in adult form among

the empty wine bottles and powder topped classic books.

I shiver at the very thought of such disrespect. But you have

been bred on disrespect and you shrug  it from

your sullen shoulders leaving behind that chip. I hear your

mothers stomach before I interpret her words, deep and

ragged she pushes them out with force from deep down

inside. Her profanities are laced in decades of hardened

fat, a vile stench clinging to each word as though it were

a dagger aimed at your back, to sit quietly alongside

the others she placed there. ‘He’ is a soft mumble of words

that match his smile. The gentle calm as he slowly sips on

red wine or vodka or gin or whatever it is you have dished out

into those overused glasses. One becomes two and his

eyes glaze, three becomes a line snorted in full view,

four becomes the anger in those piercing blue eyes.

Five becomes the thunder that rattles the walls as Mother

dearest sleeps. Six and he is heard. Seven and she sleeps.

Eight and a tornado rips through the room. The callous shriek

of who loves who more, ‘stupid, bitch, cow, slut.’ the lamp

is smashed, his voice gentle but his movements heavy.

Your eyes are no longer dry. You will scream as you always do

frustration spilling onto your bedroom walls. ‘Out.’ she’ll

scream her belly roaring. In the morning you’ll gather up

the remains of proof of who she loves more, as she sits

on the phone to her precious. Her sneers a nagging rumble

of the hunger she has to defeat you. I sometimes sit at the

kitchen table and listen as you repeat history, again and again.


Karen Hayward © 2016


Green, grass.

Soft glades of green grass,
The evening sun warm,
Sky swimmingly blue,
That’s the day I met you.

‘Oi’, you said, blocking my sun,
I looked at the floor, you wasn’t done,
‘Where’s ya brother.’
I heard you mutter.

You talked for a bit,
Right there where I sit.
Then wandered away,
Till the very next day.

A knock at the door,
She looked at the floor,
Curly brown hair
Why was she there.

A decoy of sorts,
To avoid clever thoughts,
So my brother wouldn’t know,
I happily went with the flow.

Irish in your veins,
even your name,
Your voice made me swoon,
As we watched that full moon.

Your fingers touched mine,
we drank ouzo not wine,
Laid in a church garden,
our friendship, hardened.

The summer went fast,
It wasn’t our last.
Our paths intertwined,
you never became mine.

The secrets caught up a few years
Ahead, and my brother said never,
Not even if dead.

You held my soft heart,
We had come so far,
whispered goodbye,
Both of us cried.

Seven little sheep, to help me sleep.

I still remember the long coach trip,
Hot and muggy,
I curled into a tiny ball,
My head resting on his legs,
As the wheels turned,
Pulling us closer to home.
All of us together,
My father,
And me.
He saved us
In the dead of night,
On new years eve,
It was a welcome reprieve.

Four years passed,
You were an image,
Of the long forgotten past.
I remember the station,
So many faces,
My tiny little heart, racing.
You handed out hugs and delicate kisses,
To him,
And her.

Blood was the first thing i saw,
Standing at that door,
As intoxication filled my eyes
And i hung back, shy.
You gave out gifts,
Our every wish,
And brought what money
Cannot buy.
that night, i cried.

And four became two,
My heart turned blue.
Alone in the dark,
The dark biker parked,
Watching, waiting
To tear us apart.

Alone and afraid,
Our futures were made.
When darkness fell,
And from the depths of sleep,
I yelled,
He, with the blackberry hair,
Whispered to me,
‘It’s ok, i still care.’
he taught me to count,
With the numbers i knew,
The little white sheep,
that kept away hell.

I remember the nights,
when i was full of fright,
Without brothers or sisters,
To make it alright.
You took away her,
You took away him,
And you took away him, with the blackberry hair.
I was just a little girl,
With a strawberry blonde curl.