Waves of Insurrection



Rain drummed incessantly on the shell of my hood as I walked through the rusting iron gates of the public park. Fingers red and burning as they gripped the plastic handles of shopping bags, I started the long trek up the hill, rivulets of water streaming down the path to run around the soles of my shoes. I trudged steadily upwards, getting closer to the clouds, passing the ‘Mediterranean Zone’ with its laurel trees and then the ‘Prairie Gardens‘ with its grasses weighed down by water. As I walked higher and the rain fell down with more intensity I began to make out wisps of a voice ghosting through the watery air. It was so soft that I had to turn my ear towards the peak of the hill to hear it against the pattering raindrops. Intrigued, I walked faster, squelching upwards towards the source of the voice and the water. Passing the rhododendrons of the ‘Asian Zone’ and the clipped hedges of the ‘Lost Garden’ I came to the green lawn that spread downwards from the Edwardian glasshouses that stood at the edge of the park. On the grass stood a wooden stage and the source of the voice. Above the stage hovered a dark cloud and the source of the rain. I sat on a park bench, facing the direction from which I had come, to contemplate both.

I sat next to my bags of shopping as the opera singers rehearsed for the next day’s concert. Behind the stage, grassy slopes slid away to reveal a vista of what I had just been a small part of: undulating waves of redbrick terraces, grubby spires breaking free from the parallel lines to shoot upwards towards a seething sky. Streaks of cloud scudded at right angles to the spires, some high, some low, some a pale white, some a bruised blue and some a peachy red as they reflected the rays of the dying summer sun falling behind the western hills. Bolts of that fading sunlight speckled the urban blocks, dancing across house windows to produce a sparkling luminescence that flickered in waves across the hills. This shifting mosaic of light and colour formed the backdrop to the motionless stage as, overhead, a lower dark cloud moved stubbornly slower than the rest to pour its contents onto the heads of those few who watched the rehearsal.

A few damp figures composed this audience; the elderly, the unemployed, and young mothers with pushchairs. These figures stood in disparate clusters in front of the stage or, like me, sat on the benches that lined the path. One enthusiastic group had even produced small flags to wave at the climax of each song, striving in vain to shake the cheap rectangles of red, white and blue plastic free from the heavy water that weighed them down. We listened in the rain as the singer sung songs of victory, glory and hope; the words and ideas as dusty and old as a grandfather clock, a porcelain teapot or a cucumber sandwich.

During one such song, a single shaft of sunlight shone across the stage to fall on the ‘Western Temperate Zone’ and reflect off the glistening bark of the native oaks. As it did so, the silken waves of rain sparkled with the line of falling sun, the convergence of light and water representing the brief merging of cycles that had continued for aeons. Behind these curtains of flickering light the orchestra reached a crescendo of noise and the singer held onto a wavering note. Suddenly, as he did so, the whole scene was bathed briefly in a flash of nearby lightning to burn the outline of the scene onto the retinas of the watching few. Seconds later a loud blast of summer thunder tore the watery scene asunder to shock the singer from his third ‘never’ and upset the harmony of the instruments. The performance faltered as rhythms and pitches clashed together in anarchic waves of clattering metal and rasping air.

The dying orchestra grew quieter than the pattering raindrops and the feet of the audience members shifted on the sodden grass. The flags hung limply in the rain, no longer moved by waves of patriotism. The unemployed and the elderly looked around, embarrassed for the musicians. Then suddenly the opera singer broke into a giggle that flowed into wild laughter. His huge lungs went from belting out lines about nationalistic mercantilism, to silence, and then to generating booming laughter. The orchestral players looked around at each other and began to laugh too.  As they did so more bolts of sunlight shot down to fall across the glistening grass like spotlights across a Gilbert and Sullivan stage or like searchlights against a Vera Lynn sky. The rain lessened to a drizzly mist, more air than water, and I pushed my hood back to warm my forehead in the soft evening light. With the laugher behind me, I picked up my shopping bags and left to walk out the entrance of the park, upwards towards the clouds that flowed in waves of red and white across the darkening blue of the summer sky.


© 2012 Thomas Halvë


In the early morning I went to post a parcel in the shop that stood on the crest of the hill. Standing behind lightly sweating office workers, I queued in the shadows to wait for the post-office counter to open. Behind me dappled summer sunlight danced through the windows to speckle the floor of the shadowy shop. In front of me soft electric light shone through the gaps of the shutters of the closed counter to fall in crooked lines across my body. Through these gaps I could see the clerks sipping coffee and gossiping stories, enjoying the last few seconds of leisure-time before the working day began. We expectant customers stood in our brief stripe of intransience as this muffled conversation flowed through the parcel holes, outlines of other lives winding their way through the square of light to intersect briefly with our own. A Jill was having a baby, a Sue was moving house and a Tom was thinking about divorce. I felt slightly pleased for Jill but indifferent for Sue. As I was considering Tom’s plight, the three hands of the clock converged on the number nine for the first time that day.  In concordant harmony with the hands, shutters were released to shatter the silence of the shop and spread light into the shadows. Stamp went the stamp, thanks love said the clerk as I handed her some coins. I left the post-office, Tom’s predicament to rest on a moral fence in my mind for eternity.

Pleased with my early morning productivity I put some music on as I turned to walk parallel with the lines of traffic descending the hill. Their exhaust fumes entered my lungs as the drumbeats entered my consciousness to produce a heady fusion of sound and chemicals. I looked up, where was I walking again? I collected my thoughts, determining that I was in fact heading down towards the centre. As I strode downhill through the clouds of carbonised oxide, a small drop of water splashed onto my neck. I looked upwards to search for its source. Crows and ravens stared confrontationally down at me from the ash trees that lined the road. Avoiding their obsidian eyes I looked past them to where a kestrel sailed on the heated up-drafts of urban air, staring downwards at some flash of movement. Above this circling hunter a summer moon shimmered innocently in the morning blue, so faint that it disappeared in my peripheral vision. The source of the water was not apparent. I made a ‘hmmm’ noise out of habit although really I just didn’t care.

The hill flattened out into the bowl of the city as I reached the main street with its tramlines and shops. Busy shoals of late-to-work office workers darted around me leaving trails of frustration in their wakes. I strolled through this mesh of rippling equanimity, hands in pockets, unseen fingers tapping against my thigh to the rhythm of the music. Whilst one song faded into another a second drop of water landed on me, this time on my nose. I stopped to stand and stare up at the blue of the ozone as it rested in hazy slumber to gaze back at the blue of my irises.  As I stood looking upwards with my hands on my hips, the buzz of activity around me faded to a dull hum. A cloud-white seagull glided at the far periphery of my vision, so tiny that it faded in and out of the blue. The ghostly pearl of the summer moon shimmered behind it. Suddenly an eel-like tram, ten feet tall, roared out of the ground to thunder past me inches away from where I stood. Faces peered out of the windows, panes of dirty glass separating their noses from the tips of my teapot elbows. I stepped back and the new song died as the earphones fell out of my ears. A young passenger laughed at my startled look, his open mouth fading into the angle of the window as the tram slid away. I wiped the drop of water from my nose and turned around.

© 2012 Thomas Halvë

Two Drops in a Shower


Torrents of water pour down the hillside and across the path. Inside the shell of my raincoat the sweater that sticks to my skin fails to bother me. I walk in the rain to escape. No-one would be out in this weather. And then, when one of those magnificent patches of blue sky comes along, oh bliss! And all to myself.

Streams of rain flood down the valley and across the track. My feet are swimming in muddy water but my mind is an island of sweet solitude. A sense of being that grows as each falling raindrop beats tranquillity into my forehead. Who else would be out in this weather? And up above; those heavenly patches of blue that seem to streak along whilst the clouds hold still.

The insides of my boots are wet but I rejoice in the discomfort of my feet. My legs pump back and forth like two unstoppable pistons fuelled by the falling rain. I stride along the ribbon of path, a clammy but contented colossus.

I wear sandals because I just don’t care. The water and earth flows between my toes, I am one with the hydration. No sound, not even birdsong, just the pattering of rain redressing the equilibrium upset by the imprints of my transient presence.   

Oh, a tree? Oh!

What? I don’t believe it!

Whoever he is, he has ruined my walk, absolutely ruined it. What the hell is he doing anyway, it’s torrential!

Well that’s it; he’s spoilt it for me. Why can’t I just be allowed to enjoy something on my own for once?

He’s getting closer, is it me or is he walking along the middle of the path like he owns it! He’s on the right now.

Is he on the left or the right, walk straight man! I shouldn’t even have to be thinking about this. He’s on the right now.

Stupid man.

Stupid man.



Better not be anyone else.

Hope that’s it.

I liked his sandals, very bold. Oh well, onwards and upwards. Have to get to the top to have my sandwiches and flask of coffee.

He had a nice jacket; I wonder what his name was? Probably just the kind of person I should be making friends with. Oh well, down the hill I go.

Oh wow, bliss! What a shade of blue! Where is he again? Oh, too far away.

Incredible! Amazing! What a spectacular rainbow. Where is he? Oh, too far away.

I wonder if he’s seeing this too? 



© 2012 Thomas Halvë



Colours seep together as the intense white of the sun obliterates my perception. Within this washed-out world I push down on hot aluminium pedals, rubber tyres already beginning to roll along hot tarmac. As the bike gathers pace I squeeze the frame with my thighs and ride with no hands, tangling and untangling the headphone chord with my fingers. Slipping the buds into my ears I press down buttons that pulse the electricity that begins the music. As my hands grip the handlebars and my back arches down, the beats lay down the sinews of a framework upon which my mind can construct reality.

A shower has just passed and the clouds in the distance tell a short story of rain that has gone and rain that will come. All around me the spent water is evaporating into the ether as the sun’s hot rays vaporise its molecules into upward movement. I split this migration of hydration, puncturing the long trails of moisture as they re-begin their long journey upwards. Overhead, new clouds race along tracks of azure sky, eager to add to an ever enclosing encirclement of grey. It will rain again very soon.

Ahead of me the traffic lights are changing from amber to red. I can see the orange shades darkening into ochre as time slows and everything seems to pause. A bass beat of music pulsates through me, underlining the rhythm of the cars as they vibrate slowly behind painted lines, impatient drivers scowling as their feet begin to push down upon pedals. Everywhere water hangs in the air, a melody of molecules refracting the rays of the sun as they play towards a sky in which a kestrel floats, blown upwards on the heat that rises from the hot tarmac below. As quickly as it slowed, time resumes it’s normal speed and I accelerate, piercing the intersection at a tangent to the floods of cars that career through seconds later, front ranks of drivers angrily honking their horns.

Up ahead is a congestion of traffic. I overtake a lorry as it begins to slow down, running parallel to it as the spray from its wheels combines with the sweat from my forehead. I look up and smile at the driver as he looks down and glares at me. I swerve between stationary cars, signing my brief existence into the rising water and falling light with a flourish of liquid synergy. Thoughts rise and fall within my mind as I breathe in and out. I am one with the flow of the movement. The motionless will take care of themselves.

Suddenly I escape from the bottleneck, shooting out into an empty road like a single raindrop squeezed from a bruised cloud, falling into a blue sky. As I look to the  road ahead the music stops as it pauses between tracks. My mind settles and re-focuses even though its edges remain blurred. Sometimes I’m not sure where the stationary objects stop and the flowing movement begins. Enclosed, as we are,  in a mind of pulsing electricity driven by a heart that beats on a planet that spins in a universe that is expanding and contracting into eternity, who does?  A new beat begins as I pedal on, the sky above me steadily darkening, my fingers tapping on the handlebars without pause.



© 2012 Thomas Halvë


N.B. Four Tet ‘Pause

Eternal Leaders


I was born under a double rainbow on a holy mountain that straddles the border between ‘what I own’ and ‘what I don’t’. As my mother heaved me out beside the banks of a frozen lake, winter changed into spring.

I was born at 5:33 in a hospital on a cold Thursday. Mummy says that I looked so beautiful that she entered me into a competition to be in a soap advert!


When I grow up I will rule over twenty million people who worship me as a living god. I can hold my breath under water for one hour. Daddy says I’m the most handsomest boy in the whole world!

When I grow up I will be a star! Daddy says that I sing like an angel and that I should enter a talent competition like Pop Idol. All my friends say I’m just so pretty and that I should be a model.


When I die, rows of mourners will prostate themselves in front of my golden statue, their tears soaking into the paving slabs that I will own for eternity.

When I die I will go to heaven and everyone will be sad. Lots of people will write sad things on my Facebook page but it won’t matter because I’ll see them when they get to heaven too.



© 2012 Thomas Halvë

A Chinese New Year


I ran up the down escalator as she ran down the up, taking swipes at each other’s head’s as we passed. We did this for twenty minutes, frustrating commuters, foreigners and manual labourers alike; a thoroughly communal anti-socialism. Exhausted, we were catching our breath when she lifted a five yuan note from the ground. We yelped in delight! Debating how to spend it, she mooted the idea of actually riding on the subway!

We found the ticket machine and not knowing where to go or where we were, we pressed buttons until cards emerged. Restraining ourselves as we went down more elevators, train’s arrived on both sides of the platform. She chose the right one because, unspoken, I knew she liked the look of the advertisement painted onto the side of the carriages. I followed her as I always do.

Being accomplished elevator riders and not fully comprehending the concept of subways, we decided to walk down the carriages. Under the intense lights I could see just how grubby her face was. I told her this and she told me she doubted it was as dirty as mine. We both whooped with laughter and picked up the pace. We eventually tired of walking and got off to ride the escalators up into the fading twilight.

We gasped as we looked around. The buildings were higher than the mountains of our home! In between these megaliths the sun was setting into the smoggy haze. All nearby consciousness was focused on the sky, on the twirling rosettes waltzing their way across the penthouses of the rich and dancing through the ghost trails of fireworks long since fallen to earth. We stood and stared at the top of the escalator, those still emerging pushing past us angrily.

Cordite stung my eyes and as I wiped them I followed the smoke trails down to the ground, to where a man stood holding a burnt-out match. I recognised those clothes, that stance, that haircut. Father? No! It couldn’t be, Uncle? I shouted ‘Uncle!’ but he couldn’t hear me above the cacophonous explosions. Then suddenly his face was caught in the flash of a rocket. Neither of them. I looked at her and she looked back knowingly.

Not really having much of a bedtime plan we held hands as we stared at the sky, smiles fixed to our faces, tears at the corner of our eyes.



© 2012 Thomas Halvë

N.B.  improved immeasurably by being read to the sound of a Four Tet song (most things are improved in this way). I’d suggest ‘Circling’ from the album There is Love in You.

Beauty: A Footnote


You find the beauty of a flower

In the petals that you see.

But that’s mere pigment, shape and style,

A prostitute for bees.


You exclaim ‘how pretty! oh how fine!’

At a face, a body or nose.

At the greed or luck of inheritance

Of substance’s foes.


And to this beauty you declare your love

In breathless dreamy prose,

You whisper life and shout unfair

When all its beauty goes.


And having wasted your intransience

In this love of the façade,

You sign your life into the breeze,

A signature not made.



© 2012 Thomas Halvë


N.B. My second poem that I have written in the ten years since I left school. I wrote it to enter a poetry challenge at http://clownponders.wordpress.com