Live Wires

Photo by Eunice Stahl on Unsplash
Photo by Eunice Stahl on Unsplash

Live wires dare to touch

To spark in cobalt blue

To start a fire and burn the world

To burn this observer, too

Live wires, they dance

They pulse and wiggle like worms

Multicoloured, though browning

Touching each other in turns

Live wires, we were, once

Not split and spitting

But a single conducting cable

From where I was sitting

Live wires drawn together

To kill the gloom

When truly the gloom was ours

In that little, sheltered room

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.


The Hesitant Breath

Photo by Chelsea Gates on Unsplash

Sometimes the need to breathe overwhelms. Our throats constrict, tongues swell, eyes bulge like bullfrogs. A blue sky darkens to ocean, the world reversed, our bodies upside down. Not even the earth offers a steadying reassurance, volatile like an undulating sea. We drown, eyes open. We gasp for air. The worst of it? There’s no rational explanation. Just another day or night in a life of many. Just another second on this road called life. 

These moments are fleeting, though occasionally, they linger. But the body always remembers what to do, after all, without a predisposition for breathing, why even have lungs? 

Breathing is what we do when we close our eyes. We leave the body to do its thing as we dream of better. Unlike the accordion that requires a good squeeze, or the bike pump that demands manipulation, our bodies do not. So, why do we need so many teachers to help us? The answer is simple: We don’t. 

Yet we have apps to follow and sites to see, gurus to advise, and leotarded superstars to offer salvation. If only we could breathe like them. If only we could do it right.

And we try. We try so very hard to understand. To appreciate. To live the dream. If we do it right, who knows, perhaps Death will never take us. 

Death, the dark force behind it all. The one who wants us to fail, to gasp, flounder, capitulate. He cares not that we breathe or that we might only sometimes breathe, just that one day we won’t. Even thinking about it makes our chests constrict, breaths shorten, noses block. As dogs before a desert without master or chain, free to explore, but scared to stray far from the puddle at their feet, we hesitate. Death smiles. 

Hesitation is his dark foot in the door. It is doubt. It is a taster. That instant of will our breaths return, even when knowing they should. So, we regather like they’ve taught us. We control ourselves with the skill a baby would admire. We breathe, deep and long, our cheeks puffed out and brows sweating. 

They teach us to listen to our breaths and from there ourselves. The body will know. The body will calm itself. But in this calmness, this cosmic realignment, we hear what our breaths have immersed. An app shuts down. A website fails. A guru collapses to the ground quite dead. The leotard splits to howls of universal derision. 

We breathe because we want to. We breathe because we must. But one day in the not-so-distant future, we won’t. On that day, Death can take us. On that day, our accordions shall not require being played. I, for one, shall welcome it, as I hope will you. 

The End — Almost.

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed..



I once watched an artist paint the sky. His brush caressed the canvas like a lover’s kiss. His every fluent movement was poetry in motion. At least, I thought so. The painter did not.

Whether it was frustration, or a lack of imagination, who knew? But the fellow grew so incensed, he snatched each sheet from his easel and tossed them into the wind. There they drifted like enormous snowflakes off to decorate unfamiliar landscapes.

The trees provided shade and anonymity. These I used for hours. The painter remained unaware of my presence throughout. And although I couldn’t see what he painted, I took a certain satisfaction in knowing I would.

As the sun evaporated into the river in tangerine bursts, things changed. The poor fellow’s inability to capture what he wished gained momentum until, in one shrieking outburst, he threw his palette away. It landed upside down in the water.

I expected to see a brief flash of vermillion, perhaps a touch of violet, cerulean or emerald green; there was only black. The paint bled into the river like a cut vein during an eclipse. Spilled ink might have described it, but ink had a purpose and this did not. What a waste. What a terrible waste.

I clasped a hand to my mouth, but too late. The cough echoed into infinity.

The painter turned. He wept. Tears streamed from his old, rheumy eyes.

“I’m sorry,” I spluttered.

The painter looked right through me, right into my soul. His eyes took in my colours, my personal palette. He refused to stop swamping me in his sorrows. I feared we’d both drown.

When the sun disappeared below the horizon with a pfft of extinguished flame, only then did he look away. To heaven, actually.

“Ah,” he crooned. “Now I remember.”

“Remember what?” The words left my lips without permission.

“Raven. Her hair was raven. If only I’d not tossed my paints away. Ah, well!”

Head drooped and feet shuffling, the painter packed up his belongings and made to leave. He paused as the moon came out in mercury silvers, turned back. “Never forget what she looks like, young man.”

“I won’t,” I promised.

With that, he departed. I never saw him again.

I often looked back and mulled over his words. He’d seemed so genuine. But only as I too regarded her bone white features and robes of liquid obsidian, did I know who he meant. I couldn’t have captured her raven hair either, as her ebony eyes already held my own.

An End.

Thank you for reading.


Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash


Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

They differ to us substantially. The most apparent of these is their appearance. We stand upon two legs, make our way through a tactile world with two hands and regard our universe through two eyes. In a more direct description, we are paired. This pairing navigates beyond the physical into the realms of belief. We believe we should live our lives in pairs, couples, if you will, so we do. We are a species who thrive in the plural. A species must thrive if it wishes to endure.

They exist in the singular, derived from a singular entity, one that split to spawn many. Wherever possible, they refrain from interaction and keep to themselves. They live alone, talk alone and enjoy doing so. Physically, we are comparable, but they do not see it this way. They look through two eyes, but act as though looking through none. They have two legs, but refuse to use them unless necessary. Their paired arms and hands have become so conjoined with technology, they have become indistinguishable from the greater whole.

Their name? They have many names and many subsets. They dislike being classified as many and prefer singular — as is their way — identification. My colleagues term them vermin, but the correct and almost forgotten genus is human. They are a strange lot, yet as a scientist, I find them intriguing. Though at their present rate, I suspect I shall not for much longer.

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Emotional Contraction

I curl inwards
Though no sleeping rose am I
Waiting for tomorrow’s sun
Protecting the bloom
Tighter and tighter until it hurts
Fingers curling, toes, too
A spine made willow
Bent by autumn storms
This is the life you’ve granted
Sights and sounds
Growling through the dusk
Moaning through the midnight
Weeping till the dawn
An emotional contraction
I’ll never unfurl

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Skeletal Explanations

Photo by Ryan Gagnon on Unsplash

She plays his bones like a glockenspiel
He likes how it tickles

He grins at how her skull echoes
She just glad he’s talking in her ear

Theirs is a musical marriage
Hollow notes and ricochets

A tickle of the ivories, they say
But who ever played their own

Such skeletal explanations multiply
As their symphony develops

How grateful are the moles and worms
Now they’ve taken it below

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

These Depths

Courtesy Oladimeji Odunsi on
Courtesy Oladimeji Odunsi on

There are no depths to this loneliness, it is endless, whereas, I am not. Trenches of ultramarine night stretch out into an unseen distance; I follow them with my fingertips, groping wildly. Creatures flit past like agitated fish, or scattering bats, or just my dreams. Go, I say. But nobody hears.

Somewhere, a raven sings a sonnet, or caws a eulogy. I’m no longer sure. An inverted moon plunges with no intention of sending moonbeams my way. The stars flee. An ebony darkness fills the void. I feel it behind my eyes, pulsing.

Once, I lived the life all younglings pray for, of family, future, and past. Once, but not any more. Now, I loiter on the periphery of a something long forgotten. It is Death. She waits with open arms, ready to wrap her nightshade shawl about my shoulders and give me what I’ve lost. What have I lost?

These depths. This depth. This death. Ah, there you are.

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Indelicate Descents

Photo by Ning Shi on Unsplash

Falling like feathers through each other’s mind,
this is our way, these delicate descents.
But not always.

Our hearts once rose like rocks, forced from Vesuvius by tectonic immensity.
As gold-plated angels, we ascended.
As false gods, we looked down on them all.

Sparks extinguish.
Lights go out.
Coatings tarnish.
Heights are made from which to fall.

I see her, feel her, think of her as a rainbow does the sky.
One without the other is pointless,
as only one gleams.

She sees me, hears me, thinks of me as a star does the endless night.
Such pinprick pomposity!
Blink and it’s gone.

We tumble like feathers in an indelicate descent.
We tumble.

Another dream soured.

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

The Closest We Came

Photo by Amanda Mocci on Unsplash

The closest we came to forever was the moment in which we gave up. Our breaths held and never really returned. The moment drew out to seconds, to hours, to more. Your eyes dimmed like exhausted candles. Mine were already black.

The closest we came to forgiveness was that moment we met at the wake. Dressed in black from head to toe, I barely recognised you. I said Hello and you almost said it back.

The closest we came to something was that moment when we both said, I do. I remember how it felt, not how it sounded, as those three tiny letters sunk beneath my skin and slipped off your well-oiled own.

The closest we came was closer than most but never close enough for me.

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

The Don’t Before Goodbye

Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

Don’t hold me to the mountain
Don’t pin me to the sea
The air is all I ask for
I crave it desperately

Don’t slice me with a raindrop
Don’t strike me with a cloud
Just freedom in the moment
I lift my eyes unbowed

Don’t kill me with these falsehoods
Don’t put me in a hole
You think that I am desperate
But you don’t own my soul

Don’t club me with a toothpick
Don’t hang me with a tie
Because I’m there already
My friends, this is goodbye

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.