Blood-Red Skies



Blue are the eyes staring through the darkness

of deep isolation circling a leafless tree of wisdom.

Dry are the grey bones of lovers lost on this barren

Earth scorched by a burning sun with naked heat but

tepid is the water I find surrounding my troubled skin.

Cold is the welcome by the hearth of your hoar house,

your stone walls dripping red with the sweat of my disdain,

the disdain you pile upon me like the fetid remains of

respect under a tonne of faeces poured liberally over life.

Fertile green is the meadow I wander, far away from here,

towards the high mountains and deep rifts of longing.

Empty is the luggage I haul through this land of skulls,

of yellow bones, of black socket-less eyes, of lipless lies

of grey flies crying crocodile tears of shining quick silver.

Clear is the end I near, but never reach, under blood-red skies.



Rochester, 2016


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Flight is in Flight

At last my favourite short story has seen the published light of day. Flight is in flight in “Figures in the Mist”, another anthology of tales and poems and great illustrations brought to you by ATLA Publishing:


You can purchase your copy of this wonderful little book here:

Please read AND review! Share you positive views on my work and that of the other great writers and artists in this collection.


Malek Montag

Rochester, 2016


Follow me on Twitter @Malek_Montag16

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Long are the Nymph’s Limbs



Long are the nymph’s limbs lithe in their being

close on white cotton, satin spread wantonly apart,

and close is my moment of mature desire relived.

She wakes like a wave of emerald sea upon my shore

and my sturdy vessel veteran of many voyages sails

her pristine clear aqua vitae of blue, of red, of gold.

Sweet is the wet I feel lapping against my solid keel

as I plough my prow through her furrowed swell.

Saline sweat smears our skin like seawater washing,

drenching us in sin of a forbidden harbour plundered.

We lock like gates holding in still waters, safe from

the tempestuous wrath of the great green ocean.

The horizon is a distant place, flat lined of nothing.

We, here, curling into our heated being, lie in circles

of one heart, one mind, of bodies both young and old.



Rochester, 2016


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The Foodie Book

Stuck for something to eat tonight? Got a dinner party coming up? Want to impress your boss, his wife, your girlfriend or your boyfriend? Then make a meal of Catherine Broughton’s The Foodie Book. It’s packed with recipes, illustrations and the odd short story, including mine: “A Waterloo for My Wellington”.


Listen Catherine’s recent interview here…

and then purchase and review the book here:

Have a wonderful read!


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Short Stories and Tall Tales

Come and spend some time in the company of some great writers and artists/illustrators, not least yours-truly. Buried within the beauty of this volume are my short stories “Checkmate” and “The Queen, Her Soldier, His Lover and Her Teacher”.



“No, not like that, son,” said the man to the boy sitting opposite; “That one’s a Knight. It doesn’t move like that. Knights move like this,” and showed the boy how a Knight moved by picking up a white horse figure and counting ahead three of the squares etched into the table before a ninety degree turn “to the left or right. Okay?” The boy nodded and replaced his black horse a mask of deflation and defeat covering his face like chocolate spread. A stranger sitting across the aisle from the pair folded his paper and placed on the table in front of him, and looked at the boy.

“You gotta learn,” said the boy’s father: “It’s strategy. You gotta out-think your opponent all the time. It’s the only way to survive. Look at yer dad, boy. Keep one move ahead all the time.”

Again, the boy nodded but his features asked, why? Why did he have to keep one move ahead of his opponents? And who were these opponents anyway? His eyes focused on the board in front of him and watched helplessly as his dad, leaning into the table and dominating the scene, took black pieces one by one until there was little left to protect his King.

“Checkmate!” said Dad: “Learn from your mistakes boy, learn from your mistakes, and one day you’ll beat yer ol’Dad. Hey?”

“Yeah, Dad,” said the Boy, looking even more deflated now.

“Excuse me,” said the stranger sitting opposite, who until then had only observed the scene. He addressed Dad: “May I challenge you to a game?”

“Why not?” said Dad congenially: “Come and sit next to me, son, so the man can sit opposite.”

“I rarely get to play nowadays,” said the stranger. He lifted himself from his seat with effort and crossed the aisle. Dad scanned the room subconsciously. They were in a café on the edge of Holborn. It was half full. Sitting in the booth behind the Old Man, a young woman read a book. Dad kept his eye on her. She received his attentions with mild rebuke.

“Have you played much?” said Dad, as the older man settled into the chair opposite.

“In my younger days,” said the Man: “I played every day. Alas, as one gets on in life, one’s opponents become… rare. They have all gone to the great chess club in the sky.”

“I see,” said Dad: “I’m Mike, by the way, and this is my boy, Andy. My pride and joy, ain’t yer, Andy?” Andy nodded and smiled wanly back. The Old Man looked down at him, his wizened eyes glinting with sympathy, and saw a child of about seven years who understood very little of his father’s world and was falling short of the pride.

“My name’s Todd,” the stranger said to Mike.

“Please to meet you, Todd,” said Mike: “Now watch and learn, son. I bet Todd knows a trick or two, don’t yer, Todd?”

Todd smiled back at Mike whose own grin lingered too long as he cast another glance at the young woman sitting in the next booth. Their eyes met briefly before she hurriedly returned her attention The Great Gatsby. Todd took two Pawns from the board and shuffled them behind his back before holding two fists over the table. Mike tapped the left. A white Pawn emerged from the unfurling fingers.

“You start,” said Todd.

They set their pieces in silence then Mike moved a Pawn from e2 to e4. Todd reciprocated. Mike moved a further Pawn to begin forming a staggered line across the board. As Mike manufactured his Maginot Line, Todd brought some of his main pieces into play. The early moves passed in periods of calm activity and tense quiescence. Both players matched each other’s carefully consideration. Still, after twenty minutes Mike’s position was becoming precarious.

“See this, son,” Mike said at last: “Todd’s pushing me back with some good moves. That’s experience. But the game’s not over yet, not by a long shot.”

“No, it certainly isn’t, Mike,” said Todd: “You strike me as a man who likes a gamble now and then. Am I right?”

“I’ve been known to enjoy the odd flutter now and then,” said Mike.

“Then shall we make this contest a little more interesting?”

Mike sat back in his chair and regarded Todd. There was a gleam in the older man’s eye that gave an impression of a much younger, spry aspect, someone fitter for a battle than his body suggested. Yeah, Mike thought, why not. Yet his boss’s words echoed in his ears agian. “Keep out of trouble, Mike. I’m depending on you. Keep yer nose clean!” He would. Of course he would. Todd was some old guy from God only knew where. What trouble could he cause?

“What do you have in mind?” said Mike:

“A little wager,” said Todd, and he too sat back in his seat: “What shall it be? Ah, yes. The loser has to give up something of value to him.”

“Something of value?” said Mike, his curiosity piqued: “What sort of thing?”

“Well, if I beat you, Mike, you give me… your son.”

Copies available here…


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Deep in the willow wandering wood of bracken

and brackish pools, of cranes and dragonflies,

of sudden movements of mammals and wild fowl,

in the sweet wet water flowing over her white toes

she stood in a crinoline shift lifted high to her thigh

and her mirth rippled over the lapping waves.

The Harlot hem ran dark like blood with the stream

but she didn’t flow away in the green willow solitude.

Her pink flesh rolled like hours over her breast,

her hips, to her soles immersed in diamond water.

Pebbles of green and grey and gold dashed her feet

and the dappled sun caressed her flaming hair.

Pale was her pinkness, crimson was the depth

of her heart beating deep beneath the delicate

orbs of her bosom. And my hands of dry calico

longed for the longitude of her silk, the latitude

of the pert pristine pearl-whiteness of her breasts.

Long had I traversed the land, long had my tongue

carried a thirst for the succour her sweet wet thighs

could slake. So I waited for my moment of sensuous

seduction in the rainbow meadow beyond the brook.

But a snapping twig sundered my dream-like mirage,

the visage of ecstatic beauty, and I roused resting

against the bough of a sweeping, lethargic willow.




Rochester, 2016


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The Tower


I sing to fill spaces between hours of emptiness. I sing to the mirror on the wall and to its schism tearing my image apart. I sing to the company I never keep, to the vacancy in my sleep. Lyrics hang over the armchair that eases my cares. They linger over the sink with its crockery, and loiter by the bookshelf devoid of literature. My voice hurls them at the never-closed window to the empty world beyond. I sing because it’s all I can do.

Once I followed my haunted lyrics to the sill. By the sash I sang verses filled with love never found to the collage of trees and birds and bees. I sang with a heart blackened by pain, dripping with red rain from my solitude. But amid the verses of sorrow was a chorus of desire.

Below me, in the unvisited street, I spied her looking up, captivated by my song, my voice. In her longing she stared straight at me. I felt an invisible belt tighten about my chest. My heart raced as burning air caught in my throat. I fell away into the cold darkness of my cell. With my cheek against cold stone I began to relax.

Then I heard a voice, my voice, singing a sweet sonorous melody.

Outside I heard the rustling of branches being pulled this way and that. I peered out and could just see her fighting against dense, twisted brambles. But years of unkempt growth beat her attempts back. I watched her walk away then returned to the chair that comforts me in my winter. I felt the chasm inside me grow into a deep rift valley carved by ice. Then somewhere in the night sleep stole me from reality.

Next morning I was disturbed by an unfamiliar sound outside. It came in sporadic bursts and, filled with curiosity, I climbed from my armchair and went to the window. I could see her, machete in fists slashing at those stubborn boughs. Sweat wet her brow and clothes, and blood stained her fingers, but she pressed on. My spirits climbed as salvation seemed possible. I sang a joyous song of strength and of endless possibilities.

When at last she broke through, the matted machete slipped from her exhausted hands. Before her, I knew but could not see, stood solid oak door, locked and bolted from within. Rattling echoed up to me, and my words faltered. She retreated down the path she’d carved, back to the street to complete her retreat. I returned to my winter valley watching the warmth of the day climb from my stone cell while the last notes of my song faded on a gentle summer breeze.

As evening drew in I stared at the same page of the only book I possessed until quite suddenly peace was shattered by a vicious rumbling. My book crashed to the floor as I ran to the window. Outside I saw a van and trailer. The latter was a generator with yellow and red and black pipes twisting from it. She walked towards the door wearing goggles, an overall and hardhat, and carrying a pneumatic drill on her shoulder. A harmony of liberation and endeavour sprang from my breast but was instantly drowned under the swell of spitting splitting wood and sundered ironwork. In seconds the barrier that had held me fast for years was breached. Still my singing faltered in the failing light because I knew she would face another impediment: there were no stairs leading up to my chamber from where she stood.

Defeated, once more she retreated.

Forlornly, I conversed with my only friend, solitude.

Next day broke bright and cheerful, but I pulled myself from my armchair with a mournful heart. Sweet air drifted in and I drank deeply on it. Green leaves rippled the morning sun and music stirred within me. I knew the tune would be sad, but filled my lungs anyway and…

Before a note passed my lips I saw her. She strode towards my Tower carrying a ladder. Without willing it a melody of hope burst from me as she passed through the gap she’d made last night.

Beyond my sight, but not my ken, I knew she would climb to the next landing and find the stairs there were also absent. She would bring the ladder over and ascend further. On the second floor, though, she would find a much sterner barrier by far. My singing turned to sonorous succor for her valiant pursuit but this was curtailed when the crisp air was rent by a hideous, fearful scream.

Somewhere below she’d encountered the fearsome ghoulish goliath guarding me. A vile creature it was with green stained skin and grey blood-lust scimitar fangs. Murderous eyes glared from a wart-infested face stuck on top of an elongated body not unlike a warped potato. From its back four serpentine necks reached forward conveying a spade-shaped head with blind sockets and a lipless mouth. With the breath this creature’s five mouths belched came the aroma of stale cigarette ash, stagnant beer and fetid pizza.

From my window I watched her run back to the safety of morning-time reality and I sang another song of lamentable separation.

The afternoon’s heat was on the wane when I spied her again. She came towards my Tower cautiously. Another ladder rested on her shoulder and a canvass bag clenched in a fist. She entered through the door and ascended. Soon I could hear the guttural growl of my sweaty-toothed sentinel. I held my breath and feared the worst for the one dear to me, but beyond any assistance I could offer. I hoped her end would be quick and painless, that my wicked warden would not toy with her but slay her swiftly. But the Tower resounded with the repeated reports of a pump-action shotgun. Dust stirred and floorboards shook with the heavy thud of a collapsing corpse.

I sang of triumph and reverence as her feet hit the only set of stairs left in my Tower. In the growing twilight, she faced her last challenge. A sheer wall stood between her and my chamber. So I sang the sweetest song that ever passed my lips. I sang in the hope at last that she could breach the final impediment. She must have anticipated that final attempt to hinder her. From her bag she produced a mallet and chisel and carved footholds into the brickwork. Dust danced on my bookshelf and the sink’s crockery clattered with each clang and crash. Then she climbed through the rough gap in my floor and lifted herself into my cell.

Never before had anyone set foot there. Even though I’d encouraged her, her presence before me still felt alien. But there she stood, beaming and breathing heavily from physical exertion. I looked at her. My eyes fixed upon the visage of her smiling face, her heaving breast, her hands with blood-red stains. My mind swam with a million thoughts and a billion questions. I thought of what I could say, and how I should say it. My mouth opened. Then closed. But at last I said:

“Wha-What…? Look at the mess you’ve made. Me hedge… Me front door! You’ve knocked holes in me walls and left crap on the floor. Not to mention a thing bleedin’ dead…”

Her smile faded with each syllable I uttered, and silently she turned from me, from my cell, and left me standing in Hell.

She had broken into this Tower of my own creation holding me captive for as long as I could recall. She had torn down the walls of my prison. Liberation was mine to grab if only I possessed the wit to take it. Instead, I sat in the fear-filled comfort of my cosy armchair in my cell reflecting bitterly on my miserable, pitiful existence. My mind raced and cried, and ranted that what I am no-one ever cared or knew, how I was always alone here in my dark cold chamber, in my Tower of Hell.

So I sang. I sang to myself in my fractured mirror. I sang to the company I never keep, to the vacancy in my sleep. I sang to fill spaces between hours of emptiness.



The End


Rochester, 2016

Follow me on Twitter @Malek_Montag15 or



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