Before our births, void of choice, we became part of the story,
During our lives, with a choice, we can't escape the story,
After death, abandoned choice, the story continues to seep.
- Andrew Mansell


photo by Elizabeth Williams

My name is William Burns but most people either call me Will or Burnsy. As part of my so called healing process I have been asked to write about my experience with regards to, one could say, the hidden side effects of cigarette smoking.  Once I have shown sincere remorse, I will be allowed back to school but with the strict conditions that I must donate one day a month of my own time to explain to other teenagers the perils of smoking and help build the new toilet block on Saturday mornings. Apparently the pictures of gangrenous teeth and tar laden lungs have minimal impact on my generation. Something in actual flesh seemed more realistic and I have agreed to exhibit the skin grafted side of my but cheeks. There’s no way I’m going to show my singed pubic hair. I had to draw the line somewhere. Anyway, a month after my so called incident, the skin grafts on my backside have heeled adequately for me to sit down and write without discomfort.


The only thing you can’t get too much of is moderation.

Andrew Mansell, January 2012.

My God

Photo by Sophia

My faith in religion has been ignited
for, I have truly found god.
In his presence I’ve been knighted,
listened to his life’s ballad.
He plays music to me
through vibrating strings
in frequency that is free,
no judgement unto clings.
His stream will never ebb
in the mediums of time
from the World Wide Web
to melodious concert rhyme.
Even when I’m feeling down,
he flattens my sandy dunes,
brainwashes my blue frown
till I hum his soothing tunes.
No bloodshed has he incited,
he fights the war in my soul
till with peace I’m indited,
without him I’m not whole
He transports me on Emperors’ concerto,
seduces me under Moonlight sonata,
his spirit through ages is woven,
his name is Ludwig van Beethoven.

Andrew Mansell, December 2011.

Throughout the history of the human race, countless gods have been
created. Not Beethoven though; he is really here. I’m sure that he has been
declared a god before and will be again.
Perhaps your god is John Lennon, Ella Fitzgerald or Bon Scott. Maybe your
god is Oscar Wilde, John Tolkien or Jane Austin. Then again, your god
might be Groucho Marx, Fred Astaire or Bettie Davis or is your god Juan Fangio, Pele or Don Bradman.
I don’t think it matters. What matters is how your god inspires and uplifts you to a dimension not experienced before.

Bella and Her Red Back

Photo by matildashelia

Unseasonal summer rain had allowed the grass to stay longer and greener than usual. Only a keen eye could spot the orange house brick near the back fence of 4 Safety Court, Mornington – an unimaginable home for most but not for Red Back spiders. Bella and her father could not contemplate living anywhere else, in what appeared on the surface a safe and secure home. Inside though, Bella was lost without a bedtime story. Every night she hoped for her mother to return with the last chapter about the animals who ran their own farm, instead she fell asleep aimlessly, imagining her mother’s voice. Despite several Daddy-long leg eyewitnesses, Bella refused to believe that her mother had been deliberately squashed as she neared the last page of the fantasy story.

One night, awakening after a webless dream, Bella crawled to her father and woke him with a question,

‘Are you sure Mum wasn’t squashed by accident?’

‘Yes, Bella,’ her father said glumly. ‘For thousands of years humans have wanted us extinct. They especially enjoy squashing females and it’s not just squashing – poisons, suffocation in glass jars.’ His jaw drooped. ‘I won’t go on but you must be very careful every time your red back leaves our brick.’

Bella could not accept her mother’s death was in cold blood but didn’t argue with her father. She simply asked, ‘surely nobody could be so cruel?’ She waited for an answer but her father’s weary face bore none and he turned away.

My Conscience

My writing is my conscience,
constantly bombarding me
with judgement and responsibility,
from which I fight to be free.

Andrew Mansell, November 2011.