Try to remain calm (trigger warning for abduction)

The girl who didn’t come home
Did everything right
Exercised
Worked hard
Graduated
Had friends
Kept to a well-lit path
Talking to loved ones
On her phone
Headphones in
Music off
Covered head to toe
In muted, age-appropriate
Weather-suitable
Clothing
It made no difference
Someone snatched her
Took all her well-made
Choices away
For no good reason
Wiping her light
From the face of the earth
Before returning her
To the soil from whence
We all come.
Now what do we
The troubled audience
Make of this story?
Was the snatcher
An aberration?
Can we find some way
To blame the girl
For transforming
From a positive
To a negative
Statistic?
Her victimhood
Plunging property prices
In the area
Where the monster
Did not live or work
But chose to hunt.
The narrative
Of a week-long-wait
Haunts us.
Forensics teams
Combing through
Ill-kept shrubbery
Blocking the usual
Criminal activities.
A small bonus, perhaps.
We bite our nails
Reading tabloid
Speculation.
Hoping for innocent
Explanation
Car crash?  Coma?
Jane Doe?  Dunno.
Checking phones
And feeds
For well-raked muck
Old and new leads.
Hiding our nerves
Measuring risk
Wondering when the
Anti-climatic
But by now
Anticipated
Charge is to be
Read out by
Cringing colleagues
Whose work lives
Just got more complicated:
Having to justify
How one of their own
A bodyguard
Trusted to bear arms
Pissed in the pool
In spite of safeguards
Psych profiling
Developed vetting
In such a public
Press-lined
Arena.
What do we learn
Boys and girls?
How can we reconcile
The role of protector
With predator?
Are they two sides
Of the same coin?
Symptomatic of
Toxic masculinity
Or some sort of
Mid-life crisis
Prompting a
Psychotic break?
Would we be as shocked
To read the story
Coming from overseas
Wearing foreign faces
Living lives that bore
Less resemblance
To our own?
How can we
Protect ourselves
From further selection
By opportunistic
Solipsistic
Middle-aged parents
Abusing the family car?
Was the position
Of authority
Incidental
Or did it go
To the head
Of the perpetrator
Tipping the scale
From potential aggressor
To active threat?
Can we trust that
This was an
Isolated incident
An anomaly?
Or will there be
Further reckoning
Of countless
Cold cases?
Must we walk home
In packs of ten?
Keys clutched in
Sweaty fists
Ready to go
For the eyes?
Armed to the teeth
With pepper spray?
Trained in martial arts
Aiming roundhouse kicks
At fellow commuters
All jumping at shadows?
Avoid crossing the road
Unless covered by
CCTV from all
Possible angles?
Spurn all contact
With strangers?
Take vitamins?
Go vegan?
Eat, love, pray?
The situation
Remains hopeless.
Life continues.
We work, eat, sleep,
Exercise, dress down,
Carry a personal alarm
(Until it causes us
Too many problems),
Practice defensive
Manoeuvres.
Try to remain calm.
Family and friends
Mourn her passing.
Strangers gawk at
Sensational headlines
Turn the page
Scroll to the next story.
The senseless
Will now be
Minutely analysed
By future victims.
A crime has taken place
We all try to understand
How to ensure
It never happens
To us.

Hiatus

The Ugly Thought Spider
Squats on the ceiling
Above my head
Mocking my efforts
At pest control
Weaving strings of coincidence
Swapping hunger pangs and saliva
For absent-minded insects, the buzz
Of fast food suspended
With sticky strings attached
Out of reach
I cannot swat him
Though the news today was heavy
I endeavour to ignore his whispers
Cleaving to my sanity
As he to lunch

Nature Study

My cat is not a member
Of the RSPB
He sits on the sill
Sunning himself
Watching and waiting
For fledglings to flop
And fall out of their nest.
The robin that visits
My hanging bistro
For a quick and seedy
Beakful of millet
Pales at his shadow
And flutters away
Avoiding the sharp claws
And sadistic purr
Of the resident bouncer.
The bird-like appetites
Of my feathered clientele
Vanish, as tense and flighty
They fall prey to silence
The predator’s presence
Betrayed by the twitch
Of a whisker
The gently flicking tail
Of the sleek, well-groomed
Panther in the window

Les Oiseaux

Les femmes sont comme les oiseaux.
On a certaines grandes specimens –
Celles aux chevelures tres compliquées
Colorées, parfumées, coudues jusqu’aux oreilles
Pour les faire sourire,
Et d’autres qui presque se cachent
Afin de se meler aux murs,
Se protéger dans une forêt
D’humanité grise et passive,
Et ne jamais se faire remarquer
Par celles qui les mangeraient,
Chance donnée.