Friday, 11 October 2019

NOT GETTING WET


 I think I must be going through a little boom at the moment the Muse is being very generous.
This first poem happened as it says. I did wake up trying to remember the poem I'd written just in a dream.

I dreamt you last night
placed us both in fragments
from meetings and songs
and woke in the darkness
attempting to recall
the poem I had written
sat on that hillside
in the rain
not getting wet


Here's one that arrived in a rush and still needs revision. 

I know that eventually
time will catch up with me
pin me to the bloody floor
in some way I will not like
let alone have foreseen
pay me back in kind
for each night
I crept in with the milk

leave me marooned on a chair
my tongue stuck on repeat


Again it is what it is. There are no hidden layers of meaning.
Sometimes that's ok. 
Oh, creeping in with the milk is something my father used to say when I came home in the small hours. You need to be old enough to remember when milk men delivered milk in bottles very early in the morning. 


Here's me being very vain. Kathryn Williams was amazing. She's on tour at the moment and if you get the chance go and see her. Last Friday was so good. I'm off to see her again on Sunday in Exeter


Until next time.

Friday, 4 October 2019

AN INFINITY OF DIFFERENT VERSIONS


I am going to see Kathryn Williams this evening in Bristol and frankly I can't wait. Given the state of the country at the moment any respite from the posturing of the privileged Jackanapes masquerading as the crime minister is welcome. Whatever happened to honourable politicians?
Two poems this post with a religious slant. The first is a true story. I was walking to Stanza Extravaganza at the Artisan Gallery here in Torquay the other evening when I was stopped by two missionaries. I suspect they were new to the game as it was raining heavily at the time and there was little chance people would wish to discuss theology in such conditions. 

When the rain arrived in heavy soaking curtains
he was stopped by a pair of bright young faces
who burned with the missionary's certainty.
Solemnly they enquired if he believed in God,
if he had received the grace of religion.

He thanked them and said he had.
As a pantheist he could see God’s beauty everywhere
even in the raindrops funnelling around them in the night.
Then they asked about Jesus Christ
and were told he needed no middleman.



This second poem has no clear cause and effect.

all that cynicism slowly chipped away
and him older scarred and weary

the infinity of different versions
meant that one would be a good fit

it was inevitable his disbelief
would transmute into faith

but behind his back
they smiled as he surrendered


The poem arrived pretty much as it is. All I had to do was swap some of the stanzas about and clean up the lines.


I have Rob Chapman to thank for this week's music. His excellent account of psychedelic music Psychedelia and Other Colours introduced me to the Geranium Pond. Only in the 60s!

Until next time.

Friday, 27 September 2019

ON THE NIGHT OF THE FIRE

The shameless crime minister after being told his proroguing of Parliament was unlawful now claims that he is with the people against the elite. I have to question exactly what he means by "the people." Would these be the people who went to Eton? Or those lucky enough to study at Oxford? I am incredulous that the product of such privilege can have the audacity to claim he is not of the elite. If he had any honour he would resign. That is the real will of the people.
Like our present political difficulties here is a poem with no ending. I have been working on this for some time. I like the idea of a dream within a dream and have tried to incorporate it into this poem.


On the night of the fire
he had dreamed himself in France,
the endless beach plucked
from some forgotten summer holiday,
his dream child self stood in disbelief
saying: I do not want to grow into you.
It’s too late, he replied, you already have.
Smoke began to smear the cloudless sky,
as the alarm jostled him back into their bed
then out of it again.

Holding his wife’s hand they ran downstairs
and out of the front door.
Flames rose in the darkness,
they would lose all they had worked for.

Later stood by the fire tender,
clutching a red blanket about her,
his wife took on his teenage face
and looked at him with disgust.

He was thankful the fire alarm
jerked him back to the hotel
into the disgruntled shuffle of guests,
across the wet car park to assembly point B
as the board was reset, apologies and thanks given.
He shrugged it all off.



I have been toying with the idea that the protagonist is a morally bankrupt politician but I cannot quite get the ending. I suspect this is because I want to tell rather than show.



In direct contrast to the self serving, venal political elite determined to profit from the nation's distress here is Ryley Walker. Stunning.


Until Next time.

Friday, 20 September 2019

BETWEEN THUNDER AND THE ECHO

I have just discovered this is my 500th post.  I don't normally take note of such numbers but 500 seems like an achievement. I looked to get an estimate of how many poems there are on this blog. Given that there are a number of revised poems, reviews and interviews I would suspect there are at least over three hundred poems.
That really is amazing. I'll leave it up to you to decide if any of them are any good.
Here's to the next 500!
Now  the poem that gives the post its title.


in this still air not a tree shivers
we walk empty streets of paused lighten
and when the rain does come
we are caught in the open
between the thunder and the echo
our clothes far too thin for the wind
which saws through the skin
to pare each bone



This is not a finished poem. I feel it needs to go somewhere but at the moment I am not sure exactly where. It has description but I am not sure it has a tongue to tell its truth. 
Watch this space.
Now a second poem I wrote a couple of weeks ago in Teignmouth.


Teignmouth Poem Number 1

when glimpsed through these trees
the pier could be a bridge
connecting the drab and the mundane with
anywhere you care to dream of

some place of lives lived by other rules
where people tell their truths
and do not meet just to say goodbye



Again I feel this poem needs time to breathe. Sometimes the poem arrives whole and other times, like now, I have to leave them to acclimatise. 
Here's a track from Kathryn Williams' Anthology. It is proving a balm given the political turmoil our crime minister and his jolly gaggle of privileged poltroons are causing. 
Kathryn is touring the UK at the moment. If you get the chance go and see her, she's wonderful live.
Until next time.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

SOMETHING TO DREAM ON


I'm just back from a couple of days in Barcelona. Nothing has changed here. The crime minister still plays the scoundrel's populist card. Words fail me.
Here are a couple of small poems I wrote while I was away.
I simply wrote what I saw.

Barcelona

morning

four sharp taps on the pressure vessel
his second or third percussive announcement
pulls me from my sleep
no need to ask if it’s the gasman
plying for trade in the street below

afternoon

this square is built over a car park
which precisely occupies half the area
people huddle in the remainder
to talk eat drink love
by a water fountain
tainted by petrochemical fumes



And here is a small poem I wrote the other week when in Teignmouth.

teignmouth poem number two

he enters with bubble wrap
a poster framed
for the fireplace alcove
something to dream on
when he is back in the real world


Again I saw a man with a bubble wrapped painting walk past me into a cafe, I was sat at a table outside. The poems are there but we have to look.
Here's a collaboration between Johnossi and Anna Ternheim.

Until next time.

Friday, 6 September 2019

BUT FOR THE WAY THE LIGHT FALLS

copyright David Hockney

The country continues to be torn apart by a gang of public school educated elitists, who are hell bent on riding rough shod over all democratic process in the name of the people's will. We all know how these things usually play out...
I am not sure where it sprang from but the other day I suddenly had an image of David Hockney's Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy. A superb painting and one of my all time favourites. 
I could see the painting in my mind's eye and had the sudden rush of awareness that this is what Ossie Clark will be best remembered for. I wrote this over several drafts.

Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy

this is how you will be best remembered
not for all those dresses you designed
[already hoarded by the few]
not for your sad, slow decline
or the wife who left you
but for the way the light falls onto your face


I had a couple of opening lines:

if we can stagger through this
survive the great extinction
and that is far from certain

I like them as an opening but think they probably belong on another poem. One about how our politicians are incapable of responding to the Climate Crisis.
One of the skills every poet needs to develop is having the confidence to pare the poem down to its bare essentials.



Here's a very different poem that I've been working on this week.

A 10% Chance of Rain

one in ten
good odds I think
so walk out
coatless
hatless
with an umbrella
and at the furthest point from home

precipitation

there is worse to come as I remember

the washing is on the line...

This photograph is from a bar in Oregon I visited the other year. The decor drew on 1984.  Rather fitting for this week as reality is coming to resemble " a boot stamping on a human face-forever."
On a lighter note Anna Terheim has a new song out. 

There are still tickets for her London show in November.
Until next time.

Friday, 30 August 2019

THE SILENCE OF THE GREAT EXTINCTION


I woke up on Thursday morning feeling that I was living in the final chapter of Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye To Berlin
The bad people have won. The callous, mean spirited, utterly ruthless, neoliberal, careerist politicians have acted with characteristic disregard for democracy. Words fail me.
I can only see the situation becoming ever worse. We can prepare to wave goodbye to the National Health Service, the few remaining employment rights we have and get ready for the end.
None of these politicians have the gravitas [or the intelligence] to save humanity from catastrophe. Be that from the environmental breakdown, species extinction or the ever increasing greed of the few.
Here is a revised poem.

the silence of the great extinction
settled on the shoulders of the survivors
as if for the first time
they could see all that had been lost

and so set to refashion their world
shipping in from beyond the stars
mechanical birds to jewel their skies

and fill a space long vacated
by sinew and bone
feather and wing

having captured the thermal
see how their propellers idle
as they spiral ever higher
to spectrograph heaven with their metal tongues 

You can read the original here.
I have altered the layout [thanks to the Secret Poets for their input] and tried to make the final stanza flow more smoothly.
At this moment, if I am honest, I don't see our species surviving. We seem hell bent on making the situation ever worse. Hope packed its bags and left some time ago.
I leave you with John Coltrane.