Friday, 7 December 2018

FROZEN EXPLOSION

Recently we have started to have our milk delivered in milk bottles just like we used to have in the olden days. Last weekend we were away and decided to put the milk bottles into the freezer. This first prose poem explains why you cannot do that.

I did not realise you cannot freeze milk in a bottle because milk is at least 85% water which expands as it freezes cracking the glass and pushing off the foil top in a frozen explosion

It's one of those poems which are inspired by an image but that do not transcend their connection to that image. 
I occasionally will use an image to provoke a poem. It can be an effective workshop prompt. However the words usually need to be supported by the image, as in this case. 

Sheila’s Poem
1.12.18.

as brittle as bone china
ever more fragile
she tells me what she sees
it is not my reality
I welcome her words
attempt to see her reality
I’ve known her half my lifetime
so I can follow the clues
gently we talk
until head bowed seamlessly
she slips into sleep
and the magazine falls from her hand

Since I returned from Barcelona I've been listening to a lot of Leonard Cohen. Here he is singing Famous Blue Raincoat, the picture quality isn't brilliant but the music!

Until next time.

Friday, 30 November 2018

BLINK AND MISS IT

A poem I was moved to write by something I observed at the Sidecar gig. No matter how absorbed in the music I am part of me is still taking in my environment and watching Ryley Walker at Sidecar the other night I was aware of two people arguing to my left. That is the genesis of this post's poem. 


Blink and miss it beauty
the kind that winds you in
falls, lifts, time changes,
a labyrinth in sound.
She moves, eyes closed,
spins on the spot, amazed,
almost synchronised
but here’s the Minotaur,
patience paper thin,
as you can tell by his face.
She flees through the maze of people.

They will stand by a wall
and she will talk and he will listen
as the gig ends without them.
He buys her a tour shirt
some kind of peace offering,
to paper over the cracks only they know.
I am standing behind him
in the merchandising queue thinking
it’s too little, too late.

The photographs are of murals in Vic, Catalunya. 

On Wednesday I went to Bristol, to the Fleece to see Ryley Walker again. If anything he was even better than last time.
Here's some footage of him playing Roundabout, sterling stuff.

Until next time.

Friday, 23 November 2018

OLD TESTAMENT WEATHER

I was in Barcelona last week. I went to visit friends and see Ryley Walker at Sidecar, a little club on Placa Reial. On the Thursday the heavens opened and it poured down.
The first poem was written after it had stopped. 


Barcelona 15.11.18.

it feels as if the sky has broken
as our car surfs through the downpour
raindrops the size of dinner
plates splatter the road

the traffic lights fail
as lightening cracks overhead
Old Testament weather you proclaim
and it is difficult to disagree.


This next one I wrote on the train travelling south down the coast to visit friends for the day.

and there is always some bloke
man spread and bellowing
telling his friends he’s on the train

convinced he’s the Samuel Pepys of the digital age
as he relates in mind numbing detail 
the contents of his sandwich

we slowly progress towards the point when he will say
that he will be with them in a minute 
because he can see the platform

as he departs a strange silence will fall until
another observant male 
informs the carriage that he is on a train

Originally it was a prose poem but when I came to type it up it seemed to sit better on the page as free verse. It may change yet.
I shall leave you with some Ryley Walker. Sadly there is no footage from Sidecar, but here's some from Madrid.
Until next time.

Friday, 16 November 2018

SAVOUR EACH SECOND



A couple of observational poems this post.
The first is of a scene I passed by one morning.

two women smoke
first fags of the day
stand by their car's open doors

near a care home
whose uniforms they wear
it is not yet seven am

they savour each second

The second relate to my first visit to Barcelona many years ago



Barcelona

one cold sleet February
our breath smoke
in chilled rented room

so we stay out as long as we can
haunt shopping malls
free exhibitions
original language cinemas
but end up walking cold streets

each morning finds us entwined
reluctant to leave the warm bed

I leave you with The Decemberists Rox in The Box. They were good last Thursday. I love the way they weave The Princess Royal, a Morris tune into the song.

Until next time.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

A EQUATION WITH ONLY ONE SOLUTION

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 a war ended that had lasted for over four years and caused the death of somewhere between 15 to 18 million humans. I have never been able to comprehend the numbers and it is difficult to grasp the consequences.
It is clear that the mishandling of the situation led to the creation of a set of circumstances that ignited the Second World War and caused even more people to loose their lives. 
We expect superhuman acts by our armed services, but we do not offer them the support they deserve when they return. 
This post's poem arises from conversations I have had with a friend who fought in the Falklands War aged seventeen. 
At the Battle of Goose Green he was an untested told sniper by his sergeant that it was either one of theirs or two of ours. 

For Colin

He is still paying our bill,
you can see it in his eyes,
Goose Green to Belfast
and more places in between
than you could point out on a map.

How does a man who cares
steer his heart through such times?
Focus on the practical,
strip and reassemble what you can
with eyes closed in the dark
and repeat for Queen and country.

Part of him is always there
reflecting on what they told him that cold island,
the stark choice: the target or two of ours.

In the blackness of this sleepless night
he hears those words again:
two of ours or him.

An equation with only one solution.


There is a cost to war that is different for each individual and it has been so since the time of Odysseus. We can never know the consequences of our actions until afterwards. 

One song that has, I feel, honestly attempted to describe the whole experience is I Was Only 19 and I would like to leave you with John Schumann talking about the circumstances that led him to write it.

Here is the song.
Until next time.

Friday, 2 November 2018

THE SEA RUNS COLDER

I wrote this poem rather quickly, but I am not saying it is finished, rather I present it as a work in progress.

The sea runs colder,
longer, deeper,
he dives for a pearl
he does not want but needs.
Spies the enigmatic shell,
wrestles it loose,
then rises too cold for hope.

The point of his father’s knife
releases the secret,
opalescent in sunlight.
A rare beauty he will be cheated out of,
perhaps he will be left just enough.
This sort of thing happens
once in a lifetime,
if you are lucky.
The poem wrote itself, as they occasionally do.
I suppose I was thinking of the parable of the pearl of great value but not on a conscious level.
On Sunday I saw Brain Patten read. As always he was superb. He has a new collection out The Book of Upside Down Thinking, which was inspired by the Sufi tradition of teaching tales. Brian brings his humanity and humour to their retelling. It really is a rich and reflective read.
It is worth checking out Brian's new website, there are some poems from the book for you to read and a host of other excellent work. 
Here's Brain reading.


I can't go though this post without playing Judee Sill's The Pearl.

Until next time.

Friday, 26 October 2018

TO KISS YOUR MEMORY

Another poem about those moments of satori that occur unexpectedly.
That's all I am going to say about it.

That we should decide to cross the border
is hardly surprising,
we live in the debatable lands.

Twelve hour passes are all that’s on offer,
because our lives are lived
inside the movements of our favourite clocks.
Still we hope for something built to last
and tell one another we go for experience.

Days lived like this prompt memories,
because in this place words reveal their power,
conjure simulacrum who people the spaces
between the shafts of light
between the notes from the turntable
between the breaths that form the words.

We were there now we are here.

In the quiet of our return a song plays
that was written after you died,
yet I know you are in the room,
have followed us back across the lines,
wearing a sad smile for what might have been,
gently I move to kiss your memory.

An old song that sort of fits the post.Carl Sagan by Loch Lomond.

Until next time.