Friday 24 May 2024

FEEDING THE DEVIL

My Mother told me when I was a child that I should never put bread on the fire as doing so would feed Satan. I was never convinced but I obeyed my Mother's directive. As I got older it just seemed a waste to burn bread. The memory of her injunction prompted this.

 “Never, ever, put bread on the fire.”

My mother was adamant about this

Not even two day old stale crusts

because you’re feeding the Devil.”


In winter she would burn vegetable peelings

they would smoulder on the coals

deprive the room of heat.


I used to wonder about the menu in hell

whether Satan longed for a soft white balm cake

and took his wrath out on the nearest food critic.

I wrote it quickly, the ending about the food critic just appeared. By the way a Balm Cake is a soft white roll from the north-west of England. It's a regional delight. Here's a little poem I've been reflecting on for a while.

early morning empty room


the sound of one door opening

will ripple this silence

appreciate the echo

of each footfall

and the day begins with laughter


 

It began with the title on Monday at work. I arrived in the rehearsal space first and noted the echo. It is a small observation/memory. I think it will go no further than this post.

I'm going through a Murray Head phase again. He's just released a live album and it set me listening to his back catalogue. Here's a live recording.


Here's the original.

Until next time.

Friday 17 May 2024

ALL HE HAD TO DO WAS ACT

This is one of those poems that come from a stray thought, just as you are about to fall asleep, that prompt you to get out of bed and write them down. I played with the phrase for a while and I'm not sure this present lay out does the idea justice but that's for future reflection. 

after he had carefully read the small print, three pages of dense, legalistic type he decided to reorder his life as the experience so far had not been what he had been led to expect no it had been uneventful, dull even, he felt bored surely he had picked out something better when he had perused the brochure back in the pre-existence café something more exciting than this monotonous round of bills and work

the response came quicker than he had expected

an assessor was sent round replete with theodolite and all manner of esoteric equipment and began to measure every aspect of his situation this did not take long

after that nothing happened for quite sometime until a letter arrived informing him that he was actually living the life he had picked out from all those possibilities the letter went on to say very politely, that it was possible for him to change his life any time he wanted to

all he had to do was act

The poem grew from the idea of reordering one's life. A conceit that it is possible to simply send it back if it doesn't fit. Watch this space for another draft.

Mdou Moctar have just released a new album Funeral for Justice. Like all their albums it is essential listening. They just get better and better.

Until next time. 

Friday 10 May 2024

THE HEAT OF OUR PRESSED BODIES

Travelling is always a great writing stimulus. I find myself much more inspired in new surroundings. I suppose its the novelty, the newness of everything. Here's a poem about being on a train.

the torch singer on the train

belts out another power ballad

with the energy of one

who has nothing else to lose

the carriage smells of weed

combined with the heat of our pressed bodies

he aims to hit that final note

but misses by a mile

smiling he passes around the hat

changes trains at the next station

to be replaced by an old man with a guitar

who plays sixty second versions of songs

that have half his audience singing along

and so we continue on to Barcelona

Yes it really did happen like that. Catalan trains tend to have musicians on them. I heard a good sax player on a train on the same trip. I hope I have struck the right note with this poem. I do not want to mock the singer, he was just trying to get by as are we all. 

Here The Growling Tiger from the 1930s with a song about trying to get by. Some things never change.

Until next time.  

Friday 3 May 2024

TOP BLOODY SECRET

 Another poem that was enhanced by the wise comments of the Secret Poets. You can read the earlier version here.

TOP SECRET


a synapse sparks unbidden

sets the memory unrolling

and I am back in the 70s

an apprentice working with a fitter

old enough to be my father

he’s telling me about his national service


I spent two years on an airbase in Yorkshire

guarding Vulcan bombers

and me a time served tradesmen

fully indentured

but the RAF needed security

for the new super weapon

it wasn’t a bad billet


and the sergeant told me that

no one enters that hanger

not even your grey haired old mother God bless her

because it’s top bloody secret that’s why

I’ll have your bloody balls on toast

if you bloody defy me


and it wasn’t a bad billet

save for that time in February

when I should have been at the dance with my girl

pulled the short one that night I can tell you

this one pip rocks up all received pronunciation

straight out of Sandhurst demanded I move aside

that I let him into the hanger and that is an order

looked down his nose at me

his face getting redder and redder


and then it was get out of my way

by God I’ll have you on a charge

so I moved aside and when his back was turned

I hit him with the butt of my revolver

did I mention we were armed

anyway the officer went down like a sack of spuds


and there was hell to pay

I barely escaped a glass house holiday

never knew what became of that officer

never saw a Vulcan either only on the telly

years and years later”


he threw his dog end away

it had stopped raining

so we left the shelter of the pipe bridge

and went back to whatever we were doing before the rain

They did not like the title. Thought it a little abstract. Nor did they like the enjambment. To be honest, reading it aloud in our meeting, neither did I. I think it is a better poem for all that but I am not sure it's completely there yet. It's going into the drawer for a little time. 

I leave you with Natalie Merchant live in 2014.

Until next time.

Friday 26 April 2024

UNTIL HE FELL OFF

Thanks must go again to the Secret Poets for helping with this post's poem. You can read the earlier version here

CHOCOLATE CIGARETTES


We’d buy them at Parrs on the way to the matinee.

One of us would open a packet

and offer them round just like proper ciggies,

pretend to smoke until the end got too soggy

then peel the paper away reveal cylinders

of cheap chocolate pocked with holes.


Camel, Chesterfield, Lucky Strike.


A double whammy indoctrination

the normalisation of a lethal addiction

plus the superiority of American culture.

Well, I mean, that’s Elvis up there on the screen

riding the wall of death until he fell off,

one hot August night in 1977.

As you can see the poem has lost all the first verse [save for one line] and gained a title. There was some discussion as to whether I needed to include candy cigarettes as the focus of the poem was the chocolate variety. I think it is tighter now. Oh the joys of constructive feedback from people you respect. 

Here's Anna Ternheim live. 



Until next time. 

Friday 19 April 2024

IMPOSSIBLE HEELS

 The other week I spent so time in Wales, near Swansea. On the Saturday morning I went for a stroll around the town, where the events in this poem happened, just as it says.

INTERSECTION


the sun is in my eyes

but the rain falls


it’s one of those days

a winter angled sun that blinds


so the wedding party

appear to materialise


out of the glare

in small groups


dressed to the nines

coats held over hairdos


impossible heels that

click click click towards you


I should not be surprised

the bells have made announcements

since I arrived


and here

on the cracked pavement

our lives intersect

and just like that

diverge again

Yes, it was raining when the sun was shining, it's been a rather wet winter. It was not long after the winter solstice and the sun was as low as it ever gets. Four or five groups of smartly dressed people did appear in front of me as I walked down a main street. 

As to the poem. I think it works. This one has been in the drawer for a while and so I think I have managed to fix the flaws. The layout may need revising. Not sure about that yet.

There's an old album by Bronco called Ace of Sunlight. I think it's worth playing a few tunes off that.



Until next time.

Friday 12 April 2024

IT WAS NOT THE 70s

Here is a poem I began to write in a supermarket car park. I'd just parked and the idea was insistent. I hope I have met it's expectations.

I found myself in Lisbon

thinking about the Liverpool Stadium

because sun faded in a small shop window

was a well worn copy of Barclay James Harvest Live

it was not the 70s

I was not wearing flares

my hair was not half way down my back


no


it was grey

it was short

and I was old


reflecting on how such moments

take you to places

you didn’t know you remembered

The Liverpool Stadium was an old boxing arena that was used in the 1970s by rock bands. Barclay James Harvest were a prog rock band who've been mentioned on this blog before. The gig I went to was 31.8.74. I have to say I still have no recollection of Rare Bird the support band. As I remember it was a good concert, although my fondest gig of theirs was Sheffield in 1975 [8th November- the internet is amazing at times].

As to the poem, it is a work in progress. It certainly isn't finished yet. I'll leave you with a live Mockingbird

Until next time.