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. 

Friday 5 April 2024

RIDING THE WALL OF DEATH

I don't know what triggered the memory the other day but chocolate cigarettes popped into my head. You could buy them when I was a child. All American brands. We used to pretend to smoke. It sounds very weird today but at the time it seemed normal. Everyone smoked back then. I sketched this out.

Candy cigarettes never cut the mustard.

Sickly sweet white sticks with glowing scarlet tips.

Suck them until they turned sticky most unsatisfactory.

We favoured chocolate cigarettes

bought from Parrs on the way to the matinee.


One of us would open a packet

and offer them round just like our parents did,

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.

It is far from complete and the end is weak. It really needs more work but I thought I'd show you this work in progress anyway. Watch this space.

Here's an old cover by Iron and Wine.

Until next time.

Friday 29 March 2024

A GLASS HOUSE HOLIDAY

I've been researching slang this week because I realised that the poem in the last post had an incorrect term in it for an officer. The term I used - temporary gentleman referred to soldiers who were promoted to the officer ranks in the First World War. It highlighted their fleeting status and the high attrition rates of that conflict. I looked at a fascinating wiki. I must thank the author[s] for their comprehensive list.

THE CLASS STRUGGLE


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 television

years and years later and


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

I still don't think this poem is quite there yet but it reads better. I am now going to put it away for some time. I appear to have got my mojo back at the moment, for which I'm thankful.

Been listening to Scott Walker this week, going back to the first four LPs.

Until next time.

Friday 22 March 2024

TEMPORARY GENTLEMAN

I've been working on this poem for a while. It is based on a memory that just  popped into my head one morning. I can't remember the circumstances that led to the fitter I was working with as an apprentice, telling me about his National Service but the dilemma he faced that night stayed with me.

THE CLASS STRUGGLE


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 how


I spent it guarding Vulcan bombers in Yorkshire

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

and I’ll have your bloody balls on toast

if you bloody defy me and


it wasn’t a bad billet save

for that one night when a temporary gentlemen

[that’s was how they referred to conscripted officers]

rocked up and demanded to be let into the hanger

looking down his nose at me all received pronunciation

getting redder in the face and


then it was get out of my way

I’ll have you on a charge so I moved

and then I hit him with the butt of my revolver

did I mention we were armed guards

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 temporary gentleman

never saw a Vulcan either only on the television

years and years later and


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

This is a rough draft. The Vulcan bomber was part of the UKs nuclear deterrent. It was a rather elegant shape. I am sure that the poem will change and I think that it is worth persevering with. Watch this space.

Here's Baba Maal.

Until next time.



Friday 15 March 2024

ENERGY TRANSFORMS

This is a revised poem and it owes much to the input of the Secret Poets. Once again thank you chaps. You can read the last version here.

FINALS


with mirrored steps

we walk side by side

turn   in slow motion


this dialogue of movement offers

a split second vision

of all the rehearsals to come


the walls will hold our sound

the floor our footfalls

the air our breath


we will never fade

though all come to stillness

energy transforms


how fragile is the house of now

a time of endings

our finals     farewell

I was not happy with the poem and discussing with the Secrets clarified the structure of the poem and exactly what I wanted to say. Thank you once more. The looking glass steps had to go for clarity, you cannot hold on to those words which obscure.

This second poem has had the lines tightened up and I think works the better for it. You can read the earlier version here.

TAUNTON STATION ONE MIDNIGHT


we three strangers could be the last people on this earth

cold to the bone in the post midnight chill

the silence of the station is as deep as sleep we miss

individual in our anticipation we wait for the last train anticipating the last trainas we wait


then the light

rounds the bend

yawns to a stop


is this the carriage door

the one you will explode out of

telling tales of jostling platform changes

that lead to cheek by jowl overcrowding

no seat until well after Bristol


of course it isn’t

you walk up to me

we hug and walk home

I've been playing the American Dreamer box set a lot. Laura Nyro has been someone who I have listened to since I was a child. Here's some footage of Laura at Monetary I've just come across.

Until next time. 

Friday 8 March 2024

JUST TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE

I was looking at an old poem the other day and thinking I could do better. I'll let you decide. You can read the earlier version here

LET THE TRAIN TAKE THE STRAIN


it is clear the train company worries about me

this is why they advised [twice] me to hold the handrail

at all times when I climb the station stairs 

counselled that I must carry water on my journey

as this weekend’s weather will be unseasonably hot

and suggest should I feel unwell

then I must disembark at the next station

as this will make it easier for them to aid me


obviously they have heard that I forget things these days

and so repeatedly remind me

in these times of heightened tension

not to leave my luggage unattended

because if I do the security service may damage

or blow my case to smithereens just to be on the safe side

it is also pointed out that I should stand behind the yellow line

and let people exit the train before attempting to enter

and to mind the gap at all times


as I am now in the quiet carriage I must not play my music

talk on my phone or annoy the other passengers

it is a shame the railway company

does not practice what it preaches

I remember the circumstances in which I wrote it clearly. I was travelling to Swanage in Dorset one summer's day on the train and was struck by just how many announcements were made. I hope the poem is rather tongue in cheek. What have I done? Well, I think I've clarified the ideas more fully than in the last version. 

I've been listening to Breathe Owl Breathe recently. They've always been a band I've enjoyed and I've found this video you may like.

Until next time.



Friday 1 March 2024

YAWNS TO A STOP

Here's a poem about meeting someone off the train late at night. I attended a workshop about trains last week ran by The Write Box poetry group. Thank you Bob and Sue.

we could be the three last people on this earth

cold as the bone in this post midnight chill

the station is as silent as sleep


then the light

rounds the bend

yawns to a stop


is this the carriage door

the one you will explode out of

telling tales of cheek by jowl overcrowding

no seat until well after Bristol


of course it isn’t


we hug and walk home

The poem is pretty straight forward [aren't they all]. It is based on a real incident of collecting my eldest daughter from the station. She arrived on the last train and the place was deserted. It's not complete yet, needs a rewrite or two. 

Here's Hurray For The Riff Raff. The new album is excellent.

Until next time.  

Friday 23 February 2024

WITH LOOKING GLASS STEPS

A poem about partings. The air feels filled with farewells at the moment. It's dissertation time and final exams loom.  

THE SECOND REHEARSAL OF THE LAST PRODUCTION


we walk side by side

with looking glass steps

turn    in slow motion


this moving dialogue offers

a split second view

of all the rehearsal halls to come


how fragile is the house of now

a time of endings

our finals    farewell


the walls will hold our sound

the floor our footfalls

the air our breath


we will never end

though all come to stillness

energy translates

I was attempting to capture endings and beginnings, that point when something is stopping but other things wait in the wings. This is definitely a work in progress. 

Here's a lovely video of Paul Simon with a beautiful arrangement of one of my favourite songs.

Until next time.

Friday 16 February 2024

SILK FLOWERS IN THE RAIN

This first poem would benefit from a photograph of the scene it describes but I didn't think to take one at the time. So you will have to make do with this word picture.

rows of silk flowers in the rain

outside the bargain centre


they gift larger than life colours to the day

multiplied reflections in the pavement pools


and we who hurry by with heads bowed

break into a smile to see such brightness

It was not until after I had passed the shop that the line silk flowers in the rain do not need water popped into my head. It was such a dismal afternoon I did not think to go back and take a  photograph. This next poem is self explanatory.

faced with writing a eulogy

I paragraph their experience

make sense of their happen chance

chart the voyage of their life

that I watched from the sidelines

a bit player in their grand narrative

my pen describes the new made void in all our lives

It is a work in progress. It isn't complete. Watch this space. It's strange how some poems you want to make work never quite do. Let's hope this one will land safely.

I've been listening to Naissan Jalal's latest cd Rituals and it is quietly beautiful. Well worth looking out.

Until next time. 

Friday 9 February 2024

A FISH YOU COULD NEVER MAKE SWIM

 I watched a French film recently The Green Perfume. It was fun in a Hitchcock-like way. But from the start I had a feeling of Deja Vu, that I had seen the film before, I realised that I had not because it was only released in 2022. Yet each new scene seemed familiar. In the end I gave up worrying and just watched the film. It led to this poem.

just as the lights dimmed

deja vu wandered in

occupied the seat next to his

and from the opening credits

provoked split second echoes from the future

playing his emotional responses like a kipper

[a fish you could never make swim]


how he worried about these instant memories

that he could not place in the fabric of his life

eventually he gave up trying to

and just let the film roll over him

This is one of the poems I've been working on lately and I am not sure it's the definitive version. I'm attempting to get that feeling of rolling with the flow in response to events beyond control. Watch this space.

Just before Christmas I got a couple of cds by Sachal Vasandani and Romain Collin and I can't stop playing them. The interplay between the voice and the piano is exquisite. 

Until next time.

Friday 2 February 2024

THE BUBBLES FLED

Here's a couple of revised poems. You can read the previous version of this first one here. I've changed the ending as I was not happy with the poem, to be honest after the first line I didn't think it flowed. Hopefully this is smoother.

just like that the champagne went flat

we were in the presence of a bigger mystery

one that would carry us to a place of metaphor

and consume a whole twelve hours


we had been there before and would visit again

so I watched as the bubbles fled from the pale liquid

sometimes all you can do is trust

and watch the seconds as they uniquely unravel

I wanted to project tranquillity, that a loss of ego can lead us to something wonderful. That there is no need for fear. This second poem is hopefully more show than tell. 

the anchoress dreams

sap green spring leaf

her time again would be

to sail as a dandelion seed

over all man made enclosures


but the bell’s toll wakes her

in the half light same four walls

as it has been these past ten years

the sun takes its time

to rise above the barred window


and where she wonders

is God in all of this?

I think the last version was an information dump. What I have tried to do is lead the reader to the same conclusion, but I am not sure that the final two lines are needed? At the moment I am working on a number of poems that are slowly coming together, they will appear in due time.

Hurray For The Riff Raff has a new album out, you can order it here. I leave you with a track.

Until next time.