17/04/2014

Snap

At the weekend I went to Bradford.

Leaving the station I was surprised to hear the cathedral bells ringing. 'I wonder what can be the cause,' I thought. And then I noticed the reason for the pealing bells.... work had finally begun to put a roof on the world's largest swimming pool.

My reason for going to Bradford was to take the kids to the Media Museum. As a museum it has serious limitations, not least because the exhibits hardly ever change, but the kids enjoy it - and the Darlek - and I have always rather enjoyed the photography exhibitions... which do occasionally change.

The current exhibition is called Only in England, and features the work of Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr.

I enjoyed the pictures, Martin Parr rather more than Tony Ray Jones - who for me was rather more interested in finding and recording the grotesque. And though Ray Jones had probably twice as many pictures as Parr, there were only maybe two or three that provoked more than a second look. The stand out piece being the picture of the mod girl on Brighton beach, with a portable turntable.

Whereas I found Parr's pictures far more interesting.

I was particularly struck by the a set of trestles laid out for a street party for the Queen's jubilee and in the background are puddles of sheeting rain.

But there were others that are worthy of merit - the three ladies going to church with the cow, the people at the buffet table for the inauguration of mayor of Todmorden (particularly the way in captures each individuals attitude to food, the woman eyeing the pork pie was very good) and the entrants at the best mouse content.

When I had finished being a grumpy parent - quite why children of 6 and 3 should be interested in images of a by-gone world that are displayed two feet above their heads, I'm not sure... not that it stopped me going into slightly insane parent mode - I got to thinking about the differences between visual and written arts.

Although people often talk about layers, and such, in poetry the reality is that the perspective of the point of view very rarely leads to much beyond the surface.

For instance the street party picture.

One might describe the sodden tables, the spoiled food, the flapping table clothes, and then lead the reader into the puddles in the mid-ground, but it is very rare to carry on to the waste ground beyond and the sky. And if an attempt is made, it all too often becomes laden with fake political statements. Because Parr is making a statement about poverty, one only needs to look the houses, the food, cinder tracks, the dark rough grass. And, given that this occurs in the 1970's there are all kinds of memes and tropes that could be be woven into this scene - very few of which would have much relevance in what is essentially a representation of community spirit.

And obviously a poem, or a piece of prose, would not have the instant impact, and the accidental touches, that make a photograph so interesting.

The exhibition is well worth a visit if you are in the Bradford area.

My only regret is that I didn't get my dates sorted out in advance because they were having a widescreen film festival and I really want to see This is Cinerama - though clearly not badly enough to make the simplest of arrangements.


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08/04/2014

Novel

I went to the Beehive last night.

It was a decent session.

The new guy, who I think is called Kev, was apparently talking about my stillbirth poem all of last week to anyone who would listen... which was nice. I read Dusk, which seemed to go down well.

I scribbled a few bits and pieces on the train...

behind the square lit windows
the evening settles in
kids in bed telle on
cups of tea lemonade and gin

and

how melancholy sit the leafless trees
as grey ducky sky descends

and

in the half dark ventian blinded light
she sits down at the computer to write
an email to explain put right last night

and

spartan sky lingers on the moor

Though in truth the sketching I did on the train was more on the Nazi police thing.

It's somewhat of an oddity of the internet that although it offers a world of knowledge - in theory - in practice unless you are hyper careful in your search terms, it gives you the sort of information that can be gleaned in your average pub.

For instance I wanted to find out about the structure of the German legal system. I got some information and ideas from watching a film about the trial of Adolf Hitler. The actual information required was titles, offices, and responsibilities - i.e facts.

Instead I got pages of search results offering useless information telling me the Nazis were unpleasant types, endless stuff about the racial laws, Jews and Crytsal Nacht, bits and pieces on that ranting judge, and not much that was of any use to anyone not looking to cut and paste stuff into a GCSE essay. Not that I am dismissing any of this. But it is rather like asking what the weather is like in Nebraska and being told about the massacre of the Indians, the US prison population and how unpleasant US foreign policy is. It's lacks relevance.

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07/04/2014

Nazi

I went to the first meeting of the #Ilkley Writers group a couple of weeks ago.

The 'homework' for the next meeting was to write a piece about finding something in a person's pocket.

No sniggering at the back.

I've been mulling over what I should write since. The obvious thing would be to write a poem. But, I have been working on various prose pieces, and thought it might be a useful incentive to write a fiction piece.

Like many creative things the story came about by a circuitous route. Regular readers will know I am currently reading Hitler's Children: The Story of the Baader-Meinhof Terrorist Gang by Jillian Becker. In fact I have been reading a number of things about Germany in WWII. And, I find my preconceptions being rather challenged. For instance, one of the books I have been reading was about the Hitlerjugend in Normandy. All, or most, of whom were in the Hitler Youth, which conjures up images of swinging Indian Clubs and marching about. However according to this first hand account, far from the Hitler Youth being like the Scouts, it was more akin tot he Woodland Folk. And indeed Becker makes the same comparison.

Here is the poem that came out of my reflections on this....

Sabina finds me reading Rilke,
in the lower meadow by the stream.
Again and again I have come here
to paint the little Luthern chapel
but I cannot catch the light.

She brings her mother's regards
and a small cake, which she cuts
with my pocket knife. Stabbing
the crumbs with our finger tips
we read Autumn Day, on the rug,

our bodies almost touching.
The paper curls in the breeze
pinned by the smudged and bloodied
watercolours, in their wooden box.
The water jar sits safe in my shoe.

Angels in the churchyard
turn their backs, as naked
we splash and prance in the stream.
The sunlight runs like spring rain
upon our bodies. But we are not children.

No one is young. For high above,
silver geese fly in formation,
heading south; their reflection
obscured by the brilliance
of our glistening laughter.

So anyway, here is the 300 word story...
 

“Ah the poet,” exclaimed Inspector Meyer, “we meet again and again.”
“And again and again you make the same joke,” replied Vesper dryly. He checked the oak lined corridor before closing the door. “It’s about the Schaub case. There’s something you need to know.”
Meyer pushed the rape file, he was working on, to one side. He indicated Vesper to sit. The young sergeant did so, peering at his superior through the thick lenses of his glasses. “Schaub?” began Meyer, recapping the case from memory,  “Schaub, male, 42, found floating the river last week. The doctor says he was in the water for approximately ten days. The neighbours report he had been drinking heavily following the death of his son at… uh?... did we ever establish were the son was killed?”
“No sir.”
“The wife and daughter killed by a stray bomb. He was heard expressing defeatist opinions on the night he died. A witness reports that he may have been  fighting with two men on the Fliesch bridge. The case remains open, but we are not actively investigating. Have I missed anything?”
“This,” said Vesper, pushing a crumpled identity card across the desk.
Meyer took it, opened it, and pouted at the insignificance. “It’s Herr Schaub’s identity card, what of it?”
“It’s the stamp sir.” Meyer looked more closely. “The stamp was only issued two days ago, which makes me wonder how it could be found in Herr Schaub’s jacket pocket.”
Meyer laid the identity card on the desk before him, gently running his figures across the smudged and blistered cardboard. “Herr Schaub was a farmer? Was he not? And a farmer must be able to predict the weather if he is to make money.”
“I don’t think it was suicide sir. In fact I know it wasn’t. There’s something else.”

Which has got me thinking of ways in which this might be expanded.


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01/04/2014

Train

Last night was an evening of #poetry with the Beehive Poets.

Well it was half an evening of poetry, and half annual general meeting. The details of the meeting don't need to be gone into. The read around was rather interesting because it was a kind of speed reading event, with everyone reading their poem without discussion. It's perhaps not something I'd like to do every week but it did mean that we got through a lot of material, and perhaps heard work that we might not otherwise have.

Christine read a very interesting poem about Goebbels children. Not a subject that gets discussed often, and certainly not one that is given the humane treatment that she gave it. There was a new bloke there who did a most curious piece of performance art. His poem was about how only women and poofters dance - or so his father told him. As a poem it was ok. The curious aspect was that it was written across numerous bits of paper, that appeared to be unconnected with each other - bits of one stanza were on the same piece of paper of bits of another stanza, without seeming rhyme nor reason, Which had me wondering about the process. But regardless, his delivery was strong, and there was entertainment value in watching the poem literally unfold. Steve read a rather good poem about horses and colours and a city - that in terms of sense may have benefited from discussion, but was an aural treat, and rather sensuous. Kevin did a couple of his atonal spikey pieces which is always a treat. John gave a couple of nicely observed vignettes. Frank gave us a lyrical piece that had apparently once made John Hegley cheer.

I had rather too much Mordue Workie Ticket, and offered Remembrance and the Tryptich. In truth I was rather pleased to read both of these without discussion. And it took my best cynical Mockney persona to get through Remembrance without blubbing.

Instead of writing nonsense, I decided to flex my mental muscles by writing sketches of what I saw n the train journey journey....

and again the square windows, lit for tea
slip past with brakes release, into the country
of back yards, bicycles, bar-b-ques, love seats
which in summer soak all work's stress.

---------------------------------

swaying in our seats the familiar
anouncement

-----------------------------------

the familiar robotic intones
plays out, then pips and beeps, doors close.

---------------------------

the cows like cricketers
stand ready

heads down
waiting for the bowlers arm

---------------------------

under the steady gaze of the church clock
cows stand ready, heads down
for the bowlers arm to turn once more.

----------------------

tunnel embankment, embankment tunnel

------------------

black mud road
through the green wall

---------------------------

a thwack, follow through
stand and walk on
trolley behind
still a fair way from the green

--------------------------

last years sycamore pods
hang like foreskins

---------------------

a dead swan
waits on the canal

for sale signs litter
the new built flats

-----------------

Guisley enters in grey slippers
from the cow pastures

---------------------

It remains to be seen if these lead to anything.

I did see a deer, which poetically speaking should be inspiring, at the time I was thinking about the disorderly order of the the countryside between Ilkley and Burley - stands of ungrown trees in plastic rabbit proof sleeves, the sloping land bisected by triangles of bushes, field boundaries, paths, etc. Oh and there was a hovering bird of prey, and six crows flying in antagonistic formation in the grey and misty sky.


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31/03/2014

Syria

I am tempted to go back to nonsense #poetry to clear my mind of various political poems that gnaw at me when I sit down to down.

The impetus behind these poems is fed by the comments I have been reading around the internet about the situation in Ukraine. It is not a debate. Putin is the bad guy. Godwin's law is thrown out of the window. And without the slightest irony 1914 invoked. For some reason no one mentions the oil and gas bonanza in the US.

The farmer poem did touch on these issues, but in an oblique way,

The problem is that the scribbling comes out half formed, too strong in tone, lacking sophistication.

the television carries what passes for news
through the french windows the carcoal glows white,
the birds tweet as they nest

a rather pleasant red slips down

and....

 its common sense
Putin is a gangster, he hates gays
a red tzar, who shoots dogs

and...

 so in return for America selling Europe gas
Ukraine agrees to kick out the Chinas
pay full price take on loans from us

At which point I found myself thinking about  Omar Bakri Muhammed. Who you will recall was Muslim preacher linked to the 7/7 bombings, and became rather a cause-celebre due to efforts to have him extradited. As a person he is rather dull, and follows the same pattern as any fascist leader - placing undue importance on the in-group, and explaining the failings and set backs of the in-group on the activities of external actors.

What interests me is what his story says about relations with Syria.

Depending on which version of the narrative you believe, he was either involved or not in the Hama Revolt of 1982. During which between 10,000 and 40,000 people were killed by the Syrian army. Not much was said about it at the time, Britain was about to be at war with the Argentina over the Falkands, Israel (the perennial bad guys of the politically active) was soon to invade Lebanon. It hardly seemed to matter that Syria was stamping down on the Muslim brotherhood.

It's an interesting country Syria. When the Caliphate was thriving, or not if you were the Caliph, in Baghdad, the mainly Christian population of Syria provided the bulk of the armies. Fast forward a few hundred years, and the country because one of the principle bases for the American missionary movement (the NGO's of their day) they build universities and churches, and following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War, provide useful leverage in Allied - British, French, and US - efforts to stabilize the region. Syria comes under French control, and in 1941 became a battlefield between Vichy French and British Imperial forces - with Czechs and Free French - in what was a series of small wars to neutralize Germany's French allies. The war ends, the cold war begins, and perhaps because of Ba'arthisms similarities to Soviet Socialism, Syria becomes a allied/client state of the eastern bloc - while retaining strong diplomatic ties with France, and to some extent Britain, as evidenced by the current Syrian president having studied at a British university,

The point being that I was thinking about these things, particularly in relation to the changing diplomacy surrounding the Muhammed incident.

And came up with this....

I'm sitting in the garden
the birds are siting
the red wine slips down nicely
and for no reason
the name
Omar Bakri Muhammed
comes to mind

It might be the radio
droning in the background
or
the announcement
that the US is about to ship
the gas it is currently
flaring
to Europe

but my mind wanders
back to 1982
when the poor little rich kid
got caught up in the nastiness
and found his faith wanting

personally
I couldn't give a monkies
if oil is sold in dollars or yuan
but
there are people who do
and they have reasons
just as I have red wine

so poor old Bakri
runs for his life
and finds
sanctuary of sorts
among the non drinkers
the political
the vegetarians
and the well fed

It is truncated, and it is a sketch, and perhaps it will get more flesh on the bones if my efforts to free my sub-conscience fails to produce something more poetic.


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30/03/2014

#poem #poetry #writer #climatechange #globalwarming #coral #barrierreef #juliagilard #carbontax

Hit
I got an email today from a coral
wanting to know why I don't have a car
I replied it is none of your business
blooming nosy crustacean

but corals aren't the type to let things lie
three phone calls, two texts
and registered delivered letter
later
I received a cheque from his mates
on the barrier reef
so I can buy an SUV

but I'm not that sort of bloke
I sponsored a rhino instead
and spent the rest on wine and cigars
and lego for the kids

now the coral have hired a dolphin
to do me in
when it has fulfilled the contract
the coral took out
on Julia Gilard


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Politics

One of the more rolly eyes moments at the Open Mic event yesterday was when this woman started making 'political statements' about Michael Gove.

And of course the sheep in the room clapped like seals, at this bit of dog whistling..

I have no particular feeling toward Michael Gove, he is doing a reasonable job in a department that has long since lost itself with regard consistent policy. However, I do find it ironic that so many leftists choose to target Gove, given his background.

But then one of the acts yesterday stood up and stated that Jesus was a gnostic atheist and then went into this schtick about... well not very much really. As a piece of Medieval Anabaptism it was fine, and no doubt if you were trapped Mainz and allowing your daughters to be semi-raped in the free love mania it would have gone rather well.

And then there was this woman who stood and asked to imagine that we a teenage black girl, in Little Rock in 1964... I believe she said 1964.... or perhaps she was referencing to something other than than the segregation episode in 1957. Anyway, there she was getting shriller and shriller as the fire of her political being grew indignant, at the injustice.

But hang on, why does black girl not have a name?

Why can't we imagine that we are Carlotta Walls LaNier, or Minnijean Brown-Trickey. or Gloria Ray Kalmark, or Thelma Mothershed-Wair, or Melba Pattillo Beals, or Elizabeth Eckford, - or indeed Ernest Green or Jefferson Thomas but we asked image being a black girl, so they don't count. Particularly Eckford, as it arguably the picture of he being harangued by 'a piece of white trash' - yes she did that phrase in her poem (perhaps I should complaint to the police about racist behaviour at a council funded event) - that gave the incident its notoriety around the word.

At which point, up steps another earnest female soul who is going to give her poetic tribute to Nelson Mandela.

There was something about Thatcher, those people who called Mandela a terrorist, and.... hang on a minute... he was a terrorist. What you on about woman..... no she's moved on now.... the hagiography in preparation for beautification, and no doubt inquisition for those who disagree, is in full flow - stuff about what his life teaches us about something-or-another, and this and that.

To not accept that terrorism is the central tenet of Mandela's life is rather miss the point. It is as vital to understand, as his later rejection of violence - well partial rejection - given the nature of his Pan African politics.

I suppose all of this was agit-prop stuff was in my head as a scribbled a few lines of free verse last night....

 they're the anti-political
political fringe
of the anti-political front
they're the anti-critical
critical falange
of the anti-critical....

and...

yeah but carbon dioxide has increased
nine per cent
and the temperature has remained stable

the kafiyah gasps
the nuclear power nej tak medals
rattle like dying polar bears
the free trade unbleached sugar pours into
the free trade grown by women coffee
with free trade trampled by autistic kids soya milk

I sip my bog standard red label

we take a detour
around syria palestine banking
the exploitation of women
none of which makes much sense
but then I'm not political

and neither is she really

and....

 I got an email today from a coral
wanting to know why I don't have a car
I replied it is none of your business
blooming nosy crustacean

but corals aren't the type to let things lie
three phone calls, two texts
and registered delivered letter
later
I received a cheque from his mates
on the barrier reef
so I can buy an SUV

but I'm not that sort of bloke
I sponsored a rhino instead
and spent the rest on wine and cigars
and lego for the kids

now the coral have hired a dolphin
to do me in
when it has fulfilled the contract
the coral took out
on Julia Gilard


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29/03/2014

Non Event

I have been to the Open Mic event at the Otley Word Feast.

It was a nice afternoon, the Black Sheep slipped down nicely - even is it is a pint that lacks body and sophistication.

The judge was a lesbian, and as per usual for these events the standard of their work was poor, Char March was her name.... no, I've never heard of her either.... and having suffering through her set before hand I wasn't expecting much discernment in her judging.  And she duly delivered, giving the first prize to a stand up comedy routine that included the word 'fuck'. had nothing to say of any worth or interest, was a semi-rap and rhymed every other word in annoying runs. Oh and she was a a woman of a certain type that appeals to the inhabits of Lesbos.

Meh....

Sour grapes?

Not at all.

I rather enjoyed myself. I got to catch up with people I haven't seen in years, Brendan Partlin was his usual  quirky self, and played the host admirably - it's a shame that Wicked Words has gone the way of all flesh. I got to hear the wonderful dialect of wot-his-name, I'd like to tell you his name, as he is poet I greatly admire for the way his uses his Lancashire burr to crunch the art of the ordinary, but unfortunately I can't. For despite having the most interesting conversations with him smoking outside, for some reason we never remember each other's name.... probably because we are too busy talking to actually exchange monikers....

Kevin Byrne was on good form, and his friend Dave gave the best poem of the day with his piece about Muriel, the love of his life. Other notables were the bloke who gave the subtle villanelle about not being able to write a villanelle, and a woman, who I think was called Ros, with two short and very intelligently constructed poems.

I also rather liked the chap who performed ancient Greek poetry with an umbrella to beat out the rhythm and a tuneless harp for the second piece. Obviously he is not going to win - because he had something interesting to say about the nature of these events but fair play to him to have the balls to actually stand up and say it.

I did find myself sniggering at the end when the winner was described as someone we would be hearing more of in the future.... yeah right....


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28/03/2014

#poem #poetry #writer #stillbirth

 Remembrance
the doctor says, 'your baby is not alive'
yeah I know
but it's the missus I'm worried about now

the Simpsons play on the TV in the side room
but you don't laugh
instead the missus lets out a wail
that no actress can reproduce
no cliche ridden bullshit will let you hear
no poetic crap about darkness
or pretendy metaphor nonsense

the fact is
that it's not what you think
losing a child

yeah you hang onto each other
and
yeah there's anger
but there's more fear

fear that 
not being kicked by that ball of hope
when you spoon in bed
will cut the thread
the umbilical of kindness
that makes cups tea
shares jokes
holds hands in the street

And no
you are not the same
when later you lay in bed
hand on her belly
wishing that fart
was a moving finger
a flickering eye
a thought

and you do despise the sympathy
the well meaning advice
the imposition of grief
the morons who say 'oh how dreadful'
'I can't imagine'
'you have to keep talking'

fuck off

and then there's the coffin
in the chapel of rest
and the instruction not to open it
because the veins are too small
for the formaldehyde
and you won't like to remember
what you see

which will not be that child
who was born dead
and lay in perfect stillness
on the blanket your missus crocheted
with the rattle you bought
in an idle moment of expectation

it will not be the child
with pink fingers
the scratch mark under the eye
that you imagine was done
when waking from sleep in the womb
and not when dying
those bowed rose lips
thinning and darkening
from which no sound ever came
in the few hours you spend together

that child who you dressed
in a white Sunday dress
with white tights
and white shoes
and tended
with all respect
and all duty
in death
because you couldn't in life

so you do what you are told
the coffin stays shut
and you kiss it
and embrace the sharp edges

and then a day or so later
tears rolling down your face
you lift it from
the hearse
it don't even cover the spare wheel
and carry it into the chapel
in front of your family and friends
and cry
and cry
and hold onto each other

and then the little white box
slides through the curtain
and you get ashes in a plastic pot


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#ilkley Nights

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Seconds out...

Last night was the first meeting of the #Ilkley writers group - website appearing shortly - at the Out of the Box cafe. 18 writers were in attendance. It was a very pleasant evening. We introduced ourselves, discussed what we wanted from the group, and had a bit of read round.

It was a very nice mix of people and everyone was friend;y.

I read Mary Berry (not the cook).

On the work front, the day was rather light with a few sketches of things...

poetry
It's a filthy habit,
you can smell it their clothes.

You have to open the window
when they leave, the curtains stink.

Their breath reaks
of similes of adverbs

I keep my children away
I don't want them exposed to it.

and....

 In the four seconds it takes for the tea
to ascend the white walled cup, her smile
departs like a yacht. The mist falls again,
and again we are strangers at a table,
framed by the window of a cafe, on show.

She asks, half asks; doesn't ask: clearly sees
perceptions as truths on which to rely.
If only the joke refused to remain,
but it sits there...

and...

 Ascending star of evening light
above the moor so dark and true
guides drunken feet towards a fight
leads drunken feet to you

and....

Reading Marx
by the bandstand

the amateur jazz quintet
gave a capital performance

and...

 reading Marx
by the bandstand
my foot taps

birds syncopate
passing clouds

the amateur jazz quintet
gives a capital performance

which I know is the same poem but what can you do?

Oh and someone left a comment on the blog - it is allowed you know - rather surprisingly about the After Satie piece. Not that there isn't any reason why they shouldn't like it, indeed clearly the person has enormous taste.

Let's just say I have been wondering over the past few days on the question of why so much poetry that is admired is soulless, bland, and doesn't say anything - but stays within the rules.

Speaking of rules... no actually I can't be bothered.....

Instead I shall pick up on something that came up at the group last evening;

to scribble or to tippy tappy type
that is question
whether tis nobler to splurge it down
and then realise you can't read your own writing
or the suffer the slings and arrows
of wriggly red and green lines
and American spelling

Oh I know it's dull, writers writing about themselves. But it's useful to consider the process. And, the choice of paper or screen is very much a part of, and influences, what happens both within the process, and what comes out.

Many years ago, I wrote a novel... well that's not strictly true, I wrote three quarters of a novel, bunged an ending on it, sent to a publisher and completely misunderstood the rejection letter as a bugger off, when in fact it was an invitation to rewrite the ending and resubmit in six months. But we don't need to go into the details of that episode, nor to dwell on my chronic fear of success....

The reason I bring it up, is that the piece was written on paper. And during the process of typing it up on an Amstrad 512 - the one with the two floppy disk drives and green screen - vast swathes of the text was rewritten, whole sections of the written manuscript were dropped, or moved around, or altered in some way. In a fashion that doesn't happen when you word process form the off.... well not with me anyway...

And it works the same with poems.

Quite often, as regular readers of this bog will no doubt have noticed, mistakes, typos, grammatical errors, the same word repeated, go unnoticed because the way in which the eye reads text on a screen, which is apparently different to text on paper due to the light, texture, focal distances, etc

Which is not to say one process is better than the other. I mention it because when I got to thinking about it I noticed that the outcome was different, that I could look at poem and tell if it drafted on paper or the screen.

But, I shall leave you dear reader to work which is which, much as I admire the fluff in belly button, it is off little interest to the wider public..... oh if only poets who write of blackness and death would feel the same way....


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27/03/2014

Greek

A great deal has changed since I was at school.

There is no longer an Iron Curtain in Geography, Maths is now unfathomable, History, is as ever, ever changing in it slants and bias, and seemingly there is a notion being taught in school that unless a poem is written in iambic pentameter then it is free form and not metered.

When I were a lad we learned about such things... yes the word of the day... dithyrambs.

I am aware regular readers will now be pointing at the screen and shouting, 'YOU ARE THE GUY WHO TRIED TO CLAIM CURIOSITY AND SATISFIED WERE THREE SYLLABLES AND THEREFORE FITTED A DITHYRAMBIC BEAT." And indeed I did, and indeed they are if one listens to the current P.O.S.H accent; you know, the sort of people who read bucks.

Anywho...

I spent a good six hours yesterday working on the Triptych poem. Running each line through syllable counter, making corrections where needed to get 10 beats on a line, then moving things about to get a meter of two unstressed dithyrambs and two iambs, where possible. This editing was also useful for cutting the fat and strengthening the theme of the poem, which is now a three part work relating to John the Baptist.

Thus you get...

I/fol/low  the/CROWD  down/TO  the/riv/er.
It/is/cold  ev/EN  for/ morn/ing  it's/COLD.
The/Jor/dan  shim/MERS    through/the/reeds,    green/SILK,
lick/ing/the    foot/PRINTS   at/THE    wat/er's/edge
in/TO    flat/NESS.

At which point the Bacchanal, breaks for description (in the Greek Style), and to emphasis the specifically Christian/Jesus Cult themes....

               He/WAITS     for/US,     glow/ING,
on/THE    far/BANK,    hand IN     wel/COME     to/CROSS.

Then back tot he Bacchanal...

 The/New  sun/DAZZLES,     some/stag/ger     bright/blind/ed
in/TO    the/wa/ter,     the/SPLASH      of//feet/dulls

etc

Which in my view is a rather decent stab at Greek oration poetry, to play into the themes of the early church contained within the narrative of the piece.The piece isn't finished, it still needs to be read aloud for one thing, and there are a few sections in which the rhythms could be tightened.

In case you are wondering, why the tone of self justification, and the reference to schooling - apparently this isn't metered poetry, it isn't blank verse - it's something called syllabic (which no doubt there is a cream for) and it's free verse because there is no meter... and the person making this judgement recommends I go and look at some link or other from the poetrysociety. Which is all very well, but I somehow doubt the poetrysociety is going to have information on writing in a declamatory style, as from what I seen of their output they are focused on keeping the word firmly on the page - and preferably the word relating to artscouncil funding.... back to tick boxes.

Oh the missus was right about me being Auden....

Still the whole process is very enjoyable, and a useful learning experience.

So now you know your dithyramb from your elbow, you can don an doleful mask, with amplified mouth piece, platform shoes and stage a performance of this semi-Mandean work - possibly with your neighbours and children acting as the chorus, complete with stylized dance moves, and supportive humming.

Triptych - The Lamb

   Birth
I follow the crowd down to the river.
It is cold, even for morning it's cold.
The Jordan shimmers through the reeds, green silk,
licking the foot prints at the water's edge
into flatness. He waits for us, glowing,
on the far bank, hand in welcome to cross.
The new sun dazzles, some stagger bright blinded
into the water, the splash of feet dulls
as they reach midstream their clothes drag.
Waist deep, women toss their girdle aside,
rend their simlah, and bare breasted proceed
to receive favour. I sit on a dune
as others go. Some with clothes, folded,
held above their heads, slaves and masters, dogs
fathers, children, while maternal women
sail swaddled infants safe in fig baskets.
I do not move. Nor does the carpenter.
He takes new bread from his bag and breaks it,
gives me one half. I nod. A cheer goes up,
over the river, the blessing begins.
People dance, sing, hands clap, laughter pealing
as one by one these simple folk immerse
themselves, emerging ecstatic, absolved.
My tongue fishes unmilled grain from the bread.
Curiosity satisfied, we leave.

   Business
The tax collector's beadling stare pins me,
his sharp hooked nose, holds me, sniffing for coins
leaning across the narrow slatted stall,
eyes twisting, as a bird, or a lizard
eager for more; fearing its prey will flit.
Three meagre coins lay between us. His hand
gathers them up as he slithers from me,
beard stinking of onions, and avarice,
he moves on. I swat a fly from an eye,
and engagingly smile at a soldier
who stops to examine the paltry wares
left unsold, The glassy glazed expression,
milking inward, speak of the rot begun.

An evening breeze carries the scent of bread.
I keep the best fish, throw the rest to dogs
in the innkeepers yard, pull eight farthings
from a chink in the wall, settle my pitch;
and prepare for home, when I see a crowd
gathering around the doctor's side door.
The carpenter is there, sitting aloof,
as the people jostle, and push, to see
through the narrow door into the courtyard.
In his hand, he holds a stave, that he smooths
with a piece of glass, turning constantly
the wood, back and forward, thumb and fingers;
running the glass steadily up and down:
the stave's heel hollows a bowl in the dust.
at his feet From the courtyard drifts a voice;
a clear voice, baritone, lemon scented.
I have heard it before. The carpenter
lays the stave aside, stretches his left leg.
rises from the wall. It is then I see
the tax collector perched like an eagle,
in the lower branches of a cedar
spying into the courtyard down below.

My mother's neck is speckled with flour dust
when I arrive home. She takes the Barbel,
guts it, lops the head, boils it with sweet herbs.

   Betrayal
"Dog dong. You, Sardine, two. Talapia.
Hands off. Six, Six." Creaking wicker baskets
spill their guts, glistening bloodied, dark fin,
sliding, slipping, gills gasping, mouth agape.
Clattering coins smack down, elbows jab, "Six,
six, not five, six. Dog dong." Rigging rings tap.
I secure my basket, mindful to pad
the twig, which when laden, vexes my back.
"Dog dong, Dog dong, sardine two, pay up now."

Damp morning still hangs wet upon the air,
horizon haze lengthens earth's rim skyward,
pulling trees into ghosts. Sun washed houses
open shuttered to bleach them fresh of night,
sleepy caught, burnt morning bread odour fades
in the ferment and grind of women's work.

I stop to shift my burden at the spot
on the river, where yesterday crowds came.
Abandoned sandals, snaking girdles, shawls,
lie on the near shore. Whilst on the far bank
nothing remains, except a single wreath
of thistles, purple patch in the rushes.

Cresting the rise, I follow a crow straight
to the inauspicious tree on which hangs
a slave. The patient bird struts and listens,
to the four squat figures, impervious,
standing beneath the cross. Drawing closer
I hear the tax collector and doctor
engaged in heated wrangle for the nails.
The carpenter hands the soldier his stave.
As the wood splits her groin, she sags, exhales,
her white eyes gaze up to heaven, released;
unmoved, the taxing Samaritan claws
at a deal for the nails tearing again
at the woman's palms as the soldier turns
back to the carpenter, dropping the shaft.
Passing, I move my cloak to hide my load
from the tax collector's carrion gaze.


-------------------------------------------------------------
Cue wine, women and song to accompany the Facebooks...



The Blue Book, now with Greek fire. only £1.84

26/03/2014

#poem #poetry #writer #religious #religion #lamb #baptist #john #johnthebaptist

Triptych - The Lamb

   Birth
I follow the crowd down to the river.
It is cold, even for morning it's cold.
The Jordan shimmers through the reeds, green silk,
licking the foot prints at the water's edge
into flatness. He waits for us, glowing,
on the far bank, hand in welcome to cross.
The new sun dazzles, some stagger bright blinded
into the water, the splash of feet dulls
as they reach midstream their clothes drag.
Waist deep, women toss their girdle aside,
rend their simlah, and bare breasted proceed
to receive favour. I sit on a dune
as others go. Some with clothes, folded,
held above their heads, slaves and masters, dogs
fathers, children, while maternal women
sail swaddled infants safe in fig baskets.
I do not move. Nor does the carpenter.
He takes new bread from his bag and breaks it,
gives me one half. I nod. A cheer goes up,
over the river, the blessing begins.
People dance, sing, hands clap, laughter pealing
as one by one these simple folk immerse
themselves, emerging ecstatic, absolved.
My tongue fishes unmilled grain from the bread.
Curiosity satisfied, we leave.

   Business
The tax collector's beadling stare pins me,
his sharp hooked nose, holds me, sniffing for coins
leaning across the narrow slatted stall,
eyes twisting, as a bird, or a lizard
eager for more; fearing its prey will flit.
Three meagre coins lay between us. His hand
gathers them up as he slithers from me,
beard stinking of onions, and avarice,
he moves on. I swat a fly from an eye,
and engagingly smile at a soldier
who stops to examine the paltry wares
left unsold, The glassy glazed expression,
milking inward, speak of the rot begun.

An evening breeze carries the scent of bread.
I keep the best fish, throw the rest to dogs
in the innkeepers yard, pull eight farthings
from a chink in the wall, settle my pitch;
and prepare for home, when I see a crowd
gathering around the doctor's side door.
The carpenter is there, sitting aloof,
as the people jostle, and push, to see
through the narrow door into the courtyard.
In his hand, he holds a stave, that he smooths
with a piece of glass, turning constantly
the wood, back and forward, thumb and fingers;
running the glass steadily up and down:
the stave's heel hollows a bowl in the dust.
at his feet From the courtyard drifts a voice;
a clear voice, baritone, lemon scented.
I have heard it before. The carpenter
lays the stave aside, stretches his left leg.
rises from the wall. It is then I see
the tax collector perched like an eagle,
in the lower branches of a cedar
spying into the courtyard down below.

My mother's neck is speckled with flour dust
when I arrive home. She takes the Barbel,
guts it, lops the head, boils it with sweet herbs.

   Betrayal
"Dog dong. You, Sardine, two. Talapia.
Hands off. Six, Six." Creaking wicker baskets
spill their guts, glistening bloodied, dark fin,
sliding, slipping, gills gasping, mouth agape.
Clattering coins smack down, elbows jab, "Six,
six, not five, six. Dog dong." Rigging rings tap.
I secure my basket, mindful to pad
the twig, which when laden, vexes my back.
"Dog dong, Dog dong, sardine two, pay up now."

Damp morning still hangs wet upon the air,
horizon haze lengthens earth's rim skyward,
pulling trees into ghosts. Sun washed houses
open shuttered to bleach them fresh of night,
sleepy caught, burnt morning bread odour fades
in the ferment and grind of women's work.

I stop to shift my burden at the spot
on the river, where yesterday crowds came.
Abandoned sandals, snaking girdles, shawls,
lie on the near shore. Whilst on the far bank
nothing remains, except a single wreath
of thistles, purple patch in the rushes.

Cresting the rise, I follow a crow straight
to the inauspicious tree on which hangs
a slave. The patient bird struts and listens,
to the four squat figures, impervious,
standing beneath the cross. Drawing closer
I hear the tax collector and doctor
engaged in heated wrangle for the nails.
The carpenter hands the soldier his stave.
As the wood splits her groin, she sags, exhales,
her white eyes gaze up to heaven, released;
unmoved, the taxing Samaritan claws
at a deal for the nails tearing again
at the woman's palms as the soldier turns
back to the carpenter, dropping the shaft.
Passing, I move my cloak to hide my load
from the tax collector's carrion gaze.


----------------------------------------------------------


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Beat

I have been working on the tryptich.

Trimming it, pruning it, pointing it, breathing air into it, opening it up, revealing the mysteries contained therein. Taking it from the page and into the realm of the voice spoken, where poetry should be.

As it stands at the moment the words are there, the sense is there, the emotions are beginning to emerge but it perhaps needs the drum. The structure is blank verse in pentameters, and in theory is iambic - as all things in theory are iambic. But I am thinking of bringing the dithyramb to the fore - 'curiosuity satisfied, we leave for town' - dithyramb, dithyramb, iamb, iamb.

This is  the poem as it stands at present.

Triptych

First Meeting
I follow the crowd pulled by curiosity.
The day is cold, even for morning it's cold.
The Jordan shimmers through the reeds, green silk,
licking the foot prints at the water's edge
into flatness. He waits for us, glowing,
on the far bank, hand in welcome to cross.
The new sun dazzles, but some, bright blinded,
enter the water. The splashing of feet dulls
as they reach midstream, their clothes drag them back.
Waist deep, women toss their girdle aside,
rend their simlah, and bare breasted proceed
to receive his welcome. I sit on a dune
as others go across. Some with clothes folded,
held above their head, naked men, boys, women
sailing swaddled infants in fig baskets.
I do not go. Nor does the carpenter.
He takes new bread from his bag, breaks it,
gives me one half. I nod. A cheer goes up,
over the river, the blessing begins.
People dance, sing, hands clap, laughter peals
as one by one these simple folk immerse
themselves, emerging ecstatic and saved.
My tongue fishes an unmilled grain from the crust.
Curiosity satisfied, we leave for town.

In The Market
The tax collector's beadling stare pins me,
his sharp hook'd nose, holds me, sniffs for coins
leaning across the narrow slatted stall,
eyes twisting, as a bird, or a lizard
eager for more; fearing its prey will flit.
Three meagre coins lay between us. His hand
gathers them up as he slithers from me,
beard stinking of onions, and avarice,
he moves on. I swat a fly from a fish eye,
and engagingly smile at a soldier
who pauses to examine the paltry wares
left unsold, Their glass glazed expression,
milking inward, speak of the rot begun.

An evening breeze carries the scent of bread.
I keep the best fish, throw the rest to dogs
in the innkeepers yard, pull eight farthings
from a chink in the wall, settle my pitch;
and prepare for home, when I see a crowd
gathering around the doctor's side door.
The carpenter is there, sitting aloof,
as the people jostle, and push, to see
through the doorway, into the courtyard.
In his hand, he holds a stave, that he smooths
with a piece of glass, turning constantly
the wood, back and forward, thumb and fingers;
running the glass steadily up and down:
the stave's heel hollows a bowl in the dust.
at his feet From the courtyard drifts a voice;
a clear voice, baritone, lemon scented.
I have heard it before. The carpenter
lays the stave aside, stretches his left leg
and rises from the wall. It is then I see
the tax collector perched like an eagle
in the lower branches of a cedar;
spying into the courtyard down below.

My mother's neck is speckled with flour
when I arrive home. She takes the Barbel,
guts it, lops the head, boils it with sweet herbs.

Business
"Dog dong. You, Sardine, two. Talapia, six.
Hands off. Six, Six." Creaking wicker baskets
spill their guts, glistening bloodied, dark fin,
sliding, slipping, gills gasping, mouth agape.
Clattering coins smack down, elbows jab, "Six,
six, not five, six. Dog dong." Rigging rings tap,
loose furled sails waft sunlight on buyer's backs;
light to dark, shout and trade, profit then eat.
I secure my basket, mindful to pad
the twig, which when laden, vexes my kidney.
"Dog dong, Dog dong, sardine two, pay up."

Damp morning still hangs wet upon the air,
horizon haze lengthens earth's rim skyward,
pulling trees into ghosts. Sun washed houses
open shutters to bleach them fresh of night,
sleepy caught, burnt, morning bread odour fades
in the ferment and grind of women's work.

I stop to shift my burden at the spot
on the river, where yesterday crowds came.
Abandoned shoes, snaking girdles, shawls,
lie on the near shore. Whilst on the far bank
nothing remains, except a single wreath
of thistles, purple splash among the reeds.

Cresting the rise, I follow a crow straight
to the inauspicious tree, on which hangs
a slave. The patient bird, struts and listens
to the four dark figures, impervious,
standing beneath its meal. As I draw near
I hear the tax collector and doctor
engaged in heated wrangle for the nails.
The carpenter hands the soldier his stave.
As the wood splits her groin, she sags, exhales,
her white eyes look up to heaven in joy;
unmoved, the taxing Samaritan claws
at a deal for the nails tearing again
at the woman's palms, as the soldier turns
back to the carpenter releasing the shaft.
I pass by, half turning to shield my load
from the tax collector's calculating eye.

The section titles also need reconsidering, as at present they imply a linear narrative. Which goes against the objective of this being three distinct scenes, intended to be viewed both separately and in diverse order.

Triptych 

Business
"Dog dong. You, Sardine, two. Talapia, six.
Hands off. Six, Six." Creaking wicker baskets
spill their guts, glistening bloodied, dark fin,
sliding, slipping, gills gasping, mouth agape.
Clattering coins smack down, elbows jab, "Six,
six, not five, six. Dog dong." Rigging rings tap,
loose furled sails waft sunlight on buyer's backs;
light to dark, shout and trade, profit then eat.
I secure my basket, mindful to pad
the twig, which when laden, vexes my kidney.
"Dog dong, Dog dong, sardine two, pay up."

Damp morning still hangs wet upon the air,
horizon haze lengthens earth's rim skyward,
pulling trees into ghosts. Sun washed houses
open shutters to bleach them fresh of night,
sleepy caught, burnt, morning bread odour fades
in the ferment and grind of women's work.

I stop to shift my burden at the spot
on the river, where yesterday crowds came.
Abandoned shoes, snaking girdles, shawls,
lie on the near shore. Whilst on the far bank
nothing remains, except a single wreath
of thistles, purple splash among the reeds.

Cresting the rise, I follow a crow straight
to the inauspicious tree, on which hangs
a slave. The patient bird, struts and listens
to the four dark figures, impervious,
standing beneath its meal. As I draw near
I hear the tax collector and doctor
engaged in heated wrangle for the nails.
The carpenter hands the soldier his stave.
As the wood splits her groin, she sags, exhales,
her white eyes look up to heaven in joy;
unmoved, the taxing Samaritan claws
at a deal for the nails tearing again
at the woman's palms, as the soldier turns
back to the carpenter releasing the shaft.
I pass by, half turning to shield my load
from the tax collector's calculating eye.

 First Meeting
I follow the crowd pulled by curiosity.
The day is cold, even for morning it's cold.
The Jordan shimmers through the reeds, green silk,
licking the foot prints at the water's edge
into flatness. He waits for us, glowing,
on the far bank, hand in welcome to cross.
The new sun dazzles, but some, bright blinded,
enter the water. The splashing of feet dulls
as they reach midstream, their clothes drag them back.
Waist deep, women toss their girdle aside,
rend their simlah, and bare breasted proceed
to receive his welcome. I sit on a dune
as others go across. Some with clothes folded,
held above their head, naked men, boys, women
sailing swaddled infants in fig baskets.
I do not go. Nor does the carpenter.
He takes new bread from his bag, breaks it,
gives me one half. I nod. A cheer goes up,
over the river, the blessing begins.
People dance, sing, hands clap, laughter peals
as one by one these simple folk immerse
themselves, emerging ecstatic and saved.
My tongue fishes an unmilled grain from the crust.
Curiosity satisfied, we leave for town.

In The Market
The tax collector's beadling stare pins me,
his sharp hook'd nose, holds me, sniffs for coins
leaning across the narrow slatted stall,
eyes twisting, as a bird, or a lizard
eager for more; fearing its prey will flit.
Three meagre coins lay between us. His hand
gathers them up as he slithers from me,
beard stinking of onions, and avarice,
he moves on. I swat a fly from a fish eye,
and engagingly smile at a soldier
who pauses to examine the paltry wares
left unsold, Their glass glazed expression,
milking inward, speak of the rot begun.

An evening breeze carries the scent of bread.
I keep the best fish, throw the rest to dogs
in the innkeepers yard, pull eight farthings
from a chink in the wall, settle my pitch;
and prepare for home, when I see a crowd
gathering around the doctor's side door.
The carpenter is there, sitting aloof,
as the people jostle, and push, to see
through the doorway, into the courtyard.
In his hand, he holds a stave, that he smooths
with a piece of glass, turning constantly
the wood, back and forward, thumb and fingers;
running the glass steadily up and down:
the stave's heel hollows a bowl in the dust.
at his feet From the courtyard drifts a voice;
a clear voice, baritone, lemon scented.
I have heard it before. The carpenter
lays the stave aside, stretches his left leg
and rises from the wall. It is then I see
the tax collector perched like an eagle
in the lower branches of a cedar;
spying into the courtyard down below.

My mother's neck is speckled with flour
when I arrive home. She takes the Barbel,
guts it, lops the head, boils it with sweet herbs.

for instance....

----------------------------------------------------------
 Cue random picture to make the Facebooks awesome....




The Blue Book, this is the poetry you are looking for, only $2.99

25/03/2014

Three

I went to the Beehive Poets again.

They can't keep me away.

Four pints of Gold Cup, and a Jameson later, I came away with that warm cleansing of the soul that one gets from gaslight, an open fire and an intellectual exchange of ideas - and a bit of a skin full.

It was workshop night, which is rather a groan. True, the poems do get rather more analysis than on a read round night - well the early ones anyway - but equally the conversation surrounding the poem tends to be rather less free flowing and open, more stilted.

There was rather good work on show. Ed had an interesting piece on Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his interest in early 19th century Greek romanticism. David's Dr Seuss-like flow of consciousness sexual outpouring was entertaining and funny. But the highlight for me was a poem by Christine, which in the built up threatened to be an emotional mess but in the telling was a delightfully satirical piece along the lines of Voltaire or Gogol. It was/is a work of genius. Conveying on many levels messages about the role women, and the dangers of allowing oneself to be labeled.

As for work, I completed the third part of religious thing - I say thing because... well... it is religious and it is not; deliberately.

I think it probably is a triptych, as opposed to three stand alone pieces - the first part probably could stand alone, and maybe the third. The middle section is the weakest, with far to much 'he said' 'she said' and not enough moving of the camera and action. I'll but it out to workshop and see reaction it gets. And in the meantime I'll let it lie, stew, and and see how I feel about it in a few weeks time.

Here's the whole thing....

Triptych 

First Meeting
I follow the crowd pulled by curiosity.
The day is hot, even for morning it's hot.
The Jordon shimmers through the reeds, cold green,
licking the foot prints at the water's edge
into flatness. He waits for us, glowing,
on the far bank, hand in welcome to cross.
The new sun dazzles, but some, bright blinded,
enter the water. The splashing of feet dulls
as they reach midstream, their clothes drag them back.
Waist deep, women toss their girdle aside,
rend their simlah, and bare breasted proceed
to receive his welcome. I sit on a dune
as others go across. Some with clothes, folded,
held above their head, naked men, boys, women
sailing infants over in fig baskets.
I do not go. Nor does the carpenter.
He takes stale bread from his bag, breaks it,
gives it to me. I nod. A cheer goes up
over the river as blessings begin.
People dance, sing, hands clap, laughter rings
as one by one these simple folk immerse
themselves, to emerge joyful and saved.
My tongue fishes an unmilled grain from the crust.
Curiosity satisfied, we leave.

In The Market
The tax collector's beadling stare pins me,
holds me. His sharp, hooked nose sniffs for coins.
He leans across the narrow slatted stall,
eyes twisting, as a bird, or a lizard
eager for more; fearing the prey will fly.
Six meager coins lay before him, his hand
gathers them up as he slides back from me.
His beard stinks of onions, and avarice.
He moves on. I swat a fly from a fish eye,
and smile engagingly at a soldier
who pauses to examine the paltry fish
left unsold, Their glass glazed expression,
milking inward, speaks of the rot begun.
The breeze carries the scent of evening bread.
I keep the best fish, throw the rest to dogs
in the innkeepers yard, pull eight bronze coins
from the chink in the wall, pay for the stall,
and prepare for home when I see a crowd
stood around the door of the doctor's.
The carpenter is there, sitting aloof,
as the people jostle, and push, to see
through the doorway, into the courtyard.
In his hand, he holds a stave, that he smooths
with a piece of glass, turning constantly
the wood, back and forward, thumb and fingers;
running the glass steadily up and down.
At his feet the stave's foot hollows a bowl
in the dust. From the courtyard drifts a voice.
A clear voice, baritone, lemon scented.
I have heard it before. The carpenter
lays the stave aside, stretches his left leg
and rises from the wall. It is then I see
the tax collector perched like an eagle
in the lower branches of a cedar;
spying into the courtyard down below.
My mother's neck is speckled with flour
as she takes the fish, lops the head, fries it.

Business
"Dog dong. You, Sardine, two. Talapia, six.
Hands off. Six, Six." Creaking wicker baskets
spill their guts, glistening bloodied, dark fin,
sliding, slipping, gills gasping, mouth agape.
Clattering coins smack down, elbows jab, "Six,
six, not five, six. Dog dong." Rigging rings tap,
loose furled sails waft sunlight on buyer's backs;
light to dark, shout and trade, profit then eat.
I secure my basket, careful to cloth mask
that one twig that hates me, seeks my kidney.
"Dog dong, Dog dong, sardine two, pay up."
Damp morning still hangs wet upon the air.
Horizon haze lengthens earth's rim skyward,
pulling trees into ghosts. Sun washed houses
open shutters to bleach them fresh of night.
Sleepy caught morning bread burnt odour fades
in the ferment and grind of women's work.
I stop to shift my burden at the spot
on the river, where yesterday crowds came.
Abandoned shoes, snaking girdles, belts,
lie on the near shore. Whilst on the far bank
nothing remains, except a single wreath
of thistles, purple bright among the reeds.
Cresting the brow, I see a crow fly straight
to the inauspicious tree, on which hangs
a slave. The patient crow lands, struts, listens
to the four dark figures, impervious,
standing beneath its meal. As I draw near
I hear the tax collector and doctor
engaged in heated wrangle for the nail.
The carpenter hands the soldier his stave.
As the wood splits her groin, she sags, exhales,
her white eyes look up to heaven in joy,
as the candle of her arms gutters, dims
the burning blood trapped within her head.
Unmoved, the taxing Samaritan claws
at the deal, for the nail tearing again
at the young girl's flesh as the soldier turns
back to the carpenter releasing the shaft.
I pass by, half turning to shield my load
from the tax collector's calculating eye.



----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cue random photo to tart up the Facebooks...




The Blue Book, now with run resistant ladders, £1.84

24/03/2014

#poem #poetry #writer #religious #religion #crucifxion

Business
"Dog dong. You, Sardine, two. Talapia, six.
Hands off. Six, Six." Creaking wicker baskets
spill their guts, glistening bloodied, dark fin,
sliding, slipping, gills gasping, mouth agape.
Clattering coins smack down, elbows jab, "Six,
six, not five, six. Dog dong." Rigging rings tap,
loose furled sails waft sunlight on buyer's backs;
light to dark, shout and trade, profit then eat.
I secure my basket, careful to cloth mask
that one twig that hates me, seeks my kidney.
"Dog dong, Dog dong, sardine two, pay up."
Damp morning still hangs wet upon the air.
Horizon haze lengthens earth's rim skyward,
pulling trees into ghosts. Sun washed houses
open shutters to bleach them fresh of night.
Sleepy caught morning bread burnt odour fades
in the ferment and grind of women's work.
I stop to shift my burden at the spot
on the river, where yesterday crowds came.
Abandoned shoes, snaking girdles, belts,
lie on the near shore. Whilst on the far bank
nothing remains, except a single wreath
of thistles, purple bright among the reeds.
Cresting the brow, I see a crow fly straight
to the inauspicious tree, on which hangs
a slave. The patient crow lands, struts, listens
to the four dark figures, impervious,
standing beneath its meal. As I draw near
I hear the tax collector and doctor
engaged in heated wrangle for the nail.
The carpenter hands the soldier his stave.
As the wood splits her groin, she sags, exhales,
her white eyes look up to heaven in joy,
as the candle of her arms gutters, dims
the burning blood trapped within her head.
Unmoved, the taxing Samaritan claws
at the deal, for the nail tearing again
at the young girl's flesh as the soldier turns
back to the carpenter releasing the shaft.
I pass by, half turning to shield my load
from the tax collector's calculating eye.


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Fish

I spent the day puzzling over the poem First Meeting.

The piece started out with the intention of portraying the Jesus of the Johanite heresies, the betrayer, the Judas of John, the usurper and the villain. But as the piece was written, and the women became bare breasted, I began to wonder if the figure on the far bank might be Simon Magus, or a figure from Greek or Roman Paganism. And, if it is John the Baptist, the hysteria of those crossing the river becomes a statement in Christian terms, especially when connected to the deliberate Christian references, the repetition of the word 'cross', the fish and bread, the unmilled grain etc.

But equally all of this is obvious alienation.

No one is named, no time is given for when these events occur, and it is laced with the art of the ordinary.

So I decided to explore further....

 In The Market
The tax collector's beadling stare pins me,
holds me. His sharp, hooked nose sniffs for coins.
He leans across the narrow slatted stall,
eyes twisting, as a bird, or a lizard
eager for more; fearing the prey will fly.
Six meager coins lay before him, his hand
gathers them up as he slides back from me.
His beard stinks of onions, and avarice.
He moves on. I swat a fly from a fish eye,
and smile engagingly at a soldier
who pauses to examine the paltry fish
left unsold, Their glass glazed expression,
milking inward, speaks of the rot begun.
The breeze carries the scent of evening bread.
I keep the best fish, throw the rest to dogs
in the innkeepers yard, pull eight bronze coins
from the chink in the wall, pay for the stall,
and prepare for home when I see a crowd
stood around the door of the doctor's.
The carpenter is there, sitting aloof,
as the people jostle, and push, to see
through the doorway, into the courtyard.
In his hand, he holds a stave, that he smooths
with a piece of glass, turning constantly
the wood, back and forward, thumb and fingers;
running the glass steadily up and down.
At his feet the stave's foot hollows a bowl
in the dust. From the courtyard drifts a voice.
A clear voice, baritone, lemon scented.
I have heard it before. The carpenter
lays the stave aside, stretches his left leg
and rises from the wall. It is then I see
the tax collector perched like an eagle
in the lower branches of a cedar;
spying into the courtyard down below.
My mother's neck is speckled with flour
as she takes the fish, lops the head, fries it.

It needs tidying up a bit... far to many 'he saids', 'I dids'



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Cue random picture to give feature to the facebooks decolletage....



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