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.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cue random picture to give the facebooks the feeling of a provincial museum




The Blue Book, now with 33% more, 60 poems for $2.99

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


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


The Blue Book, now with electrons, only$3.99 AUS

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


--------------------------------------------------------
 Cue random picture for the facebooks stain glass...



The Blue Book, now with ideas, only $2.99

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....


-----------------------------------------------------------------
Cue random picture to illustrate the facebooks




The Blue Book, now with stuff, £1.84

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


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



The Blue Book

#ilkley Nights

In the red corner #poetry, in the blue corner #novels.

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....


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cue random picture for facebooks make over....



The Blue Book, now without tomato, only $2.99... or less if the sale has begun... and I could remember how to find out when that is..... you'll just have to click the link and find out....

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.


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


The Blue Book, now with added Q, only £2.99

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.


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


The Blue Book, now with Large Print option, only £1.84

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'



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



The Blue Book, now GM Free, only $2.99

#poetry #poem #writer #religion #religious #fish #market

 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.



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


The Blue Book, now with W's, only £1.84

23/03/2014

God

Among #poetry types the sonnet is a useful practice ground.

It is useful for a number of reasons. The form is relatively long, allowing themes and ideas to develop, whilst being rather restrictive, forcing hard choices to be made.

The Rose
She went toward the village green dancing
the jigs of May. When she espied laid on
the verge, basking bright in a fairy ring,
the silver pin, the one she gave to John

in troth. 'How come you there?' the maiden asked.
Bending down to pick it up, her finger
caught the point so sharp; her blood unmasked
magic. The wise girl chose not linger

dropped the pin upon the grass. Full speed
she ran along the lane, a blur of skirt
and bobbing curls. The drop of blood now freed,
grew into a little seed. From that petty hurt

finger, pricked, in summer flowers a rose
warm as May, bright as June, red as fire glows.

 It is less a poem. than an series of iambs,  Though there are some pleasing twists in pace, rhythm, and a trap for the unwary in the second stanza.

I am intrigued by the possibilities this form offers for creating other styles, by treating the text as fridge magnets and re arranging them.

Over the past year or so, I have become increasingly interested in Christianity. This included a few months of regular church attendance. There is something rather wonderful about watching a burly, bluff, policeman type leading the singing of Have Thine Own Way, Lord, well it appeals to the adolescent in me anyway. My preference is rather more Hymns Ancient and Modern and King James, than the more modern whigish tambourine waving. But, there are worse ways to spend a few hours on a Sunday.

There is a marvelous book by Robin Lane Fox called, Pagans and Christians: In the Mediterranean World from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine, that comprehensively, and amusingly, offers insight to the context of, and growth of, the early church. And, for instance, explains why when the vicar stood up and launched into his nonsensical homily on marriage, using statistics from an article in the Daily Express, he might have thought he was bolstering his flock; but instead he was chiding them for having carnal relations, and not living a good gnostic life. Interestingly, (and this has nothing to do with the early church) adultery, is not simply 'playing away', in medieval times you could be hauled before the church court, charged with adultery, if you did not have sex with your spouse, or had sex too often.  Off hand, I believe the faithful were required to play the two backed beast (or variations upon a theme) twice a week.

However, the story that interests me most is that of James and Paul/Saul.

You know the one. James gets beaten up in the temple, broken bones are involved, and he and his supporters flee to Damascus. Paul, and his gang, go after them and on the way Paul sees a burning bush, is converted to the true faith and begins writing letters.

The story sparks my interest, for a number of reasons. The historical similarities to events surrounding the foundation of Islam, specifically the split between Shia and Sunni - the followers of James claiming the hereditary principle. But it is also the context of the story. In a  discussion of the Jordan Lead Codices on Coast to Coast (Oh I know, conspiracy theorist) it was observed that rather than this showdown on the Damascus road being a confrontation between two men, and maybe a few hangers on, there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of people involved. Suddenly, when seen in this light, it becomes clear why the Jesus Cult was such a problem for the authorities.Not least because the Jesus Cult was not one thing. Especially when one throws into the mix the various loosely related sects, cults and societies, within Judea, Palestine, and the wider region.

In this age of television, it's simple for the powerful to control the message - 98% of scientists agree on global warming right? There's no need to beat up dissenters in the temple, you just don't give them airtime.

In the time of the Christ, whoever you define that to be, or not, controlling the message is not so easy. Especially when there are lots of roaming preachers, and holy men (and women). spreading their message. And, all they have to do is set up shop across the Jordan, or go into the mountains of Samaria, or to Damascus. The 'authorities' are pretty powerless to do much but keep an eye on them, maybe kill them, or just cross their fingers in the hope that out of sight does mean out of mind.

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.



---------------------------------------------------------------------
Cue random picture to sprinkle the facebooks with jasmine petals




The Blue Book, the kiss with bite, only £1.84

#poem #poetry #jordan #religious

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.


------------------------------------------------------------
The Blue Book, now without MSG, only $2.99

22/03/2014

#poetry #poem #children #rose #flower

The Rose
She went toward the village green dancing
the jigs of May. When she espied laid on
the verge, basking bright in a fairy ring,
the silver pin, the one she gave to John

in troth. 'How come you there?' the maiden asked.
Bending down to pick it up, her finger
caught the point so sharp; her blood unmasked
magic. The wise girl chose not linger

dropped the pin upon the grass. Full speed
she ran along the lane, a blur of skirt
and bobbing curls. The drop of blood now freed,
grew into a little seed. From that petty hurt

finger, pricked, in summer flowers a rose
warm as May, bright as June, red as fire glows.



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


The Blue Book, now with Eaziturn pages, only $3.07

Laps

I am still experimenting with formal #poetry.

Counting our the meter, referencing the form, etc.

Anywho...

Following on from yesterday's political poem affair, I got up in the morning, sipped my coffee and knocked off a political poem....

#Ukraine
A passing cloud, black, distracts the sheep at grass;
in unison, forty seven brown marble eyes watch it pass,
weigh the darkness, sniff the rain, keep at the task
of lambing.

The one eyed farmer stands astride the stile, dry stone wall,
he notes, in need of repair. Counting the string of moles
turning coins in his pocket, his dog he calls
by whistling.

The sheep know the dog has teeth, on cue they bleat.
Tracing the path of the pipeline, the farmer leads
his dog, moles on a string, to the next field
for lambing.

Its more of exercise, than a piece. Practicing the triplet and refrain form. With some scales regarding repetition, internal rhyme, enjambment, and pacing thrown in. Alright, it's a bit of showing off really, but, that is strangely appropriate given the activities of Nudelman and friends.

Which left the rest of the day to fill.

My notebook offered no inspiration. I considered doing something about the current Scramble for Africa. Along the lines of the 'the Gatling's jammed and the colonel is dead' with a touch of 'there's a quiet hush in the close tonight', and drawing parallels between Gordon and the present game of hunt the Mahdi in Mali. What rhymes with MINUSMA?

Instead, I decided to go back to the brain cleansing sorbet of writing nonsense. The difference this time being that instead of using sounds, I would use actual words, count the meter, and see what comes out. An accept and build improvisation, if you will.

A Moment of Tension
Amidst the bracken, ferns, the spreading birch,
we find a red brick, half buried. Not much
of a find. Digging it with your toe perched
on point, I trace a faded denim stitch
of your knee length skirt, to a dead nettle.

This morning, spreading toast with marmalade
we talked of little, preferring kettle's
song to accompany the rustling crack
of nylon jackets, rucksacks, boot tying.

The brick tumbles out, half split, with a ring
of grey loam about its middle. Turning,
with that smile, you half skip along the track.

This is the finished version. In the original, 'faded denim stitich' was 'faded denim track', with the rhyme structure being rhyme, half rhyme, rhyme, refrain - assuming you will allow marmalade to be a half rhyme of nettle and kettle (which you probably won't),

There are two things going on here. The first is the art of the ordinary, and the second is that I deliberately made choices in which nothing happens. Thus 'we' whoever they are, find a brick. As she, one presumes by the skirt, digs the brick out with her toe, the other person's (their sex is not specified) hand/eye is drawn by the line is the skirt to a dead nettle. This was rather a big choice, as three or four times, I found myself wanting to write about the scent of the perfume, the sunlight through her hair, something highly personal; and defining of what is happening, and who these people are. I was trying to make something happen. To take it out of the ordinary.

And to stop the soap opera writer in me having the people kiss, or do something meaningful, I pulled out of the scene back to breakfast. This going back in time reigned in the image I had of these two people, in the future, on top of a hill drinking coffee, from a thermos - which is ordinary, but because the time is moving forward, it is a narrative, it is making things happen - it is me, the writer, making things happen.

The brick tumbles out, she smiles and walks off.

End of meter practice, pens down.

All of which makes the process seem effortless. I suppose it took about four hours, plus a couple of hours thinking through the suggested rewrites received in feedback. There was much tapping of the forehead looking for the correct rhyme. Much culling in of words as they broke through to the next line for fear of wasting any of those ten precious beats. A fair bit of tea drinking, and pacing around.

In truth I was a little surprised by the reaction the piece received, a little tearful even. To have a piece described as 'brilliance!' is somewhat shocking. The poem made the short list for editors choice on the Poetry Forum.

So for the final practice of the day I decided to see if I could turn these notes....

the years expand through candled cakes, park swings, broken arms, weekend trips;
through puckered lips, we exchange goodbyes, calling, cajoling, in the grip
of the school run. And, sometimes filtered in moonlight we say hello, slipping
out of character and into role.

.... into a sonnet.

 t'missus

The years expand by candled cakes, park swings,
kissed scrapes, weekend trips. The rota of meals
negotiated, shouts, hard bargaining
tears over peas, sausage, chocolate deals
broken, The chair takes on our silhouette
pressed down by monster cuddles and stories.

Pecked tokens of goodbye, without regret,
outweigh moonlit greeting; when closed eyes
remind us, that tea and kindness, are not
all we share. No ring was ever stronger
than your embrace. Ten hands entwined, knotted,
around the single vision to conquer
those sunny uplands, seen in a baby's thumb,
which showed what was not, and what was to come.

T'missus likes it.

I'm more pleased to have got through the test of form.


-----------------------------------------------------------------
Cue random picture for the facebooks window...




The Blue Book, now with cheese pixels, only £1.84

# poetry #poem #sonnet #love #family

t'missus

The years expand by candled cakes, park swings,
kissed scrapes, weekend trips. The rota of meals
negotiated, shouts, hard bargaining
tears over peas, sausage, chocolate deals
broken, The chair takes on our silhouette
pressed down by monster cuddles and stories.

Pecked tokens of goodbye, without regret,
outweigh moonlit greeting; when closed eyes
remind us, that tea and kindness, are not
all we share. No ring was ever stronger
than your embrace. Ten hands entwined, knotted,
around the single vision to conquer
those sunny uplands, seen in a baby's thumb,
which showed what was not, and what was to come.


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


The Blue Book - now with added Zazz, only £1.84

21/03/2014

#poem #poetry #love #brick #woodland

A Moment of Tension
Amidst the bracken, ferns, the spreading birch,
we find a red brick, half buried. Not much
of a find. Digging it with your toe perched
on point, I trace a faded denim stitch
of your knee length skirt, to a dead nettle.

This morning, spreading toast with marmalade
we talked of little, preferring kettle's
song to accompany the rustling crack
of nylon jackets, rucksacks, boot tying.

The brick tumbles out, half split, with a ring
of grey loam about its middle. Turning,
with that smile, you half skip along the track.


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



The Blue Book, now with added Firbergel,  $3.31 CAN

#poetry #poem #ukraine #sheep #putin #oil #blackwater #nudelman #agenda #politics #farming

#Ukraine
A passing cloud, black, distracts the sheep at grass;
in unison, forty seven brown marble eyes watch it pass,
weigh the darkness, sniff the rain, keep at the task
of lambing.

The one eyed farmer stands astride the stile, dry stone wall,
he notes, in need of repair. Counting the string of moles
turning coins in his pocket, his dog he calls
by whistling.

The sheep know the dog has teeth, on cue they bleat.
Tracing the path of the pipeline, the farmer leads
his dog, moles on a string, to the next field
for lambing.



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


 The Blue Book, now with virtual calories,  304 Yen

Agenda

Oh dear, no #poetry flowed yesterday.

Like the constipated mathematician, I tried to work it out with a pencil...

From the notebook...

This was rather fun, write a poem on a village place name...

 Addingham
Sheep throughout the dales disappear,
during gales, throughout the year,
the police are baffled, or dare not say,
as swift as farmers reflock
Addingham takes 'em away.

The Sonnet of the Angry Poet, lines in two half sentences, five beats to the half line....

 'fucking facist pigs', the bar till slams shut.
Mr Abrahams coughs,

Meh, poets writing skits about poetry readings, is almost as dull as poets writing poems about writing poems. And tacking on references to Trevor Griffiths  play The Comedians only further compounds the error. Oh, and the bad language, so last year.

The original plan was to write long form triplets to be cut down into verses....

the years expand through candled cakes, park swings, broken arms, weekend trips;
through puckered lips, we exchange goodbyes, calling, cajoling, in the grip
of the school run. And, sometimes filtered in moonlight we say hello, slipping
out of character and into role.

but as you can see that didn't go too well.

Neither did minimalist skeleton poetry...

In a joy of Vivaldi I pour tea
Bergamot glistens

when my head turns to listen
caught be pleading

wail of a child the night
looks like rain

and again childish pain

bloody cats,,,,

There is only so long you can string it out, and as you can see by the tedium of those rhymes it wasn't very long.

This was rather fun...

 Oh childish delight at candle bright do not pass or flee
make your wish make it big root your hope like mighty oak
spread your cheeks and blow oh childish delight in candle bright
do not let if go

This less so...

 In the bandstand plays without regard for the children rushing round
the local amateur jazz quintette raising money for the drowned.

A nicely absurd line, but little more....

A which point I settled into the La Chasse, and went in search of inspiration.

As a long time boner, and as yet, not first time donor, I am somewhat of a fan of the No Agenda Show - "PUTIN", "george clooney, george CLOONEY, GEORGE CLOONEY, is a spy", "Adam's gonna read his email, on the No Agenda show", Pierre Drivemycar, Snowjob, "you've got karma", that's bogative, et al - so there I am listening to them talk about the situation in Ukraine, about how Nudelman (aka Victoria Nuland) and her husband are pulling the media strings, PUTIN, excerpts from the Council on Foreign Relations meeting, discussion about the pipelines, Eric Snowden (someone has a got a brilliant sense of humour to pull off that robot thing), the propaganda campaign against PUTIN, the analysis of the resignation of that news model... you know... light hearted, intelligent, discussion. I mean where else would you learn that registering the name ABADGUY@Google (dot) com will get you on a list... who would have guessed?

Go to Dvorak dot org slash NA to donate....

Gosh those jingles are catchy....

Anywho....

I'm listening to this, when I happen across a piece, that claims to be a political poem, but in reality is someone who doesn't have anything to say, has been watching the news, written about that, and then tagged on the usual homily of how sad it all is. As an example of the effectiveness of slave training, it is perfect. Nudelman and her cohorts will be delighted, PUTIN.

It perhaps doesn't help that earlier in the day I had stumbled across another poem by the same person, written in much the same style - one might call it provocative, or semi agit-prop - about poetry, and how only old farts like well crafted, complicated things, and everyone should be little Gilliam McKeith's admiring each others poop, like good little Obamabots.

And so I left a comment. Pointing out that the content is naive.

Apparently, that is not done. It seems we are required to have no discernment, but to clap politely.

Which would perhaps explain why so many poetry groups have tedious left wing ranters, waffling on about dolphins, prostitutes and the like, in a vaguely Maoist re-education manner.

Which is a shame, because done well political poetry is very satisfying. Its just a pity that so few people take the time to craft it, to point it, to layer it with meaning and contradiction. It's all just black and white, right and wrong, and good and good.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cue random picture to augment the facebooks....

The Blue Book now in Redifusion, only EUR 2,68

20/03/2014

Gravitas

There is something rather liberating about formal #poetry.

Not a phrase I associated with my wild and experimental youth. And, having admitted it, no doubt I have a future of gout, ear-hair and brickbats.

But fear not, dear modernist, no doubt the wind of change will blow once more and I shall swing from of this measured, throaty, Priestlyesque growl back to the sunny heights of words thrown down blankly. Indeed, this metamorphosis is in part due to a piece of advice I imparted the other day, when I advised 'developing the gut and the growl' over the head and the heart, when writing poetry.

And so to yesterday's work....

I fear that soon my local branch of Booths will be demanding an agents fee, for so much of my recent explosion has been inspired whilst perambulating to and from their emporium.

This first piece was no different.

The genesis was feedback I received for my poem Dusk. The critique, if critique it was, complained that the piece was sing song, that the meter was too regular, the poem too long, But only after complaining I had made a 'hiccup' in the opening stanza with regard to the beat and the musicality. Which when considered is an odd claim, as the opening section of a musical composition sets the theme, on which the variations are to be played, and Dusk is no different.

Musically there are issue with the poem. The absence of punctuation is somewhat of a challenge, with the tendency to see the end of the line as the delineation, the stage if you will, rather than taking the freedom offered to create for one's self.

Oh, and apparently the poem is trite. But then the art of the ordinary is often described thus by the petite-Leviathans of masturbatory avant-garde mis-interpretation.

It was a rather amusing encounter, as it was less about an exchange of ideas, and more a desperate attempt by the critic to assert ownership of all knowledge with regard to art; and advertise their great works. Indeed by way of invitation they bumped some of their poems from the bowels of the forum wasteland. I recall one was entitled along the lines of Jesus Goes To New York, which brought to mind a favorite Adrian Henri poem.

I did not take up this offer, instead I did what all vindictive artists do, I ignored this tiresome fellow - oh who can stand to be ignored! - and festered on the insult; trite indeed.

As with most annoyances, the itch was soon scratched, and the poem morphed from being an attack on critics, into something more playful....

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mange
in drafty garrets up winding stair
tousled poems show pubic hair
wilting quivering under the glare
of the earnest poetry buff

doused in blood ennui sigh
absent of confessional sign
sly of pen no unread prize
drown'd hand waving stuff

twelve point tippy tapping type
the blank revenge hoves into sight
one eyed pirate takes the fight
to Emily Dickinson's ghost

sparse dense and bold stanzas run
strangled words throttled of fun
misquote Keats odes for a pun
on angelic hosts

some lines three some lines run as far as ten
up pops that clever girl again
always hanging round John Donne
in studied discord

alas at last the poem finished
all hope expressed lies diminished
to crabbed critics joyless critiqued
who only see the words

The rhyme pattern is the same as used in Dusk, 3 rhymes, with the fourth being blank; the difference being that these are picked up in refrain.

I'll allow you, dear reader, to spot the jokes,

And so to family time, and teatime, and games time, and bath time, and bedtime, and coffee time, and bathtime, and....

The notebook...

She comes a sparrow in the morning, smelling of his cigarettes
sips the tea of early warning, pats his hand, he's not done yet.

A poem about cancer.... I don't think so.... no fate I am not tempting you, allow me the enjoyment of my cigars.

And, again Booths is to blame for this, as it popped into my mind whilst passed the recycling bins in the car park, and glimpsing the rather squat brown house - I believe it is called the Hunting Lodge - peering down at the Lopakhins below....

No more on the hill the Middleton clan

I don't believe I wrote it down, I simply thought it, dismissed it and did my shopping.

However, whilst experimenting with  rhyming couplets, the line came back to me, grew into a single couplet, and then a second. There is something marvelous about a well balanced couplet. It has a nature cadence that matches it's logic.

Changing subject slightly, by way of explanation, some months ago I attended an interesting talk about, and walk around, Ilkley cemetery. There was I, among the semi-retired and ladies in hats, being pleasantly entertained about the financing of the project, the design, it's place within the intended model community, the children's isolation hospital, the worthy folks, the not so worthy folk, the maintenance, the curious opening ceremony; though as you might guess, it was the oddity of the last Lord of the Manor being re-intered - I believe they had originally been laid to rest in the family vault - separately from his wife, for reasons of religious demarcation, that intrigued me.

Thus having built the couplets, and created a structure for a wider poem, by adding scenes to create the journey around the graveyard, I broke the lines to make four line verses.

And before I run into trouble with the local historical society, I admit that I took some liberties with regard to GBS and Garibaldi, that it was not she who waved the flag, but her father, and she went onto be a leading Sufferagette before going over the to Conservatives on the Irish question; and I could not recall which poet was a regular visitor for tea with the leading lights of the education movement, and GBS scanned. And no, I am not saying the place has a litter problem, the volunteers do a wonderful job maintaining the place, and reclaiming the graves of those without kin to care for their final resting place.

So without further ado....

Musing In Ilkley Cemetery
No more on the hill the Middleton clan,
     now resting apart in municipal plot.
He to the left with the Romans and Catholics,
     she to the right among Protestant stock.

He passes his time amongst sisters and Irish,
     she spends her days with the cream of the mill.
And were they to rise, and meet on the pathway,
     they could look through the Ash to the pile on the hill.

Walking once more, hands crossed behind me,
     the A plots, the B plots and C's tucked behind,
reading the stones, somber and solid,
     eaten by moss and losing their shine.

Now here's a baby resting with mother,
     daffodils, and brambles over their head.
Laying untended, their family departed,
     'gone safe to the Lord', the legend there says.

A squirrel picks crisps from littered green packet,
      vinegar, bites and claws at its tongue.
Skirting the line of war fallen heroes
      into conformists I gladly move on.

Past teachers and doctors, inventors and shepherds,
     he was a pal of George Bernard Shaw,
her flag she raised with Garibaldi,
     his soul he saved building homes for the poor.

At last, I complete my ambling circuit,
     back once again beside Middleton sun.
Surely despite religious contention,
     husband and wife might lay here as one.


----------------------------------------------------------------------
Cue random picture for the edification of facebook aficionados....

The Blue Book, now only $3,99 AUS