Not as good a turnout as I would have hoped for but a few nice pieces nevertheless. In response to my request for your poems here are a few from Mark Head and Malcolm Davis with a little ‘top-up’ from myself to make up the numbers.
“If you’d asked for sporting achievements I’d have nothing at all to offer. I was a duffer but I did write poem while in the 1st year, age 11 (probably during a German lesson) and naturally it was about my preoccupation at that time – fishing. I sometimes still spell ‘decieved’ incorrectly”.
Well, I have a few Poems ‘what I have wrote’ from the past and near present. I had one published in The Rook in 1968 Entitled ‘Lone Survivor’.
You may remember the news tale of the day of the sinking of the fishing vessel ‘Ross Cleveland’ in Icelandic waters during a ferocious storm. Just one survived. It was a terrible story, worthy of any Icelandic Saga.
More recently, I have written poetry in times of trouble and of joyful times – here are four attached – the first was in the 90’s recession when I was working 60 hrs a week helping to keep the firm afloat. It was a horrible time. The first poem, written in 2000 and called ‘Drudgery’s Redress’ is very metaphysical – that’s me, I am afraid! I love the metaphysical poets of the 17th century, particularly Herbert and Herrick. The last line reflects on a spiritual theme, particularly.
Where should I find the course to drudgery’s redress?
Where lays its warm, clear current, that soothing stream?
If I came upon it would I know its softening gleam?
Would it pass me by, through my busied foolishness?
To lave some other, more discerning soul
Who keeps a vigil for his heartfelt dream?
What hope have I to find that my work’s addressed?
To dream without the nightmares of the toiling hour,
Remorselessly abundant in their nocturnal dower;
To awake from sleep without a tightening breast,
Released from those same dutiful cares
Taken all too heavily to my bower.
Yet within my hectic main do lay brief paradises there;
Unctuous moments hang from boughs too high for casual graze,
Too high for a wearied mind, too high for tired eyes to gaze;
Too sweet, too rich, too brief for a famished heart to bear;
A heart too dulled, without a respite from the turning wheel,
Too numbed and cynically inclined for glories to amaze.
Where is this enigmatic flow that warms the ultimate, distant land?
Where are the trade winds that drive this barque to the favoured shore?
Too often and too long the storms that heap up frantic rush afore,
Obscure the way ahead and sight of longed-for far-off strand;
How long, how much is yet to be endured of this unabating grind?
How deep and how sustaining are the rations left in store?
So where and how do I set my sextant against a lowering sky?
How do I set a course through troubled waters cold and deep?
What unhappy dealings shall I encounter, what fortunes shall I reap?
“Turn to the Chart, you foolish man”, I heard from an unrequested cry,
“Look to the Cartographer’s Marks and tell me what you see”;
Things that make my heart to laugh; more, things that make me weep.
The second, written in 2001 after my father’s death, is entitled ‘the Sweetest Cup’ and is overtly Christian in its character. I make no apology for that. It asks the question in each verse ‘is it relevant to me today or is it just a tale of the past’, and speaks of life and death.
THE SWEETEST CUP
Was it many forgotten centuries past
Or by brighter light of yesterday
That the Fruit of Heaven fell to earth
Clothed in humility resplendent?
Perhaps it was just a few short hours
Since that timeless celestial crimson
Upon the hard and bitter earth was spilt;
Or was it just by history attendant?
Was it just in Age’s wrinkles formed?
Or lately upon fresh moments laid
That a Greater Love than heart can tell
Was rent upon a beam impassioned?
Hangs it like a faded talisman
On the hearth of memory’s parlour?
Or an ever fresh, provoking ikon
Of merciful reproach importuned?
Was it far ago a broken reed was mended
And wounded feet impressed a gritty strand,
Or today an enigmatic voice is calling
To a faith that is broken in despair?
Was it then that festal bread was broken
To reveal a rapture once emboundened,
Or even yet that dark, embittered vision
Can be restored to sweet repair?
Shall it come in time’s untrodden march
That a clarion fanfare shall announce
The passing of our earthbound sleeping?
Or but a moment’s passing unveil the bower;
When at last that sallow, hushed cocoon
Shall loose its gossamer custodial wraith
With wings unfurled in metamorphic blaze
To reach th’ethernal nectar-burdened flower?
Come, my life, with fervour meld together,
In the cauldron of my heart’s outworking,
The deeds of far and near times wrought
By the One Eternal Mind endearing;
Truth of Ages in the cleansing fire
Will render down my meagre harvest
To make the wine of mercy’s vintage;
The sweetest cup of perpetual cheering.
The third and fourth are poems of Springtime. One written in 2002 whiles sat in Golden Park north of Leeds, contemplating the sunlight through early shoots. That is entitled ‘Evocation of Spring’. The last is called ‘Ode to a Daffodil’ and was written in 2011 whilst observing the spears of narcissi pushing their way through barren and frozen soil.
Evocation of Spring
Earth rich bequeathed and sweetly smelling,
The verdant eruption of ground-borne vigour;
An antiphon to lately awakened birdsong
Forms the substance of the promise of Summer.
Low rays of sun glinting through acid yellow,
Happy purple nodding gleefully in icy breezes,
Clear-barked frames adorned with last year’s fatness
Awaiting the vernal-chime of their leafy epiphany.
Glossy green medallions of winter-harboured wisdom
Overseeing the re-birth of mortality’s abundant wheel;
Melancholy russet is subsumed by nature’s bosom,
Easter’s mystery revealed in Winter’s bitter passing.
Not quite in the same class as the poems above but I wrote this in 1995 just before turning 50 in memory of my childhood days spent on holiday in Whitstable. My heaven was Jaques Arcade just off the seafront where I got my fascination for automata. One, in particular, was a gruesome tableau of a man being read the last rites before being hung. It was called ‘The Execution of Crippen’ but my Dad referred to it as ‘The Shaky Book’ because of the way the tiny priest raised and lowered his bible before the trap door opened and the little prisoner was executed.
A Child’s Execution
Do I wish I’d had a camera, back in fifty-three?
Do I wish I’d taken photographs, so now my friends could see?
Copper coins and ice cream cones and leaving brought on tears
The magic then of Jacque’s Arcade to a child of seven years.
“Please spare some pennies for me Dad
But you’ll have to lift me up”
And within the sound of crashing waves
I’d try the “Lucky Cup”
First penny in, a ball drops out, I spin it round and round
Will it win or will it lose, it makes a whooshing sound?
And then it misses “Lucky Cup”, “You’ve lost that one my son”.
A small face drops, Dad puts me down, and my first penny’s gone.
Another in, three wooden balls, I roll them up the track
I’m only small, not yet strong, they just keep rolling back.
Dad shows me how, and with one flick the ball shoots up the slope
There’s sixty on the scoreboard now, but my score? – not a hope.
One penny left, I reach tiptoe and suddenly it’s gone
Lights start to flash, a motor whirrs and father watches son.
An open door, a man is hanged, his final retribution
It’s stayed with me across the years, that fairground execution.
No, that camera wasn’t needed, way back in fifty three
And I didn’t need those photographs so others now could see
Where Jacque’s once stood, they still bowl balls, but of a different kind
The memory stays, I don’t need snaps, they’re safer in my mind.
But fun costs more than pennies now
There’s death and grown-up fears,
And magic’s now in Life’s Arcade
To this child of fifty years.
If you would like to kindly make your contribution for 2018 please click HERE.