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    • Lesser Known Philosophers.
      Much of the wisdom in this poem was heard nearly fifty years ago, over many sessions  in an isolated village pub,  in the north of Suffolk.   All the wise men quoted are no longer with us. PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM   Some taste wisdom in another tongue digesting […]
    • Who Am I Today?
      If you have not yet reached the need for the  morning ritual described in this poem, know that you have it to look forward to.     PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM     Is it the aging husband with enlarged prostate? The asbestos handler with pleural plaque? The […]
    • Corvus corone corone
      This was written last Summer for a competition,  for a gallery displaying art involving the subject ‘Crows’. Nothing was heard, so I suspect, at best, its still on the wing!   PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM   I see you Crow. I watch your studied nonchalance. Your oil drip […]
    • Morning breeze
      This Haiku came very quickly to me this morning, as I watched the bamboo outside my bedroom window.       Invasion outside – the breeze trembles bamboo leaves like swarming locusts.  
    • Lymphoma
      The cancer is found and identified, the hunt is on! PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM     I do not want to hear about ’The Journey’. I am not going anywhere there is no energy. This is a murderous hunt within myself. I sat for the harpoon tiny and […]
    • Equivalence
      This poem was written whilst on a river trip from Amsterdam to Budapest in May 2017, whilst I was awaiting the results of a biopsy to determine what sort of cancer I had. PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM     Here in Bamberg we are buying history grateful that […]
    • Questing
      I am a strong believer in renewable energy, but it’s not a free lunch.  Significant amounts of energy has to be used to change quartz sand to silicon.   Silane gas produced during the manufacturing process is extremely explosive, and explosions occur.  Another risk is that we currently have no safety masks that can prevent […]
    • Blyth Estuary Evening
      There is a wonderful walk along the line of the old narrow gauge railwayline to Southwold, where it runs alongside the Blyth estuary.  I led a walk for a group of poets there this year, and this was one of the poems that I read on the walk.  We had a very enjoyable workshop after […]
    • As The Light Changes
      The East Anglian Daily Times ran an article entitled ’22 beautiful poems about East Anglia’ in their Saturday magazine insert on March 18th this year. I was very pleased to see this poem of mine on the same page as poems by Sir Walter Raleigh and George Szirtes. TO HEAR THIS POEM PLEASE CLICK ON […]
    • The Last Word
      By way of a change, here is a short piece of prose: In a writers’ group this morning we were challenged to write a short story in 150 words.  The story below contains exactly that number.   The light was starting to fade, and breaking soft waves seemed even quieter.  He stopped collecting pebbles and […]

Lesser Known Philosophers.

Much of the wisdom in this poem was heard nearly fifty years ago, over many sessions  in an isolated village pub,  in the north of Suffolk.   All the wise men quoted are no longer with us.

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Some taste wisdom in another tongue

digesting Descartes ‘Cogito ergo sum’*

or  Nietzsche’s more demeaning fear

‘Der Mensch ist der grausame Tier’.**

 

In my Autumn, on this warm December day

I recall the prophetic words of ‘Pig Cheese’

that caused the lowering of pints from lips.

‘Green Christmas—Fat Churchyard’

 

Ernie knew the complexity of existence

defiantly roaring of this endless riddle

along  village roads he was paid to sweep

‘It’s not just two sides, there’s the middle’.

 

I have mapped that construct in my life

merged it with Bert’s repeated advice,

for use when dealing with anything weak,

‘Bend it bear — crack it break.’

 

But the key to existential trauma

was heard in ‘Tiddlers’ reactive  mantra:

‘It stand where I left it—do it don’t it did’.

Ephemeral  reality, succinctly stated.

 

 

 

I think, therefore I am

**Man is the cruellest animal

 

 

Who Am I Today?

If you have not yet reached the need for the  morning ritual described in this poem, know that you have it to look forward to.

 

 

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Is it the aging husband with enlarged prostate?

The asbestos handler with pleural plaque?

The retired runner with calcified  cartilage

and  the mysterious cyst, discovered late?

Let’s leave the bed and check  our state.

 

Swing the legs out, assume the vertical

Slow, slowly, rise and test your condition.

Is vision clear, no blur?  No moving dots?

Always check sight before being physical.

You need to see where you might fall.

 

Now rise, the resurrection, assume control.

Blood creeps to muscles, preventing cramp.

Any new aches that the shower wont soothe?

Can you feel the floor beneath each sole?

Start moving now — you’re on a roll.

 

Knees  feel weak, you assumed too much,

the left knee creaks and the right knee locks.

Crookedly weaving from bed to shower

Seeking the heat of the water’s crutch

that unlocks knots, an essential touch.

 

Upright now. You assume you are ready

to briskly towel without loss of balance.

More confident now and moving easy

one foot in your underpants, are you steady?

No, you’re on one leg, and wobbling madly.

 

You feel the knee fail, 

                                    you’re the ancient runner!

 

 

Corvus corone corone

This was written last Summer for a competition,  for a gallery displaying art involving the subject ‘Crows’.

Nothing was heard, so I suspect, at best, its still on the wing!

 

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I see you Crow.

I watch your studied nonchalance.

Your oil drip eye gives nothing back

green gleam on midnight feathers

steals surrounding light.

 

I know you Crow.

The trickster who can count

 gifted master of the false feint

when paired and stealing food

from the unsuspecting.

 

I hear you Crow.

Not for you the Rook’s ‘Caw’

but a raucous shout for meat

with your ‘Pawk  Pawk’

and your butcher’s beak.

 

I fear you Crow.

I feel your dark slow strut

feather ancient memory of the hunt,

the unknown made  gravid

by the eater of the dead.

 

Morning breeze

This Haiku came very quickly to me this morning, as I watched the bamboo outside my bedroom window.

 

 

 

Invasion outside –

the breeze trembles bamboo leaves

like swarming locusts.

 

Lymphoma

The cancer is found and identified, the hunt is on!

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I do not want to hear about

’The Journey’.

I am not

going anywhere

there is no energy.

This is a murderous hunt

within myself.

I sat for the harpoon

tiny and ominous

dripping five poisons

slowly

into the prey’s tracks.

A wild hunt in the blood

targeted lancing

tearing the intruder

persistently, exhaustively.

I am hunter and hunted

chasing a traitor

through my veins.

Strength stolen

by sustained attacks

within.

Soothing recovery

until

the next ambush.

 

Equivalence

This poem was written whilst on a river trip from Amsterdam to Budapest in May 2017, whilst I was awaiting the results of a biopsy to determine what sort of cancer I had.

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Here in Bamberg we are buying history

grateful that no symptoms show

the guides are lancing our ears with dates

the biopsy scab no longer itches.

 

We have come to look back in time

ignore the irony of mortality.

The Old Town Hall from 1386

me from 1944.

 

The Rathaus splits the surging  Regnitz river

I feel nothing of my rogue dividing cells

six hundred and thirty one years of division

my abnormality’s age unknown.

 

A light tap on my leg,  a flying jewel –

Cockchafer! I move it to my hand

where its stays for several minutes

a significant part of its existence.

 

Cetonia aeruginosa larvae live in wood-mould

high in the crowns of ancient oak trees

metamorphosing in May to final grandeur

 bringing me  a gift, the sense of equivalence

 

 

Questing

I am a strong believer in renewable energy, but it’s not a free lunch.  Significant amounts of energy has to be used to change quartz sand to silicon.   Silane gas produced during the manufacturing process is extremely explosive, and explosions occur.  Another risk is that we currently have no safety masks that can prevent all silicon dust particles, called Kerf,  passing through to the wearers lungs.  To clean the reactors producing silicon, sulphur hexafluoride is used, a gas which is 28,000 times more climate warming than CO2.

We are almost able to produce the battery quality we need to store solar energy, but for these we need Lithium, at present we use energy to produce this from rocks that have been in marine contact, but research is moving towards removing this direct from seawater using dialysis.

It has all the overtones of medieval alchemy, a  mystic quest!

Hazard suit

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Soon we shall all be Gods —

so quickly since we left the trees.

Our grail is to reap the Sun’s rage,

the wind’s whistle, the sea’s surge.

 

First,  we must gather the desert,

burn  its grains  beyond  their being.

Pure, purest silicon,  to be cast as wafers

 we can tailor for our ravenous needs.

 

But beware of Kerf, the dust that kills,

avoid Silane’s spontaneous  blasts.

Cleanse with Hexafluoride of Sulphur,

malodorous fumes that heat the Earth.

 

‘Here be Dragons’ in unknown frontier,

and when we toil to bank the light

the task darkens with lightest Lithium,

 for we must boil the sea to drive it out.

 

Sly Lithium is the reactive lurker,

never found alone, it thinly smears

saline surfaces or the face of rocks,

which we have recently learnt to loot.

 

We conjure blindly in this  mythic world

confidently forging  our solar snares

gathering our star’s furious death throes

to bind them in dungeons of Lithium-ion.

 

 

Blyth Estuary Evening

There is a wonderful walk along the line of the old narrow gauge railwayline to Southwold, where it runs alongside the Blyth estuary.  I led a walk for a group of poets there this year, and this was one of the poems that I read on the walk.  We had a very enjoyable workshop after lunch, which produced some good writing.

Marsh Harrier hunting – image by courtesy of RSPB

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Subtle change at early evening

a sly breeze rides with the tide

rustling through the reed bed

like gossips spreading scandal.

Butter-light softens leaden mud

polishing the foam-flecked edging.

Probing bills quit before the creep

as brackish water reclaims its land.

 

Slowly rising from wizened willows

a young Marsh Harrier tries a sortie

along the reed lined drainage channel

to tease a Bittern  guarding the edge

until the sentry’s bayonet thrusts.

Recalling  hunger the Harrier lifts

float-flapping over quivering heads

scattering silence in its it shadow.

 

On the water meadow’s mist-quilt

taut grey stillness briefly erupts

 a Hanser spears a careless  Jakie –

double head-jerks a beak-full of legs

then ambles forward like a tired cleric .

Slowly rising water weeps at the bank

where Water Voles once made holes

and foraged gently in the foliage.

 

 

Two Suffolk dialect words in this poem:

‘Hanser’ is a Heron, and ‘Jakie’ is a Frog.

 

 

As The Light Changes

The East Anglian Daily Times ran an article entitled ’22 beautiful poems about East Anglia’ in their Saturday magazine insert on March 18th this year.

I was very pleased to see this poem of mine on the same page as poems by Sir Walter Raleigh and George Szirtes.

TO HEAR THIS POEM PLEASE CLICK ON THE START ABOVE.

 

Spring’s subtle mechanisms unwind dormancy

tipping earth’s spin towards our  blazing star

shortening division between long night and light.

Magnetic North guides migrants from the South,

 feathers aligned to the field’s guiding force,

numberless nomads, riding favoured winds

 urgently carrying their awaited gift of song,

as Robins re-tune winter belling into ballad.

 

Stark Blackthorn blooms in earthbound clouds,

 Primroses light the gloominess of ditches

drawing bumble bees from solemn hibernation.

Not to be outdone bracken  flexes green croziers,

 whilst coconut scent of Gorse jokes of the tropics

and tattered Peacock Butterflies briefly are exotic.

Revived life is boisterous;   survival is selfish:

Wood Anemones retreat from advancing Bluebells

aggressive Alexanders dominate the field’s edge

creeping Comfrey overwhelms small shy Violets,

when warming quickens the slowest will submerge.

 

Frantic actions seek to sate  primed genetic urges;

Drakes gang rape Ducks around the village pond,

polygamists  Dunnocks  gather on the ground,

 buck Hares rear to box and Snipe dive to drum.

Above forest tracks roding Woodcock  weave and croak.

Frogs writhe, legs thrust, a frenzied  annual  tango .

Then Nightingales arrive, the thicket heart’s soloists,

whilst Silver Birch resurrect with fast flowing sap.

Leaves stretch for Sun, but  the  Oaks  seem  to sulk

as if the Spring’s warmth deliberately annoys  them.

Like the Oak I am locked in my own slow Autumn,

 a  long  life,  multi-ringed by  seasons of maturing,

 time envious of beginnings stirring all around me.

 

 

 

The Last Word

By way of a change, here is a short piece of prose:

In a writers’ group this morning we were challenged to write a short story in 150 words.  The story below contains exactly that number.

The beach at dusk, photo by me.

 

The light was starting to fade, and breaking soft waves seemed even quieter.  He stopped collecting pebbles and watched everything beginning to merge, the best time of the day, when eternity was almost a presence, and we were reminded of our brevity.

He was at ease now with time, he had enjoyed its accelerating experience, seemingly ever faster with each decade, but now parts of his body were in denial of their function and the ride was very rough, even on the bystanders.

Enough stones, the E was finished, and the full stop was his wallet.

The wavelets whispered over his shoes, he paused and smiled, thinking, ‘Roger would have called this susurration’, then continued his slow walk. The cold touch at his groin ironically reminded him of the warmth of his long marriage, and strengthened his resolve.

They found his wallet, and the pebbles, spelling out his last word.

Moving Hands

How many things that  seemed eternal early in life, have completely vanished?  

clock-large

The old Boby clock in its new place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sometime in the nineteen-fifties

it perched on the hundred-foot workshop,

 where Waitrose’s  entrance is now.

It would pace the working lives of hundreds.

First as boys, learning to master metal or wood,

then as craftsmen, badged by two-foot folding rules

hung from their boiler suit’s  leg-pocket.

 

Eager eyes had watched those hands move

to signal work’s end and start the stampede.

Earnings lost by a slow morning’s start

signalled by that cruel red hand, 

already primly past the hour.

Robert Boby’s respected works

crouched in the centre of Bury St Edmunds,

 its beating heart that Ferranti clock.

It ticked through the fifties as  slick machines

were made for cleaning all sorts of seeds,

 hands circled ceaselessly during the sixties,

pacing  the build of equipment for malting,

mechanical handling and heavy engineering.

 

A sudden seizure in seventy-one!

The plug was pulled, the hands stopped,

two hundred and seventy lost their places.

The dial’s hands registered dormancy.

. 

As the site was levelled in seventy-eight

I paid a fiver for that redundant clock.

it hangs outside, on our Annex wall.

As I write, I watch the red  hand race,

sweeping away my limited time.

 

Boby's works in the 1950's

Boby’s works just before closure

bobys1953

Boby’s works in the 1950’s above. Both images from St Edmundsbury website ‘Chronicle 2000’

 

You know you are worth it

I wrote this poem in mid November this year, then my e-mail inbox started to fill with ‘Pre-Black Friday’ offers, then ‘Black Friday’ offers,

followed later by ‘Post Black Friday’ offers, and now I am seeing ‘Black Friday repeat offers’!  Reality has overtaken imagination.

 

smoking

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Due to the delirium of Brexit and Triumph of Trump

it has been decided — by neo-liberal decree,

to extend the ecstatic  frenzy of ‘Black Friday’

to the nihilistic nirvana  of ‘Black December’.

But ‘Black’ will  now re-energise as ‘Smoking’

as in HOT and GUN,

to target the receptive participants.

 

So ‘Smoking December’ is about to engulf you,

those of you able to fan the flames of credit.

Don’t delay, Christmas started in October,

 in America already the Klan are singing,

listen, can’t you hear  them keening —

“I’m dreaming of a White Supremacy”.

 

Whilst here at home, the gift of choice

is Empire Cake, to eat and have forever.

Take the new approach to Christmas  lunch

make no plans , somewhere, someone will feed us.

Don’t forget to lie about the value of your gifts

who will miss truth in an avalanche of lies.

 

Ignore anyone who chokes on the smoke

only the healthy can enjoy commercial luxury

This is YOUR time, you have its measure.

Thrust  aside all seasonal supplicants

and don’t let poverty cool your ardour —

pleasure yourself  — in ‘Smoking December’

 

Poems for a portrait

I agreed to sit as the model again this morning for an art group producing portraits.  We had a cultural exchange as at the end of the two sessions as I recited the Haikus composed in my head during the forty minutes of the sitting.  I then exchanged a book of my poetry for the excellent sketch of me shown below, by Wil Harvey.      Barter in the art world!

Sketch by Will Harvey

Sketch by Wil Harvey

 

 

1st Haiku

Can that intense gaze

engage your eager fingers

with the sitter’s soul.

 

 

2nd Haiku

Nine-tenths is looking

then a decisive bold stroke

reproduces life.

Last Orders

This poem won a ‘Commended’ award in the recent 2016 George Crabbe Poetry Competition.  The competition judge, Moniza Alvi, wrote of ‘Last Orders’ “Tragic and hard hitting, I found this poignant poem compelling.”  ” This is a poem with a real sense of urgency”.

beer-pumpbeer-pumpbeer-pump

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Every night at seven, he shed the family skin

took off the shirt he had worn one day

washed at the kitchen sink in his vest,

the clean shirt ironed and waiting.

Not once or twice a week, but every night

he took his pristine presence to the pub

to buy and sell, or swell to sycophants,

his fat wallet earning him  a throne.

 

He never knew his family’s evening life

wife and children watched his every exit,

 the woman waited his return, alone.

He was never the worse for drink, nor better.

Sometimes he cooked a lonely midnight meal,

a selfish extension to solitary pleasures,

a skill he rarely used when the sun was up,

always curt on the creed of  ‘wife’s duties’.

 

I map my childhood by the pubs he used:

first the Shepherd and Dog in Sicklesmere Road

where he left me one night in the car for hours.

The Rutland Arms, The Rushbrooke Arms,

The Coach and Horses, where he charged me

the cost of his petrol to drive my friend home.

 ‘The Moody’ at Hawstead, where I cycled

and was told never to seek him there again.

 

That was his last order, I took him at his word.

Memories are names of public houses.

 

Irony

During a few days in Liverpool we visited Crosby Beach, to see the Antony Gormley sculptures arranged as  ‘Another Place’.  Two friends had been examining the work, and turned to walk off the beach.  I took the photograph below, and the poem was written after I examined the image, using an  element of artistic license.

Communing

‘Communing’ –  photo by Ivor Murrell

 

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Ankled in a  pool  on Crosby  sands

the rough cast, sea scoured, figure

horizon gazes longingly

for all who left  or are arriving.

 

Secured around the wrist — a lock

a late addition of a lover’s token

keyless  plea for a permanence

as endless as the iron stare.

 

Two mould cast pour points

be-medal  the artist’s  chest

whilst genitals  rest at ease

buttocks mark eternal tension

 

Oblivious to this crafted longing

two men pass, heads down,

muffled, deep in  conversation

concentrating on every step.

 

'Another Place' photo by Jean Murrell

‘Another Place’ –  photo by Jean Murrell     CLICK ON THIS IMAGE  TO ENLARGE IT

 

Illuminating Longing

Here is a shared experience from the night of the full ‘Strawberry  Moon’ on June 20th.  A warm evening after a wet morning promised the sight of Nightjars hunting, and the moon was a bonus,

Full moon rising over the heath. My photo.

Full moon rising over the heath. My photo.

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The mist quilt  slips across the sodden heath

thickening at waist height in the cooling air.

Crepuscular  flyers land, unseen, then chirr.

Released from trees, the pink  rimmed moon

escapes the honeysuckle’s sweet embrace

as the longest day softly turns  its face.

 

Glistening  black slugs  feast safely on the grass

gaping Nightjar mouths only hunt emerging moths

incessantly and urgently, like seekers after truth.

We stand, elated statues, in their noiseless swirl.

Mystery is the sound of wing flap and chirring

Mood is the touch of the soft Moon’s lighting.

 

Reverie is shattered by unexpected harshness

Muntjac’s  distant barking shatters our cloister,

cuts through moving wisps draping drab heather

challenging our presence in the looming  darkness.

We leave towards the Moon as chirring diminishes,

a strange sense of longing gradually eases.

 

On Dunwich Beach  yearning returned.

Selene beamed down on layered shining clouds

lighting a pathway on the sea’s rippling road

right to our feet at the whispering surf’s  edge.

Transfixed by a  longing to walk  that invitation

but blocked at the border of  endless susurration.

 

Moonlight on water can illuminate our longings

intangible reflections  with no connection to meaning.

 

Full moon over the sea, June 20th. My photo

Full moon over the sea, June 20th. My photo

 

 

Soon the Longing can begin

Two days after the referendum, and still dazed by the result.

Ballot

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Soon the longing can begin,

but the awareness of our loss

will take longer for all to own.

Already the Young feel despair

for they were closer to hope

than the wrinkled, palsied hands

that signed away their future.

‘Another vote’ some already shout,

we only meant it as a protest.

Read the full post »

Deleting Footnotes

This poem recently was selected by Helen Ivory for appearance in the poetry webzine  ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears‘, it also appeared the the Suffolk Poetry Society’s magazine ‘Twelve Rivers’.

keys

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You can never prepare for this task.

It demands no passion in the wrecking,

just obliterating  all signals of existence

throughout your dead parents house.

  Read the full post »

Entrance

helmet

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He glides the Hog to the sidewalk,

blips the throttle then kills the big twin cam

but not cleanly, the rig shakes twice with pre-ignition.

Shit!  –  He hates when that happens, it spoils an entrance.

  Read the full post »

In its defence

I was asked today to write about a hat!

mantis

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The good thing is that it travels well.

It has little style

only patterned stitch work

marks its drab coarse surface.

Khaki cover for a nascent bald patch,

a guard against the mid-day sun.

Refuge and launch pad

for a Kalahari praying mantis,

shade for massive  locusts in Panama,

then offering minimal protection

in a Venezuelan downpour,

                               — but it travels well

                                                 and has been so far

that it always makes the case.

cricket-in-Venezuela

locusts