Poem of the North

A brilliant idea – take a bunch of poems about the North, and weave them into a magic carpet -then invent a new verse form on the way.
I’m proud to be a part of it – and you can watch the magic carpet unfold here:

 

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20 aphorisms for a disruptive world

Francois de Rochefoucauld  (1613-1680) wrote a book of aphorisms – one liners,which explored the difference between what people say, and what they mean. His tone is sardonic, dissecting the hypocrisies of his time.

I have tried to follow in his footsteps.

Philosophy

1.The needs of the one are always more important than the needs of the many.

2.Yesterday can teach us nothing, neither can tomorrow.

3.We have forced our children into early adulthood, while we return to infancy ourselves.

4.True wisdom comes from the realisation there is no wisdom to be found.

5.Free from the shackles of organised religion, we have nowhere to go.

Sex

6.Sex is just a phase.

7.Those who look for “emotional moments” are themselves incapable of true emotion.

8.We have never been so open about sexuality as we are now, or so closed against the knowledge of death.

9.Of all sexual choices, straight is the most beige.

10.Attraction

                  Passion

                             Conception

                                               Deception

                                                               Revulsion

                                                                              Separation

                                                                                              Resignation

 

Cyclists

11.All cyclists are saints. They are saving the planet.

12.They have right of way everywhere, apart from cycle lanes.

13.A cyclist may use their phone,take their hands off the handlebars,eat a tub of yoghourt, or read a book while travelling.

          Car drivers may do none of these.

Internet.

14.Selfies reassure us we are  still alive.

15.Airbrushed into anonymity, our faces mask what we try to reveal.

16.The wider our network of contacts, the more we are convinced that we are missing something.

17.Through Instagram, we have outsourced our memories.

18.Everything on Twitter  is true. But only for one day.

19.We can communicate with anyone on the planet, but many of us have forgotten the use of a pen.

20.Incapable of expressing our feelings in words, we use…..imogees.

     

   

King’s Square York

The square is transient space
where every hour
a thousand purposes
collide and split away.

Yet some moments linger,
hover in shifting light
among the trees,
settle in the pavement cracks.

That weeping ash
taller than rooftops
grew from graves,
its slow roots stabbing down
between the tombstones,
piercing eye sockets and yellowed bones,
and sucking nourishment from
the clammy loam

Grave yards beg a church
and one stood here,
where tourists take selfies, lick ice creams
and children stamp their feet
to scare the birds.

Crammed between the slaughtering yards,
the butchers’ shops and narrow alleyways
an ungainly barn, all awkward angles,
a stumpy tower.

The church of Christ the King

a place to mark time

the saints in their proper seasons:
Advent, Christmas, Lent and Corpus Christi
each celebrated with prayer and candles
and ashes on good Friday.

And sinners had their moment too
where every day was different
and every day the same

sprinkling at the font
rings before the altar
corpses by an open grave.

All kept in proper fashion
and all this for eight hundred years.

Now jugglers mark their sacred space with rope
where blood and incense once hung in the air
and where our forbears bowed their heads in prayer
a bunch of skinny kids are smoking dope.

A supermarket trolley speaks

 

I’m piled high with concentrated sunshine
fresh leaves, and dehydrated blossom
ready to unfurl.
Just add spring water.

Filled with early morning goodness
each pack contains:
fox barks, blackbird song,
the stately flap of herons’ wings,
the muttering of ducks,

provides the five good things you need
to fortify your soul
and more.

As for me –
who’s going to return me to the store ?

Want to know more ? Click here

 

That Awkward Second Album

Well, I’m a published  poet …..thanks to Valley Press …..I’ve had the launch….and I’m  only 16,893  in the Amazon poetry charts…not that I check them every morning…perish the thought.  I’ve got my name on the front of a book and I’ve had some great reviews as well. The question is:

What happens now ?

Do I sit around waiting for an email of congratulation from Carol Ann or Andy Motion, or maybe  a jokey tweet from Si Armitage ? Of course not. I spend a week worrying that I might never write a decent poem again. I’m too old… .It was a fluke, an accident.  It’s time to take up knitting, or collecting bus numbers.

And then I dare to look at the poems which didn’t quite make it into the final selection. Hmm… that one’s not too bad… needs tweaking, though. I move on. and discover  why those poems I wrote ten years ago  had been rejected, on average, eleven times. Delete them ? …taking up too much disc space ? Ye…NO…a couple of lines here stand up…keep them and cannibalise the  best later.

It’s not proper writing, of course. I’m not  ready for that yet. It’s just stripping out a line here, a metaphor there….a tiny glimmer in the dark. While I’m doing this, an idea the size of a small mouse is scratching away in a corner of my mind., What about…eek ..eek…you could try it, honestly…just jot down a line or two…fountain pen’s empty…the  Parker isn’t…it’s loaded and ready to go…you like writing with the Parker…you know you want to…..

So I do.

Quantum Theory for Cats

The Lake In Winter

I always end up writing about the lake – I don’t know why. It’s only a minute from my front door – so perhaps it’s the easy access which makes me choose that dog-walking route rather than any other. And I always have something to write about.

The lake is constantly changing – for the last ten days it has had a crust of ice on it – sometimes three or four inches thick, sometimes transparent as cellophane

This is a diary poem – a marker for something I saw, which I don’t want to forget.

Lake – January 2018

Light leaks into the air;
clouds take their substance
from the the morning twilight.

The stripped trees hold
magpies  sneering,
clattering their wings.

The grass is blanched with frost,
puddles splintered glass
and the lake alive
with shifting rafts of ice

where a swan struggles

snake neck stretched,
webs strive for grip
as white wings thrash the water,
till it lifts, makes the air
sing with every wingbeat.

 

“Quantum Theory for Cats” available here

Shortest day of the year

The shortest day of the year – grey, damp and forgettable. Digby the dog and I are standing, looking out across the lake. It’s shaped like a kidney bean, half a mile or so round, and fringed with trees and bushes, with a stretch of rough woodland along one side. And it is entirely artificial, created as an open space when all the surrounding houses were built in the seventies and eighties. Except today the lake has gone. Usually you can look out and see the geese and the magpies and the line of trees across the far end. But this morning there is nothing – just a blanket of soft mist covering the water. We set off on our usual circuit, the world on our left and the gently shifting emptiness on our right. The mist is moving, coiling, reaching out towards the bank, then curling away, like water starting to boil. For a moment it draws back and I see a fleet of Canada geese, silent, still, like a fleet of Nelsonian men o’war at anchor.

The mist is gathering together – a muffled drumbeat getting louder and faster as I listen. A swan bursts. out of the mist, white wings wiffling through the air, webs plashing the water, lifting into the swirling mist and out of sight.

Thanks. and Christmas wishes  to all those who have followed me over the last year.

If you’re looking for a New Year Present for someone…or even yourself…look no further…”Quantum Theory for cats is available ” here:

http://valleypressuk.com

 

Quantum Theory for Cats1; Launch

” Quantum Theory for Cats” was launched at York Waterstones on Friday. I was a bit apprehensive, not having been launched before, but it was great fun. I did a turn ( an intro  and then half a dozen poems,) then Jamie and I did a general chat, followed by questions. The audience. were lovely, we had a great time – and there were BISCUITS too. My son Alasdair kindly provided us with promotional biscuits – see below

If you want to buy the book – sorry, we can’t include the bickies- all eaten

You can do so here http://www.valleypressuk.com

If you really really want the bickies- you can do do here by clicking here:

http://@MotherfudgerUK

Thanks to Alasdair and Marguerite, Mutherfudger, Waterstones staff, and Valley Press

Bus Pass

bus_connections_ride_268304

A passport to purgatory
with no request stops
and one final destination.

Blank eyed, killer cold,
I look just like some shifty cove
of interest to the police-
a drug baron or someone who
does dreadful things to cats.

I place my effigy face down,
wait for the electronic ping
which says I am still me,
then find a seat.

The bus, packed full
as a milkman’s crate
with silver tops,
is loud with chat.

“These car wash people are all Russian”
“They’ll soon get finished then.”
“Isn’t it funny – you often find
something you haven’t lost.”

Museum Street. The conversation’s stilled.
We shuffle off, take up our own affairs –
optician, dentist, hospital for tests-
all necessary measures for survival.
That way we can eke out a few more years
but still

the journey matters more than the arrival.