Tag Archives: writing

Valentide

Valentide. Part I.

There is a distance. A gulf. Water, water, everywhere…

Uncharted seas treacherous as tyrants clinging to power,

Or familiar shipping lanes, precious days, favourable winds.

We navigate small islands, atolls, pause to watch ancient, mystical whales.

We dive and weave with playful dolphins, float on our backs and listen

To tales of mer-people and sea-monsters and pirate-fleets

As told to us by wise old turtles.

Once we saw a ghost ship – its crew a band of bleached-boned skeletons,

They blasted us with spectral cannonballs

Launched from the rotting boards of their phantom galleon.

We fled those shrieking ghosts and sailed on by,

Sometimes calling on deserted islands of pure and absolute paradise.

It is here, once, I saw your soul. Did you see mine?

Then one night a storm, unbelting itself and lashing us with its wet black leather.

Plunging us below then tossing us in the air – three, four, maybe five times…

Until we sank,

Became separated.

Our lifeboats were poor yet somehow sustained us. And what happened to our crew?

Some deserted us and jumped overboard. Some died. Some remained faithful.

Ultimately it was just you and me. Alone. Alone we drifted. On two different boats no bigger

Than matchsticks in the grand sea of things. Did you think of me as I thought of you?

Parched, sun burnt, salt in our hair and eyes like apocalyptic dust. We survived.

God. How on earth (or rather, on water) when I am such a poor sailor, and your captaincy

Is sometimes questionable?

But survive we did.

And though there was, sometimes still is, and maybe will be for much a long time

An ocean of distance to separate us,

Tides will always bring us together again.





Valentide. Part II.

On a bench somewhere, sometime, not long ago, someone wrote ‘I love you’. It wasn’t me, and it wasn’t you, but we borrowed those words and made them our own for just a moment. On dry land we shake off water and tuck in our fins. Retract our tails. Fold up our sails. Moored. Docked. We traipse the city and village and town, lost among others, surrounded by concrete and stone and things made of metal. They say we look small here. Maybe we do. But to me you will always be a giant. Je t’aime. Words borrowed from a wooden bench that looks out to the sea and back again.



Words and photos by the editor.

Adverts scanned by TVTA and Jaltesorensen.

Boatniks. 1970. Denmark; Moby Dick. Pif Gadget. 1982. France; Playmobil. 1979. Denmark; La Mauny. Geo. 1992. France; Sea-Monkeys. Fix Und Foxi. 1984. Germany; Canon Noir. Pif Gadget. 1979. France; Weird War Tales. 1975. US; Lego. 1989. Denmark.


 

Two poems

1.

Among Us

You told us once about reptiles and amphibians

The symbolism, intent, double-meanings

Their hunger

A prince’s pursed lips, a fairytale wish

You said stay away from forests, castles and New York sewers

Warned us of bacterial bites from Komodo Dragons

To not keep snakes or entertain Bearded Dragons

Are you a witch? We asked

No, you said, but was once poisoned by hand cream and oranges

Contaminated beans on toast and energy drinks

Offered by men and women in alligator skins

Who had power to turn poetry into horror in a single day

You said it made you puke when you read in the news

Of that three-headed, six-legged frog found in a school swimming pool

Would make a great pet, someone said

No, said you, it is us who will make great pets for them

See, how they will try to improve us

Stare into our dark places where we hide our shame and guilty secrets

How they devour our sad stories, our dark fairytales

How they leech on our desires

Don’t. Ever. Trust. Them. Is what you say

Beware of them hiding under stones and rocks

Lurking in the grass or under damp logs

Camouflaged in trees or submerged in bogs

And as for the forests and castles and the New York sewers…

Some fairytales are best put to bed

You told us you used to think exploding frogs

Blown-up by straws was extremely cruel

Now you tell us it’s extremely cool.


2.

A Deadly Stream

Three days and nights of relentless rain

That came in sheets as hard as nails from four directions and a granite sky

Accompanied by that lunatic Mistral which owned the streets and ripped off tiles

Toppled fences and sent wheelie bins spinning like defective Daleks

Wisely, most trees bent the knee to the staggering onslaught

Those more republican were swiftly uprooted

Came crashing down like dissident ogres and defeated giants

Coudon offered up its slopes to the charging water

That rushed from the mountain in anticipation of the sea

A delegation bearing gifts of fag ends, soft drink cans

McDonald’s packaging, palm leaves and plastic bags

An armada of debris and detritus offered to the Med.

 

It was on the news

The campus resembled a lagoon

The stream that parted it no longer visible

She went under at around four O’clock, and he jumped in to save her

Witnesses said both were gone in seconds

Forced through a culvert no bigger than the door of an industrial washing machine

Propelled through the concrete tube built beneath the main road

By town planners who believed that this was the best way to control water

When you wanted cars to travel across it

 

A year passes

Remembrances for the two dead students

The mayor erects fences along both sides of the stream that cuts through the Uni

Commissions signs written in French and English that warn:

DANGER. FLOODPLAIN. RISQUE DE NOYADE

Town planners nod sagely in warm offices

Once again believing they have the measure of water.


Words and photos by the editor

Chapter 29

“Write drunk, edit sober.” Ernest Hemingway.

Of course, many believe that Hemingway never actually said this. It’s more likely that he wouldn’t let anything interfere with his writing, and that includes a hangover. But in the spirit of romance, we surf on those words.

A votre santé!



Spinning. A toy poem. Illustrated.

Love grows in all kinds of places.

They came from love. Bloomed, blossomed, were buds on the trees.

Were butterflies hiking lifts inside bubbles.

Dreaming of skies.

Up in the air they learned the art of conversation.

Learned that communication is chemistry.

Compounds and elements. Dispute. Problem. Discuss. Solve.

They defended rigorously their right to disagree with one another.

And in doing so they discovered accord.

That great union in the sky was lucky.

Not so lucky for some of the creatures down below,

Who are spun, turned.

Spin. It’s your go.

Q1: Does your government have you in a spin?

Where to begin … begin with a word …

A word to the wise from the Masters of Austerity …

“We have your number and your number’s up.”

Spin.

Miss a turn.

Go ahead, go again.

In Britain, the Brexit red bus had them under its wheels.

With smarmy charm it punched their tickets and bid them un mauvais bon voyage.

A one-way ticket to nowheresville.

A carousel spinning in delicious circles.

Taking back control one foul turn at a time.

Hi-jacked flags to march under.

Banners of lies.

What exactly did they vote for?

The safe return of their country,

The migrants to go home,

Hospital wards to close,

Beds emptied of broken souls,

Staff worked to the bone,

Emergency services stretched to the limit of their resources,

And all they can endure both morally and physically? 

And all along European people employed as bargaining chips.

Home and abroad. Pawns.

Spin.

Spin.

Shake the dice.

The Masters of Austerity will have you shaking with rage.

Shake, as will the ground beneath your feet when they finally get round to fracking you.

Won’t matter one bit if you own your land… you’ll be fracked right under your house.

That is, those who can afford to live in houses in austerity Britain.

Then ablaze!

Tower blocks that go up in flames,

Because of savage cuts and the corners cut and the wicked decline in the treatment of

the poor?

Grenfell Tower,

A giant aflame,

Austerity framed by dawn’s breaking sky,

Witnessed from Smartphones, TV screens,

And the windows of neighbouring luxury flats.

A hollow stare aimed at the poor.

Austerity Masters squeal their mantras.

Pigs with snouts red raw from scraping too many troughs for far too long.

Orwell said some animals are more equal than others.

Enough to make you sick.

Put you in a spin.

There are doctors for that but not the doctors you need.

Your turn.

Question number 2:

Does your media have you in a spin?

With their spinning tops that spin,

Whirl and twirl, spin and spin,

Engineered by sinister hands conducting in the shadows.

Spin, spin, spin.

It’s all a game they don’t want you to win.

 

A game.

An illusion.

Start again.

And in the small print of the rules it says:

“The only thing spinning worthy of attention is the globe we call our home.

And you are not the only one to call it such.”

Your go.

Your spin.

Spin again.

And spin, spin, spin.

 


Words by the editor.

Images taken from scans made by TVTA and Jaltesorensen.

Publications: Pif Gadget. Anders And & Co. Pato Donald. Christie’s Catalogue. Hamleys Catalogue. Topolino. Bécassine. Star Wars. Doctor Who. 2000 AD.

Grenfell Tower image by Natalie Oxford – https://twitter.com/Natalie_Oxford/status/874835244989513729/photo/1, CC BY 4.0, Link

Updated Feb 2018 to correct spelling error.

‘Is not the deprivation of liberty the deepest, severest of injuries?’… the lost poem of Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley. Portrait by Alfred Clint.

Percy Bysshe Shelley. Portrait by Alfred Clint.

The Bodleian Library has just acquired its 12 millionth book. Written by the romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and printed in 1811 under the alias of “a gentleman of the University of Oxford”, the Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things is a 172-line poem written in support of the Irish journalist Peter Finnerty who was jailed for libelling a politician. The ‘lost’ poem was discovered in 2006 and has now been acquired by the Bodleian library which has created a full digital copy available free to the public to read. See the link above.

Shelley-Essay-1

What may strike you when you read this poem is how little things have changed since the time of Shelley’s sentiments. The pointlessness and brutality of war, the oppression of the poor at the hands of the rich and priviliged, issues surrounding freedom of the press – themes as relevant today as they were back in the 19th century to Shelley.

I would like to say a big thanks to Shelley! Thank you for speaking up back then. You didn’t have to do this, but you found somewhere inside your spirit the voice to call out injustice and inhumanity. It’s a depressing realisation that little has changed for the better across two-hundred years, but I do draw some comfort that there will always be others like Shelley – and not necessarily just the poets or artists or actors or musician, but those who will continue to call out the corrupt politicians and rulers who consistantly try to prove to us that humanity must always come second to greed.

Note to the ruling class: you with palms greasy from money, or bloody from the sales of arms, many of us can see through your lies, and the petal-thin fabric of all your false charms.

Note to the poets, artists, actors and musicians and anyone with an amplified voice: please continue to speak out against social injustice. You are placed in unique positions, and people will listen.