Poetry Readathon #robbiecheadle

Robbie Cheadle kindly invited me to be part of her Poetry Readathon. In it I share two poems I wrote early in my poetry writing career one of which I updated and read at my daughter’s wedding this August. Please go and visit her blog and enjoy her wit and talent and maybe my poems!

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The Wisdom Of Carp #writephoto

The Wisdom Of Carp

The Sage of Upyaws lowered himself onto his fishing stool and sighed a tired sigh. Another beautiful day, a glorious view, a lake full of willing carp.. He sighed again and picked up the Tupperware box, unclipping the lid and peering inside. Egg and cress. Could be worse. Ham and tomato was worse but not as bad as tuna and cucumber. That was the pits. Not the sort of fayre a Sage should be offered.

‘Hello?’

Christ, not already? He looked at his watch. Two minutes past nine. ‘Bit bloody early.’

‘I’m sorry?’

‘To be badgering me. Most of you buggers wait until half past.’

‘I really am sorry but what are you talking about.’

The Sage dragged his rheumy gaze away from the mellifluous cloud formations and peered at his interrogator. He fitted the mold: neat hair, ironed shirt, clean jeans, super keen expression, one of those ridiculous Male scents. ‘You’ll be wanting my thoughts.’

‘Well,’ the young man shifted his weight and the Sage wondered if he was about to break into a dance – there was that couple from Whitstable who’d paid homage with a really unnecessarily over-vigorous foxtrot; she was pretty good but he looked like he was in the process of passing a hedgehog, ‘that’s a very generous offer.’

‘Yeah tell me about it.’ He stretched his back. ‘I blame the Bugle. They said I did it for the love of it. Sods.’

The young man did his best to look interested, but couldn’t stifle a yawn.

The Sage noticed things like that, evidence of a lack of respect. ‘Oh that’s lovely. You come here, disturb my peace and then yawn like I’m the one who’s boring. Well thank you but if you think I’m going to help you…’

The young man shook his head like a small sliver of brain was caught up in the wiring and its presence made thinking incoherently unnecessarily difficult. ‘I’m here to help you.’

‘You!? Help me!.? Oh that’s rich.’ He peered more closely. The man looked like he was a trainee undertaker. ‘So come on. What’s your best shot? This’ll be peachy.’ He waved vaguely at the gymnastic confusion that was the cloud bank. ‘Where do you get your insights, then? Probiotic moss? Avocado infused leylines? Some fancy new age bollocks, I’ll be bound.’

If the aggression surprised the young man – and the way he swayed like he was a badly tethered goat in a typhoon indicated that might be the case – he rallied impressively. He opened his man-bag and extracted a dog-eared pamphlet. ‘From here, if you must know.’

The Sage squinted at the flimsy booklet and scoffed. ‘Oh don’t tell me, you’re a Worthy, are you? It’s all doing good works and giving them the promise of tea and slippers if they chant some pseudo-baloney thrice weekly and pay the stipend. Charlatans, the lot of you.’

The young man felt any sense of his being the good guy here was fast slipping away. His instinct was to calm this gibbering fisherperson and in the spirit of trying to do just that he put a hand on the man’s shoulder.

The Sage could barely credit what was happening. If this young shaver had read the Article in the Bugle – and every one must have by now, the Sage was certain – he’d know that you didn’t touch him. He’d made that clear. It confused and drained him, being manhandled by those seeking insights and solace for the Wisest of the Wise. Him. He focused all his energy on His Righteous Ire but in doing so he stood up too quickly, lost his footing and slipped down the bank into the shallows of the lake. Now he was a foot or two below the cretin, this mock-seer, this charlatan and it made him feel like he’d lost both the real and moral high ground.

The youngster raised his hands, palms down, his intention being to pacify the patently rising fury of the damp muddy aggressor but due to the differential height the gesture was more redolent of religious leader blessing the devout.

The Sage took a deep breath. ‘I have come to this sodding lake for twenty-seven years to fish. For the last twenty-five it has been my privilege to share my years of wisdom with whoever decides to join me. I’ve made people fortunes, saved lives, repaired damaged relationships, cured the world’s malaises, all through the power of my insights. And then you turn up, all M&S chinos and a splash of Simper by Tommy Hilfigier and try and usurp me. How bloody dare you? How could you?’ He was nearly in tears.

The man felt awful. He took a step forward but all that did was cause the Sage to jump back and fall over into the water again. He looked defeated. ‘I’m sorry but I only wanted to let you know that the lake’s owners have decided you need a licence to fish and I wanted to make sure you knew.’ He pointed further down the bank, to a stool and a net. ‘That’s me.’ He tapped his chest. ‘Colin.’

The Sage tried to focus. ‘You’re not a Sage?’

Colin shook his head. ‘I’m not any sort of herb. I work in a Tinsel factory. This is my annual leave. I just thought you might not have seen the notices of this booklet of rules and I didn’t want you to have any hassle.’

The Sage looked at his broken stool, his ruined clothes, his prize rod that was even now floating towards the weir. ‘Yeah, well, thanks.’ He stood up. ‘You don’t, you know, want any of my insights?’

Colin scratched his chin and then brightened. ‘Where’s the best pitch to catch the carp?’

The Sage scrabbled up the bank and righted his stool. ‘Here. And I ain’t moving. Now sod off.’

this has been written in response to the latest #writephoto prompt

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The Triangulation Of Superheroes #novemberwritingchallenge

This is written for D Wallace Peach’s November Writing Challenge

‘Hi, Bat, you okay to take a call?’

‘Who is it, Alfred?’

‘The Mayor of Gotham. Sounds a bit angsty.’

‘He’s always angsty. Put him on.’

The Bat smoothed his cape and noticed a tear with annoyance. You just couldn’t get a decent cape these days. A couple of conflagrations, maybe a small Armageddon and pfft! You’re off to Bat About Town again.

‘Hi,’ the Bat recognised the nasal congestion that distinguished the mayor from the normally aspirated. ‘That you, Batman?’

‘Mr Mayor? How’s Gotham? My spies tell me it’s still predominantly crime free and peaceful.’

‘Indeed so.’

The Bat waited and then said, ‘I sense a ‘but’ coming…’

‘Better than a butt kicking.’ The speaker laughed then coughed and finally rather too obviously spat.

It was a different voice but another familiar one. ‘You on the line too, Chief Blue? My lucky day. How can I help Gotham’s finest?’

‘Well…’The Mayor hesitated and the Bat tapped his gloved hand on his rippling thighs. ‘Shall I go first, Chief?’

‘It’s you who’s go the problem, Mayor.’

‘It’s everyone’s problem Chief.’

‘I think it really is yours.’

The Bat began to interrupt when the Mayor said, ‘Look, Batman, it’s the peace bit. That’s the issue.’

‘How so Mayor? It’s what you always wanted. You made it plain you’d done with constant battles on your streets and in your skies and if I couldn’t bring about peace then you’d have to downgrade my bat-rating – there was some talk of bringing in other Avengers.’

‘That was never serious, Batman and anyway you did what we asked, that’s true. Only it’s no use.’

The Chief made a sort of snorting noise. ‘It’s great. C’mon Mayor, admit it.  Since the Bat finished his contract and moved on, all the misbegotten misfits who’d inhabited the sewers and junk yards and alleys have gone too.’

‘Exactly,’ said the Mayor, ‘and now your fat and living the good life. Look, it’s been fine for you and yours, cruising about, looking good but tourism’s down, hospitals are closing and the construction industry is barely functioning. Throw in the closures of hardware stores, gunsmiths, Gentlemen’s lycra outfitters, car repair shops, rocket boot makers and spotlight silhouette artists… and you name it, we’re struggling. We had a Bat-based economy and now we have a business mutiny that is ready to explode.’

Batman sighed. He’d warned them. ‘I’m sure your economy will rebalance itself. Given time.’

‘Exactly,’ said the Chief. ‘Time.’

‘That’s precisely what I don’t have, Chief Blue. If I was you I’d enjoy your indolence, because it could be coming to a brutally short ending. Arianna Dove pips me in the upcoming election, she’ll get rid of you as fast as ever the Bat did for the Cat. She’s commissioned a poll that purports to show the only reason there was so much crime here was because Batman was here. Her take is Batman was just setting himself to be shot down so he could then do the shooting down, and so on. And all the conspiracy theorists are saying I profited from all those growth businesses.’

‘Well you did Mayor.’ The Bat felt tired. He hated politics.

‘That’s not the point, Batman. Can you help?’

The Bat flicked open his contacts list. ‘I can give you a number.’

‘But I called you on the hotline. I kept it going just in case.’

‘You don’t need me in Gotham. Call this number, tell them I gave you their number and explain and they’ll soon have things back in order.’

‘Who am I calling?’ The Mayor sounded suspicious.

‘The Joker. He coordinates all the criminals and crackpots. He’ll sort out some unpleasant crime and once I get the call I will come and clean things up.’

There was a short silence before the Chief said, ‘It was before my time, Batman, when you first appeared but this isn’t how it worked then, is it?’

The Mayor spoke before the Bat could reply. ‘Sometimes Blue, you say the silliest things.’

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The October Garden Part 2

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And another bit of poetry

Another poem based on a famous verse, treated with total disrespect. Do let me know what you think

How Do I Love You?

(Sonnets From The Portuguese XLIII, Elizabeth Barrett Browning: number 25)

How do I love you? Let me count the ways.

I love you when the mundane morning chorus

Of the prattling radio awakes us

And you mine the duvet likes it’s the End of Days.

I love you when you leave me at the station

To walk home in the rain, dripping clothes and oaths.

I love you for understanding what no one else knows

In my silences and wordless impatience.

I love you for laughing at oft-told stories

Never querying my many variations.

I love you for ignoring my aberrations

And allowing me my unworthy glories.

And if grief comes to me, dripping slow

I will love you more than you will ever know.


 

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A Life In The Day… #writephoto

‘So Albertine Mayfly, any moment now it will be dawn on your Big Day and…’

‘My only day.’

‘Well, that’s true but…’

‘Though I suppose that’s merely the average, so some Mayflies may pop their clogs earlier and some go on to day two. That would be something.’

‘True, but our viewers are hoping for a really Big Day for you, Bertie… can I call your Bertie?’

‘I suppose. I mean I’ve only been up and about for an hour or so and I’ve not had much time to think about diminutives, what with hair and makeup calls, the…’

‘Hair?’

‘Well, strictly it was wing tints, curlers for the proboscis and some antennae crimps but that’s a bit of a mouthful….’

‘Quite. So as we count down to dawn on this fiery morn, what…’

‘That’s very good. Rhyming dawn with morn. Was that scripted or spontaneous?’

‘Scripted.’

‘Oh. Well, still well done to who thought of it. Who was it?’

‘Jason.’

‘Go Jas!’

‘Can we get back to your plans for Your Day. That’s why the Spring Watch Live! audience will be tuning in. How do you intend starting off?’

‘Well… and Jas would approve I’m sure… I’ve not had much time to think about it….’

‘Ok…’

‘But I thought I might have a go at painting.’

‘Painting?’

‘Well, yes, after all this sunrise is sublime, isn’t it? I’ve never seen one like it.’

‘No, well you wouldn’t have would you…’

‘Oh very droll. Yes if I can capture this abundant radiance…’

‘Aren’t you being a touch optimistic?’

‘Why? Oh gosh, is it going to rain? I’d not thought about that.’

‘No. I mean I don’t know what the weather holds. I was thinking how hard painting will be for you… a mayfly.’

‘I know I’ve not had many lessons…’

‘Any…’

‘Exactly…’

‘And you have feet designed to grip stalks.’

‘Now I talked that through with Sharon – lovely girl if a touch orange…’

‘Who’s Sharon?’

‘Well, she’s Jas’ squeeze… aw don’t they make a nice couple? Anyway she did my makeup and she said she knows this really good guy, very reasonable, out Romford way, who’s done her boobs and butt and says he could easily fix me up with a couple of digits and opposable thumbs by lunch time. So I’m booked in.’

‘Plastic surgery?’

‘Corporeal enhancements actually. He’s going to retint my wings at the same time.’

‘You can’t spend your whole day under the knife just to squeeze in a quick daub by the time your done. It’s not natural.’

‘Oh I see. You want to stereotype me do you? Burden me with all your mammalian prejudices. You expect me to buzz about, find a mate, shag them on some stalk while you film us at it, give birth to a few eggs and snuff it. Do you know how much energy loss that shagging involves? If I skip that part I’ve a better than evens chance of enjoying a day two.’

‘But that’s how you’re designed. That’s not stereotyping, that’s the natural order.’

‘Oh get you. If we’re playing the natural order game, you should be out hunting and gathering and your missus nurturing rather you posing in front of a camera while she’s enjoying a sweaty hour of downward facing dog to Seb’s upward pointing polecat at the local yoga class.’

‘How do you know that…’

‘Sharon told me. The point is, it’s alright for you to move on, spend your day ordering your people about but not me. I’m to remain forever stuck doing the same old same old. Well, wise up, Bub. We’re taking control over our lives. No more of this temporal hegemony fixing me to a Day’s action, no more of this May Fly. From now on it’s Will Fly where I want and when I want.’

‘Have you finished?’

‘Yes, I suppose.’

‘And did you read the contract?’

‘Contract?’

‘The bit where it commits you to acting as directed.’

‘No…’

‘Didn’t your agent explain?’

‘I haven’t had time to hire an agent.’

‘That’s because you’ve wasted all your time with Sharon. Look the sun is up. Just fly over to the pond and check out the talent.’

‘Does it say I have to shag?’

‘No, but you’d be the first not to.’

‘And if I make it to day two, could I maybe have a go at painting.’

‘I’ll raise it with the team. Ok?’

‘Oh alright.’

‘And there he goes, embracing his one big day…’

‘Unless I make it through..’

‘…Following the paths laid down by his ancestors over millennia…’

‘Unless I get to do some painting…’

‘And now we will take a short break. When we come back, we will take time to study the fascinating reproductive cycle of the Mayfly…’

‘Pervert…’

This was written in response to Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt

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Poems, poems

Another poem based on a famous verse, treated with total disrespect. Do let me know what you think

Foreign Is Quite Ghastly

(Home Thoughts, From Abroad, Robert Browning)

Oh to be in England

Rather than ‘abroad’

To say travel broadens the mind

Is really quite absurd.

It’s dusty here, and full of smells

Against which the most robust rebels

And, God, the din the locals make

And don’t get me on what they boil and bake.

I’ll gift a kidney if you’ll just allow

Me back to England. Now!

The birds they have hereabouts

Have beady eyes and beaks of steel

And I really must confess my doubts:

These evil beasts cannot be real?

Back home in dear old Blighty

Our fluff balls are cute and flighty

And fill my soul with careless rapture.

Hearts should sing, they shouldn’t rupture.

I’ve got my ticket, I’m on my way

Back to England’s green gold shores

I’m done with ‘foreign’, outdone my stay

Take me home, to know-all bores

To potholed roads and warm flat beer

Just promise me please: get me outta here!

the pack dog….
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