A Recommendation

My good friend Paul Waring has a new WordPress blog. He writes about himself:

“I began writing poems again in 2016 after a long period of not writing due to the demands of my career as a clinical psychologist. Quite unexpectedly, my creative mojo returned after the shock of discovering that several files of my poetry up to 1996 had gone missing. The initial sadness and frustration has long since worn off and has been replaced by a sense of being lucky because the mojo seems keen to make up for lost time.”

You can check out his writing here:

https://waringwords.wordpress.com

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Currently Reading: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

I’ve decided to move my ‘Currently Reading’ posts here to my main blog page to make it easier to leave comments and interact with you lovely people. Life is currently busy and I find I have too little time, or am I not using my time wisely? When the sun shines it’s difficult not to be outside and this past month has been unseasonably dry in SW Wales. The earth in the vegetable beds looks dusty and the asparagus which held so much promise of abundant deliciousness has only partially fulfilled its potential. Ah well, what will be etc.

So my ‘Currently Reading’ is actually a ‘Just Read’. I have to own up and confess but it’s worth stepping back a week to bring you up to date. ‘Into the Wild’ by Jon Krakauer is the story of lone wanderer Chris MacCandless who attempted to fulfil his dream of living in the wilds of Alaska in 1992. Sadly the adventure ended in starvation and death four months later but the author has taken enormous trouble to dispel some of the myths and untruths about MacCandless’s last days.

Krakauer intersperses the narrative with his own solo Alaskan climbing expeditions which in themselves are useful comparisons to MacCandless’s experiences and also cracking good tales of bravery and endurance. Some might say these personal touches are padding in what would otherwise by a rather short book but for me they made the whole complete.

Have you seen the 2007 movie? I have not, but it’s on the ‘To Watch’ list. Or have you visited Bus 142? If ever there was a destination worth trekking to.

I was inspired to write a poem during the reading of this book but it was also based on a hike I made last year to The Channels in Virginia, USA. You can read ‘Tracks’ on my Imagined America blog:

https://imaginedamerica.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/tracks/

Here’s another poem by Ellie22 directly inspired by the book:

https://www.writeoutloud.net/public/blogentry.php?blogentryid=59878

Imagine please that I am blind

Imagine please that I am blind
Describe your home, life and mind
The colours, spices, faces, sounds
To me are joys that lie unfound

For I may never walk upon your land
Might never get to hold your hand
To kiss your cheek or eat your bread
So please, I’m blind, need to be led

Tell me of the native trees, the birds
The streams, the songs you’ve heard
Show me pots of steaming food and
Crowded streets with smells imbued

There’s more to words than just some ink
Please make me want to think and drink
Your culture, costumes, gods and more
This online world we walk to open doors

The water, wind and air we breathe
Is ours to share until we leave
Respect to you my fellow friend
Best wishes, hope and peace I send

tailenders

up here looking down
over this our river valley
the old toll bridge
closed to traffic
some forty years now
we watched with wonder
the new flyover rise on stilts
bridging the decades
concrete and wood cousins
side by side in tidal drifts
not a mile apart

the time frame paused
ebbed and flowed

like us kids in long grass
and short summer shorts
sporting green knee legs
bright orange pushbikes
young dreams chalk marked
one part baby boomer
one part generation x
harking back to the once was
cycling onwards without purpose
still up here looking down
waiting for something to happen

 

Fly-over23322

Axehorn and Olwen

Axehorn, cast out from his village, had returned
He stole away Cornweld’s woman to the mountains
Hid his prize away inside a rock and timber bothy
Gorse, heather and bracken had sealed the cleft
On a perilous ledge where men wouldn’t follow

They had passed the summer feasting on wild berries
And on the love that began to flow between them
Furtive and frightened at first in young Olwen’s eyes
Impetuous and persuasive to bold Axehorn’s own
She was to him his stalked deer, captured and tamed

As Cornweld before had stolen her from the Welsh clan
That bunch of ragged ruffians up raiding from the south
Inching their thieving way around the lakes and tarns until
Cornweld’s men circled them near Thorstanes Watter
Staving in heads and running through with long knives

In time the days had grown shorter, the nights longer
With the onset of winter the hunting retreated lower
Seeking out new grazing on wood edge and river bank
Leaving Axehorn and Olwen alone in their eyrie nest
Clutching each other tight for warmth after dark

She desired to leave, he insisted they should stay
To wait out the winter, for him to hunt in secret
Keeping out of sight of Cornweld and his men
But the prey grew scarce as the season wore on
Hungry they scattered and later were watchful

Axehorn stayed away longer with each passing week
Chasing the dwindling herd through valley and fold
Forgetting young Olwen wrapped up in skins on high
Shivering and cursing her lot and Axehorn’s eyes
Until one day, mid-winter, Axehorn returned in haste

A yearling buck slung broad across his shoulders
He found fair Olwen froze to the bone, half buried
In white powderous snow so soft and cloudlike
As once were her breasts in his roughhewn hands
And her thighs against his more muscular own

Confused at the stiffness of her dead body’s frame
Afraid she was brittle, would snap without due care
Axhorn cursed the gods and raised up a great fire
Dragged poor Olwen to warm and thaw by his side
Stripping her clothing like bark, exposing her flesh

The flames resurrecting back some form of life
Made limp the utter stiffness that had fused her
In suspension, on the ledge, between two worlds
She was once more supple, pliable to his lips
He kissed and held and clawed and spat and raged

Through a blizzard of swirling dreams, time frozen
Like their love, their fate, his beard on her cheeks
Axehorn lay with Olwen and forgot to eat or drink
Within the bothy, upon the mountain, here on high
He vowed to wrap her warm and keep her safe

in front of rothko

i saw a man crying in front of rothko

in a room that was very empty –

 

the gallery attendant turned away

fiddled with his kandinsky cufflinks

muttered obsequiously as if

diffuse ambient light filled the space

between them

 

“if you are only moved by color relationships

then you miss the point”

 

outside the crying man’s confusion

orange, red, yellow, light orange

were but cacophonous caprices –

untamed plains of discontinuity in

a burnished mirage

 

then why do you cry? I asked

is it because you see your soul

upon the canvas

laid bare?

 

“i am interested in expressing

the big emotions –

tragedy, ecstasy, doom.”

 

the gallery attendant clicked and scraped

impatient black leathered heals –

coughed politely and

pointed to his wristwatch

in a room that was very empty

 

in front of rothko

 

mark-rothko-wallpaper-art

Art Credit: Mark Rothko No.5/No.22. Quote: Mark Rothko

Aime-moi ne m’aime pas

without holding his hand
she taught him how to love art
on the steps of the Sacré-Cœur
amongst the anciens échos du Louvre
and behind the shutters of her camera

she posed with backstreet hoardings
pencils poised in Le Jardins des Tuileries
shapes and colours from life abstracted
Miró, Chagall, Matisse, Jean Debuffet
Métro, tabac, café bar et brasserie

in blue duffel bags, morning boulangeries
pain aux chocolat flakes and Yoplaits
her father’s Leica in smooth leather case
her sketchpad, his notebook, M. Leconte
the weather warm, reasonable for spring

yet her coldness was her weirdness
between the sheets he failed to excite
his passions artistiques between her legs
she cried in bouts,  made him feel guilty
left no choice but to smoke on the balcony

he kept the photographs as aide mémoires
the Pompidou pictures and Tour Eiffels
and the following year he returned alone
to the same hotel in the Rue de Montholon
a room with no view, bins and brick yards

and the sound of lovers through thin walls
the bed frame banging, mattress squeaking
mon amour, mon amour, tu es mon amour
he is tearing the pictures, ripping up the past
casting them out into air and the alley trash

“I loved her un peu, beaucoup, passionnément,
à la folie, pas du tout…”

2

 

in a maelstrom

we are behind the screen hiding

and your lips are very wet

and when we kissed I drowned

and my lungs filled with your fluid

we were lipids confused together

chemically ambient

up to our necks in duplicity

fondling the fibres of each other’s

upholstered limbs

sweetie rappers on fairy dust

snorting sexual desires up inside

four pupils and nostrils flared

ahhhhhh!! the expectation

the kiss of your blissfulness

the wet of your lipstick drool

your nipples are for suckling pigs

your crackling for carnivores

and yes

there were times when it almost happened

out beyond the blue that filled your canvas

or the hallowed shapes that haunted your studio

lines permanently crosshatched

perfunctorily placed with deft indecision

spit spat and splattered upon

those wet licks that ran down the fusions  

of my spine and emptied me whole

in a quivering

in a maelstrom

Elaine

My father was thirty eight when he died

I was barely seven

Mother took me to Spain to ease the pain

Help the healing and never forget

His death had crushed her heart

Part of mine too at the time

The soft white sand slipped through our toes

The cloudy night covered the stars

Transformed them into lost diamonds in the dark

My sunburnt skin itchy beneath my souvenir shirt

 

And then the rain came straight from the heavens

Her sad face and wet hair a sight I would never forget

I found a tiny shell and she held my hand

The castaway clasped between our palms

A momento mori of what was to come

For mother and son

 

For years after she would take me walking in the rain

Walking in the rain with Elaine we would sing

Just like the song

The tiny shiny shell always came too

Clutched between our dripping hands

Sometimes warm

Sometimes frozen

 

One day she tried to wake me from my teenage dreams

But I was growing tired of walking with Elaine in the rain

So she went on her own

And never returned

 

After searching for several days they found her body

She was bloated and floating face down in the local river

Partly wedged under a fallen tree

Somewhat hidden from public view

There was rumour it was murder

But I knew just how much her life had been blighted by grief

Since Dad had passed away exactly ten years before

 

We drove to the Chapel of Rest in Uncle Don’s white van

And there she was

All peaceful looking in her long wooden box

Her hands folded neatly across her chest

Like a sleeping martyr I guessed

I reached into my pocket and found the tiny shiny shell

I kissed it gently for a lingering moment and lovingly

 

Leaning over the coffin pushed it under her cold fingers

Safely wedged in the palm of her right hand

The hand that held mine when we went walking in the rain together

 

Here

Take this Mum, I whispered

And when you meet with Dad

Wherever that might be

Take a walk in the sunshine

And maybe think of me