Publishing Plans (2)

 

Friends:

I’m sorry I’m not here much these days. Fact is, I just can’t cope with more than 200 emails/blogs every day, I just can’t.

A nasty stomach flu turned nastier with complications and after three falls in quick succession I was admitted to hospital where my blood pressure was stabilised and I was rehydrated. I was and am listed as a fall risk so now I’m the proud possessor of a walking frame. Yippee!

Anyway, I intend going on, I have no choice. My annual sub to WordPress is due soon and I will renew for another year, and try to be here from time to time.

Despite the setbacks I want to let you know I’ve published three more books since ‘natural selection’ and assure you (modestly) they make good reading. Have a look when you get a minute.

ŸOf Land, Sea & Sky

A collection of travel and expat experiences,

observations, jots, strained relationships

and amusing and awkward moments

With an introduction by Benjamin Keele

(ISBN 978-1-387-83252-1)

 

ŸThe Longing of Elizabeth Martin and other stories

A collection of 11 short stories

(ISBN 978-1-387-93602-1)

 

Ÿanother geography

A second (and final) collection of poems

With an introduction by Jon Michael Willey

(ISBN 978-0-359-02914-3)

Lulu Press

http://www.lulu.com

 

moments with Keats

tread soft round mossy trees
where apples sweeten and hazels swell
walk a field fumed with poppies
and hear swallows over say farewell

on a peak between two spreads
turn from grey Atlantic’s fathomed heart
and face the cryptic blue Pacific
we’ve yet to delve and chart

be still and listen to sweet music
on Attic vase simple strung
and don’t regret the lovers never kiss
they are perfected and forever young

raise a glass full of the warm south
the night is tender and the moon is grand
we’ll drink to Beauty Truth and Love
and Peace to touch us with a magic hand

theatre in the round

without a defining arch or separating steps
we’re meant to see ourselves as we are
always with our backs to someone as we perform
our hands and faces interactive entering and going out
through the audience or rising from a mechanic wonderpit
a cauldron blood of bat limb of toad heart of constrictor
stirred with a magic eagle feather and a chant
foretelling spectacular rise and fall
or alleging from imaginary battlement murder most foul
arguments of salesmen who live beyond final lines

we’ve never been anywhere else
but in this indistinguishable from real
vehicle for looks and notice pathos and derision
these stuffed bears of happiness and tragedy
making us think so to speak

scripts delivered with hesitations
what? er well you know maybe
rehearsed vernacular verisimilitude
but they’d like us to think not
the best the self-appointed critic at the interval bar
comes up with while downing something on the rocks
and making smutty asides to the director’s partner

we’re at dinner in the second act and have invited decency
the poor relation in want of a feed at the holidays
who has come in cheap clothes and with toys that don’t need batteries
the children kick in corners even before he leaves
we seat him down the table where he’s hidden by the flowers
but can later claim without a hint of staginess he was there
and we did our bit for him

we’ve moved past electric shock sleep deprivation and cleansing
to a secular blur that’ll soon come clear
a voice rising from skeletons in every corner of the house
with authentic timbre

in sacred woods

he grows among bark and screech
and other natural prayers of the dark
a deliberate root
with the will and skills for wilderness

all make-up scrubbed from the heart
his hold is surer than the collar
once rounding him to other intention
another stray safely in the fold

ash on hands and earth under nails
he wears the anointing of place
and in the fire he’s built for company
animals are born to burn as revelation

random shapeshift ghosts
glowing a dream geometry

monkey see monkey

while i was under
they flashed the whole thing on a screen
from earliest deep till
what’s that phrase? kingdom come
it’s all in the noodle (subject to retrieval)
‘n’ kept whispering in my ear
there’d be no pain when i woke
‘n’ i’d be sure to like the changes
strange how i was out don’t know how long
‘n’ yet could hear ’em

ma doesn’t know how long either
but says now i look like something
others pulled the feathers off
‘n’ she has a point even if she stretches
they did remove a lot of hair
‘n’ it won’t grow back shaggy
cool most places ‘specially round the you know
but i’m warming to the idea of
distinguished sexy savvy

i saw myself in the river
‘n’ there’s no scar on the skull
no marks on my jaws
my legs wow! arty as a giraffe’s
‘n’ a straight back
they used lights to do it

pa says i’m degenerate
‘n’ go trapeze on someone else’s branches
haven’t the heart to tell him
my swinging days are over
if replays on the video are true

and truth they said as revelation
is what they ‘n’ i are after
every one ‘n’ every thing has a name
is a presence delights in its spirit
earns a place or goes down
stripy’s a zebra (i like the sound of that)
black in your face wriggler a mamba
‘n’ the light felt as much as seen that drives
dark away ‘n’ makes the sky pink ‘n’ the rocks
gold a while is dawn

they confided
i crave beyond necessities
fruit from further trees (the first misjudged)
should i take their word for it?
all i gotta do is stamp my authority give orders
‘n’ they’ll bring exotic fowl served on Meissen
pour claret in golden bowl
paint my nails the colour of parrot cheek
sweeten my face with powder
(must distance myself from ma ‘n’ pa)
wear cotton with a Y down there
to keep the chill off willy
‘n’ for propriety even if i don’t mean it

i already practise gossip ‘n’ backbiting
know the tools of war
i’ve licence to kill anything in my path
or just for the hell of it
adaptation’s not half bad
when minders give you a leg up

there was one thing i’m not sure i got
just before they brought me round
they said headmasterish ‘we’d rather not
have to come back so we’re counting on you
remember you have choices’

naked

i lop topknot posturing
and shave make-believe bare

undo the weave of martyrdom
and pare the tragedy of broken nail

i’m done with jewel-encrusted cuffs
dark bespoke and self-inflicted shoes

and rip asunder the numbered shirt
the agenda halter and macho cup

wipe the box of vitamins grin
Cheshire cats are for Wonderland

step out of sweats and gingerly peel
trying too hard to look young spandex

i let addenda slouch and swing
and skeleton mercifully heave

naked i came and naked leave

In the monastery: pilgrimage and misconception

Knock in County Mayo in the West of Ireland is a place of pilgrimage ever since the Virgin Mary appeared there, or so it’s believed, in 1879.
Each year, Father Celestine – known with affection to the other monks as Kate because of his patent leather Cuban heels, his mincing steps and dramatic gestures – organised a two-day trip to Knock for about 30 boys of the school, the students considered more religiously inclined. Kate booked a bus for the trip and arranged overnight accommodation. The selected students were more than glad to pay all expenses, they escaped the confines of school for two days.
One year, the pilgrimage went badly. A few days after Kate and the boys got back to school, the abbot of the monastery, Dom Bonaventure, received a letter from a stall holder in Knock complaining the boys stole prayer books, scapulars, rosary beads, statuettes of the Virgin, small bottles of holy water, sandwiches and bars of chocolate from numerous stalls. The theft of chocolate and (overpriced) sandwiches was obvious enough; the theft of the other items was for the adolescent hell of it. Dom Bonaventure, rightly, passed the letter to Father Douglas, Head of School, and asked him to deal with the matter. Douglas, a stern man more feared than liked, was furious and embarrassed, and summoned Kate to his office and demanded an explanation. Kate denied all knowledge of what happened, and when the 30 or so students were summoned they, too, pleaded innocence. Douglas ordered a search of the boys’ lockers but nothing incriminating was found, the boys were a few steps ahead, and Douglas had no choice but to write a letter of apology to the stall holders. He enclosed a cheque for £100 by way of compensation. Nothing more was heard.
The following year, Kate decided a one-day pilgrimage was sufficient, easier to supervise, less risk for stall holders and less time for students to commit silly misdemeanours, and went ahead and booked a bus. After the booking, he went to Father Douglas as he was obliged to do for official approval.
‘You what?’ Douglas said.
‘Booked a bus but not overnight accommodation,’ Kate said. ‘One day will be enough, less expense for the students and less chance of anything going wrong.’
Douglas said, ‘Father Celestine, you don’t seem to understand. After last year’s embarrassment and humiliation for this school and for the monastery there will be no more pilgrimages to Knock.’
‘No?’
‘No, never again, never, and I’m surprised you think I would sanction it; frankly, I’m very surprised.’
Kate looked put out and his discomfort pleased Father Kevin, Deputy Head of School, who was sitting next to Father Douglas. Kevin disliked Kate and any setback or rebuke was welcome.
‘That was last year, Father Douglas,’ Kate said, ‘water under the bridge. We can forget the silliness and start over.’
‘No, we can’t forget, Father Celestine, and there will be no starting over. The students certainly haven’t forgotten. Are you aware what they refer to the pilgrimage as?’
‘No,’ Kate lied.
Father Douglas turned to Father Kevin and said, ‘Father, would you mind telling Father Celestine what the students call the pilgrimage?’
Kevin was more than happy to and said, ‘Father Celestine, they call it the pilfermage.
Haven’t you heard them laugh and say pilfermage?’
Kate wouldn’t give Kevin the satisfaction of admission and said, ‘No, I haven’t heard that,’ and threw his hands in the air.
‘That’s it then,’ Father Douglas said, ‘no more going to Knock.’
Kate tried to play a feeble last hand. ‘But I’ve already booked the bus,’ he said.
‘Then you need to cancel it, Father Celestine, there’ll be no more buses and no more Knock,’ Father Douglas said. He added as he usually did when a meeting was over, ‘I now have other matters to attend to.’
Father Kevin was delighted Kate had been put down and couldn’t wait to get to the monastery to share the news with other monks. He could have chosen to whisper the entire time but decided sign language was more interesting, and more to his intention. His first communication was a whispered ‘news’ and in a flash there was a gathering of about a dozen peers. News is always welcome in a monastery. The gathering waited for Kevin to whisper more but he chose to sign. He extended his arms straight in front and in the air inscribed a figure 8. Right away, everyone in the gathering knew he was referring to Father Celestine. Then he brought his hands in front of his chest and rolled them over each other rapidly several times to indicate wheels, and all understood. And then he raised his arms in front of his face and crossed them in an X. Confusion and consternation on every face as Kevin hoped there would be, and whispers of, ‘How can it be?’ and, ‘Impossible!’ One monk even blessed himself. No one in the gathering remembered it was time for Father Celestine to take the students to Knock for the annual pilgrimage, everyone interpreted as the wicked Kevin hoped they would that Kate had a miscarriage.

old man & city

red lights green lights
he reads as the rhythms of his neuroses
their permissions and refusals
smother the urges to collide

he knows the history of the tall ships
that blew in on self-serving winds
anchored attitudes of square-toe infallibility
fashioned the learning curves of wild orchid to well bred
and misty big cat and fish to icon

he smiles at mute escalators and the catchiest displays
softening the penalties of clustering
smiles again at the how much? exchanges
keeping everyone on speaking terms

he strolls and stops to look at things
strolls again stops again
they’re young and serious in the right clothes
and with hurry in their feet
he smiles (old habit) and lets them pass
they head on and up

Lucky Plaza in the middle of it all
on the good side of strongback Sumatra
no earthquake no tsunami
lucky

above him is the lofty city
the ice giant
of long hours for mason and carpenter
hammering hammering
vertical imperatives